Author Topic: A moment of calm  (Read 8381 times)

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A moment of calm
« on: October 30, 2015, 12:34:13 PM »
As is appropriate, after combat and before periods of rest, Figaro believes it to be necessary to pray to his god to thank them for successes and report on what acts he is performing in their name.  The prayers often have the air of a clerk seeking approval from a master who does not regardly them fondly.  While Figaro's interpretation of events tends to be accurate (lying to a deity can be a really creative form of suicide after all), the reports tend towards self service and ommission of certain details.

Figaro has yet to be informed that many gods, Khors likely included, are omniscient and know exactly what events have transpired...



Noble and eternal Khors,

I have arrived in the Zobeck, the free city as it is known, with relatively little incident and I thank you for the protection you have provided me thus far.
I sought lodging in a rustic inn or tavern (I can't quite remember in what manner to which such an establishment should be referred) and met with some old friends in the hopes of securing honorable work.  My surroundings are humble but I am persevering and am at least comfortable.

A hooded stranger entered and told us of recent kidnappings.  Children being taken from places of safety for some reason or other.  We were warned to be wary of recent movements of the Cloven Nine.  I confess I was shocked that their presence is still being felt in this area as it has been many a year since I last heard tales of those foul ne'er do wells and had assumed that the capable warriors of this area had taken care of them.  It appears that Zobeck's finest are perhaps not as capable as I have been lead to believe.

As we spoke, a red glow emanated from the door and a second hooded stranger entered.  I feared that there was a fire in one of the industrial buildings nearby (I hear that such facilities are prone to accidents when poorly managed) but this chap in the hood seemed responsible.  One of our party rose to investigate and I personally sensed an aura of overwhelming evil, so rose in kind to inform the bartender and apprehend the scoundrel personally but was prevented from carrying out my duties by the presence of a number of bloated, blackened corpses which rained from the very ceiling.  As we were in a cellar, I cannot even imagine what disgusting visions were presented to those above us.

The corpses moved to block us from their master and fought with the uncoordinated vigour of the recently resurrected dead.  Disgusting creatures, but most enthusiastic.  I dealt one of them a solid blow with my mace but alas, the weapon passed through it like I had struck a stream of falling water!  We were clearly outclassed and outnumbered and my way to the real foe was heavily impeded so I took up a defensive position, set my shield steady and instructed my comrades to form up behind me to gain a tactical advantage over this rabble as had been instructed to me during my years of service.  Thankfully, we have a number of magicians in our party and with some quick thinking, they were able to achieve what mundane weapons could not.  I was preparing to leap from the table and seek the aid of the local constabulary, as is the right and proper procedure in a civilised city such as this, but our party was able to deal with the problem before it escalted into something more severe.  Well done, us!

The leader of this band wore some kind of magnificent bronze mask which was apparently the key to preventing its maw from opening into some kind of hellish nether plane.  You alone may know how it achieved even basic functions like sight or speech but it matters not.

I performed a minor act of healing upon one of our number and upon the clockwork publican who had suffered a grievous wound.  I believe that they will make it through without much difficulty but pray that you watch over them.  They fought valiantly.

We agreed to take on the job.  Protecting innocent children is a cause worth fighting for.  As I look at our party and their demonstrated skills, I can report to you that I am travelling with one of those nature wizard types, a clockwork mage (whether he is made of VERY sophisticated clockwork or simply wields it is something I expect to learn in the fullness of time), a traveller sort, a gentleman who favours those barbaric curved swords and a... creature of some sort?  I'd be inclined to say she has something of the khobold about her but there's a touch of something else in her features.  Regardless, she appears to have unfortunately sticky fingers and I shall have to keep careful stock of my personal possessions around her.  Overall, it's a diverse set of skills and personalities and I look forward to working with them all.

I believe that by presenting us with unkillable shades, you are presenting me with a test of courage.  I would like you to know that I did not falter in the face of adversity and remained resolute and determined in the name of honourable duty.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

BioSpark

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2015, 01:31:08 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

It is clear to me now why I have arrived in this city, for the people here have turned their back upon your divine radiance.  There are many lost souls seeking redemption.  They may not know that for themselves but it's relatively obvious to an outside observer such as myself.

We travelled to a local temple dedicated to Sarastra.  I would like it to be known that while I graciously accepted their hospitality, I very much disapprove of the way in which they conduct their business.  And it very much does seem to be a "business".  Their ideals seem noble, yes, but I fear that our khobold (I think she's a khobold?  There's something entirely other in her features...) is rather too comfortable in this environment and I am not entirely sure that my purse isn't currently lighter than it was on entering.  This place has a secret entrance.  It's a place of worship, surely the worshippers should be proud to display their piety to set an example to others?

Most odd.

This is also, I gather, some kind of temple dedicated to the fey.  I can't say whether or not I approve of them in general but without wishing to sound terribly xenophobic, I cannot say that the reputation which precedes them is leaving a particularly good impression upon me.  Kidnappings are bad enough but it sounds like this has happened in the past, all in aid of some kind of heathen ritual.  Probably a sacrifice, I hear that goes on in less civilised lands.

We're told that the fey won't meet with us unless we travel to their own territory, but nobody will willingly tell us how to get there.  It would appear almost as if we're expected to commit some form of crime in order to achieve our goals.  This was not provided as part of the job specification and I have reservations.  Please rest assured, my lord, that I will not stray from the true and righteous path.  Unless that is your intention for me as you humble representative, of course.  Do feel quite free to give me a sign or any other clear indication at any point and I shall, of course, respect and act upon your wishes.

Two of our party, the dancer and the... specialist... went into the night to negotiate the opening of a door into the fey lands.  The rest of us remained at the temple conducting research.  I found little of any use but the leader of the temple implied that most of the city is rather too interested in clockwork and contraptions.  Considering how much violence, theft and dubious worship is being conducted around here, I'm rather glad that the learned individuals of Zobeck are applying their intellects to something wholesome and useful.  They have clockwork hussars!  Imagine the possibilities!  An entire army operated from the relative comfort and safety of a command tent!

I... of course, it wouldn't be the RIGHT way to fight, but it could certainly give people an edge if faced with unfair and overwhelming odds.  It's CERTAINLY something I wouldn't personally condone without a very good reason.

Our companions returned to the temple bloodied, poisoned but otherwise safe.  I should have travelled with them but was assured that our performer knew these streets well and did not feel threatened.  We have enemies everywhere now, it seems.  I do feel my presence would have been to their detriment though.  My equipment is built for function, not for stealth, and my travelling through the streets at night would likely have awoken the locals.  They brought back some form of demon with them, a scrawny little thing, all sharp points, skin and bones.  Our wizard has expressed a sophisticated interest in it.  I'm mildly concerned about that but he's a trusted friend of mine, has been for many a year, and I know him to be a decent sort.  I wouldn't fraternise with those of impure moral fibre after all.  Reputation to uphold and all that

I would rather have preferred to bathe it in cleansing fire, but each to their own as they say.

That chappie with the mask, the one with the face that was a portal to the nether planes, you remember the one?  He was carrying some coins dedicated to the god of greed.  Forget the blighter's name.  We had them melted down and cast into icons of the gear goddess.  I... rather forget her name, too, I fear.  They're rather well made things though and carrying a token blessed by a local diety seems an appropriate thing to do in a town that so fervently worships her.  Just to be clear though, I have no less respect for your good self, this is entirely an... act of respect to honour a gracious host.  It's no attempt to curry favour.

It seems we have about 24 hours until the full moon which is when it's thought that the children will be processed.  Still not sure what that wil entail but I suspect bringing them back in one piece will be considered a greater success than simply stopping whoever these rotters are.  Although we're of the suspicion that the children may not, in fact, be children which raises all kinds of additional questions.  The main point remains that some form of probably innocent probably life is about to be probably slain by...

I'm actually relatively unclear on the purpose of this endeavour and whether the outcome will even be positive, the more I think on it.

The full moon seems appropriate, these people appear to deal in trickery and children's tales so I'm quite sure that they'll adhere to the date out of a sense of tradition or to build a sense of drama. It's quite morally repugnant, when you think about it, making such a show of the thing.

Well, more morally repugnant than killing children.  Goodness me.

I thank you for the generous blessings you have bestowed upon me this day and shall endeavour to bring the gift of enlightenment to those who oppose your divine will.  I will enlighten them to within an inch of their very lives, if necessary.  I take these blessings as a definite sign that you approve of my actions in particular, our actions as a group and our intentions as a greater organisation.  Again, you have my thanks for giving me such clear guidance.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

BioSpark

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2015, 12:10:32 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

I'm having some fairly significant doubts about this party.  Sultan has the bearing of a warrior but the mentality of a thug, I'm afraid to turn my back on Doby and we seem to be leaning more and more towards a slack "any means necessary" approach to morality.  Rest assured I shall remain resolute at all times and do all I can to guide these wayward souls towards the true and righteous path.
We began our trip by heading to see the river people.  I'd recently shown some workers of the night the power of my belief and I believe they were impressed.  You may have some converts but I require no thanks, it's reward enough to know I'm furthering your cause.  The river people lived in a less... acceptable part of town.  As we travelled, expertly disguised, we grew aware of a presence watching us.  It was some form of enormous bird-like creature, possibly a man in feathered garb or a crow grown out of all proportion.  I only pray that it WAS a bird because when I asked what its business was, following travellers down the street, it turned its back and unleashed a torrent that would either indicate it was indeed a large bird or else it was a man who was very much on death's door and who had made some very poor dietary choices.  Terrible, I shall be polishing my shield for hours before it's acceptable to show in public again.

Our travels took us down an alley into some manner of trading plaza.  The locals immediately eyed us with suspicion yet I'm not quite certain why.  I think we had wandered into some closely guarded territory though how one could claim to own a public space such as this when they're not a recognised civic representative or governing body is quite beyond me.  Absurd.  We found our contact, an elderly lady upon a boat (who I must say regarded me with the utmost respect.  A fine judge of character and very wise) who informed us that the man of the house, barge, however you refer to their dwelling was detained having pledged to locate and retrieve their lost child and to not return home without a positive result to report.  Commendable, I admire those with the courage to stick to their convictions.

As we left to find this gentleman, Sultan assaulted a child.  Quite what he hoped to gain I do not know but I told him that if this were to continue in my presence, there would be consequences that he would very much not care for.  My point was clearly made and he agreed to not perform such acts in future.

We were accosted by some thugs shortly after.  I didn't wish to start a fight in such a public space so we agreed to join them peacefully and were taken to meet their leader, a very ostentatious man in the basement of some filthy dive of a bar.  We were threatened, both verbally and physically, but were able to talk our way out of an otherwise disastrous situation.  I'm all for action as you well know, especially when power is being abused, but there was no sense in needless violence when a carefully placed word could be far more effective.  We negotiated terms of a contract, that we would return a missing child to this king of thieves and toasts were toasted.  I'll not bore you with the details of the beverage but needless to say, such a vile creature did not offer us a wine of any respectable vintage.

We found the head of the river people about to strike up a deal with a demonic looking creature.  We quickly defused that situation, I don't mind informing you.

Finally, we ended our day at the local temple of... goodness, the name escapes me.  Northern god, fond of carousing and quaffing and such.  I'm told that they consider you an aspect of their own pantheon, just under a different guise but I was not about to have my faith tested by such misguided opinions.  I know that your way is the one true path.  Still, we needed to find a contact within these halls and when in Zobeck, do as the Zobeckians do (or somesuch).  I bested several of their finest in single and honourable combat, partook of their humble but hearty fare and represented you in the best way I am aware of, through contests of brute strength.

Most invigorating!

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

BioSpark

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2015, 12:10:53 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

The debauchery continues though I'm conducting myself in a respectable fashion.  The rest of the group has joined us, having being announced through a flash of lightning from the entrance.  Seems the god of this temple doesn't approve of our dancer.  I'm not certain why, it sounds like some long standing racial disagreement but thankfully the whole situation was resolved very well.  She has quite the silver tongue!

The khobold's back.  She seems to be trying to loot the drunk and the fallen fighters.  She is probably carrying a fwe drinking horns by now.  The sound of small animals keeps emanating from her.  I've questioned her behaviour but she feigns ignorance or innocence each time and I'm rather unsure of how to handle any of this.

Sultan awoke and challenged me to a quick bout.  I think he did, anyway.  He seemed a little worse for drink and I'm not sure I understood him perfectly, but he did seem to be looking for a fight.  Quite the nimble chap, actually, he was most difficult to pin down.  We sparred for a short while before I threw him from the ring but he was most gracious in defeat and I'm beginning to wonder if I'd judged him too harshly before.  His methods are a little crass, yes, but he's quite willing to act with honour if the situation calls for decorum.

We were directed to the rooftops to consult with some manner of oracle.  A three headed creature, seemingly human but with a very strange appearance.  She, like the fey, seemed to be over fond of riddles and old fashioned ways so required payment for her services, though not in gold.  Most odd, gold is the single most reliable and recognised form of currency in this, or any other, land.  Still, we paid her in various services, favours and the like and she seemed satisfied.  Wisdom was dispensed in the form of more riddles.  I really don't approve of people who won't give a straight answer, especially when the life of a child hangs in the balance, but that seems to be the style of this area and it's always polite to pay respects to the customs of others when in their lands.  Even if they are lacking in sense.

More bird creatures descended.  Or rather, more bird creatures came out of hiding because I doubt that any among them could actually fly.  I took up a defensive position to cover our casters while the others ran forward to engage.  As the battle looked won, I noted a small flanking force behind us, a single creature that was aiming to lead a rear charge so I valiantly threw myself into combat against this deranged foe, but alas!  An ambush!  I had not considered such creatures capable of such sophisticated tactical thinking considering that they have yet to master such basics as correctly using the lavatory.  As I ran in, they sang a song of madness and despair the likes of which I have never experienced and it was quite, quite unsettling.

I find myself laid in the darkness at the feet of those who would wish me harm.  I throw myself upon your tender mercy, noble Khors, and ask that you hasten the delivery of aid to my side as soon as you are able that I may continue to act in your name for many years to come.

Please.  I am far too young to perish like this.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

BioSpark

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2015, 12:56:14 PM »
Figaro's footsteps cease to echo through the darkness.  Everything is still and silent.

"Hello?  Excuse me, I feel there may have been some manner of error here?  I'm looking for my room you see."

Silence.

"Is this part of the test?  I'm not even a member of your religion, I don't see why I should undergo such treatment.  If this is about payment for lodging, I'll happily make a donation."

Silence.

"Please!  I'm entirely innocent here!  I haven't done anything to harm you in the slightest!  I'm a firm supporter of all those with strong religious inclinations, if you simply let me free, I'm more than happy to discuss whatever seems to be troubling you enough to hold me captive in the darkness like this!"

Muffled laughter.  A loud, clear voice with the weight of considerable authority echoes from the gloom.

"Calm yourself youth, you've nothing to fear.  You pledged to bring light to the darkness for heaven's sake, this is supposed to be your bread and butter!  Just concentrate on the task at hand and you'll be fine, go on!"

Tiny pinpricks of light form around the room growing brighter with each passing moment, flickering slightly.  They illuminate the ornate candlesticks holding them, obviously well crafted from pure silver.  As the light grows more, a table covered with fine foods, delicate cutlery, a silk tablecloth with elegantly embroidered patterns.  Every little detail has been thought of and no expense has been spared.  Figures fade into view as the darkness is pushed back, each sat at one of the places at the table, all wearing ornate armour.  It looks to be for show rather than for function with plenty of gold and small items of jewellery.  Medals are numerous, as are crowns and family crests, each bearer obviously being some member of nobility or a decorated war hero.  Some faces are recognisable, elderly kings and queens from neighbouring nations.  Figaro recalls attending their funerals, great national affairs, often public holidays.  Some wear crests of nations destroyed years ago by war or disease.

Sounds become sharper, more distinct.  The sound of raucous laughter, quite obviously at Figaro's expense as he still shivers slightly.  A man with a face that could be older than the very mountains stands at the head of the table and taps a crystal chalice with a small fork.  His movements are fluid and easy, showing no sign of his obviously advanced age.

"Friends, companions, brothers in faith, let us not judge this whelp too harshly for he knows not what he is witnessing.  Come now, we've all heard the call and we all remember how harrowing it was, even if our friend here has a yellow streak so wide that you could sail a fleet along it!"

More laughter, though it's not unkind.

"Let us toast our new brother in the name of Khors!"

Plenty of "hear-hear!" and harrumphing, polite applause and the like ensues.

"This isn't to be my room, is it?  And I'd wager I haven't moved since I walked through that gate."

"Quite so.  My name is Beauchamp.  Artemis Beauchamp, one of the earliest of your line and the the seventh king of Khorsburg -"

"Eighth I think you'll find, Arty!"

Artemis puts the chalice down with some force.

"THANK YOU, yes, the precise number is the subject of some debate.  I'm sure that's of the utmost importance right now, Reginald.  Now Figaro, I'm the first of your blood line to hear the call to action, the urge to serve this world in the name of Khors.  You may not know it, youth, but the blood of paladins runs through your veins as well as the blue blood of your parents.  Not all of us jump at the call, mind you, plenty settle into the royal life growing old and fat while playing the game of politics but you, you're destined for far grander things.  We WERE unsure for quite some time, mind you, especially in light of your abdication.  You did have us doubting you after that, I don't mind informing you."

The light grows brighter revaling a very well furnished dining hall.  There are no doors.  The walls are lined with tapestries depicting great deeds of diplomacy, notable victories, slain demons, the healing of the lame and sick.  Suits of well used but well maintained armour stand beneath each, carrying the arms of their former occupants.  Several of the blades and bludgeons glow with intense magical energy.

"This is all very impressive sir, but what precisely do you expect of me?  It seems like you're all going rather out of your way just to tell me to buck up my ideas."

"It's time to choose your path.  Choose a discipline and dedicate your life to it.  I'm sure you know the standard oaths, to devotion, the ancients or vengeance?  You'd better commit yourself now, youth.  We've been watching your progress from the afterlife for some time now and we all think that what you're lacking, as well as a backbone, is a little bit of focus.  Something to inspire you to the greatness that every Beauchamp paladin is destined for!"

"If that is the case, I shall swear myself to an oath of devotion that I may defend the downtrodden, represent those who -"

"Yes, yes, very impressive.  But are you swearing that because you think it's what Khors wants to hear, because you think it'll impress us or because deep down in that chicken heart of yours, it's the right choice for you?  Think about where your devotions lie, youth.  You've got plenty of potential but a lot of growing up to do."

The lights grow ever brighter.  As each person seated at the table raises their glasses, the light becomes too bright to see by.  When it's faded, Figaro stands in the temple again.  He's obviously been sweating bullets.





Noble and eternal Khors,

I thank you for the assistance and guidance you have offered me this day.  In helping us to defeat those beasts, in guiding my companions in their efforts and struggles.  While we have our disagreements, I feel that as a team we are truly capable of anything and I'd entrust my life to any of them.

Well... most of them.

In light of recent developments, I henceforth dedicate myself to an outh of devotion.  It is my solemn vow that I will protect those who are unable to protect themselves against any opression or agression.  This is my calling.  I shall not fail.

Please pass on my regards and thanks to my ancestors.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

BioSpark

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2015, 04:20:00 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

The night passed with little incident.  I thank you for the clear sign of how you wish for me to progress and will act upon this constructive criticism as fully as I am able to.  Our lodgings were humble but adequate.

In the morning we discussed further plans for the day.  Our party split to better utilise our pool of skills, meaning I was set to travel to a local noble's home along with Sultan.  I perhaps hesitate to use the word "noble" lightly, I gather that some kind of barbaric cull of the upper ruling classes occured in these lands not too long ago.  That a fellow who has earned his place in society, paying with the sweat of his brow, may be slaughtered by unthinking and unfeeling thugs rather calls into question the etymology of the "Free City".  But no, my role is not to judge, is it?  Not at all.

We needed to arrive in the proper manner.  A carriage would suffice.  We hired the best that money could obtain and what was offered was a suitable affair.  Overuse of clockwork noted again.  As we approached, a coach came the other way laden with gold and finery, beading on the windows being made of gold coins.  I doubt they were fake.  I hope the occupant, no doubt Mr. Glimmer or one of his associates, knows how ridiculous such a conveyance is.  To tell the world "I am a man of means" is perfectly fine but to shout "this carriage is literally made of money" is not impressive.  I am not impressed, at least.  You could feed an entire DISTRICT of needy and unfortunate people on the money it would take to construct such a thing!

So absolutely tasteless and unnecessary.  It makes me quite furious and betrays a complete lack of manners.

Sultan introduced me as it was decided that for him to be the manservant of "Mr. Underhill" would be a cunning ruse.  I stressed to him (now named "Tonto") that I was sorry to have to degrade him in such a way.  I am not quite sure that he did not take it personally but he says he did not.  I would hate to have him as an enemy.

The lord of the house was overcome with grief and apparently gout.  Old money by the looks but intelligent along with it.  Quite an intimidating combination.  We told him in no uncertain terms that we thought his daughter to have connections to the Cloven Nine, that they may know something of her whereabouts.  That certainly got a reaction.  He knew little of the situation other than his daughter had been telling strange stories lately, childish games, nothing uncommon.  Considering the annoying whimsy of the fey, fairy stories are as firm a body of evidence as a signed confession.

His daughter was quite charming.  Immature perhaps, but considering her age it is to be expected.  She spoke of a man covered in roses and brambles who grew significantly in a short space of time and became friendlier the taller he became.  He played games with the children, earned their trust and in return, they agreed to join him, the youngest becoming the Queen of Thorns and the oldest a lady in waiting.  They drank to this deal, toasting in blood.  Very alarming.  The bramble man has since left.  We discussed recent developments in the local foliage with the gardener who proceeded to, under Sultan's instruction, start some controlled fires.  I think Sultan was just venting some frustration.

We are now back and safe.  Discussions have begun on where to head next, either to a tower or keep of some description or to the Umbral Glade.  It's never a sensible name, is it?  Never a "Jacobson's Folly" or "Lilywhite Plain", always "Bloodoath Pass" and "Starsong Gully".  Seriously now, do they all have their heads as firmly in the clouds?  Maybe that is why they fear iron so much.

I'll keep my weapons and my holy symbol close, Khors.  I fear I will not be welcomed in this strange, strange place.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2015, 11:30:45 AM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

I had to remove much of my armour to evade detection.  Normally this wouldn't pose too much of a problem but on a journey into hostile territory, this was a real concern.  A warrior's sould is in his armour, the care and maintenance he puts into it shows a clear and unmistakable message.  It says a lot about his character!

I would, of course, be willing to take on any assailant without it.  I have proved that today beyond even a shadow of a doubt.  My faith is my breastplate and my courage my helm.  Heavy armour is of great benefit, yes, but a true hero relishes a challenge.

Getting to the glade was, as could have been predicted, rather an ordeal.  There were to be three components, one of a religious nature, one a performance and one... the third escapes me.  There was talk of betrayal and blood.  Sultan was exceedingly keen on bringing an innocent here and sacrificing them.  Seriously now, sacrificing an innocent upon a sacrificial altar?!  Our crime would almost be as bad as that which we are attempting to thwart!  No, I'll be having no part of activities like that, I really do not care how those heathens from the south conduct their business.  As their representative in these lands, it would be better that he remembered his inherent duties as an ambassador to his people.

Disgraceful.

The gate was opened.  It rather seems to me that if such cruelty was necessary to entertain these petty monstrosities such that they would deign to open the doors to this hellish place, we cannot expect fair treatment from them when we actually do meet.  For all we know, they may have eaten the children.  I do not know if the fey do such things but I wouldn't put it past them to try for the sheer decadence of it.

This place reflects my opinions of its people.  Black, mostly.  Shades of.  It's a good metaphor for their spirit and sense of morality, no black and white, no right or wrong, just varying degrees of distasteful malice.  Even the plants seem threatening here, alive and hungry.  There are no guards as we stand outside some forsaken city of darkness.  I fear what we may have found within its walls.

A coach appeared.  Black, oddly enough.  If ever a place was in need of the benefit of your light...  Our bard seemed interested in boarding, Dobby was quick to follow but the rest of us were apprehensive.  Why trust a coach left here by unknown entities pulled by invisible horses into the heart of a land of trickery and deception?  What price would be required?  These people deal in promises and blood for even trivial things, goodness knowns what material goods are worth to them.

We approached to get to the path but our way was barred by appartions.  Warriors trapped in the throes of death in various contorted poses, blood spraying, limbs flailing as they were prpertually held in the final moment before their demise, looks of excruciating pain upon each of their faces.  I truly hope they find peace.  The nimbler among our band tumbled and dodged through the miasma of bodies but I am no acrobat.  I was forced to say my apologies as I attempted to leap across the worst of the band.  Steely determination is no match for the anguish of the tormented dead.  I felt their every sin, their every lament, all turned to very real physical sensation as it flowed through me, a torrent of cold and almost tangible fear.  I shall remember that pain.  I shall follow it as a warning, as a reminder of what may happen to those who make the wrong promises and follow the wrong path.

The thief and the bard entered the carriage, leaving myself, the wizard, the druid and the eloquent brute.  As we marched on, the sound of hooves approached.  I looked into the darkness and saw eyes burning with hellfire locked right on us.  This was more like what I had expected from the beginning but I was without my armour and we were badly injured from the encounter with the fallen warriors.  Tactically we were in a terrible position and these fiends were clearly looking to exploit our moment of weakness!

Sultan fell quickly.  These creatures were very fast and very powerful so I think no less of him for it.  Our druid bathed us all in light which seemed to cause the creatures great distress, I set my shield steadily and prepared for the worst, demanding one of their mounts to hold.  I am somewhat surprised that it obeyed my command.  Our druid turned to a bear inflicting heavy damage on our behalf, our wizard performed in his usual excellent manner and I dispensed healing as well as I was able to.  Further disaster struck; their leader called a number of shades from the depths of the earth as the very ground beneath our feet rose us into the form of blackened skeletons.  No match for us if I was properly equipped, certainly, but I was rather exposed.  As I felt the last of my energy leaving my body, I desperately drove them back into the darkness.  I thank you for guiding my hand and for granting me your light and your strength.  They saw the error of their ways this day!  No foul demon, no undead thrall shall stand fast against your piercing light and may all their kin be ever aware of it!

I feel most empowered.  So long as I hold your teachings in my heart, I have nothing to fear from even the worst of this place.


I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2016, 04:29:34 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

We met up again.  It seemed that the party on the coach had fared better than we though had experienced their share of trouble along the way.  This place is populated with demons, tricksters and the living dead, I'm quite unsure as to why the locals seem so... jovial about everything.  As we prepared to move on, in the middle distance we spotted a large party coming our way, bristling with weapons and walking at a slow pace.  To the untrained eye this may have appeared to be a small military force walking with little urgency or purpose to their next destination, but a more critical examination revealed that the weapons were piercing them and weren't being wielded at all.  We left quickly.  I don't understand why so many spirits haunt this place but it's likely a result of the cruelty inflicted on visitors.

I never thought that I would grow to miss Zobeck but so help me, the inhabitants of that dirty little city are certainly a more relatable peer group.

We carried on until we reached a talking tree.  I'm not going to question that, we've seen stranger things.  He appeared to have a hedge maze in his head and spoke in riddles, as is typical for a dweller of this realm.  I tire of this double talk.  We were told to keep to the frosted path at all costs which seemed like reasonable enough advice, at least we'd have a clear route to get back to a familiar place.  Unless the path moves itself while we aren't watching it.  To be frank, that's actually rather likely.

Along the path, the constellations hung in the sky, swollen and ominous.  Far larger than we're used to, I fear, and very much more distinct.  Why there would be more stars in this place is a mystery, they seem to have an aversion to light, but we're in a night realm after all.  It's just a mercy that there are no more than the usual number of moons, otherwise with all this supernatural nonsense carrying on we may be up to our necks in werewolves.  Sultan began to dissole into a state of very pronounced distress, seemingly fearing the very sky.  I fancied that some of the constellations were moving even as we watched them but if the stars were to come toward the earth, surely the worst they could do would be to dazzle us.  A little light might even help.  The dragon constellation was a minor concern, I'll admit.  I do hear of folk tales of great wyrms embodying strange and exotic elements besides the traditional fire, maybe a star dragon could be a conceivable thing.  While I'm willing to face up to any challenge in your name, of course, I feel that being required to fend off a fully grown dragon is more than any of us are capable of.

We walked three times around a tree for no readily apparent reason.  The landscape changed and revealed a clearing with tables, food and drink.  I will never adapt to the insensibility of this land.

Our performer wanted to play a game of skill with a local in return for information.  This seemed like a fair trade.  His partner got up and attempted to cajole myself and Sultan into doing various unusual things in return for vague promises of dreams and power.  He offered us memories.  Quite why I would want to live someone else's stolen life is entirely beyond me.  He warned us of creatures in the night air that would sew a man's mouth shut should they utter a lie.  Thankfully I'm naturally honest so I have little to fear.  The game seemed to be going badly though, with our performer resorting to insulting and provoking her opponent.  Under the circumstances, it seemed the right approach to take.  He was being infuriatingly serene and insisting over and over that he was just a skilled player, despite how quickly and completely he was winning.  I know that no member of our party is lacking in intelligence, we're all logical and sensible individuals so his complete dominance was alarming.  We were to learn that while the player was not cheating, his board was enchanted to do so for him.  Eventually his mouth was sewn shut, not a little alarming for the od boy I'm sure, and we were collectively victorious.  We were promised information about the children should any become available.  While I doubt that this line of enquiry will bear much fruit, I do not doubt the integrity of these people when it comes to keeping their promises.  For all their chaotic behaviour, their adherence to their own laws and personal codes of chivalry is very impressive indeed, even if if feels like they would only keep a promise for fear of what this place would do to them should they be insincere.

Stories and magic, cruelty and riddles.  Perhaps there is a sense to all of this but to try to observe the rules appears to cause them to subtly change.

Our contact tried to sell me another man's face.  I doubt he has any skill as a doctor.  While a new apearance may allow me to return to my homeland without incident, a very attractive prospect, I am certain that there was some element of trickery in the exchange.  No, I shall not be bartering this day.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2016, 03:58:29 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

Progessing from the clearing we were able to progress further into the hedge maze to see what may lay inside or to cross a long expanse of ice.  We opted for the ice as our performer was interested in harvesting mandrake.  From what little I've heard of those creatures, I'm not sure why in the world she would wish to be in earshot of one, let alone some manner of brood mother, but her reasons are her own.

Actually when you get down to it, why we would wish to go within a mile of any creature of that size is enough of a mystery in itself.  I suppose in many ways, the enormous creatures here are the safest since people of our size are completely beneath their interest.

As we travelled, a creature in armour approached us.  Quite a fine suit of it if I'm any judge (and I rather fancy I am) and a very jaunty hat and cape to go with it.  Always a pleasure to meet a friendly traveller with such high standards.  He appeared as if an elongated spider though indicated to us that he was, in fact, a construct.  Far more charming than the fellows we had met in Zobeck.  He was most helpful, likely because he didn't hail from these parts, and gave us rather a lot of information despite being en route to an errand of his own.  He told us he did not know of the Queen of Thorns but was aware of the King, however warned that we would not wish to meet him.  He then identified himself as a fellow paladin.  I did not know that mechanical beings could channel divine powers.  Perhaps his interpretation of paladin would be better realised as knight but it was hard to confirm due to his lack of a voice.

Back again to the maze and a short excursion to the outer reaches.  We met a young woman, rather a forlorn look about her, who had apparently been cursed to have unruly snakes for arms.  She wasn't from this place specifically but had the mannerisms of the fey about her, promising to remove our fear by passing through a nearby marquee.  This would be attractive but I now know that while you vigilantly watch over me, I have nothing to fear so long as I remain resolute in my faith.  I did ponder, as did Sultan, what the removal of one's fear would entail.  We were concerned that it would remove all common sense at the same time, giving us a suicidal self confidence. It'd probably result in us going to attack the King of Thorns single handedly.

Further in, we met a very well spoken but thoroughly terrifying giant insect.  He was interested in sustainence and apparently very able to consume not only any manner of physical object but also to consume abstract concepts and energy.  One wonders if such a creature could be employed by the church to help aid those suffering from fear or depression.  I fear he would not be interested in altruism.  He offered to trade for tea, tobacco and moments of happiness, oddly.  Quite how he could offer to give a person their own memories is a little unsettling.

Finally, we progressed towards the source of some particularly fine violin music we had heard from behind a wall, having being told that someone in the enforced employ of the King of Thorns was likely the source.  As we moved, we realised we were being followed by tiny, spiteful briar spirits and the path became overgrown.  We elected to turn back, this felt too much like a trap and our natural magician was concerned which is rarely a good sign in these matters.  As we retraced our steps, we were faced with a blackened creature of pure darkness, pierced all about with weapons of all kinds.  Sultan queried, clearly and distinctly, if they were of hostile intent which they confirmed with their actions.  We naturally defended ourselves.  Thankfully those with darkness in their hearts fear your all-penetrating radiance, even if they do not appear to bear the curse of undeath.  It seems that the near-literal interpretation of storybook rules can be turned against the denizens of the Umbral Glade.  We made good our escape but were assaulted by a monstrous crow, near the size of a small dwelling!  Attacks seemed futile, it was very determined to cause us harm, and as we watched in horror it took Sultan as easily as you yourself would smite a lesser demon!  I commanded it to desist, thankfully it did, and Sultan fell to the centre of the maze.

We are stood by the exit now.  Sultan appears to be on trial for the assault of the being of darkness.  That we acted out of self defence, that we did not initiate the conflict, all of these perfectly reasonable defences are meaningless to these lawless heathens.  A trial is to be endured, administered by a living wall.

I'm quite certain that it will either be unfair or utterly unrelated to the crime.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2016, 01:22:25 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

I was quite right.  The trial was neither relevant nor fair to anybody with even the most rudimentary understanding of a legal system.  I am quite sure that in fact these people have not implemented a legal system and have rather chosen to opt for whatever will provide them with the most entertainment under the flimsy guise of "justice".  In fact, no, I do not think justice factors into any of this!  It was needless violence peppered with absurdity!

We were to be tried by what I thought was to be Judge Stone but which turned out to be a judge made of stone.  Of course.  Silly of me, really.  Sultan was subjected to a trial by lies.  I decided I would be the best among us to legally represent him, having a knowledge of decorum, court proceedings, laws and the like, so I decided to appeal.  This simply meant I was subjected to my own trial, a trial by hands, and promptly crushed by the judge which they appeared to consider a god of sorts.  Not truly a god, of course.  I know that if a god of any worth, such as yourself, would have crushed me beneath its hand, I would not be alive to tell the tale.

Next was to be the trial by lies.  I was rather the worse for the blunt strike to my head and may have lapsed out of consciousness but it made no sense.  None.  These people cannot have created the civilisation in these lands, they're entirely bereft of sanity and common sense!  I believe they have stolen some other poor society's culture and taken it as their own.  Still, the trial appeared to reach some kind of resolution, whatever it was, and through all the double talk we were able to demonstrate innocence.  Finally, there was a trial for Malus to strike a... judgement obelisk with a judgement sword or somesuch.  I argued that a mace, a holy symbol of a literal god of justice, would be equally appropriate and after much grumbling and accusations of me being uncivilised and crude (the very thought of it!) they conceded.  I was to carry out the ordeal but thankfully my opponent, a fellow clad entirely in black, splintered his blade and I claimed victory by default.  The man in black did not accept defeat gracefully.

Using a silver scimitar to strike a solid object, really, the chap clearly has yet to grasp the basics of armed combat.

We spoke a while with a gangly creature wearing a snail shell.  He was known to us and not keen to converse but we eventually gained his trust, or something close to it, and were able to trade various intangible thoughts and promises with him.  I fully intend to return here with the humblest bard I can find and trade meaningless stories from dawn until dusk as emotions seem to represent hard currency in this place.

Our exchange completed and Ukko now carried a moment of musical inspiration (we literally traded a happy moment for the promise that a song would pop into one of our heads), Sultan decided to ask the knight of night (ahem) for further information.  He was, as can be expected now, rather... earthy in his approach.  This didn't go down particularly well as the armoured man considered himself a noble.  He would do well to learn a little humility.  Without the efforts of the labouring classes, where would we be, after all?  I stepped in to defuse the situation and to inform him of our cause but he simply stuck Sultan across the face hard enough to render him unconscious.  What an egotistical cad!  And I should know, after all.

After stabilising the old boy, I attempted to continue to further diplomatic relations, apologising for any insult grave enough that it may be worth a man's blood.  I was granted a pardon in return for Sultan's tongue.  This simply would not do.  I have seen many a monarch justify a brutish, bullying attitude as "leadership" and I know full well that in that direction, tyranny lies waiting to rear its fearsome head.  If his tongue would not do, he would require an honour duel.  This presented a problem.  I was clad in a noble's finery but not a scrap of armour, save for my trusted shield.  Any more would cause grave offense and I know that in foreign lands, foreign customs must be observed.  These creatures are monsters, most certainly, but to cause the innocent (mostly...) discomfort or harm would be unacceptable.  My opponent was clad head to toe in plate.  Likewise, I bore no weapon whereas he held a sizable lance.  I lacked a mount, he sat astride a beast which looked like it was in the later stages of decomposition.

A fair fight then.

I hesitantly apologise here.  I did swear unto you an oath of eternal devotion, yes, but my actions were not driven by duty.  Anger, perhaps, but primarily the need to defend a person and trusted friend that I had perceived as having done no significant wrong.  My party, to whom I now owe a significant debt of gratitude and undoubtedly my very life, supported me in spell and song after I refused to back down.  My shield was enchanted with a great light and Ukko handed me a spear which I could use without fear of further incident.  The brute wheeled around and came in for a full charge, lance set and ready, shield similarly enchanted as a vision of absolute darkness.  He truly was aiming to fully impale an opponentwith no significant means of defending himself.  I was disgusted.  However, in times of trial, sometimes a hero is necessary.  Sometimes even a martyr.

As he bore down on me I raised my spear in response, held aloft the shield and struck, not to injure but to disarm.  I was sure to die in this endeavour but fair combat, honour, to prove one's dedication and moral fibre, these were the ideals I have committed myself to.  His lance was dislodged from his grip, falling to the ground, as he attempted another pass with a peculiar glittering scimitar.  Foolish, it's hardly an appropriate weapon for use against an opponent at such a reduced elevation, with my spear I had a slight advantage to press.  However, he struck, but the enchantments I had been blessed with held firm and took the worst of the blow.  A third pass, I aimed to disorient his steed which fell to the ground.  He gracefully dismounted.

As a crowd was gathering at this point, I took the opportunity to remind him that this was his fight and his alone to end.  I had no intentions of fighting him further having deprived him both of weapon and mount but he was beyond reason.  He leapt into the fray, blade dancing before me.  I confess, spears are not my weapon of preference but I did receive acceptable training in all forms of combat back with the dear Hussars and was able to hold my own, eventually twisting the wicked blade out of his grip.  I bade him to yield.  This was no longer a contest of skill or a duel of honour, this was a petty and small minded vendetta against a lower class of life.  He left without a word while throwing his scabbard to the ground, a child in the throes of a tantrum.  Well sir knight, if you would wish to hand your blade to a creature of lesser species and status, let it be known that I am not ungrateful.

In return for the spectacle, we were given information that would lead us to the whereabouts of the missing children and possible passage to where they were being held.  An unusually concise answer from the fey with little of their characteristic metaphor and riddle talk.  We have made an impression.

On the return to Zobeck, we saw more of those black creatures, pierced all about with weapons.  It seems that each of them represented one of our own number and that the one who had attempted to attack us in the hedge maze was my own doppelganger.  That perhaps explains the unprovoked attack?  Were they sent to fight us, each one a personal demon to overcome?

An owl informed us that "he is displeased".  The King of Thorns, I suspect.  It matters little, I have no further need to dwell in this place of half truths.  He can come for us in the mortal realm if the fancy takes him.  We have plenty of iron to greet him with.

An undead thrall attacked us by the portal to our home land.  The fight passed with little incident though he was familiar.  Perhaps creatures here never truly die.  Perhaps he'd made a terrible bargain with one of these dream merchants.  Who can say.

With my feet at last on solid ground, the honest light of the sun upon my brow and the crisp air of autumn in my lungs, I thank you for your guidance, your strength and your light this day.  It has certainly been memorable.  I formally dedicate unto you my contribution to our victory.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2016, 05:02:03 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

Everything seems to be completely normal now.  Our performer was experiencing some form of fatigue upon coming back to the normal world but as she was more attuned to that terrible, confusing place, it is perhaps to be expected.  Tired, beaten and in dire need of food and drink, we took to the less reputable part of town to find lodging.  I was apprehensive upon entering but the inhabitants actually appear to be good people.  Not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, goodness no, but hard working and honest.  It is hard not to feel respect for that.

Our performer immediately decided to take something from a local food vendor.  I am not sure why, we have ample funds for food.  Sultan went to help protest her innocence.  We watched for a short while to see what would develop but to be entirely truthful, I swore to protect the weak and needy.  Our party are neither.  If they want to indulge in petty larceny and expect any kind of defence, their choice of timing could be rather better.  Come to it, their choice of actions, too.  I cannot claim to understand the motivation, perhaps boredom or frustration, but I do not endorse that kind of thing at all.  I left the scene with Ukko and Malus.  I can also feel a growing understanding of their frustrations with some of our collective actions, my own included.  Food for thought.

We arrived at a temple dedicated to... oh, I just cannot remember now.  Some nature god or other, druidic chap, I am sure you will know each other.  Barely able to hold a candle to you, of that I am certain.  The temple was festooned with dogs and seemed very open and welcoming, rather in contrast to the last temple we had encountered filled with cats and thieves.  Unfortunately also in contrast, they were not as willing to offer us lodging until we proved we were accompanied by a druid.  Understandable I suppose.  We settled down for the night, I sent out for a halfway decent meal, a good time was had by all.

Heavens, it feels good to hae an honest meal again.  Dried meat is fine for a time, of course, but hardly appropriate for a man of vigour.  After all, I must carry some double the weight of any member of this group, considering my arms and armour.  I fear I may be becoming too reliant on home comforts.  Or rather, I would be if there were a wine of anything even approaching a reputable vintage to be had within 5 square miles of this city.

In the morning, I regaled the group with a short tale from my better days, discussing some minor territory disputes with a neighbouring leader.  An absolute buffoon of a man, as many were, but certainly one worth keeping happy.  He commanded an army rather larger than the span of his borders would be expected to require and rumours throughout the court were that aggressive expansion was at the top of his agenda.  All was resolved peacefully in the end and an important moral was imparted which I feel rather bolstered everyone's spirits, my own included.  It is good for the soul to look back upon one's accomplishments.  Certainly not to the point of excessive indulgence in pride, of course.

Our contact came to speak to us about our progress.  Ultimately, we had little to report but our investigations had lead to findings which greatly increased the scope of our task.  After all, we were to investigate kidnappings.  If I had been told that this would have lead to a brief sojourn into a land of darkness and lies, I would have thought the bearer of such news quite insensible.  He seemed happy enough though.  Apparently we have been gone for the full length of one week.  One wonders what implications there are of this.  Could the fey stay in our world for an extended period in order to experience the wonders of technological and social developments in their own, impossible to witness within their own lifespan?

Probably not.  That would imply those tradition-bound creatures were willing to innovate...

We plan to travel to the forest soon.  Not a normal forest of course, one of a unified intelligence.  Or perhaps instinct would be a better word.  After all, where would a collection of trees store its mind?  That would imply a weak point and from what I am hearing, this place lacks one and is not to be trifled with.  Quite rightly so, as it apparently predates our species.  By almost every law I know, this really grants it rather more right to be here than ourselves.  I am told that metals will rust in this place with unnatural speed, so we should properly treat our equipment or prepare to use alternatives.  Ukko's spear, for example, should fare well enough as will the silvered scimitar which I have now presented to Sultan.  I hope he wields that effectively.  It seemed more appropriate a weapon for his people and I personally have little need of a weapon which demands a dextrous hand.

Sultan has asked for a very specific list of things he can and cannot do.  I am very concerned about this, more than is usual, espcially as he seems to have been taking pointers from Doby and is becoming rather more difficult to spot.  I fear he plans to very carefully use such a list against us in the event of any misdeed.  Maybe I am mistaken, maybe he seeks to atone for his previous little diplomatic incidents and I confess, my knowledge of the customs of this area is quite sparse, but the chap has earned himself quite the reputation. Thankfully, his expertise has been invaluable.  I am glad that he has the strength to back up the force of his words.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2016, 03:06:51 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

Our employer took our requests for provisions.  Mostly food and treatment for weapons and armour.  Nobody is really being specific as to how often our equipment will need to be treated but all I'll say right now is that I'm glad I'm accustomed to proper care of one's arms and the associated smells.  I fear I'd have a frightful headache if not.

I have been granted custody of a hand axe.  It may be magical, may be cursed, may be destined.  Frankly I cannot say but I have been told that it may bring fear to the heart of lupine assailants and may also bring the presence of red-cloaked adolescent girls.  It appears we are going to be trapped in a story again.  I am about as pleased with this turn of events as can be expected but it was insisted that only a representative of mankind should wield this implement and that it should be somebody who embodies the "heroic woodsman" archetype.  Perhaps I should be the wielder of it after all.  I wish the weapon of a true hero were rather larger, I always pictured myself more as the longsword type.  You know, the weapon of a noble, not the tool of a labourer.  Alas.

Sleep came quickly.  I was visited by a most peculiar vision.  A child from our lands, perhaps in his early teenage years, came to our lodging bearing the livery of the Undying Sun.  That gave me quite the turn.  While I am trying to clear my good name with gusto in your ever watchful eyes, word that I still live could have been quite problematic, should it have travelled as far back as Khorsburg.  Worse still, the gent that this lad was squire to knew of my whereabouts too and had been following my actions!  It was then that I realised that you were acting in those mysterious ways for which your kind are known, that there was no way a mortal could have seen the things that his master had seen.  I am eternally grateful, grateful beyond expression, for a direct visitation and while I may not have acted with the appropriate reverence at the time, I would ask that you appreciate that I had only just woken and was still disoriented and not a little confused.

Do you approve of my actions thus far?  I assume you would not tell me directly until the moment of my death and I know that my work is not complete yet, but I feel as if this was a positive encounter.  You would surely tell me in no uncertain terms if you wished for me to buck my ideas up.

Morning came.  Awoke with a sense of anxiety and purpose but that is not completely beyond the norm.  Told my companions one of the many stories I had picked up while researching your teachings, of the time that a prophet of yours faced persecution and was pitted against an entire pack of lions with nothing more than his faith and a loincloth to defend him, yet was able to wrestle each of them in turn unto submission.  I seem to remember that the moral was something along the lines of "even the most insurmountable of odds cannot compare to true faith and devotion" but I fear I did not tell it quite correctly.  Sultan looked rather patronised.  Bolstered but patronised.

We spent some time discussing the best way to have a giant blackbird take us to a tower in the middle of a living forest which is one of a series of towers within a 200 mile area, any of which being possible candidates to hold the child we sought.  I thought we had left the fey lands yet here we are, up to our necks in stories and riding magical giant beasts into an uncertain fate.  I may almost get used to this in time.

We left town, fully equipped and refreshed then summoned what I am forced to describe as a demon.  A blackbird, I'm told, but grown to ridiculous size.  Surely some dragon featured in its parentage which rather brings its birth into question.  It was friendly, however, if a little dim, but for a wild animal it was quite easy to communicate with.  It flew us in roughly the right direction, landing near a body of water which we used to check our bearings with the magic navigating spear that Ukko wields.  A trio of people stood by the water, two clearly undead, one of uncertain species.  I would have dealt with them appropriately but we are on a tight schedule and a child's life hangs in the balance.  If we are forced to meet them again on the return, rest assured that I will send their blighted souls on to their deserved rest.

Eventually we entered the forest.  Damned thing seems to eat magic.  Apparently it doesn't "like" magic.  Absurd.  It is a forest, quite how an entire forest can be considered sentient is beyond me.  Dark, though.  Terribly dark.  Sultan lit a torch and on we went, the trees creaking around us.  Odd that, there wasn't a wind today and we were alone.  We fancied we saw an old man observing us from the undergrowth but he vanished.  I'll not dwell on that, it did not seem of much importance and the dancing shadows make for uncertain apparations.

Eventually we reached our destination, a building flanked by griffins.  I was clad in my armour by this point and feeling far more comfortable.  The old man from before was hung on the gate to the building's grounds, clearly dead for some time.  Investigation revealed he had been either partially eaten or else disfigured for sport.  This seemed like the right sort of place, evidence of undead presence, griffin tower... all good stuff.  I believe this place has been desecrated.  It smells wrong, it FEELS wrong.  Everything about this place is very unsettling and I feel quite uneasy but the rest do not appear concerned.  A good dose of healthy sunlight wouldn't go amiss but then, nor would an exorcism or a brief fire.

Travelling to an unholy tower in the middle of an unnaturally dark forest, wielding an axe from out of a child's book, travelling with a teller of tales, two magicians and two (theoretically) honourable rogues.  At least if this is a story, as is becoming clearly the case, we can all hope for a happily ever after.

Sultan climbed the walls and undid the gate from behind.  Well done, that man.  I am uncertain these days as to whether he is a very resourceful warrior or an unusually brutish criminal, but I surely owe him my life so I'll not press the issue.  We stepped through the opened gate but were overcome with a very peculiar sensation, each and every one of us, as we walked through.  My stomach burned, a curious writhing noticeable from within.  My eyes watered.  The face of the old man disgorged vermin, insects, all kinds of horrendous matter with a retching, wheezing sound.  He was quite dead but not UNdead, I suspect some kind of magic to be at work and since only fey magic seems to operate correctly here, I am suspicious of this place.  The feeling in my gut intensified and I, dignity thoroughly lost, was forced to vomit.  My stomach was filled entirely with maggots and I find myself quite shaken by the whole affair.  Something more than a hot cup of tea will be necessary to remedy this.

It will take quite some time to purge my memory of the events of this day.  After all we have endured, if these foul beasts have injured the child we seek in any way then I shall make the lot of them wish that they had never been reborn; I swear it.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2016, 05:36:38 PM by BioSpark »
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

BioSpark

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2016, 11:54:47 AM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

We seem to be over the worst of the unpleasantness.  I can still taste the damned things.  To think that I ever complained about the quality of trail rations.

Feeling a little shaken from our encounter, we returned to the trail to regain our composure.  I took the time to cut the old man's head free from the gate.  I do not know the first thing about trap finding or disarming mechanisms, nor do I have any knowledge of the arcane but one thing I do know for sure is that removing the operational end of a device tends to disable it.  This rogue business is prety straightforward when you really get down to it.  I then told the party of the coronation of Queen Beatrice Beauchamp, a monarch from a generation long since past.  A rather fine ruler all considered but eccentric.  Famously so.  Insisted on having no fewer than 15 cats of at least 4 distinct breeds in the throne room at any given time, day or night, but would never once explain why.  Even had herself painted with one for her portrait in the family gallery.  To this day, unexplained odours about the castle are attributed to the ghost of old Bea.

As I finished, travellers came up the path.  Most odd, especially as they were carrying an unlit lantern.  Sensing something was amiss, Malus lit the way for them, revealing them to be dead.  Fresh, though, so far as I am able to tell, none of the telltale signs of long term decay.  Hardly worth invoking your name to destroy them when our weapons would do the job just as well.  This axe is rather peculiar, now I come to actually use it.  It feels like it almost wants to be used, like it wants to strike out.  I am a little concerned about that.  Legends do tell of cursed swords and the like that have driven kingdoms to ruin in their lust for destruction.  I really hope this isn't that kind of artefact.  It truly excels when thrown.  It has an uncanny ability to land right where it will damage my foe the most and I could almost swear it accelerates after being released.  The blessed tool can even hit ghosts!  Better still, when it has done its work, it returns to its owner immediately.  I only pray that I never fumble the catch.

I feel like a magical weapon should have a name.  After all, every hero in the tales of old has a named sword or some other notable implement.  It will give the bards some material to work with once it comes time to start telling the tale of our exploits.  I would name it Wolfbane but it seems to be rather better at felling the undead than wolves or even trees.  Deadslayer... well, there's redundancy.  I think I shall name it Ghoulblight.  A little trite, perhaps, but that will do for now.  Just something with a bit of gravitas.

On slaying the poor travellers, having been turned by what looks like the bite of a ghoul, a disembodied voice told us that now it knew what we were all capable of.  That it thinks it can discern that after 2 minutes of fighting terribly outclassed opponents is... interesting, to be polite.  I think it was an intimidation tactic.  I am not impressed.  Hopefully they find the new name of this axe to be personally insulting.  Honestly, trying to act superior while cowering out of harm's way in the dark.  Disgusting.

We started our assault on the tower.  It was a subdued strike.  As we entered the grounds, we noted the tower, a low but large building and a stable with paddock (containing a rather perturbed horse).  We investigated the stable first, figuring it to be the perfect place to launch a flank attack from if left unchecked.  As I entered with Ukko, I quickly scanned the area and determined that it was filled with evil.  At least 8 distinct presences, each coming from a stable.  I was sure of what I had seen and where I had seen it but the rest of the group were not so sure.  After some half an hour of discussing our approach, Ukko took the lead and called down that terrifying moonlight of his.  That certainly got a reaction.  8 spectral horses thundered out of the stable, still on fire, and came around to charge us.  A short invocation of your glorious name dealt with half of them and a couple of sharp strikes with Ghoulblight (I do not think I care for that as a name yet) took the 5th.  Our party took the rest quite effectively.  Sultan proceeded to run for the next building, all seemed fine with that, but he was quickly fired upon from the upper floors.  Problematic.

Currently Ukko has turned himself into a bear and simply run through the wall.  A direct approach, certainly.  I like that.  Sultan has just been revived by our performer and further bolstered by your divine will, so is charging back into the fray.  Doby seems to be enjoying herself (or... you know, I am rather uncertain what Doby's gender is) by shooting wildly at anything she does not recognise.

I suppose I should run in there and start getting stuck in.  It looks rather dark in there.  Definitely not a great strategic move, but much better cover from the arrows.

I fear I am damned if I do and damned if I do not.  I would appreciate any protection which you are willing to assist us with.  This could be a bad one.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

BioSpark

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2016, 01:18:49 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

Well, that was eventful.

With part of the wall missing we all set out apparently on distinct but related agendas.  Mostly related.  When we entered the low building beside the stable, it appeared to be a hunting lodge repurposed into some kind of den or barracks.  Thankfully their numbers were a little low just at the moment.  Ukko took off into another part of the building, I am not certain what for, but Sultan took off at speed in pursuit.  Looking for trouble, I have no doubt of that.  Malus, Ashe and Doby went into the main body of the building and I followed.  The disembodied voice issued further challenges, impressing nobody (rather melodramatic really.  I hope I do not come across in a similar way), then summoned a small pack of undead hounds from the floor above.  We seemed to be rather outnumbered so calling on divine protection appeared to be the correct tactical choice.  I must say, you're rather gifted at the old parry and riposte!  I had been lead to believe you were all about brute force but I've never known myself to be quite so able to deflect blows before!  Simply marvellous.

The dogs were not much of a problem.  I think they got a couple of bites in here and there but I was more concerned with a heavy bang from behind us followed by a hastily retreating man-bear.  I generally assume such things to be a bad sign, especially since Sultan came running after him.  For Sultan to run away, we need a real problem.  While Ashe was busying herself with apparently bringing the building down (not sure how I feel about the rationale there but it worked so I am probably in no position to judge), I fended off the worst of the dog's assault while watching the door carefully.  Sure enough, we did have a problem.  A long-dead noble with the sour aura of the vampire about him.  No, this would not do, a few sharp words and a sharper axe would be necessary here.  Unfortunately the brute was better armoured than a small fortification and it is rather hard to be entirely accurate with a strike from a thrown axe.  I suppose my training did cover thrown weapons but this is a rather poorly balanced tool if I am honest.  Crude, I would call it.  Effective but crude.

Ultimately I would end up grappling with the vampire whose combat ability was laughable considering his undoubtedly superior strength and experience.  He fought like a feral beast, all wild strikes and no finesse.  I managed to hold him at arm's length in a pool of moonlight conjured by Ukko.  Seemed to be causing him no end of distress, that, as he burst into flames and began howling like a stuck pig!  I had been lead to believe that these creatures were dangerous!  But alas, he caught me in a lucky headlock, likely because I had been ignoring him for the past minute whilst attempting to injure his dark master (who had just turned up in a nearby window to chant incantations to support his champion) and proceeded to bite me.  I am rather glad of my resistance to disease.  Sultan landed some quite distressingly savage blows to the fiend and Ashe turned up to offer some much needed support but ultimately it was Doby who would win the day, shooting the creature through the head from no more than 5 paces.  I swear the bolt stopped less than an inch from my eyes.  I shan't forget that in a hurry.

With the vampire gone, we took care of the remaining stragglers, Ukko finished the enchanter and we appear to be done.  That's two buildings down now.  Just the tower to go, I suppose.  The prospect does not fill me with joy, I will admit.

I grow concerned about this axe.  It does not have an ability to discriminate between good and bad wolves, it only wants to kill them.  There was a distinct resonance from it as Ukko shifted to his dire wolf form mid-combat.  I shall have to make sure not to loose this implement in his vicinity when he takes that form as I fear that while I would not be responsible for the consequences, I would be held responsible regardless.  I hope this is the extent to which this tool is cursed.  And I am quite sure that it is cursed, that seems to be rather the way our fortune is fated to fall of late, good with bad, darkness with light.

Please pass my regards on to the god of hunger, by the way.  I do not recall his name.  It lacked importance at the time.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?

BioSpark

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Re: A moment of calm
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2016, 03:15:00 PM »
Noble and eternal Khors,

The bodies had to be taken care of.  The problem with these creatures is that so often it's hard to tell if they've been truly vanquished or if they are likely to rise again at the first sign of a necromancer.  Now that I think about it, we would all be far better off if some of these heathen countries would simply pull out their fingers and outlaw necromancy.  Or just a little regulation and taxation, that would sort the problem right out.  Anyway, the sunlight caused a small funeral pyre which helped enormously.  I was required to move all the corpses myself, Ashe being unwilling to touch the dead (rather unfortunate considering the nature of our foes) and Sultan being apprehensive about doing anything that would result in a fire.  Fair enough then.

As I worked, I relayed a short story about the kingdom of Luftheim.  You'll not find it on any map.  They were affluent and well known as a front runner in medical research with many gifted clerics but were also rather greedy.  They would frequently refuse to provide aid, even when directly approached by needy neighbouring countries.  Poetic justic was served when they contracted a horrendous plague, damned near supernatural in nature, and each nation surrounding them promptly shut its borders.  I believe it is quite a fertile land now, mostly inhabited by farmers.  The way I was told the story was as a harsh moral lesson but I find it rather amusing in a way.  The story was not received terribly well.  Ashe, however, has started accompnying my tales with music which rather fills one with a sense of grandeur.  If nothing else, knowing that we will have no need of the services of a bard is bolstering to the spirit.  Those vagabonds have a nasty habit of knowing their exact worth...

Fire lit, we split our party, half to keep watch, half to explore the lodge.  Sultan came running out after a short while, shouting that a large group of zombies was approaching.  Correct enough, but they do not seem able to bear the sun even while still animated and fell apart quickly.  Conveniently, that also saved me the trouble of dragging them outside.  We were told that the body of a child had been found, causing a deep sense of dread among the group.  The ghouls had converted the kitchen into a human slaughterhouse, quite revolting, and the... "prepared" body of a child was laid on a work surface.  I am lucky to have experienced death in many forms, it desensitises the spirit to a degree, but it was still highly unsettling.  The rest of the house turned up little of interest.  Some trivial sums of money in a vault (barely enough for a weekend of acceptably comfortable accomodation, really), a few items of cultural or religious significance, old books.  Standard fare for this kind of establishment.  However, the upstairs rooms had an incarcerated dwarf.  Thankfully I speak a little dwarven and was able to converse with the chap in his own tongue, which usual goes down well with the locals when visiting their lands.  He had been held against his will by the priest, one of those that we had killed before, and wished for freedom.  Apparently the priest had the key.  I attempted to rally our group into retrieving the key, feeling that perhaps discussing our achievements, particularly the numbers that we had slain, in front of a stranger without any clear indication of his alleigances or motives was perhaps a terrible, terrible idea.  But no, perhaps I am just paranoid.  It certainly would not have been to our benefit to be cautious while a crazed, disembodied voice periodically taunts us and while the taint of primal evil lingers still.

Give me strength.

As I left the building with Sultan, we realised that Ashe had broken the dwarf out of his bonds.  She then busied herself with talking to a unicorn.  Stranger things have happened I suppose and at the very least, it appeared to lack any motivation to slay us which puts it firmly in the upper tenth percentile of my personal list of "species we have so far encountered".  To think, I consider myself lucky to have simply been left alone by a dumb animal.  My standards really have dropped since travelling of late.

Unicorn gone, seemingly in a huff, we considered storming the tower.  It was generally decided among the group that it would be a tremendously bad idea to assault the tower just at the moment.  It was boarded up from the outside (odd), the dwarf had been told that the contents of said tower were above his concern (ominous) and it still REEKS of evil (typical).  We were injured, tired and low on resources.  Sultan wished to continue and press our advantage, having slain most of the creatures here but after a carefully phrased argument and a little divine persuasion, he came around.  I feel a little guilty about magically compelling the poor chap but the ends justify the means.  Ashe was quite right, we couldn't survive another charge.

The dwarf showed signs of vampire attack.  They had ben feeding on him for a while and was showing signs of illness and fatigue.  A little divine energy should put a stop to any future problems he might have.  Think I may have helped us dodge a significant future problem there to be honest.  In return for his freedom, he agreed to accompany us to the nearest reputable alehouse that we might rest and recover.

As we retire for the night, I thank you for your protection and strength this day.  I pray that our next lodging is of better quality.  The tavern's ape (honestly now, what kind of establishment allows such nonsense?) keeps giving me a significant look.

I shall keep my weapons close at hand tonight.

I remain ever your humble servant.

May the light of your wisdom shine always.
I can still tend the rabbits, George?