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BotRE Sea1/Ep2 'Waking the Sleeping Dead'


Nina
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The Barbarian and his friends had traveled many days from their last adventure when they had come upon a wide swampy bog on their way to a mountain retreat that supposedly held many wonders and might be able to tell them what the book was and who those depicted in it were.

 

Crossing the bog had been difficult as it was full of treacherous paths that led to bottomless pits of quicksand, and they had been under merciless assault by various bugs and flying insects all wanting to eat them.

 

Sleeping in the bog had been a nightmare and this morning they had risen tired, hungry, and cranky. And already the insects were out…

 

The insects dived at them almost constantly, Slug didn’t mind they were tasty but everyone else was miserable. It didn’t help that every so often they herd the crackle and pop as their newest band mate fried the insects attacking her with her mind leaving her relatively unbothered, and she had become a favorite of Slug as well, to Aazea’s consternation. The fried bugs were crispy and crunchy and had a nice aroma that made his mouth water.

 

Fi who had been scouting signaled the rest to halt she had seen something that might warrant further investigation. She went ahead alone to see if it was what she believed and was proven right. She had discovered the remnants of an ancient road. Not a path made by the wheels of carts and wagons but a real road made of the stone that was not rock, what she saw was a road way the stood on thick pillars  that wound through the bog a dozen lengths above the soft sucking ground. The twisted cypress trees grew tall around It and over it shielding it from the air. These old paths four times as wide as any wagon trail often led to ancient ruined cities that could hold amazing treasures. And this road wasn’t on their map!

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"If it will get us away from these accursed insects, let's follow it.  I can't imagine most of us being in a worse general mood than we all are."  Korroth said with a tired tone to his deep voice.   This was a rare time he wished he had on more clothing, but still, They spent so long being miserable it took effort to not snap at each other over even small things.   Of course, Temple zapped any bug near her so she was mostly fine, but that didn't hold true for the rest of them.

He chuckled as he looked back at her, and Slug riding on her.  "Looks like your furry friend found a new ride."  he lightly teased Aazaea.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Fi's eyes brightened with excitement at the discovery of raised man-rock road. It would make traversing through the bog much easier. It with it not being noted on their map, there was a greater chance to find treasures not yet plundered. She raised her boltcaster, studying the road and trees for dangers. A great beast or twisted mutant could be using the ancient road as a hunting ground.

 

If one were, Fi saw no immediate sign of it and really, the risk was worth potential reward. Especially if it got them through the detestable bog all the swifter. Firanis loved exploring, traveling, going to new places... but she seen enough of the muggy swamp to last her for quite some time.

Fi slapped at her neck, lips twisting at the sight of crushed bug and blood on her hand. She rubbed them off on her work pants and then skulked back to the rest of the party, a lightness in her step and in her eyes.

"The mood, I am having something to raise it!" Fi claimed, catching Korroth's comment as she returned, a wide grin on her face. She pointed over her shoulder with her boltcaster. "There is one of the Old Roads, from before the world broke. It looks sturdy yet, and we can make swift way with our boots above the muck. And more, perhaps, find it leads us to ruins unspoiled."

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  • 2 weeks later...

With some difficulty the party of adventurers clambered up the foliage and gained the top of what Firanis called a road.

 

The surface was cracked but stable and if one came close to the edges offered a good vantage point to look out over the swamp beyond. Also, for some reason, the bugs which had plagued them below seemed not to chase them along this lofty pass.

 

While weeds plants and vines had grown up and onto the road via clinging the pillar like legs holding it above the swampy waters, the vegetation had not fully engulfed the fairway but was only gathered at he edges and the first few feet on either side leaving the wide center clear of living obstruction. There were however many other obstacles. Large metal skeletons, rusty and twisted from age and whatever force had killed them and their occupants. Yes I said occupants for many held the skeletons of men on their insides. Mostly small piles of bones and skulls but a few showed to be nearly intact.

 

Our adventurers made their solemn way along the ancient hi-way and travel was much quicker and dare I say, safer. Many miles were covered but still the swamp lay on either side and looked to go one for many more miles. It was late the sun overhead had dropped to within a couple of hands from tops of the trees when Firanis called a halt. She approached the side of the roadway and after some poking pulled away a large section of overgrowth that served to camouflage and ramp leading off the upper road to a road on the surface which ran off into the swamp in another direction.

 

Spoiler

what do you do?

 

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"Camping on the road might be appealing, if only due to the lack of insects, but perhaps we should take this path downward, and see if there is somewhere more appropriate."  Korroth said quietly.  "We can always come back up if there is no shelter there, besides, We have traveled long and far, the horses are tired, and would probably like to be fed by now."

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The remains of the odd metallic beasts were a disappointment. Little more than bones, nothing of particular use to salvage, not even to patch Pat. Very strange that the people from before the world was broken seemed to ride inside them, instead of on top of them. Unless they were being digested and the metal beasts had died later?

Fi did manage to find something of use inside one of the beasts, though she wasn't sure if it was in its front or back. Among detritus of decayed fibers and steel rendered down to flakes of rust, she recovered a good length of rope, perhaps ten times her height in length. Not fibrous like other other rope, it seemed to all of a piece, smooth, sturdy but with good stretch, multicoloured too. She had coiled it up and attached it to her pack with a leather loop.

Rope was always a good thing to have.

At Korroth's query, Firanis looked down the elevated path, then down the slope towards the bog, and back. The elevated road was certainly getting them through the stinking bog with alacrity. But who knew what secrets the swamp hid in its depths? And the slope did appear to down to another solid path through the swamp.

"No insects, but no shelter above," the tall, lean young woman agreed, nodding down at her barbarous companion. "Down, we have more chance to find a better camp, better forage, us. Maybe secrets the swamp has been hiding since the moon rode the night. Yes, we go below says me. As you are saying Korroth, we can always come back, us."

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Aazea, who'd been riding atop Korroth's shoulders, hopped clear of the hulking warrior. In doing so she nearly dislodged Slug from her own shoulder. The birret cheeped irritably and started flying around in lazy circles, landing every so often to sniff and nibble at the new and strange things in the environment.

 

The diminutive green sorceress poked around at one of the ancient steel beasts but quickly came to the same conclusion Firanis had; they were interesting and mysterious, but didn't have anything of material value to them. Even if the metal might be something that could be used, prying it out and carrying it around was something she didn't want to burden Korroth yet just now. The time was not yet.

 

"It's yuckier beneath," Aazea noted, on going to the edge of the ancient elevated road and peering down into the bog below. "Mud and goop. We should stay up here! It's dry! And...you can see the sky! And...it's cooler?"

 

That last was a bit of an exaggeration. There was a breeze sometimes, but in this humidity and heat the breeze had very little refreshment to offer.

 

"There's probably ollygators down there!" she added, wide-eyed. "We're safer here!"

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Both Korroth, who was flexing his shoulder, Aazea wasn't heavy but still, and Fi, gave Aazea a look which showed mild annoyance.

 

Korroth shook his head, “It will be time to make camp and I would feel better if we had cover just in case, plus we need wood for cooking.” He gestured around at plants weeds and vines, but no real wood.

 

While Korroth was arguing with Aazea, Fi had begun to clear the ramp and after pulling more of the growth away made a discovery. “Some ones, not us, Was trying to hide this way down.”

 

It took a little more convincing and even the threat of leaving her to get Azea to agree, but in the end the four humans and the robot descended the ramp and the other road.

 

While attempts to mask the road had been made Fi easily found the way and in only a couple of hands of time they found where the road led, not to a ruined city, but to a walled fortress nestled on a hill in the swamp. Though distant from the wall our adventurers could see windows and light shining from them in the twilight.

 

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"Shall we impose on their hospitality?   Do we have anything we might barter in exchange for it?"  Korroth asked quietly.   They were far from beggars, but their resources were indeed finite.  Sleeping inside was something that'd do them good, if they were permitted entry, and he shrugged.   They could simply march up and ask, but that was deemed rude even among barbarian cultures.   It was proper to have at least some token to exchange for the hospitality of a night.

He knew he had some coin, but not so much as to cover everyone if they truly wished to not have visitors.

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Firanis' eyes brightened at the sight of the edifice. To find such in the middle of a great bog in so good condition spoke of all sorts of possibilities, even - or especially! - if it was inhabited. She turned to look at the tiny green sorceress and stuck out her tongue as she waved a hand in presentation towards the sprawling building.

 

"Now, this is being better than nesting under a tree in the bog or sitting out in the open on the bridge, no, little Zee?"

Fi brushed her fingers through her magenta hair then nodded at Korroth, bouncing in her toes animatedly. "Indeed! Impose away, if there are even those within to impose upon. These ancient places, sometimes the lightning lives on inside their walls with none needed to put it there."

She pulled her pack off her back to rummage through it. "If trade is needed, I have... an ancient voice box that still makes voices, that fine rope I found on the way here, the picture book, and about 17 blues. Oh, and we still have a sunray thrower."

Fi slung the pack back onto her shoulders, and limbered her boltcaster. "But first, we needing to see if there are any there to contest our use, yes?"

And with that, the tall, lean Strange One began slinking towards the fortress with a long-legged, weaving gait.

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  • 3 weeks later...

As Fi approached she saw places on the top of the wall, which was about the same height as three persons, where guards could watch  but she saw no one in those spots or anywhere along the wall.

 

The gate that she approached looked odd to her, it looked like it was actually two gates. The first was of bars of metal which stood about two persons in height and right behind it was a second gate also of metal but taller about two and a half persons in height. Both were closed.

 

Sh slowed when she noticed movement on the wall, near one of the parapets, there was a cylinder a few fingers in thickness than jutted up from the wall it was only a couple of hands high, and it turned towards her as she walked. The top of the cylinder was curved and had an opening in if which caught the waning light.

 

“Halt!”

 

The voice rang out sounding hollow as if it was coming out of a cave or something. “Identify yourself and your reason for approaching the Academy. And have your friends come out of the trees where we can see them.” It also sounded young.

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Korroth came from the treeline sword on his back and looked up. "We are Travelers, seeking lodging for the night.   We mean no harm, and to our ken, bring none with us."  It was a common statement of intention, that they didn't came in peace, and were not criminals.   

Even as a Barbarian, Korroth knew the value of not always having to camp outside, of getting to stay somewhere nice and comfortable.   After hiking as they had, he knew they could all do with at least one night of comfort.

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Fi eyed the cylinder suspiciously as it swivelled her way, recalling the emerald eye above the sorcerer's cave and wondering if this device might be similar. But her curiosity grew as she heard the young voice, finding out the structure wasn't abandoned, and now wanting even more to explore and discover what this place might be.

Fi slung her boltcaster onto her back and clapped Korroth on the shoulder. "As my friend says, a place dry after trudging through this great and ubo wet swamp, it is being appreciated. Firanis Flux, me," she said cheerfully, pointing at herself with a thumb and looking up towards the odd cylinder, not seeing anything else likely to direct her gaze. "And this word, Ka-Da-Me, am I not knowing it. What is this place? Perhaps, we can trade, knowing for knowing."

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Several moments passed after Korroth and Fi spoke then the voice came again. "Your vernacular is strange, but do I gather correctly that you seek knowledge and have trade?"

 

The voice was different, it still sounded hollow, like an echo, but it sounded, somehow, more mature...

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"Both would be things we would welcome, yes."   Korroth answered.  He had no idea what they'd ask for in exchange, but he wasn't going to make an offer standing outside like they were.

He looked to the others.  "Anything to add?"

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

"Yes!" blurted Aazea suddenly. She scampered up Korroth's back and latched her legs around his neck to sit behind his head in a not-completely comfortable manner, though she was careful not to actually grip tight enough to choke him or anything. Not that she was likely strong enough to try.

 

She gestured with her staff then.

 

"I am AAZEA! I command the wisdom and might of the ANCIENTS! And...and..." here the green-skinned sorceress faltered slightly, intuiting that her usual blustering probably wouldn't work here. "...and I offer knowledge for knowledge! Power for power! For we have journeyed FAR and learned MUCH that is hidden to you behind your walls!"

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There is muffled shouting beyond the wall and a minute or so after Aazea shouted the gate is unbarred and swung open.

 

The road continues trough the gate and on the a distant group of buildings of ancient architecture but in remarkable shape. The grounds that the road passes through the building is well maintained with mown lawns and small copes of trees. There are even some hills. On one of the hills is a tall pole with ropes running up it. Probably for hanging criminals you think.

 

Standin inside the gat lining the road on either side are about a dozen boys from the ages of 8 or 9 to young adult. The boys are all dressed alike with gray tunics and trousers and black shoes. The are also carrying funny looking long arms and one boy mid teens who is at the gate armed with a slender curved sword with which he salutes you.

 

“Welcome to Baryton Milty Academy. ”

 

As soon as the party passes through the gate two boys shut and bar it. The sword bearer calls for your attention, “If you will follow me I’ll tack you to the comdant.”

The group walks up the road to the distant buildings where many more boys and a few girls are all lined up in rows outside in a large open area before the building. None of them are armed, but there are several boys with the slender swords who seem to be directing them. There is one adult that you see. He is wearing the same sort of clothing and is armed with a sword.

 

“Welcome travelers I am Camdant Merble I hope we can make your stay comfortable and beneficial to both of us.”

 

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Firanis looked around in avid curiosity, even walking backwards at times to glance longer at something she'd missed. There was much more to the place beyond the gate than she'd been expecting, and a strange place it was. So many younglings, all dressed so much alike they almost looked like a clan of automatons, but made of flesh. And so much steel, clean and rust free. Where did they get it? The tall, lanky young woman really wanted to get her hands on one. Those odd long arms they carried seemed somewhat like her boltcaster, though without the cogs and pulleys that propelled the bolts.

"I too, me, Firanis Flux, " Fi replied, agreeing and introducing herself to the Camdant Merble. "What is this place?" she asked in wonder. Baryton Milty Academy may have been its name, but it gave her no hint of its purpose to her. "A strange village this, never seen its like, me. So many boys and girls, so few men and women."

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Korroth nodded in respect to their host, and the Camdant of the Academy.  "Thank you for the welcome, Camdant, we all hope this is beneficial for us."
 

He smiled at the Camdant, and nodded. "I have never seen so many young men and women, act with such precision and uniformity at such a young age.  Your training must be thorough and intense."

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The Camdant nodded, and with a sweeping gesture of his arm toward the buildings, "There are more adults, the factuls, it is after Retreat and the normal evening meal so most of them have retired to their quarters. The young ones are the studts, they perform watches and other duties, under supervision of course.

 

We are the  most prestigious Miltry Academy in existence and can trace our history to the very dawn of time. Our Studts are proud of their school and show it in their loyalty and bearing."

 

He leads them into one of the buildings, "This is the guest quarters, Corporal Gange will assign you rooms and show you where the facilities are. Do you require separate for male and female?  No? good. After you freshen up Gange will take you to the Mess and we'll feed you. I'll see you there."

 

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"Thank you Camdant, we will see you then."  when the Camdant left them in the care of Corporal Gange, he nodded to him.  "Please, lead the way."

As they were shown around, Korroth smiled thinly.  "Will you be waiting for us, or is there a method for us to use to call for you when we are ready to attend the meal?"

Korroth was showing a respectable amount of decorum for a Barbarian, he wasn't sure of this place, but they had asked for hospitality and were receiving it, so it was proper to behave like a civilized person.

 

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"Nevermind that!" Aazea snapped at Gange. She shook a finger at him to make sure she had his attention. "If this place is so old, then you will have much to trade with! When will we see the Old Science you have hoarded here?? Your masters will be very interested in the knowledge we have, oh yes..." She grinned.

 

"You tell them that, when you see them. Verdant Aazea, to whom the mighty SLUG bows to, is intrigued by this place, and will consider an exchange of knowledge...if your secrets are succulent enough!"

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Cpl Gange was a skinny boy probably about seventeen years old, his grey uniform was immaculate with stripes and pins and gold embroidery. He wore a belt with a holstered weapon of a type they couldn’t make out except for the handle which looked like the handle ray gun thay had found.

He led them to a large room with a half dozen bends, a chest at the foot of each one and alocker behind them as well. At Korroths question , he showed them a cone shaped  device connected to a tube near the door. “Just take the cone off and hold it in front of your mouth and speak into it. I’ll be at the CoQ desk and will hear it and either speake back,” he points at a grill by where the cone hangs, “my voice will come through there. If you don’t hear anything it will mean I’m on my way up.”

 

He then shows you were the facilities are, which includes a common shower with sixteen shower heads, and several toilets which when asked what they were he explains.

 

After taking you back to your room he points at the grill. “When your ready to eat just call me and I’ll come get you and take you to the mess.”

 

6 hours ago, Aazea said:

"Nevermind that!" Aazea snapped at Gange. She shook a finger at him to make sure she had his attention. "If this place is so old, then you will have much to trade with! When will we see the Old Science you have hoarded here?? Your masters will be very interested in the knowledge we have, oh yes..." She grinned.

 

"You tell them that, when you see them. Verdant Aazea, to whom the mighty SLUG bows to, is intrigued by this place, and will consider an exchange of knowledge...if your secrets are succulent enough!"

 

Gange stares at the little green girl, a look of fear and what was that, disgust, maybe, crosses over his face, “Uhm… I’m sure the structors and the Camdant will take care of all of that,” he manages to sputter. Call me when you’re ready to eat.” Then he hightailes it aout of the barracks room and vanishes down the hall.

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Firanis snickered from the 'facilities' as Aazea's grandiosity chased the Corporal boy away. Boy? Well, he was about her age or maybe a cycle or two younger, Fi thought,but he was much shorter and seemed younger still. She didn't think he'd traveled much, but she was quite impressed with how cleaned and new all their clothing looked. Hers were much worn and much mended and seemed to cling to a protective coating of grime despite her infrequent attempts at washing.

The others in the main room, Fi was busy inspecting the 'facilities'. She had heard and seen places before that held small rivers within the walls, with clever little dams to release the water for use. She was a somewhat dubious of the 'toilet'. Very convenient, whisking the waste away, though she hoped it didn't join the rivers that fed the other things.

Promptly, she striped to her skin, bundling her clothes underneath one of the bowls below a mirror - so many mirrors, here - a wide smile on her mobile, triangular face. The 'shower' was very intriguing indeed. Like summoning a light rain whenever you wished. She slouched some - the Strange Ones of her home village were tall, slender folk - to get her head below the round metal grill from which the rain issued. There were two knobs that called the rain, but Corporal hadn't explained further. But one knob had a ring of blue around a marking, the other a ring of red. Her smile showed teeth. Red always meant something interesting.

Fi turned the knob with the ring of red and the rain came. She chortled in delight and let it flow over her. But cold at first, the water quickly grew warm, then hot! She yowled and skittered back on the slick tiles. She glared at the water, then hissed. She darted forward and shut off the rain. She tried the other knob, with the ring of blue. Rain again, though cold, almost ice. She tried the red knob again. 

 

"Aha!" Fi crowed. "Red like fire, it warms the rain." Pleased with herself, she began washing, even using the viscous, scented liquid Corporal had pointed out as some manner of soap. It was a... sort of blue? She called out to the others, her voice echoing oddly off the tile. "Why would they call us to a mess to eat, when this place, it is so clean and orderly?"

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