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Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

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  • Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)





    Blue Rose: Cat’s Cradle is a Blue Rose campaign using the 2nd edition AGE system. It concerns a group of adventurers who are focused on the mediation and ending of conflicts. They work to prevent wars, but also among trade houses and other groups. Of course, they find themselves involved in more than just that as they discover more and more about Aldea.

    Blue Rose: Cat’s Cradle will be told primarily in the form of character journals, with some commentary. You may want to read all of them, or just those who’s perspective you like best. Character journals are rewarded but never required, so I cannot guarantee a journal from a specific character.

    Our game group contains men and women, straight and queer, trans and cis. I as a GM have a soft spot for queer relationships, and am known for that and games where the majority of NPCs are women. I expect this to be no different.

    This is our cast. Specializations are guesses right now. If I am able to edit this page, I will do so when we reach a point of choosing them. All PCs are bisexual typical of the setting unless noted otherwise.

    Ashlin (Ash)
    Background: Aldean
    Race: Human
    Gender: Laevvel
    Class: Expert
    Specializations: Spy, Investigator

    Ashlin the spy is a person of many faces. They grew up out of the kingdom - their father was deemed a so-called unredeemable criminal and exiled with the cloven hoof mark. They made their way back to Aldis after coming of age and going their own way from their father, putting the thievery and con skills their father taught him to use. They got caught, and once a better way was explained to them by an acolyte of Braniel, they converted. Their particular skills and status as something of an outsider led them to be recruited for... things.

    Ashlin uses knives and fights both close and ranged with equal skill. They are the most perceptive of the group, and have a number what are traditionally considered thief skills. They are also the finest liar in the group and an excellent spy.
    Ash


    Darcy
    Background: Roamer
    Race: Night Person
    Gender: Male
    Class: Expert
    Specializations: Martial Artist, Spirit Dancer

    Darcy is a student of the Eternal Dance studying under a Sel-Shann retired from the roads and running in a school in the Roamer district of Aldis City. He is an amicable man, typically gregarious and friendly. He believes that life is meant to be lived to the fullest and there is no question that the decadence of ancient Faenaria runs in his blood. However, he also believes that all should aid their fellow travelers on the Royal Road that is life, especially in avoiding and resisting the corruption of the Shadow.

    Darcy is a melee fighter. He is also a skilled performer and orator, entertaining and rallying followers. Most people do not expect a such a large man to be so quick and cunning. He is well connected with the Roamers, and is something of a moral center even as a hedonist.
    Darcy


    Jadzia of Clan Tenniral
    Background: Rezean
    Race: Human
    Gender: Female
    Class: Warrior
    Specializations: Knight, Outrider

    Jadzia was a talented young brave of the Tenniral Clan in Rezea, skilled with bow, spear, and sword, and born to the saddle. Respected by her peers due to the rhy-bond she shared with the mare Iyara, she was undefeated in battle, wearing the braids of her enemies thick about her waist while her own braid hung uncut to the small of her back. Then tragedy struck, as persons or things unknown horrifically murdered a dozen members of her clan, including her mothers and Iyara. Cutting her hair in mourning, Jadzia wandered the plains for a year, desolate and heedless, until the Roamer Darcy helped to draw her out of her black humor.

    Jadzia is a consummate warrior, but has little understanding of - and less use for - Aldin social niceties. She seems gruff and uncomfortable in most circumstances, but when in battle - or on horseback - she displays the grace of a dancer.
    Jadzia, Jadzia 2


    Jana Totten (Pronounced Yana)
    Background: Kernish
    Race: Vata’Sha
    Gender: Female
    Class: Warrior
    Specializations: Guardian, Slayer

    Jana is a warrior from Kern. She fled her home country as soon as she was able, leaving friends behind. She is also a former Skull Knight. She is not proud of what she did in service to the Lich King, but has promised that she will make up for her former deeds. Being Vata'sha she was also trained to use the small amount of arcana that she can perform, but she is primarily a warrior. As she was fleeing Kern she came across a weeping woman and stopped to help. The woman, Maria, was grateful and they traveled together to Aldis. Jana is a strong, yet confused young woman. She comes across as awkward and uncertain when dealing with other people and is more than a little hesitant to trust strangers, but thinks that she has found a friend in Maria.

    Jana is a warrior trained in heavy weapons and sword and shield. She is proficient at defending others and herself. She is also trained in the healing arts and can act as a back up healer if the need should arise. She is fairly perceptive and good at reading other people's emotions though inexperienced.
    Jana, Jana 2, Jana 3


    Maria Highmore
    Background: Aldean
    Race: Human
    Gender: Female
    Class: Adept
    Specializations: Shaper, Deep Delver

    Maria is an alum adept of the Royal College who setup a lab in the Ice-Binder Mountains to practice her Cold Shaping, study the ice and snow in the region, and to study/spy on the country of Kern in the hopes of one day living in that winter wonderland. However, with Kern's oppression of all adepts that do not study sorcery, and death or worse to those that try to escape, Maria's personal mission evolved into smuggling adepts out of Kern under the noses of the Skull Knights. And she was successful in her quest until the day her lab and home were discovered and destroyed by the knights. If not for her new friend Jana, Maria might have lost herself to the shadow and never returned to Aldis.

    Maria is battlemage, specializing in Shaping. She is learning a variety of elemental magics and has a great deal of power to throw around. She is the most intelligent member of the group and the primary scholar.
    Maria


    Tanith Nocturna
    Background: Aldean
    Race: Vata’Sha
    Gender: Female (Caria Daunen)
    Class: Adept
    Specializations: Healer, Noble

    Tanith was a highly successful student at the royal academy who decided to turn her hand to improving the world. Working with Ash initially she helped form the PC’s group to try to repair fragile peace across the world. Tall and dark, mysterious and beautiful, she quickens pulses with her low seductive purr. Tanith is the daughter of a Traveling Noble originally from Kern, and has great potential for good but a long family history of falling to darkness. Some of her elders back in Kern would see happen again. So Tanith finds herself pulled back and forth by the forces of darkness and light.

    Tanith is a healer and buffer primarily, and has some skill with divination. She empowers the group with her Talents and spells, and gathers information. She is the most charismatic member of the group, a very talented character in social situations.
    Tanith ,Tanith 2, Tanith 3, Tanith 4, Tanith 5

    Session one will be this Friday, and hopefully going up in two weeks. Character backgrounds are being rewarded but not required. Two will go up Friday. Backgrounds are due by the beginning of session two, so not all are in yet; I have four at present. Assuming everyone writes one, we will do two per time this and next Friday, then the Friday after session one. It is hard to say how long the game will last; most of my games last at least two years of real time. Geist: Balance of Shadows is nearly at session 200 and Changeling: Malibu Dream House just hit 100. On the other hand Chronicles of Darkness: The Golden Eagle just ended after 63. But there should be a decent amount of reading for you. Comments and Questions very welcome. Next post coming Friday if not before.
    Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 06-08-2019, 02:29 AM.
    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
    "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

  • #2
    Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

    Here are the first two backgrounds. Ash and Jadzia. Let’s get to know each of them a little better

    Ashlin "Ash”: Aldean Human Expert

    Undercover

    I walked into the small rosy-lit tavern late in the day, settling into my usual table after making sure Kait was there making the rounds. She gave me a nod as she passed by, and I leaned back in my chair, waiting until she got back around. I got out a deck of cards and started playing solitaire.

    She left me waiting for a bit, but was around with my cider before I finished my game. “Well, an’ we ‘aven’t seen you around here in a day or such.” She gave me a warm smile. “Ye find a better place fer evenin’ grub?”

    “That long?” I took care to keep a little of City accent she’d expect in my voice, as I put an elbow on the table and leaned my head on my hands to smile up at her. “I reckon I didn’t notice.”

    She smirked down at me. “Yer plan to sneak into that party and make time with some richie go that well then?”

    I stretched. “Could say that. It was beautiful, it was - not as beautiful as y’are, ‘course - and the lady... let’s say she were appreciative of my talents.”

    “Cor, if’n aught could net themselves a fine lady just by waltzing up, it would be you.” She playfully snapped her dish towel at me.

    “Oh, but aught can. It’s all about yer first few minutes.” She looked dubiously at me and put her hands on her hips. “I see I’ve got some convincin’ to do. This is how it went:

    “There I was, havin’ snuck over a wall on account of I weren’t on the list. I brushed off my sleeves, walked in like my second cousin’s wife’s brother owned the place, and there she were. She had on these reading glasses, ye ken, and she were reading a book, so I knew there, right, that she would like my stories. That’s another key - always have a story.”

    She snorted. “And if the lady ain’t wearing readin’ glasses?”

    I waved a hand at her. “She’ll like your stories anyway, if’n you tell ‘em right. So like I said, readin’ glasses, walked in like I owned the place, and I sat right down, I did.

    “She gave me this look, right, this ‘who are you’ kinda look, and then asked me it, right up front! Most rich types won’t, not just like that, they gotta figure who you know and are related to and who they might annoy all sneaky like. But she just up and asked!

    “So, of course, I told her. I told her I’d just rode into town on a unicorn, ‘adn’t gotten my bearin’s yet, but liked the look of the place so far. She was a canny one, put an eyebrow up a little like you just did right then, and asked me if I were rhy-bonded then, all sarcastic. I told her of course not. I mean, that would be a li’l foolish, saying aught like that. Nah, me and the unicorn, we’d just rescued her bonded, see, from a pack of shadowdancers. They’d caught her, and the unicorn, well, she didn’t have fingers or anythin’ like that, so how was she gonna get those ropes off? It was the work of a moment for me though, and as thanks, they gave me a lift to the city!

    “Well, she laughed at that, so I decided to go a bit further. See, I’d said I weren’t rhy-bonded, but I meant to the unicorn. I wouldn’t be anywhere if’n it weren’t for me rhy-bonded cat friend. We met in Kern, where I was born, but it got a bit hot there, when I didn’t take to their, well, awful, ways of doing things. Kalla - my cat-friend - she helped me get out safely.

    “She were still smiling, so I knew I were in good. I grabbed a seat, and she asked me where Kalla was now. That was easy enough to answer - cats go where they want, now don’t they? I said it all while strokin’ my goatee, yeah, so it sounded all meanin’ful.”

    Kait had sat down at my table, and was watching me with disbelief in her eyes. “An’ she believed ye?”

    I chuckled, remembering the sardonic grin on the lady’s face. “Oh, no. She called me on it, right off. So I went fer the sympathy, lettin’ on that I made up stories on account of my own childhood bein’ so rotten. You know, on account of never knowin’ m’parents. All I gots is this note no one knows how to read, that they tucked in my nappy when bandits attacked ‘em. To make it all worse, the only folks willin’ to adopt me were this evil man what ran a mine on kiddie-slave labor. But I escaped and brought ‘em to justice, see, cause I made friends with a noble after I helped ‘im not get cheated when ‘e was buying a shiny.

    “That got a laugh again, but she weren’t buyin’ it, but not at all. See, her best friend’s wife was a travelling noble, specialized in that sorta thing. She got a bit of the giggles, she did, asking how I was gonna come up with a sadder story than that, so I got all serious. ‘Sadder?’ I asked. ‘Perhaps not. More shameful, and is not shame the saddest history?’ And I told her my da had the cloven hoof mark, so I was raised on the road, outKingdom. He taught me thievin’, and connin’, and a twisted up philosophy about makin’ sure to look after number one first, always and only. Once I could make it on my own, I made my own way and wound up back to the city what threw him out, and learned a better way.”

    Kait glanced around the room, which was nearly empty, it being almost closing time. “Layin’ it on a bit thick, were ye?”

    “Mebbe. She’d poured me a drink an’ all by then, and called over a fella with some of the li’l food bits they had, so’s I was pretty sure I weren’t botherin’ her. So I let on that, yeah, I’d bin tellin’ some stories, but it was on account of my secret weren’t just mine to tell. See, my sister - twin sister - and me, we grew up in Jarzon. She had the talent, arcane talent ye ken, and didn’t wanna be one of them cloistered matrons. So she dressed up as me, so she could go for a priest, which meant I hadta disappear. If’n it came out she was her, and not me... it would be bad.

    “Turns out the lady, she’s an adept herself, so that got us talking about that sorta thing. One thing led to another and... I weren’t around for a few days.”

    She laid a hand on mine. “I suppose ye’ve got somethin’ to run off to again tonight?”

    I smirked at her. “I was hopin’ I wouldn’t hafta run very far.”

    She led me upstairs to her room and sat down with a sigh. “Ash, you are the absolute Exarch. Not one of those is closer than the border of too fantastical for a proper cover.”

    I smiled at her, peeling an apple I snaffled from her desk. “I dunno, I thought the cloven hoof thing was pretty realistic.” She gave me a withering look. I shrugged. “Hey, I didn’t need her to believe me. Just be interested enough to take the bait. You think I was careless enough to not know about her best friend’s wife, or that she was an adept? You told me that.” I punctuated my point by shaking the peel at her. “And she’s clean, by the way. Nothing to do with our current situation.”

    “It took you 48 hours to find that out?”

    “Oh gods no.” I grinned. “But I had to maintain my cover, right?”



    Jadzia of Clan Tenniral: Rezean Human Warrior

    Song of Jadzia

    In Rezea, in days of old
    The wind blew cold beneath the stars
    A child born at the whim of fate
    She bore its weight and bore its scars

    So begins the Song of Jadzia, a biographical composition from the Khanate of Rezea, usually dated to the middle of the fourth century. The translation presented here was completed by Gallus Calderon, Professor of Linguistics at the Royal College, almost one hundred years after the poem’s creation, but is generally accepted as the most accurate presentation of the poem in the Aldin language with regards to content, artistic intent, and poetic form. Calderon claimed to have spoken with sources close to the subject – both Roamers descended from her companions and vata who knew her personally – to ensure the veracity of his project.

    While the latter portions of Jadzia of Clan Tenniral’s story are relatively well-known to modern Aldins, much of her early history is a matter of some conjecture. To this day, record-keeping in Rezea is unreliable, as much of their past is recorded only in oral tradition, and as a people they are prone to aggrandizing the deeds of their ancestors to gain prominence within their social structure. However, in this specific case, Calderon claims that he was able to verify much of the accepted story with first- and second-hand accounts, lending a bit of credence to this at times fanciful saga.

    In this volume, we will examine the early cantos of the Song of Jadzia, with particular attention paid to the experiences that forged the woman she would become. We will attempt to interpret the poem dispassionately, separating artistic imagery and poetic hyperbole from the known, hard facts of Jadzia’s life, and how these events might have shaped the legend we know.

    The above quote (from Canto 1, Verse 1) is among the most memorable and recognizable of the poem. The references to “fate” and “the stars” almost certainly represent poetic license, as there is no indication that Jadzia’s birth was prophesied or foretold in any way, nor that it was remarkable within the hierarchy of Clan Tenniral or the Khanate as a whole. We can, however, glean a few details of her birth from this stanza. First, the line “the wind blew cold beneath the stars” indicates that Jadzia’s birth most likely occurred during the winter months, when the clans retreated to their ancestral earthworks to escape the bitter storms and flooding which plagued the lowlands. The Tenniral’s wintering grounds were at Griffin Rock camp, a sheltered valley near an oxbow lake not far from the western branch of the Fallen River.

    As Jadzia came to Aldis City in her late teens or early twenties according to contemporary reports, we can place her birth at or around the turn of the fourth century, near the time of the crowning of Queen Jaellin. So, upon careful consideration, the words of Canto 1, Verse 1 can provide us with at least an approximate date and place of birth.

    Her eyes afire, her spirit wild
    The reckless child of mothers twain
    Her voice was soft, her speech was slow
    But swift with bow and sword and rein

    Canto 1, Verse 13 paints a picture of the young Jadzia which is certainly in keeping with what we know of her early days in Aldis City. According to The Collected Tales of Darcy the Roamer, “[Jadzia] spoke of her mothers often, and frequently dispensed pearls of homespun wisdom gleaned from their teachings. Those she attributed to ‘Tuya-mama,’ her human birth mother, generally related to practicality and matters of common sense, while ‘Savar-mama,’ Tuya’s vata life-mate, often dispensed advice of a loftier – or at least more esoteric – nature” (Boswell, 46).

    Life-long marriages are uncommon but not unheard of among the Rezean people, and enough supplemental evidence exists to confirm that Jadzia was indeed born into such a family. The Rezean oral tradition is strong enough that we can trace Tuya’s ancestry back to Tenniral herself from daughter to mother (see Appendix B, Lineage for details). Though some doubt this pedigree as the desire within a warrior-culture to be connected to a hero of legend, the Rezeans insist upon its accuracy. Family lines within the clans are traced through the maternal line, and for good reason… sexual pairings among the clans are particularly mercurial and known to change with the seasons. It is possible that even Tuya herself was uncertain of the identity of Jadzia’s biological father.

    Jadzia’s second mother, Savar, is a bit more difficult to pin down. We know from contemporary accounts that she was vata, and that she was adopted into the Tenniral clan from outside due to some service she rendered for them in her youth. ‘Savar’ is almost certainly a name bestowed upon her by the clan rather than her original given name. It is likely a corruption of the word tsaivar, meaning ‘pale skin,’ probably indicating that she was vata’an. We also know from tales of her later exploits that Jadzia was both fluent and literate in Aldin before she reached Aldis City, which could provide a potential point of origin for Savar… though by this point in history Aldin had already become a fairly common tongue across the continent. It was not uncommon for a few individuals among the Rezean clans to become conversant in Aldin to aid in brokering deals with merchants at the Fallen River Trading Camp.

    Aside from the details of her parentage, we can learn much about Jadzia’s childhood from this refrain. The song paints her as a quiet child, slow to speak her mind and often tongue-tied in purely social situations. Luckily for her, in the rough meritocracy of the Rezean clans this proved less of a hindrance than it might have in a more cosmopolitan upbringing. From a young age, Jadzia displayed the remarkable martial aptitudes which characterized her later in life, her archery surpassing that of even fully-grown members of the clan and her swordsmanship equaling her teacher’s by the time she was thirteen. Anecdotally, it is said that her teacher once asked her why she wished to train with two swords instead of one, and she replied simply “I have two hands.”

    All Rezeans are known to be excellent riders, of course, and for such a culture to single Jadzia out as “swift with rein” indicates an uncommon level of skill when on horseback. Taught to ride and walk at the same time, Jadzia developed the skill of directing her mount solely through the use of her legs, freeing her hands to wield her bow or swords. A prodigy in the Rezean arts of warfare, it wasn’t long before young Jadzia sought to put her talents to use.

    Hearing her restless spirit’s call
    She brought her dolls to Bakshi’s tent
    Partaking of the midnight flower
    She felt its power, her world was rent

    Canto 1, Verse 34 marks the beginning of Jadzia’s first true test, as well as the beginning of the end of her childhood. Most sources place Jadzia’s coming-of-age as late in her fourteenth year – that is to say, when she was thirteen years old. While Rezean culture allows each child to determine for themselves when to attempt the trial, it is generally agreed that Jadzia was uncommonly young even to attempt the trial, setting aside the matter of her success.

    In order to initiate the coming-of-age ceremony, an initiate must sacrifice some symbolic token of their own childhood to the clan’s shaman (while this song is the only reference to a shaman among the Tenniral named “Bakshi,” it is a relatively common Rezean name, and appears prominently among the lineages of other members of the clan). Whether Jadzia’s sacrifice actually included dolls is the subject of some debate; earlier verses in this Canto indicate that she showed little interest in “playing house” as a child and was more likely to be found brandishing wooden swords than dolls, so this line may be purely symbolic in nature.

    The rest of the verse refers to a ritual still in wide use in Rezea today, leaving little room for interpretation. The “midnight flower” is the fabled Blue Trumpet Flower, which blooms only at night, releasing noxious, hallucinogenic vapors as it does so. The witches of Rezea are known to gather the blossoms of the Blue Trumpet at twilight and make from them a dark blue paste, which is fed to adolescents during their coming-of-age rites in order to induce visions. With the images presented in this and the verses which follow, it is all too easy to imagine young Jadzia, barely more than a child, staggering from the shaman’s tent, her pupils dilated, her legs unsteady, and her lips and teeth stained a dark blue by the potent chemicals she had ingested. It must indeed have seemed as though the world itself was splitting at its seams!

    None can truly know what another experiences while under the influence of the Blue Trumpet Flower, but the following passage, reputed to be a first-hand account of such a trial, may lend a bit of insight into what young Jadzia might have seen and felt. “It is… difficult to describe. There are more colors in the world than we know, though most of them are hidden much of the time. I saw all of these colors during my test… and heard them as well. Colors can sing… and if you do not know what I mean by that, then I must pity you, for there are no other words for it. I saw many things. Some of the things that I saw were not truly there… but others were there, despite the fact that others could not see or touch them. I think I may have seen shiljiltiin [author’s note: shiljiltiin is an untranslatable concept with no direct equivalent in Aldin culture; it indicates a state between life and death, between spirit and shadow, between now and eternity, encompassing all of these concepts but beholden to none of them]. And in the distance, when all else had faded away, I heard my destiny calling to me” (Jaranthas, 153-4).

    For Jadzia, that destiny was named Iyara.

    Companion true, the storied mare
    Iyara, snared upon the plain
    First meeting’s bliss the fates destroy
    Not tears of joy, but screams of pain

    Jadzia saw many things during her adolescent trial if one takes Verses 35 through 43 at face value; everything from visions of the friends she would meet years later in Aldis City to apocalyptic revelations about her future struggles against the forces of Shadow. One wonders, if this was truly the case, why she was not better prepared to face her future… but I digress. The thread of verifiable history is once again joined in Canto 1, Verse 44 with the first meeting between Jadzia and Iyara.

    Little is known of Iyara, save that she was a young rhy-mare (barely more than a yearling at the time of this first meeting) who had strayed from Stormpoint Refuge far to the south. The recent winter rains had loosened the rocks and scrub of a small box canyon, and Iyara had become trapped within it while curiously investigating a wisp of smoke at its rear. Unable to free herself in the face of the advancing flames, she panicked and sent out a psychic scream, hoping against hope that someone would be close enough to hear her.

    Whether Jadzia heard this scream, followed the dark smoke on the horizon, or indeed was led to the site by spirits perceived with the help of the Blue Trumpet Flowers, she arrived to find Iyara in a panic, screaming and foaming, thrashing blindly against the smoldering fallen brush. Jadzia, beginning to come out of her trance, acted without hesitation, lifting the bole of a small tree enough for Iyara to escape, and burning her hands and forearms in the process.

    There is little room for interpretation in these verses; Jadzia bore those scars for the rest of her life. According to her compatriots, Jadzia “often wore gloves or gauntlets, even at inappropriate times. Of course, she rarely concerned herself with matters of propriety… but I think that in this case it was most likely to spare others a distasteful sight, and to spare herself a painful memory. She didn’t speak of Iyara often” (Boswell, 84).

    The two became fast friends in the wake of their shared experience, and most sources claim that Iyara performed the rhy-bond with Jadzia as soon as they were safely away from the fire. This would explain the admiration accorded to Jadzia among the Tenniral clan; for one so young to return from her coming-of-age successfully bonded to a rhy-horse was almost unheard of, and the clan immediately expected great things from her.

    A thousand shadowspawn she slew
    She counted coup against her foes
    Their braids hung thick about her waist
    They fell disgraced and rent their clothes

    Canto 2, Verse 7 begins with an obvious hyperbole, probably intended as such even among the relatively boastful clans of Rezea. While Jadzia almost certainly distinguished herself in combat against shadowspawn from Kern and Drunac, such threats are relatively rare in central Rezea, and it is likely that her kills numbered in the dozens at most.

    Jadzia was, however, known to be skilled at the Rezean practice of “counting coup.” In this activity, young riders would raid the camp of a rival clan for horses, food, and other supplies. Particular honor was afforded to those skilled enough to defeat their opponents without resorting to lethal force. As proof of this achievement, the victor would cut their opponent’s hair, which was usually worn long and braided, and hang it from their belt or saddle. It was said that, at the peak of her adolescent career, the braids ringed Jadzia’s belt so thickly that they resembled a skirt, and her own hair hung in a long plait down to the small of her back, having never been cut.

    It is likely that Jadzia’s early military success was due in part to her rhy-bond with Iyara, who of course was a more than capable combatant in her own right. The fact that Jadzia and Iyara could communicate telepathically gave them a large advantage over their opponents, allowing them to coordinate their actions flawlessly, and freeing Jadzia to concentrate purely on her attacks while Iyara concerned herself with defensive maneuvers and positioning.

    As nearly as can be estimated from the evidence, this halcyon period lasted somewhere between five and six years. During this time, based upon the customs of the Tenniral Clan, Jadzia would have moved out of her mothers’ yurt, either to a smaller tent of her own, or into one of the larger lodges, shared with the other young braves. As foremost among the clan’s young warriors, she would have enjoyed a certain measure of popularity within their ranks. There are some among the Tenniral to this day who claim to be descended from Jadzia, the product of a youthful indiscretion during her teenage years… yet anwar root and moon-leaf tea were both readily available to the youths of the clan in those days, and those who knew her best claim that she had borne no children prior to her arrival in Aldis City.

    “In her youth, Jadzia was not the maternal type. Pretty, yes… though she took no special care to cultivate her appearance. She would bathe, wash her hair, and launder her clothes often enough to be hygienic, but getting her to force a brush through those tangles was like pulling teeth! Still, sometimes people would take an interest, and if she was in the proper mood, and not focused on other business, and if she didn’t find you too objectionable… she wasn’t above the odd dalliance here and there” (Nocturna, 261).

    Of course, it is possible that the tragedy which followed might have caused her to cut all ties with her past, but considering the events of her later life, it seems likely that she would have confided the existence of children to her closest companions.

    That silent night the wind was still
    The river filled with crimson blood
    Two mothers’ lives washed by the rain
    Iyara’s pain gone with the flood

    Much has been said about the tragedy at the Fallen River Trading Camp, the subject of Canto 2, Verses 31-35. As entire scholarly works have been written on the minute details of the event itself and what followed after, there seems little reason to belabor those points here. It is interesting, however, to examine those events from the perspective of young Jadzia herself, a cocksure brave of eighteen or nineteen winters at that time, about to experience true loss for the first time in her life.

    Most sources – including in this case a rare statement purportedly taken from Jadzia herself – agree that Jadzia was not in Fallen River when the tragedy occurred. She could have been scouting the surrounding area for threats or gathering herbs for the clan witches, but as Iyara was not with her, it seems more likely that she was meeting with a lover (or on some other errand for which she desired privacy). This would also explain why Iyara and Jadzia had closed themselves off from each other telepathically.

    We know that Jadzia sprinted back to the camp at some point during the night… likely due to the sudden severing of her rhy-bond with Iyara. We know that she returned to the camp to find nearly a dozen members of her clan dead, including Iyara, Tuya, and Savar. In all cases their throats had been cut, and several of the bodies had been further dismembered.

    What must have passed through Jadzia’s mind upon this discovery? To see everyone with whom she had previously been close taken from her within a single night must have been devastating to the young woman. There is also the matter of her lost rhy-bond to consider, which leaves a void, a sudden absence in one’s thoughts. First-hand accounts of such trauma are often compared to losing both a loved one and a limb at the same moment. And, perhaps worst of all from her perspective, she had no idea who had done this terrible thing… and so she chose to blame herself. It is understandable that Jadzia would choose to withdraw from the company of others for a while.

    Verse 36 mentions “tear-streaked ash,” which is in keeping with the mourning customs of the Rezean tribes. Jadzia and the remaining members of Clan Tenniral would have burned the bodies of their loved ones and marked their own faces with the ashes left behind by the pyres. So long as they bore these marks, others among the clans would know that they were in mourning, and would leave them to their grief.

    Turn of seasons lost she waited
    Isolated, seeking solace
    ‘Til her reverie was broken
    Comfort spoken by the Lawless

    Much of Canto 3 concerns Jadzia’s time alone on the plains of Rezea. If we are to believe these verses are literal, then we must accept that she spent a full year suffering visions, living off of roots and berries and ritually scourging herself for imagined sins. While this seems excessive, one must consider that Jadzia had suffered a trauma few can truly comprehend, and misplaced guilt is often a symptom of those who survive such situations.

    We can say that, based upon the limited records of the time, Canto 3 Verse 7 is probably fairly accurate in regards to the timing of Jadzia’s self-imposed exile. The Fallen River Trading Camp is a seasonal settlement; the clans gather there yearly to sell their horses to foreign merchants. As both the murders of her family and her return to civilization occurred when the camp was full, it stands to reason that she must have spent the better part of a year in seclusion.

    A note on a delicate topic before we proceed. The term “Lawless” as used in this verse is a rough translation of a colloquial Rezean term for the Roamers. A more literal translation would be “those unfettered by the rule of kings.” Coming from the Rezeans, this is an appellation of honor and respect, but in translation it calls to mind the unjust stereotype of Roamers as thieves and mountebanks. One must remember in this situation that Professor Calderon was struggling to preserve not only the meaning of these verses, but the meter and rhyme scheme as well, and that this cannot have been an easy task. In other words, the professor was likely stuck for a rhyme here.

    The Collected Tales of Darcy the Roamer again provides our most direct source of information about this time period. “I was studying in Aldis City when I heard that my old caravan was visiting Fallen River. It had been a while since I had seen my family, so I made the trip north. The prairies of Rezea are beautiful… I spent a day wandering them, taking it all in, and I came across [Jadzia] sitting alone on a rise, staring at the sunset. Her face was filthy with dirt and ashes, her hair short and ragged as though she had cut it with a sword, and she had the saddest expression I’d ever seen…” (Boswell, 52).

    Darcy – via Boswell – goes on to describe a lengthy conversation between the two, in which Jadzia tearfully recounted her tragic story. Perhaps speaking of these matters aloud served to purge her spirit, or perhaps Darcy was as persuasive as his reputation suggests. Whatever the truth of the matter, Jadzia left the conversation refreshed and renewed. According to Darcy, she washed in a nearby stream (finally removing her family’s ashes from her face), clasped Darcy’s hand, and drew him into a fierce embrace. She then turned and strode purposefully toward the highlands. When he asked where she was going, she simply replied “to find a new horse.”

    So Jadzia for love and honor
    Rode off upon her fiery roan
    From prairie’s soft tranquility
    To Aldis City’s gleaming stone

    Canto 3, Verse 50 ends the first volume of the Song of Jadzia with our heroine leaving behind the plains of Rezea which are all she has ever known and making her way toward the gleaming spires of Aldis City. In the wake of her enlightening conversation with Darcy, Jadzia had little trouble in acquiring another mount; a spirited roan stallion she named Salkhi (the Rezean word for “wind”). She returned to the Tenniral clan as they left Fallen River and rode with them for some time. She helped them in confrontations against shadowspawn and rival clans alike, though she seemed to have lost some of her taste for raiding and counting coup. And through it all, she never stopped hunting for those who had killed her loved ones.

    The literacy she had learned from Savar served her well for the next year or so, as she and Darcy corresponded frequently during this period. The tone of these missives is warm and cordial, but reveals a growing dissatisfaction with life on Jadzia’s part; a restive urge that she seemed unable to satisfy. Small wonder, then, that she leaped at the chance to join her friend in Aldis City when he requested her help with a business venture.

    So ends the account of the early life of Jadzia of Clan Tenniral. The rest of her story is doubtless more familiar to most of us, though perhaps those reading this first volume will gain a new appreciation for the mind behind the actions, for the events which shaped the woman she would become.
    --

    In a week we will have Jana and one other, who depends on which backgrounds are in. In the meantime comments and questions welcome.
    Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 01-27-2018, 01:27 PM.
    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
    "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

      Last weekend we had session one and it was marvelous. Most of it was scenes of the PCs getting to know one another. Some full group and some split up, then a nice combat. The journals will be up in a week on Friday; I currently have three and hope for one more t least.

      In the meantime, I owe you two more backgrounds. Today we will meet our two Vata’Sha. Jana and Tanith both have connections to the dark realm of Kern, but the two women have lead very different lives before intersecting. One struggled to cope with the horrors she was forced to endure, while the other was raised with a silver spoon in her mouth. Let’s take a glance at their lives before they intersect.

      Jana Totten: Kernish Vata’Sha Warrior

      Excerpts from the life of Jana Totten

      Dear Grandmother Sasha,

      It’s a girl. I am delighted to tell you that we have a baby girl, and she is like her mother. Dark skin and white hair with those beautiful eyes. Just like her mother. We will call her Jana, after my wife’s grandmother. We figured it was appropriate, since she takes after her mother so closely. Only time will tell what great things she will do in service to our Lord.

      Keeping you always in our thoughts,

      Darek


      To ________________

      Your child will be trained by Lord Jarek’s order in the arcane arts, such as they are able. Other training will be provided depending on our needs and your child’s capabilities.

      In Service,

      Captain Heinrich Weiss


      To _______________

      Your child is proficient at the healing arts and will be trained in this area. They are also deemed appropriate to be trained as a warrior for the Kingdom.

      In Service,

      Captain Heinrich Weiss


      Dear Grandmother Sasha,

      Our dear Jana has been accepted into training as a warrior for our Kingdom. They have deemed that she is not capable of learning much in the way of arcana past basic healing. We are disappointed as we know you are, but we are confident that Jana will prove her worth to us and her Lord. She practices daily and just today beat the best boy that they had to pit against her. The other child left the ring bleeding and in tears. We are so proud.

      Keeping you always in our thoughts,

      Darek


      Dear Anna,
      Jana is being trained as a warrior, but they are also teaching her how to control her arcana. She is specifically being trained in healing, like myself. Darek is very excited at how well she is doing at the martial training. I worry sometimes that her father’s enthusiasm will overpower her young mind, but she likes to hear my stories and, so I will continue to tell them. Time will tell if I am able to sway her more to our family’s way of thinking. I will send what news that I can as the opportunity arises.

      Take care always,

      Kayla


      To _______________
      Your child has passed the final test and will be assigned to a unit before the month is out.

      In Service,

      Captain Heinrich Weiss


      Dear Aunt Anna,

      I just wanted to let you know that my mother has died. They decided that what she was attempting to teach me was seditious and they deemed it worthy of execution. I can only be glad that they did not take her away to the dungeons and to their attentions. Father was upset at finding out that mother was trying to teach me things that the Lord Jarek would not agree with and approved their just punishment.

      I know that my words do not do the situation justice. Perhaps I can better tell the story when we get together next month for father’s name day. We are still in the same place as we were last time. Father’s work has kept him here for now. I believe that we will be here for a while yet.

      Yours,

      Jana


      Dear Mother,

      I just had to send the most horrible letter to Aunt Anna. I had to tell her that I thought that your death was justified and that father was in the right to be upset by your actions. I felt sick just writing it, but I knew that they would expect me to write to her and so I did. I only hope that I can tell her in person what I could not put on paper. I am happy that they decided to just kill you. The alternative is horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Even Erich who likes to see if he can make me bleed every time my unit practices. I will keep your teachings in my heart, but never let them be seen. It is too dangerous otherwise. I hope that you are at peace.

      Love always,

      Jana

      Ps. I will burn this as soon as I am done writing it in the hopes it will find you in the hereafter.


      Dear Mother,
      We have moved once again. Father’s “work” as an informant has never made him many friends, and this time has been no exception. He managed to anger most of the people living near us so we had to move again. It was getting dangerous. There is only so much that people will take before they will risk angering the secret police’s wrath. Sometimes I try and warn people that father is informing on before the police can arrive. I know that it is dangerous to do, but I can’t just let them get punished or taken away for perceived crimes. It is hard trying to live up to the morals that you taught me when I’m living alone with father. He is not a good man. And sometimes I am afraid that I will become like him if I’m not careful. I will do my best though to live up to your ideals.
      Love always,

      Jana


      To ____________

      Congratulations, your meritorious service has been noted and you have been chosen to be a member of the Knights of the Skull. You will report to duty starting the first day of next week.

      In Service,

      Captain Heinrich Weiss


      Dear Mother,

      I have been made a Skull Knight. I know that it is an honor to be chosen. They are the elite of the guard. Father is very happy for me. I know that you would not be of the same mind as father is though. I cannot show hesitation, nor can I deny the appointment. It is an honor to be chosen and I must appear to be a good citizen. I am afraid.

      Love always,

      Jana


      Dear Mother,

      I don’t even know where to begin. Soldiers from Aldis came through a shadowgate and invaded the Lich King’s fortress. He is dead. The Lich King is dead. In all of the confusion there were a lot of people trying to get away from Kern. I know I heard a couple of groups talking about escaping in all of the chaos. I chose to look the other way and let them go. Others were not so lucky and caught the attention of the guards. They ran and tried to hide in buildings in the city of Sarn. I couldn’t do much besides provide a quick death in most cases. There was one instance where I was sent to investigate a building by myself. I broke open the door and burst into the house. I saw people hiding behind furniture. A shoe here, an elbow there. They were doing their best, but they didn’t have much time to hide. I looked around the room and then loudly declared that the house was empty. I pulled the door closed behind me as much as I could without looking suspicious. If those people stayed silent then I believed that they may have been able to get away after we passed by. I never heard anything from behind us. No calls of discovery or sounds of fighting. I also saw the leader of the resistance once on the streets when I was alone. When he spotted me he drew his sword and started coming towards me. I quickly took off my helmet and put up my hands. I told him as quickly as I could which areas of the city had already been searched so he could find a safe way out. My compatriots and I were on foot rather than on our wyverns, so we didn’t have a city-wide view that night. I hoped that my words were of use to him. He just nodded his head and started back the way he came. Presumably to lead others out of the city. I wanted to go with him more than anything, but I have family that would be killed if I fled. I figured the best I could do was do the little things that prevented my fellow Knights from finding the innocents trying to get away.

      Also a surprise to me was catching a glimpse of my partner Marcus doing the same things that I had done. I saw him overlook a couple that were hiding with their child behind some rubble. I didn’t let him know that he’d been seen. I was afraid that he’d kill me before I could inform on him. There is hope in this place yet.

      Love always,

      Jana


      Dear Grandmother Sasha,

      My daughter has been promoted into the Skull Knights. I am so proud of her. She has performed her job admirably in such troubled times. The death of our Lord Jarek was a shock to us all, but Jana performed her duties well in spite of the adversity. I am told that she prevented many rebels from leaving the city after the Aldins attacked us. I am so happy that my traitorous wife’s stories did not sway my daughters heart.

      Keeping you always in our thoughts,

      Darek


      To ____________

      Your loyal service has been noted and you have been promoted to border patrol. We trust that you will do your duty and keep Kern safe.

      In Service,

      Captain Johan Krueger


      Dear Mother,

      I have been promoted to border patrol. It is a high honor that they put so much trust in me not to take advantage of my relative freedom. I plan on doing just that, but they will be none the wiser. I plan on testing Marcus and seeing how far he might be willing to go to help the people of Kern, or if he’d be an asset in helping me find a way out of Kern myself. Also, I have stopped getting letters from Aunt Anna and father is unusually smug. I believe that she is dead. There is nothing holding me here anymore. If I can get away, I will. I cannot keep doing this.

      Love always,

      Jana


      Dear Mother,

      Marcus and I were called in to help some of our fellow Knights. They had found a group of people trying to escape through the mountains, but the group had a couple of adepts with them that were well trained. There were elderly and children with them and there was nothing that I could do to stop what was happening. I had been called in to kill the rebels and that is what I did. In the end four Knights against the rebels, no matter how large a group they were or how skilled, was more than a match. They tried to run, but we cut them down in their tracks. The last person that was trying to get away was a young girl. She couldn’t have been older than ten or twelve years old. I spotted her and gave chase. I wanted to let her go, but I was being watched by at least two loyal Knights. I did what I had to do. I whispered that I was sorry to the girl and then ran her through with my sword. I do not know if she heard me. I don’t know if the gods heard me, but I hope they did.

      The other two Knights left us to pile up the bodies and burn them while they searched the hills for anyone that we might have missed. I couldn’t help it. When I picked up the little girl that I’d slaughtered it was all I could do to put her on the pile before I became sick. I was terrified at what that would tell Marcus, but all he did was put his hand on my shoulder and tell me that he understood and that it would be okay. I never felt such relief in my life and I broke down in tears. I managed to compose myself before the other two Knights got back. They had not found anyone else. I was relieved. After all was said and done we headed back to the barracks to relate our tale to our superiors. Seeing the satisfaction on my superior’s face made it easy to keep a blank look on my face instead of breaking down again. Anger can sometimes bring great clarity to one’s thoughts.

      Love always,

      Jana


      To _____________

      A commendation has been added to your record for your deeds this day. Lady Talis was pleased with how the situation was resolved and commends your good work. This shall be remembered.

      In Service,

      Captain Johan Krueger


      Dear Mother,
      Marcus introduced me to a man named Seigurd who has connections in Aldis. Apparently he knows a man named Richter who routinely helps people get out of Kern. This could be our way out!

      Love always,

      Jana


      Dear Grandmother Sasha,

      My daughter has once again made me proud. She was given a commendation for service to the Kingdom. She says that it was just a group of rebels trying to escape, but I believe that she is just being modest. Her superiors are taking notice of her good works and I couldn’t be prouder.

      Keeping you always in our thoughts,

      Darek


      Dear Mother,

      A secret lab was discovered in the Ice Binder mountains to the southwest of us. I was dispatched with Marcus and several other Knights to search the premises and confiscate any useful materials that could be found. It seemed to be a pretty extensive place, well hidden and cleverly trapped. One of the Knights fell to a trap that was laid at the front door. Whoever built this place did not want unwanted guests to enter their lab. It seemed that most of the research was on ice and snow, which explained why they would set up a lab in these mountains. Being on our borders is not the safest place for outsiders, or anyone for that matter, to be. So, we confiscated some of the research and materials and destroyed the rest. One of the other Knights was an adept who was skilled with fire. He burned the place to the ground.

      The interesting thing was we found no sign of the owner of the lab. We did not know who they were, but by their materials and other objects that has been lying around we assumed that they were from Aldis. It appeared as if they’d been gone for a while at least so we didn’t know when they’d be back. Marcus and I offered to come back by the remains of the lab to see if anyone returned at a later date. Our initiative was remarked upon.

      Love always,

      Jana


      Supplies and further instructions will be hidden at the burned-out lab. Be there by sundown.
      -S


      Dear Mother,

      My last assignment in Kern did not go as planned. Well, at least as they planned it. The day that I was supposed to get out with Marcus I was unexpectedly assigned to guard an adept named Melisandre. Apparently she is someone fairly high up. I was not told much, just that I needed to keep her safe. She was going to be travelling in a pretty dangerous place and needed a bodyguard. Unfortunately for her the time that I needed to leave so I could get out undetected was upon us, and suddenly we were attacked by rebels. I didn’t have much time, so I just stood back and told the attacking men that they could have her. If looks could kill, I’m fairly certain that I’d be dead right now.

      Melisandre was not happy at all. I did not stick around to see what happened. I needed to leave. Time was of the essence, as it is now.

      Love always,

      Jana


      Dear Mother,

      Things did not go as planned. Marcus was supposed to come with me to Aldis, but he elected to stay behind and cover my trail. I tried arguing with him, but he is a stubborn man and would not listen to me. He said that it would be worth it as long as he knew that I was safe. He then kissed me and told me that he was happy to have known me. I was surprised at first and couldn’t say anything for a moment, but the moment passed and I kissed him in return. I pray to the gods that I will see him again.

      Love always,

      Jana


      Dear Mother,

      I met the owner of the lab that I helped to destroy. Her name is Maria. She is in fact an adept from Aldis that is studying ice and snow magics. I do not know much about her yet, but I have offered to travel with her to Aldis regardless. I found the pack that was left for me in the ruins of the lab, but I also found its former owner kneeling on the ground sobbing into her hands. I have the name of someone to look for in Aldis, but no direct experience on how to get there. Maria on the other hand knows the way so we agreed to travel together. I was a little worried that she might be a member of the Crimson Guard in disguise and have kept vigilant, but I’m not so sure that she is one of them. Her feelings have been rather easy to read and she is very upset over the loss of the lab. It was suspicious that she just happened to be there on the day that I finally managed to escape, so I will be watchful, but I think she is being honest with me.

      I will admit that I am looking forward to seeing Aldis. The way that Maria describes it makes it seem like a wonderful place. I only wish that Marcus were here too. I am worried for him, but he said that he’d follow when he could. I hope to see him soon.

      Love always,

      Jana

      --

      Tanith Nocturna: Aldean Vata’Sha Adept


      Final Assessment: Tanith Nocturna

      By: Morgan Adair, Arcana Chair, Royal Academy

      Race: Vata’Sha Gender (if any): Female

      Academic Focuses: Interpersonal Communication and Rhetoric, Arcana

      Tanith Nocturna is one of the brightest students to come through the system. The daughter of Richter and Marianna Nocturna, she is from a Kernish family. She is not suspected of spying or shadow related activity.

      Tanith has been a bright student who strived to learn all she could. Charismatic and charming, she dominated her social clique and made numerous friends. She played an important role in student life and was often very busy keeping her obligations. She attended all dances and similar events, but did not participate in any sport.

      Tanith excelled in most subjects in class. She applied herself more to the humanities than sciences, showing an excellent grasp of history and geography. There was a perhaps slightly concerning fascination with Kern; she devoured every bit of information she could find, and went hunting quite a bit in the stacks even putting in a few requests for restricted material which were not filled. She also showed a fascination for Lar’tya, and familiarized herself more with those lands than Rezea or Jarzon.

      Tanith’s main focuses have been communication and arcana. She is a very talented healer, she shows disinterest in more conflict oriented magic. She has an admirable focus on helping others, but Healing is a dangerous path, and her own pride could be her downfall. Her skill at speech and rhetoric are impressive; she is less a pubic speaker than very convincing one on one. She also listens well to what her counterpart is saying, which is at least as important as being convincing herself. Tanith has taken special classes in formal treaties and agreements, in hopes of engaging in mediation and diplomacy.

      Strengths: As outlined, Tanith has a powerful personality. She can be very charming, occasionally manipulative. She is empathic and a good listener. She is brave, headstrong, and an excellent healer. Tanith has the potential to be an excellent noble herself and a face and voice for Aldis. Her wish to preserve life is also quite admirable.

      Weaknesses: Tanith is proud and confident. She tried to access forbidden books without consulting anyone, saying she could handle it when caught. She bears watching to make sure her boldness does not become an issue. Some dangerous enemies of the people of Aldea started that way, certainly more than one sorcerer king.

      In conclusion, Tanith is likely a future leader of Aldis, a rising star. She has all the talents needed to inspire the people, and an excellent grasp of healing magic. She could be part of Aldis’s Finest or a Noble easily, like her father. She just has to not give into her pride. We are proud to have had her as a student.

      --

      As I said at the top, next week we start posting the campaign proper with Journals. If we wind up getting backgrounds for Darcy and/or Maria, they will be up in two weeks; the last day to get a bonus for them is the beginning of session two.

      Will see you then, if not before. As always, Comments and Questions are Welcome
      Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
      "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

        Very inspiring start. I'll see if I can do something similar for my character.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

          I haven't read all of the backgrounds yet, but this looks promising!

          It has a very different take and feel than my group (who are much more interested in the rhydan/nature part of the world), so it's fun to see how others are playing.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

            Glad you both are aboard and enjoying. We thrive on feedback so appreciate your posts. Hope you enjoy the ride, game journals start going up in less than a week.
            Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
            "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

              Okay enough teasing, now it is time to start the campaign.

              Now we have four journals. They recount essentially the same story, though some cover things others did not. Some of you may enjoy reading all the journals we offer each fortnight, and that is great! Others might see that many perspectives as a bit much. For them I recommend you find a couple perspectives this time you like to stick with. Whatever reading would make you happy. They are up alphabetically.

              As an aside, Tanith is unaware of the fact Ash is a Laevvel as much as anyone else is. Given her journal is “translated” from a language without gender pronouns to one with them, the decision was made to gender them correctly. Hopefully it will not be jarring. Also when speaking her native language and to animals, Jadzia is far more eloquent; in game she was quite terse. Also, she named all the horses, rather than asking if they had names, because that is how she rolls.

              So here we go, getting to know you session, with a combat.

              Session I

              The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship Part I

              Ashlin’s Reports

              Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent Gaeleth 29th

              And the gang is all together! Contact went well, with an interesting wrinkle which will become evident later. No, don’t frown - you know how I love my suspense. Treat it like one of those trashy romance novels you like. What fun would it be if you knew Carlotta was secretly a Kernish escapee from page 1?

              Anyway, after greetings were exchanged and the business of our, well, business explained, we split off for the night, with Tanith taking the ladies in, seeing as they had no place else to stay, and promising to take them to her favorite salon the next day, leaving me and Darcy to bond without the frippery. To be fair, I am certain we would have been welcome, had we asked. After all, they didn’t kick us out of the hot spring when we mysteriously wound up there. Tanith did put on more clothes however, alas and alack.

              Tomorrow we go meet with our first client, but for now, my newest boon companions:

              Tanith: Our beautiful vata'sha boss, for all she says she’s not. At least for now, since she’s organized all this, and has the contacts. I presume she just meant she’s not going to dictate our courses of action, which suits me fine. Stop laughing, it’s unbecoming of a woman of your station. Tanith is charming and clever, with the most striking eyes. The kind one might write poetry about. However, everyone knows I can’t string three words together without seeming the country bumpkin, so I shall have to leave that to Darcy. He seems the type. I do almost imagine they might glow in the dark. I shall have to ask one of the ladies to confirm for now - she is definitely caria, from the look of things.

              She spent most of the time observing. She has visions on occasion, I don’t know if you knew, and had one at dinner. Of Darcy and Callisto (one of the Roamer’s best living fighters, missing for some years after a voyage to the Pirate Islands) fighting back to back, Spiritdancing in an unfamiliar ruin, with Jana stemming the tide as well. Who knows where the rest of us were. I must ask Tanith how likely her visions are to come to pass, and whether she’s ever worked to thwart them.

              Darcy: My night person Roamer friend, as dashing as usual. He is a large presence, physically and socially - ideal to skulk behind. His singing is absolutely divine. Braniel himself surely blessed his voice. I’m fairly certain he caused a traffic jam in the corridor at the hot springs.

              We took the ‘bonding’ time as an opportunity to spar a little, as well as to wander the city some. I believe Jadzia turned green with envy as we related our exploits. Note to self: ask her to spar. I do enjoy getting my ass handed to me by beautiful women, as you well know. Darcy himself is a sharp fellow. He was able to determine I used knives just from my hand to hand moves. He is an excellent student of the martial arts, apparently encouraged by his teacher to join in out venture to ‘learn to extend a hand in friendship before raising it in combat’.

              Jadzia: A friend of Darcy’s. A good friend, I might say, based on his greeting of her, but as he offered ground-to-horseback hugs even to the strangers in our party, perhaps not. He does seem to know something secret in her past, a tragedy if I don’t miss my mark. Her answer to Tanith’s question about romantic connections was particularly bleak, with more weight behind its implication of aloneness than mere bachelorhood.

              She is an odd bird, a Rezean human woman with short hair but clear evidence of considerable martial skill with her dual swords and bow. She rides without a bit and bridle, which is only to be expected. Clearly fearless, but she was of decidedly mixed feelings about the whole spa experience. Apparently the little doctor fishes were a bit much. She did look much more relaxed though, and the burgundy nail polish suited her. She is very straightforward, an open book I daresay. Something to keep an eye on.

              Plus, she thinks I have a pretty face. To be fair, she reacted the same way when any of us were pointed out to be fairly attractive - a penetrating, considering look, and then a slow nod as if she had not considered it before, but agreed. It is a start, however.

              Jana: Our other warrior, vata'sha, more defensively oriented. She is quite the mystery, a contact of Tanith’s in some unspecified context. She was unfamiliar with Spiritdancing, and with high class silverware usage, though not knowing that tedious rigamarole is not precisely the height of mystery. She shied away from Darcy, though again, a large, unknown person in absolutely garish colors rushing up for a hug before being introduced is somewhat disconcerting. Especially when he is about as tall as you on your horse. I have a guess as to her origin, however, especially considering her companion.

              Maria: At last, the surprise! As it turns out, we will not be 5, but 6. Jana showed up with a friend, a water shaping human adept from up north. Where Jana is quiet, Maria loves to talk. Another good distraction to keep in mind. Her water shaping skills are fantastic as well - you should find an adept to make a hot spring whirlpool for you. It’ll do wonders for that pulled muscle in your upper thigh.

              She did give me the opportunity to show off my skills when she was going around asking people about their hobbies. You know I couldn’t resist an opening like that. I was going to have to give her little doodad back at some point anyway. Unfortunately, I think she thinks I’m some sort of itchy-fingered ne’er-do-well - stop laughing! - but she didn’t seem too inclined to judge too harshly at least.

              Location: The place Tanith’s got for us is nice, on a street of shops in the Middle Ward. Ironically, across the street is out counterpart, the famous war strategist Trebizond with his seafolks bodyguard Laodice. Right next door is Pisha’s Bakery, with the best fruitbread in town. Pisha is an odd one, a Lar’tyan who is quite clearly too high a caste to be running a bakery in the Middle Ward of Aldis City. I will definitely need to put a lot of fruit bread on the expenses account to figure out what’s up there.

              As I said earlier, tomorrow we start on our first case, a dispute in a nearby trading town between two major families. Both will have members in town for the next little bit, so we’ll have some time to try and suss things out. I have a plan that I’ll wait until we talk to our contact, Gerard Martaan, to run by Tanith, but my thought is to hang back while they make contact and subtly ‘favor’ one. Then I can get in good with the other family, to try and weasel out some information that way.

              [Cloven hoof mark]


              Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent Gaeleth 30th

              Action report: Minor change of plans. Martaan is dead, as I’m sure you’ve heard from the Guard reports. Attacks by darkfiends go up the chain fast. It is unfortunate we didn’t get there a little earlier. The poor fellow put up a fight, judging by the dent in the bug-like fiend’s head. However, he was quite dead by the time we arrived, and the darkfiend was tearing into his files. I haven’t had a chance to try and put them back together - they look pretty torn up - but I’ll give it my best shot.

              The fight was enlightening. First things first, most importantly, I’m sure you’ll agree - Tanith’s eyes do, in fact, glow in the dark. I’d like to say that distracted me, or that I was maintaining my cover of ‘just another pretty face’ when I whiffed my throws against the things but... I would have redeemed myself with a second throw, I’m sure, but between the rest of my new friends, it was out like a light before I could blink.

              I had distinguished myself earlier, letting Jana and myself in the back once we noticed Martaan’s door was off its hinges. The warrior can move quietly when wants. And both take and deal a hit too. As far as other folks’ capabilities - Maria also has cold shaping, judging by sudden chill and frostbit carapace, Darcy’s fists might as well be knives, but harder, and Jadzia could hit a fly’s wing in a hurricane. Tanith gave our melee combatants a burst of speed as well, judging by the way they collapsed after the fight.

              That left Jadzia and I to search afterwards - Maria stood guard over her friend, and Darcy as well, and Tanith had some healing to do. Jadzia is no slouch at that either. There sadly wasn’t a whole lot to find, except for the aforementioned shredded files. The others did get something of a lead, however, in the form of one Pima, come wandering in through the front door.

              She was involved in this whole situation, as it turns out. Her father, Xavian, is the patriarch of one of the feuding merchant families. And here she came, wandering in with an assassin’s dagger tucked into her belt. According to her, it was for intimidation purposes only, and she did seem legitimately surprised that Martaan was dead, at least, but it was certainly suspicious.

              It refined my plan though, and I believe I have tentative approval from the rest. Tanith will play up her suspicions in public, not showing bias but walking that line in that way that only our mysterious mistress could. Jadzia doesn’t trust her in the slightest - ‘I didn’t come here ot kill him but...’ is pretty damning to walk in on - so she won’t have to dissemble at all, the adorable dear. Pima never got a good look at me, so a but of a disguise and I should be able to work my way into her and her family’s good graces. The family with daughters with assassin’s knives is probably the more interesting one, at least...

              Wish us luck!

              [Cloven hoof mark]



              Jadzia’s Horse Sense

              (Whispered in Rezean in the Nocturna Estate stables)

              “Whoa there, Salkhi. Rest easy, swift one. I know you don’t like this; you want to run free and feel the wind in your mane. I feel the same way… people such as we were not meant for pens and stables. But in this strange stone city we cannot always do as we please. If I let you wander free, one of these Aldins would claim you for their own, and set you to work on some farm or other.

              “A joke, dear one! You know that I would seek you out wherever you roamed, and take you back from any who would attempt to separate us. You are my only friend in this strange place.

              “Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. Darcy is here. He is a great friend of mine. I have spoken to you of him before, have I not? He saved my life a year ago, back on the plains of Rezea. He saved my life by making me laugh. I did not believe such a thing was possible before I met him; I had always placed my faith in strength of arms and valiant deeds. And yet he did with a clever turn of phrase what all the braves of Clan Tenniral could not… he made me see that there is beauty yet in life, even despite my losses. For that, I can never truly repay him.

              “Of course, you like him because he gave you an apple. I understand. You are not used to such sweets, and it was a kind gesture from a kind man. But he is also a skilled warrior. What he did to that darkfiend earlier today… well, it is nice to know that his training as a Spirit Dancer has progressed well since we last met. And I had forgotten how large he is! There are not many who could pluck me from your back like a child from a pony… and there are even fewer who could expect to do so without earning a blackened eye for their presumption.

              “And then there was the other man who gave you apples. Ashlin. He is a puzzle to me. Small and light enough that you did not mind bearing both of us down the street at the same time. And when we noticed that the house’s door had been forced… he simply vanished. I did not see him go, and did not see him again until he joined the battle within. He was the one who thought to light a lamp so that more of us could engage the enemy, which showed both ingenuity and a willingness to put the needs of others before his own glory. And yet there is something about him that I cannot understand, and such a man is difficult to trust. Still, I believe he has a good heart… for now.

              “I believe the same could be said about our hostess, Tanith Nocturna. Her clan owns this place, where you are given oats to eat instead of cropping the scant grass that grows in this city. When she learned that we had nowhere to stay in Aldis, she offered up a place within her own home… and not just for us, Salkhi, but for two others as well. A student of magic, she has chosen to learn spells which help others rather than herself… healing magics and abilities which allow her to lend her strength to others. She used both without hesitation in the fight today, though most of us could barely be considered acquaintances. Perhaps it is this selfless impulse within her which compels her to mediate the troubles of others. It may well be this same drive that caused her to insist that the women among our number join her at the spa yesterday… though I believe that gesture was kindly meant, so I will not hold it against her.

              “I find her intriguing for… other reasons as well, of course. Her vision at dinner last night was illuminating. If she often receives such guidance from the spirit world, then perhaps she might be able to assist me in my own quest for justice. I have been seeking some sign of the monsters who attacked Clan Tenniral for two years with nothing to show for my efforts. I came to Aldis City seeking a fresh start, but perhaps I might find the answer to my prayers here.

              “Alright, yes! There is yet another reason my thoughts linger on our hostess. I did my best to show that I am willing to join in this group’s activities at the spa yesterday… though I drew the line at the tiny carnivorous fish. The fish shall devour no part of my body unless I die unexpectedly at sea. But in any case, at one point it was asked if we would care to enjoy the spa nude or with sparse coverings. I grew up in a world without many walls, and lost all false modesty years ago. I am not ashamed of my body… though in this company of beauties I must seem a mule among the fillies. The others were encouraged by my example, and we remained naked until the men joined us later in the afternoon, at which point the others covered up (I did not). Tanith is… a remarkably attractive woman, tall even for a vata’sha, with luminous golden eyes and a smile that promises many secrets. It has been almost two years since I have shared a bedroll with another living person, and perhaps it is time that changed as well.

              “Tanith is not the only vata’sha in our company of course, and the young woman who calls herself Jana is if anything even more interesting. You remember her, Salkhi… she was the lady riding Saikhan the other day when we first arrived in the city. She is like Tanith in some ways, but unlike in many more. They both have skin like the sky on a clear night, but where Tanith’s hair shines golden about her shoulders like the sun, Jana’s tresses flow down her back like a river of moonlight. At the spa, I saw that she was slender but well-muscled, her limbs displaying uncommon strength… I have no doubt that she could lift me above her head if she so chose. Perhaps I should test that assumption…

              “Listen to me, mooning like a love-struck girl. It truly has been too long. All that I meant to say is that I like Jana because she is like me in some ways. She listens more than she speaks, for one thing. I still know little about her… not even what brought her to Aldis in the first place before Tanith invited her to join her company. There is also a sadness in her recent past; I can see it in her eyes. She carries a sword and shield, and from her bearing I see that she is used to protecting others. I would guess that she has lost people, and is doing what she can to ensure that it does not happen again. If this is true, then she could be a kindred spirit of sorts.

              “Finally, there is Maria Highmore. I didn’t think much of her at first; the first time I saw her she was having trouble keeping Aztai in line… yes, even so gentle a mare as that. Plus… she seems incapable of silence. Every moment of every day must be filled with chatter. Being in her company is exhausting. But for all of that, I believe she means well. She seems to have found herself in this situation mostly by accident; she was traveling with Jana and knew nothing of Tanith or her business prior to a few days ago. And yet she has been as enthusiastic about Tanith’s endeavor as any of us, and when the creature attacked us this morning her magic more than proved her worth.

              “She has some skill with elemental magics; what the adepts call ‘shaping.’ I confess that I had dismissed her abilities as mere tricks with no practical applications after her display at the spa yesterday. Moving heated water around a large pool to make it bubble? It felt nice against the skin, certainly… but it seems a wasteful use of such a talent. However, I have no complaints about her use of her powers when the darkfiend threatened us… she impaled it upon wickedly sharp spears of ice.

              “In fact, most of this strange group seems more than capable in combat. Even Tanith, whose arcane skills are not suited to direct confrontation, used her abilities to enhance the combat skills of others. Together we proved more than a match for the demon. Though I had a second arrow nocked and ready, the beast fell before I had cause to let it fly.

              “I regret only that we arrived too late to save Martaan. He was the man Tanith and the others were meant to assist in negotiating a peace between two rival clans. As someone must have summoned the darkfiend, it seems that there is at least one person who does not wish this peace to come about. The most likely suspect is one Pima, who arrived at the scene in the aftermath of the battle bearing a wicked-looking assassin’s dagger. When Darcy questioned her about this, she said that she ‘didn’t come here to kill Martaan, but…’

              “As Tuya-mama often used to say, ‘anything found in front of the “but” in a sentence carries the same value as anything found behind the “butt” of a horse.’ How would she have finished that sentence if she had not thought better of it, I wonder? ‘But I was prepared to do so if necessary?’ ‘But I thought my darkfiend would do it for me?’ ‘But I wanted to search through his papers to see if he favored my rivals in the negotiations?’ It appeared as if someone had ransacked the poor man’s house, after all…

              “Bah, this is meaningless speculation. We have no way of knowing what happened until we have more information. I am not smart enough to identify the guilty party by myself, but the others are, and I trust them. Or at least, I trust Darcy, and he seems to trust the rest of them. So I will wait until they come to a decision, and then see that justice is done. On my honor as a warrior, I will see it done.

              “For tonight… rest easy, dear one. You have food and water here, and this stable should be safe and warm enough for your comfort in this strange cold city. Dream now… dream of running free over the plains, and of the swift end our enemies shall meet upon the field of battle. For my part, I will return to the room Tanith has provided, and I intend to dream of nothing more complicated than the beauty of the night sky.

              “Unless that beauty should be joined by a hint of sunlight. Or moonlight. Or both.”


              Jana’s Letters

              Dear Mother,

              The past couple of days have certainly been interesting. Maria and I made it to Aldis and into the city. I cannot describe the city well enough to do it justice. It is so clean. There are whitewashed walls, and flowers in pots decorating windows. The streets are clean and paved. There is no filth or offal running in the gutters. And there are no gibbets. There is no evidence that there have ever been gibbets in this city. The people are much the same as the city. They have been welcoming, and they are dressed in well mended, clean clothes. I felt very much out of place riding in on my horse wearing the only clothes I could get out of Kern. Seigurd managed to supply me with leather armor to wear so I would not be recognized as a Skull Knight leaving Kern. There was not room in the pack for a change of clothes though, so I was wearing what I had. Maria was in much the same situation that I was. All of her belongings had been burned with her lab, so she only had one set of clothes to wear as well. We made due with what we had though, and that is as much as anyone could have asked of us.

              As we were riding through the city Maria’s horse started to rear up and I was afraid that my new friend would fall. Luckily for her another woman riding by reached out and grabbed the reins of Maria’s horse and calmed it down, whispering softly to it in Rezean. We thanked the young woman and asked her if she knew where Tanith’s house was. I had gotten just an address from Seigurd, nothing else. The other woman introduced herself as Jadzia and said that she was looking for the same address, though the person she was searching for was named Darcy. We decided to travel together the rest of the way and found a passerby on the street that could give us directions. I didn’t think to ask someone for help. I was going to search until I found the street, but Maria, as is her wont, was very friendly with others and had no problems asking for assistance. In Kern most people look out for themselves and don’t help others. It was a surprise to see someone helping us and asking for nothing in return.

              We managed to find the building that we were looking for. It turned out that it was not Tanith’s home, it was her place of business, and there were others there with her. I introduced myself just as Jana to Tanith and just said that Richter had sent me to her. She said that she’d been expecting me, though Maria was a surprise. I was a little worried at first that Tanith would be angry that I had brought an extra person with me, but she took it in stride and there were introductions all around.

              Tanith herself, as I knew, is vata’sha. She is a beautiful, sophisticated woman and was very well dressed. She has short almost golden hair and brilliant amber eyes. The combination was rather striking. She reminds me of someone, but I can’t place it just now. She is also rather tall, even for vata’sha. She was very welcoming to all of us and shared something called fruit bread with us. It was good. I had never had bread with fruit in it. It is rare that I have had such soft bread in any case. But Tanith seems like a very nice woman. She welcomed us into her shop and shared her food. She even offered to house those of us that did not have a place to stay, which consisted of myself, Jadzia and Maria. The others it seems have their own places of residence in the city. I was for a moment speechless. Here there was a perfect stranger offering to share her home and her food with me just because I had been sent by her father. I of course thanked her for the hospitality and accepted the offer. Maria and Jadzia did the same.

              It seems that Tanith holds employment as a mediator of sorts. She spoke of a job that she had coming up the day after tomorrow and explained a bit of what she does. I believe that she was hoping to hire me and Jadzia as bodyguards. She said that she sometimes travels and from my experience it would be a good idea of have a fighter with you if you are not so inclined yourself on such travels. I was trained to be a bodyguard so I have no problems protecting Tanith and her group of mediators. I will likely enjoy protecting her more than I did most of my past assignments. They were not good people.

              The others that I was introduced to were a young man named Ashlin, and a night person named Darcy. Presumably this was the individual that Jadzia was looking for. Ashlin was friendly, easy-going and smiled quite a bit. His smile even seemed to reach his striking eyes. I think they were brown. He even went next door to the bakery to get more fruit bread to share with all of us. He seems to be a genuinely nice person, though I could tell that he was also paying close attention to those of us that just arrived. He seemed familiar with Darcy, and was sitting comfortably in Tanith’s shop, so it is obvious that they know each other. His movements were controlled and graceful so I have no doubt that he has some martial training. Given his build I would say that short swords or knives would be his preferred weapons. He had no visible weapons on him, so I assume that he was carrying them concealed. It only makes sense.

              Darcy was not what I was expecting. He is a Roamer, night person and dresses in vibrant colors. Some of which I’ve never seen before. He is also very friendly, and quite talkative. He seemed eager to meet everyone and even attempted to give everyone a hug. Jadzia accepted the affection with familiarity and a smile on her face. She was clearly used to his friendly displays. He started coming towards me and I couldn’t help but shift back in my saddle. I have to give him credit. As soon as he saw that I was not receptive to a hug he stopped. I am just not used to night people being so friendly, or nice. All that I have ever met in my life were overseers of work gangs, and they were not friendly or nice in any way. I will eventually get used to his mannerisms I suppose, but it will take some time, and he will have to prove himself to me. I need to be sure that his demeanor is not an act. It didn’t seem out of place to Jadzia or Ashlin so it is obviously something that they have seen numerous times. I suppose that proves that he is genuinely the kind of person that he has portrayed himself as. I am still wary though.

              Jadzia is another fighter, like me, but she seems to favor a bow. She also had twin swords at her hips, so I know that she is skilled in more than just ranged combat. She is obviously from Rezea. She rides her horse with no bit or bridle and seemed to steer solely with her knees. Her hair is shorter than I expected from a Rezean, but she is still pretty. Her hair is dark, as are her eyes. She was not as talkative as the rest and seemed to be watching more than anything else. I could see a kindred spirit in her eyes, though I’m not sure if she was keeping an eye out for the same kinds of things that I was. She was, as I mentioned, rather quiet. I do not know if that is normal for her, or if she was just quieter due to meeting new people. I suppose that I will find out since it appears that we will be working together.

              I will admit that I was a little surprised to be offered a job so quickly. Actually it seemed more like it was assumed that I was there for a job. Richter did not mention work specifically. His man Seigurd just said that Tanith would take care of things for me. I am not complaining mind you, but I had been prepared to have to work harder to find a job and lodgings. I was fully expecting to sleep under the stars outside of the city. Tanith’s father’s house is much nicer though. It has three stories to it and it is very well kept. There were plenty of rooms for guests. Maria and I chose rooms on the third floor next to each other. Maria is the only person that I really know out of all the people I met today so I thought it would be better to stick close to her. I suppose that I don’t really know all that much about her. I know that she is a skilled adept and prefers to use ice magics. We had a small bit of difficulty with shadowspawn while still near the mountains, but we made short work of them with her ice shaping and my sword. She is rather pretty with long blonde/white hair and light eyes. She also likes to talk a lot. Most of the time we stopped to rest during our travels were taken up by her chatter. I didn’t mind it so much though. It was such a change from what I was used to that it helped me remember that I was out of Kern. It did remind me a little of why Maria was traveling to Aldis with me in the first place though. I felt bad for the loss of her lab and vowed to make up for it somehow. If protecting her on her way home was part of that then I am more than happy to do it.

              Part of me is unsure if I will be able to sleep tonight. The bed here is so soft. Just sitting on it I sink a little bit and it is very comfortable. I suppose that will make it all the more easy to fall asleep, but it will also serve to remind me of the strange place that I find myself. I guess only time will tell. I will pray once again to the gods in thanks for helping to get me out of Kern. I just hope Marcus can join me soon.

              Love always,

              Jana


              Dear Mother,

              Today was certainly and interesting day. I woke up stiff like usual, but I did sleep rather well last night. I knocked on Maria’s door to see if she was up but only found an empty room. I went downstairs to look for her and found her asleep in the Library. I have never seen so many books in my life except in the collections that the Regent’s adepts use. Obviously Tanith does not mind us reading her books. I will admit to being curious to see how Aldins see my home. Maybe she has some books on Kern. After Maria got up we both went to the kitchen to find something to eat for breakfast. Jadzia was already there and we joined her in breaking our fast. The food was good, hot and there was more than enough of it.

              After breakfast Tanith announced that she was going to go to a spa today and wanted to treat Maria, Jadzia and myself to a spa day with her. Now, since I’ve only ever heard about spas from the rich people I sometimes guard I thought it would be interesting to give it a try. It was a unique experience. I’ll give it that. I did not see much point in making our finger and toe nails pretty. They are just going to break or crack during training anyway, but I went along with it. Jadzia reacted rather negatively to the idea of the “doctor fish.” Apparently you put your feet in a bin with these little fish and the fish nibble off the dead skin. I thought it tickled, but Jadzia would have nothing to do with it. Maria on the other hand was enjoying herself immensely. I enjoyed the massage most of all. I have to admit to being rather sore and stiff from riding a horse for so long. I am happy to have only fallen a couple of times while riding. It was the easiest way to make it to Aldis, but was still very unfamiliar to me. I’d never ridden before. Well not a horse anyway. Wyverns do not count. After the massage we went to the hot spring to soak. I was a little surprised by the idea of submerging my body in that much hot water.

              Swimming in lakes doesn’t even compare. Ashlin and Darcy joined us in the hot spring. I wore a light robe that Tanith lent me, Jadzia was naked and Tanith wore nothing but a loincloth. The men wore loincloths as well. It was an interesting experience. I don’t know if I’d want to come back for the hair and nails attentions, but the massage and hot springs were rather nice. It was made nicer when Maria made the water whirl around us with her shaping magics.

              After the spa we all went out for a meal at a local restaurant. I will admit to being rather overwhelmed by the whole experience. I’ve been to taverns in Kern, but nothing like this before. There were three forks. What could you possibly need with three forks? I noticed that Ashlin seemed to know what he was doing so I copied his actions. He seemed to notice me doing that and made it obvious which fork was used for each course. And then there’s the fact that there were multiple courses! Soup, salad and the main dish. I’ve never eaten so much food in one sitting in my life. I nodded my thanks to Ashlin for his help in navigating the social etiquette that I was unfamiliar with. Jadzia was not familiar with the social stuff either, but she just elected to do what came naturally to her.

              During the meal we talked of many things. Darcy mentioned that he was training to be a Spirit Dancer. I said that I had never seen one and he offered to allow me, and anyone else that was interested, to watch him train in the upcoming days. I nodded my thanks. It will be interesting to see his skills, and those of a Spirit Dancer. They are not allowed in Kern. Even worshiping the Primordials or the gods of Light is punishable by beatings and destruction of any religious icons. I have prayed to the Primordials many times in my life but never out loud where I can be overheard.

              This led to us talking of our abilities. I suppose it makes sense that we are all know what each other is capable of. Jadzia said that she was skilled with a bow as well as paired swords. Tanith mentioned being a skilled healer. She can also boost the abilities of others if the need should arise. She would be highly sought after in Kern. Darcy is of course a hand to hand fighter and skilled diplomat in his own right. Maria told the group that she was an adept with skills in shaping water and cold. Ashlin displayed his talents by producing a trinket in his hand and handing it back to Maria. Apparently he had taken it from her surreptitiously earlier. I told the others that I was trained in sword and shield.

              Also, while we were eating Tanith experienced a vision of some kind. She said that she has them on occasion after we asked if she was okay. She said that she had seen Darcy fighting back to back with Callisto, a legendary Roamer fighter, in the ruins of some building. I was also there stemming the tide at the door with my shield. Tanith did not see where the others were. She also did not know where the vision took place, she just saw the room we were in and what was happening with the three of us. I suppose time will tell if this is a possible future or one that will definitely happen. It at least shows that I will be with these people for a while longer, and that is something that I am looking forward to.

              Love always,

              Jana


              Dear Mother,

              Today we were to meet a contact that is associated with our upcoming job. His name was Gerard Martaan. He was a man picked by the mayor to help mediate a disagreement with two families. It is unfortunate that he is dead. We went to his house to find the door off of its hinges. The door was propped back up, so whoever did it did not want to be found out too soon. Ashlin started to go around to the back door and I followed. The rest were going to go through the front door and confront the intruder. Ashlin picked the lock on the back door with ease and we both went into the dark house. We entered almost simultaneously. In doing so we disturbed a darkfiend that was going through the man’s papers. Ashlin lit a lamp so the rest of the group could see. Almost all of us attacked. Jadzia shot it with her bow from a position near the door. Her aim is uncanny. Tanith stayed behind as well and offered her assistance in other ways by helping some of us using melee weapons by giving us a burst of speed. It was exhilarating to say the least. I got a couple of decent hits in, and got bitten for my trouble. It was not that bad of an injury though so I kept on fighting. Darcy also got clawed by the creature. He shrugged it off and between the two of us we killed it in our combined blow. After the fight though the magics wore off, and Darcy and I were rather worn out, like we’d run a couple of miles with full gear.

              After the fight was over a young woman came in through the front door. She introduced herself as Pima and said that she was looking for Martaan. We gave her the unfortunate news that the man was dead. She seemed genuinely surprised, despite the fact that she was carrying an assassin’s blade concealed in her belt. When Darcy questioned her about the weapon she claimed to know nothing about blades and simply chose it because it looked dangerous. She started to say that she didn’t come here to kill Martaan but… then trailed off. Jadzia had a witty line about what comes before “but” in a sentence being equal to horse dung. It was funny. I don’t know how she was going to finish that sentence, but will admit that I am curious. The darkfiend that attacked Martaan had to have been summoned by someone, and it could have been her for all we know. It could be someone else.

              Ashlin had a clever idea and shared it with the rest of us after Pima left. He had not been seen clearly by the girl so he was planning on getting close to her family and seeing what he could find out. Her family is one of the ones involved in the dispute so it will be good to know what is going on with them. In Kern the information would be pulled from their minds by adepts skilled in such arts, but I do not think that is allowed here, even by the authorities. While Ashlin does that Tanith and the rest of us will stay neutral, but with some suspicion towards Pima’s family. Playing both sides to gain information. It is definitely more work than would be done in Kern to determine guilt.

              It seems that our job got more complicated. I’m sure the authorities will look into this murder, but I wonder if they will mind if we do some looking of our own? In Kern the speaker in a community would determine guilt and then execute the killer as soon as they were found. The Regents don’t care if the people kill one another, but the people have their own ways of dealing with crime. I suppose I should ask how the law works here. I do not know how far we are allowed to go in our search for the summoner. I do not have the authority that I used to, nor do I want it back. I just want to know what the rules are here so I don’t make any mistakes. Knowing the rules of a place is important for survival no matter where you are.

              Love always,

              Jana


              Tanith’s Diary

              Well I have met the rest of our dream team, I suppose. Five others, not four. Jana brought an adept friend. I am hoping that together we can do some good. I am pretty happy with the group.

              Ash I have known for a bit. They are a good sort, somewhat flighty, but focused where it counts. A lithe, quick sort of fellow, Ash is likable in a cocky, roguish way that probably appeals to a number of women, and at least a few men. Good for them I say. In addition to being something of a charmer, they are a knife expert. I suspect before working with me they might have been a wide boy. So they have a number of good options we can use. And I honestly like them.

              I really don’t know everything going on with Ash. They came in disguise the other day, and I am not sure what was up. Checking up on an ex? Preventing an assassination? Who knows? I have no reason to doubt them, though. I just don’t know their surname, where they live, where they are from, what they did before we met, or what they do away from the office. But it would not be fair for me to be the only one cultivating mystique.

              Darcy towers over me, about half a foot, even with my height. He is huge, in terms of personality and size. The kind of man you feel the presence of as soon as he walks into the room. He is a Night a Person and a Roamer, but I already feel I can count on him. He has also proven himself to be quite fearless. People say things about Night People, and I don’t know I have only really met them in passing but Darcy seems fine. I suspect they are no more innately evil than Vata’Sha, he no more than I.

              Darcy is as much a natural for the table as I am. He is big and impressive, and seems quite dedicated to peace, more than just doing a job. Some may distrust him as a Night Person and Roamer, at the same time he will get some respect as a Spirit Dancer in training. He is a hell of an asset as well as a hell of a guy. I look forward to working with him in the future.

              I may have to tell him I am caria though.

              Of the newcomers, Jadzia is Rezean, a more petite but wiry warrior who is a crack shot with the bow. She is well muscled and quite attractive. She is also rather quiet, and not used to Aldin life at all. I’d love to teach her all about it, the mysteries, the excitement, the romance. At this time, however, she is living under my roof and I don’t want to give the illusion of a quid pro quo arrangement. If we get to know each other better who knows what may happen?

              Jadzia seems to be a ranged fighter by preference, with a bow as taut as her arm muscles. I have only seen her use that, but she also has a pair of swords. So she brings a strong offense to play if we are threatened. And I bet those dark sharp eyes find targets quickly and well. Perhaps she will do some target shooting for me. I’d like to see that.

              The other expected newcomer is Jana. She is a Vata’Sha like me. I don’t see many other Vata’Sha; a few, more than Night Folk, but not many. Usually any Vata I see are Vata’An. Jana is also from my family’s homeland, Kern. And she wears the sort of demeanor my father does…strong but severe, and taciturn. While Jadzia does not seem inclined to socialize, Jana has a thousand yard stare. She is quite lovely…well muscled, if with several scars. A lovely unintended side effect of the spa day was seeing that.

              While Jadzia specializes in the bow, Jana is the sword and shield, and seems like a defensive warrior. She made reference to being a bodyguard, and that sounds very valuable. Like Jadzia, she is living in my Father’s Manse. Maybe I can strike up a conversation with her about Kern.

              Honestly, I won’t get tired of looking at either of them either way.

              Maria Highmore was unexpected. An Adept, she is Aldin, like I am. She seems to be a shaper, skilled in water and frost. She is also a perky, outgoing sort, in contrast to Jadzia or Jana whom she arrived with. Apparently she met Jana on the way out of Kern, from which Maria was helping to smuggle adepts, making her quite brave. I just hope she does not get bored with us.

              Not only is Maria a fellow Aldin and fellow adept, we went to the same school. I bet she has some stories, and I could probably fill her in on what’s going on at the school now. I mean, I am sure there has been some turnover, the Academy goes through Defense Against Sorcery instructors like water, after all, but I am sure both being adepts we have shared some teachers. Romantically I have sensed no chemistry but who knows where things can go. She too is staying in the Manse with me though.

              After we met we had a lovely dinner, then I took the girls on a spa day. Jadzia was a bit intimidated by the doctor fish. She liked the massage though. Maria vocally enjoyed herself the whole time, it was neat. Jana was much quieter, but she seemed to have a good time. We got our hands and feet and faces done (oh yes, Jadzia did not like that either) then massages then hair, then we went to slip into the hot spring…only to find the boys already there.

              Fortunately I only slipped in in the altogether a moment.

              We had a good visit, and Maria used water shaping to make a whirlpool. Jana and Jadzia were pretty quiet, but Darcy and Maria made up for it. Ash and I cultivated mystique. It was good times.

              Bit of a hiccup getting started. Sadly the man to give us a briefing Mr. Martaan was killed! A Darkfiend was present but our team tore it to pieces. We will meet with the parties directly. One’s daughter, Pima, showed up acting suspiciously. Ash has a plan though.

              While a bump right off I feel good about this group. It’s time to make a difference for the land that welcomed my family.

              End Session I

              Okay lets see.

              I deliberately had us all together some and split up some. The initial groups were
              Ash+ Darcy + Tanith and Jadzia + Jana +Maria, then together, then Ash + Darcy and Jadzia + Jana + Maria + Tanith for the spa day then back together, so we RP’d in bigger and smaller groups.

              The recurring NPCs nearby are Trebizond, Laodice, and Pisha. Trebizond is an Aldin Human Expert Commander, Laodice is an Aldin Sea Folk Warrior Guardian, and Pisha is a Lar’tyan Human Expert of mysterious providence. The whole reason she is there is in explaining Relationships I gave an example of “I love Pisha’s Banana Nut Bread more than my Own Mother” as a joke, and it was decided someone named Pisha with delicious banana nut bread was required, so there she was.

              Heights are an interesting dynamic. Darcy is like 6’7 (~2 meters) Tanith is 6’2 (~1.9 Meters) the others are in the 5’6-5’8 range (~1.6-1.7 meters) with Ash being around 5’4 (~1.6 meters. ) So Tanith towers over the others except Darcy towers over Tanith.

              So I threw them up against a Soldier Darkfiend. I had him down 7 HP from the book stats and 3 armor not 5, but the PCs still tore him apart. I doubt he would have made it to his initiative in the second round even with full by the book stats. So impressive, really. It was our first AGE combat.

              So first session was smooth. Tell us how you like the group! Comments and Questions welcome. We love feedback. The last two Backgrounds (Darcy and Maria) will pop up next Friday, then in two weeks the journals from session two. See you soon
              Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 02-25-2018, 12:57 AM.
              Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
              "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

                First off campaign has started. Check the last entry for session one.

                It’s time to get some background on our remaining pair of heroes, Darcy and Maria. They are the chattiest members of the group, neither is what one might expect. Enjoy.

                Darcy: Roamer Night Person Expert

                The late afternoon sunlight fell lazily across the courtyard and glittered upon the gently burbling fountain that sat in its center. The bustle of the city was a muted rumble in the warm air, drifting in over the walls of the sturdy buildings that made up Sarena's school. The buildings themselves were painted and adorned brightly, unmistakably Roamer despite being permanent structures.

                A lone figure moved across the hard packed earth of the training yard. His eyes were closed as he followed the steps of the dance to the drumming of his own heart, increasing the speed of the movements as the exertion quickened his pulse. The sheen of his efforts glistened upon his torso as dark hair and bright silk flowed and spun about him through the ever quickening steps of the dance. It was one he'd learned as a child, as most Roamer youth did. Yet in the past months it had become much more, as his teacher had explained how each movement, each step was also the core of an attack or a dodge or a block, how the muscle memories he had practiced had been preparing him to deal with the shadows and those that let such evil corrupt their hearts.

                His breathing quickened as he pushed himself, flowing from each movement to the next harder and faster. In his mind's eye, he pictured the fight. Spin away from a thrust and step in carrying and channeling the momentum of that defense into the strike. Follow up by dropping low to avoid a counter and sweeping out to trip the off balance foe. Continue the spin, coming full circle while rising to deliver a finishing kick.

                And suddenly he felt the lightest touch upon his outstretched leg. Eyes snapped open as he began to fall. The rhythm in his ears was lost as his arms windmilled and he twisted in midair, trying to recall the proper move to catch himself and control his fall. But his hand came down slightly off and his feet did not come together evenly and instead of the graceful cartwheel back to land in a ready stance he rolled across the ground into a kneeling position blinking and panting at the woman who stood watching him with her arms crossed and one graceful eyebrow lifted.

                Then she was in motion, the voluminous robes with their many trinkets and feathers billowed and swirled about her like a cloud as she moved in, her feet hardly disturbing the furrow of his own roll as she closed the distance and jumped upward, kicking out at him. Without thought, Darcy's arms came up to intercept the kick and he used the force of it to propel himself back, rolling more gracefully and into a standing and ready stance on his feet this time.

                "Better," she said with a nod as she relaxed her stance, "Trust in the dance and let it lead you."

                He moved to a relaxed stance and bowed his head. "Thank you as always for pointing out how I can improve."

                She quirked her lip and moved closer to the taller man. "I think you actually mean that this time."

                Darcy's eyes widened. "Of course. I am always been grateful for your teaching."

                "Yes, but not always in the moment of it being given." Her lips turned upward and her eyes twinkled knowingly. "Fear not my student, it is one of the lessons all must learn and I am pleased at how far you've come with it. And if you were so not troubled by falling short of perfection, then you would not be driven to improve."

                He nodded. "I seek only to be my best."

                Once again an auburn eyebrow lifted as she tilted her head to consider him a moment. "Come, walk with me Darcy. I would have your company for a time." She headed toward the gate unhurriedly waiting for him to catch up to her and fall into step beside her before speaking again. "Tell me, why choose this road? Why do you seek the way of the Sel-Shann?"

                Darcy paused to consider the question. He had learned, as all the students here, that Sarena's questions were never as simple as they seemed. "To protect and help others," he answered, "To push back the darkness."

                She nodded and continued to walk along the colorful streets of the Roamer enclave. "There are many who fight the corruption of the shadow. You could have taken up the bow or the blade to strike down its minions. You could have studied the arts of the healer to purge its taint from the body and soul."

                "Those roads are noble and worthy but they are not my path."

                "Then I ask again, why the way of the Eternal Dance?"

                "To be Sel-Shann is to be a beacon. To be an example and guide to others."

                She nodded and turned, guiding them past the last buildings and out toward the fields were the caravans had not so long before gathered to winter. Fresh grass and wildflowers filled the gently rolling land with color, swiftly overtaking the dirt where wagons and camps had been and filling the air with the scent of rebirth and Spring. For a long moment she stood, gazing at the sun as it touched the horizon and lit the sky on fire. Darcy stood beside her, quietly waiting and watching the setting sun. "How long have you known this was your road?"

                "For as long as I can recall I have devoured the tales of the Sel-Shanna and dreamed of joining them."

                She turned to look closely at him. "And of adding your own tales to them? To have children look up expectantly and ask to hear another story about Darcy the Hero?"

                He turned to meet her eyes. "They sing your songs at the campfires. If my deeds some day inspire others as well is that not a good thing?"

                She held his gaze for several seconds before relaxing. "It is true that I would be lying if I said that it did not fill my heart with joy the first time I heard a tale of my own told. There is no harm in being rightfully proud of one's accomplishments my student, but vainglory is a subtle distraction that can lead you far astray before you notice if you are not mindful."

                He relaxed as well and nodded. "Of course my teacher."

                "Do you know why the High Seer gave you her blessing to be my student?"

                Darcy blinked and sudden shift in conversation. "I... I have not questioned her wisdom. If she felt I was worthy then I must be, yes?"

                A shake of her head and a soft sigh told him it was not the right answer. "And tell me, truthfully, did it surprise you to be found... worthy?"

                He frowned, not sure of were this conversation was leading. However, he did as she asked, pausing to recall the day when he'd made his way from his own caravan's wintering camp to the High Seer's to seek her out and present himself, as so many young Roamers did. His father had, as always, encouraged him to follow his desire. His mother had been more reserved but had wished him well. The camp of the High Seer was large and he'd been welcomed as all Roamers were. He'd waited with the others, a slightly nervous camaraderie about the fire as they traded tales and joked. And in his turn, he'd gone before the wisest. She had spoken kindly, putting him as at ease as could be in such circumstance and speaking to him about his desire to be trained as a Sel-Shann. Then she had brought forth the fabled tablets of silver carried from Austium itself and read them. The long silence had made him squirm as he waited with all the patience he could muster. Then at last she had looked up and fixed his eyes with her gaze, holding them for several seconds before reaching her decision and telling him to seek out Sarena's school and present himself with her blessing. He had been overjoyed and excited, yes. But recalling as clearly as he could, he slowly nodded. "No," he admitted, "I was not surprised. I would not have gone to her if I had not believed I had the potential to join the ranks of the Sel-Shanna."

                Sarena nodded her head again. "Ah yes, potential." She turned away from the deepening purple sky and back to the way they had come.

                "You were not the strongest or quickest to come before her seeking this road. And yes, one of the Sel-Shanna had judged your skills before you entered her tent to be sure. It is difficult to master the body and mind, but with determination, it can be learned. What cannot be taught is the strength of the heart. There will come a day when you stand alone in the face of the shadow. When you must be true to the Light despite temptation or fear or even defeat. When no one will see or know that you did what was right. And it is in that moment that the only strength that will matter is the strength of your heart. That, my student, is what sets a hero above others. Not cleverness of wit or strength of arms or softness of tongue, but the conviction inside them to always remain stay true to what is good and right no matter what."

                "And that is what she saw in me?"

                "She saw two roads laid out before you. The hero was one of them."
                --


                Maria Highmore: Aldean Human Adept

                I was born in Verdaunen, Aldis, to a family of farmers. From a young age my grandparents would tell me stories of our ancestors and their wondrous homeland of Kern. Kern was a land of ice, snow, walking skeletons, flesh eating ghouls, skull headed wyvern riders, sha crystals, a rhy-cat spymaster, and the horrible sorcerer king of the dead. But in the stories, no matter how cruel the task master or how ugly the monster, the people of Kern always persevered and made it out alive, though perhaps missing a limb or two. My favorite stories were about the Travelers of the Sunlit Path. The Travelers were a secret organization in Kern that help people escape to Aldis through the Sunlit Path, especially those with magical powers. They helped my grandparents escape, and I vowed that one day I would become a Traveler of the Sunlit Path too.

                After finding me one day building snow castles in the middle of a hot summer day, my parents sent me off to the Royal College to study and learn about the world outside our town. I made many friends, had a couple of girlfriends, all very fun, and we left school on good terms -- all except one friend. Her name was Lenore Silverstream and having both grown up in farms, we became instant friends. Like me, she loved reading and talking, and she was really good with foreign languages. But where I felt safe with the school rules, she hated and resented them. Lenore was constantly challenging our teachers, and she didn’t see why she couldn’t study and learn her own way. One day, she just stopped showing up to class. I went searching for her everywhere, but Lenore was nowhere to be found. I asked my teachers what happened, and they all said she left, but wouldn’t tell me why. My other friends assumed that she had finally been kicked out of school, but I never believed that she had ever done anything that bad. I just hope that she did leave (whether by force or her on volition) and had not been kidnapped or killed.

                After I graduated, I immediately went off in search of my childhood heros: the Travelers of the Sunlit Path. This took me, of course, to the farthest northern reaches of Aldis, where I met many wonderful people, and heard all their stories of Kern and the fall of the Lich King while I had been at school. Finally I made my way to the Ice Binder Mountains and instantly fell in love. Here was the winter wonderland I had always dreamed of: snow and ice as far as the eye can see, winds carrying the crisp scent of frozen water on the air, and caves full of endless wonders to explore. I immediately found a hidden cave to sculpt my home and lab using my Cold Shaping abilities. It took me a very long time, but the end result made it all worth it: a workplace for my studies of ice and snow, a cozy home for me, and a guest home for four or five visitors, all expertly hidden (if I do say so myself). Over the last couple of years, I even added some traps.

                Once my home was done and I had enjoyed it for a week or two, I set out on my first journey into Kern to find meet my Traveler contact. On the way through the mountain, I came upon a fight between a wounded snowy white owl, and a fox. The owl fought relentlessly to keep the fox back, but it became slower and more clumsy with each swing of its unhurt wing. Just as it looked like the fox finally would get it, I created an ice wall around the grounded owl which the fox could not penetrate. Eventually the fox slunk away and the owl and I became fast friends. I named her Calypso, and she rode on my shoulder while I walked the land until her hurt wing healed and she was able to fly again. I asked her if she wanted to be my familiar, and was overjoyed when she agreed.

                For two years, I was a successful Traveler helping adepts and others through the Sunlit Path, and avoiding the Skull Knights and their vampiress commander. That is, until the fateful day when the Skull Knights finally found my lab. I suppose it was lucky that I had been journeying with a lovely dark haired seer when my home was finally discovered. When I returned to my lodging a week later, after escorting the lady to the next Traveler, to find the letter from the Knights of the Skull tacked to my broken door and declaring that all traitors to the Lady Talis can look forward to long nights of pain and a slow death, I just collapsed on my knees in disbelief. Until that point, I had had perfect confidence that my security was unbeatable and my clever hiding place forever unseen. And I had run out of food on the way home, so I was starving as well as cold and feeling more alone than I had ever felt in my life. My crying unexpectedly had an audience: my soon to be friend, savoir, and traveling companion, Jana.

                With Jana’s help, I was able to leave my old life behind, and journey toward new adventures in Aldis city. And what new adventures are these? Only sweet Selene knows!

                --

                That’s the last of the backgrounds. Updates are (probably) going to go to every other week after the next one, though I will do my best to reply to any comments or questions in the thread, and my players may pop in as well.

                Next week will be the journals for session two. I have three in hand and I know at least one is being currently written. They start the mission proper, and the Feast of Braniel occurs, which gives several of them the chance to get to know each other and their neightbors, ah, better. Turn that UST into something more complicated. See you in a week, Comments and Questions welcome
                Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 02-09-2018, 12:21 AM.
                Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

                  The party meets everyone involved in the dispute, figures out where they stand, and investigates the third party meddling in affairs. Nothing could be simpler. Assuming no more Darkfiends show up.

                  Also, the Feast of Braniel! Spring begins, passions run high, and some torrid encounters get underway. Our heroes find some lovely people to wile away the time with as they get some play as well as work here in session two.

                  Session II

                  The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship Part II


                  Ashlin’s Reports

                  Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent Gaeleth 30th

                  I sent the last one quickly so that you didn’t worry your head over pretty little me. Now that we’ve had some time to go over things, here’s the situation.

                  Martaan’s official briefing documents laid out the official statement. Xavian Gallaccio is the boss-in-all-but-title of the town of Talen’s Crossing. His father, more of a despot than the current head of the family, built up the town in ways that got him in trouble with a traveling noble or two, so there is an official mayor but... trade is kept in the family. Everything goes through him. Including the ladies Fairlight’s attempts to get a toehold in.

                  You’re familiar with the ladies Fairlight, Anactoria and Polaris, I’m certain. Beautiful, powerful, monied women who dabble in criminal affairs and shine in business ones. They’ve invested in several towns like Talen’s Crossing, promising trading towns prospering along the main road. But Master Gallaccio wants them to have nothing to do with his.

                  The rule of law is definitely on the Fairlights’ side. Furthermore, should it come to violence, Xavian would, by Martaan and Tanith’s estimation, lose. So the Fairlights’ willingness to come to the table speaks well of them. But then, a veneer of civility when one is the obvious winner goes far in earning brownie points from a society built on good values. So we shall see.

                  Martaan’s notes, nigh completely destroyed, were coaxed into giving some information by your humble servant, with help from the keen-eyed Jadzia. Not much, but we did find out that he was convinced that a third party had either instigated or at least meddled in the conflict between the two families. He also believed that this third party was connected somehow to the Gallaccio’s, possibly through Xavian, but most likely through Pima. After the day we’ve had, we’re betting Pima. And you know I always win my bets.

                  This afternoon we split up - the better to cover all the necessary ground - with Tanith and Jadzia visiting the Fairlights for a preliminary visit, Darcy doing the same for the Gallaccios, Maria and Jana visiting the Chamber of Commerce to figure out any financial leads into this mysterious third party, and me trying to figure out a way into the Gallaccios’ confidence. I waited until Darcy was back for my first foray, so that I could grill him about the situation inside. A few things stood out: Xavian immediately assumed that it was the Fairlights, since they had, he assumed, been the ones behind another recent assassination attempt on his own person, as well as an arson in Talen’s Crossing. Also, and this was related to the third thing, he had no idea about the murder until Darcy mentioned it, despite Pima’s presence at Martaan’s. That third thing was that Pima arrived while Darcy was still there, hurrying past in the same clothes she’d been wearing at Martaan’s, considerably more disheveled, looking... relaxed. Possibly high. Certainly an odd difference from the last time he’d seen her, and a far cry from the assumption of how a person such as she would respond to having come across a murder scene.

                  Our immediate thought was that she’d been to see this mysterious third party, who she had either been conspiring with to commit the murder and had celebrated its success, or who had attempted to distract her from her distress with a good romp or at least a drug induced euphoria. Later evidence might have made us wonder if she had not been to see Anactoria, as there was some romantic tension there, but according to Tanith and Jadzia, Anactoria was in no such state, nor would timing have truly worked out.

                  It was, perhaps, telling as well that Pima was the only person Anactoria had any real suspicion of. The murder appeared to surprise both Fairlights, though Tanith and Jadzia both agreed that Polaris played everything close to her chest. They were considerably more trusting of their opponent in this, pointing out that Xavian had never done anything like that. Pima, while not being an adept, had been behaving in a secretive and nervous manner, according to Anactoria. In other words, every finger was pointing her way.

                  Which meant, of course, that it was even more important that I got close to her. I made my first forays into the household with my trusty Guard uniform - and I didn’t even get any comments about being a little short of a Guardsman. Very polite security Gallaccio has hired. They listened to my report about the darkfiend, and let me take a break from my incredibly hard day of going around telling everyone in the neighborhood about it and get the local gossip. They confirmed a lot of stuff - Pima had been acting strange, going out at all hours, firmly refusing any accompaniment from security. Food had been disappearing from the kitchen too, which made for some wrinkles in our speculation. They also told stories about the assassination attempt and the arson that Xavian had mentioned.

                  There’s been a lot of that, speculation that is. Largely about who the third party could be. A mercantile interest who wants to take Talen’s Crossing for themselves? Parties in the town trying to take it back from their company town boss? Someone trying to destabilize the road, one up and coming town at a time? Someone with a grudge against one or the other party? Another town that might stand to lose standing as Talen’s Crossing rose? We had nothing pointing us at one of those in particular. Maria and Jana went to the Chamber of Commerce to see if they could answer any of those more financial questions. They got some stuff, but mostly lists of possibilities of any of those categories, so we’ll have to see. Having the lists to reference later should be handy.

                  It does seem pretty clear that Pima is up to something, though what and why are unclear. She certainly seemed surprised at the murder, and it seems unwise, if one knew of an attack by a darkspawn, to follow up personally. She might be chafing under her father’s rule - according to their security, she had an allowance, which might indicate expensive tastes being curtailed by a father’s stinginess. It could be ambition - she’s not considered to be savvy enough to be her father’s heir, and maybe that bothers her. This third party could be offering her a place at the head of the table, maintaining her position as the face of the company town, as it were. Or it could be love, of course, there’s always that.

                  Figuring all that out is my job. Tomorrow is Braniel’s day, so no official business. The evening’s parties should be exciting - the firm has invitations to the Fairlights’ party, and at least some of us will be attending. Between Darcy and Pima, hopefully Xavian will be convinced to not go to the Fairlights to confront them, and wherever he and his daughter go - that’s where I’ll spend my festival evening. The ladies have gone out to buy clothes for the day - time for me to sneak out and make sure I have enough candied ginger!

                  [Cloven hoof mark]


                  Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                  (Whispered in Rezean in the Nocturna Estate stables)

                  (Quiet humming, slightly atonal)

                  “Good morning, Salkhi. Yes, I know… I did not come to you upon returning from the party last night as I had said I would, and for that I apologize. Matters took an interesting turn, and I found myself otherwise occupied. No, we did not find ourselves facing off against another darkfiend… but let me tell it in my own way.

                  “Following our encounter in Martaan’s house two days ago, our little company split into three groups. Ashlin and Darcy went separately to speak with Pima’s family, the Gallaccios. Maria and Jana visited the… I forget. Some government building, I believe. They wanted to ask about the village of Talen’s Crossing, to see if there were others who might benefit from the strife between the Gallaccios and their rivals, the Fairlights. The remnants of Martaan’s notes seemed to indicate that this might be so.

                  “When Tanith announced her intention to speak with the Fairlights, I offered to join her. I am meant to serve as a bodyguard, am I not? It seemed appropriate that I travel with her into the home of a potential enemy. I remained silent through the interview that followed, preferring to observe Lady Polaris Fairlight and her young wife Anactoria. Though the elder Lady Fairlight guarded her expressions carefully, I believe that both were surprised to hear of Martaan’s death. Pima still seems the most likely suspect to me, for this and… other reasons.

                  “Among these reasons is the fact that she returned to her father’s residence while Darcy was speaking with him. According to my friend, Pima looked dazed and disheveled, though not overly upset. It seems likely that she left Martaan’s house and went straight into the arms of a lover, where she possibly became intoxicated in some way. It is whispered that there was some flirtation or dalliance between young Pima and Anactoria Fairlight, though they could not have been together on that morning or Tanith and I would have seen her. Her behavior grows ever more suspicious.

                  “We met back at the office afterward and shared information. As the following day was the Feast of Braniel, we spent the rest of that day in preparation. Ashlin continued to spy on the Gallaccios, hoping to discover their plans for the Feast Day. Tanith had been invited to the Fairlights’ revel, and Jana and I opted to join her to ensure her safety. As we did not wish to embarrass her in front of her noble peers, we consented to a brief shopping expedition.

                  “As you know, I am… not one for dresses or skirts. It is impossible to truly ride in such a garment, so I have never had use for them. As such – and considering that she was paying for the raiment in question – I allowed Tanith to make the final selection. It was a modest garment; less bright and colorful than is common for Feast Day dresses. It is a deep red that nearly matches the paint they applied to my fingernails at the spa the other day.

                  “A dress of such fine material, of no practical use… a girl might have one such dress in all of her life back among the clans, possibly passed from mother to daughter over the course of several generations. It might be worn to one’s life-bonding marriage ceremony, and then never again. And Tanith purchased this dress for me on a whim, and bought another such for Jana. Her generosity is… astounding.

                  “The next day was, as I have said, the Feast of Braniel. For most of the day, my new friends and I wandered the city, taking in the sights and enjoying the festival air that permeated its inhabitants. I sampled a few delicacies here and there – Ashlin insisted I try the candied ginger at one point – but spent most of my time keeping an eye out for potential threats. Most people would shy away from desecrating the sanctity of a Feast Day, but for the unscrupulous the excitement and crowds might provide the perfect cover for violent acts.

                  “We had occasion to meet our neighbors across the street, the renowned strategist Trebizond and his bodyguard Laodice. The former seemed friendly enough, though the latter greeted us all with guarded politeness. She seems a strong and cautious woman, and curiosity impels me to wonder which of us would prevail should we ever find ourselves on opposing sides of a battlefield. There was also one of the fabled Rose Knights, an attractive and friendly woman named Saoirse. Even I could tell that there was some tension between Saoirse and Laodice, hinting at a troubled history.

                  “I also met our host… Tanith’s father, Richter Nocturna. They are very much alike, though I doubt either would admit it openly. He is quite youthful, not appearing very much older than Tanith herself… though that doesn’t mean much where vata’sha are concerned. He was friendly and pleasant, and made certain to wish us all well in our business endeavor with his daughter.

                  “No, of course I did not wear my lovely new dress for the entire day! It would only have gotten dusty and sweat-stained. I did not put it on until we returned here to prepare for the gala at the Fairlight estate. It was difficult to find a way to wear my swords in that attire, of course, but I had little choice in the matter… my bow would have been nearly useless in such crowded, confined spaces.

                  “I nearly changed my clothes when I saw that Jana intended to wear her armor to the fete, but I decided against it in the end. Tanith had already seen me in the dress, and she seemed pleased that I was wearing her gift. It would have been rude to discard it at that point.

                  “She took each of us on an arm, and together we made our way to the Fairlight estate. As we traveled, Tanith spoke warmly about how glad she was that we had decided to accompany her, how much more interesting it would make the dance, and how safe she felt in the company of two such accomplished warriors. I tried to keep a level head, but she spoke so glowingly of my strength and prowess that it was difficult to remain aloof. I believe Jana was similarly pleased by her praise.

                  “When we arrived, they announced Tanith. Jana and I were introduced as her escorts, and flanked her as she entered the ballroom, regal and beaming. Much of the party that followed seemed decadent and unnecessary to me, though the food and wine were quite good. At one point, Tanith asked me to join her for a dance, and I could see no plausible reason to deny her request.

                  “Do not look at me so, Salkhi! You know that I have daydreamed about her several times these past few days, and that I would welcome any excuse to spend such intimate time with her. But the dances here in Aldis City are so different from those of the Clan! They are measured and precise, meticulous and elegant. Back home, our dances were frenetic and wild, only coordinated in the instinctual way of the herds. And I was never any good at those dances either!

                  “I believe Tanith must have recognized my distress, because once we joined the throng on the dance floor, she placed one hand firmly on my waist, placed the other in my own, and began to gently guide me through the complicated movements. Though I stumbled a few times, she did a wonderful job of turning those missteps into little flourishes, thus hiding my lack of skill from those who might snicker at it. Though I confess that during this time I found myself paying less attention to those around us, and more time lost in her luminous golden eyes…

                  “When the song had ended, I stammered out my gratitude for the dance and – following a sudden mad impulse – kissed her proffered hand, and then hastily made my way off of the dance floor. Tanith danced next with Jana, who seemed to be a bit more skilled than me. I watched the two dark beauties twirl elegantly around the floor for a time, but something began to bother me. It dawned on me after a moment that it had been some time since I had seen our host, Polaris Fairlight.

                  “I mentioned this to Tanith and Jana when their dance had finished, and Tanith quietly advised me to see if I could locate our absent hostess. I slipped into the shadows and left the ballroom. A few minutes later, I found her conversing quietly with a woman in a red cloak. I could not see this other woman’s face, and they were speaking a language I did not understand. Eventually, Polaris produced a dagger and held it… not threatening the other woman, but seeming to display it for her inspection. It was either the dagger Pima had when we met her at Martaan’s house, or an exact duplicate.

                  “I could learn nothing more from stealth, as the words they spoke were gibberish to me. I stepped out of the shadows, pretending that I had merely wandered across the two of them suddenly. The knife disappeared instantly, and the hooded woman retreated into the shadows, keeping her features indistinct. Polaris asked what I was doing there, and I claimed to be searching for a bathroom. She directed me to such a facility, and, mourning my lack of success in learning more, I left them to their assignation.

                  “Of course, I did visit the bathroom in case I was being watched, but I made my way back to the ballroom as soon as it seemed feasible to do so. Tanith praised my actions, and this time I was certain that she could see my blush.

                  “We took our leave shortly after, and walked slowly through the city back to this place. I intended to come and see you, Salkhi, truly I did, and yet… as I said before, the evening took a different and rather unexpected turn. Tanith had been flirting with us both for much of the evening. I responded in kind, feeling rather as I used to when joking and frolicking with the young braves of the Tenniral clan. Jana also seemed amused and receptive, though she was quieter about it.

                  “Tanith invited us to join her in her room, and then arrived wearing… I do not have the words. The garment was in no way practical; it could not even be worn beneath regular clothing effectively. It was made of shimmering golden fabric so light that it nearly floated, and it was designed to reveal more than it concealed. Neither Jana nor I seemed able to speak for a moment, as Tanith took each of our hands in one of her own and led us toward the bed.

                  “I had been concerned about tearing or staining my new dress when I tried to remove it. I need not have worried; Tanith knew how to disrobe me quickly and efficiently. Jana had worn her armor; that took longer to remove, and I offered my assistance. What followed was undeniably pleasant. I lay with Tanith. Jana lay with Tanith. The two of us lay with Tanith together. And, eventually, as the evening progressed and passions mounted, I lay with Jana.

                  “They are both remarkable women, skilled and caring and attentive. I hope that they feel the same could be said of me. After enjoying each other, we slept with limbs and sheets tangled in that large bed until late this morning. There were awkward glances between the three of us at breakfast, but also shy smiles. I hope that the former will fade with time, and the latter become more common.

                  “Now, are you well-fed and refreshed? It is time to meet with the others and see if their experiences on Feast Day were as rewarding as my own.”


                  Jana’s Letters

                  Dear Mother,

                  To continue today’s exploits, we went back to the office after leaving Martaan’s house. Ashlin worked wonders in reconstructing the shredded papers and Tanith helped when she got back from talking to the guards. The whole issue is about a town called Talen’s Crossing. It is a small town on a major road apparently. A man named Xavian Galaccio, Pima’s father, has control of it. Literally, he controls all trade and business in that town. He is not the mayor, but he is essentially in charge. The problem comes in when a couple, Polaris and Anactoria Fairlight, want to move some of their business into that small town to take advantage of the commerce. Gallaccio apparently does not want them to move in and the ladies Fairlight are not accustomed to being denied. So, the situation between them is tense to say the least. There has been mild violence between guards for each group, but nothing more than that. At least nothing more that can be proven. There was a fire at the Gallaccios’ house, but it could not be proven to be the fault of the ladies in question.

                  Tanith suggested that we talk to each group separately. She and Jadzia were going to go and talk to the ladies Fairlight, while Darcy spoke to Xavian Gallaccio. Ashlin would also talk to people at the Gallaccio house, but separately and under disguise. Maria and I were going to go to the Chamber of Commerce in town and talk to them. There is no Chamber of anything in Kern so I thought it would be interesting to see this building. If it also helped in our investigation, so much the better.

                  Tanith and Jadzia found out that the Fairlights do not appear to have been aware of the attack on Martaan. Anactoria was obviously surprised. Polaris less so, but then she apparently is a hard person to get impressions from. Tanith also asked if the couple knew who might have summoned the darkfiend, and they said that they did not. This could mean that they don’t even think that the Gallaccios are responsible for the attack. As they were leaving Tanith and Jadzia also received an invitation to a party that the Fairlights were hosting tomorrow night. Tomorrow is the Feast of Braniel. I didn’t know that tomorrow was a religious day. Everyone seemed keen on celebrating so we tried to get as much work done today as we could.

                  Meanwhile Darcy was talking to Xavian. The other man seemed as surprised as the ladies that Martaan had been killed and how. He did not know who might have done it either. Interestingly while Darcy was talking to Xavian he saw Pima sneaking into the house looking messy and sanguine. It seems that she met with a lover and was either really happy about that or had imbibed in herbs or alcohol. When we met up later the others said that she seemed far too relaxed for someone that had just recently walked onto the scene of a murder. I will have to take their word for it. In Kern murder is not uncommon and all but the most sheltered have seen a dead body before.

                  Ashlin went to the Gallaccio house later dressed as a guard and pretended to be informing the those in the neighborhood about the darkfiend attack and to be on the lookout. He commiserated with the guards and got some useful information. I was surprised that it worked. I assumed that Ashlin is a talented speaker but was surprised at the actions of the guards. They willingly gave away information about the household that they guarded. At home they would have been executed for that. I guess it was lucky for us that we are in Aldis. Anyway, Ashlin found out that Pima has taken to sneaking out of the house ever since they arrived in Aldis and has started stealing food from the kitchens for some reason. Presumably to bring to someone that she knows. Perhaps our sorcerer? She always refuses to have a guard escort her when she is out as well, so she obviously doesn’t want people to know what she is doing. She is trying to be clandestine but is making it obvious that she is up to something. And given the fact that she had an assassin’s dagger in her possession earlier doesn’t make it look like her activities are benign.

                  During the evening Tanith offered to take those of us that needed anything out to the shops. Since tomorrow is Braniel’s day the shops are likely to be closed so the owners can celebrate. So, we went out tonight. I went as well as Jadzia, Maria and our host of course. I got a change of clothes that were simple but much nicer than the ones I’m wearing now. I will need to dress the part if I am to guard the daughter of a traveling noble. I did make note of the cost so I can pay Tanith back later, after our wages are paid to us. Jadzia got a dress, which looked rather fetching on her. She seemed a bit uncomfortable or at least out of her depth while wearing it, but it was very complimentary. You would have liked the dress mother, it was a dark red, simple yet elegant.

                  Overall I am a bit overwhelmed by this place. I have never seen so much color or so many smiling faces for that matter. People don’t seem to be careful what they say or how they act. I will have to ask if this place has a secret police force or not. If they do the people don’t know about it or they would be more careful. I will be careful as always just in case.

                  Love always,

                  Jana


                  Dear Mother,

                  Today was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before in my life. If I thought the people of this city dressed colorfully before I was wrong. Darcy took it upon himself to paint his chest and arms in bright colors and adorn his hair with feathers and beads. It was quite a sight. And everyone in the city seemed to be dressed in their best and smiling and happy. Ashlin was very much interested in celebrating and insisted that we all try some of the festival foods, like candied ginger, honeyed fruit and curry. It was all so sweet. Well, except the curry. That was good too though. The whole group of us walked through the city taking in the sights. Ashlin seemed knowledgeable so I asked him what the different dances were for, and why people did the things they did in celebration. He then made a running commentary of what was going on around us and its religious and secular meanings. It was all very interesting. You would have enjoyed it. I hope that my description of things will be enough for you in the hereafter.

                  We met some more of our neighbors as well. We were introduced to the military advisor and his bodyguard who work across the street from us. The strategist’s name is Trebizond and his bodyguard is a sea-folk woman named Laodice. I tried not to be rude and stare at her, but I’d never seen a sea-folk before. They were very friendly and offered to lend us any advice should we need it. We were also introduced to a Rose Knight named Saoirse. From the conversation I believe the Rose Knights here are the equivalent of the Skull Knights in Kern. They guard the city and keep the peace. I believe that they also protect past the city’s borders. It was interesting meeting her. She wore a very fancy set of full plate armor. It shone in a way that I’ve never seen before and was unsure of what it was made from. It did not look like standard steel. It was more colorful than you’d expect. I wanted to talk to her more about her duties and such, but was unsure if that would be proper or not. Plus I’m not sure if regular citizens are allowed to know of the goings on of the city guard. I wouldn’t want to ask any questions that will get me or the others in trouble. Perhaps Ashlin or one of the others will know.

                  After a little while of walking around Tanith saw someone she knew and stopped the group. She stepped to the side to let others past us. She then introduced us to her father, Richter. I was happy to meet him. I had only communicated through his intermediaries, but he is the reason I got out of Kern. I thanked him for his assistance in that. I would be remiss not to. To watch him interact with Tanith was interesting though. He called her Duckling. She seemed a little annoyed at his term of endearment. She in fact acted like a young adult trying to appear mature in front of her friends. Tanith has come across as worldly in interactions up to this point. Today though she revealed her age, and she is young. That makes her no less intriguing but it does put things into a different perspective. There are going to be some truths that she may not be ready to hear or see. Time will tell.

                  A few minutes later I heard Richter’s voice inside my head. He wanted to talk to me where his daughter could not hear and I understand why. He asked if I could keep an eye on Tanith and keep her safe. He was particularly interested in making sure that she does not fall to the Shadow. Apparently, Tanith’s grandmother is someone that I’m rather familiar with, Melisandre. I used to guard her fairly often and got to know what kind of person she is. She has fully embraced the Shadow, and is not a good person at all. I have told you about her in the past so you know who I’m talking about. Melisandre is a very skilled adept, but also not the most moral. She frightened me on several occasions. And Richter is afraid that his daughter’s curiosity will lead her down a similar path. Richter said that he thought his daughter believed that she could handle anything the world threw at her, and that’s just not the case. Not for anyone. The world can be far darker than she’s ever known. I have also seen that it can be far brighter than I’ve ever known. But the path to Shadow can start with the most innocuous of things, and I plan to make sure that Tanith does not start down that road. She seems to be a genuinely good and kind person and I don’t want her to lose those qualities. Her mannerisms may resemble those of her grandmother, but I will not let the similarities get any closer than that.

                  After the celebration was over we divided up into smaller groups to attend parties that noble families were throwing. I decided to go to Polaris and Anactoria’s party with Tanith and Jadzia. I wore my new clothes and my armor, preferring to give the appearance of a bodyguard. Jadzia wore her new dress. She seemed uncomfortable even though she was still armed, but I thought her outfit was rather fetching. Tanith herself was the picture of elegance. Gone was the awkward teenager in front of her father, and back was the worldly woman navigating the social map like a professional.

                  I believe the others went to the party that is thrown by the higher up nobles in the city. Or it may be the official city one. I’m not sure. I know that Darcy and Maria went to that one. Ashlin was following Xavian and Pima to whatever party they were going to go to. I’m not sure where they ended up for the evening. I guess I’ll find out later how that party turned out.

                  One concerning thing that happened at the party was two different women were paying particular attention to Tanith. They were on opposite sides of the room and didn’t appear to be friendly towards one another but they were both interested in my new friend. After Tanith got back from getting drinks the first of these ladies came over to talk. Her name was Thalia Redcrow. She offered her support of our company should we need it. Then after she left the other woman came over and introduced herself as Carlotta Winter. She also offered her support of our endeavors should we need it. I don’t know what kind of influence these ladies have in the city, but they seem to think that it is prominent enough to make a show of offering it to Tanith.

                  After all of that Tanith asked Jadzia and I in turn to dance. I will admit that it was nice. I haven’t danced at a party before, but I’ve been a bodyguard at parties before so I had some idea of how to move. I followed Tanith’s lead for the most part. Jadzia seemed a little more unsure of herself while dancing. I don’t believe they have these kinds of dances in Rezea so it wasn’t surprising. She handled herself well though and I could tell that she was enjoying herself at least a little bit. Tanith flirted with both of us and we each responded in our own ways. They are both beautiful women and I will admit to being attracted to both of them. It is different than past people though. It’s just a more subtle feeling. I don’t know them very well, but I feel like I can trust them. It’s almost like what I had with Marcus, but different. I believe that you would approve of each of them. They are strong women, and both serve the Light effortlessly.

                  The other “interesting” thing to happen at the dance was Polaris, our host, disappearing at one point. Jadzia mentioned that she was gone and I told her where I had last seen her. Jadzia then took it upon herself to go looking for our host. She snuck through the house until she found her talking to a woman in a red hood. They did not speak a language that Jadzia understands, but the conversation seemed intense. At one point Polaris pulled out a dagger just like the one that Pima had earlier. I do not know if this is the same dagger or one crafted by the same blacksmith. It is a distinct blade though. She was not brandishing it at the other woman, she just seemed to be showing it to her. Perhaps as a silent message or proof of identity? Jadzia then pretended to stumble across the pair while in search of a bathroom. She at least got a glance at the hooded woman’s face before she stepped back into the shadows. Also, as soon as Jadzia made herself known the dagger disappeared. Polaris hid it well. I do not know what all of this means, but Polaris is up to something. Pima may or may not be involved in the same thing. There is another party though that has not made themselves known, as far as I know.

                  Overall it was a rather enjoyable day. The festival of Braniel was interesting and I’m glad I was able to see it. The dance was also a fascinating experience. It was a genuinely nice evening all around.

                  Love always,

                  Jana


                  Dear Marcus,

                  I am writing to you knowing full well that I will never send this letter. Even if I did it would never make it to you. Not to mention I do not know of anyone foolish enough to try and sneak into Kern to deliver mail. I am writing to you because I need to tell someone what happened, but it is not appropriate to talk about these things with my mother. So, I came to the conclusion that a friend and lover would be the better audience for what I have to say. I have met two of the most intriguing women. One is a human from Rezea and the other is a Vata’sha from Adlis. Yes, I did make it to the city. I came across the woman whose lab we burned and we travelled together to get to Aldis. I have not told her yet what I have done, but I will as soon as the opportunity presents itself. The Knights only know that she was in the mountains studying Ice and water shaping. They did not know that she was working with people to get adepts out of Kern! She is brave, but was utterly lost when I found her near the ruins of her home. So, I told her that we needed to get out of there and I offered to keep her safe on her travels back to Aldis. We became pretty good friends, I think, in the few weeks that we traveled together. We even bartered for horses on our way. Riding a horse was a new experience for me but not unenjoyable. It was certainly easier than walking all the way out of Kern, which I’d been prepared to do.

                  Anyway, back to the point of this letter. I have meet two rather interesting women. One is the daughter of the man that arranged to get me out of Kern. Her name is Tanith. The other is a Rezean woman named Jadzia. They are both beautiful. So, we went to a festival for Braniel yesterday and decided to celebrate in our own way when we got back to Tanith’s home. Tanith is very intense and a skilled lover. Jadzia is quieter but became quite passionate as the evening got later. I was not expecting to spend the evening with anyone, let alone two women that I just met. Not that I didn’t enjoy myself. I believe they enjoyed my company as well, but it was unexpected. I’m just not sure what happens next. I knew what to expect when I was a Knight. Sex was just that and nothing more, but this is different. I don’t know if either of them are going to expect more from me. I don’t know if I’m ready to give more to either of them just yet. I need to get to know them better before I even think about that. I can just picture your smirking face too. What a conundrum Jana has found herself in. I do wish that you were here to give me advice though. I miss you.

                  Yours always,

                  Jana


                  Tanith’s Diary

                  You know, I may come to regret last night.

                  I should stay on task. Business first.

                  In what hopefully does not represent an omen for our team, our initial contact for first case, Gerard Martaan, was murdered by a Darkfiend. I am pleased to say my team made short work of it. I was mostly not scared. I have never gone toe to toe with one. Unfortunately we arrived too late. Mr. Martaan was dead, his notes shredded.

                  The crux of the case is the town of Talen’s Crossing had been effectively under the control of the Gallaccio family for years. The patriarch is an older man, Xavian Gallaccio. He lost his wife and son several years ago and now only has his daughter Pima, who lacks a head for the business but is very good at pouring on the charm. The Ladies Fairlight, Anactoria and Polaris, are a power couple with friends among the nobles and merchants but who never tried to be nobles themselves. They are attempting to spread their influence into Talen’s Crossing, which lead to a turf war. Anactoria is Polaris’s third Lady Fairlight, Polaris being close to a century old. The second was apparently assassinated long before Anactoria came into the picture. Anactoria is Human, early twenties, a bit older than Pima. The two have a flirtatious relationship, which fits both personalities.

                  I dealt with the guards, and we reconvened at the Office. There was some excellent teamwork and brainstorming. Ash managed to repair the notes enough to determine the influence of a third party was suspected. We decided to make introductions and split up. Ash and Darcy went to interview the Gallaccio family; back at Martaan’s house we saw Pima Gallaccio show up with an assassin’s dagger acting suspicious. Darcy was to interview Xavian Gallaccio while Ash would speak to the servants and guards undercover. Maria and Jana went to the chamber of commerce to see they could find out from the merchant guilds. I went to interview Anactoria and Polaris Fairlight with Jadzia in tow.

                  That meeting went well. They were friendly. Anactoria was a little flirty; we had met in the past and the first thing she told me then was she liked Vata women. Then, you know, her name. But she was less flirty than that this time. They claimed ignorance and expressed a lack of desire to kill anyone. They really poured on the charm, though. I was glad Jadzia was with me. I scored invitations to the Fairlight’s party.

                  We all met back, and came to the consensus that the third party seemed almost certain. Darcy reported that in the Crossing there had been conflicts, swordplay, arson, even an assassination attempt but never even normal Arcana much less Sorcery. Back here it turned out Pima had met a lover, did not return to tell her father what happened until after Darcy had arrived. Even Xavian did not seem to think the Fairlights were involved. Ash found that Pima had been sneaking out and stolen food, and that Gallaccio’s plans were not set in stone for the Feast of Braniel.

                  Speaking of which, the next day was the Feast of Braniel, which was mostly an off day. I went with Jana and Jadzia to the Fairlight’s party, where I spoke to them briefly and had a good time. Jadzia proved she could do more than fight and ride when she snuck over to view Polaris having a clandestine meeting with a woman in a red cloak and cowl. Unfortunately, they were speaking a language she does not know. Polaris did have Pima’s dagger, or one like it, though she held it, never brandished or threatened. Jadzia eventually made herself apparent, and Polaris returned her to the party while the mystery woman backed away.

                  So it seems it is just possible this woman is talking to people on both factions. I think Ash’s idea of shadowing Pima may be a good one. Probably easier than Polaris.

                  It’s been easier this entry to focus on my professional life as I may have overstepped my bounds in my personal life. That whole mess started when Father psychically contacted me at a meeting, which while a welcome change from his habit of doing so while I am in the throws of passion is still disconcerting. He wanted to be sure Jana made it and wondered what I made of her. He got a glowing report. I left some information out of my assessment that was none of his business, mostly the finer points of how intriguing and attractive she is.

                  I took the girls to get some clothes that evening, and it all got pretty flirty with Jana and Jadzia. Maria not so much, though she was not bothered, either. I thought at the time she might be cepia but this was disproven later. In the end while I cranked the temperature up I told them I wanted them to think about it first, and we would discuss it again in the evening of the Feast of Braniel. Apropos for the day, really.

                  We spent most of the feast day together, enjoying the beauty of the city. Ash was very delightfully enthusiastic. Braniel clearly means a lot to them. Everyone finally met Trebizond and Laodice. We all got along. They also met Laodice’s ex Saoirse, a Knight of the Blue Rose. Now Saoirse got a lot of attention, especially from Maria and Darcy. She seemed to enjoy their attention, and noted she would be at the party held by the Queen which was fairly open. Both expressed interest in attending. I think Maria kind of wanted Saoirse to herself, but Darcy has a huge personality and clearly outshone her, though he also seemed intent on having her along for the ride. Given Maria did not come home, I suspect she spent the night with Saoirse, with or without Darcy, but we will see. Personally, Saoirse is prettier but I like Laodice a little better. She is intense and fanatically loyal. But they are both lovely girls.

                  My Father also showed up, all smiles, and embarrassed me. Everyone seemed to like him, which is what usually happens. He was quite charming to Jana especially, though he might have back off a bit when he saw my interest. Maybe because of the growling I did? Probably that.

                  We got back and split up for the night, and I attended the Fairlights party with Jana and Jadzia each on an arm, and had a lovely dance with each of them as well. Those were fun. We spent much of the party together, when Jadzia was not using her stealthy skills. It was a magical night.

                  Perhaps a bit too magical. We returned home, I slipped into my shear golden nightgown, and I invited both ladies to my boudoir. We had a night of glorious, fiery passion, the sort one can only have with women in such marvelous physical condition. I was my first time with two partners, but I made it as wonderful for them as possible. In truth, I am still a little wobbly from it, and my legs were not quite convinced to obey me when the time came for getting out of bed. I only wish that the nature of my magic were such that I could use my ability to ignore various aches on myself. Still, totally worth it.

                  It’s a weakness I have. Back at school more than one study partner wound up learning about a great deal more than mathematics on long nights together. I’ve never been a woman to go for trophies, rather a desire to mingle with women I felt a bond with. And in my experience, more often than not they were happy to indulge. And if I might say, I never disappointed.

                  That was then, this is now. Now I have two rather awkward conversations ahead of me. First, I bought them clothes and am putting them up in the family Manse. I have a duty of care. Was sleeping with them a good idea? I am questioning it. And I have not really had time to work out all my feelings. I was, and still am, very attracted to Jadzia. And she has had a few smiles for me, as I have for her this morning. I feel closer to her. I may be feeling something more than just attraction to Jana, but that also may be she is Kernish, which I am curious about, and a fellow Vata. Or maybe the woman she is. I don’t know. She seems warmer too, even in the cold light of morning. This could be a fun experiment for either or both of them, or something meaningful. I don’t know what the future will bring. I am not sure what they are feeling now. They both smile when I meet their eyes. I am not sure what I am feeling now. Everything is jumbled. Their smells and tastes addle my mind.

                  I don’t know I am very fond of both of them.

                  Either way, I am sort of glad Maria found a partner(s) elsewhere. Gives us time to get our head in the game. Awesome night though. Let’s hope it turns out to be a good thing.

                  Hiathas, what did I just do?

                  End Session II

                  Okay, so you probably noticed the second party did not get covered. Well Darcy journals I fear will be rare and I would not expect to see Maria ones, so the dice kind of fell against it this time. As it turned out, Xavian and Pima went to the same party as Darcy and Maria, but Ash’s player had to go early this time, so Ash’s role was not played out. It will be covered first thing next session, but hence their not covering what they got up to at the feast (Which Ash’s player was there for till evening)

                  Darcy and Maria hobnobbed a bit, and wound up joining forces to seduce Saoirse, with Maria assisting Darcy on the roll. So there were actually two three ways that night, Jadzia/Jana/Tanith and Darcy/Maria/Saoirse. All the very best of HBO original series coming at you this time.

                  Significant recurring characters, we met two, Saoirse is an Aldean Sea Folk Warrior Commander, similar to Laodice but much more charismatic and easygoing while Laodice is dark and intense. Richter Nocturna is a Kernish Vata’Sha Warrior, Traveling Noble over ten levels over the PCs at the moment, so for now he won’t be working in tandem. While I plan on keeping Richter higher level then them, I plan to let the PCs close the gap. As they get stronger, they will be like two levels behind not Eleven, and may wind up on some quests with him. Barring something unexpected happening, this story probably won’t be the last time you see the ladies Fairlight either. They have a complicated role to play going ahead.

                  Plenty of social tests, not much else. Jadzia absolutely excelled at stealth in the Fairlight’s party, and Ash had some excellent Deception checks to disguise as a guard. Tanith crushed the social checks, rolling over twenty on some rolls to impress the girls.

                  It was a good session. Let us know what you think. Comments and Questions welcome. Except for a few rare cases, we move to every other week updates, with questions answered in the meantime. See you then.
                  Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 02-25-2018, 12:59 AM.
                  Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                  "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

                    Information gathered, it is time to zero in on the third party and solve the mission. This concludes the opening storyline.

                    Note Ash’s missed the end of the last session. Their journal covers the Feast of Braniel everyone else covered last time. The section at the party with Ash was actually played this session, since the player had to go early. So it is just slightly out of sync with the others regarding the beginning. Well worth reading, of course, Ash has a different perspective from the girls.

                    Also after a long-ish conversation I decided to start doing titles. Titles were added to previous journals as far back as I could

                    Session III

                    The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship Part III

                    Ashlin’s Reports

                    Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent Braniel 2nd

                    Well then, that’s everything for our first job all wrapped up in a bow. I mean, we didn’t get our man, but that’s spy business - oops, sorry, ‘clandestine affairs’. And I know, I know. I should have gotten these turned in to you earlier but surely you didn’t want the girl getting kidnapped on my watch? You know how sorceresses are - a little spite goes a long way in that field, and kidnapping Pima as a way to get back at us meddlers... admit it, it sounds like a sorceress thing to do. Plus, and I totally didn’t just think of this now, maybe she would have kidnapped her in order to not allow Gallaccio or the Fairlights to cover up how she pulled one over on them.

                    But anyway, my report. The Festival went well - I made sure the team had plenty of good things to eat, explained all the fiddly bits to Jana, who’d never seen such a thing, and a great time was had by all. We met Trebizond and Laodice, out and about looking quite well. We also met Saoirse, a seafolk Rose Knight, and Laodice’s ex. She definitely caught our Maria’s eye, and Darcy’s as well. (Foreshadowing!)

                    We ran into Richter, Tanith’s father, as we were out, which was an experience. I felt like I should have been taking notes on the ways he managed to reduce our dignified Tanith to a petulant teenager in a manner of moments, but as I understand there is no short term substitute for the way family can return you to a state of childhood, so even were I to learn his ways, it would take far more time undercover than I would be willing to undergo to exert that kind of control with a single word (it was duckling, by the way).

                    Before long, it was time to prepare for the parties. I made sure Maria had plenty of candied ginger in her pocket, to boost her confidence with regards to Saoirse. As it turns out, she and Darcy and I all ended up at the royal party, as that’s where they expected to find the lovely Rose Knight, and where I followed the Gallaccios. The others (looking quite fetching - Jadzia had on a dress!) went to the Fairlights party.

                    As far as I could tell, Maria and Darcy were both having plenty of luck when I managed to have a stroke of my own. Pima, as it turns out, was quite willing to sneak away from her father’s disapproving gaze. And to be quite open with the random (dashing) young man she decided to spend Braniel’s Night with. Some of it was the usual bragging - her father controls the whole town, you know - and some of the usual ‘I’m not lonely, just have a crazy girlfriend that I totally wanted a break from’. She was also willing to talk about the murder she was wrapped up in, and the fact that her aforementioned girlfriend might very well have committed the murder - but probably not, as the darkspawn was clearly - clearly - sent there to also kill her, and Lenore Silverstream would never do that.

                    So yes, I had a name, the name of an adept, who even her recently-ex girlfriend instantly suspected of being a darkspawn summoning murderer. Even better, when we met up the next day, Jadzia had a face, and Maria had a memory. As it turns out, Maria went to school with Lenore, and they in fact used to be good friends. Jadzia had seen her the night before, having snuck away after noticing that their good host was missing. She’d heard them talking, but only in some other languages. After we’d run through every language any of us knew, we figured it was Old Aldin. Also as important was that Polaris had been holding a knife much like the one Pima’d had at Martaan’s. Suspicious, suspicious.

                    Oh, by the way, it was fairly clear at our meeting that Jana, Jadzia and Tanith had not had lonely nights either. Apparently, with all her guests, Tanith will only need one guest bedroom now. Maybe not even that, if Maria and Darcy continue their Braniel-begun dalliance. Don’t give me that look, I know you were dying to know.

                    Anyway, with what all we learned, Tanith went to talk to the Fairlights, to see if they would let her see the knife. We were somewhat suspicious that having discarded/been discarded by Pima, this Lenore was trying to get another handle on the situation with some sort of mind-influencing knife artifact. As it turns out, we had our order a bit wrong. Lenore had given a knife to both of them, but Polaris had been given hers a while ago, when they had a fling. It was apparently a romantic gift she gave out to lovers. That would have me running away right off the bat, personally. Especially an assassin’s blade like that...

                    After they left, Tanith left Jadzia to watch and follow Polaris. She hadn’t been able to convince Polaris to tell her where Lenore was, but was certain that Polaris would go herself, or at least send a messenger. I went to watch for and follow Pima, in case she did the same. She did, after getting into such a row with her father. Such a dramatic exit too. She started throwing dishes at him, after claiming that her mother and brother had faked their death to get away from him, and when he ducked away, she dove out a window. I really question that girl’s judgment (and don’t you even start about how she slept with me twice).

                    As it turns out, both parties had a similar idea, though I imagine Polaris carried it out with less thrown pottery. It was an exciting time - I couldn’t see Jadzia, she couldn’t see me, it was a whole thing. Polaris got there first and strode in, not even bothering to knock. This disconcerted Pima and gave her pause, but she was not thrown off for long. I was in my guard outfit - by the way, I’m going to need you to do your thing and get Roger in that special place on the guard payroll where his credentials check out but he never gets on any regular patrol schedules. He’s short, dark haired, bearded, with a deep voice. Thanks, you’re a peach!

                    Where was I? Oh yeah, there, in my guard outfit. I tried to put Pima off by going in myself, sneaking once I got there, but that only lasted for so long of an intense conversation in Old Aldin between Polaris and a blonde I vaguely recognized from Maria’s description. I don’t understand all that, but I did catch Pima’s name, and Martaan’s and Tanith’s. Polaris seemed particularly accusative. Eventually, Pima did try to sneak in, and again in an attempt to head her off, I dropped the stealth and declared Lenore under arrest. There were, after all, a number of remnants of clearly formerly animate skeletons that Polaris had done something violent to, and it was, all in all, quite the sorceress’ lair.

                    At that point, Jadzia stepped out, backing up the random guard she didn’t recognize (she is really quite the conscientious citizen) with her bow trained on Lenore. The sorceress opened with a column of flame before getting a railing thrown at her by Polaris and two arrows in quick succession from Jadzia. Lenore decided that discretion was the better part of whatever sorceresses have instead of valor and ran, unleashing a darkfiend at us. We followed her lead, sans the darkfiend, of course.

                    Roger escorted the young Gallaccio home, reading her the riot act on how young ladies of her station should behave, which didn’t include tarrying in the Lower Ward, sneaking into sorceresses’ houses, or yelling quite so loudly. It served well to keep her from paying too much attention to me and thereby connecting me to Alex, and also, I hope, improved her relationship with her father, allowing her to connect with him via complaining about that uppity, know it all guardsman who dared to speak to her in such a way.

                    Then I made my way quickly to the agency. Of course, knowing that there was a darkfiend about, it became our first priority, not to mention wanting to take a look at that house. We all assumed, rightly, that she’d be long gone. The darkfiend turned out to be another like at Martaan’s, though uninjured. I continued to not make the best showing, even with Tanith’s buffs - even when I hit, my knives were no match for their tough hide. Jana, Darcy and Jadzia had it well in hand, however, allowing it to only land one blow in response, which Tanith healed back up in a flash.

                    While we didn’t find her, we found plenty of evidence that she had drawn the Fairlights’ attention to the town, and stirred things up via Pima. It was not the only time she’d done something like that, but merely one in a string of incidents designed to provoke all sorts of minor conflicts. Tanith was pretty sure she could get them to agree to compromise, especially to wipe away the sin of being shown up, as well as for the good of the country, of course. I presume that went well - I was watching over Pima, as previously mentioned. No need for a commendation - that’s just the kind of hero I am.

                    But yes, our first case, all cleared up. I’m sure this has set us up for much future business, we got a lot of good publicity. Saoirse and a couple of other Rose Knights responded to the report of the darkfiend, quite impressed at our work, especially with Darcy. Our clients have every reason to talk us up, and we even got a nemesis! Not bad for our first run of things. Maybe one day I’ll even have your respect, my very greatest spy boss person.

                    Maybe.

                    [Cloven hoof mark]


                    That was entirely unprofessional. But you do know I respect your skills, right?

                    [Mug of beer mark]


                    Of course, most magnificent handler of spies! I just like hearing you say it.

                    [Cloven hoof mark]


                    Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                    (Whispered in Rezean in the Nocturna Estate stables)

                    “Good morning, Salkhi. No, nothing is wrong… quite the contrary. Yes, I know… once again I have failed you. But with the Feast of Braniel over and our first engagement as mediators resolved satisfactorily, there should be no further late evenings in the near future.

                    “So much has happened in the last day! Following our first night of passion together, Jana, Tanith and I ate a leisurely breakfast prior to beginning the day’s work. Tanith hastened to assure the two of us that while she had taken delight in our revels, a continued sexual relationship was in no way required for the two of us to continue to enjoy her hospitality. I confess that I was a bit confused by her need to state this aloud; perhaps she was concerned that I might believe she was using me like a whore? In any case, I assured her that I too had relished the experience, and that I would not be averse to exploring the relationship further. Jana quietly seconded my opinion, but did not say much more.

                    “After breakfast, Tanith, Jana and I met the others at the office. It was a relief to see Maria there; she never returned to the Nocturna estate on the evening of the Feast. It seems that she and Darcy spent the evening together in the company of Saoirse of the Rose Knights. They seem to have enjoyed the experience. Ashlin, on the other hand, had earned the amorous attentions of Pima, daughter of Xavian Gallaccio… though I understand that he was in disguise and did not use his real name. No, I don’t fully understand it either… sometimes he is like the trickster spirits one hears about in tales, unable to ask a simple question and demand an honest reply.

                    “In any case, he did learn something of value through his deceits. Pima spoke at some length about her romantic entanglements, one of which involved a local Adept named Lenore Silverstream. His description of this person matched the woman I had seen speaking with Polaris Fairlight on the previous evening, and what is more… apparently Maria knew this woman from her days at the academy. She was adamant that her friend could not be the nefarious sorceress behind the darkfiend and the sabotage… the rest of us were not so certain of that.

                    “Tanith decided to call once more upon the Fairlights… this time to ask Polaris about the dagger directly. As this could be construed as an aggressive move, both Jana and I opted to join her for her protection. Ashlin, meanwhile, thought his time might be better spent shadowing Pima in the hopes that she might inadvertently give something away about her role in this debacle. Little did we realize at the time that our separate courses would arrive at the same destination a few hours later.

                    “As one might expect, Polaris was reluctant to discuss her past relationship with Lenore Silverstream, and attempted to divert the conversation by acting indignant at our attempts at espionage. She eventually explained that she and Lenore had been lovers once, long ago, and that the dagger I saw on the previous evening had been a gift from Lenore… one which she lavished upon all of her paramours. While it is not unheard of among the clans for a suitor to gift an impressive weapon to their lover, I understand that such an act is quite rare in Aldis City. However, this story did explain why Pima, a recent conquest of Lenore’s, would have had the dagger when we first saw her at Martaan’s house the other day.

                    “Tanith was not satisfied with the information we gained from the conversation, but did not wish to make Polaris Fairlight a true enemy by pushing our advantage further. Instead, she asked me to position myself just outside of the Fairlight estate, noting my success with the previous evening’s stealthy endeavor. She assumed – and quite rightly, as it happened – that either Polaris herself or one of her messengers would travel to see Ms. Silverstream, either to warn her of our investigation or to further her own inquiries into the matter.

                    “I was once again aglow with Tanith’s praise, and resolved not to let her down. Unfortunately, my second attempt at stealth was less successful than my first. Polaris spotted me quickly when she emerged from her home, and upbraided me harshly for my inept espionage. I took her chastisement in stride, and said nothing in my defense. Eventually she grew weary of speaking to me and turned away in disgust. A moment later, I began to follow her. Convinced that she had discovered me and dissuaded me from any further attempts, she did not even look for me. These Aldins know nothing of persistence!

                    “I reached what I presumed to be Ms. Silverstream’s home without being discovered. It would have been difficult if not impossible for me to enter the house unobserved, so I resolved to wait and see what happened. I had not been there long when Pima arrived, also intent upon speaking with Lenore. A man in a guard’s uniform stopped her from entering the house, and went in himself… I seized my chance and slipped in behind him. Unfortunately I lost track of him once inside.

                    “Evidence of sorcery was not difficult to find… a moment after I entered an inert skeleton was hurled into the antechamber magically from an interior room. I rushed to see what was happening, and beheld a large two-level space. Polaris was floating in the middle of the room loudly demanding that Lenore explain her recent actions. Lenore was on the second level balcony caustically rebuffing these demands. I nocked an arrow.

                    “Before I could let it fly, the guard stepped into the light and demanded that the two adepts stand down, claiming that the guards had the house surrounded. I knew for a fact that he was bluffing, and the two women looked skeptical as well, so I decided on the spur of the moment to give his claim a bit more credence. I stood up and loudly proclaimed that the guard spoke truly.

                    “Lenore called down a pillar of flame. Polaris retaliated by hurling a bit of balcony railing at her former lover. I fired two shots at Lenore, striking true both times, before she fled further back on the balcony, spoiling my line of sight. I contemplated giving chase, but a moment later I heard the tell-tale sounds of another darkfiend from deeper within the building. Polaris took this as a sign that she should flee from the room (and, as it turned out, directly into Pima, who had finally worked up the courage to enter the house).

                    “The guard advised that we should leave immediately and return later with reinforcements. He took a very familiar tone, and – perhaps frustrated that my quarry had eluded me – I snapped that I did not know him, and that he consequently had no authority to dictate my actions. Still, his suggestion was prudent, and I followed him out of the building a moment later.

                    “I raced across town to the office, intending to report what I had seen so that we could examine the house before the city guards descended upon it. I discovered much to my surprise that such haste was unnecessary… the guard from the house was already at the office when I arrived. And he was Ashlin. I do not know why Ashlin felt it was necessary to deceive me and make me look like a fool in front of all of our friends, but it soured my mood. I remained quiet for the rest of the meeting and allowed Ashlin to tell the story his way.

                    “We returned to the house in force and engaged the darkfiend in direct combat. Unlike its predecessor, this darkfiend was at full strength when we faced it. Like its predecessor, however, it quickly fell to our combined might. We scoured the house after the fight, and found plenty of evidence that Lenore Silverstream had been sabotaging the negotiations between the Fairlights and the Gallaccios. When the guards arrived, we presented them with this evidence as well as the corpse of the darkfiend. The entire city will be looking for Ms. Silverstream now, though I do not doubt that she will be long gone by now.

                    “With the evidence in hand, we called the quarreling parties back to the bargaining table. They were willing to negotiate when presented with proof of Lenore’s interference, and it seems likely that things will return to normal in Talen’s Crossing. The Fairlights will be allowed to do business there for a nominal fee (paid to the Gallaccios). If dealings are still amicable between the two families in one year’s time, this arrangement might be extended.

                    “And so we went out to celebrate the successful resolution of our first business venture. Tanith offered to buy dinner for everyone again at another fancy restaurant, but I suggested we head to a local tavern. I had heard about this place from Darcy, who claimed that they served airag the equal of any that one might find on the plains of Rezea, and I was eager to test this boast.

                    “I do not know if the airag was as good as Darcy said, but it was certainly a refreshing change from the grape-wine, honey-mead, and grain-beer that is so prevalent in this city. In truth, I… may have had more than was good for me. I was so caught up in the smells and tastes of home that I lost myself in the revelry. The company was certainly pleasant… Tanith and Jana shared my table, and though they were more reserved in their indulgence, both seemed to enjoy the experience.

                    “I did not notice whether Ashlin or Maria found intimate company last night, but Darcy had no shortage of admirers. One was a young Rezean woman, perhaps a year or two older than me. Under other circumstances, I certainly would have spoken with her, if only to hear the language of my homeland spoken by a native once more. Her markings and clothing identified her as a member of Clan Kamala… an honorable if tragic pedigree. She was to be unlucky in love that night, however… Darcy’s other admirer was a bold vata’sha woman who swooped in to claim his attentions before my distant kinswoman could make her intentions known.

                    “My own attentions were entirely absorbed with my two lovely companions. Come now, Salkhi… I have made no secret of my affections for Tanith and Jana of late. And my blood was up from the battle. And the airag was flowing freely. And… and… and it has been so long since I have felt a connection to anyone that… I longed to feel it again. I was perhaps a bit more… aggressive than I have been in the past.

                    “My efforts seem to have borne fruit. The three of us left the tavern together, and were not separated again until after breakfast this morning. As usual, Tanith was exuberant and Jana reserved in the bedroom, but neither lacked passion or affection. This time I fell asleep between the two of them, wrapped in their arms and legs and covered with the thin sheets which are all that is necessary to stave off the chill in this southern land.

                    “When I awoke, they were both still there, breathing softly in their sleep. I lay there for some time, enjoying the nearness and the warmth of them. Of the two of them, Tanith woke first, and sat up, and stretched, which threatened to awake my passions once again… but I somehow managed to restrain myself. Once we were all three awake and somewhat more modestly attired, Tanith had her family’s servants bring us breakfast, and we sat there chatting happily in the morning light.

                    “And yes, dear one, as soon as my own hunger had been sated, I came here to see that your needs had also been met. And you seem well… almost too well, in fact! I cannot have you growing fat and lazy like some of these Aldin horses. Perhaps now that our first commission is concluded, I shall be able to find the time to take you outside of the city walls, and we shall run together. I miss the wind in my hair, and the exhilaration that only a swift gallop can bring.

                    “But I confess… I also relish the thought that following such a ride, I can return here.”


                    Jana’s Letters

                    Dear Mother,

                    Today was another interesting day. It started off with a nice breakfast with Tanith and Jadzia. We were all a little hesitant to talk after last night, but there were shy smiles back and forth so I think everyone enjoyed themselves. After breakfast we met up with the others at the office and Ashlin gave his report on what he found out. He had followed Pima to the Queen’s party and introduced himself as Alex to Pima when he had the chance. They flirted and snuck out early without the father knowing. Amidst other things they also talked and he found out that Pima has a girlfriend in the city named Lenore Silverstream, who is an adept. As it turns out she was a friend of Maria’s from school. “Alex” set up a way to communicate with Pima at a later time or through a proxy by use of a small ribbon worn on one’s collar. We also shared what we had found out about the mysterious woman in red and the dagger that Polaris had. We discussed whether or not the dagger could be enchanted to influence someone’s behavior.

                    After that we split up. Jadzia and I accompanied Tanith on her way to speak to Polaris. We arrived at the Fairlight’s home and Tanith just asked her about the dagger. Anactoria was surprised, as was Polaris, though she was harder to read than her younger lover. Tanith asked to see the knife in question to see if it had any enchantments on it. It did not. Polaris told us that she had received it as a gift a while back. Tanith asked if Lenore gave daggers to all of her lovers, which surprised the pair of woman again. We also asked if Polaris had any way to contact Lenore so we could put her in contact with Maria. She answered that if Lenore wanted to speak to Maria then she would contact her herself. That was not exactly the answer we were looking for. It was obvious that Polaris was playing coy and had no intention of sharing any more information with us than we already knew. So, when we took our leave Tanith asked Jadzia to stay behind and follow Polaris if she went anywhere. We were assuming that she would lead our Rezean friend to Lenore. Unfortunately Polaris spotted Jadzia so our would-be spy admitted that she was going to follow her. Polaris told her off and left, taking a circuitous route through the city. Jadzia followed her unseen to a house. Polaris did not see her the second time.

                    When Tanith and I got back to the office we shared our information. Tanith then asked Ashlin if he would be willing to follow Pima and see where she goes. So, he went to Pima’s house to fine the young woman fighting with her father rather loudly. It ended in some harsh words, thrown crockery and Pima jumping out the window. Ashlin, who was dressed as a city guard, followed Pima to a house. As it turns out it was the same house that Jadzia followed Polaris to. Unfortunately both of my allies were too good at hiding and neither saw the other until they revealed themselves.

                    When Polaris arrived at the house she flung open the doors and marched in. Ashlin and Jadzia followed silently. Ashlin did stop Pima, who had drawn the assassin’s dagger from her belt, from going in before the upset girl could walk in on what was likely to be an argument or worse. When my allies got inside they found Polaris floating in midair, arguing with Lenore in Old Aldin. Jadzia confirmed that she was the woman from party. As they entered a skeleton came flying out of the parlor and into the entranceway. There were two more armed skeletons lying on the floor near Polaris. After a moment Ashlin stepped out of the shadows and “arrested” Lenore on suspicion of summoning a darkfiend. Jadzia stepped out to back him up, though at the time she didn’t realize it was Ashlin. His disguise was very good. Lenore replied by throwing a column of fire at the three people on the first floor. Ashlin’s clothes caught fire. I can relate. I have been set on fire before while pursuing adepts that were trying to escape Kern. I will give them credit. They fought to the last and went down hard. Marcus and I were both bleeding and burned after that fight. That was before either of us knew that the other wanted to leave the country. We did our duty to protect ourselves from being found out. I look back at that day and wish I’d known about Marcus’s leanings. Those adepts could have survived. It had just been me and Marcus, and we could have let them go. We had the injuries to prove that we did our best to stop them. I’m sure we would have been reprimanded for letting them get away, but it would have been worth it. If only we had known.

                    Anyway, Polaris used her powers to put out the fire that was threatening Ashlin while Jadzia fired a couple of arrows at the fleeing Lenore. Polaris also used magic to throw a piece of the railing at her former lover. My allies were about to give chase when they heard the roar of another darkfiend coming. Ashlin yelled for everyone to run and made sure that everyone made it out of the building. After they got out of the building they split up. It seemed that the darkfiend was going to stay indoors which was just fine by them. Ashlin, in his guard disguise, escorted Pima back to her house lecturing her the entire way about not walking into trouble and choosing better friends. She mostly tuned him out which was probably what he was going for in the first place.

                    Jadzia made her way back to the office and met up with Ashlin as he arrived as well. Jadzia was a little annoyed at first that she had not recognized him at first due to his disguise, but she got over it quickly. Between the two of them they recounted what had happened at Lenore’s house and we all grabbed our gear and headed back to take care of the darkfiend. The lot of us managed to attack it from stealth. After that it went after a few of us; mainly me. I managed to hit it a few times and it did not look kindly on that. It went after Darcy as well. Tanith, as has become usual, stayed to the back and aided us by enhancing our strength and speed. Ashlin threw daggers at it and Jadzia shot it repeatedly with her bow. It didn’t take long to defeat it with all of us attacking it.

                    After we felled the beast we searched the house and found evidence that Lenore had killed Martaan and was working to destabilize the area by provoking arguments and fights between minor groups. This included the Fairlights and Gallaccios. Ashlin left for a short while to summon the city guard. After all that the downside to Tanith’s magicks reared its head and I felt truly exhausted. I still helped Jadzia drag the darkfiend into the street so that we could burn it though. The guards, including Saoirse, arrived and thanked us for taking care of the darkfiend. We shared the information that had been found that proved Lenore had been using sorcery and had in fact killed Martaan. There was correspondence between Lenore and Pima among the documents we found so it is likely that the young lady will be answering some questions from the city guards in the near future.

                    After all the excitement Tanith was keen on healing what little injury the darkfiend did to me. And as we started walking back to the office Jadzia noticed my fatigue and hopped down from her horse and then single handedly put me on her horse’s back. She warned me not to pull on the mane too hard and to just grip with my knees. I’ve never been on a horse without a saddle and bridle. It was a different experience. I will admit to being a little surprised over their actions. I was fine to walk back to the office. I wouldn’t be winning any races given how tired I was, but I was capable of walking back. In Kern we were frequently pushed until we collapsed, so I’m aware of how far I can go before I fall down. I suppose that it was rather nice of Jadzia to give up her mount to me because she noticed that I was tired. I just didn’t expect it.

                    We had only been back to the office for a short time before Saorise came by to give us an update. The guards have looked and could not find Lenore, but they will keep searching for her. We thanked her for the update and she took her leave. After we changed clothes, if needs be, we all went out for dinner per Tanith’s idea. Our host seems to like to entertain and I didn’t want to be rude and refuse. I will pay her back for her kindness, somehow.

                    After dinner we decided to gather up the quarrelling groups and let them know what we had found out and see if we could broker a deal between them. While we went back to the office. Ashlin went to go put his “Alex” disguise on and see about spending time with Pima while her father was out. It was only a short while before the Fairlights and Xavian arrived at our office and we started talking. Tanith and Darcy worked together to inform our guests what we had found out about Lenore’s activities and what she had done to each of them. We managed to get them to work out a deal that allowed the Fairlights to do business in Talen’s Crossing, but they would pay a small fee to Xavian for allowing them to do business in his town.

                    Once the negotiations were done we decided to go out to a tavern to celebrate the conclusion of our first negotiation job. It was fun. I will admit that it was a nice change to go to a tavern and see people celebrating and just having a good time. Most taverns in Kern people are there trying to drink away their troubles. It doesn’t really work that way unfortunately. Your troubles are still there when you get sober. And depending on what you did or didn’t do they could be worse. Anyway, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Jadzia was drinking some Rezean drink that didn’t look like it would taste good, but she sure seemed to enjoy it. She flirted with Tanith and I, and there were flirts and coy smiles all around. Darcy was also in his cups and having a good time. At one point he got up and sang and danced around the room. He was heavily flirting with a couple of women, one of whom went home with him at the end of the night. After we left the tavern, Jadzia, Tanith and I headed back to Tanith’s house. We spent another enjoyable night together. I feel close to these two women like I haven’t in a long time. I guess time will tell what happens next.

                    Love Always,

                    Jana


                    Dear Marcus,

                    Again, I know that you will not ever get this message but I wanted to share some things with you regardless. You have been my confidant of late and the only one I knew I could trust. I believe that the number of people that I can trust is increasing, but I’m still wary. I can’t shake a lifetime of caution over a few days of nice behavior. Darcy has continued to surprise me. He is a very vibrant person in dress and personality and honestly appears to want to do what is right by the people. Ashlin is more of a mystery. He is very good at assuming other identities, which is a handy skill to have. He is able to not only change his appearance but his mannerisms as well. He always seems to be friendly and approachable, though I’m sure that there is a harder face that he wears on occasion. We all have one. Maria has been her usual steadfast self. I still haven’t told her about that lab, but I will. I promise. Tanith seems to be what she appears to be on the outside. There is some kind of trust there, even if it is tentative. I have slept with her for the past two nights so I must trust her to some extent. The same goes for Jadzia. She tends to be rather straightforward and actually instigated things tonight. I think she was in her cups and it helped loosen her tongue and inhibitions. And neither woman has asked for anything in return. Tanith has made it very clear that she is not requiring me to sleep with her as payment for housing and feeding me. She is just interested in me and wanted to express that. I guess it kind of hit me tonight. I am free from Kern. As I lay with these two women, long after they had fallen asleep, my mind was racing and tears were streaming down my face. I hadn’t even allowed myself to dream of this day because the likelihood of it happening was so slim. But I’m really free.

                    Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop and take it all back, but I remain hopeful that this life I’ve been living for the past few days will continue apace and unchanged. It’s almost like a dream. The food is plentiful, the weather is mild, and the people are blissfully ignorant of the darker side of life. Well, it appears that way at a glance. There is darkness everywhere, I just haven’t seen it here yet. The difference here is that it’s not all pervasive. In Kern things are reversed. You have to look hard to find the goodness and light amidst the dark. People are not selfless unless they have nothing left to lose.

                    I’m sure that it’s going to be a little while longer before I have fully gotten used to life in Aldis. It’s so different here. I have only seen one body and that was a man killed by a darkfiend. That in and of itself is nothing new, but the fact that I was allowed to kill the darkfiend that killed him was new. It was encouraged even. Killing it served the greater good. For the people, not for any agenda or orders. The first time I attacked the darkfiend I hesitated. I wasn’t used to being allowed to fight them Usually they are summoned for a reason, to serve some purpose of the regents. These two were summoned by a woman whose intentions we have not fully discovered. Why did she summon darkfiends to kill Martaan and try to kill us? That can be easily achieved by other means. She has daggers, she could have just used one, or paid someone else to do it. She had to have known that she’d be discovered sooner or later. With summoners being in the distinct minority around here, it stood to reason that it would come back to her eventually. I don’t know. She is a mystery for another day.

                    Forgive me for going on about all of that. I do hope that you can join me soon. There are wonders here that I want to share with you.

                    Yours Always,

                    Jana


                    Tanith’s Diary

                    Success! We have rooted out the third party who was trying to agitate in Talen’s Crossing. A woman named Lenore Silverstream, an old classmate of Maria’s, seemed to be the cause of the issue. A Sorceress, she was an ex of Polaris Fairlight and was involved with Pima Gallaccio, and seems intent on starting unrest in Aldis for some greater plan. We may be locking horns with her again as she escaped.

                    We met to compare notes from the Night of the Feast of Braniel. Not much other job related stuff, but Ash got a name for someone Pima was seeing: the aforementioned Lenore Silverstream. We decided to go confront the Fairlights. I took Jadzia and Jana with me this time to be safe. Meanwhile Ash was dispatched to keep an eye on Pima and follow her if the opportunity presented itself. Darcy and Maria held down the fort. I think they hooked up last night, with Saoirse, so maybe they had stuff to discuss anyway.

                    In a word, the Fairlights were cagy. Polaris admitted Lenore was an ex, and said she confronted her over the dagger based on descriptions she had received of Pima having one, not out of jealousy but suspicion. She was disinclined to give us any information about where Lenore could be found. Anactoria was nice and slightly flirty as always, but volunteered nothing either. I checked to see if the dagger was magical, a theory Lenore could have been influencing Polaris and Pima with it, but she wasn’t. I did note when using Second Sight that the Fairlights were in psychic contact. Of course.

                    We headed out. Given Jadzia’s skill at being unseen at the party I asked her linger, and Jana and I headed back. There was a lack of carnality at the office, which is good. Our fourth day open is a bit soon to defile one of the offices. From there it was a waiting game, and after awhile Jadzia and Ash returned at the same time, with a tale to tell.

                    Jadzia had followed Polaris out without being seen, to Lenore’s house. Ash, disguised as a guard, arrived at the house the Gallaccios were using in time to overhear a heated exchange between Pima and Xavian. Ash seemed to have a bit more insight into their issues than they seemed inclined to explain. I’d shake my head at all this had I not seduced two of my colleagues myself. Anyway Pima escalated to hurling dishware, and when Xavian retreated leapt out the window and fled the house. The end result was Polaris arriving at the house in the Lower Ward Lenore was using just ahead of Pima, and Ash and Jadzia arriving near the same time, though Ash did not see Jadzia and Jadzia did not recognize Ash.

                    They went in to find Polaris had destroyed several skeletons psychically and was floating and having an argument with Lenore. The Sorceress was on a balcony, arguing in Old Aldin, which was apparently what they were arguing in last night. Ash revealed themselves and Jadzia also showed herself, to which Lenore responded by dropping a column of flame on all three. Jadzia shot her twice with arrows and Polaris psychically hurled a chunk of railing at her, so she retreated. The trio heard something large coming and decided to flee themselves, with some miscommunication between Ash and Jadzia. Still they all got out, though Polaris in her fleeing apparently collided with Pima at the front door, leaving the two a tangle of limbs. Ash, still a guard, took Pima home, and Jadzia shadowed Polaris back to her house.

                    They reported back, and we mobilized and headed out there. There was a second Soldier inside, but this time we managed to get an ambush off. It managed to hurt Jana slightly but I healed her. Otherwise we simply moved in and pounded the creature; Jana and Darcy went toe to toe while Jadzia and Ash attacked from a range and I boosted people’s Dexterity and Strength while healing. When it was dead we searched the house and alerted the guard, who arrived with Knights of the Blue Rose in tow, including Saoirse. Darcy took point in talking to her. Lenore had fled; Maria was unable to find her.

                    As I noted we found evidence of Lenore’s plans to destabilize Aldis, and we reported that night our findings to Xavian and the Gallaccios. Ash, ah, “guarded” Pima who was left at home. Lucky them. Anyway, the sides got a lot more willing to negotiate. We don’t have specifics drawn up but should be a matter of time. More worrying is Lenore escaping. We will see her again.

                    On the personal front things have gone well. Jadzia, Jana and I are affectionate with each other. The girls seemed fine at breakfast, and Jadzia went out of her way to let me know she had a good time; uncharacteristically chatty of her. Jana kept her own council, but said she enjoyed it went directly asked. There is a lot going on behind her eyes; I am sensing some struggling behind the surface. Regardless long as I am involved with these girls I want them happy and content, so I will do what I can.

                    The party after at the bar was nice. Jadzia was actually rather forward. I decided it was a good time to celebrate with these lovely ladies. Maria was not up for a private party, apparently. Ash was still “Guarding” and Darcy was doing a round of singing and dancing which turned a few female heads, including a Vata’Sha rogue I think he went home with.

                    As for us, we went back to my room and had a few glasses, and navels, of Champaign. It was a lovely night, and I feel a lot better about things than yesterday. Jadzia has really made her feelings known. I am not sure where things will go with Jana once she has worked her feelings out, but I will support her whether as a friend of a lover.

                    Been a successful week, and I still have beautiful women in my bed. Here is hoping this is a glimpse at the future.

                    End Session III

                    The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship Completed

                    So the way Lenore’s lair was laid out, there was an opening hallway and side rooms, for facing four skeletons armed with bows. The idea was everyone would potentially have cover and rushing the skeletos in the rooms further down the hall would be an option. Then the big central round room with a round balcony above and a Darkfiend with Lenore Silverstream able to attack from above. However, the plan was when Lenore saw Maria Highmore there would be a chance to argue between them, and then unless Maria really, really said the wrong thing Lenore would quit the field.

                    What happed was Polaris Fairlight, an Adept significantly higher level than the PCs (and higher level than Lenore, who was higher than the PCs but not as much so) flew in and tore up the Skeletons. She confronted Lenore, and between her psychically hurling the chunk of balcony and Jadzia shooting her twice, Lenore lost well over a third of her health almost instantly, and fled. I had Polaris flee rather than rob the rest of the party of any chance at a second combat scene, and the group returned and fought the Soldier Darkfiend, who was full power this time. Several of them got surprise on it, though, and I think it attacked once before going down.

                    Tanith Nocturna has been doing pretty well on her social checks, but came up well short of convincing Polaris to give up Lenore’s location. Jadzia was easily seen by Polaris the first time she went out, but when she tried to lose Jadzia (which was not happening, given Jadzia’s horsemanship the result was she failed to spot Jadzia on her tail, and lead Jadzia to the house. Ashlin’s rolls generally fared better, and Pima Gallaccio was fooled completely by each disguise and stayed in the palm of their hand. Admittedly she was not so canny as Polaris.

                    So on the whole not precisely what I had planned but it worked out.

                    Next session we begin “The Magnificent Seven” as we tell a story very different than the one we just told., as the PCs and a ranger work to save a town from a Shadowspawn backed group of bandits. I hope you have enjoyed the sessions so far. We have a very interesting group; the vocal and boisterous Darcy and Maria, the mysterious and cunning Ashlin and Tanith, the reserved and intense Jadzia and Jana. The three humans could not be more different, while the two Vata’Sha represent starkly different backstories. But they get along and have started hooking up already. Anyway, Hope you have enjoyed it, would love to hear what you think, comments and questions welcome.
                    Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 03-02-2018, 03:23 AM.
                    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                    "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

                      It’s time to start on a new storyline! Moving from solving mysteries to defending towns. Got to keep people busy.

                      Session IV

                      The Magnificent Seven Part I

                      Ashlin’s Reports

                      Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 30th Braniel

                      So, lemme just get this out of the way. I know, I know, I said I would be home in time for Uncle Johnny’s birthday. But, you see, I’m in Rosette, last minute, couldn’t say no, probably not gonna make it back in time.

                      It is lovely countryside though, lightly wooded hills with a network of rivers. You’ll find it up there on the northeastern section of your map - no, not that one, the other, prettier one. Go ahead and find it. I’ll wait.

                      Anyways, now that you’ve got all the context, we might be tied up here a little bit. We were just getting wrapped up in Carver’s Mill, dotting those ‘t’s and crossing those ‘i’s, like we do, when Jana strolled in to let us know the town had received a visitor, a brave young lady named Wren Harding, who had been exhausting herself riding town to town to get back up for a small town called Rosette, who was plagued by a large mixed group of bandits, made up of humans, night people, and ogres. Her partner Marcellus had made a beeline for the nearest Rose Knights, but they were 5 days ride away, so she was trying to gather folks to help them hold out.

                      We did some theorizing about why they were attacking this small town on the way up, largely revolving around its out of the way and well fortified nature. That was promising - its easier to defend a town that the attackers want to keep intact - but we got what is most likely the real story very early on. Pretty much right after the late morning nap we took after riding through the night. As it turns out, the Adept in the town, one Messier, had died just a short time before, suspiciously, and her apprentice had been taking on her duties. Bellatrix, the beautiful and deadly looking Sheriff of the town, had been forced to drop the investigation with the convenient arrival of the bandit group. That seemed like it was one confrontation away from uncovering a traitor in our midst, but just you wait - chapter two is amazing.

                      Just kidding. As it turns out, Messier actually was (probably, according to Tanith) killed by Betelgeuse, her apprentice, but it happened because Betelgeuse had discovered that the Adept had been dabbling in the shadow arts. She had the evidence of such stashed away in her basement - artifacts, books, maps, the like - and so it seemed likely they were here for that.

                      The town was very defensible, set on one of the more prominent hills, with wooden halls just about as tall as the top of your average ogre’s head. The townsfolk were more prepared that we’d expected. Bellatrix had served in the army, her far more talkative probably-partner Aldebaran (a striking man with the most intriguing beard) told us. She, according to Jadzia, was clearly a master of the polearm, and had trained a good number of folks in the town. The biggest weakness was the river running through town, not even a grate blocking the flow through. Jadzia was on top of it though, and set the blacksmith to putting together a makeshift one, at least.

                      So, the plan: well, my first plan was to sneak in (or convince Jadzia to sneak in) and soften them up with poisons before any big offensives. I made sure to pick up some of the more garden variety of those at Carver’s Mill. First though, we needed to get the lay of the land, and what better way to do that than to ambush the ambushers. See, the bandits had been whittling away at the town’s hunters, stopping them from gathering fresh meat or escaping to get help. Our new friend Wren is very sneaky - I like it. Anyway, we decided to throw that back at them, and hopefully take a prisoner or two.

                      The ambushers were a quintet of night people, an ogre, and a human archer. Man, ogres are scary, scary bastards. Thankfully, I managed to leap off Jadzia’s horse (like a complete badass, I might add) onto a hunting stand the archer was using. I was followed by two quick arrow, which dealt with the archer, so I got to toss knives around with reckless abandon, as is my wont, as you know. Also thankfully, Jana got all up in the ogre’s face, and he didn’t have eyes for anyone else.

                      The team worked together well, taking the night people down one by one while Jana went toe to toe with the ogre. The lightning storm that sprung up as we fought helped out a little too, blinding only half of us, and all of them whenever the lightning struck. It wasn’t too long before only one night person was left, and he very wisely surrendered.

                      His name is Hegick, Tanith cleverly found while we shifted the bodies away from where their friends might come looking for them. She made a hell of an impression on him - I think he may very well turn over a whole new leaf. Tanith is quite skilled in her interrogations – she could give Brother Tamrien a run for his money. Winning hearts and minds and all that. He certainly was alright answering questions, and hung on Tanith’s every word.

                      According to him, Gnaag was their leader, a particularly smart (for an ogre) specimen of leadership. He was working for some other, unknown unto Hegick, party, who was trying to build a warband, and wanted all the shadow tainted artifacts and books he could get to trade to other folks in the Golgun Badlands. Gnaag, or this mysterious leader, or someone else even, had a vision about the artifacts in the recently deceased Adept’s keeping, so here they were.

                      Hegick didn’t have a great grasp of numbers, just knowing that there were “lots” of people in the forward raiding camp. He did know there were 3 ogres. And that this was just the forward party - Gnaag, and the bulk of their force, were camped a few days away, waiting until the town was softened up by tension and lack of fresh meat. We spent most of the walk back to town debating our next move. Well, our very next move was fairly set - get eyes on that forward camp. But after that... well, like I said, there was some debate.

                      We seemed to have a number of branching paths. First, what to do with the camp. Jadzia wasn’t happy about it, but she wasn’t going to make a fuss about the poison as an initial sabotage plan. After that, we were pretty set on finishing off the camp, with two thoughts as to how. One, we could just ambush them there, strike at their camp, finish them off, maybe with some town volunteers - Betelgeuse’s water elemental would be handy, as Hegick reported they were camped on the bank of a river. Two, we could goad them into attacking the town head on, orders and strategy be damned. Most likely safer, but could result in more damage to town/non-volunteered townsfolk.

                      Second, there was what to do about Mr. Gnaag himself. The options were similar. One was to goad him into attacking the town without his raiding camp reinforcements, and hope the fortifications hold. That plan has the benefit of giving us the opportunity to bring the career of an intelligent ogre warlord to a premature end, but the decided downside that it almost certainly would result in casualties. The other plan was to convince him he ought retreat, and just alert the Rose Knights and the Sovereign’s Finest. Bonus points if we could delay his leaving, or possibly even follow him, so they would have a good fresh trail to follow. We didn't decide then, but we were all inclined to not endanger the townspeople any more than absolutely necessary.

                      We weren’t able to come to a final agreement as to the first path, so we decided to make the decision based on what Jadzia and Wren found when they scouted the path. They were supposed to poison the supplies while they were there, but Jadzia modified the plan once they show just how close the camp was to the river. Knowing Maria’s powers, our wise scout decided that flooding the place would be a much more effective weakening strike. Not only would this reduce their numbers (25!) and ruin their supplies, it likely would make them scatter to forage, where we could continue to pick them off. At least, we hope that would be the outcome - attacking the town was an option, but a risky one, and returning to Gnaag was another, but it seemed unlikely they’d receive a warm welcome if they told their warlord they’d retreated from some water.


                      Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                      (Whispered almost silently in Rezean in the woods of Northeastern Aldis)

                      “There now, brave one… I told you that there were adventures to be had in this strange land. Now that you have had a taste of blood and battle, perhaps you will no longer believe that Aldis is all sweet hay and oats, eh?

                      “No, we were not supposed to come to this place… after settling matters in Carver’s Mill, we were meant to head back to the City and the Nocturna estate. But the pretty young ranger, Wren, approached us as our business there was concluding and asked for our help. She told a tale of woe… of the small town of Rosette, besieged by bandits and shadowspawn. Tanith, always determined to do good in this world, decided that we should make the journey without delay.

                      “We rode through the night and arrived in Rosette at daybreak. I was not expecting much, personally… I have seen enough of these small communities in the last month that I thought I knew what to expect. Apparently Rosette is close enough to the Wild that its citizens are more cautious than most. The town is situated on the side of a small hill, and is surrounded on all sides by a wooden palisade, at least ten feet tall at any given point. Ordinarily this would be a formidable defense, but according to Wren the approaching bandit horde includes several ogres, who are easily capable of reaching over such a barricade from a standing position.

                      “The people of Rosette were another pleasant surprise… I had been expecting the indolence typical of the inhabitants of this peaceful nation, yet what I found was a remarkably disciplined amateur fighting unit. Bellatrix, the town’s sheriff, has been drilling the locals in defensive techniques. She is concentrating on the use of polearms, which is fitting considering the people’s intention of defending the town from its low walls. It is a good plan, and I only made one suggestion for its improvement. The town includes a sizeable population of hunters, who possess varying levels of skill with the bow. I suggested that they hone those skills, in the hopes of reducing their enemies’ numbers before they even reach the walls. Bellatrix approved of this suggestion and added it to her training rota.

                      “The walls themselves had two weak points. A stream flows through the town, and there are culverts to allow it to enter and leave the area. These portals are watched at all times, of course, but still mark points at which the enemy could force entry. I suggested that the townspeople have their local blacksmiths create bars which could be set within the streambeds and the walls. This would allow the water to flow uninterrupted, but would force the enemy to at least pause in their attempts to enter. Such preparations would also be ideal for a defense mounted with long pikes.

                      “While I was inspecting the defenses, the others were speaking with the town’s other inhabitants. Their local adept, one Messier, was killed recently… most likely by her apprentice Betelgeuse, according to Tanith and the others. Messier was dabbling in sorcery, which is probably what attracted the shadowspawn to the town in the first place. Betelgeuse may have killed her mentor because of this transgression… or she may simply have hoped to gain Messier’s power for herself. I shall reserve judgment for the present.

                      “We rested for the rest of the day, taking four rooms at the inn. Jana and I agreed that one of us should stay with Tanith for her protection, and I ceded the duty to her. Do not whicker so at me, Salkhi… I know that the three of us shall once again be in each others’ arms when we return to the estate. I shared a room with Ashlin, while Darcy and Maria took a third, and Wren the fourth.

                      “When we had rested sufficiently, we discussed our next move. The bandits had split into three groups. The largest, led by an ogre warlord named Gnaag, was camped several days away. They had left a smaller band camped by a river in the general vicinity so that they could continue to menace Rosette effectively. Finally, a small raiding party had bivouacked in the local woods to prevent the town’s hunters from gathering sustenance. It was with this smallest group that we decided to begin, hoping to gain information about the larger bands before we encountered them.

                      “I need not speak to you of the fight, swift one… you were there with me, and you were magnificent! An ogre, five night people, and a lone human in a tree! Ashlin leaping from your back into the sniper’s nest, only to find him dead already, pierced by arrows from both my bow and Wren’s! Jana, facing down the monstrous brute by herself, keeping its attention solely on her… did she not look magnificent in her new armor? Tanith, lending strength and healing where needed to keep the rest of us in top fighting condition! Darcy, facing down the rest of the band, whirling this way and that, dealing death and pain with every blow!

                      “And of course, in the face of such magnificence, you and I could hardly afford to disappoint, dear one. As the throngs of friends and foes whirled about each other, I realized that my bow would be nearly useless in that dark, stormy forest… even my aim might falter in such an environment, and I could have hurt one of my friends as a result. So I drew my swords. It has been too long since they tasted the blood of a foe, but tonight they drank well… as did your hooves.

                      “There was only one survivor among the bandits… a night person named Hegick. He fell victim to Tanith’s charms, and is obviously somewhat enamored of her. He has vowed to turn over a new leaf. We shall see what comes of that; I have my doubts that he will be quite so committed to his new life once out of Tanith’s presence. But for the time being, he has been very helpful and has given us a good deal of useful information about his former comrades.

                      “Their camp is just over that rise. Wren and I have just returned from a small scouting mission, which is why I had to leave you in the care of my friends. Ashlin wanted us to poison their supplies, and in fact we had even gathered a small amount of poison from the local farmers, who use it to dispose of pests. I was… not happy with that plan, as it seemed both dishonorable and lacking in the potential for glory. We are more than a match for those bandits on our own.

                      “There is, however, no dishonor in using the terrain against one’s foes, and an alternative solution presented itself with a little reflection. The bandits have camped near a stream, which is only sensible. With Maria on our side, however, that water becomes a weapon. She should be able to raise the level of the water enough to wash out our enemies’ supplies and destroy the camp. Following this event, the remaining bandits will likely either scatter (allowing us to pick them off one at a time), attack the town without their full strength (allowing us to defeat them much more easily), or retreat to Gnaag (who will likely treat them less than gently in retaliation for their cowardice).

                      “Even now Maria gathers her strength, and the others are preparing for combat in their own ways. As you well know, I am always ready for combat. Do not fret, dear one… this is going to be glorious.”


                      Jana’s Journal

                      Dear Mother,

                      I’m sorry for not writing more often, but not a lot has been happening for the past month or so. Things changed today though. We were just finishing up a negotiation in a town called Carver’s Mill when Jadzia and I were approached by a young woman who looked to be a scout of sorts. She came to us because we were both armed and armored and she needed help. Apparently the town that she frequents has been under attack by bandits and Shadowspawn. Wren, the scout, said that there were Ogres and Night People attacking hunters when they went out to look for quarry. She also had a partner named Marcellus who is on his way to another town to get help. The only problem is that other town is five days away by horseback. The town needed help now. So, I went into the Great Hall to tell Tanith what was going on and she and the others agreed that we should help. We just asked that the young lady wait until our negotiations in this town had been completed before we planned to set out this evening for the town of Rosette. We are about to leave. I will continue this letter later.

                      Love always,

                      Jana


                      Dear Mother,

                      We arrived in the town of Rosette just before sunrise. Wren introduced us to the town mayor, a man named Aldebaran, and the sheriff, Bellatrix. After talking with them we realized that there are more than just problems with bandits going on here. The town’s adept, a woman named Messier, was killed recently. Or at least turned up dead. The apprentice, Betelgeuse, told the sheriff not to investigate too closely. After resting for a short time, we started asking around town to see what kind of defenses, besides the palisade, they had. Jadzia talked to Bellatrix and found out that a good number of the townspeople have been trained to use polearms and most of the hunters are proficient with a bow. She also found out that there is a river that runs through town and an opening in the palisade for it to come in and to leave. Jadzia suggested that they have their blacksmith fashion a grating to put over the entrance and exit just so someone can’t sneak into the town that way. Ash and I also walked around the walls to see what kind of place we were looking at defending. While we were doing that, Darcy, Tanith and Maria were talking to the apprentice. They asked her if the bandits showing up coincided with the death of the adept. She said “No,” but they determined pretty quickly that she was lying. They eventually got the truth out of her. Tanith worked her verbal “magic” and Betelgeuse shared her thoughts.

                      They found out that the adept had been practicing sorcery, or at least Betelgeuse determined that she had been based on implements and writings she found. The sorcery paraphernalia she hid under the house. She thought that it came from a nearby tomb that belonged to an old sorcerer king from years back. Betelgeuse believed that the bandits and shadowspawn were coming to town to retrieve those same items that the adept had stolen. There was also some speculation that the apprentice is the one that killed the adept. It would make sense given that she doesn’t want the sheriff looking into the death too closely. This whole situation is bad. Anything taken from a sorcerer king’s tomb has got to be powerful and shadow tainted. It can only mean bad things are coming.

                      After all of that we gathered together to go over our options. We found out that the bandits had a small camp set up near the town and a bigger, less temporary, one further away. We decided to pay a visit to the closer camp and take care of the scouts that were watching the town and killing the hunters. By the time we got around to actually leaving to go find the bandit camp it was already getting dark. That suited us fine as it would cover our approach to some extent. The only problem was that a thunderstorm was rolling in around the same time. We needed to be quick. I didn’t fancy getting struck by lightning in the middle of the forest. So, we rode into the middle of the camp and caught them by surprise. Most of the bandits, Night People, and the ogre were on the ground. They did have one archer up in a hunting stand. Jadzia rode straight in with Ashlin on the back of her horse. The rest of us had dismounted to approach the camp on foot. Jadzia shot the archer from horse back and Ashlin leapt from the horse to the tree stand easily. He was climbing to engage the archer with his daggers when Wren also shot the archer with her own bow and killed him. Ashlin took the stand for his own and threw daggers with deadly accuracy at targets on the ground.

                      The ogre was my sole target. I made my way straight for him and attacked him in short order. Darcy started off helping me, but soon realized that his attentions were needed elsewhere. There were too many Night People and they were starting to try and gang up on people. So, he started attacking them. Tanith used her abilities to heal Darcy after the Ogre hit him and she healed me as much as she could during my fight with the ogre. I made sure to taunt and intimidate the ogre into attacking me solely. I recently got a set of heavy armor and knew that I could withstand a lot more punishment from the ogre than my friends could. So, I annoyed him into focusing his attentions on me. I don’t regret my decision but will admit that some of his strikes landed a little harder than others and I was starting to get rather sore and bloody by the end of the fight. Which just means more scars. Tanith seems fascinated by my scars and Jadzia takes them in stride, so I know that the addition of a couple more will not bother them. They don’t bother me at all and I usually forget that they’re there. Other people tend to stare though. When we first got together as a group and we went to the spa I got more than a couple looks because of the marks on my body. I guess it never really occurred to me that they would be out of the ordinary. Everyone in Kern has scars of some kind. The worst ones are always the ones you can’t see though.

                      Anyway, after I engaged the ogre my attention was solely on him so I’m not sure exactly what else was going on. I know Jadzia stayed on horseback and pulled out her sabers. I remember seeing them flash in the firelight, but I didn’t pay attention to her targets. Well, I should say I didn’t pay attention to them until they started making me their target. Then I noticed them. The others were quick to keep them off of me though, which I appreciated. Ashlin was making short work of the Night People from his perch up in the tree. I did see one of them go down with a dagger in his chest courtesy of our own personal rogue. At one point in the fight the feared lightning struck nearby and the flash was blinding, literally. It managed to blind me, Darcy and Tanith and most of the enemy. I couldn’t really see the ogre, but he was a big enough target that I managed to keep hitting him regardless of the momentary blindness. He managed to hit me too, which was not as good. I did manage to keep his attention focused on me though, so he wasn’t hurting anyone else.

                      Near the end of the fight Tanith even got in on the combat. She swung her staff at one of the Night People and knocked him out. Her second attack didn’t go as well, but that’s okay. Her first attack was good enough and we didn’t have to worry about that guy attacking anyone else. She is not a warrior. She is not trained like the rest of us were, to varying degrees. She does something that I could never do though. She talks to people and they listen to her. She sways their minds and gets them to see reason where before only emotions ruled the situation. I am not good at swaying anyone’s opinion save with a sword, and that is not really the best way to get to a peaceful resolution. Darcy is an interesting mix of both. He is a rather charismatic man and he is handy to have in a fight. He may not use weapons, but he is effective nonetheless.

                      In the end we left one Night Person standing. Well, kneeling in surrender on the forest floor, but it amounted to the same thing. His name was Hegick and after a short conversation with Tanith he was quite smitten with her and willing to tell us everything that we wanted to know. It appears that the leader of the bandits is an ogre named Gnaag. He was not the one that I took down. Gnaag is at another of the bandit’s camps. This one several days away. There is also one closer that they are staging their attacks on Rosette out of. Gnaag it seems is after at least some of the sorcery items that the town’s adept had taken from the tomb. It sounds like he wants to use them to trade for help in the Golgon Badlands. After a brief talk our next plan was to deal with the camp close to us before going after Gnaag.

                      There were several ideas thrown about on what we should do with the bandit camp. The first idea was to send in a couple of people proficient at remaining hidden, such as Jadzia and Ashlin and poison their food and drink. We had already acquired some poison from the town before we left. I think Ashlin had this idea in mind for a while. On the plus side this would take out some of their number before they caught on to what was going on, which would be a good thing. Hegick said that there were three more ogres and lot of others. More than ten. He was not great at counting.

                      Another plan that we came up with was to issue a challenge to the bandits and draw them out that way. It was suggested that we post the dead ogre’s head on a spike and get them to attack the city where we had good defenses and additional fighters. Some thought that this plan would put the townsfolk at too much of a risk so I don’t think it was taken too seriously.

                      In the end we sent Jadzia and Wren to go spy on the bandits’ camp and see what the situation looked like there. They came back a few minutes later with the news that there were in fact three more ogres, ten more Night People and twelve humans. That was a substantial group of combatants. They also made note that a river ran right next to the camp and that if Maria could use her magicks to control the water we could flood them out and possibly lessen some of those numbers. Anything that could take out some of the enemy would be a good thing. I don’t know if were going to enlist the help of any volunteers from town to help take out the bandit camp or not. If we do not, we will need to whittle down their numbers as much as we can before we engage them. Just taking down the one ogre was hard work, not to mention all the other combatants. If we had to deal with three ogres I’m not sure how we’d fare. Though if we poison or drown them we won’t have to worry about that as much. I will update you as I can. As it is I need to send this letter to you while we have a fire for me to do so.

                      Love always,

                      Jana


                      Dear Marcus,

                      I took down an ogre today! I don’t think I’ve ever faced such an enemy by myself, but I did tonight. My friends were dealing with other threats and I was uniquely equipped to deal with the ogre and come out of the fight alive. He was not the brightest opponent that I’ve ever faced, but he certainly hit the hardest. I was extremely glad to have a healer as back up, because I certainly needed it during that fight. Tanith healed what she could during the fight and a little more after the fight was done. A short rest should be all I need to get back to full fighting form. It also looks like that will not have been the only ogre that I’m going to fight this evening. We plan on assaulting another bandit camp with three more ogres, twelve humans and ten Night People. It is a formidable group, but we have a couple ideas on how to thin their numbers before we engage the rest of them. They camped next to a river and we have a water adept in our party. More’s the pity for them. There is also another camp a few days away that we will need to deal with, but it might be possible to get help from the Rose Knights to deal with them. There is someone that has already left to go look for the Knights that may be able to have some back up coming in the next week or so. We’ll see how it goes.

                      I hope that you are faring well in Kern. I am sorry that I had to leave you behind. I wish that you were here. We could certainly use your help tonight against these odds. I know that I will miss having you at my back.

                      Yours always,

                      Jana


                      Tanith’s Diary

                      Success once again! The job at Carver’s Mill is done, and without any sinister sorceresses causing trouble. We got everyone worked out; they backed down fast when our armed band entered town, honestly. So that is all solved with no fuss.

                      We are actually helping local townspeople at a town called Rosette, nearby. A young (and cute) ranger named Wren Harding approached us to help them. They are threatened by a mob of humans and Shadowspawn. We rode in and have provided some general advice and interviews. The head of the militia, Bellatrix, is intimidating and impressive in more than one way. She may have liked me too, not sure.

                      Wren apparently stayed for the suicide mission because the ranger she was working with, Marcellus, had kids. Note to self: Have kids.

                      I managed to look through the possessions of Messier, the previous town adept who recently “passed.” I suspect Betelgeuse, her apprentice, killed her. One or both are definitely Sorceresses. Betelgeuse let me look over her (Messier?)’s old books without supervision or concern, so she is not hiding them. I found little evidence they belonged to either woman specifically. I should have Ash look them over they are a better investigator than I am. Though I know a tomb of some Sorcerer King lieutenant is nearby. I suspect that is the source of some of the items. I was tempted to take some with me, but this feeling lead me to decide that was not for the best. Still, not crazy about Betelgeuse being unsupervised with them. Maybe Ash should keep an eye on her. Not sure how much they know about sorceress specific suspicious behavior or not, but they can tell if she is consulting things.

                      Any dangerous shadow artifacts need to be taken to Aldis city. We will discuss it later. It would be awful if Betelgeuse destroyed them and the knowledge was lost. Presuming she ever intended to in the first place.

                      We (my team and Wren) also had a skirmish with a group of Shadowspawn and a human in the forest, after Wren tracked them down. Five Night People, an Ogre, and a human. We won pretty solidly, but the fights were more dangerous than our previous battles with Soldier Darkfiends. The Darkfiends themselves were more dangerous than any of these, but the big pack made for a very different experience.

                      We throw around the word Shadowspawn yet here I am. A Shadowspawn. I wonder if the humans think about that?

                      Jana was majestic. An angel in steel. She went toe to toe with an Ogre four and a half feet taller than she. But however much it slammed down with its maul she held fast. It was majestic to see, and I am not ashamed to say it made me a little hot. She is like an invincible blade of the gods. I healed her, of course. I was proud to lend my strength to her by healing, just as when I boosted her physical Strength. Jana was nothing less than majestic and I blush thinking of her.

                      Jadzia was no slouch either. Riding on her horse even in the forest she was totally in control of the beast and withered enemies not only with her arrows as I saw with the Darkfiend, but with duel wielded swords. I know she did not break them out just to impress me, but she certainly impressed me. As did her shooting down the other archer so quickly Ash could not even get to him. She waded into those Night People utterly without fear, and it was pretty impressive, I have to say. That pops up in my mind too.

                      Darcy proved very effective too. Drawing the Night People bandit’s attention even as Jana did with the Ogre, the Night People could not touch him. He shuffled and dodged while lashing out with his bare hands, which could have just as well have been cudgels given how they impacted. I have never seen someone surrounded yet so effortlessly weaving through like a ghost.

                      Ash was impressive too. From their high ground they rained down daggers on the Night People, helping Darcy and Jadzia to wear them down. They certainly proved they could fight well after the more disappointing showing with the Darkfiend. That said, they have proven an excellent detective, master of disguise, and cunning as a fox. Even if they can’t fight as well as the above three, they are pretty impressive. And this fight proved they are not to be underestimated in combat, either.

                      We took a prisoner than has given us some useful information. I think he is somewhat charmed by me. After we talked a bit he gave up information on Gnaag and the fact that that Ogre is expanding into the area and after Messier’s artifacts. It was Wren, however, that had told us where the camp is.

                      As I write this, Jadzia and Wren are getting back to where we are a short ways from their camp. It looks like we are going to be calling on Maria’s talents. If all goes well we can get that place crushed and get ready for Gnaag’s arrivals.

                      He won’t know what hit him.

                      End Session IV

                      While Maria was present, her player was unwell and had to miss the session.

                      Wren Harding is a level two Expert, she was the connecting character to the story and the 7th so I could use the title.

                      The big battle was vs. a Human Expert, Five Night People, and an Ogre all straight from the book. Ogres are tough. The Night People had the same armor and twice the Hit Points of the Human, so that was exciting. Jana managed to keep stunting to keep the Ogre’s attention.

                      So the lighting, I rolled three dice each round at the start, and if I rolled doubles, there was a flash and all the Shadowspawn present were blinded a turn, which was all but the human expert on one side (who died almost immediately) and all but Wren, Jadzia and Ashlin on the other. It made things interesting. On the other hand, it was dark enough the Expert, Wren, Jadzia and Ashlin had penalties to hit the other turns, if less severe.

                      Night People and Ogres, defaultly anyway, are not hard to hit targets, fortunately. Ironically Darcy was a freaking ninja, and proved very difficult to hit himself.

                      As for the prisoner, with the last night Person, everyone else had been killed he was down to 18 of 30 HP, so he just threw down his axe and crouched with his hands over his head. Tanith as usual was something of a social wrecking ball.

                      I think that covers everything, but comments and questions are welcome. Join us next time, where we find one does not anger Maria Highmore lightly.
                      Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                      "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

                        The group must deal with a camp of Shadowspawn, and a dark tomb that may have set everything off. The group must do everything they can before Gnaag and his army arrives.

                        Maria Highmore looks down from the hill on the camp by the river….

                        Session V

                        The Magnificent Seven Part II

                        Ashlin’s Reports

                        As it turns out, that was all a wash (I know, I kill me too). When Maria raised the water, she seriously raised the water. As in, there was a tower of water rising above the treeline encompassing the entire camp. Needless to say, there were no survivors. What the water didn’t drown immediately, the lightning coursing through the oddly vertical body of water finished off. Jadzia made sure to get Maria a trophy for all those kills - she was less than thrilled at the earring-complete-with-a-bit-of-ear the warrior gave her.

                        She was uncomfortable in a couple of ways actually. I think that result - the two ogre high tower of water - was at the extreme of her ability. She was rather concerned that we’d expect that of her whenever we were near a body of water, which was reinforced by Jadzia’s utter faith that she could repeat that effect whenever she pleased. I tried to reassure her.

                        Regardless of repeatability, that stunt did earn us some time. While we’d been expecting to have to ambush the foraging survivors and their scouts and messengers, we got to get the jump on preparing for Gnaag himself. Or, as it turns out, to deal with the sorcery that started this whole nonsense. As soon as we’d rested up, Jadzia, Darcy, and Wren went riding to scout out the tomb Messier had retrieved her potentially sorcerous artifact from, while Maria, Tanith, and Jana looked for said potentially sorcerous artifact in amongst her goods. I spent some quality time with Hegick - we’d found a warhorn in the flooded camp, and I wanted to know what he knew about their signals. Turns out, it was something of a hobby of his, and being a good friend of his good friend Tanith, he was quite willing to expound upon it at some length.

                        We reconvened in a few hours, when the scouting party got back. They’d found it no problem, and even managed to avoid the temptation to go in without us. It was a little over an hour away, now that they knew precisely where it was. Maria had found the evil artifact, a intricate necklace with a big red gem, her Adept training working flawlessly to keep her from its influence. It is now locked away - as per proper procedure, all very by the book - and we’ll be bringing it by the correct authorities as soon as we head home.

                        The day was young, so we headed back out, all together now. Walking through, Messier’s story was very clear - she’d summoned a fire elemental, and sent it on ahead. She knew where she was going, or else got lucky, as the scorches continued straight down the main path. We, on the other hand, wanted to check out every nook and cranny, so we checked the one side path, and found skeletons - Jadzia’s favorite, apparently. Or maybe she just wanted a fight, with anything. I’m probably going to have to go with that.

                        The skeletons were tough. They didn’t care too much about about our various methods of cutting or stabbing them, so I wound up practicing my juggling. I’m not very good at it - most of my rocks somehow managed to get lodged in skulls. Weird, right? When we took a breather I managed to make myself a rough makeshift sling, only the tiniest bit peeved that some random tomb rocks were more impressive than my lovely knives.

                        Anyway, we circled around and back to the main path, where we followed the fire elemental's path down to a large antechamber before the tomb. It was open, with the body inside lolling onto the ground, its head rather... missing? In the wrong place? It had been popped off. Like, when Messier had sent her fire elemental to attack the guardian spirit so she could rip a necklace from the corpse and run. Oh yeah... did I mention the guardian spirit? There was a guardian spirit. To be fair, it was more scary in theory than in fact. Darcy managed to focus his chi into hitting the spirit, and Maria’s magic, of course, was plenty effective. Jana even managed to get a blow in. The rest of us were more focused on the skeletal bowman that showed up in the upper balcony where only those of us with the ranged weapons could hit. We did pretty good for ourselves too - Darcy and Jana only had time to defeat the spectre and climb halfway up the wall before we finished off the 4 skeletons.

                        We confirmed there were no other Shadow artifacts and made our way home, where I took the time to pen this report. Just so you wouldn’t worry, of course. Not because now we have at least a day of waiting before anything interesting happens. Not at all.

                        [Cloven hoof mark]


                        Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 3rd Hiathon

                        I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath for little old me to send another update. No worries, I am still in one piece, as is Rosette. Things might get interesting in the near future, but for now, we’re fine.

                        Gnaag is making his way here. We got heads up from Wren and Bellatrix’s hunters that they were on their way, as were a force of Rose Knights. The Rose Knights are slated to arrive about a day after Gnaag, unfortunately, but, you know us, we’ve got plans.

                        First off, Wren and the hunters have been laying traps, nothing sophisticated, but enough to make them proceed carefully. Darcy and Jana prepared the flooded camp to demoralize Gnaag’s forces, putting heads on pikes and the like. A messy job, complicated by the scouting party of Shadow wolves that jumped them. They chewed Darcy up but good, but nothing that Jana and Tanith’s healing magic couldn’t fix up in a moment. Betelgeuse has been brewing up more potions, including one that will let Maria summon an ice elemental. Two elementals will definitely be a not-to-be-underestimated effect on the battleground.

                        Our current plan, for whenever they inevitably make a move before the Rose Knights get here, is to focus on their battledrummer, a weedy little guy riding on an ogre. Jadzia seems sure she can handle him. Once that happens, I’ll slip out and sound their warhorn, letting them know about some enemy Adepts that are definitely approaching from the west. Then I’ll make some noise with firecrackers and the like, psychological warfare - way more suited to my delicate frame than out-and-out melees. Anyway, hopefully all that will distract them from the Rose Knights that will be falling on them from behind, trapping them against Rosette’s wall.

                        Right. Wish us luck!

                        [Cloven hoof mark]


                        Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                        (Whispered in Rezean in the stables of the Rosette Public House)

                        “Do not give me that look, Salkhi… I am not sulking. I am not! I am perhaps a bit… subdued due to my poor performance in our last combat, but that is not the same thing. And it is not as though the denizens of that tomb were a fair assessment of my prowess, in any case. They cheated, dear one, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

                        “Do not fret, though. We sit here restless on the eve of a great battle in which we shall certainly redeem ourselves. These last few skirmishes following the ambush in the woods have been less than satisfying, I know… but better times are clearly ahead.

                        “Oh, do not mistake me… Maria’s performance at the bandits’ riverside camp was most impressive, and I will say nothing to belittle that achievement, even if she herself was almost irritatingly modest in the face of her success. We expected her to raise the river a few feet, to wash away our enemies’ supplies, scatter them, and perhaps drown one or two. But that massive dome of water… it towered over even the tallest of their ogre troops, even over the treetops! Even the fury of the storm itself was drawn to this display, and those of the bandits who did not drown still could not survive the lightning strikes.

                        “But you remember this well enough; you were there. And though I would not be so crass as to suggest that you were frightened of the lightning, I know that it made your blood boil… and as there were no remaining foes to battle, you were restless and skittish for the rest of the night.

                        “The next day was better, was it not? While Tanith and Maria – under Jana’s watchful eye – examined the equipment left behind by Messier, Darcy and Wren joined us in our search for the ancient tomb which started this whole unfortunate business. I was not worried about my lovers; Maria and Tanith are both intelligent and skilled enough to recognize and isolate the sorcerous artifacts, and I am certain that Jana has experience with such things as well, due to her upbringing.

                        “That first outing was fun, was it not? Darcy and Wren and I fell into easy banter, with much laughter and gentle teasing on all parts. I believe that Wren is a good person… though I suppose she already proved as much with her willingness to risk her life to protect the people of Rosette. Though Messier’s map was crude, the three of us were able to puzzle out the tomb’s location without much trouble. Darcy and I both wanted to explore the interior… but reluctantly agreed in the end that neither of us was well equipped to deal with the sort of corrupted artifacts we might encounter within. With regrets, we left the tomb and returned to Rosette.

                        “Our friends’ search had been fruitful as well; they had identified the corrupted amulet Messier unearthed and had contained it; we shall give it to the proper authorities when the Rose Knights arrive. With that matter settled, the group of us decided to return to the tomb that evening in the hopes that we could cleanse and seal it properly.

                        “The return trip was much quicker, of course, as we knew precisely where we were going this time. I am sorry that we had to tether you outside of the tomb, Salkhi, but it was very close and narrow in there… the quarters were much too tight for a steed of your grandeur. So we proceeded inside, afoot, with weapons at the ready.

                        “Messier’s passage was evident at once; there were scorch-marks upon the ground and other evidence that an Adept had wielded the power of flame there recently. According to Tanith, it appeared as though Messier had summoned a fire elemental and had ordered it forward, following close in its footsteps and relying upon it to remove the bulk of the obstacles.

                        “The layout of the tomb was deceptively simple… a single passageway descending steeply into the depths. About halfway to the central chamber, other passages branched off to the right and left. We decided to follow the left-hand path, reasoning that we did not wish to have enemies creeping up behind us as we approached the burial chamber. It turned out to be a wise precaution.

                        “We came upon a group of four skeletons, armed with bows and swords. I fired a single shot into their midst, but my arrow did little damage. Where it might have pierced the heart of a living foe, it merely scratched the bones of this monstrosity before passing through its ribcage and clattering against the far wall. Frustrated, I drew my swords, gave a battle-cry, and charged forward to join my friends. My swords were a bit more effective, though not much… without flesh to rend, I was reduced to bashing at my enemies with the flat of the blades. A simple cudgel would have served me better.

                        “The others were not so hampered by their circumstances. Ashlin, upon realizing that his knives were ineffective, began hurling broken flagstones from the floor of the hallway. Darcy’s fists were as impressive as ever, of course, and Maria’s magic once again more than proved her value in combat. Jana’s sword was as ill-suited to the combat as mine, though she comported herself well regardless. Tanith rushed to our aid with her quarterstaff, and took a bad hit for her efforts. I should have protected her. It was another way in which I failed that day…

                        “In any case, we eventually defeated the skeletons, and took a few moments to rest and compose ourselves. Ashlin busied himself with creating a crude sling… nothing which would stand the test of time, but good enough to serve as a weapon for the rest of the time we spent in the tomb. After our wounds had been seen to and our adepts had been given the opportunity to recover their strength, we continued on.

                        “The side passage continued in a wide circle, and eventually rejoined the central hallway. We continued our descent into the depths of the hill, and eventually reached the central burial chamber. This was a large circular room which extended from deep beneath ground level up to the top of the mound above. Four more skeletons awaited us within… but they were perched at high, inaccessible balconies above us. What is more, when we entered the chamber, its occupant became… agitated.

                        “The tomb did not belong to one of the Sorcerer-Kings, thank the Primordials… rather it housed one of their inimical lieutenants. It rose from the crypt as a foul spectre. As the spectre was insubstantial, it seemed to me that my attentions would be better spent focused on harassing the skeletons while the Adepts dealt with it. I was certain by that point that Maria had things well in hand when it came to combat magic.

                        “The fight went well despite my own meager contributions. Both Jana and Darcy managed to affect the spectre with their attacks somehow, and Maria was more than capable of finishing it off. Remembering my earlier failures, I tried to aim my shots at structurally vital portions of my foes, such as the breastbone and the shoulder joints. It worked… to a point. At least my shots were marginally more effective in this second combat, though Ashlin’s hurled stones still ruled the day. Darcy and Jana attempted to scale the walls to reach our foes, but our ranged attacks finished the job before they reached their quarry.

                        “With the spectre defeated, the tomb was effectively cleansed. It seemed as though Messier had allowed her pet elemental to occupy the spectre while she ran in and grabbed the cursed amulet from around the corpse’s neck. The corpse itself was lying half-off its dais with its head at an unnatural angle. We did what we could to purify the area and then gladly took our leave.

                        “Upon our return to Rosette we found that there had been news… both Gnaag’s band and the Rose Knights approach, the latter unfortunately a day or so behind the former, and from a different direction. It falls to us to hold the town until our allies arrive. Wren has taken a group of hunters to the northeast to set simple traps and snares in the bandits’ path, in the hopes of forcing them to travel more carefully (and therefore more slowly). Tanith and Maria have been assisting Betelgeuse in creating potions which we hope will give us an advantage in the fight to come. Ashlin schemes as ever, hiding caches of items here and there in preparation and speaking with Hegick about ways in which we might use that signal horn we took from their camp to confuse our enemies and sabotage their efforts. Darcy and Jana returned to the bandits’ temporary camp by the river and placed the defeated ogres’ heads upon pikes to demoralize Gnaag upon his approach… unfortunately they met a few Shadow Wolf scouts, and both were wounded in the fray.

                        “We should have gone with them, dear one. We would have evened the odds in that encounter, and you and I are uniquely suited to do battle with a swift, maneuverable foe of that sort… it would have been much like hunting back home, would it not? Instead I remained here, drilling the bowmen of this village and contemplating my role in the coming battle. As you can see, I have borrowed one of this nation’s odd longbows, and have acquainted myself with its use. It is not so different from the bows of Rezea in aspect or in function. It is true that its size makes it impractical for mounted use, but the added range will give me an edge if I must fight the oncoming horde from the walls.

                        “Hegick and our scouts report that there is one among our enemies of singular importance… aside from Gnaag himself, of course. There is a drummer among them… a small, weedy fellow who rides upon the back of an ogre. He serves as a rallying point for our foes, a sort of symbol of their might and the supposed inevitability of their success. If he should fall, it would strike a significant blow to our enemies’ confidence… one from which the brutes may not recover. He will be well-protected; almost certainly in the midst of their strongest forces. Striking against him will be difficult.

                        “But then, Gnaag is not counting upon me.

                        “Rest well, Salkhi. Glory awaits us tomorrow. And once our foes are routed, we shall ride forth onto the plains and make certain that none escape the judgment we bring.”


                        Jana’s Letters

                        Dear Mother,

                        In the end we just had Maria raise the level of the river to flood the enemy camp. It turned out to be the most effective use of water shaping that I’ve ever seen. The river raised about eighteen feet in a twenty foot diameter! It was amazing. Even Maria was surprised at how well it worked. After the water receded we searched the camp and gathered up anything that we thought might be useful like a horn, coins and throwing knives for Ashlin. Jadzia even took an earring as a trophy and slipped it in Maria’s bag when the adept seemed unwilling to take a trophy. I have never taken trophies from my dead, but then I’m not usually proud of having killed them and don’t really want to remember the act anyway. Jadzia is interesting though. She insists on taking a memento from each fight to commemorate the battle and her fighting prowess in it. She assumes that the rest of us want to take trophies too, hence picking up the earring for Maria. After trophies were taken and gear was gathered up we headed back to the town and informed Bellatrix what had happened and what we had found out.
                        Yes

                        Love always,

                        Jana

                        Dear Mother,

                        Today picked up where yesterday left off. We met as a group to go over our plans for the day. Jadzia, Darcy and Wren decided to go looking for the tomb that Messier got the Sorcery paraphernalia from. Tanith, Maria and myself were going to take a look at the items themselves and see if there was anything Shadow tainted among them. Thankfully Maria was the one to actually handle the items. Tanith and I kept an eye out with Second Sight in case anything tried to corrupt our water adept. Most everything in the group of items was benign. The exception being a necklace with a big red stone in a setting. This thing tried to reach out to Maria’s mind. She resisted the influence and immediately put the necklace down. Tanith seemed to have a fascination for the items that we looked at. Like she wanted to explore something that was Shadow tainted and test her mettle. As someone that was in routine contact with a corrupted item, my helmet, it takes its toll on you. I think she is rather curious about Sorcery and tainted artifacts in particular, but she doesn’t know how insidious something like that can be. I made a promise to her father that I would keep her safe, even from herself, and I will.

                        Meanwhile the others found the tomb and came back to the town to let us know where it was. We all decided to check it out and cleanse it if possible. We rode to the tomb and made pretty good time. I will admit that I’m getting used to riding a horse. The movement is different than that of a wyvern, but it is not hard to move with once you get used to it. I will likely never become as good on horseback as Jadzia is, but then she’s been riding her entire life. So, we arrived and tied up our mounts outside the door of the tomb. That was no place for a horse. Then we went inside. We could see plainly where a fire elemental had been summoned and had walked down the pathway clearing things out as it went. There were skeletons on the ground with burn marks and a sprung spear trap. There was a passage way on the left and the right and we decided to check out the left-hand passage to ensure that nothing came up behind us. It was a good precaution. We found a number of animate skeletons that attacked us as soon as they detected us. We fought them with varying degrees of success, but eventually took them all down. My sword was not the most useful weapon against them because of their physical condition. Ashlin had the most luck with thrown rocks. After the fight he made a makeshift sling to use. We followed the passage and found that it looped around and led back to the main path.

                        The tomb itself was something different. The fire elemental had clearly been there as well. There was a skeleton hanging part way out of a sarcophagus. Presumably this is where Messier found the necklace, around the body’s neck. Well, the spirit of the dead sorcerer was not happy to see us and attacked. He also had more skeletons attack us with bows from a second level above us. Darcy managed to hit the specter followed quickly by a very effective attack from Maria. I focused as hard as I could on willing the ghost to be solid for my blade to hit it. Somehow I managed to do it too. I didn’t do much damage, but I was happy that I managed to hit it in the first place. The skeletons were troublesome. They had the high ground and we had to rely on our ranged fighters to hit them. So, Jadzia, Wren and Ashlin had their work cut out for them as they fired arrow and rock at the foes on the balcony. After the ghost was dealt with Darcy and I started to climb up to the balcony to bring the fight to the skeletons, but our ranged fighters finished them off before we could get up there. That was fine by me. Climbing in heavy plate armor is not the easiest thing to do. After all the enemies were dealt with we searched the rest of the crypt and found no more items or threats, so we left happy that we had cleansed that place of its Shadow taint.

                        I will admit that it was again a nice feeling to be able to rid that place of the Shadow taint. In Kern we didn’t do that. Most of the ghosts and risen skeletons that we saw worked for the council of regents so we could not dispose of them. It always seemed wrong to me that we would force the dead to serve Kern and the regents. There was no rest for them after dying. I pray that they did not do anything so horrible to you. As far as I know they just killed you and left your spirit to go on to the afterlife. I hope that I am right.

                        Love Always,

                        Jana

                        Dear Mother,

                        It’s been a few days and we finally got more news. Bellatrix gathered us together to let us know that one of Wren’s birds had arrived with a message that the Rose Knights are on their way. They should arrive from the South in a day or so. Unfortunately, there is also a band of ogres and Night People that are heading our way from the Northeast now and should arrive soon. This meant that we had a lot of work to do in a short period of time. Betelgeuse busied herself making more potions for us to use, some healing and stamina potions mostly. Ash made a new sling to deal with any skeletons that might be coming. He also secreted supplies around the outside of the city walls in strategic places so he would have access to what he needed during the upcoming fight. I think some of what he hid was fireworks, to make the enemy think that we had a fire adept with us. It sounded like a good idea to me.

                        We also learned that the enemy has one guy in particular that rides an ogre that helps increase their morale. He became our number one target. Gnaag is coming too. He should be easy to see. He is apparently wearing red and black armor and has a banner flying.

                        In order to slow down the enemy troops Wren went out and set traps outside of the city. Snares and things like that to slow them down and demoralize them if possible. We are also going to use the horn that we found to sow confusion among the enemy troops. Ashlin is going to blow the signal that Knights are coming from the West once their morale leader is dead. We figured if the signal, that Hegick taught Ashlin, was blown after we took down their main source of inspiration then it might demoralize them. I think that’s when Ashlin is going to start throwing fire crackers into the enemy’s midst to back up the idea that we have allies. Here’s hoping it works.

                        Love always,

                        Jana

                        Dear Marcus,

                        We are preparing for a true battle this time. We won’t be going up against a small scouting camp. We will be fighting the main bulk of Gnaag’s troops. We took out their advance guard already. Maria flooded their camp and killed them all. It was very impressive. Then later while other people were making their own preparations Darcy and I went back to the flooded camp and posted some spikes in the ground. We then cut off the heads of the ogres and displayed them prominently for the enemy to find on their way to the town. It was gruesome work but no worse than things I’ve done for the Skull Knights. Darcy was one of the proponents of this idea, but he has never done it before. I on the other hand have done this before and probably displayed more practice at such a horrible task than he was expecting to see. I just hope that he doesn’t hold it against me.

                        While we were working on spiking the heads we were attacked by enemy scouts. Shadowwolves. They were roaming far ahead of the main troops and came across us in the forest. I think a total of five attacked us as we were making our way back to the town. We made pretty short work of the first three of them but not before they had hurt Darcy pretty badly. I healed him a bit and we started running for the town. Then the rest attacked us. We finished them off in pretty short order and made it the rest of the way back to town. Tanith and I managed to heal the rest of Darcy’s wounds then. I don’t think that Tanith was pleased to have to heal him. Not that she begrudged him for doing it, it was more the fact that she didn’t like it that he’d been hurt at all. I was happy to help in any way that I could, but I’m not as practiced in the healing arts as Tanith is. When they found out I had the talent they trained me in its use, but it was never one of my main studies. Sword and shield took precedence over anything else. I just hope that I can be of help again during the upcoming battle. Tanith may not be able to attend to everyone’s wounds without exhausting herself. I do anticipate this to be a big fight, so I’m preparing myself, like always, to accept getting injured. If you get into a fight with someone and you are wielding a sword, you are going to get hurt. This time though I have to worry about my allies getting hurt as well. In the past I only ever really worried about your wounds because you were honestly a friend and my partner. The other Knights I could take or leave. I did heal them of course, when there was no one else, but any action that involved more than just a pair of us usually had a dedicated healer assigned to it.

                        I will write to you once this battle is done. If I survive and when I am able. I honestly don’t know how many enemies we will be facing, so I’m planning for the worst. As always, I hope that you are doing well and that you will be able to join me soon in Aldis.

                        Yours Always,

                        Jana.


                        Tanith’s Diary

                        We have successfully raided and purged the tomb outside Rosette. Many of the guards were destroyed already, but we took down a Spectre and four skeletons in the antechamber, after slaying four stragglers on the way. The adept, Messier, had originally destroyed the guards with an elemental, and sicced it on the Spectre while stealing the treasure.

                        I should note that both Darcy and Jana had the focus to hit the Spectre despite its state. I am not surprised Darcy had the know how to do that, he seems to have an endless supply of stories and Lore. I suppose I should not be surprised by Jana either. She is not just beautiful but smart, and coming from Kern dealt with a lot of undead.

                        The whole team was excellent, though. Jadzia fought well with her swords, and Ashlin actually fashioned a sling to help them against the skeleton when knives did little good. Jadzia switched between sword and bow effortlessly; her flexibility in combat was a real asset that day.

                        Maria’s arcana, however, provided the killing blow. Honestly, our Frost adept has really proven herself. No amount of skeletons she slew, though, was more impressive than her raising a river over fifteen feet, drowning the entire camp and washing them away. Our wiping out that whole group saved us a lot of time and trouble, and honestly lives. I have seen more powerful adepts not able to pull such a thing off. Maria is extremely talented. Jana was wise to bring her along.

                        I find myself distracted, however, by the time Maria and Jana spent with me going through Messier’s stuff. I reluctantly let Maria take point because her skills are more scholastic than mine. However, Jana and I were ready with Second Sight. Maria did indeed find a necklace that attempted to communicate with her, and she quickly shut it down. And I must confess, I felt a twinge of jealousy there. Or perhaps frustration? I am a strong willed, knowledgeable, trained negotiator. Most importantly, my Psychic Shield is strong. If anyone is equipped to communicate with such a thing and get the better of it, I am. Sure, I can let it think it is corrupting me, but I am sure I can keep the advantage of it. How much lore from before the era of the Sorcerer Kings have we lost? We can enchant potions and stones, a few of us even weapons. But the glorious devices from the time that Aldea was younger we cannot replicate. The Sorcerer Kings held many of these secrets, as well as magical secrets untold. The wise thing is to sift the dangerous knowledge from the useful knowledge, and record both, but keep the darker lore for only those who can handle it, such as myself.

                        Still there was plenty of lore and items there. Messier had done a good job of emptying the tomb, it seems. A great deal of it was in Old Aldin, but I can read that (as can, at least, Maria, possibly others). There was just too much to go through with all the other preparations made, but if everything goes well, we will have time to study it, and perhaps some could be taken back to Aldis City for further examination. Betelgeuse is younger than me, and lacks my schooling. It is best kept from her hands. And we are still uncertain she is not corrupted somewhat by Shadow. My main reason for suspecting not is she has been so free to let us look over the lore and the items. I am sure in the unlikely event I were Shadow corrupted I would guard such things jealously. Particularly valuable old books and contents from plundered tombs.

                        Still, I console myself with the knowledge that there will be time to examine all these things more thoroughly. Plus I am sure I can convince Maria and Jana to let me look over the necklace. Maybe not some of the more paranoid ones, though. I mean, I actually do fully trust Ashlin and Darcy, but I am not sure they would not understand. Maria is an adept and Jana has, at least, been in Kern long enough to understand the value of such power.

                        Other things press. Bellatrix finally got word by bird that Wren’s partner Marcellus is on the way with a team of Rose Knights (and rangers, presumably) to the South. The hunters and Wren herself also warn of Gnaag’s forces approaching from the Northeast. Wren and the hunters have left snares, and Jana and Darcy fought Shadow Wolves while mounting the Ogre heads on pikes to frighten incoming forces. Between that and the wiped out campsite hopefully morale will be lower when they arrive. Ash and Jadzia have been making arrangements with Bellatrix, and Maria speaking to Betelgeuse. When Gnaag arrives, we will be as prepared as we can get.

                        I just have to get my mind off this trove of knowledge. There will be time ahead to make use of it.

                        End Session V

                        …And then Maria rolled a straight up 25 on her 3d6 + 7 roll to raise water using Water Shaping. Boosted the Outcome much as she could and removed the Fatigue with her stunt points. Tanith being nearby gave an extra Stunt point with Inspiring, as she generally does along with the Willpower bonus. Suffice to say, the water went high.

                        Team did exceptionally well in the tomb. Jana and Darcy both managed to get stunts and hurt the Spectre. The Skeletons were complicated, due to the fact most PCs (Ashlin, Jadzia, and Jana,) had their damage reduced by half and of the other three, one (Tanith) was almost purely support. I let Ash try and put togather a makeshift sling as that was quick thinking, and they got a more permenant one for next time.

                        The shadow wolves proved more dangerous than expected, I should have tried to have a third go with them. Still, Jana and Darcy did well, and Jana got to use some of her own healing abilities.

                        I think that covers things but comments and questions are welcome.
                        Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                        "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

                          You guys, I am so sorry. One journal was late and my weekend was amazing but busy and tiring. So getting back in the groove and getting this out.

                          Note any discussion of dates by the polyweb took place in email discussion rather than being covered at the table. Jadzia does not discuss it so nothing missing from her journal; the stylistic choice was made to cover it next time. Anyway, enjoy.

                          Session VI

                          The Magnificent Seven Part III

                          Ashlin’s Reports

                          Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 5th Hiathon

                          First off, unless this has been written by a particularly intelligent bandit who killed me and stole my codebook, I'm alive! In fact, I'll wager this letter just barely beats the one Aldebaran is sending to the Queen to present our heroism to her. OK, thinking about it, probably beats it by a lot – we do have the most efficient messaging system. Security of the country and all that.

                          Anyway, it was all in the bag, of course. I even got to laze about outside the walls all night! Shooting off fireworks, no less. After their drummer went down with a few well-placed arrows from Jadzia's bow, I even took up the slack and started playing that fancy horn we found in their camp. They were a little rattled by how awesome I was – well, that and their dead battering ram bearers – that they just up and started leaving. A note for future reference, by the way, don't turn your back on Jadzia. Apparently that's where you shoot cowards. Not saying that you are one, of course, that's my role in our chicanery, but we wouldn't want to confuse things.

                          Not that I am attempting to cast aspersions on my dear friend, and not that she was alone, Darcy, Wren, and Maria all joined her in finishing off a couple of the closest ogres as they ran to regroup after I gave the call that an attacking force of adepts was on its way. It was a battle, that the ogres started, after all. They figured out it was but a ruse without too much delay, though every moment was a precious gift.

                          They redoubled their efforts after that, but those manning the walls had fallen into a rhythm and the battering ram was quickly taken down again, with enough time to finish off one of the three ogres fronting the charge this time. The other two eventually got to the wall and started lifting up their buddies to the wall. They had gotten delayed a bit marvelling at my fireworks display, and almost importantly, so had their bow and arrow wielding backup, so Jana and Tanith actually got a break from their nigh constant efforts to staunch everyone's wounds.

                          The bandits were feeling a little bit of that 'not what I signed up for' feeling by that point, but like good little minions, a few ran over to pick up the battering ram, and when an ogre lifts you up to a wall, and you're met by sword, pike, and great maul wielding badasses, you don't have a whole lot of choice left in your life. So the fight marched on, with a couple of watery friends added to the mix. Some of those ogres should go for a mummer troupe – they were quite skilled in prat falls, though less in getting back up again gracefully. Water elementals are slippery, as it turns out. Hopefully Maria learns how to make one of them without a potion soon – it was very effective.

                          I didn't see a lot of the fight on the wall at that point, honestly – I had caught sight of the enemy standard, flying on the back of Gnaag himself, and it was just the most beautiful fabric I had ever seen. I had to have it for myself! Thankfully, there were just enough humans among the bandits that I could infiltrate close enough to get a couple quick throws in, and down the banner fluttered. Of course, I couldn't get close enough to grab it before it got trampled into the ground by the suddenly panicking ogres, the oafs, so no bandit finery for me. I wandered off, making sure to make sure everyone who'd share a word with me knew where our commander was, or rather where it appeared he wasn't.

                          Whatever exactly happened at the wall, it was enough to break the bandit's spirit, so they pulled back to regroup again. On my way out, I noticed they had a few too many arrows, so I helped them dispose of their extra. I was, perhaps, maybe, a little over zealous... I think some of their rations caught on fire. At least it smelt like burnt mutton and went up as if there were alcohol involved.

                          Then came the exciting part (yes, precisely then. Not before, not after. I am very precise about my excitement). I happened upon Gnaag exhort his forces, decided a prick to his authority was in order – there's no call to be so mean to your followers, even if you are a big badass ogre bandit leader. So I pinned one of his helmet's feathers to the denuded standard pole, and with a wink and a salute, disappeared, rolling into a nearby gully. Then he decided to get serious, and sent 5 ogres as his attack force, and put a couple more holding the battering ram – bad news for sure.

                          Well Tanith was feeling her oats and thought that Gnaag's authority could use a little more pricking. So she gave him a wink of her own, with a little more of a taunting come hither gesture to it. He got enraged, and rushed the wall. Jadzia didn't like the way he was looking at her lady, and sent an arrow at him with such force he fell over. By that time, Betelgeuse's water elemental reached the other pack of ogres, and slowed them down just enough for a continuous stream of arrows and ice magic from the wall to take Gnaag down.

                          That was, of course, just in time for the cavalry to come cresting over the hill, the first rays of the dawn's light glinting off the plate armor of the Rose Knights. They ran off the rest of the army, pursuing the remnants far into the day.

                          I wanted to get this out quickly, which I have, but now I hear sounds of revelry – I think Darcy is about to sing! - so I will have to leave you here.

                          [Cloven hoof mark]


                          Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                          (Whispered in Rezean in the stables of the Rosette Public House)

                          “Good morning, Salkhi. Yes, I am still alive, and once again I must apologize for my lack of attention to your wellbeing. At first things were too busy, and following the battle I have had… other distractions.

                          “So, the battle… yes, I am sorry that you could not participate, but our priority was defending the wall and the gate. Even if they had managed to breach the gate, you would not have enjoyed fighting in the close quarters of the town’s streets. Do not fret, dear one. I am certain that more opportunities for us to join battle together will present themselves in the future.

                          “I could recount the battle blow-for-blow of course, but I would not wish to stir the fire in your veins unnecessarily. The primary objective with which I had been tasked was in taking out the enemy’s ‘morale officer,’ a small man riding on the back of an ogre and pounding on a drum to whip our foes into a battle frenzy. When night fell and Gnaag’s army first surged forward I caught sight of my quarry at the back of the first wave. A few shots from the excellent longbow I had borrowed saw him dead, of course, and I was able to turn my attention to the crude battering ram they had fielded.

                          “That shadow-damned ram was a thorn in our side for most of the night. Maria, Wren, Darcy and I disabled its bearers no fewer than three times that night, though the enemy’s efforts to regroup gave us a small amount of respite between assaults. After we turned them back the first time – following the death of the drummer and the first failure of the ram – Ashlin put his plans into effect, blowing the signal horn to trick Gnaag into the belief that the Rose Knights approached from the West. The rag-tag army pulled away from the walls and set themselves up to defend their flank from a non-existent threat.

                          “The second assault on the walls came a few hours later, once it was plain that no reinforcements were imminent. They sent a few ogres to the walls this time, to hoist shock troops onto the ramparts and disrupt our defensive fire. Bellatrix, Aldebaran, and my dear Jana took care of those foes so that Wren, Darcy, Maria and I could keep a steady stream of fire on those without. I knew Wren to be a competent archer, and Maria’s spells – aided by a potion from Betelgeuse to keep her stamina up – are always formidable, but I had not previously suspected my friend Darcy’s skill with the bow. He usually prefers to engage enemies in close combat, but he is just as deadly with an arrow as he is with his bare hands.

                          “Maria also attempted a spell she had not used before, to great effect. She was able to summon an elemental, which nicely distracted the ogres among the assaulting forces. As a water elemental, it turned the ground around it to a treacherous muck, and many of the ogres found themselves quite unequal to the task of remaining upright. It would have been comical had our situation not been so dire.

                          “My lovers – that is to say, Jana and Tanith – spent much of the night keeping the rest of us healthy. They each used their healing magic when necessary, but for the most part we only suffered minor glancing cuts and grazes from arrow-fire, and traditional medicine was enough to see to those injuries. The first time I allowed her to dress my wounds Tanith asked if I would like her to ‘kiss it all better.’ I did not know quite how to respond to that; it is not an expression I had heard before. While an intriguing proposition, it did not seem quite appropriate in those circumstances.

                          “Ashlin was not idle during this assault either; he slipped here and there among the foes and set off small explosions, mostly caused by celebratory fireworks he had gathered over the previous few days. While these startled our enemies, their true value was that the Night People among the assaulting force were blinded by the bright flashes, spoiling many of their archers’ shots. I… may have misjudged him somewhat in my previous assessments. It is true that he works from the shadows rather than facing his foes directly in combat… but it cannot be said that he lacks courage. To move among such a large force, doing what he could to disrupt their plans and assist us from within the belly of the beast… his bravery is no less than ours, it merely takes a different form. As the night wore on, he set fire to their store of arrows, and even cut the warband’s banner from Gnaag’s back, then moved among the soldiers implying that their glorious leader had quit the field. Since no one could identify him without his standard, many believed Ashlin and quit the field before dawn.

                          “Gnaag, on the other hand, is an abject coward. As dawn approached, and his army once more wavered, he gathered them for one more last-ditch assault upon the gate and the walls. This time no fewer than five ogres approached, two of them manning the battering ram. I turned my attention to these foes, knowing that this time they would likely breach our defenses and force us to defend the town streets directly.

                          “Then Tanith hoisted herself up on to the wall beside me. While she did not say anything directly, she made certain that Gnaag could see her and made an imperious gesture. Then she crooked her hand at him, silently daring him to face us himself instead of sending another wave of his underlings to die in his place. He lost all semblance of composure, and charged with an earsplitting bellow. His intent was clear: he was going to murder Tanith if he could.

                          “I do not know how to explain it… protecting Tanith suddenly became even more important than protecting the town. Jana felt the same; she pulled our lover gently from the walls, quietly inquiring as to what exactly she was doing. I knew that Gnaag would not fall to a single arrow, no matter how well-placed, so I muttered that he would not touch her while I lived and fired a shot into his knee. He fell down to the ground, interrupting his charge (several of his compatriot ogres also fell in the muck created by Betelgeuse’s water elemental), and we peppered him with a shower of arrows. When he rose and began to flee, I took careful aim and planted an arrow fletching-deep in the back of his neck. Such is the fate of all cowards on the battlefield.

                          “When Gnaag fell our foes descended into a mad scramble. It was only a few minutes later when distant horns signaled the arrival of the true Rose Knights. The battle was all but over by this point. I looked to the field, hoping to claim a trophy from Gnaag (and possibly the other six I slew that night), but his underlings had already borne his body from the field. A pity, but an easy disappointment to bear in the midst of our victory.

                          “Tanith pulled Jana into a passionate kiss, right there in front of everyone. She kissed Wren as well, when the two of us descended from the walls, though less ardently. Finally she turned to me. ‘My hero,’ she whispered, with the emphasis on the possessive. I do not remember how long the resulting kiss lasted, nor do I care to consider the matter further. I know that I barely had the presence of mind to reach out to Jana – who was smiling in gentle wry amusement – and draw her into our embrace. My blood was boiling from the thrill of combat, and I confess that I barely heard any of the jubilant shouts or hearty congratulations that dogged us for the rest of the morning.

                          “We retired to the room Tanith and Jana had shared, and pushed the beds together, and spent the rest of that day in each other’s company. We made love and then rested nestled against each other, content that we had done our duty well, and that the town of Rosette could rest easier in the future.

                          “We spent another week in Rosette, basking in the people’s well-deserved adulation. Wren’s partner Marcellus had returned with the Rose Knights, surprised but happy to see her alive and well. The commander of the Knight contingent promised to share word of our exploits with the Queen herself, and perhaps recommend that we be considered for admission to the Sovereign’s Finest. I do not know what membership in that elite unit would entail, but I confess that as a foreigner and a newcomer to this country, it is an honor to be considered.

                          “The townspeople honored us in their own ways as well. None of us has paid for a drink in the past week, and many of the town’s prominent citizens have quarreled with each other over who among them would have the honor of hosting us for dinner (or, with the more bold of the citizens, breakfast). They also gave us equipment to replace that which was soiled or damaged in the battle. Aldebaran forged a beautiful set of plate mail for Jana; it is tailored exactly to her impressive dimensions, and of higher quality than the armor she had previously purchased in Aldis City. Tanith commented dryly that this was why she never bought anything ‘off the rack.’ I believe Aldebaran also crafted a fine set of throwing knives for Ashlin, much to his delight.

                          “The rest of the townspeople did their part as well. Betelgeuse made a magical stone to help our Adepts recover more swiftly from the fatigue of casting their magic. A local clothier whose name I never learned created a set of reinforced clothing for Maria; a necessity if she continues to fight alongside us on the front lines. And Aldebaran introduced me to a very skilled bowyer named Hamal, who said that it would be her honor to craft a bow to my specifications. I confess that I had my doubts at first, but after examining my Rezean horse-bow, she was able to produce a fine weapon. It is – and you must never tell anyone among the clan that I said this, Salkhi – a better weapon than the one I brought with me from home. Arrows fired from this bow fly faster and with more force than those from any similar weapon I have fired. I tried to pay her for her work; it seemed disrespectful to offer nothing in return for such craftsmanship. She demurred, claiming that her payment would be in knowing that I was using the bow well, in defense of the innocent.

                          “Tomorrow we begin the return journey to Aldis City, so cease your whickering complaints… you and I shall once again be inseparable for several days at the least. I do not know what shall await us upon our return, but I now believe we can meet any challenge before us so long as we stand united. Being a part of this group feels right to me, Salkhi… in a way that nothing else has since the tragedy struck my family two years ago. You agree with me, yes? Good. Now make ready. Tomorrow we depart.

                          “Tomorrow we go home.”


                          Jana’s Letters

                          Dear Mother,

                          The enemy is getting close as I write this. We just had a meeting with our group, Wren, Aldebaran and Bellatrix to go over our roles in the upcoming fight. It was decided that those of us who were ranged fighters, Jadzia, Wren, Bellatrix and Maria should be up on the walls focusing on the men and Nightspawn that were coming at our gate with a battering ram. Darcy, Aldebaran and I would be posted on the ground just inside the gate so we could take care of any incoming ground troops once the gate gives way. Given how many people are coming towards the town we are planning on when the gate gives way rather than if it does. It’s better to plan for the worst and be prepared than to be caught flat-footed.

                          Before the fight Tanith came up to me and Jadzia and gave each of us a lock of her hair. I’ve never been given a token from anyone before. Granted I’ve never been really close to anyone before. At least not like this. Tanith and Jadzia are different than my lovers in the past. They have feelings for me. Genuine feelings. It is something new for me and I’m not sure how to reciprocate. I’m not sure if I should. I can’t be the kind of woman that they deserve. I have not been a good person up until recently. I am doing good things now, but that wasn’t always the case. Tanith is keen on learning more about Kern, but that is one topic that I’m not as interested in pursuing. I’m not proud of what I’ve done and I’m not sure if I can get past it. Though given the odds it might not be a concern. Only time will tell how this day will go. I hope that I will not be rejoined with you just yet. I still have much to make up for.

                          Anyway, Tanith then gave an inspirational speech on top of the wall to the townsfolk. She was very positive and confident which I think helped bolster people’s spirits. They all rallied on the wall and behind the gate depending on their proficiency. I think I’m going to start up on the wall and move down to the gate once they start to break through. Darcy is going to do the same. I hope to write to you later.

                          Love always,
                          Jana

                          Dear Mother,

                          The battle is over and it went far better than it had any right to. Not that I’m complaining mind you, but things did go our way rather nicely. Jadzia, Wren and Darcy all fired down on the troops carrying the battering ram with bows. Who knew that Darcy was good with a bow as well as his fists? Maria focused her magic on the same group of individuals. Between the four of them they were taking out men on the battering rams left and right. It was a sight to behold. Jadzia even took out the morale guy with the drums pretty early on. And since she and the rest of them made the biggest targets of themselves the enemy focused fire on them so Tanith and I dashed between the lot of them applying bandages when needed. I couldn’t hit anything with my sword until they began climbing to the top of the wall, so I used my healing skills instead of my martial ones. I figured I might as well be useful. Plus they are my friends and I’d rather not see them hurt.

                          After a while the ogres got close enough to the wall to deposit Nightpeople warriors on top of the wall. Aldebaran, Bellatrix and I made short work of anyone foolish enough to come within range of our blades. Not many enemy soldiers made it to the top of the wall, which worked just fine for us. Once the ogres started getting close to the walls our friends made them their top priority for a while. At least until there were no more right up against the wall dropping off combatants. After they were taken care of the archers and mages returned their focus to the battering ram. Soon after that Ashlin blew on the recovered enemy horn indicating that we had reinforcements moving in behind them. The troops at the gate pulled back and regrouped expecting to see an enemy force. They stayed in that formation for about an hour, giving the rest of us in the city a much-needed break. They then realized that they had been fooled and started attacking the walls again with a battering ram.

                          During this battle everyone displayed their skills and strength to good effect. Maria used her magic to freeze NIghtpeople and ogres. They could not withstand it. She even used the potion that Betelgeuse made and summoned a water elemental to help fight the ogres. The presence of water in and of itself made the ground slippery and a number of ogres had trouble keeping their feet under them. It was funny to watch. Darcy displayed skill with a bow that, while not as good as Jadzia, was rather effective. Tanith used magic and mundane medicine to keep all of us from being too badly hurt. I think that was one of the more important things that our side did, we healed our wounded. The enemy let their men fall and then just replaced them with more. They did nothing to try and save those that fell. Again, not that I’m complaining. Their lack of empathy, or healers, was a great boon to us. Jadzia was a master with her bow, taking down targets left and right. She is fast and accurate and very well practiced. She was beautiful. Ashlin did a great job at demoralizing the enemy troops. About halfway through the fight he managed to use some throwing daggers and cut down Gnaag’s banner making him hard to see among all the other troops. Ashlin then worked on hinting to people all over the field that their leader had fled. Then to top things off he set fire to the enemy’s supplies, including their arrows. After that he nodded at Gnaag and disappeared before the enemy commander could make his way to where my comrade had been. His actions brought a smile to my face, and helped increase the morale of our own troops.

                          After all of that the enemy regrouped and started their attack of the wall over again in earnest. Gnaag started by moving five ogres toward the wall along with two more carrying the battering ram. Nightpeople also helped with the ram. Tanith took the opportunity to taunt Gnaag at that point and the enemy leader, enraged, charged at the wall. I pulled Tanith behind me asking her what she was thinking. I don’t think she took my rebuke the way I intended it. She seemed pleased at my actions rather than contrite for putting herself at unnecessary risk. My friends meanwhile focused their fire, for the most part, on Gnaag and took him down in short order. I believe that Jadzia got the killing blow. He was actually running away and her arrow took him in the back. Never show your back to the enemy. The other ogres started falling under the combined assault from the walls. Then another horn was sounded, but it was not Ashlin this time. It was a group of Rose Knights approaching. The enemy retreated in the face of reinforcements arriving, taking Gnaag’s body with them… and denying Jadzia the ability to take a trophy from the ogre war leader.

                          Not long after the battle was won the townspeople started celebrating, and us along with them. Aldebaran said that he would write to the Queen and tell her of our brave actions in defending the town. I wasn’t sure if gaining the attention of the Queen herself would be good for me, but I kept my council. I mean, as far as I know there is no official immigration process in Aldis. I assume that people can just move there. I haven’t been asked for paperwork or anything. In Kern they paid attention to me, but I think that was mostly because I am Vata’sha rather than any interest in me as a person. Father is listed in someone’s books since he is an informant. I don’t think the regular people in Kern have papers, or any sort of records at all. At least I don’t remember there ever being paperwork filled out when someone was killed. They were just buried or left where they lay and if the family was lucky they found out what happened. I wonder if they interview incoming immigrants from Kern to check their loyalties? I guess I’ll find out.

                          Love always,
                          Jana

                          Dear Marcus,

                          Well the battle went well. I was surprised how well it went in fact. Not that I am complaining mind you, just surprised. Everyone made it out more or less uninjured. I don’t know if we had any casualties on our side at all. I feel bad that I don’t know if all of the townsfolk made it through the fight or not. I may need to ask Bellatrix and see. In the end the townsfolk were thankful for our assistance and gave us parting gifts, which I thought was rather generous of them. They gave us a very nice set of plate armor, which was made for me. They gave us a nice set of reinforced light armor for Maria, a custom bow for Jadzia, an exquisite set of throwing knives for Ashlin and a meditation stone for Maria or Tanith. They are all very well crafted and pleasing to the eye. I thanked the armorer for the plate and tried to give him something for it, but he wouldn’t accept it. I guess because we are private citizens it was unusual for us to help them defend the town against Gnaag. It would be more common for the Rose Knights to do so, and they would likely not receive the gifts that were given to us. My new armor is a sliver grey, which I think was nicer than the black set I had as a Skull Knight. The helmet is definitely an improvement too. Maria’s armor is good quality leather and has some nice embellishments on it. She looked lost when presented with it so I promised to help show her how to put it on. I hope that you are doing well, and hope to see you soon. Take care of yourself.

                          Yours always,
                          Jana

                          Dear Marcus,

                          Tanith expressed her feelings for me tonight. She took me out for dinner and dancing, which was really nice. And then when we got back and were alone she expressed how she felt about me. She wants to take our relationship further to something less casual and more serious. I was a little unsure how to respond. I do care for her and I want to keep her safe but I’m not sure how I feel in return. I know that I’m not worthy of her. I haven’t made up for my past yet, how can I be worthy of any of them? She also asked about Kern and my past. She was just making casual conversation but I think I became a bit shuttered. I told her about being trained as a guard and about having been a body guard, but did not go into details. I couldn’t. I know that I should tell my new friends about my past, but I’m not sure how to do that or if it would be wise. I suppose I should be honest with them, but I’m having a hard time being honest with myself about a lot of things. Tanith and I are going to continue to see one another, but we are not putting a label on our relationship as of yet. I think she was a little disappointed, but I tried to make her understand that it was nothing that she had done wrong. The fault lay solely on my shoulders. I hope that she will understand and accept me as I am.

                          Jadzia didn’t make any such declarations to me, and we will continue to see each other as we have been. She and Tanith are now in an official relationship though, and I hope that they will be happy. I will continue as I have been, at their side but nothing official as of yet.

                          Yours always,
                          Jana.


                          Tanith’s Diary

                          Sweet Hiathas, what a night.

                          I am enjoying the sweetest languor. The post battle celebration was amazing, but nothing could have prepared me for this. My Jadzia, she was…ferocious. I’ve lain several times with her but this was beyond anything any previous time. She was a hungry whirlwind, devouring me, breaking me like a stallion. I assume it was the battle which stirred up her ardor, my blood was kicked up as well, but she…amazing.

                          Jana was wonderful too, of course. More subdued, she always is. She clung to us; perhaps just glad we were alive. I kissed her so many times, as well. Her heartbeat joined mine and Jadzia’s…we were all joined as one.

                          I can only assume Jadzia enjoys being the bronze toned one in the tangle of ebon limbs. If she did not previously have a taste for Vata I am sure she does now. At some point I need to talk to both women about where we stand. I gave them locks of my hair before the battle. That’s not what you give a woman who is just a friend you sleep with.

                          The battle was…well exciting. I hesitate to couch a battle in which good men’s lives are lost in terms such as glorious, but it was quite impressive. The Bandits threw themselves again and again against our walls, and again and again we drove them back. Jadzia’s arrows rained down like raptors, cutting down the Night People carrying the ram and sticking into Ogres. Maria froze many of the interlopers almost solid. Even the Ogres could not easily shrug off her icy touch. Wren joined in the arrow work. Even Darcy impressed us by picking up a bow and raining arrows down on those trying to breach the wall. There is more to him than a martial artist and performer, and that is plenty.

                          Jana backed me up as a medic, mostly. She and Darcy were primed to act as bulwarks at the gate if the main gate fell, but it never did. She fought a few Night People who came over the side (along with Aldebaran and Bellatrix), but mostly she was healing, magically and otherwise. Ashlin was very cunning. Acting as a saboteur, they sounded false alarms on the stolen warhorn, burned supplies, and cut down Gnaag’s banner he wore. Even firecrackers were used. It was kind of amazing really.

                          I confess I was excessively bold. After they had thrown themselves at the gates again and again only to be driven off by arrows, frost, and steel, had their morale damaged and supplies torched, Gnaag attempted to rally, throwing a wall of Ogers at us. I managed to make eye contact from the top of the wall. I dared him to come wordlessly. I don’t think I expected him to charge me quite so vigorously. Jana shouted an oath and pulled me behind her (which I am ashamed to say gave me a rush at her impassioned protectiveness) and Jadzia similarly shouted defiance at the creature and opened up with her ferocious arrows. Wren and Darcy joined in as well, of course, and Maria turned her magic on the Ogre. He fell, after having just gotten up from knocked down by my beloved’s arrow.

                          Beloved…

                          This has really made me think about my relationships. I have had a number of casual seductions. I very nearly seduced Wren, and did kiss her. At school I was known for my liaisons. Many girls thought they could resist my charms till I locked eyes with them. Is being serious something I want to do now? I am honestly not sure. Am I ready? Am I even adult enough?

                          I am going to get a drink of water. My throat is still raspy. Then, I think, apologize to the neighbors…

                          - - - - - -

                          I have taken both Jana and Jadzia out to dinner and dancing, in hopes of figuring out where we stand.

                          Jadzia spoke of her exploits, which was wonderful to hear. Her actually talking? Not laconic answers but actually telling stories excitedly. That was lovely to hear. But she has faced great tragedy, losing both of her parents, and a bonded companion to boot. I lost one…not that that was not enough. But I held her, and put her hands in mine while she was upset. She cares, but has issues articulating. I plan on treating her as my girlfriend for now.

                          For all she had difficulty, Jana had an even harder time. I got little of her past out of her. She had healing training also, as we found out on the Rosette Ramparts, but I knew little more. It will take longer to learn her secrets, which is unfortunate; I am so curious about Kern, my family’s homeland. Honestly, learning about Jana sort of backfired…she became melancholy, and withdrawn. While she admitted feeling, she seemed less interested in a relationship, and I think there was some sort of self-loathing involved, though I cannot imagine why. That beautiful girl still has many mysteries.

                          So I know more, but neither were able to articulate what they wanted, precisely. So I am going to call it a mixed bag. Well, except I think we all had fun, and I feel good about my connection to them.

                          And I know, in their own way, they need my help. And I must…I will…help them.

                          End Session VI

                          The Magnificent Seven Completed

                          I don’t have time easily for a long explanation of mechanics. I will note Gnaag’s charge was the result of Enrage Stunt by Tanith. I will happily answer any and all questions, though, it was a major battle.

                          Just let me know, Comments and Questions welcome.
                          Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 04-27-2018, 02:21 AM.
                          Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                          "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

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                          • #14
                            Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

                            It’s time to check back with our Heroes. They have returned to Aldis city, where a party leads them to find themselves dealing with the criminal underworld on more than one prong.

                            Session VII

                            Shadow Show Part I

                            Ashlin’s Reports

                            Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 2nd of Athalon

                            It’s a hard life. You come back in the company of a band of heroes, you go to one party, and bam! You’re right there in the mix again. Not that I’m complaining - we seem to have met nothing but beautiful and/or intriguing people over the course of the two investigations so far, and if the Silence is involved, giving them a black eye so early in my career is bound to be... let’s go with exciting.

                            ‘The Silence?!?’ I hear you exclaim, demanding that I explain myself at once. All in good time, my dear, all in good time. First, a party. As you know, we were invited to Lady Summerset’s big to-do. We all attended except for Maria, who was feeling unwell, even our adorably socially awkward warriors, who appeared to be having a good time with Laodice. Tanith spent some quality conversation time with an old friend, and Darcy made the rounds as only one so flamboyantly happy as he can do. He danced for quite a time with a dashing woman with red hair and a beautifully matched suit of dress armor.

                            I myself danced quite a bit - Thalia Redcrow and Carlotta Winter were almost competing for my attention! Drinks and flirting galore, though I, wisely of course, decided not to take either of them up on their offers. It would be rather too much like taking sides. To be fair, only Thalia actually offered, Carlotta being rather more conservative about such things. Not that I'm taking sides!

                            Alright, alright, I relent to the knives you are sending my way with your eyes back here to the past of when you are reading this. The Silence. You see, before I found my way in between the feuding merchants, I spoke with one Sapphire, a Night Person who did not appear to be enjoying the party as much as she might. Not shocking, perhaps, as she had recently lost her sister, and at some point in most likely the not too distant past, both her parents. In horrible accidents, of course, a carriage crash for her parents, and a drunken stumble of the bridge for her sister. Particularly strange, that one, as her sister was not one for getting drunk.

                            More damning than that was their actions shortly before their death. Her parents, and then her sister Topaz, and now Sapphire, were proprietors of an import company, Old River Shipping. An oddity began occurring regularly, where pairs of crates would share the same number, one with a special mark. The unmarked one would be delivered as normal. The other would be left at an off-loading site. Sapphire’s mother looked into it and found the marked crates contained stolen goods or other unsavory things. Her parents decided to stop that particular arrangement, and soon thereafter had their accident. Topaz had recently discovered all this through their notes and had gotten in contact with the Merchant's Guild. She died shortly before the arranged meeting, without passing anything on to anyone. Sapphire had to find out the same way she had.

                            Well, I advised her to not report this to anyone, particularly not sometime investigators and proceeded to say such things as to ensure that no one paying attention to us would think she would agree to help from such an uncouth ass. The next day, after confirming with the others that we would do something, one Alistair Mark, a successful trader in fabrics from a small town a few day’s ride away, visited Sapphire at her work. I did need some further information, and this clearly trusted friend of mine was just the fellow to get it without inciting worry from her trigger-happy business partners. Luckily, their next shipment is due to arrive tomorrow, so she gave Alistair the time, and we shall follow the courier, and see if we can’t get any dirt on whoever it is that receives it.

                            While Alistair was there, he met a charming young blonde named Justine, a former lover of Topaz, and current flirter with Sapphire. Sapphire seems a little disconcerted by having once walked in on the two having sex on the desk at her office, so Justine has a bit of an uphill battle. She did, however, seem sincerely concerned over Sapphire’s health and safety, going so far as to accost Alistair a little. Either that or concerned that Sapphire would continue her family’s rebellious pattern. So I followed her to The Eventide Friend, where she went upstairs to speak to someone in a heavily guarded door immediately.

                            Nothing for it - I had to rent a room. I didn’t pay too much attention to the details of the business arrangement, as I was intending to take up space in the room next to the one Justine went into for a very brief span of time, regardless of how long the room would be guaranteed for, or which room it was. I also picked up a drink of whatever came in glasses, finishing it quickly so that by the time I got to the room, I had a handy sound magnification tool. It was still not easy to make out, but the gist was clear. Justine was calling on another ex - Annette DeVeers, roguish criminal extraordinaire - to help her look into whatever was making Sapphire uneasy. An ex she had robbed the last time she had slept with her. Sorry, “borrowed from”. Without asking.

                            I managed to pop on in, and Annette - definitely a sharp one - caught on pretty quickly that the water was slightly over Justine’s head here, and while perhaps not over hers, at least high enough that she couldn’t guarantee Sapphire’s safety, should she start poking around. She agreed, with goodwill and a few prickly jabs at Justine and her fickleness, to stay out of it, unless Justine came up with a plan for her to help that had my approval. It is nice to have your skills and wisdom appreciated immediately.

                            I took Justine off her hands and convinced her after a few drinks and promises, once outside the earshot of anyone but her, that we wouldn’t be just sitting idly by, and after I pointed out that any connection of any kind of investigation and Sapphire herself would be the most dangerous thing for the woman that she was trying to protect, and that the woman she was trying to avenge wouldn’t appreciate that, that she should stay out of it. I did promise to bring her in if there was anything safe she could do to help.

                            In the meantime, the others were following up on a second investigation, which, as it turns out, may potentially be connected. We were planning on connecting it anyway, but it may turn out to be less of a deception. Though other deceptions might leak in...

                            To begin properly, Polaris Fairlight approached Darcy with a business proposition. According to her, Anactoria had recently dallied with a new subcaptain in the Guard, and quite broken the poor woman’s heart. Polaris felt guilty about that, not having warned Aneshka (the striking red head Darcy danced with) when she had come to ask Polaris’ permission to have a relationship with her wife. She wanted to help promote the young Guard’s confidence, and having heard that she was having trouble with an investigation into sorcerous happenings, thought to engage our services to assist her.

                            We are always up for foiling sorcerors in our fair city, so even though we knew there was no way Polaris was telling the whole truth, we decided to help. So while Alistair spoke to Sapphire, Darcy and Jadzia went to speak with Aneshka. What had happened, according to the Guard, was that a pair of rhycats, Lord High Imperator Thaddeus Aurelius Castillanus Fuzzykins III and Tiberius, discovered some evidence of smuggled sorcerous artifacts and followed the perpetrators to an abandoned house. They tried to take the group head on, but lost the fight, though not before marking their leader. Unfortunately, the sorcerous smugglers had cleared out before the Guard returned to the site.

                            Being nearby, Darcy and Jadzia then went to speak with Lord High Imperator Thaddeus Aurelius Castillanus Fuzzykins III, while Tanith and Jana went to go investigate the house the rhycats had ambushed. They, like the Guard, found very little, largely that it had been a meeting site, or a ritual site, not their HQ - it was too well cleared out, and not well used enough. More importantly, they should be able to recognize the magical signatures of those who cast spells against the rhycats, should they see them in the future.

                            Lord High Imperator Thaddeus Aurelius Castillanus Fuzzykins III himself provided what is likely the most complete version of what actually happened. He runs a curio shop, occasionally taking on the task of procuring specialty items, like a powerful magical artifact in the form of a crystalline monkey statue. This had been stolen, which, should it remain so, would mean some very powerful people - among whom I wager is Polaris Fairlight herself - would be quite angry with him. Just as mad as they would be if it wound up in the hands of the Guard.

                            Thankfully, Lord High Imperator Thaddeus Aurelius Castillanus Fuzzykins III has some ability to track items that he has marked. This, in fact, was how they found the sorceror’s hideout - the smuggling connection was discovered after the fact and used as an excuse to hide their interest in/the existence of that particular artifact. Once there, they found a whole group of people, all of whom but one, the leader/speaker of the gathering, were invisible to Lord High Imperator Thaddeus Aurelius Castillanus Fuzzykins III’s psychic sight. Despite seeming to be concealing themselves for a potential ambush, the people there seemed surprised. Still, with so many, and a couple of them throwing around sorcery like Torment, the rhycats found themselves on the losing end.

                            Tiberius was able to identify a number of the sorcerors as being from the Lake Ward, by smell, apparently, and had also been able to track some of the smuggling down to a bar in the Lower Ward, The Lady’s Last Choice. Our preliminary plan had been to use the Guard’s investigation into potential sorcery as a way to alert them to whatever we found when investigating Sapphire’s troubles - if the Guard followed a red herring from an entirely different investigation and happened to break up a smuggling ring, well, that can’t be Sapphire’s fault, no? This new information we found seemed to lead into that, in that it was even less suspicious that the Guard follow a lead in a case about smuggling sorcerors and happen upon another smuggling ring. Or perhaps it wouldn’t even be a red herring. With that thought in mind, after checking in with the rest of us, Darcy and Jadzia headed down to The Lady’s Last Choice, to see if they couldn’t find some way to connect the investigations.


                            Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                            (Whispered in Rezean in the Nocturna estate stables)

                            “Hello, Salkhi. Yes, once again I have come to speak with you. I… things have changed for me lately in ways I find… difficult to comprehend. You are a good listener, and you know me as well as anyone, so I thought that I might discuss these changes with you for a while, in the hopes that I might come to better understand my new circumstances.

                            “Following our return from Rosette, things were quiet for a while. While this lull held, Tanith decided that she wished to further explore her relationship with Jana and myself. So on three successive evenings, we paired off and spent the night learning more about each other. Tanith and Jana enjoyed each other on the first evening, then Tanith and myself, and then Jana and myself.

                            “I do not know what passed between my two lovers during their time together, but on the following evening, Tanith took me to an expensive restaurant. I wore one of the dresses she had purchased for me rather than my armor, hoping to please her, and I carried neither bow nor sword. She… she told me as we ate that her feelings for me had grown, and said that she wanted to get to know me better. I responded in kind, and began to speak of my exploits with the Tenniral clan back in Rezea. I may have fallen to boasting at some point; it is a fault to which I know I am prone.

                            “Before I realized it, I was opening up to her, speaking of things which I typically tell no one. It was the first time I have spoken of Tuya-mama, Savar-mama, and… and poor Iyara since Darcy rescued me from myself more than a year ago. It was difficult… more difficult than I would have guessed. In a way, it was like losing them again; like feeling the void in my soul anew. And yet… and yet, that evening, when Tanith took me into her bed and held me and whispered to me of her deep feelings, I discovered that her healing talents are not confined to the realm of physical ailments. Her presence was like a balm or salve which served to ease my pain.

                            “She wants to be with me, as more than a friend or lover, and my heart would have it so as well. She is my shar tsetseg, the golden flower which covers the plains of Rezea in springtime so that they gleam like a second sun. I longed to give her the answer she craved, and yet…

                            “And yet neither of us wished to exclude Jana from our happiness, and Jana is hesitant to join with us officially. I learned this the following evening, when she and I tarried with each other. It was the first time either of us had been with the other without Tanith present. We began at a somewhat humbler eatery, and then returned to the Nocturna estate for the night. As with Tanith, I told Jana much of my history. She spoke of her own past in Kern… but there is much she still keeps hidden.

                            “There is some darkness in her past of which she will not speak, though I shared my own tragedies with her as I had with Tanith… I do not know why, but I will not pry into that which she wishes to conceal. This may be the reason she is hesitant to make things official with Tanith and myself… she seems to feel that she is in some wise unworthy of our attention. I do not understand this attitude myself; she is Tanith’s equal in beauty and a match for my skills on the battlefield, so in that way she is perhaps the best of us. But whether I understand her reasoning or not, I must respect her wishes.

                            “I confess that I am glad those wishes did not include ending our trysts. As she lay in my arms that night, her face losing its cares as she drifted off to sleep, I stroked her long silvery hair and contemplated my good fortune. She is my oddyn, my starlight, and I shall be content with the gleams and glimmers that fall to me, bound as I am to this mortal earth.

                            “Tanith and I have agreed: we shall continue as we were, being perhaps a bit more openly affectionate in public but without formalizing our relationship on a permanent basis. When Jana reconsiders, when she is ready to accept what she means to us, we shall visit the issue once more.

                            “Recently, we – as a company – were asked to attend a social gathering at the house of an Aldin noble by the name of Lady Summerset. It appears that word of our triumph at Rosette has begun to spread, and there were many who were eager to be regaled by thrilling tales of our exploits. I tried to accommodate as many as I could, but I am neither bard nor skald, and have not the skill to make such stories interesting to any but another warrior. Tanith introduced us to many important people and told us why they were regarded as such, but I confess that I have no memory for names. I recognized the Lady Polaris Fairlight and her wife Anactoria, though.

                            “Perhaps that is why Jana and I soon found ourselves off to one side of the dance floor, conversing with Laodice, a sea folk woman who serves as the bodyguard of Trebizond, the master strategist who works across the street from our own office. The two of them had recently returned from an adventure in the pirate-infested waters of the southern archipelago, and she had many thrilling tales of her own to share (though these were salted heavily with irritated comments about how all of the lovely ladies they encountered were instantly smitten with her handsome companion rather than with her).

                            “Tanith seemed safe enough speaking with one of her old school friends across the room. I caught some reference to a ‘pillow-fight,’ which was incomprehensible to me. Why would anyone choose to enter combat armed with something designed specifically not to hurt anyone with whom it might come into contact? Is this some sort of Aldin rite of passage, perhaps… are young braves in this city required to defeat their enemies, armed only with something so innocuous as to seem ridiculous? Perhaps they are expected to pin and smother their foes…

                            “In any case, the rest of the evening passed relatively quietly for the three of us. Jana and I attempted to advise Laodice regarding suitable attire for a wedding, if you can believe that. As she will be attending in an official capacity as Trebizond’s bodyguard, we both opined that her armor would suffice. Our friends seemed to be enjoying themselves; I noticed Ashlin dancing with many people, and Darcy took a few turns on the floor as well… including one dance with a red-haired woman of striking beauty dressed in the formal armor of a guard.

                            “The three of us returned to the Nocturna estate that evening, and went in to the office the following morning as usual. Several potential jobs had presented themselves at the party, and we discussed which of them would be most suited to our particular talents. First, Ashlin brought to our attention the case of one Sapphire Steelheart, a young Night Woman who is recently bereaved. Her family owns a small shipping business in Aldis City. Some months ago, her mother noticed some irregularities in the records; certain crates were arriving with duplicate identification numbers or some-such… I confess that I do not fully grasp the specifics of the problem. In short, however, Sapphire’s mother determined that some person or persons unknown was using her business to transport stolen or otherwise illicit goods. She spoke with the guards about this… and she and her husband died in a suspicious carriage accident shortly thereafter.

                            “The reins of the business were handed over to Sapphire’s elder sister Topaz. Though Sapphire does not know for a fact that Topaz uncovered further evidence of the irregularities, it seems likely. Topaz fell off a bridge a week or so ago in a drunken stupor. According to Sapphire, Topaz was not one to overindulge in drink, so this death was also suspicious. She is now in a difficult situation; she wishes to do the honorable thing and clear her business of all wrongdoing, but she fears for her own life.

                            “Darcy had another matter worthy of our attention to discuss. It seems that the pretty guard he danced with last night has problems of her own. Her name is Aneshka Snowdown, and she is having difficulties with one of her own investigations. She uncovered evidence of a secret society of sorcerers, but their trail seems to have gone cold recently, and her only witness to their activities is proving recalcitrant. As we have dealt with sorcerers within the City before, Darcy thought that we might see what we could do to help root these out.

                            “One word of caution on this front, however… Aneshka did not solicit our help herself. The request came from none other than Lady Polaris Fairlight. She claims that Aneshka had become involved in a tryst with her wife, Anactoria, who had… treated her carelessly and hurt her feelings. Polaris, claiming that she felt some responsibility for her wife’s actions, asked if we might help Aneshka as a means of making amends. As Tanith was quick to remind us, Polaris Fairlight never does anything without expecting to gain something, so I am certain that we have not heard all of the details of this arrangement.

                            “Still and all, both matters seemed worthy of our concern. Tanith, Jana, and Ashlin decided to investigate the troubles at the Old River Shipping Company. Knowing that my paramours would look after each other, I felt secure in offering my assistance to Darcy in rooting out the Lower Ward’s sorcery problem, and the two of us rode out to see what we could uncover.

                            “Though Tanith established a magical line of communication with me before we parted (with a soft and tender kiss), I do not know much of what transpired with the other group today. I know that they have located one of the suspicious crates, and intend to follow it to whomever is responsible for it, and then perhaps to have the guards “accidentally” stumble across the offending party (hopefully insulating Miss Sapphire from the blame). And apparently Ashlin has uncovered a former paramour of Topaz who wishes to help with our investigation.

                            “I confess that most of my attention has been focused on Lieutenant Snowdown’s problem, however. The Lieutenant would not have come to us on her own, but she was happy to accept our assistance once it had been offered. She explained to us that a pair of rhy-cats had come to her with evidence that sorcerous artifacts were being smuggled into town for nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, the warehouse in which the cats had witnessed the vile deeds had been completely cleared by the time the guards arrived to investigate, and they had found no clues as to how to proceed with their inquiries.

                            “Darcy and I proceeded to a well-appointed shop to question one of the rhy-cats… a haughty fellow with the improbable moniker of ‘The Lord High Imperator Thaddeus Aurelius Castilianus Fuzzikins III.’ I confess that I found this appellation somewhat ridiculous, and after a few moments I defaulted to calling him ‘Whiskers,’ which I convinced him to accept as an affectionate nickname.

                            “We eventually ascertained that Whiskers occasionally indulges in business which is not entirely legal, obtaining and selling questionable items on behalf of anonymous patrons. One such item was a crystalline statue of a creature called a ‘monkey,’ which he had acquired at great personal cost. The statue had been stolen from him, but he had marked it in such a way that he could track it. He and a friend named Tiberius had followed the statue to a dockside warehouse. They used magic to check the building out, and detected only one presence inside. Deciding to take a risk to recover their stolen property, they ventured inside.

                            “Unfortunately, in addition to the man leading the ritual they found within, there were five other people present, dressed in red and black hooded robes. These others had been shielding their presence with some sort of psychic discipline. Whiskers and Tiberius found themselves outmatched. Whiskers managed to scratch the leader on his face before things degenerated, but they were forced to flee shortly thereafter, and as Lieutenant Snowdown had told us, the warehouse had been cleared out before they were able to return with reinforcements.

                            “Darcy hazarded a guess that the crystal monkey statue might be the Lady Fairlight’s true stake in this investigation… either that she hoped to sell it on consignment through Whiskers’ shop, or that she hoped to buy it from him in one of his illicit auctions. The latter seems more likely to me; if she wanted to sell the statue she could just threaten Whiskers directly for money equal to its value, and would not have needed to employ us to find the statue itself.

                            “I relayed this information to Tanith through our psychic link, and she and Jana offered to examine the warehouse in the hopes of finding some clue as to the cultists’ identities, or at the least of recognizing the magic they had attempted to perform there. Alas, their investigation bore little more fruit than the guards’… though Tanith is certain she will recognize the sorcerer involved if she should witness his or her magic again firsthand.

                            “As for Darcy and I, well… we followed the only other avenue of inquiry available to us. Whiskers contacted Tiberius through their own mental link to see if he could provide us with any additional information. While he was not wildly useful (‘I apologize, he’s an idiot,’ Whiskers told us), he did tell us that most of the cultists had been from the Lake Ward… he could smell its distinct aroma on them. He had made his own inquiries over the past few days, and told us of a suspicious tavern known as The Lady’s Last Choice.

                            “We made our way toward the tavern as quickly as we could, of course. But you know this part, you were with us when…

                            “I apologize. My lady calls for me. We shall finish our chat later, dear one.”


                            Jana’s Letters

                            Dear Mother,

                            Tonight we went to a party. I believe that most of what happened at the party went over my head, but there you have it. I was a bodyguard and guest of Tanith’s, as was Jadzia. I don’t know that Tanith actually rates two bodyguards, but I am loath to leave her and so I function as a back up bodyguard to her person. I see no reason why Jadzia should not take the lead role in that regard. She is closer to Tanith than I am. I don’t know if that makes her too close to the subject of our work or not, but she is devoted to her nonetheless. That should make her a good bodyguard. I have guarded people before, but never someone that I actually cared about. I don’t know if my feelings make me too close to the subject at heart or not. It turns out that my misgivings about my adequacy were moot. Nothing happened at the party that was of any real note. At least nothing that I noticed. I am sure that others had very interesting evenings. I know Ash danced with both Carlotta Winter and Thalia Redcrow. Those two women hate each other, and both seemed to be trying to lay claim to Ash. He played both sides rather well and didn’t show favoritism one way or the other. That in an of itself is far more than I would have been able to do.

                            While the others were dealing with political and social intrigues I had plain and simple conversation with Laodice. She wanted to know what had happened in Rosette and so between Jadzia and I we regaled her with the tale of our bravery. Mostly it was a recounting of the amazing deeds that the folks on the wall did, but I tried to highlight the amazing things that Ash pulled off and what Maria did from her vantage point. My own contributions were far less important, so I didn’t really speak of them much. After that though we did have a conversation with Laodice about what she and Trebizond had been up to lately. Apparently they had gone to the archipelago and had fought off pirates and kidnappers. There were some folks that wanted to kidnap Trebizond, but Laodice fought them off. Then in a complete change of topic she asked if it was proper for someone to wear armor to a wedding. I replied that it was if you were someone’s bodyguard. This prompted a discussion between me, Laodice and Jadzia. We all agreed in the end though that it was okay for a bodyguard to wear armor no matter the circumstances. Laodice then asked if I had been trained as a bodyguard. I admitted that I had been employed as a bodyguard in the past but had never been trained as such. She then surmised that I was not fond of those that I had guarded. I admitted that I had not guarded people that I particularly liked. That was the understatement of the year. I can honestly say that I hated most of those that I guarded. I am loath to tell Tanith that I think her Grandmother is one of those that I was particularly unhappy to have guarded.

                            Love always,
                            Jana

                            Dear Mother,
                            Well, today definitely started off in an interesting manner. Ashlin came to the store dressed as an old man and told us the woes of a night woman named Sapphire Steelheart. Apparently, her family business is involved unknowingly in illegal trading and/or smuggling, but she is unsure. The first people to look into this business were her parents and they ended up dead in a mysterious carriage accident. Then the business fell to her sister Topaz, who shortly after looking into duplicate crates showing up at their warehouse had a drunken fall from a bridge. All of these were staged to look like accidents, but it is unlikely that they are accidents at all. Ashlin had advised the woman to keep her council and not involve anyone else in the matter. He said that he would look into it but in such a way that would not come back to her and get her or anyone else killed for the indiscretion. It is likely that something far more sinister is going on, but we can’t prove it as of yet. Someone mentioned the idea of The Silence being involved. I was then told, when I looked questioningly at them, that The Silence is a criminal organization in the city that is known for making deaths look like accidents and such. It is likely that the Steelhearts have found themselves in something far more dangerous than they have ever faced. Hell, it is something that we as a group have never faced. Well, Ashlin may have some dealings with underground organizations. He seems to have his fingers in all sorts of pies, but I for one have never dealt with a criminal underground that is as pervasive as The Silence seems to be. We will need to be careful when dealing with this issue.

                            There was also talk about a guard named Aneshka that had witnessed something or thought she had stumbled across some sorcery. Ashlin was going to go look into what was going on with Sapphire and see what he could find out about that. Darcy and Jadzia went to talk to a Rhy cat named Thaddeus something or other who was connected to Aneshka. He had witnessed the sorcery first hand and they went to go talk to him about what had happened. Apparently, he and his friend Tiberius had stumbled across a group of people, who had shielded themselves from detection, doing something in a warehouse. Thaddeus believed that they were stealing things and they got a guard, Aneshka, involved. Or something like that. Most of this is second hand from Tanith’s mind link with Jadzia. It was very fragmentary and confused from my point of view.

                            Tanith and I went to the warehouse that Thaddeus referred to, to see what we could find out. We investigated the scene and found that while there were distinct magical signatures left behind we don’t know for sure who they are connected to. Tanith said that if she sensed those magical signatures again she would be able to recognize them. That in and of itself is something, but not a lot to go on right at this moment. If we had actually managed to capture one of these magicians we could have questioned them. The easy thing would have been to take the information that we wanted from their minds, but that way is a shadowed path and not one that I want Tanith to follow. I must make sure that she does not become comfortable or even familiar with anything that I did, or was party to, on a regular basis in Kern.

                            All of this is far more intrigue and mystery than I am used to dealing with. It is interesting to say the least and will require far more subtlety than I am used to employing. I hope that my friends, especially Ashlin who seems more comfortable with all of this, will help me navigate my way through these treacherous waters. I do not want to inadvertently cause problems for someone due to my ignorance. I must be especially careful. I know that this is not something that you ever prepared me for. You guided me when it came to living in Kern and dealing with evil overlords, not for subtle machinations such as these. I will of course use your good advice as far as it will serve and will rely on my friends to guide me further. I wish that you could have seen me leave the service of Kern and strike off on my own. I wish that you could see me now, accepting lessons from noble bodyguards and helping to keep strangers safe from criminals. I wish…

                            Love always,
                            Jana

                            End Session VII

                            New stories, oh lets see

                            Anactoria Fairlight, Polaris Fairlight, Laodice, Trebizond, Carlotta Winter, Thalia Redcrow, and Cordelia Summerset were in the first story, though I think the latter three got passing mention as being at one party or another, if any at all, where the first two were fairly important. So a large cast (again) but several familiar faces.

                            The Magical Signature was found with Second Sight, Tanith having the necessary Talents to enhance her Second Sight. She also got Psychic Communication between games.

                            So I have gotten a request for current character stats. I have told my players there is reader interest, and I plan to post any I receive in a week, between sessions. So back a little sooner. Then or now, Comments and Questions welcome.
                            Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                            "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

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                            • #15
                              Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

                              A reader asked for character stats, so I thought this off weekend would be a good time to put some up. Here they are, for your enjoyment. I could not get them from everyone but this is what I got access to this time.

                              Cat’s Cradle Level 3

                              Ashlin
                              Name: Ashlin
                              Race: Human
                              Gender: Laevvel
                              Background: Aldin
                              Class: Expert
                              Calling: The uncovering of trickery (Exarch)
                              Destiny: Daring (Eight of Chalices)
                              Fate: Deceptive (Page of Chalices)
                              Hit Points: 47
                              Speed: 13
                              Defense: 13
                              Armor: 3
                              Languages: Roamer, Aldin, Lar’tyan

                              Abilities
                              Accuracy 2
                              Communication 3
                              Constitution 2
                              Dexterity 3
                              Fighting 0
                              Intelligence 2
                              Perception 4
                              Strength 0
                              Willpower 1

                              Focuses:
                              Dexterity (Riding)
                              Dexterity (Lockpicking)
                              Communications (Deception)
                              Communication (Disguise)
                              Constitution (Drinking)
                              Intelligence (Cultural Lore)
                              Intelligence (Cryptography)


                              Talents:
                              Intrigue (Novice) - Deception
                              Thievery (Novice)
                              Carousing (Novice)

                              Weapons Groups:
                              Bows
                              Brawling
                              Light Blades
                              Staves

                              Equipment:
                              Masterwork Throwing Knives (Deadly)
                              Long knife
                              Light armor -


                              Jadzia of Clan Tenniral
                              Name: Jadzia of Clan Tenniral
                              Race: Human
                              Gender: Female
                              Background: Khanate of Rezea
                              Class: Warrior
                              Calling: Justice (Justice)
                              Destiny: Competitive (Five of Rods)
                              Fate: Reckless (Seven of Rods)
                              Hit Points: 49
                              Speed: 13 move, 6 charge, 26 run
                              Defense: 13
                              Armor: 5 (Medium Leather)
                              Languages: Rezean, Aldin

                              Abilities
                              Accuracy 5
                              Communication 0
                              Constitution 1
                              Dexterity 3
                              Fighting 4
                              Intelligence 0
                              Perception 3
                              Strength 1
                              Willpower 0

                              Focuses:
                              Accuracy (Bows)
                              Communication (Animal Handling)
                              Constitution (Stamina)
                              Dexterity (Brawling)
                              Dexterity (Riding)
                              Dexterity (Stealth)
                              Fighting (Heavy Blades)
                              Intelligence (Military Lore)

                              Talents:
                              Archery Style (Novice) – +1 Damage when within 6 yards.
                              Armor Training (Novice) – Can wear Light and Medium armor with no DEX penalty.
                              Dual Weapon Style (Novice) – Can use Activate action to gain +1 to Attack or +1 to Defense. Can switch bonus with another Activate action.
                              Horsemanship (Novice) – Can mount a steed as a Free Action.
                              Mounted Combat (Novice) – Can take part of movement, attack, and then take remaining movement

                              Weapons Groups:
                              Bows
                              Brawling
                              Heavy Blades
                              Polearms

                              Powers:
                              Heroic Armor (1)

                              Equipment:
                              Standard Bow (Deadly; +1 damage)
                              Heavy Saber (x2)
                              Medium Leather Armor
                              Rezean Horse & Associated Tack

                              Attacks:
                              Bow - +7 attack 1d6+5 damage 16 yds short 32 yds long
                              Heavy Saber - +6 attack 2d6+1 damage


                              Jana Totten
                              Name: Jana Totten
                              Race: Vata’sha
                              Gender: Female
                              Background: Kern
                              Class: Warrior
                              Calling: Attonment (Judgement)
                              Destiny: Practical (Seven of Chalices)
                              Fate: Jaded (Queen of Rods)
                              Hit Points: 47
                              Speed: 12
                              Defense: 14
                              Armor: 9 (Heavy Plate)
                              Languages: Aldin, Rezean

                              Abilities
                              Accuracy 2
                              Communication 0
                              Constitution 2
                              Dexterity 2
                              Fighting 3
                              Intelligence 1
                              Perception 2
                              Strength 3
                              Willpower 1

                              Focuses:
                              Constitution (Stamina)
                              Fighting (Heavy Blades)
                              Intelligence (Healing)
                              Perception (Seeing)
                              Perception (Empathy)
                              Strength (Climbing)

                              Talents
                              Armor Training (Journeyman)
                              Healing (Novice)
                              Observation (Novice)
                              Single Weapon Style (Novice)
                              Weapon & Shield (Novice)

                              Weapons Groups:
                              Axes
                              Brawling
                              Heavy Blades
                              Light Blades

                              Arcana: Cure, Psychic Shield, Second Sight

                              Powers: Hero’s Armor 1

                              Racial Abilities:
                              Dark Sight – 30 Yards. Bright Light blinds for 1 round
                              Vata Aging
                              Vata Healing

                              Starting Equipment:
                              Long Sword, Dirk
                              Heavy plate Armor, Medium Shield, Rope


                              Tanith Nocturna
                              Name: Tanith Nocturna
                              Race: Vata’Sha
                              Gender: Female
                              Background: Aldin
                              Class: Adept
                              Calling: Change (Death)
                              Destiny: Compassion (Nine of Swords)
                              Fate: Cruelty (Five of Swords)
                              Hit Points: 35
                              Speed: 11
                              Defense: 11
                              Armor: 3
                              Languages: Aldin, Lar’tyan, Rezean, Old Aldin

                              Abilities
                              Accuracy 0
                              Communication 5
                              Constitution 1
                              Dexterity 1
                              Fighting 0
                              Intelligence 4
                              Perception 2
                              Strength 0
                              Willpower 4

                              Focuses:
                              Communications (Persuasion)
                              Communication (Romance)
                              Communication (Psychic)
                              Intelligence (Healing)
                              Intelligence (Cultural Lore)
                              Willpower (Self-Discipline)

                              Talents:
                              Arcane Training (Novice)
                              Healing (Novice)
                              Inspire (Journeyman)
                              Linguistics (Novice)
                              Psychic (Novice)
                              Visionary (Novice)

                              Weapons Groups:
                              Brawling
                              Staves

                              Arcana
                              Cure, Enhancement, Flesh Shaping, Sleep
                              Visions
                              Mind Shaping, Psychic Contact, Psychic Shield, Psychic Weapon, Second Sight

                              Powers
                              Arcane Channeling

                              Racial Abilities
                              Darksight 30'
                              Vata Healing
                              Vata Aging

                              Equipment:
                              Designer clothes, Staff, Leather Armor, D’Shaad (Winged Cat Familiar)


                              Maria Highmore
                              Name: Maria Highmore
                              Race: Human
                              Gender: Female
                              Background: Aldin
                              Class: Adept
                              Calling: The World (Exploration and Discovery)
                              Destiny: Courageous
                              Fate: Cowardly
                              Hit Points: 34
                              Speed: 11
                              Defense: 11
                              Armor: 4
                              Languages: Aldin, Rezean, Old Aldin, Old Vatazin

                              Abilities
                              Accuracy 3
                              Communication 1
                              Constitution 0
                              Dexterity 1
                              Fighting 0
                              Intelligence 5
                              Perception 3
                              Strength 0
                              Willpower 4

                              Focuses:
                              Communications (Bargaining)
                              Dexterity (Stealth)
                              Intelligence (Cultural Lore)
                              Intelligence (Shaping)
                              Perception (Searching)
                              Willpower (Self-Discipline)

                              Talents:
                              Arcane Training (Novice)
                              Linguistics (Novice)
                              Lore (Journeyman)
                              Shaping (Journeyman)


                              Weapons Groups:
                              Brawling
                              Staves

                              Arcana
                              Cold Shaping, Move Object, Water Shaping, Weather Shaping, Wind Shaping
                              Psychic Shield, Second Sight

                              Powers
                              Arcane Channeling

                              Equipment:
                              Staff, Reinforced Leather Armor
                              --

                              Next week we are back with Session eight. See you then.
                              Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 05-04-2018, 02:19 AM.
                              Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                              "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

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