To be edited…
To be edited…
Quintas pulled off the cover of the last square and found a black, viciously fanged squirrel. He put it in a sack and threw it over his shoulder, getting ready to leave when he was surprised by a man in studded armor.
Quintas arrived at the Duke’s abode and was received and offered a very special Otherberry wine by the Duke and his companion, the very a tall, dark, stoop shouldered Dr. Zambe.
Slocum and Cassius finished drinks and food together in an amicable fashion and flirted with the serving wench “Lady” Gretchen. Zenith entered the tavern and was met and received by Slocum who agreed to travel with the young lad to see the duke. Cassius snuck off to Gretchen’s apartment for some debauchery. Slocum and Zenith arrived at the appointed time to see the Duke, singing bawdy sea chanties all the while. They were received graciously, Slocum realizing that the Duke and Zenith were already well acquainted. Slocum and Zenith met with Dr. Zambe as well, and each received a glass of Otherberry wine and a snack while they waited for Cassius to arrive.
Cassius agreed, after ducking a few projectiles, to take his new friend with him to see the Duke. After over two hours of waiting for her to get dressed, they finally left. Ducking in and out of taverns and lodgings, they were able to survive the unnatural freezing cold that arrived with sun down to arrive at the Duke’s lodging.
Quintas used his talents to divine information about his fellow companions’ health and some information about their skills. He mostly just looked creepy.
The Duke and Dr. Zambe shared their knowledge of the “demonic other-worldy” happenings, and demonic creatures such as the toothy squirrel and a plague of begging children with insect wings. Zenith spoke of witnessing a large creature up to 20 feet in height that he had seen take a child outside of Gardenhome.
Duke Neslan struck deals with each of the travelers, including pay and certain services rendered. Slocum asked, and the duke agreed to give mounts, heavy cloaks and blankets to the party for the trip.
As it was getting late, the party was allowed to spend the night in the Dukes house with a special guard over “Lady” Gretchen.
In the morning the party left for Garden home. Part way through the journey Cassius called a halt because of an uncomfortable feeling in the area of his bladder. Quintas followed him to the edge of the woods where Cassius was attacked by a demonic squirrel while trying to urinate. Quintas and Cassius were able to evade the black, sabertooth, demon squirrel’s unnatural bite while Slocum and Zenith moved into the fray. A well-placed net thrown over the squirrel by Slocum allowed the party to capture and kill the mighty beast. Cutting it open, they noticed that this squirrel was emaciated and missing most of its fur, and its internal organs seemed to be rotten and dried up.
The session started out with all three of the players marching their own path to meet with Duke Nesslan. Along the way there was a broken down carriage which hosted a trap laid by the nefarious Bandalini brothers.
Cassius was the first to encounter the carriage, but did so from distance and under the cover of stealth. Before he could investigate more closely, Slocum the pirate-barbarian happened upon the broken down carriage, halting the big man’s poorly sung sea chantey. Slocum managed to detect and avoid the trap set by the Bandalini Brothers and backed away from it, heading back along his way down the road.
Before Cassius could investigate the carriage himself, Quintas, a peculiar monk, arrived upon the scene, rushing towards the carriage concerned that there might be injured parties nearby. Upon investigating, he too realized that this is in fact a trap and even spots some of the Brothers Bandalini who tell him to have a look inside. All too aware of what his fate might be should he accommodate, Quintas began to take his leave. But before he was out of earshot, the leader of this brotherly troupe hurled an insult at Quintas’ sexuality. Quintas turned around demanding an apology, for which none was offered, and combat ensued with the three brothers squaring off against the one small monk.
Cassius made his appearance during the conflict to insist that the fight remain ‘fair.’ When it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen, Cassius stuck one of the brothers in the leg with his spear. The shouts caught the attention of the barbarian who started to run back towards the carriage thinking he’d perhaps heard a barbarian yelp. After a little back and forth swinging from all parties the barbarian arrived on the scene so startled by the odd appearance of Quintas that he barreled into one of the brothers, whom was held at spear-point by Cassius. The poorly Bandalini Brother found himself helplessly skewered to death. The battle was over shortly after that.
Quintas inflicted serious pain upon the Bandalini leader, demanding a sincere apology and stabbing both of his feet into the dirt with daggers. Eventually, the monk’s rage wore off and he tended the wounded leg of the third, yet-living brother and offered some less-than-comforting words to the leader on his way back down the road.
Everyone headed to town, but parted ways shortly after getting to the Town of Nesslan.
Quintas managed to find the ruins of the monastery, which he had been sent to investigate. Inside of the hulking, burned out ruins was peculiar. Evidence of fire was found throughout the monastery; anything combustible had been turned to ash. All the stained glass had been shattered, though not as a means of escape since the windows were too narrow for a man to fit through. In the main hall, Quintas found cloth covering three cube shapes of various sizes—a huge one in the center of the hall and two smaller ones beside the hall’s main entrance. After taking the cover off the large cube, he found it to be a 20’ glass cube. After removing the cloth from another, smaller box, he found another glass cube with a black, two-headed monkey with a frightened visage on both faces imprisoned within the glass.
Cassius, who had grabbed the gem from the carriage had it appraised; it was of no worth to the jeweler having come from Garden Home, and little more than glass. The barbarian stopped at the first ‘decent’ tavern he could find and was shortly joined by Cassius after his failed appraisal.
The session ended with Cassius and Slocum enjoying some brew and camaraderie in the tavern before heading to see the Duke and with Quintas about to investigate the 3rd, covered cube.
December 19, 2006 in real time
Sagesse felt a figure approaching from behind. His arms were grabbed and he felt shackles being applied to his wrists. The soldier behind him lifted the sleeve of his robe and said something in Krondrelli, revealing the shackle that was already there, a reminder of Sagesse’s quest and his failure in the test. Malthus, also held well, felt shackles applied to his hands quickly as well. Below in the boat, Atalonia turned to Marqsam:
Atalonia pressed one of her breathing stones into his hand, saying, “Vaya conmigo,” motioning for him to follow, she grabbed her decorative box of belongings, stood, and jumped into the water.
Marqsam was unable to understand her very well.
Marqsam says to the prince, “I’m going after her.”
Aiden “Do what you must.”
Marqsam “Meet you at shore.” He dove in to follow her, trying to decide whether or not to use the stone or to save it. He palmed the stone.
Aiden Addressing the soldier who overlooked the edge of the ship, “We wish permission to… go aboard.”
He was greeted with no response, and the rope ladder had been cut. Aiden began to grapple at the side of the boat. Roscius looked at him curiously, and then out over the water, wondering how he was to get aboard or ashore by himself. The guards began to lead Malthus and Sagesse toward the fore of the ship. There seemed to be a hatchway open there.
Sagesse saying over his shoulder to the commander, “What’s to become of us at this point?”
Commander “You’re already prepared for. We’ve more of your brethren. You’ll be placed with them. (To Aiden) Stay down! No!”
Roscius could be heard addressing the commander then, and soon other guards joined the conversation in Krondrelli. Some sort of negotiation was afoot, but it soon was out of earshot for the shackled priests as they descended a staircase into the hull.
Marqsam and Atalonia were soon being helped aboard Julius’ overladen dinghy. The little vessel was barely floating with the extra weight, but all aboard seemed to have grown comfortable with the idea that water was going to fill whatever cursed vessel they tried.
Julius “Well, we’re allowed to either enter the island here or go around to the other side. Seems like this is safe harbor for as long as we stay loyal to the Source—er—as long as we say that we’re loyal to this prophet Lineus.”
Julius “I think it was ‘Lineus.’ So… I see no reason to go further today. This is the port where we were going to be able to get the glass, although we have no reason to obtain it now. I guess we’re going to need to go ashore and regroup. We’ll just try to find a place. You fellows can begin rowing. That looks like a good port to land right there.”
Other ships were patrolling this side of the island as well. It seems there was no chance of getting by without being seen. Marqsam was concerned with his inability to understand Atalonia and the slow progress learning Krondrelli.
Atalonia “Estes son nuestra gente. Necesitamos ganar dinero.”
Atalonia “Sí, dinero.”
Marqsam’s concern turned to the prince and bard. He looked back to see them trolling along side the ship for a while, and as his own little dinghy crossed the bow of the ship to the starboard, he lost sight of them. He wondered what would become of them. After several minutes, he still did not see them rowing. They must have stayed with the ship. Soon Marqsam’s carnival group reached a very tall dock, and another rope ladder was lowered. Julius ascended first, and some formalities were afoot, trying to establish a lingua franca between him at the port guard. They seemed to find common ground. They seemed to be re-verifying that he was aligned with the Prophet Lineus. Soon other members were climbing ashore and taking their own oaths. Finally, it was Marqsam’s turn at the top of the ladder, after Atalonia had sworn. She waited atop for him.
Port Guard (brokenly) “Do you… swear… your allegiance… to the Prophet Lineus?”
Marqsam “If I have to.”
Port Guard (looking perplexed) “Do you… not ally with Lineus?”
Port Guard “The prophet Lineus!”
Marqsam “Do you have some of his teachings? A book I could read, maybe?”
Port Guard “Are you allied with the Source?”
Marqsam with his most practiced poker face, “The what? Oh! That other thing. Naah!”
Port Guard (To Julius, who was walking away quickly from the debacle) “You there!”
Marqsam “I’m really more of a merchant type… You know, trade.”
Port Guard “Come back here! ¿Dónde pienses que vayas?”
Julius, cringing, returned and tried to look confident.
Port Guard (To Julius) “Is this one of your men?”
Julius “Uh, hm… He’s a traveling companion of ours.”
Port Guard “Is he allied with the Source?”
Julius “OH! No! No. He’s a… a follower of Lineus. Aren’t you, Marqsam? (Marqsam tried on his best dumb, unknowing expression) He’s not that bright! Actually.”
Julius “He’s a sort of a savant… an idiot savant. Some things he does well. We keep him around.”
Port Guard “Then you must keep him with you! You keep track of him, and you’re responsible for him.”
One of the guards passed forward a card with a twine tied to it through a hole. The Port guard wrote something on the card and then folded and ripped it in half along a set of perfectly round holes that had been cut into it. The free end was given to Julius, and the end with the string was to be tied around Marqsam’s neck. One of the three guards reached a hand down to help Marqsam the rest of the way up the ladder, and as he came up, another tied the card on the string around his neck. Marqsam’s tag card was crudely died a light blue, and it was tied so close to his neck that he could not read what was written on it. He had seen that much of the writing seemed to have been printed by a press.
Marqsam “Do you have anything in red?”
Julius (Interrupting to avoid further conflict) “I guess you’re my charge! Let’s go!”
Marqsam “Good luck with that.”
They both chuckled over the idea.
Julius “As long as I’m not given too much trouble over it.”
Marqsam’s eyes wandered back out to sea as he wondered where the prince and Roscius had ended up in the exchange. All he could see was the ship that had taken the priests turning toward the port. The little dinghy that held his companions was nowhere to be seen, either sunk or taken aboard the ship. There was nowhere for the dinghy to hide behind the ship as it was headed straight at port. The wake of the sleek military vessel would have been a terrible place for the little boat; it could not be tied there long without capsizing. Something had become of it.
Julius “Well, come on. Let’s try to find a place to sit down and have a very stout drink. You think?”
Marqsam “I could use one of those.”
Julius “Did you bring that mumbaye with you?”
Julius “Well, son of a bitch.”
They began walking along the dock toward the bustling town. Now that Marqsam was amongst the towers, he realized that this was the most amazing sight he had ever seen, even having viewed the great city of Maybourne in Westend. The towers shimmered in the sun, being made of a material that looked like white sand and crushed glass somehow cemented together. Never had he seen buildings this tall, towering hundreds of feet into the air and made by the hands of man in the shape of giant, perfect obelisks. There were smaller buildings as well, but the skyline was dominated by the obelisk structures. Marqsam followed along with the carnival group as they crossed over the white sand beach and onto a colorful road to see the streets bustling with figures robed in every color. Each wore a simple head covering that matched or complemented his or her robe, and they went about hurriedly. Marqsam was drawing stares just as much as, if not more than, the carnival freaks in his company. He became very self conscious of the tag around his neck, and tried to spin it around to hide it under the back of his shirt collar, since his chest was bared and revealing the nuisance tag. He could see other guards walking around the area as well, and realized that they were watching him intently.
Back on the sleek military vessel, the priests had been led underneath. The outside of the ship was covered in shiny ornate metals and decorative detail, and inside even this hold set up for prisoners was a thing of beauty. A chain ran down the center of the ceiling there, attached to the ceiling every few feet and swaging down to accommodate various heights of prisoners. Each priest had a pair of guards, one firmly grasping each arm. Sagesse was the first to be attached to the center chain. His hands, already shackled behind him, were raised painfully toward the ceiling as far as he could stretch, causing him to bend forward in a most awkward position, and each roll of the ship on the waves would threaten to throw him off balance and injure the muscles of his tortured arms wrenched up behind him.
Sagesse “I don’t know that I’m tall enough for this,” he could feel the tendons painfully stretching in his shoulders.
Malthus was similarly confined. When his arms were painfully stretched behind him, he heard a clinking sound locking him in to the torturous position. The prisoners could make out that there were guards stationed down here to watch them, but they were positioned so that the prisoners could not lift their heads enough to really see the guards and make out their stance. [perception checks made, Malthus by 3, Sagesse by 9] Three staircases led up, the large one they had been led down, and two smaller ones toward the fore, but the guards and the restraints made escape impossible. The boat sailed on slowly toward its dock. Sagesse could barely hear the sounds of Roscius’s voice wafting down to his ears speaking in a foreign language. After ten or fifteen minutes of foreign conversation, there was laughing from Roscius and quite a few of the men aboard. Though the bard had not been singing, it was obvious that he was using his silver tongue to try to ease the situation.
Sagesse “Sounds like Roscius made it aboard.”
Malthus “That’s good to know.”
Marqsam had only tucked his tag into his collar less than a minute before he felt a startling grip on his right arm. A soldier was holding onto his arm and fishing for the tag in his collar. He jerked it around toward the front. Marqsam looked at the heavy bronze plates of armor that hung all around the soldier’s person, and decided not to complain much, gritting his teeth and staring into the soldier’s eyes. The soldiers seemed to be everywhere in this town, moving in platoons, standing at corners, maybe more soldiers than commoners. He would have to find the opportunity to remove the tag later.
Soldier “No Muevalo! Vaya!”
Julius was beginning to address random folk in the street, perhaps trying to find a suggestion of where to go. Marqsam still felt that all eyes were on him, people even stopped to stare at him in particular. Perhaps one of them even tipped the guard off that he had been trying to hide his tag. The townspeople seemed slightly afraid of Marqsam and what his tag denoted. Looking back toward the port, he could see the boat docking. Nearby, Julius seemed to be getting some directions. As the boat docked to the south, Julius and his party began to follow their newfound guide to the north, and it seemed that Marqsam would lose sight of the ship that held his comrades if he followed the carnival group.
Marqsam (to Julius) “Where are we going?”
Marqsam “Where are you going?”
Julius “It seems to be a little place where… people like us go, according to him. You know, vagrants, pirates, people who don’t belong here. Ha! I figured that’s as good a place to start as any (he chuckled). We’ve got to make a plan.”
Marqsam “What’s the name of that place?”
Julius “It’s called ‘The Compass Box.’”
Marqsam “The Compass Box?”
Julius “Yeah, but in their language… Come along.” (He spun on his heel and continued to follow their guide)
Marqsam (Remaining) “Shouldn’t we wait for Aiden and Roscius?”
Julius “You think they’ll be coming?”
Marqsam [unintelligible, perhaps something about money]
Julius ran up and stopped the guide. They talked and gestured back toward the ship. Marqsam began to wander toward the dock again.
Julius “Atalonia, porque no te quedas aquí? No se si eso es la dirección más seguro para ir.”
It appeared that Atalonia would look after Marqsam, but remain behind with the carnival group. Nobody really felt comfortable on Freheit Island, but particularly the ladies were out of sorts.
Marqsam “I’ll be back,” he said to the mermaid who seemed to understand.
Aboard the ship, the priests were being unchained and led, shackled, up top. Once above, they could see that Aiden and Roscius were mingling with the soldiers, and Roscius was allowed to approach the priests. He made one last witty comment as he walked away from the group of guards, and they all laughed and began talking to one another. The priests still had a guard on each arm as they met Roscius.
Roscius smiling at the priests, perhaps trying to hide the nature of their conversation from foreign ears, “You are in some very deep shit.”
Both priests returned grimacing smiles.
Roscius “I haven’t really been able to do anything about that yet, if I can.”
Sagesse “And, since you put it so eloquently, what kind of shit am I getting into?”
Roscius “It seems that there is some sort of little war going on on this island, between this Prophet of Lineus and a faction of the Source, and that in the last two or three days here, it seems to have come to a head. So, they’ve been generous enough with their information to tell me that they’re taking any representatives of the Source prisoner, and that they have a score to settle.”
Malthus looked left and right to see whether the guards that held their arms seemed to be understanding any of this. They seemed oblivious.
Malthus “Over our dead bodies I’m sure…”
Sagesse “Very Nice. Do we know how they’re going to settle the score?”
Roscius “They said that they would settle it very soon, but they weren’t exactly… divulging any specifics. It was almost as if they were sworn to some sort of secrecy. Even with my best cunning and friendliness, I can’t make them feel like they’re safe to say.”
Sagesse “Well, if you would be so kind as to take my items from me, you can have them. Because I don’t think I will need them right now.”
Roscius “Oh, certainly.”
Roscius untied Sagesse’s simple belt frowningly, and added it to his collection of more stately goods.
Roscius “Malthus, is there anything I can do to make your stay more comfortable?”
Malthus “You could free me and give me two swords.”
Roscius “I’m afraid that might not sit well with our hosts.”
Sagesse “You could tell them that he’s not a representative of the Source. That might go over well.”
Roscius (To both) “Would you like for me to do that?”
Malthus “Eh. I would die for it.” [not sure of that transcritption].
Roscius “OK. I think that it would be in your best interest to ‘admit’ that you don’t follow the Source.” The bard’s eyes wandered over the faces of the guards to see if they were catching any of this.
Malthus (to Sagesse) “Do you have a plan?”
Sagesse “I uh… I usually don’t.”
Malthus (nervous laughter)
Sagesse “I usually take a look at the surroundings and beseech the Source for an answer. At this point I don’t have one.”
The guards did seem to react to Sagesse’s pronunciation of the word Source.
Malthus “My plan doesn’t work when I’m in shackles.”
Malthus was considering denouncing his alignment with the Source.
Sagesse (to Roscius) “If you would be so kind as to let one of these men know that I would like to speak to the leader before I get tossed off of it, I would appreciate it.”
Roscius approached the captain of the soldiers, he who had been in charge when the captives were taken, and spoke to him in his own tongue. The big bearded man seemed to smile and accept his approach. Still smiling, he walked to Sagesse, but the moment they came face to face, his smile dropped into a sneer.
Sagesse (With a grim visage) “I haven’t but just recently learned of this war. And I’m sure that that doesn’t mean much to you…”
Sagesse “But… I too oppose this war. I think that this war that the Cardinal is waging is unjust.”
Commander “The Cardinal?”
Sagesse “I would assume, if you are at odds with the Source, followers of the Source, that it would come from…”
Commander “Well it is news to us that it would come from so high as the Cardinal.”
Malthus “We’ve been on a small island; we are unsure.”
Sagesse “Yes, I have been banished to a small island by the Cardinal,” with a sidelong look at Malthus, “and only just recently he sent an assassin to terminate me.”
Malthus “Which didn’t work out.”
Sagesse “And only since then have I learned that there is some conflict involved here. If you are saying that you oppose this war, then I oppose it as well.”
Commander (Gruffly) “Soldiers don’t oppose war.”
Malthus (referring to Sagesse) “Does he look like a soldier?”
Commander “I do… And that’s all you have to say?”
Sagesse “Well, what I’m saying is that… I’m on your side if you are opposed to this war.”
Commander “I don’t oppose the war; I oppose the Source.”
Malthus “He says so, but he has it within him.”
Sagesse “I would not say that I oppose the Source, for all those that are being killed are a part of the Source.”
Commander “They’ve taken 17 of our children, and they’ve taken our holy Imam. But we’ll settle the score.”
Malthus “What if we were to get the children and your holy Imam back?”
Commander “Only if you can bring them back from the dead. For that’s how they’re taken.”
Sagesse “I regret your loss.”
Commander “As do we all. Duly noted.”
With that the commander turned to walk away.
Sagesse “Very well. I could be of some assistance, but you choose to turn away from me. So be it.”
Commander “You will be of assistance… in the quantity of one.”
A look of questioning passed over Sagesse’s innocent face, and he looked to Malthus for clarification.
Malthus “Sixteen to go.”
The answer satisfied the question, but not the situation. The priests were led across a gangplank onto the dock. Malthus offered a few curses to the guard on his right with a genial tone of voice. The guards seemed to be discussing one of the naughtier words that he used in their own language, but obviously missed the main of the message. They snickered at the foreign curse word.
Marqsam began walking briskly toward the docks, and made it to within twenty feet before he heard guards, again, running to check his tag and see to whom he belonged. A pair of them approached from one side and another pair from the other. One of them was reaching out for his neck tag. Marqsam dove behind an unobservant man in the crowd and then appeared on the other side of him, kicking the first guard’s foot and causing him to tumble to the ground. Another guard, behind him, tripped over the first who was sprawling on the ground, and Marqsam tried to spin and duck behind another passer by. Another guard was already in pursuit of him.
Marqsam bending and reaching down to offer a hand, “Are you OK?”
He went to one knee just as the next guard dived at him, and the armored figure went sailing over him without making any contact. The guard landed on his face doing a half somersault.
Marqsam “Can I help you up?”
The first guard swatted Marqsam’s hand away. From behind him, Marqsam heard a voice.
Guard “Get down on the ground!”
Marqsam “I am on the ground”
Guard “All the way down!”
Marqsam spinning toward the shouting guard, “Hey, I didn’t do anything wrong here, just trying to make my way through the crowd—trying to help a soldier out.” He began to stand and back away.
The priests were being led down the dock toward the massive shimmering towers, followed by Aiden and Roscius.
Guard (to Marqsam) “Stay exactly where you are! Get down on the ground!”
Marqsam “Do you know what this thing means?”
Guard “Yes, I know exactly what it means! Where is your keeper?”
Marqsam “Can you tell me what it means?”
Guard “It means that you need a keeper.”
Marqsam (Pointing at Aiden) “Well my keeper is down there.”
Guard “Well that’s the reason that we’re running at you. You need to stay with him!”
Marqsam “Well I was trying to get to him!”
Marqsam continued to back away toward Aiden who was on the dock, and the guards began to close in on him.
Marqsam “Why do I need a keeper again?”
Guard “Well, let me read the card. (Marqsam allowed it) It says here that you are of an undefined religion.”
Marqsam “…An undefined religion.”
Guard “Yes. We don’t know whether you’re honest or not. We don’t know with whom you stand.”
Guard “That’s why you must stay with him.”
Marqsam “If you know where he stands, don’t you know where I stand?”
Guard “Not necessarily. Obviously not.”
Marqsam “Maybe we can clear it all up.”
Guard “Come this way.”
Marqsam was led to the place where the dock met the sand, and the parties converged there.
Marqsam “Hey look, I made friends already.”
Sagesse “As always.”
Guard (to Aiden) “He says he’s with you. You’re his keeper?”
Aiden “I’m… sure.”
Guard “Where is your card?”
Aiden “I don’t have a card for him, per se. We’re just good friends, that kind of thing.”
Guard (to Marqsam) “Who is your keeper? Who has the other half of this card?”
Marqsam “Some guy over there,” gesturing in the general direction of where he left Julius.
Guard “Some guy?”
Marqsam “Yes, the captain of the ship that we were shipwrecked on. Could he (Aiden) be my keeper instead?”
Guard “I’m not in charge of such things. You should have made a healthier designation.”
Marqsam “I didn’t understand what they were saying; none of them spoke my language.”
Guard “It’s always the same excuse with these things.”
Julius was languidly approaching, trying to seem only slightly interested. The group was now surrounded by a total of eight armored guards. Marqsam had brought things to a halt with his shenanigans.
Marqsam (quietly to Aiden) “And our allegiance is to???”
Aiden “Oh, um, the Prophet Lineus.”
Marqsam “The Prophet Lineus? Then why do we have this card? My allegiance is to the Prophet Lineus!”
Aiden “Then why DO you have this card?”
Marqsam “I don’t know! I couldn’t understand what the guy was saying! It sounded like he said something about pushing me back off the pier.”
Guard “Hold on…”
The captain of the guard was approaching.
Captain “I was speaking to him, and I’m not so sure.”
A few sentences followed in their own language, along with various gestures to Aiden and then to Julius. Julius inserted himself into the conversation, and soon Aiden was bold enough to stick his foot into the conversation as well. After a while the card was traded from Julius to the guards, and from one guard to another. Roscius joined the bartering as well, and with that, everything appeared to go more smoothly. A few more sentences were written on it, and then it was finally given to Aiden.
Marqsam “I think I’ve been traded.”
Sagesse “I think Julius got a very good price out of you.”
Malthus “Yes, freedom.”
The procession of the prisoners began again. Sagesse and Malthus were led at the front, and Aiden, Marqsam, and Roscius followed them straight through the square. Many other people were starting to fill in behind them, starting something of a celebration behind the group of prisoners. Strange music was floating around their ears with foreign lyrics and odd sounds. People began to sing along with it. They walked for walked for some time [20 minutes].
When they passed Julius and his entourage, the flamboyant man was questioning his guide and his reaction was of astonishment. Julius and his crew came to a door, while still within ten minutes walk of the docks, where their guide directed them in. The path had been straight, all down one main street toward a little gathering area, not as big as the harbor square, but large enough to allow people to congregate in front of shops. The streets were growing crowded. Something was on the verge. Armored patrols of three, eight, sometimes a dozen marched around, paying no mind to the procession, but the people were gathering in close and eyeing the prisoners. Julius and his group stopped at the doorway where they were led, looking bewildered, and sadly watched the prisoners disappear into the crowd.
At the end of their processional, the prisoners, Sagesse and Malthus, were brought to a large town square densely packed with people. Finally, through the sea of people ahead, three ten foot tall posts could be seen rising out of the tumult. The posts were protruding from a platform, and some robed figures seemed already to have been chained or tied to them. Rotten produce flew from the audience at the restrained figures on the platform. Sagesse and Malthus had a few of the stinking vegetables hit them as well, but most people were afraid to raise the ire of the guards that so closely constrained them. So far, they had not been hit in the face with anything.
On the stage, tied to the furthest left post was a man in a white robe and two somewhat smaller figures, boyish ones, in gray robes. On the center post was tied a man in red robes, which Sagesse and Malthus took to be the robes of an archbishop. He was the only figure in the middle. On the right side, two men in white robes were restrained. One of them spat and sputtered violently to get the taste of something rotted out of his mouth and nose. The procession continued up to the platform.
Marqsam pulling on Aiden’s shirtsleeve and speaking quietly, “What are we going to do about this?”
Aiden “We better do something. You got any ideas?”
Marqsam “Well, we have to get out of here in one piece.”
Aiden “Well I want to make sure that we take… I don’t want to lose anyone.”
Marqsam “I was sort of hoping that they would take them to a deep dark dungeon somewhere and we could go and rescue them.”
Aiden “That’s kind of what I was expecting.”
Marqsam “It doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen.”
Aiden “Nope. Looks like they were ready for a party. And we came at the wrong time.”
Marqsam “Maybe Roscius could talk them out of it.”
Aiden “Well that seems to be the most promising idea so far. What do you think Roscius?”
Roscius “Well… To whom do you suppose I should speak?”
Marqsam “See anyone official looking?”
The only people round about were the guards who were with them and others that seemed to be in service could be seen intermittently through the crowd. None showed any immediate sign of rank recognizable to the Westenders. They kept their eyes peeled in the mayhem, but there seemed to be no sort of order or leadership, only followers doing what they had already been told.
Marqsam “Do you know anything about the priests of Lineus? Have you ever seen them before?”
Roscius “I have never traveled here before.”
Sagesse “Are there any songs about them?”
Roscius “Songs about priests? I do know the language.” (Roscius seemed to be contemplating).
At that point, a very short, old man came bumping out of the crowd. He wore all black, and long white hair came jutting out under his black turban silks. He was obviously trying to get as close as he could to Sagesse, and didn’t seem to mind that he was angering the guard on Sagesse’s right arm. The guard pushed him back, but the old man pointed at Sagesse, and seemed to be announcing something to everyone in the crowd.
Roscius “He’s saying something about the prophet Lineus as he’s… pointing to Sagesse. He doesn’t seem to make much sense to anybody here, not just to me.”
People targeted the old man with their rotten vegetables as well, but he seemed unphased by it. He didn’t seem to take any notice of it. Malthus noted that the other robed figures didn’t seem to have been left out here for very long. He was hoping they were only going to be tied up and left to starve. That would certainly have yielded some time. Sagesse memorized the face of the old man and his mannerisms. He could hear people calling him by the name “Hablaloca.” Whether it was name calling or his proper name, Sagesse knew not.
Marqsam “Some crazy guy?”
Aiden “Something like that.”
As the prisoners approached the stage they could make out some of the faces of the six chained figures. Sagesse hoped that they would be kept alive until there were eighteen of them to sacrifice. Malthus noticed that the man to the furthest right was one that he recognized. He had worked closely with him, and knew him as Bishop Likus. He was a member of Malthus’s Order of the Scimitar. Sagesse knew of him as well, but did not know him as well.
Malthus “I see Bishop Likus. Maybe he can give us some information if we don’t die here.”
Archbishop Kyranus was the red robed man fastened alone to the middle post. As the young men were led even closer, they could see that there was kindling stacked around the feet of the posts on the sides. The Archbishop would still burn to death as well, but more slowly. There were only about eight feet between the posts.
Sagesse “Now I’m beginning to think we should have gone into the water.”
Malthus “Yeah… I had pretty much assumed we were going to get hanged or burned alive… Maybe you should do something… make some claims and demonstrate your power…”
Roscius was speaking with the crazy old man as they moved forward. The old timer had plenty to say to him, but at a loud, fast clip. It seemed more indoctrination than communication. The chained priests were led up onto the stage area. The captain of the boat that had taken the priests hostage was present along with four other guards, all on stage now.
Captain (To Malthus) “You have no status within the church, is that correct?”
Malthus “I’m not sure actually. I did at one time. I am failed at a mission, and so am not sure. I have not talked to the higher priests.”
Captain “Well that sounds like no status to me. Put him there.”
Marqsam (To Roscius) “You’re supposed to know how to play a crowd, right?”
Roscius “Well… yes…”
Marqsam “Get up on stage!”
Roscius “Maybe I should!”
Roscius tried to work his way toward the front, but it was slow going. Malthus’s shackles were undone, and for a moment he would feel the sweet fresh air on his wrists one last time. The priests’ eyes darted around surreptitiously to see that aside from the four guards and the captain on the stage with them, there were also guards standing all around the perimeter of the huge square, some twenty to forty feet apart from one another at staggered intervals. Commoners stood atop small objects and climbed the sides of vendor’s carts to get the best view of the anticipated spectacle. The square was packed. People were screaming and watching for the guards to look away so that they could throw blunt objects. Escape seemed impossible. But Malthus preferred to die trying. He saw that Sagesse’s hands were being freed at the same moment. Sagesse noted that an area in one corner where buildings met at a grand portal appeared to be set up to cordon off, perhaps important people could come and go unperturbed through there.
Malthus “I will not go gently to death’s arms.”
Malthus grappled a guard’s arm, and moved behind him.
[Order: Marqsam, Malthus, Sagesse, guards en mass, Aiden, Roscius]
Marqsam tried to work his way closer to the stage, noting that some of the guards had different equipment than others. It was possible that some of them had ranged weapons. Moved his full movement this round.
Malthus kicked his guard from behind, knocking him from the four foot stage and causing some damage.
Sagesse, his hands suddenly free, was able to bend the Source to his will. The guard reached out at his hands, but felt only air as Sagesse’s form seemed to eddy away like swirling smake where the guard’s hand had offended. Of a sudden, the loose grains of sand on the ground nearby began to swirl up in a stiff breeze, and within a second it was a swirling gale wind. Sagesse became the very wind itself, and was no longer to be seen, only dealt with as a ferocious gale. It was as if he dissolved into the sandy wind and blew away. The crowd began to become a violent tumult as people fled the scene. Screams filled the air. Some of the guards nearby, and those at the perimeter of the Square were able to remain standing, but all those on stage fell prone in the gusting wind. Malthus, also near to Sagesse’s body of wind, fell to his knees in the gusts. He began to move toward the center of the square.
Aiden and Roscius were caught in Sagesse’s wind and fought for their footing, amazed by the miracle Sagesse was performing.
Marqsam leapt up into the wind and let it carry him tumblingly over the falling bodies of fifty or so townspeople who were rolling through the sludge of the rotted vegetables intended for taunting the priests.
Malthus slid back on his knee out of the wind, a little closer to the archbishop. He examined the knots that held the other priests: heavy knot work, obviously the work of sailors.
Sagesse moved his body of wind toward the center of the square, knocking down fleeing townspeople and armed guards alike.
Bishop Likus screamed out over Sagesse’s howling wind, “Praise be to the Source!” and Malthus quietly responded “Shut. Up.”
Many of the guards attempted to gain their feet, others took a kneeling position and aimed their chevaliers at the platform. Foreign orders were screamed over the general noises of fright and fleeing.
Aiden rolled over onto his belly and postured himself to stand as soon as the wind let up. Roscius helped the Hablaloca to his feet, listening to him preach loudly and gesture to the havoc that Sagesse had created. Roscius began to assent and amplify the old man’s admonitions. They were beginning to preaching about the prophet together.
Marqsam arrived on the platform, hopping up on the back edge where the wind was not strong. He wished to cut some of the priests free, but it would be take more than a brash swing of the sword as they were tied back to back. He drew nearer the closest tied priest and attempted to cut him free. The thick rope would take more than one sharp blow.
Malthus stood up.
Sagesse’s body of wind flowed out over the advancing guards and blew most of those in his path to the ground. Several around the perimeter remained unaffected, and Malthus was now clear of the gust.
The guards who were unaffected by the wind vied for position in the receding crowd. People dove to the ground as chevaliers were raised. An explosion sounded from an area about twenty yards from the platform, and black smoke floated from the muzzle of one guard’s chevalier. All heads turned to take note. Marqsam flung himself out of the way as the bullet flew by, but it struck the bishop in front of him instead, driving into his back and drawing a gurgling death scream from him. The crowd was already growing thin, but a few men were crawling and making a motion as to bow their heads to the earth repeatedly in praise. They crawled thusly toward the center of the square, only a few side by side, amazed by Sagesse’s miracle.
Aiden and Roscius were running to new positions.
Marqsam took note of the massive scimitars held by the advancing guards. Most of them had been waylaid by the wind. Marqsam was able to move to the Archbishop and hack at his ropes. They dropped away, freeing him.
Archbishop “I’m free! Thank you.”
Marqsam “Not for long!” gesturing to the onrushing guards from many directions.
Malthus had to take to his feet again.
Sagesse moved his windy forces back toward the platform where guards were beginning to stand. They were immediately blown down again, and most of them began trying to crawl away from the sandy tornado.
Another explosion erupted from the direction that the crowd had been running, several yards from the platform. [The bullet flew into Malthus’s unarmored chest, delivering a massive blow (14 points of damage. 1 character point spent to dodge, failed, Second character point spent to allow that the wind blew the bullet off course and it missed)] Malthus could see the bullet in the air, it was slowed and caught up in the wind so, and it fell harmlessly to the ground at his feet.
Aiden crawled for the edge of the wind, along with his opponents.
Roscius was talking to a pair of guards, and the two had gone down on their knees, their faces upraised to take in his message.
Marqsam continued to hack at priests’ restraints, setting free a young acolyte.
Malthus took a position behind the other post of prisoners, and began trying to cut free Bishop Cedar. He would still have some work to do on that rope. He moved on to the next tied victims.
Sagesse washed his formless body of wind several yards out into the center of the square, jostling a cart of strange fruits and knocking most of its contents to the ground.
A few of the nearby guards who remained standing were knocked to the ground to roll over the juicy yellow fruits. Others, newly out of the wind, began to stand and retreat with raised weapons. Most of the perimeter guards were advancing, and they seemed generally to be trying to space themselves out to avoid attention. Large groups seemed to draw the windy force. Directly behind Malthus, an explosion split the air from a high window above the platform. He attempted to throw himself out of the way, [Failed, 1 point spent for another chance, plus dropping prone, barely succeeded] and ended up face down on the platform at the feet of the tied priests.
Aiden got to his feet and let out a war cry as he finally came face to face with an opponent.
Roscius proselytized the soldiers, and another, approaching slowly, also joined to hear him. The soldiers abandoned all thought of attacking, letting their giant scimitars hang limply in their hands or slowly setting them back within their sheaths, and were amazed by the Sagesse’s miracle and the bard’s assertion of the boy’s connection to the divine.
Marqsam made further progress toward freeing the bishop and the acolyte that were before him tied.
Malthus continued bluntly to cut at the rope he had already begun to sever.
Sagesse scanned the crowd within him and around him for chevalier wielders, and moved more swiftly than ever he could in corporeal form to encompass another pair of chevaliers.
One guard approached Malthus from behind and landed a giant scimitar blow squarely in his back. [6 points of damage to the back, something poignant about his earlier attack on Sagesse.] A young voice screamed out over the riot, perhaps the slaughter of a tied acolyte, perhaps of one freed but weaponless, no one could turn to look.
Aiden stepped into the fight landing a vicious, but not fatal, blow to a scimitar wielder’s neck.
Roscius continued his rhetoric, gaining the confidence of his audience.
Marqsam gave two more hacks to the ropes before him, and released two more prisoners. He freed a bishop. One acolyte was freed but killed, and another was still tied.
Malthus took a full defensive posture.
Sagesse moved again to disable their assailants. Aiden was also knocked to the ground again.
Guards continued to crawl out of the wind. Sagesse was sending them to the outskirts of the square. The captain of the guard, on the platform, was also knocked to the ground again. Those who did succeed in attacking the last round were still recovering from their swing, trying to bring the blade back around for another. The only guards standing were those furthest from the stage and a pair of guards who were behind the stage, using it for cover from the wind.
Aiden was on the ground again, and got to his knee.
Roscius moved his group further away, retreating from the wind. He tried to draw the attention of other guards.
Marqsam spun to note the guard who had eviscerated the young acolyte, blood and gore dripping from his sword. “You bastard!” he shouted, and threw a keen knife aimed for the soldier’s face. [All out attack +2 (DM allowed an extra point), -5 for aiming at the face, attack roll made by 6, dodge failed, damage 6,] The knife sliced through the soldier’s cheek from the inside discharging a massive amount of blood.
Malthus slashed at the ropes again, landing two blows, and bringing the rope very near to breaking. The bishop struggled against the loosening ropes, but hadn’t the strength to free himself. [two more points of damage done to the rope, but one more needed to break it]
Sagesse washed across the soldiers again.
Most of the soldiers tried to crawl to a better position or flee to a further remove. Their leader jumped from the edge of the platform to gain some cover from the wind behind it.
Aiden tried to stand again.
Roscius ducked into a nearby shop door headed for a balcony whence to better project his message.
Marqsam took a flying leap off the edge of the stage, flipping in the air and flamboyantly drawing his rapier at the same time. He landed on his feet facing the stage.
Malthus succeeded in freeing another prisoner, Bishop Cedar, leaving only a single acolyte tied on the platform.
Sagesse, taking care not to interfere with Marqsam’s theatrics, moved further from the stage to bowl over three more nearby soldiers.
Aiden, now well out of the wind, was able to make it to his feet to resume his stance against the soldiers facing him.
Soldiers continued to spread themselves apart, and took low stances. Some were reloading weapons, others were looking for a break in the wind to fire more accurately. One stunned opponent was able to regain his faculties.
Aiden was in full defense and avoiding the Sagesse’s gale.
Roscius continued to search for stairs and mount his way up inside the building next to the square.
Marqsam took a step toward the captain of the guard and raised his rapier swiftly and accurately to his larynx. His left hand dagger pointed directly at a nearby soldier who was still on his hands and knees.
Malthus went to work on the last acolyte’s bindings, and was finally able to cut someone free with a single stroke. At this point, all the priests were either freed or killed. Two Bishops, an acolyte, and the Archbishop remained.
Sagesse perceived that the guards in the corner behind the platform were standing at the ready with raised scimitars to allow the entry of a group of men in very ornate ceremonial head dresses and dark robes. The priests of Lineus arrived carrying torches. Sagesse moved to meet them in his airy form, sending the priests of Lineus and their entourage of soldiers sprawling. Their torches went out immediately when they struck the ground. Sagesse’s voice came in a howl that seemed to be articulated by the glancing friction of wind off of every nearby surface, “Run…” The voice seemed to come from every direction.
A blast came from an upper level window behind the platform. No one was hit. Aiden took a shot, hit in the side of the belly. He fell immediately, clutching his side and watching the blood pour through his hands. The captain of the guard admitted (to Marqsam), “You have me at a disadvantage,” and with that took a swing at Marqsam’s legs with his scythe-like scimitar, aiming perfectly for the knee. Marqsam was able to leap over the blade, giving it a disarming kick as it flew under him. The swashbuckling lad landed with the tip of his blade still at the captain’s throat. Many of the soldiers were finally able to stand and organize, having separated far enough to keep the wind from affecting them all at once.
Aiden was shocked from the wound and bleeding heavily. [stunned]
Roscius continued to ascend the stairs.
Marqsam saw the prince’s deadly wound and screamed “No! Damn you!” driving his rapier into the captain’s throat and slashing at his face with the knife.
[malfunction of recording—most of this, and possibly other rounds, missing]
Roscius appeared at the balcony.
Marqsam took back the ground he had just lost and stabbed at captain of the guard’s face and slashed toward his throat with the other hand. Marqsam stabbed him in the eye, sinking his knife in deeply. The captain fell flat of his back, immediately dead. Marqsam shouted out, “Malthus! Watch out behind you!”
Malthus turned and struck rapidly at his assailant, hitting him in the chink at the shoulder of his armor. He drew back a bloody dagger.
Sagesse swung his airy body over Aiden to examine his wound. [Aiden was at –9 already]. He could see that the life was nearly drained from the prince already. He was perhaps beyond Sagesse’s ability to mend already.
The soldiers began to flee en mass when Sagesse so quickly headed their way. The soldier threatened by Marqsam was readying his weapon for another swing. Two men similarly armed approached as well, attempting to cleave him in two. Marqsam was able to skirt one attack, but the second seemed to be aimed true for his midsection. [dodge failed, point spent for another chance, second dodge failed, 7 points of damage] Another blow missed him because the guard was crippled from a recent wound. Another explosion came from the window above the platform. To Malthus it sounded like it was right in his ear, and he felt the projectile connect forcefully with his right leg. His leg was suddenly crushed and useless. [Malthus, at 2 points, took 11 points of damage, placing him at –9 as well]
Roscius began to preach the new word from his higher stance, but most of the soldiers were already fleeing. The few that were not stood facing him in reverie.
Marqsam cursed the soldier that had just hit him, spun to his other side, and took two wild strikes at his back. The blows sent the soldier to his knees, crumbling on himself.
Sagesse moved to a position that would knock down every remaining guard that was not being dealt with directly by one of his comrades.
The old man, Hablaloca, was laying on the ground offering prayers up to Sagesse in a language that the boy could not understand. Most of the soldiers had fled or were fleeing.
Roscius began to echo what he could hear of Hablaloca’s prayer and add his own ornaments to it.
Marqsam stumbled out of the whirlwind that had just encompassed him and took a stab at his other opponent’s face. It was a damaging blow [2 points], but this was a fresh opponent.
Sagesse moved to knock down Marqsam and his opponents.
The soldiery began to flee as a whole when the last few stragglers saw how little support they would have. They fled around the edges of Sagesse’s body of wind. As he passed, Marqsam’s last opponent took one last slash toward him, being parried, and went on his way. A last shot toward Malthus barely missed its mark leaving a ball of lead in the platform before him. The soldiers fled, some into nearby buildings, some down the nearby streets.
[End of combat]
Marqsam ran to Aiden, and saw that he was dead [perception barely made].
Sagesse (In a ghostly whisping voice) “Any of you who wish to fight the Cardinal’s war had best flee.”
Marqsam leapt up onto the platform, screaming:
Marqsam “Come back you cowards and fight!” (All continued to run).
Sagesse “I am Sagesse Ducreateur. I oppose the Cardinal’s war. I cannot give my allegiance to the Prophet Lineus for I know not of him, but I will offer my alliance with him, as I oppose this war.” (To the priests of the Prophet Lineus)
Sagesse lifted his oppressive wind from them, and the two priests in the back stood and began to run immediately. Sagesse moved forward upon them again, blowing them to the ground. An older priest near the front yelled back to him in a language that he could not understand.
Roscius came running, and then approached rather gallantly when he came into their view. Without even addressing his comrades, he began speaking immediately to the Priests of Lineus. He went on for quite some time, vehemently (three minutes or so).
Marqsam was still screaming after the disappeared hoard,
Marqsam “Any of you cowards want to come out and fight now!”
He spun in every direction, puffing out his chest. It was then that he noticed a chevalietour aiming at him from the upper window. Marqsam had been in his sights for quite some time, but was holding for some reason.
Marqsam “Sagesse! Where in all forsaken are you?”
The four soldiers whom Roscius had been proselytizing came running to face the group, taking their helmets off. One man stepped to the front, threw his helmet down, and pronounced, through a thick accent:
Proselytized Guard “We swear allegiance to you!”
The other three threw down their helmets, and all took a knee, bowing.
Proselytized Guard “We must secret you away before they return.”
Sagesse (to Roscius) “Any headway with these priests?”
Roscius “They seem to fear you.”
Marqsam continued his angry yells.
Marqsam “Damnit, Sagesse!”
Roscius “They respect your power, they… want to know more. But I’m afraid that they’re trying to waste our time.”
Sagesse “Very well then.”
Marqsam “Sagesse! Aiden needs your help! And Malthus! They’re dead and dying! Where in all forsaken are you!”
Sagesse “Collect the rest of our group and the priests. Let’s get secreted away then. I can clear the way.”
Two proselytized guards ran over to Malthus and picked him up. One of them seemed to know how what to do to save him. The dead priests of the Source were beyond help. The Archbishop conferred softly with his bishops and the living acolyte for only a few moments, and they made to follow the party into hiding. Marqsam and another proselytized guard carried Aiden’s limp body, though the soldier understood none of Marqsam’s words. Only one guard seemed able to speak Capesian. The proselytized soldiers led the group to a pair of double doors at the North side of the square while Sagesse covered the group from behind as a wind storm too powerful for any ballistic to accurately fire through. As soon as Sagesse backed away from the Priests of Lineus far enough for them to get to their feet, they ran back down the hallway from which they had come, slamming the doors behind and loudly bolting themselves in.
Inside, the group found themselves in a highly decorated shop, one full of the finest home accessories and items. Some things had been turned over in here in Roscius’s haste to find the stairs earlier, but any workers were huddling out of sight or gone entirely. A few other townpeople had run through here as well, but the only figures in sight were those huddling against walls and hiding behind a group of large armoires.
[The group now consists of four proselytized guards, Hablaloca, Malthus, Marqsam, Roscius, Aiden, Sagesse, two bishops, an acolyte, and the Archbishop; 14 people. Killed were an initiate and a bishop.]
[New rules discussed: ]
[5 character points max allowed to go into the BANK.]
[These can be used for last-ditch efforts to survive or avoid damage.]
[Points can only be placed in the BANK when they are earned]
[1 point for a reroll]
[2 points for an automatic success]
[3 points must be spent to save a character if even a success will not save the character’s life]
[Points from the bank can be spent on anything they would normally be spent on, but cannot be replenished except when new character points are earned]
[Players opted to defer to the GM’s discretion rather than create a LUCK score that would account for the likelihood of completely random events (like running into random NPC townspeople while trying to run through a crowd, or whether a falling object fell near enough to a drowning character to be of use as a floatation device). I will decide, based solely on the way I imagine the event to happen, how random events come to pass, assigning percentage chances as pleases the situation.]
Early November, 2006 in real time
(The session started with a recap of the previous session and a short quiz for experience.)
It is about half an hour to 45 minutes after night fall. The conflict with the undead was short and Aiden, Sagesse, and Malthus are still together discussing what had transpired.
Roscius is performing for the shipmates and word starts to circulate amongst his audience that there is extensive damage to the ship from the frozen ocean outside. It becomes obvious that the giant vessel will be doomed when the ice thaws and that everyone will have to abandon ship.
Marqsam is in the mermaid’s room as is typical.
Sagesse leaves the room and heads to the deck, everyone is now aware of the extent of the damage to the ship.
(Malthus fails his insomnia check. It’ll be another restless night for him.)
Roscius runs across Sagesse and asks, “Can you keep her afloat?”
Sagesse “This is a very large ship, I don’t know if I can do that. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”
Roscius “Perhaps by fixing the holes?”
Malthus comes up to the pair and chimes in, “I don’t think there are even enough materials to fix it even if we could.”
Marqsam, tells Atalonia to start packing her belongings and then goes to pack the Prince’s as well as his own.
The group that is moving about the ship comes across Julius and hears him discussing the situation with some of his crew.
Julius “We’ve eight boats, should be plenty to get us all off. We need at least a couple strong pairs of arms in each boat, so men, try to find a partner. Try to also pick somebody who may not be capable on their own and put together your belongings because I imagine that if this morning is like the several recent that we’ll need the life boats.”
Julius’ crew move to carry out his orders.
Malthus attempts to procure more clothing, wanting to wear something other than his bishop’s robes. He ends up getting additional clothing from Roscius.
Malthus “If you don’t mind I would like to borrow some of your clothes.”
Roscius “Why would you get rid of your bishop’s robes?”
Malthus “I am having doubts of faith.”
Roscius “Remind me to sing you a song later, it’ll be important.”
The group discusses and makes arrangements for their impending departure in the morning aboard the life boat.
Faced with the dilemma as to what to keep and what to pitch, Sagesse decides only to take his research into the nature of the Source with him, painfully leaving behind his two long years of research of Baytown and the Buru religion.
Marqsam makes sure to pack a good amount of mumbaye.
Roscius packs his fretted clavichord in the hopes that there will be enough room for it in their boat.
Among the supplies the parted takes, in addition to their normal belongings are: Additional sail cloth for warmth, coconuts, netting, rum, rope, and a lantern.
Marqsam discusses giving Malthus Aiden’s old saber but Aiden is hesitant to arm the bishop (after witnessing the man’s attack on Sagesse) and concedes to keeping the old blade under his seat bench on the boat so that it is available should it be needed.
The party agrees that there is plenty of room for Roscius’ valuable instrument.
Roscius “If nothing else we can probably sell it. This is a quality instrument. If we get too short on money though I suppose we can use the bag.”
Sagesse “No, we can’t.”
Roscius “Why? Did you find some way to get rid of it?”
Sagesse “Let us just say that some way to get rid of it found us.”
Roscius “So I am confused.”
Malthus “The walking dead came for your bag.”
Roscius “Why would you give it to them?”
Sagesse “They were quite persuasive.”
Malthus “You can’t comment too much as you were off with your merriment.”
Roscius “I really just want to understand, and to be quite honest, I was a little disturbed by it anyway, with the way you give money and it comes right back. Very dishonest. But, I just want to understand.”
Sagesse “And I would like to know more clearly how such an item came into your possession.”
Roscius “I have told you.”
Sagesse “Seems a bit unrealistic, your story.”
Malthus “I believe that by now we have pretty much shared all of our secrets except for you (Roscius).”
Roscius “I have told you my secrets.”
[Traci asks Neil about giving his child chocolate (the answer was no). This broke the group’s current train of thought so the conversation moved on a to their survival needs.]
Marqsam “So what else do we need?”
Roscius “Well, another person to row would be nice. I got this for us,” referring to some extra sail, “This should help protect us from the sun and open ocean.”
Marqsam “Well I guess we really only have three strong rowers, unless you count yourself (Roscius) as one of those.”
Roscius “I will attempt to do my best but I have found that I am not strong enough to keep up with the other side.”
Sagesse breaks from the party to see if he can find Juxlado. He finds the door to Juxlado’s room unlocked and enters. There is no one in Juxlado’s chambers and his ornate cabinet is now nowhere to be found. Sagesse searches himself and finds that he does still possess the items the dark skinned creature had given him.
Sagesse speaks out into the empty room addressing Juxlado, “So, has the one who’d call himself my friend abandoned us?”
Sagesse is greated back with only silence and it would seem that the devilish looking man had indeed abandoned the ship already.
Just to make sure, Sagesse looks about the room with the otherworldly spyglass and sees that in the other world, the walls of this room are black but otherwise empty.
Meanwhile, Malthus continues to scrounge for items that might be useful and grabs the waterproof tarp that was formerly used to cover Sagesse’s trunk.
Marqsam gathers what he feels is enough water to last the group three days at average consumption.
Sagesse heads back to the deck looking around through the spyglass as he goes. The whole ship appears to be made of black wood on the other side and there are more cobwebs about as well. Once on the deck Sagesse looks around some more and notices that along the starboard side of the ship, off in the distance, a shape can be seen. He surmises that it is the ghost ship and then heads back to the row boat.
Sagesse “It would seem that Juxlado has left… From what I could gather from him before though it would seem that he may have had something to fear from that ship so he may have left before it reached us.”
Malthus “We are prepping the boat, so we assume this (the ice) is going to unfreeze?”
Sagesse “I would assume so, it has gotten warmer every other day before.”
Malthus and Sagesse predict there’s about five hours until sunrise. Sagesse decides to get some rest.
The party notices that the party barge only has four people on it, Shunk (and Thunk), the animal trainer and two strong oarsmen. Some of the animal acts are also aboard the large barge including, the lion, the two-headed giraffe, and the zebra.
The elephant with two trunks is allowed to roam free on the lower deck.
[Compress time to just before sunrise.]
Sagesse is well rested but the rest of the party only manages to get about four hours of sleep, and Malthus’ sleep is quite restless.
[New Day on the Calendar – it is the 16th Day of Farris]
[It is determined that Aiden passes his alcoholism check, next check in 7 days.]
Marqsam notices and older gentleman looking through a sextant into the early dawn sky.
Marqsam “How far ‘til land?”
Navigator “This can’t be right, I don’t know yet… just can’t be right…”
Marqsam “What can’t be right?”
Navigator “Well if this is true the Source has blessed us indeed. Looks as though we’ve only got less than two days, regular sail.”
Marqsam “How far is that with decent rowing?”
Navigator “I’ve not rowed much in my life but this barge is not a fast vessel, not much faster than a rowed boat I’d imagine, so a day or two. But we’ve really moved, it may be as little as a day, full sail, from here. Probably two days in the boats.”
Marqsam “Good luck.”
Navigator “Good luck to you as well, we’re all gonna need it.”
Some of the boats are already being lowered down to the ice. Only Roscius still sleeps in his chambers. Aiden takes upon himself to wake the slumbering bard.
Aiden “Come on, we need to get moving, sunrise is soon Roscius.”
Roscius “It is the cold, it saps my strength.”
Aiden “Mine too.”
Aiden gathers a small pack that Marqsam put together for him and double checks that it has everything he might want in it.
Aiden “Come on, you’ve got your stuff?” and heads out the door.
Roscius “Yes I do I’ll be right out.”
Malthus, who was on his way down to check on the bard, runs into Aiden in the hall.
Aiden “We’re headed out,” he says to Malthus.
Malthus “Very well,” he says gathering a bucket off the floor, thinking it might be needed for bailing water.
Aiden heads on up to the deck and Malthus knocks on the door to check on Roscius.
[Knock, Knock, Knock]
Malthus “Are you awake?”
Roscius “Yes I am emptying my chamber pot right now.”
Malthus realizing he may have interrupted the bard during his bodily functions simply says, “Alright,” and moves on.
Everyone finally gathers in the boat and it is lowered down to the ice like all the others. Shortly thereafter the sun peers over the horizon. Immediately everyone can tell there is a change in the ice as the sun starts to shine on it. Quickly a layer of water appears on the surface and Malthus does some postulating, guessing that at the current melting rate everyone would be clear to row in about three hours.
Time continues to pass and the air warms up a little bit. After what seems like two hours, cracks can be heard and seen forming in the ice. More and more cracks form over the next several minutes, occasionally a section will completely free itself from a larger icy mass causing it to jut up quickly from the surface. The party watches in awe and fear as this spectacle continues around them, the cracks and shooting ice masses coming ever closer.
Screams, banging and rattling can be heard coming from the other side of the large ship. The party listens helpless to do anything for the unfortunate sailors on the other side. The party did not have long to ponder the fate of the sailors on the other side before the ice beneath their own row boat began to give way. Roscius and Sagesse sense that the ice is cracking directly beneath them.
Roscius “We need to move! It’s coming up!”
Aiden and Marqsam start frantically pulling at the pulley-ropes to raise their tiny vessel. The boat rises quickly from the surface of the icy ocean but halfway through the ascent Aiden carelessly drops the rope, causing the front of the boat to fall as the rope, unmanned, whizzes through the pulley. Marqsam quickly tries to compensate for the prince’s grave mistake by allowing his own rope to slip some, lowering his side as well. Roscius and Sagesse attempt to grab at the rope and Sagesse, full of youthful vigor, springs up before Roscius’ old bones can barely get out of his seat. Sagesse manages to grab the rope while wedging his own foot under the nearest bench stopping the front end’s decent.
The sudden stop causes those who weren’t manning the ropes to lose their balance. Malthus steadies himself by grabbing the rail. Aiden and Atalonia similarly manage to catch themselves. Roscius, who had already committed himself towards the rope, is carried over the front end of the life boat by his own momentum and clumsiness. Roscius falls to the ice as do some of the items that were stowed in the boat [the mumbaye and Atalonia’s chest]. The jagged ice rips a nasty wound into the bard’s left leg [2 pts of damage].
Roscius, from his new perspective, can see that a pillar of ice is rising into the bottom of the boat.
Roscius “Go Up!”
Sagesse continues to pull up the ship but the boy’s small frame is unable to do so rapidly.
Marqsam “Aiden! Help Sagesse!”
Aiden starts to help Sagesse while Malthus tries to help Roscius.
Aiden and Sagesse are not able to coordinate their efforts well causing their side of the boat to rise slower than Marqsam’s and Marqsam is forced to slow his ascent.
The party feels a bump on the bottom of the boat from the pillar of ice coming from the ocean beneath them.
[The boat is about 6 feet above Roscius’ head at this point]
Malthus tosses a rope down to the bard who manages to grab hold of the lifeline.
The another life raft close to the party can be seen having similar issues with three men in the boat trying to pull back in five who have fallen out. Julius is among those on the ice.
The men manning the pulleys continue to try and raise the boat off the ice but are unable to do so, the ice now forces the boat to tilt onto its side toward the ocean.
The sudden shift of the boat starts to send Atalonia over the edge of the boat. Marqsam instinctively grabs Atalonia with one hand and holds onto the pulley-rope with the other. Atalonia recovers but Marqsam can now see that his precious Mumbaye has fallen into the water below.
Aiden lost his footing from the sudden impact causing him to fall he catches himself hanging from the side of the boat, his arms wrapped around the edge of the ship. He next to Malthus and manages to grab a hold of the rope that the bishop had thrown down to Roscius and tries to climb back in.
Malthus strains but manages to keep his footing and hold on the rope, even with the weight of two men now dangling on it.
Marqsam “Roscius! Can you get the Mumbaye while you are down there!”
Roscius “Don’t worry, it did not hit me!”
Knowing that things will likely get worse if the pillar of ice continues to rise, Sagesse tries to focus the energy of the Source at the base of the pillar, trying to melt it.
Sagesse manages to call forth flames, similar to the ones cast during the conflict with the ghost ship, and encompasses the base of the icy pillar with supernatural flames. Roscius can see the flames coming out of the pillar itself just below his feet and concern washes over him as he begins to feel their warmth.
Aiden, who is on the rope above the bard, loses his grip and slides down the rope landing a solid boot on the poor, old, bard’s head. Fortune, having seemed to have completely abandoned the poor bard, loses his grip and falls into a place where both water and fire currently coexist.
With his head still above the water, Roscius screams in agony as the intense heat from the flames burns at his skin. A cracking sound can be heard from the pillar of ice and it starts to tilt outward towards the open ocean, which, as luck would have it this day, is where the misfortunate minstrel fell into the icy waters.
Marqsam works on taking out any slack in the ropes so that the life raft does not swing about violently when the pillar of ice is no longer supporting the boat in midair.
Sagesse, realizing his companion has fallen into his spell, dissipates the unnatural flames as quickly as he and brought them forth.
Malthus continues to hold the rope that is Aiden and Roscius’ only current means back into the boat.
Aiden manages to climb up the rope some but is still about 2 feet below Malthus’ perch on the ship.
Roscius, not realizing yet that the flames have been extinguished, forces himself under the surface of the frigid waters. After a moment under the water he realizes that the fire is no more, the cold water offering some relief to the burns he had sustained. [2 pts of damage]
Marqsam continues to make adjustments to the ropes and notices the ship is starting to be pulled away from the carnival ship by the pillar that is leaning more and more towards the open ocean. Realizing that only Atalonia and Sagesse are free to man the second pulley system he shouts for the prince.
Marqsam “Aiden, get up here and help!”
Roscius swims over towards the mumbaye to use it to help him float.
Sagesse grabs the second pulley but there is still a great deal of slack to work out of it.
Aiden climbs back into the boat with a little help from Malthus and immediately starts to help Sagesse with the rope.
Roscius makes it to the bundle of mumbaye and notices Atalonia’s chest as well. He quickly contemplates his options for avoiding the pillar looming overhead, soon to topple over on him.
Aiden once again drops the rope but Sagesse, who was helping, takes over on the pulley and with Marqsam’s help on the other rope the small craft is now stable.
Roscius manages to swim out of harm’s way but the party back in the boat did not see where he when. As the pillar of ice crashes down, it appears to everyone in the boat that Roscius was crushed to death.
With the pillar no longer supporting the life boat, the small vessel swings back into the carnival ship with a resounding thud. The ship stops swinging and everyone recovers, immediately focused on finding the bard. Malthus hauls up the rope and dives into the icy water below [failing his swimming check]. He does not resurface as quickly as the party had expected and now concern is directed towards Malthus’ survival as well.
Roscius, having noticed Malthus’ decent, comes out from behind a block of ice and swims to aid his would be savior.
Aiden and Marqsam start to lower the ship and Sagesse casts out the rope towards where he saw Malthus enter the water.
Roscius heads first to the rope. As he reaches the rope, everyone finally sees Malthus resurface from the freezing ocean about ten yards away from Roscius. Malthus swims for the rope quickly before the cold water saps him of his strength.
The bard tries to climb the rope but finds that ice waters have robbed him of his strength and feeling in his hands.
Malthus seeing the bard’s struggles yells, “Can you pull him in if I tie the rope around him?”
Marqsam “We’re coming down!”
Malthus “Oh, well let us get out of the way then!”
The party settles their life boat on the surface of the water and hauls in their cold, fatigued comrades. Looking around they see that their small ship is now in what appears to be a tiny lake of unfrozen water. The nearest iceberg is about 20 yards way.
Now that the ship has halted its decent the party can see that the larger vessel next to them is sinking at a slow and steady pace. The party frees their craft from the slowly sinking ship.
Thanks to Roscius, the party recovers both the Mumbaye and Atalonia’s chest from the ocean, they also pick up an extra oar that floated by their ship.
The other life boats that the party can see are similarly gathering their crews and any floating belongings they can.
Julius, now back in his row boat cries out an alert to everyone within earshot.
Julius “Row away from the boat!”
Sagesse “We should definitely try to keep up with them,” pointing at Julius’ ship, “because we really don’t know where we are going.”
Aiden “Yeah, I say we follow them.”
[Some time compression as all the boats recover]
After Roscius falls asleep, Sagesse attempts to tend to his wounds, feeling somewhat guilty, being the cause of some of them. His mind is clouded however and he fails to make the proper calculations and is mentally stunned from the effort. [Critical failure, 9 rolled and is mentally stunned]
Later on in the day, as things settle down, Sagesse manages to properly focus the energy of the Source and heals the bard’s injuries.
After a couple of hours, [around noon] the weather turns more indicative of the climate, becoming hot and humid.
Throughout the day the group rows on doing their best to keep up with the rest of the group but are falling behind. They are able to keep Julius and his men’s boats in their sight. The party notices that the party barge behind them is struggling just to keep up with the party and is a similar distance from the party as the party is from Julius’ group.
The party comes up with a rotation system for manning the oars to help them keep from falling further behind the main group. (This does little for the party barge which is getting farther behind)
Marqsam “Do you hear something behind us?”
Roscius “Behind you or behind me?” he asks, as they each faced one another, Marqsam rowing and Roscius on the tiller.
Marqsam “Towards the back of the boat, perhaps from the barge?”
Sagesse “It would seem that the animals are going crazy on the party barge.”
Malthus “That would be bad. We can go back and try to help but I don’t think we’d be very useful.”
Roscius “Or we can look to see if something ahead of us is causing them to go crazy.”
Roscius looks to the sky to make sure there aren’t any large birds flying around, like the ones encountered by the party at the keep, but none can be seen.
The party barge grows more distant as it appears that the commotion has caused them to stop rowing. The party is faced with a dilemma. Should they try to help the people on the barge or continue rowing on?
Malthus acting as a voice of reason says, “Realistically I don’t think we can get back there in time.”
Sagesse “The math doesn’t add up. If we go back there, there is not much we can do for them anyway.”
Aiden “I don’t think we can either. I say we keep going.”
Sagesse “I hate to say it but it is true, I must bow to logic. May the Source bless them.”
[Compress time to just before sunset]
The party has fallen further behind the main group but has kept a better pace with their oarsman rotation.
[Note: Thus far all of the life boats have managed to survive.]
Before the sun sets, Sagesse looks about with Juxlado’s spyglass and can see the ship off in the distance, too far to be certain of any details.
Sagesse “There is a good chance it will get cold tonight. I can see the ship off in the distance.”
Roscius “Does it look like the same ship?”
Sagesse “It is too far to tell for certain but I know it is not of this world.”
Malthus “So what else do we have that they want?”
Marqsam notes, “The first couple of nights we saw that ship it got cold but did not freeze.”
Roscius “But as they drew closer it got progressively colder.”
Marqsam “But now they are further away though.”
Sagesse “I still anticipate that it will be bitterly cold tonight.”
Marqsam “I say we keep rowing. The closer we get to land the better.”
Malthus “Are we leading them to land? I mean, they seem to stick by us for some reason.”
Roscius “Do we have any other magic items in our midst?”
Sagesse “This shackle.”
Roscius “Where did you get your shackle?”
Sagesse “It was given to me by the Cardinal. It is supposed to release when I have done what I need to do to attain bishophood. There was no indication that they (the undead creatures) wanted it.”
Roscius “So if I understand you correctly you just handed them the bag, they said ‘thanks,’ and then left?”
Sagesse “They didn’t leave until I threw the ring overboard.”
Malthus “They may now have the ring and the bag and are coming back for whatever reason.”
Roscius “But did they leave, like ‘ok bye,’ or did they go after the ring and we got away.”
Sagesse “Once they realized they could not get the ring they went back on their ship and the ship immediately began to drift away.”
Roscius “Ok, seems like if they don’t have what they want, they’ve no reason to think that we have it.”
Sagesse “Their proximity will make it cold tonight.”
Aiden “It might be that the cold doesn’t really have anything to do with how close they are.”
Marqsam “Seemed like it though.”
Roscius “It is awfully coincidental.”
Aiden “It did seem like it.”
Marqsam “In either case we are all going to get cold tonight.”
Aiden “Perhaps the reason we couldn’t see them before is because this crossing over that Sagesse speaks of hadn’t happened yet.”
Sagesse “I am sure we will get some answers shortly,” he says looking towards the sun setting in the distance.
Marqsam “Row harder.”
The party barge is at the very edge of the group’s vision come night fall, just a tiny speck on the horizon. A cold wind blows across the ship as the last of the precious sun falls below the horizon.
Much of the party groans, tired from the long day of rowing, and to exacerbate things, the boat become more difficult to row as the water around the boat starts to turn to icy sludge.
Malthus “Look through your pockets and make sure you have nothing these foul creatures want.”
Aiden “I’ve got a pirate’s sword, but it’s not one of theirs.”
Roscius “We have not looked in the chest,” referring to Atalonia’s chest.
Roscius grabs Atalonia’s chest. She briefly protests but is comforted by Marqsam.
Roscius explains in her language, “We are being followed by the supernatural and we are just checking to make sure we have nothing that they want.”
Atalonia “I have nothing.”
Roscius “Good! Then we have no problems,” he opens the chest and asks, “Sagesse, can you scan for magic items.”
Sagesse focuses his insight of the nature of the Source on the contents of the box. A small bag of stones catches his attention and strikes him as special, but not quite magical and after further analysis surmises that, though not magical per se, these stones are what allows her to breathe water.
Sagesse “They appear to be a natural means of allowing one to breath water.”
Roscius “They may want one of us.”
Malthus “They might want one of you! (Marqsam or Roscius) Because the rest of us were deck when they came.”
Sagesse “If they wanted to take someone they certainly had the means to do so.”
Marqsam “I would think that if they wanted anyone it would be Aiden and he was on deck too.”
Malthus “And we could not… We tried to attack them and it was pretty useless.”
Sagesse “I wonder if they follow Juxlado.”
Aiden “Did you feel your blows fell as strongly as they might have?” (at Malthus)
Malthus “I don’t believe they did.”
Aiden “I had trouble when I dove on them. It almost felt like they weren’t there.”
Malthus “Yes they were ‘half’ there.”
Malthus “No, ethereal would mean they have no substance. These things had semi-substance for lack of a better term.”
Aiden “I wonder if it has something to do with…” [he never finishes this thought]
Marqsam jokes, “Do you think you could convince them to raise the temperature a little bit?” (to Sagesse)
Sagesse “I doubt they would listen.”
The sludge grows to thick to row so Marqsam and Aiden bring in their oars. The others just stop rowing and continue talking.
Malthus “I still feel like we are leading them.”
[Everyone is talking at once, unintelligible, but the consensus is that we have no real options at the moment.]
Roscius, noticing that some of the group has brought in their oars, attempts to pull his oar in only to find it stuck fast in solid ice. [Malthus’ oar is stuck as well]
Roscius “Do not put your oars in the ice!”
Marqsam who had his on his lap, “Shouldn’t be a problem we already took ours out.”
Malthus “Well we either wait for morning or walk and hope we make land by morning.”
Roscius “I don’t think we will make land by morning.”
There is some general discussion of the probably hardships of crossing the ice on foot.
Sagesse “We can at the very least make it to the other boats to see how close we are to land and then make the assessment as to whether to continue on foot.”
Malthus “Worst case scenario, we hope that we can make it back?” (to our boat)
Roscius “Yes, if we walk out we hope that we can walk back.”
Malthus “If we are not close enough to land of course.”
Sagesse estimates they are about two and a half miles behind the ships ahead of them. The party continues to discuss time estimates and such for the journey to the other boats for a few more minutes.
Malthus (to Sagesse) “Would you mind prodding at the ice to see how solid it is?”
Sagesse leans over to place his staff in the water and it taps firmly against the surface.
Sagesse “It is firm.”
Roscius “When it is so solid that we can’t punch through I’d say it is strong enough to walk on, at least for Sagesse.”
Sagesse holds firmly to the side of the boat as he steps out onto the ice and find it to be solid beneath his feet.
Malthus “Jump up and down, that would be about Aiden’s weight.”
Sagesse looks out into the distance where he had seen the ghost ship before and can still see it this evening. No closer, no further away, as if it were keeping a precise distance from the group.
There is more discussion about the eerie ship and its purpose and about the boats ahead of them. The party starts to wonder if they too will try to go ahead on foot.
The party steps out of the boat and decide to try and free it from the frozen sea. They free the boat but the tiller is frozen deeper into the ice. With the boat free of the ice the party feels confident it will not be crushed by the freezing ice like the carnival ship.
Everyone heads out to towards the other boats bundled in their clothes, sails and blankets for warmth. They carry the gear they feel is most important in case they decide to press on to land on foot.
[It takes 2.5 hrs to get to the ships but on the way…]
Halfway to the other ships Sagesse looks again for the ghost ship to see that it has maintained its distance, maybe even closed the distance a little, even as they walk.
Roscius “We might as well have a song.”
Marqsam “A marching song?”
Roscius “Yes, it just came to me this morning, which means it is timely.”
Marqsam “A marching song came to you this morning?”
Aiden jokes, “I don’t have to pay you for this do I?” (laughing)
Roscius “This one I must explain is in the tone of Lehmer which as the prince knows is always sung with hints of exaggeration without exaggerating the whole song.”
Marqsam “Is it 99 bottles of rum on the wall?”
The party shares a laugh and as the merriment subsides Roscius breaks into song, “The Source is the Way.”
Marqsam after the song is over, “Ok, that was short, not a very good marching song.”
Roscius “It is important to note that this, for some reason, consumes my mind and that when I sing it it is in the tone of Lehmer, which is to exaggerate.”
Marqsam “To exaggerate?”
Marqsam “So your song was an exaggeration.”
Marqsam “So kingdoms aren’t necessarily going to fall but perhaps face unrest.”
Roscius “Well I think this second song will help a bit”
Roscius breaks into another song, “One Faith to Choose.”
Roscius turns to Malthus, “You said you want to know secrets, well here is mine. I know all the songs in the world as they are written.”
Marqsam “And here I thought you just started working for the priesthood.”
Roscius “These songs are new. The language is still Capesian but the person who is writing it is singing with an accent of Estevalian. That would put it somewhere between Porte de Mundos or …”
Marqsam “You actually hear people singing in your head?”
Roscius “No but I hear the accent in which it is written.”
Marqsam “You are just a little weird Roscius.”
Sagesse “How do you feel about that song Malthus?”
Malthus “I am not sure.”
Roscius (in response to Marqsam) “Well when you are to be as old as I am …”
Marqsam makes a crude summary of the song, “The Source is good, the Source is great, all hail the Source. Same stuff I heard all the time in church.”
Roscius “I figured this would give us something to talk about as we walk… the whole use of force to change people’s minds.”
Malthus “Isn’t that standard?”
Sagesse “That is somewhat in opposition of goodly ways.”
Roscius “And the song seemed to me to say that there are no other options. You do it or you don’t do it. You must worship the Source or you must worship the Source.”
Malthus “Right, but it also mentions heathens and I do no think the kingdom of Westend was heathen.”
Roscius “No, but Seyco was.”
Marqsam “So you are saying the church is going out and converting people by force?”
Sagesse “And who is to say these ‘heathens’ are in the wrong. I would not say that the islanders where we just came from are morally deficient. They may call the Source by another name but it is still the Source that they are worshiping.”
Malthus “Just because these songs come to you doesn’t mean any of the information is true.”
Marqsam “It doesn’t mean it means anything. He just said he knows every song in the world.”
Sagesse “It would seem to lend some credence to the encoded message that we received.”
Roscius “And the fact that the two are being written at the same time… hey, the encoded message?!” (surprised) “Ok, since we are revealing all secrets, as someone (Malthus) had told me earlier, what was the encoded message?”
Sagesse “That the church has … let me see,” as he digs for the letter in his bag.
Marqsam “So we are putting everything on the table now, huh?”
Malthus “We pretty much have.”
Sagesse “Anything you’d care to add Marqsam?”
Malthus “You (Marqsam) were not in the room when everything was laid out on the table.”
Roscius “Never in all my years have I ever told anyone else that.” (That he knows every song)
Malthus “Since you two were not there I informed them that I had been sent by the church to stop the end of the world, which the prince and/or Sagesse were to bring about.”
Marqsam “You had told me as much.”
There is silence amongst the party for a minute.
Marqsam “Aiden knew that you were supposed to kill him?”
Malthus “He was at the disclosure.”
Roscius “That you were to kill Aiden and Sagesse?”
Malthus “Well after I failed I thought it best to tell everything because there were doubts that arose… but we still think that Sagesse was a demon worshiper.”
Roscius “But you don’t think this anymore?”
Malthus “Doubts have arisen, that is all I can say and I gave my word that no harm will come to him (Sagesse).”
Sagesse finally finds the letter amongst all of his notes and reads to them the second hidden message.
Marqsam “Poor ruler?”
Malthus “The king.”
Malthus “So with all the information that came out it seems as if my mission wasn’t necessarily with the best intentions.”
Roscius “Is the Cardinal as high as you can get in the Source’s religion?”
Roscius “There is no one over the Cardinal?”
Malthus “Not to my knowledge.”
Sagesse “I do not believe that your attempt on my life was the first by the church. I suspect the first attempt was at ‘the test’ itself.”
Malthus “We do have another problem though …”
Aiden cuts in, “Your test?”
Sagesse “Yes, I took the test for bishophood like the others. I was unable to solve the problem that was given to me. The problem seemed to have an infinite number of solutions. I may have been given an unsolvable problem and left to die under the waves.”
Malthus repeats himself, “There is also another problem. Well … the church has risen an army called ‘The Order of the Scimitar’ of which, I was the leader.”
Sagesse truly shocked, “What!”
Marqsam “So they are converting people by force.”
Sagesse “So it would seem there are still secrets unspoken.”
Malthus “It was, as I was told, to protect against the coming of the end of the world that was prophesized.”
Marqsam “I still don’t understand why they would have … are you (Sagesse) sure about that message from the Cardinal?”
Malthus “It wasn’t from the Cardinal, but his scribe.”
Aiden “That is also a huge coincidence if that wasn’t what it said.”
Marqsam “Ok, this is what I don’t understand.”
Malthus “I’m not sure we’ll have answers but shoot.”
Marqsam “The king was a good person, why would he be deposed?”
Malthus “I would guess that, and this is speculation, that the Cardinal wishes all power.”
Sagesse “That would have been my first guess, while the king is indeed a good man, he’s likely not one who would just relinquish his control.”
Roscius “He is very popular with the masses. A marriage between Christiana and his son would have created the largest army in the world … largest yet.”
Aiden “So why would he let me marry her?”
Malthus “Because it would have made a larger army.”
Aiden “I was thinking about my father.”
Roscius “You are not the heir.”
Aiden “That’s true.” [He does have an older brother in the new world]
Marqsam “So you think the church is setting this up?”
Malthus “I do not know, but presuming all of that is true, how does the undead crossing over work into all of this? Is that just coincidence?”
Marqsam “Your (Aiden’s) father believed in the Source did he not?”
Aiden “As much as I.”
Malthus “As much as all.”
Aiden protests, “Hey, I’m a Source fairing man! I’m a good guy, aren’t I Sagesse.”
Sagesse “When you are sober.”
Roscius “Perhaps it is not he who it to be beset with power, perhaps it is Christiana, because of the title Empress Maybourne I mentioned.” (In Song)
Malthus “I recall a song of yours that mentioned something like that.”
Aiden “Assumed power?”
Aiden “I know her, she is a sweet girl.”
Malthus “People can be pushed.”
Roscius “People can be manipulated.”
Sagesse “And coerced.”
Roscius “Perhaps they are using her against you?”
Malthus “This is all speculation.”
The conversation makes the journey across the ice pass quickly and takes the party’s minds off the cold. The party draws within shouting distance of the boats and can see a few lanterns and even a campfire burning.
Soon the party reaches the encampment and the sailors seem happy to see the troupe, especially Roscius, a few of them calling out his name and requesting a song.
Roscius yells back, “I am too tired from having to walk several miles because you left us behind!”
Sailor shouts out, “I’ll give you the last of my pay!”
Another Sailor barks back, “That ain’t much!” referring to the amount offered to the bard.
Roscius “We will see. I must talk to the captain.”
The party makes their way to the boat at the front of the formation and sees a group of men sitting along the rail of the craft facing each other, apparently engrossed in some sort of ghost story. As the party come out of the darkness one of the sailors is startled and shouts out causing the others on the boat to laugh at his expense.
Roscius “There is no reason to temp the spirits for they already walk the night.”
Marqsam “Surprisingly good humored considering the circumstances.”
Julius stands and greets the party, “How do you all?”
Sagesse “A little tired but we had to come see how much closer we are to land.”
Julius “We’ve not yet sighted it but we’ve made great progress.”
Sagesse “Any guess as to the distance?”
Julius “We should make land some time tomorrow.”
Sagesse “Would it be feasible to walk that far tonight?”
Julius “I wouldn’t want to try it,” he turns to the navigator, “it’d be a real risk don’t you think?”
Navigator “I’m not doing it. My guess is it’ll take just as long to walk it as it would to wait for the ice to melt and row it. Sometime tomorrow afternoon probably.”
Roscius “We will not be able to follow you if you keep so far ahead of us and the only thing keeping the barge with you is them being able to see us.”
Julius “Yeah, they are a ways back, are they alright?”
Roscius “We did not go back to check on them, we came to see you first.”
Julius “We are just looking forward to tomorrow.”
Roscius “Can I see the charts and the plottings?”
Marqsam “I think the safe bet is to go back to the boat.”
Sagesse “Is it the safe bet? The ice will thaw as it did this morning.”
Roscius “Yes but we are not coming from up high.”
Sagesse “You are right, we’ll be sitting on it as it breaks and shatters.”
Julius “Is about half a day’s row to Freheit Island. Our original plan was to go there for glass.”
Roscius “How far is it from Freheit Island to the mainland?”
Julius “You could make it in a day in a sailing ship.”
[Stopped recording and started a new one at this point. Some conversation my have been lost but not much, if any.]
Malthus “It was pretty risky with the ice melted.”
Roscius “Yes but from what he (Navigator) is saying we would be walking, the ice would melt, and we would still be walking in order to get to land. I was looking at the charts, we are still a ways away.”
Aiden “I like the idea of going forward. I like the feeling of moving forward, I don’t know…”
Roscius “I don’t like being in the middle of the ocean when it melts, especially without a boat.”
Aiden “I wish we hadn’t left it behind. I still think we could have gotten it out of the ice. Then we’d have something to carry forward with us and we’d be further ahead.”
Sagesse “It would have slowed us down though.”
Aiden “At least we’d be closer to the group. As it is, we’ll get back and have only enough time to sleep.”
Atalonia manages to deduce what the party is talking about by their tone and gesturing and asks, “What about my chest?” (in her language)
Malthus (to Roscius) “Do you know which way we need to go?”
Roscius “Yes, almost due north. If we miss the island we should hit the mainland within two days.”
Sagesse “Is it possible to walk to land tonight?”
Roscius “If we are where he (Navigator) says we are then no, I don’t think we will make it.”
Sagesse “Very well, we’ve no choice but to return to the boat.”
Aiden “I was listening, it sounded to me like we could make it.”
Roscius “What he said, and I have an ear for this, is that it would take as long to walk there as it would for the ice to melt and row.
Sagesse “But we don’t have to wait for the ice to melt to start walking there.”
Roscius “Yes, we would walk until the ice melts then we would still have to walk as long as it would take to row, only then we have no ice to walk on. It is about 25 to 35 miles depending on how accurate this map is.”
The priests calculate the odds of success continuing the journey on foot and both determine the odds are not good enough to take the risk. Everyone concedes this fact.
Roscius “Besides, the rum and mumbaye are back in the boat.”
Aiden “You know you make a great point. Alright, if we are going then lets just go!”
Roscius manages to get some warm meat from some of the sailors in trade for some apples and the party has something warm to eat on their way back to their life boat.
[Compress time, the party is back at their boat.]
[No one keeps a watch but Sagesse is only asleep for four hours. There are no incidents through the night.]
[Malthus succeeds at his insomnia check and can sleep well this evening, next check in 1 week.]
Sagesse, as usual, wakes before everyone else and sets about chiseling at the tiller to try and free it from the ice. With a few hours of effort he manages to free both the tiller as well as one of the oars.
It is just before sunrise and Sagesse looks out to see where the ghost ship is and see it is but a couple miles away, closer to the group. Sagesse is now much more certain that this is indeed the same ship they had encountered before.
[New day on the Calendar – it is the 17th day of Faris]
The first rays of light break the horizon and Sagesse immediately hears cracking in the ice.
Sagesse “Get up guys, get up!”
Everyone quickly readies themselves as a crack is forming and heading towards the boat.
Sagesse “Push the boat!”
Aiden jumps out quickly ready to push, “Away from the crack or towards it?”
Sagesse “Away from it!”
Aiden “I say we head for it!”
Sagesse “I err on the side of caution, AWAY from it!”
Marqsam grabs his oar but does not exit the boat.
Aiden “Everyone out!”
Marqsam “Out? Everyone in the boat! The ice is breaking up!”
Sagesse “We do not want to be right on a crack!”
With Aiden and Sagesse the only ones outside the boat no progress is immediately made.
Aiden “Roscius, come on! OUT!”
Roscius quickly gets out and starts to push.
Marqsam “What exactly are we trying to do here?”
Aiden “The crack! Its straight for us!”
As if to emphasize the prince’s point, the crack spreads up to and under the boat. Everyone jumps out and starts moving the boat. Aiden, Roscius and Marqsam push from one side while Malthus, Sagesse, and Atalonia pull from the other. The three men pushing manage to get the boat and themselves over the crack that had formed.
No sooner does the party move the ship to safety then another crack begins to form and head for them from behind. The party manages to adjust their momentum and avoids the new crack.
The party manages to position the boat in the center of a large mass of ice, one that they hope won’t shoot out of the water unless cracks and breaks some more. Several minutes pass without incident to the party as they watch the icy carnage around them.
Suddenly a large crack forms in the distance on their iceberg and the party sees at first what they perceive to be a large section of ice come up only to realize that it is their section of ice that is sinking into the ocean.
Instinctively the party jumps back into the boat and as the water starts to rush in around them the group, primarily with Malthus’ help, deftly rights the boat to float on the liquid surface.
[Compress time for 3 hours as the burgs melt and drift away and the party can safely move on]
Sagesse checks periodically and sees that the ghost ship maintains its 2 mile distance from the party as they row to Freheit Island.
The party manages to close the distance between them and the main group. There are few boats with two of them having been lost in the carnage. Their recovery efforts had slowed them down allowing the party to catch up with Julius and his men.
[Compress time for several hours to about 3 p.m.]
After hours of rowing the party hears ahead of them celebrations and cries of “Land Ho!” and after more rowing the party can make out a large white tower coming out of the water. As they grow even closer, everyone can see more of these steeple-like structures on the island ahead of them. The towers seem to glisten in the sunlight as if filled with diamonds.
Sagesse and Roscius are the first to notice a sleek ship [Egyptian Slooth?] that appears to be coming closer to the life boats. It does not look like a pirate vessel but definitely appears to be on an intercept course.
Looking back, there is still no sign of the party barge behind them.
The large ship intercepts Julius’ boats as the party is again lagging behind due to their lack of muscle behind the oars. The party can see men in brass armor on the deck addressing people on the boats.
Malthus “Do you think we can bypass this ship?”
Sagesse “I don’t see that we have anything to fear from them.”
As the party gets closer to the other life boats murmurs pass amongst them and eventually to the party.
Sailor “They are asking for representatives of the Source.”
Marqsam “What are they asking to do with them?”
Sailor “They are just asking.”
Another Sailor yells, “They are asking for representatives of the Source.”
Marqsam yells back, “What for!?”
Guessing that Julius has already informed the armored men that he was a priest of the Source, Sagesse calls out, “I am a representative of the Source,” when they are closer to the sleek ship.
There are six men visible on deck. All are clad in brass armor and helmets that look like crowns. The flag hoisted up the mast is of no nation that anyone in the group recognizes. Sagesse however determines it to be religious in origin, the footprints on the flag making it indicative of an order that follows a prophet.
A rope ladder is tossed down and a man with a thick accent tells Sagesse, “Well come right on, come this way.”
Sagesse turns to everyone on the life raft, “Well do we all go up?”
Everyone seems eager to be done with the rowing and move in behind Sagesse.
Two men at the top of the ladder help Sagesse aboard.
Sagesse “Many thanks, we are quite weary.”
Each of the men who had been so kind as to help Sagesse aboard the ship now seize him by each arm firmly.
The armored man who has done all of the talking [later found out to be the commander] turns to Julius.
Commander “You have given us but an acolyte, but what do you wish?”
Julius “We are just looking for safe harbor, what do you mean?”
Commander turns to Sagesse, “We have a place of honor ready for him this evening.”
Marqsam gestures to Aiden suggesting that they should probably head up the ladder to help Sagesse.
Sagesse “Do not harm the others for they do not follow such as myself.”
Commander “Oh that’s been cleared up. You are the only one who represents the Source here is that correct?”
Sagesse seeing Malthus top the ladder says, “Stay behind. All of you.”
Commander also seeing Malthus, “Oh, you are a representative of the Source as well?”
Malthus “I have been.”
Commander laughs and says, “Well that is good enough.”
Two more soldiers quickly seize Malthus and the Commander notices Marqsam and Aiden heading up the ladder as well.
Commander “Whoa, whoa, whoa, now. Are you all representatives of the Source?”
Malthus “We (him and Sagesse) are together.”
Sagesse “They are not representatives of the Source, just let them go.”
Marqsam “No, they’d never let me be a representative of the Source.”
Malthus, as much a strategic fighter as a mathematician, surveys the opposition and sees a total of 9 men on deck. Six are clad in the bronze scale mail and carry very large scimitars on their back. The blades are so long that they can not be effectively carried at the waist. There are also three men in more ‘merchant-ly’ attire.
Sagesse “Well I would imagine you all do not worship the Source and this man (Malthus) has renounced his faith so you should let him go as well.”
Commander “Well we have a test for that, unfortunately for you all you have arrived at a time of war. STAY!” he quickly shouts at Marqsam who is still climbing the rope ladder.
Roscius “But it is cold down here and we are wet.”
Commander “You will stay! Down!”
Malthus “Hurry, what is your test.”
Commander “It is not really so much of a test, just a swearing.”
Malthus offers the man a crude Capesian swear.
The commander, displeased by the insult, swings a vicious backhand at the restrained man hitting him firmly in the face. [3 pts of damage] He then moves over to the rope ladder raising his boot to kick down anyone foolish enough to try to climb to the top. The remaining free soldier steps over to the ladder as well and draws his enormous blade. The weapon looks long enough to strike a man six feet away and those who see it think that the strength required to wield such weapon must indeed be great as it is very cumbersome.
Sagesse “I have willingly surrendered, let the others go.”
Commander points and shouts a Julius, “You Sir! Tell your men to desist! You’ve come in a time of war!”
Julius “I would do as he says, just a suggestion. We’ve just come for safe harbor. We’ve been through these seas, you know how it has been.”
Commander “Yes, we know all about it.”
Marqsam, brazen as ever, continues to climb the ladder while the commander is distracted by Julius, even using the man’s raised boot to help him climb aboard. Marqsam manages to get a foot on the deck and springs himself aboard in a graceful, acrobatic manner. The armed solder takes a swing at Marqsam.
[Marqsam fails his dodge but spends a character point to re-roll, not wanting to find out how devastating the oversized scimitars can be, his re-roll is a success.]
Marqsam manages to dive and roll between his opponents legs coming up behind the man facing his back.
The large man uses the momentum of his blade to carry him around to face the nimble Marqsam.
Roscius attempts to use his rapier wit to catch the soldiers off guard shouting, “Has the bishop climbed over the back side yet?” A few of the men are distracted and look over to that side of the ship expecting men to start climbing over the rail.
Sagesse “Marqsam, the rest you, leave. Just get off the ship.”
Aiden begins to climb the ladder.
Marqsam raises his hands, steps back from the armed soldier, and takes a defensive posture saying, “Are you saying you are opposed to giving us a ride?”
The soldier answers him back in a language he doesn’t understand. He then points his long blade at Marqsam placing the tip against his unarmored chest.
The commander draws his blade as well now as Aiden continues to climb towards him.
Marqsam takes his index finger and pushes the giant blade to the side slowly.
The soldier facing off with Marqsam brings his other hand to the hilt and forces the weapon’s tip back to the center of Marqsam’s chest.
The commander makes a quick motion with his giant blade and severs the ropes holding the ladder to the deck sending Aiden falling back into the life boat.
Roscius falls over into the center of the boat.
Commander shouts to everyone, “Stay where you are!” and after a few moments continues, “If you swear your allegiance to the Prophet Lineus then you will have safe harbor.”
Commander “Otherwise you must go around and leave your representatives of the Source with us.”
Sagesse “The Prophet Lineus?”
Commander “Yes.” (firmly)
Sagesse “Do you refer to Linus?”
Commander “I said Lineus.”
Malthus “I have never heard of him.”
Commander (to Sagesse) “Linus is a prophet of the Source.”
Sagesse “Ahh, the names were just so similar.”
Sagesse is impressed that this commander would even know of the Source’s prophet Linus as most who believe in the Source are most often unaware of the obscure and rarely taught of prophet.
Julius looks around and shouts, “I swear my allegiance to the Prophet Lineus!”
Seeing their captain take the pledge several men can be heard making the same pledge. Marqsam similarly raises his hand and mumble unintelligible words pretending to take the oath as well. The soldier in front of him lowers his weapon to the ground even though he had no idea what Marqsam had said.
Commander (to Julius) “Your men may go,” he says, pointing to the harbor.
Marqsam moves over to where the ladder used to be, “Alright, I’ll see you at the harbor then.”
Marqsam comes face to face with the commander.
Commander “You swear your allegiance to the Prophet Lineus?”
Marqsam “Yep, just said I did.”
Commander “Go right ahead,” he says motioning towards the party’s life boat with one arm and pushing the unsuspecting man overboard with the other.
Marqsam takes the momentum from the commanders push and somersaults in the air, landing back in his boat; steadying himself as the boat rocks vigorously but doesn’t capsize.
End of Session
Secret time events
Sagesse meets with Juxlado alone – the demon reveals the location of the spyglass and a document and makes Sagesse feel welcome to them. He then takes the young priest to a secret place where the spyglass can be used to see the past.
Malthus sees Sagesse walking about the boat, but Sagesse is unaware of his presence. Malthus follows Sagesse to Juxlado’s chamber and watches him enter. He waits outside until Sagesse emerges. Malthus follows Sagesse back to the upper deck.
Aiden sees a ghostly ship with a gruesome secret. He awakes from the dream in a tumult of water and hay on his chamber floor. The prince will need a change of garb.
End of Secret time events
[Recording begins after summary of previous session had been stated]
Aiden “Do you have any extra clothing?”
Sagesse “I have a spare robe.”
Malthus “The prince has wet himself somehow” (laughing).
Sagesse “All right then.”
Malthus “I have a robe I think also,” he said referring to the one ripped by the lion.
Sagesse “My robe is in our room.”
Shunk (To Aiden) “Did you by chance stave the flow? Else we might all get wet.”
Aiden “Naaah, I was… too concerned about getting out.” (The prince sounded less clear headed than he had the previous morning).
Malthus “Yes, I think we are sinking now.” (Malthus parted with them to descend the stairs and retrieve a dry robe for Aiden, and the prince joined him)
Sagesse (To Shunk) “Do you know how far away from port we are?”
Shunk “Trice should be the days, but I know not because of the odd winds.”
Sagesse “Well… It just seems like it’s one problem after another.”
Shunk “And it seems as though we have a room actually sinking into the ocean.”
He looked around at the crew scuttling around at their work. They seemed more intent on preparing to abandon the ship than to make any more hasty repairs. Downstairs, Malthus leaned into the room that he shared with Sagesse, which was across the hall from Aiden’s. It seemed to be relatively dry, just a dribble running along the outside wall. Sagesse would be thankful not to have to dry his books out yet again.
It seemed almost impossible that Aiden had managed to get so soaking wet. One of Sagesse’s small, boyish robes is loaned to Aiden instead of the bloodstained one of Malthus possession which had a large rip out of its front. Upon inspecting Aiden’s room the group found that there was a lot of water running around on the floor, the hay they had used for warm bedding was washing across the floor. A lantern was lit, and the belongings in the room, including Aiden’s large trunk were removed. Malthus lent Aiden a hand in moving it.
Sagesse looked at his stack of books.
Sagesse “We should get these books up. I don’t want to dry them again.”
Malthus “Maybe we should put them in the top hammock.”
Sagesse “I would rather just take it up.”
Malthus “Oh. OK”.
Sagesse (Placing the books in his own trunk). “We could lock it shut. We can tie it down so that it doesn’t leave if we tip. I would feel better.”
They dragged their possessions toward the steep, ladder-like stairs to take them up to the next level, the deck. The stairs led up to the steerage house, and the party stacked them altogether, putting a tarp over them and using belaying pins to secure and protect them from the elements. It was not rainy, but overcast, and they expected the night to once again be arctic and icy.
Sagesse pulled from his pocket the spyglass he had taken from Juxlado’s chamber.
Sagesse (to Malthus) “Look to the aft.”
Malthus did so, and could see more clearly than ever the things from the other side.
Shunk “What is it that you’re spying through that glass? I do not see it.”
Malthus saw that the otherworldly ship was gaining on them faster than ever.
Malthus “It seems as if the world of the dead and the of the living are colliding. And…”
Sagesse took the spyglass from Malthus and tossed it to the ape rider.
Shunk “So there is a ship out there?”
Sagesse “You saw it, did you not?”
Shunk “Yes, but I do not see it with the naked eye as well. Is it an illusion?”
Malthus “As much an illusion as the water freezing around us.”
Sagesse “The ship, the frozen ocean… but only at night.”
Shunk “Because the dead own the night… It is chasing us?”
Sagesse “I believe so. I want to get as many people as we can on land.”
Malthus “But we may lead the ghost ship to land as well.”
Shunk “I’d rather fight a ship on land than a ship on water.”
Sagesse “Especially in he condition that this ship is in.”
They are able to see a few rays of sun, because the orb has sunk so far below the clouds. The nights have seemed so long in the biting cold. Not a star could be seen through the thick clouds.
Shunk “Have you been able to see the stars recently? The shapes of the gods?”
Malthus “It has been cloudy, no stars.”
Sagesse “The worlds are colliding. I believe that is what caused the hurricane back on the island.”
Shunk “From which direction did you first see the ship?”
Malthus “It has always been behind us.”
Sagesse (To Aiden) “And it may have been the ship that you saw on the island.”
Aiden seemed to doubt that.
Shunk “What is it that the previous possessor of this glass has seen about it.”
Sagesse “About what?”
Shunk “The ship.”
Sagesse “It’s from the other world. I asked him if he thought that they were coming after me, and he said that, regrettably, he thought that was the case.”
Shunk “But not when we have nobility with us.”
Malthus “We do, but from both sides, who knows, maybe he wants you dead.”
Sagesse “Could be… “
Shunk “What, now?”
Malthus “Sagesse exists on both sides.”
Sagesse “Through the spyglass I have seen myself on the other side.”
Shunk “You did? What did he look like?”
Sagesse “The same, just a bit… disheveled.”
Aiden “So the same.”
Malthus “A demon… It’s all convoluted. We really don’t understand it.”
Shunk “This makes my brain hurt.”
Sagesse “You think yours does—I have to maintain this wind.”
Malthus “I still don’t know what to think of the demon.”
Sagesse “Nor do I, but he has been nothing but forthright with me.”
Shunk “As he is a demon. Would he be forthcoming and forthright if he were not? He speaks selfishly.”
Malthus “I’m not sure he has any reason to lie. I can’t tell if those who will be coming across might be coming for him, though.”
Sagesse “He has told me that he is not the most powerful of his kind, and I think he fears this crossing.”
Shunk “I have never been one to ponder demons. But maybe he lies because it is of his kind to do so.”
Malthus “Well, unless you can kill him, I don’t know the way.”
Shunk “I’m just saying, whatever tools he’s given you, and guidance, I would be suspicious.”
Malthus “He has of yet seemingly been helpful.”
Sagesse “If he seeks my demise, there is a much easier way than showing all this to me and telling me of what is within his domain. He could just take care of that.”
Shunk “Yeah, but why? What’s his angle? What is it that he seeks out of this?”
Sagesse “Maybe he expects that we shall seal this gap, and he can remain here without worry of more powerful beings coming over.”
[Discussion that might mislead the players has been removed: false conjecture as to the nature of demons]
Shunk “Are there any tales about this from the bard?”
Sagesse “For whatever reason, Juxlado has given me this spyglass that belongs to him to keep.”
Shunk “Any time I have distributed the king’s law, if someone would tell me the truth, it only was because they stood to gain something in return. I just wonder what that return might be. We call it motive.”
Sagesse “Well isn’t it general human nature to help one another?”
Shunk “He is not human.”
Sagesse “Nonetheless, if he were to show kindness to me, I would show it in return.”
Shunk “I’ll leave the heavy thinking to Thunk. I’ve had enough. I say if there be demons, let them come. “
This crawled under the skin of Malthus, who was already unnerved by the presence of the demon. The idea of associating and reciprocating favors with devils was, to the bishop, making a deal with the demon. The sun was setting, and Sagesse trained his otherworldly spyglass upon it. It appeared in the spyglass as an inverse, the darkest of dark spots in a pale sky. Sagesse lowered the spyglass and saw that a dejected Julius was approaching slowly with his head hung low.
Sagesse “Julius, if this blessed wind continues, how much longer until we make it to land?”
Julius “At this kind of speed—If the ship can hold up under it—“
Sagesse “Does it need to be reduced?”
Julius “The men have complained that they hear cracking timber in the mast, but we could make it in a day and a half if we can stay afloat that long. We have not spied another sail on the horizon in this usually busy section of sea. I fear there will be no one to rescue us.”
Sagesse allowed the unnatural wind he had conjured to lessen. The sun would soon sink below the horizon, and the otherworldly night would be upon them. Roscius was below deck playing songs and entertaining the workmen, and Marqsam had remained indisposed in the company of his mermaid the entire day. It seemed that they expected the worst and wanted to celebrate carnality to the last of it. They would not answer the door that day. The ghost ship, the party realized, had been gaining on them when last they saw it, but perhaps Sagesse’s invoked gale had cured that. The crew on deck was reduced to one man at the wheel, traded out hourly because no one could stand the bitter cold for much longer than that no matter how they bundled.
As the sun sank languidly behind the horizon, the natural wind became completely still. The air so quickly became cold that it seemed to crystallize on every surface, a thin layer of ice forming immediately on the ground and on the railings, riggings, and on the sails. A steaming mist rose from the surface of the water, quickly enveloping the ship in a fog so thick that objects more than five feet away disappeared into the cloud. And the dim light of the ships lanterns diffused into a dark green glow seeming to hang in the air about them. Men could be heard scrambling to get below deck. Aiden, Sagesse, Thunk and Shunk, and Malthus saw their feet extend into the murky cloud just out of sight, and nothing was visible to them in any other direction. The only crew on deck was a single steersman. A seeming blindness grabbed them all.
There was a massive creaking, at first from the starboard bow, and then the following minute, from all sides of the ship. A slow lurch pitched them forward, sending Malthus sprawling onto the suddenly icy deck. He slid into the rail into the front rail of the raised deck section on which they stood.
Cracking noises came from every side of the ship, echoing back to their ears from every direction, and there was a pervasive sense that everything had stopped: the sea, the boat, any masses of air that were outside of Sagesse’s control, all absolutely still. The sails filled beyond capacity, a ripping noise revealing that the massive wind that Sagesse provided was more than the stationary sails could handle. The masts creaked, defeated under the force. With the echoes of the cracking timbers of the ship’s hull fading in the mist, the silence and the darkness sat heavily upon the waiting senses. In an attempt to salvage the masts and sails, Sagesse relinquished control of the forces that had been driving them forward with a motion of his hand. The sails that had been pregnant with wind fell slack immediately. And then all was severely still.
From the front of the ship, the roar of a great cat broke the silence, the caged lion in the exhibit where it lay crouched in insulating mounds of hay. The roar was followed by a crackling and clicking sound, and then more wild noises from the great cat. The cat gave out an unnatural scream unlike any they had ever heard from a worldly beast. Then there was silence.
Then through the mist came a moaning agony of a noise. The otherworldly ship was coming up beside them quickly. Only the five men and the gorilla were on deck, and they knew that they would have perhaps only a couple of minutes. It seemed that it was advancing on them very rapidly. It had been very far away, and now it was racing toward them and they were sitting dead still.
Shunk guided Thunk to the side of the boat in haste to peer over the side.
Shunk “I cannot see through that mist, but I think the sea is frozen.”
Sagesse “The only good thing about that is, if the water is frozen in won’t be coming in.”
Sagesse began to sprint toward the back of the ship, skirting around the steerage.
Shunk “I take it you saw something?”
Sagesse “It’s gaining on us quickly.”
Shunk “What shall we do?”
Sagesse “I’m going to have to get back to the back.”
Shunk “I’m coming.”
Malthus ran behind him as well. Aiden followed, searching his pockets for mumbaye to offer Shunk, and perhaps the ape, should they have time to quickly train the ape to smoke. His pockets held none, and the diminutive man and his ape were sure to be blind to the ensuing events.
The moaning agony of a noise rose slowly from behind the ship. Below them, the lanterns of the ship that had followed them for the past two nights glowed menacingly through the thinning mist. The ship approached.
Shunk’s ape opened the hatch door, and the little man yelled down to the captain and crew.
Shunk “We may soon be boarded!”
Julius “Boarded!?” (He appeared in a flash, running toward the stairwell)
Shunk “Yes, come up, captain, and I’ll explain.”
Julius “By whom? There’s been no one in sight.”
Sagesse “Because you cannot see very far.” He extended a hand toward the captain as he came to the door to view the misty night air
Shunk “Please, step up here and I’ll explain.”
Julius “Close the door to that arctic cold! You’re talking foolishly.”
Aiden trained Sagesse’s spyglass on the ghostly vessel’s flag, but through the thick atmosphere he could only make out that it was a dark and tattered banner, perhaps some form of pirate symbols, skeletons.
Malthus (To Sagesse) “Since our time may be close at hand, why did you travel here?”
Sagesse “Here? Do you mean to the island? I was ordered to travel to the island.”
Malthus “I mean this journey.”
Sagesse “I have to find my own path. I am accompanying the prince on his duty. And we have to return the tomes that we have created.”
Shunk “Captain, how many leagues are we away from shore?”
Julius “Leagues? I don’t know… One thousand? Maybe more.”
Aiden “A long way off.”
Shunk “Captain, we are about to be boarded. We are being overtaken by a strange spirit ship.”
Sagesse “Come up Julius, I have something to show you.”
The white haired man bundled himself more tightly in his blankets and came out onto deck. The moaning and aching noises drew closer along with the ship, being so numerous that it seemed the vessel was made wholly of tortured souls, woven and intertwined with one another. Thunk and Shunk saw and heard nothing, but the others were transfixed in terror.
Sagesse handed his spyglass to Julius, saying, “Look there.” The infernal noise moved slowly around to the side of the floating carnival vessel, the three masts of the ship slowly moving into position alongside the icebound vessel. Julius let out a shocked cry of horror.
Sagesse “Arm everyone, and have them smoke mumbaye.”
Julius waving at the mist, unable to see the massive apparition with the naked eye, “Mumbaye?” (Running for the stairs) “Oh, swarce!”
The ghost ship was coming to rest only a few yards off the starboard side of the carnival ship, and the Aiden and his men were choosing their positions on deck, preparing for the worst.
Shunk “Are they close?”
Sagesse “Very,” He said as he ran up to the starboard railing.
The mist was starting to lift so that they could see things a few yards away. It was as if when the ocean froze, it immediately gave rise to a ghostly steam, and the cloud that it had formed was starting to lift.
Shunk “Are they here yet?”
Malthus lit a sprig of mumbaye and steeled himself.
Shunk “I don’t think now is the time to be smoking mumbaye.”
Sagesse leaned over the railing to invoke an effect of the Source upon the vessel. As the mist started to clear, he first noted a troop of blackened, charred skeletons standing aboard with only a few tatters of leathery flesh hanging from their bones. They were standing in a double rank. Sagesse could see that there were more than twenty of them within his field of vision. A shiver ran down his spine. They stood so perfectly motionless that it crossed Sagesse’s mind that they perhaps were statues.
Sagesse “At first glance, I’d say there are at least two-dozen.”
Shunk “Two-dozen what?”
Shunk “You’ll just have to tell me when to swing my sword, I guess… I wonder if my sword will work on these things? Perhaps I can’t touch them either.”
Malthus “Just keep swinging, and make sure you’re out of reach.”
Shunk “Well you’ll have to tell me where or when; I’ll certainly get fatigued swinging continuously.” (shouting down to the men below deck) “Hurry, hurry! We’re being boarded! Roscius! Marqsam! All able hands on deck!” (The gorilla growled to add his emphasis)
Scuffling and running were heard below, but no one emerged into sight. Sagesse, reached his blessed hands out toward the infernal vessel to ignite the energy around it, creating fire. As the ghost ship was coming to rest, they could see that the boat was in fact made up of thousands of people, human bodies hanging on to one another screaming and moaning. This was the source of the racketous noise. Sagesse chose a spot on the vessel to focus his power. The spot directly in front of him, as good and as terrible as any, he chose. Of the many twisted bodies that intertwined to make up the phantom ship, the one directly in front of him appeared to be a somewhat Rubinsesque woman. She seemed to be trying to fight her way out of a hole in the mass of bodies where she was intertwined between two men in a wall of naked people strung together in the shape of a ship. Before the effect took hold of her, she was already moaning and groaning, but as Sagesse’s fire exploded from her breast she screamed out in agony. It burned through her chest, fatty tissue melting out of her breast, and her charred ribs were exposed as it began to burn through. The wound would have quickly killed a living being, but the tortured soul could only scream in pain, unable to escape into another world. The flames singed other people around her, raising more vicious screams, but not spreading to engulf the ship as would a wooden vessel. Sagesse’s mighty control of the Source would not well serve him in this predicament.
Shunk “Did he get one? Why don’t you flame a lot of them?”
The skeletons remained completely still as statues staring straight ahead.
Shunk “How many did you get?”
Sagesse (after a long pause) “I got… part of the boat.”
Shunk could still hear Roscius singing in the front below decks.
Shunk shouting down the below decks hall, “Haigh, you son of a bitch! Stop singing! You needs get up here and fight!”
Sagesse “I am at a loss for what to do at this point.”
Shunk “Let me know when to swing.”
The ghost ship had stopped perfectly parallel to the carnival wreck. Sagesse scanned the decks of the haunting ship, and through the mist he could make out an upper deck. Thereon stood the dark shadowy form of a person wearing a three cornered cap. Next to him, a second figure stood upon the highest deck, one with a bit more meat on his bones than the skeletons.
Shunk “Are we talking, or are we fighting?”
Through his spyglass in the dark, Sagesse could make out the thickly greasy, matted together hair that poured from beneath the three cornered cap. No feet or legs extended from the bottom of his captain’s coat. He seemed to hover. The skin of his face was almost black with rot. At first glance Sagesse thought to see a black beard hanging down. He then realized that it was not a beard, but a black vacuous area. It appeared that the spectre’s jaw had been pulled off and ripped away, tearing out much of the devil’s neck along with it. Next to him stood a man swaying back and forth, also mottled and darkly decaying of skin. He wore a pirate’s cloth headdress and appeared to hold a broken bottle in one hand. He swayed drunkenly, the only thing moving on the ship.
In a minute, Sagesse’s fire smouldered out, to the slight relief of the much suffered corpus souls. As the frightened party looked on, all of the skeletons turned suddenly in one quick motion to face in toward one point on the carnival ship.
Sagesse “Are they all looking at me?”
It was hard to tell if they were focusing on Sagesse or the center of the party with their eyeless sockets. The leathery skeletons then ignited in their own mystical flames, illuminating the corpses about their feet. They, of one accord, sprung up. Through the air they flew toward the carnival ship.
Aiden “Oh $#!* !”
Shunk “We’re not talking are we? You’ll have to tell me where they are. I can’t… can’t see anything.”
The skeletons closed in on the ship, fire raging within their rib cages, flames licking out between bones. Malthus’ scimitars flashed into his hands in a flash. Sagesse could feel the heat of the otherworldly flames radiating toward his chilled face. He chanted a prayer-like incantation and made a motion that would call the power of the Source to make him resistant to fire. He could tell that the prayer was not answered. Was he forsaken? Had the stress of the situation caused him to miscalculate?
Still no one came to Shunk’s repeated call. Aiden was eyeballing a stack of crates that towered above the carnival ship’s railings to nearly the height of the steerage house. He was considering a leap onto the phantom boat. Malthus assessed the situation. What was Sagesse’s true involvement in the situation, and considering the words of the Cardinal carefully.
The skeletons continued to advance, and soon it was apparent that they were headed directly for Sagesse. He seemed to be the center of their interest. Malthus wondered if they were attacking or being called by the mysteriously powerful boy. The skeleton’s flew up over the ship’s railing. They were within feet of Sagesse, one of them moving right past Malthus as it went.
Malthus (To Sagesse) “The Cardinal wishes your death.”
One after another, Malthus’ deadly scimitars slashed out toward Sagesse’s back. In rapid succession, with the greatest speed humanly possible, they landed. The first of the deadly blows fell, laying Sagesse’s back open to the bone, the white of his ribs revealed through his flesh. Sagesse was immediately impowered by the shock of it, and span around with impossible quickness, raising an arm to block the next coming blow. Acting on instinct, Sagesse began to spit a furious command over the elements for his protection. A second blade flashed by his ear, and even more quickly the next blow was upon him. Slash, slash-slash! This blow was certain to be deadly. It had the power behind it and the keenness of blade to hack through the arm and enter deeply into Sagesse’s chest. But before it landed, Sagesse had finished his quick command over the elements, causing his arm to take on the color of black coal, strangely reminiscent of the flesh of the Demon Juxlado. With a shower of sparks, the deadly blow was turned away by his coal black flesh.
Shunk “Hey, watch where you’re swingin’ those things!”
Aiden threw himself forward from his perch atop the crates, launching himself at a pair of fiery skeletons and praying to the Source that he would not regret bringing his flesh in contact with the fiends. The skeletons were only about a foot above the ground as they descended, but Aiden intended to crash them to the ground.
From Shunk’s viewpoint, blind to the otherworldly creatures, Aiden was seen flying through the air and then meeting with some unseen resistance as pained expression crossed his face. He seemed to be supported away from the ground slightly by something unseen. The little warrior was shocked, and his ape took a step back. Aiden felt an unearthly cold pass through his body as he came in contact with their flaming bodies, and he rolled off of them quickly. This was no worldly fire.
Sagesse was badly injured, his back laid open and the injury sending waves of pain through his system. The skeletons formed a tight circle around him as he kneeled in crippling pain. Malthus was sealed away from Sagesse by the skeltons’ tight formation. The bishop raised a cloaked forearm and shoved at the back of the nearest skeletal apparition, meeting with strong resistance. Having never shaken Juxlado’s hand, he had only the hazy mumbaye revealed view of them and had previously questioned whether or not he would even be able to touch them. The scimitar in his other hand slashed out at the being, and he felt it connect but also sink into the ethereal being as if it were out of phase, not quite a part of his own reality. Malthus’ attack created a cracking sound, and he was confident that he had damaged his foe, but his scimitar seemed to be somehow stuck within the being. He was barely able to pull his blade out.
Malthus (To Sagesse) “You are the cause of this.”
Sagesse knew that without healing, he would soon bleed to death. He strained to reach over his shoulder to lay his healing hand near the bleeding gash. His prayer to the Source was answered, as he effortlessly staved the bleeding and felt reenergized. The scar would persist, but the bleeding and the enormous pain subsided.
Shunk (To Aiden) “Hold ‘im! Get ‘im! Hold on now!” (He tried to make out where the forms were by their interaction with the prince, but it was unclear whether it was the skeletons, the bishop, or the boy who should be held)
Aiden (To Sagesse) “What do they want with you?” The prince said as he stood. He was beginning to doubt Sagesse as well, “Hold who?” (To Shunk)
The skeleton that Malthus had assaulted turned around to retort. It reached out with its bony hand to claw him. It tried to grasp Malthus’ arm, but one of his blades slipped into its hand instead. The bottle swinging ghostly first-mate came floating toward the group, something black dripping through his broken bottle. Malthus swung both of his scimitars our again. The skeleton deftly maneuvered out of the way of the first blow, but the second slashed into its fiery rib cage. Malthus’ Blade was stuck inside the actual matter of the being, and attack had not done the sort of damage he had expected. He seemed to have trouble affecting them since he was not sharing their world as were Sagesse and Aiden. Part of his blade appeared to cross through the skeleton’s bones and occupy the same space as a rib.
Shunk “Ah ha haaagh! Now I’ve got ye!” (He could finally see the location of an opponent)
Sagesse was at a loss for what to do. He quickly ran through a formula that he had been working on [what were you trying to do here, Cooper? You handed it to me written down and never said out loud]. Whatever the purpose of the incantation, the boy was disappointed and without results.
Shunk and his gorilla charged at the scimitar that, to them, appeared to hover in midair. The dwarf swung wildly, and he saw his sword pass within inches of Malthus’ floating blade, stuck in the invisible skeleton’s chest. He was disappointed to feel nothing but air.
Aiden kicked at the back of one of the skeletons that surrounded Sagesse with a palpable hit to the knee. Its knee buckled under, but since it was able to float in the air, it did not fall. Immediately it span to engage him, and it looked that it would land a claw-like hand on Aiden’s right arm. The prince’s catlike reflex rescued him from the blow. He swept across with his other arm and felt the cold of the undead being’s hand as he bent the its skeletal digits backward and forced the creature away. Two of the fingers broke from its hand and fell to the ground.
The ghostly first mate, still approaching, reached into his pouch and pulled something out. The dim lantern light of the ship revealed that it held something small, dark and leathery in its rotting grip.
Malthus continued to face off with the skeleton he had attacked. Malthus was able to use the broad side of his remaining scimitar to parry the skeleton’s hand, knocking the creature to the ground in the process. He then swung through with his single scimitar, landing a blow in the center of its chest. The fire within the skeleton sparked and flared and then dimmed down to a dull glow. It seemed to have been defeated.
The gorilla advanced on the scimitar that seemed to be floating away through the air, and its rider struck a mighty blow on the weapon itself. He came down straight and true upon it with a mighty clank! The floating scimitar itself moved and span in the air, and then fell sticking into the planks of the deck.
The others who could see the skeletons watched as Shunk’s mighty blow caused the scimitar to crack a pair of the skeleton’s ribs. It span around and then fell backward onto the blade, and the light within its chest went out. Its eyes no longer glowed with infernal afterlife.
The ghastly first mate, covered in black, leathery skin, appeared as a drowned corpse that had lingered in the ocean for quite some time. The grotesque apparition lighted on the deck directly before Sagesse, in its hand the decaying finger that had been found in the pirate’s pouch and left to rot on the island. The boyish priest recognized the polished fingernail, now surrounded by moldering flesh. It held up the gruesome digit and motioned for Sagesse to give him something as if in exchange for it. Sagesse, of course, did not want the disgusting thing. Sagesse reached into the pirate’s pouch for the ring that had previously adorned that severed finger. A weak smile tried to crawl across the leathery lips of the ghoulish first mate. It gestured toward the bag that the ring came out of.
Sagesse “Oh, he wants the bag…” he laughed nervouslyl
Aiden decided to try a barroom move that only he would try. He planted a foot on the outside wall of the steerage house and used the leverage to push off and add force to his punch. He slammed his fist into the skeletal face of the creature that opposed him. The skull crushed in with the force of the blow, the section between the nose and eyes caving in. Its fire too was snuffed out, and it fell to the ground.
The other skeleton that Aiden had knocked down in his ambitious dive was now advancing on him. Another faced him as well. It took aim with a claw-like hand, and grasped hard the flesh of Aiden’s chest, scraping away some flesh with its burning icy grip. A finger was stuck deep in the flesh, and Aiden was bleeding profusely. He could feel the cold pain of its freezing grip. The second skeleton was able to scrape open Aiden’s elbow, pulling him the opposite way in a ghastly tug of war. To Shunk’s eyes, the prince was bizarrely stretched between invisible forces pulling at two bleeding wounds. With both hands the gorilla reached into the fray, grabbing Aiden by the shoulders and lifting him away from forces unseen to the ape and rider. The ape was successful in removing him from one devil’s grasp, but the skeleton that had struck his chest seemed to have a finger wound around the prince’s collarbone. It was lifted along with him, the whole lot tossed about six yards away from the rest of the fight. Aiden could see a skeletal arm, ripped from the shoulder of its host, dangling from his own elbow. The skeleton that lost the arm fell as well. Aiden pulled the skeletal hand out of his wound and examined it in amazement. It looked like the skeletal hand of any man but with sharper bones and bits of leathery skin hanging from its bones.
Shunk “Am I helpin’ ya?”
Malthus pried his second scimitar out of the chest of the fallen skeleton while Sagesse untied the pirate’s pouch from his belt. The undead first mate reached out for the bag, but was still intent on the ring as well. It still needed that final component to make its magic work. When the first mate laid his hand upon the bag the skeletons stopped any advance and began to come into a guarded formation. Malthus was intent on destroying them, and came at another with two brash blows of his blades. His blades sank deep into the fiend, causing it to slump forward with the force, but it remained standing. Malthus’ blades were stuck fast within its bones, and his best effort could not pull them free this time.
Malthus said sarcastically to Sagesse, “Make sure to give them everything they need to open a gate to our world, boy.”
Sagesse was suddenly afraid to let go of the bag, but vexed with fear of death. He had little faith in his own abilities (I’m in a pickle. I don’t want to die. My roles have been way to sporadic.) The ghostly first mate stood and waited a moment to see what Sagesse would do with the precious ring. [More secret time for Sagesse] The boy hesitated, and the first mate tightened the sinews of his right arm, to show that he intended to make his claim to the bauble by force. In his hand was a broken bottle, deadly enough a weapon in its own right, but Sagesse’s eyes widened as he realized that the top of the bottle was broken as well, and jutting into the zombie first mate’s flesh. A black, viscous liquid dripped through the opening and poured out of the jagged bottom of the bottle. With a clench of its gory hand, some of the black ichor splashed forth onto Sagesse’s robes, and he could feel the unearthly cold radiating from the damned stuff. It hesitated to read the boy’s reaction.
Shunk “Are they attacking?” He could see that no one was moving, and all were trying to reassess the situation.
Sagesse decided to try his prayerful calculations once more. He was calling on the Source just for Strength. He felt that his prayer was answered and that he was somehow empowered. He tossed the ring overboard, and it plummeted toward the icy ocean surface. All eyes followed the gleaming object’s progress, including the glowing cavities of the many skulls. The prince climbed quickly atop the steerage house to get a bird’s eye view, and all at once, the ghostly cohorts turned and made for the ring.
Aiden “They’re leaving!”
Malthus “Along with my blades…”
The haunts flew up and over the ship’s railing in concert, diving after the ring in a swarm. Malthus ran to the edge to watch them pursue it, scampering across the slick boards. They were already within a few feet of the icy ocean surface by the time he reached the railing. Aiden was scampering up the steerage ladder and across the ice coated boxes that towered near the edge of the deck. Malthus swung himself over the edge of the boat, falling about twelve feet to the hard surface below. The freeze was so thorough that there was no give in the surface, hard as mountain stone. As he landed miraculously on his feet, he could see that the ghost ship’s first mate was kneeling down with a finger through the ring, ready to pick it up. It was too late.
Sagesse joined the others at the railing and attempted again to call into being the mystical fire that he had learned to create. The bitter cold was numbing his faculties. He once again failed at his magical attempt, and the memories of his failure in the test at the shore side flooded back to him.
Shunk ordered his apen mount to vault down onto the ice alongside Malthus, and the gorilla negotiated the icy railing with skill. They took there place aside the priest, facing the hoary hoard. To their right was their own heavily damaged ship, crushed by the ice, and to their left was the ship of writhing souls. Some of the wailing unfortunates reached their arms out toward the priest with begging, tearful eyes. Malthus was intent on the ring, and he ignored their cries. The ghostly first mate had it in his hand. To the monkey and its rider, it appeared to hover in the air.
Malthus was intent, and dived at the fiend holding the ring. He could see him through a mumbaye induced haze. The priest was able to grapple the fiend around the outside of its arms, and they struggle for position, fighting for the ring. The ghost was so cold that it was a fight for Malthus to will himself to hang on to its freezing, rotting flesh. Malthus had him turned to the side, and the ghost dropped the ring in the scuffle.
Seeing the ring fall to the ground, Sagesse called on his mental powers to alter the fiery formula he had once been able to count on. Instead, he tried to create only a more concentrated, essence of the flame using the power of the Source. A blue spiritual fire sprang into existence around the flame. The blue fire was as big as a man, and hotter than a normal flame. It began melting quickly through the ice, and the ring began to descend into the melting ocean water around it. Malthus was all too close, and leapt out of the way, his robes being singed in the process. This brought himself and the ghostly first mate into a stumbling tumult as they fell apart from one another, the broken bottle narrowly missing as it swiped by Malthus chest. The first mate fell with his back against his ship of souls. The writhing arms that extended around him grabbed hold and then immediately let go of his horrible, cold, dead flesh.
The gorilla grabbed Malthus and hoisted him away from the dangerous fire that was dropping into the ice as it followed the ring into the boiling hole in the icy surface.
Shunk “What are we guin to do about the flaming ring? We eren’y touchin’ it!”
Malthus “I’m hoping it makes its way to the bottom of the ocean or is destroyed in the flames.”
The skeleton crew began to rise up and float toward their ship. The fire on the ring was so bright that the ring could not be seen through it, and likely was already a few feet below the boiling surface in the shaft that was being formed by the spiritual flame. Thunk began to climb back onto the carnival vessel. Malthus was able to hold onto the ape and begin his assent as well.
Aiden was now intent on the masthead of the ship, his dream of Christiana’s tortured shape writhing on the mast of a ship seemed all too real, likely even, in the presence of the ghost ship. It was slow going, but the gorilla and its company were making it safely over the icy surface thankful that the damage to the ship had provided some handholds, and Thunk at times had to hold fast to one hand hold while bashing ice from the next slippery hold.
Shunk “At least someone could throw down a damn rope! Listen, just because I ride a money doesn’t mean I don’t need any help here!”
Aiden (to Sagesse) “Quickly, your spyglass!”
Sagesse handed it to the prince.
Sagesse “What do you see?”
Sagesse took a few steps to get a better vantage of the receding pirate ship’s bow. Aiden followed.
[Back to the Malthus and Shunk climbing the side of the vessel]
Shunk (to Malthus) “I noticed you got a little wild with your blade, there.”
Malthus “All may not be what it seems…” [? Overlapping voices, hard to tell]
Shunk “I’m sure there’s more to the story than I know.”
Malthus “Well, I seem to have failed.”
Shunk “Was he possessed?”
Malthus considering his response, “Ummm…”
Shunk “Did he have the magic to him and what not? I notice he’s been totin’ around a lot of that.”
Malthus “There is… belief that he may bring the end of the world.”
[Cooper – nobody thought I could be the salvation. So narrow-minded.]
Malthus “It seemed like they were after the item, and…”
Shunk “Did they attack you?”
Malthus “Not until they were attacked.”
Shunk “When I attack my enemies, I make sure they don’t come back.”
Malthus “I’m sure most of them can’t heal themselves and call upon the power of demons.”
Shunk “Still, you have an enemy left standing.”
Shunk “What do you plan to do about it?”
There on the front of the ship, Aiden could make out a form writhing under a massive leather gauntlet. He strained to make out her voice through the cacophony of wailing sufferers. Was that Christiana? Certainly! He recognized something in that scream!
Aiden “I don’t know what to do.”
Sagesse “Is everything all right, Aiden?”
Aiden “She’s there.”
The prince handed the spyglass back to Sagesse, and the boy peered hard through the mist at the spot indicated. The leather wrap on the bow of the ship was far too small to have a body within, squared off as if it covered only a few planks of wood.
Aiden “There, there!”
Sagesse “I assure that it is not her.”
Several yards away, Thunk was swinging a mighty monkey handed leg over the side of the ship and drawing his living cargo onto deck.
Shunk “Good luck on this. I’m going to sit off to the side.”
Malthus Laughed nervously.
Aiden “What now?”
Sagesse “There is the matter of Malthus.”
Aiden “That’s what I’m talking about.”
The three faced off, the ape and rider moving off to the side as Shunk sheathed his sword. Malthus sheathed his daggers as well, and put his arms deep into his sleeves to stave off the cold. Malthus looked over at the ghost ship, which was still slowly receding into the dark beside them.
Sagesse (to Malthus) “They’re leaving. And Malthus, if you’d be so kind as to hand your weapon to Shunk, I’d appreciate it.”
Malthus “This you can have, but this is my eating dagger.”
Sagesse “Well, I don’t feel comfortable with you having it around me.”
Shunk “I don’t feel comfortable being drawn into this.”
Malthus (to Sagesse) “I will not attack you,” he turned his shoulder to a bitter cold breeze, “can we at least all go down stairs to talk about what has transpired?”
The cold was unbearable, and Malthus turned to head into the steerage house and perhaps then below deck. Sagesse rushed to block the stairs. He and Aiden had been standing atop the steerage house. He was blocking the stairwell by the time Malthus reached the inside.
Malthus “I assume that you can kill me one way or another, so at least you could allow me to go below rather than freeze to death above deck.”
Sagesse “You can go inside when you cast your knife away.”
Malthus threw it to the ground, and Sagesse stepped aside to allow him to pass down the steep stairs. The party followed. The sounds of flowing water had been staunched by a massive block of ice that jutted through a wall in the bow. Roscius could be heard singing at the fore, and frightened men huddled together in a semicircle around him. A few laughed nervously at his jibes and tried to enjoy themselves.
Shunk (regarding Julius) “He’s not on my good list either.” he knocked on Marqsam’s door, yet another person with whom he was disappointed. “You’d best come join them.”
Marqsam “Is she safe?”
Shunk “Yeah. Put your pants on!”
Marqsam “They’re not off now.”
He pulled the door aside to reveal that his right hand held a sword. He had been guarding the door during the fight. Malthus headed for his quarters, laid himself nonchalantly in an upper hammock, and grabbed an apple from atop a stand of drawers. Shunk and Thunk were positioning themselves by the door as if on guard duty. All of the rooms were damp, but his had faired better than most. The party followed him in.
Sagesse “You’re awfully smug for an assassin. I didn’t know that that’s what the church was doing these days.”
Malthus “I’m not quite sure I would term it that way. But I do owe you an explanation… especially since I failed my mission.”
Sagesse “Yes, the Source did not allow that to happen.”
Malthus “The church is against you. Both of you,” he said indicating the prince as well.
Sagesse “And why would they be against us?”
Malthus “It is thought that you will bring the end of the world.”
Sagesse “And him?” he seemed unfazed by the revelation, as if he was familiar with the idea.
Malthus “The Cardinal had a vision, and it is thought that if certain circumstances arose, such as you calling on foreign magics and calling the darkness to you, as in the ghost ship, as well as you heading back to Westend… I knew what to do.”
Sagesse “And now what will you do, now that your mission has failed?”
Malthus “Right now, I am going to eat this apple. And I thought we could… discuss things, and try to figure out how things are going to be.”
Shunk “I must say, attacking someone from behind the way you did, did not seem like the most honorable act.”
Malthus “I did not say it was honorable.”
Shunk “Might cause a bit of exception. If it is an honorable act that you wish to perform for your Cardinal, and from what I understand it is…”
Malthus “My goal was to save human kind; I was not worried about honor at that moment.”
Shunk “So do you still believe he threatens human kind?”
Malthus “I do not know. I am confused in all of this. It just seemed as if all of the pieces came together, and I felt led to move forward.”
Sagesse “My magics are no more foreign than the Cardinal’s.”
Malthus “He says that his are from prayer and that you twist the Source into unholy evils.”
Shunk “And I would have to second that because you’ve done some unholy things. You’ve drawn much damnation to us all here.”
Malthus “And I was try—no—Not that it should excuse me entirely, but I was trying to talk to everyone but we never had the time…”
Sagesse “And so all of the bodies I have healed, that was unholy? All the wounds I’ve healed of yours?”
Malthus “I am not saying—I am just saying what I was told.”
Shunk “He does have a point; he has healed a lot of people, even though it may be in a… wierding way.”
Malthus “You have actually healed myself at times.”
Sagesse “And have not all of my actions been benevolent.”
Malthus “Except when—“
Shunk “you were dealing with a devil.”
Malthus “I am not directly leveling accusations. I am just telling you the reasons that I acted.”
Sagesse “I’m ’fornicating’ with the demon?”
Shunk “Perhaps I wouldn’t go that far, but you do carry his things.”
Malthus “He shook hands with him.”
Shunk “That is well established.”
Malthus “And also, I do not know where the demon stands. Because he has helped us on occasion, and in times of need. I don’t know why he would help.”
Shunk “He certainly didn’t help us recently.”
Malthus “he allowed a few of us to see it, actually, without him we probably would not have known that the ship was there. So… I am no friend of the demon, and he has no affinity toward me.”
Shunk “And I will assume that there was a ship there.”
Malthus “We all (the rest of us) saw it.”
Shunk “And what does he (Juxlado) do for us?”
Malthus “He has always said, or at least it came across that he would not directly—“
Shunk “I am not comfortable consorting with the demon kind at all. I do not trust him.”
Long moments of silent contemplation followed. The group had come to a standstill, still untrusting of one another, trapped, and confused.
Malthus “So you assert that you do not move toward evil ways?”
Malthus “Is that not a writ of demon summoning?” he said pointing to the papers that Sagesse had thought well hid in his pouch.
Sagesse “I do not summon this demon.”
Shunk “Does that say ‘Demon’?”
Sagesse “It most certainly does.”
Shunk “What is your explanation then?”
Sagesse “It is one of the items that Juxlado gave me from his cabinet.”
Shunk “You carry the symbols of demonology. You contrive with demons. This is a damning thing.”
Sagesse “If you say so.”
Shunk “I think most would say so.”
Sagesse “Yet others more wise would at least try to know more about their potential enemies.”
Shunk “Educate me then, how it is that we consort with demons to achieve a greater good.”
Sagesse “I have not even read this tome.”
Shunk “But yet you carry it.”
Shunk “Is that not danger?”
Sagesse “How so? Need I fear that the book will bight me?”
Shunk “Evidently by undead things that sail a ship towards us.”
Sagesse “Those things were brought by, I believe, items that were brought to us by Roscius.”
Shunk “The bard? Maybe he is the threat to humanity.”
Sagesse “They were obviously after those items, and I did not bring them.”
Shunk “So you think the bard consorts with the demon kind?”
Sagesse “I doubt it.”
Shunk “Why did they not attack you? I have it on good authority that they did not attack you.”
Sagesse “No, they did not.”
Shunk “Why is that?”
Sagesse “I do not know their minds.”
Shunk “Did the other party members get attacked?”
Malthus “Only when we attacked them.”
Shunk “But yet you were not attacked.”
Sagesse “I didn’t attack any of them.”
Shunk “Was the fire supplied by your hand?”
Sagesse “Well, that was at the end. The item that they sought was beyond their means to retrieve, and so they left.”
Shunk “I saw more than one fire set by your hand. How many was it?”
Shunk “I would think that is offensive.”
Sagesse “Again, I do not know what their motives are.”
Shunk “So what is it that your Cardinal says that makes him so offensive? Other than the magics and strange books and whatnot. He’s the most important one right now. And I’d also like to know why he (Sagesse) is supposed to be bringing the end of mankind, because the end of mankind would probably also mean the end of my kind, which I take exception to.”
Aiden “I believe the Cardinal twists the truth. For I will certainly bring about the end of his church.”
Malthus “It would be a hard fall, this church.”
Aiden “It will.”
Malthus “It is also your father’s church.”
Aiden “No. It was.”
Shunk “I should be careful what I say around one who has a kind ear to the Cardinal, however—“
Malthus “It is the church of all Westend as well, and almost all the world I know.”
Aiden “Did you have this vision? Or just your Cardinal?”
Malthus “I am only relaying the message.”
Malthus “I’m not saying it’s not politics. It could be.”
Aiden “He’s telling you only what he needs you to know.”
Shunk “Politics and religion often bring assassins.”
Roscius “Very possible.”
Aiden “What exactly did the Cardinal say?”
Malthus “He said unto me, ‘I regret to inform you that I had a vision some years ago that Sagesse would betray our order. I know that comes as a surprise to you because we had both always trusted him. He was a good young man and his heart was noble. He was a great student. Nonetheless, I know that my visions are true. At the time…I know that if we can keep them from returning, then peace shall be maintained.’” [This is verbatim from Malthus’ solo… continues through]
Sagesse “Then why would they send a letter telling me to…”
Malthus “The letter was not from the Cardinal.”
Sagesse [sound of questioning]
Malthus “That was sent by his scribe, Thomas. The Cardinal has sent only one letter. That I brought to you. In the vision, you will return to Westend and the destruction that you bring will be unbelievable.”
Shunk “So what you’re saying is that what condemns him is the word of this one man?”
Malthus “I do agree, but he is the head of our order. It as if the king told you to do something.”
Shunk “Well, yes, however, it seems a bit rushing of you to carry out that order. Do you not believe that there could be confusion on many different levels?”
Malthus “I’m not saying that there’s not confusion. I’m just saying that I was bound to carry out my duties.”
Shunk “So your duty’s not completed. You have not succeeded in your mission.”
Malthus “As of now. That is why we are having this conversation—to see what becomes. I am not saying the Cardinal is correct. I am just saying that I was performing my duty.”
Shunk “And what of the prince? Why is it that he will bring the downfall of mankind?”
Malthus “I do not flow in the upper echelons so as to understand the political intrigue.”
Shunk “So we should try to kill him as well?”
Malthus “I was commanded to, if he went back to Westend.”
Shunk “And that is where we go.”
Shunk “So, yes.”
Sagesse “That is where we are headed.”
Shunk “So this person (Malthus) would attack you (Sagesse) and you (Aiden).”
Sagesse “That’s right.”
Shunk “You do not wish to let it happen. In my land we would do this under honorable combat. He has a duty. You have a will and a right to survive.”
Sagesse “I already have.”
[Perhaps Sagesse is starting to feel invincible. He has survived certain death twice in his young life]
Malthus “The only reason I am talking, I am sure, is because we are trying to resolve first what to do with me, and then to try to find some understanding. When I found that they were after the ring itself instead of you (Sagesse), it did somewhat confuse the issue.”
Sagesse “The ring itself holds no magic of its own. And the bag had no capabilities of opening the gates to another world.”
Malthus “I had know way of knowing that it did not, but it seemed that they were very intrigued in getting those items.”
Sagesse “This is why I always seek more information before I act rashly.”
Shunk “He was given an order to carry out.”
Malthus “You went to the island when you were ordered to.”
Sagesse “Well, I have a mission of my own, and that is to become a bishop. And to do so, I must find my own path. Going to the island was part of that.”
Shunk “He still consorts with demons.”
Sagesse “Perhaps they consort with me.
Shunk “We are judged by the company we keep, young man.”
Sagesse “Are we?”
Shunk “So it is said.”
Sagesse “I apparently keep the company of an assassin as well, so my merits dwindle.”
Malthus “I am not an assassin. I wouldn’t phrase it so.”
Shunk “You were sent on the mission of an assassin. That is like saying that he doesn’t consort with demons. I shouldn’t take sides in this. I’m just trying to bring some order to what is obviously a convoluted mess.”
Sagesse (to Malthus) “so how are things in Westend?”
Malthus “I don’t know exactly.”
Sagesse “Since the matter of politics has come up, how are things between the king and the Cardinal?”
Malthus “Last I heard they got along fine, but I do not know exactly. The Cardinal may not tell me everything, I’m beginning to suspect.”
Shunk “Prince, I notice that you said something somewhat derogatory about the church. Do you have a difference of opinion?”
Sagesse “I would say derogatory things too, if they were to come to kill me.”
Shunk “he made reference that his father may no longer belong to that church, and I wondered if…”
Aiden “No, I just… won’t follow that church anymore.”
Shunk “Do you believe in this end of the world prophecy?”
Aiden “Obviously, they’ve broke with us.”
Sagesse “They did try to take the life of the heir to the throne.”
Shunk “Are you the heir to the throne?”
Aiden “I am.”
Shunk “He (Malthus) has a noble duty to perform, which has not performed.”
Sagesse “Was it noble? Because he’s on hearsay.”
Shunk “Again, he acted on the authority of his commander. It seems to me the same as if he were in the military. He is a soldier in the liege of his commander, and he attempted to carry out that allegiance. To me, that would be noble. However, at the same time, he picked a losing team. Generally speaking, only one can survive. If someone tries to kill me or mine, then he would be eliminated—not out of animosity, but because their existence is a threat.”
Sagesse “I have no desire to see Malthus die.”
Malthus “I wouldn’t mind finding the truth of it all. I’m just not sure how we’re going to do that.”
Sagesse “It certainly won’t be by killing me or Aiden.”
Malthus “But you do have to see, if for some reason the prophecy is true, and you bring about the end of humanity, your deaths would be just.”
Shunk “That would be noble.”
Sagesse “Were that the case, I would take my own life, but I do not believe it is so.”
Malthus “Somehow I imagine that the end of the world might come to quickly to prepare for.”
Sagesse “I’m saying that if I knew in advance, that would be the case.”
Shunk “Maybe he’s telling you in advance that that is the case. You simply do not believe him because you consort with demons. Would you not have a motive to believe that you are going to bring the end of mankind? And that it is not OK to consort with demons?”
Malthus “The demon was a large part of my decision to act. Doesn’t that seem reasonable?”
Sagesse “I can definitely see the perspective that you all see.”
Shunk “So therefore his cause was noble!”
Sagesse “But, no it was not! He does not know everything!”
Shunk “But do you?”
Sagesse “I do not, but I know… a lot.”
Shunk “Maybe he knows all he needs to know.”
Malthus “Perhaps you should share what you know with us so then we know.”
Shunk “Or maybe it’s all a lie. Your Source says whatever it says—“
Malthus “Well, someone is lying.”
Sagesse “Some of the things I know, I cannot share because they are in reference to the prince.”
Aiden “If we keep going round and round, I’m going to have that drink.”
Malthus “I’m quite interested to find out what the prince knows.”
Aiden remained silent and sullen.
Shunk “He’s giving his sources for his information. Again, I do not always bring fine ______ the Cardinal, but I know how the church has acted. However, I cannot say that the Cardinal is wrong either.”
Sagesse “Have not my actions always been benevolent?”
Shunk “Yes, but you understand, in the prophecy it may not matter if you’re benevolent. You may be the kindest soul. Throughout history, kind souls have been sacrificed because they may become demons at some point.”
Sagesse “Yes, well, my mission will not be to bring about mankind’s destruction, but to stop it.”
Shunk “Judging by what I’ve seen, I know that you would not intend such, but his Source is saying that you will, whether you intend to or not.”
Malthus “I don’t imagine that anyone would actually attempt to bring about the end of mankind by their willful action. They would destroy their self and all that they value.”
Sagesse “Well, it would seem that your Cardinal seems to feel that I will fail.”
Malthus “So you already know that there’s a problem, or possibility that mankind—“
Sagesse “I know that there’s a crossing of these two worlds, and am the means to—“
Shunk “Aha! You! See!”
Aiden “Don’t! Agh!”
Malthus “A confession!”
Sagesse “Have I not already spoken that these two worlds are crossing?”
Shunk “But never that you were the source of it! As confessed by your own tongue.”
Aiden “He didn’t say he was the source of it; he said he could stop it.”
Sagesse “If I started it, then I started it merely by being. I cannot help that. I will not stop living.”
Shunk “It’s all the same. I’m not judging you.”
Sagesse “A man that rides the back of an ape should not speak.”
Shunk “I’m only saying that, just that maybe that is it. As says he (Malthus) not me. I simply try to make reason of all this.”
Sagesse “As do we all.”
Malthus “So did this… possibility of the end of the world begin to occur around the same time that you found magic?”
Sagesse “No. I found magic before I even left.(Westend)”
Malthus “Yes, I know that. But I didn’t know if one caused the other.”
Sagesse “Hmmm… Only as I was about to pass into the waves did I find magic. Then I found a way to… thin them… use the Source.”
Malthus “Much as the undead things that come from the other side can use the Source?”
Sagesse “Yes, but they are something other than the Source. They are something in opposition, or—“
Malthus “The demon said that they all have their own version of the Source.”
Sagesse “Much as other religions have their own gods.”
Malthus “If you believe in the Source, you have to believe that the Source is in everything there as well.”
Sagesse “Yes, but as there is sunlight, there is night. There are two sides to every coin.”
Malthus “So, as it’s prophesied, both of you (Aiden and Sagesse) going to Westend brings the end of the world, why wouldn’t you go anywhere but to Westend?”
Shunk “Then everyone is happy.”
Sagesse “Unfortunately, we are called to Westend.”
Malthus “So it comes back to the Prince.”
Shunk “Who calls you thither (to Sagesse)? A demon? (To Aiden) And who makes your call? The demon?”
Aiden “I can’t even begin to read that book (The Summoning of Juxlado in ancient verse).”
Shunk “I just wonder why the Cardinal is taking such exception to you both. I just met you, and I don’t take extreme exception to you yet.—“
[End of Recording]
[Note: The recording stop before the end of the session. Below are some of the key points that were discussed after the recording stopped.]
(Late September, 2006 in the real world)
(It is around 10am game time on the 11th Day of Farris, the carnival ship is preparing to launch in a couple of hours and the party is finishing up collecting the belongings they will take with them on their journey and saying their goodbyes.)
The islanders are working on a civilized and respectful mass burial for the unfortunate of the vicious storm and tidal wave that hit the island the night before.
Malthus aids the islanders in their sad task, offering his own prayers to those he lays to rest.
Tanwaya busies herself ordering around islanders and saying her own Buru prayers for each fallen islander. Sagesse finds his way to Tanwaya to say is final farewell.
Sagesse “I wish that the timing of these events were different so I could stay longer and help you all but I am afraid that I must take my leave.”
Tanwaya “Your help would be good but I understand.”
Sagesse “You and your people are strong, I know you will bounce back from this.”
Tanwaya “We’ve had much bad Buru lately, perhaps a change is a good thing.”
Sagesse “Perhaps the absence of the white men around will help with that.”
Tanwaya “Some of them were less welcome than others.”
Sagesse “I hope our paths cross again as this place is very special to me.”
Tanwaya “I hope they do, I hope there is a Baytown to come back to.”
Sagesse “I have no doubt that you will rebound and be as strong as ever. It may take some time but you and your people are strong.”
Tanwaya “We will remember you and hope for you to return.”
Sagesse bows to Tanwaya and walks away. After Sagesse has left Tanwaya, Malthus steps over to exchange goodbyes as well.
Malthus “I appreciate your hospitality and here is a small token of my gratitude, to the families that have lost individuals.” Malthus hands over his money pouch to Tanwaya. “I know it is not much but with your crops destroyed times will be tough and I suspect you will need it more than I will.”
Tanwaya “Well thank you very much. I can tell you are a good man. I knew that from the first. You are always welcome back if there’s a place to come back to. Good travels.”
Malthus bows and heads to follow Sagesse, the two head to the departure raft that will take them to the carnival ship.
The party meets up at the beach, waiting to be taken to the carnival ship. A couple of native island women stop by to say their farewells to Marqsam.
The group is greeted by Shunk, as always, riding Thunk, “Come on now, ye got to be ready to go by now!”
Malthus snidely remarks, “We were ready a day ago.”
Sagesse is the last to board the craft headed to the carnival ship. Before stepping aboard Sagesse offers a prayer to the island asking that this place, and its people, be blessed by the Source, and draws the symbol of a conch in the sand.
The party finally boards the large ship and heads to their quarters finding that much of the crew is still busying themselves with repairs, manning the bilge pumps and preparing the craft to sail. The ship, which was lying in the water at a peculiar angle the night before is now much more properly aligned, the ballast having been adjusted.
The party sees Julius on the way to their rooms.
Roscius “Are our rooms ready?”
Julius “Not quite…”
Roscius “Did my clavichord survive alright?”
Julius “Everything seems to be ok … you might be concerned with the level of moisture … but I think your gear survived.”
The party inspects their rooms, there is water on the floor but it does not appear to have any active leaks.
Roscius “Our accommodations are a little rough but they are much better than staying on the island.”
Malthus “Yes I can’t imagine what their room and food prices would go up to.”
After a little time on the boat, with the party still inspecting the two rooms they were pointed to, the large carnival craft begins to set sail.
The party gets settled in and congregates in the larger of the two rooms. Malthus works at sharpening one of his scimitars and Marqsam pulls out his triskill deck, idly shuffling the cards as the party makes small talk. A couple of shipmates walk by the open door to the room, look in and notice Marqsam with his deck of cards, Roscius makes out a comment from one of them saying, “fresh blood.”
Roscius comments to Marqsam who seems eager to play a game “I would recommend that you play that later, it is along trip.”
Sagesse “And there is much work to be done.”
Roscius “The longer they are away from their work, the wetter our rooms remain.”
Malthus “And the greater our probability of sinking.”
Sagesse “I am not up for a game myself. I will see if I can lend my hands elsewhere.”
The party gathers their belongings that were stowed the night before and puts them in their respective rooms. The Bishop and Sagesse share a room as do the Prince and Roscius, Marqsam however plans to spend his nights in the mermaid’s room.
Roscius changes out of the bishop’s tattered robes and gets into some of his own, day clothing.
The party eats some of their fresh fruit for their afternoon meal and Roscius kindly offers some to the bilge workers as well to both lift their spirits as well as insure that the fresh fruit brought aboard is consumed before it spoils.
Julius is found by Malthus and Sagesse, the captain giving orders to the crew.
Sagesse “Were there any shipmates that were injured in the storm that could use my attention?”
Julius “Yes, there were plenty of injuries, you might come upstairs with me if you’d please. Some of the men are upstairs. Conditions down here are tight with all the work being done so we have a couple up there.”
Sagesse “Let me see them and I will see if I can’t get them back to work.”
Julius “That would be fantastic. Then you’d already be proving your worth.”
Malthus “Maybe you could help me out,” commenting on some small wounds he had suffered during the storm.
Sagesse “Might that you would want to join me. I am going to look at the infirm.”
Malthus “Very good.”
Julius “You are a healer as well?” he asks Malthus.
Malthus “I don’t know that I would go quite that far, but I will offer my assistance.”
Sagesse “I wish to try and show you some things.”
Julius “Well anything you can do to help is most appreciated.”
Julius leads the priests to a room on the upper deck where there are two injured men. One man appears to have a broken leg and another has a severely bruised arm and rib, having apparently fallen on something with great force.
Malthus starts by offering basic first aid to the two patients while Sagesse attempts to explain how channeling the source works; sensing the energy of the source, the calculations, and the nature of the source (through Sagesse’s eyes). Sagesse places one of Malthus’ hands on top of his own and then places that hand on the severely bruised man so that Malthus can attempt to feel the energy as Sagesse channels it.
A deep guttural voice is suddenly heard coming from the shadows speaking that strange alien language know to be spoken by Juxlado.
Sagesse is able to understand the bizarre tongue but Malthus isn’t.
Malthus makes a conscious effort to commit to memory the strange words spoken by Juxlado. [Intelligence check succeeded by 3]
Sagesse “Yes, Juxlado?”
Juxlado steps from the shadows.
Malthus turns towards the black skinned creature and says, “I can see you have also come to lend your assistance … waiting for the souls?”
Juxlado “I am not in the line of collecting souls.”
Focusing his attention back to the sorely injured patient, Sagesse channels the source, mending the man’s bruises.
Malthus “Some might call that a miracle. I wonder if all who fail the test but continue to live develop these kinds of abilities … “
Sagesse “I do believe that I am the only one that has done such a thing … except maybe Linus, but I know not if they even had the a test such as we had to take.”
Meanwhile Roscius and Marqsam discuss the topic of languages. Marqsam seems quite interested in learning the native tongue of Atalonia, the mermaid, who has joined the pair in Roscius’ quarters. (Aiden is not around) The mermaid makes things difficult by never speaking, only giggling whenever someone speaks to her in a language she doesn’t understand. Roscius offers many enchanting phrases from poems in several different languages. The mermaid looks at Roscius in dumbstruck awe when recites a poem of eternal love in her native Krondelli. Marqsam has no idea what Roscius is saying but to him it is somehow musical and gorgeous. It almost makes him feel so comfortable he could almost fall asleep and can tell that this poem must be about love. Atalonia’s jaw drops but no sound comes from her. Eventually, a minute or two after the bard’s poem is over, the mermaid responds in Krondelli.
Atalonia “That is the most beautiful thing I have ever heard!”
Roscius “I did not write it but I have heard it before. Perhaps sometime I will give you a lesson.”
Atalonia “I’ve heard it before too, but never quite like that.”
Roscius turns to Marqsam, “I can teach you but it will take time. Krondelli is a very difficult language to learn.”
Back in the makeshift infirmary.
Sagesse “This one is ready for work again,” patting the freshly recovered shipmate on the back who seems less than enthused to have to go back to work.
Malthus “If you wish to speak privately I can leave so you don’t have to speak that foreign tongue.”
Juxlado “We can have a private conversation without your permission.”
Malthus “It was not permission, I was offering to be kind. Something you probably have never heard of.”
Juxlado “What unkindness have I shown you?”
Malthus “So far you have given me room and board though you did plague my dreams I believe.”
Juxlado “Do I control your dreams now as well?”
Malthus “No but staring at me while I slept was somewhat unsettling.”
Juxlado “And your presence bothered me.”
Malthus “I thank you though for the room.”
Juxlado turns to Sagesse and says in a way as to seem a challenge, “and what will you do for this one?” referring to the man with the broken leg.
Sagesse “Yes, this will be tough.”
Sagesse inspects the broken leg trying to gain some insight as how to mend it. Any movement of the limb causes the shipmate to wince in pain. Malthus places a gold coin in the pain stricken shipmate’s mouth suggesting that he, “bite down hard on. I am sure this will hurt.” The shipmate looks at the pair of priests utterly confused, apparently unable to speak Capesian. The man responds in Krondelli with what sounds like a question.
Sagesse places his hand on the man’s leg moving it only slightly, which prompts the poor sailor to shout out briefly.
Malthus bluntly states, “I can set it.”
Sagesse “I cannot just heal him in this position as his leg may remain deformed.”
Malthus taking that to mean he should go about setting the broken leg says, “Ok.” and starts moving his hands to place them on the sailor’s leg.
Before he does so though Sagesse says, “Wait! I am still feeling things out …” After a short moment of contemplation Sagesse says, “Malthus, you may leave, this will take my undivided attention … and I wouldn’t mind if you left as well,” speaking to Juxlado.
Juxlado “I am ever your servant”
Juxlado follows Malthus out the door, his comment causing a very puzzled look to come over Sagesse.
Malthus attempts to make some sarcastic small talk with Juxlado as they exit, “So where are you from, how’s the family?”
Juxlado “My family? That is perhaps too much information.”
Malthus makes some snide comment to the effect that hell, likely his world, is overpopulated.
Juxlado “Oddly enough most from where I am would say the overpopulation is elsewhere … I take interest in it though.”
Malthus “The overpopulation.”
Juxlado “Mmm Hmm.”
As the two walk to their rooms Malthus feigns a stumble in an effort to touch Juxlado to see if he is ‘real.’ To his surprise he finds Juxlado’s form to be quite unyielding as if he made contact with a stone statue. Juxlado takes no notice of it.
Malthus “The waves do not agree with me,” he states, playing off is intentional stumble.
Juxlado “I know your mind.”
Malthus “I am sure you do actually. Tell me what is it?”
Juxlado “Am I equally as transparent?”
Malthus “No … I just figure being an otherworldly being, you have powers I probably don’t understand … or you wouldn’t be here I would guess, since I don’t see more of your kind.”
Juxlado “I know you are wiser than most of your kind.”
Malthus “I am not sure of that, possibly …”
Juxlado “Well at least you understand the limits of your knowledge.”
Malthus “Yes, I believe that one cannot know everything.”
Juxlado “That is more than most understand.”
Malthus “Many in power are often blinded by greed and other things.”
The two continue to exchange words without anything important being said for a few minutes as they continue to walk. Eventually Malthus asks about Juxlado’s language.
Malthus “Maybe, since this will be a long voyage, you can teach me your language and I can teach you about the Source.”
Juxlado “I don’t know that you can learn my language.”
Malthus “That is possible, many dialects are difficult for me to pronounce … language is not a strong point of mine.”
Juxlado “And I know more of the Source than you.”
Malthus “Really … well maybe sometime you can educate me on the Source.”
Juxlado “I wish that I could.”
Back in the infirmary, after several minutes of examining the sailor with the broken leg, focusing on the energy of the Source and how it flows through this poor wounded man, Sagesse is able to sense how the fracture in this man’s leg is a disruption in how the Source flows through the individual. Sagesse, by focusing a great deal of his own energy and much calculation a solution is revealed that mends the disruption, which mends the mans leg, though tenuously.
As the spell is complete a cold hand touches Sagesse’s shoulder. Sagesse looks over to see Juxlado looking down at him.
Juxlado “You have done well.”
Sagesse “I though you left.”
Juxlado “I was interested to see. You realize of course that I never really leave or go anywhere. I might as well reveal myself.”
Sagesse “I see … as you see he will be better in time, he is much better than he was when I came here. I don’t, however, believe he is ready for work.”
Juxlado “I am most confident in your abilities.”
Sagesse is quite weak and sweaty from the terrible strain of channeling the Source and informs a crewmate to tell them man he healed to, “stay off his leg for one moon.”
Crewmate “I can tell him that,” which he does then says, “He says a moon is a long time.”
Sagesse “If we wants to stay better then he should stay off it.”
Crewmate “I’ll tell him as much.”
The man he healed extends a hand to Sagesse in thanks for his aid. Sagesse bows at the man and leaves to recover his spent energy. Juxlado disappears into the shadows.
Sagesse joins back up with the party looking gaunt faced and totally spent. Malthus hands an apple to the acolyte. Aiden also joins the group.
Aiden “Have you guys been up top? Yeah, up above the steerage there’s a nice area up there that you can really get a good look at the ocean and feel the breeze.”
Marqsam “That’s what I keep suggesting but they didn’t agree with me.”
Aiden “Well you should come with me.”
Roscius “Show it to us.”
Aiden “Come on this way. You guys staying down here I guess?” he says to the priests.
Sagesse “The fresh air might do me some good. That and this apple.” he turns to Malthus and says, “I believe that man’s leg is back on the mend.”
Roscius has a bit of a time trying to tell Marqsam what to say to the mermaid. She finds the situation humorous, giggling as is usual, then takes the two men by the arm and leads them out of the room.
The party makes their way up top. It has been a couple of hours since the boat left Baytown. As promised there is a nice breeze that is most comforting in the hot climate. The group notices that there is a steering wheel that is unmanned on this level but appears to be connected to another wheel on a deck below this one.
A couple of crewmen and the glass-eyed magician, who is reading a book, are also relaxing up here. Malthus leans to see what the old man is reading which ends up being a book written in Krondelli and completely intelligible to him. Roscius, however, looks over the old man’s shoulder and notes that the book is a swarthy play.
Sagesse relaxes himself and beings to take in the energy of the Source around him.
Malthus goes about trying to salvage the tomes he recovered from the dilapidated keep.
Little of consequence happens that afternoon and each party member enjoys the day, each in their own way.
The party discovers that though they had planned on traveling south, the ship has been forced to sail north for repairs at the port at Freeheight island.
The night passes without incident with each party member occupying their time as they please.
New Day – It is now the 12th day of Farris
(It is determined that to be able to spend a point in a language, 40 hours of study is required. It is also determined that 80% of Sagesse’s work on the people and rituals of the people of Baytown is unharmed.) Marqsam has 4 hours of study
Over the next two days each party member occupies their time as follows:
Sagesse spends four hours a day at rest, four hours salvaging his writings on Buru, eight hours cataloguing with Malthus and the rest of his time is spent contemplating the Source on the deck or hanging out with the party.
Malthus spends eight hours a day at rest, eight hours with Sagesse cataloguing and the rest of his time at leisure or practicing with and caring for his scimitars.
Marqsam spends eight hours at rest, four hours in the afternoon with Roscius learning to speak Krondelli, spends his evenings gambling and partying with the crew and his nights with Atalonia.
Roscius spends his afternoons with Marqsam teaching him Krondelli and his evenings at leisure in his room or performing for the crew.
Aiden spends his time as he pleases. As the GM pleases =)
Two more Days Pass – It is currently the 14th day of Farris
(12 hours of language lessons for Marqsam)
(44 hours of cataloguing for the priests so far)
(Neil passes a note to the GM detailing something he wishes Malthus to accomplish in secret over the last couple of days)
It is evening and the party notices that it is a great deal chillier this evening.
Marqsam has a particularly enjoyable lovemaking session with Atalonia this evening. His Krondelli is coming along and he is able to communicate some relevant phrases to the mermaid in reference to her beauty and she has taught him the phrase, ‘too smoky,’ obviously not overly fond of the smoky taste from Marqsam’s frequent mumbaye use. After his lovemaking this evening, Marqsam heads up to the top deck to enjoy some night air and a smoke.
(Marqsam secret time, after a few minutes Sagesse joins him in secret time (this is a long one))
Sometime during the evening Sagesse goes to the prince and asks for some mumbaye. The prince gives him some and Sagesse moves on to find Malthus. Malthus is easily found and Sagesse leads him up to the upper deck and hands some mumbaye to the bishop.
Sagesse “Look out this way … it’s a bit brisk out tonight. Partake of this mumbaye and be generous when you exhale.”
Malthus This is not my sort of thing but as you wish. Is this something to hold in the lungs?”
Sagesse “Just breathe it in and out as you would normally breathe.”
Malthus follows Sagesse’s instructions and exhales the smoke, gently coughing, unaccustomed to smoking mumbaye. As the smoke wafts by his face he can see a few lights in the ocean some distance behind the carnival vessel. To him it resembles another ship in the water. As the smoke dissipates, the ship disappears. Malthus blinks a couple of times and rubs his eyes.
Malthus “Either that is just in my mind or …”
Sagesse “But I pointed it out to you, can it be in just your mind?”
Malthus “Is it this?” he asks, pointing to the mumbaye.
Sagesse “I have not partaken of it, not this evening and not for the last three days.”
Malthus “Does it work with any smoke?”
Sagesse “No. The mumbaye weed can be quite enlightening to the mind.”
Malthus continues to smoke, looking hard for details on the ship in the distance.
Malthus “Are you suggesting this is the demon world?”
Sagesse “I believe that is what we are seeing. I can see it without the mumbaye.”
Malthus “Hmm … interesting, I would not have believed without … well I still don’t 100% believe it as I need the mind altering substance to see it, but there is something there.”
Sagesse “I felt it pertinent you were aware of it.”
Malthus “What do you think this means? That the veil between the worlds is thin?”
Sagesse “I don’t know that it is thin. It may be exactly the same but the mumbaye may allow you to pierce it.”
Malthus “But … then what is the point?”
Sagesse “Well, you are aware of it and that is start in the right direction.”
Malthus “Well no one ever … well no one can prove or deny this necessarily … but most people believe in hell, these other worlds, whatever you call it.”
Sagesse “But they are becoming too integrated.”
Malthus “Like I said, the veil is thinning. So you think that soon we will be intermingling?”
Sagesse “If Mister Juxlado is to be trusted, then yes, I believe that is exactly what is happening. The prince and I have seen it first hand. Were it not for the fires I created (back at the keep) who could know what would have happened.”
Juxlado’s voice emits from the shadows speaking that strange guttural language. Sagesse barks something back at him in the same foreign tongue.
Malthus “Do we have an idea of … let me rephrase that … when these dimensions, worlds collide, do we believe there is going to be a war or a conflict, something of that sort?”
Sagesse “We can only surmise.”
Malthus “I believe there have been visions of that, of two sides, one fighting another. I have heard of such visions at least.”
Sagesse “We all must be aware of what is going on and choose our roles.”
Malthus turns towards where he heard the demonic voice and asks, “what side are you on?”
Juxlado gives no reply
Sagesse “What is important is that we know what is going on and do something about it when the time comes.”
Malthus “As I said I have heard rumors that a final conflict of some sort is coming. I did not know it was from another place … time … world … whatever this is.”
Sagesse “I have shown you this so that you can see what it is that others of us can see so that you know we are not insane.”
Malthus “I do appreciate that. What side do you stand on?”
Sagesse “I stand on the side of the Source, as always.”
Malthus “As I would have expected.”
Sagesse “Then why ask?”
Malthus “It never hurts to clarify.”
Sagesse “And your side is with the Source as well, as you believe it to be?”
Malthus “Assuming for ease of use, it is us against them, as far as demonkind against mankind … I’m not sure the Source exists on their world.”
Sagesse “I do not know that either.”
Malthus “But yes, I am with the Source. I want to make sure our race is not destroyed.”
Sagesse says a few words to Juxlado in the demonic tongue.
Malthus “You will have to teach me that at some point.”
Sagesse gives a smirk towards Juxlado and walks away.
Malthus and Marqsam spend some time talking, just the two of them, that evening.
Marqsam “It seems everyone else has some sort of deal with this Juxlado fellow.”
Malthus “Yes, he has something against me. I didn’t think everybody did, but I figured most did.”
Marqsam “They already know what they know … so I’m really just curious what’s your take on things as Aiden, Roscius and Sagesse have some deal with him.”
Malthus “I have not been privy to that deal other than it requires some sort of handshake and you being his friend, which I find unsettling. I have read that otherworldly beings need to be offered entrance to their house and such in order to control you. So I don’t know if this is along those same lines or not but that is all I know of ‘the deal.’ If you know something more, enlighten me, I’d be happy to listen.”
Marqsam “I haven’t taken his hand myself. Aiden almost seemed to be suggesting that they have seen otherworldly things that I haven’t seen.”
Malthus “Um … Sagesse has shown me some of these otherworldly things and it appears to me, and this it purely conjecture, but it appears as if the world of demonkind is coming in contact with ours … The veil between the worlds is thin and is thinning I would guess. This is all conjecture of course, and eventually something may happen that brings us into direct contact, maybe conflict even.”
Marqsam “Juxlado, he indicated that he who does not take his hand has no protection and those that do will have some sort of protection. I’m not sure what that entails.”
Malthus “After I was shown this other side there was a voice that could only be Juxlado. I asked him which side he was on in this conflict and he did not answer, so I can only assume he is on the other side, which brings me to make another assumption, of course I don’t have any information on this, but the protection is offered because you are on their side. Why would you kill your own friends?”
Marqsam “Well there is one of two things going on …”
Malthus “Well, I am completely guessing.”
Marqsam “Well, that is why I’m saying one of two things is going on. One is that he isn’t actually demon but they might think he is so if we have his friendship then we are under his protection without betraying anything.” (this is what it sounded like but doesn’t make 100% sense to me)
Marqsam “The other is that they made some deal that basically betrays mankind. If that the case then we have to figure out a way to get them out from underneath that, that is something I feel I must do, I have to protect my prince, if mostly from himself.
[Marqsam and Malthus continue their conversation in secret time. It is a VERY long secret session, I know not what was discussed. Meanwhile Roscius and Sagesse and sometimes Aiden have their own long conversations in Sagesse’s room.]
Roscius “So what do you think of this Juxlado?” realizing he interrupted Sagesse in deep thought he apologizes, “Sorry, I suppose everyone keeps interrupting your meditations.”
Sagesse “I do have a lot to accomplish on this trip.”
Roscius “I can talk with you later if you would rather have time alone.”
Sagesse “No, it is fine, luckily I do not require as much sleep as I rely on the Source for much of my energy. But as far as Juxlado goes, I believe the things that he has told me. I don’t believe that the things he has shown me are fiction.”
Roscius “I have some concerns with Malthus, he’s here to hurt you. He believes that Malthus is here to harm you. He told me as much.”
Roscius “Yes, and Malthus to me does not seem like that kind of man but he is now on a mission to retrieve you, of his own admission.”
Sagesse “He is not here to retrieve me, but to help me chronicle the religion of the islanders.”
Roscius “Do they often send bishops to work as scribes?”
Sagesse “No, they sent him to aid me for whatever reason.”
Roscius “So it does not seem like it is out of the norm to you?”
Sagesse “It is definitely out of the norm.”
Roscius “Exactly! Do you know of his position inside the church?”
Sagesse “I know he is a bishop, I attempted to gain such a position myself and am working …”
Roscius “No no, not just as a bishop, a bishop is an administrator, correct? Each has their own area?”
Sagesse “I was not around long enough to …”
Roscius “I am not suggesting to you by any means that Malthus is here to harm you, I am just letting you know that Juxlado has told me he thinks Malthus is here to harm you.”
Roscius “I’m just saying it may be important for you, as the person who may be harmed, to know.”
Sagesse “I don’t believe he is here to intentionally harm me.”
Roscius “Well that is good because I like Malthus.”
Sagesse “As do I, he is my greatest rival, he was the first of our group to ascend into bishophood while I failed, but I continue to work towards that path.” Sagesse taps his shackle as a reminder, “events are getting quite complicated and I know not how things will play out.”
Roscius “Now, back to Malthus, you do not seem to trust him fully.”
Sagesse “He and I see the Source differently.”
Roscius “I was referring more to back on the island when you took the letter from us as we were just about to decode it.”
Sagesse “That has nothing to do with Malthus, that has to do with the prince. The letter was sent and encoded in a way such that I was intended to be the one to translate it and that message was for the prince and as such it is for the prince alone to divulge.”
Roscius “I see.”
Sagesse “It is a matter of privacy. Were the message intended for me I would have shared it.”
Roscius “Hidden behind propriety or not you do have to understand and agree that you are in fact keeping secrets from Malthus.”
Sagesse “The prince is the one keeping the secret. It is his secret to keep.”
Roscius “It is his secret to keep, I understand that perfectly, but again propriety aside, you know something you are not sharing with him. That is you keeping a secret from him, anything else is merely mincing words.”
Sagesse “It is a matter of perception, but it is a perception that allows me to be honest in my own right.”
Roscius “I am not accusing you of anything. I am just speaking.”
Sagesse “If he were to pry me I would tell him to ask the prince.”
Roscius “The purpose of my asking this question is to demonstrate and find out whether or not there is any reason to distrust him.”
Sagesse “I don’t believe that there is.”
Roscius “You might want to talk to Juxlado because he seems to think there is … which is good.”
Sagesse “I think that it is amazing that he would tell you that but has kept such information from me.”
Roscius “Again with the secrets.”
Sagesse “Not from me.”
Roscius “And amazingly not from me either.”
Sagesse “As I had told Malthus, things are becoming a bit different. Things are going to change, their world may cross into ours and people will have to make a decision as to what side they choose.”
Aiden enters the room.
(Note that at this point, only Neil and Joe know what was said in secret time)
Roscius “Hello prince, where have you been, I have been looking for you.”
Aiden “Oh wandering, just wandering.”
Roscius “You are on a boat, there are not a lot of places to wander.”
Aiden “So, what are you guys talking about?”
Sagesse “Malthus and Juxlado.”
Roscius “Yes … Mister Juxlado, I told him what Mister Juxlado told us.”
Sagesse asks Aiden, “What are your thoughts on the bishop? It would seem that Juxlado is turning everyone’s opinions away from him and I think that is just wrong.”
Aiden “It did seem like he was inferring … there were not many other people for him to be talking about … “
Roscius “I do not think that he has designs to hurt Marqsam and since you were already in the room I do not think it was about you either … “
Aiden “I know it wasn’t about you.”
Roscius “Because Malthus did not come here to see Marqsam.”
Aiden “My relationship with Marqsam is such that I know his heart. It must be someone else that is part of our company or will be. I wouldn’t call Shunk a concern.”
Sagesse “My opinions are of Malthus and my concern is of your opinions of him for I would not like for Juxlado to cast him in a negative light. I know him to be a good man.”
Roscius “Well good, then I have no concerns.”
Aiden “For me it remains to be seen. I trust in your judgment.”
Roscius “He is the smartest man I know, at least that I can relate with, and he is definitely the smartest man on this boat, but he is not necessarily the wisest.”
Aiden “Even more so than Juxlado?”
Roscius “Juxlado is not a man.”
Sagesse “That would be my point. As for Malthus he is exceptionally intelligent but not always wise, he sometimes acts rashly, on instinct and emotion.”
Aiden “Perhaps that’s what will be the problem.”
Sagesse “If he’s to be judged on his integrity and character then he is beyond reproach. I won’t always agree with his decisions just as I didn’t with the pirates.”
Aiden “But what about Juxlado? I mean now that we are all waist deep in this.”
Sagesse “I believe the things he has said and shown us. You and I both know for a fact that this other side is here, we’ve encountered it, you have struck it with your sword.”
Aiden “I am beginning to question myself a little bit here and there on those things that … “
Sagesse “I’m telling you that I have seen it. I have seen what you have.”
Aiden “I believe in what you tell me and what you’ve seen.”
Sagesse “Were it not for the fires I created to destroy those beasts, I do no know what would have happened.”
Aiden “I’m curious about that myself, maybe nothing, maybe … “
Sagesse “It is indisputable that one of those creatures had a hold of you at one time.”
Aiden “Mmm hmm.”
Sagesse “And I saw your sword strike it while others saw it stop in midair.”
Roscius “Well he does drink a lot.”
Aiden laughs, “I feel nothing of it now, but my foot has healed and there was no sincere pain from it but … there is something … I’m just not able to trust my senses right now.”
Sagesse “Then perhaps you should shy away from the rum. I don’t think it will help your senses any.”
Aiden “That’s the only time I feel clear headed.”
Roscius “It is not clear … just less foggy.”
Aiden “So for now we are just going to … “
Roscius “Speaking of which, not to reverse what Sagesse has asked you but do you have any of that?”
Aiden “Certainly, certainly … I haven’t even opened this one.” and hands a flask to Roscius.
Roscius “You can look at it as if I am depleting your stores quicker.”
Sagesse “Have at it … so far it has been the elixir by which he endures life, not necessarily lived it.”
Roscius “Hmm, that is very poetic, you should write it down.”
Aiden “It is sadly true.”
Roscius “Perhaps I will put it in a song.”
Aiden “So for now, with Mister Juxlado, I’ve just been trying to avoid him. Is there anything more that should be done.”
Sagesse “I don’t know that he should be avoided or encountered. I don’t know that it matters. He is going to play whatever role he chooses.”
Aiden “And it doesn’t seem we have much choice in the matter whether we encounter him or not.”
Roscius “So are you saying this then just to get him to leave you alone?”
(The three men share a laugh.)
Aiden “Well, for one thing I believe in Sagesse’s decisions, you’ve proven yourself to be wise as a more elder man.”
Roscius “I have not been called wise too often,” chuckles.
Sagesse says something referring to Roscius’ age.
Roscius “I have lived long, longer than many … I am not a warrior … and this is why.”
Aiden leaves the room.
Sagesse “I have only known you for a short time.”
Roscius “As such you have no reason to trust me and I have not given you one, but I have not had time to give you one either.”
Sagesse “You have shown yourself to be someone who will speak freely.”
Roscius “You will not find the truth by hiding behind it.”
Roscius “You know I have been called this … many times.”
Sagesse “But at the same time, I don’t know that I can just reveal everything I know to you.”
Roscius “I don’t expect you to.”
Sagesse “I do look to you as a good source of information, I think you may find it difficult to keep your mouth closed.”
Roscius “I can keep my mouth closed when the time comes but I am not afraid to speak with I feel must be shared.”
Sagesse “And I am not one to lie, so if you ask the right questions … “
Roscius “Do we have any news of the boy’s father?”
Sagesse “What boy’s father?”
Roscius “The prince.”
Roscius “You should be able to tell me something without violating anybody’s trust.”
Sagesse “Since some detail of that was in the letter to Aiden, you will have to ask him.”
Roscius “Again I am not asking you to tell secrets, and I am not a close personal friend to the man by any means. In fact, to tell the truth, I did not like. He’s a bit brutish, but most Westenders are.”
The bard and Sagesse discuss how Westenders are rash, the encounter with Sinclair and his pirates, and how Roscius looks to Aiden as his nephew.
[Just before Malthus’ return Juxlado whispers a warning to Sagesse.]
Malthus returns, “Ahh, the fresh sea air is good today.”
Roscius “Indeed,” and he takes his leave of the priests.
As the evening wears on it gets progressively colder, feeling more like winter than tropical. No one, party or crew, is out on the deck as it is just too frigid.
That evening Malhtus attempts to learn to channel the source from Sagesse but the two get into an argument over certain esoteric aspects of the Source and how energy changes from one form to another. Malthus’ belief is that the Source is in control and as such what Sagesse suggests doesn’t make sense. While it wasn’t a heated argument, it is enough to end the lesson.
Malthus “Enough for today, my head hurts.”
Sagesse “Hopefully you’ll be more open minded in the future.”
Malthus “Well it just seems like we are trying to place the round peg through a square hole. Some alternate thinking is required and I just don’t feel up to it today.”
Sagesse “Very well … sleep on it.”
Sagesse and Malthus go back to cataloguing the Buru religion. After about an hour into the task Sagesse starts a new conversation.
Sagesse “Why do you think it is that so few at the monastery are able to cast spells? I only know of two that I have witnessed.”
Malthus “I don’t know, I would guess maybe the teaching has been lost.”
Strangely, and unexpectedly, Juxlado walks through a wall in to their room, walks across the room and disappears in the corner.
Malthus “Apparently one disagrees with your assumption.”
Sagesse “Or he’s just passing through, but anyway …”
Malthus “No he seems to hover in the corners.”
Sagesse “I think he is a lot of places at once.”
Malthus “That could be, I don’t know.”
Sagesse “But again, I must press.”
Malthus “I am actually not sure.”
Sagesse “Because as I have seen it, there is almost no education into that aspect of the Source whatsoever. Although it is obvious the Cardinal has great ability.”
Malthus “Well he has and he does see visions I have heard, but I would think it is like any skill. Everyone has a different level of aptitude. You have much aptitude in that area and since it is not a common practice amongst our circle it is not trained.”
Sagesse “But why shouldn’t it be. Why shouldn’t we press the boundaries? Why shouldn’t we see how far the Source can go, what the Source is capable of and what we are capable of through the Source?”
Malthus “Probably … Well, I have never heard of another besides you that could do this so you have to have a teacher.”
Sagesse “We have a Cardinal capable of such miracles, he laid his hands upon me and I was healed some and through that action I was able to realize how it was accomplished.”
Malthus “I did not know that.”
Sagesse “After my time in the sea my leg was severely injured and is still quite injured, which is the reason for my limp.”
Malthus “Maybe there is a protection of power or one feels that others do not have the intellect to learn it. I don’t know. While I do have his ear on many things we have never discussed this.”
Sagesse “I just find it somewhat strange that those who were supposed to be our teachers, to explain to us the nature of the Source, would withhold some of that information. I freely give you whatever information I know. I don’t expect you to understand it right away or even accept it if you don’t want to, I’m just telling you my observations.”
Malthus “While it does seem odd now that it is not pursued, at the same time, I personally didn’t even know it was an option to pursue.”
Sagesse “So I have to ask, do you think that it is their intent to keep us in the dark?”
Malthus “I am not sure it is to my aptitude. I would think that if a pupil showed such aptitude they would move forward with that. But I have seen the power you hold so it could be a worry.”
Sagesse “You say that, but by my survival (of the test) in and of its self, that shows that I had some aptitude for something and I was cast away.”
Malthus “Why do you think that you were cast away?”
Sagesse “That is a good question. I was given to walk the path of Linus so that I might earn my bishophood but …”
Malthus “I do not think you were cast away because you have the aptitude.”
Sagesse “I just find it strange that I have an aptitude that perhaps they don’t want shared. I know some of them are capable of these skills. This is an aspect of the Source, maybe even one of the most holiest aspects of the Source and it is not taught, not even to its bishops.”
Malthus “But it is also extremely powerful and those with power may not want others to have it.”
Sagesse “I don’t think it is right that they don’t tell those who are most devout to the Source the aspects of their very essence.”
Malthus “I can see where that would be a conflict of issues.”
Sagesse “And then when one, such as myself, shows an aptitude, without any instruction!”
Malthus “But it seemed to me that you hadn’t shown such aptitude until after the test.”
Sagesse “It was at the test.”
Malthus “And you were banished right after were you not?”
Sagesse “I was, I was sent way right after the test. There was only one way I could have survived the test and they know this. I don’t know why it is that they don’t want these aspects taught to other people or what.”
Malthus “Or maybe they don’t want someone with your power being controlled by the wrong people.”
Sagesse concedes finally, “Well I thought important to point it out. As always I find your intellect to be at par.”
Malthus “I will continue to think upon it. I’m not sure that anything will come of it but I will continue to think upon it.”
Sagesse “It has been a long day, I think I will take my rest.”
Marqsam and Roscius had a conversation about epitaphs and other deep subject matter and Roscius seems to jokingly suggest that Marqsam doesn’t live a life worth leading.
The evening continues to wear on and it gets colder and colder. Roscius, Marqsam and Aiden find their way to Julius to request blankets so that the party is able to stay warm. Julius offers what is left, mostly blankets that are ripped and tattered but mostly functional. Roscius asks if it would be alright to use some of the curtains from the various cages and acts. Julius begrudgingly agrees warning that they be taken down with care. The three men gather the curtains in the freezing cold getting fatigued in the process. The men bring a curtain to Malthus and Sagesse.
Malthus asks, “Was it cold enough to freeze?”
Marqsam “It felt like it!”
Malthus “I wonder how much colder it is going to have to get before ice forms on the sea?” he says, able to see his breath as he speaks.
Roscius “I have seen many things but I have never seen the ocean frozen.”
Malthus “Not frozen, just ice. Running into a large enough block of ice would probably cause quite a bit of damage to the ship.”
Marqsam “I would have assumed you (Roscius) had been that far north.”
Roscius “No I have seen one big block of ice but only once.”
There is a conversation detailing how Roscius spent decades in Aleman but nothing else is discussed that evening.
Most of the party finds it difficult to get a good night’s sleep in the frigid cold.
[* New Day – It is the 15th day of Farris *]
There is a slight chill in the air in the morning but by noon the heat outside returns to its normal, sweltering, tropical heat that is to be expected in this region.
Malthus “Can you capture some of this?” he asks Sagesse.
Sagesse “Capture what?”
Marqsam state in unison, “Warmth!”
Malthus “You have skills of some sort. I was hoping they would extend to my nightly comfort.”
Roscius “It was a hard night without a fire, let me tell you!”
Sagesse “I will contemplate on it but no promises.”
Malthus “There has to be straw around. Perhaps we can pack our rooms with some.”
Aiden “Good idea.”
The party goes about their established routines throughout the day. In addition the party gathers some hay for their rooms and surprisingly the prince is doing quite a bit of work.
At sunset Malthus and Sagesse are in their room compiling data and exchanging viewpoints on the Source. Roscius is singing to the crewmen and Marqsam is spending more ‘quality time’ with Atalonia. [Aiden is doing whatever it is that Aiden does]
Before sunset everyone settles into their rooms.
Sometime after the sun has set everyone in the party hears a scraping noise coming from outside the boat. It only lasted a few moments and then things seem to be normal. This alarms most everyone and they all head to the deck to see what has happened.
Sagesse and Malthus are the first to head up. Malthus stops to inform Roscius and Aiden, “we are either being boarded, or we hit something so we are headed up.”
Roscius puts on his warmest clothing and Aiden also prepares to head up. Roscius goes to Juxlado’s door and knocks.
Roscius “We have either hit something or we are being boarded.”
Juxlado “I am aware.”
Roscius “Well good! Which is it?’
Juxlado “Why don’t you go up and see?”
Roscius “But you just said that you were aware.”
(There is no further reply)
When Sagesse opens the hatch to the deck his breath is stolen by a fierce freezing wind that rushes in. The party goes up on the deck.
Roscius overhears some of the crew talking in Krondelli, “they are talking about the water freezing.”
Malthus “Well that is better than being boarded.”
Sagesse looks to the back of the boat and sees that the lights of the trailing ship have gotten closer but are still a ways away.
Looking over the railing the party can see that the water is very slushy.
Roscius sees the lights of the pursuing ship and asks, “Are you sure we are not being boarded?”
Malthus “I do not see what you are referring to.”
Roscius “The lights on that distant ship.”
Malthus “The one from the demon world?”
Sagesse “That would be the one.”
Roscius “I have not seen lights from a demon world before but they look like normal lights.”
Malthus “I cannot see those typically unless I am under the influence, are they close?”
Sagesse “They are closer.”
Malthus takes a bit of mumbaye from Aiden and partakes so he can see what the party is talking about.
Roscius “So you (Malthus) are not worried about the lights? I am worried about the lights.”
Malthus “No no, I am not saying I am not worried about the lights.”
Sagesse “That ship is closer than the last time we saw it.”
Roscius “When was! … Why did you not tell me there was a ship behind us?”
Sagesse “It didn’t come up?”
Malthus “We are going to be boarded eventually and that could be a problem.”
Roscius “I don’t know how it wouldn’t come up. ‘Hey there is a ghost ship following us!’ who would imagine that?”
Malthus “Is there anything you can do so we all can see this?”
Sagesse “I don’t know that I can. I have tried to discern how it is that we are able to see that. I have not been able to isolate it as of yet. It is something contrary to the Source, opposite perhaps.”
Roscius “Just as a suggestion, if you ever see something in the other world, for example what we now see … “
Sagesse “Let you know?”
Roscius “Please, please share. I may not be so important as I can do nothing about it but it would be nice to know.”
Sagesse “I assumed you were already aware. I was told you shook Juxlado’s hand.”
Roscius “I do not come up here often.”
It is established that no one has seen the trailing vessel in the daytime.
Roscius and Malthus have a discussion about Juxlado.
Sagesse is able to make out more detail of the ship and sees forms standing on the deck, motionless.
Malthus “So what is our plan when that ship reaches us? No offense but I don’t think that they will be friendly.”
Sagesse “I will beseech the Source to aid us in any way that I can. I know that my fire has been effective against them in the past.”
Malthus “I presume there is more than one (enemy).”
Sagesse “I can see several forms on the deck, although they do not seem to move. Their sails seem to be quite torn or they may have been gaining on us faster than they are.”
Malthus “I would guess they are not moving by the wind, that’s just a guess though.”
The night wears on and by midnight the boat is on the very edge of maximum bowshot range.
Malthus and Roscius have a discussion about the oddness of the ghost ship. Roscius mentions that he’s heard nothing of this in stories he’s heard and talks more of Juxlado.
Roscius “I can tell you this, his protection does not lend itself to staying warm.”
Malthus “We could talk to the demon.”
Roscius I will go and ask Mister Juxlado what is going on with the ship.”
At the mention of this Juxlado steps out of the shadows and everyone gets the feeling he’s been there the whole time.
Roscius “So, about the ship?”
Sagesse “Friends of yours?”
Juxlado “No, and I do not believe that it will reach you tonight.”
Malthus “Not friends maybe, but …”
Marqsam “Well good! Then I am going back to bed!”
Roscius “Do we have something to worry about? Should we worry that it will reach us by morning.”
Juxlado “I see divergent paths, but in none of them do I see them reaching this ship before tomorrow night.”
Malthus “Any recommendations?”
Roscius “Its it a good thing when they reach us, or I a bad thing when they reach us?”
Juxlado “I do not know.”
Roscius “Bad for me?”
Marqsam “Or me!”
Juxlado “Always concerned with ourselves aren’t we?”
Roscius “I only see the world through my own eyes.”
Malthus “What about our ship itself … all the members of the ship?”
Juxlado “As I said I see divergent paths.”
Roscius “And in how many of them is it bad for us? That would be good to know.”
Juxlado “I am afraid that I don’t feel it appropriate to divulge such vague and obtuse answers.”
Malthus “Are they friendly to me?”
Juxlado “I don’t think that these are friendly to any.”
Roscius “Should we prepare for them by readying ourselves for a fight tomorrow night?”
Juxlado “That is a distinct possibility.”
Roscius “And how do we kill them?”
Juxlado “How do you kill them … “
Roscius “And what are they called?”
Juxlado “What are they called?”
Roscius “It might be appropriate to answer those questions in the order they were asked.”
Juxlado “I call them …” calling the creatures by some strange name in his own language.
Sagesse understands the word and explains, “Juxlado refers to them as ‘the undead.’”
Roscius “Ok, so how do we kill them?”
Juxlado “I don’t foresee that you do.”
Roscius “How do we stop them from killing us and why are they chasing us?”
Juxlado “I feel terribly inferiorized answering all of these questions for you.”
Malthus “We do greatly appreciate it.”
Juxlado “It doesn’t seem that you do.”
Roscius “I have been nothing but civil to you and I am the one asking the questions…”
Sagesse interrupts, “Do they come for me?”
Juxlado “In a way they do, I am sorry to say.”
Sagesse “I assumed that since I have seen myself on the other side that they may be coming for me for whatever reason.”
Juxlado “I had assumed as much as well.”
Marqsam “Ok so our choices are avoid them, stop them, or kill them, what do we do?”
Juxlado “I cannot interpose directly to save you.”
Roscius “Indirectly? Such as telling us how to kill them.”
Juxlado “I will serve you as best as I can.”
Malthus “If you wouldn’t mind possibly answering another question of mine, do you see the undead, for they do not serve the source I assume.”
Juxlado “I do see, I see all things.”
Malthus “I was just curious if they serve the Source as we do.”
Juxlado “Definitely not. It is a different side of the Source.”
There is a small discussion about how fire affects them.
Roscius asks Juxlado, “So do you have any more friends on this boat?”
Juxlado “Friends? No.”
Roscius “Is there a risk to those who cannot see them as so far only three of us can, this concerns me.”
Juxlado “There is.”
Roscius “I imagine they bring the cold with them.”
Juxlado “It seems so but it depends on how you see it. Perhaps the cold brings them here.”
Sagesse “I surmise the cold is an effect of the two worlds crossing. As I mentioned before, all that I’ve seen in the other world is ice.”
Juxlado “Master Ducréateur is very wise.”
Marqsam “Can we gain some time on them in the heat of the day? Can we put some extra sail on? Get some extra speed?”
Sagesse “I will ponder that, I’ll beseech the Source.”
Aiden “That does seem like a really good idea. Do you think they have as much sail up as possible? Maybe not with the boat injured.”
Sagesse “I will see if I can find help through the Source.”
Aiden “And also be sure not to affect their sail. Do you suppose it makes a difference how far we travel during the day as to whether or not they are catching up to us?”
Sagesse “I believe they are maintaining a constant speed.”
Aiden “It seems they would be.”
Sagesse “So if our speed increases we should be able to gain distance from them.”
Sagesse clears his head of the distractions around him and focuses on the Source’s energy within himself and about him.
Sagesse makes some motions with his hands and staff and suddenly the wind picks up causing it to be very frigid, but fills the sails. Over the next hour the ghost ship does not seem to gain any more ground.
Everyone goes down below to rest.
End of Session
(Played August 5, 2006)
[The session starts out with the party at the base of the plateau about to ascend in an effort to try and find the child that was snatched by some sort of large, winged creature. It is about two and a half hours past noon and the gentle rain that the party was experiencing has finally stopped.]
Johna “There are two different ways we can get up there. There’s these sort of old stairs things here in front of us.” The party can see an are that appears to have been tooled into the plateau. “The other way is a long path over there,” Johna states pointing to indicate where the path is, “it winds more, it is easier getting up but it’s a long winding way. I don’t like to use the stairs, they are crumbly and old.”
Sagesse “It won’t do us any good to die trying to save the life of another.”
Shunk “I don’t think we can swing our swords well along that path. The other way will at least offer us some defense, otherwise we may be at the mercy of the creature.”
Johna “I always use the long path, the other is too hard to climb.”
Malthus “Why do you go up there?”
Johna “Gathering stones.”
Malthus “And you have not seen this large, winged creature before?”
Johna “This is the first time. We haven’t come here very many times for the stones. Building from stones, this is new, we didn’t find this until recently.”
The group collectively agrees that the longer, winding path is the more prudent path to take. After passing a couple of switchbacks, Johna mentions, “I did see a cave up here once but never seen anything from it. We’ll go slow when we get there.”
Malthus “Did you go in to investigate?”
Johna “No, no it’s a small cave.”
After about twenty minutes into the trek up the plateau Aiden notices that the path ahead switches back with the back doubling back above the party. The prince notices a small stone fall down from the edge of the path above them as if accidentally knocked over the edge by something. Aiden swings his bow around towards the potential threat and alerts the party. The group readies their weapons and trains their focus on where the prince has suggested except for Malthus who continues to scan for threats in the sky.
Shunk “What is it lad?”
Aiden “Up there,” he states point to the lip of the path above them.
Shunk “On rock or in the air?”
Aiden “On the rock.”
Shunk “Aww, we’re looking for flyin’ creatures. Lets continue, but cautiously.”
The party moves on.
Marqsam “I’m gonna stay back and look up here,” and Marqsam now pulls up the rear of the party.
After a little more travel up the plateau Johna holds out his hand and tells the group in quiet tones, “We are approaching the cave.” Everyone continues to follow him cautiously.
Upon reaching the cave, Malthus keenly notices a paw print of a large feline by the opening of the cave and surmises it to be a mountain lion.
The party moves along quickly, hoping not to disturb the feline, but after only moving along a few yards, some of the party notices movement in the brush nearby. The group stops. Sagesse picks up a small stone and throws it in to the brush near the disturbance but nothing happens so he grabs another stone and tries again. This time a feline growl is heard as the rock entered the brush and the party notices more movement in that area.
Shunk and Thunk take up the lead with Malthus close behind, Shunk stops Thunk near where the cat was just detected and Thunk lets out a large apen roar. A little further from its previous position the mountain lion lets out a growl of its own.
Aiden realizes that Marqsam, who was guarding the rear of the party, is now nowhere to be found and guesses he must have decided to inspect the cave the party had just past.
The party continues to scan for the cat in the thick brush. Thunk’s attention is locked on a specific spot in the brush and he begins to growls.
Malthus moves past Shunk and Thunk as the duo stands ready to intercede if the beast springs at the party.
Sagesse, too, moves to pas Shunk and Thunk and looks into the brush where the ape’s attention is focused and notices the lion staring strait back at him crouched in a position to launch itself quickly forward. Sagesse manages to move by the imposing duo without incident.
Johna then steps up to move past as well but the quick cat springs at the island native. The cat pounces into Johna knocking him forward. Shunk lands a blow on the beast with the flat of his sword that, despite the fact that he didn’t use the blade’s edge, opens a large wound on the back of the creature before it can cause any real damage to Johna. Johna recovers his footing.
Before anyone else can react Shunk swings another vicious blow into the right foreleg of the great cat with such force that his weapon becomes lodged in the beast’s flesh. Shunk is forced to relinquish his weapon or dismount Thunk as the ape is retreating to offer an opening for others to attack the beast. Shunk chooses to release the sword.
Malthus takes a few strides towards the wounded but wary beast, swinging wildly, and fails to connect with his scimitar.
Sagesse moves in closer but maintains his defensive posture.
Johna stabs at the cat with his spear and manages to graze the beast’s head causing only superficial damage to the mountain lion.
Aiden looses an arrow into the underbelly of the great cat that impacts with such force that the arrow blows completely through the creature’s abdomen. The cat springs itself forward in reaction to the blow and tumbles over the edge of the path falling dead on the path below.
Preoccupied by the mountain lion’s attack, the party fails to notice that another mountain lion has positioned itself to attack in the brush. Sagesse is the unfortunate victim of the stealthy, cunning lion’s attack. The large cat launches into Sagesse’s back, launching him forward towards Malthus, and rakes his back with its claws. Sagesse catches himself just before he would have slammed into Malthus.
Shunk hops off Thunk to retrieve his sword.
Malthus spins around on the new threat and lands two strikes to the back of the beast with his scimitars but the beast does not collapse.
Sagesse turns back towards the beast locking stares with the creature and enchants himself with the stone skin spell.
Johna retreats a few steps away from the new threat.
Aiden reaches for another arrow.
The mountain lion turns around and leaps back towards the brush.
Malthus steps forward towards the creature but takes a defensive posture, aware that the creature is out the reach of his blades.
Sagesse steps towards the lion swinging the full length of his staff at the beast hitting it in its right hindquarter, causing the lion to grunt but it continues its flight.
Aiden knocks his arrow.
After studying the brush for a moment the party decides to let the creature flee.
A light rain picks back up again and Marqsam makes his way back to the party asking what all the commotion was about. The party explains what happened as they move on up the plateau. As the party gets close to reaching the summit of the plateau, everyone notices some blood on the path, presumably from the wounded mountain lion.
As the party begins to reach the top of the plateau, Aiden, ever vigilant, notices movement in the foliage near the party. The party cautiously moves past the disturbance and luckily manages to move by without incident.
The party finally comes to the top of the plateau and is given the following description:
As you crest the ridge and come out from behind the shadow of the cliff, the rain has come to a stop. The searing rays of the sun flow into your eyes. Before you lay the ruins of a beautiful old keep. The closest tower looms some thirty or forty feet overhead in near perfect condition but beyond it, portions of fallen wall reveal that this keep has succumbed to the elements long ago. It is now a home to a beast of nature where perhaps man is no longer welcome. Setting foot on level ground you strain to perceive something that might help you better understand this place, its history, what it once was or what it has now become. Dissecting the keep north to south is a waterway that comes nearly to the edge of the tall plateau where a large clear pond has formed. A marshier, brackish pond of reeds lies in front of the keep to the southeast.
Malthus “Johna, I know you probably didn’t think this was important but is there anything else you want to let us know about?”
Johna “Well, whach you talkin’ ‘bout? Where you think we get perfectly square stones from?”
Malthus “Since I’ve never seen you bring the stones I had no way of knowing.”
Johna “Yes, this is where we get da stones.”
Shunk “Who used to live ‘ere?”
Johna “No on I ever knew.”
Shunk “Any legends?”
Johna “It’s pretty new to find this. We don’t usually come this far north on the islan. You know we come two and a half hours walk. Where we live there ain’t no reason to come this far. One guy in the fields, he’s lazy. He tries to get as far away as possible and no one knows where he goes. He find this place.”
Shunk “Where’s he at now?”
Johna “Probably back in the village. He was supposed to help us gather stones today but he didn’t show up.”
Shunk “Does he talk much about this place?”
Johna “No not much, just that he find it. Told us about it. We come look at the stones, we thought, ‘this make good for building.’ Obviously that is what they use it for.”
Shunk “Have you ever seen anything inside here?”
Johna “I don’t go in far. I just been dat front room, there’s more water inside.”
The party spends some time studying the structure from a distance and decides to advance towards the closest tower, spacing themselves by several yards apart from each other. Malthus is the first to reach the tower and he quickly moves on along the wall towards the keep. Sagesse makes it to the tower and hears a strange ‘guttural screeching’ sound from above, likely on top of the tower and points it out to the closest party members, Malthus and Shunk.
Malthus gets a healthy lead on the party and scouts ahead in the keep. Meanwhile, the rest of the party gathers at the base of the tower.
As Malthus approaches a set of stairs within the tower he notices a foul rank odor.
Back at the tower.
Shunk “Why don’t we call out the boy’s name and see if he answers?”
Sagesse “What is your boy’s name Johna?”
Johna “We call him Gunny.”
Sagesse “Yell for him, lets see if he answers.”
Johna yells a few times for his boy but hears nothing in response but his own echoing voice.
The party starts to advance into the keep as Malthus reaches the top of the stairs. Malthus notes that the putrid smell he sensed at the base of the stairs fades as he climbs up. Malthus surveys the area from his higher perch.
In the murky pond Sagesse notices a ‘treasure chest’ looking structure poking above the surface of the water a couple of yards in from the edge of the pond. More concerned with finding the child, the part moves on into the keep.
The rest of the group makes it over to the stairs that Malthus had previously climbed. Malthus, not seeing any immediate threats moves to investigate a small structure with a door on his current level.
As Sagesse approaches the stairs he smells the same foul stench Malthus detected earlier and surmises that the smell is of something rotting. Moving around to one side of the stairs, Sagesse finds the decaying carcass of some sort of canine creature.
Malthus easily opens the rotting door to the small room and sees that it is fairly empty save for a small, old desk that looks very antique possibly as much as one or two hundred years old.
The rest of the party begins to ascend the stairs.
Aiden “Move forward quickly and be ready.”
The party sees that there is a bridge close by that crosses the waterway that bisects the keep.
Shunk decides it is best to let any other party members wanting to cross the bridge to go before he tries to put the great weight of Thunk on the ancient bridge.
Sagesse is the first to step up to the bridge, feeling it is sturdy enough to cross, and heads to the other side. Aiden and Marqsam decide to try and cross, not waiting for Sagesse to make it to the other side first. Part way across the bridge some of the stones give way under their weight.
Sagesse manages to tumble forward and avoids falling into the water below. Aiden is able to take a quick step back and avoids falling in as well; Aiden and Sagesse are on opposite sides of the bridge with around a six foot section of the bridge now missing. Marqsam is not as lucky as his friends and starts to fall, Aiden grabs one of Marqsam’s arms and strains to hold the entire weight of the man. Aiden is forced to his knees trying to hold the weight of the now dangling Marqsam. Marqsam attempts to get a better grip on the prince but slips from Aiden’s grasp and falls into the stream below.
Sagesse quickly dives in after the fallen party member and easily catches up to him. Eventually the two manage to guide themselves to the shore just outside of the keep a few dozen yards before the stream meets the edge of the plateau. Sagesse and Marqsam begin the long trek around the keep to the entrance where they came in. Marqsam managed to loose the net he brought up for capturing whatever strange creature flew off with the native child.
Malthus hearing the commotion at the bridge from within the small structure comes out quickly to see what is the matter.
As Aiden busies himself trying to fashion some sort of rope from the dilapidated carpet he looks up long enough to notice a large shadow in the sky quickly plummeting on the party’s position. Aiden shouts, “Oh, shit!” alerting the rest of the party that is still inside the keep.
Aiden sees the creature swoop down as Shunk’s back seeing large talons and a flurry of feathers on what appears to be a large bird with a huge, around fifty feet wide, wingspan. The creature’s talons rip into Shunk’s flesh but the beast fails to pull Shunk from his apen mount.
Thunk reacts instinctively to the attack on his master jumping up and grabbing hold of the huge bird by one of its talons, preventing it from fleeing back into the sky. With the bird’s momentum suddenly change by the gorilla, the bird crashes into the small structure where Malthus is just emerging from. The bird continues to try and break free of the gorilla’s grip but is unable to do so.
Aiden knocks an arrow.
Johna, frightened by the whole ordeal, retreats from the action.
Malthus moves around the structure to the side where the conflict is taking place.
Thunk pivots around, still maintaining his grip on the large eagle, and swings the large bird over his head like a club, slamming it onto the ground.
Shunk jumps over Thunk to land on the eagle bringing his large sword down on the bird causing a vicious wound.
The bird rolls its body, which forces it over the edge of the platform by the stairs. This sends Shunk rolling down the stairs, collecting several bruises and scrapes.
The eagle is motionless, hanging, still in the grasp of the large ape.
Shunk shouts at the fallen beast, “I wasn’t an easy bit o’ food was I bird?” then orders Thunk to release the creature.
The group in the keep all agree that they should confirm that the huge eagle is in fact dead. Shunk seals its fate by decapitating the creature.
On the walk back around the keep, Sagesse determines that the location of the nest is on top of the tower that the party had gathered by on their way into the keep and also notices some very, rotting smells coming from the brackish pond.
Sagesse and Marqsam make their way back to the front of the keep and immediately notice the fallen form of the giant eagle.
Malthus jumps across the fallen section of the bridge without any problems, his momentum from the jump carries him in to the dark, covered portion of the keep.
Johna decides to stay on the open side of the keep, not wanting to risk falling into the stream.
As Malthus tries to get his bearings in the darkness everyone hears the sound of large dogs growling somewhere around Malthus’ position.
A dog takes a snap at Malthus’ leg but the bishop instinctively avoids the bite. The dog takes another snap as Malthus nipping him on the shin. Malthus senses another dog approaching him in the darkness.
Malthus, now able to make out the faint outlines of the two dogs slashes at each dog hitting each with a different scimitar. The dog in front of Malthus, on his left, loses both of its front legs to Malthus’ deadly scimitar and the other dog does not fair much better losing one of its front legs as well. The now two-legged dog collapses and the three-legged dog can be heard whelping wildly.
Aiden jumps to the other side of the bridge and stops next to Malthus.
Marqsam examines the fallen bird while Sagesse climbs the stairs towards the rest of the party.
Another, somewhat smaller, dog enters the fray leaping at Aiden who deftly tumbles to the ground avoiding the attack.
Malthus turns, steps towards this new threat, and brings both scimitars down on the dog. One of his scimitars decapitates the creature, sending its head rolling into the stream below.
Aiden quickly recovers, quickly drawing his saber and puts the three legged dog out of its misery.
Aiden, thinking he heard something breathing in the dark, shouts, “Come out!”
Sagesse starts to look for a path that will take him to the top of the tower where he suspects the bird’s nest to be.
Malthus applies some first aid to his shin wound that he suffered from the dog attack.
Aiden stays close to Malthus but moves around slowly searching the darkness. [Secret time]
Sagesse finds a small structure and looks in to find a kitchen area, which is not the way up to the tower.
Aiden moves further into the darkness.
Sagesse notices a door not far from the kitchen structure and finds the door to be locked. Pushing on the door Sagesse finds that it is very rotted and it gives way, much of it crumbling from his efforts to open it.
Shunk and Thunk move over by Sagesse to help him investigate.
Beyond the doorway, Sagesse’s group finds a set of stairs leading up to an archway, beyond which the path is densely covered with spider webs.
After applying first aid Malthus follows Aiden into the darkness but stays close to the wall to keep his bearings.
Shunk noticing that this is the top level mentions, “I don’t think we need to mess with this.”
Sagesse “Well, we are looking for a child that is most likely in a nest and the nest is probably up here on one of the towers.”
Shunk “All I see is webs.”
Sagesse “We must go up to get to the top.”
Shunk “We’re not at the top?”
Sagesse “We still need to check all the towers.”
(Shunk begrudgingly concedes Sagesse’s point with a grunt)
Sagesse swings his staff through some of the webbing covering one end of his staff with the sticky webs noticing that the meager amount he’s managed to clear made absolutely no headway in removing the webs from the path.
Shunk “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
Sagesse “I know of no other way to get to the tower.”
Back in the darkness:
Aiden whispers to Malthus, “I think I saw something.”
Malthus “What? Like an eagle?”
Aiden “No I think I saw somebody… I think I saw a woman.”
Malthus “Ok… The odds of finding…”
Aiden “I know, I know, I know.”
Malthus continues to move close to the wall, keeping it close enough that he can touch it. Aiden, on the other hand, is a little less cautious and walks a little further into the darkness.
Back at the spider webs, Sagesse focuses his mind on the nature of the source in an effort to channel the source to create some fire to destroy the webbing. After a few minutes Sagesse believing he is making headway on the formulas to release the required energy and continues his calculations, as Shunk and Thunk stand cramped in the stairwell behind him.
Aiden continues to move through the darkness slightly losing his bearings and mildly weirded out by the sheer darkness of this area.
Suddenly Malthus hears the sound of stone sliding on stone. The stones under Aiden’s feet give way, however, the prince is able to avoid falling through the floor, stepping on more solid ground. The stone flooring under his new position begins to vibrate beneath his feet. Aiden prudently heads toward the light of the bridge area where Malthus is waiting for him.
Malthus “Until we have light, I don’t think we should go back in there.”
Aiden “Well I’m pretty sure there is another floor below this one.”
Meanwhile, Sagesse focuses the energy of the source in a spot in the webs where a small ball of light has appeared. Bringing his hands closer, as if slowly squishing something invisible in his hands, the small spot of light erupts into a large ball of flame that quickly consumes all the spider webbing in the area. After the fire dissipates, stepping through the archway, Sagesse can now see the pathway leading to the tower.
Sagesse and the Shunk and Thunk duo head down the pathway, which is open to the sky. The group advances cautiously, looking often into the sky, wary of another giant bird attack. As the small group gets closer to the tower the guttural chirping picks up and Shunk mentions, “I’d be ready with the fire again if I were you.”
Aiden and Malthus decide to cross the second, still whole bridge, to search for materials to fashion some torches so the can see their way through the darkness. Part way across the bridge some of the stones give way under their weight. Malthus and Aiden both manage to get across the bridge without falling in and only a small section of the bridge collapses into the stream.
Sagesse along with the dwarf and ape make their way to the nest at the top of the tower and see three very large, infant birds with their heads up, chirping, expecting food.
Shunk shouts out, “Gunny!” but gets no response other than increased chirping from the hatchlings.
Sagesse enchants himself with stone skin so he can safely approach the nest to look for signs of the child. Looking into the nest Sagesse sees what appears to be a small patch of flesh that is dark skinned, like that of the islanders. Knowing of no other missing people from the village, Sagesse assumes it is the remains of Gunny.
Aiden and Malthus head back to the small structure where Malthus had found the small antique desk. The two start to fashion torches out of the desk’s legs.
Sagesse gives one last inspection of the nest and yells one more time for Gunny, which prompts the closest hatchling to peck at Sagesse. Sagesse manages to step back and swats the creature’s beak away with his staff.
Sagesse informs Shunk that the child is dead.
Shunk “Then I guess we should leave this place.”
Sagesse “ I would say so.”
Shunk yells, “We found the child!”
Johna starts shouting, “He’s here! He’s Here! He’s Here!”
Shunk “He is no more.”
Johna, who was running towards the stairs to the tower level, suddenly stops and collapses to the ground weeping.
Shunk, Thunk, and Sagesse head back down the stairs.
Aiden and Malthus head into a room adjacent to the room with the desk to find another small chamber that has three bookshelves that still has five large, dusty tomes on their shelves. The tomes they peruse appear to be written in some form of ancient capesian, one of which Aiden surmises is a servant log book. Another book appears to be a record of expenditures.
Malthus leaves these two books and grabs the other three tomes and places them in his backpack.
Sagesse stops at the kitchen area to rest and recover some of his spent energy from channeling the Source.
Aiden and Malthus continue to work diligently on creating torches and after about twenty minutes have four torches ready, one of them lit. Sagesse and Marqsam both regroup with Aiden and Malthus and head to the darkness. Going one at a time, the foursome make it safely across the mostly whole bridge. Shunk, Thunk, and Johna stay behind.
Once across …
Malthus states, “Stay close to the wall, we know it is safe there."
Sagesse “Thanks that is good to know.”
Malthus “Oh, and your friend saw a woman.”
Aiden “I think I saw something.”
Sagesse “That wouldn’t be wise to say around him,” pointing a finger at the lecherous Marqsam.
Malthus “It probably wasn’t real.”
Sagesse “Yes, perhaps the stress has gotten to your head, Aiden.”
Marqsam “A woman? Was it a good looking woman?”
Malthus “Could be a specter, a ghost … “
Sagesse “If you believe in such things.”
The party eventually finds their way down to the level below. Aiden takes the lead down and the party finds themselves in a huge chamber, large enough that the meager light from their torch does not illuminate the entire chamber. Sagesse and Aiden hear a strange groaning coming from somewhere within the chamber.
Aiden whispers, “Did you hear that?”
Malthus “No I didn’t hear anything at all.”
Sagesse “Let us move cautiously.”
The party moves along, following the wall around the large chamber. Eventually the party comes upon some shackles chained to the wall that are empty. As the party moves along they find another set of empty shackles every twenty feet or so.
Malthus “I really don’t think there is anything down here.”
Sagesse “We are here, so it doesn’t hurt to look. There is some history here that I don’t know that anyone has cataloged.”
Eventually the party moves to a point where they can see the wall opposite the side they came in and notice another set of shackles, this set is not empty however.
Sagesse and Aiden see what appears to be a rotting corpse hanging from the shackles, Malthus and Marqsam see something slightly different, they simply see skeletal remains mostly crumbled and on the ground.
Sagesse and Aiden notice the strange form start to move.
Malthus “This is useless.”
Marqsam “Yes lets move on its just a skeleton.”
Sagesse “What? Don’t you see what I see?”
Aiden “It’s moving!”
Malthus “All I see is a pile of bones,” and starts to walk away completely disinterested.
Sagesse focuses his attention towards the source to try and gain some understanding of the creature before him. (Critical Success, Secret Time)
Sagesse yells at the creature, “What are you!”
The creature’s head snaps up, starting at Sagesse, and groans loudly. The corpse now tries to free itself from its bonds tearing the flesh around its wrists.
Sagesse steps forward focusing the energy of the Source in front of this foul creature.
Marqsam “Come on, lets look over that way,” just as bored with the skeletal remains as Malthus.
Sagesse engulfs the rotting creature in magic flame, the groaning emanating from the corpse becomes a shrill scream. The creature manages to tear one hand free but succumbs to the flame before getting its other hand free. After a few moments the creature is nothing more than blowing embers on the ground.
Malthus mentions, “That was pointless,” having seen Sagesse lay fiery waste to a pile of bones, having not seen or heard the spectacle his fellow priest and the prince witnessed.
Marqsam “Why didn’t you just make light like that before?”
The large area of flame does a fine job of illuminating the large chamber and the group can see no other corpses or items of interest in the large chamber.
Aiden “What do you think that was?”
Sagesse “That was something other than the Source. There was a darker element to that creature.”
Aiden “Do you think you destroyed it?”
Sagesse “I believe it is taken care of.”
Sagesse “Something dark had a hold on that one. I put its spirit to rest.”
Aiden “Should we do all the towers or just leave?”
Sagesse “We are here.”
Malthus “I’m done, we want to get back before dark.”
Aiden “Good point.”
Sagesse “Very well then.”
Marqsam “What about that pond? I’m kind of curious about that.”
Sagesse “I did notice a chest sitting in it.”
The entire party gathers back together and heads to the pond, everyone sees the chest that Sagesse was referring to.
Marqsam “I told you this was worth a look… man, this water stinks!”
Malthus “Whatever was in that chest is ruined.”
Marqsam, seeing that no on is overly eager to wade into the brackish pond states, “Oh, come on guys! Alright, I’ll go get it.”
Marqsam steps into the pond but can’t pull the chest out of the muck alone, “Come on Aiden, give me a hand,” he pleads.
Aiden manages to lift his side of the chest out of the muck and the mire but the handle breaks off, sending his side of the chest back into the pond, splashing the filthy, swampy stuff all over Aiden’s pants.
Marqsam is then able to get the chest out and the two drag it to dry land. The chest appears to be new, at least not as old as the items the group found in the keep.
End of Session
[The session picks up with the party on the carnival ship moving through the exhibits. The party has just finished perusing the mermaid and is moving on to the next act.]
At this point Sagesse and Aiden move on to the next show leaving yet another party member behind, Marqsam. (The bishop and bard were left behind at an earlier exhibit)
In the next stall is a pair of lions. Aiden notes that some of the wooden slats that hold the cats in are coming loose but neglects to mention it to anyone. Aiden and Sagesse move on to the next act.
The next act is a magician in the ‘non-arcane’ sense. He appears to have an eye that can be removed.
Meanwhile back at the mermaid tank, Marqsam climbs up to the top of the tank and is greeted with a kiss from the mermaid. Shunk and Thunk sneak up behind Marqsam with Shunk stating loudly, “you might wanna be careful, she’s kinda dangerous!” The mermaid is startled and bites down hard on Marqsam’s lip drawing blood. Thunk grabs Marqsam and sets him back down on the deck of the ship.
Marqsam protests, “you scared away my mermaid Damn it!”
Shunk “I saved your life, she wouldn’t have stopped at your lip.”
Marqsam “I might have been happy to die that way!”
While Shunk and Marqsam discuss the nature of mermaids, the one-eyed magician wraps up his show and the party is ushered to the next stall. Julius shows the party an elephant with two trunks. Marqsam, Shunk, and Thunk all catch back up to the group and head to the other side of the boat to more acts.
After receiving a warning from Julius that some of the attractions are dangerous he reveals a very hairy man that he claims to be a werewolf.
After that the party is shown to a stall containing two tigers.
At the next act Julius reminds everyone to, “Remember that all the human attractions have feelings. Please try not to respond in horror.” The curtain is drawn and sitting prim and proper in an elegant chair sits a man with charcoal black skin, a tail and two small white horns protruding from his head. The creature says, “Hello ladies and gentlemen, how do you do?” Some of the islanders murmur over the strangeness of the creature.
Creature speaks up again and asks, “Why, doesn’t anyone have even a single question for such a wonderful sight as myself?”
Sagesse steps to the front and asks, “What are you?”
Creature “I am a man, young boy, that is all… I swear by the source.” The creature then chuckles over his remark. Shortly after that the creature walks forward towards Sagesse and says,
Creature “I see something special in you though, what are you little boy?”
Sagesse feels an otherworldliness radiating from this creature and responds, “I am but a priest.”
Creature “Ahh a priest, why I’d like to shake your hand,” the creature states, extending his hand towards Sagesse. Sagesse extends his hand to the creature and just before contact is made he casts the armor spell on himself.
Creature “Pleased to meet you, I hope to call you friend. Can I call you friend?”
Sagesse “Call me what you wish, my name is Sagesse.”
Concerned, Aiden and Marqsam step up on either side of Sagesse. Shunk gets the ringmaster’s attention and Julius barks out, “Please get back, get back,” and pulls Sagesse away from the black skinned creature.
Julius then announces that everyone should move along to then next act.
Aiden, somewhat concerned, asks Sagesse, “Are you alright?”
Sagesse replies, “I am fine, thank you for your concern. I am not entirely convinced that that was a man.”
The group arrives at the next stall to see a stripped horse from Jaffra. After a short gander at the stripped horse the group moves on to the next stall, which contains a very graceful, but one legged, ballerina.
After watching the ballerina’s act Julius announces that this is the end of the show for the women and children who are ushered out and onto the large departure skiff.
The next stall contains a dog fight, upon which many bets are placed. The fight is an extremely gruesome one in which one of the dogs is severely torn up. During the fight, Marqsam sneaks back off to the mermaid tank passing Malthus along the way. Malthus joins the group watching the dog fight just as the fight has ended. Once the fight is over the victorious dog is removed from the body of the loosing canine. Sagesse makes a motion and heals the fallen dog of some of its wounds to try and keep it from dying. Julius and some others gathered around notice the healing but do not mention anything about it.
Julius announces that there is one more act left. The final act is one of a man who forces an arrow through his skull. The act appears to be genuine and the man goes through some convulsions in the process of completing the act but manages to get the arrow completely through his skull. Julius announces that the shows for today are over and that it is time to head back to the departure craft.
Aiden and Sagesse have a discussion about whether or not this is the boat they need to book passage on. Sagesse manages to convince the prince that this is where we are being led and this is indeed the boat we should take. As Sagesse and the prince are boarding the departure skiff the prince starts to discuss booking passage on the ship with Julius.
Back at the mermaid tank Marqsam is once again enjoying himself perched at the top of the tank.
Malthus makes his way back over to the mermaid tank and observes Marqsam and the mermaid’s activities. Not long after Malthus arrives at the tank Marqsam is pulled into the tank of water by the mermaid to the back of the tank.
Malthus steps up to the glass, knocking on it with his fist.
The mermaid presses something into Marqsam’s hand. [which is later discovered allowed him to breathe underwater]
Julius is about to send off the departure vessel when everyone hears Shunk shout “Stop!” Which sends Julius, Aiden, and Sagesse running back into the carnival ship.
Everyone rushes to the mermaid tank to see Malthus standing in front of the tank, scimitar in hand as if about to strike at the glass. Malthus protests, “I think we lost a member,” pointing at the tank with his weapon.
Shunk looks shockingly at the tank and yells “Julius! She got one of them!”
Julius, “What? How can that happen? How long has be been in there?”
Aiden throws his sword belt to the ground and starts climbing up the side of the tank.
Julius orders Shunk and Thunk to break the glass. Malthus swings at the glass with the pommel of scimitar, chipping the glass. Shunk and Thunk also lay into the glass, Shunk with his sword and Thunk with his fists causing some cracks to form in the large glass plate.
Sagesse casts ‘Breath Water’ on Aiden but severely miscalculates while casting, failing miserably but thinking he had succeeded.
Aiden climbs further up to the top of the tank. Malthus takes a few more swings at the glass sending more chips flying from the pane and some water begins to trickle from a crack that’s formed. Shunk takes a mighty swing at the glass causing a large crack to form as well as causing glass shards and water to spray forth.
Malthus dives away from the glass avoiding the jagged shards. Thunk grabs the prince as the prince is diving into the tank causing the prince to land sharply on the top of the glass tank causing a slight injury to Aiden.
The glass completely gives way causing a wall of water and shards of glass to rush over those near the tank.
Everyone manages to avoid being harmed by the wave of water, Aiden is helped by Thunk who places the prince over his shoulder.
At the end of the rush of water the party notices the bottom part of a mermaid floating towards them and look up slightly to notice Marqsam in the throws of passion with a naked woman.
Malthus comments to the prince, “How much money do you have?” which is overheard by Julius who quickly chimes in, “Yes, how much money do you have?”
Thunk sets down the prince who takes in the whole display before him and can’t help but burst into laughter.
Julius directs his gaze towards the two lovers and protests, “For the Source’s sake! Shunk, separate them!”
Malthus and Sagesse both turn their backs towards the whole affair.
Thunk throws Marqsam’s wet trousers at him. Marqsam tries to compose himself putting his trousers back on.
As luck would have it, one of the lion’s in the stall close by manages to get out of its pen through some damaged boards. Aiden quickly states the obvious, “Hey there’s a lion!”
Malthus turns towards the lion, holding his ground, as the lion approaches and draws his scimitars. When the lion gets close enough Malthus swings a flurry of strikes at the great cat landing multiple blows.
Aiden moves behind the gorilla and heads towards his sword belt. Meanwhile Marqsam continues to struggle with is wet trousers.
Shunk moves Thunk between Malthus and the lion yelling at the beast, “Leo, get back!” Thunk has one of his hands on the lion’s head and tries to push it away. Malthus steps to the side and takes a defensive posture, happy to let the large ape take control of the situation.
The other lion, curious about the commotion, appears at the opening that Leo came out from.
Sagesse steps forward and heals the lion in an attempt to calm it.
Aiden hastily crosses by the opening where the second cat has presented its self in order to get to his sword belt, trying not to provoke an attack, and asks Shunk, “Are these things going to kill us?”
Julius says loudly, “I though you had a plan!”
Shunk responds to Aiden by saying, “Nigh,” then moves Thunk back a bit and tells the cat, “Leo, get back in yer cage,” in a calm yet stern voice.
In response Leo rears up and lunges towards the prince. The prince tumbles out of the way of the attack and tries to distance himself from the large cats.
The female cat, noticing Leo’s behavior, leaps out of the pin after the prince who in another flamboyant maneuver narrowly evades the claws of a great cat and is now positioned out of site of the rest of the part on the other side of the partition that separates the two halls of stalls.
Sagesse, too fatigued to be of any help, steps back and takes a defensive posture.
Aiden heads towards a stall with a curtain. Marqsam finally manages to secure his pants and starts to head out of the newly destroyed tank.
Thunk climbs to the top of the partition carrying Shunk on his back.
Malthus steps towards Leo and strikes the beast with both of his scimitars. Leo, now severely injured, turns towards Malthus and bites at his groin narrowly missing flesh but ripping away a large portion of the front of Malthus’s robe.
The other lion rushes the prince ripping into Aiden’s leg, tearing flesh.
Aiden dives through the curtain into the stall but gets caught up in the curtain and doesn’t make it into the stall. Marqsam moves past Leo in an attempt to get to the prince to offer aid.
Thunk bounds off the wall and lands between the lion and the prince. Shunk draws his sword in midair.
Malthus lands another blow on Leo’s left paw and the lion begins to retreat and heads back to its cage.
Aiden moves into the stall with help from the black skinned creature. (secret time)
Marqsam moves around to the other side of the partition and yells for Aiden.
Shunk yells at the remaining lion, “Get back in yer cage Lucy” The lion backs up and starts to head back towards its cage but stops, surprised by the appearance of Marqsam.
Aiden pulls down the curtain to the black creature’s stall.
Marqsam deftly maneuvers out of Lucy’s way. The Shunk and Thunk duo manage to corral the remaining lion back into its cage and stand guard over the cage until it can be repaired.
Aiden tends to his wound, doing more harm than good.
Sagesse begins to recover some of his spent energy.
After about ten minutes Julius comes back with the werewolf man who is carrying a ladder and some tools.
Marqsam, concerned about the prince’s wound, asks if they have any healers on board. Julius informs him that they do not.
Noting Marqsam’s comment Sagesse comes out of his trance and heads over to Aiden, placing his hands on the wound in the prince’s leg. Sagesse manages to heal the wound but passes out in the process.
Malthus starts to carry Sagesse while Marqsam helps up the prince.
Julius states to the group, “Well gentlemen, I have something of a financial problem and I want to know exactly what it is you are going to do to help me with it.”
Malthus mentions that he has a little gold to offer and continues carrying Sagesse towards the departure boat.
Julius “Well we are going to have to figure out exactly what it going to take to replace this glass. It can’t be done here I’d imagine. It is kind of a small island and you guys don’t have glassmakers.”
Aiden “I’m not exactly sure who broke the glass but … “
Julius “It doesn’t matter who broke the glass, it’s your fault!” he says pointing at Marqsam.
Marqsam “My fault sir?”
Julius “You were the one who was fucking my mermaid!”
Marqsam “There was no ‘no fucking the mermaid sign’ and you didn’t mention a charge for such a service.”
Julius “The rule is implicit.”
Aiden “Perhaps we can work something out.”
Julius “I would love to work something out.”
Aiden “Well I don’t know if you noticed but my young friend here when he met the black skinned creature but I am fairly sure that you did.”
Julius “Oh, yeah.”
Aiden “He’s an interesting fellow and since we owe you something, perhaps we could work it off. There are other skills that my friends have, for instance we have quite an accomplished singer and entertainer who is traveling with us.”
Julius “Hmm … what is this entertainer’s name?”
Julius “Roscius Forscythe?”
Aiden “That’d be the one … and only.”
Julius laughs, “Alright, now obviously I’m into the con game, not everything here is exactly as it seems but I seriously doubt that Roscius Forscythe is one of your party.”
& Aiden both ask in unison, “You wanna bet?”
Julius “I think that the better thing to do would be to determine the value of that piece of glass so that you fellas can figure out a way of paying me back.”
Aiden “Lets continue to talk while we walk back this way.” (towards the departure boat) “Have you ever met Roscius?”
Julius “No I have not, I have only heard tales of him.”
Aiden “Then how would you know if he is here or not?”
Julius “Honestly, under the circumstances I don’t know that you can prove Roscius Forcythe is in your company. There is just no way.”
Aiden “Well then it should be an interesting ride back to the island.”
Shunk “How do you know Roscius is who he says he is?”
Aiden “Because we know him.”
Marqsam “Roscius has proven himself in the are for which he is known for. He is not much of a combatant but he is a very accomplished singer.”
The party gets back to the departure boat and Julius announces, “Roscius Forcythe stand forth and show yourself.” An islander announces that Rocisus has fainted.
Julius laughs, “Well, I will take you guys ashore but Shunk and Thunk, I want you to accompany us. I don’t really want to let these men out of our sight until we’ve reached a bargain.” The barge is loaded and heads back to shore.
Julius tells the group, “We are looking at about four to five hundred gold for a piece of glass that size.”
Thunk is heard whimpering and it is noted that the ape took a wound to his elbow trying to corral the cats. Julius notes, “I don’t even know how much it costs to repair a gorilla.”
Aiden “Regardless of how much you think it will cost, we don’t have it, so we are going to have to work out some other agreement and I see no other way to do that except by taking us on board under your employ.”
Julius “Do you care to look after these fellows Shunk?”
Shunk “No,” chuckling, “How many lands have we traveled to sir and never once had such a problem?”
Julius “I don’t know that I’ve appreciated your company so well as to have it … lets see … if I were to pay you 5 silver a day … 10 years … ?”
Marqsam “Roscius is worth more than 5 silver a day!”
Julius “Yes Roscius Forscythe would be, is he still asleep? Mr. Roscius Forscythe?”
Aiden “We are not without skills.” Shunk chuckles.
Julius “What kind of skills do you have?”
Shunk “Besides destroying ships.”
Marqsam “Now wait a minute here, I had nothing to do with destroying anything and don’t even tell me she was a virgin!”
Julius “This is all your fault!”
Aiden “Wouldn’t you be better suited, well obviously not here it is such a small place, but I assume you travel to bigger towns, bigger ports?”
Julius “Yes, were headed to Jaffa”
Aiden “Wouldn’t you like to bring more people on board? Wouldn’t you like ot go out into the city and bring in more business and someone like say, myself, lead the group around and introduce your wonderful acts?”
Julius “We attract attention by showing people amazing things that they’ve never seen before. I think that we get plenty of attention when our dwarf rides a gorilla through town.”
Julius describes the various acts he can parade through town to get attention and raises the costs to the party realize that one of his lions will likely not survive it’s injuries.
Aiden “I bet if you wait you won’t be down any lions at all.”
Julius “I am fairly certain that lion is in the throws of death.”
Aiden “Wanna bet?”
Julius “I don’t exactly care to bet that my lion dies. I really won’t have a chance of winning either way.”
Aiden “I’ll bet that your lion doesn’t die and I bet your lion will fully recover.”
Marqsam “If you bring us on board.”
Julius “What is it that you want to do in Jaffa? Why are you trying to get there?”
Aiden “We are just trying to get away from here.”
Julius “Is it that hard?”
Aiden “You are the first ship since we made our decision to leave. You are the first ship, don’t you feel lucky?”
Julius “No, I kind of wish we were the second. I am interested more in you money than your help. Shunk, if the decision were up to you, would you want these people on your ship?”
Shunk “We’ll have to replace the lion until he heals. I suppose we could add a demonstration or two. This one (Malthus) is good with a sword.” Shunk looks over to the collapsed form of Sagesse and says, “We saw him, it is unique, we have not seen that before.”
Julius “Well, it is a consideration.”
Shunk “But we still need gold.”
Julius “Even working for free is not going to pay off the kind of money it would take to replace a lion and the glass. The glass alone is expensive.”
Shunk “And a mermaid that is likely with child at the moment.”
Julius “That is another problem, if he comes aboard, what if she wants to leave with him?”
Marqsam “She is not really a mermaid.”
Julius “She has her talents.”
Marqsam “She does, I’ll give you that.”
Julius “A woman of her beauty and stupidity is almost impossible to replace.”
Aiden “She won’t be coming with us.”
Julius “She’s a prize.”
Aiden “She won’t be coming with us.”
The party reaches shore and Sagesse wakes up as the boat hits the sand. Julius announces to the islanders on shore that, “there has been a slight delay for the next show.”
Malthus attempts to wake up Roscius who merely groans. Malthus notices a large welt on Roscius’s arm.”
Sagesse in his fatigued state fails to offer any assistance to the bard but does inform everyone that the wound appears to have come from a wasp indigenous to the island.
Julius makes another announcement and says, “We will be back again conducting business in the morning for certain.” On that note the crowd disburses and Julius asks the group, “Gentlemen, where are we going to finish this discussion?” as he gestures towards the Sugar Rum Hut.
As the group approaches the Sugar Rum Hut Tanwaya notices the party, “What’s goin’ on whit you guys? What’s wrong whit heem,” she asks pointing at Sagesse. “You look tired … take a lot out of you over der?” Sagesse nods. “How come dey not let anyone else on da boat?”
Malthus “There were complications.”
Tanwaya “Complicated huh … what wrong wit heem,” pointing at the bard.She is shown the wound on Roscius’s arm, “Wooo das a bad one! Looks like he got stung by a yellow jacket. Let me go my hut, I be right back.” Tanwaya leaves and the party takes a table at the Sugar Rum Hut.
Julius “Ok gentlemen, is this all you have to offer is your services?”
Aiden asks Sagesse, “Can you heal the lion?”
Sagesse “I can attempt to, I can make no promises as to the source’s will.”
Aiden “Not today but later.”
Sagesse “If it is alive I can probably help it, we will have to see.”
Marqsam gets a shot of rum for himself and Shunk.
Julius notices and says, “Hey now, now what do we have there?”
Marqsam “Just some rum and since he helped save my friend I am showing my appreciation.”
Julius “I do believe some of that is owed this direction.”
Marqsam “Then I will get more and serve you myself.”
Julius “Now here’s a man who understands business a little better.” After a short pause he continues. “I would be willing to take less but I don’t know that I want additional entertainment. I would basically be interested in the boy, he has abilities. I don’t know about the rest of you, you have really offered me anything.”
Marqsam “How about if … first off I understand you do not believe that Roscius is who we claim he is which is understandable. Lets just assume he is not Roscius … I would be willing to wager that once you hear him play you will recognize that he is a bard of significant caliber.”
Marqsam “I feel I can speak for him and I am sure he’d be willing to perform for you.”
Malthus “Are you sure this is the boat we are to take?”
Aiden “I do.”
Marqsam “Do you?” sounding surprised.
Aiden looks to Julius and says, “You’re going to be here until tomorrow anyway.”
Julius “We will, maybe for longer than that.”
Aiden “Give him (Sagesse) a chance to recover and you will be impressed.”
Julius “I will be considering these things, in the mean time I hold you responsible for this,” pointing at Marqsam, “if your friends wish to help you then so be it. Shunk, I am leaving you in charge of making sure he (Marqsam) doesn’t go anywhere until we leave.”
Shunk “Ok but I don’t swim.”
Julius “You are not allowed to swim,” he states to Marqsam.
Marqsam “Evidently … even though my actions were not to your liking, they were mutual.”
Julius “It hadn’t happened anywhere else we’ve gone.”
Marqsam “She didn’t take a fancy to anybody else?”
Shunk “You see the girl is stupid though and I don’t believe you are, therefore you should still be responsible.”
Julius “I will consider the offer but I’m not so sure I like it. Without even hearing him I’m not really interested in him. We really aren’t in that kind of business, we are more in the ‘shock’ business. This one, (Sagesse) that’s interesting. You sould have a career.”
Sagesse “I do not believe that is where my career lies.”
Julius “I will give it thought but we will be here for at least a day. We’ve got to make money while we are here and there are plenty of islanders that have not been aboard yet. For now I’d be willing to take the price of three sugar rums off the tab.”
Malthus jokes, “They are one hundred gold a piece.”
Julius “That is not what I saw traded. We’ll call it one gold. For now you gentlemen feel free to converse amongst yourselves. Perhaps you can come up with a better way to get some gold because that is truly what I am interested in. I bid you Farwell for now,” and Julius walks away and starts to talk to some of the native ladies.
Malthus “While I do not like it I do feel we owe him some restitution for the damage we caused.”
Malthus “I have some gold.”
Sagesse “As you said to me before on the beech, ‘You’re lucky I like you,’” directing his comment towards Marqsam.
Marqsam points out that they have some form of magic that allows the mermaid woman to breath water.
Aiden “Well if you are sure this is the boat we need to get on then we need to figure out a way to get on it.”
Sagesse “You did just get a delivery did you not?” referring to his recent allowance.
Sagesse “We have some funds to give him.”
Aiden “I don’t really know how much money we have. I don’t really know how much the allowance is.”
Malthus “Lets assume it is in the neighborhood of five hundred gold, which is very high to me. If we can come up with that I am not sure what we would live on once we are off the boat. I unfortunately have no means to get an allowance.”
Marqsam “That much would buy us a small army.”
Shunk “Why do you need to get on my captain’s boat so bad?”
Sagesse “We have plans to go.”
Shunk “I heard something about funds.”
Marqsam “We have some funds but we aren’t going to destitute ourselves over this.”
Shunk stands up in his chair and smiles, “You know my word has some bearing on the captain.”
Marqsam offers Shunk another rum.
Shunk “I’m just wondering how much funds you have.”
Marqsam “We have some funds but I’ll have to count how much. It is not anywhere near the amount your captain asks.”
Shunk “I would speculate that if it is more important for you to save a bit of gold or to be on my captain’s ship, you should not need to retain them. However, depending on how many funds you have and how many land upon my purse my word has some bearing with the captain.”
Malthus “So if we bribe you, you will put in a good word for us.”
Sagesse “You can get us on the ship?”
Shunk “I can assist you.”
Malthus “At least that gives us an alternative option.”
Sagesse “It is not exactly bribery, he’s offering a service to get us on the ship and if we work off our debt there then so be it.”
Aiden “Well, if we don’t give him any money he’s got no choice. He’s either got to kill us, which he can’t do, or take us with him.”
Little else of consequence happens or is discussed for the rest of the evening. The party goes to their respective spots to rest. Shunk and Thunk guard the door to Marqsam and Aiden’s hut and Roscius is in Tanwaya’s care.
[* New Day – It is now the 10th Day of Farris *]
Sagesse spends the first four hours of his morning organizing his journals for documentation. Everyone eventually meets up at the Sugar Rum Hut.
Marqsam starts the morning trying to loosen up the dwarf some more by offering him more rum and mumbaye. [secret time for the dwarf]
Aiden “So what is the plan.”
Malthus asks Sagesse, “So your plan is to stay with the prince then?”
Sagesse “Yes sir.”
Malthus “Even though you were told to stay here?”
Sagesse “I haven’t been told to stay here, I was told to come here and document their religion. That part of my journey is finished. I walk the path of Linus, my path is where I see it should go that I might finally release this shackle and wear white robes of my own.”
Marqsam “I could stand to dally with the mermaid some more, so we can take the ship if you so desire my friend. Do we tell them who you are?” he asks the prince.
Aiden “I don’t think so.”
Marqsam “I don’t either.”
Aiden “So what do you think? How should we play this? Payment to the dwarf to get on board?”
At that point a loud cry is heard alerting everyone. An islander, Gerron’s cousin Johna, is running and yelling towards the Sugar Rum Hut. Gerron’s cousin goes on to detail that something swooped from the sky and snatched Boombaya, a child, and flew off towards the plateau.
The party decides to see if they can find Boombaya and the creature that snatched him. Because Shunk has to keep an eye on Marqsam he joins the group as well. Gerron’s cousin comes with the party as well. The party gears up and heads out.
Johna leads the party towards the place where they gather rocks. About forty-five minutes into the journey it about noon and the party is in a forested area. It starts to rain.
The prince is surprisingly stung in the neck by a yellow jacket. Aiden, though painfully stung, manages to move on, not suffering the ill effects that Roscius had from his yellow jacket sting.
Sagesse looks around and locates an herb for the part to rub on themselves to repel insects to avoid future attacks from yellow jackets.
After about another hour of travel through the forest the part is startled by a croak. While most of the group reacts quickly and wisely ducks their heads, Shunk is caught unaware and takes a vicious blow to the head from a stone toad, causing him to slide off of Thunk.
The party then hears a cacophony of croaks all around them. Everyone save for the ape gets down low to the ground to avoid incoming stone toads.
Noticing that Thunk is more curious than cautious, Sagesse enchants the ape with the stone skin spell to protect him from the impending stone toad attacks. Thunk is pummeled by a barrage of stone toads to the head. Though the stone skin spell was able to protect the curious ape from physical harm, the repeated shock from several stone toads hitting him about the head causes Thunk to slump back unconscious pinning his master, Shunk, to the ground.
Sagesse crawls back to inspect the ape to offer aid and try to revive the gorilla but his unfamiliarity with the species makes it too difficult for him to succeed. Sagesse then declares, “If we wait long enough they will leave,” referring to the stone toads.
So the party reluctantly waits for the stone toads to stop croaking and after about eight minutes no one can hear any more stone toads. Aiden decides to stand up and move along but quickly has to duck back down to the ground as two more stone toads fly by his head.
The toads all begin to start croaking again all around the party. Knowing that the party cannot afford to waste much more time Sagesse finds a ‘head’ sized stone and stands up, placing the stone in his cupped hands above his head. The decoy head attracts the stone toads and the party is able to move along at a somewhat quick pace and after about 15 minutes there’s no more sign of stone toads around.
Shortly after leaving the stone toad area the party come up to the base of the plateau which appears before them at the very edge of the forest.
It is about 2:30 pm in game time and the rain is starting to let up some at this point.
End of Session
(played out on July 11, 2006)
The party was witnessing a ritual sacrifice. The townspeople and the party sang and danced all night long, and then marched through every house in a line, eventually throwing Lane into the boiling mash to drown.
Malthus experienced a sharp pain when Lane was killed. He doubled over in pain, tears rolling down his face.
The sun was beginning to come from behind the eclipsing moon, giving a little bit of light. A cool breeze blew through the humid mist of dark day. Islanders fell down in the midst of their dancing, exhausted from the long ceremony, many having been working the ceremony for more than two days. The party was exhausted as well.
The bard headed off to have a drink at the sugar rum hut and fall asleep in the shade, and Sagesse and Malthus decided to go to their own huts. The Prince and Marqsam headed to their own hut as well.
The Prince addressed the gruesome sacrifice, “I’ve seen a lot of things, but I’ve never seen that.”
Marqsam replied, “Make sure we don’t have any of the stew,” immediately lightening the mood. The prince turned his attention back to the coded message as they all traveled back to the their huts in a loose group. He mentioned that the message was a mystery, and Malthus interjected “I thought it said to stay on the island.” This drew the prince’s reply, “But I think the coded message is telling us to come back.” “Cryptically” Sagesse began to support that notion, “Something would probably have to happen, and then we could go back.”
“We should probably reread the message” Aiden offered, rejoining from a quiet discussion with Roscius about iambic pentameter. The bard insisted “That’s probably all that the iambic pentameter comment meant, is that it could be read in that method.”
They walk for about 20 minutes before reaching the sugar-rum hut. Roscius asked Aiden to go ahead and keep his bag in his hut since he had nowhere to safeguard it for the time being. They parted ways at the broken, pirate sacked sugar-rum hut where Roscius’ other items were concealed under tarps. The town was as exhausted in total.
Marqsam addressed Malthus, “I was wondering something. How did you get on this island anyway?”
Marqsam “But how? It was blockaded at the time.”
Malthus “We got by” Malthus said simply.
Marqsam “Which side of the island did you come in on?”
Malthus ”I’ve been turned around by now; I’m really not sure. The pirate ship is no longer there.”
Marqsam “It is no longer there, no. I was just curious where you landed. Did you not see the pirate ship along the island?”
Malthus “We quietly got by and landed” was Malthus only explanation.
Aidan turned the conversation back to the coded message, and Sagesse pointed out that they needed “the key.” The monkey queen was brought up. The two priests realized a deeper mathematical meaning to the inscription on the outside of the message, perhaps the key itself: something about a rule of five by two. But both required more rest to study the message further. Aidan found Roscius bag where he had stuffed under his mattress during some drunken hour the day before, and moved it to a spot that would not prevent his being able to sleep.
The priests continued to be concern themselves with the coded message that was seemingly from the Cardinal, falling asleep quickly in their exhaustion. Sagesse was up just a few hours later, and as the recently eclipsed sun sank behind the horizon, Sagesse walked through the dark to the sugar-rum hut to work on compiling the information he had gathered on the island.
[* New Day – It is the 8th Day of Farris*]
A much brighter sun greeted them all that achy, overslept morning. Aidan was still preoccupied by the letter that morning. Finishing off his morning dregs from last night’s cup, Roscius hauled his old bones off of a gritty bench and headed to the prince’s hut. Arriving at the hut, the bard held the flimsy door in one hand so that he could knock on it with the other. Entering the prince and Marqsam’s company, he said, “Good day young prince!”
Aiden “Good Morning.”
Roscius “I came today to see if we were perhaps going to book passage on the first ship out.”
Aiden “I’m still not sure what to do, but that’s probably the case.”
Roscius “I think, after last evening, we’ll find out what to do in another place. In the mean time, you still have my bag.”
Aiden “I do.”
Marqsam “You’re for traveling, are you not?”
Roscius “I am,” the bard replied.
Marqsam “Do you know of other islands where the women walk around with their breasts bare?”
Roscius “There is rumored to be that in the new world.” Aiden doubted the bard’s sincerity and could not hold in a chuckle.
Marqsam “In the new world?”
Roscius “They are rumored to be larger there.”
Marqsam “The women or the breasts?”
Aiden tried once more to turn their attention to the letter, saying, “I’m more confused today than I was yesterday about this letter, so I’m not sure what to do.”
The bard grabbed his bag and placed it under his outer shirt for counting later. He looked in and saw enough gold to widen his eyes and increase his desire to investigate its contents. He began to pick through it, making a pile of counted out gold on the table before him. Soon he came across some contents that he did not at all expect.
Meanwhile, Aiden and Marqsam continued their conversation.
Marqsam “How much do you have to book passage on the ship?” , but seemed almost to be directing his question more toward Roscius.
Aiden “Well, when’s another one coming by? Which brings me to another point; we get paid for staying here.”
Malthus arrived at the door, saying, “You’re supposed to stay here, I believe.”
Aiden “One of the things that the letter tells us is to trust in the wisdom of our priest. You’re one.”
Malthus “Priests are often thought to have wisdom.”
Aiden “What are your thoughts on this?”
Malthus “I have been thinking since last night… One is not a prime number.”
Aiden “Oh really?” The prince seemed shocked. But the whole message made sense! How could he have been wrong? Perhaps the extra prime number made no difference, though it seemed unlikely.
Just then, Marqsam noticed a startled expression of pallid horror on Roscius’ face, and saw him try to palm something that was glinting, red on white, and slide it into his pocket. The old bard tried to go on counting calmly. He saw, however, that he had been seen.
Roscius “I would say that I am going to stop counting now and go talk to Sagesse. In the mean time, between what you have and what I have received, we should be able to book passage.”
Marqsam “And how much is that?” asked bluntly.
Roscius “I seem to have enough. I don’t know exactly; I haven’t finished counting, but suffice it to say that we seem to have plenty.”
Marqsam “And what was that red and white shiny thing you tried to hide in your pocket?”
Roscius “That is what we must see Sagesse about.”
Marqsam “Can I see it?”
Roscius felt very tried by this incessant questioning, “I don’t know that you would wish to at the moment. You’ll have to trust me on that.”
Back at the sugar-rum hut, Sagesse was transcribing his history and anthropology of Bay Town. A few townspeople were milling around the hut, and Gerron returned to his duties there. The word “Understathe” was given the number one, and there is discussion of the fact that without it, the message has the same meaning. Syllabically, the message was not working into the iambic pentameter.
Gerron offered to speak with Roscius about commissioning a home on the island with his newfound wealth, and they set a meeting for later that day “when the sun is highest.” The little entourage gathered under a stand of trees that was down the shore a way and out of earshot and sight of passers by. The bard opened with Sagesse, saying, “I have some questions for you.”
Sagesse “All right…”
Roscius “In reference to the questions you asked me.”
Sagesse “What questions were those?”
Roscius "You wanted to know about my bag.”
Sagesse “Ah yes…”
Sagesse “Well, mainly because if the pirates come back, you will have to part with it or part with your life.”
Roscius "There’s more. Tell me more.”
Sagesse “Well… It actually has some of the Source about it. It has an energy.”
Roscius “There’s something that you should hear. I opened it in the morning when it should have been empty, and when I decided to go through it, I found this.” The bard tossed out onto the sand before them, a nicely manicured finger, cut neatly from its body, wearing a very nice silvery ring with a large square-cut light blue gemstone set in it.
Sagesse “What gruesomeness is this?” Sagesse said, taking a reviled step back, and then ironically leaning forward in curiosity.
Roscius “There’s more,” the bard revealed, emptying the large sack onto the sand. Hundreds of gold pieces flooded forth, accompanied by a small, neatly bleached skull, one too small to be of a human. It looked to Sagesse like the skull of some intelligent creature, not human though. But the only intelligent creature known to the young priest was man.
Marqsam “You collect odd things, bard!”
Roscius “Again, the bag was empty, and when it was no longer empty these were in it.” Roscius replied.
Sagesse was dubious, “How did you honestly come by this bag?”
Roscius “I actually gave you the truth.”
Sagesse “I did not sense as much.”
Roscius “What you sensed was that I knew secrets about it. And I give you secrets in the place for secrets, not in front of a village.”
Sagesse chuckled, recalling Roscius’ revelation that the pirate vessel was sorely undermanned, not at all in the place for secrets. But Roscius’ loyalties were at question there. The young priest examined the bag and the items that had appeared in it more closely.
“While you’re looking at it, please remove the pirate’s name from it if you can,” Roscius asked. Sinclaire’s name was embroidered in a silver metallic thread, perhaps real silver, into the inside of the purse. The skull and the finger did not appear inherently, but they seemed to Sagesse to reveal the faint residue of having been affected by trifling with the Source’s energies. The ring looked unlike anything the men had ever seen in their faraway homelands. But perhaps Roscius recognized the style from his travels to Puerto DosMundos. The skin tone seemed entirely wrong for that area, but perhaps it was so light for having no blood in it. It was unnerving that it was so freshly severed, not old bones, but from a probably still living woman somewhere it seemed.
Sagesse “Well… I have no answers for you.”
Roscius “It was told to me that when the bag would be emptied, the money that I needed would be there. But in all honesty I expected that to be false. The man was good. I had need of money, and between the two of them he was the one that seemed least to be trying to rip me off. He seemed to be honest, if not misled. So now I find myself with a bag that not only creates gold coins out of thin air, but comes with…” Roscius suggested putting a couple of gold coins in the bag “so that it won’t bring us any more body parts. Before yesterday I thought that all tales of magic were fabrications of the church.”
Aiden (In response to some unheard comment) “Well I haven’t been drinking today.” He notices a glass rum flask in tucked into his belt. “How did that get there?” It was taunting him. He decided to throw it with a great force against a tree. There it shattered, spraying alcohol every direction.
Marqsam “I could have drank that”
Sagesse “Then you might have thrown it out to sea.”
Marqsam (Laughing) “He was afraid he might have been able to find it later.”
The group’s attention was drawn to a small ship that had sailed into the bay, a sailboat.
Sagesse “You may all help yourselves to as much as you can of the coin on the ground.”
Roscius attempted to put as much as possible in his own pockets, dividing the rest between Marqsam, Aiden, and Malthus. Sagesse was following the path of Linus, and chose to honor his self-imposed vow of poverty. The sum was about three hundred gold all told. They would have approximately 75 gold each, but Marqsam’s was supplemented by his previous gambling winnings. Malthus added that to the fifty gold he already carried, which was given to him by the Cardinal, and Aidan had not yet counted the gold from his allowance, later to be found about 250. All told, the party was very wealthy at this point. Sagesse had only a small sum of money (if any?) the pirate’s purse, the skull, the finger and its ring.
Marqsam “Is it possible that the last time you looked in that bag, you failed to notice?”
Roscius “Three hundred gold pieces?”
Marqsam “No, the finger laying in the bottom of the bag.”
Roscius “Were you not there when I emptied it out, turned the bag inside out on the table at the sugar-rum hut?”
Marqsam “Maybe the captain put it in there without you seeing.”
Roscius “I emptied it out personally. I’d have seen it since.”
Marqsam “Have you been drinking?”
Roscius “Well, many times, but nothing that would influence…”
The rest of the party took some time also examining the small skull. Marqsam surmised that it could be the skull of a baby gorilla. He had seen such animals once at a fair.
Marqsam “If we can stop looking at skulls and fingers, we really came out here to ask ‘the wisdom of the priest(s)’”
Aiden “It says here that we are to ‘bear first in mind the wisdom of our priest,’ or at least I think that’s what we have cracked out of this code. So a couple of key points here that I find… ‘And you shall seek infinity through truth’? Does that bring anything for either one of you?”
Marqsam “What does that mean?”
Aiden “And also ‘the patience of the queen is knowing the key leads the wandering exile back…’ Infinity, key? Wisdom?”
Marqsam (bluntly) “Do we leave or not?”
Malthus “It is not whether you leave or not, for eventually you will have to leave. But it is where your destination lies…”
Roscius “Is it a musical key?”
Aiden “It… could be. It could be.”
Malthus (disdainfully)” Maybe you should play the musical scale next to the note and something magical will happen.”
Sagesse “As far as infinity goes, infinity is a problem I had with passing my test. It comes up many times in mathematics.”
Aiden “So how do you find infinity?”
Sagesse “Well for me, it is to find the solution to my own problem. But beyond that… I know that we have not actually exercised the iambic pentameter in that. There may be a second message within it… may have to start at another place based on the iambic pentameter.”
Roscius “Infinity could be another word for the Source itself. Perhaps it means simply ‘Seek the church.’”
Malthus “But it already says to listen to the priests. That would be somewhat redundant.”
Sagesse “Well, to seek our wisdom…”
Aiden “What does infinity mean?”
Sagesse “What does infinity mean? Never ending… goes on forever…”
Malthus “We still have to decide where to go.”
Marqsam “Back home.”
Malthus “It specifically states in the message that we should not wish to return home.”
Marqsam “But the real message—“
Aiden “In the first message it says don’t return home, but in the message we think we decoded—“
Sagesse “I don’t think your father would have dropped off a bunch of gold for you just recently if you were meant to come home soon.”
Roscius “How else was he supposed to pay for his passage, since he’s spent all his gold on rum?”
Aiden “Maybe just maybe I’m so important that whoever is screwing with my dad wants to keep me here.”
Malthus “OR! Well… that may be possible…”
Marqsam “Did your dad ever say what would happen to us if we returned without his permission?”
Malthus “Political rumor said that you would be killed.”
Marqsam “Well not me! I’m not actually exiled.”
Aiden expected imprisonment at the very least and probably death.
They walk back to the sugar-rum hut.
Gerron “Oh you are back early! This is good. My cousin is come now very soon. You pretty sure you ready to build now, huh?”
Roscius “I am not so sure any longer.”
Gerron “Uh oh.”
Roscius “But I’d like to pursue the idea.”
Gerron “Well that’s good, because he’s looking forward to it. Ah here he come.”
Another black man, looking not much different than the rest of the island men, approaches. A discussion ensues of Jimbaya’s building abilities, recent marriage, relationships with other islanders, and need for money. They offer three different plans, new hut, old hut, or new stone hut. Rental becomes part of the vocabulary. It is mentioned that Roscius brought the pirates, and negotiations come to a stand still for a while. The price for the used hut is 180. Roscius claims, falsely, not to be able to afford it. The islanders seem disappointed that he now only wants to rent, and they admit that the roof leaks in the old hut. Roscius buys a round for the whole group and a little mumbaye as well. In the mean time, the rest of the group continues to consider the problem of the mysterious encoded document. They agree on 10 gold a day, though Rosius’ old ears fail him, believeing that he is agreeing to only 2 gold a day.
Roscius “Jimbaya pointed out that he likes to make the religious sign for infinity (over his chest). He related it directly to the ocean. If we are supposed to seek the truth in infinity, could our fate lie over the ocean.”
Aiden “If that boat’s name is Truth, then we’re on it. We also don’t know from where these message’s actually come. And whoever the scribe was had ulterior motives. But why would there be a numerical code or equation at the bottom of the letter to me?”
Malthus “If you were supposed to come back you would think that they would have told me to tell you to come back.”
Aiden “Maybe it’s all clandestine, and no one is supposed to know I’m coming back.”
Malthus “Since we will be coming back with you, I would find that out at some point I would assume… unless I stay on the island as I have been told to do.”
Aiden “It’s up to us to figure this out.”
Marqsam “What are you (Malthus) supposed to do; just stay on the island?”
Malthus “I am to assist with the (chronicling of) native rituals.”
Marqsam “Oh… That sounds like fun…”
Roscius “Couldn’t you get the information from men who have stayed here for three (actually two) years?”
Sagesse “I’ve already done the writing; he has to make a second entry.”
Marqsam “Don’t you think there’s something going on, a little bit? Between the Cardinal and the King?”
Malthus “No… Because the King is one of the true followers. He believes very strongly in the Source.”
Aiden “But believing strongly in the Source and believing in the Church are not always the same thing.”
Sagesse “I’ve only known the Cardinal to be a good man.”
Aiden “I’m not saying the Cardinal is not a good man—“
Marqsam “We’re not saying that he’s not a good man, but would he go against the King’s wishes… if he thinks it’s best for the Kingdom? Or could he even help the king (in some plot).”
Aiden “I don’t necessarily think that this message is the Cardinal’s doing.”
Sagesse “It has his seal on it.”
Aiden “Somebody else wrote it for him.”
(A cacophony of voices, both disagreeing and supportive, erupt)
Aiden “Nobody said that it was coded. It just said it was of prime importance.”
Marqsam “We just went through all of that just because it said it was of prime importance!”
Aiden “I’m… ha ha… I decided it was coded (chuckling).”
Roscius “Actually, I did think that the iambic pentameter thing has got to do with something with reference to a code.”
Aiden “I just told you it was code— you think that’s all it meant—“
Roscius “I think that’s what it meant.”
Aiden “You think – it doesn’t mean I have to read this in ten syllable lines… I broke it down into ten syllable chunks, if you care to read it. There’s only one sentence that stands out. It has a little star by it there.”
Malthus “The one (not being prime) changes it, depending on where you place it…”
Roscius “What happens if you start with “understand”?”
Aiden “’Undertathe?’ No. It’s not part of the message. One is not a prime number.”
Roscius “When you’re breaking it into tens, what if you start with ‘understand’”?
Aiden “Does nothing… well… if I did that… then it would be ‘Un.’
Under stathe thee the message is a HEAVY
Plea ex heir exiled to islands far at SEA
[Here wait, I think I see that Sagesse’s thumb print has rubbed something out… Looks like the word “hearted”… Heavy “hearted” ;) ]
By adding two syllables it completely thwarts this. I don’t think that where I was headed was the right direction…”
Malthus “As I do not think that returning to the mainland is the correct idea.”
Aiden “I don’t think that returning to the mainland is necessarily the correct idea, but there’s definitely something.”
Sagesse (looking over the lyrics to the bard’s song for the prince) “What is this adjective ‘apen’?”
Roscius “I think it just means ‘monkey’, the apelike king…”
Marqsam “Now with the new word, have you tried it with ‘understathe’?”
Aiden “It doesn’t count. The one, it’s right out the door.”
Roscius “Could be a zero.”
Malthus “It does not count. It is not prime. (voices of dissention) It is not prime. (more arguing) It is not… prime.”
Aiden “Well apparently he knows.”
Marqsam feels a hand on his shoulder rubbing him. He tenses up for a second, then looks over to see a black, feminine, beautiful hand there. He recognizes the islander Marita with whom he had spent many a cozy evening.
Marita “Come up to the grove.”
Marqsam “I was just and the grove. Didn’t have much fun there.”
Marita “Well you weren’t there with me.”
Marqsam (after a pause of consideration) “I’ll be right back…”
(The lovers begin to head off for some private time, which eventually becomes embarrassing)
Gerron “Hey, Marita! What you do there today now?”
Marita “I was just going to go off and pick some bananas.”
Gerron “Alright, that’s good, that’s good. I’ll be seein’ Johna later now.”
Marita “Ah yeah. He was looking for you earlier, but he’ll be off in the fields all day. “
Gerron “I know that’s right. I know that’s right.”
Marita “I’ll just go find a good banana grove I think.”
(She winks at Marqsam and then slips off down the beach. He wants to follow)
Gerron “Hey, now, Marqsam. I got a sprig o’ mumbaye looks too good to be left alone for you for free here now.”
Marqsam dallying behind, “For free now? Now you’re making me suspicious. What did you put into the muimbaye?”
Gerron laughing, “Nothin’ nothin’, I just like ya hangin’ around here. Now you buy more rum, I notice, when you smoke the mumbaye. Here ya go.”
Marita continues to walk down the beach, headed for their secret place, giving a wink over her shoulder to the dashing lad.
Sagesse approaches Gerron offering the two gold pieces from the pirate’s pouch. He requests mumbaye for himself.
Gerron “Oh, two gold pieces. You want to take that much do ya?”
Gerron “They only three silver a piece.”
Gerron “I’ll go ahead give you seven even, that’s good. Thank you, Sagesse.”
Gerron removes three sprigs from a ten pack of mumbaye, handing the remaining seven to Sagesse tied up in a bundle with a little mumbaye string (useful stuff it is). He tightens it up and hands him the seven bundle. Sagesse lights a sprig off of a nearby candle that adorns the tables for just that purpose. He returns to studying the pirate’s pouch and its contents.
There is some discussion of the difficulties of building a pier on the island and the relative difficulties of not having one.
Gerron “I think I see man… swimming in.”
Two men are seen leisurely swimming next to the boat,
Jimbaya “I don’t think they comin’ in. I think they takin’ a dip.”
Gerron “Hard to say. They pretty far from their boat, though. That’s for sure.”
Jimbaya “Hey, Marita come down here a while ago?”
Gerron “Uh, has anyone seen Marita ‘round here?”
Jimbaya “I coulda’ swear I saw her walkin’ other way.”
Gerron “She maya’ walk by.”
Jimbaya “Johna I thought was come back early to see her from the field.”
Gerron “That right?”
Jimbaya “Just saw him walkin’ past. He musta’ got done choppin’ early.”
Gerron “Could be, could be.”
Jimbaya “Hmm. Yeah, I don’t think they comin’ in to trade, I think they takin’ a dip.”
Roscius “They’re getting closer.”
Jimbaya “That’s because the ocean moves this way.”
Gerron “Let’s get that raft out there anyway – you brought the raft down.”
Jimbaya “I got the raft – look like they takin’ a dip top me all. –I’ll put the raft in.”
Gerron “We have it ready if they need.”
The ship is seen to have the dark blue flag of Oxiden, a far notrthern country. There is some discussion of what language is spoken there, but they speak Capesian just as the Alemans and Westenders.
Sagesse’s study of the bag reveals that, through an information summoning, analyze magic. A critical success, a spell which he retains, reveals that the bag has magical properties; one must spend all of the contents of the bag before it will become full again, but when this happens, it will contain 300 gold, the finger with the jeweled ring, and the skull. It seems possible that anything spent directly out of the bag may become part of the spell under the right circumstances.
[There is some embarrassing role playing between Marita and Marqsam.] He “got her to the place she wanted to be.” They got along famously. She tried to talk him into staying on the island. They heard someone approaching. Marqsam tried to roll them over under a bush to hide, and he succeeded, though his lover gave out an ignorant giggle, soliciting a “Who there?” from the passing husband. Marqsam is well enough able to hide them that there is no confrontation. The man is heard to walk away.
Two men come swimming ashore at the sugar-rum hut, white skinned fellows apparently from Occiden, wearing light weight kilt-like garments to swim in but bare-chested. The two smile and talk between themselves as they approach the sugar-rum hut. Gerron approaches them, and Sagesse addresses Roscius as the men meet with Gerron just outside the hut.
Sagesse “This is the bag of a swindler. If this bag is emptied, when it resets itself, everything that has been within it will come back. So the coin that you spend from it will return as long as it’s empty.”
Roscius “So if we were to put everything from it into my pockets, then my pockets would empty into it on their own.”
Sagesse “Mm hm.”
Roscius “Well I don’t think I like that. No wonder they wanted it so badly. How does it work?”
Sagesse slight chuckle, “I… can’t tell you exactly how it works. I didn’t enchant it.”
Roscius “So, does the silvery thread inside it have anything to do with what is required for it to work?”
Sagesse “I think that was… an after effect, that he put in there to claim it as his own.”
Roscius “So if I put other coins in there in addition to these, would those always come back?”
Sagesse “I Believe so. We would have to test it. Seems a valuable thing to have if you don’t want to lose something.”
Malthus “Or you never want to give any money, you may… So if you paid me money, and the bag was not all the way empty yet, in theory I would keep that coin until the bag was completely empty, at which point it would all return.”
Malthus began to dig in his pockets and examine the pirate’s coins. He and the bard discussed the situation quietly. Sagesse immediately stood up and went out to catch Gerron and give back the six of the seven mumbaye sprigs that he bought with the pirate coin.
Gerron “You want to… sell mumbaye?”
Sagesse “I just want to give it back to you.”
Gerron “Are you sure (seeming confused)?”
Sagesse (calmly) “I’m positive.”
Gerron “There’s something wrong with it?”
Sagesse “Nothing at all wrong with it.”
Gerron “I can sell it again then?”
Gerron (pause) “You all right?”
Sagesse “I’m perfectly fine.”
Gerron dubiously examining the mumbaye, “OK…”
Sagesse “I have a feeling that the money with which I paid you will disappear. I could not take this in all good faith and honesty… if I knew that your money would disappear.”
Gerron chuckling, “You think the money gonna’ disappear… Now I know you got… strange ways with the Source. You not tellin’ me I gon’ get robbed are you?””
Sagesse smiling, “Uhh… It’s something that I discovered in the nature of the Source within the pirate’s bag. It’s been imbued with something of the Source that it forces the money that I spent from it to return.”
Gerron “Oh! It’s got bad Buru!”
Sagesse “Something like that.”
Gerron “Mm hmm. Prob’ly we gon’ see those pirates again ‘cause their bag, I guess. That’s prob’ly what you mean.”
Sagesse with a sigh, “Ahh… I have that fear.”
Gerron “Well you can keep this. You know, we can only do what we can do, and then there’s bad Buru in the world.”
Sagesse chuckles, “Well, I insist that you keep it.”
Gerron “Well I don’t mind if I take a blue for myself.”
Roscius also emerging from the hut to meet Gerron, “In light of the knowledge that Sagesse has given me, I don’t want you to wake up one day, you or your cousin, and find the money that I gave you to be gone, so if you would keep hold of it, I will return with a trade for it.”
Gerron “Keep hold the money?”
Roscius “The money that I had given you up to this point.”
Gerron “What money you give me? You mean for buyin’ the stuff already?”
Roscius “The money that I spent already. I gave you the money for the food, and the money for the rent, and the money for the drinks that I shared with your cousin.”
Jimbaya as he returns to the edge of the sugar-rum hut, “The drinks?”
Gerron “How much money you gave for rent?”
Roscius “Uh, I gave six.”
Jimbaya “Just six?”
Roscius “Six Gold.”
Jimbaya “That’s not even one day.”
Roscius “Three days, it was two a day”.
Gerron “Ten a day.”
Roscius laughing and surprised, “Oh, I didn’t catch ‘ten a day,’ I thought you said two a day”
Jimbaya and Gerron seemed unamused
Jimbaya “Read my lips. Ten a day, right here.”
Gerron “Ten. I got no problem hearin’ ten.”
Roscius “I came to you and counted ‘1,2. 1,2. 1,2.’”
Jimbaya “I was wonderin’ when you was gonna’ come back with the rest of the money.”
Roscius (laughter) “Ten a day, my my my…”
Gerron “So you want—”
Jimbaya “me to repair the sugar-rum hut.”
Gerron “Keep that ten!”
Roscius “Seems like it’s a separate deal. If it was ten a day I’m afraid-”
Malthus “Unless we go somewhere and eventually we—”
Aidan piping in, “Eventually we may come back, and then—”
Roscius “Ahhh… If it was ten a day I don’t… ah…”
Gerron “This is some strange kind a’ doin’ business that you fellows do. You know I… I’m startin’ to feel a little weird about this.”
Roscius “Oh I would as well. The important thing to note though is brought to your attention not by anyone who would [???] you anything but by us.”
Jimbaya “Except for now he wants to renegotiate the price on the rental.”
Roscius “Well I thought I had paid you for three days with the six gold. I’m sorry; my ear is just not what it used to be.”
Jimbaya “You were unable to read my lips.”
Gerron “I don’t know. You know—”
Malthus “Your mind is short lived?”
Gerron “here’s what I think we aught do.”
[mumbling among the party members]
Jimbaya “What you think?”
Gerron “Why don’t you give us four more gold, he move out tonight, you have place to stay tonight – you can put your stuff in there, we move the stuff, right? Then tomorrow you come back. We do business straight forward. No more of this changin’ things, no more bad Buru in the money.”
Roscius “So what do we do about the money I have given you?”
Gerron (pause) “That’s our money!”
Roscius “It is, but as Sagesse has told you, it may not stay in your possession, and that is something I did not know when I granted it you.”
Gerron “I think we take care of our money pretty good.”
Jimbaya “Taken care of for long time.”
Gerron “We take it to Tanwaya, she take care of it.”
Sagesse “Very well.”
Gerron “Get rid of the Buru.”
Roscius “At least it makes sense. Well I think that if you’re satisfied with the money from me, then I will give you four more from it.”
Gerron “Then tomorrow you come back, you want further days, you know, then you can pay for further days, but today we got bad business.”
Sagesse examining something newfound in the coded message, “Huh. It’s an actual rhyme, that’s nice.”
Gerron and Jimbaya discussed what the men in the sailboat were purchasing. They also discuss the nature of the money and the bad business they perceive.
Aiden revealed to the rest of the party that he was considering approaching the Occidentals about booking passage. Those men were still relaxing in the water near shore. They had not entered the rum hut, but had finished their business with Gerron before the discussion about the rent money.
Aiden “Someone needs to find out why those guys are here.”
Marqsam approaching the table, having returned from his rendezvous excursion, “and what the name of the ship is!”
Roscius venturing out on the beach toward the Occidentals, “Ahoy!”
Occiden 1 “Ahoy?”
Occiden 2 “Hey there, uh, how’s it goin’?”
Occiden 1 “Hello.”
Occiden 2 “How is it? You don’t look like you’re from here.”
Roscius approaching them more closely, “I’m not. And I’m looking to leave.”
Occidentals (together) “Really?”
Roscius “Would you be able to book passage?”
Occiden 2 laughing, “Oh oh… We don’t – we don’t really do that kinda’ thing. Just family business.”
Occiden 1 “Just small business.”
Roscius “Small businesses don’t transport people as well as goods?”
Occiden 2 “Well… It’s just dangerous, you know, we’ve got the wives on the boat.”
Roscius “And you’re worried that I would approach your wife? Surely a young man like you wouldn’t be worried about an old man like me.”
Occiden 2 “Well this is the man that own’s the boat, but…” [indicating Occiden 1]
Occiden 1 “We do not… transport people.”
Roscius “What’s the name of your boat?”
Occiden 1 “The Shining Star.”
Roscius “The Shining Star.”
Occiden 1 “This is mostly for our personal pleasures, you see. We only come by to equip ourselves. You know, what’s his name, Gerron? He is a welcome sight when we go on our cruises.”
Roscius “When you go on your cruises. This is a cruise ship? A fun ship?”
Occiden 1 “It’s for our pleasures, yes, mostly, right?”
Occiden 2 “We sell a little bit of what we trade around, but you know.”
Roscius “What are you selling here?”
Occiden 2 “Oh we’re not selling here, we’re just picking up some supplies.”
Occiden 1 “Now supplies we can move from place to place, but not people. We don’t do people.”
Roscius “I’m sorry, I did not catch your names.”
Occiden 1 “I am Varius. I am the captain of the vessel.”
Occiden 2 “Vivian.”
Marqsam also approaching, “Does that mean you go by many names? Or…”
Varius “I go by whatever name will cause me the least problems.”
Varius “the name ‘Varius’ doesn’t cause me any problems in these parts.”
Roscius “You go by other names elsewhere?”
Varius “As all do who spend time on the sea running product from place to place.”
Marqsam “Where do you travel from here?”
Varius “Mmm… We generally don’t discuss our ports. Where is your ship?”
Vivian “Where is it you guys are trying to get to?”
Roscius “For right now we’re just trying to leave the island, and we’ll go from there.”
Vivian “Is it that hard?”
Varius “You’re not from hear, we can tell, obviously.”
(At the same moment) Marqsam – “Born and raised.” Roscius – “Just got here.”
(Laughter from all)
Varius “I have heard stranger tales of fiction.”
Marqsam “Reborn and raised.”
Varius “So, who do you travel with?”
Vivian “How much are you guys thinkin’ to pay for…”
Roscius “Well, on second thought, if you don’t book passage, well then I don’t want to waste your time.”
Varius “Well we are—”
Vivian “Anything can be done for the right price. I’m just sayin’…”
Varius “We prefer to travel light and fast, and five would weigh down the vessel.”
Roscius “we’re five thin men, very thin men.”
Varius “Ha. Well, yes, but…”
Roscius “Small, slight of stature also.”
Vivian “We’d prob’ly have to leave behind some product to free up room too, you know?”
Varius “And you can see the vessel, the Shining Star travels fast. It’s a small vessel. It’s built for speed.”
Marqsam “How fast?”
Varius “Hmm… She can fly.”
Roscius (willing to believe anything), “She can fly? I assume you mean… figuratively.”
Varius “Well you do understand that there are blockades out there.”
Malthus “There should be no more blockades.”
Varius “Maybe not officially, but what about the pirates? So again, I’m a man of numbers—”
Vivian “You guys have trouble on this island?”
Marqsam (perhaps too quickly), “No!”
Roscius (With perhaps too much grace), “No!”
Marqsam “Well, not now.”
Roscius “Nothing that couldn’t be handled.”
Varius (slowly) “O.K.”
Vivian “We were just picking up the mumbaye and the rum. I think we’ll be…”
Marqsam “Just that fact that pirates were here two days ago.”
Vivian “Ohhh. That’s the trouble.”
Roscius “But we chased them off with no trouble at all.”
Varius “Don’t they always… It was nice to meet you.”
Vivian “You guys have a wonderful vacation, there.”
The two Occidentals wandered a way down the coast awaiting delivery of their products. The party discusses the Shining Star, mostly in name.
Back with the party in the sugar-rum hut:
Roscius “The name of the boat is the Shining Star. They don’t take on passengers, either that or they like to haggle a little stronger than… I’m afraid that my—”
Marqsam “You didn’t even try haggling!”
Roscius “I have been drinking. I’m not entirely sure that you would want to travel any routes that they would want to take.”
Marqsam “You don’t think they’re Smugglers do you?”
Aiden “I wouldn’t know why; there’s nothing illegal here.”
Marqsam “Here it’s not illegal.”
Aiden “I’ve never heard of anywhere that mumbaye or sugar-rum are illegal. Maybe just to avoid taxes I guess.”
Sagesse “‘Taxes’ from pirates.”
Marqsam “You guys need to decide whether you we’re giving up here, cause if we decide quickly, maybe we could negotiate a way to get back.”
Roscius “I wouldn’t mind leaving tomorrow.”
Malthus “It’s not like there won’t be other vessels.”
Aiden “One can hope. This is the first ship we’ve seen since the pirates left, and even last summer we only saw a few boats a week. Until word gets out that the port is safe…”
Malthus “I would think you could get a better option.”
Aiden “Depends on what we’re trying to do.”
Malthus “Ah, well, maybe we should decide what we’re trying to do.”
Aiden “That might be the best option, but we don’t know what we’re trying to do.”
(Marqsam’s eyes follow a beautiful native girl)
Roscius “All those women pawing at you. Trust me, it gets old after a while.”
Clouds rolled into the hot day with a stiff but cool breeze. The Occidentals were heard to be hastening their loading work. It seemed that rain was imminent. Bails of mumbaye began to appear on the raft and disappear into the hull of the sailboat. This did not seem to terribly threatening weather to the men, who had ridden out a couple of small hurricanes.
Marqsam (letting the girl walk off unmolested}, “What did the combined wisdom of our priests and now sober prince find out for us? Are we off to see the world?”
Roscius whispers something about the strange method of capitalizing words in the letter to Aiden.
Aiden “Yeah, that one’s the beginning of a line though. Care to read it again? Now that it’s broken down into tens, it says… the same thing.”
Sagesse (sarcastically), “Imagine that!”
Malthus “It’s cryptic. Are bards good at crypticism?”
Sagesse “But they don’t take criticism well.”
Roscius “And you shall seek infinity through truth, Why should we bow to that greater power who, coordinates every fate greatest to least, bear first in mind the wisdom of the priest, The patience of the queen is knowing the, Key leads the wandering exile back from sea.”
Marqsam “Wandering exile back. If you’re an exile from someplace and you’ve got to go back, it’s going home. We’re going to Westend.”
Aiden “But we’re not being led back.”
Marqsam “To Westend?”
Aiden “Lead me back.”
Malthus “If something would draw you there, it’s seems that you must find that something—”
Aiden “It’s a journey.”
Marqsam “A song from an errant bard.”
Marqsam “We have a secret letter from a Cardinal. A rude limerick from a bard that pointedly leads back to—”
Malthus “But you’re definitely exiled,” he says to the prince.
Roscius also speaking to Aiden, “Well you do look a little different.”
Aiden “No one’s going to recognize me for who I am unless they’re looking for me.”
Malthus “Or unless something occurs where you have to state who you are.”
Aiden “I’m not averse to lying.”
Roscius (returning to the note) “What about the last letter of each line, or the last word of each line? Read that off.”
Aiden “Plea the truth who least priest the sea…”
Roscius “Hmmm… What about the first word of each line?”
Aiden "’The ex and why coordinates… bear the…’ “The X and Y coordinates bear the key! What’s the formula at the end of the paper? This is completely making sense now!”
Sagesse “I know sobriety is difficult for you, but bear with us.”
Marqsam “But he said it’s not a mathematical formula.”
Aiden “Maybe it’s not a mathematical formula. Maybe it’s just locations on a map.”
Roscius “Several locations on a map, perhaps a path!”
Aiden “Did you guys write that down? Maybe they are some kind of…”
(Sagesse dug through his pouch for the original note, since the party had been working with their own notes and scratchings written down from the original)
Aiden “Does anyone have a map?”
Roscius “Of course not.”
Malthus “If this were true, then we could plot each X and Y coordinate because it looks like there are… Hmmm…”
Roscius “X equals, Y equals?”
Malthus “There is no such configuration. There’s X 155, Y 187… So now we have XY coordinates. Now we need a map.”
Regardless of the fact that most of the company was imbibing the rum, Aiden was able to stick to the mumbaye alone, which Marqsam shared with him.
Roscius “Well I’m sure the people on the boat have one. ‘Everythig’s possible for the right price.’”
Aiden “Are you going to be able to structure that into any kind of XY coordinates?”
Malthus “Well, it says X and there’s an annotated number next to it—”
Aiden “Great, but there are a lot of Xs on each line. Which one’s more important?”
Malthus “There’s actually only one that—there’s only one with annotation on top of it.”
Roscius “There he is,” Spotting the men floating on the barge-raft.
It was seen that the men are too far away to be summoned by voice. Only a visual signal might have called them in again. They were rushing to load their goods before the imminent storm struck.
Roscius “Perhaps I can hail a ride out there on the raft when it returns.”
Malthus “And then how will you—oh! You can purchase it with the money you found.”
Roscius “Right. If you have to spend it on something, you might as well spend it on this.”
The rain began to texture the water with droplets, and soon droplets could be seen hitting the sand just outside the hut, starting to come down hard. Roscius acquired another tarp made of thin mumbaye cloth from Gerron to cover his shoulders, planning to ride out to the boat as soon as the raft returned. When finally the raft returned…
Varius “Yes? Oh, it’s a little late to be loading people on there, I uh—”
Roscius “Oh no no. We are not ready for that. You made a quite convincing argument that your ship must be light in order to travel fast. However, I’m sure you have more than one chart or map on the boat, and I find myself in need of one, and we just don’t seem to have one here.”
Varius “Uh… How much—”
Vivian “What would need to be on this map?”
Roscius “Why do I always need to start, surely you have a price in mind to help us.”
Vivian “We’re not selling it.”
Varius “Yeah, it’s—”
Vivian “We’ve got one map on the ship.”
Roscius “You have one map on the ship.”
Vivian “One that would navigate us where we need to go.”
Varius “What do you need to see?”
The conversation degenerates into a discussion about the differences between a map and a series of charts, modulated by the expense and relative value of high quality charts and incomplete ones. Eventually it was agreed that the bard would be willing to pay a certain price to view the sailors’ charts of the southern portion of the mainland. The map could be bought for one hundred, but a loan was offered for fifty. They headed into the rum hut for a drink, a round bought by the bard. The occidentals even sparred with him with the idea of drawing a map in the sand for five or ten gold. Splitting up the set would not budge from the price of one hundred. They came down to thirty gold for a view, but the bard preferred to buy for the full hundred.
Malthus further examined the formula, trying to discover some way to draw coordinates from the strange, nonsensical mathematical formula. He was searching for two numbers in parentheses, separated by a comma. There were items in it that met parts of that description, but not entirely. There were also Z’s, which helped not at all.
Varius “There you go, there’s your map, brother. Are you familiar with maps?”
Roscius “I am.”
Varius “Just remember sir, a map is only as good as its key.”
Vivian “That’s true.”
Roscius “Are these coordinate systems accurate? And… I sense some more bargain in your voice.”
Vivian “You can see that it’s of a very high quality.”
Roscius turned to the Bishop for a coordinate to test the veracity of the map with. Having quite some experience with both land and sea navigation, Roscius was able to determine that the map seemed quite trustworthy. The party determined that the fact that the key was missing was the main problem.
The Occidentals do not want to go out into the lightning and storm to get the map, but eventually the raft, carrying Aidan, Sagesse, and Vivian floated to the sailboat across the rolling waves. Their mission is to return with the full set of charts, only to be rented for the night. Marqsam is definitely not welcome on the short journey to the boat, on which the Occidental wives remained. Lightning was first seen striking the water outside of the bay. I stiff wind was blowing, but not strongly enough to pull the raft off course.
Back on land the conversation turned to the benefits of weaning Aiden from his drinking habit. Roscius and Marqsam spoke quietly to one another about such long range plans as the strolled to the sugar-rum bar.
Once at the sailboat, Vivian climbed up a short rope ladder to board the vessel. Aiden followed him up onto the small vessel, and Sagesse remained behind to hold the raft. Lightning was striking nearer the bay, and Sagesse began to wonder if he would have been better served by an ability to protect himself from lightning rather than proper heat or drowning. He offered a prayer to the Source for his protection from the thundersom bolts. He felt some comfort that his prayer would be effective.
Aboard the vessel, Aiden was alert to all around him. He noticed a woman who seemed to be expecting Vivian, but not any visitors. After a few whispered words from the Occidental, she hurried below deck with a suspicious glance at the visitor, obviously unaccustomed to many. Aiden and Vivian continued on to go to a more forward cabin, apparently a navigating chamber. A few charts were spread out, having recently been rifled by the auspicious sailors.
Vivian “Ok. You see anything else in here that we could use to cover these things up?”
The sailor was holding a loose piece of sailcloth that had been ripped into about a square yard piece. Looking around, Aiden spied the normal things one would expect to see in such a room, including a sextant in a nice case.
Aiden “You bringing that?”
Vivian “The sextant?”
Aiden “Well, won’t we need that?”
Vivian "Why would we need that? You use it to gauge the sun, and I’m not even sure I could see the damn sun right now… (Too many clouds … chuckles)
Aiden “I’m just trying to bring everything we need… to chart the course…”
There were other instruments present that may have been useful in more exactly deciphering the map, but embarrassed, Aiden did not mention them. Vivian gathered up all of the loose maps and tried to cover them as well as possible with the tattered sailcloth, saying:
Vivian “Stand here; I’m goin’ to try to get an old shirt or something to hold them under. I want to try to keep them out of the weather. I’ll be right back.”
While he was gone, Aiden searched the room quickly. He had only a few minutes. He looked around to see the desk, the stairway leading to this chamber, and a small couch-like piece of furniture. He chose to examine the desk only with his short time. Searching the desk, he discovered that there was a secret compartment in the back of a desk drawer, but footsteps were approaching before he could discover the method for opening the little compartment. Vivian returned.
Vivian “Come on, let’s go.”
Aiden “All right.”
On land, Malthus began to itch for his personal protection, disappearing from the hut and returning a few minutes later with his scimitars on his belt. Soon after, the little party made it back to shore. When the raft arrived back with the full set of maps, Malthus had located a few numbers that he believed would serve for locations on the map. Sagesse was less enthusiastic about the project, and took to instead sketching a rough version of the map for the party to keep. The first set of coordinates, 32, 159, was not a real number on the map. It extended only to 100 east and west. 139, 175 was even worse. The sailors agreed to let them study the maps until late at night if they wished. They would set sail in the morning.
Aiden and Roscius pored over the maps, locating the latitudes of some of the suspected coordinates, but none of the longitudes seemed to make any sense; they were far off the map. Hours passed as they tried many combinations. Marqsam and Malthus lent the occasional insight, but none of their efforts seemed to lead anywhere. All the while the rain poured, and lightning continued to spark across the sky. Sagesse began to grow uneasy. In the back of his mind, he was suspecting that the Thomas had meant the message only for Aiden and himself. Why else the encryption? Why the familiar formula full of unfamiliar numbers? They did mean something to him somehow, but not as coordinates on a map. The key with the map showed only what they would normally have presumed to find: depth levels, figures that represented forest or rough roads.
Marqsam “We just spent a hundred gold for nothin’.”
Aiden “Maybe the numbers correspond to letters or words in the letter.”
Malthus “Well we have it already numbered out.”
He pulled Aiden aside to whisper his suspicions, but the rest of the party was already onto the method. It was too late; numbers began to fly across the table. Words were coming together to form a loose sentence. As Sagesse had suspected, the numbers did apply to words in the letter. But the rest of the party was still missing part of the key. They were too close for comfort, though, if Thomas had indeed intended his message to be hidden from someone else in the group. Only Aiden and himself were addressed, so they must have been the only intended recipients. Sagesse was fairly certain that he had it.
Varius horning in, “Triskelion!”
Marqsam “Shouldn’t one-thirty-nine come before one-fifty-nine?”
Roscius “No, because it’s a sentence.”
Marqsam (pause), “fate… ‘Your father’s fate…’”
Roscius “175 is ‘the’? 276. There may be some more in there that we need to pull out.”
Roscius “OK, on the bottom, 155 was one of them that didn’t make the cut—”
Marqsam “’Your father’s deserved…’”
Roscius “187… 187…”
Sagesse “And if I might have my letter back,” (he plucked it out of Malthus’ hands)
Roscius “I’m Sorry?”
Malthus quickly attempted to memorize the letter, but could not read all the way to the all-important formula at the bottom before it was snatched out of his grasp.
Marqsam “Why’d you take that? We were reading it!”
Sagesse “I… I understand, but the message is for the prince… and should be for him alone.”
Malthus after an uncomfortable pause, “Do you not wish to share, Prince?”
Aiden sigh, “I…”
Malthus “That is your decision to make.”
Aiden “I… I don’t know what to make of it.”
Marqsam “Maybe it’s something we can solve together. We got ‘Your father’s fate…’”
Malthus “We got more than that, actually.”
[recorder file ends and new file begins]
The business at the rum hut was slow, and few patrons were passing through. The party went to their respective beds for a good night’s sleep, most of them planning to wake at dawn.
[* New Day – It is now the 9th Day of Farris *]
Sagesse, as always, was up before the rest. He returned to his private pool of contemplation to see that the sacrificial altar had been dismantled, and he wondered at what had become of Lane’s remains. He spent a short while in the sad grove before returning to his normal scribing.
Aiden awoke with a strong need for a drink. He fought the urge, and felt an accomplishment in the decision not to have a drink that morning. He decided to leave the cork in the ever present flask and have a morning run instead. In fact, he decided he wouldn’t have a drink all day. He ran along the beach in the direction of the grove.
The bard awoke in a very bare room, holding only his instruments and a bed of straw. The leak in the roof allowed half of the room to fill with mud and standing water, but he had slept on the dry side. He made his way that morning to their usual table at the sugar-rum hut.
Marqsam was the next to wake, and saw that the prince was gone, but an unopened bottle of rum sat on the floor where an empty one usually made its morning appearance.
Marqsam “Wow. That’s rare.”
He began to gather both his and the prince’s belongings for a trip. He was beginning to feel auspicious about leaving the island. He wanted to be ready for the first opportunity.
Sagesse ran into Aiden, who was jogging along the shore.
Sagesse “Why do you move so quickly there, Prince?”
Aiden “I’m trying…” (gasp)
Sagesse “I applaud your efforts.”
Aiden stopped to catch his breath and looked around to make certain that absolutely no one was in earshot of their conversation… [Secret time, Little help?]
The rest of the party noticed that the morning greeted them with a very strange boat visiting the bay. A giant barge-like vessel was floating heavily on the waves. It had high walls around it, and most interestingly a pair of giraffe heads were wandering back and forth in one area, perched atop their long necks. A black flag with white stripes and a gold crest flew above its enormous sails. Even the well-traveled bard did not recognize its heraldry. The beach was a very popular area that morning. Many islanders were curious about the strange ship.
Eventually they all met in the shade of the sugar-rum hut. Marqsam saw Marita standing with her husband in the crowd, and chose not to approach. Gerron was there as well.
Marqsam “Does that seem strange to you?”
Gerron “Oh yeah, yeah, certainly. We haven’t seen nothin’ like that around here before.”
Marqsam “You want to go check it out?”
Gerron “Let’s wait a while see if anyone comes out.”
The beach remained crowded for the half hour more that passed. A large section of the front of the ship began to fold forward, and a raft, decorated with large golden posts and swaging garland was disembarked into the water. It looked almost like an enormous golden sleigh to the men from the north. Two figures got onto the raft, a man and a strange, large form. Four crewmen wearing simple clothes were aboard as well.
Aiden “Is that a bear?”
Gerron “I think it might be a bear! I seen a bear before. It got an enormous head, though!”
As the party barge approached, a flamboyantly dressed figure became apparent, wearing a silvery top hat, white pans, and a black coat of tails. He had long white hair and perhaps too much flashy jewelry. Also quite a sight was a small man riding on the back of a large ape. The ape himself looked to stand about six feet tall, but its diminutive rider looked to be only about four feet tall in full.
Julius (the figure in the flashy dress), “Come one, come all! Come one, come all! I’m speaking the correct language, am I not?”
Responses from the crowd begged to know more.
Julius “We have more wonders aboard! Many things to see! And all we need is but a single gold piece from each person who wishes to board the vessel!”
Malthus holding aloft a piece of gold, “What is your next port of call?”
Julius “Next port of call? We’re not worried of that now. The next port of call is right there in the bay, ladies and gentlemen! You’re going to see all kinds of things. Not only do we have a dwarf riding a gorilla, this is the least, the least of what we have in store! (The gorilla gave a fierce growl as if on cue) He is not fierce, ladies and gentlemen! He’s well controlled, is that not correct?”
Shunk (the small man) “Aye!”
Roscius “Is that big gorilla saying that or—”
Julius “Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Yes indeed, aboard this ship, you will see a giraffe with two heads! You will see a mummy come to life! You will see an actual unicorn, in its natural state. You will see a mermaid! Lions and tigers! You’ll see a man who removes his eye from its socket, and can still see with it! Come aboard ladies and gentlemen, come aboard.”
People were reaching into their purses, and the party barge was filling up quickly. Julius stepped to the gate to take another gold and block further boarding.
Julius “That’s enough, ladies and gentlemen, that’s enough, all right. We’re going to have to (looking to Shunk for a safety count) cut it off. I say – I’m sorry about that sir (to no one in particular). Uh, make a little bit of room there, will you, Shrunk. See if… if you can scootch ‘em back. Matter of fact, why don’t you go ahead and stay on the beach if you wouldn’t mind, I’d really apprec—(As per his normal demeanor, Shunk stared menacingly at Julius). (Quietly) There will be a little something extra in it for you, if you’ll just mill around and keep everyone interested.”
Julius “We’ve got a little more room. I think we’ve got room for three more. Three more over here? Yes, you ma’am, you ma’am, with the beautiful breasts,” winking comically.
Marqsam “Well there go five more.”
Julius “And your daughter as well, yes that will do just fine. I’m just kiddin’ their, sir, we’ll get you on the next time. Allright! And we will be back! Don’t go anywhere! Plenty to see!”
The old grizzled little man on the gorilla’s back stared menacingly at Marqsam as he approached.
Shunk “Shunk is me name.”
Marqsam “I go by Marqs or Marqsam.”
Shunk gesturing toward the ape, “And this be Thunk.”
The massive gorilla thumped into him as he came to a halt in front of the beast rider.
Marqsam “He seems aptly named.”
Shunk “Yes, it comes from the sound that it makes when he swings his mighty paw thunking into human flesh.”
A large sword almost as big as the short rider was slung to his back.
Roscius “Is this part of the act?”
Shunk “We are not part of the act per se. We’re to make sure that everyone stays safely parted from their gold.”
(Aiden can’t hold in a chuckle)
Marqsam “Oh… So where are you from?”
Shunk “We are from all over the lands.”
Shunk “Well, Thunk and I are originally from Mortez. A land far away from here.”
Malthus “What is your next port of call?”
Shunk “I do not know. I simply make sure that the man stays safe. Wherever he may lead, his trail of gold I will follow… Mm, yes, Thunk – there are banana trees. (To Marqsam) You’re not bein’ from these parts then?”
(at the same time) Marqsam-“Not from here exactly.” Roscius- “Born and raised.”
Shunk “You are fair of skin.”
Malthus pointed out that his interest was piqued, saying that this would be an adventure. Children were beginning to gather around the curious gorilla.
Shunk “Easy! Young friends. I hope there not be any enemies about!” He stared them down with his constant glare, and most backed away at least a bit. “Thunk would have to wreak vengeance upon thee! Although, do not fear; I am in control of him now. But if you press too close… he may… bite… OR RIP YOU LIMB FROM LIMB!”
His glare and his harsh words scattered the little crowd, sending a few children into teary scampering.
Marqsam “So we take the next barge over?”
Aiden “Well, I think we have to see what’s out there.”
Malthus “They have a one eye-socket man.”
Sagesse "What about Mr. Curious (He turns to Marqsam)? “Can we go on the next one, can we go on the next one?”
Marqsam “I’m just asking.”
Malthus “I’m not overly… I mean it is odd… I am vaguely interested.”
Aiden “We’re going.”
Roscius “I want to see the mermaid. Was there a mermaid did he say?”
Aiden “He did say mermaid.”
Aiden “It was while I was enjoying ‘the unicorn in its natural state.’”
Shunk shifted on his apen steed. He could be seen digging a knob on his sandal into the gorilla’s hide, saying “Settle! Settle…” The pair made an ominous figure, sitting greater than seven feet tall mounted. The ape’s shoulders sagged forward as if it had been reprimanded lake a small child.
Shunk “We’ll get to those banana trees soon. But do not disappoint Julius. We’ll be there soon, and we’ll get our gold.”
Malthus “Is it common for your people to ride large apes?”
Shunk “Only those of the most noble breeding, sir.”
Roscius offering the gorilla a fresh picked banana, “So you’re an apen king?”
Shunk “No. I’m imperial, a guardsman of sorts, I guess. From which land to you come?”
Roscius “From the north.”
Shunk “North… Exactly where? Because there are many places north of here.”
Roscius “There are indeed. Aleman. Certainly you could tell from my accent.”
Shunk “That is very far north, sir. Much further north than I. I am Mortesian, and I am of the imperial guard, a member of the imperial legion, if you will. We speak on behalf of the king, we act as though we were carrying the king’s order at all times. We are nobles of our land, and as our mounts we always choose a great steed. This ape, Thunk, has been my steed for some time.”
About half an hour later, the barge was beginning to return, still full. When it reached land, the passengers were full of amazement, speaking with wild tongues, edging their friends who had remained behind toward the party barge, and insuring wondrous sights to behold.
Julius “Once again, once again, ladies and gentlemen! Now the price I believe must be going up. I see that there are more of you than I would be able to take out there today. Who is willing to pay two gold pieces to get out here and see what you have waiting upon that ship? Ladies and gentlemen who have been on the boat, is that not worth it? Sir, come right this direction.”
The people shoreside were already clambering to get aboard, even at the doubled price, and especially with the outlandish recommendations of their returning friends. Malthus begrudgingly stepped forward and pressed his gold into Julius’ hand. Roscius paid for both himself and Sagesse. Marqsam and Aiden made the group whole, going as well.
Julius “We’ve got one, two, three here, and you gentlemen, I think we can fit you on as well. And come on in, yes sir, you as well. And, Shrunk, why don’t you go ahead and come with us this time. Don’t want to give ‘em too much of a good show for free. Sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep the lives-er-that is- the prices low and reasonable.”
The gorilla growled a vicious roar at the passengers who were standing, necessarily, too close for his taste. The party-barge was fully loaded, and the men from the north were surrounded by dozens of islanders as they went. Julius, now having his audience captive, quieted down considerably.
Julius “We have a gift shop. There are items available.”
Malthus “Are you the master of this ship, sir?”
Julius “That is correct. My name is Julius.”
Malthus “Julius, what is your next port of call?”
Julius “Next port of call? Well, the very next port of call is this ship right here.”
Malthus “I mean—”
Julius “I’ve noticed that you’re intent! I’ve noticed that you’re intent. We’re heading back to Jafra, southeast. We will be going quite a way south. We’ve already made our way around, all the way down from Occiden, south through Iberica, both sides of Medios, and we are now stopping by Baytown here on our way to the southern continent.”
Roscius “I’ve been to those areas.”
The little boat made its way to the ship, and the party asked him about things on the mainland. The subject of the Source came up.
Julius "Yes, seems like in a lot of places it certainly is popular. As matter of the fact (to Malthus), You’re a bishop of the Source, aren’t you?
Julius “See, popular here too (to Shunk).”
Somehow the religious men explained that they were missionaries, after Julius described them as zealots for being on an island that the described as dominated by a religion of human sacrifice. The subject of the “Giant Gorilla” came up.
Julius “I assure you, sir, this is the most massive and enormous of its kind! He’s a fantastic specimen of his sort.”
Shunk "This is the most grand king of apes. He’s quite intelligent. Hey! Thunk! Stay away from my red strings! (Red strings could be seen tied around some part of nearly every one of the little man’s possessions.)
Roscius “What is the red string for?”
Shunk “Luck. I need it.”
Julius “Right this way, folks, tight this way.”
As the group walked up the lowered gang plank, a sound like a pair of discordant trumpets was heard, an animalistic bugling. On either side of a long wall, an isle stretched out before them.
Julius “Feel free to go as you like. You do not have to follow my guided tour, but you are welcome to. And that is the best way to see everything that there is to be seen. (quietly) Keep them in line now, Shrunk.”
Shunk “They will be… in line.”
Julius “Please do not taunt any of the animals or any of the people that we have on the boat. (The ape growled.) These are people, and though at times it may, for average folk, be difficult to believe that what you’re looking at is a person with human feelings, these are indeed people. So please keep your comments and your hands to yourselves. The first thing that we come to, ladies and gentlemen, is the two-headed giraffe, straight from my own home area of Jafra. It is much like any other specimen, except that this particular specimen was born seven years ago with two heads, and has survived to this advanced stage of its life.”
The men studied the creature closely and discovered that it was a genuine medical oddity.
Marqsam “Do they ever fight?”
Julius “Well, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen them fight except maybe over food. But, uh, generally they’re able to get along.”
Sagesse “That seems odd, as they both have the same stomach.”
Julius “I’ve never seen them argue! But they have two sets of taste buds, that’s right sir (to a quiet Marqsam). Two fully, completely working sets of taste buds. This is usually the only exhibit that we do allow people to go in and pet the actual animal for a small fee of one additional gold piece. Is there anyone willing to pay that price at this time?”
Children begin to beg their parents, and Julius attracts a little more cash.
Shunk “One at a time, one at a time!”
Julius “Come on in here, son. Oh it’s worth it ma’am, it surely is.”
The animal stands complacently to be petted, and one curious child reaches up high to examine the place where the two long necks extend from the body with his hands.
Julius “OK, ladies and gentlemen, let’s go on ahead to the very next stall here, where you will find one of the most interesting sights that you will see in any place in the entire world. It is darkened in this area. Please step very close to get a good view. It’s hard to make room, but I think that we can all find a spot.”
A curtain hung over the opening, and Julius pulled a rope to open it and reveal a decorous sarcophagus.
Julius “The one and only living mummy. Still alive by I know not what means! Please remain quiet; we don’t want to startle him. These are his advanced years. This being is over a millennia old, that’s over a thousand years of age!”
A being wrapped from head to toe in a gauzy fabric began to rise. The personage rose, only about five feet tall.
Julius “In the days when this being originally lived his normal life, this would have the normal height of men of his time.”
The mummy descended from its coffin and started to walk slowly, stiffly toward the crowd.
Julius “Please try to stay at a safe distance. Don’t get too close!”
The mummy reached up to its face, completely covered in the tattered gauze. It began to unwind the stuff from its face to reveal a strange, mottled skin, disgusting to look at. People looked away in disgust and fear. A strange smell seemed to pervade the area. Old ladies turned their backs, horrified. The sight was disgusting.
Sagesse’s doubting eyes detected that this was actually a human female, a burn victim, who had survived some harrowing near-death in flames. His experience with wounds revealed that much to him. He soon realized that the odd smell was coming from herbs that were often used to soothe damaged flesh.
Julius “Ladies and gentlemen, let us head on to the next exhibit. It’s obvious, ladies and gentlemen, what we have in this exhibit: the one and only living unicorn, in it’s natural state.”
Sagesse couldn’t help but laugh at the trees painted comically on each side of the poor animal’s cubical. Hay littered the ground around it. It was a small animal, only about 3 and a half feet tall at the shoulder, with a single horn protruding awkwardly from its head.
Julius “The one and only magical unicorn!”
Sagesse detected none of the aforementioned magic about the creature. It appeared to him to be some sort of slightly deformed farm animal.
Julius “We have in the past allowed people to pet this animal, but I’m afraid that it has presented some danger because there are magical properties about this beast of which we are not well enough informed. So we must pass on ahead, unless anyone is such a brave soul… that they would care to go in spite of my warnings? And venture in… (this piqued some interest from the brave men) for the price of one gold piece.”
Sagesse “I have not the coin.”
Malthus Goading him on, “Would you like the coin?”
Julius as Sagesse consented to ‘venture’ in, “Why certainly, young man!”
His closer inspection inside the pen showed him that it was a goat that had been long been groomed for this situation. Searching through the curls of its hair, he located the short hewn stump of its missing horn, and could see by the lopsided shape of its head that some sort of harness or mechanism must have been employed for a period of years to move the horn to its current position. It seemed otherwise in normal health. Perhaps Julius himself had never inspected the animal closely enough to know all of this, or perhaps he was a bold faced liar. Sagesse leaned toward the latter assumption. The animal appreciated having its fur stroked.
Julius “Ladies and gentlemen, our next exhibit!”
Session ends, next exhibit in next session