Shadows in the Abyss

Dagon Wakes
It's about to kick off
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The Veins of Atmar
Long goodbyes, descent into the Undersea, a lot of rum and coke

- Meeting with Oroloth, Gozrehs emissary in the deeps, with his lanterns
- Guiding through the seas and finding the great fleet of wrecked ships
- A deal with the Munarvi
- Bonding with Milton’s son
- Climbing the tower, no foes
- Find the illusion in the top room of the tower
- The Worm in his ritual, attempting to disrupt him
- Diving off the side of the tower to finish the job
- Dagon wakes
- Underwater struggle
- Dagon Rises

This may be the last account I write upon this plane of existence, scrawled in the short time we have before Dagon reaches the surface of our world. Currently we rise ahead of him, rushing through the shadow plane as swiftly as we can to rendezvous with our fleet but, having finally met this foe face-to-face, I fear this may be too much even for us.

We met with Arvanc, The Great Whale, and Gozreh’s emissary of the surface seas. He was to serve as our guide into the Undersea and so with little delay we set off down below the sea, seemingly riding a bubble within a whirlpool. There are other, subtler ways down into the Undersea; but none that we had much knowledge of, or had time to investigate, and so we were stuck with this terrifying ride down, surrounded by water and silt and horrors half glimpsed.

As we approached the ocean floor, and a small pocket of air which will allow Arvanc to rest for the next portion of the journey, we became aware of stowaways trailing along behind us. Some familiar faces, the Stonehewers, had decided to hitch a ride by chaining a small rowboat to the back of our ship. If the journey down had proven rough on some of the crew aboard our ship, that seemed little in comparison to what they must have faced being buffeted about in our wake.

They came to lay claim to Barrowheim, the great city that lay below this pocket of air, to raise it up to the surface again. I still have no idea how they intend to accomplish this, but we did not have time to question them. With only our well wishes and the mutual promise of help if possible, we set out on next stage of our journey, down through the ocean floor. The swirl of silt and water around our bubble, cutting out all light and sound, made the journey eerily peaceful. It made the darkness of the great cavern we emerged into seem almost bright in comparison, with shimmering lights in the distance reflecting off the water like stars.

With our course set, and the ship heading on the correct bearing, Arvanc left us to return to the surface. Some of those shimmering lights seemed to be gathering closer, and the creeping feeling of being unwelcome grew as a collection of the lights scuttled above us and flickered, as if their source has just blinked. It seemed wise to move as quickly as possible away from the scene our arrival may have caused; but we were waylaid before making it any distance at all. Three Drow slaveships pulled sleekly through the darkness and made for an intercept course, attempting to cut us off from the exit of the cavern.

A short time later, the ships capsized and sinking, we left the scene after dragging aboard a single hostage for information. Ingo, the equivalent of a cabin boy (or an Andrew), was relieved to have his life spared and, if anything, seemed more terrified of the idea we might return him home. Apparently life for a lowly Drow male is little better than extended servitude, ruled by fear of punishments for relatively minor transgressions. In exchange for whatever information he could provide regarding our path through the Undersea, we chose to allow him to remain aboard.

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The King of Pirates
And it is, it is a glorious thing to be a Pirate King

Getting everyone together
Upon getting back to Freeport we discovered that the Pirate Council was in ruins. Without the near-divine leadership of Aramis, they began to turn on themselves (even more than they had previously). I knew that I would need their united strength and also the strength of the Lower Council if we were to triumph against Dagon and his minions. The Lower Council were easy to manipulate, so we started there.
First up was the Spider Queen; I had heard many rumours of her and none of them very nice. We travelled around Freeport before docking at Bloodwater Bay, where a rather shifty looking mantried to charge us a docking fee. A DOCKING FEE?! He should be paying us to dock our dinghy there! And he has the gall to try and ask for a bribe for his silence on our passing! The unmitigated impudence! I relented, obviously a better man stood before me. What more could one man do in this situation? I extended my hand as a gesture of friendship, one bested man to the bestee, and then I cast Blindness on him. HOW WILL HE TELL OF OUR PASSING NOW? WHO WILL HE TELL? Before leaving I made sure that he took a little dip in the bay. You know, to wash off all of the corruption.
The road was boarded up and the blockade covered in webs. After assuring the guards that yes, we really did want to go through there they let us pass. And rightly so! As a Pirate Lord no mortal may hinder my progress in Freeport. After a while, it became apparent that our progress was being noted. My keen senses detected drow in increasing numbers tailing us on the streets and over buildings. Incensed by this flagrant disregard of my person, I let them know whose presence they had the pleasure of being in. Using my mastery over tongues from different locales I sang them an Aramis Original™ Ballad in their own native language of Undercommon. What a feat. Drow maidens (and the men too) were practically swooning off of the shingles from the performance. With them thoroughly in check we proceeded forward into the heart of the town.
We eventually got to a building where the webs were virtually making the surrounding opaque. It was here that we knew we had arrived at the entrance to the Spider Queen’s den. At the entrance we were accosted by a massive oaf of a spider. This Moneyspider barred the entrance saying that he ‘was there to protect the queen’ and that ‘we couldn’t get through’. I gently told him that we were there on Council business (which, to be honest, was more than he deserved) and that if he didn’t move I’d make him regret the day he hatched out of his egg. With much posturing and pomp he eventually moved aside and we pushed our way through.
The Spider Queen both was and wasn’t what I was expecting. All curves and legs. I immediately got an air of a woman of quality, of culture. There was only one way to handle this. With diplomacy. Running my hand through my hair, I stepped up to her and made myself known. Of course she had heard of me, and of my exploits. Excellent. I explained our plight and how we needed her support to wage war against Dagon to stop our very existence from turning into something out of a nightmare. She expressed concern that as a mother it was important for her children to have room to expand, to grow. I gave her the caverns under Freeport, they were riddled with Lizardmen anyway – ridiculous creatures. I even threw in an offer to throw some warm bodies her way to help clear out the ruins. Olo and Tyrnn spoke up to let me know that if we were to let the spiders breed underground they could be a problem later. No. When I see a spider on my ship, I crush it. They wouldn’t become a problem. She agreed and we left amicably, with her assuring us that we could count on her support. Next up, the rest of the council.
After getting back to Freeport proper I arranged a parley with the rest of the council. They were the usual sort, plump, over-indulged fancymen. I really didn’t have time to waste with these Miltons. Going around the table I had them list their grievances and objectives for the future. They complained of trivial stuff: parties in the lantern district overflowing into other locales, the poverty and joblessness of Bloodwater Docks. I fixed all of their problems, implementing a rule that every ship in Freeport had to employ a pirate ‘intern’ who had to work for them for an allotted period of time. I also taxed the Merchants more, I am a pirate after all.
With this settled, I turned my head to dealing with the pesky pirate council. After handing her a seat at the council Pialoosa decided to bite the hand that fed her, and rejected my request for support. I found her hiding out in Smuggler’s Cove, like a damned criminal. Turns out she had managed to make quite the name for herself there as its leader. One shouldn’t let power get to one’s head, I think. She requested Karahil’s head (now affectionately known as Cuntahil), which we were only too happy to comply with. Too many times had we be deceived by and lied to by that piece of bilge.
On our return with Karahil, she told us that she wouldn’t be directly joining in the fight, and that instead she would voyage along the coast in an attempt to drum up support. What a joke! I could have done that on one of my off days! Stupid, useless, Halfling. Determined not to waste any more time with her, I went back to the Pirate Council building. Here I had to deal with the biggest nest of vipers this side of the material plane. Johannes Milton. In order to keep him under my thumb, I took his son as a ward. Using this hostage, I mean, protégé I managed to garner Milton’s goodwill. The rest of the council were a piece of cake to persuade. Well, those were present anyway. Easton, bless him, wasn’t too suited for combat so I asked him to aid Pialoosa in her quest.
After leaving the pirate council, I was staggered when Tegan appeared before me. Well, not so much staggered really as mildly surprised. They always do tend to try and find me after what can only be described as the best night of their lives. One thing I wasn’t prepared for though, was the young girl hiding behind her with a strangely familiar face…

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Vision of a New World
Tyrnn travels the branches of Oldrim to visit the New World

A day of wonders, both great and small, and choices made. This journal entry may be longer than usual for I wish for some record of all I saw today to remain, even when I have gone from this world.

We set out for the temple, unsure what to expect but prepared for battle, only to find it deserted and decaying. Yet even in it’s dilapidated state I could see the glory that still shone through. This great monument had withstood so much and for so long that it could only be an inspiration for all of us to follow, and yet only a little remained of the god it represented.

Within the vaulted halls and the seawater channels, in the centre of a beautiful wildflower garden there stood a single tree, twisted and gnarled with age yet still bearing fruit. A black fig, much like the peach served in Lanzhou, hung heavy from the branches that seemed to reach towards me and bow in the wind. It was a sign, and time for me to meet my god.

Eating the fig I could feel myself changing. My feet rooted in the ground and my skin became as bark, my breath stopped and I crumbled away into nothingness. I came to in a place I had visited once before, the plane all souls come to after their death, and yet I still kept my body. Going in any direct was a futile effort, with no idea of my location or destination there was no reason anymore. So I accepted my fate. I laid down, I waited, and I died.

As my soul rose out of the body I used to inhabit, a strange figure rose too, but this one from my sword, Tranquility. He claimed to be an ancient follower of Gozreh, one Ondir and was to be my guide to them. And so we left this plane in a new direction, one I had not been able to perceive while still trapped in my flesh and that is still hard to explain now that I have returned to its confines. We climbed higher above the plane, above many planes, all laid out along branches as if part of a great tree, and set off.

As we travelled, heading along the convergence of the branches, I got a chance to see into some planes we passed and the strange ways of life those within had. I’m only left with an impression of the things I’ve seen, some mortal attempt to perceive something outside of our understanding, but what I saw was both magnificent and terrifying. Strange creatures swirled at the edges of some planes and slowly sapped away the life contained within, draining them and leaving husks in their wake. Dotted among the still living globes were those left behind, full of darkness and radiating pain.

Eventually we shifted back towards a specific globe, smaller than many others but somehow brighter; fresher and newer. The surroundings shifted into focus at the bottom of a vast cliff, a climb greater than any I have ever seen before, and my guide started to climb. The way was tough, a long climb that seemed to drain in a way that was unrelated to muscles or breath. As we reached the final push of our climb, Ondir’s gradual shrinking of stature became obvious and I was forced to carry him through the final push to a meeting I have so long awaited.

For at the top of the cliff was my God. Gozreh, whom had received so many of my prayers and curses, sat in meditation upon the plateau and overlooked the creation of this world. As sat beside her, and settled into my own meditative state, I could feel the work taking place around us. Mountains rose up and spat fire, flowing rivers carved out valleys and forests ages and spread. And then… a pause. My god turned to me and offered me the welcome I hadn’t known I’d missed for since I first left my childhood home.

She offered me a choice. To stay and help her create this new world. Or return to the world of my birth, the world she has now all but left, and fight back the darkness rising there. While I longed to stay there, in the warm embrace of my god, I knew I could not abandon those I had left behind. So I return to pen this entry and begin our journey, which will finally put us against Dagon, the one who would devour this world.

-Tyrnn Holyhand
Acolyte of Gozreh

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The Giant King Falls
Battle in the flooded ruins of Gozreh's temple.

As the ship approached the giant camp we immediately became aware that something was off. The town was too silent, there was no movement. I ordered Tyrnn to land the ship, and smoothly. He’s been too incompetent of late, I didn’t spend all of that time tutoring him in proper shipcraft for him to go and break the ship. Thankfully we descended from the skies and landed without too much incident. I grabbed Treacle off her perch – I felt would need her insight – and rounded up the crew. I made it clear that we were in potentially hostile territory and we had to keep our wits about us. Tyrnn, Olo, and I descended from the ship and unfurled the magic carpet. We climbed aboard and made our way to the town. It was deserted, desolate. The temple looming above it cast a sinister shadow over the surroundings. All of the residents had presumably fled… but why? Had they heard of my coming? This wouldn’t be the first time that people have run in fear from the name Aramis Barbcock. The very sound gives even me chills. While Tyrnn and Olo clowned about I remained alert scanning the surroundings for danger. Ever since Jerome… No, I must focus.
We rode around the town to check for signs of activity before making our way to the temple. The courtyard was untended and unkempt. I had to resist the urge to build an effigy of myself there as tribute to our passing, it wasn’t the time. Perhaps later though… The temple was doorless and inside was dark and gloomy. I gave us some rudimentary light while Tyrnn brought out his torch, before continuing on our way. Very soon the corridor opened up into a chamber with a throne standing in the middle of the room. As we came closer we realised that it wasn’t empty. A massive figure was sitting on the throne. He was clothed in once fine rags and had bands of faded gold about his arms and neck. This could only be Altan.
I walked up to him, “I see you still had the courage to remain and face me! Commendable seeing as all of your lackeys have run off and left you.” Altan shivered and cowered in fear before me gibbering to himself like a maniac. Truly, word of my deeds had spread. I began to taunt him, goading him to face me in one-on-one open combat. No one had dared since Chadwick Blaze, and we all know how that turned out. With him broken and penniless, devoid of Elizabeth, and getting his breeches handed to him by yours truly. Altan simply kept cowering in the depths of his throne looking anywhere but directly at me. When Altan wouldn’t rise to the bait we decided to provoke him physically. However, as soon as we touched him he began spewing out a foul goop. Not knowing the nature of this substance we quickly jumped onto the carpet. Running through possible scenarios I reasoned that it probably would not be safe to physically touch this liquid making close combat out of the question. Olo and I fired a few shots at him before trying our luck with some dust of dryness that we had stashed away for a rainy day. This worked for a while until surprisingly; the dust began to get saturated. The liquid burst forth and eventually it began to fill the room, the corridor, and the land beyond. We decided to retreat to the ship and decide our next course of action. Upon getting to the door of the temple, however, we saw that the horizon and the surrounding area had now become partially submerged in water. We urged the carpet on over the deepening pools of water when, from below, the attack came. We were scattered, the most agile of us already back on his feet, goldsheen rapier in hand, scanning the water for danger. I began to feel a creeping sensation up the back of my breeches… it couldn’t be…ABOLETHS. I thought I had taught them to fear me all those years ago when we first did the dance of blades. I could beat this Aboleth single headedly, but first… I needed to look for my crew. We are strongest with my oversight. Olo was still on his backside, Tyrnn blindly searching for something in the water. “TO MEEEE,” I cried, trying to rally my crew. Then the tentacles came. Olo didn’t stand a chance. They began to wrap themselves around him, probing him in the most intimate places. Appalled, I surged forward. “BACK, YOU!” I screamed hacking away at them with my rapier. A few tried to sneak up behind me, so I released a cacophony of sound at them forcing them back. I used a burst of strength to free Olo from the remaining tentacles before dragging him towards Tyrnn. At this point it was difficult to tell where the man stopped and the tentacles began. I could only see his eyes, pleading with me to end his suffering, his sexual torment. “Not this day, Tyrnn!” I rushed forward frantically beating at the tentacles to release him. My fists had little effect, and I stumbled forward tripping over something in the water. I glanced down… Tranquillity! I submerged myself grabbing the sword before releasing a barrage of attacks onto my beleaguered crewmate. Finally, he managed to free himself, and handing him Olo we managed to retreat to the relative safety of the ship. I ordered Andrew to give us some height so that we may better understand the situation that we were under. A murky shape weaved its way through the buildings below in water that bizarrely was now above human height. I was about to order a blast of cannon fire to finish the fell creature off when the ship began to descend. The angle was too sharp though, and the decent to rapid. Tyrnn. Again. I looked over to the ship’s wheel only to find Andrew there grinning at me fanatically.
“What’s wrong with you, man?” I cried, fighting to make my way to him. He only rolled his eyes into his head and waggled his tongue at me. All around me crew members were rushing to right the ship, trying to wrestle control of the wheel away from Andrew. They finally managed it, only to have Andrew start attacking them indiscriminately. This unnatural behaviour, so out of character for Andrew had to be the work of the Aboleth. Some sort of mind control, I suspected.
Then all hell broke loose. Tyrnn began attacking Andrew, Olo began attacking Tyrnn, all the while the ship was still descending. Was I the only sane one?!
We reached a level where the the Aboleth was able to attack the ship directly, rending it with its tentacles. The battle between the crew however had moved below the deck. I rushed down the depths of the ship to find them in a standoff in the engine room. That jumped up jellyfish, He-who-Stickers doing absolutely nothing to defuse the situation [WELL ACTUALLY ARAMIS, OLO AND I WERE TAL-] Shut up. And stay out of my head. I began to try to talk Tyrnn down and stop Olo from peppering the inside of the ship with bullets. Then Tyrnn moved. Andrew exploded next to me, and Olo started shooting. I fell to my knees trying to gather up Andrew’s remains. Olo used his ring of invisibility to disappear and leave the engine room with Tyrnn hot on his heels. I could hear the cannons firing away at the Aboleth outside, but did it really matter anymore? Andrew was dead. [BUT I AM ALIVE!] YOU FOOL!
I gathered up the remains and stored them somewhere safe. Andrew would rise again. I guarantee it. Back on the upper deck, Tyrnn seemed to have regained his senses. About damn time. Did he even care that he just obliterated Andrew?!
We were outgunned. We needed help. We needed Mara. The reason I let her leave the crew was for moments like this. Moments where we would need her healing abilities, only grown stronger and more potent over time. Finding an opportune moment I conjured a permanent image of Tyrnn allowing him to use the portal in the oven to go to Mystcroft and commandeer her.

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Flaming Hair, A Murder of Crows and an Ancient Plague
The story goes back to its trippy roots...

Andrew Haskett, hero of the seas, associate slayer of the Empress of the Imperative, and sorcerer extraordinaire has been taken on at last as the primary cohort of the great Aramis Barbcock. Now that Mara is gone, I am finally being given the respect I have always deserved. First Mate Andrew Haskett. If the boys at Grimspire Academy could see me now they’d shit bricks. After years of peering in through the window, Andrew is finally at the Captain’s table. I must resist the urge to send for mother and father, and tell them all the deeds I have performed. If they could see me now…

In the absence of crowd favourite Mara, I have taken it upon myself to write up the ships log, after all Aramis never touches the damn thing, and someone ought to be keeping some sort of record of these adventures. We recently set out from Stillscour and left The Dust behind us, we are sailing at 6 knots across open plains, beneath us the vast untouched expanse of the Tian Xi meadows rolls languidly by. The giants are out in force, we see them moving too and fro, riding their great chariots about and watching our movements. I don’t fear them. The crew have faced many terrible things before, and so we will again. Besides Tyrnn is built like a stack of bricks, I doubt there’s a man or woman alive who could best him. I watched him punch a fucking dragon out of the sky the other day. Wild.

A weird thing that happened was that we found a hole in the ship. It wasn’t just any hole though, this one led to the stove inside of a cart moving slowly through some foreign land. A portal between spaces, something that must have been created by a powerfulish magic user. What’s stranger is that within the cart was another door, which led to a ruined cathedral tower above Mystcroft, the forbidden city. There was a wizard in the tower, working on potions and poultices, a cure for the old plague. He seemed convinced that the tower was slowing down time outside the room, and insisted we were wrong when we told him that he had outlived the city he was trying to save. When we showed him the truth, he seemed pretty upset. Amateur.

We spent a while just looking out at that place. I had always hoped to go to Mystcroft, see the place where so many great events of history happened. The party tell me I went as a corpse once, but it’s altogether different visiting the place when you’re not a collection of bones and viscera being carried around inside a bag of holding.

Beyond the tower we found another door, this one led to the inside of a great tower, ancient by my reckoning, and filled with prison cells. After a little recon, we determined it must have once been a prison of the Master of Crows, a powerful wizard and slave merchant who terrorised the free folk of Atmar for decades, until the Stone Hewers slew him aboard his own Navigator. To stand in such a place was truly awe inspiring, the weight of history hanging on every chain. Also, there was a lot of bird shit.

Incredibly, some of the inmates still lived. One, a broken down automaton could barely muster clear sentences, but spoke of the Master of Crows, of it’s imprisonment, and of the world outside. We set the poor bastard free, to discover for itself how truly changed the world has become since those days. The other inmate was of sound mind and body, a Munarvi (apparently…) by the name of Mirrick, she was incredibly chipper given that she’d been locked away for countless centuries. She said some things about the Black Tree, and the swarming creatures who feed on its fruits. She told us about the Munarvi, and their naval campaigns in the Undersea of Atmar. I tried my best to listen, but it all sounded a little mystical and serious to me. First Mate Andrew Haskett is a man of action and not words after all. Aramis always tells me never to listen to a word anyone says (the irony of me taking that to heart just dawns upon me) and he has accomplished far more than most, so it must be good advice. We let her free, and promised to meet her in the Undersea if we ever find ourselves there (fat chance).

Sailing onwards, now uneasy knowing there might be other gateways aboard the ship, I found myself unable to sleep. In my restlessness I wandered to the engine bay. The diligent alien we met in orbit about Bretheda was still working. We sat and spoke for a while, in the quiet and the glow of the engine room. I told him about my home, about my time in Grimspire and about my family. He really seemed to listen. He told me lots of things about the nature of the universe, he said he was figuring things out that none of his kind had ever known before. He’s an odd chap, but I think we’re getting along in a strange sort of way.

Our conversation was ended with a thud on the outer hull. He who Tinkers told me we were in danger, and began working the engines. Running up to the deck I saw with horror that the ship was pierced by ballistae, with cruel chains dragging the ship downwards. The vessel groaned and creaked as we began to plummet downwards. Then I saw him, a great masked giant on a winged chariot, drawn by two cosmic dragons. He stared down at me and I feared death (for the third time). Tyrnn, Olo and Aramis burst from the lower deck, and the battle was begun. The fighting was furious, the giant sorcerer threw a barrage of stones that pierced the deck and nearly took the life of Aramis. Furious, I slipped my hand into my (very stylish) new coat and drew my most prized weapon… the rod of quickening. Holding it aloft, I summoned all the strength within me and began to channel scorching ray after scorching ray. The heat of the spells seared the flesh of my hand as all the energy I could possibly levy poured through that rod. The size and power of the ray that flew forth was a shock, even to me. The giant was overcome in moments, his corpse collapsing and crashing to the ground. A cheer went up. My god I thought, this is my hour.

The next day however, when I asked Aramis about it at breakfast, he told me he didn’t remember the giant or the battle, or my finest hour. It’s okay, I know he just says these things so I won’t grow proud. I will prove myself again to him tomorrow, when we finally arrive at the halls of Altan!

- A.H

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Time Travel, Megafauna and Very Bad News
Altan plays his first card, Wei Wei begins his cosmic quest...

Originally we stopped in the city of Stillscour simply to restock and prepare for the harsh journey across the desert. Right on the edge of the territory Altan attempts to lay claim to, this fortified city had grown in prominence through its reinforced walls, supported by the hulking skeletal remains of some gargantuan beast. A hub of technological trade caused by the presence of the genius inventor Weiwei, who chose to call Stillscour his home.

After being charged an extortionate docking fee, we disembarked and began to spread out in search of provisions. Before I could go to search the markets for new equipment, I was approached by my acolytes who requested instruction in The Way. Guiding them through basic drills I began to assess their strengths, and find myself wondering at the lack of physical discipline these younglings showed. While I am aware that Hatori was far greater than I at the spiritual aspects of our teachings, he seemed to have neglected the combat arts. These students seem far more apt at swinging a splitting axe and sweeping a floor than at taking down an opponent.

After ensuring some of the more capable students could continue to guide the rest through a basic regime, I left them with some personal wisdom to ponder. “Always know where the exits are”. It may not be enlightenment in the traditional sense, but I must raise these children to survive in the coming era.

Joining the others, we soon got to meet Weiwei, a rather eccentric character who insisted that he had to give us a weapon for great power. A vast self-loading cannon, aptly named Very Bad News, was capable of firing rounds that exploded with devastating effect. We were warned however, that the shock of each shot could damage our ship, and to ensure we were in the water when we fired to minimise the recoil and strain. While I am wary of this individual, particularly when he claimed that there was no charge for it, I do not sense any ill-intent or hidden motives. He seems to genuinely wish to help us in our cause for unknown reasons.

Once the work was complete, the provisions were loaded and we began to make ready our departure from this town, the sound of drums reached us over the wind whistling through the walls of bone and steel. Altan had launched his offensive. Retreat was impossible as the skies turned suddenly stormy and two blue dragons swept into view. Suddenly, the cry of an lookout revealed that squads of fire giants had charged up from previously hidden positions and had began to batter down the gates. Before rushing down to the central courtyard, I bade my students to stay safe upon the ship but also to watch and learn how true combat is done.

Aramis called for order and coordinated the crew into getting the ship underway, while Olo provided covering fire for the defenders down in the city. As the first of the fire giants to breech the front gate stepped forward into city proper, I descended to try and hold the bottleneck. The fight was fierce but swift, ending only when my foe crumpled to the ground unable to continue. I had hoped this show of strength might slow down the advance, but fire giants appear to be a proud warrior race and this seemed to only excite them more.

I was force to retreat up the walls before they could box me in, and seized my escape by the tail when one of the dragon swooped past to attack. Narrowly avoiding being swept off I managed to pull myself up the length of it’s body to a secure hold by the wings, before using them to pull the dragon into a nose dive at a location higher up in the city battlements. We came down hard and I was hard pushed to finish the dragon before it recovered.

Weiwei appeared from his workshop, shouting at us to get clear of the city as he sped past in a strange moving contraption. We retreated to the ship where the crew had finally got us the ship ready to leave. The skies were still stormy, but finally clear of dragons thanks to some expert marksmanship from Olo, and so we set sail as swiftly as possible while the fire giants rampaged through the city and pushed up towards the dock.

Our exit was hastened by the largest blast I have ever witnessed, larger still than the detonation which destroyed The Brandon’s Revenge, which filled our sails and pushed our masts to their creaking limits as it launched us from the city. It took some time to get control of the ship and turn back to see the damage. I expected some scene of carnage to greet us, but frankly there wasn’t enough left for that description to apply. Weiwei waiting in his creation was the only recognisable part of our surroundings and he didn’t intend to hang around long. After our goodbyes, he simply wished us well and then proceeded to disappear for some other time. I’ll never get used to the eccentricities of wizards.

Preparations complete, we begin our journey North across the desert and its endless sandstorms. Any hope of a stealthy entrance appears to have been left back with the ashes of Stillscour. Altan know we are coming, and I doubt we can expect any sort of warm welcome.

- Tyrnn Holyhand
Tutor of The Way
Acolyte of Gozreh
Wrestler of Dragons

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Ronins, Shamisens and Empty Promises
The Second Betrayal...

Leaving the destruction in Lanzhou in our wake we set sail once more, this time for Windsong Monastery, my old home. A bittersweet feeling. In some ways I dreaded the return and the disappointment my Master would feel when I could not stay to take his place; but to return to the place of my childhood, and the simple and peaceful pleasures to be found in monastery life, would be a balm from the betrayal and intrigue that had taken place since our last visit. This was not to be the case however.

Jacob, my counterpart from Catalan’s airship, had returned to the monastery. Master Hatori had secluded himself and seemed worn, tired and stretched too thin. Mei was distracted, her focus elsewhere and her infrequent returns to the temple should have warned of what was to come if I had not been too blinded by the chance to rest to heed the warning of the Guardian of Windsong.

A trip out to the nearby town seemed positive at first, we heard that the followers of Zon Kuthon had been less active in the area lately, and the chance to let loose was only enhanced by a dance and moonlight walk with Mei. Unfortunately this was cut short by the discovery of multiple bodies. The reason for the cults inactivity became clear when we came across bodies in the road, leading to the vast slaughter that had taken place in their grounds. None were spared. Monks, priests, civilians and even the children laid out to rot, only the coolness of the night helped to keep the stench of decay at bay.

Upon returning to Windsong, it soon became clear who had done this. Mei. I thought she could change when I spared her life previously; but the years spent fighting off enemy forces, only to have them return later, had worn down her commitment to defend. It would have been hard for me to cast judgement for while I have tried to avoid the death of innocents in our journey, I have some blood on my hands will not wash off. Master Hatori however, judged this a grievous breech of the principles he taught and he cast Mei out of the monastery, never to return.

This proved to be a short lived exile as she returned that night in an attempt to steal the relic of the Monastery, the Orb of Storms. I feared a battle to the death as I confronted her, demanding that she return the orb and repent for her actions against the followers of Zon Kuthon. It was not my place to repeal Hatori’s decision, but I vainly hoped genuine repentance might be enough to allow her to stay.

Mei could not do it though. She returned the orb and left peacefully, to wander where the winds would take her but without a place to call home. Life without a home is hard. Life without a family or purpose is empty. It is the people in our lives that drive us onward in our journeys and allow us to become more than we were yesterday.

Hatori took this hard. One student a betrayer, one a gun-wielding mercenary, and myself. He said his goodbyes and walked into the embrace of the ocean, leaving myself or Jacob to take up the mantle of master. Most of the students have come with us on “Betwixt Two Planes”, to continue learning the path from their inadequate new teacher. Some travel with Jacob, to destinations unknown.

I’ve tried to follow the teachings of our order, to bring balance to the world and better the lives of those I could reach. But what had our recent adventures wrought? Deaths by the hundred in the Imperative. Chaos from the unravelling of the Arcanum. Murder of the Empress and her consorts. I don’t see the alternative which could have avoided war with Tirrimere and our heads on spikes, but maybe that is a failing on my part. The uncertainty claws at me even as the responsibility for these young lives adds a new burden to my life. But I must go on, I must do better and try to show these younglings my way. For it is the only way I know.

-Tyrnn Holyhand
Teacher of the Way
Acolyte of Gozreh
Master of Windsong Monastery

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Peaches, Kidnappings and Cannonfire
The First Betrayal...

Morale in the party is very low. Aramis’ mood is easy to read. He is irritable, grumbling at everything from the unsatisfactory pH levels of the salt water in this part of the ocean, to the quality of Andrew’s drink mixing capabilities. He is already talking about our need to bring aboard a sassy new bartender. It is harder with Tyrrn. He often seems vacant, lost in his self-medication of meditation, but at times he is strained and mournful. His good humour has waned, and he appears more serious than before.

Perhaps Tyrnn and Aramis should have taken the pragmatic approach to grief of yours truly, Count Olo Loamsdowne-Burrows, who has dealt admirably with Mara’s departure from the ship by investing in the purchase of the most beautiful pet cat in all of Atmar. See how the sun sparkles in her golden fur, and briny drops of the surf glitter delicately in her long whiskers. She darts nimbly between the legs of the crew, she steals treats from the pantry with a cunning befitting her master, and her round stomach carries an authority and dignity not known since the days of Annabelle d’Alum. Yes, the seas of the shattered continent have never known a cat more clever or magical than sweet Penelope!

Our long journey to Lanzhou was largely uneventful save for one major encounter. A cry from the crow’s nest alerted the crew below to unusual shiftings in the water not far from the ship. Aramis, who is well-versed in the taxonomy of the ocean knew immediately what we were about to encounter, and sprung into action, calling for the cannons to be manned. I had hardly clicked the spinning chambers of my blessed revolvers into place when the Kraken was upon us. The I Know What You Did Last Friday and The Small House On The Prairie were about to have their first taste of eradicating evil from our fair waters. A pity – I had been saving one a-piece for Silverfin and Chadwick at the Lanzhou bank.

The mammoth beak and tentacles of the kraken did considerable damage to the ship, and we lost a couple of able crew members. Eventually, and inevitably, we dealt enough wounds to the beast to send it fleeing. An epic encounter, but nobody’s heart seemed to be really in it, given the emotional climate. More concerning is the very appearance of a kraken. It seems as if Dagon’s power really is strengthening, and strengthening fast.

The city of Lanzhou was dense and hot. After successfully bartering for a very reasonable docking fee, Tyrrn and I set off in search of Pia Loosa’s tip off about a very particular noodle stand in the depths of the metropolis. Aramis figured he would rather go out and get himself drunk than aid us, and would regail us later about his meeting with a washed up old captain he had met in a bar, who had claimed intimate knowledge of him, argued loudly with him for a considerable period of time, and bought him numerous drinks, before he had got bored and wandered off. After considerable prompting, we were eventually able to deduce that he was talking about Catalan.

It was a long time before Tyrrn and I found the noodle stand we were looking for. Peculiarly, it was at the very moment that we had stopped searching for it, and had got distracted exploring and talking about other matters, that we stumbled upon it quite by accident. Truly, it would not be the only accident during our brief stay in Lanzhou, but certainly the most fortunate. The noodle stand stood alone in the middle of a small plaza surrounded on all sides by tall buildings crammed with living apartments. Despite the crowded nature of its surroundings, the atomsphere around the stand was tranquil and seemed to speak of a much more ancient time.

We were served with little fanfair. The peach broth had a flavour to make a hafling weep. Between sniffs, Tyrrn explained that the tears pouring down his face were actually beads of sweat from the midday heat. At the bottom of our bowls we found a stone of a peach, as black as the lightless abyss. Upon Tyrrn’s touch, an invisible seam in the stone split it in two. A fragment a parchment inside read, ominously, “You shall be betrayed three times”, before crumbling to dust.

We spent the next morning scouting out the Lanzhou bank. It is a truly magnificent building. It is colossal, the architecture a wondrous blend of intricate, ancient statues and carvings, and the glossy veneer of the modern corporate-chic aesthetic that is currently in vogue. Surely it will stand for many centuries to come, a shining example of the architecture of its day. We watched the comings and goings of the bank personel, but there was no sign of either Chadwick or Silverfin. The bank is heavily guarded, and we would need a devious plan to get to our destination on the top floor.

Our reconnaissance mission led us discovering the living residence of a notable clerk who had clearance to access many locked off areas of the building. We designed a plan to stealth onto his property in the dead of night, and isolate him, interrogate him, blackmail him, and strike fear into his heart, so as to acquire his cooperation into securing the passage we required throughout the bank. It should be made clear of course, that he would be in no real danger. It is the unfortunate burden of the crew of the Brandon’s Revenge, that sometimes the lesser of two evils must be chosen, and in this case there can be no greater evil than the rise of the dark lord Dagon.

The residence of the esteemed clerk was much more heavily guarded than anticipated. Unfortunately, we quite rapidly triggered the alarm system, almost as if they were expecting us to attack. Tyrrn, who for reasons known only to himself, had accidentally ended up in the sleeping chambers of the young daughter of the clerk. As the alarm sounded, and our cover blown, he seized the unfortunate girl, and fled the premises, with the clever idea of using her kidnap as a ransom to gain us access to the bank.

The next morning, a deal was struck. The young girl would be freed from the hotel room she was locked in and returned to her family after the clerk had guided us into the high-security areas of the Lanzhou bank. The poor man was extremely anxious upon meeting us in person, and nearly blew our cover. By the time we reached the second floor it didn’t really matter anyway, as we were forced to fight our way through various hired magical and martial mercenaries that alerted the whole premises to our whereabouts.

We despatched them without too much difficulty, and made our way to the top floor. And there he sat, in the middle of a pillared room, with a flowery table and tea set, ready for us to arrive, as if welcoming us to his penthouse suite. Silverfin smiled broadly as he offered us tea, the promises of all previous misunderstandings forgotten. And then, as our defences began to drop slightly, the scene changed. Silverfin was, of course, nothing but an illusion. Instead we were set upon by two huge menancing demons who were horribly familiar. It had been a trap all along.

As we sprang into action, Aramis and I were caught in a mass of black tentacles, conjured out of thin air. Tyrrn managed to evade them, and was forced to take on the demons single handedly. Around the outskirts of the room there prowled a huge white wolf with seven tails, waiting for us to be weakened. As Aramis and I struggled in our bindings, Tyrrn fought ferociously with the demons, but yet more were appearing. One had the torso of a woman, but from the hips down the body a serpent. An ugly demon weilding razor-sharp blades, she was accompanied by a horde of smaller evil companions.

Aramis transformed himself into a floating gas and was able to ascend above the reach of the tentacles before transforming back to his usual form to try and aid my escape. In the meantime, Tyrrn has beaten down a good number of the demons single-handedly. As I began to succumb to the tentacles, a flurry of crossbow bolts narrowly missed me. I quickly triangulated the exact spot from where the bolt had come from – an area of the room where no visible creature stood. I called out to direct Tyrrn to the location, and one swift, accurate punch later, Tennyson appeared before us.

Tyrrn and Tennyson exchanged blows, as Aramis held off the wolf that was trying to protect its master. There could only be one winner, and soon Tennyson lay dead upon the floor, His wolf would not outlive him for long. I freed myself from the tentacles from which I had been comfortably watching the battle and congratulated the others on proving their worth in combat without the direct involvement of their bullet-laden acolyte. Quite why Tennyson has it in for us remains mysterious.

It was clear of course that Karahil had betrayed us, as we had all expected from the very beginning. The only question that remained was how to escape the bank now that all the Lanzhou authorities would be on our case. We alerted Andrew, left behind (sulking, of course) on the Brandon’s Revenge, to steer the ship close to the bank so we could evacuate the premises. The idiot came in all cannons blazing, destroying countless years worth of achitectural masterpiece. As we sailed off through the skies, blasting the bank to smithereens behind us, our hearts went out to that poor bank clerk who had helped us with such kindness and understanding in our quest. We sincerely hope that he was able to escape the bombardment and reunite with his young daughter.

O.L.B.

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Old Friends, New Crewmates and Long Goodbyes
The party return to Freeport to catch up with some familiar faces
  • Return to Freeport
  • Aramis gets drunk with Easton and Karahil
  • Tyrnn and Mara celebrate the lantern festival
  • Olo investigates the Wormwood bank, to discover a goblin named Morgath is pulling strings
  • Met with Mole Splintershill, who arranged a new crew and some smuggling work
  • Pialoosa tipped the party off about the noodle stall in Lanzhou.
  • Party is tipped off by Karahil that Silverfin and Chadwick are in Lanzhou, and that they’ll be off guard.
  • I believe you got Andrew rezzed somewhere.
  • Tyrnn dreams about the Stormflower, fading into dust on a cliff edge.
  • The party leaves Freeport in a hurry, Mara leaves the ship after saying farewell to the crew to forge her own path.
  • Sail to Lanzhou.
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