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Chapter XIII: The Tide of Battle
Morning came too quickly for the heroes. Still sore from the previou day's encounters they weren't quick to leave the tavern. Unfortunateyl, they dallied too long. While gathering some supplies (including some of One-Thumb's private stock wine), Gaelen heard a commotion from upstairs. In an instant they were assaulted by Skather's personal guard, the Serpent Knights. These warriors are trained to eliminate their targets without question.

For a brief moment, it seemed like they would succeed. Garr was hit from every angle and Titus was nearly brought low. Were it not for the steady hand and sure-eye of Gaelen, they would have surely lost. His bow ended the lives of many Beysibian warriors. Titus called for capture of the last knight as the snake lept through the window.

Garr, still fully under the control of Bastigen, the Mountain Bear, relentlessly stalked his prey. His control over the natural world, or its control over him, was increasing. The path of destruction through the maze was a sign of his power. Despite his primal effort, however, they lost the knight and ran into Skather and his men.

"Kill the rest, but leave lord Garibaldi." Skather commanded! Once again, the primal fury of Garr was unleashed as he called upon Genru, the wolf of the north. Though it was a challenging obstacle, the party succeeded in defeating Skather; though he still managed to escape.

It was then that Gaelen saw the green-colored flaming arrow; a cry for help from the Eastwatch! With no rest they ran toward the Bazaar, hoping to aid their allies.

Arriving in the central market, they saw dead snakes and allies lying everywhere. At least a dozen rangers met their end here. Among the dead and wounded was Hawk, leader of the eastwatch. As Gaelen rushed to help him, he could see the poison had already done its job. "It was...horrible...Snakes..from everywhere...the...largest escaped...headed bow...lead..the rangers..", he then fell, lifeless, into Gaelen's arms.

Lord Stillwater & Prince Kafen debriefed Titus on the situation. They had succeeded in driving back the Beysibian force to the keep. Somehow, through sheer perseverence, the allies were begining to win!

While they were speaking, Jaryn slipped behind Stillwater and drove her sword through him! Her skin then shed from her body, revealing a skin-shedder! Both Balthasar and Titus caught and neutralized the creature, hoping to gain some information. Unfortunately, the creature didn't seem privy to the information they needed. However, they confirmed Rathamon was still in the temple, which was helpful.

Turning their attention to Lord Stillwater, they were relieved to see Gaelen's healing expertise neutralized the poison and the amulet closed the wound.

It was then decided that an imminent attack on the keep was a necessary distraction for the heroes to make their attack on the temple. Titus worked the soldiers into a fury. Balthasar bound some of his wounds. Garr smiled at the thought of inevitable battle. Gaelen restocked arrows and gave commands to his men. And Reylos stared solemnly at the viridian glow.

They all knew in their hearts what was to come... Rathamon.
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Pointer-left Eek_color_thumb

Posted in The Night Below
Quoth the raven, "who's the wh- ... er, lady?"
Eek sat cross-legged on a small hillock outside Thurmaster, watching a young harvest sparrow select its favorite amongst the rye seeds spread on the grass. Only few handspans away, a tiny frosted finch hesitated as the sparrow drew near. The finches normally deferred to the larger songbirds, but this time there were so many seeds that most of the feeding customs were set aside. The finch’s extended family barely glanced that direction, although an enormous raven’s attempt to land amid the flock provoked some consternation. Around them, hundreds of birds in every variety (many of which the pixie had never seen) hopped and chattered while enjoying the feast Eek had laid out for them. They spoke of seeds and plumage, of nest-building and borrowing, and many of those who had followed from the forest regaled their cousins with tales of strange bugs and the enormous thermals one might catch over the rock-strewn land to the east. But mostly they spoke of Olean the Druid with her pack-less wolves, and of the pixie who had enlisted the birds’ help in an urgent search for her. This last bit made Eek smile to himself – the birds would not remember anything long that was not frequently repeated, but other creatures of wood and plain certainly would. Perhaps word of him might make its way back to pixie lands sooner than he could return himself. Rozlyn would be disappointed not to hear anything until the next Meet, but Eek had yet to meet a courier who could be trusted to deliver a message to a place so far from human settlement as Kuristan.

“Why did we leave flock and fine nesting-places to look for the forest-wanderer?” inquired the recently-descended raven. Eek peered into one of the glossy red eyes for a moment before answering, a little surprised at this one’s manner – ravens typically cultivated a sense of haughty aloofness, and few had deigned to participate in the foreign pixie’s improbable mission.

“Our flock-member was very sick and about to die. He needed Olean’s help,” Eek replied.

“Those old enough to sicken will perish when the frost comes anyway,” the bird suggested. Such animals viewed sickness and death as inevitable, and certainly less objectionable than being consumed by a hawk or cat.

“He is not old. He was harried by tiny foes which he could not fight or escape.”

“Olean is larger than our flock-mate, and so are her wolves. But they are all very unusual” the raven admitted.

“They are,” agreed Eek, “They are more like you than me. But she speaks the tongues of plant and sickness, and she was able to save our flock-mate from them. I could not have found her without your help.” He gestured to the grains and birds scattered around them. “You have earned eating-rights from me.”

The raven pondered this for a moment, and then bobbed its beak down to swallow an oat resting near its feet. “Our flock will not demand them,” it replied, acknowledging that the debt was singular, among peers, and satisfied. This was well, for the ravens would remember and settle any disputes or embellishments among the lesser songbirds. “Our flock will enjoy this story,” the avian decided aloud, “I will tell it.” It hopped forward and snapped its wings out, ending the conversation in the abrupt fashion birds were accustomed to and causing more than a few outraged chirps from small ones bowled over when it took off. That was fine, too – ravens were very possessive with new stories, and being part of it was more than enough for Eek.

Sensing an opening in the conversation, a pigeon took the opportunity to start telling him how very nice her eggs were and what each one looked like. Such were the perils of letting birds know that you could speak with them.
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A Quick Introduction
Ladies and gentlemen, free spirits and AIs, and other sapient beings, welcome the city of Seattle.

For those not in the know, Seattle is a free city, which means no government or single corporation holds sway over it. As a result, the mega-corps that run the world are in fierce competition, struggling for the resources that might give them an economic advantage over their competitors.

That's where you come in, runners. You are necessary evils in the system, hired by corporations to steal, sabotage, and occasionally kill the competition. You are deniable assets. If you're caught, you will be subject to whatever laws the group you victimized think appropriate - and believe me, if you hurt the profit margin of a corp, they will remember it.

On the other hand, if you're good at your job - and you have to be, to survive - you can rake in nuyen like mad, and maybe buy yourself out of the lifestyle.

The question is, would you?

(OOC) I'm just going to assume that everything you post is in character, unless you denote it like I did. I don't expect you to use Epic Words a lot, but if you want to occasionally update it with what your character is doing during their downtime, or your thoughts on the other team members, that would be pretty cool. I like watching worlds and stories develop over time, and watching characters grow.
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A tale for Lord Parlfray
As the conversation comes to a lull around the table Seped decides it might be wise to inform his party members of his past, after all questions that have been answered are less likely to be asked.

"Sadly my upbringing was not as colorful as some of the others here, but truly some of the greatest tales have had the simplest beginnings. Life in the city with parents who ran a shop gave me many chances to learn useful skills, and my parents lives showed me the value of hard work."

Namely that value being almost nothing, Seped quickly learned he could do much better for himself by working outside of conventional means. Life in a shop gave him a constant stream of visitors to practice sleight of hand against, and the shop locks fueled his mechanical inclinations as he worked to defeat them. It wasn't hard to find pay for his services even in the just lands of Kael'Lon if one knew where to look in the city. If theft and tragedy plagued competing shops and his family profited, so much the better.

"By my 14th year I was apprenticed to a smithy in a neighboring town, as my parents felt the hard work would be good for me, sadly it was struck by a tragic fire just as I arrived, I decided to instead join a traveling troupe of performers for some time."

Actually the blacksmith was struck by fire just after Seped's arrival, and the owner was unable to locate his savings which had been stashed in a locked hideaway behind the forge. With suspicions rising Seped joined a troupe of performers, allowing him to sharpen some of his skills such as tumbling and knife work, his natural grace made him a quick star amongst their group. While he wasn't working he honed other skills wandering among the crowds that would gather, or visiting local estates during the nights.

"After 4 years of traveling the lands I decided to settle down for awhile, I purchased a small shop and began work as a broker of odds and ends."

After 4 years of amassing wealth Seped had come into contact with the Guild, and accepted a position in mid sized town as a contact and fence. He continued to practice his skills, for if stolen items showed up a pawn shop, well he could always provide descriptions of the dastardly men who'd sold their goods to him. Life was going well for Seped.

"Perhaps I'd been with the traveling folk too long, but on the same day I decided to close up my shop and take to the road, a strange band arrived in town, I decided to throw in my fortunes with them and see where I might go this time."

Actually, he'd received a surprising and brief order from the Guild
A group travels through your town today, their description is attached to this note, we would like you to join them and see that no harm comes to them that you can prevent unless we direct otherwise.
Securing his assets he quickly worked to ingratiate himself with the group, surely protecting them said nothing with regards to how they split whatever rewards they might earn?

"It was this chance that finds me with these gentlemen and truly I can say I have been surprised every day since that choice."
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Retro Journal #9, Dragons and Dungeons
So useful lessons learned, dragons take things a little too seriously. You make one little comment and they get all eaty. Luckily I think I've discovered a way to remove at least one annoying person in the future should it be necessary. It's not like we still didn't get our deal with the dragon, (despite our group mates fears of our bovine bartering chips) and get some information about Ranchefus, so really two birds with one dragon.

I'm telling you, fortune smiled on us today, looting after a dragon does all the dirty work? Simply amazing. A whole cave of plunder, fame and fortune to claim as we show off the heads of our defeated foes, who are we to complain if she missed on barely capable giant? Our fighter was in fine form today and finished off the beast almost entirely on his own. I must admit, we also got lucky that the other party (whose remains I gleefully observed) did not have a rogue as skilled as myself, or surely the giants would have been dead already and the group would be waiting in ambush for us.

We picked up a new party member, although I'm dubious of his actual utility, he has grandiose claims to being a battle mage, but really it just seems like he's giving our fairy more of a chance to blow things up, and since I'm often in melee with said things I take a rather dim view on this addition. Time will tell if he works out for the best.

We did some scouting of the keep where Ranchefus supposedly resides, and by scouting I mean someone walked up toward the front door, right into a trap, and we had to run away with our tail between our legs. At some point I'm going to have to sit down and explain to these guys what the word scout actually means, it certainly doesn't mean get shot full of arrows and put the enemy on alert.

Hopefully we can recover from our false start since I suspect this keep is full to the brim with treasure as soon as we can remove the pesky bandits, and more then likely someone will even thank us for doing the job, as if we were doing it to help them!
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