Balance

Home Coming

9th of Harvester 383ONT, 11:41pm, The Accidental Pudding Inn, Common Room, High Port, Elven Court

Please Listen While Reading

Most of the crew was still awake. The injured had found a peaceful sleep, but the remainder of them sat, absorbing the company of one another. Mandy and Taaj had at last come down and found a booth in the corner to snuggle in as a cheery fire crackled. While most of the crew held a drink, few drank; instead it was like a pass, a card that allowed them to stay up and feel connected with one another. Valeria had at last put down the lute, and there was a familiar silence among those assembled. The door opened with Rick poked his head in.

“Couple guests Captain” he called, causing many a crew member to look up. The hour was late and the Captain had been clear long ago that he didn’t wish to see anymore City officials until the morrow.

“No more tonight Rick, this is a place for family only right now” He called back still nursing his glass of wine at his table with Teagan, Flit and Aurellia

“Family only?” A familiar voice called from outside. It sounded hurt but had a light-hearted mocking tone to it. Through the door came a short figure, with a green and brown mottled cloak and a familiar long bow strung and over his shoulder. Behind him came the tall blond figure, his golden shield and breast plate gleaming in the lantern light of the Inn’s common room.

“I say Horace, have you ever seen such a sorry group of sailors?” Rand asked of his companion, his tone still mocking

“I don’t believe I have, perhaps we should fine a more hospital able in down the way?” The Oak Leaf Knight replied, in the same conspiratorial tone.

“HORACE!” Aurelia cried breaking the spell and diving from her seat across the room to give the giant knight a hug. The rest of the crew began to call out in recognition and joy at the famed knights and the Rangers arrival. “What are you doing here?” she asked squeezing the Honalian in a hug so tight is showed some small fear that he might disappear. Ouuffffff he gasped at her bear hug, laughing along with her. When he could at last extract himself he picked her up and looked at her in the lantern light.

“Aurelia, I can honestly say… It’s good to see you” he said with heart melting sincerity. She hugged him again, the two distant souls still sharing some connection.

“Rand, Horace… you two are a sight for sore eyes” Thalion said crossing the room and offering each a hearty handshake, his smile ran ear to ear “What are you doing here?”

“Well,” Horace offered, putting Aurelia down and shaking hands with the other officers “we were in the south on business, and received a message about an important knighting happening in a few days. We couldn’t miss it, so we caught a ride and came at once” Horace said

“Just pulled in now” Rand added, in the sea of his own back pats and hand shakes, “Took a little asking to track you fine folks here”

“Just arrived now? What ship arrives mid-tide into a port under heavy alert?” Flit asked walking forward and offering a hearty greeting to each of the Honalians. As he said the words the door opened

“Thar better be a fine ale served in this inn, else I’m gonna be sorely disappointed in the Elf’s taste” came a roar as Thitmed barged into the room. To this a hearty cheer rang out, but it did not stop there. Hatrutt came in hot on his heels, laden under a heavy pot steaming with some delicious new concoction.

“Hikari better have the stoves lit, my fesadini is cooling fast, and we need to make the base for the pudding” the gnome called, he wasn’t three steps in before the pot was taken from him by Hugh allowing Hikari to lift the gnome up and pull him into a hug. The half elf was laughing and crying as still more poured into the room. The sound of a baby crying alerted the assembled to the presence of Belinda, and her and Thitmed’s newest addition to the crew of the Champions Boot. The halfling quartermaster was pulled into the room, and near mobbed with hugs and congratulations as the crew began to coo at her baby. Robinson, Celia, Beleen and even Baker made there way in, each receiving a cheer that rivaled old Thors thunder.

Already Devedan could see where this was going, he graciously allowed the gnome and half elf access to his kitchen and began pouring mugs of ale while is son Dakath ran down to the cellar to fetch a few more bottles of wine. The room was crowding out fast, and the volume increased growing in crescendo like waves crashing upon a shore.

Ding, Ding, Da, Da, Ding

The notes plucked from the lute brought the room to silence. No one had seenCaptain Folas Cailana enter the room, but there he stood, back against the wall beside the fire place, plucking at the strings of the Lute of Quiphine

“Captain!” they shouted in excitement, many of the cries coming from the officers, even the Captain of the Champion’s Fist

“The moon has several rings tonight, and Quenya and Nimrodel could not be parted no matter how the tiller veered. It is a night that called for family, and ours seems to be here” Captain Folas sang the words as he plucked the lute. In seconds however, he had to stop as he was surrounded by officers and crew alike swarming him with hugs, handshakes and thanks.

“This be a good night, now, as I be understandin it, there are a number of chaps who are needin thar health drank to…” Thitmed called slamming a pouch heavy with gold on the bar and passing out the foaming mugs, as the reunion began in true.

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BROken Gears

9th of Harvester 383ONT, 9:58pm, The Accidental Pudding Inn, Mandy’s Room, High Port, Elven Court

Taaj knocked on the Door of Mandy’s room at the Accidental Pudding Inn.

“come” he heard her voice call from inside, he entered, and grinned despite himself. Mandy had a thick blanket over the bed and the lion share of her tools laid out across it. There was a momentary pang of sadness for his love as he noted the pile of burnt or destroyed tools on the floor, the few on the bed marked all that had survived the great fire. Despite this she was already back to work; stooped looking into the chest cavity of Broseph a lantern in one hand and a metal tong prodding with the other trying to figure out how she would go about fixing the poor clockwork creature.

“You really ought to have your door locked, things aren’t safe right now” Taaj scolded as he entered. Mandy didn’t even look up at him.

“For someone to enter my room they will have had to fight through you, Aurelia and the rest of the crew downstairs… if they are still spoiling for a fight after that, I’m pretty sure my door being locked isn’t going to stop them” She said. Taaj paused, he hated when she out logic’d him on things like this

“Still though… it’s probably a good habit to be in” Taaj mumbled but she was giggling now

“I have defeated Flit Fargazer, the Goddess Miriel and Captain Alfrin, famed Knight of Quenya, but alas, this tiny wooden bolt has defeated me. I shall now go home in shame, sparing whoever was so smart to latch this poor excuse for a door” she laughed as she made a deep voice of some fake assailant

“OK, ok” Taaj said putting his hands up in surrender “I’m just a little nervous with what happened, that’s all” She looked at him putting down her tool and lantern and crossed the room to hug him.

“I know, but if I don’t laugh now, I might cry… sorry” she said. He looked down still holding her in his arms

“You’ve nothing to be sorry for” He said with a grin “Now… how’s our friend Broseph? Any hope for him? Maddax is eager to know if he can be added to the watch rotation” Mandy nodded at Taaj and went back to the bed to collect her tongs.

“Grab the lantern” she said as she leaned in to the chest cavity once more. Taaj did as he was bade, holding the lantern high so he could see over her shoulder. “Whoever did this knows their stuff… all this…” she pointed to a thick black stone that seemed to clog the gears “was sprayed in as a liquid, then immediately turned solid and shut his entire system down… I’d be impressed if he hadn’t done it to one of our friends”

“Can you fix him?” Taaj asked, she gave him a look, reminding him that their was nothing she couldn’t fix if she put the time and resources in.

“I think so…” she said looking back at the gears “Cassidy thinks he can make up a solvent that I can use, if we are carefully we can break down the substance without eroding any of his gears… if the Captain lets me, I think I could get it done by tomorrow night” she replied

“Sounds good… I’ll speak to the Captain… I think having our clockwork back is a priority” Mandy turned and nodded

“Besides, he’s a part of the crew, he should be taken care of right away, like we would for anyone else” Mandy said. Taaj merely nodded, he was not going to wade into those waters again.

“I’ll talk to the Captain… please lock your door” she gave him a look as he was leaving “For me?”

“Fine… night” she said

“night”

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Why oh Why Can't I

9th of Harvester 383ONT, 9:46pm, The Accidental Pudding Inn, Port District, High Port, Elven Court

Willhym entered the common room of the Accidental Pudding his heart was heavy as he held the ashen husk of what was once the Lute of Quiphine. His head was bowed, he knew how much this gift had meant to the Master Carpenter, had seen how she treasured it after Captain Folas had gifted it to her for her Birthday, and now it was all but destroyed. He numbly took a few steps towards the stairs, when he found his approach cut off by Hikari and Valeria.

“What’s wrong Willhym” Hikari asked, there was a sharp intake of breath as she recognized the Lute. Willhym shook his head,

“Her workshop was right under the part of the cannon deck that exploded, the fire dripped in there and with all the grease and such… most of the room is pretty fried, a lot of her tools and most of her things were in there… and well… this was hanging above her work bench” he sniffled a little, further wounding Hikari’s heart, Willhym wasn’t often the type to show vulnerability

“Is that a Sung Lute?” Valeria asked in awe as she looked down at it.

“It is,” Hikari offered “The strings were made from Chimera gut, and the wood itself was sung into shape before the 2nd Talib Wars” Valeria let out a long low whistle as she leaned in closer

“May I?” she asked of Willhym holding out her hands. The Halfling looked at her and shrugged passing the charred lute. She carefully took it from him and closely examined the instrument. “You say Captain Folas gave this to Mandy?” she asked as she eyed the darkened strings

“He did, as a birthday present” Hikari responded. Valeria nodded

“A Kingly gift this is. Did you know that Sung Lutes, are fed through emotion, they can tap into the emotions they elicit in a room… would you mind if I play a few chords?” Hikari and Willhym both gave her odd looks

“ I don’t know if those strings are going to hold honey” Hikari said

“Or if they do, what kind of noise that will make” Willhym added. She gave them both a a cocksure grin and she turned and walked towards the bar

“You have to have some faith my friends” she said as she struck the first chord, it was heavy and off key, but it did not give her pause “Suli, come over here… I need your vocals, the song we practiced”

Please Listen While Reading

Valeria’s graceful elven fingers danced delicately up and down the frets, forcing the clunky lute to produce some semblance of a melody. As she did she watched as little Suli hopped up onto the bar and began humming trying to harmonize with the off Lute. It took a few chords, but when at last the vocals and strings hit a harmony there was a surge of power on the little lute, and some of the ash fell away revealing beautiful on scared wood below.

“Take it Suli,” Valeria encouraged as the girl began to sing. The mood in the bar shifted, it had been a hard day, a long day, but the music pulled the crew from their ales, from their misery and caused them to reach out and know that things would get better. As the Lute and the Vocals did better, the Lute began to reshape, began to fix itself and reform into the once more beautiful Lute of Quiphine. “Come on guys, you know the words, sing along” She called out, nudged with her foot at Hikari to come join them. She did, followed by Nathan, and then the horribly amazing off key vocals of Cassidy which seemed to be the last nudge needed to bring the rest of those assembled to join them as they sang together.

Across the room Captain Alfrin leaned against the wall watching the dynamic beside his First Mate. He was impressed, moments ago there was a depression that hung over the room, and though the sadness wasn’t gone, it no longer felt like they were about to drown in it.

“She’s got a talent for moral Captain” Flit noted as the crew belted out the chorus together.

“That she does Flit… This marks it I suppose, give Valeria a commission as ships Bard, make her formally a member of the crew” Flit looked over at his Captain to assure the elf was being serious, he saw no jest in his eyes

“Aye Sir” Flit said, moving to step forward

“Flit…” The Captain called after him. The Froghemoth turned and looked at him

“After the songs done” The Captain said with a wry grin

“Aye Captain” Flit said, returning the smile and turning back to watch Valeria Mistborn’s performance.

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A Mad Man's Dance

9th of Harvester 383ONT, 9:45pm, Somewhere the Party is too Dense to Find, High Port, Elven Court.

Please Listen While Reading

Aled danced through the shop, picking up vials and containers, spinning with them and carefully placing them on another table or shelf. His heart was light, this was what it was like to experience glee. His hand slid up and down his fine silken purple shirt as he thrust himself into his imaginary dance partner. He could not contain himself, he carefully flicked his waxed mustachio as part of his dance as he contemplated what was next. This had been meant to be a test mission, a careful skirmish to test the waters and see if the rumors about the Champions Fist was true.

“HA” he barked to know one in particular thinking about the glory of his victory. The ship, the glory and pride of Captain Alfrin was all but trashed, even now being dragged up into dry dock as a massive pile of smouldering ciders. Beyond that, if his sources were right, there were at least three dead… three on a test cycle, what awesome luck. He took a thick gel from a small tin container and ran it through his luscious black hair as he continued his dance. It wouldn’t be long now… a few adjustments, a few tweaks and then they would all pay. The fireproofing had worked well, but the men would need better armor for dealing with the pesky officers. They were the ones that carried the ship, the guard, the crew… they were weak; but he would have to be careful with the officers now. He spun his way to a little alchemy set bubbling over a burner by the wall and turned the heat up a little. He would bring about a final strike soon, something incredibly decisive, something that would show those officers what the consequences were for crossing a man of intellect and taste. Then he would saunter up and claim his prize. He spun again as he thought about Callwen, his wife. About owning her, about subduing her once more. Just thinking about her made his temperature rise, made him lose a beat on his dance. How dare she flee, pull him away from his important work and discoveries and force him to chase her half way around the world. The bitch would learn… oh she would learn a lesson when he claimed her at last! “She’ll never dare leave a room without my permission.” He said to the empty room. He paused, forcing himself to take a few calming breath’s and bring his mind back to the present. Tonight had been a victory, he’d taken the leader of the famed Grey Corsairs and made him look like a sniveling stooge, he brought that ship to sunder, and he’d done it on a test run… things were good, it was important to savour and recognize victory when it happened. He jostled once last time finishing his victory dance. He then straightened his vest and shirt, fixed his ascot and walked over to his tiny lab. Now, there was work to be done, traps to be laid; and a wife to reclaim. Everything was coming up Aled.

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A job never done

9th of Harvester 383ONT, 9:34pm, The Accidental Pudding Inn, Port District, High Port, Elven Court.

I tried to focus on the hearty stew in front of me pretending I couldn’t hear Maddax’s tirade to Douglas.

I was pretty obvious to me that Maddax was reliving his own choices from back when his patrol was captured. It was sad, I could picture Maddax in his youth, confident slightly arrogant and a little bit rebellious. The one time he thought he knew better he was punished far worse than anyone deserved and he had been punishing himself ever since.

“He can’t do that!” Teagan jumped to her feet beside me.

“Hush,” I tugged her back down. “The captain of our guard absolutely has full rights to who is in the guard.”

“But Douglas is family! There is a madman trying to picking us off. I won’t allow Douglas to be alone out there!”

“Of course not, Maddax has had a bad shake. We all have, you will not undermine his authority in front of the crew. I’ll go talk to him. In the meantime, we’re short a swab, if Douglas’s pride will allow he can hold that position. He’ll be with the crew, have room and board, it will give Maddax a chance to calm down and Douglas a chance to prove himself worthy of a second chance.

She sighed heavily, “You’d best speak with him now. I’m going to get Douglas.” She marched to the door.

I shoved the stew away suddenly not hungry anymore. How do you explain to your best friend that his issues where spilling over into his work?

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Intel of the Dragon

Thalion sat down with his officers to look over the intelligence report Erindale had sent him, as he read it he wondered if they were perhaps in over their heads.

Aurumtec, The Red Wyrm, The Killing Fire, Rash Ziril (Dwarven), Vere Mors

Former Sub Chancellor for the Council of Wyrms, Former Executionier for Council or Wyrms. Bearer of Thelador during the Mage Rant Wars, Former Keeper of the Obsidian Orb. Slayer of Speaker Kanantha, brought over 8000 elven warrior to their early deaths. Melted the Original Dwarf Gate and ended the first line of Thanes.

The Area
- The Area is in a rocky cliff laden section of the Elven Court, formally used for mining
- There are three nearby villages

o Haen Asari
 Mainly occupied by halflings and is mostly a berry farming location
 Nestled on the edge of Lake Asari,
 probably a two day flight by eagle to his layer
 people are like to be helpful of a Knight of Quenya
 known to have several small shrines,
 is the smallest of the towns
 Steward Bernard Elvellon administers the town

o Larenqua
 Elvish mining town
 Equal parts Halfling and elf
 Maybe a day’s flight to his layer
 Will be helpful,
 No major water features near them (springs and wells mostly)
 Known to have a small church to Arazul
 Aldermen Selathit Tormys is in charge of the town

o Anyfa Belanore
 On the Belanore River
 Mostly Elvish town
 Two days flight from the Lair
 The still pay tribute to the Dragon and are like to warn the dragon of your presence, recommend avoiding them
 They are the largest of the towns, likely to have at least two arcane casters and known to have two fair sized churches
 Warden Folre Gengwyn is in charge of town

- Recommend landing your ship near Tree Fall and flying to Haen Asari (two days flight) Then flying to Larenqua doing a final resupply and then heading in.

His Layer
- Aurumtec made his layer in the crags or the northern elven court, deep in a cave he had shifted the plates and created a small magma flow where he rests and sleeps.
- The cave system and crags were former magnesium mines, which rest precariously above and around his bed.
- He was known to have several fire elemental servants who work as his guards and eyes while he sleeps. They have likely trapped many of the approaches to his layer.
- The area is specifically designed to have difficult approaches on foot, no way to get wagons or carts in.
- Any geographical spacing’s large enough for an aerial approach would be easily spotted by the Wyrm and guards days in advance and due to the ground approached weaving in and out of caves, would not able to support ground crews.
- It is said that many of the caves in the area vent methane and other noxious gases dangerous to most demi humans
The Dragon
- He is Strong, stronger than many of his kind. Remember he was an executioner for the Council of Wyrms, he has experience in aerial combat and the ability to kill other dissident dragons
- He is smart, and twisted, he sees elves as cattle, other demi humans as worse, you will have to display massive keen intellect to even cause him to recognise you as something beyond food. You will need to maintain that if you expect him to actually treat with you.
- His fire can harm even creatures who normally live in fire
- He is not known to be a skilled caster among dragons, but don’t let that fool you, he has forgotten more about magic than many elves deem to learn, and is able to caste a number of powerful spells at will.
- He is certainly knowledgeable of the weave, I have heard evidence of his fascination with Bogna, he may try to employ it against you, this is part of why you were chosen for this mission.
- His domination powers are very strong, be wary of spies and your allies, he may be able to dominate members of your group and turn them against you, be prepared for this.
- He has slept soundly since before the Devil Demon Aberrant War. Long ago I constructed a magical damn that made a mist that helped lull him and keep him asleep, the flood broke the damn and drenched him awake… I do not have the resources to build another damn any time soon.
- With his long sleep, he will be knew to the ways of cannons and guns, or at least not have seen their like before.
- He lies, and is known to lie often, breaking his word to an elf will mean nothing to him, be wary of that.
- He has long ago enchanted his claws with powerful blades, two of his teeth have been replaced with mithril spikes
- If he learns who you are, you can assume he will research you and prepare accordingly.
- His Hide is Powerful, if your weapon is less than a +4 it will have lesser effects.

Tactical Suggestions
- He is an excellent flyer, best to take him on the ground… in cramped caves if you can
- He knows his environment and surroundings, he will use them to his advantage
- Trust each other, he will try to turn you against each other
- Prolonged exposure to his breath weapon can cause even magical items to melt… melting magic can cause catastrophic consequences… be wary of this
- I have started spreading rumors of weaknesses you do not have in hopes of confusing his spies should he research you.

What I can lend for this mission
- The speed of which this mission must happen prevents me from making items for you, you will have to subsist on items already available within the tower.
- 20 arrows of Dragon Slaying
- 6 bullets of Dragon Slaying
- 1 Heavy Crossbow Bolt of Greater Dragon Slaying
- 7 amulets of Fire Absorption (300 points each)
- 1 4 Shortbow
- 1 +4 Thundering Longbow
- 25 Durable Arrows
- 6 Tracer Bullets
- 15 Darkness Arrows
- 2 Grave Marker Arrows
- 20 Greater Hushing Arrows
- 10 Hushing Bolts
- 5 Greater Bolder Bullets
- 8 Phase Arrows (
3)
- +4 Adamantium Tipped Eagle War Lance
- Dragoncatch Guisarme
- +4 Great Frost-Thunder Hammer
- +4 Starbow
- Gun with No Name
- 2 Potions of Fly
- 5 Potions of Jump
- 8 Potions of Bull Strength
- 4 Potions of Bears Endurance
- 2 Potions of Lesser Restoration
- 20 Cure Light Wounds Potions
- 15 Cure Moderate Wound Potions
- 5 Cure Serious Wound Potions
- 1 Heal Potion
- Eight Battle Trained Griffins, Barding of Fire Resistance 10 on each
Please let me know which of these items you wish to take

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Embers are Hot pt 2

9th of Harvester 383ONT, 923pm, The Accidental Pudding Inn, Port District, High Port, Elven Court.

“I Didn’t mean to, I’m sorry… I thought…” Douglas stammered under Maddax’s interrogation

.

“You thought? You Thought! No one pays you to think Douglas, you see four intruders come on our ship and you abandon your post to save a single crew member” The Goblin stood on his bench leaning over the small table in the corner of the Accidental Pudding. They had thought a table would be discreet enough, but the story being received from one of his guards was infuriating. . “She was in trouble… she’d told me some of the troubles with her ex-husband… Aled… he’s been tracking her across Argyle. I saw that the Master Gunner and the Bosun were facing off with them, I figured I would get her to safety then come back and support… I didn’t think th…” again Douglas was cut off . “No, you didn’t think… and three people are dead because of it. I’m going to ask you a few questions, please answer them as best you can… when there is an intruder on the ship what do you do?” Maddax’s words were an icy whisper that gave Douglas the chills. He ran his hand over his bald head before responding

.

“Well, this was a different situation… I knew who they were after and…” . “WHEN THERE IS AN INTRUDER ON THE SHIP DOUGLAS… WHAT DO YOU DO?” The Goblin forced the words out with as little venom as he could manage… he saw the man’s shoulders slump . “Raise the Alarm, Secure the Captain, Engage and/or detain the Enemy while the Officers arrange the crew” Maddax stared at him for a long moment

.

“Did you follow the protocol?”

.

“Come on Mr. Maddax… I said this was different, the Bosun and the Master Gunner were already there… I said I was sorry…” . “You’re sorry? YOU’RE SORRY! COME HERE… RIGHT NOW!” He jumped from the table and stormed across the common room, Douglas hurried to follow him. Maddax marched down the hall and pushed open to the Med Ward, where three wrapped hammocks lay near the door. “I figured we could come on in here so we can tell Sara that you’re sorry, I’m sure that will make everything ok” Maddax cursed at the human.

.

“Come on Maddax, that’s not fair” the Boulder Josiah said having heard the last of the exchange and turning from Talathan’s bed. Maddax fixed the Boulder with a deadly stare before continueing

.

“Let’s ask George how fair is it? Let’s ask him if he accepts your apology for not doing your GODS BE DAMNED JOB!” The goblin said fury in his voice “What about Jonus? Do you think he’s ok with your apology?” The big man said nothing in return, he merely stared at the three wrapped corpse’s lip shuddering but refusing to cry.

.

“I didn’t want anyone to get hurt” was all Douglas could muster. The Goblins yellow eyes flared at this, he turned to point to the beds but the Boulder stepped in

.

“No… you’ve made your point, and I have patients who need their rest…if this must continue, take it somewhere else” the Cleric was implacable in his stature and the Goblin at last gave him a firm nod opening the door and leaving with Douglas. They only made it a few steps into the hall before the Goblin turned back to face him. This time his face was a little softer

.

“I don’t think you acted with malice Douglas, but you did break protocol, and you left your post… I can’t have someone like that on the Guard, when we make mistakes, people die.”

.

“What am I supposed to do? Where am I gonna go… this was the bestest job I ever had” Douglas asked, at last tears running from his eyes. Maddax met the look, but did not flinch back

.

“I don’t know Douglas, you can come back tomorrow and collect the last of your wages and things from Bronwyn, but today I need you to turn in your magic shield and leave, your time with the Guard on the Champions Fist is over” Maddax said holding out his hands. The big man took the shield strapped to his shoulder and turned it over to Maddax, he then took a shuddering sigh as they went back to the common room and collected his trunk of things, from here Maddax walked him to the door and escorted him out into the night.
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Embers are Hot Pt 1

9th of Harvester 383ONT, 923pm, The Accidental Pudding Inn, Port District, High Port, Elven Court.

Thalion dropped a hefty pouch of gold into the hands of Devedan Venris. Owner and operator of the Inn and Tavern known as the Accidental Pudding. The building was two stories, had about thirty rooms a large common area, a private dining area in the back and an attached stable. Thalion was taking no chances, he opted to rent the entire inn. Only his people would be permitted to come and go, that way he could assure their safety. He had pulled several low ranking Grey Corsairs and assigned a round the clock four man watch on the Tavern, and a round the clock six man watch on his Ship. That might ease the strain on Maddax and his crew while they tried to figure out what was going on.

“That should cover the next ten days easily.” Thalion said to the man “My Guard Captain may have some hoops for you to jump through, we’re a little skittish right now, so there is some extra for your troubles as well” The Knight said to the Inn Keep.

“Of Course Captain, it is my pleasure to be of aid. My wife and I run two other Inn’s, she has agreed to watch the other two so I can devote my full attention to you. Your Squire has already asked me about my employees, as I mentioned to him Dakath, is my son, and the primary chef here, he takes care of the afternoon and evening meals. His apprentice Delaney, a wonderful Halfling women, takes care of the morning meals. Outside of that I have three other staff Kathrine, Tara and Clovis, all halflings, all have worked for me for over six years. I will personally introduce each to your guards to assure there are no issues. It is our honour to step forward and aid the Grey Corsairs and the Knights of Quenya in their hour of need, anything at all we can do to be of service please let me know”

“Thank you Master Venris, your willingness to accommodate will not be forgotten” The Captain said excusing himself and turning back to see how his crew were settling in. A stream of them were coming and going, they were only three blocks from the ship, carrying their trunks and packs with their needed personal belongings as the Inn Keeps assistant Tara directed them to the various rooms they had been assigned. He knew the rooms were well in hand. Maddax and Hikari had both personally inspected each one, examined windows that backed into the ally, assured proper locks were in place, or in some cases nailed them shut… there would be no surprises here. He moved past them and down the hall to the private dining room, or the Med Ward had he had come to think of it.

To the side, wrapped in their hammocks were the bodies of George, Sara and Josiah. The Boulder had said he would memorize spells for the morrow, ones to speak with the dead, and see if they wished to be brought back, and to which deity they prayed. Further into the room her assessed the wounded, the ones that the Boulder had not been able to immediately cure, Ku-Aya rested comfortably, most his back and arms coated in a thick salve that Cassidy had managed to brew up, when more healing spells were available, the Boulder would be able to finish taking care of his wounds. Jesse was stable and breathing better now, a lot of smoke had filled her lungs… and her silence had caused her to be missed when Lee Sue had been looking for survivors below decks. Terry had been very bad off, the fires had burn deeply into his arm… Boulder Josiah was unsure if a standard curative spell would fix the damage or if a regenerate would be needed for the boys arm to be fully functioning again. She looked over at the now resting comfortably Talathan, the elven boy had survived his ordeal. Thaden looked up from the upside-down clay cup he perched on where he watched and studied his patient. It had been touch and go, and exhausted much of the Guard Mouses talents with the weave, but the boy was once again stable and safe. At last she came to Willhym; her Master Gunner had taken no fewer than 4 bullets in the chest at point blank range, by Ku-Aya’s account the enemy had fired eight at him, his new ambulate had likely saved his life. The bullets were insidious, each one when hitting the Halfling and tasting blood had grown small arms and burrowed their way to a different vital organ. It had taken the Boulder, Flit, Hikari and Valeria working together to track the bullets and pull them out of the Halfling. His screams of pain still sent shudders through the Captain; he would never doubt the Master Gunners ‘grit’ again; the fact that he still lived was a miracle in itself. The Boulder rushed over to the Captain as he saw him enter. Thalion went to say something but the Boulder just opened his arms and hugged the Captain in a big hug. It wasn’t proper, but the Captain responded in kind. After a moment of composing himself he released the Captain and looked up.

“I’ve given them all I am comfortable in giving,” he said to the Captain sweeping the room with his hands “I have a few more curative spells I am holding back in case someone takes a turn for the worse, but I think they are all pretty stable right now, I will stay up the night with them, until I need to pray for spells, then I can do more in the morning”

“Thank you Josiah” The Captain said “Please let me know if you need anything more”

“I will Captain, I’m just sorry I couldn’t do more… I’ll think a lot harder about my spell choices in the future… I wasn’t really prepared for a fire… I’m sorr…”

“None of that Josiah, it caught us all off guard, and I am extremely proud of how you conducted yourself, there isn’t a thing at all for you to be sorry about, are we clear” the two met eyes and eventually the human cleric nodded to the Captain “Good Man” The Captain said clasping him on the shoulder and leaving the Med Ward. Next he stepped out the door and worked his way to the ship, he nodded and tried to offer a weary smile to crew members he passed along the way. It was no surprise that many members of the Grey Corsairs and Eagle Knights were here now, lining the road and area and helping move supplies and gear. He got to the ship and found Flit, Aurellia, Hikari and Cassidy talking with six robed figures and three Grey Corsairs. Flit nodded to the Captain as he approached

“Captain, these fine wizards and officers have been sent by the tower of High Sorcery to aid us in our investigation as to what happened, and who might have done this. They have just finished examining the area and will bring back their conclusions to us tomorrow” Flit said. The Captain took a moment to thank wizards and officers. He waited until they had departed before turning to his crew.

“So, what do we have?”

“This fella’s right fockered Cap” Cassidy begun, pointing out the thick black stuff that had been on some of the doors “Some kind of alchemical glue… but it also absorbs heat, and seems to double it radiating out, it would expand and spread any fire near it… nasty stuff” he scratched his head a few minutes before continuing “I’m honestly not sure how he made the fire, it’s a play on greek fire, that’s for sure, but I’ll need time and study to figure it out, it’s like nothing I have seen before”

“The Uniforms are their own special piece… none magical” Hikari began “painted with a waxing veneer, I am thinking again alchemical to provide fire immunity for a time, perhaps armor as well as the cloth wouldn’t normally hold up against my arrows the way it did” I’ll need to do some more work on it to see what else I can find.

“Broseph and Spot are a total mess” Flitt added in, Mandy just had them brought back to the Inn, but it will take days to clean them out, maybe more; she’s pretty shook up over it”

“They were super comfortable with Black Powder, I found what was left of their fire arms… some kind of thin metal, designed to only be used once or twice and then melt in low heat fires… wasn’t a lot I could salvage… but the way they knew to go to the cannons and how they operated around back powder during a fire… they’ve done this before. Flit and Bitey will help me in the morning to pull our cannons from the bottom of harbor, I’ll have to see if they can be salvaged or not. The ones remaining on the deck are banged up, but I should be able to get them working again.” The Captain looked at each of his officers and friends, working hard to take deep breaths and find his centre

“I want to know who is behind this, I want him found and brought to me… people don’t get to hurt my people and walk away from it… there will be consequences for this, world shattering consequences. Talk to your contacts, your friends, your friend’s friends; call in every favour you have, shake things up! This one doesn’t get to slip away… this one is personal” the Captain was sucking in breath of rage as he finished talking, few had ever seen him this angry before. The assembled group agreed and the Captain stalked back to the Inn… there was much more work to be done.

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When I am Up pt 1

34th of Goodmonth 383ONT, Champions Fist, Voyage Home from Lunar Mission 11:14am, Mess Hall

Cassidy looked conspiratorially at his companions, it was a good plan, one well and truly worth the risks at a time like that this. Most of the rigors and sailors had worked their way down to the mess, and a few had happened to find a barrel full of delicious tasting purple. It was a sticky sweet drink; that carried the kick of an ale with the sweetness of a pie. Cassidy was truly proud of it, seeing none of the officers who might be inclined to ask too many questions he nodded to Nathan, who produced his lute fiddle and hit the first couple chords. Oslow sitting at a nearby table, produced his little drum and hit an opening beat. A few of the crew laughed and clapped as Cassidy cleared his throat

PLEASE LISTEN WHILE READING

“I am the fountain of affection…” he sang out as hoots and hollers reared among the crew, most of them recognizing the old shanty. He belted out the first verse… none to shabby if he did say so himself; but that wasn’t the point. He saw the Bosun come down the steps just as the crew joined in the chorus, he could not have timed it better if he’d tried… quickly he sidled through the crowd to get over to Ku-Aya before they crew finished. When the chorus was done the room fell silent and Cassidy nudged the officer with his elbow. He looked sheepish and embarrassed but seeing the crew staring at him he could not help it

“His Exhalation, a sweet disintegration…” Ku-Aya sang out and the crew roared in approval, already Douglas and Callwen were dancing, Hugh and Josiah were sitting at a table banging their cups to the music while most the crew ringed the impromptu dance floor allowing each a turn to show off their skills while they sung along with the band. Seeing the Bosun entrenched in his duties as lead singer he turned towards the stairs, just in time to spot the next potential buzz kill, none other than the First Mate. Cassidy had studied his opponents hard, he was ready for every eventuality and reached into his pockets and caught the First Mate before he made it down the stairs.

“Aye Flit, How’s yer Toppers this morning?” Cassidy opened up as he blocked his passage

“Well enough Cassidy, I heard music, thought I’d join in the fun”

“Aye, a wollper they be at indeed… but before that I was hoping you’d join me in a Holy Prayer to the great big fellow of…. Bigliness” Cassidy said, producing three thickly rolled cigarettes from his pocket. He saw the First Mate eye them carefully weighing if he should or not

“Come on, yer not steering the ship right now, Cap said to live a little… and yo can consider it part of reformin a genuine bonafide sinner type” Cassidy added with a wink. Flit gave it

“Alright… let’s head up to the bow deck where we can still hear the music through the mess vents”

“Aye Aye Sir” Cassidy said smiling that phase two of his master plan had come to be.

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Cold Shadows Pt 2

35th of Goodmonth 383ONT, 4:13pm, Temple of the Northern Wind, Northern Evermoors, Argyle.

Curtis looked at his companions before turning back to the Air Worshipers before him. “So you can see,” Curtis continued “We are not enemies, we need not battle, not until our respective Goddesses have met and decided our fates” Z’meer, the head of the temple nodded at the wisdom of the little faun.

“So be it Curtis Tomas, you and your companions will be allowed to continue your search of the North Wind, unmolested by out guild; but you will stop again at this temple once your mission has been completed, that we might speak further of how our peoples can live in peace” Z’meer said. Curtis bowed to the cleric, nudging Maul to do the same; he reluctantly did. Goodbyes were said and within an hour they found themselves leaving the temple.

“I think that worked out well” Curtis said grinning as they left the temple

“I still think you should have killed their Assassin where he stood” Maul grumbled, but offered a friendly nudge of his elbow to show he was kidding

“Pshhh, just because someone bests you in a fight doesn’t mean you have to kill them” Curtis laughed

“He didn’t best me, he snuck up on me!” Maul said defensively

“Curtis…. Curtis… Pray For Help… Pray Curtis” the voice drifted at the fringe of the faun’s ability to hear. Curtis stopped in his tracks causing Leven to bump into him as he cocked his head to listen for more… nothing came. Maul picked up on the change in tension, his weapons came to hand as he began to scan the area for ambush… silence passed for a moment.

“There is a problem… I have to go help right now… do you trust me?” he asked looked at each of his five companions. They smiled and nodded, their trust in the Cleric of the Night Wind was absolute. “I know not what I will face… but my body will be defenceless while I am gone… I will need your protection” the group quickly moved back to back, ready for battle. Curtis watched as Osswack held his staff defensively, Maul pulled out his axe, Soaz her tiny sword and Leven… he picked up a rock. The five took a few deep breaths preparing themselves as Curtis caste his spell… then his soul shifted planes

Time: Unknown: Great Tree of the Goddess of the Night Wind, Throne Room

Curtis appeared in the centre of the Throne Room of the Goddess of the Night Wind. A roil of vapour appeared around him as the relatively warm air from his surroundings met with the cold uncomfortable stale air of the throne room. The place stank of stale wine and discarded food. He slowly took in his surroundings, trying to fathom what this place was, or why it looked so. The colour was all but gone, there was a looming sense of death in the air and a tension that caused his skin to crawl. Curtis at last saw Aruik crumpled on the floor by the throne… he raced over to her taking three great steps before skidding to a halt. Tucked behind the throne purring in low tones was a raptor. Its eyes were hungry, and it appeared that Curtis was approaching its planed meal. He raised his hands calmly as he took another step towards the raptor.

“ARK ARK” came the cry of another raptor to his left… he’d not seen that one. The first raptor stepped out from behind the throne as the two began to close the distance on him.

“Easy fella’s… easy” Curtis said in low tones, trying to calm the beasts

“ARRRK” one cried out showing its claws and preparing to leap, on instinct Curtis pulled his Holy Symbol out and displayed it to the charging raptors

“I AM CURTIS TOMAS, 1ST AMONG HER SERVENTS, YOU WILL BE CALM!” his voice thundered as his holy symbol shone with a powerful white light. The feral hungry look dissipated from the raptors eyes as they came to a stop, one of them allowed its tongue to roll out to the side giving it a goofy almost friendly look. Seeing his rebuke had worked, he did not want to push his luck on how long it would last “BE GONE FROM HERE, I HAVE NO TIME FOR YOU BEASTS!” he said in his commanding voice. The raptors seemed sad to be sent away, but nodded to him, looked to each other and then ran off through the door at the southern end of the room. Seeing them leave, the faun took a moment to scan the room for more enemies before running to Aruik. He knelt beside her and held the beautiful angel in his arms. “Ordinal?… Aruik? Are you all right” he asked gently. She was cold to the touch, her skin had turned grey, the luster and colour form her eyes had drained into an inky black. He held her close trying to warm her. He could feel her, like a siphon pulling heat, warmth… faith from his body, he allowed it and slowly her eyes opened.

“Curtis… what are you doing here?” she asked weakly. He smiled at her

“You sent for me, I came?” he smiled back. Even in her weakened state she was able to roll her eyes.

“You were to bring the Goddess, this plane needs her” she said

“Oh” he said, “well, I am here now… let’s get you up and figure out how we might contact her” he said standing and offering her a hand. Shakily she rose to her feet putting an arm over his shoulder.

“A new visitor? How quaint” a voice projected from the far side of the room. There stood Lord Talib. He took a few steps forward before posing his next question “and who do we have here, a little faun is it? A friend from the green realm?” he asked the questions in a mock cutesy tone, but his eyes ran up and down over Curtis carefully weighing, appraising and assessing him.

“Curtis, go home… right now! Get help” Ariuk said in an urgent whisper to him. Curtis looked from Aruik over to Talib

“Is he the one causing all this trouble” he asked, turning to face Talib and pulling out his little mace “he doesn’t look all that tough” Curtis said a little louder and taking a step towards Talib. “I am Curtis Tomee…” he words were cut off in a gasp as Talib pointed a finger at him, twelve black daggers shot forth each perfectly targeting Curtis’s neck. Luckily Curtis was not in fact here, and the daggers passed through him slamming into the wall some twenty feet behind him.

“Ah… I see” Talib said taking another few steps forward… “you are not here; you are on Argyle… a simple priest or cleric communing with your deity. How… amusing” he said, waving his hands in a complicated series of movements, yet nothing appeared to happen.

35th of Goodmonth 383ONT, 4:16pm, Just outside the Temple of the Northern Wind, Northern Evermoors, Argyle.

Maul looked back at Leven who leaned over the sleeping Curtis, Osswack scratched his head before speaking

“We are sure he’s not just napping and pranking us… this would be a very good prank” there was a pause among the group as they thought about it, it would not be totally out of character for Curtis to try such a thing. Maul shook his head

“I don’t think so… he had that look of worry… I don’t think he knows how to make that look on purpose” the wild elf replied

SHUSHUSHU

The bushes to the left shuddered, the foliage all around began to move, they all stood ready ears cocked for more clues. It was Leven who heard the murmurs and groans first and let out a terrible curse

“BRAINS…. BRAINS” the moaning and shuffling grew louder.

“GODS BE DAMNED” Maul cussed as he quickly gathered branches littered on either side of the path and went about building a fire “The one time our cleric is indisposed is the time that the dead choose to attack us” he didn’t bother with a traditional build instead opting to rummage through Curtis’s pack and pull the lantern oil out. He poured it over the branches and worked with his flint and steel as he heard the dead monsters mover closer.

“We could run for the temple… they would shield us I am sure” Osswack offered as he himself cast a spell of blessing on his staff. Maul shook his head as the twigs lit ablaze.

“We can’t move him until he wakes… he knew there would be trouble…we hold here until he gets up” Maul said, gathers a few more branches and starting a second fire at the other side of the group. “Stay between the fires… kill anything that comes within arm’s reach of Curtis… understood?” there wasn’t time for an answer, the first zombie broke through the underbrush and attacked.

Time: Unknown: Great Tree of the Goddess of the Night Wind, Throne Room

“So you’re the God Talib huh?” Curtis said eyeballing the deity some twenty feet from him “Can’t say that I am impressed” the Faun sneered, trying his best to throw out some verbal sword play

“A fact that I am sure will cause me to loose countless nights of sleep” Lord Talib responded in a bored tone, what do you want little Faun? Clearly your Goddess has abandoned this realm, so there is little sense you hanging around, bringing down the collective IQ”
“The Lady of the Night Wind has not abandoned this realm! She loves this realm and each of her followers” Curtis rebuked

“Yes… I am sure that is the bedtime stories that are shared on Argyle” the God’s voice dripped with contempt “You’re faith may bolster this room, the Ordinal even for a short time… but it will not last… you are mortal my friend and your spell will soon come to an end… one way or the other and then things will begin to decay and rot once more”

“YOU’RE DOING THIS… IT’S YOU!” Curtis accused stamping two steps toward the God “STOP IT!”

“I assure you, my angry little Faun Friend that I am not actively ‘doing’ anything… I will also warn you that astral or not, if one of your grubby little fingers tries to touch me, I will unmake you” the words were not said in rage, or as bluster… it was said calmly and stated as a fact, one that Curtis believed to his very core. Curtis took a step back… then fell to his knees, he didn’t know what else to do… so he prayed.

“Oh Great Goddess, hear my prayers… Please come to your throne… we are in danger”

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