An Ironlander decides to pass on his wisdom to Locke as he anxiously awaits his love's arrival in the Ironlands.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #23: The Sleaziest and Most Sly
⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #22: Distress
Who knew traveling to the Ironlands would bring such distress? What more could possibly happen?

The previous chapter

The Sleaziest and Most Sly

Season 2, Chapter 23

// Undertake an Expedition

+2 (wits) + 1 Forward = +3 => 6 vs 2, 7. Awww. Weak Hit.

Progress [8/10]

I think as the price, I'll fill in those last two segments of the clock. Meaning, we must roll Finish an Expedition now.

Finish an Expedition

8 vs... 2, 10. Weak hit. BOOOO! 1 tick for the long, perilous journey.

But at least we made it.

What is the nature of our complication upon arrival?

Descriptor + Focus: 61, 88: Lost Territory.

I think this means that the Scarlet Adler is out for the count, just like Watt.

-1 Withstand Damage [0]

+0 => 6 vs 3, 8. Weak hit. We press on...

I couldn't take my eyes off it.

"It's bigger than a planet..." John's eyes were just as wide as mine but his mouth was more agape. "You could fit two Saffrons in there."

The Ironlands were massive. One central generation ship surrounded by other various-sized ships—most of them looked to be smaller generation ships. It looked like it wasn't moving at all, a metallic planet floating in deep space. Did they need to generate their own gravity or did the sheer size of them all clustered together work for them?

The others hovered around other viewports, gawking at our destination. "I'd heard stories but...this is massive," Kaisa said.

As we docked, the rattling got louder and I heard a hiss. It seemed as if the Scarlet Adler held on just long enough to get us to safety before letting herself stop.

I put a hand on an interior wall as we exited, thanking her for all she had done for us.

Another successful escape to freedom.

// Oracle

Is Ira already here? Unlikely, 25-: 91, no.


I had hoped to see Ira when we stepped foot within Deepland. Sadly, he was nowhere in sight. Perhaps we'd beaten Legacy here.

Deepland was full of bronze and copper. Our entrance didn't sell me on the "promise" of the Ironlands—massive ships on the outside, an entire world within. Pipes snaked along the walls, mist and steam cloaking the ceiling. People moved about quickly. From the looks of it, we were the only non-natives. Everyone else seemed experienced, either working there or coming or going from excursions on any nearby planets. Robed officials greeted many by name and smiles of familiarity.

I couldn't help but wonder which one had sent Ira away. Which one of these sleazy, Sly fuckers had banished my amazing boyfriend? I suppressed a spark. Besides, I didn't plan on fighting anyone...yet.

I had hoped this entire trip would end with me wrapping him in my arms, and yet...he was not there.

I was surrounded by John, Blackstone, and the rest of the crew—seven people. And yet...I felt alone. A fabricated reenactment of when Ira was here last flooded my mind. He told me how alone he felt, despite his sister being with him, defending him. I didn't like how this place made me feel. I was lucky that, at least, I knew Ira was on his way. For him, it had to have felt worse. He hadn't known how his life was going to change forever the moment he left. He hadn't known that he was going to be kidnapped, tortured, and then shipped off to hell. He hadn't known that—

I felt a nudge at my side and noticed John looking up at me. He didn't say it, but his eyes did. You okay? I forced a smile.

"There are places we can stay at within Deepland," Blackstone said, ushering us through like she'd done this many times over.

I took another look behind me, hoping to see his face show up. Then I took a page out of John's book and did my best to look as Iron Clad as possible. I smiled wide, and said, "Also, I'm starving for something besides ship rations. Who's hungry?"

// Sojourn

+1 heart => 4 vs 3, 6. Weak hit.

Let's Resupply.

Clearing Unprepared and +1 Supply [1]

I couldn't sleep, not knowing Ira could arrive at any moment.

That night, I sat in a corner of the Deepland entrance and rehearsed what I would say to him for hours, eyes never straying too far from the entrance we had traveled earlier. All the workers stared, but I didn't care.

I initially started with cheesy lines, a few things about Iron and Vows. I switched to deep monologues that I felt like main characters said when they saw their loved ones again after a long separation, using what I knew of cheesy romance novels or long, epic fantasies. Then I considered how that would come off if Ira was the main character, so I trimmed down the three best monologues I had prepared and tried each of them on to see which fit best. None of them truly captured how I wanted our first moment back together, so I kept drafting new ones.

"Excuse me, sir." One of the robed officials suddenly appeared in front of me. "Are you waiting for someone?"

I looked up. An older gentleman—not too much older than I, actually, perhaps by about ten or so years—with rounded glasses smiled down at me. I remembered seeing his face as I waited. Hopefully, he didn't think the foreigner had ill intentions with their home.

"Ah, yes, I am, actually," I said standing to my feet. I had on my everyday clothes—slacks, dress shirt, suit jacket—attempting to look my best for Ira when he arrived. I quickly snatched up the bouquet of roses I had brought for him as held them close to me. "My boyfriend. He should be arriving soon and I wanted to wait for him."

I felt like a little boy waiting for his crush after school. Butterflies filled my stomach. Thinking about Ira made me truly Dim Witted in the best ways. My heart was racing, and it took everything in me to keep my lightning at bay and not scare the Ironlander.

"Boyfriend." He smiled brighter. "He's lucky to have such a patient partner."

"I'm the lucky one, sir," I said, fidgeting. My stars, I was fidgeting.

"Is he an Ironlander?" he asked.

"Yeah, though—" I began, fishing out the black iron coin from my pocket. "He considers me more Ironsworn than him sometimes. He taught me a lot about the religion and ways. I can't wait to see the Ironlands firsthand and learn more about what it means to be Ironsworn." I held it close to my chest. I only ever had what stories Ira had told me about the Ironlands. I believed his accounts of how horrible this place was to him, though I was always a little curious as to what it was supposed to be like here.

The man smirked and shook his head softly, then said, "Then make sure when you make that vow to him, you mean it."

"It's that obvious?" And I was supposed to be Sly. This man read me like a book—or I was broadcasting my feelings like a primetime drama show.

"As long as you both follow your Heart, it will all work itself out." He placed a hand on my shoulder as if he was passing on the wisdom of all those who had come before him.

He turned around and I leaned back against a wall, taking in his words. I really was ready to make that vow, wasn't I? I never wanted to be without him again—ever. I could not think about going another day without—

"Oh look, everyone. The Miss is back."

Murmurs filled the room. It took a moment but the meaning of what the older man had said finally registered. Here, a Miss was a bad thing.


Before the older man stood Ira.

"Did you forget something?" the older man said. "I'm pretty sure the conditions of your exile state that—"

Ira dug a hand into his pocket and pulled out...seeds. A mountain of various seeds piled into his palm. He tipped his hand and let them spill out onto the floor like sand.

"The conditions of my exile"—he spat—"have been met."

He noticed me.

He smiled.

I don't know if I suddenly developed super speed but I was over to him, bumping into the older man, and embraced Ira.

// Fulfill Your Vow

6 vs 3, 9. A weak hit.

Sure, why not. The vow was to return to Ira after checking out what was up with Saffron, but there's "more to be done" if we want our full reward.

Cool. Now I have two vows to reswear.

All of my rehearsed speeches were forgotten, replaced by pure emotions. I kissed him, he kissed me. I squeezed him tight and inhaled deeply. My memories of what he felt like did not do reality justice. I did not want to let go.

A few of the lights in the room started flickering, and I'm pretty sure I felt the thorns in the roses I was still holding suddenly pierce my skin.

I didn't care.

"I'm sorry, you're in love with him?"

We broke our embrace. I felt a tear stream down my face, every emotion of mine ready to burst.

The older man I had just spoken to—the one who had been so encouraging before—now looked disgusted.

"Locke, meet Oracle Wilhelm." Ira gestured passively, slowly stealing the roses from my grasp.

"Oracle Wilhelm?" I looked back and forth between them.

"Another good soul, corrupted by the Miss," Oracle Wilhelm said, shaking his head. The murmurs in Deepland increased.

I took a step toward him and Ira gripped my hand, squeezing tight. I pushed down all of my rage.

"My love," Ira said, shifting my face so I was facing him instead. "The roses are lovely." For a moment, I had forgotten about everything around us. He smiled, and, damnit, I was enthralled.

"So sorry to cut this reunion short," Oracle Wilhelm said, "but this is not enough seeds to meet the conditions of your exile. I'm afraid this is never going to be enough to be accepted back into the Ironlands. You and...whomever's husband you stole will need to leave."

Ira handed the roses back to me—stopping me from once again stepping forward to bully and threaten this asshole—and began shuffling through a bag slung over his shoulder that I had somehow missed. Comically, he put up a single finger, gesturing for the annoying Oracle to wait. Then, in neatly bound leather bags, Ira tossed ten bags on the ground before Oracle Wilhelm.

"Like I said, the conditions of my exile have been met."

The murmurs shifted to giggles and laughter. "Well...ah, let's get you scheduled for your hearing right away, then. Don't want you getting comfortable if you won't be here long. Young man," he said to me, "this is your opportunity to get out while you are ahead—consider your stint with him a Weak Hit, at best. A minor inconvenience. This boy is nothing but trouble. There is no vow he considers sacred. Chaos follows him wherever he goes. Your life would be so much better if you were to leave him right now and never look back."

I looked at Ira and instinctively smiled.

"Young man!" Oracle Wilhelm was serious.

But so was I.

"Young man, if you remain by this whore's side, you will regret it. Has he told you why he was exiled? Pft, of course, he hasn't—not the truth, anyway. Do not let him sway you. He is the Sleaziest, most Sly individual to ever be birthed here. You are missing the truth, I know it. The details that have been right in front of you, he has clouded you from seeing it. You're missing the patterns, the signs—all of it. He will soon be exiled once again. You seem nice—Iron Clad, Bleeding Heart, Witty, full of Edge. Do not let him drag you down."

I held the black iron coin high and locked eyes with Ira. He groaned—but I saw the smile. He was just annoyed at what I was about to do.

"I swear," I said, leaning in closer—annoyingly closer, our lips almost touching. My smile was wide. Ira giggled—I'm sure he'd deny it later, but I heard him giggle! "We are going to kick this asshole's ass in this trial and show them all that you aren't what he says you are. You are not a Miss."

// Swear an Iron Vow

+1 (heart) + 1 Ira = +2 => 8 vs 4, 7. Strong hit!

-dusts off shoulders- When it counts, we get a good roll.

+2 momentum [10]

I could've sworn I heard at least two people clapping, but Oracle Wilhelm gestured sharply to silence all the noise from those who watched the spectacle. He stormed off in a rage; I counted that as a win.

A Strong Hit.

"Stop swearing so much and kiss me, Dim Wit."

// Develop a Relationship with Ira


⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #24: Amiss
Ira has arrived, and Locke and his crew explore Deepland—and learn of a few things that are amiss.

The next chapter

This work is based on Ironsworn: Starforged (found at www.ironswornrpg.com), created by Shawn Tomkin,
and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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