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Chaos on the Zannin Express

Gnurl Gyrefinder, Noble Orc Gunmage (Ruin Caller)

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Gnurl handed over his train ticket, his slouched posture making him seem smaller, although his Orcish frame still dwarfed the ticket collector. “Mister Gyrefinder, please stand up straight.” came a voice from below. A diminutive woman with furred, bearlike hands reached up to hand the fare collector her own ticket. “Of course, miss Patience.” Gnurl said, in response to his employer’s demands. Gnurl was working as a bodyguard, and one miss Kuma Patience had hired him to make sure that her trip to Zannin, the Orcish capital was safe. They boarded the train and found their cabin near the front of the train as the conductor’s voice boomed; “Last call for Zannin! Last call, express train to Zannin!” He cried, and no sooner had he finished than the whirr and hiss of the train’s arcanomechanical engine rose above the crowd, turning the massive machine’s wheels. Slowly at first, but rapidly picking up speed.

The two unpacked their things into the overhead compartments above their beds, and while Gnurl lingered in the room miss Patience found her way to the adjacent compartment for a meal and a drink. The first day of their trip was uneventful, which perhaps made Gnurl too complacent to see what was coming.

The next day started without much issue; the train left the station on time, and the rigor of the train’s staff ensured that every meal, tea and service was as it should be. Everything was in a lull, a quiet moment that could have been mistaken for peace if not for what Gnurl saw out the window. “Get down!” He roared, grabbing miss Patience by the fur on the back of her neck and bodily throwing her to the ground. Moments later a spell impacted with the side of the train, further down the carriage, blowing a hole in the side of it that sent two other passengers careening through the air like ragdolls.

The train had derailed, coming to a violent stop that rocked most people from their seats and into the aisle. Gnurl, though taken off guard, was immediately prepared. He drew his weapon, a magically enhanced rifle that he had purchased while in the city. Gnurl placed miss Patience down someplace safe, and the woman smoothed her dress with her hands. “I would scold you for accosting me like that, but it seems you saved my life mister Gyrefinder…” she said. But Gnurl was concentrating too intently to respond. From behind a turned over table he looked down the sights of his rifle to see five figures charging towards the train, four armed with pistols and one casting a spell. “Stay down…” He growled, his tone dropping any of the niceties it had had before.

The first shot Gnurl fired hit its target, and as soon as it did he reached through the ether to find the bullet, and detonated it in the man’s chest from 100 feet. He didn’t even make it to the train, careening off of his horse that sped off to the side, kicking up dust. The other bandits were more fortunate, climbing into the cabin of the vehicle while Gnurl loaded his weapon. Shots rang through the cabin and people screamed and ran. All the while, caught in the highjackers’ sights, Gnurl ducked behind his steadily bullet-eaten table. He smiled tuskily at miss Patience in an attempt to calm her. “No worries ma’am, we’ll have you out of here soon enough…” He said, before whirling around and casting a spell. Four bolts of magical energy struck the bandits, felling all but the mage who erected a magical shield. Gnurl cursed; so close to a perfect score.

Moments later though, he felt dizzy. He had missed his chance to stop the mage, and now it was their turn. Taking down the hood of her cloak, she revealed herself to be a wickedly beautiful elf, whose eyes Gnurl was entirely fixated upon. He found himself drooling and staring at the woman, who slowly walked towards him and drew a pistol. “You should have just given her to us, mister Gyrefinder…” she said, her tone condescending, given the circumstances. She pressed her pistol to the man’s head, and the sound of an echoing bullet filled the train.

Miss Patience was stood on a table, a pistol drawn from her waistcoat covered in arcane runes still whirling in complex patterns. The Elven woman lay dead on the ground in front of them, Gnurl soon realized, as the spell that was cast upon him quickly faded. “I… Miss Patience, I owe you my life…” He said. The woman hopped dextrously off of the table, cleaning her gun and immediately searching the corpse. “No need, Mister Gyrefinder. This was a test. Well, you were supposed to have a test, I was expecting an attack, I just… wasn’t expecting it here.” She admitted.

Gnurl was confused. “What is going on here? Who are you, really?” He demanded. Miss Patience tore away her overcoat and cracked her neck, her posture immediately changing. It was like she was a different person. “Miss Kuma Patience. That’s a codename, and it’s all you’ll get until you’re inducted. Now, we have to get going; there’s no way the Royalists would have sent only this many, I suspect there are agents aboard the train as well. I presume you know how to ride a horse, mister Gyrefinder?” she said. Dumfounded, Gnurl simply nodded. The pair of them mounted two of the Royalist’s horses and rode off into the mid-day dessert, towards Zannin.

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