The Crescent Sea

The Verdant Frontiers of Tearn ... Finale
Two Sessions in One

Episode 17

It was the eve of ceremony. My compatriots and I camped on the border of the forest that is home to the Temple of Sylvanas, mere miles away from the altar, the site of the ritual, that we were to protect. We were in possession of all the requisite ritual components, including the First Seed, our edge against the Green Circle corruptors.

It was time to craft a plan.

We could reasonably assume the rite would be attended by devout Sylvanians, Chawntaeans, as well as celebrants from all walks of life, and of course, the Green Circle. We would have to infiltrate the festivities, and displace the ritualists, without causing undue harm to the genuine worshippers, and try to avoid widespread alarm.

Father Sindaron provided us with the layout of the temple grounds, which wove in and around the roots and trunk of the First Tree, and sprawled outward in gated paths that would ultimately dwindle in the thick forest. The ritual itself was to take place underground, in the sanctuary of her roots.

Perhaps, Miss Linny posited, Gaspard could be used as a distraction. Maybe lead the Green Circle into an ambush, as raised by the Rushmore trainees. Maybe one of our initiates could set up the ambush, with word of the seed itself. Father Sindaron suggested infiltrating the temple by air, which did not sit well with Miss Linny – by ground was more her style. Maybe we could even the odds by compelling the Green Circle to speak the truth, to all gathered.

We could, of course, combine our strategies. With our varied talents and resources, it was decided.

Everyone was woken well before first light. Students were outfitted and armed with simple daggers, bows and staves, and formed earnest, if mismatched, ranks behind Miss Jax and Taman. Miss Linny, Edith, and Father Sindaron were ready to sneak into the compound, the slightly uncomfortable looking priest to be polymorphed by the elder Elderthorn.

Gaspar … took a tongue-lashing from Jax as he failed to comprehend his instructions, and she had to remind him of his role. We wouldn’t rest too much of our hopes on his performance.

And for myself, I went alone to the south, disguised, as much as I could, as a simple celebrant, to gauge the crowd, and sow seeds of discord, if possible.

It was time. The fate of magic in Tearn, if not the world, was at stake. Three badgers dove into the underbrush. Jax took the bag of components, and the Braunsteiners to the north road. And I went south.

Jax and Taman stationed the initiates within the forest, at the edge of the temple clearing. Gaspar was sent on ahead, and they waited in silence as dawn broke, and celebrants began to appear from the north road, including a pilgrammage of Chawntean priests, struggling in the forest growth.

I was not prepared for the beauty of the temple. I had grown accustomed to gargantuan trees in the thick of the forest, and perhaps anticipating this, the Sylvanian caretakers kept a solid, half-mile cleared to mere brush. The First Tree herself was centred in this sudden clearing, rising, reaching into the sky, towering above everything. The temple grounds sprawled out from the Tree’s trunk, as I grew closer. Elegant iron fences and gates protected the sanctity of the temple, appearing as if grown from vines, and then transmutated to iron. The temple grounds were awash in the greens and browns and golds of Firstmas, with coils of leather strung with signs of Sylvanas, Chawntea, and small packages strewn amongst the temple’s smaller, narrow trees, and reaching to the temple herself. I barely recall passing through the gates, awkwardly stammering greetings to the guards on duty, under the majesty of the temple, with carved wooden staircases spiralling up the tree herself, and down in amongst the gargantuan, knobbed roots of the tree.

On the other side of the gate, I found myself in a crowd of celebrants, in a festival of life. Tents were arrayed for craftsmen to show and hawk their wares, idols and charms inspired by Firstmas, and vendors of food and drink and choruses of Firstmas song. I greeted the other visitors with Firstmas cheer, and received it in kind. I spoke to a group of Chawntean celebrants, led by a young man named Acorn, asking if they had heard of the Green Circle’s presence, and warning them to be wary of trouble.

Miss Linny, her sister Edith, and Father Sindaron burrowed through the earth, pausing in the small tunnel they’d created, nestled in the roots of the great tree, mere inches from the great inner cavern, to the sound of reverent chanting. Our companions prepared their assault, and burst through the earthen wall.

The inner chamber, the altar room, blazed with light from a ring of burning braziers, and the room suddenly pulsed with vigor, grasses and moss sprouting from the floor and walls, reacting to the presence of the seed that Miss Linny carried. The chamber was guarded by pairs of Green Circle guards, and around the altar itself were chanting druids of Sylvanas. A small, severe woman with purple hair, crowned with twigs, and her compatriots. Dear Miss Linny, no patience for games with the fate of magic at stake, launched into the group assembled by calling lightning, into the depths of the earth. Lightning, knowing what is good for it, obliged. A number of druids fell to its strike.

The small woman addressed Miss Edith personally, raising surprise and consternation from Miss Linny and Sindaron. She inroduced herself as Priscilla, and wondered what the small group was doing, in the deep altar chambers with the First Seed. Miss Linny threatened her with the combined armies of Braunstein and certain Teanynians, but Priscilla disappeared through the chamber’s floor, leaving the guards to handle the interlopers, our friends.

Miss Linny and Edith assaulted the guards with thunder and ice, pummeling the guards, and pushing them back against the wall, braziers flickering wildly, a number falling dark. The room grew quiet, wild grass growing tall around the seedbearer. Settling in to the altar room, Miss Linny and Father Sindaron set a ward to alarm them should anyone return to them.

The central platform on the tree-trunk temple was eventually claimed by a womman in a white dress with gold and green ribbons. The crowd grew silent, and she introduced herself as Ainora, the church’s matriarch. She announced that the ritual was being prepared successfully, and that the ritual itself would procede as scheduled, with mages sharing the ceremony via illusory projections. Seeking to rattle the corrupt among the Sylvanian priests, I yelled for news of the Chawntean portion of the ritual. A soft mutter spread through the crowd. The priestess looked stunned, and started to recover, stating that the Chawntean priests were on their way. The rest of her speech grew quiet, as she wished the celebrants well.

Episode 18

As you’ll recall, Jax and Taman had arranged themselves and some of their best students in the forest north of the temple, along the northern trail. Amira, Edan, and Helga had climbed into the trees to watch and wait in ambush.

They remained quiet as visitors traipsed through the forest, intent on making the Firstmas celebration. Eventually, they heard a pair of familiar voices, Miss Lydia berating Gaspar for his betrayal, and the murmer of other, less familiar tones. The bait had been taken. They entered the forest.

Edan loosed an arrow from above, planting solidly in Lydia’s chest, her face freezing in surprise, sinewy vines sprouting from the ground below, holding her fast. She called to draw out her attackers.

She got her wish. Amira slipped from the trees behind her, and before anyone could react, slid her dagger across her neck. Lydia slipped to the ground wordlessly.

The patrol of Green Circle guards were obliterated in the wake of the horror of losing their leader. Taman, Jax, Helga, Gaspar, Kyle and Evandyr eliminating all but one of the guards. Our companions left Gaspar and the students to dispose of the bodies.

Jax and Amira were tasked with getting the components to Miss Linny as quick as possible. Taman, Helga and Edan would infiltrate the temple from the west, assess the situation and then also join the rest in the temple. They approached the north gate, announced their presence, and their intention to stop the Green Circle. That got the guard’s attention, and he sent away for instructions.

In his place returned a troop of Sylvanian guards, led by a bronze-skinned woman in leather armour and a green cloak. She identified our friends as Braunsteiners, and introduced herself as Cathora, and dismissed Taman from the temple with the threat of violence. Our partners withdrew from the gate to try another approach, leaving a pair of arrow traps behind, should Cathora follow.

I was drifting through the grounds, watching the temple for the Green Circle, and the gates, for my companions. A contingent of Chawntean followers caught my attention, and I in turn grabbed theirs, informing them that the Green Circle had it’s talons in the Sylvanian worshippers, and suggesting that we make haste to the inner chambers. Bishop Lenora saw the value of the information I provided, and agreed to hurry to the ceremonial chambers.

Jax and Amira ran through the open gate, and then adopted a casual saunter, before any guards noted their presence, and seeing me, followed our procession into the temple.

After descending through twisting staircases, we found ourselves in the receiving room, deep beneath the services. Bishop Lenora introduced herself, but was dismissed by one of Ainora’s guards, she would send for them later. I, perhaps out of turn, defended their right to be present in the ritual’s preparations. My gambit withstood a brief interrogation, and as the guard stalled, I pushed the Chawteans’ role in balancing the ceremony. Ultimately, the guard agreed to lead the Chawnteans to the inner chamber themselves, as something of a compromise.

The boom and crackle of thunder echoed in the passage before us.

In the altar room ahead of us, Miss Linny, Edith, and Father Sindaron continued their watch, holding the altar room in wait. The earth below them pulled apart, and Priscilla along with Ainora emerged from the ground, faces grim. As Ainora began to introduce herself, Miss Linny dismissed the pair, as they were unnecessary to complete the ritual in its traditional, uncorrupt, form. And smugly reminded them that she had a distinct advantage in the matter, the seed itself.

So she called lightning on the druids.

Ainora retreated to the altar, where Miss Linny heard her invoke Sylvanas, and beseech him for a champion to aid them. Miss Linny stuck the kneeling woman with her staff, desperate to prevent her summons. Ainora’s skin shimmered briefly, her prayer uninterrupted.

Priscilla commanded Edith to kill Miss Linny, which resulted in, a short laugh from Edith, as the geas failed.

Ainora, chanting, raised her hands upward, here eyes flickering bright green and then dark. Sylvanas did not answer her prayer. Her face fell.

Miss Linny took advantage of the situation, taking Ainora’s failure as a sign from Sylvanas that the traditional ritual was the right ritual. Ainora struggled with the relevation, and Miss Linny’s lecture, and agreed to compromise, to support the traditional ritual today, and discuss the role of change for, perhaps, the next year. We had won a reluctant ally.

Priscilla, on the other hand, remained unconvinced, and summoned a swarm of insects in the small room, biting and scratching at the occupants.

Outside, Cathora received some report, and ordered the north gate closed, withdrawing into the temple grounds. Music continued to play in the festivities, but the celebrants grew quieter with the movement of Green Circle patrols amidst their revelry.

Halfway between the North and Western gates, Edan saw that the West was also abandonned, and the gate remained open. They hurried toward it.

When they got inside, they saw Cathora’s guards disappear into one of the northern temple entrances. Taman, Helga and Edan rushed into the nearest entrance, hoping to beat them to the inner chambers.

The thrum of insects is what alerted us to our proximity to the room, and they prevented our entry. If Lenora and her entourage were not already convinced that the ritual was in jeopardy, they were now.

The Chawnteans had the presence of mind to call into the swarm. Only hearing muffled replies, Lenora raised a holy symbol, but the locusts continued to swarm. Our situation seemed grim, but Miss Linny’s voice cut through the horrid buzzing of the insects. She verified that Jax had the ritual components, and grew silent again. I suppose she was conferring with her attendants.

The Sylvanian guards had grown quiet. They nervously looked between themselves, and begged to take their leave. They seemed wholly unprepared to deal with the powers at play here.

Bishop Lenora was suddenly suspicious. How was I, and the two elven tagalongs, related to the voice in the altar chamber? I assured her that we were working together to ensure the property rite was cast, and that she, unlike the Green Circle stooges, was actually capable of completing it.

From the swarm of insects came a rush of wind, a small corridor between Miss Linny in the centre of the room, behind a large, glittering barrier, a small corridor free from the insects. She chirped at Jax to throw the components to her. Behind her, Sindaron and Edith were tending to their injuries, and the priestess Ainora concentrated on maintaining the barrier.

Shards of ice and snow ripped into the centre of the room, pelting Miss Linny even through the barrier. Jax ran through the corridor to Miss Linny, hitting the barrier solidly, before tossing the bag at the druid. They were ready to complete the ritual.

Miss Linny directed Jax, Amira, and myself to follow Priscilla, the purple haired Sylvanian and stop her from gathering forces to interupt the rite.

Amira loosed and arrow, clattering in the tunnel. I uttered a few words at the already fleeing woman, sending her into terror, and she fled in panic. Jax ran past me in the tunnel, running along the wall, magically aided, bow drawn. Her arrow stuck in Priscilla’s back, as the woman neared the bright tunnel exit

Priscilla ran into the crowd, Jax and Amira and I in tow. I released my spell, unclouding the woman’s mind from the nightmares I had summoned there, and she lashed out at me, with tendrils of vines. I called for her to give in, and Jax punctuated my sentiment with another arrow, putting an end to the druid’s resistance.

In the heart of the temple, Edith and Sindaron worked together to complete the ritual, consigning components to the holy flames. Ainora maintained the barrier, under Miss Linny’s watchful eye.

In the space of a breath, Taman and Helga burst into the chamber from one side, and Cathora and her entourage from another. Cathora was rebuked by Ainora, who explained that she was convinced that the changes to the ritual were untenable. Cathora’s eyes narrowed at her colleague, but Ainora did not back down. Cathora seemed moved by the other woman’s conviction, until she noticed Helga, and Taman, and Edan on the far side.

When Cathora voiced her objections, Miss Linny stepped in, explaining the events that had transpired in the chamber, and the need to move forward transparently, together. She defended her relationship with the Braunsteiners, telling Cathora of their accomplishments and heroism in the face of the dirty tactics of the Green Circle. Miss Linny expressed concern for Priscilla, who seemed motivated by darker designs, unable to see reason from her compatriot Ainora, and eventually, Cathora relaxed, and used her forces to bolster and protect the group completing the ritual.

In unison, father Sindaron and Miss Edith completed the last of the offerings and prayers to Sylvanas and Chawntea, the room brightening in radiant light centred on the seed. The seed itself rose into the cavern, flickering, flashing, and then dropping back to the ground.

It was done.

It was not done. Oh, the ritual was complete, but we had promised Ainora discussion. A chance for the Chawteans and the Sylvanians to come together and work out their differences. An opportunity to raise concerns, and actually address them.

We gathered in Ainora’s chambers, amidst the lower branches of the great tree. Her voice was filled with doubt. The conviction that had sustained her choice below had left her. She wished us well, seeing no reason to change her order’s intention in the future. This was her idea of a discussion.

We had not risked ourselves to protect the seed and the ritual to simply be debriefed with a promise of a return to the sentiments and actions that had led to the events of the day. We cited the history of successful balance, the duty to the followers of both deities as reasons not that the ritual should be preserved, but as reasons that the discussion, honouring both parties, should be preserved. It was important that both should commit to open communication with the other, not an easy task, to evaluate the rituals, and come to an arrangement that would respect the needs of the world at large, and the values of the faithful: Chawntean, Sylvanian and other worshippers.

Ainora seemed unconvinced, like a child who had indulged in a tantrum, and could not comprehend the reasons why the behaviour was discouraged.

I chastised her for her small-mindedness, offering her that her values could be discovered, not only in the remotest wildernesses, but even among the villages and cities that seemed at odds with her views.

Perhaps swayed, she held firm to her ideals, and suggested that even with a dialogue in place, her agents would still strive to buyout land and return it to an uninhabited state. Which earned her Miss Linny’s attention, who reminded her that the Green Circle’s shady tactics would not be suffered, and that Linny would keep watch to guarantee it.

Finally, of course, the First Seed could not be trusted in the hands of either party, while they proved unable to work in harmony. Responsibility for the seed then, had to lie in the hands of a capable third party, and that would be, by necessity, Miss Linny and her stalwart companions.

Betraying their mistrust, both Bishop Lenora and Ainora protested the solution, demanding the seed for themselves. Miss Linny pressed for the competence of her team, thwarting suggestions that a Tearnian official body could be neautral enough to be trusted to the task. No, all would have to be content with the seed in Miss Linny’s hands, and, as Taman suggested, accessible only through the concerted efforts of all three parties involved.

The terms were sufficient for Bishop Lenora, who withdrew from the discussion with a look of distaste on her face. Ainora expressed some displeasure, but allowed us to depart with the seed.

We collected our students, and returned to Braunstein as the keepers of the First Seed.

the PirateF*cker 17-the rest of the story

We killed the giant, the fighter took its axe and belt of strength, and went to collect our reward. We then decided that a giant’s axe didn’t do enough damage, so we went and had the greatest smith in all the lands upgrade it to be a massive battleaxe of doom. It still wasn’t good enough, so we found an enchantress and had her enchant it with lightning, and tell us where we could find a soul to bind into it to make it sentient, and yet more powerful. With the power of a divination wizard we teleported there instead of walking, and fought the vengeful spirit. We narrowly defeated it, and captured its soul in a jar built for such things. We then teleported back, and had it bound in, and our fighter found the love if his life in his weapon. Then, according to the wishes of the wizard, we looked for a way to turn him into a lich, which the shadow found by selling a few souls. There was a library on an island that we had before cleansed of pirates, which we had not found. Returning there, we found much knowledge and the way to turn someone into a lich, among other things. Now, with a party growing more powerful by the day, we decided to take a larger contract, in the form of assassinating an Altaran general. We found out where he was and marched over to his encampment, but since he was such a pompous douche, he had taken up residence in a nearby estate. Waiting for nightfall, we snuck towards the mansion, but were seen by some magic seeing spell bullshit, and had to fight the guards off. Not as easy as it sounds. After defeating the perimeter guards we went inside and searched for the general, while our shadow set the house on fire for a more scenic atmosphere. We found him easily enough, and proceeded to have one of the greatest slugfests of all time. The building started to collapse, and the party ran, with the exception of the shadow and the general. The shadow took one more hit, and the building collapsed, burning and ruined. Our shadow could not be crushed though, and flew out, hoping to use the soul jar again to trap the general’s. Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) the person closest to death at that moment was the fighter, clad in demonic armour. The soul jar reached out to him instead, and took his soul, wrenching it from his body and his armour consumed him. A great shadow demon burst forth from his body, wielding his axe, and proceeded to go on a murderous rampage, which the shadow gladly joined him in. At the same time, the general burst from the rubble of the mansion and attacked the barbarian, biting him. The shadow demon rushed back into the battle and ripped the Altaran apart with his long clawed hands, throwing the body across the courtyard, in separate directions. The werewolf curse was passed to the barbarian, who immediately turned (it happened to be a full moon) and he joined in the slaughter. The monk joined the rest, figuring why not, and the entire party was converted to the side of evil in a night. (Insert star wars jokes here, I certainly did.) We decided to kill some more people, so we did. It was a hazy few days, but eventually we decided that we were no longer scared of Cassius Marcus, and went to Freehold to kill him too. We found his ship, with both himself and the pirate king on board, and had another epic battle of epic proportions. There was fire and meteors and large weapons everywhere, but we managed to kill both of the vampires, along with his crew, and proceeded to take over and enslave the entire island. Serving as its overlords, we started a cult to Telona, the goddess of death and darkness which the demon and the shadow served. Enslaving the populace and making cultists of the willing ones, we tore down the city of Freehold and converted it to a flying temple city dedicated to Telona. We then remembered something that would be fitting for such a temple castle city, and retrieved a magical artifact that created a massive globe of darkness around itself, which we placed in an altar at the top of the spire of the keep of the temple. We then discovered that another group, through the use of wishes and magic had created an alternate timeline Freehold where everyone was dedicated to a good god or goddess, which could not stand. Our castle looked cooler anyways. So, inevitably, we attacked it and through the force of our magic and our new order we conquered and enslaved that island too, converting it to a temple of Lolth, an ally to our goddess. Chaining the two floating island city fortress temples together, we created the greatest epic evil castle of awesomeness to ever have floated, and through a nerve wracking series of events, the shadow became essentially a minor god, and figured out the planar lock. Boom, story end.
We were the president’s party, to be fair.

The Verdant Frontiers of Tearn (16)
Wherein Miss Linny Gets Carried Away

In the early morning light, we left Braunstein with a small retinue of volunteers in tow. The North Crown Road was clear and dry, making for a quick pace toward the centre of the country. Over the few days it took to travel, the countryside changed from flat plains and sparse woods, to rolling hills and dense forest. Father Sindaron acted as navigator, and directed us south off the main road when we approached the temple lands.

The land became impassable for the coach, and we set our young Braunsteiners to arranging camp at the edge of the forest’s tangle. The trees in the thick of the forest spanned hundreds of feet, providing a dark, dense canopy, and warm moist air as we penetrated the undergrowth.

Our intrepid trackers, Edan and Helga, inspected the forest floor for the tracks of our quarry. We would need: a mammoth’s tusk, the heart of a giant elk, the egg of a giant eagle, the pelts of three bears, five raven’s eyes, and five goat’s horns. Edan pointed out a cluster of marks in the dark, and Helga led us in pursuit, the cloven hoofs racing south of our position, eventually muddied with blood and slowing until we came upon the corpse of the giant elk, its chest carved open, and its heart removed.

We were not the only group in the forest gathering components for the spell. Could we rely on the other group to collect components on our behalf, and complete the ritual ourselves? From my meagre understanding of magics, I worried that the Green Circle’s ritual might include corruptions on the traditional rite, and Father Sindaron echoed my concerns. We would have to acquire our own materials.

We began to discuss our plans. Would we camp at the perimeter with the coach and our trainees? Or, as Edith suggested, deeper in the forest, perhaps amidst her inhabitants? Hags, unicorns, Miss Edith rambled on. No, it was more important to find our components. With a number of items to find, and limited time, it was decided, despite the risk, that we would separate into smaller groups to collect the goods.

Between Miss Linny, her sister Edith, and Helga and Edan, we had two druids who could use magic to locate animals, and two skilled trackers who could safely and efficiently pursue them.

It would be curmudgeonly Miss Edith who accompanied Helga and I into the forest to find brown bear pelts, and the heart of the elk. Miss Edith closed her eyes, rubbing a tuft of fur between her wrinkled hands, and then declared a small cave to the north, holding a small family of bears. With Helga in the lead, and Miss Edith stubbornly refusing any assistance crossing slippery logs and climbing steep cliffs, we made our way to the cave, where a mother bear and her three young were napping. It was perhaps an uncomfortable truth, but it would be most efficient to take the pelts of the young, leaving the poor mother bear to hopefully reproduce again in the future.

Edith suggested talking to the bears, however, I couldn’t imagine them reacting well to the suggestion of being skinned, so I reinforced their sleep with a spell, and Helga and I slaughtered the cubs, and dragged them out of the cave, into some bushes in the forest. In short time, the mother awoke in the cave, and pursued us into the forest, and Miss Edith placed a wall of fire to discourage the poor, enraged beast. When, in time, she moved on, almost whining forlornly, we returned to our base camp to task our students with skinning the young bears.

The elk, Miss Edith located, with a drop of blood collected from the previous carcass, was also north, farther north, than the bear cave, which we skirted widely to avoid any familiar encounters. Miss Edith reminded me that my sleep spell would also be useful here, since we wished to avoid spooking and losing the beast, and so I whispered my incantation over a small handful of dried rosepetals, and the beast crumbled to the ground in slumber. I punctured his neck with my longsword, and he woke, struggling with shock to his feet, but Helga put two arrows swiftly in his chest, and he fell again, for good. In short order, the heart was retrieved.

Meanwhile, Jax, Edan and Gaspard were hunting ravens, with two accomplished bow-women among them, the task should not be too difficult. Two birds were easily discovered in the forest, and three arrows brought down a pair of nesting ravens, their eyes harvested, and eggs collected to add to our evening meal perhaps. Miss Edan made a raven call to attract a third corvid, and when the bird came into view, Miss Edan successfully shot it, and they collected its eyes as well.

Their second item was a mammoth tusk, Edan was able to locate a large cave where a number of the large herd animals were wintering. Gaspard brought up some concerns, afraid to face a mammoth in combat, and wondered if they could perhaps find tusks among the bones of a dead beast.

Jax and Edith slipped into the dark of the cave, discussing their plans as they went. As Jax grew closer to the beasts, she spied an old tusk on the cave floor, which she retrieved without alarming the beasts.

Finally, Miss Edith located a small herd of goats grazing at the summit of a rocky cliff. Amira scaled the short cliff face, and Miss Edith and Taman circled to either side, surrounding a number of the wilds goats. Miss Linny selected a number of older goats from the herd that appeared older than the rest, and cast animal friendship on them, leading the goats to Taman to remove the horns. The younger goats followed as Taman dragged the halfling-besotten billy, who held down its head, and in one solid blow, cleaved both horns from the animal’s head. The animal stumbled around braying angrily, blood seeping from the stumps. A second dazed goat was captured, and in short order, it too was hornless and bounding away. The third beast had thick, massive horns, and Taman chopped a single horn from its head. Five horns were collected, wrapped and bagged.

From their current location, Miss Linny was able to divine the location of a giant eagle’s nest, with a number of large eggs. The tree was massive, typical of this forest, and the egg, high at the top of the canopy. With Amira and Taman waiting below, Missy Linny touched a drop of bitumen, first to the back of a local spider, and then her own forehead. With her spell cast, she could scurry up the tree, with her hands free to collect the egg.

From the treetop, Miss Linny surveyed the expanse of the forest, and located the temple summit, before collecting an egg about the size of the origin seed, and wrapping it gently in her bag. Swinging her sack back over her shoulder, Miss Linny failed to notice the sound of beating wings and the shadow descending upon her.

On the ground, Taman and Amira watched in horror as the eagle plucked Miss Linny from the nest, and flew the old halfling into the sky above. Sensing disaster, Taman rushed in pursuit of the bird, able to glean its movement from its shadow flickering between the leaves in the trees. Amira, aware that our task was more important than any one of us, climbed up the tree, to collect a spare egg, and return to camp to muster forces to save Linny, if necessary.

Taman ran through the forest, keeping pace with the eagle’s shadow as it flew north. It wasn’t very long, luckily, before the eagle stuttered in midflight no longer carrying her prey, and then Miss Linny descended down a tall redwood tree, meeting Taman’s surprised expression, explaining that she’d reasoned with the bird and was let go. It’s funny, when he regaled this, Taman seemed somewhat incredulous at her story.

Father Sindaron inspected our assorted ingredients with approval, and we supped on a hearty stew with bear meat, aware that our most difficult task was still to come.

The Verdant Frontiers of Tearn (15)

The coach was one we had borrowed from Master Steele, and as Amira and I spilled into the cabin, Taman goaded the horses into action, driving them away from the hall. The coach was crammed tight, with not only Gaspard waiting patiently for our return, but Miss Linny had the Sylvan priest, squeezed in between herself and Miss Helga. Father Sindaron was giving directions to Taman through the fore window, since we were to stop at his church to retrieve some texts from his apartments.

When we arrived at the church, it was decided that Jax and Taman would accompany him to his quarters, to both protect the man, and given our choice of escort, keep him to our schedule. I took up the coach team, and waited in the dark, quiet street.

Not quiet enough, though. Despite the lack of traffic in the street, a man approached us and directed us to park elsewhere.

While we were making a circuit of the block, Jax and Taman, having hurried Father Sindaron to finish writing to his clergy and collect his books, were of course surprised to find ourselves absent. On the other hand, three men, the only ones in sight, crossed the street to approach Taman and began to interrogate him and Jax. They pressed our colleagues about the ball, and their involvement, and the murder, and were joined by even more toughs, who had been lurking in the shadows.

It was Taman, Father Sindaron told me, who looked down at the ringleader (who was vaguely threatening him with the suggestion that folk who crossed Horatio Collins met poor ends) and mused that anyone who threatened the man who crossed off Collins would have to be astoundingly simple of mind. Especially considering the security measures of both the crimelord and the gala as well.

When we rounded the corner, our compatriots were patiently waiting on us, and as we pulled away, they shared their encounter with the rest of us.

Gaspard, perhaps finally certain that we were earnest in our plan to disrupt the Green Circle’s ultimate plans, voiced some concern about plunging into the face of danger. As if we could abandon the fate of magic, in the face of a strong enemy.

Truth is, the man may have had a point, and he reminded us that we might have resources back in Braunstein, trainers, and students both, who we had schooled at our academy. Perhaps it would be worth making a short stop in the town on our way to the ritual.

The ritual made for a great deal of conversation while we travelled, Miss Linny and Father Sindaron pouring over the tomes he’d brought. Discussions on the import of the ritual, and its trappings. Some of the components were exotic, like the egg of a giant eagle, and others less so. Father Sindaron was confidant that the heart of the country would attract the creatures we would need.

By the time we arrived in Braunstein, we had a considerable idea of what we would require from the village. Master Taman dropped the rest of us at the academy, and took the coach into town.

Miss Jax was tasked with coordinating with our staff, who include two assistant trainers: Evandyr Blackhaven and Kyle; our clerk Gertrude and Orsen, a clever young halfling from South Braunstein. Jax delivered an uncharacteriscally verbose oration, persuading several students to join our cause.

Meanwhile, I briefly visited Mayor Horsecraft, and Brother Job, to update them on our progress. We broke fast early the following morning, and found the academy hall bustling. Gertrude was overseeing the outfitting of the students who volunteered to join us, each with a small pack and meagre bedroll, many carrying small daggers, or simple staves for weapons.

Miss Jax was admiring a well-crafted steel armguard, and Miss Linny strode through the door with none other than her acerbic sister Edith in tow. It looked like we were just about ready to leave Braunstein, and take on the Green Circle.

The Verdant Frontiers of Tearn ... And Marak ... (14)
Reflections, Clarifications, Betrothals and Broken Hearts

Amira, my Lady Amira, my ward, my friend, my co-conspirator.

I admit, dear reader, I left out the best details, the chapter last. The personal details. I pray your forgiveness.

You must understand, our Lady Amira has been reluctant to grant me permission to include the details of our partnership, for fear of placing her family’s life in danger. Or, more specifically, her dear sister, Adelaide.

As a young elven girl, Amira’s parents had promised her a life befitting of the Moss name. By the time she came of age, the promise had resolved into a threat, as the Moss fortune crumbled around them, competing, nascent families and the cost of appearances driving them from their riches. Amira was split from her treasured sister, on a rainy spring morning, bundled into a coach to cross the mountains into Marak, where she would meet her future husband.

The girl and her belongings were offloaded in the east courtyard, without much ado, beneath the windows of the guest wing. While footmen offloaded Amira’s chests, I greeted the travel-weary girl, and hurried her through the halls to the main parlour, where Master Arenda Dawnflare and Tannael, my Tannael, waited.

Oh right, dear reader, I suppose I’ve left that aside too. Your lowly servant was most madly in love with his master’s son, and perhaps I was less kind than I could have been to our Amira.

Introductions were brief, and it was clear that Amira and Tannael both had no interest in the pairing. Master Dawnflare encouraged the two to get to know each other over an afternoon ride through the hillsides, and I was encouraged to return to the guest wing to oversee the installment of Lady Amira’s possessions.

It wasn’t much later, that a slightly laboured Amira caught up to me, lost in the manor but for the guidance of one of the maids, in need of her wardrobe and a guide to the stable. I escorted her to her dressing room, and down to the stable, where Tannael was examining Sable, his favoured mare. Amira was paired with Grayson, a fast beast, and rode out of the courtyard with little else to say, and a couple stable boys following, to look out for her. Funny enough, Sable was put back in her stall, and Tannael and I spent the afternoon pretending the girl didn’t exist.

When she returned, she and her husband-to-be, agreed to support each other’s tales, and I took her to her quarters to prepare for dinner. She seemed surprised by the need to redress for the meal, and on that first day, perhaps I pitied her. I offered directions to the dining hall, and joined the wineservice.

The Dawnflares were seated and exchanging pleasantries by the time that a flustered Amira arrived in the hall. Dinner was served, and Lord Dawnflare inquired about the new couple’s ride, enjoyment of the grand vista, and Amira’s connection with Tannael. Tannael broke the tension, in typical fashion, sharing stories about the estate, dropping my name fernently, earning both of us cold stares from his lady mother.

And so began Lady Amira’s stay in Goldhollow. Her days were filled with frequent rides, exploring the town and the forested countryside, sometimes leaving with a bundle of books from the library.

She was not what I’d expected, and her disinterest only endeared her to me, and soon enough, the three of us were conspiring together, preparing tales for dinner, and leaving the manor grounds behind. Lord Dawnflare thought the girl shy and coy, but the lady of the house was savvy, and by the end of summer, the first lines were forming on her lovely face.

I hope, dear reader, you will continue to forgive me, for sparing you the gory details, but the night of Tannael’s engagement gala was a disaster. He was late, our Lady Amira alone at the head table with his parents, and I was responsible. The evening was recovered, but I was ‘sequestered’ for the night in a depressingly empty wine cellar, and by the time I was let to visit my lady’s chambers, my meager possessions were packed, and an estate guard set to watch over me. I told Amira I was being sent away, and she begged to join me, as miserable as she was here.

And then Tannael walked in. And the words dried up in my mouth. But Amira was right. Her absence might bring relief, but his, disaster. The cold wind that followed our departure was a mirror of my heart.

We successfully distracted our driver, sneaking Lady Amira into the coach, and it was only later, descending into Tearn from the winding mountain road, that he grew curious of ‘my’ regular whispering, and discovered her there. In an act of terror and desperation, she lunged at him with her knife, hitting only air, and I kicked the man from the coach, taking the reins, and leaving him behind.

It didn’t take long then, to make our way to the sprawling, but unkempt Moss grounds, where Amira discovered her sister gone, certainly sent into another ‘financial arrangement’ just like she had been, sent north, though, if we were correct. And it was from there that we eventually found ourselves in Braunstein, embroiled in a conspiracy that would determine the fate of magic in the Cresentlands.

I think that catches you up, dear reader, and we can go back to the ball, and I’ll fill you in with what you missed there.

Amira had heard from merchants passing through Braunstein that it might be possible her sister had married into a noble Tearn family who would be celebrating their first Firstmas in the capital. So she was unsurprised when she spied her parents chatting by the buffet. A brief interaction revealed that her sister was present, and having nothing further to say, Amira began her search anew.

You may remember that, while my colleagues were getting things done, I was enjoying myself on the dance floor, pulling in dancers who might be too shy to join unaided. And that’s how I found myself face-to-face and arm-in-arm with Tannael Dawnflare. That same heartbroken face I had last seen. I felt guilty, as I gushed about the fun and adventure that had caught me up, and he regaled me with the escalating lengths his family had gone to, to domesticate and marry off their heir. He was miserable, and what could I offer him? He needed me, and I couldn’t. Not now.

Amira, wringing a bloodied handkerchief, interrupted the dance to enlist my assistance in the search for her sister, and on our second circuit, Amira saw her sister dancing with a tall gentleman in the ballroom. When the piece ended, Amira went to her sister, the both of them in some semblance of shock. They strolled to the balcony, myself in tow. They spoke rapidly, hand in hand, Amira’s eyes taking in the whole room, before pulling gently on her sister. Adelaide protested, unwilling to leave the gala, and her new husband.

That was when an alarm was sounded, the gendarmes crying foul and murder. The guests were being rounded up, and Amira and I hurried toward the courtyard stairs, as the voices grew louder. From the balconey above, it seems Tannael had been watching, and he cried out and rand towards us, past me, with the grace and courage he had once enchanted me with, and straight into the pursuing guard, flattening the man, and allowing our escape to the coach and our worried compatriots waiting below.

the PirateF*cker 16

We set out south, hoping to find and kill a stone giant that had been terrorizing a few small towns in the southern parts of the continent. The first village we stopped at, and the village we anchored at, was in pristine condition, but had no one in it, and no bodies. Weirded out, we moved to another village further inland and asked about the giant. We took the directions that were a little too vague for a good search, and set to walking, where we got trapped in a small illusory loop in the forest. Dispelling it, we found the giant and his magic wielding giant friend, and slaughtered them both mercilessly. Fun day!

Verdant Frontiers of Tearn (13)
In which we attend a Ball!

Jax had waited patiently when Taman shared with us his story. When he was finished, she reminded him of the armour she had returned to him in the past, as a means of dampening the blow. After all of his hard work, it was, of course, Jax, who had unintentionally found the man he sought.

She shared her story with him, and the hit she was to carry out. Unsurprisingly, he was quick to suggest taking him out of the equation altogether, as soon as possible. On the other hand, it seemed that this Horatio Collins held significant sway in the city, and we feared upending the balance while we still had tasks to complete. Such as attending the Solstice Gala and hobnobbing with nobles and dancing with the up-and-coming. But I digress.

Lady Amira had been scoping out the city for her own ends, and she shared with us her discoveries: if she was right, her sister was due to arrive in Tearnyn shortly, and was in certain danger. We would hope to find her, consult with Father Sindaron, and party like it was 299, all before having to confront Horatio Collins and hopefully not plunging the city into gang wars.

The ball, as it happened, was a mere day away, and the none of us had invitations to the event.

Our ladies, Miss Linny in the lead, descended upon the Steele House, suddenly coy and cautious, at the prospect of being paired to Oliver’s dashing progeny. It appears the young men mirrored their sentiments, shy and blushing when Oliver revealed my compatriots’ intents.

Amira led the show, pulling Roland over to Miss Edan. They had teamed up in the fight versus the animated shrubbery, and Edan resigned herself to her date, with a few monosyllabic utterances. Amira cornered Richard, the oldest of the brothers, and promised to attend the gala with him. Jax, in typical fashion, pointed at Redmond, declared him hers, and was ready to leave. Alas, Helga was short a ticket, but would surely find something.

And so she did. She made her way to the Tearnyn high market, listening to shoppers, and when a half-orc nobleman despaired of having to go alone, she kindly solved his problem. Clever girl.

Miss Linny had her tender old heart set on Monte Rushmore. When we met that evening, she succinctly announced her success, before inquiring as to the progress of my search.

On a gamble, I went to the home of Dame Cala, an elderly elven woman I remembered fondly, from my visit with the family I once served, hoping to secure tickets for myself and Taman. I recognized her butler, a young man named Harold, and he took us to her sitting room. It was lovely to see her, but she could not offer any tickets. She offered a few leads to us, which were delightfully inappropriate: the Red Lance, the Dawnflares. I thanked her for her time, and when she uttered Taman’s unspoken surname, we hurried from her home.

I had to report to Miss Linny that I had failed to secure tickets. Miss Jax had something more interesting still, a letter shortening the timeframe in which she had to present the demise of Master Moonbrook to Collins.

It was decided that we would seek out the band playing for the ball, the Stargazers, at their usual haunt, Neptune’s. The stargazers are mostly an elven group, play a wide variety of instruments, and are led by Chet, a silvery, sinewy Aasimar.

I pulled up a stool near the stage where they played, my comrades filling into the fairly full tavern. When they took a break, I begged use of the stage, and their tools to keep the crowd entertained, and kindly, they accepted. I took to the dulcimer and began with a soft piece in an attempt to counter the Stargazer’s style, but I was out of practice, and the piece felt pleasant but stale. I took a moment to compose myself, and played a thrumming elven waltz. Several patrons took to their feet and began to dance, and by the time I was finished, Chet was grinning, and was happy to invite me, and my dancer (Taman shot me a pained glare) to play with them the following evening.

We spent some time listening to the Stargazers, before heading back to the Golden Gondola resting up to prepare for the big event.

In between cleaning and preening, we discussed what our plans would be for Taman at the ball. He was fairly adamant that dying was not part of his plans for the night, and suggested staging a failed attempt could put pressure on Collins to move on Taman, or Jax, himself. Amira, anticipating violence anyway, was prepared to present another body as Taman’s. Taman adjusted his original plan, such that Jax would tell the gnome the deed had been done, lead the crime lord to the ‘body’ and then take him out. This, it was decided, was actually a good plan.

We arrived at the hall in our various ways, with our various escorts, anticipating entertainment in many forms. The ballroom was elegant and extravagant, a fleet of servants fluttered in and out to meet every guest’s every need.

I had set up with the Stargazers, and was happy to see when the Steele boys arrived at the dancefloor with my comrades. Richard and Amira shared a dance, and I was reminded why she had been so coveted in her past, ripples of green silk fluttered as she and Richard, toured the floor. Jax and Edan disappeared, leaving the younger sons looking confused and, if not for each other, pitifully alone.

Miss Linny, with surprising grace, joined Master Rushmore for a dance, and surrendered the lead to Monte, her keen eyes probing the influx of guests at the event. Eventually, she sent Monte for refreshments, and she hurried off in pursuit of a gregariously adorned Father Sindaron.

As he would regale later, she took him aside, exchanging pleasantries, and led him from his fellow Chawnteans as she pressed him on matters of Firstmas, finally pulling the rug out from under him, sharing that she knew the seed was missing. Miss Linny, under the name Esmerelda, drew him into a quiet alcove to interrogate him further. He invited her to cast Zone of Truth to satisfy her questions, and, as such, she ultimately unveiled the First Seed. That, as well as her plan to leave for the heart of Tearn that very night.

Taman looked less a dancer, and more a hungry wolf, and I helped fill the dance floor so that his absense wouldn’t be noted. He met with Jax and Amira, who had scouted a suitable ambush. The sly young women then sought out Collins, discovering his goons in a curtained-off corridor. Amira was sent to bring Taman to the Ambush, while Jax made to collect her mark.

After some discussion, Jax was able to convince Collins, with his thugs in tow, to come to see the body, which she had left in the predetermined room. She led them through the ballroom, where she nodded to Helga and Edan to follow as well, and then announced herself to the ‘empty’ room.

The guards who were directed to collect the body announced its absence, drawing mock surprise from Jax, and prompting a gleam of silver as Amira expertly assassinated the first thug. Taman rose from his hiding place, eyes fixed on the stunned Horatio Collins. Jax, forgotten for the moment, slid her dagger through a second thug, who collapsed, clutching his throat as he fell.

Where was I? Well, of course, I was on the dance floor, Chet was crooning ‘The Girl from Subasakar’, and I was delighted to have come across Miss Catarina who spun effortlessly across the dance floor, and perhaps I wasn’t being the moral support I could be for Taman, but I’ll admit, I hadn’t noticed Jax collecting my compatriots.

Anyway, it is unfortunate that the music was of no consequence, or perhaps, it was key in muting the sounds of my dear friends as they faced off against the crime lord of Tearnyn.

Taman leaped over the desk that had hidden behind, one of Jax’ sharp daggers in his raised hand. He descended upon the gnome in a flurry of blows, striking the gnome four times in the space of mere seconds. When he was finished, the corpse was broken and torn, lying several feet from where the attack had begun.

Miss Linny burst onto the scene, barely noting the kerfuffle, to let Taman and the others know it was time to leave, and without any more ado, left the group to their own ends. Helga slipped into the room, putting down the third thug, and Edan slipped a pair of daggers into the last man’s chest.

He did not go down, but terror bleached his face, and he surrendered to my companions. Taman launched the gnome’s body from the open window, and the terrified thug leapt after him, perhaps to secure aid for his wounds. He was of no consequence.

Miss Linny sent the lot of them to collect transport, and warned a sad-looking Monte to leave town, perhaps to make his way back to Braunstein, where he would certainly be welcomed, perhaps even by Victoria Logain.

She hurried through the crowd, to one of the wagons that Master Steele had lent us for the evening, meeting one Father Sindaron with a small valise, and they were ready to go.

Except for one small problem.

Where did Amira and I go?

the PirateF*cker 15

We went to the tavern in the countryside to await the vampire’s coming, hoping to trap him so we could kill him. Yeah, like that was going to happen. While the entire village was quietly and quickly murdered around us, we sat in the comfort of the tavern and drank, waiting for him to show up. Eventually the shadow decided to take a look around and the shit started to fly. A few walls were exploded, some people were knocked unconscious, and the vampire was chased away while dragging two of our companions. The shadow caught him in a telekinesis spell and waited for the party to catch up, and we all had a great talk, wherein we persuaded the vampire to do the business that the other vampire was supposed to, namely turn two of our party into vampires. As it turned out, the two companions’ lives were traded for this,(but they were brought back by bodryn) and we made a new friend, as Cassius Marcus was the one to create this vampire and so now hated the lot of us. Contented, revived, vampired, and bruised, we all made our way back to the mostly destroyed tavern to drink while the shadow burned the rest of the village down.

Verdant Frontiers of Tearn (12)
Jax makes some friends.

Our suite was brightened with dried redleaf boughs, a regional Firstmas practice, which, while attractive, has a distinctive acrid odour. Which is why I slipped out in the early morning to try to find a florist with more pleasant greenery.

Before I could even locate the florist, I stumbled into Monte Rushmore, browsing the market as well. The man was in a terrible condition, which shocked me, because I had very recently seen the man in good health. Monte was bruised and battered, and he cringed when he stepped with his right foot.

When I inquired after his well-being, he was evasive, insisting that there was no problem, and brushing me off curtly, and retreating from the market altogether. He didn’t respond as I kept pace with him, and I chattered idly to avoid rousing untoward suspicion in any passers-by.

At his threshold, Monte dismissed me, leaving me only able to provide him with our temporary residence, and I hurried back to the Golden Gondola. I gently prodded my compatriots in the lounge, Miss Linny, Master Moonbrook, and Miss Jax, and led them upstairs to our suite, to divulge Master Rushmore’s condition.

Miss Linny immediately identified the resources we could take advantage of, and encouraged our Miss Jax to connect to the underbelly of the capital. Jax vehemently insisted her skills were only used with good intentions, but conceded that she was perhaps the right choice for the job, and after asking directions to the Cordigan House, retreated to her room. When she emerged, her hair was askew, her complexion dirty, and she wore a collection of tatters one could only hope to find while scrounging refuse unwanted by even the most desperate of the destitute. She left before a comment could be made.

Taman briefly mentioned that he could make some inquiries while he attended to his own business, and Miss Linny and I headed to sit in on a Chawntean service. The massive cathedral was moderately filled with worshippers of all walks of life. Wealthy merchants, dignified nobles, city labourers, visiting country-folk, and even a small number of folk clearly on the rough end of their luck were welcomed in the hall. We slipped in beside some friendly-looking sisters, just as the service was beginning.

The ostentatious parade of clergy shuffled down the aisle, led by a gold-and-green-robed bishop who laid a sheaf of wheat at the statue of Chawntea, before choosing some select passages to read. As the bishop efforted, largely unsuccessfully, to breathe life into the dusty text, Miss Linny was leaning forward, intently scrutinizing the clergy.

The lovely young lady beside me, a Catarina Stone, was very helpful in finding the appropriate hymnals when they were introduced, and I enjoyed singing along with the joyful crowd. Miss Linny was a little sulky to discover I hadn’t spent the service ferreting out the ministry’s secrets, and Linny queried Catarina about one of the celebrants she had been watching. The man was one Father Sindaron, and described as kindly. We left as the congregation began to break up.

We returned to our inn briefly, and discovering that Jax had not made an appearance since her departure, we made a circuit of the common markets, which Miss Linny suggested Jax had been pillaging.

Given Miss Jax’ usual retinue of youngsters, we surmised the best plan would be to query them. Before any more discussion, Miss Linny transformed into The Mean Old Lady™, and several street urchin’s froze at her voice. She snapped at them, demanding to know of our elven friend, and threatening them with amputations. When the children tried to beg, Miss Linny spun the act around so that they were putting her out. The woman is a maelstrom of an actress, in another life she might be a quite a player, though I wouldn’t wish her on the rest of the cast.

Still, Miss Linny parted ways with the ten coppers asked, and the kids began to spill some details. That she was looking for Rushmore. But pressed for more coins to tell us where she had gone. Which was when Miss Linny took leave of her senses, and summoned twisting vines to hold the children fast.

The children started shrieking, and nearby shoppers froze to stare. The trick worked, and the kids spit up the name of the Red Lance. Miss Linny defended her actions, while a red-faced constable hurried up to us. He admonished Miss Linny, while she strutted her acting chops, but it was when I assured the man I would make certain that she got her medication that he was finally satisfied that we would pose no more danger.

We hurried to this The Red Lance, following their directions, and peering in the storefront window we saw Jax, who had either expanded on her costume, or was genuinely more ruffled than before. I entered the shop to see if there was any trouble. Jax darted out with a wide look in her eyes, and I turned to follow her out. The surprised proprietor tried to assist me, but Miss Linny stepped in to discuss ordering a sickle.

We hurried after Miss Jax, and had the most syllabic conversation with her on the way back to the Gondola, starting with her telling us that we couldn’t have called her by her name in the shop. When we got to our rooms, she confessed that she may have gotten herself in the crosshairs of a local crimelord in the search for Monte’s assailant, a job performed by the crimelord’s own goons, because he owed the man for loans. And then the elven mess suggested we would have to save Taman next. Why? Miss Jax had been hired to kill him. Well, not Jax, but Emily, agent of the Green Circle, Jax’ new alter ego. Her tale was quite tangled, and I asked her to start at the beginning.

She had gone to the shop, to visit a Ronaldo, who interviewed her before inviting her to meet The Duke, a gnome in the basement of The Red Lance. She said she was with the Green Circle, and wanted to know who had roughed up Rushmore, and learned that he owed money to The Duke, who was putting pressure on the ex-landowner to repay. Jax was released, minus her purse and magic rope, on the condition that she take out Master Moonbrook. Our Taman.

Jax assured us that she had convinced the Duke not to discuss their meeting with her supposed bosses, and postulated that the gnome might actually be Horatio Collins, the man Taman was trying to locate. While we know little of Taman’s exploits before Braunstein, the theory held water.

Miss Linny asked Julian about the Duke, and he confirmed our suspicions, The Duke was indeed Horatio Collins. And perhaps, as Miss Linny proposed, perhaps we would fake Taman’s death.

As for the half-elf in question, Taman is often as closed-mouthed as Jax, but this is what I have come to understand about his excursion in Tearnyn this day. He visited a Dwarven bookshop, and found directions to an information centre. At the information centre, he was able to find the address of a property of Horatio Collins.

((Later, in The Dowager’s Riddle I overheard some chatter describing an assailant of Taman’s description, who had vandalized a records book and vanished into the crowds in the market. The man said something about a duke, and then he and his compatriots’ voices lowered, drowned out by the hubbub in the pub))

Taman made his way to the building according to the address he was given, and found the building locked up with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. According to a local, the building never held any resident.

the PirateF*cker 14

Having destroyed the pirate outpost and having claimed it for the Red Dawn, we looted it and stole a few small ships to sell. There was a hefty sum of gold there, which we contemplated taking, but it was to go to the Red Dawn for the war effort. We sailed our new and undermanned ship home to Tearn, where we decided to look for more contracts. Mo contracts, mo money. There were a few that caught our attention, but one to hunt down a vampire sealed the deal, especially since we thought it likely that someone else would try to complete it as well. Through the sacrifice of souls, and no small amount of luck, we found the woman masquerading as a bartender in a seedy tavern in the south of the city. Quietly convincing her that we knew what she was and that we did not want to hurt her, we went into the cellar with her to talk. That’s how you do it, right? As it turned out, one of our party wanted to become a vampire for the benefits that it would bring, and the woman/vampire agreed, if we could help her fake her death so the empire would leave her alone. Coincidentally, she was not supposed to have been made a vampire in the first place, and so had no problem granting our wannabe-vampire-monk vampirism. In order to fake her death though, we would have to track down and kill another vampire so that we could magically shape the face, and make the bluff believable. It just so happened that we had another vampire whom we wanted very much to have a word with, and with a little more soul sacrificing, we made ready to set up a trap for him.


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