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Influence? ((Session 8))
We had successfully rescued the gnome from the clutches of the Thieves Guild and made it back to the surface. The two-fingered man demanded the party to give him his payment, despite him being given increments of pay within the sewers. For as promised, they gave him a share of what they found within those walls, sparing small bits of their loot.

As the man shuffled away to find a place to hide, the gnome approached me and spun an ill tale about the shady man; "He's the cause of why I was imprisoned, he's truly evil." I had my suspicions before, but that sealed my thoughts. Since he asked of us to give him a share of what we found, he soon found an arrow piercing his heart.

Rested at the inn, I decided to take my new found axe out for a bit of training. Before I could do so, a squad of city guards came to my door to ask me questions. When they questioned me about my affiliation with the gnome, I openly agreed that I was helping them. The room grew silent for a slight moment before they informed me that the gnome I had been assisting was involved in several cases of murder within the city.

The guards left, letting me off the hook to find the murderous gnome. I sat in my room, trying to comprehend what I had just heard. My heart felt torn for what I did the previous day, and my mind raced trying to figure out what to do. How easily was I fooled into killing a man that could've very well have been innocent? Was I too blinded by my ambition to seek justice, or have I...always been this way from the beginning?

Sitting in my room staring at my spoils, I thought about my homeland and the sufferings I endured because of the war. All along I followed orders blindly, not questioning whether it was right or wrong.

My sword never seemed to shine in the light every again, instead I'm plagued by the memories of blood dripping from its steel blade. No matter how many times I scrubbed to clean off the blood, it just didn't seem to come off. Frustrated, I flung my blade into a corner to let it drown in its tainted darkness. Glancing back at my equipment, they all were oozing blood just like the sword. I knocked over everything in my insanity, scattering everything across the floor. The blood continued to flood my room to my shins. Washed over with anguish, I fell to my hands and knees and stared at the rippling image in that pool. The reflection I witnessed was not my own, but important others that I once held of high regard.

In reality I never saw blood oozing from my gear. All of it were figments of my imagination gone mad. I had truly lost my way and also my sense of reasoning. Again, I sat to ponder my upcoming. As time passed, I felt more and more sickened with myself.

After days of brooding over the past I finally emerged from my dwellings, finally able to take up my arms once more. Ignis, the faithful Kyden dwarf informed me of the gnomes heinous passing just the day before. "The little runt got what he deserved." I said. When the party joined up once more, I noticed the barbarian toiling around another halfling; a slave there of.

We were to head north to investigate something strange that had been occurring for quite some time. Several members brought along those things they call women to come with us on our journey. I should still protect them, but if any where to mince moves with me I doubt I'd be able to stay my blade from cutting them down as well.

For now, I'll keep my mask down to conceal my face. No one must know of the tormenting voice of my dead commander whispering dark things into my ears. I just hope I don't lose my senses again on our journey.
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Epic × 2!
A Change of Pace ((Session 8 Recap))
After successfully rescuing the battered gnome from the clutches of Kekliat's guild of thieves, the party took some time to rest and recuperate. The dangers faced in Kekliat's sewers had exhausted them, and most were happy with a few days of leisure.

Pockets spent his time honing his skills, wandering the markets and exploring the pockets of the richest folk he could find. He heard of growing tension within the leaderless Guild as well as the City Watch growing desperate in their search for the nameless gnome that haunted their streets.

Oates, the party's moody sorcerer, established a small alchemical lab in the room provided by Halka Omori. Secluding himself away from the party, he experimented on the samples of Violet Fungi hauled out of Kekliat's sewers. With some difficulty, the clever halfling succeeded in formulating a diluted poison from the fungi's terrible venom. While lacking the flesh-melting properties of the fearsome foe, it is nonetheless highly potent.

The Skulltaker spent his time among Alondra's girls, shamed by his defeat at Khazzok and Kharnor's hands. Though none of the party knows how, by the time Ragnar left the establishment, his spirit was as high as ever.

The freshly-freed Giddles wasted no time. Knowing that the power void in Kekliat would swiftly fill, the quirky gnome set into motion a number of plans. Staging his own death and disguising himself as a halfling slave under Ragnar's control, "Little Khar"'s presence within the party has risen a few eyebrows. With the help of Pockets' knowledge of the city, he established a frontman for his illegitimate acts, a somewhat dim, overconfident young man named Patsky. He has planted the seeds of his own Thief's Guild, but only time will tell what will come of it.

Ignis Gravelbeard, faithful of Kyden and wielder of the Holy Flames, encountered a strange, lanky man while attending the wounded and sick resting at the Church of Valir. Naming himself a friend and faithful to Adalia, he brought strange tidings to the firebrand's ear. Tales of destruction wrought by an abomination, an affront to Kyden's laws and an abuse of her power. The stricken priest could give little information as to the nature of this powerful device, but he did bring one gift. A name. Helizore. The priest pointed Ignis towards a battlefield near the town of Tonn's Crossing, located far to the north.

Meanwhile, Jondarus had locked himself away in the small room granted by Halka. Agonizing over his actions in the death of Tall Tack Two-Finger, the once-unshakable warrior found his life's philosophy falling apart in this strange land of thieves and cutthroats. While he admitted a small attachment of watchmen who questioned him as to the gnome's whereabouts, he spent the remainder of the time struggling to find what he stood for.

At last, Ignis called the party together, detailing the strange tales brought to him by the green priest. Each of them knew Kekliat was boiling with tension, the once-stable city rocked by the events of the past few weeks. As one, they decided to investigate this strange news from the north, and set about preparing. A second carriage was procured, along with rations and mountaineering gear for the trip through the Soliizha mountains. Against the wishes of Jondarus and Ignis, half the party insisted on bringing along their favored strumpets from Alondra's house... as well as the eponymous owner herself. Seeing the venture as little more than a vacation beyond the city walls, they have trusted their fate to the party's hands.

With the carriages trundling along, it will be a slow-going, two-day ride to the foot of the mountains.
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Amelia Journal 1
I'm still not sure if I made the right decision, but I'll see it through for now. Things have been rather... unusual, to say the least.

I was aiding the healers in Cragwar when a Dwarf came, in need of assistance; he was in terrible shape. The halflings instructed me to assist him, so I went over and inspected him; his wounds were numerous and deep, as if he barely made it out alive. It took a lot out of me in order to aid him, but I had him back on his feet, whole and hearty, before he left. He mentioned that his party had been dealt a terrible blow on their last assignment, and they were in need of a medic to travel with them. I was cautious, as it sounded as if their previous one was the first to fall, which does not bode well.

Even so, I decided to meet the rest of his group at the tavern. I spoke with the rest of them, and they sounded much more capable, cautious, and protective than he did. They are working on the bandit problem that plagues the trail between Cragwar and Marketplace, which would be a great help to many, so I decided to join them. They also apparently gained a stone paladin, an arcanist, and a surprisingly nice rogue; it is nice to not be the only female in their group, I'll admit.

The trip to Marketplace was mostly uneventful, with the only true threat being a pair of hungry wolves that attempted to eat the steed one night. We walked around the town, trying to find out more information about the bandits, where they normally strike, and the like; the ranger (I believe his name is Brennan?), noticed an unsavory sort following us. We lost his trail initially, and they set about selling off some of goods they had been carrying. Once that was taken care of, the ranger spotted our tracker again. This time, we followed him into an alleyway, and, of course, an ambush.

We did not see exactly where he went; we were attacked from behind. While dealing with that ruffian, we found the way forward also contained an enemy, as well as one on a nearby rooftop. In the midst of the battle, our arcanist turned on us, attempting to kill us. She managed to burn myself and the two Dwarves shortly before we dispatched of the two attacking us on the ground. At that point, Brennan continued to assault the assailant on the rooftop, while others worked on downing the one who had betrayed us. I managed to keep everyone in good condition, only to find after the fray that the one on the rooftop had escaped.

I managed to revive the other two bandits, who answered a few questions for us; the one on the rooftop (who had been following us) was apparently the leader. They knew nothing about the woman arcanist who betrayed us, or so they said. Certain that they would not provide any further information, we turned them over to the local authorities. With one betrayal looming over us, I worry what it will mean for the cohesion of this group in the long run...
Session: Game Session - Saturday, May 11 2013 from 5:00 PM to 1:00 AM
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Imago Deorum
Chapter 0 — ...And Losses
   An hour and a half later found them riding single file across the wide countryside. The track led over and around hilly farmland and fields. They rode mostly in silence, Vashti leading the way on Atala's pony, followed by Belvin and Leokas on one horse and Mythlos on the other. Most of their excess gear they had left back at the inn with Jayce.

   Suddenly, from the north, six small figures climbed over the crest of a hill, carrying spears or spear-like weapons. The short monsters shouted a war cry.

   "Goblins," shouted Leokas, as the goblins charged down the hill toward them, tossing their javelins at the party, as they struggled to dismount to face their attackers. Four of the javelins struck the ground missing their targets, but a fifth struck Vashti in the right thigh as she dropped off her pony. She cried out in pain, as Leokas felled one of the goblins before it could release the sixth javelin.

   A feral screech came from Belvin's lips, and an odd rippling emanated from a point near the top of the hill along the ground. The grass was moving, was growing, was ferociously stretching towards the legs of the goblins. They began jumping around, trying frantically to avoid being entangled. The grasses wrapped tightly around one of the goblins legs. It shrieked a high pitched yell as it found it could not move. Mythlos rushed forward to the very edge of the animated grass and cleaved the head off the little beast, sending a fountain of black blood into the air.

   The four remaining goblins managed to hop their way out of the radius of the nature spell's effect and drew morningstars from their belts. One reached Leokas and took a swing at him, giving a solid thump against the hardened leather of his armor but otherwise doing Leokas no harm. It opened its mouth to give another war cry and swallowed one of Leokas' arrows. Another goblin found itself nearly hewn diagonally from left shoulder to right hip by Mythlos' swing.

   Vashti managed to snap the javelin off, but the point was still stuck in her leg. She sent an ice crystal soaring into the stomach of one of the two remaining goblins and limped as fast as she could to attempt to flank him. It pulled away from its companion, who now engaged with Mythlos, and chased her, as arrows from Belvin and Leokas just missed it. They each took aim again, but jumping into the air, the agile monster swung down with all its strength, as Vashti started motioning another spell. They could hear the sound of her skull cracking, as red blood splattered from her head. She fell to the ground. Leokas' arrow dropped her opponent a moment too late.

   Mythlos swung at the final goblin in a rage, but it deftly avoided the blow and struck him also in the head as he pulled his blade from the ground. He felt blood flowing down his face, as he swung a second time and missed again. The goblin got in a second, much weaker blow to his shield arm, before a third swing found its target and slew the foul humanoid, ending the skirmish.

   Leokas rushed over to Vashti's side. The left side of her formerly white hair was as if dyed crimson, and her blue eyes stared into the sky; there was no life behind them. He touched her neck. No pulse. No pulse at all. Belvin joined him at her side and began motioning and chanting a healing spell, but Leokas stopped his arm. "It is too late for that. She is dead. We need more powerful magic than you can access."

   "Well, we're going to find someone more powerful then, while there is still time," said Belvin, with determination, effortlessly lifting her limp body from the ground. "Do we have rope?"

   They secured her gently over the pony. Then Belvin swiftly and angrily saw to it that all the goblins were headless.

   "The genie bottle!" exclaimed Mythlos, while trying to stop the loss of blood from his own head wound with cloth ripped from his undershirt. "We can wish her back to life."

   "Can a genie even raise the dead? Do wishes have limitations?" asked Leokas.

   "I do not know, but what do we have to lose?"

   "No," said Belvin, "we cannot risk it being an angry or deceptive genie."

   "But we may not have time," said Leokas.

   "We'll go to Copper Hill first," said Belvin. "If we cannot find a healer powerful enough to save her there, then we'll take our chances with the bottle."

   So they rode off from the bloody battlefield, more unified in purpose perhaps than they had yet ever been....
Session: 5th Game Session - Wednesday, Mar 13 2013 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Maeve picked her way along the shallows of the swollen river as she scanned the choppy water for any sign of her cousin, her horse, or any other survivors of the ill-fated crossing. Twice she and her companions had waded into the murky water to haul nearly-drowned wretches the last twenty or so yards to dry land but there was no sign of Fearghus so far, not that she held much hope out for her kin’s survival.

Arcelli,” she shouted over the low roar of the river, “Any sign of ‘em?” The strider had climbed a spring-bare tree on one of the low hills near the water’s edge and was trying to use the vantage provided to catch glimpse of any survivors.

“Couple horses, maybe five men left in the water... hard to tell in all the mess out there,” the Salp replied before sliding back to the ground.

“Shite,” the troubadour mumbled under her breath. Her mood was darker and more turbulent than the water that swirled around her knees and she had no one at which to aim her anger.

Maeve,” the cleric said somberly, “I do not wish to be pessimistic, but I’m certain I saw him go unconscious and then underwater after the... the horse dissolved.”

She nodded, “Ye said as much already, Raylen, and I nae doubt ye. I suppose I was more commentin’ on the scarcity of survivors as much as anythin’ else.”

“We must do what we can for those still clinging to life,” the priest shrugged, “and take what lesson we can from the experience.”

She frowned and stopped, “Well that nae means I have t’like it!” An indignant snorting whinny cut short the rest of her retort and made her look toward a small stand of trees some twenty paces up shore where she saw Canuto standing half-hidden in the underbrush, sides heaving and legs shaking. “Well kiss my arse,” she grinned for the first time since boarding the ferry then jogged up the rise.

The warhorse was hurt, spots of its hide burned by the dragon’s caustic breath, and exhausted from its quarter mile swim in rough water. Maeve hummed softly as she walked slowly the last several yards toward Canuto as not to spook her mount. Whether the beast recognized her or was too tired to fight she did not know but he stood his ground and let her lay her hands on his quivering hide. “That’s a good fella there, I’ll make it right as I can in a trice,” she continued humming as she soothed the warhorse’s hurts with her magic. “Yer a proper Lachlan, are ye nae? Either too stubborn t’quit or part fish, eh? There’s double oats and a few days in a dry stable comin’ fella, on my oath.”

“Does that mean we’re not moving on immediately then?” Raylen tilted his head questioningly. He stood at the edge of the trees a safe distance from the warhorse and its rider.

“Aye, provided we’re nae run out with torch and tar,” she nodded. “I’m fair sure we could all use a proper rest after today and Namen will likely be contactin’ us fair soon.”

Raylen nodded, “Hm, good to know.” He walked back toward the water and Maeve followed, leading Canuto by the reins. “But why would we be run out?”

“That green would nae have attacked the ferry if it’d been carved right the first time,” Maeve said softly. “There’s many a broken family that might nae like us bein’ close by,” she shrugged.

“But we killed the dragon, that should count for something,” Raylen reasoned.

Maeve snorted softly, “Aral logic may nae take that int’account though I think ye have the right of it. I cannae say for a certainty either way at the moment... it’s my own mood pesterin’ at me for not figurin’ a way t’end it the first time.”

“Things could have been done differently, but they were not. Neguma has given us a great opportunity with this experience,” the priest indicated the roiling river with an outstretched palm, “it is within us all to learn from it.”

“Not all of us, exactly,” the bard frowned.

“All of us that would be enriched by the experience,” he replied benignly. Raylen let the statement stand on its own merit and was somewhat relieved that his compatriot did not take immediate offense. He scanned the bank of the river and smiled, “Ah! I think I see Maculato and Nico! The gods are kind indeed!”

“Neguma must think we all know how t’walk well enough then,” Maeve muttered.

Raylen trotted toward the horses, “Obviously!” he called over his shoulder, smiling.

“Take ‘em back t’Arcelli... I’m gonna wander a bit further down just t’satisfy my own curiosity. Ye nae need t’tell me it’s pointless, I’m aware of that,” she sighed.

Arcelli looked up at the sound of approaching hoof beats and grunted in surprise as Raylen led their horses toward him. “Where’s the bard?” He had squatted down next to the carcass of the dragon to examine it for future reference. Even dead the thing stunk of acid and hate and the horses stopped short, halting Raylen in his tracks.

The priest nodded over his shoulder indicating downriver, “Searching.”

“For what, a corpse? We’re more likely to find Fearghus when we gut this thing,” he poked the dragon next to him with his sword, “Or at least pieces of him.”

Raylen blanched, “You don’t think that…” he could not finish his thought.

“Yes, I do think exactly that. Greens are vindictive bitches and you’re the one that said it was all pissed off and bitching Fearghus out before everything went to wet shits out there,” Arcelli’s tact had not improved markedly in the quarter hour the priest had been gone.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Raylen answered. “Perhaps she shouldn’t be present when we…”

“Pfft, let her see what happened to her idiot cousin, I don’t care. She can’t blame it on me.” The ranger stood up and glared at the boats moving past against the current, “I just want to be out of here before any of these big Aral fuckers decide to get shitty.”

“I think she’s planning on staying in town for a few days to rest before continuing; if we’re welcome that is.” Raylen handed Maculato’s reins to Arcelli.

“Of course she is,” the ranger groused.

The priest hid a chuckle in a cough, “Well, she contacted Namen while we were on the water so we’ll have to stay put for at least a bit until he replies.”

Arcelli sighed, “Whatever. I don’t like towns.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” the priest blinked.

“Fuck you, Raylen,” Arcelli grinned.

The priest was silent for a few moments, “I don’t think she blames either of us.”

“Only because she hasn’t thought about it yet,” the ranger replied dourly.

Raylen shook his head, “No. I think she’s been thinking about it since the first time we encountered Skyrralix and he got away. I think that may be why she didn’t want to stay at the lair as well; there wasn’t any defensible position there. It would have been folly to follow Fearghus’s suggestion to wait in the cave.”

“Skyrralix?” Arcelli arched a brow, “What the fuck is that?”

“That’s what the dragon called itself,” Raylen shrugged. “I don’t speak Draconic to know if it means something else. I just assumed that was its name. It’s not like it’s tattooed on the back of its neck or anything.”

“I suppose that’s as good a guess as any. I still say she’ll scald us on it though,” Arcelli sighed.

Raylen shook his head, “I disagree, but only time will tell.”

Arcelli stared down at the carcass for several moments then frowned, “Dammit! I bet we lost all of the preservation powder-”

One thing Raylen had noticed in his months of travel with Arcelli; the ranger’s fluency in obscenity was truly impressive, particularly when he was angry. He let the profanity dwindle to a grumble before speaking, “Actually, it’s in the bag of holding. Maeve told me all of the component collection gear was in there when we were trying to figure out weight distribution for the horses so we could haul Fearghus’ armor.”

“Oh.” The ranger looked somewhat contrite. “Good – I guess as soon as she gets back we can get to it then. I just hope she hurries.”

Maeve surveyed the small crowd that had gathered some distance from where Raylen and Arcelli were standing over the dragon’s carcass. She could not hear what any of the townsfolk were saying at this distance but most heads were bent together and there was no small amount of pointing toward the two Salpians. The bard had not noticed, until now, exactly how close they were to the outskirts of town which made her stomach turn a half somersault of realization when she thought about the consequences had she and her companions failed. She pressed her knees into Canuto’s shoulders to urge him to a trot and sat as tall as her aching muscles would allow.

“Ho there, fellas!” she said when she got close enough not to have to shout, “Looks like ye’ve gathered an audience. Ye been dancin’ or singin’?”

“Neither,” Raylen answered, “We were waiting on you to return with the kit. I don’t know why they’re just standing over there.”

Arcelli frowned, “To piss me off.”

Maeve chuckled to hide a wince as she threw her leg over Canuto’s head and slid off of his back, “Like as nae they’re wonderin’ if you’ll gut them; put yer sword away, man!”

The ranger glowered at his companion, “Why?”

The troubadour shot a glance over her shoulder, “Because it’s rude t’meet folks with bare steel in yer fist and from the looks of the feller comin’ through the crowd I’d lay good gold that he’s a clan chief of some sort.” She arched a brow, “And he’s nae armed or armored.”

Arcelli reluctantly sheathed his sword but kept a protective hand on the hilt, “Fuck.”

Maeve turned around but before she could say a single syllable the big Aral approaching them let out a loud laugh, “Leave it to a Lachlan to not only swim a flooded river but make a grand entrance doing so! Always said they was half fish, half peacock!” The bard blinked as he patted her soundly on the shoulder, “Kennan Cananach... you?”

Maeve Lachlan, Raylen Lorn, and Arcelli Cacciatore... pleasure.” She smiled. The Chananachs were on good terms with the Lachlans so the greatest hurdle had been cleared.

The Aral stuck a hand out to the priest and ranger in turn, “Welcome to Aral, lads. I’ll offer an official thanks for drubbing this critter later, but for now a handshake will have to do.”

Maeve smiled at the confused look on Arcelli’s face as she asked Kennan, “Do you think we might get a hand moving this beastie somewhere we can dress it out without running everyone out of town with the stink?”

The Cananach scratched his jaw as he eyed the carcass then looked back toward the city behind him, “Aye, bit close to town here. We’ll haul it up bank to where a wagon won’t sink and see what we can find by way of a kill shed.” He yelled up the bank and two stripling boys took off on a dead run for the city. “I have to go to the docks to see who was hauled in and what state they’re in. Those lads are mine so you can trust they’ll be back double quick with that wagon. There’s plenty of hands to help with the lifting,” he pointed at the knot of people still standing some thirty yards away.

“Thank you,” Maeve smiled, “please don’t let us keep you from tending to your folk. I’ll wager we’re all too tired to go too far.”

The Aral chief bristled, “You’ll go no further than my hearth until you’ve had my hospitality, and that’s the end of that discussion!” And with a firm nod he strode away.

Arcelli waited until the chief was out of hearing range and muttered, “He’s not going to be so hospitable when he finds out we’re the reason the dragon was here.”

Maeve glared at Arcelli and growled between clenched teeth, “Ye can stow that talk right now, Signor Cacciatore. ‘Twas nae any of us that brought green-scaled ruin down on these folk. ‘Twas that bully of a show off Turnbull cousin of mine bein’ more interested in makin’ kissy faces and bein’ a peckerwood that gettin’ the job done that gave that fuckin’ beastie another week this side the veil t’heal and brood and plan.” She puffed an errant curl out of her face, and reigned in her temper as well as she was able, “I'm more than a shade chaffed at the fool for gettin' hisself killed but I've nae any means t'take it out on him which only goes t'ward chaffin' me all the more.” She jabbed a finger at the carcass and modulated her tone to one somewhat less confrontational, “That is, I believe, a dead dragon with a sword gash in its neck that you nae could have delivered without the wings of his prayer,” she pointed to her companions in turn as she spoke, “I see nary a single mace dent on it... nor bruises from ham-sized fists, nor dagger gashes, nor any profusion of spike holes - nothin’, in other words, that shows anyone not on this bank did shite-all t’take care of business - WE are the reason IT is dead nae the other way around which cannae be said of every member of our merry little band.” The bard smiled, “Face it, lads, ye be dragon slayers and are goin’ t’have the adorin’ public fawnin’ on ye whether ye want it, or nae, so smile ‘cause here they come.”
Session: Night of the Living Wilburys - Saturday, Dec 22 2012 from 6:00 PM to 1:00 AM
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