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Fire Emblem on Forums: Tiny Steps

Prologue: Redoubtful Beginnings

 

Redoubt, Scholars' Redoubt

Spoiler

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As one of the two capitals of the Scholars' Redoubt (itself one of the very few regions of the known world bustling and organized enough to even have those), even in normal circumstances the area outside of the Redoubt is a flurry of activity, with various traders and civilians going around their business in what is a fairly lively city despite its military purpose, not to mention the soldiers and messengers flitting around in order to carry out and communicate their leaders' wills whenever said leaders are at a meeting of the Council of Leaders that lies within the walls of this former human house. Were one to be inside that house, they would find in the lower floor scores of little structures along the floors of most of the house's rooms, as well as holes and ladders in the walls, or converted spaces in the furniture -- the varied and ad-hoc kinds of spaces for bug habitation that mark any bug city, a residential mess where a rather staggering amount of bugs inhabit a space designed for beings far, far larger than them. Going to the upper floor through the ramps and climbs carved painstakingly into what humans had used as stairs, one finds the commercial rooms and workman's rooms, where scattered across the space in a better-organized but still somewhat dizzying manner are shops and artisans' workspaces, a constant noise of many bugs talking and creating and living a taken-for-granted companion in every room except for, here at the Redoubt, one: what had been a place where humans had once hung their garments, lanterns on the walls, seats arranged in the center of the space, various guards standing around the rest of the room at most times. This was the Council of Leaders itself, the place where the mightiest and most important military and commercial leaders of the Scholars' Redoubt met in order to discuss the relationships between their cities, towns, companies, and bands, to discuss the outside world, and to organize their collective obligations. This was where much of the process of organizing the delegations that were being sent to the Scholars' Redoubt had taken place, with bugs grouped up and sent out mostly north to the Scholars' University.

 

But the Council of Leaders had become pretty sick of all of this happening in their chamber, so that's not where the bugs of the last delegations to be sent out were.

 

No, these last delegations were outside, on the paved path from the house out to the small (if only relatively, considering bugs' size) human street that connected many of the ant cities of the Scholars' Redoubt, with various bugs out in the grass and along that pavement. One group was on the path itself, currently, containing no fewer than nine bugs. Six of these bugs were various foreigners and low-level bugs of the Scholars' Redoubt, mostly formed into a group facing across from the three other bugs, all high-ranking officials of the Scholars' Redoubt -- movers and shakers in the region, but right now merely three of the few leaders of the Council who cared enough (each for their own reasons) to personally oversee the efforts to get the delegations going.

 

One of these was a purple-haired woman with a large proboscis sticking notably and rather awkwardly right out of her face, terminating below it where it met with her cheekbone. She was dressed in red and grey clothing, loose and rich-looking, but still quite easy to move in. This was Coyote Crash, leader of one of one of the more powerful mosquito bands of the Scholars' Redoubt, the Roadside Band -- her graceful looks belied an unyielding strength that had allowed her to accept the charge of a much, much larger animal during her youth. She was the most recent arrival among the bugs of this group, with a young and rather excitable-looking mosquito trailing behind her.

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"Here, I'm now present with..." she looked around. "who looks like the last member of this particular delegation. I apologize for our tardiness -- my band has been hunting in the northeast recently, so it took some time to travel." She lacked a speech impediment because her proboscis was on her cheek just high enough to avoid seriously disturbing the movements of her mouth, but it was a close thing. "It doesn't help that my band-member here can... make it hard to places quickly." There was a sigh here -- the woman had been exposed to too much of her younger compatriot's energy for far too long. "Come on, Sting -- why don't you get into the group there? That's the delegation you'll be traveling with."

 

Another one of these three leadership figures was Hierarch Unbending of the City of Industry -- he was the leader of one of the larger red ant cities of the Redoubt, one which may have admittedly lagged behind some of the other red ant cities in terms of raw military might, but which was a powerhouse of craftsmanship that produced many of the goods used in the Redoubt, even (begrudgingly) by the black ant cities, carried by both red ant traders and fly companies. Hierarch Unbending was himself known as a rather stubborn and sometimes ornery man (his name had not come from nothing, after all), but that stubbornness backed an insistence on actually getting things done, even if he had to involve himself -- something not always easy, because he had the legs of an ant, and the lack of feet required him to lean on a cane to keep his balance whenever standing.

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"I suppose that it's better late than never, but I would like to have had this process completed two days ago. I know that..." here, he searched for his words carefully, "some of us may have other priorities with this than strictly efficiency, but this has been reaching the point of being frankly unreasonable. Some respect must be paid to these obligations." He moved somewhat awkwardly for a few moments, then, turning towards the now-fully-assembled group of six standing in front of him. "Right. General Bright is going to be explaining to you your mission, but I am going to ask for a roll call, to ensure that there are no mistakes here -- I've been told that six of you were taken from... various sources, so that does match, but I want your names and who sent you once the General finishes."

 

The third leadership figure was General Bright, leader of the black ant city of Bastion Black-on-Black, renamed during the Peace Wars ten years ago as it had been a major point of the heavy warfare between the black ants of the Scholars' Redoubt and the Loyalist black ants of the east. Nowadays, it was one of the premier military cities of the Scholars' Redoubt, with its soldiers well-equipped and extremely well-trained as a result of the experience and resources it had gained from its enemies and allies respectively. General Bright was named (actually, had named himself upon taking leadership) off of the gleaming armor that he proudly wore -- metal armor, and not just that, but a high-quality set of armor purchased from The Smiths... and he was known for being rather vain about that, despite the leadership talent he really did have. Two extra legs jutted from his back near his ribs.

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"Alright, bugs! Listen up -- you are going to be sent by this illustrious Council," he shifted his pose to make the light gleam off of his armor in different ways, almost subtly, drawing a long-suffering eye-roll from Hierarch Unbending, "to be one of the delegations to the Scholars' Redoubt. We have been told that a scholar by the name of "Brilliant Deduction" is requesting one of our delegations help her with a project, and you are the delegation that we will be assigning to this duty. For now, you are simply to head up north to the Scholars' University and report there, and receive further instruction from the scholars there, finally doing whatever task Brilliant Deduction has in mind. There is not time for this to be a sluggish process, so you are ordered to make a quick pace there, but not so fast that you are unable to attend to your own safety from criminals, raiders, or animals. Feel free to take some time to introduce yourselves to each other now, however."

 

Now, then, it would be time for Hierarch Unbending's roll call, among the six other bugs on the scene -- an imposing mantis in black armor on a bird (he attracted quite a few eyes), a smaller and pinker mantis archer, a large and armored bee and a smaller, younger, and less armored bee, the terrifyingly energetic mosquito who had just arrived, and a rather dinged-up looking black ant.

 

Ebon Knight, Lotus, Pinecone, Stardust, and Sting are in! (And the NPC Recruit Bend.)

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Hiding behind the big bee during the entire speech, the tiny bee had her focus glued to the tablet in her hands. She has been gleefully and meticulously making small, light, markings into it. She had a straight edge and there would be a clean minute to two minutes before she either placed another small light dot, or ever so slightly adjusted the straight edge. As soon as there was a pause in the conversation, almost as if she was waiting to get this over with as soon as possible, she immediately began to speak and for the first time removing her gaze from her tablet.

 

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"I'm Stardust. Pinecone will tell you the rest." Emotionless and straight to the point.

 

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After which she immediately went back to her tablet with the same amount of glee and enthusiasm as before. Continuing to do... whatever it is she's doing.... only this time there was a tiny little humming to go along with it.

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Ebon Knight listened intently to the meeting, though he showed no indication that he cared or was even paying attention. He knew some of the other bugs there had either heard his reputation or were terrified of Blackwing, and he planned to keep it that way. Offers were higher if you were feared, right? He glanced briefly at one of the other bugs as she introduced herself and made a mental note of the names she mentioned, but said nothing. He had decided on the way here that it would be best to keep tabs on those they were working with directly, and she didn't seem interested in saying more anyway.

 

When she finished speaking he waited for someone else to say something, but nobody appeared to move forward. So he mumbled a command to Blackwing under his breath and started talking. His voice was naturally deep, but he tried to make it a bit more gravelly in meetings like this to really play up the "hardened mercenary" thing.

 

"Ebon Knight" he said without much enthusiasm. "And my partners. Blackwing" he nodded to the crow who let out a loud squawk, sure to get people's attention. "And Lotus." pointing at the other mantis, his visible features softening a bit (if only for a split second). "Mercenaries under councilman Far and Wide. Remember this, and don't get in the way.  If you can do that we won't have any problems." He went silent afterwards and looked about to gauge their reactions. They were always different with this speech, and he still wasn't quite sure how effective it was.

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One of the members of the group -- the remarkably dinged up black ant, stepped back a little at the remarkably intimidating little spiel that came from the man with the, errrrh, rather large bird. He gaped for a decently-sized moment, before finally clearing his throat to respond to the roll call.

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"E-er, Recruit Bend, reporting in! From... um, from Fort Vigilant, sirs."

 

After a long pause, he turned to the Ebon Knight.

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"And, uhhhh... I'm... not sure... there's really any need to worry about us... "getting in your way"?"

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Proudly standing among the rest of the troops with an excited demeanor, plain wooden armor without any carvings or paint on it, and a lot of stocky fuzz was a bee who listened very carefully to each and every word that was given to him. However, he noticeably did not have any extreme reaction to any of these words; even Ebon Knight's warning didn't phase him in the slightest. Stardust's words seemed to be just about the only thing that snapped him out of his silent obedience.

 

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"Pinecone of Sunflower Hive, reporting for duty! She and I were both tasked with this assignment, and I am proud to be doing this!"

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Stardust let out a small giggle, whether it was because of Ebon trying to be intimidating or the pansy ant boy no one but her knew. Granted, if she wasn't standing behind her meat wall and surrounded by others to hide behind she'd be shaking in her boots as well.  "Oh, don't worry about me~. I'll be sure to keep a fair distance away from you should there be any trouble. Besides, what's the likelihood of running into anything nasty out there? Only a band of fools would attack a group from the council right? They'll run for the hills as soon as they find out..." There's a slight pause,  "R-right?"

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Ebon's eyes flashed briefly toward each speaker in turn. He was surprised that the big one - Pinecone - had no reaction at all, but the other two were about what he expected. Without looking directly at him, (since he seemed scared enough), he responded to the ant gruffly "You're a recruit, yes? Inexpereinced?"and shook his head without waiting for answer. "Getting in the way is kind of what you do. I've been around long enough to know." 

 

Pausing for a moment to let that sink in, he then turned his attention to the girl with the strange tablet. "And you. You haven't been outside of your hive much, have you?" he asked, almost in concern, though not dropping his tone. Was this really the best they had to work with? "Council affiliation doesn't matter when it comes to life and death. " he began stroking Blackwing's head at this point, and took a moment before continuing when the crow cawed softly in pleasure. "People out there...can be desperate. They'll take what they can get. Bandits, thieves, refugees. All of them." he looked to the council for affirmation briefly, but continued on anyway. "And a small group obviously carrying valuable equipment iis much easier to ambush than an army. Letting your guard down like that is how you get yourself killed on the first night." It was something he'd seen all too often on other jobs, and he hoped it would scare her out of doing something stupid later.

 

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As the large mantis spoke down to Bend, an imposing presence with his face nearly entirely covered in that visor and with what could be succinctly be described as a big-ass bird, the black ant's expression actually changed, from nervousness and fear to a distinct flash of hot frustration, but a flash of frustration that the ant clearly wasn't going to openly express, gritting his teeth and then forcing his face into a calm expression.

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"I do have some experience."

His hand swept down to where a sword would be were one on his hip, whiffed through the air, and his expression changed to one of frustration again. He couldn't keep it fully out of his voice the second time.

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"But-- ah, whatever."

 

As for the councilors, the old red ant crossed his arms as Ebon spoke, leaning on his cane with an elbow, while the armored black ant frowned, and the mosquito band leader raised an eyebrow. Once he'd finished his piece, the last of these spoke.

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"Well now, I think you're being just a little harsh, Mr. Mercenary. Lets see, you're what..." She appraised him, looking him up and down thoughtfully. "Domain? Yes, I definitely get a Domain look off of you. The Redoubt's about what you'd see down there I think, maybe a little less locked down. So in other words, it's not exactly the plains down in Wasp Hell down there. Not to say that there's nothing, though."

 

There was a short, clipped sigh, the old Council member regarding the other older man there with an expression quite unimpressed at the mercenary's theatrics.

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"It's true that we cannot totally guarantee your safety on the journey. There are still some bandits, and especially foolhardy Marauders still come up between hives every now and again. There can also be animals to contend with. You'll want to be very careful about the latter, but the former will at least be in pretty small groups --larger ones always get caught-- and probably won't be the cream of the crop. You'll want to keep on your guard, but we also aren't exactly sending you to war here."

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"Ah so there is some fight in him. Good."  Ebon thought at Bend's outburst, though he found himself second-guessing when he realized the sword was missing. What exactly did he mean by "experience" in this case? Dishes? Sighing he decided to focus on the council's comemnts instead.

 

"Harsh? Perhaps. But efficiency should be a priority on this kind of business," since we arent being paid by the hour, he added mentally.  "and I'd rather not have anyone lag behind. Or die. And yes, I am from the Domain." That much was obvious from his height.

 

He wondered how much he should tell them for a moment before continuing, but eventually arrived at "not much".  "But I've been all over. You have to in this kind of work, and it's better to prepare for the worst than to die unexpectedly to something you thought benign." He grimaced slightly at this last point, knowing full well they probably didn't care if they made it back anyway. But it was worth arguing.

 

 

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Sting wasn't listening to the speech. To either speech. She was much too busy flitting across the road, staring at the lights and sounds of the Redoubt. She'd never been to the Redoubt before. Full of houses and machines and bugs in funny hats. It was all so new and exciting that she'd only barely realised she'd been called.

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"Coming, Miss Crash!", she chirped up happily, dashing across the road at the odd bunch of bugs at lightning speed. Well, fast enough anyway. A little too fast. Fast enough to trip over, what seemed like thin air (but what was probably a loose bit of gravel on the path) and come tumbling down the path and crashing into a large and fuzzy-chested bee. Soft landing too. Not like one of her usual tumbles. They usually had bits of dirt and grass and all kinds of machinery and stuff that she threw herself into.

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"HII YAA~! Thanks for the landing! I'm Sting! I want to become a great superhero!", Or did she? Honestly, she lost track of what she wanted to become this week. Whatever. Not important. She'll do something great and figure it out along the way. "What's your name? Pine-cone? That's a funny name!", she giggled, bouncing up and down excitedly. "But don't worry about it! It's a nice name. What do you like to do for fun~? Oh, this is going to be blast~!" She could have sworn she heard some talk about some bandits or raiders or danger or whatever. Whatever. She was having too much fun already. This is going to be an adventure! Right? Right?

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Pinecone had been standing there with not much to speak (for what use were his words? Listening was much more useful and productive, because then he would be able to take orders at any given moment!) until he had been spoken to directly. In which case, was not the case when someone slammed right into his fuzzy body; due to the amount of mass and fuzz on the bee's belly, he barely even flinched or gave any notice minus turning his head downward once the superiors were not speaking. His smile was unflinching as he did what he did best; listen. While chances are she was not someone who would give him orders, and normally he would not engage, he was told to 'take some time to introduce himself'. So, that's just what he would do!

 

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"Good afternoon, Sting!" Pinecone responded merrily. He didn't seem to get why his name was funny, but he continued to smile nonetheless. "My name is Pinecone, correct! And..." Suddenly, the question brought to him was one he wasn't sure of how to answer. What did he like to do for fun? What... did he like to do for fun? Ah, what was he doing? He was being silly; of course he knew what he liked to do for fun! "Tending to the fields, guarding the hive, and above all obeying orders from my Queen is what gives me joy in life! Hard work is what I strive for, yes indeed!"

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"Ah-heh heh heh... I see..." it seems that wasn't quite the response she was expecting. Still! There's at least 6 other bodies here. She just needs to be behind one or faster than one, both of which were easy to accomplish,  "Just hang in there, Stardust. Just one little trip with these group of nitwits then you'll finally be with people who understand you." With her free hand she lightly slapped her cheek and shook her head,

 

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Suddenly this jumpy bug comes crashing into Pinecone, "Once again, people always go for the big oaf..." She sighed,  "As you can see... uhhh... Sting was it? This guy is about as interesting as a jar of dirt. Trust me when I say you're better off getting to know literally anyone else here."  

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"Like you~!" Sting immediately turned her attention away from Pinecone and  jumped to Stardust instead. Scrambled all over her in a great big bear hug, she stopped to peer over at her tablet. "Whatcha got there? Ooooo~! Prett~y! Must be really fun if you're staring at that all day! And going-" She pursed her lips in a imitation of Stardust's previous humming. Badly. "Puu-tutu! Tu-tutu!"

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When Stardust insulted him and Sting turned her attention away from him, Pinecone noticeably stayed silent and didn't stop smiling; his smile was almost unnerving at this point. When Sting's attention was changed from him, he immediately turned his attention back to his superiors and just watched them as if immediately awaiting an order from them.

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Coyote Crash just watched Sting with a bemused expression as she burst into her typical storm of excitement and chaos.

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"Goodness, Sting, show a little mercy to these poor people, will you? I can't imagine that they can keep up with you."

 

Meanwhile...

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"That bee is just... staring at me, Unbending."

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"Don't break eye contact with him. That's how they take your respect from you."

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"Pfah, what do you take me for, red, a weakling?"

 

The two ants stared silently back at Pinecone.

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If Pinecone heard or noticed the two ants whispering, he did not seem to show any visible input. He did not take this as a staring contest, but he did wonder if he was being sized up or something. If so, he decided to stand tall and proud and of course, not break eye contact! Perhaps if he looked impressive enough, they'd give him an even more important job compared to now!

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Ebon stood silently as Sting ran into Pinecone next to him and chattered incessentaly. He could already tell this group wasn't going to be what he was used to, and that didn't bode well for the mission. But at least they could hold weapons. Sighing, He dismounted and walked past the large bee, glancing briefly in confusion at the staredown happening between him and the councilmen. At least he had Blackwing and Lotus. If they had to they could probably carry this out themselves. Though that assumed the council's report was accurate, and he was still fairly suspicious of that.

 

Deciding that the ones that would be were sufficiently intimidated, he dropped the gravelly tone when he reached Lotus. "So. What are you thinking?" he asked. "This isn't exactly....what I expected when we took this job. But it will pay."

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"Wait wha-? OOF" The tiny bee was not expected to be suddenly surrounded by the arms of this new face. "Breathe Stardust, breathe, it’s only going to be a short time. No need to get all angry." However, as soon as the girl took interest in her work a great big smile grew across her face.

 

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What the bug would see would be a big circle in the middle of the tablet. With a small cube located outside of the circle on the north side, a flower on the outer east side, fire on the outer south side, and finally a leaf of the outer west side. Actually inside the circle were a series of dots of varying sizes with one big dot with a circle around it near the center. However, there seems to be a lack of any sort of dot located in the south western side of the circle. Between the Leaf image and the Fire image.  "Heh, I see someone who finally has taken interest! What you’re looking at is the next great big discovery for big kind! This, my comrade, is a map of all the stars in the night sky!... Well, it’s not finished yet and it’s only through eye sight alone... but give it a couple more moon cycles and I’ll have the entire circle filled! Plus, when I can get the funding more more proper equipment it can be even more precise!" This was all followed by a smug laughter.

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It sounded boring. Where's the fun in looking at the sky anyhow? The sky isn't going anywhere. It looked really pretty, though. All flowers and circles and dots and...she didn't get it. Was it fun? It's not an adventure. Or anything big, flashy and name-getting. Sting merely hugged Stardust tighter and bounced up and down. Faster. And sideways. And are they bouncing along randomly and along the rest of the path? Yes, they are.

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"Weeeee~!!!", she giggled, picking Stardust up and spinning round and round in circles. Now,  this was fun. For her. Probably not for poor Stardust, though.

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Crash stared out as Sting picked up the rather unfortunate bee girl, her eyes narrowing.

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"Ah, fuck."

Next was a long sigh, and then Crash trotted out to jog after Sting.

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"Sting, put the bee down! Sting-- oh, for the hunters' sake, let the poor girl go!"

 

Meanwhile, the ants and the other bee...

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"Yeah, no, nevermind, I think he's just waiting for us to say something."

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"I have to establish strength, Unbending."

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"...sure, Bright, whatever you say. Hey, bee, hold up for a few minutes and we'll finish the briefing and send you off."

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Pinecone perked up the second Unbending had done his work, going into a salute and proving poor Bright wrong.

 

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"Understood! I eagerly await your briefing, sirs!"

 

With a bow of respect, as much as he could bow in his hefty wooden armor, Pinecone marched to the side to 'hold up', get out of everyone's way and, of course, break eye contact.

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"Wha-wha-what!? AIIIEEEEE!" The tiny bee scream as she was lifted up into the air.  "S-stop this nonsense! Put me down! Put me down!" She vigorously hugged her tablet with both arms and flailed her legs around like she was drowning in raging waters. What was with this bug and why her? Uuuuugh, arriving at scholar's university can't come soon enough! 

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A quiet sigh.

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"Alright, I think it's probably long time to get things going, here. Bright, will you do the honors?"

 

The armored man nodded, then drew in a deep breath and...

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"LISTEN UP!!" The black ant general was capable of frankly impressive levels of physical volume, "It is time for you to set off! You are going to be heading northwest -- a map will be provided to you, as well as supplies to help you on the journey, though it should not take more than a couple of days to get where you are going. This is an opportunity for all of you to see wider service to the Redoubt; do not disappoint us! Still, I do have faith in your abilities."

 

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"In blunter terms, we expect this task to be perfectly manageable; this is a fairly basic task as far as we expect, but it is still a fairly important piece of the Redoubt's functioning," Unbending shifted a little, and looked away for a moment -- some of his compatriots might have thought otherwise, but they frustrated him. He had been old enough when the Redoubt had been formed to understand just what its nascent traditions meant, something few others could say. "and this does mean that you should not take this lightly." Hobbling over on his cane, Unbending handed the map to the Ebon Knight, by far the one he expected to be the most competent; for obvious reasons, it did not have text labels, but pictorially it provided a fair description of the known world.

 

Meanwhile, Coyote Crash made her way over to Sting, prying the bee from her hands and then leaning in to speak to her.

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"Be careful, alright? I know you're excited for this, but I'm not exactly intending to send you into some sort of pitched warfare here. You might not be able to earn your name if you do something stupid and end up terribly hurt, you know, and I know you want to earn your name!"

 

With these final notes...

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"ALRIGHT BUGS... MOVE OUT!"

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Near Built Upon Ruins, Scholars' Redoubt

 

Spoiler

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In the thirty years since humans disappeared from the world, the grass that they cultivated around their homes has grown long and unruly, growing inches longer than the height of bugs. It takes significant effort to cut grass, as each blade of grass must be firmly grasp and hacked at, typically without access to metal tools -- it is far from impossible, still, but each blade of grass does take some effort to cut, and what this means is that only the grass near to a city is typically trimmed, even in populous and important cities. The Redoubt is one of very few exceptions to this, with grass trimmed enough to actually count as a lawn, allowing the inhabitants of the Redoubt to see the heads of anyone in the grass. This maintenance of the grass, achieved by a fairly sizable workforce every couple of weeks, is something that is necessary in the case of the Redoubt, as the city's military importance and status as a hub of communication mean that it's vital to keep track of everybody coming in and to prevent any ne'er-do-wells from hiding out around the city.

 

It is the early morning of the second day of your journey across the Scholars' Redoubt, and it has been once again reemphasized to the lot of you that this isn't the case elsewhere. Cutting a fairly direct path past houses and streets and grass on your way to the Scholars' University, you've experienced the stunning contrast between unkempt grass, kept in shade and weaving across curving paths and patches of bare dirt without visibility far out, and the human roads, as exposed to the sun and to other bugs as you can possibly get. Built Upon Ruins, the sole city of termites in the Scholars' Redoubt, has proven to be no exception. You have been cutting past it, and despite the culture of constant single-minded industriousness among its workers which the city promotes, the grass here is as unkempt as anywhere else around its outskirts. Part of this, although it's a distinct possibility that none of you are educated enough about them to know it, is that most of the termite workers are devoted to tasks within the city: artisan jobs, and jobs aiding in the constant reconstruction of the city, hard and dangerous work that takes much of the hive's focus.

 

Whatever the reasons, the upshot of this is that one moment you are walking peacefully between patches of dew-laden grass, perhaps more or less groggily from person to person, the next moment you almost directly stumble into a fairly-sized group of bugs also winding their way across the grass outside the termite hive. There's a total cessation of movement for a moment as both parties register just what is in front of them, the moment exaggerated by the early hour. In your case, you count sixteen of the bugs, all but one armed with various wooden and plastic weapons, and largely unarmored but for bits of padded cloth or leather. The most notable exceptions come at the back, where the leaders of this group stand -- two warriors in wooden half-plate stand around a jacketed beetle with lustrous green wings who carries a tablet, and a bright-haired spider waits with a wooden hatchet, carrying a regal bearing. All of these bugs are wearing different levels of the color red... and this common but irregularly manifested color, along with their diversity in bug type, marks them with little doubt as Marauders. These Marauders are insanely deep into Redoubt territory, as well; these days it is truly vanishingly rare to see Marauders right here in the dead center of Redoubt territory, but they're here nonetheless.

 

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"It would appear that it is time, Seeker."

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"So it is, Wings." Seeker, as was apparently at least part of his name, spoke loudly now. "Come, bugs of the Scholars' Redoubt! We have come to meet you in combat -- to slay you and to take what you possess, as is the way of our people!"

 

TURN 1 ~ PLAYER PHASE

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Two of the nearest four Marauders pipe up, shouting back towards the others.

"Party leaders or not, you better not steal our kills!"

"These bugs are closer to us -- this makes them our fight by right, until either we or they are dead!"

 

Map Notes:

Spoiler

Map Objective: Rout the enemy!

 

Grass tiles (including the ones with the dead grass, those are just there for visual variance) take the place of Forest tiles! Dirt tiles are just normal tiles. The grey overlay there is Stardust's Charisma range.

Status:

Spoiler

Players:

Ebon Knight: 18/18, Eq. Wooden Lance (Iron Lance)

Lotus: 16/16, Eq. Wooden Longbow (Iron Longbow)

Pinecone: 22/22, Eq. Wooden Javelin (Iron Javelin)

Stardust: 16/16, Eq. Lightning

Sting: 18/18, Eq. Wooden Rapier (Iron Rapier)

Recruit Bend: 17/17, Eq. Charming Flute

 

Enemies:

Marauder A: 18/18, Eq. Plastic Sliver (Slim Sword)

Marauder B: 18/18, Eq. Plastic Sliver (Slim Sword)

Marauder C: 18/18, Eq. Plastic Sliver (Slim Sword)

Marauder D: 18/18, Eq. Plastic Sliver (Slim Sword)

 

Raider A: 20/20, Eq. Wooden Axe (Iron Axe)

Raider B: 20/20, Eq. Wooden Axe (Iron Axe)

 

Pillager A: 16/16, Eq. Plastic Bow (Training Bow)

Pillager B: 16/16, Eq. Plastic Bow (Training Bow)

Pillager C: 16/16, Eq. Plastic Bow (Training Bow)

 

Looter A: 16/16, Eq. Wooden Dagger (Iron Dagger)

Looter B: 16/16, Eq. Wooden Dagger (Iron Dagger)

Looter C: 16/16, Eq. Wooden Dagger (Iron Dagger)

 

"Elite" Plunderer A: 21/21, Eq. Plastic Lance (Slim Lance)

"Elite" Plunderer A: 21/21, Eq. Plastic Lance (Slim Lance)

 

Shinywings: 22/22, Eq. Thunder

Seeker-of-a-Dignified-Death: 26/26, Eq. Plastic Hatchet (Hatchet)

 

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SkwoBok.png

Stardust's face lost all color at the sight of all these Marauders,  "Wha-wha... Why us? What D-did we ever do to you guys!" It looked like she was in a massage chair set to full blast with how much her body was shaking. She could drill into the ground at this rate. She ran to the closet cover she could find before lightly banging on her brother's wooden armor,  "P-pinecone you big oaf! Go knock one guy out or something! Use that thick skull of yours and bash somebody someone with it! I don't know and I don't care, JUST DO SOMETHING!" The vibrating bee then turned her attention to the rest of the group,  "T-that goes for all of you! Do your jobs and scare them off!!!"

 

Move to D13 and Activate Charisma+

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