Jump to content

Steven Page

Legends of Taltos:Crusaders

Recommended Posts

With the non-Reptus guests reticent to ask questions of the Tyrant, dinner passes from course to course quickly. As the last dishes are cleared, Khowloon asks the delegates if they would care to return to the Legation, or remain to watch the execution of the Overlord leaders taken earlier in the day.

 

***

 

Janara and Freen slip outside, followed by Bootknife. The surrounding area is cordonned off by Reptus guards, keeping the crowds at bay. Freen translates some of what he hears for his companions, "That group on the left wants the Child of the Promise brought out to be seen; those over there", he nods right, "want all of us out of town, now."

 

Janara looks at Freen, "It's pasts Bhoggie's bedtime, but maybe one o'them monks or guards'll come 'n talk to us later. We still gotta find Zeek."

 

Freen speaks to a monk along the cordon, gives a small bow, and returns. "He will come to the door in an hour or so, to speak to us about the boy." Moving around the building, still under the eyes of a large audience, he sees small boots under a heavy cart. "I think I found him."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
With the non-Reptus guests reticent to ask questions of the Tyrant, dinner passes from course to course quickly. As the last dishes are cleared, Khowloon asks the delegates if they would care to return to the Legation, or remain to watch the execution of the Overlord leaders taken earlier in the day.

"Hmmm....." Erik turns to Rai, "My lady, I think I'd like to see that, if you think it's alright." How do the Reptus execute their prisoners?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ben smirks a bit at the pair of legs visible beneath the wagon. "I guess we'd best collect our small friend and see what he's been up to. Also, since we have an hour or so, maybe we should check on our drover friends and make sure that all is well with the herd."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zeke lies under the wagon, very deep in sleep. Even a casual look will reveal the wear and tear on the halfling's face. He suddennly, for the first time, looks old.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Janara crouches down to have a closer look at Zeke. For the first time since she had known the halfling, he appears old. She had never been good at guessing age, especially with other races, but he seems to her almost old enough to be a grandfather now. It is hard for her to believe that he was the same Zeke who had scaled one of the towers of Denelspire so effortlessly the day she first met him.

 

"Zeke?", she says to him, concerned. "Are ya sick? Did somethin' happen to ya?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
With the non-Reptus guests reticent to ask questions of the Tyrant, dinner passes from course to course quickly. As the last dishes are cleared, Khowloon asks the delegates if they would care to return to the Legation, or remain to watch the execution of the Overlord leaders taken earlier in the day.

 

 

"Hell, yes, I'd like to see that. I'd like it even more if I could swing the axe," Rune replies with a smile. He stands and bows to the king.

 

"Most gracious Khong-To, thank you for the wonderful meal. Perhaps, after the executions, we two can speak of battles past over mugs of ale, and possibly discuss whatever you had in mind as far as Dwarven-Reptus relations are concerned." He gives the king another smile and bow and adds, "But, as far as this Dwarf is concerned, any people who can cook as good as this can be my ally any day!"

 

 

 

Rai frowns slightly but nods. She looks to Khowloon and asks, "Perhaps there is a place I can wait outside of the view of the executions?"

 

Rune is visibly puzzled at Rai's request. "Why in the world would you not want to watch those sons of filth executed," he asks her. "Their sole purpose is to take away others' freedom because they're too damn lazy to get a real job. Death's too good for them."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zeke finally stirs, and smiles at his , "a little sick, and very tired. I have hardly slept since leaving the Spire. I thought I could be of use to you, but I've not. We would have had real trouble if Young Joe and Bhoggie hadn't helped with the driving. Help me inside, please. I need to clean up and get to bed, if I'm to be any use tomorrow."

 

*****

 

Khowloon has a serving girl escort Lady Rai to a side chamber, even as the prisoners are led to a stage. All of the Overlords are chained, and their armor has been removed. They do not seem near as defiant as they had earlier in the day. A huge bronze two-handed mace is brought before the crowd, and prayers said over it. Khowloon returns to consult with his ruler and a handful of advisors. He returns to Rune and Erik.

"Our most Excellent Majesty wishes to seal his friendship with you, and the Dwarven Folk, by granting your request. He beseeches you to go forth, take up the Holy Mace, and dash out the brains of the first of the miscreants." He bows to Rune, and the crowd opens a path to the stage, the mace, and the Warbride of Khardullis, still spitting her anger at all concerned.

 

Zeke finally stirs, and smiles at his , "a little sick, and very tired. I have hardly slept since leaving the Spire. I thought I could be of use to you, but I've not. We would have had real trouble if Young Joe and Bhoggie hadn't helped with the driving. Help me inside, please. I need to clean up and get to bed, if I'm to be any use tomorrow."

 

*****

 

Khowloon has a serving girl escort Lady Rai to a side chamber, even as the prisoners are led to a stage. All of the Overlords are chained, and their armor has been removed. They do not seem near as defiant as they had earlier in the day. A huge bronze two-handed mace is brought before the crowd, and prayers said over it. Khowloon returns to consult with his ruler and a handful of advisors. He returns to Rune and Erik.

"Our most Excellent Majesty wishes to seal his friendship with you, and the Dwarven Folk, by granting your request. He beseeches you to go forth, take up the Holy Mace, and dash out the brains of the first of the miscreants." He bows to Rune, and the crowd opens a path to the stage, the mace, and the Warbride of Khardullis, still spitting her anger at all concerned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rune is stunned by Khowloon's words, not that he will have to do the killing, but that such an honor has been bestowed upon him by someone not a dwarf. He bows once again in the direction of the Tyrant, and says words of thanks that Khowloon translates, then climbs the steps to the stage and takes hold of the mace.

 

The head of the great weapon is unlike anything Rune has ever seen. Ornate mace heads are not uncommon in Dwarven weapon racks, but this one is different. It has no gems or other ornament, yet the patterns suggest that it was wrought by one who could have put them in if requested. The patterns also seem to tell some kind of story, one that Rune cannot make out. He stares at it for a second longer before nodding slightly to it, and taking a firm grip with both hands at the end of the haft.

 

While Rune is busy for a few moments examining the weapon, the Warbride has been busy telling him of the origin of his family, most particularly who his mother mated with to produce him. The description is very colorful, and goes into great detail, and is quite an achievement for such a short amount of time. Rune smiles at her and says "Now, now, that is no way for a lady to talk. I shall have to tell your mother of your manners. Next time I'm passing that bugbear brothel in Port Gangrel, I think I will." He smiles, raises the mace higher, and then brings it down with all his strength onto the back of the Overlord hero's skull, relishing in the satisfying crunch that it makes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Janara helps Zeke to his feet, fighting the instinct to scoop him up and carry him back to the legation like she would sometimes carry Bhogmur when he was too sleepy to carry himself to bed.

 

"You been plenny-useful, Zeke.", she argues. "You drive the wagon an' cook for us an' look after Bhoggy an' I never heard ya grumble 'bout any of it."

 

While walking with him back to the legation, she keeps an eye on the more hostile members of the crowd gathered at the entrance. She decides it would be better to wait until the morning to find the wagon and drovers rather than go wandering the streets right now and chance a repeat of the afternoon's run-in with the angry reptus mob.

 

"Are the drovers, oxes an' wagon somewhere safe?", she asks Zeke. "I s'pose there's beds enough here for all them drovers to sleep in.. even that'un that's a drunk."

 

She looks toward Freen. "I wish Mister Cow-Loon was here. Whaddaya think Erik, Lady Rai an' Rune are doin' at the feast they went to? Is the reptusses' king nice like Cow-Loon is?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Khowloon has a serving girl escort Lady Rai to a side chamber, even as the prisoners are led to a stage. All of the Overlords are chained, and their armor has been removed. They do not seem near as defiant as they had earlier in the day. A huge bronze two-handed mace is brought before the crowd, and prayers said over it. Khowloon returns to consult with his ruler and a handful of advisors. He returns to Rune and Erik.

"Our most Excellent Majesty wishes to seal his friendship with you, and the Dwarven Folk, by granting your request. He beseeches you to go forth, take up the Holy Mace, and dash out the brains of the first of the miscreants." He bows to Rune, and the crowd opens a path to the stage, the mace, and the Warbride of Khardullis, still spitting her anger at all concerned.

Rune is stunned by Khowloon's words . . . . He bows once again in the direction of the Tyrant, and says words of thanks that Khowloon translates, then climbs the steps to the stage and takes hold of the mace. . . .

He stares at it for a second longer before nodding slightly to it, and taking a firm grip with both hands at the end of the haft.

 

While Rune is busy for a few moments examining the weapon, the Warbride has been busy telling him of the origin of his family, most particularly who his mother mated with to produce him. The description is very colorful, and goes into great detail, and is quite an achievement for such a short amount of time. Rune smiles at her and says "Now, now, that is no way for a lady to talk. I shall have to tell your mother of your manners, next time I'm passing that bugbear brothel in Port Gangrel, I think I will." He smiles, raises the mace higher, and then brings it down with all his strength onto the back of the Overlord hero's skull, relishing in the satisfying crunch that it makes.

Erik is also shocked at Khong-to's request. Several seconds pass before he can even form a coherent thought. Not until Rune mounts the stage does Erik's brain begins to function again. He's really going to do it! Smash their skulls with a mace?!?! Erik scans his eyes over the Reptus in attendance, looking for reactions. Well, we hang them . . . or behead them . . . those that won't accept Mercy, anyway. Maybe they think hanging is barbaric?

 

Khong-to's words run again through his mind, ". . . dash out the brains of the first of the miscreants." The "first"? Oh $@%&! Does he expect me to do the second?!?! Oh Aurellius, I hope not! The thought of being called on to execute one of the captives, in such a brutal manner, with everyone watching, triggers a surge of adrenaline through Erik's body. His flushes a deep red, and beads of sweat break out on his forehead as he watches Rune execute the warbride. His heart beats slow heavy beats, hoping not, but waiting for Khong-to to turn his way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zeke looks up at Janara, "They're alright. There's some bunks at the stable. I could'a stayed there, but wanted to check on Joe and Bhoggie."

 

Freen also watches the crowd for trouble. "I am afraid Fair Orc, that you have missed a rare evening of delights. More food that would strip the finish off dwarven armor, songs in a tongue I doubt they understand, and afterdinner entertainment s such as fire-breathing lizards, juggling monkeys, and the slaughter of today's prisoners. Ah, the thrill of the stage...."

 

*****

Even in the side room, Rai cannot avoid the crunching, squelching sounds of Rune's mighty blow, followed by the roar of Reptus approval.

 

As Rune strides back to the Tyrant's table, he is suprised to find many young Reptus warriors pushing through the crowd, to touch his mighty brown arms. the older warriors nod their approval to the dwarven ranger. Strong drink is placed before him.

 

Erik's concerned look is met by the wise Khowloon. "Of course you wish to equal or better the ...'dwarf of Krung-strenght', but we understand it would be unseemly, and your Lady would lose face should you do so. It is to your credit you are so modest, not to volunteer"

 

Various Overlords are paraded forth, mighty Reptus heroes take up the Holy Mace, and evil lives are ended. And the young will be fed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Erik's concerned look is met by the wise Khowloon. "Of course you wish to equal or better the ...'dwarf of Krung-strenght', but we understand it would be unseemly, and your Lady would lose face should you do so. It is to your credit you are so modest, not to volunteer"

 

Various Overlords are paraded forth, mighty Reptus heroes take up the Holy Mace, and evil lives are ended. And the young will be fed.

Watching the comtinuing execution, Erik flexes an arm and muses, "A test of strength is not usually something that worries me." Erik then turns and directly addresses Khow-loon, "Had Khong-to offered the same honor to me, I would have accepted." His eyes meet and hold Khow-loon's long enough for the reptus to know the truth of his words. Not wanting to be contentious, Erik breaks eye contact and turns back to the executions. "Khong-to ruled that they should be excuted for their crimes. I am guest in your lands. Had me bid me execute them all, I would have done so willingly. Most Crusaders save their greatest hatred for the minions of the Necropolis. Mine is for the Overlords. My apprenticeship was sold to a cruel master. He would have turned me to his kind if he could have. I ran away and the Crusaders offered me a place as a servant. Forced apprenticeship, indentured servant, call it whatever you want; it all stinks of slavery!"

 

"My vows as a Crusader would not stop me from fulfilling such a request from Khong-to. It's just the way you execute them. It's . . . it's different from how we execute them. Those that Aurellius thinks may be redeemed are offered Mercy. The rest are beheaded or hanged by the neck until they die."

 

"I've only killed during battle; never an execution."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Meanwhile back at the legation, Aridwyn sits with the book of Reptus prophecy, carefully making notes about the "Child of Harmony" on some paper from her backpack. Occasionally she steals a glance at Bhogmur, who is still contentedly playing with Joe, then shakes her head and returns to the manuscript, obviously deep in thought. Could it be? Was it truly compassion for another victim of the Darkspawn filth that made me take him in... or was I simply a cog in a very large wheel? What are the chances that the rare elf who speaks orcish would arrive in the city of the Crusaders just in time to rescue an unnaturally intelligent and gifted orcling who then journeys to the lands of the Reptus and dwarves? Is this all part of some grander design? And why me? I gave up on my own gods, couldn't save my own sister; what business do I have in the care of a child so special? Because Child of Harmony or not, he is destined for greatness in a way I have never seen before.

 

Aridwyn looks up from her contemplation and finds that the possible savior of Reptuskind has fallen asleep at his game. Aridwyn smiles at Joe as the huge half-orc gently and silently scoops Bhogmur up and carries him off to tuck him in. From the solemn nod he gives her, Aridwyn suspects Joe has been thinking much the same thoughts as she has.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rune smiles at the actions of the young Reptus, even flexing his muscles a little as they touch his arms. He also meets the gazes of the other warriors, returning their approving looks with nods and small gestures of thanks that all warriors understand. The acceptance of the Reptus veterans fills Rune with an overwhelming pride. Of all the races of Taltos, the Reptus' sheer strength and battle prowess stand out above all others, even the Dwarves. To be accepted, even praised a little, by this mighty race is more than the ranger ever expected when the boat pulled into the dock that morning. His smile is as bright as the sun in this moment.

 

He realises something else, also. Most beings, of any race, would not feel the way that he does. They would not feel the pride that he does in being cheered by those of a different heritage. This is because they don't understand, as Rune does, that all goodly races, of which he counts the Reptus (and even the Reven) to be a part of, should not show disdain towards one another for no reason. Joe taught him that. These fine Reptus warriors are reinforcing that lesson. If he could only teach more of his clan to feel the same way.

 

When the drink is offered, he takes it, raises his glass to Khong-To, and cries, in Dwarven and in Taltain, "My our peoples never battle one another again," and downs it in one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×