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 A Ruining In Ratchet

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Phlegm

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Registration date : 2007-04-26

PostSubject: A Ruining In Ratchet   Mon 2 Jul - 12:41:26

A Ruining in Ratchet

We spent the night at Orc central, a very peaceful one too that passed almost entirely without incident. I slept extremely well until the little glitch occurred which accounts for the word ‘almost’ in my opening sentence.

Two dozen heavily armoured humans attacked the camp, opening fire with flaming arrows that effectively wiped out all our hosts apart from Lutzbar, a brute of a female.* Our prisoner seemed to be free too but then a huge net fired from a cannon dropped on us and our whole team was captive and helpless in an instant. Kark it seemed had powerful well informed orc hating friends.

*Interesting to note at this point though it went unremarked at the time: Our forsaken friend appeared to have a radical recasting during the night, re emerging as a female called Talia Eli

We awoke hours later in what looked suspiciously like one standard issue dungeon cell, undesirables for the incarceration of. We were all manacled except Plainsweaver who had been beaten unconscious in order to avoid the expense of a set of cuffs, XXXXL size. Grimgor was with us too, but both he and I had some kind of invisible magical restraint locked around our throats preventing any casting. The shaman, who draws his powers from inferior spiritual sources proved unaffected when he awoke. No doubt our adversaries saw the hulking Tauren as muscle only.*

*’Muscle Only’ available from all slightly dubious newsagents, but frankly not a patch on ‘Muscles For Men’ for the more discerning collector

Our deeply thought out and highly original escape plans were admittedly some hours from reaching their fully perfected form,* when a visitor arrived for a cosy little chat. A goblin, accompanied by two metal bodyguards entered the room. The mechanical monsters looked formidable and I wondered if they were the fabled iron golems of legend.

*Yep, no clue whatsoever, but in a couple of weeks I’m confident that we could have brought something to fruition

Then, quite a twist, the adorable little goblin scamp introduced himself as a representative of Muscles for Money, our beloved employers. He then proceeded to explain how we had breached our contract of employment with the agency by joining a mission in support of the Horde.

We very reasonably pointed out that: a) Nearly all of us were horde affiliated races b) We had been sent by Muscles for Money to the Horde camp and placed under Horde Command, which seemed a pretty pro – Horde stance on the part of our agency c) Given the mercenary nature of our job descriptions and skill sets, our recent assignment appeared entirely consistent with the purpose of our employment d) The janitorial aspects of our duties that the goblin seemed interested in emphasising had hitherto been unsuspected e) The unfeasibly small print to which the goblin referred seemed to be extremely dubious, if indeed it was genuinely extant at all.

The goblin seemed unmoved by our protestations but generously offered to gain us our freedom for the modest sum of 1000 gold coins, a very reasonable proposition given that we had been imprisoned in the course of our duties for said employer. We reluctantly agreed after much debate and left with him; and he and his henchbot bodyguards led us to where our belongings* were being held under guard.

*Anything we were not wearing that is, interestingly those of us wearing armour had retained it. Nice to be imprisoned by the over–confident, obviously our captors had never watched any episodes of the A-Team.

Unfortunately the monies we had amassed amounted to less than 800 coins and the goblin gleefully took this and returned us to our cell where we rejoined Ironhide who had remained behind. If I should meet this goblin again, I am resolved to settle a personal wager I placed with myself at that moment concerning the vexed question of the colour of his liver.

We rested in our no-star accommodation some hours longer before a further visitation: This time, it was Alex Proudmore, son of Darrian. Did I mention that our little goblin tyke had revealed that we were prisoners of the Admiral’s men and being held at Northwatch? No? Remiss of me, but gaol has always had an unsettling effect on my narrative powers.

It seemed we were to face trial by combat in a gladiatorial arena, doubtless for the delectation of a depraved audience of Alliance worthies. Puzzlingly, as we were led to our fate we passed a cell containing Kark Spineback, whose rescue it seemed had been more of an exchange of gaolers than release.

We entered the arena where over a hundred spectators had gathered to witness our no doubt horrible demise. Our weapons were there at least and the Tauren was able to shatter our manacles with his super strength, though his priorities left much to be desired.*

*Specifically his decision to free me last, after all we’ve been through together

Ironhide meanwhile had a total breakdown poor chap, cutting off his own hand which presumably had offended him in some manner. As his blood poured from the ragged stump of his arm he bathed his throat with it, crying as he did so that it would release the magical binding curtailing his powers.

I considered doing the same for about half a second, but concluded that my counting powers would probably be affected by this traumatic experience and retaining ten fingers would probably be helpful in that regard, with possible other long term benefits that I couldn’t concentrate on right now.*

*Fans of Anthony Aloitious Hancock will be delighted to learn that the amount required was very nearly two armfuls.

A circle of plate-armoured knights was closing on us slowly, drawing out the spectacle for the crowd, tightening a metaphorical steel noose around our plucky little group. Ironhide, possibly delirious with pain was hissing that he was about to blow an exit in the stadium wall for us and we should be ready to escape. The knights were heavily armed, but that made them slow, and reunited with our weapons we decided to go down making good use of them.

The troll, Fuq’ Witt was the only one of us to land a blow against the Alliance rebels and I took a nasty wound from my opponent that had me staggering. Suddenly, there was a shattering explosion that took all of us off our feet. Whether it was the orc’s promised pyrotechnics I couldn’t be sure, but it was a mighty coincidence if not. He shouted something about ensuring that we recover the papers that we had taken on our raid to make his sacrifice worthwhile. Yeah, whatever.

An unexpected side effect of the fiery blast was that anyone wearing metallic armour experienced a slightly agonising experience: Scalded cries went up from our opponents as their plate melted and fried all sixteen of them, and fried them good. So horrific was the smell that it put me off bacon for nearly half an hour. For our forsaken compadre it had a rather novel effect, fusing her armour to her body where it has actually formed a protective exoskeleton making Talia the possessor of the world’s first fully integrated built in personal defence system.

We picked ourselves up and advanced rapidly away from the enemy.* Beyond the gap in the wall through the clearing smoke was an outer courtyard containing stables and an armoured vehicle of some sort. There was also a curtain wall pierced by a large shut gate to which I would have applied with some relish the adjective ‘unguarded,’ were it not for the obvious presence of archers on battlements above.

*Did I mention I’m Italian?

These looked unhappy at our recent remodelling of the stadium: Perhaps they were part- time bricklayers angry at the extra shifts they’d have to pull repairing the damage, or disgruntled architects who preferred the cleaner lines of the previously intact structure to the new somewhat more organic rugged ruin look that we found far more agreeable.

We raced, or in my case limped to the stables and vehicle. Our gnome gestured that we should take the steam powered tank which would give us a means of defence and escape capable of dishing out some punishment. Our orc was grabbing horses and Plainsweaver leapt on top of the tank, which fortunately was built like a, well, tank, otherwise it might have collapsed under the weight of his considerable frame.

Talia and I made it inside the vehicle and Kasbo was already at the controls. His gnome skills kicked in and in seconds he had already mastered how to start and stall the monster. Impressive work! A few shouted instructions to me and I had the turret system working, I found the weapon’s trigger mechanism* and targeted the gate.

*It was a trigger. Fiendish goblin or gnome ingenuity no doubt

The tank successfully launched a projectile at the gate, destroying it utterly sending the archers running as their towers threatened to collapse. A few more shots, even the misdirected ones, spread death, destruction and confusion around Northwatch including a rather impressive direct hit wiping out half of our pursuers. Payback! No one imprisons the Great Cedrico and gets away Scott free!

We accelerated away at an impressive fifteen miles per hour; surely the gods never meant mankind to reach such speeds? Northwatch under its new pall of smoke looked worse than Crossroads on a Saturday night; it seemed no pursuit would be mounted for some time, if ever. We struck inland. Just one shell left was the bad news. Our new transport would probably be worth getting rid of as soon as possible as it would act like a very clear ‘Here we are!’ flag to the Alliance renegades.

Surprisingly, on finding our bearings we were only a few miles from the outpost where we had been taken. We headed to the nearby Goblin town of Ratchet where an impressive phalanx of metal monsters and their goblin masters met us at the city limits. Business-like as ever, the goblins began to make offers for the tank, however, the price offered fell as we haggled,* not helped by the engine choosing this moment to run out of whatever fuel it had been burning.

*Goblin haggling follows the rule that the longer you prevaricate, the more of their valuable time you are taking up, therefore the price they offer falls progressively until the goods become theirs anyway. The venerated Goblin Merchant of Legend, Snot Flashfleecer made his wealth by entering protracted negotiations that ended with vendors owing him vast sums which he then successfully claimed through the goblin courts.

Kasbo did however get up to some of his mischief as we negotiated, stealing the remote control from one of the two leading goblin merchants who seemed to each control about half of the mechanoid army. He tinkered with the control, deactivating half of the armada, including a number that were flying, or at least had been. The other goblin took immediate advantage over his now undefended competitor.

The negotiations had meanwhile been going badly, we ended up with far fewer coins than were initially offered, and most of these proved to be fakes. Our forsaken then decided to negotiate more effectively with free added violence a crucial part of our new improved offer. It was quite effective and we secured a far better outcome by this method, although admittedly fake coins were a substantial part of the money we received.

We entered town and in a series of trades re-equipped with basic provisions and equipment. Fortunately Ratchet was a cosmopolitan place where many merchants were not goblins and therefore were susceptible to the excellent quality goblin fakes. There were however several further incidents that may have drawn some attention to us:

Kasbo suffered an attempted mugging, driven off by yours truly with a well aimed blow. The miscreant dropped his bag containing would you believe a number of grenades and doses of poison that made my little friend’s day. Plainsweaver managed to upset a local troll practitioner of the dark arts by purifying her broth of deathsleep into tomato soup* and de-fanging her favourite killer snake. Talia, visiting a jeweller managed to acquire some free jewellery whilst the rest of the party distracted the dwarf stall-holder examining the magic items he had on offer.

*With he claimed, a hint of tarragon

One item of interest to me was a ring that the shopkeeper promised could drop a meteorite onto a target of your choice with no doubt hilarious results.* In exchange for a contribution from our modest gold stocks the dwarf would provide the command words for the thought-activated device. A one shot wonder, the sales dwarf assured me it was rechargeable, no doubt a feat possible for one of my greatness. There was also a dagger and wand, the latter particularly catching my interest too.

*Surprise your enemies and amaze your friend with the Acme Meteor Ring, new from Ronco.

Unknown to the hapless trader, we had a secret weapon: Plainsweaver could use his augury skills to identify the command word. He did, and in his moment of triumph he spoke them in his mind. Brilliant.

At this point a little detour to the harbour is in order. In dock were a large number of vessels including an impressive orc battleship.* Her timbers creaked gently as the veteran of dozens of sea battles rode on the gentle swell, much of its crew ashore being relieved of hard earned wages by the combined efforts of Ratchet’s merchants and certain orc-friendly service sectors of the local economy.

*The Retribution

The day watch were cursing their luck at still being aboard, sullenly carrying out the routine repair and cleaning duties beloved of naval watch officers whatever their race. Cooks were preparing meals, supplies were loading into the starboard secondary hold, a punishment drill was underway for a small squad of offenders from the previous night’s catalogue of crimes typically committed by members of any ship’s crew exposed to the delights of port after a long voyage.*

*The Retribution had been in port for three weeks and its previous voyage was for three days, testing some hull repairs, but hey, we’re talking about orcs here.

The lookout in the crows’ nest on the forward mast had the cushiest job on the watch: No officer would bother climbing up to check on him and it was only an insane standing order of the captain issued years previously when drunk that required the crows’ nest to be manned at all when in port.

The lookout was still somewhat inebriated himself and was sitting wedged on the floor. As a result, he was looking up and actually spotted the distant speck at once. In the four seconds that followed, he first: Seriously considered abandoning drinking before remembering he was an orc;* Then, considered standing up to get a better look but quickly rejected that as impractical; Next, contemplated shouting a warning, before finally concluding that he was dreaming and definitely in need of another drink. After all, such a fiery projectile hurtling directly at him could only be the product of the two litres of 90% pure goblin grain alcohol imbibed the previous night.

*Which shows he had definitely overdone it

So at least one orc was in positive frame of mind when the meteorite impacted the upper foredeck, passing through all eight decks of the vessel before exploding as it struck the water below, blowing the shattered battleship into the air where secondary explosions including the main magazine finished the job, spreading further carnage across the dock area and starting a number of fires.

The mast, complete with lookout flew like an arrow almost a quarter of a mile where it buried itself in the upper three floors of the Drunken Sailor’s House of Libation* on Lion Street, reuniting at least part of the ship with some twenty members of its startled crew.

*Brothel

The ship’s captain, returning with his favourite cabin boy from a successful shopping expedition for new cabin curtains witnessed the whole thing from the end of the quay. Miraculously he was unhurt, but dumbfounded, and it took him some moments to regain the power of speech.

As a gentle rain of debris continued to patter down around him he turned to his companion and used his many years experience at sea to select a rare, exquisite and colourful oath from a language rich in such exultations, slightly undermining the overall effect by adding: ‘They’ve ruined my battleship!’*

*The reply made by his companion is unrecorded, probably because he was busy trying to extract a nine inch splinter of one of the Retribution’s cannon mountings from his stomach.

We were fortunately nowhere near the docks, but the pall of smoke and flame and distant crashes and screams told an eloquent tale. The horrified dwarf decided that now was the moment to leave. At once. Pausing only to gather up a few of the dwarf’s valuables such as the afore mentioned dagger, ring and wand in case they should fall into the hands of thieves, we left also. Clearly Ratchet was a hazardous place to be, what with muggers, meteorites, exploding men of war and swindling goblins.

We returned to the armoured vehicle on the outskirts of town, only to find that it had been stripped down to a bare metal frame by local goblin entrepreneurs. Time for a smart exit. Leaving another smoking town in our wake, we headed for Crossroads, after all, might as well go for the hat trick.

It was a few days since our escape and I had recovered my health thanks to the surprisingly good healing ministrations of Fuq’ Witt. We were arriving at the orc town of Crossroads, determined to wash away the dust of the road with a few suitable beverages. We located a bar with no difficulty, but unfortunately it was full of intolerant looking orcs.* Aware of an unfortunate shared heritage between our peoples, largely written in blood, I decided a low profile was in order and I stuck close to Lutzbar.

*In other words, normal run of the mill orcs

In the hussle and bustle we picked up a number of rumours: Humans mobilising against the undead in distant Agorath, harpies to our north; raiding centaurs to the south; others that I forgot to write down. In an upstairs room, we met with local orc bigwig Amrar Gorehowl, associate of the lately deceased Ironhide. We advised him of the tragic demise of his friend, stressing that he had willingly sacrificed himself to ensure the survival of his best buds, namely us.

Gorehowl seemed interested in recovering the famous papers and uh-oh, you can see where this is going. I managed to convince him that I was a valuable asset to the party with my many impressive powers, as at one point he seemed a little anti-human as so many of our orc brethren sadly seem to be. He fortunately had no suspicion that we had anything to do with the tragic destruction of the orc battleship in Ratchet harbour, after all with these Alliance renegades everywhere it had to be their handiwork didn’t it?

I managed to make a good impression, convincing him that my survival was in our mutual interest. I think I impressed him with my fearlessness, and he’s even assigned me a bodyguard to make sure I am alright. Another orc is going to be joining us too for our mission to recover the papers.

I expect it will be fine; they’ve probably already forgotten about us in Northwatch and anyway, they’ll be distracted by all those funerals going on plus the extensive rebuilding works. And the powerful mage who was clearly there may well have gone away now after the debacle of our escape. Well you’ve got to be optimistic haven’t you? Otherwise you’d be thinking it’d be certain death to return so soon after kicking over the hornet’s nest…

30.6.12
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