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


First Post

Thank you.

It is going to be interesting to see how he holds up if we are on the road/in the middle of nowhere for a long time.

He is a lot more fun to play than dour Ratchis.

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Moderator Emeritus
Session #5 – “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” (Part 1 of 3) (1)

As evening approached the Signers of the Charter of Schiereiland gathered in the common area of the lower level of the citadel, down the hall from their cells. Euleria had just dropped off the itemized list bill of how she had spent the fund she had been provided with, and it showed that only a very small amount was left.

”Well, I think I have a partial solution to our money woes,” Telémahkos said to the others. “I made contact with a merchant named Lowe, and in return for special consideration from me in the future, he has offered his son as a kind of hireling, and gave me two hundred and fifty silver pieces…”

“Special considerations?” Victoria asked.

Telémahkos Briareus explained about his meeting with Cornwallis Lowe, about the expansionist movement that foresees Thricia retaking all or part of the Disputed Territories, and how the merchant’s son was not only well-educated and versed in four languages, but also knew how to fight and had several engagements with bandits and kobolds already while guarding his father’s caravan. (2)

“I was thinking I would put one hundred of those silver pieces into the general fund for Euleria to continue to use, and then pay for the provisions of this extra hireling out of my own money,” Telémahkos explained. “He would be my man…and thus would be my responsibility.”

“So do you plan to use your own divine healing energies to close his wounds or save his life, if he should get wounded?” Bleys the Aubergine asked. He was cleaned up for dinner, his face cleanly shaven.

“What do you mean? Is my devotion to Ra and Anhur in question here for some reason I cannot see?” Telémahkos asked. “I thought…”

“What Bleys is trying to say…” Markos interjected rudely cutting Telie off.

“I was speaking…” Telémahkos said.

“Yeah, and I’m interrupting… What Bleys was trying to say was that while you may claim he will be solely your responsibility, responsibility for him will fall on us all none-the-less,” Markos said, heat already growing in his voice.

“Is that not the case with the other people who have already been hired?” Telémahkos asked, sighing. “We all share in some responsibility for them in the sense that they are our comrades-in-arms…”

“No, I don’t see that at all!” Markos snapped. “We all share equally from the benefits of those other hirelings, while in this case you get all the benefit…”

“That is not the case, I have explained all his skills… Surely that is useful to all of us…”

“And what about the benefit of the side deal you brokered with the merchant that you stand to make a profit off of?” Markos replied.

“How come you to know this Lowe?” Bleys asked. Telémahkos explained about meeting Amalda and her arranging the meeting, as her employer had heard of them and of the charter.

“So you want to add this other hireling,” Victoria of Anhur said, working things out slowly and aloud in her usual way.

“But instead of us paying him, he’s paying us!” Tim smiled.

“He is not paying us…” Telémahkos objected.

“His father is paying us…” Tim corrected.

“He is not paying me, the money is more of an investment,” Telémahkos tried to explain.

“Right! The money is being paid only to Telémahkos and not to the group, that is the difference right there!” Markos said.

The argument exploded. Markos and Telémahkos firing invectives at each other that echoed out of the common area and down the narrow stone corridor beneath the citadel somewhere.

The former harped on and on about how the latter would be benefiting off of the rest of the group’s effort while trying to make it sound like he was doing the group a favor by “taking responsibility”. Telémahkos explained that he meant legal responsibility in terms of fines and restitution if the servant were to cause harm.

“That just shows how much a weasel you are,” Markos said. “You do not get to define the debate to some narrow definition of responsibility and then expect us to swallow it!”

Telémahkos offered to put all the money he had gained into the group fund as long as everyone agreed to be equally responsible and honor the agreement with Cornwallis Lowe. Markos refused.

“I have no desire for monetary gain by this method,” he said.

“Then why do you care?” Timotheus asked.

“It is a matter of principle,” Markos replied. “Why should he get to manipulate the group into abetting one his schemes so that he might make a profit?”

Bleys the Aubergine had Markos explain his position again directly to him, and then the watch-mage tried to explain it in more neutral words to Telémahkos. He then had Telémahkos explain to him his position, but as Bleys began to explain to Markos, the former captive of pirates made a comment that Telémahkos felt compelled to reply to directly, and the argument exploded again.

Bleys sat back abandoning his attempt at mediation with only the slightest gradation in his typical indifference. To those who knew him well, it might have indicated disgust…

Timotheus Smith stood from the table looking for the page that had been there, as he wanted wine, but there were no servants around. He remembered that they would all be due at the dinner soon, pressing his fine doublet smooth against his chest with the palm of his big hand.

Markos stomped out of the room, throwing his hands in the air, and Timotheus went after him. They returned a few moments later, and in the meantime, Telémahkos told the others a bit more about the merchant’s son.

“But you have not met him?” Bleys asked.


“Have you something to add now?” Bleys asked Markos as he came back in. The young mage wore the prideful glare only a teenager can perfect.

“No… It will come down to a vote, and I know most people here don’t care, and Telémahkos will be able to take advantage of the group for his own good,” Markos said.

“So you object to this whole thing in principle?” Timotheus asked.

“I have already made clear why I object to this,” Markos began. He explained again how Telémahkos was manipulating them, but Telie took exception to how his position was being characterized.

“I am doing you a favor!” Telie said.

“You see! He takes us all for fools!” And the argument exploded yet again; Telémahkos trying to downplay the chances of his profiting greatly from the deal, and bringing up the possibility of his taking a loss, while Markos insisting that making deals that would net Telémahkos perhaps tens of thousands of silver pieces was not doing them a favor.

A young servant boy stuck his head in the door and looked around.

“Yes?” Markos asked brusquely.

“Uh, um… I was told to come tell you that dinner will begin in thirty minutes time,” the servant said.

Markos thanked him.

“If I am going to be thought so low of by this whole group, I will not be able to stay in this charter,” Telémahkos said, looking to someone for some support.

“I believe that is a topic that you would need to take up with your father,” Bleys said, and Telie scowled at the watch-mage.

Laarus of Ra asked Telémahkos more details regarding the deal, but Markos interrupted, explaining again it was not the details he objected to, but rather how Telie presented it. Before the argument could take off a fourth time, Timotheus insisted the group vote on it right away and move on. But an actual vote turned out to be unnecessary. No one was as adamant about the issue as Markos was, and aside from asking Telémahkos to show her the receipt he had gotten from the merchant and some clarification of what “special considerations” meant, the topic was dropped.

“It makes most sense to decide if we are actually going to Tribunisport first before making such decisions anyway,” Bleys said.

“I am getting to that,” Telémahkos said. “It seems there might be some connection between the planned attack on House Wetherwax and the Disputed Territories after all…” Telémahkos explained how his source had revealed that Rubes, or ex-Rubes were among the smugglers, bringing goods out of the Kingdom of the Red God of the West for sale in Thricia. He told them how Kraken’s Cove was the name of the place where smugglers met to trade the illicit goods and move them out.

“And pirates?” Victoria asked.

“I don’t know if they are pirates,” Telémahkos replied. “They are smugglers. If once they get in their ships they start attacking other ships or raiding villages, then they are pirates, too…”

“My point is,” He continued. “There is reason to think that this smuggling operation may be the source of the attack on Wetherwax, and the motive behind it may be a move on the part of the Kingdom of the Red God of the West to prepare for invasion. And… it seems the man I am looking for, the merchant’s son I mentioned… that is where he is headed…”

“Explain what you mean by ex-Rubes,” Bleys asked,

“People of the Kingdom of the Red God of the West who are no longer of the faith,” Telémahkos explained. “Or at least, they claim to be, but it may be that they funnel coin back to their kingdom for whatever plots they may have…”

He went on to explain how a man named Crumb was recruiting crews for the smuggler ships in Tribunisport, and had drawn a good number of Herman-landers seeking to flee conscription for just this work. He told them that his source had provided Crumb as a means to get into Kraken’s Cove.

“Who is this source?” Bleys asked.

“I cannot say,” Telémahkos replied.

“Of course,” Victoria commented with a smirk.

“I too have heard of this Kraken’s Cove and was told to seek employment there in Tribunisport,” Markos backed up Telie’s story.

“And if people are being recruited for this attack, whether willingly or no, it makes sense to use both ex-Rubes and Herman-landers which cannot be traced back to the Kingdom of the Red God of the West.”

“That makes sense to me,” Markos replied, slowly leaving the sullen state that had settled on him after the arguing. “And if we are willing to take a cue from an old bard’s tale, perhaps we can arrange to get ourselves hired on if we were to properly disguise ourselves.”

“I had considered that,” Telémahkos said, careful to keep his tone innocuous as to keep the discussion flowing smoothly, as he and Markos seemed to be on the same page. He turned to the others. “Look, you wanted more information about the attack, and it seems to me that this is the place to go to get that information. All we need to do is get Euleria to announce that we are going somewhere else other than Tribunisport, and then while we are there Markos and I will make contact with this Crumb and we will take it from there…”

There was a brief discussion about whether it was better to take the guise of merchants looking to buy goods or that of sailors, but Victoria interrupted it by expressing concern about the ruse and her honor as a militant of Anhur, and that of Laarus.

“Keep in mind,” Telémahkos explained to her. “Kraken’s Cove is a meeting place for trade not a pirate war camp. If it is a place that otherwise legitimate merchants go to then it is doubtful it will be a place of wanton evil that will force you to drop your guise and endanger us…”

“If we are to go, I much prefer we go as merchants,” Laarus of Ra said. “As pirates we may be tempted to act poorly, as merchants, we may remain within the law…”

“Kraken’s Cove strikes me as a lawless place altogether…” Bleys said.

“But not so lawless or else it could never be maintained as a place to trade,” Telémahkos said. “And as long as we look like we can handle ourselves we are less likely to draw unwanted attention.”

“It seems this course of action is a lot more to go on to help people than to wander aimlessly in the Disputed Territories looking for dervishes, or raiding some tombs,” Markos said.

“And, technically, Kraken’s Cove is in the Disputed Territories, so we can always go on from there if we want to,” Telémahkos added.

It was agreed that they would see about heading to Tribunisport the next day, but once that was agreed upon, Bleys Winter brought up the subject of the expense of the hirelings, and how they were of less use in going to Kraken’s Cove than to the King Stones.

Another servant came to remind them that dinner would be starting in a few minutes. Telémahkos thanked him and flipped him a copper piece. They continued their discussion.

“I think we should get rid of the two hirelings were paying and keep the one we’re not paying,” Telémahkos suggested.

“And the porter?” Bleys asked.

“Dismiss him, too… I don’t know whose crazy idea that was,” Markos said.

Timotheus was against it, feeling it’d be rude to dismiss them after their having done nothing, and wanting more warm fighting bodies around whether the party went to the Disputed Territories or to Kraken’s Cove.

“They have been more than amply compensated for their time,” Bleys said.

“And I will throw them some extra coin to keep them in our good graces in case we ever need to re-hire them,” Telémahkos offered. “We don’t want to have to pay them for sitting around while we do our investigations, and the less people we have to sneak into Kraken’s Cove, the easier it will be to pull off…”

“I have been of the mind that we were too hastily hiring these men since the idea was first brought up,” Bleys added.

“If this cove is in the Disputed Territories, why not go there overland?” Timotheus asked.

“It can only be reached by the sea,” Telémahkos said.

The suggestion was made by Laarus to send Falco and Dunlevey to the Border Shires to gather information and scout out the area, surveying for possible danger and perhaps making contacts. The boy hired as porter would be dismissed and a lower fee could be negotiated for times when the hirelings would not be involved in combat.

Markos heartily supported his cousin’s idea, and Timotheus was in favor of it as well, but Telémahkos and Bleys were against it, and Victoria was unsure they would agree to it. So, it was decided to let the hirelings decide for themselves. If they accepted the terms they would be sent off, if not, they would be dismissed, but everyone agreed on dismissing the porter either way.

Wanting for everyone to be fully informed in case the information became important at dinner, Bleys went on to tell the group what he had learned about the area of the King Stones from Oroleniel the Salmon.

A brief discussion on the differences between the Beast Gods and the gods of Ra’s Pantheon, and whether violating tombs consecrated to one might violate the sacred laws of the other, was interrupted by Bleys explaining that most of these places had been violated by the goblins and other creatures living there centuries ago. He went on to point to the map they had gained from Joezyn Barhyte (3) showing where the words “Ray-Ree” were written in charcoal along one side.

“That is the barbarian tribe that once defended those tombs,” the watch-mage said. “They long ago either failed at or abandoned that duty, but their descendents still consider this their lands. So my thinking was, we should endeavor to ally ourselves with these people if possible, and rather than plunder these tombs, we can help them to clean them out their goblin vermin, and thus gain something more valuable, a potential powerful ally… That is, if can convince their barbarian minds of the value of such an alliance.”

“That is a good idea,” Telémahkos said. “If they can be taught to be more effective warriors they can be an effective defense against the forces of the Kingdom the Red God of West…”

“Um… Sirs?” There was a young voice at the doorway. “Dinner has begun…”

The young nobles all leaped out of their seats and hurried out into the hall and up to the dining room, led by the servant.

. . .to be continued. . .

(1) This session was played on March 18th, 2007. Experience points were awarded at the beginning of the session, but no one gained enough to advance in level.

(2) See InterSession #4.3

(3) Joezyn Barhyte was met in Session #1. You can see the map by clicking here
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First Post
Wow, we did NOTHING that session (okay, part 1 of 3 so it wasn't an entire session in the common room but at times it felt that way). So awesome. ;)

You do a great deal depicting the ponderous nature of the arguing without making the retelling ponderous as well.

The good and bad of it is that I love playing Telie in almost any circumstance, but that also means I can play through hours of arguing if not reigned in. :)


Moderator Emeritus
And so, it finally happens.

Today we played Session #7, but I never got a chance to finish writing up Session #6 for the story hour before today, so I am now officially behind for the first time.

What does this mean for the loyal readers?

Not much in the short-term as I am just now starting to post Session #5, but in the next week or so the installments are going to slow way down to something less frequent than every two to four days, which was how often I was posting until now.

Crunch time is upon me for the end of my first semester of grad school, so with all the papers and reading I have to do, time for the story hour is not as plentiful. . .

But. . . be that as it may, expect another installment tomorrow night or the day after.


Moderator Emeritus
Session #5 – “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?” (Part 2 of 3)

The dining room was a large chamber decorated with marble. There was a broad open window with intricately carved painted wooden shutters, which were open to reveal the beautiful pea-green waters of Drie-Hoek Bay, shining in the dying light of the evening sun. The long table was covered in lovely ceramic plates inlaid with tiny figures of golden swans, and tall intricate silver candelabras holding yellow candles.

Young Lord Swann’s family and entourage were announced before he was, as each of the signers of the Charter of Schiereiland stood at their chairs smelling the delicious food that had been laid out on a sideboard.

There was the citadel’s seneschal Corwin Locksley, a tall man of plain features and long blond hair, and the Grand Vizier, Tiperol Dust, a dark and handsome man in robes that were designed to suggest those traditional to the Academy of Wizardry, but did not cross the line to inappropriately similar. He could not have been more than five or six years older than Bleys; young to hold the obscure title of Grand Vizier. (1)

In came Sir Novius Wilmus Swann, who walked over and shook Bleys’ hand with cold polite recognition. The well-known knight, now closing in on fifty summers, was married to one of the Margrave’s aunts, and knew the young watch-mage from his time at the Golden Tower of the West, seat of House Schemerhorn.

He nodded to others.

Decima Aurora Swann was a pale and swollen middle-aged woman with a nervous demeanor and an awkward gait. Timotheus greeted her happily, explaining who he was, as her young son, Heydricus, was being fostered at High Talon. She had a breathy nervous twitter that was always echoed with a weak cough. Decima was followed by Novaluna Julia Swann, a young plump, but pretty girl of about sixteen years, with fine golden brown hair. Her shoulders sagged and she took her seat without looking over the guests.

Sir Septimias Benedict Swann was her brother. About the same age as the young noble guests, but with a prideful stature that made him seem older. He had the same golden brown hair as his sister, and upon hearing his name several members of the party remembered the reputation his name had garnered: Lizardbane.

The penultimate arrival was Lord Swann’s young sister, Octavia Camilla Swann. Quiet, pale and petite, she was dressed in long white dress with a black collar. Her strawberry blonde hair in two braids was wrapped up into bun and held together by a lovely scrimshaw comb.

Lord Septimias Gaius Swann entered last, not overly tall or particularly handsome, it was not hard to see eager youth in his eyes. He wore long white tunic trimmed in gold thread and tied with a black sash. His hair was darker than his sister’s, and he wore a sword to dinner.

There was little conversation during the first course, a pinkish crab bisque, but as plates of bitter greens drizzled with oil were served, the young lord began to address them.

“If you are permitted to say, what brings you, specifically, to New Harbinger so soon after the signing of your charter?” Lord Swann asked.

“We have traveled here only as a stop on our way to further journeys,” Laarus of Ra replied for the group.

“I will take that as meaning that you are not at liberty to say,” Lord Swann let out a short laugh, and everyone around the table echoed it with forced laughter of their own. Markos noted that Novaluna Julia Swann still sat downcast, and her own soft laughter was delayed and brief.

“Would it be rude of me to bring up business while we eat?” Lord Swann continued. “I’d hate to bore everyone else, but you will forgive me these digressions from typical polite dinner talk, yes?”

Everyone nodded and agreed.

“I received a visit from Sir Quintus Gosprey last night, at quite a late hour for an unannounced visit,” His voice was a pleasant tenor made sour by a penchant to emphasis the lower registers of his voice, as if still playing at being a man. “But he made this business with the lizardfolk you aided him with seem fairly important. What is your take on these creatures wanting to pledge their spears to House Swann? Very unusual, don’t you think?”

“Unusual perhaps, but advantageous to your House,” Bleys said.

Telémahkos thanked a servant as his glass of wine was refilled automatically for the fourth time.

“That is very gracious,” Lord Swann said to him, as Markos thinking he was following proper etiquette loudly thanked a servant helping him as well. “But you should not thank servants… It makes them insolent.”

“If infrequent and sincere appreciation should not spoil them,” Telémahkos replied smiling.

“Well… As they say, different people have different ways to handle servants and children!” Lord Swann laughed again, and again it was echoed around the table. This time Markos had to fight off the scowl that was creeping on to his face. Julia Swann was coughing into her napkin. “But to continue with the topic at hand…”

“Was that all he said of the lizardfolk, that they wanted to be recognized in this way?” Telémahkos asked.

“He said there was some sort of misunderstanding with the lizardfolk and they had felt threatened, and that after a brief fight you had helped him convince them to abandon their violent plans, and to seek more diplomatic means of living peaceably with the people of Bog End as their neighbors,” the lord explained.

“I would not want to contradict the honorable knight’s story, but I would have to say they were never had any kind of violent intention to begin with,” Telémahkos commented. “As was said, it was a misunderstanding.”

“Yes, they seemed very agreeable,” Laarus added.

“Yes, they can sometimes seem that way,” Sir Septimias Benedict Swann joined the conversation. “Were you able to determine where their village is?”

There was a long pause as the signers of the Charter of Schiereiland looked at each other surreptitiously up and down the table. Finally, Victoria answered, “We required a guide to arrive where we found the lizardfolk, and I do not think any of us can give reliable directions to where that was…”

“And it was not a village,” Markos added.

“There is no village in the swamp,” Laarus of Ra put it more succinctly. “They came from the Disputed Territories and are still looking for permission to really settle the area, as we have said…”

“Yes… yes…” Lord Swann broke back in impatiently. “I will have to send my own agent…” He gestured to Sir Septimias. “For you know, even when such savage creatures make overtures to peace, their bestial natures cannot be trusted to maintain that attitude…”

“Excuse me…”Markos spoke up. “If I may ask, are there many people moving into that swamp? I mean, is it a disputed area that might see some conflict with the locals if the lizardfolk move in?”

Lord Swann frowned at Markos from way across the table. The skinny sun-tanned mage had been seated as far from the head of the table as he could be and not be across from the lord. Timotheus was on that end the table himself.

“What do I know of the swamp and its people?” Lord Swann asked dismissively, his voice rising up to its normal tenor in his annoyance, but he followed it with a smile and a laugh that was once again echoed by the other diners.

Bleys the Aubergine offered to return to the bog with Sir Septimias Benedict Swann to help with negotiations and investigations. He explained that having already made contact with the tribe, he might be suited to aid in the endeavor.

“We could all go,” offered Victoria. “Some of our members speak their tongue…”

“Really?” Lord Swann’s young face brightened with a mischievous smile. “Which is that?”

Markos raised his hand.

“Oh, you could you entertain us a bit with the strange lizard tongue?” Lord Swann asked, his youth becoming more and more evident.

“Certainly, I will be happy to entertain you,” Markos said, biting back his disgust. He stood and began to trill and hiss saying common and simply phrases while considered what kinds of insults he might slip in, but catching the eyes of Sir Septimias Benedict, he changed his mind, figuring there was a good chance the knight known as ‘lizardbane’ might understand him.

Everyone applauded politely when he was done.

“Oh! What a foul tongue!” Octavia Camilla Swann said in her weak voice. It was the first time she spoke, and she hardly touched her food. She appeared close to emaciated, with her high cheekbones jutting out awkwardly to distort what might have been a pretty face.

Suddenly, Telémahkos stood and barked some harsh syllables. “Can anyone guess what tongue that is?”

“It’s hobbo,” Timotheus said, and Telémahkos sneered, feeling that his cousin had ruined his fun by stating what he obviously knew. The discussion veered towards hobgoblins, and the danger they posed in the north.

“Now those are creatures that will never agree to the terms of the Thrician Racial Covenant,” Timotheus commented.

“But that would not be the case with these lizardfolk,” Bleys brought the subject back. “And imagine being able to open up a new avenue of trade if this tribe could be used to guard the Beach Road… I would be honored to help negotiate such agreements…”

“Hmm, your suggestion about the Beach Road is a very good one… But, I will allow my noble cousin, Sir Septimias to decide if such aid is needed,” Lord Swann. “We handle our own affairs very well, and I have been taking a very open-minded and forward-looking approach to my newly acquired full lordship.”

Julia let out a little muffled laugh and then covered it with another cough. Her brother, shot her a disapproving look.

The next course was huge slabs of shark steak with a side of pilaf and steamed vegetables, and Lord Swann turned the discussion of news of the Herman Land Civil War. (2) Lord Swann told of a tactic the Black Islanders were now using. Adventuring parties were hired to attack crowded civilian areas, while a second group used the distraction to steal or destroy something. He mentioned the specific instance of the attack in Swampstop market that was used to cover theft from the Vaults of Draconis.

“It is a foul foul practice,” Lord Swann said. “It one thing to use such groups for a specific mission or accomplish some precise tactical attack to cripple war industry, but to purposefully do wanton damage to the general populace? There is no honor in such a means of war.”

There was speculation that such tactics might indicate desperation on the part of the Black Islands, but Telémahkos pointed out that all news he ever heard were in regards to the Black Islands winning battles and repelling invaders before they even got to shore. “The news sounds ill to me,” he said.

“What do you think of those that say the Magocracy of Thricia should become involved in the war?” the Lord asked.

“I would agree,” Timotheus said. “The Black Islanders are Set-worshipers…”

“Long has the magocracy had ties with Herman Land,” Laarus said, his quiet even tone forcing everyone to listen closely to his words. “It may be that we need to come to their aid, not only for sake of friendship, but for a safer world.”

“But out own enemy is so close,” Telémahkos said, referring to the Kingdom of the Red God of the West. “I would hate for the Black Islands to somehow rouse up their desire to conquer all of the Spice and Thread Islands.”

“Oh! That would never happen!” The Grand Vizier finally spoke, dismissing the suggestion. “The Rubes hate Setites as much as they hate any who worship the true gods of Ra’s pantheon. They are not ones to make allies…”

“But might they not be manipulated into attacking?” Telémahkos asked.

“Heh… I guess that is possible, but regardless there is the matter of honor in aiding ones who aided us, as in the war against the Kingdom of the Red God of the West a few hundred years ago,” Tiperol Dust said, obviously proud of his own knowledge of history. “While they had to withdraw when their king died and his heir did not have the same fervent interest in pursuing the war, we cannot let that past flaw mar our alliance. We can show them what it is to finish a war… If their aid had not been withdrawn, perhaps today there would be no Kingdom of the Red God of the West, and the magocracy’s influence would hold sway over all of the Spice and Thread Islands…”

They moved on to talk about the current state of border disputes and skirmishes, and Sir Septimias Benedict Swann assured them that while there were more of late, there were not so many more as to be unusual or noteworthy. Lord Swann made sure to add that he felt the halflings of the Border Shires were helping to exacerbate the problem with their frequent jaunts into the Disputed Territories to seek out Rubes that might be found there and raid and sabotage their homesteads.

“But I thought you said you were in favor of retaking the Disputed Territories and the driving of the Rubes out of the there,” Timotheus said, referring to earlier in the conversation.

“Yes! But that is not for any one House or group of Houses to decide and take such actions on their own,” Lord Swann said. “The Treaty of Devil’s Grasp was not made with one House, but with all of Thricia, and only the Margrave can rescind its provisions…”

“Perhaps the treaty can be re-negotiated, to split the Disputed Territories,” Telémahkos offered.

“Why should we do that?!” the Lord became flush with easy adolescent anger. “All that land was once ours, down to the southern tips and the fertile river delta. If we are going to re-take it, then we should re-take it all on principle alone!”

Dessert was a delicious custard. Afterwards, Lord Swann excused himself, and retired along with his sister and the seneschal. He thanked the young nobles for their attendance and offered them the hospitality of his house for their entire stay in New Harbinger. “Interestingly, my other cousin, Sir Septimias Benedict’s younger brother, was perhaps going to join your charter, and his father was in negotiations to do that when he was called abroad, and his son decided to accompany him instead.” (3)

Julia clucked her tongue, gaining another stern look from her brother and a roll of the eyes from Octavia Camilla Swann.

Another round of drinks were poured, and the table was cleared, as some fruit, cheese and crackers were laid out on the sideboard along with small cask of very fine ale. The remaining dinner guests stood to partake and mingle some before retiring for the night.

Victoria stood off a bit on her own listening to Bleys, Laarus, Markos and Telémahkos talk with Sir Septimias the Lizardbane about the Goldenstraw Lizardfolk and the knight’s experience with lizardfolk in general. Markos provoked the knight into telling takes of his exploits against lizardfolk in the past. Sir Septimias told a long tale involving the slaughter of an entire village (including crushing all the eggs), and how human corpses had been found in a hut hanging on hooks and being smoked. He described in grizzly detail their missing limbs and bitten out chunks.

“We don’t have to worry about any quandaries of demeanor in Schiereiland,” Telémahkos said. “Hobgoblins are always your enemy and always seek to kill you.”

Decima Aurora Swann kept Timotheus away from the conversation by taking her time in excusing herself with many little coughs, nervous laughs and awkward silences. He gave her news of her son, (4) and she thanked him and wished him a good night. Timotheus was then roped into a conversation with the long-winded Sir Novius Wilmus Swann, who told of his part in the raiding of the slaver city of Highport. When Tim was finally able to get to the conversation with the others, it had moved to talk of the Hobgoblins of the Blue Claw, and he leapt into the subject readily.

Markos pulled Laarus away to ask his cousin if he thought it was okay to return to their rooms. The young priest of Ra suggested his cousin stay longer as to not appear rude, so the former sailor stood to one side, looking around with discomfort. He noticed Novaluna Julia Swann was standing by herself, drinking wine. She looked up and caught his eye and sauntered over, dragging her feet in an unladylike manner.

“Who are you again?” she asked, with easy familiarity. Markos introduced himself and they talked a little about the University of Thricia.

“Get tired of my brother’s stories?” she asked, with obvious disdain.

“I just worry that the situation with the lizardfolk will come to violence when it does not have to,” Markos said with his usual honestly.

“Heh… It is unfortunate that my father, the Re… the former regent is not in power here anymore,” she replied, quietly, looking around. “He would not have sent my brother for a mission that requires a touch more delicacy that my sycophantic brother has…”

Markos looked at her a little cow-eyed, and then buried his face in his mug taking a long sip.

She continued, “It is too bad that we live in a society where power is inherited regardless of worthiness…”

“I… I am surprised to hear someone verbalize thoughts that echo my own,” Markos said.

“Well… My eyes have only recently been opened,” she replied. “I realized that even the words pledged to family could be cast aside for ambition…”

“Novaluna Julia…” Markos touched her arm with sudden affection. “Thank you…” She looked at him a bit nervously, and then looked down and took half a step away. Markos took his hand away, realizing he was breaking the rules of etiquette. “I…uh… just wanted to thank you for showing me that I am not alone in thinking this way.”

“Let us just hope that when the time comes for choices to be made that will effect the direction of our fine nation that those people who think as we do are not too afraid to speak up…” she replied.

Soon, the after-dinner mixer ended, and the young nobles were shown back to their room by a couple of pages with candles. Bleys and Laarus continuing a conversation about what the legal status of the lizardfolk would be if they served the Lord, but did not sign the racial covenant. After changing out of their nicer clothes, they settled back into the common room to continue their discussions, though Timotheus and Telémahkos took a little longer to arrive.

As Timotheus walked past Telémahkos’ room, the latter pulled his cousin into it. “Tim, come here, there is something I have been wanting to tell you for awhile now…”

“Sorry, but you’re not my type,” Timotheus smiled.

“You only wish,” Telémahkos said, pushing his cousin with playful aggression. He closed the door and kept his voice down as he explained some secrets to his cousin that he had long kept regarding the death of his brothers. Timotheus’ own brother had been among those who went down with the Siren. Telie also revealed an aspect of the deal with Lowe he had not mentioned to the others; the merchant’s daughter.

“I just wanted to come clean with you, because I trust you,” Telémahkos said. “But the others don’t need to know right now.”

“I understand,” Timotheus replied. “There is no telling how Markos might react. You and he seem to really butt heads, huh?”

“Yeah, I don’t know what is wrong with him,” Telie said. “I think he is just jealous of me or something…”

“Yeah, what happened to him? He was so laid back and fun to be around when we first met, and then we get on the road and he changes,” Timotheus was perplexed. They rejoined the others. They had been left more fruit, bread and cheese, and slices of cold meat. There were several carafes of wine.

Worried that Sir Septimias Benedict Swann, the Lizardbane, would like no better than to slay the entirety of Chok’tem’s tribe, Bleys suggested that they would have to go back. “At the very least we have to warn the lizardfolk, even if we are not invited to accompany Sir Septimias Benedict,” he said.

“It might make more sense to go without him anyway,” Markos suggested. “If it is to give a warning…”

“I do not think we have to go back,” Laarus said, looking to Bleys. “The message has been delivered as promised, and now the due authority is looking into matter. We have done our part.”

“I disagree,” Markos said. And so discussion began again in earnest. Now, in addition to choosing between the Disputed Territories and Tribunisport, most of them felt they might need to back track to Bog End and warn Chok’tem. The debate grew heated.
Laarus looked down at his hands. He found himself unconsciously rubbing at his fingers with his thumb. He wiped his palms for he felt some viscous sticky substance on them. There was a flash of white, and suddenly his hands were all that were in his distorted field of vision, they were covered in something black and sharp with the smell of brine and burning…

Wooden planks creaked beneath Laarus’ feet and he felt it pitch to one side. Suddenly there was an explosion…
Laarus jerked forward and splattered bile all over the table. The others jumped back. The priest of Ra looked up and swayed for a moment before his eyes came into focus. He grabbed a napkin to wipe his chin.

“Heh. Laarus can’t hold his liquor,” Timotheus laughed.

“Are you okay?” Victoria put her hands under each shoulder to prop him a bit, but the priest shook her off.

“I am fine,” he said. “I have suffered from such spells since I was a child. It is nothing to be concerned about.”

The debate continued heatedly as Bleys stood and walked over to the doorway, still listening. Then, looking up and down the hall he hurried over to one end, where a guard stood at the foot of spiral stone staircase. The watch-mage could hear the murmur of his companions’ voices from here, and he knew that in total silence, what they discussed could be overheard. He asked the guard to fetch the court physician for Laarus, a servant to clean the vomit, and for a message to be sent for Oroleniel the Salmon to be summoned.

“I understand the lateness of the hour, but it is crucial Academy business,” he said.

When Bleys the Aubergine came back into the room, he reminded everyone to keep their voices down.

It was nearly an hour later that the half-elf watch-mage arrived. Before that, a little bald man calling himself the court physician arrived to examine Laarus Raymer of Ra. The priest of Ra accompanied the little man back to his cell, but refused to be examined, dismissing him, and re-joined his friends soon after.

Oroleniel was introduced to others, and was quickly brought up to speed about the situation with the Goldenstraw Lizardfolk and Sir Septimias Benedict Swann the Lizardbane. Agreeing that the knight could not be trusted to truly attempt peaceful means of resolution with the lizardfolk, he volunteered to go and make contact with them and warn them. He would invoke his authority as a watch-mage to insist on accompanying the knight.

“If I can’t get the powers that be in this town to like me, I might as well start getting them to dislike me,” Oroleniel said with a smirk of amused resignation. “If I need to, I can always recruit Sir Quintus Gosprey, you said you helped him…”

“Yes, do that,” Telémahkos suggested. “Just tell him, we told you that he knows what’s at stake…”

With that out of the way, the local watch-mage bid them farewell and left. The young noble adventurers put it to a final vote, regarding deciding whether to go to Tribunisport or explore the Kingstones. Bleys and Timotheus voted for the Kingstones.

“I’m not fighting ogres,” Telémahkos said as he raised his hand to vote for Tribunisport. Laarus, Markos and Victoria’s hands joined his.

. . .to be continued…


(1) Grand Vizier is a an obscure and antiquated term from the Third Age in the time of the Six Kingdoms.

(2) The Herman Land Civil war began in 563 H.E. when the Black Islands Barony attacked Teamsburg under cover of night in the first attack in a war of independence.

(3) This is a reference to Octavian Malathias Swann, who was to be a player character in the campaign if his player (Black Cat) had made the cut as part of the group. The naming convention for the Swanns and some of the basic organization/lineage of the House were developed with his help.

(4) The tradition of fostering children with other noble houses developed in the times when the noble houses often warred with each other in the Third Age, as a means of keeping hostages and reinforce agreements and treaties. In the modern era, it is seen as a way to foster friendships between noble families and a means of getting a diverse education.
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Gold Roger

First Post
Finally found the time to catch up. I have to say that I really like this group, even far more than the OotFP group at any point. They are all so entertaining.

Some thoughts on the individual characters:

-Timotheus: He's the battle leader. Not one for the finer points of ettiquette, he's the character most liely to be able of taking charge if need be. He's the most likely "gets along with everyone" candidate.

-Telémahkos: The kind of character that pushes every button. A facilator of troublesome situations that manages to be entertaining and not annoying (from the outside view). Imho, every proactive group needs such a character to keep the action coming. Completely opposite from Ratchis, who always sought to minimize trouble.

-Bleys and Laarus: I mention those two together because I really like their combination. Basically Laarus seems everything Bleys wants to be/thinks he is. A good judge of character, a mediator, mostly level headed thinker and wise counselor. Of course, Bleys could be all these things if it wasn't for his overreaching confidence, while Laarus seems to be quite low on the confidence department and hindered in his role.

Laarus also reminds me a lot of Beorth and the role he played in the OotFP group. Beorth was my favorite for some time back then, but the next two characters beat out Laarus in this campaign. Btw, I love the hook of Laarus little attacks. Can't wait for the explanation for that.

-Victoria: I dunno, she's kinda funny. Maybe because she's had some pretty bad luck so far (getting that big hit from the yellow musk creeper) or because she always is a little awkward. She's also quite different from the clichee of the warrior women I kinda expected. She's actually quite close in character to some of the female soldier I've met/seen so far in the airforce, which makes her a fair bit more believable than the old clichee.

-Markos: A complete neurotic wrack of a jerk by the looks of it. He actually seems quite simmilar to Kazrack, as both where the biggest initiators for intra party conflict so far. But while Kazrack always annoyed me a little with his stubborn way, Markos quite simply cracks me up. I mean, that guy has some serious issues and he just keeps exploding over insignificant conflicts. Kazrack was defiant because of principles, Markos is defiant out of principle.

I think my favorite part so far was the "duell" between Markos and half-drugged Victoria. Though the resent episode at the Swann's was great as well. That familie is one aristocratic mess. Kudo's to you and black cat on them.


Moderator Emeritus
Yo Rog! Nice to see you see you back, and I am glad you are enjoying it.

Below are some comments on your thoughts on individual characters:

Gold Roger said:
Timotheus: He's the battle leader. Not one for the finer points of ettiquette, he's the character most liely to be able of taking charge if need be. He's the most likely "gets along with everyone" candidate.
I think he is the potential battle leader, but he definitely is not there yet - both in terms of the story hour and how far we have gotten in the campaign ahead of that has been posted. But I do agree that he is most likely to get along with everyone equally well.

Gold Roger said:
-Telémahkos: The kind of character that pushes every button. A facilator of troublesome situations that manages to be entertaining and not annoying (from the outside view). Imho, every proactive group needs such a character to keep the action coming. Completely opposite from Ratchis, who always sought to minimize trouble.
As a DM this is my favorite kind of character just because of what you describe. Of course, if everyone tried to play a similar character I would hate it - but it is nice to have some to feed adveristy and plot-hooks to who will eat it up eagerly. :)

Gold Roger said:
-Bleys and Laarus: I mention those two together because I really like their combination. Basically Laarus seems everything Bleys wants to be/thinks he is. A good judge of character, a mediator, mostly level headed thinker and wise counselor. Of course, Bleys could be all these things if it wasn't for his overreaching confidence, while Laarus seems to be quite low on the confidence department and hindered in his role.

Laarus also reminds me a lot of Beorth and the role he played in the OotFP group. Beorth was my favorite for some time back then, but the next two characters beat out Laarus in this campaign. Btw, I love the hook of Laarus little attacks. Can't wait for the explanation for that.
I can see what you are getting at here, but I think it might be a little over-stated. I don't think Laarus quite is what Bleys wants to be, but he represents the potential for those leadership skills that Bleys is capable of and that should be expected from a priest of Ra. I think any distance that Laarus falls short of the ideal is only a matter of his still growing into his role as a priest of Ra, which is perfect for a young priest. I think it is exactly as you say, a matter of confidence. Bleys does not have over-reaching confidence, I think he is just has not figured out how to fully apply his education to reality because of the gulf between theoritical knowledge of how things work and how they really work - but he is learning quickly.

As for Laarus being reminscent of Beorth: I can see it.

Gold Roger said:
-Victoria: I dunno, she's kinda funny. Maybe because she's had some pretty bad luck so far (getting that big hit from the yellow musk creeper) or because she always is a little awkward. She's also quite different from the clichee of the warrior women I kinda expected. She's actually quite close in character to some of the female soldier I've met/seen so far in the airforce, which makes her a fair bit more believable than the old clichee.
Don't really have much to say on this one. Not sure what you mean by "the character of female soldiers" - and I am curious what you feel the cliche of the female warrior is.

Gold Roger said:
-Markos: A complete neurotic wrack of a jerk by the looks of it. He actually seems quite simmilar to Kazrack, as both where the biggest initiators for intra party conflict so far. But while Kazrack always annoyed me a little with his stubborn way, Markos quite simply cracks me up. I mean, that guy has some serious issues and he just keeps exploding over insignificant conflicts. Kazrack was defiant because of principles, Markos is defiant out of principle.
Ah, the most problematic of the PCs because of his argumentativeness and adolescent immaturity - but at the same time the conflict with noble identity is something I find very interesting and that can lead the campaign to some interesting directions.

As for the comparison to Kazrack: Yep, I think that is fairly obvious. I guess no matter how different our characters are, some aspect of our actual personality always comes through in time. I took you statement: "Kazrack was defiant because of principles, Markos is defiant out of principle" to mean that Kazrack argued as a result of his dwarven/priestly principles, but Markos is that way because arguing/dissenting is in itself one of his principles. Is that what you meant?

Anyway, glad you are following along. . . More to come at some point later this week.

Gold Roger

First Post
el-remmen said:
I think he is the potential battle leader, but he definitely is not there yet - both in terms of the story hour and how far we have gotten in the campaign ahead of that has been posted. But I do agree that he is most likely to get along with everyone equally well.

Yeah, should have added potential. I pretty much meant that his personality type is that of a battle leader. Obviously, the group hasn't exactly found itself into a stable structure yet.

el-remmen said:
As a DM this is my favorite kind of character just because of what you describe. Of course, if everyone tried to play a similar character I would hate it - but it is nice to have some to feed adveristy and plot-hooks to who will eat it up eagerly. :)

My favorite player in my old group was this kind of player, he'd always at least try to push the buttons. So it was easy to recognise that Telie fit the deal as well.

el-remmen said:
I can see what you are getting at here, but I think it might be a little over-stated. I don't think Laarus quite is what Bleys wants to be, but he represents the potential for those leadership skills that Bleys is capable of and that should be expected from a priest of Ra. I think any distance that Laarus falls short of the ideal is only a matter of his still growing into his role as a priest of Ra, which is perfect for a young priest. I think it is exactly as you say, a matter of confidence. Bleys does not have over-reaching confidence, I think he is just has not figured out how to fully apply his education to reality because of the gulf between theoritical knowledge of how things work and how they really work - but he is learning quickly.

As for Laarus being reminscent of Beorth: I can see it.

Well, this may be arguable, but I think the two definitely contrast/complement each other in a neat way

el-remmen said:
Don't really have much to say on this one. Not sure what you mean by "the character of female soldiers" - and I am curious what you feel the cliche of the female warrior is.

Well the reason I was kinda missing for the last three month was that the german airforce drafted me and I've just finished basic training now. And I've forgotten that the german word character doesn't translate into the english word character, but instead into personality.

Anyway, what I meant by the "cliche of the female warrior" is that whole Joanna of Orleans deal. When I first read of Victoria I pretty much expected a clone of that personality.

el-remmen said:
Ah, the most problematic of the PCs because of his argumentativeness and adolescent immaturity - but at the same time the conflict with noble identity is something I find very interesting and that can lead the campaign to some interesting directions.

Like I've said. Right now, he's my favorite, even though he's a total jerk.

el-remmen said:
As for the comparison to Kazrack: Yep, I think that is fairly obvious. I guess no matter how different our characters are, some aspect of our actual personality always comes through in time. I took you statement: "Kazrack was defiant because of principles, Markos is defiant out of principle" to mean that Kazrack argued as a result of his dwarven/priestly principles, but Markos is that way because arguing/dissenting is in itself one of his principles. Is that what you meant?.



Moderator Emeritus
Session #5 – “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?” (Part 3 of 3)

Balem, the 19th of Sek – 566 H.E. (637 M.Y.)

Near midday they met with Euleria at the Sign of the Green Gem and told her their plans for travel and the hirelings. She asked that Brand, the boy hired as a porter, be kept on as her assistant, and they acquiesced. Neither Dunlevey nor Falco had any interest in going off to the Border Shires on their own, or for less pay. Telémahkos paid them out from his own pocket, and gave Euleria ten gold pieces to add to her expense fund.

She expressed her doubts about Cornwallis Lowe’s son, Tymon, whom she had met the night before while the party was at dinner, but felt that Telémahkos needed to meet him himself to be sure.

He arrived just after lunch. Tymon Lowe was a squat man in his late twenties, built like a barrel, with a receding hairline, big head and small face. He was dressed in a coffee-colored doublet and his eyes seemed to bug out a bit every few minutes. He was awkward and sweaty and stuttered and could not look Victoria in the eye, but he did appear knowledgeable on surveying and the culture of the Rubes. He also spoke the Rube language, along with that of kobolds, dwarves and gnomes, and when he spoke those other tongues his stammer disappeared. He also seemed to know numbers and figures very well. Tymon carried a longsword, but said he preferred a cudgel.

Satisfied with Tymon’s knowledge, Telémahkos had Timotheus bring the merchant’s son over to the citadel where they sparred in the courtyard cheered on by some the guards the young veteran had befriended the day before. Tymon seemed to be at least as good in a fight as Bleys in terms of the skill he displayed, but was not particularly confident, and had a tendency to drop his sword when yelled at. It would have to do.

As Markos left the inn to inquire about ferry passage to Tribunisport, he stopped and turned to Telémahkos. “Oh, I might as well tell you before you head off to walk about trying to control everything and set up your little manipulations, you might as well find out about the Brown Turban (1) in Tribunisport. It was where I was told to seek employment while I was there.”

Telémahkos’ face grew red with anger. He drew a mailed gauntlet from his belt and struck Markos across the face with it. He dropped it to the ground. “You will not mock me. There is no place for to fight here, but at first opportunity do not think you will get away.” He turned suddenly and stormed out of the inn.

Markos let out a laugh; ignorant of what he had just said that had offended Telémahkos.

As he left, Telémahkos ran into Euleria again and he asked if she would send a message that they would not be going to Tribuisport.

“Already taken care of, sir,” she replied. “Laarus talked to me about it this morning, and I took the liberty to send word that you would be heading out to the Disputed Territories right away. Master Laarus did not tell me to do that, but I got the impression that that was what he wanted but did not want to ask me to lie.”

“As usual you have gone above and beyond, and for that I thank you,” Telémahkos gave little bow of his head, and went off to meet Ida Lowe for tea.

Teflem, the 20th of Sek – 566 H.E. (637 M.Y.)

The quickly fading gloom of the approaching dawn greeted their arrival at Tribunisport. A sloop christened The Sea Flower brought them across the Drie-Hoek South Narrows to the southernmost tip of Black Thread Island where the small fortified town was located.

The ferry had set out nearly a full hour after dusk the day before, and had been delayed by a long stillness in the dead of night, where no wind could be found to tack against.

The signers of the Charter of Schiereiland could tell immediately that while it was about a third the size of New Harbinger, its port was bigger and more active, and they spotted several warships docked at the northern part of the harbor. It was here that the House Wetherwax citadel stood, nearly the size of the rest of the town itself. Tribunisport’s walls were made of a motley gluing together of stone, that looked fused in places, as if by great heat, but more likely by magic. The walls stretched out on onto the water on atolls, capped by tall square towers and closed off by a great gate that was opening to allow the sloop into the inner harbor. A third wall separated the port from the town itself.

Unlike the sweet smells of New Harbinger’s spice trade, Tribunisport was soaking in the smell of fish and morning fires being lit in the many little clustered homes.

The young nobles stood huddled together looking around at the building activity of the port. Some townguards walked past and looked at them, but said nothing. They decided to take assumed names while here. Victoria would be called “Olivia Greenfield”, and wrapped her cloak tightly around her body and kept her helmet on, despite the oppressive heat that foretold the coming of summer. Laarus asked to be called “V”; a term of endearment granted him by Markos’ mother, which made the sailor-mage scowl. The priest of Ra did not want to lie about his name, but using a name he was sometimes called seemed an adequate way around that. Markos took on the name “Albert”, while Telémahkos would be “Johan”. Timotheus would be ‘Argus’.

“I’ll be Torsten the Fist!” Bleys said with a rare smile. But, despite that, his voice was still nearly monotone. “Though I would have to buy a big axe to truly play the part.”

“I’m nobody important,” Tymon stuttered, his lips constant moving even in the spaces between words and phrases when no sound was issuing from his mouth; Sometimes he would nervously purse his lips over and over touching his top lip to his nose several times before even moving on the next syllable. “I don’t need another name…” His gaze caught Victoria’s and he turned his head away with slow fear, but his eyes trailed to stay on her on the last moment before his head was turned.

A local pointed them towards the Battened Hatch, a small inn that usually rented double rooms for the night. The place only had four rooms, but they were all unoccupied, as their inhabitants had set sail at dawn. Bleys and Victoria took a room together, while Timotheus and Laarus took another. Telémahkos and Markos walked into another room, but as Tymon made to follow his master stopped him.

Telie looked to Markos, who was dropping his pack on a bed. Markos looked up at him and said, “We might as well take care of our business now as any results of it will only help us blend in more among those we plan to infiltrate…”

“Go help the others settle in,” Telémahkos said to Tymon, taking the man’s bag and pulling it into the room, before closing the door. Telémahkos spun around quickly to see Markos had his hands up in fists already.

Telémahkos grimaced and raised his own and then charged at the young man who was even smaller than he was. Markos’ fist swing out and caught Telie on the chin. The young aristocrat stumbled back and Markos laid another punch in towards the gut, but heard the crunch of metal links as he felt Telie’s chain shirt underneath his toga.

“You son of a bitch!” Markos cursed. Telémahkos smiled and took a few shots himself, but Markos avoided the blows, ducking into ball to absorb what he could not dodge. They locked up punching at each other as they stumbled about the room, slamming into the night table by the bed, and then into the wall.

In the room next door, Timotheus looked at Laarus when he heard the commotion and just shook his head. “I’m going to go get laid,” he told the priest. “It’s been over a week…” And he headed out of the inn with some coin lent to him by his cousin the day before to do just that.

Deciding he wanted to get a sense of this town on his own, Laarus headed back out to the port to see what info he could gather, but he moved his holy symbol from around his neck to his belt.

Meanwhile, in the room next door, the two combatants broke apart.

“What is it with the f*cking chainmail?” Markos swore. “I knew you were a pussy, but gods!” He rushed at Telie, but the young Briareus spun around and punched down, clipping Markos’ ear. “I was wearing the chain shirt when you challenged me to the fight, you lackwit!”

Telémahkos slammed his fist into the side of Markos’ head and then struck him again as he scurried out of the way to get clear to turn around and take another swing. Telie locked the mage’s arms in his own for a moment and then pushed him off, trying for a forearm to the face as he did so. Markos ducked again and then came up suddenly, charging. Telie stepped out of the way and Markos’ fist punched right into the plaster wall, making a small hole. He pulled his hand free and blood flicked across the room from his knuckles. (2)

“I’ve had about as much choice about the life I was born into as you have,” Telémahkos said, as Markos raised his fists again.

“I guess that is why they wanted to room together,” Victoria commented to Bleys when they heard the slams across the hall in their room. The watch-mage shrugged and headed out to visit the local watch-mage, but he did not wear his cloak in the watch-mage style, turning it inside out and folding it over his arm, instead.

“You didn't choose how you were born, but you choose how you act now,” Markos replied, coming back in to continue the melee.

“Oh, you mean with politeness…” Telémahkos laid a punch into Markos’ skinny side. “And generosity?” He tried to punctuate his question with a right-cross, but Markos bobbed back and Telie was over-extended. He had to grab on to Markos to keep from falling, and they locked again, stumbling against the door to the room. Markos let loose a barrage of blows that made Telie let go, even if they did him no actual harm.

Markos moved in again, but was met with a resounding blow that dropped him to the floor. The young mage’s head lolled in and out of consciousness. Telémahkos opened the door and called for Tymon, and with his servant’s help, put Markos in one of the beds.

A little more than an hour later, Markos stirred and sat up to see Telémahkos in new darker clothes; a brown doublet similar to those they had seen merchants wearing in New Harbinger, but a bit shabbier, and a dark-colored cloak of light wool.

“You ready?” Telémahkos asked.

“You only won because of your chain shirt,” Markos muttered as he got up.

The two young nobles, left the Battened Hatched, accompanied by Tymon, and made their way to the Brown Turban. It was off the market, near the center of town, with its roof painted red, and a hanging wooden sign that displayed a bald head with tiny black flies circling it. The inn was actually a nicer place than the Batten Hatch, with cushioned benches and an ornate wine rack on one wall in the common room.

The proprietor was Aramis the Kind, a dark-skinned, bald man with a smile as wide as his mid-section. He wore light cotton clothes of white that were marked with streaks of sweat, and musky perfume wafted off of him. He welcomed them with the precise diction of someone who hard learned the common tongue in adulthood. He laughed often and was quick to make the two of them comfortable. As it was the middle of the morning, there were no other customers around to distract him from giving them his full attention.

“So, I don’t have to worry about anyone trying to give me a brown turban, right?” Telémahkos with a sneer, as the proprietor brought them over two mugs of beer, and a shot of dwarf spirits.

Aramis burst out laughing. “Not for you!” He laughed again. “But only for those foul dervishes who make men slaves with religion! We spit on them! Ptoof! We sh*t on them!” He laughed again.

Telémahkos asked after Boris Crumb.

A tall hunched man in his late forties, in drab blue-green robes, and a frizzy crown of long hair around his misshapen bald head, walked into the common room. Aramis the Kind called him over, and as he approached they could see the man had a silver eye with an ankh in the center of it about his turkey-neck. He was introduced as Deetius of Ptah, Crumb’s aide.

Inquiring as to jobs, the Wayfarer of Ptah questioned them as to their experience.

“I served ten years on the Lady’s Lament,” Markos said.

Deetius droopy eyes opened a bit wider and he murmured something between incredulity and appreciation of what that meant. The wandering priest explained they were hiring crew for a variety of ships working in the Wizard’s Sea, (3) and that the specific details of pay had to be worked out with specific captains, but he and Crumb were acting as middle-men to recruit these crews for commission.

“We can bring you to a place where a few captains might compete for someone of your experience,” he said to Markos. However, they would not be able to speak Crumb directly until that afternoon, as he was still sleeping off the night’s revels.

Telie, Markos and Tymon returned to the Battened Hatch to share what little news they had and to rest and eat some lunch before going back to the Brown Turban. Bleys the Aubergine had had no luck with finding Cwell the Hawk at his humble hut on the beach, and they found him discussing how payment in service worked for graduates of the Academy of Wizardry. Neither Laarus nor Timotheus were back yet, when Telie and Markos went back to talk to Crumb.

In his mid-forties, Boris E. Crumb III was a portly man, barely five feet five inches in height. He had brown curly locks, and a brush-like mustache that obscured his top lip. His bright blue eyes, wide smile, and rosy chubby cheeks gave him an amiable look that belied his business.

He squeezed into a booth opposite them, shaking their hands as he introduced himself effusively. He seemed to like the sound of his own name. “So ya interested in getting a job on a ship, huh?”

“Actually, I was sent to you by a mutual acquaintance in authority over at New Harbinger,” Telémahkos explained.

Crumb’s smile turned into a smirk and he nodded and leaned forward. “Ah, I know who ya mean… Okay, I was expecting someone soon, just wasn’t sure who it would be…”

“We need you to get us and our friends to Kraken’s Cove…” Telémahkos let the words hang there for a moment. “However, we don’t want to end up pressed into serving on a pirate ship…” Telémahkos eyes narrowed.

“Let’s be careful with what we’re saying,” Crumb said, and he gestured for Telie and Markos to come with him to a table near the back, away from the lunchtime crowd. “Now, in terms of getting in there, I can get you in there… There are two ways… Three ways… and one I get the feeling from what you said you don’t want to try. The other would require getting you in as merchants looking to buy or establish an agreement for trade…”

“That is way that appeals to us most,” Telémahkos replied. “There are certain moral elements in our group that might chafe at the first… But what is the third?”

“Well… There is a way to get here by land… a secret way…”

“We were told there was no way to approach it by land…” Markos said.

“That is why it’s a secret!” Crumb said with a laugh. “But it really isn’t even really a secret, it is just hardly ever used, and no one would expect anyone to enter from that way… But depending on what you want to do there… and I don’t tell me what you plan to do there, because it is better for both of us if I do not know… well, Kraken’s Cove is not so big a place that you can spend much time there undetected, and if you are not where you are supposed to be as outsiders, well… let’s just say all the fast-talking in the world probably won’t be much help.”

“I think the merchant plan might be best then,” Telémahkos said.

“But that will take time to set up,” Crumb said. “Business takes time to set up. New recruits is easy…”

“How much time?” Markos asked.

“Well, I am making a trip out there tomorrow…” Crumb looked up as if doing figures in his head. “And I would need to be able to present legitimate credentials that cannot be traced back to me… I would rather not use this method. Time and money are required for it…”

“So you say this place is small? Are there taverns there? I mean, is it sort of village?” Telémahkos asked.

“Oh, no, no, no, no, no…” Crumb said. “It is a set of caves where goods are stored and traded out. Wares can be sampled and ordered; arrangements can be made… That kind of thing…”

“If we knew someone there, would we be able to make contact with them before being challenged?”

“You know someone there?” Crumb asked, suddenly sitting up straight and running a finger through his brush of a mustache.

If we did…” Telémahkos replied.

“Tell me who it is and I’ll contact them when I go tomorrow,” Crumb said.

“I do not know who it is,” Telémahkos said. “It is someone that the person who sent me told me about…”

“Well, that I don’t know about,” Crumb said. “But the place is not as big as its reputation would make it seem… Any subterfuge will eventually be discovered if you do not arrive there by ship…”

“And how long did you say it would take to arrange for us to adopt the guise of merchants?” Telémahkos asked.

“At least a week, maybe nine days… And I’d need forty or fifty silvers, at least…”

“And do you know anything about the possible actions out of the Cove…” Telémahkos paused. “The thing people have been chattering about here and there?”

Crumb’s bushy eyebrows rose.

“Wetherwax… An attack against their fleet?”

Crumb looked back down and shook his head. “I don’t know anything about it. But doesn’t seem likely, since Wetherwax knows of the cove’s existence and allows it to continue to exist… Wouldn’t be in their interest to raise the ire of the navy…”

“So you don’t know anything about an attack or raid or invasion?” Telémahkos asked, more flagrantly.

Crumb looked at the young man and frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“What are they recruiting for?” Markos asked.

“For work, on ships… I told you… There is a high turn-over of local Thricians and I helped draw a bunch of Herman-landers seeking to avoid conscription to come sign on and get paid and are guaranteed to be around and need work while the war is going on. It’s a win-win.” He winked.

Realizing that this new turn of events would have to be discussed with the others, they arranged to return for dinner to inform him then what they planned to do, as Boris E. Crumb III would be leaving for Kraken’s Cove before first light the next day.

“Oh! One last thing,” Telémahkos asked Crumb as he was shaking their hands to say good-bye. “You have not by chance met a young man named Vanthus Vanderboren while you were here, did you?”

“That kid? Yeah…” Crumb’s face wore a look of amusement. “Pretending to be a big time merchant… His documentation looked real enough and he had money… I took him over there two days ago to arrange to buy some stuff… Open up some route… Normally I would not have trusted him, but Brissa vouched for him… Though he’s probably her pigeon…”

“Who is she?”

“She’s local, here and New Harbinger, sometimes Weirspierogen,” Crumb said. “Deals in information and in separating young men of means from their family’s silver… the usual…” He described her as pretty with brown hair. “No knock-out, but that kind of wild look nobles like when they’re slumming it.”


“No, good build on her. She can scrap. You don’t hang around the barrel-makers if you don’t know what you’re doing… Ya end up pickled!” Crumb let out a snorting laugh


Back at the Battened Hatch, Telémahkos told the others what he had learned, and once again was met with skepticism from some of his companions.

“Why would this Crumb just tell you this information?” Bleys asked.

“I assume he either owes a favor, or wants to be owed a favor to the person in authority who contacted me in New Harbinger in regards to going over there,” Telémahkos replied.

“It makes no sense that an attack would come from those that House Wetherwax supports,” Victoria said. “If that is even true…”

“It could be that the original information I got became confused and the attack is to happen on House Swann,” Telémahkos speculated. “I may have misspoken.”

“Misspoken? Every time?” Victoria raised an eyebrow.

“I just mean, I could have been repeating bad information every time,” Telémahkos replied.

Timotheus brought up the fact that they were still not sure what they were supposed to do once they were there. “If we have to sneak around and gather info, then why are we all going? And if we are going there to kick some righteous ass, why did we dismiss the hirelings?” The big man’s shoulders sagged a bit, and his normal demeanor melted into a frown of frustration.

The signers of the Charter of Schiereiland discussed the options and decided that as long as Crumb would be able to tell them the exact location of land route in and out, they could go posing as prospective sailors the very next day. In that way, if things turned bad they would not be dependent on a ship to escape.

Telémahkos and Markos would return to Crumb at dinner to ask him about this and report the decision.

End of Session #5


(1) A Brown Turban is the term for a disgusting act performed by Thrician partisans during the Red-Pepper War on the corpses of slain Rube officers and dervish leaders, wherein the red turbans worn by such were torn off and replaced with a steaming pile of excrement. The corpses were then left out for other Rubes to find. Even though Telémahkos had heard the name before, he decided that Markos was attempting to make a fool of him by having him ask around town regarding a “brown turban”.

(2) Markos fumbled suffering the effect: ‘Hit Self, Half-Damage’ – I re-interpreted this as his slamming his fist into the wall.

(3) You can see a map of the Wizard’s Sea, here: http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Map+-+The+Wizard's+Sea
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InterSession #5.1: “An Argument at Market”

The late afternoon found Markos and Laarus in the market, seeking out appropriate clothing for the party to blend in as sailors for their trip to Kraken’s Cove. After looking around for a time, Laarus stood slightly back from his cousin, noting what items of clothing Markos was collecting for the rest of the party, as he haggled with the merchant. Satisfied that he had a grasp of the type of clothing that was needed, Laarus walked over to another nearby stall selling finer attire and began to look at similar items, but of more durable and comfortable quality.

“You know, finer clothing may not fit into the image the group as a whole will be trying to convey,” Markos said, walking over with his unpaid for bundle of clothing under one arm.

"Do none who sail the sea wear such?" Laarus of Ra queried, holding up his selection. "I'll not wear such poorly-crafted clothes as you have chosen. I doubt our plans will be hindered by not doing so. And to bring up a matter we discussed earlier, neither should lying be a must. You wish me to break the vows and tenants of my faith. You think that's the only way to succeed."

Markos was taken aback by his cousin’s sudden accusations. "I feel you are mistaken," He said with anger growing in what had been a resigned tone. He held up the bundle of burlap and sailcloth clothing, "So sorry to upset your noble sensibilities, cousin. And while there are some who wear finer fare on the high seas they generally aren't the ones looking to be hired on as part of a general call for employment. If we were passing ourselves off as some group above the typical riff-raff then finer clothing would make sense. We are not. Instead, we are acting as those answering a rumor of employment. As for fibbing, if I said that lying is a must then I overstated my point. Lying is something that may be needed if we are to avoid discovery. If the need is not there from the beginning, then it may not happen at all. However, if your faith does not leave you room to be flexible you should have been more emphatic earlier on this matter, before we all agreed to this course of action.” Markos stood there fuming for a moment, looking up at his cousin, who was barely taller than he was. “Excuse me - I will pay for these clothes, you buy whatever you like." He walked back to the original stall, making sure to pick out an extra suit of clothes for Laarus as well.

The priest of Ra was waiting patiently to reply when Markos turned from completing his purchase. "I do not disagree with the route we've chosen, cousin. It may be the only way to get there in time, and that is more important," he said in a hushed tone. "But that doesn't mean I am willing to stain my honor." Laarus brushed by his cousin, making his way back towards another stall

"I'm glad you don't now disagree with what we all agreed to prior,” Markos said, following closely behind his cousin, and talking in a harsh whisper. “As for your staining your honor, what effect would getting all of us killed because you couldn't figure out a way to have your faith jibe with telling a minor embellishment have? Would you ever consider disguising the intent of your forces in a battle to encourage the enemy to make a mistake? Actually, don't answer… Bring it up to the rest of the group as I don't have the patience to deal with this and I suspect I will somehow insult you. Good day." He began to walk off and then turned to add, "Cousin."

Knowing Timotheus was somewhere in the market as well, Markos wandered about until he found the tall Schiereilander chatting about current events with a knife-seller whose stock he was examining.

"Go talk about honor and fibbing to my knucklehead cousin,” Markos said to Tim. “If he is put in the wrong situation as things stand now, he is going to get us all killed."

"Well, hello to you too, Markos,” Timotheus said, making a dismissing, but apologetic gesture to the peddler. “What's he up to now? Taking lessons from Little Miss Death-Before-Dishonor?"

"Oh.. uh.. Hello… Yes,” Markos was taken aback by having his rudeness pointed out so casually. “Yes, I think it can be summed up that way. Right now he is picking out clothes suitable to his stature. To be fair, he may simply be looking for clothing good enough to endure wear and tear; we are, after all, going to wearing these a lot." Markos hefted his bundle to show it to Tim. He had a strangely hopeful look on his face.

"Suitable to his stature? But he's very – Oh! You mean social stature. What, is he buying cloth of gold? A bandanna with the holy symbol of Ra on it? It better not be cloth of gold, I doubt we can afford cloth of copper on our budget."

Markos smiled. "He is paying for what he plans to wear out of his own pocket. Just go talk to him, please. I'm afraid he is going to be asked a direct question by someone at Kraken's Cove and end up getting us killed by answering honorably. I just don't have the patience to meander through the tortured logic of the faithful."

"Sure, might as well." Timotheus Smith gave the knife-seller a couple of silvers and a smile in exchange for a shiny new dagger, and then he turned back to Markos. "Not that it'll make much difference; you know we're gonna end up in a scrum at some point, no matter how hard you and T.K. try not to. Anyway, where is Laarus? Let's get this over with."

Markos simply pointed toward Laarus’ direction. "Please forgive if I avoid this conversation...."

Tim went over to the clothing stall where Laarus was picking through clothes. "Hey there, distant cousin. Do you got a moment to talk?"

As he handed his money to the merchant, Laarus nodded to Timotheus. "I'm finished here. Can we talk as we walk to the inn?"

"Sure thing." Timotheus fell in alongside Laarus as the two made their way out of the marketplace. "So anyway, I was talking to Markos just now, and he seems to think you're going to go blab to the pirates about who we are and maybe get us all killed. And he asked me to come talk to you about it, so here I am."

"He thinks I should forgo my vows and the mandates of Ra. Otherwise we'll fail or die. I disagree,” Laarus replied. "I have no intention of announcing our presence to those we are after."

Timotheus took a moment to digest what he'd heard, then replied, "If you're not going to announce who we are, then what vows was he asking you to, uh, forgo?"

"He expects me to wear items cheaply crafted. One of my station is required to dress with more decency. And he's concerned that I be able to lie. Truth's a virtue highly valued by Ra. I do not desire to soil myself in His eyes."

"I don't see what the problem is with buying some nice clothes. But as for the lying thing, no one's expecting you to do the talking for us, right? So it's okay... I mean, it's okay if the rest of us lie, right? And you can just not answer things that'll get us in trouble, right? Or is that lying too?"

"The rest of you may do as you wish. I doubt we'll be in a position where you will be speaking under oath," Laarus turned his head to meet the soldier's gaze. "Though, it'll speak much of your character." He turned his eyes back ahead of him as he continued, "What answers I give will be done so with discretion. I've no problem with that. It is the better part of valor, another of Ra's virtues."

Timotheus’ face flushed slightly. "Well, I'm glad you'll let us lie for you. I'm sorry you feel it says bad things about my character. But you know, I didn't want to be doing this. I'm not the one who voted for pretending to be pirates. I wanted clean fights, not skulking around and playing spy. But now that we're here, if it's a choice between lying and letting people get hurt or killed, you're damn right I'll lie about it, and I won't feel a damn bit guilty about it either."

"It appears you and my cousin are of like mind," Laarus stated very matter-of-factly. "You both think lying will be a necessity to prevent death and keep up the pretense…” The priest opened his mouth as if to continue his thoughts, but instead just closed it and shook his head.

"I'm not going to be pretending to be anything,” He finally continued. “We're being brought to our destination only because we're saying we're looking for work. I intend to do just that. Working alongside others there may be helpful in finding information we need." Laarus turned his eyes once again to meet those of his companion, "If you don't want to pretend to be something you're not, don't. Honor the agreement you're making for our travel. But if you'd rather play pirate, I hope you don't stray far from the lit path.”

"By the gods! You are a hypocrite and an assh*le. I don't want to play pirate, so don't go putting words in my mouth! And by your saying you're not going to pretend to be anything, you're not fooling anyone but yourself. And you know what? I'm not gonna lie for you, and neither is anyone else. And you can find out for yourself whether it's gonna 'prevent dying' or not." Tim spat on the ground. "Your vote got us into this. Now you can choke on it." He turned and stomped off, muttering to himself, "No wonder nobody likes any of the gods-damned priests of Ra…"

A satisfactory smile graced the priest's face as the bastard son of Briareus finished his tantrum, happy that he had gotten Timotheus to announce that nor he or anyone else would life for him. Laarus of Ra stopped in his tracks to allow Tim to continue the remainder of the walk alone.

And Timotheus did not look back.

End of InterSession #5.1
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Just a note that I changed some of the attributions and added a line of dialog near the beginning to clear something up, even though it was not in the original emails.


Moderator Emeritus

Just a warning to all you readers, that starting with the next installment there is the possibility of spoilers for Dungeon's Savage Tide Adventure Path (starting with Bullywug's Gambit from issue #140), and while the implementation and outcome (and even who is behind it and what the term "savage tide" even means) will be VERY different and I will not be running all the adventures in the path, NPCs names and specific scenes may still be the same.

The Savage Tide aspects will be included intermittently, so it is not as if reading regularly will give you regular opportunities to be spoiled, and I will post warning when one of the adventures (however highly adapted) from the A.P. is coming up.
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The Savage Tide Begins. . .

Session #6 – “Smuggler’s Gambit” (part 1 of 3)

Anulem, the 21st of Sek – 566 H.E. (637 M.Y.)

The signers of the Charter of Schiereiland made their way to the harbor in the dark hours before dawn. Among them they carried a large wooden crate with their spare gear and weapons crammed inside, hoping to get it on the beach where they could access it later. Timotheus Smith of House Briareus wore a suit of studded leather he had purchased late the day before when it was decided that a breastplate might look out of place for a sailor or marine, Victoria wore the same.

The gates through the outer wall that led to the enclosed port were just opening as they arrived, and they were relieved they would not have to explain themselves to any townguards. Soon, they found the sloop called Desiree, and saw Crumb giving orders as three sailors prepared the ship, as a half-dozen young men wrapped in woolen cloaks against the morning cold went down into the hold. Some other workers were carrying in what appeared to be casks of spirits.

Boris E. Crumb III walked over to greet them, introducing himself happily. He asked each of them their names.

“Albert,” said Markos.

“Argus,” said Timotheus.

“Olivia,” said Victoria.

“Torsten,” said Bleys.

“Call me ‘V’,” said Laarus.

Crumb turned to the ship and called, “Cokie! Coh-Kee! Come over here! The passengers have arrived.”

One the sailors came over and the young nobles were surprised to see the small figure was a human girl of about 12 summers. Her straw-like brown hair was tied behind her head with brown yarn, and freckles marked her jaundiced skin.

“Cokie, go inspect the crate and make sure it is okay to be stored,” Crumb told the girl. He turned to Telie. “Johann, go help her…”

“Huh?” Telémahkos hesitated.

“Just go,” said Crumb shoving him gently. “I want to check over your companion’s gear and dress and makes sure it hits the mark.” He gave the young Briareus a wink.

The girl looked up at Telie and smiled and he winced when he saw her rotting teeth and gums all along the right side of her mouth. She led him over to where the crate had been placed.

As Telie and Cokie looked over the crate, she turned to him and said, “I am to give you this from our mutual acquaintance…” She handed him folded piece of parchment. “This is your target.”

Telémahkos looked at the paper and saw the name ‘Harliss Javell’ written in an elegant hand.

“So this is the person I am supposed to contact in there?” he asked.

“I don’t know about that…” Cokie said. “This is just you know… When our mutual acquaintance asked that you go to the Cove and do something… She is what you are supposed to do.” The girl began to walk away.

“Wait, what do you mean?” Telémahkos’ voice betrayed the growing anxiety of his realization. “You make it sound like I am supposed to…”

“Look,” Cokie turned around, her demeanor nothing like any twelve-year old girl Telie had ever met before. “I don’t want to have to tell you your business, but you know… You are supposed to help, and make sure she never leaves Kraken’s Cove again…”

“Wait! Why? I never agreed to be an assassin!” Telémahkos hissed.

Cokie rolled her eyes. “Well, you are going to be expected to do whatever it is you are expected to do, and you aren’t going to like the consequences if you don’t… But anyway, you are supposed to be helping the trumpet-bearers, and she’s a Red Lantern… (1) Her influence needs to be gotten rid of, and everyone knows it…”

“The Red Lanterns! Ugh!” Telémahkos buried his face in his hands. He looked back up. “But won’t that help the Barrel-makers? That doesn’t make sense.”

“Ours is not to ask why,” Cokie said, turning and walking back towards the sloop. “Now stop your crying and come on, Crumb’s gonna wanna be shoving off…”

Unlike the other cargo, the party’s crate was strapped down to the deck near the prow, while they joined the others down in the cramped hold. Soon the Desiree was heading southwest, fleeing the growing glow of Ra’s Glory in the east.

Timotheus and Markos started up a game of cards down in the hold, and invited Victoria to play, while Laarus kneeled facing east and praying to Ra to replenish his spells. Bleys the Aubergine looked over his spellbook in his own corner of the hold, while not far away Tymon checked and re-checked his bag nervously. Telémahkos was up on deck, remaining out of the way of the crew, breathing in the salt air. The sea was rough and the sky was a roiling steel gray down to the horizon. Every now and then it would spit a hard cold rain that would stop as suddenly as it had started.

As the card game continued, Timotheus and Markos started up on complaining about Laarus of Ra. Tim retold his interaction with the priest of Ra in the market, and his tone of voice made it clear he was still offended by what he considered the impugning of his character.

Markos laughed. “He sees things as black and white, and yet is still willing to go along with the ruse.”

“I do not see why you’d criticize Brother Laarus for being concerned about the moral implication of our actions and our adopted roles,” Victoria said, her voice growing angry.

“Because he’s a f*cking hypocrite!” Timotheus said a little too loudly. “That’s why!”

“No, I’m criticizing him because he’s f*cking stupid,” Markos corrected Tim, laughter in his voice.

“I think you should show some respect for the priest of Ra,” Victoria said, sternly.

“I respect his faith, but his unyielding nature? That’s just stupid,” Markos replied.
“Excuse me!” Victoria left the card game.

[sblock]All was black for Laarus as he felt the sickening sway of the ship beneath him, jerk more roughly than it should have given the current state of the sea. He looked up and saw himself on the deck of a ship once again, and there was a cask of something bouncing across the deck towards the liferail. He could see the ‘Q’ branded on the side. As the cask smashed against the gunwale, it exploded, enveloping the front of the ship in a veil of sticky fire. Suddenly, a burning figure in a toga stumbled out of the flames. The figure gave Laarus the impression it was Telémahkos, but the toga and skin was peeling off in the flames wreathing his soon to be corpse. There was another explosion and suddenly Laarus found himself on the deck of sloop that had pulled along side a cliff face that led right down into the sea. . .and then all was white…[/sblock]
Victoria was moving to get up to the deck and get some air, when Laarus suddenly stood from his kneeling position where he had been praying an hour and ran up on to the deck. He threw himself down at the edge and vomited up a stream of clear bile.

“That’s really getting tiresome,” Telémahkos said when he saw the priest lying there panting for a moment. He went back below deck to avoid the sick priest, but as soon as Laarus was back on his feet and had wiped his mouth clean, he called down.

“Telémahkos? Telémahkos, I want to talk to you…” Laarus croaked, looking as paler than usual, as he always did after these episodes.

“Anybody named Telémahkos down here?” Telie asked aloud, looking to his companions and the other young would-be sailors.

“No!” Timotheus said, smiling.

“Never heard of him,” Markos added with exaggerated seriousness.

“Sorry! Nobody down here named that, V!” he called back up to the priest. He sneered as Laarus came down and made his way past the cramped occupants towards the rear of the hold where a net held down a pile of casks and crates. Telémahkos frowned and went over, when he noticed the priest’s eager searching.

“What are you doing? What are you looking for?”

“Tell me, are you familiar with why a letter might be branded into the side of a cask? Does it identify the owner? The destination? The source?” Laarus asked.

“It could be any of those things,” Telémahkos replied. “It could be what’s in it, too… Though usually my guess would be place of origin… Why?”

“I was looking for the letter ‘Q’,” Laarus replied. “I thought there might be casks here marked as such…”

“Q? That’s Quillton, I’d bet,” Telémahkos guessed. “But again, why?”

“I think such casks are being shipped and have something in them that might explode,” Laarus explained.

“That sounds like Red God Fire,” Telie’s eyes widened. He went over to the cargo and began to search it carefully, shoving his hands deep into nooks to see if he could feel the brand on the hidden sides of casks, but found no such thing.

“What makes you think that such a thing would be here?” Telémahkos asked, when he went back over to Laarus.

“I just have a feeling,” the priest replied.

“You know, Laarus… It is not encouraging me to be open and honest with you when you are obviously hiding things from me,” Telémahkos said, and he went back up on deck.

Meanwhile, Markos and Timotheus had drawn Tymon and Bleys into their card game, and they told the watch-mage to be ready to interrupt Laarus if it sounded like he might give up their cover.

“My knucklehead cousin can’t be trusted to lie,” Markos said.

“Your lack of respect does you no credit,” replied Bleys. “I shall endeavor to makes sure cool heads prevail, but it would not be my place to interrupt a priest of Ra so rudely.”

“All I am saying is to keep you sword loose and ready, because it is only a matter of time before Laarus blows the whole thing and we’re going be neck deep in pirates,” Timotheus said, his voice thick with disdain.

They changed the subject, and soon the topic was the destructive capacity of Bleys’ magics. “I am a diviner,” he said, to explain his lack of substantial evocation.

Three hours later, The Desiree was making its way southward as the hilly coast of the Island of the Six Kingdoms rose out of the mist off the starboard side. Soon they were within sight of bright green bluffs sparkling in the clearing dawn as they plummeted right down to the water. The sloop was making good time, as the wind was strong and favorable, and Bleys, Laarus and Telie made their way on the narrow deck to feel the warmth on their face and a bit of fresh air.

In the distance, boom…

Only a few onboard heard the distant echo, among them Bleys and Laarus, and they looked to where the sound came from. Ahead and to the right the bluff swelled out into the sea like a fist rising out the water, and they could see a plume of black smoke rising from behind it. The commotion aboard the sloop increased as more and more people noticed plume as it grew blacker and thicker, swirling and fanning out to darken the clearing sky.

Victoria, Markos and Timotheus came up top to see what was going on, and soon the plume of smoke was pointed out to them. Telie, having already seen it, approached Crumb to ask his opinion on it, but the fat man was too busy giving orders to the crew. Without losing speed the sloop began to cut to port to bend wide around the rock protrusion and get a look at what was causing not only the smoke, but not the occasional blast of fire evaporating into the clouds.

“If we are attacked, should we be below deck or above?” Victoria asked Markos. “I am unused to battle at sea…”

“You do whatever the captain tells you to do,” Markos replied.

As the The Desiree came around the outcropping they could see that just past it the bluff receded to create a sheltered cove, not more than ninety or one hundred feet across. Two ships were tangled together as fire leapt freely back and forth from their immolated masts and sides. They were floating together listlessly towards a third smaller ship, a cog, and bits of fire had already begun leaping onto it. There were also large burning slicks of a black viscous substance on the surface of the water, blocking any entrance or exit. A fourth much smaller ship, a sloop a lot like the The Desiree was run aground, but far from the flames. On the beach they saw the tiny figures of people running back and forth. There was no hearing if they might be fighting over the roar of the flames.

It was Kraken’s Cove. And just as quickly as they had come upon this scene the sloop left it behind, as confused voices rose up from all quarters.

“I guess that cancels that trip!” Crumb swore, but Cokie hurried over to him and grabbing him by the ear, pulled him down to whisper shrilly into it. The fat recruiter’s shoulders sagged and he gave the order for less sail, slowing the ship down. The young sailor girl ran over to where Telémahkos stood at the stern of the sloop, still looking at the plume of smoke and gave him an overly familiar slap on the arm.

“Get your friends together, get that crate open and get your gear on,” she told him. “You’re going in there.”

“Huh? Whu-what?” Telémahkos looked back and forth unsure how to respond. He finally stammered, “How are we supposed to do that?”

“Don’t you worry about that part,” Cokie replied. “We’ll get you in there, just get your people ready to go. It looks like someone else might have made a move, but regardless you still have a job to do… Now, I have things I need to do to get you there…” The girl turned to go back to her duties, but Telémahkos grabbed her arm. She turned and yanked free shooting daggers at him with her eyes.

“If you actually expect to convince me to go in there we’re going to have to have a conversation,” Telie said to her angrily.

“I don’t have to convince you of anything,” She spat back. “You aren’t talking to me, you’re talkin’ to our mutual acquaintance… And you can do or not do whatever you like, but I can tell you, he’s not gonna like it.”

“Are you just gonna sail us in there?” Telémahkos asked, incredulously.

“No! It’s all on fire!” Cokie said with obvious exasperation. “We’re bringing you to a place you can get in from. Once there you can go in or not for all I care, but someone else will care, you can bet on that…”

Telie noticed Markos walking over and Timotheus, Bleys and Laarus watched him get berated by a twelve-year old girl.

“Johan, there will be a ship for us to return on, right?” Markos asked Telie, having stood nearby listening in on the conversation with Cokie.

“I don’t know…” Telémahkos replied, annoyed.

Cokie had walked away, and Markos walked after her calling, “Little girl! Little girl!”

“Albert! Keep your voice down,” Telémahkos admonished.

“I am calling after the girl, I need to raise my voice,” Markos replied. Telie walked away, making his way to the front of the sloop near the crate, but Markos followed, along with Victoria and Timotheus.

“Are we just supposed to go in there and fight and not know what it is we are supposed to be doing?” Victoria asked Telie.

“Who says we have to fight?” Telémahkos asked with mock ignorance.

“There are a couple of ships on fire, of course we’re gonna fight,” Timotheus said with an eager smile. “Someone help me with my armor…”

“What’s the problem?” Bleys asked walking over. “We go in, see what’s happening and if there’s a problem we go out the back way…”

“Exactly,” Telémahkos said, trapped between his cowardice and his unwillingness to appear wrong about following this lead. He looked right at Markos. “We don’t need to be asking about a ship…”

“Hey dickhead,” Markos spat back. “Don’t you think we’re better off knowing that a ship is coming to get us or not?”

“You just keep bashing your head against a situation you don’t like thinking your are going to get somewhere and you aren’t going to get sh*t,” Telémahkos replied, pointing into Markos’ face.

“I’m just asking a question, bloodrag,” Markos replied. “I hope you f*cking drown!”

Telémahkos slammed his fist into the side of Markos’ neck. The wizard’s knees buckled and he stumbled across the deck and turned. Boris Crumb stepped between the two young noble grabbing each by the shoulder. “If you start fighting here I will throw both overboard myself,” he growled in a voice very much unlike his usual jocularity.

The Desiree slowed way down as it approached the bluff not far beyond the entrance to the cove. Here there was a natural nook in the face and eighty feet above there was a large rock overhang that curved into the cove. The crew used poles to keep the jagged wall at bay, as Crumb pointed out a series of hand and footholds. Telémahkos squinted and looked again and then let out an ‘ah’ of realization. The niches were cleverly concealed, but Crumb had pointed out the pattern that if known by the climber made it not all that difficult. Cokie handed Telie two big coils of rope.

“What is going on here?” Victoria asked. “What are we supposed to accomplish by going in there?”

“Don’t ask questions, Telie might punch you,” Markos said sarcastically, as he helped his cousin with his scale mail.

“Let’s just get out of here,” Telémahkos said to Crumb. “Let’s sail back.”

“We are sailing back, but I thought you wanted to go in there,” Crumb replied, puzzled.

“Let’s just go in,” Timotheus said, airing his frustration.

“I agree,” Bleys said. “We are here and something is obviously happening. It behooves us to investigate.”

Laarus nodded his own agreement.

“Have you seen that climb?” Telie asked, pointing up.

“I’ll take my armor off,” Timotheus said.

“Just climb first and drop the rope, that’s what I gave it to you for,” Cokie rolled her eyes. “It is not a bad climb at all.”

Despite her protestations, Telémahkos took the time to strap on his climbing boots to really feel safe about it. He leapt deftly over to the narrow strip of rock below and taking a moment to reacquaint himself with the pattern of the handholds, he began the climb. Cokie had been right. It wasn’t so bad. In no time at all he hauled himself over a lip of rock, entering some kind of natural outlook that looked out over the water of Devil’s Grasp, and a view of the Drie-Hoek South Narrows. He noticed that a narrow wooden walkway led steeply down a tunnel that was parallel to cove’s southern wall. Sunlight was muted by puffs of smoke coming through gaps in the right side of the tunnel that were open to the burning debris-churning waters below.

Telémahkos secured the rope around the narrowest outcropping of rock he could find and dropped it down to the others. Timotheus came up next, struggling with the weight and awkwardness of his breastplate, but he made it up and readied himself to help haul up the others and their gear.

“I think I may kill Markos,” Telémahkos said to his cousin.

“Either that or get a room,” Timotheus replied, grunting as he held the rope to help Bleys make his way up.

“I’m serious,” Telie said.

“Well don’t…” Tim looked right at his cousin, his big smile melting, and then blooming again. “Because then I’d have to kill Laarus to keep him from killing you and we definitely don’t want that…”

One by one the signers of the Charter of Schiereiland made their way up, some climbed and others were pulled up, and all along, Markos complained that entering Kraken’s Cove under these conditions was a bad idea. But still, he was pulled up soon after the remaining equipment, and Tymon who called up and waved his arms, fearing he had been forgotten, was pulled up last.

From in the cove they heard the protestation of the burning collapsing husks of the ships. There were several screams of horror that echoed up to them, which ended abruptly.

. . .to be continued…

(1) The Red Lanterns are a criminal organization that have their base in Haffar’s Port, greatly feared for their cruelty, fearlessness and guile, they are always looking to expand their influence. “Trumper-bearers” is code for the Herald’s Guild of Thricia.
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Moderator Emeritus
One More Note About Spoilers. . .

I also ask that readers who comment in the thread not talk about elements of the adventure path (or individual adventure) beyond what has been posted in terms of the story as to avoid spoiling the players who are also reading this. . .



First Post
This is somewhat unrelated. I seem to remember that you based the noble families on the works of some web site with a presentation of the noble families from George RR Martins A game of thrones series.

If that is correct could you guide me to that web site?

Thx in advance


Moderator Emeritus
monboesen said:
This is somewhat unrelated. I seem to remember that you based the noble families on the works of some web site with a presentation of the noble families from George RR Martins A game of thrones series.

If that is correct could you guide me to that web site?

Thx in advance

Well, I grabbed the influence and reputation rules I am using from the AGoT d20 RPG (with some tweaks), and my version of the Aristocrat class is based on that game's noble class, among other things.

The Houses themselves are not based on G.R.R. Martin's they are probably more like the wizarding families of "old blood" in the Harry Potter books, though with Martin's dark politics in some cases.

Anyway, this site: http://www.towerofthehand.com/ has a ton of information on Song of Ice & Fire stuff and I have used it as a source when preparing actual AGoT one-shots.

Thanks for reading. :D


First Post
Well, I was able to catch up finally, and I am quite happy with where things are. Although the bickering is somewhat annoying, at least it is clever. I am pretty excited about where this is going.



Moderator Emeritus
handforged said:
Well, I was able to catch up finally, and I am quite happy with where things are.
Me too!

These were some really fun sessions (6 thru 8), and I think if any of my players ever posted here they would agree (Well, maybe not Rastfar/Bleys about #8 - but you'll see why. . .)
handforged said:
Although the bickering is somewhat annoying, at least it is clever.
Sometimes. . . ;) - Only in the truncated edited form. Being present for it is often no fun - but luckily once the action started the bickering was reduced to a more than tolerable level. I threatened to send wave after wave of ninjas after them if they kept bickering half the session. ;)
handforged said:
I am pretty excited about where this is going.

Me too! And I am not even sure where that is. . . :uhoh:


First Post
el-remmen said:
These were some really fun sessions (6 thru 8), and I think if any of my players ever posted here they would agree
If there's anything you want me to post about, just let me know! :D


Moderator Emeritus
Session #6 – “Smuggler’s Gambit” (part 2 of 3)

Timotheus led the way. The wooden walkway was a ramp in some places, and narrow uneven and steep steps in others. It appeared that the salt air devoured this wood frequently, as many of the boards seemed like they had been haphazardly changed with whatever was available. In some places the walkway was no wider than three and a half feet, but in many others it was barely two feet wide. They made their way down as quickly as they dared, using the close walls and ceiling of the stone tunnel to maintain their balance. Laarus, in his scale armor and steel shield strapped to his arm, was having a hard time of it, stopping often, and having to throw his shoulder into the bluff side a few times to keep from falling.

Markos and Telémahkos arguing over who should take up the rear delayed them for a moment.

“Will you two crate it already!” Victoria admonished them. Telie got his way, and they continued. “This is a really bad idea,” he murmured as they made their way down.

“Then let’s just turn around and go back right now,” Markos replied. “I hate to admit it, but I agree with you…”

“It’s too late,” Telie sighed. “We’re outvoted. Now that everything is f*cked up, now they all want to go in there… It makes no sense…”

Ahead they could see a gap in the tunnel on the right side, with sunlight streaming through the roiling plumes of smoke making its way in. As Timotheus approached, he could see they were close to sixty feet above the water below, the burning slicks making even the perfect dive into a deadly proposition. Passing the gap was even more difficult as the wall on the left was curved away and jagged and the walkway was narrow here. It was more difficult to support oneself.

Timotheus hurried across, hoping speed would make do where balance might fail him. Bleys deftly made it across, looking down and ahead at the walkway, not out the chaos of the cove below them to the right. Laarus of Ra, however, was not so sure of foot. He stepped carefully and then stopped as his armored form swayed back and forth. Suddenly, he threw his body to the walkway, feeling that he was about to tip over. He slid to the right, and he had to grasp on for dear life, his legs hanging over the side.

“Laarus!” Timotheus cried as the priest of Ra dangled there, desperately trying to pull himself up. He had just managed to get his legs up and was on his hands and knees and Telémahkos made his way to the front of the rear group, clutching Victoria’s long spear. Laarus tried to get back on his feet, but again he slid down. Telie leaned out and called to Tim to grab the other end of the spear, and they used it to support Laarus as he made his way safely to the other side. Using the spear, the rest of the group was able to make it across, and Telémahkos went last, having no problem keeping his balance.

About twenty feet further down as another gap on the right, though shorter, and here smoke swirled with more strength.

“Nephthys!” Timotheus cried as he crossed. A sudden breeze cleared the smoke enough for most of them to notice that the third burning ship had broken free of the other two and was floating towards the bluff wall, and thus their walkway. It seemed its burning mast had a good chance of slamming into the exposed walkway another forty feet or so down, where it hung thirty feet over the water. “We need to hurry!”

But hurrying brought its dangers as well. Laarus lost his footing again and tumbled painfully down the walkway slamming into Bleys, all bruised. The watch-mage helped his companion to his feet; glad he was not knocked down as well.

Timotheus made it across the longer gap and turned to aid Bleys as he made it across. Laarus stepped aside to let Victoria and Tymon past. The burning ship was very close now. A smoldering rope snapped causing a burning portion of sail to come floating into the gap, catching both the militant of Anhur and the hireling. They reached the relative safety of the other side, but were both singed for their trouble. They continued down at Timotheus’ direction, followed by Bleys, as when the ship slammed into the walkway, no place on it would likely be safe.

Telémahkos still had Victoria’s spear and he used it to aid Laarus once again. He turned and reached the spear out to Markos, and when the small wizard grabbed onto it, the young Briareus yanked it hard towards him. Markos stumbled, but kept his feet as there was a crunching and yawning of wood as the burning ship’s mast slammed into the walkway. The shockwave sent Markos flying onto his face, and he shrieked as he realized his backside was on fire. He leapt back to his feet and smothered his back against the wall. They all ran the best they could, as the walkway was wider down here, feeling it shake beneath their feet. A blast of smoke and debris followed them out onto the strip of beach, as they hurried down the last exposed bit of it only a few feet over the water.

The beach was a strip of black sand over eighty feet long and fifty feet deep, leading to an uneven rock wall with a cavern entrance just south of center. There was a metal rail bridge over an inlet dividing the north end of the beach from another cavern entrance. Large pieces of burning debris from the ships were washed up at the end of the beach, but there was a sloop run aground not far from where the walkway let out. It had a metal plate etched with the name ‘Sea Wyvern’. It appeared abandoned. A pile of goods was near the center of this side of the beach, mostly smashed crates and barrels. The smell of the great burning slicks filled the air, and it was clear to Markos that no escape would be possible on the sloop until those fires died down.

“Whale oil,” he said to the others.

The entire beach was littered with bones and pieces of corpses that appeared to have been ripped apart with great strength. Other pieces appeared to have been chewed. There were several spots where the sand was made into a steaming puddle of muck. One of them seemed to be some kind of dark frogman beast. Bleys approached it, kneeling to look closer at the bubbling pustules and flicking tendrils on the thing’s back. He had just noticed that it was wearing the ragged remains of what appeared to be typical sailor garb when it suddenly exploded!

Bleys grunted and fell back as he was splattered with the caustic remains of the thing, brushing at it with his hands. His crimson shirt steamed as he stood, and he winced at the pain of the burns beneath the tiny perforations in it.

“Stay away from the dead frog-things,” Bleys said. “But… It looked like… I only go to see it close for a minute, but it looked like it might have once been a man… Its frog-like foot had burst out of the leather of his boot…”

“Were-frogs?” Victoria asked.

“Whatever killed these men tore the very flesh from their bones,” Markos said. He turned to Telémahkos, who was examining a rough map of the cove Tymon had drawn based on Crumb’s description the day before.

“Where is the secret way out?”

Telie pointed to the wooden walkway they had come down. “That was it…”

“Let’s get on this sloop and see if we can get out of here…” Markos said.

“We are here, we might as well see what happened,” Tim replied.

“We can stay if you want, but I think we should get the hell out of here,” Markos reiterated.

“I agree that we should be ready to leave if we need to,” Telémahkos said. “Secure the beach while Markos and I load our extra gear and whatever we can salvage from the goods here onto the boat, and make sure it is seaworthy…”

“We may not be able to get out of the cove, but we can at least sail away from the shore and whatever did this to those men,” Markos said.

“Unless whatever it is can fly,” Timotheus said. “In that case, we may be stuck on the boat with nowhere to go…”

“Or if it can swim…” Bleys said. He and Laarus were looking at the pile of goods for possible clues, but Telie came over and noticed a crate of expensive dishware that while opened seemed untouched. He and Tymon carried it over to the sloop, on which Markos was already aboard, inspecting it, and removing the chunks of corpses on the deck; a deck awash with blood.

Timotheus went over and stood about ten feet from the cavern entrance, keeping a lookout, while Laarus moved to help lift things onto the sloop, and Victoria moved towards the north end of the beach, long spear in hand, trying to listen for any approach over the roar of flames and the lapping of the surf.

Laarus was walking beneath the prow of the ship as Markos was at the top of it to reach down and help his cousin up onto the boat when movement further up the beach caught their eyes. From behind a pile of smashed crates popped up a misshapen froglike head sticking out of the tattered remains of sailor’s clothing. It hopped up straighter with a strange gait, noticing the party for the first time. It croaked angrily as it leapt over the corner of the crates and continued its awkward bow-legged approach, on amphibian feet splayed out from the remains of boots. The frog-head had an oversized slavering mouth with shining jagged teeth, and its back was an undulating mess of bursting boils and sweating green and yellow tendrils of raw flesh.

“Timotheus!” Markos called out to gain everyone’s attention, and then with a couple of arcane words, a bolt of force, translucent blue and dripping as if made of water flew from his fingers and slammed into the creature. (1)

“What are those things?!” Tymon cried out as everyone else looked up in time to see the man turned frog-thing leap over twice it height, springing way up into the air to come down with a worrying bite on Laarus’ neck and shoulder. The priest of Ra knocked it back with heavy blow that bounced off its rubbery hide. The savage frog-thing just shrieked and bit him again with greater anger, and Laarus crumpled to the ground.

“Down foul beast!” Victoria of Anhur cried, charging to the aid of her fellow priest. She gritted her teeth as she shoved the point of her longspear into the thing’s neck. She looked in time to see that a second of the things was leaping down at her and she pulled her spear back and pointed it up, catching the monster as it came down. It jerked on the spear point, sending a cascade of steaming green and yellow ichor into the black sand. It landed on the beach still out of the area she threatened so proficiently with her spear.

“Surround them! Take them down!” Timotheus cried, charging down the beach to meet the approach of another coming out from behind the crates before it could leap to the attack. The sand beneath his boots sent the swing of his heavy flail off balance, and the felt the jagged teeth rip at his arm.

“Bast protect me!” Telémahkos prayed as he picked up his heavy crossbow with shaking hands. As he leaned over to pick up a box of bolts, both came falling out hands and bolts spilled over the deck. Markos got down on his hands and knees and picked them up too anxious to make a comment. He began to load the crossbow.

Timotheus swore as a bolt from Tymon’s crossbow came too close for comfort, and he ducked to avoid the bite of the savage frog-thing attacking him.

“Everyone get on the boat!” Victoria cried. “Anhur! Fill me with your strength and vigor so that I might protect my companions and lay low these foul creatures!” She was filled with the righteous fury of her god, and taking a half-step back she drove the end of her spear into one of the two creatures biting at her. The head of the spear burst through the thing’s side, but it did not fall. It howled out a resounding croak and redoubled its efforts to get at her, but her armor protected her from both.

“Our companions are falling,” Markos said to Telémahkos who cringed momentarily in the prow of the boat. The wizard aimed the crossbow and fired at one of the things attacking Victoria, but all it bit was sand. Telie drew his rapier and peeked out at the scene of the melee.

“I’ve just been playing with you,” Timotheus said to the mindless savage thing he fought, and his heavy flail landed on its head. He heard the sickening crunch of the thing’s skull and one of its eyes melted down its misshapen rubbery face, but it did not fall. Instead, it screeched and shook and flicked stinging ichor that oozed from its pores. It bit down on Tim’s shoulder, hard.

As Victoria of Anhur struggled with her two foes, Bleys the Aubergine crept behind her and drew one of her short spears from her back and moved away again to get an angle to throw it. He let it go and it fell short. Suddenly Telémahkos came tumbling off the ship, rapier in hand. He landed in the sand and crouched low, making sure none of the creatures were noticing him. Telie hopped onto the other side of the first of the frogmen, and getting in a flanking position, caught the thing unaware. The rapier slipped through the thing’s flesh easily. Telémahkos’ stomach quivered as he felt organs burst within the thing’s body at the sword’s fine touch. It croaked out dolefully and then suddenly reached backward, nearly twisting itself in half and bit at him. Telémahkos leapt back, pulling the rapier out, and the thing collapsed, apparently finally dead.

“Tim! Don’t go too far away!” Telémahkos called to his cousin. “Get back here!”

“He’s right!” Markos called, re-loading the heavy crossbow. “We need to concentrate our efforts!”

But Timotheus was too deeply involved in his fight with the raging frog-thing before him; at least thirty-five feet away from the rest of the group. Bleys grabbed another of Victoria’s spears and stepped back just as the frog-man that Telémahkos had slain exploded! The many boils and shaking tendrils on its body burst violently and the whole corpse disintegrated sending caustic ichor in a shower that burned Telie and Laarus’ unmoving form. (2)

Bleys let loose with the spear, but at that same moment Victoria sidestepped and her own spear slammed against her back. Thankfully, her armor absorbed the blow. (3) Cursing, Telémahkos moved cautiously over and stabbed the other of the frog-things, but it would not fall.

“Get ‘em, boss!” Tymon encouraged, firing and missing again.

Timotheus managed to knock his foe from his feet, as Bleys, having run out of spears to grab from Victoria’s back, pulled his saber and joined the melee. Now he and Telémahkos and Victoria were surrounding the same one; Victoria fought in grim silence, seemingly never blinking. Telémahkos winced as once of his blows extracted a piece of the thing’s liver, but it did not fall. However, as it turned with it savage rage, Victoria was able to shove her spear through its torso. It croaked and turned back to face her, pulling itself up the shaft of the spear with excruciating effort, trying to bite her before collapsing, but it could not reach. Victoria pulled her spear free and without hesitation ran to aid Timotheus.

The frog-thing on the ground exploded, and once again Bleys felt the burning ichor splatter on his face and body. Tymon let another bolt loose and this one lodged itself through the remaining creature’s eye. Timotheus turned and pushed the charging Victoria back, as that one exploded as well; keeping them out of the radius of the blast.

Victoria of Anhur let out a long low breath as the fury of her god slipped from her mind and body, leaving a deep fatigue in its place. (4) She walked over to Laarus of Ra’s unconscious form and checked on him. He was not bleeding out. With a touch and a word to Anhur, the priest’s wounds began to close and his bruises faded and he stirred. (5) It broke the spell of momentary awe from the rest of the group as they considered the fighting prowess the militant had just displayed.

“Let’s get out of here,” Telémahkos said, as Laarus stood and then walked over to Bleys to close some of the watch-mage’s wounds with Ra’s help.

“Cousin, what are you doing?” Markos asked, leaping off the sloop. “Bleys will not be fighting in the front rank… If you choose to endanger us all by healing him instead of Tim, who is seriously wounded… Well, just be aware that that is what you’re doing…” Sensing that another argument was about to begin, Bleys the Aubergine began to wander around the beach looking for a recoverable bow or light crossbow from among the dead. Laarus ignored his cousin, healing himself further, and Victoria saw to Timotheus’ wounds. Telémahkos went down into the Sea Wyvern’s hold to see if there were any dangers down there, including any casks branded with the letter ‘Q’; there were none. Anything that had been on the ship had already been unloaded. Telie came back up and repeated his suggestion, “Let’s get out of here…”

“We need to figure out what happened here,” Victoria said.

“It seems these creatures were once men,” Bleys said, walking back over, not having found what he was looking for. “If there is some disease or infection that caused this we may already be exposed… We should not leave until we know more…”

“We can get on the ship and sail out a bit and try to figure out what happened from there,” Markos suggested.

Everyone else but Telémahkos disagreed. “We can’t get very far out because of the fires,” Tim said. “You said so your self…”

“So, we are we not leaving?” Telémahkos asked.

“It does not look that way,” Markos replied with a sigh of resignation.

“We need to look around more and figure out what is going on,” Timotheus echoed Bleys and Victoria’s sentiments. “Everybody keep your weapons ready, and load your crossbows…”

“This has all been a mistake,” Telémahkos sighed. “I was set up… It turns out the real reason my source wanted us to come here was to assassinate someone…” He pulled the square of paper Cokie had given him from his belt.

. . .to be continued…

(1) This is just a magic missile, but I allow for players to come up with their own visual effects for spells as long as it remains consistent. These effects are just for flavor and have no in-game benefit or drawback.

(2) While according to the unaltered savage template in the adventure, the creature explodes right away, I changed it to the next action to slightly weaken the creatures for a lower level group, but also because it then created a potential for tactical situations in how to battle them and escape from the range after they are defeated.

(3) If you fire a missile weapon into melee and someone is giving the target cover and you miss by an amount equal to or less than the amount of the cover, then the missile strikes the cover (i.e. the other person fighting) as long as the hit is good enough to hit their armor class anyway. In this case, the spear struck Victoria, but the attack roll was not enough to get through her armor.

(4) When a militant’s righteous fury is done, they are fatigued until they rest for a number of minutes equal to the number of rounds of fury. Barbarian rage works similarly in Aquerra.

(5) Laarus had taken non-lethal damage in the harrowing escape from the walkway, and so he was unconscious, but not mortally wounded (i.e. not at negative hit points).
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