Bog's World

Altogether elsewhere

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Arriving in Immoren - Kamilata

Kamilata found himself alone. He peered into the darkness through the branches of the wood or forest he was in and noted the position of the stars through the branches of the trees. They were not one’s he recognised. He counts two moons and the shadow of a third, smaller dark moon. Still a little disorientated from the teleport spiral, he sat down where he was. He waits for it to pass, waits for the others to show up. An hour passes. Nothing happens and nobody comes and so he moves off, pausing to note the changes in position of the stars in relation to the branches when he was stood on the same spot. So, he knew which way the sky revolved, even if he didn’t yet know morning from evening.

Coming to a cliff edge, he dropped Lafe Marlow’s gear on to the ground. It was back in Immorean, which was the idea. He couldn’t afford to carry this much useless junk around. With one foot, he deliberately overbalanced it so the entire bundle rolled off the edge. Someone was watching as he tipped the mechanika into the mine. He glanced over at the fierce looking girl in leathers in the distance. Dogs at her heels, she turned away and walked back into the woods leaving Kamilata alone with the view. It was a vast reeking fumerole, an open cast lignite mine. Smoke rose up from various places where careless men had left fires and it was still smouldering, deep underground. Tens of miles had been brutally torn up to source the second class coal substitute.

Kamilata turned and re-entered the wood at the same point at which the girl disappeared. Soon he found a stream and wandered downstream and comes to logging operation. For the first time he saw for real the Steamjacks described in Kelkess’ journals. With circular saws and huge grasping claws they chopped down mature trees in minutes. Birds and animals fled leaving a desolate sea of stumps. The cacophony and greed of logging with such an unholy hunger stunned Kamilata. In a daze he wandered through the wasteland, ignored by programmed Steamjacks and lumberjacks with quotas to fill.

He came out on to a road. It wasn’t hard to see that the road had been driven to enable the tree felling. Turning towards town and almost straight away comes to a scrap metal dump. Leechates and rust contaminate the ground. Kamilata meets some small (4’ or so, so not exactly diminutive, but not huge either) goblin like creatures. Warily he goes to pass them. Hearing one of them speak Cygnarian as he passes he turns back. Engaging them in conversation (now it’s their turn to be wary as he is big and well armed) he learns that they are gobber ‘bodgers’. A sub culture of scavengers and mechanikal odd-jobbers. Incredulous, when they describe the town to him, he turns back for the forest.

As he entered the forest once more he thought he felt the spirit of Carnun within himself. The next day, he awakes to find himself sharing his camp with a blackrobe. Immediately thinking of Kelkess Raccoba, he arms himself. But of course it is not him. The new comer is Baldur Stonecleaver. After half an hour, Kamilata gets the impression that the man is more of a druid than a mage. Baldur claims he was born in a bear cave near Boarsgate, there is a definite rough to his features and hulking frame. The Stonecleaver is a paragon of the earth-shaping path of druidic magic—he has a deep understanding of stone, earth, and the forest.

They spend a week talking about the place of man within nature. With the awareness at the back of his mind that he’s here to do a job, Kamilata elects to search for both his erstwhile companions and Kelkess Raccoba in the untracked wildernesses of Western Immorean.

For over six months, Kamilata lives on his own in the forests, hunting, communing with nature and watching the passing of the seasons. He falls in to tune with nature’s rhythms. He is not surprised when the girl he first saw appears again, although they are many hundreds of miles south of where he arrived. On a whim, he resolved to follow her and pack of two headed dogs. The journey takes six weeks and ends far to the south.

Kaya shook her head, trying to concentrate. The air held a strange vibrancy, a smell in the air like that which followed lightening. And the colours of the landscape were particularly bright, as if a storm had left the air startlingly clear. The ground trembled below her feet, and there was a hint of sound beyond hearing, felt as a pressure on her chest. Those gathered behind her had initiated a great druidic ceremony, its power spreading outward like ripples on a lake.

She felt some resentment about being tasked to watch the perimeter rather than being included in the ceremony. Today was a rare astronomical conjunction which enabled the Circle of Orbos to harmonise several truly ancient standing stones, inactive for decades. Her selection as guardian was an honour, a sign of trust, particularly as this region was unstable and interlopers were a distinct possibility. Nonetheless, she wished that she could have participated directly.

The landscape here north of the Hawksmere River amongst the foothills extending west from Mount Shyleth Breen was unfamiliar and vaguely disquieting. This was natural amongst the borderlands. The air was dry, a function of the closeness of the Bloodstone Marches, apparent in the bands of reddish clay across the nearby hills, the twisted and stunted trees to the south.

Bloodstone Marches are a daunting and significant region adjacent to the Iron Kingdoms, one that has drawn recent attention by current events. Situated north of the Protectorate theocracy and east of Cygnar, this land is dry and harsh. Thin forests quickly give way to spires of reddish rock, baked earth, and blowing sand. The land is hostile and so seemingly worthless that little exploration has been done to date, and the few brave adventurers who have attempted to cross the desert have never come back. The common wisdom is that the Bloodstone Marches are an unbreakable barrier, and what lies beyond is surely not worth the price of the crossing. It is for this reason that little is known of eastern Immoren.

Behind Kaya was a grove perfectly sheltered by gently sloping hills, water by a stream that eventually joined the Hawksmere. This had long been a fulcrum of special power, long and resolutely guarded by the Circle.

Her small argus[1] pack was spread along the perimeter, scenting for danger. A warpwolf named Kastor also joined her patrol. She had fought beside him for several months but still did not feel comfortable speaking to him when he was in his human form, as his mind was then caught somewhere between man and beast, disjointed and often irrational. In battle, however, he was a creature of fearsomely vicious instincts.

Kaya frowned as she sensed that Kastor had picked up on some unusual scent. She was too far away to follow his thoughts, but set out in that direction. She let loose a mental call to her argus and gathered a cloak of mist to hide them all from prying eyes.

Master Tormentor Morghoul was scouting north of the main Skorne advance, seeking a good resupply point for the invasion force. It seemed to him that the Archdomina had made a mistake trying to break through south of the great lake, where they had encountered fierce trollkin resistance. For this reason he was investigating the lay of the land further north, seeing if he could find a suitable position that might serve as a watch point or marching camp for a flanking Cohort.

He was accompanied by two Cyclopes. Some distance behind them was a lumbering Titan. Master Tormentor Morghoul had become weary of waiting for its advance and had impatiently outpaced it. As he climbed down the incline towards the tree line a movement caught his eye, a lurking shadow. With a wave of his hand he brought up his two over sized monocular guardians, feeling a surge of exhilaration and a familiar battle itch.

Kaya cursed as Kastor charged with a blood curdling howl, not heeding her mental command (pleading) to wait. His body shifted and blurred from the forest, hulking to double and then triple his body mass, fur sprouting along twisted limbs whilst muscles rippled and horned spikes grew from his flesh.

The objects of his rage were three heavily armoured figures, decked out in red and gold. Two wore visored helms that appeared to have only one central eye-slit. They were considerably larger that the third figure who was unusually armed with long clawed gloves. The warpwolf threw himself at one of the larger figures, his claws a violent blur. After latching on with both claws, Kastor lunged forwards with slavering jaws to chomp on the creatures neck, throwing his head back with a spray of blood.

The creature staggered but did not fall, its life being saved apparently by its heavy helm and armour. The other cyclopean creature tried to intervene, chopping downwards with its great curved sword. Kaya knew Kastor to be hyperaware and nimble, yet the cyclops seemed to anticipate his evasion, shifting his stance mid swing to inflict a grievous wound on the warpwolf. Meanwhile the third figure swiftly closed, poised to deliver a finishing blow.

Again Kaya cursed under her breath, her argus raced to her, but were still fifty yards behind, they would be too late. She reached across the space between herself and the melee, opening a portal. In one step she had appeared near the injured warpwolf and behind the strange armoured figure. She realised that he was taller than she’d expected, only to be dwarfed by the cyclopean figures. There was also something disturbingly graceful about the way he moved. Too late to second guess her attack, though.

She swept her wooden staff with all the strength she could muster, cracking in to the legs of the red garbed figure with a retort like a gunshot, flooring him. Thinking him a normal soldier she swung again to finish him off; The staff connected with another brutal crack, but there was no sign of injury, one of the cyclops battling the warpwolf grunted and backed up a step instead. Working out that the injury had been deflected from the master to the servant, she wondered how she would be able to defeat him.

He smiled at her with strangely pointed teeth and then leapt nimbly to his feet, his clawed hands flicking towards her in a series of attacks so blindingly fast that her eyes could not follow. She tried to intercept with her staff but her efforts felt slow and clumsy next to his speed. Pain exploded along both of her sides and in both legs, She stumbled back, eyes wide, each cut had not penetrated deeply, yet she had been skewered and sliced half a dozen times. Her foe’s metal tipped fingers dripped with her fresh blood.

From the corner of her eye she saw something massive and terrible charging across the dusty ground, a great armoured beast with huge tusks, the ground now really did shake as it advanced, letting loose a trumpeting bellow.

She gritted her teeth and drew on the strength of her beasts as the two argus raced past her with a howl. Unleashing her own feral cry, she hurled this gathered power into her grinning foe, a ghostly fang of raw power that exploded in his chest and made him stagger back. She raised her staff, a determined gleam in her eye, vowing that nothing would live to get past her and disrupt the ceremony that she had been trusted to guard.

Kamilata watched the battle of attrition for less than a minute. He noted that the wounds inflicted on the leader of the armoured figures were visited upon the one eyed guardians, he noted as well that the for all their fury, Kaya and her pack were disadvantaged by the Cyclops’ seeming pre-cognisance and the heavy armour worn by all four.

Seeing a fifth armoured figure enter the fray, Kaya’s heart sank. When the large shield slammed into a wounded Cyclops she assumed that it was an error, it was only as the newcomer delivered his coup de grace to the prone Cyclops that she noted his black and silver. The death of the Cyclope also seemed to slow down her opponent a little.

Leaving the second Cyclope to the wounded warpwolf, Kamilata headed for the Titan. The argus could usefully engage it if they could be allowed to close with it, it wasn’t armoured all over. However, they could not get past its four swinging arms.

Later he would regret his actions as painfully optimistic. He closed to melee with a creature weighing as much as ten men. It battered his shield, destroying it in three blows, his spear blunted against its armour and was snapped by its tusks. His armour was further ruined (but it did save his life), as it struck him two hard blows, even as it toppled, hamstrung by the argus.

He passed out, only to come ‘round later with his head on Kaya’s lap. He was still bruised, but his potentially life threatening crush injuries appeared to have been healed. She smiled at him. “Lie still, you’re still hurt.” The small amount of movement he’d managed elicited an involuntary pained grunt. He lay back down. “I knew someone had been following me. And I did wonder who and why. But a girl with a purpose has places to be. At least I know now that you are friendly.” She frowned. “You are friendly, aren’t you ? You didn’t save my warpack for some darker purpose ?” Kamilata had no idea. With his good arm, he reached up and pulled her face down to his and kissed her. It just seemed natural.

And so Kamilata became a warrior for the Circle of Orbos. A mysterious and secretive group, few know of this ancient order of druids. Though few in numbers, they wield great power and influence wherever the shadow of the wilderness falls. Capable of summoning the forces of the storm and stone, their will is rarely contested.

There is no more mysterious a group in western Immoren than the Blackclad druids. They name themselves the Circle Orboros, shortened among outsiders to simply “the Circle.” They are an ancient order of those who have answered the wilding, hearing the voices of the wilderness, the call of beasts, and storm.

Druids are linked in spirit to the Beast of All Shapes—the father of predators and the embodiment of natural destruction. They do not serve the Devourer as priests, for theirs is a less worshipful yet more intimate relationship. They revere this god by its secret name of power: Orboros. This name describes a serpent swallowing its tail, signifying infinity, endless power, and the reach of nature that encircles Caen. Outfitted in newly made leather armour[2] , he teaches the other warriors[3] as Kaya (the druidess) leads their attacks. Always in balance, they achieve their aim. But like any other force of nature, they left men dead and bereft of their wits in their wake.

Kaya has an innate mastery over the beasts of her pack. She was invariably accompanied by a pair of Argus (two headed dogs) and a warpwolf who she would augment with sorcery before a fight. Kaya and Kamilata became intensely loyal to each other. Of their small band of guerrillas, of their pack, they were the alpha pair. Their personal relationship followed along these animal lines. Kaya and Kamilata were always slightly wary of each other – not physically, emotionally perhaps. But they definitely had chemistry.

Eventually word came that the Circle of Orbos needed its warriors elsewhere. Their leaders had been playing the trollkin for fools and their manipulations were back firing. They set out together. On their way to reach the Black River Kamilata detects Torendra, on horse back, moving down stream. The moment they both knew would come had arrived at last. After four months together Kaya and Kamilata share one last embrace and wordlessly part company.

Kamilata feels his heart sink as he watches her go. The last of the leaves fall from the trees. With a sigh, he takes up his spear and turns south[4] , following the last of the geese. And Torendra.

[1] The Argus is the large, two headed dog of Western Immorean. Whether the result of a mad magical experiment, some sort of quasi-magical pollution or naturally occurring is a matter of conjecture. Kaya’s are enhanced by a modicum of studded leather armour. They have a doppler bark, which can stunn the unwary.
[2] Made from a creature known as a gorax, to replace his metallic carapace and shield ruined in the fight with the Skorne paingiver and his warbeasts.
[3] The “Wolves of Orbos” hunting packs of men that employed against the enemies of the druidic order. Each Wolf masters the cleft-bladed spear, a piercing weapon designed to punch through thick hides and armour. They must prove skill with this weapon and the ability to survive in the wilds to earn initiation to this ancient cabal.
[4] During this journey he meets and slays an undead elf whose name he later learns is Sarlos. But that’s another story….

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