Iron Gods - Mike Korupp

Vidon and Company at the Smilers Den.
Oh what trouble do we find now?

After taking out the group of Pistoleros we searched their rooms and find nothing. We move back to the Barroom to see what we can find. Susie checks out the stash of liquor and finds it unsatisfactory. I concur.

We move to the north door by the bar itself and find a short hallway that turns west after a few feet which leads to another door. What don’t these people ever use beads as doors? Opening the door we find several large tanks with tubes and hoses running to and from the tanks. They look large enough to house a humanoid body. Once we get about halfway through the room some of the tanks start shaking and noises come from inside the tanks. The tanks open and out comes the most hideous creations I have ever seen. They look part man and part machine. It is difficult to control my rage but I manage. There are 8 of them in total and they prove to be as hard to hit and take down as you would imagine. But we manage. Not without getting hurt ourselves in the process. There isn’t that much useful gear in here so we move on.

The next room gives us more worry as there are 4 Zombieish creatures that are again part man part machine. Though these look like they were built to do excavations as one of their arms has a drill attached instead of a hand. Those drills hurt a couple of my compatriots. I took exception to that.

Once we had disposed with them we discovered a door on the south wall. By this time I was extremely upset and just slammed the door open. Imagine my surprise when I see 4 Zombies around the door and the one called Marrow against the far wall. The only way I could see to get to Marrow was to try to Bull Rush the Zombie ahead of me, but before I could do that Marrow cast a spell and paralyzed me. Now no one can get through me and the Zombies move in for the kill. They don’t succeed and Mal returns Marrows use of spells with one of his own as the entire room goes very quiet. Luckily I am shorter than the others so the bow users can shoot over me, but it is still unnerving to have arrows pass so close over your head. The next spell Mal casts removes the Paralysis from me and it is my chance to do what I wanted to. I push the Zombie in front of me back 10 feet. Of course every one of the Zombies gets a chance to hit me but they are like mosquito bites. However, it does open up the way to Marrow and Flynn goes for her. A few minutes later Marrow throws something that explodes but doesn’t do much damage but makes several of us very sick. She has moved to a far corner so Flynn and I follow her. He isn’t sick but I am. In the mean time another secret door opens into the room where the others are and they are busy fighting 4 Smilers. Some of the gas has seeped into that room so the combat power of the rest is cut, but they manage. Marrow seems very frustrated for some reason and tries to make a break for it. Flynn manages to catch a good hit on her and slows her down. He continues to work on killing the Zombies as they continue to concentrate on hitting me. Finally I get over the sickness and tell him to leave me one. He does and I take out some frustration. The others manage to eliminate the Smilers and it is clear we have removed their infestation. The door they came out of turns out to be a route to outside of Scrapwall. We return Redtooth’s Brother to her and offer to help them move into Smiler Headquarters. Arim is busy negotiating a trade agreement with Redtooth and finding out all he can about the Lords of Rust. We are going to be laid up for a couple of days it seems Mal got shot in the leg. I think that is the first serious wound he has taken. We are debating what we want to do next. As I have said before I am not good with planning a war, just the carrying it out part.
Letters Home
Letter 7

Dear mom and dad,

Yesterday we were at the steel hawks base to take out a member of the smilers, as you probably remember form my previous letter how FRIENDLY AND INTELLIGENT those guys are, that the lords of rust, the gang that is running scrapwall, put incharge. If there was some way to sum up the quality of men at this base it would be…sadly green horn.

Vidon, our dwarf, was able to get close to these guys at their bar, which is inside the base, and through a slur of words and a wable of stepping, he was VERY convincing by the way, he dispatched the group with only a tankard. In a moment of being baffeled, i found an odd sense of pride in my party member. For i wouldn’t think that a tactic like that would ever work and before my eyes, VIdon pulled it off as though it was second nature.

Further exploring the base we found ourselves at Bird-food’s, the soon to be ex-leader of the steel hawks, room. we were able to subdue him without incident and also we didn’t harm the 3 hawk he kept in his room, i would assume as an alarm/defense system. After a quick look around we made our selves scarce an tried to find a place to heal up our wounds and rest. Which turned out to be another section of scrapwall.

Fortunatly, it wasn’t until after our rest we were attacked by a coupler of swarm of rats, a rat monster, and two offsetting rat looking people. No trouble was had in killing them when they approached us.

After wards a rat folk from the least powerful gang approaches us to take us to their leader/guildmaster. Honestly, with all the hidden passages and what-not this secret-base deserves the title. in the base, there is a rust monster which looked irritated and ready to eat anything infront of it. the leader of the ratfolk, I believe her name was redtooth, Asked us to go a step further in our actions. and take out the Smilers at their core base. Seeing no reason to to wipe these vermon, no offense intended to any rodent-race, of the face of the world, we agreed. and set out to attack at dawn.

The next thing that happened supprised me almost as much as Vidon did the following night. Arim spotted a turret above the smilers door, and asking us to stay back, he carefully walked to the rifle with the system never seeing him coming. Breaking down the turret and gaining a used rifle in the process we found out that it only has a number of shots on it before it will be useless. what better way of doing so in clearing out the base it protected.

We entered the base and found only one person in the room/bar. Sadly for is it was an ogre-kin, who hits like a siege weapon, and as tough to take down as one too. Moving into the next room we had a welcomed sight. grunts with nothing but ranged weapons. And they had to fight IN CLOSE QUARTERS!!!!

we are about to enter the leaders room so please know that if this letter has been sent then we were victorious in our task.

Looking forward to sending you two more good news late.

Sincerely your son.

P.S. Anyway you guys could have another mw katar made for me. I’m currently wielding a katar and longsword combo and the swing of the two is a little off putting. I will pay for any cost it might be when i see you guys again. until then, please, keep safe.

Vidon on what about scrapwall.
Are we a merchantile enterprise?

I have heard Harkness Arim and Susie debating on what to do with Scrapwall. Maybe I should remind them that we aren’t in any position to make that decision yet. We haven’t even cleared out the Smilers yet. I can agree that thinking ahead is good sometimes but keeping focused on what is currently in your face is very important and contributes to keeping you alive. Once the Lords of Rust have been dealt with then we can begin discussing what to do with Scrapwall if we are still alive afterward.

Susie's Actions 3/14/15

I guess there is no doubt we have made a name for ourselves in the town. We have successfully dispatched two different groups of people who came to try and put us in our place. The orcs weren’t much of a threat but the ogres definitely proved to be a different fight entirely. Anyone who can throw away that much muscle at one time can not be taken lightly.

The Steelhawks were true to their word and conveniently made the facility accessible for us. We were able to put down Birdfood relatively easily. Of course surprising someone in his bed and keeping his birds out of the fight definitely made it easier. I’m glad I was able to spare the lives of those majestic birds. Sure they may have been trained for fighting, but were they originally trained by Birdfood or were they originally part of the Steelhawks ensemble? Hopefully the Steelhawks will do better now that they aren’t under the Lords of Rust puppet. With the Steelhawks not under Birdfood anymore, the Lords of Rust may spend more time looking in their direction we ultimately means they are spending less time looking at us.

The Ratfolk are a different situation. I’m not sure if they have reached the point of no return or if they can restore themselves to some dignity. Whereas I have no issue with using fighting birds, a rust monster is definitely not a natural creature. I do understand that without their kennel master around the rust monster is definitely in a precarious situation. Hence the rescue mission.

Successfully entered the Smiley base. We found their muscle inside. That dude hit like a freight train! Fortunately he was by himself and we made it out with too much of our own blood spilled. On the plus side, they did have a fully stocked bar! It has been too long since I was able to have something to drink. That being said, I think their liquor was still watered down or at least they had some less than decent branded alcohol. We also dispatched the barracks so their numbers are definitely hurting. The Smiley’s definitely need to start recruiting some new talent, hopefully by the time we are done there won’t be anyone who wants to join this miserable bunch. (As a sidenote, since we learned that timeworn can’t be recharged – something we would have known in game even though some of us were unaware out of game – Susie would never have fired the laser rifle continuing her streak of not doing any damage in combat)

Susie's Thoughts 3/14/15

The Paladin Base, or lack of base as the case may be, introduced us to the smileys. It is obvious that the drug is not helping them, but there appears to be more messed up with them inside the head then just the drug. From other dealings we have had with them I think you can add greed, arrogance and power-hungry to what is screwing them up as people. We are trying to help build up Torch and I would have no issue trying to build up the Paladin Base either, but I don’t think the owners are doing much for the base which makes me inclined to not help them either.

Scrapwall is another story entirely. It reminds me partly of school and partly of Lord of the Flies. Just like school, there are the popular groups and the not so popular groups. People who want to get into the popular groups are willing to do things they would not normally do in order to win favor with those that are popular. Meanwhile, the people who enjoy being in groups with their friends get picked on. Hopefully we have been able to give the Steel Hawks a jolt as far as respect in this town is concerned. Same with the Ratfolk. It would definitely seem that we have given the smileys something to think about too…just in a different manner.

The last thing that comes to mind is what to do with Scrapwall. Once we are done finding what we need here we could leave it to its own devices – and many of the inhabitants would probably be just fine with that. On the other hand, it would be nice to have a facility where certain good can be unloaded without too many questions and personnel with certain skills that aren’t readily advertised in a normal town can be found here. Maybe we need to set up a benevolent dictator in this town who will keep the spirit of the town going but at the same time remove some of the stigma associated with it. Or would removing the stigma remove the spirit of town? Only time will tell I guess…also can’t forget that we are not close to running this town either so maybe I am getting ahead of myself.

Journal of Shadow Mal 11

Entry 151, Day 35, Noon.

We decided to assault Bird Food anyway. His small band of enforcers were both incompetent and unconscious, and he died in his bed, though he did manage to keep his sword in his hand. Since I had subdued the birds with magic we were able to hood them and leave them, where I presume someone will claim them and either use or cook them. It is somewhat melancholy to abandon someone’s pets to the whims of whatever mad locals in this total anarchy find them, but I am not in the business of bird rescue and have no interest in dealing with an irate raptor.

Besides, as Zex once told me, “if you can’t keep a pet turtle alive, pet-having probably isn’t for you.” Sorry Mr. Lumpy, but you taught me an important life lesson.

Anyway, after the assassination of the local boss we looted and left. I am once again forced to contemplate the nature of the work I find myself doing. It is an easy thing, mistaking the quickest path for the best one, but I do not believe that mutilating, murdering sadists and slave-takers are something that can be redeemed. More to the point, this place was a mad orgy of violence, tyranny, and chaos long before we came here, our primary goal is to make that violence and chaos stop spilling over into other lands.

That said, my sardonic commentary is troubling Flynn. As a faithful follower of Father Apsu AND a card-carrying goody-two-shoes he has certain expectations and I suppose I have certain obligations. I shall endeavor to be more diplomatic with my comments when we do not-nice things to not-nice people. It is a duty that comes with the magic, after all, and I should never shirk.

Moving to another camp site, I set my tent up several feet off the ground. It might be troublesome at first, but it is so very comfortable to know that bugs and rats will have a harder time joining me in my repose.

The next morning, in the uncomfortably-bright sunrise, we spotted fresh attackers seeking to, well, I am not even sure what they wanted. A foul gestalt entity known (apparently) as a Rat King assailed us with its swarming rat minions. The beast was several large (though not dire-sized) rats whose tails and (somehow) minds had merged, creating a cunning bestial intelligence and power over creatures that shared their kind. I spat lightning upon the swarming minions, and with other assaults we destroyed or dispersed what remained. This was an inauspicious beginning to the day, as we were planning on meeting with another group of rat-like creatures, the surviving ratfolk families of Redtooth Warren.

The misfortune that our morning battle suggested fell upon the Redtooth Raiders, however, as they were being assaulted by gun-toting smilers. We rendered assistance and healed their wounded, earning a quick and useful rapport with them within moments of arriving in their embattled territory. Having seen large numbers of guns in action twice now, I have some observations. But more on that later.

The Redtooth are being wiped out, those who have not been impressed by the Lords of Rust are being slaughtered by them and their minions. It seems they were once quite powerful, and I suspect they have been targeted for complete destruction for that very reason. Seeing these folk up close and not at the end of pointed weapons calls to my memory the tales of the Nezumi, a legendary race of rat-like shifters. They too were know for their survivor’s grit and onerous tenacity, but they were also fading in the face of pitiless enemies.

The Redtooth raiders are led by Redtooth the raider, and looking at her I see her will fraying under the strain. It seems one of their few remaining strengths has been lost to kidnapping Smilers. Her cousin, Whiskeyfist? Was (hopefully still is) an animal trainer who had tamed and taught several rust monsters. Only one of his pets remains in the warren, but if they could reclaim the beasts and their master, the Raiders could tunnel anywhere, including the bases of the Lords of Rust. It is believed that they too have underground tunnels, burrowed through metal and rock, and accessing them could prove useful.

Whiskeyfist is kept in the Smilers’ clubhouse, apparently near their bar (is that irony? I always forget) and without the Smilers dead and any prisoners repatriated the Redtooth will be in no position to help us. This is not surprising, interfering with a military struggle inevitably requires a military intervention. Redtooth was able to tell us that their leadership includes a purported necromancer and an extremely strong ogre-kin named Gun-shy. It seems that guns “scare” him, and he reacts violently.

Sadly, the Redtooth usually work at night, so any assault by night would be expected. As such we will be marching in under broad daylight, when their gang is most likely to be taking a siesta. Flynn is expressing misgivings at the coming slaughter, which I can understand. Just because the Redtooth are victims does not mean they are not villains in their own right, the Skulks under Torch are a recent example of the many shades of darker morality. But the Smilers serve the Lords of Rust, and the Lords of Rust are sending strikes against other people. The cycle of violence is unlikely to end with the fall of Hellion, but it will be more contained if we can do so.

On another note, guns. These devices are powerful, like spell attacks, but so easy to use and without any magic. They cause quite a bit of fear and consternation, and from what I have seen they are easy (at least, relatively speaking) to learn to use. More easy, at least, than archery or spellcrafting. But on reflection their use in battle is weaker, or at best equal to the deployment of weak combat spells or well-trained bowmen. Harkness’ skill is impressive, and he has made claim to great skill and impressive martial prowess in previous lives, but I begin to suspect the real kick to guns is that you can use them easily. Moreover from conversations regarding the black powder he uses to make his weapons work, I believe that it is a greater development than he realizes. A packaged fireball that takes no magical prowess to make or deploy is a packaged fireball that cannot be tracked. Magic users are few, and can be hunted, but if any fool can carry a keg of boom-juice then any fool can be a powerful threat.

I have mixed feelings toward this. I have seen the injustices of mad aristocrats and the stupidity of populist fools; which is better, I cannot say.

Ugh, all these thoughts of politics and complicated morality questions, I will be glad to quit this mess we call Scrapwall. Too much fighting, too few clear lines, and no hope of truly making this place a better place, merely restoring a balance so that it’s violence remains contained. Would that we had more devils to face, those beasts are unambiguous in their evil.

On a more amusing note, Vidon proved quite good at subterfuge when properly motivated. When we assaulted Birdfood’s little garrison he opened hostilities by pretending to be drunk, stumbling right up to the guards, and getting them to lower their guard by offering them a drink from his keg of dwarven ale. One broken mug and 3 cracked skulls later the guards were all down and we could slip in without the alarm being raised. I should get him a reinforced steel one, in case he ever feels the need for a proper battle mug.

Arim meets Bird Shit, Redtooth and Gun Shy

So we sneak upon the Steel Hawks base and only a few minor orc guards are around to portect it. Vidon acts like a drunk fool and gets the guards to drop their guard. A tad later their bodies are being hidden in a storeroom. The Steel Hawks were good to their word, this place was almost completely abandoned. A few sleeping guards later and we’re at Bird Shit’s door. After one terrifying moment with his squaking birds, we sneak into his room and make short work of him. FINALLY one of our plans goes off as we want it too.

We decide to lay low and visit the ratfolk later in the day. Evidently this place has even more rats than we anticipated, for approaching our resting point is a swarm of rats, some dire rats and some weird amalgamation of rats called a Rat King. I’ve seen a rat or two in my life, but nothing like this monstrosity. Supposedly this king is even halfway intelligent. I’m all for meeting people and making allies, but this is definately not the time or place.

Finally we heard off to meet the ratfolk. We find them in a battle with some Smilers and take care of thiings. Thankfully Mal is able to heal their downed members, so we instantly get a good repoire with them. They take us to their leader Redtooth and she tells us her sad tale. She has lost many of her members to the Lords of Rust, as evidenced by their following Meyanda into Torch. In addition Marrow, the Smiler leader, has captured her brother Whisk-e-Fis. We are more than happy to take care of Marrow, but she warns us that Marrow is a dangerous necromancer. I really dislike enemies who can make you fight their allies twice. They also have an ogre-kin named Gun Shy who is their primary enforcer. Lastly their base is more heavily guarded at night, because they believe no one would be stupid enough to assault them in broad daylight. Obviously, they have not met us.

There is one piece of amazing news. Whisk-e-Fis is a trainer of rust monsters. This sounds absolutely ridiculous, but evidently he had a whole stable of them. Sadly due to his loss, they’ve only been able to hold onto one and that’s because it is tied down. The Steel Hawks are a nice to have, but if we could convince these guys to join it would be amazing. Imagine a battalion of ratfolk with spears mounted on rust monsters. It is enough to make the most stalwart knight run in terror.

So, we head to the Smiler base. As the Mission Impossible music plays, I sneak up to their gun turret and steal the laser rifle they have set up to fire automatically at any interlopers. we go inside and there is Gun Shy all by himself. Thankfully he was by himself, because he hits insanely hard and crush Harkness’s gun with a thought. Once past him we begin to hunt down Marrow.

Vidon in Scrapwall.
The Gangs haven't got a chance.

After our fights with the Orcs and the Ogres we were getting a reputation of being a group you didn’t want to tangle with. We waited til about 3 am to try entering the Hawk Palace. We figured there would be fewer guards around and they would be less alert. Fluffy went to scout out the entrance and found there were 3 Orc guards who would rotate positions during their shift. So Susie and I worked out a subterfuge that might work. I would play the part of a drunk Dwarf, not too hard a deception really, and she would be the one watching to make sure I didn’t hurt myself in my stumbling around. So we went up the steps of the entrance and 2 of the Orcs told us to stop. I played my part and offered them a drink from my mug and the promise of a keg of Ale I had in my backpack. They came up to get their drink and that is when I turned sober as a cleric. And not one of Cayden Cailean’s clerics either. I used the mug to punch one Orc guard right in the face. He dropped like a stone. The other one was so surprised by his friend dropping that he was looking at his friend and not at the immediate threat to his life, ME. In less than a minute 2 Orc’s were down and out. Susie and I managed to get the third one before he could sound an alarm. However, my mug didn’t survive the attack. Oh well it gave all it had in the name of …. what?

Susie and I went up the steps to the entrance while the rest of the party stashed the bodies where they wouldn’t be found in a empty store room. We went into the main entrance while they went into the Barracks and ensured we wouldn’t be disturbed by an unsightly guards coming up behind us. We made it to the Throne room but the door was locked. Arim made short work of that lock and we entered. The Throne looked like a jammed together mess of spare parts and animal hides. I am not very quiet at all so I stayed back as the quiet ones went to check the door at the far end of the room. Apparently it wasn’t locked but there was the beginning of a commotion from the other side. The squawks of Hawks was beginning to be very loud. So we all froze where we were and waited a few minutes for the Hawks and some mumbling from the other side to calm down. Once the noise settled a bit Arim eased the door open and Mal cast a spell on the Hawks so that they wouldn’t alert when we entered. Flynn and I took positions by the bed. The person on the bed was one of the Smilers. We had been told he had been placed in charge by the Lords of Rust to keep the Steel Hawks in line. I don’t recall what happened to wake him but he stood up naked as the day he was born and gabbed a longsword. Flynn and I settled his debt very quickly. There was a brief debate on what to do with the Hawks. their hoods were put on them and we left them alone and alive.

We decided to wait til the afternoon to try approaching the local Ratfolk gang so we went to find a place to wait til then. Wouldn’t you know that we encountered a couple of Dire Rats, a swarm and something that looked like a bunch of rats that had joined together to form a humanoid body. Someone said it was a Rat Lord. They didn’t fair any better than the Orcs or Ogres did against us. As we traveled toward where we thought the Ratfolks den was Harkness accosted one of the locals to ask if we were going the right way. He answered quickly that yes we were going in the right direction then he left just as quickly. As I said our reputation for not pitting up with nonsense has evidently preceded us across the entire “city”. As we got closer we encountered 4 Smilers that had put down 3 Ratfolk and had 4 others surrounded. They didn’t last long either. I think Mal healed the injured ones, and Arim spoke with the survivors. They said their leader wanted to speak with us which was what we wanted too. We met their leader a female named Bloodtooth. She wasn’t happy with the current state of affairs in Scrapwall but didn’t have the people to do anything about it. We offered to take out the Smilers if she would agree to side with us against the Lords of Rust. Her agreement hinged on our taking out the Smilers. We asked for some of her folk to stand watch outside the Smilers headquarters to let us know if anyone was trying to enter behind us. She agreed to that. So we discussed when to attack. She suggested a daytime attack as the Smilers would not believe that anyone would attack them in broad daylight. So we did. Arim sneaked up to their HQ and stole their laser rifle that was set up as a trap to shoot anyone that didn’t speak the password.

We went inside and saw the Ogrekin we had been told about, Gun shy. It seems he is very frightened by guns. Gun Shy is the Lieutenant of the Smilers. Harkness figured he would show Gun Shy his guns and the Ogrekin would just collapse in a fit of fear just from the sight of a gun.. It didn’t come off that way at all. First, the Laser Rifle was a time-worn item which meant that Susie had to take the first shot with it to keep it from destroying itself. She isn’t very good with any weapon, that isn’t her forte. She does what she does very well if you don’t ask her to hurt someone. Second, when Gun Shy attacked Harkness he shattered Harkness’ Laser Pistol. That really pissed Harkness off. Gun Shy’s Greatclub hit several of us and it hurt very much. So Flynn and I took exception to that. When I got a chance I went berserk on him and shattered his skull for him. That’s for Harkness’ Pistol. We heard some activity behind one of the doors so we moved to it and opened it. We got a face full of gunfire but when we moved up close and personal they couldn’t hit us for the life of them. But we could and did hit them repeatedly. So we have taken down about 14 of what Bloodtooth said was her figures of the number of Smilers and she thought there were about 3 dozen. The thing that worries me is that Marrow their leader will kill some of them then raise them as undead. So she is evidently a Necromancer and will be tough to take down. But we are committed now. So on to Marrows’ chambers we go.
Arim reaches Scrapwall

So we finally got to the fort at Aldronard’s grave. This place isreally suspicious. We were expecting a small fort guarded by paladins, instead we got some crumbling ruins atop an unmaintained camp ground. This was the first disappointment.

The second disappointment was when they told us to leave. They said a horrible disease. had afflicted the place. I was thinking to myself don’t priests have the ability to cure this? We are here to get our teammates healed after all. Aren’t paladins immune to disease anyways? Once they let us in they reveal themselves to be frauds and a brief fight ensued.

We interrogate a couple of them and find out the real guards are being held in a room in the ruins. We find out these frauds are called Smilers and are the bottom of the totem pole in Scrapwall. However, they are actually part of the Lords of Rust gang versus others over there who are just minor gangs. Since Meyanda’s loss at our hands, they’ve become more aggressive to avoid looking weak.

Time for the third disappointment. after freeing the captured “Paladins” we learn that really they are just a bunch of beginning warriors. Most of the time this place isn’t even occupied, which in hindsight made sense why they hadn’t had altercations with Scrapwall. There is one Paladin amongst them who is able to help us though. He also informs us that there is also a malevolent ghost who cursed Sarenre just before his death. Unfortunately that means the only god who could help has been prevented from helping him and he’ll be forced to stay here moaning for all eternity. O yeah, he hates followers of Sarenrae like me, so I’m just going to stay in this corner.

Going back to the Smilers, we learn that their boss is a guy named Marrow and he resides over in Scrapwall. Thankfully the promise of torture is incredibly appealing to these guys and it makes them tell us everything. The Lords of Rust is the most powerful gang over in Scrapwall and has 6 leaders, though after we took care of Meyanda they are down to 5.

They have:
Nalaki an orc priest. Spellcasters can be pretty scary, but they go down fast if you surprise them.
Zagmander a weird four armed red creature – maybe the race is Zagmander?
A troll – compared to the other this one sounds easy. We love torching things.
Draigs a chain wielding Ettin – This sounds like a horrible combination.
Kulgara a chainsword wielding orc barbarian – another horrible combination. This chainsword sounds intriguing though.

They tell us they’ve recently usurped the Steel Hawks and dumped them on patrolling the outer walls. This sounds like a perfect opportunity. We hate the Lords of Rust and so do they, getting in might not be that hard. They’ve placed some Smiler named Bird Food in charge of the Steel Hawks to make sure they toe the line.

The next day after getting some disfiguring diseases removed, we head off to the lovely world of Scrapwall. Per the name, the place is surrounded by huge piles of scrap metal. Sadly this stuff is a lot harder to work than normal steel and not any better for the effort. We get to the front gate and the Steel Hawks ask us for the “special password”. This is kind of embarassing as we don’t know what to tell them and yelling "Hey we’re here to kill Bird Shit across the walls seems awkward. Sadly in the end all they really wanted to here was that we were a company of oppressed androids seeking somewhere safe from persecution.

Afterwards, we talk to a few Steel Hawks and arrange for the demise of Bird Shit. The Steel Hawks will make sure to stay out of our way, because once we get in the building, we won’t be stopping to asking for alliances. I’m not sure how these guys used to act, but if we’re really lucky, they’ll be able to step back into the power structure once we remove the current occupants. I’m already running one criminal organization, what’s so bad about a 2nd. That being said, the only thing these guys have shown is that they hate Smilers and want power.

We decide to kick back for the day and attack the emptied Steel Hawk base at night. Thankfully the Steel Hawks cooperated with us on this, because our day was hardly restful. First 9 orcs show up trying to shake us down. 10 seconds later two orcs are running for their lives. Unfortunately, people saw that and a while later 8 ogres drop by to see who the new tough guys are. This fight was pretty brutal and by the end, I was really worried if we’d be able to bandage people up enough to attack the Steel Hawks this night.

Journal of Shadow Mal 10

Entry 149, Day 33. Evening.

Cured! Huzzah! But only after killing. The fortress-grave of Adronard was captured by a gang of fetishistic self-mutilators called the Smilers. I wish I could say I was surprised, but the multi-headed hydra that is our enemy seems to always be destroying or threatening what is good or right in the world. I begin to understand why my father always tells me not to get TOO invested or involved in the goings-on of the world.

The Smilers attempted to send us away with claims of plague, but we would have none of that and parlayed entry and ambush. Their attack was unsurprising and poorly-planned, and we defeated them quickly. Along with murder they were guilty of cannibalism, and upon freeing the survivors of their attack they were all judged by the knight-captain who leads the local guards. This place is surprisingly poorly-defended, with only 8 regular guards.

The Knight captain had the power to cure our diseases, and after freeing him and helping bury the dead we gathered information on the goings-on of Scrapwall. The Lords of Rust have expanded in power, and their numbers include several powerful warriors. It seems the loss and presumed death of Meyanda somehow bolstered their strength, as they reacted to rumors of their weakness by conquering and crushing most of the opposition in the town. I suppose calling it a “town” is a stretch, the entire place is more like a sun-seared version of Sekamina, all warring tribes hiding in holes and murdering or stealing from each other, with the rule of strength being the only rule. But “festering hole of anarchic violence and hate” is a bit long-winded.

It is known that the Steel Hawks control the largest gate into the city, but they have been forced into obedience and semi-exile by the Smilers, who willingly gave themselves over to the dictates of the Lords of Rust. While I have no doubt that there are other means of entering the place, be it ratfolk tunnels or simply going over the walls, it would be good to introduce ourselves to the local opposition, a coalition of enemies can be useful.

This evening we will sleep in the fortress, the captain has warned that the ghost of a foolish fellow Sarenrite haunts the grounds. He fought hard in the crusade, leaving his loved ones safe at home. But safety is always a matter of degrees and his beloved died of plague or banditry in his absence. He cursed his goddess and took his own life, and such grief-fueled acts often result in restless shades. I have a few half-formed plans that may be able to help, but most of them require more time and power than I currently have. For now I must leave him to his moans and hauntings, the dead are reliable in that even if they move, they do not tend to go very far.

Entry 150, Day 34. Evening.
Mountains of skulls and rivers of blood, as the old saying goes. I am writing this while sitting next to a wall of dead orcs and ogres, killed by our hands. This is good and bad, but I am not sure which is greater. We are known, as it is unlikely ANYONE is not aware of our existence or the danger we represent, but we are also feared, and only the foolish or the truly powerful will threaten us, and in fact many may serve our purposes out of fear. I do not like such implicit extortion, but it is how things work here.

We came to the gate and spent some time shouting back and forth at the guards. Eventually we were granted an audience with the leader of the Steel Hawks, and expressed our interest in unburdening them from the whims and demands of the Smiler tasked with lording over them. It seems his name is “Bird Food” in reference to the trained raptors he keeps. The Steel Hawks have no love for the mutilated fools or their Rust-themed masters, but do not trust our ability to do more than bloody the nose of these organizations. For my own part I suspect she is right, but a war is won with allies and maneuvering. By killing Bird Food and making other moves that erode the power base of the Rusties’ coalition we should be able to attract and build a coalition of our own.

After negotiations and information-gathering we set up camp in an abandoned and broken hut. Where we were set upon twice, first by a band of orcs, which gave me a chance to exercise my breath weapon and second by a band of 8 ogres. The ogres were a hard fight, but at the end 7 lay dead and we stood alive and victorious. I am nearly out of spells, but I believe we will suffer no further “tests” by the local predators. Unless said predators are truly stupid creatures.

Though now that I reflect on it, you have to be rather stupid, rather desperate, or quite mad to live here.

I am unsure if we are going to mount an assault or rest up, but that decision is coming soon.


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