Tag Archives: Lady Coldstar

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Back to the Farm #storytelling #demaria #otherspace

As promised, a herd of bumblers comes rolling into the village of Fakalienstadt on the third day. Razorback dismounts as soon as he is in sight of Greenwater’s home, looking around carefully and scenting the air in search of a potential trap.

Whiptail follows along keeping the herd in check. As they reach the village, he brings his mount to a stop and surveys the village in a similar manner, his eyes looking for anything out of the ordinary.

Fluffpaw follows the herd from the rear, her namesaked fluffy paws looking a little droopy and dusty. Her ears flick back and forth anxiously, every now and then turning to look behind her but instead just urges the bumblers onward. Once they’re all milling around lazily, she slowly nudges her mount forward, toward the rest of the group.

Whitepelt tracks along a short time later, tossing one of his daggers skyward, catching it by the hilt, over and over. He has little to say.

Razorback approaches Greenwater’s home and gives the door a knock, his ears canted alertly forward.

The door opens just a crack. Greenwater peeks through. “Yes?”

“Mr. Greenwater…” Razorback says, gesturing behind him towards the bumblers, “Your herd…”

The farmer opens the door further, looking out at the bumblers munching on the dusty grass outside. He looks at Razorback, then at the other wranglers. His eyes return to the Cliffwalker. Tears glisten. “You saved my family. My village!” He looks at the ground. “I can never repay you.”

“Well, t’weren’t nothin'” Whiptail says. “Anythin’ to put that Coldstar in her place, I’m all fer it.”

Fluffpaw’s ears flick back and forth as she inches forward. “What’s gonna stop them from coming and taking the herd again as soon as we’re gone?” she wonders aloud.

Razorback still seems agitated and alert, his ears swiveling around. He nods in agreement with Whiptail. “Some of us could use a warm meal and a bath, most likely,” he says, “But nothing beyond that.” Glancing behind him, he turns towards Fluffpaw. “The original herd was sold to compensate for higher taxes from the Coldstars,” he says, “And if that continues and the underclassers do not push back, and the surrounding nobles do not aid them,” he glances over at Whitepelt, “this will all fail.” (edited)

Greenwater opens the door further to grant entrance to the group. “You are welcome in my home, of course.” He bobs his snout in the direction of a human male sitting on a hide-covered couch in the common room. The man wears a dark suit that seems untouched by so much as a grain of sand. “I think you know Mr. Colclough.”

The Consortium Intelligence agent nods at Razorback. “Indeed.”

Whiptail looks between the human and Razorback. “What in tarnation?” he says, his tail twitching a bit in anxiety. “Somethin’ goin’ on here I should be knowin’ about, young feller?” he says to Razorback.

Fluffpaw is last one in and so she’s trying to peer between the furry bodies of her comrades to see who is getting gestured to. And her gaze goes between Whiptail and Razorback, tail lashing anxiously based on the tones going around. “What’s wrong?” she queries of the older Demarian.

The Cliffwalker is taken aback by this, his eyes narrowing, somewhat. “So it would seem,” he says to Whiptail in Demarese, a faint hint of a growl in his voice. “Mr. Colclough,” he says, switching to his heavily accented Terran, “I feel now as though I should have expected you. What draws your attention to this small village.” He scents the air more carefully, searching the house for evidence of any further surprises.

Colclough gives the faintest of smiles to Razorback. “This small village may well be the epicenter of recent problems in this planet’s capital.” He looks toward Greenwater. “I have been associated with this fellow for some time. He has provided significant information about the activities of Lady Coldstar and her minions.”

Whiptail raises an eye ridge at this. “So… you sayin’ we’re all on the same side here?”

“Who are they?” Fluffpaw queries. “Are they going to hurt the herd?” She clearly has her priorities and they have very little to do with the people inside.

“Of course you have,” Razorback rumbles to Colclough, “Two of my comrades died fighting something you could have put a stop to at will.” He glances over at Whiptail with a nod. “Indeed. For the moment at least,” he says before turning back to Fluffpaw, “Mr. Colclough works for the Consortium Government. He likely has no interest in the herd.”

“True enough,” Colclough replies. “My interests are of the bigger-picture variety. Specifically, I have reason to believe that Lady Coldstar and her allies played some role in the recent plot against the Consortium president.”

“Say what now?” Whiptail says. “I thought we were jes gettin’ a herd, what’s this all about tha President?”

A low rumbling growl builds up in Fluffpaw’s chest. “Why would anyone care about your President here? All we cared about what finding the herd.” She pins her dark stare on the client. “Why would you get mixed up in things that don’t matter?”

“There is some sort of effort being made to destabilize relations between Demaria and the rest of the Consortium,” Razorback explains to the others, “Including a conspiracy to use a Demarian assassin to kill the President.”  He looks to Colclough, his ears tightening a bit. “Though what Coldstar has to do with that, I know not.”

“Her brother with the scar might’ve been able to tell us more,” Colclough replies. “He had some communication – encrypted, we’re still trying to break it – with the agent who assassinated our friend aboard Galactix. And funds from a Coldstar-owned offworld company may have been transferred to the agent’s family after her death. Hoping to confirm that soon.”

Whiptail listens to this, and his eyes narrow. “Sounds like Coldstar jes ain’t our problem…. that pile a’ bumbler shit is a bigger threat than even I figgered.”

“I do not believe the scarred one survived,” Razorback rumbles quietly, “Though I doubt this is new information to you.” He sighs, glancing out at the herd for a moment as his tail twitches faintly behind him. “I do not suppose you would be interested in helping me compensate my companions,” he says, gesturing towards the other Demarians in a way that includes the biker outside, “If what you aim to do will help rid these farmers of their oppressor, I will aid you. But I can ask no more of these folk than they have already given.”

The Consortium agent quietly studies the companions for a few moments before returning his attention to Razorback. “Up to them,” Colclough says. “If they’ve got an interest in working against Lady Coldstar, I can see that they’re paid.”

“Ye got my support, young’un.” Whiptail says. “It’s time ta clean house.”

“Indeed,” the Cliffwalker says in agreement with the wrangler before turning towards Colclough, “How can we be of service in this matter?”

“You won’t like it,” Colclough assures Razorback. A taut smile, then: “We need to return to Alhira. The inspector wants to follow up on that interview.” He regards the others, adding: “And, of course, Senator Sandwalker should meet you all.”

“Been quite a spell since I’ve been to tha big city.” Whiptail says. “Wonder how it all looks now.”

Razorback’s ears flatten at Colclough’s pronouncement, a faint growl of irritation escaping him. “You are correct,” he grumbles, “I do not like it.”

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-demaria: Fluffpaw

Razorback strides into the town, making a direct line towards was passes for a livery stable on Demaria. “How many mounts do you think we might need?” he asks his companion, his eyes and ears scanning his surroundings for both likely recruiting prospects, or potential dangers.

“One fer each of us.” Whiptail says. “At least another for carryin’ provisions. If we manage to snag any more folks, one for each.”

The Cliffwalker nods, stepping into the stable. A rather uninteresting conversation takes place as the pair negotiate for the price of the bipedal reptiles that serve as mounts in this part of the desert. Meanwhile, Razorback makes sure to let the stablekeeper know that they seek individuals to help with the drive, individuals with fighting skills as well as those needed for the round-up. As they depart, Razorback turns to Whiptail, “I suppose the local tavern is the most likely place we shall find those we seek,” he says.

“Waaaaaiiiiit…” A thin voice wails loudly from just outside the border of the village. “No, not that waaaaaaaaaaay…” There’s a commotion rapidly heading down the street that has curious passersby jumping out of the way. “Stop, pleeeeeeaaaaaase…” The last word of each sentence bounces along with a breathy pleading of someone trying to shout and run at the same time. Into view first pops a panicked and bolting dribgib, squawking its displeasure, even as it runs. Chasing it several paces behind is a tired and bedraggled young Demarian female. Her pace is fading, even as she struggles to pick up the pace after the errant bird.

“Yah, I figger that’s tha best place to grab some wranglers.” Whiptail says, just as the dribgib runs into view. He doesn’t even think. Instantly his hand goes to his rope and a lasso is quickly formed, and with a quick twirl above his head, he sends it sailing towards the errant critter.

The Cliffwalker’s ears swivel towards the source of the commotion and he seems nearly ready to spring into action. As Whiptail’s lariat settles neatly around the neck of the bird, Razorback seems quite relieved that he does not need to run the creature down. “Well thrown,” he rumbles, moving instead to flank the errant avian.

The dribgib squawks as it feels the rope around its neck, skittering this way and that to test its bonds and seek some way of escaping. Wings flap out in a warning fashion as Razorback approaches but now that it has come to a halt, it seems too tired to really put up too much of a fight. This gives enough time for the chasing Demarian to finally catch up with the group, gasping loudly for air as she drops to her knees right on the street. “Thank you so much,” she says gratefully, every inch of her drooping down in her exhaustion. “I’ve been chasing him for miles.” Up close, her fur is a smoky silver grey with the first tinging black at the tips of her ears and tail, as well as the feathered fur at all four paws. She’s young but not a child.  “He escaped this morning from my father’s farm and I’ve been trying to catch him ever since.”

Whiptail hollers ‘WHOA THAR” as he keeps a firm grip on the rope to get the bird to slow down. “Think nothin’ of it ma’am.” he says. Being this close, she can see he is pretty elderly, with orange tabby fur.

Once the dribgib comes to a halt, the tall, black-furred ex-noble comes up to grab the rope near to the neck to assure the bird’s continued immobility. “That is quite the chase,” Razorback says in surprise, “Perhaps we had better find some place to restrain your errant friend here while you rest from you journey.”

“Bad Flap,” the Demarian female scolds as she pushes up  off the ground slowly, giving a little shake to try and dislodge some of the dust that clings to her fur. She comes up on the other side of the dribgib, her paw brushing gently over the bird’s neck and head to soothe away the last of the animal’s jitters. Her ears flick back and forth anxiously but she nods. “He could use some water probably.” She pauses briefly. “I think I could too, actually.”

“Well we’re jes about to hit the waterin’ hole, maybe you kin join us.” Whiptail offers.

“Of course,” Razorback says in agreement with the older Demarian, “There were a few dribgibs in a corral back at the stable,” he says gesturing that way, “I doubt the proprietor would mind keeping an eye on him for a short time.”

With a relieved sigh, she pats the bird’s neck one more time before stepping back with a nod. “I’m Fluffpaw and this is Flap,” she introduces. “We’re both grateful for all of your help.”

“Name’s Whiptail, and it ain’t no problem, ma’am.” he says, doffing his hat to Fluffpaw. “Not my first rodeo, that’s fer sure.”

“I am called Razor,” the Cliffwalker adds, dipping his head respectfully as he moves towards the stable, dribgib in tow, “And as my companion says, it is no trouble. Your father is a dribgib farmer, I take it?” He waves the stablekeeper over as the conversation progresses.

Fluffpaw’s whiskers twitch as she keeps pace with Flap, one paw kept on the dribgib’s back. “Yes, my father has a good sized farm a few miles north of here,” she explains, head bobbing up and down. “Spent my whole life tracking dribgibs for him and helping out on the farm.”

“Sounds like my kinda life.” Whiptail says.

After a brief exchange with the stablekeeper, Razorback begins leading the way towards the local tavern, leaving “Flap” in a corral with several of his own kind. “If you are familiar with the area, it may be that you can help us,” he says, “We seek several individuals for a wild bumbler drive; such that can ride hard and take care of themselves in the Sand Mother. Do you know of anyone that might be interested?”

Fluffpaw’s ears perk with curiosity, flicking back and forth rapidly. “What parts you going through?” She asks. “I’d bet no one knows this area better than my father and he’s taught me all he knows. If you needed help, I bet he’d let me go for a while.”

“Hard ta tell where when yer bumbler huntin'” Whiptail says. “We need folks, and you got experience, so we’d be happy to welcome ya aboard.”

The Cliffwalker looks back and forth between the two, concern building on his face. “I do not intend offense, Miss,” he rumbles, “I doubt not your abilities. But our road may take us under fire from those who would see us fail. You may be many things, but you do not seem a killer.”

The excitement from Whiptail’s welcome is almost immediately marred with Razorback’s concerns. Fluffpaw’s tail sways back and forth as she considers her words. “I’m not a killer,” she finally says. “But I don’t like people trying to take what isn’t theirs. We’ve had poachers and thieves trying to pick at my father’s farm for years and we’ve never let them go without a fight. I don’t murder, but I don’t get pushed over either. If that’s a problem, I don’t think I’d want to help your kind.”

“I think what my friend here is sayin’ is, there’s some folks out there who don’ wants us ta succeed. Ya see, we’re helpin’ someone who’s got a raw deal, and there might be some folks who don’ want that.” Whiptail says. “So I’d say if yer prepared to scuffle a bit if someone tries to get in our way, you shouldn’t have any problems.”

“My concern,” Razorback says, his voice quieting as they approach the tavern, “Is that there might be somewhat more than a “bit of scuffle. Lady Coldstar’s minions have no issue with killing, and to defend ourselves we may need to be prepared to do the same.”

Fluffpaw lifts her chin, whiskers twitching. “I’m fast, quiet and can hold my own,” she says determinedly. “Like I said, I don’t try and do others harm but after living out here so close to the Sand Mother for my whole life, you either do what you can to protect yourself or you end up dead. If you’ll take me, I won’t let either of you down.”

“I think that’s about all we kin ask, ma’am.” Whiptail says.

Razorback’s ears fold against his head, his muzzle creased in a frown. “I only hope it is not you who is let down,” he says, finding himself out-voted as he steps into the tavern.

“I know this area better like the grooves of my paw,” Fluffpaw says firmly, with the confidence only youth can bring. “If you’re trying to succeed anywhere around here, having me will make it a lot easier.”

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[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-demaria: Whiptail

Razorback Cliffwalker, still in his “disguise,” finds his way to a small hut, far off the beaten path, on the edge of the desert. He takes a swig from a water skin, his tail lashing with anticipation. His ears swiveling about cautiously, he moves up to the doorway and gives it a quick, staccato knock.

The door doesn’t open, but instead, a small door at the top at eye level opens, and a pair of Demarian eyes shine from within. “Yeah. Whadda ya want?”

“Someone to help round up wild bumblers,” the Cliffwalker rumbles back, his ears canted cautiously forward, “I have been led to believe that you are the best to be had.”

The door opens a bit, the sunlight shining upon an elderly orange tabby Demarian. Elderly, but still in good, well-maintained physical shape from the look of it. “Izzat right? Well, you heard right. Whiptail’s the name. You know who I am, so hows about tellin’ me who you are?”

“My friends call me Razor,” the dark-furred felinoid replies a faint smile showing a glint of his fangs, “And I have some work that may interest you.”

“You got my attention when ya mentioned bumbler herdin’.” Whiptail says. “’bout how many are we talkin’?” he says, opening the door fully and stepping out a bit into the full sunlight.  “Course the most important question is, how much ya payin?’

“We will need something on the order of forty heads,” Razorback says with a nod, “As to pay … I am doing this to help preserve the life of the farmer in need of them. What would you consider fair recompense for your time and effort?”

Whiptail widens an eye at this. “Now, what is this about savin’ a farmer’s life?”

“I do not know if the Coldstar clan is known to you,” the Cliffwalker says, his brow furrowed grimly, “Lady Coldstar has imposed, and consistently raised quotas on the underclassers who work her lands. A Mr. Greenwater is being threatened with death for not being able to pay his tax. Without an increase in his herd, he will face execution.”

Whiptail narrows his eyes. “Ya better believe she’s known to me. Heart of stone, and greedier than fire in dry grass.” he snarls. “Ferget the money, son.” he says, then disappears into his hut. After a few moments, he returns, a hat perched on his head, a coil of heavy rope thrown over his shoulder like a bandolier, and on his hip, an old, but serviceable, pulse pistol. It’d be recognizable as Demarian guard issue, 50 years ago. As he hoists a rucksack over his other shoulder, he steps out, and locks the hut door behind him. “This one’s on tha house.”

The Cliffwalker smiles toothily at his and nods his agreement. “Well met,” he replies, “Now, I have tracked and hunted desert bumblers for years, but as a herdsman, I confess my skills are limited. Tell me what we need, and it shall be done.”

“Patience is the top item.” Whiptail says. “But we’ll need mounts to corral ’em.”

“Mounts can be done,” the Cliffwalker says with a nod, “Will the two of us suffice?”

“The more we can get wranglin’, the better our chances.” Whiptail says. “Tricky critters, them bumblers.”

“To town it is, then,” says Razorback, “And I shall do what I can to let it be known that additional riders are needed.”

“Sounds good ta me. Anything to cut that sand snake down to size.” Whiptail snarls.
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[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-demaria: Crap Job

Razorback Cliffwalker comes walking into the little town, his typical clothing replaced with cheaper canvas work-clothes. Also missing are his body armor, his signet ring, and most of his weapons. On his back, he carries a large, long bag, its strap slung across his chest. His only obvious armaments are a pair of short swords.

It’s about this time that Razorback might see a farmer on his knees in the town square, staring up at the scarred muzzle of an armored Demarian who bellows: “You’re behind on your quota, Greenwater!” He kicks the farmer in the chest, causing Greenwater to fall over backward with an OOF!

The Cliffwalker stops in his tracks, his claws slipping out for just a moment. Deciding that not knowing the lay of the land, violence might make this worse, he moves swiftly to the side of the farmer. He helps him to at least a sitting position, but does not say anything to the kicker.

The scar-faced Demarian glowers at Razorback as he helps the fallen farmer into a sitting position. “You assume responsibility for this sludger?” He jabs a clawed finger toward Greenwater, who flinches despite the lack of actual contact this time.

Razorback glances up at the other for a moment before he nods. “What do you require?” he asks, his dialect betraying him as a stranger at the very least, “And whom do you represent?”

“Coldstar expects farmers in her service to produce the agreed-to quantities,” the scarred Demarian answers. Another finger jab in the air toward Greenwater. “Lackards suffer.”

“How much time is Lady Coldstar willing to allow for Mr. Greenwater here to make amends?” Razorback asks, “There is still a month left of this growing season, no? And Mr. Greenwater would likely be far less productive if he were say, missing an arm.”

“Time?” The scarred Demarian starts cackling. “He’s been short on his deliverables for three months running. His time’s up.” He draws a knife from a sheath dangling from his hip. “Lady Coldstar’s exhausted her patience for Greenwater here.”

“I understand,” Razorback says with a nod, a paw held out, claws still hidden. “But surely if we can make it up in the next month, it would be worth it, no?”

The overseer frowns, clearly disappointed by rational intervention. However, he doesn’t reject it out of hand. “Two weeks. If he fails, he suffers. *You*  suffer too.” This time, he’s jabbing air in front of Razorback. “You really want to make him your problem?”

“Do you have any unharvested crops?” Razorback asks Greenwater quickly.

The downtrodden Greenwater looks up at Razorback, jaw dropping. “Crops?” He shakes his head. “I don’t grow…”

The scarred Demarian guffaws, clutching his belly. “Crops! Ha! That’s right, Greenwater! Where you hiding all those unharvested *crops*?!”

“Fertilizer,” the farmer mumbles from below.

“That sounds too elegant,” the overseer snarls. “He shovels bumbler shit!”

The Cliffwalker nods without blinking. “Very well,” he says, rising to his full height now and making eye contact with the scarred overseer. “You may tell Lady Coldstar to consider it done,” he says.

“See you both in two weeks,” the overseer growls. He pats the knife in its sheath. “Best not disappoint the lady again.” With that, he turns and strides toward a waiting hovercar.

Razorback doesn’t move until the hovercar is out of sight. Once it is, he reaches down to bring Greenwater to his feet. “Are you hurt?” he rumbles in query.

“No, and for that I owe you thanks,” the farmer replies. “Why did you intervene? Who *are*  you?”

“No one,” Razorback says, shaking his head, “Though my friends call me Razor. It would seem that there is work to be done. Tell me, is it just you that has fallen behind, or does the entire village also suffer from this?”

Greenwater stares at the dusty ground. “I used to be the town’s top producer. Coldstar keeps raising her protection rates *and*  upping the quotas. I had to sell some of my herd to other farmers to keep my ranch under protection. I asked for them back, but…everyone else faces the same rates and quotas. All so Coldstar can build new villages and get more farmers under her claws.”

“So you have a supply problem rather than a labor problem,” Razorback says with a nod, “If I were to acquire wild bumblers for you, what else would you need?”

“Feed,” the farmer replies. “And…laxatives. Lots of laxatives.”

The Cliffwalker rubs his brow at this, but nods. “Very well,” he says, “I shall return with the bumblers in three days.” He pauses a moment, then retrieves something from within his tunic. “If I do not return by then. I want you to leave town by night and find Cliffwalker Manor in the Stubtooth Mountains. Ask to speak to Lady Goldeye Cliffwalker and give her this. Tell her what has happened.” He hands the farmer a green-jeweled ring. He pauses a moment before adding, “If I find that either it or you is missing when I return, you may consider Lady Coldstar the very least of your fears.”