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The Hell Hole that is Home

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Post by Demonhunter April 1st 2022, 8:45 pm

Niccolo gives a bit of a side eyed stare as Cebra claims to be a merchant. He did look like he was dressed finely, albeit weird. He was also rather clean and seemed to have all his teeth and his limbs still attached to him, thus he must have been able to afford both protection and access to clean water on a regular basis. The part of Niccolo that wished his business well couldn’t help but be thankful about it as Cebra definitely had the coin to pay for the room, the other half was suspicious. A clean man on the back of a filthy devil spawn? Was this some sort of trick the clergy was playing on him? A way to fool him into blaspheming? With a stubborn shake of his head, he stashes the thought out of mind, choosing to take the option that kept the inn running.

“I guess that’s as acceptable as any. But… What is cotton?” Niccolo asks, having never heard of the new world plant. Most clothes here were made of wool or flax and only the rich could afford silks.

Xxxx


Meanwhile, Rai found herself outside the gates of Terni with another group of Reavers, most of which hadn’t even earned their cloaks yet. She takes the opportunity to set them scouting elsewhere while she follows up on their drop-site. Rai settles in his saddle, if not a bit uncomfortably. While they were away, the horrid energy in the area only grew denser.

Rai follows past their original point as she begins to notice more evidence of recent travel. Some of the trees their warping had brought with them into dis had been felled and dragged away, as if timber men had come through for lumber. This was so recent some of the trees were still wet with sap. The horseman dismounts, dispelling Grimmorah to track on foot, following the trail of imprinted tracks through the flax fields, across a low grown forrest and then into the beginnings of the foothills of the Apennine mountains. Just as visible movement hits her eyes, she freezes for a moment. This place was crawling with demon trails, snaking all over the place. All of which led over a particular hill.

Rai would have to play scout, as ducks down into the sparse undergrowth as she creeps up the hill just one step at a time. As the peak of the hill grows near Rai freezes, only now realizing what she is looking at. This was not just a demon den, it was a damned camp. There were tents, demons and devils everywhere, some of which were organized and armed. They kept their fires low to avoid detection and seemed to be building things from fresh chopped lumber but she couldn’t make out what. She chose not to stick around too long to find out. Although every bone in her body urged her forward to fight, she was not dumb enough to charge into a camp alone, especially not one that seemed to span an entire hillside.

The reaver turns tail, summoning Grimmorah and spurring him back into a dead gallop back to where she’d left the fledgling Reavers only to find ravaged corpses of the horned. They’d been set upon by something that’d been equipped to handle reavers, silver halberds wrenched through breastplates and some reavers had even been fully reduced to dust.

She couldn’t wait around here, if she’d been discovered and killed as well, the information of the camp would die with her. Rai had barely stopped to discover her slain companions before she was off again, straight back to Terni at a pace that shouldn’t be possible by a horse. Thundering through the gates she skids to a stop, turning to the doormen asking for the nearest whitecloak hang out.


XXX

The Black Crane was a run down dump of an establishment. The dirt road had turned to mud from the water run down from the sloped streets. The sounds of drunken men roaring from the inside and drunkards littering the yard, as well as the occasional reaver only a modicum less uptight than usual. Rai hurriedly waits by the door, only hoping Cebra had found the same information as she had and didn’t end up god knows where.

She leans back against a wooden column, just waiting as a group of white cloaks passes. She avoids their gaze as typical, however one stays behind. His armor a gleaming bronze with a while cloak delicately drawn below his pauldron. He was in slightly more movable platemail than the bulky dreadnaughts, however she didn’t register him as a frontliner at first. Upon closer inspection Rai realizes he was a skirmisher, a very well armored one at that.

“Hey. You look like shit.” He gruffs in reaver with a light smile. His white hair is cropped short and his markings were sparse compared to Rai’s, but there was still a resemblance. “What do they call this one, girl?”

“Sa’ Rai Osgh’ol.Erm, Rai… I need help.” Rai sighs, not comfortable putting all her trust in another reaver, but if there were anyone who would help them, It’d be a white cloaked reaver. “More like we. I have a companion but…”

The reaver gives a blank stare. “I am not helping you cover up a tiefling, girl.” He crosses his arms and shifts his weight, choosing to hear her out.

“No no, God no.” A very flustered Rai quickly refutes. “I will wait until he gets here buuuut… Wait, what do they call this one?”

“Mol’ ShaRai. Molly. I jest about the teifling. I assume he is human?”

“Aye.”

“We will pull him into the back then. Go. What am I looking for?”

“Fuzzy, kind of dim but still strong. Strangest one you’ll see.” Rai barks, slinking into the back of the Black Crane as the barkeep lets her into a back room with the other reavers, all battle-hardened white cloaks, one of which pulls out a chair for her.

Meanwhile Molly assumes Rai’s position, leaned against the support beam, watching for Cebra.

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Post by Cerek April 9th 2022, 12:10 am

Cebra responded without hesitation "Material from down south, guess it hasn't arrived in these markets yet."

Despite the room already being payed for Cebra had no intention of staying the night now that he had the info he needed. There was no horse available to him unfortunately, he'd have to make his way by foot, fortunately for Cebra his leg implants were working just fine despite numerous system and part failures. He could easily dash the distance he needed to, but he also remembered Rai said it was important he not appear inhuman in any way. Thankfully there were few eyes around him at the moment and none directed at him, he managed to turn a small amount of metal from a fire poker into more coin for himself and before slipping away left thirty silver for the man. The sky was always disconcerting in this world, he found it uncomfortable to look upwards and kept his eyeline on the horizon.

After making sure no one could see him Cebra stretched out his legs like a runner and took a starting position before taking off like a rocket. He moved with enough speed that anyone along his way would see nothing but a blur, his energy reserves were taxed greater than usual though. Cebra had suffered a reduction to his ability to generate and store saxon energy, this new degenerative effect (as far as Cebra could tell) was brought on by some anomalous energy or wave in this world.

It wasn't long before Cebra reached his destination, a rowdy looking tavern place that certainly wasn't Bullshacks by any means. Cebra could already hear folk inside the Black Crane and they sounded either merry or furious, it was hard to tell with all the yelling, screaming and foul language. Cebra made sure to stop a decent distance away and walk up to the entrance with great care, avoiding eye contact with any of the less than savory people around. Upon entering the Black Crane Cebra for the second time in less than two days is at the bar but not really wanting for drink. He makes his way to the back past the riff raff and has a seat by himself as he watches the other patrons and watches out for Rai, not that he could talk to her apparently.
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Post by Demonhunter April 9th 2022, 12:56 am

Rai had been ushered in the back by the other white cloaks. There were three, a large dreadnought, who held his black helm under his arm and a beer mug in another, a battle scarred scout with a bow strapped to her back and another colossus slayer. Each with white cloaks beneath their pauldrons, clasped on with iron crosses on their armor, denoting the color of the cloaks to the color blind reavers.

“Girl, have a drink.” The scout chimes, her accent muted with time as she slides Rai a mug of beer. “You are in the Crane. It is safe here.”

“I, um thank you… Today has been strange.”

“No worries. We are reavers. Every day is strange. I am Ari- ShoGai. Ari. That.” The pokes to the dreadnought who was already on his second mug. “Is Ro Lithghol, We call him Roth. And that is Hayseed.” Ari nods to the colossus slayer who was busy eyeing Rai in a suspicious manner.

“Why do they call you hayseed?”

Hayseed simply replies by shifting the stalk of straw he had between his teeth. Ari lets him stare off into oblivion for a moment before giving a sigh. “Hayseed pissed off a cleric a long time ago as a fledgling. Almost got burned for it. He hasn’t said a word since out of spite. He is friendlier than he appears. So what is your problem, girl? Molly sent you here for a reason.”

“I am waiting for someone. I have been away for a long time. And I’ve returned with a human man. Um.” Rai grips her own cloak as she begins to try to figure out where to start.

“ You growing a tiefling, Girl?” Roth booms with a hearty roar of laughter.

“No- No, It’s-”

“Roth, Leave her alone.” Ari raises an elegant hand to shut the dreadnought up and then urges Rai to continue with a gesture. “Why is this man important?”

“I-... Can I tell you when he gets here? He is better at explaining things.”

Ari falls silent, looking to her two compatriots before giving a heavy sigh. “This man better not be clergy. But if you trust him, we will hear you out.”


Xxxx

Meanwhile Molly watches the passers by, observing for the man Rai had described. This was probably some fledgling drabble and a waste of his time, however the black cloak did bring a bit of legitimacy to Rai’s claim. It at least had him willing to hear her out and take the risk of getting caught in a bar. His eyes lift to a dark and cloudy soul, like he was looking at some kind of crackling storm of static. It sure was strange but, nevertheless, it was what he was looking for. As soon as Cebra enters the bar Molly returns to the back entrance joining the other reavers.

“Your man is here. I’ll have a barkeep retrieve him.” Molly huffs, lumbering through the curtains into the kitchens.

XXX

A cute blonde barkeep prances out of the back with a plate of beers, passing drinks out all over the bar to any rowdy man who asks. This place was just as dirty as the inn, just much livelier as it was full of Dis’s scum. Drunkards, prostitutes and the morally obscene all gathered here for debauchery and liquor. Meanwhile the barkeep moves to the man Molly had described.

“Hey. Your reaver is in the back.” She whispers. “Come.” She pulls Cebra's hand in an obvious manner which has other men in the bar whooping and cheering for Cebra. This woman wore a red ribbon in her intricately braided hair, as did several other women, however these women were accepting coin in exchange for their time and sin.

The woman leads him through the steaming kitchens and into the back through what looked like a cellar door to the motley crew of Reavers. Rai immediately perks up and gives a sigh of relief.

“You have your man, now spill it.” Molly gruffs.

Rai takes a deep breath before deciding to start from the top. “I was in the unit sent after the Striggan. All of us were killed but me, but I ended up in some other world. Well the Striggan came back and we ended up here. So I left cebra here and went on tonights scouting mission-”

“Have they not yet come back?” Roth interrupts, realizing he hadn’t heard the hooves of the reavers coming back in the gates.

“They are dead. There’s a camp about twenty miles south.” Rai’s eyes lock on to Cebra, hoping of all people who would understand it’d be him.

“Calm yourself, girl.” Roth’s voice dips to something less loud than a booming rumble for once as Hayseed retrieves more alcohol, offering some to Cebra and then refilling Rai’s mug with something stronger. “How many? What kind of equipment did you see?”

“The camp spanned for at least a mile. Maybe five thousand. I know I saw ballistas and siege towers.” Rai breathes, searching her memory for anything else. “Many hellknights, but other than that, I do not know.” The whitecloaks met eyes for a moment.

Molly finally speaks up. “The clergy needs to know of this. I will bring it to them tomorrow morning. Ari, Can you scout the area? I want an exact headcount on how many soldiers they have.” Molly’s mind is going a mile a minute commanding his posse. “Roth and Hayseed, you’re coming with me. We need to convince the clergy to tighten defenses until we find out where they intend to attack. We need to stop any more scouts from leaving until this is done.”

Molly glances to Cebra then to Rai, trying to figure out why a reaver was so dependent on a human man. “Cebra, is it? I am Molly. Obviously someone a reaver trusts is more than just a man. What is your strength here, mere man?” The scirmisher sits himself back in a chair, mug of beer lifting to his lips, hinting at his suspicion of Cebra not being a ‘mere man’ like he had been told.
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Post by Cerek April 14th 2022, 5:05 pm

Cebra was all ready to order a drink, he had a look around over his shoulder while keeping hunched over the bar. The people of Gratten were at some times quite ornery around the bar, many times Cebra would have to break up the particularly nasty brawls even before the cops arrived. This place seemed an orgy of chaos and violence of which the patrons seemed accustom. Before he could even talk to the tavern owner he was addressed by arguably the only pleasing thing to look at, a young bar maid with blonde hair and a bounce in her step.  "My reaver?" Cebra thought of the implications of that sentence, not for long though as the young woman took him by the hand. The one thing he was trying to avoid was making a scene but it seemed his efforts were in vain with all the hooting and cheers. Cebra was at a loss for words at the moment besides "ok" and an uncomfortable blush.

Upon entry to the room Cebra got a good look at what he could only assume were more of these Reavers, he thought them strange in a way. They certainly did stand apart from the normal human populace and Cebra now had something to compare Rai to. He sat quietly and listened to their conversation while taking in as much information as he could. Given his extensive knowledge of military strategy and tactics in a broad sense, Cebra surmised a great siege was on the way to one of their major settlements. Cebra met Rai's eyes with his own seeing something on her face that could be desperation, he was cautious not to give her away though and give a slight nod.

Cebra turns to Molly and takes a moment of contemplation, even tilting his head towards Rai looking for some signal that it was alright to disclose more about himself. From what he could tell Rai seemed to be giving him the go ahead to reveal himself... At least somewhat, he would not mention being a machine man from the future just yet. He also considered how his abilities were diminishing in ways,  but also how he could be of great help regardless. "I have strategic knowledge of siege defense, leading soldiers in combat, martial training and..." He wasn't sure if he'd be persecuted or not in this Gothic old world, but never the less he came clean as these people seem to be Rai's companions. "I have powers and strength beyond a mere human, to explain them would be tedious and time consuming. Though I suppose the best way to state these abilities is metal magic. I can manipulate metals to my will."

Cebra takes out the gold coins from his pocket, they liquify with a charge of energy and mold into the shape of a dagger.
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Post by Demonhunter April 27th 2022, 7:33 pm


The reavers were quite for a second before Molly leans back in his chair, as if deep in thought. “You really are trying to get yourself killed, girl.” Roth suddenly chuckles.

“Lay off her, Roth.” Molly snorts before he leans forward. “You can be very helpful with that, boy. We will do all we can to procure all the ore you could need through the night, I have an idea.”

“You and your ideas Molly. If he gets caught we all burn.” Ari groans before shooting a catty glare to Rai. “I’m going to go see if this camp of yours is really as big of a problem as you say. Then we talk.” The scout groans, pulling up her hood and leaving with the heavy slam of a reinforced door.

“I-I’M Sorry I-”

“Don’t fret about her, she is a bitch when under pressure.” The skirmisher interrupts with a waive of a gauntleted hand. Looking back to hayseed, Molly turns his attention back to Rai and Cebra. “You two will have to make the ride to Rome in the morning. Our Clergy here are powerless to rally a large defense this quickly. The papacy needs to know about the possibility of an invasion.”

“Ands they’ll listen to me?” Rai asks incredulously.

“They have to. I’m sending you with my cloak pin.” Molly removes the pin holding his cloak to his pauldron and slides it across the table. It was a gleaming bronze with a heavily engraved cross and on the back looked to be a rudimentary serial number etched into the bronze. “They’ll treat you with the respect they treat me with that. Now go. Also, you.” Cebra points back to Cebra. “When you’re in the capital, whatever you do, do not do that.” He motions towards the newly formed golden dagger. “I will have ore waiting for you by the time we get back. We’re going to try to reinforce the palisade. Either through your magic or a smelter and hammer.”

Molly stands as if to leave before he suddenly seems to remember something. “Ay, Mariza.” He barks. Some time passes before the blonde woman with the ribbon returns to the back.

“Ay, what you want you damn fucker.” The woman huffs with a heavy eye roll.
“Is this man dressed as though he’ll be stoned as soon as he passes the capital gates.” The reaver gruffs.

“Ah… absolutely yes.” Mariza suddenly laughs, as if trying to figure out what Cebra was wearing. “Need a change of clothes?”

“Yes, please.” Molly adjusts his cloak back over his shoulder, pinning in back to his pauldron with a spare pin that lacked the embellishment of the one Rai currently had. “Again. Don’t get yourselves killed.”

There was a brief silence while Roth, Hayseed and Molly all filed out of the bar as Rai just holds on to the cloak pin. “I- I never thought I’d be back here.” Rai’s voice begins to trail off into an odd shaking taints it’s normally even tone. Crimson tears threatening the edge of her eyes. “I get dragged back to hell and now have to go back to the heart of hell, how fitting.”
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Post by Cerek May 6th 2022, 10:58 pm

Cebra cocked his eyebrow at being called "boy", perhaps it was his clean shaven look or just the clothing. Cebra often felt nebulous towards age as he wasn't even sure if he had a natural expiry date. He nodded and contemplated exactly what he'd be tasked with, if he was asked to take the place of a whole city of smiths then that was out of the question now. His energy reserves had sunk significantly and he couldn't do everything. But he could help increase productivity a lot.

Cebra was still trying to come to grips with his situation, his mind through the talking and plans had begun to circle back to home. The reality that he might be trapped here and even that he travelled through some portal to this world was seriously starting to unnerve him. The voices in the room slowly stopped being a muffled mess as Molly breaks through his shroud. "Ride to Rome?" Cebra said to himself, wondering if the empire was still standing in some form in another world. Judging by Molly's order not to show off his abilities he reckoned that reavers were the only ones he could be open around, whether that was true for all reavers was still up for debate and cyco felt otherwise. Indeed the entire time Cebra was involved in his own conversation with Cyco who had deep reservations about everything happening. Cyco had ideas of leaving Rai and searching for that great work on their own, Cebra reminded the unsympathetic program that they knew nothing about this place besides what Rai could provide.

Cebra looks at his clothing , he knew he stood out and would need something more appropriate. Although seeing the people around here didn't give him a good feeling that his new clothes would be comfy. He'd wondered if he could have disguised himself as a Reaver a while ago but thought better of it. These beings seemed able to see some radiation or energy that was inherent in the body, probably could sniff him out.

Through all of this Cebra watched Rai, she seemed out of place here oddly enough, at least to Cebra. She may be a Reaver but for the distance between her and her kin, Cebra could perceive Rai had become more anchored to his world. There wasn't a single moment here where she wasn't on edge and it was heavy on her in this quiet room. Cebra slowly and quietly raised from his seat behind Rai, his eyes softened and a deep sigh leaves his breath. He stood and stared at her as she proclaimed her hate for this "Rome". He can feel her for the first time about to show her deeper feelings and let cry, he stands behind her now and comforts her, putting his hand on her shoulder... Or would have if not for the knock at the door, seems the bar maid had some clothing for Cebra. Cebra curls his hand back to his side before Rai can see his intention and approaches Mariza.

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