Stranded in fantasy
Inspired by a derivative of the copypasta that gave rise to the 4chan Archipelago, and written by /tg/ writefag 008, Stranded in Fantasy started on the January 18th, 2012, and completed on January 31st, 2012.
The story is copied here, but you can read it on the sup/tg/ archives, which are listed at the bottom of this page.
It's about a group of humans from our world who get hypno-suckered into some plot-device portals that land them in a city in a world where D&D is reality. It is not glorified in any way - its eleven humans in a world of elves, dwarves, orcs and other humans, and they have no money, no powers (to begin with...) and are shit out of luck. Some of them get killed, some enslaved, with a few lucky ones--including the narrator--just barely surviving.
Then shit gets awesome.
Later the iPod is accidentally turned into a tiny golem that blasts random music everywhere. All anons agreed: the tomb of that artificer will be guarded by similar golems that will leap out at looters and rickroll them.
- Alex: Wild Magic Sorcerer
- Marcus: Bard
- Jason: Rogue
- Journal Writer: Psion
- Mike: Warlock
- Avery: Cleric
- Ian: Duskblade or Arcane fighter
- Max: Wizard
- Austin: Artificer
- Dan: Dead
- Amanda: Dead
Non-Terran Party Members:
- Raina: Silver dragon, Marcus's wife.
- Nathan Ka'tzakon: Marcus's son, Half dragon.
- Marika Hajna: Airship Pilot.
- Cherri Carnett: Warlock, Mike's girlfriend.
A fully formated archive of the story is not currently available.
A partially formatted word doc is available here: https://mega.nz/#!l1cGQKyL!vKT6n6W7MLeJUMZrqL-u2RC2lKd7dOCYRnlWH6yVQ7k
Journal Entry 1
Well, here I am. I don't know why I'm bothering to keep this journal, only a handful of people in this place will be able to read it when I'm gone. For peace of mind I suppose. Where to start. It was another typical day of doing nothing, trying to get work and keeping myself entertained. I'm not sure what happened, but suddenly there was a voice in my head telling me I had to prepare. Before I knew what was going on, a doorway, a portal opened up in my living room. Round, glowing and beyond, a city of some sort. It looked positively medieval. Stone and wood buildings, strange people, some not human. A fantasy world. Somehow I knew I had 30 minutes before it closed. It felt like a dream and perhaps that's why I went through. I thought it was a dream, it seemed the logical thing to do at the time. I don't know why. At least I had the presence of mind to grab what I could and not just hop through. What a catastrophe that would have been. So here I am, where ever here is. I guess I should find out and see what's going on.
Journal Entry 2
What the fuck was I thinking? So here I am. In some fucking fantasy world. Magic and everything. Shortly after I arrived, that dreamy feeling fell off and the reality of the situation has hit. I'm stuck here and I don't know why. I'm not alone though, there are a handful of others in the same situation. We're all foreigners here, stranded and effectively homeless in this place with no idea why. Speaking of this place, It's called Rosenbridge. I have no trouble communicating with the locals, but I can't read their language. They use some squiggly shit that makes no sense to me. I think spoken language is just being translated for us at this point. Rosenbridge is apparently a town in a trade hub connecting several larger cities. Kind of a place were the different races of this world pass through. I've seen Elves, Dwarves or Gnomes, some lizard.. thing and some others that I'm not entirely sure of outside of the more common humans. I'm kind of creeped out to be honest. Anyways, we're all camped out in some alleyway near the outer wall of the city.
Journal Entry 3
Well, I just witnessed some magic. It was pretty spectacular, but I guess it's a common thing as the locals didn't seem to give mind. Some guy in robes doing some display in the town square. Burst of light, movement of hands and mumbling and boom. I'm not entirely sure what happened. Alex, one of the people that's in the same situation as me, was going to see if he knew anything about why we're here. Fucking wizards man. There's what I estimate to be several thousand people milling about the markets. I don't know why, but for the first time I feel intimidated by a crowd. I get an odd overwhelming feeling. I think it's stress. I may be starting to lose it. God knows Avery hasn't fucking stopped crying since we found her and gathered up in the alleyway.
Journal Entry 4
Well, Alex's wizard friend had no ideas and didn't seem the least interested according to him. Fucking wizards. Anyways, caught some kid groping at my ass, I think he was looking for a coin purse. The local's don't seem to actually have pockets on their clothes, everything is carried in little pouches. Anyways, pistol whipped the little fucker off his feet and took off. I wish I had money, I'm starving and none of us have anything worth trading. Thieving or begging may be in our future, or prostitution if things get desperate. What the fuck is going on.
Journal Entry 5
So Rosenbridge. It's apparently mostly built on some massive ancient bridge that's over a river leading to the ocean. Part of the trade routes coming through are by boat, this is apparently the stopping point as it gets too shallow or rapids or something beyond this. Spent some time at the waterfront. Managed to swipe some bread. It was rock hard and tasted terrible but fuck was I hungry. This is the first time I've come to know real starvation. It looks like the others have found something to eat. Someone, I think Max, said that there was a church that gave donations to the poor. We'll have to check that out.
Journal Entry 6
There's some carnival in town today. Strange foods, acrobatics displays and showy wizards. Alex has been hanging around the wizards and observing. I think he's going to try and figure out this magic stuff. Best of luck to him. Anyways, checked out that church, it's a bunch of sun worshipers. They give some kind of oatmeal slop once a day to the poor. It had no taste but it was filling at least. The chick giving the handouts seemed surprised at the sudden influx of hobos in town. Namely us. We've decided to stay tight lipped about our origins for now. Don't need any more trouble. Hung around the carnival for most of the day but didn't have any coin for the real shows. Entertainment's been slim. My mp3 player battery has been dead more than it's been charged. The solar charger I brought with me is slow as hell.
Journal Entry 7
Jason got mugged today while he was pissing behind some tavern. Lost everything. Luckily we found most of it in a heap by the waterfront. Unfortunately the screen on his Kindle is cracked now. Alex has been gathering up some stuff from just outside town. Grass, leaves, some kind of flower. He says he wants to try one of those carny wizard spells he spent all day watching. Some kind of ingredients along with vocal and hand motions are involved. We're not sure if the hand motions and vocal parts are required or just something for the show. I guess he'll figure out in experimentation. He has some hardon for learning the local's magic. I don't think we can, we're not from this world.
Journal Entry 8
So some guard comes around our alley and starts bullying us around. Turns out he wants some people to work on the docks for a few copper coins. Most of us went for it. Money. I did as well. Backbreaking work moving crates and sacks and shit to and from boats and on to carts. My arms hurt and will probably hurt more tomorrow, but we've got money and it's not illicit money either. I think Amanda was just another day from whoring herself out to the locals. I think she's a bit too chubby for that to work out though. The locals are all malnutrition thin (peasants) aside from the rich/nobles/merchants which are a bit pudgy
Journal Entry 9
Oh god what am I doing here? I've been working my ass off at the fucking docks all week just for a pittance and it's barely enough to survive. Plus I'm dodging thieves and guards looking for a beatdown all day and night. I hate this place. What the fuck was I thinking?!
Journal Entry 10
So while I'm writing, sitting on the edge of the fountain in town, some guy comes up and seems incredibly fascinated in my pen. It's a bic ballpoint, blue. He said he was some kind of artificer and wanted to know all about it, so I gave him the basics. Ink in the tube drains out and on to the little ball. I'm not sure how they work beyond that. I sold one of my least chewed on spares to him for two gold coins. I think that's a lot.
Journal Entry 11
Alex is in a coma. He tried doing that magic shit today. We sat down to watch.. at a safe distance and he did the hands thing and said the words, had the materials and then.. he grunted and fell over. He was out for a few hours before we realized he didn't just faint. We dragged him to the sun worshipers temple and they're taking care of him for now, they have some sort of clinic going on. I don't know the details. I spilled the beans to the priest, that we're from offworld. He got this weird look in his eyes and put his hand on my head and yelled Smite. I felt something but I don't know what. He apologized profusely afterwords, saying it was some kind of misunderstanding. Is he a paladin? Anyways, Avery is staying to keep watch on him over the night.
Journal Entry 12
We're in hiding now. Apparently word got out about us. The local magistrate or vizier decided we should be rounded up. Ian, Max and Austin were nabbed and taken to the prison or dungeon or whatever they have here. I stole some clothes off a clothesline and we're going dressed as locals and hanging out in an old abandoned house on the other end of town. The locals think it's haunted and it does have a creepy vibe. It's a temporary solution though.
Journal Entry 13
Amanda says she was up all night talking to a ghost that resides here. Some girl that was murdered by a cult of some kind long ago. In other news, Amanda isn't the only one losing it. I robbed someone today in an alleyway. I ran out of money and old starvation hit. Snuck up behind them and taser to the back. Ended up with a handful of silver coinage. That should keep us fed for a few days.
Journal Entry 14
I haven’t heard from Avery in a few days so I went to see what was going on at that church. Alex is up and moving around, but he's still kind of out of it, having trouble speaking and whatnot. It's like he suffered a stroke. The priest person said they could heal it in time using their divine power, but that there would be a price for it, and not the kind of price you can pocket. The only explanation as to what happened that they gave was that magic was a dangerous thing to the untrained. So much for Alex's dream of becoming a wizard. At least the church is keeping him out of the hands of the guards.
Journal Entry 15
Ran into that artificer guy today. He wanted to know more of the land I came from. Have to be careful about anyone overhearing what with the guards on the lookout for us. I didn't tell him much but I did sketch out a bicycle and the basics of how they work. He was fascinated and ran off with the page after giving me a few silvers. Bicycles, here. Imagine that. I don't think they know what rubber is though. I could be wrong though.
Journal Entry 16
That artificer showed up again. He is running a caravan over to the next stop in the trade circle, some place called Wildlake and invited us all to come along as caravan guards. He knows the guards are looking for us and this is the best he can do to assist I guess. Most of us couldn't even defend ourselves but it gives us a chance to get out of this place. Avery and Alex are staying behind at that sun church.
Journal Entry 17
Well, we've been given some shitty used leather armor and a spear and we're off on this caravan job. We're getting paid too, a handful of gold to boot, so as long as nothing horrible happens, we should be okay. We're with 5 other guards who are locals. I had no idea how to put on the armor, it was all straps and leather so I watched the locals put theirs on and imitated. I know I fucked up at some point, it doesn’t feel right. Anyways, this trip should be about 5 days at cart speed. There are 6 carts in the caravan and 10 of us on guard duty total, 5 of us foreigners and 5 locals, plus some 10 merchants, cart drivers and so on. There's several beast people things with us and one rowdy dwarf, but otherwise all human.
Journal Entry 18
What the fuck am I doing here?! Why?! Why won't I wake up?!
Journal Entry 19
So much walking. My legs ache, my arms ache, my feet hurt. Almost twisted my ankle. Hate this place. Us Terrans have been having an entirely different experience from the locals on this trip. The locals are enjoying the walk, chatting and spending the nights around the campfire telling silly stories of drunken bravery and local heroes. Us Terrans are around the fire, all cramped up, in pain, dealing with blisters and mumbling about all the things we miss of home. I can feel the emotional difference between both our groups. It's the oddest sensation. Bah, I'm just tired.
Journal Entry 20
Dan's dead. He was one of us. I don't know much about him other than he liked to sing to his mp3 collection during the run. We couldn't even bury him. So we're wandering along when these green things come rushing out of the underbrush. Goblins. Panic. Everything goes to shit. Dan gets a gut full of sword before he can do anything. I manage to get out my gun and I don't know, I was panic firing I guess? I hit at least 3 of the little fuckers. I'm down 8 bullets. I have to be more careful. The goblins were driven off but there are other injured. We had time to loot the bodies but not bury Dan. Left at the side of the fucking road, stripped of everything, to be eaten by the fucking wolves or whatever.
Journal Entry 21
We, the Terrans, held a small memorial for Dan. The locals didn't quite get why we were bothering for someone we barely knew. We divided his belongings amongst the rest of us. We should make it to Wildlake in two days. I hope we made the right decision, joining this caravan. The next town may be worse. It may be better. I don't know.
Journal Entry 22
Had a bit of a scare today. Ran into a group of elven rangers on some hunt today. Almost mistook them for bandits, we're all a little jumpy. They seemed alright people I suppose, unless they really are bandits and just waiting for the rest of their guys. Anyways, we were going opposite directions from us. During all of this, I managed to get my tablet charged up with my solar charger and taught the artificer how to play Angry Birds during camp. He was entranced by it. I think he's starting to understand just how foreign we are. In the meantime, we practiced with some of the weapons we picked off the goblin corpses. The locals had a good laugh at us as we flailed around with blunted short swords.
Journal Entry 23
Well, I figure we've been here a month now. I'm not entirely sure, I haven’t been keeping an accurate count and since I'm not writing every day, it's hard to estimate. We made it to Wildlake around midday. Contrary to my expectations, there is no lake involved. Apparently there was one here way back, but it drained out in some dungeon or mine collapse. It's slightly larger the Rosenbridge with a wooden outter wall. I saw my first airship today. A flying boat, parked in eastern portion of town. According to the locals, it regularly shows up every few weeks to pick up and deliver shipments from another kingdom. That's not all either. We passed a slave market on the way in. This is the first time any of us have seen anything like this. I'm not sure how I feel about this. It's perfectly legal according to the locals.
Journal Entry 24
We got paid today. 5 gold. We're all staying in a local hostel/tavern for traders and their crews. We're bunked up with some odd people. They're all red and some of them look like they have a coral reef growing out of their chin covered in skin. Tieflings I suppose? Where the hell are we? As creepy as they look, they seem to be okay, and I'm not getting any bad vibes off them. One of them was a musician and played some tunes. Marcus got his hands on one of their instruments and started playing Stairway to Heaven. The musician took interest and the two of them spent the rest of the night exchanging ideas. On the other hand, the artificer kept asking me for new tech ideas. I think I'll show him the wonders of safety razor. God knows I'll need to get a replacement from somewhere when mine wears out.
Journal Entry 25
Nope, still here, not a dream. Why isn't it a dream? I was in the tavern today when some bald elf chick covered in tatoos sits down next to me and says in the most serious tone ever, that my mind was like a locked treasure chest and that she must get inside. That's the weirdest pickup line I've ever heard. I quickly left. Too much weird for me. I can only take so much, the headache that showed up just before she did didn't help either. So more information about Wildlake. There is a flooded dungeon under the town, that ran under a lake that was once a burial mound of some so and so king from centuries past. Parts of it are unflooded and the adventurous raid it on a regular basis. You'd think there wouldn't be anything left to steal after all this time. It's also used as a shelter for the a-typical races that aren't welcome in town. The little inhuman ones like those fucking goblins.
Journal Entry 26
With the trade run done, we're kind of out of work. Our money isn't going to last for very long. I poked around town looking for opportunities for awhile. What do I have training in that works here? Nothing. Marcus picked up a guitar at the market and is working as a bard in the cheap tavern and making a silver or two a night, and that's at least something. Amanda keeps wanting to go with him to sing, but she can't hold a note to save her life. I guess we're stuck doing remedial jobs any bumfuck shit farmer can do. We can't even read the damn writing, we're illiterate here. Maybe I'll be a professional thief. Ha, that'll be the day.
Journal Entry 27
Well, I got a job sweeping up at the fucking slave market. Wonderful. Nothing like mournful stares and whispered pleas of help from dirty, barely clothed captives to keep the spirits up. I don't know what to think. At least I'm making some money, the pittance that it is. Did I mention they randomly get whipped? They use some whip that doesn't leave marks but apparently hurts them like hell. Who makes up this shit? Mike on the other hand, has caught on and captured the attention of some girl who agreed to teach him to read in exchange for...something. I don't want to know. He is trying to teach us what he learns. Handed down knowledge.
Journal Entry 28
Airship is in town. Watched that for awhile. They couldn't come up with a better design than a flying boat. It apparently isn't sea worthy either so why bother? Maybe I could teach them aerodynamics. You'd think it would be obvious. Anyways, I'm starting to see slaves beaten in my dreams and it's only my third day. It's time for an occupation change. Anything else. I heard there's some call some help with one of the dungeon areas I might look in to. Why not? Maybe the guards will leave me alone. I made the mistake of showing them my drivers license when they asked for identification last night. Weirded them all out. Speaking of which, why the hell did I bring my wallet and car keys with me?!
Journal Entry 29
Well, I got sucked in to some adventure thing going on. Hired with some locals to check out and clear a lizard creature, kobold, infestation of one of the dungeons. We're to head in within a few hours and see what's going on down there. Also on the team is a big burly guy who is also illiterate, a bored dwarf and a highly excitable elven wizard or sorcerer. I can't tell the difference yet. Luckily we didn't meet in a tavern because that would be too cliché. No, we met around the town fountain and got our “mission objectives.” I at least have the leather armor and shortsword from the caravan trip. That and my big knife from home and my Sig. I need more ammo. I need a source of ammo. I have 7 more magazines worth of ammo, 8 bullets each. Apparently there's going to be another guy joining us at the dungeon entrance. I guess we'll see what that's about. Anyways, I did ask the wizard about what happened with Alex. He just gave me the dangers of magic speech the sun priest did. Also of note, caught sight of that bald chick following me again. Kind of hard to miss her. She's good at causing headaches.
Journal Entry 30
So we met up with a Paladin of some warrior god and hit the dungeon. He was a very...boisterous fellow. Lots of bragging. So this was my first dungeon. Everyone brought torches. I brought a flashlight. It's a camping thing, green power and all that. Solar battery and all. It should last a good 3 hours. So we go in and sure enough, kobolds. Ugly, filthy looking things, making weird lizard noises when they weren't speaking pidgin english or common or whatever. The dungeon was more or less just burial ruins, pretty straight forward. Looking back now, it was pretty dangerous, these things were out to kill us and we were out to kill them. What the fuck was I thinking? Wasted two bullets and learned that my big stainless steel knife was a piece of shit when it snapped in half upon hitting bone. The short sword did better but I'll be damned if I'm not clumsy as hell with it. The paladin gave me some hints and tips in the middle of a fucking fight because this is nothing for him. Anyways, I didn't get any injuries except some scrapes. I'm still fast on my feet and my reaction time is good. Found some stuff, some kind of silver chain necklace I found in the mud and some coinage the kobolds were hoarding. Do people actually sell them stuff? They seemed a little feral for trade. Also got paid 15 gold for the job. I don't know if I can do something like that again. Such stress, I can't describe it properly. Terror and thrill combined together
Journal Entry 31
So I spent the last few days in the tavern, possibly getting lead or mercury poisoning. I'm surprised none of us have caught anything yet. I'm the only one who brought medical supplies, and all I had time for was a bottle penicillin. Stupid portal. Why did I ever listen to you? Anyways, Marcus got some apprentice deal under a Bard to try and learn Bard magic. As long as he doesn't suffer a stroke like Alex did, if it will even work. Who knows how different we are from the locals. Aside from that, I'm starting to learn to read the store signs from Mike's hand-me down teachings. It's a bit more complicated though, there's a simplified written language and a standard. We're apparently learning the simplified. I guess that's a good enough start.
Journal Entry 32
That bitch got to me and I think I had an epileptic seizure. She showed up suddenly and grabbed me from behind. I know it was her, I felt it. I made for my taser and suddenly I couldn't think straight and went into convulsions. Next thing I know I wake up in the local temple. Some love and peace worshiper temple. Nothing was missing but I've got the headache to end all headaches and random nose bleeds. She fucking mind raped me and then dumped me off at the temple. What the fuck? Fucking psions. I'll get her. I know exactly where she is, why the fuck do I know exactly where she is, what did she do to me?
Journal Entry 33
I got cleaned and rested up. Still got the headache. Paid a visit to Ms Psion. Brought my gun but in hindsight, I don't think I could have used it if I wanted to. We had a nice talk, not sure how much, if any of it, was real or manufactured. I'm pretty paranoid about it. I don't know what they can fully do. Going there was a bad idea. There was more than one. It's all kind of a blur. I do know a lot of talking was done but not a word was said. From what I can recall and managed to put together, they're part of some back door manipulators of the local guilds, manipulating towards their profits. I think the ideas I leaked to the artificer got out and that brought me to their attention and then they found something. Something I didn't know was there. Now I think I need them to learn to control it or go insane from increasing mental stress. Or at least that's what they want me to think. None of this makes sense.
Journal Entry 34
It's not a headache, it's feedback. So much but no solitude to be found in the city borders. I slipped outside for a bit and the volume lowered to acceptable levels. I will have to return, maybe Marcus can play that song that puts me to sleep. He learned how. It was a mental ingredient that Alex was missing, he couldn't observe the state of mind he needed and the training was missing. I wonder how he and Avery are doing, or the others that were captured. I have to go back to her, she will teach me. I will make her.
Journal Entry 35
It's been a few weeks I think. I learned to block it. The noise. Them. From then on, it's mostly intuitive. The advanced tricks come later, so they say. Having a logical mental grasp of things has certainly helped. They said I was their first otherplanar “wild talent.” Already I learned to decipher the feelings. Empathy I guess. It's created other side effects. I have trouble nearing the slave market, it's a literal pit of despair, so thick it's almost physical. Luckily the effect doesn't spread. Uh, while I was coming and going out of sanity during the week, Marcus picked up some magical Bard music. Just some simple stuff. Between my experience and his, I guess we can learn. There's hope for Alex yet if he ever regained full functionality. The others, Amanda, Jason and Mike have been poking around and found out about some academy or university quite a distance away that may have some answers for us. They apparently have some info on extra-planar travel. Might be a long shot but it's all we got.
Journal Entry 36
We need quite a bit of gold for travel expenses. Much more than we have. I signed up on another dungeoneering expedition. Jason signed up as well. We joined up with a sorcerer and what I'm pretty sure was half the thieves guild pretending to be fighters. I didn't even know there was one. I suppose that's the way they want it. Apparently Jason is a pseudo apprentice to one of them. What the fuck. Anyways, we headed down to clear out some goblins and instead found a death cult. A dead death cult. They committed suicide, somewhat recently. There was a goblin, just the one though, and he wasn't a feral, he wanted to join. Whatever, I'm not the leader on this expedition. He smells though. Jason managed to pick out a few traps and got a few pats on the head for it from his thief masters and I'm pretty sure I got fondled at some point by every one of them while they were looking for my coins or something of interest. Suckers, I left it all with the others back at the inn. Overall load from the job.. The pay was cut in half since there was no Goblins. Loot off the cult was a handful of shitty quality daggers, a handful of coppers and a magical idol none of us wanted to touch. We rigged up some wood tongs, bagged it and sold it at the market for around 60 gold and some incense. We didn't pay the goblin, he can go fuck himself.
Journal Entry 37
We all gathered up after I got my Kindle charged up and watched Strange Days. It was the only movie I had on it when I came, and the only movie any of us brought. It's a good movie but when you've been living out on this world for awhile, you notice the simple things. Oh look, they have proper shoes and their clothes have functioning pockets. Hey, cars. And so on. There were some tears as homesickness kicked in full force and then I picked up the overflow from the others. What the fuck was I thinking? I think that portal bullshit had a hypnotic effect or some limited mind control was used. The more I think about it, after what I learned.. But why bring us, we're random people with similar interests. It doesn't make sense. Anyways, a bit after that, I..”helped” Jason with some b&e work his masters were requesting he do.. for the experience. Now I'm not the best person and I admit I'd probably be doing it too if I didn't get caught up in the mental adventures of temporary insanity with Miss Bald and her skinhead friend so I'm not even going to complain. I guess I'm sliding on down the alignment scale. Desperation, real or imagined I suppose. So my part in this heist was feeling out if anyone was inside and then he does all the work, and I try and alert him if someone goes for the door. Alert in my case is to nearly knock him and myself silly. I'm still new at this, it's like painting with boxing gloves on. I'm not sure what the total haul was worth, but his masters paid him a handful of silver. I'm starting to wonder of this coinage really is gold, silver and copper. Might just be what they call it or maybe they're using a really impure mixture. I don't know. Not important I guess.
Journal Entry 38
So two trips into the dungeon and I am apparently a dungeoneering pro according to the locals. Seriously? So I was approached while trying to grift some tourists about another run in another section of the crypt. Apparently it's the right season that the water level down there drops enough to allow access to some otherwise inaccessible areas. Jason and his handler are coming along with what I think is a gnome who wants to examine the construction techniques and a tiefling chick who was armed to the horns with whips. I'm going to have to get a torch for this, it's probably going to last longer than my flashlight's battery. Of course I'm not experienced in making a fire without a lighter. I'll figure it out. Maybe that's something else I can sell to the artificer. He's still working out the wonders of the ball point pen. Anyways, the expedition starts come sunrise.
Journal Entry 39
Dungeoneering pro my ass. So we're all stuck in a big cylindrical room, about 15ft diameter and 20ft high. I'll start from the top. We entered and immediately ran into a kobold scouting party that was seeing if the area was habitable for them. Why can't they just build a fucking town of their own? We managed to chase them off. Found a few traps, got some cuts and bruises by a few and some minor burns from the extra fun time magical ones. I have to wonder why anyone bothers. It's only a matter of time before someone breaks through, all you're doing is wasting money on slowing down an inevitable intrusion. Not cost effective in the least. We found the previously flooded section and entered. Most of the traps here were disabled from water damage except a few of the amusing surprise pits that were now filled with easily crossable water and silt. Picked up a few unknown gems and some random baubles and decorations. Our gnome friend took sketches of everything we saw, from walls to doorway arches. Very fast hands. Finally we entered this room. There was a lever on a pedestal. Typical. The gnome seemed excited and walked right over and pulled it before we could check it out. The door slammed shut and that's how we got to be stuck in this room. The tiefling chick nearly broke her little jaw after the first hour. Everyone seems calm but I can feel the panic. It's creating a kind of feedback effect, not easy to ignore.
Journal Entry 40
Still in the trap. Luckily we're not expecting the area to flood again for another few months. So we're all sitting around chatting it up. I got to regale everyone of the tale of the Quantum Lich who was trapped in a similar situation and went on imaginary adventures. Jason and I had a good laugh about it, the others were disturbed. So rather than sit around and wait for insanity or death, we tore apart the lever mechanism which went inert when the trap sprung and applied some mechanical engineering to it. Some of the rope that made it work broke. We figure this room was some kind of “airlock” leading to another chamber. We managed to repair the mechanism using one of the tiefling's whips and tricked it it into opening both doors with some luck. Tada. We took a vote and went further in. It's a good thing we did. While we didn't find mounds of gold and jewels, we found a small armory. Swords, daggers and armor, all in good shape, untouched by the flooding and rust. We cleaned the place out and headed back top side. Our market contact is selling off the loot and we got paid. Looks like we got a nice little mound of coinage and we all kept something from the loot. I traded in my shitty goblin short sword for a nice steel one. The gnome got his designs and seemed quite pleased, around the bruises anyways.
Journal Entry 41
Got caught up with the artificer today. He finished several prototypes of ball point pens but couldn't get the right consistency with the ink. Chemistry or Alchemy as they call it here is not his strong point, so he's working with someone on that. In the mean time, he's working out which is easier, bikes or razors. The razor has lots of fine points, but the bike has moving parts. I suggested a Penny-Farthing style with the pedal mounted on the front wheel for ease. He's pondering it. I see many great business arrangements in our future. One thing at a time though. It's not like there's a patent office though, anything he figures out, anyone else can copy and there goes the profits. Learned a new trick. I can pull memories out of people now. It's very obvious what's happening though and it's quite tedious and leaves me exhausted. In other news, someone tried robbing me in an alley. Not one of the sanctioned thieves, just some asshole. Gave him a mind full and then a face full of taser when that wasn't enough. I ended up taking his money, his pants and one boot just to fuck with him.
Journal Entry 42
The airship is in town today. Amanda is going to see about booking passage or at least how much it is to their main stop, which is about halfway to that university. From there.. well, we'll figure something out. We're all planning on going. We have to stick together. In the meantime, I'm experimenting with Mike and Marcus with some zap stone he picked up cheap in the market. It's magic, produces static electricity at what seems to be a constant rate. I think it's for wizard pranks or maybe simple traps. We're seeing if we can't use it as a faster method to recharge our batteries. My taser must be getting low, and it takes hours to charge my mp3 player, even longer for the Kindle or Amanda's Ipad using the solar charger, or that hand crank thing we got from Dan.
Journal Entry 43
We have enough for the airship trip, but it's a no frills package and may be called upon to help move cargo around. We leave in two days. I haven’t actually ever been on a plane and here I am preparing for an airship ride. The trip should take 48 hours. Our experiments with the static stone didn't quite work out as well as we hoped. The electricity coming off it is in fact very random. We would need to set up some kind of transformer or something and I have no idea how to make one. Paid a last visit to Baldy. Why the hell did I do that again? Always a mindfuck with her. Literally. Also she keeps wanting me to shave my head. To hell with that. She did give me some tips on memory digging that should help, but practice makes perfect. It's like a muscle, it needs to be used. Translation: I gotta mind rape people to get stronger. What the hell have I gotten myself in to?
Journal Entry 44
So here I am, standing on the deck of an airship, an aerodynamically improbable shape propelled by magic. Fucking magic. As near as I can tell, it's a converted cutter with the sails removed and some magic propulsion added in. Some kind of engine powered by elementals or something. It's certainly not sea worthy anymore as the bottom's been cut up into loading doors for cargo. Us Terrans are sharing a tiny, stuffy cabin barely large enough for us all. We're sleeping on the floor more or less. The ship is noisy, the wood constantly creaking from movements. On deck is better but we have to stay out of the way of the crew. The view is amazing though. We're hauling ass over some plains. Mountains and forests in the distance, passing over a few horse riders far below. They are navigating by a combination of standard ship navigation techniques, compass and sextant combined with a magic map. Not too sure of the details on the map, probably helps with their versions of latitude and longitude guesswork. Something is bothering me though, I'm picking up a lot of apprehension in the crew. I let the others know and we've been digging for info but they're being tight lipped. It doesn't seem directed towards us though, so I don't think they're planning anything nefarious.
Journal Entry 45
A day and a half out and blam, the ship crashes. Found out what the crew was worried about. They were transporting some creature. It got free and set the whole underside aflame. The ship's enchantments started breaking one at a time. The captain managed to soft crash us. About 4 of the crew's total of 15 didn't make it. All us Terrans survived, but Mike has a broken arm and the rest of us are pretty banged up. We're doing what we can to treat the injuries. Whatever it was in the below decks either died in the fire or died in the crash. We have a long trip ahead of us on foot. We're loading up with all the supplies that survived and even managed to throw together a shitty cart to load up and transport the wounded. The area isn't exactly a haunted nightmare forest, but it's not exactly safe as the ones back home either. The Captain, a fiery woman, seems to think we can make it to Winterfield in a week if we don't dawdle. My request for a discount on the travel price was of course denied. Whatever. As long as we all make it. We Terrans are a bit better off than when we did our first caravan from Rosenbridge to Wildlake.
Journal Entry 46
So we're kind of lost in the woods. The tree cover is too thick to take sun measurements for navigation, so we're kind of guessing. We at least know the right direction, between my and the captain's compasses. The woods are pretty quiet which probably means predators, but I don't feel anything out there. Marcus occasionally breaks out the guitar to play something inspiring. He's getting better at it and is managing to combine some Terran music with what I'm calling the bardic effects. It doesn't quite work right, so mostly we're hearing local traditional stuff. We've all been taking turns pulling the supply/injury cart, and pushing when it inevitably gets stuck. A few of the crew are ahead, picking paths through the trees and looking for the best ground to traverse until we find some kind of road. The Captain is certain there's an old trade road around here somewhere. We're zigzagging back and forth looking for it as we continue on to Winterfield. I tried climbing one of the trees for a better look, but didn't see anything other than more trees. So much green. According to the map, we should be in the woods for at least two days before we exit out, cut across some foothills and enter the northern plains. The crew is pretty superstitious. They keep telling tall tales of dark elves kidnapping people to their caves living in the woods, or cannibal witches or Druids powered on hatred and my favorite, the Woods Lich. He raises the dead as dryad tree warriors. I'd think it was all fun and games, but some of them are terrified by the prospect. It's like kids telling horror stories around a campfire to scare each other except it's grown men and women. Tonight we're going to tell our version. We're going to convert Hellraiser over to something they can understand.
Journal Entry 47
Well, we ran into wild borderline feral forest elves. I picked them up when they started shadowing us and called them out. They weren't hostile, but extremely distrustful. They barely spoke English..common, but we did manage to get some directions out of them. They just want us out of their territory asap. We're a change to the status quo I guess. The whole thing could have gone a lot worse if one of the idiot crew were first to approach call them out. Fucking elves. I think Amanda has an elf crush to boot. My experience with them so far in general hasn't been all that good considering my time with Miss Baldy McMindrape. Anyways, by nightfall, we hit the trade road. It was further east than the map said, and it's in pretty bad shape. It's been flooded out several times and is heavily overgrown, but it's a straight route, if not disused. Apparently once the airship started moving cargo in days what would have taken months, the whole thing just shut down overnight. I hope they can acquire a new one, I doubt they had an insurance policy on it.
Journal Entry 48
We're camped out at the edge of the woods for the night and will hit the foothills tomorrow. It should be easier going, but we don't exactly know what kind of dangers to expect. We all sat around and watched my Kindle copy of Strange Days again, including the crew. They obviously had no idea what was going on but the pretty moving pictures kept them distracted from telling stupid horror stories. I just hope they don't decide to burn us as witches come morning. We also have been getting in some weapon practice during our woodland adventure. I'm not as clumsy as I used to be with the blade as when I first started. Mike's taken extremely well to his rapier.
Journal Entry 49
We got attacked. Hyenas. Gnolls and a few goblins. They initially charged in screaming, but gunfire sent them back. They continued with hit and run tactics for the rest of the day I'm down 6 more bullets. 48 rounds left. We lost a crewman and the Captain took a nasty gash across the arm and leg. She's riding the cart now. None of us have any medical training. I don't know how bad the wound is, but she's out of the fight. If she takes fever, I'll give her a penicillin and hope she's not allergic. Took a few beatings otherwise and had to repair the cart, but we're okay. We captured a goblin and he's pulling the cart for now. Picked through the mortally wounded after the raids. Got to practice my memory harvesting skills. I know more about that Gnoll tribe than I ever wanted to, and they all died in horrible agony, and I got a headache. I've come to realize I'm becoming a horrible person. Was this something Mistress Skinhead McTattooface planted in my head or is this just how I'm adapting to the situation? It must be adaption, I'm not the only one effected. Jason was laughing at their pain and was cracking jokes about it for the rest of the day to freak out our goblin slave. Speaking of him, he doesn't speak common so we named him Wendy. Overall loot from the attacks.. A long bow and some nasty looking arrows. One of the crewmen knows how to use bows, so he took it.
Journal Entry 50
Surprise, I'm apparently in charge of this whole expedition now while the Captain is out of it. She's sleeping most of the time and the bleeding has stopped.. kind of. I don't even know when to change her bandages, just when they look bad? We don't have enough material for a lot of them. No rotting smells though..yet. So with the Captain out of it and the first mate dead in the crash, somehow the chain of command falls to me. I think everyone's taking my secret rampant and unethical abuse of empathy as some form of leadership. Well, here goes nothing. No sign of the Gnoll party today, but we keep catching glimpses miles behind us. Probably scouts. I hope we're not being pushed into a war party. The hills aren't exactly giving us a clear view of everything, too many places to hide, too much cover, so we travel on. We should hit the plains tomorrow. That may bring luck or more misfortune. What the fuck am I doing here?
Journal Entry 51
No Gnoll attacks, they stopped following us when we hit the plains. One of the crewmen started getting real jittery. One of the big dumb guys. When pressed, he clammed up, but that shit don't work on me. This trip is taking longer than expected, even with the crash. I figure we'll hit Winterfield in four more days. At least there's that to look forward to. Hopefully we won't all get arrested upon arrival or worse. This isn't even the endpoint in our little trip, just the midway. We'll have to find a new group to travel with to this University place. The plains are nice, we can see if something is coming unlike the foothills. The terrain is flat enough that we can make good time over the trade road. I'm sure there's some kind of horrible magic snake or dire rats hiding in the grass somewhere. We'll see I guess. The Captain isn't doing much better, but stable. Bleeding's stopped but she has a temperature. I slipped her a penicillin. I hope this works, is this even the right time to use them? Figures that we'd end up with no one with any form of medical training. I'm sure Mike's arm isn't going to heal right. We'll have to get him to a temple healer asap. Same with the Captain of course.
Journal Entry 52
Found out what was bothering the big guy. Nomadic barbarian tribe. He's an exiled member of course, headed over to Winterfield and took up an occupation. I don't know what he was exiled for, but they're pretty pissed to see him, and us because we're with him. We managed to talk them out of killing us on the spot and we're under their custody until they decide what to do with us. There's around 150 or so of them that I've counted so far. They move in a huge migratory loop around the plains, following the wildlife and weather year after year. We did manage to get their healer to assist with our wounded so there is that. He's using a combination of some kind of magic healing and holistic medicine with lots of silly ritual that I'm sure isn't really part of it. At least I hope it isn't. From observation, I figured that they're ancestor spirit worshipers along with a skygod that may or may not be the same figure as the sun god in a different mask. It's hard to tell. I'm not about to announce my disbelief in the divine on this world, as things like that tend to go all wrong. Their young warriors dope up on some local plantlife and visit the ancient grave sites, experience something and then participate in a hunt. There's some kind of cannibalism involved as well, their greatest warrior gets eaten when he passes and the same goes for the medicine man and his replacement when the death comes. They don't seem to be experiencing the shakes, and is apparently a sin to eat anyone else.. so I'm going to try and not be too worried.
Journal Entry 53
The Captain is back on her feet and thanked me for not fucking up too badly, and Mike's arm is doing better from the healer's treatment. That's the good news. The bad news is that after today's negotiations.. we get to take part in the Barbarian hunt. The worse news is that we're the prey in this hunt. We have a 4 hour head start. We're ditching the cart and carrying what supplies we can. It starts at sunrise. We have 8 young warriors in the chase, and some older ones just behind them in case they fail. We're not expected to survive. Mr Exile is ready to accept his fate. I don't want to die tired. I won't. Not after all of this.
Journal Entry 54
Rained all day and we ran. Rained into the night and we ran. Didn't even know I could run this long. Desperation. Separated from the others but I kept running. When sunlight came, one of those assholes was on my tail. They have fucking horses. Fucking Cheaters! Nearly got trampled. He got off his horse to finish me. I let loose with everything. There's nothing left up there now, he's blank. I don't think he even knows what he is anymore. Can barely think, bleeding from nose, dizzy. Hiding in a crevice, my legs were starting to lock up. Need to get moving asap.
Journal Entry 55
Journal Entry 56
Met up with the others at night. 3 Crewmen are gone, Amanda's dead. Speared. We're taking a break. We can afford a short breather. Mike did.. something. He flipped the fuck out and started talking to thin air and next thing I know he's throwing around fucking black fire and took down one, injured another. I think he made a deal, a Warlock deal. He won't talk about it but he's ashamed and terrified of whatever he agreed to, but fear of barbarian death overrode whatever that was. We'll talk about it once we get out of this situation.
Journal Entry 57
We ran into a Winterfield guard patrol with the barbarians on the horizon. They pulled back and the guards had enough compassion to help us. We were escorted back to town and currently sitting in a tavern. I ache everywhere. Amanda's gone. Another one of us down, dead on the side of the fucking road again. We're all dead quiet, the surviving ship crew and Captain. We're numb. I'm not going to sleep well for awhile, and Mike's seriously fucked up. He still won't talk about it. We're going to hold a memorial tomorrow for Amanda and the other crewmen. I didn't even know their names. I feel like I'm forgetting about something. Wendy! What ever happened to that fucking goblin, we left him at the barbarian camp. He's probably dead.
Journal Entry 58
I keep waking up, thinking I have to start running, or that there's a barbarian about to kill me or not sure where I am. This isn't good. PTSD? Fuck. We held a memorial for Amanda. Well, welcome to fucking Winterfield. It's a large city, reminds me of medieval France in architecture. It's a bit chilly here, but it is farther north. The locals are a bit distant. Apparently the barbarians are a problem for the area and the real reason the trade road shut down, and they switched to an airship. Well, hope they can build another one. The local royalty is too fearful of sending an army out to hunt the fuckers down like dogs. No, he's fine with the way things are. Calls it balance from what I hear. As much as I'd like to just settle down here for awhile and recover, we can't really. We all agreed. The barbarians are set up to the south west and we need to move north east. If we wait here too long, they'll move further up their migratory path and it'll be too late. We have very little money. Jason is checking in with the local thieves guild, because that's apparently a thing he has to do now. I did some checking around and there is a caravan heading north to a town called Brightly. According to the map, we can get to the University from there. I'm starting to understand how this University thing works, and why it's so far out. If you get there, you've proven yourself apparently. Too late to turn back. We'll take a week to rest, gather supplies and then head out with the Caravan. Where to get the money? Looks like I'm back to tasing people in alleyways and helping Jason b&e. What am I doing with my life?!
Journal Entry 59
Those fucking barbarians. They dropped off the desecrated corpses of Amanda and the crew on the doorstep of town for all to see. They'll pay for this, for everything. Motherfuckers. They'll at least get a burial now. At least there's that. I'm so fucking pissed I don't know what to do. I accidentally lashed out at a few people mentally. We just wanted to pass through but those fuckers wanted to have their fun and now people are dead. Lives ruined. For what? I don't know anymore, I don't know. Anyways, I helped Jason nick some items he can fence and we'll see what else we can do to grab some money.
Journal Entry 60
We didn't get as much as I had hoped, so we're going to have to expand our horizons. This isn't really a town for adventurers, no nearby dungeons or anything, just asshole barbarians. Marcus is making some money, barding it up in the taverns at least. The people are too distrustful to be grifted easily. Mike is totally against a warlock magic show, and to be honest, it wouldn't be appropriate. I'm not exactly a criminal mastermind. We can always hold up a trade caravan. Say, the one we're traveling with. That might be too many people though. We're not murders and we're not bandits. We're just poor. Yeah, that's a great rationalization. I apparently have no moral issues with completely fucking over the locals. I think it's because I don't recognize them as.. us. “We're Terrans, we're better than you!” mentality. I don't know what to do. I don't, I just don't know. Would I have been like this if we stuck around Rosenbridge? What happened with Alex and Avery, or Ian, Max and Austin. Are they even still alive? I can't think and my mind is starting to leak. I need rest.
Journal Entry 61
Well, Jason came back from the guild with a job offer. We can make nearly twice the money we need with a single job. That job of course is to assassinate the king. He's not a popular man around here. Of course we're not exactly assassins. The fact I'm seriously considering this job shows just how far I've slipped. I've talked with the others and they're all for it. Marcus explained it best with Spock logic. The needs of the many (us, and our need of money) outweigh the needs of the few (the king and his need to live.) It's fucked up logic but on the good side, maybe his replacement will do something about the fucking barbarians. We got decided to take the job. Jason picked up a map from his guild and we're going to do some planning latter tonight. In the meantime, we're attending Amanda's burial. Partially to make sure they don't fuck it up. She's been through enough.
Journal Entry 62
So the castle has 124 rooms spread across 4 floors. The king's chamber is on the fourth floor with a single entrance and access from a forward and rear balcony. We figure the interior is loaded with the royal guards. Going through the front door is out, using a balcony entrance is dangerous. We poked around the market to see what resources we can get our hands on. No magic flight rods or anything like that unfortunately. The best we can get out of the thieves guild is some rope, but it's quite a distance to climb. We could use it for a quick escape though. Too bad we don't have a sniper rifle, his throne room is nearly level with the inn roof half a mile away and has a clear window. How to get in a heavily guarded castle. Can't imitate the guards, they don't use face masks and probably all know each other. There are no silly royal parties scheduled either. The king's schedule is pretty simple. He wakes up, eats, sits in the throne and listens to the local woes, around lunch he quits and putters around with his mistress and then official kingdom business until dinner, then sleeps, then repeat. The afternoon court is apparently an open affair, I'll see about doing some recon tomorrow.
Journal Entry 63
Okay, the castle isn't as bustling as I thought it would be. Went in with Marcus and observed court, which was a few hours of peasant complaints, hilariously one sided criminal trials and the local gossip hour. Apparently this kind of thing is not common with the other kingdoms, it's just that there are no nobles in town, so the king has an open court so he can pretend he's important. He's not even married and his mistress is an ugly half orc. Well, ugly face but she's got some hot curves. I bet he uses a cloth sack. Anyways, I think our best opportunity would be to go in during court, slip away at the end and hang out in one of the unused castle rooms until night and then do the deed. Marcus wanted to help, but he's our public face and he shouldn't get involved. Mike will be waiting near the castle in case we need assistance in escaping the grounds. Just me and Jason. Court starts in a few hours, so we'll begin project KingSlayer then.
Journal Entry 64
Well, it didn't go as planned but it didn't go entirely bad either. We slipped off on our way out of court and occupied a dusty room in the east wing. Poked around for a bit, found a few silver coins laying around. A few hours after nightfall we moved out. Made it to the fourth floor of this wing which is mostly unused. Only had to slip past a couple of off duty staff. We had to put down one nosy cleaning lady. She's still alive. I tried a new trick on her, a kind of memory loop. Not sure it worked but she casually walked out of the room and into a wall, knocked herself out. Good enough I guess. She didn't get a good look at us at least. Did some climbing around outside to get to the balcony and we were in the king's chamber. Just like that. Then we sat there for a half hour staring. I couldn't do it. Jason finally maned up and put a pillow over the king's face and slit his throat out before he could begin to struggle. Got kind of an adrenalin high after that. Grabbed some things from the room, some coinage, some magic looking baubles and rappelled off the balcony using rope. Then we got caught. Plowed right into a guard and the one of the gardeners making out. I put down the guard before he could fumble his pants back on to get at his sword, and Jason took down the gardener. I don't feel good about this job at all.
Journal Entry 65
We go paid and set up with a caravan heading out to Brightly tomorrow. I feel like shit. We officially crossed the line and are now murderers. Everything in town is in chaos. Guards are raiding all the shady hideouts and arresting anyone they think is shady looking. We're hanging out in one of the more popular inns to try and blend in to the crowd. We don't blend well. Anyways, there's no royal heir to assume the throne, so the advisers are working out what to do. Maybe they'll invent democracy. Who am I kidding, it'll be a military dictatorship until whoever names themselves Emperor. In other news, I've gotten good enough at reading to kind of read a book. It wasn't very interesting or very long. It was about some historical battle centuries ago in the area. Turns out the barbarian tribe is remains of a rival kingdom that was wiped out. Fucking barbarians. Anyways, time to resupply for the trip. I could use some new clothes. At least a new shirt, my jeans are holding up okay. My shirt has changed color several times now, from blue to brown to red and now it's gray and is covered in sloppily repaired rips and tears.
Journal Entry 66
So we're passengers in a caravan heading to Brightly. It's supposedly a safe route. I've heard that before. Figured out what the magic things we stole from the king's chamber do. We got a poison immunity necklace and what appears to be an immovable ring. Like an immovable rod but as ring. It's a plain gold and luckily, bound to this gravity sphere, otherwise, who knows where it would zoom off to. Why would anyone make this is beyond me. Maybe it was an accident. Anyways, the caravan is made up of about 15 carts and was hastily put together once the local trade guild found out about the airship issues. We have a crew of 40 or so people: hired guards, horse and ox drivers, merchants, their support staff and passengers. The caravan leader is a civilized orc woman. She's got to be at least 6 foot 5. Now I've never been into muscle girls, or green skin for that matter but damn. She's apparently made a name for herself with the locals and well trusted as some kind of trail blazer.
Journal Entry 67
It's been raining for the last few days. It's slowed us down considerably with muddy roads, carts getting stuck and fallen trees. Why don't they pave anything? The Romans did it. Spirits would be lower if not for Marcus's music. Did some chatting with the merchants. Seems Winterfield has no real exports, they just import everything they need, which is most things because of their barbarian problem. How do they afford it? Exporting their leftovers to Brightly for an even higher price. Brightly is apparently even more isolated. It's a lumber community, harvesting trees, producing wood products but lacking large farm space and anyone else to trade to, so everything they make comes and goes through Winterfield. With the airship down and the Barbarian problem, this entire arm of the trade network is cut off. Too bad they don't have trains. I'm not even sure how to make a steam engine. I know the science behind it of course. If we ever get back to Wildlake, I'll have to hit up the artificer. Or maybe find another one out here, invent a magical monorail. Wouldn't that be funny. Oh great, Marcus was reading over my shoulder and is now playing the monorail song.
Journal Entry 68
Well, the rain stopped just long enough for a kobold raid. A whole shit load of the little fuckers. 3 of the caravan guard are dead, many injuries. Twice as many kobolds were brought down and the rest scattered. They got away with several bags of clothing from one of the carts. From their mental state, they were kind of desperate for anything to help with the coming Winter in a few months. I used to wonder what would drive someone to do something like that, and now I know. I've been put in that situation but with even less important reasons. No point in dwelling on it though. So we should reach Brightly either tomorrow or the day after depending on the rain. Luckily I've been managing to keep my notepad dry the whole time. Caught one of the merchants trying to read it last night when I set it aside to eat. Yeah, he couldn't read it. That's one thing we got, a language the locals can't read. Speaking of the locals, I'm pretty sure Marcus did the bard thing and got lucky with one of the caravan girls. Not sure which. Maybe it was more than one? I hope that anti poison ring also does diseases.
Journal Entry 69
We made it to Brightly a few hours after nightfall. The city gates are closed, so we're camped just outside, partying like gypsies on making it with minimal losses. There is a massive forest around this place, and from what I gather, they're clear cutting the forest nonstop and processing the wood, but it's growing as fast as they can cut it. Magic woods of the unhaunted variety from what they say. Rumor has it that there are a bunch of dyrads inside that are churning out trees to keep the people from cutting deeper into the woods where their special trees are. Just rumor though. I'm willing to bet there's some horrible evil locked away out there. That's how it usually is. Or maybe the horrible evil and the dryads are working together to get rich off the lumber industry. Who knows.
Journal Entry 70
I must have drank more than I thought last night. Woke up with a fresh tattoo on my arm from one of the merchant girls. She says it's a magical symbol for courage. Yeah bullshit. We have that joke on my world too. It's not in common and just looks like a fancy shape and not bad looking I guess, whatever. So Brightly isn't what I was expecting. It's not a human town. Reptile people. Dragonborn maybe? Not the shouting kind, though they are loud. Boisterous. At least they're friendly. The trade caravan is doing their business and heading out tomorrow. Us Terrans in the meantime need to plan the next leg of our amazing odyssey. This university is part of a city named Aellyn and it is to the east, almost dead east. There is no trade route there. They are self sufficient and considered one of the larger kingdoms. And prefer not to deal with other kingdoms if they don't have to. Isolationists. I hope they like offworlders.
Journal Entry 71
Well, the caravan is gone. We're currently the only humans in this city which means we can't pull off anything shady. We're also getting the special treatment. Lots of attention, sometimes not always the good kind. So we're planning over a map, working out our next expedition. Aellyn is a week or more away on foot and we'll have to cut over the edge of a small mountain on the way of we take the most direct route. The locals helped fill in some of the blank spots on the map for this area but there are still a lot of unknowns. The cold weather is coming in a few months so we can't dally around. Since we'll be passing through the middle of nowhere, we probably won't have any trouble with some of the bandit races like goblins or kobolds and the terrain isn't suited to roving barbarian tribes. My best bet, if there is anything out there, wild elves or a crazy loner wizard. Otherwise, probably be dealing with large and possibly magic animals. Money isn't a problem yet. We still have quite a bit from the King job, and we made more selling that weird ring. Suggested to the locals how they can use it in their lumber business as floating o-rings or platform base of some kind. We're going to wait a day and then head out. Too many non humans is starting to creep me out.
Journal Entry 72
Well, we're on the road again. Not really a road though, more like a small infrequently used path used by crazy adventurers that could easily be confused with a goat path. What I wouldn't give for an atv. Camped out in a clearing for the night. Dinner consisted of dried meat dried fruit. It wasn't bad. Needs salt. Something that's pretty rare here. How we take such things for common back home. Seasoning is something only the rich have here. Sugar is another thing. I haven't had any sweets in god knows how long. Chocolate. Do they even have chocolate here? Mint is another thing. If I ever get home, I'll have to remember to bring some candy next time a portal opens in my livingroom. Candy and a shotgun. And bags of ammo. And a fucking ATV.
Journal Entry 73
Well, we've been captured by kobolds. The same ones from the caravan raid. They aren't entirely hostile this time, and I don't think they recognize us. Just more humans to them. I can tell it's them from the free floating memories. Kobolds are very... it's hard to explain in words, but they kind of project their minds everywhere in a non telepathic way. It makes reading them as easy as staring at a painting. Some of them speak common. They couldn't decide if they should ditch us and continue on their way, rob us and leave us dead or take us with them as hostages. They are kind of wandering aimlessly. They left their previous..village? Tribe? To expand. They got lost and don't really know how to survive on their own without banditry. We are trying to make a deal with them. They let us go and we teach them the basics of construction, engineering and farming. They can found their own village and not have to worry about getting stabbed in the face just to eat.
Journal Entry 74
Well, the kobold high command has taken to our offer and is now escorting us some of the way to Aellyn. We've begun telling them about farming and construction basics. Simple stuff that they've apparently never had to think about living in a cave. They are catching on pretty fast though, I'll give them that. You just have to find the right way to explain it to them, and in terms they'd understand. Their first few attempts are probably going to be a catastrophe, but they apparently don't give up easy when they get an idea in their head. Any information we tell them spreads throughout them at a pretty fast rate. I guess they like gossip. They still smell terrible.
Journal Entry 75
We're crossing the edge of the mountains now. It's so cold up here. We're probably a good mile off sea level. The kobolds are all wrapped up in their stolen clothes and some are carrying around burning home made torches for warmth when we're on the move. I'm wearing everything I own. Assuming we don't run into any trouble, we should be back down by tomorrow. Mountain climbing is a whole new experience for me. My hands are probably going to be covered in blisters tomorrow, if not from pulling myself up the rocks, then helping the damn kobolds. Since they've gotten to know us, they've gone from menacing bandits to friendly puppies in disposition. Things would probably be worse off if Marcus wasn't strumming along most of the time, keeping our spirits up. Mike's been pretty quiet, still won't talk about who or what he made his warlock pact with, or the terms of the deal. The emotions coming off him are troubling though. Depression. I've been giving him mental nudges to try and snap him out of it but all I'm doing is keeping him from sliding further down.
Journal Entry 76
Still in the mountains. No big issues, it just got darker out than usual due to cloud cover. We're held up in the remains of a crashed ship. A crashed ship in the mountains. It's been here awhile and doesn't have the extras that the other airship had. So how did it get here? Magic probably. Magic is always the answer. It's a slave ship. The busted remains of the hold is full of chained up, frost covered skeletons. We made damn sure they weren't magic skeletons at first. Just the regular kind. There's no loot here, whoever survived took everything worth taking with them, or it was stripped by passing adventurers. It's warmer inside so we're staying the night and should be on our way come morning. Tried my hand at writing and put a message on the wall in common stating our names, party size, date and where we were going, a note of our passing. It occurred to me afterwards that I used an Earth year and not the local year. How long have we been here again?
Journal Entry 77
We made it out of the mountains. We're camped at a small river, only four feet deep at crossing. We had to help the kobolds cross though, so we're all pretty wet. None of the gear got soaked though, luckily. They like the area and it is pretty good place for them to set up their koboldville experiment. Big open area, some woods not far away, a fresh water river and a lake less than a mile away. They weren't sure what to call it, so I suggested Chicago. Because it's funny. We're splitting off from them come morning and heading on our own. According to the map, we have a few more days travel through some woods and then Aeyllin should be in sight. This fucking trip better have been worth it. We've lost so much and gained so little for it so far. Anyways, we're spending the last night dumping as much info as we can on the kobolds and hopefully it works out for them. Sure they're creepy little lizard/dragon people, but they're nice once they ditch their distrust. Not that I'd want one living near me, they still smell, even after they bathe.
Journal Entry 78
So we've been tromping through the woods for the last few days and suddenly breach the forest edge and plow right into another group of adventurers. They briefly mistook us for bandits but luckily no one was injured. They were heading away from Aeyllin and on their way to some burial tomb/doom maze for loot. We updated our map. Ours had Aeyllin in the wrong place, it's further north. Apparently the city has hundreds of farms stretching for miles to the south, and there's a mine/quarry on the north end. We're in farm country. I'm not expecting any problems, we have a well traveled and patrolled road to follow with several taverns along the way for the farmers. It'll be nice to have some cooked food for a change. And some booze.
Journal Entry 79
We're in our first tavern for the night about half a day from the city. It's got a few rooms we can use. Beds, Yes! Picked up some local history. Aeyllin used to be an isolated elf city way back when, many centuries ago. Used to have a bit of an Aztec flavor to it from hearing the description. Then the place gets flooded with refugees from some war. All manner of races moving in but mostly humans, and the elves, in their short sighted compassion, granted sanctuary. Well, they got mostly outbred almost immediately and now it's a mostly human/half-elf city with spatterings of other races. The only traces of the old culture are some of the more ancient buildings in town. The old forests cleared away for construction and then farming. Sure enough, it has that university we've been looking for in the middle of it. My expectations have lowered since hearing about it though. Everyone has such great things to say about it but they themselves have never been there and they're always saying the same things. Propaganda. The good news is that there are airships there, so if we need to leave, it should be a much easier trip, if not more expensive. Well, either way, we're going to rampage the shit out of that university library if we have to.
Journal Entry 80
Welcome to the wonderland that is Aeyllin. Well, we're in the city. Probably a quarter of the population are magic users of some sort, mostly low talent. We're staying in one of the larger inns. Marcus is staying free as long as he's working as the inn's nightly entertainment. The city is larger than I expected. There must be hundreds of thousands of people here. Whole districts stretch on for miles. It's far larger than any city we've seen so far. There are about 12 districts. We're in the old city, which is the central district, it makes accessing the other districts easier as it's set up as a giant wheel and we're in the hub. Government buildings are scattered all over, non centralized. There is a king, it is a kingdom, but no castle or court. He leaves the running of the city to his advisers and only steps in when he wants something specific to happen. There is almost a public education system (only available to merchant class and up), a local postal service, semi-proper sewage and garbage disposal (they still dump it in the river, just not inside town and down stream) and church sponsored health care. Several churches are sponsored here and to stay competitive, they’ve lowered their healing rates to free for citizens. At least that's my guess. So we can see the university from here, it's off in the 2 o'clock district, pretty big and lit up with magic glows. We're heading in there tomorrow. Today we're just resting and getting situated. My only complaint about this place is that everything is gray. The roads, walls, buildings. Everything is gray stone from the quarry. Granite. That means the city is one giant radiation sink. Wonderful.
Journal Entry 81
So we're in the university. Getting in was easy, we just had to register with the administration. They wanted race, name and where we started from. Rosenbridge I guess. We got a long speech about the rules. No taking anything off campus and no wrecking stuff basically. They were expecting us to be students, but that all changed once it slipped out that we're offworlders. Suddenly we're subjects. So we have an agreement, they help us dig up any information that we can find in their library system and in exchange, they'll study us in non harmful ways. So that's what we did today. We got separated. Poked, prodded and aura sampled. I spent more time with my clothes off standing in front of weird magical devices and having strange diagnostic spells being thrown at me than anything else. I did find out what that tattoo on my arm says. It's in some Draconic script. It means “The.” It could be worse I suppose. Currently we're in the library. While we did manage to learn to read, we're still having trouble with the more complex books, we we have requisitioned an apprentice wizard to help. Nice girl in her early 20's, wit as sharp as a knife. So we are researching planes walkers, traveling, off planes visitors and mysterious talking portals. A written language expert did show up to see our written language, but it's new to him. I wrote up a sample for him, The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, for him to look into. We keep getting random people visiting, apparently our arrival has created a stir. Not everyday they get lost offworlders I guess.
Journal Entry 82
So there have been many offworld visitors recorded across the centuries. Some came as tourists, some came to conquer, but they all came and left under their own power. No tales of anyone being enticed through a portal from any world remotely like Earth. No talking portals either. Why the hell are we here? There's still a shit load of stuff to go through so maybe we'll come up with an answer eventually. Anyways, had a talk with our assistant about what happened to Alex back in Rosenbridge. Apparently strokes are one of the many things that can happen when a spell is cast wrong. It could have been worse I guess. We could have really used Alex and Avery on this stupid adventure. Or Dan. Or the ones imprisoned. Fuck. We should do something about that. We'll go back to Rosenbridge one day and we won't be scared, lost and helpless this time. Then we'll deal with those fucking Winterfield barbarians. So speaking of that, we are invited to attend some of their courses. They have something for nearly everyone, kind of. They actually have some psions around, and some courses for the more magical aspects of Barding and Mike really wants to dig into that Warlock course, find out exactly what he's in for. Not sure what Jason's going to learn though. I don't think they teach grand theft here. Maybe he can resume his apprenticeship at the local thieves guild. He's already checked in with them.
Journal Entry 83
That was incredibly tiresome. Psion class involves sitting in a circle and just mindfucking the shit out of each other while the Professor or Master or whatever he wants to call himself observes and keeps things from getting out of hand and repairing any damage. It's to build strength, learn to adapt defenses and so on. Got tested for telekinetics but got nothing. Might not be ready for that, or maybe I can't do it. Marcus apparently taught the master bard some Earth music. Not sure what Mike was up to, but he was white as a sheet when we met back up. He won't talk about it, but his mind was screaming “demon summoning” at me. Fantastic. Spent more time digging through the books. There was a talking portal in some dungeon, but it spoke riddles and wasn't trans-dimensional. In other news, the master artificer showed up and took a good look at our gear. I gave him a bicycle sketch and hinted at so much more in exchange for figuring out how to keep our electronics charged. Whispers of steam engines touching his mind ever so slightly, mental glimpses of aircraft and cars appearing and fading like a dream. I'm getting better at this shit.
Journal Entry 84
So much philosophical bullshit involved in this class. At least there's no homework. It would be amusing if there was. “Go home and mindrape someone. Exam tomorrow.” Marcus is having the time of his life, and even Mike is starting to relax. Jason's been away quite a bit, says he's learning the craft. So we finished tearing through the archives. Nothing we can use, even the big directory of planes had nothing. Our assistant got some approval and with help, tried summoning a fucking devil to get some answers , but it snapped up tight at the sight of us and wouldn't give up anything. It didn't even want to deal. What the fuck? What does that even mean? I'd be in a worse mood except the artificer master reworked our little static stone a bit and we can use it to charge things! We watched Strange Days again and listened to music. Got Amanda's Ipad charged up and took a look through it. She had brought a shit load of farming information with her and never said a thing about it. I wonder how useful this information would be?
Journal Entry 85
Since we're kind of students, we were invited to stay in the university housing. We took it up because it's saving us money and meals are included. It's a huge underground apartment complex with enough rooms for all the professors, students and staff. Around 400 rooms of varying size. We're put with the students of course. Back in college again. We have such things to teach them. Beer pong for instance. At least that was what came to mind, but no, the place is dead quiet. No fun allowed. More class. Wandered town for awhile and saw some of the sights and then hung around the market. I think this is the first time in awhile that we didn't have some immediate goal to shoot for. This is it, we made it here. Now what? If we can't find a way home, if there is no way home, we'll have to settle somewhere and live out our lives. Radiation aside, this is the nicest place we've been in. What do I want to do with my life? I've certainly gained new skills. I'm sure I could make an excellent dungeon interrogator or mind thief. Blackmail artist maybe. Always with the evil. Maybe because it's all there is aside from peasantry. I'm not a fucking peasant and my skills certainly make lying, cheating and stealing easy. What the fuck.
Journal Entry 86
We gathered up and talked. I brought up our future and we made a plan. We're going to head back to Rosenbridge after we're done here. Did some checking around and the best way back is to circle around the other way. Take an airship to Ashvale and from there, hop a ship to Kinild beach and if we're lucky, take another airship to Rosenbridge, if not , ride up to Wolf lake. From there we should be able to hop on the trade network to Rosenbridge from there. About a month's journey. Not exactly fast, but it looks to be safer than the way we came according to some people we asked. My only concern is that the some of the area on my map says “beware, orcs.” I was told that has been taken care of, that they had been pacified in a war. Always using that word, pacified. I don't like the way that sounds. Some kind of war happened out there that no one is really clear on. Anyways, our classes should last a few more weeks, then we head out. We're already starting to save up some money, from Marcus's tavern playing, Jason's sneakysneaky and I've found an interesting new business. 5 coppers and they get to look at my porn collection on the kindle. It's been hugely popular in the dorms. Did I just accidentally invent pornography?
Journal Entry 87
This last week's been rough. Doing a full on mind attack in the middle of a fight without having to stop. I think I got it down but god damn. How to put it, having to split your full attention at two things at once. Hard core multitasking. Had to visit the healer a few times early on when I fucked up. Speaking of the healer, poked around to see if they knew about the radiation issue. They do know that people occasionally get cancer for no reason, and they can heal it. They believe it's either from the university's dark magics or a sinful lifestyle. When I told them it was all the granite, they thought I was crazy. I learned something else, something very important. It's possible to raise the dead. Resurrection. It's very expensive and doesn't always turn out right though. Should we? I don't know if we should bother bringing them back into this hell hole. They may be the lucky ones, sitting back and watching us from that elsewhere. This world does have a definitive afterlife. Possibly several, it's not clear. I don't know how to feel about this.
Journal Entry 88
Well, there was a festival going on today, a big one. The central district was all done up, song, dance and specialized merchant goods. They're celebrating the season change. They apparently do this for every season, a last hurrah for the last one. Kind of a weird way to go about it, but a party is a party. So let's see, where to begin. Well, that many people having a blast is overwhelming and I nearly succumbed to it and found myself to be bored. So I let myself succumb to it and had the time of my life. Most if it's a blur and I blacked out at some point. Let's see, I danced and got drunk, then I think I got lucky with a smoking hot tiefling chick. At least I think she was hot, I was blitzed at the time. After that it's just broken flashes.. I think I challenged a dwarf to a drinking contest at some point. What the fuck was I thinking at the time. Something happened during nightfall, I think I was leading some locals on a quest to find a goblin townie to see how many beers it took to get him drunk. For Science. I guess. I woke up this morning in a detox room at one of the temples with most of my clothes missing. Luckily I left all my stuff back at the dorm. Got cleaned up, gave my hangover migraine to someone else and here I am. I have to find that damn magic necklace, I bet I got lead or mercury poisoning. I haven't put it on in awhile.
Journal Entry 89
So the master artificer shows up today on a bicycle. Had the peddles on the front wheels like a Penny-Farthing but the wheels were even sized and leather padded. No traction at all, and breaking involved using your legs. Simple but it's a prototype. He was completely taken by the thing though. Took him a few days to figure out how to ride it, but he spent a good portion of today peddling around town and only crashed three times. Being the nice guy he was, and wanting more business, he decided to give me a bonus of a magic purse that duplicates any one.. and only one.. item put in it. Usable once a day. And the item must be small. He did warn me of some rules. No money duplicating, apparently it's illegal and they can find out somehow, and no duplicating magic items. It works on bullets, I tried it. It's a slow method of restocking but it does give me some peace of mind. I still have to be careful. So he's having his apprentices or students refine the bike, he's ready for something new. So I got together with Jason and we drew out some plans and introduced him to the Bessemer Converter. Neither of us knew the right chemical formula other than carbon was involved. I'm sure the master artificer can figure it out, they do make steel here, it's just a slow and tedious process. If he can get it to work, he seems to think we're all going to make a fortune.
Journal Entry 90
Spent time in the archives doing research today. Had a few ideas of some new topics to look up that may have leads. Nothing. It got me thinking though, were we the only ones from Earth that ended up here? Just the ones that showed up in Rosenbridge? Why here, why there? Why us? If we were summoned here, what the hell are we supposed to do? What did that fucking voice want us here for? To kill some king in Winterfield? To run rampant across the countryside? To die one by one? What? Anyways, we have another week before we're done here and we move on. We have enough money saved up. Now I just need my psychic diploma and do the hat toss and I'm good. Been taking some frustration out by practicing sword fighting with Mike or Jason. Jason's slippery as fuck in mock combat. What the hell are they teaching him?
Journal Entry 91
So some crackpot oracle in town, apparently well respected for some reason, runs out of his house in a panic and begins telling everyone he sees that doom is coming to the city unless “he” is stopped. So the guards panic and arrest the first known off-worlder they see. Me. So I'm sitting in a street cafe enjoying some hot tea while chatting up a pretty little half-elf chick about Hemingway when blam. Arrested. Arrested for suspicion to cause doom. Because of a crackpot oracle saw something in his chicken entrails or whatever he uses. Spent a few hours in the city dungeon. Damp, dirty, filled with assholes and rats. Luckily, prison sodomy is not a phenomena known to this place. It took a lot of effort to reach out to Marcus. He finally figured it out, thank god, and managed to talk them into releasing me. Could have I escaped on my own? Probably, but they know where I live. Somehow, we got slightly famous here, between Marcus's earth music, my kindle porn and the artificer riding around on his bicycle every day.
Journal Entry 92
So we had our graduation today. No big spectacle, just a handshake. Most of the students have to move out now, we can still stay because the staff occasionally comes up with something new to experiment on us, and the master artificer likes to keep us close. With that in mind, we're paid up with an airship leaving in two days to begin our amazing Odyssey part two, The Revenge. So with this in mind, Marcus runs up to me today and informs me that one of the girls he's been with may be pregnant. An elf girl. And she's all ready to settle down so he can be a farmer for ever and ever and raise a big family. He's broadcasting anxiety across the building strong enough for every psion in the dorms to pick up on it and he's not in his right mind. I warned him about getting too comfortable in that bard lifestyle. So first thing he asks me, if I can “mind blast” it into miscarriage. No. Just no, that's too far, way too far over the edge. No. I probably could if I tried hard enough but NO. He's not allowed to ask the other students either or I'll erase his childhood or something. So we went over his less criminal options. Man up and become a farmer, Man up and tell her fuck that shit and dump her or Run and hide and meet us on the docks in two days and we'll leave all of this behind. So he's off in hiding until our trip out of here. I let Jason and Mike know. This is going to come back and bite us in the ass again, I know it will. Fucking bards.
Journal Entry 93
So we're on the airship, the Celestial Rose. It's larger than the last one and not an obvious conversion of an ocean ship, but still styled after one. This one is also not sea worthy. Our quarters are better but not by much. At least we have a window this time. It's about 90ft from stem to stern, 20ft wide. I feel it's slower than the other one? Maybe because it's bigger. This one is leaving a magical green fire trail behind it as well. Marcus met us on the docks in disguise and we boarded. No issues leaving. While the people of Winterfield and Brightly thought Aeyllin was an isolationist city, it isn't. They do open trade, just not in that direction and it's mainly exports going out and the occasional adventurer coming in. So the captain of this boat is an adventurous..I think they call them Shifters? Beast person. Very educated. He clearly wants to be an adventurer but he's stuck in the family business. He's a glorified truck driver. On a motherfucking airship. Maybe if I were in his shoes I could empathize with him more. Or you know, mind rape. But I don't want to mess up the captain. The rest of the motley crew is a mix of dock workers and crate stackers, a wizard and their airship repair artificer. There are other passengers, a family of excitable halflings. I haven’t seen too many of them around, and they creep me out.
Journal Entry 94
We're cruising along the coast, a few hundred feet up. Endless oceans in one direction, seaside plains in the other. The occasional beach goer or sailing ship. We did stop briefly, the captain wanted to fish. Pulled out a fishing rod and everything, and while everyone patiently waited, fished over the side, with the airship 50ft over the waves. He didn't catch anything after an hour and we resumed course. Whatever. Hung out on deck past nightfall. Can't see shit out there, not enough light. The pilot is apparently taking the ship up to a few hundred feet and hauling ass and navigating by dead-reckoning, then corrects his course come sunrise when he can see anything. There has to be a better way than this. Airship guide lights? Glowing, floating navigational buoys? Anyways, Marcus is still bleeding anxiety everywhere. I think he's finally realizing what he's been doing, and that yes, running away or not, he's going to be a father and it's not going to be entirely human. There may be others out there to boot, he's been grabbing ass since Wildlake. Ha, what if this is what we were brought here to do, scatter Earth human genes all across the population. Fuck, I've slept around too. Not nearly as much mind you.. God damnit.
Journal Entry 95
Well, here we are. Ashvale. It's a port town, all wood structures with stone foundations and long docks heading off into the curved port. It's large enough to hold at least 6 ships. Currently 3 in dock. It has two airship docks, one of which is in use by the Rose. This town has no protective wall around it, no fence, no outer guard patrols. The guard are apparently just here to keep the drunk sailors from beating each other to a pulp. They don't even have a dungeon. No sewage system. They have a lante collection going around for a tannery just outside of town and everything else gets thrown where it's convenient. The smell is horrendous. We're getting out of here as fast as we can. There's a ship leaving in an hour for Kinild Beach, another port town two days ride away by sail and we booked passage. It's a low draft schooner that used to do longer range runs before the airships came around. It's named the Sea Serpent. Very original.
Journal Entry 96
Well, the Sea Serpent is, of course, a different experience than airship travel. I have experience on the ocean, just not in a sailing ship. Mike has been seasick since he stepped foot on this tub. Badass warlock can't handle the motion of the ocean. We're not even sailing that far off shore. I could easily swim it if I had to. So something had been bothering me. The Sea Serpent was in fact a military vessel originally, then sold for patrols around Ashvale and now it's a cargo hauler. So how does ship to ship combat work? I asked around, a few ex navy dogs were amongst the crew. No cannons. They use a load of easy to work wands and have a few magic users to throw around some force. Then they get up close and have a swashbuckling sword fight. Elven navy, on the other hand, loads up with archers and likes to kite the enemy ship around while pelting it with arrows and magic. They apparently use smaller and faster ships working as packs to accomplish this but can't do deep sea combat as easy when the seas get rough. There are apparently deep ocean trained mages who can whip up a small storm to gain the advantage. A Dwarven or Orcish navy is kind of a joke around the sea salts. I wonder if anyone invented a submarine. They have the magics for it, someone just needs to implement them. It might not be safe though, there's apparently plenty of sea monsters down there and mermaids, sea elves and so on. No one can actually confirm if any of those exist mind you, just a friend of a friend saw one once after having a dwarven drinking contest or somesuch.
Journal Entry 97
Dry land! Kinild Beach. This is a beach side town, half of it is in the ocean, built on stilts with hanging walkways between buildings. The chief occupation of this town is fish and shellfish. Lots of fishing nets, traps, poles, the works. There are no docks. Ships drop anchor and they send out big hovering magic disks to move cargo and people back and forth. Well, it certainly keeps unwanted people away from the ships. The ride was smooth. The material felt like glass almost. I'm pretty sure it's some kind of forcefield spell being put to good use. We're set up in the local inn and are resting for the night. Mike is doing much better and Marcus got baby troubles off his mind. Between the airship and the ride here, I got a suntan. The trip here has been pretty easy so far. So the locals are tan skinned with an odd accent, human. It's funny that listing race is now a common thing. I think I've gotten used to all of this. How long have I been here again? Anyways, the locals. Superstitious but otherwise friendly. The whole place is run by coven of sea witches who make keep the local giant kraken at bay. I didn't see any sign of any giant kraken but I'll take their word for it. They're also strict prohibitionist. Kinild is in fact a dry town. No alcohol allowed. They have a big list of reasons why. Instead, the taverns sell apple cider, Orange juice, tea and rare coffee from the far off lands. It's been forever since I've had coffee. It's pretty good too, hazelnut blend.
Journal Entry 98
Well, we're on the run. Turned out those assholes on the Sea Serpent stole most of our money at some point. By the time we found out, they were all on their ship and the locals weren't going to send a disk over to deal with it. Wasn't their problem as far as they were concerned. I got to the furthest out building and still couldn't reach them. But Mike could. So while they're taunting us from deck and me, Marcus and Jason are screaming back insults, Mike just up and sets their ship aflame with his black fire. It ignited beautifully. So the Sea Serpent is sinking in flames off the coast and of course this is attracting attention. We manage to make it to the inn and hide out while the Sea Witches men search for us. They aren't too happy that we clogged their beach with a sunken flaming wreck. I don't care, those asshole sailors had it coming and I'm sure none of them died, the shore was right there. So we make a quick plan to get out of town. We still need money so we hold up the innkeeper. He doesn't know what a pistol is so just tased him before he could reveal himself to be a retired adventurer and we took everything in the money box. It wasn't much. 20 silvers and a handful of coppers. Not enough to get us anywhere. So I mind wiped the incident out of the innkeeper's head and we get the hell out of town while the guards are elsewhere. So yeah, we're horrible people and I don't care because it was the best thrill I've had in awhile. None of us are even mad at Mike for starting the whole thing either. So we ran full tilt down the trade road. I'm not sure how long it will take to get to Wolflake by foot, probably a week.
Journal Entry 99
Two days on the path and we get jumped by a band of 20 or so Orcs. Right where the map said “Beware, Orcs.” Right where those assholes said I could ignore it. Pacified. They weren't bandits, but they were a war party. I started having Winterfield Barbarian flashbacks but their minds weren't entirely hostile, more worried. We got interrogated at sword and spear point. They're out here keeping reinforcements from getting to Wolflake. Apparently war between the “Pacified” Orc tribes of the region and the kingdom of Wolflake is about to kick off. Again. We ensured that that we were not reinforcements and had no idea what the hell was going on out here, and that we were just passing through. Left out the whole off-worlder/king-slayer/ship-burning parts. They were being mostly truthful, and so were we. So the reason for the war? The Orcs didn't like being pacified. They are a brutal warrior culture with their own honor system, and while they weren't committing acts of banditry and rape, the local Kingdom decided they wanted those lands and that the tribes could suck it. Thus the war. Wolflake won and started a campaign of “Pacification” on the survivors to “Cull the herd” of that silly tribal violence. It may have worked, but instead produced a more tactical minded breed rather than turning them into willing subjects. So we were handed an ultimatum, and it took some mental manipulation between myself and Marcus to pull it off. So mercenaries working for them, or slaves. It's still not what we were aiming for, to just be set free, but it's better than the alternative. So we're being gang-pressed into to the grand army of the united Orc tribes as mercenaries. We get paid too. If we survive. Better than slaves or dead.
Journal Entry 100
So, we've spent a few days moving from camp to camp with the Orc patrol. We finally got dumped off in some larger war camp. There must be a few thousand Orcs, some Goblins, Hobgoblins and even some half orcs here. We're the only humans here. We were introduced to the High command. Battle experienced warlords, a few wise old shaman, an orc paladin of some warrior god and even a druid. Every smile is a mouthful of bad dentistry. The first thing they told us was that deserters get tortured, then killed. After that, they got our skills down and then we got assigned a tent and told to stay out the way, they'll call us when they need us. No pinkskin jokes so far, so that's a plus I guess. The place doesn't smell as bad as I thought it would. Sure, orcs have a different smell to humans, all the races do, some are horrible like kobolds or goblins. Orcs, orcs smell like war. Things were kind of grim until Marcus broke out his guitar and started playing. They allowed it. After awhile they liked it. Sure, he didn't know any traditional orcish songs, but he lightened the mood. Food on the other hand is another matter. Hard tack and raw meat. We had to cook ours. They don't cook theirs. This is going to take some getting used to.
Journal Entry 101
I got called out today. One of the young warriors wanted to see why we were here and decided the best way to do it was to challenge me to a practice duel. It didn't go well for me. I got thrashed pretty good. I think I got a concussion from it. Luckily there are healers around camp, and I got fixed up. I think he felt sorry afterwards? He showed up a few hours later again and decided to tutor me and the others so we weren't such an embarrassment. So working my ass off with a sword on a practice dummy while someone screams at me, often in another language, all day with the others. It's tiresome but I understand that this is stuff I should learn. We're going to be at this for awhile. Swordplay isn't something you pick up instantly. At least I'm not the novice I was those early days. Later, we gathered up and discussed exactly what the fuck we were doing. We're allied with what would typically be the evil races in fiction, versus the shining might of humanity. I can't really say anyone here is evil. Sure, they have violent tendencies but when it comes down to it, this is imperial versus tribal in a land grab. It's a gray situation if I ever saw one. So what can we offer to the war effort? Well, none of us ever served in the military back home and we're not exactly tacticians either. The best we could offer was trying in vain to describe horse stirrups to the master armorer. They don't have those here. In other news, my shaving razor has become useless and now I have to learn to shave the local way. The Orcs use sharp knives. This is going to be a fuuun learning experience.
Journal Entry 102
A prisoner was brought in from a patrol skirmish today. After spending a few hours beating the shit out of him and getting no worthwhile information, they remembered they had a mind taker on the team and called me over. Oh, I got what they wanted, I got more than they ever wanted to know. From tactical information to his daughter's birthday, his son's first wooden sword. Yeah, I made them feel ashamed. I burned it in their heads. Why? They've been suffering at the hands of the kingdom for so long, they've begun to demonize non Orcs. So yeah, I reminded them that they're people too, even if they're enemy soldiers. I also saved that prisoner's life. He's going to be held somewhere else until the war is over, rather than their original plan of just killing him and sending his body back as a message. The warrior paladin liked the idea and decided to take it a step further, to start a prison camp for surviving enemy combatants so that they can claim the moral high ground. Not optimal but whatever, respect points.
Journal Entry 103
So I am banned from gambling here. They have a simple dice game that the warriors play to keep themselves occupied between drinking and decided that I could make the dice roll any way I wanted. I can't, I'm not telekinetic. I bet I could make them think it landed on whatever I wanted though.. The only difficulty would be affecting all of them. So there are no women amongst the warriors here, but there are warrior women, just not here. They have their own camp half a day away on foot. That said, there are non warrior women around. They run the supply chain, moving goods in from the tribal lands to the main camp here and distribute them outwards from there. They're constantly on the move. Anyways, today we got our hands on some goblin beer. It was surprisingly good. Not as good as dwarf brewed, but a respectable second place. Marcus disappeared for awhile and came back saying he got lucky. That said, the supply train wasn't in town today. Just how much did he drink? We're going to have to have a talk with him when he wakes up. Mike has found a use for himself and has become some kind of assistant for one of the camp shamans. He's the only warlock in camp and I guess they have a need for his skills. Jason on the other hand has found one of his guildies in the camp and has been doing whatever it is they do when they aren't stealing everything. High command has decided I'm trustworthy enough to ensure we don't have any spies in camp. Easy enough to do. Spies would be secretive and the more you try to keep a thought a secret, the more you point it out to me. It's like trying to hide a car by standing in front of it and screaming that there is no car there over and over again.
Journal Entry 104
Opening to the camp emotion can be pretty rough, especially with this crowd. Lots of pride and fear. People missing families or having revenge floating around them at all times. More prisoners came in, a whole outer patrol. Things are starting to heat up I think. I pulled some tactical information from them, but not all of it was consistent. Either Wolflake doesn't know what they're doing or they're feeding their patrols incorrect information should they get caught or are overheard. High command seems to think it's the latter. Either way, the patrol came close to the camp, so it's time to move. We're packing up and we're marching come sunrise. We watched Strange Days tonight. It's funny, this decade old cyberpunk movie has become a symbol for home. We know all the dialog by heart by now but we still get the need to watch it again. So we don't forget? So what happens if we do get to go home one day? We're going to be downright traumatized from our experience here; this world is changing us. What happens if I go home and accidentally kill someone in a confused reactionary moment? Will I be able to mindwalk there, or is this something I can only do here? I don't know. Why the hell am I here?
Journal Entry 105
Well, the last few days were pretty rough. Packed up and marched for two days without stopping aside from a single short meal. Set up camp and I promptly crashed into my bedding and passed out. I'm a little sore, but I'm feeling alright otherwise. More sword practice sure hasn't helped though. So Marcus got a fancy new dulcimer from some goblin tinkerer he impressed. It has a very different sound from his beat up guitar, but he adapted pretty quick to it. It made me realize that my sword is pretty beat up, so I took it over to the smith and he's doing what he does. In other news, High Command decided to send Jason off with one of the patrols. He thought it would be fun. I hope he doesn't get captured.
Journal Entry 106
As a headless man once said, Winter is coming. The temperature has been slowly declining, but today was the first time I really noticed it. Jason's patrol is still out, not expected to return for a few more days. Got my sword back, shiny as the day it was made and sharp. The smith did a good job, and not only that, he figured out what we were going on about and made the first stirrups. He made about 3 sets and is letting the cavalry mess with them. So far they've been getting a positive review. The supply caravan arrived today with some new recruits. A hundred or so hired human mercenaries and a hill giant who won't stop cracking lame jokes. He's loud enough to hear from everywhere and he won't stop. Marcus said he's going to go teach him some new ones. What do people that big even eat? Whole cows? So the mercs set up near us Terrans and I've been listening to their amazingly exaggerated war stories all night. Most of them are ex-adventurers who decided being homeless sucked or were taking up the family business. A few are criminals that are looking for a new lease on life or have something against Wolflake.
Journal Entry 107
I managed to get some info about Wolflake from the mercs today. Turns out that this whole area's been a warring shithole as long as there's been history. It's named Wolflake because the whole place used to be overrun with werewolves and then later shifters who settled here. Then the Elves came in and wiped everyone out and settled. Then the Orcs came and kicked the Elves out. Then the Dwarves discovered gold in the mountains and started a war. Then humans. Rinse and repeat in different combinations for thousands of years. The only thing that hasn't changed is the name, and the previous residents scattered out to become wild tribes. On the other side of the Wolflake border is apparently remains of the original Shifter community that's been successfully “Pacified”, and some Wild Elves in the woods to the east. The Dwarves on the other hand, decided it wasn't worth it and left the area long ago. I don't see why it keeps happening, the area isn't that great. The ground is rocky, so farming is a bitch, The only mineral wealth was mined out long ago, the lake is murky. I don't get it.
Journal Entry 108
Jason's patrol arrived today. Decimated but victorious. As Jason excitedly told me, while on an adrenaline high, they plowed right into a trap and were captured in some kind of magic stun net. Put in chains and led off to be interrogated. Jason managed to slip out of his over the course of the night and freed the rest of the patrol, armed up and fought their way out, wiping out the patrol camp at the cost of losing half of their numbers. He had the presence of mind to grab maps and papers from one of the tents and handed them over to High Command. The survivors then fought their way back, surprising and taking down another Wolflake patrol on the way back, at heavy loses. Jason's pretty beat up but he survived at least. After the adrenalin wore off, he kind of went in to shock once he realized what he just lived through and is sleeping for now. I hope they didn't lead anyone to the warcamp. Either way, High Command is impressed and praised everyone involved. I've been picking up a lot of anxiety since then coming from their planning tent. I guess that intel Jason grabbed did not have good news in it.
Journal Entry 109
Well, the Cavalry has been completely outfitted with stirrups and they're working on new routines and tactics. Did I go too far by releasing this idea? It's such a small, simple idea but the consequences are far reaching. To make matters worse, I released it to a bunch of warlike non-humans. Sure, they aren't really bad people but I'm sure the Mongols weren't either if you got to know them. I just get the feeling that maybe I started something that I shouldn't have. So High Command has decided it's time to take action, they want to do something before the snow starts falling. We're going to be taking a small outlying farming community that's been seized by the Wolflake army for supplies. We're going to strip it of everything of value and burn it down to deny the position to Wolflake, then move on to a secondary target while our main camp moves further east for a more defensible position in the mountains. In the meantime, the scout patrols have managed to capture the main trade skiff from the Kinild to Wolflake river run and destroy it. We're slowly cutting off their supply lines. I guess we then siege the shit out of the place. I wonder if they have trebuchets.
Journal Entry 110
-6 bullets. I was in my first large scale battle today. We made it to Wolfdale today, the farming community. About 8 farms, a tavern, housing and so on. The civies evacuated when the Wolflake army spotted us and we moved in. The battle. It started with some magic being thrown around and then a charge. We outnumbered them but even so, the new cavalry destroyed their left flank. Mike stayed in the back with the other casters as did Marcus. I was placed in the third line wave with Jason. We were the wave that came in and cleaned up anything left. I helped flush out hiding survivors. We lost about 40 people on our side but we broke this defensive force. We're going to hold it for 2 days while the food is gathered up and transported to the main camp. Bodies have been looted, prisoners taken and interrogated. I've been in so many minds today, I'm having trouble differentiating my thoughts from stray ones that crossed over. I'm camped up in the tavern with a load of others. Marcus is keeping our spirits high with his music. I don't think I'm going to be doing much else tonight, I ache all over and my head is jumbled.
Journal Entry 111
While we were getting ready to move out, a lone rider shows up with a white flag and hands our Warleader with some scroll. A formal demand of surrender. Terms are surrender and they'll only enslave the tribes. Failure to do so and it's death for all by command of king under the might of whatever god. The messenger survived but he got his answer carved in the corpse he's chained to. Dramatic but effective. The trip back to the main camp should be about two days hard march. We're ready for it. Said goodbye to Wolfdale the farming community, soon it'll be in flames. Once we get to camp, and with the resources we got here, we'll hold out for the winter and start attacking come spring assuming Wolflake doesn't send an attack force. Well, time to move.
Journal Entry 112
Only a day out and we come face to face with one the Wolflake armies. They were on the way to sack our encampment while we were away, but we caught up to them. We have to go through them to get back and they are ready. We're about a mile apart, preparing for the upcoming battle. I'm in third wave again. The numbers appear even. My rough estimate is eight thousand each. The Wolflake army is mostly wearing heavy chain armor and brigandines lots of greyish blue and are using big tower shields. Lots of long spears. I think that they're moving into multiple phalanx formations. Fuck. I wish we had more magic users on our side. The only place that had any great number of them was Aeyllin, each side only appears to have a handful. A handful of casters and one telepath. Marcus has been playing his best courage song to the tune of “We will rock you.” The Orcs have gotten into it. It's fucking inspiring. Mike is as ready as he'll ever be and Jason is getting hyped. I hope someone's watching over us because this is going to be insane.
Journal Entry 113
It's been a few days. Where to begin.. It began to snow at the start of the battle. It was almost cinematic. I used up both magazines of my gun. 16 bullets. After that, it was the sword. It's not easy adjusting midswing to try and hit the holes in their armor. Sometimes I would try and get a few seconds by making them see something else, or just mentally knock them silly. I felt a lot of people die that day. We lost. The cavalry smashed upon the phalanx's flank like the ocean and shattered their defenses. It looked good initially. Then they each were systematically separated and slaughtered, one at a time. They went in way too early. By the time the front line got there, the phalanx reformed. We must have killed half of their force, but we lost almost everyone. I met up with the others. Marcus had taken several arrows but was good enough to move still, Mike was out of magic but had avoided injury. Jason's blind in one eye, a spear got lucky. He was alive but bleeding everywhere. I was still unharmed but exhausted by then. We decided to make a run for one of the other warcamps to warn them and get medical treatment, magic or otherwise. We were caught by a patrol and I was run down by a horse, trampled and speared. There was fighting but then everything faded out. I only remember blackness after that.
Journal Entry 114
I woke up naked and tied to a rack. The survivors dragged me back. I guess I was still alive. I was healed and to be tortured, repeatedly. Not for information, just to make a point. For fighting for the enemy. Any information was just icing. There was only two of them. The cleric and some archivist? The archivist was taking notes it looked like in a huge book. The cleric never got a chance to turn the wheel. I made the archivist think he was with me. He murdered the cleric and set me free. Then stole anything of use from his mind, then erased everything. A mental format. I stole some clothes and managed to find my things nearby, spread across a table minus my sword. The Kindle was turned on. I wonder what they thought of it. I used one of the cleric's spare robes and managed to get out of the dungeon by making the guards think I was him. I left the hood up, so I only had to manipulate the one looking at my face. I escaped and now I'm in town. Welcome to Wolflake.
Journal Entry 115
So I have no money, Mike had the money. I'm hiding out in one of the seedier inns. I..manipulated the innkeeper into thinking that I had paid him in advance for a few weeks and that I was an old friend and certainly not the stranger the guards are looking for. I got a nice hot meal and a warm bed for my efforts. From what I got out of the archivist, the others were not captured and may still be out there. Meanwhile I'm here. Wolflake is a much larger city then I expected. It's certainly no village. It's as large as Aeyllin at least. All plaster and wood structures, stone walls. It's divided up into districts by use. The smithing district is in full production for the war. The market is bustling but a sense of apprehension is thick in the air. Residential is quiet and constantly patrolled. Lots of anti-orc propaganda. The town crier is constantly going off about them murdering babies for food and raping everything with legs. I did the old taser in the alley trick to get some money, not much, but enough for some new clothes. Trousers and tunics. Oh baby. At least they're clean.
Journal Entry 116
I recognized someone today. I was in the market, grifting someone, when out of the corner of my eye I see Avery, dressed in the robes of the sun church. What the hell, what is she doing here? I stayed my distance and followed her for awhile. She went into the local Sun church. I asked around some of the apprentice clerics hanging around outside about her. She arrived in town two months ago to help in the war with healing. A call went for help in the Orc war and she left Rosenbridge to volunteer. They don't know anything about Alex though. Apparently Avery's become a very devout believer in the ways of the sun worshipers. She has become an accomplished healer as well. She's still considered an apprentice but is moving up in the ecclesiastic ranks. I'm going to try and make contact with her tomorrow.
Journal Entry 117
So I met up with Avery today. I just walked up to her while she was out doing her rounds and Surprise, it's me! I surprised the shit out of her. She was ecstatic to see me. So many questions. We found a nice outside cafe and had a long talk. I told her of our adventures to Winterfield, to Aeyllin and back. I left out some things of course, she doesn't need to know our part in king slaying, grand theft everything and child abandonment. She said a prayer for Amanda and Dan. After so long, she assumed that we had all died. She joined the church after a vision, and because she believed she had nothing left. Alex recovered fully and after talking with some spell slingers, found he was more suited for sorcery than wizardry. I could be wrong, but doesn't that require a special genetic background to use? He got some instruction and can throw around spells now. Apparently has trouble keeping control of it and accidentally caused some property damage. He headed off to Aeyllin a little before she left for Wolflake, to learn to control himself better. If my math is right, he was arriving as we were leaving. Assuming something didn't slow down his trip. According to Avery, Alex had been hoping to find us there, he never gave up hope. As for the others, they were shipped to the Wildlake slave pens. Something will have to be done. Anyways, I let Avery recharge her laptop and ipod off my charge stone. She was giddy. Unfortunately, she doesn't have any new movies.
Journal Entry 118
Met up with Avery again for lunch. She put two and two together over the course of the night and realized that yes, I'm the “baby murdering orc lover traitor spy” that escaped from the dungeon a few days ago. She confronted me about it. I wasn't going to lie to her. So then a Paladin showed up and sat down at our table. I felt very uneasy around him. Avery said wasn't going to turn me in to the king, but I was going to be “arrested” under the church and held in protective custody until this war is over or they figure out what to do with me. So I went. I'm not going to fight her, there aren't enough of us left for us to be turning on each other. They let me keep my things. I don't think Avery even knows I have a pistol with me. She did take my journal though, and read through it. I just got it back. She can't decide if she should be furious with me or not after all I've done and all I've suffered through. I think she was more incredulous that I've been documenting it in detail. It's a good thing she doesn't know about the things I didn't document. She is adamant, however, that I need to pay for my sins. Maybe I do. Maybe I'm not done sinning. Anyways, we watched Strange Days and then she left. My “cell” is a plain stone room with a plain bed, a tiny window and some church iconography. It's not exactly tiny and I'm not imprisoned here, I can walk around, just not leave the wing.
Journal Entry 119
Well, I was in that place a grand total of 21 hours according to my mp3 player. The longer I was there, the more... claustrophobic I felt. Avery came to see me in the morning and we talked about what I was doing with the Orcs. Told her my side of things and I may have convinced her that this war isn't about good and evil, it's a landgrab. Come lunch time, she was off doing church duty and I had decided enough was enough and walked out. Poked a few minds to get my way, but I didn't hurt anyone, for Avery's sake. I left her a note apologizing. I'm back at the inn. Not feeling so claustrophobic now. I need to figure what to do. I'm stuck in Wolflake with the guards and now the sun church looking for me. I bet the rest of my team think I'm dead on the battlefield. Thinking back, getting mindraped by Skinhead Mctattoo was the best thing that happened to me on this world. She opened some doors for me. Without that, I'd be truly fucked. At least I have some options. I'm going to poke around town tomorrow and see if I can find anything useful.
Journal Entry 120
Hey, this city has an airship port. I have an idea. I just have to wait for the airship to arrive. Anyways, managed to grift some money and browsed the market. News from the war. The surviving Orc horde managed to sack a few supply caravans and a farm, everyone murdered, dead strung up, babies eaten, etc etc. Between the lines, I'm glad they're still fighting, they haven't given up yet. Picked up some rumors. Apparently the royal castle's been enhanced by a thieves guild turned traitor and even they haven’t been able to break in since. There goes that idea. The city gates are locked up tight, only allowing trade caravans in, and anyone not expected gets arrested. There's also the curfew. So yeah, this place is under martial law. Whispers on the street is that there are some freedom fighters skulking about. I took a look into it that and anyone that knows anything is a toady for one of the noble families, the Rheingrafs. I can't tell if it's an elaborate trap, or a manipulative attempt at a backdoor coup. I'm going to take a risk and dig deeper.
Journal Entry 121
I talked my way into a meeting with these freedom fighters down at the slums. Not very organized. Their plans were odd, probably orders from on high with no context. They have a list of people that need to be dealt with, and I don't mean killed. Publicly humiliated, disgraced and so on. Replaced in a way that won't draw undue attention. Their methods leave something to be desired. Dirty rumors and name calling more or less. I have some ideas on how to deal with this, but is this actually going to help me in any way? Well, it keeps me occupied and I can experiment so I gave it a shot. Target 1. There's a tavern keep in the market district who runs The Wolf's head, that needs to be ruined. I paid a visit during his slow hours, cased the joint. He's a retired adventurer, hard core supporter for the king and his policies. Gives discounts to off duty military. They call him Screaming Howl of Wolflake. Some based around one of his adventures in the earlier Pacification war years ago. Know what else screams? Babies. I put in the niggling fear that it's an insult. That maybe everyone's been making fun of him behind his back this whole time and having a grand time about it. Taking advantage of his ignorance for cheap booze. I'll let that bake for awhile and see how it turns out.
Journal Entry 122
So while #1 is baking, I'm seeing about Target #2. A Madam of a brothel. High class establishment, all the girls are magically purged after every use, silks everywhere. She's been using her girls to gather info on dissidents. I paid a visit. Went for a ride around the block. I'm going to try greed with this one. Maybe she's not getting paid enough for the information. Maybe there are people who will pay more. Maybe she deserves some political favors for all the good she does for the nobles she supports. Nobles that she saved with her information. She looked pretty lost in thought on my way out. We'll see how that works out. In other news, it's time to move out of the inn. Avery left a note on my bed ordering me to return for my own good. No surprise paladins or anything this time. I've since moved in to an abandoned tower residence on the seedy side of town. Not a lot of room, but it has a clean bed I can use and privacy.
Journal Entry 123
I guess I won't get a chance to find out how my experiments are doing. An airship is in town, a small cargo hauler from Hebiry, one of the main trade hub cities along with Rosenbridge and Wildlake. Airships always draw crowds, so I went over to poke around a bit. The last two airships I've been on used a magic dongle was required for any of the navigation stuff to work. Flying one looked easy enough. Who would have the key? The Captain of course. Found him picking up chicks at a tavern after he was done unloading. He didn't have the key. It's locked in a safe on board the boat. I did get the combination though. So I am going to traipse over there, think my way aboard, take the key and fly away. Grand Theft Airship. Fuck yeah.
Journal Entry 124
Clearly I was drunk on success. So I get to the airship pad and SMITE. Paladins. Clerics. Avery. She guessed I'd try and escape. She read my journal again. I am in a lot of trouble. I'm back in the same room, but now I have this thing on my head, some kind of leather band that I can't take off. If I move then a few feet from the church, pain. Avery says it's only pain because I've become evil and it's the church's god influence burning away at the evil. She says that once it stops burning me, I'll be good and can leave. I feel like a child that's been grounded. She confiscated my gun and my charge stone, so I need to see her now to keep my stuff running. To make matters worse, they're all, all of them, wearing glowing temporary tattoos that are blocking me off! Fuck.
Journal Entry 125
So my imprisonment in the church. Avery has been spending her breakfast and dinner with me, we sit and discuss and debate. She has admitted that if she had gone with us to Aeyllin, she'd be in a similar state. If she'd take off that damn tattoo, I could show her, right in her mind. But no, I can't be trusted yet. She's very naive about what's going on out there. Being locked up in a church and surrounded by like minded people all day skews perspective. Divine group think. So yeah I'm bitter. So a little after breakfast, a Paladin walks over and backhands me across the room. I think he broke my nose. Then he heals me and tells me to keep my hands off Avery. Calls me scum. The works. Leaves me there crumpled on the floor. I think he's jealous. I mean, I'm not going to mess with her, even if she's the reason I'm here. She's like a little sister to me. Either way, I need to get out of this fucking place. This is an intolerable situation.
Journal Entry 126
Know what there is to do around a church all day if you're not a member? Sit around and do nothing. Self reflection maybe. Not for me. I have made it a personal quest to find ways of fucking with the paladins. All the church members meet up in the afternoon for their prayer service. That's when I work. Moving things around, hiding things. Rearranging. Sure, it's stupid little pranks but what else am I going to do? I did get some news from my two experiments. The Tavern owner's gone over the deep end and has barred military and even guards from using his place. He may even be behind a minor poisoning of some guard captains. The Madam wasn't as successful. Word is, her backers decided to give in to her demands. How did I find this out? The freedom fighters found me when one of their members were in for magical std treatments. I may have gotten the attention of the Rheingrafs from my work.
Journal Entry 127
News from the war. It sounds like the Orc cavalry is getting its shit together. The town crier is starting to use the throw around the horse mounted demon card loosely now. On the other hand, it sounds like they lost another major battle. The orcs are winning the skirmishes but not the large scale battles. Heavy losses on both sides. Most of the church personnel have been called away for healing and the occasional resurrection for any dead war hero nobles. This would have been a grand opportunity and Avery apparently came to the same conclusion, so I've been leashed. I have a chain around my leg that's connected to my bed post. I have about 20 feet of slack. Just enough to make it to the “bathroom.” Chained up like an animal. This is going too far. This will not stand.
Journal Entry 128
I have escaped from the church. The idiot freedom fighters decided to break me out while the healers were away dealing with war casualties. I managed to get the things Avery took from me. Found my pistol under her pillow. What the hell is that all about? So they unchain me, get that stupid pain crown off me and we make our grand escape. Right to one of the Rheingraf holdings, a decorative cottage near the market. A guest house. One of them was there, all dressed in more layers of clothing that was necessary, even with the cold weather. They want me to work for them under their house spymaster. They didn't offer the position. They told me. People with my skills are few and far between apparently, and they think they can get a political advantage with me under their spymaster. Oh, and escape is nigh impossible. The spymaster can just up and disappear whenever he feels like and for some reason, I can't touch his mind. He's no telepath, he's just impenetrable. He put some kind of magic link on me, so he knows where I am at all times. So I'm still a prisoner, the chains are just invisible this time. I'm a commodity rather than an animal. Wonderful.
Journal Entry 129
So the Rheingrafs. They run half the trade caravans in this kingdom, started as an imports-exports merchant family that got lucky back during the last pacification war and earned themselves a noble title from secretive war profiteering that fucked the other side's logistics. They've tasted power and want more. They are one of the richest noble houses in the kingdom, but have the least amount of political power since they're relatively new to the scene. They have the money but not the connections that the other nobles have. Their secret backroom handshake deals have been few and far between. My new boss, the spymaster, was imported in from afar and is obscenely loyal for some reason. He's one of the elf ethnicities. I bet he was programmed. People don't get this fanatic for nobles on their own. At least I hope not. Might explain why I can't touch his mind.
Journal Entry 130
So the spymaster took me in to the field today now that I got the house history down. This mainly consisted of puttering around the market while he checked his contacts and me making sure that they weren't holding back anything, and the both of us beating the shit out of someone when they were. Half his network is compromised in some way. He's stealthy as hell, but not too good at running a spy network. Ran into Avery. I'm under noble protection now, so the church can't legally touch me, as long as I'm not performing profane undead rituals. Within the city walls anyways. She's upset of course, but I think I got the point across that I am still in danger. I need to get out of this fucking place. I hope the others are still alive.
Journal Entry 131
After all this time, I still wake up some mornings thinking it's all been a dream. Nope. Still here. So we have begun a process of kidnapping compromised members of the spy network and instilling some loyalty. Through mind rape. Mind rape and beatings. I'm actually disturbed by some of this shit. I'm rewriting parts of these people's lives in a few of these cases. It's incredibly draining too, to the point where I started bleeding a few times. I hadn’t done that in a while. Needed a few rest periods to recover. I'm still looking for some way to escape this situation without drawing too much attention or ire. Wandering town is easy enough, the guard long gave up looking for the escaped prisoner and they didn't even have a good idea of what I looked like or any personal information. I'm still a fugitive from the church, but that's on hold as long as I'm under the Rheingrafs. The church has kind of taken it as a personal insult that I keep escaping them. Initially I was just Avery's pet redemption project. Now they've convinced themselves that I'm some kind of criminal mastermind that's insulting their god and shitting all over everything they stand for. Yeah, their magic tattoos have worn off, but their motivations are too deep seated to wipe away in passing. It would take a whole mindrape session to clear that away.
Journal Entry 132
So I got brought along to some royal ball the King was hosting. It wasn't in the castle, no, he has a whole separate building for stuff like this well away from the castle. The Rheingrafs wanted me there for information gathering. Nothing too intrusive. They were all there, dressed in their latest fashionable imports. I had to wear some absurd outfit with multiple sleeves and feathers. There's music and fancy noble food, most of which I wanted nothing to do with. Stuffed mice, various bird tongues, some kind of bone pudding. At least they had seafood. I can deal with that. Lots of alcohol, elven wines, dwarf brews, some rare Margarita knockoff from the south. So the party took place in some huge ball room with lots of mirrors. Mirrors are pretty rare, so this is some kind of show of wealth. There's more to it though, I was sensing people behind the mirrors. Watching. The King never made a public appearance. He may have been one of the ones behind the mirrors. I did hear some gossip, picked some minds. Apparently Winterfield is a huge mess. With no royalty, the advisers tried taking power and then one of the generals seized control and tried forming a military junta. Last word anyone's heard from them sounded like a civil war was about to kick off with the barbarians approaching. They did get another airship though. Someone else must have noticed the gap and filled it. Anyways, after the party I dumped all the info I got on the spymaster, and he's been sorting through it for anything relevant.
Journal Entry 133
I managed to escape! Freedom! I can feel the proverbial collar slip free of my neck. It feels so good! So the spymaster took me out of the city to run the loyalty test on the Rheingraf cattle and horse farm. Some of the news we picked up at the ball seemed to indicate that there was a skim going for one of the other houses. That place apparently was a recent acquisition and maybe old loyalties die hard. So we get out there, it's less than a mile from the city and pretty safe, has regular guard patrols. The workers all come out and look scared as shit. Word's gotten around. It suddenly occurred to me. The guard patrol won't be around for another hour. It's me and the spymaster, some farm hands and the farm accountant. Bang Bang. He took one in the head and one in the chest. He falls over and then just up and disappears. The workers scattered to the wind. I ran in the other direction. I have a general idea where the Orc war camps are, I'll head there and see what ever happened to the rest of my team.
Journal Entry 134
I'm camped out in a small cave in a ravine. I didn't think this through. No food, no water, it's starting to snow. Sure, I could try hunting with my pistol, but I have no knife. I managed to start a fire using some tree branches, dry leaves and my taser. I should have enough wood for the night, but it's so cold. I'm going to try melting some snow for water once enough falls. Hopefully I'll reach a camp tomorrow.
Journal Entry 135
I lucked out and stumbled into one of the Orc patrols. They had heard of me and I was dragged back to the war camp and put in front of the High Command. I was presumed dead and put out of mind, and now I had to convince them I wasn't a spy. That took awhile. I gave up as much information as I could on the situation at Wolflake. Afterwards, they set me loose on the camp. I found the others. I'm glad to see them, and they the same. They thought I was dead when they left me behind in their retreat. It sure felt like I was at the time. They're doing well. Marcus has some scars he seems to think will impress the ladies. Mike's doing fine but he's pale as a sheet. Jason ultimately lost his eye, but one of the camp spell casters gave him a replacement. More or less a Ruby jammed in the vacant eye socket. He says he can see better than fine with it. It's creepy as hell to look at though. I told them of my time in Wolflake, about Avery and her news on the others, about the Rheingrafs and my escape. We watched Strange Days. I'm about to sleep. I'll find out how the war is doing from this side's perspective in the morning.
Journal Entry 136
This is a war of attrition. The Wolflake armies are winning the battles but taking such heavy losses that they can't easily resupply, especially with most of their ground supply lines broken by the Orc raids. The Orcs on the other hand, have yet to have a decisive victory. The battles are usually routs with most of the survivors retreating. They can bring in replacements easier, mercenaries, but that can't go on forever. The cavalry is adapting nicely to the stirrups, but there aren't enough of them to make a big difference, and they've been taking losses from the enemy phalanxes and archer lines. Since I've last been here, they managed to get some artillery. Catapults. They've been using them to launch tar covered, burning hay bales in to the phalanxes during the opening salvos. Too bad we can't get our hands on some “alchemist's fire.” It's some variant of greek fire/napalm. It's apparently hard to come by out here. They also just got a shipment of specially trained war dogs. Big nasty things trained to go after anyone with the Wolflake symbol on them and follow verbal orders. I got a new sword, a longsword. It's seen better days. The blacksmith described it as “experienced.”
Journal Entry 137
It's been a few days. I have been sent out with a raiding party of about 30 mercenaries, mostly human. We're sacking a trade caravan heading in from Kinild by land. I almost feel like a bandit. We're camped out off the side of the road under heavy brush, snow, in ditch and waiting. It's pretty boring. A few of the guys are light sleepers and taking a nap, even though it's bleeding cold out. The rest of us are keeping ourselves entertained with war stories while watching the road. We have a few two man patrols making sure no one is sneaking up on us. No idea how big this caravan is, or even what it's carrying, just that there is one. One of the mercs has some heating stone, stays a new warm temperature he's been using to keep his hands warm. I gotta get me one of those. My Terran compatriots are back at camp. They're learning to ride horses. I feel all left out. It's kind of funny. Our big plan was to get to Rosenbridge and free our friends and they aren't even there anymore. Alex would have just missed us, Avery's gone native. The others are who knows where and probably in a bad situation, as they were slaves last Avery heard. I guess the next goal after this war is the Wildlake slave pens and then where ever they've gone. I'll be pissed if they got sent to Winterfield or Aeyllin. Running in fucking circles.
Journal Entry 138
We ransacked the caravan all right. 10 guards, 20 or so merchants, staff and passengers. Most of the guards went down, only two surrendered and they didn't even put up a fight. Our prisoners are being stripped of valuables and being sent to another camp to be ransomed back. Our cargo haul looks to be food supplies, smithing ingots, spices, what I thought was mage reagents, clothes and a chest of gold coins. Bribe money? Taxes? But why is it heading towards Wolflake? I felt I had to know. So I poked around in some of the survivor's minds. This caravan was a shipment for the church of the sun worshipers from one of their larger central cathedrals. They don't do their own caravans, they use third parties. Whoops. If they ever find out I was involved in this.. I can't let Avery read my journal next time she catches me. Part of me is worried, part of me can't stop laughing. So we're heading back to the war camp with our riches, should be a two day ride. We're certainly more armed then their original guard retinue. Wait, why was the church getting money? They operate on tithes, cleric services and don't pay taxes. The caravans drivers don't know anything about it. Something's funny.
Journal Entry 139
I'm learning to ride a horse. We're still on the way back. I've already fallen off twice, luckily didn't get injured. No stirrups of course. So I've been thinking of what else I can do for the war effort. Just to tip the balance. I'm sure Jason and myself could rig up some kind of scale model trebuchet for them to learn from, but that's more of a siege machine than battlefield artillery. Maybe the Chinese repeating crossbow, but I don't actually know how that works. I really don't want to introduce gunpowder. It's easy enough to make, they have most of the ingredients back at camp. Hell, we have the ingredients to make some here in the reagents crates in the caravan we're taking back. Anyways, the Orc cavalry is already starting to experiment with horseback archery, maybe the OH FUCK.
Journal Entry 140
I met with the others soon as we got back to the camp. I dragged them over to the caravan and we went through the materials. Between the ingots and reagents, we figure there is enough to build one simple cannon and fire it multiple times. Does that mean the gold is to pay a smith to make it? What's going on here? Maybe it's coincidence. Maybe Avery told them things she knows this world isn't ready for. If this was to be given to the Wolflake military to copy, that would be very bad. Okay, so what right do I have to decide what technology the locals can and can't possess? They have magic. At the same time, I've already been irresponsible with handouts. I'm conflicted. Anyways, I gave Jason the go ahead see if he can't help the camp bow maker invent the recurve bow while the rest of us figure out what to do.
Journal Entry 141
The recurve project went bust. The bow maker doesn't have the aptitude or creativity to get what we're trying to describe. Maybe we need a proper artificer. So we went back to the drawing board and had a long talk. If Wolflake is going to have explosives, then so should we. We aren't going to give them cannons, but we are going to give them gunpowder. We'll show them how to make a ceramic or wooden barrel grenade. Something they can fire from their catapults. Something simple. We'll let its usage evolve on its own from there. There's the high probability that someone is going to blow themselves up from this. Mike and Marcus are mixing the chemicals now to produce the first batch. I've had a lot to think about over the past few days. We're making a bigger and bigger impact on history as time goes on. Is this what we were brought here to do?
Journal Entry 142
Well, we held our first demonstration today. We made a small prototype using a clay jar, filled it with metal shavings from the blacksmith and packed it with black powder. We found a nice safe place and set up some of the training dummies complete with scavenged Wolflake armor. We had Mike light it from his maximum casting range and all took cover. It took a minute before it went off. The Orc's first reaction was that it was just a fireball spell anyone could use. Then they examined the area. The armor shredded from shrapnel, wood pulped, some rocks destroyed. I think they got the message. These aren't toys. We have enough ingredients to make 20 more of the hand variants, or 5 big ones for the catapults. They wanted us to make the big ones. High Command doesn't consider us just mercenaries anymore. We now have bodyguards.
Journal Entry 143
I'm pretty sure Marcus has developed a relationship with a half-orc girl in one of the Orc supply caravans. Every time they show up, he vanishes for awhile. Doesn't he remember what happened in Aeyllin? God damn bards. So we have our catapult bombs. We sealed them with wax and buried them in crates near the armory with clear markings so some idiot doesn't accidentally blow the whole thing with a torch. It'll take a directly aimed fireblast to trigger them now. Maybe. We'll dig them up when it's war time. In other news, still learning to ride a horse. I don't even know enough about horses to describe it's breed, or Earth approximate breed. All I know is that it's brown and named Medley. I have no idea why. It certainly doesn't sing.
Journal Entry 144
Winter is in full effect. We had a blizzard today. Everything's frozen. At least our camp was set up to avoid the harsher winds. Not a lot to do while sitting around the fire, shivering. So I started asking questions. I was wondering why the Orcs never use their own Phalanx formation in the war. Many different answers. Simplest answer? It's not their style. They don't care much for the long spears and big shields and tight formations. They rarely use shields and if they do, it's always something small like a buckler. Sure, they can withstand physical trauma better then a human, but really. Their tactics are more suited to smaller scale tribal conflicts, which makes sense. That's what I've observed so far. Not so good at war, pretty good at skirmishing. It fits their tribal mentality. If these guys ever get organized into a proper civilization, they'll be a real force to be reckoned with.
Journal Entry 145
Well, Marcus got drunk, sat down in the middle of camp and sung the entire 50 States Capital song followed by the most hilarious dulcimer rendition of Barracuda. We quietly dragged him back to his tent. I'm good enough on a horse now that I went out on a mounted scout patrol. Important or not. I needed to get out, even if it's freezing cold. I was kind of babied along by the others. Us Terrans have become well known. Just like in Aeyllin. Speaking of that, I wonder how the invention of the bicycle is going. Anyways, nothing new on patrol. We left sunrise and came back sunset. My hair was nearly frozen, even with a hat.
Journal Entry 146
It's cold enough that my pen ink is starting to freeze up. I've been having to hold it over a fire for a bit to get writing again. This may be the last Entry for awhile. We're hunkered down and practicing for war, holding mock battles and when we're bored, snowfort fight with the goblins. The trade caravans to Wolflake have apparently stopped for now according to our intel. This world doesn't have a Christmas. What a shame. This kind of hit me hard, because I realize how little I've thought of my friends and family back home. I'll never see them again. Us Terrans have pretty much become my new family. At least there's that.
Journal Entry 147
The Spring thaw is finally here and the ink in my pen has defrosted enough to use again. The war camp is packing up soon and we'll be on the march. It's time to get this war underway. So, in the interim, I've gotten better at horse riding and sword fighting as has Jason. Mike learned some new tricks and Marcus...got his dulcimer tuned. Both metaphorically and not. Anyways, it looks like our precautions on our catapult bombs worked, they're still dry. Good news with that. Our scouts report that Wolflake is already on the move and that they have people with them wearing the iconography of the sun worshipers on them. Fucking fantastic. I knew it would come to this.
Journal Entry 148
Our first major victory. The battle of Wolfgate, a tactically important fort right in the middle of the kingdom, right on the two main trade roads and supplied by the river and nearby farms. We met the enemy army and they immediately retreated to this area, a better position for them? So we're lining up and they're getting into their phalanx, we're about even in numbers, at least ten thousand. Spellcasters burning everything they have in the opening volleys, archers firing in high arcs. The sun worshiper paladins and clerics start going through their wounded and bringing them back up. Then we unleashed the catapult bombs. We did the math, checked and rechecked the angles. 5 fired, 5 explosions, shrapnel everywhere, right in the middle of their formations. Fear and Panic in the air. Chaos. Then the cavalry and the first wave hit with their war dogs. It became a one sided fight. Wolflake tried retreating but were cut off. Prisoners were taken, wounded taken care of. Jason and I spent hours going through the dead looking for Avery. She was luckily taken alive. The battle traumatized her. I'll visit her once she's recovered and we'll see what's what.
Journal Entry 149
We have taken Avery into “Terran Custody.” Marcus, Mike and Jason were excited to see her, and we all sat down and had a long talk around a fire. Avery was furious that we leaked gunpowder to the Orcs. I countered with the captured caravan with the cannon ingredients. She claimed to not know anything about it, just that a new and important church weapon was being delivered. And she was telling the truth. We all sat in silence for awhile with that reveal. Someone else leaked cannon design to the church. Either Alex or the others. This is not good. So I informed Avery that she is a prisoner of war and in our custody, and that I was going to take the moral high ground and not chain her to a fucking post or shove a slave crown on her head like she had done to me. As long as she's with us, she's under our protection. Let's see how she likes it.
Journal Entry 150
Stop reading my fucking journal Avery!
>Then stop leaving it out for me to read!
Journal Entry 151
We've reaped anything worth value from the fort and it's surrounding lands and burned it all to the ground. We then made for the highlands to set up our new war camp while we prepare for battles to come. Avery has not taken well to hard marches. I don't suppose you get a lot of exercise when most of your day is spent on your knees. So we are trying to figure out why the sun church threw their hat in the war. Possibly for massive political favors and/or donations? Maybe a chance to become the head church of Wolflake? Avery has been completely blind to the politics running rampant through Wolflake and was shocked to find out she was being shipped to the front lines with her fellow clerics and paladins to lend support. Our camp paladin, follower of one of the warrior gods, wanted to listen in on this and even he agrees that it doesn't make sense for the sun church to have joined up like that. Even he isn't here on official business, he's here because this is what he does. The sun worshipers aren't warriors, at least that's not what they've been preaching.
Journal Entry 152
We have gotten new materials and produced 10 shrapnel bombs for the catapults. Carefully sealed them and have them in a safe place until we need them and have them under guard. Avery hasn't tried escaping, she's rubbing it in that she can take her punishment and won't go running off at the first opportunity like I did. Yeah, she isn't chained to a post either, or getting punched around by bored paladins, not to mention SLAVE CROWN. I'm not holding grudges, oh no. Not me. So she has spent her time wandering around the camp preaching the word and getting a lot of dirty looks. She then took Mike aside and had a long talk about his pact. I'm not sure what was said but they both came out of it pale and quiet. So the war. Wolflake has refused to capitulate of course and High Command is deciding where to strike next. I'm always ready to suggest sacking of the Rheingraf holdings. There's always the chance that Wolflake will gather all of its forces and come for us instead, so we are gathering our forces up. Our camp grows daily. We've already replaced the numbers lost in the last fight. More recruits. This time an elven band of archers from the wild elf settlements on the east border who have also experienced Wolflake pacification in the past and decided that maybe they should get in on this. They don't wear a whole lot and are surprisingly barbaric, but highly disciplined in combat, or so they say. Quite the multiracial band our side is turning into.
Journal Entry 153
The battle of Aganis Field. Finally, a location without Wolf in the title. The area is one of the unfarmable plains in the kingdom, boulders and rocks that they can't easily break up so the kingdom put anything that smelled bad. Leather tanneries, soap making and so on. The fumes in the area burn everyone's eyes. We didn't even plan on a fight here, we were passing through when one of the smaller Wolflake armies showed up, also passing through the area. They held their ground and so did we, then the fight was on. We set up two of the bomb catapults. Archers and casters tossing everything they have and then we fired the catapults. The enemy pulled into a Testudo formation. Really. It didn't help them a bit though, their formation was blown apart and cavalry wrecked them before the front line slammed into them. Avery sat out the battle on the hill with the other non combatants, but she came down afterwards to give her healing support. Prisoners taken, the nobles sent to be ransomed. We looted the area afterwards and got the hell out of there. Everything smells now.
Journal Entry 154
Before we can even get to our next camp location, another small force showed up and pressed to assault, in the hills no less. Just as normal, everything set up, and right when the expected first exchange of magic and archery is to take place, Wolflake goes into a full horde charge. No formation, just a rushing, screaming line. Yeah, there's a reason why that's a bad idea. Without their own casters to defend, ours wrecked their rush followed by the archers. Half their forces were down by the time they got into melee engagement range. What the fuck is this all about? Most of us never even had to draw our swords, the catapults were never set up. It was a decisive victory. This isn't even desperation, it's suicide. Very few survived and their story was that they were following orders, got convinced that this was the way to beat our catapults. We didn't find any officers amongst the dead or living. I think they ditched the battle as soon as it started. We set up camp nearby. Avery is burning herself out healing the injured, but she's still preaching. At least she's helping.
Journal Entry 155
Marcus is writing up a song to commemorate the war and the mostly exaggerated heroic deeds of our side. I'd be more impressed if he wasn't ripping off Queen again for the melody. Well, I ran into another psion. Apparently the wild elves brought one with them to make sure they weren't being fucked over by the Orcs when the war is over. We had a polite conversation and exchanged ideas. I also got a better idea of the elf perspective in this fight. They were descended from one of the earlier groups to fight over this area over and over again and due to their long lifespans, several of them still recall times when they were in charge of Wolflake and losing the battle that left them scattered to the wilds. Surprisingly, they aren't all that interested in retaking their former glory and just want some equal footing and be allowed to do their own thing rather then worrying about pacification forces tearing through their settlements every few years. Understandable. In other news, I found out what Avery and Mike were going on about a few days ago. Apparently Avery said that there was a way to save his soul but he had to give himself to the church. Mike, took it pretty hard and retaliated by suggesting that Avery was also in a pact just like him, just with another organization. That Clerics were just Warlocks with another name. She didn't like that one bit.
Journal Entry 156
We're on the move again. Our scouts in the field noticed an airship flitting about in big circles and figured that the crew lost control of it. A few hours later it made about 20 passes over our main encampment. I'm pretty sure they're using the cargo airships as fast scouts now. The only question is why they didn't start doing this sooner, or fill it up with archers We're packing up camp and moving to a more secure location and preparing for a surprise attack. If we don't see any sign of the enemy, we're going to sack Wolftail Mills. Why is it called Wolftail mills? No one knows, it dates back to the old original shifter colony, and they liked to put Wolf in the title of all the settlements. No one has bothered to change it. It's a good indicator as to how long an area's been settled or used. So this is the place where all the wheat from the outlaying farms is shipped to be processed along with other foods. There's even a massive brewery and winery. I'm starting to see that there is a big chain of production going on in the kingdom rather then having each farming settlement process their own goods. Is this more efficient or is this an effect of bureaucracy expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy? Either way, taking it down should be a nasty blow to Wolflake's supply system.
Journal Entry 157
Sure enough, Wolflake sent out a huge army, at least as large as the force at Wolfgate Fort. So, the Battle of Wolftail Mills. We set up the catapults quickly in case they did another horde charge, but no. Something else happened entirely. I knew something was up when they arrived. They had 30 or so of the big caravan carts with them. We initially thought they were an unusually guarded supply train before they started getting in formation. Phalanx. The initial archer and magic volley's began, but their side never threw offensive spells, just the defensive ones. We launched our catapult bombs, all 8 of them this time. The enemy ranks were thrown into chaos and then we moved in. They put up a good fight this time, all our waves were deployed. Just as it looked like another rout, the carts started unloading. Skeletons. Zombies. Undead. The enemy spellcasters did their thing and the slain enemy soldiers started getting up as a fresh batch. It's the first time I've seen anything like this. I felt a chill go down my spine. I had heard stories but here it is. Every nation and religion that we had come across had banned this type of thing. What the fuck is going on here? Neither my skills nor my pistol are any good against undead. I had to rely on my weaker swordsmanship. The archers weren't much use either except for picking off the living enemy, which just made more undead. We started losing ground quickly. The undead don't care, they keep fighting even with half their limbs missing, any casualties on our side rose in service of theirs and they weren't letting us anywhere near the casters who rose them. Something happened with Avery. She had been sitting in the back with the rest of the non-combatants. She snapped I think. She walked right into the middle of the battle and lit up like a fucking beacon. She picked up a mace and went to town. I didn't know she had it in her. With her help, we managed form a wedge and push right through to the caster line. They pulled into a full retreat once we got near, taking whatever undead servants we didn't utterly destroy. We lost nearly half our forces in this fight.
Journal Entry 158
Well, after all that excitement, we burned down Wolftail Mills and hauled ass out of there. Though we won, we suffered major losses in this fight, and it'll be time and money before High Command can get our numbers back up. So what would drive a nation, well respected by the other kingdoms, to break out the necromancers? Is the king that afraid of losing? Every church that doesn't break ties with them now will be turned upon by the people, this type of shit doesn't fly. The people of this world are highly superstitious and marching around undead is one of their greatest taboos. High Command has deployed messengers to everywhere possible to spread the news. Avery's been in prayer since we set up our tent. Does her god answer her? I don't know how that works here.
Journal Entry 159
Avery got her answer apparently. She declared that she will now give her full support to the war effort by her god's permission. So wait, the sun god is officially supporting both sides of the war now? Dealing with this gives me a headache. Our scouts in the field have been reporting roving bands of undead, usually groups of a hundred, give or take, in Wolflake armor, moving from location to location. Most often at night. Maybe the King is some kind of lich. I didn't think much of it then, but he was hiding during that ball I attended under the Rheingrafs and his castle is impregnable and off limits to non officials. Then why is the church supporting him? Especially the church with a hardon for smiting undead (and terran psions.) I know you're reading my journal Avery, stop it!
>I'd like to see you try and stop me.
Journal Entry 160
We got some more people in from the tribes, fresh warriors and some goblins. They came in with the supply caravan along with a supply of some kind of wards the tribe shamans made to help with the undead... I don't know how effective these would be but there aren't enough. They're being given out to the front line forces. Sure enough, Marcus vanished until they left and came back with a smile. So yeah, we're all pretty sure he's got a half green sweetheart. We're set to pack up and march in a day or two to a new position out in the hills with a view of the main trade road. Supposedly it's very defensible. From there, we'll wait a few weeks for more recruits and then head out and see about ending this undead menace.
Journal Entry 161
One of our far patrols came in today. They reported that there's been no Wolflake military activity in the field. What's worse is that there's a massive undead army guarding the main gate to the city itself and it looks like parts of the city are on fire. Avery is particularly upset about news of the city, she knows people there. Jason seems to think a zombie apocalypse has broken out. Maybe it has. Maybe it's a rebellion. Maybe the Reingrafs are making their move. High Command has decided that we're going to start pushing forward, even with our decreased numbers. They want to know what's going on. We're going to make for Barrason Fort, a few miles from the capital and try and occupy it, and bring enough supplies for a siege. We start marching come sunrise and should be there in a day and a half.
Journal Entry 162
We took Fort Barrason without lifting a weapon. Only a small force was occupying it by the time we arrived and they surrendered when they saw us coming. According to the fort commander, their numbers have been dwindling over the course of the month, a handful recalled here and there and the last week, it's been one or two soldiers at a time until all contact with the city was cut off four days ago. He doesn't know what's going on with the undead other than orders to not attack them and treat them as any other Wolflake soldier. We can see the city from here. Large smoke clouds billowing from several spots hidden behind the massive walls. We have our cavalry archers out poking at the massed undead force at the gates. In the meantime, us Terrans have scoured the camp and have been making some more bombs. We have enough for 3 catapult bombs. Avery went and blessed the shrapnel we were putting in them. I don't know if that will actually work and neither does she, but it's worth a shot.
Journal Entry 163
Today we saw one of the supply airships come in from the east and circle around for a while. We tried flagging them down and managed to catch their attention. They didn't land, but hovered up near one of the higher towers in yelling distance. They're from Hebiry and were coming in on a scheduled supply run, but weren't going anywhere near the airship port with the way things looked down there. Hebiry's not involved in this war and thought we were in the process of sacking the city. Apparently it's that bad inside. High Command paid them off to drop their cargo at one of the tribal camps since it's apparently stuff they can use. Clothing, spices, weapons, other manufactured goods. They went for it. They're in it for the profit and don't care who gets it, as long as they have their money.
Journal Entry 164
Jason, while on night watch, caught something going on at the city gates. His replacement eye/ruby gives him some kind of vision enchantment. The front gate opened a little and more undead streamed out, then the gates closed. When sunrise came, it looked like most of the fires inside had been put out. I have this sense of foreboding. We're adapting a new weapon. We found two barrels of lamp oil in the fort storage. Mike is trying to thicken it up some and we're going to make some molotovs using a few used glass potion bottles. The plan is that we're going to arm the cavalry with them and have them firebomb the undead army guarding the gates and then get the hell out of there. We only had enough bottles to make 14 of them. High Command is willing to give it a shot but wants the rest of the oil set up to use as catapult ammo.
Journal Entry 165
You know, I've been in this fucking country for far too long. If we never got caught up in this war, who knows where we'd be by now. So the cavalry rode out, got close enough to toss their molotovs and made a quick getaway. A few came back with arrow injuries but nothing serious. We watched the undead burn from the fort. They burned for hours, dead skin burning away, just standing there without a care in the world. The only time they moved was to keep the fire from spreading from the front gate. After awhile a good portion of the zombies collapsed, and an hour later, got back up as black charred skeletons. Fantastic. To make matters worse, a fresh group exited from the city a few hours after that. Jason decided to volunteer along with some other similarly skilled individuals to climb the wall during nightfall and see what's going on over there.
Journal Entry 166
Jason returned. He and his group saw no sign of any patrols on the wall. They were out there until sunrise. He snapped some photos with his ipod. Most of the city is decimated, especially the residential district. The market abandoned and filled with corpses. No sign of anyone living, just the occasional wandering undead. The church of the sungod is still standing but all it's iconography has been removed and he said that there are lights coming from it's windows. The noble's district and castle also seem to be completely untouched and is the only places they saw anyone living moving around. They managed to catch a group of undead moving from the military barracks to the front gate on their way out. High Command has decided that the city is a loss and we're going to pull back to the tribal lands until they can figure out what to do.
Journal Entry 167
We're on the move. Our wild elf mercenaries have been recalled back to their lands to warn and prepare. We should make the orc tribal lands in a few days. Then what? High Command seems to think the war for Wolflake is over, that the whole area is cursed. I guess they did accomplish what we set out to do, put an end to the pacification raids, but now there's undead building up. I think they're afraid. I'm sure I'd get my jaw broken if I called them that to their face though. Facing down undead seems to have hit some deep seated fear. So the plan is to get back to the tribal lands and fortify and hope the undead stay away. Marcus has suggested that with the possibility of gunpowder becoming wide spread, that they should build a trace italienne. A star fort. He's currently designing up some blueprints.
Journal Entry 168
I am so disappointed right now. We made it back to the tribal lands and set up camp. The next morning, all mercenaries were paid their dues and released from their obligations. The war is officially over. Just like that! With the undead waiting around the corner. They think fighting the undead is a futile task. I'm pissed, which is funny. We never wanted to get involve in this stupid war and here I am, disappointed that it's over without a proper conclusion. We gave them knowledge so that they can finish and instead they back out because of superstition. Sure, I could manipulate some of them, but I can't manipulate all of them. So what now? We have our horses, I think we're just going to get our asses to Hebiry while we still can. Maybe follow the trade loop and see if our compatriots are still in Wildlake. Fuck.
Journal Entry 169
We should be in Hebiry in a few days. Our time in the war taught us good places to set up camp and how to properly keep watch. We've run into several small undead patrols. Usually three or four zombies or skeletons, which we have dispatched with Avery's help, and cremated the remains to make sure they won't be getting back up. We'll be at the Wolflake border by tomorrow and I can't say I'll miss this place. I wish the best for the Orcs, but I do believe that their decision was wrong. The undead menace needs to be taken care of eventually.
Journal Entry 170
We passed into the nation of Hebiry last night. The road we're on is set in a tight valley. It used to be heavily traveled until the war broke out and now the undead menace. We came across a border guard not long after crossing. We got stopped and asked questions, but they were polite. We updated them on what's been going on across the border, the undead and the war. They didn't say much but they're worried. They will of course need to see for themselves, but at least they know what to expect if Wolflake decides to expand. We are camped at cave on the side of the road that's been furnished for trade caravan use. The walls are covered in graffiti, writings of names, dates and destinations. It looks like they date back hundreds of years. Not to feel left out, I added our information to the wall using Earth time. According to my calculations, we've been here either almost or a little more than a year. I looked back to my first few entries. I've come a long way.
Journal Entry 171
I got to sleep in a real bed! Eat a meal in a warm tavern! It's been so long. So, welcome to Hebiry. One of the main hub cities on the trade circuit. Brick and plaster construction with a large granite outer wall, the city is circular in design, set up like a hub similar to Aeyllin but not nearly as large. Cobblestone streets that are well maintained and pride of the city. Apparently each stone has a name carved in it dating back to the first generations who built the city and settled here. The main export from this city is wines, cheeses and tomatoes, supplied from the many farms. So, first thing in the morning, Avery heads off to the local branch church to check in. She wanted an escort but I'm not going anywhere near that place. It's clear that she doesn't know what to expect. Marcus went with her. He's the least likely of us to be branded evil and chained to something. Jason headed off to check in with his guild which left Mike and myself. We hunted around the market for anything interesting. I got a new set of armor, some new clothes and some supplies. Mike got a magic ring that he says has healing properties, clothes and a bottomless bag which is some kind of knockoff bag of holding. Even with subtle manipulations, those magic junk merchants are a pain in the ass to get a good deal out of.
Journal Entry 172
Well, Avery returned with news. The local sun worshiper church heads don't know anything about gunpowder or sanctioned deployment for Wolflake and are taking the news of what happened as an attack on their church. So they're doing whatever it is they do. We are going to stay around town for a few days before heading out. It should be a two days ride to Rosenbridge. It's been a while since we've been there. The place where it all started. So we have been puttering around town, seeing the sights. The food here is excellent. So I was sitting in a cafe with the others discussing our plans when something caught my eye. Someone writing with what appeared to be a pen. It was larger than my ballpoints, but it was definitely a pen. Looks like my old artificer friend finally managed to make it happen. I'll have to pay him a visit and see about collecting my share and see what else he's managed to make.
Journal Entry 173
Went through the market today again, some new caravans passed through yesterday. Something caught my attention. A recurve bow. I didn't think they had those here. It didn't look new either. I questioned the seller and it's apparently from a kingdom far to the south and quite rare. The price tag on it was absurd. Avery picked up some things from her church's store, Jason picked up a set of new steel shortswords and Marcus traded in his beat up old dulcimer for a guitar. We're planning on heading out tomorrow and following one of the smaller trade caravans across to Rosenbridge. The area is well traveled and I'm not expecting any trouble. We watched Strange Days again. I wish I had more movies with me. We know every scene, every dialog, all the music lyrics, but it's all we have.
Journal Entry 174
So here we are, camped out for the night on the road with a trade caravan that we were following. Marcus is playing some music when all of a sudden Jason starts acting funny. Suddenly this figure just appears out of thin air and before he can shove his knife through my throat, Mike tackles him. We dog pile the motherfucker and try to put on a beatdown. He slips free and gets ready to attack when Jason manages to shove one of his swords through the guy's back. We bring our lights over and I recognize him. It's the fucking Rheingraf spymaster. The one I killed. He doesn't appear undead. So I shoot him point blank three times. Before I can fire a fourth he's gone. Just...poof. Not there anymore. Fuck. This isn't over.
Journal Entry 175
Ah, wonderful Rosenbridge. It's been so long. It's different now, at least to me. I'm seeing it from a different perspective, as someone who is used to what this world has to offer and not a lost and confused offworlder. We visited some of our old haunts, the alleyway, the haunted house, the docks where we worked for our first coppers. I checked around for the artificier, but he's apparently in Wildlake. Avery went to check in with the church and make her report, and Jason ran off as well. Mike, Marcus and I did some checking around, anything about us foreigners, any news of the other three. Our leads led to the guard captain. We caught him off duty on the way to his residence. I dug deep. Rosenbridge is under control of a wealthy Baron, but the orders to hunt us down was given by one of his advisers. We're going to pay him a visit tonight and see what he has to say. I made sure the guard captain didn't remember a thing, but I also left a little something behind in the back of his mind. Doubt.
Journal Entry 176
Avery and Marcus stayed at the inn during our escapade. Avery made us promise that we wouldn't kill anyone. The adviser lived in the wealthier part of town, near the Baron's estate. Jason got us into the building through a back door and we snuck around. I managed to get a few people to ignore certain sounds they heard with some memory auditing and then we were there. Up in his room. We locked his door and got him up. It was time to explain, time to find out what he had done with Max, Ian and Austin. He awoke terrified, as would anyone who woke up surrounded by three armed people. Mike “disabled” his mouth, we didn't need it. It would only get in the way. He had heard that a bunch of homeless foreigners had shown up and some of them had wondrous “magical” things with them. He had wanted to know more. He tortured them for information. For days. When he decided that he had enough, he sold them off to the slave markets without a second thought and made a tidy profit. I promised I wouldn't kill him. Jason sure wanted to, or at least start cutting off things. I tried something new. I made him think he was in agony. Forever. Always. Maybe someone can fix what I've done, but until then... Anyways, we found some of their belongings in a chest nearby. An ipod mini, a droid cellphone, headphones, a broken tablet that was so mangled we couldn't even tell the make and a first gen nook. Everything had a dead battery. Well, we can fix that.
Journal Entry 177
We're on our way to Wildlake. It should only be a day by horse. We have stopped briefly where Dan was killed and paid our respects. No grave, the body long gone, probably eaten by some animal. We didn't even know him that well. He deserved better. So what do we do at Wildlake? What don't we do. I wonder if Baldy Mctattooface is still around. Definitely have to pay a visit to the artificer. The slave pits of course, that's a given. I hope Alex is doing alright. The last time I saw him, we were just leaving Rosenbridge and heading here. Back when Dan and Amanda were still alive. Fuck.
Journal Entry 178
Wildlake. We're set up at the same inn we used last time we were here. There's no sun church for Avery to run off to. Jason's off visiting his old guild master. We poked around the slave markets soon as we got in town, but our compatriots are not around. We will look into this more later. So there was something I had to get out of the way. I left the others behind, left them with most of my gear and headed out into town on my own. Sure enough, there she was, waiting for me. Almost on instinct, we both unleashed everything at each other immediately. It was like two fires engulfing each other. My head burned with power and for a brief moment, we were of one mind before I repelled her will. I'm not as strong as her yet, but she can't completely dominate me anymore. With our greeting out of the way, she invited me in and we talked. The other one was there, I know now that he's a telekinetic. The muscle of this organization. Either way, this conversation was not for him to hear. She made it clear that I need to be more careful with my moral abuses. If I draw too much attention, it will get much more difficult to do what we do. She was pleased with my Wolflake experiments, that I'm learning that you don't have to brute force to get your way. She still wants me to shave my head. I'm not shaving my head.
Journal Entry 179
So Avery is pissed at me. She thinks I snuck off and had creepy psychic sex with a rapist. How do I explain this to someone who can never see the world as you do? It's like Mike trying to explain how and where he draws his magics from. It's not going to make sense, you don't have the context to understand it. Besides, we didn't have sex, not in the physical sense anyways. She's driving me up the fucking wall. Anyways, I went in search of my artificer friend. He's dead. He's been dead since before winter. Murdered. A week later, the first ballpoint pens hit the market and are a huge success with the literate crowd. I checked his workshop and all our designs and his prototypes are missing. I'm pissed. Really fucking pissed. And Avery is pissed! And we're pissing off Marcus now too! It's a fucking chain reaction! I'm sure Mike and Jason would be involved as well except those two ran off with a group of adventurers to hit the dungeon under the city.
Journal Entry 180
So after we all cooled down, Marcus, Avery and myself hit the slave market. Did some talking. Nudged a few people, paid off some others. It seems those three didn't spend much time here. They were healed up and bought right up by a wizard who was most interested in the extra-planar tag they put on the three. The wizard was said to have been heading for Czebron. It's such a pain in the ass converting these city names into English, especially the ones without an obvious meaning or weird pronunciation like Aeyllin or Kinild. Czebron. Well whatever. The map says that's another town on the main trade circuit, we can get there from here or Hebiry, but there's a few cities along the way. Alright, we have a destination. We'll head out in a few days or whenever we're ready. In the meantime, I'm going to look into this murder of my cashcow.
Journal Entry 181
So the first thing to do in my investigation was to see who was selling the pens in the first place. Well, there were three merchants in town. Upon questioning them and then questioning them harder, there's a small cottage industry on the edge of town that makes them: a group of dwarves. So I paid them a visit. Of course it's never that easy. The dwarves were only paid to make the pieces and assemble the finished product, they didn't even make the ink, that was outsourced to an alchemist in Rosenbridge who sends shipments every week. So who is paying the dwarves? Well, the dwarves were being paid by a merchant guild dispensator. It wasn't some rival artificer. It's the merchant guild, who have their hands in every merchant along the trade circuit. I questioned a few of the higher ups in the organization that I could get access to, and they only knew that it came from on high. I'm also seeing that this guild is more like the Mafia. Great. Just fucking great.
Journal Entry 182
I needed to clear my head so I went on a dungeoneering expedition into the crypts with Avery and a group of fresh adventurers. We have a swordsman, a guy with a big hammer and halfling who won't stop talking about how amazing his magic knife is. We answered a posted request by some local who says that there's voices in his head begging him to retrieve some magic sword down there. Working for crazy people, but crazy people with money. Well, my solar battery flashlight still works fine. Avery was stuck with a torch and nearly set her hair on fire several times. So it's swampy as fuck down there because of the season, and surprise, lizard people, tribals. Why are they down here? They've been displaced by a group of druids who decided that they weren't Nature! enough to live there. The crypts are swampy enough to remind them of home, if not darker, and it's warm down here for whatever reason. So do our non Terran team mates wait to find this out? Nope! They draw their weapons and charge in to slay the monsters. For fuck's sake. No one was hurt, the lizard shaman did some magic thing to demotivate them. We talked and to my surprise, there was a magic sword down here. Something they've been guarding, a great evil blade that's possessed. As Avery was a cleric, they let her see the blade and she confirmed that it was radiating evil. I didn't feel anything but whatever. The shaman asked her for her help in trying to purge the weapon, and she of course accepted. So that left the rest of us sitting on a rock and chatting it up with lizard people. The adventurers were depressed that they didn't get to kill anything. After what felt like hours, Avery comes back with the now less evil blade and we get the hell out of there. We deliver it to the crazy guy who was relieved and then we got paid. Now I need a bath, I smell like lizard person.
Journal Entry 183
I found out who is head of the merchant guild. A gnome family has been running it for generations. Getting to them isn't easy, they always move with bodyguards. I can't just kill them, they are Baldy's main source of income and if they go down, so does the regional economy. They usually hang out at one of the high class cafe's in town and drink imported coffee while discussing how to increase profits. They have the whole cafe shut down in the meantime. So I got as close to them as I could, slipping into the second floor of the cafe, the owner's apartment, and did my best. I gave them all guilt. It should take some time to bake, but it's pretty deep seated. I also gave one of their body guards some delicious greed. Small pushes. We'll see how this works itself out. In other news, AVERY STOP READING MY JOURNAL.
>It doesn't matter where you hide it, I'll still find it.
Journal Entry 184
So I had time to go through our recently acquired first gen nook. Mostly fiction including the entire Dune series, more Starwars than I even thought possible, The song of ice and fire series, Mistborn and of course, Shakespeare. He also had a huge encyclopedia on there. Well, at least we have something to keep ourselves occupied when we're bored. I don't imagine publishing any of these on this world would be worthwhile. The common people are mostly illiterate and I don't think anyone even knows what fiction is. What is fiction to a world with magic? A world without magic? Anyways, we leave tomorrow. Our route is to hit the trade roads to Eridale, then to Pinecliff, hop a boat to Valmere and then we should be able to get at Czebron. We have a long road ahead of us. Marcus and Jason are getting supplies. Avery is.. blessing the horses or something. I'm going to pay a last visit to my favorite skinhead and we'll leave in the morning.
Journal Entry 185
Alright, so we're riding along at a good clip and stumble onto a trade caravan in the process of being robbed by some bandits. It looks like the caravan guards were taken by surprise, two of five are dead, the dead don't look like they even managed to draw their weapons. We have about 15 or so bandits. Too many to easily deal with. Of course the bandits are seeing more money in their future and demand everything. Mike suddenly rides out front, turns jet black and starts throwing his fire around. He gets hit by two arrows which just bounce off. After recovering from our surprise, we join the fray. The guards get the idea, grab their weapons and join in too. It's a huge fucking clusterfuck. Mike's horse freaks and tosses him, fire going everywhere. I manage to keep mine steady and start firing with my Sig. Avery's horse flips it's shit and starts trampling and kicking anyone who gets near. Marcus manages to dismount and go in with his sword. When all was said and done, we've all been injured in some way, the caravan lost probably half its cargo and I'm down a magazine in my pistol. Avery's burned herself out healing everyone and the horses. I'm burned out keeping the horses calm and keeping the caravaners from deciding that we're responsible for their lost goods. The bandits had no money to loot, shitty weapons and pretty much nothing of value. Marcus claimed a bow and quiver and wants to learn to use it. None of us have any archery experience. Currently we're camped at a caravan rest stop and will head out in the morning. We'd have made it twice as far if it wasn't for those fucking bandits.
Journal Entry 186
Well, the ride took longer then expected, but Welcome to Eridale. One of the minor port cities and a hub on the trade circuit. The city is of stone buildings and tight claustrophobic alleyways. According to local sources, this town was built with small streets to make it easier to block them off should the population revolt. The area used to be under control of an asshole Duke. The population revolted anyways and the Duke couldn't escape because they blocked off the small streets. They're all long gone and the city is borderline anarchy. The only thing keeping the peace is merchant guild paid guards. I would say that the guild runs the town, but they don't actually have an office here. So it's a guard run town. There are some really strange and specific laws and harsh punishments. To make matters worse, there are four guard captains and they're all psions, all mind-linked at all times and operate as one being with four bodies, and continually check in on their subordinates. Jason says there isn't even a thieves guild present. We're being careful here and have set up in an inn. We'll leave in a day, Marcus wanted to check out the Bards college that's supposedly here. Why do they have a Bard's college, here of all places?
Journal Entry 187
Well, I'm never coming back here again. We were all fined and run out of town, one at a time. I was picked up by a guard while eating breakfast at the inn. What for? Being a psion without a shaved head. Motherfuckers! Avery got kicked an hour later for being a cleric without ecclesiastic travel papers. She doesn't even know what that is. Mike got picked up soon after for abuse of magic devices. He was playing his ipod too loud apparently. Marcus was booted for not having a bard's license. What? The only one that wasn't booted was Jason. The thief is the only one that didn't get kicked out of town. How?! He fetched our horses and we left this shithole. They tried fining one of the horses for having two different types of horse shoes but we were already outside of city limits. Anyways, we're camped out and on our way to Pinecliff. We should be there in three days.
Journal Entry 188
Okay, I have been reunited with my Journal. We get to Pinecliff at nightfall and settle at an inn for the night when some asshole wizard who somehow knows we're offworlders walks up. Some spell he has going. I figure he wants to talk and I can't easily penetrate his mind, he's got a strong will. I'm tired and don't think anything of it, it's happened before. Next thing I know, I'm on my ass with some paralyze spell and he's running off with my journal. The others are too surprised to do anything except Jason who gives chase. Jason eats a lightning spell for his effort. It's on now motherfucker. The spell wears off and Avery manages to heal Jason. We track him down to a tower on the edge of town after asking around. It's all locked up and has a mud golem parked out front for security. The lights are off. I know he's in there, I can feel it. There are some windows a few floors up, so we hatch a plan. Jason and Mike will go in while Avery, Marcus and myself try and distract the golem. So we go up to the golem and engage it in conversation. It can't answer back obviously but it's not attacking right off the bat, it's in the middle of a city, but we got its attention. Jason scales the wall and Mike does some thing where he just skitters up the wall like it's nothing. What the fuck. Suddenly there's some loud whistling sound and the tower's lights go on. The golem suddenly flips its shit and turns to the front door. I think they tripped a magic security system or something. So we attack the golem. Swords aren't doing much to it except cutting off little pieces. Guards come running over, and I convince them that the golem's gone on a murderous rampage. They never trusted the thing. We have some help with this now. We're all covered in mud but we're cutting this thing down until it finally goes inert. We're all covered head to toe in mud, the whole area is filthy. Mike and Jason go leaping out of the window with my book and the wizard comes running out the front door with a big glowing staff and cursing. The guards immediately leap at him, thinking he's also gone on a murder spree. Accusations get thrown around and we all get arrested except Jason and Mike. We spend the night in jail except Avery, who is sent to the local sun church for them to deal with. We end up sharing a cell with the wizard. He thought my journal was some planes walker spellbook and was trying to decipher the language. He burned the edges of several pages in his attempts. He said it was the chance of a lifetime. I'm at a fucking loss.
Journal Entry 189
So the guard had us, wizard included, cleaning the mud up from the golem fight. We had some time to get to know each other. He's eccentric but not a bad guy really. When he's not stealing mysterious journals from strangers. He's originally from Aeyllin and knew some of the people we worked with there. We asked if he knew anything about our missing compatriots. He did recall a strange band passing through a while back, so I think we're on the right track. Afterwards, he invited us to a nice breakfast and bid us farewell. He has golems everywhere in his tower. So we picked up Avery. The church was pissed at her for being involved in criminal activity, even if it wasn't really. They had her doing some.. thing that she won't talk about, but it bothered her a great deal. She was certainly directing hate around the room when we picked her up. She won't talk about it though. Met back up with Mike and Jason. I'm pretty sure they read through it, but I don't mind since they were there for nearly everything described in it. Not like you Avery!
>Fuck you, you ditched me in the fucking church with Alex to go on an adventure, what was I supposed to do?
Journal Entry 190
Alright, time for a proper introduction. Welcome to Pinecliff. It's a major port town posed on a cliff overseeing the ocean. The area is heavily forested and another hub on the trade circuit. Most of the buildings are wood and the primary export is wood and wood products, much like Brightly but on a larger scale and without infinite trees. Instead, they have a pack of druids that decide which trees are good to cut and where to plant the new ones. No clear cutting here. The city itself is around 150-200 feet above the water line, where the massive harbor is. There's a long line of stairs to get down there and a crane system for moving the cargo. Jason mentioned inventing a counterweight elevator, but we're not going to be here long enough. They have enough docks for 20 or so ships and most of them are full. They are also in the process of building an airship port. We're going to stick around for a few days until we find a ship heading for Valmere. Other than the wizard incident, our time here so far has been pretty good. Nice town to be in and Marcus is having the time of his life showing off at the taverns. Avery seems distant though.
Journal Entry 191
Well, a call went out for adventurers to help with dealing with a nearby dungeon of some sort. Unfortunately, we're the only ones in town at the moment so we kind of got gang-pressed into it. It pays well I suppose, and we are running low on our money. The merchant guild wants this place cleared out. It's full of goblins who have been attacking caravans, harassing the druids and stealing anything left alone outside of town. We're getting prepared for it, got some dungeoneering gear. Rope, torches, emergency rations and we'll tear it up tomorrow.
Journal Entry 192
The Pinecliff dungeon. Where to begin. We found the location and went in. It looked like just a natural cave at first. Sure enough, we found goblins. Feral. No negotiations. They attacked like wild animals defending their home, which they were. They had spears and primitive knives. We had swords and magic. Avery kept us healed as we pressed forward. Jason picked out a few primitive traps and I mind-tricked them into triggering them for us. There were about 30 or so of them and they attacked in small skirmish groups. They probably would have had a better chance if they all rushed us at once. We took a break in their main camp after we finished, catching our breath and checking injuries. Around then Marcus notices that the walls aren't so cave like anymore, it's stone work, and the further it goes, the more developed it becomes. We make a decision and continue down to see what's there. We put up some chalk marks on the wall so we don't get lost. Jason picks out a few more traps that were far more advanced than what the goblins were using, some of them magic. One insidious pit trap with some kind of monofilament line across it. Mike did his wall crawling thing to get across and found some trigger that closed the pit with a mechanical door. Very interesting. So deeper we go, avoid some more traps and we're currently taking a break and having some lunch. Air flow down here seems okay considering how deep we must be. Might be magic, might be hidden vents or just the design of the place.
Journal Entry 193
We're not the first ones here. We finally make it to what seems to be the end of the dungeon, a big room with treasure chests. They were all empty, most broken open. We were about to shrug and leave when Jason notices that the small floor tiles have something carved into them. Words. In English. Here. It wasn't a message though, the words were random. Jason, of course, found the trigger. Pressing down on the Earth and Home stones. A new door opened in the wall and beyond, a small alcove. We found a jar of honey with a small block of some kind of wax inside. In the middle of the wax was a microsd card. When we touched the jar, a bright light burst went off. We thought it was a trap initially but nothing seemed to have happened. We made a rush out of the cave expecting it to have closed off somehow, but we made it out okay. So what was the light burst? As soon as we got out, we made camp and checked the card. It still worked. It was full of photos. 10 people in Earth clothing in locations that looked vaguely familiar. One was definitely Aeyllin, and one looked like Wolflake but it was under construction. The first ones looked like Rosenbridge without the city on the bridge. There were two hundred photos, and as they went on, people went missing from them, expressions changed, they changed over their time. Like us. This had to have been in that cave for a long time. Why is there no record of their exploration and why did they appear so long ago? We took a look at the dates on the earliest photos. March 3, 2014.
Journal Entry 194
We got paid for our dungeon work and retired to the inn. We kept going over the photos. I sent copies to everyone's devices and we dug around for a message in the photos, anything. Why is there no historical evidence of them? We tore through Aeyllin's university library! How long ago was this? What happened to them? The last photos were of the dungeon. Was there a group before them? Is there going to be a group after us? Who is doing this to us? So many questions, my head hurts. Avery's tearing up the more she looks at them. Mike's been messing with her Laptop to see if there are any recoverable deleted files on the card. Marcus caught something though. Their group had 10 people. We have 11. Why? Is there a reason behind this, or just random? I wonder if they ever found a way home, or if they died in obscurity. Did they introduce technology the way we have been? What were their names? Damn it.
Journal Entry 195
We held off the boat trip and went back to the dungeon. We brought digging tools and went to make damn sure that we didn't miss anything. Unfortunately we didn't. We tore at the walls, the floors, the ceilings. We repaired damage in the last room that we did and resealed the alcove doors with a message written in chalk on the wall. It listed all of our names, even the dead, the date we left and the current date. We resealed the microSD card in the wax and honey and put it back. We added a new directory to it full of our pictures, A summery of our misadventures , the local date and an explanation of all we know, where we've been and what we've done. If there is another group one day, I hope they find this. We resealed it and Jason reset the traps as we left. We spent the rest of the day in Pinecliff in silence.
Journal Entry 196
Well, we're on a ship heading for Valmere, another port city on the way to Czebron. It's a cargo ship, frigate size. It's an odd design to it, almost like a Chinese Junk but with more traditional sails, but not quite. We have been following the coast, and the waters have been calm. We have about a three day sail before we get to our destination. The crew is a mixed batch of races. The captain is a swashbuckling, civilized Kobold. It's adorable. Apparently, most people won't take him seriously so he does all his dealings through his first mate, a numbers obsessed elf who's always calculating the profit margins. Marcus picked out something in the photos while going through them. There's a few photos of one or more of the other Terrans posing in front of some of the churches, pointing back at it with an excited or silly expression. He seems to think they're under construction. That's one way to date the pictures I suppose. The ones I recognize are the sun church in Wolflake, the warrior church in Wildlake and one is definitely the peace and love church in Aeyllin. Maybe the university archives were the wrong place to look for the information. Next time we're in those cities, aside from Wolflake, I'll have to take a look. Assuming they don't brand me for evil or something.
Journal Entry 197
I had a long talk with Avery. We were alone, the others asleep. She finally opened up with what's been bothering her. It's all a fraud. The churches. She says the gods are there all right, and she is a strong believer in whatever the sun god stands for, but the gods are like tools, they can be wielded and they don't necessarily care how they're wielded, just that they are. The church, while it started as an organization to help people of the same following and spread the love, it has become a bureaucratic nightmare that exists solely to support it's continuing existence. The church and it's god have become separate. It's become a guild. She believes that if she separated herself from the church, she'd be labeled a rogue traitor and hunted down and purged. Why did she join in the first place? They have very convincing recruiters, and not all of them are bad. So what have they done to her? Word spread that she was an offworlder. Some took that to mean that she was divine in some way and have been trying to take her for their own; some have tried by force but her power has let her resist and block such attempts. Why did she do what she did to me in Wolflake? She was appalled at what I had been doing, but also she needed someone there she could fall back on. She used approved church methods to keep me there since she couldn't have an evil psion running around. And I ditched her. Twice. That's why she never escaped during the war and returned. Wolflake was a particularly bad church and she believes that it had been infiltrated and destroyed from within by a group taking advantage of the situation.
Journal Entry 198
Welcome to Valmere, the dwarven port city. One of the many cities on the main trade circuit and the main dwarven port in their territory. Luckily, they thought ahead and made their doorways human height, but all the chairs are dwarf sized. So the city is all polished marble and open air, encrusted statues of historical figures. It has a 20 ship port set in a massive stone carved bay that they regularly dredge by magical means, 2 airship ports on either end of town and a massive indoor trade caravan loading/unloading and distribution station. Oddly enough, the city's major produced export is fish and shellfish. The city has a huge fishing fleet that goes out daily; not what you'd think of from dwarves. The real wealth comes in from the fact that almost all dwarven goods pass through this city on it's way out, and dwarven goods are highly sought after for quality and design. The city's most well known feature however, is the mechanical defensive wall. The city has a 20ft steel reinforced wall that sits underground and can rise up mechanically on demand should the city be threatened. When not under threat, they keep it down to allow the winds to blow through.
Journal Entry 199
Czebron is about 6 days by horse or 2 days by airship. So we're going to try our hand at an airship ride. We've had a 50% success rate with those, so why not. The only problem is that it's going to cost nearly all our money. That's assuming we sell the horses at market value. Avery's pretty against Jason and me doing some b&e jobs, or me running around grifting people, or the classic taser in the alley trick. Either way, it's not something we have to worry about until we get there. In other news, this place has several bathhouses and we're all dirty and stink, so we paid a visit, got clean, got our clothes washed and now we're feeling fresh. I noticed that I have a collection of scars now from all my fights and apparently clerical healing won't get rid of scars, that's some other kind of regenerative healing. Anyways, Jason ran off to pay a visit to his guild, the rest of us slummed around town seeing the sights. This seems to be a nice town if you can get past all the dwarves running around. Nothing wrong with them, and they're quite friendly, it's just odd towering over nearly everyone in town.
Journal Entry 200
200 pages. How long have I been here again? God damn it. Now I miss home again. So we got our airship tickets. We leave tomorrow. Mike suggested that, since finding the photos, we should start checking around cities for any other signs of previous Terrans. So we paid a visit to the cities archives. They are, unfortunately, written in dwarven. A language I am not going to learn because fuck it, Common was hard enough with its two written dialects. We did get assistance from an adorable female dwarf librarian who was familiar with all the records. Of course the records don't keep track of everyone passing through, just important events or noticeable occurrences. No sign of strange foreigners who would fit the description, and we checked back for a thousand years. The only thing that caught our eyes was an occurrence around 400 years ago, the sudden use of the “modern” ship design. Sloops, Ketches, Schooners, Junks and the use of triangle sails. Before that, everyone was apparently using something similar to Longships and Triremes. It's possible that this is a case of Terran intervention or it could just be a natural period of sudden innovation.
Journal Entry 201
We are on the airship. It's more of an air barge. It's moving along at a slow but steady clip. We should be at our destination in a day and a half. The airship wouldn't be worth mention except for it's very interesting autopilot system. It's got a load of enchantments set to home in on certain items. There is one at Czebron and one at Valmere. The helmsman doesn't even bother sitting at the wheel unless we're near town. If we get blown off course, the ship reorients and continues on it's way. It can't land on it's own so it's not fully automated but it's damn impressive. It's crewed mostly by dwarves and some humans. The Captain is a female dwarf with a taste for gambling and alcohol. I'm okay with that as long as we don't crash into something. Anyways, we watched Strange Days again and discussed what we're going to do after this. We are going after our Terran friends, but truth be told, we don't know these three very well. We only knew them for a little over a week before they were captured. It was a life changing period, but still not very long. It doesn't matter though, we're still going to do everything in our power to rescue them. They're Terrans, they're our brothers. They deserve better than to be some wizard's slave. I just hope they're still at Czebron and still alive.
Journal Entry 202
We made it to Czebron. I first took it to be really weird mountain. Well, it was a massive volcano at some point. They carved the entire thing into a giant spire and hollowed it out. It has only one main entrance gate that's large enough to fit a village and has a series of massive mechanical doors. I believe I could call this an arcology or a hive city. All internal lighting is almost all done through light shafts and mirrors and timed with the sun's movements and seasons through the use of mechanical devices. At night, or places that the sunlight can't get to, they use thick glass pipes pumping some kind of glowing liquid that is also part of the forge cooling system. It gives the whole place an otherworldly feel to it. It uses geothermal heating to keep it warm in the winter and a massive ventilation system to keep it cool in the summer. It houses several million dwarves. I didn't even know construction on a scale this large was possible. This is truly a world wonder. The interior, the parts I've seen anyways, are all inlaid marble and red granite, etchings decorating nearly every surface. It has a massive underground where most of the dwarven smithing is done using lava powered and specialized magic powered forges. Most of the minerals they need are mined from the area which is supposedly one of the most mineral rich locations in the continent. So what do they do when the volcano decides it's time to erupt? Apparently they claim to have control of the situation through generations of specialized geomantic wizards and sorcerers. We are currently at one of the inns on the thirtieth floor. We have a balcony with a fantastic view. We are also now out of money.
Journal Entry 203
Well, Marcus has been doing the bard thing for money while the rest of us made our plan. We poked around looking for word of a human wizard with at least three human slaves or minions. This place is so big it may take awhile. Nothing yet, but there are quite a few wizards. We ruled out the geomancers first since they were the most obvious group, but they're all dwarves and don't have slaves. The locals frown on the whole concept but it's considered legal as long as no public or obvious torture is going on. The next obvious target was a small wizard school in the upper levels. They didn't know anything about it. Jason decided to check in with the thieves guild after he managed to find it. Avery was going to risk asking at the sungod temple, but there wasn't one. There is only one religion in the dwarf kingdom, the dwarf god. The god of hard work, alcohol and sex. It took me a few minutes to figure out why he covered an odd assortment but they all lead to each other. Hard work is rewarded with alcohol which leads to sloppy drunken sex. Speaking of which, we took bets on whether or not Marcus would bed a dwarf girl. By the time we got back to the inn come nightfall, it had already happened. God damn it Marcus. Next bet is on what Marcus won't sleep with.
Journal Entry 204
This city is pretty damn intimidating. Aside from it being so big for a world such as this, all the people. It's an empathic overload if I let my defenses down. It's almost as if I could lose myself. Anyways, we continued our search, went through the inns and taverns looking for any information and found none. Right when we were about to give up for the day, Jason spotted something. Graffiti scratched into the wall, recent and in English. Help. We know we're in the right place now. We scoured the level. The only thing we came up with was an Archmage no one knows anything about. We found his residence but I'm completely blocked from feeling anything inside. We went back to gather our gear, grab Marcus and prepare. This could go badly.
Journal Entry 205
Well, I knocked on the door and this plain looking guy in his 40's answers. He seemed annoyed for the first split second and then there was something in his eyes. I unleashed hell. He had enough mental fortitude to hold me back but could barely move. He starts doing the motions almost in slow motion when Jason slipped past and socked him in the face. That gave me enough distraction to lock him up. We pushed him inside and closed the door. Mike and Jason started checking rooms while the rest of us sat him down in a chair. Avery bound his hands while I started peeling through his mind. Sure enough, he's the one. So what has he been doing with our friends? He's been using them for extra-planar experimentation. I can't make heads or tails of what he's trying to accomplish, but I don't know wizardry. I do know that he hasn't had any success so far. To make matters worse, he's got a buddy that shows up occasionally for “organic samples” that he can use for some kind of monster research. Why does he need their samples specifically, we're the same as the local humans right? So Jason comes running back saying he found them, they're in some kind of magic stasis. That's when everything that could go wrong, did.
There's a sudden blur in the room. The Rheingraf Spymaster suddenly appears out of fucking nowhere and makes a lunge for me. Now? Really? I was completely caught off guard and take a sword to the gut. Before he can land the killing blow, Avery blasts the shit out of him with her holy light and Jason buries his blades in his lungs. Then poof, he's gone. Avery manages to get me stabilized and my wounds closed. By this time the now very confused Archmage is freeing himself and is throwing up his magic defenses. I'm struggling to get on my feet, the ghost pains of being stabbed are still nearly debilitating me. Mike comes running out of a side room and just throws down with the Archmage. Fire, explosions, lightning all over the fucking place, destroying everything. Jason drags me into a side room long enough to get back on my feet. Avery sticks with Mike and does her best adding in her own defenses, Marcus is throwing around his Bard magic. I hand Jason my gun and send him off while I'm getting to my feet. I finally get back out there. I can't dominate him anymore, not with his defenses up, but I can throw distractions at him. We all manage to bring the fucker down and collapse in a pile. Then we realized half the room is on fire, so we ran around putting that out.
The Archmage is still alive but he's out of the fight. I take the opportunity to dive in and start erasing his spells from his mind, something I should have done the first fucking time. Everyone's exhausted from the exertion. Jason hands me back my gun and we tie up the Archmage again, this time we cocoon him in the fucking rope, then we went off to see about the others. So a few rooms over and we have the lab. Sure enough, there they are. Ian, Max and Austin. Just floating there half naked in a blue light coming from some magic circle on the floor made of salt and blood. We pull them out of it and they start breathing again but they're unconscious. We set them down and I take a careful look at their mental states. Their recent memory's pretty fragmented from coming in and out of stasis for whatever reasons. Beyond that, the last full memories were their trip here and being questioned endlessly by the Archmage before being magically dominated and used in a few minor rituals and then shoved in stasis. Their emotional states are overwhelming. They're shit terrified and have no idea what's going on. I tried doing some memory editing to help in their recovery once they wake. We moved them into the Archmage's bedroom and letting them rest for now.
Journal Entry 206
They finally woke up. It took a good hour. They didn't recognize us right away. It took a lot to calm them down. We did our best to explain what's been going on, cooked up something for them to eat from the Archmage's kitchen and got them some clothes to wear. Jason and Marcus ransacked the place for valuables including his spellbooks. I got a lot of blame for leaving them, but deep down they know we couldn't have done anything. I wasn't going to fight about it. It was time to get out of this place. We all decided to go to the only city we had felt safe at, Aeyllin. Then there is the problem of the Archmage. What to do with him? Mike called dibs and dragged him back into the lab and began setting up for some kind of infernal ritual. When did he learn to do that? He asked not to be disturbed and closed the door. Avery didn't even object. There were some disturbing sounds.. and when it was over, no sign of the Archmage was left other then his shadow burned into the wall. We're currently waiting at the inn. Jason and Marcus are selling everything they looted and we'll see about getting the hell out of here.
Journal Entry 207
We've got a pretty decent amount of money on hand now. I purchased tickets for 10 by airship. We leave tomorrow. We're heading along in the other direction and should arrive in Manden in two days, from there we go to Nespidax, Ainfield and from there we should be back in Hebiry. I'm not sure where the Hebiry airship goes since it's route with Wolflake was broken, but hopefully Ashvale or directly to Aeyllin. I hope the other three are ready for this. They haven’t had the travel experience that we have had. They can't even read common yet. Mike offered to tutor them. We did return what electronics we salvaged out of the Rosenbridge adviser’s place. Ian teared up when the first song on his mp3 player came on. They have a hard road ahead of them, I hope they're up for the task. Either way, we'll be there for them.
Journal Entry 208
Airship travel. I'm starting to get used to it. Back home, I hadn't even been on a plane since the 80's. Here I am, using airships to get everywhere. Austin gave everyone an hour long rant about how impossible a flying boat is from an aerodynamic perspective. Yeah, we know. Now that they're not scared out of their minds, we went over our adventures again with them. I let them read the journal. They were pretty shocked at what we've done, especially Max. I think they understand though. The biggest question on their minds, however, was how are we doing magic, we're from a non magic world. Even I'm not sure how to explain it. Each of us does it differently. I figure it's because it's the world or dimension or whatever and not genetics since we're just regular humans. That isn't a suitable explanation though, psionics isn't something anyone can learn and neither is sorcery. Anyways, we watched Strange Days. It's still new to those three.
Journal Entry 209
Welcome to Manden. Not so much a city as a village, and just a pass through on the trade circuit. Legends say this is the first organized settlement of mankind, hence Man Den. Currently it's an elven city. Why? Some old territory war a hundred years ago. The city is half wood A-frame houses and the other half is stone building more common with dwarven construction. It borders on forest from one side and a few miles from the other, seems to start turning into a desert. Beyond the sandy wastes is apparently another civilization that rarely makes contact, but is where the recurve bow comes from. Interesting. Anyways, we're on layover until sunrise, and then head out to Nespidax. Took a walk around town with Ian. He's particularly depressed, especially upon hearing how we've had no success in trying to figure out how to get back home and have more or less given up. Well, I found out the reason. He's recently married and his wife was pregnant when he left. The child would have been born by now. That's fucking depressing. So why did he come? Same reason I did. We weren't entirely in control, some kind of hypnotic pull. He may have ended up bringing his wife with him if she was home at the time. I wonder who else left someone behind when we came here, no one's been particularly talkative about our life back home because we're reminded and it starts to hurt. Better to focus on the here and now.
Journal Entry 210
Well this sucks. We were on the way to Nespidax when the airship suffered some kind of engine or magic failure. We made a soft crash in the woods and the ship artificer's been working his ass off while the rest of us are watching out for hungry monsters, curious animals or bandits. The hull took some minor damage which the crew have been fixing, but we did get drafted into knocking down some trees to clear the landing space up. We're not getting a ticket discount for this either, I asked. All part of the adventure the Captain says. As long as it doesn't lead to another fucking barbarian hunt. The artificer says we'll be back in the air in two hours. He said that four hours ago. We're going to be stuck here for the night. Sucks.
Journal Entry 211
Something woke me up in the middle of the night. Strong aggression out in the wilds. Before I could alert the on duty guards, we came under attack. Gnolls, a scout party of 5. They were feral. The alert was sent and everyone comes stumbling out from below decks and the fight for the airship began. We outnumbered them but they were prepared. We managed to put them down with some minor injuries and the artificer got his ass back to work. Max got an arrow through his hand, and Avery is working on that. She's having some trouble healing these wounds. The gnolls apparently smeared their weapons with something. The Captain says it's feces. Fucking fantastic. We broke out the anti-disease necklace and are hoping that will help. Austin seems to have some actual medical training and has been cleaning out wounds with some of the crew's alcohol. It burns like a motherfucker.
Journal Entry 212
We managed to get back in the air and we're in Nespidax. Avery's been periodically checking on our wounds to make sure nothing goes bad. Max got use of his hand back, but it's a little puffy, even with the wound closed. So Nespidax. One of the larger trade hubs on the circuit. This city is pretty racially mixed for an actual Kingdom. The buildings are mostly wood and plaster with thatched roofing. It's main export is mineral wealth, from a series of mines, which flows south-eastward rather then Czebron's mineral exports which flow South-west along the trade circuit. We're set up in the inn for the night. Unfortunately there is no airship going to our next stop, Ainfield. We'll have to make due traveling with a trade caravan on foot. I hope Max, Ian and Austin are up for the task.
Journal Entry 213
We kind of lucked out. We hooked up with a trade caravan hauling iron and copper and we're getting paid to guard it. Three of us lack weapons so they're to stay with the caravan if we get attacked. Our trip should take 4 days through the plains. No known barbarian tribes out here so that's a relief. Max keeps asking me for my gun, since I already have a sword. I'm not giving him my gun. He should have brought his own gun. So we're all chatting away while on our long walk when it suddenly gets out that Marcus has been sleeping with non humans. Ian flips his shit about it, calling it bestiality and all that. Won't go near him. Marcus gave the “any port in a storm” response and they've been arguing about it ever since. Like there's not enough to deal with.
Journal Entry 214
We came upon a broken down caravan today. We had a short standoff until we could prove that we weren't hostile, and they the same. Their caravan guards were tribal lizard people. Pretty unusual. Their axle brace or something snapped and were stranded. Our caravan leader decided we should help. None of us Terrans had a clue how to fix it, so we stood around and chatted with the other caravan guards, the lizards. They're a distrustful bunch and after some poking around, I could see why. They aren't treated very well by the other civilized races, but most of the tribal groups aren't. This group has been doing the Nespidax to Ainfield run to bring in money for their tribe and keep because they're searching for someone, one of their own that ran off. They wouldn't say why they're after this one, but I sensed that he was an important figure in the tribe, so it's not like an escaped criminal or exile. I noticed that while Max and Austin were initially..distressed? At dealing with big armed lizard people, they eventually warmed up to them. Ian stayed pretty cold to towards them the whole time. Anyways, it took a good 5 hours to get the other cart fixed. They had to make a new one out of wood which meant cutting down a tree and cutting it down and all that. Pain in the ass.
Journal Entry 215
Welcome to Ainfield, one of the main distribution hubs on the circuit. No airship port unfortunately. What they do have is two rivers that split off in head in different directions and are being used as trade routes. The city is all wood building with a wood stake wall around it. Their main export used to be wood, but the area's been clear-cut. Now it's just a distribution hub that would probably cease to exist the second trade stopped. From here, we'll jump a river boat to Hebiry and see where their airship can get us. Avery and I had a long talk with Ian about his racial issues. Yeah, he's a little racist and he's having trouble adapting because of it. I can't exactly dive in and fix that so it's something he's going to have to get used to in his own time I guess. Anyways, the booze is cheap here so we're all getting hammered at the tavern and we leave in the morning.
Journal Entry 216
We had a minor emergency this morning. We couldn't find Austin for a few hours. He turned up in an alley with his clothes strewn all over. Luckily he didn't take any of his stuff with him when he wandered off for..this. Avery cleared up some of his hangover and we went off to get ready. Apparently he decided to try and “drink himself home” and may have been had sloppy drunken sex with a local, or tried to, or something. We're pretty sure he wasn't prostituting himself anyways. At least we hope. That's Marcus's job. So we're on a boat trip. It's pretty relaxing so far. It's a river junk loaded with cargo from other cities heading for Hebiry. It should take a day and a half depending on the weather. I've taken up fishing off the side with a rod that the crew lent me. I'm totally cheating and tricking the fish into biting. It's just not as satisfying though it is funny.
Journal Entry 217
Ah Hebiry. It's been a month or two since we've been here. The place has kind of an old Italian/Mediterranean feel to it. When we arrived, a fair was in full swing, so we joined in the festivities. Some town founding celebration. A cookoff, some booze testing, dancing, games. Marcus got on stage and played some U2 for a bit. The locals didn't seem to mind so whatever. We had fun. It seemed that our three newbies finally managed to unwind and have a good time. Picked up some gossip in town. There's been retreating tribals coming up the trade road from Wolflake on a regular basis. First shifters, then wild-elves, always in small groups. In response, Hebiry's set up a border patrol and are building a manned guard fort, anticipating inbound undead eventually. They've been petitioning all churches trying to get more help in, but it takes awhile for messages to get around. In other news, Winterfield has been sacked by the barbarians and they have been cut off completely. Their new airship trader has been skipping over them and going directly to Brightly until things get under control. None of the other nations want to get involved since it was a problem that could have been dealt with but was ignored by the king until he was disposed of.
Journal Entry 218
Where to begin. While Marcus and Austin were out seeing about airship travel, I was sitting in town square watching them clean up after the festival and checking over some things in my Journal when some Elf girl, young looking, early teens maybe? It's hard to tell with them. Anyways, she walks up and stops, then starts looking over my shoulder. She can fucking read English! Kind of. I grabbed her and made her start talking. Almost got the attention of the guards and I scared the shit out of her. So several generations back, some human got mixed in her family tree and they've been learning this “mysterious” language as tradition ever since and have even deployed it as a secret code in the family business, one of the wineries. All their recipes and anything else they don't want anyone else to read is done up in rudimentary English. She's off trying to set up a meeting with one of the elder family members who may have been alive back then. I've gathered up everyone and we're going to check in once we get word back. Oh yeah, airship news. The Hebiry airship isn't going anywhere right now since Wolflake is kind of out of the trade loop now. I'll see if I can convince them to hit Aeyllin or Ashvale later. After we're done with this more important stuff.
Journal Entry 219
We got our appointment and went to meet with this family. Well, one of them anyways. The sister of the woman who married the human. The actual wife had died a century ago due to some kind of magic plague running through the area at the time. So around four hundred years ago, her sister falls for a human and they get married. Erik Lewis, a Druid. He claimed he was from a far off land with strange ways and stranger magic. She didn't know much more about his past, she hadn't cared at the time and was against the union. He did introduce some new kind of fermentation method which they still employ. He settled down on the winery and worked, had kids and eventually died of old age. Well, at least someone had their happily ever after. She didn't have much more to offer aside from that.
Journal Entry 220
Alright, didn't get as much information as I would have liked out of that meeting but it was something. It also means that there may not be a way back home if everyone settled and lived their lives here. So Marcus and I paid a visit to the airship captain. We started some negotiations and managed to convince her about the possible profits of starting a trade run between Aeyllin or Ashvale and Hebiry since they've both been cut off since Wolflake's sudden undead isolation. She needs to talk it up with her crew and then we'll see if we can hitch a ride. If not, we'll have to take the long way around through the Wildlake to Brightly route. Or we could go on foot across undead infested Wolflake to Kinild. No, that's not going to happen. In other news, I think Ian is starting to adapt, I saw him holding a conversation with a half-orc girl. No agitation coming from either of them, so that's something.
Journal Entry 221
It was an expensive ticket, but we're on the way to Ashvale. From there, we can get to Aeyllin. Hopefully Alex is still there and hasn't run off. So we put all of this planning into getting there, what are we going to do once we do? I doubt the University is going to let us live on campus, not for the long term anyways. We've got some a few days to think it through though. Austin and Ian still wake up in cold sweat, terrified from their experience. Max seems to be doing better from it. PTSD is a pretty bad thing. Even I still wake up occasionally thinking I'm back in the barbarian hunt. I'll get back at those fuckers one day. So Avery has got it in her head that she's going to march into the Aeyllin sun church and start making changes now that we're aware of what's going on and she knows we have her back. It will get messy. Fuck, so many ways that can go wrong. I don't know if I should try and convince her out of that plan though. Anyways, I wonder how the Kobolds of New-Chicago are doing?
Journal Entry 222
We made it to Ashvale without incident for a change. God the place smells from all the leather tanneries and lant processing and whatnot. We are in the process of switching over to another airship that will take us to Aeyllin. We've been on this boat before, crazy shifter captain that wants to be an adventurer but isn't allowed and an insane navigator. We'll leave soon. I'd pop over to the tavern for lunch, but I don't think I could keep my food down in this air. It should be a two day trip. Austin's been asking the airship artificer everything he can about how airships work and then spent some time sketching something on paper I gave him. Maybe he found his calling. An airship that doesn't break down constantly or drop out of the sky like a brick when it does. Marcus in the meantime, has come to a startling realization. He's got an old girlfriend back in Aeyllin and maybe more. Yeah, no sympathy. You reap what you sow, and he's been sowing the fields across the continent.
Journal Entry 223
God fucking dammit. So we're all out on deck while Marcus is desperately trying to play Muse songs on his guitar when we see a light ahead of us. The navigator adjusts course and the light shifts over too. A few seconds later, we nearly have a midair collision with another airship! Seriously?! There's like one airship per town or less, so they're pretty rare. Only a handful of non merchant companies have one in the world. And we almost have a midair collision with one flying at night. Are we cursed or something? Does this happen often? How is this even possible? Where's the fucking fantasy FAA. Christ.
Journal Entry 224
We made landing in Aeyllin this morning. Guess who was waiting at the landing pad? A very pregnant elf. How did she know we'd be here today? She didn't, she's been coming here every single day the airship was scheduled to return since we left. Marcus was paler then Mike in winter when he went over to greet her. Oh, he didn't have a choice in the matter either. Avery was giving him her smite look when it looked like he was going to run. He's got a lot of explaining to do. We had to explain what was happening to the others, but they caught on pretty fast. So we did manage to get in the University's dorm. They're on break with most of the students out and doing personal research right now and a big group of offworlders with foreign ideas was just the thing to spread some excitement around. Our three newbies were apprehensive at first, having had their share of experimentation, but we reassured them. Alex was not around, he's out of the city with a group of adventurers who were going to check out rumors of some old dungeon in the east woods. They left a few days ago and should be back tomorrow or the day after. He's apparently become a very skilled sorcerer apprentice. It's occurred to me that it's been a long time since we saw him, will he recognize us right away? We've all changed quite a bit and I bet he has as well.
Journal Entry 225
So I ran into the master artificer. He's mastered his bicycle design and they're all over the city for those who can afford them. He fixed the traction issue but it's still awkward with the forward peddles and a harsh friction break. Then there's the issue of people having to learn to ride one. Lots of crashes. Bicycle safety gear was invented shortly after by an enterprising merchant. It's more or less leather padding. Anyways, we had a talk about some things. I have been promised payment for my part in this. Once that happens, I'll introduce him to Austin and see what those two can do together. Avery headed off to the sun church, but came back flustered. She went in with all of her righteousness and apparently got laughed out of the building. Better then getting stabbed I guess. Marcus returned. Apparently his girlfriend is crazier or craftier than he thought. They went back to her place and had a nice long comforting talk and then she gave him a ring as proof of her love and devotion. It was a magic ring and he can't take it off. She knows where he is at all times now. The best part is that she bribed the University mages to not interfere and remove it. I wonder what weddings here are like?
Journal Entry 226
I went back to the archives with Avery and Mike. We can read better than last time I was here so I don't need an assistant, but I got one anyways to speed things along. I believe that we may have been going about the search all wrong last time and we have a time frame now. So what happened 400 years ago? Well the University is only 200 years old but their archives date back further when there was a Wizarding guild. 400 years ago, this was an elven city still. It was a time of change. Religion was starting to get organized with the building of the churches where before it was groups of vaguely allied cults, the age of sail was taking off and wizarding went from superstition and pointless ceremony to being more mathematical and scientific in its application. Were all of these brought about by Terran intervention or only some of them? We didn't find anything specific though, with names or who had their hands in what. We were informed that the old city records are currently in the care of the peace and love church. We'll have to pay them a visit.
Journal Entry 227
Well, I got paid from the master artificer. Not as much as I was hoping, but good enough I suppose. I introduced Austin and they had a discussion about some things. He was impressed with Austin's aptitude and signed him up for the next Artificing class when the break is over. And then the Rheingraf spymaster suddenly appeared and shoved a knife through my throat. I'm done, that's it. I don't know what happened after that other then I was on the ground and dying. Then I wake up with Avery pouring everything she had in healing me. The spymaster somehow missed everything important or didn't cut the arteries right or something. So I'm stuck in bed, healed but recovering. I lost a lot of blood. This shit's got to end. So what happened with the spymaster? The artificer disarmed him and Austin started strangling him for everything he's worth and then he vanished. Fuck.
Journal Entry 228
I got my rest and went out with Avery and Marcus... and Marcus' girlfriend. We paid a visit to the peace and love church. Well, it's a peace and love... for money church. We manage to get into their city archives and start peeling through them circa 400 years ago. We run into a problem; since the city was elven at the time, so were all the documents. Well Marcus's girl can read elven so suddenly she's important to the cause. Well, 400 years ago, a huge group of a hundred or so people showed up, led by a group of eight, purchased land in the city and started paid construction on the church buildings. There were complaints from the elven builders because the design was extremely unusual to what they were used to building, having buttresses, vaulted ceilings and domes, so it was being overseen by one of the travelers who got things under control and brought in several innovations such as a new kind of crane system that could handle heavier loads, scaffolding and a new kind of mortar. For the longest time, the churches were the tallest buildings in the city. The techniques were adopted and used in further city development to make Aeyllin what it is today. Most of the churches use the same style so this spread around all the major cities at the time. There's more to it than that. As we were taking a break, Marcus's girlfriend pointed out something similar to what we were looking for. A thousand years ago, the elves suddenly moved from the woods and founded Aeyllin, started using the quarrying techniques that they're still using and began making paper. They didn't have regular contact with the rest of the world at the time. If I remember right, that's around the time Wolflake was being founded and when most people believe that the massive bridge that Rosenbridge is sitting on was made. If this means what I think it does.. I have a headache now.
Journal Entry 229
Alex returned today! He was dirty, bruised and in good spirits. He was with the adventurers he left with and they were successful with their expedition apparently. We all gather up to meet him. It takes him a few minutes and then he notices Mike holding a Nook and suddenly it all clicks in. He runs over and suddenly a group hug initiated. We spent the rest of the day in the tavern getting all caught up. The good, the bad, the losses. Alex had his own adventure. He left for Aeyllin a little before Avery left for Wolflake, fought bandits with magic he couldn't quite control and managed to make enough money for his airship trip and trailed along with a group of adventurers who were leaving Winterfield during its civil war and made it to Aeyllin, and he's been here since learning to control his wild talent. He had heard of some of our exploits from the university staff and managed to get his own recharge stone out of the master artificer. So, for the first time in over a year, we're all together again, and we're stronger than before. We aren't the lost and scared children anymore. We're Terrans. When the world pushes, we can push back. Avery, put the damned journal down! I haven’t been doing evil things lately.
>You're so god damned melodramatic sometimes.
Journal Entry 230
So I was tested at the University today. They were trying to figure out how to get rid of that tracking spell the Rheingraf spymaster apparently put on me. After 4 hours of having everything imaginable thrown at me, they concluded that there was no tracking spell. Well how the hell does he keep finding me?! Sure, there are several ways he can vanish like that, Teleport or invisibility or the various other variations of the theme. They need more information. Well great. He's already manifested in the middle of the Artificer's office once. God dammit. Anyways, Max has signed up for a wizarding course. He seems to think he has what it takes. Ian on the other hand is checking into fencing. Good for them. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the University break is over tomorrow and everyone who is not a student or staff need to move out to make space. To make matters worse, all the inns are loaded up with people applying. Fuck it, we're moving in with Marcus's girlfriend until we can get a place of our own. It'll only be temporary.
Journal Entry 231
Marcus's girlfriend, Raina, has a weird house. It's got two small bedrooms, a kitchen/pantry and then one fuckall huge room with no furniture. Well, at least we had plenty of room. Avery got the second bedroom. Marcus stayed with his beloved. Since we're staying with her, we're chipping in and paying for food and cooking. Jason and Avery went out house hunting while I did the shopping and helped with the cooking. I don't trust Mike with the cooking. He might accidentally add infernal energies instead of the salt while preparing the meat or something. Marcus got to clean. Raina seemed bothered at first by the sudden appearance of 7 of her boyfriend's buddies asking to stay over but she's gotten over it and has been quite cheerful. So how long do Elven pregnancies last? 9 months. If it's a half-breed like this one is, who knows. So how exactly do they deliver babies here? Apparently with midwives. We wrote down a quick emergency map of the nearest 5 in town should “the event” kick off while we're here.
Journal Entry 232
Okay, so we don't have enough money yet to get a more permanent residence. Rather than get jobs like regular people, we're going to ransack a dungeon at request of the kingdom. The advisers were sending out calls for help. Since most of the adventurers in town were at the University, we picked it up. It pays well. There has been reports of strange lights and noises and they seem to think it's a cult or a feral race preparing to do something. Avery, Alex and Jason are going with me. Marcus has to stay home with his girl and Mike is assisting at the university with something. We have our mp3 players charged, some dungeoneering gear and emergency rations. Here we go.
Journal Entry 233
It took half a day to get there. We rented Bikes, it was cheaper than horses and faster then walking. I'm sure we looked ridiculous. So we managed to find this dungeon. Sure enough, I'm picking up minds inside. So we go in cautiously. Jason takes the lead, doing his thing. Bugbears. Holy shit. I've only seen one or two and at a distance. They're feral. There's about 20 or so inside scattered all throughout the place. Jason takes out the front two sentries before they even know what's going on. After that, all hell breaks loose. One that Jason didn't see yells out an alarm. Alex starts throwing around magic like a madman, lightning, fire, color sprays. The bugbears come running with bows and axes, blades and the like. Avery decides that they're evil enough and lights up like a holy beacon and goes in swinging. I'm nearly blinded by what's going on but I do my best at fucking up their archers minds and making them shoot each other. Jason's apparently got no trouble seeing with that ruby eye of his and he gets in there. They pull a retreat and we advance slowly, me pointing out their ambushes, Jason clearing their traps. The whole place smells like wet dog and sulfur. After we're done, we start picking through the place. Some coinage, a few pieces of gear that's worth keeping. In the back we find what looks like a big glowing vase sitting on an altar next to some tombs. Avery states that it's evil. Well none of us are going to touch it. We start looking for something we can use as tongs when there's a sudden bang and one of the tombs slides open and a fucking Lich walks out. He looks at us, he looks at the massacred bugbears, looks at the vase thing, then looks back to us. We're having a stare down, not a word is said. He then quietly grabs his Vase, steps back and teleports out. Thank god. I didn't want to deal with a fucking Lich and I guess he didn't want to deal with us. Anyways, we made it back to town around nightfall, collected our reward and went back to Raina's place and got some rest.
Journal Entry 234
I got called to the University for awhile to assist the Psion instructor with a demonstration. The usual mindrape. Just writing that made me realize how used to this shit I've gotten. So what happens in the off chance I get home and I keep it? If I lose it? I don't think I could go home at this point. Maybe I should do what Marcus is doing and find a nice girl to settle down with. I guess that's what the previous group did. I don't even remember the faces of my old friends and family without having to look back at the old digital photos I have. That's messed up. Anyways, I went house shopping. Nothing yet. I'm sure if Avery wasn't looking over my shoulder, I could force inherit one. You know, on second thought, I don't want to to settle down and live like these people. These peasants. We're better than that, we all are. I don't want to be a king or anything like that but there must be something better than this. Besides, I'm not ready to settle down. There are still debts that need to be settled. For Amanda.
Journal Entry 235
So I was at the University again checking in on our three students. Austin's doing fine in his Artificing courses, Ian's managed to keep up with his better trained peers in fencing through sheer determination and Max.. Max is doing better than fine. The instructor is apparently worried that his understanding of how wizarding works is spiraling out of control. Why? Max says it's mathematics. I guess it makes sense? The locals have a limited mathematics background while he doesn't. Because of this, he may very well bypass the instructor before the course is over. What's the problem with this? The instructor doesn't believe he'll have the wisdom or experience to throw around what he's capable of throwing around and may cause catastrophe. He's pretty confident that he's under control, but if the guy that's been doing this all his life is worried, I'd stop and listen. Anyways, aside from doing the normal stuff around the house and town, I've started looking into a trip back to Brightly and then seeing what's going on in Winterfield. I feel it's time to go back. I haven't told the others yet, not until I'm sure. It may very well be my end, or all of ours, but I feel it's something that must be done. I'll start poking around the others, seeing their disposition towards this plan. As Avery is reading my journal right now, yes Avery I know you are, I'm sure she'll come and tell me what she thinks.
>No, I'll let you come to me this time.
Journal Entry 236
A consensus has been reached. Aside from our three students, the rest of us will go, Marcus included, but only after the baby's been born. That could be tomorrow or in a few months. Well, I guess I have time to better plan out this little adventure. In the meantime, Mike is going to write a book for the University archive titled “Earth”, written in English and will contain just about everything, which isn't much, that we know about the situation should a group come some time after us. The way things look from our research, there will most definitely be another group and who knows what they'll introduce to this world. We're certainly not done bringing change. The question still remains, who is doing this? I think I understand the why. With magic and gods, this world doesn't have any problems with stagnating. So someone brings us in to kick the world in the pants and force evolution. Just as we must adapt to this world to survive, so the world must adapt to us I guess? We've pretty much have already made the Wolflake Orcs one of the most powerful militaries in the world, should they manage to take advantage of what we've given them. So will history remember us as bringing in the age of Orcs and gunpowder? Fuck, that reminds me, who was behind giving the Wolflake sun church the materials to build a cannon? We're all here, none of us did. It can't be a natural development can it? Or maybe it was just coincidence? I don't know anymore.
Journal Entry 237
After thinking it through, I've decided that maybe the Orcs being the only ones to have stirrups isn't the best of ideas. So we are going to give the tech to Aeyllin and through that, it'll spread through the adventurers to other cities and nations at a slower pace and maybe we can make a profit off it on the side. I took Marcus and Jason out with me and we sold the idea to several of the right people. The guard will be putting them to use right away, they loved the idea. Then there is black powder. To be honest, I'm still shaky with the idea of just handing out something like that, but it seems that I already have. So we disclosed the formula with the University master alchemist and made sure he understood how dangerous it was. We don't need him blowing himself up while unlocking the mysteries of it, and I gave him a quick demonstration of it's possibilities with my gun. I have this feeling of dread now that I've unleashed something horrible unto the world. Is this how Alfred Nobel felt when he unleashed dynamite unto the world? Well, I'm no Alfred Nobel. Far from it.
Journal Entry 238
We had an incident today. The sun church decided that Avery wasn't spending enough time devoting herself to them and showed up at the house to take her back. I wasn't picking up anything resembling good intentions, just self interest and greed. They want her badly because of what she knows, what she is and there is a jealousy of her power? I don't know why there is the jealousy, she's just a Cleric. Anyways, Avery fought back and we had her back, even Raina. The pregnant elf apparently knows a little magic and threw up some distraction spells. When all was said and done, we sent the church priests back with their tails between their legs, but we've just opened ourselves up to their divine reprisal. I'm not sure what they're capable of in this city. So we've set up some fortifications for Raina and have Jason watching the temple for activity. In the meantime, we gathered and watched Strange Days again. We had to explain everything to Marcus's girl and I know she didn't understand even a quarter of it, she was bleeding confusion the entire time. Speaking of her, she's got the weirdest mental signature. Might be a side effect of pregnancy.
Journal Entry 239
Marcus was in some weird kind of frenzy all day today and blasting fear and panic across the room hard enough that it almost penetrated my passive defenses. He won't talk about it though. Well, whenever he's ready. Maybe the fact that he's going to be a father soon sunk in. Maybe he saw another old girlfriend in town. I don't know. We have Mike watching the church today. He's idly reading the Dune series on the nook and set up in one of the street cafe's near the church. Avery spent most of the day in prayer. I don't know if that's going to help in any way. That left me, Jason and Alex. So we went out and did some sightseeing and hit a few taverns along the way before stopping off at the University. Something was bothering me. When our trio of students were in captivity, some wizard friend of the Archmage kept taking biological samples from them for some experiments. Why, they're just human like everyone else right? The university is looking into it. They think it has to do with the fact that we're offworlders and thus some people might think we're different because of that. So the same reason Avery was getting harassed in the church. Then again, we have taken extremely well to magic considering we're from a no magic world. Even psionics and sorcery which aren't something that just anyone can do. I don't know what to think and I await their results. Anyways, I think we're going to drag Marcus out to a tavern and get him blitzed, he's been suffering enough lately.
Journal Entry 240
Alex came running in today shouting. The church was on the move. Sure enough, paladins showed up at our door, 10 of them. We had already left by then. We had moved Raina and Marcus to an inn and snuck around town and seized control of their church and took the remaining clerics and priests hostage. Then, one by one, I erased any knowledge of Avery or us from their minds and sent them on their way. I found out why they're jealous of Avery. It's because the sungod talks to her, and he doesn't talk to them anymore. They can still wield his power, just without as much force. Anyways, I implanted a small nugget in their minds. Jealousy of the Paladins. We made it out of there before the Paladins returned and made for the inn. We'll see how this plays out.
Journal Entry 241
It's been quiet at the sun church, but we're keeping watch on it. We've moved back in Raina's house and things have more or less calmed down for now. Austin stopped by to show off his first Artificer project. He's building magic speakers and is planning on using them with his mp3 player. Well, okay I guess. I don't think the locals are ready for our kind of music in all its glory. The last thing I want is to get chased out of town because Austin decided to play death metal or jpop. Anyways, a festival is starting up tomorrow. Some old fertility festival that dates back to when Aeyllin was an elven city and some of us, me included, have been drafted to help set up. It's money and I didn't have anything else to do today. I do enjoy the fairs here. Simple, but with everything important. Good food, good booze, good music and women.
Journal Entry 242
It's been a total clusterfuck. The fair started today and we all go out to attend. So I'm flirting with some pretty redhead when suddenly there's a scream of pain. Raina's water burst and she's feeling it. Marcus ditches the stage, Avery recognizes one of the midwives in the crowd and we haul ass to a nearby inn, clear the table and set her on it and assist in any way we can. The only pain killers we had was booze. So she's pushing and screaming and this goes on for hours and then it happens. It's a boy. Marcus's son. It's amazing. And then a fucking dragon smashes the inn and flies away, shooting fire everywhere, wrecking the fair, panic in the streets, guards swarming the area, adventurers shooting magic into the sky. The dragon flies off. We dig ourselves out of the wreckage of the inn. No one was injured but we can't find Raina. Marcus suddenly starts sobbing. We get them back to the house and the midwife is currently helping deal with the baby. After everything calmed down, my head clears enough to put two and two together. This is one seriously fucked up situation. I don't even know where to begin.
Journal Entry 243
Raina returned today. I couldn't even touch her mind. Either way, she had some explaining to do, but she had other plans. First thing she demands that the baby is named Katzakon. I think that's how it's spelled. Probably an apostrophe in there somewhere. Anyways, Marcus suddenly grows a backbone and demands that he be named Nathan. An epic argument broke out between the two that none of us wanted to get involved in. Screaming, hissing, magic gestures. We all decide it's a good time to not be here and go out back with the baby and midwife. After several hours, it suddenly goes quiet. Jason sneaks over and peeks through the window to make sure someone didn't suddenly get killed. Nope, they're both making out. When all was said and done, they both got their way. Nathan Ka'tzakon. Marcus apparently lost his surname in the fight. She then gives us an ultimatum. Get our stuff and get the fuck out of her house except Marcus. So we're back at another inn. Well, time to plan that trip I guess.
Journal Entry 244
Alright, we made our plans, our trip back to Winterfield. We're going to head the same way we took getting here originally, cutting across the wilderness, pay a visit to New Chicago, resupply at Brightly and then make our way to our destination. We managed to negotiate with Raina for Marcus. She's calmed down a bit but she's still a bit pissy at us since we're still treating her the same even though we know her secret. She's expecting to be worshiped or taken in awe and fear. Maybe she deserves it but I'm certainly not going to give her the satisfaction. To me, she's still the elf groupie that got knocked up in a tavern. Probably not appropriate things to say about Marcus's wife, but that's just how I feel. Anyways, we've still got some supply shopping to do. We let our three students know what we're up to. They wanted to come, but it's too dangerous. They need to be here.
Journal Entry 245
About a days walk and we're still not out of the kingdom. We're set up in one of the farming settlement inns for the night with some adventurers passing through. They came in from Ashvale and have been on foot and living off the land for two months. They seemed in good spirits and somehow we ended up in a drinking contest. I don't remember who won but I woke up in their female shifter's bedroom, so I guess that's a victory of some sort? Maybe? Anyways, we're getting ready to leave. This will have been the last bed and warm meal that we're going to have for a few days.
Journal Entry 246
It's been several days. We were tromping through the woods when we break out into a clearing and there it is. New Chicago. The kobolds immediately panic and grab for anything they can use as a weapon until they realize who we are. So, welcome to New Chicago, the kobold village. They have about 5 buildings built, each less ramshackle than the last, so they are improving. Their farmland is kind of a mess so we're going share some farming knowledge with them since they have the very basics down. We spent time in one of their buildings regaling our adventures and hearing about their first year struggle. They didn't manage to get their farm up in time for winter, but managed to survive on hunting and fishing and once things froze over, they figured out ice fishing on their own from the nearby lake. There's a bunch of little ones running around, so I'd say this is a success so far. Good for them. Alex was a bit weirded out that we're so casual with the kobolds, the only ones he's ever met were feral or bandits. Avery had no problems, she's used to us making friends with odd tribals. So we're staying an extra night to make sure they get all this farming knowledge down and see if we can give suggestions on how to improve their construction.
Journal Entry 247
Well, we said goodbye to our kobold friends and headed back into the wilds. We were escorted to their border by a few of their rangers and off we went. Sure, they may smell, but they're alright little people. Maybe one day when they become a city, they'll start their own trade route with Aeyllin. God, I hope Marcus didn't bed one of them. Anyways, tonight though, we're camped at the foot of the mountains. We have a short distance to cross over. Last time it took two to three days if I remember right. It was also cold at the time. It's a lot warmer this time, but the winds are pretty strong. We gathered up and watched Strange Days. We've taken up almost ritual behavior with watching it. Things we say and do during specific scenes. It's creepy looking back on it. On the other hand, it gave me an idea. So what if we start publishing plays based off Earth movies or earth plays? That'd be amusing. If I were feeling particularly evil, I could unleash Rocky Horror unto the world.
Journal Entry 248
We are in the mountains and camped out in a ship wreck. It was fun watching Alex try and figure out how this got up here. He figures some kind of misfired greater teleportation effect. We marked our passing inside again and just as we were about to start cooking, the Rheingraf spymaster appeared and was immediately stabbed in face by Jason, who was apparently ready for him. He vanishes again. It was so fast, Alex doesn't even realize something's happened. So how did Jason know he was coming? He just shrugs and smiles. What the fuck? After I manage to calm down and after dinner, we sat around the fire and saw who could make the most outlandish tale as to how this regular ship managed to crash in the mountains, hundreds of miles from any body of water large enough to hold it. Mike won with a tale of demons and devils gambling, sea-elven tsunami cannons and alien intervention. That guy's got an imagination. Damn.
Journal Entry 249
Still in the mountains. It's too windy for an open fire, so we've got no warmth outside our camp blankets and using flashlights and our tablets for light and entertainment and no way to cook our food. The camp moral is low and everyone is worn out from climbing up and down, struggling to keep balance and dealing with the occasional wild animal. We had big bear incident, one of the dire types. I managed to convince it not to attack, but every time I made it go away, it would come back an hour later. It was hungry and angry that something was in it's territory. Very primal, instincts, very raw, pure feeling, but dangerous. We finally had to put it down with spells and bullets or we'd of been at risk of attack all through the night. Went over the map. We should be out of the mountains tomorrow and be at Brightly a few days after that, possibly a week depending. It'll sure be nice having beds again.
Journal Entry 250
So we make it out of the mountains and are tromping through the woods when I start feeling this odd presence again. It's hard to describe but I can't focus on it. Then blam, we walk right into a bee hive. Fucking bees. Mike panics, screams that he's allergic and starts blindly throwing black fire everywhere. The man who threw down and went toe to toe with an archmage and consorts with demons and he's terrified of bees. I try and bring up the concentration to help him gain control while I'm being stung. We make it out covered in bee stings and Avery's still working at trying to heal them all. God dammit. Anyways, we should have stumbled onto that goat path we followed last time by now. We may be a bit off course.
Journal Entry 251
We've been walking for two days now and just when I'm convinced that we're lost, we break out of the woods and onto the trade road. We were just east of it. We make it to Brightly before nightfall. The place has quieted down for the night except the tavern, filled with loud dragonborn lumberjacks. Marcus got to playing and got them all singing along to DuranDuran stuff. There's another group of humans in town, a trade caravan from Winterfield that's been staying here until they hear back from the city. They've been here nearly a year and are afraid to return since the barbarian sacking of the town. We invited them along but they declined. Come morning, we're going to resupply and head out. It'll be nice to sleep in a bed tonight, and get a warm meal. This trail ration shit gets tiresome.
Journal Entry 252
The Brightly to Wildlake airship was coming in for a landing while we were on our way out. It's only been a few months since they started this route, shifting over from the Wildlake to Winterfield run when the civil war started. Already the city's expanded and signs of new prosperity. The people are wearing newer clothes, using better and newer tools and so on. Anyways, we should have a few days on this road before we hit the plains. Then, Winterfield. I'm not sure what we'll encounter when we get there and no one seems to know the condition of Winterfield. Maybe the whole city will be destroyed or under barbarian occupation, or maybe they eventually won the conflict. That's what we're here to find out. That and vengeance. Hopefully we won't have bandit issues.
Journal Entry 253
We came across an abandoned caravan style wagon in the middle of the road. One of it's wheels were broken and there was signs of old blood but no bodies. I didn't detect anyone so if anyone survived, or the ones who caused it may have been long gone. Nothing worth scavenging. A few hours further down the road, we came across several long dead horses along the side of the road. If it was bandits, I'm not picking them up nearby. We'll see I guess. We're doing double guards for the night because of our encounters. I've got first shift with Mike. What ever has been prowling the road may have left long ago. Anyways, Mike and I have been discussing a few things. Our theory is that we're here to change the world, presumably for the better. So aside from bikes and ballpoint pens, we've introduced implements of war. If this what we're going to be known for? We're ushering in the age of war? Who had the right to give us this kind of responsibility? Were we picked for this or a random sample? I've long given up on the idea of going home, but I would still like to know.
Journal Entry 254
We have exited the Brightly woods and have crossed the Winterfield border, onto the plains. It should be a few days to the city itself. I'm not sure about where the barbarian tribe would have migrated by now or if they're even still migrating. I guess we'll find out. We've all been holding up well considering the distances we've been traveling. So the campfire discussion for the day is the large variety of races and their similarities to fictional work back home. Of course every race has their creation myths but are they just myths? Did evolution occur here or was this a case of divine creation? That's not exactly something Avery can pray to the sungod for an answer to. So was this all just made? How about the similarities? More questions.
Journal Entry 255
We are camped out on a ridge several miles from Winterfield, it gives us an elevated view and makes it more difficult to see us. Unfortunately it may mean that we can't use a campfire. At night, the illumination would give us away. During the day, the smoke. Well, the city is still standing but it's under prolonged siege by the barbarians. Their camp looks far larger than I remember it. It reminds me of the Orc war camp in Wolflake its size. Their encampment circle the front side of the city just out of range of bow or spell and mounted patrols are regularly being sent out. I wish I had some binoculars with me. The best thing we have is the zoom function on one of the mp3 player's camera and it's really not made for this. We're looking around for a better place to set up. Hopefully something with cover as it looks like there are rainclouds coming our way.
Journal Entry 256
We had our first encounter today. We were scouting the area when a barbarian scout party of 5 rides up, spears and swords and demands that we surrender or we're all dead. They were more of mind to just kill us and loot our corpses. Mike didn't even let them finish before he was blasting the shit out of them with his magics. I leap in and dominate one of the younger barbarians and force him into spearing the guy next to him. Between us all, we destroyed them before they could fall out of their saddles. Unfortunately for the horses, they were caught up in the blasts and didn't make it. We checked them for anything we can use and then kept looking. It felt good. Somewhere in the back of my mind, the fear from those days, the hunt, was still haunting me and some of it left with the slaughter of this scout team. Anyways, just before nightfall, we came across an old crypt and have taken residence inside. The dead residing here aren't of the moving variety and Avery went around ensuring that they never will be, not without a lot of work anyways. It's hidden away in a hill and only a few hour walk from the city. It didn't have anything worth looting, the place has already been sacked, more than once from the look of it.
Journal Entry 257
We've begun a campaign of guerrilla warfare against the barbarians. We've figured out where their supplies have been coming from, several roaming camps that have been looting the outlaying farmsteads and hunting parties. They resupply at a main supply camp where the women and children are, and then that gets sent to the war party sieging the city after they treat it. If only we had the cover of a forest to work with. The plains make our maneuvering much more difficult. We move at night. Our first target was one of the hunting parties, camping out in the foothills. We caught sight of them entering the area and then the illumination of their camp fire. We snuck in. They were a band of 3, armed with bows, javelins, and a series of knives and on one man watches. We got in close enough without them detecting anything, that alone took awhile. Once I got in range, I dominated the one on guard duty and had him bring us the weapons of the others while Jason and Marcus went in to kill the two in their sleep with their blades. I could have had the captive kill his compatriots, but killing one might wake the other and cause unnecessary complications. I tore through my captive's mind looking tactical information and for a reason as to why they had become violent like this. I was half expecting to see reasons similar to the Orcs of Wolflake, but no. Their warrior culture started breeding contempt for anyone that wasn't them until it was perfectly fine and preferred in their culture to kill any non tribe members. Hence, they aren't tribals, they're barbarians. I purged the captive, we looted them for anything we could use and headed back to our hideout. They were on foot unfortunately, so no horses to steal.
Journal Entry 258
We caught another horse mounted patrol. We saw them in the distance and decided to set up a trap. Avery got to be the damsel in distress and managed to attract the group over while we lay in wait around some waist high grass. Just as they get in close, I make the horses flip the fuck out and dump their riders. Then we pounced. We captured two of the four alive. We're not exactly out here to take prisoners and Avery won't let us just execute them. So we sent them loose after making them a sure drain on resources. Jason removed their thumbs and Avery healed the wound closed. I purged their memories of us, of what happened, though I made one of them believe that they devoured their two compatriots and their missing digits over the course of the night. Not sure how that will bake in, but it's sure to cause some chaos. In the meantime, we're back in our dungeon base trying to figure out a more permanent solution to enemy captives since we don't have the resources for a POW camp. Our loot for the day, some more gear, namely more arrows, spears and javelins. We would have taken the horses but we can't really house or feed them which is a shame. It's also a shame that none of us were any good with bows, even when Marcus tried taking up one, he never could hit a damn thing with it. Well, we have lots of arrows to practice with, maybe we'll set up a firing range deeper in the crypt.
Journal Entry 259
We managed to intercept one of the supply wagons heading for the war camp. Loads of salted and smoked meat and a barrel of mead. They had 3 people, women, and one male guard. We disposed of the male guard and I wiped the memories of the women. As for the wagon and it's cargo, it was more than we could use, so we moved it to a valley, got what we could and Mike burned the rest. So now we have some alcohol. Best not to abuse it in this situation. Jason wants to try something a bit more daring with our next raid. He wants to infiltrate the supply camp. I won't tell him no, but that's really fucking dangerous. I hope it's not the mead planning this for him.
Journal Entry 260
Well, we made sure we had clear heads and made a plan and Jason went in. I lent him my gun for this one just in case. So we waited for nightfall and then for things to calm down at the camp for the night. Jason slipped off and we waited. After what felt like hours, a fire erupted across the camp. Lots of yelling and the whole camp woke up to try and put it out. Jason showed up shortly after and gave us the run down. He managed to cripple their penned horses and while checking out some of the unoccupied tents, found a load of waterskins, a map and a barrel of lamp oil. So now we have a new map and the barbarian women and children have a burning camp. We went back to our hideout before sun up and celebrated. Jason returned my pistol and we checked over the new map. It only covered the general area of Winterfield, but it was in greater detail than my continental map.
Journal Entry 261
I guess we were followed, either that or one of the scouts heard our celebration. A group of 30 or so barbarians set up outside of our crypt base, archers holding the door. The first few swordsmen they sent in died fast. Any time we peered around a corner, their archers would try and hit us, so we had a standoff. So things go quiet and we start wondering what they're doing. Alex sticks his ipod around the corner and snaps a photo. They're building a bonfire at the entrance. I don't think this place has vents, and certainly no other exit. Then they start the fire. With the bonfire blocking the entrance, their archers can't draw a good bead on us. Alex pops around the corner and hits the bonfire with some ice magic and puts it out. They try again, and Alex puts it out again. This goes on for an hour. Finally they clear the now mostly frozen wood out and decide to do a charge. The crypt isn't really that wide, they can get two in at a time. Mike and Alex step out and unleash everything. Marcus starts playing some empowerment song, Avery throws around some defensive blessings and I do my best to fuck up the minds of those that aren't caught up in the blasts. We put down about half of them before they decide to retreat and get more people. Our fight filled the crypt up with smoke and we were having trouble breathing, so we pack up and leave as well. We're camped out in the foothills right now. I guess we got their attention.
Journal Entry 262
So I'm getting a nice sleep in when Mike raises the alarm. Barbarians on horses riding towards us. We grab everything and make a run for a more defensible location. We head down between the foothills with the plan to get up on the higher ground when Jason suddenly stops us. He says there's a shit load of traps in the grass. Then groups of barbarian archers spring up along the hill top and start firing down on us. We got played good. They have no interest in taking prisoners, so we do what we're good at. We fight back. Avery starts throwing out defenses and heals, our spellcasters throwing around their widest area attacks and their own defenses and I open fire between mindrape. In the end, we turned the tide and got them on the run but suffered a lot of injuries. Jason's kindle caught a few arrows and won't start anymore. Mike's mp3 player was smashed. Avery's so burned out from that we're still not fully recovered. I'm a bit lightheaded from blood loss. I don't know how we'll manage if they come at us again like that.
Journal Entry 263
It feels good to not have any open wounds anymore. Thank god for Avery. Thank the sun god I guess? We ran into a patrol over the night while we were relocating and took them down. We captured 4 horses and we've taken to riding them, some we have to double up on, so we're slow going, but at least we're going. No stirrups. Well, we have gotten their attention. The patrol was looking for us specifically. I wonder how much we're managing to pull away from the main siege force? Anyways, we're set up on high ground this time with the horses tied up below on the side facing away from the direction we'd expect patrols to come from, namely the siege camp. Mike's pretty depressed about his mp3 player but Alex got it in his head that maybe Austin can fix it back in Aeyllin with what he learns from artificing. A partially magic mp3 player? How does that even work?
Journal Entry 264
We surprised another hunting party today. No horses. We managed to capture them all this time. They've been dethumbed and sent back with new memories. I tried something new, making them believe that this is all a dream that they can wake up from if they try hard enough. I wonder how the tribe deals with crazy people. Probably with murder. So Avery's been troubled. I had a talk with her. All of this may be too much for her. She has her faith and believes that what we're doing is okay as long as we don't step over the line and needlessly start executing them. It's the stress. We've been at this for a while, so we decided that we'll see about capturing a few more horses and then head to Brightly for a few days. Catch our breaths and get some decent rest for a change. A nice hot meal.
Journal Entry 265
We destroyed a scout patrol and managed to capture enough horses. We looted them and sent back the dethumbed survivor believing that he's secretly a dragon and wants to eat everyone. We immediately headed for the road to Brightly. With horses, we should be able to get there by tomorrow. Maybe we can get some stirrups made there. We're camped out on the trade road. We shouldn't have any problems, I don't imagine the barbarians run this far out of their territory but we have guard rotations anyways just in case.
Journal Entry 266
We're back in Brightly. Jason and Mike are trying to get us some stirrups made for us between the blacksmith and leatherworks. The rest of us are hanging out in the tavern. We're the only humans here again so the dragonborn are giving us special attention. We got our good nights rest and decided to stick around for a few days. Maybe the barbarians will forget about us long enough that we can start surprising them again when we return. In the meantime, Marcus is keeping everyone entertained, though Avery keeps reminding him about what's waiting for him in Aeyllin should he decide to bed one of the locals. Poor guy.
Journal Entry 267
We got our stirrups. They took a few tries but the leather worker finally got the idea. They were free. In exchange, he gets to produce more. Just as long as the barbarians don't get their hands on them. They are detachable from the barbarian saddles our horses came with, so if we need to leave, we can take them with us. They're held on with some hooks and buckle. We gave them some test runs and they seem sturdy enough. We then got the horses properly shoed because they apparently weren't. Avery has named hers Matilda. I'm not going to bother naming mine until I'm sure I'm going to have it longer than a week. Hell, I didn't bother naming the last one either and I had that one for a while. Anyways, speaking of Avery, she's broadcasting loneliness pretty hard. I'm going to go over and try and help make her feel better.
Journal Entry 268
Well, I'm not sure what to say. Apparently I was pretty lonely too and next thing I know we're in my room. Stuff happened. I'm not sure what to make of it afterwards; our relationship hasn't really been more familial than this and some of her holy spells going off like that were... I don't know. I don't think the others know, aside from Marcus anyways. His bard senses apparently automatically let him know who is sleeping with whom. He's been smug all day and vaguely hinting about it in conversation. I swear to god I'm going to wreck his ass if he keeps this up. Anyways, Avery and I decided that maybe it wasn't a good idea and we're not going to talk about it any further. Also just because we've been intimate doesn't mean you can read my journal Avery!
>What makes you think I'm reading your Journal? Maybe you're just paranoid.
Journal Entry 269
We decided that we're heading out tomorrow. We got freshened up, had our rest and it was time to get back out in the field. So we're all sitting in the tavern with the map planning our next move when Jason suddenly gives one of the camp warning signs. Suddenly the Rheingraf spymaster appears. Jason immediately disarms him and we tackle him to the ground. Mike starts tying him up. We caught the motherfucker. He won't talk and I can't get anything out of him, it's like his mind isn't even there. So we drag him out back. We decide we're going to torture him. We only know one method that doesn't involve cutting things off or pointless threats and hot pokers. We waterboard him. Nothing seemed to happen at first. Then we realized that he doesn't breathe. Avery tries hitting him with one of her anti-undead spells and nothing happens. He starts laughing at us and says that “he'll see us next time.” Then his throat exploded, spraying us with blood.. and then his body vanished leaving behind the ropes. Fucking hell.
Journal Entry 270
We're back on the road and should be back in Winterfield by tomorrow. The damnedest thing happened while on the road. We're riding along and suddenly all our wireless devices pick up an ad-hoc wifi signal. We pull to a stop and it vanishes. I don't feel anyone around, Jason doesn't see anyone or anything. We tie up the horses and scour the bordering woods for several hours before giving up. Maybe it was some kind of atmospheric or EM disturbance? I don't know how to explain it. We rode on at a good clip to make up for our time before nightfall. Mike is digging through Avery's laptop to see if anything was moved by the connection but it doesn't look like it so far. It got me thinking though. Is it possible that anyone from the last group is still around? Using magic of some sort to stay young? If so, wouldn't they have tried to make contact yet? So what if I were in their shoes, ageless somehow and start hearing about more Terrans showing up. Yeah I'd try and find them asap and give them as much help as I could. I brought it up at our campfire discussion and we all agreed we would do the same. Those first weeks were terrifying. No one should have to go through that alone and without guidance.
Journal Entry 271
We made it to the plains and got close enough to observe the situation. The barbarian war camp was in shambles, panic everywhere. It looked like they were recovering from artillery though they were out of spell and catapult range. It was total chaos. Then we found the cause. There was a loud bang, audible from even here, and a second later, an explosion erupted in the middle of the barbarian ranks. It was artillery. Jason confirmed that it was fired from Winterfield. Mortars. A few minutes later, another one fired. After several shellings, the barbarians finally pulled into a retreat, heading in the direction of their supply camp. We held our position on the hill. An hour later, the front gates of Winterfield opened and their militia stepped out. It looked like they were scavenging the barbarian camp for supplies. People started coming out to join them. Some were fighting over what food they could get. We decided to pull back and moved into our old crypt base for the time being. We'll let them recover a bit before they decide to steal everything of ours because they're starving. This begs the question. Who introduced mortars to Winterfield? The same person who was sending cannon materials to Wolflake? More questions.
Journal Entry 272
We let things set for a few days and then we rode out to the city. The gates were opened and there was a large watch out front. A group of civilians were digging a mass grave to hold the large mound of corpses nearby. Other than that grisly sight, things were looking less desperate. Upon approach, the guard out front drew their weapons. We stopped and explained ourselves. That we were adventurers and what we had been doing out here against the barbarians. We were given clearance to enter but warned that food was on short supply. Doesn't look like we'll get our hot meal. They also mentioned that the provisional government is hiring mercenaries to bolster their armed forces for their upcoming actions against the barbarians. We noticed, upon entering, a brand new mortar sitting within the walls, only one. It was surrounded by some guards and what looked like an alchemist. We tied up our horses and went over to talk to them about it. They wouldn't let us get near the thing, stating state secret. I did get a quick glimpse into their minds. Nothing that would point them out as Terrans. I would need a longer session to find out where the gunpowder came from. It can't be from the Wolflake Orcs. Only a handful of them knew the recipe and how would it have even gotten here? We're going to check into this better tonight if we can. Jason paid a visit to his guild. We met him later at the graveyard. We paid our respects at Amanda's grave site. Avery said a prayer for her, then we checked into an inn and paid with a loaf of bread, which is worth more than gold right now.
Journal Entry 273
The city has seized our horses and sent them to be processed for meat. Just like that. They did pay us, but it was a pittance. At least they had the decency to give us the saddles back. Avery was ranting about it all day. So before we had anything else seized from us, we decided that we weren't done with the barbarian issue, so we signed up as mercenaries. The pay looks to be pretty good and we get free rooming. Food is another problem because of the shortages in the city. They're already running up to Brightly to see if they can get anything shipped over. So we're quartered with two other adventuring groups who were both trapped in the city when the siege began who had been on their way to Aeyllin at the time. Several warriors, some spell casters, a money paladin and a cleric of the peace church. We all got to know each other, related stories and so on. I don't trust the paladin. He doesn't feel untrustworthy, but I haven't had the best experiences around them.
Journal Entry 274
We finally got a chance to pay a visit to that alchemist. I went along with Jason. We slipped inside once I could confirm that he was alone. We took him by surprise and I mind stunned him, set him down and dug in while Jason kept watch. I did get some worthwhile information from him. One of the sun church priests approached him one night and delivered a note with the chemicals and process for making the explosives along with diagrams explaining how to build the mortar and shells for a blacksmith or bell maker. The sun church again. They don't even have a branch here. The alchemist had to swear an oath of loyalty to the church for the plans, a magically binding one. He did so, any way to break the siege. The priest hadn't been seen since. I cleared his mind of the incident and made him think that he slipped. We're going to have to start keeping an eye out for this priest.
Journal Entry 275
We scoured the city looking for any word of a sun priest staying. A few innkeeps recalled such a man a few months ago but he seems to have disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared there. He showed up at the inn after the siege had started, when the innkeeper wasn't expecting any new visitors. But there he was. And then he checked out well before it had broken. Chances are that he isn't in the city anymore. So why would he come here and do this? Why, how is the sun church involved in this? What else do they know? Are they holding old literature from the last group of Terrans? Anyways, I picked up some new clothes on the market; my current set had just reached the point where they were being held together by the good graces of decency. So us mercenaries are being sent into the field tomorrow and do some scouting work. If I still had my damn horse, this would be a cinch.
Journal Entry 276
We were broken into groups of three, patrolling specific routes and set to meet up at one location, near the barbarian supply camp, and then head back after gathering what information we can. A two or three day trip. I was with Alex and one of the other adventurers, a tiefling guy. What the hell is wrong with their chins? Says he's a ranger of some kind. So we're set to visit one of the abandoned farmsteads along our route. We get out there around nightfall, poke around. I don't detect anyone, all the farm animals are gone or dead. It looks like some of the fields are still harvestable. So we go inside the house and check around for anything we can use. They got a barrel of booze in their kitchen but it smells funny. There is some preserved fruit and some salted meat, so we have some of that, then sit around the fireplace and tell stories. Alex and I decide to completely befuddle the guy. So after he tells us about his adventure fighting one illithid and some drow in a cave system, I tell him the story of the Morrowind. He doesn't get what the fuck I'm going on about. Alex decides to one up me and tells him about the Emperor of Mankind, except he's using all the local races. He thinks we're both insane now.
Journal Entry 277
So we continue our patrol route and finally reach our meeting point, an old compass marker in the fields. Over the course of the next few hours, everyone starts arriving. Avery's group ran into some hunters and managed to put them down with some effort. Jason and Mike's team got lost because of their team leader. Marcus amusingly got stuck with both a cleric and paladin. He wasn't happy. I think this is the longest he's gone without getting any. We exchange notes and head over to see what the barbarians are doing in their camp. They're all in some kind of huge ritual with dancing around a totem of corpses, smoke and chanting. Mike's under the impression that it's some kind of weird devil summoning. We quickly leave and continued to travel through the night. We made it to the city a little after midnight and inform the guard of what we saw, then headed to our quarters to get some rest.
Journal Entry 278
We're preparing to leave in the morning with the main militia force and start our attack on the barbarian horde. All us mercenaries are hanging out in the tavern. Mike finds out one of the girls is also a warlock and the two have an instant connection. They spent several hours in a corner excited talking and throwing emotions all over the place before running off for one of their rooms. Good for him, I don't think Mike's gotten any since we've been here. Unless they're running off to perform some infernal ritual. Fucking warlocks. Anyways, I paid another visit to Amanda's grave. We threw in some money to get her a proper headstone made, written in English. I wonder what she would have become if she made it. I could almost feel her presence again. I'll get those barbarians for you Amanda. You just rest. If I could change history, I would have never gone down into the hold. I would have never reached out with my mind and tried to figure out what was in that crate. Maybe the monster wouldn't have awoken and made the airship burn. Maybe you'd still be alive.
Journal Entry 279
We're out in the field, marching with the rest of the militia. We're wheeling along the mortar as well while more are being made for the city. It's only a matter of time before they figure out how to make a regular cannon from it. That's the one thing that big gunpowder weapons have an advantage in. Range. They'll out range a regular mage by a great deal. The commander of this force plans on setting up his force in a phalanx when battle begins while us mercs will act as a skirmishers and try to assist the formations in any way possible. Again, this would be easier if we had our fucking horses still. We're not sure what to expect from that barbarian ritual. Maybe it failed, maybe it wasn't real, maybe it summoned an army. In the meantime, it looks like they got the airship route reestablished as one was arriving while we were out. It'll take weeks or months of food deliveries before the city will fully recover, possibly years of farming to rebuild their stores.
Journal Entry 280
They did indeed summon an army. A devil army. I don't know what deals were struck for this. I don't want to know. Our forces nearly panicked and ran but between the commander's words and the militia's bards throwing around inspiration and bravery, we managed to hold cohesion. There were many strange forms and shapes out there and we could make out their leader, standing in front of the rabble with a flaming spear. Mike said it was an Erinyes and went on to list all the others present. Then they came for us. The phalanx formed. Avery and another cleric lit up like a holy beacon. I noticed that none of the others did. The barbarians came in from the back, using the devils as their shock troops. Several of the phalanx formations were immediately destroyed while others pressed forward. Our group did its best to harass the enemy. I was picking up the weirdest mental traffic from them. They were avoiding us, the Terrans. An order of some kind? When one of us would attack, they'd pull back and try to avoid or engage someone else. Even trying to use this to our advantage, the battle was going bad. Then the mortar started firing. The enemy line was completely thrown in disarray. Unfortunately, we only got 5 shots off before the mortar exploded, killing its fire team. We certainly decimated the barbarian horde, but the devil army was a bit more difficult. The commander finally ordered a retreat and everyone made a run for the city. All of us mercs decided that we didn't want to get caught up in another siege and split off. We've taken refuge inside our old crypt base. Avery, the other cleric and paladin are going around trying to holy the place up some. Maybe keep the infernals away over the night.
Journal Entry 281
Luckily, we had no infernal visitations over the night. We do have a plan of action though. Mike and his warlock girlfriend believe that the barbarians are the anchor keeping the devils here through their ritual. If we kill them, or at least the right ones, the army should dissolve, and they'll return to wherever they go. With that in mind, we packed up and headed for the barbarian camp, a horde of adventurers off to save the day. On the way, we noticed that the devil army was sieging Winterfield pretty hard, as we had expected. The rain of arrows from the walls was barely keeping the devil forces from attacking. The devils had no siege machines with them, though I suppose some of the larger ones would count as living siege engines. I'm not sure how long it would take for the city to produce more mortars but they probably didn't have enough time and I doubt they'd be in any condition to deal with a devil invasion of the town when the gate inevitably fails. It probably doesn't help that we have most of the holy types with any kind of ability with us.
Journal Entry 282
We made it to the barbarian camp at nightfall. It looked like they were preparing another ritual with all the corpses from the battle of the day before. We made our move. Jason and the rest of the sneaks went ahead to silence the guard. The rest of us moved in when we got the signal. All hell broke loose. Our hell this time. All our spellcasters unleashed upon the ritual performers, the rest of us picking off anyone who wandered out of the blast zones. After the spellcasters blew their load, it turned into a real battle. We were outnumbered, but we had every other advantage. We let the non-combatants flee, the non-warrior women and children, pets. When the sun came up, we held the camp. We had casualties and many wounded. No Terrans died this night though Alex ended up with several broken bones when he ended up wrestling a barbarian, and Mike was debilitated by the tribe shaman's magic. Our clerics and paladins are healing everyone as best they can. In other news, I found out why the local psions shave their heads. By late battle I was starting to burn out, I gave my last good concentrated mindrape blast, my last bit of everything and then my hair caught on fire. I got it out in time but I'm going to have to be more careful about this. I'm not shaving my head. .
Journal Entry 283
We have horses again! After we got everyone that we could back on their feet, we took the barbarian horses and rode out to the city to see if our plan worked. Well it did, kind of. Only a quarter of the devils remained and they looked disorganized. We made our plan and rode in. Our spell slingers started hitting them from range, our clerics, putting up their divine barriers and whatnot. The city militia took our cue, opened the gates and went out in force while the rest of us engaged the devils. Again they were avoiding us Terrans, but that didn't stop us. By the end of the battle, the devils had dissipated. We all had injuries of some sort, mostly burns but damn, it felt good. The barbarians were no longer an immediate threat to the region and we actually saved a city. Of course they still took our horses for food, but we got paid a little better this time. We got our merc pay as well. Considering all the effort we put in, and our losses, I feel like we've been shafted. I can understand that the city doesn't have much to offer right now I guess.
Journal Entry 284
Things are doing better around town with the immediate threats put down. The militia went over and raided the barbarian camp for anything left behind and brought back some supplies that should help. The farmers are returning to their farmsteads. The other adventurer teams are sticking around a few more days before heading to Aeyllin. We told them of New Chicago and warned them that they better not fuck around with its inhabitants. We should probably be going with them, but I don't think any of us are ready for another weeks long voyage across the wilderness. I think we're just all exhausted. We did complete what we set out to do and it was a lot of work. We do have some peace of mind at least. I paid a visit to Amanda's grave. Had a talk. I know it's silly, but I swear I felt her presence, her standing there listening. Anyways, I'm going to run off and meet up with Jason, Marcus and Alex. Jason wanted to explore the castle as it's currently not being used. Avery doesn't like the idea and Mike is doing the warlock thing with his girlfriend. The provisional government closed the castle down when they formed and have been running everything from a repurposed court house in the middle of town. Maybe there's something of value inside.
Journal Entry 285
We spent hours going through that damned castle. It had been ransacked pretty hard already. Probably during the city's civil war. After a few hours, we finally just gave up and hung around the throne room for awhile. The throne had been destroyed for whatever reason. I don't remember it being covered in anything valuable so maybe it was in spite. Anyways, after a few minutes, Jason says he sees something and goes over and starts playing with one of the back walls. Sure enough, there's a click and a hidden door pops open. Okay, we figure it's an emergency escape exit for the king. We grab our lights and head in. Well, the stairs go up, so it's not an emergency exit. We end up on the fourth floor in a room with no other doors but a few small window vents too small to crawl through. The floor of the room has a massive ritual circle painted on it and what's more important, a portal sitting in the middle of it. Unfortunately it wasn't a portal home. It looked like it exited out into a forest. Alex said it looked stable enough. We tied some rope to a chair in the room and tossed it through to make sure it wasn't going to dissipate immediately and that we could return through it. We drew straws and I lost, so I got to go through first. Sure enough, there was a portal on the other side so we could return easy enough. The portal exited out into a forest clearing. The whole clearing was in another ritual circle. Jason says it's an invisibility field, Alex thought it was some kind of repulsion field. What's more important though, was what was in the middle of the clearing. A small airship just sitting there with the Winterfield royal seal painted on the side. This was in fact an escape route. A way to leave the kingdom. One that must of cost a damn fortune to build. We had an emergency team meeting. We still need the consensus of the others but as far as the rest of us are concerned, we're going to graciously accept this gift for the loss of both sets of our horses and saving the city.
Journal Entry 286
We got the others over here and showed them our new prize. It took some convincing to get Avery to agree. She doesn't like the idea of running off with something this expensive, even if the previous owner is dead. So first thing was first. Making sure that it actually works. Well, we ran into our first problem. The magic “key fob” was missing. Everything else seemed to be in working order, but we can't get it to budge without the key. From what we've seen on other airships, the key fobs were usually glowing spheres around the size of a baseball and they sit in a slot in the middle of the wheel. We went back through the portal and scoured the castle looking for it. It wasn't hidden in the throne room, it wasn't in the king's chamber, wasn't in the armory. If it had been in any of those places, it was long since gone. We closed the secret door, snuck out of the castle and looked around town. We checked with merchants, casually asking if they had any magic spheres. Nope. This could be a problem. None of us know how to hotwire an airship.
Journal Entry 287
Our next targets were the heads of the provisional government which is made up of the old military general, several of the advisers and one of the nobles, all of which were fighting against each other during the civil war, but joined forces when the barbarian attack began. We had Jason figure out their schedules, Marcus intercept them when we were ready and I'd mind read them while Marcus kept them distracted. Only one of the advisers knew anything about the airship and I think he may have forgotten about it. No idea what had happened to the key. Last he knew of it, it was in the throne room. I made sure he wouldn't remember the airship and we continued our search. We hunted down personal servants, elite guard, Jason asked around the thieves guild. Nothing and no sign of the royal artificer who may have built the thing either. He's presumed dead in the civil war and his house burned down. Figures.
Journal Entry 288
So come morning, Marcus says he had an idea. The king had an ugly concubine, a curvy half-orc girl with bad case of man face. She would have had access to it and may have been close enough to know of its existence. We managed to track her down to a small residence relatively close to the castle. So Marcus goes up and knocks on the door and she comes out. Sure enough, she's got the damned fob. She drilled a hole in it and was wearing it like big glowing medallion on a necklace. Anyways, we grabbed it and I erased the whole thing from her head. Yeah, we pretty much keep shitting on this poor girl's life. We killed her sugar daddy and now we're running off with her memento of him. I tried throwing in some happiness and dropped in the seed of determination to start anew. Maybe one day, and with a mask or cloth sack, she can attract a new man into her life. Anyways, while we were preparing, I stopped by Amanda's grave to say goodbye. I could have sworn she answered back.
>Wait what? We need to look into this!
Journal Entry 289
So someone read my journal last night. We were supposed to be flying out of here but Avery seems to think that I'm making mental contact with Amanda's ghost, which means she didn't pass properly. Avery ran off to borrow some books from one of the local churches while I sat around the graveyard trying to make contact. I definitely felt something out here. So Avery returns with her books and we pore over them trying to figure out what can be done. We found a ritual that would let her manifest. Avery's jittery about the whole thing, dealing with the undead like this, but it's something she has to do. Mike says it looks similar enough to one of his infernal rituals that he can help and does so. So we perform the ritual. At first there was something like a white smoke drifting around and then it became more defined. It took on her form. It was Amanda, white and translucent. She's been here the whole time. Luckily she hasn't gone insane. She couldn't talk, but I could feel from her. So we told her of our adventures, Alex going to Aeyllin, Avery joining us in the Orc campaign, our rescue of Austin, Max and Ian, Marcus and his wife and son and our campaign against the barbarians. She was glad that we were all safe and making a life for ourselves. Then, it felt like a burden was lifted from her and she faded away. She waved goodbye. Avery seems to think that she was worried about us and that was keeping her bound here. I hope she's getting the rest she deserves now in whatever afterlife she ended up in.
Journal Entry 290
We have gathered supplies and subtly moved all our stuff to the castle and then to the hidden airfield. It took a good two hours to scrape off the damn Winterfield royal seal. We loaded up and then stalled when we realized none of us are qualified to fly this thing. We've seen airships piloted but actually piloting them is a different matter. The controls looked simple. A ship's wheel, an inset orb next to it that we think controls altitude by rolling it and a lever that we think controls speed. We sat down on deck and had a discussion of who was the most qualified of us to pilot it. After an hour of getting nowhere with that, Mike had an idea. What ever happened to that captain we arrived with on our first trip here? Is she even in town anymore and can she pilot airships? So Jason and I returned to the city and scoured for her. Sure enough, we found her working as a tavern wench, saving for enough to start up her own land bound trade route with Brightly. She did in fact know how to pilot airships and was more than willing to be hired onto our crew as long as we paid her more than what she was making at the inn. So we got a new member on the team, Airship Pilot Marika Hajna. We got all loaded up again, detached from the air dock and lifted off. It was amazing. Then we realized we had no idea where we were. I figured we were in the woods between Winterfield and Brightly but Alex pointed out that the trees were wrong. We could be north or west of the kingdom borders. We flew in wide circles for hours until we spotted the coast. So we had to have been west of Winterfield. We started heading east and by nightfall, were passing over the city. So we wasted a day. We came in and landed at the airship port and hoped no one would recognize the ship. We registered at the dock for the night. There was no fee. Come morning, we'll begin our trip to Aeyllin. Maybe we'll take some passengers and make some extra money.
Journal Entry 291
Come morning, we took on a handful of passengers and their cargo and took off. It was cramped, even on deck, but we were fine. I calculated the direction to go and we took off. Jason is getting tutored by our pilot on how to fly. He's definitely taken with her and I can see why. So a few hours into our flight, we all gathered and tried to decide what to name the ship. No one could agree on anything and it got quite heated. We limited names to two words or less. Avery wanted to name it the Enterprise, Jason wanted to name it the Golden Hind, Mike wanted the Beagle, Marcus chose Zero Gravitas, Alex wanted the Argo and I chose Serenity. While we work out that problem, I figure we should arrive in Aeyllin some time tomorrow unless we suddenly suffer a midair explosion or crash into the inconceivable. Our passengers think we're all insane from the friendly bickering but they're holding up well. I'm thinking that maybe we can rent out our ship under our pilot when we're not using it and rake in the money. We'll have to be careful to not piss off the merchant guild too much but I figure maybe we can open up a temporary Aeyllin to Brightly route. I'll talk to our pilot later about this, she's more experienced in these matters.
Journal Entry 292
We made it to Aeyllin today. Kind of. Everything was going fine and we were around ten feet above the air dock when whatever keeps us in the air suddenly cut out. No one was seriously injured but the hull is damaged. Luckily we know some artificers. Speaking of that, we headed to the university first thing and paid our three students a visit. Austin is doing well and was apparently working on a magic steam engine with the master artificer when we arrived. Ian's started training in some spell casting combined with his swordsmanship, something like an arcane fighter or duskblade maybe? Max. Max has caused some problems. His class went out to some field to practice and he tossed out a spell he had learned on his own that he apparently shouldn't have been able to cast and immediately lost control of it. People were injured, but luckily no one was killed. It hasn't slowed him down any, but he's being a lot more cautious about it. We all gathered up in the local tavern and told them of the war, the devil army and our victories and our new slightly broken toy. Austin got all excited about the airship and who knows what he's going to do with it, but he's got permission to repair it. Raina showed up with the baby and joined our little celebration and made some overt threats that we'd have been dinner if Marcus had bit it out there. I'm starting to like her less and less.
Journal Entry 293
Since we can't hang out at Raina's place, we're all set up at the inn. If this city is going to be our home base, we'd best get a home here. The inns are nice, but it's still an inn. Anyways, paid a visit to the University to see about some side project, namely what to do about the Rheingraf spymaster. They think they can bind him to a location, an anchor, and produced an enchanted pin. Put it on him and if it works like they think it does, he should be stuck. I'm going to give it to Jason, he seems to know when he's going to show up before he does, or at least has lightspeed reflexes. Maybe spymaster related precog or more likely, that ruby eye is letting him see something. In other news, Austin has checked out the airship wreck, did some research and presented me with a design. He wants to build what looks like a tilt-rotor wings on it. Sure, it looked neat, but that's not how airships work here, it won't fit in the air docks with wings like that. He's gone back to the drawing board. He at least understands how flimsy these things are in the air though and was planning redundancies out the ass. In the meantime, the hull is being repaired at cost and should be back up in the air within the week. Jason has been keeping our pilot busy, showing her the more secluded parts of town. Avery on the other hand is talking about laying her own personal siege on the sun church. After what happened last time, I don't know if that's such a good idea but I got her back either way.
Journal Entry 294
So between designing our airship changes, Austin finished his magic steam engine. Jason and I went over and we discussed what to do with it. It's a small prototype, simple expansion engine. Our first idea was a car. Unfortunately we can't produce tires. As near as we can figure, worldwide rubber production is nil. Rubber trees may not even exist here. We could put it in an airship, but that won't make it any safer than the current ones. That leaves trains. Why would anyone use trains over airships? They can haul much more cargo. That may be the problem though. It can potentially haul more than any city can currently export. The world might not be ready for this. Austin is going to put it on the back burner for now, but will produce a small scale train for demonstration purposes once he's done with the airship. Maybe something to the main farmsteads and back or maybe around town as public transportation for those who can't afford the expensive bicycles. In other news, the last of my bic pens died. I am officially using one of the local ballpoints that have made their way here. It's not as smooth but it works well enough. I donated my empties to the master artificer. Since there's no such thing as patent offices here, he could start producing his own brand and we can make a fortune off them and fuck the merchant guild.
Journal Entry 295
Avery decided it was time, grabbed her gear, grabbed most of us and charged for the sun church. She said she had a vision. She was very clear, no casualties. Well, they were not happy to see us, that's for sure. We walk in, look over the place. In a room full of paladins, clerics and priests, Avery walks right up into the pulpit, tosses out the head priest, knocks over the podium, lights up like a holy beacon and declares that it's time for a change. That girl has some fucking balls. They aren't having any of this and try firing off their holy lasers and smites. It's not happening. They're all shocked. Avery starts laying down the laws as written and how it's time to start following them again, to do as they preach. Anyone that tried getting close gets burned. Even us. They were forced to listen or leave. About a quarter of them left with their iconography burned off and from what I picked up, they were going to the peace and love church to enlist. The rest were inspired, entranced by what she was doing. She went on for 4 hours. She's still going on! I don't know how to handle this. Yesterday she was just Avery, a close friend, a sister, who keeps reading my journal behind my back and who I have playful fights with when we're bored. Now suddenly it's like she's becoming some kind of divine figure. How does anyone deal with this?
Journal Entry 296
Avery is still at the church doing her thing. It's really not my thing so I slummed around town for a bit and then oversaw the airship repairs. It looks about done. Austin's been adding auxiliary/emergency engines to keep it up in the air should the mains fail. So why do the mains fail? Well sometimes it just does apparently. It's a thing with artificing enchantments. There's a tiny percent chance that it's just going to fuck up at some point and it increases with wear and tear. The auxiliaries are there to keep us up until the mains can be repaired, which any artificer can do in under an hour in normal circumstances apparently, or limp to the nearest port. So aside from that, he wants to add pontoons for water landings and is still going on about adding wings. As long as they fit on the air dock, I don't mind I guess.
Journal Entry 297
Avery is at the church still. She's got her hands full. I decided to keep myself busy and paid a visit to the University, visited the psion instructor first. We had a good mindrape session and he recommended that I start meditating and expanding my mind but without drugs, and see where I end up. He demonstrated some techniques. I guess. Afterwards I paid a visit to the master artificer to see if he could do anything with our broken electronics. He didn't have a clue how they worked but said he had some ideas. He took the mp3 player and kindle to his work counter and grabbed some tools and threw around some spells while poking them. Maybe if I knew anything about artificing, I'd have an idea of what he was doing. He said it would take a day or more, so I left him to his work. After that, I visited the summoners and had a talk as to why the devils have been treating us the way they have. It kind of baffled the summoners and they summoned up a..one of them said it was a brachina? He had me stand behind a wall. The devil showed up and starts doing it's wheeling and dealing and then I step out from behind the wall. It shuts right up and won't say a thing. I get up as close as I can to the summoning circle without crossing the line and it doesn't move, just watching me. The summoners start asking questions, trying to make deals. Nothing. Apparently when the warlock instructor tried doing this a year ago with us, it was thought of as a fluke. They continued bombarding it with questions until it finally said something. It asked, not demanded, to be sent back. They suggested we try summoning a demon tomorrow and see if we can get anything out of that.
Journal Entry 298
Had lunch with Avery today. She looks tired and she's a little afraid of what she's doing. What she's becoming. And there's still so much to do. All of this work is only going to effect this particular branch. She did check the church archives for anything pertaining to cannons and found something of interest. It's a 300 year old entry about reassigning new clerics in training to maintain the city cannon. We haven't seen any sign of any cannon in the city. The only place it would make sense to have one would be on the outer wall. Jason and Marcus are going to go check it out while I pay a visit to the University. First thing was first, the artificer. He managed to fix the Kindle. It looks like new but has a metallic sheen to it. How the hell? The mp3 player on the other hand, somehow it went wrong and it's become a small 6 inch tall golem of some sort that's escaped and was last heard blasting Madonna down the halls before it escaped into the city. That one broke my brain for a while. And what was Mike doing with Madonna on his mp3 player? I managed to make it to summoning on schedule however. They had me get behind a wall and then summoned up a succubus. It turned on the charm right away. They had me come out and she started laughing and turned up the charm even more. I asked her what she knew of Terrans and why the devils seize up when we're around. So she told a tale, some of it real, some of it not. The real parts.. Well apparently 1500 years ago, demons and devils could come and go as they pleased. One of the first groups of Terrans arrived and to make a long story short, one of them was a lawyer of some kind and put the devils and demons into some kind of binding arbitration, effectively banning them from warring against each other on this plane and keeping them from being able to manifest on their own here. She also seemed to suggest that he went on to become a top ranking devil lord. From that point on, the devils were ordered never to make a deal with a Terran under any circumstance. Demons have no such order and have made attempts at collecting Terran travelers for their own uses against devils with little success. Well, that answers some questions I guess.
Journal Entry 299
The airship's hull is fixed! Aside from the auxiliary engines, Austin's changes have yet to be implemented. While he prepares that, I set up a trade run for our pilot to Brightly and back. Marcus, Austin and Alex are heading out with her. It should be a 24 hour run. Austin is hard at work getting his upgrades ready between his class. The other two, Ian and Max, are on their first adventurer trip out to one of the local dungeons with some more experienced adventurers. Best of luck to them, hopefully Max won't accidentally nuke the region. After the airship left, I had a surprise visit from Raina, baby and everything. She wants to know why Marcus isn't getting a larger cut of the profit since he has a family to feed. She's trying to emotionally blackmail me. Fuck that noise, even cuts for all. I made it very clear that I wasn't changing the group policy. What is she even going on about, she's a dragon, doesn't she have a mountain of gold somewhere? Or is she living in Aeyllin because she's the equivalent of a dragon hobo? Hell, she originally wanted Marcus to run off and be a farmer. I don't get her at all. Anyways, I'm starting to worry about Avery. I'm seeing less and less of her lately because of her work at the church. Do you even read my journal anymore Avery?
Journal Entry 300
A troupe of worn out, dirty adventurers arrived in town, Mike's warlock girlfriend among them. He's off seeing to her. Maybe he can tell her about the mp3 golem running around the market district blasting “Like a Virgin” and terrorizing the locals. Anyways, the airship arrived today carrying wood products from Brightly and more importantly, profits. The wealth was distributed and another run is going to be lined up in a few days. Anyways, Jason has finished scouring the city and found what he thinks was a cannon mount and one cannon ball. So at some point, this city had a cannon. We checked the city records in the peace and love church and with a translator, found out that around the time the last Terrans were here, a cannon was made to defend it from an expected attack from a big war that was consuming the continent at the time. It was never used as Aeyllin was too isolated to get involved. It was maintained for awhile, then it was melted down around 200 years ago for it's metal content because no one knew what it was anymore. It was listed as a statue. What else has been lost? I see we're going to have to look into the dissemination of knowledge now as well. I'm going to have that Earth book duplicated and drop a copy to every cities archives that our airship visits. We also need to invent the printing press. I'm going to drop that one on the artificer tomorrow. That still leaves the issue, that somewhere, one of the churches or at least a few members, know things that they shouldn't and they're keeping it for themselves. We'll just see about that.
Journal Entry 301
I paid a visit to the master artificer with Jason and we told him all about the printing press. His eyes lit up and not with magic. The possibility of not having to use messy copy pens or having to wait a day with a dupe box? He loved that idea. Of course he's having the all time consuming problem of too much to do and not enough time. He's thinking about turning his artificing class into a workshop to start churning out all these wonders we keep giving him or at least start a second after-class group to do this. In other news, Austin finished the wings and attached them to the airship. Delta style wings. We grabbed our pilot, Jason, Alex and Ian and went up to try it out. We can bank now. The good thing is that we now have superb maneuverability. The downside is that it's easy to lose our footing and go falling over the side. Austin is going to work on that along with reinforcing them since they started vibrating when we got up to speed. So far so good though. Afterwards, we had lunch with Avery. She's looking better, more rested. We all had a long talk about what's going on. She's setting up some of her strong believers up to take over the church so she can move on to other things, like dealing with other church branches. She still wants to travel with us, so that's good. We discussed what we're going to do next but nothing came to mind other than visiting other cities. It was a good lunch, even if that god damn mp3 golem was somewhere nearby playing “Don't cry for me Argentina” the whole time.
Journal Entry 302
So I've been trying this meditation thing the psion instructor suggested I do over the last few days and I may have hit paydirt. I'm sitting there and suddenly I'm floating through town, almost dream like, people are reacting to me in shock and surprise and then I realize that I'm not in my body and instantly snapped back. What the fuck was that? I thought I had dozed off but there was word on the street of a ghost or wraith running around when I went out. I paid a visit to the psion instructor and he said that I apparently can detach. What the fuck? So what happens if I can't snap back? I'm a bit worried about this. Speaking of new tricks, Austin is adding a tail to the rear and canards to the front of the airship. I hope he realizes he's going to confuse the hell out of the pilot with all the new controls. Speaking of which, we finally managed to break the name tie for the airship. Jason wins, we're calling it the Golden Hind. We're having it painted in English on the side, and then in common in smaller lettering. As for the color to paint it, we're going primarily with red. Because red makes everything faster.
Journal Entry 303
So I'm sitting down to start my meditation session when Jason walks in and starts talking about trade routes between Aeyllin, Brightly and Winterfield. I'm wondering why the hell he chose now to decide to talk about this when suddenly the Rheingraf spymaster appears, knives and all. Without thinking I unleash a mind bolt at him which of course does nothing. Jason's already got him disarmed and the anchor pin on him. How the hell does he move so fast? The spymaster seems displeased. We tie him up, get the others and drag him to the University to find out what the hell is going on. The researchers manage to render him unconscious with some magic and start poking and prodding. Well he's not an infernal but he shares similar properties. It baffled them for awhile until the master artificer started his analysis. He's got subdermal enchantments. Everywhere. Like someone tore him apart and re-enchanted every piece as they put him back together while adding in metal reinforcements. How the hell is this even possible? It's a god damn magical trans-huma..trans-elf. Did the Rheingrafs pay for this procedure or did they hire him like this? Did they buy him? Anyways, as far as we can tell, every time we killed him, he has some kind of fail-safe magic recall and then he regenerates. So how do we stop him? We have to break down every enchantment. The University wants to keep him for study. As long as they keep him caged and away from me, I'm fine with that.
Journal Entry 304
So Austin finished his current round of upgrades and we gave them a test run to make sure they wouldn't just snap off. Sure enough, the pilot's having some trouble adapting but she's doing an admirable job. Austin provided her with boots that keep her firmly locked in place, even if the ship flips over. I'm calling them magic gravity boots for now. So while we're in the airdock, the other trade airship is also in dock, the Celestial Rose, captained by a certain adventurous shifter. He swaggers on over and declares that his ship is faster. Well, that just won't stand. Austin starts bragging. So he challenges us to an air race. To the mountains and back, a 2 hour ride, 2 laps. I'm pretty sure we just kicked off the first air race in the world. Word spreads around town pretty quick and we got spectators. Even the mp3 golem gets into it and is running around town playing speed metal. The Rose dumps it's cargo to lighten up, only the basic crew, namely the artificer and the pilot. Austin's all excited. Some university professors are tagged official judges, bets are made and the countdown begins. One of the judges fires off a lightning spell into the air as the start signal, both airships lift off and they're off. We lose sight of them pretty quickly. Two hours later, the first pass. The Hind is in the lead. Two hours after that, the Hind crosses the finish line with no sight of the Rose. We have a big celebration. The Rose's captain is pissed. Well, an hour later, the Rose still hasn't shown up. We load up on the Hind and head out on a search and rescue mission. Sure enough, we find the wreck of the Rose in the foothills. It had an engine failure. We land and check for survivors. The pilot is dead but the artificer's okay if injured. Apparently the mains failed due to stress and they swandived into the side of a hill. The hull is wrecked but there's enough of it left, that the captain thinks it's salvageable. It looks like a mess of mangled wood to me. Austin and the Rose's artificer managed to get the mains back up to make it lighter so we can tow it back to Aeyllin's airdock. It's captain seems to think he has enough money to pay for its repairs, apparently his family is rich from their trade run. Maybe Austin can talk him into getting his auxiliary engines installed. For a price of course.
Journal Entry 305
While the Rose's hull is being repaired, our pilot Marika, Austin, Ian and Jason are doing a trade run to Brightly and back and then they're going to do another run to Ashvale to cover for the Rose while it's down. Some of the Rose's crew is signed on to assist as well. I did more meditation practice and detached again. Tried to stay out of public eye and messed around to see what I could do. Not much. Can't move anything solid, not yet anyways. After a while of wandering around the less traveled areas of the city, I kind of forgot that I wasn't in my body and paid a visit to Avery at the church. Half the attendees saw it as a sign, the others panicked. Whoops. Avery stormed over afterwards and gave me a good talking to about doing that. I told her it was an accident. She thinks I'm running around impersonating a ghost to get my kicks while we're hanging in town. Now I have to go over there and apologize. Why do you do this to me Avery?
Journal Entry 306
It's been a few days. The Hind is back from it's trade runs, we made some nice profit. They also had a message. There's a general call for adventurers and mercenaries to Hebiry to join in the defense against the undead. It sounds like people are starting to get worried about Wolflake. We all gathered up and had a long discussion. We're going to go. It's time we wrapped up this chapter of our lives. The University courses end in a few days. We're going to let our students finish and then we're heading off. We're going to sell tickets to any others who want to go along for the ride. I figure we can make it there in three or four days if we go a direct route instead of the week if we followed the trade path. Of course that means we'll be flying right over Wolflake. We can make some good recon while we're there. Avery is definitely coming with us, she says she'll have the church branch all sorted out by then. In the meantime, we're dumping as much information on the master artificer as we can in case we don't make it back. I can't believe how far we've come. It's almost two years now and we're no longer scared. We've become powerful. We have pushed back. What has this world done to us?
Journal Entry 307
I got a surprise visit from Raina while I was traipsing about unattached. Apparently I can communicate just fine, especially when I'm angry. She doesn't so much mind that we're dragging Marcus off to join the war. No, she wants the airship. She wants us to have the pilot fly it back to Aeyllin once we get there. Why does a dragon want an airship? Well she wants to use it for business. More greed. Seriously? She's decided that because she's Marcus's wife, she and the baby own a percentage of it, and because all three of them combined make up a majority, she should get to decide what to do with it. Well first of all, they never got married. Getting knocked up and churning out a baby is not marriage in my book. Fuck that noise. Oh did she get pissed off. I think she was seconds from changing forms when Marcus showed up and defused the whole situation somehow. What ever happened to the happy go lucky elf girl I remember? Was it all an act? Is she still under control of pregnancy hormones? Is it that time of month for dragon women? Would dragon attacks even effect a psychic ghost?
Journal Entry 308
I'm starting to grab supplies for the trip. We're bringing enough ingredients to make one ton of black powder, but we're not mixing them until we get there. No need to be flying around with the world's largest bomb in our cargo bay. I also picked up some new armor and a new sword for emergencies and of course a new set of clothes. Austin is making some final adjustments to the ship, adding more lights and reinforcing the underside and landing struts. We've already sold out on tickets just from graduating adventurers who want to get in on the action or just want a shortcut to the main trade circuit. I made sure to mention that if anyone had any complaints, that they need to see Raina. She'll handle all of that whether she knows it or not. In other news, Jason has apparently learned to just up and vanish. I can tell he's around, he's just gone invisible. How the hell? Is that something he picked up off the spymaster or just something that the high ranking members of his guild get?
Journal Entry 309
And we're off! The University students graduated last night and we all took our three graduates and got smashed at the tavern. We gave them some new adventuring equipment for the war ahead and then we got smashed again. A grand time was had by all and I'm pretty sure the central district got trashed from all the partying students. Come morning, Avery cleared us of our hangovers, we said goodbye to friends we'd made and we hopped ship. It took a few hours for all our passengers to show up. Mike's girlfriend is among the passengers. Lucky. We didn't overbook luckily and are still below our “predicted” maximum carry weight. It's more of an educated guess at this point. We lucked out, the sky is clear blue, no clouds. We'll be flying over a few mountain ranges. We should make Wolflake in two days and Hebiry in three if all goes to plan, four at most. In other news, the mp3 golem is on board somewhere. I've been hearing techno all day and it won't stop.
Journal Entry 310
Just as we were about to crest a mountain ridge and cross the Wolflake border, our mains went out. Luckily. the auxiliaries kept us up long enough for Austin to fix. Excellent work. Wolflake has changed since we were here last. The green plains are brown, all the settlements we passed were ruined or smoldering. We saw several groups of wandering undead milling about as we passed above. Stupid Orcs, we could have won that campaign. We were so close. We were within sight of the city gates! We gave them what they needed. But no. So here we are again and soon we'll be under the flag of Hebiry. Just as we put an end to the barbarian threat, we'll deal with this mess too, even if I have to mindrape whoever is in command.
Journal Entry 311
We made it to Hebiry today. The city was surrounded by refugee camps from Wolflake and had a large militia force hanging around the city. From the looks of it, the walls are being reinforced and we had spotted several new guard posts along the trade road, so they are preparing. Well, people were surprised when a new airship landed at the city air dock and wasn't carrying trade cargo. We unloaded our passengers and went around to check out the city. It looks like the tribal Orcs finally retreated here, there are a lot of them around, some of which I recognize including one of Marcus's girlfriends. Whoops. Anyways, we all visited a tavern and had a nice cooked meal before looking around for whoever was in charge. Turns out they were looking for us to find out why a non-merchant airship had shown up and landed in their only dock. We introduced ourselves and got signed on for the campaign. The pay is good and the city is in much better condition than Winterfield was, no siege and open trade lanes with Aeinfield and Rosenbridge by road and river and Ashvale by airship. I still get the feeling in the back of my mind that we're going to get stiffed like in Winterfield, but we made out pretty well afterwards considering.
Journal Entry 312
We've been moved in with the mercenary corps. A big series of tents on the south side of the city. There's about five thousand or so here I believe, most of them Wolflake refugees. Quite a lot of Orcs, goblins, wild elves and some shifters mixed with random adventurers and sellswords. No standardized gear for us. We have to supply everything but tents, beds and meals. I have noticed that even the guard are now using primitive stirrups on their horses. Looks like someone was quick to recognize their usefulness and copied them. I hung around with Ian and Jason and watched the militia training with them, using cavalry charges with long spears and horse back archers. I hope they realize that the arrows aren't going to stop the undead unless they're going to have them all blessed. Speaking of that, Avery ran off to the local sunchurch branch and has been doing her thing. From what I've felt, they're not as bad as the Aeyllin or Wolflake branch were apparently, but needed work according to her thoughts. I don't know why she feels the need to do this though. Last I heard, the gods of this place don't really care what you do in their name. Maybe she's hoping to change that, or maybe she already has.
Journal Entry 313
Still no orders. So I took the day off and decided to look into the history of this town to see if it held any clues. We already know one Terran did settle down here eventually. I can see why, it's a nice place. Well, after some questioning some officials, the older records were stored in the knowledge god's church, in its library. I went with Marcus, Alex and Jason and with some skill, talked our way in. Their library was a bit underwhelming. Mostly city documents, old legal proceedings and census data, some history. We donated a copy of our Earth book and spent the rest of the day researching what was here. From what we gathered, 400 years ago, there were several big wars going on. Humans seized control of Wolflake from the Orcs and Dwarves, A kingdom that used to border Winterfield was destroyed, sending it's refugees to Aeyllin. The trade routes apparently didn't exist back then, kingdoms were forced to be self sufficient, wars were happening all over. Then something changed. It started with sudden organization of religious cults into churches and the deployment of several “super weapons” by them. Aeyllin wasn't the only city to have a cannon, Hebiry had one as well. According to the documents, it was later stolen and never seen again a century later. No one knew how to build another one or even make the powder to make it work anyways so no one bothered investigating. It looks like the last group did deploy weapons, they just kept the knowledge of how to reproduce them to themselves unlike what we've been doing. Maybe it's time.
Journal Entry 314
We finally got our marching orders. The mercenary corps leading the way for the militia in a long hard march down the trade road and into Wolflake. It took two days before we exited the valley. Since we have to move with the corps, we had our pilot fly the Hind to meet us at the forts we stayed the night at. We're using the ship as a scout right now, performing wide concentric circles and keeping an eye out for undead. Only a few small groups have been encountered, often wandering aimlessly until they spotted us. We've been cremating the bodies after we manage to make them stop moving. The militia has a large portable crematory just for the occasion. I think it's a little elaborate but as long as I'm not the one pulling it. In other news, the mp3 golem is following us. It's been playing Highway to Hell the entire time. The troops were spooked for awhile but then took it as a divine sign of assured victory.
Journal Entry 315
I got a good look at our forces today. According to the General, we have around twenty thousand troops including the mercenary corps and twice that in support. We have troops borrowed from Rosenbridge, Wildlake, Aeinfield and Czebron as well as all the refugee tribes of Wolflake. I've never seen anything like it, not this big. Anyways, ran into the old Orc High commander and we talked. I told him of our time in Winterfield and he told me what happened after they left. The undead kept out of the tribal territory for a month or so, then suddenly swarmed in over night. Tribes on the borders were wiped out. By the time they got their army back together, it wasn't big enough to deal with the problem. Their explosives alchemist died trying to build a massive bomb to slow down the coming tide. Eventually they were forced to leave the kingdom and moved into Hebiry which took them in as long as they followed the laws and earned their food. When the call for mercenaries was sent, the remnants of the tribal army joined in to continue the fight. Unfortunately, they still don't see that we should have pushed the attack when we had a chance last year. Maybe I'm just bitter about it.
Journal Entry 316
My airship has spotted a large undead force about a day away. Of course they'll be marching through the night so we're moving to a spot where we should be able to meet them come morning. The General wants to use a modified phalanx, with the front lines armed with chopping weapons while the back line tries to keep the undead pinned with spears. He's also throwing spellslingers into what amounts to small testudo formations. The rest of us that aren't cavalry are being thrown in skirmishing groups under their own control. I'm putting Alex, Mike and Max into the airship and they're going to strafe overhead with their area spells when they can. Once the battle gets too messy, they're going to come down and start laying down their smaller spells and defenses. We have whole teams of clerics, paladins and battle priests who will be lending their assistance in any way possible. Avery is off with them, leading her own team. I wish her the best of luck.
Journal Entry 317
We got fucked. I should have seen it coming. So the undead arrive at first light. We're all ready for them too. The undead army had at least doubled in size since night fell. It looked like they were matching our numbers. It started well. The undead army looked to be mostly zombies in old beat up Wolflake militia armor. Jason said he saw a few living in the very back, probably the necromancers controlling the force. Our spell slingers opened with their volley. The Hind did an overhead strafe, raining down fireballs and burning clouds. The undead charged in, a massive horde wave and crashed against the phalanxes. Skirmishers moved in and out. We were starting to take heavy losses. My abilities were of little use against the undead so I tried hitting the necromancers in the rear while trying to push back the undead with my sword. The pistol wasn't of much use against the undead either. They kept coming, even without their heads. Twenty minutes into the fight, Avery suddenly goes supernova in the middle of the battlefield. I'm not sure what happened but she got pushed, so she pushed back with everything. The entire field ignited, everything dead burst into holy flames while us living were blinded. That's when it went wrong. The entire battlefield fell into a sinkhole. A sinkhole full of skeletons at least ten feet deep. I don't know how it happened. Avery's light vanished amidst the chaos. All I know after that, I was told from the guys in the Hind, I was knocked out. They saw her surrounded by necromancers amidst all the chaos, performing some kind of ritual. Alex and Max went ballistic and managed to blast the shit out of them from above. I came to hours later outside of a cave with the survivors. Apparently the old dwarf mines run all over the place under the Wolflake plains. The skeletons must have dug out the battlefield from under us. Jason managed to keep his footing and went around dragging us out and with the rest of the surviving militia and mercenaries through some mine shafts while the undead finished off anyone who stayed behind. I think I suffered a concussion but a surviving cleric's dealt with it. All of us Terrans seem to be okay except Avery is still out of it. We're not sure what they did with her or if we stopped them in time. The surviving army is withdrawing to south of Wolflake and we're hoping we can avoid the undead while we recover.
Journal Entry 318
Avery is back on her feet. She's feeling okay and nothing seems off except that she can't manifest her divine spells anymore. We've all been trying to comfort her but I can see it from her perspective, kind of. She had something more going on that I just don't have the context to describe and now it's gone. I suggested that she returned to Hebiry for a few days but she won't leave. She wants to be here by our sides, even if she, in her words, has been crippled. Of the great Hebiry army, only half of us remain. I think that it's safe to assume that the rest have been absorbed into the Wolflake forces. The General is gone and we're under control of one of his subordinates. We're working out a plan of attack. I've informed our new commander of the explosives we can make. We still have one ton of ingredients on the Hind. We just need to know how they want it used. I brought in the old Orc High Commander and he told his experience with our blast powder. I told him we could make big bombs or grenades. He wants grenades. We just need containers. He's written up the request and the Hind has flown back to Hebiry with Mike and Jason to get the chemicals mixed and start production while the city starts gathering as much of the ingredients as they can to produce more. In the meantime, we're going to start moving westward and we're going to watch our steps.
Journal Entry 319
Hebiry is under siege. The undead started pouring out of caves in the valley along the Hebiry-Wolflake trade road, often coming up behind the guard outposts that had been set up. If we had pulled a retreat after our first battle, we could have been cut off and finished. The news was delivered this morning from the Hind. Our commander wants to push the fight now, deciding that the undead are distracted with the siege and wants to head straight for the capital and cut off the head of the serpent. We're on the march. We should arrive within sight in two days. I'm sending the Hind to scout out ahead of us, report back and then return to Hebiry. If production is stable, we should get our grenade shipment by tomorrow from the sounds of it. I've been spending more time with Avery. She needs the comfort. So far she's squared her shoulders and has been acting like nothing's wrong, but she's emotionally distraught. Like part of her was cut away. I'll see if I can help hold up that part for her until she can do it on her own again.
Journal Entry 320
While waiting for the Hind to show, I was discussing the it with the commander. He's none too thrilled that he doesn't have direct control over it but won't outright say it. So he's asking me it's carrying capacity and all of that when suddenly the Rheingraf spymaster, having apparently escaped the University, appears and stabs this guy standing next to me three times. Jason's on the Hind, so he can't help. The commanders guards finally realize what's happening and tackle the guy to the ground and gut him. He vanishes. I look down at the guy he stabbed wondering why him when I realize that it's me. I had detached and was watching myself bleed to death on the ground. I didn't feel anything. One of the camp clerics made it in time and manages to heal the wounds and has me moved to one of the recovery tents because I'm not waking up. I realize that no one could see me and that realization suddenly made me visible. Everyone panics, thinks a ghost is attacking. Marcus realizes what's happening and manages to calm everyone down. A few minutes later, after some effort, I reattach and wake up in my body feeling weak and sore. What the fuck? Anyways, we got our grenades from the Hind and we did a demonstration of how to use them and how dangerous they were.
Journal Entry 321
We're a day away from the capital. I ordered the Hind to do a flyby of the city and report back. Well, they never managed to get over the city. They brought back photos. There's some thing standing in the middle of the city. We estimate that it's at least 150 feet tall and human shaped. It's partially transparent. It has gray skin and in every single photo, no matter the angle, its face was blurred out like a digital effect was used. They said it was standing stock still. We're going to hold position for 24 hours or until we can figure out what we're up against, whichever comes first. I've never seen anything like it and neither has anyone else in the camp. Anyways, I've taken to meditating again during our nights. Avery's joined with me, trying to make contact with her divine magic. She keeps saying that she can almost feel it, that it's just out of reach. In other news, even with all that's gone on, Mike and his like talented girlfriend have gotten ever closer together and Mike's starting to think of popping the question. It's on his mind constantly. Mike, if you read my journal anytime soon, she's going to say yes.
Journal Entry 322
It's all about to start. Whatever that thing is, we're going to take it down. We can see it towering over the city walls in the distance. Its face is blurred out. When I stare at it for too long, it's like I can hear an all consuming emptiness in my head that's threatening to pull me in. The clerics and paladins have gotten together and held a discussion and some prayers and think that it's a “divine shell.” Something that the god of undeath can be summoned into so he can manifest upon the world, something that deities apparently can't do here on their own. Direct intervention. No avatars, no mortals to work through, totally hands on. The commander realizes how dangerous this is and we're the only force out here. We're going forward with the attack and we are going to go to the bitter end. We begin the siege within the hour. Soon as we begin, I'm going to have the Hind, loaded with spell slingers, go over the wall and burn down the noble's district with everything they got, and then start attacking the shell while the ground forces try and penetrate the main gate. Then we put an end to this nonsense. While I write this, the mp3 golem is running around the camp playing “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” It's not helping my mood.
Journal Entry 323
The attack began. We moved in for the city gate, guarded by at least a few thousand undead. Our archers, now grenadiers, started the attack with a bombardment of the new grenades which tore them apart. The paladins led the charge and we moved in to destroy them. While this was happening, the Hind began its attack on the Noble's district. We loaded its deck with as many casters as it could hold. I wish I could have seen it in action, I can only imagine. I was, instead, on the ground battling the undead. We managed to put the defensive force down and started tearing at the main city gates until we broke through. The city beyond wasn't so much a city anymore. Everything was in ruin and of course, there were more undead to deal with. They came at us tirelessly for hours, trying to push us out while we pushed back and repositioned. Avery was holding up well. Even with no divine power, she was tearing the enemy apart with her mace, shattering bones and skulls as they came at her. Then it started. Two hours in, Avery suddenly recoiled back. By the time I got to her, she had recovered. She told me that she had done it and just like that, her holy aura lit up again except it was blue instead of the old sunny yellow. Four exhausting hours later, the undead stopped their push and started pulling back for the castle. We all took some time to regain our breath. The Hind had completed its mission, the Noble's district was a burning ruin. Not a single building was left standing aside from the castle, which seemed impervious to the spells being thrown at it. The Hind then tried attacking the giant figure, but spells were passing through it. With our way clear, our clerics and paladins tried tossing their holy spells at it but nothing was happening. It's like it's not here yet. We're taking a short break and then we're going to go sack the castle. Maybe putting down the necromancers will make that thing go away. Avery is in good spirits again with her divine power renewed. No one suffered an injury that couldn't be healed by the clerics. Broken bones, cuts and bruises but no dismemberment thank god.
Journal Entry 324
We entered the Noble's district. Any surviving nobles or staff seen trying to escape the district were captured, interrogated and executed. I found out why this happened. The king was a lich. Over time he converted the other noble families into various other undead loyal to him. He had subverted higher up members of the local churches and guilds as well. When the Orc forces started winning the battles, the king started losing it and started all of this just to keep his seat of power. To keep his crown, he turned the kingdom into the land of the undead, had all his subjects killed and made into a form more loyal to him. By the time we got to the castle, the undead had formed a defensive wall. We began our attack on the castle. The Hind did an opening strafing run on the wall of undead blocking the entrance with what spells the casters could put out followed by a grenade bombardment. Then we went in. Avery unexpectedly led the charge, inspiring the paladins and clerics right behind her. She did her supernova trick, though rather than burn, the undead were physically pushed back while the living, well we felt like nothing could stop us, an emotional reinforcement of some kind. It helped. We tore apart the undead and pressed into the castle and began clearing it floor by floor. The first floor only had a few wandering undead. The force started splitting up to cover as much of the castle as possible. Us Terrans stuck together of course. After the first floor, we started running into the necromancers. Something I can affect. Any that we came across was dead before they could toss their first spell. I learned of their magic traps from their mind and Jason disabled them somehow. We eventually made it to the throne room and met up with the other soldiers. The doors all had some magic forcefield over them. With most of our casters on the Hind, dispelling them wasn't an option, so we improvised. We called up the grenadiers and rigged up a bomb. It wasn't enough to outright destroy the wall, but it shattered the stone enough that we could break through with the brute force of some of the stronger soldiers with us. Then we flooded into the throne room. It was probably a bad idea. The king/lich was in some ceremony circle surrounded by unmoving necromancers, or maybe they were undeath clerics? Whatever. He didn't say a thing. No monologue, no death threats. He just unleashed his greatest spells and just tore us apart as fast as we could come in. All of us except the clerics and paladins. They were fighting back with their divine spells, burning him, but they were falling one at a time. I couldn't touch the mind of the lich, but I could tear through the necromancers around him. They weren't even all there anymore, puppets, but they did have memories. I found where his phylactery was. His crown. The idiot was wearing it. I told Avery but she couldn't move to act on it. And the rest of us were dead and dying. Then just like that, the mp3 golem wandered in and started blasting “Love Shack.” It distracted the Lich enough for Avery to lash out and shatter his crown with her mace. The rest of the surviving clerics and paladins pounced for the kill but were blown back when he lit up like an evil beacon, killing his circle of necromancers. I think he had a hold of the undeath gods attention. The only thing keeping us from burning alive was Avery's own holy aura. They were tossing their spells at each other. Then Avery looked back at me and said goodbye, that it was time. The lich shrieked and vanished except for his shadow burned in the wall. Then Avery simply vanished along with the entire roof of the castle. Our wounds were gone, the dying were alive and well again. She's gone.
Journal Entry 325
It's been a few days since the battle of Wolflake. We're still occupying the city and have been collecting the corpses and cremating them, looting any houses for surviving food or gear that the army can use. In a day or so, we're going to march back and deal with the siege on Hebiry which is still going on. As for the godshell, it's still here, but it has since turned to stone, possibly marble. We're going to attempt to pull it over using the Hind and some chains. It should be spectacular, and hopefully not in the airship exploding spectacular. As for Avery, I've been avoiding the issue. I don't know what happened but I touched her mind as she vanished. I can't explain what I saw there but she was happy. I don't know if I'll ever see her again but I miss her.
>Don't worry, we'll meet again one day, when it's time. I'll even save you a seat.
Journal Entry 326
We're on the march back for Hebiry along the trade road. We should be there in three days. If the undead are still attacking, there must be some necromancers involved still. With the Hind, we have regular contact with the city at least and a steady stream of supplies. I don't know what's going to happen with Wolflake. There are still mindless undead wandering around here and there, and the whole area has this creepy vibe to it. I “overheard” some of the clerics talking and they're pretty sure that if the area is left as is, it's going to just turn into a giant undead swamp. Maybe when the tribals return, they can clean it up. Knowing the region's past though? Everyone is probably going to swarm in and more wars will follow. The whole place is fucking cursed. Everyone wants it and there's nothing here worth holding on to. It's not even in a tactically viable location, and with the advent of cargo airships, land routes aren't as important. Well, whatever. It's land, I guess that's good enough. In other news, Marcus is working on an epic ballad about the battle of Wolflake. If anything is going to make his name famous, it's that. I hope he doesn't botch it.
Journal Entry 327
We've set up camp in one of the guard outposts along the trade route for the night. With any luck, we should end this war tomorrow when we put down the remnants of the undead army sieging Hebiry. We've run out of grenades but more are being made in the city. The Hind should deliver a new batch in the morning before we leave. They work very well at blowing apart the undead, especially the ones that have been blessed. Mike's girlfriend has been trying to fill the gap that Avery left behind. It's not going to work out. Sure, she's a nice girl and she tries, but she's no Terran, she doesn't understand most of what we're talking about. Also what she does is the opposite of what Avery did. At least she makes Mike happy.
Journal Entry 328
We made a hard march and came to the rear flank of the remaining undead force. We had the Hind do a low aerial spellcaster bombardment followed by grenades from both our forces and those on the Hebiry wall. We then marched in to clean up the rest of the enemy. The fight was messy. Most of the undead and their unliving siege engines were shattered or in pieces and we had to deal with loose limbs and torsos flopping around the battlefield. We managed to put them down after a few hours work. We couldn't find the controlling necromancers right away but managed to track them to a cave after nightfall, their campfire illumination gave them away. They surrendered rather than put up a fight. They are currently being hanged by order of command. After all of this, I can't blame them. I picked at their minds for anything of interest. They were people who found no comfort among the living, either by choice or environment. The problem is that they went too far and never realized it. Now they're paying the price. Us Terrans could very well overstep the line in the same way in our arrogance. I'll have to be careful.
Journal Entry 329
The celebration has turned into a full blown festival. Wine, music, food, plays and dancing. Marcus is doing his stage performance. He finished his war ballad and it's been pretty popular so far. Mike and his girl ran off on their own, possibly to summon demons. Austin, Max and Jason got lucky. We all were having a relatively good time. Well, they were. I was having a hard time getting into it, what with another of our numbers gone; even if Avery wasn't killed, she's no longer with us. Rather than sit and mope, I dropped the barriers and let the celebration consume me. Most of it is a blur and I still have this hangover, but I woke up with most of my clothes missing and another tattoo on my other arm. It's the radiation symbol. What the fuck? To make matters worse, people keep giving me odd looks of recognition. The others won't talk about it but get a bemused expression. There's going to be some mindrape soon if I don't get answers.
Journal Entry 330
Apparently after challenging some dwarves to a drinking contest, I went on stage and told the tale known back home as “Big Trouble in Little China.” The kids loved it. New rule. No more opening the gates at a celebration. Anyways. The refugees have started returning to Wolflake. We're going to hang around town a few more days and if nothing else is going on, return to Aeyllin. We have gotten our mercenary pay and have been discharged from the war. For the moment, the continent is at peace until at least tomorrow when the city is expecting a congress of local kingdoms who will decide the fate of Wolflake. All that remain of that kingdom are peasants and tribals. It'd be nice if they gave the area to the tribals but I doubt that's going to happen. They like men in castles wearing crowns to be in control, not Orcs in furs or wild-elves wearing whatever they woke up laying in. It's a political situation that hasn't occurred in centuries. We may stick around just to see what goes on. In the meantime, the Hind is shuttling passengers back and forth between here, Rosenbridge and Aeinfield and making a nice tidy profit.
Journal Entry 331
Jason comes and grabs me out of bed all excited about something. It's barely sunup and he's pushing me to a window and pointing up into the air above the city. I don't see a damn thing except blinding sunlight. After he manages to calm down and I manage to wake up some, he explains. He sees an airship hovering above town. No one else does. I'm willing to take his word for it. I tried reading out and sure enough, I can detect thought floating above the city, at least 15 people. Some kind of invisibility spell I'm guessing. I didn't detect hostility so I figured it belonged to one of the representatives and they were just checking things out before landing. I put the incident out of my mind and went and had breakfast. A few hours later, it's still there. I ended up grabbing Jason and headed over to the Hind to inform our pilot, Marika, of it so she doesn't have the worlds first midair collision when she takes off for a trading run. Then he showed up. An unassuming sun priest with a staff. He wandered over and started asking questions. Who owned this airship, who made it, who made the modifications and so on. I may have figured the guy as just a curious priest with an interest for airships except that his staff looked suspiciously like a long rifle with a sun church symbol sticking out of the barrel. Jason noticed too from the sudden change of his stance. He had a very guarded mind, enough so that I couldn't have dived in without him noticing and resisting. So I made myself clear. I drew my pistol on him. Most people here wouldn't know what it was. I saw recognition in his eyes. Before I could make my demand of him, to explain himself, he fired off some blinding light. By the time I recovered he was gone and Jason said the airship was starting to pull away, heading north. I'd have had the Hind give chase if we were all here, but we're scattered around town. We're going to resupply and head off after them.
Journal Entry 332
We're loaded with supplies and hauling ass Northward, the general direction Jason saw the other airship go. This might be a wild goose chase since only Jason can see it and we don't have a way to track it. According to the map, if it continued in this direction, it should pass near Eridale. Austin seems to think that airships might leave a magic emission trail behind them and is working below decks into making some kind of magic tracking lens. If we don't see anything by the time we reach Eridale's boarders, we're going to turn around and head back, probably just return to Aeyllin. In other news, winter is coming. This brings about problems such as how to stay warm on an airship, how to heat the below decks without starting an uncontrollable fire and dealing with ice buildup on deck. Speaking of that, I think we're at or near our second year anniversary here. We've come a long way baby.
Journal Entry 333
We made it to Eridale, best known for its Guardocracy and ticketing a horse because of its shoes. We arrived around midnight and landed outside the city limits due to their stupid laws for the night. Austin finished his tracking lens. It's a small circular lens he connected to a frame so it can be worn over an eye. While looking through it, airships leave behind a colored trail based on the specific spells used for their propulsion. The Hind's are green. We don't see any others in the area which means we lost the trail. We're not even going to bother to visit this hellhole, we're just going to take off come morning and head for Aeyllin. It should be a three day ride and if we have any problems, we'll be passing near Wildlake and New Chicago. Jason has become our official backup pilot and flies the nightshift because of his eye. We drew straws and I am next in line to learn how to fly this thing followed by Alex. So my days now begin with me hanging out near our lovely pilot. I hope Jason doesn't get jealous.
Journal Entry 334
Flying an airship isn't that difficult, you know, until you want to turn or anything. I don't suppose it helps that our airship has all these extra controls for the flaps, ailerons and canards that Austin installed. The most difficult part though? Standing in one spot all day. Yeah, that's real fun. I have our pilot looking over my shoulder the whole time, which to be honest, I really need. One wrong move and we crash and burn. Speaking of crashing and burning, our mains went out. Austin got them up while the auxiliaries did their job. That's two times those things have saved our asses so far. After our pilot took over, we broke out my kindle and we all watched Strange Days. It's been a while. Marcus started joking that he had been thinking of how to convert the movie into a play for a while now. We egged him on for a while about doing it but he doesn't want to be a theater writer, just a bard. A bard married to a dragon. A dragon with her hands in his pockets, and only for the money that's in them. At least that's how I see it. I know they love each other and all of that, it's just that she needs to learn her place amongst us. It certainly isn't overlord, that's for damned sure.
Journal Entry 335
We passed over New Chicago today. I snapped some photos from the air as we passed overhead. It looks like the kobolds got two more buildings up and their farms look to be in respectable shape. Good for them. Hopefully they'll pack enough food for the coming winter. Maybe in a decade or two, Aeyllin will have kobold adventurers checking into the University. Anyways, we landed in Aeyllin just before nightfall. Marcus ran off to see his wife while the rest of us checked into the inn. While unpacking the airship, I found Avery's laptop. I decided to go through it. We knew what technical info she already had, and we had been through her music. I found detailed documentation on her condition as a cleric: what it was like to touch the divine, to call forth a spell, the auras and all of that. Almost as if she was trying to logically delineate the divine. I'm sure the University would love to see some of this. Then there were detailed documents of the sun church's organization, what history she managed to pick up, tenets and prayers. I still don't know what happened to her or where she went, but I know she is watching over us from wherever that place is.
Journal Entry 336
I paid a visit to the sun church today. They deserved to know what happened. I told them all, everything. I even showed a few of them that wanted to see. When I left, they were all in prayer. Some of them believe that she's ascended to her own divine throne, others think she's now the right hand of the sun god while a few think she simply died. Maybe they'll get their answers from their god. Anyways, I dropped off some things at the University when Raina showed up. She invented an interest rate based on how long Marcus is away from home combined with how dangerous the adventure is. What does she even need all this money for anyways? She's already living better than the average person in this city, which is already more advanced than most cities out there! They have bikes and sewers for fuck's sake. So my options were clear. Erase my existence from her mind, punch her or we go somewhere nice and have a long talk. The first two options would have been the most satisfying. Oh, so satisfying. Instead, we went and had a nice talk at the cafe with some coffee. There was snarling involved. The dragon perspective is an odd one. They love their wealth and wealth isn't always money or jewels. Once she had figured out what we were, she decided that us Terrans were part of her treasure hoard, and that lately, we weren't working hard enough to make her money pile even bigger. Her naive expectations were that we'd be throwing fist fulls of money at her, joyful to have a dragon in our midst because she's a dragon while she protects us from the world with her dragonness. She didn't take my rebuke well. I'm probably going to get a visit from Marcus in an hour or so about it. Fucking dragons.
Journal Entry 337
We had a cold front come in today. I had to pay a visit to the market to buy some winter clothes to deal with it. Anyways, hung out at the University with Jason and Austin. The master artificer managed to build a miniature steam train that runs a ring around the campus. It looks like those kiddy rides you'd find at a big mall around Christmas except it has a small chance of exploding, sending boiling hot water and steam everywhere. He assures us that it's not likely to happen, but that's what they say about airship engines failing. Now that we have a working prototype, he's trying to sell the idea to the quarry owners and the new department of transportation in the city that was founded recently to deal with all the bikes. Aside from that, he also has two working printing presses with movable type. One is for actual use, the other, he's trying to make work by voice command but is having trouble with grammar and dialects. Short of inventing a magical computer of some kind, he's probably not going to succeed at it. While we were there, Austin got a letter from our favorite shifter airship captain. The Celestial Rose's repairs had been completed while we off fighting a war and Austin has been requested to trick it out for a tidy profit. Maybe after all of that, we can have a racing rematch and we can kick his ass again.
Journal Entry 338
We got our own place finally! It was an old two story inn that closed down recently, which should suit our space requirements. We did a thorough check of the structure, made sure it wasn't about to collapse, made sure it wasn't haunted, made sure it had the resources we need like its own sewer and well access before we bought it. We're in the process of moving in and cleaning it up. Austin is making some magic lighting for the rooms and Jason, Mike and Max are out picking up some furniture. I'm on cleaning duty with the rest. We have finally accepted Mike's warlock girlfriend, Cherri, into our little group and she's helping out. Once we get the place cleaned up, we're going to see if we can't invent indoor plumbing, or at least a magic variant. In other news, the Hind is running cargo between Aeyllin and Brightly again. Raina wanted to start micromanaging our side shipping business but I don't trust her with our money. Sure, she wouldn't outright steal, she'd come up with silly dragon taxes or flying reptile interest rates instead.
Journal Entry 339
So I got up this morning, and I'm feeling really good and happen to be the first one up so I decided to make breakfast for everyone. Oatmeal porridge with cinnamon and blueberry preserves. Jason comes down and just gives me the weirdest look, the shakes his head and takes a bowl. I figure because it's the fact that I'm making food. Typically Alex, Ian or Marcus do the cooking. The others start coming down and they're giving me weird looks too. Then I realize that I left my body upstairs. I had been detached the whole time. Apparently I can pick up stuff now when I'm detached. I'm going to have to keep an eye on this. How could I not notice? Anyways, Marcus talked me into babysitting little Nathan while they run off and have a romantic evening together. What do dragons consider romantic? Swimming in money Uncle Scrooge style? Anyways, the baby's been good. Raina's kept him shape shifted in his half-elf form this whole time. God knows what he really looks like. He's been good, not that he has a choice with me keeping his mind from wanting to make a fuss. Ah yes, Psions make the best babysitters.
Journal Entry 340
Jason comes running into the house and drags me outside by force and points in the sky. The invisible airship is over Aeyllin. The Hind is out of town. We grab Alex, Cherri and Ian and beeline for the sun church. Nope, no strange priests there, so we make for the university. Sure enough, there's that asshole with the long rifle watching the steam train ring around the campus. I didn't even give him a chance. I mindlocked him soon as he was in range. He put up a fight but fuck that noise, I hit him with enough juice that I lit my hair on fire. After putting out the flames, we dragged him inside for a nice little chat without words. Well, he is in fact a priest of the sun church, but from a branch from a mostly isolated foreign city across the desert. It's his job to go around on their invisible airship and keep tabs on technological growth. He's the one that sent the cannon ingredients to Wolflake, he gave Winterfield plans for the mortar and was going to deliver cannon plans to Hebiry, but we ended the war before he could. He does it to keep established civilized cities civilized. After the situation was resolved, he was going to return a few months later and erase that knowledge. He came here to look into sudden technological developments and limit their growth by force if need be. He also knows what we are. Before I could get more out of him, he up and vanished, Spymaster style. Jason ran outside and sure enough, the invisible airship was leaving. Well, soon as the Hind returns, we'll go pay him a visit. I know where he lives now.
Journal Entry 341
The Hind is back in town. We're picking up supplies and we're going to head out to Manden and then the desert. We're making sure to pack plenty of water and we're bringing enough ingredients to make one ton of black powder and several containers to put it in. Raina has demanded to come along this time and she's bringing the baby. She doesn't care how dangerous this could be, she's tired of sitting home while we go gallivanting around the continent. I bet she's just worried that we'll find mountains of gold in the desert and not tell her. Austin is bringing a load of artificing gear, he's planning on working on a ship cloak on the way. See how they like having an invisible airship hovering above their city. So what do we know about this desert city? Very little. It does little trade with the outside world, mainly due to the difficulty getting there. It must be self sufficient to manage this. Getting there, even for us is going to be some trouble. My map doesn't cover that part of the continent, all I know are from memories I ripped out of that priest and that's mostly landmarks and a general direction. We should be alright though. If all else fails, we have Raina to comfort us.
Journal Entry 342
We're in the air. It started snowing soon as we lifted off. I was on first pilot duty. Piloting an airship in the snow sucks. By the time my shift was up and I went below decks, all my facial hair was iced. The deck is getting iced up pretty bad too. If I recall, the way they do it back home is the same way they do it here. Clubs and brooms. We should be in Manden by tomorrow and we can take a break to defrost the ship if it doesn't warm up by then. In the meantime, Jason brought a deck of cards with him he picked up in the market. They're all different from the cards back home, almost more like tarot cards, but we're trying to adapt them into a game of poker. Our first few games ended hilariously and we're not sure who won. Cherri has decided to teach us how to play the game the cards are used for. It's similar to blackjack except the face cards have a value based on the person sitting next to you and you're trying to reach two hundred instead of twenty one. It was a good time sink I guess.
Journal Entry 343
We made Manden and their airship was hogging up their only air dock, so we had to use our landing struts. Well, what a surprise, our landing struts were stuck. A few of us had to rope down out of the ship and unfreeze them so they could lower properly. The good news is that the snow stopped finally, but it's still cold. We're spending the night at the Inn and leaving in the morning. I checked around the market for any deals on dwarven made goods and picked up a new short sword for a pretty good deal. So a few things about those memories I tore out of the priest have been bothering me. Clearly, they're keeping hold on technology and keeping it to themselves but why? They're isolationists. Or is that the reason why, to keep the rest of the world from bothering them? How long has that city been out there, was it from the last group of Terrans or ones before that? While I was in the market, I checked around for anything on the city across the desert. Well, apparently every now and then, someone in the merchant guild gets it in his head that he'll make a fortune starting a trade route out there only to find out that they don't want any of their produced goods and ends up losing most of his fortune. It's become kind of a merchant guild morality story for your reach exceeding your grasp and knowing your customer base.
Journal Entry 344
Clear skies as far as the eye can see. A bit chilly but great airship weather. So we're over the desert and hauling ass when Ian comes up from below, takes a good look and asks where the mountains are. Well, the nearest mountain is Czebron and the dwarven range to the southwest a few days, otherwise, the landscape looks pretty flat aside from the occasional dunes. Ian starts throwing a fit saying that the landscape doesn't make sense, that there should be a lot of mountains around to keep rainclouds out of the area, otherwise the area should be plains or a forest. I'm not entirely sure what he was going on about but it summed up that he thought the area wasn't quite right. I don't know deserts, I used to live near the ocean. In other news, the mp3 golem is apparently on the ship. I haven’t heard from it since the battle of Wolflake but I hear Celine Dion coming from somewhere. That little bitch. Wait, that used to be Mike's player, why did he have Celine Dion? I'm going to have to have a talk with him.
Journal Entry 345
We found an oasis today and made a short stop to replenish our water supplies. I'm not sure how much longer we have to go, but it can't hurt to be prepared. We did find the remains of an old wagon nearby, it looks like its wheels had shattered. Possibly remains of an old trade caravan. It didn't have anything of value. Max and Ian tore it apart and made it into a kind of marker. We all signed our names, the Earth date and the local date on it. Even Raina. She didn't quite get why we had her do it but chances are that she's still going to be alive when this thing's disintegrated. Maybe by then she'll have learned some manners. Speaking of the Earth date, if the last group of Terrans left around the time of the date stamp on the photos they left behind in their SDcard, they would have been portaled off into the past three days ago. I'd wish them the best of luck except well, we already have a general idea of how well they did.
Journal Entry 346
We found the last landmark that I've been looking for. A river. We were following it at a good clip. Typically you'd expect rivers to be surrounded by plantlife but not this one. You'd expect the sand to have consumed it otherwise but Jason says that it looks artificial, it's depth is too even. A few hours later, we spot it. A city in the distance. We engage Austin's “cloaking device” and go up in altitude. Marika takes the controls and we all go see what we can see. It's all enclosed. Aside from Czebron, this must be the largest city on the continent. It's designed like a layer cake, each level smaller than the one below with a massive tower in the center. There was no farm land around it. No plant life around it in fact. The only green was coming from inside the city, trees in open air parks, plants on balconies and so on. This may be an arcology. We counted five airships puttering around above it. These airships weren't designed like flying boats. They were all enclosed except for a small upper balcony. We have done several passes over the city, trying to get a good look at it, so far, we haven’t been detected. Or if we have, they haven’t done anything about it. We did spot something interesting. On the ground level, near the river, there was a large cement pad near one of the entrances with a typical air dock of the style seen in the other cities. Like they were expecting a standard airship to come out here one day. We're going to move back out of visual range and land for the night, head in during the day acting like traders and see what happens. We can pull it off, we even have the ton of ingredients in the hold.
Journal Entry 347
We did our best to hide our tech and went in for a landing at the city air dock. Some people came out to greet us dressed in simple clothes. Three of them were human, the rest elves. Elves that looked like they were the same subrace as the Rheingraf spymaster. They were casually armed with disguised long rifles and what looked like matchlock pistols tucked into their belts. We introduced ourselves as traders from Manden, braving the desert wastes to open a trade route and look at all the alchemy stuff we have. We found out what the name of the city is, New Paris, City of Light. Well, we know who founded it now. I didn't detect anything distrustful of them, though they were considering us peasant scum and weren't too pleased that we arrived in an airship. We told them that this was a merchant guild expedition and that they were waiting for our return, successful or not. They called out one of their merchants, a sun cleric. He looked over our ingredients, shrugged and said we had nothing he wanted. He did take an interest in our airship though, started asking questions about it while we casually prodded him for information. Why was a sun church cleric acting as a merchant? Well apparently the sun church runs things in the city of light; it's considered the holy capital of the church except apparently only a handful of people across the desert even know it exists. We were invited in to see if they had anything we had wanted to buy. He led us to what I'm pretty sure was the city garbage dump. Old pieces of equipment, rusted, junked, old clothes and so on. We picked through it for a few minutes, pretending to be interested but ultimately turned him down. We asked if we could stay in the city for a few days, we had traveled a long way and needed some rest. He considered for a few minutes before agreeing. We made our way into the city. It wasn't as advanced as I had figured. It looked like Aeyllin in maybe 20 years if they embraced everything we threw at them. It's all an eclectic mix of magic, technology and medieval design ideals with some early steam punk mixed in maybe? We're held up for the night in an apartment near the city exit with a bunch of cots our guide had brought in. We have running water, bathroom facilities with sewage access and what he called a food tube. It distributes a mint flavored paste with the consistency of mashed potatoes that the locals apparently eat. It was horrible. It better not be processed dead people. Our guide made it clear that he doesn't want us wandering the city. His reasoning was that we didn't know the laws and didn't want us getting in trouble or hurting ourselves. How nice. Jason's going to sneak out soon and take a good look around.
Journal Entry 348
Well, while Jason was out, a certain sun priest bursts into our room with guards, points at us dramatically and yells “Terrans!” If we had Avery with us, we'd have fought back, but none of us want to deal with the long term effects of musket wounds, plus we have a baby with us. So we have been taken prisoner. We were taken through the city to another area that more or less had the same facilities as the last room, just with bars on the door. They sorted through our gear and ran off with our tech and then the questioning began. They brought in a psion interrogator, an elf. I volunteered first. He didn't expect it. He was trained to go through memories, carefully, like pages of a book while I was trained to mindrape and dominate. He started asking questions while starting his subtle mental penetration. He wanted to know how long we'd been here, what we had been doing, what technologies we had given out and so on. Instead, I grabbed him like a ragdoll and made him tell me everything without saying a word. This city was founded 800 years ago by Terrans and a local tribe of desert elves that worshiped the sun, but not the sungod. They believed that the Terrans came from the sun and worshiped them as well. They used their loyal population to start building this city. From what I gather, they were trying to make this the center of learning and keep it isolated enough to stay out of the wars. We may be looking at the future of Aeyllin here. The locals are descendents of Terrans, the tribals and adventurers that made the journey here. When the last of the Terrans died, the influx of new ideas stopped dead and things stagnated until 400 years ago when some of that batch of Terrans made their way here to found a new sun church and try and bring the city out of its isolation. The locals still worshiped the sun and had no problem converting, but realized that these people were like their founders. Their knowledge was taken from them by force and they were used as breeding stock. Two hundred years ago, another group showed up and were immediately picked up by Parisian spies before they could make an impression on the world and followed the same fate as the others. They're planning on doing the same with us. Around the time the guards were starting to get suspicious, their necks exploded in a shower of blood. Jason had managed to find us and intercepted our stolen goods. I erased the interrogator's mind and we did a jail break. We're currently holed up in some guys apartment. I convinced him that we're relatives. He's incapable of acting against us right now. We're currently working out what we're going to do next.
Journal Entry 349
Jason, Marcus and I went out on recon. We put on some clothes that the apartment owner had, stripped his mind of local customs and we went out. Jason had something he spotted and wanted to take a better look at in the central hub of the city on his earlier tour. We found what appeared to be a museum. A museum of Earth tech behind glass. Most of it was broken or damaged in some way and had been sitting for centuries. Mp3 players, tablets, cellphones, guns with no ammo, other weapons. Simpler things like toothbrushes, bottles and wallets. Everything labeled and dated. Everything stolen from previous groups, technology they couldn't understand but were hoping to one day. I called the guard over and made him unlock some of the cases. We took what we deemed useful or repairable and left the rest. I erased the missing items from the guards mind so he wouldn't suspect, memories of seeing us as we left. We ended up with 2 smartphones of a type that wasn't made yet when we left, one pair of sunglasses, 2 pistols, A Walther p99 which may be able to use the same bullets as mine but needs desperate attention and a HK mk23 with no ammo and good old Mossberg shotgun with no ammo. We'll see if we can't fix that once we get out of this mess. Currently, Austin is trying to fix up the other 9mm pistol while we're having another meal of mint paste from the food tube. We're going to do another recon once the city enters its night cycle.
Journal Entry 350
Jason has the new pistol and it's got a full magazine. We don't know if Austin's maintenance worked. Not that we can test it without drawing a lot of attention. The city guards have taken notice of our shenanigans and have been doing regular patrols, warnings for strange people acting strangely and so on. We're being extra cautious. We took a tour of the lower sections of the city to find any faults, anything we can take advantage of but found nothing obvious. We're figuring that the best way to bring this city down is to sabotage various systems around like the food tube or the sewer system and water supply, but the place is too big to just destroy. We don't even know what their contingency plans are or if they even have any. Unleashing Raina would be an option, but I don't think she'd get far before they managed to put her down. If all else fails, we'll just start assassinating the leadership from the top down and hope they don't have regenerative capabilities like a certain spymaster.
Journal Entry 351
A few of us managed to get into the food processing center of the city where the paste crap is made. Well, it's not dead people but it's not a whole lot better. They're magically converting the sewage waste into ingredients that they then mechanically process and distribute through the food tube system. Sure, it's efficient and “green,” but I don't think I could ever get used to something like this. Whose idea was this anyways? We had brought Austin along with us on this expedition, leaving Marcus behind. There were some guards around the facility but I got them to fight each other using jealousy over a girlfriend that doesn't exist and we finished them off. Austin started tearing apart some equipment he figured would be difficult to replace. We then set everything on fire and quickly left. We had made it to the central hub with about a minute to spare before the guards came rushing in. There must be a silent alarm system somewhere if they responded that quickly.
Journal Entry 352
We had a guard come to the door today. I sent him away believing that nothing was wrong. They're doing door to door searches, level by level. We packed up and moved immediately. If anyone trained in memory examination takes a good look, they might see the changes. I've convinced the resident of this house that he is a freedom fighter and will deal with “the enemy” appropriately. We moved across town, moving as separate groups of no more than three until we scouted out a house and moved in. Another single individual who now thinks he's always lived with all of us and it's perfectly normal and most importantly, he's already been questioned and searched. From our earlier attack, the food tube system has shut down completely. The arcology criers have been announcing that it will be fixed soon and not to panic. They continue to look for us. Once we get settled, we'll continue our expeditions and sabotage.
Journal Entry 353
We made it into the water plant. It's set up at the top of the arcology and uses gravity for water distribution. Simple system. Water is created magically from thin air more or less. The guards up here were all sporting anti-telepathy headbands. I guess they caught on. That didn't stop us from killing them. Jason went in first, snuck up and murdered the shit out of one of the guards. The rest of us launched our attack. They couldn't get their guns up in time before we'd stab them. We kept one alive which I interrogated while Austin tore apart the water system. The city is relatively peaceful and the guards aren't used to dealing with terrorist attacks or adventurers. They're adapting but slowly. They were under the impression that we would all be naive and helpless. Maybe we would have been if we were brought here in the early days. Jason was collecting their weapons when he had a realization. All the guns are muzzle loaders. Sure enough, each guard had his own powder in a small belt pouch. I convinced the guard that he was on our side and that he had to kill anyone else trying to come into this room, even at cost of his life. For the cause. We left him with all muskets.
Journal Entry 354
I grabbed a book from the apartment we've been staying in and went, alone, to the floor above, went into that level's park and found a nice seat with a view. I ordered any passing person to hunt down and attack the nearest guard or government official one floor above this one or sabotage something important. I read the book in between all of this. Every now and then I would hear a gunshot or screaming and panic. I figured this was the easiest way to seed panic. They can't give out anti-psion headbands to everyone after all. I'm sure this has me sliding down that alignment scale again, I can almost feel Avery's disapproving look on my back. After four hours, I wrapped up and headed back to the apartment. While I was causing that distraction, Jason, Austin and Ian headed back into the food processing center and sabotaged their repair attempts and filled a few containers with food for use back at base since our supply was starting to run low.
Journal Entry 355
Our electronics detected a wifi signal. A few minutes later, there was knocking on the door. They found us. Those assholes developed some kind of a “Find wifi enabled devices” spell. There were about thirty of them outside. They demanded our surrender, promised that we wouldn't be hurt, that they wanted us in protective custody for the time being, that they wanted to talk. We didn't have much of a choice, not without undue risk. Jason shut off his ipod and hid with both working pistols while we took the house resident as one of us. We surrendered into their custody. We had our weapons taken from us and were all taken to one of the higher levels, a large atrium with a dinner table set up. We were told to have a seat. The guards stayed but kept their weapons ready. After a few minutes, three people came out in fancy dress. Two elves and one human. They were wearing those psion headbands of course. The elves stayed quiet but the human spoke. He was the son of one of the founding Terrans. He was one of the first born in this city and eventually became its immortal leader. We had a long talk over breakfast. Real food for a change.
His father and mother had been taken away in the Summer of 2017 and thrust into a situation we were all familiar with. There were 6 Terrans total. They had similar experiences, similar adventures and eventually made their way out here to deal with some great evil. The cause of the desert. The death of an evil avatar whose death blighted the region for hundreds of miles, turned it into a desert. They ran into the tribes and settled with them while they recovered and eventually were worshiped as gods. This group's ambition was to make each kingdom self sufficient to end the wars, but no one was listening. Here, they would listen, so they built New Paris. It took centuries to get to this point and it's still being built. From what I gather, this group never stepped down from their power, even after the population became civilized, they got used to the power they had. Understandable. Then they started dying, one at a time, of old age. Lucas declared himself the King, being the only one of the first generation born here that was “pure blooded” and continued building the city in the vision of his parents and their companions. When he got old, he had a ritual performed. He's a Lich of some type. He has some kind of sustaining magic keeping his body alive, or at least alive looking.
So where did it go wrong? He didn't have the knowledge. The city was built from the plans left behind and then no one knew what else to do, so they just lived there and developed an isolationist policy. A few centuries later, another group of Terrans, the church founders, arrived. They were welcomed but when they didn't dump everything, they were taken prisoner and mindraped by psions for everything. Advancement began. New ideas and new directions to take things, but those ran dry fast enough. They had the church infrastructure to take advantage of now, though, and used it to try and nudge the rest of the continent into developing for them, after which they'd jump on it and try and suppress it afterwards so that they would always stay ahead of the game. The rest of the continent is their R&D lab, but their methods are screwing them over in the long term. Then they lucked out and caught the next group of Terrans a few days after they arrived. I already noted how that turned out. They weren't given a chance. So, because we've “proven ourselves”, we have been given the option. We could serve under Lucas and live to advance this place, or he'll take it from us by force. I reached out to everyone and got consensus. I leaned forward and told Lucas that Raina was a dragon.
After she finished killing all of the guard, Raina had to withdraw from the fight through the Atrium glass roof. She had been injured from the gun fire and spells being shot off. She took the baby and Marika with her. We were launching everything at Lucas and he was fighting back hard. The entire section was starting to collapse. Jason showed up and shot the elven assistants from behind. They had been doing most of the shielding and counter-spelling. We put Lucas down after that. We didn't know where his phylactery was, but it was time to go. We managed to escape into one of the lower levels and have hidden in another apartment for now while we plan our next move. I'm not sure if Raina got out okay with the baby and Marika but she definitely earned her pay today.
Journal Entry 356
The city is in chaos right now. The atrium level has fully collapsed into the floor below it cutting off the upper levels, the guards are on high alert and outright shooting anyone that they think even looks suspicious. We've just been taking it easy in the apartment. We don't know how long it will take Lucas to regenerate, but we need to find his phylactery and destroy it, put an end to him or he'll just rebuild when we're gone and pick up right where he left off. After everyone's rested up, we're going to fight our way up and try and reach the upper levels. We have injuries from the last fight and the only thing we have on hand to deal with it are a few light cure potions we found in the apartment. They taste like cough syrup. We could have really used Avery for this.
Journal Entry 357
We have barricaded ourselves in the royal suite. It was a tough fight up here. Since most of the guards had their psion headbands, I became the distraction. I'd detach and fly in at them acting all ghost like. They'd panic and fire. Then the rest of the team had a minute to kill them before they could reload. It's a big assumption that the phylactery is up here. It may be below the city, or outside the city. It could be in Rosenbridge for all we know. The suite is at the highest point in the city, is well fortified and only has one entrance outside of the balcony that rings it. The guard have tried breaching the door for an hour before giving up. I'm not sure what they're doing out there but if they were smart, they'd be putting together a bomb and blast their way in. Max has been casually slinging spells over the balcony at the city below, causing more section collapses and outbreaks of fire. The only problem is that he's burning himself out fast from doing it. From the looks of it, Raina shot down the city airships, as we can see their wreckage littering the city's superstructure. No sign of our airship or the dragon as of yet. Mike and Cherri have been setting up a summoning circle. They're going to try and get us some demonic assistance.
Journal Entry 358
Lucas is back. I can hear him screaming curses at us from outside. We've ransacked his quarters pretty hard for anything we could use. We found a barely working, magically enhanced Android tablet that desperately needed a format, an airsoft FN FAL and a block of what we all agree is ancient Semtex that we're pretty sure is no longer any good after all these centuries. It's not even malleable anymore. In case it is, Austin is rigging up a magical detonator and we're dumping it in the sewer system, which seems to still be flowing, just in case. The airsoft gun appears to be modified. It can fire a magic missile about once a minute. As for our demon assistance, since we're not willing to sell souls or have a baby on hand to sacrifice, the best we can get is a messenger imp. We're sending it off to alert Marika, who presumably has our airship, as to where we are.
Journal Entry 359
Lucas breached our defenses. Well, he more went around them. He got outside and just flew onto the balcony. He's been fluctuating between begging and threats all day, but currently he's in begging mode. He just wants us to leave, he's promised he'll never bother us again and keep his hands off the rest of the continent until we're all dead of old age. We told him we'd consider it and that's what we're doing now. He's left and gone back downstairs while we figure this out. I figure that he's just going to stab us in the back the second he can. He's not entirely stable, especially since what we've done to his city. Even if he holds up the deal, the next group of Terrans is going to be fucked over and the ones after that and so on like the ones before us. I feel we need to do something, even if it's just for their revenge. Lucas needs to pay for what he's done, what he's doing and what he's going to do and I'll bring this whole civilization down with him if I have to. At least that's my stance on it. We're still discussing it. The Hind's returned to us and has landed on the balcony. They took to hiding a few miles away behind some dunes while the heat died down and Raina recovered. She's got some scars, even on her elven form, but nothing too dramatic. Marcus is proud of her. The baby's come out of all of this unscathed, as has Marika. We're including their input in this decision. They're not Terrans but they've thrown themselves in with us, they should have a voice too.
Journal Entry 360
We made our decision. We moved our bomb ingredients off the Hind and mixed them. It took a few hours, but when we were done, we had our one ton bomb and a five minute fuse. We would run.. for now, but we were going to leave a parting gift. We had a 5 minute fuse set up. We drew straws as to who would light it. I got the short straw, so I had to light it. I was given a torch from below deck. We made sure everything we wanted was on the ship and everyone was ready to pull out. Then I walked over and lit the fuse. I made it two steps away when suddenly the Rheingraf spymaster appeared and stabbed me through the gut. From the shock, I dropped the torch on the bomb crate. I think they knew what was going to happen; I saw the airship suddenly lift off and shoot into the sky. I grabbed the spymaster with all my remaining strength. I figured the explosion would be enough to destroy his enchantments once and for all. Then the bomb went off and I died. Well, my body did anyways. The explosion caused a chain reaction of collapses, the upper half of the arcology collapsed in on itself. The city was evacuated. I was in a daze for a few hours before I realized what had happened. I'm detached now, permanently. I spotted the Hind circling the ruins and I managed to flag them down, and here I am. Everyone is kind of in shock, and so am I. I don't feel anything.
Journal Entry 361
It's been a few days. We've been camped out around New Paris, watching the survivors. There hasn't been any sign of Lucas. We think that maybe the city was his phylactery, and we have effectively destroyed it. The locals, with our help, have managed to restore some functionality to their food paste producers and have been getting water from the local river, so they aren't starving to death for now. With Lucas gone, they've been deferring to us, the next Terrans in line. They want us to take over and lead them like Lucas or his parents did. I told them that it's time to leave this cursed desert and rejoin the rest of civilization. The problem is that most cities aren't big enough to hold their population. Hell, if they crossed the desert and settled in Manden, they'd triple its population. If they could survive the trip to Wolflake, maybe they could settle there? We're literally trying to figure out where to put the surviving population of one of the largest cities on the continent. It's baffling. As for my condition, well, I don't need food, water or sleep or much of anything else. At least I don't have to worry about my hair catching on fire.
Journal Entry 362
Austin has managed to make their food processing system more mobile and adjusted it to work with the sand. I'm not sure how nutritious it will be, but the consistency has at least improved. The surviving sun church leadership know the continent better then most, so they have been tasked to take care of the population and try and get it, eventually, to Wolflake. They may be able to use the river for transportation. I'm not sure where it ends or if it connects to the other rivers, but it's flowing in the right direction. As for us, we're trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives. We're tired. Maybe it's time to retire. Mike and Cherri are probably going to settle down and summon up a family. Marcus and Raina pretty much already have. I'm pretty sure we can find something to keep ourselves occupied in Aeyllin aside from being research subjects. Maybe I can take up a teaching position and spread the advancement, maybe get myself a new body, maybe not. Hopefully we won't make the same mistakes that the founders of New Paris did. If we do, I can only hope that the next group manages to fix our mess. So here we are. We were taken here against our wills, forced to fight to survive. We did, we adapted and we fought back. We crushed civilizations and helped found new ones. We changed the world. We survived. We are Terrans. We will always find a way.
Journal Entry -----
Two hundred years, just like we predicted. The next batch of Terrans has arrived in Rosenbridge. Twelve of them. They've already been here a week, struggling for food and water, living in an alleyway; Dirty and terrified of their new surroundings but not willing to lay down and die. Ah memories. Avery and I have already made contact and gotten their trust. We had our first discussion. They arrived from late 2011, our past. Of course this meant that we had to convince them that this was unrelated to the Mayan Calendar 2012 nonsense. We'll be taking them to New Chicago. We are going by train so we have time to talk and they will have time to eat and rest. Once they've adapted to the ways of this world, maybe a few will travel to Aeyllin and sign up at the University. I can already feel magic and psionic talents in them, struggling to express themselves. I can only wonder how they are going to change the world, what ideas and skills they've brought with them. Things may get exciting again.
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