The Flower in the Sepulcher

Mina's Notebook, pp. 64-67

Busy, busy day today. I ran a few errands in the morning. After last night’s entry I figured it would be fitting to make a small donation and sit a candlemark at the Temple of Wee Jas. I’ve never been especially religious, particularly not with regard to the Ruby Lady, but the quiet and the candle were… calming. It seemed an appropriate way to pay my respects.

I also went to the Cabinet of Curiosities, which is still just as wonderful as I’d imagined it being. Ok, the tea and lunch help too. They didn’t have anything more on tsochars than I already knew, unfortunately. I looked up some general information about plant creatures but didn’t get much more than I already know – they’re not very susceptible to electricity, and it’s not very easy to keep an eye out for rotting heaps of vegetation in the world’s largest rotting heap of vegetation.

Shortly after I returned, a messenger showed up at our door, bearing an overly elaborate message with a refreshingly straightforward postscript, courtesy of the Four Corners Free Company. They hosted us for dinner at the Full Quiver to talk about a business proposition, which I’m quite agreeable towards – cross-contracting between the free companies of the city, sharing our (demi-)human resources as it might be.

The core members of the Four Corners are also a balanced band of four, and I’d guess that they’ve been together for quite some time, if the lovely sigils they bear and their sense of camaraderie tell true. Speaking of, we could do with putting our device somewhere other than on our sign. (Maybe we can talk Cyrus into getting that shield decorated with a compass rose?) I did at least get the keys distributed. It took a little practice but electric jolt is controllable enough to perform small engravings. Mine is definitely the sloppiest, the S is extremely angular. I’m not sure if Cyrus’ looks the best because I saved it for last or because an N is just an extremely angular S on its side.

The auteur of the elaborate letter was Krog Fitzpatrick-Cavendish, half-orc lord of the southern Horse. I swear, there is nothing funnier than an extremely dignified half-orc mooning over some girl. Apparently the “some girl” is pretty interchangeable, but this particular one works with Owain and Maman. I offered to write a letter of introduction but he claimed he didn’t want to seem indirect.

I did get a smile out of Spelter Blackforest when I pointed out that Krog is clearly anything but indirect. She’s another craftswoman, and between her ambient aura, her northerly origin, and her lack of clothing, I’d peg her as a cold specialist. She also offered Galen an introduction to the Alchemist’s Guild.

Alain, who we briefly met at Moss Point, is their cleric and their in with the Order. That’s why they were the ones to summon us, I suppose – apparently the Order is trying to keep a bit more of a leash on us free companies, making sure we’re working in some level of loose cooperation instead of outright competition. Essentially, the deal we agreed to is that we can loan out our members to other free companies if one of their jobs requires it, in return for the standard share of the pay.

I took the opportunity to ask Makan about dragons… I didn’t hear much of the folklore of the Orange Pips at the Passageway, since the Trinity isn’t well-established there. The legend holds that a great golden dragon flew to the islands from the Jungle Penumbral, and from there became the ten kinds we know today… even the gold dragons are but a reflection of the original one’s beauty, and the dragons’ obsession with gold is said to be an expression of their longing for that original, perfect form.

Many of the noble houses of the islands claim to have dragons as their ancestors as well, and it is rumored that some still have contact with their draconic ancestor. Makan thinks it likely my father traveled well south in the Pips, to the lands tied to the water dragons… or my mother was from there and traveled north. Amalia is a name of the far south, and that area has ties to bronze and black dragons.

I know for a fact that the child of a true dragon is obvious, but maybe I am one of those naturals who can legitimately claim to be born of dragons. Hopefully bronze. The stories I know of bronze dragons are all good ones, wandering sailors taking pirates by surprise by revealing their true forms, sea serpents rescuing foundering ships, valiant warriors lending their services to noble causes, and kindly old men who mind the docks in small towns for decades on end, bringing good luck and fine fishing. Perhaps I’ll investigate this further.

Cyrus had to go meet with the rest of the exiled lords tonight. Evidently he’s not only a lord, he’s actually the firstborn of his family. Great. He is starting to loosen up around us, though. Heh. “Pluffing.” It’s too bad I only have magical feathers on me, I don’t know if mundane pluffing would even work.

Point being, he missed out on our discussion of Galen’s condition. No offense to Cyrus, but that’s reason number 26 that I no longer feel the need to visit the Empire of the Horse. Resurrect a kid to testify against his parents and botch the fucking spell to boot? If there’s a paladin left in that church I hope they fuck a succubus and fall. And catch syphilis for good measure.

I’m concerned, as I suppose I very well should be. Galen seems to think that some very rare Mosquito Kingdom scrolls could hold the key to repairing the damage the botched resurrection did to his soul, and he also seems to think they’re at the Death gem. It’s far off, farther than we’ve ever gone into the swamp, and if it’s the library of a powerful Mosquito Kingdom ruler, it’s going to be some kind of hell. I’d go through it to help him.

The Order wants to meet to discuss strategy eventually, but since eventually doesn’t appear to be now, we answered that ad we saw in the Quiver two weeks back. Apparently no one else had the balls to walk into St. Clarion’s Hospital and introduce themselves as an intelligent adventurer.

Magnus Schnabel surprised me a little bit. From the note, I expected someone with a faster temper or a higher opinion of himself. Maybe he does and I just didn’t set him off? He does have a certain force of personality, the sort of authority that comes with a lot of experience. I’d suppose the sharp tone comes from the combination of being both very accomplished and surprisingly young – older than me, certainly, maybe older than Cyrus but not by much. His eyes look harder.

The expedition is going to be a long one, and due to the limitations of our boat, we can only take three of us free company members. Galen and I were pivotal to the contract getting offered to the company, and Finn’s newfound navigational skills were a strong selling point too, so I guess we’ll have to leave Cyrus behind. I don’t really like that. Mostly because I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have at my side during a fight. Finn doesn’t count, she shouldn’t be at my side if she’s going to be at maximum effectiveness.

Fascinating camping spot tonight, on the weathered stump of a tree as big around as a room – Magnus called it a titan tree.

Magnus is an interesting one for sure. He’s also from the northern Horse, although he’s got a stronger accent than Cyrus. And quite the story to tell, also known as reason number 27 I don’t feel the need to go to the Empire of the Horse. Any story that ends with “everyone starved to death except me” doesn’t paint a flattering picture of one’s rulers.

Galen pointed out his unusual holy symbol – the briefest description I can think of is if a Pelorian sun disk was imitating an Olidamarran mask. The common term for it is the dualist heresy, the idea that the sun can bring life but also death… I can respect that. I’m astounded he kept his faith in a god of good at all.

I’ve heard bards compose songs of summer that sounded like laments. The Pelorian church might not approve of Magnus’ philosophy, but I think there’s an element of truth in it.

It feels good to be awake this morning. I’m glad Finn said it first, but I miss Cyrus… there were lots of times yesterday I’d have traded my pay to see a shield and flail out of the corner of my eye. I wonder how his expedition is going.

We encountered some new-to-me and decidedly unfriendly creatures yesterday. I vaguely remember someone doing a report on mudmaws in second year xenobiology, although seeing one in person was entirely different. They’re well-specialized for the swamp, incredibly territorial, and rapacious. It has some limited magical abilities it uses to ensnare its prey – it can cast slow, and turn ground into mud. I got completely trapped in the mud, which made me much less helpful than I should have been against it.

Magnus also taught us a good way to make money – harvesting metamagic components from the creatures of the swamp. I’d heard of metamagic components before but never really paid attention to them – they’re incredibly expensive and only work for one particular spell. Apparently mudmaws have glands that improve slow spells greatly. Hopefully they make it back to Treff, we could use the cash.

After we crossed the river, and were immediately charged by a pair of giant stag beetles. I suppose they probably scavenged whatever the mudmaw left behind. I was pretty badly hurt, but I pulled through well enough because I learned a new trick – whenever I was hit by the beetle, I felt a surge in my magic, and I was able to send electricity shooting through it. For someone in my line of work, this is the best trick ever – yeah, I might get hurt, but I’ll at least hurt back.

Last night wasn’t bad, at least. Magnus is also quite skilled at surviving in the wilderness, so we set up a defensible camp and even had the energy to socialize. Of course, we also learned a good way to lose money… dice poker. It’s much more luck-based than normal poker – unless you’ve got some sort of edge, but still. No odds to weigh, no bluffs to call? Magnus ended up with five of my gold, Finn with three, but it’s not like I’ll miss eight gp. Probably won’t be rushing to play anywhere other than around the campfire, though.

The “graveyard/treasure chamber/garden” description of the site we sought proved to be entirely accurate.

First off, the graveyard. It was covered in an unhallow spell, which was fortunately offset by the combined divine talents of Galen and Magnus. Nothing better than walking into a group of undead with two clerics at your side – the front line of wights scattered before I could even process that they were there. One of the wraiths did a number on me, sneaking up from below and sapping my strength… fortunately, my electricity took it down, and Magnus quickly restored my health. After all of that, there was a giant’s skeleton that almost knocked me unconscious with a single boulder. Finn tried to use the wand of magic missile against the skeleton but didn’t quite get it. That’s ok, though. I’m sure she’ll pick it up eventually.

The treasure made it incredibly worth it, though. Lots of coin, some art objects, and an incredibly magical divination ring. I’m very glad Magnus is getting us a break on tariffs this go, even before identifying it I can guarantee that thing is worth some serious cash.

In the garden where we’re camped, we found the mushrooms we were looking for – and also a chimera. Galen’s incredible talent for alchemy helped make incredibly short work of it – not every day alchemist’s fire deals more damage than weapons. There was also more treasure – a potion and a hearty pile of gold.

As far as we can tell, this was primarily a poisoner’s garden, and most of the things in here are marketable as drugs or poisons. I completely concur with Magnus’ reaction – uprooting them and covering them in coals. Compared to almost everyone in the city, we’re wealthy beyond imagining. I couldn’t sleep at night if I made even more preying on people’s inability to cope with their lives.

It’s good to be back at the Rose, and several thousand gold richer. I’d definitely travel with Magnus again – he’s an incredibly adept fighter for a doctor, and his healing abilities bailed me out more than once. He’s also ridiculously smart. I think I might be able to pin him down in a game of strategy. But ridiculously smart and ridiculously intelligent are very different things. He is of course not looking for employment, but I made it clear that he’s always welcome at the Rose. Someone needs to help us with this infestation of scones, after all.

I did finally get a letter back from Owain, shoved under the door with a black feather stuck under it. It did not appear to need pluffing. It gave me reason number 28 to never visit the Empire of the Horse – they deal with slavers? I’m not really sure what to think about their work with our collective friend… although going on rescue missions is noble and all, this is the Smuggler’s Guild we’re talking about, and they’ve got to be working some sort of angle. It seems all too much like playing dice poker blindfolded to me. For all you know they’re not even the right set of dice.

Also, it was kind of amazing, seeing more than two thousand gold in one place, and having it all be mine. I spread it out on my bed, just to take a look at it all at once… and maybe Finn scolded me for putting holes in my sheets. And maybe Cyrus walked into the guildhall right as I was expressing my confusion with that statement. Yes, maybe I did spread it out on my bed. Yes, maybe I did consider just lying down in it. No, I won’t be sleeping on it, because seriously that would hurt. No, that wouldn’t put holes in my sheets because putting holes in things doesn’t work like that. And no, it wouldn’t even matter because I could fix it. And yes, maybe that dragon thing isn’t the craziest idea. Oh, and the haul from the hospital job that wasn’t mine made enough money to get ourselves a boat, a Treff catfish boat. We’ve named him Edward T. Catfish. Or Ned. According to Cyrus, it’s not all that much different from dealing with a cow. I’ve asked him to teach me a little bit about managing the catfish.

It was really good to see Cyrus again, terrible hoard-based embarrassment and all. Considering he was the first one to suggest needing a beer, I’m pretty sure that the past two weeks were not terribly pleasant for him. And we were the ones traveling with the plague doctor. Poor man… I’ll ask about it later. Fortunately my first batch of beer turned out pretty good – as good as any beer I’ve had in the city so far, maybe even a little better. I’m not going to rush out to wholesale it, but between my beer and Finn’s cooking, maybe we could impress some clients.

Threshold Disciplines

Today was a productive day at the Arcane Order. I introduced myself to the elderly head of the order Gaspard Vereit. I also met the young researcher named Elise Somerall, she is researching the flows of magic within the swamp. Her research shows promise, however it is limited by a lack of fieldwork. My companions agreed to take her on a ranging so that she can collect samples and study the magic flows of the swamp with her own eyes.

The arcane order had quite a bit about my condition. There are three ways to restore my soul: finding a djinni to grant my wish, dying, and the grey scrolls of Anophelius II. The two former are either not feasible or not desirable so I looked into the latter. King Anophelius II was known to be the preeminent scholar on the threshold disciplines, the magic of the change from life to death. The ruins of his libraries lie in the southernmost reaches of the swamp, bordering the most savage reaches of the known world, an unsavory idea to say the least. The temple of Wee Jas may have more information on threshold disciplines and King Anophelius II.

The next day we were summoned to the headquarters of the Order of the Moss Covered Sword to discuss the carnelian box. A venerable dwarf, a walking stick in each hand, translated the prophecy of the box. The prophecy was in an ancient dwarvish language called the echoing language. He is one of the last keepers of this dying language. With an arthritic hand he turned the key and read the prophecy hidden within the box. It foretold that “the blossom will grow red with the blood of the city of the forest” (see the appendices for the full prophecy). Important things are happening in Treff. Normally I always want to change places before too long, but staying in a place that always changes might prove interesting. I will extend my stay in the City of Keels and Piles to see this through.

Mina's Notebook, pp. 60-63

Oh man, I totally forgot about my birthday! Thankfully Marta sent me a package, otherwise I would have gone on thinking I was nineteen for another month or two. Some of her perfect ale, which I shared with the rest of the company, a really nice set of new inkpens and inks (a little hard to get here, since paper doesn’t last terribly well… plus, I’ll be needing those if we ever need to, ahem, “manufacture” some documentation of our own), a potion of fly (very practical, my family), and my ballot! Yep, turned 20, get to vote now, since I’m still a citizen of the Republic even though I’m living in a free city.

I wasn’t sure about the millage to support the “new continent”, so I marked it no. I won’t complain too much if it passes and I have to send along a little extra in taxes, though. The major elections weren’t terribly exciting. Grand Necromancer running unopposed as always, Grand Transmuter a choice between the incumbent and a challenger from the liberal faction. Not that I don’t agree with a lot of the liberal faction’s policies, but they really have to get people who are better-versed in the craft to stand for them. Their candidate is a talented trader who really thinks of transmutation as his second calling, and in a discipline where high-level casting is so essential to our success, particularly control weather, I’m not convinced that exceptional mundane skill outweighs average magical abilities.

Cyrus was entirely perplexed by the concept of elections, which was only a little bit adorable. I mean, he brought up a few valid points about “what happens if people get elected by making stupid promises”, but, well, let’s put it this way. I get to vote a corrupt or ineffective council member out, and he’s an exile. Points to us on the “not having to stage a rebellion to change our leaders” front.

He also brought us some news of the Traveler’s Collective, who seem to be doing well enough. He used the very apt adjective “interesting” to describe them… “interesting” is one way to put it, for sure. Also, apparently that unmarked building next to the Workingmen’s Society is their guildhall – they really ought to put up a sign, people might want to find them or something. Also, I’m glad that Owain didn’t give him enough trouble worth mentioning, I remembered about five minutes after Cyrus left that he might not be particularly discriminating in his opinion of Marcher Lords. Shame, that – I think their core values and fighting abilities are surprisingly complimentary.

Finn has been cooking up a storm during our downtime- she’s got a great cranberry scone that keeps appearing at my elbow when I’m coming out of meditation in the morning, with a nice cup of tea. I’ve tried reminding her that we’re not working in an inn, but apparently that part of innkeeping resonated with her. It’s kind of nice having her around to take care of us – my cooking skills are fair and I can make great trail food, but really my skill is with brewing. Of course I still pop over to Leslie’s for pie. Mostly to keep myself fed when Finn’s out exploring, but also just to chat and pick up a little gossip. I’m still not terribly well integrated into the city but at least I’m not completely green anymore.

Galen found us a new client – Elise Somerall, a graduate student from the Arcane Order who needs some muscle to help with her fieldwork. We brought her along to Jasper and Jester’s Den of D-adjective-that-changes-periodically (nice touch, signmaker) for additional birthday beers, and discussed a site she wants to investigate. According to Galen, her work is of exceptional quality, but I’m skeptical about her combat abilities. We’re a bit light on physical punch to begin with, and at least if I’m up against a wall I can grab a spear and stab something. I know I shouldn’t judge a fellow craftswoman on appearances, particularly if she’s from the Arcane Order, but I’m confident when I say that studying the craft doesn’t do much for your physical resilience. Even the monstrous humanoids prove that one – an ogre mage is way more dangerous than an ogre, but they’re not much harder to knock down (if you can find them).

I guess the only real exception is dragons, but they’re one hell of an exception – I know that a lot of natural craftsmen claim that we get our knack from dragon blood, and I guess that’s not a crazy thing to say. Dragons can, after all, crossbreed with anything smart enough to catch their attention… still, dragons aren’t especially common, I don’t think that there can possibly be enough dragonbreed to account for all of us.

Speaking of Finn and dragons, she got me an absolutely beautiful bracelet for my birthday – fine elven-worked dark gold, interlinked dragons with tiny gem chips for the eyes – the kind that are too small to be a properly cut gem or to make grinding it into gem dust worth it, but too large to be considered gem dust. I keep rotating my wrist to watch the light flash in their eyes. It’s not magical or anything, but it was incredibly thoughtful and suits me perfectly. I’ve always had a bit of a weakness for jewelry, but you know how it goes – you’re out on the road and don’t have a gold piece to your name, so you barter your nice but not extravagant or sentimental necklace for enough gold to get you through to the next job. Of course I’d never trade Mom’s brooch away. I’d only be able to get its value in plat anyplace that didn’t have a caster, and if they had a caster, they wouldn’t have enough money to get me to part with it.

Well, apparently that carnelian box was particularly relevant. Although I don’t know why the tsochar would have wanted it… no wait, that’s obvious, it wanted to keep the prophecy under wraps. My previous statements about there being something big and nasty brewing in the swamp are only further confirmed.

Cyrus was contacted by the Order of the Moss-Covered Sword on my birthday, so today I dragged my slightly hung-over self out of bed, ran a prestidigitation through my hair, and headed up to Moss Point with the rest of the company. Moss Point is clearly the most military district of the city, seeing as Greenstone Keep is there. There’s also a siege engine workshop, the home and business of another family of Marcher Lords, the Limbers. I only smirked at Cyrus a little when he told me that – come on, that’s only slightly less obviously a tradesname than Brewer.

Greenstone Keep is beautifully designed and incredibly defensible, with winding stairs and arcane marks on the walls. I can only hope that whatever we’re going up against in the swamp won’t lead to us making a stand there. The master of Greenstone Keep is Livia Rylaeon, who has that voice. You know the voice, the “Wilhelmina Brewer” voice… the “you did something very, very wrong and you should feel very, very bad about it” voice. Except way better than Marta’s version. And also no one calls me Wilhelmina outside of the Passageway or my school records.

She’d summoned us because of that box, which apparently is a sort of… puzzle box? A resonating puzzle box, which contains an amazing amount of information in what’s called the Echoing Language. It’s an old, old variant of Dwarven, nearly extinct, and I am incredibly indebted to the dwarf house Whitestone for keeping some knowledge of it alive. Because, when the key is in the lock, and the box is struck, it speaks. It speaks a prophecy, left by those who came before, those who felled the Mosquito Kingdom in the first place, long before the Lotus splintered and long before the mage-kingdoms took up the Ermine flag. It speaks of a battle not won nor lost but merely postponed, a postponed until 175 years after the crowns were made into keys, 150 years after the three became one, 12 years after the south rose against the dawn… in other words, now.

The box also contained a map, set with gems – gems of Fire, Wind, Life, Death, Madness, and Law. In a moment of terrible realization, I pulled out our map. The eidolon. The gem of Madness. It fit.

The Grand Bailiff told of a migration of horrors, a congregation of the evils of the swamp that appeared to correspond to these gems. She charged us with seeking out these places, quietly, in the course of our other work in the swamp. I told her of the eidolon, and she doubly agreed both that we would be the ones to destroy Madness, not the Order, and also that we needed time to prepare and hone our skills.

Of course, pay is going to be scarce for this. I’ve heard enough fireside stories to know that heroes generally don’t get much in the way of compensation, unless they’re out slaying dragons. The allegiance of the Order is quite the reward in itself, though – and considering we haven’t actually been hurting from coin from our previous jobs, I’m sure we’ll find quite a pile more while we’re out stopping whatever dark madness is rising from the Mosquito Kingdom (would it be too much to hope that we can get a tariff break on equipment we keep for these jobs?).

Wee Jas preserve Jacobius Wellborn, and send him my respects. The Stern Lady holds that although all die, the knowledge we pass on in life gives us immortality, and in finding this box, he lives as long as the gods.

Looks like I’m going to get that chance to fry more tsochars.

After all of that ominous prophecy, we headed back to home base. Cyrus parted, saying he needed to speak with his fellow “overly pretentious exiles”, and also go shopping. I mean, I could have teased him about the shopping bit, but that would be pretty hypocritical since Finn and I had plans to go to the Bazaar of Torches.

The markets in this city are the grandest I’ve seen since leaving Stone Table, and the Bazaar of Torches might just be the grandest in the Known World. We spent the entire evening walking through the boats on the Pearl Lagoon, taking in the sights and sounds and smells brought there from the four corners of the earth. Finn tried coconut for the first time, which, as is widely known in Stone Table, is the most expensive free sample in the Known World. But hey, we’re adventurers, if we can’t buy little luxuries with our hazard pay, why do we even ask for hazard pay? I picked up a few utility items I’ve used up in the past several weeks. A half-elf arms merchant agreed with me that you really shouldn’t leave home without at least three daggers, and sold me a new third (should probably send Owain an invoice – “1 dagger – 1 gp or you pick up the tab the next five times we grab a beer”). I also met an aquatic elven scroll salesman and his very friendly catfish companion. Apparently it’s not unheard of in aquatic elven circles to inscribe spells on enormous clam shells. The novelty of having a spell on a shell was worth paying 15 gp more than I’d expect for paper, but I’m not going to do that again. It’s a big city and I’m sure I can find someone who’ll sell me hold portal at standard value.

We also picked up a mess of kitchen gear for Finn, which I happily chipped in for because she deserves a treat. She hasn’t really gotten her hands on any of the good loot so far – the Cloak of Charisma really suits me best, she doesn’t use a shield at all (let alone as effectively as Cyrus), and Galen really needed the chainmail more. Also, she can’t use any of the wands or scrolls! I know a lot of people think that you need to be a caster to activate them, but that’s really not true – you just need to trick the magic into doing what you want. Maybe I’ll coach her on that – I’ve been working with that shield scroll we found, trying to figure out how to cast it naturally, and we have a wand of magic missile. I’d be ok with burning a few charges on it to teach Finn how to use wands and test out my shield at the same time. We’re going to need every advantage we can get if we’re taking on that eidolon.

Barroom Brawl
I couldn't think of anything witty to put here today

We were faced with some kind of construct in the room ahead of us, I guess this was supposed to be our real test. It wasn’t difficult. The lizardfolk, Maman made sure of that. I’ve been in stickier situations before, but this thing seemed to have more bark than bite.

In the one or two companies I had traveled with before, most of my companions had died. The Traveler’s Collective is comprised of not only seasoned warriors, but gifted ones at that. Naheeda, the half-orc has strength beyond anyone I’ve met, and some gall rivaling that of some of the best warriors I’ve traveled with (at least the ones who are still alive). Owain and Abad appear to be experienced as well, though Owain had some difficulties earlier with one of the dire panthers, and climbing.. we all make mistakes, don’t we?

I’m inclined to think there’s more to Quarak than what he’s letting the rest of the guild on to. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never found rogues especially trustworthy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, I’m indifferent to the true motives of most of these people. For now, I’m just along for the ride, and to make, hopefully, a handful of platinum pieces on the side.

Another highlight from "A Famous Life and Grand Adventures: The autobiography of Abad Ibn Mousa Al-Arakis"

My first weeks in the city were primarily concerned with coming to know its nature, as first times in any new place must be for the wise traveller. I would like, dear reader, to provide you with the information to skip this process should you ever have the good fortune to visit the city of piles, as it is my constant devotion to reward your exquisite taste in purchasing a copy of this book by providing you with value. But alas, how to explain Treff and the Anophelian to one who has not seen it for themselves? For any description one could conjure would immediately bring to mind its contradiction. The city and the swamp teem with life, but the very water which allows it is poison of the most foul demeanor (as an extremely unkind jungle cat informed me). Treff prides itself on its anarchy, but gilds its code with finery and allows each faction to impose as much order as suits their needs. And those who claim to be beacons of morality and law will ignore the plight of captured slaves when it is inconvenient to risk the ire of merchants!

Perhaps all that can truly be said of Tref is that it is a city of contradictions.

But alas, even this is not true, for there is one statement about the city to which none could disagree. Treff is a city of great personalities, something about the odor of the the grand flower reaches out to the world in all directions and calls them in. Such proximity of rare men causes conflicts, especially when played out upon a stage of flimsy docks and fetid water, but the interest to which it lends life is not to be found elsewhere in the world. Of the great singularities of personality, the greatest I had the pleasure to meet in my first days in the city was the collective friend, the smuggler king known only as No-Collar Jack. He was, in many ways, the city in microcosm, defined by contradictions between his desire for freedom and the rules he set down for his guild, and between his living in thievery and his strong moral convictions. To add to this already glorious construction of an identity, he had cultivated an impenetrable air of mystery, won the complete devotion of his followers, and seemed to know the ancient ways of the desert thieves with an intimacy not usually extended to outsiders, at least not in an age. Needless to say, I was intrigued.

naheedas jurnal 3

the litel mercs just didnt wanna play. after taking out there pets and geting to the hideout. they al ran of like a bunch of sisies. beter for them. they wouldnt of had a chanse. and the one we did kil was bearly a warm up. would have been nise to blood my sword a bit more… but maman beat us to the punch with her voodoo shit. layed down a curse. controled that efigee with some luk and gueswork. gota say im starting to apreciate her companee.

we got bak to tref without troubel. birdman rescued. efigee undamaged. not bad for r first quest into the swamp. jak payed us nisely to. quorok the crowfolk was greatful for r help. he liked us enof to want to become part of the teem. so we recruted him. i dont have a feel on the tricky bastard yet. smugglers are useful alies but they sure as hell arent people you wanna keep around ur belongings. sticky fingers. does he even have fingers? i might need to invest in a good lock. no coller jak seemed very interested in r adventuring partee. in fact he ofered us another mision. go fetch some captives. it sounds easy enof but he says that it is the oposite. ill wory about the danger once im there.

the nite we got back about a stones throw from r house there was an inn playing some lively music. after the disapointment of not killing enough during r voyage. i figured i could find someone to knok heads with. a drunken dwarf or a idiot human. somebody to let of some steam with. haha. boy did i find a good dansing partner. her name was bex. i identified her as a wild elf. you realy can find one of everybody in this citee. r fight was fast and fun. the bar crowd loved it. she hit me a few times. and tho i only got the slipery knife ear once. i sure as hell made it count! broke her goddamn nose. i think i made a new friend.

ive been asking around. turns out there is a half orc bar one district over. i gotta say i think i wil be spending a lot of time in the jakes. i only ever met to other half-orcs in my life. i dont know wat to expect. i cannot say i know what my kind is like. elfs say were ugly. humans say were dumb. orcs say were weak. us half breeds are outcasts from all those worlds. i need to meet them. see how others like me have lived.

Insurrection Everlasting

These ones have returned to the city from their outing. The one called Quarak requested to serve as a liaison between these ones and the ones called Jack and has taken residence on the top floor. The one called Abad was laid low by the filth fever, but Loko intercedes on his behalf, removing the taint from that one’s body. And in exchange for requesting his aid twice more for the unfortunate of the city in what is called a hospital another one reversed the ill effects which would have taken the one called Abad a week to recover from.

The effigy spirit was returned to the ones called Jack, and these ones were rewarded for their assistance in the matter. The ones who held them fled into the swamp, and one of nature’s guardians fed well on their leader, perhaps a mercy upon the one who was cursed with insurrection everlasting. This one offered to accept that one’s surrender, but that one choose to flee into its death. Ghede claims those who don’t respect the swamp.

The one called Quarak has brought a request to these ones, to free a number of slaves from captivity. Ogoun and Legba will surely grant their aid to combat such injustice, if they are not held appropriately.

A lost traveler

It is said that Fharlanghn wanders the world, appearing as an old man with travel-stained clothes and a weather-beaten face. He stops from time to time, conversing with fellow travelers he encounters and guiding those who are lost to find their way home.

Last night I had another episode. While aiding a lumber camp we were waylaid by Vine Horrors. My old eyes failed to see them in the murky waters. Before I knew what was happening I was getting pulled into the bog and surrounded by these horrors. I was able to escape back to my companions but not before I was gravely injured and my soul started to slip again.

I tried desperately to hold onto my physical body. Like cupped hands trying to hold water, I tried to keep my body and my soul from splitting. I had visions of celestials, demons, and devils beckoning me to their realms, all trying to lay claim over my soul. I pray that when the time finally comes when this body fails that The Three will guide me to their realm and that I won’t be condemned to the horrors that await a lost soul in the afterlife.

I am a devout man. I have committed myself to the principles of equality, charity and modesty. I know of the transience of life and have tried to enrich the lives of those around me as it says to in the Book of Ways. I know all the tales of the nine seekers, I have helped countless in need, I have lived a life that The Three should smile on, so why should I still bear this curse?

Perhaps I have not lived a life worthy of The Three. Perhaps the actions of my first fourteen years have cast a shadow so dark, that the next 42 years I have lived in repentance since have not been enough to put me in the light. I pray that when my time comes, an old traveler with travel-stained clothes and a weather-beaten face will help this lost wanderer find his way home.

Bug Tactics
We're gonna need a bigger boat


I guess I should probably give my two cents on this adventure. Well, it’s not really my adventure, I’m just here for the ride. Joining the free company is just a means to an end for me. I play a more passive role in the Traveler’s Collective.

After our first mission ended in success, I thought about going back to the frontier alone. I left for a few days, returning recently to take up an offer by the Order of the Moss Covered Sword to rid the Swamp of some ornery constructs which had taken a liking to smashing weaker adventurers to a pulp, or something like that. I had been to the swamp once before. It is a rustic place, even by my standards. Probably not the greatest spot for a vacation…. BUT THIS WAS NO VACATION.

ahem sorry. We arrived in the swamp after receiving our objectives, meeting two dire panthers on the way. We disposed of them swiftly after surprising them with a bow. The surprise didn’t work so well, but neither did their jaws against a small armory under the control of some seasoned adventurers.

Upon arriving at the fort, we had to deploy stealth tactics in order to find our way inside. It was there we met a Kenku man by the name of Quarak. He proved to be savvy in the way of stealth, subterfuge, and trickery, but no match for the deadly constructs alone. After moving out way into the fortress with the help of Maman’s invisibility spells, we freed Quarak from his prison and began to make our way into our trap…

… (to be continued)

naheedas jurnal 2
walking trees

this is my first journee into the anafeleean swamp. i didnt know wat to expect. but this sure as hell wasnt it. my gut tells me that there is something very wrong with this place. there are things here that ain’t natural. i dont know what things yet. not saying im scared. just that being a barbarian you gotta trust ur gut.

ive never seen this many plants or animals before. animals everywhere. loud birds quiet reptiles and so many fucking bugs. were do all the litel fuckers come from? the plants cover the sky. trees flowers bushes as far as i can see. barely any sun touches the ground. only a few dagers of light escape. the half light is unsetling. i can count the number of days on one hand when i didnt see the sun back in the desert. this darkness is new.

i didnt see trees before my trip south. palms and dates are comon in the desert. but these fucking swamp trees bother me alot. there roots are long and tangled sitting on top of the water. damn things look like there are creeping right acros the surface with thin spidery legs. every time i turn my head i feel like there moving. it sets my tusks on edge.

we are on our way to some bandit camp to retrieve something caled a efigy. abad told me about the mision. didnt really lisen. ill smash some heads. get the object. same old same old.


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