Campaign of the Month: September 2019

The Cold Truce

K-k-k-k-k-kill Pit!

The party engages in a game of Kill Pit at the Broken Bow Tavern in the Warf. The fight is had enough to start- the Half Orc, Bash, is powered up to compensate for the different team sizes. However, when he decides to switch to lethal mode, the party is unsettled and finds the idea of the innocent bar game taken so seriously to be distasteful in this circumstance. But, when trying to exit the game, their choices are made for them, as a small cursor in the shape of a Watcher appears, and switches all of them to lethal mode as well! 9ed0a37f2cf985e29280467abf35c3d3.pngThe battle battle with the tough orc over the lava pit is hard fought, but they eventually win.

As they are exiting the game, they see that there is another challenger waiting for them, and the name Crucible hovers in the rosters. They quickly exit the game and start looking for the Shaman. Bash’s friends sling him over their shoulder and carry his limp body out of the bar. Among his things, which the party gets to rightfully select from, is a ring with the insignia of The Broker. Falon, threatening severe legal action against the establishment and the poor Rune Runner that monitors the game, finds out that the Broker’s symbol has been showing up more lately in the Rune Files. But With Bash and his crew playing a lot more, it was thought that it was just part of their call sign. The party learns that Bash and his friends have been making a lot of trips to delve beneath the city into the dungeons lately, and decide to find them to hopefully get some information about the attack on the Rail.

The Beholder's Bazaar II

A short while later, several Gremshin guards arrive with the Lock Box. With the promise that Olivia will be well taken care of while they travel, the caravan sets off. Matchstick itches to test her wits against such a challenge, but hold off and waits for their hostess. After some well deserved rest, the party awakes to a shirtless Razvahn making strong aromatic coffee for everyone.
Alysia comes out from her room shortly after and they get to business. She palms the top of the box , and after it takes a drop of her blood, the wardings and locks deactivate, and the chest swings open. Inside is an assortment of currencies and gems that the family travels with during negotiations and trades. Alysia quickly however pulls open the compartment of documents and envelopes. She sorts thru them until she pronounces that the deeds to many of the eastern shore fisheries are missing! She knows that the deal with the broker was to involve some waters near The Tower on the the Harsh Atolls. It seems that the Gremshins have also been in talks with House Murdock shield.pngabout possibly acquiring the Arcane Forge. With the papers missing however, she is unsure what transactions may have taken place, or if the Lock Box was possibly compromised. Razvahn asks if the chest can only be opened by someone of Gremshin blood, or with Gremshin blood…. Matchstick takes the handkerchief that Alysia had cleaned her pinprick with, and slices her finger to mix their blood. Telling the Gremshin to re-secure it, the halfling lays her hand on it, and it pops open freely. Alysia’s worry is palpable, and she promises to keep the party informed of what she learns from her father when she communicates with him thru the secure scrying channel in Faxton. From the box she makes several small pouches to give to the party, saying it is the payment a mercenary or hired man would receive for escorting, protecting, and serving, and Gremshin in the ways that they have

The rest of their journey is uneventful, but as they approach Faxton, their excitement builds. The roads start becoming crowded with wagons and beasts of burden, and even the skys are abuzz with air ships and flying mounts carrying people and goods to and from the city.

They depart from the carriage once close en ough to enter the city by foot, and receive a business card from Alysia, granting them entrance to the Gremshin residency in the Interior. They immediately make their way thru the town to find some much needed supplies and upgrades in the various Faxton Shops. e3f95c8f3f7d5e32f68dcc56901f8855.jpg

Among their encounters, Razvahn buys a few things from a curio shop keep who tells him of a Shadar Kai that had sold a few things a few years before. Soon after, A strange man with an arcane prosthetic hand had come thru to buy what the mad had sold. Later on, the party meets for a few drinks with a merchant at the Broken Bow. Between rounds he recalls the story of the Shadar Kai, and even of the man who had come thru town a few days after to buy up whatever he had sold in the various shops. As they relax and chat, the arcane fighting arena becomes available and the game master issues a challenge, seeking the adventuresome tavern goer. The party bets some gold, don the virtual helmets, and everything goes dim as they feel their minds being scanned….

The Beholder's Bazaar 1

In the aftermath of the battle, the party finally takes stock of their surroundings. Just as rays of sun barely creep over the horizon, they begin to hear and see help arrive. Wagons of locals, apperating wizards, and transported troops all begin to descend on the wreckage to offer their help. The party and Alysia are approached by a carriage surrounded by Gremshin guards, and a tall Half Orc in ornate armor calls out to them. Alysia addresses him as “Captain”, and the two discuss the chaos. He tells her that her mother and father have heard of the disaster, and have sent the carriage to take her to the residence in Faxton. Charles tells the party that he has work to do and needs to help the other victims of the crash. He shyly asks Matchstick if he can send her a letter some time. After a brief moment, she gives him the Messanger Sparrow with a smile. Meanwhile, Alysia informs the Captain that the party is invited to travel with them as her personal escorts.

While the Gremshin clan plans, Matchstick wanders back to find Kastor and his companions to inform them of the Agent’s departure. But, tragedy has struck, and their Rail car has been almost completely demolished. Among the wreckage she finds one of Kastor’s companions, but not the Kobold himself. Taking the opportunity to….. prevent any Kenku from robbing the deceased…. Matchstick pockets come coin, jewels, and a small lock box.

Returning to her companions, the she finds that they are now on their way to the Gremshin Rail car to secure the Lock Box, and to try to find out what happened to the Gremshin brothers. As they approach the car that Alysia knows the negotiations were happening, Razvahn tells her “You know they are most likely dead, right?”. Hurt and bewildered, the girl charges ahead. But everyone comes to a jaring halt at the sight of the rail car. one wall has been obliterated, and what remains of the wreckage is COVERED in blood. The scene causes the young Half Orc to turn away, but the party presses forward with a few soldiers to investigate. Falon is able to determine that the blood is not just orc bloods, but also many other types of creatures. Matchstick discerns that the car itself didn’t just crash, but was also exploded from inside by several alchemical blasts. The party and Gremshin clan make their way back to the carriage where the Captain informs them that the Lock Box will be brought to the young lady once found. With that, the party boards coach to travel to Faxton.

The carriage turns out to be a dimensional pocket, and the small 4 bedroom apartment is a welcome respite after the chaotic day. Alysia offers the party refreshments and answers a few of their questions. It seems the Lock Box will hold not only large cash deposites and other valuables, but should contain the papers and information on the specifics of the trade agreements that were being negotiated. As they wait, they realize that the Half Orc is beginning to grow tire, and Matchstick notices that Alysia has dosed her own drink. Exhausted and now slightly medicated, she offers them to inspect the box once it is brought to them and she wakes from her rest to open it. As she leaves, she gestures to Razvahn to follow her to her room. The Shadar Kai follows without a word and closes the door….

Alysia’s Journal-The way to Faxton

I do not know why I feel I owe my new companions anything. Aside from my life. But when they questioned my brothers affairs, I felt obliged to answer truthfully. I unlocked the Gremshin Family Lock Box brown-vintiquewise-storage-baskets-qi003033-64_600_1_.jpgas I have in the past. I thought nothing of my father’s words of the Gremshin blood being the key, until Razvahn posed his question if just the blood itself could open the box. My mind went dark. My brothers’ blood. It was everywhere. Matchstick confirmed this theory, using blood from my own hand to unlock the lockbox without consequence. I hope my face held. Inside I quivered. Had my brothers been murdered for the contents of this box? For the missing deeds to the fishing grounds that surround the Harsh Atolls? What manner of enemy are we against? For in truth, their enemy is now mine.

The week and a half journey to Faxton has brought such a mix of feelings. I have gotten to know my traveling companions more. Well some of them more than others. Leaf is very enjoyable and has spent many an hour telling me of their tales. I wonder if he is truly engaged in my friendship or if it is only his nature as a bard. Falon I have learned is not a sage. He is a cleric by training but a more of a mystic by thought. He has spoken of many prophecies over the time of our travel. I have yet agreed to have him read my cards. Not because I doubt his ability but more that I feel his reading would carry more truth than any vender at the Beholder’s Bazaar could muster. My life feels in part in shambles and I have not the strength to hear it in the cards. Matchstick is a little more … reserved? Not really. Aloof? No that is not right either. Secretive perhaps? She is very friendly but also holds back. Which leaves me to write of Razvahn. I have noticed I am the only one to refer to him by his given name. His friends call him Raz. I feel we have reached a place that I could do so as well but also wish to distinguish myself somewhat from his friends. It sounds silly to put into words. And perhaps I presume too much. But I have lost so much. I would like something for myself and he does not seem to mind.

After the first night on the wagon, I have come to know that what I took to be chivalry was in fact something else. In truth, I do not believe he is one to take advantage. Rather, he is one who wants to have the full experience of life. He has said so himself, in passing. When I look back, I see a pattern of him taking in pleasures as they come. The way he (properly) savors a glass of Amber Essence. Or closes his eyes briefly at the first bit of a meal that is rich in flavor. Or other things I blush at the thought of writing about. He meant what he said that it would not have been fun. He did not care for the time or the day. He wanted the moment. And the ones after that.

As we approach Faxton I feel apprehensive. First, I must part from my new friends. And from Razvahn. Second, I must face my parents. Not in person but through the scrying glass. I do not know if Mother will be present. Not that it would make it easier. I hope I have the strength to question my Father as to his knowledge of the Broker. Now that I know what we face, it is not simply a matter of his business plans or the Kingdom. I fear we are all at risk of some great evil.

Alysia’s Journal-The Derailing

When Razvahn and his companions accepted my invitation, I thought the end of my boredom was finally here. I did not realize how horribly right I was. The mention of my brothers’ business with the The Broker and of Jared, the man who coordinated the initial talks, sent Razvahn and his friends into a flury of action. They were clearly upset by my words. It seems this Broker is more than just a businessman. before I could interject to inquire, the train began to shake. I remember Matchstick rushing me with her hat off. The next thing I knew, I was in darkness. Then all at once I was standing among them again outside the train, or what was left of the train. I wish the story of that night stopped there.

Later I would learn that Matchstick hat is essentially a bag of holding. And she thought to keep me safe. Why does everyone assume I need to be kept safe? Although I have not seen much of this world, I am not weak. I believe I proved that, if not to others, then at least to myself that night.

History will tell the tale of the derailing. Of the loss. Of the Kingdom’s response. But it will not be able to recount the sounds my ears cannot stop hearing- the screaming, the crying, the fire, blades clashing together, magic sizzling through the air. Nor will it be able to tell of the smell- flesh, smoke, blood.

When I emerged from the hat, they had already battled many monsters, those they call Wire Kin. They took a brief moment of respite to strategize. There were several children there. Afraid. Alone. I drew my blades and knew that I would protect them … or die trying. My hands still ache from gripping my blades for so long. Razvahn somehow knew there had been an explosion and he and his friends moved in that direction. I followed with the children and others we came upon. And wished we had held back.

They fought the enemy like a well oiled clockwork machine. Moving together to bring down their enemies. Razvahn swung his blade as if it were a mere extension of him, not a mighty weapon of such weight that I doubt I could lift if. Matchstick dashed between their foes, eliminating the enemy before they knew she was even there. And Leaf and Falon. I have seen magic. I have never seen magic used so precisely to both aid an alley and bring down the enemy. The night air danced with energy from their spells. It was awe inspiring. And terrifying. In the end, a young Drakefire soldier, urged on by Razvahn’s fierce command to “finish him,” brought down Jared. And the other wire kin fell with his death. We were safe. Or at least no longer being attacked.

The end. But it was not. My body shook. It was all I could do to stand. I leaned against Razvahn, seeking the strength I had just witnessed. But he pushed me off as the Captain arrived, saying “stand tall for your men.” It was harsh. But not so harsh as what he said next. When I sent the Captain and guards to look for my brothers, he turned to me and said, with no emotion in his voice, “you do know they are likely dead.” Anger, pain, and fear boiled in me. I forget the words I hurled at him as I stormed after the Captain but I know my mother would have fainted in shock to hear them from my mouth.

Later, I do not know when as it all blurs together, I asked Matchstick if Razvahn was also so cold. Her reply still only make half sense to me: “death is different for the people of the Shadowfell…. And he is sometimes an ass.” Ha. An ass indeed. But what do her other words mean? How does the thought of losing your family, your blood not make one ache? It makes no sense to me. He makes no sense to me. After the scene at the car … I cannot yet bring myself to write of it … he stood there. Staring up at the night sky. As if the stars were more important than the loss of life all around us.

Regardless. I was alive due to them. As angry and hurt as I was by his words, I could not turn him or his friends away. I ensured they were invited to the wagon and made my escape from the scene I know will always be burned into my mind. When they finally joined my in the wagon, I did what any lady does. I offered refreshment.. Ha! Thank you Mother.

Perhaps it was the sleeping tonic I added to my tea to calm my nerves. Perhaps it was exhaustion and the trauma of the night. Perhaps the desire to not be alone after such horrors. It does not matter really. As I retired, I invited Razvahn to my chambers. And he followed. And then this cold, battle worn man surprised me. I recall taking the time to clean up and change into luxurious night clothes. The cool comfort of silk on my skin helping me forget the harshness outside the walls of the wagon. And settling into bed, I watch him lean his blade again the wall and begin to take off his armor.

And then I awoke. My body refreshed from sleep. Across the room he slept in the chair. Still wearing his pants and boots. His feet resting on the ottoman. I was surprised. Was this chivalry from one who had no qualms taking me back to his rail car so many days before? My stirring must have been enough to wake him as he opened his eyes just then. It must have been on my face. He smirked and said it would not have been fun and that he would make coffee. And I must say. It was the finest coffee I have had in some time. If he does all things like he fights and brews, I believe I will endeavor to forgive his cold demeanor.

Alysia’s Journal- Shades Rest

The days are slowly going by, as expected. The stop at Shade’s Rest could have been quite exciting- if I had been allowed off the train. Both my brothers and the Captain lectured me at length when I protested. A den of thieves. A haven for miscreants. A city of immorality. Why do they thing I am so fragile. Or so innocent? In addition a to smothering me with security, my brothers have refused to allow me to be involved in their business with the Broker (whoever that may be). I had hopes to see Razvahn again in the dining car but have not. I’ve requested the dining car staff extend an invitation to Razvahn and his friends. Perhaps they will be inclined to join me In my car …

As we pulled away from Shade’s Rest, I cannot help but think of the adventures to be had there. I heard that Chewlia Jildes was in the city. And some talk of a great battle in rail yard? I yearn to be in Faxton. At least there I will be allowed to meander the shops and booths of the Upper and the Interior. And if I can shake the guards that follow me “for my own protection,” perhaps I can steal down to the Warf?

Alysia’s Journal-Dry Gulch

I should be angry! I have never been dismissed so abruptly! Yet my intrigue remains … Before we departed Dry Gulch, I managed to make my way to the dining car without escort. The Captain is busy with my brothers’ worry over the thieves. As luck would have it, that strange elf was there. I suppose I should stop calling him that. I felt quite silly but I had to ask what race he was. I was as eloquent as possible …”I’ve never met one such as you…” Ha! Who speaks like that when not required? My mother would be proud. He said his name is Razvahn. That he is a Shadar Kai from the Shadowfell. I hope he could not tell the fear in my eyes as he told said those words. The Shadowfell? I remember the horror stories of my childhood: despair, gloom, bleakness, death. The inability to describe the color of his skin makes sense now. He is fascinating to look at. One side of his head bears short shaved hair in the shape of a bird’s head, highlighted with the tattoo of deep red eye. The other side of his head bears an intricate tattoo of a flock of birds. He has other tattoos as well – odd now that I think of it, they are also of birds or parts of birds. He also bears scars- not just of battle, but as design on his body. For one who looks as though he belongs on Warf of Faxton, he has fine taste. I found him in the dining care eating the finest lunch one could order. After my initial stumbling to determine what he was, we had pleasant enough conversation and flirtation … with the promise of more excitement as we made our way to his rail car. But his companions were there, the human was casting a spell and mentioned something of crates. And with that I was pushed away and out the door! Not so quickly that I could not share where my rail car is. Perhaps when his business is complete …

Alysia’s Journal-The train

The Rail stops more frequently that I thought it would. The excitement of the Beholder’s Bazaar has drawn so many to the Kingdom. The stop at Dry Gulch was most intriguing. I was not permitted to exit the train. The Captain has great concern for my safety. Does he not recall he trained me himself in the use of the blade? From the safety of my car, I watched many merchants and travelers board. One group in particular caught my eye. They appear to be an escort for some red Kobolds and whatever wares they take to the Bazaar. It was an odd mix- a halfling, a half elf, a very oddly dressed human (perhaps a sage?), and the most unusual man I’ve ever seen. The shape of his ears would suggest he is an elf. But he is like no elf I have ever seen. I suppose you would describe his skin as grey but it almost seems a pale black or a dark white. It should not be so difficult to describe something you can see with your own eyes. Although I could not get a close look, he seems to be covered with tattoos. Even on his head. I would like a closer look at him …

There is rumor of thieves on the train. My brothers find this very worrisome. It is almost comical. Don’t they trust the magic that secures the Gremshin lockbox? Our family’s interests and secrets are secure.

Alysia’s Journal-Beginnings

I can’t believe I convinced Father to allow me to accompany my brothers on this trip. It’s true that I should have greater involvement with our family’s affairs, but honestly, I did not believe he would accept that as a reason. He must know they will not allow me to be actually involved in their business venture. It is all so secretive. What do they call the potential business partner? The Broker? Odd they should never mention his actual name. I should attempt to engage them in discussion of this venture and this person. I doubt they will want to include me. But I am a Gremshin. It is as much my duty as it is theirs to ensure the continued prosperity of our family.

Olivia's Jig
A Song from Loose Leaf Ballads

Jingle jangle jingle, I wear a sparkly halter
Prance prance prance, my hooves will never falter
For I’m a pretty pony, as brave as I can be
My friends are all around me, we’re all valiant and free

I have a friend who plays a song
Everyone claps as I dance along
I have a friend all dark and fierce
And I’m like him, with eyes that pierce
I have a little tricksey friend more dangerous than she seems
The same as her is me you see I fill my foes with screams
I have a holy hobo friend all magical and kind
I know my friends all love me and would never leave me behind.