Bastion

Wolves and Crows
Week 7

Thnking better of it, and knowing the Ech’lun could not be left unprotected, the scouts rally to the Ech’lun. Once collected, the group presses on to the Ech’lun village. They are welcomed by warriors on horseback, and lead within the village.

They learned of the Briarhoof, an Ech’lun clan of druids and growers, learned of the Crows, the allied clan of battle-hardened warriors that has allied with them, seemingly out of necessity. Gifts are exchanged, items of value, steel blades, horses, seeds. Normally, such immediate discussions would have been impossible, if not for a woman within the village who speaks both the Chosoan and Ech’lun tongue. The translator, Mako, is half-offered, half-forced into the act of diplomacy. One cannot quite know why the lost colonist wouldn’t want to return to her own kind, and yet she seeks to return as soon as possible.

However, work is not rushed in aiding the new colonists in learning the Ech’lun tongue. It is a rough start, but enough to speak like younglings. Whilst Mako is to complete this work, the scouting party is ordered to push into the forest, to determine the safety of the land that surrounds them, and return.

The journey deeper into the forest is one of difficulty. Soon, they are walking among elder trees, with roots as thick as logs, and trunks that stretch to the sky. They huddle about an obelisk at night, cramped firelight casting shadows and every small movement sounding like predators just at the edge of the light.

The next day, they reach an old stone road and follow it to an abandoned village. The structures are small and stout, and appears at the base of the entrance to a Dwarven stronghold. The scouts are only there but for a short time before being set upon by wolves. Some of which walk upon their hind legs. The battle is brutal and quick, but the wolves are slain. Wounded, they collect the bodies into a pile before retreating within one of the buildings, tending to their injuries and resting.

“A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can’t grow roots just as the storm appears on the horizon.”
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Lok'tar Ogar
Week 6

The colony wakes early, preparing for the trek inland. A Dwarf is already stirring at the edge of the coast, preparing a gift unto Salt, the god of the sea and storms. It is carved out of driftwood, with the meat of her first kill on the island. A tribute from the reward of a good hunt. The Cleric of Salt puts forward that such a thing might be a better gift unto Galawain, the patron of hunters, for Salt is the god of loss and hardship. Undeterred, the Dwarf makes her tribute and prepares for the day ahead.

On the way through the hills, the caravan comes across an exhausted group of Ech’lun, carrying a heavily wounded Elf between them. A member of the colony, she had risked the night and Orcs to aid the Ech’lun in escaping before Gilus’ attack. A small, painful victory.

Night descends, and the colonists line up around the Orc camp, raining fire and arrows down upon them. Their tents alight and kin bleeding upon the dirt, the Orcs surge into combat with the colonists. Brutality and blood-letting leads to the defeat of Irontooth and the Orc clan nestled within the hills, their homes burned, and slaughtered to the last. Gilus feels confident one threat has been put to rest, and come morning, the colony continues on to the river, where the beginnings of a colony is fostered.

The scouting party, having little else to do, offer to return the Ech’lun prisoners to their camp. They follow the river once more, make it as far as the lake, when a mysterious apparition conjures upon the bank. This hooded figure summons such terror, the Ech’lun flee in horror across the grasslands.

“The majority of important things cannot be said outright, they cannot be made explicit. They can only be implied.”
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The Pyramid in the Lake
Week 5

The scouting party follows the river down to a lake, and observe a strange construction nestled in it’s center, a pyramid of black stone, not so different from the obelisk they’d seen the day before. Unwilling to risk the waters or what lay beneath it’s surface, they continue on, finding a road that leads them to an Ech’lun village, nestled against the wide rivers that split from the lake.

Like with the barbarians they’d scouted before, they choose to remain hidden, and avoid a confrontation. Their travels cease come nightfall, and fearful of being spotted on the open plain, they don’t dare light a campfire. They perhaps go unnoticed by many, but not by the blood-sucking vermin which flood the night sky. They descend like a cloud, and do not perish without a few pints of blood.

The following day, their path through the hills, back to the camp, draws them near to the Orc encampment. Ech’lun can be seen within their grounds, bound with rope, but to attempt to free them is suicide. They retreat to camp and report their findings. A suitable ground for colonization is confirmed, but the orcs yet remain in the way. They must be dealt with, and none should be given quarter.

The Ech’lun prisoners might perish in the battle that is to come, but the only hope is that they might stay out of harm’s way and survive. Gilus has little sympathy for savages. In the night, one takes off on their own, intent to make a difference.

“A tree doesn’t make a thunderstorm, but any fool knows where lightning’s going to strike.”
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Dark Portents
Week 4

The scouting element returns, and with repairs nearly complete, they prepare to set off. The supplies are gathered, the colonists are ferried unto the ship, and the Sea Otter departs from Eastern Aloseph.

A whirlwind of dreams torment the servant of Sol. Nightmares out of place and time. In the mind, the fever becomes a fire, engulfing the body. Standing in a church, melting from inside and out, the holy temple itself, burning down all around. The roof gives way to the blood-red moon above. His hand reaches up and finds the moon to be like liquid metal, but still firm enough that his fingers can close, and pull it down to the Bastion.

The dreams, like a sickness, are slowly purged, night by fitful night. There is no answer to the cause, but there are many suspects. The ship does not wait for such a mystery to be solved, and soon the scouting party is back upon land, searching for place to set stakes. An eerie black obelisk is found jutting out of the ground out in the middle of the grasslands. Against better judgement, some touch it’s surface, finding it to be surprisingly cool. Tumdrum does not touch the pillar.

Later, after surviving an ambush by some of the indigenous Orcs, the scouting party discovers that Tumdrum has two shadows. One opposite the sun, another shadow casting towards the Northeast. At dawn, the second shadow has disappeared, but in the night, keen ears heard the beating of many small wings.

“…if I have ever met someone without a single shadow on their heart, it was surely a child too young for speaking.”
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Tears of Elora
Week 3

The Cleric of Salt takes her armor down to the sea, she builds a fire and recites a hymn for the tides. They all think her insane, but when the Drowned ones pull themselves from the surf, and she is ready to meet them with armor and blade, whilst others can only manage to appear with their flesh and what lay close at hand.

The Drowned Ones came for meat, but found animals entrenched into a corner. The fighting was fierce and desperate, and the creatures would litter the coast by the morn. Abominations of what once were men, it seemed, but if it bled, it could be slain.

Night receded to the light of Sol, and with repairs still underway, the scouting party is sent to investigate the town, appropriate any supplies they find, and return safely. Harrowdown is a city for the ghosts, dilapidated shops, and stories of lives now past. It is not all without event, however. As in their scavenging, the Cleric of Sol finds what appears to be a shattered mirror, once powerful, now only a whisper of a gateway. He touches his hand to a shard, feels the passage of something. Momentarily fatigued, drained, like a bottle uncorked. It is not long before he is well once more, but the feeling is not easily forgotten. The shards are collected, for they seem… valuable.

Pursuing further, they reach a humble temple, housing a quiet clergyman, his life shriveled away and clutching to his bones. He screeches of corruption, of the fools, before he is raised high upon the pike, his shrine defaced and smashed, and the presence of something baleful bringing it’s eye upon the perpetrator. The group presses on, but they find no welcome on Harrowdown Hill. A being of shadow and metal awaits them on the Castle Walls, its gates surrounded with the dead and decayed, piles taller than a man against the wall. Shaken already, the scouting party turns away, and retreats back to camp.

The path home is one of stealth and concealment, as they find themselves not alone in the hills, barbarians and their dogs are spotted in the distance. They do not wish to meet.

“The sin is not in being outmatched, but in failing to recognize it.”
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Reconnaissance
Week 2

The first scouts had all returned, but for one that had gone south. No news was bad news. The Scouting Party was sent South to learn the fate of the others. It was a long trek, following footprints in the sand before they were enlightened. Most dead, one missing, feathered arrows of obsidian dipped in poison. The tips grew brittle in the sunlight. Wounds from blades, not claws.

The scouting party returns with their findings and is sent out to locate fresh water, make use of the time to map and seek a place to settle, whilst they waited for the Dreadnought’s repair. Finding supplies washed up on the shore, it is made apparent they are not the only group scavenging to survive. Outnumbered by malnourished, sickly-green creatures, arms are brought to bear in a quick and decisive skirmish, where the pitiful beings are slaughtered to the last, no quarter given to the one with a mind to flee. That still, is not enough, tracking them back to their home, the ones hiding within their caves are laid low and additional crates of their rightful property is returned to the camp.

A humble township is scouted out to the North, past the Winter of it’s life, it is a husk. Decaying walls and buildings, the Scouting Party is unnerved and chooses different avenues. Further North, looping about the coast, the lights of the night is revealed to be a Hobgoblin camp in the day, numbering hundreds strong. Better to be away from this land as soon as possible.

The Scouting Party winds down the last hours of the day within the Westward jungle, brandishing fire at hungry predators and digging their way deeper within the trees. Deep within the jungle, where the light cannot penetrate the canopy, they discover a small hut, smelling of herbal scents and exotic spices. The well-armed group are met with a studious Drow, Nervous, but not unwelcome, a conversation of origins and intentions is had, before a bargain is reached. The mysterious Drow will provide what knowledge and guidance she may have, and the colony would see to her shelter, sustainment, and sanctuary.

Out of good faith, she gifts her ring of windwalking to them- “Hopefully now, you shall have more need of this than I.” A mistake.

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Into the Storm
Week 1

The long journey seems almost at an end, four ships drop anchor at the edge of the stormy seas, black clouds looming high and ahead like a rallying force. There was no lightning, no percussion of thunder, but every piece seemed in it’s place- just in case they were needed in a hurry. The Admiral was tracing the last fingers of daylight on the Horizon, and knew when to bide his time. They’d been upon the high seas for months, and they could suffer another night rather than be lost to the black of night and this infamous coast.

As the dusk settled in, a Cleric takes to the bow of the ship, feeling the change in the winds, the charge in the air, like just before a strike. The gulls had taken to circling the ships, and it was a trifling thing to call one to her. It wasn’t enough until she’d known it’s name, known the life of this creature that trusted her as servant of the sea. Only once it trusted her, knew her by name, did she break it’s neck in her hands and cast the vessel into the flames. A sacrifice of tears and a thread burnt to it’s end would gain the attention she desired.

As dusk stretched into night, the bells tolled among the anchored dreadnoughts and the men climbed their way up and down the ropes, like the changing of the guard. Hardly had they settled in when the waves began to pitch and the wind began to tear past the mast. The thunder rolled, and it wasn’t long before it was heard overhead. Had it sallied out to meet them, or were the ships being dragged closer? Nature herself turned against them, and the circumstances of this ambush were not left to the imagination for long. Lightning, hammering down like the hand of a god, smashed upon the Dreadnoughts. All that could be done was to haul up the anchors, to call for full sail and ride the wind into the heart of it. The Admiral had been off-guard, but it was his intention to not be caught dead.

Sado’s Pride was the first to go, at the front and utterly ravaged by fire born from the strikes, for even the Dreadnoughts were little more than floating tinderboxes to a fire. Abbadon’s Hammer followed soon after. The Sea Otter might have been next but for an odd peculiarity, the unnatural attacks could find no purchase, repelled by an opposing force. The Fair Maiden followed close, but it too would not survive, sinking halfway into it’s grave in the bay, limping from the wounds.

The Sea Otter, the one remaining ship, could only stop and collect what survivors had made it out of the churning waters, a paltry few. The Drowned Ones would take all the rest. Too many bodies flooded upon the solitary ship, both wounded and waterlogged, and with the Sea Otter damaged as it was, there was no doubt they would be stopping here. A scouting party was mustered and sent ashore, to clear the coast for a proper landing. In the night, little lights could be seen far away, high up in the mountains, audacious and bright.

The lay of the land is found, Westwards is Jungle, boughs laden with spider silk. Northward cliffs and hills and coastline, undead are evaded, but soon pounced upon. The visage of a dragon upon their tattered armor, they are destroyed, but not before they take the lives of two sailors with them.

“You can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”
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