The Blooded Company

Adventure 11: Christmas, Sometimes On Fire

A rapping sound woke Uncle from his reverie. When the rapping sound upon the front door came again, Uncle pulled on his robe (though forgetting, or simply not caring enough, to cinch it). With his bedecked halls showing, the ancient philosopher-business-king flung the door open and said, “What?” to the ugly little dwarf-elf… thing that stood there.

“Payment,” the thing said. “Benefactor send payment! Put in courtyard, near scorch marks.”

Uncle turned and beheld his payment. A twenty foot tall pile of green glass-like boards. “What is this?” Uncle asked.

“Payment. Rare mineral. Silly Cones,” was all the thing said before it limped off.

Uncle raised his fist to the heavens and growled, “Multiplexor…”

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Worrisome Developments

The Great Wyrm’s eyes snapped open at the precise time set for the regular reporting. His asset was sometimes troublesome, often unperceptive, occasionally mired in trivia, but always prompt. This alone separated the asset from the multitude of lesser beings occupying this world, and was one of the primary reasons the asset remained useful to the Wyrm.

Nothing happened. Time passed.

The Wyrm rumbled deep in his throat. He was not amused, and briefly contemplated being vexed before rejecting the temptation as non-productive. A vocalization in his custom command language brought up the draco-interface of the massive crystalline artifact that occupied the majority of his lair.

Error 404: Service Not Found

The Wyrm’s eyes narrowed. That should not be possible, not with the recent upgrades that permitted even cross-planar communication. A series of commands flowed from his mind, instructing the artifact to engage more sophisticated routing algorithms and to deploy the Level One Infosphere Tactical Agents.

Error 451: Unavailable for Legal Reasons

Lightning flickered about the Wyrm’s lips. Someone was interfering with his link, and doing so in a decidedly flippant way. This was NOT supposed to be an active error code.

Then the Level One Agents reported back with their trace results, just before transmitting a burst of white noise that indicated their abrupt termination. The trace was… unique. And explained much.

The Wyrm sighed. Well, his asset was going to have to find his own way out of the mists. He wasn’t nearly important enough for the Wyrm to engage personally, and such an action wasn’t assured of success even if all of the Wyrn’s considerable power was brought to bear. Not against the Powers responsible for the Error 451.

Still, the Wyrm had other assets and other problems to deal with for the time being. One, a decidedly odd spike in dark-energy caught his attention. The sensor in question couldn’t pinpoint the precise timing of the spike thanks to some coincident tachyon radiation, but his artifact—oddly—was reporting a nearby asset who could be queried…

Error 418: I’m a Teapot

The dragon immediately engaged his full suite of Level Four Defensive Infosphere Combatives, and for the first time ever, contemplated a precautionary disconnect.

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Young and Afraid

Dr Love adjusted her spectacles as she read the referral in front of her.

“Mr Tedge, please have a seat on the couch.” She gestured to the velvet covered lips in the corner .“Relax and tell me what brings you to my office today.”

The couch squeaked under the massive mountain of once finely sculpted muscles that was Tedge. He flicked his thinning blonde curls over his pale shoulders and smiled nervously.

“The clergy down the road.”

“Yes yes it says that you are convinced that you are haunted by the ghost of your dead wife. In spite of not detecting any ghosts, you managed to convinced them to conduct several purification rituals and half a dozen attempts at exorcism, before concluding..”

" That I was stricken by the vagaries of a lunatic moon. " Tedge leaned back on the couch as he laid the back of one hand over his brow. One ring constricted around his finger "and also bereft of further means of donations.. "

“Hmm.. The priests had concerns that you were consuming yourself with your grief, and your inability to let go… of this terrible tragedy is crystallizing into a-

“You mean to say I’m tormenting myself?” Dr Love nodded.

“Well that is one option we may explore, but first how long have you wanted to sleep with your mother?”

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Adventure 10: The Land of Mists

Dear Most Beneficent Tyrant, Whose Magnanimity Strides Hand in Hand With His Pomposity and Brutality, the Invincible Overlord:

In response to your inquiry about my collection of life insurance on one employee Rasul, I assure you that if he is still alive, I have no awareness of it. I can also provide a sworn statement that I attempted to use, at my own expense, the very best local augurs and oracles to divine Rasul’s spirit. No clear information was forthcoming.

Instead, all I have been able to ascertain is that, “his black soul has been placed in a prison of its own making on the Lofty Feast of the Ravens.” Whatever that means. And something about how the land shall now be known as the Rasullan, in the northern Land of Virgins, across the deadly river where the merry landers do their best to keep a horrific place with some genocidal orange and an army of yappy female dogs from overwhelming the world with violence.

I really have no idea what such things mean, but I assure you that I am ready to exercise my insurance policy on Mr. Rasul. I will elect to take a third option.

Yours truly,

Uncle

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The Saga of Linos is Far from Over
...despite a few interruptions

Linos again sat on the dirty floor of his room, legs crossed and eyes staring unfocussed at the wall. Slowly, slowly he blocked out all the distractions: the noise from downstairs, the skittering of a rat as it scuttled across the warped floorboards, the creaking of the roof in the slight breeze, the smell.

Ah yes, the smell.

It had only grown more complex—enriched one might say if one had been seriously tripping on dangerous substances—with the longer-term use of goblin labor. But Linos eventually blocked even this most-potent assault on his senses. Slowly, his mind concentrated on the cheap-looking locket he wore on a leather thong around his left wrist, it’s place on his neck now usurped by a richer-looking amulet.

Then the connection…

A familiar, cold intellect surrounded him, and a mental voice like thunder addressed him.

IT IS THE APPOINTED TIME. REPORT.

“My Master, we aided the client as contracted, but also became involved in a scheme to free the people of Mycr who were enslaved.”

He sent a burst of compressed information—sounds, visual pictures, all now meshed with labels and comments his Master had called “meta-data tagging”. Linos had had difficulty understanding the need, and even more learning the technique, but his Master had ordered it. And so he had learned and become accomplished.

YOU ARE BECOMING EMESHED WITH MYCR AND HIS SERVANT. THIS IS NOT OPTIMAL NOR NEEDED FOR YOUR TASK OF OBSERVATION.

“My Master, I owe them a life-debt.”

YES. THAT IT WAS YOUR LACK OF COMPETANCE THAT LED TO THAT DEBT IS DISPLEASING TO ME. BUT IT IS A TRUE AND LEGITIMATE DEBT. YOU WILL TAKE MORE STEPS TO MEET IT. THIS INVOLVEMENT WITH THE SLAVES IS INSUFFICIENT.

“Master?”

YOU HAVE BEEN INFLUENCED BY MYCR. YOU MUST FULLY DISCHARGE THE DEBT LEST HE CONTINUE TO INFLUENCE YOU. HE WILL CHANGE YOU IF HE CAN. MYCR CAN BE… DANGEROUS.

The voice sounded almost… careful when speaking of Mycr. But Mycr was just another god, and an unpopular one at that. Linos didn’t understand, but he knew what was expected.

“Yes, Master.”

MAINTAIN YOUR OBSERVATION OF MYCR’S SERVANT. I WOULD KNOW WHAT HE PLANS WITH HER.

“Yes, my Master. I hear and obey.”

[Remote data request logged. Accessing. 1 hit found. Returning top 1 hits.]

Linos frowned. Knowledge was power, or so went the creed of his Master. But when he used the Master’s gift of knowledge, he found only one relevant item related to Mycr, and it was a string of pure nonsense preceded by an odd riddle. Perhaps he, Linos, was not meant to know the Master’s full understanding of Mycr. The Amazon shrugged. It wouldn’t be the first time that understanding had to take a back seat to obedience.


Far, far across the surface of the world, an ancient and immense blue wyrm stirred in its lair. Festooned with crystals and devices of strange and arcane metals, the lair looked less like that of a dragon, and more like some bizarre techo-wizard’s laboratory. One of these crystals was now lit up with an image of Linos frowning. Another showed the information that the dragon’s minion had called forth. The great dragon’s eyes narrowed in annoyance. While his array of crystals and logic machines had called forth a large amount of data on Mycr from the vast infosphere of this world, this data package—unlike anything else yet ingested—appeared to be encrypted.

And the key prompt was… most impertinent.

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True love never dies

Tumultuous clouds rumbled in the distance. A swift wind was its herald, warning the fog draped moors of its arrival. Soon the cold early morning drizzle would give way to the violent surge of thunders and lightning.

Angus pushed his golden curly locks away from his forehead, The early morning chill had already seeped into his bones,but ever since his beloved had passed on… tragically.. All warmth had fled from him. The wind teased at the poet’s blouse concealing his muscular frame, the wind tore at the bouquet in his powerful hands. The man stood unmoved, his eyes cast down to the modest headstone that lay beneath him.

Sophia Marie Tedge… … … Their love had just begun to bloom, That morning they had been wed, the feasting and well-wishing had flew by so quickly, and soon the evening festivities awaited. Alas it was not to be, she was cruelly plucked like a beautiful carmine rose.

The villagers had whispered, she had been taking by consumption. She had always been so fragile they said. Some whispered that the noble Tedges were cursed. The truth was as he had ripped her bodice, she had swooned in his arms. She never woke up. That wasn’t quite fit for polite discussion… Tragically

Ever the dutiful husband he made his way to her tombstone and knelt. Wherein he offered quiet prayers that someday somewhere they might be reunited. Sometimes when the wind raked across the hillsides, he swore he could hear her calling him to him.

_ Angusssssssssssssssssssss…….._

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Adventure 9: The Temple of Dana

Dear Most Beneficent Tyrant, Whose Magnanimity Strides Hand in Hand With His Pomposity and Brutality, the Invincible Overlord:

We are pleased to report a tax burden to Your Most Invincible Highness. Our Client, Vanessa Mackelroy, contracted with us to examine a lost city in the desert lands. This action was to be completed at a total cost of 19,260 gold. Employees were paid 1,500 gold a person (after tax).

Enclosed is 4,044 gold and 6 silver in tax paid to our benefactor, the Invincible Overlord.

Thank you.

-Uncle

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Linos Conflicted

Linos was conflicted in regards to their current mission and their likely course of action.

On the one hand, Uncle was paying them to escort Vanessa to the archeological dig somewhere past this city, and at that point to follow her instructions. This was a relatively unambiguous obligation for the group.

On the other, it was clear that Asteria was going to insist on intervening in the occupied city, and that most of the Blooded Company was going to go along with her. While this would violate the terms of their mission, most of the Company didn’t really care about contracts or obligations. Panthesilia might, however Linos suspected that she was more loyal to the Company than to Uncle.

As for Linos, he had an obligation to both Asteria and Mycr that predated this particular mission, and so that took precedence. His Master insisted that such obligations be paid off as soon as possible, in order to leave his servants free from otherwise encumbering ties. And Linos literally owed them his life—and such would require a significant amount of effort to repay.

And of course there was the issue of the slavery. Linos wasn’t keen on the institution, having been a slave most of his life. While Amazon slavery of their men was fairly benign—as far as such things go—it was obvious that the World Emperor had different standards for the people of Mycr. This… bothered Linos. He wasn’t sure exactly why, nor was he comfortable with the fact that it did.

It ought to be a simple matter of competing obligations with no emotional baggage. Linos valued his ability to make the hard decisions on pragmatic reasoning. He felt… compromised on this particular issue, and being bothered about being bothered was entirely too meta.

If he didn’t watch it, he’d soon be mooning away about—he shuddered— “doing the right thing” and giving away his money, much as Asteria did. Clearly, Mycr’s influence was bad for the brain.

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Adventure 8: The World Emperor

Far, far away from the Wilderlands, in a different realm of existence where thought and wicked deed make manifest the manyfold layers of the Abyss, the wicked Caizel strode like royalty above the other succubi and incubi who licked at her feet. “So you see, master Tsothagga,” she said to the great frog-demon god which reclined and gave slow, soft croaks, “that is why I must have my great granddaughter brought to me.”

Tsothagga gave a monstrous burp. “I do not see why I should not just have her killed, Caizel,” the demon lord replied.

“Because, master, she alone has a clue where the Horn of Zargon lays. I went through a lot of trouble getting the Blooded Company to deliver Jewel to you and now to deliver Vanessa to the Holy Cities. With their holy woman bothering them, they won’t even notice if Vanessa goes missing and you will have a new prize to spread your slime upon. Then, when we have the Horn of Zargon, you will be able to control the Returner directly.”

“Hmm,” Tsothagga pondered. “We shall see, Caizel.”

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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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