Earthdawn

Liferock of Yachetch
from the journals of Boaz Gan Ironglas

Travel Log – preamble

My recent disagreements with Reeta have become intolerable and I fear we are at an impasse. While technically my boss her ability to discipline me is greatly mitigated by my family connection. She is not an Ironglas and my family is nothing if not Nepotistic, even to their black sheep. I have decided to save her the trouble and take a sabbatical from Ironglas Alchemicals. It amuses me to ponder if the family will be more pleased I’ve disappeared or more angered. Some robust mix of the two I suspect. Reeta may be left with the blame I’m afraid, but I’ve little compassion for that myopic bean counter. “Can’t spare a bundle of Hosentel leaves” indeed. Can you spare your chief alchemist? Hah!

Travel Log 1

Cultivating my contact within the Overland Trading Company has appears to have paid off handsomely. Not only was I able to negotiate travel out of the city the obsidian offered me a job! I am to be the cook, and apparently wizard, to a small group of investigators traveling to the Yachetch Liferock. Apparently there has been little to no contact with the settlement since shortly after the great monolith accident a couple months past. Perhaps the families from there are still mourning the lost?

This morning I met the investigators, a colorful bunch. A pair of elves, brother and sister or lovers I cannot guess, but that is typical with their kind. A bubbly windling and a somber troll. I was disappointed to find not a dwarf among them but decided this would prove an excellent opportunity to learn some about the cuisines of their various cultures. I’m particularly curious about troll comfort foods. I’ve read they are able to turn the tough Begger’s Root into a hearty soup. Breakfast at their inn was the usual tolerable fare. It’s as if not a soul in Tansiarla has heard of Rosenmar, nevermind Thymeleaf.

Travel Log 2

We spent the day investigating the monolith tragedy two months earlier. Leveraging our OTC medallions we garnered an audience with mage formerly in charge of the project but gained little useful information. Wracked with guilt over the accident both he and his home were disheveled. I admit it embarrasses me when outsiders witness a dwarf in such a state, I was in a hurry to depart the sad man. From there it was a short walk to the site of the fallen monoliths. Small brown mushrooms grew in abundance. They looked similar enough to zim buttons so I gathered a nice sack. I’m wary to use them without getting an expert opinion. Zem mushrooms, commonly known by their more colorful name ‘throat closers’ look similar to zims in their unripened state. Zylaa, our fae elementalist, was able to scout the site from the air and used her magic to wake the local grass spirits. She learned that three possible saboteurs were present the night before the magical explosion. All three came from the city but only two returned, one left the site by way of the woods to the east. Later at the docks we spoke briefly with the chief of the bridge building project and then spent the rest of the afternoon and a good portion of our OTC gold to arrange passage across the Serpent.

Travel Log 3

Making landfall after dusk we set up camp. We traveled with half dozen obsidians through the forest to their liferock while the troll contingent outpaced us moving on ahead. This tribe of trolls is loosely allied with the obsidians and makes their camp a half days journey to the south of the liferock, our destination. The forest was dank and humid. All the trip we caught glimpses of a local species of monkey while at dusk their hoots and calls grew near deafening. Alas we were unable to catch one for the dinner pot. My own spiced meats ran out quickly and by the end of the week I was forced to subsist on the dry biscuit and hard tack the OTC had ridiculously called trail rations. My opinion of their generosity has taken a great fall, perhaps an irredeemable one.

Travel Log 4

I found obsidian elder in charge to be an odd creature. Stressing his distrust of us and urge to secrecy he rapidly fell into disclosing everything he had initially hidden. By his report the obsidians had recently unearthed an undiscovered Kaer to the north. It was filled with some type of hunger horrors, perhaps hundreds of them. I am unfamiliar with them but the elven swordsman seemed quite knowledgeable on the subject and knew their kind. These abominations harried the obsidian settlement every couple nights and had been depleting their numbers. On the matter of labor sent to Tansiarla’s docks he admitted they had sent only three but was surprised we had heard nothing from them in intervening month. With little debate we decided to search for the missing obsidians first and put off checking into the breached Kaer until after. Frankly, I was quite relieved. I have no delusions of the outcome of our petty handful facing off against hordes of monstrosities. Perhaps once the business of the missing obsidians is settled I can report back to the city while the others valiantly march to their heroic doom.

Travel Log 5

For people made of rock the obsidians had a decently stocked larder and to their credit opened it freely to us. It took much of the morning but I was able to cook up the best meal we’ve had all week, and very likely the best meal this settlement has tasted in some time. With our bellies full we plunged back into the forest. A brief but intense thundershower in the morning left the forest road misty and damper than the previous week. I had lamented the rocky path on the route to the liferock but now added to that was patches of spongy ground where the dirt was trying its damnedist to transform to bog. A couple nights in we came upon a huge swath cut through our path. Upon some examination my companions, whom I’ve begun to see as more worldly than I, recognized these as signs of a large slimy snail-like creature native to this climate. We moved on and made camp a few miles further east.

Travel Log 6

Well, the night we just had was adventurous! I’m glad to be alive and in considerably more awe of the fighting prowess of my companions, well most of them at least. Surprisingly the big troll went down quick and hard. I fault him not though as I would not have lasted a second longer against the sword that struck him and the brute wielding it. In my excitement I start in the middle. Forgive me dear reader, I am not used to such… excitement? Is that what I feel?

I was dreaming of the sweetrolls of Silvers street, but in my dream they were somehow baked underwater by skrang pirates. Oh, nevermind.. Shaken awake from my deep slumber I was told in a harsh whisper “trouble”. I was intrigued to see how my martial companions would dispatch the danger so grabbed my staff and stretched. Thankful for the very uncomfortable leather armor I’d been told I must sleep in. Nearby I heard En, the elven male in parlay with a trio of possibly the ugliest orks I’ve laid eyes upon. The rest of our group quietly but surely moved to back him up. It didn’t take to guess at the orks’ game. They intended to extort us for the rest of our coin, either to hire them as guards or bribe them to leave us be. In my head I had already spent that coin over several times on various meats and vegetables for the meals of weeks to come. I had no intention of seeing wasted on these ruffians.
Things were becoming more tense by the second and I reached out to add some bolstering magic onto the En’s armor. In the next instant everything exploded in spurting blood. The biggest ork swung and sank his huge sword wide and deep across our troll friend cutting him to the heart. I staggered back mumbling ineffectively my protective charms. One of the brutes charged towards me and as my spell failed on my lips I fell to a desperate plea. I offered the ork 5 pieces of gold to aim his attack at his leader. He paused and I was amazed. I’ve never been a smooth talker. I switched my speech to orkish, something I’d picked up in the brothels of Bartertown, unfortunately not the only thing. I asked his name. An odd expression ran across his face draining it of the remainder of hostility. Somehow during this desperate banter with my new acquaintance I managed to keep my focus enough on the brute to throw a few arcane darts at him. From above I saw Zylaa doing similar. En was holding his own against the beast proving a capable swordsman. I felt one of them, I felt dirty and tough, and.. dangerous! Then the third brute, now to my left split open from neck to lower arm with a blow so fast and deft I could not see it strike. The poor sod dropped to the dirt and in his place stood the sword dancer Owen. Their leader was now alone and feel quickly despite his bulk.

Over the next couple hours Zylaa cut and stiched up the troll, spoon feeding him enchanted gruel. I would have bet a fine dinner at Tressels that no one could survive the blow he had taken, and I would have lost. The troll breathed, and more returned to consciousness seemingly unbothered by his grievous wound. Perhaps it is true what they say, Death itself has lost some of his grip trapped below his namesake sea. From Vrong, the surviving ork we learned that the obsidians had been taken by a giant snail like creature. We had our direction now. After a well-earned lunch we will set on the monster’s trail.

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One of Those Days
from the log of En Galos - Session 3

Travel Log Day 1

I lie here reflecting on our journey so far from the obsidaman village. Not much else I can do. Dorn has caught up and healed from his journey. I smile in camaraderie at him, but he only recognizes it as competition or weakness. No matter. I see he’s wearing the jeweled sword I pressed into his broken body after we cut down those orc raiders. I can see for him, all things must be earned, even smiles and shared jokes. Trolls don’t just give their trust. I’d have it no other way – since those who trust easily can put their faith in dangerous place. But it’s a positive fact that it’s worthwhile enough for him to come find us in these woods and join up again with us. That’s something. That and he’s pulling my stretcher.

While Dorn drags me along, I think about the snail creature we killed. Had we not had extra weapons from the orc raiders both I and Olwen would have certainly died earlier. Xyla’s fire spell on Olwen’s sword turned out to work quite well, and Olwen performed quite the spectacle, cutting down half a tree while leaping from branch to flaming branch. The two of them know how to make life, art. And keep us alive while making art. I wonder if they know just how otherworldly their performance was.

Judging by their self-assured smiles, Olwen’s occasional scornful look, and Xyla’s boasting – I’d bet money they do. I worry what will happen if either of them meets someone…or something…that finally catches them, cracks them. They’re not used to failure.

For the moment, I don’t have to worry. Xyla avoided the fire and the slug, its sticky body, and even its acidic spittle. Never got close to it. And Olwen used the distraction well, easily avoiding it with acrobatics. Boaz, he’s turned out to be quite the surprise. Never mind his cooking. While it’s decent, out here without a kitchen and few herbs, I hate to admit to him: it’s been unimpressive. But his fire, now there’s a culinary art that we need on this trip. I should have guessed the Overland Trading Company wouldn’t pay such fees for us to eat well. He burned the slug straight through it’s thick coating. Just moments before that he sent a blast of fire so big, so intense, I thought it would rip my legs clean off. It left just a few scant singes on my boots. Cleaned the creature’s mucus straight off.

But the thing eventually caught up with me. It couldn’t catch me at first, and missed me once with its spittle. Boaz helped when it got my feet, but it kept coming for me with a singular doggedness. That’s good. I did my best to keep it focused on me and got my reward for it. After it finally encased me in its mucus, it slid over me and strapped me to its back. Its tendrils. Dipped underneath my skin. Dug into me. Today I was lucky. Almost burned alive with it. almost a desiccated corpse. Food for creature alien and familiar at once. It’ll happen. One day. But not today. Still alive.

We escorted the single surviving obsidaman. Boaz collected mucus sacs with Olwen’s expert help. Returned to the trail. The lot of us. I wonder when their stomach for this sort of work will give out. I wonder why I myself am drawn to this work. It’s not like I’m as grim as that dwarf in Throal. It’s not like I don’t enjoy Theran grapes, a stolen glance at Olwen’s ankles, the thrum of the obsidaman chant. But for some reason, there’s something more. I’m left unsatisfied. Fool that I am. I don’t even know why. Why throw your life away fighting nightmares?

Travel Log Day 2

I opened my eyes. They were the first small pieces of my body I felt – encrusted with dirt, mucus, blood, and sweat. Then it came back to me. The gnasher’s jaw had clamped down on my chest – gotten past my shield with incredible speed. Found the soft flesh underneath. Crunched through the hide armor like it was tough chicken skin. Crushed my ribs. Torn my flesh.

I was only just healing from a few days earlier, when the digestive slime had immobilized me, and the creature had sucked some of my strength. It was turning out to be a bad stroke of luck. Luck, as Heron would have told me, has nothing to do with it.

No one is battle ready who has not felt their body broken and leaking onto the ground. Who has not picked the pieces of their body up and mended them, however poorly and jaggedly. Who has seen their teeth fly from their face then felt the delayed, searing impact of their opponent’s mace in their jaw.

Heron said I was too pretty to give my life to this work. The physical pain and disfigurement would only be the first, most gentle symptoms of this work. I’d best find other work. Heh. I was full of back talk then. I told her she was beautiful. She told me I wasn’t looking at her real self. That inside, she was marked.
-————-
Travel Log Day 3

So today, and these past couple days, were just a couple of what will probably be many bad days. Luckily, Xyla provided by pulling at the threads of our simple food and making miracles from it. It radiated soothing warmth when I touched the unleavened bread to my lips. I found out they had finished the gnashers. By the time I fell, almost all of them had been dispatched. I had served my purpose then. And I would have the opportunity to serve again.

I have a very good feeling about this group. After all, most would have run from horror constructs. Let’s see how they do when we get inside the kaer. Now if only I could walk. Oh yes, the first bite had weakened me, and cracked my leg. The numbing is wearing off. Now the intense pain. Oh yes, there it is. I’d better rest.
-————-

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Journeys
from the diary of Zylaa Glimmerwind

Travel Log 1

I arrived in the alley, curious to meet this S’rilio Montebanche. Dorn and Olwen were there as well. En had taken off to deal with some horror business. I don’t know where the hell Boaz was. A small, rather scrawny brown-haired human male was also present. He claimed to be a Questor of Garland but Olwen, skilled in social subterfuge, saw through the disguise. Tacit was actually a thief … er … adventurer.

S’rilio was a portly middle-aged T’Skrang merchant. Past experience has shown me you’re always in for an interesting time when you deal with the T’Skrang but I won’t repeat the story of my ride in a hot air balloon with a rather dashing young T’Skrang male. S’rilio offered a generous sum of 150 silver a day for each of us to guard a boat full of toys. The toys were to be delivered to various ports along the Serpent River. My ears perked up when he mentioned the company supplying the toys was called “Little Dreams.” Word on the street is that Little Dreams is quietly connected to the nephew of the King of Throal and used as a front to smuggle arms to the resistance. I suspect there is more to these “toys” than there appears to be. Well, so be it. Thera is a threat to all Barsavians and if we can make money in the process, so much the better.

After a brief converstion with Grindo, the captain of the Grasshopper, we left the tavern only to be assaulted by a bunch of dwarves. They sneered racial slurs at us as they attacked. They outnumbered us (typical bullies) and when I saw my companions all take wicked hits I started to worry. Fortunately it was at that moment that Boaz finally caught up with us. I watched with satisfaction as two of the dwarves were seared with a blast of magical flame. Olwen’s blade skewered the leader and he slumped over, coughing blood. The others turned tail and ran.

I loudly complained to the town watch that a windling, troll, elf and human minding our own business had been viciously attacked by the racist dwarven majority in this town, but an interrogation of our attackers turned up a different truth. They had been paid by a dwarf named Armand to eliminate us. A dwarf with a milky eye, his beard worn in braids. I recognized the description. Armand is rumored to be an associate of the Theran Kingdom.

We retired to a different hotel and I pulled on the threads of elemental fire to infuse my companions food with healing magic. The Grasshopper sails tomorrow morning. I wonder what adventures await us on the Serpent River?

Travel Log 2

I soared high above the water, my wings riding on the breezes of the Serpent River. The feeling of flight is a freedom like no other. The wind caressing your body, the sky opening into infinite possibilities, worries falling away like leaves. My fellow windlings know the joy of which I speak. Sometimes I wish I could stay up here forever.

Reality came crashing back in the form of a swift-moving vessel on an intercept course with the Grasshopper. I recognized the banner – House K’tenshin – infamous Serpent River pirates and allies of the Theran Empire. I returned to the Grasshopper.

A short debate ensued as to whether we should pay the bakshevas (river tolls), or fight the pirates off. We opted for combat. I wove threads of air armor around the party the K’tenshin ship pulled up with ours.

A blast from their cannon blew a hole in our hull and killed two of our crew instantaneously. All hell broke loose. Dorn, in a move worthy of a sky raider, took a running leap and jumped from the deck of the Grasshopper to the K’tenshin vessel. He quickly downed their helmsman and one swing of his axe shattered their steering wheel.

Olwen swooped by, swinging from a mast rope. I was reminded of our circus days as she landed on the deck of the K’tenshin ship, her blade flashing in the afternoon sun.

The K’tenshin captain attempted to replicate Olwen’s move but he had not counted on the rest of us. His cocky smile turned into a grimace of pain as he was struck by Boaz’s mind missile, Tacit’s poisoned dagger and my earth darts. He swung back to his ship, limping and bleeding heavily. Olwen smiled like a woman seducing a man and then pierced him with her sword. The captain gasped and collapsed onto the deck.

I heard calls of “The captain is down!” as the K’tenshin T’Skrang began to retreat. Our crew had taken heavy losses and I immediately began tending to the injured. Even with my magical healing spells it was going to be a long day.

Travel Log 3

The most extraordinary thing happened today. As our boat sailed down the river, a great shadow fell over the ship. I looked up and saw a giant reptilian beast with leathery wings soaring across the sky.

I recalled stories of Vasdenjas, the great dragon that patrolled the Serpent River and one of the few dragons who did not automatically hate the namegiver races, though he had an intense dislike for Therans. As the creature passed low over our ship I shouted “Vasdenjas?”

The dragon’s head turned and I saw a glimmer of recognition. I can’t explain why I did what I did next. It was completely crazy. I went flying after him shouting “Vasdenjas! I want to talk with you!”

Incredibly, the creature slowed and came to rest on a cliff. How can I describe what I saw? Dun-colored scales tougher and stronger than any metal, a gigantic maw filled with razor sharp teeth that could snap our ship in two. As the dragon’s eye regarded me I could see that next to it I was as small as a gnat flying around a human.

I don’t remember a lot of our conversation. It felt like a surreal blur. But I was excessively respectful and polite. I told Vasdenjas that I heard he disliked the Therans and I also hated them. He said it was good to agree. He asked my name and I told him. That was a big point of pride – a great dragon knows Zylaa Glimmerwind!

As I returned to the ship and watched Vasdenjas’ form disappear into the horizon, it felt like my world had changed forever. This was a moment I would always remember. I found my heart beating faster with the hope I might see him again. Was I in love with a great dragon? Astendar help me.

Travel Log 4

We just unloaded the “toys” in K’Shane, the last drop-off point along the river before our final stop in V’strimon. A little investigation has revealed that the toys are in fact what we suspected earlier – a cover for smuggled arms to the Barsaivian resistance.

So it was with some alarm that I noticed the fires in K’Shane suddenly looked much larger and out of control than when we had left the city just ten minutes before. I flew toward the village, taking a circuitous route so I might not be seen.

K’Shane was in chaos. The first thing that hit me was the sickeningly sweet smell of burning flesh. The T’Skrang were running in terror and bodies littered the village. A pair of windlings flitted from hut to hut, setting them on fire. An Obsidiman was weaving a spell which I recognized as elementalism. A large troll stood in the middle of the village, cutting down helpless T’Skrang with his axe. Lastly, an orc sat in a nearby canoe, chuckling at the carnage.

I scrutinized their clothing, jewelry and mannerisms. This quintet was a Theran death squad. No doubt sent to wipe out the villagers who dared smuggle weapons to the resistance.

I turned and flew back toward the Grasshopper to alert the others as the fires of K’Shane cast writhing lights across the night waters. We were on a collision course with the Theran Empire and the first impact was about to happen.

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