Taris

Of Kids and Kings
"Stop playing with that mummy right now!"

In the words of Phi: a journal entry…

I have discovered that I do not have a whole lot of patience when it comes to children. It seems to me that they are small, and vulnerable, and not all that bright. One would think that if you were told a specific site was haunted with the dead and that perhaps these dead could rise and therefore splatter you across the wall…. you wouldn’t go there. But no, I suppose children do not have a large allotment of common sense.

I felt my patience wearing very thin by the time we found the fourth child who did her best to irritate me to no end. I am thankful that Howl saw fit to disable her with a simple sleep spell. At that point I had been mauled by mummies, skewered by skeletons, shot with sharps, and fried with fire. I don’t think I was having the best of days, and it must’ve shown. Though I endavor to be an example to my team members at all times I admit also that my inner turmoil over Chiron’s apparent defection has me severely out of sorts.

I feel it would be best for everybody involved if I sequestered myself in prayer until I can resolve these feelings.

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Howl and Calcifer play a game of "Does it burn?"
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Phi, Cor and Marinara Sauce

Almost a month has pasted since Lt. Abbrams, Knight of the Silver Scale, introduced Howl and myself to our new companions. We now find ourselves in Fridgir, sharing an inn with the 5 Cromats we’ve been hunting no less. There were many adventures that brought us here but first, I feel I should introduce my new companions.

Cor Chalybus first struck me as your average cleric of St. Cuthbert; committed to justice and upholding the rule of law. My opinion of him changed quickly once I saw him interrogating (more like entertaining) a follower of Tiamat. Never did he raise a hand or threaten him with divine retribution, instead he told him of different paths he could take with his second chance… and they weren’t even noble ones. He is also respectful of other gods (even evil ones), and he does what is right for people, not necessarily his church. Not to mention he is great to have on your side in a fight! If he isn’t healing you, he’s fucking something up with his mace. I don’t think he was too happy about having to work with me at first, but he has slowly become more open and friendly.

to be continued

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Oh Hell....
"Tiamat's tits!"

In the words of Phi: A journal entry….

Words cannot adequately express just how I feel right now. It has been a long, hard road that has lead us to where we are. To find out what I did tonight has me shaken to my very soul. I do not want to believe my friend Chiron is wrapped up into it all, but the proof of my own eyes sat close enough to touch for over an hour discussing plans to bring war upon Bahamut’s land.

I am at a loss….

(Here there is a splotch of ink, as of perhaps she had dropped the quill without care.)

To be continued….

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Scarves & Scales

In the words of Phi; a journal entry…
 

            I am currently in a medium sized town named Kadith that sits pretty much on Clall Lake, more commonly known as the Rose Mist Lake.  I did not have much trouble finding my way to this place as the road is fairly well traveled and marked for passage.  There was some incident with a crocodile and a cheetah who both tried to make a meal out of my new war horse, Steel.  I provided ample reason for both predators to avoid doing such a thing and admit that perhaps I was too forceful with the crocodile; it did not survive the encounter with my mace.  I do not delight in killing animals, they are only here doing what is natural for them.  Still, I can ill-afford for Steel to be wounded, or for my mule Sassafras to be lame.

            I find it much easier to travel now that I have a stalwart companion in Steel.  He was expertly trained by the same family who provides all of the war horses to the Silver Scale Knights in Celebraan.  I know from working with my father’s horses that Steel is of excellent stock and his majesty and strength awe me.  Standing beside a 19 hands tall white stallion makes one feel quite small in comparison; I am careful that he does not step on me!  I make sure that I am up each morning as the sun rises to do my 5am workout and to take care of Steel and Sassafras before we begin our travels.  I know that the bond between us will be stronger the more time I spend caring for them myself, and I enjoy the work.

            Kadith, upon arrival, reminds me of home in some ways.  Though it is much larger then my birthplace it still has a community feel.  You can tell the roads are maintained, the buildings scrubbed with care of presentation, and the people are friendly towards travelers.  I easily found someone who directed me to Base Camp, an inn of some renown.  Once Steel and Sass’ were stabled I rented myself a room, bathed, and then settled in for some information gathering down at a restaurant called The Dig.  My current mission is to help the local magistrate with a problem, namely one ghost that has been haunting Kadith and stealing odd items from the town.  I’d assume it was just a petty thief, or perhaps some kids, but I was assured that they Mayor’s wife had seen the ghost.

            I admit that while I am good at speaking to anyone, I am not so great at asking the right people about the right things apparently.  I spent the first night in town laughing with the patrons at The Dig and really just scrubbing myself mentally of road grime.  Turning in around 10pm I went to bed no more enlightened about the Kadith Curse (as some had called it) then before I trotted in.  Tomorrow I will head towards the other side of town where all of the law offices and magistrate are.  It is claimed that the Kadith Curse seems to be more central to that region of town, and so that is where I will begin my search for further information.

5am in Kadith is a time of silence and solitude.  I groom Steel and Sass then went for my daily run.  It feels good to be under my own locomotion again, testing my muscles and trotting along at a good pace.  No one is around to watch me really, but I find that I miss the company of Jacob and Henry.  Those two are living in a life of luxury back in Celee, having more money than they know what to do with. I do, and do not envy them, but I still wish they were here with me…

Rose Mist Lake is as gorgeous as all the brochures and pamphlets promise.  I took a rout along the lakeshore just to get a good idea of what all the fuss was about and I was not disappointed, that’s for sure.  At one point I stood, silent and still, to watch a herd of deer approach the mists, pass into them and disappear towards the lake.  It is simple pleasures like these that I feel should not be taken for granted, as all too easily they are lost to more pressing matters.  As I run I speak to Bahamut in my thoughts and keep up a dialogue throughout; it is the best time for me to mentally go over the past, present, and future plans for my missions.  As always I pray for Chiron’s return and that I am guided towards finding him as soon as possible; he is ever first in my prayers and thoughts as well as the last.

The day has dawned bright and clear by the time I am showered and ready to depart my room once more.  I think the best way to start off is to resupply and thus have a good reason to move about town and ask all sorts of questions.  No one seems to mind my questions here as it is, and I am careful to be professional as well as friendly.  There is a Knight’s outpost here, but I was instructed to deliver a sealed letter to their commanding officer once I had handled the Kadith Curse issue. I’d really like to know what’s in that letter, since it was mentioned that this is my final test before I begin my proper trials. Ah well… time will tell.

The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.

My day has started with the General Store and there was not much to be found there.  I picked up the usual things, rations, rope, etc… There I found out that I could commission a tabard for Steel and set off to the Tailor’s Shop.  I learned from the Tailor that the small temple of Bahamut had been trying to rally support from Celebraan to have a trained Cleric sent to help them with the Kadith Curse, and I believe that would indeed be me.  Returning to Base Camp I retrieve Steel and ride to the temple to check in.  Upon arriving I see there is a similar horse tied in front, though this one has some type of special barding attached to it; I make note of this and proceed into the temple.

Sitting with a priest, lost in conversation, I spot the man who must own the horse out front.  He too is wearing armor and seems rather agitated, gesticulating regularly and with fervor.  I wait quietly to be approached, eyes raised to the visage of Bahamut behind the alter.  It is not long before the armored man, who I am later told is Peter, takes his leave and the priest comes to sit by me.  I start by turning so that he can see my full face, tattoo glinting softly in the light; it amazes me that I can always catch just a glimpse of the effect.  He smiles broadly and we exchange names, and reasons. I am quickly thanking him for his time, receiving a blessing, and trotting out the door after Peter.

Turns out that Peter is actually the head guard for one of the major noble families who live in Kadith and they had just been robbed of a family heirloom.  It sounded like a typical ghost theft item and so I introduce myself to the man; he looms over me in height once I’m off my horse. Instantly relieved he sets about showing me where the theft occurred, answers all of my questions and then takes his leave so that I may move about the property unrestricted.  I am actually amazed at the amount of trust placed within me, a stranger wearing Bahamut’s symbol and nothing else to recommend her.  I admit it puffed me with pride for a moment or two that I could be that person; be working towards a goal greater then myself.

The item stolen was a small hand mirror, bejeweled and long in the family.  I look around the area is was sitting before going missing and note that the window is open and there are tiny, barely visible claw marks along the top of the dresser.  I admit to being quite perplexed, because from what I know, ghosts do not need to be “let in” and nor do they leave visible evidence of their passing.  It’s all quite intriguing, but in the end, I believe I have made no headway in the case and take my leave.  Amazingly as Steel and I turn towards the road I catch a glimpse of color on the wind. After a blink it is gone, but I am fairly sure that I just saw a scarf…fly… by…

Eyebrows raised I kick Steel into action and chase after the scrap of cloth as it disappears into the woods nearby.  Just as I am about to lose it I spot it again, floating along in a weaving path – ‘this must be the ghost’ I think.  Steel and I chase after it but I lose it amid the brush and tangle of trees.  Not to be easily discouraged I keep looking and eventually spot it, at rest, high in the crook of some branches.  Climbing up there I find, much to my sheer amazement, an assortment of what can only be described as “shiny knickknacks” tucked into a nest of fabrics.  A mirror fitting the exact description given to me but an hour ago rests upon the top of the pile, and I immediately figure what’s going on: someone’s pet raven has escaped and has been pilfering light objects from town.

Figuring that the best thing to do is leave everything as I found it, I head back into town to procure a chicken cage.  After a bit of research I’m given some good advice and set back off into the woods to put it into practice.  Setting the cage up with some wire, I pulled the mirror down from the nest and place it inside.  Then I wait.  And wait… annnnnd wait….  Not long after the moon raises full into the sky I sense some commotion up in the tree above and hear some odd squawking noises.  Whatever is up there has surely noticed the mirror is missing, though it doesn’t take long for the creature to notice as moon glints from the object.  It zooms down, lands by the cage and prances right in to retrieve the mirror.  Ah-ha!  I pull the string, slam the door and tie it to keep tension before rushing over.  What I find is downright perplexing. 

Not a bird at all, the small thing is making a big ruckus in the cage and flapping all about.  It seems to be some sort of bat with arms and legs and claws, but as it settles down a little I notice a horn. Squinting I peer at it and it peers back; I’m at an impasse…what on earth did I just catch?!  Deciding to figure it out later I ransack its nest, pull down all the cloth and the trinkets, stuff everything into a saddle bag and grab the cage.  Riding to town is fairly quiet, and the creature seems content to clutch the mirror in sullen silence.  By the time I make it back to town, settle Steel and get to my room I am so exhausted I fall to sleep with a prayer upon my lips and a holy symbol in my hands.

5am comes early today and as the door is knocked upon I am quick to call out that I’m up – no need for the Inn staff to have a look at my newest acquisition. Speaking of, the creature is awake and watching me with suspicion.  I can’t blame it, though I can try to figure out what “it” is.  I watch it, and it watches me, each trying to figure something out about the other.  It dawns on me that I have heard of something that fits this creature’s description, called a Huitzil.  It’s basically some type of dragon hybrid cross with a bird or a bat, and they are known to be harmless but avid in their love of shiny objects.  Bingo!

The Huitzil is not pleased to be in a cage and I cannot really blame him.  From what I’ve heard he had the run (or wing as it may be) of this town for several months as the Kadith Curse.  I leave to find him some food now that the market is open, and he glares at me from a soiled cage. One thing at a time little dragon friend!  After procuring several fruits I open the cage and offer it an apple.  Snatching it he zooms out of the cage, perching on my bed to watch me warily and eat.  I ignore him as best I can to look non-threatening and clean up the soiled bedding left in the cage.  Placing new stuff I try to tempt him back into the cage with a silver coin; he foils me by grabbing it from the side.  I try again with a gold coin, hiding it in the bedding – he retrieves that as well without going into the cage.

At that point I was rather frustrated and not knowing anything else to do, figure perhaps Bahamut’s visage might help. He is a type of dragon creature, so what could it hurt? Summoning my power I can sense my tattoo growing warm and outlining in shimmering silver color.  Completely forgetting the other fruit and his coins, the Huitzil inches his way to me, climbs onto my arm, hop-skips up, and begins….licking…my face.  Right on the tattoo – slurping and nuzzling me.  Well… at least he has stopped making odd noises and seems content.  I easily place him back in the cage, hand him more fruit and cover it with my cloak.

My next stop puts me and my saddlebags full of precious items and trinkets at the Magistrate’s Office where I explain the situation and offload the stolen items to be returned.  Figuring it best to return the mirror in person I head that way and am greeted almost like family, the gratitude is almost overwhelming.  I assure them that the situation has been handled, that the Kadith Curse was no more than a curious creature in love with shiny things, and am on my way to the Knights outpost.

My excitement mounts as I ride towards the outpost, sealed letter carefully tucked into my pouch.  I announce myself, am given an appointment and then spend the rest of the day finishing up some shopping and resupplying.  I dropped more fruit off for the Huitzel, but it seems to be sleeping the day away, clutching gold and silver pieces like favored teddy bears.  I kind of like the little guy, and it seems to me that perhaps Bahamut sent him to be a test upon my skills and patience. Perhaps I can convince him to stay with me as a sort of pet while I am in town, as I really do not know what else to do with him. He clearly cannot be released anywhere near other towns and I get the feeling that he really wouldn’t survive very far from the relative shelter and safety of civilization; he’s is quite young.

Eventually my time to visit the Knights has arrived, and after straitening myself up I head on in.  I am greeted by Lieutenant Abrims, a no-nonsense kind of Knight.  Presenting my letter I stand at attention, waiting as he reads.  After offering me a seat he asks me to please tell him what I had been up to in town and any previous experiences.  I really don’t know what he’s looking for in terms of experience, so I run down the general list of things that I had been doing or taken part in. And then, just like that he is standing and shaking my hand and telling me congratulations, I am now officially entering the Knights as an initiate!

I did it!  I mean, I really did it!  I keep my composure of course, but inside I am fairly bursting with happiness.  My next mission begins in two days and the Lieutenant tells me where I can go to get a uniform. I think he could have asked me to flap my arms and fly to the moon, and I could have powered my whole way there with exaltation. I can only pray that someday Chiron can share in this with me, as it was his dream also.  Unfortunately there has been no word from Celebraan in regards to his rescue, though I am told that in two days I will be embarking upon a mission that is relevant to it.  Right now it is enough, it must be enough. My search for answers, for clues, for anything… continues.

 I think I am the only person in the world who actually wants to go to Hell.

It is hard to beat a person who never gives up.

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Pentagram Anyone?

In the words of Phi; a journal entry…

            Today I begin the day at 5 am, a time of pre-dawn mist and grey fuzzy chill.  Jacob and Henry are with me for this new regimen, something the Knights taught me to keep myself fit and able to be in top fighting shape.  The two have agreed to go running with me for no less than one hour. It is hard, grueling work; our gear must weigh an extra 50 pounds as we push ourselves that last few miles.  We walk, we jog, we run… but we never stop moving.  By the time we make it back to our rooms I feel I will collapse; my breath is short, my face red — the world spins.

            Then, just like that, the world is no longer spinning; I’ve had a bath, cleaned my armor and made preparations for the day.  This is the way of the Knights, to be prepared; always able to engage in combat at their finest. To say that keeping up with Jacob and Henry, wearing armor and carrying gear, was a heroic effort is to downplay the significance of my determination. I need… a lot… of practice. 

            5 am is our new way of life and though they grumbled, after three days of this we begin to see an improvement.  We are no longer staying up all night or partying endlessly; I have a simple meal with water and they’re following suit.  Perhaps it is to humor me, but three days is not so long and already Henry has been losing the sluggish reflexes, dropping the extra weight his leisure has leant. 

            Two more days of our 5am runs and we are seeing further results. I am encouraged now that I can keep pace with the two of them, even while singing marching songs and carrying everything I own.  We were taking this all for granted I think, jibing each other and testing our resolve.  But the proof is in the pudding as they say and they no longer complain about the early mornings; none of us do.

A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.

            Once I have recuperated from my crazy time in Celebraan and the insane method of my arrival, I am feeling hale and hearty.  I was asked to further explore the caves above and around the Temple to see what other information can be gathered.  Due to the time-sensitive nature of their mission the Knights tasked me with this before they left.  I am just now coming to realize how very lucky I am to have made it to the Silver City at all — travels usually take no less than 10 days.  How I ever managed to make it in three is beyond me, but I thank Bahamut for His blessing; my horses had swift hooves, my resolve did not waver, and stamina was in abundance.

            Jacob, Henry and I see ourselves as grand upon the plow horses we have borrowed from the farmers; their plodding hooves still faster than our booted feet.  We make our way into the forest, somber and watchful now that we’re back on duty.  Make no mistake either, for my companions and I know now that things have changed; gone is the light hearted laughter and jesting, we’re walking back into the very heart of sheer evil. The thought alone sickens me but I steel my resolve and press onwards.

            We make it to the cave location nearing dusk and decide it is better to make camp then venture into the caves.  Jacob moves off to find us some dinner while Henry and I set up; grooming the horses is my job, lighting the fire his.  I have been learning these things from them, things to do in the forest.  Like how to move and avoid breaking branches, avoid crackling leaves, see a trail, follow footprints.  I’m horrible at it, I will not lie! They can run circles around me before I even figure out where they may have gone and get me every time. It’s a game to us “Eye Spy the Phi.”

            That night is remarkably smooth and we spend it discussing my new interest in team tactics and learning how to work as a unit.  After the results seen from our running experiment, they are both more than willing to try it.  We pass the evening without incident.

            I wish I could say the same for the next day, for as we break camp at 5 am and get together our equipment for our run, we had no idea what lay ahead.  It took us many hours of diligent searching to find the caves the Knights assured me existed here.  One of my companions even found the draconic tracks from the team’s presence a week past.  To say he freaked out is a bit of an understatement, because to be sure, the claw marks alone were furrows into which I could farm wheat.

            It took all my resolve not to break down and tell them what had happened, that the strike team of Knights had landed here and been before us.  I so badly wanted to explain all of what I had seen and done while with the Knights, but have been expressly forbidden from doing so! It weighs upon me, this shallow deceit.  I have the feeling that there will be many things just of this nature that the Knights will wish kept away from general knowledge, so I must simply learn to live with it.

            After several hours of searching we found two caves roughly parallel from one another along a straight horizontal axis.  I thought it seemed a bit strange and the positions nagged at me for some reason.  Thinking about it as we went I was not as diligent as I should have been, and when a dog-sized spider leapt upon me I fear I may have shrieked.  But just a small shriek, and just enough of one to give me an extra burst of power to pulverize the nasty thing. Maces make good bug killing tools, let me tell you.  This turns out to be a good thing because we were attacked several more times by the eight legged freaks.  Henry especially hates animals and bugs now.  The guy really has gotten bitten, mauled, clawed, and flattened by many a creature lately.  I find his hatred a bit comical, but I’d never admit that to him.  Every time we’re attacked he shouts “I HATE ANIMALS!” and charges in. I think it’s good for him really…

            This whole spider hatred experiment went on for about an hour as the things dropped upon us, leapt upon us, or tried to stick us to their webs.  I am happy to say that I no longer fear them, not even the man-sized one who did its best to have me for lunch. A mace to the face provides all the answer I needed to that! We eventually made it through the sticky situation to walk into what seemed a store room of sorts.  Not much was here, though we did gain a bit of financial windfall from a small hidden crate.  I think I’ll pay someone else to get rid of the green spider goo plastered all over my armor… hmm….

            A few documents seemed to indicate that the room had not been used in a while and we stored those away for future reference.  Deciding we had time to find one more cave today we walked back to the entrance, wary of eight-legged missile projections from any angle; none came.  Right as we were about to break back into daylight, Jacob signaled for silence and then ducked back into the cave.  Having not stepped out yet I signaled for him to tell me what he had seen.  Holding up 4 fingers he then pointed to himself and then above. I pointed to my armor and he nodded, tapped my shield, then my weapon and his bow.  Large, armored, carrying weapons and ranged; I sensed a fight.  

            Outlining a plan to put myself and Henry together just inside the door with Jacob behind, we readied ourselves.  Counting down to three with fingers upraised Henry and I stepped forward, my armor and shield a bright beacon to see.  See they did, these creatures I now recognized as Orcs.  Immediate reaction was for them to reach for weapons, but we were ready and Jacob had his arrow loose before the Orc even had finished pulling free its sword.  One dropped and the other charged.

            I signaled to fall back into the cave farther, taking away their ranged support as the lone creature barreled up the hill to close with us.  Setting ourselves for the charge I timed his arrival and put the full force of my body and armor into the swing that would ultimately smash the creature’s skull in.  Dazed by the force of the blow the Orc was easy prey for Henry to finish.  Behind us Jacob drew on the secondary wave that had followed slower and exchanged a volley with them.  Henry took an arrow to the shoulder, falling back behind me as we had planned; Jacob avoiding the other.

            Charging, shield up, I slammed into the last two Orcs and was rewarded with a direct hit to one; its ribs shattering under my onslaught.  The other got a free swing on me and did its best to swat me aside but I am not so easily deterred once I have some momentum.  Now that one of the archers was down Jacob shot at the other but his aim was off, likely because he was trying not to hit me in the fray.  With one arm all but numb Henry took a chance at throwing his axe at the unwounded Orc and was rewarded with a yelp of pain as steel bit flesh.  The last Orc was as good as dead by this point, for my next swing, feeding off the reversal of momentum on the first, took him right in the face and slammed him against the far wall – he slid down it and did not move.

            I admit that I felt a thrill at removing these dangerous, evil creatures from the world.  I know of how they spread their hatred and violence, visiting it upon unsuspecting people of gentle nature.  The blood sprayed across my shield and the vigor in my veins all speaks testament to a deed well done.  Returning to my companions I braced Henry and removed the arrow from his arm as gently as I could; his curses could have turned my hair white!  Afterwards I blessed him with Bahamut’s power to close his wounds and bound his arm for comfort.  We decided that the night was best spent behind a closed door here in this cave now that we knew Orcs were in the area.  I am glad to report that nothing dared bother us.

            The next day dawned bright and early for us because during the night, on my watch, I discovered what had been nagging at me about the caves.  They seemed to be forming a pattern I knew well, and detest: the pentagram.  Tiamat’s symbolic 5 heads, pointed into an inverted five-pointed star pattern. I knew where the next caves would be. 

            I was correct in my deductions and we found the next caves with relative ease now that we knew where to look.  More spiders tried to snag us in one, but our previous experiences made it almost comical; Arachnid Assassins turned into Bug Bash.  They didn’t even really concern us at this point; we just expected them and started swinging when they showed up.  In this manner we cleared the cave quite quickly, found what we were looking for, took our notes and were ready to move on. It turns out this cave was being used for a source of water due to the small underground stream that fed into it.  Henry was almost eaten by some sort of water snake, but we managed to pry it off; he really does hate animals…

That makes four caves that have been discovered: the main Temple, the library I cleared with the Knights, a store room, and this water source. We’re missing one more and decide to look for it today so we can start on our way home at first light.  The last cave did not contain spiders, but it did contain what seemed to be living quarters for the higher ranking priests.  Since there were beds we camped the night, stood watch, and were not bothered.  In the morning we set up to return to Bettenshire.

Returning to civilization felt good and after setting my stuff down, showering, cleaning my armor and maintaining my weapon, I have time to reflect on what we’ve done so far.  Jacob and Henry are good companions to have along when there is a fight.  They are both willing to work hard and are eager to learn new tactics if it means we survive that much easier.  We work well as a team and I am glad to have their support.  I feel as though I am genuinely able to make use of the knowledge I gained while with the Knight’s strike team and we are quite fluidly incorporating it into our missions. This time out there were minimal wounds to heal, fewer prayers to be said, only a few bandages to be tied.

Be an example to your men, tactful and well-mannered in your duty and in private life.
 

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Leopards, wolves and bears... OH MY!

In the words of Orin

There are a lot of nice things one could say about Kadith. It sits upon the beautiful Rose Mist lake, has a good economy, clean streets, happy people and plenty of parking. Let me tell you though, when it has trouble, it has trouble!

While checking the town’s “Quest Board” as I like to call it, we discovered that the Magistrates 9 year old daughter had been abducted by an ogre. Howl and I were immediately on the case, and with the help of our friends and their wolf, began tracking her scent. Deep into the forest we went, and ran into every predator out there. I was almost killed by a leopard and Howl was almost done in by the biggest bear I had ever seen. Then there was the snake. Ye gods, it was big enough to eat a hog and it almost got Ria! Fucking snakes.

Once we discovered the ogre’s camp, defeating it and rescuing the girl proved easier than anticipated. It was getting back to town that was the challenge since the denizens of the forest were still intent on making a meal of us. Exhausted we made camp, but were attacked in the night by a pack of wolves. This seemed to be the straw that broke Howl’s back. He summoned magical mounts for us and insisted we ride hard through the night back to Kadith. We did so, and made it back to town shortly after sunrise the following day.

The magistrate was overjoyed to be reunited with his little girl and wished to reward us at a celebration to be held that night in our honor. What a party!! We were the toast of the town. Real heroes! The magistrate rewarded us with property in the town and riches of course, but my rogue sense was tingling. Howl was hanging out with his girlfriend, Clarissa, and it was then I realized that Heidi wasn’t around. I asked around but no one knew where she was. It wasn’t until I got back to my room at the inn that I discovered what became of her.

A bloodied ransom note was left at my door from the Black Hands, the crime syndicate. Fuck. “Give yourself over to us or we kill the girl.” was the gist of it. I got on my gear, checked the room, turned out the lights and waited. Nothing happened. When Howl made it back I showed him the note.
“You know this is a trap?” he asked. “Of course it’s a trap! The question is who set it?” I replied. It was decided our best course of action was for me to accept the invitation and waltz in like I owned the place. I would keep them busy talking while Howl and the rest of our group sneaked in and defeated them while there guard was dropped. It was risky as hell, and I wasn’t convinced that Heidi wasn’t a Black Hands member herself.

Howl and the others were to wait 10 minutes after I go in. I had secreted a dagger, thieves’ tools and my sling on me, openly wore my sword and half-ass concealed my kukri. Howl had my bow and arrows. I marched up to the warehouse and was rudely greeted by a couple of guards. They escorted me though a series of rooms to where I met the leader of the Black Hands in Kadith, Alton Kedlock. Heidi was held in a cage in the corner. It wasn’t until then they took my sword and checked for weapons, finding my kukri. I had a seat and began my verbal duel with Alton.

Meanwhile, Howl tried to look through the windows of the building to discern my location until they finally found a door into the room I was at. By that time, I was in the cage with Heidi, who seemed legitimately scared to death. Howl and the others busted in and started to take out the guards, it wasn’t long though before reinforcements arrived and it was pretty dire for a while. Eventually we defeated Alton and hunted down a couple of thugs who tried to run for it.

During my discussion with Alton, it was revealed that a lot of the town watch and people in power in Kadith were on the take, except for the Magistrate it seemed. Magistrate Tom had been a thorn in the syndicate’s side from the get go. There were still Black Hands members in the town and I had no idea who or how many. We visited the magistrate in the morning and I asked him about the Black Hands. He admitted he knew about them and was extremely happy to learn that we had struck them a deadly blow. He even agreed to give Heidi a job in his office to help keep her safe.

Our next mission was to destroy a band of hobgoblins raiding convoys along the main road. Thanks again to Howl’s sleepy time spell we defeated a large band of goblins with no trouble. He is getting very talented at his spell casting and is learning all kinds of new ones. A couple that caused weakness he used on an ogre that was assisting the hobgoblins. Then kept it busy chasing him in circles around the camp while we finished off the goblins. Hahahah, Rule 1: Cardio! Another tough fight, but we came out stronger for it!

Afterwards, when we returned to the Silver Scale camp, the lieutenant had some BAD news for us. The beautiful Sgt. Tazia turned out to be not only a spy but The Black herself. I can’t say I was surprised. I make it a point never to fully trust intelligence operatives, especially pretty ones. Lt. Abbrams let us know that we were going to meet some other adventures that had been aiding the Silver Scale and had news of The Green and The White. This was followed by news that Ria an Thannock were returning to their homeland. It will be interesting to see what these new adventurers will bring to the table.

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Everything's Coming up Orcs.

Journal of Cor Chalybus,

Day 31 from start of adventure: We arrive in the town nearest to the big Orc camp. We get settled in and ready to go after them over the next few days.

Day 32: We manage to find the Orcs out on patrol with ease. Just as easily as they manage to find us. Through the ensuing bloody fights we kill 16 of their soldiers in groups of 4, 4, and 8. From what we suspect, there are only 12 left in the big camp.

Day 33: I know fear. We all should have died today. We found the camp with ease and we tried to be clever in how we attacked. It did not work. A long, drawn-out, and viciously bloody fight ensued between us and the remaining 12 Orcs. Among them were 3 Orcs of above average strength, and an Ogre. I thank St. Cuthbert for seeing fit that my companions and I survive and win the day. He only knows what chaos these Orcs would have wrought had we not stopped them. We stay the night at the camp to lick our wounds and deconstruct its presence. We slowly burn down the camp and the smoke somehow attracts more giant goddamn bees. I had always thought that smoke put bees to sleep. We manage to kill the bees, which I strongly believe the universe would have sent after us no matter if we had left the camp or not. I take time to bury the remains of some humanoids that ogre used to adorn his tent. The savage, I feel no pity for beings like it, and I prey the cudgel will bring them justice.

Day 34: I feel stronger already, St. Cuthbert has granted me further strength and more power on which to draw in his name. The nearby town is thrilled to be told that the Orcs are taken care of. I decide not to tell them that we found evidence of an Orc fort in the southeastern part of the woods. Why should we further concern them when Darren, Anri, Marin, and I will abolish the threat? There was further concerning word in the note we found though. An individual who identified as “The Green” was giving orders to the Orcs to wipe out civilian population in the woods for an individual identified as “The White”. At the time the note was written the Green appeared to be in the frigid north negotiating with the White. Given the Tiamat/Gruumsh symbol, I suspect dragons or at least individuals of draconic descent.

Day 37: We make out way to the Orc fort and after a few hours manage to wipe out all of the inhabitants. We met some hardship along the way, namely a strange construct with a pincher arm and a hammer arm. But with clever tactics we were able to take out the fort with minimal heartbreak. There were more humanoid remains in this place, we took the time to bury them and say a prayer. I do so hate Orcs, these people all appeared to have met terrible ends. I only wish I could have brought the Orcs more terrible ends. But the Cudgel must be swift. We must be just, not vengeful. The construct was apparently a gift for the Green from another called “The Blue” which we discovered after reading a note in the room with the construct. From the Orc leader in the fort we found another note this time naming the Green as Xin. In the note Xin mentioned having successfully recruited the White and that they were headed through the teleportation circle in Gerrard’s Landing to meet with “the Red.” My suspicions about dragons are all but confirmed at this point.

Day 67: We get back to An-Havva to talk to officials about our findings.

Day 68: We work with an individual named Gerome from the magistrate’s office in order to identify that a Xin Venomthorn and a Cambria Wintersdaughter passed through An-Havva to Gerrard’s Landing and then after four hours, through Gerrard’s Landing to Celebron on Airini. I was surprised that Gerome correctly identified me as having come from Kahndaq. Few of us venture out in to the world, so knowing what we look like is rare.

Day 69: We meet with the Knights of the Silver Scale to plan our next move. This business with the dragons is most grim.

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A Chromatic Conspiracy?

In the words of Orin…

“All Hail the Mighty Stew, leader of the Redclaw kobald tribe, slayer of Nixxit the stupid, wielder of the Staff of Glowy Power and Ally of Orin Lightstep!!” the voices of kobalds rang out. Stew, the goofy little kobald we’ve been dragging around as a guide this whole time, is now leader, we killed the wicked Chieftain Nixxit and rescued the guide, Ben. We aren’t expecting any trouble from the Redclaws for a while but what we uncovered in the kobald caves was unsettling.

For one, a well kept shrine to Tiamet, that 5 headed bitch of a dragon and correspondence between Nixxit and someone referred to only as The Black. The Black it seemed had a fort in the hills for training kobalds for an army. Stew also described a visitor of Nixxit’s colloquially know as The Angry Lady. A lovely, human woman with long, black hair and dressed as an assassin or rogue, who she really is remains a mystery to us.

We returned to town heroes and were duly rewarded, and what rewards!! I’ve never had so much legit money in my life! Even Howl said, “Screw a master’s and teaching, this is the life!” Before we could celebrate, we were asked ,by the figgin Magistrate no less, to visit the Knight’s of the Silver Scale encampment just outside of town. We met Lt. Kevin Abbrams and the mysterious and beautiful Sgt. Tazia. As we shared information it became clear that not only was there someone calling themselves The Black but also The Red and Tempest The Blue. A Chromatic Conspiracy Chaos! Hahah! WE also devised a plan for us to take out the kobald’s fort and collect information about it. But before doing that, it was party time! We hit the town, were seen in the most exclusive venues and had a great time. I also bought some new armor. It’s pretty bitchin’.

The following day we headed for the fort. Howl had come up with an amazing plan, to cast a spell that creates an obscuring mist so I can get in unnoticed and open the gate for our friends. Howl and I swam up the river like lame beavers to under the bridge by the gate. Once he cast the mist spell, it was all over for the kobalds within. It was a tough fight and we had some close calls! In the end though we were victorious! WE collected a map of cave entrances on the north shore and found more orders from The Black. Then we torched that bitch and rode back to town.

We received praise for a job well done and Sgt. Tazia plans to gather intelligence regarding our map of the North Shore. Later, while talking to Mike Nagle, he told me about some affluent people who meet up at The Digg on Tuesday nights. Said that they were relatively newcomers to Kadith, mysterious and thew money around like it was nothing. Oh really, says I. So Howl and I headed down to see what was up.

My girl Heidi works at The Digg, so we asked her if she knew anything about these guys. She said that they had been coming in for a while but just recently approached the owner insisting that he start paying them money to keep his place “safe”. That they look pretty tough and even though the owner hasn’t paid them, they are wondered what they should do. Heidi revealed to us the location of these guys, down by the docks (what a surprise), and asked if she should be worried. I suggested she not worry her pretty head and just be herself when their around. Also don’t tell ANYONE what you just told us. Once she left our table, Howl corrected assessed the situation: a protection racket. People could defiantly get hurt over this or worse. We headed down to the docks that night to investigate.

It was in an older, mostly abandoned area of warehouses that we found what we were looking for, the hideout for their boss, a guy called Tyler Van Something. Howl is a helpful guy to have around but unfortunately, he couldn’t sneak into the building with Tyler. I’d have to go alone. So he hid in a nearby ally while I did my stuff. The lock on the door was fine, and it took all my skill to pick it but once in I could hear the conversation taking place. Tyler wanted someone dead. Tonight. Who ever she was, he thought she was out to set him up. He order three of his men to get rid of her NOW. I hid in the shadows as the men came down stairs to leave the building. I noticed the palm of their hands had been tattooed black, definitely a syndicate mark. I was ready to follow them until I heard Tyler getting ready for sleep. I bided my time.

Meanwhile, Howl was still outside hiding in an alley when the three men, discussing their murderous intentions, pass by. Howl over hearing them, wasn’t about to stand by and let some thugs kill a woman. He cast a sleep spell which knocked out 2/3 of them. The remaining guy ran back to Tyler’s. I wasn’t too happy that this guy came back. I could hear him fumbling with the lock and if he came in, it would ruin my chance to kill Tyler. He opened the door only to get an arrow in each eye. Howl took care of the other two killers and rolled their bodies into the lake. Time went by and when I was sure Tyler was asleep, I crept up and put an arrow threw his head. Howl showed back up and helped me get rid of the bodies. I didn’t want to leave any trace of violence, only a mysterious vanishing. If the syndicate knew what had happened they may retaliate on the townsfolk. We wrapped up the bodied and sank them under the docks in the lake. Some underwater beasties will eat well tonight!

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The Trouble with Tri- Orcs.

The journal of Cor Chalybus,

Day 1. I arrive in the small town of Northbrook with my new companion Marin. We inquire at the Sheriff’s office about the problems the area has been having with Orcs. It turns out two other people have come through here looking to also help with the problem. Marin and I went down to a nearby creek to fish. Saw teenage couple on our way back. May have been eaten by a giant spider. We then meet up with two elves in the local tavern, one is a woodsy type and the other was dressed in some nice robes. They agree to join forces with us to get rid of the orcs.

Day 2. My god. Bees. We killed two small Orc patrols. Found a map to their place.

Day 3. We set a clever ambush. Killed all Orcs in first camp. Turns out the stereotypes were true about Orcs being sleepy all the time. They quickly fell victim to the female elf’s sleep spell. Marin only almost died. Pretty sure it was a merciful act from the universe that kept her with us long enough for me to close some of her wounds. No bees today. Or bee, as it were. Found map to other Orc camps in the area.

Day 4. Report back to Northbrook. They are happy but the job is not done yet. Seemed to have little concern for danger the other towns remained in.

Day 7. Find second Orc camp. Half of second Orc camp finds us. Our woodsy elf is not as subtle as I might have liked. We kill all the Orcs in the camp. Marin almost died again, a cleric’s work is never done. Brash young girl, but potent in a fight. Unless she is surrounded by three Orcs.

Day 8. I already feel stronger for this short week of experience. Second town is grateful, offer to put us up for as long as we need. We wait three weeks while my knew armor is fitted. I feel as though the Plate Mail windfall makes me more wealthy than I should be.

Day 28. We set out for the last Orc camp. It is bigger than the last two, but hopefully with its eradication the people in these woods will be able to live in peace again.

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