Lands of Brixia

The Negotiator

Three figures out of a nightmare awkwardly slid from the thick marsh shadows. The humanoid creatures, which appeared to be a sick hybrid between man and frog, stood about shoulder-height, but walked slumped over in their natural state. Large, bulbous, yellow eyes stared, unblinking, at the humans on the path before them.

Mouths, more like gaping slashes, noisily sucked in air, exposing a purplish- pink maw of a mouth, with a worm-like tongue and sharp, needle-like teeth. Draped across their shoulders and hanging down the creatures bodies, were crude leathery harnesses, holding various tools and trinkets. It was apparent that the straps were used more for utility, than vanity. Grasped in bony, webbed hands were wicked-looking short spears and bows of crude, but efficient craftsmanship. The lead creature, in a hopping gait, moved closer, pointing it’s spear towards the corsair’s direction. “Gruouu-uok!”

Tasius, clearing his throat, found himself holding his holy symbol before him. Placing himself in between the two groups, he struggled to keep his voice strong and even, as he had been trained to do. “We mean you no harm, and wish but to continue on our way in peace.” A wisp moved close to his left shoulder, pulsing softly.

The frog-man closest to the priest cocked it’s head to one side for a moment. Its long, slimy tongue quickly whipped out of it’s mouth and caressed an eye, refreshing the orb’s mucous membrane. The wisp next to Tasius began to pulse even more and moved between the man and the frog-thing.

Thrusting it’s squat head foreword, the leader of the things spoke, “Bluu-ok urmool plolp-dvuuk!” Tasius jumped, startled, as a voice almost simultaneously burst from the wisp! “You warm-bloods trespass on our lands!”

Tasius, regaining his composure, quickly answered, “We didn’t know! We are merely trying to travel along the road, to get to the other side of the bog.”

The leader began to tremble slightly, his slimy greenish-grey skin flushing red. “No! Your kind banished us from our nesting grounds long ago, taking it as your own! Now we, the Children of Skolos, have returned to reclaim what is rightfully ours! You may pass, only if you surrender your ‘pk-thuub’; your tools!” The leader thrust his spear towards the wagon.

While Tasius was negotiating with the frog-thing, Savoir began to slowly make his way around, towards the rear of the group of creatures. Better safe, than sorry. He wondered if the creatures could see very well in the dark? Hopefully not!

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Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

Standing up, Tasius patted his stomach. “Well, since we won’t get any more answers tonight, lets just eat and get some rest, people.” Brynhild walked over to the wagon, sitting down with her back against one of the wheels. Tasius grinned as he saw her take a long swig from a large wineskin.

Promptly sitting down between Sursiria and Brynhild, Tasius settled in. “What more can a man ask for, but the company of two enticing women and strong drink!” Reaching out his hand, he smiled gallantly at the North Brixian woman. “May I partake of that fine beverage, madam?”

Brynhild blinked, thinking for a moment, then slowly handed the half-empty skin to the priest. “You are sure you can handle this brew, Tasius? It has quite a ‘kick’ to it.”

Savoir, handed out wooden bowls and spoons to the group and fed more wood to the campfire. He smacked his lips appreciatively. “Sursiria, you may have outdone yourself, this time! I have no idea what you put in it, but this soup smells amazing!”

The elf looked up at Savoir, the barest hint of a smile upon her face. She whispered, “It should suit our needs for the night, I believe.”

With the campfire keeping the night at bay, the companions dug into their bowls, feeling the hot soup warm their insides. Soon the only noises heard were the buzzing of swamp flies and the sounds of eating.

After a while, Tasius wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his robe. “I have had worse- not much worse, mind you- but yes, worse.” He took another long swig from Brynhild’s skin, swirling the liquid around his mouth for a moment, before swallowing. Sursiria, saying nothing, quickly got to her feet and strode into the shadowy foliage. Savoir snickered softly. Looking at the boy, Tasius stood and also quickly walked into the shadows beyond the campfire. Brynhild burped, crossed her feet, and leaned back, closing her eyes, while mumbling something about soft Imperials and strange elves.

Still snickering, Savoir began pouring what remained of the soup into the fire. With a start, he dropped the pot and stood up, looking into the darkness. The fire hissed and sputtered as the soup drained from the tipped pot. Savoir knelt down, creeping away from the fire. As he eased into the darkness, he hissed: “Something’s coming!” Brynhild jumped up, grabbing her iron battle axe; gripping it tightly, with both hands. She cautiously moved towards the road, trying to peer through the darkness.

Sursiria, now standing by the fire, followed Brynhild with her eyes. Tasius, looking a bit flushed, walked towards the campfire, straightening his robes. “What’s going on- ?” Sursiria hissed, between her teeth: “There’s something coming up the road! Be silent!”

Tasius moved a few steps towards the road, hand grasping his the symbol of Vexus. The sound of footsteps began to get louder and louder. Soon a figure burst into view: a man with wild eyes. He ran towards the fire, stopping as he saw Brynhild. “Th-they’re after me! You must help me!” The man was dressed in loose clothing. Savoir noted the man’s corsair boots and the cutlass at his side. Could he be a member of the Crimson Brotherhood?

Tasius stepped forward. “Who are you? And who is after you?” The man licked his lips, nervously, and looked back up the road.

“M-my name? You want to know my name? Very well. I am Renault, and you may call me Ren- if it makes any difference. I was at the city and saw you leave. I joined a caravan headed north, until it was waylaid by bandits. I fled, trying to catch up with you, until those…monsters, back there, attacked me! Now, can you help me?”

Ren reached into his heavy coat, fumbling with something. Savoir tensed, ready to hurl a dagger into the man’s throat. At that moment, flickering into view, three orbs of pulsing light moved towards the group, hovering at chest level above the ground. Ren backed up, pulling his cutlass from its scabbard. “Here they come!”

Sursiria abruptly began to chant words of arcane power, while moving her hands in fluid gestures. A shroud of magical energy draped over her form, from head to toe; shimmering, then fading to an occasional remindful twinkle- like some sort of ominous starlight.

The orbs were the size of a man’s head, with fine, pale-green tendrils, covering their surface. These eldritch hairs seemed to sway gently. As the glowing orbs got closer, barely audible noises could be heard emanating from them. Tasius yelled for all to hear, “Stay still! Perhaps they are not aggressive!”

The wisps swiftly moved closer; two coming within hands-reach of Sursiria, seeming to sniff about her like two curious hounds. The elf stood statue-still as the orbs flitted about her. She could hear the soft, soothing voices of the orbs calling to her. Another orb, the third, moved closer to Ren. The corsair stepped back, almost as if to run, his eyes wide in the light of the fire.

Tasuis looked about, not seeing Savoir anywhere. Swallowing the lump in his throat, he grasped his holy symbol that much tighter. “Everyone remain calm. Perhaps they just are seeing who we are.” He looked at Ren, who was slowly raising his sword-arm back, preparing to strike the wisp. “No! Don’t do it, Ren!”

Renault, with a mighty cry, swung at the wisp, cleanly cleaving it in two. He turned to the companions. “There, you see? It was going to harm me, but I struck first!” He raised his cutlass high into the air. The remaining two wisps began to buzz about, in an agitated state, their hue going from white, to yellow, to orange. “We have them! We ca-” Ren suddenly grabbed at his shoulder, wincing in pain. “Arghh!” An arrow protruded from his upper arm. The natural sounds of the bog suddenly fell silent.

A low, rumbling croaking began. The croaking came closer and closer. Brynhild looked up the road, knowing full well what was about to happen. She shifted her stance, instinctively balancing on the balls of her feet and ready to act. But what appeared from the mists of the bog sent her mind into a spin. Tasius exclaimed, “Gods of Light!”

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Road Trip

It was the second day of their journey and Brynhild was bored. She sighed, gazing at the grey sky overhead. So far this “adventure” the Imperial priest had taken them on was proving to be about as exciting as milking a goat. She looked over at the mead-skin in the corner of the wagon, contemplating whether or not to take a deep drink of the sweet bjorr it contained. Sighing again, the warrior-woman rolled over and took notice of the rest of the party.

The young boy-man, Savoir lay wrapped in a woolen blanket, softly snoring; his unkempt brown hair the only thing visible . Brynhild snorted softly. He hadn’t moved in so long that he may either be asleep or dead in there. That young man was definitely a loner. He never talked about any family or other acquaintances. But he had proven himself in battle and was no coward- and that was enough for Brynhild- for now.

Brynhild’s eyes shifted further up the wagon. Sursiria, the high elf sorceress sat alone on the second wagon bench, behind the priest. That one, on the other hand, never seemed to sleep very much- if at all! The elf sat straight as a sapling, even though the wagon swayed as it moved. Even though Sursiria faced towards the front of the wagon, Brynhild could clearly imagine the scowl on the elf’s face. By the Ascended!- That one was even more secretive than Savoir! The only elves Brynhild had ever heard of, or even seen glimpses of, were of the Winter Court of the North. And they were not to be trifled with! But exactly where Sursiria came from- and why, was still a mystery.

At the head of the open wagon, trying his best to urge the horses along, sat the priest, Tasius. Brynhild had little use for those who called themselves “chosen of the gods”. In her mind, all mortals were pawns of the Greater Powers, whether priest or pauper. She had only known Tasius for a very brief time, as Savoir claimed him as a trusted acquaintance, even going so far as to say that the priest had possibly saved his life.

Brynhild wrinkled her nose. What was that smell? Sitting up, she kicked Savoir’s foot. “Is that you, reeking up the air?” Savoir leaned up, sleepily. “Wha?”

The priest partially turned in his seat, and called back to the rear of the wagon.“We’re going through some sort of bog. The rotting plants and swamp-gas is what you smell, woman.” He glanced at Sursiria, who was dozing in the seat, behind him. “Wake up, fair one!”

Sursiria jumped, now fully awake, looking about. Calling back again, Tasius asked: “Savoir, do you know of this area?”

The wiry youth rubbed his eyes, looking around. “Are we still on the Coast Road, Tasius? If so, the village should be fairly close by- but I don’t know anything about a stinky swamp.”

Standing up, using the wagon reigns for balance, Tasius stood up, attempting to peer through a thickening mist. “Yes, we should still be on the Coast Road, but this fog is growing thicker by the minute and I should probably let the horses rest.” He glanced at the road behind them. "Let’s stop here for the night.

As Tasius fumbled with the reigns, guiding the wagon to the side of the road, Brynhild sprung from the rear of the wagon, landing lightly on the spongy ground. Once the wagon was far enough off the road, Tasius stiffly climbed down and offered a hand to the elf Witch. Sursiria sniffed and stubbornly climbed down on her own accord, tightly clutching her hooded robe about her thin frame.

Grinning, Tasius turned to the group. “Perhaps we should camp here for the night, instead of going through this rotten bog, eh?”

Brynhild shrugged, rubbing her hands together. “Fine by me, I could go for a bite to eat, anyway.”

“Excellent, I can gather some decent firewood, and the women can prepare us something to eat.” Sursiria frowned, glaring at Tasius.

Savoir, standing, spat. “‘Merde’! I’ll go with the Priest- if only to keep him out of any trouble!”

The two young unlikely heroes turned west, walking into the waist-high grasses. Once the two had disappeared from sight, Brynhild turned to Sursiria. “So, what’s for dinner?”

Tasius peered through the thickening mists, toeing through the damp grasses. Every step left a soggy footprint in the soft, wet ground. Savoir, sighing, hopelessly swatted at the fat gnats and mosquitoes that hungrily buzzed about his head. What a waste of time this was.

“Tasius, perhaps I can find us some berries or something to eat, eh?” Tasius shrugged. He knew nothing about foraging in the wilds for food. Savoir’s eyes scanned the grasses for anything that looked remotely edible.

Coming to an abrupt stop, Tasius called out. “Savoir, what’s that?” He pointed up ahead. Overgrown by grasses and weeds, lay the wreckage of an overturned trade-wagon. Savoir licked his lips. Perhaps this had been a good idea! Trade-wagons usually carried something valuable!

Walking cautiously up to the wagon, the two examined the wreckage. Savoir picked through the rear of the wagon, while Tasius looked near the front. Every so often, Savoir would look over his shoulder, peering into the encroaching darkness.

“Well, Savoir, what do you make of this?” Looking over at his travelling companion, Tasius’ brow furrowed. “The wagon has been emptied. No bodies, no nothing. And by the looks of things, this wagon has been here for awhile.”

Savoir looked back towards the campsite. He could just see the flickering, smoky campfire through the oppressive bog mists. “Let’s just get some wood from this wagon and get back to the camp. It’s obvious that there is nothing worthwhile here.” He bent down, grabbed an armful of wagon debris and turned to walk back towards the camp. Tasius, filling his arms as well, fell into step behind Savoir and the two quickly made their way back.

Brynhild watched as Sursiria slowly stirred herbs into a steaming pot of water. The warrior-woman leaned closer to the pot, wrinkling her nose. “What’s in there?”

Sursiria rolled her eyes. “Water and herbs.”

Leaning even closer, Brynhild peered in the pot. “It looks a bit…thin. Perhaps I can find something to add to it?”

Sursiria stared at Brynhild for a moment.“You are not putting any dead animals into this pot. Are we clear?” With a smirk, Brynhild stood and walked over to the wagon. At that moment Savoir and Tasius appeared from the mist, bearing wood for the campfire.

Tasius grinned. “Ah, the fire has started and dinner shall be ready soon! We arrive bearing gifts!” He placed the wood next to the campfire and kneeled down. Savoir placed his bundle of wood down. Looking in the small pot, he scratched his head. “Whut’s in there?”

Before Sursiria could form a venomous reply, Tasius interrupted. “Look at this!” He held a piece of wood from the destroyed wagon in his hand, turning it towards the light of the campfire. A wicked-looking arrowhead was imbedded in the soft wood. “Has anyone seen anything like this before?”

There was no immediate reply, but Brynhild moved closer, taking the piece of wood from Tasius’ hand. Easily pulling the arrowhead from the wood, she held it closer to the fire, paying no mind to the scratch the arrowhead made on a finger.

“It’s not Orcish or Goblinoid; at least not any that I have seen from the North.” She turned the arrowhead around. “The bronze craftsmanship is very crude, but effective. See how jagged the head is? That is intentional.”

Savoir, quickly growing bored with the tutelage on arrowheads, slipped away, towards the front of the wagon. Returning to the fireside, scant moments later, Savoir eased next to the pot, as Sursiria continued to stir; her attention focused on the ongoing discussion. When Brynhild finally handed the arrowhead back to Tasius, Savoir was kneeling on the opposite side of the fire, his arm barely concealing the goofy grin covering his face.

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Almost Drafted!

After their strange encounter at the Skolos family crypt, Maysor, Savoir and Tasius agree to meet at the Outer City Coast Gate, the next morning. Tasius, hearing no word from the Hedge-Knight, Maysor , takes Maysor’s horses and wagon to the Coast Gate- arriving just before sunrise.

In short order, young Savoir walks up, with the High Elf Witch, Sasiria, in tow. Merchants and farmers begin to slowly fill the cobbled street, loudly hawking their wares. Sursiria, impatient as ever, holds out her arm, as Tasius , grinning like a schoolboy, helps her up into the wagon. After surmising that he would get no word of thanks, Tasius began securing the party’s supplies.

Savoir, never one to do too much work, leaned up against a wagon wheel, taking in the scenery and breathing in the cold, salty, morning air. Savoir sighed; first light in Athos was always a sight to behold. Sunlight shimmered off of the calm Outer City canals. The city seemed to be at peace now- at rest. In a scant few hours, it would awaken; turning into a surging, hungry beast.

“Heya, boy!” Savoir turned around, as a pair of Athos City Militia walked up to the wagon.

The older of the two guardsmen walked up to Savoir, as the other caught sight of Sursiria, stopping to lean up against the wagon. Savoir took a step back, glancing around. The older guardsman pointed a thick, stubby finger in Savoir’s chest.

“You, ‘gazzo! What’s your name, eh?”

Savoir, looking up at the guardsman with puppy-eyes, grinned. “Who, me?”

The guardsman leaned in towards Savoir, eyes narrowing. “Don’t play games with me, you little merda! How old are you?”

Seeing no way out of the situation, Savoir answered hesitantly: “Seventeen summers, give or take!” Where this conversation was going, Savoir had no idea.

“Are ye in a trades-guild or merchant-guild? I can look at ye and see that you belong to no noble house, although you don’t appear to be a street urchin!” The guard sniffed. “You don’t smell like no urchin either!”

Savoir patted his pockets, pretending to search for something. “I-I seem to have misplaced my guild-papers somewhere…”

“You had better find something, ‘gazzo, or you’ll be serving your two years of guard duty- just like all the rest your age!”

Sursiria glared straight ahead as the younger guardsman grinned up at her. Turning to Tasius, the guard belched. “Hey! Are you part of a trade caravan?”

Tasius tried to keep a straight face as he turned to the guard. “Nope, we’re headed north. I am on a mission of the Church of Vexus. That’s why I am wearing priestly robes, you see.”

The guardsman blinked. “Erk! My apologies, your holy-ship! I didn’t realize-!”

Sursiria let out a long, impatient sigh. The guardsman, reminded of his original interest, turned again to the elven woman.

“Lemme see your face. I bet you are very pretty under them robes! No disrespect, your honor-ness, of course!” He nodded towards Tasius. “Uh, she isn’t no priest is she? I sure hope not!”

Tasius snickered softly and cleared his throat. “No, she is not a woman of the cloth. In fact, she may put a hex on you. She is the companion of the boy.”

If Tasius could have seen Sursiria’s eyes, he would have seen them smolder with anger at his words. The city guardsman turned in surprise, looking at Sursiria, then Savoir. With a whimper, the guard spat on the ground and quickly spun around three times.

“The mage-woman is with that one? Why, he still has his mother’s milk behind his ears!” The guardsmen called over to his partner, who was still interrogating Savoir.

Savoir groaned as the second guard came quickly walking over. He looked up at the sky. Why, by the gods, why? The younger guard walked up to Savoir, grabbing him by the arm.

“Manny, the priest says that this runt is the woman’s lover! He also said that the woman is a mage! Have you ever heard of such a thing, eh?” The older guard looked at the younger for a moment, then slowly turned to Tasius. Tasuis grinned, holding his holy symbol up so it shone in the morning sun. The older guard softly cursed and smacked the younger guardsman on the neck, with a ‘whack’!

“Our apologies, your holiness! Forgive us for delaying you this long. May the gods watch over you!” Then, turning to Savoir, the guard whispered: “We will meet again, boy. And when we do- watch out!” Then the two men walked up the street, into the thickening crowd.

As he climbed into the front seat of the wagon, Tasius wondered what had happened to Maysor. He hadn’t known the man-at-arms for very long, but it still seemed strange that he disappeared without a trace. Had this city swallowed him up, as it did so many others? With a groan, the wagon leaned to one side. The warrior-woman, Brynhild heaved herself into the back of the wagon.

“Let’s get this trip underway!” Grinning, she gingerly placed her pack and a worn wine-skin next to her feet, on the wagon’s floor. Through a mouth full of bread, she mumbled: “Anyone hungry?”

And with a flick of the reigns, Tasius led the horse-drawn wagon through the Coast Gate and out of the city of Athos.

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Vexus Has A Special Curse...

Coming soon…

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I Found It In a Dung Pile...

The hedge-knight Maysor Loreth has met with Under-Marshal Severus; who is located at Solis Hall, in the Citadel District of the city. Marshal Severus has instructed Maysor to take an open wagon with two horses and go to the Coin District. There he is to find the area known as the Circle of the Gods- where most of the city temples are located. He is to find the Imperial Priest Hellvius Gallus, at the Temple of Vexus. Priest Gallus will have tasks for Maysor to perform. Once done, Maysor is to return to Solis Hall.

Meanwhile, Brynhild has entered the Winter’s Eve games, in the hopes of testing her mettle and gaining a bit of coin.Sursiria is still catagorizing the roots and herbs she discovered, while in the forest, a week earlier. And Tariq the Bard, has travelled west, heeding the call of the Bard College in the city of Hawkspire.

Savoir Voler has been having disturbing nightmares as of late. Visions of people in the dark, clawing at the clay walls that surround them. Prisoners of the shadows! He has also noticed that the old gold ring that he “aquired”, from an abandoned satchel in the forest, looks to actually be in the form of a small frog with two green gems as its eyes. Did he really see the frog’s eyes softly glow last night?

Three weeks prior, Tasius the Initiate arrived at the City of Athos, via caravan. One of the caravan’s stops was at the village of Gafolweed. A priestess by the name of Caelia left the caravan to be of spiritual help to the village, and to restore a Wayshrine, dedicated to the Ascended, Zann.

The Priests of Caelot city felt that Tasius would be able to concentrate more on his calling, without the familiar carnal distractions that Caelot had to offer. Since his arrival in Athos, Tasius has followed divine instruction and holy direction from the Priest, Helvius Gallus. Tasius’ days have been very boring and dull, as he is rarely allowed out of Priest Gallus’ sight. The long hours of copying scrolls, cleaning the temple and collecting offerings is starting to wear Tasius’ threadbare patience even more thin- if that’s possible.

One day, Priest Gallus called Tasius to the temple courtyard. ’My son, there is a matter of importance I need you to attend to. I have yet to hear from Sister Caelia. She was to have arrived by now. For the past 4 nights, I have had the same dream: Helpless people- children amongst them- clawing at dirt walls, which imprison them. And poor Caelia stands there, helpless to do anything…

’Tasius, I want you to find out what has happened to Caelia and bring her back here. I have made arrangements for you to accompany an expedition to the village of Gafolweed. Gafolweed is situated on the northern road which travels along the coast. Going along with you will be a noble man-at-arms from a local Imperial Order.

‘I was once stationed at Fort Moonmoth with Marshal Severus, who is now the senior Solis Order member here in Athos. He is sending a man-at-arms of the Order here, at my request. This man will accompany you to the hamlet.’

In the meantime, young Savoir went to visit the old Aksumite charm-dealer in the Great Market, Ardoma, to see if she could give him some insight into the mysterious, cursed “frog” ring. Unfortunately, she could not. Instead, she directed Savior to the Mage’s Guild, in the Coin District.

Upon reaching the Guardsman Road Gate, which leads to the Coin District Bridge, Savoir was ordered to “stand and deliver” by two city Shieldsmen. After initially heckling them, Savoir produced a Silver Writ of Passage and was allowed to continue on his way. One of the Shieldsmen made note of Savoir, vowing that they would ‘meet again in the near future’.

At the Mage’s Guild, Savoir met with an Imperial woman named Julienne Fannis. Julienne appeared to be a White Mage. She confirmed that the ring Savoir wore was indeed hexed, but had no knowledge of the history of the item. She directed him to the Circle of the Gods. Perhaps he could get a Priest there to remove the hex…

Upon arriving at the temple, Savoir saw the hedge-knight Maysor talking to a pair of priests- one elderly and the other not too many years older than Savoir himself. Savoir, walking up, asked the elder priest- now known to be Priest Gallus- if he knew anything about the hexed frog ring and Savoir’s nightmares. Gallus did! He once again told the young trio of the nightmares he had also been having. He also told them of the cursed family and that they still held a crypt in the Athos City Catacombs- in the Citadel District.

The frog ring that Savoir has been wearing, turns out to belong to a noble family whose cursed line died out many generations ago. The family’s name was Skolos. They have a mausoleum in the city cemetery. The Skolos family was rumored to have dabbled in Nether or Void magics. As the ring belonged to Otho Skolos, it too is cursed.

Quickly becoming bored with the retelling of Priest Gallus’ tale, Tasius suppressed a yawn and began to focus intently on any woman walking by. Tasius jumped as the old priest sharply flicked his ear! ‘Boy! You had better pay attention! Now I want the three of you to go to the city catacombs and find the Skolos family crypt. Perhaps there may be clues there to shed some of Vexus’ light on this dire situation!’

Tasius suggested that Maysor leave his wagon and horses at the temple, while they explored the Catacombs. Maysor hesitantly agreed and off they went.

At the Catacombs, Tasius, used his station as both a noble and a priest to get the slacking groundskeeper, to assist them in locating the proper crypt. The dirty, snaggle-toothed man rudely insisted that someone sign the cemetery’s visitor ledger. After reprimanding the slacker for his rude behavior, Tasius signed his name, with a flourish- noting the name that had been signed before his: Herasten. The groundskeeper, now well aware of the station of his guests, humbly offered his services and began to pepper them with his grovelling.

Once in front of the crypt, after many long, frustrating minutes of searching, Maysor and Tasius stepped to the side, to have a conversation about Savior and what Maysor thought were his ‘questionable’ activities. While the hedge-knight and initiate-priest conversed in whispers, Savior chatted up the groundskeeper, eventually tossing him 5 silvers while daftly pocketing what he thought was the key to the crypt.

While Savior was detaining the groundskeeper from his duties, Tasius impatiently examined the crypt doors. They were made of stout oak, with thick, heavy iron hinges and pins. There would be no way to force their way in- or out, if necessary.

The unknowing shirker was still able to open the Skolos crypt, with another key, leading Savior to surmise that he may have pilfered the master-key to the entire cemetery! The groundskeeper hurredly bade the group a good day and rushed off to presumably nap the rest of the day.

Once the heavy wooden and iron crypt doors were opened, Maysor stuck his head inside and quickly proclaimed that they would need torches or some other light source. He made his way to the groundskeeper’s run down hovel, interrupting the man as he drank sloppily from a bottle- breath reeking of cheap, sour wine. Maysor brusquely commandeered an oil lantern from the sheepish groundskeeper and once again walked back to the crypt.

Taking a last glance at the slowly sinking mid-afternoon sun, the three entered the musty, dank crypt.

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Letter to Masor

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Worthy of note

They did not notice him in the tavern, which was good. Baros was a non-descript South Brixian which lent itself to situations such as these. He had received word of an Elvish woman and was told to shadow her and her retinue and report back the findings to a Priest named Calder Morningsun. The woman wrapped and veiled was obviously the mark, however she appeared to hover about a table with a number of other folk; a mix of races and professions it seemed. Baros relaxed and let the scene play out…his eyes watching, his mind moved and connected information at an incredible rate:

A young Aquitanian male, dressed non-descriptly, almost too much so. Most likely a member of the Hand in this area, though probably a low rank earner. Note face to match against anyone wanted for anything in the dock areas.

A young Imperial clad in armor. The disdainful look on his face marks him as one of privilege, however there has to be a reason why he is in this dive of a tavern. He keeps looking at his coin purse, so it is unlikely that he understands these surroundings…definitely a noble. Hands look a bit calloused, so the sword is more than for show. Where is his heraldry? A warrior noble not showing heraldry is either trying to hide, or running from something. Perhaps someone will speak his name, though i can barely read his lips from here…

A young Shakadian? Aksumite? No, that one is an Imperial as well, though dark of skin and obviously of some mixed heritage. The laniard on his arms marks him as a Courrier Bard…wait, he just passed the noble a communication. Unfortunate that I cannot see a seal from here. Ahh, this one is a Bard, but is he a True Bard or a pretender?

A North Brixian woman who seems quite…hungry. Her body language is against the group, so maybe she isnt truly a part of the gathering? Her physique is very statuesque, though scarred. She has an easy confidence in her eyes, the confidence that comes from being a killer of men. I don’t see any Clan markings on her though, maybe she is hiding. She looks familiar though…

And back to the mark…knowing what I know about Elves from Vaellen and Cercer, she appears to be ill at ease. High Elves like Vaellen and Wild Elves like Cercer have totally different body language and hers favors Vaellens. Ha! Nothing can mask the stature of a haughty High Elf, its like they were born with a fence pole up their ar…! Wait, who is that?

Hmmm, interesting. It appears as though the young Aquitanian is NOT part of the Hand, either that or there is some internal squabble going on. Mental Note: Check with Hand contacts about the Docks District. Funny, the tall greasy man tried to lick the Elf-Girl’s face…if looks could kill her gaze would’ve turned him to stone quicker than a cockatrice’s feather pillow. Dammit to hell, this place is too smoky…my eyes are burning and i cant read their lips…

…better, fresh…or as fresh as the docks air gets. Perhaps i should just wait out here for them to leave and follow them, though at this time the stalls are clearing and I would be much more obvious. Sigh, I shouldve gone west with Argus and Cercer…the look on Argus’ face would have been priceless when he met his enstranged daughter, or at least that is what the bar-girl told him. Argus can be so trusting at times…

Wait, the thief is leading the noble toward the Crooked Alleyway. I guess the young noble has a desire to get robbed and shanked under the watchful eye of the Disc of Viva. The thief’s body language isn’t overly tense though, so he must not be leading into an ambush, but still…that would leave the Elf and the bard inside with the Clanswoman.

Baros was no mere Shadower, but a decorated Agent of the Empire. He hated working for the Church, but if the security of the Empire is being threatened by this waifish Elf, then it was of the utmost importance to find out who she is and what she is about…

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Insuferable Humans (Speaking as Sursiria)

(Brixian Calender

I should have known that coming to this forsaken city in Aquitania was a horrible idea. Traveling with caravans to and from villages and towns has dulled my wisdom. I arrived amidst the hustle and stench of the place as did so many others. A mysterious old lady with knowledge of herbcraft tricked me into a visit to one of the local stenchfests known as a tavern. I thought perhaps that I could acquire some more information from the old lady before her inevitable demise in the not too distant future. After sitting at a table with complete strangers due to the foul human penchant for breeding like rabbits, some halfwit spilled cat urine and got some of it on my robes!

At some point amidst the cacophony, several humans became more prominent to my observations. The first one seemed to be some kind of dark haired armored warrior with a need for snobbery towards those who could easily be his peers or betters. Hopefully he proves to be better in combat rather than as an example of grace and nobility amongst his kind. It should also be noted that this one seems tied to some barbaric code of honor. The second was a man of dark complexion who wore garb indicative of people from the southern deserts. He seemed to be a little more charming than the first. However, I also get the feeling that he is less trustworthy. The next which caught my attention seemed to be a strange specimen of the species. His flamboyant facial hair seemed to be covering up something. He possibly has knowledge of magic or of ways of being unseen since he seemed to appear out of nowhere. The last human of interest was the northern warrior woman. A heavy axe sat near her table while she devoured several plates of burnt animal flesh. She seems the kind to value action over words – a sentiment which I can respect.

The mysterious old lady who had accompanied me began acting in a strange and nervous manner. I tried to inquire as to what her problem was. However, she spoke some nonsensical riddle about life lessons and stood up to leave. I was tempted to use sorcery in order to attune my senses to otherworldly events and entities. However, such a display would have brought undue attention from the nearby filthy hordes. Finally, some uncouth thug made his way to the table at which I sat and decided to make some absurd accusation concerning my presence and associating with the four previously mentioned. He acted like a dunghill goblin with too great an estimation of his importance in the cosmos. He demanded an absurd amount of silver from us by tomorrow under the cover of some implied threat. Because of his stupidity, It seems he intends to follow up on his threat. Finally, the creature tried to lay his mouth upon my face. Thankfully, I deftly avoided his clumsy assault. Now, due to these insufferable circumstances, I’m bound in a form of an alliance to the other four humans. Hopefully, the matter can be resolved as quickly as possible and I can leave this sad excuse for a city.

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A chance meeting
Journal of Mero 5E Day 243

It took me two days of travel to find the nobleman Maysor in a low rent tavern in Aquitania. Not that I am above such things, as I am not, however the place has the look and feel of the low rungs of the Gray Citadel where a person’s life is barely worth 2 silvers. I am in my Tariq persona, as this is what the Bard’s know me as…all except for Kahlia, but none know’s where she wandered to.

Anyway, upon delivery to the stuffy nobleman clad in armor (who refused to give me a tip by the way until i specifically asked for one), he charged me to wait while he read the writ and asked me about some location within the city. The nerve of nobles, to think that everyone is at their beck and call, however i digress and held my tongue while he slow wittedly read aloud (the sign of a true lowbrow).

The tavern looked to be a good place to spin a story, perhaps the one about the Prince and the Salamander is always a good one and could possibly earn some much needed coin, but I fell into a table group due to the overcapacity of the tavern. I protected my coin purse of course, I know the tricks…of course i do.

I observed a robed woman whose accent screamed that she was of Elvish blood, but which one i didnt know. She was quite brusque for such a delicate thing. With her was an old woman that made my hackles stand on end. I couldnt place the problem and nothing seemed out of the ordinary with her, but there was a definite wrongness. There was also a youngish man, who appeared to be some guild apprentice of some sort as he wasnt dressed poorly, yet he wasnt dressed richly. I did observe that his eyes darted about furtively as he took in the entire room, almost as if he were sizing it up. I did not see The Mark on his wrist, so if he were a Toad, then he was unaffiliated. Ah well, more loss for him…if i remember correctly Freelancers as they were called were required to give up 75% of their take.

Then there was the North Brixian woman…what a specimen she was! I bet she could break me in half, and with sufficent Addleberry Wine I would let her! She truly is magnificent, with arms and legs corded like a tree. She didnt speak much and ate and drank so I would mark her as some type of mercenary of some sort. There had to have been something to bring a barbarian like her into the city.

Then things went south, quickly. A loudmouthed Affiliated approached us and made some broad assumptions that we all were friends or colleagues and believed that we were taking the Elf woman to a boat somewhere here on the docks. He is asking 500 silvers for his extortion fee. I whispered the code word that identified me as a Worker, but he ignored it so it probably stands to reason that his gang is acting of its own accord. I’m sure he will kill us if we don’t pay or try to run. I need to ingratiate myself with the warrior woman (as much as possible…ahem!) and the noble as they offer the best chance of covering my arse. The young man may have connections that I need and the Elf may have some grimoires that I may be able to make off with. I havent met an Elf yet that couldnt toss a spell or two.

Tariq will need to check in at the Courrier’s Ward to acknowledge delivery of his charge within the next three days. Until then, I need to observe and record.

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