Actual Game Start:
- Renna (Book of Kells)– Blue Child of the North Runeweaver; Northern Vord Special Forces
- Thelonius Monk (Deadly & Delicious) – Padha-hha Martial Artist; Northern Vord Regular
- Xin (Ball Buster) –Padha-hha Paladin of Megalon; Northern Vord Squire Trainee
Our errant party begins at the snowy entrance of the fortified enclosure that the mercenaries have put together to protect the expedition. Captain Algois, head of the five captains leading the expedition, has ordered that a small group go into Arjak. The objectives would be threefold:
- A small number of mercenaries would go to Arjak, in numbers as to not be intimidating or threatening to the populace
- Once there, a quiet base of operations shall be setup with the focus on integrating with the populace and getting in their good graces. The captains see potential advantage for the Northern Vord during the three-year period they are here. A focus of the company is industry and Arjak and the other settlements might be a trade outlet or good northern base for the company to permanent expand into.
- Gauge the sentiment of the town and send back word to the captains.
Orders flowed through Sgt. Breakwater to everyone. Once orders were in hand, Xin led his small team into the snow outside the walls. It was easy going, the glow and smoke from the volcano that dominates the island the only company. Fate, however, did not smile on the ill-fated expedition and barely two hours into the snow, they were assaulted by spiders. None saw them coming, their footfalls alerting the spiders to ambush as they lay in wait. Renna and Thelonius luckily caught side of them as they shrugged off the snow they had been hiding in and launched at Xin.
Poor Xin, caught up with the role of leadership after being cooped up for so long in training was treated quite poorly. Three of the rugged creatures, each towering a foot or more over the Padha-Hha attacked him, thrusting stingers into his hardened armor. It bent them away but they ejected poison on him nonetheless, coating his armor and skin with sticky toxins. Thelonius too one jumped though he was adept in avoiding its attack. In seconds Xin was coated in thick poison, head swimming from its effects, and Thelonius affected too, a lucky stinger slipping through his otherwise adept maneuvering.
Renna backpedaled and tried to contain them from afar. Her bracelet was alight and dancing with a ruddy shine, telling her spirits were near and active. It seemed but a barely a half a minute passed before luck shone its light on them and revealed what assaulted them was not spiders but other things in disguise. Thin, sickly spirits taken mortal form, wielding black thorns the size of swords, the light of maniacal, insane hunger burning out their eyes. Fate works in strange ways as does the hand of Megalon, since it guided Xin to smite one creature with a fell power, so strong that it smashed through Xin (right through the groin! Ouch!) and the ground, shattering the earth and sending Xin and three of the creature into a lava tube below. Thelonius struck the last, shattering it into a puzzle of fleshy pieces that quickly dissolved. As it died it whispered, the first sound made by them, saying, “Enas Thorn”.
It had no meaning to them and was quickly forgotten as they clamored down into the hole to see if Xin was still among the living. By luck or faith, in this case, he was though in sore shape, having all his bones broken but his spine. With a lot of rope a bit of luck, they got him out of the hole, fashioning a crude device to keep him still and stable from the remnants of a wagon they found below. While flickers of spirits tricked at Renna's bracelet and they found the withered bony remains of four beings and more of giant spiders (with manacles, no less) the focus was on Xin and getting him back.
Back at the mercenary encampment Xin was given proper care, though he was castigated by the other Megalon priest. Carth Taraton, as he was called, berated Xin for his lack of bravery and forced him to his feet to spar and train even though he was hurting. Luckily, Sharri, the company healer was a formidable force on her own and browbeat Carth until he left. Carth still snuck in and roused him up and when he was mostly healed everyone raced to leave, not liking KP duty and other mundane tasks that seemed to fall to them in droves.
Once again they stood looking into snow beyond the gates. This time a little less confident, especially Xin who felt a trill of shakiness in his hands. This first day, though, was smoother. No fell events waited though on the second day of travel we found the body of a member of our company slain. A brief investigation revealed nothing and focused on our objectives we pressed on. When we arrived we would send word back speaking of his finding and death. The next day was equally quiet though misty and clouded with snow, which was rising quickly in the face of an early winter snow. We came across another traveler, one Regalus, who was met with two wolves the size of a Padha-hha. Their eyes were a burning red. It was a good meeting though, and after sizing us up to make sure we were not spirits, he spoke for a bit about traveling on to his home. Not wishing to be rude, we gave way so he could pass and then continued on our way.
While snowy, the rest of the trek to the town was uneventful. The guards at the towers demanded a coin to let us pass but otherwise did so peacefully. They made sure to point out the gibbet and its Zirin inhabitant, noting that stealing was not tolerated (at least by those who don't pay the proper fees). It was bitter cold and few people were about except for soldiers and guards, stamping their feet to stay warm. Renna and Xin were hopelessly turned around but luckily Thelonius talked about a nearby group of soldiers tryign to stay warm and got directions to an inn called the Half Trap. It seemed to be the best place to go in town.
It worked out for the best because while they were accosted by dwarven female wenches once they went inside they were also plied with a thick, hearty stew. They also ran into Burster, a 7 year veteran of the company who had been sent here while Xin was laid up healing. Burster had been in town a while and get some info. While someone earlier had told them the Clamshell was a better place than here, he disputed that saying he had stayed there originally and it was more of a dive.
Thelonius managed to sweeten up on the dwarven wenches and get a lot of information from them. (summarized below). After crashing out, the next morning one of them introduced them to Kreger, her uncle's, brother's sister's cousin's half-sister's niece’s son's cousin, who had a hand in some of the real estate in town. He let on that he knew they were in the market for a place and that he had something for them if they would let me have a shot at supplying the company goods from his stores. Xin was wise and didn't promise but took advantage of the situation. Kreger led them through town to see the places he had. On the way, a thickly built, red-faced man elbowed through the crowd and laid down a heavy hand on Xin. Surprised, Xin went to pull his weapons but the man roared out something and threw down a heavy metal amulet with Megalon's sign on it. He jabbered on for a few minutes about bravery, fear and knocking the fear of Xin. He then invoked the right of skin to...fur battle. They both stripped and fought. The unnamed Megalon priest dotted Xin's face with a good fist and lo and behold the fear Xin had been feeling poured out of him (he rolled an astronomical fear save!). The man immediately began praising Megalon (we swear he was a pentecostal version...so much song and dance...anyway) and Xin felt more embolded (he regained 5 of the 8 Faith he had previously expended during his Crisis of Faith).
We went with one of the properties Kreger showed us. The company had supplied coin, by the way of gems so they were used to rent the property for some time. The place was a bit run down and a baby with a toothpick could break in but it was serviceable. Two good sized rooms, complete with the arid smell of old herbs (it used to be an herbalist shop) and attached storage.
We spent a couple of days settling in, contacting other mercenary members, gathering information, and sending word back (10 day elapses).
Rumors & Information
- Bad Economy – poor fishing and heavy disruption to the trade lanes overland have sent the town into a slump.
- Snow Trolls – they are hunting heavily on routes between Arjak and the settlements of Gutter Rock and Shaneton. This has disrupted nearly all trade, stopped most hunting and driven away people who ordinarily would hunt or harvest in the lava tubes.
- Ghost/Pirate Ship (this has actually passed timewise but I'm leaving it here for posterity) – Every couple of years the Roaring Revenge attempts to attack the docks and destroy them, like it did nearly a cycle ago (137 years). The water turns brackish and dark a few days before it comes so the settlement usually has advance notice and try to head it off. They have succeeded the last four times (five now). Tales say that if you can board the ship and get into its hold you can loot it of her treasure. They also say if you don't board before she sails you become a part of her crew too.
- Gangi – the local crime lord. He died after choking to death on his favorite meal of chicken. His top people immediately began squabbling and broke into seven factions, each fighting the other for control. They are clashing almost daily with the authorities. Most of their activities range in the robbery/thieving scope but the level of violence has been escalating.
- Cobblestone Creep Infestation – A particularly nasty form of urban Fae, these things look like wizened little gnomes with huge heads, insatiable appetites and nimble fingers that like to unravel/unweave things. They are a pest that seems to have infested half the town, causing mischief and harm where they go. When confronted or attacked they swell into ogre-like beasts that sweat steam and perform violence.
- Missing Boreas priest – Draynbur, the knobbit priest of Boreas hasn't been seen in weeks. Many are starting to consider him dead.
- Captain Algois – head of the five captains leading the expedition. He's reputed a tough fighter but even better mage. They also say he has a knife that can shave fire off an elemental's backside. He's also elven or fae blooded somewhere in his lineage.
- Sgt. Breakwater – A pockmarked, leathery, wiry human. Originally trained as a Viruelandian military man, he gave up the soldier trade there to become a mercenary and has been with the company for 17 years. His favorite weapon is a sword though he's a master with a shield.
- Carth Taraton – Megalon priest, also on the expedition.
- Sharri – Norther Vord doctor; she's whipcord thin, pale skinned with a tense, hatchet face and indomitable disposition. Few cross her willingly.
- Burster – 7-year company veteran; uses twin maces, is pretty serious and smokes sweet cigars. He was here on the first expedition that lasted a year but otherwise spent his time fighting on the Vorgoe border.
- Gangi – local crimelord that had been killed recently. The organization had broken up into seven squabbling factions after his death and no one or place was safe from robbery, theft or assault since they were not honoring gilt (protection money) that had been paid.
- Shrike – another Padha-Hha who has the reputation for being the most serious badass in the place. No one crosses him since he had seemingly outfight anyone or anything, no matter the odds. He also has an uncanny sniffer able to let him sniff out anyone that crosses him or does him wrong. Pretty much feared/respected by everyone. He wears a giant wolf fur pelt that he got from somewhere on the island.
- Tail Song – Runs a school on the northern side of Arjak, teaching children and adults. For adults he teaches music and song. He is also the unofficial “mayor” of the town, acting as a go-between for a lot of factions and people in the town. That he is a Saurig doesn't seem to bother anyone.
- Draynbur – Priest of Boreas
- Kamsa – Priest of the Silver Lady
- Ron Uttara – Zirin of some reputation in the town. He's a respected explorer, adventurer and businessman: he owns a shop that sells pottery and herbs.
- Giltava – Human – Goblin – Orc (HuGobOrc?) female that captain's the ship called, The Howler. A heavy galleon, its the backbone of the port defenses. The other three ships (Ilvan's Wind, Jonkallen, and Magic's Promise) are captained by Dandak the Thin, Aldhar duinJhat, and Kaal respectively.
- Dandak the Thin – captain of the Ilvan's Wind and a Zirin.
- Aldhar duinJhat – captain of the Jonkallen and a Mogru.
- Kaal – captain of the Magic's Promise. A half-elven/human mage. His left hand is supposed to be crafted out of pure magic.
- Malini – A local mystic and healer. She's a Zirin and human mix and has numerous scars/tattoos on her furred skin.
- The volcano on the island is called Fragjen. Its revered almost like a deity and people cast salt in the air towards its general direction when its really active. It goes back to an old story about Renjo Oyn, a local hero from antiquity and how he harvested salt from the ocean for 29 days and nights to quell the volcano spirit.
- The islands are frequently caught up in widespread mist, fog, smoke and snow flurries. Islanders pause when they meet someone in any of the above, to see if they are what the seem or spirits in disguise, a common encounter. The Riethgaul, a gaunt, snow laden crone is especially feared, as she will steal a body part from anyone she meets and run off with it. If you don't catch her before the sun (if at night) or moon (if at day) rises high in the sky, the body part is gone forever. Her favored target is men...and what is treasured by them.