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Monday, 27th June, 2005, 11:28 PM #101
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Children of Leviathan - Part 8c: The Caves
Vlad’s world was awhirl with steel and tentacles. Vlad rolled and dove behind a crate as one sword smashed through it. Another forced him to jump clear of its low swing. He blocked a third with his shield, but it connected well enough to drive furrows beneath Vlad’s boot heels in the sand.
One of the tentacles slapped aside the remains of the crate when suddenly it was sliced in half, squirting octopus ichor.
Cal, sans Kham, had transformed into a roaring, hacking ball of rage. His usual webbed earflaps stood straight up in a fan around his head as he set upon the Leviathan with fury. Two tentacles stabbed him in the chest, but he seemed unaware of the wounds. Calactyte set upon the tentacles with his clawed feet, with his teeth, with his claws and even his tail.
The Leviathan was momentarily preoccupied, but judging from the number of wounds Cal was bleeding from, Vlad knew it was only a matter of time before he succumbed.
Vlad was struggling to his feet when he heard a strange hiss behind him.
“Down!” shouted Kham.
There was a concussive BOOM! that rocked the cavern. Something large and heavy whistled past Vlad’s ear and tore through the Leviathan, ripping it off the edge of the cavern’s outcropping. Cal dug into the ground with all four claws as the blast struck the Leviathan, leaving rubbery gibbets of giant octopus all around him.
“What the hell was that?” shouted Vlad.
Kham was on the ground near a blasted crate, covered in soot. His white smile was unmistakable.
“I loaded the cannon before the Dauntless was boarded,” said Kham. “I was hoping to fire it, but they got to us before I could.”
The momentum of the blast had propelled the wheeled cannon backwards, splintering a door behind it.
A terrific cacophony arose from the ceiling above them. The air was filled with a hail of spears as cultists arrived on the balcony to pepper them from above.
Ilmarė poked her head out of the broken doorway. “There’s some kind of portal in here,” shouted Ilmarė. “But we need a key.”
Bijoux bounded from one crate to the next. “I see it!” she said, pointing at the glowing altar.
Vlad ran over to Kham, shield over his head. “Can you fire that thing again?” He pointed at the cultists above them.
“Sure. If you could find someone strong enough to lift a 2,500 pound cannon and aim it.”
Cal picked up a crate and hurled it at the ledge with a roar. The gibbering and spears stopped for a moment.
Kham and Vlad exchanged glances.
“He’ll do,” said Kham.
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Friday, 1st July, 2005, 01:14 PM #102
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Children of Leviathan - Part 8d: The Caves
Bijoux spread her wingflaps and launched herself towards the altar. The air had become a forest of flying spears, such that she had to twist and bend to avoid them. One spear through her wingflaps would ground her.
She landed on the altar and peered in. It was a carved rock altar with a large glass bowl. At the bottom of the bowl was a golden ring with a key mounted on it.
And a snake. Or an eel. Bijoux wasn’t familiar with Onaran wildlife.
Bijoux took a deep breath. She didn’t have time to fool around by fishing around in the bowl and the snakey thing—whatever it was—would certainly bite her. It would take all of her catlike reflexes to snatch it out of the bowl. It would require all her concentration.
“I don’t have time for this,” she muttered. With a swipe of her claws, she shattered the bowl.
The snake flopped around for a moment. Bijoux hesitated, then grabbed the small snake by its tail and dumped it into her leather pouch. If she left the snake where it was, it would surely die.
“Sorry,” she said to the snake. “Hopefully we’ll laugh about this later.”
Vlad shouted from under his shield. “Calactyte, can you lift the cannon?”
The big lizard’s head turned to pinpoint the source of the sound.
“I don’t know if we want his attention,” said Kham. “He looks really pissed.”
“Cal!” shouted Vlad. He pointed at the cannon. “Can you turn the cannon? That way!” He pointed towards the cultists.
Somewhere in the murderous fog of Calactyte’s mind the concept made it through. He roared again and barreled towards the Altherian cannon.
“I don’t think he’s gonna stop,” said Kham.
Every muscle bulged as Cal grabbed the cannon with both claws. Sinew and scales strained and tore as the cannon was hoisted off of the ground and turned 45 degrees to face the cultists. He heaved it just a few feet, but it did the trick.
The cannon landed with a horrendous thud. The cultists paused in their shouting.
Vlad ran over and dropped a cannonball into the mouth of the weapon.
Ilmarė poured blackpowder into the cannon. Kham use his flint and steel to spark it.
There was a strange, crackling sound from deep within the cannon.
“It’s jammed!” shouted Kham, crawling away as fast as he could, which was not fast enough. “She’s gonna blow!”
Bijoux glided to the top of the cannon. She withdrew the staff from her back and shoved it down the barrel.
There was a hollow ring as the cannonball hit the bottom of the cannon. The Fihali leapt off of the mouth of the cannon as it fired.
The shot crashed through the lip of the cavern wall above, partially collapsing it beneath dozens of cultists. They screamed as they fell. Then there was only broken bodies and dust.
The force of the explosion had knocked the cannon backwards into the wall. One of the four wheels fell off.
“Can Altherians make cannons or what?” said Kham.
Cultists stream through the door where the snake-haired woman had escaped.
“Great,” said Ilmarė, knocking another arrow. “They finally figured out how to use the steps.”
Monday, 4th July, 2005, 03:31 PM #103
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Children of Leviathan - Part 8e: The Caves
“I have the key,” said Bijoux, dangling the gold ring from one of her claws. “Perhaps we should leave?”
Vlad pointed to Kham. “Cal, get Kham. Let’s hope that portal leads to somewhere safe.”
“No!” shouted Kham as Cal picked him up like a rag doll and strapped him onto his back. “We can’t leave the cannon!”
“There’s no way we can carry it,” said Vlad as a volley of spears pierced several crates near his head.
“You’re right,” said Kham slowly. “We can’t carry it.”
Vlad and Kham shared a knowing nod.
Kham encompassed the other crates and barrels in the room. “See all this? It’s ammunition and blackpowder to fire this cannon. Grab a barrel.”
Bijoux peeked into the small cave. At the rear of the cave was a circular stone arch one and a half spear lengths high made of greenstone. It was carved with disturbing and lurid aquatic motifs.
“I’m not sure where to put the key,” said Bijoux.
Ilmarė shook her head. She fired two arrows and two more cultists dropped. “Me neither. Stick it into something that looks like a keyhole and twist.”
Vlad grabbed a barrel of blackpowder and uncorked it. Black, fine grains trailed behind him.
“Now what,” shouted Vlad as he ran over to Kham and Cal.
“Run,” said Kham. Cal started to take a step towards the portal. “Not us. Not yet.”
Bijoux wrinkled her nose at the portal. She stuck it into somewhere into the carvings and turned. The portal began to pulse with a sickly green aura.
“Yuck,” she said.
The hail of spears stopped as cultists swarmed over the crates, closing in on the small cavern entrance.
Vlad barreled past Bijoux, trailing blackpowder, and disappeared with a FWHIP! in a green flash.
“Time to go!” shouted Ilmarė. She dove through the portal and flashed out of existence.
Bijoux gave one worried glance over her shoulder at Cal and Kham, then dove through the portal herself.
“Now Cal! Run!” shouted Kham. Cal pounded towards the portal, Kham facing the other way in his truss.
One of the cultists stepped through the entranceway, spear raised.
Kham tossed a match onto the blackpowder trail. A sparking path sizzled its way from the gate, between the cultist’s legs, out from the cave entrance…
The cultist looked down at the fiery trail and then behind him.
“The Altherian government sends its regards,” said Kham as Cal hurled them both through the portal.
Thursday, 7th July, 2005, 12:29 AM #104
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Children of Leviathan - Part 9a: Flight from the Island
They appeared at the top of the cliffs on the northern side of the cove, where an ancient tower rose up above it. There was a terrific explosion from the sea caves to their right. Smoke, dust, and screams rose up from the opening.
Beneath a palm tree, near a single outrigger, was the snake-haired woman. The strange mask swiveled towards them in surprise.
“Take her out before she can turn us to stone” said Vlad. He ran down spiraling steps inside the stone tower and barreled towards her. Cal and Kham were close behind.
The masked woman pointed and a spiraling glob of acid leaped from her finger. Bijoux shrieked as her fur was singed.
“Where’s the ship?” said Ilmarė, scanning the horizon. The Shrike should have been anchored at a tall cliff, but it was no longer there.
Down below, Vlad and Cal were steps away from the masked woman when she put her fingers together and a fan of flames engulfed them. Screaming and on fire, they dove to the side into the water.
Ilmarė knocked an arrow and fired, but it bounced off a magical field. “I can’t hit her,” she said, shaking her head.
Bijoux hopped up on a crumbling crenellation. “What are you doing?”
“What I should have done a long time ago,” said Bijoux.
“Are you insane?” asked Ilmarė. “She’ll petrify you!”
Bijoux was already in the air.
Ilmarė reached for another arrow, only to grab the hilt of Captain Bezyli’s knife at her belt.
She drew it. The knife was perfectly balanced and almost seemed to hum when she held the blade between her fingertips.
On impulse, Ilmarė drew back one arm and launched it at the masked woman. The blade struck home. It struck true through one of the mask’s eyes. A hollow scream echoed from behind it.
Bijoux sailed through the air towards the masked woman. She pointed at Bijoux and a bright white beam sizzled past her.
Then Bijoux set upon her with fangs and claws. She bit down into the woman’s neck and tore her throat out.
Cal and Vlad stood up put of the surf. Behind Cal, Kham sputtered.
“Uh, guys…” said Kham.
Vlad looked down at Bijoux, who gulped the blood from the dead woman. “I didn’t know the Fihali could do that.”
”Guys,” said Kham.
Ilmarė joined them. Inexplicably, the knife was back in her hands. “That’s enough Bijoux,” she said.
Bijoux looked up, her chin soaked with blood. She wiped it off with the back of one arm.
“Now let’s see about this mask,” said the Elorii. She yanked the knife out of the dead woman’s face and tried to pry the mask off, but it crumbled, leaving a faceless skull beneath.
”HEY!” shouted Kham. “I don’t want to alarm anyone and I recognize that I have a unique perspective on the situation since I’m strapped to the back of a homicidal lizard, but I thought you might want to know that there are about a million cultists running straight toward us!”
Sunday, 10th July, 2005, 04:12 AM #105
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Children of Leviathan - Part 9b: Flight from the Island
Sure enough, cultists were streaming from the ruined temple at the center of the island. They put up a great shout as they came closer, frothing at the mouth with weapons raised high.
“The outrigger!” shouted Vlad. They filed into the boat and each took a paddle.
“Row!” shouted Kham. “Row faster!”
All around them the water was filled with spear shafts.
“Not. Helping,” said Ilmarė through gritted teeth as she put her back into it.
Several groups of cultists came down the cliffs with canoes, ready to give chase. Many more of the fanatical madmen pitched spears from the cliff tops above. A spear thunked loudly into the prow.
“Oh great, we’ve got company,” said Kham as three canoes filled with cannibal cultists sliced fast through the water.
The enemy canoe sailed towards them, filled with snarling devils armed with sharpened teeth and sharper spears. They raised their weapons up…
The head of the lead attacker burst in a shower of blood and gore.
“The Prophet!” shouted Kham.
A cacophony of explosions fired from the Altherian gunship known as the Prophet, its prow lined with cannons. They formed a line along the rail, loosing a deadly volley of lead. The cannonfire tore through the cultists, obliterating the canoes and filling the air with drifting smoke and the scent of blood.
The cultists fell back, routed. The Prophet disgorged boats loaded with Altherian Patrolmen, who waved as they sailed past them.
“We did it!” shouted Kham. He wriggled out of his truss and stood on the edge of the outrigger. “Hail, my Altherian brothers!”
Then he fainted.
Thursday, 14th July, 2005, 12:09 AM #106
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The Children of Leviathan - Conclusion
After resting and recovering from their wounds in comfortable rooms of a sumptuous Milandisian manor in Naeraanth, they were summoned for a banquet. It was to be a feast held in their honor by none other than His Majesty King Osric IV of Milandir.
Dressed in proper attire, they followed a steward down a long hallway. It led to a set of large doors carved with hunting motifs.
The steward swung open the doors to reveal the officers of the Shrike seated around a long rectangular table at the center of a large stone hall. The hall was lined with many extravagant tapestries, a roaring fireplace and other sundry trappings.
A man with short, dark curly hair was seated at the head of the table. All the guests stood as they entered.
“Greetings,” he said. “I am Alexius Waldulf, the manor castellan. Unfortunately, is majesty King Osric will not be in attendance this evening, as matters of import in Tralia kept him away. His majesty sends his apologies.”
Vlad was visibly disappointed. Kham shrugged. Ilmarė rolled her eyes. Cal and Bijoux just looked at the food on the table.
“However,” continued Alexius, “please be assured that you will be paid in full for your efforts. Each of you has rightly earned the grateful favor of the Crown for your service to Milandir. As for the crew of the Shrike,” he turned towards the other men. They were all there: Captain Baldric, Edward, even Crazy Bob. Baldric and Edward wore officer’s insignias on new jackets. “You will all receives pardons and officers commissions!”
The men went wild, cheering and hooting in a decidedly inappropriate manner. Alexius raised his mug.
“His Majesty offers you a hunting feast!” He rang a dainty silver bell.
The bright peal of the bell summoned many servants carrying trays. They festooned the table with varied dishes, venison and decorative delicacies under or upon silver serving dishes, trays and decanters.
“We were looking for Cassicus,” said Ilmarė out of the side of her mouth. “That’s why Quintus sent us to find you.”
The servants lifted the tops of the serving trays, revealing succulent smells of roasted saucy meats, breads, fancy stews and puddings, dark gravies, bright vegetables, sweet woodland fruits, truffles, mushrooms and subtle spices.
“Great,” said Kham. “Who’s Cassicus?”
As wine and mead was poured out, two servants started a quiet whispered argument over one last dish that remained uncovered.
“Senator Tensen-Balin’s son, remember?” said Vlad on the other side of Kham.
The castellan walked over the servants and became embroiled in an argument with the head servant about the dish.
“Oh yeah,” said Kham. “Right. Well. I’m going to be a bit preoccupied here. But I’ll catch up.”
The servant was clearly reluctant to uncover the tray, indicating that it was inappropriate given present company.
“Like you did last time?” said Vlad. “I haven’t seen you since Sweet Savona.”
Alexius was incensed. He asked if the servant thought his guests weren’t good enough for the servant’s opinions or his chef’s dishes.
“It’s not every day you get named the Consort of Larissa,” said Kham with a satisfied smirk. “But give Quintus my regards. I’ll try to meet you when I can. I’ve got to give a report to the Altherian government.”
Alexius began to shout at the servant, demanding the dish be revealed.
Cal sniffed at the tray.
The servant apologized to the castellan but did not move to uncover the dish.
With a swipe of one huge claw, Cal tugged the lid of the tray.
It was a large steamed octopus, decorated with many cooked shellfish and tucked in bundles of edible seaweed.
“Who lives in the grotto down under the sea?” sand Cal in his baritone voice.
The rest of the table paused in shock. Then they burst out into raucous laughter and joined in.
An aspect o' Yarris an' evil be he!
If nautical nightmares be somethin’ ye fear,
Then run fer yer lives and dump all yer gear!
Leviathan, Leviathan, Leviathan, le-VI-A-THANNNNNNN!”
Kham slapped his forehead. “Gods, he taught ALL of you that song?!”
Monday, 18th July, 2005, 01:55 AM #107
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Introduction
This is the fourth soft point of Year 2 of the tournament module, "Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe," written by Chris Jarvis and set in the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note that this story hour contains spoilers! Our cast of characters includes:
· Ilmarė Galen (Elf Brd3), played by Amber Tresca (my wife)
· Vlad Martell (Human Ftr3), played by Matt Hammer.
· Calactyte (Ss’ressen Bar1), played by Joe Tresca: http://www.creepyportfolio.com
· Bijoux (Fihali 2/Drd1), played by Melissa Gendron
· Sebastian Arnyal (Dark-kin Sor 2) played by George Webster
· Beldin (Dwarf Ftr2) played by Joe Lalumia
· Kham (Val Rog 1/PW 2) played by Jeremy Ortiz http://www.dreamsculptor.com
I was Dungeon Master for this session: http://michael.tresca.net
This session took place over several hours at a Memorial Day barbecue. I knew it would take long with the sheer amount of detailed NCPs that the party had to face. I was also prepared this time, with cardboard maps and props, miniatures of all types (including my collection of painted lead miniatures, figures from the Pirate Battle game, and toys from a party store), and of course, my pirate mask.
What ensued was complete chaos. This was a grand melee of seven players against all kinds of enemies, such that I can’t even cover them all in the story hour. I hope you enjoy how I chose to portray them, as the bad guys are like the Legion of Doom—they’re just evil versions of the good guys. Just about everybody has an evil counterpart, but my favorite was Zainat Zameri, the clerical gunslinger who is after the bounty on Kham’s head. I had plans to use the dueling rules from D20 Deadlands…but with Kham, things never go according to plan.
In fact, I created an entire inn complete with tables, chairs, walls, fireplace, a menu, etc. Nobody ever made it there.
Oh well. As Amber says, “eventually, someone’s going to have a fight in an inn.” So one day I’ll get to use it. I hope.
I discovered that Sycorax is actually from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Although she’s long dead by the time the play starts, her presence is always felt through her malformed fish-like son, Caliban. If you’re familiar with the play, the ending will come as no surprise. That means somewhere out there is an island with Prospero’s staff and book and Ariel the sprite!
As an aside, I'm going to post some pictures of what the other characters look like (as the players grant me permission to do so). I first when with concepts generated through HeroMachine: http://www.heromachine.com
But then I started to change the HeroMachine portraits to match the miniatures. So here then is Quintus where we last left him, just starting out as a signifer in the Legion of the Reluctant Warrior.
Thursday, 21st July, 2005, 01:20 PM #108
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Prologue
"If Camring becomes heir to the throne of Sea Lord Drac, we’re out of business."
Zainat thrust one hand through his shock of black curls. The idiot next to him was getting drunker by the minute and spewing information like a fountain. A fountain of beer.
"Ya mentioned smuggling," Zainat repeated, slow enough for even the extremely inebriated to understand. "So?"
Zainat's drinking companion's face, an explosion of stubble, jowls of flesh, and scars, crinkled up in confusion. "We're in the same boat, mate. I know what you do."
Zainat fingered the green brooch at his neck. "Oh ya do, do ya?"
"Right," the fellow said. Zainat didn't even know his name. "You're…fond of doing what needs to be done, and laws be damned, right?" He jabbed Zainat in the ribs with an elbow. "Right?"
Zainat nodded before he was bruised further. "So if House val’Ossan supports Camring’s claim to tha throne and a regency council rules in his stead, we’re all kicked, is that it?"
"Damn right," the drunk said, slurping loudly from his mug. "It's Censurites like that," he gestured at a tall, hawk-faced woman at the far corner of the tavern, "that ruin it for the rest."
Zainat's eyes lit up. He recognized her bright red cloak. Zainat adjusted his midnight blue watch coat and slid off the stool.
"You give her what for," muttered the drunk from the bar. Zainat nodded over his shoulder but kept his eyes on the woman. She was talking intently to three other people at the table.
Zainat could sniff out a mercenary recruitment drive from a mile away. He slid over to a seat nearer the four of them to get a better look.
"I thank you for your quick response to my request," the red headed woman said. "Rest assured, you will be well compensated in assisting my master for this small matter. You each have been selected for your particular skills. I trust you will not disappoint."
She nodded towards a large man, swathed entirely in ebony silks and leathers. "Master Knenag will be your guide. He knows Freeport well." The man, a Cancerite judging by his pale skin and dark hair, thrust out his chin a bit but otherwise said nothing.
Zainat thought there was nothing quite so pathetic as a Cancerite down on his luck. He must have been desperate to take on such work.
"Mistress Andrel’s vast knowledge will serve you well. She has come very far from Entaris."
The female was undeniably Elorii. She was also quite striking, with perfect posture and an icy gaze. She was a Kelekene, descended from the fire god, as evidenced by her pointed ears and honey gold hair.
"If the child is still alive," she said in a monotone whisper, "we'll find him."
"Yes, we shall!" shouted the third woman, with dusky black skin, glowing amber eyes, and three-inch bone-white horns that adorned her head. "Amalia Grat,” she referred to herself in third person, “will catch the little bastard for sure."
The speaker was a dark-kin. Zainat hated dark-kin. He couldn't take it any longer.
"Again?" Zainat said.
"I said, 'Again?' Andrea Blax’s agents been lookin’ fer tha brat for weeks. The Rusty-Knife Boys keep coverin’ his escape.”
Amalia's mouth opened in surprise—for once, no sound came out of it. Her brows furrowed, but before she could come up with a retort, the Censurite waved Zainat over.
"You must be Master Zameri. I was not sure if you were going to join us."
Zainat stood up, spat, and walked over to the table. "Why didn'tcha tell them about tha other attempts, Locksan?"
Locksan stared at Zainat for a long moment. Then she turned back to Amalia. "Captain Blax prefers this matter to be handled discreetly. Camring is Thralen Vodric val’Ossan’s nephew, an influential member of the Merchants’ Guild and one of the most dangerous men in Freeport. Captain Blax needs a bargaining tool without incurring the wrath of the Royal House of Milandir."
Zainat smirked. "And ya hired these thugs? Ya couldn’t find nobody else?"
Locksan put a calming hand on Amalia's shoulder as the warrior’s face turned red. "Captain Blax’s agents have already failed. It is my master's hope that a small group can do discreetly what the other agents could not."
"I didn't agree to him going along," said Amalia, jabbing a thumb in Zainat's direction.
"You weren't asked," Locksan said firmly. "The Captain insists."
"Let's go," said the Elorii before Amalia could protest. "Every moment spent talking is more time for the val’Ossans to put Camring on the throne."
"Good. Here is a description of what the boy looks like," he handed a scroll to Amalia. "A priest waits outside to shepherd you through."
Amalia abruptly stood up and shrugged on a flamberge onto her back. She wore a coif of copper washed chain to a formfitting breastplate. Her long quilted skirt was studded with copper rings; it was slit to allow for the movement of her long, whip-like tail and blue leather booted legs.
The Elorii shook her head and gracefully left the table. That left the Cancerite. He nodded at Zainat but did not extend his hand. "Name's Broled. If vere going to verk together, you should learn it vell."
Zainat tipped his hat to Broled. Then he followed him out the door.
Outside, the Elorii was keeping her distance from the dark-kin, who stood with hands on hips, scowling at the surrounding terrain.
"So tell me Broled," said Zainat, keeping his eye on the strange warrior woman’s back. "How does a dark-kin get caught up in this mess?"
Broled shrugged. "Never met her before," he said in low tones. "But she is a bit…loud."
"Amalia is one of the most feared hired swords in Freeport," said the Elorii, turning towards them. "Captain Blax’s agents have crossed her in the past. They’re still picking up the pieces."
"I didn't think you were in earshot," said Zainat.
A sly smirk slipped across the Elorii's lips. "I'm always in earshot," she said in the same monotone. "My name is Neyadis."
"Neyadis," said Zainat. "Pretty name."
The Elorii turned away from him as a haggard-looking man approached them. A bracelet of thorns was wrapped around his left wrist. Zainat recognized him as a Priest of Anshar, the clergy dedicated to maintaining the teleportation gates that could move anyone from one side of Arcanis to the other.
"Wait," he said. "We're goin’ through a Gate? "
Amalia turned around. "Of course. How else did you think we were going to get to Freeport?"
Zainat began patting himself down. "It's just that I wasn't…"
"Prepared?" Amalia watched as Zainat silently counted to himself.
"He's an Altherian," said Neyadis. "He's counting his ammunition."
Amalia walked face to face with Zainat. "I will not have you endanger this mission with your foolish 'gifts'!"
Zainat counted to ten. "Don’t gitcher britches in a bunch. I don't have enough powder to cause any problems."
"Is there a problem?" said the priest.
"No!" Amalia and Zainat shouted at the same time.
"Then follow me, please. Time is of the essence."
Amalia harrumphed and followed the priest with a swirl of his cloak. Broled fell in step behind next to Zainat. "Vhy is Amalia so angry?"
"Because she's insecure?" he responded.
"She's angry," Neyadis said softly behind them, "because if too much powder goes through a gate, it explodes."
Zainat spat in front of Broled as the man's eyes widened.
"Powder for vhat?" Broled said after a moment.
Zainat patted the blackwood stock and mother-of-pearl handle of his flintlock hanging from a holster on his belt. "Altherian secret. You'll find out soon enough."
Monday, 25th July, 2005, 01:30 PM #109
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 1a: Freeport Bound
Ilmarė was in that place, the island where the Children of Leviathan stalked the waves and jungles of Milguldihar.
She was flying. Ilmarė flew through a lovely emerald forest and over verdant tropical reefs alive with dancing, colorful fishes. It was low tide and there were many sparkling pools along the scented coast.
Some movement caught her eye. Ilmarė turned to see what it was.
A lone boy, not ten summers old, frolicked amongst the tide pools. She drew closer, wondering what a hapless child might be doing in such a place.
As Ilmarė approached the boy, he beckoned her forward, humming and skipping merrily along the rocky beach. He led her to a lone tide pool beneath the cool shade of a giant gnarled tree on the shore.
Ilmarė stood over him as the boy looked into the pool. He dropped a squirming crab into it.
The crab scuttled about for a bit. Then tiny tentacles suddenly snapped it up. An emerging octopus, no larger than her fist, latched on to the crab in a death grip.
In the glassy water’s surface, the boy’s smiling reflection glared back at her. But it was not that of an angelic boy. It was the field and sharpened grin of a shark, with a maw that belonged on no normal child.
Ilmarė jolted out of her meditation, Captain Bezyli’s knife in her hand.
“Just a daydream,” she said to herself. Ilmarė tried to focus on her breathing. “Just a daydream.”
The sun was peeking over the horizon in Naeraanth. It was time to get up anyway.
Ilmarė washed and dressed, padding lightly down the steps into the common room of the tavern. They were all there: Calactyte, the hulking lizard man; Bijoux, the stealthy cat-woman; and of course faithful Vlad, who looked more than a little hung over.
She joined them at the table. They were all focused on Captain Baldric, who was regaling them with a tale.
“-th' boy ye’re lookin' fer,” he was saying. “Captain Wendron Krubach be one o' th' most fearsome gentleman o' fortunes t' sail th' seas o' Onara, he be. His ship be th' Black Egret. I crossed th' lad once,” he stroked his eye patch. “But word has come that suddenly Captain Krubach sailed' mad.”
“Why do we care?” asked Ilmarė out of the corner of her mouth.
“Captain Baldric thinks he knows where Cassicus is,” said Vlad.
“Krubach changed course an' sailed' straight after an isle, arrr nay one had ere heard o' before,” said Baldric. “His crew mutinied, but Krubach made them keel haul th' plank. Th' remainin' crew be forced t' assault th' isle, arrr. Many o' them sank t'Davy Jones' locker. But they had the'r prize: a boy nobody heard o'. An important boy, by all rights. Last seen, he be sailin' hard fer Freeport. If ye’re lookin' fer a missin' boy, I lay odds that’s th' lad.”
“It’s a long shot,” said Ilmarė.
“It sounds like our only shot,” said a familiar voice at a nearby table. It was Sebastian, the dark-kin sorcerer. Beldin, Sebastian’s erstwhile dwarven companion, sat next to him.
“You made it!” said Vlad, getting up to greet the pair.
Sebastian looked a little surprised by the warmth of the greeting. He put one gloved hand in Vlad’s and shook it. “Quintus left us a message that you were gathering here to look for Cassicus.”
Vlad nodded. “It’s good to have you with us,” he said. Vlad nodded towards Baldric. “We’re in.”
“Wait,” said Ilmarė. “We have no idea if the boy is really Cassicus. Quintus hasn’t contacted us in a week. What makes you think that Baldric’s tale is even true?”
Vlad lifted his chin. “I have business in Freeport. So I’m in. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.”
“Business, hmm?” Ilmarė took a deep breath. “And you two?” she asked of the lizard and the cat.
“Money?” asked Cal.
“Aye,” said Captain Baldric, “ye’ll get yer share o' th' booty once we…” he stroked his eye patch again, “once I takes care o' Captain Krubach.”
“Then I’m going,” said Cal.
“You will need my help,” said Bijoux. “The creatures of the sea will not respond kindly to the intrusion of men. I will go.”
Ilmarė frowned. “I wouldn’t be so quick to-“
She was interrupted by a very loud, “BURRRRRRRRRRRRRP!”
“Osalian help me,” said Ilmarė without looking at the source, “that can only be—“
“Kham!” shouted Vlad. “I thought you had left for Altheria!” He punched Kham on the shoulder, who had sat at the bar unnoticed until his gaseous expulsion.
“I was supposed to,” said Kham. “But uh,” he shoved a torn piece of parchment* further into one of his pockets, “I’ve had a change of heart.”
Baldric got up and the others followed suit. They all turned to look at Ilmarė.
Ilmarė hesitated. She knew Quintus would have wanted them to investigate any trail that might lead to Cassicus, but she was torn between pursuing the boy or waiting for the legionnaire to return. Where was he?
The Elorii chastised herself for worrying. She would not allow her affection for the human to become a burden.
“Fine,” said Ilmarė. “I’m going with you.” She waggled a finger at Vlad. “But we’ll have to be careful. Freeport is like no other place we’ve been before.”
“Then it’s settled,” said Vlad. He put one arm around Sebastian’s shoulder and another around Ilmarė’s. “We’re all going to Freeport!”
*To see what changed Kham’s mind, view the attachment.
Thursday, 28th July, 2005, 04:41 AM #110
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 1b: Freeport Bound
The journey had been uneventful, though the Shrike appeared to be following in the wake of some sort of autumn storm: the southeastern horizon roiled with tumbling black clouds and foaming white wind-driven waves.
Baldric had his hat in one hand before Bijoux. He stood with a small furry animal beneath one arm.
“Well lass, I know we spake that cats be bad luck an' all, but after ye came aboard an' we be pardoned an' all, well, we be thinkin'.”
Bijoux was taken aback. Her tail flicked nervously behind her. “Yes?”
“We figure ye be good luck, an' we wanted t' keep that wi' th' Shrike. So we got ourselves a cat,” said Baldric. He thrust in front of Bijoux’s face a small hairy explosion of white and black. It was indeed a feline.
The cat looked at her with an expression of wide-eyed shocked that perfectly mirrored Bijoux’s. It wore a black scarf around its neck that was covered with a skull-and-bones pattern. “T' help catch th' rats…o' course.”
“It can’t even catch mice,” said Edward behind his captain. “The Captain has a soft spot for strays.”
Baldric glared at Edward with his good eye. “Ahem. Anyway, we be hopin' th' wee kitty would brin' us some luck when ye’re nay on board. So 't’s only right that ye name th' lass.”
“Name him?” asked Bijoux, eyebrows raised.
“Aye,” said Captain Baldric.
The crew gathered around her expectantly.
Bijoux’s eyes flickered everywhere looking for an escape.
“Just say something,” said Ilmarė, “before they make us sing again.”
“How about…Maya?” said Bijoux.
The crowd cheered. “Maya ‘tis!”
Captain Baldric handed Maya off to Edward and turned to Sebastian and Beldin, who were chuckling to themselves.
“As fer ye—we don’t like th' look o' ye,” said Baldric. The crew shuffled closer. “Dwarves an' dark-kin be bad luck on a ship.”
Sebastian and Beldin exchanged glances. “What did we do?”
“Ye’re goin' t' be havin' t' pass th' test,” said Baldric.
“What test?” squeaked Sebastian.
Ilmarė slapped her forehead and walked to the other side of the ship.
“Debris 25 degrees to port at 120 yards!” shouted Crazy Bob.
Heads turned to look. Sebastian and Beldin stepped away from each other during the momentary distraction.
“Steady as she goes helmsman,” said Captain Baldric. “Beware o' that debris. We don’t need t' get tangled up in anythin'. She’s runnin' mighty close t' shoals as be.”
Bijoux squinted into the distance. “There’s someone in the debris,” she said. “There!”
She pointed and everyone craned their necks to see.
“Yes, I see him,” said Ilmarė. “About 100 yards towards the isle of Badru.”
“It’s a boy,” said Bijoux. “He’s holding onto a wooden spar. It’s stuck on coral.”
A female’s voice, as if shouting through water, echoed in Bijoux’s mind. “Save my child!” Bijoux turned to stare at Ilmarė, but her lips hadn’t moved.
Vlad blinked. “You two can see all that? I can’t see anything but bits of wood.”
“Sounds like our boy,” said Kham. “Captain, we need a boat.”
“I’m going with you,” said Bijoux.
“Me too,” said Beldin. “I am sworn to protect all humans.” He was eager to get away from the rest of the crew.
“You seem to have a selective memory about that,” muttered Kham under his breath.
“Who lives in a grotto down under the sea?” Cal sang behind Kham.
Kham rubbed his temples. “Fine, you can go too, but just stop singing that damn song.”
“You know he only sings that song when he thinks some deep sea monstrosity is going to eat us,” said Ilmarė.
“I know,” Kham snapped back. “But at least I won’t have a headache.”