The City by the Sea

With Arms Wide Open
Er... Arm

The cave held more than just drakes and what started as a simple, well, not exactly simple, but things didn’t go sideways until after the hard part at least. I’m getting ahead of myself.

The devilfish avoided, we found ourselves with another fork in the road and just chose to go right. From there, what looked to be a pile of sails serving as a drake nest turned out to be a pair of giant bat-ish things possibly in the middle of making little bat-things. They screamed, and made people sick and Cyrus ran off barfing like a mad man. It was gross, and we killed them after everyone got their shit together. Thankfully, this was a dead end and we got back on the right track, finding the drake up ahead drinking from a pool surrounding a weird glowing crystal.

The drake wasn’t alone and what started as two mist drakes turned out to be four when the remaining two ambushed us. They let loose with several clouds of smoke, battering the bunch of us but the sea drake went down quickly and the mist drakes soon followed. We were spent, but it seemed we were at the end.

And we were, but while Milah, Lamont, and I went off to rifle through a few of the drakes’ belongings, Vesper started doing, I don’t know what. I’m sure she has a word for it that makes it sound really smart and on the brink of some brilliant discovery, but really, she got the shit taken out of her weird demon arm, in every sense of the term. We camped after Lamont bandaged her up. Speaking of Lamont, I think he plans to take this crystal with us at some point. It’s not going in my room!

Anyway, tons of cash and a full set of gear from a dead guy, not to mention some ship nameplates and figureheads, all down in the drake’s hold. We brought it all back after taking the third route out of that pool the devilfish was hiding in.

We made it back to town, and Vesper recovered, sort of. Her arm is still mangled and nurse Agatha is still pushy and won’t let sickish people out of bed. We all had things to do in town, and ultimately, we got the treasure from the horde shared out. Cyrus seems to be working out alright, and I think he and Lamont had some buddy time at one of the bars. Milah and I tried to find Linda but all we got was the cranky harbourmaster who told us off last time and an undue helping of disbelief. Maybe Linda will be more accommodating, but who knows if she’ll even bother getting a hold of us.

Anyway, I guess Vesper’s demon-whatever arm isn’t going to eventually kill her so yay for that. If we find someone to fix her arm, maybe they can fix these scars and hook me up with a new eye while they’re at it.

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Long Dark Road

“Home in the cliffs” was a bit of an understatement. More like expansive manor with multiple wings and wait staff. We rowed up to the base of the cliff a good hundred feet below the hole the mangled drake clambered its way into, spliced some rope together and sent Vesper, who apparently climbs like a spider, up the cliff with rope in tow. She secured the rope and we all climbed up without much issue. Once up top, turns out, the cave dropped another 60-some feet and with the rope securing the boat down below we had to climb down with no rope to help. After watching everyone else fall I opted to float down and not get hurt.

Well, Lamont had to take his armour off to get anywhere on the rocky wall so Milah helped him armour up but we were attacked by some giant centipedes before he could finish. Despite being so big, they went down pretty quickly and we moved on. The cave would dip suddenly into pools of water and I’d scout ahead to make sure the group could make it before running out of air.

We came to a crossroads of sorts soon after, the floor coated in a strange, dried slime, but before we could think about where to go some giant snails dropped on us from the ceiling. Cyrus reminded us that earlier he’d suggested we look up while walking around. Apparently his eyes don’t work in the upward direction, so now there’s snails. These snails had some swinging arms they attacked us with, and while their shells were tough to crack, they were practically immune to magic. I hear that a blast of magic missiles I loosed hit Vesper when the snail started glowing like I was hallucinating. Well, my pistols water-logged so I pretty much sat the fight out while everyone else tore into the giant buggers.

Cyrus found some blood down one of our corridor options in the cave that led us to another water-filled dip in the cave, this one filled with sea water, I discovered as I scouted the area ahead. This one was a little longer but no real problem, until I went to turn around and had 3 corridors I could have come from. I cursed my short memory and took the wrong path right into a devlifish (apparently) who really wanted a hug, but I was having none of that. It grabbed me but I stunned it and met up with the group, and told them about the danger. We talked it over and wound up trying to bait it out by chumming the water with dead snail. That did nothing, and smelled gross and even I held my breath as we begrudgingly trudged the distance ignoring the tentacle-fish as it struggled to get a hold of Lamont. We made it, and I discovered that big old bolt of lightning spread out into a cone of electric death underwater. At least it didn’t backfire, I just wanted to remind devil fish who was boss. He seemed unconvinced, but we made the span of water safely anyway.

(to be continued)

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It Takes Two

As we expected, the pirates we let catch up with us were no real threat. Their captain took a beating for sure, but that new hired muscle is working out pretty well so far. Their ship was in rough shape but that gave us our next clue. Something attacked them from above off some coastal cliffs about a day’s sail from where we’d met. I was just relieved to hear it wasn’t my brother that attacked them. They’d likely be dead if that were the case, dead or lucky. At least it’s not my brother we’re out here for, maybe he has sort of changed. No, I don’t believe that.

The pirates had taken some captives from another ship they’d sunk, but it seems to be the only one but we picked up a few barrels from one of the lost shipments and left the prisoners to sail this ship to the nearest port, with the few remaining pirates captive. I’m sure I could have found a home for them aboard my ship but I wasn’t going to argue the point against so many conflicting views, and time wasn’t exactly something we had a lot of.

We set sail for the cliffs based on the pirate ship’s navigation charts and logs and soon found ourselves nearing a rocky shore. It would be too dangerous to get much closer but before we could think much more on it, we noticed what turned out to be a pair of sea drakes circling above. They closed on the ship, diving below at the last minute and reemerging to starboard to blast us with their electric breath attack. They then landed which proved to be the death of one as Lamont tore a hole in it with a glowy god smash I’ve not seen before. That and the double-sized barbarian dropping on it. The other fled to its home in the cliffs, but our work was only half done and it would be next.

And Vesper turned into a zombie baby in case anyone started to think she wasn’t creepy.

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Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

“Bring down the Justicars” sounds fun on paper, but then you find out that’s the header for document T17b-2 and the only way to decipher that script is in a bari-solici… Lawyer school. We hired a lawyer. Someone Vesper found through her weirdo connection in high town. He has connections to the people who vote on laws, so he talks to them and then we talk to them and…

So 2 unsurprising rejection letters later we took a more direct approach and offered our services to the Longdock family. Well, what started out as some lady in the back room turned out to be some head of the household and the conversation got a lot less vague. We need to get this plan ironed out because no one’s interested in replacing a good enough system with a mystery system. At least those least affected by it anyway.

So, some of of her ships have gone missing on their way up north and we’ve been sent out to investigate and solve the problem. Before we headed out we hired on a wild man from the north, some guy a friend of Milah knows. We met a few friends-of-friends this past week.

We set sail and after meeting a few other vessels, none of whom seemed to know anything solid, we encountered my brother. It was the nicest I’ve seen him act in a while He said he’s been getting some quasi-legitimate work and more importantly, hasn’t been sinking any Free City ships. He’s picked up some new crew in the ever-sane Sky from the Red Hands so I’m guessing she can fire the cannon for him. She tried to start something with Vesper but that got shut down quickly and we parted ways. Something’s bothered me about that whole meeting but I can’t put my finger on it.

Since then we’ve encountered another pirate ship, I’m writing this as we help them close with us. It’s clear they aren’t the scourge of the seas but I’m hoping they know something.

Kalin never commented on the eye patch. Shit. It’s him and now he knows we’re looking for him.

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The Heart of Injustice

Lamont Journal entry
Date Fifth of Tor’raag

By the mercy of Mehgaia, what have I done?

Things had been going so well. We had a safe place to live. I was making inroads with the people in a number of districts. In a year or two I would of had the sway to make things better. Maybe establish a fair type of law and start to clean up Low town.

Then I knocked out a Justacar and threw him at their compound gates.

I mean, they need to be stopped, that was a given. They’re so corrupt they hurt the people more than help, but I need allies for this. I don’t want to replace them with something just as awful. I know that the districts are thick with crime but I might have to leave that for another day. Am I failing the order if I’m only moving thing’s forward but not fixing it completely? I need help. I hope I don’t regret contracting them. The empire is pretty distrusted here.

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Conclusion
Journal entry by Lamont de Re'lon

It has been too long since the events at St. Owens for me to recall them clearly. Honestly, I don’t think I even understand everything that happened. We were trapped in there. It was full of creatures that seemed to spring from your nightmares. Beak faced hounds with tentacle manes, slick faceless winged humanoids, asnake made of Chaos.

The place seemed to feed on our minds. Some worse than others. I didn’t sleep the whole time there. I faced nightmares ever night. Iryani seemed to lose her mind after we were attacked by a batch of shades or ghosts or some kind of specter. At that point I had to pull her along like a wet cat.

In the end we figured out that the garden was the source of it all. Under the earth there was a huge magic circle ( more on that later) tied to 8 statues. They were drawing energy and making a bridge to gods know where. So we did what any reasonable person would, we smashed them.

This was alot harder than expected. We needed to break all of the statues, but each hit triggered some kind of defensive magic which made us sick or paralyzed us. Sometimes it created a temporary madness. it was hard, but we did get down to the last one in one piece more or less.

The last statue proved the most harmful every blow that fell on it screamed out, echoing in our minds. It created bouts of confusion which were enough to make Iryani and Vesper try and kill each other. I’m not sure how Iryani survived that, she must be blessed by Nim.

In the end it was just myself and Milah and she had fallen prey to the statues madness. I shrugged off her occasional attack and destroyed it. I had hoped that with the statue gone Milah would revert back to herself but the damage was longer lasting then that.

I needed to insure Iryani was alive. I needed to check on Vesper and that girl that was fliting around the place. I couldn’t do that with Milan flipping back and forth between knowing who I am and trying to kill the closest thing to her. So I knocked her out. I’ll always remember that look of betrayal in her eyes when she had a flash of conscious just before the last blow. She will be fine. The healer says they just need time. I think I needed time too. That’s why I took charge of the house on the island.

All that was two months ago. Everyone seems to have gotten better except Vesper. In the throes of madness her affliction has spread. It’s stable again, but it is disconcerning. We need to find a way to turn Cain’s eye away from her, but this will take time.

After we were away from the city I hired some people to dig up the garden at St. Owen’s to insure there was nothing left of the magic circle. We found that the pattern had been made of gold which was somehow melted into the earth. We dug it all up and I used some of it to pay for the demolition of the building. It’s gone now. Some more of the money was put aside to run the house. I guess I’ll split the rest with everyone, I don’t need this much and it’s not like I’m going to start buying fancy horses and a lance.

I’ll send a report back to the Order sometime soon too. They should know about this. I should investigate who built those statues. I should be back in that City helping people. I should be protecting anyone I can but when I see the smoke from that city on a clear day, my hands shake and I worry that to save anyone, I’m going have to burn that city to the ground and sink it into the sea to put out the fires.

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St. Owens: Harmless Abandoned Asylum, or Clever Death Trap

It all started yesterday. No, it goes further back than that; I just haven’t put all of the pieces together yet, but I will. I suppose the most relevant point is that Hector, former leader of the RED Hands (that part’s important) told us about the property he sold off to some politician from the upper crust. I haven’t determined who yet, but the clues are there, I can feel it.

Well, Lamont just marched us all right over there and lo and behold, the door locks behind us. Or did it? He checked the door and claimed it wouldn’t budge knowing very well that WE know he’s the strongest among us and wouldn’t check. If I wasn’t pretending to sleep I’d go check right now but I can’t ruin the illusion. It’s really hard to write sideways, but at least charcoal doesn’t drip. So, we soon encounter Lamont’s plant, Nate Drake, whom I’m now convinced is here to replace me once Lamont figures out how to finish me off. He claims to be a librarian which is definitely a cover story, and all he does is read, which is surely a ploy to catch me off guard.

Then there’s that elf girl in the hall who didn’t count on me seeing in the dark. She might be poisoning the food, but I’m not sure who she works for or with. Everyone, or everyTHING else seems to attack us on sight. Everyone wants me dead but the people I’ve surrounded myself with need my trust before they can betray me! I’ve started walking a few paces behind them as I’m sure that they’re all in this together; Lamont is somehow masterminding this.

I’m not sure what the connection is, but we’ve encountered some strange bug people, blue beasts that travel in packs with zombies, screaming ghosts, and some weird snakes flying in the courtyard.

The blue beast don’t deserve much note aside from being the first real clue into Lamont’s intentions. It was HE who made us approach from the front. I knew an ambush was imminent and, oh! I got surrounded of course but I was too cunning and escaped without much incident.

The ghosts were in some old patient cells. I wish I knew who checked them when we explored the building initially, but they clearly hid these things from me. Conveniently, I was assaulted immediately and blacked out briefly. I woke up before anyone could finish me off, though Lamont was hovering over me, likely about to strike.

The flying snakes are possibly from the strange portal in the SKY (more on this later) and seem to be trapped by the fluctuating nature of that portal since we encountered them during the day when it seems to be closed. I think they were an accident of the whole plan as they seemed most harmful to Lamont.

It was after this that the second bug who escaped the first fight made his presence known, capturing the elf girl (a third agent in all of this mess) and holding her in one of the operating rooms. Lamont insisted we rescue her, perhaps seeking a new ally. They wouldn’t let me question her about the poisoned food, but she told us about the people in yellow robes that would visit the 8 statues in the courtyard on occasion. Lately, lines have begun to glow on the ground, connecting them all together though I don’t recognise the shape.

So, we have RED hands, and YELLOW robes, which makes orange. Orange is the opposite of blue (which I am, by the way) clearly aligning them against me. Furthermore, orange is the opposite of apple. “Apple of my EYE” and there’s a portal in the SKY that looks like an EYE, and SKY is the name of the one Red Hands member that escaped. The robes themselves mean that the wizards are involved, so there’s big magic at play here, and this land was allegedly purchased by some politician from the upper crust.. Wait, the Azure King! Azure is also blue! They’re after the king and I’m to be just some not-so unfortunate casualty! Damn you Lamont, you want the throne for yourself. You tricked me with your “running away from responsibility” story!

If I live through the night, I’ll check the front door on my own and make my escape. Lamont wants to head out to the courtyard tonight under the full moon for what I can only assume is some horrible sacrifice, but I have to play along for now.

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St. Owen's part 2
The rest of the first day in St. Owens reviled a few other oddities and secrets. One of the offices in the basement had a shelf full of undead fetuses which tried to escape there glassy provisions when the party entered the room they were in. Vespa made short work of them striking the shelf with a sheet of lighting. The jars exploded killing the creatures.

And examination room was also found in the basement with an operating theater.

The top floor held most of the housing for the former patrons. A pack of void hounds had taken up residence here was using what people it could find to breed more of their kind. They proved little threat.

With the whole building explored the party picked a room to rest in and tried to sleep through the night. For some in the party this would prove a difficult task as nightmare crept into there sleep leaving some of them fatigued and unable to recover important spells.

In the middle of the night a horrible screaming and banging could be heard from the solitary cells down the hall. The noise persisted until Lamont could take it no more and marched himself to the cell and pulled open its door. Within was found 3 Allpi, broken sprites of the insane which died in these cells. Though their touch caused no physical harm they were able to drain away all of Iryani wisdom leaving her comatose and a little broken inside.

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St. Owen's

With nowhere to go but in, the party resigned themselves to exploring St. Owen’s. Most of the main floor showed the location to be fairly humane. Many of the rooms showed signs of having been abandoned in haste and a layer of dust sat over most of the rooms.

Trapped in one of the sick rooms was a man by the name of Drake. Having come here to look for an entrance to the deep paths he didn’t get far before a structural collapse trapped him in a room. Luckily this was only a day ago so he had suffered little harm other than embarrassment.

There were two things that stood out on the main floor. One was the quality and extent of the library; it seemed to cover a broad array of subject’s and was still well stocked.

The second was the garden statues and the strange creatures that were studying them. The statues made to honour the 7 virtues were arranged evenly around the room and in the centre, an odd eighth statue was newly erected, depicting an unknown figure.

The fight with the alien creatures was quick and brutal, and in the end one of the creatures escaped into the building.

The next area to be searched was the basement and in doing so they seem to have picked up a shadow. Someone is watching them, moving in the dark watching them but never getting too close. Other mysteries that have arisen in this space are the hole that seems to never end and the testing rooms for the poor souls that have been used as living experiments.

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The Beginning of the End

It didn’t take long for the party to get back to town and recover from their wounds. A couple days’ rest and a visit to the Cult of the Empire and the party was back in action. This time taking a more direct rout to Hectors, the party managed to make it into the estate with no issues. Hector was waiting. Well, he was eating but he knew this was coming. After a little chat and the party learning about the sale of St. Owen’s, a home for the mad, in Red Hands’ turf.

Hector decided that he liked his house enough to press his luck against the party. As fists and blades clashed in the dining area, Sky burst out onto the balcony and soon the area was full of lighting and flame as well. There were screams and curses, death and faked death, acid and… pretty sparkle lights. The battle was long and hard fought. At one point having died once and been resurrected, Hector tried to surrender but the anger of a months-long war with the Red Hands and the death of a close friend left little compassion in the groups hearts and Hector was put to the sword. Sky, seeing that victory was not in her grasp fled vowing to continue the circle of vengeance. What few guards remained surrendered and were granted survival.

The next two days were taken with resting and exploring the home and Island. Though well built, Hector did not have much care for decor beyond a few personal luxuries. The building is large and the island still mostly wild. Only time will see what can be done with it. To date no one has found Hector’s personal stash.

With the problems of the Red Hand behind them and no other pressing matters, the party decided to take a look at St. Owen’s to see why someone would want the old building. Upon passing into the antechamber the door firmly shut behind them with an ominous boom. The lock seeming to be of a mystic nature the doors did not care who tried to open them. The now stale air of St. Owen’s seems oddly still for a place that was once filled with screams and manic laughter. With no way out, it seems there is little to do but move forward into St.Owen’s.

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