Book One: Ordered by Gods
CHAPTER TWELVE:
Crossings
Berrona Eoselunday to Berrona Claireselunday

Arek patched up people as best he could, and gathered some of the dirt. We hoped that Zayda would remove the evil taint from our ailing comrades once again.

We reached Zayda with no difficulties, and Folha was there as well. While Zayda took care of those in need, I discovered from Folha that Gunther had returned with Keepers to investigate the Devourer. I asked her to let Gunther know not to stay in there overnight, among other tidbits of data that he could make use of.

We rested the rest of the day away, and I found out that Calibre had sustained some nasty damage to his internals. I also made some convo and he provided me with some hard-data to put some pieces of the puzzle together. I am starting to figure out what Ripplestick was up to... I think I can actually uncover the fundamental processes of Clockmakers! I have faith in myself that I can begin to undo the damage they have caused.

Excited with this insight, I made the mistake of asking Thalazzar to explain some magical theory to connect the final pieces. He looked down his nose at me for an answer (red stripe my gears indeed!)

We set out for the coast the next morning, and planned on stopping at Janarl's village. When we arrived on the outskirts Janarl mentioned that things did not appear proper.

The group cautiously approached the village, only to find that it appeared to have had some kind of calamity occur.

Janarl noticed kobold tracks. Naturally I got my trusty x-bow ready, and advised Calibre to keep his weapons handy.

We searched a few buildings, and finally came across a kobold scavenging party. I was all for shooting them up with my x-bow, but Thalazzar said he would negotiate with them. O-k.

Welp, Thalazzar tried to cast a spell while talking to one of their leaders, and they ended up attacking. Thinking ahead, I was already on a rooftop lining up my sights.

We got a little bloody, but the kobolds got put down. Janarl and I shot their magickers up, and I even lost my head yelling battle calls.

Nimbus ran into the largest group, which would be fine if he wasn't still half broken. He soon realized what kind of shape he was in when the pain began to overwhelm him. Thankfully he was still able to avoid a plant monster that decided to jaunt into Janarl's village for an easy feed.

When all the dust had settled, I came down from the rooftop. Apparently one kobold managed to surrender before being cut down by us. Thalazar claimed it as his servant (read: slave). Was not too keen on that, but what followed was even worse.

He started talking to it like he WAS a kobold. He even gave himself a kobold-type name. I am not familiar with kobold culture (except for what kills them), but even this was a tad freaky. I would have to hypothesize that he must have lived with kobolds at one point in his life to know so much. That would explain a lot.

However, as I was pondering this, the kobold scum woke up and started to ask Thalazzar when he could kill me. Thalazzar did not help matters by saying that they could "eat me later".

No, not impressed.

I asked Calibre in Naurie to keep watch on this little evil bastard of a kobold, and had to repeatedly remind myself that I was not a cold blooded killer. Not even for kobolds.

Janarl set off with Nimbus to see if he could discover what had happened to his villagers. The rest of us stayed in Janarl's village, and lucky Tiberio and me came down with jungle rot. Jungle rot is a disease that leaves hives over most of your body and makes you wish you could peel your skin off.

Yeah, I'll be missing this swamp a lot.

Janarl and Nimbus returned. Nimbus heard of our condition, and started bleeding all over the place again. I warned him away (I was contagious), but he seemed to literally absorb the disease out of me. Kinda weird, but I was thankful nonetheless. It was just too bad he fell down after doing it. I have to admit that his intentions are pretty selfless (even though his gears seemed mashed at times).

We gathered up supplies from the village, then set out on skiffs to make our way to a city called Cauldron. On our way there, the sailors told us the low-down on current events. Things with the Horde were getting very bad, but at least we helped by exposing that weapons cache.

Knowing that we were still wanted by certain groups, I wisely briefed Calibre on our cover story in how we would get into Cauldron, off to the side in Naurie.

Here is the rough schema I devised for the entry into Cauldron: We would be sister and brother, of the gnomish family Gearflange. This family is known for being travelling salvage prospectors. I would sign us in as "Sister" and "Brother" in Naurie Technojargon on the Cauldron's guest register (a common practice when you do not want the competition to be aware that you are around prospecting); I would tell the gate guard when asked that our purpose in visiting was to see family.

I would introduce Calibre and myself as "Suutha'Klank Gearflange" (Suu for short), and "Nantim Gearflange", a sister and brother team (among gnomes, it is a common practice to have clockworks considered as part of the family).

I prepared hooded ponchos (hood up) for us, and wore my snazzy engineering goggles. I also sewed false seams into Calibre's poncho in case he needed to get his maces out in a hurry.

I reassured the rest of the group that we would hook up with the rest at the inn later on.

* * *

We had a very easy time getting inside Cauldron. I guess the guards were used to seeing groups like myself, and hardly bothered to give us a look over.

Knowing I had limited time before hooking up with everyone else, I got out my to-do list and went shopping. Eventually it stared to get late, so Calibre and I returned to meet up at the inn.

We arrived and sat down for a meal, only to hear that Nimbus had a encounter with some kind of earth thingie Arek referred to as an "earth weird". Apparently Woden is unhappy with us and sent it to give us a death threat if we don't get across the border into the Monotheocratic Order soon. Yikes.

The day deteriorated from there. A bunch of loud mouths started to act up in the bar, and somehow they included me in their insults. Calibre stood up for me before I could ask him to walk me to my room (I prefer to avoid things like this), and soon we were out in the street.

It looked like it was going to be an all-out street brawl, when an airship decended. A Naurie accented voice (very familiar to me) called out for the brawl to disperse in the name of the Keepers. The loud mouths fled.

The group stood around, and lo and behold my very own uncle Sparks came down the rope ladder of his airship the Daisy Cutter.

I stood in there in shocked happiness while he gave me a big hug. Here all this time I was so homesick, home finally came and found me.

Uncle Sparks began to talk about Domaldi, but I was lost in the moment, content beyond belief. In this moment, I could stop thinking about the dreadful things awaiting us in the future. I was back with family.

Next!
Arek Reflects

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