Master Vastar's dark eyes estimated the group:
Kimbria was a journeywoman, and therefore under his command. Thank God for a person of magical reasoning and dependable spells.
Antheon was a guardian of the Magic University. Vastar was certain the man would do anything to forward his needs.
Stitch and Heidi were powerhouses – fighters of solid capability – so they would probably follow his orders.
Rick was an Earthblood – and that threw him into careful consideration. He had guardian spirits teaching him monk fighting abilities, and the spirit's were awol.
Klor was the keeper of the Hand-footed crows. Where were they in all this? The male lived on the Dragon Isle and was certainly missed.
And Keer. A Dragonrider. While he seemed to go where Fate opened the door – he deserved all respect.
An unusual group, and he wished for more mages. “I have spoken with Civar. He is a plant-like being anchored into the land, and probably one of the original inhabitants of this place. Civar believes that living so close to this ragged dimensional edge has affected his thoughts and memory. However, there is still much he can tell us.
“Recap.” The Master waved his hand to indicate the bleak land around them, “They call it 'The Dagger' or 'The Daggerland' – probably related to it's shape as well as it's current function. We have gone through the area called the 'Cutting Edge' and a group of beings and monsters ride this edge. They can range through the dimensional collision, raiding and gathering, and then bringing plunder to this dimensional chip. As the shard slips further through the dimensions, the gathered beings are stranded. These waves of contact and gathered things are called 'Slices' and we are the New Slice.
The group nodded.
“As The Dagger moved to our dimension, a being was allowed to 'escape' – she brought some warning, but also -it seems- directed some attention. Something moved the Dagger to stab at Thark. It is not just a randomly traveling disaster. Some hand holds the weapon and causes it to strike – I conjecture that it is either the 'Slice Lords' that control the land, or that in some way they know about it and function within it. It is this mystery that we must unravel.
Vastar continued the conversation, “We must do it quickly, while we have some hope of escaping back to our own world. If we do so quickly, then we have the hope of limited support from our world. When I say 'quickly', it is merely an arbitrary time frame. So far, we have not spoken with any being that can give me a measure of how long 'a slice' takes – let alone being able to compare it against our world's measure.
Antheon nodded, “Where do we get started, Master?”
“We start here. The Cutting Edge. There is a Slice Lord here, and by disrupting their raiding, we are aiding our world, learning the patterns of transferring to this space, gather more information about the rest of this Daggerland. We will travel up the edge of the blade to it's point. I would prefer to speak with this Slice Lord – The Emperor of the First Bite – alive, but dead will do.”
Kimbria dusted her hands together. “When do we get started?”
“Let us stay at this Inn you found for the night. Rested, we will begin early in the morning.”
* * * *
Master Vaster knew they were somewhere near the dimensional collision edge despite the dim light of a dying sun. The fog had increased, and there was a underlying 'white noise' scream. He also knew there were intelligent beings shadowing them.
With no cover to speak of, he finally pulled to a stop, indicated the others should fan out, and spoke. “Alright, we know you are there and you know we are here. What now?”
There was some shifting and setting for fight noise that followed.
Antheon slipped into a shielding position in front of the Master. A low, and kinda-of to the side position that would allow him to shift in front of the mage if needed.
“Speak friend in orc.” Came a flat statement.
The adventurers looked amongst themselves. The group was not well traveled in orc circles.
“There is no real word for 'friend' in the orc language. I think they borrow from goblin if they need to, but there is a word for 'Lord' or 'Family' if you like.” Vastar's voice was confident. He provided them.
Keer provided the goblin word eagerly.
“Peace then. We are from DarkFawn too.”
A group of warriors cleared the fog, approaching with care.
The one seemingly in charge of the group pointed, “Kimbria? Cousin?”
Kimbria grinned and fell into conversation with the teifling in Tivalerian.
The warrior party gestured and walked the people in one direction. Both groups fell in together, still at guard, but feeling better about potential allies.
Master Vastar tried to follow the conversation, and caught the word 'General' at least. An organized resistance – albeit broken. His mind sorted; there were holes in the raiding system. Whatever the edge effect, it had broadened to reach Tivalera – or the other teifling had been coming to Thark. His mind reached for the implications as they walked, leaving the details of the landscape to the others.
They reached an organized camp. While piece-meal, it seemed organized. There were people from Thark there, and his name was soon spoken aloud. He tried to sort the people he saw into easy categories – adventurers, not mages.
“Move aside for the General!” came the cry as a group swept over to him out of the fog.
He found himself enveloped in a hug. A strong hug. “Trivanna! Report.”
She let go of him and dispensed with all the 'Oh-I-am-so-glad-to-see-you' rhetoric. Thinking before she started, her eyes also took in the rest of his group. “Once the first few waves past, we realized there was a pattern they attacked in. Regular. Like a heartbeat. The field works independently of the attacks, so people and things are still swept onto the Daggerlands regardless of the monsters that come through the gather. We have organized attacks from both sides, and have managed to pound some cracks into their gathering creatures.”
Vastar nodded, sorting the information as it poured from her.
“Crossing seems to be one way, accept from these things from 'the Cutting Edge'. We haven't been able to ride one back yet. They seem addicted, listening to some music. It is possible for people of DarkFawn to become addicted – Elistar is one.” Trivanna squeezed her hand into a fist, “We are striking at the Cutting Edge. We can't stop the effect, but we fight against the raiding.”
“Reports say in what's left of Thark now.” She shook out her hair. “You must have many more questions. I have questions for you. Come into my tent.”
“We will recover your son.” Master Vastar said evenly.
“It will not matter. He is addicted to this Edge.” She gestured to include the group.
“Through knowledge will come a solution. Tomorrow night, I will require a meal for Twyl. He comes to dinner weekly.”
“Is that a good idea? I mean...”
“It is always good to see Twyl. The rest is up to him.”
“We have a strike planed for tomorrow.”
“I believe you can count us in, General.”