Flying Monsters Torment Kuan Ti Coast

                The name of the creatures attacking ships and villages along the southern tip of the Kuan Ti coast have been positively identified.  They are Oni.

                Long known by the locals, but dismissed as legend by others, these violent creatures are like smaller, smarter ogres that can fly.  They live in tribal groupings and attack in lightning-fast attacks, carrying away people, livestock and equipment.

                Though these creatures are new to most, the citizens of Kuan Ti have had to deal with them for many years.  “They come out of the sun,” Says Chi Lang.  “Normally at dawn or dusk.  They attack for plunder and then they just fly off.”

                It is not entirely clear what happens to the victims.  Tales have come back, however, from one young Taoist nun who claims to have escaped from the Oni.

                “On the first day they split us up into groups.  The men were all slaughtered and eaten.  The rest of us were kept as slaves.  They are bloody-minded beasts, but they are smart.  They even forge their own steel.”

                In order to combat this problem, several communities have banded together to put prices of 100Vb on each Oni head.  It is hoped that this will keep them in check in much the same manner as the INSL culls the number of Sea Scags.  With such potential for loot, it is sure to draw some members of the Adventurers Guild.

Hobgoblin Raids at an All-Time High!

                Studies show that the number of attacks from Hobgoblins has been slowly increasing over the past five years.  This includes not only the number of actual raids, but also the number of individual Hobgoblin clans participating in these raids.  In addition, the targets that they are striking are becoming larger and better defended.

                Hobgoblins were almost wiped out during the Great War and remained low in numbers for quite some time.  Hobgoblins once raided deep into what is now Megalopolis, a fact that contributed to the Great War.  During the war, the Technophiles made every effort to exterminate them.  It has only been within the last fifty years that the Hobgoblin Clans have reconstituted.

                Hobgoblin expert Llylev Sylvek believes that their numbers are now outgrowing their resources.  She cites this as a reason they are striking out.  “They are much like humans in that way,” the she-elf explains through a translator.  “They do not know how to live within their means.  They prefer to attempt to conquer and kill rather than make do.  They do this even at the risk of losing all they have.”

                Others, however, back a different explanation.  Randy Higgins, a Xenopsychiatrist from Ada-Kar University explains.  “You can see from their armor and weapons that someone is supplying them.  They normally only make the crudest of weapons when left to their own devices; clubs, spears, and stone axes mostly.  Most of the quality weapons and armor they gain are from conquest.  This means that most of their armor is mismatched and badly fitting.  The equipment they are using now, however, is too new, too uniform, and of too high a quality.  Based on the designs of the helmets in particular, I would seem that the Nazis have a hand in this.  The only question is ‘why?’”

                The raids have not just been in Xa’cor dy Yelpheet, but have also crossed borders into the Imperial Nations and the Nations of the Sun.  Because Hobgoblins are not considered an advanced race and have no seat on the INSL, they are exempt from the international laws barring cross-border raids.  This does pose a problem when the Hobgoblins attack across borders and then slink back into their own territory.  The aggrieved party is unable to counter-attack without breaking international law.  Petitions have been posted to the INSL requesting special strike units to help deal with the situation.

Studies Show Location Trends for Newbies

                A study completed recently by Valhalla University in Ada-Kar shows an interesting new pattern in the emergence of Newbies.  The study took data from all the INSL registered Newbies for the past ten years, tracked the location of those that could be found, and then presented a questionnaire.  It then took this information and cross-indexed it against similar information known about Freebirths.

                As it turns out, the arrival of Newbies is spread more or less evenly over the world.  While there is some disparity among the overall numbers, many of these differences can be mitigated when certain facts are considered.  Those areas that appear to have fewer registered newbies have a greater number of Newbies that cannot be registered, such as unintelligent aliens or lower mythic races. 

                The only nation that has a significantly higher influx of Newbies is Ada-Kar.  In fact, about 23% of all Newbies appear in Ada-Kar.

                85% of the Newbies that arrive outside of Ada-Kar arrive in the Nation closest to their own home world.  The other 15% arrive at seemingly random locations. 

                The study goes on to show that 75% of all Newbies travel extensively.  They also join the Adventurers Guild and/or the Merchants Guild, or both, within three months of coming to Valhalla.  In fact, only about 5% of Newbies seek a sedentary life.

                When compared to Freebirths, these differences become even more stark.  70% of Freebirths never leave the nation in which they are born.  The number of those who travel beyond their borders does proportionally increase with the Tech Level of the individual Nation.  This fact can be explained by the ease of travel in Higher-Tech areas.

                Only 10% of Freebirths ever join the Adventurers Guild.  Of those 10%, nearly 60% are from Ada-Kar.

                The study did not pose possible reasons for this, but the evidence is striking.  Based on a number of conversations I have had with Newbies, I believe that their exit from the “home” world and the shock of coming to Valhalla leaves them a feeling of wonder that draws them into exploration and adventure.  Having no ties, and nothing to “go back to” forces them to find new bonds.  These bonds naturally link to other Newbies, even if they are not from the same root world.  Together they seek fortune, adventure, fame, or whatever else drives them. 

                As one close Newbie friend put it; “Why not?  I already died once.”

Debutant Abducted from Ada-Kar Night Club

                It was around 1:30AM when gunfire erupted outside the popular nightclub “Technophile.”  Within two minutes a young woman was abducted and her boyfriend and two bodyguards lay dead.

                The woman was Belladonna La Fortuna, the eldest daughter of Roberto La Fortuna, an influential merchant from the Italian section of the Imperial Nations.  Mr. La Fortuna is the owner of a fleet of merchant ships as well as the holder of rich vineyards and olive groves. 

                Ironically Mr. La Fortuna moved his family to Ada-Kar seven years ago in order to escape the violence and kidnappings that have plagued his nation.  The fact that the violence has spread to Ada-Kar is an eye-opening event for all of us.  Acts of this nature could draw INSL attention.  Though the organization is forbidden to interfere in internal politics, violence that spreads beyond national boundaries is within the INSL’s sphere of influence.

                The La Fortuna family has not yet heard from the kidnappers.

                “In these situations the abductor wants the loved ones to worry,” an expert, who requested anonymity, claims.  “The more the family worries, the more willing they will be to meet the kidnapper’s demands.  They will wait a while before making first contact.  Then there will be some back and forth until a deal can be reached.  If all goes well, Belladonna will be back within a week.”

                Let us hope so.

Jack o’ Lantern Horror

                The Town of Bull’s Run in the Coalition of American States witnessed an unusual horror during their annual Corn Festival.

                “It come from the north,” Jim Wise, a local distiller said.  “I don’t even know what it was.  It weren’t living.  How can something like that be alive?”

                The thing was described as a thirty foot tall, walking scarecrow with a giant jack-o-lantern head. 

                “There was a bonfire lit inside its head,” says Darla Clemmons.  “It looked like the devil countin’ souls.”

                The scarecrow raged through the town for twenty minutes, caving in the sides of houses, trampling people and starting a stampede.  Eventually, Sheriff Maltby got a crew together and managed to pull it down with grappling hooks and ropes.

                “We went to work on it with axes and torches,” Jim Wise continued.  “Eventually it stopped moving.  Then we had ourselves a bonfire.  People was mostly gone by that time though.  Pretty much ruined the whole festival.  Damn shame too.  I was fixin’ ta win that White Lightning contest!”

                Nobody knows where it came from, but it has the citizens spooked.  An expert has claimed that this creature was most likely an animated object, though he concedes that it could also be a very large Stallo.  In either case, powerful magic is at work in this otherwise peaceful town.  Many of those that have come for the festival have fled, while the town itself is described as “subdued.”

New Boxing Champion is a Robot???

                When Divine Technology Associates, Inc. pitted its newest Series 4600 Boxing ‘Bot against Giles Murphy, the world’s top-ranked bare-knuckle boxer, nobody believed that the robot would win; least of all Giles Murphy.  So much so that before the fight he said that he would “renounce my title if that piece of tin can beat me.”

                After an eight round bout, Giles was knocked out by a vicious upper-cut.  When he fell the crowd grew hushed, but when it became obvious that he was not getting up the crowd went mad!  Some were delighted to see history being made, but others were outraged.  Afterwards, a raucous mob set cars on fire and threw stones at the police.  Over a dozen people were arrested.

                Mr. Murphy’s promoter and manager were outraged and immediately declared that the machine had been tampered with.

                Fred Southerly, a spokesman for Divine Technology declared, “We have not cheated.  Our new advancements in cognitive and adaptive robotics are just that good.  We have already turned the 4600 unit to the Boxing Authority, who will review its logs and ensure that everything is on the level.”

                Whether or not Murphy has lost the title is a different matter.  The V.B.A. guidelines specifically state that only bipedal, living, and sentient beings within the class weight limits may challenge for a title bout.  As the Boxing ‘Bot only meets the last of these criteria, the robot cannot gain the title.  The question remains, however, as to whether or not Giles Murphy will keep his word and renounce it.

                His manager had no comment.

Seaside Town Sacked by Monsters from the Deep

                Something more than the surf moved as the tide came in to the fishing village near Ulaid.  Out of the dark waters a host of malformed creatures crawled from the depths.  The village, which was once a prosperous fishery in the Irish section of Bifrost, has now been turned to ash.  The people have been slaughtered.

                “They walked like people, but they weren’t people,” says young Aithnea, a ten year-old girl who managed to escape with her baby brother.  “Most of them had one normal arm, but the other was like a crab’s claw.  They had a hard shell like a crab too.  I could hear it crunch when my da killed one.  Then me mum yelled for me to grab me wee brother and run.  When I looked back . . . I heard the screams . . . I saw . . . I saw . . .  It was a nightmare.”

                That night they plundered the village, stealing everything of value, while torturing and killing the residents in unspeakable ways.  Once this was done, they burned all the buildings and sank every boat.

               Yarl Kinnel, the lord of the area, said “I’ve never seen slaughter like this.  Not even the bloody Vikings leave a trail of guts and blood like this.  Bodies were mutilated and put on display like holiday decorations.  The lucky ones died fast.  The rest . . . better not to dwell on it.”

                A detachment of local militia has been sent to the area.  Yarl Kinnel has also sent offers through the Adventurer’s Guild offering a personal bounty for the heads of these terrible creatures. 

                “We will get revenge for what these things did,” The Yarl proclaimed to a stunned crowd in a neighboring village.  “Until then, look to the seas and beware.”

Goblin Rot Quarantine in Ada-Kar

                The INSL Health Directorate has issued a quarantine notice for the Baily Inn apartment complex.  The hotel, a transient flop-house, is located in the Allied Nations section of Ada-Kar.

                It is rare for this disease to spread far.  The worst outbreak was fifty years ago in the Kingdoms.  Thousands of people died.  Poor sanitation and arcane medical treatments were keys in the rampant escalation of that plague. 

                The disease is really a bioluminescent fungus normally found in the digestive tract of goblins.  It is only found where there is Goblin activity.  It does, however, spread by contact, and is easily passed between living hosts. 

               Goblins are actually alien creatures.  When they were first encountered on Valhalla, they were mistaken for the creatures of myth, and thereby given their name.  The largest population of Goblins can be found in Gyr Kuzott.

                The fungus begins to slowly eat living flesh.  Serious discoloration and lesions appear as the infection becomes more advanced.  Those who are unable to stop the course of the disease will become permanently scarred.  Death will result from the most advanced cases.

                Fortunately, treatment is easy, particularly with less advanced cases.  Normally only a shower with hot water and soap will do the trick.  Beyond that, an anti-fungal regimen will be needed.  If it goes untreated too long, amputation may be required.

                It is unknown how the Baily Inn case has spread.  At least five patients have been hospitalized with one in intensive care.  The Baily Inn is being shut down in the short term, though its future is uncertain.

                “We have had a lot of problems with this place,” said a source on condition of anonymity.  “With any luck we can level it.”