Taris

If they didn't want to live in the Rafters they shouldn't have been poor.
Trickle down theory, my ass.

Brotus’ Journal: I finally bankrolled a couple of people to begin to fix up the rafters. I dumped enough money on them that they had to take up the chance. They’ll be able to put money into the district which will help vitalize the area so people won’t have to rely on crime. Unless one person decides that they just want to horde the money so they can move out of the Rafters… Shit. As well intentioned as I may have been I see that there may have been some flaws in my plan. Plus with looming war between the Mongrels and Riptide my timing may be off. But I can’t just let the residents suffer…

I am lost. I started on a path of vengeance against the filth in the Rafters but my crusade only got them riled up and set on the warpath. Am I doing good? What is good? Is it enough? How to I find peace? Is peace a lie? How can people be free? Must I shatter their chains, and my own, through victory and strength? Or can I achieve serenity, knowledge, peace, and harmony? What connects us all? I must become attuned to some…force of life to find these answers. Do I borrow from darkness to consume the darkness? Or do I borrow from light and wash the darkness away?

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An uncertain fate
At least with a bag over your head, you don't accidentally flinch before they punch you...

Heinrich slowly came to with a raspy and labored breath. He struggled to open his eyes, but the bruising forced them mostly shut. Through the faintest glimpses he could manage, he became vaguely aware of a dark and heavy bag placed over his head. In a way it was a blessing, he thought, permitting his eyes to close and rest, no longer struggling against the painful swelling that prevented him from looking about. Nothing to see anyway, might as well not even bother. The air inside the bag was warm and damp, humid and gross. It smelled like dried blood, which Heinrich was pretty sure was his own. As his senses slowly came to him, his head began to throb with a vicious, piercing headache. His lips felt cracked and split, dried and rough. His throat was similarly parched, and the sides of his mouth stung every time he tried to open it. How long had he been here? He was a mess.

He begrudgingly attempted to move, to gently shift his weight against sore and cramped muscles, but found himself bound fast to a chair. Adjusting his posture as best he could, he felt blood rushing back to his legs, as the sting of pins and needles assailed him in protest. His shoulders seized up, sending a violent cramp rocketing down his arms and back, painfully clenching at him and refusing to loosen. The awkward strain teetered him in his chair, as he began to list, and then freefall. The chair tipped to the left, crashing down with Heinrich still helplessly bound to it, one of the feeble wooden legs audibly snapping and clattering across the stone floor. The rock felt cool against his face, and was a momentary soothing reprieve in an otherwise overwhelmingly painful existence. He resigned himself to his new position, and tried to remember how he’d gotten into this mess in the first place. His thoughts were blurry, and it was a struggle just to try to think past the oppressive headache that constantly assailed him. He let out a feeble breath and tried to focus, but his attention was quickly drawn to to sounds of jingling keys and approaching footsteps. As the noises neared they paused for a moment, giving way to a condescending voice.

“Ah, good. He’s awake…”

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A Night in the Shrine

A small puff of warm air escaped Bel’yth’s lungs before being swept away by a cold breeze as she turned the last corner to her small, secret retreat – an abandoned shrine to the five moons of Taris. She paused a moment, mentally preparing herself to have a long night, before pushing aside the unhinged door that lay against the entrance.

And so she went about most of her usual routine: replacing the old flowering weeds on the altar with some fresh weeds, brushing away some of the new cobwebs, checking on the mouse infestation, etc. She did smile to herself as she pulled out the candles she had liberated from the goblins’ altar. The candles she had originally found here had long since been burned, and candles were important for shrines, right?

After lighting the candles, Bel’yth pulled her cloak tighter around herself as she sat and flipped through the old journal she kept on her person. Staring at the mysterious scrawl on the pages frustrated her to no end. She thought she would have found someone in the city who could read whatever this was by now. What languages had she not tried yet? Maybe she should have kept a list of the ones she’d tried.

A few short minutes later, Bel’yth ran out of patience and put the journal away angrily. “This is pointless,” she complained to no one in particular. Then she slowly lifted her head to the open ceiling to look at the starry sky. “I don’t like you,” she suddenly declared to the sky as she crossed her arms.

When a bolt of lightning didn’t come down from the heavens to strike her, she continued. “I don’t like whatever this is that you have me involved with. What exactly is this?” She pulled a hand out of the warmth of her cloak and stared at it as she opened and closed her fist slowly.

“This magic… this is only stuff a paladin can get. Only the stuff that’s given by the ‘gods…’ I never asked for this. It’s great, but I don’t know what you want from me! You need to get a whole lot clearer before I sign up for any kind of this ‘oath’ stuff ‘cause I don’t like owing anyone anything. And I don’t like people I owe.”

She let out one last angry puff of breath before sighing and laying down on the cot in the corner. So much for being pious. Maybe tomorrow night…

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When Plan B and Plan A are the same plan.
Perhaps strict militancy is not the most efficient method.

Brotis’ Journal:

Recently conducted a…“successful” raid on a Mongrel safe house. Where normally I would never have done such a thing I found people willing to…“assist” me. A friend of mine is in trouble and the Mongrels had something to do with it. I convinced his other friends to come with me to storm one of the Mongrel bases in order to help. But I miscalculated. I…might not be good with making a plan. Where I am used to the cut-throat brutality of the rafters and the scum which resides there it seems that not everyone is. I’ve seen death before, and I’ve killed before. Mongrels are barely even people to me. But because of my…haste…I have caused there to be blood on the hands of people who weren’t ready.

They did not want to kill and now they cannot go back to how they were before. The college boy is obviously stressed. And I’m not sure if Anzu did drugs before but he sure didn’t hesitate to dip into the stash we…“liberated.” I am so used to operating on my own that I thought the team I was involved in would operate the same way. I think they deserve an apology from me for almost getting them all killed. And gratitude that I was not killed myself for my…insistence on kicking the door in. I fear I have put us all at greater risk for what we have done. Not to mention that their…unwillingness to spill blood wound up leaving a member of the Mongrels who can identify a non-zero number of us. I know they want me dead but now they want Anzu dead and probably at least Bel in addition. If they are killed then the blood is on my hands… I have failed to save innocents before but I have never been responsible for getting them killed. Perhaps this is what they feel in response for my vicious slaying of that…well Mongrel is an apt name for their gang.

We were obviously inexperienced and we may not yet even know the full cost of that. I certainly despise having done a favor for that druid. The underworld is certainly a dark place, it just seems I’ll have to be more precise when taking it on. Or maybe it is a mistake to involve these people more than I have to. Pagescratch deserves to have his son back, and my new associates deserve to live their lives in accordance with their own values, not mine. …Unless of course those values are of greed, corruption, and conquest. But they all seem alright for now.

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A courtly matter
Business in high society

The rattling clatter of wooden wagon wheels and the clomping hoofsteps that pulled them served well to drown out the muffled conversation that stirred within the coach. The driver, blissfully unaware of the discourse between his three elegantly dressed passengers, continued on his way to the gala at the Castle District estate that his fare had requested. Upon entering, the ladies had drawn the curtains closed over the shuttered windows. The driver didn’t seem to mind, as the evenings were unseasonably chilly this late in the spring. His thoughts turned to retiring for the night following his next fare, as he was eager to get back to his hearth.

Within the coach, the woman in a lavish blue gown glanced herself up and down in her pocket mirror before deftly snapping it closed with a sharp click, and returning it to her clutch purse. “So, one last time, are we clear?” she asked, surveying the other two ladies with her, extending a finger to wipe some errant lipstick from one of their faces. She looked down disapprovingly at it as she smudged it between her fingertips before wiping it away on the bench seat beside her. “Well?” She asked again, her tone more insistent. “Yes, mistress.” The two replied politely in near unison. The younger, dark haired girl in a silvery dress shifted uncomfortably as she recounted her duties. “So, I am to catch the eye of the Duke’s son. Then, I must make sure he’s quite drunk before allowing him to take me upstairs.” The girl next to her continued, “And I am to slip away and disappear, and change into the house maid attire you’ll hide for me out back. Then, I gain the favor of the serving boy Dylon, the one who drinks and gets into bar fights. I lead him off and share this drugged flask with him”, she says, revealing a small leather bound vessel from her purse. “Before he passes out, I convince him to take me upstairs because I just must see the rest of the estate. Then, I bring him to the Duke’s son’s room…” and the dark haired girl finishes, “…and we kill the son, and plant the weapon on the drunk after clubbing him with a vase, or something.”

“Or something!?” The matron interjects with a scornful look. “I expect better than ‘or something’ from you. We’re professionals. And professionals have plans. If you want to improvise, join a theatre troupe. This has to go exactly as planned. You have to slip out that window and change back into your dress and find a way back into that party before she screams out that the Duke’s son has been killed. We’re being paid to make this look like an accident. Our employer doesn’t want any suspicions to be raised.” At this, the coach ground to a halt just outside the gates of the estate. As the coachman dismounted and moved to open the door, the matron took one last look at the girls and sweetly said, “And don’t forget to smile.”

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The view from up here
Muggers in The Rafters

“You can see almost everything from up ’ere.” the scraggly dark haired man said. He sniffed in protest of his nose running from the cold, and reached up to rub it with the corner of his ratty sleeve before pulling his hood back down over his forehead. He glanced to the side, catching the eyes of his younger associate, before nodding his head in a gesture towards the streets below. “Ain’t nothin’ goin’ on down there that you canna see. It’s the best way ta figure out who ta work on.” His associate nodded in agreement, leaning forward over the creaky ledge of the abandoned rooftop that the pair had picked as their perch. “You mean like that one there?” he inquired, stretching his arm out into the chilly night air as he pointed towards a lone figure moving through the streets below.

The older man cracked a rotten toothed grin as he enthusiastically nudged his associate, nearly staggering him off their precarious loft. “See? You got a knack for this kinda work. Let’s git on it!” The pair clambered down from the building top and made their way across the rooftops, jumping and balancing along the rickety planks and catwalks that spanned the streets and alleys below. “Haha!” he chided gleefully as their quarry continued on their way, “The dumb bugger’s headed right down Keston Alley! Ain’t no one gonna see ’im down there! Good catch boy!” The young mugger eagerly trailed his mentor, his hood blown back revealing loose sandy hair that whipped behind him in the crisp winds that swept along the rooftops. His eyes gleamed in anticipation, accented by an unusually cruel grin that slowly crept across his blue stained lips the closer they came to the rooftops above Keston Alley. He’d stopped caring some time ago where his coin came from. These days, all that mattered was that he’d have enough to score another dose of Sannish. Besides, he thought to himself, what’s one less mouth to feed? In the end, he was probably doing someone a favor.

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Tara: Rofellos' New Apprentice?
From the journal of Kadaav

I am starting to feel as though we have more on our plate than we can handle of late. Not only have we discovered yet another danger to Writh, but have acquired a new… liability. While visiting East Fork we gained the interest of a young woman named Tara. I have yet to be informed of her surname, if indeed she has one. She worked at the bakery where the 4 of us found room and board. Very helpful and curious, I myself found her intriguing and even allowed myself the pleasure of a short and somewhat awkward conversation with her. As mentioned in a previous entry, I was in a foul state due to being mobbed by curious townsfolk. What really peaked my interest was that she reminded me so much of my friend, KIra. Tara (even their names are similar) even has an affinity for odd hair colors and talking one’s ear off. And here I prayed that Kira was the only one with that ability. I invited her back that evening to show Tara how to make hair dyes but Rofellos had other plans.

Shortly after I retired to my hot bath, she visited Rofellos and asked him to teach her magic, which of course, Rofellos immediately agreed upon. And, OH, what a clandestine affair it was! How brazen of a wizard to sneak out in the middle of the night with a human girl of 15 summers into the woods! It certainly wouldn’t be smiled upon by the elves of his ilk. Hahaha, the roguish bastard!

I awoke early the next morning to discover Rofellos’ absence and waited for his return in his room to surprise him. I asked him how it went and he accused me of lacing my words with sexual innuendo. Since I had not done so intentionally, I can only assume that something “touchy feely” went down during Tara’s lesson. Why else would Rofellos be so defensive over an honest question?

As it turns out, Tara has a talent for casting and Rofellos offered to make her his apprentice once our missions were completed. As anyone with a brain could imagine, this did not sit well to a young woman seeking excitement but she begrudgingly agreed.

We departed East Fork shortly after and continued on our Journey to West Fork. Days into our journey, who do we find riding at our backs? Tara of course. Is she terrified into returning home by the horrors she has witnessed so far? Nooooo, she wants to travel with us and learn everything. Luckily, I can not teach her my eldritch arts nor do I intend to share the secret of how to acquire them. Rofellos, despite the problems she will cause for us, has a definite twinkle in his eye. He certainly enjoys having a pupil. Frank seems indifferent to her presence and Ali just sleeps. If she wasn’t obviously an elf I would swear she was a cat.

We shall see how our new companion fares. I have such mixed emotions over her joining us and she has a tendency to enter my personal space. I find it exceedingly uncomfortable but at the same time… exciting? I must remind myself that humans at her age are releasing pheromones relentlessly and I had best shield myself from them. I should probably also warn Rofellos. Maybe.

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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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