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Tetrius
05/15/2006 9:47 AM

The minotaur stronghold of Kraetos stood strong and proud over the eastern boarder of Etalo, beyond which lay the catmen desert tribes. The catmen also had a fortress a few miles into the desert, called Jikalab; the Mountain. The two forts had different architects and races guarding it but both had a similar purpose: to keep the other race out of the border.
The minotaurs are strong warriors and masterful smiths, artisans and builders. Their cities were large and plentiful; filled with statues, gardens, bustling agoras full of exotic and outlandish goods, smithies and workshops turned out goods on a daily basis and all were surrounded by large, white walls of marble. The minotaur's themselves were peace loving beings who wanted nothing more than another flagon of wine and a good spot to sunbathe, yet their hatred of catmen fueled them to constantly marshal and equip massive armies to try and drive them away from the oasises of the desert.
The catmen are a sophisticated race and rather strong themselves. They were organised into individual tribes and clans that watched over a certain oasis so that their traders could find water for their camels. They traded with the Humans of the east, Orcs from the south and the Elves from the north, as such they possessed valuable and rare goods like silk, platinum, ivory and incense. They were not very welcoming however; life was hard enough in the desert as it was without others making it harder. They have mastered the ways of assassination and guerilla warfare and this proved useful in their endless wars with the Dihalalom, the Horned Devils.
How the war began is unknown, it was known that the two were once firm allies and fought together in the War of Illyriam, where the Elves were beset by demons from the sea and were in desperate need of aid.
It seems that after a century or two of peace, the two eventually started to try and outdo each other. The minotaurs began building grand cities and inviting the Shahs and Sultans of the catmen for visits, whereas the catmen began trading in rare and exotic goods, effectively becoming one of the richest races in the world.
Finally it just broke out into war.
Now the two are starting to move against each other, minotaur against catman, spear against scimitar, horn and hoof against claw and fang.

[Edited by Tetrius on Monday, May 15, 2006 10:00 AM]

[Edited by Tetrius on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 12:38 AM]

Tetrius
05/15/2006 9:58 AM

To create a character, please post a brief summary of your character like so:

Name:
Race:
Gender:
Age:
Weapons and Armour:
Any Magical Abilitues:
Class (Warrior, mage, priest, clerk etc):
Appearance (Include clothes, distinguishing features and the like):
Personality:
Skills (Languages, swimming, cooking etc):
History:
Anything else essential:
Who the character is fighting with (Minotaurs or catmen:

Then write a brief summary of your character being recruited by your chosen race and his/her thoughts about it all. You may also meet other characters here.

[Edited by Tetrius on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 12:40 AM]

Tetrius
05/26/2006 12:37 AM

Theocritus stood outside his billet and watched as new recruits, mostly snotty calves by the look of them, were marched into the blacksmith and armourer's tent to get their new equipment. Theocritus felt the sun beat on his bare shoulders, a seemingly new sun from the catmen deserts, and sweat glistened on his fur. The damned heat was one of the first things that you got used to here, not to mention the screaming NCO's and officers. The minotaur stretched and sat back down on his stool, polishing his shield until he could see his face in it. A small group of orcs were gathered nearby, chatting madly in their harsh tongue and seemingly betting over a bunch of red stones, possibly rubies. Theocritus understood some of what they were saying but it didn't interest him.

The first catmen raid was interesting to say the least, Theocritus thought them pushovers afterwards though they looked more like peasants than soldiers. Their faces were covered with black material and they were armed with rusty scimitars and short bows made from looked suspiciously like minotaur horns (though after inspection they turned out to be goats'). They were probably nothing more than either raw recruits or angry locals.

He snorted and flicked an ear in distaste. Catmen and their ways.
He picked up his spear and went into his tent to lay them by his bed. Then a horn sounded for lunch. As Theocritus walked out with bowl and spoon, he noted four humans boiling rice over a fire. They were dressed in a funny armour that seemed to be composed mostly of small iron plates and bamboo. Their swords were long and curved, more effective at slashing than stabbing certainly and one held a long spear with a curved blade at the end. They were silent and one played a small woodwind instrument quietly, its song soft and soothing in the harsh enviroment where the fort was situated.

The meal itself was stew served with small rolls of bread. There was wine if you had some coin and goat's milk or water if you didn't. Theocritus had long sine gambled his away and had to make do with a cup of plain water. It wasn't until you have spent some time in the desert that you start to notice the taste of water. The chef was a fat minotaur with a greasy apron and small chubby fingers that looked like sausages, and he was currently pouring some stew into a new recruits bowl.
[I]Splotch![/I]
After a meal, there was a brief moment when soldiers were allowed to do their own thing, so Theocritus went the gym and tried to remain in shape.

[Edited by Tetrius on Sunday, May 28, 2006 8:08 AM]

Benjmn
05/27/2006 12:01 AM

Mattugur was bored and irritated.

He had thought that fighting for the minotaurs would involve attacking the catmen and taking their stuff. Not only had he gotten here after the only action that had occurred, but he had heard nothing about actually attacking the cats. He could not get rich sitting here. It was hot, the sun was too bright, his supply of booze was running low, and he had just lost a bet. Were he back home he would accuse the filthy little grubber of cheating, but that would start a fight, the minotaurs outnumbered them, and the minotaurs did not like fighting in the fort. They had made that clear to the few orcs he had seen going back home on his way here. Minotaur discipline had made them think the promise of loot was not worth the trouble.

So he sat back angrily glaring at the scrawny little cheat hoping to get a chance to give him what was coming to him. Fed up with the company, he hefted his greatclub and travel bag and moved away from the other orcs in search of a shady spot to nap in. There was nothing else to do in this sandpit, and all the bull's heads were making him hungry. Visions of steaming cow brain kept popping into his head when he looked at them, though the facts that these cattle were taller than he and could speak were disconcerting.

He walked around a building with a long line of young minotaurs outside it, and spied a shaded corner with sand piled up in it. Plopping down with his back to the wall, still gripping the club while propping it against the building and the ground, he promptly began snoring loudly.

[Edited by Benjmn on Saturday, May 27, 2006 11:22 PM]

teutonicknight
05/27/2006 4:34 PM

The fort of Jikalab was a rather lively place. All the hustle of everyone working to support an army was rather invigourating. The fletchers were at work supplying arrows for the bowmen. Armourers were repairing dents and holes in breastplates and helmets. Other smithies were forging new swords and spears. Everywhere you looked, you could tell that this was war. No doubt about it.

Ventuvius easily wound his way through the throng. He sought out peace and quiet. That was prime around here. He passed two warriors talking about how eager they were to fight the minotaurs and earn some battle scars. Perhaps even make a bracelet out of minotaur horn. Fools. Only a pure idiot looked forward to battle. Fighting was bad enough, but war was pure insanity. What good was going to come out of all this? Whatever. That wasn't Ventuvius' problem. He climbed a guard tower in the southern wall. The guard on duty looked at him, but when Ventuvius showed his badge of office, the guard let him stay.

Ventuvius leaned back against the tower wall. He closed his eyes and blocked out the sound of the fort below. The guard seemed nervous in the silence and eventually spoke, "I hear we're going to attack the minotaurs soon."

Ventuvius opened one eye and reguarded the guard.

"The scouting strike operation we held a few days back shows they're well-prepared, but still not fully organized. If we strike quickly we can catch them off-guard."

Ventuvius closed his eye again, "Then make your peace. If we merely assault their fort we're just going to be led like lambs to the slaughter. Hopefully the brass knows that. What we need to do is get some of that Dwarven powder and blast the mountain the fort sides up against. Drop the mountain on their heads. That'll force them out of the fort and into the desert. There we'll have the advantage of terrain. Don't expect such a brilliant plan from them, though. Get ready to climb the wall and get spitted on the end of a Minotaur horn."

The guard looked at Ventuvius and swallowed hard. He turned back around to play at keeping watch while praying to his god not to let him just die like that.

Marion
05/30/2006 6:23 AM

Ssarl stood before the Ventuvius high in the guard tower where he had rested. The guard who had before sought to converse with Ventuvius was in a slumber, not by his own laziness, but by the will of the old mystic who had cast a spell upon him. Ssarl leaned upon a tall staff of black wood which was adorned with many strange feathers and still he wore on his head that terrible Ram skull whose eyes were nothing more than gaping hollow pits, lidless and unblinking. Ssarl was blind but it seemed as if the eyes of that skull, stained black with the boiled blood of who knows what, gave him a vision beyond that of other mortals.

Silently, Ssarl regarded Ventuvius a while then with the raspy voice of an aged man, he spoke.

"Ventuvius.... I am Ssarl and yes I do know your name. For though I am blind the ancient spirits and sands of our blessed desert, reveal much to me."

He drew in a deep breath, and he leaned heavily upon his staff as if he could collapse at any moment. At first glance, Ssarl seemed like a frail old catman, hovering on the brink of death whose form could wither at the slightest breeze. But those who had lived enough years to witness Ssarl in battle, or those who have been unlucky enough to find themselves in his disfavour, knew that a most terrible power lay hidden under that tattered appearance.

"One does not need sight to smell the war that brims on the horizon.... like a terrible storm the battle looms over us and shall quench the thirsty sands of the desert. Not with rain shall the clouds of battle burst forth, but with blood... and with tears and I tell you the turth, the sand will drink it greedily. "

"For a battle like none other do I see in the future. And though our people have come into great strength, I fear the horned beasts, those loathsome devils shall have victory in the end... for I have foreseen it... "


"But the moon has also revealed a different path... One in which the catmen find victory,
and you Ventuvius are the one who is the key to unlocking that road and setting your people to the way of success. Will you hear more Ventuvius? Or have my old eyes yet decieved me... and you are not up to such a fate...."

teutonicknight
05/30/2006 9:36 PM

Ventuvius stood slowly. He walked over to the window of the guard tower and looked out across the sands of the desert, "I'm not sure I alone am capable of turning the tide of an entire war. Ssarl, I doubt not your talents. You are obviously one with strong connections to the spirits." Ventuvius looked down at the slumbering guard who was sure to get scolded severely for this, but that scolding will be but just the beginning of all the trouble the poor catman will see.

Ventuvius turned to face the seer who had come to see him and leaned back against the wall, "I have no desire to see the filthy minotaurs win this war. If there is some way that I can change the course of the future, I will do what I can. Though I still find it difficult to believe that I alone could hold such an influence over the outcome of the war."

Marion
05/31/2006 4:45 AM

Ssarl stay where he stood, not moving, nor turning his head to face Ventuvius when he moved toward the window. Again he spoke.

"Wars are won or lost before they are ever fought Ventuvius. It would not be the first time one alone changed the outcome of a battle. Nonetheless... this task will indeed be perilous and its achievment difficult in attaining. If, after hearing your charge, you still feel worthy of the task, then seek out my tent on the eastern edge of the city by this time tomorrow. "

"Now here is your task Ventuvius... listen well. The minotaurs have found a number of strong allies to aid them in their unjust deeds, not the least of which are the filthy orcs. These loathesome, prehistoric peons have little power of the mind but their brute strength on the front lines is well nigh unparalelled. It is this union of Minotaur and orc that threatens most our way of life and our victory."

"Therefore, we must drive a wedge between them and ensure that the orcs either leave the side of the minotaur or come to open war with them at our side. Here is how you shall accomplish this deed:

Their highest ranking general has a young son. He is just coming into his own and has only begun his military training, his name is Maurgrom. He is the general's only son and a much beloved personality of the minotaur city. You must steal into the city by night and slay maurgrom in a quiet yet most hideous manner. Not only that, but you must make it look as though it was the doing of the orcs who are encamped there. The general and all the city will at once be enraged and blame the orcs, who in their impatient unthinking rage will be offended and their wrath will drive them out or to war with the minotaur."

"How you accomplish this task I leave to you. For only by your stealth and cunning can such a deed be done. But like I said, it will not be easy, for Maurgrom is well guarded and the city well protected even for your skill. However, should you accept I still have gifts for you that may aid you in overcoming these challenges. Thus may you win this war for us before our brave warriors roar over the walls of Kraetos."

"Think on it a while Ventuvius... I will accept no answer straight away, but by this time tomorrow I will be waiting in my tent for you. Farewell."

Then Ssarl shuffled to the stairway and slowly made his way down from the tower, dissappearing amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. As soon as he had left the tower, the slumbering guard was loosed from the spell and slowly stirred awake, shaking his head he looked at Ventuvius.

"I... I must have fallen asleep.. forgive me it won't happen again... the heat... please don't tell my officers."

Tetrius
06/01/2006 8:26 AM

Theocritus was walking through the fort, his calves aching from the recent drill session (his leg muscles not his children for he had none) when he tripped over something green and smelly sleeping, half hidden in the sand.
"Oof," he snorted, blowing sand out of his nostrils, and gave the green lump a sharp kick, "Get up you disgusting lump!"
The creature as it turned out was an orc and it probably fancied a snooze in the shade as orcs like to do when there's nothing to kill. The filthy green piece of dried snot was probably asleep during drill as well, [i]and[/i] PT [i]and[/i] field craft.
Theocritus shuddered. He hated orcs; they were so dirty and smell like a cess pit with a dead body floating in it that had a bad case of nausea and couldn't hold it in.

Benjmn
06/01/2006 9:31 PM

Mattugur was awakened from his nap by a rude kick and shout. Thinking he was being attacked, he exploded up, spraying sand, some of which carried his particular fragrance, in all directions, and brought his greatclub into a two-handed grip. Blood rushed through his veins and the anticipation of at last getting to fight made him feel better than he had in days. When he saw it was just a big black minotaur, his excitement subsided into disgust and irritation.

"Can big clumsy minotaur not clomp around Mattugur? I come long way to help minotaur fight cats and minotaur not even let me nap when there no fight?"

[Edited by Benjmn on Thursday, June 1, 2006 9:34 PM]

Tetrius
06/02/2006 8:12 AM

"Then you should work like the rest of us," snorted the minotaur, getting up and brushing the sand of his person, "What do you think this is? A holiday camp?"
Theocritus calmed down and folded his arms.
"Listen, orc and listen well, if one of our commanding officers catches you napping whilst there is work to be done then they will place on night patrols for a week. Trust me, it is not fun."
With that he walked off to get his breastplate polished.

teutonicknight
06/02/2006 9:31 AM

Ventuvius gave the guard a menacing look, "Don't ever let it happen again." He turned and left the guard tower before the guard could respond. He lost himself in thought as he wound his way back to his room. He was a lieutenant in the military and thusly offered a room of his own. It was barely big enough for a bed, table and chair, and his dresser, but it was better than bunking down with fifteen other catmen.

Upon reaching his quarters, Ventuvius closed and locked the door. He opened his dresser and took out a sparkling tiara. It was the last thing he had to remind him of his lost love. Ventuvius laid down on his bed and held up the tiara to look at. If he were to succeed at the mission, then the orcs and minotaurs would slaughter each other. Many others would feel what he was feeling. Though, if he were to not take on the mission the catmen would all be wiped out. There never were any easy decisions in war. Kill or be killed, that was the nature of the beast.

Finally, after hours of pondering, Ventuvius replaced the tiara in his dresser and went back outside. The sun had set and most of the day's work was being finished up. Ventuvius would have to hurry to procure what he would need to infiltrate the minotaur stronghold. He knew that if he were to propose this mission it would be rejected, or handed to someone with more rank and less skill. So Ventuvius quietly and quickly went around procuring needed supplies.

Marion
06/02/2006 12:53 PM

Ssarl made his way out of the city to his tent which was placed on an outcropping of rock quite isolated from the rest of Jikalab. There were many totems and strange signs in the sands surrounding his tent. These totems varied in highth and often were topped with skulls of small desert animals or long bloody feathers and beads of varying sizes. Ssarl drew back the flap to enter and inside it would fare no better to a stranger. For odd herbs and bones hung in long strands from the ceiling in the tent and various furs were strewn about the ground as a type of flooring. One round table stood alone in the middle of the tent, but various crude shelves and smaller tables lined the outer walls of the tent and on them lay candles, runes and glyphs and black obs of unknown origin. There were also many ceramic jars large and small and small cages holding live rodents and reptiles. For some reason, despite hot hot the sun raged outside the tent, it was always quite cool inside. Though, there was no obvious method for cooling the tent and the only source of light inside were many candles.

Ssarl shuffled around his tent preparing special mixtures and poking those animals he was testing them on. After some hours a large fat catman of obvious high rank threw open the flap and strode into the tent as if he owned the place. The quiet serene of the mystic's house was at once broken. Ssarl did not turn to look at the man but continued with his work.

"Is it ready yet?" The newcomer barked.

"As always your manners fail to impress captain..." Ssarl hissed in reply. "Yes... it is ready."

He procured a small round glass container from one of his shelves and held it in the palm of his hand as he approached the captain, who reached for it greedily, but Ssarl drew his hand back.

"I don't have time for games old one, I'm a busy man." The captain said.

"Yet you will listen to my counsel." Ssarl replied."Coat the blades of your warriors with this poison. Be warned that this is no ordinary poison captain. With this, your warriors do not need to land a fatal blow on the enemy, but only need to wound them. For once this poison enters a wound, it will creep into the very bones of the enemy and fester and their wounds will refuse to heal. But not only that, this poison affects the mind as well as the body. It's victims will find great peril and fear and be driven mad from the torment the poison wreaks upon them. Use it sparingly, you need only a little for it to work its dark magic."

Then Ssarl held out his hand and the Captain only grunted as he snatched it and turned, immediately exiting the tent as he had entered. Ssarl shook his head at the disrespect but was content, knowing that his secret knowledge was being put to use against the minotaur.

[Edited by Marion on Friday, June 2, 2006 12:54 PM]

Tetrius
06/06/2006 10:18 AM

Theocritus was a tad surprised when he was ordered into the commander's office, in the shady part of the fort where the oasis it surrounded lay like a liquid saphire. Theocritus knocked sharply on the door, entered when he was bidded to, marches up to the commander's desk and saluted by banging his chest with his right fist.

"Sire," he said. The commander continued his paperwork for a bit and then gestured to a small padded seat, plundered from an old raid on a catman settlement. It was quite a nice seat, with midnight purple pillows and a gold trim. After a while the commander looked at Theocritus.

"How long have you been serving now, temnos?" asked the commander. Temnos was the second rank in the minotaur army, after nemnos and before chemnos. Theocritus has been a temnos for forty years now but has refused further promotion until he had actually taken part in a battle.

"Fifty years sire," replied Theocritus truthfully.

"So, you would admit to be being one of the senior soldiers here?"

"Certainly, sire. Barring the officers of course." The commander smiled.

"Good, then you can do a little task for me." The commander got up and went to a nearby closet, in which he got a small scroll with the High General's (his rank in Minotaur is Etik Sohtr) seal on it. "This," said the commander, "Just arrived this morning. As you should no, the Etik Sohtr's son, Maugrom, has just finished his academy training and is now an officer in the army. He has chosen to be put on the front lines as he was trained to do and fight here within this fort. As he is fresh from the academy he is, effectively, a green horn (a minotaur saying also used amongst the other races, including if somewhat grudgingly, catmen) and will be in need of someone to look out for him. As you've got a good rank on you and some experience in the army, you have been volunteered to fill this role.
"Should you do well, you may recieve a promotion and you will recieve a pay raise. I can't see where you can fail unless you just don't do as you're asked. If that is the case, you will get demoted and you will recieve a reduction in your salary. What do you say?"

Theocritus knew he had litle or no choice. "I will, sire," he said, "When will he arrive?"
The commander took a deep breath.

"I can't tell for sure, but he's definately going to be here by the Night of the Shattered Horn. You won't have to do much, by the way. Just show him where everything is and how things work and look out for him if he's in trouble. Right! That's all I wanted to talk to you about so you are dismissed. Off you go."

teutonicknight
06/07/2006 9:08 PM

As the sun rose over the horizon, Ventuvius looked through his pack once again. Nothing had changed since his last inventory. Perhaps he was just delaying in heading to the Seer's hut. Ventuvius couldn't say what, but something about Ssarl disquieted him. Sighing and picking up the pack, Ventuvius headed out. He brought the tiara and his most precious belongings with him just in case the fort was sacked by the time he returned.

Making his way through the streets of the fort proved an easy task this morning. It seemed that most people were lazy in getting up today. Ventuviuis didn't blame them. It was blazing hot outside. Ventuvius saw waves of heat rising from the sands and already was regretting having to walk all the way to Ssarl's place. No use crying over a journey not begun. Ventuvius walked on.

By the time Ventuvius reached Ssarl's place outside the fort he was completely exhausted. The heat got progressively worse as the day wore on, and while Ventuvius was used to the heat of the desert, no one could ever be fully over the effects of the scorching heat reflected off the burning dunes. Ventuvius entered Ssarl's tent unceremoniously, disreguarding all the totems outside. He knew Seers had their quirks, but so long as you don't bother them they usually don't bother you.

Instantly as Ventuvius entered the tent the temperature dropped. The cool air reinvigourated Ventuvius as he set his bundle by the entryway, "Well, Ssarl, I'm ready. I'll do what I must do for the survival of our people."

Benjmn
06/08/2006 5:24 PM

It took Mattugur a bit to understand what was said to him, for the minotaur had not spoken in Orcish. Before he had time to formulate a response the minotaur had marched past him. "Work? Work for she-orcs," he muttered to himself as he stumped back to the orc tents.

He was surprised to see two minotaur guarding it, their wrinkled noses showing how little they enjoyed their assignment. The scrawny little cheat's corpse lay on the ground, and a larger orc was being dragged away, a minotaur spear broken off through him. Not all orcs had even the level of intelligence that Mattugur possessed.

Mattugur looked at the corpse for a moment, noting that it had not been looted by the other orcs. More evidence of minotaur control. He thought hard for a moment, before thinking up what he considered a brilliant plan.

"Nooo!" he roared, "My brother!"

With that he rushed past the suprised minotaurs to the corpse, and cradled it.

Whether the two guards believed his performance or not was far from certain, but they let him take the body. Their motivation might have only been to get farther away from the smell of orcish cuisine, but the end result was the same.

Later, as he examined his newfound wealth in coin, rubies and garnets (plus several sets of loaded dice), he congratulated himself for his cleverness. He set aside the clothes and weapons of the cheat for sale later; they were far too small for him.

The first thing he did with his monies was to go out and buy more liquor. The minotaur he purchased it from asked him to leave as soon as the purchase was made, saying something about smell, and Mattugur was happy to do so.

He returned to the orc tents, and tossed the ancient orcish hag who was cooking a copper in exchange for a bowl of something that most civilized races would vomit at smelling and a hard piece of black bread. As he began to eat, he listened.

One of the city orcs, who wore the clothes of the minotaurs and preferred human food, was sitting with them. His orcish had an accent almost like a minotaur's he had lived with them so long. He had some strange idea about "finding his heritage," and so spent the some of his meals with the other orcs. The only reason they tolerated him was because he was a valuable source of information about what was going on in the more civilized parts of the fort.

"Rumor has it that a very important minotaur will be arriving here. If the catmen know this, we can almost certainly expect an attack..."

Mattugur stopped listening at that point and smiled to himself. While he would prefer to attack the catmen, so he could take fistfuls of gold from the vast treasuries he imagined, slaughtering them till the sands ran red would suffice for now. He hoped they attacked soon.

[Edited by Benjmn on Thursday, June 8, 2006 5:25 PM]

Marion
06/08/2006 7:09 PM

When Ventuvius entered the tent he found Ssarl Standing before the doorway leaning upon his staff facing the entrance. It was as if he had been standing there since the sunrise simply waiting for Ventuvius to show up. When Ventuvius entered Ssarl gave a half bow and greeted him with the common catman phrase:

"Peace to you brother."

Of course, one could not be certain if he knew it was Ventuvius who entered or not. Ventuvius set his things down and said,

"Well, Ssarl, I'm ready. I'll do what I must do for the survival of our people."

" Of course." Ssarl said softly as he turned around and made his way to a small cage. His old claw emerged from within the folds of his robes, opened the cage and withdrew a young black crow. The crow made its way to his wrist and tilted its head this way and that as Ssarl pet it gently on its back, whispering in a strange tongue to the animal. Ssarl then delicately pinched one of the crow's tail feathers and with a quick tug, plucked it out. The crow squawked and flapped its clipped wings in surprise but soon quieted before Ssarl returned it to its cage. He shuffled back to where Ventuvius stood.

"As I said before.. I have a gift.. to aid you on your quest." Ssarl whispered hoarsely. He then chuckled softly and lifted the sleek black feather up for Ventuvius to see. He let it linger there for only a moment before bringing it to his lips. He then slipped the feather into his mouth. Almost instantly a dark bluish hue began to grow in the lifeless eyes of the ram skull on Ssarl's head. It wasn't very intense but there was a faint light that grew in those dark pits and all the air in the tent seemed to become still and the animals stopped moving in their cages.

Then Ssarl opened his mouth, and a thick black smoke billowed out and crept to Ventuvius, enveloping him in its thick embrace. The smoke seemed almost alive as it hung off of his clothes and weapons and sent its inky fingers into his hair and ears. Then... the smoke dissipated and vanished completely, as did the light in the eyes of the ram skull. The air stirred again and all was as it was before.

"The kiss of shadow. This spell will aid you in blending into the darkness, whether night or day. It does not render you invisible, but so long as you stay out of the light your foes will be hard pressed to see you. Now.. be on your way Ventuvius, Maurgrom will soon arrive to the minotaur stronghold. The spirits of the desert will be with you."

teutonicknight
06/08/2006 8:22 PM

Ventuvius suppressed a shudder as the strange black smoke surrounded him. He had been around sorcery before, but that still didn't put him completely at ease. After the smoke dissipated, Ventuvius looked at his hands. They looked the same to him, but somehow his gaze just seemed to glide right off him. Interesting how magic works. Ventuvius could talk with the wind spirits and guide them a bit, but strange things like this were beyond his comprehention.

Ventuvius picked his bundle up from by the entrance and stared at the door. He stood there for a streched moment before speaking, "I will succeed or die trying." With that he brushed open the doorflap and was hit by a gust of hot wind. "Though I don't suppose you have anything to keep me cool on the journey there?" Ventuvius said jokingly as he stepped outside and started off. Now all he had to do was actually kill Maugrom. That sounded so simple in and of itself. "Just kill him." Ventuvius repeated to himself out loud. "Right." Ventuvius readjusted his pack on his back and continued on towards the minotaur fort. He had long since memorized the layout of the fort and any possible entry. Guard shifts and rotations would need to be analyzed. Maugrom's quarters would have to be identified, though there weren't many that were suitable for someone of his status. A thousand possibilities to consider, and a plan for every one of them. Ventuvius had a lot of thinking to do. Of course, he had a long way to go and a long time to think.

Tetrius
06/09/2006 5:33 AM

"A great honour indeed," said Matakase (MA-TAH-KAI-ZAY, as he pressed on the minotaur upon introduction), pronouncing honour as though there were two O's after the H. Matakase was the only human so far that Theocritus would socialise with, mainly because all the others wouldn't socialise with him either. He was a rather tall human (yet still below the shoulder of Theocritus) with black hair, a straight nose and almond shaped eyes. He wore the same odd armour of the other humans as well as white, silk socks and sandals, he carried a long curved sword. It looked rather like a catman's scimitar but it was thinner and possessed a deadly beauty about it, like a rose that hid a poisonous spider.

"I suppose it is, but it's also going to be a lot of hard work I wager," muttered Theocritus, "He's probably going to be one of those namby-pamby spoilt officer brats who can't even hold a sword properly."

"They said he came out of an academy, therefore he should know something of battle."

Theocritus nodded and got up with a yawn. Matakase inspected a flag he wore on his back when in battle critically and ran a finger down a small tear in it.

"Why do you wear that flag, Mat?" asked Theocritus. Matakase didn't understand abbriviations at first but soon got the hang of it.

"It is my clan's symbol, I must wear it or risk shaming myself. It is also useful for recognition; there is nothing more embarrasing in battle than slaying one of your own men," said the human, getting out a needle and thread and sewing up the damage. Theocritus nodded and then walked off towards his tent. The smelly orc he ran into was apparently selling clothes from the body of another orc, apparently dead. He looked more closely, holding his snout because of the stench, and recognised the orc.

"That cheaing git cost me five crachima!"

Benjmn
06/11/2006 12:16 PM


"That cheaing git cost me five crachima!"


Mattugur looked up at the minotaur, and recognized it as the pompous steer who had woken him from his nap.

"Mattugur's brother cheat no one," he lied, speaking Orcish. "If you lose five coins to my brother you lose fair and square. Go march round more, wake up more orcs who come long way to fight for you."

Mattugur knew that his "brother" had likely cheated the minotaur, but Mattugur was not about to pay him back. Those five crachima had probably been in the cheat's tent, anyway, because Mattugur had not seen any minotaur coin in it's purse. (Other orcs looted his belongings in the tent while the minotaur watched his body).

Tetrius
06/13/2006 7:01 AM

The day arrived when Choss Maugrom arrived clad in full minotaur armour and flanked by his bodyguards, two hooded elfish mercenaries armed with sickles and bearing shields. You could tell where a shield was made very often by its design. Elves usually created their shields to represent their national symbol, a violet cresent moon with a white stag painted on it and the words 'The Coward's Mother Does Not Weep' inscribed in elfish underneath. Maugrom himself was a rather stout minotaur with red-brown fur, long ivory white horns and green eyes. He stood with a commanding pose and spoke quite loudly, as though he were at a party instead of a fort.

Theocritus was introduced to him by the Commander, who shook the Etik Sohtr's son by the hand warmly.

"Choss Maugrom," he said the Commader, "This is Temnos Theorcitus, he will be your guide and assistant if you will for the next few weeks until you have properly settled in. If you have any questions or help then just ask him and he will gladly assist you."

There was a brief talk about the current situation ("We may as well not be here," said an officer loudly, "These kittens haven't done anything of real worry yet.") and then the Choss and his bodyguards were left with Theocritus. The two bodyguards observed him coldly with their bright eyes, half hidden in the shadows under their hoods. Their beards, long and whispy, hid most of features and Theocritus felt uncomfortable and rather inferior around them. He shook his head, trying to get rid of the effects of elfin glamour.

"If you and your bodyguards would kindly follow me this way, I will show you to your quarters," he said. Maugrom nodded and spoke softly in elfish to his bodyguards. They seemed to understand and made no hassle when they followed their principle through the fort. Theocritus had heard somewhat of Elves, but they were mostly fairytales designed to try and hide the terrible truth of the mysterious sylvan beings of the Northern Forests. The Catmen and the Humans were the only ones to frequent contact with them and when Theocritus asked Matakase about them this was all he got.

"They are a strange and mysterious people; fair, wise and in tune with nature in peace and yet they can rival an Orc in ferociousness in battle and attack relentlessly. Their druids can control the very forces that hold this world together and instill fear into the hearts of their foes. Only the catman Shah and our own Emperor have ever set eyes on their capital and they have been sworn into secrecy by oaths so deep that the gods themselves cannot undo them."

Theocritus was in one mind on one thing; he does not want to get on the wrong side of these two. He did not think them stronger than him, yet they were tricky at best and he wouldn't feel safe even with them dead. The small group finally reached Maugrom's new office within the cool shade of the palm trees and Theocritus opened the door for him. There was a good thing about this arrangement. Now that he was supposed to be helping the Choss settle in, he was allowed an accomodation near the oasis area until he job was done. He hadn't quite moved into his own room yet but he found the shade refreshing even if the mousquitoes were still a bother.

"If you have any worries," he said after explaining the basic rountine of the fort and handing him a small map of the fort, "I'm just next door. I hope your stay in the Fort is pleasant."

"Thank you, temnos. I hope so too," replied Maugrom, before barking an order in elfish to his two bodyguards, who took up positions by the door and window. Theocritus left and headed for his room.

[Edited by Tetrius on Friday, June 23, 2006 10:04 AM]

Marion
06/13/2006 1:57 PM

The shah of the catmen only Visited the border fortress of Jikalab every few years for a minor inspection and a morale boost for the soldiers stationed there. However, it was tradition for a Shah to personally lead the war efforts of his people and as such, he took up residence in the Jikalab palace, which remained closed and off limits to the general public when the Shah was not in the city.

The palace was high up and cut into the side of the mountain after which Jikalab was named. Is was an elaborate and majestic work of architecture which was only a minor shadow of the royal palace in the capital city far away. The palace loomed over the rest of the fortress hovering always as a reminder of how much Loftier the grand Shah was over the common folk.

On a hot summer day not long after Ventuvius had set out on his quest, Ssarl was summoned to the Palace by the Shah himself. These meetings of counsel, between the Shah and the mystic was a tradition thousands of years old and had become quite a courtly spectacle since it first began.

As Ssarl Shuffled down the length of the deep red Carpet which was laid out before the Shah's throne, the audience chamber was packed to the brim with courtiers and palace servants and workers all hoping to hear what the mystic had to say to the Shah. The chamber was majestic and cut entirely from white Marble. Huge Marble pillars stretched up into the domed ceiling and beautiful tapestries lined the walls. All eyes were on the old grey mystic, it was a long walk from the tall double doors, down the long carpet to the Shah's throne. Yet no one made so much as a peep, nobody hardly breathed and as Ssarl approached many of the King's wives lounged about his throne lazily on soft cushions lined in deep purple velvet. They watched Ssarl curiously as did the two royal guardsmen who were robed in rich scarlet on each side of the shah's throne.

SSarl halted before the throne and bowed his head speaking in a raspy voice,
"Peace and long life to you, the anointed one. I come as summoned, lord."

"Peace to you, Mystic. We meet again at last." Came the reply. The shah's voice was a deep baritone and filled the whole chamber with its authority. He was a Rotund Feline, sharp of eye and quick of wit but filled with a great wisdom. He was a good leader and skilled in leading Armies. He was only a young man when Ssarl had a meeting like this one with his Father many centuries ago. He wore the finest white and gold robes, made of the purest silk and he wore a dazzling array of colorful jewels and precious stones.

"We stand once more on the brink of war with the minotaur Ssarl. Tell me, what does the future hold for my people? What wisdom do you bring to your lord before we march to victory?" The shah reclined in his throne and his deep dark eyes rested on the old mystic as did every other pair of eyes in the room.

Ssarl stood hunched over and silent, his head bowed, the eyes of the ram skull staring unblinking straight at the Shah. The pause was uncomfortabl and many in the crowd began to shift their weight. "The sands of the desert shift... the light of the moon waxes and wanes. The spirits of the mountain tell me that a Shah should not be so confident of victory."

Many gasps erupted from the crowd. Anybody else would have lost his head right there. But the mystic was afforded such liberties when talking to the Shah, who was somewhat taken aback by this comment. It was not what he expected.

"I have no time for riddles." The Shah said.

"Indeed you do not." Ssarl replied. "With each passing moment, the horned cretins grow stronger and their numbers increase. Their allies travel from as far away as the northern forests."

"Yes I had heard the elves were aiding them..." The shah said softly. "Though they have not yet commited troops."

"Orcs continue to stream into their fortress as well... but we Catmen stand alone."

"The orcs are unreliable at best, sloppy and foolhardy and the Minotaur are clumsy and do not handle the subtelties of war well. I am confident in our forces and yet I still find wisdom in your words. From where would you have us draw aid? The pirates to the east?"

"No." Ssarl said."We must seek out the dark elves."

Again, another surprised and scared gasp erupted from the crowd.

"Outcasts!" The Shah almost yelled."Foul sorcerers and wielders of the darkest magics! I could not allow such evil near our holy cities or allow the possibility of them corrupting our men. Besides, how do you know they will even grant us aid?"

"It is well known that they harbor a deep hatred of the elves who cast them out of the forests, deep into the dark places of the earth. If they hear that the noble elves are aiding the minotaur, surely they will do what they can to disrupt their cause and wield their powerful magics once more." Ssarl said.

The Shah sighed. "I am dubious of this plan mystic. If you believe this is what the spirits will, then I will eave it to you to seek the aid of the dark ones. I can not spare any men to accompany you."

"I need nothing.. except for your swiftest horse."

"Very well, I grant you Adratha. There is no faster steed save for my own. You will find her in the royal stables. Peace to you mystic do not tarry for I plan to move against the minotaur soon."

Ssarl only bowed in reply and then turned, beginning his journey to the Dark caves.

[Edited by Marion on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 2:00 PM]

teutonicknight
06/14/2006 10:57 AM

The journey from Jikalib was a long and arduous one. The sun beat down on the desert sands raising heat from the earth like an iron skillet. Ventuvius felt like he was being cooked in the desert. He emptied his water skin by the end of the second day only to find the oasis he had been expecting to find on the thrid was dried up. Ventuvius nearly cried when he saw the dead trees being swallowed up by the sands.

Ventuvius did not allow despair to overtake him though. He closed his eyes and called upon the spirits of the wind. He listened to their voices and asked them where the next oasis was. The spirits told him that the next oasis was a day's journey west, towards the minotaur's fort. At least he wouldn't have to go too far out of his way to reach it. Though a day of traveling through the desert without water was a dangerous one, even for those that are acclimated to such climes.

Not wanting to waste any more time standing about in the hot sun, Ventuvius set out west towards the oasis. The sun was setting in the sky when Ventuvius spotted someone on horseback. Ventuvius stopped and slowly crouched to hide his outline against the sand dunes. The rider hadn't spotted him yet. It seemed to be a human nomad. They must have a camp set up at the oasis here. Ventuvius waited a few minutes before setting off after the nomad.

After crossing a few more dunes, the sun finally set below the horizon and the nomads' camp emerged in sight. Indeed they were set up at the oasis, but the size of the camp was what surprised Ventuvius the most. There must be at least fifteen families in this group. Few nomads traveled in groups more than five families big. What could the meaning of this be?

Not wanting to chance the nomads' wrath, Ventuvius set in to wait for full night before going down to the oasis to fill his water skin. Apparently the rider Ventuvius had seen earlier was their last scout for the day. They set up guards to watch through the night, but tonight the moon would be but a sliver providing plenty of darkness to slip through. Along with that spell the old seer cast on him, Ventuvius shouldn't have too much problems getting water.

As darkness enveloped the camp, Ventuvius made his way along the dunes to infiltrate the camp. He made it all the way to the water pool without being noticed. As he was filling his water skin, though, voices cought his attention.

"I'm telling you we're not safe in these lands anymore!" a man's voice sounded.

"That's why we should leave." a second man said.

"What about everyone else? We just leave them behind?" a woman added.

"We can't protect everyone from two armies. That's why we should join one or the other!" the first man said. "The minotaurs pay far better than the catmen. Those stuck-up felines think they're so much better than everyone else."

"You'd have us guarantee conflict to avoid a possiblity of such?" the second man said incredulously. "Armies are large and can be avoided so long as we're careful. We aren't central to their conflict. I highly doubt they'll go out of their way just to attack a few nomads."

"We should call for everyone to head north. The elves, they live there. They can assure no armies fall on us." the woman added.

"No. I say we go to the minotaurs and sign on as mercenaries. They'll be in need of good cavalry against the catmen and they'll pay good." the first man said.

"I'll never allow it!" the second man yelled.

Ventuvius finished filling his waterskin and moved behind the tent to listen in more. Their argument continued on for thirty minutes between joining the minotaurs as mercenaries and heading somewhere safe. Eventually, the first man talked them into joining the minotaurs. Ventuvius shook his head. They can't be allowed to join his enemies. He headed around the tent and to the entrance. There were only the three inside the tent. Ventuvius readied three knives and prepared to enter. He listened to the sound of the people inside shifting their weight. The first man and woman were on the left side of the tent while the other man was on the right.

Ventuvius slipped through the entry flap and threw a knife with each hand to take the man and woman out before they knew someone was inside. The other man opened his mouth to yell, but Ventuvius' third knife blossomed from his throat before any sound could come out. Collecting his knives, Ventuvius found some paper and scrawled in a purposefully bad hand, "This what happens to those who side with catmen." Hopefully the nomads would take it for being from a minotaur assassin. Before anyone could notice that the tent had fallen silent, Ventuvius slipped out and exeunted from the camp. His destination was still a few days of traveling ahead, and he wanted to get some distance between him and the nomads before he set down to sleep. It wouldn't be well for them to find him close to their camp after their leaders were killed.

Tetrius
06/16/2006 3:01 AM

Theocritus often found himself acting as a sort of secretary to the choss; stamping and reading letters and paperwork seemed to become his daily routine, which was arguably a nice change from constant drill in the sun, carrying the weight of a twelve year old calf on their backs. It also gave him a chance to get an insight on political and diplomatic affairs in the war, Theocritus learned of the Council's dissapointment that the Human Emperor, Emperor Chi Hong-fa XVII, withdrew his personal support to either side. Theocritus was also intrested to hear about recent military achievements outside the fort's walls.

"We've just taken the Catman town of Akradad," said Maugrom as he thumbed through a PT training manual, "But it's hardly worth bragging about. The Catmen still have control of what was once called Trontio, a small mining town just to the edge of the Karabrough Mountains."

"What's to be done with the populace?" asked Theocritus.

"Well, that depends. If the inhabitants are so stupid as to create a ruckus than we'll just do a small mass execution of the loudest rebels to keep them in line. If all's well then we'll enslave a few dozen of them and ship them off to the main cities."

"Oh...I heard that we were going to wipe them all out."

"Is it me, Temnos, or do you sound dissapointed?"

Theocritus felt uncomfortable. Well, it [i]was[/i] war, you weren't exactly going to start turning the other cheek like some idiot Humans do.

"A little," he admitted.

"Don't be. If we start going on like that, what will people in a few decades time remember us and this war as? Will they think of us as heroes? Warriors? Fools? Tyrants? It's not just winning the war that is important but also what people think of it in the end. Now get on with the paper work."

Theocritus did so and started stamping the mound of paper. A young calf came in with a basket and dumped a whole more in the 'In' tray.

[I]Whoever invented paperwork,[/i] thought Theocritus bitterly, [i]Deserves to be hung by his balls and shot full of arrows.[/i]

He worked on some more and after a few minuted Maugrom frowned and hummed disaproval.

"It seems a nomad tribe has withdrawn it's support. They said that we acted against them, assassination of a Khan I think. Odd, we don't even use assassins anymore. The last one we had was killed half a century ago when trying to assissinate the last Shah. Damn, we needed their cavalry."

Theocritus listened as he looked a food bill and winced. The Minotaurs didn't have a cavalry, there wasn't a horse alive that could carry the weight of a full grown minotaur in armour. This was one of the big weaknesses of the Minotaurs, a wave of mounted archers could dessimate them and it was also why the Minotaurs accepted all those who could ride. Matakase was one of those. Maugrom wrote a hasty letter and asked Theocritus to deliver it to the fort's post office. When he came back the pile on the In tray was bigger. He swore the stuff breeds.

Marion
06/21/2006 3:42 PM

It was at least one day's hard ride north of Jikalab to reach the mountains. Ssarl then cut east until the land began to show signs of decay and stunk of death. It was here he slowed the horse to a trot and cautiously made his way up into the winding trails of the mountains. The deeper he went and the higher he climbed, the more the earth looked charred and the rocks became bare and black, devoid of all life. There were broken and burned skeletons of trees and yellow pools of fetid water lay about on the sides of the trail. This place sent chills up the spine of the hardiest of warriors, and even Ssarl's fur stood on end. This place was completely silent and cold. It was dark, but Ssarl did not dare lay his head to rest and whether the moon was full or not, one could not tell for even the starlight could not reach this abyss.

Of course, Ssarl made his way by supernatural senses and so the darkness affected him not. In fact he thought it best to travel by night here, for it was then that he might have the best chance of finding these dark elves.

It was well known that the dark elves were once part of that proud and noble race of elves that live in the tranquil forests beyond the mountains. However, the majority of the population looked down on black magic and demonology and thus, those who practiced these disciplines were driven from their homes never to return. They sought refuge in the caves of the mountain where they were able to refine and practice their dark arts as they saw fit. They had a deep hatred of those who drove them into exile and were very xenophobic, seeking no relations with any of the outside races. Ssarl knew he was taking a risk in coming here, but he believed there really was no alternative if the Catmen were to find victory.

The horse startled and began to grow unruly. It neighed loudly and reared up on it's hind legs kicking at the empty air with its front legs. Ssarl slid off the saddle and merely let go of the reigns, allowing it to run off in fright. The mystic was alone in the frigid dark and hidden whispers began to swirl about him in that rocky crevice, but he could not tell if they were real or only part of his imagination. There were strange markings on the rocks which made themselves known to Ssarl's spirit and suddenly he became faintly aware of many pairs of eyes glaring down on him, though he could not tell from where. Ssarl was nervous, though he did not show it, he merely rested both hands on his cane and stood confidently,
staring into the void as he spoke.

"My name is Ssarl... I come on behalf of..."

"Catmen..." A low whisper interrupted him. The whisper echoed off the rocks to the left and right of the mystic and that one word turned into a whole chorus of whispered mutterings and then the stopped suddenly. A dark shape emerged from the darkness, the shape of a tall humanoid in a black hooded cloak. He held a plain wooden staff in his right hand and his face was hidden in shadow. Ssarl could feel a strange power emanating from him, though it felt as though it were emanating from a hole in the world.

"I can sense power in you mystic. Why have you come here?"

"The catmen seek your aid against the minotaur, our mortal enemies. Your skill is well known and your help in battle would most assuredly bring us victory." Ssarl replied.

"We are not concerned with your victory or your petty squabbles. Now I hope you have something more useful to say, before we prepare you as our next sacrifice." The stranger said.

"The elves, your sworn enemies, are aiding the minotaur against us." Ssarl said softly.

There was a pause... a silence. Then the cloaked figure muttered only a single word.
"Indeed...."

teutonicknight
07/11/2006 10:59 AM

It was midday when Ventuvius finally got close enough to see the minotaur outpost of Kraetos. It was an impressive site, butted up against the mountainside. Ventuvius revised his thoughts on an attack on this post. It wouldn't be suicide, it'd be a massacre. All the more reason to get his job over and done with.

There would be little chance of him gaining entry over the walls, so he would have to go up the mountain and then descend into the post from there. Ventuvius looked over and up the mountain. "Fun." He thought aloud. It was a long and arduous journey to get this far, and now the hard part begins.

Ventuvius headed over and took a break at the foot of the mountain. If he was going to have any chance of success he would have to head in under cover of nightfall. The minotaur weren't the brightest group of people, but they certainly weren't stupid either. They could see someone trying to sneak in broad daylight.

When night finally fell, Ventuvius steeled himself for the dangerous climb up the mountain. It would be as dangerous to traverse the mountain slopes at night as it would be to sneak around the minotaur camp. One wrong move and he could fall down the cliffside to his death.

[Edited by teutonicknight on Friday, July 14, 2006 4:42 PM]

Marion
07/14/2006 1:12 PM

When Ssarl returned, a small detachment of dark elves followed behind him, dressed in black hooded cloaks even in the sweltering heat of the desert. They rode on fell looking steeds which acted not as normal horses and they brought with them their own supplies in carts and wagons which were covered. There weren't that many dark elves that followed Ssarl back to Jikalib and most of them were archers and a few swordsman. But Ssarl got what he wanted and that was two of their skilled and dangerous warlocks, renowned for their mastery over the dark magics. Even two of these warlocks were enough to tip the scales in an armies favor and they rode ahead of the rest of the party with Ssarl. Though they were silent for the entire journey.

When Ssarl reached the gates The guards met him and told him that his return was unexpected, but the Shah had gave orders that in the unlikely event Ssarl were to arrive with help, then the dark elves would have to stay outside of the city so that they would not "defile" the holy city of Jikalib.

"We prefer it that way." The dark elf spokesman answered when Ssarl gave them this news. thus by days end, the detachment of 300 dark elves had set up camp outside the northern walls of jikalib and Ssarl returned to his tent on the eastern edge.

anime_fan3
07/14/2006 5:09 PM


Ssarl returned to his tent on the eastern edge

"Have the elders reached a punishment?" said the judge, "Yes, prosecution". All Raigo could do was stare and listen as punishments got worse finally they decided to banish him because they thought there weren't any camps for miles and miles.

The next day he was thrown out of the village as his face hit the ground he noticed something shiny, he picked it up it turned out to be a dagger and there was only one guard so he used his earth magic to create a sandstorm. He sneaked up behind him and stabbed him in his neck so the guard fell to the ground, as Raigo took his weapons a guard came by, "he's kille-" and he stooped due to the fact that a dagger was thrown into his heart.

After two days of walking aimlessly he noticed some footsteps but he couldn't make out what kind it was because the sun. He followed them for hours until he reached a tent he went inside and took some of the water and food that was in there and he fell asleep on the bed. He woke up by some distant footsteps coming closer thinking quickly he hid under the bed, but accidently he forgot about his dust allergies, he tried holding it in but as the person came in he sneezed loudly. He thought he couldnt hide any more so he stood up and accidently hit a shelf above him causing one a jar full of frog organs to fall and hit him on the head. "kill...me...not...do any-thing" and fell down on the floor.

[Edited by anime_fan3 on Saturday, July 15, 2006 2:55 PM]

Tetrius
07/15/2006 8:34 AM

Matsukase was on patrol with several other of his kin yesterday, searching the deserts for any signs of the catmen and their movements. Theocritus watched them from the walls of the Kraetos, enjoying his brief break while he could before returning back to Maugrom's office. His period was nearly over and he already had his new breastplate in his room, bearing his new rank. Theocritus toyed with the jug of wine in his hands, thinking about his home, when suddenly he noted one of the elfish bodyguards standing next to him. The elf's presence troubled Theocritus, as he seemed to project a feeling of power and uncomfortable magicks of the earth.

"Why do you two war against each other?" he asked, his voice soft and musical despite his harsh appearance. To this question Theocritus shrugged.

"I don't know. We just are," he said, trying to maintain his strong posture. The elf looked at him with glinting eyes under his green hood but said nothing for a while.

"The choss wishes to speak with you," he finally said, "It is nothing work related but he feel you might be able to help him with something."

Theocritus nodded and walked off, heading to the nearby guardtower where the ladder was. The elf remained a moment longer on the walkway of the wall, staring out into the desert, seemingly trying to spot something in the desert. He then followed Theocritus silently.

Marion
07/17/2006 9:36 AM

Ssarl recognized a foreign presence as soon as he had come close to his tent dwelling. He could sense it, and the strange footprints emanated an odd aura on the desert sands. Ssarl wasn't sure what to make of this and thought perhaps someone came who was seeking his help while he was away. He entered the tent and by means of his mystical sight, the elf's presence was made known to him. Elves gave off a particularly strong aura as their very blood was teeming with magic and the essence of nature to which Ssarl was deeply connected.

The boy sneezed and awkwardly made himself known before disturbing his surroundings, causing a jar to fall on his head. Ssarl only stood silently and watched the boy fall to the floor.
"Not very graceful, nor crafty for an elf." Ssarl thought to himself.

Immediately it was noticed that some of his food and drink had been consumed, but Ssarl did not begrudge the elf for this, he merely layed the stranger on his back in a restful spot in the tent and went about his business as he waited for him to come back to his senses.

anime_fan3
07/17/2006 11:46 AM

Raigo woke up, he immadietly noticed the owner of the tent which just came back, Raigo finally talked but quick and nervously "There's going to be an attack soon, an underground minotaur camp is going to strike at night from the inside. I know this from this necklace it enhances spiritual contact on me it allows me to see and hear the past so if your powers are as good as you said they are you'll be able to see the future clearly. This is what got me in trouble I was stealing it from an elder unfortunately I got caught and banished from my kingdom."

"But I know someone who can help, theres a dwarflord I know actually beneath this very ground if we can get to him help we'll have the underground advantage and better armour. Though theres a problem I need to get to his room without being caught, his guards do not know me but he does. If you want to help me come down I can create a tunnel, but this task will take almost the whole day, we dont have enough time to alert everyone, the choice is yours".

Raigo used his powers to create some uneven stairs, "what was it that you said about me being not crafty?" said Raigo mockingly.

[Edited by anime_fan3 on Monday, July 17, 2006 11:48 AM]

[Edited by anime_fan3 on Monday, July 17, 2006 12:13 PM]

Tetrius
07/17/2006 2:37 PM

Theocritus marched into Maugrom's office and saluted.

"Choss," he said.

Maugrom was silent for a while, staring out of the window in silence, a distant look on his face as though he was expecting something. Theocritus stood still for a moment in the uncomfortable silence, wondering whether or not he should cough and try to get the officer's attention. Finally Maugrom moved to the desk and handed Theocritus a sheet of papyrus, where orders and a map was scratched down.

"I have just recieved word of a secret mission being executed by the Minotaur Sapper Division, they are going to try and tunnel their way into Jikalab and perform a raid. I need you to go down there and ensure it runs smoothly, for this could swing the whole thing in our favour. I'd like you to bring one or two others and leave by midday tomorrow."

"Yes sire," said Theocritus, saluting, "Is there anything else?"

The officer was silent for a while.

"Do you ever feel that your death is...just a few miles away and you have no idea its coming? I've been feeling like that ever since I got here," he said, his eyes soft, "I'm scared, Theocritus. I know I'm a target for assassination amongst the catmen and their allies, and I know that they are the masters of assassins. They invented the word for it by God's horns."

Theocritus tried to think of what to say.

"It is just nerves, sire. You are new to the Kraetos, new to the military and new to your station. In time, I am sure you shall be troubled by these feelings no more. That is all I can say, but I hope for your sake that it's enough."

Maugrom nodded.

"Thank you, temnos. I hope your mission goes well. You are dismissed." Theocritus saluted Choss Maugrom one last time and then left, the eys of the choss's elfish bodyguards boring into his back.

**********

He met up with Matakase when he came back from his patrol and asked him to accompany him to his mission tomorrow. He said he would be honoured to do so and immediately went to his bunk and got ready. Theocritus then decided to invite an orc, for he felt a bit of dumb muscle would be good on this venture.
Finding the nearest 'snotty' he could find, he barked an order to be at the gates of Kraetos after breakfast tomorrow with a horse.

This particular orc, happened to be napping in the corner of the fort enjoying the spoils of his dead 'brother's' sudden passing,

Marion
07/17/2006 7:28 PM

When Raigo had awoken, Ssarl stopped what he was doing and considered the elf silently as he spoke. when he had finished saying what he had come to say, Ssarl thought in silence for a moment then responded:

"Why did you say "If your powers are as good as you said they are?" when have I never seen you before nor even uttered a word to you little elf? You should be aware that when you lay sleeping I considered offering to you to the dark elves camped on the other side of the city. They tell me they need subjects to sacrifice..."

Just then a high ranking catman officer opened the flap of Ssarl's tent, letting a hot stream of sunlight pierce the cool darkness within.

"The Shah has sent me demanding to know why there are hundreds of the dark ones outside the city!"
The stranger said loudly.

SSarl's back was facing the man and he did not turn when he replied:
"It was the shah who sent me to fetch their aid commander. Kindly remind him of that for me."

"But.. But .. they'll corrupt the holy city! They'll be the ruin of us all, Mystic!." The commander cried.

"The dark ones will be the saviors of Jikalib commander. I appreciate the Shah thanking me for accomplishing such a task. Now kindly close the flap and be on your way." Ssarl said, a slight hint of annoyance in his voice.

The commander was dumb struck, but he did as Ssarl said and closed the flap, returning to the Shah. The old mystic then once more addressed Raigo:
"You said the choice was mine young elf. Choices are not to be made lightly and nor is trust so easily won. You will show respect befoe your superiors if you are not to become food for the scorching desert sands. You have done nothing to earn my trust. Rather you have eaten my food, you have drank my water and not once did you thank me nor ask permission for anything. I suggest you say farewell now and depart. Yes... that would be wise of you."

teutonicknight
07/18/2006 1:05 PM

Ventuvius made slow work along the mountain face. The winds were strong, but using his powers to slack the wind would only mean he wouldn't have use of them tonight when they were more crucial. Ventuvius would have to endure the beating of the wind.

For long hours Ventuvius climbed the rock face, a few times barely escaping falling to his death with a pile of loose rocks. Eventually the sun started to creep over the horizon. Ventuvius looked at his progress. He was most of the way across the rock face, but things would get more dangerous now that light was fading. Ventuvius had good night vision, but that wasn't his main concern. It was the mountain rats he worried about. Normally they're no threat, but when you're counting on all four of your limbs to keep you safely anchored to the mountain face, the nusiance can become a threat.

Thankfully, though, the rest of the climb was uneventful. Ventuvius easily lowered himself down atop one of the highest buildings in Kraetos. This would most likely be the command post. All of the sentries were on the outside wall looking out, so no one noticed him. Yet, at least. Ventuvius crept over to the edge of the roof and looked across the post. There was an eerie silence about the place. Even more so than there should have been. It was like the calm before the storm. Something was going to happen. Soon.

Perhaps Ventuvius should have been thankful for the quiet night where everyone seemed to be asleep or still in anticipation of this great storm, but something about it unsettled Ventuvius. Like a burr on his foot, the feeling made him uneasy every movement he made.

Ventuvius made a quick surveyance of the guards. There was only one per tower along the walls, and Ventuvius could only see two patrols marching the streets of the fort. Things might proceed strangely smoothly tonight . . . hopefully.

Marion
07/21/2006 5:19 AM

Ssarl exited the cool, dark confines of his humble tent and stepped out into the dry evening air to be greeted by the red sun setting on the horizon. Even he, having seen centuries of such beautiful imagery could not deny the beauty to be had therein. It was a tranquil moment, serene and calm. This indeed was the calm before the storm, for he knew that early in the morning, the Shah and all of his high ranking commanders would begin to marshal the Catmen warriors before the gates of Jikalib. He knew that tomorrow a new day of bloodshed would dawn for who knows how long. Could be days, could be centuries.

He bent slowly at the knees, and keeping one hand on his staff he grabbed a handful of the desert sand with his other. He then stood and let the fine sand fall through his fingers, the soft breeze carrying it in an eastward direction. He studied the sand carefully and murmered a whispery incantation. At once his inner eye swirled with the mystery of foresight and he lifted his gaze heavenward, but his blind eyes and consciousness were nowhere in the present. He was flooded with an encrypted and shadowy vision of things to come and that vision was filled with fire. A burning world filled his mind and then at once, when the sand had finished sifting from his fingers, the vision stopped.

Ssarl once more lowered his head and he was deeply troubled by the chaos in the vision. He turned, not knowing what to make of what he just saw and slowly shuffled back into his tent, to get some much needed rest, before the storm began.

Tetrius
07/22/2006 8:10 AM

Theocritus and Matakase set off (OOC: I'm deciding to leave Ben's character alone for when, or if, he returns), with a group of two other minotaurs and another samurai of Matakase's aquaintance. They also had two supply mules carrying water and some of the group's camping supplies. They made for where Maugrom told them the entrance to the sappers' tunnel was, travelling only in the cool of the morning, dusk and night. During the day they rested in the shade of the dunes.
The sun was harsh and despite the fact they could run into catmen at any point, they did not were their armour or carry weapons. Even Matakase and his companion were reluctant to bare arms and travelled in their robes.

After the third day of leaving Kraetos they noted a large cloud of sand and dust rising from the North-East, something Theocritus sent the two minotaurs to investigate. After a quarter of an hour, one of them returned and asked that Theocritus and the others come with them. They crept towards the smoke coloumn and taking cover behind the top a sand dune and there they saw a long line of humans, bearing the banner of the Emperor. The sound of thr tramping feet, chinking armour and braying horses filled the air and light glinted off the points of spears and swords like distant stars. At their head rode a rather imposing man, bearing a banner with a serpantine dragon on it. They had a lot of men, thirty-five soldiers across a single row and the line stretched back a fair way.

"Charos and I counted at least fifteen thousand in their ranks," said the scout.

"Counted?" asked Theocritus.

"Estimated then. They are all heavily armed and many seem to bear muskets."

Matakase nodded, "They are a powerful weapon. Do you think that the divine Emperor has decided to help the Minotaurs?"

Theocritus and the other minotaurs observed the direction the army was heading. It didn't look good.

"No. They're not heading to Kraetos," he sighed, "If anything, it looks like their heading to Jikalab."

Matakase and the other humans looked troubled and bit their lips, if the Emperor was siding with the catmen they were honour bound to follow him or risk disgrace. Theocritus wondered what he'd have to do if they did so, he doubted that he could just let them leave yet he liked Matakase enough that killing him was undesirable.
He'd just have to wait until that moment comes.

"Perhaps..." hazarded Charos, "They're trying to take the fort?"

"With no siege weapons?"

The army was close enough now to hear the marching chant some of the soldiers were singing, rising strongly over the hot sands and Matakase started to fidget.

"I...I must join them..." he whispered. He turned to his companion, "I must join them, right?" The other samurai shrugged, but he bore the same uncertainty.

Theocritus slapped a hand on his friend's shoulder, "Keep strong. I only pray for your sake and mine that the Emperor is just...just taking a tour of the desert of something..." Matakase did not look convinced. After another ten minutes watching the army march past, a lone officer calling out a command to keep up the pace in the Human tongue, they went back to where they left the supply mules.

As soon as they reached the entrance to the tunnel, they sent a messanger pigeon to the Kraetos, bearing details of the army.

teutonicknight
07/22/2006 8:42 AM

Night was in full bloom. The moon's sliver shone little light on Kraetos, but it was enough for Ventuvius to see what he needed. After roughly thirty minutes of searching the fort for banners the would mark out Maugrom's location, Ventuvius finally found them on the very building he was atop.

"Well, doesn't that make things nice." Ventuvius thought to himself. Now all he had to do was come up with a plan to assassinate the minotaur while making it look like an orc did the job. Upon further surveilance of the room where Maugrom was staying, Ventuvius spotted an elven guard at the door. Ventuvius touched his pocket where the tiara lay, remembering his lost love. Why the elves would help those who killed his love was unknowable to Ventuvius. He could only assume that they didn't know or didn't care.

Looking around further, Ventuvius spotted a lone orc staggering about the street drunk. What a lucky chance. Ventuvius stealthily crept across the building top over to where Maugrom's sleeping chamber was. Praying to the wind, Ventuvius leapt down and drove the tip of his dagger into the base of the elf's neck, killing him instantly. Looking at the elf with a tinge of regret, Ventuvius looked out over the road and spotted the orc.

Ventuvius picked up a few small rocks and threw them at the orc. Startled, and slightly curious, the orc turned and strained to see anything in the dim light. Not able to see anything, the orc staggered up the steps towards Ventuvius. When the orc was close enough, Ventuvius threw his dagger at the orc's head. The orc had just enough time to give a startled bark before the dagger planted itself in the orc's eye. It wasn't too loud, but if anyone was around to hear he wouldn't have much time.

Quickly Ventuvius went over to the orc's corpse and retrieved his dagger. Hefting the corpse, Ventuvius dragged it over to the doorway. He would only have minutes to finish his job and plant the evidence to make it appear the orc had done away with the minotaur. Time was of the essence. Ventuvius drew a deep breath and readied his dagger. Slowly, Ventuvius used the key from the elf's corpse to unlock the door and open it.

Sacrificial_Pearl
07/23/2006 4:11 PM

Night brought relief from the heat, but none from the tension in Jikalab. Heat and war and now [i]dark elves[/i], disgusting creatures, on top of the usual problems of people living in close quarters. Add to that the drink and other nighttime entertainments common to any city with a large military presence, and tempers were bound to flair and burn hot and angry until something doused them. The steady burn of a fight or drowning in alcohol, or other indulgences, were the favorite methods in the city for relieving the tension.

A barroom brawl had taken Maa'sma away from her evening meal, two dozen men injured and two unconscious and carried to her clinic for her ministrations until the time when (if) they were fit to return to duty, all over an insulted nightwalker. It was an excuse, nothing more and nothing less. She knew the men had come looking for a fight. The last of her pity went to the barkeep, his livelihood destroyed by the men he served; she said nothing about the coins he took from those who'd cost him so much. It was fair compensation in her mind, though she hoped he'd leave enough for them to pay her bill when the time came.

Those men who were awake and alert looked lethargic, relaxed and almost happy despite their injuries. Maa couldn't understand it, but didn't question it. Better they were stupidly pleased with themselves than fighting her when she tended them. Night and fights may have brought relief to the troops that night, but by the time she'd bandaged the last of the wounds she was just as cranky as everyone else in the room. There was no relief for her when she slunk home in exhaustion.

Marion
07/23/2006 7:10 PM

Ssarl slept but he did so uneasily. As he rested however, many other things occured.

For one, a large band of mounted nomads galloped to the gates of Jikalib and the guard there halted them.
"Stop where you are Nomads of the desert! What business do you bring to the shah and his consecrated people?"

The nomads were the humans whom ventuvius had so cleverly douped not but a few nights back. Believing that th eminotaur had assassinated their leaders, they threw their lot in with the catmen. Thier new leader looked like a strapping young buck full of potential and vivacity. Yet he held wisdom in his young eyes. He dismounted and walked slowly towards the guard.

"My name is Ret. In the name of the nomads I greet you and bring peace to the shah, and war to his enemies. A few nights back, a minotaur assassin stole into our camp and killed my father, our proud and respected leader. I have taken over the rule in his stead and have vowed vengeance on the minotaur. I have sent word to the scattered nomad tribes throughout the desert and all able bodied warriors have come. It is not much, but I bring 2,000 mounts to the shah's service. It does not take a mystic to see that war looms on the horizon and we hope to shed minotaur blood along side the catmen. Please accept our service."

"I will take your message to the court." The guard replied and he had another replace him as he dissappeared into the city. Not long after, mayybe 20 minutes, he returned and as with the Dark elves, then nomads were accepted but ordered to make their camp outside the city on the opposite side as the dark ones.
"Be prepared to muster in the morning" The guard said.

Ret nodded and led his people to their camp area.

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

Later in the night, many whispered about strange glowing light's emanating from the dark elf camp. They spoke of hearing whispers in dark alleys of the city and seeing shadowy figures slip through the nooks and crannies of Jikalib. their very presence was unsettling to all within the city.

Benjmn
07/26/2006 4:20 PM

Mattugur was glad to finally be out of that fort, and headed towards action.

When he had been recruited for this mission, they had attempted to get him to give up his armor and arms for the crossing. He had flatly refused, although he had conceded and given up his furs, though he threated to kill something if he returned and they were gone. He did purchase a tan, long-sleeved, hooded cotton robe to cover himself with. It would keep the sun from heating the metal of his armor to burning, was loose enough to allow a breeze to circulate inside of it, and the hood would allow him to cover his head if the sun became irritating.

The trip was uneventful, dissapointingly so to the bloodthirsty orc, until they spotted the human army. Though Mattugur, despite his many undesirable qualities, was no coward the sheer size of that army when compared with the size of the force he accompanied shook him. The sight of the muskets in particular worried him, especially when he considered his armor was made of rings of metal sewn to leather, a combination not particularly effective against a bullet.

When one of his travelling companions, another human, said "I must join them, right?" Mattugur immediately took notice, grasping his knife under his robe in case the man made a move to alert the army to their prescence. Though desirous of a fight, Mattugur preferred not to be the victim of a slaughter. He relaxed some when the minotaur who had recruited him, Theocritus, reined the human, Matasake, he thought it was called, in. He still did not trust the humans though, and made sure to stay behind them as they entered the tunnel.

The dark tunnel was a welcome relief from the desert, and every step into it brought Mattugur closer to battle; a fact that filled Mattugur with a sanguinary anticipation.

teutonicknight
07/26/2006 7:16 PM

Ventuvius entered Maugrom's sleeping quarters quietly as a shadow. The orc's cry hadn't awoken Maugrom. That was good. Ventuvius slowly and quietly approached the sleeping minotaur. The anticipation was so thick Ventuvius could feel his own heart pounding in his chest. This was the moment he was aiming for. With a deft strike Ventuvius plunged his dagger into Maugrom's throat. The minotaur woke with a start and tried to yell, but the dagger blocked his throat and his cry came out as a blood-filled gurgle.

Ventuvius smiled down at the minotaur and said, "It's over. With your death the minotaur ranks will fall into dissention. The war may continue, but your people will be too busy trying to figure out what happened to realize they're chasing their own tails." With a final twist, Ventuvius wrested the life from Maugrom.

Returning outside to retrieve the orc's corpse, Ventuvius took the orc's sword and mauled the elven body beyond recognition. Planting evidence could be quite theraputic in times of dire stress. Then, Ventuvius drug the orc's corpse into Maugrom's room. There, he took Maugrom's dagger and shoved it into the eye that his dagger had previously occupied. Then, he flung Maugrom's corpse across the bed and shoved the orc's sword into his throat. After adjusting the orc's corpse to look like he had fallen victim to Maugrom, Ventuvius surveyed the scene. Everything looked like the orc had gotten drunk, slain the elven guard, entered Maugrom's room where they both killed each other.

Now all that remained was the escape. Ventuvius left Maugrom's room and surveyed the fort again. No sign of anyone still. So quiet. Something itched at Ventuvius's mind, but he couldn't quite place it. Shrugging off the feeling, Ventuvius proceeded back up the building. He would go back out the way he came in. Leaving the dead minotaur, orc, and elf, Ventuvius started on his trek back to Jikalab, successful.

Now all he would have to do is come up with an excuse good enough to avoid a court-marshal for this. As long as his efforts proved fruitful, he was sure he wouldn't be thrown in jail, but for insubordination he may be relieved from the military.

Marion
07/28/2006 7:01 AM

As the majestic sun burst brilliantly forth from the horizon a great blast sounded from the catman horn of war. The creeping sunlight pushed back the darkness to reveal mighty columns of catman infantry, cavalry, bowmen, peltists, skirmishers, chariots and massive siege weapons all marshalled on the sands before the gates of Jikalib. On the left Flank of this army were the 2,000 nomad infantrymen and on the right, the small band of Darkelves.

This was truly a sight to behold and Ssarl stood outside his tent watching the great numbers shuffle into their appointed place. A wide path was made directly down the center of the formations and the commanding general in all of his finery galloped with pride down this path, with his two aides at his side. This was not the whole of the catman army, but a very large part. A garrison force remained behind the walls for the defense of Jikalib.

At the appointed time, when the sun had reached it's sacred point just barely above the horizon, a Large bell sounded from inside the city of Jikalib and every living soul in the formation, Save for the Darkelves and Ssarl, fell to their knees with their hands to the sky and muttered silent incantations to the spirits. They stayed that way for 5 minuts and then rose to their feet.

The General then mounted his horse, lifted his great scimitar into the air, causing all of the banners and flags of the seperate divisions to be hoisted high in the sky.
"FORWARD..... MARCH!" his voice belted over the sands and echoed off the walls of jikalib. Not everyone could hear him clearly simply because of the size of the formation and the wind, but that's what the flags where for. When his scimitar dropped, so did the flags and banners lower as a visual sign to begin marching.

the formation began to Lurch forward like an obese serpent slithing over the sand. Ssarl slowly made his way to the formation and came to it just in time to meet the Dark elves who took up the position at the rear of the column, but ahead of the siege weapons. The dark elves had a horse waiting for him, which he mounted and proceeded to trot between the two warlocks, who were as silent and stoic as ever. The Nomad horsemen rode behind the general's elite guard and the Regular catman army made up the great bulk of the column. It would take a few days to reach Kraetos with this size army, but still the army was small for the task at hand. Ssarl was relying on Magic, poison, stealth and deception to carry his people to Victory.

renegadeirishman
07/28/2006 11:16 AM

Dalarak awoke as dawn crept over Kraetos. It was yet another blazingly hot day in the godforsaken desert. He put on his curaiss, bracers, and greaves. he slung his shield on his back and a broadsword on his hip and picked up his great halberd. He walked out of his tent, eyes squinting in the bright light. He thought he might go get some breakfast then report to PT. As he walked down the main lane of the fort, he noticed something strange. Everyone seemed to be gone. He didnt think too much about it, or about anything for that matter. He kept walking and then he saw everyone. "Whats going on?" he thought. He walked over to the crowd and despite the fact he was taller then all the others could not see what everyone was staring at. "What is happening?" Dalarak asked a nearby minotaur "Choss Maugrom has been murdered, it looks like by orcs!" "Why would the orcy's kill Maugrom?" "The foul creature was probably drunk." the other minotaur said with disgust. "Are we going to kill the orcy's?" "The murderer looks to have been killed by Maugrom as well." Dalarak did not like the feel of this situation, but it was not his place to say anything. He thought it was funny that a drunk orc could kill a well trained and lethal elven warrior and then kill a trained minotaur officer, but what did he know? All he wanted was to fight sandkittens.

Tetrius
07/28/2006 11:28 AM

The Emperor of the Human Empire, seated upon a magnificent black stallion, watched as the coloumns of his soliders marched across these hot dunes towards Jikalab. The [i]gaijin[/i] were most unworthy of his aid, but he felt he should give it in return for a good favour in the future. There was a lot of goods for example these foriegners have that never reach Human markets or docks.

"Divine Emperor!" called a soldier, "A catman army has been spotted leaving the gates of Jikalab. What are your orders?"

The Emperor grinned and issued his command.

teutonicknight
07/28/2006 9:46 PM

Ventuvius lept down off the moutain side. It had been a long and arduous journey back out of Kraetos. The sun was already up, and Ventuvius was tired from not being able to get any sleep last night. Now wasn't a good time to try to make up for it either. He was still far too close to Kraetos. Keeping along the moutainside, Ventuvius started his journey back to Jikalib.

Ventuvius thought on what his excuse would be for his leave of absence. He could explain that a mystic had told him a prophecy he must fulfill, which he did of course, but that might not hold much weight with the brass. He could admit to taking initiative in an attempt to soften the minotaur defenses before a strike, but again the army wouldn't be pleased with a mere lieutenant deciding his orders by himself.

There would be plenty of time to continue thinking this over, but as time went by Ventuvius thought there were less and less possibilities to excuse his actions. He may have to wait to report until the effects of the assassination were determined.

Tetrius
07/29/2006 8:08 AM

The moment Theocritus entered the cool tunnels of the sappers' underground headquarters he knew something was afoot (or ahoof as the minotaurs say). There was dark mutterings and evil glances between the minotaurs and the few orcs stationed as guards at the sapping point. The only thing that was stopping them from clashing were the officers and even they bore dark resentment towards their green-skinned allies.
The commanding sohtr, a large black furred minotaur, of the operation arrived, carrying a bulky bundle awkwardly. He was obviously a grizzled veteran, as he had an eyepatch over his left eyes and a stump where his left arm should be and uncounted scars and old battle wounds crisscrossed his body. He gave the orc, Mattugur, a cold stare.

"Chemnos," he said, as Theocritus saluted, "This arrived for you along with a message from a carrier gryphon. Since you were travelling out in the desert I doubt you or your party heard the news."

Theocritus opened the bundle and saw a new breastplate and shield in there. "Thank you sire," said Theocritus, saluting once more, "What news was it?"

The sohtr's eyes darkened even more.

"Treachory most foul, chemnos, has struck Kraetos shortly after you left. An orc, under the heavy influence of alcohol we believe, stumbled through to the officer's area of the fort and into the chambers of Choss Maugrom. He managed to subdue the elfish guard Maugrom had posted there and slew the Choss in his chambers. The orc himself was found dead, Maugrom's dagger in his eye.
"So at least the Etik Sohtr's son managed to gain himself [i]that[/i] honour before he died."

Theocritus didn't know what to think or what to say. An orc? Such treason!! Death was too good for the back stabbing, snot-skinned bastard!
Yet a more reasoning part of his being pondered. How could an orc, drunk as a skunk, take down not only an elfish guard (and all knew how deadly they were in combat) but a fully trained, full grown minotaur? And even orcs don't go that homicidal when drunk (it was usually just humans).

"This...this is an outrage!" spat Matakase, his brow furrowed, "I am glad for that beast's death! I just wish I could have been there so I could have ripped that orc's head from his neck myself!"

Theocritus gave the samurai a wide eyed look, surprise taking over anger and grief. He had never seen the human like this before.

"I'm sure there are many who would wish the same," agreed the sohtr, "But enough chit-chat. We have nearly reached Jikalab's walls. If you could help us with the raid, chemnos and you humans and orc, we could easily disrupt the catmen and make this easier. And since we lost one officer, whether to one our own swords or not, a hundred of theirs may perish."

"I will be one of the first into battle," promised Theocritus. He was backed by the two samurai, who both pledged their swords to this procedure.

2And what of you, orc?" said the sohtr, venom dripping from his voice as he regarded the warrior.

Benjmn
07/29/2006 12:26 PM

As Mattugur entered the tunnel, he saw the hatred the minoataurs felt for the other orcs. At first he thought it was the standard disdain in which they held his race, but after a moment it penetrated his skull that the minotaurs were almost homicidal. This was not good; every raiding group he had ever fought with had felt like this after a string of failed raids. It had almost always led to infighting.

A big one-eyed minotaur approached Theocritus and began speaking with him. Curious, Mattugur moved closer, and caught the story of the Choss's death by drunken orc.

At first the story struck Mattugur as very funny. One of the best trained minotaur warriors and and an elven warrior struck down by a lone drunken orc. Before he chuckled, an act which likely would have gotten him killed, he recalled the only elf he had ever slain. Many of his tribe had died to that elvish mercernary before Mattugur had killed him, and he had only been able to do that because he was beserking, and had still nearly died. No, there was no orc warrior, with the possible exception of himself, (OOC: that is ego, not me saying he is the greatest orc warrior ever) that could have pulled off what they were describing.

"Drunken orc could not have killed elfy. It does not matter though; Mattugur came long way to help minotaur kill kitties, and will not go home without battle."

"And plunder," he added on in his mind.

Tetrius
07/29/2006 3:03 PM

The sohtr was upon the orc immediately.

"So you know something do you!?" he spat savagely, making Theocritus jump.

"Sire," he said "Mattugur couldn't have had anything to do with this, he was travelling with me, remember?"

The sohtr blinked and then straightened.

"Huh. Lucky for you, chemnos Theocritus here to stand up for you..."

He strode off, muttering dark things under his breath.

teutonicknight
07/29/2006 3:31 PM

Ventuvius made quick progress away from Kraetos. The further he was from the site of the assassination the better. Though exhaustion and fatigue quickly caught up with him. It was barely noon before he had to stop to sleep. He found a crevasse in the mountainface that would provide shade for him. He curled up in the shade and proceeded to get some much needed sleep.

renegadeirishman
07/30/2006 3:48 PM

The other minotaur seemed like they wanted to hurt the orcs. Dalarak thought. He still thought the situation was strange, but was content not to think too much about it, he felt it was better to leave that to people who were better thinkers then him. All he knew was he wouldnt kill one of the orcs unless directly ordered to. Dalarak walked away, thinking about breakfast.

Benjmn
07/30/2006 4:45 PM

Mattugur was irritated by the one-eye's yelling in his face. He was angered by his second comments, about how he was "lucky" to be stood up for. Angrily, he shouted after the minotaur,

"Does one-eyed steer think that I fear it? I have killed elf!"

While saying that, he pulled his long braid out from his robe and held it up to display a dessicated, though clearly elven, ear woven into the braid.

"Elf good fighter. Elf best fighter ever killed by me. No drunk orc could kill elf, and no half-steer can kill Mattugur."

His anger was unabated as he waited for the minotaur to respond. He appeared almost crazed, and indeed he was. It had been months since he had been involved in a fight serious enough to trigger his beserk state, and that along with his constant resentment of minotaur disdain and rules combined with anger over the perceived insult from the one-eyed minotaur to place him a hair away from beserking. Part of him knew that this was not the time or place to beserk, but most of him didn't care.

Tetrius
07/31/2006 6:33 AM

The sohtr sneered at the ear and continued to walk off, ignoring the orc's howls and challenges as though he were naught but a surly teenager complaining about having to clean to his room out. Theocritus decided to treat the orc with caution, since he could see the tell-tale signs of a bloodlust coming along; harsh breathing, clenched fists, muscles more prominenet and ready for a fight and a faint red tinge to the eyes (when the bloodlust comes into full play they will be red-in-red).

And when an orc entered that stage its best to stand well back, usually about a mile or two behind and in extrememly heavy dwarf titanium armour.

He carefully led the orc away from the sohtr, hoping that this further action won't trigger the rage and send the orc and, beforehand, half the base to their graves. This was one of the reasons the orcs were eagerly snapped up by the Council as allies. Simply place one in the middle of a group of catmen and they'll all be dead in a couple of minutes.

"Orc, I wouldn't tangle with sohtr right now," he said in a cautious and hopfully calming tone, "I have no doubts you'll take his own ears as a trophy but it'll only worsen tensions between orcs and minotaurs here. And as tough as you orcs are, we still outnumber you a hundred to one. We'd only end up destorying each other whilst the catmen grow fat on our bickering. Try to remember who our real enemies are."

He didn't kow how the orc would take this, so he stepped a few feet back and the two humans behind kept their hands on the katanas.
Theocritus tapped a passing sapper on the shoulder and asked him for a progress report of the digging. He was only a nemnos, the lowest rank of all, so the sapper gave him the rough amount of time before surfacing and the time all fighting minotaurs needed to be at the digging site. Theocritus was also treated with the word that several detachments of minotaur hoplites and macemen were being sent from the newly conquered settlements. According to the sapper, the sappers will break through in roughly two days and one night if they kept up at the rate they were going now, perhaps sooner if everyone in the HQ chipped in with the digging and setting up of props.

"We've had a long journey I'm afraid," said Theocritus, "And we made it all on foot. We'll help tomorrow though, this I promise." He gave the orc a quick glance, remembering how he liked to shy away from hard work, "Most of us anyway."

Marion
07/31/2006 9:53 AM

They had been marching all day with brief periods of rest. Even for a well worn catman army, used to the scorching heat, this was no easy task. But they did not wear plate or any kind of metallic armor, they only wore cloth with some leather here and there. The catmen preferred to not have anything restrict their lithe movements and they did not want to hamnper their speed. Plus it was hot and they learned long ago that plate armor did not hold up well under the blow of a minotaur or orc axe.

Finally, they reached an oasis. The same Oasis where Ventuvius had commited his deed to secure the loyalty of the human nomads. When they reached the Oasis, the flags raised and the Column halted. The sun began to set as all of the units began to make camp and refill their water skins. A cool breeze began to blow through the desert and the army rested.

teutonicknight
07/31/2006 10:37 AM

Ventuvuis was woken by a soft breeze wafting through the crevasse. Ventuvius looked outside; the sun was setting. Night was falling. He had slept through the entire afternoon. He had been more tired than he thought. Shrugging out of the crevasse, Ventuvuis started to think. He had been woken by a breeze, but the air outside here was still as a pond.

Ventuvius went back to the crevasse to feel the air there. There was a slight breeze comming out of the crevasse. There was a cave or tunnel back there. Carefully Ventuvuis crawled further and further back through the rock. It was rough hewn and difficult to navigate before he suddenly emerged into a tunnel of sorts.

Ventuvius looked about the place. There was virtually no light, and even Ventuvius' low-light vision had trouble seeing things. Ventuvius couldn't see much, but he heard something. Hoofbeats. Minotaurs were approaching. A lot of minotaurs. Ventuvius sank back into the hole he had emerged from and waited for the minotaurs to pass.

Ventuvius kept very still as a detachment of minotaur warriors marched by. He was lucky they weren't looking for anyone because they had lanterns. They would have been able to see him while the sudden light would have blinded him. Ventuvius counted at least one hundred minotaur warriors in the formation. What were they doing? Where were they going?

After they had passed, Ventuvius crept back into the tunnel and guaged the direction it was headed. It was roughly in the direction of Jikalib. What if the tunnel did go there? If the minotaurs had found a way to get under the fort . . . this could be bad. Ventuvius was about to turn around and go back out and over the desert, but he stopped. Would they even believe him after his insubordination? Momentary doubt caused Ventuvius to change his mind. Instead of going back to Jikalib over the desert, he quietly followed after the minotaurs. He would find out what was going on for certain.

Benjmn
08/01/2006 10:27 PM

Mattugur's blood began to cool as he was led away and it became apparent no one was going to fight him. He was dissapointed, but as his anger had cooled he was not surprised. He should not have expected the minotaur to respond to being called a eunuch the same way an orc would.

As he noticed the defensive, nervous, or scared postures of those in proximity to him he felt satisfied. Even if the one-eye had not fought him, he had not lost any standing in the eyes of the other orcs, and (in his mind) shown the humans and minotaurs that he would not submit to insult.

"Orc, I wouldn't tangle with sohtr right now. I have no doubts you'll take his own ears as a trophy but it'll only worsen tensions between orcs and minotaurs here. And as tough as you orcs are, we still outnumber you a hundred to one. We'd only end up destorying each other whilst the catmen grow fat on our bickering. Try to remember who our real enemies are."

Theocritus said, which in Mattugur's mind reinforced that confrontation was the only way to keep the minotaur from dealing him insult after insult.

He stood still for a moment, and decided, in his now vastly improved mood, to play a joke. He glanced around, and picked a smallish orc who had likely never left home before as his victim. With a loud roar/yell, Mattugur jumped at the unfortunate orc, who promptly ran down the tunnel, but only got a few steps before stopping at the sound of Mattugur's bellowing laughter.

"I see your mother taught you how to fight a beserker!" Mattugur said in Orcish, as most of the other orcs joined in his laughter, after realizing that he was not going to actually beserk.

[Edited by Benjmn on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 10:29 PM]

Marion
08/07/2006 12:15 AM

The sentries reported nothing out of the ordinary during the night. It was almost too peaceful. Ssarl thought for sure that they would have been spotted by the Minotaur scouts or patrols by now. It was possible that they were spotted, but the horned ones made no sign that they were aware of their presence.

Again, Ssarl found his sleep disturbed and restless. Again, the dark elves cast a gloomy shadow over the entirety of the army and seemed to not sleep during the night.
Early in the morning while it was still dark and somewhat chilly the army packed their things, got back into formation and trodded off once more towards the minotaur fortress. All of the soldiers had gotten much needed rest and the army replenished and strengthened its water supply. At the pace they were keeping they were sure to reach Kraetos by the end of the day.

Tetrius
08/10/2006 10:40 AM

The sappers dug away, sweat glistening on their fur and dripping from their limbs as they dug away at the sand and mud in front of them, building supports to keep the ceiling from collapsing and poking air holes through the walls. Several orcs aided them, mainly by carrying wheelbarrows full of earth to a designated area and dumping it without much ceremony. It was hot and stuffy in the tunnels and everynow and then slight tremors and showers of dust halted all work and drew fearful eyes to the ceiling in anticipation of a cave in. Several yards back, work was made to secure these tunnels with stone walls and lamps and better ventilation. It was in on of these new rooms that Theocritus currently lay, watching a bug crawl across the wall ponderously as though unsure where to go. It disappeared into a crack after a while.
With a sigh, Theocritus sat up and looked to Mattugur, who was bunked in the same room much (as were two other soldiers who Theocritus had yet to meet), stinking the room out with his foul cooking.

"We should be breaking through soon orc, are you prepared?" he asked, not unkindly. To tell the truth the orcs were the minotaurs' secret weapon, they would be sent through first to startle and soften up the enemy and then several dozen minotaur swordsmen will follow to give them support. Whilst they were providing an ample distraction Theocritus and his team will be sent to raid the supplies and sabotage the enemy's defences and chain of command. They were also allowed, if they could, to capture or assassinate the Shah or a general. This was seen as ample payment for the death of Maugrom, who although was killed by friendly arms was still going to be avenged in a way equal to his station. A drunk orc does not quite, alas, fill that bill. Theocritus leaned over his bed and looked at his hooves, he still felt somewhat guilty for Maugrom's death...what if he were there to provide aid? Could he have beaten back that orc?

"I shouldn't press such thoughts upon myself..." he mumured under his breath before standing up and heading to the sparring room to try and stop thinking. He wasn't paid enough to think when not ordered to.

teutonicknight
08/10/2006 11:33 AM

It felt like days that Ventuvius was following the minotaur patrol down the tunnel, though he knew it to be no more than six hours at most. Something seemed different, though. Now the walls weren't rough-hewn stone caverns, but rather smooth sand packings. Ventuvius saw supports up too. This means that the minotaurs have been digging their way through here. What other destination could there be but Jikalib?

Ventuvius suddenly stopped when he heard grunts and yells of people practicing martial arts. He heard the crack of wooden practice blades. So he was close. Perhaps close enough to be able to gauge the rough strength of the minotaur force. Perhaps too close to get away safely.

Weighing the options, Ventuvius decided he had gone too far to back down now. He cautiously continued on, hoping to find some way to guestimate the strength of the force down here.

Benjmn
08/10/2006 6:23 PM


"We should be breaking through soon orc, are you prepared?" he asked, not unkindly.


Mattugur, sullen about there being no orc-wenches around to make him a proper meal, grumbled, "Been ready for weeks." He then tasted the "stew", foul even by orc standards, that he was preparing. He nearly spit it out at first, but after swishing it around in his mouth, he decided that it was not so bad after all. Could use more meat, but there had been no fresh meat since that desert rat he had caught on the way, and he was not about to ask anyone for meat. Some orcs who feared strength would resort to...poison. Scum.

He finished his meal, and walked out after the minotaur. He was almost bored enough to help dig, but he had seen the minotaur walk out and turn in the direction of the training area; that seemed like a much better way to pass the time.

As he neared the practice area he heard the sounds of "sparring". While at first he had thought the idea of fighting with fake weapons was ridicuous, now anything seemed better than sitting around. Then he smelled something strange. Almost like..cat. He paused, and snorted, trying to clear the smell of dinner from his nose. He could not find the smell again. "Must have been dreaming...cat would have tasted good," he muttered to himself while continuing after Theocritus.

[Edited by Benjmn on Thursday, August 10, 2006 6:27 PM]

renegadeirishman
08/10/2006 11:41 PM

"Follow the catmen," The divine emperor said "Make them think we aid them. When battle comes we will see who to give our might too."

Marion
08/12/2006 10:24 PM

Evening drew on and a cool wind began to blow through the desert. The army had been marching at a grueling pace but the reward now became apparent. For as they crested a large sand dune the land flattened out and there in the distance, with the setting sun at its back, was Kraetos, the minotaur fortress.

the Catman general sat high in his mount looking at the fortress as the rest of the army came rolling up behind him. Kraetos was still a ways away, but It was only flat land between the army and the fortress from here on out except for the rocky mountain which made up the north side of Kraetos.

"We make camp here tonight and attack at dawn" The general told his commanders, who thus spread the word down the chain of command.

Marion
08/13/2006 5:09 PM

The Ranks of the catmen army, rolled out their bedding and laid down to rest as the hot sun finally sank below the horizon. the next morning would see countless deaths and much blood. Ssarl sat indian style on top of the dune, his blind eyes faced towards Kraetos. He was lost in silent meditation, communing with the spirits about the chaotic events to come. However he was interrupted by the two Dark elf warlocks who stood on either side of him. They spoke for the first time in a hoarse whisper.

"It is time to make the preparations." the one to the right of him said.

Ssarl awoke from his trance and stood slowly to his feet, like a weary old man. He leaned on his staff, still facing Kraetos. He liked this time of twilight.

"The ritual will take all night, and must be completed with the rising of the sun." the one to his left said.

"Do what you must." Ssarl replied. He then turned around and walked to the rear of the encampment and looked out over the army. He then murmered silent incantations with his head bowed and he raised his staff over the great catman assembly. Slowly, bit by bit, the sand around the army floated into the air. Blue smoke rose from the ram skull on Ssarl's head and the sand gathered over the heads of the catman soldiers until it became a great swirling dust cloud which hid the catman army from the view of Kraetos. Ssarl knew that the Minotaurs were aware of their presence, he just wanted to hide their numbers. Inside the dust storm however, all was quiet and clear. The catman army slept in peace beneath the dust cloud and ssarl too found time to get some rest.

The Warlocks looked at eachother and then began an ornate and complex combination of rituals on the top of the sand dune overlooking Kraetos. for the first few hours they stood only silently with their hands together much in the manner of prayer. Many of the soldiers in the army watched them but grew bored for it seemed as if they were doing nothing. Late at night however, each of them drew out a bag in which was some sort of black ash like substance. They used this ash to draw two large circles side by side on the sand and then proceeded to draw archaic runes and mystical symbols within the circles. They worked extremely slowly and placed little bones and pieces of cloth within and outside the circle. When they had finished, each warlock knelt behind the circle he had made and waited for the sun to rise.

Tetrius
08/23/2006 3:56 PM

Theocritus and the rest of the minotaurs stood in the tunnel, ready to charge on the Choss' orders. The others were all gathered as the sappers shovelled the final spades of earth away. The orc and Matakase were beside him. Matakase was wearing full battle armour and a rather creepy battlemask with long whiskers. His katana glinted in the weak light the lanterns cast.

"Ready?" he asked the two.

The earth fell away and sunlight flooded into the tunnel. So did boiling hot pitch.

Benjmn
08/23/2006 10:32 PM

Mattugur stood beside the minotaur as the tunnel was completed. At the minotaur's insistence, he was going to wait till he heard the order to attack the cats.

The earth fell away and sunlight flooded into the tunnel. So did boiling hot pitch.

Mattugur jumped back as the boiling pitch splashed into the tunnel. He avoided being hit by the main pour, but it splashed onto his boots and was flowing back along the tunnel floor. Looking out the tunnel mouth, he saw an overturned pot that looked to have been hastily dragged from elsewhere. In front of the tunnel, two thin lines of leather-wearing catmen with spears, about twenty in all, were just forming. The sounds of alarm could be heard from the city, so at least a few more could be expected to show up. This would be fun. Then he heard the word he had been waiting for for months.

"Charge!"

Leaping as far forward as he could, he cleared some of the pitch, but still landed in it. Pain shot up through the soles of his boots, and he saw red as he beserked.

[Edited by Benjmn on Friday, August 25, 2006 12:49 PM]

teutonicknight
08/24/2006 4:14 PM

Ventuvius heard someone yell "Charge!" followed by masses of people in armour clamouring about. This was not good. The minotaurs' army had circumvented the biggest asset in the Catmen's defenses: the wall. Jikalib was sure to fall.

For the first time in his life, Ventuvius hesitated. He didn't know what to do. He knew he had to do something to help, but if he were to charge at the attacking army he would be killed mercilessly without doing much than possibly kill a cowhead or two. He would be betraying all those in the fort to die by standing there like a coward, though.

[i]What to do?![/i] The thought echoed through Ventuvius' mind over and over. He became dizzy from it all. He sank to his knees. Was this panic? No. Ventuvius would most definitely not panic. He took a deep breath and stood up again. Now was not a time to delay. Most of the sound of armoured figures had died down. The tunnels must be mostly empty now save him. The minotaurs had to have brought some sort of explosive to help with the digging. If only Ventuvius could find where . . .

Benjmn
08/25/2006 12:59 PM

Now oblivious to all but the catmen he saw in front of him, he climbed out of the hole and charged them, roaring in rage, with his greatclub held back at an angle. The sight of a beserker was a new one to these recruits, but they managed to not break and run, and tried to jab out with their spears. The crazed orc swept his club across, left to right, nearly knocking their spears from their grasp with his crazed strength.

Never slowing his pace, he crashed into the line of catmen, knocking down two of them. He brought his greatclub down on one of them, crushing it. The other he had knocked down tried to run. Mattugur brought his club across hitting it in the side of its skull as it rose, killing it instantly and sending into a sideways flip. He felt a small point of pressure on his back, and whirled around, bringing his club over his head as he did. One of the catman soldiers was crushed under it, his sword falling to the ground after failing to penetrate Mattugur's armor.

Some of the catmen began to try to circle him, to take him down with their better range, but the rest of the charge hit. Those of that small group of catmen that were not killed quickly ran down the street. Mattugur, his bloodlust not yet sated, gave chase.

Tetrius
08/29/2006 9:44 AM

The boiling pitch boiled the minotaurs (and the sappers) in the first few rows alive, their tortured screams filling the cave and threatening to burst Theocritus' eardrums. The smell was horrid yet to the orcs it reminded them of a nice BBQ back in their tribal villages and this motivated them to burst through, literally sending the defending catmen flying. Theocritus suffered only scorched hooves and reduced morale from the pitch but this was quickly remedied as he drew his sword and charged into the ranks of the enemy, cursing their existence into Hades.

Behind Matakase aimed his bow and shot an arrow into the eye of an unfortuanate catman who was about to stab a minotaur hoplite in the back. The catmen apparently found out their plan, as was shown by the boiling pot of pitch as they surfaced, thus fighting was harder than the minotaurs and the orcs expected. Catmen archers lined the walls and peppered the flanks of the minotaurs with arrows, several had mounted balliastae and were adding to their volley with deadly bolts that shot through whole lines of minotaurs and, worst of all, they appeared to have an elf amongst them.

Theocritus bashed one of his attackers in the nose with his shield and pierced his belly with his sword as the catman staggered from the blow. He swung round quickly and decapitated a catman who was trying to pull a fast one on the minotaur and suddenly felt a sharp pain under his arm. Enraged, Theocritus grabbed his attacker by the throat and slowly crushed his neck in one huge fist, the catmen gurgling and kicking madly as he did so. This act of brutality however, did nothing to stop the bleeding. The wound was quite deep. Choosing to worry about it later, Theocritus waded through the mass assailants and made his way through the streets to what looked like the Shah's palace, where the fighting will be better.

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