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The Rise of Felskein [Completed]

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 28, Part 2

“Mage-Captain Ahara destroyed it,” the soldier said, pointing to the half-leveled building in the town square.

“What exactly was it?” Harold said.

“We're pretty sure it was a plaguewalker, we found traces of a faint yellow slime all around the village and the last one we left. There was an outbreak in the other village too.” The Sergeant glanced at Harold, his expression darkening. “What's the word from the Wall?”

“It's overrun. They're pulling back to the Fortresses.”

The expressions on Harold's men's faces fell, though, to their credit, hard determination quickly replaced despair.

“That means your job to hunt down any more of these plaguewalkers is even more important,” Harold said. “Last thing the Crystal Towers needs is a second front.”

“Yes sir.”

Harold walked back to Bail and Kormak, dark thoughts gnawing at him. “Any idea when Suniel is going to be back?”

“Do you even know where he went?” Kormak said.

Harold shook his head. “I just know he went off to fix Keeper.”

“He pulled out a strange door-knob, stuck it into the air, and opened a door to a... another place, like a big coach house, black carriages coming and going, people in robes bustling everywhere, white and blue lights floating here and there. The sky was pure black, not a star in the sky.”

“Maybe that's the heart of the Black Carriage he talks about from time to time?” Bail said.

“Well, while he's occupied there fixing Keeper, that gives us time to hunt down-”

“No,” Bail said, shaking his head. “The True Stones.”

Harold glared at the half-dragon. “We might be the only ones that can find whatever it is that's tunneling under-”

“No,” Kormak said, mimicking Bail's stance, expression, and tone exactly. “The True Stones.”

“So you are going to just let the Crystal Towers fall?” Harold said, nearly shouting. “Is that what you want?”

“No,” Bail said flatly. “I want to stop the entire continent – the entire world – from falling. Iron Sky will do that if we don't stop them.”

“Well, if we leave now, Suniel will be left behind,” Harold said, his tone defensive.

Bail shook his head again. “He went of to his... otherplace... from the Skyland. If we take the Skyland, he'll return there.”

“Besides, he could just teleport to us anyway,” Kormak added.

“Face it, Harold, even your own Magister said the best thing you could do would be to get the True Stones,” Bail said. “You've seen what one can do, if we find more...”

Harold raised his hands. “Fine, fine. We'll go. Load up the Skyland. I'm going to gather my Honor Guard and take them with.”

Kormak quirked an eyebrow. “Your Honor Guard?”

“If we're going to take my Skyland on your True Stone mission, then we're going to make a few stops along the way.”

“Your Skyland?” Kormak said.

“Stops?” Bail said.

Harold ignored them and returned to his men.

An hour later, he rode at the head of a dozen hand-picked soldiers, pushing hard for the main Crystal Tower.
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 28, Part 3

<Note: Remarkable how much easier the writing flows when there is a spark of inspiration behind it. Some days the muses are with me and other days the words seem forced. Some parts of the story really appeal to me more than others as well. Today was one of the easy days. Enjoy.>

They were a quarter of the way along the Span, having taken a long detour to avoid the worst of the literal clouds of flying dead – ravens and bats mostly – that still swarmed around the Span Wall, when a door suddenly opened from nowhere near the motley collection of tents they had set up atop the Skyland.

Keeper walked out and nodded to Bail, Kormak, and Harold in turn. “Suniel invites you to the Black Coach House, heart of the Black Carriage.”

“Gotta be better than watching the depressing ruins on the Span pass by,” Kormak said, walking past the construct like Keeper hadn't been in pieces a couple days before. Amazing what you can get used to, Bail thought.

He grunted and followed the dwarf, but Harold just looked at the door suspiciously, muttering something about “wizards”.

Bail and Kormak stopped just inside the door, glancing around at the black-cobbled courtyard of a massive high-walled compound. Before them was the main house, an imposing five-story structure of black brick. To their right and left leading up to it were dozens of large nooks, many of which had black carriages similar to Suniel's sitting in them.

Behind them was a wall lined with dozens of identical plain doors. Kormak walked over to one and opened it. There was nothing but wall behind it, unlike theirs with Keeper and the Skyland on the other side.

There was a constant bustle of activity in the Coach House; carriages coming and going, apprentices and other followers running this way and that on errands, minor magics and invisible servants flitting about, and here and there what had to be wizards bickering, arguing, reading, chanting spells, discussing prices of potions, inscriptions, spells, and reagents, inspecting carriages, and a dozen other wizardly activities besides.

As he and Kormak watched, a gray-haired human woman in a threadbare blue robe tossed a sack up onto a coach bench, hauled herself up after it, and pulled a pair of reins from her robe. She flicked them out before her, two dark horses flashing into existence at the end of the leads and the straps and buckles of the carriage's hitch and harness instantly latching themselves onto the steeds like some strange animate vines.

The woman flicked the reins and the horses instantly thundered ahead, straight for Kormak and Bail.

Bail snarled and readied himself to leap out of the way, but the carriage – horses, woman, coach, and all – suddenly vanished not ten feet in front of them.

“I wonder what Suniel's role in this madhouse is?” Kormak said, scratching himself as they slowly walked through the chaos.

“I am what you might call the Headmaster,” Suniel said, appearing beside them with a faint smile.

“You run this place?” Bail said, sizing up the nondescript, soft-spoken little elf again.

“It looks like no one is running it,” Kormak said. “It looks more like an asylum than wizard school.”

“It's not exactly a school, though I have begun teaching apprentices like the ones back on the other side of the Span,” Suniel said, leading them through the wide double doors of the main entrance to a vast hall with a long wide table running down the middle and a twenty-foot wide hearth blazing and radiating heat through the whole room. Along the walls were massive floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with sliding ladders and a motley array of cushioned seats, couches, small tables, benches, and stools. The same assortment of characters as outside loitered, read, wrote, napped, bickered, ate, and drank.

The table in the center drew Bail's attention the most, however, for down its center was an array of dishes, plates, pitchers, and platters laden with a veritable feast that the rooms occupants largely ignored. Bail's stomach grumbled as the smells from the food wafted towards them, made even more alluring by their gobbled down meals of dry rations in the past few hard-pressed week.

Suniel smiled and gestured towards an empty spot near the fire. “Eat as much as you like, the food is as real as this place is.”

“How real is this place exactly?” Kormak said as he ambled ahead of Bail towards the fire, rubbing his cloth-wrapped hands and peeling off layers as he approached the cheery fire. The vagaries of heat and cold didn't bother Bail due to his draconic heritage so, in spite of Kormak's constant, mostly-ignored complaints, Bail often forgot about the weather.

He settled down and grabbed a wooden trencher, loading it up with a slab of roast beef, a massive scoop of mashed potatoes with a thick slice of butter, a small round of cheese and thick bread, a steaming bowl of stew, and a cluster of small round fruits that he vaguely remembered being called grapes. He also poured himself a tankard of some golden, earthy-smelling drink that he couldn't immediately identify.

“What is this place for?” Kormak said, waving his arm to encompass everything before returning to extending his stout arms and legs towards the fire.

“It is the heart of the Black Carriage,” Suniel said. “It is the result of much long labor on my part and it is warming to see so much life here after all that I went through to create it.”

“Right. So, what is this place for?”

Suniel smiled as a two halfling children raced past them to ladle a thick sweet-smelling liquid from one of the many cauldrons bubbling in the fire. “I call it hot chocolate. My variation on something one of the Carriage members brought back from his travels. Try some Kormak, it'll help warm you up.”

Bail watched the dwarf ladle himself a mug-full and sip it as he reached for seconds of everything. “Get me one of those too,” he said around a mouthful of food.

“The Carriages travel all across Felskein. We are a diverse array of wizards, sorcerers, mages, warlocks, witches, gypsies, and tinkers that sell our crafts across the whole of the continent,” Suniel said, accepting a mug of hot chocolate from Kormak with a nod. “You have seen much of my wares; potions and tinctures, balms and charms, ointments and medicines. We make some small profits, yes, but it mostly about the little goodnesses that we can bring to the people of Felskein. The people's lives are hard and even the littlest magics can help bring some small light and hope to their lives.

“And this is our sanctuary, in a place that is no place, accessible only by members of the Black Carriage itself, a little pocket world I created out of the deepest depths of nothingness that lies beyond the stars. Here there is room for all and food for all, there is warmth, friendship, a wealth of knowledge from across the world...” he gestured at the bookshelves and glanced over at the main doors where Harold and his men stood in the doorway, faces grim, hands on their weapons as the looked about them suspiciously.

Suniel's expression darkened and his voice grew so soft Bail had to stop chewing to hear as the elf gestured in Harold's direction.

”And mostly, here is the locus of my small bid for Redemption for the evils I unwittingly helped create. If the first half of my life was dedicated – intentionally or not – to deepening the darkness of the world, then let the last half of it be dedicated to creating a thousand tiny points of light to keep the night at bay so that one day perhaps the lights will join and the places of light will shine brightly enough to burn away the dark entirely.

“That is what the Black Carriage is.”
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 28, Part 4

With Bail curled up in a ball in front of the fire, snoring, Harold's soldiers reclining on benches, drinking and joking around, and Suniel holding a laid-back, bantering arcane debate with a group of his wizards, it was easy for Kormak to forget what was going on in the real world. Though he sat on his own staring into the fire, even Harold seemed relatively relaxed.

How easy it would be to just stay here in the warmth and companionship of pocket-dimension of the Coach House, let the world beyond do what it would.

The iron contract he had signed with his Order a decade ago in that tiny hill-top stone monastery looking up at the towering Landspear, the core of steel hidden at the heart of Kormak, meant any such thoughts were mere idle fantasy. He could dream though.

Some day this would all be over and the world wouldn't need the hidden, guiding hands of the Order's Elders propping up civilization. Kormak had to believe that. Though he'd never let it on to his companions, he was getting too old for running around dodging spells, ducking swords and claws, and breaking bones – his and others'.

He settled deeper into the comfort of his thickly-padded chair tucked away near one of the massive shelves, surrounded by the pleasant smells of parchment and leather. He was at the very edge of drifting off to a nap, when Harold suddenly stood up, the scraping of benches as his soldiers did likewise grating out all other noise in the room.

“We should be near the Span now, back to work men,” Harold said, walking off towards the main doors without another word.

To their credit, his men didn't grumble and complain. Just finished their drinks, wrapped themselves up tightly in their cloaks, and cast parting glances at the fire before following their commander out. Kormak just barely caught Velea the Seer flitting from one shadow to the next behind Harold. She could literally disappear into the shadows and so Kormak often forgot she was around. Why she had chosen Harold to follow was beyond Kormak, but he supposed he choosing him or Bail would have been even more bizarre.

Kormak roused himself and yawned as he took a seat on one of the just-vacated benches by the fire. Bail had one eye open, cat-like, watching Harold and his men leave.

“What was that about 'nearing the Span'?” Kormak said.

“His people said something about getting building materials from one of the abandoned cities or towns on the Spire,” Bail said. “Make a fort or something on the Skyland. Meh.”

Bail's eye closed and the half-dragon went back to sleep. A minute later, Suniel sat down next to Kormak on the bench.

“Makes it all seem kinda unreal out there doesn't it?” Suniel said, gesturing at the last of Harold's unit leaving the Coach House.

“How do you ever leave this place?” Kormak said. “Did you really make this?”

Suniel smiled. “Elves don't sleep. Need something to do alone in the Carriage while everyone else slumbers.”

“Most people do something very different from carving out pocket-worlds when they are alone during the night,” Kormak said, quirking an eyebrow at Suniel.

Suniel either missed or ignored the innuendo, staring deeply into the fire. “I had a family once, so long ago it seems like another lifetime. My wife was human, and so there was ever-present worry about the future as her age seemed to rapidly advance and mine barely crept forward. And Thessalock... she and our children were what made me realize what I was really doing at the Ashen Tower.”

Kormak sat with Suniel in silence for a moment, for once no snarky comment springing to his tongue.

“Thessalock was a visionary, probing the bounds of our reality. It was he who directed the course of my research, his shining vision that both of us strove for,” Suniel shook his head. “It wasn't until I saw my wife's terror, saw my children cry at his mere presence – well, and the things that began to lurk in the shadows around him, all furtive movements and glinting red eyes...”

“Well, look on the bright side,” Kormak said. “You have something much bigger and more terrifying to worry about so you don't even have to think about him once we finally get away from the Crystal Towers and can start running from Iron Sky.”

Suniel rolled his eyes. “What a relief.”

“Any time.”

“Is there somewhere else you could go to talk?” Bail said, one eye opening. “If you didn't notice, there's a half-dragon trying to sleep here.”

“I suppose one of us should probably go keep an eye on where Harold is taking us in the real world,” Kormak said with a sigh.

“Keeper is,” Suniel said.

“Well, might not be a bad idea to keep an eye on him... it... as well,” Kormak said. “Regardless of what how it's been so far and how much you seem to trust it, it is still part of Iron Sky.”

“I've heard a saying you people have, something about letting sleeping dragons lie,” Bail said. “There's a reason for this saying.”

“All right, all right, I'm going already,” Kormak said, shaking his head as he walked away. “Touchy, touchy.”

When he reached the doors, he glanced back a final time to see Bail back asleep, Suniel sitting quietly nearby, staring into the fire over steepled fingertips.
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Whew, just caught up. I stumbled across this a week ago and have been loving it. I really like how the world is completely unique and has depth. Well done. I'm enjoying it.

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 28, Part 5

<Note: Glad you enjoyed it Tamlyn! It's strange, but knowing that even a couple people are enjoying it makes it all worthwhile.>

Keeper confirmed that the now-familiar, subtle sensation of the Skyland's movement had stopped. In the whiteout of the blizzard storm clouds, the only thing they'd seen in two days was swirling fog and snow as Harold's unit and Keeper built some makeshift stone huts atop the Skyland.

“The Tower is just ahead,” Keeper said, gesturing into the swirling whiteout.

“How can you tell?” Kormak said, squinting into the snow.

“Because the Skyland stopped,” Velea said, stepping out of seemingly nowhere. “I told it to travel until we reached the Spire on this side of the Span.

“You told it? This thing can talk?” Kormak said, staring down and the snow-covered rock beneath his feet.

Velea gave Kormak a look that made Suniel chuckle in spite of himself.

“No, of course it doesn't talk. It's a figure of speech,” Velea said. “I just went to the Henge and mentally directed it to come here based off the information Harold gave me about its location. We might have to wait until the snow clears before we can see exactly where the Spire is – wouldn't do to crash our Skyland into a Spire.”

“Well, as long as we have to wait until this snow blows off, why don't we go somewhere warm?” Kormak said, turning hopefully to Suniel.

Suniel rolled his eyes and pulled the doorknob to the Coach House from his robe.


“Bail, Bail, Bail!” Meepo shouted, the kobold leaping and prancing around Bail like a puppy. Suniel had a similar collection of Acolytes, goblins, the Shield Guardian, and the rest of his assorted outcasts and misfits gathering around. Even Kormak had Dog to return to.

Harold shook his head at the little celebration, disgusted that they could find something to by happy about with what was happening on the other side of the Span. The Span Wall breached, the Magister's Council fighting an impossible, never-ending daily battle with Thessalock's Liches, some monstrosity tunneling about in the Crystal Towers mainland. Soon the Fortresses will fall, then the cities...

“Follow me, men,” Harold said, leading his soldiers towards a balcony he remembered overlooking the dead town of North Spire.

A few minutes later they arrived and stood in silence for a moment, staring out at the abandoned, snow-smothered streets. “The walking dead infest this place,” he said. “And this is a situation I find intolerable. The Ashen Tower may besiege our people, but here at least we can fight back.”

He gazed about the platoon, nodding to his Lieutenants. “I have been dispatched by the Magisters to find ancient weapons to help turn the tide and reclaim the Crystal Towers, but you will cleanse North Spire and hold it against whatever comes. Hold it to your dying breaths so that the world may know that some part of the Crystal Towers stands uncorrupted by the touch of the Ashen Tower.”

“A caravan will arrive in a few weeks time, bringing much needed supplies. Let them see us standing strong and I swear I will find us new allies and new weapons to defend our homeland. When I return, we will take the fight to the Ashen Tower and reclaim the lands of our forefathers.”

He looked each of his soldiers in the eye, one-by-one, then raised his finger. “And I swear. If I return and find that any of you have abandoned your posts here and left the Crystal Towers to fall, I will hunt you down individually and make you wish the Ashen Towers had gotten to you first.”

He turned and walked away, moments later ascending the spiraling stairs that led to the top of the Spire and their Skyland. The stairs blurred and he staggered, but he forced himself on, sinking despair shifting to impotent rage to righteous anger, and always the image of the Span that first day emblazoned on his memory

The stink and moan of the dead pressing endlessly on, stretching into a horizon blotted with the smoke of burning cities and dark clouds of flying abominations, the black sky like the hand of Thessalock blotting out the sun...
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 28, Part 6

<Only got one post up last week, so here's an extra-longerish one!>

“There's no way that is going to work,” Kormak said, staring in disbelief as Suniel's motley crew swarmed across the Skyland, planting metal spikes, dragging chains, hammering planks, and a dozen other tasks.

“If it is constructed according to the structural designs I drew up, the weight should be evenly distributed evenly amongst the chains and-”

Kormak raised his hands. “I don't care that much, stop already.”

He turned to see Harold walking out of the town, bow in hand. “How goes the cleansing?”

“We found several of them holed up in the sewers. They've been eliminated.”

“Lose anyone?”

Harold shook his head. “I specifically put together this unit for their skill at eliminating the dead.”

“Handy. Seems like that type of capability would be especially handy back at the Crystal Towers right about now too...” Kormak said. He ignored Harold's dark look and walked off looking for Dog.


Bail held onto one of the chains and leaned over the side of the Skyland, staring down as the Skyland slowly raised. The chains began to creak and groan, as did the wooden planking of the Turtle's platform, but it held. Over at the Henge, Velea moved the Skyland around for a few minutes and, aside from some slight swaying when she changed directions, the platform seemed stable.

“Guess that construct is good for something after all,” Kormak said, sitting with his legs dangling over the side of the Skyland and munching on a biscuit he'd probably swiped from the Coach House.

“What is the dwarf good for?” Keeper said as he walked by up the path.

Kormak watched Keeper walk away then turned to Bail. “I can never tell if he's joking or not. I'd be inclined to believe constructs can't joke – just look at Suniel's Guardian. It's just a shiny, walking chunk of silversteel. I think I prefer it.”

“Let's go find Suniel, figure out where we're going,” Bail said.

A bit later they were standing next to the makeshift fort Harold's unit had put together atop the Skyland.

“Where to now, oh mighty wizardly one?” Kormak said, tossing the last bit of his biscuit to Dog. The mutt munched happily.

Suniel turned from a discussion with Keeper, Harold, and Velea. “We're heading towards the True Stone of Light.”

“And where exactly is that?” Bail said.

“It is to the northwest, a fair distance. My access to the Nexus tells me it is far, but I will know precisely where it is when we are closer, as I did with the Lightning Stone,” Keeper said.

“Is the Nexus like someone else talking inside your head or something?” Kormak said, squinting up at Keeper.

“Are thoughts like someone else talking inside your head or something?” Keeper replied, returning the dwarf's stare.

“I was wondering if we should maybe stop by Port and contact Bradic,” Harold said.

“Why, so you can try to get him to send more people to die at your doomed-” Kormak said, silenced by Suniel producing another biscuit from seemingly nowhere and shoving it in Kormak's mouth.

Bail grinned. The dwarf shifted constantly back and forth between being amusing and being annoying. When Kormak was annoying Harold, it was about the best entertainment around.

“It makes sense,” Suniel said. “We should perhaps warn him to evacuate Port. Tell them Keeper.”

The construct nodded and stepped back with his hands clasped behind him like a soldier about to address a superior officer. “I have heard some things from the Nexus. It is quite likely that more testing incursions like the one we observed in the Freeholds are occurring as we speak. As they intensify, they will begin targeting larger and larger settlements.”

“Such as Port,” Suniel finished. "I'll contact Bradic now."

“What?” Bail and Kormak said together.

Suniel closed his eyes, murmured, and made a series of rapid gestures. He held out a small blue stone that began to glow faintly. When he opened his eyes, he spoke.

“Bradic, it is Suniel, can you hear me?”

“Uh, what the...? Hello?” The voice seemed to be coming from a long ways off.

“We are... heading roughly towards Port and we wanted to know how things were going there.”

“Right. Things are crazy. Those golems you talked about have been attacking everywhere. The whole of the Freeholds are in chaos. Talking to the empty air and having it talk back is really strange by the way. Oh, the Locath have gotten really active and started 'taxing' all the ships that cross Landspear Lake on the way to the New Freeholds in Steamport's old lands. Will you be coming here?”

Suniel shook his head. Bail wondered idly if Bradic could see the motion or if the elf just did it out of habit. “No, at least not for a while. We have business further north. We do suggest that you evacuate the city. An... inside source suggests that any concentrations of people will attract more Iron... more golem attacks.”

“Evacuate Port? We just finished securing it!”

“And if you keep 'securing' it, an army of rusty metal contraptions will fly down there and blast you and it apart with their lightning-beam eyes,” Kormak said. He looked at the others and shrugged. “What? Might as well let him know what he's in for.”

There was a long pause, then a sigh. “All right, I'll see what I can do.”

The blue glow on the stone faded. Suniel took a deep breath and relaxed his shoulders like a man who had been deep in concentration.

“So the Freeholds are in chaos. What else is new?” Kormak said.

“Now what?” Bail said.

“Now we fly until we find another True Stone,” Suniel said.

“And then?”

“We hope no one has laid claim to it.”

“And if they have?”

“We try to convince them to let us have it.”

Bail grinned and tapped his sword hilt, then the side of his head. “Say no more.”

Kormak walked a few steps down the path in the direction the Skyland was heading. He struck a pose, leaning forward and sheltering his eyes with one hand and pointing off to the horizon with the other.

“Onward, to danger, the unknown, and killing things for to take their stuff!”

Dog pranced around him, barking excitedly.

Suniel sighed and Bail shook his head. “This is going to be a long trip.”
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 28, Part 7

“Anyone know what that is?” Bail said, pointing down at the edge of the dark, tangled forest passing by far beneath the Skyland.

Kormak and Keeper joined him and peered down to a small yellow shape gleaming in the winter sunlight.

“There's a figure down there,” Keeper said. “Humanoid. It's waving.”

Kormak squinted, then glanced at Keeper. “Since when are your eyes so good?”

Keeper turned to him. “Technically, they aren't eyes.”

“You have a knack for answering without answering, did you know that?”

“What's going on?” Suniel said, walking down the path to join them.

“There's someone down there at the edge of that dark scary forest we've been flying over and he's waving at us,” Kormak said.

“Next to a wagon,” Keeper said.

“And he's next to a wagon,” Kormak added. “If he's waving, he has to be friendly, right?”

“Might as well check it out,” Suniel said, shouting for Velea as he walked towards the henge.

“Might as well, what's the worst thing that could happen?” Kormak said.


Suniel followed closely behind Harold, Keeper and the Guardian following behind him. Kormak and Bail brought up the rear.

The wagon turned out to be a bright yellow, round gypsy wagon covered with strange silver runes, sitting in a sunny meadow. Beyond was a line of metal posts with shimmering strips of metallic cloth placed every couple hundred feet along the edge of the woods. The figure had stopped waving and merely stood draped in a thick brown robe and cowl, watching them approach.

“You must be the Hollowed One we heard about,” Suniel said.

“The who? Oh! Riiiiight,” Kormak said, eyes slowly widening. He took a few steps away “Isn't he the one, you know, the guy that we weren't supposed to-”

“Make a deal with?” the cowled figure said, his strangely echoing and slightly unsettling. Suniel couldn't tell if it was male or female.

“Yeah... that,” Kormak said, half-hiding behind the Guardian.

“You are the Hollowed One?” Suniel said.

The faintest movement of its cowl told hinted that it nodded. “What is it you desire?”

There was a long pause as Bail, Kormak, and Suniel exchanged a look.

“I want to have the biggest - urk!”

Bail grabbed Kormak and sat on him.

The Hollowed One pulled back his cowl, revealing yellowish, almost polished skin. His features were fair, almost feminine and his eyes had no iris. “I can give you anything, for in the Fae Woods dreams are given form and I am the guardian of the Boundary.”

“Anything?” Harold said, his eyes narrowing.

Suniel shot Harold an alarmed look, but Harold seemed lost in contemplation.

The Hollowed One turned to Suniel and smiled. “I can give you a Seeking Stone or even a True Stone if that is what you wish.”

“You have a True Stone?” Bail said, adjusting his weight towards the dwarf's shoulders so Kormak's face was even more firmly planted in the dirt.

“Urmph! Urgh urmur! Shmrrr mmrmr!” Kormak said, arms flailing.

“I can reach into the dreams of the Fae and bring back anything you could dream of. All you have to do is ask.”

“The dreams of the Fae? Are the True Stones in the Fey Wood somewhere?” Suniel said.

“In a sense,” the Hollowed One said, gesturing towards the black wood beyond. “If you had the integrity of mind to hold onto reality amidst the dreams of the Fae, you could find anything you desired there.”

Kormak gasped for air as Bail stood up and walked towards the Wood a few steps. He pointed at one of the metal poles as the dwarf shot him a dirty look and brushed himself off. “What are those?”

“I am bound to maintain the wards that surround the Fae Wood.”

“Do you perhaps offer things are not of Fae make?” Harold said, a calculating look in his eyes.

Kormak stormed off out of sight behind the wagon. If Suniel didn't know any better he'd think the dwarf was sulking.

“I sell nothing, I only offer pieces of the Dreams, fragments that bind to ambition. It entertains me to see the their effects outside in the greater world.”

“You mean corrupt those that come for them?” Suniel said.

The Hollowed One looked at Suniel with his head cocked to the side in an almost bird-like fashion.

“The corruption is within those who try to take the Dreams and force them to bend to their will. Perhaps someone more strong-minded, someone with a strong enough will could resist...”
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 28, Part 8

“So you corrupted the Huntress willingly?” Harold said. Bradic said something about her bow...

The Hollowed One turned to Harod. “I gave her what she dreamed of, nothing more. Now she lives her dream every waking moment.”

“She lives a radical, all-consuming and corrupting version of her dream,” Suniel said softly.

“That is how the dream manifested in her. I am here to give people their dreams, not take them away.”

“And what exactly is the Fae? Is it a who or a what?” Bail said.

“The Fae is the dark dream of the world.”

“That's sure descriptive,” Kormak said. “Is it a dark dream that walks around in the woods or is it some dormant, uh... a sleeping sort of...”

“It can become an entity or whatever else is desired when it comes into contact with the dreams of mortals.”

“So, can it be killed?” Harold said, staring off into the forest. Whatever was in there sounded powerful. He wondered to whom it owed its allegiance and if it could be swayed.

“Do you think you could defeat your dreams? Dreams like those that fill your slumbers and slip into your mind even during your waking hours?” The Hollowed One gestured towards the woods. “If you seek to find out, simply walk into the Fae Wood beyond the wards. You will find your dreams... and they will find you.”

“And is there no way to enter the Fae Wood without this happening?” Suniel said.

“Aside from being you, that is,” Kormak added.

“There is a way, should you wish to enter the wood.” The Hollowed One produced four of the strange metallic-cloth strips. Harold took one, as did the others. It was like finely meshed steel wool, but lighter and softer and thin as cloth, the mesh so fine that it was almost smooth to the touch.

“These will protect us?” Kormak said, shaking his. “I'd expect them to be heavier or glowing with magical power or something.”

A strange expression came over Suniel and he turned to Keeper. “Do you... dream?”

Keeper was silent for a moment. “I have the Nexus.”

The construct turned to the Hollowed One. “How long until the last creations of the Elarim fulfill their destiny?”

The Hollowed One smiled. “Until the Tree dies.”

Keeper nodded.

“Say what?” Kormak said.

Keeper looked at the woods as if he hadn't heard.

“Keeper, what did you mean by that?” Suniel said.

“I meant nothing,” Keeper said, not looking at Suniel.

“Strange considering the remark you made.”

“Perhaps it was unremarkable.”

Suniel's look was troubled as he looked at Keeper. I knew we shouldn't trust that thing. Is he just now getting that? Harold thought.

“Are you simply unwilling to tell me what you mean by that?”

Keeper shook his head. “I require more access to the Nexus.”

“What would happen if we had Keeper ask for a True Stone?” Kormak said. “As far as we can tell, he doesn't have dreams.”

The Hollowed One looked at Keeper. “This Keeper has no dreams, so if he asked for a stone, I might give him a pebble.”

“What if we asked you to create something, not for us, just create it?”

The Hollowed One smiled sadly. “I have no dreams.”

“Did you have dreams when you were human?” Kormak said. “Assuming you were human once, that is.”

“I never was human, though this body was once human.”

Something about the way he said that made Harold uneasy. The others had gone quiet as well as they considered what he had just said. If the body was human, what was the Hollowed One and who had he hollowed out to take the body?
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 28, Part 9

"So how were you made?" Harold said.

"A member was offered by the Black City Trust. I accepted."

Something about the matter-of-fact way the Hollowed One spoke sent chills down Suniel's spine.

"Who was this member before?" Suniel said. "Did he choose willingly?"

“He was offered and I accepted,” the Hollowed one repeated, his quizzical expression telling Suniel that he didn't entirely understand the question.

“So what were you before you hollowed this guy out and moved in?” Kormak said.

“I was Fae.”

“Which means...” Kormak said, gesturing with his hand for the Hollowed One to continue.

Keeper's strange question and evasion from earlier was still troubling Suniel. Then something clicked. “What is the relation between the Fae and the Elarim?”

“Why should there be a relation?” the Hollowed One said with a smile.

“Can we keep these?” Harold said, raising the metal-cloth ward strip.

“They will remain with me, though should you wish to enter the Fae Wood again, I will be there to give you one,” the Hollowed One said.

“You sure about that?” Kormak said. “What if we come in from somewhere else?”


“Yes? Yes what?”

“So where are the light dreams of the world?” Harold said, seemingly talking to himself as much as anyone else.

The question surprised Suniel – he had no idea that Harold even though of anything but the Ashen and Crystal Towers.

"No - answer my question first," Kormak said.

“I often wonder that myself,” the Hollowed One said, smiling faintly as he glanced at Harold. "Where indeed."

"Hello, my question?" Kormak said, waving his hands.

“Would you go into the Fae Wood if that was what I wished?” Suniel said, staring at the Hollowed One. This creature radiated a sense of incredible power and a subtle, cold malevolence.

“I have only been in the Fae Wood once, and I left immediately once this body became mine.”

“Became yours willingly?”

"Why does everyone ignore me all the time?" Kormak said. Bail patted him on the head and Kormak sighed.

“The Trust willed it, as did I. What does this question mean?” the Hollowed One said, squinting at Suniel with furrowed brows as if confused.

“Did a vampire come by here by any chance?” Harold said. “I thought he said something about coming south. Who is the Crone?”

“One such did come by,” the Hollowed One said. He smiled. “Fortunately, he found me and not the Crone.”

"Who is the Crone?" Kormak said.

“So what happened to him?” Suniel said.

The Hollowed One shrugged. “I gave him his dream.”

"The Crone?" Kormak repeated. "Please?"

“And then?” Suniel said.

“He left, presumably to the One Tree since he came undead and left elven. I foresee even more sorrow in his path.”

Kormak sighed.

There was a moment of silence.

The Hollowed One was making Suniel uneasy. Regardless of his intent now, he was pretty sure that no matter what “hollowing” entailed, one would not be likely to undergo it willingly.

“What would happen if you were not here?” Suniel said.

"Then this would be a very strange conversation," Kormak said. "Very one sided - hey, just like most of my conversations!"

The Hollowed One cocked his head again in that strangely bird-like fashion. “I wouldn't know, I have been around as long as I can remember.”

Suniel paused to consider his next words for a moment. “If the human 'offering' was taken unwillingly and there would be no threat for the world in him being freed, he would wish for it to be so.”

The Hollowed One smiled, but there was nothing pleasant in the smile. Something dark flickered in the Hollowed One's eyes. “It sounds as though you are coming to a wish...”

Suniel took a long deep breath, then handed his ward to Kormak.

“Why do I need two of these? Ignore me for ten minutes then suddenly you give me - hey, where are you going?” Kormak said.

“Stay here Keeper,” Suniel said as he walked towards the Fae Wood. He paused for a moment at the boundary marked by the ward-posts and glanced back. The others were all staring at him, in various expressions of curiosity, concern, and surprise.

He turned and looked at the wood, feeling the wild, dark energies flowing within even from this side of the wards.

He glanced up at the shining sun and drifting clouds, then down at the green grass and scattered winterbloom flowers. The breeze was cool and refreshing as he glanced back at the Skyland, silhouetted against the sky, like a floating piece of the Landspear that loomed up in the southern horizon.

With a final deep breath, he turned and walked beyond the warding boundary and into the dark tangle of the Fae Wood.
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 28, Part 10

Harold walked into the woods, scanning the darkness for Suniel, the cloth-metal ward around his neck pressing heavy and cold on his chest. Even though he had only been a dozen or so paces behind the wizard, Suniel had somehow vanished utterly upon entering the wood.

In the Wood, it was dark and close, the shadows seeming to churn and roil at the corner of his vision. His nerves were on edge, like something behind him was about to leap onto his back with fang and fury. “Suniel?”

His voice sounded muffled. “Suniel!”

A minute later he couldn't take it anymore, claustrophobia threatening to overwhelm him. He pushed through the woods quickly, a rush of adrenaline shooting through him at the thought that he had made a wrong turn and didn't know the way out. A second later, he was pushing his way back into the sunlight, sweating, walking past the line of wards.

“Well?” Bail said.

Harold turned to the Hollowed One. “Where did he go?”

The Hollowed One smiled. “He has gone into the Fae.”

“What?” Harold said. “What does that mean?”

Kormak chuckled. “We've been talking to this guy for half-an-hour without getting a straight answer and you expect to get one now?”

“When will he come out?” Bail said.

“When? Where is just as valid a question,” the Hollowed One said.

“Like that, see?” Kormak said, looking at Harold as he pointed to the Hollowed One. “That's what I'm talking about.”

“Care to elaborate?” Bail said.

“There's no need to wait for him, for he has entered the dream of the world beneath.”

Everyone waited for the Hollowed One to continue. They probably figured, like Harold did, that asking him to clarify wouldn't help much.

“He could leave the dream in a day, or a year, or ten thousand years,” the Hollowed One said. “Or never.”

The Hollowed One paused and stared off towards the Landspear, piercing up through the clouds on the horizon. “He could walk out right next to us, or a mile away, or on another world, another plane.”

“I wish for his dream to not upset the balance of the world,” Kormak said, his expression deadly serious for once.

The Hollowed One turned to him and tilted his head to the side. “Do you consider the world to be in balance now?”

While the dwarf was pondering the question, Harold turned to Bail. “Did he leave that doorknob of his behind?”

Bail stared back at him with mutual distaste. “Why?”

“Because some of us have been keeping things in there and don't want them to be sitting in there until the wizard decides to wake up or walk out of his magical dark dream. Let's get everything we can out of there.”

Keeper walked up, staring after Suniel into the woods. “Your master isn't coming out of there.”

The construct turned and looked at him, his empty eyes flickering and sparking. “Why does that matter?”

“Will you continue the mission without Suniel?”

“Who said I was following Suniel?” Keeper said. For once Harold wished the construct had an expression.

“Well, the mission needs to continue. Will continuing it be a problem?”

“If it's like it has been so far,” Keeper said. With that, the construct turned and walked back towards the Skyland.

Harold stared after the construct. He'd never trusted it to begin with, but this just confirmed it. He wondered if Bail would be a problem now without Suniel holding his leash. It would distract him from the mission the Magisters had sent him on, but he'd kill the half-dragon if he had to. He shook his head and followed Keeper.

“Bye-bye creepy Empty Man,” Kormak said as he followed behind. Harold glanced back to see Bail and Kormak following him.

The Hollowed One and his wagon were gone.
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