Arcanis: Gonnes, Sons, and Treasure Runs (COMPLETED) - Page 12
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    Kick ass. I can't wait to read a story based upon I Know Thee, Brother. Getting Rob Taylor as a GM must have been a treat, and the sessions you are putting on sound like an absolute blast!

    See you at Gen Con

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    Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 2a: Flotsam and Jetsam

    Kham steered the rudder as the ss’ressen rowed. The rowboat lurched forward with each swing of the oars as the massive lizard put his back into it.

    Bijoux sat perched at the bow of the rowboat. Beldin didn’t do much but sit in the middle in his banded armor. He looked distinctly uncomfortable.

    Something bounced against the hull of the boat. Bijoux dragged it up onto the boat.

    “This wood has some writing on it, but I can’t make it out,” she said.

    It read: BLA_K E_RE_

    “That’d be the Black Egret,” said Beldin.

    As they rowed closer to the shoals, the coral heads jutted upwards from the sea like jagged teeth. Several outcroppings littered the path between the boat and the boy.

    “Well, I guess we stop here,” said Kham. He patted Cal on the shoulder to stop him from rowing further.

    “Now what?” asked Cal.

    Kham walked to the other side of the boat. “Now, we jump.”

    “What?” asked Beldin. As he stood up, the boat rocked precariously.

    Kham hopped from the prow of the boat onto an outcropping of coral. He spun on one heel, arms out.

    “See? Piece of cAAAAH!”

    Kham slipped and slid down the side of the coral. He managed to catch himself and scramble inelegantly back to his original position.

    Kham dusted off his jacket, but it was no use. The entire back of his overcoat was soaked. “I’m uh, gonna go get the kid.”

    “We’ll stay here,” said Beldin.

    Kham leaped to another outcropping. He had moved out of earshot, drowned out by the crashing of the surf against the coral reef.

    “What is that?” asked Bijoux, pointing at a fin cresting the water’s surface.

    “I don’t know,” said Beldin. “I’ve never seen it before.”

    “Me neither,” said Bijoux. It was heading straight towards them. “I’m not familiar with the native creatures of Onara.”

    “I am,” said Cal, his reptilian eyes narrowing to slits. “That’s a—“

    “SHARK, you idiots!” Kham had been shouting at them with cupped hands, but only when the waves subsided could they hear him. “Three of them!”

    Then something large slammed into the side of the boat. There was a loud SPLOOSH!

    Bijoux looked around. “Where’s Beldin?”

    “Who lives in a grotto down under the sea?” sang Cal in response.
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    Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 2b: Flotsam and Jetsam

    “Sharks,” said Kham, crossing his arms to pull out two pistols from their hostlers. “Why did it have to be sharks?”

    One of the fins ploughed a path straight towards the boy’s unconscious form.

    “Oh no you don’t!” said Kham. He kissed each one of his handgonnes. “Ladies, don’t fail me now.”

    Kham took aim at the shark just beneath the surface of the water. It was over 20 feet in length, with tiger-like patterns along the broad gray-brown back.

    BLAM BLAM!

    There was a swirl of bright red in the water as something thrashed and rolled. Then the dark shape beneath the fin submerged again, disappearing into the coral reef.

    “Well, we showed him,” said Kham, holstering his pistols. He hopped the last distance to the boy.

    The boy was unconscious. “Wake up kid,” said Kham, nudging him. Eyelids fluttered open.

    “W-who are you?” he asked. He was about ten years old, with long disheveled hair, fair skin, and the startling steel-gray eyes of a Val. He was clad in the garments typical for a shipboard cabin boy.

    “Not important. All you need to know is I’m the guy with the pistols.” He hoisted the boy up over his shoulders. “What’s more important is who you are.”

    “Emric,” the boy said. He put his arms around Kham’s neck.

    “Emric?” Kham stretched out from the piece of driftwood and clambered up a coral reef. “That’s not short for Emricassicus by any chance, is it?”

    “No sir,” Emric said.

    “Didn’t think so,” said Kham. “Well, that’s my good deed for today.” He prepared to spring to the next shoal and then, upon seeing two more fins circling the boat, decided against it. “Maybe we should just rest here for a moment.”

    “Will they be okay?” said Emric, pointing at the fracas.

    A bubble popped to the surface that sounded suspiciously liked “HELP!”

    “Oh, I’m sure they’ll be fine,” said Kham.
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    Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 2c: Flotsam and Jetsam

    The ship rocked again, harder than before. Not one shark but two were hunting them, their fins appearing and disappearing as they circled ever closer. Every once in awhile, one would dive down into the water to go after what Bijoux assumed was Beldin.

    The water was exceptionally clear at the reef, but she had difficulty making out his form. It looked as if he were trying to climb up the reef. Swimming was impossible in his armor.

    Calactyte snarled as one of the fins sailed dangerously close to the boat.

    “Be careful,” said Bijoux, “if you move too quickly you’ll—“

    Leaving his huge axe behind, Cal launched himself into the water at the shark. There was a momentary glimpse of saurian and shark locked in a vicious death struggle, all claws and teeth. Then they both went under.

    Bijoux swallowed the rising panic in her throat. She had come to help those in need by beckoning Onara’s call. And yet here they were, most assuredly incurring her wrath.

    Bijoux knew of only one creature that was a symbol of all that was good in the sea. She called upon it again, a deep purr permeating her entire form from head to toe.

    There was a squeal and two dolphins dove out of the water to greet her. She couldn’t help but smile.

    “Stop them!” she said, pointing in the direction of the sharks.

    The dolphins veered off in different directions.

    One mailed mitt stretched to grab a piece of reef. Beldin, his beard sopping wet, slowly dragged himself up to the surface. He had been bitten several times by the shark, but to little effect. The teeth couldn’t penetrate the bands of metal that encased him. And yet the most innocuous creature had done just that.

    In his other hand, Beldin lifted a black sea urchin to the surface. Some of Beldin’s blood was still on its poisonous tips.

    “It’s a good thing I’m made of sterner stuff,” said Beldin, spitting seawater.

    Cal surfaced again, bleeding from a pattern of bite marks along one side. He looked in bad shape.

    “Stay there Cal,” said Bijoux.

    The big lizard grabbed hold of the side of the boat.

    “No, Cal, wait—“

    He tugged on the side to get his balance, only to flip the boat over. Bijoux launched into the air and glided over to a nearby outcropping of coral.

    A shark fin sailed straight towards Cal.

    Magicus telum!

    A searing white bolt of magic darted into the water. The fin submerged again.

    Vlad waved to Bijoux. He was in another boat with Sebastian and Ilmarė. “We’ve come to rescue you!” he said with a grin.

    Vlad let go of the oars for a moment to peer over the side just as a shark fin sailed by. The oar whipped around sideways and batted Vlad across the back of the head. He tumbled head first into the water.

    Magicus telum!”

    Bolt after magical bolt relentlessly sliced into the sharks whenever they appeared. Finally, they stopped surfacing altogether. Only bits of dolphin remained.

    Ilmarė threw a rope to Vlad, who had difficulty remaining above water in his chainmail.

    “Some rescue,” she said.
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    Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 3: Catch of the Day

    Everyone was safely aboard the Shrike, although Calactyte, Vlad, and Beldin were wrapped in towels. The big saurian in particular was in bad shape, having suffered more than one bite from the sharks with only his scaly hide to protect him.

    “Well, he’s a strange kid,” said Kham. “Looks like Captain Krubach decided to kidnap him out of the blue. They were headed for Freeport when they were hit by a freak storm. But that’s not the weird part.”

    Ilmarė raised an eyebrow. “What?”

    “Ask him about his mommy,” said Kham.

    Ilmarė crouched down to look Emric in the eye. “Can you tell us about your mother?”

    “Oh yes!” said Emric, his eyes bright. “Mother can speak all the tongues of the birds and the creatures of the sea. Her voice can be like a storm crashing on the surf, or gentle like the barest hint of sea spray. Her songs and playing at the harp lure the naiads from their shoals with envy.”

    “That’s great kid,” said Kham. “But what does your mom look like?”

    Emric pointed at Cal, who looked pretty miserable. The big saurian’s head swung towards them when Cal sensed eyes upon him.

    “What?” he said, dripping seawater from his nose holes.

    “Like him,” said Emric. “Mother is very tall, with opaline skin the color of the moon on a deep velvet sea. Her eyes are quick and bright like emeralds and her hair is dark and lustrous black.”

    “What?” asked Cal, saltwater still streaming from his nostrils.

    “THAT’S what his mother looks like?” said Ilmarė. “I’m afraid to ask about the father…”

    “I don’t know who my father is,” said Emric wistfully. “Mother never spoke of him.”

    “I don’t think we would want to meet him anyway,” said Kham.

    “Th' boy’s mother be goin' t' come lookin' fer th' lad,” said Captain Baldric. “Ye be havin' flouted th' Sea God’s will an' cast yer lot into a dire game. Yarris only knows what fate awaits ye.”

    Kham jabbed a thumb in Cal’s direction. “If ‘Mother’ is half as ugly as Scaly, we’re going to have our hands full.”

    “Hey!” said Cal, but he was too exhausted to even back up his protestation with a menacing growl.

    “Agreed,” said Ilmarė. “We’ll find a place for him in Freeport.”

    “And if we can’t?” asked Sebastian.

    “Then maybe there’ll be some uninvited guests to the family reunion,” said Kham, patting the holsters beneath his coat.

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    Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 4: Freeport

    The morning sun glowed yellow on the waters of Freeport harbor, turning it into a smooth plate of gold. But it was a plate that could do with some scraping, washing and polishing.

    “I hate this place,” said Ilmarė, wrinkling her nose.

    Garbage mired the water: dead fish and rotting offal, broken creates, frayed and tattered cordages, bits of sailcloth, shattered spars and worn planks, pools of oil and sewage—all of it swirled together in the filth.

    “There as many animals here as there are men,” said Bijoux, her ears flattened against her head.

    Fat, greasy rats, raucous gulls, and sly crabs fought over the juiciest morsels in the muck and grime. The din of stevedores, longshoremen, fishwives, costermongers, chantey men, hucksters and draft animals assailed their ears. All of it was punctuated by the cries of the ever-present gulls.

    “We should meet at The Goodly Fisher in Old City,” said Kham. “I don’t recommend sticking together.” He looked at his motley assortment of comrades. “You kind of stick out, even here.”

    “You’ve been here before?” asked Vlad. “Where’s Old City?”

    Kham pointed to the west. “Over there is the Merchant District. You can tell by the clock tower of the Merchant’s Giuld and the roof of the Opera House.” He pointed east. “That way is the Eastern District. Through there is Survytown and the jungles of A’val. Stay away from there.” He pointed straight ahead. “That big green dome belongs to the Sea Lord’s Palace. That’s Old City. Head straight for it, don’t talk to anybody, and keep the boy safe.”

    The crew went to work securing the vessel as stevedores and longshoremen began the daunting task of unloading the cargo holds of the Shrike.

    “Where are you going?” asked Bijoux.

    “Away from you,” he said, pulling up the flaps of his jacket. Kham shoved his hands into his pockets and walked down the gangplank to Freeport’s docks.

    Sebastian was staring at the ships in the harbor. He exchanged a glance with Beldin.

    “I see it,” the dwarf said.

    Vessels from every known nation lay at anchor in the harbor or were moored in the docks. Amongst them were Canceri merchantmen, Naeraanthi trading cogs, Altherian carracks, Coryani trade galleys, Skohiir longships, a crimson-sailed Garundian slave ship, Magran brigantines, Freeporter caravels and a single, black-hulled dromon.

    “See what?” asked Cal.

    “Ymandragorians,” said Sebastian. The black hull of the dromon was unmistakably a ship of Ymandragore. Inside, demons were chained to its hull, the magical engines that propelled the evil ship across the ocean.

    Sebastian pulled the hood of his cloak up over his head. “We must be cautious.”

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    Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 5a: All Ashore That Are Going Ashore

    The press of the crowd along Freeport’s tiny and ill-paved streets was overwhelming. It was all they could do to stay together.

    “Dey should be close,” said Broled.

    "There," Neyadis said over her shoulder, "they just turned down that alley."

    "I think we better pick up the pace," said Broled as he walked faster towards the alley without attracting too much attention.

    Zainat walked by Amalia. "Ya know," he said as he passed, "ya might be able to move faster if ya didn't carry that ridiculous sword."

    "This flamberge has served Amalia better than any man," Amalia said, shrugging the huge wavy blade off of her shoulders.

    “Have it your way,” said Zainat. “Me? I got some business to settle. I’ll catch ‘em ‘round the other side of the alley.”

    “Fine,” said Broled, “but don’t be late.”

    Zainat spat and disappeared into the crowd.

    Freeport seethed with barely contained violence; few inhabitants were unarmed and all seemed dangerous. At every turn were grim reminders that they were not on their home ground. They were foreigners in a strange land, and worse, they were landlubbers.

    The group they were trailing was too preoccupied with their own squabbling to even notice Broled grab Emric’s arm.

    “Vell lad, you gave us quite a chase dere,” he said, resting his other hand on the hilt of his sheathed longsword. “But now ve have you and you are coming vith us.”

    He looked over at the cat person, who looked stunned. “Dis needn’t concern you lot. Ve and de boy have unfinished business.”

    The thugs they hired stepped into the alley behind them as Broled dragged Emric along.

    “Stop dem,” said Broled over his shoulder.

    Amalia walked forward and held the flamberge before her with both hands. “Oh, don’t worry,” she said with a wicked grin, her tail flicking in agitation behind her, “Amalia intends to.”
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    Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 5b: All Ashore That Are Going Ashore

    The crowd parted like water as Zainat Zameri strode out into the center of the alley to face Kham. The usually raucous masses became silent in breathless anticipation of a duel.

    “Well if it ain’t just my lucky day,” said Zainat with his peculiar accent. “I done thought Cam Val’Abebi went down with the Dauntless.” He eased back his midnight blue watch coat to reveal the mother-of-pearl handle of his flintlock. “There’s a bounty on yer head, boy.” Two more hired thugs flanked Zainat but stood off to the side. “And I intend to collect on it.”

    Kham froze in mid-step. He pushed his back his jacket to reveal all four of his handgonnes. “It’s pronounced ‘kai-EM’. Have we met?”

    “Fortunately fer you, not ‘til today,” said Zainat. “I hear ya run off from Altheria with the plans tah make a bunch of gonnes. From whatcher carrying there, I can see it’s true. Ya been abusin’ the privilege of an Altherian, boy. I’m here tah set things straight. I’m a callin’ you—“

    BLAM! BLAM!

    Kham’s hands drew and fired his handgonnes so quickly that they were a blur. Zainat dove to the side, but not fast enough. One of the shots blew a hole through his coat but was stopped by the chainmail beneath.

    “100 gold to switch sides!” shouted Kham, reaching for his next pair of guns.

    The two thugs hesitated, looking uncertainly between Zainat and Kham.

    Zainat addressed his hired help out of the corner of his mouth. “I’ll pay you 200,” he whispered.

    “Now damn it all!” shouted Zainat, tossing his hat down onto the road in disgust. “I try to have a decent duel with ya, man to man, and ya had to go an’ be a coward about it.” In a flash, Zainat’s pistol was out and aimed at Kham’s head. “As fer you,” he said, “if ya wanna fight like a coward, then ya can run like one too!

    An unreasoning fear overcame Kham that chilled him to the bone. It was like the feelings he had when he gripped Soulripper: deep, primal, unreasoning. And it was also impossible to ignore. Against his will, Kham turned and ran off down the alley in the direction of his comrades.

    Zainat picked up his hat. “Used tah be a time when a man could duel with honor,” he said with a sneer. Zainat screwed his hat onto his head. “If that’s their excuse fer a vanguard, Broled’s got the boy by now. Another time then, Cam.”

    A strange mist welled up from the ground at his feet. Zainat turned and disappeared into the fog, whistling as he went.
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    Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 5c: All Ashore That Are Going Ashore

    “Stop him!” shouted Vlad.

    Bijoux crouched low to face off against a thug as two more stepped up against Vlad and Beldin.

    “Hold them off,” said Sebastian, spreading his palms wide toward the thugs. "Fuco aspergo!"

    A vivid cone of clashing colors sprang forth from his hands, washing over the thugs. Many fell to the ground, clutching their eyes and screaming. Then they were silent.

    “Wow,” said Bijoux.

    “Emric’s getting away!” said Vlad, blocking another thug’s scimitar. “Cal?”

    Calactyte roared. “MOMMA’S COMING!”

    The big lizard slammed through the thugs that were still standing, batting them aside like reeds in a field.

    Then a black-skinned, white-horned woman stepped into his path. “Amalia loves a challenge,” she shouted as her huge flamberge sheared towards Cal.

    Cal twisted his axe and deflected it, but it only served to guide the blow into his thigh instead of his shoulder. With a howl, he swung his axe again straight for her head—but Amalia blocked the attack with her two-handed sword. For a moment, they were locked in the struggle, evenly matched.

    Amalia’s eyes were glowing with an infernal rage, the likes of which the big lizard had never seen before. She was smaller than Cal, not more than six feet tall at most, but her strength equaled his.

    She shoved Cal off and cut a wide arc in front of her, forcing the saurian to take a step back. Then she pressed her advantage. With each attack, she shouted “HA!”

    Cal took a clumsy swing at her head. She ducked, and the axe hewed a chunk of stone from the wall.

    “HA!”

    Amalia’s flamberge rent a wound when his arms were preoccupied with his axe. There was a flash of blinding pain that zig-zagged its way down Cal’s chest. The ss’ressen fell to the ground in a pool of blood.

    Amalia backed away as Cal’s companions advanced. “Big dumb lizard is no match for Amalia!” she shouted. Then she turned and ran off into the crowd.

    Kham sprinted around the corner and skidded to a halt in front of Cal. He was out of breath.

    “There is a scary guy with a flintlock…over there,” he said, hands on his knees. “We better…oh.” The expanding pool of blood touched his foot.

    Bijoux leaned down and put both of her claws on the lizard’s chest. She purred, and a golden glow engulfed Calactyte’s prone form. The wounds closed, but they were still jagged and red.

    “He’ll survive,” said Ilmarė. “But we lost the boy.”

    Kham shook his head to clear the cobwebs. “Maybe we should have stayed together. I don’t know what came over me…”

    “Magic,” said Vlad. “I’ve experienced it before.”

    Kham thrust his hand in his pockets, trying to compose himself. “Okay then. We need to figure out a way to get Emric back.”

    “He’s not even Cassicus,” said Ilmarė. “I say let them keep him.”

    “He is a child in need,” said Sebastian. “I will not leave Emric to the vagaries of fate when Ymandragorians are about.”

    “And he’s a human child,” said Beldin. “So it is my duty to return him safe.”

    Cal struggled to his feet. “He thinks…I look like…his mother,” he said, as if that were reason enough.

    “So we regroup, and then what?” said Ilmarė. “We don’t know who those people were or where they’ve taken him.”

    “I know how we can find out,” said Kham, pointing at one of the thugs lying in the street.
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    Cast Upon Tides of Weal and Woe - Part 6: The Tempest and the Tumult

    The streets of Freeport were loud, smelly and crowded. Beggars and harlots plied their trade at all hours and without shame. Players and jugglers busked at every corner not given over to an impromptu game of knucklebones or a bout of serious drinking and social commentary by off-duty sailors. Hucksters purveyed all manner of snacks, gewgaws, gimcracks, and home remedies, wheeling their pushcarts through the throngs or vending their wares from boxes slung around their necks.

    “Who is this Captain Blax?” asked Vlad.

    “Someone important in Freeport,” said Kham. “Important enough that she would be very put out if the boy was the successor to the Sea Lord’s throne.”

    “Why?” asked Sebastian.

    “Because, if it’s true that Emric is of the val’Ossan line, his ascension to the throne would unite Freeport and Milandir,” said Kham.

    Raised voices, flying fists, and blood seemed to be the acceptable course of business in Freeport. Most alleys featured an unconscious form. Whether they were passed-out drunks or victims of illicit commerce was unclear.

    “What about the people we left in the alley?” asked Bijoux as she stepped around a body.

    “Oh, don’t worry about them. Freeport will take care of its own,” said Kham with a smirk.

    The streets were uneven and badly paved. Chamber pots were indiscriminately emptied from upper windows. Sebastian sidestepped the contents of something foul as it landed with a splash next to him.

    “I see him!” shouted Ilmarė, pointing at some commotion ahead in the crowd. There was a lot of shouting and fist-waving up ahead.

    Six rough-looking men clad in quilt doublets and bearing cudgels had cornered a trio of well-dressed young boys. One of them looked familiar.

    “Emric!” said Vlad.

    It looked as though Emric had escaped his captors, though he faced a new threat. He had changed his clothes as well. He wore a faded rust-colored doublet.

    “Alright, out of the way boys,” said Kham, pushing back his overcoat to reveal the four holstered handgonnes. He stepped through the crowd of men and grabbed Emric. “This little fellow owes me money.”

    “This is none of your business,” said one of the men. “These little bastards need to be shown some respect.”

    Behind them, Sebastian pointed at an ugly woman dumping her chamber pot out a window. Much to her surprise, the chamber pot floated out of her grasp.

    “Don’t worry,” said Kham, “I’ll teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget.”

    “I don’t think you understand,“ said the thug, thumping his club into an open palm. “If you don’t get out of the way, you’re going to get taught a lesson too.”

    Then the chamber pot splattered its contents all over the man’s head. He sputtered in rage, swung his club around blindly, and then slipped and fell in the muck.

    “I think we’ve all learned a lesson here,” said Sebastian. Vlad, Beldin, and Calactyte stepped up behind him, weapons drawn.

    The thugs scattered. Kham kept a tight grip on Emric.

    “You alright kid?” he asked.

    “Who the hell are you?” the boy attempted to wriggle out of his grasp. “I don’t owe you any money! I’ve never seen you before in my life!”

    “Something’s wrong,” said Ilmarė.

    Sebastian crouched down to look the boy in the eye. “What did they do to you, Emric?”

    “Emric?” the boy responded indignantly. “My name’s Camring. Let me go!”

    “Cassicus?” said Kham. He was starting to sound a bit desperate. “Did he say Cassicus?”

    Sebastian rose to his feet. “I fear this is neither Emric nor Cassicus.”

    “So help me Osalian, one of these children are going to be reunited with his family today,” said Ilmarė. She leaned closer to Camring’s face. “Where are your parents?”

    “I don’t have any parents,” said Camring, sulking. “But if you hurt me you’ll be in big trouble! My Uncle Thralen will teach you a lesson!”

    Vlad blinked. “Thralen? Thralen Vodric val’Ossan?”

    “That’s him.”

    “Take us to your uncle,” said Vlad.

    “And maybe we won’t bring up this business with your friends today,” said Kham with a wink.

    For the first time, Camring looked concerned. Then he led Kham by the hand down the street towards the Merchant District.
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