Author Topic: Spritelady's writing challenge 2022  (Read 1138 times)

Spritelady

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Spritelady's writing challenge 2022
« on: March 15, 2022, 12:15:15 PM »
This year, I set myself a challenge to write something creative every month. I thought that posting my pieces of writing here might well help keep me accountable to doing one every month and also provide some entertaining reading for anyone interested in my bits and pieces of creativity.

My January piece was my submission to the Exilian Creative Competition which I hope some of you read and enjoyed and I won't repeat it here but if you haven't seen it, you can find it here: https://exilian.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=6471.0. It was a piece of mythology based in the world of the DnD campaign that I'm currently running.

My February piece of writing was based in the same world as my January piece and was some lore I'm working on for one of the players as part of their character backstory. It gives some details on devils and the hells in our DnD world as well as some common knowledge/mythology surrounding imps in particular (not all of which is accurate, but my players don't know that yet!).

A lot of it is based on classic DnD lore (from Wizards of the Coast) and the homebrew illrigger class (created by Matt Colville), but I'm tweaking and editing as I go to fit it to my campaign world and in places coming up with new ideas, so I still count it as a piece of creative writing for the purposes of my challenge, especially when it came to creating the myths/stories/false information for my players. Let me know what you think the false/misleading information might be!

It's still a work in progress and I'll likely continue working on this information throughout the year, but I've put my current version below.

If anyone finds this interesting/has any ideas for me that spring from what I've written or questions or anything at all really, please let me know because I'd love to chat about the world I've created, its lore and my future writing plans!



Illrigger information
Baator
The armies of Baator’s ranks are filled with devils, led by the Illriggers. An illrigger is expected to journey through Baator to swear their allegiance to their archdevil commander before they are granted the full might of Illrigger powers. Asmodeus, Lord of Acheron, grants powerful abilities to those who swear him fealty. Once this oath has been taken, infernal knights are considered part of the nobility of Baator.

While in service, whether they have completed their oath of fealty or not, illriggers are expected to further the acquisition of mortal souls, to replenish and expand Baator’s armies. To do this, it is important to understand the hierarchy that defines Baator’s society and have working knowledge of the various devils, how they are created and where they are found.

Obedience is a key tenet of life to those who dwell in the levels of Baator. Those at lower levels in the hierarchy obey their superiors without question, knowing that obedience is rewarded. Chaos would ensue should the citizens of Baator choose not to obey their superiors and Asmodeus does not tolerate chaos. To this end, Asmodeus has appointed archdevils to run the nine layers of Baator, some of whom choose to grant particular illriggers abilities beyond those they receive as knights of Baator. Likewise, Asmodeus enforces contracts made by the citizens of Baator, whether it be with other devils or those from other planes. Any mortal creature that breaks such a contract forfeits their soul, which comes to dwell in Baator.

Souls constitute the main currency of Baator, exchanged for power and boons between devils and mortals. Souls are often confined to Baator at the end of a mortal’s lifespan, where they assume the form of a lemure.

Imps
Imps naturally appear as small humanoids with dark red skin, bat-like wings and stingers. They are primarily used to send messages, complete tasks and spy for their more senior masters in Baator.

In Amphictyonis, imps are often blamed for small items going missing, as they were thought to be mischievous thieves and they can become invisible at will. It is also thought that they are repelled by charms made of the fytus plant, a common herb across most of Amphictyonis. It is known that they do not come out in winter, being susceptible to the cold.

Common knowledge in Apophismet holds that imps are capable of shapeshifting into normal animals and are often found in the form of a rat or a raven. They trick and corrupt mortals, and attempt to make deals for their souls.

Storbreigard has several stories about imps, many of which tell that holy water and silver can harm imps. As infernal beings, they are immune to fire and poison and resistant to many magical effects.

Imps can be summoned as familiars by some spellcasters. When this occurs, the imp is completely subject to their master’s will and unable to act on their own impulses.

Jubal

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Re: Spritelady's writing challenge 2022
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2022, 05:38:23 PM »
So an illrigger is... sort of like a devil-aligned warlock thingy? What defines them when on the mortal plane?
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Spritelady

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Re: Spritelady's writing challenge 2022
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2022, 05:45:52 PM »
According to the lore made by the creator of the class, illriggers are closer to devil aligned paladins, with a focus on spellcasting to afflict their enemies.

Essentially they're intended to function as knights and leaders of the armies of the hells. They receive abilities from whichever archdevil they're aligned with (the class option has three possible choices, Asmodeus, Dispater or Moloch) and when they're on the mortal plane they're expected to help gather souls for the hells and further the agenda of their aligned archdevil, as well as potentially leading forces of devils if needed.

The below excerpt is from a book that one of my players possesses, which is one of a set of nine chronicles about the hells. This excerpt is from later in the book, so by the time this section is read, the reader has already learnt quite a lot on illriggers generally. As a standalone piece of writing, I probably should have included some more context!

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Re: Spritelady's writing challenge 2022
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2022, 09:30:17 PM »
Right, that makes a good amount more sense - thank you! It's also true that I don't know the D&D planar cosmology that well, it was never the thing that most interested me about the implied setting as I always felt it was a) the sort of thing I'd be likely to overwrite the details of in a campaign and b) I tend to run games without that very functional-alternate-world approach to the divine, I guess I sort of prefer having religions where the theology is a bit more arguable rather than being something where a high enough level spellcaster can just pop over to Celestia or the Nine Hells and do a quick fact-check on one's demonology texts :) I do like a lot of the stuff around the cosmology, that said, and I think I'd enjoy it as a player, it's just not something I'm desperate to run as a GM/DM.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...

Spritelady

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Re: Spritelady's writing challenge 2022
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2022, 11:58:27 AM »
I have finally got around to writing up some of the DnD game I am currently playing in. It's our DM's first time as DM and he's doing a great job! My character, Alandriel, is the queen of alliteration, being an aasimar artificer armourer (who mostly uses acid splash in combat...). So without further ado, the introduction to our campaign! I'll likely continue writing this as the game goes on, but I've written 1000 words now so it works very well as my March bit of writing. Any and all thoughts, comments, constructive feedback etc welcome!

March: Lost Mine of Phandelver
As the cart trundled along the road, Alandriel Denmilon Pheonie Midivar, heir apparent to the High Seat of Helimbrar, Bearer of the Flame of Gadroth, glanced over at her two companions. Though they had been travelling together for more than two days now, Ali still felt as though she knew very little about the others that Gundren hired for this job.
     The man, Ero Brut, was quiet and imposing. Ali didn’t think he’d said more than a few words since she met him in Neverwinter two days ago. His dark hair was cut short, giving him a military appearance, and from what little he’d said, Ali had gathered that he used to be a soldier. Ali was more than a little curious about the strange scar she could see peeking out of the collar of his leather armour but the man seemed too intimidating for her to just come out with it.
     Her other travelling companion was a woman named Avri. She resembled an elf, but her skin was ashen and her hair was a vibrant red that almost seemed unnatural to Ali. Her eyes were unsettling, completely black with no iris to speak of and she had a scar over one eye. Ali had seen her before, she was a performer that had sometimes danced at parties her family threw at the keep. Ali didn’t know much more about her than that, though in the brief conversations they had shared while travelling together from Neverwinter, Ali had got the distinct impression that Avri was laughing at her somehow.
     The journey had been strange for Ali. It was her first venture outside of Midivar Keep without her family, and without the family coach and the guards. But she had known this was coming. Ever since her abilities had manifested, she had understood that she would be required to go out into the world, to help those who needed it. So when one of her father’s business associates had mentioned needing guards for supplies on their way to Phandalin, it had been decided that this would make a good first pursuit for Ali.
     Her father’s associate, Gundren Rockseeker, was known to be a bit of an eccentric dwarf, frequently coming up with some scheme or other to make money. This time, he claimed to have discovered ‘something big’ near Phandalin. Phandalin was a small mining town, only a two day journey from Neverwinter. Ali wasn’t especially surprised that Gundren had been pulled into the rumours and intrigue of Phandalin. There were many families who thought that the legends of treasure in the ruins around Phandalin would provide riches and fortune. Every year, a few set off to pursue the myths.
     Gundren had chosen to travel ahead of his supplies, with a human escort whom Ali did not know, Silda Holwinter. Ali, Ero and Avri had been instructed to guard the supply wagon on the road from Neverwinter to Phandalin, and deliver the contents of the wagon to Barthen's Provisions upon arrival at the town.
     Ali pulled herself from her thoughts as Ero slowed the oxen pulling the wagon. Up ahead, something was lying across the road. Two vague shapes that Ali couldn’t quite make out at this distance. Ero pulled the oxen to a complete stop and the three of them climbed down.
     “I’ll go see what that is,” Ali said. As the most heavily protected of the three of them, in her coat of thick scale armour, she was probably best prepared to handle anything untoward ahead. It wasn’t unlikely that they would run into trouble – there were frequent reports of bandits in this area. And she was eager to prove her worth. As well as Avri’s strange manner, which gave off an air of superiority, she suspected that the somewhat grizzled, older Ero had a lot of experience on the road. Ali was keen to prove that she could hold up her end when it came to protecting the supplies and making sure the journey went smoothly.
     Ali padded cautiously up the road, her armour clinking softly as she moved. As she approached, she could see that the shapes that had halted their journey were horses. They were dead. They lay across the road, with gaping slashes cut across their bodies. Arrows with black feathers protruded from the two corpses in several places. As Ali moved closer, the smell hit her and she paused, nausea rising in her stomach. The horses had clearly been dead for at least a day and flies were crowded on their eyes and around the edges of their wounds. Ali could just make out a mark on each horse, identifying them as belonging to Gundren Rockseeker.
     “It’s Gundren’s horses. They were cut down on the road,” Ali called back to her companions, glancing back in their direction. As she did, she caught sight of something lying in the road beside the horses. It was an empty map case. Ali knelt down to pick it up, noting Gundren’s mark as she tucked it into her backpack. Behind her, Ero paced forwards, apparently intending to join her by the horses’ corpses.
     Before he could reach her, movement flickered in Ali’s peripheral vision and she jumped back with a shout as an arrow with black fletching suddenly thudded into the road beside her. Looking up, she could see two goblins standing under the trees, barely visible in the thick undergrowth that stretched away from the road. She let out a shout, “It’s an ambush,” summoning a drop of acid between curved fingers before flicking her wrist, hurling the burning liquid at one of the goblins. It dodged to the side, dropping its bow and charging forwards, drawing an ugly-looking scimitar as it ran.
     Ali flinched as a bolt of seething shadows blasted into the ground by the goblin, clearly startling it but not managing to strike it. Glancing behind her, Ali noticed that Avri had apparently decided to climb into a tree and was launching bolt after bolt at the oncoming goblins. Ero had engaged two more of the creatures in the woods, harrying them with his shield and rapier. A fourth goblin had emerged from the other side of the road, heading for Ali. She whirled around, darting to avoid the fierce swings of her two attackers. One landed a glancing blow along her ribs, and she gritted her teeth in concentration as her armour reverberated, retaliating against the blow with a blast of telekinetic energy. Ali grunted as the goblin collapsed at her feet, adrenaline fuelling her movement as she spun to face the remaining goblin. She lunged forward, burying her dagger in its ribs. The goblin slumped against her, dead weight pulling her arm down until she drew back, removing the dagger from its body with a sickening sound.

Spritelady

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Re: Spritelady's writing challenge 2022
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2022, 10:44:44 PM »
So I have fallen behind somewhat in my writing challenge...I got stuck on my April piece of writing and that inevitably snowballed into a delay writing them all.

However, I have finally managed to finish editing my May piece to the point where I'm (mostly) happy with it! So here is an update at long last for those of you reading my writing:

May: Aurora's Tale

Aurora pushed back a loose tendril of red hair, securing it behind one delicate, pointed ear as she refocused her attention on the injured man lying in front of her. His face was contorted into a grimace, the long gash that split his thigh clearly painful. Aurora knew how he felt. The same wolves that had inflicted his wound had attacked her companions on the road. They had appeared suddenly as she and her companions approached the village and their hides had been rent with strange, infected tears. Thankfully, no-one had been too badly hurt, but several of her friends had suffered similar wounds to this poor man.

Aurora let out a sigh, shaking her head to clear it of the thoughts that troubled her. She supposed that after the events of the past few days, especially the attack on the road, it was natural to feel on edge, but there was something strange about the wound that nagged at her. She didn’t know for sure what was bothering her about it. Some instinct seemed to press at her, urging her to look again at the wound she was treating.

She continued cleaning out the deep slash in the man’s leg. Suddenly, as she peered at the split flesh, she spotted something she had missed in her earlier ministrations. Moving within the deep red muscle of the man’s leg were small blue flecks, almost identical in colour to the infected ichor that had spilled from the wolves that attacked her party on the road. Peering closer, Aurora realised she had no idea what sort of infection or disease this might be.

Concentrating, she threw off the mantle of exhaustion that shrouded her mind. As energy welled inside her, she focused, casting a spell to detect traces of poison or disease. As the words of the spell left her tongue, the blue flecks immediately became illuminated with a soft glow, confirming Aurora’s suspicion. Whatever this was that had infected both the wolves on the road and this man in the village, it was some sort of disease. As she analysed the colour, the spell she had cast took full effect and she realised what the light now shining from the blue flecks was showing her. The infection was not a natural phenomenon, it was somehow magical in nature.

Probing further, Aurora frowned as she attempted to push tendrils of the spell deeper into the infection, looking for something that might help her identify more about its origin. But the more she pushed, the more she became convinced that the infection was withdrawing from the spell, somehow avoiding her attempts to identify it. She pushed harder, but the blight was elusive, skittering away from wisps of light that probed into the wound.

Sighing, Aurora finished cleaning out the man’s wound and rose to her feet. Calling over Saundek, the village’s healer, she shared with him what she had learned. Gazing up at the taller man as she finished her explanation, she felt heat rise in her cheeks. She could tell that Saundek had a certain respect for her. As a fellow elf, and a competent magic user, Aurora supposed that was her due, but it made her uncomfortable. Saundek was older than her, and likely much more experienced as a healer, at least in mundane terms. He may not be able to heal with a thought and a word the way she could, but he clearly had a much more comprehensive understanding of the healing arts. It felt strange that he should admire her, an elf who had only left her hometown a few short weeks ago. Until she joined Paula and Spring on the road, she had never left the safety and comfort of Kydegea. And yet, here she was, helping to heal a village of a magical infection.

Aurora pulled herself out of her thoughts and tried to organise her scattered mind. She was getting ahead of herself. Identifying that an infection was present in one man, and a few wolves, was only the first step in healing the village at large. Whatever this infection did, it had wreaked havoc here, the villagers unable to leave the safety of their homes without facing the feral beasts that now roamed nearby.

Although Aurora and her companions had taken care of the pack of wolves that had been roaming, several villagers had mentioned that other animals from the woods had been seen close to Mytilene, all with the same strange blue wounds. As she glanced around at the villagers crowded into the town hall, Aurora’s resolve to help these people grew stronger.

With the herbs she had gathered over the past few days on the road, she should be able to put together a basic healing poultice for those who were injured. They were being kept here in the hall, as the risk of an attack from the infected creatures was too great to allow them to return to their homes. And here, Saundek, and now Aurora, could more easily minister to them and check the progress of their injuries.

Once she had prepared the poultice, Aurora could catch up to her companions in the woods and tell them what she had learned about the blue sickness. With the ease of many hours of practice, she pulled together a poultice and began applying it to the villagers’ wounds.


Later, as Aurora followed the path heading into the woods, she wondered if the others had seen the same evidence of infection that she was beginning to see winding through the plants. Some of the shrubs in the undergrowth were flecked with blue and, peering deeper into the woods, Aurora could see thicker tendrils of blue wrapped around some of the trees. The further into the woods she travelled, the more she saw the signs of the scourge.

Aurora began to walk faster, her breathing picking up along with her pace. Something about the woods put her on edge. The silence was somehow deafening, with none of the usual sounds of forest life. Although Aurora had spent most of her life exploring the woods beyond her own village, now she felt uneasy among the trees and foliage. She had already had to stop several times, the prickling on the back of her neck convincing her that she was being watched, only to turn and find nothing there.

Rounding a bend in the path, Aurora stopped short. In front of her lay a ghastly spectacle. Lying across the trail were the bodies of several deer, leaking blue fluid into the ground from multiple wounds. They had been felled by large weapons, possibly greatswords or axes, and several were singed. Aurora recognised the handiwork of her companions, Spring’s penchant for flames leaving as much carnage as Dane and Paula’s enormous weaponry. As she bent closer, to try and work out what happened, she suddenly became aware of a deep rumbling from off to her left.

Bursting out of the undergrowth, a deer charged, heading straight for Aurora. Heart racing with adrenaline and shock, she dove to the side, tumbling to avoid its charge and rolling to a stop amid the damp leaves and exposed roots that surrounded the path. As she leapt, she spotted gashes along the deer’s side, the gaping wounds held together by tendrils of blue sinew.

Thinking fast, Aurora threw out a hand, channelling energy into the ground. She felt a wave of tiredness flow over her as her spell took effect. Vines and tendrils sprang up, pushing apart the earth and tangling around the deer’s legs. It pitched forward, unable to abort its desperate charge and the deer collapsed under the force of its own momentum.

Aurora lay where she had fallen, panting slightly from both the shock and the exertion of the spell. A few short feet away, the deer lay breathing heavily and making aborted twitches, as though unable to control the movement of its own limbs.

Aurora pulled herself to her feet, keeping a wary eye on the animal. Looking over, she felt a swell of pity for the deer. Whatever this infection was doing to the animals of the woods, she doubted it was comfortable or pleasant for them. Based on the evidence so far, it seemed to enrage them, driving animals that were usually calm and docile to attack at the slightest provocation.

Padding carefully over to the deer, Aurora could see that the wounds the fall had inflicted were leaking blue ichor, a thick liquid that seemed to bind and twist around itself rather than flowing normally. Aurora shuddered. The ichor was such an unnatural colour, almost luminescent and yet somehow dark, tainted by whatever magical force had pulled it into existence.

The deer snorted as Aurora approached, unable to free itself from the plant life imprisoning it, and clearly agitated. Aurora hesitated. It was cruel to leave it there, suffering in the grips of this strange infection, and yet she abhorred the waste of a life. With any other kill, on a hunt in the woods, she would have taken the meat, skin and bones, brought them home and used them to make tools and clothes. She wouldn’t dare use the deer’s carcass, the infection was too strange and alien for her to risk it. And yet, taking its life without making proper use of the materials it provided went against her nature, went against what she had been taught since she was a child.

Lost in thought, Aurora gazed at the deer for several long minutes. Eventually, a particularly savage twist from the deer broke her from her wandering thoughts and she heaved a sigh. She couldn’t risk it getting free and hurting her, or rampaging on to the village, and it was clearly suffering. That meant she had to remove the risk, however much it went against her instincts.

Flicking her wrist, a thorned vine lashed from her hand and struck the beast in the chest. It stilled. In the quiet that followed, all Aurora could hear was the slow, steady drip of the blue taint as it fell to the ground.


As Aurora headed deeper into the woods, she began to notice ever more frequent signs of the infection. Before long, almost every tree and plant she passed seemed to contain traces of the blue canker. In some places, thick vines the size of her arm were wound around the larger trees, somehow seeming violent and threatening, despite the stillness of her surroundings.

Aurora paused to examine one of the vines. Perhaps looking at the infection in a plant rather than an animal or a human might help her understand more about it. Thinking hard, Aurora realised she didn’t know of any other disease or infection that could affect both plants and animals. As she bent closer to the tree the vine was wrapped around, her concentration was broken as she heard a harsh cry from above.

With a burst of raucous caws, a flock of ravens descended sharply from above. They dove towards her, screeching, and Aurora cringed at the broken sound. As they dropped from the sky, she could make out the now familiar blue tendrils that were wrapped around the birds’ throats and wings, distorting their harsh cries.

The flock swooped down to harry her, darting closer, aiming to strike her with their beaks and claws. The razor-sharp talons looked to Aurora as though they might slice the flesh from her, if she let them hit her. Leaping backwards with the grace of an elf, she vaulted for cover, rolling once, twice, before coming to a halt in the undergrowth by the side of the trail. She waited, panting, lying in the damp tangle of fallen leaves and brush. The earthy smell of the leaves and sharper scent of damp earth filled her nostrils as she flattened herself to the ground, hoping that the cover provided by the tangle of bushes above her would allow her a few seconds to catch her breath. The flock circled the area, confused, searching for their target.

Suddenly, as if responding to some unseen signal, the ravens coalesced into a tightly packed group. As one, they opened their beaks, releasing a horrific shriek that seemed to pierce Aurora’s skull and reverberate through her. Desperately, Aurora threw her hands over her ears. The sound echoed on, violent and unnatural. Aurora felt a pressure begin to build in her temples as she pressed her hands even more tightly to her head. She began to feel dizzy, pulsing pain flaring behind her eyes. A drop of blood fell to the ground in front of her. Her nose was bleeding, capillaries bursting from the ringing cry. Aurora knew if she didn’t stop the noise, it might cause lasting damage.

Summoning a burst of energy, she let it coat the inside of her mouth, power fizzing on the tip of her tongue. She screamed out, a desperate cry of “stop!” that she hoped would be enough to break the endless flood of noise. Despite the magic coursing through the word, the ravens ignored her plea. Aurora let the power ebb away, as the drop of blood on the ground was joined by a steady crimson stream. She clutched her head, wondering how long it would take the agony to knock her unconscious.

Luck was with her. Moments later, the ravens’ call ceased. Apparently realising they were unable to reach her, sheltered under the brush as she was, they began to disperse. In a whirl of feathers and sharp claws, they moved away, once more apparently responding to some external trigger. Seeing her chance to prevent the infection from spreading further, Aurora summoned another burst of power. Throwing a hand out in front of her and uttering the word of power, she called forth a burning moonbeam. It blazed from the sky, incinerating the birds.

Aurora fought a wave of dizziness as the spell took its toll, draining her already low energy reserves with the force of its invocation. Climbing to her feet, she spotted another dark cloud in the distance, a whirl of feathered creatures apparently harrying a target of their own. Finally managing to slow her breathing, Aurora began to hurry along the path, fearing her friends may be subject to their own attack.


Clinging desperately to her remaining energy, Aurora paused for a moment to examine a broken branch. Spotting the signs of people having passed this way, Aurora realised her companions must not be too far ahead of her. Glancing up, a thought occurred to her. The flock of ravens she had seen ahead might well have been attacking her group. And the longer she took to catch up to them, the less help she could be. Clenching her jaw, she pulled a small wooden figurine out of her pocket. Grasping it hard, she concentrated, feeling her limbs begin to elongate and hair begin to sprout along her skin. She gritted her teeth against the unpleasant prickling sensation. Her face began to warp and stretch, she fell to her hands and knees, her fingers merging and reforming. Within seconds, she stood on four legs as a large horse. Snorting, she shook off the painful aftermath of the transformation and began to gallop along the path.

As fast as she’d been moving before, it was nothing compared to the speed at which she could now race along the trail. Her ears seemed more sensitive in this shape, and she could hear that the cawing of the birds from up ahead had ceased.

Before long, she rounded a bend and could make out humanoid shapes ahead on the path. Pulling quickly to a halt, Aurora let the magic binding her to the horse’s shape flow from her, returning to her usual form. As she regained her usual senses, she recognised her friends and moved to greet them.

They seemed pleased to see her, Dane’s rumbled greeting joined by Oscar’s calm cadence as he welcomed her return. Paula and Spring’s melodic voices were accompanied by Amplifier’s blunt comment of “decided to join us after all then? Had enough of tending to scraped knees and twisted ankles?”

Looking around at the group, Aurora realised they had clearly been through their own trials as they passed through the woods. Both Paula and Dane were sporting fresh scrapes and bruises, despite the apparent thick skin of the goliath, unarmoured as he was, and Paula’s armour. Oscar seemed unharmed, his pale travelling clothes showing only slightly signs of rumpling, although Aurora knew it was likely that Paula and Dane had been on the front lines of any attack. Amplifier was his usual blunt, chatty self, although Aurora imagined it would be hard to phase him, the mercenary’s long history of working in the midst of widespread conflict having long since adjusted him to the more strange events of the world.

Rather bizarrely, when Spring talked, Aurora could see that their tongue was tinged slightly blue. Aurora tensed when she spotted it. Could it be an early sign of the infection?