The Blooded Company

Survivor

Linos looked down at the small crystal in his hand, frowning with a look of heavy skepticism.

“Tell me again what this does,” he said.

“Da boss said it’d help him track on ya.” The speaker was one of the innumerable goblins employed by Uncle for various tasks. Tasks either requiring a degree of expendability or stupidity… or both. The goblins were crafty, but not very bright.

“He’s never seemed to care about tracking us before…” Linos mused. “Wait. You said ‘track on’. What do you mean track on?”

The goblin shrugged, a gesture that started down below its waist and traveled in a rippling wave upwards to undulate its shoulders in a series of complex curves. Shrugging was an art form among the goblins, as was shirking, loitering, yawning, and scratching various body parts. “Dunno,” it replied, beginning another one of its foul arts, this one involving its nose.

“I see.”

Linos stared down at the small crystal. It was mounted in a bronze setting backed by a pin. The goblin had said Uncle required the group to pin the crystals along the neckline of their clothing. Alternatively, they could pierce their earlobes and wear it as a sort of earring—anyone wanting the crystal remounted into an appropriate mounting for that would have the cost deducted from their “magnificent and munificent pay at a deeply discounted rate” or could make the arrangements themselves and pay out-of-pocket. Linos had no intention of sticking anything in his body that had been handled by goblins. Or that had been supplied by Uncle for that matter.

Yet again, and certainly not for the last time, Linos wished he could detect magic like Vivian did. He supposed he could seek her out—she was around, he knew—and attempt to convince her to examine the crystal. However, he discarded this idea. Vivian could easily see the energies of magic in both spells and enchanted items. She had no idea what any of the auras meant, however. It was frustrating for Linos, since he had made a study of such things, but lacked any ability to see them. Working together… didn’t.

Still… what could it hurt?


Far, far across the surface of the world, an ancient and immense blue wyrm stirred in it’s lair. Festooned with crystals and devices of strange and arcane metals, the lair looked less like that of a “normal” dragon, and more like some bizarre wizard’s laboratory. One of these crystals was now lit up with an image of Linos stalking through Uncle’s establishment.

That was odd. It wasn’t time for the scheduled broadcast. What was going on?

The vast creature tapped a few key crystals, bringing to life glowing runes that hung in mid-air, and then began rapidly scrolling. Apparently there was some type of crude scrying crystal that was broadcasting on a wide range of “frequencies”. Linos’s communication crystal was close enough to it that the communications crystal was picking up the image.

Strange. But… potentially useful. The cruder crystal would mask his own much more sophisticated link while providing a constant feed on the wyrm’s agent. For now, the dragon would tolerate this.

The view shifted as Linos looked around, and suddenly glowing script was superimposed over the view as a tinny-sounding musical score began to play.

What? What did “Survivor: City State” mean?

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