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Discussion Ambassador to Anvilgard...

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Tk'ya'pyk, Jun 11, 2021.

  1. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    Atypically of the cities of humanity, Anvilgard is an anomalous outpost within the ravenous jungles of Aqshy. Its streets shrouded in cloying, misty residue of the potent herbicide used to keep the foliage at bay, back from the city's walls. It is a dour, somewhat dreary place, subject to the frequent minor quakes that herald another eruption from the volcanoes that ring the landward side of the walls and help to nourish the soil.

    I probably should not be here.

    At the ripe age of eighty-six, I have lived longer than just about every other skink I know, and most I have heard of on record. I should be enjoying a well-deserved retirement in my library, but these are troubling times. When the previous holder of my post was found dead the morning after the Necroquake struck, the decision was made to appoint myself as the new Seraphon Ambassador in Anvilgard.

    I suspect this decision was made, in part, because I annoyed the Starseer once too often. While this appointment is supposed to be an honor, most of the Seraphon stationed in the city consider a position here to be a punishment detail. Still, I have been sent to do a task, and no matter how distasteful I may find it, I have been striving to accomplish my duties to the utmost of my ability.

    Having free access to the city library eases the supposed punishment considerably...

    - From the personal diary of Starseer Pah'tch'kar, written two weeks into his tenure as Ambassador to Anvilgard.
     
  2. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Is this the beginning of a story, Tik?

    If so, sounds interesting...
     
  3. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    Sighing in annoyance, Pah'tch pulled his attention away from the text he was perusing and turned towards the doorframe. Qul'tok stood there. Tall and slender, his dusky red scales glistened from the layer of mist that quickly attached itself to everyone and everything in Anvilgard. Pah'tch had to stifle a grin at the human-style vest he insisted on wearing with the more traditional skink loincloth and jewelry.

    “My apologies, Ambassador,” Qul'tok began, his voice deep and somewhat growly – more like that of a saurus than the skink he was. “You had asked me to pull you away from your research with sufficient time to make it to the Council Meeting.”

    Letting out another sigh, the elder skink nodded. “Indeed, I did,” he admitted. Making a note of where he was on a scrap of parchment, he closed the heavy tome and stood up. At his full height, Pah'tch stood about five-foot-six, not including the tall finned crest atop his reptilian head. His own scales were an unusual color. An almost iridescent swirled mix of black and brown that some had likened to the color of mud at the edge of a tar pit, but specks of color were hinted at along the edges of some of his scales. A glint of yellow here, a dot of red there. His crest, ragged and pierced by a trio of glittering platinum rings was a pale gray streaked with white.

    Like many of his fellow skinks within Anvilgard, Pah'tch had elected to wear some semblance of human clothing. But where most of them elected to wear vests or some kind of loose tabard, Pah'tch had selected a specially-fitted, loose tunic of soft green linen, surmounted by a stole covered in hand-embroidered Seraphon glyphs – glyphs that Pah'tch had sewn into the cloth by his own taloned hand.

    Reaching down next to the table he'd been sitting at, the elder skink lifted his satchel-bag up and slipped the strap over one shoulder, before grabbing the handle of his cane. That was an oddity, carved from the bone of a long-dead creature from Ghur, and like his stole, embellished with a series of Seraphon glyphs.

    He stepped lightly for his eighty-plus years, letting his long, forked tail act as a balance behind him. That oddity often made new subordinates pause in confusion. It was not normal for a fork-tailed skink to be seen in any role other than that of Oracle, and yet here Pah'tch was, serving as Ambassador. Though he'd been in the city for some time, none of his subordinates had dared to ask him about it. He suspected they were just being polite. Pah'tch knew for a fact they were gossiping about it behind his back when they thought he couldn't hear them.

    “Honestly,” he told Qul'tok, “I do not know why I bother going to these Council Meetings. I am simply there as an observer, after all, and have no say in anything that happens.”

    “They do ask your advice once in a while, Elder one,” came the reply.

    “Perhaps, but such requests are few and far between. I suspect my time would be better spent remaining here, with my research into the History of the Realms. Ah well, it is part of my job though, so I may as well make the best of it. Perhaps something interesting will have happened today.”
     
  4. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    Yes.

    Thank you. I was going for interesting.
     
  5. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Skink Chief

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    Personally, i'd do less with descriptions that describe a character's looks and clothing, since there's so much of it and it seems to be the main body of the story. I think perhaps most of the words that were used for that purpose could've been used for strengthening the tone of the intro and/or foreshadowing. But I still like it, and i'm wondering how our skink-friend will deal with warm-blooded politics.


    It's somewhat common to either depict or draw lizardmen as wearing loincloths - even though they have no sexual organs. so what are they hiding? (sorry, i have an incredibly naughty, naughty mind) :p
     
  6. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    It is a social protocol.
     
  7. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    A good character description helps to build up a picture for the reader. I go into clothing styles for a reason, as it helps people to visualize how they would move and react.
     
  8. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    No such luck.

    As usual, the Conclave Meeting quickly devolved into a series of repetitive arguments between various members, held at bay by the barely-effectual abilities of the city's temporary commander.

    “This seems to be going well,” Qul'tok remarked in a sour tone.

    Nodding slowly, Pah'tch frowned as he looked about the room. “Where is Van Brecht?” he mused out loud.

    “I beg your pardon, Ambassador?”

    “Keiser Van Brecht,” he repeated, a little more slowly. “The Stormcast Commander? He is notably absent today. I know he dislikes these meetings as much as I do, but he always shows up, and usually steps in by this point to knock a few heads together and make this, this farce of diplomacy settle into something resembling proper democratic discourse.”

    Blinking furiously, Qul'tok glanced around the room before returning his gaze to the Ambassador. “He is not here, Ambassador.”

    “Yes, I already noted that. Tell me something I do not know.”

    “He and most of the resident Stormcast are in the Eightpoints on some sort of urgent mission,” a new voice whispered into Pah'tch's other ear.

    Glancing to his left, a wry smile ticked up one side of the skink's fanged muzzle. “Ah, Pyk'nur, I was wondering if you would show up.”

    “What?” Qul'tok gave a start of surprise at the sight of the newcomer – a chameleon-skink that blended in disturbingly well with the pillar he was hiding behind. “You aren't supposed to be here,” he hissed as softly as he could.”

    “I have urgent news for the Ambassador. It cannot wait.”

    Glaring down at the mess on the Conclave floor, Pah'tch rolled his eyes and nodded. Getting quietly to his feet, he bowed to the members of the Conclave – none of whom seemed to have noticed – and left the chamber.

    “Well, go ahead, Pyk'nur, what is so important that it cannot wait?” he asked of the chameleon. But instead of answering, the chameleon drew a knife from his belt.

    “What... what are you doing?!?” Pah'tch found himself being shoved rudely aside by the spy. The sound of metal striking metal filled his ears a second later. Taking his bearings, he was shocked to find the chameleon-skink locked in melee with his aide! “What is the meaning of this?!?” he demanded of them both.

    With a swift motion, Pyk'nur's tail lashed out and wrapped around Qul'tok's arm. Between tail and blade, the chameleon managed to disarm him, sending Qul'tok's blade to the floor with a clatter. “Ambassador, we need to get you out of here and back to the safety of our Embassy!”

    “But why are you attacking my aide?!?”

    “We have proof that he has been suborned by the Blackscale Coil!”

    “Nonsense,” Pah'tch spat back. “What by the Realms could they possibly use to accomplish that?”

    “I do not know, but I have discovered that he – and the aides of most of the other Ambassadors – have orders to eliminate you and the others tonight!”

    Frowning, Pah'tch walked over to his aide and looked him in the eyes. “Is this true, Qul'tok?” His answer was a gibbet of spit on his muzzle. “I see.” Gripping his cane, the Ambassador ran a claw down one of the runes, then spun on his heel. Back to his aide, he regarded his spymaster and nodded. “Well then, I suppose we had better get going.” Before either spy or aide could react, Pah'tch stabbed the end of his cane behind him, under his arm, and into his aide's chest. Qul'tok had time to let out a gasp before there was a flash from the glyph he'd been fingering. A circle of gray ash, centered where the cane had struck him, suddenly flared bright before doubling in size. The aide let out a squeak of horror that turned into a choking sound as a cloud of ash spewed from his mouth. A moment later he fell to the floor, stone dead. The circle of ash continued to spread larger on the deceased aide's body, his remains collapsing to dust behind the edge of the spell effect.

    “Part of me wants to ask about that,” Pyk'nur muttered, “but we haven't the time.”

    “Indeed.” Pausing just long enough to grab one of his fallen aide's bracelets, the Ambassador led the way down the halls towards the exit. “What are we dealing with here?” he asked his spymaster.

    “It is rather complex.”

    “I figured as much. Summarize the current situation, please.”

    Nodding, Pyk's bulging eyes swiveled about in all directions as they walked. Every now and then the spy would stick out a hand to stop the Ambassador or pull him into the shadow of one of the pillars. Sometimes nothing happened, but more than once the sound of armed soldiers were heard shortly afterwards. Pyk would keep them in the shadows until he thought it was safe, then lead the way towards the exit once more.

    “Something has happened to the Stormcast regiments that should be guarding the city,” he explained softly. “Van Brecht and his command were pulled away to deal with some issue elsewhere, but they have not returned.”

    “Why are armed soldiers running through the Conclave?” he demanded.

    “Aelfs under the command of the Blackscale Coil, Ambassasor. Apparently they are no longer content with controlling half of the city from the shadows. They are mobilizing to take over and drive the non-aelfs out. I only just found out an hour ago. I do not know who gave the orders.”

    As they ducked into another alcove, Pah'tch gritted his teeth and growled softly. “I know whose orders they are following. You do not get to be my age without learning something of the politics of the other powers within the Realms. If the Stormcast were pulled out of the city in force, then Sigmar, or someone else high up in the ranks of the Stormcast has to have given that order. If the aelfs are marching in this kind of numbers, and the Stormcast have pulled out, then the serpent must be pulling the strings.”

    Hissing in shock, the spy rounded on Pah'tch. “No, you cannot be saying that Sotek did this?”

    “Wrong serpent,” he snapped back. “The other serpent.”

    “Oh, that one. Yessss, that would make the most sense.”

    “She has long coveted power. According to the most ancient of records I have perused, she has been like this for longer than history records. This has to be her doing.”

    Nodding, Pyk'nur peeked out from around the pillar and motioned for the Ambassador to follow. But Pah'tch stayed where he was. “Ambassador, we have to move. Now.”

    “No, we will not be doing that.” Reaching out a taloned hand, Pah'tch examined the stone next to him. “We should be close enough to ground level now, and this should be an outside wall, yes?”

    “I believe so, yes.”

    “We will never make it out through the front door. They will be watching for that.” Patting the spy gently on one shoulder, he smiled at him. “You are an asset to your job, Pyk'nur, but the aelfs have their own spies that are just as good. I assure you, they already know we are here. Get ready to fend them off for a moment, please.”

    Nodding, Pyk drew his dagger and slid a dart into his blowgun. Behind him, Pah'tch pulled a stylus made from some unusual, dark metal from somewhere on his person and began to scribe something onto the surface of the stone wall. Despite being hardened, solid blocks, the stylus etched into the surface like it was a hot needle carving into butter.

    Eyes whirling, the chameleon waited for the other shoe to drop. He was not waiting long. A flash from out of the corner of one of his eyes alerted him to an attack. He battered aside the poorly-flung dagger with his own, his unusual eyes tracking two different sections of the room at once. It was very hard to sneak up on a chameleon-skink on alert. Even as he was parrying the thrown dagger, another aelf slipped out of hiding from across the hallway and moved swiftly towards them. Pyk'nur did not wait for confirmation. He brought the blowgun up and shot the dart out towards the second attacker, then cursed as it was batted aside.

    They were on him. Pyk'nur parried desperately, trying to buy the time for the Ambassador to finish whatever he was doing. But he was outnumbered and outmatched, and he knew it. His only saving grace was the antivenom potion he'd consumed before entering the Conclave building. Stab and slice were getting through his guard, and he could feel himself slowing down from blood loss, but whatever toxins coated their blades was not affecting his body. He was beginning to suspect the aelfs were toying with him, prolonging the battle on purpose to watch his suffering.

    He heard Pah'tch's voice behind him fall silent, and hope fled. There has to have been a third one, he thought. The Ambassador is dead, and I have failed. But something odd was happening. It was becoming easier to dodge his opponents' attacks! The aelfs he was fighting suddenly seemed to be moving in slow motion! Pyk'nur had no idea how, he had no idea why, but he was not going to let his chance go to waste. Slipping under the first one's guard, he stabbed his dagger deep into the assassin's chest before side-stepping an attack from the second and carving a deep slice into that one's weapon arm.

    Before he could finish that one off, Pah'tch stepped into his vision and hit the second assassin over the head with his cane. It seemed like a fairly standard attack, but the aelf reacted like he'd been struck by a forge hammer! His neck snapped like brittle wood, the cracking sound oddly slow and muffled as he fell to the floor!

    Looking around as only one of his kind could, Pyk'nur noticed other aelfs in the area were moving oddly too. The ones further out looked like they were moving normally, but any aelf within a dagger's throw were slowed like the assassins had been!

    “What... what magic is this?” he asked the Ambassador.

    “Temporal magic, of course,” Pah'tch replied. “It takes a bit of effort to pull off, but I have created a bubble of distorted time surrounding us.” Tugging on Pyk'nur's arm, he led the stunned spy over to the wall where the chunk of stone he had been scribing glyphs into was crumbling into dust. “As an added bonus, in pulling time out of this stone to put it elsewhere, it has also gifted us a handy escape route!”

    As they slipped out through the hole in the wall, Pyk'nur looked at the Ambassador with newfound respect. “Elder, how did you do that? I did not think it was possible!”

    “I would prefer not to elaborate more. Suffice to say this is, in part, how I am still alive at my age. Now, where should we go from here? You know the city better than I do.”

    Looking out over Anvilgard, Pyk'nur shuddered. From where they stood against the wall of Dauntless Hall, they could see fighting breaking out all over the city. “We need to get to the Embassy,” the spy finally said, “but it is not going to be easy.”

    “I would not expect it to be.”
     
  9. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    Gazing out over the city, Pah'tch frowned at the sights that beheld him. From their vantage point up against the wall of Dauntless Hall, they could see the movements of forces running about, struggling to control the various alleys and streets. Judging by the smoke they could see rising over the rooftops, at least one building was on fire, and from the looks of things the Coil was pulling out all the stops.

    “Is that a hydra?” the Ambassador asked curiously, pointing at something with his cane.

    Swiveling one of his eyes in the direction Pah'tch indicated, Pyk'nur focused his gaze and nodded. “Hmm, yes, that does appear to be a hydra.” A moment later, a thin line of flame spewed from one of the heads and confirmed his suspicions.

    Pursing his muzzle, the elder skink idly drummed the fingers of one hand against the stone wall behind him. “Perhaps I should have looked a tad further into the future with my auguries this morning,” he mused. “Well, regardless we cannot stay here. It is only a matter of time before the Blackscale Coil gets their act together and sends their guards after us.” He paused for a moment to consider something. “Speaking of which, where are mine? Guards, that is?”

    “They are still at the Hall's entrance, Ambassador. I tried to get them to enter the building with me, but they will not obey any commands I give. I know not if they have been suborned by the Coil, but regardless they would not leave their posts.”

    “Hmm. That is commendable, but does create a problem.” It was but the focus of a moment for the aged Starpriest to draw upon his magic to thicken the mists about them. Not enough to impede their vision – to a point, anyway – but enough to make it harder for opponents to see them as they began to creep along the wall next to them.

    “I dislike this idea, Ambassador,” the chameleon muttered, his eyes constantly in motion and on the lookout. “We should be escaping into the city, not trying to meet up with any bodyguards that remain.”

    “I know, it is not an ideal plan, but we are going to need some warriors if we want to reach our embassy. Do you have a better idea?”

    “...no, not really.”
     
  10. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Skink Chief

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    Your recent update is good but I want moarrrr
     
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  11. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    Yes, yes, give me a bit. I tend to write decently, but it takes time, and my ADD means I tend to get distracted by other plots. At any given time (much like my warhammer armies), I'm working on at LEAST 6 different story plotlines.
     
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  12. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    “The way I see it,” the Ambassador said as they picked their way along the base of Dauntless Hall's fortifications, “we have a choice. We – the two of us, that is – could go into the city by ourselves. Now the benefits to that,” Pah'tch murmured as he stepped around a chunk of fallen masonry covered in moss, “is that by ourselves we can be more stealthy, yes?”

    “Exactly! That is why we should...”

    “Wrong,” the elderly skink stated bluntly. “You can be more stealthy that way. You are a chameleon-skink, bred and trained for that kind of work. I have more than eighty cycles under my talons. I am still spry, but my joints are stiff and I do not have your ability to blend into my surroundings. I would be more stealthy than, say, a saurus in this city, but it would only be a matter of time before someone would find me despite my attempts to hide.”

    Properly chastised, the scout nodded and thought about the idea as they drew nearer to the front gate. “I see. Perhaps magic then? You have some ability to, um...”

    “Manipulate time in a localized area. I am not ashamed to say it. An esoteric field of study,” Pah'tch added with a shrug, “but one that I am suited to. I do not have the ability to teleport like some grot-shaman, nor can I fly like a slaan or a starseer on their fancy chairs.” He paused and wistfully reflected on those wondrous floating devices. “Hmm, perhaps one day I shall accomplish a deed worthy of being permitted to utilize such a device. It would be nicer than walking.”

    Pyk'nur paused in his tracks, pulled one of his eyes away from the city and focused on the Ambassador. “Wait a moment, last I checked, you have a stegadon stabled in the city. You only walk around the city because you want to, not because you have to.”

    That brought an amused smile to the elder skink's muzzle. “Well, that and because the Council seems to take issue at the rather, um, substantial piles of droppings a stegadon leaves in its wake.”

    “So what is our other option then,” Pyk'nur mused as they approached the Hall's main entrance.

    “If we have my bodyguards with us, then we will have someone capable of holding off a direct attack. I am no warrior, though I know how to defend myself.” Glancing back towards the scout, Pah'tch smiled sadly. “And while you are considerably more effective in a combat situation than I am, neither of us would stand much chance in a protracted fight. Therefore,” he added, gesturing to a pair of large, hulking figures standing to one side of the main entrance, “we partner up with someone who can fight.”

    “Yes, elder,” the chameleon-skink whispered back, “but how do we know if they are loyal to you, or have been suborned by the Coil?”

    “There is only one way to find out.”

    They crept closer, keeping to the wall in an attempt to stay relatively unseen. Soon they could hear voices, and caught sight of a small squad of aelf soldiers in a heated discussion with the two saurus they could see.

    “Look, you ignorant savage,” one of the aelfs – a leader, from the looks of the embellishments on his armor and helmet – snapped out. “There is no need for you to remain on guard here! Return to your embassy!”

    “He doesn't understand aelfish,” another aelf said, rolling his – or possibly her – eyes. It was hard to tell with the helmets the aelfs wore.

    Casting the speaker a sour glare, the leader tried again, in the human tongue this time. When that failed to elicit a response from the saurus guard, the aelf tried the duardin tongue, then an odd pidgin of aelfish and sylvaneth. “Pfah,” he finally said, returning to aelfish, “stay there until you rot then!”

    That comment got a response. Glaring at the aelf from under his stegadon-skull helmet, the alpha growled. “My orders,” he spat out in diction-perfect aelfish punctuated by growls and snarls, “are to wait here until the Ambassador returns, then escort him wherever he wishes to go. We will wait.”

    “Then you'll rot,” the aelf snapped back, pausing to spit on the ground. “I care not then. Just stay out of our...”

    “Ah, it is good to know that someone still respects my position,” Pah'tch said as he stepped out of the wall's shadow. “No matter what these aelfs say, you are doing an excellent job, alpha Kar-Rek. You are a credit to your spawning.”

    While the aelf leader seemed to choke on whatever he was saying, another of the warriors gave a start and blurted out, “Ambassador Pah'tch? Wait, you're supposed to be,” but before he could finish, one of his fellows elbowed him in the gut.

    “I'm supposed to be what,” Pah'tch drawled out, his tone suddenly sour. “Dead? Obviously, reports of my death have been somewhat exaggerated. I assure you, I am quite alive and mostly well.” Turning to the alpha, the elder skink smiled up at the eight-foot-tall, reptilian warrior. “Kar-Rek, I believe these aelfs mean to do me harm. I am curious to know how you feel about that.”

    People – not other Seraphon, they know better – tend to think of saurus as being rather slow, which is a nice way of saying stupid. This is a fallacy, but not completely wrong. Saurus seem slow, because of how they are trained. When presented with a non-combat situation, they tend to appear stupid because they take their time pondering how they should react instead of blurting out the first thing that comes to mind, like many humans do. They think slowly, going over all of the possibilities in their minds before coming to a decision. A saurus who is on guard is watching everyone around him for a possible threat to his charge, but is also thinking about how he should react in various situations that present themselves.

    Kar-Rek did not have to think about how to react in this situation. He already knew what to do. Before the aelf leader could catch his breath, Kar-Rek's massive, stone-topped halberd (a tepoztopilli, or 'long axe' in the tongue of the Seraphon) swung out in a lightning-fast arc. A sickening crunch echoed off of the walls as it impacted the aelf leader's body at neck-height. Blood sprayed over the other aelf warriors, the cobblestones, and the wall. A moment later, the aelf's helmeted head, having been brutally detached from his body, struck the cobblestones with an off-pitch tone. His body stayed standing for several seconds after that, before collapsing abruptly to the street. Two of the other aelfs stepped back. One drew a sword, the other brought his spear down at the ready. A third aelf was not so lucky. Kar-Rek's follow-through smashed aside the aelf's leaf-shaped shield, crumpling the metal-framed wood like it was tin-foil before the force of the strike flung the aelf backwards into another of his fellows, causing both to fall to the ground.

    “Ah, thank you, alpha,” Pah'tch said, an oddly evil expression on his face. “I knew you would know just what to do.”
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
  13. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Skink Chief

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    great stuff in this update!


    Imo, this explanation and the others that follow it doesn't really mesh well with the rest of the chapter. This chapter brings out a lot of tension and questions (especially on what the temple guard is up to), so the explanations on kar-rek, which slows down the pacing, seems out of place.

    I'd suggest describing him visually can get the point across with a lot fewer words, which you already did, and explaining how a saurus/temple guard would think, but with a lot less words.
     
  14. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    Hmm. I did get kind of wordy there, didn't I? The entire state is covered in a blanket of smoke from the fires out west, so I'm kind of leaning heavily on my inhaler and nebulizer to keep breathing at the moment. Allergies aren't happy, and my asthma is... less so. Makes it hard to think sometimes, and I tend to babble when I get like this. What you are seeing is me babbling on paper (well, on the computer). I'll fix it. :D

    Okay, fix-ded.
     
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  15. Tk'ya'pyk
    Carnasaur

    Tk'ya'pyk Well-Known Member

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    It turned out the other guard also knew what to do. Before the two prone aelfs could recover their wits, Kil-Tloc took a single step forward, raised his own halberd high overhead, and brought the stone head down upon them both. A crunch, followed by a wet squelching sound, was all it took for both aelfs to lie still forever. Blood drizzled from the weapon's head as Kil-Tloc raised it back up, shaking it to dislodge a chunk of bone that had gotten stuck between the weapon's obsidian teeth.

    “We know our place, elder,” the alpha said in his blunt, no-nonsense tone. “What are your orders?” Behind the alpha, the two remaining aelfs formed ranks side-by-side in at attempt to hold back the angry Kil-Tloc. As the latter roared out his defiance, the spear-armed aelf broke ranks and tried to stab the saurus. The long, hooked blade of his spear raked along his scales, leaving a gouge and drawing a few beads of blood. Before the saurus could retaliate, the swords-aelf was there, weaving his blade in a pattern designed to befuddle the saurus.

    Kil-Tloc growled, took one step to the side as he shifted grip on his halberd. With the blade held out at waist-height, parallel to the ground, the saurus stepped forward and a little further to the side, swinging the halberd in a tight, powerful arc. While the spear-wielder managed to dodge, the swords-aelf was not so lucky. Foolishly attempting to parry the strike, he screamed as the blow shattered his wrist before the impact sent him flying through the air to hit a nearby wall hard enough to crack the mortar and shift stones out of position.

    Shouting obscenities, the remaining aelf turned and took off running. He made it all of a dozen steps before he stumbled, dropped his spear, and fell to his knees. Reaching up a hand, he felt for something on or near his neck, before collapsing to the cobblestones, unmoving. Pyk-nur slid another blowgun dart from a pouch, dipped it into something, and slid it into his blowgun for future use.

    “That is the last of them for now, Ambassador,” the scout muttered, “but the noise is going to draw unwanted attention. We should leave.”

    “Agreed.” Turning to the saurus alpha, Pah'tch nodded at him once. “I shall defer to your experience in this matter, alpha. Where is the safest place for us to be in this city?”

    “Our embassy,” Kar-Rek replied without hesitation.

    “I figured as much. However, we are but four, and it appears that the Blackscale Coil has an army roaming the streets. So my second question. Where is the closest concentration of other Seraphon in this city?”

    That made the tall reptile pause. “Hmm.” Idly scratching his chin, Kar-Rek turned and cast his gaze around the city, frowning in thought. “Warrior-Seraphon, or any Seraphon?” he finally asked.

    “Warriors, ideally, but in a pinch any will do.”

    “Saurus warriors have a barracks that way,” the alpha stated, using his halberd to point in a direction away from the Seraphon embassy, “near Northgate. Not too far away. Skink barrio is that way,” he added, gesturing towards the docks, “in the swampy land near the river. Many skink artisans there, but not sure it is safe for you there.”
     

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