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Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

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  • #46
    Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

    Trebizond gives the word. The Battle of Auchindoun begins.

    I apologize for the state of the OP. I am doing everything in my power to fix it. Which seems to be not much. Evan is helping, though. Suggestions welcome.

    Session XXX

    Dark Tides Cresting Part IV

    Ashlin’s Reports

    Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 11 Gravihain

    Well, I can now add both gryphon and wooly mammoth to the list of things I’ve ridden. The Battle at Auchindoun was a long and hard one, but it has been won, and we are on our way home. With any luck, the ripples from this will keep Kern and its bullshit off our back for a bit. And by Kern, I of course mean Melisandre, but knowing her vindictiveness, this will likely just make it worse.

    I spent most of the battle in the sky, using my new weird sound powers to help with communications. At one point though, the team acquired a pair of wooly mammoths, and needed another driver – Darcy named one Sergio and appointed himself lead mammoth wrangler, but Alejandro was all mine. Mammoths are… let’s say, effective combatants. Very… stompy. And the fact that they made the Kernish forces think we were allies until we attacked was icing on the cake.

    The really exciting bit came when we were sent to help Amaiala. Irena was attacking her position, making a major push to take her out. We were well set up to deal with that – the two mammoths played nicely with the ogres, and the others dealt handily with the smaller ground troops. Maria summoned an air elemental, who had a wonderful playdate with Irena’s wyvern, as well as her spectre buddies. Between Maria’s magic and Darcy’s light, the spectres weren’t around long however.

    Things were going great when Darcy jumped from the back of Sergio (the mammoth, remember) onto the wyvern with Irena. He managed to unbuckle her saddle – turns out air elementals are great at pushing people around, but not so much when they are strapped in. Now, Darcy paid for it – boy howdy did he pay for it – but said air elemental was able to carry him back to the mammoth before Irena finished him off.

    That’s when things got exciting. Melisandre mind-controlled Darcy, ordering him to attack Jadzia. Jadzia tried to knock Irena out of her saddle, and when that failed, Maria yanked her off again. She landed heavily and laid into Tanith, Lady Talis controlling her from afar. Tavia and Melisandre fought over Darcy’s mind, but Melisandre kept control long enough for Darcy to chainwhip the hell out of Jadzia, and then turn towards Jana. He managed to fight his way free (I’m sure my desperate attempt to… slow him down slightly by hanging off his waist? Helped) though, at which point Melisandre turned her attention towards Jadzia. Thankfully, Maria finished Irena off before Jadzia could murder the rest of us, and Tanith (once I stabilized her a little) shooed her grandmother out of Jadzia’s head.

    So, in the end, it all worked out, and we won, denying Melisandre yet another Skull Knight from her retinue. Those whose head she was in said she was more than a little unhappy with Talis for going after Tanith, so maybe there’ll be a little more unrest among the high and mighty of Kern. We can hope, right?

    I’ll be home soon. Maybe I’ll even get warm again, at some point.

    [Cloven hoof mark]


    Jadzia’s Horse Sense

    (Whispered in Rezean in the stables of the Nocturna Estate)

    “No, Salkhi, I still do not wish to speak of that day. Stop pestering me! Did I not know well your provenance, I might name you a nag indeed!

    “…I am sorry, Dear One. That was unworthy. You are not to blame for my foul temper, and I should not treat you so. I love you, Salkhi.

    “…yes, I suppose you do deserve an explanation. But please take heed. It is not a pleasant reminiscence, and I do not wish to revisit it more than once.

    “Yes, alright… the early skirmishes were magnificent in their own way. We breached their unnatural, unliving wall, we destroyed their siege engine, we defeated skull knights and ogres and mundane undead alike with few problems. Once we had made a breach for the armies of Aldis and Jarzon, we surged through the gap to see what we could do to further weaken Kern’s forces.

    “Unfortunately our next encounter wrong-footed me. Though my friends assure me that the beasts the Kernish rode into battle were not shadow-spawn, I confess that I fail to see how that can be possible. Bloated to incredible size, covered with lank matted hair, with curved teeth that extended feet from their gaping maws and noses longer than my arm that waved about like the tentacles of some hideous sea creature… how could these abominations be natural? They could not be ridden in the manner of civilized mounts; the Kernish forces had instead built small huts on their backs.

    “Their intentions were clear… they meant to drive the beasts toward the Aldin lines and trample as many of Auchindoun’s defenders as possible. We clearly could not allow that to happen, so we rode in to face these monstrosities in battle. It was quickly apparent that traditional tactics would be ineffective against the beasts, however… their leathery hide was too thick for our weapons, so we were forced to devise another approach.

    “I supposed – correctly, as it turned out – that such beasts could not possibly possess the fighting spirit necessary to make them true war mounts. Unlike you, Dear One, they could be turned against their riders with the relatively simple application of guile and intimidation. While Darcy nimbly scaled the beasts’ hides, disposed of their riders, and bent them to his will, I – my strength bolstered by my Sunflower’s arcana – brandished Magmus’ club this way and that, driving the hideous creatures into a state of panic. How their mad little eyes rolled with terror! In short order most of the beasts had been routed, but two had fallen under our control. Though I was opposed to using such creatures at first… I must admit that they were useful when combatting ogres.

    “We fought our way through several more skirmishes, but our final battle was the only one that truly mattered. We were called in to aid the Purity Knight Amaiala, whose forces were flagging. The reason became obvious upon our arrival: the vampiric skull knight Irena commanded the enemy from the back of her wyvern. My heart leaped when I saw her. Here was a chance to deal a true and telling blow against Melisandre by killing one of her most trusted lieutenants!

    “I was a fool.

    “The battle went well at first. The mammoth-beasts engaged the ogres on the field, and by and large kept them from harassing our own forces. Jana protected the casters while I fired arrows up at Irena herself. Darcy leaped from the back of the mammoth-beast he commanded and engaged Irena directly. Her counterattack was devastating… she struck him thrice almost faster than I could see, and it was obvious that they were telling blows. Maria’s summoned wind elemental removed him from the beast and saw him safely to the ground, where my Sunflower tended to his wounds. And then everything began to go wrong.

    “He struck me, Salkhi. My dearest friend in all the world, the man who saved my life and pulled me from despair on the plains of Rezea, lashed out at me and drew my blood. I could not comprehend why he would do such a thing… but then I saw the look in his eyes, and knew that he was fighting against some external control with all of his might. I trusted that he would overcome this foul influence shortly, and turned my attention back to Irena.

    “Darcy had unbuckled her saddle while he was on the wyvern’s back, and I thought that I might be able to unseat her with a powerful enough shot. Alas, I was not able to do so… but Maria once again proved her worth in battle by using arcana to pluck the foul creature out of the sky and hurl her to the ground.

    “We all fell upon her, dealing as much damage as we could before she could react to her new circumstances. Unfortunately we were not fast enough to prevent her from completing one last act of spite. She struck Tanith, and my Sunflower gasped and fell to her knees. She was able to heal herself a moment later, and I breathed a sigh of relief when she stood once more. The others tell me that Irena was under the control of one of the Seven at the time; that she was loyal to Melisandre and would not have attempted to kill her Mistress’ granddaughter had she been in her right mind. At that moment I did not care.

    “I regret that the blow that killed Irena did not come from my hand. My Snowfall rushed forward and plunged her lance into the vampire’s breast, but it was Maria who finished her for good. She sent a dagger of arcane ice plunging into Irena, and the abomination moved no more. And if only I could conclude my tale there, Dear One…

    “A fog fell over me during Irena’s final moments, though I did not recognize it as such until later. At the time everything seemed perfectly natural. My Mistress’ granddaughter was near, and she was not to be harmed… but her friends were acting against my Mistress’ orders and had to be stopped by any means necessary. In particular, the large Night Person and the armored vata’sha traitor had become thorns in her sides, and it would please her if I could slay them.

    “I lashed out at the Night Person, but he nimbly stepped aside from my blow. I turned my attention toward the vata’sha, and…

    “Tanith’s hands gently caressed the sides of my head and I felt myself returning. As Tanith began warding the area against further psychic intrusions, I turned to Darcy in shame and begged for his forgiveness. He took my hand and asked for the same from me.

    “My friends do not blame me for succumbing to Melisandre’s control, but my disgust at my own weakness knows no bounds. My shame cannot be measured with words. That vile sorceress was inside of my head, Salkhi, and she made me try to hurt my best friend. She nearly made me lash out at my Starlight, Dear One… my precious Jana. And if this hand had succeeded in doing her any harm it would no longer be attached to my arm.

    “Melisandre must not be allowed to live, Salkhi. She made me hate my family, and she made me… she made me love her. Not as I love my Sunflower, or my Starlight, or my Snowfall, you understand… it was more like worship or adoration. For those scant seconds, she was the most important thing in the world to me, and nothing else seemed to matter very much. She is… too dangerous.

    “I do not know what I should do about this. My first thought was that I must seek her out alone when I go to kill her, so that I cannot be turned against my allies by her sorcerous powers. But our battle has proven that without their aid, I am simply no match for her arcana. Perhaps there is some way that I could train my mind to resist her control? I do not know. And I have never been very good at studying in any case.

    “My lovers have been most kind, though by and large they are consumed by their own thoughts and dramas. Marcus has moved into the Nocturna estate… into the room that was once Jana’s, in fact. She sometimes stays in that room with him, and on other occasions she sleeps in the master bedroom with the two of us… or with Tanith alone, as I have spent more time tarrying in my own guest chamber with Alexis of late. It is easier than arranging for privacy in her bunk at the Rose Knights’ barracks.

    “They all know why I am… moody, and they accept my doldrums. They expect that I will ‘come back to myself’ any day now, that I will simply overcome this malaise and return to my previous state of being. How can I do that, Dear One? How can things ever go back to the way they were before? How can I ever be happy again when I know that Melisandre can make me betray everything my heart holds dearest with her merest whim?

    “I think I shall wander down to the tavern tonight, Salkhi. I feel the need to get very drunk and break some things.”


    Jana’s Letters

    Dear Mother,

    Today we saw victory. Not without cost, but it was a victory nonetheless. We started off fighting a horse mounted Skull Knight, several skeletons and a wall made of skeletons. The wall had arms wielding swords and bows, which was surreal and dangerous. We made short work of the Knight and his entourage. The wall was a little harder, but Maria and her frost shaping, and Alexis and her lance finished it off quickly. The skeletons even had a shas crystal weapon that shoots fire, but we managed to get that stuck so they couldn’t use it. Maria had summoned an earth elemental and it used its own shaping to trap the weapon and its wielders in the mud. It also did a good bit of damage to the wall. The next fight was harder. We faced off against five wooly mammoths ridden by Night People, along with a couple of ogres and more Night People on the ground. The fight was rather hectic and hard, but we prevailed. Jadzia used her flaming club to good effect, scaring most of the mammoths away from the fight altogether. The other two were soon taken over by our people. Darcy in particular climbed one and gained control after killing its rider. I’m not sure who took over control of the second one. Hectic as the fight was I remember clearly hearing a roar from behind me and then the sudden weight of a lion using my back as a spring board to jump onto a mammoth’s head. That was Zacchaeus. He can shape shift and turned into a lion to fight the enemy. It was rather effective. It also worked to put fear in the hearts of the enemy. I mean, who wouldn’t be afraid of a large lion leaping right at you? The rest of that fight took a bit of time, but after we had scared off or appropriated the mammoths then things started going more easily in our favor.

    We decided to keep the two mammoths and direct them into future fights. We came right up behind a squad of Kernish troops and they didn’t even realize that we were the enemy because we had the mammoths. They assumed that we were friendly troops. That misconception didn’t last long. This group was not very big and went down fairly quickly. The mammoths trampled their ballistae so they couldn’t be used and those of us on the ground fought off the men wielding ghouls on long sticks as well as a specter. We made short work of them.

    Once that fight was done we were directed to help with Amaiala’s troops. They were being targeted by Irena in the air as well as a couple of ogres, two specters, and some Night People on the ground. That was the hardest fight of the day. There were other Skull Knights in the sky, but they were keeping the other Gryphons from aiding Amaiala. We rushed in and attacked the ogres and other troops. Maria summoned a wind elemental for this fight and had it direct its attacks at the two specters that were flying alongside Irena. Between the wind elemental, Darcy and Maria the specters fell pretty quickly. Meanwhile, Irena directed her wyvern to attack me and I was reminded just how dangerous those animals can be. It left me weak and poisoned. I’ve had my wyvern poison people in the past so I know what it does to people, but I’ve never been poisoned by one of them myself. It’s not an experience that I wish to repeat. Nor do I want any of my friends to ever go through that. Thankfully Tanith was nearby and saw me drop to one knee. She used her arcanum to cure the poison and I immediately felt much better. I gave her hand a squeeze and got back up.

    After that people started to focus their attacks on Irena. Darcy even jumped from the back of the mammoth to Irena’s wyvern. His main objective it seemed was to unbuckle Irena from her saddle. It seems she learned from the last time we encountered her and strapped herself into her saddle this time. Darcy undid the straps but Irena got an attack or three in while he was sitting right behind her. She hit him hard and I saw blood fly. Thankfully the wind elemental that Maria had summoned was nearby and plucked him from the wyvern’s back before that bitch could kill my friend. Darcy was set down on the mammoth’s back and he continued the fight. I have to give him credit for continuing to control the animal into battle. Most people would have sought shelter from the fighting in order to receive healing or first aid. I don’t think Darcy would appreciate the comparison, but he reminded me of other Skull Knights that I served with. We were not encouraged to seek shelter if we were wounded but still capable of fighting. We were expected to continue to soldier on until we were physically not capable of fighting anymore. It wasn’t all that common that someone would be hurt so badly, but it did happen on occasion. Chasing down adepts could always be dangerous because you never knew what kind of arcanum they would throw at you. And as Maria has proven time and again she can be extremely dangerous. Even her ability to move objects came in handy in this fight. Since Darcy had unbuckled Irena she used her arcanum to pluck Irena out of her saddle once again and drop her to the ground. It was not nearly as far a fall as it was last time, but it still worked to dismount the Knight.

    Irena was far from helpless on the ground though. She seemed to take a keen interest in Tanith and proceeded to attack her to the exclusion of all others. I learned later that she was being directed by Lady Talis herself. Irena worked for Melisandre, but in this case it seemed that Lady Talis decided to take matters into her own hands. I tried my best to defend my lover, but Irena is one of the leaders of the Skull Knights for a reason. She is a fearsome opponent and with just a couple of strong attacks she felled my Tanith. Jadzia, Amaiala and I were attacking Irena as hard and as quickly as we could. Irena wasn’t looking very good and seemed like she was going to withdraw from the fight, but we wouldn’t let her. Amaiala hit her hard and then Maria joined in and struck Irena with her frost powers, killing the Skull Knight. The wyvern flew off at that point, which was good. I wasn’t looking forward to fighting off the bitch’s mount. And now I can only hope that Maria hasn’t drawn too much attention to herself by killing one of the leading Skull Knights. Lady Talis will not be happy with her and might even know who to direct her ire at if she was watching through Irena’s eyes. I can only hope that she doesn’t know who to blame for Irena’s death.

    Melisandre had joined in the fray as well, controlling my friends and making them attack each other. She made Darcy attack Jadzia, who was hurt pretty badly by the attack. Darcy managed to throw off the bitch’s control, but she just switched targets and controlled my Jadzia into attacking Darcy, and almost me. Well, she would have attacked me if Tanith hadn’t stopped her. While we were dealing with Irena, Ashlin stabilized Tanith, who woke up in time to help free my lover from Melisandre’s control. She then also cast a protective ward over the whole group of us to keep Melisandre from controlling anyone else. The bitch did not try again, that I know of, to control or hurt any of my friends. I was happy for that respite. I know that Jadzia was rather ill taken with the experience. I know the feeling of being controlled by another. There was one time I did not act fast enough against a group of adepts that were trying to flee. I hesitated and Lady Talis took control and made me slaughter them where they stood. I received a demerit in my file on that day because the Lady felt that she had to encourage me to do my job. I will tell you that after that day I was really careful on how long I hesitated to carry out Her orders, especially if I was wearing my helmet. If I had taken it off for some reason then I had time, but if I was still wearing it then I had to complete my duty in a timely fashion. She insisted. So, I know what it’s like to be controlled by someone else and to have to watch as your own body commits unspeakable sins. For her part Jadzia was lucky that she only attacked Darcy the once, and she missed on that occasion. When it came time for her to attack me, Tanith was already working her powers to keep Jadzia from attacking. I know that Jadzia feels bad for what she was forced to do, but at least she was not forced to watch her own hand kill Darcy or me. I fear that she doesn’t see it that way though. I know that she hates Melisandre for her actions and I don’t blame her. Melisandre is a monster who seeks only to corrupt her granddaughter and gain more power. She must be stopped. I know that Jadzia has likely already made a vow to this effect, but I will not allow Melisandre to hurt any more of my friends. They do not need to know what it feels like to be controlled by a monster into doing horrible things. They do not need to know what it feels like to kill an innocent and be a passenger in your own body for the act. I have never liked that woman, but today she really pissed me off.

    I pray for the safety of my friends, and that I am writing these letters to someone who has already moved on in the cycle of rebirth. I miss you.

    Love,

    Jana


    Dear Mother,

    I have gotten word from our friends that Melisandre and Lady Talis have had a falling out since the last attack at Auchindoun. Lady Talis is angry that two of her Skull Knights have defected and one was killed under Melisandre’s gaze. I do not feel bad that Melisandre has lost the backing of one of the Seven due in part to my actions. I am uncertain what this information means for the future, but I know that Melisandre will be particularly unhappy with Marcus and myself for a while yet. I will have to warn him to stay vigilant against her potential attacks. I also found out that Richter knows Lucifer and is likely the one that put him in contact with Marcus in the first place. I will have to thank him for that.

    On the subject of Marcus, Tanith has graciously offered to let Marcus stay at the Nocturna manor for now. He is staying in the room that I chose when I first moved in. Sometimes I stay with him and sometimes I stay with Tanith and Jadzia. I still notice that Tanith is somewhat formal with Marcus. She is not as comfortable with him as she’d like to think she is. I hope that she knows that Marcus will not come between her, Jadzia and me. I love them. Together they helped keep me sane and I can never repay them for that. But I also need Marcus. He knows the darkest sides of me and has accepted me for who and what I am. I need that too. I need him to love me as I am. I know that Tanith loves me and accepts me as far as she knows me, but she doesn’t know all of what I have done. I don’t want her to know all that I have done. I am being selfish in that regard. I don’t want either her or Jadzia to ever know what kind of monster they have let into their lives. I read that and want to erase it. It would be only fair for them to know what I’ve done. For them to know what kind of person I was in service to that bitch. I would be only fair, but then sometimes I remind myself that life isn’t fair and maybe I can keep my secret for a little while longer. I know that I’m being selfish, but right now I’m okay with that.

    Love,

    Jana


    Tanith’s Diary

    We have been successful in our push into Kern. The Kernish forces were unprepared for our sudden strike, as we were still being searched for inside the country.

    We, with the aid of Zacchaeus the Silver Lion and my metamour Alexis Winter, pushed through a skeleton wall, stole Wooly Mammoths, ran over a ballista, and fought and killed Irena. That latter while we went to bail out Amaiala as Irena had swooped in to crush her forces. She was weakened from Wyvern Poison by the time we arrived, and for once seemed glad to see us. While we initially distracted Irena by Elementals summoned by Maria, that changed when Darcy rather heroically leapt from his Mammoth onto the Wyvern and managed to remove her restraints keeping her in her seat. He took a great deal of injury from her ferocious attacks, but escaped with the help of an Air Elemental.

    That’s when things got difficult for me. For some reason Irena ignored more dangerous people on the field and went right for me. She lay a rapid series of sword strikes and while I healed myself I mostly remember blood and pain before I fell. I am lucky to be alive. Ashlin slipped across the field to give me medical attention while others drew Irena’s ire. Apparently Melisandre possessed Darcy, but by the time I was alert it was Jadzia who was possessed. I used my magic to free the mind of my Flower of the Plains, and threw up a Ward. By then, Irena and the Ogres had fallen, and we were overrunning the enemy.

    Darcy, Jadzia and I were hurt pretty badly. I healed best I could. I think Maria got run over by a Mammoth at some point, which is really unfortunate if oddly ironic for a Frost Shaper. Maria also pushed herself past exhaustion with her arcana, and needed medical intervention when the Stamina Potion wore off.

    At this point we are in Aldis City, and glad to be back. Darcy sadly was unable to bring his Mammoth (he named him Sergio) as it is rather warm here. Well, will be after Winter. I think Sergio is waiting at the base. I am giving Marcus board at Onyx while he decides what to do, and he is staying in Jana’s old room, sometimes with Jana. I would have done it anyway, but if I didn’t Father would kill me. Alexis has been made clear to be welcome as well, and has, uh, explored Jadzia’s old room with her. Our constellation has increased a bit, and that’s not a bad thing. I may even fancy a tumble with the pale girl at some point even if there is nothing more serious between us. I am working on dealing with Marcus in my life. It is, I admit, more difficult than I anticipated. I don’t know why I keep seeing him as a rival, but it is nothing the polite, soft spoken man has done himself.

    Jadzia is moody. The mind control has taken a toll on her. I will help her as I can. Thankfully Jana and Alexis seem intent on showing her she is loved. Jana seems rather happy to have Marcus here. Alexis is getting used to being in a relationship with a woman, from what I have gleaned from chatting over tea.

    It’s time to rest a bit, at least a month or two. I am sure the world won’t burn down without us for a while.

    End Session XXX

    Dark Tides Cresting Completed

    So yeah, there were Wooly Mammoths. I could not find Elephants in the Blue Rose book nor the Fantasy Age Bestiary. I required two actions to get up, either a Strength (Jumping), (Climbing) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) to get up. Jadzia for her part deciding terrifying them with her maul to be a better tactic to wearing them down. She was not wrong, they are walking piles of health.

    So the plan was a fly by with Irena who would fight until the ground enemies were dead or her Wyvern took a certain amount of damage. She had over 120 health and 9 armor, so I figured it would be one of them. But the PCs were hell bent on not letting her escape, so she didn’t, thanks to some carefully used Arcana. Both Melisandre and Lady Talis both came in with possession, Melisandre on Darcy and Jadzia, and Lady Talis dominated Irena. She was tired of Melisandre’s fixation on Tanith and wanted to eliminate her. After all, their forces were losing as it was all a gambit for Melisandre to corrupt Tanith. Not that the double cross really meant much to the PCs as she brought Tanith to 0 health, which is a first for anyone so far (though Darcy almost was by her) Fortunately by focusing fire they brought her down. So good on them! Well done.

    Okay, I think that is everything but if you have questions, comments (or feedback for fixing the first page, when I try it just takes me to the menu) they are welcome.
    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
    HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

    Comment


    • #47
      Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

      We are between sessions, but I have some handouts for you folks. The first part is the epilogue of Dark Tides Cresting. Then the handouts for Riders on the Storm. Note, most of that handout went out to everyone. Jadzia and Ashlin got a little extra content; those are marked with a (J) or (A). Enjoy

      --

      Based on information out of Kern, Lady Talis and Melisandre's partnership seems to have ended after Melisandre had two Skull Knights defect and one die in her scheme to corrupt her granddaughter (Jana had nothing to do with Tanith, but Talis does not seem to see it that way). Irena had been corrupted and turned by Talis herself, and she intends personal revenge on Maria.


      Nostalia had conflict with Melisandre, but they made up after guests declared that to have been the most exciting party in years. She is still sore about the skull. If she noticed Tatiana is gone she has not commented.


      Romaine Foxglove has gone to ground.

      The Soul Gem may have been affecting Darcy while he had it. It has the ability to affect anyone to some degree with no Psychic Shield and may have left a present or two in his brain.

      The Ruby Skull has the ability to trap a soul in it of someone who dies (which precludes them becoming an undead other than skeleton or walking dead) and the holder can rummage through their memories, observing them or even stepping in and enjoying them from the perspective of the person. This is obviously a good way to get information. They can also act in the memory to change it, and the trapped soul loses the original memory in favor of the changed one, allowing them to drive a person mad. This is corrupting as hell to use, but no chance of controlling or influencing the person. Still, Tanith supports giving it to people to study or destroy in Aldis as it is horrid.

      Auchindoun’s influence range increased after the battle almost to Lastlight, as Kern has lost control of a chunk of the Icebinders for now.

      --

      Two Clans prone to clashing in Rezea are the Rihan and Winborn Clans. While outright war between the entire Clan has always been averted, limited conflicts from individual groups of Rihan and Winborn are not uncommon and this one, over rivalries between their warriors primarily but also witches, apparently stems from a long series of insults and other minor events that have piled up. It seems a good mission to get respect in Rezea and working to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

      In Jadzia’s experience, these two are often rivals, and contained conflicts have happened. It is unlikely they will fully bury the hatchet, but it is always better to turn the conflicts to enemies of the Rezean people. There are enough of them. Fortunately, the Rihan and Winborn tend to unite against common foes. (J)

      Each side has sent a diplomat to meet you, and a bodyguard, as you travel to the site. The bodyguards were chosen from outside the Clans to avoid bloodshed between the envoys.



      Rihan is sending Jarim, a young warrior who is occasionally hotheaded but has also acquired some Winborn friends, so inclined to help. And her parents are known for their wisdom, so perhaps this is a test for her.

      Ash has no special intelligence on Jarim. (A)

      Jarim has met Jadzia, who found her a bit excessively proud and annoying to deal with. She always seems to need to be better at everything. Unfortunately, it seems to massively disappoint her with herself when she isn’t. (J)



      Kallyain of Clan Ifalla is Jarim’s guard. You met her when she was guarding Laomediea Fireheart and her family. She is honorable and even tempered, a good foil to Jarim.

      Kallyain’s reputation speaks for itself, and Ash has no reason to be concerned about her. (A)

      Kallyain has been well, having had an assignment in Jarzon between this and that last job, monster hunting at the edge of the Shadow Barrens. (J)


      Terra of Clan Winborn is a virtual princess. Beautiful and highly sought after, even fought over, she is known for being good hearted, but also very proud. Still she takes her responsibilities seriously and she may even someday lead Clan Winborn, so highly placed is she. Anything bad happening to her would be immensely bad for your reputation.

      While Terra is not, precisely, a target that Ash would consider likely for an assassination attempt, she is high profile enough that they are likely on guard. Her death would have an effect on what passes for the political circles of Rezea and be a major embarrassment for the crown. That said, other than the Rihan she has no enemies Ash knows of. (A)

      Jadzia has never directly interacted with Terra, but her limited experiences with her from the outside looking in is she is kind, helpful, and feels strangled by the entourage she is usually with. (J)


      Protecting Terra is Shang of Clan Kamala. One of a pair of twins (the other being the apparently unstable Adept Lao) you have met a couple times in Aldis City, she is building her reputation as a warrior, and was apparently handpicked by Terra over more experienced bodyguards because she “has a good heart and needs to prove herself” which is perhaps not the best way to pick a bodyguard.

      While not necessarily alarming, Shang’s whereabouts after the battle with Kern until she appeared here cannot be accounted for. Not normally a thing, but with someone like Terra involved, a check was done and seems to have disappeared a bit. (A)

      Jadzia knows Shang is doing good work, though, and has been traveling, even being somewhat involved in military movements connected to the Battle of Auchindoun. This will be the first time Jadzia has really heard from her for a few months as she has been off the grid for a while. (J)

      --

      Next week we begin Riders on the Storm.


      Also, a second game, Blue Rose: Big Damn Heroes has begun. I hope to have a thread for that in the soon. The tone is quite different but it is a good game.


      In the meantime, see you next week. Comments and Questions welcome.
      Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
      HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

      Comment


      • #48
        Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

        (double post)
        Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 03-28-2019, 09:58 PM.
        Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
        HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

        Comment


        • #49
          Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

          After a much needed break, the Cat’s Cradle sets out to intervene in a conflict in Rezea. They could not know what have awaits them.

          Session XXXI

          Riders on the Storm Part I

          Ashlin’s Reports

          Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 10 Gaeleth

          After a nice calm winter, we’re back on our more usual tour of peace talks – this time to Rezea. The Winborn and Rihan clans’s rivalry has gotten a little out of hand recently, or at least, some folks have arisen who want to try for a little peace. So we’ve been called in to help as we can. And that’s what we’ll do, and there definitely won’t be any storm giants or tentacle monsters to complicate things. That’s just crazy talk, why would you even bring it up?

          Anyway, we met up with the envoys from each clan, and their bodyguards, at Fallen River Trading Camp. It was a rough boat ride over – the ‘Season of Storms’ might be ending, but someone didn’t tell the waters that. No incidents, but Jadzia was a little green by the end of it. Her mood didn’t really improve at the city – Tanith stuck close, so I presume there’s some sort of history there for Jadzia, the kind one talks about with one’s lovers and not one’s coworkers. Aside from that worry, Fallen River was an interesting place – it felt very temporary, compared to a city, without all the, well, permanent buildings one would expect. Apparently it effectively is a city, during the Season of Foaling, when a lot more trading goes on, but we arrived at the tail end of the Season of Storms, so it was pretty quiet.

          The only real excitement was a large contingent of armed and armored Jarzoni. So I went and had a chat with one of them while the others were off greeting the envoys. I was playing the porter anyway, seeing as Kallyian was the Rihan envoy’s bodyguard – but more about that later. I learned that one of the Jarzoni priests had a vision about a gigantic Shadow-tainted creature and so Sir Justarius was there with a contingent to see to it. Unfortunately, the priest couldn’t be anymore specific that it was in ‘Rezea’. At least it wasn’t in ‘Aldis’ - there’s at least a little less ground to cover in Rezea. I might have a dropped a few names, mostly to convince them to give us a telepathic shout if they should run into anything they would like back up on – I felt like Jadzia deserved a treat, after feeling so poorly.

          The others had split up, so that neither envoy felt slighted by being approached by the peacekeepers second. Darcy met up with Jarim of Clan Rihan, and her bodyguard Kallyian, who’s stint working for Laomedia Fireheart was apparently ended. Maria went with him. The tests and competitions began right away – apparently the only drink she offered was airag, and got a little judgy of Maria when she didn’t enjoy it. Darcy managed to flirt his way into a distraction to switch glasses, and then further distracted her from his magically refilled glass by suggesting a drinking contest…

          Jarim is an interesting character. I believe, were I to try to describe her with a single quote, it would be that her stated intent was to “win this peace battle”. Everything that happens around her is a challenge to be defeated – her parents cast a long shadow, it seems, being big damn heroes, and the only way for her to get out of it is to be an even bigger, damner hero (shut up, it made sense in my head). She is a slight bit of a doofus, but good at heart, it seems.

          Tanith, Jadzia, and Jana went to speak to Clan Winborn’s envoy, the beautiful Terra. She is sharp and witty and oh so politic – she handled Jarim’s boasting very well. Her bodyguard was Shang, who we’d met before in Aldis City. She’s very much changed from last we met her, more on that in a moment. The initial conversation with Terra was much less exciting that the one with Jarim, largely talking about the details of their journey, and polite conversation of a variety of beverages that included some merely for refreshment, without a lick of alcohol! Can you imagine?! Overall, very positive first impressions.

          Shang’s change in demeanor was the biggest red flag (other than the note that Jarim definitely needed some non-obvious kid gloves). There was a bit of an altercation on the first day of riding, between Shang and Kallyian, who are apparently old friends, though Shang has been distant since she fought on the Kernish border. Jadzia and I both had the same idea, so we both wound up on a watch with her last night. We managed to get her talking about the fighting – she was on one of the smaller passes, trying to stop reinforcements from getting to Auchindoun, and taking advantage of the fact no reinforcements would be coming from Auchindoun.

          With some gentle poking and prodding, it came out that she had run afoul of a sorcerer dressed in a red cloak, who used sorcery to control her for a time. To make it worse, he would occasionally pop into her mind to speak, or to take her over again, just to show her how much control she didn’t have, anymore. She was twitchy, constantly scanning the horizon back the way we came, as if looking for him to appear at any moment. Terra knows, at least in sketchy details, but is hoping that Shang will be able to resist in a situation when it really mattered, thus the position of bodyguard. And now that we’ve gotten her to lance the wound a little, maybe some healing can happen, especially once we deal with this mess. For now, perhaps Lao will be able to help her guard her mind.

          Oh, yeah. Lao’s here. We’ll get back to that.

          First though, I probably ought to mention the visions. Tanith had them our first night here, when we were still in Fallen River. She saw a storm devouring other storms to get impossibly huge and powerful. The devouring storm was a thunderous void, menacing everything around it. It followed a void-black star in the sky. To go with that ominous image, Jadzia realized that all the horses were sort of… gravitating away from the northeast (naturally, the direction we were set to go), at least as far as they could. But wait – there’s more! Here and now, in the middle of the Season of Storms in the Rezean plains… there wasn’t a breath of wind to be found. It’s kinda creepy really. Everything just so still and quiet and going on forever and ever. I like a good horizon break, every now and then, you know, buildings, trees, interestingly shaped rocks… something.

          Anyway, we passed all that along to the Jarzoni – while Jadzia is very insistent on finding their Shadow-tainted creature first, none of us wanted them walking into something like that unknowing. As it turns out, we did find traces first, in a most unfortunate way. Rihan clansmen intercepted us when we were closer to the two clans’ camps, to tell us that a dark force had leveled the Winborn camp, killing everyone in it. An impassable wind had sprung up a few nights ago, and in the morning, they found the camp shredded, as if a razorwind from Drunoc had torn through it. Their own camp hadn’t been unscathed, but it was hit with regular winds, if a bit strong, not the kind that tore tents to pieces, and no one had died. Terra and Kallyian went back to the Rihan camp with them, to prepare what they could, while we rode to the site of the Winborn camp, to learn what we could.

          The carnage was… horrific. Terra went with us – she wanted to see, and we had no right to deny her. There was no sign of struggle, or a fight, just a sheer force of malevolent nature, but that was nothing to comfort a grieving leader. I wasn’t able to find much, so I stayed with her while Tanith used her magical sight to look into it, though before that happened, Lao did.

          Shang noticed her right away – I was worried she’d lost it for a moment, and thought her Red Cloak was around somewhere. But no, it was Lao, who nearly got skewered by her twin for a number of tense moments. She promised, however, that this was none of her doing, that she had been drawn here all unwilling by a feeling that she must, that there was somewhere she had to be, something required of her, much like the compulsions Rezean witches feel with the Tapestry tugs at them, even though, as Shang pointed out, quite forcefully, Lao herself had no training as a witch, just as an Aldean Adept. Jadzia got between the two twins, and shook Shang out of her murderous rage with some harsh words, leaving the warrior in tears – hopefully cathartic ones.

          Lao, for her part, was quite worried about her twin, but she has less moralistic and religious reasons for her side of the rift between them. Perhaps something good might come of this though. I’m given to understand that twins is a family bond closer than most any other, and it is a shame to be estranged from someone tied so closely to you. Lao did insist that she will be coming with us, and that her feeling was the Tapestry wanted Shang along as well, so we’ll see how that goes. Terra has agreed to stay behind with the Rihan, sending Shang as her champion to avenge her companions.

          Tanith was able to get more from the camp site as well. She saw, in her visions, a quartet of powerful being walking through it, from the southwest to the northeast and continuing on. In the lead was a giant made of storms, all over wind and lightning and thunder. Just behind him was a woman in a white porcelain mask, wielding the Blackstar. Flanking her, bound to her in some way, was one of the tentacled things from that cave in Kern, and a person sized figure all in red rags, with a hood fully obscuring their features. So that’s fun.

          After she got all that, Tanith then tried to scry on them, earning her a miniature razor wind storm all of her very own, which fortunately she was able to shield herself from. She was able to figure out that they were still travelling, and that the storm giant thing was still absorbing everything that even hinted at storms, down to the very wind (have I mentioned that the stillness is a little creepy?). Our best guess is that they came from Cuyami, a vatazhin ruin just north of Fallen River, so who knows what of their little entourage they found there. For the moment though, we need to get Terra to safety. Then, if I read our own Rezean firebrand correctly, it’ll be time to ride through the night.

          On the plus side, the moon over the plains is bright and beautiful. I’ll capture some of it in a bottle, and show you when we get home. It’s a promise.

          [Cloven hoof mark]


          Jadzia’s Horse Sense

          (Whispered haltingly in Rezean before three small stone monuments just outside of Fallen River)

          “Hello.

          “I know it has been too long since I have visited. Nearly three years. That is my shame to bear. I have… I…

          “I am sorry.

          “At first it was too painful. I could not bear the sight of this place, of these markers. And then I left, and moved to Aldis City, and… this is the first time I have been in Rezea since then. But I see now that I should have come sooner. I see now that I need to speak to you. To lay you to rest.

          “It was Tanith’s idea. Tanith Nocturna. She was the tall vata’sha woman with the golden hair who came to speak with you a few days ago. She is important to me… very important. She is my Sunflower, and I love her. She is a powerful adept and a fiercely devoted friend, but more than that she is a good woman. I wish that you could have met her; I think that you would have approved. Savar-mama, I think you in particular would have liked her.

          “You may have seen another vata’sha woman walking around the camp over the past few days. Her name is Jana Totten, and she is my Starlight. She is taller than me, though not so tall as Tanith, and possessed of a slender form that belies the strength of her arms. Her hair is moonlight on a waterfall. She is a rock in the middle of a storm, dependable when nothing else is certain. She is the voice of reason when Tanith’s enthusiasm and my own hot-headedness might lead us into trouble. Tuya-mama, I believe she would have been your favorite among my paramours.

          “Alexis Winter is not with us at present; her duties as a Rose Knight prevented her from joining us on this excursion. She is my Snowfall, a white-haired human beauty, and the one of my ladies who is most like me in spirit and inclination. She treats horses with respect, and can hold her own against any rider on the plains of Rezea. Iyara, sister of my soul, I think you would have adored her. As deadly as she is on the field of battle, the jokes she can tell when the mood strikes her… how you would have laughed!

          “There are the others as well, of course. They are not my lovers… well, in truth, I have frolicked with Ashlin before, but there were… circumstances. It is not important. Ashlin is a true friend even though he delights in teasing me at every opportunity. I have never met anyone more adept at deception, subterfuge, and disguise. We are truly fortunate that he has chosen to ally himself with us. Maria is the most powerful battle-adept I have ever encountered. I have seen her summon floods from gentle brooks, call up dense fogs over clear seas, and pluck skull knights out of their wyvern saddles with only the power of her mind. She could easily forge her own kingdom if such was her inclination… but her thirst is for knowledge rather than power.

          “The night person Roamer called Darcy is the best friend I have among the living. He saved my life… saved it from despair if not from death. He called me back from the bleak depths of the Abyss and reminded me that no matter how much I had lost, there was still much in this life that was worthwhile. Without him I would have nothing, and for that I owe him a debt I can never fully repay. He is strong and nimble and boisterous, as comfortable on the battlefield as in a tavern.

          “Together the six of us call ourselves the ‘Cat’s Cradle.’ We travel around Aldis, and occasionally to other countries, to solve problems and right wrongs. We came to Rezea to help avert a war between the Rihan and the Winborn clans… though of course it quickly became apparent that something much more pressing would soon demand our attention. For their representative, Rihan sent Jarim… yes, I know you remember her. She has… not changed much over the years, and remains as boastful and proud as ever. Clan Winborn sent Terra, of whom I had heard, but had never met. She is both as beautiful and as proud as the tales say. Despite their faults, however, both seemed dedicated to seeing these negotiations through to a successful conclusion.

          “Each of them employed an outsider as a bodyguard… two other Rezean braves of my acquaintance. I first met Kallyain of Clan Ifalla on a small island off the coast, where she and her company were safeguarding the life of the royal family. She seems to be a forthright, trusty sort, and I liked her immediately, though we had little opportunity to speak on that occasion. Shang of Clan Kamala I met in Aldis City, along with her twin sister Lao. They do not get along, to say the least. Shang has always been a stalwart warrior of no mean skill. I had heard that she participated in the recent border skirmish between Aldis and Kern, as we did, but had heard nothing else about her in nearly three months. She seemed… uncertain of herself, as though her confidence had been broken. And though she and Kallyain had been close, there was now a cold distance between them.

          “We heard rumors when we arrived in Fallen River, though I was too… ‘preoccupied’ to notice them at first. A contingent of Jarzoni had come to hunt a powerful shadowspawn, based upon a vision one of their prophets had experienced. My lover Tanith is also a prophet of sorts, and I woke the night of our arrival when she started from an intense prophetic dream. She told me that she had seen a great beast in her dream; a living storm which fed off of other storms. In her dream it followed a black star in the heavens.

          “I know of the Black Star of Drunac. I have been seeking it in the hopes of avenging your deaths. I… wish that you could tell me more about that night. I wish more than anything that you were able to do so.

          “I had noticed a few peculiarities during our first day in Fallen River. There was no wind at all… almost unheard of in the Season of Storms. And the horses – all of the horses – strayed toward the southwest, as though they sensed something to the northeast which made them uneasy. And yes, of course our destination lay to the northeast. And yes, of course that was the direction in which Tanith sensed the shadowspawn from her dream.

          “The first day of our journey was uneventful, though we were all made uneasy by the fact that the winds did not return. During the middle watch of the night, Ashlin and I were able to determine the reason for Shang’s loss of confidence. Like myself, she had been subjected to the indignity of being controlled by a Kernish sorcerer. But whereas Tanith’s bitch of a grandmother has thus far been content to leave me stewing over my weakness in peace, the night person who had exerted control over Shang has repeatedly invaded her mind over the past three months, either forcing her to do things against her will or simply reminding her that he has such power over her. That cannot have been easy for her, and both Ashlin and I assured her that we would do anything in our power to free her from his control… and to see justice done.

          “The revelations of the next day were even more disturbing. We were not far from the camps of the Rihan and the Winborn when outriders serving Jarim’s family met us. Speaking carefully out of Terra’s hearing, they told us that the Winborn camp had been leveled by some dark force, and that all of them had been killed. While the riders escorted Jarim and Kallyain back to the Rihan camp, we rode toward the ruins of the Winborn camp with Terra and Shang. Though we knew it would be hard for Terra, we all agreed that she had the right to see what had become of her people.

          “It was difficult to witness such destruction. It was difficult for me to see such things, and I know all too well how difficult it must have been for Terra. The camp was devastated. None of its original inhabitants remained alive. The bodies and the tents had been shredded. Though I have never personally witnessed the razor winds of Drunac, I imagine that the destruction they leave behind must be similar to what I saw in that blasted camp.

          “There was one living person there… Shang’s twin sister Lao. Shang flew into a rage when Lao emerged, and I was forced to restrain her before she could do violence. Eventually I was forced to slap her and remind her that Clan Kamala had suffered enough from the twin-curse over the years without her adding to their misery.

          “For her part, Lao seemed uncertain of how or why she was there. She claimed that she felt called to that location at that time, and had been unable to fight the compulsion. Though I am no adept, this sounds like how the witches of the clans describe their relationship with the Tapestry. If Lao’s powers have awakened her to her true place in the world at last, I can only suppose this is a good thing. One thing I was immediately inclined to believe is that Lao had nothing to do with the slaughter itself. She is vain and headstrong from time to time, but she is not needlessly cruel or destructive.

          “Tanith attempted to scry upon those who were responsible for the destruction while the rest of us investigated using less fantastic methods. She saw the shadowspawn, which had taken on the form of a giant made of clouds and lightning. Its master appeared to be a female witch wearing a stylized mask to hide her identity. She had with her two additional servants: a creature wrapped entirely in red rags, and a tentacled monstrosity from beyond the confines of this world.

          “The witch sensed my love’s interest, and did not take it well. Tanith shouted for all of us to move away from her and summoned a golden shield around herself just as the witch struck. Razor winds slashed at her. The shield shuddered and cracked under the impact… but in the end it held.

          “That masked bitch will take no one else that I care about away from me. She will not.

          “We decided to escort Terra back to the Rihan camp for her own safety. She is not built for quests of this sort. As we rode, I drew up beside her, and told her that I had been where she was, and that I knew no words could diminish the pain she was feeling. But I also told her that the sun would rise again someday. I hope that she took some strength from those words.

          “I pushed for us to set out immediately, once we were certain of Terra’s safety. It may have been wiser to stay the night at the camp, but I did not want to risk losing a march to our quarry. Lao insisted that it was necessary for she and Shang to accompany us, and none of us wished to argue with her on that point.

          “If I had known what awaited us on that journey…

          “Excuse me. I need a moment.”


          Jana’s Letters

          Dear Mother,

          Today passed like many others. We are on another diplomatic mission, to Rezea this time. Crossing the sea was not Jadzia’s favorite part of the trip, but she managed to stick it out. We arrived at the Fallen River Trading post soon after that and Jadzia’s mood changed. She went from still feeling slightly sea sick to quiet and tense. I knew that this place would bring back bad memories for my lover and I was right. Most of the others didn’t notice Jadzia’s shift in mood. Those of us that knew what happened here of course noticed. After a few moments she composed herself well enough to get by while we searched out those that we were there to meet. The weather seemed to agree with us as we searched. We were told that it’s the end of the Season of Storms (winter) and the Foaling Season will start soon. I’m not sure what the weather is like here at the height of the Season of Storms, but it was pretty calm to me. We decided to split up into two groups so we could meet each delegate at the same time, so neither one felt like we were showing favoritism to the other. Darcy and Maria went to find Jarim of the Rihan clan, while Tanith, Jadzia and I went to look for Terra of the Winborn clan. Ashlin went off in search of the Jarzoni mercenaries that we saw when we came in. He was going to find out what they were up to in Rezea in such large numbers. We all got together later to compare notes. Terra was a very hospitable hostess. She offered us refreshment and pleasant conversation. Apparently Jarim offered only fermented mare’s milk to drink and was kind of judgmental when it came to how well her guests tolerated the drink. Darcy drank it down without problem, but Maria was not as fond of the drink as he was. So, Darcy flirted with Jarim and covered up the fact that Maria was not drinking by switching cups with her. It seemed to work out since Jarim commended Darcy on the contest and his eventual win. She did not seem upset by it since he was able to prove that he could handle the drink as well as a Rezean could. Ashlin for his part found out that the Jarzoni were there to track a Shadow tainted monster that their seers had dreamt of. They knew that it was somewhere in Rezea. The only problem is that Rezea is not a small country. It’s not as big as Aldis, but still not small. I’m not sure what they were planning to do once they got here, or how they were going to track the beast, but that was their plan. Ash made sure that they could get in contact with us if they needed any help. I’m not sure what we’d be able to do if we’re far away from them, but it’s the thought that counts right?

          But our concern is not a Shadow tainted monster. We are here for negotiations and nothing else. Right?

          Love always,

          Jana


          Dear Mother,

          I guess I was wrong. We are here for a Shadow tainted monster as well as negotiations. Tonight Tanith woke up after having had an intense vision. In it she saw a storm that was swallowing other storms and getting stronger and stronger. She also saw this storm following a blacked-out star in the sky. It didn’t take too much thinking to come up with the Black Star of Drunac. We’re still not sure what the storm could mean. Jadzia said it might mean chaos, or it could literally be a storm. After she told us about her vision Tanith wanted to get some fresh air, so we all went outside. Jadzia noticed almost right away that all of the horses in camp were staying toward the southwest side of the camp. It was odd behavior for the horses on a good day, but in light of Tanith’s vision I have a bad feeling about it. They were specifically staying away from the northeastern side of the camp and you can guess what direction we’ll be traveling in tomorrow. Right, the northeastern direction. Lucky us, we might run into the monster that the Jarzoni are hunting after all. Or it could be a whole different monster altogether. I guess time will tell.

          Love always,

          Jana


          Dear Mother,

          Not much happened to day. Ashlin warned the Jarzoni that the quarry they hunt may be in the northeast and told them of Tanith’s vision. They have their own visionaries so they took it seriously. He also mentioned the odd behavior of the horses. Jadzia also pointed out that the air is utterly still. This time of year there should be at least breezes or gusts of wind. But there is nothing. I knew something felt off about the place, but until Jadzia pointed it out I didn’t realize what it was. It should have been obvious, but I wasn’t raised here so I guess it’s natural that I wouldn’t necessarily pick up on it. Anyway, while we traveled Jadzia took the front position since she is used to navigating through the grasslands. I took up the rear and Darcy stayed in the middle with the envoys entertaining them. I’m not sure everything that was said, but it seemed like he was paying attention to both women equally so neither would feel slighted. Jarim seems to be the competitive type while Terra seems to be more calm and friendly. Not that Jarim isn’t friendly, she’s just got an edge to her personality. I think someone said that her parents are very well known, so it might be hard for her living in their shadow.

          We broke up into groups to keep watch tonight. I watched with Maria but nothing out of the ordinary happened. We had pleasant conversation and passed the time. I think Jadzia, Ash and Shang were going to do one watch and Darcy and Kallyian the other. We let everyone else sleep since we would be up early in the morning and it would be good if they were rested.
          The evening has been quiet so far. Here’s hoping that it stays that way.

          Love always,

          Jana


          Dear Mother,

          Okay, things did not stay quiet. Before we started out our group gathered together to exchange information. Ashlin and Jadzia shared something that Shang had told them. It seems that she ran afoul of a sorcerer during the fighting in Kern and he took a particular interest in her. He did the same thing that Melisandre did with Jadzia and controlled Shang’s mind. The only problem is he was defeated but not killed so he has continued to plague her at random times. This had made her rather paranoid and jumpy, which explains the odd behavior that we noticed from her before. Jadzia said that she shared with Shang the fact that she too had been controlled by a sorcerer and knows what it’s like. Ashlin and my love promised to do everything in their power to stop the sorcerer from continuing to terrorize our friend. The rest of us agreed when we heard the tale. I’m not sure how we’ll find him or stop him, but we will do all that we can. After that we started traveling like we had yesterday. I took up the rear guard, Jadzia the front and the rest arrayed in between. Darcy continued to entertain the envoys. Around midday is when everything happened. We saw a group of riders approaching us and we were wary to begin with, or at least I was, but then it became clear that they were members of the Rihan clan and they had news for us. They told us of a dark force that swept through the land last night like a powerful storm. It did damage to the Rihan camp, but it utterly destroyed the Winborn camp which was a few minutes ride away. We kept this news to ourselves momentarily before we split the group. Jarim and Kallyian went with the Rihan riders back to her clan’s camp and we rode with Terra and Shang to the Winborn camp. There was no point in keeping the truth from her. She would find out about it regardless and would be unhappy with us if we had withheld something so important from her. The devastation was as bad as the Rihan riders said it was. There was not a man, woman or child left alive in the camp. Even the horses were killed. The tents and belongings were shredded and strewn all about. One of the riders had said that it looked like a razor wind had come through there, but that he’d never heard of that happening outside of Drunac. Apparently this Blackstar of Drunac has the power of its land and can summon razor winds. We all agreed that this was not good.

          Shang rode into the center of the camp and started shouting for someone to come out of hiding. At first we weren’t sure what she was doing, but then a moment later her twin sister stepped out from hiding. Shang seemed to thing that Lao had committed this crime, but Lao fervently denied having anything to do with it. She said that she had just arrived and had been in the area for only a day. She was rather agitated and said that she had been drawn to this place like she’d heard tales of witches describing. Shang then went on to yell at her sister that she wasn’t a witch, that she was only an adept from Aldis. Shang continued to treat her sister like she was the criminal, but I do not think that Lao had anything to do with this massacre. I have seen massacres before, and I’ve seen those that are responsible for them. Regardless of what they say out loud there is a look in their eyes. Something that sets them aside, whether it’s guilt or glee. There is just something there. I have seen it myself in the mirror. I am not proud of that fact, but I have been responsible for the deaths of a large number of people in my time. Some I cannot claim full responsibility for. Sometimes the Lady Talis takes control of her soldiers to get them to do what she wants them to do or do it more quickly. So needless to say I know what those kind of eyes look like and Lao doesn’t have them.

          Jadzia eventually got Shang to back down by intimidating her until she broke down and cried. Then my love comforted the bodyguard until she calmed down. While she was doing that Tanith used her arcanum to see if she could tell what happened here. Shang said that a major sorcerous event took place here and that it moved from one side of the camp to the other but she couldn’t give more detail that that. Fortunately Tanith could. She said that she saw the ones that did this. She said there was a woman with a mask, a creature like we saw in the Kernish cave, someone or something dressed in a red robe and a storm giant who created the storm. Tanith then tried to scry on the woman in the mask and received a nasty surprise. It seems that the woman knew that she was being scryed upon and sent a gust of razor wind at my lover. Tanith warned everyone away from her in a panicked voice. That was the first indication that something was wrong. Then the wind came out of nowhere and Tanith threw up a shield deflecting it at the last moment.

          After that we talked for a few minutes trying to figure out where the woman and her entourage had come from. They were traveling in the same direction we were, but one step ahead and yet we had not seen them in our travels when we arrived in Rezea. Jadzia said that it was possible that they had come from ruins of an old Vatazin city called Cuyami which was a little north of where we had come from. It’s possible. They have been a day ahead of us which is why we haven’t actually seen them in person though we’re aiming to remedy that now. Jadzia has suggested that we ride through the night in order to catch up with the Blackstar of Drunac faster. We are finishing our packing now so I should end this here. I will write more once I have more news.

          Love always,

          Jana


          Tanith’s Diary

          I’ve never seen so much death.

          I’ve walked though three major battles now. Twice against Gnaag at Rosette and Kharas and once against Melisandre at Auchindoun. There, I was surrounded by death. But for us, it was men and women and laevvel who sacrificed their lives for the protection of their nation, their village or, both. It was horrible, but it was for a great good.

          This was not that.

          This was adults and children slaughtered wholesale. I walked through the Winborn camp just trying to make sense of it. This was no battle, despite them being warriors. It was senseless. I am a powerful healer, one of the best of my age. But all these people, down to the infants, were beyond anything I could do, even by ability to push back the veil and pull a person back from the cycle was too long gone away.

          They were past the point of resurrection, though not reanimation. Part of me cried out to use the dark magic to raise them to walk after and smite their killers. It’s the only way to give their deaths meaning, let them serve the greater good. But the others would not understand. They would be horrified. They would not see the justice in it. The vengeance.

          It would be glorious.

          These are not my people. These are Jadzia’s and Terra’s and Shang’s and Lao’s and Jarim’s and Kallyain’s. I doubt they would approve. I could ask, and remove the memories if they disapproved, but that would start a cycle that could go very very wrong and get out of control. No that is not the best way.

          I need to do something. Not just cut down yet another evil sorceress. I mean, I should absolutely do that, yes. Her and all her pets. But I feel like their deaths need more meaning. I want to make the darkness behind this suffer. I want it to know fear and pain. When we find this woman, she will suffer as few have suffered for this. I will tear away every pleasant memory and show her what Flesh Shaping can do. The ghosts of Sorcerer Kings and Queens will plead with me to dial it back. Only Melisandre will, in the future, understand her anguish. This woman killed women who could someday be mother in laws to me. She killed my Flower of the Plains’ Rhy-Bonded companion. And two camps of people, now. The rest of the Winborn will be in mourning, just as my Jadzia was, still is.

          She will deeply regret, for days if not weeks, that her razor wind could not overcome my shield.

          There will come a time that this’s bitches name and Melisandre’s names will be associated with anguish beyond measure, that people will learn, through fear if they have not heart, the price of such evil and cruelty.

          The skies will open up and the rain will pour again over the Rezean plains as they weep for what I am going to do to you, dark witch. Yes they will.

          End Session XXXI

          Maybe dial that back a little Tanith. Speaking of Tanith, she stopped the attack from the Star with Warding, not a shield per se, but it was described as like a gold shield because descriptions are cool.

          Not much was left out. There was a lot of interplay with the NPCs, which meant the sudden turn hopefully felt abrupt and unexpected. While I considered wiping out the diplomats in the original plan there would be an amount of “GM fiat for story purposes” with the PCs having failed to protect them through no fault of their own, and that was not a story I wanted to tell. Besides, fleshing them out I got attached.

          Upadate in two weeks, but next week a crossover short story with my other game, Big Damn Heroes. I had hoped to get the OP fixed then put up that OP but no luck, so hopefully will be starting a thread for them in the soon. I’ll see you then, Comments and Questions welcome.
          Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 03-28-2019, 09:59 PM.
          Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
          HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

          Comment


          • #50
            Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

            It’s the off week, but I wanted to share a short fic. It technically takes place soon before the previous journals, just before Tanith left between Dark Tides Cresting and Riders on the Storm. It features Tanith Nocturna from Cat’s Cradle, but also Tríona Clymene from Big Damn Heroes, taking place midway between Roamers, Tramps and Thieves. Part of the reason I am putting this up is to pressure myself to start a thread for Big Damn Heroes, been dragging my feet due to continuing difficulty with my OP to the thread.



            Anyway, walk along with Tanith and meet Tríona, and here you go.


            --

            Black and Green Night



            The Sea woman was drinking and gazing softly into her glass. It was late, and a rain had started in Aldis City. She was pleased; this meant she could get wet walking back. The lack of ocean was getting to her, and she had already resolved to walk along the edge of Lake Vash, maybe have a swim, the next day before meeting Saber and her companions. It meant not ordering a second glass of water to go with her scotch, which was fine with her. It would hit her harder.

            The day’s events went well, but her effervescent eagerness to please had been perhaps overwhelming. People seemed to like her fine, but the urban lasses of Aldis City barely gave her a second look, whereas in her home in Elseport she was known for her beauty and personality. Here she was no big deal.

            A second woman had entered and moved to sit at her table, breaking her reverie. She had heard the heavy sound of boots on the floor, but not looked up. When the other woman sat, smelling of lavender, however, she did look up, seeing a gorgeous Vata’Sha with blazing yellow eyes, an elaborate cloak, and a soft smile. Immediately she slipped into her usual cheer,

            “Buy us a drink, love?”

            “If you vish, though I vill not be heading home vith you.”

            Well that’s disappointing.

            “Why ya sitting with us then love?” She asked as the Vata waved over a waitress, ordering a second scotch for her companion, and wine for her.

            “Sovereign’s Finest, based on your jacket and quiver. I am vun too. Tanith Nocturna.”

            “Tríona Clymene, legendary hero.”


            A low chuckle, followed by an amused deep purr. “And vy is a legendary hero drinking alone?”

            “Oh, you know, tired out from all the adventuring and shagging. Just needed a quiet night.”

            A nod. “Both of my lovers are vith their lovers tonight. So I am looking for a quiet night myself, and time to think also. But I am unused to sleeping alone, so I thought I would step out for a drink first. Sadly it started raining on the vay.”

            “Well you know lass, if you are lonely…” The sea folk started

            “You are too tired and shagged out, also. I understand.” The rebuff was smooth, gentle, and did not feel like a rejection.

            “Right…”

            “You are cute though. Perhaps another time. Vere you vith the new group that joined today?” Yellow eyes looked her over. Tríona had never seen a golden eyed Vata’Sha, much less one with blonde hair. Was that even a thing? Didn’t matter. Her purr was a river, and Tríona was floating along it quite happily, watching and feeling the words go by.

            “Yeah, I was. Love your accent by the way, but it is not familiar. War’s du fae?”

            “I am from Aldis City, but my parents are from Kern. I am unsure vat part, but not Sarn. You?”

            “Oh, Elseport, born and bred. My father was born there, but me mum was from Rainward Isles. Pretty place, been there a few times.” Man, she was pretty.

            “I vent vunce. You spend a lot of time at zea?” Her yellow eyes had become gentler. Everything about her was hypnotic.

            “I mean, yeah, boating is not my thing, but I am pretty comfortable with it. My new team is not exactly, you know, nautical, but I am still useful. I am the best shot, and best lover, in Aldis.

            Another low, feline chuckle. “Good to know.” Why do they laugh when she says that? “Tell me about them.” Tríona’s reverie was broken.

            “Oh well let’s see. There is Saber, he is my second in command. Rose Knight. The dude loves swords. Like, I think he sleeps with them. But a good guy, and not afraid of anything. He helped us fight some demons in Elseport. Then we killed three today here. He is a good guy.”

            “Rose Knights generally are, in my experience.”

            “Yeah, and Saber is patient and all too, which is good, as ya know the other two are unruly. Greymaudie is a Rhy-Cat, not sure where she is from, ah, Adept, but I have not seen her use arcana other than the usual Rhy stuff so….probably not bullshitting us? Oh wait, she talked to mice.”

            Tanith’s grin was a little predatory. “A cat with a mouse hmmmm…only slightly analogous to tonight, you know?” Are her eyes more gold now?

            Tríona swallowed and got a little light headed. Tanith was doing this on purpose. Why can’t she be the badass dominant one for once? “Yeah, but she is clever, and fun. The other is Elijah Vale he is Vata, like you but…” Don’t say true Vata. Don’t say true Vata. “Vata’An.” Whew. “And Jarzoni, but he pulled the stick out. He and I get along well. Seems to be an illusionist, and rock thrower. Guess it is a thing over there.”

            “Very useful.” Tanith was pulling her glove off one finger at a time, and it had Tríona’s attention. The gloves were black, with purple on the back, going with the general black and purple theme of her clothes. But ornate, everything she wore was ornate. Tanith was also, notably, almost a foot taller than the sea woman, and her golden eyes had a playful spark now.

            “He is pretty cool, fought off this lass armored to the hilt with his sword too, despite barely having been trained in it. That’s my team, what about yours?’

            The Vata shifted. “My lovers are Jadzia, a Rezean voman, and Jana, who is Vata like me and from Kern. Jadzia is also excellent with a bow. But first and foremost, she is a horsevoman, and the best rider I have ever seen. She can tame any horse she comes across, but few can tame her. Though I can.” That grin again. Tríona felt weak.

            “And Jana?”

            “Jana Totten is an invincible armored vall vith a heart of gold. She is gentle and loving and uses her suffering in the old country to toughen herself into the iron voman she is now. She is also quite sexy and has luminous violet eyes also. I respect her a lot for what she has been through.”

            “And they have other lovers?”

            Tanith stirs the wine with her bare ebon finger. “Yeah, Jana is with a Rose Knight trainee named Marcus Vynn. He is a good guy, and we got him out of Kern recently. Jadzia is with a Rose Knight named Alexis Vinter, a master horsevoman and a really sveet girl. Those two are not in our team, but Alexis is vorking with Marcus some, so vhen ve need Knights to back us up ve can call them in. And of course, Jadzia and Jana are lovers vith each other and me.” She withdraws her finger and sucks it a moment before sipping.

            “I’d love to meet them.” Tríona downs more water with her Scotch. She can feel it hitting her now. There is not enough water here, she thought for not the first time.

            “Vee have three others. Ashlin is sort of a strategist. They are not so much a socialite but they have a lot of good insights I find pretty useful, and they are as close as I have to a right-hand person. Darcy is a Night Person and Roamer and has a number of lovers. He is a Martial Artist and Spirit Dancer, vich is impressive. And he has a very high opinion of his moral judgment, which is annoying as the void.” Tanith sips her wine, and silently hoped Ashlin was glad she never said Spy.

            “And the other?” Tríona leans, her ponytail falling across her bicep.

            “Ah, Maria Highmore. She is an adept like me. Frost Shaper. Sweet girl, but happiest in a library. Terrifying on the battlefield though.” A distant look for a moment as Tanith sips. She was getting better about not being jealous of Marcus. She wishes it did not bother her. She actually laughed naturally in his presence, though, so that helps.

            “Are you working toward anything or just…adventuring till you cannae do anymore.”

            Tanith was the one snapped from her reverie this time. “I vill probably move on to being a noble, like my father. Venever the team starts settling down. That said I am hoping Jadzia and Jana vill be with me. You?”

            “I haven’t decided. Adventuring for the foreseeable.” The Sea Folk looks thoughtful. “Earn something permeant, I am thinking a statue of us. With me bow probably. Build me legend. A bit.” Tanith’s yellow eyes look over her companion. Tríona is definitely cute; that is the word that jumps out. Like all Sea Folk she is sleek and wiry, compactly muscled, naturally hairless apart from her head and softly blue-green. Her eyes are darker, giving them a mysterious and mischievous glimmer that any bit of a smile showed off. Her breaths, barely audible, sounded a bit more like the rising and falling of waves than most people’s. Getting closer would not be the worst thing in the world. Not tonight, but perhaps sometime. Sometime when she wouldn’t be seeing Jadzia and Jana when she closed her eyes.

            Perhaps she should go, Tanith thought.

            “I should head back to Onyx. But stay in touch, Tríona. It was lovely to meet you.” She slides the glove back on.

            “Let us walk you home love?” Tríona perked up. May as well give it a shot.

            Tanith stood up. She was over six feet. She looked out the window, her coat shifting. “I don’t know. I’d hate to have you get more vet.”

            “Sea Folk, love. Don’t care about water.”

            “Fair enough, come along.” She turned, her cape fluttering behind her and headed out.

            --

            Both women shifted to Dark Sight as they walked down the street. The rain was really coming down, and small rivers ran down the road. Tanith had her hood up, and the water splashed under her feet. Cloaked in black and purple, her golden eyes were starkly visible in the darkness between bits of light from shas crystals on buildings. Tríona’s reddish blonde hair was wet, but she had no issue with it. Her tunic, breeches and leather boots clung enough to give her a slighter silhouette, aside from the bow and quiver on her back, but the Expert was more athletically built than her nearly two-meter companion. While it was Tanith’s topazes that were the most eye catching, it was Tríona’s dark eyes that noted they were being followed.

            They had not traded words since they left, the wind and rain making communication difficult. Tanith’s mind was distracted in another place, but she noticed when Tríona’s arms raised over her head to grab her bow. When she saw Tríona jump to a crate, to a barrel, to a low roof, she turned and unleashed a golden blade that glowed with the same light as her eyes, cutting through the darkness swiftly shifting from shades of yellow to amber. In the shadows, four men drew blades, but one was felled before they could even react by a pair of arrows from the Sea Woman’s bow. Tanith dashed toward them with her golden psychic blade in hand even as more arrows rained on them, taking down a second one before the Vata’Sha could even reach them. The larger man moved to put the taller woman between him and the archer, who dashed across the roof leaping one to the other even as his last remaining companion was peppered with arrows before he could strike Tanith. However, the thug’s attention was swiftly drawn from the leaping archer to the amber blade, as Tanith swiped up and cut off his arm. He staggered back, wide eyed.

            “Go get help for your friends. And reconsider your life choices.” The man ran. Light healing magic was cast on the slowly moving trio on the ground, just enough to stabilize them just as the Vata heard Tríona land on the ground behind her.

            “Thank you little one. Your help is appreciated.” Tanith leaned down and slipped a hand behind Tríona’s head and kissed her. The Sea Folk girl’s knees buckled but she felt Tanith catch her weight. Her nose was filled with the smell of lavender and the Vata’Sha woman’s personal scent. For her part, in addition to the immediate textures, a salty smell filled Tanith’s nose, quickening her heart as well.

            After several long moments, Tanith released her and stood, catching her breath. “Ve should…ve should go our separate vays now. Thank you and have a lovely night.”

            “Goodnight pet.” Tríona blinked and smiled. After watching the cloaked Vata’Sha disappear into the night, turning perhaps a bit quickly to hide her expression, Tríona smiled and put her bow back on her back and closed her quiver.

            ‘Well, that was nice.” She said and, with a spring in her step, headed back to the inn.

            --


            See you next week for more Riders on the Storm. Comments and Questions welcome.
            Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 04-06-2019, 01:33 AM.
            Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
            HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

            Comment


            • #51
              Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

              Wow I am behind. Sorry. Trying to get caught up on my writing.

              Dealing with the slaughter they had found, The Cradle journeys in pursuit of the darkness on the Rezean plain.

              Session XXXII

              Riders on the Storm Part II

              Ashlin’s Reports

              Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 11 Gaeleth

              Well, things just got more complicated and much simpler, all at the same time. I have to stay, as someone who usually falls on the deceive-er side of things, see-ers make me nervous. Visions of cannibalistic storms can be handy, when we’re riding towards one, but I always have this fear that they somehow know more about me than I do, and that’s unnerving. Tanith generally doesn’t set me off that way – I think she lacks an element of gravitas that the certain Adepts have managed to garner. Still, Opal is a dear, and her information is certainly going to keep us from riding pell mell across all of Rezea ‘that way’.

              We’d only ridden for most of the night when we heard voices. Jarim had joined us after sneaking away from her clanmates, and Lao and Shang stayed with us of course. Kallyian joined us eventually true, seeing through Jarim’s clever disguise by dint of the cousin playing her part not snoring, but not until after we had our first encounter with the enemy. The voices we’d heard were coming from ahead of us, however, and were speaking in something like Rezean – Jadzia and Maria said it was an old, old dialect, spoken by an elemental making threats. We approached carefully to find the red rags man from Tanith’s scrying yelling at Opal, who stood calmly, with no sign that she that she was intimidated in the slightest. I got the impression she was expecting us. I’m glad we showed up in time.

              We put paid to fire djinn (yeah, I’m cool, I’ve thrown knives at fire djinn. Ice knives even, cause Maria is the greatest) almost before his backup showed up. His backup was particularly scary, one of the incredibly large tentacled monsters we encountered under the mountain. And by ‘encountered’, I mean, saw behind glass prisons and honestly, I prefer that kind of distance. I wasn’t even the one it tried to give a hug too, that was Jadzia. Apparently they are called Soul Harvesters, so it’s probably very good we killed it before it could give her a kiss to go with it.

              We even remembered to not kill the djinn. It turns out, it didn’t have any information that Opal couldn’t give us, so it wouldn’t have been much of a loss, but Jadzia was able to get a bit of closure, at least. It had been with the Seeker the night she massacred Jadzia’s clan, and so Jadzia executed it.

              Before that though, we had a long talk with Opal. Turns out, the Seeker (which is what the sorcerer behind all this has been called since the Blackstar artifact took her name) was once Opal’s apprentice, but Opal cast her out for the sorcerer’s ruthlessness and ambition – after the Seeker fell completely to darkness, Opal exiled herself for her shame in not doing more about the sorcerer. Anyway, Opal knew that the Seeker’s plan was to bring the four Elemental Lords to heel to serve as her army to set herself up as a new Sorcerer Queen. But we knew something the Seeker didn’t know (pst, it’s about that fire guy we killed, you know, the one that was in a volcano and was one of the Elemental Lords? Yeah, we’re awesome). Anyway, once we take out the Seeker’s storm giant, Opal has plans to set a trap for her in the volcano, and has apparently seen the Seeker’s downfall there. After that, it’s going to be up to us to bring the Blackstar to Drunoc in order to destroy it, as Opal has foreseen that she will succumb to it if she tries.

              But, as Jadzia so wisely said, one quest at a time. Opal knew about a pair of towers, the Eastern one roughly a days ride from where we met her, and the Western one in Drunoc. The Seeker is using something about them to feed the Stormeater (her storm giant thing), and if we got to the Eastern Tower, and deactivated it (whatever that means) she would come to check it out, or at least send the Stormeater to deal with it. Opal had more advice for dealing with that, as a large enough fire would cause enough smoke to thicken the Stormeater’s clouds, which would make it easier to hurt. Thankfully, Lao has Fireshaping, so it’s a good thing she was along. Maria’s weather magic will also be helpful, as this is a tall as fuck tower, and I don’t want to get blown off of it again.

              See, we’ve arrived. Here, at the tower. It wasn’t too hard to get in, though I didn’t get some nice practice with the lockpicks. Only broke a couple of pairs on it too, and it was a doozy. Inside was a bunch of soldier darkfiends, a watcher darkfiend and two air djinn. My friends dealt with them handily, and I even managed to tickle one to death right before the end. Then we climb up. And up. And up. On the top of the tower, we found more djinn, an air and two water, as well as another watcher. We, uh, won? I mean, it’s not really a question, cause when I re-achieved the top of the tower, all the baddies were dead. It’s just that I spent most of the fight either falling down after being blown off by the air djinn, catching myself on various architectural outcroppings, and then climbing back up all those stairs. No worries though - I did look super cool parkouring my way down.

              So, we’re here and none of us have slept for a couple of long days. So we’re going to try to get a decent chunk of sleep with watches before turning off the tower and setting the trap. I wonder what ridiculous weapon this Elemental Lord will be wielding. My fingers are crossed for a lightning whip.

              [Cloven hoof mark]


              Jadzia’s Horse Sense

              (Whispered haltingly in Rezean before three small stone monuments just outside of Fallen River)

              “I apologize for my brief absence. This is… difficult for me.

              “Much about the last few days has been difficult, though in some ways the hours we spent at the Rihan camp were among the most difficult. For the first time since your deaths, I knew both who was responsible and where she was located. To ask me to sit idly, and talk, and eat, while that witch strayed ever further from my righteous vengeance… it was nearly more than I could bear, no matter how necessary the delay. Tanith and Jana sat to either side of me while we dined, and their presence was a comfort.

              “Jarim wished to join us as we hunted the witch and her compatriots, but her clan would not hear of it. Some of my companions wished to speak up on her behalf, but I cautioned against it. They mentioned that we had allowed the young Prince Gregory to join us in the fight against the Magma Titan so that he might prove himself to his people, and I was forced to admit that they made a valid point. Still, I suggested that it might be best if Jarim slipped out from under her family’s guard on her own, and then joined us later on the road. Darcy liked that idea, and passed it on surreptitiously to Jarim herself.

              “There was one further delay before we could set out. Tanith asked for ten minutes so that she could… modify Terra’s memory. The young princess wished to have the sight of her parents’ corpses removed from her mind. Not the knowledge of their deaths, mind you, merely the image itself. Though this seems… wrong to me on several levels, I cannot fault her for this desire. I have often wished… but no. My memories are a part of who I am. They galvanized me for the trials I have faced in my life, and for the trials yet to come.

              “We rode out with the setting of the sun; the six of us who comprise the Cat’s Cradle along with the sisters Shang and Lao. It was not long at all before Jarim caught up with us, eager as ever to prove herself. Though she is boastful and untried… the girl has a good heart, and despite myself I was pleased to have her with us.

              “We paused a short time later as the sounds of a one-sided argument drifted back to us from somewhere ahead. The voice that we could hear was speaking Rezean… after a fashion. It sounded like the language of the oldest songs sung by the bards on the plains. I could make out most of what was said, though it was difficult to divine sense from the words.

              “The argument was between a fire djinn and a witch… but not the object of our pursuit. The djinn was familiar to us all from Tanith’s vision; a tall thin figure wrapped in red rags. The soft-spoken woman with whom it was arguing was none other than Opal, the witch we last saw on the island of Arax. When their disagreement looked as though it might become violent, we intervened… though Ashlin cautioned us to leave the creature alive so that it might be questioned.

              “We would have made short work of the djinn had it been our only foe in that encounter. But no, the witch’s other servant, the tentacled beast from Tanith’s vision, appeared in our midst suddenly, as though from thin air, and lashed out at all of us simultaneously. I rode into the fray upon Salkhi, piercing it with my lance and hurling imprecations at it. In this way I hoped to raise its ire and prevent it from using its foul magic to slip away from us. It hissed in pain and turned its full attention upon me as I rode out of the reach of its limbs.

              “Its teleportation abilities proved just as effective at short range, unfortunately. It zipped across the battlefield and slipped one of its foul appendages around my torso, plucking me from Salkhi’s back like a child’s doll. I thrashed in its grip, but my struggles came to nothing. It drew me ever nearer to its gaping maw, and its fetid breath blew across me like a wind from a charnel house. The others came to my rescue, with Maria landing the final blow.

              “The creature dropped me to the ground, and an instant later Tanith’s arms were around me and she was kissing the top of my head and muttering tearfully that she loved me and had feared that she would lose me. After indulging for a few seconds, she pulled back sheepishly, but left a hand upon my shoulder. I raised my own hand to give hers a squeeze; I am not ashamed of our love and will never blame her for such displays of affection. It is an honor to be loved by such a woman.

              “Jana also expressed her relief that I was unharmed, albeit in a more sedate and quiet fashion. The group of us advanced upon the unconscious djinn, and I placed my boot upon its throat. Once it was awake, the questioning did not take long. It quickly became apparent that the djinn could tell us nothing which we could not learn from the witch Opal. She told us that our quarry currently goes by the name of ‘the Seeker,’ her true name having been devoured by the Black Star of Drunac. The Seeker had once been a pupil of Opal’s, but the elder witch had turned her away when her studies led her to sorcery. The Seeker hopes to take command of the four Elemental Lords, starting with the Storm-Eater. She does not know that we have already destroyed Dark Magmus.

              “I craved other answers from the djinn. I asked if it had been present at the massacre at Fallen River three years previous. It had. I asked if it had participated in the massacre. It had. The creature stated that it had not done so willingly; it had been bound to the Seeker’s service.

              “I took no joy in claiming the life of a slave, no matter what its master had commanded of it. But we could not allow the Seeker to use the djinn against us in the future. My blades bit deep and ended its life quickly.

              “My mothers. My sister. You are not avenged. Not yet. But it is a start. The Seeker has been deprived of the weapon she used to burn your bodies.

              “As we prepared to continue our pursuit, Kallyain joined us, riding hard upon our trail. It seems that Jarim had recruited one of her cousins to take her place in her tent, and Kallyain had seen through the deception earlier than Jarim had expected. Though she made a half-hearted attempt to convince the young diplomat to ride back to the camp with her, in the end she offered her assistance in our endeavor. I was glad to have her bow and her blades at our side.

              “Opal told us of a pair of towers, which the Seeker was using to feed the Storm-Eater. One of these towers rose from Drunac, but the other was less than a day’s ride west of our present location. If we could reach the tower and deactivate it, the Seeker would send the Storm-Eater to deal with us. If its nebulous body could be thickened with smoke, it would become solid enough for our weapons to damage it. Lao reluctantly offered to help us on that count, as she specializes in fire arcana. Opal further stated that wind or weather arcana would be useful as well… in order to reach the Storm-Eater’s most vital spots, we would need to face it from atop the tower itself, and Maria’s mastery of winds would prevent the creature from simply sweeping us off it to our deaths far below.

              “And so we rode through what remained of the night and the following day. We saw the tower from a great distance, and were certain that those the witch had left to defend it could see our approach as well. Like many of the old structures which remain on the plains, it was surrounded by an outer wall, pierced by only one gate. Darcy, Ashlin and I scaled the walls and opened the gates for the others from the inside.

              “There was no way to circumvent the next sealed door, however. The door to the tower itself was locked. Jana and I exchanged a look and stepped forward to batter the barrier down, but Ashlin offered to attempt to pick the lock instead. We all saw the sense in this, as it would be best to keep the door intact if we were to defend the tower later. A few moments later it was done.

              “The room at the base of the tower was pitch-black. Darcy used his divine illumination ability to light the way for the rest of us, which caused a few of the tower’s darkfiend defenders to flee. A Watcher and two air djinn remained. We took care of them quickly enough. Once we had softened the Watcher up, Lao lit it on fire, which allowed Darcy to release his magical light. The two Soldier darkfiends returned to join the fight, but they were not much more difficult than their compatriots had been. One of the djinn attempted to disarm me with a gust of wind. It failed, and quickly came to regret that decision.

              “We ascended the spiral staircase inside the tower to the top, where we found the mystical device held against us by another air djinn (this one unusually large) flanked by two water djinn and another Watcher-type darkfiend. We engaged them immediately, and eventually came out ahead in that confrontation… though the air djinn’s ability to manipulate the wind and the Watcher’s ability to move objects – and people – with its arcana proved most troublesome. Several of my companions were nearly hurled from the top of the tower, and Ashlin actually did disappear over the edge. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when he ascended the stairs again a few moments later.

              “I asked Opal how we could disable the device, which looked like a tall spire of metal rising from the roof of the tower. The others pointed out that we had not slept in some time, and our adepts had exhausted themselves in not one but three battles. We were in a defensible position, and we had the advantage of knowing that our quarry would come running when we turned off the device. As we would be facing one of our strongest foes, it seemed sensible that we should be at our best.

              “I groused a bit about the harm that the Seeker and the Storm-Eater might do while we delayed, but I saw the sense in their suggestions. So I settled in with the rest of them, but resolved to remain vigilant. I was confident that I would not be able to sleep, distracted as I was by my thoughts.”


              Jana’s Letters

              Dear Mother,

              Given today’s activities so far it’s no surprise that the day continued with more combat. Initially we discussed whether or not we wanted Jarim to come with us or not. We decided that if she could get herself away from her keepers then we’d let her come with us. It’s no more than we let the prince of Arax do some months back. He wanted to prove himself against the big bad of the mountain and Jarim wants to prove herself against pretty much everyone. So we agreed that she could come if she could get herself away. There wasn’t much point in aiding her since this was her quest she had to be able to do it by herself. Also before we left Terra asked Tanith to remove the memory of her parents’ corpses from her mind. She didn’t want the image haunting her. I can understand that. I remember the day that you were killed like it was yesterday. They did not raise you while I was present so I have hope that they did not do that to you at all. Father didn’t seem to mind regardless. I hated him just a little bit more for that.

              Later that evening Jarim caught up to us as expected. Shortly after that we started hearing voices ahead. It sounded like someone threatening someone else in an ancient variation of Rezean. At least Jadzia said that it was an old version of the language. We interrupted the pair and found the person hooded and cloaked in red rags confronting none other than Opal, the seer that we met on Arax. She didn’t seem concerned with the presence of the djinn in the red cloak. It was the same being in red rags that Tanith had seen in her vision. Needless to say we attacked. We were engrossed in our fight with the djinn so much that some of us didn’t see the arrival of the tentacle monster. It was the same monster from Tanith’s vision; like the things that we saw in that cave in Kern. It was horrendous. It attacked several of our number all at once with its various tentacles. Jarim, Shang and Lao showed up at that time and started attacking the monster. About that time the monster grabbed my Jadzia in a grapple and started to pull her into its great maw. We attacked in earnest until it was dead and my lover freed. Moments later Kallyian showed up looking for Jarim. She decided to stay with Jarim instead of forcing her to go back to the camp with her.

              We talked to Opal after the fight and she told us of a pair of towers that lay far away that could be part of what the Witch was using to control the storm elemental. She also mentioned that the Witch, or as she called her the Seeker, was a former student of hers. She said that if we defeated at least one of the towers then the Seeker would come to us and we could fight her. We would also be able to finish off the Storm-Eater, which Opal said was another elemental creature like the Dark Magmus that we fought on the island. There are apparently two more of these creatures in the world, though they may not be awake yet, that the Seeker wants to gain under her control. She apparently doesn’t know that the Dark Magmus was defeated by us.

              We also questioned the djinn, which we had left alive for that purpose. Jadzia asked if it had been at the Fallen River trading camp three years ago. It said that it had, and after questioning admitted that it had been the one to burn the bodies of Jadzia’s mothers and rhy-bonded horse. It did say that it was not there of its own volition though. It was bound by the Seeker, and she made it do those things. Jadzia said that fact made what she had to do a little less satisfying and she killed the djinn with one stroke of her sword.

              After that we traveled to the closer tower. It had a squat first level and then the tower rose up from that. It was very tall. There was also a wall that surrounded the whole building. Ashlin, Darcy and Jadzia all climbed the wall and let the rest of us in through the gate. Once we were all through the gate we had the front door to contend with. It was reinforced so breaking it down was not really an option, so Ashlin picked the lock in short order. Darcy used his holy light and walked into the building forcing a couple of darkfiends back up the stairs. A watcher darkfiend and two air djinn were unaffected. The ensuing fight was pretty quick. Once all the darkfiends had been dealt with we started climbing the stairs to go up the tower. We reached the top of the tower and found more enemies. There was another watcher darkfiend, a large wind djinn and two smaller water djinn. That fight was chaotic and harrowing. The watcher darkfiend tried to throw Jadzia off of the tower, but my lover caught herself before she could fall. The wind djinn tried to blow several people off the top of the tower as well. In one gust Ash and Lao fell. Ash caught himself on the way down and Lao used arcanum to walk on the wind back to the tower. Tanith started to go over the side but Darcy caught her as she fell. Even one of the water djinn fell off the tower with that attack. It was not so lucky and died when it hit the ground. The wind elemental tried a second attack aimed at Darcy and Jarim, but it did not succeed. Then everyone ganged up on the wind elemental since it was proving to be the most dangerous combatant arrayed against us. Jadzia struck the killing blow. The remaining water djinn was dealt with handily by me and Darcy. Darcy essentially kept backing the djinn up until it fell off of the tower. So that took care of that.

              Now we just need to rest before we pick any more fights. And we will be instigating more fights. The witch that killed my lover’s family will pay for her actions with her life. She remains free for the moment, but we will deal with her soon enough. After we rest we will deal with the Storm-Eater. We will deal with the witch after that.

              Love always,

              Jana

              End Session XXXII

              Djinni and Soul Harvesters are from the Fantasy AGE Bestiary. Opal was from Two Princes. I am behind, but I will answer any questions or comments folks have. Thank you.
              Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
              HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

              Comment


              • #52
                Re: Blue Rose: Cat's Cradle (Actual Play)

                No Like button, so thank you for sharing! Great stuff!

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                • #53
                  First off, 1000buffalo thank you for the kind words. We thrive on feedback, and we were all happy to hear from someone enjoying our story. Feel free to comment or ask questions anytime.

                  Also, the OP is all updated, with more pictures of the PCs in it. Thanks to Evan Sass for that. Evan you rock.

                  So this is like super late. Had a houseguest, had oral surgery, had the website down. I profoundly apologize for that. But it’s time to wrap up the Rezean Adventure.

                  Session XXXIII

                  Riders on the Storm Part III

                  Ashlin’'s Reports

                  “There’s some poetic license,” Ash gestured at the waving grass they were sitting in, “but I mentioned how creepy the still grass was, right?”

                  Kait’s eyes were wide, taking in the scene of her room having been transformed into a moonlit plain. The grass rippled as she took a step forward, though it didn’t quite brush against her legs. Wind seemed to whistle around the room and she glanced at Ash to find their lips pursed as if they were whistling, though no sound came from them. “What was released upon the world when the spirits bequeathed you magic?” She shook her head. “And what are my neighbors going to think?”

                  “There are other people?” Ash asked innocently.

                  “You are here to report on these ‘other people’, are you not?” Kait crossed her arms.

                  Ash shrugged, the grass rippling as if it shrugged with them. “I prefer to think of it as telling the only other person in the world the stories of my imagining. The plains do that to a person, you know? You could go hours and never see anyone else.”

                  Kait bit her lip, keeping a stern expression on her face. “And the realm that you are serving, with your reports?”

                  “Realm? Serving? I thought I was doing this to bring a smile to your face.” She frowned at them. They beamed back at her.

                  Kait sighed. “Speaking of reports, as I was, what kind of report is ‘We won. On our way home.’?”

                  Ash looked thoughtfully into the distance as the shadow of a cloud across the moon drifted over the pair of them. “Truthful? Concise? We had won and were on the way home. I didn’t want to waste any time getting to that second part.”

                  “Well, you are home now. What happened at the tower?” She waited expectantly, but Ash didn’t say anything else, just patted the ground next to them. She suppressed a smile in response to their guileless grin, and sat down, leaning back against the ‘rock’ that turned out to actually be her bed.

                  She watched the sky with them for a moment. Eventually, they spoke up out of the silence. “You know that feeling when you are in the middle of a heavy fog bank?” Kait nodded, Ash watching her out of the corner of their eyes. “Now imagine you are standing on the roof of the tallest building in town, the fog is evil, it hates you, and it has wind magic. And that’s just how it started. Thank Braniel we had Maria - fight bad weather with good weather, I always say.”

                  “Always?” Kait raised an eyebrow.

                  “Always.” Ash leaned back, looking up at the stars. “The Seeker seemed to focus on Jadzia and Darcy, mostly. Darcy was not pleased with the state of his shirt at the end of it, regardless of how rakish it made him look.” They paused, noticing a question in Kait’s eyes. “She’s kind of a one trick sorcerer. Razorwind - which is exactly what it sounds like - was pretty much her only thing, at least that we saw. Though, I guess controlling storm gods is a kind of power in and of itself.”

                  Kait’s brow furrowed. “But she’s dead now?”

                  Ash cleared their throat. “Well... no. She was attacking from, apparently, a long ways away. Through the Blackstar, which appeared in the sky with the giant storm fella. And winked out when the Jarzoni army showed up, after the Stormeater was destroyed. So, not dead, but she did lose one of her weapons. Opal says...”

                  “The Rezean seer?”

                  Ash nodded. “She says the Seeker will come for the Magmadoodle next, since the Seeker doesn’t know we dealt with it. Opal’s keeping an eye out for that, and so we’re supposed to be ready for her call. To, you know, finish things.”

                  “Which will mean what, exactly?” Kait watched them, concerned at their momentarily distant gaze.

                  They turned to meet Kait’s eyes with a carefree look. “Oh, you know. Defeating a sorceress with a super powerful magical artifact. Taking that as-evil-as-it-is-powerful magical artifact to a former bastion of the Sorcerer Kings to destroy it while not getting corrupted and losing...” they paused, briefly, “losing our names. You know. The usual.”

                  They sat in silence for a moment. Kait watched the grass waving and shivered as the wind started up again, a low, mournful blowing. She reached over and took Ash’s hand, interlacing her fingers with theirs. “What you do is important. You know that, right?”

                  Ash looked over with a cheery smile and gave her hand a squeeze. “I know.” The soft sobs of a princess in mourning sounded faintly behind them and the smile fell from Ash’s face. “I know.”


                  Jadzia’'s Horse Sense

                  (Whispered haltingly in Rezean before three small stone monuments just outside of Fallen River)

                  “Hello again. I am sorry; I do not know why this is so difficult for me. I…

                  “There is not much more to tell, in truth. The battle atop the ancient tower was epic in its scope, and yet it does not take long to relate in words.

                  “We deactivated the spire at the top of the tower, and the Storm-Eater arrived shortly thereafter to investigate. At first it was large and intangible; its body seemed to settle around the tower. The air thickened, and lighting struck at us from every direction. We struck back at it as we could, but damaging it was as difficult as hurting a cloud. Luckily, both Maria and Lao were able to enchant our weapons with elemental energy so that we could reliably inflict harm upon our foe… and the staff of Dark Magmus was more than equal to the task of injuring the titan without help.

                  “A short time later the Storm-Eater pulled away from the tower and began relying upon ranged attacks, forcing us to do likewise. This was not a problem for most of us, though Jana chose to focus upon protecting Tanith, as is only right and proper. The creature buffeted the roof of the tower with strong winds, forcing us to struggle to retain our respective perches. We had known that this might be a problem, and so had taken our meager supply of rope and lashed both Tanith and Maria to the spire. It seemed prudent; Maria was using her arcana to counter the Storm-Eater’s winds, and Tanith was the only one of us who could resurrect the others if we should fall in battle.

                  “Throughout the battle, Lao had been using fire arcana, creating smoke to thicken the Storm-Eater’s form so that we could more easily damage it. When it moved closer to the tower again, we could see that her efforts had not been in vain. The Storm-Eater had become solid enough for us to strike it with normal weapons. It had also become solid enough for us to find purchase upon its surface, and climb so that we could reach more vital spots. I leaped at the opportunity. Jana, Darcy, Shang, and Kallyian had the same idea. The five of us managed to inflict significant damage while clinging to the creature’s hide.

                  “The beast quickly decided that it had had enough of this treatment and summoned up a whirlwind. We were pulled away from the monster and swept into the air. It was dizzying, stomach-turning. We were whirled through the air hundreds of feet above the ground, spun round and round, and flipped end-over-end. Luckily, we were also able to keep our wits about us, and continued to pummel the Storm-Eater with a steady stream of attacks. In the end, Ashlin was the one who landed the final blow. I was… absurdly proud of him for that.

                  “Throughout this encounter, a new star shone in the sky, shedding blood-red light upon the battlefield. The witch known as the Seeker observed the fight through the star, and occasionally summoned… she called the razor winds against us. She focused upon whichever of us was doing the most damage to her pet at the time, which in most cases was either Darcy or myself. Those winds are… I could feel her flaying the skin from my body. It was horrible. Had Tanith not healed me halfway through the battle, I might have fallen today. I… I cannot imagine how it must have felt when she…

                  “In any case, once the Storm-Eater was dead, the witch abandoned the fight. She was cowardly. She would not face us in person, because she knew that I would kill her, and even her spirit fled the battlefield once it was clear that she had lost. But do not fret. She will not long elude me. We know where she will be going next. Opal is returning to Arax, and she will contact us when she feels the Seeker approaching. Our next encounter will be our last.

                  “You will be avenged. I… I know it will not bring you back. There is nothing I can do which will bring you back. And that is unfortunate, because I would do anything to bring you back. But at least she will answer for her crimes.

                  “The aftermath of the battle was almost comical. The Jarzoni forces arrived too late to be of any help to us, though we did have a formidable escort on our way back to Fallen River. Jarim has gained much prestige in the eyes of her clan. It is well deserved. Her contributions to the fight were not as large as the more seasoned combatants’, but she never wavered in her courage or determination. When she has more experience, she will be a fine warrior… perhaps even a chieftain.

                  “Darcy, Maria, and Ashlin boarded a ship within a day of our return to Fallen River; they are probably already back in Aldis City. Shang and Lao left a day later. I think those two have begun to heal the rift between them. Following the battle they shared an awkward embrace, and each expressed relief that the other had survived relatively unhurt. Kallyian has left for parts unknown. Jarim and Terra have returned to their people.

                  “Tanith and Jana… as you know, my loves have remained here. With me. To give me time. With you.

                  “Tuya-mama. I have tried to live my life as you would have wanted. I do not have your wisdom, and it seems unlikely that I shall ever develop it. But I am trying. I am strong, and I make certain that those around me are aware of that fact. I do not seek fights… well, in truth, I sometimes seek fights, but never against those who do not deserve to be fought. I try not to start fights, but I make certain that I always finish them. I… I hope that you would be proud to see the woman I have become. I love you, and I miss you.

                  “Savar-mama. You never cared as much for the glory of battle, but always wanted to make certain that I was happy among good friends. Though you may not see it here, I would like to assure you that I am more than content with the life I have made for myself in Aldis. Tanith, Jana, and Alexis… they love me, Mama. All three of them have seen me at my best and my worst, and their affections have never wavered. None of them are perfect, but each of them is more than I deserve. I believe that you would approve of them, and of my choices. I love you, and I miss you.

                  “Iyara, sister of my soul. I… I do not have the words to say what I need to say to you, but I know that I must try. I… I am sorry, my dear. I am so sorry for the things that I said and did on that night three years ago. I would give my right arm to be able to take those harsh words back… to have the last thing you heard from me reflect the love that I always felt for you, rather than the petty argument that came between us on that evening. I love you, and I miss you.

                  “The tears that water the ground around these stones… those are for you. I weep for no one else, but I feel no shame at shedding them here.

                  “Tomorrow we board a ship and return to Aldis. I… I suppose I have only one thing more to say.

                  “Goodbye.”


                  Jana’'s Letters

                  Dear Mother,

                  The short version of the story is that we beat the Storm-eater, but the witch got away. The reality is of course more involved than that, but that is the gist of what happened. We rested last night and worked on summoning the Storm-eater using the tower this morning. While we were waiting for the monster to arrive Maria and Lao used their arcanum to imbue our weapons with either ice or fire so we would be able to do more damage to the Storm-eater. I chose ice, as did most of my group. It wasn’t too long after we did that that the Storm-eater arrived, and with him the witch called the Seeker. She appeared as a red star in the sky over the tower. I’m assuming she was using some sort of scrying ability to focus on her pet monster and therefore us.

                  The fight with the Storm-eater lasted awhile and went through a few different stages. That’s the best way I can describe it. At first it was as if we were inside the Storm-eater and we could hit it with our arcanum-imbued weapons. After we did a bit of damage that way it backed off and moved so it was just off the side of the tower. I tried hitting it with my crossbow at that point but only managed to hit it once doing that. I did not have Maria imbue my crossbow with ice so it wasn’t sure to hit, plus it takes a while to reload a crossbow. Jadzia was hitting it with her bow though, Darcy was hitting it with his holy light and Ash was using his sound abilities to pierce it’s hide with blades made of sound. Throughout this whole time Lao was using her fire abilities to start a fire and force the smoke into the Storm-eater to help thicken it so it would be easier for us to hit and damage. And Maria was using most of her concentration to keep it from blowing us off the top of the tower. Maria and Tanith were tied to the top of the tower using the rope that we had available. We figured we couldn’t afford to lose the one person that could bring us back from the dead if we fell, and the one person that could fight the Storm-eater’s winds with wind of her own. So Tanith and Maria were tied to the tower.

                  I also discovered the downside to wearing plate armor. Lightning. I got hit with the Storm-eater’s lightning on at least one occasion and I will just say that it hurt. The metal of my armor allowed the lightning to hit me all over. The others were more lucky in that regard, they were not wearing full plate. I would take that hit again though since I was defending Tanith at the time. I would much rather be hit with the lightning than have Tanith or Jadzia take the hit. Though, the one thing I could not protect my lover from was the witch’s razor wind. She seemed to focus her attacks on Jadzia and Darcy. Both of them were rather effective combatants so I suppose it made sense that the witch would focus on them.

                  After a while the Storm-eater moved closer to the tower and had become more solid thanks to Lao’s efforts with the smoke. The only way to really fight it at that point was to actually climb on it. I did not consider what would happen if we defeated the creature, I was only paying attention to taking it down as quickly as possible before it could further hurt my friends. Most of the others had the same idea that I did and climbed on the Storm-eater. That lasted a few minutes and then suddenly the Storm-eater summoned a tornado around itself and those of us on its body were sucked into the vortex. We did our best to “swim” close to the creature to continue our attacks on it. In the end it was Ashlin that landed the killing blow on the Storm-eater. At that point the vortex stopped spinning abruptly and all of us that had been caught in it had to reach out and grab what part of the tower we could. Thankfully no one fell. The red star that was in the sky was still there but seemed to see or sense the approach of the Jarzoni army and winked out before they could arrive. I guess the witch didn’t like her odds against all of us and a small army.

                  The interesting thing after the fight was Lao and Shang. They embraced each other and actually complimented each other’s skill and valor. I will admit that I wasn’t sure if there was anything besides animosity between those two. It seemed mostly to be on Shang’s side, but the tension was mutual. I guess it took fighting a giant storm monster together and almost falling to their deaths to realize that they still cared for one another. I’ll admit that it brought Tanith, Jadzia and I closer together, but we didn’t have a rift between us to start with. It just strengthened our love for one another.

                  This whole trip has been very emotional for my Jadzia. First she had to go to the place where her family was slaughtered and then she had to fight several of the beings that were responsible for that act. Thankfully she was able to get some closure by killing the fire djinn that burned the camp, but she was not able to kill the witch. None of us were. She was too cowardly to face us in person. Perhaps because she knew that she would lose without her minions. We know where she is hiding at the moment and what she’s planning to some extent. She wants to gather the four elemental creatures and lost the Storm-eater. She doesn’t know that the Dark Magmus has been destroyed by us. That just leaves the last two to go, and we have some idea of where they are.

                  On the plus side the Storm-eater left behind a weapon, just as the Dark Magmus did. This time it is a spear that could also be used as a staff. I believe that it would be best suited for Darcy to use. It would be ill suited for me in any case.

                  And now I’m going to end this. Tanith and I are going to spend a couple days with Jadzia at the Fallen River trading camp while she comes to terms with what happened in the past and what happened over the past couple of days. It has been a very emotional time for my Jadzia and I want to be there for her in her time of need. She has supported me despite my past, it’s the least I can do to support her now.

                  Love always,

                  Jana

                  End Session XXXIII

                  Riders on the Storm Completed

                  This was mainly a huge, four stage battle. Maria spent the first couple phases using Wind Shaping to stop the Storm-Eater from blowing everyone off. Fortunately, Maria is a badass.

                  Lao used the first turn to start and feed fires, so the smoke would slow him down and make it possible to hurt him with normal weapons. The fourth stage the PCs wound up climbing on him, Shadow of the Colossus style, and final stage everyone was spinning in a tornado attacking and for melee trying to swim close enough at attack. It was fun.

                  Much like Dark Magmus, he left a weapon. While Magmus was a club that was two handed Bludgeon or Polearm, The Storm Eater left a lightning bolt that was a ranged Polearm or two handed Staff. Darcy wound up taking it.

                  Still getting caught up. If you have Comments or Questions let me know. Next time we start a new story, and after that I post the handout.
                  Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                  HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Note the front page is finally updated. Even added new pictures!

                    New story, this time an investigation, a search for two missing people, a shadowy cult, all taking place in a hotel run by rats and a pillow house full of mysterious people with motives of their own. Everyone has secrets. Whose secrets are dangerous?

                    Session XXXIV

                    Pillow Fort Part I

                    Ashlin’s Reports

                    Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 29 Gaeleth

                    Well, it has been nice being back in the city, and it seems we might be here for a while still – this new assignment is both twisty AND turny, just the way I like it. Plus, I get to stay at the world renowned, one and only rhy-rat nest inn, The Nest, and spend copious amounts of free time at The Rustling Cedars – don’t worry, my heart still belongs only to you (and maybe Annette. I mean, she’s just so… devious). Now, Quintus the rhy rat proprietor of The Nest might be a double agent, and Llorona, the Adept who runs The Rustling Cedars is super… creepy? That’s not the right word, but I think it’s what I’m going with. I certainly agree with the instructions not to be alone with her. But that just makes it more exciting, right?

                    So, to recap – we are investigating Zane Nazzari, a Sentinel from Lumina whose brother William we met when we were over there. She went missing while she was investigating The Nest and The Rustling Cedars. She was investigating them ostensibly because one of the Inamorata, Silvestra, at The Rustling Cedars was murdered recently. She was actually investigating the disappearance of Dill, who was another agent of the Crown, and the one responsible for killing Silvestra. He was there, under the name of Namon Zanira, investigating a Shadow Dancer group called the Song of Entropy, a group that Silvestra belonged to.

                    Whew. Anyway, there was a lot to parse and a lot to look into, even though our investigation for now has been focused on Zane and Silvestra. (That route is a lot more solid, considering Dill’s skill with disguises.) Even so, our first night of investigation has gotten us plenty. Mostly about the actors in the pillow house, but we had to start somewhere, and, well, my company has their inclinations.

                    So, Llorona. She is charisma turned up to the highest levels. Every word out of her mouth is dripping with seduction (and the implication that she knows way more about you than you could ever imagine). She is an Adept, like I mentioned, though not from the University – Maria checked. She was eager to help, assuming right off the bat they were there to investigate Zane (Alex Boegiboe was there too, but he wasn’t part of the investigation, obviously) and was more than willing to help, especially by putting her memory of Zane’s two visits into their brains. She had already done so to Aneshka, when the Guard had come by. Conveniently, both she and Aneshka emphasized the fact that one Rowan Foxglove, an agent of the Fairlights, was Silvestra’s last client. Still don’t know what that’s about.

                    Zane only visited once as part of the investigation, searching Silvestra’s old room, and also the one directly beneath hers, one that belonged to another ‘new’ girl, as Silvestra had been. She spoke with Liselle Wavecrest (an agent of the love of my life, Annette, who also Bards for both The Rustling Cedars and The Nest, among other places) for a considerable amount of time, and shared glances with one of the girls named Prana. The second visit was for pleasure, as she paid for some time with Prana, who had been quite charmed by Zane, despite the Sentinel’s impatience. Llorona commented on it, as did Alexis, though in other words, when Jana and Jadzia went to visit her. Alexis promised to talk to William for us, and get in contact with what she learned.

                    They talked with Prana (well, all the folks living there, but most didn’t know much) and got the first big break, at least concerning that disappearance. Apparently, the appointment Zane had made was for just a massage (somewhat reluctantly, as Tanith saw using object reading later). They talked and hit it off though, and Prana left with her, getting a room at a hotel a couple of streets down to spend the night together ‘unprofessionally’ as Prana put it. However, Zane wasn’t there when Prana woke up, having paid for the room and left without waking her.

                    Alright, what next? Let’s take a break from Inamorata, and talk about Liselle. She’s a bard, like I mentioned, who works at The Rustling Cedars, not just cause it’s a happening place, but to keep an eye on things, and specifically Llorona, for Annette. That was why she tried to implicate Rowan Foxglove, though she had no idea why Llorona would want to. Anyway, there’s a Shadow Broker dealing in some serious blackmail on Annette’s radar, and she suspects Llorona is feeding them information (or is them). Liselle hasn’t found any good evidence, in fact, she’s found plenty of evidence that the Adept strictly enforces the sanctity of the boudoir, but then again, the Shadow Broker has slowed down on their blackmail since Liselle’s been keeping an eye on The Rustling Cedar, so…

                    Liselle didn’t have much to go on for our investigation, other than a sure feeling that Zane was fine, and that we should focus on Silvestra’s death. Zane mostly asked her about being a bard, and general comings and goings. I did toss Namon’s name by her (I got to handle that conversation, since I snuck a talk with Annette in while the others were doing research, and got her seal of approval for Liselle to talk to me) within a collection of others, and she latched onto it as familiar, but other than a suspicion he was involved with Silvestra’s death, she didn’t have anything there.

                    Back to the pillow house. There is an adorable little Night Person girl who lives there, Alliara, Llorona’s adopted daughter. She’s incredibly active, and curious, so she pokes around a lot. She was quite fond of Silvestra, who was willing to use her Flesh Shaping to give Alliara a big nose, or big eyebrows, on the eight year old’s demands. She was also willing to teach Alliara her Spirit Dancing, or Shadow Dancing as it turns out. Darcy had contacted his mentor in the art, Sarena, earlier, and found out that the Song of Entropy’s style involved a lot of spinning, which was exactly the move Alliara showed off, in her excess of energy way.

                    She did give us our next big break. A group of 5-8 people came to visit Silvestra, and when Alliara tried to listen in, she got caught and Silvestra shooed her off, warning her that the people would be mad. It was a varied group, even to her vague memory, and she did not see them leave through the door of the conference room, even though Silvestra left before Alliara’s bedtime.

                    She did tell them where the meeting took place, so Tanith used her Object Reading on the room. Turns out there were considerably more than mad – Silvestra had to talk the group down from killing the girl. The group was looking for something under the city, something that was under The Nest, or The Rustling Cedars, or somewhere nearby. They had already run into something under The Nest, something they just referred to as the Swarm. Tanith watched through the Object Reading as they made plans involving bringing something for the Swarm to devour while they snuck past, a plan that they eventually let go for fear of getting trapped beneath it. The vision also let them find the secret exit from the room, one that led straight down.

                    So, all of this confirms Dill’s suspicions, or at least gives strong evidence towards. Sarena also described the history of the Song of Entropy – they’d had a school in Aldis City, but the tower it was in had collapsed and was now lost under the city. Hadal Abyssia, the vampire Shadow Dancer the others ran into while working on the Hyades case, was thought to be somewhat associated with the school, somehow.

                    What really still remains a mystery is how tied up into it Llorona is. She talked a lot about how well she knows her Inamorata, how they need to ‘be of one mind’ for them to work out on a permanent basis. Now, Silvestra was still one of the new girls, one of the folks there on a temporary basis, but she was ‘on track’ for being one of the permanent group. And given what we know about Silvestra, that’s worrying.

                    We have talked two a couple of the other new girls, the two who live on the first floor (that’s pertinent, I promise. And for when it matters, Silvestra’s room was on the second floor). One of them was familiar – Dawn Lux, who Darcy had met (and broken into a house with for sex) early on in our career. She was quick to assure us she had nothing to do with any of the issues, but she had had a really bad feeling about Silvestra, the kind of bad feeling that was remnant of a rough childhood. The last time she had a feeling like that was about someone who turned out to be a mass poisoner, working for an Exarch, so she’s learned to trust her gut over time. She had reported these feelings to Llorona, who assured her that she knew Silvestra very well, in ways Dawn couldn’t understand. She didn’t have any bad feelings about Llorona herself, for all she was scared of the Adept, with her mesmerizing voice and intense charisma. She also didn’t have any bad feelings about Silvestra’s friendship with Alliara, so the Shadow Dancer did have ‘doesn’t hurt kids’ as a redeeming quality.

                    The other one they talked to was one Melpomene, and hers was the room Zane had searched – it was directly beneath Silvestra’s. She’s from Rainward, and had heard about Darcy from Dulcinea, though unfortunately I think the goodwill there was strained a bit when Darcy asked her not to report the secret passage in her room to Llorona. See, they poked into the room, following Zane’s footsteps, and managed to find what Zane had found, a secret passage leading through the walls. Melpomene really wanted to tell Llorona, but Darcy managed to convince to hold off on that, if not convince her it was for her own safety.

                    Darcy and Tanith explored it without Melpomene (Maria and Jana were avoiding temptation while talking with Llorona, who apparently has a thing for Maria – talk about Adeptly things didn’t get too far – and Jadzia was very distracted with two hot guys and a small jug of olive oil), finding doors to four rooms – the four given to new folks, though one was empty. They also found two paths leading underground, and a dagger stuck in the wall. Object Reading showed that it was Zane’s dagger, and she had thrown it at a cloaked figure that had surprised her in the passage. They also found many kid-sized footprints, so whatever else the passage was used for, Alliara used it for getting around.

                    Man, that was a lot. We’ve got some good leads though, and plenty of leg work still to go. We haven’t talked to anyone at The Nest, though Maria was delighted by the performance over dinner, and is eager to talk with their cook about Shaping. We need to check on Zane’s room at the Inn she visited with Prana, just in case there’s something there. Jadzia is eager to deal with whatever the Swarm is, though I was forced to crush her dreams by pointing out it could be a force of good, protecting something from the Shadow Dancers, but we’ll leave that for when we get to it. There will, of course, be a fight against the Song of Entropy eventually, so she’ll get to have some fun then if not before. And even if the Swarm is good, we ought to search around down there, which should be exciting as well.

                    [Cloven hoof mark]


                    Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                    (Whispered in Rezean in the stables of the inn known as “The Nest”)

                    “Good morning, Salkhi. This is indeed a fine establishment, is it not? Well… yes, in truth I spent most of last night next door, rather than in the room I am meant to share with my Starlight and my Sunflower. But still… the Nest seems a fine place, and I look forward to enjoying its hospitality until our current investigation has concluded.

                    “It is indeed a glorious morning, is it not?

                    “No, Salkhi, I know that you do not understand why we are here. You see, we are searching for Zane Nazzari, the sister of William Nazzari, whom we met in the town of Lumina. Zane is a member of the Sovereign’s Finest like us, and she disappeared a few days ago while looking into the death of a courtesan named Silvestra. Silvestra worked at the pillow house next door to the Nest… a place called the Rustling Cedars. But Zane was not actually investigating Silvestra’s death; rather she was looking into the disappearance of a man named Namon Zanira. That was not his true name, though… he was another investigator named Dill who had been tasked with uncovering the presence of a cult of shadow dancers in the vicinity.

                    “Oh, very well, I admit it. I do not understand the situation either. Are you happy now?

                    “I jest, Brave Heart. I am in a good mood this morning.

                    “You might recall that Jana and I stopped by the barracks of the Rose Knights the other day, and you were allowed to visit with Squall in the stables. We did this because Zane Nazzari is an acquaintance of my Snowfall, and I felt that she might have valuable insight to share with us. In the end she had much to say about Zane’s character, but not much solid information which might help us to find the young lady in question.

                    “Still, the encounter was not entirely without interest. Alexis and I have made plans to take some time off together following this assignment. We shall ride out into the countryside… we have not yet decided where. Perhaps we shall return to Lumina; perhaps we shall stay closer to Aldis. But wherever we go, we shall go together.

                    “Jana was able to catch up with Marcus as well. I confess that as I spend more time with the man, I am coming to like Marcus. He is a strong combatant and a valiant man with a wry wit that I appreciate. I am happy to discover that we can get along; as my Starlight loves him, it seems inevitable that we shall spend much time in each other’s company, and I would not wish to distress Jana by quarreling with him. On this occasion, he spoke at length about his efforts to learn to ride a griffon. As my clan used to raise such creatures, I had more than a few pearls of wisdom to share with him on the subject.

                    “In any event, we have taken rooms at the Nest for the duration of our investigation. We spent most of yesterday investigating the Rustling Cedars itself and interviewing its staff. I do not claim to comprehend every nuance of what we learned today; I leave such deliberations to the others.

                    “The Madame, Llorona, is a very alluring woman who is not afraid to use her sexuality to get what she wants from others. She too obviously knows more about this situation than she chooses to share, and the same could be said of many of her employees. My friends interviewed so many of them yesterday… their stories have begun to blur together in my mind. Though two residents of the house stand out as people who merit further attention: Prana, a courtesan who may well have been the last person to see both Dill and Zane… and Alliara, Llorona’s young adopted daughter, who seems to know much about what goes on in that house despite her youth and innocence.

                    “Our investigation of the house itself proved more profitable… there are passageways and rooms between the rooms of the Rustling Cedars, and it seems likely that Zane at least made use of these passages prior to her disappearance. There was some indication – gained through the use of arcana – that the shadow dancers had also discovered these secret rooms. Reference was made to secret chambers beneath the brothel, and to something called ‘the swarm.’ It is presumably some dark creature, which at the least sounds promising.

                    “Tanith recognized early on that these proceedings were beginning to wear on me, and took steps to provide me with… distractions. First, while Maria took the lead in questioning the brothel’s employees, my Sunflower unbound my hair and began stroking and combing it with her nimble fingers. And then, when our investigations were about to conclude for the night, she asked if I would like her to hire a woman… either for the two of us to share, or for me alone.

                    “I asked if she would hire me a man instead.

                    “She hired two men for me. And purchased a small jug of olive oil.

                    “It has been a long time since I have lain with a man. Aside from that one tryst with Ashlin – who, as a Laevvel, is not quite the same as a man, though he is as talented and enthusiastic as any lover could desire – the last time was the night of the massacre at Fallen River. I have dwelled upon the events of that night too much of late, and have no wish to revisit them now.

                    “I chose two strong, well-built gentlemen to share my evening. That they were attractive and well-endowed did not surprise me… the Rustling Cedars employs a flesh-crafter, after all. Desti was the taller of the two, with close-cropped hair and skin the color of stained mahogany. Tariq’s skin was closer to my own in tone, a burnished copper that shone in the lamplight when I had applied the oil.

                    “I asked them to show me how strong they were, and they responded with gusto. They gave me a word I could say if I ever wanted them to stop what they were doing. Bah! I have no need of such crutches in my dalliances… if anything they did had truly displeased me, I would simply have made them stop. They were strong, but they were not that strong.

                    “Still, they were strong enough for what I required of them last night. It was a pleasant fiction… to be taken by strong men, to relinquish my cares and responsibilities for a short time, and to be free of the need to be strong for others. I suppose a part of the allure was that I knew that I could regain my own strength and authority in the morning.

                    “In any case, the two of them exhausted me, and I fell asleep nestled between them, surrounded by their warmth, their masculine scents, and their firm bodies. I awoke early this morning, sore and content, bade the two of them a fond farewell, and ventured back to the Nest in search of my true loves. Last night was a very pleasant diversion, but I know where my heart truly belongs.

                    “My Sunflower and my Starlight were not yet up and about when I arrived, so I came to see to your needs, Dear One. But the Nest now seems to be astir, and I am certain that my companions will wish to continue with their investigations.”


                    Tanith’s Diary

                    We have a new case, and it is convoluted, so I will summarize it then give opinions.

                    We are investigating the disappearance of a spy/investigator named Dill Salvan and a member of the Finest named Zane Nazzari. Both vanished investigating a group of shadow dancers called the Song of Entropy around a Pillow House called the Rustling Cedars and an inn called The Nest. The former run by a Vata’An named Llorona, the latter run by a Rhy-Rat named Quintus. Almost everyone working at The Nest are rats or rat Rhyden. Dill had killed a Human Inamorata there who was actually a Shadow Dancer named Silvestra, who’s death Zane was supposedly investigating.

                    We set up rooms at The Nest, Ashlin under an assumed name, and then traveled to the Cedars. Llorona was extremely cooperative. She allowed us to privately interview all the employees, including her adoptive daughter, a Night Girl named Alliara. Officially, we were looking into Zane’s disappearance, but also the death of Silvestra. Llorona seemed to be eager to give us information, perhaps too much so; she does not believe we suspect her or any of her Inamorata, and we have not suggested we do.

                    Darcy and I tracked down a hidden series of tunnels inside the walls. Alliara had been back there, among others, and they only linked the rooms of the newer girls, Silvestra, Dawn Lux, and Melpomene. Perhaps to access the rooms? One room was empty. To access the Undercity? Also possible, Darcy heard something about a destroyed temple of the Song of Entropy from his Master. Based on a comment from Alliara we checked a conference room and found that a meeting had happened in there and there was a hidden way underground. We also found out a “swarm” is under The Nest. So many questions.

                    Prana, a local Inamorata, hooked up with both Dill and Zane. She went out of her way to seduce Zane at the very least. She was up front with us about this, but apparently not with the guard.

                    Similarly, it seemed lots of people, including Llorona and Liselle Wavecrest, were pointing us toward Rowan Foxglove, the current girlfriend of Anactoria Fairlight, a name that throws up all sorts of suspicion. Liselle admitted to Ashlin she was doing that in the interest of Annette DeVeers, who knew Aneshka Snowdown, Anactoria’s previous chew toy, disliked Rowan. She also told Ash “not to worry” about Zane, which was rather suspicious. She did not seem to know of Dill or the Song.

                    Heck it may be Llorona used to be involved with a Fairlight. It is apparently chic.

                    Actually, that’s an idea.

                    So my feelings.

                    I immediately liked Llorona. I suppose most people do. Less in a pining for her way, more in the sense that I try to cultivate an air of mystery and seduction. It’s interesting to see someone who is also accomplished with it. I have been studying her as much as anything. Unfortunately, I find it difficult to think she is totally uninvolved in Dill and Zane’s disappearance. Unless she has overstated her knowledge of her people, she had to know of the infiltration. When we play our hand, we will have to be very careful as that will change our reception there completely.

                    Unless I erase her memory, of course.

                    Prana knows a good bit, but I am not convinced she is holding back. My knee jerk is no. We know Alliara is holding back, which is worrying…who is she protecting. Dawn seems on the up and up, and Melpomene does not. I am eyeing her. I do not trust Liselle as far as I can throw her. Quintus I am not sure of. Rats must know what is going on underground.

                    I arranged for Jadzia to see a pair of Inamorata named Tariq and Desti. She had fun. Nothing in their interviews raised red flags, so hopefully they are fine.

                    Maria did a really good job with interviews. She wanted to this time, and she held up well. And Darcy and I worked together as well as we ever do.

                    More soon, hopefully.

                    End Session XXXIV

                    Oh man is that complex enough for you? I’ll send the handout for the session next week during the off week; most people got epilogues to Riders on the Storm but Ash also got a briefing they wound up giving the group.

                    Memory jogs, Alex Boegiboe was an identity used by Ash in the first story, The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship. Dawn Lux the Vata’Sha was also Darcy’s hook up at the end of the story. William Nazzari, Zane’s brother, was in The Bard’s Tale as the leader of the Sentinels of Lumina. Dulcinea showed up the first time in Shadow Show and played a small role in Black Sails.

                    I will see folks next week. Comments and Questions welcome.
                    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                    HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      It’s an off week, but I wanted to post the handout between the last story and this one.

                      The first several notes everyone received, a sort of epilogue of what happened to those involved in Riders on the Storm. Then we check in on Jana and Jadzia’s partners, only they got that paragraphs, and finally, Ashlin’s handout. Enjoy.

                      --

                      Lao and Shang of Clan Kamala
                      Lao and Shang, over the next few days seem to be getting along…sort of. Their fights are not loud, and Lao has not set anything on fire. However, after their relief at their sister being okay, they seemed to get a little more distant. Though not spitting insults and admitting they care seems to be a good step. And it seems they will at least be staying in touch.

                      Kalliyan of Clan Ifalla
                      Kalliyan is happy to have helped destroy the Storm-Eater. She spends some off the clock time with Jarim before returning to her Clan and expresses the hope of working with Jadzia more soon.

                      Jarim of Clan Rihan
                      Jarim is held up as a hero by her Clan, and has gotten much of the respect she has desired. She is very much indebted to the group and promises her support when called.

                      Terra of Clan Winborn
                      While devastated by the loss of her Clan, Terra has proved that she will not be bowed by the loss of her parents. By the time you leave, she holds her head high again.

                      Opal
                      By the time the celebrations start, Opal is gone. She promises she will call you when the time is nigh and warns you to be ready. “This will test you”


                      Marcus Wynn and Alexis Winter
                      Marcus continues working with the Rose Knights. While he does not yet have full trust, he has been treated well. Saoirse and Alexis have taken him under their wing. While they had been away on a mission they have recently returned as of the new story, and have been in town a few days.


                      Your Briefing

                      One month ago, an agent named Dill Salvan was sent to investigate an underground group of Shadow Dancers called the Song of Entropy. Dill tracked them to a Pillow House called Rustling Cedars. He stayed at a neighboring hotel called The Nest, and went undercover as a traveling trader with an interest in Aldis city girls. Initially, Dill had no luck finding anything until he discovered one of the girls was actually a Shadow Dancer named Silvestra. There was a confrontation, and Silvestra was killed. However, evidence in her room suggested she was meeting more Dancers there, and a meeting had recently taken place. It may even become a base, and corruption of other Inamorata was the plan. However, Dill had to lay low as the city guard investigated. He reported the house was still used, and possibly had secret rooms or an underground area, just as he found evidence in The Nest, though he managed to get the innkeeper, Quintus to cooperate. Quintus clued him into some shadowy movements that had been reported to him. However, soon after, Dill vanished.

                      A second operative was dispatched to investigate his death who was a member of Sovereign’s Finest named Zane Nazzari. While Dill is a master of disguise and accents, Zane is a deadly whirlwind of knives as well as investigator. Zane was warned not to approach Quintus as while we don’t think he is subverted, it seemed safest in case he was watched. Also to find Dill’s notes, as they were likely hidden and coded. Zane was investigating undercover as well, however, after arriving at the Nest and visiting Rustling Cedars once, she disappeared.

                      This time, we want to dispatch an entire team. Officially, you are investigating the disappearance of Zane Nazzari of the Finest. How much you wish to bring them into it is up to you.

                      The Rustling Cedars is a Pillow House in the Middle Ward. It has a good reputation, and only the Song of Entropy’s interest brings any suspicion to it. Everything in terms of records has been checked out. It is run by Llorona, a Vata’An woman who is an Adept but has no negative record.

                      The Nest is an inn run by Rhy-Rats and their rat ken. The whole place being run by rats is something of a draw itself, as people are often amused by, say, seeing groups of rats carrying chairs or cutlery around. Quintus has nothing suspicious known about him, but Dill did vanish after entrusting him with information.

                      Dill Salvan is a Human Agent. He is known to be a master of disguise and is good and pretending to be from elsewhere. His record is impeccable, and he is absolutely trusted. He vanished despite being very good in dangerous situations and we fear his mind was read, as he lacked Psychic Shield. Complicating your search is Dill is such a master of disguise and so given to them no one knows what he actually looks like. He was staying under the name “Namon Zanira.” His notes may help, if you can find them.

                      Zane Nazzari is a Human Sentinel from Lumina who became a member of Sovereign’s Finest and an Agent due to her excellent survival skills. She is less tightly trusted as her Sentinel training lead her to apply lethal force quickly, and she sometimes chafes against detailed orders. She has not yet crossed a line, but would not have been sent were it not for her Finest status. Her Brother is William Nazzari, the current leader of the Sentinels.

                      Quintus is a Rhy-Rat who runs The Nest. One of several Rhy-Rats there, he is an excellent Animist who can organize and command the rats with considerable skill. And keep them out of the guest’s cheese.

                      Liselle Wavecrest is a Human Bard who sometimes plays both at the Cedars and Nest. It is known she had connection to Dill and Zane. She is not exclusive to this area but often visits. Liselle is a woman with a lot of connections, including being the half-sister, or wife, or completely unrelated to and likes telling stories about the privateer Tamara Wavecrest. She is known to be in the organization of Annette DeVeers.

                      Llorona runs the Cedars and is a skilled Inamorata Adept. A Vata’An, she is a powerful psychic and protective of her girls. She was born in Aldis City and sometimes provides girls to parties. She is not completely in the clear, however. Do not be alone with her.

                      Prana is a Human and the girl that spent time with Zane and was one who spent time with Dill. Prana is also from Aldis City but spent several years at sea in the South. Nothing specific connects her to these dangerous Shadow Dancers, but approach with caution.

                      Alliara is a Night Girl who was adopted by Llorona and lives at the Cedars, though she is obviously not an Inamorata herself. She does favors there and for the Nest, such as shopping and even some repairs. She sees a lot outside private scenes and may be worth approaching. Dill kept her out for her safety, and Zane was considering approaching her but it is unknown if she did.

                      Silvera was a Human Shadow Dancer who worked as an Inamorata. She was killed in a conflict with Dill.

                      Good Luck

                      --

                      Back to regular journals next Friday.

                      Also, our sister game Big Damn Heroes is up and running. Check it out Here. Remember Tríona, the Sea Folk who met Tanith in the short story? That is where she is from. It just kicked off so no is a good time to start reading.

                      Comments and Questions welcome.


                      Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                      HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        So glad that Quintus and the rhyrats are getting some love!

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          ^_^ We are having fun with the rhy-rats

                          Having technical difficulties, so did not post last journal. Will try to post soon.
                          Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 05-28-2019, 02:37 AM.
                          Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                          HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Soooooooo…had some technical difficulties and missed last week’s update. So sorry. Fortunately, this off week I had nothing anyway so here is the journal that should have gone up a week ago. Enjoy.

                            Session XXXV

                            Pillow Fort Part II

                            Ashlin’s Reports

                            Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 30 Gaeleth

                            Well, mystery the first is solved – well, to a lesser or greater extent, depending on how much we decide to trust the number one criminal mastermind of my heart. Zane is found! As it turns out, Liselle was pretty sure she was okay because she, herself, as an adorable gray kitty cat, led Zane to one of Annette’s safehouses. Scrying and Object Reading are certianly useful tools. We don’t have all the details ironed out, but I had a nice sit down with Annette, and she’s going to try and convince Zane to meet with me, with my assurance that I won’t try to drag her home. She hoped that her abrupt disappearance would bring more Finest to look into things, as she did feel there was a ‘darkness’ there at the inn/pillow house, so I’m hoping to get more from her about that, and also see if I can’t get some points in there about coming home. It seems that while she is really, really good at the whole assassination thing, it’s been eating at her soul – Annette has plans to train her up in cat burglary. Which is a better alternative than killing people, especially if that’s unsettling her. We’ll see how that conversation goes though.

                            I got a little bit of insight into the whole ‘blame everything on Rowan’ deal that’s been going on. She stormed in on my meeting with Annette, near knocking the door down. Minerva handed her ass to her though, leaving her in a much less powerful conversational position. Anyway, did you know that sound magic is super convenient for eavesdropping? I didn’t even have to duck down to the bar for a glass to listen through the wall. It seems the Fairlights are being blackmailed by the Shadow Broker that I mentioned last time, and Rowan was all fired up that Annette was said Shadow Broker. Putting that together with outside reports of Rowan’s interactions with Llorona, and I’ve come to the conclusion that she was probably slinging similar accusations over at the Cedars. On a far more interesting note, Minerva apparently has a thing for Rowan, or so Annis says, so if we can extricate her from the Fairlight’s clutches, Minerva’ll, like, owe us a beer or something.

                            Speaking of those outside reports, I had a fun time early in the morning. I’d intended to doing a little bit of a shakedown of Quintus – since the last thing we heard about from Dill was getting some info from Quintus, it seemed best not to approach him directly. Problem was, he’s a rat. As in, a lil fella. His bedroom door was, well, small. Too small for me to fit in. So I settled in for a stake out, which produced fruit very quickly – as soon as he woke up, he went out for a bit of fresh air. I scurried up to the roof above him, and played the ‘scary voice from above’ gambit. It worked pretty well as far as the shake down went, but as far as information… well, we learned he’s probably not knowingly working for the baddies of any sort.

                            He even tried to warn me away from the thing under the inn, until he realized that if I was so scary, I was probably bad, and therefore should be sent to face the thing under the inn. He didn’t tell me anything about what was under the inn (other than, lets see, lots of cake, persimmons, a party, wine, and persimmon wine) but when Darcy talked to him later, since we’d determined that he was probably safe, Quintus let him know there was a Rat King under the inn, which is pretty bad. We managed to talk Jadzia out of storming the basement, exactly what Quintus expected the ‘big folks’ to do, at least until after we dealt with the Shadow Dancers that were currently being foiled by the existence of the Rat King.

                            Back to the morning, I also overheard Alliara reporting to Quintus – the Nest and the Cedars seem to have a sharing of information pact as far as dangers in the neighborhood go. That did reignite suspicion (in me at least) that he might have slipped a word or two about Dill/Namon to Alliara and therefore Llorona and not considered it telling anyone else about him, which he assured the scary evil voice in the darkness he had not done. Aside from that worry, I also learned that there was a Lar’tyan bounty hunter that had been poking around the Cedars – not staying at the Nest though.

                            That bounty hunter proved to be our old friend Tanvi. We figured that out when Llorona was in a righteous… not quite fury, but somewhat significant anger, about the fact she had temporarily kidnapped one of Llorona’s boys, Tariq. According to Tariq, Tanvi was looking for an inamorata trained by a sorcerous assassin. When they tracked the lady down herself, she told the others that she was tracking a group of Shadow Dancers, some of which came from Lar’tya. She was following a vision that said one of them was an inamorata and there was something about the vault under the Cedars, which is inaccessible, as far as she was able to find, from other parts of the under city. She tried to sneak in from the Cedars, but Prana caught her the first time, and exhorted her for candy and sweet pastries. The second time, all the eyes in all the portraits turned blue, and followed her. We promised to call her in when we went after the Shadow Dancers, to help make sure she fulfilled her contract to the letter this time, an easy promise to make, though I think Jadzia balked at the idea that we might have owed it to her, considering the last encounter.

                            Alright, so the bad news – looking into Dill’s disappearance is a lot harder without an actual disappearance to look into, seeing as Zane’s not actually disappeared. Of course, that’s all still under wraps, and we have some hope that stopping the Shadow Dancers might bring some light to Dill’s situation. Clues are few on the ground though, aside from that. To that end, the others decided to poke the hornet’s nest, while I was running about talking to Annette and her people, and confronted Llorona.

                            That went… I dunno, she’s creepy, and continued that streak. She did know that Sylvestra was/had been a Shadow Dancers but was trying to… mold her away from them. Sylvestra had promised that she would not bring any sorcery into Llorona’s establishment. When she broke that promise for the meeting Tanith Object Read, Llorona apparently trapped her in her own nightmares for, you know, a few days. Definitely sorcery, if Sylvestra didn’t consent, and before I met any of Llorona’s girls, I would have said of course she didn’t consent, but now, well, who knows? Basically, while she gave enough of a story to legitimize the situation as we knew it, it certainly wasn’t enough for me at least, and I think the others, to feel entirely certain of her.

                            So, we know where Zane is (technically the others talked to Morgan Sturbridge, a friend of Zane’s from Lumina, and she confirmed that Zane was alright, as she had visited the night before) and we always knew who killed Sylvestra. We know what’s under the Nest, and we’ll deal with it once we’ve handled the Song of Entropy. That means we have some spelunking to do to find the Shadow Dancers. Alternately, we deal with the Rat King, and try and make sure the Song of Entropy know we have, and think we’ve left, and ambush them. Dill’s whereabouts and health is still up in the air, but like I said, we don’t have a lot there, and hopefully we’ll get something form dealing with the Shadow Dancers. Maybe we should Object Read some more things, like Sylvestra’s room itself...

                            [Cloven hoof mark]


                            Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                            (Whispered in Rezean in the stables of the inn known as “The Nest”)

                            “Yes, Salkhi, our investigation proceeds nicely… or so the others tell me. Many of the nuances of the situation continue to elude me. I must simply thank the Primordials that I have good friends who are more capable than I when it comes to matters of investigative acuity.

                            “It now seems likely that Zane Nazzari lives, based on information gleaned from various sources. Ashlin interrogated the rhy-rat Quintus from the shadows early this morning and learned enough to feel confident that Quintus himself is relatively innocent in this matter. Between hints that Quintus dropped during this interrogation and a conversation Darcy had with our host afterward, we also learned that the rhy-rats of the Nest are doing their part to contain a monstrous creature in the undercity beneath the inn… a foul conglomeration of vermin known as a Rat King.

                            “Using arcana, my Sunflower looked into the past to see what happened to Zane at the inn which was her last known location. Tanith saw a vision of Zane being led from the room – leaving Prana asleep and none the wiser – by a cat with eerily familiar eyes. It did not take my friends long to realize that the bard known as Liselle Wavecrest was a shape-changer. Ashlin spoke with her alone, and she assured my friend that Zane was safe… and that she was under the protection of the contemptible Annette DeVeers.

                            “I really do not like that woman.

                            “In any case, the rest of us were following up on another lead. My Snowfall had contacted me earlier that day to let me know that there was another who might know more about Zane Nazzari than she did: none other than Morgan Sturbridge, who had visited our offices a day or two previously. Morgan is the sister of Maggie Sturbridge, the mayor of Lumina, and was known to be a great friend of Zane’s.

                            “It did not take us long to track her down. She was reluctant to speak with us, but eventually we convinced her that we had Zane’s best interests at heart, and her concern for her friend won out. She told us that while Zane was exceptionally skilled at the arts of ambush and assassination, she lacked the stomach for the work and longed to leave that life behind. Rather than finish her current mission and explain this set of circumstances to her superiors, she has elected to tie up more of the city’s resources by staging her own disappearance so that she can become a common thief.

                            “Yes, Salkhi, I do know that this is what she intends. She has pledged herself to Annette DeVeers, who, it seems, has no qualms about stealing talent from those who would serve the good of the people to increase her own wealth and standing. That such an amoral creature has set her sights upon my Starlight turns my stomach.

                            “I really do not like that woman.

                            “With the matter of Zane’s safety… well, not precisely resolved but at least made less urgent, we decided to pursue the trail of the Shadow Dancers. It seemed obvious that Llorona had lied to us when she told us about Silvestra’s disappearance. What? Oh, yes… Silvestra was one of the Shadow Dancers. The first agent – the one named Dill – killed her when he uncovered her secret. As Llorona claimed to know all of her employees very well and seemed remarkably perceptive, it seemed impossible that she could be ignorant of such a fact… which meant that she had deceived us when we had questioned her earlier.

                            “Upon further questioning, Llorona informed us that she had indeed divined Silvestra’s secret, but had harbored hopes of redeeming the other woman… possibly through her friendship with Llorona’s daughter Alliara. Whether this stated intention was genuine or not is debatable.

                            “Llorona is very good at redirecting conversations. For example, while we were questioning her, she insisted that we investigate the kidnapping of one of her employees… none other than Tariq, with whom I had spent the previous evening. He had been taken by the Lar’tyan bounty hunter named Tanvi and questioned harshly. Llorona seemed to know that I have a soft spot for the handsome youth, and would want to visit vengeance upon the one who had wronged him. I suggested to the others that we speak with Tariq, because we obviously weren’t going to get any more useful information out of Llorona, we needed to speak with Tanvi anyway, and it could not hurt to generate a bit of goodwill with the Rustling Cedars.

                            “Tanith raised an eyebrow at me when I expressed this opinion. I was quick to reassure her that my feelings were not wandering. The time I spent with Tariq and Desti was exercise; a most enjoyable workout. Tanith, Jana, and Alexis are my heart… my home.

                            “Tariq himself seemed well enough when we spoke with him. Tanvi had not actually harmed him, you understand… just taken him from the street and bound him and forced him to answer her questions. He was able to point us toward her current location, and a short time later we were speaking with the Lar’tyan herself. Her arrogance was as infuriating as ever… though aside from that it did not seem as though we were working at cross purposes. She was attempting to access the undercity directly beneath the Cedars and the Nest… the area purportedly containing the Rat King, in other words, and the area to which the Shadow Dancers had been seeking access.

                            “Her investigations had thus far proven fruitless, however… to all appearances that area is completely inaccessible without breaking down a wall. She has suggested that we pool our efforts. In truth, she has nearly demanded that we help her, insisting that we owe her a favor for allowing Pisha to go free during our last encounter. Though I remember her bandying the word ‘favor’ about at the time, it was clear to all that she had little choice in that matter, and I do not appreciate her attempting to leverage her act of self-preservation against us now.

                            “Still, we do need to find out what is down there. We need to put an end to the matter of the Shadow Dancers once and for all. And if Tanvi can help us achieve those ends and put this whole complicated tangle of intrigues behind us, then I am willing to work with her.

                            “For now.”


                            Tanith’s Diary

                            We have made some headway in our investigation. However, Zane Nazzari’s disappearance has proven to be a major distraction of time and resources.

                            Zane Nazzari is alive. She left her post, hoping her disappearance would be assumed to be dead at the hands of the Song of Entropy. She was smuggled out by agents of Annette DeVeers, a name I am growing tired of. Her Shapeshifter, Liselle Wavecrest, lead her away as a cat after she seduced and drugged Prana as a patsy (though she evidently believed she was connected). Her willingness to do this has led us to chasing all sorts of false leads. Ashlin seems more sympathetic, so I am having them handle it since I am irritated by it. Ash apparently had something of an adventure with their investigation, meeting Liselle then Annette, and having the meeting interrupted by Rowan Foxglove, who was apparently trounced by Annette’s thug Minerva, who is quite possibly the most terrifying and huge Vata’Sha I have ever seen. She might be larger than Darcy, but I am not sure.

                            Rowan seems to believe that this Shadow Broker figure is either Llorona or Annette, and her crusade seems to be interfering a bit in our investigation. I will need to talk to Rowan about this.

                            Okay, the actual investigation.

                            Llorona knew Silvestra was a Shadow Dancer. She claimed she was trying to redeem her, thus told no one, and kept quiet out of respect for her memory. She made a convincing argument. She even explained the meeting, saying she was not present when it occurred, but Alliara told her, and she wound up punishing Silvestra intensely.

                            It looks like all roads lead to the Undercity. It seems a Rat King lies under The Nest, which the Shadow Dancers seem averse to (for good reasons.) Tanvi, who also has been looking into this from another direction, found an underground tunnel on the opposite side of the Cedars from the Nest, but she has not found a way to the space under the Nest. Whatever the Song of Entropy seek, it is below ground.

                            My opinions, well, as noted, I am rather incensed with Zane. Her selfishness has caused a significant distraction. Still…I can be forgiving, and I had Ash do this exactly because I am upset. I won’t give in to my anger.

                            Llorona intrigues me. Not sexually, well, mostly not sexually, but her mastery of turn of phrase and ability to command respect. Imagine if I had her charisma in my line of work! And for this reason I must maintain my guard with her. No doubt she can sense it. I just hope she assumes my interest and admiration is purely carnal, as that would make her less able to play on why she actually intrigues me.

                            Unless she is a sorceress who really is reading our minds and controlling all the Inamorata in the Cedars. Let’s…really hope that is not the case.

                            Apparently Tanvi has been at least one thorn in her side, and we have brought her over to our camp. She was hired to look into the original member of the group, who is Lar’tyan. She was hired to kill or capture her, and a vision led her to the Cedars. She wound up kidnapping Tariq (despite her protestations she did not hold him against his will because he never asked to leave) but had no luck with checking out the Inamorata, but had done some helpful exploration which will act as a starting point for us.

                            So…despite distractions from Zane, things are moving. I suspect we will be underground soon. Ah well, the interrogating beautiful women part has been fun while it lasted…

                            End Session XXXV

                            The only problem with Jadzia’s journal is it is really hard to tell how she feels about Annette DeVeers.

                            So the journals for Big Damn Heroes are finally up, you should check them out and double your Blue Rose excitement. Liselle Wavecrest and Rowan Foxglove first appeared in their opening story Roamers, Tramps and Thieves. So check it out.

                            Sorry I fell behind. Tech problems are no fun. Next week we should be back on schedule with further investigations. Comments and Questions welcome.
                            Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 05-30-2019, 02:16 AM.
                            Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                            HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              The investigation moves into the tunnels of the undercity. There a fate is discovered. Meanwhile with the help of a missing woman pieces fall into place as to what is going on.

                              Session XXXVI

                              Pillow Fort Part III

                              Ashlin’s Reports

                              Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 1 Braneth

                              Well, now that Tavia has been well and truly distracted, I suppose I can’t put off making an official report. It’s not like it’s unexpected or anything – it was a distant hope that Dill was merely waylaid or otherwise kept from reporting. But we have now found his body, and seen, via Tanith’s Object Reading, his last moments – valorous ones, as might be expected.

                              He was down underneath the city, not below either the Nest or the Cedars, but the nearby area that Tanvi had found. We actually managed to retrace most of his last day, between everything we did. We found, again from Tanith’s Object Reading, that he had impersonated Rowan, in order to get a meeting with Sylvestra, and ambushed her pretty handily from that. I spoke with Zane, and she gave me Dill’s last report – he had found that the Shadow Dancers were looking for two of the three parts of the key to their training room in the fallen Cult of Entropy tower. They had one, knew another was under the Inn, and their visions had told them another was ‘in the area’. Dill somehow ascertained where that last one was, and went below to find it.

                              He left off where it was in his notes, as he was afraid he’d been followed. As it turns out, he had been. We were following Tanvi’s lead, actually, exploring where she had and beyond, since we were able to take down the chaos beast handily. We found the floor caved in a short way beyond, and Tanith’s visions showed her a solitary man climbing down a handy rope, so we followed that to find three very dead Shadow Dancers, and the small pieces that were all that was left of Dill. He’d had a fondness for explosive sha crystals, apparently, and set himself off once he got captured.

                              He had told the Shadow Dancers where the key piece he found was, however, before he did so, by way of taunting them a little, well deserved, I think. Plus, it means we were able to find it, tucked away under the bridge where the chaos beast had been. It was also trapped with another one of his crystals, not to mention fastened to the underside of the bridge, but Maria was able to airwalk over there, and carefully extract the key. Then Tanith disarmed the explosive, which we are now carrying (oh boy) in the hopes it will be useful against the Rat King, if we can convince Quintus that it’s not just oxygen deprivation that makes us want to go down and deal with the thing.

                              So, we have the third part of the key – well, the vault has the third part of the key. So regardless of how anything else plays out we have 1) found Zane, 2) found Dill, and 3) foiled the Shadow Dancers’ plans. Now of course, we’d like to foil the Shadow Dancers. A lot of people would like to foil the Shadow Dancers. Tanvi, of course, has her mission, and as it turns out, Rowan has an interest in them as well.

                              We looked in on her after we saw that Dill had taken her face for his ambush, wanting to know how involved she was (and, to be completely honest, hoping that maybe he was still using her face). ‘How involved’ was pretty much not at all, though she was there for similar purposes. She was looking into the murder of her brother by one Marisa, who’d had some kind of sorcerous, possibly Shadow Dancer-y powers. Sylvestra had been ‘helping’ her gather info, though Polaris was pretty sure the inamorata had been jerking her along, and we were even more sure, given… things. Jadzia is all for her coming along with, whenever we come up with a plan to deal with the Shadow Dancers, which I’m fine with as long as Anactoria stays far away. The way the Fairlight was playing with her toy was disconcerting, and I only got it over the mind link.

                              Someone I’m much less copacetic with including is Darcy’s cousin, Saffron. She showed up at the Cedars, ostensibly to show Camilla around, but as it turns out, it was because Cassilda Hyades (Camilla’s sister) had a vision of a three-part key that led to treasure somewhere in the area. We ran into her again through the window that was between the Cedars’ underground bit, and the underground bit Tanvi had found. She almost got caught too, by a trio of voices that also showed up in Tanith’s vision of the Shadow Dancer conference. She agreed to make herself scarce after that, only to get caught by Dawn and Melpomene, who were determined to lock her into a room until we could come question the suspicious personage. Thankfully, this meant she was out of the action while we fought the chaos beat and found Dill, though she did manage to escape in time to meet us as we were coming out.

                              On a wild change of subject to the embarrassing honesty part of the report – is it bad that I was a little disappointed it didn’t turn out to be Llorona who killed Dill? The lady gives me a bad feeling in my jellies, like I just know she is at best skirting the edge of what’s acceptable, and at worst using her silver tongue to cover over sorcery. I mean, she looked me – well, us – well, them, straight in the eyes and said that Sylvestra agreed to be trapped in her own nightmares for days on end. And maybe she said those words, maybe even out loud. But I have difficulty believing they weren’t coerced. Even the Fairlights don’t trust her. Polaris gave the others some dirt on her, telling them to drop references to the Red House in Garnet. It apparently has something to do with something that might lead to an arrest, though not sorcery or treason. Depending on how things go down as we finish up this investigation, I might have to start an investigation of my own…

                              While I’m into stuff I wouldn’t put in an official report if I didn’t trust my supervisor explicitly, I did make contact with Zane. That’s not the bit I wouldn’t put in a report, that’s kinda a necessary bit, but I would probably leave it at that. The poor girl is traumatized, feels numb and like she has cut out her own soul with all the killing she’s been doing. I tried to get her to focus on getting warm again, insisting she was scarred, not soulless. Hopefully I got through a little. I’m going to leave her with Annette, though she did agree to stay in touch, especially if she gets a hint of anything nefarious – she seems to feel safe with her crew, and understood, so it seems like a good place. Plus, she feels like she owes Annette, and I’m pretty sure Annette feels that way too. Still, Annette takes care of her people. She even agreed to get Zane some Fleshcrafting work so that once her debt is paid, Zane could go back to Lumina, which is where she really feels safe. I’m going to see if I can’t work out a way for her to come back as her own self, to her own family, which I suppose will start with talking to her brother. It will be a shame to have a reason to visit Lumina...

                              [Cloven hoof mark]


                              Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                              (Whispered in Rezean in the stables of the inn known as “The Nest”)

                              “The idioms of the Aldin language make absolutely no sense, Salkhi… how could the number of shoes worn or possessed by an individual possibly be indicative of that person’s moral fiber? And even if it did, why should the number two signify the highest level of ethical purity? Surely it must be the most common number of shoes for a human to own… why would anyone possibly need more than two shoes? And what of horses and rhy-horses, eh? Wearing only two shoes would be very uncomfortable for them, regardless of their decency.

                              “I digress. Thankfully, I believe this assignment is nearly complete. Oh, the job has had its pleasant aspects… the Nest is a comfortable and welcoming inn, and the visceral attractions of the Rustling Cedars are undeniable, and yet… I crave more straightforward challenges. Thankfully, it seems as though such diversions may soon present themselves.

                              “The matter of Zane Nazzari is closed. Ashlin spoke with her, and confirmed that she is alive, and that she was indeed acting under her own power, without coercion, when she opted to fake her own death and leave the employ of the Sovereign’s Finest. I fear that I may have been a bit harsh in my earlier assessment of her actions… she displays signs of the soldier’s heart, which may claim even the boldest and mightiest of warriors in time. While I still believe that it would have been both more honorable and simpler to be honest with her superiors about her reasons for leaving this life, those with wounded spirits often act irrationally through no fault of their own. As one who has damaged her own soul through service to a greater good, she is to be pitied and aided rather than scorned.

                              “Ashlin learned much from Zane during her visit, and careful application of arcana by my Sunflower revealed more. The agent known as Dill had uncovered the plans of a group of Shadow Dancers; that much we knew already. They intended to locate and open an ancient temple venerated by their kind, which was rumored to hold significant sorcerous power. In order to open this temple, they need a key which was long ago divided into three parts. The shadow dancers hold one part of the key already. Another was reputed to be located in the Rat King’s territory. All we knew of the third was that it was somewhere in the undercity in the general area of the Rustling Cedars.

                              “The group of us and Tanvi ventured into the undercity together to seek out the remaining pieces of the key. I regret that we could not bring you along Salkhi, but you would not have enjoyed the tight quarters of the undercity in any case… it was not built with horses in mind. Along the way we encountered Darcy’s cousin Saffron, who was investigating the area beneath the Rustling Cedars in search of treasure… or so she claimed. We saw her through a narrow window in one of the walls, and Darcy had her return to the surface through the Cedars and then join us, reasoning that he would rather have his cousin where he could keep an eye on her.

                              “We also encountered a chaos beast, which confronted us on a bridge near a subterranean waterfall. Though the beast was fierce it was no match for our combined prowess, and we dealt with it in short order, sending it toppling into the churning waters below.

                              “Further exploration revealed the site of a large magical explosion surrounded by several bodies. We quickly deduced what had happened… Dill had been accosted by several shadow dancers, and knowing that he had little chance of defeating them, he made the ultimate sacrifice and detonated a shas crystal. He gave his own life to keep them from getting the location of the piece of the key he had uncovered through torture.

                              “My Sunflower’s arcana revealed that Dill had hidden the key beneath the very bridge upon which we had defeated the chaos beast. He had also planted another explosive shas crystal there, in such a way that it would explode if anyone tried to recover the key. Through their combined magical abilities, Tanith and Maria were able to retrieve the key and the shas crystal without triggering an explosion. Such an artifact could prove most useful in the trials ahead…

                              “With a portion of the key in hand, it seemed prudent to leave the undercity and deliver it to the vault. This should keep that portion out of the shadow dancers’ hands, and if even one piece of the key remains safe they will be unable to open the Temple they seek. As I am certain you remember, along the way we once more encountered Tavia. Though she is still off-putting and insane, her recovery seems to be going well. The others profess some hope that she will eventually come out from under Melisandre’s shadow and find herself. Though I harbor private doubts, I hope they are correct in this.

                              “But now the time has come for us to descend once more into the undercity, seeking out the lair of the Rat King this time. Wish me well in the battle to come, Dear One, and hope that this provides a swift resolution to this complicated assignment.”


                              Tanith’s Diary

                              We are turning the corner on our current case. Even with that, I can’t wait to get back to the table. I am not a detective or Investigator.

                              That said, I suppose Arcana steps in where talents fail. This case would have been a lot more difficult without my visionary aptitudes. Truthfully I am expanding my Arcana well beyond simple healing. I disarmed a bomb from a safe distance by shaping my will into causing it to deactivate at a distance. So I suppose missions like this allow me to cultivate other abilities.

                              So the case…it appears there is a three part key Dill aka Namon discovered, which the Dancers want to use to enter a vault deep below. The Nest and the Cedars sit on top of where it once was, and there are all sorts of ruins down there. Areas of it are visible but inaccessible due to the way the walls fell, making it something of a maze, if thankfully a linear one. We managed to find where Dill had his last stand and took three dancers out with him. I saw to it they were buried properly, and my vision allowed us to retrieve the first key, with the help of Tanvi with us. Maria herself actually flew under a bridge and retrieved it without setting off a bomb.

                              The situation with Zane Nazzari was dealt with by Ashlin.

                              We find ourselves in the complicated situation that Llorona is up to no good but appears to be innocent of any wrongdoing here. As suspicious as I am of the Fairlights, Polaris at least has shown intense loyalty to Aldis in the past, including the recent conflict with Kern. I don’t trust her further than I can throw her, but I don’t see her doing more harm than, say, Annette DeVeers. Llorona seems entirely more heartless, and while less dangerous in battle she is dangerous in other ways. But this is not Jarzon I cannot arrest her because I dislike how she does her business. While I am not convinced she is wholly innocent, I doubt we will get anything to stick to her.

                              There are more people involved than I would prefer, Anactoria Fairlight’s chew toy Rowan Foxglove is hunting one of the vampires, and Saffron Darcy’s cousin along with Camilla Hyades stumbled in as well as Tanvi, not to mention the whole wacked out conspiracy Annette has going with Zane. That’s more loose cannons and more chance for collateral damage. Heck, even Tavia showed up while we were taking the key piece to the castle. She was harmless if unnerving. And in the background there is this whole Shadow Broker thing. What is that even about?

                              I am so glad I have such a good team. Without Ash we would not have figured out half of this, and without Jana the battle with the Chaos Beast would probably have been more dangerous. And of course, the others have been helpful as well. I am a very fortunate woman.

                              I confess being worried about my dear Cassilda. Her secrets weigh heavy, and she has visions of her family’s doom. She was my best friend and confidant at Academy, as well as one of the three people I have been with the most along with Jadzia and Jana. I will protect her and her family. I need to meet with her, have dinner, talk to her. She needs to come to me when these things happen. We are best friends. She should trust me. I have never betrayed her, even if time away from school has distanced us a bit.

                              I can’t let these distractions get in the way though. I am kind of faking it as is. We will get through all this and I will talk to Cassilda. Thank goodness for my team.

                              End Session XXXVI

                              The Chaos Beast was beefed up, but even so it fell like a house of cards. Getting the bomb, and the key fragment, let Maria and Tanith show off their magic a bit, which was nice.

                              But we finally had some combat. It looks like this story will be winding up next session. Join us won’t you? Comments and Questions welcome.
                              Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                              HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Beneath the Nest, a showdown between good and evil. Also just so many rats.

                                Note Tanith’s journal is a story taking place after the story is ended

                                Session XXXVII

                                Pillow Fort Part IV

                                Ashlin’s Reports

                                Report from Ash, decoded by Kait, sent 2 Braneth

                                Two out of three ain’t bad, right? I mean, in this case it’s more than sufficient, though a round one-hundred percent might have been nice. We have a decent idea where the third is… well, who it’s with. Maybe one day we’ll collect the whole set. For now though, the situation is defused, the baddies put down, and the city is safe again, at least from the most recent attack by Shadow Dancers.

                                After depositing Tavia back with her handlers, we headed over to the Nest. We were waylaid just outside by Camilla, who was a bit peeved at Tanith, both for the way she broke Cassilda’s heart and ‘abandoned’ her (dinner once a week and regular communication doesn’t quite feel like abandonment, but such is the way of things) and for the way she ‘interfered’ with Saffron’s adventuring. Apparently, our being there was the only thing that made it even remotely possible that Saffron was almost caught by a troupe of Shadow Dancers, and we had no right keeping a 17 year old from cutting her adventuring eyeteeth on a hidden Cult of Entropy stronghold all on her lonesome. We are, indeed, the worst.

                                That had Tanith a bit distracted (the Cassilda parts, no one was upset at their part in the other half of her complaint) but she powered through. Darcy made a big deal about assaulting the monster in the basement, hoping to draw out the Shadow Dancers once they learned the Rat King was taken out. It worked a little too well – we had just determined the Rat King’s position when Quintus let us know some unidentified lurkers had disappeared in the general vicinity of the trap door.

                                The building down there was of significant size. We’d gone through 2 of the 4 side passages at that time, and just poked our heads down the main passage of the central area when we got the call from Quintus. We had been following the sound of the Rat King down that way, and knew it was planning on an ambush, but we had been going to spring it, and just use fire walls to turn it into our own trap. But we didn’t want to fight Shadow Dancers at the same time, so we ducked back into the nearer of the two passages we had checked out to see if they would pass us by and spring the trap for us. It wasn’t the best for a fight if it came to it – a large pit, formerly used for human sacrifices, with a giant elephant-headed skeleton thing presiding over it – but we were hoping not to fight there, precisely.

                                Turns out, they were a little more canny than we’d hoped – we could hear them duck into a passage of the their own to hide until we engaged the Rat King. After a quick telepathic planning meeting, we moved to the other passage we’d checked, one that was just a wing of monk’s cells and an altar to the Exarchs. We hid in the short wings, and me and Tanith orchestrated a show of a fight, so I could amplify and modify it to sound more realistic. As expected, when they heard us fighting the Rat King, they came to join in.

                                The altar gave them pause, more out of interest than the revulsion I felt, so we wound up having to spring things a little early. They had a pair of Whisper darkfiends with them, but even so, it was a blink of an eye before they’d been dealt with. One almost got away, but the Rat King, performing its own counter ambush on the fighting interlopers to its domain, tied him up enough for Darcy to finish him off. He… really doesn’t care for Shadow Dancers. Not that I can blame him, but wishing them to get eaten alive by rats is certainly a thing.

                                Once they were dealt with, we sprang our originally intended trap. Darcy got swarmed almost immediately, but that let him drag the Rat King bodily over the line of lamp oil I had drawn earlier. He then shone forward with holy light, pushing it away from him, and since Maria had immediately lit the lamp oil on fire, they had no where to run but down the corridor towards all of us. I got them with another container of lamp oil, Jadzia got them with that explosive sha crystal we scavenged from Dill’s trap, and they were nearly decimated in an instant. Maria’s fire finished off the rest.

                                That left us free reign to explore the rest of the place, and get that second key piece I mentioned. The other side corridors had nothing much - a gymnasium and another collection of monk’s cells, this time with a meditation platform instead of an altar. The main corridor had a couple of side rooms as well – we only checked one, a music room, before we found the key, and then considered it more important to get it to safety than finish exploring. Especially considering who we met.

                                I say ‘met’. That’s not quite the right word. There were windows, down the main corridor, that led into other parts of the Undercity. Creepy red lighting too. Anyway, through one particular window, the one definitely not looking at a place under the Cedars, we could see Nyassa Hyades, as well as another, definitely living, cloaked woman. They tossed a couple verbal barbs out, clearly knew about or were associated with the Shadow Dancers, and Nyassa asked Tanith to tell Cassilda hi for her, but there wasn’t any serious interactions. Apparently the windows blocked psychic abilities, which makes me wanna go scavenge some for my, well, everything.

                                They left us be however, and we got the key from its position on a raised dais. That apparently wasn’t where the actual lock was, however, as we found a place under the Cedars that was much more obviously the right place for that. Anyway, the dais had a bunch of bones scattered about, so Tanith used her magic to grab it. It did set off an audible alarm, but seeing as we had dealt with any other mildly sentient thing in the complex, we were good there.

                                But then we got to the most interesting thing of the night – have you ever seen a rat army? Like, a full battalion of rats? With weapons? OK, to be fair, the entire battalion didn’t have knives strapped to their back, but, like, a dozen of them did. Quintus’ good steak knives, no less. I believe the plan was to rescue us by psychically throwing rat-knives straight at the Rat King and/or shadowy figures, which is, you absolutely must admit, ridiculously bad-ass.

                                Thankfully, they didn’t have to save us and we have secured 2/3s of the key to the Cult of Entropy’s sanctum in the Vault. We located Zane, and determined what happened to Dill. Which means we have successfully completed our mission. Now I just have to convince Will that murder-dealing isn’t the only way Zane can bring honor to their family, and figure out what exactly happened at the Red House in Garnet. Wish me luck!

                                [Cloven hoof mark]


                                Jadzia’s Horse Sense

                                (Whispered in Rezean beneath the trees of Lumina)

                                “Ahhh… it is pleasant, is it not, Salkhi, to relax in the perpetual twilight of this hamlet? Their recent troubles with the fae notwithstanding, there is something peaceful about this place. I am glad that my Snowfall thought to invite me to spend a few weeks with her here… though I will be glad to return to Aldis City as well. I have spent long enough away from my Sunflower and my Starlight. It is true that I speak with them nightly via our psychic link… but it is not the same.

                                “What is that, Dear One? You wish to hear of our battle against the Shadow Dancers and the Rat King again? I know that you regret not being present for the fight, but these constant requests for repeated accounts are becoming a nuisance.

                                “I jest, of course… it was a glorious battle, and I will never tire of relating it. I wish you could have joined us, but in those tight quarters beneath the inn it would have been impractical.

                                “Quintus was reluctant to let us into the undercity beneath the Nest, but Darcy was able to convince him eventually. Our plan was to deal first with the Rat King, and then return to the surface and celebrate our victory loudly and publicly. Then, once the Shadow Dancers were aware that the path to their precious key had been cleared, we would lie in wait for them and end their blasphemies once and for all.

                                “In the end it turned out to be unnecessary. We had only explored about half of the complex when we discovered the Rat King lying in wait for us. Luckily, the Shadow Dancers entered the undercity at about this point, prepared to spring a trap of their own. We turned their strategy against them and lured them into an alcove where they could be contained and dispatched.

                                “The Shadow Dancers were formidable foes, though their great speed and mobility availed them little in the tight confines of the tunnels. I began the fight using Dark Magmus’ club, but soon discovered that those same narrow passageways which hindered our enemies’ movement made such a weapon impractical. Eschewing the use of the dark god’s weapon, I instead drew my paired sabers and spun about, finishing those who had already been wounded by my companions.

                                “Once most of our foes had been dispatched, the last of them darted back out of the passage and toward the large central chamber of the complex. We heard him scream shortly thereafter, accompanied by the chittering of hundreds of rats… the Rat King had obviously claimed him as its own. I will not mourn his passing.

                                “The Rat King turned its attention to us after the Shadow Dancer was dead. We had prepared the passageway for the confrontation in advance, and placed a line of lamp oil across the corridor. When all of the rats had crossed the line, Maria used her arcana to ignite the lamp oil, trapping the rats in the hallway with us. Once their escape had been prevented, I activated the shas crystal we had recovered from under the bridge and tossed it into their midst. After it exploded, there were decidedly fewer rats in the hallway.

                                “We took up the struggle personally with gusto. Unfortunately, most of my friends were relegated to dispatching single rats with each attack. Maria had more luck with her arcana, and Darcy’s holy radiance was effective at keeping the creatures bottled up. I recognized that my swords would not be particularly effective, so I sheathed them and drew forth Magmus’ club once more. The flames it produced were remarkably effective at destroying the oil-soaked rats.

                                “It did not take long for us to dispatch the last vestiges of the Rat King. We were quite diligent in our duties; we all knew that even a single surviving rat could spread the foul sorcerous contagion to others of its kind… at which point the Rat King would live again. And so we made certain that we killed them all.

                                “We found the second fragment of the unholy key shortly after the battle. In truth, the fight was more fatiguing than I had thought it would be, perhaps due to my Sunflower’s use of arcana to enhance my strength and dexterity. I was more than happy to hang back and recover while the others searched the rest of the dingy complex.

                                “We also came face to face with Nyassa Hyades, who spoke with us from the other side of a set of red-tinted unbreakable windows. She was cordial for a blood-sucking abomination, and complimented our prowess in succeeding where all of her underlings had failed. Had there been any way to reach her, I would have insisted upon finishing our tete-a-tete with blows (I am certain that Darcy at least would have supported this plan), but as it was we had to content ourselves with barbed words. Still, her day will come.

                                “As will her descendant’s. It still galls me that Camilla Hyades spoke to my Sunflower as she did, accusing her of toying with the affections of her beloved sister and stealing glory from her friend Saffron. I did not draw steel upon her as I warned her to consider her next words carefully, but it was a near thing, Salkhi. Petulant disrespect must be answered firmly.

                                “Bah; I have wandered from the point. Camilla’s rudeness occurred before we even entered the undercity on that day. But where was I? Ah, yes… as we were attempting to return to the Nest, we found that we had unexpected allies. Quintus and most of his staff scurried into the tunnels, many of them with sharp kitchen implements strapped to them. I suppose the rhy-rats intended to use arcana to fling their fellows at any opponents who might have slipped our guard. It was valiant of our host to attempt to come to our rescue, however unnecessary the gesture might have been.

                                “There was no real need to celebrate boisterously when we returned to the surface, as we had already dispatched the Shadow Dancers… but we decided to do so nonetheless. The Nest serves the most delightful incongruous pairing of chicken – breaded and cooked in boiling oil – with sweet, pastry-like bread, grilled against a burning iron. I would not have credited the combination to be as delicious as it is, and I craved more of it immediately.

                                “With the case solved and two of the three pieces of the key safely stowed in the city’s vault, there was nothing left to do but return to our homes. Tanith was moody in the wake of Camilla’s tirade, but she relaxed a bit when we arrived safely at home. Jana and I were as calm and stolid as always. I hope that she took some comfort from the stability we provided.

                                “As you well know, a few days later my Snowfall and I met up to take the holiday together. As I said a few moments ago, the past few weeks have been undeniably pleasant. Lumina speaks to me in ways unlike any other. It is not my home, and I doubt it ever will be (no matter how welcoming Alexis’ mother has been), but it is a most pleasant place to tarry for a while. And yet… I feel Aldis City calling me home. I think our time here is coming to an end.

                                “For the present.”


                                Tanith’s Diary


                                Colloquy

                                The Vata’Sha strode with purpose through the restaurant, cape trailing behind her. Like always, she wore black and purple, and the toe and heel of her boots made staccato clicks as she moved to the table where a woman in blue and white was already sitting.

                                “Cassilda, you are here. Thank you for coming.” She smiled as she moved to sit.

                                “Of course Tan-Tan, is everything okay?” Her tone was worried. “Your sudden request to meet is concerning. Not that your company is unwelcome.” She smiled warmly, her large dark eyes taking in her friend.

                                “I vas confronted by Camilla yesterday. She vas angry with me. Really angry. About you.” Tanith sits straight, her eyes a soft gold.

                                “Me? Why me? She has not spoken to me of this.” The human woman was definitely concerned. Nervous energy lead to her tapping her fork with her chopsticks, an old habit she had. Her partner noticed.

                                “She…she said I broke your heart and abandoned you, Cassie.” It was hard for Tanith to say.

                                “Oh, well, you did.” Cassilda was matter of fact. “Abandoned is a strong word. But my heart, yes Tan-Tan. I have yet to love again.”

                                Tanith winced. She was really hoping Jadzia and Jana were wrong. “Ve never…I mean…ve were roommates.”

                                “We slept together almost every night, Tan-tan.” Her tone is almost flat. “You kissed me a couple times a day. If we slept apart one of us was having an adventure. Honestly? I presumed…I anticipated…would be asked for my hand after graduation.” The tapping increases, even as she tries to maintain composure, showing no other sign of being upset.

                                “You vanted to join the Nobility in Aldis City. I vanted to be a traveling diplomat who may be away for weeks at a time. That’s…not really compatible. I had no intention of you giving up your dream.”

                                “And yet I have not even tried to take the test. “She glanced at her hand tapping the fork; her left hand put down the chopstick and was placed over her own wrist. The sound stopped, leaving an odd silence with its absence. Cassilda looked up from her hand and met Tanith’s gaze looking up. She looked away.

                                A waitress arrived, and they ordered wine. The interruption seemed welcome, allowing them to break the tension at the table. When she walked away, however, they slowly returned to looking at each other. Cassilda’s chopsticks were now under her plate. Her left hand idly played with her knife, but without that constant tapping. Her partner was totally still. Her gloves had been removed, and her hands were folded over her plate.

                                “I am concerned about your family as well, Cassie. And you.” Tanith shifted uncomfortably, her hands switched the bottom and top glove in the stack, her eyes did not quite meet her partner.

                                “That ancestor, Nyassa? She told me to give you her regards. Your wision resulted in Camilla and Saffron being put at risk. You had no vay of knowing, of course…I am not blaming you. But she has not given up. She vishes to drive you mad.”

                                Cassilda muttered at the mention of Saffron, but immediately focused with intensity on Tanith as the Vata finished her thought “So you say I should doubt my visions, Tanith.” Cassilda’s voice remained flat.

                                “Vat do you vant me to do? Propose?” The Vata’Sha raised her voice perhaps a bit more than needed. Conversation around them stopped. There was a cough. Cassilda did not look impressed.

                                “Too little too late, Tanith. My heart is thoroughly broken.” Cassilda was still without affect. The wines arrived, and they did’t seem to notice. Reading the scene, the waitress retreated.

                                “You could have told me! Ve have been together a dozen times since school. I did not know!” Her voice was perhaps a bit loud, but quieter than before. Of course, everyone nearby was listening by then.

                                “Well, my sexual needs have not vanished, and unfortunately most people do not quite…are not you.” She shifted, uncomfortably.

                                Tanith was at least as uncomfortable. “Ca…Cassie…vhat do you vant me to do. You are my dearest friend you mean the world to me.”

                                “Tanith you…” Cassilda gestured, causing her to accidentally hit her wine glass with the knife she was playing with, spilling it. She dropped the knife in surprise, and it clattered with what seemed to be an impossibly loud noise. This seemed to be the last straw. She rose, even as Tanith was mopping up the spilled wine.

                                “We need to continue this conversation another time. I cannot deal with you right now. I am sorry.” She turned away on her heel and left, heads turning behind her. Tanith, for once in her life, found herself without words to say. After pausing, she finishes cleaning as the waitress gingerly approached.

                                “I…I am afraid Lady Hyades is unvell. Let me settle her bill for her vine.” She pulls her gloves on and hands off a few coins to the apologetic server. She wiped her eyes and declined an offer for support, instead making her way out quickly, her wine untouched.

                                Pillow Fort Completed

                                Let’s see…Rat Kings are in the Fantasy Age Bestiary. The Shadow Dancers were made like PCs, to some degree. This made them pretty dangerous…more so than the Darkfiend. We have not had much in the way of dungeon crawls. Nyassa was discussed in Aldis City Rhapsody.

                                New story next time. Pirates. See you in two weeks. Comments and Questions welcome.
                                Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                                HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

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