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"Second Son of a Second Son" - Bleys' Journal

Rastfar

Villager
This is the diary of Bleys the Aubergine, graduate of the Academy of Wizardry in the Year of the Margrave 637. It is his first person account of all occurrences, as they happen (to the extent of his knowledge) for the current Aquerra campaign Second Son of a Second Son. Should he live so long, it will come in three parts, the first of which is titled Opinions.

A warning to players of said campaign: Should you so have the craving to read this, be aware that you may be uncovering parts of Bleys' past history, speculation, motivations, and/or anticipated future actions that would otherwise be unavailable to you or your character. If you believe this knowledge will ruin any dramatic revelations, scenes, or other in-game discoveries for yourself or any other players because you can not act accordingly, I encourage you DO NOT CONTINUE. Otherwise, enjoy...
 
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Rastfar

Villager
A Winter's End

Opinions


'If you have nothing to say, do not waste words doing it.'

But I get ahead of myself. I am going to try to keep a brief self-dialogue here so that I may have it for reference should the need ever arise. I guess this is the first part. I'll call it: impressions.

Today is the 9, Sek 637 M.Y. I found myself, quite unexpectedly, in Sluetelot, the seat of power for House Tenbrook. I could feel that outsiders were most unwelcome, especially here in a raucous Inn named Death and Taxes. Now, I didn't arrive here by mistake, quite the contrary, I've been assigned to come here, as the case may be, quite intentionally. The unexpected part is that I did not dream my assignment to be of such seeming importance nor hand-picked by the Margrave herself. Of course my former mentor Sir Abberd the Argent did not directly say this to me, but I am fairly certain as to whose idea it was that I join the Charter of Schiereiland. I am humbled and very enthusiastic. I wish not to let her down.

As I waited in the Inn with father for everyone else to arrive, for the first time I found myself thankful that our surname was indeed Winter and not Devenpeck. It seems that after the mysterious murder of Barakis the Bold, a well-loved Watch-Mage here for many years, the entire town was very upset and disturbed, blaming the entire affair on the people of Weirspierogen, and I can only assume the Devenpecks. I must conclude that this was why father was so unusually quiet and left after the evening's meal.

Barton Digits, the proprietor, showed us upstairs to two semi-private adjoining suites. A hand-painted sign outside the doors. It read: Schiereiland Luncheon. It was not the gala reception or celebration that I had expected given the station of everyone I had assumed would be attending. A woman about my age greeted us warmly - Euleria Finch. She proved to be a most gracious host, introducing us to a man already present, Darbold the Gay. As it turns out the once athletic, now paunchy man was on the Watch-Mage's Council. Shortly after our arrival, representatives of House Raymer were shown in. Accompanied by his father Jansen Ackers, was Markos, and his cousin Laarus Raymer of Ra. Markos is a weathered young man, seemingly frail like a twig. His lithe build and fair features are perhaps what add to this. His cousin, the priest, is by contrast quite broad, though sports the same fair features and pale skin.

More characters arrived; first Nikephorus hobbled in, a quiet Librarian who quickly found a seat, producing a book. I assume he was there to record the events of the day. I later discovered him to be the older sibling of Telemakhos Briareus. Next came Victoria Ostrander, Militant of Anhur, with all the accouterments I begrudge a knight. She and her father Sir Lionel, stood awkwardly apart from everyone else, seemingly inexperienced in the delicate art of political mingling. Of course, none of us proved any more effective. Given the opportunity to get a good look at her in the meantime, I could tell that she took her business very seriously. Not one to succumb to narcissism, her hair was cropped to a hand's length and, despite the chain armour, it was obvious that her martial skills kept her body well-tuned. The remaining guests arrived in short order now. The Briareus clan, led by their burly patriarch Agamemnon, included my brother-in-law Telemakhos and another vaguely familiar face, Timotheus. The duo could not be more disparate. The former, is a smaller man and was obviously dressed for the occasion. Time had been spent meticulously curling his blond hair, and he dressed in the traditional formal toga matched only in glamour by his sword, with it's fancy peace-knot hinge. The latter was a large, broad shouldered, thick muscled brute. His face was dominated by a square jaw housing a wide, expressive mouth. Tailing Telemakhos so closely, it was hard to tell if the warrior was either out of place, or his bodyguard. I assumed a bit of both. All the while, Markos, obviously as out of place as myself, would continue to stand when others arrived, as if in anticipation of some formal announcement, and when there was none he'd sit and continue to keep company with his plate.

Dracius of Ra, mentor of Laarus, also came to bid his best wishes to his pupil. An older man, with graying-blonde hair, once dyed black, now growing out again - Joezyn Barhyte - was last to arrive. And in so doing, launched the formal introduction of the Charter. In honor of the occasion several gifts were given for our disposal:

- The Margrave generously purchased the services of our steward Euleria for the duration of one year.

- House Tenbrook generously paid for our usage of these same two suites and all food and drink purchased therein for the duration of 7 months.

- House Barhyte generously paid for the stabling, grooming, feed and care for our horses at the Tensmoor Stables outside of Old Town for the duration of 6 months.

- House Curen generously offered the services of discounted training facilities at the University of Thricia for the duration of three years.

- House Devenpeck offered us nothing. I suspect that they are unknowing of my involvement in the Charter, or that father would even bother mentioning it. Neither of these points surprise me nor upset me. I'd rather remain anonymous just now.

After the announcements, the Charter's outline was read aloud by our steward. We all signed the Charter. Only Laarus was as eager as I to put pen to paper, and simultaneously we cast our names to the two different copies that we were to sign. Ultimately, everyone did so without hesitation. Leisel of Isis, former member of the Watch-Mage's Council and head of the local temple of Isis then arrived with Lavinia Vanderboren, a mercantile woman; they'd come to wish us well. The moon priestess was radiant, draped in black with a silver shawl, her hair braided and wrapped on a bun. Telemakhos did not miss his cue, and always the affable, was the first to break rank and begin mingling. Unfortunately, my brother-in-law came to speak with me. Mostly small talk, introducing his cousin-bodyguard, a bastard now recognized by Agamemnon's brother. Quickly, Telemakhos found something else more interesting and moved on to speak with the merchant woman, Timotheus in tow.

After some time spent in silence with father, observing the peacocks preen about and shower each other with proper decorum, we moved to speak to Sir Lionel. Unfortunately I was waylaid by a weasely little Hermanlander who must have snuck in while I was not looking. He kept me from meeting the knight. He introduced himself as Cavalind Rattlendale and did his best to hide his intentions by beseeching me to mention to the Charter members the merits of traveling to Herman Land and combat evil humanoids, etc. 'What adventurers do,' as he phrased it. I quickly tuned him out, and he moved on, attempting to appeal to Telemakhos instead. My brother-in-law at least heard the conniver out, but as it has not been mentioned since, must assume the pleas again fell upon deaf ears. As I was listening in on their conversation, Laarus of Ra beckoned me to join the conversation in which he had become embroiled. I did so. He wished my input on the subject of what mission we should begin with our Charter undertaking in. Specifically, he asked if the 'Margrave had an idea in mind.' How he came to know that I was a representative of the Margrave I don't know, for I assumed that it was not common knowledge beyond the assignment of a Watch-Mage. How was he to know that I believed she hand-picked me, of all Watch-Mages, for this task. But such are the glories of Ra. I assured him that I was unaware of any such personal requests.

As everyone continued to meander about now, many conversations continued simultaneously. A few individuals began to come and go, some retiring for the evening, others wishing words of final encouragement and advice before beginning their long journeys home. I took the opportunity to inquire into the recent death of the Watch-Mage here. Leisal, a former member of his council, informed me that there was no further progress into discovering the nature of his untimely end. She did, however, enlighten me as to the close camaraderie that he and Darbold shared. I found the bard, relishing yet another plate of food. He mourned the death of his drinking buddy, and had no insight to offer. I asked him for directions to Barakis' house. Conveniently, it was just across the street, where the carousers would usually go to continue their revelries. Additionally, I learned that Floris Tenbrook shared an avuncular relationship with the older wizard and mourned his passing to Anubis' Realm most of all. I sought out Laarus. I found him already engaged with Telemakhos. He seemed to be weighing the Briareus' words. It appeared that the man was trying to convince the priest of the merits of investigating a possible plot by pirates against House Wetherwax, originating in Tribunisport. Telemakhos seemed to have already come by some leads for our Charter to follow up on, continuing to suggest that after doing so we should look into some barbarian raids originating from the area of the Kingstones in the Disputed Territories. The latter suggestion appeals to me greatly. The former worries me.

I waited for Telemakhos to finish his piece. I wished to enlist Laarus to accompany me to the abode of the Watch-Mage. Fearing for the appearance it may have upon myself and the Charter should I be noticed 'snooping' around his place, especially were it to be discovered that my liege-lord was House Devenpeck, I knew his presence would lend an heir of credibility. I explained this to the insightful cleric and in hearing the merit of my words, he graciously agreed. Telemakhos invited himself along.

Quickly we crossed the street, passed through the gate, and stepped over the empty tankards and goblets strewn about the yard. There was a note on the door. It read 'for all normal business concerning the Watch-Mage, visit Darbold the Gay'. There were crude hand-drawn directions. I tried the door; it was locked. I was angered and returned to Death and Taxes. Darbold was still there stuffing his fat face. I asked if he knew who had the key. Over greasy lips he told me that he did, pulling it from a string draped around his neck. I asked for it. He asked why, and then insinuated, the nerve, that I wished to measure for drapes. I could barely contain my fury. He asked if I was sent by the Academy to do so. Again I tried to explain that I was merely pursuing the personal interest of looking into another Watch-Mage's demise. It was only now that he was forthcoming with the fact that the Academy had already investigated. If he knew the outcome, he wasn't telling, or he deemed me not needing to know. Finally, I asked if he knew who had investigated the crime. I did not expect his response - Abberd Argent. While a truncated version of my former master's true title, I instantly divined who he meant. And if Sir Abberd the Argent was satisfied then so was I. I let the matter close. I thanked Laarus for his time.

We found ourselves situated in the common room of one of the suites, snacking on a light supper, just enough to fill our bellies before retiring for the evening. Just then Timotheus and Markos returned. The stench of foul-spirits heralded their approach as they sat down to gorge. They broke the calm, and loudly proclaimed that now was the time to discuss what our course of action should be. I grew annoyed. I informed the group, now together for the first time, that more than one of them was at least mildly intoxicated and that I recommended against making any decisions until tomorrow morning. I took the remains of my meal, bid them good night, and retired to one of the sleeping areas. It was then that I realized that my worst fears may become realized. I take this assignment very seriously, but perhaps not all of us do. I have the utmost respect for Laarus, as he station commands it. And Victoria must be a boon to us; a Militant is worthy warrior. But these other three, I don't know about. I agreed to abide by the provisions of our Charter when I signed, and it clearly reads - sober intent. For the group to sit around, while any of our member is without clarity, and make a declaration of intent: that does not sit well with me. Frankly, I was surprised that I was the only one seemingly offended.

As I have no funds, and little rations, I am sneaking food back to my sleeping area and Preserving it. And that's it, for today. Well, I guess not. Telemakhos has just left. He took it upon himself to inform me that while he was pissing on the Watch-Mage's house, the ne'er-do-well happened to notice that the rear door was left open. Of course, I asked him if he then closed it. He did not.
 
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Rastfar

Villager
10, Sek 637 M.Y.

As I slept fitfully last night, I found my mind kept wandering always to return to one burning question: Of all places, why have this party Sluetelot? It just seems like such a long way to go for a bunch of Schiereilanders. It is only convenient to me, and surely none of them anticipated my inclusion, not that it matters. As I awoke earlier than the rest of my party, I sought out the steward. She is efficient, that Euleria, and I suspect that we did receive a wonderful gift from the Margrave in being awarded her services. I asked her to send a message to Darbold, informing him of the status of the Watch-Mage’s rear door. I also posed my query to her. Euleria seems to have some answers. Houses Ostrander and Briareus were fighting about where to hold the party, with opinions changing several times - they were considering Old Raymer when they found out about the gift from House Tenbrook - and figured this was as good a compromise as any. Also, the Academy is notoriously slow about appointing new watch-mages - by having the chartered group stationed here, there will be a watch-mage present in town at least some of the time, however unofficially. The relative closeness of the Disputed Territories made her speculate, and I agree, that the powers that be want someone down there as their eyes and ears. Finally, it would be no surprise if House Tenbrook likes the idea of manipulating their gift to have the Schiereiland lesser houses working in their interests to some degree. Already I feel as if I’ve accomplished much.

‘Some people can’t hear past their own mouths.’

We had breakfast together in the suites and decided to spend the morning at the Temple of Anhur. Laarus instead went to see Dracius of Ra before the senior priest left town. Markos did not join us. Timotheus wanted to see ‘what we could do’. I anticipate that he is interested in developing some tactics. That is smart; obviously he is a veteran and knows what is necessary if we are all to remain alive in the field of combat. Unfortunately, I had no coppers to offer as tithe, and so was uncomfortable taking to the field. The others were outfitted with wooden weapons with which they sparred. My suspicions were confirmed. Telemakhos is adept only at defense, though he is quick enough to stay out of harms way, hopefully. And thankfully, at least for him, Timotheus fights as well as any two soldiers. Victoria showed great prowess as well, able to switch between several martial weapons without a second thought.

Returning to the suites’ common room for lunch, we all met again. Leisal had returned with news from her temple and wished to convey to us the importance of what may lie in the Disputed Territories. She said that when the barbarian hordes move on they leave behind their young and elderly, leaving them vulnerable to attack by other humanoids or monsters. Apparently one of the ‘sisters’ of her order had already returned with some orphans and was the one responsible for giving Leisal her information. We continued to discuss how we might pursue a path into the Disputed Territories and Leisal recommended that it may be possible for us to contact the halflings of Wesmearshire, one of whom could surely guide us, if not point us in the proper direction.

Laarus weighed in. He must have also heard something from Dracius or in his local temple, for he stated that he had confirmation by ‘higher authorities’ of barbarian attacks being spurned by those of the Kingdom of the Red God. He intimated that in so doing we should investigate the Treaty of Devil’s Grasp. Euleria, a gem that one, was able to produce a map of Thricia to aid us in our discussion of where to go. It seemed obvious that all our information and leads were clearly sending us to the Disputed Territories. Yet, why does Telemakhos adamantly persist with this pirate business in Tribunisport. Even after Victoria asked him how he came by his information, he would not tell. Is he attempting to sway the Charter to some ends which would benefit House Briareus? Timotheus is of course in agreement with his master, but I can not understand why Markos is so swayed. He must not appreciate the insight of his cousin, as I do. We were only able to agree that we would travel south the few days to New Harbinger, and make a decision from there. As it lies on the coast east of the Borderlands, and north-westerly across the Drei-Hoek Bay from Black Thread Isle, where Tribunisport sits. We are leaving tomorrow morn.

Floris Tenbrook arrived in time to break the tension of our arguments. In a drunken stupor he dawdled to our table to ‘get a look at us’. It is obvious that he consoles his grief with the drink, and too much of it. I announced him to the group and he slumped off after considering some unheard insult by one of the bar chairs.

As our heading was at least known, Telemakhos asked Euleria about securing us with hired help upon our arrival. Timotheus was quick to agree to sword and bowmen. Markos produced an unusual sum of coin, donating at least 3 score silvers, with the rest of the funds contributed by Telemakhos and Victoria. The monies are to be used for hirelings wages, as well as food and lodging. Any spoils we receive as a result of our forays will cover the initial expense put forth by those three individuals. On this second matter we agreed readily.

I asked Euleria if it was customary for any such gifts to the Charter to be transferable. If we could continue receive the benefit of grooming, stabling, food and lodging as we moved about the country, that would have been a great boon indeed, but alas we are tethered to Sluetelot for such benefits.

After lunch, Laarus spared us the public spectacle of embarrassment and found opportunity to approach me alone. We spoke at length about his concerns, which were namely my concerns. It seems that he queried as to my reluctance to investigate rumours of pirates in Tribunisport. I assured him that the Thrician Royal Navy did not need the help of we six to stave off some dreaded attacks by a few pirates. I don’t know if he was convinced but I believe he saw the merit in my arguments at the least. Besides, at this point in time we have not the funds nor resources to secure ship nor crew. I honestly don’t know that some of these nobility live in reality, rather they expect things to be done for them due to their birth-rank. It is quite possible, however, that Telemakhos will bend everyone else’s ear with his gilded tongue and yet sway the votes for us to travel across the bay. Would he be doing so out of altruism? I think not. If I recall correctly, it was his brothers slain by pirates. The Charter would then be serving his own, House Briareus’, ends; though ‘for the good of the people’ they may yet be.

We gathered for dinner in the common room of the suite. Laarus was said ‘to have taken ill’ from something he purchased from a street vendor and was not to join us. Instead the priest lay sequestered in his bed, conserving his strength for tomorrow’s departure. I wonder if indeed it was mayhap something I said. I’d like not to be at odds with him, in fact I find I enjoy his conversation and candor. We spoke to Euleria about passage to the south and learned of our options. The High Road is further inland and a slower journey by a day, but safer. The Beach Road hugs the coast is infrequently used due to threat of bandits. These facts seemed to excite the Briareus: Telemakhos for the former and Timotheus, the latter. Telemakhos adjourned from our company early to go gamble. Victoria played chit chat with Timotheus who dominated the conversation. Markos, like myself, stayed quiet. I imagine he may just be processing all the information being passed around. As the two warriors talked, Timotheus talked of being a bastard and his dislike for Sir Agamemnon, his uncle, Telemakhos’ father. He certainly did not seem to care for the knight or for who knew it, even going so far as to mention that Telemakhos would echo his sentiment. Apparently Victoria relished the idea and proposed asking him when he returns later ‘tonight when he is foolish with liqour’. I enjoyed that remark. The alcohol does make one foolish, I’m glad to know that she recognizes it as well.

The talk turned to our group and our travels. Markos shared some insight into his own musings, and posed that as we adventure all Houses will have some design for our group. Eloquently, he expressed that our ends should be to serve the people of Thricia; same as the Margrave, avoiding temptation and political quagmire. If indeed I did drink I’d have toasted him then. I raised my glass in salute of his declaration. Again, I am glad for another who has clarity for our purpose. Before closing, Timotheus, ever the warrior and tactician turned finally to the mechanics of our members. He expressed concerns of we all having and utilizing missile weapons, as well as, drilling in order to meld magic into melee effectively. I imagine his intent is good: to keep us all alive; but I wonder if perhaps the conversation would be better held with the entirety of our members and before he’d imbibed enough drink to drown most any man. Nonetheless there is merit in his words and having some passing knowledge of tactics myself, it is clear that his own experience and practice surpass my own.

The rest of the evening we prepared our personals to depart the following day. I do so look forward to leaving this town and feeling soft earth beneath my horses feet, though I am apprehensive of what is to become of we members of the Charter. I can only pray that we shall find some fraternity when forced to rely on one another and nobility is proven in deed, not pedigree.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I just wanted to stop by and give my hearty endorsement to this story hour, and say how I am really looking forward to another point of view on the events of a campaign I am running.

I have started work on a more comprehensive story hour for the game, and it will be interesting to see how Bleys' entries' perspective will differ from the "what really happened" version.

I put "what really happened" in quotes because we know that sometimes story hours are often better at capturing the spiritual truth of a game, but not as good at the literal truth - if only because, being human, our memories and note-taking abilities are flawed.

Anyway, I am in the funny position of being eager to read more of this, but being the one who runs the game, and knowing there is no more of this to be posted yet. . .

Our next game is Superbowl Sunday!
 

Manzanita

Villager
Hey - what I always like to see is a rogue's gallary entry. El Remen has all sorts of other stuff to recall, but perhaps you could make an entry for your PC at first level, and at each level up in this thread, Rastfar.

Looking forward to this blog & storyhour to come!
 

Rastfar

Villager
11, Sek 637 M.Y.

And so it begins. Finally, we have left Sluetelot behind and I ca not help but be thankful for it was none to soon. Any longer there and I fear that we might never have left before being out of funds and any number of our members standing trials, engaged in duels, or in debt one way or another. Euleria was able to secure us an extra pack horse, despite our last minute request, such that we might more evenly distribute our load, making our pace more expeditious. She has proven highly efficient, our greatest boon to be sure. Care of the animal has fallen to me, rather no one else seemed up to the task. I do not mind. In fact, I enjoy it. Even tonight, as I groomed my own steed and the chore horse, I found comfort in knowing we are now out doing good for the country. As Markos and I have drawn the first watch together, I am somewhat glad. He seems not to mind being left alone. We need not make awkward conversation. And apparently he is something of an intellectual as well, I spy him reading a tome of some kind with drawings and diagrams. I am yet unable to make its purpose or subject matter. Perhaps I will ask him in the future. He did show an eagerness to learn and an aptitude for application. As I set about cleaning the horses, Markos approached me. I did not mind. He asked me what I was doing, and why. I explained to him the necessity of caring for the animals and maintaining their well-being, the level of detail involved, the importance of being thorough. He seemed to absorb it all like a sponge, quickly tending to his own horse and those of the others. Fortunately for us both, our magics make doing so a possible task in a brief period of time, but nonetheless I still don’t like that he volunteered to look after everyone else’s steed. I made sure to tell him so.

The day passed uneventfully. While at the stables, we were able to learn that prevalent knowledge places Barakis the Brown alone on the Beach Road at the time of his unfortunate incident. Supposedly he was ambushed by bandits. I’m not sure that I believe much of this rumour. Perhaps even the locale being a fabrication. On our way out of town I marveled at the engineering of the bridge over the canal on the southerly road. Apparently, hinged metal plates were affixed to hold it’s center, in such a fashion that they could be raised in the event of a tall-masted ship traveling through. I did not notice if anyone else was, but I was impressed.

We have taken the Beach Road. Timotheus at least yearns for the opportunity ‘to test ourselves’. While I don’t mind an engagement, I don’t think I long for one either, or any for that matter. Even a seasoned veteran such as he must know that not every fight can be won. I know Telemakhos shares my hesitation, being the only voice against our current route.

We were able to eat the lunch given to us by Barton Digits and in the afternoon we happened across some fisherman close to shore. Telemakhos spoke with them. They warned us of the colloquial dangers – ‘greenbacks’ and ‘froggies’. By their inference I am forced to assume they mean lizardmen and bullywugs. I know not of the latter, but the former at least are protected by the Thrician Racial Covenant. I question how much of their story is strictly fear and how much is truth. They provided us with fish so we were able to escape yet having to dine on naught but trail bread. Not that I mind the flavor too much, its bland variety puts me in the mood for adventure.
 
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Rastfar

Villager
12, Sek 637 M.Y.

Mornings are to be a busy time for us: Laarus and Victoria both observe their holy prayers and rituals, Markos and I dedicate time to poring over our tomes, and Timotheus and Telemakhos stretch, spar, and exercise. I would very much prefer it if I could only take two hours of the first watch and then wake up early, halfway through our third watch so that I might still accomplish my chores in the evening and yet find time to my necessities in the morning, allowing me to join the veteran warrior in his instruction of my brother-in-law. This may take some arranging but I’d be foolish not to try and learn more of what he has to instruct. He even carries a saber as I do, and seems keen to stress defensive maneuvering more often than offensive. Or perhaps this is the devotion of his pupil.

As we travel during the day I ride next to Victoria, bringing up the rear behind Telemakhos and Markos. Timotheus and Laarus ride out in front. This ‘formation’ has been designated by Timotheus. She does not speak to me much, but I guess she does not speak much at all. As I understand it, her House – the Ostranders – are at odds with the Briareus and Raymer Houses. Or mayhap she thinks me beneath her, for even her noble upbringing is evident in her action and manner of speaking to others. As we left town yesterday she took full advantage of our steward making her race about town in order to secure some last minute provisioning. I am not sure if this is a lack of foresight or certain expectations being unmet, regardless her tongue and demeanor are as stern as her spine. While my day was spent mostly in silence in my own quiet musings, I have found myself enjoying the road and still relish the action I know to come.

During my watch I have again tended to my horse and the pack animal. The others have continuously ignored theirs. Markos has again tended to the other five steeds. He has caught on quickly, needing only minimal guidance from me tonight, however, I was sure to again express my disdain for him assuming the others’ workload.
 
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Rastfar

Villager
14, Sek 637 M.Y.

I never wanted to go into Wringneck’s tavern, so of course they did. If we had only ridden another 3 or 4 hours we’d be in New Harbinger right now, not camped out on some muddy knoll across from what I suspect to be an old Sun-Ra Kingdom fort. Already we have pushed our horses to the limit to get here, so if a score or more lizardfolk come pouring out of its crumbling gates intent upon making jerky of us, we will be forced to fight. I hope the others are light sleepers.

‘I told you so.’

So, how did we get here? It has been a full day. It started off promising enough.

I was mildly pleased that Markos had the gumption to inform the others that he had no longer be tending to their steeds at night. It was two days too long in my opinion. By mid-morning we had passed the signs of riders, dust plumes moving opposite of us, on the hill above to our right. We also knew that to our west somewhere was the High Road, but were unable to determine whether this route was where the billowing curls were originating from. They passed without incident though we braced for contact. Shortly thereafter, we were approached by more riders on the Beach Road. The approaching wave of steed driven smoke belied their number. They flew the colours of House Swann, so I quickly loaded my crossbow. Telemakhos had the same thought as I, knowing standards can easily be stolen, misrepresented, or part of an ambush, and made to ready his crossbow as well. Victoria spurred her horse forward and Timotheus rode out with her.

They spoke at some length before riding off. It appears that they were in pursuit of some bandits that were operating in the local area. As aid, Victoria offered them word of our earlier sighting. I now wonder if it was sign of the very same bandits that we’d spotted then. And if so, are these possibly the bandits that may have had something to do with the death of my fellow alumnus. If I do not get the chance to investigate I must at least recall these events to Sir Abberd.

By the end of the evening we approached a fork where apparently both the Beach and High Roads merge again into one before continuing on south to New Harbinger, the seat of House Swann. It was at this crossroads that our destiny was to change for the unforeseen. What I assumed would be called Sludge Town was indeed not far from the truth; the collective of mud covered huts and structures held together by sheer force of will and moss could hardly be called civilization, or its people civil for that matter. I got sheckies just looking at the tavern here in Bog End. Before we could get close enough to the fetid nadir of propriety, I figured it would be in our best interest to ask one of the local denizens how far we were from our destination. I didn’t move fast enough.

No sooner had I turned to walk back to my horse, then the raucous laughter from the floating publick house had turned into the tell tale cacophony of a common room brawl. Here came Timotheus dragging out some whelp by the scruff of his collar. The audacity of those people, even a war-horse did not daunt them. Despite Laarus’ best efforts to exert the authority due his class over the rabble-rousers, and my best efforts to abet them; yet they insisted on civil unrest. Making peace with the fact that a firm hand was probably better served than diplomacy in the situation, I made the acquaintance of Wallaby while waiting for the others to conclude their fisticuffs.

Valerius is an eager young squire to Sir Quintus Gosprey. He had been on the receiving end of a sound thrashing when the others stepped in to save him. Apparently, he was in search of a party from the wrong caste of the community. His master has been abducted by lizardfolk, or so he believes, in the swamp not far from here. I feel that some other series of events may be stirring. Victoria, Laarus and Timotheus were ensorcelled by the young lad’s story and opted to leave immediately, despite nightfall, into unknown bog waters, to search out the waylaid knight. Markos and I gave voice to reason, imploring them not to bend to passion. I still maintain that if these captors were indeed meaning to do Quintus harm they’d have done so already. But for some reason, Telemakhos agreed with the majority, forcing our march. This course of action boggles me; I can’t fathom why the coward would vote so.

There are too many questions with too few answers to satisfy them. Why was Sir Quintus meeting lizardmen in the swamp? Near dusk? Alone? Why did they not just attack from cover if they meant him harm? Why would they allow Valerius to escape? Surely if they’d desired to do him harm, they could have easily surrounded the two or prevented the squire’s withdrawal at least. Is Quintus indeed a reputable man, or a base cur who stoops to beating his wenches? If the latter, is it possible that he is in league with the bandits House Swann searches for? Or even leading them?

Telemakhos hired us one of the locals whom he was beating up on only a few minutes before to guide us out here - Tavius. We spent the better part of the night following a track used by the people of Bog End for fishing and such. It appears that no one else came prepared as only Laarus had a lantern and I torches. As we proceeded we came upon the area where Valerius detailed the account, and indeed the mount was still there. Unfortunately, it was beyond salvation: stuck chest deep in muck and already wounded. Some small species of reptile that apparently dwelled in the area had found it before us and found the horse too tasty an opportunity to pass by. The myriad vermin quickly dragged it down, fighting us the while, as if our mere presence exacerbated their blood-lust. What a pity, I am sure it was a fine animal and I hate to witness it come to such an ignoble end.

We continued on. Some hours later, after Telemakhos proved his inexperience as a rider, we made our way out here. If we live through this, someone must surely teach him basic horsemanship. There is running water which makes me assume this is the edge of the mainland, perhaps we are in an immense submerged delta that contributes to the Drei-Hoek Bay. Upon reaching the scrubby plain in front of the dilapidated fort I announced our presence. Bolstered by the glorious light of Ra I called upon the Thrician Racial Covenant, to parley with lizardfolk inside. I do not know if we are fortunate, but it does not hold for this group of lizardfolk who refuse to recognize it. After a brief and crude exchange we were able to determine this: they do have Quintus, and they will not let us see him.

As to what the rest of the day’s events shall bear, I am fretful. Isis protect us.
 
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Rastfar

Villager
14, Sek 637 M.Y.

Laarus is an eager fellow. His zeal committed us to a course of action: one that which we were not all agreed upon. Tactically not a sound decision, I’m sure Timotheus and Victoria would agree. And now Argos is dead. When Victoria regains her wits, I’m sure she will be sour and chagrined, but I am unable to ascertain how long that plant’s toxin will course through her veins. Fortunately, none other of our number found such their fate, though Timotheus did certainly come close to awaiting Osiris’ judgment. We felled three of their number, before we could reach an accord. Afterwards of course, we were only able to bind two of them, the last, his wounds proved too grievous for me to bind. I will say this for the warrior, he lays lacerations which are sure and run deep.

‘No plan survives contact with the enemy.’

As I suspected, they do hold Sir Quintus of his own volition, confirming this blood shed was entirely unnecessary. He is enduring something known as the 'Shannis effect', under the care and protection of the Golden Straw Tribe, whom he manipulated to his ends. The knight has debased himself by becoming addicted to this drug which clouds his mind and judgment.

As I understand it, this is the background which has been provided us. Shannis is derived from the pollen of a plant here, which the lizardfolk can harvest safely being immune to its mind-addling effects. The pollen, once harvested, is somehow combined with some variant of mushroom spores, collected from somewhere else near here, by someone else. I do recall someone, Tavius perhaps, mentioning a hermit who lived in the bog and sang to his mushrooms. He may be said person. I shall have to recall to look into this as well.

The Gold Straw tribe of lizardmen has recently moved into the vicinity, escaping the more deadly contested Disputed Territories. They had been harvesting this pollen but decided they would stop. They encountered Sir Quintus who promised to speak to young Lord Swann on their behalf. They wish to pledge their fealty and pay tribute to him in exchange for protection and the grant of lands. Frankly, I think this an exceptional boon to the House, as these lands are near uninhabitable anyway, even for the hardy folk of Bog End. A tribe of lizardmen acting as scouts, couriers, and harriers in times of war, would be an asset indeed, at the least, opening the Beach Road to trade would prove profitable.

Some drug merchants came about looking for the Shannis. Sir Quintus Gosprey encountered the drug traffickers, whom have also been incorrectly referred to as bandits, and decided that he would aid them fearing that if they did not receive what they were after they would return, perhaps in greater numbers, and make a great deal of trouble. In his attempts to allay their suspicions, and get closer to their members, even so far as to uncover who their leader may be, he became addicted to the Shannis. Embarrassed, rightly so, at the way he had conducted himself, he turned to the lizardfolk for aid. He asked to be sequestered until such time as he was able to break the drugs’ physical grasp upon him. In exchange he vowed to speak to Lord Swann on their behalf, something he’d promised to do for quite some time already. Needless to say these lizardfolk are unamused and distrusting of all our kind. Human words no longer carry weight for them. I have promised to bear this message for them, personally, and encouraged them to recognize the Thrician Racial Covenant. I only hope Lord Swann can see the benefit for himself.

In the back of my mind I still feel that someone, Sir Quintus perhaps, did also refer to these bandits, these drug smugglers as pirates. Pirates are plenty, but might these be the same tied to the Tribunisport plot? MacHaven is the drug merchant leader and Connduel is his contact in Tribunisport. I must remember to learn what more I can of these men.
 
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BlackCat

Villager
RUINED!!! DOOOOMMMMMM!!!

I cast DOOM upon ye, bad sir! Thy spoilers do reek! Reek, I say.

Just kidding! Looking forward to more. Despite my observations on said main SH, I enjoy Bleys' point of view immensely. I really look forward to his growth as a person and Watch- Mage.

Jon
 

Rastfar

Villager
15, Sek 637 M.Y.

Now I wonder: if these lizardmen are new to the area and are harvesting this pollen, who did they sell or trade it to before? Who did the drug smugglers acquire it from before Sir Quintus? Who harvested it before the Gold Straw tribe moved in? Surely there must be other sources. Obviously this toxic plague will only be cured by burning out the carriers.

At least Valerius’ heart knows its place, if not his mouth. He is a tenacious, courageous, insightful young man. He shows initiative. He would be an otherwise exceptional squire, were it not for his incessant puling outbursts. Sir Quintus does not deserve him. Were I a knight I would have long ago lavished him with praise and curbed his tongue. I must be sure to speak with him in private before we part ways. I feel I owe him an explanation.

I spend much of my spare time today in thought. None of us seem to have too much to say to one another. Victoria still bears some looking after and I am all too glad to do it, as Valerius has taken over the duties of tending our horses. I have naught more to say to Sir Quintus, and the lizardfolk seem to be about tending their daily routine. Odd customs they have. They’ve taken to eating their fallen companion. Surely they are skilled enough hunters, not needing to resort to cannabilism. I see Timotheus is as anxious as I, and looking to spar. I shall avail myself of his tutelage.
 
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Rastfar

Villager
15, Sek 637 M.Y.

Victoria has regained enough wisdom to know when she is being insulted. Perhaps exacerbated by the loss of Argos, she would brook the verbal salvo from Markos no longer. Their scrap ended with her leaving the smaller man unconscious. Though I agree with some of his sentiment, he deserved it.

‘You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.’

As I sit and listen to the cajoling and moaning of Sir Quintus these last few days, it occurs to me that he is symptomatic of some larger problem. How is it that this Shannis has such an enduring effect, one that can run so deep, yet the local constabulary has allowed this drug to be procured in the area? Who is harvesting it all? Where is it produced? How do individuals even come to fathom combining the two ingredients in order to create the drug? Surely, it must be some new dilemma, for no Noble House would allow such a plague to fall upon its peoples for long. I must assume that as soon as this new threat to the people was discovered in the region Sir Quintus was the first to spearhead the stem of its growth. Perhaps he deserves some pity as he may not have entirely understood what it was he was getting himself into.
 

Rastfar

Villager
16, Sek 637 M.Y.

I used to believe in a lot of things. I realize now that they may have all been childhood dreams. The misperceptions that are becoming clear to me are disturbing to say the least. They clarify my thoughts. But I must continue to believe that they can not all be true; that there is still some hope for the ideals I held dear. I once wished to be the knight in shining armour; a stout warrior, as my father, my brother before me, to make them proud. To ride high on a horse, protector of the people, bringing justice for the innocent, a protector of all things Thricia. My first real encounters with knights have proven them to be anything but, with one exception. I hope Sir Lionel is the paragon I aspire to be. Sir Agamemnon seems not the type; Sir Quintus is a disappointment for sure. And while I never wanted to attend the Academy of Wizardry, I find some solace in the fact that many of the virtues they tout are so akin to mine own personal standards.

Alas, father had another design for me and off to school I was sent. I still do not know how it was arranged that I was to be mentored by Sir Abberd Schemerhorn, but for that I am grateful. Despite my reticence, I came to enjoy my time in the Golden Tower of the West. Though I was forced to return after my third year at the Academy for further tutelage, I welcomed his company, if not his scolding. Yet, at times like this, I even miss that. He gives me hope that there may yet be some purpose I can serve as an Eldritch Knight, as he does.
 
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Rastfar

Villager
16, Sek 637 M.Y.

We have been anesthetized with boredom. Still we tarry; awaiting the release of Sir Quintus as now we are to accompany him as he holds audience with the Lord Swann. And Markos, does he not realize that his continual redundancies belie his intelligence? But I guess I can not expect more. He is not the only impetuous youth with whom I must now suffer; I find them intolerable, exacerbated in packs.

Perhaps my disdain for Telemakhos is unfounded. Or rather, maybe he should not have to endure its wrath as he may not understand my reasoning for it. But as I see it, he should not be here at all. He should be home, ward for my niece and nephew, ensuring that my sister is well cared for. And while I know that it was not he whom married Paulien, he is their closest relative. Surely Sir Agamemnon has many other duties to tend to and is above the responsibility. And of course, even I know that it is impossible for my sister, Spiro and Anders to return home to the Roost. How isolated they must feel, detached, disconnected. They must be so lonely. I pray Isis watch over them and grant Paulien strength.
 
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Rastfar

Villager
16, Sek 637 M.Y.

Timotheus is anxious to invoke some name for this group of adventurers that we are. I do not know that we are necessarily in need of a designation in order to succeed at our responsibilities, though I imagine it must be some homage to the romantic notion of days since past. Heroes of lore as such; still Sorlorn and Amarantha are yet known names to date, having never enjoyed greater glory in a cabal. As it stands some part of his suggestion must ring true in my ear, for I too now ponder it, and as of now even write my reflections. Perhaps all this introspection into my beliefs has impelled me.

Are we not supposed to be the measure of all that is true? The measure of all that is virtuous? The measure of duty, honor, strength, loyalty, compassion, courage, mercy, righteousness? Our birth rank, caste, social standing, verily the Charter we all did eagerly sign, demand it of us. To be noble of blood is not enough; we must be noble in deed. For we are the measure by which all Thricia is judged. We are the measure which the common man looks up to, adheres to, and strives to become. And in honour to, and to remind us of that measure, I say that we should strive to become: The Measure.

‘There is nothing noble in being superior to someone else. Real nobility is derived from being superior to yourself.’
 
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BlackCat

Villager
The Measure

If you don't mind my saying, I personally think that ROCKS! That of course means that everyone else in the party is sure to shoot it down.

I'm enjoying the inner thoughts and beliefs revealed here as opposed to the objective storytelling in the main SH. Very often it's hard to portray the true motivations of any given character, especially one as complicated as Bleys seems to be. You want to give hints but not be too forthcoming.

So far, so good. More, please. I'm very interested in his reactions to New Harbinger and the Swanns. Can't wait to meet Lord Swann himself.
 

Rastfar

Villager
17, Sek 637 M.Y.

We have returned to civilization and I can not say that I am overjoyed, though it is certainly not as dreary as our stay in the bog. There must be more thrills in truth to the epic tales of adventure and exploration than this. As I abide it now, we merely travel from city to town, wagging political tongues and nary lift a hand toward the betterment of Thricia. I remain cautiously optimistic. Perhaps this is why the Margrave has assigned me to the Charter: knowing my design, hoping I may in some way drive us from royal courts and feasting halls to frontier lands and ill-omened warrens, pursuing our motherland’s greater good.

As suspected Sir Quintus was more concerned with his own reputation than his word to us. Promptly upon our arrival at the gate, he took liberty to have leave of us, deigning it more important to speak to Lord Swann alone. I doubt any such thing will occur, or if it does, he has at least broken his vow to allow us bear witness on behalf of the Gold Straw Tribe. Apparently, his pride is more important to him than his honour. I shall be anxious to see what comes of it at this dinner party tomorrow evening.

I have learned a little more about the Disputed Territories from the Watch-Mage here, Oroleniel the Salmon. He informs me that a band of adventurers recently returned from said area with sleds in tow. Apparently, they had encountered some fanatics of the Red God and two of their number met their end. Others were badly beaten. Numbering amongst their nine, more than we, were a Moon-Priestess and a Cleric of the Hammer God. We will need to be more vulpine than they should we have hopes of all returning alive.

I barely remember the half-elf from the Academy as he was a few years my senior. He is certainly lonely though. I shall look in on him tomorrow day, perhaps bringing some company. I could not endure his hare-quick nattering long.

Euleria continually impresses me. Besides having the heart to rescue a boy to serve as our porter, she has hired two mercenaries who seem well-suited to our task: Falco and Dunleavy. Though some part of me still remains concerned for their well-being; Timotheus assures me that they know what jeopardy to expect for their coin, and a goodly sum it is. Unfortunately, the more we dawdle about the longer we squander their three daily silvers. We certainly can not go to Tribunisport now, or purchase ferry passage for them, let alone pay them to stand about as we investigate rumours. I do not recall there being a vote taken to use group funds toward hiring these men. What a fool’s idea.

Our rooms are unused dungeon cells. At least they removed the locks from the doors.

‘There are two kinds of men who never amount to much: those who cannot do what they are told and those who can do nothing else.’
 
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