Tarbu Confederacy

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Tarbu Confederacy

Post by Pixel on Mon May 25, 2015 12:30 am

Hanthorn waited at the head of a long kite-shaped table. He was in the very same chair he sat in all those years ago, during the first of these council meetings, long before the Sunduring. He remembered the ravenous look in the eyes of each of the kingdoms' representatives, when the Confederacy became a real, tangible thing. He remembered the satisfaction he felt when this 'pipe dream' of a united archipelago was realized. Against all odds, the most bitter enemies in the known world banded together. The Confederacy was a beautiful thing, if nothing else, for accomplishing that.

But times have changed. For one thing, the table was empty compared to those glorious days - with only nine seats, instead of sixteen. Seven whole Tarbu kingdoms were wiped out before Arthulin managed to save the remainder. Nothing Hanthorn could think of would do these people, eradicated from existence, justice. The strength of seven entire kingdoms' contributions to the Confederacy is lost forever, but Hanthorn promised to himself that he would not forget their legacy. And that was one of the important matters to debate today.

One of many.

As the clock struck the scheduled time, the delegates started to stream into the room, one after the other, taking their respective seats. They, too, noticed the absence of seven seats, and had a solemn air about them, a sharp contrast to their brightly-embroidered robes of gold and purple which conveyed the wealth of former times.
Once everyone was seated, Hanthorn leaned forward, folding his hands in front of him.
"As you might be able to see, friends, many of us could not make it." He cast his eyes down. "But by Arthulin's blessing, many of us have survived. But that was not Arthulin's only blessing."
He sensed the others look up with interest.
"Over the last few weeks, we have conducted a thorough survey of the immediate area," Hanthorn began. "It would seem that Arthulin has blessed us with an ideal location. I suspect, if there are other civilizations nearby, their trade routes will flow through our sphere of influence, thanks to our positioning. We will be able to enforce tolls on ships which pass through to further augment our income. If there are any ships, that is."
He paused, knowing someone was bound to say something. Someone always was.

"Sir," Came the voice of Duchess Elazela, formerly of the Kingdom of Trolar Garye before being absorbed into the Confederacy. "...Are there other civilizations nearby?"
The others murmured, as if they had an answer.
"Truth be told, Duchess, I haven't the slightest clue." He shrugged and shook his head. "I have promoted two fine young men to the rank of 'Grand Captain', and entrusted to them a charter permitting them to establish trade missions representing our Confederacy. I dispatched one, under Vuaen Jibobn, towards our north, where he thinks, based on some rather speculative scout reports, there is a realm of merfolk. The second is still undergoing basic preparations under Guntic Kuriysa... I'm sure you're quite familiar with him, Duchess." Hanthorn smiled as the Duchess visibly blushed. "He will be sent towards the south."
"There is a third expedition," Hanthorn spoke, interrupting a delegate. "As preliminary reports indicate a landmass to our north. It would be prudent to investigate this area immediately."

"I must also speak of two other matters," Hanthorn again interrupted a councilman. "Most importantly, the hordes of Azator have followed us here. We're not entirely sure how."
Here, Hanthorn's well-practiced pokerface came in handy. Without it, the web of lies he has spun over the years would crumble at the slightest pressure.
The council spoke all at once with great alarm, spewing questions, as from a firespout. Hanthorn held his hands out and gently lowered them, and the council calmed down as it always did. "Avbek is on the case, surveying the surviving troops and raising new ones where appropriate to take the fight to Azator and figure out why and how he has managed to end up here with us."

"Secondly!" Hanthorn held up two fingers and waited to make sure he had their attention. "The seven lost kingdoms are to be honored in the finest way currently possible. The construction of a temple in New Numeran is to commence immediately. We will add to this temple with each passing year, and when it is sufficiently ornate, all future meetings will be held there. Perhaps the strength the seven former kingdoms had in life may be conveyed through the powers our temple will yield Arthulin in this world."
The others could do more than nod in silent agreement.
"You may speak now." Hanthorn waved, folding his arms and leaning back in the chair.
He waited for someone to speak, but a long silence ensued. It seemed that nobody truly had anything to say.
"Very well. This meeting is adjourned."

The council stood up and gave each other salutes, before chanting "Long Live the Sixteen Kingdoms!" and departing.


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Re: Tarbu Confederacy

Post by Pixel on Mon May 25, 2015 5:06 pm

Avbek scribbled in Tarbu script, jotting down the gist of what his aide told him.
"We do not have the capacity to support your professionals," He rambled. "There's no iron, no copper nor tin, and even if there were, our smiths don't have a proper smelter."
"It's okay. We're ready." Avbek put away his notepad and scanned the mob of soldiers in front of him.
The aide's face warped with shock. Avbek smiled and let out a chucke. It was priceless. "Sir general sir, all due respect, but what makes you think we're even close to ready? Azator could wipe us out effortlessly! How do you expect to win? Throw rocks at him?"
"I shall speak with Hanthorn on the matter. You're dismissed."
With a sigh of contempt, the aide stomped off.
Avbek observed the rabble and their "training" for a moment longer before nodding to himself and walking off. Hanthorn was approaching.
Avbek held out his hand. "Pleasure to see you today, Warmaster," Hanthorn shook it. "Likewise. How does the situation look?"
"Dreadful, sir." Avbek's tone dipped as he glanced over the soldiers again. "These men can barely handle cloth dummies. I'll make worthy soldiers of them yet, though there is a shortage of raw materials to make quality weapons."
"Very well. Then we shall make use of our arrangement with Azator. We shall speak with the telepath."
"Agreed."

They walked together towards a tower. The guard nodded them through the door. Just down a spiral staircase was an imprisoned lizardman. Only Hanthorn, Avbek, and a select few others, were in on the secret of his presence.
"Vbakto."
The lizardman snarled at the call of his name. "I'm guessing you desire audience with Azator." His intonation was more of a statement than a question.
"Yes. Would you do us the favor of patching through to him?"
Vbakto growled while nodding grudgingly. He performed the same inner ritual he had dozens of times before. Hanthorn had never analyzed it in any great detail, but at the end of the process, it seemed as though Azator would possess Vbakto's body for a short time. It took great concentration on Vbakto's part, to be sure, and it seemed to cause him agonizing pain - but he was treated much better than the other lizardfolk prisoners from Azator's Horde, though he was hardly gracious.
"Hanthorn." Vbakto said with a zombie stare.
"Azator."
"How goes your jigsaw puzzle of a faction, Hanthorn?"
He ignored the jab. "Is my understanding correct, that Arthulin has indeed transported you into the new world alongside us?"
"Ah, yes, Hanthorn. It's quite nice here. Empty."
"Then it's time to fulfill your side of the bargain. We have ensured your survival in spite of the Sundering. Now you will listen to our terms."
"Listening." Vbakto often abridged where possible.
"We still need each other. I need you to help me keep the Confederacy together by giving our kingdoms a mutual threat. You need me to give you purpose."
"Yes."
"We are not ready to fight yet - I promise that this will come in good time. I propose to you these terms: in return for having allowed you to cross into the new world, and for annual tribute, your horde will agree to a truce, in which only raids will be permitted from either side, until both of us see fit to engage in open warfare once again. Is this agreeable to you, Azator?"
Vbakto was silent, Azator pondering...






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Re: Tarbu Confederacy

Post by Admin on Tue May 26, 2015 10:08 pm

Azator's Reply

Even through the aid of a mystic interpreter, Azator's expressions could be disturbing. Vbakto's face twisted, contorted into a bent and sadistic smile, like a crazed dwarf with a new axe.

"That's what I love about you, Hanthorn, the greed, the..." Vbakto paused, probably abridging the long litany of backhanded compliments Azator was spitting out. "... callous ambition.

"But I'm afraid I must decline your -hrm- proposal. New parties and opportunities have arisen since we last spoke, and I have taken an offer with an alternate patron.

"Or perhaps you'd be willing to come meet me in person, hm? I do tire of this body, and your would make a fine suit. I'm sure a man of your caliber would be interested in the personal benefits?

"Or maybe not. Either way, I'll be seeing you soon." The connection severed, and Vbakto shuddered involuntarily.

------------------------------
Azator's Mysterious Patron
Azator seems to have found a new patron to enrich his horde. This could mean great danger to the Confederacy, or worse, danger to Hanthorn if the warlord has slipped his leash.

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Re: Tarbu Confederacy

Post by Pixel on Wed May 27, 2015 8:04 pm

Vbakto was silent, as was usual after such exertion. and limped across his holding cell only to collapse next to his feeding tray.
Hanthorn gestured for one of the prison guards to leave him something to eat. He put his hands behind his back and paced the hallway, pondering the recent conversation. Avbek could say nothing.

Though Hanthorn styled himself the chessmaster, it would seem that Azator has outwitted him. Curious, that - lizardmen tended to be quite... easy, at least easier than humans in general.
Going to seek an audience with Azator in person appealed to Hanthorn, for one of the key assets to a chessmaster was having access to accurate information, and he was the most reliable source of information he could think of. Going there would certainly yield a great deal of it, if he were observant, and a bit lucky. But, of course, the personal risk was high, and he was needed here.

On the other hand, Azator has made it sound like refusing his offer would lead to full-scale war, the likes of which the Confederacy is not yet prepared for. In the fragile state the Confederacy found itself, with seven of its sixteen kingdoms wiped out, with the economic challenges of colonizing a virgin landscape, war would only complicate an already complex system.
But war was a tool - a useful one at that, and it would be used for winning the peace. Indeed, at its heart, war is a simple thing. 'There's the enemy over there, stab him!' was all it really came down to, ultimately. It was peace that was the most dangerous adversary. For it was only during peacetime, not war, that the Confederacy was in danger of splitting apart into factions once again.
"Avbek. We will need to fight."
"Understood sir. We could ask Arthulin to give us the steel we need to forge armor and weapons. I can form a unit fairly quickly, given the materials."
"Notify the alchemists, then. In the meantime, I've got an idea that might keep me out of danger, while still giving us the information we need."
"What's that, sir?"
"I shall see to the recruitment of a spy we can trust, to move ahead of the army and gather information. In place of me."
"Excellent idea, sir." Avbek nodded.
"There's a major obstacle, however." Hanthorn folded his arms. "A human spy may not be suitable. Any suggestions?"
Avbek thought a moment. "...Vbakto?"
Hanthorn glanced at the prisoner. There were many foreseeable problems with using him: he was not entirely loyal to the Confederacy, though not necessarily hostile to it, either - and Azator may be able to detect him. But he was the only real candidate: being a lizardman, he would blend in, and his ability as a telepath might prove useful, as he could gather information and send it home without the aid of ships and informants and so forth.
"I suppose we can run the idea by him. That must wait until tomorrow, however. He must rest."
"Yes, sir."
Hanthorn considered. "The worst he could even do is tell Azator about the prison cell, really. So even if he were to switch allegiances, there's not much harm he could do us."
"I concur."

---

The next morning, as alchemists across the city clamored to make iron seemingly out of nothing, Hanthorn descended into the prison tower once more.
Vbakto sat in a chair in his cell, but looked up at the clatter of Hanthorn's thick boots against the stone floor. "Back so soon?" He closed the book and set it down. "It's rare that you pay me a visit monthly - let alone two days in a row. Something must be quite special." A devilish, crooked smile cracked across Vbakto's face.
"Quite special indeed," Hanthorn said. At his cue, a pair of guards lugged out a chained lizardman between them. "Friend of yours?"
Vbakto's eyes narrowed. "Don't recognize her."
"Well, that's good. I want to offer you a job."
The lizard perked up with obvious interest, a cue for Hanthorn to continue.
"You will be hired on Confederate payroll as a spy. All the bonuses and privileges accorded to that title will be bestowed onto you, as though you were human, and not a slave. But I can understand these reasons not being compelling enough to work in our service. So I have another little caveat."
"...And what's that?"
"To ensure your loyalty, I shall have the other lizardfolk prisoners brought to a holding cell in the national palace. I'm sure many of them are your friends and kinsfolk, similarly captured at the Battle of Enluton Ranla. If you do anything to make me lose my trust..." He gave the signal, and a guard shoved his spear into the prisoner's stomach, blood staining the dungeon floor. "Then we will eliminate them."
Vbakto snarled. "This isn't an option. Is it."
Hanthorn smiled. "You understand rightly."

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