Many Bitter Returns
First week of September, 800

Fire lives in the blood.
The propensity for rage is not a right given solely to the righteous. It does not take a just heart and a worthy cause to inherit the indignation at the unspeakable actions your enemies may undertake. Neither is it doled out on a whim on the battlefield. There are causes, and then there are the effects.
The band of adventurers invading the once-independent island nation of Nemar, the second such invasion by many of the members of this fledgling corps, have achieved success after success thus far in their campaign across the wilderness. They crawl inexorably towards the largest convergence of civilization this isle has to offer with the hopes of gathering whatever prizes it may possess.
Freeing a group of prisoners, they learned a few details regarding the capture and incarceration of those not willing to bend to the idea of a new Empire. There is also the threat of the remaining prisoners not fortunate enough to be placed in the path of this singular march in defiance of this now well-established regime. These people would not seek out the prison edifices immediately, before any harm could come to those already under lock and key.
Quickly they move about the city, positioning themselves for a knife-thrust into the alleyways leading to the prison walls. Slipping into the city limits they move from shadow to shadow, their concealment augmented by magics and hope that the unwieldy arm of the occupying force would be unable to predict the coming sortie.
Fog covering their approach just as much as it hindered their own effectiveness, this force found itself running towards what could only be the confident voice of the hangman. There was the appearance of the pretense of a trial or a threat or even perhaps the lie of the executions to come serving to better protect the citizenry.
Either way, those under the noose did not appear to be those under lock and key. No, these were the prisoners breathing the fresh air of the island, moving about under the thumb of the oppressor. It was maybe not until this moment that these stalwart adventurers would have the chance to realize that there was no difference inside or out of the stockade. All on this island were prisoner.
The blood ran hot. This time the occupier feeling the sting that demanded retribution among the people that would make the loudest statement. Or maybe just assuage injured ego.
Taking precious few moments, yet another surprise was launched against the Empire. The fog-shrouded plaza erupted into chaos. Within seconds the masses, gathered to witness with clenched jaws the deaths that would only further break their will to rebel, began to flee back to their homes or whatever place they would lie to themselves as still being safe in this city. The barker on the dais reeled from chemical burns to his face and assassins dropped from rooftops and warriors waded through the crowds towards their foes.
It took precious little time to breach the stage and free the rope-encircled people, denying the executioners their prescribed pound of flesh.
With their defense breaking, the Empire fell back to what it could most easily accomplish: wanton destruction. Troopers bearing weapons that flung fire afar took up a commanding position and began to spray towards those that would dare to rise up against the iron will of their convictions.
As the blood runs hot, it too may also be extinguished. This was a day for blood-letting, for the venting of that heat back to the dirt and stone from where it came. And it was finally time for these invading adventurers to feel in return the losses they had been inflicting against those forces now living and working in this city and the surrounding seas.
Fire must be stoked, it must be tended and prodded to gift back any heat to use as a tool. These invaders now had more to think about as they worked the hearths they each held within. Moving back into the shadows once more, they resolved to rest and let the embers smolder.
Simmering down to the white hot heat that could be soon applied in the direction of their will.

The Mists of the Bold
First week of September, 800

Well. It has certainly been an odd day.

I believe in magic, which isn’t to say that this is much of a stretch for me. Belief of this kind is not strenuously achieved or tested. The people that I choose to spend my time with all regularly employ their magics, and on top of that I have a trick or two up my sleeve for when the timing is just right.

All that aside I am not normally turned into a bird to fly around in the sky on a lark. Or as a lark. Whatever the case may be.

Following the scouting flight empowered and escorted by Mae it was more than a little odd to go straight back to using my two legs as a means of transportation. Regardless we had gathered the necessary information to form what passes as a plan with this crew and set off to regroup with the rest of our group. Not long into this journey we cut the trail of a sizable force of troops headed in the direction of our waiting allies. It was little more than a quick twitch of a thumb to spin my ring, showing its pair that trouble was on the march.

It was honestly little more than a blur once the Empire squads crashed into our waiting ambush. A few seconds punctuated by lightning and crumbling ground and it was all over. Not a single loss among our fledgling assault force.

Quickly we set about policing the bodies and moving them elsewhere into the jungles to obfuscate our position as well as the direct path back to our waiting ships. Collecting the handful of armor and uniforms that weren’t completely mangled by battle, myself and those best suited to moving fast and silent through the brush moved forward.

Our mission was to complete some additional scouting back where these troops originated. It wouldn’t be very much like this invading Empire to do something subtly, or without overwhelming force. Eventually we came to the treeline and saw the industrious foes at work. A line of trenches was forming with sharp stakes forming the teeth to greet any predators foolhardy enough to attempt a breach. Among the standard troop deployments stretching on either side along the horizon were at least one group of visible slaves. A strange fog was also rolling in from seaward.

Falling back to meet the now-rested force moving forward, our version of a plan was formulated. Maybe we could draw out the forces using some of the stolen uniforms? Before I could so much as check for a suitable size the word came back that the fog was thickening and provided an all-new kind of opportunity.

A diversion was set with the few stolen rockets we had on hand and the rest of the group would charge the line and see about sowing confusion enough to loose the prisoners and fade back into the jungles.

As always, our machinations survived until roughly five seconds into conflict before being upended. The Alliance Irregulars set off their distraction and Chay bolted forward to close the distance. The wolfen abruptly tripped over a hidden trench, revealing a squad of certainly-sweating troops hunkered in a trap.

Unfortunately for these troops, perhaps expecting local resistance starved of resources and capable fighters, they were met instead with the ruthless efficiency of a Half-Orc warband and the otherworldly powers of a druid with command over the earth. Their trap became the tomb for most of these fighters as the ground crushed those unable to escape into the waiting blades of a dancing pirate queen and her raging compatriots.

The mist shrouded portions of this battle even from ourselves and as the skirmish wound down it was unclear what next to do. Moving out of the fog a line of rocket troopers appeared and let loose their payloads. While devastating in their damage none of us fell and instead were empowered to press on.

I attempted a quick entreaty for patience among the warband but their blood was up and there was nothing to be done but keep up as the line was rushed. We moved forward and again routed the less-armored of the Empire’s troops to break through and I was very relieved to see the prisoners still present and even fighting their guards.

I was not as relieved to see the reformed line of troops coming around from further down the line to close ranks with our now-harried fighters. We were running out of momentum and in a battle this can be the different between living or not. Sometimes.

Other times, the difference between living or not can be a massive growth of plants choking out any real chance of the attacking force being effective.

Freeing the captives, the assault force regrouped and retreated back to the welcoming canopy of the jungle. I slipped up to recover our distraction force, thankful to see that all were hardy and hale. This was now two very successful sorties without a single loss in the same day. We withdrew to collect ourselves for whatever would come on the morrow.

Although, what other real option is there but to press on when fortune shows its favor?

Salt and Copper
Session 50 - November 799

When stories are told, the senses are all that matter. They relate the storyteller to the audience and bring all into a shared experience. But even though I’ve had some time to think on all we did that day, everything is overpowered by the smells of copper and salt.

It had been weeks aboard the Smoke Over Water and I was pining for the days of being chased across the mountains and hills by the Circle. Even our sojourn South in the ship earlier that year was preferable because there was ample time for hunting and roaming ashore. Here we were trapped on all sides by nothing but the rolling and roiling seas.

If not for the strong stomach gifted by my kind it would have been excruciating for many reasons. Truly, the crew showed their discomfort for my being aboard when it came time to chain me to the mast belowdecks under the light of the full moon. None were more pleased than I when the only means we had to communicate with our friends began to spin out of control and the decision was made to come alongside and finish stalking our prey. The peaks of the island had been visible for well over a day and the restlessness aboard had been growing unceasingly.

As the grappling hooks were tossed aboard and cinched, a chilling scream split the air. Even sliding over the black seas in the dark, I could make out clearly the familiar shapes of my comrades arraying themselves around a doorway, weapons freeing themselves of their confinement.

The pups had barely waited for the ship to secure itself before they leapt aboard and flipped through the decking into the holds below. I could scarcely control my reaction, instinct once again taking control. With my own howl, I released what little command I have over the beast. Senses overwhelming, the salt air ruled over all and painfully flared on the crown of my head even as my bone and musculature cracked and snapped into place.

Once again, after what seemed an eternity, it was set loose on a problem only fang and claw could solve and while the pain remained it faded to but a dull throb. With glee I followed the twins and dove headfirst into the lower decks. Recognizing soldiers of the invading empire, we ripped through them before they could endanger too greatly the few crewmen attempting to defend themselves.

Above, there was a scream of pain and frustration from what must have been Fenrin. Later, he would share that it was his own blade that felled one of the Dapper Dolphin’s crew. It would be but a few more moments before what paltry distraction these soldiers belowdecks offered was dealt with. I rushed back after the pups yet again as they raced towards the main deck and the worst of the conflict.

Leaping up, barely using the ladder for little more than control of where I would land, it was clusters of chaos. The makla were weaving in and out of combat, one spinning what looked like a blocky blade on a chain to deadly effect and the other moving around and sometimes through the crew.

As I approached these threats whose complicated names I couldn’t be asked to remember, the militia closed in ranks alongside and we proceeded to enter the melee proper.

From there, the specific order of things I can’t quite piece together. The blood covering the deck challenged the seas slopping over the deck as our sapling brewed stormclouds overhead. As I glanced back at her, electricity cracked from her hands and eyes before striking down onto our opponents, meeting with the chained weapon and its makla keeper. Kaia’s feet appeared to touch the decking more out of a begrudging obligation than need as she danced around with blades slashing and searching for openings. The elf stabbed and stabbed again at the massive foes while I likewise raked claw and tooth at their armored forms.

Our assault did not come without cost. As we whittled down our enemies, they too reduced our effectiveness. Crewmen fell, including the captain of the Dolphin and several of the militia brought along solely through our own convincing. Whether they understood the risk or the powers that would be faced will never be made clear.

Eventually, all of his bodyguards did fall and their charge emerged from the cabins. This learned makla took up arms and was swarmed by the enraged crew. Even so, he knocked down several of our comrades before the sapling was able to restrain him in place. As the elf made a futile attempt at diplomacy the rest of us caught our breath and dove back in as he broke his bonds. Somewhere in the fray a sword was stripped from his grip but still he gave little pause. In a show of baffling power he reached out and threw us aside like dolls, breaking some and eradicating others.

Eventually the sapling saved us from more loss as she called down the lightning again on his form, stilling him and bringing an end to the conflict. In all the battles and odd things that I have witnessed in my time with this crew, nothing came about at such a cost.

As the conjured storms above settled and receded, the night was punctuated by the attempt to attend or revive our fallen on the blood-slicked deck. The island continued to loom over us in the dark, unmoved by our sacrifice. It remains to be seen if anything it could possibly hold would be worth the losses suffered. Either way we would go on and see it through, to whatever ends be our fate.

Stormcaller's Rest
Session 49 - November 799

As a portion of the group excitedly searched the remains of this island fortress after puzzling their way through the cavernous gate, they encountered yet another in a series of shocks and revelations secreted away in this isolated bastion.

A room which accessed a large vault door was discovered, far away from the prying eyes of their benefactors. Much to the chagrin of the brothers in particular, the treasure wasn’t piled to the ceiling sagging the masonry underneath it. Instead, only a locked vault and a few items were visible. These weren’t the degrading baubles that one might expect, however. Precious things imbued with the ability to assist each of the crew were laid about and labeled in curious rhymes and portents.

For what ultimate purpose or in which direction the crew should go they could not glean. Before much more than a shabby tapestry could be wedged into place as a makeshift door a shriek was heard from further up the spire.

Doc1.jpgTaking off at a run up the moldy stairwell Kaia, Fenrin, and Draz all piled into a room surrounded by portholes and vistas offering a spectacular view of the island and its surrounding waters. This panorama was marred by the table near the center of the room and the contents atop it.

In shabby clothes ravaged by time a body lay sprawled along the tabletop. Convincing the Makla to dismiss their jumpy soldier entourage, the remaining explorers focused on the remains. All that could be found was a journal with a few brief entries and a necklace. The Scholar Tu Vix seemed to believe the latter held enough power to convert someone into a new Makla.

Eager to stop this line of conversation and to keep these magical sponges away from destroying any relics or treasures, Fenrin rushed everyone else from the room and they began a shooing parade back down the tower and once again to the depths of this stronghold.

ship_cavern.jpgAs they descended, Tu Vix the Scholar was difficult to keep on task and they took cursory glances at rooms that once served as living quarters, a dirt-covered plaza, and an underground cavern.

Resting inside the cavern like a slumbering titan of old was a massive vessel of three masts and of a design no one could place. While it was disused and the ornamentation faded it was still afloat and proudly adorned with a large raven on its prow, a painted en along its flank.figure_head.jpg

As they made their way back towards the ship, the group convinced the Makla to leave a small contingent of their squad of soldiers by the gate to hold it secure for their next day of exploration.

Finally back on the ship, Fenrin and Kaia immediately went to their cabin to retrieve their poisons and implements. Launching into a lengthy discussion over what would be the best trap to spring upon their unwitting prey, they set upon a dosed dinner as a means to weaken the powerful Makla bodyguards. This would take several hours to take into effect, and could be made less effective spread throughout the four sharing this deceitful meal.

Slipping away for a moment, Fenrin found Serneo and pulled him aside with Draz to reveal that while he is a skilled leatherworker and armorer, the primary reason he was brought along was that he was yet another relative to their growing family. Fenrin did this to give him the task of taking some supplies and rowing towards the island once their timed trap ticked away into the night.

Knowing that they had several hours to wait Kaia and Fenrin, always eager for action, slipped overboard and swam to shore. In the deep of night they scaled the fortress walls and made their way back to the vault. Smelling magics laid on the door and knowing they didn’t have the luxury of time to discover the safest way to defeat the locks the pair left the contents for another time and slipped back down towards the gateway.

Fading into the shadows and continuing on the two came upon the soldiers camping in the pock-marked floor of the forge, the high tides giving them a sense of security. The power of their years of partnership was evident as the two swiftly and mercilessly dispatched all of the soldiers before they could even sufficiently wake from their slumber.

Removing the bodies through the floor and sealing the gate, the two once more climbed the walls and made their way to the shoreline to swim to the Dapper Dolphin. Hardly before they could dry their clothes and brace themselves for what could come next, everything began at once.

Hearing the screams of the Scholar’s bodyservant and seeing the familiar and welcome sight of the Smoke over Water sidling up to the Dolphin in the dead of night, it was clear that their weeks of patience were to be put to the test this very hour.

With nowhere to run and many of their trusted friends and loved ones now collected together, these brave adventurers will risk it all in order to secure the mysteries and possibilities this wondrous island promises…

Shades and Echoes
Session 44.5 October 799

A solitary elf leans back in his chair in the bustling taproom of The Tipsy Stone. His mood appears light and the fancy bottle of mulled cider he fills his cup from belies a celebration.

‘Gather ’round and I’ll fill you in a bit on where I’ve been the past few days. There you go, there’s plenty of space at the table and the inn is light on soldiers this evening.

Well. Where to begin. I guess you could say that we have all been fortunate to be having an otherwise boring week following some of the other developments and revelations Erathik holds for us. I found myself wandering a bit, that old familiar twitch in my palm.

Following a somewhat portly fellow who appeared well-off, I found myself outside of a money-changing house guarded by soldiers of the Empire below the sea. A curious thought began to worm its way around my mind and I bought a few necessary provisions in order to stay well-fed and alert in the coming hours and what turned into days.

Snagging a shabby traveling cloak from a laundry line a few streets away, I studied the odd building that the Empire had appropriated for their own use. Aside from all the usual telltale markers of a bank controlled by the city, there were some stables attached to the rear of the building and the building itself sprawled over much of a city block.

I’ve a trick of the trade for you now: as you settle in to a classic watch ‘n wait, don’t worry too much about keeping a sharp focus on every detail. Let your eyes wander, let your thoughts wander, but stay awake! In those drifting moments things out of the ordinary or conversations you might not have overheard will float to the top of the mug.

I was in this rhythm for the better part of two days, taking breaks to circle the block or climb a nearby building for a better vantage point. Breath in the air of a place long enough, you get to learn its own rhythms. If you can grasp that, feel that, you’re left with a choice: either shrug and move on in your own way or you can decide to let go of the shore and let the tide pull you along as it will.

This is one of the keys to disappearing in a crowd or making a friend wherever you go. You have the choice to be whoever you want, which will help you do almost anything you want. Mark these words in crystal but never forget who is underneath. That way lies madness.

Mid-day on the second day I decided it was time to get the final pieces of the puzzle. Following the basic rhythms of those I had seen coming and going, I entered the moneylender and surprisingly found myself speaking to a dwarf by the name of Ra-ku-ta.

He changed a bit of my coin out and gave me the basic rundown on Empire currency that I already knew (but it seemed to make him feel good, which is important). While he was speaking I took as many glances around the room as possible and made a mental map of the room before taking my leave.

Night fell. When it was the deepest hours of the night, I set into motion.

Climbing the wall and slipping in through an upstairs window I found myself in an occupied guardroom. This was fine, their gentle snoring belying a deep sleep. Moving through the hallways there was a surprising amount of activity, card games and dinners running against the divide between morning and night. Bending with the shadows, it wasn’t much of a task to find my way around and downstairs near the rear doors facing the stables.

Moving away and towards the lending room, I slipped the door open and found two guards hovering near my prize. Getting them to look away wasn’t too difficult, you need only create a distraction suitable to draw their simple minds. Producing the sound of a dog barking in the alley was enough to dart in behind the counters but not without squeaking on a floorboard.

Honestly, these old buildings will be the death of me one day. But not this day.

Avoiding attention from the guards as they settled back into their musings I set to work on the bank of chests lining the counter. Muffling my picking, the lock was eventually defeated and the lid raised to get a peek at what I was working with.

Unfortunately I was dealing with so much that there were a few noisy coins that shifted and clinked around. Thinking as quickly as I could, I projected more noise outside the room, this time of the dwarf Ra-ku-ta asking for assistance out back. When one guard took the bait, it was then or never.

Moving as quickly as I could, I slid behind the one remaining guard and dispatched him before he could raise an alarm. Unfortunately for him, seeing my face that night was the last thing he did on this world. Freeing his keys from their captivity, I likewise went about opening the vault.

Rows of chests greeted me, but all with the same locks I had already beaten on the open chest. Knowing that the hourglass was losing precious grains of sand I flipped off the shabby cloak and laid it on the open chest and dumped the contents inside.

rogue-assassin.jpg Bundling it into a makeshift bag and leaping over the counter I made for the front door, beginning to hear the noises of approaching footsteps from the direction of the stables. A steady hand is the difference between life and death in these moments and even flipping through keys to find the right one I was sure and smooth in my motions.

Finding the right one and flipping the tumblers of the lock, I started to instantly run and charged the door with my shoulder, slipping into the night and back here without anyone the wiser.

You saw me counting the sums earlier, but it was easily the largest single heist of coin I’ve had in my charmed lifetime. Soak in this story, little sisters. As I promised, next time you’re coming with me!

Calbur, friend! A few cups for my younger kin! And a quiet round on me for those not sporting allegiance to the Empire…

Black: The Shade of Leech Stones Past!
Session 42 - October 799

In Progress

Red: The Skin of Makla Men!
Session 41 - October 799

Following an informative chat with Colbur at the Tipsy Stone, we operated on some of that information by heading to the southern regions of the city to find some street with the name of a flower…dandelion? dogbane? daphne? I don’t recall, one of those “D” blossoms.

Unfortunately, there were a few guards between us and our destination in the form of one of those pesky checkpoints. We chose one to our liking—meaning with as few guards as possible—and proceeded to try. Our estimable burglar had the papers we’d procured earlier and was willing to give it a try first. He did tolerable good, managed to convince them he was an “apothecary” and even learned the name on the papers: The Gay Sriracha Ma unless my ears deceived me—it was a fair way back. We should remember that for later. Eventually Madam Stabby was able to get the rest of us through with an uncharacteristic amount of blood left inside the obstacles of our passage. Turns out she can spin a fair tale if the need arises.

So we came to The Complete Blacksmith with no further to do and found a chained orc and his little “master”. It didn’t take long to be assured we could have a crowbar ready for a clandestine meeting later in the eve.

Now, as we had a few hours to frivol away, we decided to peruse the local fauna for a spell, and we weren’t disappointed. Before long we got to see a bloody little brawl in the streets and even joined in a bit. The resistance certainly seemed to be alive and kicking in the city.

Back with our orcish host, we were treated to a stroll into the side of a stone wall and a regular treasure of gifts: papers and weapons befitting a spy or some such.

We had one more visit to make that night and it was to an old friend. This time Wally was in and almost took our heads off in more ways than one. He’d learned a few things it seemed since last we met. The first thing we noticed was his impressive ability to quaff the ol’ broth as “they” say. Secondly we realized he was a bit more handy with his, well, hands, but in a beat ‘em up sort of way if you follow me—there are but a few that can manhandle Kaia like that is what I’m saying. Well I think Wally might have begun to tell us something about it, but suddenly my not-so-faithful steed was occupied with personal grooming and a nighttime stroll. He took us for a quick frolic over the city walls where we spent the night.

The next morning we flounced up to Cliff Gate (supposedly the most lax in security) like a fattened calf parading to the butcher on feast day. A master at speaking meaninglessnesses, Draz did quite well trading air-headed statements with the guard, but when that creepy fellow “inspected” him for magicability I could actually feel the kid’s muscles tighten like harp strings—and for someone of his build that’s downright disturbing.

But we made it alright and got a brand new set of papers: Rat Will Envy To Leer was born!

I wonder what the other’s were doing…eh, can’t of been anything too important. At least I know them wouldn’t have brought up that whole bother about Mysttelah; that would be even more terrible than thinking her dead.

Got Nothing
Session 40 - October 799

Following our nice jaunt into Erathik, it didn’t take long to find our way to troublemakers of one sort or another. In this case, at least, the folks seemed to be makers of our kind of trouble. The incongruously named Gilded Rose—well it’s cellar at least—served as a quite passable refuge for the night, but with our luck you must know that couldn’t last long.


Early the next morning most of us were woken by the sound of and smell—well only some of us noticed the scent I suppose—of an empire soldier tumbling down the stairs. Kaia soon dealt with that little problem, and with the second wrestling with our hostess at the top of the stairs, who rather too calmly offered us breakfast before bidding us to take the bodies and leave.

Now we have one or two members of our party with a straight-thinking head firmly planted on their necks, but it took us an unacceptable amount of time to decide what to do with those two corpses. I, of course, came up with a number of feasible plans at once, but we finally went with J’s idea to put them in the potato sacks. That was plan three on my list; not bad for a two-footed whelp.

Our stroll to drop the bodies off the wharf was remarkably unremarkable and soon after we determined we should try to seek out ol’ Wal Wal. Actually arriving we didn’t find much of use. I mean, someone seemed to be living there—messily—but no saying it was him. Our infamous illiterate did his best to leave a number of not so subtle clues about for the man to find. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see on that one. Something of more interest—to me at least—happened on the way to the erstwhile abode of our friend. TheDry-Addle Brained Missy seemed to take a bit of a shock upon sight of the old temple, which could use a good whitewashing incidentally. Stood stock still mumbling something like “That witch’s never-sad husband stuttered” which is undoubtedly of great importance. I’m devoting most of my considerable mental faculties to unwinding this puzzle.

With no better recourse we decided to head for the Tipsy Stone because, as you must have learned by now, whenever we don’t have a better idea we go to the local watering hole. This led us to a string of blunders—all caused by trying to avoid an empire checkpoint (understandably)—starting with the scrawny lad’s inability to climb hand over hand and culminated by the loud-mouthed rebel’s inability to keep a civil tongue in his head or follow his big brother’s example and bluff his way past the guards we bumped into.

Thankfully the fight was really more of a scrap followed by a flight. Sure was lucky those stray dogs showed up. I never much cared for mongrels like that in Tych, but I’ll think better of their kind hereafter. A little better at least, promise.

Leaving a few bodies—empire—in our wake, we managed to make it to the Old Windmill, one of the J’s hideouts from back in the…year has it been?

We realized that we’d made it past the checkpoint after all, so, after a little disguise work, Kaia, Fenrin, Draz and I slipped off to the Stone after all.
We nosed about for a while, Kaia did some jaw flapping to pick up some information, Draz liberated a few purse-indentured items to do the same, but it was Fenrin that really did something of worth. He slipped into the kitchens shortly after me—what, you think I’m stupid? I know best room in an inn—and spoke to the barkeep, Calbur, beyond the eyes and ears of the empire in the common room. Between his conversation with the ol’ fellow and the subsequent one we had with his granddaughter thanks to Fen securing us a room and an alliance of sorts, we learned about empire currency, a bit about their identification system, and gleaned hints regarding what happened to the temple.

Hopefully we learn more soon. I want to see how that witch and her optimistic spouse fit in with the other strands of this web.

Experience of a Lifetime
Session 38 - September 799

Well our avoidance lasted all of what seemed five heartbeats before we were right back in the trap. Two massive ships were sweeping up the riverbanks. The gray of pre-dawn was beginning to give way to a gentle light. No where to hide.
We decided to go right for one of them, hoping to squeeze past and speed downriver before they could turn. At the last moment we got the warning, something between the ships! Virash must have slipped and fallen on the tiller, because we cut sharp and almost avoided them, but unfairly their floating isle rammed itself betwixt us and the shore, the chain connecting to the two ships cutting off our escape, but not before we gave ’em a broadside of their own thunder-pipes!

One of those cocky Makla sorts called out for a couple of cretins with strange face fetishes to board us and “have fun”. Probably not a good sign. Of course, we weren’t going to stand there and take it. Lady Mae transformed into a creature of much greater loveliness than her usual unnatural self, and of frightful strength. Grumpy also morphed, and the fighting was begun.

The Makla smoked us out with some kind of swinging pot—I think it did something to the urchin cause he was more useless than usual. It was hard to catch everything that went on, but I know that at some point Mae, Chay, and one of the boarders fell or were cast overboard. Then we were sending an answering boarding party! The pirate, the cap’n, and the thief got over to their deck and set to work…doing…something.

Next thing I know Chay, Fenrin, and Kaia are back but Virash stayed a moment to rip the massive winch off the deck and drop it in the river! I’m not sure I’ve ever been more terrified—and think of the other tales I’ve told you!

We got moving then, pulling away from the enemy ship. I think it was that overly zealous, talking beard that somehow managed to snag ol’ Virash with a rope and haul him after us and aboard. Of course, he ranted for the next hour about how it was the “Great White Shark” or whatever it is he calls his imaginary friend.

Now, I think—desperately hope!—we’ll have smooth sailing for a bit. At least the last day or two has been nice, nothing more exciting than picking up some peddler with a few baubles for sale. After procuring a few things (legally or otherwise) we continued on, though, since we no longer have wares to give the alliance—their camp being obliterated and all—one might ask what’s our motive now? But maybe it was good for us to be aimless for a little while, I feel that we’ve been so frantic lately that we didn’t have time to really absorb our experiences as we should. After all, it is the experience of life that helps us grow, right? The adversity that makes us stronger?

I certainly hope that’s true, because I have the sinking feeling we’ll need all the strength we can dredge up in the days to come.


The Bigger They Are...

I have arrived many places to find myself in the middle of all manner of bother, but today ranks among the most odd. It seems, though it spanned only a heartbeat, we came during a shadow of an interlude in the mayhem as some Mock Law (why they name their demons after false legal documents I have yet to discover, but it promises to be an interesting revelation), face to face with the Madam Scoundrel. Something was passing between them and it was anything warm or friendly. Though I found this out later, I’ll now refer to this Mock Law as MystLaw, as explained by her query before our arrival, “Kaia, why do you have my sword?”

Well that pause in the action, if it was more than imagination, didn’t survive long after we arrived. Kaia lashed out with word and blade at MystLaw, ineffectually. Steel flashed and blood sprayed, and then MystLaw was suddenly upon the Tree-Croc-Kitty Lady and pummeling her like a butcher tenderizing meat. Then I’m not certain she was a lady anymore, in a manner of speaking that is, for I swear her scent changed. She smelled…darker, I think. In any case, the black void she summoned to swallow herself and MystLaw certainly was dark.

Our Entertainer arrived even later than I and the Waif, but he lost no time in shouting out encouragement to his fellows and heaping insults upon his foes. He also managed a few tricks with fire that reminded me once again he was good for more than a tune or tale.

Things were not looking good for Dark Mae, though truth be told I couldn’t actually see her, but suddenly that Shaggy Brute emerged from the murk with the unconscious sprite flung over his no doubt smelly back.

Meanwhile, I had forsaken my normal means of transport—just in time for it was shortly thereafter airborne. Draz, apparently showing off, soared into the melee beside Kaia, lighting exploding out from him to dart around friends and stab through foes. That fight was going well, but Mystlaw had proven a match and more for Aiden and Chay, neither of whom could hinder her. She strode back towards Kaia, dropped Abar with a precise blow and demanded her sword back. Kaia tried to oblige, at least the sword was definitely headed in MystLaw’s direction, but then it seemed to disappear. I’m not quite sure what happened next, maybe she was intimidated by the sight of a woman ramming a fire hawk down her companion’s throat, but MystLaw retreated.

Aiden made chase, but only to hurl a final vaguely classified statement at her back.

In the aftermath, as we checked bodies and tended to are wounded, Muambu’s cry of pain and outrage drew our eyes to the prone Abar. The bear of a man made no response as Muambu tried to waken him, and after a moment the reality finally penetrated into conscious thought.

Abar was dead.

I’ll admit I will miss that lunk. He was always too slow with his hands to stop me from sharing his plate at supper.

We tended to him as best we could and then finished the job we came here for, chopping down a bloody tree. Some folk complain that lumber costs an arm and a leg. We paid two of both and more besides.

With some help from the Tree-Croc-Kitty-Pony Lady and the Urchin we managed to get our burden to the ship and confess our bad news to the rest of the crew. Not all of them took it lightly.

But at the end of the day there was still work to be done. We prepared the ship for disembarkation and in the meanwhile, Aiden prepared for a conversation with our latest guest, invited by the other party. He surely put in the effort, managing, with a little help, to dress the part, but his tongue was more like lead than silver that night if the news he reported in the morning was any indication.

Finally, as we were about to depart, we caught sight of an empire ship. Shortly later, a second and a third. They were patrolling the river. With a bit of luck and a touch of fog, we managed to slip past them. Then we were on our way south again.



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