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-VULCANUS-

-Burnmad-

IC: Terrorsaur (All); Burnmad (All); Flaredrick (All); Manducus (All); Underscore (All)

 

Burnmad arched his brow, starting at the pouch hanging from Terrorsaur’s belt, containing the strange artifact they had recently shown. “I cannot say I was expecting that you would have brought it with you. However, neither am I horrified by the act, as Flaredrick is. Still, certainly, it is a massive risk, and perhaps somewhat of a liability.” He motioned to a guard present in the hut. “Do me a favour and have the guard about this hut reinforced to the tune of another thirty men, and set aside fifty more for the Water delegations escort, when they should take their leave.” He turned back to the group. “I hope I do not offend, having that shard anywhere but admidst a battalion of soldiers is a worrying prospect for me. It’s not… right, and by your own account, it’s already killed people. We need to keep it out of irresponsible hands.”

 

Terrorsaur agreed, having seen its danger firsthand. “I understand completely. This is a strange object… I’ve never seen anything like it. Extra protection is almost to be expected for just about anything at this point…”

 

“Burnmad, do you wish for the object to be inspected right now?” Underscore asked, desiring to know more about the shard as soon as possible. “I feel that a thorough examination should be carried out somewhere at some point, but given the uncertainty about how dangerous this object is, and as we are in your quarts now, we will respect your wishes?”

 

“I think you should, perhaps, keep it hidden away for now.” Burnmad replied, though he was speaking to Terrorsaur. “There is a time and a place for proper study of the thing, but they are neither here nor now. Even among my guard, I should hate to see the shade you mentioned before. If it proved harder to put down than before…” He paused. “It could prove quite an embarrassing - and tragic - situation for both of our nations.”

 

Terrorsaur nodded, understanding Burnmad’s concern. Perhaps the divide between Tajun and Vulcanus was not so large after all. “Well, I think that is the whole situation explained, then. What would you have done with the Agori we have in our hospital?”

 

“I’m sure that after sustaining such a great wound, it will be long before he can travel,” Burnmad responded. “However, we are more than willing to compensate Tajun for whatever length of time he must remain in your care. As concerns his memories, they are of a particular interest to all of us, and you can expect my own people to be by for his debriefing, and for him to be given permission to disclose all he knows to whatever official you deem fit for that responsibility.” He held his hands together, certain that the business regarding the strange shard had been concluded. “Was there anything else to discuss, while we were on the subject?”

 

Terrorsaur looked over at Underscore, unsure if there was anything else to discuss. “I believe I’ve said and heard all I need, unless Vulcanus has any additional knowledge of strange shards like this one.”

 

Underscore spoke. “One second… if there are more stones like this one, and they all have supernatural powers, then that means bad things for Bara Magna. We need to do something to find out more. Travel to other regions, see if they’ve had similar experiences. If there are more, they need to be thoroughly studied, and secured or deactivated or whatever so they don’t cause any damage. Or so that nobody finds a way to utilise its power and use it against the other tribes, as you’ve said. Perhaps even forming some sort of organisation dedicated to these artifacts would be necessary…” He trailed off, lost in thoughts about obtaining, maintaining, and explaining such bizarre objects, then came back to reality. “I don’t know, this is all becoming very hypothetical. We don’t even know how many there are, these could be the only ones. I do think travelling to the other villages should be done, though, and soon. I’d even be happy to help with doing it.” He finished, and awkwardly stood there, realising he’d been talking for a while. “What do you all think?”
 

“I think,” Burnmad suggested as a messenger entered and whispered in his ear, “That you’ve a point, Underscore. Perhaps the Glatorian among us may have opportunity to discuss the shards - discreetly and discerningly - with representatives of the other nations, when they have turned up to the Great Tournament at the Arena Magna.” He smiled warmly at Flaredrick and Manducus. “Good luck to both of you. You are called upon to act with as much tact and cleverness as a politician possesses… I am sure you will both rise to the challenge. Take the opportunity to get comfortable with each other while en route to the arena: You will surely find you can control the conversation with your fellows more easily when you can work together.”

 

Oh yes, the Tournament… Terrorsaur thought. “Well then, I believe I will continue to move with Manducus. Perhaps others will be more willing to speak of shards and stones if they know we cannot be lied to… if they know we already have one. Unless, of course, there is a way I can be of service to the people of Vulcanus?”

 

“Well…” Burnmad started, before pausing a moment. “I do have a question - one which I hope does not offend, as I am all but required to ask it for the sake of my people. Because of the close working relationship into which I imagine these shards will place us, I will ask only once, and accept whatever answer you give at face value: Do you yourself, or any one of your countrymen to your knowledge, possess any inkling, hint, or clue as to the possible whereabouts, or last known location, of either two trainee Glatorian, or the previous governor of Vulcanus, all of whom were last known to be near Tajun?” The question, addressing such a sensitive topic, was phrased inoffensively and spoken as quickly as possible.

 

Terrorsaur paused for a moment, blinking a few moments. He was not surprised that Burnmad would ask, but rather, surprised that it took this long for Burnmad to bring the subject up. At this point, he was expecting for it to be a topic at their next meeting, whenever that would be, if it would happen at all. “I’m afraid I know nothing more than the fact that the three of them did, in fact, go missing. I cannot speak for everyone present, but that is the extent of my knowledge. I suspect that they may have unfortunately come of the same fate as the Agori of the most recent incident. A Bone Hunter ambush.” He shifted his feet, almost regretting adding the last part. He knew Tajun was innocent, but now it appeared he was certain they were dead in addition to pointing fingers at the Bone Hunters.

 

Burnmad nodded. “Thank you… You may go, then… If your group will be splitting up, then you may similarly split up the troops I have assigned to supplement your escort. And, when that job is done… You may use them to ensure the safe delivery of your water shipments, to us, and to the other nations, if you wish. Consider them as being on loan to you, as a gift.”

 

And with that, Terrorsaur, Manducus, and Flaredrick exited, heading for the Arena Magna, site of the Great Tournament.

 

Little did they know they were about to jump into a fire about to rage higher and brighter than ever before, the same metaphorical fire encompassing Iconox, Tesara, and ever-so-slowly beginning to encroach upon Roxtus.

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-GATHERER’S RIDGE-

-Hyethut-

IC: Hyethut (All)

 

Hyethut, leading a group of three soldiers, gave chase to the Bone Hunter that had just eluded them, passing through the dust that had allowed the Gatherer’s escape, ready to slash down upon the right shoulder of the Bone Hunter, shield arm at the ready.

 

The Hunter, however, happened to look over his shoulder, and was not prepared to have been pursued so quickly by more than one Agori. As such, they stopped immediately, raising their sword and plunging it into their stomach, not willing nor ready to give the secrets of the Bone Hunters to the plant-dwellers. Unfortunately, such rash actions are unlikely to be successful, so while they did have a wound, they’d managed to avoid any crucial organs. For now, he would survive if medical aid was given in an appropriate manner. They fell unconscious, blood seeping out of their wound.

 

“Delay that last order, men.” Hyethut ordered, his last order having been to run after the hunter. “He won’t be good to us dead. Treat him immediately, but don’t let your guard down lest you both end up dying.”

 

Hyethut stopped, baffled at the sudden sound of footsteps growing louder, turning around to see fifty-odd soldiers arriving. “What in the name of Grunkhar are you doing here?”

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-WHITE QUARTZ MOUNTAINS-

-Voltex-

IC: Voltex (All)

 

Voltex picked up the shard, knowing the strange things, whatever they were, were watching him. Now, they were doing more than watching. They were running down to him and the crater, a few picking up mouthfuls of worms while the others approached and observed him.

 

He, in turn, observed them, noting that they seemed to be biomechanical and pack-based, intelligent. He recalled they were astoundingly similar to what a trader once described, who called such creatures ‘Iron Wolves’. He also recalled rumours of a hermit in the mountains who commanded a pack of such creatures, upon noting that they had not attacked yet, despite having an advantage.

 

Looking to the horizon, he noticed a figure on the horizon to the east  for a second, then disappeared as soon as they appeared. Immediately after, the Iron Wolves began to surround him in all directions but the east, growling at him, as if prompting him to move. He nodded, understanding the wolves’ intent, and feeling strangely calm despite the risk of death. Granted, he was no stranger to it, but death by wolves would be an unpleasant way to go, and began to move as prompted.

 

He was taken to their den, where he saw the same figure he saw earlier, walking with a limp and assisted by a walking staff, in white armour and a relic of what Glatorian once were, a former member of the Ice Tribe.

 

The figure was quick to ask him a question, one perhaps too painful for a stranger to ask. “Do you dream?”

 

“I do. Not that it’s worth much, anymore.” A great sadness threatened to fill Voltex, but he shoved it down, so deeply as if it never existed in the first place. He inclined his head, respectively. “Voltex, of the Iron Tribe. Leader, some might say, though there aren’t many left to be led, and even fewer willing to follow.”

 

“Surel. Glatorian of the Ice Tribe of Spherus Magna, some might say, though that world died long ago.” Surel paused, looking around at the Iron Wolves. “Down.” Immediately, the Iron Wolves crouched down against the ground. “Why are you here?”

 

Double-checking to make sure his hand was still wrapped, Voltex pulled the second shard he’d recently acquired out of his satchel. “This.”

 

Surel stared at it for a while, as if recognising the markings upon the shard where no others would. His face grew more contemptuous as he slowly realised who had created the object the shard belonged to. “A relic of the past. Created by them, no doubt. The same beings who destroyed Spherus Magna, the same beings who then abandoned us.” He took a step forward toward Voltex, extending his hand. “Give it here. It will be kept safe from its creators and those who would misuse it - not that they are different - once I destroy it.”

 

Voltex cringed, shaking his head and placing the shard back into his satchel. He unwrapped his ruined hand, and showed it to Surel. “I would think twice. This happened just from me picking it up. To be honest… I’m not certain attempting to destroy it is a wise idea for anyone with biological tissue.”

 

“If your hand is unusable, that is only a reason it must be hidden if it cannot be destroyed. If you wish to keep it, what would you possibly do with it?”

 

“Truth be told, I’m hoping to gather the rest. Mostly to keep them out of the hands of the Skrall... but I’m also curious. There were six of these shards, and I can’t help but wonder what we might be able to achieve if we were to repair them. Judging by my hand, it is something to do with time, or perhaps life.” Voltex did not mention his thoughts about using them to save the Iron Tribe from its own past - he knew it was a fool’s hope.

 

“I do not think it possible to repair it, and I hesitate to consider what would happen if you did.” Surel spoke, almost with fear in his voice. He signalled something to his Iron Wolves, who got up from crouching down, took their gazes off Voltex and resumed their ordinary activities. “But I will let you go. It is clear you are determined to hold onto these things and wish not to concern me, and I wish to be distant from whatever it is, if it is not to be destroyed. I dare not mess with anything that further interferes with the stream of life.”

 

Voltex nodded, turning to go, before turning back.  I must ask, he decided. Nato has been more than just an ally, he has become one of the few Agori that I truly can feel I trust. I cannot even say that about members of my own tribe, not these days. A memory flashed to the forefront of his mind. Telluris. He shoved it down, shaking his head to clear it. “I’m a little curious,” he began. “What is your opinion of the Skrall? And what was it, exactly, that drove you to leave Iconox in the first place? I’m afraid all I knew of you before this meeting were the rumours of a Glatorian and a pack of wolves in the mountains.”

 

“The Skrall… Like many others, they long for a time long gone. They desire the empire they once had, and for all the show they put on of being fearless, unbeatable warriors, they run at the first sight of the dangers north. And they always run south, without fail. This pattern has repeated again and again, as they go ever further south. Always in fear.” He stopped for a while, then added, “And if you should ever go further north, you should learn a lesson from them: they are right to fear.” He sat down, laying his walking staff to the side.

 

“I never left Iconox for I was never there. Iconox has never been my home. My… original home is somewhere in the skies now, out of reach. Yours too, if I believe correctly.He sighed, holding his head downwards, a familiar sadness within, lamenting the many nights he’d spent staring at the green moon in the night skies. “This den you see now, this is my home. I do not interact with the world Bara Magna has become, it is broken enough for me. I fought in the war that broke it, after all.”

 

He motioned to a nearby Iron Wolf, who then approached Voltex. “If you are going now, take… a friend with you. You may find yourself needing them in this world where others backstab you for a drop of water.”

 

Voltex stared at the Iron Wolf. “Does it have a name?” he asked.

 

“Ehyre. Ehrye is the name I gave it, but you may give them a new name if you wish.”

 

“Ehrye. I like it.” Voltex paused, his mind occupied by the distant past. A longing for a home. “From one who has lost their home to another… thank you. And I wish you the best of luck. I will remember this meeting fondly.”

 

Surel nodded goodbye, staring at the night sky. He was wondering why, why the old world had to die.

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-GATHERER’S RIDGE-

-Andekas-

IC: Andekas (All); Hyethut (After Entrance)

 

Andekas continued the chase he’d been on for a while. It was not going particularly well - he and the Agori with him were on chariots, while the Bone Hunters were on Rock Steeds. The former, pulled by Spikits, restricted in speed by pulling a chariot. The latter, steeds not restricted in their speed, specially adapted to running around Bara Magna.

 

It was then Andekas noted that the Bone Hunters were now on a path out of Gatherer’s Ridge, coming up on a wide crevasse with only a narrow arch connecting the two sides. Down in the crevasse, a large abyss becoming clearer as the two groups rapidly approached it.

 

“Men, pull back! If we try to go over that arch, we’ll most likely be ambushed and die, or worse, fall with the arch.” Andekas ordered, not wanting to risk the lives of his men, gesturing for  them to turn around. “We’ll meet back up with General Hyethut, and flank from behind whatever remains of the Bone Hunters attacking his men if necessary.”

 

He looked back as he left, and saw the Bone Hunters come to a stop on the other side. While he was not sure, he thought that he saw Fero smirking. He stomped, breaking apart a small rock as he did so.

 

As he and his men returned to Hyethut’s last known location, they found it far more bloody than they had remembered, chunks of flesh here and there. But, alas, it seemed Hyethut’s men were more than able to take care of the hunters, as he eyed one still alive, but wounded, in the dirt. He rode up to meet Hyethut’s men, who were inspecting the Gatherer. Andekas ignored this, instead feeling severely disappointed in himself as he realised he could have blown up the arch-bridge under his enemies with a well-placed thornax or two. Looking at the wounded Bone Hunter, he commanded his troops, “Strike them at will, spread that word amongst your fellow brothers.” He lowered his head, and thought to himself I am a warrior, not a commander. Though I don’t know what the future holds, I should be prepared for anything. But if caution is not enough, what is?”

 

“HALT! STOP THAT ORDER! Have you gone mad?” Hyethut countermanded Andekas’ orders to strike the lone Bone Hunter, irritated. “This is the last remaining Bone Hunter, and they are of no harm to us at the moment! Harm him before we get any information out of him, and I will decree thee a traitor.”

 

A lone Agori, young and inexperienced, instead rode by the injured Bone Hunter, leaning out and trying to take a swipe, aiming to decapitate them. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for everyone else, they were new to chariot combat, missing their target completely.

 

“You there. I appreciate your loyalty, but if you had hit that prisoner of war, I would have you whipped six different ways for twelve days straight.” By the way Andekas seemed to have been acting, General Hyethut had a feeling that the Glatorian had failed to retrieve the strange shard. Mad that he had lost almost the only lead he had on the fallen star by an idiotic mistake, he would take his time in making a formal recognition of this so as to not make an outburst at Andekas. Finally, he turned to the fifty new soldiers that had arrived.

 

“You have walked in upon quite the grizzly scene, brothers. May I ask why you have been sent here, and any news from holy Tesara?”

 

The apparent captain of the soldiers stepped forward to answer. “Lord Timelord was concerned with how long it was taking both his military personnel to scout exsidian in the mountains. As such, fearing for your safety, he sent us.” He glanced around at the scene before, a disappointed glance presented to Hyethut. “Seems his concern was not unfounded.”

 

“Well, you missed the action. I am thinking of returning to Tesara for the night to to give us all a rest and tend to our wounded. Glatorian!” He shouted, beckoning Andekas for conversation. “Stay our feet soldiers, remember to stay with the group until told otherwise.,” he said to the captain of the 50 soldiers, before turning to Andekas. “Andekas, I thought about leaving for home, but I have my mission to continue. It barely began before the fallen star crashed upon the land. Go home, and get ready for the Grand Tournament that is close at hand. I am certain the combat out here will help you as a refresher for dangerous combat.”

 

He finished, noting the annoyance of the fifty soldiers that had just walked to Gatherer’s Ridge, then began to announce, “Attention everyone. You have all served valiantly, but I am sure some of you would rather go rest comfortably. Even though I would love to see the green heart of the world that is Holy Tesara once more, I still have a mission to pursue. Those of you who have travelled with me up here initially have my permission to go back to Tesara with Glatorian Andekas, the wounded are ordered to go back as well. You fifty will stay here with me as well as any that wish to remain. Be sure to leave most of your camping supplies for we will need it if we are to spend more time out here.”

 

The fifty soldiers who had just arrived were relieved, and those who were had already been present were relieved they did not have to stay.

 

But if they knew part of Tesara was burning, it is unlikely any of them would have stayed at all.

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-TESARA-

-Timelord-

IC: Timelord (All); Lan (All)

 

Timelord dropped his thornax launcher, crying. Not out of sorrow, but from shock of what he just did. “What… what did I just do?” He had just killed a Jungle Agori - in anger. Granted, a Jungle Agori who saw the lives of other Jungle Agori as playthings to arrange in such a way that made accepting the Skrall’s offer inevitable.

 

Timelord straightened up, looking around at the guards he’d wrongfully imprisoned. I know how to save the village. “Noble guards of Tesara, I am sorry for your false imprisonment. I thought - wrongly - that you were traitors like Orkahm, for he said you were, but I now I see the truth. That you are no traitors, but honest Agori, victims of Orkahm’s machinations like me, like the village, like all of Tesara. I ask for your help in saving your - our village. Follow me, and I will show you to the firefighting supplies.”

 

He found the guards more than willing to help him - though, in truth, it was partially because their village was burning, and refusing would mean it would inevitably burn to the ground. They followed him, not wasting time to grab the supplies, then waiting for Timelord’s orders.

 

“Put out the larger fires first, but if you can prevent anything from burning at all, do so. Please.” Timelord commanded, picking up two buckets himself and racing toward the burning village. He sat them down next to a guard, shoved past an Agori with a flaming torch, and hopped upon a tree stump, which was thankfully not on fire.  He looked at the situation in horror, knowing what to say. “STOP! Is this what you want the Twin Villages of Tesara to be known for? A senseless grudge? Two villages, eternally fighting each other, never anyone else? We let this continue happening, ALL of Tesara will end up burned to the ground. Not just the villages, the entire Jungle too. And then, there will not be a Jungle Tribe nor a Tesara. Only the laughingstocks of Bara Magna, who burned down their own villages. I may never let Tesara side with the Skrall, but I will never stand by and let this happen. We are the TWIN villages, no matter what. I will defend its people, no matter what. And we will always be the Jungle Tribe, no matter what.”

 

Yet for such a passionate speech, he failed to get anyone’s attention. Too many were preoccupied on escaping the fire, putting it out, or fanning its f lames. A single arsonist stopped, while another yelled “It’s a favour! We’re stopping the traitors!”

 

Dishearatened, Timelord hopped off the stump, picking up the buckets he’d set down and tried to seek out any guards that hadn’t joined in with the firefighting, finding a small group escorting some citizens to safety toward the other village. “Guards - arrest any arsonists you can find. Can you please tell me where you were taking the civilians to? I will take them there myself, for as long as the arsonists are free the fire will not stop.”

 

“The other village, sir. Where else would we take them?”

 

The guards broke off from the civilians, handing them over Timelord. They went and found five arsonists torching Orkahm’s hut - presumably the five Agori who had set the village on fire in the first place. “Under authority of Timelord of Tesara, you are under arrest for the crime of arson.” Two arsonists stepped forward, surrendering, while three pretended not to hear, who then found that if they would not listen, that they would have swords to their ears.

 

Timelord returned, having escorted the civilians safely, searching for Lan. “Lan! Where are you?”

 

Lan was busy aiding a small group of Agori putting out the flames charring a large building. Through the noise, he heard a voice call to him - the voice of Timelord. He quickly finished putting out the last of the flames upon the building, and ran over to Timelord, quickly offering the Tesaran Salute. “I am here, Leader Timelord. What news?” he spoke, breathlessly.

 

“Thank the gods you are still alive - this fire is getting out of hand, quickly. I just sent guards to imprison some of the arsonists, and I hope that is the lot of them, if not this is going to be much harder. We have enough firefighting materials, we just don’t have the manpower. If only Hyethut or Andekas were here, their troops could have put this out already.”

 

“You would be surprised what a few Agori can do in a dire situation - we’ve already saved a few streets. Let us continue fighting this fire, I am positive that seeing us in action will spur the Agori further onward. If all goes as well as it can, we will have this fire out before the moons are at their highest. And, if not, well… let’s not dwell on that.” With that, Lan left, wasting no time to further aid the Agori and fight the fire.

 

Timelord nodded, rushing to the dwellings where the fire was at its most extreme, looking for any Agori that may have been left behind. He searched, and searched, and searched, largely avoiding fire wherever he went, until through a cluster of burning huts with almost no exits or entrances, he saw many Agori - a congregation, praying to Grunkhar in what they believed to be their last moments.

 

Wading through fire, plant, and steel, he yelled through a small opening “Follow me! There is a way out, but I can only lead a few of you out at a time!”

 

He had convinced them to follow him, and yet as he sent the first few Agori out, one of the burning huts collapsed behind him, blocking their exit. He looked back, seeing the Agori on the other side, unharmed, but a close call for them and him. He knew he had to find a different way out.

 

“I have to leave! But I do have a plan!” He called out, rushing toward ten guards fighting a different but smaller fire. “Guards, there is a large group of Agori trapped in a wall of fire, and they need to be saved.  Six of you - find more help and try to put out the fire and free them.” He commanded, pointing to the burning cluster of huts, the six guards then gathering buckets of water and sand to put out the fire as well as trying to create a new exit for the cluster that wasn’t hazardous. Looking at the four guards still with him, he said “You four, follow me.”

 

He rushed over a water tank, containing half their recent delivery of water, and ordered it strapped to the back of a Baranus Chariot, which he then clambered into. “Two of you, take a Thornatus and go to Tajun - get more water.” As he finished, he nudged the Spikit pulling the chariot onward, and as he approached the cluster of hut, he saw the two guards trying to create an exit fail - one guard screaming as the exit they tried to create collapsed, while yet more screams emanated from within, while the fire raged higher and brighter than before. He need to improvise, and quickly.

 

He hopped off the Baranus, grabbing one of the guard’s swords, and cut the ropes holding the water tanks in place. He then hopped back into the chariot, ordering his Spikit to rush toward the fire, then made a quick turn, sending the water tank toward the burning cluster of huts, then shot at it with a thornax.

 

However unlikely, it seemed to work, the water tank colliding with a burning hut, sending drops of water and metal everywhere. Some of the fire had been sated, yet some huts had begun to collapse completely, one already having done so, narrowly missing the Agori within. Yet, there was a path, albeit a hazardous one - not as hazardous as before, but still hazardous. Noting this, Timelord ordered his guards to switch to sand to extinguish the flames, hoping it would dull the jagged edges of the metal now here and there.

 

He then ran, and saw Lan. “Lan, good to see you. How is the rest of the village faring?”

 

“Relatively well - we are making good headway in putting out these fires. But there is still work to be done. How can I help?”

 

“That’s good to hear. Right now, there is a large group of Agori trapped behind some burning rubble. I have guards putting out the fire there with sand so it can cover the remains of the water tank I exploded. Before you ask, I blew up a water tank, trying to put out the flames and to create an escape route. I already have two guards rushing to Tajun to get more water. Besides that, just keep doing what you’re doing.”

 

Lan offered the Tesaran salute once again before trying to depart. Where once they were distraught at the flames, they were now hopeful - it looked as if flames would burn the entire village to the ground, at least.

 

Timelord, however, interrupted before Lan departed. “I need you to help get the trapped Agori to safety. I’m going to look for our lost comrades, they may have gone to Atero for shelter.”

 

Timelord rushed back to his chariot, collecting ten guards fully armed, four more chariots, and a dozen Thornax. “Alright, men. This is a potential rescue mission. We’re heading toward Atero in hopes finding our lost comrades. We could face anything out there from beasts to Bone Hunters. Now, let’s go.”

 

There were several questions going through Lan’s head as Timelord prepared to depart. Questions such as Why now when the village is still burning? Or Why do you think they are in Atero? Or What should be done when this fire is put out? But circumstances dictated he only ask one. “What happens if you die?” he yelled.

 

Timelord looked back at Lan. “I leave Tesara in your hands until my return, and I pray to the gods I do return.” He yelled, as he gave the Tesaran Salute to Lan. “I know Tesara is in good hands with you!”

 

Lan returned the salute. “May the gods hold their hands over you, Leader Timelord.”

“May the gods hold their hands over you as well.” Timelord then departed from Tesara, much to the surprise of many.

 

A few Agori could not believe their eyes. Is he really leaving while our village is still burning?!

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-ICONOX-

-Onaku-

IC: Onaku (All); Smoke Monster (All); Nato (Al); FF (All); Toru (All); Rahkshi Guurahk (All); Luroka (After Entrance); Voltex (After Entrance)

 

Onaku could not believe his eyes. He, along with Smoke Monster, twenty-five Agori, and four Skall, had just arrived at Iconox. Instead of finding a village ruled by order and protected by Skrall, they found a village at war with itself. Ice Agori fighting Ice Agori, almost evenly split were it not for the fact that one side had Skrall, the other none. Organising themselves in such a way as to prevent getting grabbed by the anti-Skrall side of the crowd, they slowly made their way to the village centre, where most of the fighting seemed to be taking place.

 

Here, they could hear many unidentified voices, some louder than others. “Stop this madness! It’s too late to change this! Do you seriously think Tuma is going to forgive us, now that we’ve spurned his deal and began trying to slaughter his warriors? No matter whose side you fight on now, we’re all equally guilty in the Skrall’s eyes! We must stand together, against the Skrall or we will all fall!” One such voice shouted, the voice being vaguely familiar. Another yet shouted “People of Iconox! We didn’t start this bloody madness to have citizens kill citizens! We started it to drive the Skrall out of the city! Iconox will cease to exist if we keep mindlessly butchering each other! We must unite and only focus on the true threat: the Skrall!” This voice, in particular, coincided with a slight shift within the crowd - some Agori stopped fighting each other, and instead began to focus on the Skrall, almost as if in a military battle against them. It was at this point that Onaku decided it was time for him and his group to move to somewhere else, somewhere less dangerous for a citizen of the Rock Tribe. Thus, they began to advance toward the edges of Iconox, where a high vantage point upon a cliff saw them overlooking most of Iconox - but not before having a few Rock Agori dragged away by the angry crowds as they moved.

 

“Do you have any suggestions as to what we should do?” Onaku asked to his Rock Agori and Skrall, overlooking the village of Iconox.

 

A Skrall stepped forward. “We could find the instigators, Iconox’s leader, take them back here, and behead them, presenting their heads as warnings. They will accept their protection or accept their eradication.” Perhaps a bit extreme.

 

A Rock Agori stepped forward. “We’re on a mountain looking at a village surrounded by mountains. Can we trigger an avalanche?” Perhaps a bit messy.

 

Another Rock Agori did not step forward, but simply whispered in Onaku’s ear, stopping halfway through as they darted back when they noticed a Skrall looking at them.

 

“You four,” Onaku commanded, addressing the four Skrall with him. “Go find the perpetators. You will not engage them. Report their identities back to me.” He turned to eight Rock Agori. “Assist them in this endeavour. And if you can, try to find your peers that got dragged away earlier.” Once they had left, out of hearing range, Onaku turned to the Rock Agori that had whispered to him, and they whispered to each other for a while.

 

Some would guess what the whispers were about - strategies to end the civil war? How to deal with it? Betraying and weakening the Skrall? But nobody could know for certain.

 

-Nato-

 

Nato, still standing on the stage, tried to come to terms with the violence around him. He’d already tried to repair the situation - he just wanted to oust the Skrall, not start a civil war. Yet here was, the instigator of a civil war by accident. As thoughts on what to do raced through his head, he noticed four Skrall and eight Rock Agori briefly appear within the crowd, observe him directly, then disappear soon after. As far as he knew, there were no Rock Agori in Iconox, so he cursed, climbing down off the stage and attempting to follow - if Tuma had sent his people to check up on things in Iconox, he could not let them escape.

 

“Careful now!” he heard, from FF nearby, and felt twenty-five Ice Agori join him as he tried to weave his way through the crowd, giving any Skrall a wide berth. When he finally saw the Rock Agori again, he saw something more surprising. He saw a mass of Skrall - twenty-nine, following the Rock Agori. But that was not the surprising part. The surprising part was the Iron Agori among them, the Iron Agori he recognised.

 

Luroka? The mere sight of them brought Nato’s advance to a halt. For a split second, he wondered why he was there, but his sense of horror grew as he recognised Luroka’s companions for what they were. Luroka was not their prisoner, nor were the Skrall coercing him. He was leading them.

 

Taking a moment to calm himself, Nato knew that trying to take on twenty nine Skrall, some Rock Agori, and whatever else with only twenty-five Ice Agori to get to Luroka was most likely not going to work. Instead, he kept his distance, continuing to try to follow the group in case of any opportunities to strike along the way or at their destination.

 

He saw them proceed up an incline near the edges of Iconox, at the top of which were yet more figures - including Smoke Monster, who he recognised. Perhaps unwisely, he began approaching them slowly, their conversation getting louder - one most interesting to him.

 

“Retrieve Nato? For what purpose?” A Rock Agori asked, Nato not recognising their voice.

 

“Tuma’s not too happy about the decisions he’s made.” Luroka answered, confirming some of Nato’s suspicions.

 

“So he sent you? What’s going on here? What did you do?”

 

“Accepted a bounty.”

 

“Well, that is intriguing.” Nato mused, approaching the group of Rock Agori and Skrall, flanked by his twenty-five troops. “Are Voltex and Sahmad in on this bounty of yours, or have you betrayed them, too? And since when do Iron Tribe bounty hunters get thirty Skrall bodyguards? If I didn’t know better, I’d say it looks like Tuma’s put you in charge of his men. I wonder what all of these Rock Agori think of being outranked by some backstabbing outsider.”

 

The Rock Agori Luroka was talking to - Onaku - raised an eyebrow. “Nato, I presume? You’ve caused quite the ruckus here in Iconox. Must be quiote proud of yourself.”

 

Luroka turned to his Skrall. “That’s him. Kill any opposition, but bring him to me.”

 

Onaku quickly turned his head to Luroka, not believing that Nato’s words were turning out to be true. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing.” he said, as he stepped between Luroka and Nato. “If you want to get to Nato, you’re going to have to go through me first. You’re not here to serve Roxtus’ interests, you’re here to serve yourself and ingratiate yourself to Tuma at our expense. I can’t let you do that. Men, you will either stay with me and fight, or leave now. I won’t force you to turn against the Skrall, but I will not have you assist them in following this farce.” His Rock Agori stood with him.

 

“Get out of my way, or be destroyed. That is your only warning.” Luroka threatened.

 

“Back down or face oblivion. That is my only warning to you. I didn’t get to where I am by running away from my battles, and I don’t intend to start now.” Onaku drew his weapon, holding it ready.

 

Smoke Monster turned, walking over and standing with Onaku. “Onaku is right. You will not cause harm to Roxtus or its allies.” He also drew his weapon, holding it ready, while reassuring the Rock Agori that standing with Onaku was right.

 

“Crush the two Agori.” Luroka ordered, pointing at Onaku and Smoke Monster. Instead of doing as ordered, the Skrall hesitated, while ten outright refused -  the four that came with Onaku and Smoke Monster, and six more of the twenty-five that had accompanied him. They were waiting for a better reason as to why they should harm General Onaku or the Diplomat Smoke Monster, both who served Tuma, both of whom had yet to err from serving the Skrall cause.

 

“The Agori is right. You will not cause harm to Roxtus or its allies. You were to capture Nato, alive, and bring Mighty Tuma the heinous criminal Voltex in any state. Nothing else. Harm those who serve the will of Mighty Tuma, and those who serve the will of Mighty Tuma will not hesitate to harm you.”

 

Nato grinned, noting this sudden rift between the Rock Tribe’s forces. “Attack the Skrall, but don’t harm the Agori!” He commanded, as his Agori forces began to attack the twenty-nine Skrall present, not discriminating between the two sides of the rift.

 

As he did so, an Agori jumped down from above, landing with grace, equidistant from the others. Voltex. “Luroka, what have you done? Where is Sahmad?” he asked, a pit of dread growing in his stomach as he he took in the situation now around him.

 

“Those Agori who stand between myself and Nato have made a conscious decision and must be removed.” Luroka ordered once again, hoping the Skrall would listen this time.

 

“We refuse you. You’ve betrayed your own tribe. We do not trust you will not do the same with us.” Onaku replied, defiantly.

 

Nato hoped that Onaku’s defiance made for a sufficient distraction, dashing toward Luroka with his sword to make a decisive blow - aiming to pierce the lungs. Instead, he ended up creating a shallow but not fatal wound upon Luroka’s chest. And then?

 

Luroka bashed him in the head with his fists, knocking Nato out instantly.

 

For Nato, the world went black. And, given the situation at hand, it was more than likely he’d awaken in a cage in Roxtus.

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-ATERO-

-Terrorsaur-

IC: Terrorsaur (All); Manducus (All); Flaredrick (All)

 

Terrorsaur arrived at Atero with Manducus and Flaredrick in tow, yet began to rage. It appeared he was ever slightly too late to interact with anyone of interest. More worryingly was that the Great Tournament was nigh, but neither the Ice Glatorian nor Jungle Glatorian had shown up, and as an indirect result, Atero had less defense than it should have done - something of particular interest to him. This isn’t good.

 

He decided, to pass the time and gather information by greeting a Jungle Agori. They spoke for a while, but Terrorsaur did not learn much other than that one of Tesara’s villages was burning, and that Sahmad had met his end.

 

“Have you seen them watching?” The Jungle Agori asked, somewhat unsettling Terrorsaur.

 

He lowered his voice. “The Skrall?”

 

“No, not them… them, in the distance.”

 

Terrorsaur followed the Jungle Agori’s line of vision, and saw two vague figures in the distance. Vague, tall figures, acting as if observing Atero from afar. “Interesting… I wonder if they’re looking for something. I’ve heard rumours of strange shards.”

 

“They don’t seem to be looking around, though they were earlier. They seem to be looking directly at Atero, appearing and disappearing like that. Um, actually, I think they’ve noticed us looking at them.”

 

Terrorsaur looked back at the figures, noticing they had suddenly disappeared over the horizon. He lowered his eyes again. “Maybe they’re waiting for the tournament to begin. Well… thank you for your time.” He nodded, and headed off to try and find someone from Iconox.

 

His attempt to speak was immediately interrupted by the appearance of the figures on the horizon once again. But this time, they seemed to be getting larger. They were approaching.

 

It dawned on Terrorsaur they were not simply large figures, but figures atop larger figures.

 

Figures on Rock Steeds.

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