Ira's trial doesn't go exactly as planned. Luckily, a surprise witness may be the key they need for Ira to win his trial.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #25: The Witness
⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #24: Amiss
Ira has arrived, and Locke and his crew explore Deepland—and learn of a few things that are amiss.

The previous chapter

The Witness

Season 2, Chapter 25

// Secure an Advantage

+1 (heart; searching out character witnesses for Ira) => 7 vs 2, 8. Weak Hit.

+2 momentum [6]

Some of the Ironlanders we spoke to remembered Ira. Even less had kind words about the infamous Miss and Match—Ira and his twin sister. They told me mostly things I already knew: about how he failed to complete his Coming of Age Swearing, and all the scandalous details of the affair with Oracle Godfrey.

Ira was always labeled the Bad Twin. No matter what he did—especially when he meant no harm—he was always an entity for malevolence. If he was simply in the vicinity, he was blamed. The curse of being the Miss.

His sister, on the other hand, was always the Good Twin. Her presence alone was attributed to the good things that happened. The Strong Hit.

My time with Ira was nothing but—what did he call it?—a stritma. A Strong Hit and a Match. I felt like I could do anything, go anywhere. I would travel to the ends of the universe—back to Old Earth and wage war against Malice itself—as long as I knew he was going to be waiting for me.

// Progress

Progress on Ira's trial! [4/10]

I wasn't sure how what we found would help us, but the trial wasn't going to wait.

He tried to mask it away, become the Sly individual Oracle Wilhelm and the others claimed him to be, but I saw the nervousness overtake Ira as he led us to Barrierland the following morning.

The word choice bothered me. I was Sly and wasn't ashamed of it. It helped me do what needed to be done on more than one occasion. Yet the Ironlanders seemed to consider it purely a negative trait. Iron was both good and bad—you could be Icon Clad or Iron Header. You could be Witty or a Dim Wit. You could be a Bleeding Heart or Heartless, though the former had definitely come to mean something less-than-positive lately. You could be Edgey or Blunt.

What was the positive version of Shadow?

In fact, most of my "negative" traits were secretly assets in disguise. I was Dim Witted and Iron Headed as hell. I saw something bad—like a person bleeding from every orifice on their body—and I wanted to investigate it further. I couldn't tell if a Bleeding Heart was a good or bad thing but it helped push me along every day. It's why John was with me, and Jane, and Yelena, Kaisa, and Fletcher. It's why Blackstone didn't turn me in despite being wanted for a sizeable bounty.

Ira told me about Barrierland—and the other areas of the Ironlands. Barrierland was cold. Not in feel—though the more I thought about it, the more I felt a difference in temperature as we came closer to the courthouse.

The differences between Barrierland and Deepland were stark. Where Deepland had been copper-colored and filled with life, Barrierland was bright but filled with metal and stone. Cold and uninviting. Void of life. It screamed professionalism and business. Decorum and standards. There was no sky above us. Instead, more stone and metal. This place was not designed to elicit feelings of anything other than the inside of a ship.

Or the inside of a prison.

"Do you, Ira Adler, swear to tell the truth during these proceedings? Do you swear to act with your Heart and not your Shadow?"

"I do."

Despite reading up on what would happen during the trial, seeing twenty people enter from both sides of the room was startling. Ira called them Challengers. Ten sat on either side, a small representation of the Ironlanders as a whole. He'd need to present all of his evidence and get as much support from both sets of Challengers.

Ira stood in the middle of the rather large room, a large podium in front of him. It looked metallic—more than likely iron. John and I sat in one of the rows of viewers closer to the front, while the rest of the crew sat a few rows back. Video screens sprang to life around us, different viewpoints of Ira on display for all of the Ironlands to see.

He stood...alone.

I hoped he knew that he wasn't.

"Present your evidence, Mr. Adler." Oracle Wilhelm's eyes lit up with malicious intent, Slyly hidden to look sweet and innocent.


Ira did as we rehearsed: he first went through the seeds he collected. If he remembered, he told them a quick story of where the seed had come from, mixing in details of his heroism with Legacy. However, instead of having them deliberate for hours on end on whether the seeds alone would be enough, we insisted that he tell them exactly what we already knew.

"Sadly," Ira said, "I have not come with enough seeds."

There were gasps. No doubt they were thinking, "Well, why did he even come?"

"I did my best, but I fell short. I..." He hesitated and cut a glance behind him. To me. I nodded, and he continued. "I've been collecting seeds for a while now. I should hate them. When I was exiled, I thought I would shun them entirely, forever. Why collect them on the off chance I'll get to come back home to people who think so lowly of me? People who call me the 'sleaziest' and 'most Sly'?

"You all don't know, but my ship was boarded once I left—once I was banished from here. Within the hour, my ship was boarded and I was taken hostage. Almost as if someone let them know I would be an easy target."

More gasps. Oracle Wilhelm—who was off to the side, looking rather anxious—tried to shush the audience. He stood with a few other Oracles all dressed similarly. Despite all of us wanting to take a jab at Oracle Wilhelm, John insisted that we shouldn't. A light mention, a statement saying, "We know" would be enough.

"I..." He took a deep breath. "Seeds actually saved my life. More than once. The condition of my exile had saved me on numerous occasions—the funniest Match ever. Who'd've thought? So, I began collecting them. I tried my best."

// Face Danger

This definitely gives me Face Danger vibes. It's kind of reactionary. We've prepared all we could. Now it's time to put it into action.

+2 (wits) => 5 vs 2, 6. Weak hit. Not too bad.

-1 Spirit [2]

Endure Stress

+2 => 5 vs 1, 3. Shake it off! +1 Spirit.

For a moment, I thought he was going to reveal his Branding. I knew things were different here in the Ironlands, but they already didn't like him much. I didn't want him to give them another reason to send him away. Not again.

I wasn't sure I would stop him if he reacted.

"That's a very Heart Breaking story. However, without the seeds, this will be a very open-and-shut trial. You only have four pieces of valid evidence."

My heart dropped. Was that not worth anything to them? If they wanted him to act on his Heart, why didn't it get through to them?

"Unless you can magically make the correct number of seeds appear, I'm afraid—"

"I have something to say."

We did not practice this.

Before I realized what was going on, I was standing. Every eye in the room was trained on me, the foreigner pretending to be what they were born as.

Ira's eyed widened.

"Young man, please take your seat."

Being the Iron Headed, Dim Witted fool I was, I did the exact opposite.

I moved from my seat entirely and stood next to Ira by the iron podium. I took his hand and steeled my nerves.

I swore to him we'd win this.

Awesome. We were going off-script.

"My name is Locke Holmes. I was born in the Salvi Pass on the planet Saffron. I've known Ira ever since he was exiled, and he's filled my life with nothing but joy and passion."

I was leaving out some details, but that was unimportant.

"He saved me—using seeds. Saved a lot of us, actually. He went through hell and still found time to save people. The incident with the food supply was an accident, I assure you. He has paid for that with his blood, sweat, and tears. Could you all please find it in your hearts to allow him to come back home?"

Some of the Challengers seemed to consider my words, but Oracle Wilhelm was quick to reign them in. "We are sorry he went through hell, but rules are rules. Let me remind you, Mr. Holmes, you are a guest here in the Ironlands. Only Ironsworn are permitted to speak during these proceedings."

I pulled out the black iron coin and held it up high for all to see.

And—fuck humility—I gave the best-damned monologue of my entire life.

"I may not have been born here, but I assure you, I am Ironsworn. After he was exiled and after he saved my life, Ira taught me what it means to be a real Ironsworn. If I promise something—if I Swear it, I mean it. I do not back down. It's why I'm standing right here defying your rules. I Swore that we would win this case and I refuse to Forsake it. That woman back there?" I motioned to Jane who reluctantly put a hand up. "She'll tell you. I Swore to a mutual friend that I would save her, and I got my ass handed to me in the process. I ran—but only for a moment. He'll"—I motioned to John—"tell you. I was practically fighting him to come back to her. I had Sworn an Iron Vow.

"Speaking of that woman, she's fought me the entire way here. In rescuing her, I've lost Watt, my robot companion. My ship is held together with thoughts and prayers. I'm being hunted, my life forever upended because I pissed off whoever put her in danger. And that's just the Misses that happened because of that vow.

"And you know what? I would happily do it all over again. In a heartbeat! Don't get me started on Hearts. I'm so Iron Headed, such a Bleeding Heart—you see those three with her? THEY ARE THE ONES WHO KIDNAPPED HER! But I helped them too and now we're all running for our lives! I didn't even need a vow to do that!

"This man right here, the...the love of my life...has taught me to be Ironsworn because I want to be. My word means something. When I Swear, I mean it—unlike some people. I adhere to each and every vow, even if they make me just the slightest bit crazy. This man right here gave me purpose, and has shown me who I really am.

"I am THUNDERFANG, and I am...Ironsworn."

// Compel

+1 (heart) => 7 vs 1, 2. STRONG FUCKING HIT.

+1 momentum [7]

// Progress

Progress on the trial [6/10]

Also, Develop your Relationship with Ira

Silence. Not a pin drop.

Had I said too much?

Apparently so. Oracle Wilhelm scrunched his face and cleared his throat. "Ira Adler has...six pieces of valid evidence. Six milestones in total. Challengers. It is up to you now. Please deliberate."

My heart raced. One set of Challengers stood and exited the room, followed by the other moments later. Oracle Wilhelm and the other Oracles did the same shortly after.

Ira spun me around. "What was that?!"

"I panicked! You needed a witness. Maybe they'll give you credit for making a better Ironsworn than some of them?"

"Dim Wit." He smiled and hugged me.

// Fulfill Your Vow

So... the vow is at 6/10.

I don't think I can narratively get this up any higher, so... let's do it.

6 vs...

It was an excruciating six hours.

"They don't normally take that long. I can't tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing," Ira whispered as the Challengers reentered the space. An Oracle I couldn't name was handed an envelope from One set of Challengers and he moved to stand in the center of the two groups. He cleared his throat to get everyone's attention.

"Oracle Hobbs, what support do the Challengers give?"

Oracle Hobbs opened the envelope.

I caught his eyes widen just a bit, betraying the mask he Slyly slipped on mere seconds later.

"The Challengers give...the support...of eight."

The crowd erupted.

In cheers.

I couldn't remember if it was a good or bad thing. Ira sat with widened eyes and his mouth partially open.

"Is eight good?"

Ira's expression didn't change but he slowly turned his head to face me.

And nodded.

"Eight...Eight means that only two opposed. With six milestones, I only needed the support of five. But eight?" Ira peered into my eyes. "You...you got through to them. At the very least, this is a Whit."

I tried to remember what a Whit was as Oracle Wilhelm called forth another Oracle to read the second envelope he'd gotten from the second set of Challengers.

"Oracle Kylar, what support do the Challengers give?" A vein protruded from his neck as he spoke. This was clearly not going the way he had planned.

"The Challengers give..."

Oracle Kyler's face lit up.

"The Challengers give the support of six!"

// Fulfill Your Vow Result

6 vs 2, 4.

I legit want to cry.

No, seriously. Like... I'm so used to these things going so fucking poorly for them that...wow.

Also, for clarity: the "support" is the focus here narratively, but the opposition is what counts. The opposition is equal to the number on the Challenge dice. 

So, a "support of 8" means "2 opposed," which means "one Challenge die rolled a 2." 

Ira fell to the floor and I quickly knelt down to help him. His eyes were wide and his face wet with tears. I brushed a few of them away and got in close, smiling.

"You did it, baby."

// Develop a Relationship with Ira



9 vs... 1, 2.

Hi, Ira. ❤️

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.

Want to own Starforged for yourself? Grab it on DriveThruRPG!
(Affilate link)