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"Lost Continent: Flight From Muurdaan" (BeckonCall's FNB!)

Beckoncall

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THE CHALLENGE OF THE EARTH SERPENT:

The team was assembled... it consisted of:

Orm - Lightning enchanted quartz axe. Elite mithril/goldweave armour. Tattoos of strength and fortitude. Talisman of agility. Broken "Hand of glory" for temporary luck charm.

Deryn - winterborn druid. Talisman of agility. Broken "Hand of glory" for temporary luck charm.

Whippoorwill - Sabre ent. Talisman of agility. Broken "Hand of glory" for temporary luck charm.

Sinana Heavywalker - Tyren earth shaman of the first ring. Talisman of agility. Broken "Hand of glory" for temporary luck charm.

The Great Olm - Giant psychic olm of the menagerie. Talisman of agility. Broken "Hand of glory" for temporary luck charm.

Caelis with Bloodscourge, Astral Tear, Bone Tear, Gottendamarung, Hydra Coil Armor w/ vase, Torc of the Horned One and Amulet of Backlash,

Sphinx,

Beast Mage,

Talion the Constructor with Skull Scepter,

the Dark Kindly One

___________________________________________________________________________

The challenge was set. The great snake had uncoiled from around the throne of the now dead horned one... and met them, coiled high in a pile of itself between the rotting temples of the mud elves, now abandoned.

A massive storm raged overhead -- courtesy of the storm-forge, enabling the water-bound kindly one even to be comfortable in the torrential downpour. The Earth serpent glistened like molten diamond in the relentless rain... it addressed Caelis as if he spoke for the entire group... but it's eyes were locked on Orm.

"I suspected you would bring the Torc, Caelis -- it still has power over me -- but not enough to keep me from killing you. Tyren lord, I acknowledge you have both brought a war-host worthy of a contest. This shall be interesting. Shall we begin?"

The serpent's eyes flashed and immediately lunged forth to grasp Orm in it's mighty jaws.

Orms Armor was tested immediately and it was soon learned by both combatants that the Chieftain of the Tyren would not be crushed so easily.. the armor groaned around Orm, but it would not buckle -- Orm took this chance to spike open the mouth of the serpent with his massive enchanted axe -- lightning raging up and down it's length as the serpent injured itself, bled itself, trying to bend and break the supremely made weapon in it's jaws. In Agony, it quickly threw both weapon and Orm into the air behind it where the coils of the snake waited to engulf the Tyren warlord. Orm would catch his weapon in the air whilst the snake wound around him, as massive as it was solid he clamored airward so he would not be completely buried in the snakes embrace... and luck was on his side...

Even the death-hold of the earth serpent that would pulvermize most would not be so fast -- with endurance and fortitude, Orm stood against the writhing coils of the serpent, in the eye of a storm of scales with the great storm raging above him, he called down lightning in the storm to his weapon, striking the Serpent repeatedly from above.

Deryn Crossed her arms before her and make a constellation of hand gestures at violent speed. As she did, Whipporwhil was suddenly burst with natural power and vivid spring vibrance -- poison flowers and ivies dripped from every bough, his trunk the spontaneous home to hives of summoned poisonous insects... Whipporwhil lashed the serpent with his sharp talon-like branches, separating even some of the great armored scales of the serpent and unleashed upon them a torrent of poison and stinging insects that likewise clouded around the earth serpent's nose and mouth...

The Great Sphinx, leapt upon the arching tail of the serpent, which seemed intent on falling like a mace upon Caelis where he stood... like a cat toying with it's prey, the Sphinx brought the malicious tail to ground before it could start a reign of blows to the surrounding host and sought to hold it there.

The Great Olm wasted no time -- though blind, all of its senses were flooded with the enormity of the snake. It did it's coiling and enraveling of it's own along the great earth serpent's body, and a tug of war for breath between the two creatures commenced that filled the air with outrageous roaring and ragged breaths alike.

It was Talion the Constructor that struck next -- knowing the inside of the snake contained the skeletons of a herd of elephants, he animated the creature's skeletons and bound them to service -- to rage within the gut of the beast and gore it from the inside.

The serpent uncoiled as best it could in retaliation, it's wavy length dwarfing the assembled host as it looked like it was about to shoot forward bringing great power and energy into the ground below it.

Sinana then spoke "IT SEEKS TO REND THE GROUND WITH IT'S MOVING! STOP THE SNAKE, AND I WILL CONCENTRATE MY POWER ON PREVENTING HIM OPENING THE EARTH TO SWALLOW US!"

The beast mage Talion fell in behind her, and backed her spell, doing their best to confound the snake and have it's devastating bulk turn and bend upon itself rather than exert it's full force on the ground... still a quake raged with the movement of the snake and all struggled to keep their balance... Agility on the part of the team aided considerably in maintaining their ability to act under the circumstances.

Orm called down another great lightning bolt through his axe that struck the great serpent on the head. And struggling to free himself got to the outside of the snake and with brute force alone grabbed the neck of the serpent and began to choke it.

Caelis Unleashed his own storm of power, his eyes glowing an emberous pink as he reached his will out to bend the soul of the serpent to serve him, the serpent did it's best to avoid his gaze, and Orm, upon noticing this, did his best to turn the head of the serpent his way.

Whipporwhill lashed and lashed at the side of the snake until it began to bleed, and upon bleeding the wounds grew angry and red with his poisons and his swarms invaded the bleeding injuries.

The Dark Kindly one leaped upon the head of the serpent and rode the flailing thing with her great dislodged jaws, drawing more blow which washed over Orm and the Great Olm alike.

The Sphinx for a moment lost control of the creatures tail and the serpent snapped it into the face of the sphinx sending it sailing to the ground unconscious.... talion and sinana went running for cover as the snakes tail struck the ground again and again.. leaving craters where it struck.

Caelis was slowly approaching -- loosing his powers upon the snake as he advanced, the sword Gottendamarung held high in both his hands. The snake attempted to focus on where Caelis would strike, but that would mean confonting the power of Caelis' dominance power -- and it could not meet his gaze.

Orm was strangling the serpent now... his axe had fallen... somewhere in the coils of the snake which continued to call down lightning strikes upon it. Orm could hear the choking of the great snake even as it could almost be made out the stampede of undead within the creatures lengths, before being crushed again and reanimated once more, and again, by Talion.

With the force of heroes strinking upon and crawling over the great earth serpent like ants, the great olm made a reckless move that, with greatest fortune, turned the great earth serpent on it's back. The creature was near submission and orm climbed onto the understide of the great beasts head and began to rain blows with hoof and fist that kept the serpent dazed as Caelis moved finally within range to strike...

Gottendamarung was brought down upon the beasts throat -- Too close to avert it's gaze, Caelis' indomitable will rained it's own torrent into the eyes of the earth serpent. His every move demanded subservience of the beast. He laid the blade across the bared throat of the great serpent, held in place by the mighty orm and the entwisting ensnaing Olm.

Then taking one hand off of the great blade, he grabbed the bone tear of divinity and channelled it's power into the whole of the earth serpent's vertebrae... the power of the tear nearly stripped the serpent of consciousness.

Deryn called upon every vine and blade of grass to serve Orm in keeping the serpent pinned, which leaped from the ground and mummified, enrobed and enslaved the beast while Orms heaving and sweating bulk kept the jaws of the godling snake at bay...

"Submit" uttered Caelis, and upon the full force of the team of warriors as best they could, they held the creature at bay.

It relented. Orm could feel the will of the creature fail under his mighty sinews.

Shaken and spent, They had bested the earth serpent...
 

Beckoncall

World-Weaver and servant to the most-holy PC
Supporter
@Prince Vaethorion :

Highborn condemnation of the use of blood magic, especially by the attolians, stirred up minor unrest but caused little else. It was suspected blood magic was the new plague the dark elves had burdened the colony with -- but those that practiced were loath to stop considering the rewards -- in particular the seeming empowerment of Governor Caelis Wolf, the Undying.

Highborn assurance investment became a popular place to turn to to the risk averse. The Market was exceptionally active and with that people sought increased certainties. (Highborn gain +2 influence)

The highborn psionicist twins were ordered to observe the Cull and learn what they could -- They learned more about the nature of the hive mind -- that the Cull as a species, if without their queen, would revert to being wild undirected animals... it was only through the queen that the cull were thorough and methodical. Looking into the past of the Cull, it was seen as being exceptionally weak only centuries ago, but had been slowly but exponentially gaining in strength with every purge of the area -- every few years. It was speculated that if the cull was not stopped not, by the time it was ready to expand again there would be no stopping it by simple scale and power of the sphere. It was now or never.

________________________

The elven initiative to change railroad travel to be more comfortable for different species became very popular as well. Conversions increased adoption of the technology and cut down on pollution.

A special "War Train" with portal technology was created to deliver troops if desired into the heart of the cull sphere after the initial attack. The portal train could hold 50 troops and deliver them in a deep strike against the cull once all hell broke loose for them.

____________________________

Development of Highborn speed-caravels is slowed due to damage to the port and sea wall from unattributed freak waves -- but the project was expected to be completed by mid-fall.

____________________________

The colony bristled with guns these days, and the highborn forces were no exception -- Highborn troops modernized to carry rifles among the spearmen, braces of pistols among the elite swordmasters, and bowmen adopted explosive arrow ammunition.

____________________________

The design of a highborn "factory" facility was planned in the highborn controlled area of the Agora District. Whether this plan would bear fruit remained to be seen but progress would be reviewed at the end of fall.

_____________________________

The Highborn continue to study the vast bone fields in the hidden inlet area of the cliffs. Fossils of great monsters, At least two dragons, and all manner of apocalyptic creatures are being excavated by the finest elven paleontologist teams. Slowly the maze of fossils is starting to relate itself into the bones of at least 24 discrete individual creatures.

_______________________________

@Heyitsjiwon :

The highborn, teamed with the attolians, build two working prototypes of "Skeleton" tears -- that is, tears of divinity with no divine essence/being inside of them. Each faction holds one prototype for the present time until uses can be decided for them.
 

Beckoncall

World-Weaver and servant to the most-holy PC
Supporter
The plan was set... and put into fruition.


First the Highborn diplomacy sent near-musical pleas for the Cull to receive it's anticipated tribute. Every animal the Highborn could spare was used as an offering to literally GLUT the Cull, sending it from it's tenuous awareness back into it's deep and hibernetic torpor. The offering was accepted and portal technology was used to send the animals deep into the sphere... where they were melted in green rivers of digestive effluence.

It would not be known by the Cull that the animals were poisoned however. Hard but digestable casings inside the livestock were loaded with SKRAPE, a fennec poison concoction -- which while not powerful enough to actually kill the cull, having their entire food distribution system contaminated with it would have a mind-numbing effect at first, and when the cull finally realized it was in danger and their metabolisms sped up, it would cause agonizing pain.

In the depths of the Cull's slumber the finest dwarf and gnome crafted bombs were delivered through the vents in the top of the sphere -- borne by constructs of bone and artiface, these explosives were introduced to the rivers of digestive juices where they inevitably flowed throughout the Cull feeding system and concentrated first and foremost at it's center -- where the hivelord resided. These explosives, once placed throughout the hive-sphere, were hoped to do catastrophic damage once the "secret ingredient" was successfully introduced.

And Introduced it was -- the specially formulated Cull gas -- made largely of precious metals, was leached into the sphere through the vents at it's top. As the gas was heavy, it pooled in central spaces and even shallow depressions (like the feeding system) and slowly, too subtlely for the sleeping cull to realize -- made the carapaces of the world-ending horrors brittle and vulnerable.

When bits of gas began to fall from the base of the sphere, the colony knew the Cull holdfast had been saturated... and the Power of the spires reinforced by the near limitless potency of the stormforge -- encapsulated the cull in a forcefield around their sphere that was both strong as the barrier and as deadly as a thousand lightning blasts.

It was then that the explosive bombs, fused as they were -- began to detonate in perfect concert as they were designed to do.

Countless cull-beasts were slaughtered instantly -- their now-brittle carapaces shot through with enough ricocheting dime-sized shrapnel to make an almost musical noise for nearly twenty minutes inside the sphere.

Now aware of the colony's treachery, the severely wounded cull battered and smashed against their own shell-like prison and the coruscating lightning crawling energy sphere that lay beyond it.

Every bit of power from the storm forge burned thousands of broken flying and falling creatures to a crisp... onto the fortifications below where all free soldiery stood ready to slay whatever continued to move. The cull themselves breaking and shattering themselves as they threw their monsterous bulk around were no match for the forces poised to slay them... many a razor-sharp arm or talon merely broke off as it attempted to flex or swing at it's aggressor. The swarm got a taste of it's own medicine as colony troops and hundreds of gnolls overwhelmed their fallen and shattered bodies, shooting them as they fell and descending upon them where they lay...

The full ring of Tyren Shaman worked as one battling those of the cull that rose to fight again... it was said Bruul released every punch he ever chambered, and the wicked magic of Uumush, forgotten by all who saw it, would be haunted in dreams by it's potency.

The Highborn slew the Cull as if it were a dance, the prince racking up kills like no other. The cyclops and hierophants stomped the beasts into the soil, and every elf did their part.

The stouts were the first to fight and some said the last to leave the field -- with their firebeard allies they laid down impressive numbers of kills.

The fennec and their thralls went into a vicious frenzy -- the snakemen facing the fallen foes head-on with the more pragmatic fennec making certain that each and every one of the fallen was dead.

The Attolians brought forth a vertiable suite of death dealers -- their maiden slayers, their bannered furies, their swarming auxillary -- Caelis himself hewn each foe he crossed in half with his wicked blade, and all who stood before him were rebuked and declared no more.

The gnolls, lead by walks in cull exhorted in the slaughter of thousands of cull-beasts -- some prayed at the scene as it unfolded, others bayed and laughed as their tormentors were finally put to eternal rest...

Every part of the colony did it's part -- and through this unity the victory over the cull was made manifest. None would survive.

Finally, the shattered cull-sphere overwhelmed the barrier-shield that surrounded it when it broke into nearly a dozen pieces and rattled from the trunk of the great tree from which it had laid hinged for countless centuries, millennia maybe. The great tree itself was sheared clean of branches as the fragments fell, sending troops running for cover in the readied fortifications -- without which many a life would despite the glaring victory would have been lost.

Then the rain came... the center of the sphere, made entirely of treasure -- began to unravel. Tears of divinity, artifacts of all kinds, and an impossible amount of gold and jewels fell upon the fortifications and threatened to bury everyone alive. (Colony gains 1000 wealth!)

Then it finally fell -- the hivelord -- a gigantic purple insectoid monster that shattered like a clockwork toy at the base of the tree on the growing pile of it's historic wealth. Green nutrient goop seeped from every wound... and it spoke dirarhetically as it spewed it's own lifeblood from it's mouth, all it's glory now now more than a shattering crumpled heap -- terrifying wings akin to stained glass shattering with every move.

"...WAIT."

Was all it could say -- and then went silent.

When the tally was done from fighting and mostly burial from falling debris -- all involved factions lost %20 percent of their forces...

...But the Cull was no more.

And then -- like before with mother fisher -- THE DAGON APPEARED, climbing, several stories tall, from the cliffs of the ocean to collect the body of the Hivelord...

"WAIT." again stated the creature... at the approach of the Dagon.

And there the colony stood, or lay, if truth was to be told.

It seemed another choice need be made...
 

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them.... I destroy them.”

Stomach churning noises of crunching and cracking filled the air as the embattled Cull beasts fell upon the readied soldiers at the base of the great tree. Most were dead before they touched the ground as loud thunderous volleys roared in waves as the warriors fired their muskets and pistols. Others still continued to move despite their lifeblood, oozing out of the cracks of their tough chitin. Caelis led his men in a charge with the sanguine staff in one hang, glowing a deep crimson and the fiery great sword in the other. With fire and sword, no enemy of the colony would live to tell the story of how they saw what could not be explained other than a demon of war, sundering every cull beast that it saw into two with every flick of the wrist. This was not a battle against the Cull. It was extermination.

It was then that the barrier shattered and giant shards showered the area. The few cull beasts who had not been slain were skewered... as were some unfortunate souls who were not quick enough to find cover. Treasures and priceless artifacts then followed, but the greatest prize of all slammed into the dirt and gurgled a single word. "Wait". Caelis approached the Cull Queen with a firm grip on his sword, but as he looked around... he realized. They had not only won the battle. Nay, they had won the war. The Cull would not be able to threaten the Colony anymore. Was there a point in ending the life of the Queen as well? The last of its kind? It was then that he found himself in a familiar position. The Empire had ended the existence of many peoples and races in situations similar to the one that the Colony had faced. It was kill or be killed for the Empire and there was nothing to benefit from leaving any survivors alive. Nay, leaving even one survivor left the possibility of insurrection and rebellion. Thus, for the Empire, the solution was simple. End the war before it even started and eliminate the threat completely, win the war before the war starts. The Attolians always viewed such practices barbaric, but Caelis now understood that the Empire was... ruthless and efficient for good reason. Now the question was would Caelis be willing to follow the steps of the Empire as well? For the first time in battle, he was forced to pause.

Whatever his choice would be, he would not have time to think much longer. As alarmed calls rose from the warriors of the colony, the vulture-esque Dagon appeared on the battlefield, without a doubt to rob the Colony of its victory once more. Except, this time, the Colony was willing and ready to fight as Caelis saw the fire in the eyes of his brothers in arms. Most if not all, were willing to go to war with the Aboleth and his Underwater Kingdom. Caelis nodded, turned to face the Dagon and raised his staff. It began to pulse and beat like a heart as Caelis channeled his energy and power for a relatively large and complex spell. The staff glowed brighter and a crimson hue surrounded the area. Every single living being would hear what sounded like their own hearts, beating harder and louder than ever. Even the heavily injured would find themselves able to lift their weapons once more and away from the brink of death. All the exhaustion and pain from the battle with the Cull would vanish and everyone would feel refreshed. This spell would drain him of a portion of his power, but he had been prepared for worse. "Rally on me!" He would shout for his soldiers to reform their ranks. They could do little verses a behemoth other than fire a few volleys and skirmish. It would turn to the mages and the titans of the Colony to engage the Dagon. With that, Caelis turned to the Sphinx and the Earth Snake and nodded so that they would move forward with Caelis.

Caelis approached the Dagon with the Attolian titans and mages and from a distance he hailed the Dagon "Hail Dagon! Your arrival is late once more! The battle is done although your aid would have been appreciated. To what pleasure do we have to be visited by an emissary of the Aboleth?"
 
It was go time. Noises that no mortal should be forced to endure broke forth from the Tree. Grimdr had let the other factions deal with the execution of the first part of the plan after providing a share of the resources to help set it up as he needed to be here with his men on the ground. As the noises rose to a crescendo the beasts of the cull broke forth from their prison and so began the most important battle the colony had yet faced, a battle to fight an ancient evil that had ravaged the continents inhabitants for centuries. His men set about and charged in, screaming and shouting to gather the beasts attention, so that those outside could fire volleys onto the beasts as they focused on his men that had charged forth from the trench.

The moment was stretched for an eternity, an endless eternity of running for just a few steps that never seemed to end until it did. With a crash the beasts smashed with force against their shields as they scrambled over those already dead from the concoction of poisons, magics and explosives that began the conflict as yet more fell from above and thudded off their shields. With that the momentary eternity became an eternity wrapped up into a moment. The Dwarves worked with the other factions to slaughter their greatest fear. Many a Dwarf live was saved by another factions well placed shot or an allied soldier in the thick of it turning his attention to a struggling dwarf being overrun by the creatures and the Dwarves returned the kindness by saving many lives in return. Many words of support and the expected humour of the Dwarves filled the vocal overture of the battle as victory became increasingly apparent. Such cries as "Ay, lads! Im carvin' ya dinner 'ere!" or "Another Monsta? Fer' me? Ya' Shudne' av!" filled the air as Grimdr battled on, himself silent be heartened by his brothers and sisters cries as he dedicated all he could to saving as many lives as possible.

As the end rose over the horizon, Grimdr was stuck by a sudden and sweeping pain as his shield was ripped from his arm, taking his middle finger with it. He quickly felled the beast but not before it could slash at his arm, tearing through the furs and leathers that covered it and causing a notable amount of blood to well up. It was no matter though as the battle was won. Victory over the fear that had loomed over them since day one. His folks faces full of half smiles as they tried to maintain their Adrenalin fuelled emotions so that the sorrow for the fallen would be a matter for later. Then the Barrier shattered and Grimdr called for all forces to move back from the tree, likewise did many other leaders on the battlefield. "Back from the tree! Quickly Back! Get yer arses away before yer buried!"

It was then that the sections of the Cull Sphere rained down with a thunderous noise followed swiftly by a tinkling rain of treasure and then a final, dull thud. Followed by a single word. "Wait!" It was then that he knew victory had been won and was about to consider the wounds he had received when the Dagon reared over the horizon. "Aye, wait for spoils with none of the risk ya' bastard!" Muttered Grimdr before raising his Axe and following Cealis' lead. He looked at his men, having fought a battle and saw them steel themselves. They were about ready to mourn the lost but then that moment was taken from them as a new rage burned fresh in their eyes. Their kin, their friends, their allies, died for this prize. They suffered and prepared meticulously for weeks, nay months. They earned this at a cost to great to define and would not let this slacker take it from their grasp but most of all. Most of all, they wanted an excuse to replace their sorrow for rage and rage needed a target. Most of all they needed to keep on going. Most of all they needed to make the fallen's lives worth it.

Grimdr strode forth, approaching Caelis. "We're with ye' Tell me what ye' need an' i'll dee what I ken for you, brother." he said offering his forearm as a gesture of friendship.
 

Beckoncall

World-Weaver and servant to the most-holy PC
Supporter
With a wave of his hand, Caelis ROSE THE DEAD of all the factions in an incredible storm of blood and light magic. (casualties of all factions reduced to zero)

He felt parts of his body and his spirit both shatter and re-knit themselves. He was less human again, more something else -- the world seemed slightly smaller, more distant, he could see with his eyes closed. He locked arm with Firebeard Lord Grimdr who rallied his forces in support of the Attolians to confront the Dagon. His teeth clenched holding back runoff power from his hands, he re-seized his mortality and addressed the Dagon directly --

"Hail Dagon! Your arrival is late once more! The battle is done although your aid would have been appreciated. To what pleasure do we have to be visited by an emissary of the Aboleth?"

The giant thing hunched it's back and a giant frill, as large as a galleon's sail, erected itself on the dagon's slippery back. It's long bluish sinewy limbs gave it the gait and stance of a gorilla with webbed ended appendages. It halted it's entitled advance on the corpse of the Hivelord and Sat with a palpable "thud" on the ground. It sported a mouth of teeth like an angler fish with a giant angler horn rising above it's head that throbbed in a eerie bluish hue. A giant pouch swelled up in it's throat and it emanated a disturbing mating-like call as Caelis' words seemed to sink into the creature.

From it's gills slithered tiny tentacled creatures -- Gibboleths -- the kinds of creatures that lived in the slime-form of the colony's own Anais... the gibboleth squirmed over the creatures eyes, nose and mouth and seemed to whine in concert in one voice:

"This creature -- the Cull Lord -- it's soul is dangerous. The Aboleth must have it. The Aboleth will have it. All this treasure is yours by right of battle -- so are the tears of divinity that lay strewn about -- though Aboleth would normally claim those souls as well. But Hivelord is due for collection by Aboleth... Long before your fledgling colony infected the cliffs above it's home. Consider the Dagon taking it a show of your goodwill as a well tolerated neighbor. You have taken one soul -- Anais T'leth Aboleth as one of your own so if you must see it as a debt, your colony owes it a soul in exchange. Aboleth wants this soul. Give it."
 

A deafening silence befell the ship as Lothar sat on the edge of his cabin bed. He stared at the candle clock and watched as the pearly white tears rolled down the surface of the waxy time keeper. It was time for the battle, and yet. Here he was with such anticipation and angst. For once, rather than riding towards battle, Lothar faced the conflict that happens within. The conflict of wives whose identities have split for they are both wives and widows at the same time until they see their loved ones come back with their shields or on them. It was sheer agony and pain. Having no ability or power to affect the situation, it left everyone feel powerless. Yet, orders were orders, and Lothar knew that Caelis would not be able to focus on the battle with the Cull while he was around. Thus, he took on this burden of leaving the colony at this time of crisis.

However, if the colony were to survive, then Lothar's job would be important as well. Playing the contorted politics of the Empire was... an unavoidable challenge. One that would affect the future of the colony as a whole, assuming that it wasn't wiped off the surface of the world. Thus, Lothar clenched upon his hope for otherwise, all that he had done and will do will be for naught. He got up from his bed and walked up to the upper deck to the sound of cheering and excitement. A thin, grey, snaky shadow could be seen far in the distance. "Land Ho!" the boatswain yelled from the crow's nest. Regardless of one's identity, time was relentless and tomorrow would arrive. For this lone reason, Lothar continued to walk forward.

A large chest sat on the deck, ready to be taken off board and escorted with Lothar to the Underlords. Reports, taxes, and gifts to grease the ironclad hands of the Underlords, all sat in the chest as Caelis had meticulously prepared them all to be sent back. On top of the chest was another smaller box, supposed gift by Fendarvin to the Attolians. What that snake could ever want to give the Attolians was a mystery, and without a doubt... this gift would not be "free". Letting curiosity get the best of him, Lothar approached the box and lifted the lid. He ceased breathing for a second.

---

Caelis looked to the rest of the Colony members as the Dagon insisted on obtaining the Cull Hive Queen. He could tell that the colony was thinking largely the same as he was. Perhaps, it was the ecstasy of having defeated the Cull, inflating their confidence and ego. However, even looking at the situation in a practical matter, bowing before the will of the Aboleth once again was... unwise. He replied "While we appreciate the Aboleth's... generosity and hospitality, I believe my fellow Colonial Leaders have something to say about the matter." Caelis then walked back to his men to allow the rest of the Colony to speak and draw the Dagon's attention. He, in the meantime, would rally his men and get them ready for battle once more as their formations had to be reformed in the chaotic mess that the battlefield presented. In particular, he had to make sure that the colony's cannons and the giant ballistas were ready to fire and well supplied. This giant could only be annoyed by arrows and spears for they would be little more than splinters to it. Nay, they had to rely on magic, their own titans, and their deadliest weapons.
 

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