Torix and Constantine

The Van Rijn Legacy Revisited
We'll be back.
View
One Way Trip
We're all going to Hell. The only question is who is going first.
View
Calm Before the Storm
Don't worry. We were already planning on it.
View
When in Eisenreich
Spit on a statue of yourself. But not on your brother's carpet.
View
Red Metal
We may be bad at counting, but you, sir, are terrible at thinking.
View
What's Yours is Mine
You have a friend in us. In fact, three friends.

In the Red Cafe, Boss Misha leavesthe conversation with Boss Kramer begins.

Kramer: I believe you gentlemen wanted to say something to me?

Constantine and Mara: Um… Let's go back to your place.

CvR: Yea let's go back to your place, we're talking about some sensitive stuff-

MvR: And we wouldn't want the rabble to um… overhear

Torix: Seriously though…

CvR: This information is pretty, um… deep. And uh… Bernard…

All: Peace be upon his name…

BK: So you want to go to my quarters?

TvR, CvR and MvR: Yes!

BK: Then let's adjourn to my quarters.

T, C and M: Aiight.

The group walks along several catwalks and takes an elevator service to get to floor 37, where the upper lobby of The Mountain Suite is located. Boss Kramer has rented out one of their better rooms, with multiple beautiful marble-floored bathrooms, a huge plush bed, and ornate furniture. The meeting resumes there.

BK: Alright, so, boys, whaddyou have to tell me?

TvR: Well first off, Kramer, this is an amazing room. Much nicer than my place in Kallipolis…

CvR: What, with Shelby?

TvR: Yes, Shelby lives there with me and it's just… no… anyways…

CvR: It appears to us that the workforce you had before, these "underlings" are being phased out it favor of human workers correct?

BK: Yes?

TvR: We established that…

CvR: Well it seems a little suspicious doesn't it?

TvR: Moreover, why?

BK: I believe a rationale was given.

CvR: But isn't it odd that you now have a workforce that isn't necessarily under your control? Violet could stop the entire Dwarven industrial machine with snap of his fingers.

BK: Yes, I am aware of this.

MvR: Don't you want to do something about it?

BK: Well, I was hoping you three would uh, talk to the Union leader.

TvR: I suppose we could get around to that.

CvR: We have a contact, yes…

 Kramer lays out that he would like for the Arbiters to indetify the leader of the Union and convince him to reveal himself to the Board. That way, the Union and the Board can present a united dwarven front to Kaiset Violet and the rest of Fortuna. "Fritz" asks if an accompanying purge of Violet sympathizers would be in order, but Kramer thinks that would not be necessary. 

MvR: Even Yelsin? This crazy doctor we talked to said he's in Violet's pocket.

BK: Which doctor?

MvR: Doktor Pavlov.

BK: Oh, I've met that guy.

MvR: Ah well… um…

At least ten seconds of awkward silence follow, then Kramer speaks.

BK: Well, spit it out!

Constantine says they ought to just go visit the Union leadership then, whoever that is. Torix then asks how Violet came to be trusted by the dwarves. Kramer responds.

BK: Well, how did Violet get me into a position of power.

TvR: I don't know.

BK: Exactly. I don't know either.

All laugh, but are nervous at the same time.

They establish that the members of the Board have been profitting from the turn of events. Mara speculates that the dwarves might attempt betrayal first, but it appears Violet has the upper hand by a longshot. Constantine again says they should go talk to the Union leader. Torix, as Sebastian, thanks Kramer for his help and commends his position and level-headedness. Kramer says it's nothing, just that his position is precarious and he can't afford to be any bit anti-dwarf at all.

 BK: Youuuu thiree! You three! I want you three to find the Union leader and get him to expose himself to the Board of Osk so we may unite as a nation! Do you understand?

Trio: Yes, we will be on our way. May the grace of Bernard, Peace be upon his name, watch over you. See you at the meeting tomorrow.

 They decide that the next thing to do is find Victor Krushchev, as he would probably know about the Red Dwarf. As usual, he finds them first, this time on floor Minus 5. They run into him next to a peculiarly colored fountain, which smells like rust and chocolate.

 

View
Arbiters of the Board
City guard. Stand down.

Torix, Constantine, and Mara could all tell that Krushchev was a wealth of information. They asked him about a group they'd heard about called The Union. From his description is sounded a lot like the Book Club. Since the real goal for their being there was meeting with the Board of Osk, they asked him about it. He gave them the general idea: it was a council of all the bosses that was held at shifting locations within Osk. He said that he might be able to find it for them, then pointed at the vial he had given them. He wanted to make sure they were trustworthy before telling them.;

 

Mara and TnC went back to find their crew and give them an update. There was no reason for the crew to follow along, so they told them to just hang out around the city. The trio went into the tunnel system and started poking around the negative thirteenth floor. There were lots of dwarves wearing heavy protective gear, and there was a powerful smell of ammonia. Constantine asked for directions to the doktor, and the dwarf he asked told him to follow his nose. Doing so, they eventually ran into a large metal airlock inside of a cave. At this point the smell of chemicals was overwhelming. Torix knocked on the airlock, and a voice called back to them in dwarvish. Constantine asked to be allowed inside to speak with the doktor. A few seconds of shuffling and the airlock opened.

 

A nauseating wave of ammonia blew out from the airlock and made Constantine gag. Mara took over and tried to figure out which one of the doktors they had just found. It turned out to be Molotov, so they made sure to say nothing about their cargo. Molotov asked them to have a seat, and he offered them some gas masks. They gladly accepted. Constantine and Mara engaged Molotov in small talk, and Torix noted that the shelves were full of vials identical to the one that Krushchev had given them. That was explanation enough as to why Krushchev didn't want the cargo to get to doktor Molotov. The doktor had a large chemical vat off to one side with some kind of creature in it. Half way through their chat, he excused himself and took a vial off of the shelf and poured it into the vat. The creature writhed around for a while then appeared to die. Molotov told them it had invaded his lab a few days ago and made itself at home in his vat.

 

After that awkward moment they decided to leave, and the doktor said nothing of it. They left and asked for directions again, this time specifying doktor Cerenkov. A dwarf told them to take a mine cart operated by a dwarf named Yuri and gave them directions as to which tunnels to take. There were some interesting sights along the way, most memorable was a lava creek that flowed beneath their car at one point. Eventually the car came to a halt, and they got out. Unfortunately, it left them on a ledge. They could see the door to doktor Cerenkov's lab, but there was no obvious way to get to it besides a nice climb. They managed it and opened the door. They walked through a hallway with weapons and pieces of armor hung on the sides, then entered the actual lab.

 

Five dwarf guards appeared and stopped their advance.

 

Leader: Stop! What is your business here?

 

Constantine: We are here to make a delivery to doktor Cerenkov.

 

Leader: Doktor?

 

Cerenkov: What?

 

Leader: There are some humans here who say they have something for you.

 

Cerenkov looks up from his work at Mara and TnC. He gives them a blank stare.

 

Cerenkov: I don't know them. Kill them.

 

Leader: Are you sure doktor?

 

Cerenkov looks like he's thinking about it.

 

Cerenkov: Yes.

 

He goes back to work.

 

The guards hoist their weapons and engage. The van Rijns shrugged, and, having not gotten to kill in a while, welcome the action on some level. The guards prove to be a bit of a challenge, since Sergei, ther leader is wielding some kind of metal torch against them. Ultimately, however, the brothers cut him down as Mara does her best impression of a meat grinder. One of the guards passes out in the carnage and another attempts to run. Cerenkov kills the runner with a booby trapped cannon. Mara has some crazy anti-dwarf flashback rage thing, and slaps the unconcious dwarf awake just so she can see his eyes as she kills him. Her brothers are a bit alarmed to see their sister being so ruthless, but they  are interrupted by the clapping and laughing Doktor Cerenkov.

"Brilliant show!" he says. Clearly, Cenrenkov is insane. Nonetheless, they show him the flask, and he takes it and thanks them. He asks if there's any way he could be of service, as he very much enjoyed the added entertainment. Clearly, he say, they are very good fighters, whatever their job supposedly is, and perhaps he could clean the soot and blood off of their nice clothes. They say that would be nice, but if they could get some nicer weapons they'd be even happier.

Cerenkov then takes them on a brief tour of his lab, and they see also sorts of confusing contraptions, weapons, etc. He first takes them to a strange chamber with tubes connecting to it and invites one of them to step inside. The brothers volunteer Mara, and though she is apprehensive she goes in. When she emerges he clothes are clean and repaired, so the bro's follow suit.

After that Cerenkov takes them to an arsenal room and asks them to leave their weapons behind. He asks them to take a metal pipe to Doktor Pavlov, and upon return he will have better weapons for them to take. They oblige.

 

They get back onto their tunnel cart and head over to doktor Pavlov. They begin to notice that the tracks are starting to angle up the wall. The three have to hold on to the cart so that they don't fall out. They reach a dead stop over a pit. At this time the cart is completely upside down. They hang awkwardly over the pit for a few seconds, then decide to drop. They land on a spring pad that breaks their fall. A dwarf laughs and says thirty seconds. He picks up a grease pen and adds another point on a histogram. They give him the metal pipe and he presses a button and a scroll comes out. Pavlov reads it, and nods. Mara asks him what it is, and he dismisses it as unimportant. He hands them each a metal ball that he says they must hold while he shows them different images.

 

First he shows them a slide of the flag of Hommeland. They tense slightly, and Pavlov notes it. He then shows a picture of the butchers. They intentionally squeeze hard. Pavlov gives a "huh", and notes that too. Next he shows a picture of Vincent Violet. Constantine squeezes the hardest. There is a pause, then the projection screen falls down and there is an underling with half of his skull missing.

 

All three of them drop the balls and Torix reaches for his longsword. Pavlov pretends nothing is wrong, and tells them that there are more test to run. They go reluctantly. They are taken into a room with a table, four chairs, and a device with buttons and wires on it.

 

Pavlov: So. Here is the test. I will ask you the queztion, and you will tell me answer. If you do not, I press this button.

 

Mara: And…?

 

Pavlov: I have underlink who is restrained in chair behind that door. Each one of these buttons corresponds to one of underlink's fingers. It will be removed when I press button.

 

Torix: Don't you think that that's a little ridiculous? What kind of questions are you even going to ask us?

 

Pavlov: It is simple trivia.

 

Constantine: Pavlov, I find it ironic that you, the psychologist, are insane.

 

Pavlov: Yes. So do I. Shall we proceed?

 

Pavlov asks them some questions about Osk and it's history. When they get an answer wrong, he presses a button and they hear someone scream in pain. Once the "test" concludes, Pavlov offers them information on whatever they might require. First they ask about the state of Fortuna, to keep up appearances. He explains to them that Dverzistan was not always a rulership of the dwarves. However, after Boss Oskar Borodin took power, several changes were made with regards to the underlings, specifically, their enslavement. At the time of this event the rulers of the other two empires were Lance van Bismarck of Hommeland, and King Fidel Cassio. He suspected some kind of conspiracy, but could not find any proof of said conspiracy. Satisfied, they asked him about the bosses.

 

Though he had a file on all forty of the bosses, Pavlov decided to tell the three ambassadors about the big five: Yeltsin, Oleg, Zaitsev, Misha, and Kramer. They were very surprised to hear Kramer's name in the big five. Pavlov talked first about Yeltsin. Yeltsin had monopolized security and body-guarding and operated out of Osk. He was very supportive of Kaiser Violet's actions toward Dverzistan. Boss Oleg controlled shipping through Dverzistan, and operated out of Kalashnigrad. Boss Oleg was suspected to be anit-Kaiser, but again, it was only suspicion. He and Boss Zaitsev were at odds over each other's monopolies. Zaitsev had monopolized the prison system, which also included forced labor. Zaitsev was neutral on the Kaiser's involvement in Dverzistan. Boss Misha had not changed from his previous area of business, which was essentially everything. However, it was officially a mining operation. He was at odds with Boss Zaitsev because of his dependence on manual laborers.

 

Boss Kramer was an interesting story. He was very new to the scene, but had taken Dverzistani sovereignty to heart. He was in the opium business, and had recovered from an addiction himself. Boss Misha was constantly at odds with him. Being concerned with Dvezistani sovereignty, Kramer did not like the Kaiser's involvement in Dverzistan.

 

This abundance of information was satisfying to the ambassadors. They thanked Pavlov and left for Cerenkov's lab.

 

Doktor Cerenkov had told Torix, Constantine, and Mara about a secret entrance into his lab, so they decided to try it out. They head up to the tenth level and locate the bear statue that Cerenkov had told them about. They pulled on it's arm and a hatch popped open. They quickly jumped down it, and after a long fall, they landed in the lab. The doktor had finished working on their things and he presented them. It was unquestionably of higher quality.

 

Torix, Constantine, and Mara start asking around to find out where their crew is. They eventually locate them and start their search for Viktor Krushchev. As usual, he finds them first. They tell him that Doktor Cerenkov received the vial and that they got some helpful hints from Doktor Pavlov about the bosses. Krushchev is pleased to hear that the delivery was successful. They had previously asked him about the location of the Board of Osk, and he tells them. It is being held in Boss Ivanovich's warehouse. They wait around until it is appropriate to appear at the meeting.

 

The entourage of ten walk up to the warehouse, and the door is closed. Constantine knocks. A dwarf dressed in nice red clothes opens the door and they introduce themselves. He says that they were expected, and he lets them inside. The entirety of the board of Osk looks at them as they enter. About forty dwarves and two humans, one of whom is Cassius Kramer. The one who let them in introduces himself as Leon Lebedev. Lebedev tells the rest of the board that these are visitors from another nation and that they are here on a mission of peace. Torix, Constantine, and Mara take the floor, and the crew stands off to the wall.

 

They give the rehearsed story about Kallipolis along with an offer of peace to all of Dverzistan. There were a few questions from the big bosses, but nothing they couldn't handle. The unknown human ambssador raises his hand.

 

Human ambassador: Ambassador Arlington Bevington, Hommeland. Seeing as how you have extended this hand of peace to the dwarves, might I also assume that this invitation applies to us humans as well?

 

Constantine: It most certainly does.

 

Torix: However, we would prefer to make the offer in person to your head of state.

 

Lebedev: Are there any other questions for the ambassadors? No? Very well. Ambassadors, as moderator I invite you to stay for the rest of the meetink as observers.

 

Torix: We would be honored.

 

The meeting continues. Bevington appears to be controlling the agenda for the board and Torix can tell that the bosses don't like it. Bevington tells them of the formation of The Republic of The Rainy Desert. Vincent Violet has already acknowledged it diplomatically, and now the board of Osk will vote to do so. At this point Kramer speaks up.

 

Kramer: I find it interesting Mr. Bevington that you come to us to acknowledge this Republic. Why does Violet ask for our approval?

 

Bevington: As allies, Hommeland and Osk should seek to act in accordance with each other in all matters.

 

Kramer: Is that so? Then why does Violet send us things for our approval as if the decision has already been made? Furthermore, why does he send these requests through you? Why does he not come here himself?

 

Bevington: If you recall Kramer, Kaiser Violet was here at the last meeting to make his requests in person. He is a busy, and his schedule does not revolve around the Board of Osk

 

Misha: Kramer, let it go.

 

Kramer: I don't answer to you Misha. I'm speaking for the good of the Dverzistan, and you question me?

 

Misha: Kramer what is wrong with you? You've changed.

 

Kramer: What has changed is that I recognize that Violet has no respect for our proud nation.

 

Torix: If I may. I don't fully understand the context of that statement, but I understand that Violet is not being an equal partner in this alliance. Is this correct?

 

This got a lot of the bosses talking. Bevington tried to defend himself, but Kramer shut him down definitively. A motion is discussed to remove Arlington Bevington and send him with a letter detailing how the Board of Osk wants to be a more partner in the alliance. Given the gravity of the vote, Boss Misha suggests that they secure the vote of Boss Krasniy, who is currently in Volgostol controlling the Underlings. No votes will be taken before Krasniy's vote is presented to the board with his signature on it. It is agreed. They then vote to diplomatically acknowledge the Republic of the Rainy Desert. The next issue that they discuss is the situation with the Underlings. For the most part the bosses want to keep them in Volgostol, where they have set up a vast Underling ghetto. They have a debate on what they should do with them, seeing as how they will be difficult to control over an extended period of time. Bevington asks Torix, Constantine, and Mara what they think. They say that Bernard would not approve of the treatment that the Underlings are receiving, therefore they will not comment on a better solution besides freedom.

 

By this time a few people have caught on to the "peace be upon his name" whenever one of them says Bernard. The three Kallipolisians are well-like enough at this point because of their consistent "helpful" input.

 

Lebedev: Very well, that is the end of our agenda. There is now the question of securing the vote of boss Krasniy in Volgostol.

 

Yeltsin: Why don't you have them do it? (he points at Torix, Constantine, and Mara)

 

There are looks of approval from all around.

 

Lebedev: Well ambassadors, would you be willink to do this for the Board of Osk.

 

Mara: Yes we would.

 

Lebedev: Very good. In order to give you the proper authority, we will need to give you a title.

 

Oleg: How about the arbiters of profit.

 

Zaitsev: No that is not good enough, how about the arbiters of progress.

 

Torix: Why not just arbiters of the board?

 

Misha: Yes, that is better. Arbiters of the Board.

 

Lebedev: So it is. Arbiters of the Board, your mission is to travel to Volgostol and secure Boss Krasniy's vote on the issue of Mr.Bevinkton and our alliance with Hommeland.

 

The meeting concludes. They notice Kramer getting up, and they decide to talk to him before he leaves. They tell him that they had common interests with respect to the sovereignty of Dverzistan. He offered to take them back to his place to have a more in-depth conversation on his views. They accept. Before they go, he wants to go the red cafe to talk to Boss Misha. He looks like he wants to kill him, so they remember their place as arbiters.

 

They arrive at the cafe and walk over to Misha. His wolf Arcangelo growls at Torix and Constantine. Kramer gets right down to business, and starts ragging on Misha about how he needs to be respectful to his betters. A back and forth negotiation ensues, with Misha attempting to assuage Kramer and prevent him from getting violent then and there. At one point, it seems they have a deal: Misha will stop disrespecting Kramer, and Kramer will give him some opium plants for decoration.

Constantines memories well up at this point however. "Don't you think," he says, "that it seems odd that he wants [i]plants[/i] and not [i]processed opium[/i]? Perhaps you should reevaluate this one Kramer."

Kramer realizes Misha's sleezinees and almost attacks him right there, but the new "Arbiters" calm him down. Ultimately it is decided that Misha must respect Kramer, but Kramer must agree to not threaten Misha violently. The agreement is settles without incident, and Misha nods to the Arbiters in approval as he and his wolf exit the Red Cafe.

View
The Scion of Bernard
Peace be upon his name.

As the Chasing Oblivion sailed down the East Stromm, Torix decided it was time to have a little chat with Crow's Nest Moe. After climbing into the crow's nest, Torix told him how they had met elf triplets by the names of Farid, Wahid and Khalid, who claimed to have sailed with Prospero, along with other up-and-coming Westhaven pirates including Black Henry (although he was just Crazy Henry at the time) and Mad Seamus.

Unfortunately, it turned out Crow's Nest Moe was not one of the pirates in this group, and had never heard of Prospero van Rijn. If the siblings wanted more information on their father's history as a pirate, they'd have to wait till they ran into Mad Seamus again. Torix then asked if Crow's Nest Moe, having grown up in Westhaven, ever knew a child named Vincent Violet. Torix was sure to mention the fact that Violet had some advanced skills with knives.

Although Crow's Nest didn't remember ever hearing the name, he did remember meeting someone who fit the description. The memory was a rather bitter one, as it turned out, seeing as the kid snuck onto their ship to assassinate Captain Black John and took out multiple crew members, and Moe's left eye, in the process. Torix now knew that when the time finally came to face Kaiser Violet, it would not be easy. Also, Crow's Nest Moe's enthusiasm for their mission had increased twofold. Torix returned to the deck, where Mara and Meursault were having a rather one-sided conversation. The brothers wanted to find out more about the crew's adventures during their absence, and Mara wanted a break from Meursault, so they decided to go below deck and chat with Mueller. Unfortunately for Mara, Meursault joined them. Mueller told them of their escapades, but it wasn't anything the brothers didn't already know. Mueller was more interested in what TnC had to say, and after the usual comments regarding elven women had been exchanged, the conversation turned to the number of people the siblings had killed.

They estimated the number to be roughly 220 humans, though they also killed several desert elf bandits. Something about the talk of butchering reminded the siblings of their long-term goals. They knew what they wanted to achieve in Dverrzistan, but pure, unrestrained violence did not feel like the proper strategy, especially with the opportunity presented by the fact that Sly Eddy and Brutal Mark were now masquerading as the Butchers. Meursault proposed that now was the time to switch tactics, and use the existence of the Savage Lands to their advantage.

The siblings greatly approved of the idea, and Mara even felt that perhaps she had been acting more coldly to Meursault than he deserved; this was quickly proved false when Meursault threw her a suggestive wink. Within the next hour, a plan rapidly unfolded. The siblings would play the roles of ambassadors from the fictional city of Kallipolis, which had established a powerful empire in the Savage Lands under the rule of a demigod known only as Bernard. Together, the siblings brainstormed several customs for this constructed society, the most important being the addition of "peace be upon his name" after every mention of His Excellency Bernard. With their new outfits finally done, the illusion was complete, and just in time— up on deck, the rising smoke of Zaitsag could be seen in the distance. Mueller and Crow's Nest stayed on the ship while Torix, Constantine, Mara, Meursault, and Fletcher, now known as Sebastian, Fritz, Milo, Jerome, and Ernest, walked to the city of Zaitsag.

They found the supposed residence of the city's Boss easily enough, but it was completely fenced in. Two humans guarded the entrance. Mara, acting as leader of the Kallipolisian expedition, approached the guards and introduced themselves as emissaries of the Great Port City of Kallipolis, sent by Bernard, peace be upon his name, who now possessed an extremely long title. There was much skepticism at first, but apparently the siblings were naturals at playing foreign diplomats, and had soon gained access to Boss Zaitsev's compound.

 They met two belligerent human guards, Sergeant Hansson and Corporal Francis. The trio confused and guilt tripped the soldiers, using their fake history. When they were done, the sergeant agreed to speak with his commanding officer, Officer Rand, and leave them with the Corporal.

Francis: So…what's it like in Kallipolis?

 

Constantine: In the great port city, all is as it should be. There is no crime, there is no poverty, everyone and everything flourishes in the light of his Excellence, Bernard.

 

A cascade of "peace be upon his name" followed.

 

Francis: Sounds a lot like Eisenreich.

 

Mara: You flatter yourself, soldier. We know all about Eisenreich, and it is nothing compared to Kallipolis.

 

Franics: If you say so.

 

Torix: We do say so. The light of Bernard – peace be upon his name – will wash over this continent and reform it in a way that none of your leaders could possibly imagine.

 

Corporal Francis looked really weirded out, so he stopped talking.

 

They could see Sergeant Hansson coming over to them, so they started to close the distance. He told them that he would take them up to the office, where they would meet with underboss Minsk. Mara and TnC pretended to be insulted by having to meet with a political lesser, but went along anyways. The officer left them at the door to the office because no humans were allowed inside. Mr. Tchaikovsky met them at the door and escorted them to the underboss. The underboss was smoking what smelled like opium. They had to reiterate the story of Bernard and the Kallipolisian empire to him.

Underboss Minsk, in his thick south Dverrzish accent, explained that was little they could do diplomatically in the colony of Zaitsag, and that if they wanted to get anything done they would have to go to Osk. They said time was of the essence, so he offered them transportation at a price: he would arrange a steam wagon for them if they took a few especially belligerent prisoners off his hands.

When they said they'd be happy to take some prisoners, Minsk paused for a moment. He tried to explain just how bad these guys were. Little did he know that those were just the kind of people the van Rijns were looking for. The Underboss told Mr. Tchaikovsky to tell Officer Rand to gather up the five worst prisoners he could find, all in Dwarven of course. Constantine and Mara didn't let on that they knew was was being said. The Underboss then dismissed them.

As they exited the building, Officer Rand was just finishing up the round up. The trio approached it. Before them stood four men and a dwarf, some of whom had familiar faces. Hadrian Redding, the crazy man from the forest, and Arnie Hoffman, the merchant in Westhaven to whom Torix had sold swords, were both there. Rand introduced the other two men as Puggy van Bastian and Ichabod Sykes, and the dwarf as Liev Bronstein.

Ichabod was a gaunt, sociopathic looking man. He looked like a serial killer, and as it turned out, he was in Zaitsag for multiple murders of women and children.

Puggy was a large man, built like a lifter. He had a round stomach, but looked incredibly dense. He had five o' clock shadow and long, brown, dirty hair. Rand explained that he had gone awol after being posted in Dverzzistan with the human military and had been kiliing guards and other inmates.

Liev, the dwarf. had a shaven head and an angry face. He could have been an underling if it weren't for his strong build and deep jaw; his beard was little more than stubble, much like Puggy's. He had been an underling sympathizer and had shaved his beard repeated to live among them, earning him much disrespect and finally a sentence to the work camp. However, he proved difficult to contain as he killed one of his would be executioners by reaching down his esophagus and tearing out the lining of his stomach. He had the acid burns on his right hand to prove it.

Arnie was here for large scale fraud in West Hommeland. Hadrian was in Zaitsag with little to no explanation – the Kaiser had simply asked that he be placed there.

After reviewing the five inmates briefly, the trio asked to have a few moments to deliberate in private. Officer Rand granted their request. They decided that it would be best for each of them to choose one to look after and train.  Torix wanted Puggy, a military man he could relate to. He might also have useful knowledge. Mara wanted Liev because she thought he would be useful to leave behind as permanent resistance. Constantine decided that Arnie Hoffman, with his financial skills, would be an appropriate way to round out their selection of "recruits."

They returned to Officer Rand with their decisions. Mara went over to Liev and was careful not to get too close. She looked him in the eye and told him that he was worthy of Bernard's blessings. He spat at her feet. Constantine walked over and nodded to Hoffman, who leaned back on his heels and pulled his collar forward in satisfaction. Torix walked parallel to the remaining three and drew his longsword. He looked right at Puggy and pointed the sword at him. Torix them flipped the sword so that the handle faced Puggy's chest. He nudged him with it. As Torix was putting the sword back, Puggy headbutted him. The deserter said that he wasn't afraid of any pansy men like Torix (or Sebastian in this case). Torix laughed genuinely at the irony.

The three diplomats asked to have a word with the rest of their crew before heading off to Osk. Rand let them go.

Torix: Okay, first things first. We're not ambassadors.

Mara: At least not ambassadors of peace.

Constantine: We're agents for Kallipolis. We're here to assess the situation after we heard about the change in government.

Liev: So why did you take us?

Mara: We might need some help "assessing the situation", and we thought that people with your kind of skills would be helpful.

Hoffman: Whoa. Okay I know that these guys have fighting experience, but I'm just a merchant. Why me?

Constantine: You never know when someone that's financially savvy could come in handy.

Hoffman shrugged.

Liev: So you guys kill people?

Torix: I know we look like ambassadors, but…

Liev: Heh. We'll see.

This seemed to establish that the newly released criminals were in on the plan to subvert authority. The eight of them walked to the Chasing Oblivion, and talked to Crow's Nest and Mueller about the situation. By now Crow's Nest and Mueller had made fake names for themselves: Crow's Nest was James White, and Mueller was Morrison White. They had all grown attached to the Oblivion, so they didn't want to just leave it out in the open. Crow's Nest took advantage of the fjords in the area to hide the ship in a place nobody would stumble upon by chance. The ten of them headed back to Zaitzag.

Constantine made the introduction of the other two crewmen, and Officer Rand showed them to the steam carriage. It was a strange sight for them, but they trusted Dwarven engineering. As they went to board, they were introduced to Mr. Mig, who told them that there was only room for six on the carriage. There was space on the roof however. They all boarded.

They went about a week before arriving at a military checkpoint. They were stopped and ordered to exit the vehicle. They complied and lined up outside the vehicle. The officer introduced himself as Brigadier Hermann Machtblitz. He asked who the leader was, and Mara stepped forward. Machtblitz laughed, but told her and the brothers to join them. They walked into a small office, and Machtblitz closed the drapes. Not eager to get caught again, Torix started sizing Machtblitz up. They were about the same size, and Machtblitz must have done some fighting to earn the rank of Brigadier.

Machtblitz: So, who are you. And why is a woman leading you?

Mara: I am leading an expeditionary group from the Great Port City of Kallipolis to establish diplomatic relations with the nations of this continent.

Machtblitz: What is this place, Kallipolis?

They gave him the long version to be more convincing.

Machtblitz: I see. Well if you want to earn the trust of Kaiser Violet, I know the key to success. Two keys, actually. There are two men, brothers, that Violet would do anything to have.

Constantine: Really now? Why exactly does Violet want these…brothers?

Machtblitz: They have committed a number of crimes against Hommeland, I have a poster, in fact…

He pulls out an updated wanted poster of Torix and Constantine and does a double take.

Machtblitz: This is interesting. You two look very much like Torix and Constantine.

Torix: It must be a coincidence. Let me see.

Machtblitz: (hands them the poster) Normally I would say the same, but the fact that you are travelling together makes it seem suspicious.

Constantine: Am I to understand that you are accusing two men who come under the banner of peace of being criminals and hated enemies of your nation? Such gall would be rewarded with death in our land! For future reference, you will keep your suspicions to yourself lest you wish to have a formal reprimand placed on your record for SHEER STUPIDITY!

Machtblitz: (stunned) I, I never…I apologize. You three may go about your business. We're done here.

The three walk away and look disappointedly at Machtblitz. Torix holds on to the poster. When they come out, Mara goes over to Fletcher, who's been making flags of Kallipolis during the spare time, and asks for one. He gives it to her, who in turn gives it to Brigadier Machtblitz. She instructs him to fly it below the flag of Hommeland and Dverzistan on the flag pole. He complies, and they leave.

They continue to plan on the steam wagon. Fletcher makes more flags. Osk appears on the horizon, and they can see it's strangeness. It's not as big sideways as Eisenreich, but it probably has the same amount of people. It was probably made as several tall buildings, but over time it was connected together by bridges, and things were built on the bridges, so the city looks like a big city-box from the outside. Mr. Mig lets them out, and he gives them the location of a few places to go. Mara, Torix, and Constantine ask him to fly one of their flags on his steam carriage. He tells them it will cost 50 gold pieces. They look at him, slightly offended. He tells them it's from Boss Oleg, who told him to charge 50 gold pieces to people who want him to do advertising. They pay up.

The ten of them get out of the vehicle, and start asking around for information. They hear that Osk is a total of 60 floors high, with 20 of them below ground. A large part of the 25th-35th is controlled by Boss Yeltsin, and are sometimes called Yeltsograd. The top five levels contain government buildings and the human embassy. The 15th-20th floors contain a lot of scientists doing administrative work, while much research goes on underground.

They hear about a group called "The Union", which is analogous to the Book Club. They also hear about someone called Viktor Krushchev on level negative 17, who is the main go-to guy for just about everything information-wise in Osk. While asking around they get asked about as well. They establish that they are from Kallipolis and explain their mission to most people. Whenever someone asked why they were just walking around, they said that they wanted to get a feel for the place outside of the governmental level.

This takes a day. The ten "Kallipolisians" head out for level negative 17. They can't find it: the floors go right from 16 to 18. They walk around level 16 and ask a dwarf with green lanterns braided into his beard where they would find level negative 17.

Dwarf: Ha ha! There is no level negative 17.

Constantine: Why not? Why just skip an entire floor?

Dwarf: Well when the tunnels were built, they just dug down and divided the space between the bottom tunnel and the surface into twenty floors. There never was a negative 17, just in theory.

Constantine: Oh. Huh.

Dwarf: Why are you all so well dressed down in the tunnels?

Torix: We were looking for someone on level negative 17 and decided to come here for directions.

Dwarf: Ah. When someone tells you that something is on level negative 17 it means you can't find it. Who were you looking for by the way?

Mara: Viktor Krushchev. Do you know where we can find him?

Dwarf: I'm Viktor Krushchev.

Surprised looks all around

Mara: No way. We have some questions for you.

Krushchev: They always come to me with questions. Let's get out of these tunnels, shall we?

They proceed over to an elevator and go up to a coffee shop on one of the first few levels. Krushchev tells the ten of them that he's heard their story. Fortunately he seems to believe it. They start by asking him the details on the bosses. While there are around thirty, he gives them the details on the major bosses. Oleg, Yeltsin, Zaitzev, Misha, and Kramer. He says that Misha rose pretty recently into significance, with Kramer on his coattails. Krushchev thinks it has something to do with the Kaiser getting someone onto the Board of Osk. The Board is the government of the Dwarves, and is comprised of only the most powerful bosses.

Torix: Our mission here is to make contact with the Board to work out a formal diplomatic agreement of non-aggression. Can you tell us where they are?

Krushchev: Unfortunately I do not. It is a floating meeting, and changes location every day. You could try to talk to the Union, but I could get the information for you also.

Constantine: Okay, then, we'll wait for you to get it for us. We'll be around.

Krushchev: Actually I want you to do something for me.

Mara: What would that be?

Krushchev pulls out a small bottle with a liquid in it.

Krushchev: I want you to give this to some friends of mine, scientists. They should be on level negative ten or so. Doktors Cerenkov, Molotov, and Pavlov. It is very important.

Torix: That shouldn't be too hard.

Krushchev: Don't open it, and don't give it to anyone else or lose it. If you do…hmmm. I don't know, maybe I'll slander you. Just don't mess up, okay?

Mara: Deal. We have some more questions for you however…

View
The Butchers Indeed
It's what's on the inside that counts.

The trio rides relatively unhindered until they come to what seems to be the edge of the forest. It has come earlier than expected, and they can hear rushing water.

"We must be at the Westward River," says Mara, "There would be humans here." Surely enough, can hear the faint clinking of armor, and as they get closer they begin to smell a cooking boar. They peak their heads out through the edge of the trees, making sure to keep their hats down.

The river is as large as they remember, much too large to swim across.  On the south side, and a short ways down from where they are, they see what appears to be some kind of docking station and a plume of smoke. They wait.

They discuss their next move. At first Torix advocates commandeering a ship, but they see ships don’t stay long enough for that to happen. Constantine decides they should just walk up and pretend to be elf farmers. Mara and Torix agree. The three of them enter the station. Constantine approaches some of the soldiers.

Constantine: (with accent) Excuse me sirs, we would like to get across the river. What do we need to do to get on one of the boats?

The soldiers stare at them for a few seconds.

Soldier: Wait here.

they comply, Constantine asks about the boar, and the soldiers tell him its reserved for humans. The other soldier returns.

Soldier: Go to that office and talk with the officer. Go!

They start walking, but Mara decides to stay witht the animals to keep an eye on the soldiers. TnC enter the office and Constantine explains that they are elven farmers trying to get across the river to meet up with family. Officer Martin pulls out his crossbow from under his desk and starts playing with it. Torix gets the impression that he’s going to try to bully them into doing something. Officer Martin tells them that if they can clean up one of the old boats, they can take it across.

TnC get Mara and the animals and follow a soldier to an old barnacle-encrusted ship suspended in a tree. They get to work removing the barnacles, Mara and Constantine get pretty cut up, but Torix has tougher skin. They load the animals on, and they board the boat with two other soldiers. About half way across, one of the soldiers drops the anchor and draws his sword.

Soldier 1: Officer Martin thanks you for cleaning the ship, now its time for you to leave.

Constantine: What are you doing, man? Can’t you just take us across?

The soldier kicks Paard, and the horse falls in the water. Another kick to Bruto, and he goes in too. The wildebeest manages to get back on the boat. The soldier looks shamed, so he tries to kick Constantine into the water. Constantine eaisly avoids it, and the soldier goes in. Torix turns to the second soldier and stares into his soul.

Soldier 2: Don’t move!

Torix: Agreed. Why don’t you take us across the river before you humiliate your race again? (Torix looks like he’s throw the soldier into the water)

Soldier 2: Okay, okay. Look I got a wife and kids back home. I wanna be able to see them agian, okay? I’m taking you across, see?

The second soldier hoists the anchor, while the first soldier and the horse are struggling for air. They both drown in the water a minute later. They make it across and the soldier leaves them alone. They start walking throgh the Zonne. The vegetation is more dense, and they pass a few farms while walking. They hear something moving towards them, fast. Everyone goes to take cover, but Torix is a little slow.

A elven child (actually about 20, but a child by elven standards) runs right into Torix and bounces off his armor. The hits the ground, apparently knocked out. They can still hear more people coming, so Constantine hides the kid. Torix takes cover.

The running sounds stop, and they hear three people breathing hard, and they say something about the escaped elf. Torix gives the signal to Mara and Constantine that he’s gonna go and talk to them.

Torix: Hey.

Soldier: You’re in the way! We’re looking for someone, get out of here!

Torix: Correction: you are in my way.

The soldiers are surprised by the audacity of the statement.

Soldier: Where’s the kid?

Torix: I haven’t seen any kids around here. Go look somewhere else.

Soldier and Torix stare at each other for a few seconds.

Soldier: Tell us where he is. (they look like they’re ready to fight)

Torix: What are you going to do if I don’t? No, let me rephrase that. What are you going to attempt to do if I don’t?

Soldier: (backing down) Who are you?

Torix: None of your business! Now, are you getting out of my way or not?

Soldier: Bye. (mumbling)Who is this guy…?

Torix smiles, and the other two come out of hiding. They decide to wake the kid up. Mara nudges his leg and he wakes. He’s understandably confused, and they fill him in. The kid tells them that he’s been running from New Kaspargrad for three days, and the soldiers were chasing him. Torix tells him that he can repay them for saving his life by telling them about the layout of the town. The kid draws in the dirt, and they transcribe it onto a piece of paper. They tell the kid that ther’re going to New Kaspargrad, and it would be safest to travel with them. The kid reluctantly agrees. He introduces himself as Qalim. He asks why they have cows, because they don’t do animals in this part of the Zonne. Mara wittingly replies that its what’s on the inside that counts.

They come to a clearing and stick to the sides. They notice a hidden trap in the clearing, and one uncovered. They are both 10-foot pits with sharp pieces of whatever stuck in the bottom. As they’re looking around a voice calls out to them.

Sergeant Terrance: Stop right there. Don’t try anything, I’ve got thirty men pointing crossbows at you.

An exaggeration perhaps, but not untrue.

Constantine: Hey man. What is going on here? We just noticed these traps here, we don’t want any trouble.

Terrance: I’m sure you don’t. I’m Sergeant Terrance, and you have something I want. Rather, someone I want.

Torix: What’s one boy to you? Don’t you have better things to do?

Terrance: No. No worker in New Kaspargrad is considered expendable. He was contracted to work for us, and that’s exactly what he will do.

Mara: Can’t we make some kind of deal?

Terrance: Didn’t you just hear what I said, woman? Nobody is expendable. Give him to us.

Torix: Fine, just leave us alone.

Torix gives the signal to prepare to fight.

Terrance: Good. Put that board over the pit, and leave him there.

Mara: What? I thought you were going to take him back to New Kaspargrad, not kill him!

Terrance: Do it, or my men will open fire.

They do as he asks, then they charge him. Between the three of them, they create quite the storm of desctuction. Terrance dies just after learning that he was facing Torix and Constantine. During the fight, one of the soldiers tackles Qalim and they both fall into the pit. After the cleanup of the soldiers, they pull Qalim out of the pit. He’s been impaled in several places, but Torix stabilizes him, and they keep on moving.

They hear New Kaspargrad before they see it. The sound of voices and the clanking of armor and weapons. At the edge of the town, they plan their next move. Constantine is getting to be a fan of the impersonation, so they decide to go with that. They are approached by a soldier as they walk into the town. Constantine convinces him that they have come to present Boss Kramer with a gift, and to find work. The soldier brings a dwarf over to talk to them. This was a surprise, but they hid it well enough.

Mr. Medved talks to them about signing some papers, and they falsify their names to get housing. Medved tells them the hierarchy of New Kaspargrad. Lieutenant MacLaurin heads the local garrison, Underboss Callahan works with Medved to coordinate dwarf-human efforts. And Boss Kramer is, of course, boss. By now they’re at the worker housing, and they tell Qalim to stay behind. Medved brings them to the Underboss.

Calahan says that they cannot present their gift to Boss Kramer because he’s away at a meeting in Osk. TnC look at each other angrily because they were looking forward to seeing Kramer again. However, Callahan has a job for them. He can tell that they’re not elves, but doesn’t ask who they are yet. Apparently someone stole from Boss Kramer’s personal supply of vodka, and if Callahan doesn’t get it back before Kramer gets back, he’s screwed. Mara and TnC understand, and ask what they have to do. Callahan tells them that they caught a man trying to steal from the supplies, but he hasn’t been very cooperative. Callahan then tells them that since he doesn’t want to know their real names, he’s going to give them some fakes.

Torix becomes Sebastian Todd, Constantine becomes Fritz Teufel, and Mara becomes Milo Ritter. They discuss payment. Callahan agrees to let them take some weapons and armor from the military stores. He sends them down to talk to his prisoner. It is none other than John Meursault. He starts giving them fake names and tells them they have the wrong man.

Torix: You better stop lying, or I’m gonna bust your face.

Meursault: Whoa! Think about this, if you bust my face I won’t be able to talk!

Torix: Yes you will. It’ll just hurt more.

Meursault: You’re serious?

Torix: Now why would I do that to the man who sailed us around the world?

Meursault looks confused, but gathers that he’s talking to TnC.

Meursault: What…? It’s you? We thought we wouldn’t see you guys for a long time! How’d you get here so fast?

Constantine: It was no big deal. We only crossed a desert and a jungle.

Meursault: Right (laughs). Is this who I think it is?

Constantine: Um. No.

Meursault: Come on, your messing with me.

Mara pulls off her hat. Meursault is entranced.

Meursault: I’m pleased to meet you. I haven’t seen another half-elf in a very long time. My name is John Meursault. (he kisses her hand)

Mara: I know. (looks indifferently at him)

Torix: Anyways…Where’s the Oblivion, and how did you end up here?

Meursault: The Oblivion’s on the river. We did actually steal from the vodka supply, but you can’t expect men like us to go without the simple pleasures of life for long. Everyone else made it back but me.

Constantine: I have an idea. Let’s tell Callahan that we’re gonna do something special to him. Water torture or something.

Meursault: Wait! I can’t just go out there like this, you haven’t even touched me. Torix, punch me.

Torix looks at him for a second, then punches him.

Meursault: Ah! I guess that’s another reason you’re captain. You know, Mara, it might feel better if you kissed it.

She ignores him, and they walk back to Callahan. Constantine tells him about the water torture, and Callahan buys it. They walk off unchallenged. Meursault hits on Mara the entire way there. They reach the shores by nightfall. They notice two fires, one much smaller and start looking around. The larger one is obviously a military camp, and directly across from it is the Chasing Oblivion. They appear to be staking out the ship. Mara, Meursault, the animals, and TnC head over to the smaller fire. They can hear people taking cover as they approach. TnC walk up to the fire and take a seat near it.

The crew of the Oblivion bursts out from the bushes and is awestruck. They too are surprised to see TnC. The brothers give them all hugs and handshakes, and give them the update. The crewmen trip over themselves trying to be courteous to Mara. Jim asks what the cows are for. Constantine opens the flap, and pulls out the explosives. The crew loads the explosives onto their raft, and since they don’t need the cows for storage anymore, they slaughter them. As Torix beheads Betty and Norma, he notes that now he and Constantine can rightly be called butchers. Everyone laughs.

Mueller says that there’s a camp of soldiers, and that the new cannons they acquired might be very useful for this fight. Mueller also tells them to get the cow blood on their clothes to intimidate the soldiers. It’s a little over the top, but their probably not going to use the farmer’s clothes again. The crew slaps them with the meat slabs until they are sufficiently bloody. The crew gets on the raft and heads over to the ship while Mara and TnC make their approach. They rush right into the fight, and make good progress against the soldiers. Lieutenant Taylor and his men are caught off guard by the volley of cannon fire that screams from the oblivion. No survivors, perfect

The next morning they wake on the ship. Mueller drops a big piece of steak in front of the three of them, and they feast. They head westward. Meursault is still eyeing Mara, and TnC know they have to talk to Crow’s Nest about their father. But in the mean time, they enjoy Mueller’s cooking.

View
Two Places at Once
This guy's so stupid, he's convincing!

Mara and TnC make it over to the flashing light, and they see that it is the Bull and Leyla. The Bull tells them that if it's like this all the way to Vista, they should come up with something better. After bouncing ideas off of each other, they settle on TnC dressing up as human soldiers while taking Mara, the Bull, and Leyla as their "captives".

 

The Bull and Leyla hold position near a group of rocks, while TnC and Mara walk up to the camp to get the uniforms. They can see that the soldiers have already started to gather the bodies to burn them. They spot two officers talking, and Constantine is close enough to hear their conversation.

Officer: Are you sure it was them Corporal Ross?

Ross: Yes sir. Positive sir. This is their style for sure, plus we found this.

The corporal holds up a piece of paper, which Mara and TnC assume that its the wanted poster that TnC kept with them. Not realising that they could be seen, the trio began to discuss their next move. They flipped out when they saw the officer pointing over to them and a group of soldiers headed their way. They tried to hide, but it was no use in the desert. They got back on their wildebeests and proceeded over to the rocks.

As they approached, they all saw that the Bull and Leyla were gone. After finding some tracks, they were able to determine that the Bull and Leyla were going Northwest, presumably to Aloeste. They start riding.

After a few minutes they lose the trail, but notice nine sets of tracks headed perpendicular to their course. They press on.

 

Constantine notices some horsemen headed their way. Since horses were faster than wildebeests, they would be caught if they ran. Torix, Constantine, and Mara put up their face coverings quickly. The human horsemen approach them.

Lead Horseman: I am sergeant Danville. Identify yourselves.

Constantine: (in an elvish accent) We are humble water merchants. We're not looking for any trouble sir.

Danville: Show me your ears.

TnC tense up, but Constantine's got it covered. More or less.

Constantine: Okay, man. You notice that our ears have been foully rounded. This was the work of an evil human who was intolerant of our kind!

Danville: Okay…fine. You said you're a water merchant?

Constantine: Oh, yeah, man. We're the best, you know? We hook you up with the best water around, man.

Danville: Really? Do you happen to have any right now? I'm very thirsty.

Constantine: Oh sure, man, no problem (hands him his canteen).

Danville(Quaffs the whole thing) You're right, that was excellent water! (nonchalantly throws the canteen in the sand, and Constantine picks it up.) So, merchant, where are you being sent to? I assume your skills have been requisitioned?

Constantine: Yeah, man, we're headed over to Aloeste, man.

Danville: You mean Port Rose, don't you?

Constantine: Right, yes, my bad, man.

Danville: Indeed. We will escort you there.

Constantine: No, really, its okay, man. We can make it there ourselves, you know?

Danville: I'm afraid I must insist.

It goes on like this for a while, and the situation goes south when Constantine incorrectly translates Torix and Mara's elvish. Danville "escorts" them right into the middle of the human encampment outside of Port Rose, then reveals that he knows who they are…butchers.

Soldiers file out, and when Danville is about to order them to attack, a lieutenant comes out and orders him to stand down. Lieutenant Schwarz raises the stakes by revealing that he has taken Leyla hostage (and presumbaly the Bull as well). He threatens to kill her if the brothers don't surrender. Torix tells Schwarz that the girl means nothing to them, and that killing her will accomplish nothing. While Torix is completely sincere, Constantine thinks otherwise, but knows that saying so will only hurt their position.

Schwarz orders one of his men to stab her, then the battle starts. Torix kills Danville, and Mara kills Schwarz. Constantine makes a daring dash over to Leyla and grabs her as they run off away from the encampment. After reaching a safe distance, Torix dismounts and stabilizes Leyla. Because of the chaos of the battle, they had steal a horse, and only made it out with one wildebeest.

Torix, Constantine, and Mara set up camp near an oasis and discuss their next move. They decide that it is best to abandon the Lion and the Bull, and to head north to the east stromm. Leyla is still unconcious. After a well-deserved rest, they head north.

TnC mention that in the long run they might want to go to Dverzistan to warn the Dwarves about the impending human attack. Mara tenses up at the mention of Dverzistan, and tells them a story about why. When she was younger, she was taken captive by some other elves and sold to a Dwarf who ran a labor camp in his homeland. She was vague on the circumstance of her escape, but TnC understood. There were things that they would be vague about too.

Leyla wakes up, and they give her the scoop on what happened. Constantine told her his thoughts on the hostage situation, and she was somewhat understanding. Leyla looks at Constantine, and tells him that the baby was probably killed when she was stabbed. Torix suspected that they had…you know, while they were drunk, but he never thought this would happen. Mara was surprised too because she heard from Torix what "may have happened". Constantine is understandably embarrassed, so he tried to get Leyla to shut up.

He gave her a cold stare, and Torix backhanded him. This made the younger brother even more ashamed. Torix, as usual, was unapologetic. They stopped to eat some of the wildcat they had killed. Leyla pulled Constantine aside to have a talk.

Leyla: Constantine, I…I just wanted to let you know. I didn't mean to embarass you. (She looks at him for a while) I also wanted to let you know that if times were different, I'd want to stay with you. You, know? Stay with you.

Constantine: Leyla. I know-

Torix: Come on, let's get…Oh my Umm…I'll be over there…

Leyla has nothing left to say to Constantine. They continue on in an akward silence. After a few hours of travel, they hear two men talking obnoxiously and the smell the familiar scent of opium smoke.

TnC dismount, and sneak up to see what's going on.

Smaller man: Hahahaha! (cough) One of the many underutilizized resources of the Zonne. Haha! Hey, do you hear that ova there? Gee I sure hope its not Torix and Constantine, haha(cough)!

Larger man: Don't be stupid! Why would Torix and Constantine come all the way…all the way…all the way ova here?

Together: FOR THE OPIUM! HAHAHA!

TnC look at each other, and leap out of the foliage and start making weird gestures and faces at the two increasingly familiar facs.

Smaller man: What the hell, Mark. Its Torix and Constantine. Wait, no. It can't be them because Torix and Constatatine don't dance. They kill people. Heh heh heh, they. They…

TnC stop. If the big one is Mark, then the little one's gotta be…Sly Eddy.

Torix: Eddy? Sly Eddy? And Mark! No way.

Mark: Hey. See, I knew this shit wasn't that good. You can't hallucinate Torix and Constantine.

Constantine: What are you guys doing out here?

Eddy and Mark start talking about how they basically lost their jobs, so they've been hanging out in one of the Librarian's summer homes (which is one of the many uses of the Zonne). TnC introduce the mobsters to Mara and Leyla. The men continue to talk. TnC tell them about their ship, and Eddy says that he wants to join their crew, even though he knows that he'll probably regret saying that later. Mark offers to bring them to the town of Merlot, where their house is. On the way there they talk about all the action that TnC have been up to, and about the changes in Eisenreich. Apparently, the resources being utilized in the Zonne were enough to make it possible for Vincent Violet to eliminate organized crime in the capital, which put Mark and Eddy out of a job. Constantine mentions Mad Seamus, and Eddy talks about how he and Mark grew up in Westhaven with the now old pirates. They may have even known Prospero. They get to the outskirts of Merlot, and Eddy sneaks in to get them some clothes.He comes back with some farmer's clothes, and a robe for Leyla. There was no belt for Constantine, so he pulls out the silver sash he stole from Mahmoud in Bhangra Baba and ties it on.

Eddy: Now ya see, we've been livin' here quite a while, so we know the lieutenant that's in charge. He's gonna ask questions, and might wanna pull somethin. So, the best way to deal with suspicion…is to walk up and punch it in the face. Torix grunts, and Eddy walks right up to the lieutenant and starts talking.

Eddy: Hey there lieutenant Hoffman!

Hoffman: Oh. Hi.

Eddy: So, these here are my expatriate friends that I found in the forest. They're forest junkies. Wait, no, their parents were expatriates, and they crashed on the river and these guys grew up on their own.

Hoffman: Uh-huh.

Eddy: Right, so they're gonna be stayin' wit me for a couple a days. Sound good?

Hoffman: Sure, whatever Eddy. Just go away.

They walk away towards Eddy's house.

Eddy tells them that the floor is made out of some kind of cork, and it helps your back when you sleep on it. TnC nod along. They start talking about getting on the move again. Eddy and Mark tell them that it would be nearly impossible to rendezvous with their ship if they just start walking along the East Stromm. Torix asks about river towns that are big enough to stop at. Eddy points one out. Du Noir.

Eddy and Mark go to sleep on the floor. Leyla's still pretty hurt from the knife-wound, so she lies down too. Being so close to Dverzistan reminds the brothers about their time there, and Kramer. Mara was curious about Kramer. From what she'd seen, Vincent Violet was the only person to earn a death mark like this, and she wondered what it was that Cassius Kramer had done. Tnc tell her about how he betrayed them for the opportunity to get free opium for life.

While Mara and TnC make their plans to go through the Zonne, some soldiers come through for an "inspection". Everyone tries to maintain their disguises to get the soldiers to go away, but they march right in anyways. The man leading the "inspection" is Corporal Blakely, who seems pretty clueless. He starts with an inspection of TnC and is in love with Constantine's silver sash. They make a "trade" so that the officer will consider his inspection complete if Constantine gives up the sash.They sleep afterwards.

Torix wakes up to Sly Eddy poking his face. Torix grabs his hand. Sly Eddie and Brutal Mark are more than a little confused, and ask what the hell happened last night. Eddy and Mark flip out when they hear that soldiers came by for an inspection, but they are reassured by Constantine, who points to his less than fantastic belt. Mark and Eddy mention something about "their plan", and Mara and TnC trick them into telling them about it. It wasn't too momentus of a secret, though:their plan was to kill lieutenant Hoffman.

Eddy and Mark share what they've really been up to around here. They were in Eisenreich when Violet got around to harnessing the resources of the Zonne and putting them to use, so they knew its importance. Eddy and Mark also explain a bit of the strategy behind Alfenne. The Kaiser's initail push through the Rainy desert was a catastrophe: desert fatigue and elf guerrillas harassed the army constantly. So he pulled back into the Zonne, and tried to deal with the desert-folk by themselves Since the Lion (and the Bull, presumably) had been captured by the forces of Hommeland, it seemed that Violet had made progress. Eddy tells them that they were also able to "get a hold" of a cache of explosives, which they were hiding in their house. Remembering the wonderful utility of these little nuggets, they asked if they could take some with them. Since Eddie and Mark had enough explosives to level a city, they agreed to let some of them go. They continued to talk about a guerilla campaign they are planning to disrupt the steady flow of goods from the Zonne to Eisenreich.

Torix: Eddy. Mark. I just want you guys to know that this makes me very happy.

Constantine: You guys will be the thorn in Violet's side that we need.

Torix: I have an idea (he pulls out his Penumbra uniform). Take these. Everyone knows that only we wear them, so they're no use to us.

Constantine: Plus, it'll annoy Violet to think that Torix and Constantine are ruining his tidy little empire.

Eddy: So let me get this straight. If we wear these, everyone else will think that we're you?

Torix: Those are are signature uniforms.

Mark: Okay. But our styles are different than yours. They'll know its not you.

Torix: That's not important. What's important is the infamy factor. If you guys want elves to start joining your fight, thinking that someone as crazy as us is leading the fight will speed things up!

Constantine: Plus we'll be messing things up in other places too!

Mara: So we'll be in two places at once. That'd piss anyone off.

It was settled. Eddy and Mark took the uniforms, and hid them with the explosives. TnC and Mara tell Mark and Eddy about going to Du Noir to wait for their ship. Eddy corrects them. New Kaspargrad. The brothers thoughts immediately go to Cassius Kramer. Constantine drops his name, and Eddy tells him that "Boss Kramer" sells opium out of New Kaspargrad. TnC inform him that they are probably going to kill Kramer.

Since Mara and TnC came on a horse and a wildebeest, it would not be easy for them to walk around with explosives. Fortunately, Eddy and Mark have a solution. What they needed was a large animal, like a cow, to put the explosives in. Mara and TnC were skeptical of this procedure, but Eddy reassured them that they'd done it plenty of times. They know just the place to find some Cows too.

The five of them head over to one of the local farms, owned by the elf Jose Maria. He's deaf, but he still has elvish eyesight, so they need to sneak by him, while Eddy and Mark distract him. The mobsters engage him in conversation, while the van Rijns sneak by. Jose Maria spots Mara, and pulls her into the conversation too. Meanwhile, TnC take two cows, a brown one and a black&white one, and take them away. Eddy and Mark see this, and excuse themselves from the conversation, leaving Mara with the farmer. Eddy cuts a hole in both of the cows, and they pack the explosives inside. They quickly cauterize the wounds. They decide to name the brown cow Betty and the black&white one Norma.

Mara is still talking (if you can call it that) with the deaf farmer. He signs to her something about her face. She doesn't get it right away. He touches her face, and she understands quite clearly that he thinks she has a nice face. She politely excuses herself and meets up with the four men. The operation is done.

They continue talking about the Kaiser, and Eddy mentions that he knew Violet personally. When he and Mark were growing up in Westhaven, Violet was there too, but people called him "the orphan". He was a loner, but the Librarian there liked him. Violet was very skilled with knives as well, and they recalled him bullseyeing a snake at night from fifty feet away with a throwing knife. One day, they heard that the Librarian was sending Violet on a mission, whose details are unknown, and he effectively dissappeared. The next time Eddy and Mark saw him was when they were transferred to Eisenreich.

TnC put that info into the archives, and prepare to head off. Eddy reminds Constantine that Leyla is still pretty hurt, and that she would only slow them down if they took her with them. Reluctantly, Constantine agrees to let her stay with the mobsters. Constantine asks for a moment alone, and everyone steps outside. He walks over to Leyla, kneels down beside her, and kisses her on the forehead. He goes outside, and they start heading off. As they ride away, they can just make out Eddy and Mark in the Penumbra uniforms, with lieutenant Hoffman. Mark strangles him, and Eddy gives Mara and TnC a thumbs up then pulls the mask over his face.

The trio rides into the forest as the sun sets behind the trees.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.