Long After, Xin-Eurythnia

Excerpt from Miriam's Diary
Following session 9/16/15

…and she told us to go out to investigate to see if we could find the noise. That’s when we met Bellis and Aldo and Samiro and Dorsey. and maybe the other two guards aren’t hard workers because they went back to the barracks but I was told to stay with Bellis and Aldo and Samiro and Dorsey so I did and tried to help them.

we walked for a bit and before I knew what had happened we were fighting in a warehouse! I tried to see what was going on but the others are all so fast and brave and they did a really good job at the start of battle.

I had a very important task of guarding the door (which I did very good at, nobody got out of the room at all!) and then I also tried to help out with the fighting! Gosh darn, that Biznak was quick! I missed her but I can tell that I’m getting faster with my staff.

so we won the battle and I tried not to be nosy or judgy in the aftermath you know so I went outside and then we went to see Field Marshall Kroft (I tried calling her Cressie when I first met Cressida but was told sternly not to do that but she looks like such a Cressie you know??) and Samiro, that dear, he gave me 120 gold from their prize which was more gold pieces than I’ve ever seen in one place.

I can tell that Samiro is fair and trustworthy and Dorsey is kind of heart and that Aldo truly is caring and that Bellis is the soul of the team.

oh my goodness, I forgot. the best part is that I got to pet the BIGGEST Stripedog I’ve ever seen! Lily is super-nice and cuddly and I’m so happy that Bellis has a friend like Lily. I just really hope they all remember me when we meet at the tavern and that I can keep being helpful so my adventure can continue and…

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Trembling Anticipation
Vancaskerskin's Letter

Dearest Verik,

My lust for you knows no bounds. Although our stations in life are apart, and our being together may cause no end of tumult among my family, not to mention your former comrades, I cannot but wait for your touch. I fear that my brother may be on to our tryst, so I must keep this brief for I may be seen penning to you by one of his spies. If you should need me, follow the stirge’s path to the storehouse rid of it’s wares. When you find where we last met, light a candle in the window and I shall come to you.

With trembling anticipation,
Vimanda

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Alley Fingers

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Scrap on the Underdock
25 Arodus, 4718 AR - Late at night

Dorsey scouted back along the dock running behind the building and Semiro brought up his crossbow behind Dorsey. The loose wooden planks groaned under the weight, but held until Semiro stepped up next to Dorsey.

“Come out. You are all under arrest!” Blared Semiro. The response came from the deck beneath his feat, which collapsed, dropping Semiro into the water below, Dorsey deftly stepping to the side to watch the halfling fall.

As Semiro splashed about to regain his balance in the brackish river water, a dark shape loomed under the surface. Dorsey saw a dock down beneath the building, lower to the water in reach of Semiro, so he hopped down and put his hand out, pulling Semiro out of the water just as a shark emerged, jaws open in greeting.

Aldo staggered in the opposite direction towards the road to keep watch, injured as he was he barely stayed conscious.

Enik, Bellis and Lily all made their way after Semiro and Dorsey, who had moved further beneath the building to find a door leading inside. Lily bound about the dock beams easily, with practiced feline grace bringing itself up behind Dorsey and Semiro.

Inside the door they found their target- Gaedren Lamm, looming in the shadows beyond an indoor dock circling a pool of black water. The old man wore dirty, simple clothing and his limbs hung like swamp reeds from his thin torso under a bald pate.

“I knew I should have fed you to Gobbleguts the day you turned up on my doorstep, you runt!” He hissed at Semiro, stepping out from piles of junk in disarray on the far side. “And you,” Gaedren said, looking to Dorsey. “Why don’t you stab these curs and work for me?” In Gaedren’s hands hung a crossbow, which he raised to take aim. He was clearly very old and had no concept of hygiene.

“Why don’t you fuck yourself,” snapped Dorsey. Then he took a shot with his hand crossbow and made his way to the left around the pool in the center.

Gaedren fired his crossbow, but aimed down into the water. The bolt splashed into scaley patch of floating mold, which trashing into being- truly an alligator that raged at being awoken.

The gator snapped and Dorsey, getting a fierce bite and gripping him tight. Semiro fired his crossbow and Enik and Lily came in behind, Enik with his spells at the ready and Lily striking at the shark with her claws and mouth.

Aldo coughed violently and pulled out a deck of cards. He threw some of the cards onto himself, looking like a caught cheater reeling from his punishment. Then he cried out for the Korvosan Guard.

Bellis stumbled and fell into the water as she was trying to lower herself to the underpier. She flailed helplessly trying to escape the jaws of the shark.

Dorsey slipped free from the gator and ran around the dock to reach Gaedren.

Lily ran back to help her companion, Bellis, diving into the water to fight- tiger on shark. The shark’s home turf was not enough advantage as the ferocious tiger slashed into it’s leathery skin spilling clouds of blood into the river. Bellis climbed out of water onto the dock and the shark fled out into the dark.

Enik’s weasel, Shy Hemptie, slipped out of Enik’s robes as Enik gestured, armoring the weasel with magic energy. The weasel scampered over to Gaedren and latched onto his arm and Gaedren squealed in pain.

Dorsey, Semiro and Enik made short work of Gaedren while the alligator clammered about trying to climb onto the dock. Dorsey swung his hatchet at Gaedren’s back as he attempted to flee. Lily climbed out after her master.

“Wait, do-!” Interceded Semiro, but it was too late. Dorsey’s axe buried itself into Gaedren’s back and the old man crumpled to the deck, dead.

Semiro threw down his crossbow in frustration and left Dorsey, Enik and Shy to chase off the alligator. After a few sings, the gator swam away under the dock, wincing from it’s wounds.

Aldo came down and told them all that he had summoned the guard. All but Dorsey and Aldo took to the high ground by the front of the building, up away from the river shore.

Dorsey went into the back of the underpier to look around. There he popped a chest lock and found quite a stash of expensive jewelry and loot, namely an extravagant pendant that looked to be worth more than all the other valuables combined. There was also a hatbox on top of a wardobe in the corner. Flies buzzed about the box like bees on a hive. If the smell of the dock water and the sad stained sheets of Gaedren’s wasn’t bad enough, the stench coming from the hatbox was worse.

“You open it,” Dorsey said to Aldo, who had entered the small room.

Aldo slowly pulled the lid off the hatbox and was taken back by the smell that wafted out. Inside was the head of Zellara who appeared to have been dead for some time, at least a few days, but without the expert review of someone trained in the healing arts, they would not know for sure. Underneath Zellara’s head was a blood stained deck of cards. Aldo took them and saw that they were a Harrow deck. He put the deck in his pocket.

The pair went to meet the others and distribute the items they had found.

A guard squad had arrived and was questioning Semiro, Bellis and Enik. Semiro told them about what happened and the Guards made their way inside to investigate.

Just then a detonation sounded from across the city and the sky flashed with blue and purple light. A scream rang out and the sound of metal clashing echoed through the streets and alleyways.

“The King is dead!” came a voice over the sudden commotion.

“The Stirge King is gone this world! Long live the queen!” came another, followed by a scream.

A squad of Hippogryphs came soaring through the air, Sable Company Marines on their backs. As they flew overhead blood fell heavy from the air and splattered about the street. One of the Hippogryphs spiraled wayward from the group and crashed headlong into a stone statue just down the way in a small square. The statue blasted apart spreading it’s chunks about, and the Hippogryph exhibited a sickening crunch and fell to the ground with a crash. The rider was flung through the air at a breakneck speed and slammed finally into a wall on the far side of the square, not to the get up.

Down an alleyway a group of men and women hauled crates and bags in their arms, looking behind themselves nervously and shoo-ing each other onward. Shortly after they passed, a group of heavily armored Hellknights marched in the same direction. One of them drew a sword from a sheath at his side and pointed it towards their pursuants. “Stop thieves, or face our punishment!” shouted the knight with the sword, and then he made off in pursuit.

The group split and made to go in separate directions. Semiro, Bellis and Enik went towards Citadel Volshyenek, the headquarters of the Korvosan Guard, and Dorsey and Aldo headed towards their hideout in Old Korvosa.

“I do not think we should split up. What if we need to work together again?” Semiro asked before they departed.

“We’ll find you,” said Dorsey, and they disappeared into the night.

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A Harrowing and a Plan nearly played
22 through 25 Arodus, 4718 AR

Semiro was studying The Book of Numbers regarding the employment of personal justice.

When one finds oneself without the assistance of greater justice, it is imperative to make judgments for oneself. For all those who judge are below the judgement of the gods and all judgments are apparently inferior as such; however, it is only through mortal agents that the pragmatic judgement is passed and it is most often that judgement is passed on the Material Plane. Therefore, one must look inward to find justice and know that Abadar resides with those who judge with a clear and level head, and the consideration of lawful society at heart.

On the final page of the passage, Semiro found a Harrow card of his own- The Queen Mother. On the back were the same instructions he had seen the night before on Enik and Aldo’s cards.

Bellisa sat on the dock swinging her legs. She was tired and a bit cold despite the balmy weather, but such a feeling was getting easier as time passed. Her companion Lily, a tiger with cords of muscle like rigging ropes, came padding too her through the piles of boxes and creates crowding the area. In Lily’s mouth was a card, which she dropped at Bellisa’s side. After, Lily sat down and scratched at the side of her face with her foot, then she shook her head and began grooming herself.

Bellisa took the card on the dock and looked at it- a Harrow card. The Midwife, instructions and all.

Dorsey Galorsey crept into his hideout, which would otherwise be mistaken for abandoned, if not for the cot rolled up in the closet and the various tools and empty bottles laying around. He sat on the floor and looked at his day’s meagre take: a few pinch, a silver spoon and a notebook with nothing more than a few personal addresses. A dagger stabbed into the wall next to him caught his eye. Pinned to the wall by the dagger was a Harrow card- The Rabbit Prince.

They all met, intentionally or otherwise, at the address on the cards: 3 Lancet Street, down in West Dock by the old fisheries and docks. A bit of poking around and asking the right questions told Dorsey that a Varisian fortune teller by the name of Zellara lived in the place. Not the devious type, as far as anyone knew. Simply another displaced native trying to get by on a few old tricks and perhaps a bit of magic.

Upon reaching Zellara’s house they found the place empty of it’s owner, but with a welcoming small room, complete with stale bread and mediocre wine. Before long Semiro heads to the street to stand guard, but runs into a woman on her way in. She smiles at Semiro and beckons him back inside.

A fair skinned, middle aged woman with long dark hair held back by a bandana, Zellara was homely but pleasant looking none the less. She invited all to sit and all complied who weren’t seated already, save Dorsey who looked about skeptically and then sat as well.

Gaedren Lamm was the topic of discussion. He had wronged all those present in one way or another and he deserved his comeuppance, no doubt. Zellara complained that the Korvosan Guard would do nothing to help her and she was afraid that apprehending Gaedren would merely lead to his later escape. She believed he should be killed. Others agreed while some did not. Regardless, Zellara knew where he was hiding and gave such directions.

Then she offered to perform a Harrow reading for her guests and would be avengers.

First would be the Choosing:

Bellis chose the Locksmith. Spiteful as she was at her enabler and tormenter, her fury will drive her when she confronts her enemy. Thereafter she will find something that will intertwine her destiny with Korvosa’s.

Dorsey chose the Rabbit Prince. He would do well to enter into new games, be they dangerous or not. One finds a knife as easily in a fight as in a game, for the one true game never ends. A young member of a noble household- or a hidden secret? Perhaps he becomes his own noble house, a new kind.

Enik chose the Juggler. The gods play with the lives of others, as one does in a performance. If one is able to master the flow of the universe, one can accomplish tremendous things. But one is also at risk of dropping it all, and raining catastrophe with such power. He will find himself in a place of urgency, and enemies becoming obstacles seeming to move from his path, cowering at the power he weilds, for he is destined to catch what flees from him and end the path.

Aldo chose the Crows. Murder, theft and shocking loss. One or some or all, these things are signified by the Crows. Perhaps these things are to be thwarted, or perhaps enabled. Perhaps theft can be just. He will find himself in a deep and dark place, and an agent of evil will present itself. He will know no doubt in his heart that the great dance aside, he must strike dead that which opposing the living, as all must who have a heart.

Semiro chose the Peacock. Some beauty can only be grasped if frozen in place. The wise learn to dance from the Peacock’s path, for its change is the natural change of attitudes and, eventually, of society. To resist is to play the cockatrice, and imprison the Peacock. The Peacock will always set itself free, tearing down it’s own stone skin if it must. A betrayer will reveal itself to Semiro. The purpose will be clear, for it is not the Peacock, but a disrupter of the benevolent powers that be.

Zellara smiles and holds out her hands “Return to me ze cards.” She asks, her voice almost singing. Then she shuffles them and they float about her hands as if suspended in water. She lays them on the table quickly, but with a deliberate precision.

In the past there has been a corruption of the spirit that will resonate into our present and future, this is indicated by The Sickness. Be there no mistake, this corruption seeks to defile us all, or see us dead in our defense. Be weary, for corruption can hide in many places, especially when obscured by the veils of the past.

The Waxworks represents a past of helplessness and frustration. Bucking against your physical limitations you have all been restrained from your goals. Do not let this continue for it is the entropy of effort and a falling into submission of the forces that would control you.

Presently we play along with the spinning whims of the universe. They smile on us this day, but they spin onward. The Dance shows us that our steps may follow the true laws and bring us safely to our destination, but the Peacock, aligned perfectly as it is in the center, represents the ever present change of all things. Structures, hierarchies and systems, be they civilized or natural or magic, all serve their purpose, but all are subject to change none the less. No matter how strong a city, it will return to dust one day and if that is soon or far is not for us to know. Our laws may eventually dissolve and what we think is right will be cast into question. Or it all may change for the better. The despair and poverty we see around us, the hardships of our lives may shift for the better. The outcome is uncertain, but one thing is clear: do not struggle against the changing of time and all things. Learn to move with the flow of the great river, dance to the new rhythm when you hear it and no sooner.

Struggle and change can take life as easily as it can give it. Watch for both. Know that all battles draw a chance of a sword at the chest or a knife at the back. The Rabbit Prince is as deft with his fists as he is with a knife or a broken sword.

Our future is grim. Shackles will be cast off only to be replaced by greater manacles. Perhaps for you and us, or perhaps for another. This is known by The Big Sky. Remember, true freedom is in the mind.

The Cyclone shows us that havoc will be wrought. Destruction will spread across our lands and it will all be the cause of some intelligent conspiracy. In our great city we are protected much from natural disaster, but the schemes of the corrupt will destroy just as ferociously as an earthquake or ashstorm.

Finally we have the Crows. The vicious will come to prey on the weak and the suffering. Dead bodies amass carrion birds and ill omens. But I see that you shall fight them and drive them back to their roosts. Your triumph over the forces of evil may see you rise as heroes in Korvosa. Or it may mean your death.

They scoped out Lamm’s place for three days. The building seemed to get deliveries in the morning and send out boxes and barrels in the evening. Semiro and Bellis went to the market to collect their disguises.

On the third night, Aldo, Dorsey and Enik snuck in one side, and Semiro and Bellis, disguised as children, went in the other side.

Lily the tiger was left waiting in the street while Semiro and Bellis found what seemed to be some kind of fish processing setup inside. It appeared that deliveries of fish detrius was brought in the morning and some product was shipped out later on. The first room held nothing but a trough of rancid fish parts which funneled into another further room. In the far room, a set of stairs led down into what appeared to be a sleeping area full of hammocks and a large vat, into which the trough in the first room emptied. Here there were many orphans getting ready for bed. An orphan, one of Lamm’s lambs, that seemed to be acting as a leader ordered the disguised Semiro and Bellis to hand over their take for the day. Semiro held out a large golden key, decorated with a design of a city inside the key loop. As the leader lamb took the key, Semiro fired off a spell. The leader oprhan, who revealed himself to actually be a disguised gnome, began yelling at the other lambs, ordering them to expel the intruders. The lambs listened and began gathering knives and pitchforks to weild at Semiro and Bellis.

Just then, Lily came bounding in through the loading dock doors, her teeth bared in defense of her companion, Bellis. The lambs trembled in terror and the gnome flew in front of them, attacking Semiro, Bellis and Lily with his kukri.

On the other side Dorsey picked open a door and saw a sour faced man tending to some paperwork on a desk. He stood and went to leave through a door opposite Dorsey, when Dorsey sprung his attack. The sour faced man brandished a wand and began spraying acid at the intruders. Aldo and Enik entered the room to fight.

The sour faced man got his ass whooped and knocked out, but not before calling out for “Bloo”. A dog bit at Dorsey from the next room, but Dorsey put it down with a few flicks of the axe. In the next room, Dorsey kicked in a now opening door, which was repelled and flung open, a chuckling half-orc standing in the doorway. The half-orc wielding a flail and a shield and made short work of Dorsey and Aldo, who both staggered back and sunk to the ground in near-unconscious exhaustion. Bellis and Semiro backed into a room next to the fight with the half-orc, near a trough of rancid fish guts. Lily pressed the attack, gnashing and slicing with her mouth and claws. The gnome turned and ran, while the lambs cowered. Bellis and Semiro went to help Aldo, Dorsey and Enik with the half-orc.

Lily flew past Bellis and Semiro and engaged the half-orc, her claws and teeth slicing through the air like so many teeth. The half-orc continued laughing through the violence. Bellis healed Dorsey while Semiro fired off a few bolts from his crossbow at the half-orc. Dorsey got up and sliced Giggles’ spine through and if he had been another he would have died, but the brute in it’s orcish rage hung on for another moment, swinging at his adversaries, before finally collapsing on the ground.

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Charges Quit and The Lure of Vengeance
21 Arodus, 4718 AR

The prison cells beneath Citadel Volshyenek exist in immaculate repair, but with the cold and unforgiving comforts of the law; that is, just enough to not be considered torture. While not foreign to the punishments enacted by Korvosan Arbiters, torture was only to be used deliberately and not as a by-product of maintenance, or lack thereof. Citadel Volshyenek kept every sconce lit, every iron bar free of rust and every floor tile swept between occupiers. A simple cot was provided in each cell with a single pillow and single blanket. In each corner is a small fired-clay chamber pot.

One cell held the dashing Aldo Flores.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” Aldo said, apparently to no one, in anticipation of being released. The trial having gone awry, the charges of murder filed against them were dropped. The official story was, as Aldo had put it: “It was a tragic slip up. I loved her, can’t you see that?” Tears splashed about his eyes and he recalled the image of the young woman falling to the bay torn cliffs below.

Keys jangled in the corridor between the cells. Two men appeared, one a human decked in Korvosan Guard attire and the other a halfling wearing the practical, but stunning white and yellow uniform of the Bank of Abadar.

“Aldo. Somehow I knew I would find you here,” Said the halfling.

“Semiro, my old friend.”

“I’m Dorsey,” Said a fourth person, standing hitherto unnoticed in a shadow in the cell neighboring Aldo’s.

Semiro shot Aldo a concerned glance and then set about unlocking their cell doors and leading them to the streets above.

They made their way to the Bailer’s Retreat to refresh. The sun was past its zenith, but was still many hours from setting. A late summer breeze blew south down the river, bringing with it the rotten stench of fish carcasses from West Dock.

The tavern was bustling with guards and low-lifes alike. Many spat over bad hands of cards, while others drank away their exhaustion from tankards. Some of the men had just been freed from jail, like Aldo and Dorsey, but would return to their iron-caged bedrooms after a few more drinks and a few wrong words to a guard.

“Hey Samp,” said Dorsey to a buck-toothed, bug eyed human huddled over a mug, whose eyes lept from person to door to person frantically.
“Ssssh! Keep it down, Dorsey. They’ll find me.”

“I thought you would be underground.”

“I should be,” said Samp. Then he sipped down the rest of his drink and stop abruptly. “I should be! I have to go! Look, if you’re ever down in the Vaults, look me up and I’ll show you around. Goodbye for now.” And at that, he scampered off.

Having overheard the name Gaedren Lamm between a few ales and a game or two of dice, a young man with small pointed ears nervously approached the trio. By the look of his robes, the oversized book in his hands and the nervous, sheltered demenour, he was an Imper- a student of the Academae.

He spoke quickly. “I’m looking for someone. He was one of Gaedren Lamm’s lambs. The little guy spoke of many things in the employ of Gaedren, but not two of them were useful. One thing was a pair of Gaedren’s men that he described. One was a half-orc with a strange laugh, Giggles they call him.” Said Eneck. “And another, a budding alchemist. Maybe we can ask around and see if anyone knows them?”

“Seen ‘em down at the Stout Harper,” They drew from a stubbled man a few minutes later. “In fact I’ve seen ‘em there a few times.”

Eneck found a harrow card in his spellbook that had not been there before- The Hidden Truth.

“This is used for Divination,” He said. “There should be a whole deck.”

“Funny thing, I’ve got one just like it,” said Aldo, his the Courtesan.

On the reverse side of both cards was written:

I know what Gaedren has done
to you. He has wronged me as
well. I know where he dwells,
yet cannot strike at him. Come
to my home at 3 Lancet Street
at sunset. Others like you will
be there. Gaedren must face his
fate, and justice must be done.

Paid in pinch, the group went to the Stout Harper.

Once there, in the ramshackle excuse for a tavern in North Point, they ate food and prodded around for more information. The bartender, Horme, had heard of the pair of Lamm’s associates, and said they come around some nights. He said they seem to work late.

Aldo found a dwarf woman with whom he had gambled before. “Sold off my Harrow deck. Got me some dice instead. Want to throw a round?” Her hair was copper and a scowl covered her face. Aldo sat down with a grin on his face, rubbing his hands casually.

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