CSD- Fiction From EM DrosselmeyerReturn to: CHESAPEAKE SHARD DIRECTORY
Toil And Trouble 11-22-11
Britain Beacon 11-22-11
Smoke and Murders 10/20/11
Borne on Ill Tidings 10/19/11
In Search of Shathenth 6-15-11
Paws Compiled 5-18-11
Uncovering The Past 5-9-11
Native to the Savage Tongue 2-22-11
Breaking Command 2-22-11
In Pursuit of Truth 8-25-11
Proper Clearance 8-31-10
Proper Clearance 8-31-10
The investigators had swiftly taken control of Sheffield’s house and secured the location, for the second time. After searching the house, being careful not to disturb anything, they just shook their heads. “Can you believe this request even went through? We’d already done a cursory inspection, and there’s nothing to find here. A secondary inspection by us is pointless, and having rank amateurs show up is even worse. Sheffield was smart, too smart to keep anything compromising here.” The investigator practically spat this out vehemently to his colleague, surveying the rooms. There was just a bunch of random books on the shelves, a few pulled out, the usual things that disguised the house as a healers residence…And the small box of Sheffield’s belongings. He had the vaguest notes on investigations, and probably did what all good spies did; trained his memory to keep all the important stuff in his head. They did a thorough double check, copied every book in the place, returned things to where they were found, and then cleared the area, locking the house up tight behind them.
“Send a message to Lieutenant Irina that she’s cleared for searching, along with coordinates. If those people just want to keep wasting their time, let them. You ask me, though, they should’ve left the clueless Lieutenant in Papua where she wouldn’t be getting in the way of us doing our jobs.”
In Pursuit of Truth 8-25-11
First Lieutenant Gwen Irina was not pleased. This wasn’t uncommon in and of itself; She didn’t take excessive pleasure from almost anything aside from a job well done. But in this case, she was bothered by the fact that she had a job that was badly done. She’d been suspicious after the encounter that Commander Foxx had told her of with the Servant and the Tinker’s apprentice. Things just didn’t add up. There was no evidence of magic used, necromantic or otherwise. The trauma on the body pointed towards someone of considerable skill and ability with weapons, and she had her doubts; Heavy and ponderous, they weighed on her and caused her to slump ever so slightly. It was time to reopen the investigation…
OOC The Investigation into Sheffields death has been reopened, due to a reexamination of the evidence in light of events. Players should feel free to join Lieutenant Irina Thursday night at 9 PM EST If they wish to share any findings they might have after thinking over what was previously learned. Those questioned before may have new information.
Please note that if you cannot attend, you may still question the witnesses for some time after the event. See you all there!
Breaking Command 2-22-11
(This is back story involving Captain Irina’s past, just before she was assigned to Papua.)
Gwendolyn Irina sat stoically in the office of her commanding officer’s superior, who was scowling ever the worse at her between reading the message she’d been sent with. It didn’t help that she was bleeding onto both her uniform and his chair. After rereading the letter for the second time, the officer steepled his fingers together and waited in silence for her to say something. After several minutes the officer finally spoke.
“Do you want to explain yourself on this? Maybe claim some sort of temporary insanity? Because this isn’t going to end well for you without some reasonable justification. I’ve got here…” He said as he picked up the parchment and gestured towards it, “A signed and sworn statement by the two junior guards who saw the altercation stating that your commander spoke with you about something, and you took a swing at him for it, pulping his face pretty well before you were restrained and subdued yourself. You’ve already been demoted once for insubordination, but this time you might be looking at worse.”
Gwen reached up with one hand and wiped some of the blood from her face, though her lip was still bleeding fairly profusely. “Sir, you have my own statement. Is it not clear, sir?” Her voice was strong and sure despite her own injuries.
The officer picked up the paper and looked over it with a sigh. “Irina, it’s your statement against his. He’s been with the guard for seven years now in Minoc, and there’ve never been any issues. You got transferred to Minoc three months after your demotion. You claim that he ordered you to collect money from some locals he was blackmailing. You also claim he didn’t give you specifics on who before you hauled off and hit him. He says that he told you to join a routine patrol with the two junior guards, and that you refused, first verbally and then physically. Right now it’s your word against his, and the junior guards are backing him up on it. Are you sure you don’t want to change your story?”
Gwen grimaced darkly at hearing that. She should’ve thought over the fact that the junior guards were probably in on it with him. She’d been raised in Trinsic from a young age to always follow the virtue of Honor, and she’d not hesitated to take a swing at the man when he told her what he planned. She’d seen red and acted on her first instinct. She still didn’t have to think over the officer’s offer for long though. “Sir, No Sir. My statement is a sworn document and I have told the truth in it.”
The officer stood from his desk and sighed, pacing back and forth a minute while rubbing his forehead with a thumb and forefinger. “Irina, you’re a good soldier, an excellent combatant, a knowledgeable tactician, and I personally wouldn’t think twice about you guarding my back in any situation. But you’ve got a temper, and you need to control it. Regardless of whether or not I believe you here, all the evidence is against you. And it’s especially bad when your commanding officer, the one whose nose you broke, is pushing for you to just be transferred instead of being brought up on charges. That’s a lot more lenient than most officers would be.”
Gwen scowled deeper at that notion. Her commanding officer was apparently smart enough to even come up with a valid reason for not having an in depth investigation and disguise it as leniency. “That’d be your decision to make, Sir. I don’t mind there being a trial.”
The officer sighed once more as he looked out his window, before turning to her. “No, I think we’ll go with his suggestion. Despite how sure you seem of yourself, without any real evidence I doubt you’ll convince anyone else, and I’d rather you be with the guard than kicked out. It’ll make us all look bad either way, and you’re not someone we want to lose. As you know, Papua hasn’t had anyone in a rank stationed above sergeant in some time. You’ll be in charge of the few guards who are stationed there, and your task will be to watch the Ophidians for anything suspicious or out of the ordinary. Is there any problem with that, First Lieutenant Irina?”
Gwen stood up briskly to attention and snapped up her hand in a crisp salute, despite the throbbing in her knuckles from where she’d punched the man. She held the salute until the officer returned it, and was dismissed from his office.
Native to the Savage Tongue 2-22-11
[Fiction: Native to the Savage Tongue] (This is back story involving the Hermit.)
The hermit scowled at those who had interrupted his solitude as of late, though he had known eventually they would come to him. It was as he was told they would, after all. Many years ago, far past those which he could still count, he had been an adventurer; He had gone through the deepest caves, the darkest dungeons, and the highest cliffs, but he always yearned for more. There had been rumors of a tribe of savages that while their customs were similar to that of the other savage tribes, were not outwardly hostile as the rest were of outsiders. It was said that these particular savages held the key to finding a secret temple, and it was this that he was interested in. In traversing the lands to find them, he knew that he had eventually made his way to the Temple, but his memory was sketchy at best. He vaguely remembered some sort of terrible accident befalling him, and waking up quite some time later in the care of one of the shamans. His wounds were for the most part healed, but he found that a more distressing issue had arisen; He had forgotten how to speak in his original tongue!
It was many months later before he was able to walk and talk well, but since the savages knew little of Brittanian tongue, they had instead taught him their own. In doing so they had taught him of the full story of the Temple, the reason behind their reverence of it, and so much more. His loss of memory had caused him to lose his sense of purpose as well, but he had now found a new one. With all that the savages had told him about the temple, he knew that it was something that needed to be guarded…to be protected from those who were not worthy of entering it’s halls. To do so would likely save countless lives of the unwitting, and even more so…prevent an even greater tragedy from befalling. When he explained this idea to the Chieftain and the Grand Shaman, they expressed disbelief that an outsider would be willing and able to do such a thing. They put his devotion to the test through torturous practices and traditions…but he passed each one with a courage seen by the fiercest of their warriors. With the blessing of the Chieftain and the aid of the Grand Shaman, they constructed the EpiOlmec Cascajal, and the chieftain hid clues in the words of the Brittanians throughout Malas. With the EpiOlmec Cascajal secure with his tribe, and the clues to unlock it scattered across the lands, the chieftain bid a final farewell to the Hermit. Should the worst happen to the tribe, the legacy of the temple would live on. And the hermit intended to live amongst the lands of Malas for the rest of his days.
Uncovering The Past 5-9-11
“Hey! Watch that! Some of this stuff is ancient!” Captain Irina shouted to one of the recruits helping to relocate the crates of Mornwok’s goods. “It’s not going to be of any use to us if it’s all busted!” She grumbled out something about diligence as she helped carry the next set of crates off the heavily laden pack horses. She heard a crash of wood and pottery and she quickly set her crate down and ran to where the noise had come from.
“Captain! I’m sorry, it was an accident, I swear!”
Just as Irina was about to open her mouth and yell at the man she noticed that there was more than just the remains of the vase and crate there, there was a bound book with a few scrolls tied to it with twine. She frowned and knelt, picking them up and dusting them off. The book looked positively ancient.
“Um…Captain, did you want me…”
Irina gave the recruit a scowl. “Just get back to unloading the horses. I’ll clean this up. You may have stumbled on something important.” She took the book inside and sat at a desk, laying it open as she unfurled one of the scrolls that appeared to be a map of the Fens of the Dead with markings on it that she didn’t recognize. The second scroll turned out to be a more familiar map, but with scribbled indicators written on it in some sort of code she couldn’t decipher. As she looked through the book, it seemed to have had markings or pages with notations on it; From as best she could tell they could have been Mornwok’s handwriting, but she couldn’t be sure. What she could tell by the time she finished looking through it was that the Commander would definitely want to see it.
“And are you alright with our request to keep a display copy of the ones we found for you?” The archivist asked.
“Yes, that’s fine. But if you see anyone asking about it matching the description I gave you, call the guards and stall them.” Irina said sternly, as she put the copies into her satchel. It seemed her trip to the Lycaeum last eve after the skirmish may not have been in vain. It remained to be seen what these books would contain, however, and she’d had to trade them a copy of the book she had found, but they promised to return it once they had a copy in the next day or so. She walked out briskly to head to the armorers and have her gear checked out. The murderers had fought fiercely, and she had a feeling she could use some repairs…
Paws Compiled 5-18-11
Below is a list of all player written fiction for the Paws scenario; Presented exactly as they were presented to us, and with the players name written. The only exception is one sample which we have not received a response back from the person who wrote it to say which name they wanted to be known for on it. All of the submissions were fantastic and we loved reading them, and hope that you all enjoy them as well. Without anything further, here they are.
Valus’ Inferno – The Chronicle of the Death of Paws
Author: Valus Caormastus, of the Cult of Virtue.
Player Author: Balthier Trakand
“This way, a good soul never passes.”
– Written in Blood on the Church Ruins of Paws.
To the Patriarch Marcius IV, Reverend Father of the Cult of Virtue, and Keeper of the Heart of the Earth.
It is with trepidation, and no small grain sorrow, that I pen this missive to thee. For if thou are reading this, I am already dead.
But even as the shadow closes in around me, and the curse that has stolen my vigor now lays claim to my soul, I realize that I live only for the mercy of the Light, who has given unto me this final chance to reveal the grim truth I hold close to my heart, and divulge a secret the Powerful would see hidden.
I refer to the destruction of Paws, Marcius, and to the atrocities that were inflicted upon innocent men. I refer to an evil that still festers in its fetid swamps, waiting for the right moment to unleash itself upon Our World.
You know the histories. You know that long ago, in the Age before Cantabrigian, Paws was no more than a humble farming village located on the Golden Plains of Valencia. It was simple, unimposing, and all but ignored by the feuding warlords and aristocratic barons that divided the land then.
It was the place of my birth, and it, like I, was not prepared for the evil that would rain down upon it.
Mondain, the Son of Wolfgang, had hoped to become the god of this world. He believed in his madness that only through the corruption of the Gem – and the sacrifice of some ten million souls – could man regain his rightful place amongst the Stars of Heaven. To that end he blasphemed against the Light, fornicating with Devils, and sharing his knowledge with beasts who sailed amongst the stars. He *****d human women to their slave masters, and exchanged flesh for precious magic and technology our kind has not known since we departed Earth, more than three millennia ago.
The Age of Darkness, as it would come to be known, was a time of bloodshed and famine, the likes of which are all but incomprehensible to those who were not there. I tell you now, Marcius, give thanks to the Light that you were not yet born, for I shudder even now to think of the atrocities I bore witness to. Give thanks, each night, that the world had not again faced such an Apocalypse. We would not survive it.
Paws, along with much of the Empire, was set to the torch by the Legions of the Dark Lord, leaving only ashes and misery in their path. It was only under the banner of a single Duke, Cantabrigian, who would become our Prophet and Lawgiver, and his Champion, Ganji of Earth, that Sosaria was spared.
But it was not saved. The Shattering did not free the world. It damned it. For in that fateful moment, when Ganji brought down his sword upon the Gem, Sosaria was broken forever. The world was rent in fire. Seas boiled and became like blood. Continents rose and sank. Civilizations, lost in the desperate swoop of one mans sword, a billion souls snuffed out in one instant. Light, I pray that the deaths of those vast multitudes came swiftly, and without pain. Theirs was the more merciful fate.
The remnants of the continent that would become Britannia, it is said, emerged strong and powerful, not because it was so before the Breaking, but because it was spared the worst of the atrocities heaped on other nations. It was unto this land that Ganji, the Stranger, would be given a heroes welcome, honored as the Savior of Light and Virtue, before disappearing forever into the Chronicles of Man.
Cantabrigian would restore Akalabeth, later to become Britain, while sending his most loyal servants west and south to map out this strange, broken new world. Those of us who returned to Paws, or what we thought was Paws, discovered a broken and lifeless shell poised on the edge of the New Sea. The lowlands and fields were replaced with a shallow surf, and the far hills, with its ancient pagan temple, became Islands.
We barely recognized our home, and those with means elected to depart for the West, where new farming villages offered new opportunities in the woodlands of Caledonia. Others chose to go South, where Paladin Japeth, and Crawworth were erecting a New Trinsic, the Sentinel of the South. I was one of the fortunate, but chose instead to travel across the Sea to the opulent Magincia. It had once been a river port, where traders from the Lands of Rondolin and Olympus might trade their wares. In the Breaking, it had become an Isle in its own right, poised to become the trading center of a New Kingdom. It was there I elected to be schooled in the teachings of the Light, becoming a Theologian.
It was not long into the Reign of Cantabrigian, now called British, that War, that most ancient and cruel of human practices, would again threaten to consume all Sosaria. Robere, claiming descent from the Ancient Line of Kings, announced that he was the true and rightful heir to the crown Cantabrigian now wore, and he had formed a Legion of Royalists and Mercenaries to prove his “…Legitimacy.”
The Usurper was a cunning and ruthless tactician, managing to carve out a Kingdom of his own in the North, while the valiant Britannians, led by Cantabrigian and Blackthorne, managed to hold the South, though losses on both sides were great. It was during this period, I learned, that my home had taken on a new purpose: a camp for the sick, the wounded, the dying. Legions of the injured, having sacrificed life and limb in the name of Cantabrigian, were shipped here, along with the plagued, victims of Robere’s penchant for poisoning wells and hurling plague infected corpses over City Walls.
I was a young man, then, and quite naïve. I was a philosopher, and theologian in profession, but a healer at heart. I hoped to help Britannia, and Paws, in whatever way I could, so I boarded a ship, leaving all that I had behind, and returned to the village of my birth.
I was …horrified when the village port came into view. It had become a walled place, festering with rot, the skies dark with furnaces used to cremate the dying thousands. I did not turn back, though my stomach churned at the thought of what I might discover within. Light, I should have. But I could sense the need of the sick, the dying, the great plight within. I could smell death, rot, and decay.
Light help me, Marcius. I could not turn away.
I am told the defeat of Robere was Glorious. The final charge of the newfound Order of the Silver Serpent, something to be remembered in song and prose. But lets not mince words, or exchange in falsehoods. It was a shameful slaughter.
Let it not be said Our Prophet, Cantabrigian, was injust in his War, for the tyranny he fought against is echoed in the dictatorships of later men. In Blackthorne, and in Casca. But let us glorify the things he fought for, not the means by which he fought it.
I could have left then, now that the war was over. I should have left then. Studies into the deeper meaning of existence, and a young woman, awaited me in Magincia. But I could not leave the dying behind. I could hear the screams of terror in my dreams, I could feel their suffering, and I knew I must remain amongst them.
It was during this period, a new man became the Lord Mayor of Paws. Vorigern. And it was under his …leadership that the Village took an even darker hue.
The walls became a prison. No longer did they keep bands of roving marauders out, but instead, the people within, in. For plague flourished amongst us despite the best efforts of our healing. No longer could communication occur with the outside world.
And no longer was Paws a place to send the sick, the dying. It had begun with the Last Legion of Robere, survivors of the Battle of Altmere, now the Crimson Plains. The Legion was forced into makeshift prison camps on the edge of the Village. Inquisitors, bearing the Seal of the Monarch, began extracting confessions from the soldiers, divining from them the location of any pockets of resistance that might oppose Cantabrigian’s Rule. And only healers, chosen by Vortigern, were permitted amongst their number.
Healers, who turned the powers of Life to Destruction and Woe, sterilizing thousands of men, and using them to test new diseases, and cures.
It was not long before the resistance was crushed. Political prisoners, and any who stood in opposition to the Britannian Court were sent here. Such nobles could not be executed – such violated the Old Codes and might stir rebellion in the North – but they could be removed from their ancestral manors and locked in a Plagued Colony.
It was then that I met Gustave Hohenstaufen.
He was something to behold, Gustave. Tall. Dignified. With light brown hair that cascaded in curls down his back. Dark, often narrowed eyes that bore with them the aura of command, and features that were at once brooding and seductive. He was every much a King as Cantabrigian, and as he was hauled on a prison cart into the City, people fell back in awe or looked away as his eyes swept across them. Such was the power of this strange man.
I am told he was a minor noble, one of mixed heritage. Akalabethan, on his mothers side, and Valderian, on his fathers, a Northman. His sole crime? The impregnation of the wife of a Duke in the favor of Cantabrigian.
He would be brought to me in the mornings, after the sadistic indignation of the inquisitors were satisfied, and with what herbal knowledge I possessed, I mixed a special poultice that would ease the pain and heal the worst of his scourgings, that he might be again put to the Question.
Despite our differences, I, a man of the cloth, and he, a vain noble, he and I began to speak, and I found him to be a profoundly intelligent man. He might quote passages from Revivalist Poetry and Ancient Liturgy in the same breath, and was well versed in the Arts and Sciences of the age. The one thing I found abhorrent, however, was his strange fascination with the dark arts; in particular the names and aspects of demons, an interest I could not imagine being sparked in the education of a young noble.
And not surprisingly, Gustave became acquainted with Vortigern, the two spending long hours in study and debate within his library.
It was during this period that the shadow would fall again on Paws, and I would be forever changed.
At last, the sick and the dying stopped streaming in. The War of Succession was over. Yet despite my pleas to return to Magincia, I was barred from leaving. A new plague had begun to spread, it was said, and every Healer and Priest would be needed to fight it. I was left with no choice in the matter.
I am not certain when I began to understand something terrible was at work. Was it when I turned back from the Gates, and saw Vortigern, wreathed in black, staring down at me with such hate I shudder now to remember it? Was it the first night, when the scream of a woman awakened me from a nightmare, or the fifth, when the half-eaten corpse of a young maiden was discovered in the alley behind my apartment? Was it when the Order of the Silver Serpent built an encampment on the edge of the Village as though preparing for war?
Or was it two weeks later, when the dead began to walk again, hungering for the flesh of the living?
It was called the Plague of the Necromonger, which caused the infected to begin developing flu like symptoms. Hemopysis, and the development of black leisions soon followed.
It would have been easy to believe the illness was the Black Death, which had not broken out in centuries, and not something more …malignant. That sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Nothing prepares you for a man he pronounced dead three hours before rising up and attempting to sink his teeth into your arm.
The plague spread quickly, and within a month, roving mobs of undead haunted the allies at night. We had no recourse but to dismember the newly dead and burn their remains while their flesh was still warm. Light, forgive me for what I did in the name of the Greater Good.
During the evenings I would speak with Gustave. He seemed surprisingly …unaffected by what was happening around us, and remained in good cheer. He revealed to me that Vortigern was studying the corpses of those …zombies laid low, and the Plague. He told me the enemy would use it one day against us, thus it was important we understand it, that we might mitigate the worst atrocities.
Were we the experiments? I wonder.
It was then that a woman – Aurelia – disappeared. She had been carried off into the night, it was said, her captors having managed to smuggle her through a tunnel under the wall.
To my surprise, instead of sending the Order, Gustave was permitted to form a militia and leave the Gates. I was the first he asked to accompany him. Despite my ineptitude in all things warfare, I could not refuse, for I knew the woman, and her husband who fate would place amongst the prisoners of Robere’s Legion. I accepted the mission.
We marched west into the Drachenwald, now called Spiritwood, in search of the woman and her captors, and spent hours searching for tracks. I heard movement. I turned.
I must have been knocked out cold, for when I awoke, I discovered the corpse of a soldier atop me. I also heard whispers, something about the time when the barrier between worlds becomes weak, and the eclipse that would “…open the Gate.”
I managed to climb from beneath the corpse and stand. There I beheld Gustave, and to my surprise, Vortigern, standing in a moonlit glade, staring down at the corpse of a woman, her mouth and lifeless eyes open as if to scream, a dagger plunged into her heart.
Vortigern turned, and with a sneer, he acknowledged me. He explained, when I had regained control of the contents of my stomach, that the search party had been ambushed by the dead. Killed to the last man. Gustave had survived, only because of his Swordsmanship, having driven back the dead, injuring the Necromancer responsible for this ritual, but not before he had completed this unholy sacrifice.
Something was amiss. I knew that, somewhere inside, but however much I loathed Vortigern, I was inclined to trust in the goodness and valor of Gustave.
In the following weeks, Gustave continued to lead his militia against the Living Dead in the Village. Yet despite his valiant crusade, and the best efforts of the crematorium, the dead mobs seemed to be growing in number each night.
The Order offered us no aid. Instead, the Knights kept the gate locked and barred. We were each potential carriers, their Grand Master, Lord Delacroix, announced from behind the Wall, and until a cure could be found, no one was leaving no matter how dire things became within.
Vortigern, in the few instances he departed his manor at the center of town, seemed anxious and aloof. A fellow healer claimed to have seen him in the streets one evening, babbling incoherently, and I did not doubt the rumor, though I convinced myself it was something less sinister, perhaps stress, and not an inner malevolence being loosed from the inner reaches of that mans wretched soul.
The night before the eclipse, as fate would have it, I indulged in an old ritual, searching out the nearest pub. I seldom partook in the fruit of the Vine, a ritual associated with the fat and impious friars of Dal Riata, now called Yew. But I was careworn, and it seemed a sinless indulgence considering the circumstances. It was there, in the eerily quiet common room, windows boarded incase the dead decide to lay siege to the Inn, that I found Judith. Gustaves new lover sat huddled in the corner, holding herself. I moved to her side, and inquired as to the nature of her suffering. She gazed up at me, and with a haunted look that I shall not soon forget, she whispered, telling me Gustave had sacrificed …her. I inquired as to whom, and with tears in her eyes, she responded, “Aurelia. Edith. And now, Annabelle.”
It struck me like a blow across the face. I reeled backwards, not because the first seeds of suspicion hadn’t been planted before this night, but because her words gave those suspicions nourishment, a place to grow, and I could no longer convince myself that such misgivings were falsehood.
Whatever look I had on my face, it must have startled her, for she doubled over as though in pain, and fainted. I would have confronted him then, but I could not leave her, not in that state. Ergo, I endeavored to bear her back to my apartment where I could question her further, but that journey proved far more perilous than I had anticipated. For a ravenous corpse leapt from the shadows, nearly tearing her from my arms, and had it not been for the brave act of a young woman, bludgeoning the things skull in with a crude club, I might not be writing this.
Judith awoke the next morning, clearly no more sane than she had been the night before. I saw to it one of my apprentices watched over her, and then proceeded to the Mansion occupied by Gustave.
The doors were unlocked, but the door held fast as I pushed. So, with a growl, I threw my weight against it and shoved. It moved, slowly at first, and that is when the lingering scent of death overwhelmed me.
I looked in. The maimed corpses of liveried servants, having attempted to flee, were piled against the door, there bodies hacked to pieces. Annabelle sat in a chair, and for a moment I thought her alive.
I shudder, even now, as I recall the profusion of death laid before me, of her form, adorned in a wedding dress, now stained with blood. A slash across her carotid artery suggested a quick death, a clean death, and not the work of a ravenous zombie. I knelt down and closed her eyes, wiping from her lips a larvae that sought to crawl nestle inside the open orifice.
I made to turn back then, and should have, for this task was best left to the authorities, but then a shadow moved in the room and into the dining hall. I moved to follow, but it disappeared before I could pursue. Again, I would have turned back. I should have turned back. But then I heard it. Chanting. An ancient tongue not meant to be uttered by the lips of man. I admit, I was transfixed, perhaps even curious. I descended down a set of spiraling stairs, and it was there, in the basement, I found …him.
Gustave stood at the head of a black altar, its edges crusted with dried blood. On the altar writhed Edith, wrists bound, stripped to the waist, a crude gag preventing her from screaming. The man held a bloodied athame over her chest, and chanted in Enochian.
I called out his name. He looked at me, and smiled, daring me to stop him, as though he thought me powerless. Perhaps I was. But that arrogant smirk twisted into a look of surprise, and loathing, as booted feet sounded behind me.
Chanting. A raised hand. A ball of flame leapt from Vortigerns hand and screamed across the chamber. Gustave deflected it, a shower of sparks exploding harmlessly around an invisible barrier surrounding the Necromancer and his Sacrifice.
“You cannot stop me now,” he screamed, and before I could take a step forward and stop him, Gustave plunged the ritual dagger into Edith with all his might.
I dare not repeat all that transpired, for I shudder now to remember it. The world became black as the blackest night. The pentagram on the floor began to glow, and spin, as though the ground had become the sea, churning around the maelstrom at its heart. The walls faded. And on every hand, I saw a great plain of woe, and cruel torment. Tombs, scoured in flame, made to glow all over, hotter than iron need be for any craft. And such dire laments issued fourth, as only come from those who are truly wretched, suffering, and forever lost.
I beheld Hell.
And there in our midst, I beheld a being both terrible and beautiful, shameful to look upon, our own sins reflected back at us. Vortigern and I watched, helpless, as we share Gustaves depraved vision, and listened as the Evil One offered him immortality, revenge, perhaps even godhood, if he would but perform one favor. Sacrifice each living soul in Paws, condemning their innocent souls to Damnation.
It was a price he was more than willing to pay.
I know not how long I was unconscious. But I woke to Vortigern standing over me in that basement. Gustave, gone. And on my person was a strange mark. While I understood not its meaning, not its purpose at the time, I knew the script to be ancient and foul. A Brand of Sacrifice.
Vortigern explained to me, in hushed tones, that Gustave had traded his immortal soul to Hell, and in exchange had become the vessel of a being from the Void. To complete the geas, he needed to sacrifice each man, each woman, and child living in Paws to complete the Ritual. Edith? The Eclipse? He had opened a Gate to the Aether, and even now, hellish creatures of the Void were pouring out into the streets, butchering the sleeping in their beds.
Vortigern explained that he had been a Necromancer, permitted to live and practice his art, in exchange for his knowledge, which would be needed in the fight against the Lieutenants of Mondain still haunting the dark places of the world. He had been experimenting with the Plague in private, but Gustave had discovered this secret, stealing it and unleashing the Plague upon the Village. When Vortigern had learned what was happening, it was too late.
Then he revealed to me the darkest secret of all. This was not the work of Gustave alone, but a greater web. The Order had planted the idea in the mans head, knowing he would summon the Devil and become his vessel. The Order planned to defeat the Evil here on the Mortal Plane, and even now their number was laying siege to the City, prepared to strike down the Living, the Dead, and the Demonic. He bid me escape, if I could. He would use his powers to stop Gustave, if he could, and if not, all was lost. That was the last I ever saw either of them. I fled then. I fled, avoiding mobs of zombies and winged, demonic creatures, grabbing up Judith, escaping with her under the walls in the confusion.
I would learn of the destruction of Paws when I arrived in Britain. The Criers declared it an Orc Incursion, and that the Order of the Silver Serpent managed to quell the it, but not before the village was put to the torch. What remained, the charred rubble and rotting foundations would sink into the mud, forever lost. Thus was born the Fens of the Dead.
Gustave was never found, Marcius. His name is not on the records of the dead. And those few survivors who managed to escape have been dying, murdered one by one. I fear that as the next eclipse approaches, more than two decades later, Gustave is alive, and he is attempting to finish the ritual.
I do not possess the strength to fight him, Faithful Brother. I am an old man long before my time. The Plague waits for me to shed my last breath, that my body might rise again and hunt the living.
When you read this, Brother, the poison has already touched my lips. You will not arrive in time to stop me. I have left instructions in the accompanying envelope, how to dismember my body, and scatter my ashes in accordance with our Faith.
Light, give you the strength to do what must be done.
Author: Helena Von Wyck
Player Author: Fanny Firebottom
Well, father will just have to accept that I will not be running his shop now or ever. I told him that it is simply not my calling and that I wanted to be a healer. I wanted to help people. He just looked at me and then walked out of the shop. They will let me go I swear it! Now I just have to figure a way to tell Mother…
So, after all the china was swept off the floor and the liquor bottles righted, she stormed out of the house tearing at her breast. I thought it went well.
Mother is still acting like it’s the end of the world. She weeps openly and for no reason now and is scaring father’s customers away. If she keeps this up, people will send her off to Paws! Father is not speaking to me at all, just shakes his head or pretends to be checking ledgers when I come into the room. The caravan leaves in a fortnight, I have that much time to convince them to let me go.
Today was much better, at least mother was not crying – well not all morning. She’s now taken to hollering disjointed thoughts at me during odd times. “It is not proper for a young woman of your stature,” she yelled while I was gathering invoices for father. I dropped the whole stack on the floor and had to re-organize them.
Mother was all smiles this morning. I quickly ran the other way when I saw that.
“What about Luke?” was the question served up with dinner. Now, if THAT was supposed to entice me to stay, she was gravely mistaken. That goat-faced troll would fondle a pig if given the chance! I should tell her all about him….
*detailed drawing of Luke with a goat face trying to kiss a reluctant pig*
I have tried again and again to explain to my parents that people are needed at Paws. There has been much yelling back and forth about it over the past several weeks, what the neighbors must think of us now! But, I am going. With or without their blessings, I am going. Even if I have to sneak out in the dead of night…
The trunks are all packed and I’m ready to leave! I feel frightened and excited at the same time! Good-bye Mother and Father! Good-bye Vesper! Good-bye salty sea air and noisy seabirds! Good-bye dumb bridges everywhere!
My travelling companions are so nice! There’s another girl here about my age, pretty too, I wish I had her hair! The few sick people are in the last wagon, riding behind us. I’m not allowed to go near them yet, but the monk riding with us has been quizzing me on herbs and such. I’m learning so much, can’t wait to start helping out.
Nausea much better today, what I wouldn’t give to be standing on a bridge for 5 minutes inhaling the fresh air. The wagons are cramped and crowded – we are elbow to elbow. Perhaps I should have brought the more practical dresses that I’ve seen the common folk wearing….this silk sticks to you like a second skin. I never thought passage to the city would be so, rough.
Feeling much better today Brother (I always forget his name) gave me some kind of tea to settle my stomach. Hopping out and walking alongside the wagon helps too – lessy bumpy. My dress is destroyed, mud all over the bottom ripped hem, but when I get back home I’m sure the tailor can fix it.
We’re almost there! They say we should be seeing the city soon!
Well, it wasn’t exactly how I expected it to look, but… I was a bit surprised to see the city was being fenced in by high walls. Construction everywhere! And not even your average height – beyond what I’m accustomed to. Maybe they want to keep prying eyes away.
I asked Lazarus, the head healer, why they were building the walls so high, he just pushed past me muttering under his breath. He’s not a very friendly man and I get the impression that he doesn’t like all of the new construction happening here…I wonder what it’s for..
Been mixing poultices all day long. Not quite what I had in mind as “helping”. It’s not too bad, but grinding the oats into a fine powder is tiring. I asked what the liquid was that it gets mixed with and I was told I didn’t want to know.
Today they had me crushing of all things, buttercups! Athara kept bringing bundles and bundles in – the whole table was covered in them.
More Garlic. Had I wanted to be slicing and chopping so much I’d have run away to Good Eats in Britain!!
Finally! I can help! Brother Augustine (that’s his name!) said I was a quick learner. I wrote Mother and Father the night I arrived, but I’m told the post is very slow and it takes time for messages to go back and forth. I hope they still aren’t mad.
I’ve been treating some people. Most with skin afflictions, it’s mainly wrapping their arms or legs with linen bandages and oatmeal flour. For a few it staves off the constant itch, and one person even looked much better after a few days.
Saw Annie today – she looks like such a sweet little girl. Cries terribly because she misses her parents. I’m not allowed to go near the more serious cases. They think she has little-pox. But still, who could send such a small child away so far from home?
I don’t understand why some people must remain here even after they’re cured. There was a nice old woman named Edith that I was taking care of, the rash on her arm was NOT what the healer was claiming it was – I don’t care if he’s been at this for a million years. It was a simple case of silverleaf rash. She went to leave and was stopped at the gate. There was some kind of argument, but I couldn’t hear it well enough. Two guards walked her back to the infirmary.
I still haven’t seen Edith, I asked after her and was told that she left in the evening hours with a departing caravan towards home. I wish her well.
Seems that each day more and more people arrive. It’s starting to get a bit crowded here. I still haven’t heard from mother or father and it’s been two months already.
Been very busy. I barely have time to sit let alone write in my journal. Still no word from home. Mother and Father must be terribly mad at me.
I went to try and stretch my legs today and was stopped at the gate by the guard. Why we even need guards is…anyway, was told there were brigands about, so I’ll try again tomorrow.
More people today! Carts and carts! Lazarus oversees everyone coming in and then sorts them and sends them to different huts for treatment. There seemed to be a good number of people that looked quite healthy to me.
Brother Augustine showed me how to prepare different dressings, oils and elixirs for coughs today.
There is a handsome fellow, think his name is Zack – came with the new arrivals the other day. Makes my heart pound hard in my chest when I see him. He was walking around outside today, has the most amazing colored eyes. Why can’t the boys back home look like him instead of goat-face? I hope I get assigned to his hut..Ack! Look at what I’m writing! Oh bother! No one will ever see this but me.
*drawings of hearts cover the page with the name Zack in the middle *
Still more people arriving today, I asked Lazarus why more huts couldn’t be built if they were able to contruct these blasted walls around everything, he went red in the face and stormed off.
Snuck in to see Annie again tonight, she’s growing very fond of the stories I tell her. She even asked me if she could be a princess one day when she gets older. If I had known children would be her (what a dolt I am!) I would’ve brought some things from Father’s store with me.
The whole city is aflutter – there supposedly is a very important doctor that will making a visit here. The rumour is that he’s trained in many different areas of medicine and will be bringing a huge retinue of assistants with him! It’s exactly what we need. Our supplies are running dangerously low with the constant influx of people.
Brother Augustine and Lazarus were having a very heated debate this afternoon. I’ve never seen Brother so angry. Lazarus spotted me and then they both went inside.
Blazing horsehides! Zack’s been making eyes at that other healer….I can’t remember her name, she was in the caravan with me. I can’t help but feel some smug satisfaction that she’s leaving tomorrow. Going with a group of people to retrieve that doctor and gather more herbs and such. Maybe I can get assigned to him……..
Pure mayhem, with a good deal of the healers gone off to bring that doctor back we’ve been shorthanded on help. I’m not even eating tonight, just going straight to bed. Still no word from home, Lazarus said that when everyone returns there may be a letter or two. I’d like to remain hopeful, but I fear that my family is the price I’ve paid in choosing to come here.
The new doctor will be here soon! Unfortunately Zack’s healer-girl comes back too, but we’ll have supplies and new medicines and bandages and….I’m so relieved. It has been rough. Zack has been looking markedly better, I would even say that he may be well enough to return home. Saw him and another boy, Jonas – both were running around and tossing a coconut back and forth as a sort of makeshift ball.
Lazarus has been acting very strange. I mean he’s been a strange fellow since I’ve been here, but I would think he’d be happy, elated even, that reinforcements are coming. New doctor, more medicines, more help. It almost seems like he’s been avoiding those of us who’ve stayed behind. Hasn’t spoken to anyone, avoids looking at us. Odd.
The doctor arrived this evening as dusk was falling. Perhaps it was just the gloomy atmosphere of that particular time of day, and the weather, but …no, I’m being silly. My knowledge of people in the world is limited to Vesper and Paws, what do I really know about the various customs or dress of foreigners? Still, in the dim light it almost looked as if the black robes he wore swirled with a life all their own. I must be tired! I’m sure proper introductions will be made in the morning.
I went to check on Annie today and cannot find her. It’s taken me awhile but I managed to sew a doll out of one of my dresses for her. I’ll ask Lazarus if she’s been moved.
Since the arrival of that doctor, I can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep. Something keeps waking me up…………….Annie……………….it’s curious………………never thought………..* most of the entry is illegible, with wax droplets dotting the page*
Lazarus said that Annie’s been moved but that he’ll see to it that she gets the doll. Poor thing, I hope it cheers her. I made it from the blue silk dress I wore here, a princess doll has to have a proper princess dress.
Back on “kitchen’ duty again. More crushing, steeping and preparing elixirs. It wouldn’t be so bad if: 1.) it wasn’t so mindnumbingly boring and 2.) if I were getting a good night’s rest. I fell asleep scraping mandragora today. Had the knife in my hand and everything. Sybil took it from me before it slipped to the floor and then sent me off to bed. Maybe just a nap…..
I know it’s silly to keep writing home. Mother and Father will never send a reply, but in telling them how I am and all that goes on – well it keeps me sane. I still give the letters to Lazarus to post, perhaps one day they will find it in their hearts to forgive me.
Just realized, Jonas and Zack have not been around lately. They were always outside – even if they weren’t throwing that stupid coconut around.
Zack seems to have taken a turn for the worse, I’ve asked that girl about him. She wouldn’t look me in the eyes so it must be very grave.
I’m exhausted. Even Sybil says I am not looking well. With so many people here now, I’m running from sun up to sun down. We’ve been moved to another house of healers, double the beds and barely enough room to dress. Perhaps things will get better.
The doctor rarely comes out of his house/houses. One is for patients and the other is his own personal residence. Very curious man, I’ve seen him only in the evenings and at night.
Was so lost in thought today, that as I was bringing fresh water and bandages to patients, didn’t realize which way I walking until it was too late. Looked up to see five guards rushing at me, dropped the bowl and it shattered into a thousand shards. I wasn’t even aware that I was headed toward house seven.
Starting to get very crowed here. We may even run out of beds.
Lazarus has been acting stranger than what is normal – even for him. Brother Augustine hurries by me with barely a moment to talk.
Lazarus came to me today with a vial full of some viscous liquid that tastes absolutely disgusting. He says that by order of the doctor all healers in my house are to drink this everyday. Apparently someone was exposed to something and this is a preventative measure so we don’t fall ill. Upset my stomach.
I’ve been assigned to the “dying house” as it’s called. Patients who have no chance of living – most are the ones the doctor has seen exclusively since his arrival. Poor souls, some are in such agony the only thing to do is keep pouring whiskey down their throats. The others who talk are delusional, saying things like the doctor is a demon, the doctor is killing them…
whiskey rarely works on those.
Been a week and that concoction I’ve been drinking has had me running to the outhouse every new hour. I hope that I am finished with this “preventative” measure. The cure seems worse than the disease.
Had a terrible fright today. As I was leaning over an older woman to check her bandages, her eyes snapped open and her hand shot out and caught my arm in a vice-like grip. She kept saying, “he has souless eyes…they glow, watch when they glow….” and then fell back onto the pillows. It took everything in me not to turn and bolt out the door.
I was flipping through my journals and noticed a lot of the strange things happening started when that doctor arrived. I’m getting nervous and wonder about our work here. I wonder about the future of Paws.
Agatha, that is her name. I had to find out, been calling her Lady Death Grip, and that’s not really a kind thing. Spoke to the other girl on duty in there with me and asked her if the patients were saying anything odd – she said that most of them do because they are delirious, delusional and crazy.
Agatha was awake today, I was very careful not to lean over her. She seemed rather alert. When she went to speak though I hurried out of the room.
Mari came to get me today, burst into the kitchen saying Agatha was asking for me and in a terrible state. I ran back to the house with her as quick as I could. She refused to talk unless I sent Mari out of the room. Then pulled me down close and whispered … soulless eyes, so beautiful and terrifying….get away from here, go far away.. find your way home…. and, and then she died!
That’s it I’ve had it, I can’t stop thinking about what the old woman said. I’m on the next caravan out of here.
Player Author: Nyx
Journal Entry …..
Another day has come to its end here in the small village of Paws. One would think that living this close to the ocean that the salt would dull a person’s sense of smell, yet the smell of death still lingers in the cool night air. This week has brought an abundance of sick individuals to Paws, everyone from the common farmers to the well-known guards. It seems our only existence is based upon caring for the sick or disposing of the dead. With the area becoming swampier and the small graveyard to the southwest already full, we have no choice but to use the ocean for the burial of so many. On my daily trek to the ocean, to relieve my wagon of bodies, I ran into one of those small ground holes. The sudden weight of my wagon seemed to open up the ground and a putrid smell of mold and stagnated water seemed to start spilling out. We have always had a few gators wander into the area, I think may be because of all the storms, and the gators just tend to wash up and make a home. Today I only seen one gator that was prowling around and sure enough he smelled a feast onboard my wagon. One of the bodies was not quite secure enough and tumbled to the ground when I hit the blasted sinkhole. I stopped the wagon and was in a bit of a hurry, to gather the body back onto the wagon, but sure enough, as I reached out for the poor fellow so did a gator from behind a small patch of trees. Now, that was not the strange part, a gator stalking a corpse, the strange part was the gator sniffed at the body and instead of consuming it, the gator turned and all but ran away. I did not think too much about the incident until now. I remember the corpse being one of the last to die here today. It was the gent, which was wheezing and coughing in the healer’s small abode. What type of disease did this stranger bring to this already desolate area, one that not even the creatures of the bayou would partake in eating his corpse?
Journal Entry …..
A few days has passed since my last entry. I am still puzzled over the gator incident, but I have chosen not to tell the others that live in this area. I do not think there is a need to make a fuss over an area that discards the sick and the dead.
I will be heading back to the ocean tomorrow to drop another load of bodies in. A burial fit for a king, so I here. I just think it is lunch for the fishes.
Journal Entry …..
I saw the strangest thing today, on my way to the ocean. What you may be wondering could be so strange in a place filled with diseases that no humans should have to face. I found a dead gator and I know that I may be going insane, but I believe it was the gator that sniffed at the dead fellow the other day. Okay well maybe he did not just sniff at the gent, he might have taken one or two nibbles. Anyways, for a dead creature’s carcass to be left along out here in the land of not so plenty is strange indeed. I also spotted a weird sight at the edge of the shore. It looked as if something had made a path back up to the mainland. The reason I say something is that the tracks were not those of a human, nor any animal or creature I have seen around these parts. I suppose I will have to report this to the leaders of Paws in the morning, no need disturbing them tonight. It seems the small hole that was seeping out that putrid water the other day has grown into quite a large puddle. Maybe an underground sulfur spring, it sure does stink like sulfur.
Journal Entry …..
I should have kept my big trap shut! I told the leaders of Paws about the strange set of tracks that led up onto the mainland and I am now set to guard the area and report to my findings to them in the morning. There is no way anyone could possibly sleep out here, the once small puddle has grown into many small puddles so the smell is wretched and with all the noises, the ground to damp to lay on, and the bugs are biting the ….
I fear I do not have long so instead of running, screaming, or drawing attention to myself I decided to try to describe this creature. If it finds me, I will surely meet my fate tonight. From what I can tell it swam up to the swallows and took on the form of almost a human, it seems to be able to move on land, at least from one sulfur marsh area to another. It smells of a foul smell worse than that of rotten corpses. It looks as if it is leaving a trail behind it, as if a slug would do. I can make out something that looks like a claw…. I thought it spotted me for a moment, it did…….
Player Author: Stryder
Entry 1: This can’t be… nothing makes sense… nothing looks familiar… There’s something strange about the people here, looks of paranoia, disease, plague, and blank icy stares. They seem to have no sense of reality. The smell of fear thickens the air. I feel a deep pain in the back of my head as visions blur in and out. My last memory plays over and over in my mind. I look around for an answer. I must find
someone! time is short.
Entry 2: I found a guarded gate with a sign above reading PAWS. I told a man, whom I found to be a healer, what I had overheard. Plans of Mayor Aidan telling his priests of a quest of great secrecy. Then the healer disregarded me as if I’m not of sound mind.
Entry 3: Angered from the rejection, I had tried again. I approached a guard and told him of Aidan Commanding his priests to go to many towns and poisoning their leaders to gain full control of the lands, to become King. Once again I was dismissed as insane. Am I?
Entry 5: Reality is becoming blurred. Am I sick? Is this my village? No. No, it can’t be….
Entry 7: No one will listen, is it really true? Is my mind playing tricks, I must escape! I’ve noticed supply carts coming in during the day and shipping out the next morning. Could this be my way out?
Entry 9: My plan to escape is set in motion. In 3 days I shall hide myself among the sacks in one of the carts, and leave this nightmare. Then put an end to Aidan’s plans.
Entry 13: The sky has darkened greatly and quickly, unnaturally. Am I losing my mind? is this real? Did I feel the ground tremble?
Entry 15; The carts arrived. They are to be unloaded this evening. Tomorrow is the day. I must be careful, the ground shakes very often. There is a uneasiness amongst the people here. Something is wrong, very wrong.
Entry 16: I WAS HEADED TO THE CARTS..THE GROUND HAS BROKEN OPEN.. THE SKIES CRY LOUDLY…IS MY MIND FAILING ME? DARKNESS SURRONDS ME, I c a n t.~~~….
The Paws Letters
Author: Various, Compiled and Cataloged by the Britannian Archives
Player Author: Fanny Firebottom
The following is a collection of extant letters, papers and fragments sent to or from personages residing in Paws before its abandonment. Most are in poor condition. We have attempted to catalogue the letters by date, based on the type of paper used, the styles of handwritings, and the references to persons or events of known dates. Inaccuracies in cataloguing are unavoidable.
Letter #1 (found tucked into a copy of Dimensional Travel in the Britain Public Library)
I have acquired a splendid axe at Cold Steel Creations. From here I am (illegible). I shall stop at the Hammer-n-Anvil, however, for I hear they have reflect suits in bobbit sizes. I am looking forward to (several illegible sentences). I hope (illegible) gem (illegible). Only a few copper pence!
Tuesday the Fourth
The Teaser’s House
Letter #2 (part of a collection of old records and receipts obtained from the proprietor of Incantations and Enchantments)
Here is a copy of the Unlock Spell for that (illegible) of thine. I know thou has not sent for any yet, but they don’t call me Psychic Sam for nothing!
(illegible paragraph follows).
Hope thou gets it open soon! Send a few Magic Missiles when thou has the chance!
Letter #3 (an old receipt discovered by the bookkeepers of Castle British)
RECEIVED FROM PAWS
PAID IN FULL
Cold Steel Creations
(In a second hand on the reverse is a scribbled sentence in faded red ink. The words “stranger” and “gelatinous” can be made out.
Letter #4 (scrap recovered from trash heap outside Britain)
(letter is mostly illegible)…weaving magic cloth.
(closing and signature illegible)
Letter #5 (found among the records of the stables in Castle British)
(salutation and first paragraph are illegible)
… find the shoes ill-fitting and uncomfortable! And I paid a good amount of gold for them! Moreover, the oats were stale and tasteless! (illegible sentence)
With great frustration,
Secretary to Smith
(the reverse of the letter is marked with a stamp resembling a large inverted U)
Letter #6 (found among the town records of Cove)
My dearest brother,
VER (illegible paragraph follows)
AMO (illegible paragraph follows)
COR (illegible paragraph follows)
So shall thou enter. So shall thou find the (illegible sentence follows).
Be well, my brother,
Letter #7 (recovered from the files of the Cat’s Lair in Britain)
(This is a long letter describing in detail the plans for the dismantling of the Cat’s Lair, a historical structure from the abandoned town of Paws, and the reconstruction of it within Britain proper. There are instructions regarding the necessity to preserve and maintain the integrity of the original structure, as well as authorizations for payment for the relocation by several historical and cultural organizations.)
Interim Chair, Old Sosarian Cultural Society
Letter #8 (recovered from the basement of the Ironwood Inn, Vesper)
(This is a long letter describing in detail the recent relocation of the deteriorating Cat’s Lair to a location in Britain and the meticulous attention to detail given by the builders to maintain the historical accuracy of the structure. The letter goes on to describe that Old Sosarian Cultural Society’s search for original Cat’s Lair memorabilia to house in the preserved tavern. The writer of the letter goes on to recount that she had been made aware of several bottles of Dr. Cat’s Original Ninth Life Ale housed at the Ironwood, and offers to purchase the bottles on behalf of the Cultural Society.)
Interim Chair, Old Sosarian Cultural Society
PS: My tenure as chair of the Cultural Society will be ending at the next full moons. I will be persuing a career as candlestick maker in Jhelom.
Letter #9 (recovered from the First Library of Britain; badly damaged; spattered with blood [?])
(illegible sentence)…getting weaker and weaker… (illegible sentence) coughing day and night.
(illegible sentence)… apprentice healer, Helena — my friend. (illegible sentence) home.
Thy loving daughter,
Letter #10 (recovered from an old chest of drawers in Empath Abbey)
Remember me to the monks! Ask them to say a prayer for me and for all cheesemakers. Well not just cheesmakers. Any manufacturers of dairy products.
See thee soon!
Player Author: Wildstar
A Deathbed Tale….or What She Saw
I am writing this story down in hopes that this simple act will purge it from my mind and I will, again, be able to sleep without nightmares disturbing my nightly slumber. I was told this by a women, whose name I never learned, found among the ruins of the City of Paws. She was mortally wounded but had no injuries or bruises that could be seen with the eye. She wanted…..no needed…..to tell someone…..anyone….. the story I am about to write out below.
This is my tale of what I saw in the night before the swamp started to sallow up the City of Paws. I was an apprentice healer learning the skills I needed to learn to earn a living in that profession. On that night, I was walking at the edge of the city under a night sky full of bright, twinkling stars and the twin new moons of Felucca and Trammel. It was indeed a beautiful night. I turned to look to the west and noticed a strange glow in the distance. My family also said that I had always been too curious for my own good and went to explore the phenomenon. As I approached it, it grew brighter and I could see a strange blue aurora. I soon started to hear voices. The voices did not sound human or orcish and where speaking in a strange language that I did not recognize. I was finally close enough to clearly see what was going on and looked on from my vantage point behind a thicket of hedges.
There were not quite human looking people standing in a circle around strange items which looked like they had been arranged in a specific and proscribed pattern. The blue aurora of light was a moongate of incredible power with flashes of lightening regularly dancing around the edges of it. It was located a short distance away from the circle. I could feel the faint disruption of the ether and knew that the waves had to be much stronger closer to the moongate. The people standing in the circle were similar to humans but the facial features and the way they stood was different. If pressed I would say that they had a feline looked like to them.
They were holding hands and chatting in their strange language. The chatting slowly grew louder and another light came into existence at the center of the circle. This light started out a light green and quickly shifted to dark green. By this time the chatting was very loud and the words and tone had changed as if they were willing something or someone to appear. Suddenly an arc of lightening from the moongate connected with the dark green light and I think I very briefly saw a small slit open up in mid-air that was the color of the darkest moonless night. The people immediately dropped each other hands, stopped chatting and started to back up from the area. I soon felt not one but two waves of magic hit me and I must of passed out for I remember nothing after that.
The next thing I remember I am waking up and I see what remains of a stone building looming over me. I know that I am dying and struggle to tell the Paladin from Trinsic who is near me what I have seen. I know that it is important that this information is known.
After the poor woman finished her story, she passed into the other realm and her body faded from view. I will hide this from my family for I do not believe what I saw myself and do not wish my family to suffer in reputation for what I must of imagined.
A Worn Monk’s Diary
Author: Mark of Britain
Player Author: (Unknown. Please contact me via email to let us know what you want to be represented here as. You know who you are.)
I have just completed the last of my training as a healer at Empathy Abby. I was amazed at how much more in depth it was then I expected. The salves and poultices and the knowledge of treating disease was so much harder then expected. My skills with treating broken bones and tissue wounds surprised all my teachers except of course for Senior Brother Markus who brought me here from my past life. He has kept my secret and I owe him so much for that. I cannot wait to see what my new assignment will be. I will be keeping this record as suggested by Brother Markus as a way to improve my writing skills.
Well I didn’t have to wait long. I am supposed to travel before the first snows fall to the City of Paws to help care for the sick. Most of the new monks have been sent to the many towns as healers and a few to the Britain Shrine of Virtue. I myself had hoped to be one of the luck few chosen to be itinerant, but that was not to be. Instead I have been chosen to go assist Brother Markus who is heading to Paws as a their senior healer there has fallen ill. We must move quickly so we intend to set out in a mere three days and head for the moongate. From there we shall use that portal to take us to Trinsic and then head north. I confessed to Brother Markus that I am afraid that I may be recognized traveling past Trinsic and the two guard stations between there and Paws, but he has told me to simply keep my head inside my cowl while we pass by there. I am not sure why but I have decided to pack in the bottom of my things the last remaining possession from my past life. I have been looking at it to remind me of how far I have come from my past life. I admit I am thrilled to be going with him. That man is the reason that I am here today, he is the closest thing to a father I have ever had. There is no way I could have come so far without him.
After a day of travel we have finally arrived. The small city is beautiful and is mostly normal. That is except for the South west where our infirmary is located. From there you can hear coughing quite a distance away. There is a small stone quarter that we have build around and in there is our main hearth. Around that is a stout wooden building that can house many sick. There are a few different areas where we send the sick depending on their ailments. There is also an area to prepare food near the main hearth and an area for storing our supplies and making the potions and poultices that we use to heal. Of course not all of the town is sick, there are many farms and an Inn. All the way far to the west is a foul swamp, but that does mean that we can get Mandrake root easily. I will be staying in a small stone house all the way on the east side of town which means that I will have a nice walk to the infirmary. I believe they tend to keep the homes of those that are not sick on the west side as much as possible as the winds tend to blow off the sea to our East and even though sometimes you can smell the sawmp its still better then being downwind of those that are ill. I hope that my skills are up to the task of easing their suffering but with Brother Markus here I feel confident that we can assist, of course first we must find out why Sister Hayley is so ill.
I have no idea what is affecting Sister Hayley, and while that is no surprise to me I am a bit disturbed that neither does Brother Markus. I am sure he will figure out before to long though as he is very experienced in matters like this. I have unpacked into what will be my new home. Its a small stone house with a kitchen area and a bed. Both are quite nice and it seems to stay warm enough which is good as the first chills that portend winter are upon us and in a coastal village like this I am sure cold winds indeed will blow upon us.
This town despite all the sick is a beautiful place and the you can almost sense the humility that she is famed for. The people are notable farmers and those who are not ill are most industrious and have been welcoming to us. I think I have done a great deal to improve my name in the area after setting the local blacksmiths, Horace, hand after he smashed it yesterday. He is a huge tower of a man and also one of the tougher folks I have ever met. He was showing no pain. On a sadder note Sister Hayley still does not seem to be getting any better and we still have no idea what is wrong with him.
Check cloth amounts *checked off*
Send for ginsing and mandrake root *checked off*
Collect herbs *checked off*
Set up to dry herbs
Check on Brother Thomas *checked off*
Gather fire wood *checked off*
Get more Serpentwyne
I have been getting neglectful in my writing I will have to try to remedy that. The other day I forgot to properly dry some healing herbs that I had gathered and completely forgot to get any Serpentwyne, I hope that this is not to serious an issue, but I had to help treat the wounds of Sven a lumberjack after his ax handle broke and the head dug into his leg. After setting it and applying the bandages I think it will heal well, but he is going to have to stay off of it for a while.
It seems that more and more of the townsfolk have been coming down with the affliction effecting Sister Hayley. I have to admit that I am worried as Brother Markus has told me that it must be something new and that his treatments are not curing the affliction but it appears that she has not gotten much worse so that is positive. The entire town is bracing for what looks to be a cold winter.
There are rumors from a young woman come in from Britain with a sickness I believe her name is Maribeth of the discovery of an artifact of immense power that has been discovered and then lost again when the ship carrying it went down at sea. I wish I could hear more of this but she has a terrible cough and I do not want to weaken her by asking her foolish questions. 2 more have come down with the same sickness it seems as Sister Hayley, of course at this time of year anyone could come down with something like that as the winter winds lower their defenses against illness.
Sister Hayley has died, but most of the others we feared had contracted the same illness appear to be getting better. I guess they had a lesser case, but I am glad as the healers area is filling up with those sick with the usual ailments of the season. I am sure that it will be a quiet winter here and hopefully peaceful.
Our first snow has fallen and the city is beautiful. I never would have expected it to look so magnificent. A curious shield was found by the widow Camille and her son Tobias while tending their carrot patch. They showed Brother Markus and he asked me to look at it knowing about my past. I had to tell him that I had never seen anything like it, and while it is quite old it still looks very sturdy to me.
The last supply caravan from Britain arrived today and its unlikely anything more shall be coming from Trinsic either. At least we got some Serpentwyne as we were completely out, but it appears that my entries will have to cease until the fall or something truly interesting happens as we only really have enough ink to maintain our records.
Have treated 20 townsfolk so far this season. Took a look at my old sword and wondered why I brought it. Helped heal burns of child Tobias his mother gave me the shield they found as a token of gratitude.
A ship ran aground but we were able to salvage everything off of it. There is now plenty of ink for me and bales of cotton we are storing until the thaw. We have had to keep it everywhere my own home is crowded with it, but I was glad to help the crew and the poor master of the ship from seeing his cargo lost. They are being put up in the Inn by Timothy at no charge. That man is truly a paragon of virute.
The winter is going by quickly but not quickly enough I can’t wait for the warmth to come back into our world as it is truly getting tiresome being cold almost all the time. I guess that is what happens when there are no walls surrounding a town.
Had to go out today to look for more firewood, as I was running low. It was not to hard to find some. It seems most of the town is in good health as winter drags on, I am glad for that as both as it gives me time to resume studying the finer points both of healing and Virtue with Brother Markus. Plus having something to do will help me forget all the wool bales still filling my small home.
A deep snow has fallen making travel even around town difficult. Its amazing how much snow can fall on one quiet little town. I wonder how much more we will get before the thaws start.
Finally something other then snow it rained today and that has really helped clear up many of the paths in town. The snow is still thickly carpeted out of the town though. I wonder how young Tobias is doing? I will have to wait a bit longer to visit him and his mother again.
Its getting warmer earlier then I had thought. While its still pretty cold the snow is clearing up some and its possible to travel out to the outlying farms if you must. Of course it takes almost a whole day to make the trip one way, so still no chance of me getting out to see anyone.
I am so sick of the smell of wool. I know its important to show Compassion to the ships master, Max, but by the Virtues it is hard to deal with all the wool.
Tobias came into town today to get a few things for the family farm. He has mended quite well and in all honesty I am please with my work. I suppose that isn’t very humble of me, I still have much to do if I wish to live my life in a virtuous way, but I guess my Honesty to myself in that regard is a good start.
Today was very warm. It was good to stroll outside and see all the melt that is going on. I can hardly wait for the spring! I guess its a good thing that patience isn’t a virtue or I would be having trouble dealing with that one too.
Today it struck me that for the first time in my entire life I have spent an entire winter in one place living among the same kind and simple people. I have no need to resume or move or do anything with the coming thaw except to collect more mandrake from around the Fens. But that is so different from the life I led before heading to the Abby if it wasn’t for my old sword I would only have guessed that life to be a dream its amazing how much these few short years have taught me, and how much this one winter has done. Brother Markus seems to be noticing the change too and he seems happy about how comfortable I am becoming.
Tomorrow the first caravan of both supplies and the sick will be coming in. I wonder how many new people will need our help. This spring I expect to take on a much larger role in treating the sick then I did in the short period before the snows.
Well 12 new sick arrived today from Britain and we set about getting them comfortable. We still need to keep them warm at night as it still gets quite cold, but firewood is now much easier to find as the snow is now only big in a few areas where the wind swept it into large drifts.
Well March is finally here and it seems all the snow is gone. Tobias and his mother held up well over the winter, but it seems a new sickness is spreading among the town. 12 have come in and complained of a terrible cough that continues day and night. I gave them a remedy that should help them suppress the cough as I suspect it is but a reaction to all the things stirred up with the snows leaving.
A group of sick from Trinsic came in today. It was a fairly small group of only 4 which bodes well for the people of Trinsic and their winter. With it came in a decent enough supply of Serpentwyne and stocks. Max and his wool have managed to get loaded on the wagons praise the Virtues as now I have my small house back. Of course now it seems huge to me, I guess I must have gotten used to it. Sadly the entire town still smells like wool.
Well the cough has returned and is going past my best efforts to cure it Brother Markus is checking back on my treatment which is saddening me greatly but I am sure that I treated them correctly.
Brother Markus cannot fathom what is wrong with the people I treated either so we are asking them all to take it easy and rest. Another group of sick came in this time from all the way in Skara Brae. There were 5 of them one of whom I am sure will soon be dead. The rest seem to have a cough that echos deep in their chests. I believe it is the cough of consumption and have put them in beds in the right area. There are also rumors that we will soon receive a new head guard for our small town.
Sir Hobie has arrived to take charge of our three guardsmen today with news that orcs are ravaging the countryside near here. We put up sturdy oaken shutters on our main infirmary to make sure that we can protect the sick. I recommended that we also stockpile some food and wood inside there so that if the Orcs do come we can hold up in there for as long as is needed.
Well today we filled a nice larder in the infirmary and made sure we could hold up in there if we must, although I suspect that rumors of orcs is not true, it would be very early for that to occur. More sick are scheduled for the 10.
More sick have arrived from Britain 3 which still leaves us with so many empty beds. One if the flat stones that make up our hearth floor has come completely out I have no idea how I am going to fit it back in there and Paws has no stone masons at all. Oh well I am sure that I will be able to figure something out.
Looks like the rains are coming. I am not all that fond of the rain but it does keep the smell of the swamp off of us some. As the winter ends I can smell it more and more. Its rotting smell has been making it a bit difficult to sleep at times. But I still love this village and its residents.
More sick this time from Vesper. Added 15 more to our list of sick. We have had 2 die so far and we buried them in the graveyard just outside our infirmary. More of the townsfolk are coming in sick again Brother Markus is tending to them as I cannot find what is causing their ailments.
Tobias and his mother came running in last night with an orc band right upon their tail. Our guards and Sir Hobie responded immediately and were able to turn most of them back, but one of our three guards suffered a fatal wound. The others I was able to treat, but I can now see that the Mayor Sir Simon and the town fathers are worried about how they took down the town walls. I assume with Britain so near and all the structures of both the guards and the Trinsic paladins there should be no worries for us all. In the meantime Tobias will stay with me and his mother will remain at the Inn. It will be nice to have someone sharing my small hut and they boy is such an honest sort, but I fear he looks up to me after my treatment of him during the winter.
Sir Hobie sent off one of our guards Sir Crawworth to request help from the guards at Britain as the nearest fortification has been vacated as the guards stationed there look for the orcs. Sadly this leaves us with only Sir Hobie and the archer Barren as our only defense. On a more personal note Tobias found my old sword and I had to come up with something to tell him pretty quick. While I really did want to tell him the truth about my past as a brigand I knew I could not. I told him instead it was my fathers sword. I can only hope that he stays true to his word not to tell anyone because while he may not be able to tell the difference between an old passed down blade and a newer one I am fairly sure that Sir Hobie will be able to tell it fairly quick and since I took this blade from a paladin of Trinsic’s corpse I gather it wouldn’t not go well for if he found out. I told Brother Markus and he told me not to worry.
More rain. Today was dark and dreary but still the smell of the swamp filled my nose this morning. Another convoy of the sick arrived today but it was the smallest to date and we warned those who led the convoy about the orcs as they continued on to Trinsic, despite our urgings to have them stay the night in the Inn. Apparently Paws reputation has dropped some with word getting out about Sister Hayley’s death. The rest of Britannia seems to fear us now as a contagious place. I am sure that this opinion will fade soon as folks remember all the good we do here and that most of the town is not sick.
More rain and now fog. It seems a good deal of the town is now sick but I am sure its simply the weather bothering folks, but Brother Markus does seem worried.
I swear it seems like the swamp has grown overnight. Today Sir Hobie asked me to help with guard duties at night as we are still afraid of the orcs. I told him I was but a healer and he laughed. Apparently he knew about my past from the moment he got here. He is asking me to help and says I don’t have to bring anything but my staff. I had to agree.
The whole town is in a panic as the swamp has jumped the channel in but one night. I have no idea what is going on but I fear its something dark. The town is all afluster as we try to decide whether we should head off into the every deepening fog or stay here. I would say that half of the town has decided to go but Brother Markus and myself must stay to help the sick Sir Hobie and Sir Simon seem to want to stay but Barren must be sent off to help lead those leaving I am glad that Tobias and his mother are both remaining as well as Timothy are staying.
It seems the swamp is still advancing and now I feel I know why. I heard what I swear to be a demon last night coming from the swamp. I guess its time to admit that I must strap on my sword and use that old shield that Camille gave to me as I am fearing the worst is still yet to come. I will be staying with the sick because if the swamp grows any further it will be upon my small house. Brother Markus says he feels a darkening evil. I must confess that I am more afraid then I have ever been but I am trying to live up to my duties.
We lost half the town in one night. There are demons and they carried away Camille last night. I could not save her from the demon. I failed her. The first person that I tried to protect and I failed her utterly. Late last night we held a meeting and Sir Hobie and Sir Simon both agreed that all those who could walk should attempt to escape and raise the alarm in Britain and Trinsic, perhaps they could have send mages but now that is not possible after what happened to Camille. Sir Hobie, Sir Simon, Brother Markus, and Tobias are over at Sir Simons office. Not but two streets away. Of course it may as well be on our Moon as there is no way they can get to me and Timothy here in the infirmary. The sick seem to be worried, but I have promised that I will not abandon them. I must confess for the first time in my life I feel that I would rather die then let them down and I think the paladin whose sword I am carrying would welcome the change. The blade does feel different in my hand then it ever did before. Like its willing to help me instead of seeing me fall. We have been yelling a plan back and forth that at midday I will sally forth and try and help Sir Hobie and Sir Simon slow the demons long enough for Brother Markus and Tobias to get inside the Infirmary and we will hold out until help comes. We all believe that someone must have made it out to get help and that it will arrive shortly. Lord British and his forces may still save us from whatever dark fate these demons have planned for us.
All is lost. I am writing now only to provide a record of what has happened to us here at Paws. Most of the town is in flames and the only way we here in the infirmary are keeping from burning with them is all of the sick assisting with buckets from the well inside. Sir Hobie is dead fallen to 3 demons. He should be remembered for he slayed 4 of the fell beasts himself before the three were able to take him. Sir Simon lost his sword arm when a demon cleaved it off. Worst of all Brother Markus, the man who helped me through all of this was carried off by the largest demon I have ever heard about. A huge beast that reeked of corruption and sulfur. When it arrived hell hounds took to our streets and they have been burning the rest of the town ever since. That old shield saved my life and that of Tobias it seemed to have some power to harm the demons. Of course that didn’t stop the big one, not even a little. For the first time in my life my sword was working for good, it helped me hew through demons watching them fall left and right, but when I ran forward to save Brother Markus from that huge demon I swung at him full of fury my sword struck and shattered. I could see pieces falling and the shield was ripped from my grasp and now the demon has it. We have barricaded ourselves in the infirmary but I am sure that soon we will all die. I can only hope that this small record of what happens here survives and may give some aid to those that attempt to fight these demons. The shield was old and made of metal, it had the serpent on it and was a shade of white. I feel this could help any who attempt to fight these demons. It may not have been the most impressive shield but it glowed when I joined the fight with these demons and I am sure in more worthy hands then mine it could make a difference. I should also leave my last confession. I am known as Mark and for much of my 29 summers was a brigand and a thief. I was raised on the streets of East Britain and grew up a thief until I got caught and escaped to rob those traveling form Britain to Trinsic. For this I am sorry and I humbly beg forgiveness. I mended my ways only with the help of Brother Markus and the other monks at Empathy Abby who showed me the path to Virtue. I hope that the small acts since awaking to that true are enough to atone for all the wrong I have done. I am going to hide this book under the stone that came out of our hearth. Hopefully this will be able to keep it safe until it can be found. May the Virtues protect you as you push back this demon horde.
Mark of Britain, healer.
In Search of Shathenth 6-15-11
“Yet another, and this one empty all the same. What do you think she found?”
Ratha cracked his neck to one side as he stood, pondering the meaning of the empty box. “Either something interesting or dangerous enough to prevent her return. Considering her attention span, both are likely.” The tall Meer Captain snorted derisively, and gestured to their accompanying mage in her gossamer robes. “Take us back. I’ll need to speak with the Elders as to our next course of action. The fight against Virtuebane has left our forces vastly weakened, and if Shathenth happened to find something truly devastating…Well, I will need to speak with them all the same.”
With a fluid and graceful set of gestures, the Meer mage was able to command the forces of magic in a way that Human, Elven, and Gargish spellcasters could only marvel at; in moments the group shimmered, and vanished in a mass recall spell, avoiding the possibility of anyone following through a created moongate. With a sound like a bubble popping, They appeared within the confines of one of the hidden Meer encampments.
“Get yourself some food and whatever you may need for further reconnaissance. I need to speak with the Elders. Dismissed.” This was given in his usual brusque tone, and he stalked off on his way to the council chambers….
Borne on Ill Tidings 10/19/11
Balandar exhaled heavily as he drew the chair from his desk and collapsed into it in exhaustion. He definitely wasn’t as young as he’d once been, he thought with a rueful smile as he stretched to work the kinks out of his back. He’d still pit himself favorably against any mage around, unless Nystul suddenly showed back up…but all this fighting and army gathering business should be handled by the Guard. Still, he’d not have trusted any of them to have the knowhow to deactivate the safeguards put in place by Captain Tokinson and the Olmecians, and so he’d ended up going along. He also had to make sure that his spell actually worked…he breathed a sigh of relief that though many were harmed, none were drowned due to his spell wearing off early or being ineffective.
Opening the heavily ensorcelled and locked chest beneath his desk, he drew the artifact crystal out and held it in one hand. It glowed and glittered fiercely, casting off sparks and shimmers almost like it was a fledgling moongate, waiting to be filled with power and activated. As it pulsed in his hand he closed his eyes and let his mana take him into the void and feel the call of the artifacts power. He pondered it’s ability to control the seas, and how it was used by Captain Tokinson. He was certain that the artifact could be coupled, could be attached to other objects like the drive crystals of the HMS Poseidon’s Fury, but he wasn’t sure how far it could be pushed. He wished that he could keep it and study it himself, but with the state of things as they were he doubted he’d be able to retain possession of it for long before it was requested to be sealed away within the Royal Guard Vault. As his mind floated in the void thoughts of possible applications and uses of the power of an artifact of this kind flowed and melded into fully fle…Balandar snapped alert with a start as he noticed something.
The artifact in his hand had been pulsing with power, immensely strongly, even in a passive state, but he had just felt something different; a similar pulse of power…but one that was different in it’s essence, a different type of mana. And once he’d felt that one, he realized there were two others, even weaker, just barely background noise. It couldn’t be…Could it? He quickly removed a reference book and flipped through it, and then went back through his copied version of Tokinson’s logbook, reading through the various travels and missions he’d been sent on, thumbing through tome after tome until he came upon an entry. His hand clenched around the glowing crystal, feeling it dig into his palm and the power bleed out between his fingers. Even as he did so, one of the answering pulses seemed to change once again, while the other two remained as they were, barely above a level of background disturbance. Balandar sealed the crystal again in it’s box, tripled the enchantments over it, and set out for Serpent’s Hold. He needed to talk to Commander Foxx, and he needed to do so immediately.
The night air was balmy and sticky in Trinsic this time of year, being so close to the jungle. With the watch doubled after the incident yesterday, most infiltrators would be completely deterred and steer entirely clear of the city, but this particular infiltrator saw it as a clear opportunity. Slipping into the water with a deep breath, they pierced through the water crisply with swift strokes and broke the surface past the walls quietly, taking their time to slink out of the water, letting it drip slowly and quietly into the grass, and waiting at the spot under the bridge for the patrol to pass. As they did, the figure slipped silently past, heading west from the river and sticking to what shadows the clouds passing over the moons provided. Sticking close to the wall, the figure seemed to almost meld into the crevices as another patrol passed, oblivious to the hidden form mere feet from their patrol path. Once more, they started forward…finally entering the central building next to the park.
Reaching a hand into a pocket, the figure quietly unfolds a set of lockpicks and kneels next to the door of the Royal Surveyor’s office, picking the lock with a few discreet clicking noises before slipping into the room and locking it behind. Inside the Surveyor’s office, the figure immediately sets to work drawing out a dozen or so volumes and maps. The original information leading to the HMS Fury; An ancient census taken from scores of years ago; A topographical map dating back to before Lord British’s reign; Information about Orc Raids against Cove when it was first being established; The recent survey of the collapsed portion of the rediscovered Paws; a concise history of the Royal Brittanian Guard; A book of notes from Nystul; and a tome detailing the patterns and behaviors of wild spawning moongates. This strange and peculiarly eclectic collection all undergo equal scrutiny from the figure, before they are gathered up and carried to the door.
Unlocking and opening it and relocking it behind themselves, they quietly move towards the park through the south archway, wary of any onlookers. Removing a small folded piece of canvas, the tomes and scrolls are wrapped inside the canvas and tied, before the figure removes a dagger and stabs small holes throughout it, and eyes the water nearby. A slight grin plays along their face as they throw the heavy bag into the water, and quickly dashing through the park and out the opposite side as they make their way out of the city. The bag sinks, leaving trails of air bubbles as the ink inside the books and scrolls runs, coloring the sunken canvas momentarily before dissipating in the water and disappearing as it sinks to a deeper part of the small pond. A single nearby guard moves to the park and looks into the water, but only shrugs and returns to his patrol. Those blasted giant Tokunese fish they imported with that trade deal with the Empress sure were noisy things…
Smoke and Murders 10/20/11
Tavalia awoke in a dark, moldy cave. The last thing she could remember was Kendrick’s magic show and him claiming that she wouldn’t be able to believe the next trick. With a groan and a whiff of smoke from her clothes, she had brief glimpses of the moments prior to unconsciousness. Kendrick throwing wide his cloak, strange pockets inside that were too obvious to be part of a magic trick…and then bottles being thrown, fire spreading everywhere, and Morrow leaping at her like a tumbler, hitting her full in the chest and hurling her to the stone ground as her chair broke on impact. Brief glimpses of one of the castles secret passageways as she was dragged away. Only to find herself here…where ever that may be.
She strained to move, but found that her hands were tied behind her, and her ankles tied as well. She felt the tug of a chain hanging from the ceiling of the cave that led to her neck and held her in place but did not choke her. She struggled against the bonds, but to no avail, and her shouts were muffled by a gag held in place around her face. She didn’t have to wait long before a light came from a corner in the back of the cave, and the figure of Morrow in his magician’s outfit came forward. Tavalia could tell something was off…the gait, the stride, everything seemed bizarrely off…but more disconcerting was the gleaming dagger held in the figure’s offhand. With the hat pulled low, Morrow approached Tavalia and set the lantern down beside her. Tavalia gritted her teeth and glared at the figure before a gloved hand reached up to her and pulled the gag out of her mouth. Tavalia immediately screamed, to which the only reaction was a devilish grin from the figure in front of her. When no answer was heard, she stared at the unmoving, unwavering figure before she managed to speak again.
“If you think there’s even a chance that you’ll get away with this after that brazen attempt, or that you’ve anything to gain here by any action other than immediately freeing me and throwing yourself on the mercy of the crown, then yo…” Her diatribe was interrupted by a stinging pain across her cheek that flung her head to one side. Face and eyes burning with shock and shame, Tavalia fixed Morrow with her most intimidating glare. “They’ll be searching for me, and they’re going to find me and the…” Again her head snaps forcefully to the side, her other cheek burning from another slap. The figure in front of her seems to be shaking softly, before raising their chin to look at her, a wide and maniacal grin on their face.
“Oh yes…they’re definitely going to find you.”
“Then you may as well give yours…” Tavalia stops as she’s interrupted by a flash of white across her skull, and a woman’s voice screaming before she realizes it’s her own, and she looks down to see that the figure in front of her has stabbed the dagger through one of her palms. Tavalia fights back the scream and feels tears fall from her eyes as she manages to grit her teeth and bear through the worst of it. Grabbing Tavalia’s hand and slashing the bindings with the dagger, the figure drags it across the hat they’re wearing, and Tavalia jerks her hand back and knocks the hat away, blood staining it’s otherwise pristine surface. Tavalia grabs the chain at her neck but feels two rapid impacts to her chest, knocking the wind from her and causing her to gasp for breath as the strength drains from her limbs. Hanging limply from the chain, she looks up in the low lantern light as the figure draws another pristine dagger to parallel the bloodied one already in it’s hand.
As the figure comes in arm’s reach, Tavalia takes a wild swing at them, feeling her nails dig into the flesh of Morrow’s face and rip it clean off. As she pulls her hand away with a fist full of flesh, she looks in horror to the grinning, sadistic smile revealed underneath the disguise. The eyes revealed beneath the tattered remains of the false visage held no glimpse of remorse or mercy within them. “Virtues preserve…” Without another word the figure moved in a flash, almost before Tavalia could blink, and she hardly even felt the cuts…just something warm and wet as it soaked through her top, vaguely aware of a rapidly spreading sensation of cold throughout her body. She raised a trembling hand up and tried to hold the wound closed, but she already knew it wouldn’t help. As her vision blurred, she struggled to find the strength for one last retort, one last plea, one last hard glare at the still grinning figure in front of her, but she was too tired, and it was all too much. She’d always thought it was supposed to be so much worse…but it felt like slipping into a cold ocean. And then there was blackness.
Reaching down to pick up lantern and hat, the figure put the hat on and pulled it low over their exposed face. They also ripped open Tavalia’s still clenched hand, and removed what was left of the false face that the Ambassador had ripped away. With a look of disgust towards the Ambassador’s remains, the figure left the cave and ascended the rocky outcropping nearby with remarkable deftness and agility before removing a collapsible spyglass from a small pouch on the disguise’s belt. Sighting across the land, they spotted many of the Crown’s forces desperately searching for any sign. Collapsing the spyglass once more, the figure drew forth a scroll and a rune, and chanted the words ‘Kal Ort Por’, and vanished with a brief burst of magic.
Britain Beacon 11-22-11
Britannia’s primary source for underground news, underrepresented people, and underpaid reporters!
Excitement was had yesterday at the Luna Fairgrounds as competitions were held involving both mages and archers, with a large turnout proving that the Sosarian Solstice Fair continues to be a success. Though the contests were close in some cases, all of those who competed gave it their best efforts and utilized their skills throughout the competitions to a degree that entertained and astounded the judges and the spectators alike. A brief appearance near the close of the fair was made by Emilia the fortune teller, who had to unfortunately take her leave very shortly after setting up shop.
In other news, liability insurance prices are rising in the wake of the protests held at several businesses throughout the lands, one of the most noticeable being the Busy Bee in Britain which saw a worker protest that resulted in an arrest of two culprits and a warrant being issued for four others. A rise of accident cases caused by lax safety requirements has spiked, but should be quelled by an inspector increase.
Your lucky numbers are: 1-5 8-7 4-6 5-2 28 29 30 31 103. 47 166 167 170 156.
Lonely Baroness seeks new canine companion. Adoption through normal channels unfeasible for reasons unnecessary to be disclosed here. Apply with offers of housebroken canines to box 372 at the Britain Post. Large dogs only please.
Average man looking for beautiful savage woman to woo and win over with the power of love, friendship, and my suaveness. Will accept comparable offers of nonsavage women.
Necromancer seeking willing subjects (or at least signed consent of next of kin) for experiments. Experimental facility only open on alternating Thursdays. No currently undead need apply.
Those born under the sign of the DRAGON should know that their sign is the key, and to make sure that they strive to fulfill requests given to them in a timely manner.
LNPROX KKESNC LERIBX OESEEX TSECJX IUMPOT
Fussy, fidgety, flighty, and foppish former councilmember for female friendship and possibly more. Must pass a rigorous testing and voting process against other applicants (though creatively creating concepts circumventing correct chronicling can collect compensatory points). Replies returned with rhyming or alliteration will be given precedent.
Toil And Trouble 11-22-11
Captain Irina swore as she threw a devastating blow into the training dummy, followed by a quick set of body blows and finishing with a sharp elbow that caused it to bounce on its’ mount. First that blasted beekeeper got away and left her with nothing but a fall man for a prisoner, and now Balandar’s running off to Commander Foxx about the Paws issue…She leveled another harsh swing into the dummies face, and the jostling dummy almost seemed to be laughing at her. Her hands clenched tighter in the fists they made, and she released another flurry of blows before she was interrupted by someone clearing their throat behind her. Grabbing a towel from the side table she wiped the sweat from her brow as she approached the young man.
“What is it?”
“Message for you ma’am, sorry to disturb your exercise.”
With a nod she took the rolled scroll from the boy and broke the wax seal, not recognizing whose signet ring it had come from. After a brief glance she looked it over and handed it back with a nod. “Let the archivist know he’s done good work. Tell him if he’s got time, I’ll pay him the same rate to get another set copied and sent to the Britain library. He’s definitely earned that extra pay I was offering him. And tell him to be careful.” The messenger quickly began to write this down before nodding, and Captain Irina tossed him a few crowns which the boy made disappear in a flash before making his way out. At least something seemed to be going right for her today.
The figure walked through the streets, taking note of all the passersby as they made their way, ignoring their presence completely. Turning one of the corners, they spotted a familiar face and fished a few gold coins from a pocket and slipped them into the pageboy’s hands, taking the copy of the Britain Beacon and slipping it into the satchel at their side. The figure heard a set…no, three sets of footsteps behind them, no doubt parasites attracted by the clinking of coin in the small coin purse hanging from their belt. They purposely slowed a bit, and after making certain of the following, slipped into a nearby alley and strolled through as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
As they approached, their supposed victim let hands fall to their sides and hold them out open.
“Arright, hand over yer coinpurse and anythin’ else yer carryin’…an’ maybe we’ll let yer go.”
Their offer was met only with a vicious grin directed their way, and from the long sleeve of the garment the figure wore a blade slid firmly into their grip. “Fine, we can do this the hard way then!” The men charged into the alley intent on securing their prize…
Captain Irina blanched slightly as she stepped into the scene. These three had been repeat offenders with minor robberies, but now they were nothing but corpses. Blood slickened the cobblestones of the alley, and though she didn’t particularly care for these thugs who’d picked the wrong target and gotten their comeuppance it still frustrated her. It seemed that her luck at having the archivist’s work getting done quickly was the only bit of luck she was going to see in some time. After checking over the scene she found exactly what she’d expected to…not a single clue other than that the murders were committed with a dagger. “You can clear the scene and clean it up. There’s not going to be anything here that’s useful.” She turned with a flourish of her cloak and stalked off into the night air, the lantern in her hand feeling heavier than it ever had before.
Emilia smiled softly to herself as she packed up the small table of magical gems that she used in so many of her demonstrations; She didn’t have the heart to tell most of her customers the truth. It was entirely true that she could pierce the Void and see through to a time ahead, but lately those futures had begun to get more grim and darker by varying degrees. She had long since stopped trying to find any sort of pattern within the tangled webs of those whose fortunes she read, but it was hard to ignore it when it was as obvious as it often could be. At the fair of the previous month she’d read dozens of fortunes, and she had also brought levity and mirth to others, because she wasn’t willing to face the truth herself. One would be correct in saying she was trying to purposely blind herself to it, she thought with a wan smile. Still…There had been several whom she could tell would serve key parts in what was to come.
There would soon come a time of turmoil and intrigues, of secret alliances and openly told lies, and perhaps worst of all a time of death and fear. Many of these key players were unaware of their roles, and she could not pierce the veil of the future enough to see if they needed to be aware to prevent catastrophe. There were others who had their heads in a noose and their feet already upon the gallows, but were blithely ignorant of the fact; And yet others who were rushing headlong into danger. Though she yearned to do more, she knew it was a dangerous game to toy with the future, and many seers had found their end by attempting to do just that. She recited a mantra that her mother had taught her as a child and once again found her center, before a shaking hand went to touch the palm of her other, but she stopped herself. A seer should never look into their own future, she thought as she remembered her own rules. She couldn’t help the nagging and disturbing feeling that this might be one time where she could not avoid being engrossed in the conflict herself.
Last modified: December 14, 2011