Elestel

Between a Master and an Apprentice
Interlude after recovering the Draakhorn

Uri was sitting at a simple table, focusing on an open book in which he was recording his thoughts and experiences from the past few days. Other than the table with a second empty chair the room contains only a pair of beds inset into one wall, one above the other, a pair of folding doors leading to a closet, an old beat up pack and other adventuring gear currently sitting up against the far wall, scarred and punctured armor piled next to it and a large walking stick leaning against the wall next it, everything together in case of a rapid departure.

Abruptly and without any ceremony, a young dark-skinned elf steps into the room in a huff holding a piece of paper torn on one side as if ripped from a book. “Who do you think you are to issue me a summons?”

Without looking up or ceasing to write Uri responds to Sarya’s exasperated tone, “First, I think I have been given charge of you as my apprentice. Second, when has a note written on a page torn from a book ever been considered a summons?”

Before Sarya can offer a response Uri continues “Also I think I made it clear in the note that I wanted to speak to you at your convenience so as not to interrupt your tasks involved in the running of this vessel nor your studies.”

As Uri finishes up what he was writing and laying the pen down across the open journal he continues to speak, to the frustration of the young apprentice who is standing just inside the room, the door having closed behind her, mouth partially open with an interrupted response. “Never the less you are here now and it is long past due that we had a discussion about the direction of your research and how best to progress you from an eager young apprentice to one of the youngest masters Tabohr Monastery has ever had.”

Uri looks up to finally look her in the eyes. “I am well aware that you don’t have the warmest feeling toward me after our confrontation before we delved into the depths of Demrim and whatever transpired between you and Andri upon our return. However I thought after our talk before we left on our current journey that we had put some of that behind us after I explained why I had such a strong reaction, that it was not just about me expecting you to do what I asked because of our relative stations and that- ”

At this point Sarya cuts him off in frustrations “Are you planning on letting me speak at some point or did you plan on talking at me again?” Uri stops talking and motions for her to continue. After a few breathes Sarya does. “So you are aware I am not sure if I am going to stay at Tabohr Monastery or not, so you may end up wasting your efforts on me.”

A bit of worry passes over Uri’s face but seems to go unnoticed “Sarya, teaching and guiding someone as talented as you is never a waste of effort, no matter where the choices you make take you. However, if you don’t mind my asking, what is it that you want to do that you feel cannot be done at the Monastery?”

“What I want is to study this ship. I want to unlock its mysteries.” She says raising her arms to indicate the vessel around them. “What I don’t want it to sit in lectures on subjects I already understand or that I have picked up on after the first explanation while waiting for the other apprentices struggle to catch up.”

Uri gives her a crooked smile “Well that’s good because what I want you to be doing, and Andri agreed with me, is to study this ship and to unlock its mysteries. That will obviously entail you skipping the regular lectures from the other masters at the Monastery. This will make it easy to find your unique contribution to the Monasteries stores of knowledge but it offers its own difficulties. This magic or ‘technology’ is so different that you will not be able to rely on much, if any, common understandings from the Masters that will judge your work as you would if you were delving into the workings of the Weave and you could assume that anyone listening would understand the basic principles in play. This work will require you to explain every detail and principle as if no one knew how anything functioned, because they will not. Also it limits how much aid I can be as I will be unable to teach you anything. At best I can help guide the direction of your studies, point out gaps, and help you organize your thoughts.”

Sarya starts “But Captain Stardust-“

Uri continues. “-can help explain the workings of this magic. Yes, I know. But be wary around him, He has so far proven trustworthy and at times seems to have a sense of right and good but I have also seen him threaten to burn people’s homes when he did not get what he wanted. He is also dealing with a lot of loss and that can cause even the best people to struggle and hurt those around them.” The last bit, spoken of with the emphasis of one who knows from experience what it is he is talking about. “But let us talk of other things. If you are to be my apprentice and I am to be your master then we should probably talk and get to know one another and how the other thinks.”

Uri pushes out the second chair at the table with his foot offering it to Sarya. “Did Andri ever talk to you about her Master and her apprenticeship, how she decided on the focus of her studies and continued work after her apprenticeship ended?”

Sarya slowly takes the proffered seat, feeling better that her decision regarding the Monastery seems to be delayed for the time being. “She told me that Master Uri intimidated most of the other initiates and was extremely strict with her, forcing her to live up to the potential he saw in her.”

Uri chuckles at the start of Sarya’s description “I did have a way of scaring most of the hopefuls; I think many of them were afraid I’d have the cleaning latrines and chamber pots for months if they crossed me. However, I have a feeling that would not work with you. And yes I did set the bar very high for her but always low enough that she could reach or exceed my expectations of her. She was a surp-“

Sarya cuts Uri off again, surprise on her face and incredulity clear in her voice “You taught Master Andramia? I thought you were likely a descendant of her former master, named for him, possibly a friend and maybe even a former apprentice, given that you continually refer to her in such familiar terms.“ She pointedly looks at his ears. “You’re human and you expect me to believe you somehow taught one of the senior members of Tabohr Monastery?”

Uri looks at her and gives her a knowing and somewhat condescending smile. “Child, you know things are not always as they seem on the surface, certainly your studies would have taught you that. Consider what your former Master studied and take a closer look at me, not just with your eyes but your head too.” At that Uri focuses his inhuman eyes directly on her.

Sarya takes long moments considering what he has claimed and what he said before thinking through her time with Master Andramia and what Andramia had told her about her early work. As the pieces begin to fit themselves together he eyes go wider ending in a small gasp as the significance of those eyes become clear. “You’re-“

Uri quickly cuts her off with a gesture “I believe you have it, but please keep it to yourself. There are many at the Monastery that know what you have pieced together but no one still living outside of its’ walls knows. It is not something I share lightly or often anymore but I thought it would be a good way to show you how much I am willing to trust you.”

Sarya, awe evident in her voice “That fight should have been nothing for you yet you come back complaining of damaged armor and bruises…” The implied question left hanging in the air.

“There is a lot to my story and I would rather not discuss it here as I believe that these walls may have ears but I will say I am what you see in front of you and what I was is mostly gone.“ Uri starts flexing the muscles in his right hand. “Although some of it seems to be coming back. Now you know a significant piece to who it is I am, hopefully, we can figure out who it is you, Sarya Glynlee, are and what you truly want from life.”

Sarya still a bit awestruck at yet another new and hard to fathom revelation. “Yes Master Uri”
Uri sits back with a smile expecting a long discussion planning out the next couple of weeks of where she wants to start at with her research of the ship.

“Did you really go out of your way to talk to Captain Stardust about my age?” At which point the smile drops from Uri’s face, his cheeks go a bit red and he begins to attempt to stammer an explanation all while Sarya smiles at having caught him off guard.

View
Forays in Egley
Excerpts from the Journal of Uri Tahlomah

After the ship lands
This ship is like nothing I have seen. First it falls from the sky to land safely on the water and then the rocking is such that almost as soon as I walk outside I find myself ready to feed the fish.

To make matter worse, Leeroy chooses now to track me down and begin interrogating me. Apparently he’s more perceptive than he lets one. He saw what I did in the warehouse and has pieced together that I am older than I’ve already let on. If he was less reckless I might be more willing to answer some of his questions.

The night before we reach Egley
Sarya and Stardust have been spending most of their time since the ship hit the water crawling around within it pulling things a part and sticking them back together in what look to be piles of dead snakes. She really does have a knack for this “technology” as I’ve heard Stardust refer to it. I have been leaving her to on her own for the moment as I do not want to pressure her and drive her away from the Monastery. Maybe I’m a bit scared as well. I’ve never been good with people and worse with the very young. I see the time she spends with Stardust and my head tells me I should keep them as separate as possible while allowing her to learn but only a fool would not see that he has real affection for her and means her no ill. In addition he appears to be a skilled teacher; he does not just help her find the knowledge but is able to fuel her thirst for more. That is a rare gift.

As they work together I wonder what will happen when he finds out he’s been teaching someone older than him, albeit still a youth.

At some point I am going to need to sit down and at least outline an outline for how all this information is going to put together. With luck I will find an eager student and not have to go back to Andri and tell her that I drove her apprentice away.

After the first night in Egley
Looks like Delg has been busy. Maybe a little bit too busy. Whatever he is he has no subtlety to him. He’s running around in his absurd disguises making noise and trying to force people to do his bidding which seems to work sometimes but the others he just seems like the fool. Right now the last thing we need is a fool. It looks like we’re going to have to break in to the Builders guild to get a map of the estate. Fortunately the security seems to match what Delg said and Fenius did not detect any magic. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep everything quiet enough to steal the plans and then use the cover stories Delg secured for us to then steal the Draakhorn. If things do go bad I believe Fenius will also be ready to make an escape. I’ll have to remember to make sure Stardust is ready too and then we’ll just have to drag Leeroy with us if we can.

After the fight at the Alchemists Guild
I think I got hit with four different fireballs today. Apparently only Fenius has enough caution to actually aim away from me when he can

Same entry, farther down on the same page
With luck when Stardust gets back he’ll be able to help reign in the insanity.

[an ink smudge on the page as if someone just held a pen over the page and let it drip for a second]

As I look at what I wrote I find it hard to believe.
View
The calm before the storm

The gentle sounds of waves lapping along the length of the hull provide a rhythmic calm to the otherwise chaotic feel in the air. The taste of brine and fresh air mingle on the tongue as the lights in the nearby harbor twinkle hello. Looking above at the foreign sky, the stars look different, so foreign yet so familiar in their constant gaze. The roll of the ship provides a gentle rock that would in better times lull one to sleep with little effort.

The Captain mutters as the task at hand appears to cause more frustration than a reprieve. The sheer volume of work and lack of materials would make the situation maddening for most, even with a full crew. To find oneself in a situation where you’re left to tinker with a problem and discover a workaround might be exciting to some, but when, you’ve been thrust upon a new world alone the frustrations can be insurmountable.

“It’s a good thing the bottles are empty.” The Captain muttered to himself.
“What was that stuff anyway?” Siri asked as she continued tracing a rats nest of cables across the deck.
“Highly concentrated alcohol… it’s usually diluted with water or some other liquid to about 20% of its potency. Have to remember that on long voyages, you have to condense as much as possible.”
“Why would you drink that without diluting it then?”
“Have you ever experienced loss of everything? Not to be dramatic, but my entire crew… my only way home… gone in an instant, then blackness…” He sighed gently as he tightened a coupling and watched a small light switch from red to green.
“Where are you even from?” She asked as she looked up in time to see the Captain quickly hide a look of despair.
“A medium-sized planet called Elara the star cluster Euphrates that I can’t even identify in your night sky. It was mostly covered in water, so travelers decided it was a good enough waystation to setup a port as well as an orbiting starbase. It’s nothing too remarkable and considered by many to be a bit on the rural side of things. I don’t think I even set foot on actual land until I was in my teens… The colonists built platforms in the vast oceans to live and harvest the minerals below. Growing up you didn’t have much choice about living on the sea. Especially, if you weren’t born to wealth. I spent much of my childhood learning how to sail and live on the water, thinking there wasn’t much else… I was so wrong. Around my 14th birthday, my father took me up to orbit to trade… that’s when I saw our planet below. Just a large blue ball, nothing remarkable… I think that’s the same moment I decided I wanted more.” He sighed slightly, and a smile curled at the edge of his lips. “Now look at me… I’m a space pirate stuck on a large blue ball.”

He chuckled to himself at this and just shook his head. Siri saw the pain behind his eyes but didn’t want to press much further as she was sure that the story would continue to unfold as time went by. Pushing too much now might put him off of sharing in the future, she thought. It was going to be a delicate balance to understand this strange being from a different world. But so many questions… so many things that were so quick to come to her mind but when to ask? When to dig deeper. How could she push to learn these things without damaging the relationship? So much was different here, she was encouraged to explore, not forbidden from anything. The secrets that she discovered were met more with encouragement than being told to stay the course and not look beyond what you’re told. The softness the captain provided was more like a father than a teacher. It was one that showed pride when she did well and gave warning when she was erring too close to getting herself in trouble. Almost as though she was a stand-in for something… or someone.

The Captain pulled on a rope that Siri hadn’t even paid attention to. As he hauled it up, she noticed that there was a large net with something squirming inside. It looked like, could it be? Yes! The Captain had hauled in a net full of fish!

“Looks like we’ll have a real meal tonight. I hope you’re not too squeamish as I’ll need some help to gut these. I can make a smoker out of one of the empty water barrels and some tubing.” He remarked with a sly grin. “I have no idea about what species these are, but hopefully this world isn’t too different in what we can eat.”

The Captain got to work putting together a couple of strange contraptions on the deck of the ship. Siri began making short work of cleaning the fish. The upbringing of a child of the forest truly lent itself to the task at hand. Bringing the processed fish back on deck the Captain beamed at his creation. Faint blue smoke rose from the chimney of tubing attached to the barrel. He whistled a happy tune as he began laying the fish on grates layered inside.

“Do we have any lemon? Maybe some garlic? Are those even things in this world?” He mused as he closed the lid on the barrel and checked the fire he had created in the box next to it. “I never know how this translation thing works, does it give you an approximation of the idea I’m thinking of? Is it a direct translation? It’s kind of like, do I see color the same as you see a color and we’ve just learned the name of 2 different colors, but that’s the way we see them…”
She laughed and went below deck to look through the provisions that had been acquired. She knew there was at least some lemon even if there wasn’t any garlic. She had never had to consider what was available at the monastery; it was just taken for granted. Now, supplies needed to be considered and rationed when necessary. This could easily be a bit more of a challenge than she expected. She knew that some clerics could summon the bounty from their gods, but that was less than ideal. The food was always bland and didn’t help soothe the pains of the day. Something about the idea of having fresh fish made her decide that when they went back to port, she would make sure to acquire various spices, things to make food the common language and a bond for those who would travel aboard the Arcadia.

Siri came up to the deck and placed the lemons by the Captain as he was tapping into his datapad.

He looked up at her and smiled, “You’re a gem, thank you. The fish should be ready in a bit. Sit back and relax for a while, we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us, and we can’t make any reasonable progress if we’re exhausted.” He went back to tapping into the datapad.

Captain’s Journal – First night at sea
_I see something in Siri that makes me think of home, the spirit that hasn’t been broken yet and thirsts to experience what life is. I think that in time she will be at peace with deciding to venture this path. I know others may think I have predictions for chasing every lovely creature I see if they only knew the truth and the real reason I yearn to make my way home. I know that once things are completed, I’ll be asking Siri to follow in my footsteps and leave everyone she knows and cares about behind. I would certainly feel as though I betrayed her if I didn’t give her that choice, but I don’t know how I could continue to move forward if she chose to remain. She has shown an aptitude for learning the ship’s systems that took me months to fully understand. It’s like she’s being guided by some voice or hand in the right direction as she delves into schematics and manuals. Maybe the monistaries love of books and research is paying off more than I give it credit… I just wonder how she’ll handle some of the more complicated subsystems that take years even to begin to understand the theory behind them.

I’m really glad Siri decided to come along, I think as time goes by and she sees the real freedom that she can have she’ll adapt to this way of life easier. The life of a monk seems so far from really understanding the true natures of the universe and finding real serenity. What good is a book in reading about someone else’s life when you have the opportunity to write your own story? Sometimes the tale will veer and weave in ways that no author could ever fully anticipate or craft. The mysteries that unfold on the hidden paths which we walk carry more weight than the fine script written in books. While books have the power to remember, they can’t live. You can live vicariously through the exploits and adventures of others, but is that the same? Is it not refreshing to walk along and smell the air perfumed with fragrances both divine and fowl? To be locked away inside a musky library drudging up the thoughts of people who long dead seem tedious. I will admit that scholarship does have merits, but to cloister oneself into such worlds leads to much tedium that doesn’t refresh the spirit._

There was something in his smile; it almost set her at ease. Like a friend who knew what to say and when to say it. The worries of leaving home to come on this strange voyage seemed to disappear. It was strange, when she knew she could just open the portal and go back to the monastery, the distance didn’t seem so great. Now here she was, further than she had ever been from home on a grand adventure. She felt both anxiety and elation at the idea. This was her moment, the chance she had to see and discover things that were never known to her before. This strange man, he seemed to care about her but not in a romantic way. He looked at her as though she were his daughter; it was strangely comforting.

Time passed with both Siri and the Captain relaxing. The thoughts of the troubles delayed as the aroma of smoked fish wafted through the air. The grin on the Captain’s face when he inspected the finished product was nothing less than infections. The plating was simplistic with the only accompaniment being a simple wedge of lemon. The simplicity was part of the charm, the freshness of the fish with the light flavor of smoke combined with the burst of citrus made for something so beautiful tears welled in Siri’s eyes.

“Are you ok?” The Captain asked with a bit of concern in his voice.
“I’m wonderful… everything is so… beautiful,” She said while wiping her nose on her sleeve and a smile on her face. She quickly took another bite and began laughing at how silly she felt for all these emotions that were stirred up inside her. The Captain smiled as they both ate until their bellies were full and the fatigue of the day began to set.

As they finished cleaning up and putting away the remaining fish, the Captain looked up. “Try to get some rest; we’re going to have to run a lot of tests tomorrow. It’s probably going to be tedious, and we’re very likely to find a lot of other issues to deal with as we go.”

As they went below to settle for the night. Siri made sure that the alarms that she had prepared were all active and working as expected. Everything appeared to be for a good night of rest. Tomorrow would bring new challenges that would need creative solutions to solve. A tired mind couldn’t think about the problem and would quickly run against the wall. The best thing was to get some sleep.

Siri couldn’t sleep, she kept thinking about some of the alerts and messages that had continued to plague her as she was trying to fix other issues. Something wasn’t right. Why did this all come so easily to her? Why did it feel like every time she went to find the answer to a question the Captain asked her it was almost at her fingertips before she was done typing it? Something was happening; something was pulling her to look in specific places, to make her consider specific things. Something beyond her, something larger. What was it?

In his quarters, the Captain continued to stare at his console blurry eyed and frustrated. He just shook his head as he contemplated getting some sleep.

Captains Journal – First night at sea, 0300 as close as I can approximate

Ugh, it’s so frustrating, I’ve been looking at this subroutine for hours, it just doesn’t make sense. It’s like it’s trying to reprogram itself… almost like it’s trying to get rid of a virus or a worm snaking through the machine. Is that why Phoenix isn’t coming online? Is it fighting an infection? Could the agents of the Maelstrom empire have infected us? But they were locked up, and the brig isn’t safe to investigate yet, at this point even if they did survive they should have died from exposure. There must be something else… something that I’m just not seeing. I should probably move over to looking at weapons systems and see if I can get some protection setup so that we don’t have to leave the ship defenseless. Siri has been working on taking the alarm ritual that she’s been able to replicate not just from Fen’s videos but also from the actual text. She’s working on creating an alarm system for the entire ship… I think she has the itch not to be confined to the ship when we’re in port; I can’t say I blame her. If we can get the weapon systems back online and deal with any intruders, I’m sure that will give us both peace of mind. I’m about to the point where I’m going to reboot the entire system and see if that helps, it was too dangerous when life support might not come back online, but now the worst case is that we’re floating aimlessly in the water… we should probably do this when we are in port again to pick everyone up and figure out the plan. This will have to wait until then. I’ve got to get some sleep, or I’ll be useless tomorrow when we start testing some of the subsystems.

The Captain stumbled his way to his bunk, hoping the night wouldn’t be filled with nightmares of the journey to end up in this galaxy, or plane of existence… Where is he? Where is home? Do people even know what happened? Does she know? The thoughts crashed around his head like Uri’s attempts to sneak around. They ground on his mind until the sweet darkness came to let him drift off.

WOO WOO WOO” the alarm made its presence known and was quick to inform that it was time to start the day.

The sound ruined the peaceful dream that had started to put a smile on the Captain’s face. It was a dream of her. If only he could see her for one more moment, to let her know that he was still alive. Was he still alive? Had he died, and this is the afterlife? Why did the afterlife have to smell like a combination of body odor and fertilizer?

The Captain stumbled about his cabin, doing his best to prepare for what laid ahead. He was uncertain of how much would be accomplished today, but he knew that it was needed. Slowly getting dressed he punched the button to have a cup of coffee created from the replicator. The alert to notify that food and drink resources were almost depleted displayed, almost as a way to taunt him into action. How could this planet be so damn backward he mused as he took his first sip.

DAMN IT!” Exasperation on full display as he spits out that first taste. “I guess brown water is all we have left… Leroy is going to be pissed when he finds out there aren’t any more chips.”

The captain moved to the galley to see if he could rustle up breakfast and make a general plan with Siri. To his surprise, she was sipping on something that smelled like it might wake him from the groggy stupor he was trying to shake off.

“What’s that?” He said pointing at the cup she was drinking from.
“It’s yurb… most people drink it to help sharpen their senses as well as push away tiredness. I think it’s sort of like the tea that you have programmed in the replicator, but doesn’t taste as bitter.” She remarked, trying to be gracious in the fact he still was so much like a child with his knowledge of this world. Where he understood the complex mechanics and machinery of this ship, he had no real grasp on the things that many people took for granted. Even though he looked like he fit in on this planet, he was still from another world, she mused with a bit of a smirk sneaking onto her face.
“I don’t suppose there’s more? My normal routine is being disrupted by our lack of being able to resupply the replicators. I doubt we’ll ever get those working in this world.”
“Sure, pots still warm, I’d suggest adding some honey a maybe a touch of the milk from the cold box.”
The Captain quickly made a cup as suggested and sipped at it with a bit of apprehension. As the taste hit his lips, he realized that the flavor was very soothing, not at all as rough as what he was used to. Maybe there was some hope for this world; maybe it had the potential to be worth exploring to see what other things might be worth trading. His thoughts raced for a moment with possibilities as the leaden feeling of grogginess left his mind. The acuity that was replaced seemed surreal in many ways. The day had just begun, and now it was time to see what was possible.

Siri and the Captain planned out a few basic tests to perform and spent the remained of the day and into the early evening testing and working to try and see what was possible now that this heavenly vessel was firmly located in the ocean.

*Captain’s Journal – Day 2 a bit past last meal, why haven’t these fools devised working clocks?
*
_This ship… so many fears of what happens if it’s not able to carry me back to the stars… What choice did I have though, either it becomes a floating tin can. At least by bringing it down to this planet, I can buy some time to figure out how to get it fully operational again. Siri and I have begun testing to determine how the systems fare now that we aren’t able to broadcast signals as far. The good news is that we can still utilize our portal capabilities… the bad news is that it looks like the most distance we can get is about 5 miles. This wouldn’t be too big of a deal, but we also have to have line of sight to the sky… even wooden structures seem to degrade the signal enough that the portal can’t be established. Siri and I both should be able to get 2 uses a day out of the portal. I’ve tasked Siri with creating new transponders that we can place in the ports we visit so we don’t have to risk bringing the ship close to shore when we need to disembark or resupply. The goal is to mask the way they look so that they’ll blend in well enough that they won’t be discovered.

We’ve made some progress on getting more subsystems online. There’s a lot that we can’t do until we can find more of the containers that have some of the replacement parts… It’s strange, I’ve been looking over the manifest of the container systems that were ejected, and some of them contained life support systems. Could anyone else have made it out alive? What if… what if… I need to push some of these thoughts from my mind or else I’ll drive myself crazy with what could be, right now I just need to focus on the tasks at hand… The Phoenix AI looks like it might be ok, but it’s not fully operational atm. I think that if I could get the AI back online, we might be able to repair some of the more technical systems to come online quicker with guidance… I just hope it doesn’t lead me to second-guessing myself; I think that’s why we got here. I should have gone with my instinct instead of trusting the AI… I should have put in the course that would have pushed us to a known instead of to a possibility… but the captain trusted Pheonix’s rational explicitly. Why trust the computer more than the pilot? Why have a pilot if you’re just going to defer to the computer.

The others should be about ready to embark on whatever news they’ve discovered. We’ll go to port tomorrow and see what the situation is and devise a plan. Hopefully, Delg hasn’t found himself in some sort of trouble. I wonder about him; there are some things about him that remind me of things I’ve read in that book by that Volo guy… interesting stuff. I wonder if we’ll ever run into the illithids, the gith that they enslaved seem more interesting and I’d love to learn more about them._

View
A Horny Lady!
Or how to steal a draakhorn, part 1

The Chronicles of Chaos, Akilos’ Moon, Week the First
As Related by,
The Great Transmuto!, Fenius Orryn Lythandar Omenwaif Lexipwn Zeddicus Burrowblight Fairbairn Flameheart (GTFOLOLZBFF) Esquire

Day the Fourth,
The dock at Egley smelled of rotting fish and other unsavory fumes, as is common. It was, too me, a kind of fresh air. Despite a curious lack of true demon sign, I grew tired of my vigilance upon the Captain’s vessel. Where were the howling and gnashing of teeth that must needs regale any abyssal craft? Where were the piteous cries of lost souls, born to bondage through the brutal sloughing of their mortal coil at the hand of evil? I’d come to realize that the Captain had hit upon a device of true efficiency. Could it be that a mere twenty¬ souls could power such an immense craft for so long? Uncanny! And yet, before I could discover more, the Captain had pulled the ship from the harbor, as docking costs 15 gold a day. Robbery, indeed, in more ways than one. Still, we had come to see a evil subdued by way of this Draakhorn’s retrieval — for the proffered weight of gold, mind you, and I am little if not mercenary in my predilections.

The priest, Uri, and I rendezvoused with Delg at the appointed residence in the merchant district, after much knocking at the door. The creature wouldn’t allow that its shoddy disguise proposed little else except its true identity, such as it is. It doesn’t seem to realize that a true elf is never that tall – nor so misshapen. The ruse foiled, Delg let us in and related the fruits of its clandestine engagements since our separation. It learned, after making contacts, and reconoitering the Builder’s Hall, that the Draakhorn was likely stored in a vault within the estate of Lord Uthadar. Luckily, a party was to be held at the fell lord’s estate, to which we meant to be … party.

Thus we set out to plan our caper. Delg had managed to turn a certain lord’s mistress to ill humor in preparation for causing a scene – and convenient distraction — the night of the party, while Uri, the priest, and I intended to act as guards for the soiree. Delg would accompany Stardust as guests, insane as that sounded to my ears. The odds of success seemed ludicrous to the point of infinitesimal, however the opportunity for mayhem seemed extreme.

Of course, for such a gem of a plan to function, we needed to get ourselves hired. I haven’t been forced to exert myself alongside the common vermin in years, ever since my ascension to my current title of Great, but I remember the labor pits well, as they huddled amid their stench just outside the orphanage, which also burned to cinders through no fault of my own. Many was the time when Lua Maan (R.I.P.) and I would go down to the pits with buckets of rotten provender and cast morsels upon the wretches from a great height, as they labored in the heat of day. It was a kindness, I know. Especially as they couldn’t hear our gleeful chortling. So you see, well did I know the travails of the common man, for I, The Great Transmuto!, have been among them.

Braced with good cheer, secure in my ability to impersonate one among the squalid masses via a judicious use of the Weave, Uri, Leerpy, and I took ourselves to the guardsmen’s training yard, where the good Sergeant Baz presided over the hiring of men-at-arms for the lord’s party. Unfortunately, there were only two position available. Of course, our elderly swordsman, likely invigorated by unholy magicks, flourished his weapon and attacked the evil wooden targets with abandon! This impressed the Sergeant, and so Uri found employment for a night. Next, Father Leeroy, more accustomed to bringing down the light of Vomera upon a shattered world, did little shattering of his own, as his war hammer missed its target.

You should know, fair reader, that one such as I eschews the use of such crude implements. What use has a Great One of the Weave for such glorified toothpicks? None, says I! Therefore, did I cast a glamour such that all would know that other men are beneath me in skill, or so I made it seem. With the mere wiggle of a finger, the Weave did my bidding, and Sergeant Baz could see only how deftly I handled his pig stickers. And so I was hired along with Uri to “guard” the lord’s party. Unfortunately, our priest was left to find other employment with the servants of the lord’s estate.

Later that day, while wearing yet another face to fool the wrong eyes, I trailed Uri to see what may be seen of the Builder’s Hall security. I could sense no magic within. Soon I caught up with the old warrior, who had found the Alchemists’ Guild, but we were too late to bargain with our special basilisk oil. Upon returning to the safehouse, we discussed the unreliable nature of the Delg creature. Uri seemed not to trust the being, a stance from which I would never attempt to dissuade him. I have seen dog and demon and all manor of creatures between, but not yet have I seen another Delg, sole representative of its enigmatic kind. Who could trust in such? The conversation reminded me that I bivouacked among youth-stealers and those who would treat with fell spirits, the elderly warrior not least among them! But I agreed with his sense of caution. We would proceed carefully.

Day the Fifth,

The next morning, Uri and I left to visit the commercial district again, hoping for better luck than the previous outing. We came upon a shop of “magical” curiosities. I was nowise impressed by the mystic trinkets, their quality of a lesser species than even my own novice attempts in the basement of the orphanage. One could barely claim for them the possession of magic.
While perusing said wears, the rest of our fellows did find us. Unfortunately, it turns out that our good priest, though given to the light of heaven, was too high amongst all that glory to realize when he’d been marked by an unscrupulous merchant. The proprietor, even attempted, with little success, to showcase her mystic equipage by compelling him to smile. I could do naught but dissolve in fits of laughter at the sad event, yet the priest could not manage to leave the store without parting with a bit of his gold! How, by the mysteries of the Unnamed, can a man find a cloak that needs no wind to billow a worthy item of apparel? It’s fascinating, really.
Not long after leaving the gimcrack shop, we made our way back to the Alchemists’ Guild. Strangely, the only occupants in evidence were a pair of guards. Uri sought to sell our basilisk oil, but was rebuffed by the senior, a woman named Kewliza. She made claim that we’d have to come back later to do business, but something seemed strange. Both the guards gave off a feeling of unease.

As is typical, Uri decided it was his business, so he began to gently pry away at the poor skull bashers. It took time, and even an appeal to authority through his association with the Monastery, but eventually Kewliza confided in us that trouble of a nebulous kind had befallen the guild. Eager to see what items might be liberated from the clutches of this backwater, I readily strode into the teeth of the unknown. For what, said I, could befall such a place that we could not handle? We had the aid of a god, the power of the Weave, a demon-tainted immortal, and a Delg. Clearly, we would have the upper hand come what may.

We found the hall deserted, until we came into an anteroom soaked in water. Uri and I moved to a side door, which opened into a kitchen. Uri opened the pantry door and was immediately assailed by a squeal and a cloud of white powder. Little did the attacker know that such minor inconveniences like blindness had little effect on the man. The attacker turned out to be a frightened gnome woman babbling about trolls. In short order, we escorted her to safety before returning to our mission.

When we opened the door to the ballroom, we saw a man sitting at a table gazing into a flask of red liquid, transfixed. He kept asking us to leave, madness clear in his voice. However, we could gain no information from him and turned out attention elsewhere. Delg went off to another side room, and was soon attacked by a guild member! The man was obviously effected by some kind of enchantment, but survival always wins out against the salvaging of mental abuse victims, so we set to slaying the man where he stood. Down the hall from that struggle, I could make out another man mumbling some kind of incantation! So I mumbled back, hoping to disrupt his concentration, but counter mumbled my mumble, the upstart! In seconds the room was engulfed in a fireball, leaving us singed and quite put out. Of course, this did little to aid the enemy, as we dispatched him and his in the next few seconds. You see, occasionally traveling among the demon-tainted has its perks.

To Be Continued…

View
From Ship to Sea!
Or how to train your pet beholder

The Chronicles of Chaos, Akilos’ Moon, Week the First
As Related by,
The Great Transmuto!, Fenius Orryn Lythandar Omenwaif Lexipwn Zeddicus Burrowblight Fairbairn Flameheart (GTFOLOLZBFF) Esquire

Day the First,

As it happened, we were able to extract a greater portion of our fee from Malick than I would have thought possible. That greatly improved my view of his commitment – and the seriousness of our new quest. But really, it doesn’t get any more serious than hunting down those who would destroy you. And now I even get paid to do it. In the end, the Company managed to acquire 500 gold from the man, with another 250 promised even before completion of our task, and yet another 250 gold upon recovery of the Draakhorn. Honestly, I think the task is worth more than that, given that we are to contend with great and powerful interests. But all men die. Especially those who would use my head for proof!

Upon returning to the Monastery, I immediately sought to inform Mistress Andramia of our situation. It was the prudent option, considering Uri had gruffly sped off in the direction of the Library. You see, he’s a taciturn fellow at times. It must come with the withering onset of decrepitude. I mean, how would I feel if I should need to clear the air of dust from my bones with every motion? I suspect it’s the magic that props the fellow up, possibly mediated by the blood of virgins. My father noted such rituals were sometimes performed among the fell. Long have I suspected the elves to number among such practitioners, for who knows what the Treefolk conspire to amid dell and wood? And spare of such environs though it may be, within the Monastery elves yet abound! Indeed, so mysterious is the connection betwixt Uri and Andramia that one could be forgiven for suspecting such a fell pact of blood obtains betwixt them.

But I digress.

After reporting to Andramia, and acquiring new magicks for the ordeal ahead, I joined the Captain and our priest, as all of us seemed interested in what new insights might be gleaned from the restricted portion of the Library.

Upon our arrival, I saw that the pustulent bookwart, Willum, still infested the desk. I schooled my face and, with forthright charm and confidence, announced thusly: “Willum, you repugnant sheepskin monger! Allow me to introduce you to your doom forthwith if you do not allow us immediate entrance as Master Uri has requested. At once, you dusty taint, before I dispel that foul demon pact you call your ‘youth!’”

With shocked obeisance, Willum ushered us into the restricted section’s first floor, along with a clutch of his fellow minders. You see? Even with the hovering ninnies, I was able to confer with our secretive warrior. Uri related that the Draakhorn did indeed call upon dragons, specifically dragons of the chromatic variety. I shuddered; much would I prefer to contend with a denizen of Pandemonium than risk the ire of an ancient chromatic wyrm. Still, I listened, for ever have I faced the darkest corners of my own doom in hopes of averting its dawn.

Unfortunately, we were hounded by the Library’s minders every second. The fools seemed to keep a particularly close eye on me, for some reason. Me, the very model of probity. I was shocked and offended by such indirect libel. They even had the audacity to claim that I, The Great Transmuto!, would stoop so low as to remove several important volumes from the restricted section, as if by theft, whereas I was just collecting them for a good long and peerlessly legitimate read on retainer. Foolish reprobates!

Afterward, Uri requested volumes on various cultures for the Captain’s benefit. Even the Captain asked after simple children’s books, as no one could expect an alien to not someday seek the blood of the innocent at table for an unintended slight, as customs must differ among the star-scattered realms. For himself, Uri chose a primer on Celestial, the tongue of the Captain’s people.

Day the Second,

The next morning, the Captain prevailed upon me to aid him in the requisitioning of provender from the quartermaster, for our journey would require many supplies. Knowing the man’s corrupt proclivities, I fully expected an attempt to clean out the Monastery’s supplies. Mine own itch for the simpler days of the street show called to me when considering his request, and I agreed, hoping to revel in the minor distraction.

In truth, I impressed even myself, for rarely had I fashioned such an immaculate chit. The difficulty and strain of the effort nearly broke my composure, to be sure, but once I neared the end of my labors, the pace quickened, leaving me in relief. Then did we regale the quartermaster with our tale legitimate service to the Monastery, not without some mystic aid from the Captain’s own store of alien powers.

“Good sir!” quothe I to the quartermaster. “See you here this chit?”

“Yes,” said he, his eyes wide. “That’s some chit you’ve got there.”

“Why, of course! We of Celestial Salvage only offer the finest, most reputable chit.”

“I mean,” said the Captain, “have you ever seen chit like this?”

“No chit,” said the quartermaster, glancing back at a pile of chits on his desk, “like your chit, sir.”

“No chit?” said I.

“No chit,” replied the quartermaster. Then most assuredly did I feel a glow of accomplishment.

“Indeed!” interjected the Captain, cutting us off. He knew full well that I was on the cusp of indulging in chitchat. “Now, I shall need a full month’s provisions for six by morning, good man.”

I schooled my face and managed to suppress a guffaw. Small wonder that the quartermaster, beset as he was, managed to talk the Captain down to a mere week’s supplies. Nothing showed the man’s alien nature more than the expectation that such a task could be done.

Day the Third,

The Company met in the courtyard the next morning. Even Sarya, that aged elf adolescent, came prepared to journey with us, much to my relief, for she had proved herself invaluable during our ordeal in Demrim.

But then I was forced to school my face once again, as a Druid made an appearance among us. Who knew what such beings get up to in their trees? I often wonder if the forests of the world would do better without their molestations. Still, I knew from the beginning that our task would require working with treemongers; Carric, as he called himself, looked weak, though I knew he must be a most puissant soilbagger, or he’d never have been chosen for the task.

To the druid’s amazement, we teleport to the Captain’s celestial conveyance. In short order, Sarya found an eligible crate – surrounded by “life signs,” as she put it.

We teleported down to the edge of the crater which surrounded our goal. A band of orcs had happened upon it, and were busy banging away at the invisible storage device. Truly, it amused me to see even their wise one poking at the “invisible hill.” But we had a job to do. When we started discussing violence and mayhem as possible solutions, Carric spoke up, saying he refused to be a part of any bloodshed.

Of course, this just confirmed my growing suspicions of his cowardice, which poured off of him in waves. In the end, we settled on a plan.

I raised my hands, and a rumbling seemed to imenate from the ground beneath us. On the other side of the crate, the ground appeared to split asunder in gouts of lava. Eight eyestalks, crowned by wicked globes larger than a man’s head, rose from the fissure, followed by the floating body of a beholder. The iris of its great central eye seemed made of undulating talons, and the maw that gaped beneath it, ringed with forearm-sized fangs, let loose a roar. As it began to float toward us, the orc band saw what came for them and ran in terror – right into our midst.

Instead of running past us, they chose to fight, which meant they also chose to die, happily enough. To the shock of none, our priest chose that moment to enlighten them with Vomera’s holy fire, removing a portion of their number from contention. The Company scythed through them then in short order, even as I cancelled their wise one’s pathetic attempt at conjuration. For some reason, our warrior had trouble with the last tuskdragger, and I was forced to dispatch it with wizard fire.

Not wanting to reveal my gambit, I stepped over to the illusory beholder I’d summoned and pet the creature, as if on good terms with it. “Good boy, Eyesoar!" said I. "Next time I think you can follow them all the way to their wretched hovels and have your fill, but you should go now.” And then did I send my “pet” back to the Nethers so that all who might spy upon the event should know I, The Great Transmuto!, did rule over such a fiend.

That done, the druid set to righting the crate in preparation for its retrieval. Though it took hours, no one disturbed us. As it turns out, beholders make even the curious shy. A few hours after the midday meal, the crate was righted, lifted up to the Captain’s vessel, and Carric was on his way, flying off into the distance as a bird. I could feel the Weave moving around me at the sight; soon enough I too would be able to do much the same and more. Willum had better watch his words on that day, mark me!

Upon the Captain’s order, Sarya “deorbited” the ship, and she became a sea-faring vessel! Marvelous! I admit a sudden itch to tinker with her instruments, but I know a fell temptation when I see one. I fear our priest does not, seeing as he immediately immersed himself in one of the Captain’s game machines — again. I retired to the lounge, hoping to study a bit more in preparation for our coming hunt, however Uri passed by looking ill to my eye. He refused to answer my inquiry about his health, but I know a sour stomach when I see one, just as I know demon taint itself! And so I infused my stone with the power of internal fortitude. Nowise did I feel need to share my lunch with the denizens of the sea.

View
Return to Maelhaven
Excerpts from the Journal of Uri Tahlomah

Upon Returning to Maelhaven after Researching in the Restricted Sections
Well it seems that the Library had more than they realized on Demrim, we were just missing a number of pieces to put it all together, like the Amulet. What Fenius, Leeroy and I found should keep the Archivists busy for some time trying to piece together the larger picture. They’d be farther along if that pompous Willum had assisted rather than standing their watching Fenius (I don’t think anyone was surprised he tried to make off with a few tomes).
Not surprisingly it appears that the rest of our compatriots are still out, probably making fools of themselves. What is surprising is that Andri is actually not in her office. I’ll leave her to rest and track her down in the morning.

The Next Morning
Well that explains where Stardust was. I cannot say I am shocked that he would try but I will admit to being surprised by Andri. I guess her tastes have changed since I was last at the Monastery.

It seems like Andri already has a pretty good idea of the fallout from the expedition might be and seems to have that well in hand and will be taking appropriate action. Hopefully she will be able to send another expedition (now that she knows what to expect) because there is a wealth of knowledge and history in that city.

After the Party Exchanges information
Well it looks like Delg and Stardust found some more trouble. Somehow someone knows of the amulet and we have a somewhat short deadline. The group wisely decided to ask for assistance but of no surprise the Gatekeeper refused to offer full assistance. I cannot remember ever meeting one that would not be called stubborn. At least Stardust managed to talk him in to providing us an extra pair of eyes so if we disappear there will be a chance of rescue, assuming Andri hears and this Master Imrac does not just leave us to our fates.

After the meeting with Malik
At first I thought this would just be another case of nobles playing games with each other but it may be more serious. First off even these childish nobles would not go about killing each other over nothing. That was a dangerous fight our new ‘friend’ managed to drop us into but fortunately the assassin obviously did not count on Fenius and Stardust’s abilities. Secondly, the Draakhorn. I thought that thing disposed of where no one would get to it. How these children found it is something we need to find out because if they have found the Draakhorn then what else may they be able to unearth. But first we need to secure the Horn. Luckily my compatriots seem willing to take this Malik’s coin in exchange for delivering it to Tabhror (I was not going to permit it to be given to these children playing intrigue games). I’m sure Andri and other will want to study it but that is a problem for later. The last thing we need is for someone to be able to get the attention of a Chromatic Dragon. Right now none seem keen to mess with society but that can change and the Draakhorn is something that might change that. Once I dig up whatever other information the Library may have I think it will be time to gather up Sarya and head to Egley and this Lord Uthadar.

View
Ambush!
Or the Shadow's Death Warrant

The Chronicles of Chaos, Week the Fifth

As Related by,
The Great Transmuto!, Fenius Orryn Lythandar Omenwaif Lexipwn Zeddicus Burrowblight Fairbairn Flameheart (GTFOLOLZBFF) Esquire

Day the First,

I woke at the noise of rustling bed sheets. As is typical for their sordid ilk, I found Delg cozying up to the Captain in a most immodest fashion, whereupon the Captain rose to slink away, belike to a new conquest of ill repute. At least he has taken his celestial crotchworms with him!

My superior intuition tells me that nothing welcome would beget following the Captain at the early hour, but upon rising, I do find the party whole and mostly washed. Delg and Stardust tell of their suspicious meeting with one Master Malick in a bar. This Malick was of a mind to ply them for knowledge of our recent exploits at the accursed Demrim. He even seemed interested in our priest’s new amulet! I’d say word had flown with suspicious alacrity, if I didn’t already grasp the nature of our resident skulker. No doubt Delg had made himself the center of all manner of daring do – the securing of the amulet among them.

It turns out that this Mallick was associated with great wealth, as Stardust followed his carriage by mystic flight all the way to Kompton, one of the wealthiest districts in Maelhaven. Immediately, my mind turned to the possibility of liberating the man’s patrons of their burdensome wealth in exchange for exclusive access to my many potent tinctures and elixirs. Had I only the time, my preparations would have actually worked, but such a minor detail shouldn’t stand between my purse and its rightful share of gold, should it?

In time, we decided against the ruse of employing a fake amulet to impress Mallick, as such a counterfeit could not be acquired in time for our meeting. To my surprise, there was little enough discussion about whether to even take the man seriously! However, the confirmation of his connection to wealth settled the matter for me, and it seemed likewise with my fellows. Surely, he was of little note, but his patrons might be persuaded to our liking.

That settled, we sought aid from the Monastery’s Gatekeeper, Master Imrac. I’ve had scant interaction with the black Dragonborn, all to the good. But despite his fearsome aspect, he was known to be a good man, if short on the sufferance of foolishness. As some of lesser intellect have styled interactions with me “foolish,” I’ve sought to steer clear of Master Imrac’s attention, but I cannot deny that we had good cause now.

Yet, apparently, Master Imrac disagreed with my assessment. I stood well behind the others, placing them betwixt me and any bilious acid spewed forth by the stoic Dragonborn, as he rejected our quite reasonable request for a squad of his finest soldiers to support our efforts. He did, however, release a scout to warn the Monastery if any ill should befall our excursion – and to warn us with a flare if he should see signs of ambush. With that, we accepted his gruff dismissal. All the better to be away from his presence, I say!

The Company met with Andramia next, who shared a suspiciously conspiratorial wink with the good Captain before bestowing upon him a rapier of indeterminate quality. Uri, keen to test the abilities of our celestial interloper, challenged him to a friendly duel. Stardust managed to hold his own, to my surprise. I wasn’t expecting a practitioner of the dark arts to show such familiarity with the blade. After all, everyone knows that bludgeons are best for signing your work, not producing it.

Anywise, we arrived at the meeting place early, a warehouse nestled in the heart of the industrial district. Delg, showing his clearly non-elf nature, had so much trouble climbing to the roof that it required Stardust’s help! I’d call it shocking, but I’m onto the ruse, if not the underlying nature of it. But in otherwise good order, the being places itself outside the warehouse overlooking the meeting. To “cover” us, apparently. I can’t say I’m comforted at the thought.

Within the warehouse, Malik approaches us with two guards at his side. This doesn’t worry me, for I, The Great Transmuto!, am more than a match for such a paltry display of “muscle.” What is muscle against the infernal wrath of the Weave unleashed? I shouldst immolate their pathetic man-bodies to dust and scatter their remains to the four winds as offering to the unending hunger of the Unseen, before they so much as threaten my person!

But I digress.

After all, burning their servants is no way to win free the gold of moneyed interests. But Malik refuses to inform us further concerning his true identity, or that of his patrons, a group he claims is in opposition to dark forces. But aren’t they always? Who sells their cause by admitting to the service of evil? Only the Kardashians, and we all know what happened to that fabled clan. I say “no thanks” to endless wailing and gnashing of teeth! Not that anyone could miss the yearly display of their ghosts’ tortured state. It makes me wonder why any would worship the Evil Ones. Even I, The Great Transmuto!, demonologist extraordinaire, would only seek to bend their servants to my purpose – or defend others against their own dark aims.

But I digress.

It turned out that Malik sought our help in acquiring an artifact of power, the Draakhorn, said to be capable of both warning and calling chromatic dragons from around the world. Then did our ancient warrior, Uri, begin to shake with ill-concealed rage. I edged a bit further back, not wanting to be subject to the arc of his blade. After all, one needs arms to cast spells in most cases, and I knew the time was soon approaching when violence would be the order of the day! Ever is such the course with this Company. So be it; not one among us lacks a wrong in need of accounting in blood.

Unexpectedly, negotiations broke out instead of bloodshed. Even Delg exposed its position, shouting out inanities in order to take part in the dealing. But before anything was settled for true, Malik took a bolt to the chest!

Then did chaos prevail, as figures appeared both above us along the rafters and beside us outside the windows. The warehouse doors creaked open, and we were rushed by brigands en masse. Before I could give them over to their doom, our priest enveloped them in his god’s burning wrath, ending the ones at the door. It always warms my heart when witnessing those who deserve it burn.

Still, some survived this divine display, and so I glued them in time until they seemed to move through treacle. Once they surrounded me and the Captain, he signaled me, and I stepped close to him. A thunderous report shook the warehouse, and I found myself transported to the rafters to contend with an assassin, leaving the broken remains of our previous foes behind. I attempted to restrain her with the sure grip of Maximillian’s hoary hand, but as it sprang forth, the little minx sidestep it. Outrageous! And before I could counter, she set off a foggy cloud from a bolt, blinding me. The Captain, eager to make her acquaintance, refused to allow such an inconvenience stymy him, and so he shot through the cloud onto the roof, risking great injury. I, good reader, practiced good sense and bravely stood my ground against any new threat, protecting all and sundry, as the drama below played itself out.

Uri, not forgetting his previous rage, struck Malik and evoked from the man great fear. I float down to assist in the festivities, only to find Uri in enough control that he is questioning the man rather than tearing him to ribbons, as I’d expected. After all, Malik may have been party to the ambush, his wound only a seeming and naught else.

Soon, the Captain stepped in to save Malik’s guards from sacrificing themselves needlessly for the man. We learned that Malik was one Malik Torgar, a minor noble. He claims allegiance to a group he calls the “Shadow Resistance” sworn to counter the “Shadow Council,” who are presumably the ones who sent the assassins. This Shadow Council, he said, is given over to darkness and imperils the world. Well, of course! What else? There’s always some simpleton power monger or another seeking their fortune by casting the rest of the world into chaos. The mistake this group made is in attacking the one Company who might end them forthwith: The Celestial Salvage Company! Primarily due to the fact that they had the temerity to assault yours truly, of course. There is no better way to mark one’s self for death!

Malik notes that the assassin who fled behind the sudden fog cloud was most likely Alilynn Darkeyes. One wonders how successful an assassin could be when her name is so well known, but why quibble when she’s clearly marked for death either way?

After all, my club may well break before I’m done with all my new enemies. No one tries for my life without cost, and the cost will be heavy indeed!

View
Basilisks!
Or How to Resist the Urge to Purge

The Chronicles of Chaos, Week the Fourth

As Related by,
The Great Transmuto!, Fenius Orryn Lythandar Omenwaif Lexipwn Zeddicus Burrowblight Fairbairn Flameheart (GTFOLOLZBFF) Esquire

Day the First,

Daybreak found us escaped from that accursed dungeon known as Dimrim. Clearly, seeing to the rescue of a poorly-prepared team of scholars was loathsome work indeed. Next time, I shall ask for my fee up front. Who knew acquiring piles of platinum would be so annoying? I mean, liches? Really? I had enough trouble with the demonic in my life without that lot.

Fortunately, the doomsday plague which threatened to escape the dungeon with us was stopped in its tracks via the Captain’s mystic equipage, along with the aide of our priest’s holy artifact, which he’d recovered from the clutches of the Dimrim Lich.

We feared the sickness might spread with the travels of the newly-freed research team, so Friar Leeroy and I flew upon the winds by hippogryph to find them. I took this to mean we should neutralize the threat since we two wielded the cleansing fire which might contain the ancient malady.

After several hours of searching for the rescued researchers, we finally found them on the road headed toward a small settlement. Then were we wracked with indecision; should we set upon them with mystic fire to assure the purging of a great threat to the world, or should we show mercy and restraint, alighting amongst them with tidings of forced confinement and risk of gruesome demise? Finding joy in the notion that mercy now might bring ruin later, I encouraged the priest to land and warn the travelers of their situation and our purpose. I fear they sensed our initial reticence to allow their survival. Still, we had saved them once, so they foolishly acquiesced to our offer of wretched quarantine.

Delg, resourceful Cretan that it is, found a cave for us to shelter in, once we learned that the full complement of quarantined folk could not survive long in the Captains celestial conveyance. In short order, Fubar decided that the company of that ancient crone, Sarya, would be preferred to our august presence. Given the likelihood of eventual slaughter, I wondered why he would leave for such since all he could hope for was a palsied hand and a dusty embrace, cloaked in false youth (most likely fiendish in origin, which would someday require the consumption of souls, mark me), but I digress.

Be as may, I brought Uri scales from my foray about the cave that he declared evidence of basilisk sign! Gentle readers, I have had less reason of late to give in to panic. The Weave has been generous with its power, and so many problems can be solved with fire. However, even I, The Great Transmuto!, gave pause at news that we may share space with the legendary petrifying lizards.

Soon two of the creatures appeared, and the Captain shrouded them in his mystic darkness to prevent our petrification. Immediately, Uri charged into the inky black, and we heard the report of combat. Not to be left out, I used my powers to slow the creatures’ movements, while Leeroy sent a fireball upon them, as we no longer worried for the safety of the old warrior where flames abound. I’ll give the ancient warrior this much: he can take the heat. So I made it even hotter with my own fireball. In short order, the beasts were laid low. As it happened, Uri knew their gullets produced an oil useful for reversing petrification. We had come upon an alchemical bonanza! How often might an adept acquire such materials? It is rare, I say.

Still, despite our success, we feared more enemies might happen upon us, or even innocent travelers we must needs force into quarantine with us, so we prepared the cave to repel any unexpected “guests.” During this time of otherwise convivial toil, Uri made the mistake of attempting a rapprochement with the good Captain, whereupon his peacemaking was rebuffed most emphatically. I believe the quote was, “You fucking tripped me!” And so the eldritch warrior’s efforts were for naught.

Day the third,

Two more days passed, beyond the time of onset noted in the works of the Dimrim Lich, Vaddon Ashworker. None had grown ill, so against my itch to slaughter them all for the good of the world, we decided to release them and return to the monastery.

Uri voiced his displeasure with the insubordination of the Captain’s pet hag, Sarya. Noting with interest a path to wheedling the ancient skull-basher, I argued in her favor, publicly recognizing her usefulness, though the Curator gave more weight to Uri’s arguments. This was no surprise; the aged often hold each others’ counsel in matters of pompous rigidity.

Predictably, Delg and that reprobate, the Captain, wandered into out for a night of debauchery amid pub and pints. I will not regale you with their buffoonery, except to say that their later reports suggest that our exploits have found notoriety among certain of the public, including a shady fellow by the name of Malik claiming an interest in Leeroy’s holy gimcrack, knowledge of which Delg did not divulge.

More useful pursuits were left to the priest and yours truly. Uri sent us to the restricted section of the Library, which I will freely admit made this humble demonologist’s mouth water. Could I find a collection of fiendish true names? Were there records of various immoralities foisted upon the damned of Pandemonium? Can a swallow of any breed truly bear the fabled “co-co-nut” from distant foreign lands upon its migration? The answers to those and other weighty mysteries seemed on the cusp of discovery.

And then we were confronted with that laborious half-wit, Willum the elf, a Library clerk. You’d figure an ancient steeped in the dark arts of demon-powered youthfulness would at least have the dimmest clue about how important my research was, but no! Instead, he whined and moaned about how I’d previously pushed things too far in my attempts to access the area. Even upon the revelation that I bear Uri’s token, he resisted, the impudent fool! It took all my considerable powers of discipline not to incinerate him where he stood.

However, just before my wrath boiled over, Uri showed up to vouch for our admittance. In a shocking display of mental dotage, Willum gave into the old warrior’s commands! I reminded him via obvious gesticulation that I’d been right all along about the power of the token I bore and made sure in no uncertain terms that the wretched elf knew he’d been the fool, for I, The Great Transmuto!, had declared the value of said token. And who was he to gainsay such credit?! Outlandish!

Needless to say, the old fool spent his time bothering us at our research, looking over our shoulders the whole time. One day, the Unnamed will grant me the true power of changeling touch, and Willum may well find that his days as a man-shaped forest frolicker may be adjusted to fit his true inner-self: a toad.

View
The Descent into Demrim
Excerpts from the Journal of Uri Tahlomah

Resting in the Lab
Well we’ve found most of the research team. There are only two still missing and it appears as if they have been dragged deeper into the city by some intelligence. With this many undead it is likely a Lich. This could be a problem, especially as there is little discipline amongst this group and they appear to be expending themselves at a rapid pace. At this rate they are going to be exhausted which will leave me Delg and maybe Fubar to pull everyone out alive. Worse yet none of them seem to have any particular strength against the undead, so we just keep hacking them to peices. Thankfully Delg seems to know how to track as well so hopefully we can find the last two members of the research team fast and get out before people wear out.

On that note about Delg, I must say that despite his off putting nature, and whatever secrets he’s hiding behind the masks and disguises, he is a very skilled professional. It is a bit of a relief to have another one of those around. Stardust is out of his element and has no clue what we’re going to be diving into. At best I hope he doesn’t get us injured or worse. Leeroy is still reckless (as if being hit by his fireball did not prove that) but he’s better and he may be crucial here, most clerics have some way to at least turn away the undead if not outright kill them. And Fenius is well Fenius. I knew what I was getting into with him at least but I did not think that meant undead. I really hope I can keep him alive long enough that he might be able to help me.

After Searching the Lab
Talk about old, this journal was written in a dialect of dwarven that predates anything I have encountered, fortunately (as annoying as it is to admit) Stardust’s magic was able to translate it. It confirms that this in fact Demrim. That is good news for Andri as it means her team was sent to the right place and that this place could be a store house of untold knowledge of that era, preserved in its isolation. Unfortunately it also explains why the place was sealed and lost. This plague needs to be taken seriously. Hopefully it has not already claimed the research team, which we need to make sure are quarantined on Stardust’s ship, and our merry band of children. I should be fine, diseases generally don’t impact me but the others are not that hearty, with the possible exception of Fubar.

A few paragraphs later
This amulet is something else. It bears a symbol of Vomera and it seems drawn to Leeroy, even reacting to him. Even if the previous bearer of it could not use it to cleanse the plague maybe this reaction is a sign that another may be able to cleanse it.

A few more paragraphs later
Well forget what I said about Delg. That abominable fog cloud nearly ended me and seemed to have no impact on the undead monstrosity we fought. Based on his reaction and what he said before Stardust took out his jaw, that was Vaddon Ashworker or at least what was left of him. He seemed obsessed with the disease and was going to use the members of the research team that he captured of test subjects. We need to be careful because they may already be infected and we cannot let the plague get out. Now that we’ve found these last few we need to catch up and make sure the rest of the team is isolated until we know what’s going on.

Overall I have to say this group of individuals did better than I gave them credit. Many others’s I’ve traveled with would have gotten themselves killed and likely doomed the researchers. They may be children but they are figuring out how to handle themselves. A few more decades and they may be a force to reckon with. I hope I’ll get the chance to see it. Leeroy came up with a way for Fenius and I to see (I hate being blind) and they held themselves back enough during the journey to deal with Vaddon’s little helpers. And as annoying as I find Stardust, seeing him take a shot right at Vaddon’s face was funny. If the ascent is like the descent Fubar and I should be able to shelter the rest of the group with basic weapons until we reach the surface. Once there I am going to have to take a look at that amulet and more time with Vaddon’s journal. Thanks to Stardust’s deciphering I think I’ve figured out the changes in the language over the years and can read it. . These are truly great finds. These artifacts should also help Andri cement her position.

View
Text data log from acting captain Stardust

Siri, focus on the life support systems and recall the communicator that looks like it’s on a boat. There may be an issue with the charging pack and it needs to get some charge. Start checking power consumption levels on the communicators in the wild to see if they are discharging at a normal rate or look to be going to fast. We may have to cycle some of them so that we can keep opening portals when needed.

Siri, I know it’s a long shot, but try focusing the mineral scanners on the point that we entered this cave. See if we get lucky and find any signature of any of the materials that are listed in the engineering manifests. My notes on what was in the only container that I’ve been able to activate are in my home folder. Password is “Hunter1”.

Siri, I forgot to mention. Good job. You’re a quick study. Once the ship is crewed and stable I’ll teach you how to fly it. No creepy stuff like that Uri guy… I still can’t believe he would just randomly trip a stranger with a stick… what a jerk.

Siri, sending over video of Fen doing this weird ritual. See if you can clean up the feed and load it into the hologram index on my data pad. I should be able to replay it and create a hologram of him to get the same effect. There may be some variables that the ship can decode so I can change things. He said it’s an alarm and will send him a notification if it’s tripped. I’ve rigged things like that with motion sensors, but I’m hesitant to leave too much gear behind until we can get material replicators online. Btw, plug in option 43662 on the food replicator – it’s a dish called Sluvarian Cheesecake. It’s one of the closest recipes to what it’s supposed to taste like.

Siri, I know it’s not your real name. We don’t usually go by our real names. It can lead to trouble for those you care about… especially when you don’t have anything to trade for goods on a foreign back water planet.

Siri, sending back a single survivor. Should be back within 30 minutes of this message. Make sure you get one of those blasters reset and coded to you. It may sting a little, but it’s got enough firepower to at least give you a fighting chance. His name is Henry, once he cleans his pants start looking at putting together quick extraction gear so that we can get out of this pit faster. Who knows what we’ll be hauling back and we may need to get it up to the ship quicker. Also might be worth trying to set up repeaters to boost the signal as we go deeper into this complex. Do me a favor and see if you can get one of those researchers to send you all the info they can on this place. Old maps might be helpful as it doesn’t look like it’s been touched in ages.

Siri, I was thinking… there might be a way to stabilize the life support system for the number of people we’ve been hauling up. It would require boosting the feed power to the oxygen scrubbers and also getting the hydroponic food growers back online. There should be a botany manual in the cultivation run book. If you can get some of those lanterns they had at the book store I’m pretty sure knocking off the main lights will save 3% of energy production from the reactor. Go ahead and kill the external running lights. No reason to waste the juice since no one would be looking for a ship over this planet.

Siri, one of the guys mentioned these things are weak to radiant damage. Can you check on if it’s possible to modify the cells on these blasters to different formulas. One of the old crew guys used to tweak the wave settings to cause burn wounds so there’s got to be a way.

Siri, we sent back the bulk of the people we were sent to find. 2 or 3 members remain. Hopefully they’ll make it back but we don’t have time to escort them to the opening. We dealt with a few of these corpse things. <attached>. Get me any info you can on this stuff. Weakness and strengths would be helpful.

Siri, in case you start looking through the star charts, let me stop you. The space we plotted and jumped to isn’t charted. This place was a 1 in a million jump. The warp phaser wasn’t fully aligned when we made the jump. Hence the bodies in the walls. It was pretty much the only way to avoid a small intergalactic incident. The other downside to the jump was it caused a bunch of the old captain’s “buried treasure” routines to fire. Basically jettisoned all the storage containers to the orbited planet in the event we had been boarded. If we can get this thing running well it’s going to be a whole new adventure to make it back to charted space. Keep up the good work kiddo. Also if you decide to stick around and hit charted space, remind me to take you to the intergalactic cafe that has the best pizza. The stuff in the replicator is trash.

Siri, remind me to get some more booze. Being sober after dealing with the past few weeks is not fun. I really need a vacation.

Siri, do me a favor and let me know if you get any of these. It’s probably majorly delayed but at least it let’s me know things are working.

Siri, you should see if you can get another crew member sent up that can help you out. I know I’ve thrown a lot at you but there’s no way I can get this thing running solo and get the necessary equipment for the repairs. Seriously, ask if they’ll send you someone. Preferably with some martial experience to make sure anything coming through the portal is expected.

Siri, in case you’re wondering. I was the helmsman of the ship before the entire bridge crew died. The fool ruse might be up after we get back. But it’s mostly served it’s purpose.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.