Chronicles

SCHOLAM IUDICIALE MORTARION
SEMESTER IV, CASE STUDY II; ADVENTURERS

Adventurers present a unique challenge to law-keepers. The best of them may be of great use to you, able to dedicate manpower and expertise to complex problems, - cheaply - for months at a time, and perform feats of dungeoneering that would usually require direct intervention by the Empire's military. The worst are nothing more than bloodthirsty sellswords and pirates, trading on the legitimacy of the industry. It can be difficult to separate one from the other, as indeed in recent times it has been common for sufficiently small mercenary companies - and even actual bandits - to describe themselves as adventurers.

What follows is a historically significant case file, complete with research notes and evidence. It details the exploits of the adventuring party known colloquially as 'the Hero Circus', in their own words. For your reference they have also campaigned under the names 'Daggersea Silvers', 'Tunnel-Drakes', and "the Cold Company".

Read and Analyse this material. On this basis, make the following assessments;
a) Identify any offenses committed in the accounts. In what instances, and with what offence would you charge each group member? Remember to consider issues of jurisdiction and your 'discretion to charge' (Your responses should be in short-answer format.)

b) Allocate the group with an alignment and threat-assessment index, in accordance with the standard Imperial Categorization Matrix, and give reasons. (Your answer should be in essay format.)

You will be marked out of 100

Extract; Coltish, A,Tales of the Silver Empire, Volume I, Chapters I -> , p4
Let me begin by saying that ours is not a tale for bardic prose. It is as often a tale of villainy as heroism, and ill-suited for the tender courts of high society and the ears of village children alike. Nevertheless, it will be remarked upon in years to come that our story should be recorded by a historian and not a great poet. It is the fashion these days for kings, dukes and princes to have their generally lackluster reigns spun into heroic verse for a weighty fee. My fellow adventurers and I have had good cause over the years, to develop an abiding distaste for bards, a fact which may have contributed to our poor reputation in many lands. I have no doubt that the chronicler to whom it will ultimately fall to publish this account shall be subject to extensive vilification, whether for the crime of invention and fancy, or simply infringing upon the bardic trade. For this, I should like to apologize. It is a great irony that such should be the reward for your good work, when this account shall be a closer thing to a factual history of events than has been published in this Kingdom for several centuries. On this matter I should say no more, save that it is to bards and their business that we owe the poor state of historical record in this land, and that I will endeavor to demonstrate better practice.


SESSION 1
Obviously, we each had strange and fascinating origins. I myself was a fugitive slave from a warfront fabricaeum, heavy with stolen contraband and at the start of a long and unnatural term of adolescence. There is as much to say on each of my companions of those years, but they are not tales for me to disclose. Suffice it to say that I choose to begin with Mestria as it is expedient, and also because it marks the start of curious adventures of some little infamy. Forthwith, this account consists largely of notes I scribbled at the time. I hope my readers will forgive their accordingly adolescent consistency.

We were staying in a dwarven ruin called Cassangreca, looking for a job to pay our way out of the North. It was a strange place. Old damage from a war with the elves had sunk most of it into the sea, and everyone said there were whole mansions full of treasure magically preserved out in the water. My new companions were called Shadow and Garekk. We had all been heading in the same direction on the road, so we ended up sort of falling in together and arrived in town as an unofficial party. They didn't seem to like each other, but I thought we made a good team. The city was full of adventurers and treasure hunters like us, so we had a little trouble finding work at first. Eventually we made a deal with a gnomish sea-captain to clear out a techomancer's tomb for him. In exchange, we'd get a fifty percent share of the treasure we found! I though it was a really good deal, but Shadow was suspicious. That night we were run out of town when somebody accidentally summoned a daemon-prince. I guess that’s what happens when you have so many sorcerers sharing one inn. There were plenty of experienced adventurers around to handle it, so we thought we'd probably better clear out. Luckily, the captain was already setting sail when we reached the docks. As terrible as it was to see, we all thought it was amazing to watch a whole city on fire, especially from out on the water.

We sailed for several days out into the straits. The tomb was on an island at the top of a cliff, so it would be quite difficult to reach. I spent the time preparing; I hadn't ever climbed in the armor before, so I wanted to get used to the movements. I also read the Captain's book about gnomish technomancy, in case there was anything that might help us do the job. Garekk and Shadow spent it bickering, which was pretty annoying.

We arrived at the island and had to be rowed across in a longboat. I'm glad I did some practice first, because the cliff was really high and the battle-suit felt really heavy. Basically as soon as we arrived, we were spotted by some wild kobolds who were living in the antechamber! I challenged their leader but I don't think it understood me. They all piled in to attack us. I just sort of soaked up damage while Shadow and Garekk set about with their weapons. Once we had cleared the top floor, Shadow asked Garekk to pull a level which turned out to be a pretty vicious trap. I had picked up enough medicine from the war-camps to save his life, but he was super mad at Shadow afterwards. He wouldn't even come further into the dungeon with us until Shadow apologized, but Shadow wouldn't. Probably attracted by the noise, skeleton guards started charging down the hall and we had another fight on our hands. I was scared so I only hit one or two with my sword, but I'm sure Xortivar was still pleased. We pushed on into the dungeon with Shadow spotting and disabling traps as we went. I helped when we got to a lock he couldn't open; old Dungar always used to say a good dwarfish hammer was better than any set of lock-picks. I bent the handle a bit though. Further in there were puzzle rooms, including one where we had to crawl, and one full of acid and baby gelatinous cubes. Finally we got to the sarcophagus and called in the pirates to carry out the chests of gold and jewels. Garekk stashed a bunch in his pockets too, just in case the gnome betrayed us later. The last thing we found was a secret door down to a big statue of a Daedric Prince. No-one was sure if it was meant to be Alazi or Karganath but we figured it was probably a little above our pay-grade and left that chamber untouched. Happily it turned out the Captain was never going to betray us. He even bore us back to the mainland. Within a few days we were settled in a nearby village and fully kitted out for the next leg of our journey. Garekk bought a new sword, and Shadow put a deposit on a torsion-bow.

As for me, I finally had the silver to patch up the rust on my armor. The blacksmith, Balimund, was very helpful and interested. He said it must have been an officer's, from the days of the pre-Mestrian empire. He showed me some old drawings in a history book and it seemed to confirm what he said. The curse must have preserved it all these years. We spent nearly a week planning and working up the repairs. It's still clearly an old relic (and my purse is almost empty) but I feel a bit more respectable walking the streets in it. Tonight the three of us will share a fine dinner before setting out on our next adventure!


SESSION 2

The city-state of Sice was an ancient and crumbling relic. It’s economic relevance had been undercut by the historic rollout of teleportation circles across the outer Imperial territories, reducing the once thriving port-capital of a bygone empire to a backwater waystation and peddler’s market. Nevertheless, it was the first human city I had ever seen. To this day, the creak of street-vendor’s carts and shrieking gulls minds me of Sice before grander cities. I recall my own wonder at exploring the winding canal-markets of this unique city, eccentrically charming in the distinct fashion of old Mestrian metropoli.

We’d barely taken a step out the door of our Inn when a whole new world of trouble fell into our laps. We had been watching an air battle between two skyships flying red and black colors. None of us knew who the factions were, but keen to avoid any unnecessary trouble we left for the nearest gate. Suddenly, in a column of smoke, two elves burst onto the street in front of us. I started to introduce myself but their ears pricked up at the sound of armored boots nearby and they started running! Garekk was suspicious, thinking they were probably criminals on the run from the guards, or even pirates from the fight overhead! We couldn’t discuss it much; as the marchers approached we smartly returned to the tavern. Neither of the elves gave much more than their names; Elrohir the Mage and Cazar the Archer. I was more polite and told them all about our party. Shadow eyed their equipment and commented that their skillsets might be of benefit on our travels. They were quick to take us up on the offer, clearly eager for the (comparative) safety of company.

In order to pay for his healing, Garekk had agreed to complete a quest for the local Dragan Church. We were to recover some relics from a burial ground in a overgrown fen outside of town. The pay could potentially be good, so we all agreed to participate. Of course, we ran into more trouble outside the blacksmith's workshop.

A brawl between local nobles had spilled into the streets. Shadow quickly leapt up and shouted an offer of assistance to anyone who could pay; somehow this resulted in me leading a charge of Salamenquins redcoats against their rivals in white. It escalated quickly! Shadow and Cazar shot indiscriminately into the scrum. Thankfully Garekk and his greatblade stayed at a comfortable distance! Elrohir boxed the enemy in with fire-sprites and they broke and ran in short order. My first proper battle! I hit a guy with my sword but he didn’t seem very hurt. He was a much better fighter than me. But I still helped. The problem was, even after the fight, there were still riots going on in the city. I was shocked to see priests burning effigies of the Divines. An arrow came out of the dark and struck their leader down, so I’m satisfied that Xortivar was watching. Even so, I’m still shaken by what I’ve seen. The elves teleported out for their own safety, and I accompanied Garekk to our meeting place on foot. At the centre of a marshy fen, we found an old overgrown graveyard. Inside the central crypt there were several locked sarcophaguses and several sets of dusty old armor and weapons, as well as the map the clerics had wanted. We also found some burial urns but they stunk so we decided to leave them. As we left we reached the edge of the wards and found a gaunt stranger waiting. He said he was a vampire, and wanted one of the rings from inside the coffins. We debated for a while; the mission had been to retrieve the map; any other relics were just a bonus. In the end we had no choice but to hand it over. I was relieved when he took it without trying to kill us. He turned into bats and left us to trudge through the mud back towards Sice.


SESSION 3

Trolls! The reeds in the fen came alive with monsters as we tried to return to the road! Elrohir summoned more fire elementals but some of them went wild and started attacking us too! One of the trolls nearly ruined my shield so I got really mad and chopped it in half. I got a bit too excited about my victory though and charged off to get stuck in the mud. There was alot of confusion in the meantime but once the rogue elementals dispelled Garekk finally killed the other one. Soaked in troll-fat and fire-salt, we finally tumbled back through the gates of Sice.

The riots hadn't quieted yet, so we were forced to bribe our way past the guards into Uptown. Elrohir and I waited outside, concerned that the Dragans might see a white-elf mage as an abomination. We made friends with a stray dog who I named Meeko, and he has been following us ever since. Shadow and Garekk came out looking frustrated - apparently we'd been badly short-changed by the miserly clerics. Shadow and I went looking for the Salamenquis to see if they could offer some more profitable work. Instead, Shadow got into a drinking contest and cooked up a plot to raid the whitecoat's family burials. Suffice it to say, we spent the night 'on the town' and that I've been forbidden from saying any more.

The next day we spent some time waiting for Shadow to finish throwing up. Then we went to the Imperial Embassy to see if they might have mercenary work. They did have a job hunting some local fugitives, but noone seemed very interested in it. Instead, Garekk got into a duel with a guard. I've been watching alot of healing lately, and I'd say the guy should make a full recovery. Garekk says it was his own fault for insulting an Orc in the first place. He's still upset because he thinks Shadow stole his purse, but can't prove it. I prompted Shadow to tell the truth, but apparently there's a Cifyrean tenent in play, which I have to respect. Having run out of ideas, we settled back at the tavern for the night. As we were finishing dinner a night-goblin came in looking for us. The Recta was apparently offering a real quest, so we collected our things and headed east to the palace. Inside, a child-vampire named Marius the Joker asked us to get back the ring we had given up in the Dragan crypt. Apparently there was to be some kind of vampire convention in an abandoned basement a few miles out of town, giving us a short window of opportunity to steal it back. Shadow recruited Maluel, chief of the Salamenquis band to lend his help with the break-in, and we spent a few hours resting up and stocking our anti-vampire supplies. Holy water was too expensive, and I don't know the blessing so I settled on garlic and a small mirror. I did spend several hours in study though, and pretty much memorized the platinum-opprobium against the undead. We travelled through the Knarlwood for several hours and arrived the next morning at dawn, at a tumbledown mansion overgrown with vines. We're going to let Shadow take the lead, in case there are traps or anything.


SESSION 4

The Rector of the Republic of Sice, one Louis Gozze the IV, is an incredibly busy man. What with all the functions he must attend, hosted by his decaying nobility, and trying to end the hostilities between the Sorbonez and the Salamanquis, by utterly running the entire group of Salamanquis houses out of town. Of course his attention to these details mean that he overlooks many other pressing matters of his concern, such as the true origins of his child-prodigy court wizard, simply known as the Red Child. Needless to say Louis, as all Dragan fearing men should be, allows his court wizard his space.

On one clear day, in 1231 on the 22nd of the Month of Entangling Roots, by the Imperial Calender, or the 29th of Worm if you go by the pagan Mestrian timekeeping, the Red Child, more commonly known as Malik the Joker sat in the Mages Spire in the Rector's palace. Dim lights flickered about the room, created by red continual flames, reflected by small mirrors, casting strange and wonderous shadows against the shuttered windows, no natural light falling against the pallid skin of the child wizard. The child wizard, dressed in red against his ivory skin, sat brooding, as the pale lights played across his smooth face and blonde wispy hair, his hands templed beneath his chin, the huge throne of the court wizard almost swallowing his skinny form.

After minutes of brooding the child called out, in a predatory tone, his mouth revealing elongated canines.

"Domaci! Fetch me my scrying mirror. The mercenaries should have reached the Trajkovska manse by now."

So it was that several tiny and withered black goblins dragged in a large ornate mirror and placed it before the child, holding it so that the child could get a good view. With an unearthly hiss at his lack of reflection the child quickly incants in an ancient langauge and pours a decanter of water onto the mirror, which clings to the vertical mirror as if it was merely placed on the ground. With a final incantation the waters begin to swirl and then shows a picture of a scene some 20 miles south west.

A half-orc warrior dressed in laminated bands, with a Vargarian made longsword strides forward with his companions. A shadowy elf with a crossbow, another wild looking elf armed with a longbow, a hulking suit of armour with sword and shield, a human arcanist and a handsome human duelist in red walk up a gravel path. They bicker and discuss tactics and the child moves the view of the scrying mirror with a wave of his hand, now showing the parties approach to a crumbling manor.

The child watches as the party break in, and the shadowy elf goes to steal a golden urn in the centre of the floor, suddenly falling through the trapped floor with a quiet yelp as he scrabbles to hold his position on the falling floor tiles. The duelist shouts out as his friend is swallowed whole by the floor, and paces around the rim of the trap, assessing his friend's demise.

The child back in Sice begins to snigger, as he will many times during the next hour of the mercenaries casing of the manor, though he has a second mirror brought in and scrys upon the fallen elf.

The child sights elven crossbowman in his second mirror as he pulls himself free of the constricting tentacles of some horrid beast with a gaping more, and scrambles up the sides of a spiked pit. The elf wanders through a twisting cavern, cracks open an adamantium gate's lock and explores a pitch black side corridor that the child identifies leads deeper into the hollow, the elf turns back at a dead end and continues past a cavern of glowing mushrooms, dodging between giant cephalopods as they squelch over the tree like mushrooms. He avoids a giant mushroom entrapped in a clearly arcane device, that warps the screen and the vision of the scrying, he even sneaks past a sleeping horde of Domaci and up a staircase before finding himsekf foiled by a dead stone end, which the child sniggers at. The elf marks the wall with chalk, and the child laughs in his tower. The elf returns and heads down the final corridor, becoming trapped in the crypt chamber when he triggers a wall of fire.

Meanwhile above for half an hour the merecenaries pick locks, break doornobs and look for loot amongst the large manor house, all viewed through the shining scrying mirror by the child, who occasionally re incants to refresh the spell. Occasionally one of the party members fade from sight of the mirror as the spell falters against their byological fields, resistant as they are to the arcane. The mercenaries steal a few gems, a troll's hand in formaldium, an arrow frog in an arcanarium, as well as an elven bow and sword, taken from the manse owners studies. The duellist is frozen by a magical snake sigil in a book as he reads out the words, and the gholamyridon warrior picks him up and carries him through the manor until the wizard can dispel the enchantment. Finally they find what the child has been looking for, a ring of arcane power, underneath the pillows of the manor's master bedroom.

"Time to go you fools…" mutters the vampyre, checking both his scrying mirrors, though mercenaries cannot hear him. He is forced to watch as the shadowy elf unwisely wakes up the vampyre spellsword Trajkovska and is drained of his blood after divulging the plans of his erstwhile allies above and making the bloodpact. The eight shadowy brides of the vampyre then inter the bloodless corpse of the elf in a spare wooden coffin. They return to their sleep as the vampyre arms himself. The vampyre turns and looks dead into the eyes of the child, so many miles away.

"I see you Malik," he says with venom and the mirror goes blank with a wave of his hand.

The child is then forced to watch as his employees dither in the manor and fight a brief skirmish with animated armour before proceeding out to investigate the chapel behind the manse, stealing the manor's silverware as they go.

All the while the child knows, they are now being hunted.

It is in the chapel, fronted to be a cathedral of Dragar, that the mercanaries find a fane to Karganath that spills blood like a fountain and is silent and lifeless as the grave. Whilst they inspect it for trap doors, the vampyre sneaks in behind them and shuts the door.

They have a dialogue and the elf hunter fades into the shadows at the sight of trouble, the gholamyridon refusing to hand over the ring to a creature of the night. The iron warrior charges and the vampyre draws his black sword and engages in a bloody dance, parrying and swaying and incanting his dark arts. The half ork charges, his mighty blow sweeping aside the vampyre's guard and burying itself in his side. The vampyre ripostes, carving into the kensai's neck, the purple lifelblood of the half ork gushing forth over the floor as the duellist throws him the adamantium stake. The ork makes a last ditch attempt to stake the vampire and he is effortlessly parried as with a final gush of blood he falls over dead the stake rattling to the floor.

The vampyre laughs and looks at the duelist and commands him to retrieve his amulet from the iron warrior. The duelist obeys with sudden pallour and the vampyre moves to the dead ork and chanels the void into the body, raising the once proud warrior as an infernal zombie. It is then that the fight spills outside and the vampyre cloaks himself in his dark robes. The warforged runs, and is brought down by the ranger who has returned to combat, and the duelist, who hand over the ring to the vamoyre in exchange for their lives. With a last ditch effort however the elf throws the duellist the stake, and the duellist moves to end the vampyre, and subsequently has his left leg removed precisely at the hip and his head lopped off before he hits the ground. The vampyre laughs and lets the elf leave with his life.

The last thing the child sees is the ranger looting his erstwhile companions and tying the gholam to a log and pushing him down stream in a nearby brook. He then leaves. The wizard, hiding for the combat, recovers the warforged where he has become stuck against a log and they set off to the south of the Republic.

It is here that Malik ends his scrying.
"Fetch me Lorenzo de Firente." He says calmly to the crowding Domaci.
"I have need of his expertise".


SESSION 5
Following our encounter with the Vampyre of Caserly Manor, I suffered substantially from shock. Two of my dear companions were dead, and the 3rd had apparently turned against us on behalf of our foe. I owe a great debt to Elrohir, who recovered me some miles downstream and released me from my sunken tree-trunk prison. We took the decision not to pursue Cazar, as returning to Sice would mean facing the wrath of our erstwhile employer, and that owing to the arrows lodged in my joints, I would not be combat capable for some time. Instead we turned south, hoping to find a Magewright of sufficient skill to repair my armour. Our adventures during this period are recorded elsewhere, and need no further exposition. Suffice it to say, when our paths crossed again with this adventuring company, it was under rather different and altogether more polite circumstances. Of their adventures, I have discovered no better account than the following, penned by the esteemed mage Bael Lumino, companion to Cazar on this unusual leg.

Bael Lumino, Field Journal, Entry 2.
I am Bael Lumino, first officer and special attaché to the forward vessel of the 5th fleet of her majesty's navy. I know this, because it says so in my journal, page 1, paragraph one. I awoke, however, with no memory of this fact, nor any proof thereto but for a scorched naval uniform and the offhand comments of the nursing staff here at the hospital. I have since learned of my dishonourable discharge, apparently for the negligent misuse of battlemagic and the sinking of my prescribed vessel. I was ejected from the embassy shortly after waking, but not before attracting an equally miserable band of rabble to keep my company. The first of these is a deranged Viellan cleric with more money than sense. Slyte, apparently, has an immense affection for every living thing he meets, making him intolerable company. Wherever he goes he is dogged by peasants and layabouts who have heard of his incessant charity. The next is a wild-wizard, an elfin druid of some sort by the name of Azek. He is a practitioner of summoning and ice-magic, a useful if potentially dangerous companion who has clearly spent little time in civilised society. Yet his ill-manner pales in comparison to the lout 'Punchcat', a hulking Halfthrope from the north, adventuring in search of "worthy prey for punching". There is some good news however; I managed to trade a complete Spellbook from him for the measly price of 1 gold drake. I relish the chance to decipher it's secrets. Finally there is a common-sense archer by the name of Cazar. By the cut of his cloth, I will have at least on sensible, civilised comrade in this new venture of mine. We rescued him from some local guards, who had decided to persecute him for some other adventurer's misdeeds. All told, we have been thrown together by a shared desire to leave Sice post haste, and are currently sat in a down-at-heel establishment, awaiting contract with a sea-captain like common mercenaries. As the Shifter takes up a nerve-grating beer-song with some dwarven sailors, our potential employer arrives.

We have secured passage out of Sice, bound for the the city of Zylhrad, the underground Capital of the Ocean Homes aboard the Slyvan Spear, a Caravel. Slyte negotiated an acceptable fee with the Captain, a she-elf named Talaelade, evidently aroused by the joust of wits. Her bizarre behaviour bodes ill for her capacity as a navigator, but we can only hope for the best. We will guard her vessel as it carries cargo up the coast through the canal-straits of the Underway. None of us having much gold for supplies, we board early on the morrow for our departure north.

The journey thus far has been uneventful. There is little privacy aboard and no escaping the wet-fur smell of Punchcat and the dwarven crew. We were forced to tack and retack much of the way due to contrary winds, lengthening our journey by some days. I have had no luck deciphering the spellbook; I share a wall with the captain's quarters and the noise of her and Slyte's incessant rutting has disturbed my concentration. I have often joined the elves amid the rigging to observe the sunset. With little else to occupy me, I have grown fond of this ritual and find it oddly comforting. Azek goes so far as to greet the dawn with the same attention, but it is somewhat too early for most of the crew.

We are lucky to be alive after fending off an attack on the ship. Vile fish-men came creeping over the side of the vessel, bringing the crew to battle in the flickering half-dawn of these hideous tunnels. Sharp-eyed Cazar was on watch, and his warning shouts brought us quickly to readiness. The creatures brought with them huge skittering monitor lizards, vicious clutching crab-spears and weird, adhesive shields. Punchcat barrelled into their ranks with crushing fists, scattering bodies and bellowing in Glibtongue. As he lashed about, wounds would bloom across his limbs and torso, yet mysteriously close as Slyte worked his magic below deck. But slippery forms kept pouring in, and soon we were forced to unleash our magic. Azek summoned a gang of blazing elementals, blasting aside the creatures in a wash of sizzling light, before hes lost control of a burly earth elemental and was pulled beneath decks and thrown about before the creature dematerialised. A few well-placed fireballs of my own broke the centre of their formation, sending them shrieking over the side but our fortune could not hold. A regrettable miscast rendered me insensate and severely damaged the mast and deck. My possessions were incinerated and I collapsed in exhaustion. Clearly I have not yet recovered from my earlier head-wound. Cazar took my place and harried the last of the creatures overboard with a flurry of arrows. With the attack repelled we surrendered to sleep as the crew went about their repairs. We will reach port in a few days, limping from the looks of it, but more-or-less intact. The captain assures me we will still receive our full pay. I should think so; an undamaged ship is no good to a dead captain. We acquitted ourselves well though the excitement, sharing an anointment in battle as a party. For all its discomfort, perhaps the mercenary life will not be so bad.


SESSION 6
Bael Lumino, Field Journal Entry 3

We limped into port at Zhylrad in open wonder. The mouth to the harbour is guarded by a monumental sculpture of Dragar, the Stormlord and The Great Dragon. The city itself is carved into 3 immense natural columns linked by piston-powered skybridges and lit by a Technomagical golden sun that hangs from the vaulted ceiling. The city district boasts a 'managrid node' powered, i suspect by two ancient bronze dragons at the heart of a volcanic spring.

Over an unwelcome invitation to guard the ship while at dock, we left Talaelade to her business, setting foot on solid ground with relish. After finding an acceptable inn in the Angry Bellows, we split up to explore the capital. Cazar and Azek went off in search of magical supplies, haggling for some time with an arcane artificer and selling our surplus equipment. In the marketplace, Punchcat intervened in a dispute between two dwarven smiths over a contract to one of several mercenary companies present in the city. In doing so, he heard tell of an order of warriors who fight only with fist weapons. Slyte and I shared an exasperated look, aware that our afternoon schedule had just been rewritten. Advising the dwarves to settle their dispute in 'the proper fashion' (with fists), Punchcat raced off in search of this mythic punching school. We arrived at the gates of the Battlerager temple wherein Punchcat demanded immediate admission. In short order he was taken before a Thunderfist Drill-Sensei, undertaking to clear an abandoned dwarven mine of foes, and return with a trophy from a slain monster. Thinking to divert any further damage, I ushered him out of the temple. We journeyed across the Krakenfort to the Adventurer's Guild to purchase a Writ of Salvage over a suitable ruin. On our return trip to the Bellows, Slyte was swept up with some sailors on a pub-crawl, disappearing for the remainder of the day and night.

The next morning we met up with our companions and discussed our new undertaking over breakfast. The elves agreed to continue our journey with Talalade to the next city, wherein we could obtain transport to the remote site. Cazar suggested we enlist the Captain and her vessel to aid in the operation, in exchange for a share of the salvage. Seeing no sign of Slyte, we took a vote and ventured again into the city. It was not long before I heard rumours of a bloodsport pit offering generous reward to willing competitors. Eager to display my skills on stage, I enrolled myself in an evocation match. Over my objections, my companions began happily placing bets on the contest. In the pit I would face a Tartarian Ambyromancer, a worthy and infamous breed of foe. The duel was quick yet incredibly complex, but unused to the alien calibrations of the mage-field employed by the dwarves, I ultimately drew in too much power and was struck down in my dazed condition. Undeterred, Punchcat and Azek invited me back into the ring for a group match later in the day. We were to be outnumbered, facing two burly human warriors and two mages. Their opening gambit was decisive, as we all succumbed to the strong grip of the Illusionist's conjuration of Evard's Black Tentacles. In frustration, I turned the full fury of my Angazzar's Searing Ray on the caster, regrettably sawing him in half. After Azek’s elementals cleared the remaining foes, we happily collected our reward. By good fortune I was able to palm the dead mage's spellbook without the moderator noticing. Cazar seemed equally smug, having also placed bets on the match. Slyte found us later for healing, accompanied by his ridiculous new bodyguard, a female Minotaur in glistening masterwork scales. She gave her full, unintelligible title in her native tongue, but it was quite beyond my abilities to pronounce. I shall have to think of a nickname. Slyte reported that they would remain at the ring for the rest of the week, as the organizers offered a substantial salary for magical healing. Leaving him to his profits, the party separated for the rest of our shore-leave. Punchcat left his gold and possessions with me for safekeeping and embarked on a week-long carouse with the Battlerager monks. I settled in to decipher my new spellbook, but to my frustration, our rooms were assailed by constant deliveries of seafood in the days of his absence. The culprit of this malodorous practical joke remains at large. On the last day we received an indecipherable note bearing the letterhead of the Council Bailiff, marked with a dirty paw-print, and some lettering that if my reading of it is correct read 'HALP'. Aware of our imminent appointment with Talaelade, I hurried over to the dungeon. Just the Caravel began its slow glide from mooring, Punchcat and I arrived at full pelt, leaping aboard at the last moment. He would explain, when recovered, that he had reached an ideological impasse with the city watch, and had spent some time in a rather dismal cell recovering from belly-flux. Reunited at last, we toasted our departure with buckets of seawater, hosing down the mangy warrior as the Sylvan Spear slipped north towards the Daggersea straits


SESSION 7
Bael Lumino, Field Journal Entry 4

Within these caverns, it is easy to forget that day follows night. Our journey north to the Artificiary of Grynnblüb provoked no challenge from the Fishfolk - a relief; in this perpetual dusk, we have found it difficult to sleep, growing fatigued. The Artificiary was a bustling hub of industry, built straight into a crawling glacier. We are one of the only enterprises present in the city not of dwarven-kind. As impressive as the multitudinal wonders of craftsmanshift are however, we are mainly here for resupply. The party makes only a short visit to one of the more mundane workshops, to place orders for equipment on return. The smith agrees to lay out plans for each item, but will only begin work upon payment. Satisfied with the deal and dreaming of the profits of this venture, we return to theSpear for the final leg.

We have reached A48. The ruin was clearly once a bustling mine, but a seige and evident wyrm attack have cleared it's halls centuries since. The bodies of the armoured defenders are rotted and rusted into worthlessness. Punchcat declares that the site will be known as "Ankraad". According to the crew, this translates loosely as "Punchville" in local Dwarvish, though in actual fact may be closer to "Knuckle town." I have elected to keep this fact to myself. Within the shattered gates we find the remains of the worker's habitation. A large square, with the arched roof and impressive columnry characteristic of dwarf-cities stretches into the lightless distance. We find a warren of square stone houses, and deeper still, a fungus farm and working Manaforge. Massive stores of valuable ore lay unreaped around the manufactory. Unfortunately the city is such a maze of crumbled tunneds and vertical drops that we frequently become lost, forced to retrace our steps. We return to the living quarters with what meagre salvage we can find, before beginning our ascent to the upper levels. Cazar spots a filthy dwarf survivor, scant seconds before she is struck by an unseen crossbowman. The unfortunate dwarf plunges to her death at the bottom of a pit before our ranger can reach her. We redouble our caution and press on upwards.

Here an aqueduct supplies an immense freshwater lake, fairly teeming with the luminous deep-sea game. Above us, a scarred statue of Dragar holds the roof on his shoulders. His temple is in ruin though, it's relics plundered. Increasingly, I conclude that the dwarves who dwelled here fled in advance of the attack. The destruction wrought by the invaders seems to be me mere frustration and vandalism. As we approach the shattered altar an unearthly scream erupts across the water; a hideous horde of rotting skeletons are shuffling forth from the lake! From their stature, it seems clear some dwarves remained behind to fight the invaders. Attracted by the racket, a gang of hooting ghouls also scuttle out of the dark, stampeding towards the exploration party. Battle is joined! I unleash a furious rain of fire upon the undead, scorching and cooking many before they reach the shore; a great, swirling column of steam is conjured. The Captain, Slyte and their bodyguards take up a defensive stance behind a broken wall. Cazar and Punchcat also claim their territory, stampeding about smashing foes with overwhelming, combined force. Azek drifts aloof of the fray, commanding a tide of roaring elementals, laughing as they roll up our enemies from one flank to the other. The air-creature spits the blacked remains of the ememy back into the sand, after I flick a Fireball at the creatures tumbling at it's center. The remaining enemies break and flee.

The upper reaches of the settlement already play host to a Blood-Elf mercenary contingent from nearby Vael. They have burrowed into the ruin from above. We came to a standoff wherin we feared that violence might break out. A full company of archers hang above us; such a conflict would go ill. Their Captain comes forth to negotiate with Punchcat over territorial rights. He sends Taladael and Slyte as his emissaries. The elves agree to keep to the boundaries of the Writ, providing we do not interfere with the settlement's Runeshield. We also withdraw, having reached the outer limit of A48. Taladael calls on her crew to begin loading the ore and salvage. We make a final dsecent to check the security of the mine.

More stinking fishmen toil below. We run them off with a surpise attack but many escape into the watery sinkhole at the mines' lowest depth. To protect our investment, the party agrees to remain behind; there is still unprocessed ore to reap, and the late discovery of 16 damaged Skorpion artillery pieces may yet make this venture properly lucrative. Taladael offers to make the sale back in Grynnblüb on our behalf. I still don't trust her. We decide to send a party-member with her as insurance, and Slyte offers himself. I am less than pleased that our 50% stake will lay in his hands. Slyte retorts that he has never been anything but generous to us. Wealth has little meaning to Viellans I suppose. At any rate, it can't be helped. The Spear has begun the two day journey back to the Artificiary.

We have been subject to ongoing and unpredictible attacks by the denizens of this mine. Punchcat and I faced down a tide of Fish-Lizards that had been breeding in one our the storage rooms. A blood-starved vampyre wandering the Underway also caught our scent, and was only seen off by the combined magic of Azek and myself. We were even faced with a juvenile waterdragon, slithering around in the slush beneath the dig. A few of Cazar's arrows drove it underwater, but we are sure it will return. Only 3 days have passed so far, so at best Slyte reached Grynnblüb in the night. We must hold the breach against the creatures of the deep, else our prize - the Skorpions - will be lost to us.


SESSION 8
I was fortunate, in my recent travels, to overhear a familiar name during my stay at a Mestrian roadhouse. To my wonder, I heard related -in the form of a notorious tavern-shanty -one of the earliest exploits of my erstwhile companions in the Dwarven realm! I later located a full transcript of the ditty in a historical text, which I have referenced below. I believe this little piece of history began it's life as a poem comissioned by Bael Lumino, in celebration of his party's return to Zhylrah. The Bard's College deny responsibility,considering it amatuerish and 'basically without structure.' Nevertheless, accompanied by a fiddle and a choir of stomping ale mugs, this song can be heard across the province, even all these decades later.

From gloomy loch took iron stock, our foundling heroes forth,
Brash Lumino, fair Avalail and Azek of the north.
From deep and dimlit dungeon did Cazar the archer come,
and frozen reach, from bur'ned beach, Punchcat the Vikingsson.

For gold, and aye, for glory did the fledgling party crave,
But twixt the sunked dwarfen forts, a thousand likely graves.
Aboard the swiftest Sylvan Spear the journey west began,
When came the creatures, slithering, the venomous fishman.
For the denizens of Underdark, at Punchville did abound,
where cannibals and skeletons in hooting hordes were found.
But let us sing of fairer things, of wizards great and swordsmen proud,
I’ll tell their tale of battles won, and the sack of Knuckletown!

So forth into the Daggersea, the heroes sought their fate,
among the stones and broken bones they found the shattered gate.
Within they saw, like yawning maw, a chasm deep, the mines were still;
In bygone age, of dwarven flesh, a Dragon ate it's hearty fill.

So steadying their courage into sightless pit they went,
Against the creeping fishmen there, they singing arrows sent.
And further still, Ancestral crypt, where 'neath the ceiling Dragar kneeled,
but 'ere their feet on holy tile, forth from the water, foe revealed!
Undead to take, back to their lake, fair blood in recompense,
The party bold, 'mid deathly cold, unleash'd the Punchcat hence!
With might fist, with sword and spell, with arrows swift and element,
They did prevail, their foe thrown back, the evil dead, they did relent.

Yet pride would ebb to verge of fear,
as foes throughout the night appeared,
both crawling beast, blood-sucking fiend,
so in the dark, the brave convened.

Their goal, they knew, was close at hand, for near were vaults of master-make,
amid the ancient armoury, rich salvage were they sure to take.
A final time they sallied out, and 'gainst the foe prevailed!
For in the deep, a worthy rout, the Dragon they assailed!

And lo, my friends, on haunted plain, or forrest wild, or mountain range,
Wherever one adventure finds, there shall be five companions strange.

In dungeon won, their earn'ed prize,
From scaly foe their fortune prized,
Now to behold, an august thing,
the Hero Circus, wandering.

Notorious Mestrian tavern-shanty "Hero Circus", circa 1251, Era of the Empire, by Aerith Bloodbow; Mestria: A History, Vol IV.

Bael Lumino, Field Journal, Entry 5

I would barely see my companions in the months after the Dwarven Ruin. We split our gold and went our separate ways, remaining in Zylhrad but all busy with our own tasks. Punchcat would be locked in with the Battelragers, emerging 12 months later with an air of fierceness about him and (puzzlingly) a backpack clinking with bottles. Slyte would be equally absent, although we heard much of his exploits. Purchasing a small building in the merchants district he has started a Viellan Temple of sorts, where people would come to be trained in the ways of the Daemon Mother. Coincidentally he does walk with a certain air he did not have previously so perhaps his Goddess is pleased with this service. Azek and I lived in a similar accommodation for most of the year, both engrossed in our separate studies. We spoke at length about Elementalism as he was curious as to my beliefs in the matter. I also spent some time at the local Library where I met one Merikh, an Eladrin mage who was less than forthcoming about his past. Bored of booklearning I joined the local Krakenguard as an attache and have been gifted the rank of Mage-Sergeant. Through this position I believe I have found a job that may bring my companions and I back together once more.


SESSION 9
Bael Lumino, Field Journal Entry 6

Letter received Vaeron, 10th month of the Reborn Flame, EE1232, Imperial. Or Monsdag, 16th of Ice in the Mestrian Calander. It appears I have been copied in on a letter to one Sergeant at Arms Hammerbreath of the 27th Springguards.

Sergeants, you have been relinquished of your normal duties of defense and patrol of the Spring pillar. You may have heard about the minor infernal interventions occurring in the city of Kazir. We are redeploying your unit to investigate the daemonic presence there. Whatever abyssal 'mischief' that is going on in Kazir must be put to a stop, and it is your priority to find out what daemonic force is preparing itself in Kazir. You are to find the source of the infernal forces and destroy whatever or whomever it is before things truly get out of hand.

As the Longbeard Vulgon Firehammer of the xenophobic Northern Compact once said: "Where Viella touches, destruction shall also touch, so shall we crush her fingers before they can grasp at our souls, with the weight of dwarven steel." Despite the overt fundamental Draganism of this statement, the metaphor is analogous to your mission. The Council of Voices and the Honored Wyrms have already determined that this is not some Viellian mischief-ritualism but something else at play. Whilst they continue to scry for anwsers and to commune with other planes, we are deploying you as our eyes on ground in Kazir.

You will pass through Thurdid-Grynnblaub on your way to Kazir and each member of your squad will be issued with either a Cold Iron weapon, or two quivers of Cold Iron quarrels or arrows.

You have permission to contract any specialists or additional military consultants on standard military wage, as this is a matter of highest priority. Lord Krakenshield's Mage-Diviner has assured me that the the enclosed amount of a months pay up front for an extra 6 consultants should meet the predicted needs of the party. Enclosed also is a map of Kazir. Dock-Sergeant Rogan Bluesteel of the Krakenguard Eastwatch, will be your liaison in Kazir.

Find out what's happening in Kazir and stop it. I need not mention that Kazir is our most important trading port with the all of Eastern Mestria and the Axun-Lyssia.

Lieutenant-Champion Grothan Oceanhammer, Krakengaurd Dragonshields

Bael Lumino, Field Journal Entry 7
I have been called to the defense of the dwarven realm; I am to lead a contingent of the mighty Krakenguard to Kazir, where a daemon infestation plagues the populace. As of yet, we do not know how the creatures penetrated the runeshield. For this reason, I have concluded that only an intentional act of sabotage could explain the phenomenon. It falls to us to investigate and resolve the matter, stamping out the beasts and slaughtering their summoner. I have been allocated a sum of gold to contract specialists - I preferred to hire my companions from the Punchville salvage. It is better to have folk about me I can trust, and I fear the dwarves still consider me an outsider. With the departure of Cazar, our party was one member short, so in light of the nature of our foe, I extended an invitation to Merikh. He gladly accepted the offer (even at mercenary rates!) and joined us on our journey West.

I have some experience in naval expoits -apparently - though I recall little enough of it. Much of this expertise has returned to me, as once again the party found itself in battle upon the water. We ran across a pirate raider as it boarded a merchantman in tunnels of the Daggersea. The Krakens were eager to fight, so in we leapt. The dwarven bandits were caught unawares, but responded fiercely once they had our measure. They held against our intital surge, but were driven back as the party joined the fray. Their leader his pet sorceror proved a challenge at first. My new companion Merikh and I were tested heavily by his skills, but managed to dispel his every incantation. Our usual tactics have proven effective once more; Azek's elementals rampage about, crushing enemy formations, as our wizards add to the chaos with Evocation spells. Any survivors flee into the reach of Punchcat. And so it went. The Sergeant was less than pleased when his duel with the Bandit Chief was interrupted; a stone-elemental reached over his head and snapped his opponent's neck. Apparently this insulted his dwarfish sensibilities. No matter; once we were through questioning the survivors we hurled them back into the canal and the Cheiftan was returned to life as Merikh's undead servant.

Kazir is a military fortress whose farming efforts have outpaced it's usefulness as an outpost. Consequently this outlying town does a roaring trade in Mushroom products and of course, dwarvish artefacts with nearby nations. Upon our arrival we made arrangements swiftly for our accomodation. A safehouse was established in the docks, guarded at all hours by a rotating shift of Krakens. We visited the site of the most recent incursion of daemons, imps mostly they say. The inn was a ruin, and a broken circle of summoning lay in the basement. There we also found an expended wand of Invisibility.

Next we visited the Rune- Keeper, an old White-Elf with access to the Athyric Disruption Registry. I took notes from his mighty ledger, but nothing leapt out at me as perculiar. We will dedicate the rest of the afternoon to questioning the common folk. It has become clear than this incident was not been the first, and we hope to catch wind of our elusive perpetrator in the gossip-dens of the Tavern district.

On an entirely different note that accursed Bard seems to have penned a less than flattering poem about me. I really do regret hiring him sometimes.

The once Great Battlemage, Lumino Palefire, so fair and bold,
Nothing could stand against his fire, not even pure cold,
He came to the City, in search of evil, twas' besieged by daemons old
He was a great soldier, Imperial you see? And he had a duty to do what was told,

The first place he looked was the node logs, as a mage clever was he,
The Flaming Mug inn was next, the site of a devils incursion,
But only a broken circle was found, nothing else could he see,
So he sought information from some worthy folk, of a version,
And the Miller’s Wife was the first and last in this spree!

It was the Miller’s Wife whom he spoke to, O what a terror was she!
With a voice like a banshee, terribly she shrieked I am told,
Enough to make even the mighty battlemage, the Battlemage flee!
For daemons are evil, but goodwives another, especially for one so bold,
Oh brave Lumino, when will you learn, that the Miller’s wife is braver than thee!

Translation, "The Miller's Wife and the Battlemage", circa 1250, Era of the Empire, by Fryn Moonsong; Mestria: A History, Vol II.


SESSION 10

SECURE-COMMUNIQUE: FIELD REPORT - KYOSIS INCIDENT 1/1231
Mage-Sergeant Bael Lumino Reporting

In accordance with the Security Enforcement (Procedural Directives Ammendment) Act 801 s6(b), command dispatched my unit to Kazir to investigate a slew of reported daemonic manifestations. At my discretion, I employed the adventuring party 'the Hero Circus' to supplement the investigative expertise of the Krakenguard.

Initial investigation revealed that a permanent summoning circle beneath the (x) Inn had been broken by an interloper using a Wand of Invisibility. Other such disruptions caused outbreaks around the city, primarily imps or variants thereof. It came to our attention that that the Runeshield had been malfunctioning, though whether due to sabotage or other forces remains unclear. Repairs have at this stage have not begun, despite my urging.

Our investigation led ultimately to suspect that the Guild of Thieves was involved. The trail led to a Master Ironhand local business-man and crime-boss. I was forced to deal in exchange for his information, but it proved a worthy trade. Under interrogation he revealed links to the infamous Blue Serpent whose representatives were in the city. Responding to this imminent threat to security, I marshalled the local Krakenfort for an ambush on the criminal meeting. Ironhand left the city with his family in tow.

We were able to quickly cordon the district, but the criminals caught on as we closed the trap. We fought a fierce battle across Ironfoot Bridge under fire from mercenary bolts and illusionary evocations. We fought street-to-street and house-to-house until we captured the mage leading them. The operation was smoothly executed with minimal casualties, but I must regretfully report that we were duped. I believe the Blue Serpent staged this entire incident as a distraction, hoping to draw the city's troops away from their usual duties securing important sites. The skeleton security forces left in place were overwhelmed as operatives of this devious organisation flooded out of the sewers to rob key targets around the city. I have reports from the Bank of Daggersea, the Church and the Palace that relics from their vaults were stolen at this time. We are interrogating the survivors of our ambush, but so far they seem to be primarily hired swords, belonging to the mercenary company the League of Giants.

Commander, I consider that our presence in Kazir serves no further purpose. I have terminated our contract with the Hero Circus and will return to Zylrhad for censure if that is your decision. However, I have positive leads on the Silver Wheel's grip on Daggersea, and would humbly beg permission to continue this investigation. I await your orders.

Mage-Sergeant Bael Lumino

SESSION 11

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