Saturday, December 29, 2007
So they ran the Maelstrom's rowboat ashore on an island lit by some type of natural phosphorescence. A short search turned up two gate-like pillars the size of an ogre that were covered with runes. Curiously, the pillars did not even exist for Jean-Pierre, for he could neither see nor touch them.
Adannaya and Arthur examined the runes and came to the conclusion that most were wards against undead, meant to keep them out... and also keep them bound. Further examination revealed a script worked into the runes that spelled out the legend:
Bound by Honor
Bound by Evil
Bound by Fate
Arthur and Adannaya posited that merely walking between the pillars would transport a live person to... wherever the pillars teleported.
No one wanted to risk and unknown teleport, so they gave up and went home.
Ha, just kidding. The crew went through the pillar gate and came upon an island with a Chin temple at its apex. As they trudged up the hill they were met by a spectre that wore trappings of a priest of the sun god. "You may not pass," he proclaimed.
As he spoke, more spectres manifested behind him.
"Why can we not pass?" Murgosis asked.
"We are bound," the spectre replied. "You may not pass."
There was more banter, but Stelgar quickly grew bored with it. He tumbled behind the lead specter and stabbed him in the back.
A full thirty spectres manifested and swarmed the crew. The chilling touch of one of these spirits weakened a mortal greatly. Were it not for the enchanted weapons most of the crew the battle would have gone much worse... but even still, Murgosis fell. The chilling weakness of spectre attacks overtook him, and he vanished with an unearthly moan.
Then the battle was done. The crew was much weakened and many put forth the idea of recovering from their spectral wounds aboard the Maelstrom. The debate went on until Marik consulted the storm god and learned that Murgosis was not exactly dead, but could be "recovered." After further divination the crew decided to recuperate at the very spot the battle took place in. After two days the remaining crew members finished the trudge up to the Chin temple.
The temple had no visible door or other entrance, but there were three large statues - an old warrior, a middle-aged matron, and an androgynous youth - near the front that faced down the hill. They animated and had the purpose of the crew's visit to the island from them. The matron even went so far as to settle Jenna somewhat from her grief of losing Murgosis, then opened a doorway into the temple.
Meanwhile, in Chin-Cathay...
Nicodemus B. Fishington, still in cursed cat form, visited the Temple of the Three with his entourage in tow. As he had servants light incense, the Matron aspect turned and spoke.
"You will be leaving by a different door."
"But... there is only one door into the temple, Honored Mother."
She nodded, but spoke no more.
Feeling unsettled, Nicodemus bade his servants to gather and leave. But when they left, they entered not into the sunny streets of Ran Jang, but into a torchlit undersea cavern infested with barbarians.
Still long-faced from the loss of Murgosis, the crew collected Zakhi's bauble and returned to the World with Nicodemus in tow. After some short words with Jean-Pierre, they decided to give the bauble directly to Zakhi aboard the Sunrise. Zakhi was cordial but guarded, and it seemed that he had things he wanted to say but could not. He hinted that the Maelstrom could find more information at a Sun Temple west of their current locale. The crew visited the high priest and he related the tale known as Dread Pirate Zakhi and the Curse of the Sea Witch.
The crew agreed that it would be a noble and worthy endeavor to free Zakhi from his curse, but as they had no way of locating the rest of the baubles Zakhi needed they decided to return the Red King's shield.
Friday, September 14, 2007
It was in Araby where Christofer met his love.
By the time she was seventeen, Layali was a stunning young woman but her demonic heritage was obvious. She had dark reddish-brown skin, small glossy black horns, and a pointed tail. Farouk doted on her and staffed her tower with eunuchs and mutes.
Despite this precaution, rumors began to spread that the tower held an evil spirit that devoured men's souls. It didn't help that Layali would occasionally escape from the tower and walk about the city at night, so the occasional Tazhinian would catch a glimpse of her skulking through the alleys. Fear of Farouk kept the torch-wielding mobs at bay, so Layali and her servants were left unmolested... until it became known that Farouk was dead.
Even if he had wanted to, there would have been little the Rajah of Tazhina could have done to stop the citizens of his city from razing the large manor of Amahl el-Farouk and then turning their attentions on his tower across the city.
Christofer Silverleaf came to Tazhina because Amahl el-Farouk was an associate of Kraig's. Christo hoped to dupe Farouk into giving him some... well any information about Kraig or his unholy quest to usurp the power of Silverleaf.
When he arrived the city was flush with the news of Farouk's death. He saw the mob forming and knew he had no hope of gleaning any clues from Farouk's manor... but then he learned of Layali's tower from an eager-eyed torch-wielder. Using magic to reach the tower well before the wave of angry peasants, he frantically pleaded for entry with the fearful eunuch guardians. Only when the mob neared the gates of the tower did the servants allow Christofer in.
Layali had been summoned by this time. "Who are you?" she demanded. "What will you do here?"
Christofer, hoarse from shouting through the tower door, replied; "We don't have time for anything but escape! There is an angry mob of torch-wielding peasants at your gate!"
Layali felt a thrill of fear. She regularly had nightmares about mobs of peasants with torches sacking her tower. She knew common folk feared her. Her servants loved her of course, but even they feared her at first. "M-my father will come and tell them... ah..."
Christofer's eyes narrowed. "Your father is...?"
Layali stiffened her spine. "Amahl el-Farouk."
"Amahl el-Farouk is dead. He was devoured by one of his demons."
She nodded, wilting. "I feared it was so." She straightened again. "They will want me. I will draw them away so my servants can escape."
Christofer--who possessed none of his sister's talent or aplomb with the opposite sex--was smitten immediately. The heaving bosom, the full pouty lips, the glossy dark hair, the great dark eyes welling up with tears--
He nearly stood there mute and blinking while the girl made to open the heavy tower door and sacrifice herself to the mob. "Wait! There's no need for that! I'll cast an illusion to draw the crowd away while you and your servants escape!"
And so the girl was saved. She gave all the wealth of the tower over to her servants and bade them to scatter to different cities across the desert land. Since Christofer had saved not only Layali but all her servants as well, she vowed to help him in his quest to bring his father to justice. Layali saw Christofer as a hero from a romantic tale and lavished him all the love (or infatuation, if you will) a young woman could. So, a mere six months after their first meeting, the pair were married by a drunken sun priest in Midport.
For two years the pair tracked Kraig across the world. They learned that Silverleaf was the key to unlocking the dimensional barrier to the land of Egypt. They learned that the fabled metropolis was cursed by the Red King at the beginning of the Defiler Era, and that curse doomed the inhabitants of Silverleaf to an eternity of living death. They learned that only the blood of Silverleaf could unlock the wards that sealed it away from the world. They learned that Kraig had vials of Xelena Silverleaf's blood, but still searched for a gateway or altar that would let him work his blood magic.
In a dirty cobbled street in Drachensgraab, Christofer Silverleaf finally found Kraig.
A wizard's duel began. It became apparent that Kraig was more accomplished in the magical arts than Christofer... but Kraig worked alone and Christo was married to a half-succubus that shot bolts of eldritch power from her outstretched hands. With Layali's help, Christofer fended off Kraig and forced him to flee... but not before Kraig succeeded in magically blinding Christofer.
Under Layali's guidance, they fled the scene of the battle and bribed a local smuggler named Trath to let them use his warehouse as a hideaway. Of course the thieves guild had connections to Trath's smuggling house so it was only a matter of time before Kraig discovered their location...
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Alas, repairs did not seem to be in order before they were set upon by Bloody Paul Demmings. The eager lad in the crow's nest pointed out a vessel due south that turned out to be the Vanessa Rose herself! With the chosen island a half day's sail away, the Maelstrom sought to flee to it, mayhap to set ambush or at least provide cover on her weak port side.
During the chase, a thick fog settled upon both boats from a clear sky. Before they lost sight of her, several crew members noted the mages on the Vanessa Rose banishing the unnatural mist, only to sail into a thicker patch. Soon enough visibility was so bad that the Captain gave order to weigh anchor and run silent.
At Jenna's suggestion, the Captain ordered cables lashed to empty barrels and had them floated out on each compass point, for some warning if the Vanessa Rose came close.
For a tense half hour the crew listened and watched as well as they were able. Then one of the ropes put out to sea with a barrel gave a jerk, and then another. Jenna made ready to swim out and put a sword through whatever may need gutting, but Winston bade her to wait til someone showed his face.
And so the Maelstrom met the Vanessa Rose over her starboard side. BOOM went the cannon! Where the Maelstrom sought to take out gun crews, the Vanessa Rose raked the deck! There was spellcasting, and diving for cover, and scurvy dogs a-bleeding! YARRR! Then the ships came to, and the boarding commenced! Here was Captain Bloody Paul Demmings; seven foot tall and red of skin, bearing a greatsword that radiated a chill like midwinter. Here were Mad Addy and Black Bart, and all the three of them cut a path of blood through the crew of the Maelstrom.
Jenna Swinesdottir fell when the powder keg she had strapped to her arm exploded. Murgosis fell after fleeing a bloody toe-to-toe battle with Bloody Paul on one side and Mad Addy on the other. Paul cut down Arthur when his protective spells became too much of a nuisance.
In the end, the heroes prevail. Otherwise the story goes on, eh? Bloody Paul Demmings was finally brought low and the Vanessa Rose was sunk. A great deal of booty was plundered and a great deal of payment was finally meted out to the worthy crew of the Maelstrom. The reward was collected from the Gnomes of Atlantia and the ship repaired and refitted.
Then it was off to waters east, to uphold the bargain with Zakhi
Monday, September 03, 2007
Zakhi was the romantic dashing sort of pirate, one that would treat prisoners fair and not even show mistreatment if the ransom failed to meet his coffers (though many a ladies virtue suffered his advances, 'tis true). One day his eye fell on a young woman in the Chin port of Ran Jang named Xue Yun, and he was smitten with her beauty.
Xue Yun was gifted with a fair amount of sense, and furthermore hailed from a minor noble house of Ran Jang. She spurned Zakhi at the first, but the man was noted for his charm and wit--not to mention his persistence. Time and again he professed his love for the maiden, and he did embellish the romantic adventures they could have on the high seas. Within a month Xue Yun relented, and stole aboard the Sunrise in the dead of night. The very next morning they were married by a priest of the sun god that Zakhi favored.
'Twas Zakhi's sense of fairness and generosity that turns the tale to sadder waters. Not wanting to slight his new wife's Chin gods, he bade her to choose a port where they could be married in Chin fashion. She chose a port far down the southern coast where dwelt a cousin of hers that was a priest. They were married in secret before her patron goddess, Kuan Yin, and set sail the next day for "all the world," as Zakhi had it.
Unbeknownst to the newlywed couple, the priest was consumed by guilt over performing the marriage and made confession to the high priest, who immediately notified the girl's family.
Where a poorer family wouldn't have had gold enough, and a richer family could have paid for a gentler hand, the Yun family was cursed with just the right amount of wealth to garner the services of the Sea Witch Antideluvia. They made offerings and abased themselves in such fashion as pleased the witch, and she consented to "turn the heart of Xue Yun."
Antideluvia gathered dark spirits and cast them across the waters of Chin. One of them found the Sunrise and crept into the nose of Xue Yun, wherein it was able to lay with her spirit. From then on she became tormented and frightful. She would imperiously curse her new husband and command him to return her to Ran Jang, and then come to her senses and beg him to take her as far from Chin as he could. Night and day she fought a spirit battle with the minion of Antideluvia, and the sun priest on board was powerless to cast it out. Zakhi and his crew could only watch in growing horror as the once-lively and beautiful woman began wasting away, consumed by the battle she fought within her very soul.
The priest bade Zakhi to take the girl to a Sun Temple where a high priest could cast out the cursed spirit, or back to Chin. Since the spirit was tasked with bringing the girl to Chin, the torment would end once she arrived on those shores once again. Zakhi set all sails to the Sun Temple in Chokoun, figuring to make port in two days.
Antideluvia heard the priest's words and Zakhi's decision from her spying spirits, and cast a great storm to blow the Sunrise far off course. Zakhi recognized a sorcerous maelstrom when he spied one, and called upon his priest and his faith to banish the storm. The priest's prayer was enough to blunt the furies force, and the Sunrise was back on course again. Antideluvia became enraged and appeared before the prow wreathed in unholy fury.
"You will give up the girl to me, filthy pirate, or I will have her soul away and leave you a lifeless husk!" she screeched.
Zakhi and his crew were paralyzed by terror and indecision. They could by no means give up Xue Yun to this evil crone, but neither could they let her soul be torn asunder. In that moment, Xue Yun took matters into her own hands. From the captain's quarters she crept, tormenting spirit held at bay by her will, and a silver knife clutched in her white-knuckled hand. Before the crew or the crone realized she was there, she leapt from the deck and plunged the knife into the crones withered breast.
Antideluvia fell upon the deck, bleeding foul ichor and clutching dark forces to her will. Twin eyes of darkness grew in both her clawed hands and she made to hurl them at Xue Yun. "My Death Curse upon you, whore of the sea!" she cried, and flung the blackness at the girl.
Is it a blessing or a curse, what went next? Surely no one would be surprised to hear that Zakhi threw himself in the way and bore the brunt of the crone's evil power. Who knows what would have happened had the curse struck its intended target?
For Ricardo Zakhi, the world went black and then gray, and all the folk around him grew so bright as to blind him. "Never will you know the living," whispered a voice from the darkness. "You will take no succor in the house of the Sun. You are bound, and bound, and bound to the dead. Ne'er will you walk the land."
The darkness left Zakhi and struck dead all the crew, and aye, his beloved as well. When he beheld her light fading, rage and grief made him draw his sword and strike off the hand of the Sea Witch. He advanced further to end her black existence, but she slithered over the railing and disappeared into the sea. "By sea and by blood, by the light of the sun, I shall end thee," he roared. Only the sea and the dead answered. For when he turned, he beheld his crew in horrible unlife, shuffling about the deck in vile parody of seafaring crew. So horrified by this was he that he failed to notice ten and two zombies slip overboard into the hungry waves.
Only his beloved remained still. Was she finally at peace in death? He knew not.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
During Murgosis' watch he was given a vision of a Ship of the Dead, whos crew gave him dire news from home. The land of Egypt was in great peril due to the traitor priest Amhotep, who had struck an unholy bargain with the king of the fire giants. The Dead bade him to seek help from the Red King, else the land of Egypt would be lost.
During Winston's watch a human wizard strode into the camp--cautiously, with a lantern held in one hand and the other in plain view. He struck up a conversation and even produced a tea set with which he made a fine tea. He called himself Thennin. He seemed to know a great deal about Winston's personal history and current quest, but seemed to have to dredge names and places up out of a deep memory.
Winston asked how Thennin came to be here. In the way of wizards speaking to non-wizard folk he said that his path led him through here, and that he must take this path because the easier path lead to madness like the madness that gripped Razaq.
They finished pleasant conversation and then Thennin was on his way.
Then the crew went forth to slay Razaq in his many forms, as we have seen. They were on their way back to the village--lead by the native Ochobo and trailing the no-longer-toad-but-elf-again Laina--when they encountered Thennin again, only this time in something of a rush.
He ran full tilt out from behind a sapling too small to conceal a man, yet from out behind it he sprang.
He skidded to a halt in front of the crew and puffed "You! You're--hah--here! Help me fight off these Mantis Men and I'll help you find Bloody Bart! No, wait, Black Paul! No, that's not right either--just help me and I'll lead you to one of the men you're looking for!"
The crew agreed and was quickly set upon by Mantis Men! They were quick and hard-shelled! Nary a blade could pierce their exoskeletons! Ignored many a mighty magick did they!
In the end, they all died of course. They faced the crew of the Maelstrom! YARRR!
Murgosis and Jenna, not to be cheated of a kill, dove into the water to recover Bart's effects. Murgosis found him swimming away, unhurt by the explosion!
He was not left unhurt by Murgosis. Bart faded away upon his death, as did Addy. Sure and Bloody Paul must be getting close now...
Monday, August 13, 2007
Regardless o' the nature of the attraction, the Isle has played host to mad wizards for nigh on 200 years. The crew o' the Cutlass, and later the Maelstrom, have seen enough o' the weird and unnatural on Mad Wizard Island to never want to go back, and aye, they only been there twice! From the dreaded Pengurangulions to swimming owlbears to shifting landscape to multiple Razaqs, the crew has had a bellyful of hazards brought about by mortals mucking about with things that Should Not Be, or Things That Should Be Left Alone, or Things That Should Be Toilet Trained, or... well whate'er.
One thing the crew encountered that was not so disturbin' was a village o' natives what had taken up residence in a snug harbor. They be a small brown folk that seemed to be curiously unaffected by the unnatural blights that plague the Isle. Most humans what see them call 'em dwarves, and most dwarves what see 'em call em human. Could be they was dwarf or human stock what adapted to survive the Isle. In their language, they be Po-Chuk Tua (the People of the Isle).
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Finding somewhat on Mad Wizard Isle is a problem, since the topography of the island changes week to week and sometimes day by day. The crew had no choice but to sail around the beaches until they found a suitable harbor--which they did after a half day's sail. A harbor, complete with a small village of natives, was sighted on the south end.
The Captain had the ship anchored and took a boat ashore with his most fearsome crew members. They were met by the unafraid tribal chief and perhaps a score of the small brown villagers. The chief chuckled when asked if they could point the way to the mad wizard Razaq. "Many wizards here. Many wild spirits. Swing a dead cat. Maybe you hit the one you want."
With no other options presenting, they gave the chief a small sum of gold to feed the crew remaining on the ship and headed inland. It seemed that while they searched for the wizard, the wizard searched for them, for he was waiting for them on the very path they took! He was a pale scantily clad man that obviously hadn't seen a bath in many a month, with wide staring eyes and a horrible moving growth on his neck. As they watched, the groth twitched and opened an alien eye. Immediately, he assailed them with mad wizard babble:
"I have seen you, I have seen the Ways! I know the ways, they are my ways and they are your Ways, but they are not your Ways! HAHA! What do you know? You know nothing!"
Whereupon he loosed his minions on the crew; horrible tentacled scorpion things that screeched and charged with wild abandon. But that wasn't enough; for soon another Razaq appeared, equally repulsive and mad as the first!
Battle ensued, made horrible by the fact that the Razaqs and their minions seemed to have no regard for their own safety. More horrible still; the tentacled monstrosities that he summoned exploded in a shower of acidic gore and viscera, causing great pain to those unfortunate enough to be caught in its effect. Jenna in particular was sore wounded once the fight was done.
Captain Winston struck the deathblow on the last Razaq and was strangely afflicted thereafter. He seemed to feel a pull deeper into the island, and could occasionally be heard muttering about the wizard's Ways. Nor would he take a step back towards the village or the Maelstrom, indeed, he seemed pained to even think of it.
They made camp and pressed on into the next day, where they met battle with another pair of Razaqs and their abominable minions. Once again Jenna was brought to death's door by the exploding monstrosities, and only a days worth of prayers and rituals performed by Marik the Storm Priest kept her from slipping the mortal coil.
They day after that they came upon possibly the most disturbing sight of all: Razaq copulating with a tentacled unnatural version of Adalaine Scoldaria. Both were quickly cut down and burnt, and neither seemed to even take note of their impending deaths.
But overlooking this unnatural event was... The Black Mirror!
Imagine if you could carve out a table top from a starry night sky, but it was 20 feet long and 10 feet tall. Jam one side into the flank of a hill, and there you have the Black Mirror from a safe... well, what we'll call a safe distance. From a distance it hurts the eyes, since on the one hand it looks like a great sheer slab of black glass but it also looks like you're looking up into a clear night sky.
From a not-so-safe distance, one who is not mad can get a glimpse of the Ways that Razaq goes on about. A mere glimpse can leave you wondering if you saw your reflection, a tree-lined path, a demon, an angel, or a reflection of yourself that is not really you. One who is not mad will get an impression of a gateway, a convergence of many paths. One who is not mad may not be able to resist the unnatural allure of the Black Mirror... as Murgosis was not able.
At first, 'twas Jenna that seemed caught by the Mirror, but when Murgosis went to pull her away the Mirror caught his eye... and showed him home. Not just Egypt--although it was unmistakably that--but his home where he grew up. Indeed, there was his father, and his mother... and himself. There was a reflection of himself that moved as he did, but as he moved closer to the Mirror his reflection seemed to change and become more real.
This doppelganger, this Mirror twin, wore the robes of a priest. Not a warrior-priest as Murgosis was, but a true Cleric of the Egyptian gods. Closer and closer the twins came, until they reached out a finger to touch the Mirror and--
There was a sound like breaking the surface of the water after an underwater jaunt. For Murgosis' part, he was uncertain if he was above or below the water but there was his priest twin, on his side of the Mirror with his crewmates.
This was not a freindly meeting. Priest-Murgosis seemed to know a great deal about our Murgosis and was for the most part, disgusted. Our Murgosis, quick to answer challenges about his conduct (and, dare we say it... bull-headed) with his fists made up his mind to settle this--his way. Priest Murgosis presented his ankh and sought to smite this heretic with the power of mighty Ra--but got more than he bargained for.
Meanwhile far, far away on the isle of Feyjounaisse, Laina Silverleaf strode about the wooded streets of Terre Du Plom. She had been fretting lo these many weeks about the disappearance of her half-brother, whos continuing absence made her so concerned she was actually pondering how to search for him outside of Feyjounaisse without getting on a boat. As she walked and pondered, she heard a voice call out "Cristo," which is what the other elves called her brother Christopher.
She hurried toward the voice in time to round the corner and see--was it Christopher? A man in robes like Christopher would wear walking through a glowing portal. The portal was held open by a tall, bald human man with mad eyes--whom she will recognize later as Razaq. She rushed towards the portal but Razaq grew angry and held up his hand. "This is not your Way!" he screeched.
The world tilted and did a little dance for Laina. This might have been fun, but the world seemed to be stepping on her feet a lot and she fell up. Or sideways. It was hard to tell for a moment, but then she managed to figure out down from sideways and everything was going to be alright and she tumbled forward into the sun and grass and sea air--
A furious beam of sunlight rocketed down from the heavens and transfixed both Murgosis and his twin. Both minotaurs were locked in place; the priest brandishing his anhk, the warrior with sword poised.
Laina tumbled out of the Mirror, not 5 feet from the Murgosi, landing on her skinny ass. "Uh," she said.
The rest of the crew...blinked. "Where'd the elf come from?" Marik asked.
From the south came Ochobo the Spirit Warrior. He was a small brown man from a village of small brown people. It was his duty to hunt down wizards such as Razaq, and he thought the crew of the Maelstrom would lead him to one. After all, from what he could tell, they had killed several wizards and their minions already. And here was something unnatural, this slice of night sky jammed in the ground--that bodes ill. Before he could even call out to the crew, the Mirror twitched and--
A pair of Razaqs stepped out of the Mirror, one right next to where Laina sat being stunned. Tentacled monstrosities followed.
There was a mighty battle. Laina pitched in on the side of the crew, and so saved herself the fate of being gutted like a trout. Ochobo proved himself an ally. Another Razaq joined the fight a few moments after it started. Jenna fell (again).
After all was done, there was one Razaq that did not fade to nothingness as the others had done. Finally, Razaq was done.
But what of the Mirror?
The port town was pleasant enough, for it sported enough ale and whorehouses to satisfy the rough and tumble in addition to the more (or less) legitimate trade businesses one would expect in a port city. The town Watch keeps order with more subtle methods than the bully-boys of say, Midport.
The crew of the Maelstrom took in the sights only long enough to get the lay of the land and start casting about for any sign of Demmings. After some investigation, they discovered a ship in port that had traded a large quantity of suspiciously gnome-like goods, with a skipper that sounded suspiciously like Mad Addy in disguise. More footwork revealed a favorite drinking house for said captain, and an ambush was planned post-haste.
Addy had picked a spot in the corner of the building, with a handy man-sized window within five or ten feet on either side... but it did her no good. The crew of her boat that surrounded her was no good match for the crew of the Maelstrom, so Addy made herself invisible and dove out the window... but of course she had no knowledge of Dagon's Lantern of Revealing. While out of sight of the rest of the crew, Dagon followed Addy out the window and pummeled the very visible woman to death, then stuffed her in the same portable hole that contained the Red Shield.
Quickly after this victory, the crew made their way to Addy's ship, the Pig Iron. The remaining crew there was no match for our bloodthirsty killers, and in a trice they were dead or captured. Once the fighting was over the solidarity that served them so well failed. A great lot of bickering about what to do next ensued, so much so that the crew of the Maelstrom was easily ambushed by... Mad Addy!
For if it weren't Mad Addy, mayhap it was a twin? Where the dead Addy was fair-skinned, the new Addy stabbing Murgosis in the back was dark-skinned, with shining black hair--but with the garish pink and red clothing attributed to Adalaine Scoldaria.
The battle, while not as lopsided as the first, once again went against Mad Addy and her crew. When she saw it was going badly, she leapt to the railing and called for parley while balanced there. Winston called for her terms, and she offered thus:
"We'll tell yeh what we know about Demmings, then get oursel' arrested by yon pointy-ears." Then she smiled. "We further promise we won't break out for a fortnight. I'll take Blood Oath on it... provided tha' yuir lot leave us be, o' course."
Winston took the Blood Oath, and the second Mad Addy related the tale of Paul Demmings and the mad wizard Razaq...
"Twas the wizard Razaq what gave Bloody Paul the power to track the wee folk in their underwater boats," Addy began. "Sure and it were a mutually beneficial relationship for the both o' them, since the wizard kep' comin' back fer more. First he gae Paul a gnome wizard ta play wi' in exchange for a virgin girl child--an' leh me tell yeh, virgins are a sight harder ta come by than yeh might think.
"Twas from the wee wizard that Bart tortured the spells for trackin' the trade boats. Once our wizards learnt em, well, they was child's play ta plunder.
"Then the wizard offered to copy us all--e'en Paul, though o' course he had none o' that. Heh heh. Paul, he liked the idea o' havin' extra Addys and Barts and Ellies and Wallys about, so he started ta scour the sea for its full yield o' virgins. It got harder ta find em, though... the wizard kept wantin' more and different sorts o' virgins--old nunny crones, pure hearted paladins, that sort o' thing.
"These days there be so many o' Bloody Paul's lieutenants runnin' about I cannae keep track of em all--cept for me own, o' course. There be six... well, now there be five o' me. We're like sisters, yeh see. We know who come afore us, and who come after, and we can all tell when one o' us gets hersel' sent ta hell. Oh yeh, I see yer faces... this'll mean Bloody Paul knows too, yeh can wager on that.
"Eh? Oh, aye, last I knew, Paul was on Mad Wizard Isle, makin' mad pacts wi' a mad wizard. Happens there a lot, I unnerstand. Ha. Razaq, he hasta stay there. Tis the only place he can work his Black Mirror, he says. Oh, and dinnae go askin' me about the wizard's Mirror. I dinnae know anythin' about it."
The second Addy appeared true to her word (and as Jenna pointed out, she would be truly mad to violate a pirate's Blood Oath); she and her surviving cutthroats were arrested for setting fire to an inn shortly before the Maelstrom shipped out... to Mad Wizard Isle.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Closer and closer they sailed, until it could be determined that it was island and ship -- a vast conglomeration of both! The sunlight glinted off a polished green hull, as well as buildings and minarets sported by the stately behemoth. Vessels minuscule in relation to the mother ship sailed to and fro and all around, patrolling nearby water.
Soon enough they were hailed by three tiny vessels of curious design - vessels big enough for only 3 crew, but each sporting a sail, paddle wheel, and cannon! A gnome to each device - one piloting, one minding the sail, and one pedaling to keep the wheel going (one can assume the gnome piloting got to shoot the cannon).
They hailed the Maelstrom, and receiving cordial reply, escorted them to dock with Atlantia, the Gnomish city-ship.
Upon dock, the crew was given leave to roam about the Bigun Section (that being the section of the city that accommodated human-sized folk), and roam they did. Bigun Section sported all the features of any large port city, but mostly cleaner and more pleasant. Many a wondrous gadget called to the eye from market booths aplenty, as one would expect from a gnomish city.
While inspecting the fare at a cockatrice feather booth, Winston was approached by one Vincenzo Alberte, who offered him and his crew employment. Always on the lookout for booty, and none too keen on the vague plan of handing over the Red Shield, Winston eagerly agreed. Vincenzo related that Atlantia was having trouble with Captain Bloody Paul Demmings, a pirate of some skill and prowess. The proposed work involved "making sure the troublesome Demmings never bothers us again." Winston pressed for more details, but Vincenzo would not elaborate until Winston had agreed to the job.
After some discussion with the crew, Winston agreed to the job. Vincenzo related the rest of the Gnomish problem the next day.
The Atlantia can't very well belly up to any old port town and unload their goods. No one is happy with a floating city-fortress in their port, and the fact that it's crewed entirely by gnomes only increases the unease after a moment's thought. So the gnomes came up with a safe way of trading their goods amongst port towns--they use submarines. Atlantia stays several miles off shore, and the sub with the trade goods swims unmolested to port.
Somehow, the notorious pirate captain Bloody Paul Demmings found a way to not only track the trade subs, but incapacitate and/or kill the crews with some kind of lightning weapon. There have been survivors to tell the tale, but they can relate little more than electricity arcing throughout the unfortunate boat before they lost consciousness. Other ships had the good fortune to spot one of Demmings' ships in a periscope and turn tail back to Atlantia before he could get close enough to unleash his mysterious lightning weapon.
So, the task before the Maelstrom is this: make this problem go away. A sum of forty thousand gold, plus ten thousand in ship enhancements for the Maelstrom, was settled on for payment.
Much discussion was made on how to catch Demmings. It is know that the man commands a fleet of ships numbering usually a score. The number varies, since he has been known to set 'expendable' ships on fire and run them into docks, convoys, tight groups of ships, and other troublesome enemies. He is estimated to have from two to three thousand men at his command, ready to follow him into any sort of danger.
Jenna's knowledge of pirates proved invaluable here, as she was able to relate several facts about Demmings and his command crew:
Demmings doesn't leave anyone alive from captured ships. Instead he has them thrown overboard or turns them over to his less-than-savory allies for sacrifice or even food. The newly emptied ships are either conscripted into his fleet or sunk after all the treasure and supplies have been extracted.
Captain Demmings is almost seven feet tall and broad shouldered. He is bald, but wears a full beard that is black as a raven's wing. He has a vicious scar that runs from his ear to his nose that he claims to have gotten when pulling the wings off an archon. The Captain likes to dress in browns, perhaps as a foil for his first mate, Mad Addy.
Demmings' flag ship is the Vanessa Rose.
The first mate of the Vanessa Rose is Adalaine Scoldaria, known to the rest of the crew as Mad Addy. She is as ruthless and bloodthirsty as the Captain she serves, and quite often leads the boarding actions against other ships. She always dresses in garish reds and pinks, and all of the blades of her weapons are tinted bright red. Her hair is long and tangled, and her looks usually startle those that see ehr for the first time. She often takes advantage of that shock in battle, allowing her to strike first.
The bosun is the mysterious Bart Trevillier, who is known to have a sadistic streak and a lust for torture.
There are not one, but two mages on board the Vanessa Rose; Eljira ma Farin, and Wallace Fitzhugh. The two are lovers and are rarely out of each others sight. They work well together; Eljira using offensive magic while Wallace concentrates on protecting the ship. The two are a mixed match, Eljira being a large woman, tall and heavy-set with a swarthy complexion, with dark hair and penetrating eyes. Wallac eis aextremely thin and fair skinned with red hair and freckles, giving him a very boyish appearance. They both dress plainly to blend in with the rest of the crew.
Demmings doesn't trust any sort of cleric or holy man, arguing that their devotion to a particular faith will only get in the way at some point, so he has shanghaied a dwarven healer to work on the Vanessa Rose.
After much discussion, it was decided that Atlantia would sail to a remote port and lure Demmings (or at least one of his lieutenants) to port for an ambush. The elvish port city of Feyjounaisse was chosen, and they set sail that same day.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Our singular band of scalawags (you know the ones) decided to crew the Storm themselves, and Captain Shanahan gave them his blessing, as is his wont with captured ships and ambitious crew. Eager from their decision, the crew split apart to various activities in the great city of Midport, mostly to buy supplies or frippery.
Of note is the encounter Dagon had with a demon assassin, who stabbed him a near-mortal hit with a Wounding blade as he staggered from an alehouse. Only his enhanced monastic speed saved him as he bolted to the Bloody Cutlass with the demon in pursuit. Dagon paused not to look, but the demon was nowhere in sight when he nearly flew up the plank to the deck, crying out for Garumph the Cleric.
Dagon thought to skulk about the Cutlass until he could join the crew on the Maelstrom when it set sail, but Shanahan had other plans. He found Dagon astride a barrel of cheap beer and bade him show "whatever it is you have" to Trogdor, the ship's wizard. Having no reason to mistrust Shanahan, Dagon produced the shield given to him by the mysterious monk. After working a few magics and making a lot of noise like "hmm" and "huh" and "aha," Trogdor gave him a brief history of the Shields Against Darkness...
In Year 1 of RKT, the Red King prepared for the inevitable war between the Redlands and its one-time ally, the Dark Domain. He trained his army and navy in tactics specifically for combat against the demons bound in service to the Dogwa, and also made special equipment for such. Using arcane materials such as orichalcum and mithral, and infusing them with his very blood, he created twenty nigh-indestructible shields that would protect the bearer from all manner of demonic assault. He had his trusted lieutenant, Colin of Whitehill, select twenty of the most stalwart fighters amongst his marines, and trained them in demon-slaying.
Most scholars and historians agree that it was tactics such as this that swung the balance in the Turning War. All of the Shield Bearers survived the war, and all are recorded by their superiors in command as having destroyed no less than 3 high-ranking Fiends apiece. Indeed, to this day all Redlander children are told the story of Angus of Dryfield, who killed a Balor with a broken sword... although his use of an enchanted shield is downplayed in the heroic tale.
It isn't entirely clear what happened to the Twenty after the war. Most historians agree that they were put into a vault or safe-away of some sort, but the Red King is not exactly forthcoming on where he hides his treasure-trove of magical artifacts. For certain, there are accounts of the King collecting his artifacts when the war was done, and bestowing various and sundry honors upon the bearers.
Trogdor surmised that however the Shield fell into the wrong hands, the fact that it has the blood of the Red King in it makes it insanely valuable to his enemies. Sadly (from Dagon's point of view) it would be impossible to sell it for it's full value, for to get full value one would have to advertise what, exactly, it is, and that would bring even more agents of Darkness after him... as well as the righteous fury of the Red King. Even to cull a fraction of its value would be a Bad Thing, for if the Dogwa got his filthy clutches on the thing he would weaken the Red King considerably, if not kill him, and cast the Archipelago into darkness once more.
Shanahan seemed somewhat relieved that Dagon was leaving, and in fact bade him to do it right then and there. Softening the blow of such abrupt ejection, he gifted Dagon a magic lantern. "In its light, the invisible becomes visible," said Shanahan. "Good luck to yeh. Now, off my ship."
Dagon collected his effects and strode from the Cutlass, lit lantern in hand. In short order he spied an imp dogging his steps, acting smug and making rude gestures, as if Dagon couldn't see it. He waited til the imp was in arm's reach and felled it with one mighty blow of his hamfist.
Meanwhile, back at the newly-christened Maelstrom, the newly-captained Winston VonWarheit was busily recruiting crew. Having an affinity for the orphaned and downtrodden, he brought on mostly teenage street urchins. While green as saplings, they had quick hands and eager hearts.
Once the ship was fully crewed and supplied, the story of Dagon's artifact was brought to light. The command crew decided it would be best if they simply gave it to the Red King... but oddly enough, the Red King isn't in the habit of entertaining a pack of would-be pirates (no matter how well-meaning they be). With this in mind, they set a goal of handing the Shield over to a high-ranking Redlander noble or general. After all, what else could be expected of them?
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Dagon (named after some ancient sea beast) like many half-breeds, was born of a drunken liaison between an unlikely couple. He was begat by a comely (for an Orc... hey, they can't ALL be hideous) tribeswoman and a missionary man living near the Blue
Being a half-breed, Dagon was treated like an outsider most of his childhood, but like a boy named Sue, he grew tough. He also got in plenty of trouble. Trouble seems to have grown attached to him… remaining attached to this day.
After a while Dagon’s mother had had enough, and sent him to be with his father near the temple. His father, embarrassed by living proof of his dalliance with an orc, wanted nothing to do with him.
Fortunately this problem solved itself. One night while breaking into a liquor cabinet, Dagon was caught by Master Ho, the boss of
Master Ho saw potential in young Dagon and took him as a student.
Master Ho saw potential in young Dagon and took him as a student.
Dagon took to the martial arts training amazingly well... till he started showing up drunk. That’s when whispered rumors started spreading about Dagon being the legendary zuì quán. Master Ho, in an attempt to halt these rumors, initiated a new policy of choosing drunken students as his sparring partner for that day. It took several beatings for Dagon to figure this out, and he stopped showing up drunk (as often).
One day Master Ho had either had enough of Dagon's antics, or decided Dagon had learned enough (or both). He bade Dagon to "take the Tiger and the Dragon." With some fortified wine to "take the edge off," Dagon carried a black cauldron of burning coal down the Graduate Path, thus burning the graduate marque of
As is customary for Acolytes of Blue Mountain, Dagon went forth into the world to seek his fortune.
And he has since found the zui quán way, the rumors were in fact, prophecies...
Jenna Swinesdottir drawn from life by Noggin the Limner of Haimishport, who wishes it noted that the girl demanded to wear the patch though she needed it not.
Pyrates: Their Villainous Ways and Keen Dress Sense
the Honorable Horation hans Splatter QVC, KoT, MVP of Millvesport the White Lands
Being the Tale of Jenna Swinesdottir Wanton, Duelist and Pyrate
Wherein the author will describe how the tale of the notorious pyrate came to be known to him.
Whilst traveling among the stews of our fair capital it is impossible not to hear, from our stout sailing folk, of the singular pyrate Jenna Swinesdottir. She is spoken of in every dark wine-shop and e’en sung of in the fouler dens. She is reputed a deadly blade with hook and slim rapier and her manner much feared for tis said that e’en her own mates know not which way the wind might blow her mind. She is like as naught to skewer a lad as gaze on him and has been known to incite brawls upon a mere whim. Her beauty and youth are much remarked on as are her maniacal moods for she is a wench like the weather, changeable. When not a screaming mad thing, all who speak of her, name her generous with gifts, appealing of manner and e’en a bit naïve. The old salts say she is like unto their granddaughters and the young ones say she can be honey sweet without a care in the world, until she sees fit to become such a raging harridan that no tempest of the sea is like unto her for violence.
Wherein, the author endeavors to detail Jenna Swinesdottir’s body and visage. Being born to swineherds she has their heavy build and stout arms but has been blessed with comely features, more the steeplechase thoroughbred than farmer’s plow horse. She stands a hands-span shy of an unstrung yew bow with red gold hair and eyes the azure of a sea-captain’s coat. Her right hand has been severed at the wrist and in its place is a hook all of the finest silver, with which she is reputed most deft and adept. Her left hand, like as not, is filled with a slim rapier, as handsome as the hook, with which she has gained a repute e’en among hardened orcs and soldiers. She stands fore-square with the devil may care attitude of a rake and yet she is said to be simple as a child in her understanding of the workings of the world outside of booty and bloodshed. She dresses in the finest silks, velvets and calf leather boots topped with the plumed hat of a cavalier tailored by our own White Land’s drapers and milliners, who speak of her rather as generous, than a vagabond thief.
Wherein, the author speaks of the birth, upbringing and history of the notorious pyrate.
Though, tis not the least the manner of the rest of the sea-born villains, Jenna is most forthcoming with her history. Troth, it can be found wherever the willing ear is placed among the seafaring folk. She was born to Hoggle and Omma Swiner, the fifteenth of seventeen children and the only daughter. Hoggle was, and by some accounts is, a swineherd and a prosperous one at that. He is of that breed of sturdy animal husbanders who can coax profit from out of his stock whilst still being a good-fellow-man to those who know him. It seems though he was an indulgent father, toward his only female child, if a tad distant. Jenna’s mother Omma died when Jenna was still in swaddling of an unfortunate and unlikely carthorse, water-well and Maypole accident, more’s the pity. Jenna was raised most by her boisterous brothers and the sailors whom her father took in as lodgers. E’en in earliest childhood she was an unnatural girl preferring the roustabout rumble tumble pell-mell of her brothers play to her own dolls and hoops. By the age of twelve she could climb like a forest pard and was reputed deadly with anything having a point. Though she seems to have been a dutiful child, in her way, a life of herding swine ne’er suited her and her father oft’ let her stay amongst his sailor lodgers and listen to their tales, whilst her many brothers ran the farm. These same salts filled her young head, with shanties and foamy quests, till her mind was fair addled and her speech was as colorful as a hand of fifty years. She began to believe that the life of a seaman, and a pyrate at that, was one of heroic adventure and naught but daring do. She determined that she would live that life and no other.
Upon her fifteenth summer, it being the custom among the islanders that fifteen was the end of childhood and the beginning of adult duties, she set out for the local sea port hard by, bent on becoming a sea-hand. Coming to the first sloop she spied she clambered up the gangway and demanded to be taken on board as an able hand and pyrate no less. The resulting hilarity drove her into an ale house where she chanced on three drunken sailors and their e’en more inebriated companion, a sawbones, or sea-born cleric. Convinced, as she was, that it was her visage, and not her manner, that had reduced the captain and crew of the sloop to tears of mirth, she set about to look more pyratical. She belabored the soused seadogs to have her left hand off and replace it with a hook. So they did after much drink and cajoling but naught could o’ercome them to have her leg off for a wooden peg and her eye out as well, fortunately for the daft lass. At this point the God’s smiled on her, or mayhap had their own jest, for it chanced that that devil of the sea, the scourge of maiden shipping and gunned hunters alike, Shannahan of the Cutlass was in port. He heard of the balmy bint and had her dragged onto his vessel. Jenna Swinesdottir has sailed loyally with him to this very day.
There have been tales, e’en within the month, of this damsel of the deep sailing among ghosts on foul a phantom vessel. She is reputed by a paladin of note to have battled at the side of half-orc and ‘Gyptian minotaur monks within a dank fetid chapel turned to evil. Tales tell of sea drakes and krakens o’er stepping the gunwales of the Cutlass, though, so perhaps Jenna Swinesdottir is drowned and devoured by such beasts. Indeed it is said that she is possessed by spirits, fair haunted by undead pyrate queens and may have died while swashbuckling on Mad Wizard Isle, a place of fearsome and uncanny repute. Among the gnomes it is said that she and her companions have turned pyrate hunters and, with their own vessel, currently rid the seas of other ocean brigands. What e’re the tale, good folk keep ‘ye wary for thy young lads and boy childer, keep them close. If Jenna is still about, and your boys comely, they may yet come to grief or have their manhood’s stolen by this wave-foam harpy, Jenna Swinesdottir, Mad Maiden of the Malestrom.
Laina is a youngish elf—just about of age—with more brains and skills than common sense and a near maniacal determination to avoid boredom.
From the time she was little, Laina’s surname has given rise to consistent rumors about the mythical elven city of
According to myth, a couple of centuries ago an elven wizard named Melesin Silverleaf, along with some number of human wizards, developed a plan to escape the wrath of the Red King. They encapsulated an elven city in the trees with sufficient magicks that no one could ever find it unless the city wished to be found, or the person looking had Silverleaf blood. This way they could keep their home instead of jaunting off to co-opt an island like Sidonie.
From the time Laina was born, she was taught by Xelena that the rumors regarding Silverleaf were myth and legend and foolishness and nothing more.
Xelena had some title bestowed upon her before Laina’s birth by Sidonie, so Laina grew up at Court. Instead of magicks or embroidery or weaving or dressing, however, Laina amused herself by playing tricks. As a little girl, the tricks were understandably juvenile—frogs in the Queen’s Assistant’s soup and such. She started to pick pockets at the age of 15. Laina was never really very interested in the items she obtained AFTER she had them; no matter how valuable or shiny, it was the getting that mattered.
When Laina was 50 years old, her father, a high-ranking functionary and Xelena’s consort of decades, was murdered. Run through with a sword at the wharf in the early hours of the summer solstice. Three years later, Xelena named as consort her most trusted advisor, a human named Kraig. Laina’s half-brother, Christofer, was born soon after that. Laina and Christofer are very close. As reckless and impulsive as Laina is, Christofer is risk averse, careful, thoughtful. Christofer’s been studying with a human wizard living down by the wharf for the past ten years.
Five years ago, Xelena was found dead in the Silverleaf manor. Laina inherited her mother’s title, and she and Christofer have been on their own ever since. Christofer’s father disappeared right after Xelena’s burial, and Christofer believes his father killed Xelena and maybe Laina’s father, Lorin.
Laina’s ostensible occupation is to be beautiful, select a consort, and pretend at petty intrigue at Court. Instead, she pretends at petty intrigue while engaging in major intrigue. Just after her mother’s death, she started robbing merchant vessels in the wharf. She’s been very successful despite the fact that the vessels are still bobbing up and down in the water when she burgles them—Laina is afraid of water, doesn’t know how to swim, and has never been on a boat except to rob it or cause mayhem. Sometimes the burglaries go wrong, and mayhem ensues, violence is wrought, chaos reigns, etcetera, but in the past Christofer has usually managed to smooth that sort of thing over and hide Laina’s involvement.
Laina’s latest major scam is as follows: She’s been disguising herself as a true (male) descendant of Silverleaf and conning noble families (3 so far) out of vast sums of money in the guise of needing it to smuggle the lost Silverleaf treasures into Fejounaise. After her last meeting, she then approached the family she’s stealing from in disguise as a member of the royal secret police, informed them they were being conned by a very important and dangerous criminal, and told them that to aid in the investigation they should give the thief everything he wants. They’ve of course complied, and weekly she goes in disguise as a Silverleaf and extorts more and more money from them on wilder and wilder pretexts. As herself, she’s also having a very torrid love affair with the head of the family she’s conning, the only son of a very high-ranking noble in Queen Sidonie’s court, a high-ranking military man who is consort to one of the Queen’s most trusted confidants. Laina thinks she’s got this whole scam under control, but Laina ALWAYS thinks she has these things under control.
As for love affairs, well, Laina’s goal (as far as Christofer could ever tell) is primarily to pick the MOST inappropriate person she can at any given point.
She loves scandal. She hates frippery although she cleans up nicely. She likes to go to present herself at Court dressed up as a tart or a man, just to get folks talking. She’s too young to be serene about all of the time she has in life to experience and doesn’t have any adult guidance.
Three weeks ago Christofer left Fejounaise to find a particular wizard to apprentice himself to. Laina, being too self-involved to listen overly much, doesn’t know the wizard Christofer was looking for or why. But he was supposed to be back already and she hasn’t heard from him in 3 weeks.
Laina likes to gamble but is terrible at it, especially when she cheats. She fights with swords and daggers, occasionally with a bow, and delights in causing trouble. Right now, though, she’s determined to find Christofer, and is trying to come up with a plan as to how to leave Fejounaise and get some information as to where she should start looking.
Murgosis Meri-Amen-Bull-Ra III - named after his father. Very common
among nobility in
. Means: "beloved ofAmen-Bull-Ra.” Egypt
Overseer of the Middle Realm - An inherited title, entirely ceremonial
Initiate of the Holy Order of Amen-Bull-Ra - His Holy Monastic Order
Administrator of the 'Fighting 5th' - an elevated position within his battle
regiment. 3rd in command.
Murgosis is from the
, where only minotaurs rule and non- landof Egypt
minotaur humanoids that enter it, enter in chains. The humans and elves
(particularly elves) that live in the closest foreign lands are something
of a mystery, and breed a great deal of fear, since they have access to
arcane magics (forbidden in
) and not well understood. Egypt
His family is very well positioned, in that his father is High Priest to
Amen-Bull-Ra, the sun god currently in favor. As such, it was expected that
Murgosis III would follow his father (Murgosis II) in the clergy. Murgosis was
more interested in battle and tactics, and wanted to become part of the
Murgosis allowed his father to push him into the priesthood, but followed
his inclinations and became part of the sect of warrior priests. He is truly
lawful, born in a country where just about everyone unswervingly follows the
authority figure, and believes deeply in the power and righteousness of
. He is happy and well suited as a Fighting Priest of Amen-Bull-Ra
and well convinced of the good of his cause.
On a side note, he's also fallen in love with the sea. Since Egyptian sailing
is mostly up and down the
Nile, this has been a treat for him this year, and
given the choice, would far prefer to live on the sea than dwell on land.
Since being displaced from
(by a sea storm that pulled him, far, far Egypt
from his homeland) he has had to revise alot of his beliefs. He has come
to grips with the idea that the smaller humanoids are not evil, inferior,
plotting the downfall of all religion, or necessarily rife with forbidden magic.
The xenophobic stories the priests have taught him about foreigners are
clearly greatly exaggerated and based on fear. He’s also starting to
believe that the smaller and shiftier looking ones are still unlikely to lay
eggs in his stomach during sleep like in the childhood bedtime tales of his
youth. This shift in attitude has been eased somewhat by very little
exposure to arcane spellcasters or elves among his compatriots.
Separating the fallible priesthood from the divinity they represent is difficult
for any Egyptian, and Murgosis is still faithful to Heifer
Egypt. The stories
about the dangers and evils of magic still ring true to him. Magic has
shown itself to be every bit as dangerous and wicked as the stories tell.
Like many religious people in
, Murgosis has a fondness for cats. Egypt
The Biography of Captain Winston von Warheit
Winston von Warheit was born to adventuring parents: Wanda (Redlander Wizard) & Wolfgang (Whitelander Fighter) von Warheit. Unable to find decent child care, Wanda and Wolfgang took Winston to the office with them. He started off in Wanda's backpack, progressed to toddling along and finally graduated to helping out in menial ways.
The adventuring life was a rough one, but it wasn't all bad. Winston's favorite part of each day was gathering by the campfire and hearing telling after retelling of his parents' (and their adventuring friends') exploits. As people would join and leave his adventuring family, he
heard all sorts of stories. A natural raconteur and blessed with a good memory, he could often retell a tale better its originator after hearing it a couple times.
Alas, the good times were not to last. His parents were killed when he was ten. Winston survived, but he was so traumatized by watching his parents die that he completely blocked them out of his memory. One of the surviving adventurers dropped the traumatized ten year old off at an orphanage in Dule.
Orphanage life was decent. The people there were very nice, especially his 50-100 "brothers" and "sisters" of various races from various places. He also gained an extended family of "cousins" whose stay in the orphanage, while not contemporaneous with his, made them spiritual relatives.
The only bad part about the orphanage was the terrible poverty. To make ends meet, the children helped out by begging, rolling drunks, and scamming every last copper they could from the kind-hearted to the gullible and all points in-between. Winston had a natural affinity
for the work. Once he learned the hustle, he could tell the most heart-rending sob stories.
After a few years, Winston noticed that many of his brothers and sisters didn't fare well after leaving the orphanage. He resolved to do better. At the age of 15, he decided to join the Duleandr navy. This posed two problems. First, he was too young. Second, the life of an enlisted
man didn't seem very glamorous. So, Winston got some forged military credentials and joined a Duleandr ship as an officer. He sailed the seas for two years and served with distinction while learning the ways of the fighting man. At some point, he decided that he'd become bored
with the navy and deserted.
Needing another gig, he chanced upon an old adventuring buddy, Shanahan, who had taken up piracy. Winston found this an appealing option. He never had much respect for the law and his whole life had been about looking out for others: his parents, the adventuring group, his
orphanage, his naval crew. The crew of the Bloody Cutlass would be his new family.
When he joined the Cutlass, his grasp of reality was somewhat tenuous. As a self-defense mechanism, his brain would rewrite painful memories. With his parents blocked out of his mind, the stories of their family adventures became stories of his adventures. Other than the fact
that they couldn't possibly be true ("A two-year-old overthrowing the Warlock Warlord? Nonsense!"), his stories were incredibly vivid and historically accurate. His time in the navy ended due to boredom, not due deserting after hearing a visiting admiral remark, "Who the
hell is Commander Ichluga? I never assigned anyone of that name to this ship!" No one ever raised a valid objection to one of his tales, they just responded with enthusiasm. No matter what, HIS story always had a happy ending.
After some time on the Cutlass, a man claiming to be Winston's father was rescued from the belly of a kraken. Winston denounced him as a fraud and a liar. After all, he'd never had a father. After a few weeks, Wolfgang (his father's name, remember the first paragraph?) had a Heal spell cast on Winston which fixed his insanity. With his brain remembering things properly, he had a tearful reunion with his father.
Around the same time, Winston was elected captain of the newly captured Maelstrom. He drafted a cadre of orphans to crew the ship. He was also reunited with his long, lost half-sister who agreed to sign on.
With his dad manning the guns, his sister by his side and surrounded by his crew "family", Winston sails the seas, searching for a way to bring back his mother and reuniting his family at long last. Of course, he'd also like to amass great wealth so that he can be a benefactor to
orphans everywhere. Maybe even have a few kids of his own some day.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Fist M... er, First Mate: Murgosis
Bosun: Jenna Swinesdotter
Ship's Drunk: Dagon
Storm Priest: Marik Lordstar
Master Gunner: Winston VonWarheit, Sr
Ship's Fiddler: Reis Vestini
Lubber: Laina Silverleaf
Token Native: Ochobo
Other named crew:
Largn, halfling sorcerer
Rachma the Knife, human rogue
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
No one knows how Shanahan came into possession of the Cutlass, how he earned the loyalty of Domi and Squee, how he made the Dread Pirate Blackmar his arch-enemy, or how he garnered an almost-freindly relationship with the Dead Pirate Zakhi. One also may wonder why a man as capable as Shanahan is content with merely the one ship, when he could easily have garnered an entire fleet by now.
What is known is this: Shanahan is human. He stands 6 feet tall, weighs about 14 stone and has dark reddish-brown hair. He has captained the Cutlass for about 10 years. He is vicious with a rapier and has single-handedly slain an adult black dragon that attacked the Cutlass on the high seas. He has a reputation as an honorable man - as much as can be attributed to a pirate, anyway.
In the Darklander port of Drachensgraab, folk whisper of the dread Master of Thieves; a brutish half-orc named Thurgo. He stands near seven feet tall and wields an enchanted spiked chain.
Folk are wrong though. Thurgo is not the Guildmaster. That title belongs to Chamille Miller, a human of Redlander and Islander descent. Chamille uses Thurgo as a mouthpiece and "beard" for the common folk to whisper about. Thurgo will often swagger about the streets, proclaiming his might in plain view, while Chamille watches from the shadows.
Chamille fights with a spiked chain as well. Most times her victims never see the chain coming, let alone Chamille herself. During a battle with the crew of the Maelstrom, she ripped the head right from the shoulders of a hapless wizard and then chose to drop into plain view from the shadows.
Chamille is a handsome woman with red-black hair and light olive skin. She has dark eyes and weighs in near 8 stone.
Twelve leagues north of the Whitelander port of Keghorst, the evil priest known only as Curse Feeder defiled a temple of the sun god and plunged a small island into eternal night. For nigh on twenty years he worked his abominations until the crew of the Maelstrom put an end to his machinations -- but not his life. For when he was felled in combat, there was a flash of obscene red light and an echo of evil laughter, and only a dessicated corpse lay where Curse Feeder had been. Surely, one as evil as he will return to plague the crew once again.
While riding that body, Curse Feeder was a large Whitelander man, standing 6 feet 2 inches and weighing about 15 stone.
Domi, First Mate of the Bloody Cutlass
Domi is a minotaur of few words. When he does decide to speak, his tone ranges from "bellow" to "roar." More often he lets his large fists do the talking. Like Squee, he is unquestionably loyal to Shanahan and has been with him since Shanahan took the Cutlass.
Domi stands 8 feet tall and weighs in at 17 stone.
Squee, bosun on the Bloody Cutlass
Of all the officers on the Cutlass that have been with Shanahan for a good long time, the goblin Squee is the most accessible. When not peering through a spyglass in the crow's nest, he can be found drinking and gaming with the rank and file of the crew. Aside from Shanahan, Squee may be the only person to have a conversation with Domi that lasts more than six words and/or doesn't end with a giant minotaur ham-fist to the jaw. Despite being the most talkative officer, he deftly ignores or deflects questions about the past before Shanahan took the Cutlass. Squee has remained a fine liaison between officers and crew, as he seems to be able to get along with anyone.
Squee is 4 and a half feet tall, and weighs 10 stone.
Zakhi, the Dead Pirate
No one is sure whether Zakhi is indeed undead or merely a necromancer that has complete loyalty of his crew. On the occasions that he is sighted, he can certainly pass for a dapper human. Stories are told of this colorful character across the world, not just the Archipelago, as he is known to sail the seas of Araby and Chin in addition to the local waters. Most tales of his exploits involve the acquisition of magical items, from trinkets of trivial power to mighty artefacts. He is known to keep a bargain, as the crew of the Bloody Cutlass (and later the Maelstrom) know.
When Zakhi was first encountered by the crew of the Cutlass he handed over a live Redlander girl to Captain Shanahan, saying something to the effect that a living, breathing person had no place aboard the Sunrise (Zakhi's war-galley). This was while two zombies that looked suspiciously like the girl's parents were visible as part of his crew. Shanahan treated with him cordially but gave order for battlestations as a precaution.
The second encounter with Zakhi (or rather; one of his agents) was on the island of Grungaark, where a pale man offered them a tidy sum to fetch a magical bauble from a nearby island. They took the job after a bar fight with a few Burning Sands Disciples, noting afterwards that one of the unconcious Disciples had been mysteriously exsanguinated. They then sailed to the uncharted island and after treating with the orcish tribal cheif therein, gained access to a sanctum that was warded against undead.
Guarding the bauble was a Chin man whos skin was the color of slate. After defeating him by breaking his contact with the earth, he was revealed to be a man named Anteus, who had sailed with Zakhi! Furthermore, Anteus was put in the sanctum as part of a curse, for he had no memory of his duty as earth-guardian and gave no recognition of the bauble he was set to guard. It seems he had been guarding it for nearly a century, and the Zakhi he knew would never have captained a ship full of undead. Indeed, as far as Anteus knew, Zakhi's hatred of undead was legendary... in his time.