Grand Duchy 88

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 88
April 30 - May 14, 2016

What Now?

Nytdain 1 Klarmont


The rain of the previous day has passed, but not the uncomfortable feeling that Griffin, Remar and Ree experienced when they saw the dead and mutilated body of Firewild laying on a wet hillside just a half a mile from Ronkan village. The horse had died miles behind, falling down the side of a mountain. Quite a bit of speculation was going around as to how the lost mount had ended up in the valley. Undead reanimation and the manticore, Shifirax, are the top contenders.

The bigger question is, though, what is the Grey Company going to do about trying to help these poor, fearful Traldar people with their undead problem. Filling the ritual bowl with water from the Singing Pool and placing it on the altar in the Temple of Pflarr is the answer, but getting to that point seems to be the trouble. The bowl was not on the altar in the temple and the temple seems to be controlled by some powerful undead. A pair of Ghouls wielding unusual power seem to be directing the roving packs of skeletons, zombies and Ghouls that inhabit the temple.

Then there is the matter of the water, which resides in a pool more than a day’s ride to the south. The Traladar have been so kind as to offer the use of their lizard mounts for such a trek in the valley and the Grey Company spent most of a rainy day learning how to ride the strange beasts.

The final topic of conversation remains the trailing threat of the Yellow Wizard, Golthar, and his Iron Ring slavers. They had been spotted several times on the journey here, most recently a few days behind on the high trail leading into the valley. Just another dangerous threat that would have to be dealt with in time.

Griffin pulls the group aside for a chat away from the ears of the Traldars. “I don’t know about you guys, but it feels to me like there is more going on here than we have discovered so far. Ree said she was helped when they were attacked outside the temple, but she didn’t know by who. I searched around and found Hutakaan tracks. If they’re the bad guys, why help us?”

He hunkers down, finger moving over a crude map of the area they had explored in the hidden valley. “The Traldar say the magic pool is down this way - and the Hutakaans have to be around here somewhere. I’d like to go try and have a talk with them. Now if we go chat with their enemies, the Traldar may not like it, so I think we should all go. No sense leaving hostages behind. Since there seems to be a problem with undead, I think setting out at first light should be our plan. Any thoughts?”

Frowning at the mention of hostages, Remar looks to Griffin and the others.  “I’m definitely not staying here then.  I’ll go where you all go for sure, but what if there is something more going on here as you say Griffin.”  Remar draws his brow down a bit and closer together as he considers.  “For instance, what if there is more than one group of Hutakaan here:  One harrying the Traldar and us by extension and another that sees what it is we are trying to do?  I can’t imagine they like their dead walking any more than the Traldar.”  Remar pauses in thought then adds, “What if someone is actually controlling some of the Hutakaan and making them hostile?”  He shakes his head a bit.  “I’m all for deeper investigation, but not at the risk of walking into something more insidious.  I mean, peely-skin back there batted my spell back at us without a second thought when I last thought to tempt my luck and jump in with both feet.  Forgive my hesitance, but is there some way we could try to gather more intel before walking right up to them?”

Griffin nods, “Absolutely. More intel is good, of course, and I’m all for knowing what sort of hand my opponent is holding before I bet.”

He continues, “But right now we don’t know anything. We need to find the Hutaakans before we can learn more about them. It’s that hurdle we have to clear before we can really start making heads or tails of the mess in this valley.”

“So yea, I want to go check this out. We get out from under the watchful eye of the Traldar, then see who or what we can find outside where they’re patrolling.” He shrugs, “Which would seem to be further than a half-day’s ride out.”

“We also keep an eye out for this magic pool, and whatever critter was messing with my horse.”

“Better?” He eyes the mage, questioningly.

Remar slowly walks forward and angles his head so he can look at the map alongside Griffin.  He points.  “We think the bowl is way out here.  Do we head that way, look for tracks to find, and gather intel along the way out there?”  He points to the Traldar settlement they are in now and then starts spiraling his finger outward from it.  “Were you thinking of more of a detailed search of the entire area around the Traldar camp?”  Finally, he puts his finger back on the Traldar camp on the map and traces routes that path northeast and the others that maps south, and southwest out to a few days away.  “Or do you want to plan along one of these other routes sort of randomly?  “Whatever we do, I suggest we plan a route that allows us to set up and fortify camp by nightfall in case we don’t find anything.”  He looks toward Marcel and Draven.  “What do you all think?”

After spending a good amount of time in deep thought, Draven finally stirs himself. “I’m at a crossroads myself, my friends. What could be more auspicious than to set out on a quest to aid these poor souls, the long lost ancestors of the Traldaran people who are our countrymen,” and with a nod to Marcel, “and our friends, on this the high holy day dedicated to Halav, protector of the Traldaran people? And yet, there is a mystery afoot - perhaps these Hutakan people aren’t the precursors to our troublesome gnolls after all, and have their own side to this well-worn coin?”

“Either way,” he finishes, “we’ll be helping both Traldar and Hutaakan if we can cull the undead problem, and perhaps with such a victory under our belts, be in a position to bring both sides to a peaceful table together, for at least long enough to find out what’s really going on. We need the water from the spring, and we’re pretty sure we know where to get it. So why don’t we start there? Who knows what we’ll learn along the way?”

Remar nods.  The mage then looks around for Marcel and Iris.  Oh, gee, I thought they were here the whole time.  Digging into that tome really has me a bit scatter brained.

Hahaha...no comment needed!

Remar scowls and folds his arms.  Seeing Draven look at him questioningly, as if wondering if something he said put Remar off, he readjusts his posture and beams back at him as if nothing is amiss.

As the members of the Grey Company converse, Marcel excuses himself. “I'm not feeling too well,” he explains, “I think it's the local cooking or something. I'm going to sit this one out. You all go on, go get that water. I'll be here when you get back.” The stubborn Traldaran heads back to the building that had been given to the Grey Company for their temporary residence.

As everyone’s attention is now thankfully distracted on Marcel, Remar takes a deep breath to clear his head.  What is it with this voice in my head and this horse I’ll see occasionally?

Surprised that didn’t get any sort of response, he then clears his throat.  “OK.  I like the option to go look for the water.  Those Hutakan know this area and seem to be aware of our movements anyway.  Maybe if they are really friendly they’ll approach us peacefully along the way.  Nonetheless, I still think we should try and avoid being out in the wilderness as much as possible at night, due to undead and...well...the possibility of unfriendly Hutakan.”  He looks at Griffin, “What’s the best route out there that lets us stop somewhere relatively sheltered by night if available?  Whatever route that is, I vote we take that one.”

Griffin shrugs, and raises his hands. “That’s the problem. This is a new area, and we don’t know the terrain all that well. I think if we head out, we look for a base when we pass the halfway point, around noon. Maybe we don’t get as far, but we are aware of a bolt hole if it gets dark.”

“As for the Hutaakans, they could very well be hostile. We did lay into them pretty hard with the Traldar before. If there were any survivors we missed, they could have already reported us as ‘not friendlies.’ Iris, any hopes that you could talk to them if we do run across them?”

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Remar Umerusan Alphatian battle mage that escaped forced service in the Thyatian army currently marshalled by +Patrick Kelly 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure, now guided by +Stephanie Kelly 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM


Grand Duchy 87

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 87
April 27, 2016

Live to Fight Another Day

The Ghouls

Tderdain 27 Yarthmont

Blasted Ghouls

The Grey Company continues it's fight against the ghouls who have now made their way to the end of the hallway. With the bulk of the undead within range, Draven unleashes the might of his Patrons in an explosion of blue and white fire! The blast rips through the undead, sending some to the ground and others fleeing. Griffin, Remar and Ree use their many tools and talents to fend off the others. 

Get those doors closed!
Realizing quickly that the odds are not in their favor, a retreat is called and shouts to close the door go out! While Remar, Iris and Draven hold off the attacking ghouls, Griffin shoves the door closed. Remar drops the bar in place then Draven hammers the braces down with his mace, hoping to prevent the door from being opened easily. Iris completes the process by using her magic to lock the door. A few remaining ghouls are dealt with that remained on their side of the door and quickly the Company moved to escape. 

Friends in Need

Ree then arrives on the scene and announces that the rest of the Company had been attacked by a horde of undead pouring out of the front doors of the temple while waiting outside. She explains that Marcel had been caught in a compromising position behind a rock and was seriously injured and knocked unconscious. "Stephen took Marcel and the horses back to Ronkan. I got inside here to warn you. As the others were riding off, some arrows came from the nearby brush and took out some of the undead. I didn't see who it was and at the time I didn't care! We gotta get out of here!"

Eventually, everyone made it back to Ronkan safely, Marcel was healed and the rest of the evening was spent in contemplation on how to do better in their next foray into the Temple. Griffin starts developing a plan to convince the Traldar to allow the use of some of their riding lizards as well. 

Moldain 28 Yarthmont

Have Lizard Will Ride

A Traldar riding lizard
The next day is cool and rainy with clouds covering most of the sky. Between showers, Griffin, Remar and Ree spend the day learning how to handle the riding lizards with the help from some of the Traldar people. After a few hours, they have learned all the tricks and differences from horse handling and they become quite comfortable with the beasts.

The three lizard riding members of the Grey Company spend some time ranging around, looking for clues and anything out of the ordinary, hoping to find something that will help, but after many hours, they find nothing. Eventually, they are called out by a group of Traldar who have stumbled across something strange and disturbing. When the three companions head out to see it, they find the body of Griffin's old horse Firewild, laying dead and broken among the rocks and brush. A pang of guilt hits Griffin at the sight of his lost mount and companion. Immediatley, everyone starts speculating how the horse even got here, since it had perished by falling off the mountain trail many miles from the mouth of the valley quite some time ago. The rains begin to pick up and everyone heads back to the safety of the village, still pondering the mystery of the dead horse.

Firewild shouldn't even be here...

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Remar Umerusan Alphatian battle mage that escaped forced service in the Thyatian army currently marshalled by +Patrick Kelly 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure, now guided by +Stephanie Kelly 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM

Grand Duchy 86

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 86
April 13, 2016

Three Shadowy Figures and a Pack of Ghouls

Tserdain 27 Yarthmont

As Draven attempts to use his divine magic to dispel the magic holding the large door bar in place, Griffin and Remar see something small fly up from the top of Draven's head and disappear in the shadows near the ceiling of the temple. Draven stands there, completely still staring ahead, ignoring all questions to his current state of well being.

A disembodied eyeball
Griffin quickly grabs his friend under the arms and starts to drag him back, telling Remar to keep an eye out for whatever it was they had seen flying around the place. Scanning the upper reaches of the room, Remar spots the object, which he thinks looks like a 2-inch eyeball, now flying quickly directly at him. Thinking quickly, Remar summons up a defensive spell that allows him to not only avoid being struck by the flying eyeball, but to roll and catch the tiny orb in his hands. Before he can examine it closer though, it disappears with a tiny popping sound. 

The shadowy speaking figure
Thinking it was some sort of Wizard Eye, Remar begins to explain this to Griffin and Iris but is interrupted by a booming, disembodied cackle echoing through the large temple chamber. The laughing voice then taunts and threatens the group, telling them their doom lies behind the double doors they had been trying to open. As the group starts to leave, dragging the unresponsive Draven with them, the voice changes its mind and invites them in. The locking bar on the door magically rises and the doors swing open, revealing a long dark hallway that ends in a larger chamber some distance away. Three shadowy figures can be seen standing in the center of this distant chamber. Griffin tries tricking the voice, no doubt coming from one of the three figures but that does not seem to work. Remar flings his glowing dagger down the dark hallway, trying to get a better idea of the lay of the land. The light of his thrown dagger, only about halfway down the hallway, reveals a pack of Ghouls making their way through the darkened hallway toward the Company. 

Remar's glowing knife reveals a pack of ghouls on the prowl.

The Death Knight
The Company prepares for battle and Draven snaps out of his paralysis, ready to battle the undead abominations. Remar crouches behind the doors and starts casting a spell while the voice from the far end of the hallway continues to taunt the Company. Remar taunts back and learns the name of the speaker, Orule. The voice quickly tires of Remar's witty remarks and declares that the companions will now die. As the pack of ghouls advances, Remar summons an explosive fireball and holds it ready. Behind the ghouls, two of the three figures from the far chamber are also advancing, at a faster pace than the ghouls and will soon catch up to them. One is fully armored and wears a huge horned skull helmet while the other looks like a person with all their skin flayed off. The Death Knight charges forward in a straight line while the Flayed One cartwheels, flips and rolls back and forth across the hallway, stopping briefly to snatch up Remar's glowing blade in the process. 

Griffin takes a shot at the advancing Flayed One but it twists and flips, dodging easily. Remar continues to watch the approaching ghouls, waiting for the right moment to release his flaming orb. Draven and Iris stand ready to back the others up once the pack reaches them, Draven going over a mighty spell to blast the undead before it can rip his friends apart. As the ghouls get closer, forced together in a tighter group while passing between a set of wall pillars, Remar flings his explosive fireball at the floor just below their rotting, undead feet. All watch the flaming bolt speed down the hallway but just before it its the 
The Flayed One
ground, the bolt turns around and flies right back at at him, heading right at his chest! The exhausted mage does what he can to avoid being struck by the bolt and drops frantically to the floor at the very last second. The bolt sizzles past him and heads directly for Iris instead! She too frantically dives out of the way, barely avoiding the magical missile. The bolt flies past and hits the floor behind her, exploding. The fiery blast expands and engulfs everyone in its magical fire!

The explosive fireball idea backfires.

Fortunatley, everyone is far enough from the blast that it is not too painful though the laughing voice of Orule finds it amusing. The ghouls and their two scary companions continue to advance while the Company braces for the onslaught. The Flayed One holds Remar's glowing knife aloft and croaks in a strange, froggy, bubbly voice, "I've got your knife! I would like to return it to you!"

The Flayed One tries to be a good friend by returning Remar's glowing knife.

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Remar Umerusan Alphatian battle mage that escaped forced service in the Thyatian army currently marshalled by +Patrick Kelly 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure, now guided by +Stephanie Kelly 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM


Sundered Lands 12.1

The Sundered Lands of Palladium

Session 12.1
May 1-15, 2016

Tracking Down Some Leads

Friday October 27

Revisiting the Harbormaster's

After the knife was identified, Moonscar and Seeker head out to revisit the manor of the Harbormaster. The Coyle’s enchanted bone blade is stowed carefully in Seeker’s satchel.

Seeker stretches as the two exit the Vanderboren Manor. “Ready for a run, brother? I need to burn off some of that lunch and wine.” The Kankoran grins and dashes off, leaving his larger cousin to catch up. The spry druid takes a straight line, vaulting over wagons and fences, while Seeker tends to go along the center of the streets.

Fortunately for Seeker, their path lies across … thinks for a minute … six bridges, so Moonscar’s alternate routes have to synch up with his many times. In five minutes the two of them come to a stop, breathing lightly, in front of the Harbormaster’s gate.

Seeker looks around for Bellic, the guard the team had talked to before.


Clearly in a better mood, his lunatic companion stretches lazily as he comments, “Yeah, you were right brother, I definitely needed that! Okay, so we’re checking on the guard here?” he asked, pulling his gloves out of his belt.

It takes some time to locate the land-entrance to the large, warehouse-like structure, but eventually the two Canines find it. It is a double door, not manned by any visible guards, right off of Worm Street, where it intersects with Bait Street.

Seeker goes up to the door and knocks loudly on it. “Hello? Anyone home?”

After a few moments, a young Human female opens the door. She wears the garb of a cook or kitchen worker. “What the hells,” she yells as she opens the door. “Bout time ye showed up, been waitin on them turnips all morning!” She waves her hands over her head, not really looking at who was knocking at the door. She stops short when she comes face to abdomen with Seeker. “Uh, wha, um. Ahhh!” She scoots back, trips over the threshold and falls on her bottom. She stares up at Seeker, shock and awe written all over her face.

Seeker hunkers down and offers her a hand up. “Sorry to startle you, miss. My name is Seeker. I was looking for a guard named Bellic. Is he around?” Seeker tries to peer through the door as he waits for her to take his paw.

The girl opens her mouth to scream, but nothing comes out. She immediately begins backpedaling into the building. In a moment, she disappears around a corner. Seeker and Moonscar stand there staring at the wide open door to Islaran Manor.

Seeker turns to Moonscar. “What? What did I say?” He shrugs. “Shall we?” He gives a short bow to his comrade and they proceed through the doors.

“Hello? Hello? I’m looking for a guardsman. Are any of you folk around?” Seeker calls out carefully. He remembers the elderly man upstairs, and does not wish to disturb him.

Hopefully there are some folk perhaps a bit more worldly about. I don’t mean any harm.

Some sounds of movement and agitated voices can be heard up ahead. Somewhere near a door is slammed and a young man wearing guardsman gear comes rushing around the corner. He skids to a halt and fumbles for his blade. “Crap! You there, W-w-wolfen. Surrender your arms! I place you under arrest!” His gaze finds its way around the immense form of Seeker and lands on Moonscar. “Shit, two Wolfen,” he mutters under his breath. He keeps backing up, finally freeing his shortsword from its scabbard. Pointing the blade at Seeker he shouts, trying to make his words sound brave as he trips and stumbles over things and crashes back into the wall behind him. “Halt, I say!” Then louder, “Help, I'm being overrun by Wolfen in the scullery! Call the Watch! Wolfen in the house!”

Seeker raises his paws in a placating way. “Whoa, man, calm down, calm down. Hey, nice uniform. I get you’re trying to do your job, but come on. Soldier to soldier, I’m not here to cause any problems. We were here earlier and I was afraid we might have been a little rough on one of your fellow guards. I was just checking in to see how he was doing.”

Seeing the guard calm down the druid holds out his card telling him, “Yes, it’s okay. We’re from the Library and we're here to help. My brother Sequestrius has that effect on just about everyone when they first meet him but I'm sure you understand, that's pretty much a job requirement for Archive Security and he's by far the most efficient agent I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”

“What, who? Library? What are you talking about? Why are you inside the Harbormaster’s Manor unescorted?” he calms a bit, but still points his shortsword in the direction of the intruders.

Seeker looks back at the open door behind him. “Um, we stepped in out of the sun? It’s warm out and I wanted to come over to the dark side, you know? Be cool? Anyways, I just want a few words with Bellic, if he’s around.” Seeker does not seem concerned about the weapon, but keeps an eye on it anyways.

A look of momentary confusion comes over the guard’s face, “Bellic? You were here earlier? Yea, I remember hearing something about a group with a few Wolfen visiting Master Islaran.” He seems to relax just a bit, lowering his sword a few inches.

“But you can't be in here like this! Can't just barge in!” The young guard seems to be getting his nerve back a bit. He waves the sword around in front of him. “Back out to the street, Wolfen.”

“Okay, okay, we didn’t wander around or anything. While we go outside, you tell me where and how I can talk to Bellic. Shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Is he still on duty?” Seeker backs towards the door, keeping his eyes on the young guard and his sword.

Seeker and Moonscar head back outside. The young guard watches them go, tells them to hold on a moment and closes the door. The obvious sounds of a bar being put into place can be heard on the other side of the door. A few minutes later, the door opens and Bellic looks out into the brightness of the afternoon. “Aye, you’re back again soon? What do you need now? And by the way, the staff isn’t used to visitors coming to the manor by these doors. We get most visitors by water, but oh well. What do ya need?”

“Actually, I thought we might have been a little hard on you this morning. Just wanted to make sure you were okay. You didn’t get in any trouble, did you? Getting to talk to Master Islaran and Stuart really did help us out a lot.” Seeker looks genuinely concerned.

He shakes his head, “Oh, no, you were fine. No biggie. The Steward was a little miffed at me, but i’m not too worried about it. You all seem to be good folk, though, please, don’t scare the help and barge in like that again. They may call the Azure Watch and I’m not sure that it would end up quite like this. You are Wolfen, after all, and that doesn’t go over well with most folk around here. I really need to get back to my post, though, so if there isn’t anything else…”

“Thanks, Bellic, I just wanted to make sure. See you around!” Seeker turns to Moonscar. “Now, off to the Plucked Parrot? From here, we can get in a nice long run, or we can just take a boat.” He pauses for a second. “Aw, heck, let’s take a boat.”

Seeker and Moonscar make their way down to the nearest shore and hail a water taxi. “Shadowshore, my good woman!”

Tongue Wagging

After a short time, the water taxi deposits the two canines on one of the piers of the Shadowshore. The gondola pilot nods as she takes her payment and looks around for another fare.

The Kankoran steps ashore and looks about for his four-legged companion, hoping to find her nearby.

Moonscar spots Sings To Moon’s head dip out of a shadow underneath a short dock just over on the other side of the Plucked Parrot. She shakes her head in recognition and lets out a keening growl to let Moonscar know she is well. As the Druid looks at his friend, he suddenly feels a rush of emotion and feeling. He is keenly aware of Sing’s safety and well being and knows that she can feel his as well.

“Thank you!” calls out the tall Wolfen. He looks up the dock and with a nod to his companion, makes his way to the Plucked Parrot. The interior gloom is as he remembered it. He orders an ale at the bar (seemed safe the last time he was here), and makes his way to the same table he and Moonscar sat at before. He very deliberately sets the Coyle’s staff against the wall, then settles in with Moonscar to while away the rest of the afternoon.

He leans back and looks at his comrade. “I’m glad Fortis’ mind spell didn’t seem to have a lasting effect on that guard Bellic. Honestly, I don’t understand how the Library picked him. Aren’t we supposed to be the good guys? His tactics seem more like the Enemy at times. No honor, just convenience. No respect for the people we’re trying to serve.” He takes a long pull from his ale. “Am I wrong here? Am I missing something?”

The druid contemplates his own drink for a minute before replying, “Well, those are two very different questions. As a matter of opinion, I don’t think you’re wrong here. I might play it a little more freely than your call, but then the difference there is that I can play in that ball game, at least somewhat. Sis even more so. If you’re missing something it’s only forgetting the tendency of nearly everyone to think more lightly of using their particular skills, including the more forceful ones than those who lack the same skills. Fortis’ people I think tend to look at the physical force of larger folk in a somewhat similar manner as you are seeing his manipulations. The thing there is that they all do that, much as commonly as nearly everyone you grew up around wields your arms. As well with like skill and very much the same reason in terms of need. I’m afraid though that Ellyl and many like Fae tend to ply their magics on larger folk much like, and with no more need than Coyle ply their weapons on smaller. . . Of the two sizes, the Dagangi and Fae get along with each other best simply because the Dagangi are rather resistant to the spells and too courteous to swat the casters like flies simply for casting them.

I think Fortis misses the same point and further, even if he has ever been someone else’s meat-puppet for a while, it’ll be hard to get him to really grasp your perspective. I don’t know, but I doubt he’s aware of much of your history with mind-fuckery. At the Demonclaw none of us were sure a lot of the time who was in their right mind and who was half in Fhelzor’s.” He takes a sip of ale before recalling sheepishly, “I remember at one point when he didn’t get into your head he got into mine and got me to scramble yours and Gnarls’! Fortunately he was only trying to get us to leave - it could have gotten really nasty. That was about the time I started fortifying my willpower before going in, and maintaining the trance until exit. The Whispering Cairn was even worse and the precaution saved our tails a few times; sleeps spells near murderous statues, psychic psychotic floating eyeballs, shit, the elementals were the easy part I think. . . We use the unseen weapons at times but we’ve been on the receiving end even more I believe.”

Seeker frowns, looking thoughtful. “I think we might be getting sidetracked with the mind games. I was more bothered by the fact that he cast a spell on some guy just doing his job. My training and gifts give me a darn good chance of dropping most folk handily. I could have done that with Belic. Would that have been right? I guess it’s not the tools per se that bother me, it’s how and for what reasons we use them. Use them on the Enemy, on people trying to hurt or kill you, sure. Use them on innocents just trying to make it through the day? How is that any different than the tactics or mindset of the Enemy?

His companion considers the questions for a few moments before replying thoughtfully, “Well, as an issue of fundamental ethics I suspect many with those capabilities make a great distinction between their use and the use of lethal force. The idea that “It’s not hurting anybody,” is easy to adopt in contrast and that leads to applying a different standard. You’re essentially using the same standard for both because you see that it in fact can hurt the victim in some fashion, enough to go and check as to whether or not it did. For my part, I have some difficulty equating the potential loss of a job to bodily harm but that’s simply because I have a hard time grasping the idea of “job”. Even so, I get the similarity at least in the sense of the fact that it can mean not being able to feed self and family much as injury can prevent someone from doing so by hunting.”

“I guess when we start getting into questions of degree, for me we’ve gone off the scent of “Right” and “Wrong.” If I would have threatened to harm Bellic, bared my teeth and made it clear that I would hurt him if he did not let us pass, would that not make me a bully? He would not have been physically harmed, but I would have achieved a goal by means that I for one find dishonorable and unethical.”

The Wolfen’s broad shoulders shrug, his armor creaking in an unconscious reminder of his strength. “I get that I’m big and strong and can hurt people almost casually. It’s up to me to draw the line and say ‘I won’t do that, because it’s wrong.’ Even if it would be convenient.”

He sighs, “It really bothers me when Fortis justifies treating innocents callously because of The Mission. I frequently feel that his antics jeopardize the work we’re trying to do. Should I stuff him in a sack and claim the same reasoning for my actions?”

He stares over his glass into the distance, “Aren’t we doing this to make the world a better, safer place for everyone? Or are we merely trying to keep it intact so we can be the ones pushing people around instead of the Enemy pushing them around. I believe we are tasked with Doing What’s Right.” (and Moonscar can hear the capitals in that phrase) “If I didn’t, I’d be home helping the Empire deal with it’s problems.”

He puts down his glass and looks intently at his Kankoran comrade. “Am I wrong to hope that you all were chosen for the same reasons?”

Moonscar nods throughout and answers, “Right. If Fortis had instead said to Bellic, ‘Well you know, I could simply wave my hands and make you do what we want and be glad to help whether you’re willing to right now or not,’ he’d have been as much a bully as your threat would make you. He just went ahead and did it without even the preamble, begging the question of what the difference is between that and you simply drawing knocking him out and going in anyway. While there are a lot of obvious answers at least regarding the consequences to us between the two methods, which I think is what Fortis is focused on, you’re trying to get him to see the consequences to his victims - something I’m afraid the Fae folk in general are rather notorious for completely disregarding. I don’t know if the reputation is really fair to them but Fortis’ actions, or more precisely his ethical perspective regarding them, certainly isn’t helping to persuade anyone that it isn’t. . .

If we look for the ethical line where need fades to mere convenience I think we’re better served comparing this incident to Valinya’s song in that bar in Nesme with the Orc miner. If that was okay then I think it narrows the gray area considerably. I have to admit that in retrospect it’s at least a little uncomfortable given that it was a pretty similar magic and effect which might have cost him his job just as easily. I don’t think any of us really considered it at the time. I’m curious about her take on the matter as a whole in that light.

As for being chosen and why, I’m not really being a smart ass by saying, ‘Ask Wolvenar’. I can’t disregard my nightmares as unrelated even if neither of our initial guidance to this trail arises from any outside agency. Of course I don’t think you meant it quite so literally but the nature of the Web does at least demonstrate a very definite, if impersonal, causality far beyond our own choices and motives that have determined our places within it. It’s fair to say that a Druid’s moral compass is aligned a little differently than most others’ but it ultimately still points in pretty much the same direction. We simply navigate by other routes and landmarks at times. Whatever maps we’re each using though I’d have to say ‘Yes, we’re all here for essentially the same reasons.’ I think that you more than most hold to the conscious awareness of the fact that ‘doing what’s right’ is really about how you walk the trail, not it’s destination. Given the fact that if we succeed in keeping the Web from being torn asunder then that end is merely another waypoint on a trail that really has no end, I would further agree that it’s at the very least the most useful perspective by far.”

Seeker frowns. “You mean that guy Kullen in Nesme? Yea, I remember that time. Looking back on it, I’d really have prefered she not do that then either. He wasn’t trying to hurt us, or working for the Enemy. Yea, he was a jerk, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. Otherwise I could have justified punching lots of folks along the way.”

He straightens, “So, I guess I have issues with messing with innocents. Who I see are anyone not working for the Enemy, and not trying to hurt me or my team. When you say ‘Ask Wolvenar,’ that gives me pause. From what I’ve learned talking with other followers, he’s a young god, and maybe he’s still trying to figure out who he and the Wolfen should be. We think that it’s our job to show him as best we can. I kinda keep that in the back of my head when I’m trying to make these calls. Would I want him to view my people the way Fortis views people - as obstacles or resources, to be manipulated or used and forgotten? Hell no.”

He drinks again, “So, I can’t really change what Fortis is. I get that. But I don’t have to quietly tolerate it either. I’ve already let him know that when he steps over the line, I’ll be there to point out his mistake. I don’t know how I can be true to myself otherwise.”

“But I’m willing to listen, if you’ve got a different take on the matter.”

His friend sits back, tracing memory, “Yeah, Kullen. Funny, when all was said and done the whole thing turned into a bar brawl anyway. . . I have to admit though, watching them flirt it was pretty hard not to laugh.” Suddenly he gets a pained expression on his face and says, “Shit. That’s just what the Fae say about it,” and lets out a long sigh.

“I don’t really know much about any of the Great Smokes. As you know druids see them as simply present in the Web like everything else, even if they do strum a lot more strands than others. I try to at least look past the Dagangi perspective on them that colored Star Walker’s tutelage. That perspective is significant though in light of Dagangi history, insofar as I understand it that’s exactly how the “Gods of Light and Dark” treated the scant surviving pawful of them when their war was over. My mentor though took their hatred much further than any of his people whom I’ve ever met. I can only surmise that there was something very personal at the root of it though he never said anything about it. Still, his tattoos showed that he was once married and he came from a tribe that kept very much to themselves and hates Coursers almost as much as the Eh Dekho so his wife must have died before he left the Shattered Mountains to learn from a Wolfen mentor. I suspect he held some form of “divine intervention” to blame.

Anyway, if we have been chosen for this by some greater entity I’m in no position to really make much of a guess as to why, or rather, why us. We’re certainly a strange mix of people. Hmm, do you think we ought to recruit one of the Night Blind or would that be just a token gesture? I certainly wish Sister Night Seer were with us. I don’t know.

I wouldn’t really want to persuade you to change your views on all of this - it is quite enough to just understand somewhat how others see it. The same goes for Fortis. You do well in respecting that so far as your conscience may allow. I honestly do believe that our disagreements actually serve to strengthen us as a whole. Ultimately they keep the band on trail, else we each might easily get sidetracked through our personal opinions and preferences. In that then we need you to hold to and express your view even if only for the balance between it and opposing viewpoints. After all, there are some Sings which if I were ever to seriously consider voicing I would much rather consult with you beforehand than Fortis.

If any of the Church of Light and Dark were to dance the same Paths as I there are a few which would only be learned by one side of the house or the other. I think the same holds true for most other churches as well. However, even though some are almost universally considered acts of cruelty and evil in the metaphysics of other philosophies religions it’s significant note that we include them in our own paths anyway along with the steps to dance some less controversial Sings in a number of very baneful forms. Although it would likely take some time, on the Path of Dreams alone I could rather easily drive someone mad or trap their smokes in the Net of Dreams, leaving their bodies behind to starve to death. Sings which are intended to harm others are much nastier and more terrifying in effect than that. But good and evil are essentially abstract concepts which are not to be found manifest in or by the Web itself. The actual Web is neither good nor evil but rather, is simply what it is regardless of anyone’s opinions of it. As such then it behooves us to be and do likewise.

I Come From The Water

After almost two hours, during which Seeker and Moonscar have made several visits to the bar, Seeker makes a point of returning with a spare glass of ale. The shadows are lengthening, and soon it would be time to return to the Vanderboren Manor to check in and prepare for the patrol through the Azure District. A long shot for sure, but the risk was low and Arn was certainly more than capable of handling any surprises. Having Silver, Valinya, and Fortis all flying overhead in the dark would not hurt either. So if he and Moonscar could place themselves somewhere central, they would probably still be a factor in any outcome.

Just then, the door to the tavern opens, letting in a cool breeze off the water. A Coyle, looking odd with blue fur, enters. He is making his way to a group in the corner when he stops, his attention seized by the staff leaning against the wall. After a long moment, he looks at Seeker and Moonscar relaxing at the table nearby. His gaze flicks from the two Canines to the group in the corner, then back. His hackles rise, and Seeker can see a flash from a bared fang.

Seeker smiles at the Coyle, who turns and makes his way to the far table. A Dwarf, two Humans and another Coyle have been drinking there for about an hour. Oh, come on, we just want to talk!

After a few quiet words and significant glances, the blue-furred Canine turns and makes his way over towards Seeker’s table. As he approaches, Seeker can smell burnt hair and sees several scorch marks on his armor, likely from Fortis’ sunbolts. The Coyle makes his way straight to the staff and reaches out a paw to take it. Seeker reaches out and grabs it as well. His shoulders bunch, making it obvious that the staff will not move before he wills it.

Their gazes lock. Seeker nods to an empty seat, in front of which he had placed the extra drink. “Have a seat. We just want to talk. Then you and what’s yours can go in peace.” The warlock hesitates. Seeker repeats, “Have. A. Seat.” The Coyle looks at the situation, then sneers and takes the offered seat. “What do you want, Wolfen?”

Seeker smiles, though there is an edge to his grin. He releases his grip on the staff and leans back into his chair. “First, I go by Seeker. My friend here is Mister White. Who are you?”

The Coyle grumbled, then spits out “I am Agrrath Bluehide, of the Crashing Wave. I repeat, what do you want?”

Seeker pushes on. Now that they actually were face to face, he realizes that there were lots of ways this could go south. “Well, Agrrath, it’s like this. I,” and pauses when Moonscar clears his throat, “er, we, yes, we figure you’re hired muscle, payed by that Sollen Vark fellow to provide some security for his little pet store on the Nixie. As such, most of us are fine with a ‘you go your way, we’ll go ours’ sort of arrangement.” He pauses, “Although one of our mages took it very personally that you actually tried to hurt him. Wanted to use this staff to track you down and finish the job.” He continues, “Anyway, we determined that Vark was in charge, but when you met with him there was another person present. In light of recent events, I was hoping you could identify the mystery man, and perhaps point us to where we might find he and Vark. Whadda ya say?”

The Coyle hisses through his barred teeth, squinting his eyes at Seeker and Moonscar, clearly not happy with the situation. “Look, I was hired for this job, I don't have a stake in it but I'm not one for draining the bilge. We were told that some of the Dock Hammers were looking to take the ship and her cargo. If that happened we wouldn't get paid. I don't know what other business was going on with the ship. I think Vark was running some scam though. He was working as an agent for the Harbormaster and taking money from shipowners and merchants too. Think he had a deal with the ship’s owner too. Arrogant Human. Didn't like the smell of him. His name was Vader or Villie or something.”

Vanthus? Seeker and Moonscar exchange significant glances as the warlock continues his tale.

“Think he was brokering the deal with all the creatures on board. Not sure.” He clenches his teeth, upset for telling so much, grabs the ale and downs it in one long gulp. “Tell your mage nothing personal, but it did seem like you all were trying to kill us as well. Just defending ourselves.”

Seeker checkles. “I know, right? He’s probably the most bloodthirsty of any of us, but gets offended when someone actually tries to fight back.” He shrugs, as if to say, ‘What can you do?’

His burnt and matted fur ripples again. “I don't know much else about what was happening on that ship and I have no idea where to find Vark, but that coward jumped ship right after you all started your attack. If you find him, tell him I'd like a word with his sorry ass. He can't hide behind the Sea Harpies forever. They'll toss him out soon enough. And thanks for the staff. You didn't happen to retrieve a carved bone knife as well, did you? Tribal relic, been in my line for many generations.” He looks at Seeker and Moonscar with wide, pleading eyes.

Moonscar nods sympathetically as the Coyle asks about the knife and replies, “I understand your concern; I’d feel the same about a Stonerunner relic. I’m pretty sure I saw it when we were looking for the proper owner’s proof of ownership and payment of fees, the things we had gone there to find. The Harbor Watch boarded the Blue Nixie well before we were done searching and while we got what we came for I’m not entirely certain of the disposition of a lot of what we turned up in the process. Even so, I think there’s a very good chance we can return it to you. Once we rejoin our band this evening I’ll check on what we brought away to be sure. I suspect anything of value that we had to leave behind, unless it very clearly belonged to the ship’s owner, is now in the hands of the Harbor Watch so I can’t say for certain at the moment. Want to meet again tomorrow so we can let you know? I’m sure my brother and I don’t want to see it in Furless hands any more than you do.”

The blue Coyle looks distressed at this. “I do not plan to remain upon the stone of Essanos much longer. I have been away from the sea for too long. I will board a vessel before dawn and rejoin the crashing waves where I belong. You have bested me. The knife is yours.” He stands and bows, taking his carved staff in his hands. “If the currents of the mighty sea bring us back together again, I will best you and take it back.” He nods at Moonscar and Seeker, no malice showing on his face or in his tone, just matter of fact statement.

Seeker startles, bringing his attention back from the table in the corner, where a shirtless Dwarf had been glaring at the Canine trio. “Wait, what? Oh, the knife? Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hang on.” He rummages in a sack on his hip that seems to be deeper than it has any right to be, and retrieves a bone knife. “Is this it?”

The Coyle’s eyes light up and his lips curl up in a bit of a smile. “Yes, that is it. Thank you Sequestrius, thank you very much.” He reaches out for the knife and then thrusts it into his belt sash. The Coyle then turns and leaves quickly.

Seeker watches the Coyle leave, then looks at Moonscar. “We should probably get going to make our meeting on time. Do you want to have Sings join us? If so, we can’t take her on a boat easily. We’ll need to run.” He grins, “Not that I’d mind. Gotta exercise off the ale, right?”

The Kankoran replies with a couple of belches and a nod, “Yup. Let’s course.” As he heads toward the door he experiments a bit with his newly discovered connection with his friend and tries to “send” his intention to depart to her and his desire for her companionship as he returns to “camp”.

Moonscar does not feel Sings to Moon responding to his mental call, but he does see the wolf peeking out from behind a nearby building. As the two companions begin their coursing, the wolf lopes out of the shadows and follows. A light rain has started to fall. Nothing to cause much inconvenience, but just enough to clear the streets for the long run back around to the Vanderboren Estate.

Seeker estimates that it will be just under a mile to run back to the Manor as they start out on the muddy dirt tracks of the Shadowshore. The road begins to slope upward toward the higher districts. Running along Harbor Street, there is very little between the road and the water. The three runners pass the broken tangle of an old shipwreck just as they come even with a small, wooded island in the harbor. Seeker assumes that is Parrot Island. The sound of many birds can be heard squawking and chattering from the island. Harbor Street continues to rise, a steep drop off to the left, down to the water and nearby Parrot Island. Moonscar takes note of what looks like a ruined temple of some sort down on the cliffside between the road and the water. He points it out to Seeker, who nods in acknowledgement.

After a few minutes, they arrive at a high stone wall with a stout iron gate blocking the wide archway into the Cudgel District. A handful of armed guards stand around. They bear the colors of Essanos while their shields bear the symbol of the Church of Light and Dark. Another prominent symbol is placed on each of their chests. A Lion over a downturned rose, no doubt the symbol of the leading family of the Cudgel District.

The guards quickly snap to attention, holding their shields up and angling their spears forward. One of them turns toward the heavy gate and whistles sharply in that direction. He then turns back toward Seeker and Moonscar and shouts “Halt Wolfen! Turn and go back to the Shadowshore. You are not welcome in the Cudgel District.”

Seeker frowns. “Oh, okay, sorry. We didn’t realize folks were so racist around here.” He turns to Moonscar. “We’ll have to take a boat. How do you want to handle your friend?”

Moonscar shrugs, “Well she rode the ferry to Shadowshore the other day - let’s just hop to the nearest acceptable landing and continue the lope.”

The guards sneer and quietly watch as the three canine friends head back down the sloping road into Shadowshore. After trying several boats, the trio finally find a pilot willing to take the large wolf as a passenger. “Essanos sees a brisk animal trade,” he explains, “but not usually as passengers.” He laughs and smiles then looks away for fear of offending the other two formidable looking passengers. He drops them off safely at a dock near the Vanderboren Manor as the sun begins its quick descent toward the western horizon. Seeker pays the boatman and the three companions make their way back to the Manor. They arrive just as Fortis’s servant, Gaston does and follow him in to find that the other Guardians had also just returned.

Session Notes

Just a little side track in the middle of Session #12 when two characters decided to run off on their own and do some things independent of the rest of the party. Running my game with a 2 week play by post segment between each live session really allows for fun stuff like that without bogging down the other players. It lets some that might be more willing to invest more time in the story really take off and shine while still allowing the other players to participate without missing stuff. It does present difficulties sometimes keeping the timeline all straightened out, but it is worth the effort in my opinion!

Cast of Characters: 

+Arne Jamtgaard plays Seeker, a teenage Wolfen Warlord
+Amergin O'Kai plays Moonscar, the esoteric Kankoran Druid
and +Jason GURPS as the GM