#1 [fr] 

Day and night, they took turns. They had taken all the time they could to accomplish this arduous task, despite their mutual obligations to their government. They lurked in the shadows, watching the Black Circle camp for a long time, waiting for the best moment to pounce on their prey. In the end, their efforts and patience paid off.

The purple zorai, elegantly dressed, moved on to his camp despite his efforts to reduce the frequency and regularity of his visits. The homin was aware that they were after him, and had been wary since the day they had first unleashed themselves on him as punishment. Without letting his guard down, he left him once the necessary was done, but on the way to one of his secret laboratories, he had the feeling that something was wrong. An unpleasant shiver ran down his spine. That frustrating feeling you get in your dreams, when your muscles no longer respond despite your best efforts, but your senses perceive the richness of the waking world. His concern was confirmed when he caught sight of her out of the corner of his eye.

She was there.

He felt the bark tremble beneath his feet, as if a shala was charging in his direction and it was too late to avoid it. It would have been better if it had been a simple beast than THAT beast.

With fyros-like violence, he was knocked down with a club blow to the torso, followed by another to the liver and another to the head for good luck. Three's a crowd. Breathless, his gaze drifted back to his camp, no longer visible from where he stood. Another problem stood between him and his exit door. His traitorous former apprentice claimed to be preventing his escape, even though she wasn't even wearing her combat armor. The hominin with the torn mask had no intention of defeating him hand-to-hand. She drew on her magical energy and seized the crimson zorai's mind with a stun spell, giving the fyros the chance to finish off the beating of her life. Naveruss crushed each of her hands with precision, finishing off her target with a final strike to the crotch. If taking such an impact was always painful, the action was "futile" in this case following the dispossession the bugger had suffered during their first encounter.

Silence fell over the Shadow Grove. The scene had only lasted about ten seconds, but seemed to have lasted much longer. The pressure was high, both in terms of the goals to which they aspired and the atmosphere imposed by naveruss. Everyone was in a hurry to get it over with. The sorceress quickly searched the mouth of the downed homin for a "poisoned tooth" in case he tried to kill himself - a tempting freedom option in a world where resurrection is commonplace. After stripping the scientist of his paraphernalia, the legionnaire set about sausaging the game he was to her. Once she'd demonstrated her talent for the thing, she drew out a butcher's hook, not very large, dedicated to small livestock such as yubos or igaras.

-What the hell is this? Where are you going to put it?"
-It's to catch his tongue! So he doesn't try to swallow it and get brought back by the Karavan!" replied the Legionnaire, proudly. The Awakened One tingled for a moment at the other homin's favorite object.
-naveruss, put that away!

Nikuya stopped her as she was about to slip it into the mouth of the tied-up rookie to grip his tongue. A precaution to prevent him choking on it, something an individual willing to ignore his survival instincts would certainly be capable of. But Nikuya was firm, and refused to go that far, drawing an animalistic growl of displeasure from the legionnaire.

The operation had to be continued as quickly as possible. Time was running out and she couldn't wait to see their mission completed. They moved the blue sausage off the beaten track, where small shrubs gave them greater stealth. Nikuya went to Min-Cho to collect the caravan of mektoub she had prepared in advance, while Naveruss forcibly sedated her prisoner. Once back, they set about hiding their cargo in an empty shooki drum. More minutes lost! Bending a sleeping, bound giant. He'll be in a lot of pain when he wakes up after such a contortion, especially as naveruss was acting with his typical delicacy!
Quick, put the barrel back on the mektoub!
Always hurry and take it to Pyrénées-Côte d'Azur! Cross the jungle, then the desert, with a poisonous parcel.

On the outskirts of town, Nikuya let naveruss in alone. It seemed less suspicious for an akenakos to enter alone with a shipment of shooki. She entered without difficulty and rode normally with the huge barrel on her pack animal. She walked past the bar to the gaols, where Nikuya was already waiting for her. Naveruss exchanged a few words with the lieutenant in charge. Was it because she was a pyr akenakos, a legionnaire, or just a Naveruss, that the officer didn't object or ask her any questions? Probably all her answers.

And then, naveruss sighed heavily, as if her breathing had been blocked all along. Her swollen lungs emptied, slowly, deeply, and she drew in another breath, contracting again.
This homin chained to his cell was only the beginning. Others would soon follow.


#2 [fr] 

Where's the boss?

He should have returned a few days earlier. Kenny doesn't always know where he's going or for how long, but he does know that the Zoraï always returns to the workshop where he and Pe'anin are based. He's always there in time to take care of his love, not to leave her without care. Now it's taking too long, to the point where the supply is running out; there's never much in advance anyway, some products expire quickly.

Kenny knows how to make products. He's had a good look at the boss, he's done the stuff under his supervision. Mixing the shalah tears with the purified sap, distilling, removing the part too loaded with impurities... He has a doubt about the order of operations. Should the bafeng root be boiled? And that damn still refuses to heat up properly.

He tries once, twice, three times, but the mixture doesn't have the right color or smell. As he tries, his stress increases. The boss is going to be angry for all those good ingredients wasted, Pe'anin is going to get worse if he doesn't get anywhere, and then he himself isn't strong enough to replenish the ingredients, doesn't have enough dappers to pay the harvesters and hunters. In the end, he gives up in a gigantic fit of tears. Pe'anin consoles him, stroking his hair, but still a little acerbically:
- You're a moron, Kenny. Screw these poisons. It's time to get the hell out of this rat hole.

She doesn't know what she's saying, of course. He's not going to give up so soon. He just needs to find the boss, who will arrange everything. He tells his friend, who pushes him away and storms off:
- We don't give a damn about your damn boss! I'm glad he's gone! Untie me, let's get out of here!

She goes into a monumental fit of hysteria, swearing and storming like a storm on the lakes, leaving Kenny trembling, tetanized. Usually, when she's like this, the boss knows how to calm her down. A single glance, sometimes a slap to get her to take a potion, but she doesn't often dare challenge the Zorai head-on. She's not as impressed by Kenny; she knows he'd do anything for her... as long as he thinks it's for her own good. He doesn't feel like forcing her to take a sedative, and anyway, Pe'anin has always been a bit tougher than he is, and his contagion hasn't exactly helped matters. Whining, he promises Pe'anin that he'll come back with a solution, and flees from their hiding place, pursued by the trykette's howls of rage. It's a good thing they're away from everything... it could be confusing otherwise.

He wanders up and down the bark, going to all the places the boss has shown him, the ones he's heard of, at least the ones he can access. There are bound to be other places the boss never told him about. As he says, "you can't confess what you don't know." He ends up at Thésos, because the Zoraï likes this bar. Pecus has seen it, yeah, but it's been a while. As usual, he took his shooki, scribbled in his notebooks and played with his ambers. No, nothing unusual had happened, although a little while before, he'd been chatting with some other homines. Who were they? Fyros, and then an Alkiane.

Alkiane, that means back to the forest. It's Yrkanis, at least, and not the Heretic's Masure. Kenny will have to go there too, but he's not sure how to get to the Matisagoo camp, there are lots of nasty critters around. But the Alkianes, first and foremost. Kenny doesn't like the way the Matis treat him, they're always mean to him, but if he has to go...

To give himself courage, he takes a shooki from Pecus, settles in a corner, hoping for another solution. And there is! Two fyros enter the bar like fury... but one of them looks a lot like a lucio he's seen. Could it be...?

There's a lot of shouting and storming at the bar, and then suddenly there's a homine who must have been upstairs. She runs like she's got all the kami demons after her, and she almost does, because the other two fyros are shouting at her. Kenny stands still for a moment, then shakes himself off and goes back to Pecus:
- The old lady with the white hair? Who is she? Is it Eeri by any chance?
- Yes, it's her, the heroine returning from the Old Lands.

Pecus is as unflappable as ever; it's none of his business if people chase customers into his bar, as long as no one spills blood on his floor.

Eeri... Eeri will know where the boss might be. And if she doesn't, maybe she'll help him look. Kenny follows the two fyros. They've caught their prey a little further on, knocked it clean out. All this violence leaves the tryker stunned. But the boss trusts Eeri... well, all the same, it's a strange business. For a moment, he thinks they're actually working for the slavers or something, and wonders why the guards aren't taking action. Then he learns that the other fyros is Naveruss, leader of the Fyros Legions, akenakos, in short a great leader of the Empire. She's really shaking up the poor homine she's caught...

Kenny manages to have a little chat with Eeri while Naveruss sausages his victim. No, she doesn't know where the boss is. She's looking for him too. Their izams have crossed. Let Kenny figure it out. The cripple can't wait to join Naveruss as he takes the prisoner to the fortress, yet she hesitates for a moment at the pitiful look on the tryker's face:
- So what, you're afraid to go it alone?

Kenny thinks about where else he can look. The Alkianes, the Matisagoo, the Chlorogoo, the Marauders, the Outlaws and other unkind people... of course he's scared, they're all big freaks and nobody likes him among these people. He nods.

- Come on, follow me," says Eeri.

He trots along behind her, relieved to find someone who might know what to do.

And that's how he finds himself watching Naveruss torture the woman she's captured. She happens to be an Alkiane... but Kenny realizes that this is not the time for Naveruss to be tortured. him asks questions. He learns a lot of useful things along the way, and understands quite well that it's a big, big mess. The boss is going to be pleased with what he's discovered... but the boss may already know all this, he may be in the process of explaining himself to the Alkianes, or the people of the Sève Noire, since that's what it's all about too.

Naveruss finally kicks him out, exasperated that Eeri has brought a pet into serious business. Kenny doesn't insist; instead, he skulks around the fortress until he finds a room above the cell, where an air vent allows him to follow the end. He felt sorry for poor Alkiane and what the Legionnaire was doing to her, but there was really nothing he could do. The boss would know what to do, but Kenny doesn't dare take the initiative without his approval. One thing's for sure: when it comes to ignominy, the Fyros are as good as any other nation.

In the end, he runs away. That's not where he'll find his solution, but he has some leads to explore.

Leads he really doesn't want to follow.

He visits Pe'anin again, but she's in no fit state to give him good advice. She's in one of those moments when insanity makes her say anything.

He then wanders around the jungle like a lost soul. It's not going to be easy to find the boss, and the more time passes, the more Kenny is sure that it's not of his own free will that the Zoraï is staying away from them. Meanwhile, Pe'anin's condition deteriorates.

He then thinks back to the Awakened One's proposal. It was a trap, he knows, and if it turns out to be true, she's the one who kidnapped his boss. But maybe there was a little truth to her proposal, maybe she could do something for Pe'anin. Kenny decides to go to Zora. He sees the Awakened One from a distance. Nah, there's no way he'd ask her for help. But she's seen him too, comes closer:

- I'm not going to eat you, you know. You want to talk?

Kenny does violence to himself. The homine terrifies him. She's a freak, too. But if she knows anything... if she can help him!
- Yeah...

They settle down, have a little chat. At least she's not trying to hurt him. Kenny asks her if she can treat her friend, and if she's imprisoned the boss. She says yes to treatment, no to prison: "He'd scare the other criminals too much, I'm afraid. And even his jailers." Although he's been warned of the Zoraïa's cunning, it doesn't even occur to him that Nikuya might be lying to him. If he's told the boss isn't in a Theocracy prison, then he's somewhere else. One less lead! The tryker pulls himself together: the boss isn't going to be happy when he finds out he's gone to Nikuya for help. No, he can't go on like this... he's got to find the boss first!

He runs away, planting the Zoraïe there before she can stop him. His heart feels like it's going to give out from the stress he's under, he's shaking, feeling exhausted. It's too much for him to handle! Too complicated!

Without really thinking about it, he runs off to Fairhaven. A bhyr... or two... to gather his courage and recover... And he'll find a really good idea, right there on the pontoons, won't he?

Last edited by Macduncan (8 months ago) | Reason: correction de coquilles

#3 [fr] 

It's a nightmare. A total nightmare.

Pe'anin is going from bad to worse, he has no idea where the boss has gone, he's scared of his allies as much as his enemies.

So when he receives a message from Rankwai, he takes the diversion with relief. They meet by a waterfall in the jungle. They chat, just like old times. The Zoraïe no longer seems to resent him. Her tattoo is still weird, but Kenny Mac'duncan has never really been interested in that sort of thing; he just sees that even if she's not completely "fine", it's still not as bad as the last time she saw him. I mean, last time she threatened to slice him up. So it's easy to do better.

She asks him if he still has any of the stuff the boss gave him. Kenny's no fool; he knows the boss wouldn't be happy if she took it back. It was a pain in the ass to get her to take it off the hook. Except that the boss isn't here. In fact, he'd like to escape to an artificial paradise, far away from all the bad things in this world.

But there's Pe'anin.

So he proposes a deal to the Zoraïe. His help in making the drug, in exchange for a nice product. After all, she's got the basics too, and maybe between the two of them, they'll be able to make the damn thing. Besides, Pe'anin will be happy to see the Zoraïe. Or not. Pe'anin's mood depends on the direction of the wind, and today it's blowing from the lakes, so she'll be grumpy.


The Zoraïe entrusted him with a letter. He told her he didn't know where the boss was, but she said, "I'm sure he'll come out at some point... If he doesn't, I haven't understood anything, in which case this message won't matter". Zoraïs, always saying the strangest things.

But Pe'anin is doing a little better. The medicine seems to have worked. Then the three of them got high, and it felt good. It's the only thing to do, anyway, at the moment.


The days go by, and look the same.

Then, suddenly, a black izam lands, delivering a terse message:

"Bring clean clothes to the marauding camp."

No signature. The izam is enough. Kenny hooting with joy. He's alive! He's back! He quickly gathers his belongings and leaps so fast that the teleportation fails twice. Then he pays more attention: it's hard to get back to camp without getting eaten.

He meets the boss in the laboratory he's set up here. But his good mood is slightly shattered by the state of the Zoraï. He's lost weight, his body seems to have new scars, and the state of his hands... Worse than that, Kenny almost finds him... fragile. He never shows the slightest weakness. But now he's showing his age, the boss...

Kenny is glad to have him back, though, and can't stop talking as he pulls things out of his bag, dusts off the dusty lab and tries to keep busy, because he knows the boss doesn't like slackers. The Zoraï is laconic. He asks about the tryker's stories, but doesn't say much about his own.

Kenny almost forgets the letter at the bottom of the bag, but fortunately his story reminds him. He holds it out to the Zorai, watching for his reaction as he reads it. Love letter? Break-up? Anything else? Difficult to know. The boss sighs, folds up the letter:
- I've got other priorities right now. I can't linger here, they'll be looking for me.
- Them? Who, boss?
- Nikuya and her fyros dog, Naveruss. Who else? I'm in no condition to put up with them.
- Did they kidnap you, then, boss? I was sure Nikuya was behind it, but she said she wasn't, and then nobody in the Theocracy had heard of anything, and...
- Quiet, now. Be quiet. Get your amps, you're coming with me. I'm going to need Serae Varnili first of all, except that getting to her is going to be quite an ordeal. For you and for me. So save your breath for the road.


Kenny isn't a very good magician. In fact, he's really bad. In fact, if they get away without being called back by the Powers That Be, it's only because they're lucky, but they're not getting anywhere. This makes the boss angry. He keeps looking at his surroundings, as if enemies are coming out of the next thicket.

- I'm going to strangle you if you don't try harder, Kenny. It's not that hard to heal with magic!
- Sorry, boss... I can't do it...

The tryker finally proposed timidly:
- How about Rankwai?
- The last thing I need is a crybaby in my boots, who might sell me out to my enemies!
- I'm sure she won't sell you, boss. What did the letter say?
- Nonsense. Toub, stop waking up all the ragus around here!

The ragus bites the two homins ferociously before they manage to break free. They drag themselves under a thicket, while their regeneration repairs most of the damage. And then, grumbling, the boss finally writes a message, sent by his little black izam.

- We're going to the kami teleporter... and hope she comes alone. And watch your step, you damn tryker!


Kenny sighs as he watches the reunion of the two Zoraïs. You'd have to be called Mac'duncan to see the love between these two, a modest love that hides behind cold pretences and pseudo-threats. But he knows. He knows that, despite his cynical airs, the boss is quite happy that the Zoraïe has come, and alone, and that he's worried about her, because of the faint odor he must be smelling, that of the product so pleasant to smoke. Kenny also knows that, despite his suspicious air and passive-aggressive remarks, the zoraïe is happy to see the boss again, worried about the state he's in, and that she's going to do everything she can to help him. Yeah, those two are true love, even if they'd never dare admit it publicly. He sighs again with a delighted look on his face; at this point, the two Zoraïs turn towards him, with the same look of exasperation, the same gesture suggesting that "enough is enough". They're really in symbiosis, there's no denying it.

Kenny bends down just in time to avoid the dagger the boss throws at him, more awkwardly than usual, then goes for it before handing it back with a big smile. Rankwai is not the type to throw daggers, fortunately.

- We're making progress," grumbles the Zorai. I won't be sorry to get rid of you two.


The Matis guards assemble as the small party arrives at their tribe. The boss moves towards them; the zoraïe and the tryker stand back. They both exchange a glance, and nothing more is needed. They don't like the area, and they like it even less. these matis-là, because the latter would have already bombarded them with spells, just for laughs, if they hadn't recognized the boss.

He chats with them for a while, before returning to his two acolytes:
- I'll be fine. Just go home. I'll have to stay here for a while.
- But... boss... What about Pe'anin?
- I can't do anything in this state, I have to look after myself before I can look after anyone else. You're on your own.

Then seeing the tryker ready to burst into tears, he exclaims exasperatedly:
- I need three or four days! If she dies before then, you know very well what you have to do.
- But I don't want her to die, boss... then I screwed everything up in your absence...
- You're on your own!

He returns to the camp, but turns around after a few steps, shouting angrily:
- One of the camp messengers will come and deliver a potion. Just stop crying, it's ridiculous!


The boss has finally returned to the camp where Pe'anin is based, after too many long days. He's feeling better. The matisse has put him back on his feet. Yesterday, he removed the bandages from his hands. They've been straightened and it's almost as if nothing had happened. Now he's smoking his pipe, finally a little quieter. Kenny finds his boss. Calm, collected, carefully considering what to do next.

As for Pe'anin, she too is... No, better, that's not the word. She's currently stupefied by one of the boss's drugs, so her screams don't wake the whole jungle. Kenny feels angry at those who deprived him of his boss, who are responsible, as a result, for the aggravation of the person he loves most in the world. The boss has told him it's only a matter of months now, that he has to make a decision, or give up. This makes Kenny sick.

- What are we going to do, boss?
- On what level?
- For the bad girls who hurt you.

The Zorai took a few puffs from his pipe before answering:
- Not much.
- But! It's not fair, boss!
- The world doesn't care about justice.
- But it's really not fair.

The tryker clenches his fists, swallows back his tears. Surely, he can't just go and kidnap Nikuya and Naveruss in turn and hurt them. And then he realizes that the boss is right, even if he could do it... it wouldn't change a thing. It would just mean more trouble. The bitterness and impotent anger he feels drives him mad.


Kenny has finally written something. He knows it's useless, but it's a relief.

It will display thisone night, in the cities of the Theocracy and the Empire...

Edited 2 times | Last edited by Macduncan (8 months ago) | Reason: correction de coquilles

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