"Second Son of a Second Son" - An Aquerra Story Hour (*finally* Updated 04/19)


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How is everyone liking the pace of posts?

Too fast? Too slow? Just right?

I am planning for another one tonight. . .

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Session #2 – “The Road South” (part 2 of 3)

The Slutelot Canal was first made by the people of the Sunra Kingdom during the Third Age, in an era called “the Time of the Six Kingdoms”. Records of how they were able to accomplish such a feat of engineering are incomplete, but in 239 H.E. construction began to re-create it, and now it runs nearly forty miles, connecting the Captured Sea with Drie-Hoek Bay, to bring the goods of inner Thricia to the outer islands and the world. Old Town Bridge is approached from the north by a winding ramp that climbs to a height sufficient to cross the canal, and at its center, thick hinged metal plates could be drawn open by oxen, allowing very tall-masted ships to pass through.

Bleys, Laarus, Markos, Telémahkos, Timotheus and Victoria rode their horses over the bridge. They were waved past lines of peasants with hay filled carts waiting to get into the town, and laden merchant wagons waiting to get out of town by the bridge guard. Nobles and esteemed priests would not be made to wait or pay the toll. A light rain began.

The other side of the bridge had a similar winding stone ramp that led to the narrow shore of the canal, just north of South Wall. ‘South Wall’ was actually two walls, and they were made to walk their horses through one gate and then nearly half a mile to the west before emerging from the gate in the southernmost of the two walls.

On their right, between them and the distant emerald sheen of the Captured Sea were rolling farmlands as far as distant dirty-looking hills that caressed the southeastern edge of the sea. As they rode southward, the land on their left gave way to tall beach grasses and the sound of the bay lapping against the island’s eastern shore welcomed them. At mid-morning a sandy track diverted to the left and the followed it noting a hand painted wooden sign declaring it the Beach Road. Soon they were following a trail within sight of the bay. It wound around tall basalt outcroppings in many places, or else was washed away in a spray of sand and surf. Sudden gusts of wind sent fat raindrops clattering violently against the pea green sea.

Laarus and Timotheus led the way, with Victoria and Bleys taking the rear; the latter bringing the packhorse along as well. Telémahkos and Markos took up the middle rank.

As they approached mid-day, the rain let up and they saw a group of fishermen repairing a net near the surf. Telémahkos rode ahead to talk with them, Timotheus riding up behind him.

“Hail and well met!” Telémahkos called to them.

“Hail good sirs! Taking the Beach Road are ya? Brave men… Brave men…” The old fisherman chuckled. He was missing a good number of teeth, and only had patchy steel gray hair on his wrinkled head. The others were younger and fitter, wearing tall leather boots and kilts.

“Yes, we heard there were dangers on the road,” Telémahkos replied. “But you are here and working unharassed…”

“We’re still within a day’s ride of the Old Town, as you well know,” the old fisherman said. “But after a day… Well, it does get a bit rougher…”

“In what way?” Telémahkos asked.

“What kinds of dangers might we expect?” Timotheus asked. Bleys rode up as well.

“Ya know, the usual… Greenbacks… Ya know, Lizzies, right? And the froggies sometimes…”

“Greenbacks? You are referring to lizardfolk?” Bleys said. (1)

“Aye,” the man spat.

“And the froggies?” Timotheus asked.

“The ‘wugs, sir,” the man replied. “And of course, damn Weirspierogener brigands! Pfah!”

Telémahkos looked to Timotheus.

“They hide in the bogs on the far side of the track and leap out atch’ya,” the fisherman went on to explain.

“And the lizardfolk attack travelers as well?” Bleys asked.

“Ach! Who knows? Half the time they want to eat ya, that other half they wanna trade ya a bone necklace!” The fishermen all laughed.

“Wanna buy some fish? Only three coppers,” asked one of the younger men, holding up a line of seven fish, each about seven inches long. Telémahkos nodded.

The Signers of the Charter of Schiereiland ate the lunch provided by Barton Digits in shade of a tall bluff. As they mounted to ride on, they noted large wagons up on what must have been the High Road. But as evening fell, the High Road was far from sight again, and they made camp in a wedge of black stone, which helped to hide the fire from the road and the distant bluff. They cooked the fish on the fire, and then split into watches.

Markos and Bleys took first watch, and the watch-mage showed the sailor how to brush down and care for his horse. Wise use of prestidigitation made the cleaning portion much easier, and Markos ended up taking care of everyone else’s horses.

Telem, the 13th of Sek – 566 H.E. (637 M.Y.)

A day and half later, the companions broke their second camp. This one was in spot set back from the breach, where a narrow stream of fresh water trickled into the sea.

“We saw some boat traveling north in the night,” Bleys told the others. “It was small galley of some kind, and set with torches on its sides.”

“I think it was a ferry going to Sluetelot,” Markos reasoned. The others shrugged, and the journey southward continued.

At mid-morning Victoria spotted a great plume of dust, as some group of riders passed the up on the bluff, which the Beach Road had veered inland and close to once again. The bluff itself was becoming less and less of a sheer cliff, and descended slowly and unevenly towards the beach to the south. She mentioned it to the others, but no one seemed to care much.

It was a couple of hours later when another cloud of roiling dust appeared up on what was left of the bluff. Now the way up was not nearly as steep and tall beach grass shored up the slope. They could see a handful of riders coming down in their direction.

“Stay alert! Riders!” Timotheus called to the others.

“Look at the standard! Yellow and black, the colors of House Swann,” Telémahkos said.

“Just because they appear to be of House Swann does not mean they are,” Bleys warned.

“I shall greet them,” Victoria Ostrander spurred her light warhorse forward, past the others and soon was many yards ahead.

“Victoria! Wait! No!” Timotheus called, but the eager Militant of Anhur was already galloping away. He increased his own pace, and Bleys moved up between Markos and Telémahkos, who fanned out.

Victoria could see the lead rider was a man of slender build; he wore a chain shirt with a yellow and black tabard over it. He was guiding his horse down the treacherous slope with the lightest touch of his reins, as he had a short bow resting on the saddle pommel before him, an arrow bouncing up and down with the horse’s gait, but no doubt a half-moment from where it was to string and then to air.

There were six other riders, five of which were in studded leather, with dirty but young-looking faces. They wore similar tabards, all with a quartered field, the black swan of House Swann in the top left, and a gull hovering over a stylized curling wave in the bottom right.

“Hail! Who travels the Beach Road?” called the lead rider, slowing his pace. Victoria could not see his slender features that betrayed the elven heritage of some near ancestor.

“I am Victoria Ostrander, Militant of Anhur, and these are my companions!” she announced.

“Signers of the Charter of Schiereiland!” Timotheus added as he finally caught up. The others slowed way down, as the armored riders fanned out. They saw the rider closest the half-elf was a grizzled middle-aged main a suit of chain mail. He bore the standard.

“I am Lieutenant Lorkas Twelf, we hail out of Gullmoor, a keep of House Swann, in search of brigands who have been causing trouble in the vicinity of Bog End, which is where we most recently ride from,” the half-elf said.

“I am Timotheus Smith of House Briareus, as is my cousin, Telémahkos,” the tall blond smiled and gestured to Telie, who waved. Laarus and Bleys rode forward, but Markos hung back with Telie.

The others introduced themselves as well.

“We have seen no sign of brigands,” Timotheus said. “Did you chase them from nearby?”

“We have not seen them,” Lorkas said. “We were told of their presence and sought them out. We think they have a hideout nearby on the beach somewhere, but we are not sure where… Though we did track them on the High Road…”

“Is that the High Road right there?” Victoria asked.

“Yes,” the half-elf nodded. “You are close to where the two roads converge again, in the hamlet of Bog End.

“We are traveling to New Harbinger,” Timotheus said. “Is there some way we might help you, or some news we might carry?”

Lieutenant Lorkas hesitated, and then looked to the older-looking man in chainmail before answering. “Well, we were being led in our hunt by Sir Quintus Gosprey, when he left us to pursue some contact he felt would have information regarding the location of the brigands’ hideout… He was supposed to have caught up with us by now, but there has been no sign of him either. He returned to somewhere near Bog End, perhaps if you pass through there you might ask of him, or if you see him, send him our way…”

“Of course!” Timotheus said.

They all nodded to each other and bid their farewells, and then the two groups went their own ways.

“You should not have charged ahead like that,” Timotheus admonished the militant.

“And why not? I was not so far ahead that you all could not have caught up with me,” she sneered. “And if need be, I could have swung Argos around closed our distance in an instant.”

Timotheus just sighed and took his spot back at the front of their line.

As the afternoon dwindled towards evening, the track that was the Beach Road, turned southwestward, and the companions found themselves climbing a shrub-covered hill as the sun melted orange into the Captured Sea. The shadows were long as they passed several houses of mud and straw among some poorly constructed wooden structures. The land sunk again, and the steep way wound out slowly in a barren patch of rocks and mud, and finally merged with the hard flat stone of the High Road, coming through the tiny village from the north, continuing south by southeast.

Just beyond where the two paths converged was a dark bog that went as far as the eye could see, and built upon a dock hanging over the fetid water was a public house.

“This must be Bog End,” Timotheus said.

“Let us hurry and find out how much further to New Harbinger,” Bleys said, riding forward. “If it is not much further I would not be averse to riding on a bit into the gloom to arrive today…” The watch-mage’s words trailed off as he noticed a hut door clatter shut as they rode by. He made note of which it was.

They could hear high spirits and angry voices from within public house. A dirty yellow sign hung from a post, showing a poorly drawn neck of some waterfowl being twisted in a cartoonish fist.

“Welcome to the Wringneck!” Timotheus laughed, as he and the others tied their horses to the post out front. There was already a light warhorse tied here. It was saddled and its legs and lower body were splattered with greenish mud.

“Don’t bother going in there,” Bleys said. “It’ll only be trouble… I will be right back.” The purple and crimson-garbed mage hurried back up the path to the door he had seen shut before.

Bleys looked back to see his companions gathering round the entrance to the pub and shook his head. He knocked softly on the door to the hut, and there was no answer, but certain he heard someone within, he knocked again.

“Who’s there?!” came the frightened voice of an old woman.

“I am Bleys the Aubergine, watch-mage,” Bleys called through the door. “My companions and I are bound for New Harbinger and wanted to know how much further it was…”

“Oh! Uh… Three or four hours south, I guess…” the woman called back.

Bleys thanked her and began to walk back to the pub, noting that at least some of his companions had gone in.

“Come on! Show us yer cunny then!” The pub exploded with laughter. Timotheus stood in the doorway, with Victoria on one side of him and Telémahkos on the other. The stench of stale sweat and beer permeated everything within. There were many small round tables and a handful of long benches, and at the far end of the one room, was a makeshift bar made from tall wooden tables, with several large casks behind it.

The clientele were common men of a range of ages from their teens to their toothless venerability, but most dirty-faced middle-aged workmen in overalls and damp boots; a few wore straw hats. There were a handful of trollops in the common room as well, hanging with loose bodices on drunken men deep in their cups, or giving a flash of a breast or a squeeze of a buttock for a spare copper as they poured drinks.

Timotheus was regarded by a broad young man with bush of wild orange hair standing by the door with his hands folded across his great chest.

At the center of the pub was a circle of five men laughing at a boy of about fourteen summers who was getting up off the ground. He had long chestnut hair in the Thrician style, and wore a chainshirt and a muddied tabard displaying the wave and gull of the Gospreys of House Swann.

“What common and ignoble men you are!” he complained in a voice that was supposed to be haughty, but was reed-thin.

“Shut up and sit back down!” said the largest of the drunken commoners about him, and he pushed the boy down with a boot to the ass. “Ya come crying to us and then you insult us?”

“You know, Bleys has the right of it,” Telémahkos said to his cousin. “We should just ask someone in a hut.”

Timotheus stepped into the tavern, and Victoria followed. Telémahkos looked around before taking a meek step in. Laarus kept an eye out for Bleys, while Markos stood in the shadow of the doorway, taking in the situation.

“Good sir!” The boy sprang to his feet, and tried to reach Timotheus, but another kick and a smack on the back of the neck, and he was on the floor again. The five men burst out in laughter, and there were grumbles and jeers from the rest of the crowd as well. The boy looked up at Timotheus. “You seem like men of some birth, will you not make them pay for failing to help a knight against the lizardfolk?”

“I got your lizardfolk right here!” One of the commoners made a lewd gesture and then bent over to grab the boy by the ankle and drag him back. A patron at an adjacent table emptied the dregs of his mug on the boy’s head as he passed. This drew more laughter from those that could see.

“You do not look like a knight…” Timotheus had to keep from laughing, looking at each of the men with narrow glare. “Tell us what is going on!”

“Unhand the boy at once!” Victoria barked, her voice as harsh as a schoolmarm’s.

“No need for violence!” There came a high-pitched voice from the front of the pub. Atop the makeshift bar stood a small and pudgy figure. It was a halfling in a soiled apron, with black curly locks and a set of impressive jowls. He wore black boots.

Timotheus looked to the young bouncer. “This is gonna get ugly if you don’t call your boys off.”

The bouncer just shrugged and shook his head, “Just don’t you dare think about weapons.” He cracked his knuckles and stared down Timotheus, being two full inches taller than the Schiereilander. Tim nodded and smiled and then charged into the group of men, seeking to drive them apart with his sheer size, but he tripped up over the first commoner, who jerked out of the way with the awkward grace only a drunk can have. Timotheus slid headfirst along the floor to an explosion of laughter from all the patrons. He scrambled to his feet.

“We are agents of the Crown! Desist at once!” Telémahkos called out in the most authoritative voice he could muster, but was met with more derisive laughter.

to be continued. . .


(1) “Greenback” and “Lizzies” are disparaging names for lizardfolk.
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Session #2 – “The Road South” (part 3 of 3)

“Laarus! Get your ass in here!” Markos tapped his cousin on the shoulder impatiently as he saw three of the commoners grabbing at Timotheus. The big man avoided two of them easily, and palmed the bald head of another shoving him back. The squire spun around to break free of the grip of another of the men and got a fist in the face.

“You dare strike the squire of a noble knight!?” the boy said, the cracking of his voice undermining his attempt at noble mean.

“All right! What’s all this then!” Laarus of Ra barked stepping into the inn.

“Get the f*ck out of the way!” Timotheus grabbed the squire in a loose headlock and began to drag the boy away from the scrum. Victoria moved to block pursuit. “Settle down,” she said. “We’ve just come for the boy. We’ll leave peacefully once he is taken from here safely.”

“Blimey! It’s a lass in armor!” said one of the commoners.

“Must be a northerner!” said another, hurrying around her to grab at Tim, but missing.

“Attention!” Markos was up on a table, a quick flash of false fire emerging from his hands. (1) “We are agents of the crown! Cease and desist as my companion has ordered or know that this establishment will be watched more closely in the future!” He was forced to duck and cover his head as the patrons sent hailstorm of wooden mugs in his direction.

“Are we leaving or are we going to make these commoners pay for their impudence?” the squire asked Timotheus, slipping from the man’s grip and standing behind him. Tim did not respond, struggling from keeping two commoners from pinning his arms, as a third sent a flurry of drunken fists in his direction.

“By the Glory of Ra!” Laarus called channeling divine energy to surround himself in a hemisphere of daylight, (2) that made some of the patrons at nearby tables rear back in fear and hide behind their chairs. “Cease and desist! Stand down!”

“DO NOT DEFY THE PRIEST OF RA!” came Bleys’ voice booming by means of his announce spell, but there was another rain of cups, some half-filled with ale. The watch-mage stepped into the inn and surveyed the scene and had the squire shoved in his direction.

“Don’t let the baldies tell you what to do!” came a weasally voice from across the inn. It was a tall lanky commoner waving a pitcher of ale in the air, sending great splashes in all directions. “We keep our own counsel in this part of Thricia!”

“They’re probably Weirspierogeners!” cried another.

“Naw, they’re northerners!” came the answer from across the pub. He pointed at Telémahkos. “Look how that one’s dressed!”

“Who asked them to come down here and innarupp our fun?” asked the one on the table.

“Shut up!” Telémahkos commanded, throwing a metal mug at the man on the table striking him right in the head.

“Bleys, this is Sir Quintus Osprey’s squire,” Tim said. “Keep him safe.” And he turned back to the brawl.

There was another rain of utensils, mugs and bowls, and Markos ran for the door, avoiding being grabbed by a corpulent patron, by Victoria’s interference. She was grabbed about the waist by the largest of the brawlers, but she forced her way free and knocked into one of the three trying to get Timotheus down on the floor for a better beating.

Laarus was surprised when a fist came his way. He avoided it only to be grabbed by two others, who pawed and ripped at the priest’s fine travel clothes.

“Stop attacking the priests you ignorant sons of whores!” Timotheus roared, pulling one arm free to slam a fist into the nose of one of the patrons grabbing at him.

“You ugly wart-covered cocks!” Markos swore, coming back into the fight to pound one of the men on Laarus in the back of the head. The man turned around surprised to find Telémahkos suddenly beside the thin-framed wizard. The blond ne’er-do-well had somersaulted off a chair, and closing his eyes punched out with an awkward fist. He felt something crunch. Telémahkos looked down to see a blood pooling out on the floor, flowing from the now unconscious man’s mouth and nose.

Suddenly happy, Telie spun around and gave the bouncer a wink.

“Are you mad? Let go of the priest!” Victoria tried to pull men off of Laarus, latching her muscular arms around one’s neck. “Timotheus! Help me!” (3)

The fight became a scramble of bodies in the center of the pub. Laarus began to drag the fight towards the door by pure strength, while Telémahkos backed away as two of the patrons came at him. Bleys told the squire to stay where he was and leapt up on the table Markos has been on just moments before, raising his arms in the air to allow his watch-mage’s robes to flair out and be seen clearly across the room.

“Fools!” He cried. “Can’t you see one of your number is hurt and may be dying?! Stop already!”`

Three of the patrons at a nearby table stood laughing and tipped over the heavy wooden table the watch-mage stood on. Bleys leapt deftly to land on his feet with the table between them, and then ran back towards the door, cursing under his breath as he went outside, followed by the squire.

“You want some of this?” Timotheus slammed his fist into the face of a patron, and could not hide his glee as the man crumpled from the blow. He spun around and shoved another back and took a swing.

Markos kicked at the men grabbing Laarus, helping the priest to free himself, as Victoria and one man stumbled away in each others arms. “Get off me!” she commanded, but he smiled and winked and pinned her arms around her and began to brush his sore–covered lips against her face.

Laarus checked on the bleeding man on the ground, calling to Ra to close his wounds in case there was a danger of his dying. (4)

“Timotheus! I could use some help over here!” Telémahkos called to his cousin, a bruise swelling up where a fist had grazed him. But three more patrons had joined the fight against the tall young man from House Briareus, angered by his cockiness.

“Telémahkos! I’m coming,” Timotheus rushed past his foes, feeling knuckles slam his temple. He turned away from the blow and drove a fist in the back of the neck of one of the men menacing his cousin. The man folded with a moan.

Using the momentary distraction Telémahkos leapt onto the end of a nearby bench as one of the men that had tipped over the table stood over it. The bench flew up between the man’s legs and he fell over with a grunt. The toga-toting young noble kicked the man in the face twice, until he stopped trying to get back up.

Markos moved over to put a man between him and Tim and kicked him right between the legs from behind. The drunken man howled and grabbed at his privates.

“People stop this madness!” It was Bleys again. He ducked as he rode Victoria’s warhorse into the bar. Everyone stopped for a half moment and looked up at him as if he were the mad one.

“No horses! Get that horse out of here!” The bouncer grabbed at the reins and the horse began to rear up.

“No horses! No horses!” the halfling proprietor’s high-pitched voice was heard to echo.

Thankfully, Bleys was a skillful enough rider to keep Victoria’s steed from kicking the bouncer’s face in. He dismounted and called to the squire. “Boy! See to this horse. We shall handle every thing here.”

“Yes, sir,” the boy said with easy deference, and he led the horse back out.

“Okay, little man, kiss this!” Victoria drove her forehead towards her opponent’s face, but the man shoved his head into the hollow of her shoulder avoiding the worst of the blow, and popped back up to kiss her again and laugh. Laarus moved to pull the man off the struggling militant of Anhur, but the man managed to spin her around to avoid the priest.

“You stay right there!” Timotheus pointed to the man still hopping around with his hands cupping his crotch and spun around to step behind a man going for Laarus. The man spun around too late and Tim’s big fist sent him down to the ale and blood covered floor.

“I give up!” said a man closer to fifty than forty who had helped topple the table. He put his hands up and stepped away from Telémahkos, but eager now, the young man took advantage of the opening and cold-cocked him, sending him down.

“You should leave fighting to men!” said the man still grappling with Victoria, but she broke free of his pin and slammed her forearm in his chest to drive him back. Another man took a swing at her, and as she stepped to avoid it, her opponent grabbed her once again. “Have you come for another dance?”

She roared in frustration.

“Good to meetcha, sir! Good to meetcha!” said a stooped greasy man with slicked long black hair and a dusty black cloak. He had a powdery pallor, and a patchwork goatee. Bleys the Aubergine nodded and stepped around him warily heading for the bar, choosing to ignore the dying melee. The watch-mage had walked calmly past the fight, ignoring patrons that grabbed or punched at him, and now this man followed closely on his heels.

“Barkeep!” Bleys looked up at the corpulent halfling still standing atop the makeshift bar to watch the brawl. “A bottle of your best wine and six glasses, please.”

“Please sir, call me Wallaby!” the halfling said, looking down. “They call me Wallaby Wringneck, though that is not my real family name, but it is the name of me place.” He leapt down behind the bar and disappeared, though his voice came out from behind it, cutting through the noise of the fight. “Now, we have no wine… At least none worthy of you and your fine companions, but we have do have a fine local brew…”

“A pitcher of that then, and some water,” Bleys cut him off. “And make sure the water is not muddy.”

“They call me Mister Tickle,” said the dark-haired man, leaning up against the bar beside Bleys.

The fight wound down. Timotheus left a trail of groaning or unconscious patrons behind him, and finally, the bouncer came over and easily peeled Victoria’s opponent from her, saying, “This fight is over.”

The drunken patrons who were at the edge of the fight began to back away at the bouncer’s words, and Telémahkos got up into the face of them, menacingly. He punch one man when he opened his mouth to speak.

“Ow! He said it was over!” the man complained.

“It’s over now,” Telémahkos retorted. He shook his the hand he had struck several people with because it was throbbing, and frowned when he noticed some skin scraped off his knuckles.

The bouncer recruited some the patrons who had fought, but were not unconscious to carry their beaten friends home, and sent others to fetch the sons of the fighters to get them.

Laarus of Ra looked over those who unconscious to make sure none of them were too seriously injured, while Telémahkos Timotheus, Victoria, and Markos joined Bleys at the bar and had some ale to slake the thirst of brawling.

One of the floozies, with long brown curly hair and most of her teeth still in her mouth took an instant liking to Telémahkos and sidled up next to him to whisper and kiss at his ear.

“We just have some spirited patrons around these parts,” Wallaby Wringneck was explaining after introducing himself to the others. “Just some good clean fighting… Nothing crazy… Keeps them from doing anything too bad… If you know what I mean… That lad just came in here at the wrong time, I guess…”

The squire introduced himself as Valerius Esmus Tarchon. He explained that he and his master Sir Quintus Gosprey had gone into the bog in search of a contact that would provide information regarding the whereabouts of some brigands they were after along with a patrol out of Gullmoor. The patrol continued north to see if they could pick up the trail, while he accompanied his master.

“Yes, we ran into the patrol on the Beach Road,” Timotheus said.

“And then we were beset by lizardfolk and he was taken away, probably to be eaten,” Valerius said. “I was able to get away, and came here to find help for him. The gods smile upon me, for you have come to my rescue from these common ruffians and now can help me rescue my master…”

“Who was this contact?” Bleys asked the boy.

“I do not know.”

“And what do you mean exactly by beset?” Bleys continued his questioning.

“They rose up out of the water on either side of the track, and Sir Quintus dismounted to talk with them, and suddenly more appeared and took hold of the reins of his horse!” The boy’s lip quivered as he spoke. The first ones grabbed him as he tried to draw his sword, and he called for me to flee, so I did so. I am certain they plan to eat him!”

“If he has not been eaten already,” Timotheus said.

The boy looked down for a moment and then back up at the young nobles. “I can lead you to where it happened. You must rescue him. I implore you!”

“I am not sure how wise it is to go wandering the bog in the dark,” Markos said. “They may have been attacked on the track, but I am sure wherever the lizardfolk took him, it was deeper into the bog…”

“We need to recruit a local to help us, perhaps,” Victoria said. “But the negatives of the situation are really quite beside the point. We have a duty to go try and save him.”

“We do?” asked Markos.

“Yes, we do,” replied Timotheus. “This is just the kind of thing we were looking for, a little adventure while helping people. And helping a son of House Swann cannot be bad for our reputation…”

“You hear that knight they are talking about? Gosprey?” The woman hanging on Telie was whispering his ear. He had an arm around her waist, and his hand clutched tightly to her ample thigh. “He’s a right bastard and doesn’t deserve to be rescued. No one here likes him. Why do you think they fell upon his squire? He is always pushing people around and he did this to me…” She pulled down her blouse to show deep black and green bruises on her breast and side. “And there are more…”

Markos walked over to the bouncer to recruit him, impressed by his strength and demeanor, but Cuttsy begged off. “I’d rather not go into the swamp at night.”

They all re-gathered out on the dock to talk it over in more privacy.

“I think it is death to go now,” Markos said. “The bouncer will not go and he is local… We should wait until morning…”

“Also…” Telémahkos looked around and then leaned in to speak quietly. The squire had been sent to ready the horses, including his own. “The barmaid has bruises from Gosprey. The villagers have good reason to not like him. I’m in no hurry to fetch him out of the swamp.”

“But if they captured him, they may have captured other people,” Timotheus reasoned.

“You make a fair point,” Telie replied.

“Have we heard of anyone else being taken?” Bleys said, shaking his head. “Something in the squire’s tale strikes me as wrong…”

“It doesn’t matter. We must go,” insisted Victoria.

“Boy! Come here!” Bleys called Valerius back over. “Is it true your master beat on that woman?” The watch-mage pointed into the pub at the serving wench.

Telémahkos’ eyes opened widely and he stepped to the side behind the squire to get the watch-mage’s attention. He cocked his head and frowned and shook it.

“Who has said such a thing about Sir Quintus?” the squire was shocked. “He is an honorable man and would do not lay his hand on such a trollop for any reason!”

“I do not think anyone wants to fight a duel over such accusations,” Telie said, his eyes were still opened wide as he gestured to his neck with an open hand.

“What is the matter with your eyes?” Bleys asked back, oblivious to his blunder.

Telémahkos sighed in frustration. Bleys walked over to one of the patrons now dragging folks out onto the dock.

“You know this area?” he asked. “You know the bog?”

“As well as can be known,” the man replied.

“And there are lizardfolk in there?”

“The greenbacks? Yeah, they showed up recently though… Maybe less than a year…”

“And they attack people?” Bleys asked.

“Not that I know of… Most smart people avoid them…” The man said.

“Will you guide us? We will pay you two pieces of silver… One now and one when we return.”

The man nodded his assent. And introduced himself as Tavius. He wore a shiner on his right eyes where Telémahkos had struck him at the end of the brawl. He was lanky and tall with the shaggy long brown hair common to Spice Islanders, and the shabby woolen and burlap clothes of a commoner, with torn high pants, and tall oilskin leather wading boots.

“Well if we must go, I am glad we have gotten us a local guide,” Telémahkos said, as Bleys returned with the man. “Though chances are if they planned to eat him, he is probably already eaten. And if we are actually voting on going, I vote against it.”

“If we are lucky perhaps they ate his horse first,” Victoria offered.

A vote was taken and it came down to a tie. Laarus, Victoria and Timotheus were for going, and Markos, Bleys and Telie felt they should wait for first light to enter the bog.

“But … But … Where is your noble spirit of adventure and righteousness?” Valerius protested. “These savage monsters have my master, and I must try to save him… With or without you…”

“Going back into that bog by yourself would be foolish…” Markos said.

“Then I must go to Gullmoor and report this to Sir’s father, and how you plan to wait until dawn to go…” The squire replied.

Telémahkos’ shoulders sagged. “Wait a minute…” He walked back over to Tavius and drew him away, whispering “I will pay you two extra silver if you take it slow… Maybe lead us through a safer part of the swamp until dawn breaks?”

“Right-o, governor!” Tavius winked. “Like a tortoise I’ll be!” Telémahkos slipped the man the coin with some sleight of hand.

“Okay! I changed my vote… Let’s go!” Telémahkos said turning to the others.

“It is a mistake, but I will abide by the group’s choice,” Markos said.

“I have to go get my pony,” Tavius said. “Or if you like, I can find a barn where you can keep your horses and we can go in on foot…”

“I would rather keep my horse with me,” Victoria said, and the others agreed. “But I shall accompany you to get your mount.”

“Have it your way!” Tavius smiled, and walked off, followed by Victoria. He took nearly forty-five minutes to return, and gave Telémahkos a wink when he did.

“He put the saddle on backwards and it had to be redone,” Victoria explained. “Twice…”

And with that, they began to walk their horses into the bog…

End of Session #2


(1) Markos used prestidigitation for this weak effect.

(2) Priests of Ra may expend a turning attempt to manifest The Glory of Ra; a daylight spell.

(3) Of course our first real fight involved a huge grapple with multiple participants. . . But at least we went over those rules and pretty much have those rules down for the future.

(4) While we still play with the 3.0 rule that any non-lethal damage beyond that needed to knock someone out becomes real damage, I mistakenly subtracted the additional real damage from 0 hps, instead of the man’s full hit points. He should not have been dying.
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Moderator Emeritus
monboesen said:
A surprising amount of the new characters come of[f] somewhat as pricks in these first updates ;)

Whaddya expect from nobility? ;)

Can you rank them in order of least to most prickish? :D


Moderator Emeritus
Session #3 – “Into the Bog” (Part 1 of 3)

Tavius led them to a broad muddy field behind the village to the west. The muck was deep, and they could see rough edge of the bog’s willows and thorny shrubs a few hundred yards ahead of them in the light of the waning moon.

“Ra smite it!” Telémahkos cursed. He had veered way off the general path Tavius led them on and his horse got one hoof stuck deep in the mud. (1) He yanked at the reins awkwardly and kicked futilely with his legs as the horse whinnied nervously.

“You didn’t need to go that far out,” Victoria said. She dismounted and walked over to help free the horse, instructing Telémahkos what to do. “No! No! You are fighting me! To the left!”

When the horse was finally freed, Timotheus had turned back, followed by Markos. Laarus of Ra rode up ahead to stop along side Bleys and talked with him in quiet tones. Ahead, Tavius and Valerius the squire waited for them.

“Telémahkos! This is ridiculous! You know if you pulled something like this when we are in a dangerous area you could get yourself killed! Or any of us!” Timotheus scolded his cousin.

“He was just stuck for a moment. He is free now,” Victoria said, taken aback by Timotheus’ outburst.

“This is just the kind of stupid thing that could get him killed,” Tim said. “I won’t have him killed on my watch!”

“And that is why it is foolish for us to go into the bog at night,” Markos said. “It increases the chances of one or more of us dying by an unacceptable margin…”

“And what do you suggest?” Victoria asked.

“That we wait until daylight…”Markos began.

“I thought we went over this? Sir Quintus will likely die if we tarry too long,” Victoria replied. “Time is of the essence.”

“I do not agree,” Markos said. “Either they have eaten him already in which case, our hurrying and blundering into bog is only a danger, or they still hold him alive, in which case we lose nothing by waiting until first light. Lizardfolk can see well in the dark. We cannot.”

“Is this not what we discussed and voted upon? Need we go over it again?” Timotheus asked, exasperated.

“Yes, we voted on it, and I said then what I am saying now, but there seemed to be some renewed doubt, so I was reiterating my point,” Markos replied.

“Well… I could stay behind with the horses…” Telémahkos started.

“No! Let’s go and stay close to me!” Timotheus did not hide his emotions. He spurred his horse and headed back towards the guide and the others. Bleys and Laarus were just starting to turn around to see what was keeping the others when everyone fell in line again. This time, Telémahkos was close behind his cousin, and Markos rode along side, continuing to argue his point.

Tavius reached the edge of the bog. He looked back at the group from the entrance to a gravel track winding into the darkness, to make sure no one was straggling too far behind. He raised his lantern high as he straightened his tall lanky form on his mud-cover pony. A sudden breeze carried a fetid smell down their line.

Markos held up his horse to fall back into his spot on the line, as suddenly Telémahkos started having trouble with his horse again. It whinnied and then its rear dropped towards the mud and it half-stumbled back forcing Telie to grab about it neck to stay on. The ends of his blue-white toga dipped in the mud, and he sighed as he pulled at his chain shirt, and then looked at the reins in his hands as if they were foreign to him.

“That’s it! I change my vote!” Timotheus announced, turning around at the entrance to the bog. “This is too risky!”

“So, you are suggesting we leave a noble to his fate…” Laarus said in an even tone that somehow still suggested disappointment. His sharp features, with a prominent hawk-nose and his close-cut red hair and thin eyebrows helped to reinforce the authority of his holy symbol and bejeweled and gold-threaded finery.

“I could go back…” Telémahkos began again. He slipped his old fashioned Lethean helmet off his head, careful not to catch the knot of blond hair that stuck through a round slot at the top of the helmet.

“No, we should all go for help,” Timotheus said. “We should go to Gullmoor and see if we can raise some men-at-arms from Sir Quintus’ father’s keep, instead of going into the swamp looking for trouble…”

“Who is looking for trouble?” Laarus frowned.

“We are going into the swamp to save a knight from lizardfolk who abducted him. Do you think we will be able to just ask nicely and they will give him back?” Timotheus.

“Yes,” said Laarus. “If they fall under the jurisdiction if the Thrician Racial Covenant, then perhaps they simply need to be reminded of their responsibilities to it as well.”

“Unless of course, they see our arrival are an invasion of the territory, in which case we may be liable to their sovereign laws, according to that same covenant,” Bleys explained in his typical emotionless tone.

“Be that as it may, diplomacy shall have to be our first and most aggressively pursued option,” Laarus said.

“I still think this is foolish,” Markos said. The small man looked uncomfortable on horseback. He rubbed the back of his suntanned neck after slapping at a midnight mosquito. “We should seek out the knight’s keep and seek his kin to aid us in his return.

“Your opinion is known to all, cousin Markos,” Laarus replied.

“And sirs… If I can be so bold to interrupt,” Valerius had leapt of his horse to help lead Telémahkos’ steed to surer footing. “Gullmoor is nearly two hours away at best, and is past the deep part of the bog…”

“The kid’s right,” Tavius said. He was covering his mouth intermittently to arrest his laughter at the party’s bickering. “Unless you have a boat and good route mapped out, we’re talking six hours to get out there and then back out to where he said they took him from…”

“If we are to continue on then let us do it more slowly and carefully,” Telémahkos said.

“Yes, I agree,” Timotheus said, sighing. “And… If I call a retreat, I want everyone to retreat, okay? Do you all agree? I don’t want anyone lagging behind to play martyr…” He looked around and there were a few nods, but Victoria’s face looked stern in the lantern light.

“Victoria? Do you agree?” Timotheus asked again.

“If you choose to retreat and want to lead the others to safety, then that is your business,” Victoria replied. The militant’s dark eyes were shadowed by lantern light against her open-faced helmet; her dark hair curled out beneath the edges of it. “I shall do as Anhur would have me do. It is up to you if you should choose to shame the gods by fleeing…”

Timotheus’ jaw dropped, and Markos winced at the woman’s cutting disdain.

“Fine,” Tim decided to ignore her tone. “Then we all agree; if I call a retreat, Victoria shall be the rearguard.”

Tavius of Bog End warned them to be quieter. Timotheus followed him with Telémahkos close behind, and then came Bleys the Aubergine, Valeris the Squire, Laarus of Ra, Markos Ackers and finally Victoria. Markos tried to hand the militant a lantern.

“No thank you,” Victoria said. “If we should need more light I can call to Anhur to provide.”

“By the time we realize we need light it may be too late,” Markos said. “This will help spot anyone approaching from a distance…”

“I do not need to carry it…” Victoria said.

“We need light and whoever holds the light is a target, thus… I need you to carry it,” Markos said with a weak smile.

“Heh,” Victoria spurred her horse and snatched the lantern from the diminutive man. “If we are attacked I will be handing it back to you…”

“Of course,” Markos replied.

Bleys lit a gnomish torch, and the green-hued spitting flame of the strange light source hovered around him.

The track through the varying dripping growth of the bog was made of piles of gravel smoothed out further and further into the wetland. In most places, it was two or three feet above the surface of the fetid water around, but in others the track was flooded over, and cracked by thick vines that had pushed their way violently through the piled stone. Every now and again, they had to dismount at Tavius’ direction to lead their horses over wooden planks laid across sudden deep narrow gullies, or slick and uneven muddy streams. Other times it was simply the thickness of the growth above that forced the riders off their mounts.

Isis’ light flittered fitfully from the waning moon, hovering somewhere between half and a quarter, casting muted webs of shadows on the companions as they marched deeper into the bog for over an hour on edge with every nearby croak, screech of bats overhead, or random gurgle of the water all around them. But suddenly there was another sound: A muted neigh followed by some splashing.

Ahead the track veered to the right, and on the left of it was a deep pool of black muck. The sound came from within the pool. Timotheus readied his shield and drew his sword. Telémahkos dismounted and began to load his heavy crossbow.

Laarus of Ra leaned over to Bleys with a smile. “If this is the reaction to a horse, I fear for our future endeavors.”

“Can we be so sure it is a horse?” Bleys asked, ever-serious.

Tavius spurred his pony forward and raised his lantern as everyone, but Victoria, dismounted. Those at the front could see the upper portion of a warhorse in the thick muck at the center of the pool. It was kicking and leaping to free itself, but was only succeeding in wedging itself deeper and deeper.

Bleys muttered an arcane word and smeared a bit of phosphorescent moss on the bridge of his nose and suddenly the light of Tavius’ lantern shed light twice as far for him. (2) The watch-mage could see large rounded rocks creating a craggy wall beyond the pool.

“You heard that?!” Laarus asked. There was an animalistic clicking coming from beyond the pool. There was an answering triple-click and a hiss. Bleys noted glowing eyes low between twq rocks where the sound had come from, but when he turned to get a good look they were gone.

The horse struggled some more. The muck in the pool churned, gurgled and splashed.

“How do you suggest the free the horse?” Timotheus asked Tavius. The local guide shrugged his shoulders.

“It is a waste of time to try to get it out,” Telémahkos said

“My cousin may be right,” Timotheus said. “It will take a great deal of effort and we still may not succeed in anything but being delayed.”

“I have a spell that could help in freeing the horse,” Markos suggested, moving forward amid the horses. He had to squeeze by Vaerius who was struggling to keep three horses in line, as the nearby horse in danger was making them skittish. “But it will take me fifteen minutes to prepare the spell in question…” (3)

“We are here to rescue the knight, not his horse…” Telémahkos said.

“Is there a difference?” Laarus asked. “I mean, might we not need his horse if we rescue him and need a quick escape?”

“I was thinking the same thing,” Bleys said with a grunt. He was loading his heavy crossbow.

“I will prepare the spell.” Markos moved to the back of the line again, and spreading out his cloak, sat down on the track to prepare his spell.

The clicking and hissing came again.

“Tavius, what sort of creature do you think is making that sound?” Timotheus asked the guide.

“Oh that? That’s them there, muckies… ‘Muckdwellers’ they call them. We call them lizard rats,” Tavius said. “They generally too afraid to mess with humans, but they are clever.”

”So they are animals?”

“Well, smarter than a dog,” Tavius said. “But not as smart as a human or a greenback…”

There was an excited hiss and the stuck horse let out a stomach-turning scream as a small reptilian creature, vaguely bipedal, with a crest on its head and back, and a stubby tail about half the length of its foot-long body leapt onto its haunch. It was brown and green, and latched itself onto the side of the horses neck and began to tear small strips of flesh from it.”

“Lizard rat!” cried Tavius.

Bleys the Aubergine’s dark purple robes rippled like shadow in the lantern light as he spun to fire his heavy crossbow at the creature. The bolt flew high, as he was trying to avoid hitting the horse.

“Let them have the horse!” Markos called to the others, slamming his book shut and giving up on his study. “Why bring them down on us?”

“What a tiny lil thing!” Telémahkos cried. “It’s almost cute.” He fired his heavy crossbow as well, and also missed. He turned to his cousin. “Maybe we’d be better off aiming at the horse and putting it out of its misery…”

“Tavius, you have the light, you keep an eye out!” Timotheus ordered, dropping his shield and sword in the mucky gravel and drawing his longbow from his horse.

The horse screamed again and leapt futilely as a second of the creatures leapt upon its flank. The horse’s agony echoed across the bog, as did the voices of the signers of the Charter of Schiereiland.

“Telémahkos! Timotheus! Beware!” From her vantage point still atop her horse, the woman warrior had noticed the wake of two small forms approaching the edge of the pool. Two the tiny reptilian creatures splashed out of the mire about ten feet in front of the line. With a flick of their little heads, they spat globules of swamp water at the two cousins, but both were able to turn their heads and avoid whatever effect was meant from the attack.

“Ahhh!” Telémahkos’ womanly cry echoed as he panicked and hurled his heavy crossbow at one of the creatures. As usual, Bes’ luck was with him. The weapon slammed into the creature and then the bowstring caught about its neck and spun around knocking it twice more before dragging it the muckdweller into the muck it emerged from. (4)

As Laarus moved up, shield strapped to his arm, and drawing his flail, Timotheus sent one of the attacking muckdwellers yelping into the muck as an arrow buried itself in its side. “Laarus! Don’t get to far too far ahead. We don’t want to be separated.”

“We are being watched from behind!” came Victoria’s warning from the rear of the line. She had noted the silhouette of humanoid creature at the edge of the shadowy illumination of Markos’ lantern.

“Move the horses up,” Markos called to Valerius. “We need to keep the group together, feeling the gap between the rear and the front groups had gotten too wide. The horse screamed again, and this time it managed to make a great, almost impossible leap. It floundered on its side for a half moment, and then sunk again, having only moved perhaps six or seven feet. In that same moment, two more of the muckdwellers popped up and spat, and this time Timotheus cried out as the burning swamp water blinded him. He quickly pulled his bow over his shoulder and wiped with one arm, while reaching for his waterskin with the other.

Bleys moved along side Tim and took a shot with his crossbow, missing again. “I am on your right,” (5) he said to the blinded warrior. Laarus managed to get near one and crushed its skull with one heavy blow from his flail.

“Mighty Anhur! Our enemies seek to surround us in the darkness! Give me light to foil their plans!” Victoria prayed and suddenly the tip of her long spear shone like a bright torch. She raised it up to cast light widely, but the silhouetted figure she had seen was gone.

A third muckdweller was now tearing off chunks of the dying horse, while another popped up and spat at Laarus, blinding him as well. Tim had given up trying to wash it out and was fumbling on the ground for his sword and shield.

“Tim! Do you see my crossbow over there? Can you get it before it sinks?” Telémahkos was on the other side of his horse from the battle, retrieving a dagger and his rapier at a careful pace. Tavius held both the reins of his pony, and of Tim’s horse, keeping them calm in the chaos of the fight. He looked over at Telémahkos with astonishment, disgust and amusement.

“That is my master’s horse!” Vaerius cried when he was finally close enough to see into the center of the pool by the lantern light. He was struggling back and forth to keep the horses calm and move them up the track two at a time at Markos’ direction, but did not seem to be doing it fast enough for the sun-tanned son of House Raymer. He turned to see if Victoria was following him, but was shocked to see her going back down the track away from the rest of the group.

“Stupid bitch,” he muttered.

“Forget your crossbow! Find my waterskin!” Timotheus yelled back to his cousin as his vision returned. He scooped up his shield and weapon. “Let’s keep moving forward and drive these things back. Keep shooting!” He charged up and cleaved a skull in twain, and spun to block the spitting attacks of three others with his shield, as he heard them leap up out of the pool at the top of the track.

“How can I shoot without a crossbow?” Telémahkos asked dejectedly. He stepped out carefully from behind his horse and threw a dagger at one of the muckdwellers menacing Laarus, missing.

There was a twang as Bleys let loose with another crossbow bolt as he guided Laarus back away from the melee. However, half a moment later, the priest’s vision returned, as streams of greenish tears poured down his face. He let loose with a sling stone at one of the muckdwellers on the horse and missed. Noticing the ones at the top of the track he crammed his sling in his belt and drew his flail once again.

Bleys dropped his crossbow and drawing his saber charged into the muckdwellers attacking Timotheus. Laarus of Ra was on his heels. Tim, however, was not having much trouble. He killed one easily, and another flinched from a swing that missed and then fled. Bleys startled another, and before it could flee, Laarus killed it with a crunch.

“There is not enough room!” Valerius complained. Markos was still trying to move everyone’s abandoned horses up the narrow track by slapping them on the hindquarters, while Valerius with frazzled nerves tried to keep them calm and move them with more care. Most of the horses, including the packhorse, were not trained to remain calm in battle situations, and the scent nearby dying horse did not help.

”Whoever it was, is gone,” said Victoria riding up to re-join the others. The remaining muckdwellers fled into the rocks beyond the pool, laden with huge strips of raw horseflesh.

Telémahkos stepped into the edge of the pool to retrieve his crossbow from the muck, having to reach his arms up to his shoulders to get it. It would have to be cleaned well before it could be used again.

Victoria described what she saw behind the group, and everyone was fairly certain it was one of the lizardfolk.

“Well, they know we are coming…” Timotheus said.

“We could have guessed that already,” Markos replied.

“Could they have sent those creatures after us?” Victoria asked.

“Doubtful,” Markos said. “Most likely they were just drawn by the defenseless horse and thought we would take their dinner from them.”

Hardly more than twenty-five minutes later the gravel track led to rocky island covered in mud and roots, and lined with many small willows. The moon was setting, but they could see the blue-black outline of great hill before them against the night sky. They had noticed the hill once or twice before on their journey, looming.

“This where it happened!” Valerius announced. “My master dismounted over here, and then the lizardfolk emerged from the left and right.” The squire dismounted and walked over to each spot he was pointing out.

“Lizardfolk of the bog!” Bleys called out into the darkness. “We have come seeking Sir Quintus Gosprey! We wish to parley!” The watch-mage’s words echoed across the swamp.

to be continued…


(1) Telémahkos was actually using a combination of handle animal and bluff to delay the group further by pretending to be inept at riding it in the muck. All the other times during the journey into the swamp where he has horse trouble are similar attempts.

(2) This spell is low-light vision

(3) The spell he was thinking of is called, float. In Aquerra, wizards may overwrite prepared spells by spending 15 minutes per caster level to do so. However, the spell to be written over is immediately spoiled when the process of preparation is started. Thus, if the preparation is interrupted, the wizard merely has an unusable slot until he has an opportunity to begin preparation again.

(4) On his turn, Telémahkos threw his heavy crossbow taking the –4 penalty for an improvised or non-standard weapon, but hit anyway, and doing enough damage (on 1d3) to take out the 2 hp muckdweller.

(5) All tactics talk during combat in our games has to be done in character and characters can only speak on their own turn. This includes aiding/guiding characters that have some form of sensory deprivation, such as being blind.
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First Post
Well, I managed to get behind on this story hour, and now I realize I shouldn't even be reading it, since I'm involved as a player in a campaign drawing on some of the same source material. My loss.


Moderator Emeritus
Manzanita said:
Well, I managed to get behind on this story hour, and now I realize I shouldn't even be reading it, since I'm involved as a player in a campaign drawing on some of the same source material. My loss.

Hey Manzanita!

Two things, if your group is ahead in the adventure path (i.e. two or more adventures in) then I don't think it will matter in the present, and since I plan to take it totally in my own direction not based on any of the actual later adventures this will definitely be safe for you to read in the future.

Anyway, at this point we still don't know what the PCs will be doing, so it might be that those hooks are completely ignored anyway.


First Post
Just noticed the new story and got caught up. I am really interested in how this story will be "more like normal Aquerra" than the OotFP campaign. So far the characters are also pretty interesting, but I hope that there is less bickering as they get to know each other.



First Post
The group dynamics in the game are pretty interesting. There are two pretty stable voting blocs in the group; at three members each, this should keep the party deadlocked, but each character has enough drive and depths to swap sides on one issue or another.


Moderator Emeritus
Session #3 – “Into the Bog” (Part 2 of 3)

They waited for a while and Bleys called out again, but there was still no answer.

“Okay, but where to now?” Markos asked. The boy looked around confusedly, so everyone looked to Tavius, who shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, we never really go very far past this point,” The guide said. “This length of the track is old, but if I was going to search anywhere around here for a place to hole up with a captive, I’d guess the old Sunra fort at the foot of the north face of the hill over yonder…” Tavius raised his lantern and pointed to the shadow of the bluff ahead of them.

“What can you tell us about this fort?” Timotheus asked.

“Not much,” Tavius replied. “Locals avoid it. It is mostly fallen apart and not very safe and all sorts of different creatures are said to have laired there at one time or another…”

“While I do not know of this one specifically,” Bleys added. “There are countless ruins like it in this part of Thricia. The Sunrads were prodigious builders and saw ‘civilizing the world’ as a mandate of Ra.”

There seemed no other choice but to make for the fort, even though they were all exhausted from the day’s long ride on the Beach Road, and their poor horses were beginning to show their weariness as well.

“The way gets tougher from here, and rather round-about,” Tavius explained. “There is no track this far out, so stay alert and lead your horse where I go… No where else…”

Bleys the Aubergine lit a second gnomish torch as they left, however, their progress was delayed by a sudden stubbornness in Telémahkos’ horse. The blond son of Briareus dismounted and with the squire’s help began looking for a stone stuck in the animal’s shoe.

“If this keeps up someone is going to have to put that old nag out its misery,” Victoria Ostrander commented, clearly disgusted with Telie’s inability to manage with his horse.

“One thing’s for sure, some nag needs to be put out of her misery…” Telémahkos muttered, and Valerius was aghast when he overheard. Telie shot him a wink.

Their horses whinnied dolefully as they followed Tavius through shallow water and muck filled gullies and around and over rocky islands. They noticed the path they followed led away from the north face of the great hill, and while occasionally it would turn towards it, Tavius would lead them away again. Finally, when they were a few hundred yards from the hill, he had them walk their mounts across a shallow pool of green water, and then take a more direct path around the hill towards the keep.

The moon had sunk beneath the horizon and nearly three hours had gone by before they reached the muddy plain that led to the ruined walls of the keep. The old fortress itself was naught but a few dark shapes against the night sky, before them was a pool of black water that surrounded the keep’s foundations. Streams and eddies churned about the mass.

“Lizardfolk of the bog!” Bleys called out to the keep. “We have come seeking Sir Quintus Gosprey! We wish to parley!” An echo was the only response he got.

Timotheus borrowed Victoria’s spear and tapped the water ahead. The ground was uneven and the deepness varied.

“Can you lead us across this?” Timotheus asked Tavius.

The guide was crouched and looking out across the water. “Perhaps with some daylight,” he replied sarcastically.

Laarus Raymer of Ra called his god and caused daylight to shine from the guide’s lantern. (1)

“There. Now you have your daylight,” Laarus said, flatly.

”Yeah, and everyone for miles around knows we’re here,” Tavius shielded his eyes from his over-bright lantern, frowning. “Okay. Let’s go…”

They followed in a close straight line as they made their way across the mud, alert for any movement among the ruin or atop it. The daylight of Tavius’ lantern made certain that anyone for miles around would have a chance of spotting them, so they did not worry to try to hide their approach. The keep’s gatehouse towers were still standing, though the one on the left had nearly half of it torn away, and no roof. There was no gate either. Not that it mattered, there were huge sections of wall missing on the left and right and the taller square towers at the corners were mostly collapsed, with bulging brick walls reinforced with mud. Vines were growing on everything, and the sheen of swamp water and muck reflected off of everything in the light.

Tavius and Telémahkos remained behind with the horses, while Valerius accompanied the others.

“We may need your sword,” Bleys said to him.

They stood about twenty-five feet from the gate, and the light of the lantern endowed with divine energy showed the remains of some wooden barrier long ago erected to take the place of a gate. Now its warped planks were half buried in muck.

“Should we go in?” Victoria asked no one in particular.

“Lizardfolk of the bog!” Bleys called out for a third time. “We have come seeking Sir Quintus Gosprey! We wish to parley!”

“We should not go into a dark and ruined keep against possible enemies unless we feel we absolutely have to,” Markos said.

“Halt humanssss!” There came a sibilant voice from twenty feet atop the right-hand gatehouse tower. They looked up to see a green and brown mottled lizardman. They thought of him as a man, but truth be told there was no way to tell gender with his kind. He had brown comb atop his head, and similar hard ridges on his shoulders. He wore a leather smock tied with a snakeskin belt. On his back was a quiver of javelins. They could not make out the weapons at his belt; swords of some kind. “You are forbizzen here!” He hissed. “Go awaysss and zoo not zome bazk!”

Bleys the Aubergine looked at each of his companions as if to give opportunity to stop him from speaking for them, but no one said a word. “I am Bleys the Aubergine, watch-mage, and Alumnus of the Academy of Wizardry. My companions and I come seeking Sir Quintus Gosprey. We heard word that some of your kind may have taken him captive. Do you hold him?”

“No…” the lizardman hissed. “Uh… No… No…”

“Well, that wasn’t very convincing,” Tim smirked.

“That is certainly one of the creatures that took my master!” Valerius cried out and pointed his sword up at the tower. Bleys cuffed the boy without a second thought, and Valerius reached for his mouth and turn away.

“Shut up, boy.” Markos said to add insult to injury.

“That boy claims it was your people who took him,” Bleys called up.

“Who are you?” the lizardman asked.

“I already said, I am Bleys the Aubergine, and we are representatives of the Margrave,” replied Bleys. “And what might we call you.”

“Am called Chok’tem,” the lizardfolk said. “Now humans go. Danger there isss for you heres…”

There issued from within the darkness of the ruined keep a murmur like the voice of a man. The companions looked to each other, and Laarus put his hand on the pommel of his flail.

“Are you sure there are no humans in there?” Bleys asked. “We thought we heard a voice…”

“Many soundssss ssswampsss many soundsss,” Chok’tem replied. The lizardman looked back over his shoulder, and then down at the group.

“Perhaps you should call on the Covenant,” Victoria said, moving her horse over to be near the watch-mage.

“We have no desire to violate the Thrician Racial Covenant, and seek only the abducted knight,” Bleys said. “We do not want to violate your laws… Perhaps you might allow us to look around the keep under your watchful eye, and see for ourselves that no man is held within it.”

“We hassss sssssigned no Covenant,” Chok’tem replied. He seemed voice seemed dismissive.

“Well that settles that then,” Laarus commented.

“We can hear him inside, Chok’tem,” Markos called up. “Can we not reach an agreement for his return? What is it you seek? Perhaps we can help you get it…?”

“No more promisessss,” Chok’tem replied. “The humansss lie and did not keep words given. He must be kept until the time passes…”

“So you do have him…” Markos said.

”Is someone there?” came the voice of a man from within the keep. “Hello?” The voice was abruptly cut-off.

“No… Uh, yessss…” Chok’tem said, confused as to what to say. “Here he must stay until the time is over, Go now. There is danger here for humanss…”

“Danger here? Are you the danger?” Bleys asked. “Do you plan to harm Sir Quintus?”

“What is this ‘time’ you speak of? Markos asked.

“Issss our businessssss,” Chok’tem hissed. “Issss bezween ussss and the humanssss knight… We will not harm him. He mussssst sssstay here until the time issss passssst.”

“And then you will let him go?” Bleys asked.


“Why?” Victoria called up. “Why must this time go by?”

“Issss our businessssss,” Chok’tem said again.

“And how long is this ‘time’?” Markos asked.

“Variesssss,” Chok’tem replied. “Three rissssingsssss, four, five, maybe six rissssingss and settingsss of the sun…”

The party discussed the situation quietly among themselves, coming to the general agreement that the lizardfolk must feel betrayed by the humans for some reason, and this was their attempt to remedy it. Nearly everyone also seemed to feel that the knight was in no immediate danger of being killed, however, Laarus was unsure as he felt Chok’tem’s attitude was one of evasion and lies.

“He said they did not hold him, and even after we heard his voice the first time the greenback denied it,” the priest said. “Suddenly he admits it so we forget the lie? They hold the knight and are not under the jurisdiction of the Thrician Racial Covenant… We would be in our rights to go in and free the knight by force if we have to…”

“He has said repeatedly that they plan him no harm,” Markos replied.

“They lied once, why not again?” Laarus said.

“And you plan him no harm, correct?” Markos called up to the lizardman again.

“No harm. No harm. We know the men will come from the fortress… Many men… if he is killed… We have no zesire to see him harmed…”

“Hmmmm, that’s a good point,” Timotheus murmured scratching his chin. “Valerius, how many men does Sir Quintus’ father have at Gullmoor?”

“Um… maybe two dozen that can be readied quickly…” The squire replied.

“Chok’tem!” Timotheus called up. “If we cannot see Sir Quintus for ourselves, we will be forced to go to the keep and return with soldiers…”

“No!” Chok’tem nearly growled. “Thissss isss our busssinesss… He wasssss to speak for usssss to Lord Swann… He gave empzy words… The wordssss of men are empzy…”

“But how can he speak to Lord Swann for you if you hold him?” Markos said. “What if one of us were to take his place here, and we could escort him back to his keep and make sure he talks with Lord Swann on your behalf…”

“Lord Swann would not be at Gullmoor…” Timotheus whispered.

“Shush!” Markos admonished.

“We should leave the squire in his place,” Laarus suggested quietly, leaning over to Bleys.

The watch-mage frowned.

“Is it not the duty of a squire to help his master in all ways?” Laarus asked the watch-mage. “Sir Quintus’ presence unharmed will help in our negotiation with House Swann in figuring out how to deal with this whole situation, and we can hear his side of the story…”

“We shall leave his squire in his place!” Bleys called up to Chok’tem. “He is as valuable a captive…”

“Bleys! We will do no such thing!” Timotheus protested.

“Imzzoszzsible…” Chok’tem replied. “No more worzs may be spoken until the time has passed… You must not go and tell them. You must let the time pass…”

“If you cannot tell us what this ‘time’ is and what purpose it serves we cannot help you…” Markos changed his tact.

“Issss not my place to sssay…” the lizardman said. “Isssss our business… And ourssss alone… Bezween ussss and the knight…”

“So, Sir Gosprey promised them something and then did not follow through and now they are holding him for some amount of time…” Markos pondered the question aloud, turning to the group. “Perhaps they need for him to witness something? The consequences of his betrayal…?”

“You are grasping at straws,” Victoria said.

“When straws are all you have to grasp on to…” Markos turned away again.

Telémahkos began to approach the fort as well, impatient for news of the discussion, as he could hear nothing from where he stood with Tavius.

“May we at least camp here and rest our horses?” Telemahkos called up. “We have ridden them all night and they are near exhaustion.”

“Yes, in the day time we may talk again and come to some compromise…” Markos added. “We will leave when the sun rises again.”

”Wait!” Chok’tem disappeared from the top of the derelict tower, but another lizardfolk in a leather smock and similarly armed took his place, but stood further back from the edge, not acknowledging the party.

“You think he’s not the leader?” Timotheus asked. “Is he going to get permission?”

Markos shrugged.

“So we came this far only to wait?” Victoria asked.

“Let whatever will happen happen under the light of Ra’s Glory in the morning, when we and our mounts are rested and ready for the challenge,” Laarus said.

Chok’tem returned more than twenty minutes later. “You may campsss on the muzz plain,” he told them, pointing back the way they came. “We will sssspeak again in the next rissssing… And you plan to leave zen, or the rissssing afzer the one to zome?”

“After the next,” Markos replied. “The next rising is too soon to make a difference…”


Markos, Victoria, Timotheus, Bleys, Laarus, Telémahkos and Valerius rode back to where Tavius waited and then back out to the muddy plain where they made a camp the best they could and gave the last of the feed to the horses.

“Well… I’ll be heading back then…” said Tavius as the others settled down. “I’ll be taking those two silvers ya owe me on being led to the greenbacks…”

“How much?” Markos asked.

“Uh… Two silvers…We agreed that you’d pay me one up front and another two when I led you,” Tavius said. “Well, you’ve been led.”

“The agreement was for one piece of silver upfront and another when you had led us to the lizardfolk,” Markos said, and Bleys nodded. “Who said it was two?”

“Uh… Are you sure it wasn’t two?” Tavius looked nervously from Markos to Bleys and then to Telémahkos. “Maybe it was Master Telémahkos that said it…”

“Oh! It is only two silvers! He did a good job! Give it to him,” Telémahkos said, covering his subterfuge.

Markos nodded and handed over the coins, but then said again. “How much? How much more to have you stay and lead us back when we are done here?”

“Well, it is really not an issue of coin…” Tavius began, rubbing the back of his neck, picking at a cake of dirt that was building there. “It is coming on dawn and my son will be waiting for me to take the boats into the deep bog… And then in then afternoon I have to help the old lady gather the peat…”

“How much? How much to compensate you for another day’s work?” Markos continued to ask.

“Well, not less than uh… another two silvers…” Markos gave him one coin now, and would give him the other when they returned to Bog End.

“This is turning into an expensive guide,” Timotheus commented.

They set a watch, Laarus taking part in the first shift so he could prepare spells at dawn. It was mid-afternoon before they were all awake once again.

to be continued. . .

(1) Glory of Ra: A Priest of Ra may expend a turning attempt to cast daylight with a range of 60 feet. This may be cast on a willing target, or else centered on any inanimate object or point in space. For purposes of duration, make a turning check to determine the caster's effective level. Note that a daylightspell centered on the caster is also always the additional result of a successful turning attempt; this lasts ten rounds.
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Moderator Emeritus
Session #3 – “Into the Bog” (Part 3 of 3)

Anulem, the 14th of Sek – 566 H.E. (637 M.Y.)

“I think the next time we parley with the lizardfolk I shall reveal that I speak their language,” Markos announced.

“Wait! You can speak their language?” Timotheus was astounded. “Why did you not say anything before?”

“Well, I figured it might be best to hold this back in case we might be able to learn something if they assumed we could not understand their tongue and spoke freely before us,” Markos explained. “But now I think I think it will be better to reveal it and hope that wins us some sympathy in their eyes, and it will help us communicate better in our negotiations and assure some understanding…”

“I speak some hobbo, but I don’t expect that to endear me with any of them,” Telémahkos said with a grin.

“I am nearly out of provisions,” Victoria said. In fact, all of their supplies were running low, having expected to get to New Harbinger a day ago. In addition, the horses would need to be brought somewhere to graze.”

“We should trade with the lizardfolk,” Markos suggested. “If they live here they must have some provisions, plus it will give us a chance to talk to them some more.”

“I was thinking about the situation,” Bleys said, in his normal quiet tones. “And I was wondering, if Sir Quintus had dealings with the lizardfolk as we suspect, why did he leave the hunt for the bandits to come find them?”

“Perhaps the lizardfolk know something of the bandits,” Markos suggested.

“If I may interrupt, sirs,” Valerius said, his eager energy much dampened by Bleys’ blow in the pre-dawn hours. “But my master never had any dealings or contact with lizardfolk that I ever knew…”

“And who would know better what a knight does than his squire who is always with him?” Timotheus said.

“How long have you been his squire, boy? Bleys asked Valerius.

“A little more than four months…”

The watch-mage turned back to Timotheus. “So what he knows or does not know of his master from so short a time has no bearing. The connection could have easily have been made before then…”

They rode back down to the keep, their mounts all cranky from the days’ long rides. Once again Tavius stayed with the packhorse and his pony further away from the keep.

It took a long time for Chok’tem to appear at the tower again. They called for over twenty-minutes and even considered that the lizardfolk might have fled in the darkness of the pre-dawn hours, but in the end the reptilian humanoid in his cured leather smock hailed them with a hiss.

Markos called up a greeting in the lizardman tongue.

“Why did you not say you could speak our tongue when we spoke last?” Chok’tem asked, suspicious.

“We were communicating fine in Common, I saw no need, especially since it hurts my throat to speak it,” Markos replied.

“Yes, your accent is strange,” Chok’tem said, and then snorted. It might have been a laugh.

Markos negotiated the trade of two daggers for some provisions. They left the daggers by the gate and left for less than an hour. When they returned there was a sack on a post, and inside were four fat leeches three long, and a giant snail with its shell cracked open and about a forth of the meat inside torn out.

“Oh delicious!” Telémahkos sneered.

“Well, the snail is good,” Markos said with a forced smile. He looked up to the lizardfolk. “Thank you Chok’tem…Have you considered our offer from yesterday?”

“Sir cannot leave until the time has past, Chok’tem said, reiterating his vague reasons from the day before. “There is danger here for you humans… You should go and leave us to our business… Tell no one…” He spoke in his own tongue, Markos translating.

Suddenly, there was cry of agony from within the ruined keep. It was definitely a human voice.

“Is that Sir Quintus?” Markos called up. “Is he being killed?”

“No,” replied Chok’tem. “We do not wish to see him killed…”

“So, perhaps they only torture him,” Laarus commented to his companions, his face growing flush with anger at the contemplation of it.

“They said they wish him no harm,” Bleys said. “I do not think he is being tortured…”

There was a sound and movement from the top of the tower. Another of the lizardfolk arrived and spoke with Chok’tem in whispered tones.

“I shall return,” he told the signers of the Charter of Schiereiland, and disappeared into the keep, leaving the other of his kind behind to stand guard.

“And what is your name?” Markos called up to the new lizardfolk. He was lighter in color, and the mottled brown of his reptilian hide was in larger scattered splotches. He too had a crest on his head, though smaller than Chok’tem’s.

The lizardfolk replied with a collection of syllables and hisses that made Markos scratch is head. He gave the name a try, but the lizardman shook his head and said it again.

“Klock’chtok?” Markos tried again.


“Where has Chok’tem gone?”

“He is called away…”

“Is Chok’tem the leader?” Markos asked, continuing his inquiry

“How long are we going to wait? You heard his cry…” Laarus said to the others.

“We cannot just charge in there…” Timotheus said.

“Charging in there is exactly what we should do,” Laarus replied overly loud. Klock’chtok broke off his conversation with Markos to call a warning into the keep that the adventurers might be charging in.

“We plan to do no such thing,” Markos called up to the guard. He then looked to his companions. “Right?”

“Would someone care to go for a ride?” Bleys asked.

“I do not believe this is the time for that…” Victoria began

“We may be forbidden to enter the keep, but I thought we might get a better look at its dimensions by riding around it,” Bleys replied quietly.

The chatter was broken by another agonizing cry from within the keep. Laarus Raymer of Ra did not hesitate, and drawing his flail he spurred his horse. But Bleys reached out and grabbed the reins of the priest’s horse.

“Be not a fool! They are prepared for a charge! At the very least let us go around,” the watch-mage said.

“Then go around!” Laarus replied sternly. Bleys let go and the priest charged in, calling on Ra to bless their coming battle. Victoria and her mount charged right in after him.

Past the gatehouse, the inner keep was a mess of broken walls, and pools of stagnant water collecting on the uneven ground, and seeping out where stone had sunken into the loam. There was a stone building lacking a roof in the center of what was once a great courtyard, but the wall that stood behind it was now piles of rocks in a great pool of green water being fed by countless little streams from all directions.

Victoria reared up at a thickly woven straw mat over fifteen feet to a side laying in the middle of the courtyard, not far from the broken wall that led into the roofless building. Two lizardfolk, also in leather smocks, stood at each side of the ten-foot gap, hissing and brandishing machetes. They were dark green and mottled with brown, and had lower thicker crests on their heads that resembled Klock’chtok than Chok’tem.

But Laarus charged on and as the mats gave way beneath his horse’s front hooves it reared up and whinnied in dismay. The animal kicked it forelegs and spun itself frantically, while Laarus held on desperately, trying to retain control. At least he had not ridden into the pit the mat, now askew, had hidden beneath it.

“Going around will give them a chance to kill Sir Quintus! Charge!” Markos said as he spurred his horse to charge in as well. Timotheus was right behind him, yelling, “Sir Quintus! Shout as loud as you can so we know where you are!” Valerius went with them.

Bleys looked to Telémahkos. The son of Briareus had not made a move to follow the others. He met the watch-mage’s glance and nervously pulled at some loose blond strands sticking out from his old-fashioned helmet.

“Shall we go around?” Bleys the Aubergine asked his companion, gesturing over to the north side of the keep. Telémahkos nodded, so the watch-mage turned his horse and led the way carefully through one of the broader streams and around the crumbling outer tower.

Klock’chtok let out a violent set of barks and hisses towards the stone building. He had moved over on the gatehouse tower to look into the courtyard, and saw Timotheus come bursting into the courtyard, while Markos hung back near the gatehouse. He knew that the lizardman guard was calling to Chok’tem for permission to attack.

“Chok’tem! It is not too late to reveal Sir Quintus! We can still parley and no blood need be shed!” Markos called.

“They have me in here!” came a strained voice from the stone building. “They have me in here! Just don’t kill them!”

Approach,” Victoria said to Klock’chtok, divine authority in her voice. The lizardman climbed over the crumbling wall and hanging there for a moment jumped, landing painfully on one leg that collapsed beneath his weight.

Timotheus rode right up to the entrance to the building and could see the corner of some kind of wooden cage, but an uneven brick wall obscured most of it. There was a narrow stream running into a pool collecting in one corner and a rotting wooden door acted as a kind of footbridge.

The lizardman on the right grabbed at Tim, but as the tall man shifted in his saddle to avoid being grappled, the horse was spooked and reared. Timotheus landed on his hands and knees, spinning at the last minute to land softly. The horse snorted and turned taking off for the center of the courtyard again. Markos moved his horse over and grabbed the creature’s reins to calm it and keep it from riding off into a bog. “Chok’tem, it is not too late! Bring him forth!”

“You have broken your word!” came the lizardman’s voice in his breathy broken Common. He was inside the stone building, beside the wooden cage. “Why sssshould we bezieve? Rezreat now! Leave! And zhen no bloodsssshed!”

“I have him covered, Sir!” Valerius the Squire rode over to aid Timotheus, and he stabbed at the lizardman on the left with his short sword, but the blow was parried by the creature’s machete.

“Let me out! Valerius, is that you?! Let me out! They are liars!” Sir Quintus’ cries were interrupted by a bellow of agony and the sound of vomit splattering.

Laarus of Ra finally got his horse turned around and under control, and rode up to cover the lizardman that had grabbed at Timotheus, allowing the broad young veteran to crawl to his feet unattacked.

“Halt! Or this one dies!” Victoria yelled unheard across the courtyard where the fight was too chaotic to notice much beyond it. She had her long spear trained on the neck of Klock’chtok, who was slowing getting to his feet.

Machetes rang against Timotheus’ saber as he rushed into the building past the lizardfolk guards. He was startled to see Bleys the Aubergine carefully guiding his horse into the building from another huge gap in the wall, this one in the rear right corner, where a tendril of the green pool at the rear of the ruin entered.

In the rear left corner was a cage made of tall thick wooden stakes driven deep into the earth. There was no door. Inside was a tall man with long curly brown hair and wearing a dull gray breastplate that hung awkwardly on his swollen frame. He was clearly young, but his face was sallow and dirty, and he had the grizzle of beard coming in. It was Sir Quintus Gosprey. He had no weapons.

Chok’tem was standing by the cage, and a fifth lizardman stepped towards Timotheus.

“Victoria! They are not listening to you! They attacked!” Telémahkos informed the militant of Anhur. He did not follow Bleys. Instead, he drove his light warhorse back towards the gatehouse from the other side, and attempted to trample Klock’chtok with his horse. The lizardman rolled out of the way, and Victoria’s cover of the creature was blocked. She tried to smack him with the side of her spear, but Klok rolled and crawled further down the cracked curtain wall, into a an area where water pooled about a foot deep.

“Chok’tem, I am sorry that we will have to risk harming you to subdue you,” Markos said to the lizardfolk leader. He had ridden his horse around the straw mat and was looking past the fray into the building. “If only you had told us what was actually happening… Sagitta Magicus!” An arrow of shining liquid slammed into Chok’tem’s side.

Chok’tem hissed angrily and leapt over the stream to help his companion flank Timotheus. Tim was holding his own against the machete blows of the first foe, but Chok’tem clearly had a puissant of arms the others did not. He held a machete in one clawed hand and a short sword in the other. Tim spun, but felt the machete sliced his wrist open, even as the shortsword blade was slammed against his side, making his armor ring.

“Out of the way! I don’t want to fight, but I will kill you in I have to,” Timotheus warned, as he blocked and spun again, side-stepping to put his back to the wall.

“Call them off and we can still help you,” Bleys was saying to Sir Quintus. The watch-mage rode right up to the cage. The knight opened his mouth to speak, but suddenly doubled-over. Bleys noted a trailing stain of green and yellow vomit on the man’s chin, neck and breastplate.

“Good watch-mage,” Quintus croaked. “There has been a misunderstanding… Just let me free and we will flee…”

“Tell them to surrender, or we will show no mercy,” Victoria said to Klok t’chok, still back near the entrance to the ruin. She hesitated to move against the lizardman, as Telémahkos turned his horse around by the gatehouse.

“Are you going to fight him or talk him to death?” Telémahkos asked the militant. Klok tried to edge out of the reach of Telie’s lance, and the blond ne’er-do-well reflexively stabbed. There was a jet of green blood as the lizardman fled around the corner of the broken outer wall.

“Victoria! Telémahkos! I know you are nobles and all, but perhaps you can stop chasing a straggler and come help Tim and Laarus,” Markos called to them. He had stopped his horse outside of the building, as Valerius and Laarus still struggled with the lizardmen guards at the entrance. The squire was seriously wounded, and Laarus was covered in both green and red blood, swinging his flail from horseback.

“You are not taking me down,” Timotheus grunted, as he went on the defensive and backed into a corner. Chok’tem and the other lizardman moved in and pinned him into his position. “Help!” he added.

Bleys awkwardly loaded his heavy crossbow on horseback, still looking at Sir Quintus, “Let us see if at the end of crossbow bolt you are more willing to speak clearly about what is happening here…” But half a moment later, the watch-mage was startled by Chok’tem. “This is our businesssss! I said, thisssss wasss our businessss!” The lizardman hissed. Bleys cried out in pain as he was clipped by the machete, and his horse reared, dropping him into the stream. Whinnying with terror, the horse road off.

Bleys quickly got to his feet and left his crossbow on the ground, drawing his saber with a ring.

A huge chunk of wall fell away as Telémahkos’ lance bit deep into it. Klock’chtok had stepped out of the way. Victoria turned away from this battle and charged into the melee at the entrance to the building. The lizardman facing Laarus of Ra, though wounded, was managing to avoid or block most of the priest’s blows. He side-stepped to avoid one more, but did not notice the militant until it was too late. He stepped right into range of Victoria’s long spear. He bellowed and fell over bleeding out. Laarus did not hesitate. He leapt off his horse and hurried into the building to flank the foe Timotheus still faced.

Victoria came to Valerius’ aid, as the boy was still struggling against the first foe.

“Let’s just get out of here!” Telémahkos cried out, riding away from Klock past the straw-covered hole.

Markos rode his horse over to take Victoria’s place in aiding Telémahkos, as Klok emerged from the shadow of the wall, to stand next to the edge of a cracked well with a rotted wooden cover. The lizardman now had a javelin in his off hand.

“Nice to act the way your father expects and not the way he hopes…” Markos mocked Telémahkos, so the latter spun his horse around again, and again charged with his lance at Klock’chtok. A sudden puff of fine yellow particles like pollen roiled out of the pit as Telémahkos rode by, but he rode out of it quickly and did not notice any affect. He could not tell what exactly it had come from.

Klock’chtok growled as he felt the bite of the lance in the thick meat of his hip. The lizardman leapt back and let a javelin fly, but he misjudged his step and slipped, leaving him open to another attack. (1) Markos threw a dagger that missed. “Get on your belly and I will have them spare you,” he hissed at the severely wounded Klok in the creature’s tongue. But there was no time to react, Telémahkos charged in again and there was an explosion of blood, as the off-balance lizardman could not avoid the lance. Klock’chtok fell over, apparently dead before he splashed into the muck.

“I think I’m getting the hang of this,” Telie smiled.

Bleys cried out as Chok’tem’s short sword bit into his foot. The watch-mage sidestepped and took up a defensive posture, blocking machete blows that would have cleaved his head from his shoulders. He struggled so hard to keep himself alive, having no opportunity to look for his own openings to attack.

“Chok’tem! Just stop!” Sir Quintus hung on to the wooden bars as if he might fall over. “I will get them to stop and spare you!”

“Thanks, Laarus!” Timotheus said, as he and the priest dogged the other lizardman in the stone building. A hack from Timotheus’ saber cut the nub of an ear from the creature, and it was stunned, dropping its machete and clutching at the side of its head. (2)

“Chok’tem! One of your kin is dying!” Victoria called into the house. “Finish this now, or I will finish him!” She stood over the crumpled form of one of the lizardfolk at the entrance, while Valerius was hurrying his horse around the building to enter from the other gap in the wall.

“Zell them the businesssss! Tell them!” Chok’tem slammed the side of his sword against the wooden bars as he hissed at Quintus. Suddenly, Valerius was riding his horse right into the building and stabbing at Chok’tem. The lizardman leader retaliated, but his blow was blocked.

“Valerius! Noooo!” Quintus cried out.

“Yes! Explain the business,” Bleys said, stepping up to the cage as well.

“Valerius, stand down!” Victoria ordered the boy, and the squire dismounted, to stand next to Bleys.

“Yes… Yes… This can all be explained,” Sir Quintus said. He looked up at the gathering warriors with bloodshot eyes, but suddenly a change came over his face as he gripped the bars and tried shaking them loose. “But just get me out! Get me out!”

Laarus’ flail struck the lizardman he and Tim were fighting in the head and the creature went down. Still wary, Timotheus stepped over near the cage. “All right, we are not attacking… Now explain!”

Bleys stepped in to support the tall veteran.

“He… It’ssss…” Chok’tem hesitated. “It is the Sssshannis’ effect. He can’t be without it. We are breaking him…”

“Victoria! Victoria!” came Telémahkos voice from out in the courtyard. “Some kind of yellow powder came out of that pit and Markos breathed it in!” The former sailor had ridden by the pit, in trying to get to the stone pit and the a great cloud of the stuff had erupted from below.

The Militant of Anhur spun around in her saddle to see Markos, face covered in the yellow powder that emerged from the pit, crouching down to slide the thatched straw cover off the pit. Markos’ horse was walking calmly away.

“Do something! Knock him down! Grab him!” Telémahkos cried.

“Gladly…” Victoria turned her horse around and rode with great speed, reaching down the grab Markos’ thin form, however, Markos shied away and leapt right into the pit. Victoria reared her horse and as she was turning again, there was another blast of the yellow powder. It had deliciously sweet smell she could not resist. She dismounted and began to walk towards the pit.

Inside the building, Telémahkos could hear Sir Quintus weeping.

End of Session #3


(1) Klol ch’tok fumbled, getting this effect: Off Balance. Make Balance check vs. DC 20 or be flat-footed for one round. (See also: Critical Fumble Results – All Weapons)

(2) Timotheus scored a critical hit. The result was: Apply Crit Multiplier to Damage Roll – Reflex Save (DC 10 + ½ damage) or Ear Removed, Stunned for one round. - Note: that “Multiplier to Damage Roll” means that only the die is rolled the extra times, any bonuses to damage are not multiplied. (See also: Critical Hit Results – Slashing, and Applying Critical Results)


Moderator Emeritus
Session #4 – “Delirium Tremens” (part 1 of 4) (1)

“Timotheus! Are you all right?” Telémahkos called into the building while giving the pit a wide berth. He was still on horseback, and leaned forward to get a look into what was going on in the building. “There is some sort of strange yellow powder out here, and Markos has leapt into the pit!”

Timotheus and Bleys had Chok’tem penned in a corner made by Sir Quintus’ cage and the stone wall behind it. Laarus of Ra left the bleeding lizardfolk he had just defeated and calling to Ra, stepped behind Timotheus and healed some of the tall veteran’s wounds.

“No! Victoria! Stay out!” Telémahkos was heard to say as he rode his horse through the gap in the wall. The militant of Anhur had leapt off her horse and into the uncovered pit as well. A sweet smell rose out from within it. Victoria’s horse snorted and turned, and began to walk slowly towards the pit as well.

“Bines my companionssss woundssss and I will sssee to yoursss,” Chok’tem hissed to Bleys, looking right at the watch-mage. The lizardman put away his weapons and raised his hands, looking as if he wanted to step by them. “And keep everyonessss away from pit…”

Seeing that the lizardfolk no longer wanted to fight (there was another that withdrew from melee, waiting tensely in the corner), Timotheus gave Chok’tem room to pass, heading to the gap in the wall to talk to Telémahkos who was keeping a safe distance from the pit. “What the hell is going on?”

“Can you bind, boy?” Bleys looked to Valerius the squire, and pointed to the lizardman bleeding out nearby. Valerius nodded and in a moment the two of them were doing their best to stabilize the reptilian foe. Luckily, Bleys the Aubergine always carried a healing kit, even if lizardfolk physiology was alien to him.

With a muted scream, Argos, Victoria’s warhorse followed her blindly into the pit, the equine’s face covered in the yellow pollen. There was a loud crunch from below. The scream stopped.

“Oh no!” Timotheus said. The tall warrior stepped towards the pit, but Telémahkos leaned over and stopped him. “Victoria is in there, too, but you have to stay away from it, or you’ll be affected, too.” From his perch atop the horse he could see green creeping vines clinging to the side of the pit. There were some sort of large leaves as well, but he did not get a good glimpse, and it was too deep to see Markos or Victoria; only Argos’ flailing legs.

Chok’tem leapt into the pit, as the other conscious lizardfolk stood at its edge. There was another blast of the yellow pollen from below, but the lizardmen did not seem concerned. (2)

Laarus of Ra was crouched over another of the lizardmen, binding its wounds frantically. He looked up at the pit through the gap in the wall and called to anyone who would listen, “What did he mean help them? What is happening down there?”

“Jusssss sssstay back!” Chok’tem called out as he hefted something from the pit towards his companion. “Help my people…”

“You know, if we’re not supposed to kill them anymore, and uh… actually help them, then…” Telémahkos looked down at Timotheus from his horse as the latter led the former’s mount away from the building. Telie’s eyes shifted back and forth guiltily, and his shoulders were hunched. He pointed across the rubble-strewn courtyard of the ruined keep. “Then, uh… that one over there wasn’t looking too good after I ran him down…” He was referring to Klock’chtok. “Maybe we should go hide the body…?” He added in a whisper.

Timotheus shook his head in utter disbelief of the sudden turn in the situation. “Go!” He sent Telémahkos riding across the courtyard to see to the lizardman, as he grabbed his own horse, which was wandering nervously nearby. “Laarus!” He called to the priest of Ra. “There is another over here that is gravely injured!” And he rode in that direction as well.

Timotheus arrived in time to see Telémahkos leap back startled as he let go of Klock’chtok’s leg. When he had pulled at the motionless lizardman to drag the body off, it had turned and moaned and a new gout of fresh green blood exploded from its wounds. “Oops!” Tim leapt off his horse and the two of them began to tear their cloaks and togas to bind the dying thing’s wounds.

“Laarus!” Timotheus called again. “This one is going to die without a touch of Ra’s blessing!”

“I assume you’ll help me if it seeks revenge on me, right?” Telémahkos asked nervously, his shaking hands covered in viscous green.

Laarus was still binding the lizardman on his own when he saw Markos being pulled away from the pit by one of Chok’tem’s companions.

“I can do nothing for this one,” Bleys announced, standing away from the dying lizardman he and Valerius were working on. “Timotheus cut him too deep.” (3)

Unbidden, Valerius Tarchon crawled over to give what aid he could to Laarus, while Bleys hurried over to check on Markos. The tanned head and neck of the former sailor was covered in fine mucus filled with yellow spores. He shivered and jerked and his eyes fluttered open and closed. “Perceptio veneris” Bleys cast his cantrip to reassure himself that yes, Markos indeed poisoned.

Moments later, Victoria was pulled out by Chok’tem and the other lizardman. She too had the spore-filled mucus about her head and was suffering some kind of palsy and stupor. Markos sat up and wiped the stuff from his face, coughing and shaking his head. He looked at his hands and saw the mucus all over them, and wondered at it for a moment.

“It was like a dream,” he said to Bleys. “The leaf with yellow frills enveloped my head and then blackness… peace…”

Laarus and Valerius succeeded in staunching the wounds of the lizardman they were working on and discovered the one Bleys abandoned was still alive and went to work on that one. Out in the courtyard, Telémahkos and Timotheus bickered and stopped and started again, but it was no use. Klock’chtok shuddered and died.

In the ruined building, Laarus and Valerius succeeded in saving the other dying lizardman.

“I am glad everyone finally came to their senses,” Markos announced with an air of self-satisfaction that turned to sorrow when he saw that Klock’chtok was dead.

Telémahkos moved away as Chok’tem approached.

“I… I am sorry your friend died,” Timotheus said awkwardly.

“Klock’chtok…” Chok’tem kneeled beside his dead companion and lifted its head onto his lap with affection. He looked right into the dead lizardfolk’s eyes. “You were my clutch-brother, born of my brood…” Markos translated the words quietly for the others. And then suddenly, Chok’tem took a huge bloody bite from the side of Klock’chtok’s neck, and choked down the huge hunk of flesh.
“Isis!” Timotheus swore and leapt back, while Telémahkos who had crept forward again, curious as to what was going on, turned his head and heaved up his trail rations.

Chok’tem grabbed Klock’chtok’s corpse by the leg and dragged the corpse across the courtyard with disregard for any respect for the dead. Klock’chtok had ceased to be a friend or companion to Chok’tem. He was now simply meat.

Victoria Ostrander had lost her senses. She had been under the effect of the ‘yellow musk plant’ much longer than Markos, and babbled incoherently to herself, and was fascinated by shiny things. Bleys and Timotheus helped to get her out of her armor, and took turns keeping her out of trouble. She was like as an adult-sized child, and a slow child at that. (4)

”Ha! Frog talk!” she laughed and pointed at Chok’tem when the lizardman spoke.

“How long will she be like this?” Bleys asked.

“Dependsss,” the lizardman replied. “Two or four days.” He held up two and then four of his gray-clawed fingers.

“I am sorry that this foolishness led to the death of your companion,” Bleys said to the lizardman leader.

“He is gone and his sssspirit will go back into the tribe even assss hissss former flessssh will feed the broodlingssss,” the lizardmasn explained. “It wasss our own fault to trussst the humansss…”

“And what is this ‘Shannis effect’?” the watch-mage asked.

“Heh, drugs…” Timotheus said derisively when he heard Chok’tem explain that Shannis was a drug made from the pollen of the yellow musk plant and a local mushroom spore. He pulled out his steel flask of foul spirits and took a long swig, offering some to his companions. Sir Quintus was still weeping, huddled in a ball in a corner of the makeshift cage.

“Sir Quintus… Are you ready to talk?” Markos asked. “How shall you have us handle this to avoid scandal?”

“You must wait the time…” Chok’tem said. “His mind will come and go…”

“No… I can talk… I…” Sir Quintus Gosprey coughed and turned around to sit with his back to the wall. His face was sallow, and his eyes narrow slits of bleary red. “Is Valerius here?”

“No, we sent him to see to the horses,” Bleys said.

“Good… I do not want him to see me like this… I don’t not want him to know…”

“I think it may be too late for that, but nevertheless he is not here now,” Timotheus said.

The knight let out a weak sob and was silent for a long moment.

“The time must be waited,” Chok’tem said. “Hissss reassson will come and go…”

Markos shook his head, looking over the cowering knight, the unconscious lizardfolk, and then his injured companions. “This is so typical of what happens when…” He stopped himself.

“Typical of what?” Timotheus asked. “When what?”
Markos looked hesitant to continue, but now everyone was looking at him.

“Typical of… uh, when those in power… um… decide they want to play,” he finally replied nervously, but his words gained more surety as he spoke. “Usually others pay for their fun…”

“Well…” Timotheus began, but he was interrupted by the croak of Sir Quinuts’ voice. “He is right… This is all my fault…”

The knight sat up again and looked at the young nobles outside his cage and shuddered.

“You broke your promisssss!” Chok’tok pointed a clawed finger accusingly at Sir Quintus, hissing.

“When I first…” Sir Quintus looked up suddenly and looked around wide-eyed. “Is Valerius here?”

“No, he is out tending the horses,” Timotheus replied.

“His reason is addled by the Shannis, or lack thereof,” Bleys said. “He has asked that and I have told him already…”

“I just want to be sure…” Sir Quintus’ voice was raw whisper. “I don’t want him to know…”

“Perhaps you should let him come listen,” Markos said, his tone still disapproving. “Right now he is operating under the false notion of what it is to be a knight.”

“No, he has the right notion… It is my actions that are wrong,” the knight said.

“Absolutely!” Timotheus said, frowning. “Most knights aren’t… A lot of knights… uh… not every knight fails to…”

“Just let him explain…” Laarus said.

“If you keep talking like that you are going to make me sick!” The knight’s demeanor changed as a sudden anger came over him. He stared at Markos with real hatred, gritting his teeth.

“So?” Markos replied with a smirk.

“Maybe we should wait to talk about this when he is better…” Timotheus said, but as quickly as it came, the anger was gone and Sir Quintus finally continued.

“When I first sought out the Shannis it was because of its numbing properties… I suffered terrible wounds to my legs and back in the Battle of the Burning Rift that ailed me long after that battle was done… And in seeking it out I discovered the smuggling operation, and justified my more and more frequent returns for the stuff by telling myself I was gaining their trust in order to discover their real leaders and bring down the organization…”

Quintus swallowed hard and looked around again before continuing.

“I… I collected the pollen of the plant from Chok’tem and his people and provided it to the brigands who paid me in the refined product,” Quintus continued. “I wanted to gain their trust and discover where else it was sold… What else it might be used for…”

“Did it work?” Timotheus asked.

“The addiction came on too strongly and quickly,” Quintus replied. “All I know is that the men you call ‘the brigands’ are led by a man named MacHaven, and once I heard him mention a connection in… I think it was Tribunisport… named Connduel.”

Telémahkos looked at Timotheus when Tribunisport was mentioned.

Sir Quintus Gosprey began to cough, and then rolling over on to his hands and knees vomited again as his whole body shuddered. The signers of the charter of Schiereiland moved out of the building to get away from the smell and give the man some privacy to fight off the addiction.

“Do you mind if we camp here in the keep while we wait for him to recover?” Bleys asked Chok’tem

“Has the bloodlust left you humans?” Chok’tem asked.

“I never had any…” Bleys the Aubergine replied, but he looked to the others. “We’re done fighting… Am I correct?”

Everyone nodded or grunted their assent and the group proceeded to make camp in the clearest portion of the courtyard they could find, away from any crumbling walls. Laarus of Ra and Bleys the Aubergine pitched a tent, as Timotheus got some coin from Telémahkos to go pay off Tavius and send him back to town. No one wanted him catching wind of the knight’s state.

“Why don’t you pay him yourself?” Telémahkos asked his cousin.

“I don’t have any money!” Tim complained. He pulled his empty coin pouch from his belt and shook it upside-down in front of his cousin’s face. “I’ve got nothing!”

Telémahkos sighed and handed over two silver coins.

They had Valerius watch over Victoria while the others made camp. They also asked that Chok’tem retrieve the Militant of Anhur’s gear from her dead horse and he complied, covering the pit back up when he was done.

Timotheus returned telling Telémahkos that Tavius wanted a tip as well.

“I’ll handle this…” Telémahkos said, annoyed. He walked out to the muddy field where the guide still waited.

“Off with you!” Telie said to Tavius. “You have made enough profit off of this endeavor… More money than you make in nearly a month’s time…”

“Heh. Awright… Okay,” Tavius smirked and began to get his pony ready for the trip back. “Tell everyone I said good-bye and if you ever need another swamp guide you know where I live and, uh… you know, I hope none of your friends ever find out about your little… uh… delay tactics… It’d be unfortunate…” He winked.

“Yes, and it would be unfortunate for you to end up in the swamp, lifeless,” Telémahkos replied with casual menace.

“Well, you know…” Tavius mounted his pony and turned it. “Sometimes that kind of risk is just part of the job…” He did not appear intimidated by the very thinly veiled threat.

Back at the camp, Telémahkos said to the others, “It seems that Tavius might choose to repay our generosity by spreading ugly rumors…”

“Did you give him a tip?” Timotheus asked.

“I gave him nothing,” Telémahkos replied. “He had had enough.”

“Yeah, but those rumors are the reason why you always tip the help,” Timotheus smiled.


An hour or so later, Bleys the Aubergine sought out Chok’tem once again, asking what Sir Quintus had promised him in exchange for gathering the pollen.

“That he would sssspeak to Lord Sssswann about my tribe,” Chok’tem said. “To give him our messsssage…”

“And what is your tribe called?”

“C’tobe’flau’ka,” Chok’tem replied. “But the humansss have tazen to cauzzing us the Goldenstraw Lizsssardfolk.”

“And what was this message?”

“We had to flee our lands to the far sssouth,” Chok’tem explained, as Markos and Timotheus walked over to join the conversation. “But we knew these were human landsss and did not want to cause conflict. We ozzered to pledge our ssspearsss to Lord Ssswann and to pay tribute in return for protection… ssso that we may not need leaze our landsss again.”

“And what was the response? Did he relay the message?” Bleys asked.

The lizardman shook his head in an exaggerated way that was clearly an imitation of human gestures. “He ssssaid that Lord would need much convinssing… He kept sssaying, ‘more zime’, but he broke promise… He never asked…”

“Where is the rest of your tribe now?” Bleys asked.

Chok’tem would not reply.

“I assume your tribe is more than these four,” Bleys said, and Chok’tem nodded again in his exaggerated way.

“That is none of our business,” Timotheus said.

“Of course, it is our business,” Bleys replied, curtly. The watch-mage turned back to the lizardman. “Why do you not recognize the Thrician Racial Convenant?”

“Our former landsss are not in what the humansss call Thrissssia,” Chok’tem replied. “Far south. Past the rift…”

“The Disputed Territories,” Timotheus said.

“We travel there… Perhaps one of your tribe would be willing to serve as a guide…” Markos suggested.

“And break more promisessss? No!” Chok’tem barked.

“I have broken no promise,” Markos replied.

“I think Lord Swann would be agreeable to such an arrangement,” Bleys said.

“Are you sure?” Timotheus asked.

“To have a tribe of lizardmen to pay your tribute and fight for you… Would this not be a great boon to his House?” Bleys reasoned.

“I agree with you, but I do not think everyone is so open-minded and rational,” Timotheus explained.

Markos continued his futile negotiations with the incredulous Chok’tem, as the others listened on, equally so. Laarus of Ra and Telémahkos had come over as well, but growing bored of the talk stepped away from the building.

“What do you think? If we bring this knight back to Lord Swann we might garner valuable support,” Telémahkos said to the priest.

“Yes, as Swann and Wetherwax are allied, it may even help in discovering more of the pirate plot you spoke of,” Laarus said. “Though I do wish you could say more about it…”

“Well…” Telémahkos looked around to make sure none of his companions were close enough to hear as he lowered his voice. “Would you be willing to overlook the involvement of one of these so-called ‘pirates’ if he were an aid to us in foiling the plot?”

“I would be willing to not seek prosecution if he seemed sincerely willing to redeem himself and give productive aid to our cause,” Laarus said.

“You see this information came to me from someone who is concerned that her brother may do something wrong, but he has not actually done anything wrong yet… And if we can get him to help us and turn away from that life, no one needs to know…” Telémahkos explained.

Laarus of Ra nodded. “As a priest I value truth, but as a noble I understand about discretion…”

Telémahkos told the young priest of Ra about Vanthus Vanderboren and his misguided involvement with smugglers as they made their way back to the camp to await the others.

to be continued. . .


(1) Session #4 was played on Sunday, March 4th (aka GM’s Day!)

(2) Lizardfolk are immune to effect of yellow musk creeper pollen.

(3) Bleys and Valerius worked on the lizardfolk for 5 rounds, but failed the healing check to stabilize it. (Click here for info on Aquerra’s rules for death & dying), and here to see how the heal skill works in Aquerra games.

(4) Victoria lost 7 points of intelligence total, dropping her to a 3.
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el-remmen said:
Whaddya expect from nobility? ;)

Can you rank them in order of least to most prickish? :D
I finally caught up after a few installments got ahead of me. Now that I'm current, I thought I'd pick up this line of op/ed and post some of my impressions on the prick level of the PCs in ascending order:

6. Timotheus: I like the characterization here. I think he is definitely struggling with his newfound ascension to recognized bastard nobility. He's totally rough around the edges and very protective of his ne'er do well cousin. That is very endearing to me. Bravo!

5. Victoria: I like how she's got an impulsive streak there. She clearly wants action and is ready to go for it but also seems to have some conflict with the role of a noble. I really can't wait to see her deal with a purely social situation. I hope she finds the softer side of Sears (not that that's where she should buy her wardrobe! .

4. Laarus: He seems to be holding back a lot. I think there are lots of pressures he's dealing with and I'm interested to see how he balances all the expectations that others are going to burden him with. I think he needs to come out of his shell somewhat but the reason for that shell is perfectly understandable.

3. Telemakhos: I had some trouble between his placement and Laarus', honestly. I think that they are just about even there, as far as pure dickery is concerned. But ultimately, it's Telie's job to be the dick that does some of the things the more honorable party members will not do so he got the higher rating. I really like him, though. Great job! If he ever wants to worship a certain goddess with whiskers and claws, he (the player) knows where to go.

2. Markos: Honestly, he's something of a mystery to me. That might be the point and if so, good work! I am interested in learning a lot more about his past and motivations. I'm hoping that it plays out in a very meaningful and interesting way. But he's a dick. That has some room for interpretation though. I just don't get his point of view yet.

1. Bleys the Aubergine: Wow. He's so beautifully disdainful of others I love it! This is clearly someone who's done well at a difficult training process who's totally oblivious or completely uncaring of the fact that he's probably made a lot of enemies along the way. I have to say I can't wait for him to grow and maybe get a heart. Of course I realize that he may be using his attitude to defend a sensitive psyche but if so, excellent work!

All in all, I really can't wait for more...especially for more Swanns!

Aw, crap! I just realized I have to read the Journal and the Prayers. Sheesh!


First Post
An insightful assessment, BlackCat. Though as to some of the "less dickish" characters, I think we'll find that they're just keeping their dark sides under wraps for the moment. ;)


Ciaran said:
An insightful assessment, BlackCat. Though as to some of the "less dickish" characters, I think we'll find that they're just keeping their dark sides under wraps for the moment. ;)
Why thank you, sir. I did try to keep things away from simply "Wow! What a dick!"

I look forward to seeing the dark side of any character manifest itself in ways that are meaningful and move things along!


Moderator Emeritus
Session #4 - "Delirium Tremens" (part 2 of 4)

Ralem, the 15th of Sek – 566 H.E. (637 M.Y.)

The next day felt agonizingly long. The sun wove its way around gray spitting clouds coming out hot enough to make the swamp sizzle until it made its way behind a strip of cloud again. Timotheus Smith did not let the day go by without forcing Telémahkos to practice his skill at arms. He drove his cousin hard and even sparred with Bleys, commending him on his swordsmanship, for a wizard. Valerius alternated between caring for Victoria and for his master. The latter had spent nearly an hour near dawn ranting at the top of his lungs and then mewling like a tortured kitten about his pain for another before slipping into something closer to a coma than to sleep. Victoria was slightly more clear headed the next day, but not by much. They kept her in the tent as much as possible, and changed the subject whenever she asked for Argos.

Markos spent most of the day with his nose buried in a book, occasionally scribbling a note with a piece of charcoal in the margins.

The night before it had been agreed that they would wait for Sir Quintus Gosprey’s recovery, and decide then what to do with him, and whether to keep his secret. Bleys promised Chok’tem that they would make sure the knight kept his promise and would talk on his behalf to Lord Swann, and that if Sir Quintus would not, he would carry the word himself. Chok’tem did not seem too impressed with the watch-mage’s promises.

As evening fell, Telémahkos and Timotheus went for a walk about the ruin, talking something over; sometimes heatedly. By this time Victoria was much closer to her normal self, but still a bit slow with her words, and had joined the other around the fire that Valerius made for them.

When the cousins returned, Tim sat down, but Telémahkos remained standing. “I just wanted to say something while I had everyone gathered together,” he cleared his throat, and increased his volume to be heard over the cacophony of toads and insects rising with the darkness. “I just wanted to…”

But Timotheus stood, interrupting. “Can I just say something? As a general rule can we just try to stick together in a fight?”

“No!” Telémahkos said. “As a general rule I think tactics are better served by my skills if I stay out of the fight a little while and move in where there is weakness, or to make sure we are not being flanked…”

Markos snorted loudly and then covered his mouth to muffle his laughter.

Telémahkos continued, but glared at the lithe sailor. “…I am not a frontline fighter…”

“But that’s not the same as being a ways away…” Timotheus argued.

“But you have to look at the context, you can’t blame me…” Telémahkos’ voice raised in pitch as did his frustration.

Tim threw his hands up. “I am not talking about blaming or accusing anyone…”

“I am,” Markos said, slipping his words into a pause in Tim’s.

“Oh! C’mon, Markos!” Timotheus snapped. “All I am saying is next time… Let’s do it better next time… Okay? Let’s drop the subject…”

“You’re just delaying the inevitable,” Markos said. “We need to hash this out. Because some people were too busy playing with one lizardman in the rear while everyone else was trying to deal with the real threat, and trying to help Sir Quintus…”

Telémahkos protested, and soon the two of them were yelling at each other regarding tactics and the each person’s role in the party.

“Are you going to fight or what?” Timotheus asked, with a slight mocking tone.

”They are already fighting,” Bleys said in his monotone. “The wounds scored from battles with words often cut deeper than blades.”

“Every word you say just reinforces that are naught but a bleeding cunny,” Markos spat. “Everyone knows why you were running around dealing with one while everyone else did the real fighting, even if they won’t say it…”

“Victoria was with me…” Telémahkos said.

“Are… Did you just call us cowards?” the militant finally spoke, confusion evident in her voice.

“Yes,” Markos said spitefully.

“Let’s let it go…” Timotheus tried.

“I think it better to air it out now,” Laarus spoke up

“No, I concur with Tim,” Markos suddenly changed his tact. “I am getting angry in thinking about the subject, and quite frankly I shouldn’t get angry at all, because this is just about what I expected from a group of nobles… So I apologize to you all… with a few exceptions.”

There were groans around the fire. “Oh, thanks a lot!” Timotheus rolled his eyes.

“The brilliant tactician…” Bleys muttered sarcastically.

“Whu… What exceptions?” Victoria asked, scrunching up her face in confusion, trying to reconstruct the argument in her addled mind. “What don’t you apologize for?”

Markos was taken aback by the question. “I don’t apologize for… anything.”

“My mind may be foggy, but I am not stupid enough to not realize you just contradicted yourself,” Victoria replied. “You just said you apologized… Am I merely confused?”

“You are right,” Markos said, his tone growing more and more petulant. “I do apologize. I apologize for making an issue of something when I should not have a right to be surprised by what I see from you all… which is exactly what I expected…”

“That is no kind of apology!” Victoria said angrily. “That is not an apology where I come from…”

“Basically, he expected us to be idiots, and by not doing what he thinks we should have done we have displayed our idiocy,” Telémahkos said.

“Markos…” Timotheus said calmly. “If Victoria kicks your ass I am not helping you… You are digging your own grave.”

“I am not afraid,” Markos replied. “I have gotten my ass kicked quite often. I am still gonna speak my mind. I am not a coward like some others…” He let his eyes trail towards Telémahkos.

“Fine, then I will give you one night to prepare, and to think over your words,” Victoria stammered. “And if you are still this angry in the morning, then meet me… uh… outside of the keep…”

“The muddy plain beyond the gate would be a good open place for a duel,” Bleys offered.

”Uh… Yes, that will do…” Victoria agreed.

“I’m not gonna wait until tomorrow,” Markos said, as he stood. He raised his hands and gestured with a fist for the militant of Anhur to stand, as he stepped towards her. “Come on. Let’s go. You’ve got an issue? Let’s do it…”

Everyone scooched back a bit and began to get to their feet.

“Markos…” Laarus began.

“Very well…” Victoria said as she slowly stood, but before get all the way to her feet, Markos stepped in and socked her with a hard jab to the chin.

“Treacherous dog!” Victoria roared.

“Okay everyone, give them room! No weapons!” Timotheus said, stretching his arms out to corral the fight away from the fire.

Sighing, Bleys the Aubergine walked away to check on the horses.

“Treacherous? Dog? You all and all of your station are the ones that are treacherous, and pampered and used to getting whatever you want!” He took another swing, but Victoria was no stranger to fighting. She grabbed his arm and twisted it hard behind his body, locking it there.

“Take back your insults,” she said as jerked the arm harder.

“Take back you air of entitlement!” Markos mocked as he shimmied out of her hold and spun around, but was startled by a forearm to the face that was followed by having his head and arm locked against her side. Victoria was not wearing armor, just a simple gray shift over leather trousers. Markos dropped his legs, sending Victoria off balance and she had to let go to keep from falling. She stumbled forward avoiding the wizard’s wild punches, and they struggled for a time, neither one of them getting an advantage, until a well-placed kick between the legs sent Markos stumbling back, gasping.

“Ooh! That’s gotta hurt!” Timotheus called out, his wide smile shining in the firelight.

“Take back your insult to Anhur and my family,” Victoria said.

“If the truth is an insult, then be insulted!” Markos said between gasps. He rushed the militant, but she was ready for him again, grabbing him about the neck and squeezing and twisting, until Markos shuddered and passed out.

“Okay! Let him go. You won!” Timotheus said. She dropped him into the mud, and Laarus and Timotheus carried him over to the tent, making sure he was not hurt too bad.

Isilem, the 16th of Sek – 566 H.E. (637 M.Y.)

The next day Markos crawled out of the tent achingly. He found Telémahkos by the fire pit, practicing his juggling. The blond noble let the stones he was practicing with drop into the mud.

“It is a good thing your own morality is superior to that of nobles, or else you might not have been able to punch a woman in the face,” Telie said with mocking tone.

”She challenged me…” Markos protested.

“Oh yes, I know… And I am sure she was ready for that first blow,” Telémahkos replied. “You know, the only good shot you got in?” He turned to pick up the stones he had let dropped. “Now that I know about your ways, I expect a blow from behind any moment now…” He said without looking at Markos.

“Your kind have gone through life getting everything you ever expected,” Markos continued. “I am not play a part in keeping that up…”

“Yes, right… Because somehow you know something of my life from the few days we have know each other,” Telémahkos replied, finally turning.

“Well, you have done nothing to make me doubt my assumptions,” Markos said.

Bleys was cleaning the horses, and packing gear in hopes of getting out of the bog that day, when Victoria walked over to where the animals were kept.

“Has anyone seen Argos?” she asked, echoing her question from the day before.

“The horse is chum for the plant in the pit,” Bleys replied, in his typical cold demeanor.

“What?” Victoria turned and took a step towards the covered pit, but Timotheus who was walking over stepped in her way.

“It was the plant that caused your befuddlement,” Bleys said. “Stay away.”

“No one tried to get him out there?”

“It fell and broke its legs. You know what happens to horses that break legs,” Bleys said.

“Why don’t you tell her he suffered horribly while you are at it,” Telémahkos said shaking his head as he came over to join the conversation.

“Chok’tem killed it before it could suffer for too long,” Bleys explained.

“You are not going to be insulted by that now, are you?” Markos asked sarcastically, but the sarcasm was lost on the militant of Anhur.

“No, it needed to be done… And I am sure that if the lizardman could not have done it, one of you would have…” Victoria said, with sadness in her voice.

“Of course. I have too much respect for the noble animal to let one suffer like that,” Bleys said.

They went into the ruined stone building to check on Sir Quintus. He was awake and alert and insisted he was ready to be freed and to deal with his obligations. However, when Chok’tem arrived a few minutes later, carrying a mesh bag full of small flopping fish, he said the knight was not yet ready to be let go.

“Perhapsss tomorrow…”

“Perhaps we should leave him here to recover and go speak to Lord Swann ourselves,” Markos suggested.

“Why won’t you let me do it myself?” Sir Quintus asked. “I will do it.”

“Because you are unreliable and without honor,” Bleys replied.

“Let him prove himself,” Laarus said.

“It is just that I want my name kept out of the business with the smugglers and the shannis,” Sir Quintus said. “If I go, I can talk to Lord Swann and keep my promise and give a version of the story that is best for everyone without asking you to lie or omit…” The knight’s voice was a hoarse whisper, and he panted heavily between words, wiping spittle from the corner of his mouth.

“I have already promised to bring word to Lord Swann myself,” Bleys said. “I will not lie to Chok’tem…”

“You said if Sir Quintus did not…” Markos said.

“No, I simply said I would.”

“What if he delivers the message in your presence?” Markos asked.

“That could be satisfactory…” Bleys replied.

“But I cannot go right away,” Quintus interjected. “I need to find my men…”

“Perhaps you do not understand your choices here,” Markos said roughly. “You can come with us from here to talk to Lord Swann in our presence, or you can go your own way and we will tell him the tale and leave no part out. We will not lie for you…”

“But they will be looking for me… I have a responsibility to them…”

“They are most likely back at your keep by now,” Laarus said. “We passed them on the Beach Road several days ago…”

“Then accompany me to Gullmoor so that they might know where I am going, and…” Quintus began.

“For what? So you can have your men arrest or detain us?” Bleys interjected. “I think not.”

“And a true nobleman and knight should take responsibility for his actions,” Victoria said.

“I am more than willing to take responsibility…”

“But you want to leave your name out of it…?” Victoria was puzzled. “Accept your shame and get past it.”

“Maybe in your House things are different…” Sir Quintus said.

“If you are fearful of losing your status in your family for your mistake, I am sorry, but you need to understand that you made a mistake,” Victoria said.

“It is not my own status, but that of my family…”

“Well, your choice is simple and under your own control,” Markos said. “Shall I reiterate it?”

“I shall accompany you…”

Now that that was settled, the Signers of the Charter of Schiereiland made to go back to their camp.

“Wait!” Chok’tem called to them. “I need to asssk ssssomething of you… Pleassssse do not yell and fight in the night… There are other things in the swamp that could be drawn by the noisssse…”

Timotheus and Telémahkos laughed, but Bleys looked at Victoria and Markos sternly, before turning back to the lizardman and nodding.

. . .to be continued. . .

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