The stingea were crawling over one another to be the first to plunge their crooked teeth into the damn adventures.
Kollkie swung out with her long sword and managed to wound one of the pug uglies but the brash swords-woman had run on ahead, thinking she was doom incarnate.
On all sides the stingea attacked the lone Wood Elf.
Creations of the dreaded Formori, the stingea were horrible little goat molesters. Instead of skin, their bodies were coated in scabs and scar tissue. Much like piranha they relied on numbers to swarmed, but unlike the tiny fish, their touch contained hordes of diseases.
In the background, a cloaked individual was getting into position, “Okay, Kollkie, just a little bit longer.” the cloaked figure said and let lose his arrow.
The arrow passed straight into the closest stingea’s swollen eye and it let out a final awful scream before it fell to the ground.
The victory was a short one as another stingea quickly took up its friend’s place. Worse, the assassin had lost the element of surprise and became a target for the rest of the six little monsters.
“Tell me where your master is?” Kollkie shouted, her shield and armour barely holding up against the storm of blows, but her cries were not directed at the stingea.
Over the stingea’s screams of pain and frustration. The joyful sound of a fiddle could be heard, and above the playful melody, Lez managed to say, “Lieutenant. Perhaps if you concentrated on the game.”
Around the table the players were trying hard not to explode with frustration.
Techscope had put in a lot of work updating the player’s handbook to be more public relations friendly. This included investigating elven mythology and history, and then editing some of those antagonistic races.
Goblins it seemed were not as unfriendly as Tolkien had made them out to be, or at least their males weren’t. On the other side of the equation gnomes were evil little sods.
John had been fascinated to know that people in this world actually did put little gnome statues out in front of their houses. He then felt sick to his stomach when he discovered that the statues were covered with poison.
Gnomes it turns out couldn’t distinguish between wooden dolls with painted beards, and female gnomes. The little bastards would screw anything; cats, dogs, and even bears.
So Techscope’s nerd division swapped the gnome class for the goblin class. To balance the game out they then made goblins a playable race while gnomes were treated as the lowest class of monster.
John had prepared this dungeon himself, and had been prepared for a change in the player roster.
Soot, the halfling trader had left two days ago along with a cart full of synthetic fibres and a good ton of sugar. In his place was a representative of the Rihéo Galoge, otherwise known as the magic traders.
It seemed that somebody from the Academy had blabbed about there being a new civilisation nearby who had some spending money.
The Silth himself wore clothes that may have been flashy once but the road had taken its toll on the fabric and on the elf himself. From the way the Silth was murdering his roast lamb and gulping down the complementarily wine, he had seen far better days.
John like most of the staff of Techscope were more intrigued by the elf’s baubles and promises of magic elixirs, but they were all still highly sceptical and knew too much about such practises to be taken in by a door-to-door pedlar.
But much like what happened with Mr Soot, the last merchant, Techscope was willing to compromise to open up more trade roots and sources of revenue.
Sergeant McKellen, unfortunately, had also made a last minute change to the gaming roster.
Having heard of a bandit encampment on the far side of the island, Mr Black had decided to once again perform a recruitment drive, and McKellen had been tasked to make sure that the bandits didn’t do something stupid
Like trying to piss Mr Black off.
In the Sergeant’s place was the intense Lieutenant Kollkie, who was neither as silent nor as diplomatic as her superior.
John gestured to the Lieutenant’s die, “Please roll a check against disease.”
The Lieutenant picked up her oddly shaped die and callously them onto the board, not bothering to look at the outcome.
“How does she keep surviving?” Jessy shouted.
Sorie glanced at the Rihéo Galoge, “I wonder.” she said.
Lieutenant Kollkie kept her steel gaze on John, “How many people live in Techscope? What are your plans?”
A younger John would have found the she-elf captivating. A complexion that indicated she worked the outdoors, long midnight black hair, a sturdy body of a solider with decent curves. She also had this inner fire and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.
Unfortunately, John was marked as the lieutenant’s enemy due to him being associated with Techscope, which was also associated with a certain reckless individual.
“I’m not cleared to answer that.” John said, “Can we just concentrate on the game?”
“Enough of these games.” Kollkie said and used her hand to wipe away the figurines, spilling the contents of several mugs onto the game board and causing the players to push themselves back.
“Somebody want to get a pair of pliers and some WD40, and get the howling monkey out of the bitch’s ass?” Jessy called out.
Not in any mood to be made fun of, Kollkie easily lifted Jessy up by his collar and threw the teenager onto the table.
“Ow.” Jessy said, “Why do I keep forgetting that the women here are super strong?”
“You okay, Jessy?” John asked. It was a stupid question he knew, the Silth were incredibly strong and even a child that was Jessy’s age could rip door off a car.
For now the Lieutenant was only playing, but John knew that it would be incredibly easy for her to do permanent damage.
“My rogue’s poking into my ass.” Jessy whined.
Sorie giggled but quickly shook the laughter off.
The Lieutenant was going overboard, choosing now to host an interrogation session, but John wasn’t fooled for a moment that the Lieutenant would suddenly go berserk.
Discipline was a subject that was drilled into each and every Silth solider. Despite their lack of experience John had seen that even the soldiers around the dismal outposts that surrounded Techscope held an almost marine-like quality to them.
Lieutenant Kollkie was under clear orders and was willing to be punished for accepting those orders.
Already standing, Lez spoke in a warning tone, “Lieutenant.”
The sound of steel being drawn from nearby tables caused the players and the rest of the staff in the inn to freeze in place.
Due to the previous establishment being a bit on the cramped side, John had decided to change the venue to the Bellymore inn, which had seemed like the logical choice.
The inn was larger, held better food, and was cleaner than most similar places. John could also ask if the staff were happy and see if they needed any supplies or services.
He had intended to reserve the players in a private room, but Kollkie had overruled him.
The Lieutenant had kicked the other patrons out and placed a score of McKellen’s own men at key locations, each Silth was armed and not a one of them was drinking or eating.
They were not even trying to appear as if they were out for a break.
Kollkie had also recommended that the two Techscope employees be searched and be relieved of everything but their clothes.
John was just thankful that the impulsive teenager had only brought his phone and his gaming stuff.
Groaning, Jessy attempted to get off the table, but Kollkie was there to hold him back down.
Kollkie leaned over squirming teenager, “You will tell me everything.”
John looked to the other players, but even if Lez and Sorie were armed, he heavily doubted that either of them would pick him or Jessy over their own people.
John was impressed by the Lieutenant’s acting ability.
Though he was not the subject of her attention he could almost feel her cold eyes and grim expression on him.
Would she really physically harm he or Jessy? It was difficult to tell and not something he wanted to dare invoke.
“You will tell me everything.” Kollkie said in a way that made shivers run down John’s scalp. The Lieutenant could defiantly get a spot on a crime drama.
Jessy turned his head to John, “Is it odd that I have a ragging boner right now?”
John didn’t answer the teenager, instead he tried to plead with angry solider, “Lieutenant, this is completely unneeded. Un Neill and Techscope are not at war. We have not done anything to insight hostility.”
Kollkie seemed unimpressed, “Your master infiltrated a secret meeting and held nearly the head of every clan and guild hostage. You are selling us our own gold. How is this not an act of hostility?”
The older of the two Techs squirmed in his seat, “Um. I would like to point out, that I’m not part of the Gaming or Marketing sector.”
Chairs skidded away as the soldiers drew themselves from their tables and approached the party. John felt his world close around him as armed Silth surrounded the table.
“Um. Jessy’s part of the Gaming sector. He knows about stuff.” John said.
“You asshole. You’re throwing me under the bus!” Jessy exclaimed.
None at the table, except perhaps for Kollkie, liked where this was all going. Just the sound of over a dozen elven swords being pulled from their sheaths was enough to cause John’s sphincter to tighten.
John envisioned that this might turn out to be the most violent session of D&D he ever hosted and he secretly wished he had a +3 sword on hand. “Hey, she already hates you. There’s no reason for both of us to get beaten up, because you couldn’t shut up.”
Jessy sighed and held out his open palms in a gesture of surrender, “What do you want to know?”
Kollkie frowned and turned to John, he guessed that she expected this to be a bit more difficult.
“Go ahead, Lieutenant. You have us exactly where you want us.” John said.
“What are your base’s defences like?” Kollkie said.
Jessy didn’t bother to hesitate, “We have two hundred pylons set up within the jungle boundary that produce an ultra-high-frequency noise. Humans can’t hear it, but Silth and a lot of animals can. We designed it specifically so if you hear it you are far too close.”
The higher ups at Techscope thought it would be the most effective and humane solution.
Normal razor-wire fences were useless, there were not enough staff to effectively secure the perimeter, and all you needed to pass through the invisible wall was a noise cancellation devices or a set of gaming headphones.
Once they get close the Silth begin to feel headaches, then they suffer vertigo, then if they don’t get out of the area they start to bleed from their noise and ears. After that things more permanent and less fun.
Jessy continued, sounding pleased with himself, “But even if you got through the pylons there are about a million cameras and sensoring equipment. Those are like magic mirrors only one way and very small.”
Not to mention that those cameras were able to pick up things outside the visual spectrum, including inferred, ultraviolet, and kinetic energy.
“Get by all that and you got about a few hundred metal golems equipped with the latest in targeting and heavy ordinance. We’re taking explosives, siege weapons, machineguns.”
“Get by those and you got Techscope entrance way. That’s a synthetic nano-made glass. A substance that can, in theory, survive anything. The security system is state-of the art, but I guess you’ve got some magic in your arsenal.”
“What about teleportation?” Sorie said curiously.
“We have none.” John said not hiding the weakness.
Sorie tried to understand what she just heard, “Are you telling us, that I could just simply teleport myself into your stronghold, and you couldn’t stop me.”
Jessy laughed, “Yeah. A few assholes did that and managed to get inside the actual building.”
This caused the Silth to pause for a moment, soaking up this information.
Jessy continued, “Funny thing, they couldn’t teleport back. They kept throwing magic spells, and incantations, and cantrips at us, but nothing worked. We found out that Techscope is a no magic zone.”
John sat back in his chair, “We also found out that elven immune systems are boosted by a natural magic field. The wizards that we captured died within four hours from contracting a simple cold.”
The medical depart had tried everything to save the invaders but nothing had worked. Perhaps if they had gotten them outside of the jungle they might have gotten better, but by the time they figured the reason behind the teleporting wizards curious deaths it was too late.
Techscope was a roach-motel for elves, you check in but you don’t check out.
John could see that Lieutenant Kollkie was visibly shacking by now and he could guess to the reason of this. She and her superiors had thought that Techscope was a potential strategic resource that they could easily conquer, to learn that it was naturally toxic changed things.
“You’re lying.” Kollkie said firmly, not losing her grip on Jessy.
Jessy smirked and shifted his hand to Sorie, “Sorie. You got some illusion magic. Turn my hand blue or something.”
Sorie, a scholar much like John himself was eager for a test and didn’t bother to ask Kollkie for permission. She pointed her fingers at Jessy’s hand and mumbled a few things.
Next she created a small ball of fire in her hand. The flame was little larger than a candle flame and John guessed that such a spell would be useful for reading at night.
John was still jealous that he was unable to do such a feat. Ever since he was introduce to D&D he had wished he could summon a fireball, over time that fascination with the occult died down. But even in high school, John had always digested the idea of summoning a fireball and burning down the gym.
“Woah, wait.” Jessy said but was too late as Sorie passed the flame to Jessy’s hand.
Instead of exploding the puny fireball sizzled out, but not before leaving its mark on Jessy’s hand.
“Ack. Crap.” Jessy said sounding as if he had just had a hot poker shoved into his hand.
“I thought you said you were immune to magic.” The Lieutenant said.
“It’s fire.” Jessy said, stating the obvious.
Sorie dumbed the contents of her mug onto Jessy’s wound, “I am so sorry.” Sorie said.
“Magically lift a rock up and throw it at us, and we still have to deal with a falling rock.” John said. “But curses and magical barriers mean nothing to us. We are immune to some illusions. And a magical construct like a summoned horse, will dissolve if we so much as spit on it.”
The mage from Rihéo Galoge, who had been quiet until now, stroked his chin thoughtfully, “So, you are not immune to elemental magic. What about swords?”
John thought for a moment, it was a debate that was going with the Techscope’s fantasy loving staff members.
“We have no idea, but I guess we would be immune to cursed artefacts and the effects of sentient weapons. As long as the spell is on the blade and not the handle, we should be fine. We could walk around in a suit made of death magic and not be effected.”
Sorie shook her head, “Unbelievable.”
The building shook as a female Silth dressed in green plate pushed open the double doors of the inn, “Yes. It is unbelievable.” The newcomer said her voice strong and authorities.