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Gwydion Guile
Blair: It’s an old spell, perhaps as old as Gwydion Himself.

Solera: Have you seen it used?

The two friends are deep into their mugs of ale, maybe their fourth or fifth mugs.

Blair: I remember an elder war priest. His muscles were thin but his mind was sharp. He threw those skinny arms skyward as if about to dance. Then pushed his palms forward - I remember thinking he was forcing a belief through the air into the mind of that bugbear.

Solera: Did it work?

Blair: (Tossing her hands, losing then regaining control of her ale) Ohhhhh yes!

Solera: (leaning in) Well? What happened?

Blair: Looked so sad. Dropped his axe.

Solera: Idiot! Why?

Blair: The spell made the bugbear certain the axe was too heavy for him. Just stared and stared, wishing he was strong enough to pick it up again.

(Both laugh, imagining the bugbear, impotent fingers curled, gazing longingly at his weapon.)

Solera: So...the spell could make them think anything, like: Bugs are crawling all over your skin...rub those bugs off, rub rub rub!!

Blair: Yes!

(They clink mugs and take a long swallow)

Blair: Or maybe...Your mother is calling, you forgot to feed the goats you imbecile! And they run like hell to go find the goats...

(Another clink, another gulp of ale)

Solera: Your fingers have turned into worms!

(They clink, tip their mugs, find them empty and sloppily pour themselves more.)

Blair: We are massive killer moths which fill your heart with dread!

(An overexuberant clink spills ale down both their shirts)

Blair:I have one! Your pants are on fire! Run into the lake and keep running!

Solera: (giggling) Or, your manhood is on fire! Quick run to the pub and douse it in a tankard!

Blair: Good one! I may try that...
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Shadows of Florence
Florence, City of (1425)

Florence, City State of (1425)
Population: 250,000

Government: Republic (Rule by representatives from Noble Houses, Wealthiest Merchant and Banking Families, and Guilds)
The government is fractious and byzantine in nature. Rule of the city resides in the Signoria, a body comprised of 54 representatives, each from a single municipal faction (12 from the wealthiest merchant and banking families, 21 from traditional Noble Houses, and 21 from major guilds). From among these 54 representatives, nine are chosen by lot every two months, and these comprise the actual ruling council which rules by vote, the other 45 serving in an advisory capacity. Extraordinary levels of corruption exist, however, and the lot drawing is often rigged in the favor of the wealthiest. While a republic in theory, the wealthiest families rule Florence in actuality.

There is a high level of rivalry between these various factions, especially between the older Noble Houses who see their power waning and the younger mercantile class that seems bent on supplanting them. Currently the most powerful faction in the city is the Medici Family run by its patriarch Colisimo De Medici.

Florentine politics thus typically involves bribery, thuggery, and often outright assassination. Each of the power factions maintains its own small militia of armed retainers used to protect and advance their own interests.

Parallel in power to the Signoria, of course, is the Church of Deum Lumine. In the city, the Archbishop of Florence (His Excellency, Amerigo Corsini), rules supreme and answers only to the Holy Pontiff (His Holiness, Pope Martin V) in Rome. While devoted to spiritual matters in theory, the church is deeply embroiled in secular politics and commerce, and finds itself riven with corruption.

Physical Environment: The city of Florence is crowded and dirty, but very colorful, a place of labyrinthine streets and alleys. It isn’t really organized or zoned into clear districts as say a modern city (ie. a section for the wealthy, a slum, a commercial center). Rather, the city stands as a sprawling heterogeneous jumble with the palaces of the powerful (Palazzos) scattered equally throughout as are markets, piazzas, tradesman’s workshops, taverns, brothels, tenements, churches, and hovels.

The only thing approaching real organizational units of urban geography in Florence are the wealthy noble or merchant families which tend to control the neighborhoods around their palazzos.
The city center, when viewed from a distance, appears as a dense block of masonry; with narrow streets and alleys windings chaotically through it. In many places buildings are braced by archways over the streets which have, in turn, been used as the construction for more structures above. Florence is also a city of towers, many towers, which range in height from five to ten stories.

Above all, Florence is a city of streets. Her thoroughfares, streets, and alleys bustle continuously with energetic throngs of people going about their daily routines. Over there you may see a craftsman hurrying to his workshop, or spot elderly widows wending their way through the crowd to visit nieces sequestered at a convent. Gangs of rowdy boys taunt each other, posturing for the benefit of young female spectators peering down and giggling from windows three stories overhead. Fisherman haul their morning catch from the Arno, while merchants and bankers openly conducted business, making deals as they amble along the city’s avenues. The streets are also the scene of numerous processionals. Weddings, funerals, in short almost every significant life event is celebrated by family and friends with processionals that move through the streets accompanied by horns, flutes and drums. And of course there are processionals to celebrate each of the numerous Saints’ Day celebrations and carnivals that make up Florentine public life.

Florentine street life can also be violent; rivalries and vendettas often resolving themselves with public duels and brawls in the streets. In short, Florence’s streets are always crowded, colorful, smelly, and wonderful.

Interestingly, below Florence lies an extensive subterranean world of sewers, ancient crypts, and secret passages. Some of these are known and are used extensively by the powerful thieves guilds and the various heretical mystery cults that secretly worship in defiance of the orthodox church. But many more are forgotten and waiting to be discovered.

Surrounding Geography:
Florence lies in the region of Tuscany, a hilly environment with a relatively mild climate. In fact, only 8% of Tuscany is flatland, the rest being comprised of hills and mountains. The city lies in the Arno River valley, the Apennines to the north and the Chianti Mountains to the south. It has grown up at a crossroads. 63 miles to the north (1.5 days ride), over the Futa Pass (elev. 3,000’) through the rugged Apennine Mountains lies Bologna. Pisa, on the Ligurian coast, lies some 50 miles to the west down the Arno River. And 164 miles to the south (4 days ride) lies the holy city of Rome, but 45 miles along this same road lies Florence’s historic rival, Siena.

Roughly speaking, the land in a 15 mile radius around Florence is cultivated and devoted to producing livestock and agriculture to feed the gigantic city. This region spreads down the Arno River valley and upwards onto the slopes to the north and south contains numerous peasant villages and hamlets dotting the hilltops, along with noble villas and monastic communities.

Beyond this sphere of influence, however the roads can be dangerous and travelers are advised to go armed or with an armed retinue as bandits and goblin tribes do prey upon the vulnerable especially in the mountains.
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Why Yell when You Can Whisper?
Precious few thing are predictable now: cold, death, and the almost amusing power of Valindra and Solera. There are moments when I nearly feel sorry for the creatures foolhardy enough to challenge us. The ease with which they dispense with formidable foes is a wonderment, and one that lulls me into a sense of confidence and security. I have grown accustomed to moving between their feet or hovering just overhead, lighting up their targets and distracting and weakening where I can. I didn’t fully realize until today just how strongly I depended on the idea that they will ultimately take out anyone standing between us and survival.

When the moment came and Valindra put her bow away and instead drew her long sword, I heard myself utter a prayer for Whisper. Whisper is the truest of friends, seldom missing and lethal to her core, an extension of the elf herself. I felt myself dancing nervously in the air, terrified for us all. I had rarely observed Valindra with a sword, and wondered at her motivation now, when faced with these beasts, who outnumbered us badly in their territory. Only later I conceded that she is just as competent with a sword, but it frightened me nonetheless. The odds of a death blow seem far greater the closer we have to be. I would just as soon battle from afar, watching with confidence as arrows and arcs of fire slice the air.
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Grilled Pike and Session 5 Notes
Grilled Pike

Seasoning mix (salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil)

Cut pike into 4 inch chunks. Put butter on top and season, then heat until it flakes.

5th Session Notes
We’ve set off on our first quest outside of Zobeck. I haven’t been this far outside Zobeck since I first got here. We had some trouble crossing a river, and the Margreve Forest is very big. Tagrimm doesn’t seem to trust it like I trust Lada, though. I’m not sure, but we’ll see. Hopefully we make it through! Vasili is a pretty good architect and seems to have caused some trouble that I wasn’t told about, and Tagrimm is very attuned.
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Deadly Quests
66th Session
21st of Nightal - DR 1315

After shopping in every available store within Flyndagol, the group asks about Anaxi Zephries and are directed towards the capital city of Heldapan, some 1,500 miles away.

They decide to split up, half rafting down the river while the other half walk along the road. Then decide to join back up and plummet down the falls as the River Xon spills in to Xontuil Bay.

After a disastrous fall by Tiffalin and a bungled rescue attempt by Araxis they continue on, eventually making their way to Heldapan.

5th of Hammer - The Year of the Gulagoar 1316 DR
(day 57 of 90)

They eventually meet up with the cartophile, Anaxi Zephries. He provides them with the information that they seek in exchange for allowing one of his employees, Gearbox, to accompany them.

Having little time left to reach their destination, the group decides to try and take over an airship. Managing to secure both the navigator's chair more challenges await next time.
Session: Chapter 11: In Search of the Cartophile - Sunday, Dec 22 2019 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
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