T’kk’tck sat next to D’ng at the wooden table as the ship churned down the river. Kelpy smiled over her cup of, something, as it spewed steam into spirals in front of her. On the table lay a map of the river, a map of the marsh, and at least three maps of the city in question. Several architect sketches of the temple complemented the maps. Several lists were tucked into a folder on the side, containing routes of city guards, schedules of various clergy, and names of bribable persons of import.
“All of this-“, he pointed at the table expansively, “-is very well and good but how are we supposed to steal something that you haven’t ever laid eyes on and cannot describe.”
“That is exactly the point my dear Slowthink. I can’t. So you have to. Or well, she does.” Kelpy pointed with her eyes at D’ng. “The thing actively HURTS her. So she just has to walk towards the pain. IT WILL BE LIKE TALKING TO YOU. So entirely pleasant for the getting over with and unpleasant for the experiencing of.”
“We’ll just slide in there, berth in the harbor, unload your NUISCANCE of a crew, you’ll grab the item, jolly your FAT lazy selves back to my wonderful vessel and POOF we’re off to the races, down the river to the turtle and out INTO THE SKY.”
Her speech got ever more and more animated as she spoke until with that last yelled SKY she swung her cup wide and a black steaming liquid scaled the face of the nearest goblin serving her. He screamed, she kicked him and there was some general scrambling that was about to turn into a melee. Sighing, T’kk’tck amplified his voice with magic and shouted:
“ENOUGH!” Everyone froze in place. The goblin had three knives out and was trying to work one into Kelpy’s neck, he couldn’t quite manage it because she had a foot in his mouth and was busy biting his ankle.
“Please, for the love of all that is holy, please resume your seat and refrain from doing . . . whatever it is you are doing.”
D’ng hadn’t moved. Not this time. This same exact scene had played itself out four other times in the course of her explanation. Kelpy would get animated, do something painful to one of her attendants, and chaos would ensue. It was like trying to plan a detailed engineering project with a bunch of three year olds. Drunk three year olds.
Kelpy untangled herself, straightened herself, aimed a kick at the goblin, a kick that missed, and climbed back into her seat.
“Like I was saying it’s easy. You just have to get the item and we’ll make loads of crystals so high you won’t be able to reach them if you had a thousand worthless goblins holding your ladder.”
“It’s exactly the reaching of them that I’m concerned with.”
Kelpy smiled, she probably thought that was reassuring. It was intriguing certainly, but not reassuring. There was a hint of something crazy in it. Something you desperately wanted but weren’t certain you’d live through.
“Oh don’t worry about concerings. I’ve got that covered. Just talk to my man Monswin in the blacksmith shop just outside of port. He’ll set you up. Now, have you ever had Kelpy’s best ever grog?”
The headache was excruciating.
“Remind me, D’ng, remind me to never drink anything that woman gives me.”
A click and a whir of an eyebrow being raised at him gave him all the answer he needed to know.
“Yes, well, last time I lied. This time I mean it. Protect me from myself already.”
T’kk’tck straightened his jacked and tucked a few pistols inside for safe keeping. He brushed back his hair and checked his wands. Finally, he picked up his hat and cloak and nodded at the angel.
“Well, come on, let’s get the men unloaded.”
After Kelpy had initially picked him and D’ng up he’d had her swing by and pickup his platoon. Besides all being super sorcerous wunderkind his family had a long standing practice that each and every of their scions would spend a few years in the military. Not serving as simple grunts, oh no, that would never do for a Greenbeak. They would be outfitted with their own personal companies, arms and armament as befitting their rank.
He was given a mostly drunk half platoon of wounded veterans, and two broken war machines. Which, he would allow, was far, far more than most poor conscripts ever would see. As soon as D’ng showed up she’d set to righting all the wrongs he’d committed. She was opposed to the very idea of disarray and in short order he’d found himself in charge of a very disciplined very ordered platoon of light sappers.
The war machines had been his own work, oddly since D’ng was clockwork she found the process, distasteful. He’d fully repaired, oiled, modded, experimented and manipulated them until they could move almost as gracefully as D’ng. He’d named them Clip and Clop.
Both had the same chassis but now Clip was outfitted with a light arm mounted chain gun, belt fed from a pouch on its right leg. A standard metallic fist held a shield in the left hand. Clip’s main role was to lay down anti-infantry sprays so that the squads in the platoon could maneuver on their foes.
Clop on the other hand was all punch and pull. The left arm was a large gunpowder propelled harpoon with a gear box and chain to pull the harpoon back. The right arm was a mini-cannon capable of firing small 6lb shells out of an auto loading clip.
Both were capable of choosing targets and engaging on their own but anything more complicated would require T’kk’tck to magically take control of the machine and give guidance. Third squad acted as the maintenance and transport squads for the two.
It was sneaking such obviously military issue items into the inner perimeter of a ‘safe’ city that was the problem. Most mercenary hubs, like the one they had just left, had no issue allowing mercenary companies to come and go as they wished. The companies themselves would keep the peace and any group that thought they could get froggy would soon find themselves overwhelmed by all the others.
But ‘safe’ cities maintained their own city guard and cannonades along the walls to ensure that all travelers entering the city were unarmed and ‘safe’.
Kelpy had found a way around that. The blacksmith section of town routinely unloaded and loaded huge crates of ore, metal, sand and other industrial supplies. They self-inspected due to an arrangement between the city guilds and the guard unions and one of the inspectors was corrupt.
She’d pulled her ship into the harbor, loaded all of T’kk’tck’s men into a big cargo container and had them carried to the dock. All that was left for him to do, was walk over to the container after dark, open it up, and begin the infiltration of the city. Clip and clop along with 2nd and 3rd squads would stay here, next to the docks to provide emergency exit support. T’kk’tck, D’ng, and 1st squad along with Kelpy and her animus of a stone lion, would just avoid the city guard, slip into the temple, find the item, and skedaddle. What could go wrong?
Everything. Especially with Kelpy. Which only added to T’kk’tck’s monsterous headache.