Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
They returned to their ship, and chased the monkeys off fairly easily. Sigrid climbed up into the rigging, and Captain Blank shouted “argh!” a lot.
They healed, rested, and the next day they made another shot at getting up the mountain. It was still raining.
This time it went a little better. They didn’t run into any more velociraptors.
About midafternoon, after many hours of hacking through the jungle, they came across the ruins of some ancient city, spread out beneath the peak of the mountain. They conducted a search of the ruins, and discovered a few items of magical quality, in the overgrown remains of an armory: a string of white beads, and a shortbow woven with black. (Well, mostly Soern found them, between his keen eye and sense for magic.) They also found various assorted nonmagical items—bones, mostly, and a slightly charred doll. (Sigrid picked up the doll.)
The ruins seemed to be of a city, and they converged on a central building, a round building, with columns and a sky light, built around a well. (The well connected to some kind of passageway, underground.) This building appeared to be in better shape than the rest of the city, mostly intact, and in it they found a (non-magical) silver ball.
From this building, a wide central lane ran up to the glittering thing they’d seen, and they followed that path up to the pick. Turned out, the mountain was actually a volcano, and the glittering thing was a platform built around the edge of the volcanic crater. And that there was an altar on the platform, and various fossilized feathers and strange items in pots around the inner edge. (It occurs to me that I didn’t do a good job of explaining why it was glittering, in the game. Let’s pretend I mentioned that it’s decorated with crystal, spaced at regular intervals around the edges. And pretend that makes some kind of sense.)
Floating around the altar was some kind of fluffy mosquito, making a horrible buzzing noise. They got closer, and it got really bad, so bad that it dazed Soern. Captain Blank managed to knock it out of the air with a bit of wind magic. Mark coup de grace’d it with his boot.
On the altar, they found a few more things: a carven skull, of terrible visage, and a egg-sized yellow gem with shifting occlusion. (Both were magical.)
The Aur Xica got “very enthusiastic,” about the skull, and then progressively more frustrated as the fiddled with the things on the altar. Finally, they touched the sword’s hilt to the skull. Apparently, that was the condition that unbound its ability to speak, which it immediately began to use to yell at the party for taking an absurdly long time to get to this point.
They talked to the sword, about its function, history, powers, and how to get those powers. It mentioned Tai Faren, and various champions, and a number of other things that only Sigrid remembered anything about. It couldn’t tell them much about what the rest of them actually cared about, unlocking its power (which it also cared about, very much), but thought it probably had something to do with “restarting the Hora Quan—the Heart of the Sea,” which had something to do with “the isle of the jeweled trees.”
They decided, based on this information, to return to Ao-Manasa, but not before completing their explorations. They went back to the still-intact building, explored the passageway a bit. (The Aur Xica informed them that it was a lava tube.)
Inside the lava tube, they fought four more of the fuzzy buzzing things. Soern dispatched them post haste, with a sorcerous blast. Then they went all the way up, found that one end led to the volcano crater, and all the way down, where they discovered that the other end brought them back to the beach, a short walk from their ship. (Which they returned to.)
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I emerged, refreshed and renewed, from below deck this morning. Without as much as a “How are you?”, I was quickly sent to my usual post on the crow's nest by Soern, who seemed to be glad to get the opportunity to run off below deck. It is no matter. I suppose I was inadvertently neglecting my duties for the past week. At least I am back among real people again, in the real world. Ah, fresh and salty sea air, I love thee.
I unfortunately have very little to report today. Captain Blank has predicted we will reach our destination by Thirdmonth 8. Since we don't know exactly where we are going, I don't know how he decided this. He said something about “Pirate Sense.” He was right about arrival time last time, however, so I decided to agree with him and make another little wager with Mark. I will win this time. If we arrive before sunset on Thirdmonth 8, I will win. If we haven't arrived by then, Mark will win. Simple enough.
I was not on watch duty today. This pleased me. Instead, I was down on the deck. Mark was trying to show me how to throw a net into the sea to catch fish. Unfortunately, he's not the most understandable at times, and I didn't catch on that you had to tie part of the net to the boat before you threw it in.Mark said I should jump in after the net, but Blank said that a “missing net wasn't worth a missing crewman... or crewwoman... whatever.” Blank did say I'm not allowed to fish anymore, though.
More deck duty. Today I got to “swab the decks”, which seems to just be a piratey way of saying “mop the floor.” I don't know what good it really did, as the deck was mostly dirty due to the seawater splashing over the sides of the boat, and Mark told me to “Use seawater.” to clean the decks. Or maybe he said “Use clean water.” Hmm... It matters not, since Blank didn't really seem to notice or care if the deck was actually any cleaner than it was when I started. After I finished “swabbing”, I practiced “being piratey” by climbing around on the ropes and making graceful, piratey jumps back to the deck from the crow's nest. It was most excellent, until I landed badly and turned my ankle. Soern and Blank found this most amusing. Later in the evening, I tried again. I was starting to get the hang of it when I made another jump and missed the deck completely and landed in the water. The only other person on deck at the time was Rellik, and when I called to him for help, he didn't hear me. Strange, that, because he was probably only twenty feet away, and seemed to be looking right at me. I called again, but he turned away. After I called him a third time, he grabbed a rope and tossed it to me, pulling me in. I wonder if he could hear me the whole time and was just deciding whether or not to get me out of the water. Nah. That couldn't be it... hmm...
I took inventory of our stores. Everything seems to be in order, except that our rum and ale supplies seemed to have depreciated much quicker than expected, especially since we had mainly been drinking Soern's magically summoned water. When I asked Blank about this, he said something about how there had been an emergency. When I questioned him further about what manner of emergency would require alcohol, he told me “All sorts of emergencies need booze, Sigrid!” He was very adamant about this. I am on nightwatch tonight, so I think I will take a nap now to refresh.
Nightwatch was most exciting. I finally made a spectacularly successful jump from the crow's nest! Oh, and also, we got attacked by eels. But that's not nearly as exciting as my graceful leap.
There were some eel-people with spears trying to board the ship. I screamed and woke everyone up, and a most heroic battle ensued. There must have been twenty of them! A mighty swarm! They had us cornered and were about to kill us all, when with one mighty swing of my sword, I cut them all down and saved the crew! As a reward for my heroic defeat of the hundred giant carnivorous eels and their evil king, Captain Blank gave me a vintage bottle of “magical” rum. He was sort of chuckling when he gave it to me though, I almost remember him saying something like “Let's see what this stuff'll do to her.” I don't quite remember though. All I know is that I am AWESOME!
I woke up this morning with a headache the size of De-Shamod. I also woke up on the floor, fully armored, a sword in each hand. My hammock has been cut to shreds by some unknown party. What did I do all day yesterday? My journal seems to indicate a valiant battle with eels, but wasn't that the night before? I'm a little confused. Perhaps it would be best not to ask the crew about this one. I spent the remainder of the day knotting and looping another hammock out of rope. It's not quite as nice as the one I had before, but if I line it with a blanket, it will do quite nicely. Besides, I've spent many a night on bare floor or outdoor ground. I'm used to it by now.
The weather is warmer today. Otherwise, there was nothing of interest to report. I sure hope we arrive today or tomorrow so I can win my bet with Mark.
So, we didn't arrive today, and Mark won our little wager. I will beat him at something, sometime. I wonder if he knows how to play any parlour games...
Life at sea is getting monotonous and boring. I am beginning to yearn for solid ground beneath my feet once again. It would be nice to be on land again, perhaps with a horse in a batallion of Knights. Perhaps my paranoia that I am disliked among the Order is unfounded. They are my kin, and I have proven myself time and time again. I have also been told I am most pleasant to talk to, except when I rant or go on a tirade. I want to be among my Knight-Brothers and Knight-Sisters once more, if only for a little while.
I had a conversation with Rellik today. More accurately, I talked to Rellik today. I coversation involves two participants. I was concerned, as he seems to be a little agitated. I suspect he wants to return to his “Guild” and didn't realize our trip would take as long as it has. I tried to sympathize with him by expressing my own desires to be among the Order once again, but he seemed... disinterested. He has this quality about him that makes him difficult to talk to. Almost like Mark, but Mark is much, much worse. Mark is unnerving to talk to, and very difficult to understand.
A pirate I was meant to be, trim the sails and roam the sea...
We're a band of vicious pirates! A sailin´ out to sea. When you hear our gentle singing you'll be sure to turn and flee!
Oh, this is just ridiculous.
Yes, yes, it really is. It really, really is.
I woke up this morning feeling lethargic and ill. Soern felt my forehead (though I had to bend down for him to be able to reach my face) and thought I had some sort of fever, but it may be from exhaustion and not an actual disease. He said it was minor enough to not get magic involved, and even if he did, if I was just exhausted, magic wouldn't help. It was a little shocking to hear that Soern didn't want to get magic involved in something. He suggested I spend the day resting. Extra sleep sounds good.
I feel much better today. Blank spent most of the morning in his cabin, and Soern and Rellik were nowhere in sight, so it was just Mark and I on the deck for a few bells. Mark had to duck below deck, so I got to steer the ship. Well, not steer actually. He put my hands on the wheel and told me to stand still, not move, and just hold the wheel straight. He slipped away, and a few moments later, Blank emerged from his cabin. When he saw me standing at the wheel, he very nearly tackled me. He told me I should never be at the wheel by myself ever. Something about “not knowing the first thing about ships.” I do, however, know the first thing about ships, and the second thing too. I can pilot a single-man vessel with a moderate success rate. When Mark came back on deck, Blank yelled at him for allowing me to take control of the ship. He called Soern up, and the three of them spent probably two bells looking at the sky trying to determine if I messed up our course any. They finally decided that I'd done no harm, but I should still not be allowed to be in charge of the boat.
“At least you’re not a champion of land.” – Captain Blank
“Champion of PANTS!” – Captain Blank
This week's anti-quotes brought to you by a combat heavy game and a more-distracted-than-usual GM.
Monday, March 19, 2007
They spent a long while sailing. On the 25th, when they set out from the Tomb of Ozymandius, it was clear, but by the next day the weather had turned to fog. Which hung on the water for four days, until it cleared up on the 2nd of Thirdmonth. That was the most interesting thing that happened until the night of the 4th, when the ship was attacked by a gang of eel-like humanoids. The crew successfully repelled them, and the general monotony of sailing on the open ocean resumed.
It warmed up on the 7th, but cooled off again on the 13th, when it started to rain, and the wind kicked up again. That wind propelled them to a mysterious island that rose out of the sea, covered with jungles from which strange noises emanated.
They landed, left their boat in a cove, and made their way up the island, through the jungle, to a point near the peak that glittered, even through the rainy haze.
Then they ran into a pack of velociraptors. It was a rousing battle.
They returned to their ship, to rest and regroup, and discovered that it had been invaded by monkeys.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
I am a lot calmer tonight than I was last night. I had a vivid, lucid... vision? It involved Lord Morek, but I know it wasn't a memory. I certainly would have remembered this particular occurrence. I will write the vision down exactly as I recall it.
The crumpled, dead body of Lord Morek lay at the foot of the stairs. A teenage squire and I crouched down next to his body.
“He's dead, Squire Kendall,” I said it, not quite believing it, “You pushed him, he fell, and now he's dead.”
“It... It was an accident, Knight-Mistress... Please... I didn't mean to.”
“I know you didn't mean to, but you still killed him. His death was unjust. I am going to have to report you to a Lord of Lady of the Order.”
“Please. I... I just... I never meant... I killed a Lord. They'll hang me for this. I didn't mean to... Please listen to me,” the boy looked up at me, his eyes welling with tears. Killing a Lord would result in his execution, and he knew it.
“Your fate is not in my hands, Squire. You killed Lord Morek. Justice doesn't care for excuses. You will have to pay for your actions.”
“Justice doesn't care for excuses, Knight Mistress? Does that mean Justice is blind?”
“Yes. Justice is absolute, and Justice is blind,” I told him, looking at him. His crying ceased and he stared straight at me.
“You're completely sure, Sigrid?” Something in his tone had changed. It was as if he knew something I did not.
“Er... yes,” I replied, confused by his sudden change of demeanor. Almost instantaneously, the situation reversed. Lord Morek now crouched with me over the Squire's body, instead of the other way around.
“You're sure your sense of Justice is absolute, Sigrid?” Lord Morek asked, “If I asked you to help me cover this up, you would, wouldn't you? If this boy was dead and I still lived, you would help me hide the body. You may even take the fall for me if need be, wouldn't you?”
I was too surprised to say anything. If Lord Morek had accidentally committed murder, I probably would help him out. “I... My Lord... I..”
“What has changed? If your sense of Justice is as blind as you like to claim, then nothing has changed. Yet something has changed. I would like you to tell me what.”
I thought about it for a few minutes. It was the same situation. Why would my response be so completely different? I finally said, “I don't know.”
“Then you need to think about it.”
And with that, I was thrown back into my own mind. I don't think I've ever had so lucid of a hallucination before. Is it a sign? It is a vision? Am I just crazy? I have more questions than answers right now, but at least I am calm.
I saw something again today. This time, it was a memory I had long forgotten. Again, I will write it down for future reference. I was about eight years old when the incident happened.
“Hey, Sigrid, look what I got!” Brianne ran into the alleyway where I had been playing. Brianne ran over to me and showed me a very shiny metal badge.
“It's a guard badge! A real De-Shamod guard badge. And a guard's belt knife too.”
“Where'd ya get that stuff?”
“The evening guard Ta-Seran at the Redwen gate always falls asleep. I filched it off of him.” The Redwen gate was only a couple blocks north of where we were.
“Don'tcha think he'll want it back?”
“Yeah, so? If we don't tell them we have it, they won't know.”
We played in the alleyway for a little while longer. When we decided to go somewhere else, Brianne picked up the knife and the badge off the ground and ran with me out of the alleyway. As we emerged onto the street, Brianne ran straight into Ta-Saren. She tripped and dropped the badge and the knife.
“Hey! Watch where you're going, you little gob-friend!” He looked down at her, and caught sight of the knife and the badge on the ground, “What do you have there?” He leaned down and picked up his possessions, “Interesting,” he muttered, “did you steal these from me?” He grabbed her ear and pulled on it.
“We found it.”
Ta-Saren let go of Brianne and looked at me. “What did you say? Speak up”
“We found it. We were jus' playin', and we found this stuff. We were running t'go give it to a guard,” I lied through my teeth. Ta-Saren frowned and squatted down eye-level to me. I wasn't sure if he believed me or not.
“It's odd that you just happened to find my personal possessions less than a half-bell from when I realized they were missing,” he glanced at Brianne, and then back at me. He stood up. “I guess you two really aren't worth the paperwork though. Move along, you little maggots, and stay out of trouble.” With a quick gait, he walked off.
Brianne looked at me with awe in her eyes. “You didn't have to stand up to me you know.”
“Yeah I did. You're my friend, aren't ya?”
It was then that I snapped back to the present. I don't entirely see how that particular piece of my childhood would help me solve “Lord Morek's” quandary, but perhaps I will have better luck tomorrow.
Another day, another memory. Have I just lost my mind?
It was the summer of my 17th year. I had been working for Loghan Gorrison the Smith for almost three years now. A large part of his business involved making weapons and armor for local Order of the Axe chapterhouses and shipping it out of the city. The guards in De-Shamod didn't know about this. If they had, they would have inconvenienced us. So, we made several small shipments at the port instead of arousing suspicion by shipping a whole boat full of arms at one time.
I was running one of these small shipments down to the port one day. I was within sight of the river when I was stopped by a guardsman. Not just any guardsman either. This was a Sergeant. Sergeant Gen-Delart.
“You're Loghan Gorrison's ward, aren't you? What are you delivering to the port today?”
There was no point in lying about what I had. He could check the cart and know instantly. “Arms.”
“And where might these items be being shipped to?”
“Mr. Gorrison's family farm downriver. They're having some trouble wit' monsters or somethin'.”
“Monsters? Why not just call in Diamond Throne soldiers to deal with them? It is no matter I suppose. Can I see your export papers then?” he asked. I gladly complied. I did have official export papers. Mr. Gorrison had connections within the De-Shamod Office of Trade.
“Can I go now?” I asked, as he looked over the papers.
“Not so fast. These all seem to be in order, but I suppose Loghan Gorrison would know how to cover his tracks,” he thrust the papers back at me. “Perhaps we can come to some sort of arrangement?”
“What d'ya mean?”
“I don't believe these goods are going to Loghan Gorrison's family's farm. I am not entirely sure where they are going, but maybe you know. Perhaps some Royals could help you remember?”
I gulped. Royals? I had never even laid eyes on a platinum coin before. Most people just used Queens (though I hadn't had many of those either, really).
“Would 20 Royals jog your memory?” He pulled the platinums out of his belt pouch. I stared in awe. That was more money than I had made in my entire life. I sighed.
“That's a lot of money, Sergeant, but I don't remember nothin' 'cept what I already told ya.”
“Would 5 more Royals help?”
“Nah. I told ya, I don't remember nothin' else.”
“Look, girl, I know that these arms are going somewhere. Just tell me where. Some ragtag militia? The Order of the Axe? The Free Cities of the South? Pirates? All you have to do is tell me, and I'll give you 50 Royals. Just say something!”
“I don't know what ya want me t'say. I already told ya everything.”
The Sergeant glared at me, angry. “Then get out of my sight! I will discover what you and your fine master are up to girl, just wait and see!” And with that he strolled off, shoving into me as he pushed past my cart.
As far as I know, Sergeant Gen-Delart never did catch up to Loghan. Then again, I did leave De-Shamod to join the Order less than three months after this confrontation. I left that city and never looked back.
The most recent memoric vision I had was still fresh in my mind. It has only been six months since it happened.
I frisked my Verrik prisoner for hidden weapons and escorted him to Lord Morek's study, per his instructions. We walked in and I firmly pushed the man into a chair. Lord Morek glanced up from the papers on his desk to look at us.
“There, there now, Knight-Sister Sigrid, there's no need to be brutish with our guest,” Lord Morek said, smiling. This man was a spy, and he was my prisoner. I would treat him however I wished. I stared straight at Lord Morek, frowning. He met my glare with an even harsher one. I glanced away.
“I'm sorry,” I meekly muttered, now looking at the floor.
“Forgive my Knight. She often forgets her manners with... guests of your caliber. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Lord Morek, and this, as you know, is a chapterhouse of the Order of the Axe.”
“I am but a weary sailor, Lord Morek. I stopped here only for room and board.”
Lord Morek sighed. “And I thought we could skip through the part where you lie to me and just get to the interesting bit. We know you're a spy. Our doors are open to all travelers, but most do not enter and begin asking questions about our current interests and operations.”
“I can't begin to understand the problem, Lord Morek. I am simply curious about your Order. I meant no harm.”
“Again with the lies!” Morek threw his hands in the air, “Can you believe this man, Sigrid?”
“No, my Lord, I can't.”
“Now, Sigrid may be a bit rough with people at times, but she is a very good judge of character. If she doesn't trust your naïvety, then I certainly don't,” Morek paused, his eyes focused on the prisoner, “So, why don't you tell us who you are, and who you're working for.” The Verrik was silent for a moment, and then began to laugh.
“I don't see the humour,” I commented.
“I'm not telling you anything! Torture me, kill me, I'll say nothing!”
“Well, if we killed you, you really wouldn't say anything,” I commented.
Lord Morek chuckled. “Sigrid has a point. Now, let's just think about this situation for a moment. You are effectively stuck on this island with us. If you tell us what we want to know, we will let you go. If you don't, then you may be our guest for a very long time.”
The man looked at Lord Morek. “I don't care. I would follow my leader to the grave. There is nothing you can do change that.”
“This is getting nowhere. Sigrid, escort this man to the dungeon.”
“With pleasure, my Lord.”
I brought the Verrik to the dungeon and passed him off to a guard. The Order very rarely had prisoners, and he was the only one at the moment. He would spend a cold, hungry night in the dank recesses of the Chapterhouse, but he would otherwise be unharmed. Lord Morek didn't advocate torture. The dungeon was still not a very pleasant place, however.
The next morning, Lord Morek sent for me to bring the prisoner back to him. The man still told him nothing. This went on for two weeks. On his fifteenth visit to Lord Morek, something very unexpected happened. Morek told me to bring him back to the dungeon and then come back to his study. I did.
“Go prepare our guest's boat for launch.”
“Excuse me, Lord Morek?”
“I'm letting him go. He's not going to tell us who sent him. We need to let him go.”
“Why? He's a spy, possibly from the Steward of Ao-Manasa himself. Why would we let him go?”
“Partially so we don't get accused of kidnapping an agent of the Diamond Throne, but that's not my main reason.”
“Would you care to enlighten me?”
“I respect him. I dislike whomever he's working for. I dislike that he tried to spy on the Order, but I have a great respect for him. Many men in his situation would have told me what I wanted to know so he could get out of that dungeon and be on his way. He has spent 14 nights down there. That's quite a feat.”
“So, you respect him because our dungeon doesn't bother him?”
“No, Sigrid, I respect his loyalty. It's something I wish I saw more in my own men and women.”
“The Knights here are loyal to you and the Order.”
“Yes, but how loyal, Sigrid? Would you die to further the cause?”
“Would you really, or do you just think you would? Would your survival mechanism kick in, or is your devotion really so absolute? You care a lot about Justice. What if I ordered you to do something unjust?”
“I... I suppose it would matter what it was.”
“Ah, so your loyalty is conditional, just as everyone's loyalty is conditional. Loyalty should not be blind. If I were to order you to murder Giant children so they could not grow up to become agents of the Diamond Throne, I would not want your loyalty to me to get in the way of your morals. There are always some exceptions. Some conditions. Even Champions of Life have to cause a death at times.”
“I don't understand your point.”
“Maybe you will someday. Right now, you need to ready the Verrik's ship and release him.”
I think I may be starting to understand what Lord Morek meant. Things make more sense now.
Today's vision was perhaps the most disturbing I have had yet. I had to face my personal daemons, only to find they were... myself.
I found myself in a rich, luxurious office. The furniture was scaled for Giants. A human woman with light brown curly hair sat at the desk, busily working. She eventually looked up at me. She looked very familiar.
“By Malleus' Beard... I do not have time for this. Sit down, Sigrid.” I complied, sitting in the chair across the desk from her.
“How do you know who I am?”
“Are you spell-brained woman? Or have you just not looked in a mirror in awhile? I'm not that much older than you, you should recognize me.”
“You're me? Just... older looking.”
“I guess I wasn't the brightest thing when I was your age. How old are you? What point in our life are you at? Spit it out, Sigrid, I don't have all day.”
“I'm... I'm 25. I've just recently joined this... crew... Blank, Rellik, Soern, Mark... You do know them, yes?”
“I am you. I do know those... despicable people,” Older Me scowled. “You're on that spirit journey you took in 1759. I'm going to talk to you, you're going to either listen to me or not, and then we'll be done.”
“What... what are we supposed to talk about?”
“You. Me. Us. Whatever.”
“Well, what have... er, we... done with... our life?”
“I am currently in charge of Ao-Manasa.”
“For Justice, of course.”
“How is taking over Ao-Manasa just?”
“It's a long story. I guess I should start from right after our spirit journey of 1759. That spirit journey solidified in my mind the path of Justice. I knew that not only would I have to continue Championing Justice, but I would have to devote my life to it. I could not be wishy-washy. I started by killing those... awful pirates I was traveling with.”
“I... We... You killed Blank, Rellik, Soern and Mark.”
“What's wrong with that? They are pirates, after all. Unjust, terrible pirates. Anyway, after their deaths, I returned to the Order. I confronted Morek about the Order's lack of action. We claimed we sought self-rule for all races, but we never did anything to make it happen.”
“Progress takes time. These things can't be rushed.”
“Shut up. You're young and foolish. Anyway, Morek told me the same thing you just did. He was standing in the way of Justice. It took a few years to plan and coordinate, but I did what I had to do.”
“What you had to do?”
“I killed Morek and took over the Chapterhouse?”
“How did you do that?”
“I had help, obviously. The young were very persuadable to my cause. They knew what we must do.”
“You organized the young... the squires? Some of them are only fourteen!”
“They understood why I had to act. Morek's death and replacement was justified. We needed someone who would act more in line with the greater good. We needed someone who would stand up and fight the Diamond Throne. After taking control of the Chapterhouse, I spent the next couple years fighting off the Knights that Lords of other Chapterhouses kept sending. The Order did not approve of my actions, so I left them. The Chapterhouse became the new headquarters for my guild: The Just Blade. Eventually the Order of the Axe left me alone. I gained quite a following. We had to build new buildings all across the island just to house the new recruits. It took me four more years, but I finally was able to put my plan into action.” Older Me smiled dreamily, as if reminiscing.
“Your... plan? What plan?”
“To take back Ao-Manasa from the Diamond Throne, of course. To correct the injustices that non-giants had been suffering for all these years. The giants had to be made to pay for their crimes. The battle for the city raged on for many months. We killed many, many giants. We finally got through to the castle. I killed the Steward with my own blade.”
“How is this... Just?”
“Ao-Manasa is under my totalitarian rule. My military makes sure that order is kept. Trials are swift.”
“This whole scenario just seems so... impossible. How could one person do all of this so quickly? How many people had to die for your perfect city?”
“Anyone who died, died in the name of Justice. And it is the individuals who shape history, Sigrid. It all starts with one person. One person with a grand goal is all it takes to shape the world. I was concerned the Diamond Throne would send the military to take Ao-Manasa back, but they have been too busy putting down rebellions all over the Diamond Throne. I've inspired change.”
“You've inspired tyranny. How can you sit there and justify the deaths of thousands of people, most of whom were completely innocent?”
“Innocent? They were Giants.”
“That doesn't mean they're unjust people. It's their government that's bad, not them. If you kill and oppress the Giants, you are no better than they are. In fact, you are worse.”
“I don't remember being this argumentative on my spirit journey.”
“Well, maybe you should have been. Maybe you would have realized what you would become. What of your loyalties to the Order of the Axe?”
“They were weak.”
“They were sane! How could I be you? I can't... I can't do all these horrible things. I won't.”
“You already are me, just not yet. You'll soon hear the strong call to Justice that has made me who I am today,” my Older self leaned forward and looked at me.
“It's not Justice that drove you to this, it's your perversion of Justice. It all started now, with Mischa, Gannen, and Ea-Shamar, with Rellik, Blank, and Soern, with Morek and the Order. Now is my turning point. I can still turn away from this. I have to. Justice is a great and noble cause, but maybe it isn't the right cause for me. I'm far too passionate. I'll go out of control with it. I need... something to hold me back. Something I can follow, not lead. Something...”
I slipped back into the present without another word from my “future self.” Was that really the path I was on? Or was it just a vision, and not the actual future? I will never know now, since I will not follow in my, er, her footsteps.
I saw something again today. It has never happened, but it felt very real.
I hit the giant lizard again, badly injuring it. It fell over, twitching. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another of the beasts pounce onto Soern, and begin tearing him apart. I turned and ran, striking the foul beast away with the Aur Xica. Blank scored the killing blow as I leaned down over Soern. There was so much blood, but he was still clinging to life. My friend was dying. I had to do something. But there was nothing I could do. I tried to stop the bleeding, but it was uncontrollable. Even with all the powers of Justice at my disposal, I couldn't help him. He died right in front of me, and there was nothing I nor Justice could do to save him. I felt responsible. He was my friend, and I couldn't even protect him.
It seemed so real.
I finally understood. After a week of painful emotional visions, I finally knew.
I found myself once again at the bottom of the stairwell with Lord Morek. The body of the young squire lay at our feet.
“So, Sigrid, do you have an answer for me? What about the situation has changed?”
“My loyalties towards you are stronger than they are towards this Squire. His death is tragic, but it was an accident, and my loyalty to you and the Order make me want to protect you.”
“Your loyalty gives you strength. Just be careful that your loyalty isn't blind. Be Loyal, True, and Honourable, but make sure to follow your Conscience as well.”
I call upon the power of Loyalty. Grant me the power to follow and protect the people that are important in my life.
Secondmonth 19 (continued)
Rellik was highly opposed to our plan to go to the Temple of the Hor Quan. He said he had urgent business to attend to in Ao Manasa (which I can only assume is Mischa's death). To avoid a one-man mutiny, we decided to head back to Ao Manasa. After all, it's not like the Temple of the Hor Quan is going anywhere anyway. We made good progress towards Ao Manasa this evening and Blank says we should arrive in Ao Manasa tomorrow between 1st and 3rd afternoon bells. I doubt that will be the case. Mark seems to think the Captain is accurate, so we made a small wager. If we arrive between 1st and 3rd bells, Mark will win. If we arrive any other time, I will win. We both agreed not to tell Blank about the bet, as he could influence the results. Mark also agreed he would be below deck doing non-navigation work, just so he doesn't impact the time of arrival either.
The captain was right. Mark may have won this one, but I'm sure I'll be able to get my gold back (and more) with another wager sometime. After our mid-afternoon arrival, we headed to the Twisted Fish for drinks and rumours. There had been another Yellow Rose killing, but no one seemed to know the victim's name this time. I thought to go ask Ea-Shamar about the murder, but everyone else was insistent that we go talk to Mischa again. They told me they only wanted to scout out the house a bit, to learn the best way to approach in order to kill her. In hindsight, I really shouldn't have bought the “scouting” story, but what can I do about it now? Nothing.
We arrived at the Mevarin household, dealt with the butler. He let us in with a little less suspicion than last time and escorted us to the parlour to meet with Mischa. I asked her again about her father's research, but she didn't have anything new to add and seemed a little annoyed that we were bothering her again. For some reason, something felt off. I didn't trust her. I had a hunch, but I needed to Touch her to be sure. I thanked her for her time, bowed and took her hand to kiss it. It was then that it hit me. She killed her father. It had been her. I stepped back. I had known something was off, but I hadn't expected this. She was the Yellow Rose killer? I thought there must be more to the story than that. I started to ask her about it, when suddenly, Rellik stabbed her in the back. I hadn't even seen him go around her chair. Sneaky race-traitor. It was then that I froze. Rellik had just commited a very heinous unjust act right in front of me. Sure, Mischa was a murderer, but Rellik didn't know that. Even if he had, stabbing her in the back would not have been the way to deal with her. It's dishonourable. My code of Justice required me to act. It required me to protect Mischa. It required me to attack my fellow crewmate (and perhaps even “friend”, if you use the term loosely) to defend a murderer. I lost myself for a few moments, but when I snapped back to my senses, Blank and Soern had joined Rellik in attacking Mischa. Why? What was their motive? They had no quarrel with Mischa. Rellik's immoral contract did not involve them. Why did they jump into the fray? Was it simply because Rellik was their fellow crewmate (and “friend”)? Was that the only thing that mattered.
Soern paralyzed her with a spell and she collapsed to the floor. This was my second opportunity to step in and save her. But I did not. And with her collapse, the investigation into the Yellow Rose murders collapsed as well. There was more to the story, but I would never hear it from her. If I had protected her from Rellik, I may have gotten more information from her. I may have been able to either sleep soundly because I discovered that she actually was behind the whole thing, or I would have had a new trail to follow. Instead I'll just wonder and worry about it.
Just as Rellik struck the killing blow, the butler entered the room. He looked down and Mischa and started yelling about how he had known we were pirates all along. He turned to run. This would have been my third opportunity to serve Justice. If I had allowed him to get away, he probably would have reported us. Rellik would be caught, and that would be that. But for some reason, I grabbed hold of the old man. A moment later, Soern magicked him immobile and I had to keep holding onto him, lest he fall onto the floor. I used a Touch on him. I really doubted he had anything to do with this, but I was grasping at straws. This man was one of the more innocent that I have encountered. He's much more innocent than I am, that's for sure. The worst thing he has ever done is steal cheese from Master Mevarin to feed to the cellar rats. When I asked him about this, he referred to it as his terrible secret. We threatened to report his terrible secret to the world if he ever told anyone we had even been here today. I really didn't feel very good about myself, threating an old man like that. My behaviour has changed drastically since I have joined this “motley crew”. I'm certainly not serving Justice very well anymore. I yelled at the men for killing her and killing my trail to implicate anyone else in the murders. No one really seemed to care much though.
We did a quick search of the house, trying to find anything that may implicate Mischa in the Yellow Rose killings. In her private quarters, we found a hidden compartment containing two yellow roses and two vials of (presumably) Crystal Scorpion Poison. We left one rose and one vial in the compartment, leaving it slightly ajar to make it a bit more conspicuous to any guards that may be searching the home. Rellik decided it would be ironic to leave a yellow rose on Mischa's corpse, so he did, slipping the other vial into her belt pouch. Blank raided the liquor cabinet (which Soern said contained “magic” booze). Soern also tried to steal Mischa's jewelry, but I protested, telling him that he would just implicate us in the murders if he tried to sell her stuff on the market. Not only did I allow a murder to take place right in front of me, now I am helping cover it up to. I serve Justice very poorly.
I had one last hope to continue my investigation into the murders. I had to talk to Gannen, preferably before he had a chance to hear about Mischa's death. We left the house through the back and headed to the lower city to visit the Black Angle. On the way, Soern talked about how he was going to buy some wonderous magic item from Cer-Athane to make him smarter. After a quick glance in his belt pouch however, he changed his mind. Soern doesn't need to be any smarter. He's already so intelligent and knowledgeable about almost everything that I can't talk to him without feeling like a complete logsleeper.
When we got to the Black Angle, Gannen wasn't there. We took the opportunity to talk to Mazquar. On a whim, I brushed against her and used Touch. She gets entertainment out of playing tricks on other people. I suppose that's nothing too concerning. We had been talking to her for a little while when Gannen came in. I stood up to greet him as he walked over to the table and “accidentally” fell into him, using the opportunity to Touch him. Unfortunately, my mind hit a wall and I learned nothing. I apologized profusely and grabbed hold of his arm to pull myself back up off the floor, using Touch again. My mind again couldn't see anything. This man was either very strong-minded or was very lucky today. The others chuckled at my apparent clumsiness. I decided to give it a rest before I broke my wrist or my ankle. I sat down at the table with everyone else and we talked to Gannen for a little while. At some point, Gannen and Mazquar went to the bar to purchase drinks. I attempted to follow, but Blank grabbed my arm and pulled me back to the table. He informed us that he had used his witchsight on Gannen and had determined that he was a Champion of Death of about the same strength as we were. I stood up so fast, I knocked my chair over. The last time I met up with a Champion of Death I had still been a Champion of Life. Let's just say, that meeting didn't go very well. Rellik and Blank got me to sit down again. I thought this was the proof I needed. A Champion of Death poison expert would obviously be involved in these killings. I had my man, now I just needed to deliver him to Ea-Shamar. But that could wait. He came back to the table and sat down. He had no idea I was onto him. One thing still bothered me though. How had he been able to resist a Touch of Justice? It was entirely unfair. For extra proof, I decided I would succeed a Touch on him. A few drinks later (and trust me, it took alcohol to reach this decision), I decided the best way to do this would be flirtation. I leaned against him and put my arm around him. It was then that I received a major shock. The most unjust thing he had ever done were his illegal arena killings. Certainly being (or aiding) a serial killer would be more unjust than consensual arena combat. Still up against him, I looked at his face and said, “You didn't do it. You're not the killer.” He looked back at me and was about to say something when Ea-Shamar burst through the door with an arrest squad. They all had blades out and looked as though they would use them. Everyone looked at her, and suddenly I realized I was still half-hugging Gannen. I slipped away from him just as Ea-Shamar announced he was under arrest. He? I was incredibly confused. I thought she might have been here for us, but why him? I stood up and confronted her about it. She told me to step aside, and that Gannen's fate was in the hands of the Magistrates now. I looked over at Gannen as Ea-Shamar's arrest squad shackled him. I yelled at no one in particular that he was innocent of this crime (though he's certainly not an innocent man) and this was wrong. No one seemed to listen. Ea-Shamar eventually told me to shut up or she'd arrest me for disturbing the peace and interfering with the guard.
I went to the bar, fearing that this was entirely my fault for informing Ea-Shamar about Gannen in the first place. Gannen left peacefully, as if he realized there was nothing he could do (or perhaps he just had faith in the Magistrates not to convict him. After they lead him away, I sat at the bar for a while and tried to figure out what had just happened. I started talking about Justice and Injustice, and how the line between them was messed up. Blank consoled me. Though he doesn't look it, the Captain is a very wise man. He told me that the line between Justice and Injustice may have only been in my mind in the first place. Blank also commented that if you look at things from different angles, Justice and Injustice are one in the same. What I have seen the past few weeks has show me that he may be right. And if the concept of Justice is so skewable, then how am I supposed to Champion it?
I decided that I needed to talk to Ea-Shamar immediately. Blank said to meet back at the ship when I was done. He informed me that we would be leaving the city tonight. He explained why, but I wasn't really listening to him. I needed to talk to Ea-Shamar. I went to the castle, but the guard on duty insisted that she wasn't there and she was terribly busy anyway. I needed to see her. I needed her to understand that Gannen didn't do this. But I couldn't talk to her. I failed Gannen, just as I had failed many in the past month. I failed Sa-Follen's guard when I cut him down as he ran away. I failed Baern when I allowed Rellik to rig his match. I failed Mischa when I didn't protect her from my own crew. Why did I fail these people? Is it because they meant nothing to me? People should matter. Life should matter. But perhaps the people I am close to matter more than the others.
I wandered the market for quite a while, picking up candles, oils, and incense. I need time for meditative reflection. I need some time to think, to feel, to see. That is what I will do. Perhaps I can figure things out. I have commandeered the storage room at the bow of the ship and have told the crew that I am not to be disturbed.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Sigrid took a bit longer than usual talking with Mr. Morek. We should be heading to where we think the temple is in due time.
Today it seems Rellik regained his voice. He’s decided we’re not going anywhere until Mischa dies. The others agreed that an unhappy Rellik make for an unhealthy crew, so we went back to Ao-manasa.
Today was another enlightening day. Another person had been a victim of the yellow rose killings, but we went on to kill Mischa anyway. After pestering her about the Hora Quan, Sigrid figured out she killed her father. About damn time. Before she’d answer anymore questions however, Rellik stabbed Mishca from behind (I still have no idea how he got there…) so Sorern and I just went along and mauled her. The butler came in, but Sigrid was able to pin him. We found some poison vials and yellow roses in Mishcas room, so we placed them with her. I also found some booze, which Sorern says is Magical.
We slinked on over to the Black Angle, and waited around with mazquar until Gannen arrived. We talked with him some, and my witch sight told me he was a champion of death. However, Sigrid says the most unlawful thing he’s ever done is the illegal arena fights. Oddly, Ea-Shamar busted in and arrested him for the yellow rose murders, sending Sigird into a completely incomprehensible mess. Since we might end up suspects for Mishcas death, we decided to high tail it outta there, and we set sail for Ozymandius’ tomb.
So that’s what we’re doing now. However, I have the worst feeling it’s going to take us a while to get going.
Nothing peculiar today. Weathers nondescript, Relliks off hiding somewhere, Sorerns…. I have no idea what that little biter does. One thing though, Sigrids not around. She said, or mumbled rather, something about going down to the hull to think. She’s locked herself in a storage room and has been mostly quiet, except for the occasional muttering about justice and Gannen and Ea-shamar, Sa-Follen, Mishca, the knights of the axe, and some other silly stuff. I think she’s off her rockers….
Now we’re talking. We’re being blown way on… into…. Through our course. We’re being blown west by this powerful wind storm, and I’m loving it. I’ve heard some unsettling bumps and crashes from down below, and Sigrid yelling about the weather and her purpose or something. Sorern nearly fell off the deck twice, but I’m not so worried about that. Mark’s shark can grab him. Heh. I bet that’d scare ‘im.
Okay, this is ridiculous. The storm has continued for a full day. We completely whizzed past the temple, so now we’re moving against the storm. Other than that no eventful changes….
It’s cold, and Sigirds been more quiet than normal, but the winds have died, and we’ll make it back to the temple in due time.
We’ve reached the island, and I’ve set the crew on high alert for Giant Crabs. Accursed critters….
We slept through the night without any crab ambushes, but I still don’t trust the buggers. We’re leaving the island as soon as possible. Sorern and I took a bit to calculate where we were going exactly, but with my nautical expertise we got it down pat.
Monday, March 12, 2007
“And I hide things other places.” – Blank
“Rellik! I will not tolerate insubordination.” – Captain Blank
“(I said a fancy word.)” – Captain Blank
“Why would they try to kill us? We are as innocent as little baby birdlings.” Captain Blank
“Little baby birdlings who just murdered someone.” – Sigrid
“Baby birdlings can be very vicious.” – Captain Blank
“It’s like everything I know about justice has been turned on it’s head. The guards just came in and arrested a man who, while certainly not innocent, was not guilty of this crime.” – Sigrid
“But it’s a ritual. You can’t bother me.” – Sigrid
“Right. I’ll be on god dirty.” – Soern
“I’ll always be there to get hammered with you.” – Captain Blank
“Yeah, that makes me feel much – wait, yeah, it does.” – Sigrid
Things That Never Happened:
“We all got multiples of five.” – Soern
“But only one of them was a prime number.” – Captain Blank
“My name is Sigrid Halstead. You killed your father. Prepare to die.” – Sigrid
Sunday, March 11, 2007
After Sigrid finished talking to Morek, they decided (in contrast to their original plan) that they should return to Ao-Manasa. Rellik wanted to complete his contract on Mischa, and while everyone else was initially in favor of continuing on to the Temple, they quickly decided that having a less-than-pleased Rellik onboard was probably a bad idea.
The Ocean’s Blade sailed, under fair weather, to Ao-Manasa. They went down to the Twisted Fish, hung out a bit, and learned that another person had been murdered, that very morning. They couldn’t find out quite who it was, and Sigrid wanted to Ea-Shamar to get more information, but the rest of the group convinced her that they should go kill Mischa first.
They went to the Mevarin house. The same strange old man greeted them, nearly refused to let them in, then showed them to the sitting room, where Mischa was. They (meaning Sigrid and Blank) asked her about the Hora Quan, and she said she didn’t know anything, that was her father’s hobby, and they should go to the University if they were really that interested. Then Sigrid used touch of justice on her, discovered that it was she who had killed her father, Kedlar Mevarin, and was trying to find out if this was true and what it meant when Rellik snuck up behind Mischa and stabbed her.
They fought. They won. She died. Rellik’s critical hit and Soern’s paralytic spelling (facilitating a subsequent coup de grace from Rellik) made it a decisive victory. The butler came in about halfway through, but was quickly immobilized—first by Sigrid’s grappling, then by Soern’s magicing. Captain Blank and Sigrid (who the butler had now decided were pirates, because they were all pirates, because only pirates would try to murder someone in their own home) got him to agree to keep quiet, by threatening to reveal his theft of cheese. (Which Sigrid discovered using touch of justice, and which he referred to as his “terrible secret.”)
Sigrid, of course, wasn’t happy with Rellik, because she’d wanted to know what was going on. She pointed out that there might have been someone else involved, and that now it would be (at least) much harder to follow that trail. No one listened, because Rellik didn’t care in the first place, and Captain Blank and Soern were too busy looting the place.
Sigrid pointed out that this was probably a bad idea, because if they tried to sell stuff they’d taken from the house it would become fairly obvious they had been involved in the murders. She made Soern put back the jewelry he’d taken, but Captain Blank still took the alcohol he’d found, because Soern reported that some of it was “magic booze.”
They also searched Mischa’s room, where they found a box with two vials of crystal scorpion poison and two yellow roses under the bed. Rellik took the vials, and one of the roses, and put one of the vials and the rose on Mischa’s body, as a sort of tip off to the guard.
Then they left. They went down to the Black Angle, because Soern wanted to buy some things from Cer-Athene, (once they got there, he decided against it) and because they wanted to talk to Gannen. He wasn’t there, so they hung around a bit, and tried to talk to Mazquar.
Gannen got there some minutes later, and Sigrid began trying to use touch of justice on him. Hilarity ensued.
Meanwhile, Captain Blank’s witch sight told him that Gannen was a champion of death, information he discreetly relayed to the others at the first convenient moment. Based on this, it seemed clear that he had been involved in the murders, somehow. Probably, he had been in secret communication with Mischa, and the letter had been some kind of code.
Except that, when Sigrid finally got her justice sense to work, she discovered that the most unjust thing he’d ever done was “illegal arena killings.”
And before she could puzzle out what that meant, Ea-Shamar entered the Blank Angle, with retinue, and arrested him for the murders.
Nobody was quite sure what to do after that. Rellik told Tillienne that he hadn’t done it, that Mischa had, and that she should tell the guards that. Sigrid went down to the castle, to talk to Ea-Shamar, but was told that she was “busy,” and wasn’t available. They decided, in the end, to just get out of town for a while, to go investigate this business of the Temple of the Hora Quan.
So they set sail, the very evening of the day they’d arrived, for the Tomb of Ozymandius, from where they would chart their course to the Temple. They made good time that first day, but on the 22nd a terrible storm kicked up, and they were driven west, which wasn’t that bad because they were heading that way anyway. On the 23rd, it still hadn’t let up, and they were driven even further west, past the tomb entirely. The weather, though cold, cleared up on the 24th, and they were able to make it to the tomb.
The weather continued on the 25th, when they set their new course and made for the fabled Temple of the Hora Quan.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Sorern finally finished scrying those items. Nothing much new about the stones, the sword has necromantic powers, is empathetically intelligent, but its powers are bound somehow. It can be unbound in some temple of the Hora Quan, but I’m not entirely sure what that’ll do…. We’ll probably mess around with it anyhow.
We convinced Rellik to stay at the ship while we went to the Mevarin household. We didn’t want any unpleasant err, assassinations during our visit. We were greeted by this quirky butler who decided we were all pirates. He changed his mind about me when I said I was a pirate, because I was telling the truth, and pirates lie, or something. I love old geezer logic.
Mischa was rather collected for someone who’s just lost a supposedly loved one. But I’m not one to pry into personal lives… unless gold is involved. Yarrrr….. in any event, we found some useful documents Sorern translated talking about some champion of Ozymandius.
After we were done there, I decided I would take it upon myself to teach Sorern about the wonders of Rum at the Black Angle. Sigrid didn’t seem too against this, so I figure that’s a good sign.
Getting tanked with a Faen turns out to be not such a good idea. Not only am I still hung-over, we nearly got into a bar fight together, and I’ve seen magic users in bar fights. After about 10 seconds they couldn’t be consider bar fights so much as all out battles. Tillienne seemed to have similar experience. Apparently Gannen knew something about the sword, so Sigird talked with him a bit about that… didn’t yield any new information, but at least it’s likely improved our cred.
Oh, I also picked up my headband-o-wisdom. I look so kickass with it on.
On our way back to the ship, we ran into James and a couple of ruffians. They were shaking him down, but apparently only for the sake of beating him up. When we showed up, they left, muttering something about Illiam. I better track him down before he pulls something like this again.
Anyway, James annoyed us for a bit until Sigird paid him off to leave. I don’t know why she encourages him.
We passed a ship with a bunch of pirates who looked like Illiams ilk, so we got in our ship, and I just ordered everyone to follow them when they took off, and everyone, even Sigrid, complied… I’m such a good captain.
We followed them up the coast a few miles, but then the fog set in…. it was unnaturally fast, and I immediately thought it might be magical. It lifted maybe a quarter of a bell later, and the other ship was gone. More oddly, we seemed to be in a drastically different place. But we had traveled very slowly, as there were sharp rocks about… we searched for any signs of magic or secret passages, but found none. We decided to investigate it later, and we headed down to Sigrid’s superiors island.
We enjoyed a lovely ice storm today. It would delay us, but I was not daunted. Sigrid… did not share the sentiment. She made the throwaway comment of “Stupid fucking ice makes me so cold. Hate hate hates it.” I tried to freeze her by looking at her. While I did not entirely succeed, I think it got the point across.
Memo to self: Must learn how to freeze people by gazing at them.
*sigh* the ice storm stopped earlier this morning, but winds have picked up and we should make it to the island by tomorrow. It’s times like these on the seas when I think it’s all going to well… it seems like we should either be pursuing some ship, being pursued, carrying contraband, being in a sea storm, or being attacked by some monster…. Things have been too quiet lately… perhaps that monster is stalking us…. Ah, what am I thinking? I’m getting paranoid… but still… that monster took us completely by surprise. Even if it wasn’t specifically following us…. I have to be prepared, and I mustn’t fail to protect my crew and ship.
Sigrid took a bit longer than usual talking with Mr. Morek. We should be heading to where we think the temple is in due time.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Secondmonth 16 (continued)
Soern finally decided to join the ranks of the living once again. I think he has done all the scrying and loresight he can on the stones and the sword. The stones are simple enough magical items. The sword (Aur Xica) has a story all it's own, but I will explain that later on in this entry. The group decided to let me wield it, though Soern did almost attack me when I had asked to take it. He's a little overprotective of his magical curiosities I think.
After our break on the ship, we decided to pay a visit to the Mevarin household. By “we”, I mean Blank, Soern and I. It had been decided that Rellik should stay with Mark and “protect the Ocean's Blade”. Not that the ship needs much protecting. I mean, it's so small and rickety, I wouldn't think anyone would really bother it. The real purpose of leaving Rellik behind was to avoid any... complications with our conversation with Mischa. Complications like, oh, I don't know, her death? I really don't think I can let him kill her. I'm supposed to prevent such unjustices from occurring. At least Baern knew he was going into a fight, and that sometimes fights can go badly... no, no.. I am NOT justifying myself with this one. The fight was rigged. Baern was tricked. I could have warned him. I should have warned him. I am just as guilty as Rellik and Blank. If I allow Rellik to kill Mischa, then I will again be responsible for an unjust death. But if I stop him, I will be betraying Rellik... and Blank and Soern too. I don't know if I can do that... I don't know what I should do.
More to the point, we went to the Mevarin household and were greeted by a crotchety old butler who was convinced that we were pirates, because we were “unwashed”. Unwashed? I just went to a bathhouse this morning, by Malleus' Beard! It is no matter. The old man is clearly suffering from senility, as he decided that the only one of the three of us that was definitely not a pirate was Blank. I fail to see the humour in the irony. After much ranting about pirates, he allowed us in to speak with Mischa.
Mischa was pleasant and very calm and collected for someone whose father was just murdered. Almost too calm... We learned no new information speaking to Mischa, but she did allow us to look through her father's research papers. We found this magnificent black and gold document which Soern managed to translate a little of. He says it seems to be an announcement involving Ozymadius and the installation of a Champion named Dyeza Tazhiren. That was all he could figure out, but he made a careful copy of the paper for reference later (and perhaps a more detailed translation from a loremaster). Dyeza Tazhiren: Ozymandius' Champion. Perhaps Dyeza's tomb was the sidetomb we found off of Ozymandius'.
We left the Mevarin household, much to the relief of the Butler, and decided to go to the Black Angle. Blank needed to collect the magical item he had ordered from Cer-Athane. Blank also said, “Soern has never been to the Black Angle, and he really should.” Soern thought this was a great idea, so off we went. The Black Angle was the same as I remembered it. Very... taverny... Cer-Athane was sitting at the bar with Tillienne, the shadowy-looking man in the corner didn't look like he had moved an inch, and Gannen was at his normal table (sans Mazquar today). Gannen looked up at us when we entered and nodded a silent hello. Blank and Soern went to the Bar to talk to Cer-Athane, and I followed, taking the opportunity to have a glass of ale. When Cer-Athane presented Blank with his magical wise headband, I couldn't help but smile. It was adorned with various feathers. It was actually quite pretty, though it lost a lot of its beauty once Blank put it on his head. Perhaps I will have to order some sort of magical item from Cer-Athane.
I glanced over at Gannen once or twice and noticed that he was still staring at us. Well, not actually us, just me. Gannen was staring at me. I had no idea why. Had he just noticed that I was female or something? I finally got annoyed enough to get up and go over and ask him if he had a problem. His only reply was, “Where did you get that sword?” So, he hadn't been staring at me, he had been staring at the Aur Xica. I suppose that's probably a good thing. I sat down and talked to him a little bit about the Aur Xica. He wouldn't divulge why he knew about it, and I didn't learn anything that Soern hadn't told me earlier, but it was a pleasant conversation nonetheless. I guess this is as good a time as any to write down all I know about the Aur Xica thus far.
The Aur Xica is the blade of the Champion of the Hor Quan empire. It was created at the begininning of the empire and was wielded by the Kings' Champions for hundreds of years. It is credited with keeping the empire peaceful. We know of only one King and one Champion by name thus far. Dyeza Tazhiren was King Ozymandius' Champion, but whether Dyeza was the last Champion of the Hor Quan Empire is unknown to us. At the beginning of the Dramojh War (which would destroy the Hor Quan Empire), the High Priest Tai Faren took it upon himself to hide the sword. No one knew of its whereabouts until now, when we accidentally stumbled upon it. The power within the sword has been locked. The secret to unlock it is somewhere within the Temple of the Hor Quan. The only clue we have to find the Temple is the guiding light in Ozymandius' tomb. Also, the sword is intelligent. It doesn't talk, but it is empathetic.
I do remember a Knight-Mistress of mine telling us Squires about the Hor Quan Empire. I didn't pay much attention. History wasn't terribly exciting to me at that point in my life. Why would I pay attention in Academics when I could think about Weapon's Training instead? All I really remember is that the Hor Quan Empire had nothing to do with the Diamond Throne OR the Dramojh (except the whole “getting slaughtered by them” thing), so they were obviously awesome. I was so dumb back then. Being non-Diamond Throne and non-Dramojh does not automatically make one “awesome”, though the reverse is true. Being supportive of the Diamond Throne or a Dramojh does make one decidedly un-awesome.
But I digress... After leaving the Black Angle, we headed back to the docks, only to meet up with James. He was being bothered by some rather gruff looking pirate-types, and I ended up interfering before they hurt the poor boy. They muttered to Blank that Illium had warned them about them and then they hurried off. It was too bad really, I wanted fight them and teach them a lesson. After a long, drawn-out conversation with James, I gave him some gold and sent him about his way, reminding him to stay out of trouble. Blank seems to think I encourage the boy. Oh well. At least his blood won't be on my hands.
When we arrived at the docks, we noticed a large ship with a full crew setting sail. The sails on it were black and red, and the crew was singing rather crude songs. They were the most stereotypical pirates I had ever seen. We hurried back onto the ship and Blank started barking orders to set sail. We were on the chase. Chasing someone in a sailboat isn't nearly as exciting as running after them on foot, but it was kind of exhilarating. The only thing was, we the distance between us and them never decreased. We were going the same speed as them. We kept this up for hours, following them up the rocky coast. As dusk settled in, so did the fog. It was thick and sudden. One second it was clear, and then the next second, I could barely see the deck from the crow's nest. I was concerned that we were going to hit a rock with such terrible visibility, but Blank, Mark, and Soern were extremely careful. We cleared the fog as quickly as we had entered it. It was a little disorienting. We seemed to be in a completely different place than we had entered the fog in, though that couldn't have been more than a quarter bell ago. What sort of magic is this? Could a sea witch summon up such fog? We searched around for the pirate ship for a while longer, but finally gave up. We had been outsmarted and outmagiced. I requested that Blank set a course for my Order's island, and I decided to put Rellik on guard duty so I could get some sleep.
I wish winter would end. There was a minor ice storm today that will slightly delay our journey. I accidentally made a remark to Blank today along the lines of “I hate stupid ice.” (though my actual comment was a little more explicit), and I got a rather “cold” glare from him. I had forgotten about the whole Ice Witch thing. Oops.
The icestorm has stopped. The winds are favorable and we should reach the Order early tomorrow morning.
We arrived at the Order Chapterhouse midmorning. Soern, Rellik, Blank, Mark and I spent some time in the guildhall drinking before Lord Morek called for me.
I told Lord Morek that I didn't believe that Soern or Blank were any threat to the Order. I also informed him that I didn't think Rellik or his organization were a threat to us either, at the moment. If these assassins were to turn their eyes to us, there may be trouble, but at the moment, all is well. We also discussed the Aur Xica and the Hor Quan. He would like me to explore the Temple of the Hor Quan, if we can find it, and report back to him. The only new information he could tell me about the Hor Quan was a rumour of a possible heir, a descendant of the last King, or of the last Champion. Lord Morek will send a message to the Eye of the Axe Loremasters requesting more information on the Hor Quan.
We set sail again this afternoon. I believe our next stop will be the Temple of the Hor Quan, if we should be so lucky as to find it.
Captain of the Ao-Manasa Guard
Captain Blank’s contact for all things old and valuable.
Soern’s dragon patron.
Lord of Sigrid’s Knight of the Axe chapterhouse.
Arena fighter, who died in a “mysteriously” rigged match.
Bartender of the Black Angle and organizer of the arena.
Magic item salesman.
Minor noble, victim of the Yellow Rose killer.
Kedlar Mevarin’s daughter.
Historian, victim of the Yellow Rose killer.
Shadowy Corner Guy
Seemed to be sleeping in the corner of the Black Angle.
Annoying cabin boy from Captain Blank’s old ship.
Dislikes pirates and unclean people.
Vaguely evil boatswain from Captain Blank’s old ship.
An ancient king of Hora Quan.
Creator of the Aur Xica.
Last High Priest of the Hora Quan.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
This time, session 5, Rellik's player wasn't here, which is why Rellik spent most of the session on the ship. (Part of the reason, anyway.) So we've had three weeks without having a full session, with everyone present.
I updated the timeline post. And fixed a couple of time discrepancies in the fourth session summary.
And . . . what is it about Sundays? Exactly? Every Sunday, a bunch of random wackos show up, with nary so much as a referrer, and then they disappear the next day. It's not that I'm complaining, I just wonder, what could possibly be causing this to happen?
It was forged at the beginning of the empire, and for centuries was wielded by each of the Emperor’s champions in turn, and helped to maintain its long peace, until that peace was ended by the dramojh war.
Tai Faren, the high priest, hid the sword from the dramojh—though no one has recorded where. He bound its power, and hid the secret to its unbinding at the heart of the empire, the Temple of the Hora Quan.