The Blooded Company

Tax Registration of The Blooded Company

Let All Who Behold This Writ Know…

That the Invincible Overlord formally recognizes Uncle’s Blooded Company as the Sole Proprietor of the property located along the river and the Goblin Reservation, once called the Despot Ruins. The land has been renamed to Uncle’s Blooded Company Estates and a loan securitized upon the Good Faith and Credit of the City State for this new venture.

On the payroll, the City State shows and will expect taxation upon 6 full time adventurers and 11 full time goblin staff members (remember, payment of over 1 gold a month to goblins is illegal).

The Invincible Overlord wishes you the best in all your efforts.

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Communion

Linos sits on the dirty floor of his room, legs crossed and eyes staring unfocussed at the wall. Slowly, slowly he blocks out all the distractions: the noise from downstairs, the skittering of a centipede as it scuttled across the warped floorboards, the creaking of the roof in the slight breeze, the smell. Slowly, his mind concentrates on the cheap-looking locket he wears on a leather thong around his neck.

Then the connection is made.

A cold, massive intellect surrounds him, and a voice like thunder addresses him.

REPORT.

“My Master, we have made some success at establishing ourselves here. My companions are of little note, but have some potential to be useful to your purpose. One, however, is an oddity.”

He sends a burst of images of Asteria, and the sound of some of the odd things the elf has said.

INDEED. THAT ONE BEARS WATCHING. YOU WILL NEED MORE UNDERSTANDING TO BE TRULY USEFUL TO ME IN DOING THAT.

“Master?”

NO, I WILL NOT GRANT YOU THAT GIFT NOW—IT WOULD BREAK YOUR MIND. SO, IMPROVE IT.

“Yes, Master.”

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, UNDERSTANDING IS STRENGTH, BUT OBEDIENCE IS LIFE.

“Yes, my Master. I hear and obey.”

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Asteria Reports

The elf woman looked out the window at the city street, and her nose wrinkled in disgust. More civilized part of the world, right. Smells worse than the slums of the capitol. At least it didn’t smell when they were out in the wild – until they ventured underground in that cesspit of goblins and other nasty things. What an adventure that was.

Asteria picked up her black stylus, and started writing on the gray slate she carried with her. The symbols and letters she used would not have been readable by those in her company who could read, she knew.

“Study has begun,” she wrote in that cryptic language. “Joined group of adventurers, some local and others foreign. Different cultures, great research material. Two of the group have strange magicks, and I’m not sure why they all work together, especially Linos. I will continue to observe and report.”

She continued writing profiles of her new companions, noting every detail she had observed, adding her own ideas as to why they chose their paths, where she was still uncertain. Time would tell how accurate she was.

When finished, she double-tapped the surface, and her writing disappeared, transmitted invisibly across the stars. Asteria looked up at the stars, wondering when she would travel among them again.

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The Frog God's Jewel

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, Caizel of Pazunia, contracted with us to recover a jewel from the Mermist Swamps. This jewel was to be garnered at a total cost of 7,000 gold. Employees were paid 750 gold a person (after tax).

Enclosed is 1500 gold in tax paid to our benefactor, the Invincible Overlord.

Thank you.

-Uncle

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Transformation

Linos again sits on the dirty floor of his room, legs crossed and eyes staring unfocussed at the wall. Slowly, slowly he blocks out all the distractions: the noise from downstairs, the drunken argument from the room next to his, the creaking of the roof in the slight breeze, the smell. Slowly, his mind concentrates on the cheap-looking locket he wears on a leather thong around his neck.

Then the connection is made.

A cold, massive intellect surrounds him, and a voice like thunder addresses him.

AH. MY SERVANT. REPORT.

“My Master, we sought an… item from worshipers of the Frog God:”

He sends a burst of images of the Frog God’s temple.

“It was procured on behalf of this woman:” Again the images flew through the aether.

FASCINATING. THAT ONE WAS MORE THAN SHE SEEMED. A PITY YOU DID NOT HAVE THE REQUISITE WIT TO SEE MORE THAN THE SURFACE, BUT IT SEEMS YOU HAVE BEEN EXERCISING YOUR MIND AS I COMMANDED.

“Obedience is life, Master.”

YES. IT IS. AND NOW, IT IS TIME I GRANT YOU FURTHER UNDERSTANDING.

“Yes, Master.”

PREPARE YOURSELF. I WILL GRANT YOU A CONNECTION TO A PORTION OF MY OWN KNOWLEDGE. YOU WILL FIND IT CONFUSING, EVEN PAINFUL AT FIRST. OVERCOME THIS.

“Yes, my Master. I hear and obey.”

Pain. Pain beyond belief that slowly, slowly recedes.

Linos smiles as he raises himself from the floor where he had collapsed. Everything was now… clear.

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Blood and Thunder

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

Our subject is incubating on schedule. Soon the enth dimensional facet within Tsothogga’s Jewel will bear fruit and the mutant slaadi will be ready. I believe that once you have completed mining your weapons from the Steel Quarry and utilizing Emig XXV’s body for our own purposes, we shall have an army which even Kotestichi and Baphomet would shudder in terror of. Perhaps one even worthy of the ancient Markrab Empire.

Production will continue on schedule in Karn.

-Malchazadaoria

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Linos and Vivian

Vivian let herself drop into the disturbed blankets of her bed, exhausted from the desperate fight and repeated wounds she had taken during the course of that combat. It was, for now, over—the enemy deceived and departed rather than defeated—and the others had gone to their own rooms for rest. She turned, raising herself to blow out the one remaining candle when…

“Dear child, do not rise on my account.”

The tall female figure lounged indolently on the padded lid of a chest set against the far wall of the small room. Her hair was dark red and arrayed in long, wild ringlets about her shoulders. It was cast back from her face, though, revealing sharp cheekbones and over-large eyes of icy blue. Her lips were twisted in a mischievous smirk to match the slightly mocking tone in her words. Her voice was surprisingly deep for one so feminine, although not so much as to be bizarre. Her lithe frame was clad in a forest-green gown embroidered with gold thread. Her head was cocked to one side as if listening, and her manner was slightly… distracted.

The preoccupied look vanished from her face, and the Leanansidhe rose, her dismissive gesture giving the lie to the implication of her mocking words. Vivian slumped back. Her visitor, however, did not approach, but instead glided over to where Vivian had faced the demon, reaching down to where the dwarves’ inept attempts at cleaning had missed a spot of Vivian’s blood. The Leanansidhe’s finger dipped down and rose again, stained crimson.

“Dear, sweet, sweet child,” she murmured. “So foolish to have been caught unawares, but wise in the use of the weapons you had. Do not presume that you’ve gained anything but a temporary respite.” Her lips closed over the tip of her finger, and the fey’s face melted in obvious pleasure. “You have attracted a most dangerous admirer. I could grow jealous.”

“We wouldn’t want that,” Vivian ventured.

“Indeed not,” the fey replied, now moving to where Vivian still lay. “I have given you a measure of power already. Now, dear child, receive another gift.” She bent, kissing Vivian’s brow with lips that burned cold. Vivian felt power run through her like a sudden chill wind. “And this time,” whispered the sidhe, “be better prepared.”

Then, she was gone.


WHAT? WHO? LINOS. THIS IS NOT THE APPOINTED HOUR.

There was the sense of a massive intellect rousing itself from… sleep?

“Master, I have much to report.”

THIS HAD BEST BE IMPORTANT.

“I believe so, Master.” Linos summarized the events of the evening.

HM. YOU DID WELL TO REPORT. THERE ARE POWERS MOVING AROUND YOU, AND THEY HAVE INTEREST IN THIS YOUNG WOMAN. FOR NOW, WATCH, OBSERVE, AND PROTECT THE WOMAN SO LONG AS THE COST IS NOT TOO GREAT.

AND LINOS

“Yes, Master?”

THAT THING YOU DO WITH YOUR FINGERS. YOU ARE NOT A REPUBLIC SERIAL VILLAIN. AND IT’S ANNOYING. STO

The “voice” suddenly ceased. ANOTHER IS HERE. SHE MAY BE ABLE TO LISTEN. REPORT AGAIN ACCORDING TO THE NORMAL SCHEDULE.

The sense of his Master vanished.

What in the Nine Hells was a… Republic Serial?

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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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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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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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