The Blooded Company

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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The Returner

Uncle sat in his conference room with the three representatives of the Invincible Overlord’s religious will present. Good news, everyone, he began, “I believe I’ve found a way around this impasse.”

“Oh?” the cleric of Odin asked first.

“Yes, tell us what way you’ve thought of,” the second cleric, from the Hellbridge temple grumbled.

Uncle cracked a wide, denture filled smile as his liver spots shined in the light. “Well, your concern is that we are showing possibly heretical material over the palantirs, such as with the whole Zargon incident.” The weather still hadn’t stabilized to its normal routine, three days after. “So we shall do two things!”

“First,” Uncle continued, “we shall hire two announcers, one male and one female. The male one shall be someone with charisma and a soothing voice to help citizens either get excited or relax in the face of potentially bothersome material. He shall narrate the whole experience of watching the Blooded Company. The female shall have legs she can walk on, a nice voice, and fill out a sweater appropriately.”

The cleric of Odin cocked a brow. “How does that help prevent heresy?”

“Oh, it doesn’t,” Uncle replied, “but it will certainly drive up my viewership, and thus demand for advertisements.” He paused to clear his throat, then continued with: “As for reducing heresy, we will have a group of priests on hand at all times who can help edit material seen on the stream by introducing a 45 second delay. Shouldn’t be too bad.”

“And what shall we call this new body?” the Hellbridge priest grumbled.

“Since you will all share responsibility equally to prevent heresy, I propose the board of appointed priests be known as the Federated Clerics Commission, or FCC for short.”

“It is done,” the priests agreed.

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Mutants of the Roglaroon: Asteria

Asteria put her book down and rubbed her eyes. Everything had changed. A prophet, her? She lied her way through the application for this assignment, she had no people leading skills! Now she had to convince the Invincible Overlord to let Mycr’s people go?

The elf squared her shoulders – He chose her, maybe the Unknown One knew what He was doing. Perhaps starting small would help.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A sign, scratched and showing signs of frequent repainting, hung above the mangey goblin’s head. A few new words glowed slightly, with an almost holy light.

WE WILL DO ANYTHING FOR THE RIGHT REASON.
ANYTHING.

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Mutants of the Roglaroon

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, the Dwarves of Thunderhold, contracted with us (through you) to recover their lost god-body of Emig XXV (the source of your state secret, the Autocannon). This action was to be completed at a total cost of 9,533 gold, 3 silver, and 1 copper, less 200 gold for expenses. Employees were paid 1,000 gold a person (after tax).

Enclosed is 2000 gold in tax paid to our benefactor, the Invincible Overlord.

Thank you.

-Uncle

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Departing Discussion

“So…”

“So.”

“You work for… the Leanansidhe…?”

“It’s not really a work relationship. It’s more… familial? No, that’s not right either, but it’s closer.”

“Right.”

[Remote data request logged. Accessing. 18296 hits found. Sorting according to relevance. Returning top 3 hits.]

Linos shifted as knowledge poured into his brain. “And the queen of Karn has a similar… relationship with her?”

“I assume so. Certainly, we both have a relationship with the Lady, but I can’t say that they’re exactly the same. We’re different people after all.”

[Remote data request logged as filter on previous request. 738 hits found. Sorting according to relevance. Returning top 3 hits.]

His face showed a faint hint of distaste. “Ah. Of course.”

“Don’t you have a similar arrangement with your… mentor?” Vivian grinned at him.

“What?”

“Come on. It’s obvious your powers aren’t natural. I mean, you’re an Amazon. Amazon men don’t normally go around breathing fire and lightning, because if they did, then Amazon women wouldn’t hold all that power over them that you’re constantly griping about.”

“Now look here! The repression of the matriarc…”

“Blah, blah, blah! I’ve heard that one already. We all have. More than once. I’m just saying that you’ve been marked by a Power much as I have, and there’s no point in denying it.”

Linos muttered something unheard. “Well, yes,” he answered.

“See!” Vivan beemed. “That wasn’t so hard.”

“Perhaps. You are persuasive.”

“It’s a gift.”

[Remote data request logged as filter on original request. 546 hits found. Sorting according to relevance. Returning top 3 hits.]

“Indeed.” Linos’s eyes narrowed. His fingers began tapping on each other.

“Oh stop that!” Vivian rolled her eyes and rose from her seat. “It looks like the captain is going to let us board now. Come on! I’ve never been on a ship before.”


The Great Wyrm examined the bank of crystals carefully. Runes glowed in the air just over their surface, cataloging the activity taking place within. The link seemed stable, secure, and efficient. He shifted, satisfied that the system was working as intended. The change he had wrought in the mortal’s mind and body had enabled his servant to take on and store—locally—a vast amount of data. However, the true achievement was harnessing the magic of this world to forge a link between that local cache and the crystals here, granting access to information that dwarfed anything else on the planet. Not that these crystals held that data. No, they were more of a proxy used to access something far, far greater…

If it worked out, and there were no deleterious side effects, then the Wyrm just might venture a connection himself. That was, after all, what he had been working towards all these centuries. While the possibilities were not exactly endless, there was more than sufficient potential residing in what amounted to a database whose size could be measured in…. googles.


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The Bride of Karn

From deep within a dank, moist den, where powerful magics and psionics were all that kept the waters from crushing a long lost keep, an aberrant being sat brooding in the dark. Tadpole-like larva slithered about his feet in the half inch of water. “Interesting,” the thing from the dark whispered in a slimy, coiled voice.

“When Caizel set foot in this world so close to my home, I felt it…” he continued in his slithering monologue, with naught but sea devils about to hear him. “The fact that she underestimated these little humans… and things… means they might be worth something. I bet they’d be delicious little things. Possibly even wonderful little reproductive runts.”

“Go, my sea devils. Bring me something to play with, before the beasts of chaos begin to overwhelm the she-devil’s old home.”

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The Steel Quarry

My Lady Seductress of the Lower Planes, I Bid You Greetings,

It seems we have had trouble at the Steel Quarry. Your enemies made a detour there and disrupted our supply lines within EMIG’s body. They prevented the catastrophic destruction we had hoped his wrath would bring, but… all is not lost! The fools still continue to walk into our trap in Karn and will make a fine red paste in your courts but soon.

-Malchazadaoria

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