Scales of War

The Way of the Bat: Justice Tempered in Darkness – Chapter 3 (EXCERPTS)

… There is no rest for the wicked, so there must be no rest for those who study the Way of the Bat…

… With our recent triumph over Sarashan and his forces, a few of the others have sought fit to celebrate. I swear I can hear Madmartigan and Kage holler in the tavern from my position on a rooftop nearly halfway across the city…

… It is important for those of us who fight the darkness to have a place in which to fortify ourselves when we need to prepare for our next battle. Since returning to the Manse Victorious would be a waste of time, I have found a cave just outside Overlook to use as a makeshift sanctuary. Some bats were roosting in it, how fitting…

… Sarashan said something about becoming “her champion”. What did that mean? Who was he talking about? That thought keeps nagging at me…

… The hunt never ends. I find myself unable to resist the compulsion to seek out any who would take advantage of the innocent. Any who would steal, or kill, without remorse or regard for those they hurt. I’ve been meditating for a few hours during the day and spending my nights on the rooftops of the city, in its alleys, and stalking those I find committing any crimes against the people of the city…

… With my status as a Knight I believe I could act with more visibility in the public forum, rather than hiding in the shadows, but striking from the shadows as I do keeps them afraid. Their fear is a great advantage…

…Blister, Nine Bells, Tradetown and Shantytown have, unsurprisingly, been the districts where I keep finding myself night after night…

… Last night there was a drunk brute picking on one of the refugees who was trying to take shelter in Nine Bells. I went to leap at the lout, but something else happened instead. The darkness I have felt growing inside me suddenly poured out of me. I fell into it and appeared next to the drunk, and when I hit him, he fell into the same darkness and was hurled a dozen feet away by it. I’ve been able to travel through other people’s shadows ever since I first started down this path, but this was different. People have a life force, and that life force connects them all. Up until now I’ve needed that tether to find my way through shadows, but this time I didn’t need that at all. Instead of being limited to using the shadows I found around me, I was able to create a new pool of shadow to ride through!…

… I have been checking in with the others occasionally to see if any word has come for us to assemble as a group again; so far nothing. I think they are a little unsettled by my aloofness. I have also found time to listen in on various members of the council to see if there is any trouble brewing. Other than an alleged adulterer, nothing nefarious to report…

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Madmartigan 's most intimate private thoughts: keep out!
Page 27

War. War is hell.
Or so I’ve been told. So far it’s just me fucking up monsters with my sword and punching their tits off. Which, the last time I checked, is bad ass as fuck.
We shored up the defenses of Overlook before the battle started, but there’s a lot of dudes outside these walls. Inevitably a few breached the wall with a battering ram, Inc some trolls. My blade seemed to pull me towards the trolls, which was new & interesting.
We mopped the floor with them and then the city guard boiled them alive.
The smell nearly made me vomit. Taking a quick breather now before The Men & I (and Ithyk) dart off elsewhere to save the day.

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Madmartigan 's most intimate private thoughts: keep out!
Pages 22-26

I… I’m not sure what happened. One minute I was resting after a quick fight in Mountain Root Temple, next thing I know I’m charging into a room of smelly, creepy fey creatures. I think I blacked out, which I’m used to, but not in the middle of a dungeon.
Now that I’m thinking about it, my brain remembers a dream. Was it a dream? I was in a old forest, following some gorgeous redhead with an ass so tight I could… Ahem, sorry.
She played a mandolin and led me into a glade, shining and bright. There were…shapes moving in the trees, things I sensed were too beautiful for me to see clearly, and then a fucking winged unicorn stepped out. He (definitely He, holy shit…) said to me ( know, talking, flying, big donged unicorn, you’re thinking “What the hell is Madmartigan smoking?” but look, I’m just remembering all this as I write, so cut me some slack!
Anyway, so He tells me His name is White Horn, but I know it’s spelled Eachthighern when he says it. He asks if I’m Madmartigan, I say obviously (don’t let em see you sweat) and He explains that He has summoned me to His glade in the Summerlands because my destiny is more than womanizing and blood money. Eachthighern said He would like to help me realize that destiny, by making me His knight. He said I didn’t have to decide right now, but if I said yes I would gain access to great powers but I would also inherit great enemies. I told Him I already had plenty of enemies, what’s a few more when you’re this great.
He said nothing for a moment, then said face these creatures with valor and flame and consider my offer.
Next thing I know, I’m charging at an entire room full of trolls and shit wondering what just happened. After the fight the Men just laughed and said I must have had too much to drink, but I knew it felt different. Now I think I know why…
Deeper into Mountain Root Temple we faced a ton more trolls on this massive crystal platform, along with some crazy metal statue. I mean, do I even need to say that we bested them?
We bested them. Hard. In the butt.
After we cleaned the place out we came up short one big stone book. Down another tunnel we stumbled upon an ugly bitch named Hethralga and a bunch of big one-eyed monsters. Not like that. Cyclopses. Cyclopsi? Cyclopeans?
They had the big stone book so I gave them the old “go on your way and we let you live” speech and she actually took it! That’s the first time, ever! In light of that dream, maybe I should have not let her pass, but I was just so shocked. Of course she still tried to collapse the temple down on us, but I think that was more about covering her ass than killing us.
Back in Overlook we came back like big damn heroes again, warned the council about the General and his army of Gith marching on the city and then partied hard.
This time I didn’t black out.

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7th Message to Glasrael

Kage had a particular swagger in his step as he finished writing Glasrael’s icon in the blood he had kept after the Men had killed that two headed troll king. Dio buzzed around in the air inspecting Kage’s work before the imp finally spoke.
“What’s got you in such a great mood?”
“What?” Spat Kage,“What do ya think? I have some of the best news ever to tell the boss. He’s going to be thrilled with me!” Kage beamed at Dio with his last statement.
" That will be a shocking change." Dio muttered under his breath. Kage bite his thumb and squeezed a drop onto the symbol to instill it with power. The stone under the symbol cracked, which made both Kage and Dio flinch, and then suddenly, in a wave of smog and ash, the devil Glasrael appeared. Kage looked at him. H had gotten noticeably taller since last Kage had seen him and had grown an extra set of horns. An aire of power hung about his form like a shroud. His hungry gaze leveled down at Kage and he proceeded to roll his eyes.
“Yes, Kage.” The devil sighed. " What do you want?"
“Hey boss,” Kage began as he gathered his loose collection of thoughts." You look……alot bigger."
“How good of you to notice.” Glasrael said dryly." A steady diet does wonders for the body, and I can only surmise from the glut of life force you’ve been feeding me that you and your little friends have massacred an entire army."
“Oh yeah!” Kage said with a renewed enthusiasm. “We totally went into this ancient temple of Moradin and killed all the bad guys that were trying to take it over. We saved some giant book made out of stone and I found this wicked vihuela. I think it’s magic. I’m gonna call it Monster Mash II. Oh, yeah! and we found out the temple has a direct doorway to the Astral Sea.”
“A what?” Said Glasrael, his full attention now on Kage.
" Yeah," Kage continued. “We totally found a passage to the Astral Sea. Direct opening from there to the city of Overlook. How awesome is that?”
“So awesome,” Glasrael began. “That you’re most likely about to follow up with some little tidbit about how you can’t tell me where is, or how you blew it up, or some other disappointing fact.” The mighty devils shoulders noticeably slumped.
" Well, no." Said Kage with a confused look on his face. " Of course I’m going to tell you where it is. I called dibs on the portal. That means I can do anything I want with it. In fact, as soon as we defeat General Zithiruun and save the city I was gonna go open the portal so you can get some devils in." Kage grinned broadly up at Glasrael who proceeded to stare at Kage completely dumb founded. Suddenly a ghastly grin spread across Glasrael’s face.
“Well then Kage, you magnificent little devil, tell me everything……..”

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MMadmartigan's Most Intimate, Private Thoughts: Keep Out!!
Page 20-21

Hey darling.
I don’t know if I’m ever going to get the smell of gnoll out of my hair. I think it’s messing with my natural sex scent that makes the ladies want to love me. We met this hot ancient holy warrior chick who lived in the sword we found and she wasn’t even interested. It’s gotta be the gnoll.
Gods, we’ve killed so many of the filthy things. They were all over Greystone fortress. Not that this was a surprise or anything, we knew there would be tons of the butt-sniffers, but still.
Luckily we found a secret passage in the depths of the fortress that let us sneak past a whole room of them, but then we just found another room full, along with a big evil portal and Fangren, the big smelly leader of the pack. He was a tough bastard, but we got him. Then Ityhk declared himself the new leader. I was wondering why he kept growling at us not to kill the stinky creatures. Not that I listened to him.
Once we got the portal closed, with the held of the magic sword that would be a woman, Ityhk marched off after the other group we had snuck past. Not that I mind ridding the world of more gnolls, but the smell…
Anyway, we walked in on some shadar-kai teaching them how to use some amazing weapon. Poor guy was probably there for days. “Put your hand in here, swing your sword. No, swing after your hand is in the glove…” I think we did him a favor stabbing him to death.
Funny thing, he told his minions to “kill them all”, them being the Men & I (and Ityhk) and then, you know, we killed them all. This has happened at least a dozen times in the last few months and every time we’re still breathing. I think maybe we’re magic, or protected by some divine force…

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Madmartigan's Most Intimate Private Thoughts: Keep Out!!
Page 19

Hey baby,
Things took a dark turn for me the other day. I propositioned a woman and she turned me down! Am I losing my machismo? I mean, we ended up screwing anyway, but that’s mostly thanks to these new magic glasses I bought. Am I getting rusty? I don’t know, dear journal, but it worries me.
You know what doesn’t worry me? Bad guys. We found out about some plot to kidnap & assassinate us so I came up with this amazing plan to pretend we were captured and have my boy Bart bring us in, catch them by surprise and take them out, collecting the reward money for ourselves.
In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t plan capers when I’m in the bag. Ah well, it still worked out and my new littler buddy Bart made it out alive! I’m going to have to look that kid up when I get back to Overlook.
Huh?
Oh, yea we’re back in Brinendol now. The council sent an urgent request for The Men & I (and Ithyk) to come be bad asses and save the fucking day. Nothing new there. We’ve just stopped off in Madmartigan’s Manse Victorious briefly to sleep in our own beds, then we make for the city at first light, or at least before midday. Can’t wait to hear what crazy shit we need to do next!

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6th Message to Glasrael

Kage the Black stood nervously in the dimly lite warehouse. The symbol of the devil Glasrael was painted on the floor in the black blood of a shadow dragon. Dio fluttered over head and cold sweat trickled down Kage’s back as he hesitated before placing power into the symbol to complete it.
“Are you nervous?” Dio asked. " I’ve never seen you nervous before."
" You’ve never seen me ask for something really important from the bO..Ss." Kage replied, his voice cracking at the end.
" Well, I guess I’m not important then…..you weren’t nervous when you received me." said Dio indignantly as he crossed his arms.
" Shut up, I didn’t ask for you. You were a gift." The book imp glowered as Kage spoke. “Alright, here it goes.” Kage knelt down and places his slit finger tip on the symbol and channeled power into it and out of a blast of hell fire and soot the devil Glasrael appeared. The devil looked down at Kage with a look of contemptuous boredom on his face.
" A shadow dragon? Well aren’t you moving up in the world." Glasrael said as he glanced about the room clearly not impressed. He sighed as he continued. " So what do you have to waste my time today."
" I……ummmmm," Kage stammered out." well you see, I was kind of hoping that….. Well it’s kind of like this, sooooooo……"
OUT WITH IT KAGE!” Glasrael shouted. " I may be immortal but that doesn’t mean I have forever."
“S..s..sorry.” Wimpered Kage as his usually crimson skin went to a shade closer to pink. " So this was the thing, I was wondering if I could…..I don’t know, maybe like, make a deal for more potent powers?" He flinched at the completion of his sentence. Glasrael simply stared at him a moment and then began to laugh heartily. After about 30 seconds he managed to respond.
“Kage, I already have your soul, you haven’t manage to spread any corruption though the world and the fact that you’ve given me any useful information up until this point has been pure chance so what could you hope to offer me in exchange for more power?”
“Well….ummmm” Kage began" How about the souls of people I kill or help kill? You know, like a warlock pact?" Glasrael looked at him for a moment and them at the symbol written in dragon blood.
“You would honestly offer the life essence of the slain to me?”
“well, sure. I mean they’re all bad guys anyway.” Glasrael narrowed his eye’s and examined Kage as he considered the offer. A smile slowly spread across his devilish countenance. He then raised his hand and snapped his fingers. In a wisp of ash and brimstone a scroll appeared in the devils hand. he unrolled it and handed it to Kage.
“Very well, sign it in you’re own blood.” Glasrael said with a sinister grin on his face.
“Wow.” Said Kage, awe struck. " It kinda has a lot of stuff written on it." he squinted as he looked closer. " Some of this print is really small."
“It say’s what you requested, more or less. There are a few minor details that you wouldn’t find interesting, really none of it is very important. Besides don’t you…..” Glasrael suddenly found his fast talk interrupted by Kage thrusting the signed document in his face. Kage smiled up at him. Before Kage could even begin considering to think Glasrael had snatched the contract back up." Very good Kage." said Glasrael with a truly wicked smile. " And in exchange I gift you with Hell-Fire. Use it well." And with that Glasreal slowly vanished into wisps of greasy black smoke, which was his calmest, least abrupt exit Kage could remember. Kage wiped the sweat from his forehead and decided to try his new power. He hummed a infernal note and a blast of black flames exploded a near by crate. He let out a long sigh.
“Man,” He said to Dio " I don’t even know why I was so nervous." Dio simply rolled his eyes.
“Idiot’s and children rarely do…” the book imp muttered under his breath.

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Madmartigan's Most Intimate, Private Thoughts: Keep Out!!
Page 18

Ye Gods, what a battle we’ve just had! I haven’t felt my skills put to the test like that in a very long time. Luckily The Men (and Ityhk) are formidable warriors all, and allies I’m glad to have by my side in battle!
Shit, I’m sorry. I can’t keep that up. Haha, I sound ridiculous in my own head, that’s got to be a warning sign. Kage sings these songs about us that make us sound epically bad ass, like chopping off dragon heads with a three foot hard on, but he uses this fancy fucking language and I think that’s really the key. But I just can’t do it. My man has a way with words. Sings about my cock an awful lot, but I guess it can’t hurt to get the word out.
So yea, we had a huge fucking fight with Orlaf and his bearded buddies, but in the end, as always, Madmartigan’s Men (and Ityhk) kicked ass.
Madmartigan out.

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Madmartigan's Most Intimate, Private Thoughts: Keep out!
Page 17

Hey there doll, what’s new? I’ve been busy blazing a path to a legacy of awesomeness. The men & I (and Ithyk) got back to Overlook with our sack full of incriminating shit and dropped it on Ulysses’ desk. I notice every time we see him there’s less security around. It’s sweet that they ever thought they could stop us if we wanted to do him harm in the first place, but I do appreciate the trust forming between us.

Ulysses said that we were to lay low for a few days while they built their case against the Consortium. He also sent Rocky off to some town to scout the place out for us. Seems kind of silly sending pebbles-for-brains off on a scouting mission, but hey, what do I know? I laid low, in just about every tavern around town, drinking, fighting & fucking my way through a five-day rager. It was epic. I hope Kage writes a song just about that.

When we went back to Ulysses, he informed us that there was going to be a concentrated efforrt, blah blah blah. Long story short, The Men (and Ithyk) were being sent to take down Olaf, the grande fromage of the Consortium. Nothing but the best for Madmartigan’s Men (and Ithyk)!

We strolled up to Olaf’s front door at dawn, and just as we were going to kick it in, it exploded outwards. A mother-fucking, honest-to-Kord dragon strolled out to us, witty as you please. We exchanged a bit of light-hearted banter before things got real. The kid sprung into action, laying into the dragon like only he can. It was something to see, shadow dragon versus shadow fighter, like darkness fighting darkness! He kicked the thing so hard, it fell down the stairs, saving me some trouble, until it spewed it’s life-stealing death breath all over The Men & I, summoning up a cloud of darkness to surround and blind us at the same time. I came charging out of the nasty shadow, bad as you please, crunched it’s skull with the pommel of my blade and uppercut the bitch at the same time. That was how the rest of the battle went: Ithyk & I delivering blow after blow to the skull, so the thing could barely even stand, plus the rest of The Men delivering ten kinds of pain onto it.

With the dragon decapitated (literally, we nailed it’s head to Ithyk’s door), I strode with bravado into Olaf’s place and promptly caught an enormous fucking bolt in the chest. A handful of dwarves waited us in the main foyer (Kage said it like “foy-yay”, fancy prick) and we dealt with them like we do. Ithyk even charged up onto a balcony to dispatch the fucker that shot me with a crossbow, but Clunky magic-yanked him down to the floor so Ithyk dove down after him. I’m going to have to look into getting a tapestry of that crafted for Madmartigan’s Manse Victorious.

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Madmartigan's Most Intimate, Private Thoughts: Keep Out!
Pages 12-16

Hey gorgeous. I know it’s been awhile and I’m sorry.
Don’t be like that, baby. You know you’re my number one.
That’s a good girl. Now spread ‘em and take all this in. It’s a big one:

Last time I left you, The Men & I (and Ithyk) were sneaking into Sarashcan’s lair. We poked around but didn’t find much. On our way out, much found us. Big S himself and a garrison of boot-stomping guards were waiting for us. I almost had him convinced that The Men were going to work for him and this was our application, but he doesn’t have girl-parts. My signature Madmartigan charm didn’t work on him and he saw my mighty blade was coming for him. He beat feet out of there and left of sizeable troop of guards to deal with us.

We dealt with them, instead.

Back in the real world we brought our info to Conrad, but it wasn’t enough to nail Bram. In the raid they did manage to find a map to some old fortress way off in the desert that seemed connected. So off we went. We arrived in the town of Dunesridge with my usual impeccable timing, showing up right before some poor yokels got the chop from some Ithyk wannabe.

Ithyk barked some shit at him for a few, until things went down and we took him and his cronies out. Ityhk didn’t want to kill the pitiful thing, so now he has a pet of his own.
Whoa. A dog with a dog. I think I just went cross-eyed.

Our new mascot told us he worked for Queen Shephatiah, some fancy desert bitch residing in Ironfell Fortress, right where we were heading. We told the people of Dunesridge they were now part of the Madmartigan Protectorate and the only tribute we required was a righteous party. People are finally recognizing my sheer awesomeness. Wouldn’t be surprised if they made me mayor or something. I totally banged the leader’s daughters. Yes, I just said daughters. Both of them. I know.

The next day we set off for Ironfell fortress. I sent Bat Boy ahead to scout things out. I’m tough on the kid but he really knows how to get the job done. Kind of spooks me, if I’m being honest. Doggie & Marbles are formidable in a fight, and the things Kage and Metalhead can do are mind-blowing, but the kid is in his own arena. I mean, he jumps through people’s fucking shadows now. It ain’t natural, not that I’d say as much to him.
Anyway, we killed all the monsters we could find including the Queen. I even took on two big motherhumping wolf things which was crazy bad-ass. But I had a feeling something was wrong and that feeling only increased when we met a weird old dude in a prison cell. He was nice, gave me a bitchin’ ring that opens secret doors and told us the real Queen Shephatiah was lying in wait for us beneath the fortress. I totally called that shit.

Leaving him in his prison cell (yea, I don’t know…) we delved deep into the oogey mines below. We ganked a bunch more monsters on our way to Queenie. Ye Gods, was she a sight. Some kind of giant evil snake thingy (Kage called her a Naga) perched upon a pile of skulls, flanked by demons, across a firey ravine. Things got pretty heated, literally, when a firey cloud creature erupted out of the hole and burned us all. Ithyk and me shut it down, while the rest of The Men cut the head off the snake and the demons to boot. Well, one of the demons. The other jumped into the pit, awed by the sight of so much Kord-damned machismo.

Found a sweet-ass ring in the skull pile, too. Fuckin’ A.

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