The Hollow Man

Hunting Blackheart and the Andromeda
Session 7, Our first actual combat!

It was 2 weeks at sea before we closed in on the Andromeda. 2 weeks of practicing swords and brawling with Mick and Tychus. 2 weeks pouring over maps and plans with Marik and Mick. 2 weeks of feeling at home on the open ocean, even if it wasn’t my ship.

We saw the Andromeda on the horizon, but unfortunately, he saw us, and turned and started to run. We had plans for pursuit – which quickly fell apart as Sharra’s weather witchcraft and raw power sent the Riza plowing ahead of Beauregard’s should-have-been-faster ship. We decided to ram them from behind, but at an angle – Doc described it all with a lot of fancy words, but the gist was, it would do the most damage to the Andromeda and the least to the Riza.

His plan left both ships at an angle to each other that prevent either ship from using their cannons to full effectiveness. We began boarding the Andromeda, although Rage and myself both bolted to the crossing line so fast trying to be first that we slammed into each other. With Doc and Etrix in tow, we made the crossing, landing i the first deck down of on the Andromeda.

We made our way up to the deck, finding Blackheart at the wheel, and guarded by 2 archers, his first mate, and a wizard.

[in progress]

View
In which we made ourselves a side quest
March 15th Game

We sat at the table. I let Matt do the talking. He spluttered with annoyance at Marik’s demands. He hemmed and hawed and finally looked at each of us. “Do you need to go to that island?”

“Yes, I do.” Everyone was in agreement

“Fine.” Matt looked to Marik, “Then I’m calling in my favor. It’ll take too many favors to get that many mages anyways.”

Marik nodded, “Are you sure? Call in your favor, and I still want Beauregard gone.”

Matt frowned and hesitated but finally agreed. They shook on it.

We left with Matt back to estate to discuss our options. Tychus, Etrix, and I proposed drugging or enchanting the first mate in fearing the ocean permanently. Doc proposed drugs just to make him very ill. The catch was finding some way to permanently remove him from first mate, since most our ideas were only temporary. We debated for some time, ignoring Matt, who didn’t like any of our plans to otherwise incapacitate a highly ranked lord. Matt left the room at some point to stop Sharra throwing carpets out a window to see which one flies.

When he returned he finally interjected that he could instead send Beauregard on a mission, getting him assigned as a ship’s captain of his own for it. Apparently in the military, once one takes a captain position there is no returning to first mate. It would permanently remove him. Matt looked through his files and removed one from the top.

“Vyrilla’s most wanted” he said, “Blackheart has been terrorizing and harassing merchants for a few years, but a year ago he stole the flagship.”

“So that’s why they made a new one, huh.” I hadn’t heard that one yet, though I had heard of Blackheart. “Didn’t realize that was his ship, but not even the hardest of privateers will trade with him anymore. He’s killed almost as many pirates as he has merchants.”

There were murmurs of agreement from the group.

“I heard he got his name because, if he doesn’t burn the whole ship, he leaves a corpse with a burned heart tied to the mast” Tychus offered. I shuddered.

[need to add other traits here]

“So, we send Beauregard after Blackheart, with his own ship.” Matt summarized. “It’ll keep him gone for a while, and he can’t go back to being first mate.”

We all shared glances for a moment.

“Or…we could go after Blackheart.” Tychus offered.

“I would settle for the previous flagship as my new ship!”

We were all in agreement, that taking down Blackheart was our next plan, then we’d go to the island on my shiny new ship. Matt spent the rest of the afternoon and evening writing a proposal for the king, that we would go after Blackheart, we knew where he was, Beauregard would need his own ship as captain to be our backup while we went on the flagship, and a list of supplies we would need.

As a small favor for Matt, I agreed to say nothing to Marik that night. Matt wanted to see the look on his face.

The next morning we took the proposal to the King. He read it over, and asked in disbelief “You know where Blackheart is?” We nodded. He asked again. “Well, you have impressed me. Here I gave you two months off and yet you’re back within two days with a self-assigned mission to find Vyrilla’s most wanted! What else do you need?”

“An additional crew of mages for the flagship” Matt replied instantly.
“Access to the mages academy” Etrix replied
“My glove removed” Tychus held up his hand
“The old flagship.”

The king held up his hand “Bring back Blackheart and we’ll talk.” He said to Tychus (did he? I don’t remember the reply here) and Etrix. “The mages aren’t a problem.” He said to Matt. “Beauregard would rightfully take the old flagship Andromeda if it is recovered.”

I frowned.

“However, Beauregard’s ship would be in need of a captain, which might bear some discussion.”

I suppressed an outright grin, and nodded. “Thank you your majesty.”

We left with the signed proposal in hand, and headed to the docks.

Matt marched up the gangway first, in full Rage mode. He spotted Marik and told him to have Beauregard brought up.

He handed the proposal to Marik without a word, proud smirk suppressed with practice.

Marik read in silence, growing more serious. “Well, then.” He looked at Rage. “You should read it, Captain D’Mentri.”

Beauregard looked at him with confusion and took the scroll. His face grew redder and redder as he read, with anger and annoyance.

“We’ll make preparations to leave in a week then.” Marik nodded curtly. He caught my eye as he spun and started barking new orders his crew. I winced – he wasn’t surprised, he was annoyed and concerned with what, I suddenly realized, was a highly dangerous mission.

View
A dinner party
[Session 5] In which Easton is actually surprised to learn something.

From the point of view of Captain Baylee Kittiwake.
[Brackets denote events she didn’t witness herself, added just for tracking.]

The next morning I took advantage of being a “Hero” and had a warm, long, bath before meeting at the dock. I can get up early if the sea is involved. Always busy, Portside seemed even more chaotic than usual, the crowds larger. Waiting for the rest of the group I listened to the murmurs of the crowds and gleaned that the flagship of the navy was in port.

By the time the rest of my crew – plus the wizard – had arrive and we moved closer to the piers I caught sight of it. Massive 3 tiered sails flew the bright white and maroon flag of the King. It had launched just a year ago and was said to have a specialty team of 3 wind witches who moved it faster than any known ship, and a prow lined in metal and made for ramming. I had heard it had a new captain promoted just as the ship was christened, but hadn’t heard who as I wasn’t in port at the time. And who cares – the best navy ships are the ones I never meet.

As the group mused over the chaos I only half listened, instead watching the crowd, looking for ship flags (or the lack thereof) that I recognized. A few well known merchants. One small time smuggler. None of my primary competitors were in port – but given the flagship was here that wasn’t surprising.

As the group talks, I scanned the crowd and noted Rage watching us. Some spymaster he is. The wizard noticed too, and though we both ignored him, Rage sauntered over anyways.

“So, what are you all doing here?” he asked.

We sputtered. Doc offered a half hearted lie “Just wanted to get some air, been a while since we were near the sea y’know?” rage obviously didn’t believe it. Eventually we admitted we needed a ship, to get to the island of Matrinal in search of a few things.

Surprisingly Matt agreed to help us without further interrogation – which honestly is a terribly sign and means he has some sort of plan, and wasn’t at all surprised by our quest, which means he was having us followed. “I think I know a Captain, if Sugarbottom’s in port”

“Wait who?” we all laughed.

“An old friend, it’s a nickname”

“You have to tell us that story!” I declared.

“You’d have to buy me at least 2 drinks for that one.”

“DONE!” I immediately the group to the nearest bar, but lost Sharra in the process who ran to a nearby merchant ship which was in the middle of unloading a bunch of fancy woven rugs. She was still searching for a flying carp. I sent Tychus to fetch her before she got arrested (again).

In the bar I ordered a round of shots for everyone – 2 for Rage and myself. After two he shook his head. “No I can’t tell that story”

“Fine, drinking competition. First one to fold tells an embarrassing story.” I knew I couldn’t lose. And I didn’t. Matt proceeded to drunkenly tell of us one of his first military missions, in which his group was sent to a small village to defeat a hag. Instead they were captured by the hag, who put his friend on a tray and prepared him for backing by sprinkling him in powdered sugar – hence the name sugar bottom. They did ultimately defeat the hag but the nickname stuck.

Before we could find him though, Matt needed a while to recover. Instead the Doctor offered him a vial of his patented “hang over remedy” elixir. There’s a reason I let him stay on my ship.

We left the bar, Matt leading the way towards his carriage as he said “Ok, let’s see if we can find Captain Corstein.”

I stopped so suddenly I tripped, stumbling and catching myself. I looked to Sharra, who clapped her hands with giddy excitement and ran to catch up with Matt. I stood shell shocked. Doc stood beside me in silence a moment before offering me his pistol. I stared at it a moment then shook my head and pulled my flask from my hip for a long, long sip. Then I followed the group to the carriage.

Matt, apparently oblivious to my reaction, insisted we all go get bathed and cleaned and back into the fancy clothes he’s bought us all for meeting the king. I resisted weakly that I’d already bathed, but it didn’t matter. Sharra became trying to braid my hair. I swatted her off.

We spent a few hours at the baths being cleaned and groomed and made “presentable.” I spent the time fending off Sharra’s braiding efforts and brooding. I wonder if Marik’s forgiven me for stealing the necklace right off the diplomat he was escorting to Vyrilla on his last ship. Captain of the flag ship is a large step up in the world from the smallish ship he previously was caption of. It’s been over a year, I would put forgiveness at a 50/50 chance.

We are herded into a carriage and taken to Matt’s local apartments in town, where he’d decided to throw an impromptu dinner party to introduce us. I think he just likes showing off.

Rather then let us mingle in the slowly-filling ball room, Matt puts us off in a study until we’re to be announced. In the study I sulk and sip from my flask –especially after Matt declared I was limited to only 2 drinks at the party. Tired of fending off Sharra, I let her braid my hair and place a ring of flowers on my hat. Doc goes through the books in the room, tossing several into the fire and pulling pages from others, muttering about them being wrong and useless. Sharra sits on the ground, dress fluffed about herself, and begins to flip through an artists sketchbook. I watch as she begins to correct and add to the sketches on the pages with a faint grin.

We are finally allowed from the room, and Sharra takes the manservant with her on her arm as her guest and dance partner. He looks shocked, but is apparently mute as he says nothing about it.

At the doorways to the ballroom, we wait as Matt makes a speech about our heroics and the king and blah blah the crowd eats it up. He steps aside out of our view, and his staff begins announcing us by name, title, and with something about our roll in defeating the evil wizard. He starts with Etrix, then Doc Moritz, then Tychu, the lordlings first of course, then Sharra, and finally myself. I sneak one more sip even as I hear my name called.

I momentarily debate turning and fleeing from this entire display of pomp and ridiculousness. A moment of awkward clapping falls to silence, before a servant pushed me from behind. I stumbled but caught myself and turned it into a saunter forwards finally. My eyes sweep the room, purposefully avoided Marik for a moment.

My entrance made, the music starts up again and the crowd begins to murmur and chatter amongst themselves. Over the din, I hear “NO! It CAN’T BE!” and it sounds like it comes from Matt. What I don’t see is Marik dropping his wine glass – and a servant catching it and returning it to his hand, this happens several times. Matt’s look of complete and utter shock from realizing that his friends “love of his life” is the pirate captain he’s worked with on-and-off the last few years, and that he now knows way more about Baylee than he ever wanted to.

Begrudgingly I enter the crowd and head towards Matt, who stands besides Marik, a look of complete disbelief on his face. Even as I walk towards them, Sharra flounces onto Marik in a hug. He looks confused and shocked, extracting himself from her arms and holding her at arm-distance for a moment before saying “Sharra?!” She grins, “I KNOW it’s the dress!”

“Well you look quite pretty.” Marik says with a smile, and she’s off – dragging the manservant with her to dance.

Flustered and completely thrown off-guard, he stares at me. I offer a slight nod of my head. Matt grabs a drink from the nearest server and gulps it down.

“So….Sugarbottom?” I smirk.

Without looking, Marik punches Matt in the arm.

“So how are you?” Marik offers weakly, looking to immediately regret the question even as it leaves his mouth.

“So, flagship captain?! You should give us a tour!” Matt offers with an uncharacteristically awkward change in topic.

“I can do that.” Marik says to Matt, but not taking his eyes off me.

“How about tomorrow, what are you doing tomorrow?” Matt’s grabbing another drink from a passing tray and draining it. I reach for one myself, at the same moment as Marik, hands momentarily overlapping each others before he moves his to a different glass to take.

“I can do tomorrow.”

“How about…”Matt pauses, glancing at myself, Etrix, and Doc. “Noon. Let’s do noon.”

“Alright, noon. I’ll give you a tour of the Riza.” Marik confirms. He sets his half-finished drink aside and offers his hand to me for a dance. I pause before accepting. As we move off, I hear Matt remarking “Go on Butterfly” and whip around, glaring daggers at him despite blushing furiously. They are apparently better friends than I had realized.

We leave the Doctor, Etrix, and Matt together and move to the dancefloor. The trio stand there watching us with growing surprise. [Etrix looks at Matt and asks “So you think they know each other? That’s good right, it means he should agree to take us to the island?” The Doctor and Matt exchange glances, and proceed to use a series of sea metaphors to describe the two Captains histories. Docking. Engaging in business. The land lubber doesn’t get any of them.]

We started to dance, falling easily into a rhythm together. The music changed to a tango – and I caught sight of Matt over at the band telling them to do it! Marik and I smoothly changed step, our dance skills earning us a large opening on the dance floor. I caught sight of Matt’s open-jaws stare of shock.

[“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Matt this surprised before” I offer after a few minutes of silence.

“Me neither, he’s hard to surprise. Goes with the job I think.” Marik glances at his friend. Despite the Spymaster gig being a ‘secret’, everyone seems to know. “How long have you known him?”

“Few years, almost since becoming Captain. At first it was little jobs, then bigger ones.”
“Hard to imagine you working for the crown.”
“As long as the price as the right, client doesn’t matter. And Matt always pays.” I pause, interrupted by the dance. “I’d ask how long you’ve known him, but I heard all about Sugarbottom this afternoon.” I grin, meeting his eyes. Marik laughs. “It did take half a dozen drinks to get him to share that story at least.”
“Which I’ll never live down. It’s alright, just call him Lady Razzle Dazzle.”
I falter a step in the dance with laughter. “Razzle dazzle? Story time!”
Marik proceeds to tell me how Matt dressed in drag in order to complete a mission. It’s a side of the Spymaster I haven’t heard of, and it’s hilarious.]

Hours passed, and we chatter, dancing as artfully around important topics like stealing from his passengers as we did around the dance floor. Another change-your-partner dance started. As we swirled across the floor I stepped up to a new partner to find Etrix, who had been dancing with Lady Marilyn Wistern. She crossed in front of me, faltered, and whirled to face me shouting “YOU!”

The music stopped, a few dancers bumping into each other as Marilyn and myself stopped. Oh, I knew her. Former dockmaster, she’d made me her nemesis. She tried so hard, for so long, to catch me smuggling goods into port, but I’d outsmarted her every time. The last time she’d been held responsible for falling to find the criminal that had stolen goods from another ship, and been forced into early retirement. To make matters worse, her son had run off to join a merchant marine ship, in part due to the stories about me.

“YOU! You’re no hero! You’re a THIEF” She laid into me, getting louder and screeching. The crowd fell silent, staring at the fight. I only smirked, “You must have me mistaken – “ She didn’t let me speak, she just yelled, pointing at me, getting closer. When she started to jab her finger into my chest my hand fell to my sword and I growled at her to back off, but she kept it up.

Before it could explode into a fight however, Marik whisked her off – gesturing for the music to start again. They disappeared into the crowd of hesitant dancers as I fell back. A few minutes later he returned, and Lady Wistern left, fuming, but clearly chastised from whatever the naval commander had said.

Taking our queue, Marik offered to escort me home. I talked him into taking me to the Riza instead to ‘christen’ it instead: his room, his office, the crow’s nest.

The next morning, I was up early – because Marik was. Military timing, he’s up at the same time every morning. We didn’t speak, speaking always gets us into trouble, instead we watched the crew cleaning the ship and the hub-bub of the port in amicable silence while Marik did some paperwork as well.

By the time the remains of my crew, the Etrix, and Matt arrived, I was dressed and presentable and sipping coffee beside Marik at the top of the gangplank. They all looked a little surprise that I was awake (and sober) and waiting for them for a change. I can see the light bulb go off over Etrix as he finally puts it all together and exclaims “OH, DRYDOCKING! I get it now.”

Crew had put together a table with linen cloth and breakfast spread on it on the deck for all of us. We sat down, and Matt began to butter Marik up.

“What do you want?” Marik interjected fairly quickly – he knows Matt too well.

“Well we need a ship to take us the island of Matrinal.”

“Why?”

The group floundered, everyone trying to explain only part of it. I said nothing. I was NOT asking Marik for help. For starters, I refuse to owe him a favor. Eventually, they explained that we were in search of dragon eggs, reagents, and other items.

Matt finally called in a favor to get Marik to agree. But Marik wants payment, an extra set of sea witches for his crew, and to have his current first mate replaced.

View
Island Matrinal

Matrinal is a mid-sized island near The Edge, about a 2 week journey from Vyrilla
It has a cave which opens to a subterranean city, rumored to be home to dragon eggs and other items
The cave area is frequented by earth elementals
The rest of the island is covered in a lot of rare and unique plants, many of which may be poisonous or dangerous
It’s also known for having towering statues, remnants of some ancient civilization long since gone
It has one large shallow bay, which flowers purple at night from bioluminescent organisms in the water. It seems welcoming, but it’s difficult to navigate the bay safely
More recent rumors claim a band of ship wrecked sailors having formed a sort of village and community on the island, and that they may have gone crazy and resorted to cannibalism.

View
A Running TImeline of Backstory Events for Baylee Kittiwake

Timeline
Years back from current

7 years ago: Baylee takes a vacation from the sea, preparing to set the groundwork to take over her own ship. She cons her way into the seaside resort of Lasvey Gahz. There she meets another vacationer, and they have a fling. At the end of the week however the resort has a holiday celebration and free fall, and with much drug-laden tea and candies consumed, Bailee wakes up the next morning to be informed by Sharra (I imagine this is their first meeting actually!) that she and her fling were married last night. She bails from the resort by the end of the day without even a goodbye.

6 years ago:
Baylee has just take control of her ship through a coup. Her crew adores her, she’s a lucky charm for finding items, which turns a pretty coin with those in search of the rare and hard to get. The ship was renamed the Fiesty rose and signed in her name with few well placed bribes. Baylee Kittiwake: Procurement specialist, acquisition expert, Captain. It’s been only a month or two, (I’d place Sharra and Tychus on the ship at this point) when she makes the call to attack a small merchant ship carrying expensive cargo from a remote island. The engagement is interrupted however by a passing navy vessel which enters the fray. In the fight Baylee is knocked overboard.

She blacks out and comes to on a an uncharted island – being resurrected from drowning by her technically-still husband. They spend several days surviving on the island together, during which they actually learn each others true names and professions (Marik being a first mate or some such mid-to-high ranking officer in the Navy), before the Fiesty Rose, having escaped the combat and repaired, makes its way back and finds them. Baylee orders the crew, to their surprise, to set sail directly back for the home and return Marik to port.

Not long after this, maybe even weeks, Baylee is first contacted by Mick Rage about a job. The Vyrillian spymaster knows her reputation, and uses her to procure items.

4 Years ago”
Baylee is hired out by Mick Rage to escort 2 of his lordling-friends and himself to an off-limits island. She returns with a time sword, and one of the lords, Doctor Beckley, opts to stay on her ship and see more of the world. The wizard Etrix returns to shore – a landlubber indeed – but continues to use her services for reagents from time to time.

4.5 years ago:
The Fiesty rose comes across a swatch of wreckage near the edge – the remains of at least 2 and possibly 3 ships. Despite feelings of ill-ease, Baylee stops and sets the crew to salvaging anything useful: metal, cargo containers, the like. They find the scrap of a banner which identifies the ship as the Navy vessel the Gilded Marlin – Marik’s ship the last she’d seen him. She orders a search for survivors. They pull about a dozen bedraggles and nearly-dead crewman from the water, even they all grow more uneasy of what could destroy 3 ships at once. As she coordinates the salvage and rescue operation one of the rescued men begins to make a scene, struggling against Doctor Beckley’s instructions. Recognizing the voice, there’s momentary ship-wide surprise by the burst of uncharacteristic behavior from Baylee, as she leaps the railing from the steering wheel (parkour!) and hugs Marik. Before she can awkwardly brush off her reaction, they’re attacked by a sea krait. They manage a close-call escape with damage to the ship.

Being in the middle of a time-sensitive delivery however, Baylee refuses Marik’s requests to make for Vyrilla immediately to report what they suspect is a krait breeding ground and warn other vessels. Instead, she keeps takes a risk skirting The Edge, using its distortion of time and geography, to make it to the island nation of Jaseun. Remote, Jaseun does not recognize the king and has its own matriarchal system. In fact no one is known to trade with the island, as they do not allow Outsiders to step foot on their land, and in particular men. Baylee however has traded with them once before, having undergone a rite of passage successfully. She orders Marik and his men below ground before they dock, lest their presence upset the Jaseuners. She leaves once the cargo is delivered to meet with their Queen and spend the night as is custom.

Curious however, Marik disobeys, interested in scouting the island for information for the crown, and he and 2 of his men attempt to find a way in to the walled-off village that is hidden from the sea on all sides by jungle. They are caught, bound, and dragged into the center of the village as the alarm call goes up. Baylee is dragged physically from her bed and questioned about Marik and his men. The Queen demands she kill the men for disobeying her commands, which Baylee refuses to comply with, and she is banished from further trade and run off the island, forced to set sail in the middle of the night. Smoldering with anger, she has Marik and his rescued crew thrown in the brig for most of the journey back to Vyrilla, where they are dumped off. While awaiting ship repairs, Marik attempts to make up for some of the damage by convincing the Admiral to award Baylee a letter of recognition (which would help keep further naval ships off her back) and of course, a coin reward, for bravery in rescuing his crew. Despite that, Baylee leaves port without seeing Marik again. (By this point Sharra, Tychus, and the doctor are all on the ship, and Baylee has done work for both the Wizard and the Spymaster)

3 years ago:
A brief run in, Baylee’s ship is boarded by a navy crew conducting inspections for illicit goods outside of Vyrilla’s port. The ship’s captain is, of course, Marik. They make up (and out. And other times.) but Marik still confiscates a few cargo items in a show. His first mate wonders why he didn’t arrest the merchant captain known to dabble in smuggling and illicit procurements, but Marik simply points to her letter of recognize, and that they’re hunting pirates not rumored smugglers.

1.5 years ago
Baylee is hired to obtain an heirloom gemstone necklace by a rich unidentified noble. Her ability leads her the open sea, where they see a navy ship on the horizon. Realizing the ship must be carrying someone who has the necklace (especially since nobles are always engaged in political intrigue) Baylee orders the crew to pull a “broken wing” maneuver: They fake being an injured ship following a pirate attack. The ship drops a damaged sail and rolls up in a hidden cross beam the real sail, puts out broken oars, the men toss animal blood about to make it look that they’re dead in the water. The navy ship approachs and offers aide, and to Baylee’s chagrin is Captained by Marik. She convinces him to lay anchor and give them one day of guard while they ‘repair’ the ship, and in talks discovered they are escorting a diplomat and her husband to Vyrilla. Marik offers to host Baylee, as is polite amongst Captains, for dinner while her crew (pretends) to work hard for 24 hours getting their ship functioning. Following dinner and activities, Baylee slips out of Marik’s room, signals Tychus to meet her, and together they knock out a few guards and sailors from the night-time naval crew, find the diplomat, and steal the necklace, leaving the diplomat bound and gagged. They race back to the Fiesty Rose, drop the sails and bolt. With Sharra’s weather weaving, they easily outpace the naval ship, then circle back to complete the transaction (with additional “had to con my husband fee” tacked on). Baylee has not seen Marik since.

3 months ago:
The run in with the dark wizard Menken, Baylee loses her ship and most of her crew. Only the small group with her at the time, including a bosun and bookkeeper with the other player characters, survive the attack.

View
From the Personal Journal of Dr. Moritz J. Beckley, III - Part 2
The Academy Beckons

Day 64 – Traveling and The Academy

As predicted, Matthew did not skimp on the pomp prior to our departure this morning. No less than three quarters of the city turned out to see us off on our messenger’s errand, and we departed to the thunderous chorus of mage whistles. The coach was comfortable enough despite the Captain’s snoring, and I daresay I fared better than the Lady Sharra. She decided that today was as good a day as any to see the world from the back of a horse, and our patient paladin was more than eager to tutor her. I suspect that I may be needed to set a bone or two in the near future – good thing I packed the splints.

The day turned out to be a fair one, and our trip proceeded without event. We arrived at the Academy just before nightfall. I suspect the Captain was starting to feel her thirst quite acutely, though if I know her at all she no doubt bears at least one flask somewhere in that coat of hers. I provided her with directions to a tavern with gentry susceptible to her trade, and Sharra followed her there. Tychus and Matthew decided to pursue female companionship. I do hope they found somewhere clean, as I didn’t pack much in terms of personal remedies.

As for Etrix and I, we adjourned to the stacks. There is something nagging at me about this Guardian we have been sent to find. In the first place, I have never heard of the creature despite countless nights spent beneath the Academy and countless hours reading obscure texts. The sword is likewise a mystery to me. Surely such a powerful artifact would appear somewhere in the histories. Fortune did not favor us despite our considerable efforts, so I sought my favorite alcove for a quick rest.

Day 65 – Treachery

I woke shortly after dawn and accompanied Etrix to our prearranged meeting place. After some confusion regarding the location of Sharra, who apparently spent the night in the constabulary, we set off to the Academy. Our errand would bring us to meet with Cassandra, headmaster and heartbreaker both. None here know of our prior relationship, and I hoped that she would humor me in keeping things quiet. While I don’t mind seeing her again, I don’t much care to answer questions about my past. Not yet anyway.

Our arrival was interrupted by an announcement. It appears that Cassandra came under attack sometime last night, and was currently abed in the infirmary. I gathered my kit and head in that direction with some haste. It is, after all, where I am most useful. The Captain and Sharra accompanied me as both of them posses knowledge of the more rudimentary healing arts, and I am always eager for a capable assistant. Much to my surprise, the incompetent fools that pass for doctors in this town had fouled things up enough that my attempts to heal the Headmistress were less effective than I had hoped. Her recovery is in her hands now. Luckily, she is a strong-willed woman, so death will not find her easy prey.

The rest of the party arrived some time later, and shared the details of their investigation. It appears as though Cassandra was forced to use her magic, which I find to be disconcerting. Any who know her as well as I did would realize that it is highly unusual for her to even attempt to bring the forces she controls to bear, especially not inside her office. Her assailants must be truly fearsome indeed for her to act as she did.

With many questions and few answers, we decided to press on. Matthew retrieved the key Cassandra wore around her neck, and we set off to the basement. This proved rather useless as the doors meant to keep prying eyes out stood open. We soon found ourselves in the headmistress’ private study. The collection of books contained within was rather sparse for such a secretive location, though there were some other impressive artifacts scattered about the room. Matthew directed our intentions to a passage concealed behind a bookcase, how very cliche. What lay beyond was something else entirely.

We soon found ourselves in a large room festooned with runescript. I recognized none of them after a cursory inspection, but their layout seemed to suggest a barrier of some sort. The three corpses arrayed around its perimeter supported that conclusion. It’s what lay beyond the wards that I was most interested in, however. Unless I miss my guess, we were looking at a lich of the highest order. The smell of embalming fluid and other chemicals was heavy in the air, suggesting that our new friend was up to something fiendish indeed.

I must admit, I did not expect that the sword would be guarded by a lich…but it is rather fortuitous. Just last month I was reading a treatise which suggested that phylactery fluid may be useful in the treatment of certain diseases, and I have not yet had an opportunity to collect some. Until tomorrow then.

MJB

View
Tome three of the memoirs of Archmage Etrix
Where-in Etrix is reminded his childhood friends are dicks

Looking back on the events surrounding how I was named a Hero of Verilla, i can only be amazed that i managed to survive my friends.

For months, we spent scouring reference material, searching the land, uncovering clues to the whereabouts of the Sword. We made meager progress, but it was progress closely followed by the people, and they loved every word of the stories that were told of our exploits.

And that is all they were. stories. I spent 2 months locked up out of public scrutiny without access to my magical materials or any of the resources of the Mage Spire or touch anything more magical than a turkey leg. Finally, our presence was most courteously requested by his grace. The eye of the king, Mick Rage, assembled us and made us presentable to the court. Which meant that after a rather drawn out fitting session, i possess a set of opulent blue robes with a master’s stole, the look for which i became known for. It was a thoroughly ridiculous and gaudy choice, one made so that i would look exactly as the people would expect a master wizard to look.

I later burned those robes, and the shop in which i was fitted likewise burned to the ground in an unrelated fire. it wasn’t my fault.

We met with the king who informed us that we would be the heroes the town needed, whether we wanted to or not. This apparently included undertaking a grand and impossible quest to obtain a lost object. By which i mean a day’s hard ride out of the capitol to the academy to pick up the sword in the basement. The king wanted to build our reputations, to lend us legitimacy for what would follow. But worse than the machinations of kings and devil’s was the conviction of men.

Tych confronted the king and demanded his family be acknowledged as having existed. The King countered by having 50 armed guards step out from hiding spots. Looking back on it, things could have gone very differently for the grand marshal. He blamed the king for his failure, and Mick for setting him up. The king laid claim to Tychus’s hand, and Mick stood ready to take it from him by axe. If Tychus had wanted to, we all would have fought and died that day, but our conviction waivered, and rather than blast them all to a fine carbon mist, we handed Mick an axe and let him take a swing. He missed, of course, but he never let on a thing.

And that is what must always be remembered about the Esteemed Mr Easton, Tychus and myself. We grew up together, and pranks were a matter of requirement. The more brutal, elaborate or cunning, the better. I am convinced that Tychus’ madness may be feigned as part of a long joke, but I do not know what the punchline could be. Mick pretended to be about to deform his best friend just to see the look on his face.

With friends like these, I am amazed i survived to face my enemies.

View
Thought, not written
The trouble with being unable to read or write is that you're unable to make journal entries. Though I suppose we could pretend Sharra has a blank notebook and marks it with squigglies

Saving the kingdom and possibly the world isn’t quite what I expected it to be. In the stories I heard as a child, after the bad guy is defeated, the hero goes home and is celebrated. But I have no home anymore and the heroic acts of myself and my group are met with questioning and suspicion and voluntary (not voluntary) confinement and these tortuous devices called shoes that I’m apparently expected to wear all the time.

City folk are strange.

~

Today I met the king. Which was unexpected.

Patches came to my house today in his fancy nobility gear. Sorry. M’lord. That’s what he prefers to be called though he has a real name that’s extra long and fancy which apparently he doesn’t like to use so often? This business of being spymaster and noble and famous for both doesn’t make so much sense to me. It’s obvious enough that he is both, and one doesn’t have to receive visions to understand that much.

So. Patches — sorry, M’lord came and picked me up, along with everyone else — Captain, Tychis, and Doctor were already there. And last of all we picked up That Wizard. It was good to see everyone. I get less funny looks when I’m with them. Well … different ones, at any rate

Apparently going to see nobility means baths. As if I wasn’t clean enough from my bath two months past … Again. City folk. I got scrubbed, primped, then redressed and off to a tailor for measurements for what I can only think of as the most fanciest dress ever. I think there was enough cloth in it to dress an entire village and have room to spare. (It will make for excellent bandages once this fancy clothing business is finished). Mela got one too, so we both looked the part for our fancy meeting.

Talked to the elf about sewing and mending. Interesting fellow. I could like him if he hadn’t forced me into shoes. Though I did manage to ditch those once we got into the carriage. (Mela’s came off too.)

And then there was the king’s home. I am a peasant. I know this. but the sheer amount of expense … the show of it all … people live in places like this? We waited for some time to see the king while he did fancy king things. The others seemed irritated by it all. I admired the finery.

The king is old. Older than anyone I’ve ever seen before. I’ve never met anyone so important. Though he wasn’t very kind. I suppose kings don’t have to be. Though it would be nice. He asked a few questions, and then threatened to cut off Tychis’ hand. Thought he was going to do it too. He asked Patches to handle it. Though apparently this was some sort of big joke on his part and the hand was never intended to come off? I’m unsure if this is a nobility joke or something else. But if this is the way nobles regularly act no thank you I will go back to being a peasant.

We are recruited to find a sword. Rather, THE SWORD. The one that chooses kings. I suppose with the king not getting any younger and no heirs about it might be time to find a successor. Choosing us to fetch it for him I wonder about. Sounds as if we’re to be heading into no small amount of trouble. Something about a nasty guardian.

Tychis was furious for the rest of the night. Moreso than usual. I understand a little. To him (and to the others it seems) a king is no great being but someone a little closer. Perhaps if I adventure long enough I will pick up the same attitude. Though I rather assume not.

That night Captain, Tychis, and I drank and celebrated and readied for our next grand adventure and Tychis ranted about his wife and the king both, nearly in equal measure. I think Patches deserved more of the ire than he got. Though perhaps that’s also a noble thing.

To the rest of the world Tychis seems unbalanced, even if the world is unbalanced and he’s the one that’s truly seeing straight. Still … Tychis bears watching over, to make sure he doesn’t get himself labeled as crazier than I know I am seen.

The next day we set off. I wore my fancy dress again, but managed to go barefoot and get ahold of a pony. I set off fireworks to mark our adventure. Took a bit more energy than usual but nothing exploded or burnt down. This is, I hope, a good omen.

This shall be a grand adventure. Mostly, I’m excited about getting away from the city. It is good to breathe real air and I think if Tychis stayed near the king another day there would have been a conflict and he’d have gotten himself killed.

View
From the Personal Journal of Dr. Moritz J. Beckley, III
The Adventure Begins

Day 63 – The City of Virilla

Today I was visited by Mr. Matthew Easton, an acquaintance I have not seen in some time. No doubt he wants something of me again beyond the obvious, it is, after all, his way. He came to me with his usual fanfare, bearing a rented coach and a missive from his august majesty bidding me attend him at once. As usual, the timing could not have been worse, as I had just begun the delicate procedure of mounting the crystal in its housing. If there is one thing I have learned about dear Matthew, it is that he has little respect for my important work. Perhaps one day he will appreciate all that hangs in the balance while I dote on the whims of the court. There I go again, babbling to myself. It seems this day is not that atypical after all.

As if interrupting me at my work was not enough insult for one fortnight, I was forced to accompany Mr. Easton through every quarter of the city and back again as we collected the other rabble that forms our little band of thieves. I must confess, it was pleasant to see the Captain again, despite her predisposition toward alcoholism. I am given to understand that she was in the process of relieving some unsuspecting dupe of his coin, honestly why people still play cards with the woman is as great a mystery as can exist in this world. We also collected the fallen paladin, mentally ill as usual, and that peasant woman with the talent for ferreting out the next storm. Last, but not least, we called upon Etrix, who looked well despite his current circumstances. I remain convinced that his former master had something to do with the affliction that haunts my brother, but alas, I have no proof. Matthew has assured me of his innocence in this whole debacle, but time will tell all.

We then proceeded to a tailor who surely earns custom well above my current means so that Matthew could once again wave coin in our faces as we were outfitted with new finery. Had he given me more time to prepare I’m certain I have something lying around the house that would serve for an audience with the king, but it was not to be. We set out again some time later, following an argument about the efficacy of shoes as a means of conveyance, and arrived at the palace.

Much like Matthew, our dearest king, protector of the realm and all of that nonsense, has little respect for my valuable time. We were made to wait for much longer than any sane man would consider polite, further convincing me that the summons was not nearly as urgent as I was led to believe. We were eventually greeted by Lord Lucen, adviser to the crown. Here is a man that is full of himself to be sure. Known for his skill with a pen (which, I might add, is less than a great many of the current and past authors) and his ability to detect even the most subtle of deceptions, I must confess that he fails to impress. We were led to the throne room and arrayed like cattle before the great stump to await his majesty’s pleasure.

There seemed to be some bad blood between the paladin and the king, resulting in some sort of argument about a hand. I assured our knight that I could mend his wound should he take one, and left it at that. Things got fairly heated there for a few minutes, and I thought I might have to draw Methilda in the throne room of all places, but thankfully it didn’t come to that. The whole thing turned out to be a ruse for the amusement of the king and Matthew, who was obviously in on the joke. The whole business was more than a little droll for my tastes.

Once the charade was dispensed with, we moved on to the task at hand. Our king seeks a sword, aptly named the Sword of the Realm, which apparently lies beneath the Academy. He gave us a key taken from a chain about his neck, and bid us demand the sword from its guardian. To hear him tell it, we are the only ones capable of this task, despite the fifty odd soldiers waiting in the wings. Surely one of them is able to sit astride his horse long enough to fetch a sword from a basement? We then departed, resolving to meet in the central square on the morrow in order to depart, no doubt with considerable fanfare courtesy of Matthew.

I know not what we will find beneath the academy, but perhaps I’ll have some time to continue my work while there. There is not a moment to waste if I am to beat this disease once and for all. For now, I shall attend to my current project in an effort to make up for lost time. Until tomorrow then.

MJB

View
Captain's log, Day 63
We all get a bath, or Mick remains a gobshyte

It’s been 2 months we’ve been imprisoned in a velvet lined cage. It’s far too long on land for me. Save the city, cut off the wizard’s hand, and this is our reward?! I’ve yet to convince Mick to buy me a new ship, but he’ll fold eventually. What the hell good is a ship’s captain without a ship?!

Mick continues to tell us we can’t leave the city yet. Apparently landlubbers have no memory, as they’ve made me repeat my story so many times I’ve lost count. I’m starting to feel as crazy as Tychus – no one believes me, but I keep parroting the same words!

At least they finally allowed us free reign of the city. It’s still stinks and its still a cage, but dockside taverns are easy to waste time in. I was winning yet another game of poker – honestly I swear! – when there was a ruckus. Ever one to make an entrance, Mick flipped over my damn card table – at least I saved my drink! And demanded I go with him. No one makes demands of a captain! …but I did, reluctantly. The only thing worse than being trapped in this city is being trapped behind actual bars.

Mick’s ridiculous carriage was filled with Tychus, Etrix, Doc, and Sharra. He insisted the lot of us get a bath and be made presentable for our audience with the king. Since I didn’t request it, I don’t see why I ought to care how presentable I am. But after a bath we were taken to the tailors. Sharra demanded clothes for her doll in exchange for wearing shoes (which she despises) and I decided that Bartleby ought to have clothes too. The elf tailor didn’t let his annoyance show – I give those pointy eared bastards credit, they can keep a straight face.

At the castle we were met by the Kings Advisor. They say you can’t lie to him, he can always tell the truth. I didn’t get a chance to test it out cuz my head was pounding and the lighting was too bright, but next time we’ll see if there’s any ring o’ truth to that tale. And I might have been distracted by the large amount of gold jewelry and bits he wore.

The King put on some theatrics – bloody rich people. He wants us to find the lost sword of the kingdom, one which can unite the people and give strength to the kings army, and was used to found the kingdom, blah blah. Something about needing to further prove ourselves to the people as heroes. I tried to get the king to give me a ship, but he says the sword is inland beneath some fancy schmancy wizard place or something.

The he goes and tells his guards to grab Tychus as he demands repayment for his treason.

Now the knight may be crazy, but he’s my crew. I drew my sword – the normal one, not the time one – thinking that I’d rather not die in a castle on cold hard land, but I’m not about to let my mate be hanged. They argued in words too loud to really pay much attention to.

All I know is Tychus agreed to give up his hand in some sort o’ punishment if Mick – the lyin’ bastard – was the one to cut it off. hand in retribution for his treason in abandoning his post. Mick happily agreed (some friend he is!) but he swung and missed – not surprised, he’s got no depth perception with that missin’ eye and all. Instead they covered Tychus’s hand in a black glove marking it as property of the king, who admits he needs the former-knight whole for this mission. It’s alright though, when we get back to sea he can send that stupid glove right to the bottom.

Mick made the mistake of letting us have the night free to meeting in the morning to travel to some academy. I was rudely awoken by a bucket o’ cold water in the morning and reluctantly climbed into the carriage to sleep some more on the way further from the sea.

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.