This book contains a collections of short stories to showcase more of the feel of the Nexxus and its diversity.
These stories are not to be considered canon, but they fit very comfortably in the environment and are things that could happen in it.
One of the Old Master patrols that we took out had this letter among them. Seems like it was sent from a ‘Lieutenant Dietrich’ from the coliseum to one of their other outposts. What do you suppose we should do with it?
A fierce wind, a scorching sirocco, blows past the entrance to the coliseum. Around me I hear the grinding of steel gears and the cold, haunted groan of machinery as the ironclad gates crawl open. A cloud of dust settles just outside and through the storm I see the dark silhouettes of our soldiers marching home. I know them by their armbands, those uniforms which command authority. We clad our champions in black so that they may strike fear into our enemies. When tepid hearts witness our soldiers, they know that the shadow of death has come to take them. It is, above all else, a posturing – for you and I both know they are agents of justice and purity.
Behind our troops the prisoners come forth in chains and collars. I see that our heroes have acquired a dozen more of the horned mongrels. I’m given an eyeful of those hideous beings with runes butchered into their skin and self-inflicted burn wounds smothered in the ink of barbarians. I find myself covering my nose to ward off the smell of unbathed, piss-ridden fur – to think that these beasts regard themselves as people! Most of the mongrels have dull and listless expressions, but a few of them teem with scorn. I find my eyes meeting the wrathful gaze of one such recalcitrant animal and I snarl back at it, seeing no reason to hide my contempt. Do these unsavory creatures not realize how lucky they are? No, the greatness of their task is lost upon them. There would be no need to collar them, after all, if they could even understand the virtues of loyalty and obedience. I want to rip off their disgusting tattoos and crush the light which burns within those dumb, defiant eyes. I turn away as I start walking with the soldiers. Our footsteps upheave dust which mixes in with the smells of iron and mortal sweat.
The coliseum bristles with noise and vigor. From across the region crowds of people have gathered to barter within our bastion of reason. To my left, a dark-haired elf cleans the grime from their goggles as they argue over the price of a slave they sell; to my right, a haggard-looking human empties a backpack full of guns and machinery onto a fold-up table. Scavengers and vultures, all of them! They know nothing of our coliseum’s history, care nothing for the legacy of our nations. They look upon this sanctuary of hope and see only a vendor from which to glean quick credits. Nonetheless, we have need of them. We need the goods and the labor they sell to us. Most of us all, we need the technology they bring. We need every last piece of it, young one, for reasons I will reveal to you soon.
We make our way to the gate. Even unfinished, it is a work of majesty and greatness. The massive, monolithic structure towers over me, grasping toward the heavens like a challenge to divinity. Along its otherwise smooth, metallic surface there runs a latticework of wires and circuits intricate beyond comprehension. Those veins of rubber and metal sprawl out across the gate’s exterior, twisting and curling like the motions of an ancient, timeless dance lost to us impermanent beings. A faint glow pulsates along the base of the gate; I feel the heat and energy which emanates from it, pushing back the hairs of my skin and pulling the sweat from my brow.
Make no mistake, my child: this gate I write to you about is far more than just a doorway. It is our future. Only by reaching beyond this tattered and decaying realm will we restore our legacy.
The future is a beast with endless hunger, demanding every last morsel of technological gear to realize its existence. Nearby I see those structures which serve as the gate’s power sources. They look wretched and crude in comparison, more like disheveled stacks of wayward tech than any scientific marvel. Put together, those veritable mounds of mismatched machinery could stretch most of the way across this coliseum wall; they, too, are impressive in their own right, even if they do look like they were strung together by artisans of dubious merit.
There was a time, long ago, when this gate was just one of many: a time when our ships soared across the sky like chariots of the gods. Our strongholds were beacons of light in the wild’s vast, untamed darkness. And we built our artifacts and artifices anew; we did not need to scavenge the dust and bones of civilization’s long-rotted carcass – all of this, and more! I tell you, my child; our history holds marvels the likes of which few still alive will dare to dream of. It pains my heart to know that you could never have lived to see what our nations used to be, but this I promise: you will grow to inherit the future that we, remnants of the conquerors of old, will create. My sweet child: may this be our generation’s gift to yours, no matter the cost. By the trampled ashes of our savage foes, by the sweat of laborers and the blood of heroes, we will make our dream a reality.
From the dying light of a desolate world, a world in which we once were masters – we rise, rise into the future.
Written by Kriss Morton for the 2018 Writing contest
Talia Velorick, journal entry – July 30th, 7 pm.
We’ve stumbled across a town – bigger than most we’ve seen, with infrastructure that implies some level of stability. It’s seen better days, but with the Old Masters bombing anyone who doesn’t submit, that’s a point in its favor, in my books. I’ve called a stop for the day. We’re far enough out that I don’t suspect we’ll be challenged by the city’s guards, but close enough that we’ll be able to run for whatever protection they can provide if we get jumped. The wagons need repairs, and we don’t have the parts to fix them anymore, so we’ll have to deal with the whole ‘introducing a caravan of Trolls to a city’ thing in any case, but I’m hoping to do it by daylight, when it’s clear we’re not trying to sneak in. I wonder what kind of bribes these guards will ask for…
It’s not like we have much time left anyway. I can feel Nexxus trembling from that abomination in the mountains.
Talia Velorick, journal entry – July 31st, 8 am.
The guards weren’t as aggressive as I expected, and they were more… diverse than I’ve seen before. Indeed, it seemed many of them were career mercenaries rather than guards, though a local sheriff was represented in their ranks. Once we established that we meant no harm and had much to offer in the way of rebuilding and repairs, they accepted us. Certainly a colorful group, but genial enough, and they had supplies of processed elyrium like I’ve rarely seen. They purchased many of the supplies we’ve scavenged along the road and didn’t drive a particularly hard bargain, which leads me to believe money comes swiftly to them, which further makes me think they’ve no qualms about killing and looting anyone that crosses them. I’d prefer to stay on their good side – I’ve kept the children from wandering here, though one of their Fey seemed most interested in playing some sort of charades with them. I’m actually- it seems odd to say it, but I’m actually hopeful for our chances here. The road has seen more of us die than I’d feared, the depredations of hunger and banditry taking a heavy toll. Here, I think even if we aren’t welcomed, we’ll at least be ignored, which is a fair sight better than hunted. I’ve scheduled a meeting with a member of the town’s structural planning committee this afternoon, and I hope that after I’ve had a chance to introduce the concept of Troll Bridges to them they’ll be willing to let us integrate into their society. I just want a place where my people can survive, they’ve endured so much. With any luck, our journey is at an end.
Talia Velorick, journal entry – July 31st, 2 pm.
I shouldn’t have hoped. My wife could see it in my before I left, and now I have to disappoint her. The committeeman wasn’t interested in what we had to offer, wasn’t interested in anything humanitarian – he only scheduled the meeting to give himself time to gather a group of militia to arrest my clan. I’m writing this in captivity, though the prison they put us in wouldn’t hold a goblin. The bars are rusted through in four places, and there’s woodworm in the left wall and ceiling! I don’t want to do anything to rouse murderous instincts, but they can’t keep us in here for long. For one, we haven’t eaten since this morning, and the children are feeling it hardest, though they’re being so brave. Oralm hid a bread roll in his pocket and gave it to little Mephia, the dear. They may have taken our freedom, but we’re a goddamn community – they can’t take our spirit. I can’t conscience not breaking out for more than a few more hours, and worried as I am, I’ll take the open road over execution any day. Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I’m not young – I know what Terrans do when they’re scared.
Talia Velorick, journal entry – July 31st, 8 pm.
We’re safe and in sanctuary from the border guards we met on the way in. The sheriff broke us out of jail with a motley crew of felinae, fey, and terrans, and when I let them know the way we’d been treated, they went and arrested the committeeman! They welcomed us into their section of the town – the Fringe, they call it – and seem more than willing to hear us out. I’m shocked, but so grateful. We’ve been living without any protection for so long, it’s startling how safe I feel with these mercs around us. Despite allegations of thievery and untoward experimentation, we’ve not faced any dangers from them, and they roused themselves to action to correct an injustice. I’ll offer our services to them in exchange for protection, and enough money to take care of my people. The point-to-point teleportation of my peoples’ Bridges will be invaluable in their fight against the Old Masters, even though they require such an expenditure of elyrium. We’re not just surviving here: we’re bringing the fight to the Old Masters, helping in ways only we can. We’re part of the resistance, now, and I’ll be damned if I don’t do my best to bring those monsters down.
After all, when the consequence of failure is the destruction of the entire world, there’s not much to lose, is there?
Written by Marshall Nystrom for the 2018 writing contest