Knightfall's World of Kulan: Tales of the Companions Story Hour (Final Update: Sep 20, 2014)

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
The Tower of “The Sorcerer”:
Dabuk Tigerstorm paced impatiently in the anteroom of the audience chamber of Heward Tallinson. Two weeks. It had taken two weeks to get a meeting with the Sorcerer, while The Ishtar waited in dry-dock. Bactra sat on a nearby divan, his nose in an alchemical text left in the room for guest arcanists to browse. Jeddar stood looking out a reinforced glassteel window, while Dvalin and Mesik sat at a small table munching on sweetmeats and fine venison, also provided for them, while they waited for the Sorcerer.

Dabuk hadn’t spent all that time only trying to speed up discussions with the Shipbuilders League, however. He had spent several days gathering contacts that would allow him to quickly put together a crew and cargo manifest. The regulations of the Shipbuilders League were very strict, on this matter. A new ship required full approval before it’s captain could assemble a crew. It was another layer of red tape designed to tax new captains to the brink of insolvency, so that the League’s control of Fruen’s docks, ships, dockworkers, and sailors remained absolute.

Dabuk had refused to wait, however, and had slowly and quietly begun to recruit groups of hardy sailing men using his contacts in the Tiger Guild. For while the Shipbuilders League controls the docks, the Tiger Guild has the ear of the King, specifically Dabuk’s grandfather, Carl Tigerstorm. Dabuk had soon gained access to the best sailors available from the King’s fleet, at least, those King Dragonguard could spare. Once the sniveling Dock Master of the Shipbuilders League approved The Ishtar, Dabuk would quickly finish his recruitment and provisioning.

But for now, his mind was firmly on this meeting with Tallinson. The archmage was definitely a recluse in kingdom’s society of powerful noble lords and mercantile guilds. The citizens of Thallin view arcanists with much awe and respect, and the Arcane Order was almost as influential as the Tiger Guild. Dabuk knew little about the Order beyond what Bactra had told him, which wasn’t much. Bactra wasn’t important enough to gain entrance into the Order, or wealthy enough to buy his way in. Not even his association with the Tiger Guild was opening that door for him.

Tallinson and Carl were old friends, but not even the Sorcerer would go against Japheth Arcane when it came to membership into the Arcane Order. That had been what his grandfather had told Bactra when his cousin had asked the Guildmaster of the Tiger Guild, several years ago, to speak to the Sorcerer on his behalf. Bactra hadn’t known about the two old men’s friendship then, but after Stephan Kassadine had mentioned Heward’s friendship with the Tigerstorm Family Bactra had realized that he’d been asking a lot from Carl’s old comrade in arms.

Bactra was content to sit and wait for the man he’d wanted to meet for so long. The book, a fascinating study of the craft of alchemy, was one of the most engrossing manuscripts on the subject he’d ever seen. And the book was written in the Sorcerer’s own hand! Amazing!

Bactra watched Dabuk pace out of the corner of his eye, while at the same time taking an occasional glance towards Mesik. The hairfoot rogue was his friend, but this was the Sorcerer’s Tower, and the last thing Bactra wanted was for Mesik to filch something innocent-looking, just for the hell of it, and have it turn out to be something that Tallinson valued, greatly. Of course, the chance of this actually occurring was remote, more due to the fact that Mesik wasn’t likely to steal from an ally of the Tiger Guild than there being something that valuable in the antechamber.

Regardless, Bactra knew that Dabuk was keeping one eye on Mesik, as well.

No, what concerned Bactra more was the mood of his other two friends. They were different since their time, in their homelands, to the north. War did strange things to people, and he wondered what they had suffered through. Dvalin was less morose than Jeddar, but that could have simply been his greater age showing through. Dvalin was nearly 60 summers old, per the New Calendar, and the second oldest of the group, besides Bactra himself. The elf wizard often forgot that he was 80 years older than the dwarf, simple due to the fact Dvalin seemed older, from an “old hand” point-of-view.

Bactra could feel the sadness and weight of the world coming from his right. Jeddar stood there looking out the window towards the north, worrying. He did that a lot, and wasn’t even aware of it. Dabuk hadn’t noticed it until Bactra had pointed it out to him. The half-elven bard was troubled, to say the least, but refused to talk about it. Dvalin had told them, that being Bactra and Dabuk, to leave it alone. Jeddar would talk about it when he felt the time was right, if at all.

The war wasn’t going well in the Kingdom of the Silver Leaves. Jeddar had agonized over leaving his homeland when Dvalin had come for him, at the time they had previously set. He had not wanted to go, but a promise was a promise. The Tiger Guild had taught him that, and he felt a responsibility to his other guild, the famous Bardic College of Thallin. He hadn’t been back to “sing to his superiors”, so to speak, about his exploits in some time, and knew he’d put his guild responsibilities on the backburner long enough. And once he’d heard what Dabuk and the others were planning to do, he knew he had to go with them.

Plus, he’d wanted to see Minx again.

Jeddar rubbed the medallion around his neck, unconsciously, as he thought about his old flame. He had enthralled Minx the moment they met, even to the point of her distancing herself from Dabuk and her tight group of friends in the Tiger Guild. He’d been wary, at first, thinking Minx and Dabuk’s relationship had been more than professional, but Minx had assured him that she didn’t see Dabuk that way. Jeddar glanced over his shoulder at his friend, as the half-elven ranger paced. Even after all these years, Jeddar wasn’t sure Minx had told him the truth, not that it mattered anymore. Minx and Jeddar’s relationship had gone beyond friends and lovers.

He’d have married her a dozen times over if she’d let him.

Dabuk turned back towards the door leading into the Sorcerer’s audience chamber just in time to hear the lock click and the door swing open. A young apprentice stepped out, made sure he had their complete attention, and then spoke.

“Master Tallinson will see you now.”

* * *
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Meeting Heward Tallinson:
Bactra couldn’t hide how nervous he was. He had heard stories about the Sorcerer for as long as he’d been a member of Tiger Guild. In truth, Tallinson wasn’t an actual sorcerer; he was a traditional arcanist – if you can call one of the most powerful wizards in all of the Eastern Shores traditional.

In fact, he was said to be an archmage who knew every spell stored in Mathghamhna, the College of Wizardry. Many said he was even more powerful than Japheth Arcane, the Chancellor of the Arcane Order, but no one would dare ask either man such a question.

Thus, Bactra was embarrassed, to say the least, when Dabuk pushed his way past the young apprentice before the young human could announce them to Master Tallinson. And what came out of Dabuk’s mouth after that made Bactra cringe.

“It’s about time,” Dabuk fumed, as he stepped into the Inner Sanctum of the Regent of External Concerns of the Arcane Order. “I don’t care how powerful this wizard thinks he is, I refuse to treated like a serf, or worse some prattling nobleman’s whelp.”

Dabuk walked into the circular, domed chamber like the owned the place. He didn’t even notice the apprentice’s anger. Nor did he notice the two gargoyle golems perched just inside, to either side of the doorway, guardians against unwanted intruders. Both gargoyles cocked their heads towards the young ranger until a voice echoed across the room, from some point unseen.

“Let him be,” Dabuk couldn’t see the speaker but could hear the man’s voice as if he’d spoken directly in his ear. The voice seemed to be coming from behind several large semicircular bookcases. “He and his companions are my guests, regardless of his mocking tones.”

The two golems settled back onto their perches, unmoving as stone statues. Bactra rushed forward an grabbed Dabuk’s arm, while Dvalin, Jeddar and Mesik hovered near the door, unsure of what to make of the two golems.

“Dabuk,” Bactra hissed in his cousin’s ear. “You promised to behave yourself! Don’t embarrass me!”

“Forget it!” Dabuk pushed Bactra away. “I’m not going to let this Tallinson person intimidate or belittle us. You might be in awe of this man, but I am not.”

“Still brash and opinionated,” The voice carried across the chamber once again, this time sounding nearer, closer to the edge of the open, central floor of the chamber, where the two cousins stood. “I would have thought that your grandfather would have knocked more sense into that hard head of yours, Dabuk Tigerstorm.”

“You speak like you know me, wizard.” Dabuk scanned the room for any clue or sign of the wizard’s location. He could find none.

“We have never met, but I know you all the same. You have the look of your father, and the soul of your mother.” The voice’s echo seemed to be moving away from the companions, as if the speaker was right in front of them.

And then, out of nowhere, without any flash or ceremony, the Sorcerer stood before them holding a small book in one hand and wine goblet in the other. He wore the robes of a scholar and his features were plain and serene. And yet, all of them could sense the power that flowed through this man, and even Dabuk couldn’t shake the strange feeling he was in the presence of greatness.

“You, you knew my mother?” Dabuk could hardly believe it. She had loathed human cities and Fruen, in particular; the smell and all. “She never mentioned meeting you.”

“It was a long time ago,” Tallinson looked up from his book and locked eyes with the young ranger.

“Please sit, and tell me of your trip to the west. I am eager to hear of news from that side of the continent. After you have done so, then I will answer your questions about the Fallenlands and the item you seek.”

A circle of divans stood in the center of the room where none had been before. Tallinson had not moved to cast a spell or intoned any incantations. Dabuk and Bactra sat down, while their friends continued to stand near the door.

“Are your friends going to join us?” Tallinson looked to Bactra for a response. “Or are they just going to stand back there.”

“Damn it, will you three come over here and sit down. You’re acting like you’ve never met a wizard before.” Dabuk’s voice was calmer but still irritated.

“Boy, I’ve met more wizards in my lifetime, already, than you’ll ever meet.” Dvalin kept staring at the two golems. “It’s these things that worry me. Such creations are unnatural.”

“I assure you, Dvalin Thunderstone, they will not act unless I order it. Their programming is simple but effective.” Tallinson motioned to the divans before taking a sip of his wine. “You are quite safe here, son of Brekk.”

“You know my father?’ Dvalin turned with a start, his mouth agape.

“Indeed, as well as yours and yours.” Tallinson motioned to both Bactra and Jeddar. “I met them all during the time of the Second Ogre War.”

“Wait a minute, you know all our parents?” Bactra couldn’t believe his ears. “But I thought it was Carl who was your old friend.”

Jeddar and Dvalin quickly made their way to a divan, enraptured by the arcanist’s words. Mesik hid a smile as he took a place next to Bactra.

“Well, I only met your mother once or twice, and she never really took a shining to me. And I don’t know Mr. Tindertwig’s parents, at all. But yes, I know Minonus Redwater, I know Brekk Thunderstone, I know Menkhar Silversun, I know Garth Tigerstorm, and yes, I know Carl too.”

“And you knew my mother,” Dabuk shook his head in disbelief. “So, why did take so long to get an audience with you?”

“I have many responsibilities, Dabuk. I can’t just cancel my daily calendar at the drop of the hat, regardless of past friendships. And it is only the fact that your parents are old friends of mine that are you are here. If you had been anyone else, then you’d have been dismissed as being not worth my time. So please don’t waste it with stupid questions, young man!”

“All right, you make a good point.” Dabuk grinned. “You want to know about what happened during our journey to the west, then listen to this.”

Hours passed as Dabuk, Bactra, and Mesik each took turns telling the story of their trip to Onaway, the dangers they faced, the time they spent in the city, and of Tallinson’s old friend and his family. They told the stories with good humor, a bit of embellishment, and lots of dramatic flair. Jeddar and Dvalin were as transfixed as Heward Tallinson, as they hadn’t heard the whole story from beginning to end. Dvalin became morose as Mesik told of Thessa’s close call in the river, and Jeddar laughed so hard, at Bactra’s description of Mesik running through the streets of Onaway, naked, as the guards chased him, that wine came out of his nose.

“Aw, why did you have to tell them that?” Mesik was red as a beet.

“It was funny,” Bactra laughed.

“Oh m-man, I’m going to have to write a s-song about that.” Jeddar was laughing so hard he started gasping.

“You do and I’ll kill you!” Mesik threw a pillow at the bard.

“You three had quite the time, it sounds. And I’m glad to hear that Stephan and his family survived the war. I tried several times to contact him, magically, but never got a response. I wonder?”

“What?” Bactra sensed some magical mystery.

“Nothing, nothing. It’s a matter for me to look into. You all have other plans. What do you want to know about the Fallenlands, besides where is it?”

“What is Ogrebane, exactly?” Dabuk spit out the words before anyone could speak.

“Of that, I’m not completely sure. It’s an artifact of some kind with the power to slay giants and giant-like creatures. Its name, translated from the racial language of a friend of mine, from the Fallenlands, is Ogrebane, but that’s not a literal translation.”

“But you believe its enchanted to slay giants, ogres in particular?”

“That is why I spent so much time searching for information about it. I’m not even sure if it is a physical weapon. At the time, there wasn’t much Zepp could tell me about it, or its history. The politics of his people can be complicated.”

“Zepp, what kind of name is Zepp?”

It is Nagw, the language of a race known as the nagpa. They are an old race, nearly as old as the Fallenlands themselves. I met Zepp while traveling on a spelljammer, on the other side of the world.”

“There’s that word again. What is a spelljammer? Is it some kind of fancy air balloon, right?” Mesik asked

“No, more like an sailing ship that flies through the air, magically.”

“Really, could we get to the Fallenlands in one? Could our ship be enchanted in such a manner?” Dabuk hoped the answer was yes.

“You wouldn’t be able to afford it. I can’t even afford such a ship.”

“Okay, scratch that idea.” Bactra sighed. “So, we have to travel through the Black Storm Sea somehow, without dying, drowning, or having our souls sucked away by the negative energy of the storms. And then we have to find something called Ogrebane, which may or may not even exist or be a physical thing, and bring it back to Harqual through the Black Storm Sea, once again.”

“That sounds about right,” Tallinson smiles. “You sure you want to risk all that for something that might not even exist anymore?”

“I’m going,” Dabuk’s words are absolute.

“I see. Well, then here is some good news. Zepp doesn’t live on the Fallenlands continent anymore. He relocated to an island, south of Harqual, many years ago. You can find him there living amongst the natives of the island. He’ll be able to tell you more about the Fallenlands than I ever could, as well as how you should be able to navigate the Black Storm Sea.”

“Well, there is some good news, at last.” Dabuk sighed.

“How do we get there?” Mesik asked. “Please tell me you have a map.”

“I only have a rough idea of where the island is, and I can have one of my illuminators make you a rough map, but you’re going to have to do some research in the lands of the Far South, before you sail south. The last thing you want to do is get lost on the way there. There are places south of the Hallian Sea best left unexplored.”

“Great, that’s just great.” Jeddar sulked, as he pushed himself deeper into the cushions of his divan. “Why can’t we just save some lady in distress?”

“Hey, natives mean exotic native girls.” Mesik couldn’t help poking fun at his friend.

“Hmm, intriguing.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Tallinson laughed. “Just looking at a chiefs daughter wrong can mean you’ve just married her.”

“Great, another beauty to add to my harem.” Jeddar laughed.

“Jeddar, you have a one track mind.” Dvalin shook his head disapprovingly.

“What’s your point?”

“Seriously, be careful when dealing with island natives. Some of them, but not all of them, are headhunters, and some are cannibals.”

Silence.

“Warning heard and understood.” Jeddar’s face went white when he heard the word ‘cannibals’.

“Yikes! What are we getting ourselves into?” Bactra looked to his friends for reassurance. All he got were more worried looks, except for Dabuk. The ranger’s face remained poised and impossible to read.

“So, does this island have a name?” Dabuk asked calmly.

“Yes,” Heward Tallinson looked at each one, one after the other before saying it out loud. “It’s called the Isle of Dread.”

“Great,” Mesik moaned. “Just great.”

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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
The Journey Begins:
“Come on, move it you sea dogs!” Salisan Marg was a sight to behold standing on the deck of The Ishtar. The reef giant still towered over everyone else onboard even with his magical ring of shrinking. The ring once belonged to his father, and his grandfather, as well. He had hardly needed the magical trinket in the past, but after hearing that Dabuk wanted him to captain The Ishtar, he knew he would need it.

“He really is the best man for the job,” Thessa shouted in Dvalin’s ear, while Mesik covered his own. “The crew won’t be able to make excuses that they can’t hear him.”

“Aye, not unless they go deaf from his yelling.” Dvalin laughed. He laughed again while watching Mesik stuffed cotton in his ears. “He’s already making Mesik’s head spin.”

Dvalin watched as the sailors jumped like frightened rabbits at the sound of their new captain. If any of them had problems taking orders from a giant they were either keeping it to themselves or too scared to say anything. Dvalin knew that Salisan’s bark was worse than his bite, and that the good-hearted giant would never abuse the men, but a little fear was good for them at this point. They would learn to respect Salisan and the giant man would reward them for it.

Dvalin patted Mesik on the shoulder with a smile and brushed his hand against Thessa’s as he moved towards several crates that needed to be loaded. Rikin was already hard at work carrying a cask of water on his back, up the gangplank. Dvalin lifted a crate of foodstuff with ease and joined his blood brother in helping the sailors load The Ishtar. Neither of them would be required to do such work on this voyage, but as dwarves they felt it was their duty to pitch in wherever possible. They would be poor sailors, but their strength would be invaluable.

Only Salisan was stronger, and he worked alongside his men with a stern word one moment and hearty laugh the next. He was able to do the work of three men, without even straining himself, and felt that the men would respect him more if he worked alongside them. Yes, it would not be long until the men respected Salisan like they had been sailing with the giant for years.

Thessa and Mesik would only be passengers, for the most part. They would need Thessa’s skills as healer before the journey was over and Mesik’s skills as a mapmaker would be essential. Dvalin was glad to have both of them along for very different reasons. Mesik was the only person that Dabuk would listen to sometimes, while Dvalin’s need for Thessa to come along was more personal.

Dvalin knew he was in love with Thessa, and that he would give his life for her in heartbeat. He also knew she felt the same way, but that she’d rather they live a long life together. His guilt was as plain as the agony on his face. He had a commitment to marry another, but now knew he’d never be able to go through with it. He’d rather live and die as an exile from his homeland, staying with Thessa as long as Fate allowed.

Dvalin tried to keep a positive attitude about the whole thing, but he was sure that Rikin knew that he’d given his heart to Thessa. He looked at his friend working on the other side of the ship with a forlorn sigh. Someday, very soon, he’d have to make a choice and it would lead to blows with his blood brother. Rikin would not understand.

“You need to cheer up,” Bactra had been standing behind Dvalin watching the dwarf work in misery. “You’ll bring the crew down with that long face of yours.”

“I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get through this?” Dvalin sighed. “I’m so torn it’s killing me.”

Bactra patted his friend’s arm, and stepped up beside him, offering him a waterskin. Almost an hour had passed since Dvalin carried his first crate onboard. He’d thrown himself into his work and had done almost as much work as two sailors.

“You have to follow your heart, my friend. Wherever it leads. Rikin will do the same, and I doubt it will ever lead to you two becoming enemies. He cares about you too much to let Sannl’s jealousy get in the way.”

“I wish I could believe that,” Dvalin finished stacking several crates, and two sailors began tying down the cargo. “If it was just that woman’s jealousy that was the issue then I could see Rikin telling her to get stuffed, but she’s the High Thane now. Rikin has sworn an oath that he cannot break without forfeiting his honor, and maybe even his life.”

“Trust in Fate, my friend.” Bactra left Dvalin to continue his work.

* * *
 

Mahtave

First Post
Good to see another one of your story hours making a comeback Knightfall! I hope all of this writing means that you are feeling better.

Eagerly waiting more!
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Mahtave said:
Good to see another one of your story hours making a comeback Knightfall! I hope all of this writing means that you are feeling better.

Eagerly waiting more!
Much. :cool:

However, getting back nito my story hours is more about flexing my writing skills. I'm going to start attending classes, part-time and at night, in January. The classes are part of Professional Writing course that I want to get into. (I'm starting as an outreach student.)
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
The Journey Begins (cont.)

Dabuk watched as Salisan and the two dwarves worked alongside the rest of the crew. He knew Salisan had been the right choice for this mission, and was giving the reef giant free reign to captain the ship however he wanted, within reason.

This was still Dabuk’s ship, or more correctly it was the Tiger Guild’s ship and he and Mesik were in senior members onboard. Over half the crew were loyal to the guild and his grandfather. They would follow Salisan’s orders to the letter because loyalty to the guild demanded it.

Dabuk knew he’d been fortunate. Carl Tigerstorm had approved this mission, when everything in Dabuk’s bones had told him that his grandfather wouldn’t back him in his quest. Of course, Dabuk soon realized that his grandfather had his own motives in financing the journey. The Tiger Guild was one of the best spy guilds in the Eastern Shores, and the King relied heavily on Carl, his old friend.

This mission would be about gaining as much information on the lands of the Far South, the Isle of Dread, and this place known as the Fallenlands. Dabuk and Mesik were to bring back as much information as they could obtain without raising suspicion from the members of the crew not associated with the guild.

Dabuk nodded to Bactra as his cousin walked past him on the quarterdeck and down the wooden stairs to the main deck. He hated keeping things from his cousin and rest of his friends. He knew they’d be mad once they found out the mission had a secondary, unsavory agenda. Dabuk looked towards Fruen’s docks, wondering where one of those friends was.

“Dvalin,” Dabuk turned to his friend. “Are you sure he’s coming?”

“That’s what he told me, lad.” Dvalin held three ropes tight while the two sailors working alongside him secured the extra cargo at the back of the quarterdeck near the davit for the ship’s boat. “You know him, always fashionably late.”

“Well, he better hurry up or I’m going to leave him behind.” Dabuk scowled. “Even Hugh is here already.”

Dabuk knew the vonakyndra was working on the lower deck, helping to stow away the bulk of ship’s cargo. The giant elf man would have to sleep down there too, as there wasn’t room for him anywhere else. Salisan would have to bunk alongside Hougwarth, as well, regardless of the reef giant’s special ring. The Master’s Cabin would be for Bactra, Dabuk, and Mesik. The ship was going to be crowded.

“You’d never do that, and you know it.” Dvalin smiled. “Having him around will be good for morale. He might prefer swordplay but that bard can sing better than any I’ve heard.”

“I know, but I wish he could be on time for once.”

Dabuk looked back towards the docks just in time to see his half-sister walking towards the gangplank. He couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at her appearance. She’d always dressed in dark clothes and the trappings of a necromancer, but now, now she looked more like a cleric of Ramara. And she didn’t look like she was just visiting. She looked like she was planning to come along. She barely acknowledged him as she stopped short of walking onto the gangplank. Half the sailors were gawking at her, half in fear and half in lust.

“Permission to come aboard, Captain Marg.” Crystal Tigerstorm looked directly at the reef giant, daring him to deny her access to the ship.

“Permission granted,” Salisan replied while looking out of the corner of his eye towards Dabuk. He wasn’t sure if Dabuk wanted her along, but he knew that if she was here that her grandfather wished it. “I’m always glad to have more arcane power on my side when traveling towards peril.”

“Glad to have you along cousin,” Bactra nodded to Crystal with a raised eyebrow, noting her new, revealing garments. “What made you decide to join our group of misfits on this quest?”

“Grandfather thought you all might need my help. No offense too you’re magical talents, cousin.” Crystal’s smile lit up the deck and when she flipped her hair several nearby sailors looked like they were going to start drooling.

“Back to work you lecherous dogs,” Salisan roared. “There will be none of that sort of rude behavior on this ship or I’ll have the whole lot of you doing drills until dusk every night! Now, move!”

“Y-yes, sir.” One of sailors looked like he was going to trip over his tongue.

“Now, Miss Crystal, I suggest you wait in the wardroom until we’re ready to set sail. I need the men to concentrate harder on their work, at the moment. And I do hope you have something more appropriate to wear, something that won’t get waterlogged.”

“Of course, I don’t mind at all. And I have just the thing. I keep a wide variety of garments in my haversack.” Crystal wasn’t shy about showing off her beauty, and gave Mesik a wry smile as she entered the wardroom.

“Well, this should be interesting.” Mesik sighed.

“I think she looked great.” Thessa giggled. “Perhaps she can give me some tips on improving my wardrobe.”

Both Dvalin and Mesik’s eyes bugged out at the thought of Thessa dressing like Crystal. Bactra rolled his eyes at the thought of Crystal usurping his place as the ship’s primary arcanist. Dabuk put his sister out of his mind as soon as she left the main deck. He’d accept her presence because he had to, not because he liked it. If Carl wanted her to sail with The Ishtar then so be it. His mind was more on his other friend who was taking his sweet time.

“Damn, where is that bard?” Dabuk grumbled. “Jeddar, wherever you are, you’re really testing my patience.”

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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
The Journey Begins (cont.)

Jeddar rolled over in bed with a yawn. For a moment he wasn’t sure where he was, but then he heard that voice he loved.

“Bored with me already, dearest.” Minx stretched out her hands over the half-elf bard’s bare chest.

“Never, a’maelamin.” Jeddar’s heart leapt at her touch and he wrapped his hands in hers. “You could never bore me Minx.”

“You need to go,” she kissed him on the cheek with a sigh. “They won’t wait for you forever.”

“I wish you could come with us,” Jeddar rolled her over and buried his face in her ample chest. “But I don’t think the others would approve of our late night activities aboard ship.”

“I’d love to fight by your side, but my place is here. The Tiger Guild needs my expertise in the north. The Wind Cities are in turmoil right now.”

“When aren’t those lands in turmoil?” Jeddar knew he’d never convince her. Her loyalty to the guild was paramount, in her mind. “Sometimes I think that old guildmaster wants to keep us apart.”

“It’s not like that,” Minx gasped as he nibbled her tender bits. “I volunteered.”

Jeddar pulled back with a look on his face that would tear out your heart. He couldn’t believe she would do this. He would be gone for a long time and she was letting him go.

“You volunteered”, Jeddar got up from the bed and began gathering up his clothes. “I can’t stand you sometimes! You are so arrogant and selfish! This is an important mission and we could really have used your help!”

“Gods, you are so dramatic sometimes.” With one bound out of the bed she tackled Jeddar and wrestled him to the floor. “You call me arrogant and selfish and yet you think that I should go everywhere you do. It doesn’t work that way, dearest. I have my life, and you have yours. Why you can’t just be happy with time we do have together I’ll never understand.”

All the fight left Jeddar the moment he found himself staring into those two perfect pools of amber. He loved Minx more than he could have ever thought possible. His friends, his homeland, his troubles seemed a world away when he was with her. He’d leave her because he had to, not because he wanted to. His friends needed him more than she ever would, which made it even harder to leave her.

She smiled, fluttered her eyes, and then kissed him hard. They pitched and rolled on the floor like The Ishtar would on the high seas. Jeddar broke their embrace for a moment panting.

Mela en' coiamin.”


* * *


Two figures stalked the docks near The Ishtar with two very different purposes. One watched the captain, crew, and passengers with intense interest, while the other looked for an opening to sneak aboard the sailing ship. Neither saw each other and no one noticed them.

* * *
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
The Journey Begins (cont.)

Jeddar stepped out onto the city streets with a sigh and a smile. He’d miss Minx deep inside, but he’d go on and do his part for the ship and his friends. He strolled down the streets and alleys of the city of Fruen whistling a sea shanty he’d learned his first year as a student of the Bardic College. It was a popular tune in the city and as he passed through the throng several of the city’s citizens gave a laugh and waved to the bard.

In Fruen, Jeddar was becoming quite famous. He knew he’d never starve in this city and could count on the patronage of the lower caste for his bread and butter. The local nobles were less enamored to the Bard of Blades, but that had to do more with Jeddar’s cutting wit and many admirers amongst the daughters of Fruen’s noble houses.

Yes, Jeddar was more than famous in Fruen he was infamous!

Several street urchins began singing the shanty’s chorus and Jeddar unbelted one of his sheathed swords and pretended to strum it like a lute.

“Give me a sword and a ship to sail
and I'll never come home again,
I'll travel the waves and kiss the maids
and fight a hundred men,
I don't know why I’m leaving, lass,
I don’t know where or when,
But give me a sword and a ship to sail
and I'll never come home again.”


As Jeddar neared the docks, he had an entire crowd pacing alongside him as his voice rose above the din of dockworkers working and street vendors selling their wares.

“I left my home soon after
and I bought myself a sword,
I fought for silver and for gold,
I built up quite a hoard,
And so I went down to the wharf
and bought a boat and then,
I had me a sword and a ship to sail,
and I never went home again.”


Jeddar unsheathed his sword and jumped up on a cart heading towards The Ishtar. He flourished with his blade in the air and hoped up and down on the cart like a typical sailor. He sung the chorus twice before jumping off and tumbling past several annoyed members of the local watch. The watchmen were not his fans, and they took their job way too seriously.

Jeddar continued to sing and prance about, all the while avoiding the pleas of the constables for him to stop singing, and stirring up trouble. He ignored them, as he ran down a side street doing cartwheels and back flips. Several street vendors blocked the watch as they tried to pursue him towards the dockyards.

After checking that the watch was nowhere in sight, he sheathed and buckled on his sword. He sang the next verse in harmony with several nearby sailors.

“O’er many years I’ve plied the seas,
I’ve seen nigh every sight,
I’ve cut the throats of men by day,
loved lasses in the night,
I’ve fought and drunk and learned far more
than many a wise man’s ken,
And with my sword and a ship to sail,
I’ll never go home again.”


By the time he arrived near The Ishtar he had dozens of sailors and wenches walking and singing with him. They improvised several verses before Jeddar climbed to the top of an unlit lamppost and jumped to a nearby balcony to avoid several watchmen that appeared out of nowhere. He sung the last two verses as he walked along the railing.

“The sea has always been my love,
the blade has been my life,
But one morn after too much wine,
I woke up with a wife,
And, alas, she kept me home
and clucked at me like a hen,
So I gave her a sword and a ship to sail
and she never came home again.

And now I’m old and stooped and gray,
my eyesight’s growing dim,
But when I die, I’ll happily go,
I won’t be glum or grim,
For I have seen the great wide world,
I didn’t stay in my den,
‘Cause I got me a sword and a ship to sail,
and I never went home again.”


With that he took out his blades, put one between his teeth, cut a nearby rope anchor of a large block & pulley used for shipbuilding and used it to swing out onto the deck of The Ishtar. The crew cheered, Salisan laughed with joy, and even Dabuk cracked a smile. Jeddar finished the song with the chorus, and the entire crew sung along.

“Give me a sword and a ship to sail
and I'll never come home again,
I'll travel the waves and kiss the maids
and fight a hundred men,
I don't know why I’m leaving, lass,
I don’t know where or when,
But give me a sword and a ship to sail
and I'll never come home again.”


Jeddar turned towards the docks and bowed with a flourish of his swords before turning to Salisan Marg and saluting.

“Jeddar Silversun reporting for duty, Captain Marg.”

“HA! HA!” Salisan gave the bard a big bear hug. “Glad to have you with us, my friend.”

The sight of the giant captain, even reduced, and a look of scorn from Mesik sent the watchmen scouring back to their posts. The reach of the Tiger Guild was long and undisputed. For without the guild, crime would be rampant throughout the city.

Salisan put the bard down and barked out to the crew to stop singing and start working. One by one, the companions came and shook the bard’s hand. Dvalin slapped the bard on the back and even Crystal came out of the wardroom to give Jeddar a hug and a smile.

The last too praise the performance of the Bard of Blades was Dabuk, who simply shook his friend’s hand with a wry smile.

“So, can we go now?” Dabuk cracked wise just as the din was dying down.

The companions all laughed.

* * *

Note: The song Jeddar is singing is called "Give me a Sword and a Ship to Sail (And I'll Never Come Home Again)". I got it from an old issue of Dragon Magazine.
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Meanwhile...

Jeddar’s performance was all one of the skulkers needed to slip onto the ship unseen. She dropped down into the hold while all eyes were on him as he swung onto the ship. There, she hid herself amongst the tied down cargo, ducking under a tarp.

“You’re not leaving me behind this time,” she whispered to herself.

* * *
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Agent of Evil:
The second skulking figure watched silently from his hiding spot on the docks, as The Ishtar pulled up anchor and set sail away from Fruen. He waited until the ship has passed beyond the sea walls of the harbor before beginning the long walk towards The Black Pony near the city's graveyard.

As he walked he split his mind with his schism ability, so that he could organize his thoughts on everything he'd seen and heard. He knew that she would brook no errors in his report on The Ishtar and its crew. She had taken the “heroes” interference in Onaway very personally and wanted the young Tigerstorm's head on a platter. They would all suffer, for their insolence, but torturing the half-elven ranger would be her special pleasure.

As the man approached the cross street, just north of the graveyard, he stopped and scanned the crowded streets for anyone that might be following him or watching the graveyard. If he led anyone to the secret headquarters of the Opposition, under the Pony, then his life would be over. The others would make sure of that. He immediately spotted two street toughs prowling near the edge of the graveyard. They were obviously from one of the local thieves' guilds. For months, those lowbrow bullies had been trying to uncover the “secret guild” operating out this area of the city without any luck.

The Opposition agent knew that he'd need to deal with them before heading towards The Black Pony. He stepped out into the street, looking for an easy mark to pickpocket. A young noblewoman walked by, heading in the right direction. The man fell in behind her waiting for an opportunity to snatch some minor trinket. He made sure the two rogues were aware of his presence, and his intentions. He managed to slip off one of the lady's rings without her knowledge, and then he ducked into a nearby alley.

He drew his serrated dagger, poisoned it, and waited for the two men to come to him. They'd never stalk the streets for anyone ever again, and the man would make sure the bodies were properly displayed for some unsuspecting soul to find.

* * *
 

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