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STAP: Cap'n Trade and Friends.

theredrobedwizard

First Post
Hello all. I figured I'd give this storyhour thing another go, hopefully I'll get more response than my last attempt.

I'm still not sure about the writing style I've chosen; I might go back and rewrite it in a more third person style. Leave feedback if'n you want.

Without further ado, the Journal of Aratradeon Nydal.

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To any who read this, know that if this notebook has fallen into your hands it means that I am either dead or world famous. I know not which at this early stage of writing, but I sincerely hope for the latter. I begin to write this journal on the first night of my being shipwrecked on the Isle of Dread. My ship, the Sea Wyvern, struck a reef just off the coast of this forsaken Isle. I hope some day to retrieve it, but that day may never come.

Where are my manners? My name is Captain Aratradeon Nydal, but everyone calls me Trade. I'm the son of a prostitute and a nobleman; part elf, part human, part demon, part fey. I'm not sure which part holds the most sway, but that's a tale for another time. I guess I should start at the beginning, as it's moderately rude of me to pick things up here, in the middle (or possibly the end, if this Isle has its wish). My story begins five months ago, in the city of Sasserine.

Chapter One: Exploded.​

It was raining the day I came to captain the Blue Nixie. I only remember this because the city watch said that the rain had only helped to spread the fire that claimed the life of my employers and my commander. I was sleeping below decks, the only crewman left onboard the Blue Nixie; the rest of the crew had been reassigned to my employer's new ship, the Farshore Envoy, so that the nobles could take a relaxing cruise down the coast. I awoke with a start as an explosion rocked the ship. I ran up to the deck and gazed upon a horrifying sight.

There, across the harbor, the Farshore Envoy was in flames. Fire and smoke billowed from the ship, engulfing everyone on deck. I dove into the water, hoping I could swim out to the Envoy and possibly rescue some of the passengers before they were all incinerated. When I was but a scant 100 feet from the ship, it exploded again, this time erupting into a ball of fire, leaving nothing but smoldering wreckage slowly sinking beneath the waves. I made my way back to the Nixie and stood on the deck, watching the flaming hull finally fall beneath the waves.

I received word the very next day from my employers' son, a charming young lad named Vanthus, that I was to be the new captain of the Nixie. I was to ready the ship to leave in a week for an extended journey. I took to the streets, looking for a crew, but none was to be found. The Vanderborens, and by extension their ship, was considered cursed; no one would help me crew my new command.

Unhappy at this development, I went to drown my sorrows in wine and women at one of the seedier taverns in Shadowshore. I drank, ate, and was merry; eventually taking a pair of fine young lasses up to my newly rented room. Their names were Rowyn and Brissa; one an artist, the other a noble. That was one wild night. The next morning, I awoke with a start, a rapier's blade at my throat. I looked down its length and there stood my employer, Vanthus Vanderboren. Turns out that he was involved with both of the young ladies with whom I'd so recently shared my bed. Needless to say, I was no longer Captain of the Blue Nixie.

I used my silver tongue to talk my way into a free stay at the Shipwright's Guildhall; my skill at shipbuilding not withstanding. Hours turned into days, and days into nearly a fortnight. After the tedium of hewing out rowboats for two weeks, I was pleasantly surprised to hear an old woman's voice calling out my name.

She introduced herself as Kora Whistlegap, the Vanderboren's house-halfling or somesuch nonsense. She handed me a letter and stood patiently in front of me, apparently awaiting a reply. Attached below is the actual letter; I've saved it this whole time.
"Greetings, and I trust this missive finds you in good health! My name is Lavinia Vanderboren, and I humbly request your attendance at a dinner at my estate on Festival Street and Blue Skink Lane. I think that I can present you with an opportunity uniquely suited to your skills. Please inform the carrier of this letter of your response to this invitation, and I hope to be speaking to you soon!" - Lavinia

I told Kora that I was interested in her mistress's invitation, gladly accepting. The halfling matron smiled broadly and headed off. She ducked her head back in to say that the meeting was tonight at sunset before hurrying off again. What a strange woman she was.

That night, I put on my best looking sailor's outfit, complete with long black oilskin jacket and tricorner hat. I walked to Vanderboren Manor, made my way through the gate, and knocked on the large double doors. Kora answered and beckoned me inside. The entry hall of the manorhouse was grand, large painting of exotic locales adorned the walls; though there was a conspicuous place where a painting apparently hung until recently. I followed Kora through to the dining hall, where a beautiful woman sat flanked by two gruff looking adventurer types. One, a dwarf whom I later learned was called Morak, carried an axe nearly as large as he was. The other, some sort of dragonman called Zarek, seemed to be on the defensive; even while sitting at a social dinner.

'Ah, Aratradeon, please, have a seat,' the lady said to me as she gestured towards a seat. I obliged, and she began to fill me in on events that had already transpired. She informed me that the Nixie had be impounded by the Harbormaster until back taxes were paid. Lavinia needed something from aboard the ship to get to her family's money, she she hired some adventurers to retrieve it. Morak, Zarek, and three of their friends had snuck aboard the Blue Nixie yesterday and retrieved a lost piece of jewelry. One of their friends, a gnome named Rezzo, had been killed by a large insectoid creature that'd been smuggled aboard the ship as a guard beast. The Crushers, as Morak informed me they were called, had been victorious that day, returning their prize to Lavinia. No sooner had they arrived, Lavinia had another misson for them; infiltrate the family's vault and secure the family fortune. They had done so admirably.

Now, Lavinia informed me, came the tricky part. In order to legally claim their family fortune (so as to not be a common criminal) she had to have a meeting with the Dawn Council. Problem was, both surviving members of the Vanderboren Family had to be present for the matter to be official. Vanthus, her older brother, was nowhere to be found. I smiled and chuckled quietly to myself when she mentioned his name. I quickly dismissed any suspicion by informing her that I had a good idea where Vanthus's usual hangouts were.

Before I go any further with this part of the story, I've got some things that need to be said. First off, I never knew my father; at least, not really. My mother always said he was a nobleman, but never did say which of the many of Sasserine's Noble Families he came from. This question had plagued me for some time, up until two months ago. My mother lay dying in her house while I was at sea, trying to make enough money to pay for her medicines and the like. As soon as the Nixie touched the dock, I sprinted to the apothecary to buy some herbal remedies and such. I sprinted to her house, but found myself to be too late. She lay dead in her bed, the rotting sickness finally exacting its toll. Clutched in her hands was a short note in shaky handwriting.

"Aratradeon, I love you. I know you did all you could to save me, but it wasn't enough. I'm sorry that I never told you who your father was. The truth is, I'm not sure myself. I had two regular clients at around the time you were conceived; Verik Vanderboren and Keltar Islaran. I hope you find some solace in this knowledge."

I cried for a long time that night. I spent the next months saving up enough money for a diviner; so that I might know which of the two men was my father. Finally, I found my answer. It turns out that Vanthus wasn't the oldest of the Vanderboren children anymore.

I kept this information from everyone for some time. When I finally told Lavinia, she thought I was only after her money. I reminded her that I had, until recently, had access to every copper piece in her family vault, and I didn't take any of it. She still doesn't trust me, and probably trusts me even less after I crashed half her expedition on a reef. Oh well, we'll see how that pans out.

Meanwhile, after a meal, I told my new friends that I'd hit the town in search of any clues regarding Vanthus and would meet up with them outside the Arena in the morning. Apparently, both of these men lived there; I was unaware they let people sleep in the stands, but I digress.

After many hours of searching, I found a street urchin would said he'd seen Vanthus and a man named Penkus rowing a boat out towards Parrot Island. The boy said he'd come with us to show us which way the two had gone. I told him where to meet us, and then I went off to procure a rowboat.

It turns out the rowboats cost money, but nothing that a well placed threat of violence can't help solve. I got the boat for a gold, less than a 10th the asking price. I hid the boat under a dock and slept until dawn. I headed over to the arena, picked up Morak, Zarek, and the urchin. The four of us headed to Parrot Island.

The beach proved more hazardous than I'd anticipated; giant crabs and lobstrocities attacked us several times before we reached safety. Finally, we reached a clearing where a poorly hidden hatch was found. Morak lifted the heavy stone and headed down into the darkness. Zarek followed, and I followed them. My ears perked up as I heard the rope come loose and fall into a pile on the ground. Seconds later I heard the sound of flesh and bone being cut. The body of our guide fell to the ground with an unceremonious *thunk*. Looking up, I saw the face of Vanthus staring down at us.

'Serves you right for helping my whore of a sister! Say hi to Penkus's ghost for me while you're down there,' he cried down to us.

'Your girlfriends give terrible coif,' I called back, mockingly.

He replied by slamming the hatch closed, trapping us in the dark.

Then, the disconcerting moaning started in the distance, shambling slowly towards us.

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-TRRW
 
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wolff96

First Post
I agree; you're off to a good start. I like the journal format, though I might be biased since my characters tend to keep them as well. :)
 

theredrobedwizard

First Post
Chapter Two: Gnashing of Teeth, Biting of Dwarves

Trapped as we were in the dank and cold cavern, we tried to take stock of our situation. Between the three of us, we had enough food to keep all of us alive for three days; or myself alive for five (I account for this disparity mostly due to the fact that Morak and Zarek eat like trained armadons). I thought it best to keep my two colleagues alive, because who knows what kind of awful monstrosities lay in the darkness ahead.

As if on cue, another baleful moan echoed through the halls. Morak expressed his concern, which was promptly ignored by Zarek who started casually walking towards the source of the noise. Rounding several corners, we eventually came upon a set of heavy wooden doors. A few shoulder bashes and they came open. Standing on the other side of the barrier were a pair of rotting corpses.

Unlike most corpses, however, these two seemed to be quite mobile. Their bloated and soaking bodies sloshed and shambled towards us with surprising speed. Their mouths opened much wider than would be expected, revealing rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth. I readied my bastard sword and stood ready. Zarek drew his flail and tower shield, ready to impose himself between the enemy and his allies. Morak, doing the only thing he knew, drew his greataxe and leapt over the quite confused dragonman.

After not more than half a minute, it was all over. Zarek and I were unharmed. Morak wasn't so lucky. Several large bites marred his skin, one seemed to have ripped out a small portion of the poor dwarf's throat. It was then I learned of Zarek's healing powers. Simply by standing near his fallen comrade, he could inspire the fallen dwarf to heal much faster than normal. Within a minute, Morak was back in something resembling fighting shape, and the three of us soldiered on.

The only exit to the zombie chamber led to a large cavern. Inside, we saw several more bloated bodies. Careful not to get within reach of them, Zarek used his halberd to carve their heads from their bodies. I examined the now headless corpses, my magical eyesight scanning for anything worthwhile to scavenge. Inside the gullet of one of the bloated ones, I found a glowing ring. Well, it was glowing to me, at least. I cleaned it off, handed it to Zarek, and off we went.

The moaning started again, this time, coming from behind a set of heavy wooden doors shod with iron bands. A rasping voice accompanied the moaning, which only added to our fearful state.

'Come to me,' the voice said, 'my children are hungry for your sweet organs.'

We debated for several minutes about the best course of action. I seemed to be relegated to a decidedly non-combat role, apparently due to my poor performance during the last melee. I was to hold the groups' healing potions in case one of the others were to fall during combat. Feeling rather silly just standing there, holding a potion in each hand, I made an executive decision. Reaching into my pack, I replaced one potion with an alchemical Tanglefoot bag, the other with a Thunderstone. My reasoning being, anything commanding zombies is probably a spellcaster; which means they need to hear and they're usually pretty bad at avoiding goo.

I signaled my readiness to my allies, and Morak kicked the door in with reckless abandon. For a moment, I thought I saw a rim of foam between his lips, but at the time I figured it was just the odd light of the cavern. The two of them charged through the door and met our adversaries.

In addition to four more of those bloated zombies, there stood a skeleton in chainmail. Around his neck was a holy symbol (which I later determined to belong to the Church of the Laughing Rogue), which pulsed with a strange black and silver light. He gestured with his bony fingers at us, the gathered masses of zombies lurched towards us in unison.

Zarek struck first, his halberd hacking his target into pieces. Morak hit next, his axe cleaving through two of the zombified pirates. The final zombie latched on to Morak, its teeth chewing into his tough dwarven skin. I swear, for being such a burly person, he sure does bleed a lot. The priest-skeleton-thing raised a hand, its holy symbol glowing brighter, causing blackened energy to form a protective barrier around it. I finally found my opening, heaving the Tanglefoot bag at the unsuspecting skeleton.

'What is this? Some sort of sorcery?' the skeleton screamed, his feet rooted firmly to the ground.

I laughed to myself. I stood watch while Morak and Zarek made short work of the remaining zombie. The skeleton began the workings of a spell, but Zarek's clever placement made sure to distract the priest enough that his spell wouldn't take. Morak brought his axe down on the skeleton's head, splintering through its unusually tough bones. It fell into dust, finally dead. I picked up the skeleton's holy symbol, putting it in my pack. You never know when you'll need the holy symbol of an undead rogue cleric for a spell component or to help solve a riddle or something.

Searching again for some way out, we eventually found our way to a large tidepool. I swam across, taking care to avoid the mass of sea urchins just beneath the waves. Reaching the other side, I found a heavy stone door; one which I was too weak to budge. I swam back and helped my friends to swim across. Neither of them seemed very likely to survive this ordeal without my help, so I took solace in my place as their hero; even if they didn't see it as such.

Morak made short work of the door, breaking it from its hinges. Inside, the stench was unbearable. Sitting upright against the back wall was another bloated and soaked body. This one, it seemed, had not been animated as the rest; it looked to have been forgotten for some time now. When Zarek got close, the things eyes seemed to light up. A brilliant white light shone out of them, casting beams of brightness towards us. A gurgling voice escaped the body's blue and white lips.

'This sack of flesh once be Penkus,' the corpse spoke, its voice the sound of a drowning man trying to cry for help, 'Laid low by the sick those foul dead things carry in their bite. Twas not the dead that brought my doom, twas one who I til recently called friend. Vanthus Vanderboren! I curse ye, coward. Leaving me to die after all I did for you to get you into the guild. The taxidermists aren't an easy group to make merry with, and I'll be damned if I didn't make sure they made right by you. I hope you and your sallies get struck with the same plague what brought me down. Curse you and your whole line, Vanderboren. Know that I wait for you in hell, and you'll be begging for the pit when I'm through with you.'

With that, the flesh sluiced off the body and into a puddle. A careful search of the area revealed a movable brick, which opened up a hidden door. On the other side were a trio of treasure chests, each locked with an ancient (but still working) master lock. Try as we might, none of us had the requisite skill to pick them open. Rather than wait, Morak smashed the lids off, revealing their bounty. Silver and copper coins, enough to keep us in prostitutes and pancakes for a good many months at least. I scanned the chest with my arcane sight, revealing a wand and a small brown piece of dirt to be composed of magic. I took them as my share of the treasure, leaving the two armsmen to fight over the coins.

The worst of our problems still ahead, Zarek brought to my attention that the tidepool we passed had to have some kind of underwater passage to allow water to flow in and out. Why didn't I think of that? Either way, I dove in and searched. I forgot to warn my fellows of my aptitude for swimming (and completely forgot to tell them that I could, in fact, breathe water). When I'd been gone for a good 10 minutes, they began to cry out for me and start sloshing towards my last known location. I surfaced quickly to find out what the commotion was about.

Noticing their confused expressions, I decided to explain my situation to them. I told them I was one of the Chosen of Sashelas, the elven god of the seas. He had blessed my family with the ability to breath underwater as well as swim better than most fish. He had also granted me the arcane sight I'd used to detect the magic in the ring we'd found earlier.

Most of that, however, was an outright lie. I can breathe water and swim well because of my demonic blood; another thing that I'd learned which researching my heritage. Apparently, somewhere in my lineage, someone made a pact with a demon. The price was that one of his descendants would be cursed with demonic powers. Turns out, I'm that cursed one.

Before you ask, I'm not evil. I don't worship demons. I just happen to draw power from them. Also, I can suck the life force (or soul, or spirit; I'm not really sure which) out of opponents. I'd chosen not to reveal this fact to my companions at this point; they'd learn the real truth soon enough.

I resumed my search, and after another few minutes, found a passage. I helped the two of them back across the waterway so that they could make their way to the place we started; underneath the trap door. Afterwards, I swam down the passage. It took me a good minute and a half to swim totally through its twisting, tight turns. Finally, I reached the ocean. I surfaced, and surprisingly enough, I was only 40 feet from the beach we'd landed. Though, our boat was conspicuously absent. Damnable Vanthus, stealing my boat.

I made my way up shore, back to the trap door. It took me a bit, but I finally pried it open. Being weak is an annoyance in my line of work. I threw down a rope, and my two companions slowly made their way back out. We moved down to the beach and waited until we saw a passing boat. We made a ruckus until they came and picked us up. I paid them well for their time, and we found ourselves on the pier in the Champion's District.

I suggested that we take the rest of the day off, then resume the search for Vanthus in the morning. My two friends agreed, and I offered to buy them some drinks at a nearby tavern. After a few drinks, my allies were relaxed enough that I figured I could let them in on my secret. I told them about my demonic heritage, about the powers I possessed, and that I was Lavinia's half-brother. I figured that telling them the truth now would make things much easier later.

Morak was confused at my honesty. Zarek was a bit taken aback. He was a crusader for justice and righteousness in the world. He was also consorting with a demon blooded pirate. It was going to take a few more drinks for him to start to accept me. I hadn't touched my drink at that point, luckily for me, I guess. The door to the tavern burst open, and two men wielding hand crossbows leveled them at our table. I stood in front of Morak and Zarek, knowing full well that they were too drunk to fight effectively.

The assassins, or at least that's what I assumed them to be, let fly their crossbow bolts. One stuck me in the shoulder, the other just left of my airway. I stood, bolts deep in my flesh. I looked down, and then looked back at the assassins. I grabbed the bolt that nearly pierced my throat, pulling the offending weapon from my body. I threw the bolt down and smiled at my attackers. The hole in my throat had already healed over, leaving only a superficial scratch.

'That the best you got, losers,' I asked, holding my hand out at them. A white-hot mark appeared on my palm; a glowing, burning, symbol. The symbol of my demonic progenitor. The assassin who'd shot me in the throat stopped in his tracks. He looked down and saw his shadow slowly being sucked into the symbol on my flesh. Seconds later, his eyes went blank, and he dropped to a heap on the ground.

The patrons and staff got up from their seats and began to flee in terror. The remaining assassin followed suit.

So did my friends.

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-TRRW
 

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