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In response to the slaughter of a Nikrit tribe about two weeks ago, Gal-Turok dispatched two couriers. The first courier was still in route to Shadowmere, using the narrow swamp streams to navigate from outpost to outpost in the back country. However the second courier, who was dispatched to Skavenport to give a formal report and extend an offer to combat the various insurgents scattered throughout the southern lands of Nocturnus, had reached his destination. Accepting the offer to march and fight together to Shadowmere, Lord Osric sent the goblin warrior back to The Reach with a light escort, a symbol of a unity between the two. However, as they were nearing the fringes of theGal-Turok's domain, a mysterious group of assassins ambushed and killed all but one young rat warrior.. The young rat warrior ran through the trees frantically. A few leagues back, he had noticed the land and trees had changed from swamp to foothills..a sign he was entering the Rakath Range, and more importantly, safety. As he ran furiously through the forest, he began to pick out the various warm colored hues of the trees, and a bit of relief set into his heart. He would soon come across The Vanishing River, the formal marker of the Goblin's domain. He would have time to rest and to contemplate what happened. From what he'd gathered in the initial ambush, they were Valyrian, they were elite, and they were very good. To outmaneuver and kill both rats and a goblin, one had to be both swift and gile, and these guys had it in droves. His mind drifted to the growing number of tribes and groups that had joined the spire...Drow, Crocodile, Wolf, Orc, and now these assa... His body stopped cold as did his mind. He had reached The Vanishing River, but instead of relief he felt an overwhelming fear. Across the bank of the shallow river, no more than 20 paces or so, stood one of them. He wore elegant green and silver armor, that slightly shimmered in the sun. His hair and facial features were kept surprisingly well, considering his line of work. His eyes were a pale brown, but they pierced the rat warriors soul. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally spoke... "You have gone far enough young one." His accent was thick, from what the rat gathered, he was of noble Valyrian stock. He continued.. "My comrades thought for sure that you had eluded us, but I knew better.I had anticipated your path some while ago, and sure enough, the powers from beyond have delivered you to me as an act of providence. Now all that is left for you to do is set your weapons down, and allow yourself to be taken. Despite my skill set, I am not a fan of such barbaric actions as killing when unnecessary. So what do you say eh...if you come quietly, I give you plenty of cheese and grain for the trip back to the tower.." A sarcastic smile broke the plane of his face. In that instant, the rat learned something new of his pursuer..he had studied him, like a game of chess. He referred to him as young one, which for a normal human would be impossible to discern. The rat warrior replied.. "You seem to have figured out parts of me, yet I know nothing of you. So who may I ask are you?" "I am Verspicci, Captain of the Romanga Fioran, The High Guardians of the Grand Island Guild of Valyrio and I am pleased to make your acquaintance." He delivered a customary bow. "You seem more of a diplomat than an assassin, and for a diplomat you are a long way from an embassy.." the rat warrior retorted. "I am many things young one, but today you only need to be concerned by what I am to you..your detainer. As to the other half of your statement, I am wherever I choose to be. And now I choose to be in front of you..blocking your path and ending this pitiful alliance before it can even be stoked in the embers." he pronounced as he drew what the rat warrior could only guess to be a sword. It was long and quite thin, with a curved blade and a cylinder hilt..it was not slashing weapon, but purely designed to thrust and stab into an opponent. Despite their small talk and formal etiquette, they both knew what was going on. They were sizing each other up first of all, each one looking and probing for any long lasting physical or mental sign of weakness. The second reason, they were both catching thier breath, letting their bodies recharge for a moment. Chasing down and out running any of Osric's people was no small feat, but to outrun and intercept a warrior rat, took something more.. After another moment of silence, in which the wind could be heard bending the trees in the clearing, the rat spoke once more.. "It was nice to have met you today, Verspicci was it?.." he said as he subtly gripped the throwing axes he hid beneath his overcloak. The Valyrian responded "Correct young one, but I did not catch your name.." The Rat replied "It's Torderic. Torderic The Swift to be exact." "Ahh Swif-" Torderic did not let him finish the sentence, as in a blink of an eye he had already covered the distance between them and brought his throwing axes to bear. But to his shock, Verspicci had lifted his blade, blocked and was halfway through his parry. Their duel on the banks of The Vanishing River had begun. Torderic swung high and low repeatedly, trying to draw his foe off balance with a furry of two handed coordinated strikes. But Verspicci countered just as precisely. Then Verspicci surged forward..his body streamlined in a perfect precision strike. Toderic parried with his left axe, but the force of the blow through him somewhat off balance. They whirled and spun around each other, each one probing for a place to do damage. Eventually Verspicci began to gain the upper hand, and pushed Toderic back toward a pine tree. Verspicci lunged again with another powerful streamlined strike, Toderic countered and saw an opening. With his right hand axe, he swung high. But Verspicci, once again anticipating the maneuver, caught the axe in mid swing. The two warriors were now eye to eye, struggling for position and balance. Verspicci pushed Toderic backwards, using only will and human strength to do so. Rats were not known for their strength, but for their speed and agility, however Verspicci was well aware of this, and was doing all that he could to keep the fight within sword point range, effectively nullifying Toderic's advantages. Not letting Toderic gain an inch, or have a moment of reprieve he forced him upon a small boulder and again forward lunged, attempting to drive his blade through the rat. Toderic parried and captured Verspicci's blade in a deadlock move that had served him well before. But Verspicci was anything but like those before. He lifted Toderic up and above his head in a spectacular overhead throw that sent the rat crashing and tumbling to the ground. The impact shook Toderic to his core. Still rattled and attempting to regain his footing, Verspicci was upon him and with what seemed like the force of the heavens coming down, smashed the butt of his blade into the back of Toderic's head, shocking him again. Toderic spat blood from the impact and it took all he had not to pass out right then and there. Toderic mustered what strength he could in an attempt to get up. He felt his left axe being kicked out from under him..then several kicks to the side..more blood from his mouth..more resolve not to pass out as he was being beat senseless. He summoned what little composure he had left in attempt to surprise his opponent with an uppercut axe swing. Again Verspicci saw it coming, intercepting the axe swing with his foot, kicking it away and stomping on Toderic's forearm in one combo like motion. His heavy steel boots dug into the skin and shattered the bone beneath. Another kick to the side and Toderic was on his back, panting, bleeding and trying to stay conscious. "It didn't have to be this way young one. You could've had cheese..." Another sarcastic remark. But given the circumstances, Toderic thought, he had every right to be sarcastic and arrogant. Even so, Toderic mustered a snark reply of his own "Maybe if you were focused less on cheese, and more on the surroundings, you would've noticed the two goblins coming up on your flank, hehe.." Verspicci spun, and sure enough, two goblin soldiers were upon him. They were slower than the rat, but still agile and fast in their own right, and much stockier. Verspicci plunged head long into battle with them both, attempting to combo kill the two of them. However as he lunged at the first, the goblin rolled out of the way and his blade was intercepted by the second. Without missing a step, Verspicci shifted his weight and fired his go to move, the forward lunge, knocking the goblin off balance, but not as much as the rat in their previous duel. Goblin swords, while much shorter than his own, were heavier and broader. They were more than capable of withstanding Verspicci's blows without giving up too much ground in the aftermath. This split second moment of delay caused Verspicci not to notice that the other goblin had positioned himself to his flank and above him on a boulder. The goblin leaped into the air, sword pointed down, with the intention of plunging it directly into Verspicci's spine. Verspicci, in a moment of sheer luck, manged to turn and lift his sword directly into the goblin's path, running him through clean while at the same time delivering a powerful kick within the spin that took the first goblin off his feet. He then threw him to the ground and turned his attention to the goblin on the ground. He had failed to see Toderic get to his feet and reach the throwing axe that landed in the river. As Verspicci raised his sword to finish off the first goblin, Toderic threw the axe directly at Verspicci's head. It made just enough noise for Verspicci to hear it coming, and then silence. Verspicci hit the ground with a dusty thud, his cape settling around him, bleeding out. The surviving goblin came to his feet and rushed over to his comrade. Toderic followed, albeit much slower. They both stood over the body of the dead one, and the goblin spoke. "You are at peace now, you have honored the ancestors, and served the living ones well. I will bring you home to your family, and we will commit you to the dust in which you came..." Toderic was in awe. From what he heard of Goblins, they were one of the less cultured tribes of the East, but yet before him stood one of their kind mourning for another. Though he never had any ill will towards goblin kind, he didn't see anything particularly special about them. Until now, in this moment. His respect for their kind, was now burned into his memory. He spoke solemnly as he introduced himself... "I am Toderic The Swift, and I come bearing a message. A few days ago, your envoy came to Skavenport seeking an alliance and hope of a combined army on the march to Shadowmere. Lord Osric, Called Isentooth, Thirteenth Of His Name, Former King And Current Lord Of All Rats' Breeding, Official Lord Protector Of The Wholeness Of Rodents In Historica, gladly accepts your offer of a unified Southern Nocturnus and Grand Army march to Shadowmere." Toderic bowed in a formal manner. The Goblin saluted with his sword and bowed. "I am called Mitak among my people, and in the name of the Great Goblin Uniter and Traverser Of The Great Sands, Lord Gal-Turok, I invite you to The Reach, to rest up and discuss your travels and information that you may have to share. Come quickly, we must get my comrade home for his final rest!" With that the Mitak ran off to fetch mounts that they had left behind, leaving Toderic a moment of reflection..Old enemies were going stronger, new enemies were beyond measure, countless had died in the initial campaigns, but here he stood, counted amongst the living in attempt to make a difference. Today was a small step towards that... So I hope you guys enjoyed this, my second build of the Collab. I know it was a bit long but I think I got the point across. In any case C & C welcomed and as always Hail Nocturnus!!!!