Tales of the Shattered Coast


Here follows the account of Ogren Silverpeak, Prince of Uhnsrad and founder of Ironsail Industries, EE 1232 Reborn Flame.

My entry into the business of sea-trade has come about sooner than I projected. I am freshly come to the post of Shipmaster of a shallow-keeled skiff called the Dawnthief. It seems too grand a title to hold over so modest a vessel, but I intend to remedy my situation presently. The port city of Stalanzas lies on the horizon, our destination, safe-haven and springboard for a lofty venture. In arriving at this post I conclude a chapter of significant danger and hardship. I predict I shall face no lesser perils forthwith, but this time forewarned, forearmed and in the company of good fellows.

Until recently I had accompanied a distant cousin of mine, Cpt Thori Stonebones aboard his vessel the Stout in a survey of land between the Trade Sea and the Shattered Coast. It had long been my intention to bring about the digging of a sea-lane - a canal - to open trade between Eladria and the city-states of Illion, Vythnos, Trantras and Tul'Khaargar. My accounting of the venture projected a recoup of costs within 1 or 2 years on fees and berthage alone, quite apart from the significant trade oppurtunities in fur, exotic pelts and rarities, spices, magical salvage, raw materials, slaves and other lucrative goods that would be opened up to the family. I had visited all 4 states and achieved provisional support from several merchanting houses for concessions and pledges in exchange for covering the cost of the project. In the closing weeks of the 10th Reborn Flame I met with representatives of Vach'Yris and the Autarch of Illion to negotiate title to the lands in question; though provisionally within the bounds of the Kingdom of Unsrhad I considered it prudent to assuage any concerns held by these nearby military powers. I returned to the site aboard the Stout in the company of a Sapper-Engineer from House Lorynis, a lawyer from House Yris, a banker from my father's household and a representative of the Prince of Tantras, whom I believed simply wanted to feel involved. I realize now that I undertook this project too openly; so far from the political arena of Unsrhad I had allowed myself to feel free of the need for guile. My intentions were now well known in several ports and my affection for the project, public. It is clear I had alerted some force against whose interests this increased trade would weight. While at berth on an island across from the proposed site, the Stout was burned to the waterline in the dark of night. It is with grief I record the death of my cousin Thori, whose body I recovered. The fate of the other passengers is not known to me; the only soul aboard I can discount as the saboteur is the Prince's man Zaxyrrian Fellsnow. By a true stroke of Dragar's favor, the young Tiefling and I had fallen in to a bout of drinking upon the shore, discussing geopolitics - in which we shared, I confess, a fierce interest. I had assured Grom, my bodyguard, that I would be safe; what peril could this tiny island truly offer? His death is also on my concience. Sadly such is often the burden of leadership. We survived for some days on salvage from the ruined vessel, though Zax insisted on attempting construction of raft to make our way back to land. I councelled patience to the impetuous fey; though educated in many matters, he had yet to learn the virtue of good dwarfish sense. Sure enough, shortly before our supplies ran out a ship was seen to pass our way. Zax summoned a magical flare and we were welcomed aboard by a tattooed elf named Heldun.

The ship was bound north to Stalanzas carrying industrial supplies. I spent the days aboard drafting letters of commiseration to the Houses of the missing passengers of the Stout and ordering the return of funds already paid into the venture. The cost has been high in life, but I remain - to my relief - square in gold with all parties. Even so, I must consider my next step carefully.

Among the unremarkable crew I take note of First Officer Havelock, formerly of the Mestrian Imperial Navy. He is the true commander of the vessel, as Captain Heldun spends much time preening before mirrors or scuttling about in the rigging like a senseless, airsick - well, elf. Havelock's competence is complemented by the Bosun, a ferocious Orkoid aptly named Wolfblood. He wields whips and threats against the crew with equal relish. Finally there is a Tartarian Deva named Haraldir; much like we royalbloods of Dwarfkind, such creatures are blessed with ancestral traits prized by their people. Whatever these may be, he has demonstrated a singular skill in Windweaving, by which he has paid his passage. I adopt the alias of Cannonhammer, a middling merchantman; I am yet wary of trusting any other than Zax with my true identity. Nevertheless, I suspect the others sensed something of my true character.

On our third night at sea we were roused by the shouts of the watchmen as a sail and colours emerged from the mist; the jolly roger! I was hurled into wakefulness by the impact of the pirates' ramming action, and the deck was soon awash with Lycan cut-throats. Though I listened to the commotion above, I remained steadfast and fully donned my armour; it is never wise for a leader to show himself shaken or unprepared. At any rate, I was shortly joined below by a tide of attackers. A fierce resistance was put up, not least by Havelock and his contemporaries; he was beaten blue and bloody in defense of his slaughtered Captain rather than succumbing to capture. I could put on no lesser display of grit; we were both dragged before the unwashed beastman who they called Captain, who gave his name as Xiang. Setting about with threatening torches, the creature demanded our servitude or death. He was rewarded with a bloody gobbet from Havelock and myself, though Zax and the Orc wavered in the face of death. Gladly we were spared the choice. With a shout the beastmen scarpered, as a vessel of the Empress' Navy bore down on our damaged ship. We were hauled to our feet by the rough hands of the grey-elf marines, whose centurion demanded to meet the Captain. With the death of Heldun at Xiang's sword, command should rightly had passed to Havelock. Indeed I would come to rely greatly on his skill as a mariner in the coming weeks, but I alone had the personal resources to pay berthage and repairs for the vessel. I took responsibility for the ship and it's crew presenting myself as Shipmaster on the Warrant of Trade. In the hours that followed I assuaged the scepticism of the others and revealed my true identity and plans. With the departure of the Queen's Gambit we limped on towards Stalanzas. Off the Blackpowder Coast in the freewaters of Slaver's Run, we pledged loyalty to each other in a new enterprise, as officers of the Ironsail Trading Company. We would work to amass a network of buyers and clients, voyaging across the Shattered Gulf in search of adventure and profit. To my great approval, Zaxyrrian pledged to add to my investment, for which I gladly named him partner and company Senschal. That evening I began instructing him in simple economics. I am accounted by many an exceptional head for business, and Zax shows even greater promise.

We have arrived at the great shipyards of Stalanzas. Upon our way we happened across a skiffload of barbarian warriors from a local village, taking to the sea on the hunt for pirates and vagabonds. They treated us with hostility and suspicion and were rewarded in kind. We left them to their patrol. It seems this Xiang does not confine his piratical activities to the sea-lanes. Upon making berth Zax and I went to visit the finacial quarter. On our first stop we visit the office of Autarch to register our new incorporation. Next we moved on to procure foundation funds. House Fellsnow was represented in a small office in the Solanus Spire. A Lady Melkyr, aunt to Zaxyrrian was pleased to receive the business plan we had composed on our journey. We sought finances to commission a great ship and begin plying the seas for new markets and salvage. We negotiated for some hours over wine and lunch, before an amount of 2500 drakes was agreed upon. An account was opened in the company name at the dwarfish Bank, whereupon we thanked the lady and departed swiftly. Zax confessed that he couldn't believe his luck; I assured him that with proper resolve and solid preparation, any challenge could be overcome. Indeed we had another to face. We left the Fellsnow office and made for the teleportation circle.

With some little fanfare I returned to the ice-fortress of my adolescence. I joined the King at court for a lavish dinner, over which to discuss the venture and introduce Zax as my business partner. He was roundly very well received, particularly by my cousin Hilda. The royal treasurer, great-uncle Snorri, aproved of our initiative. My brothers were thankfully absent on other business, as I had dreaded their jealous interference. The next morning we depart the treasury carrying letters of credit in the amount of 5000 drakes - an amount (I suspect) that was reached sheerly as an act of one-upmanship to the contribution of the elves. The royal House of Silverpeak will retain a 2/3rds share in the company. Upon return to Stalanzas I visited a shipbuilder on the recommendation of great-uncle Snorri; Barrett and Bartholemeu is run by a reputable dwarf Mason formerly of House Lorynis and a retired gnomish Technomancer once of House Gythir. To their schema, I began ordering the vast quantities of iron, wood and cork that would be required for the great company flagship.

Back at port, Havelock had shooed away attempts by a local conman to swindle him out of the Dawnthief. As our only solid asset at this point, it would remain useful until it's sale in due course. Indeed it was shortly called into service with us at the behest of a mysterious elf in black. While I moved about the lofty circle of the city council, Zax and Haraldir had been plying the dank drinking holes of the grey quarter, home to all manner of scoundrels, scallywags, sea-dogs and Mage college rejects. It was here we hoped to catch wind of an old sailor's tale with a ring of truth, a legend of buried treasure, sunken magitech wonders or other long-forgotten plunder. With luck, one would provide salvage enough to fund the next step of our business plan. In the course of this investigation Zax was approached by a cloaked figure of great menace. In the shadows of the Tumbletower common room he negotiated a single, off-the-books commission for a smuggling voyage. Upon agreeing, we hastily assembled a crew and departed on the morrow bearing 10 mysterious chests.

Though the voyage has been easy and the weather favorable, we are plagued with problems among the crew. Within a few days we discovered a crewman drunk at his post, forcing the Bosun to mete out harsh punishment with his lash. Though I have of course experienced life on a military campaign, I was unaware of the peculiar savagery of naval discipline. Near death, the sailor spent the rest of the journey in recovery. Even worse, a conspiracy among the crewmen to conceal the culprit of a shipboard murder necessitated a lengthy investigation at sea. When the guilty man was finally identified, he was summarily keelhauled by executive order. Eager to avoid notice in Illion, we slunk into dock and waited tensely as imperious Dwarven Antimancers collected the goods. Relieved to be free of that burden, we rested the night in preparation for a long day of haggling.

On the morrow I ventured to the slave-markets of Yris. Within a few hours we had secured payment for bearing a shipment of slaves on our return journey. Though my companions were eager to depart I have resolved in business never to make a wasted trip. It has served me well thus far. Pocketing a tidy profit for the voyage, I passed the week northward continuing the instruction of my talented new student of commerce. With the rising sun, Stalanzas greeted us once more from the horizon.


EE 1232, Tigress-Howling Wolves

Havelock came by today to float a paramilitary venture he has been offered by a scion of Ravansa. Zax was clearly keen to obtain my approval, so I entertained the discussion over a light lunch at Flint's Coffee House. I quickly resolved to avoid involvement, but offered some non-specific advice as to the advantages of cavalry in raiding efforts against unprepared infantry. I observed offhand that a Hobgoblin mercenary Captain by the name of Kroc was also known to be present in town and bid them non-specific 'good fortune' in whatever affairs they cared to take up in the intervening week. They left this morning, leaving me with a few days to myself. I have received letters from our suppliers confirming my purchase of several key materials for our as-yet unnamed flagship. Barrett returned to me the final plans for the vessel, styled to fit the class of 'blockade runner'. Next I visit the technocrats of House Gythir - I am to attend a demonstration of some artillery pieces lately arrived from Eladria.

The other crewmembers have returned from their mission in the wilderness to report success. Havelock has negotiated the provision of crew for our new vessel, pre-trained in pole-arm weapons by House Ravanza. Though I am somewhat hesitant to employ a crew owing loyalty - even provisionally - to an outside body, the savings on the cost of training are considerable. I offer Havelock my congratulations. Their mission was to reassert the control of a rural region on behalf of a mercenary house. The villagers there had taken to defending their own borders, sending out militia and archers to patrol the forrests. The malignant Kroc and his Hobgoblins had performed their duty to Havelock's satisfaction, though not to specifications. The Captain kept his distance, masking himself and taking vantage outside the town's borders. Fellsnow was less cautious, joining the first foray alongside the scouts. The skirmishers snuck past the outer boundary and set fires about the militia's headquarters. As the panic started, they let their arrows and fireballs fall amid the fleeing peasants. Upon this signal, the cavalry issued forth into the square. Here I'm told the plan went somewhat awry, as the Orcs despite their instructions set about butchering every last villager in a mindless frenzy. It had been planned that those fleeing the village safely -indeed a projected majority - would spread the tale of the attack to surrounding villages. Forthwith House Ravanza's services would again be in demand, though it would have to wait for the next arrival of merchants or tinkers for the incident to become known. I am displeased that the Captain's plans were so readily derailed by these mercenaries. I should not have thought the instruction to be sloppy in their attack would be beyond the talents or comprehension of even Hobgoblins. Nevertheless. There has been gold won, and that is good. Even after an encounter with a Highwayman, which parted them with their meager personal purses, Havelock and Fellsnow arrived back in the city in good spirits. I suspect they were simply too lazy to fight him.

I have not been idle. Following the weapons demonstration I have made purchase orders to outfit our new vessel. The first order was for heavy skorpions and - I am pleased to record - a repeating pneumagical artillery piece of singular beauty. I was hard pressed in the decision to eschew a ballista; however the scarcity of such devices here in the north will doubtless give us an ongoing advantage of surprise, particularly as our vessel already punches above it's weight in firepower. I met again with young Barret at Flint's Coffee House. The patronage of a Dwarf royalblood has been good for their fledgeling operation's publicity. Two smaller commissions have come their way as a result. As we go forward I intend to press this in negotiations, as Barret seemed to realise today with the arrival of the great oaken beams we ordered from the East. The Ironsail Trading Company is now exempt from storage fees for materials at B&Bs. I will see what further concessions I can acheive on our next meeting. Best of all, as word of our venture spreads about Stalanzas, I am more often approached by persons of significance. At first I was forced to dispense those offering jobs well bellow board, or looking for naive investors. I consider this company to have a higher honour than the mere disposal of sick stock at sea. But I persist in the habit of doing my reading and book-keeping in a prominent booth at Flint's; in this way I have casually met a number of other businessmen and invited them to compare notes over lunch. One such is a Trader named Dartmoth, with whom I now meet often.
He related to me that while aground in the southern straits, he spied a forgotten ruin of the old human civilisation of Kroth. He seemed not to realise how lucrative a discovery this could be. I take note of the ruin's location and prepare a draft of supplies for a scouting journey. Of more immediate interest is the rumor arriving today, of a galleon reefed in waters off Vythynos. This I hear from Flint himself, now a great ally, overheard from the lips of a pair of naval mages. Here is an enterprise we are equipped to handle presently.

Having cobbled together a small temporary crew for the Dawnthief, we set out into the seas once more. Within a few days of our destination we spotted a sail on the horizon, coming up upon a galleon; this one appears quite intact. The vessel runs up colours for parley and we receive their delegation. A Captain Callister requested the assistance of our vessel in a salvage operation. It seemed that he too had heard tell of this reefing and hoped to use our shallow-keel to ply the uncertain waters. We had little option, to be frank. Callister had a far superior vessel and enough men aboard to overwhelm our small crew. His smile and good manners were threatening. We complied. Havelock was taken across with their contingent and we retained an Orcish bosun to match our own. The galleon was aground on rocks in Empire waters, so we were forced to creep along, straining our eyes at the horizon. Finally we sight the stricken craft, and a wreck it does indeed seem to be. A shame; this great old ship would have been a worthy find. Zax and the Captain accompany Callister aboard, but find only the gruesome remains of the vessels' crew. They have been cruelly and ritually tortured and slain, in a manner far exceeding the usual, casual depravity of pirates. We suspect the involvment of daemons. In the keel there is discovered a young human girl, perhaps 13. She is the only survivor, and tells incoherently of monsters. We take the poor creature aboard, thinking perhaps to return her to her suitor in Prude. Callister's crew begin unloading the mysteriously undisturbed cargo from the hold. He keeps to his word, turning over a 10% share of the stock to us. We sail off with some relief as he scuttles the ruined hull.

This morning we sighted a becalmed transport ship, afflicted with a broken mast. The captain is a dwarf of my home city, Brun "Broadbelly" by name. He relates that the Syverian Navy have been having sport with weaker ships of late, chasing or even firing upon them out of boredom and malice. I have the spare mast taken out of the hold; in the end we settle on a fair price close to market value. We set out with their thanks. They are bound for the pirate-port of Tul'Khaarga.

Upon approaching Stalanzas we become aware of a tension among the crew. On our thirteen night at sea, one of their number succumbs to a sudden, violent and unexplained death. The remainder become convinced that our journey has been cursed. I confess to some concern; against the possibility of their superstitiously blaming our young ward, we secret Alequin away in the Captain's cabin. To my discomfort, a portion of our salvage has vanished during the journey, and a palpable ill-feeling lingers over the remnant. Upon making port we swiftly arrange to have it sold. Concerned that the crew will spread tales, we put gold towards a stock of ale as a reward for their service. Even this does not especially please them, as we observe many nursing their drinks and looking about suspicously. Fellsnow puts about to learn the truth behind their odd behaviour but turns up no new information. I discharge them from service without further incident.

During our journey we had each become somewhat fond of young Alequin. I had taken to teaching her letters and numbers and Havelock often regales her with tales of his seafaring heroism to her great joy. She has been badly scarred by her ordeal however, and we can help only so much. I am troubled and uncertain what to do with her. She has formed an attachment to us, and I would think it greatly cruel to now leave her at an orphanage. She has no family to return to, save a suitor in the distant town of Prude whom she has never laid eyes on. Having now some months yet to spare before the completion of our vessel, we decide to journey out to look the man up. I forward letters telling him of the fate of the galleon but do not confirm the survival of his fiancee. Though bringing goods through the town will be a mere pretext, we take care in researching the best and most favourable stock for trade in Syveria. We settle on adamantium, putting our final share of investment funds into 25 ingots, a good dwarfish cart and some horses. Though autumn has begun, we judge we can make the journey there through several smaller towns and return before any serious weather arrives. Decked in furs and warm coats we depart with the dawn on the 11th of Howling Wolves.

Within mere days of leaving Stalanzas the savage character of the Syverian wilderness is revealed. In the gloom of dawn as we break camp, Fellsnow's sharp eyes catchs sight of a halslinking figure. He shouts the alarm as 5 hulking creatures lumber out of the trees. Painted cruedly in woodland colours, these hairy beasts defy categorisation. Eight feet tall, hunched and running on all fours in the manner of apes, the monsters bring about immense stone weapons. Their armour is stitched from the hides of wild game and their eyes are red. As they charge I am reminded forcefully of the old tales of evil snow-orcs or 'yetis' that roamed the mountains of legend. No relation to city Orcs these; their vicious strength is beyond mortal. As I weather an onslaught of blows upon my shield, I see one glance aside to blast a significant chunk of splinters out of an adjacent tree; the grand old thing begins to slowly splinter and inexorably fall. Fellsnow turns his flames upon them, weaving between the trees to evade their blows. Yet even his demonic speed cannot outpace them and he takes many deep wounds. The Yetis begin to drag him off, fighting over his stunned form. With a shout, Havelock barrels after them, hurling himself forward but bouncing ineffectively off their scarred masses. He too is struck with terrible blows and begins to bleed badly. A haphazard melee erupts along the road, as my two companions struggle bravely and desperately with the creatures. I wear down my foes with a relentless cascade of hammer blows to the skull yet they stubbornly refused to die. Leaking blood and brain matter, the last makes a final attempt to bite as I finally split it's skull. I leap upon our wagon and urge the horses forward, leaning across the driver's seat to bring a drive-by hammer blow down on another head. My companions leap aboard holding their wounds. We hear the hooting gibbon-roars of more Yetis in the distance and forge forward with urgent haste.

We have found refuge in a tiny village surrounded by a stake wall and strange wards and sigils. Superstitious nonsense though it may be, it is a sign that a witch-doctor or wise woman resides within. An old crone agrees to tend to Zaxyrrian's wounds, for they are the most dire. In his fevered state he agrees to sacrifice his token of House Fellsnow to pay her. Now we must wait, for if he lives through the night he will have a greater chance of surviving the remainder of our journey.


1232 EE Howling Wolves

The witch-doctor has done her work well and Fellsnow will survive his wounds. We have yet to wait some days for him to be in readiness for travel, so we make what use of the time that we can. Havelock and I spend hours each day discussing seacraft, and I begin to comprehend the wealth of experience he has accrued in his short life. I have also, to my amusement, discovered the exotic system used to administrate this village's trades. I visited their mayoral hall and shared an ale with their leading elder, who revealed much. It is almost entirely self-sufficient, with subsistence farming, hunting, building and repair professions undertaken and trained on a hereditary basis. The villagers also have several mines in the surrounding hills, used to furnish their own need for metal and to fill the coffers against any unforeseen need. No person in this town earns a wage, nor owns property, but the needs of each are seen to by an administrative council of elders, to whom informal petitions for goods or services may be made. It works very well for this micro-economy but seems a short step from the extinct and forbidden 'communism' of ages past. Equally I see little alternative for a people settled in the isolated part of wild, almost roadless Syveria. At any rate, their small need for gold made them quite pliable on price; I have traded fully half our stock of adamantium to the village council for a favorable return rate of nearly 1/3rd. I have secreted away the solid oaken coinbox with our profits in a compartment of our wagon.

With Zaxyrrian regaining his feet, we are again away on the road. Havelock has returned from Stalanzas with his newly commissioned crossbow, thinking it wise in light of our slower-than-predicted progress to better arm himself. Snow is falling heavily as we wind Eastward, and we are all glad of our fine woolen winter-cloaks. The Captain's initial insistence on sitting atop the roof receded in the face of the rising gale. We spend our 9th night in Syveria -only our third on the road - huddled beneath piles of furs in the wagon; we dare not set fires for fear of attracting more Yetis.

With the breaking dawn, Havelock sights the glint of marble in the forested distance. Overwhelmed by curiosity, we leave the road and wind our way up a mountain track, walking alongside the wagon to ease the burden on poor Molly. In a rocky elbow-bend we reach a crumbled high-elf ruin, snow-smothered and overgrown. We quickly agree that the chance of good salvage is too high to ignore. We load our packs with adventuring gear, arm up, light our lanterns and forge into the depths of the ruin.

This seems to be an abandoned 'manor-house' of a bygone society, likely the residence of an outcast wizard or alchemist. We make a creeping progress from room to room, searching through the junk and finding little of value. As we reach the second sub-level, we suddenly catch the unmistakable wet-animal stink of Yeti-kind! Soon their grunts and bellows can be heard echoing down the corridors, and with great apprehension, we stage a heroic charge into their lair. Aware this time of the creature's supernatural abilities, we press an overwhelming attack on each creature as soon as it is sighted. The pneumatic crack of Havelock's repeating crossbow is drowned out by the roar of Fellsnow's dragonbreath spells, and the bleating, panicked survivors run uncomprehendingly into the reach of Avalanche. We are blessed with good fortune as again and again we are able to spring upon our enemies with surprise. Many of the walls and doors are trapped, some even guarded by mindless astral guardians. But between the keen eyes of Havelock, good dwarfish stone-sense and Zax's nose for magic, we soon pilfer ever corner of the dungeon. The bodies of the monsters lay in bloodied heaps in every corridor, and I consider that we have done the people of the township a great service. At the very foot of the structure there was a great basement hall, lined with the wreckage and refuse left by the foul beasts. The last chamber was protected by a clockwork pit-trap which we made our best efforts to leap. With system of ropes and evenly-timed jumps, Havelock Zax and Alequin reached the stable pillar at the end of the trigger-plates. I, the heaviest, had waited for last in case the others needed to catch my fall. It was now, however, that we were set upon. It was now that a magical trap-spell of writhing black tentacles was triggered, lashing out to grasp my companions and locking them in place. I was powerless as the true mother of all Yetis lumbered out of the final room, dragging a Maul of some epic proportion. Alequin screamed mightily in terror and dropped limp into unconciousness. As she ceased her struggling, the tendrils dropped her to the floor and seizing my chance, I attempted to leap the breach across to her. Alas, a tentacle lashed across my shield mid-leap and I was cast, tangling into the pit below. I lay dazed for some time from the impact of my fall, by fortune cushioned by a fresh Yeti corpse. Over the screams, bellows and whip-crack discharges of force from above, I struggled to find an exit in the dark. After several desperate seconds I was rewarded as my fingers grasped a trapdoor lever. With a shout and burst of speed I charged back up the stairs to the chamber above. Though I had feared to see what mess the creature would have made of my companions, as I burst through the passage door I huffed with great relief. Havelock, his face a mass bludgeon-marks and bleeding from three great cleaves lay freshly fallen at the creatures feet. The carcass yet sizzled and popped with the scorching flames of Zax's magic, and it's innards trailed halfway across the chamber from the ghastly shredding wounds of springhead arrows. Nearby, a smoldering cookpot lay bubbling by a pile of elf-bones, our charming young seneschal strung up like a turkey for dinner. I hurried over to the fallen Captain and quickly staunched his bleeding. We were blessed beyond measure to have survived this misadventure, vastly overmatched and outnumbered by the unnatural creatures. We had allowed our early success to bloom into bravado, and I am greatly ashamed to say that I have dishonoured my teachers with this hasty and elf-like behaviour. I sternly tell my companions that as officers of the company, we shall all have to hold each other to a better standard of sense. The others wearily agree, and I break open a wineskin to toast our success.


EE 1232 Pale Lady

We have made a hurried return to the wagon, finding poor Molly quite distressed by the sounds and scent of Yeti emanating from the pilfered dungeon. Zax soothes her well enough that we can return to the road, hoping to reach Prude by nightfall. I affix the mighty skull of the Yeti Chieftain to the fore of the wagon, hoping to dissuade further attacks. Perhaps I will eventually mount it on my office wall, or sell it to a Carnyrmancer. At the very least it will be of interest to the slavers and beastmasters of the coast that creatures of such unnatural vitality actually exist, let alone that they are capable of sophisticated acts like cooking. If I should cause though these actions the extinction of this species in the wild, I shall surely be considered a minor local saint.

At midday we happen upon a stricken wagon and hear the echoing voices of its’ grounded passengers. A group of elvish traders have broken a wheel on the uncertain surface and stand astride the road arguing. Luckily for them, their axle was yet intact. We approach warily but soon strike an accord with them, observing that our wheels are of a size with theirs. We ‘sell’ them our wagon, but they take only one of the wheels; we will hitch a ride along with them for the remainder of the way, then return for the abandoned chassis.

Prude is a walled town with foul-tempered guards. They demand a ‘merchant’s tax’ at the gate, and so outrageous is the rate that I accuse them of grifting us. We are to pay 10% on the value of all our stock, including the arms and armor we have salvaged from our various attackers. Zax retorts angrily that their lord must be insane; this would wipe out most merchant’s expected profit from trading here, quite aside from the significant risk they would have borne to carry goods so far through the wilds. I concur – the town of Prude is isolated, surrounded by dangerous wilderness and self-deficient in many trades. The gatekeepers confirm that the town is sorely in need of many different goods, its’ markets barren. More astute leaders would reduce the cost of trading here in order to attract more merchants, as my father has done on occasion in Unshrad. The manifest idiocy and megalomania of this local lord has made me very wary of ever returning here. At least Zax has managed to secret away the magical items we recovered from the yeti-horde; his silver tongue spares us a more thorough search that would have revealed a number of hidden nooks and overlooked valuables.

The gatekeeper was right; though bustling with activity, we observe that the showing at market is poor. We are quickly swept up by the town watch and bustled off to speak to the town councilman. This haggard-looking steward bears our outrage with weary grace, relating that his liege has insisted on higher taxes and tariffs in response to the downturn. He also insists on first right of purchase for our stock, but offers more than a fair price. We part with the last of our stock at a profit, halved though it was by the tax. I suspect he has tried to pay well in the hopes that we will return. We smile and nod, but have privately agreed that the payoff has not been worth the risk. We bid our elvish companions farewell and good luck, and they likewise begin planning their return home.

The last of our business in out in the quarries. We rent rooms for the night and leave Alequin to amuse herself with some books in one of the chambers. We have not told her of our plan to visit her suitor, though I suspect she is astute enough to have guessed. The man named (?) has a ready reputation around town as a tireless worker who has built and held together a mining company by sheer willpower. It is indeed good for a man to have some dwarfish traits. Yet upon calling at his manor, I revise my opinion of him. We are politely if impatiently received, offered easy courtesy but given no sense of the man himself. His wine is good but his eyes are cold. We attempt a friendly and consoling exchange about the fate of the doomed galleon and his betrothed wife; he is greatly preoccupied with the fate of the dowry. I find his charisma lacking, and decide that we cannot leave Alequin in his care. With a look to Havelock I see that we are agreed. Though it seems somehow unjust that we three strangers to her should make so weighty a decision on Alequin’s behalf- indeed, deciding her very fate and future – we are her guardians now. We shook the man’s hand upon meeting; now having his measure, we do not upon leaving.

Zax and I retire to a smoky pub ‘The Leprechaun’ to discuss our next move. Though Prude is evidently erratically taxed, the prospect of profiteering off the adamantium trade seems yet intact. Over a few ales we calculate that, - by land – we would need to turn over unmanageable masses of the material in order to cover the inflated cost of mercenary protection. Likewise the extortionate teleportation fee places trade in that medium outside the reach of any but the wealthiest industrial houses. We speculate that by putting the entirety of our investment capital into the trade we could have made a profit in the short term. However it is likely that the quantities we would be forced to move would saturate these isolated markets and drastically devalue our own stock. Quite apart from the ire we would surely raise from adamantium miners across the continent, I scarcely think a hundred-year depression in the cost of precious metals is a worthy legacy for a dwarf prince. As we wrangle over the numbers we are interrupted by a clash between local armsmen. There is apparently some great feud between the mining interests in the town. Honestly. It’s as if they’re making a concerted effort to deter investors around here. The one side wears red armbands and the other white; there was more nuance to the conflict but Zax and I leave as the shouts and challenges escalate. We meet Havelock back at the Inn.

As we go to turn in, Havelock spots a flicker of movement in a nearby alley; he warned with a whisper that we were surely being shadowed. With a brief exchange of steely looks we three drew our weapons and leapt into the shadows to surprise our assailant. To our shock, a number of figures scattered, leaving behind only a bleeding wretch with a knife in his side. Recognizing the insignia of the city watch I rushed forward to give aid. I noticed that he wore also a golden armband, now stained with blood. Weakly he asked for a promise of aid. Such faithlessness. He should have known that no dwarf would abandon a lawkeeper to die of an assassin’s knife. Over the complaints of my companions, I hoist the man to my shoulder and run him to the nearest guardhouse. To my disgust, his companions haul him inside and shut the door in my face with little ceremony. Zax and Havelock seem little surprised at this; the churlishness and lack of honour among mankind has been commonplace to them. Never mind. For the third time today, I resolve to leave Prude to its’ well-deserved self-destruction.

Resolving to leave before the situation deteriorates further, we go to market on the morrow. I leave Zax to haggle over the purchase of a new cart and a second horse. I mingle with the crowd and happen upon some likely looking suspects; a dwarf and an elf wearing travelling furs and frustrated expressions. My instincts proved right; the pair were struggling to find transport back to civilization. They happily hand over the inflated danger rates commanded by local mercenaries and bundle themselves aboard our new vessel. Grimly, they turned out to be minstrels. Only after a some miles and a very stern talking to by Havelock did they relent in their incessant musicianship.

Upon reaching the clearing in which we had secreted our old wagon, we piled out to salvage it. With great satisfaction we found that it was still in its’ hiding place. With little effort we fixed the new wheel to the axle and were preparing to leave when Zax let out a shout. We had stumbled into another ambush, as forth from the snowy forest came a horde of shrieking, blood-painted barbarians.

Havelock leapt atop the wagon’s roof and loosed his crossbow into their ranks. Several dropped in a mist of blood and limbs as his bolts hit true. Zax unleashed his dragon-breath also, roasting a pair of wildlings as they charged; unfortunately several more survived, and our brave elf was dragged down in a tide of blistering hands. His shouts drew me to the melee and I swung Avalanche about myself in great pulping arcs. I hauled Zax to his feet in the human wreckage but was shortly cast down myself; one among the primitives had learned the craft of reading and cast magiks from a stolen spellbook. I was thrown down unconscious by a lightning bolt, my right arm and fist sizzling and scarred. With great effort I clung to life, long enough for Zax and Havelock to minster to the wound. As I regained my senses, the last of the barbarians was being cut down by Havelock’s bolts and Zax’s desperate magic. Our wards had also survived, the Dwarfish drummer having struggled within the cart with a lone attacker and even Alequin striking a blow with her spear. We were lucky. Havelock accuses me of souring our victory with my grumbling, but I insist on reaffirming my commitment to avoid further unnecessary risks. I will undertake no further journeys through wilderness without an army. In this last encounter both senior officers of the company had lain bleeding in the snow, wanting only for an opportunistic savage to end the hopes of our venture. This is unacceptable. It is evident that this part of the world is overrun with more bizarre and vicious creatures and phenomenon than we could have predicted. Again I resolve that we shall take lesser liberty with the lives of our most valuable officers. Should any one of us fall, I fear for the survival of the company.

Finally; civilization. Stalanzas begins to feel like home, as we broach the hill and look down on her eggshell outer bulwark and the maze of scaffold-markets that cascade down her walls towards the sea. There, set in silhouette against the sunrise, like the bones of a great whale are the sparred ribs of our future flagship. Construction of the Ironsail has begun, and we have but 3 months to wait before launch. We have arrived home on an auspicious day. Zax and I will celebrate his birthday with a grand carouse. I have locked away both company cheque books and directed my banker that no withdrawals are to be approved from the company slush for 9 hours. All our family heirlooms and documents have been turned in to the vault and I have directed the Bosun to turn us away from company property for 24 hrs. We shall begin at Flint’s for schnapps. This will be a night to remember.

Havelock continues to make sport of our condition. We inform him that we will be redeeming a few days of unclaimed sick-leave and retreat to the bathhouse to recover.

We are returned our full faculties but agree to spend the next three months at leisure. Each of us have our own minor ventures to pursue. Zax will attend a short course in economics at the Stalanzas Acadamy to consolidate his tutelage with me. We rejoice to meet up with Haraldir again, also supplementing his education at the Mages Tower. His business here will keep him preoccupied for some months yet, though he generously hosts us for a lunch at Flint’s to regale us with tales of mischief at College. Havelock makes use of this time to retire to an apartment in town to teach Alequin the sword. Although infrequent each time I see them they are deep in conversation about sword forms or some such elf nonsense. By the consistent smile on the Captain's face he seems proud of how quickly his new daughter is taking to wearing a blade. As for me, I have been invited to supervise an old friend’s mining venture; Babur Kragscale has paid me an executive’s salary for these few months to oversee the good administration of a project for his company ‘Thunderhead Mineworks’. I happily accept, glad of the experience. In my down-time I have been catching up on my reading and have begun planning a launch-party for the flagship. Though there has indeed been hardship, I am greatly satisfied to have finally completed a wholly ‘in-house’ profit-turning enterprise - from premise to completion - in this adamantium business. Barring further distractions, the launch of the Ironsail will mark a new chapter in the company’s prosperity.


EE 1233 Reborn Flame

We are freshly turned to distraction. My initial plans for an investors dinner have been somewhat hijacked by Zax and Havelock, who insisted that the launch of the Ironsail must be an event for the whole city. I was eventually convinced that it would indeed improve the profile of the company in the region, and began commissioning letters to respectable tradespeople. On the eve of the launch, the docks were transformed by a great cascade of flags and streamers in the grey, crimson and white of the Ironsail Trading Company. The square was encompassed by a large marquee where wine and ale flowed in a free and raucous revel. Bower and Bitterbell, the minstrels we rescued in Prude - had brought along a number of their compatriots and were providing the evening’s entertainment. Best of all, so large had the party grown that they were happy to perform for tips. I gave a short speech that was well tolerated, then walked among the crowds to receive the best wishes congratulations of those traders and freecaptains I had invited. Chief among these were Messrs Kragscale and Freewater, worthy Imperial dwarves whom I now account great friends. As the revelry wound on past the full stretch of my appetite, we three retired to the smoking room at Flint’s to share a pouch of fine Mestrian tabac. Joining us were an old enchanter and dastardly privateer named Moonsilver and Drak; this assemblage was quite fine company, and the pre-dawn hours were spent in a rolling, rambunctious discussion about the Syverian economy and the perils of entrepreneurship. We supped upon Boldpine Whiskey, which Bolwabber remarked had only reached market in Stalanzas due to his unique daring and astuteness in stealing it. Apparently the cache had been intended for the court of Prince Skyfrost himself. I sent each of my fellow conspirators home with a bottle of the offending brew, my compliments, and a business card. Though I somewhat cringe at the expense, I have high hopes for this fellowship.

My recovery has been interrupted by a visit from Havelock. Having been far more sensible the night prior, he is little the worse for wear. He comes bearing news from the Seneschal that an old Thauryssian warrior has come calling on me. Having no recall of an incident in which I might have given offense to a Thaur, I nevertheless don my armour before receiving him. The creature is immense, needing to hunch low to get through the door to the conference room. He is a Brokenhoof, a warden without a herd, and seeks to revenge himself upon the destroyer of his family. I can scarcely conjure what the relevance his quest might have to me, until he gives the name of his quarry. Hated villain! Wretched demagogue! Belal Revar, the despised enemy of my heart has revealed himself after centuries in obscurity. The creature has heard tell of soldiers in the city, bearing the iron gauntlet sigil of the long disgraced and vanished lineage. My father - may he rule forever – made an example of them all those years ago, bankrupting and destroying their business interests. Yet somehow they have clung to existence. No matter. I shall settle the matter he started.

I give the order to prepare the flagship to sail. Zax and Havelock are with me; well enough that the Adventurer’s Guild has a long-standing bounty on the bastard. They see to the loading of weapons and ammunition and the hiring of crew. I have business with a nobleman named Seth, last to be seen receiving the Revar soldiers. Dropping by Flint’s, I soon learn that the mercs came to convey some kind of statuary for Seth’s collection. Thanking young Dartmoth for the information, I call for a palanquin and borrow a hat from Zax; affecting the role of art collector I arrive at Seth’s tower just as a viewing begins. The works are true-to-life , in the fashion of newfangled sculptors and though ingenious make me faintly uneasy. They are the works apparently of an up-and-comer named Fabuloso. I approach the Patriarch, and strike up an affected conversation. Though I care little for the arts, life at court imparts one with passable skills as an off-the-cuff critic. Eventually we settle on the matter of his supplier, and I leave with the last known heading of Revar’s ship. We are bound north-east.

For some few days we sail along the coast, marvelling at the speed and power of our mighty new vessel. The sheets crack to full sail for the first time, knifing through the waves towards my loathed quarry. I stand at the command deck beside Zax and Havelock, the wind whipping at our capes and hair, seized with a great relish for the coming conflict. My grim passion is infectious. The Thaurrysian stalks the deck constantly - too bulky for quartering below - rumbling at the crew and staring off towards the horizon. I note that he is advancing years for his breed, and is covered with recent scarring. He will be an unpredictable quality in this endeavour, but the better to have as an ally I think.

On the breaking dawn the crowsnest calls the sight of small sails, two converted riverboats flush with the northerly wind. They are close to shore, slipping our sight as we turn starboard to give chase. Havelock scrutinises the coast with his telescope, spying a small inlet where the tubs have taken refuge. We swing about to weigh anchor some miles back, launching longboats with scouts to scale the cliffs. Zax and the old Taur insist on accompanying the reconnaissance team. Havelock and I eagerly await their return upon deck. Some hours pass when a flag goes up on shore and the boats are launched again to recover the bloodied party. Zax reports that the mercenaries have taken refuge in a cave back at the inlet. Their two ships are aground on the sand and well-armed elvish scouts rove the surrounds. We have lost men in a skirmish. None among us is willing to entertain the possibility of Belal’s escape; we run up the colours and let loose full sheet for an assault.

We rounded the buff to find both vessels aready fleeing. The first had lain in ambush, firing it’s skorpions at close range and scything through our crew. They were ill prepared for our return-salvo however; at the command to ‘fire all’, a screaming wave of bolts and missiles raked the ill-prepared marines, leaving their vessel listing badly. We left it’s bloodied survivors scurrying about the deck, unable to muster enough sail to affect an escape. With relish, we gave chase as the other ship sliced out to sea. Even against the wind the Ironsail is arrow-swift, and we closed at speed. As we approached a magical duel broke out between Zax and the vessel's Mage-Captain, with lightning bolts and fireballs streaking, fizzling out or deflecting away in roaring arcs. With the help of this villain, the pirates ignored my command to surrender and repelled several boarding sallies. Yet with his powers parried again and again by the scion of Fellsnow, the enemy mage drew too deeply of the Aethyr and set himself ablaze. He died screaming with the last of their crewmen, cut down in a barrage of crossbow fire. Yet even in this victory we were denied a prize, as a nefarious device in the vessels bowels burst to flame and scuttled it beneath our men’s feet. Rescuing those few who survived from the water, we turned to enact retribution on the Revar. The wounded vessel was rounded up, cleared and put to tow. Finally, at the head of a group of ten crewmen, we officers landed upon the beach.

Curse Revar and all his bloodline to the Abyss. His men had laid a craven ambush as we made our landing. His mercenaries leapt to the attack, cutting through our ranks with ecstatic abandon before we finally drove them off. The last of them died fleeing the reach of Avalanche, sliced down by a bolt from Havelock’s crossbow. The melee had been vicious and chaotic, with poor, noble Zax lying blinded and bloody at the hands of the enemy sergeant. It will take mighty medicines to repair his savaged face. Bandaged and leaning against me for support, he insisted on pressing on for the final confrontation with us. True to his word and in defiance of the cruel doubts of the Thaur, he did not slow us down.

Within the ocean cave we found a fortress raised above the water. Its’ many chambers were clearly lived-in, and plunder of various sorts was found in stockpiles about the place. Yet it was apparent that the denizens had freshly turned to more cultured pursuits; where older signs showed the wane of the company’s piracy, recent effort had been turned to the carving of a great mass of statuary, though lacking the grace I saw in the viewing at Seth Tower. In a vast chamber at the heart of the encampment we finally came upon Belal himself. Though clearly weathered by the sea, in the fashion of elves he seemed scarcely changed from the day he mutilated my brother all those years ago. Caught half-armoured, I saw rage and no small amount of fear when we locked eyes. He tried to speak, but with a bellow, the beastman hurled himself forward to attack. However deficient his soul and honour, Belal was once accounted a fine swordsman at court, and the years had not diminished his skill. The berserker slashed madly but to no avail; whether by deft swordsmanship or cunning footwork, Belal came to no harm. In his arrogant folly he taunted his foe, thinking –for whatever reason – we would stand idly by while the pair fought. Yet as I moved to punish his folly –ordering my men forward to kill him – the beast roared at them to stay their weapons. Typical primitive nonsense. It is of no relevance in matters of vendetta whose hand holds the avenging knife, merely that justice is done. Having presided over my share of disputes in my father’s stead I have long accepted that the personal, violent settlement of grievances is a gross misallocation of time and resources. The first lesson a leader must learn is to delegate; it matters not to me how Belal dies, merely that his crimes call clearly for his death. And the Thaur had wasted enough of my time. I gave the order to Zax to unleash his dragonbreath. Belal narrowly saved himself, hurled to one side and singed only. Regrettably, the beastman was consumed by the spell and slain. Clearly the lesson of delegation had not been learned by Belal who seemed greatly affronted and confused that I should not have offered to duel him myself. Ridiculous. His pious squawking was ended by my armsmen’s spears. I took his signet ring as a gift for my father, but left the loathsome pin-sigil upon his slaughtered corpse. As we pillaged the fortress we discovered cowering under a bed the renowned artist Fabuloso. The gristly truth behind his fame was revealed, as he lashed out at his detainers and turned a company man to stone before our eyes. The ranks of broken statuary seemed suddenly the more disturbing, and I ordered him beaten and bound for his crimes. Yet he is to be spared the justice of a trial or sentence, as in his panic his Gyomantic arts misfired and turned him into a dead mass of crystal. With horror we saw that in creeping increments the room and chattel itself was turning also. I gave a shout of warning and we retreated, entombing Fabuloso in the forsaken chamber.

After some days of work we have salvaged all useful material from Belal’s hideout. A wealth of saleable weapons, armour, riches and artillery will more than compensate for the expense of this venture. I conversed with the armsmen who had disobeyed my orders in Revar’s chambers. I told them I had no choice but to order them lashed, but in light of their good service in slaying the bastard I promised not to report their treachery to Ravanza. They bore the whip with good grace, knowing that the alternative sentence of disrepute within the House as the worse fate. Poor Zax has been sent to the Clerics of House Solanus in the hopes of regenerating his ruined face and eyes. The company will bear the expense, as it was I who put the dear trusting lad in harm’s way. However, I have written with great satisfaction to the King to report of Revar’s final extinction, mailing with it the signet I had claimed. I shall consider their ruin of my brother an account fairly settled, and my father is rightly pleased.


EE 1233 Eightfold Winds

Much has transpired these past weeks, and here I have had scarce the chance to put quill to parchment to record it. I will attempt to give fair testament of these curious days, though my memory is clouded by the violence and diversity of events. Like all proper dwarves, I have a strong dislike of imprecision; accordingly it shall become my habit to once again put down my experiences in due, timely course. At minimum it aids me in the sorting of my thoughts before bed, clearing my head of the nonsense of dreams. At best I find it an inspiring source of ideas to improve the company, not to mention a comprehensive font of anecdotes to share with Wulver and the lads at Flint’s on our cherished days ashore.

We had returned to Stalanzas to divest the hateful properties of the now-extinct line of Belal. I’d have rather not suffered the distaste of having the sigil of my enemy aboard my ship, though Havelock rightly pointed out the honor inherent in displaying it as a trophy. Even so, I’ll brook no more of this nonsense I hear of the company adopting the sign as our own. The stock of weapons and supplies fetch a fine price, though we are forced to sell his enchanted items below market value, failing to find a proper buyer. The last of the slaves he intended for ministration at Fabuloso’s hands go to market, and I make a point of laying about with tales of the bastard’s conduct. Whether the truth of his villainy has any impact on his reputation remains to be seen. The world of fine art it as far beyond my comprehension as it is beyond my interest. I finish matters with an exultation in the collection of Revar’s final bounty. Once these matters are seen to, I visit poor Zax at the Solanus Tower. I write a rather large cheque to cover our poor Seneschal’s hospital stay. Upon his recovery I intend to march him straight over to Abraham’s Smithy on Old North Road. They are the finest armourers in the city, and damn the expense. The officer’s health policy in this company is turning out to be quite a liability. I use the visit to float another in-house venture idea I have been mulling over. For some months we have sat on the knowledge that far to the South lies the abandoned city of Kroth. Since having heard of this forgotten ruin, my mind has been consumed with thoughts of its’ unclaimed bounties. Zax and I conspire over several hours to put a plan on paper to best exploit this untapped resource. Our plan involves a string of smaller ventures, the profit of each going toward to finance the next leg.

Roughly put, we will transact as follows; Hire a complement to crew the Ironsail and the Persephone. Take on a full cargo of weaponry from the forges of Stalanzas. Fill both ships and make for the metal-hungry city of Ilion. Thereafter, fill the hold with mercenaries and go forth to seize Kroth. My friend Bolwabber asked me whether I would also carry a few discrete chests south to Dylion, and so generous was his offer I couldn’t refuse. We set sail within two weeks of inception.

We have been at sea some days now. We have taken on a ‘non-affiliated’ band of mercenaries, who have paid for carriage to an unnamed bluff outside Dylion. As to their purpose, I neither guess nor care to speculate. They keep well enough to themselves and have caused no trouble with my crew. Further to this, we happened upon a marooned Trader named (Y) some days ago. He was adrift on a raft alongside his deaf-mute Hobgoblin bodyguard, last survivors of a reefing to the East. The fellow must be mad to allow himself to be shipwrecked with a man-eater. In exchange for rescue, he promises us a fifty percent cut of the salvage of his ship. He is a silk-trader, fresh from the desert continent to the west. I quickly agree and our course is adjusted.

We have arrived in the City of Slaves, Ilion the jewel of the Smoker Islands. It’s yawning Slave Pits carve deep into the flinty landscape, carrion and iron cages strung across it’s skies beside the fluttering banners of the military houses. Here the roar of crowds oft drowns out the thunder of pounding surf on the cliffs.

We bid a fond farewell to the agreeable young Silker, and relishing the chance to set boots to solid earth, I grant a few days of shore leave while we hunt accompany him ashore. The mercenaries we left some days ago on the coast of Dylion; their company was less appreciated. Within hours, Zax has some luck locating buyers for both the ‘Bloodstone’ and ‘Bleeder’, items that have burdened his Bag of Holding for some time. I visit the Exchange, a fine establishment catering to wealthy merchants that offers fire-spirits and whiskeys from all corners of Creation. I spend most of our allotted leave within its’ walls, but emerge satiated and satisfied with the deal I have struck for the salvage and cargo. Armed with a cheque from House Ravanza, I head out in search of the rowdiest bar I can find; here we will recruit the warriors to aid us in purging and holding a landing-zone for the pillage of Kroth. Havelock reports of his success in locating for us a historian, who gives a detailed account of what is known of Kroth. I send him home with a few bottles of brandy. Hopefully he will keep his mouth shut.

Finally, we are at sea again. The deck bustles with the activity of our warrior company, a finer, fiercer lot than the dour mercenaries we have ferried thus far. We are only a few days in the city, but I find my lust for salt air and the roll of the surf strongly returned. Zax jests that I have become more a Salt Dwarf than a sooty scion of the distant Ice-Mines. It is well that I have spent so many years in the company of Elves, that I understand their humor. Little might he realize that wars have been fought over just such well-intentioned comments. It was in such a frame of mind - shifting below a burden of guilt and homesickness – that I spotted the telltale column of a distant steam-ship. We approach with haste.

Indeed it is so; carrying the colors of beloved Unsrhad, a steam-colossus blooms on the horizon. We move to give aid, as the mighty vessel is clearly stricken, venting great gouts of cloud. We are greeted with a green flag, and a Dwarfish captain named Zard approaches to parley between longships. I take to the conversation with eagerness, hoping to hear news of home. Yet we are deceived, as Zax’s razor-keen eyes spot a treacherous tub rowing at full pace behind the hulk towards the Ironsail. Pirates! Liars! Traitors! Unworthy, treasonous dogs, to insult their rightful price with such treachery. I bellow an order to fire the artillery upon them. The balistae whir to life and a curtain of missiles fall amid their ranks, scything the hateful bastards apart. Zard and his crew scarper, and start shouting orders of their own. Battle breaks out on the seas as the Ironsail withdraws, the crew leaping to action stations to repel the boarders. Trusted spears are turned against the cowards’ cutlasses and with some injury, they are repelled. Loathed mongrels. We are forced to return to Ilion to replenish our considerable casualties.


EE 1233 Eightfold Winds-Soaring Dragons

We have sighted the distant pinnaces of Kroth. The city is half-sunk into the mire and is consumed by tide with the passage of each day. It appears to emerge slowly from the bog upon the morn, quite a sight to behold. We have performed some mapping runs and Havelock reports that it is now safe for us to approach the city by sea. We distain of the outlying settlements, which are worse affected by the tide. If any salvage remains intact here, we predict it will be within the walls of the city proper, preserved by the arts of the dwarves who built it.

Zax and I take to shore from the Persephone, accompanied by the mercenaries. We arrive at a rocky beach and send out scouts to search the cliffs and canals above. They return with reports of hidden bowmen, probably Goblins or other primitives. We make our way around the headland to find a safe way to clear out the natives. Our progress is frustrated by the terrain, and after some hours we return to the ship. Havelock calls on us as we do, reporting that he has spied a more suitable landing site around the other side of the ruins. He also reports that dark figures move about there. The day almost spent, we withdraw to sea to wait out the change of tides.

The night was a dark one for the company. Many of our sailors have perished under the blades of the Fishmen who dwell below. Creeping by our sentries, the creatures had managed to slip aboard and wreak some havoc before the alarm was sounded. I myself was ambushed in the corridor, weaponless and in my bed-clothes. It disgraces me that this should be allowed to happen, and I resolve to sharpen our security procedures. Both Havelock and I suffer debilitating wounds, and I fear that I have been poisoned. The officers now owe our lives to the strange and unexplained creature “Kryll”, a monstrous mutant who appeared as things seemed direst. Whatever his villainous appearance, he leapt to our aid and scattered the foe as we struggled unprepared for the sudden assault. Weirdly, he is an articulate creature, asking –in return for his ongoing protection – that we might convey him back to civilization when our business here concludes. I agree; it is surely better that this unpredictable monster be provisionally on our side that risk the possibility of him going over to any enemy or rival who might await us tomorrow. He has put Havelock offside by damaging the deck somewhat, but Zax and I agree that he may stay, provided he sleep among the soldiers.
We have come ashore to find a well-ordered by woefully inadequate camp of elves, huddling around their liege. He is a foppish noble named Prince Aeloon, the dregs-end son of a distant, irrelevant kingship I have barely heard of. Annoyingly, he bears permission to conquer and settle Kroth that appears to be legally obtained. Against this legitimate title to the land, he bizarrely infers a right to 90% of the profit generated by any who turns their hand to industry here. As I understand it is by no means a certain proposition that this area is properly classed as land. By my reckoning it is more likely that the Law of the Sea applies, meaning our company would be fully entitled to take any and all salvage we encounter. At most, this island is governed by a now extinct legal system, the extinguishment of which obliges any royal or industrial claimant to declare a contestation of title pursuant to the laws of the Silver Empire. Predictably, this fop fails to follow or even entertain a negotiation. We are invited to dinner, then baldly presented with his terms. I leave, outraged at this disrespect. We will be salvaging the ruins and hiding any item of value we find in Zax’s Bag of Holding. Zax returns later having signed an “agreement” on the company’s behalf, thought it is nothing little more than a list of this bastard’s demands with two signatures at the bottom. I put the prospect of simply attacking and slaughtering this upstart, but Havelock points out that the enemy has Knights. We would lose more men than we killed rooting them out of their camp. Bah. I will have to continue to suffer this indignity, but . I am not the least bit surprised to learn that this idiot’s expedition was financed by my brother Egrad. As ever, I labor to enrich the company on behalf of the Crown, yet every henchman and hireling flaps his gums to the spies of my rivals. I don’t know how Egrad could possibly have found out about this venture, but I will be far more creative than he in extracting my revenge for this setback.


EE 1233 Eightfold Soaring Dragons


While I am preoccupied with Price Aeloon, Zax organizes a number of expeditions to scout out the ruins. Our first foray into the city proper is led by Havelock. We clear out a large party of Gnolls, establishing a base within the, a good, wide, easily defensible tower they had occupied. Zax also reports that he has cleared a wizard’s tower to the south, overflowing though it was with bizarre and unexplained traps and puzzles. We make a number of notable discoveries, including a slew of valuable magic items which disappear into Zax’s satchel. In all a satisfactory few days are spent establishing a hold in Kroth; despite our mounting casualties and the apparently limitless denizens of it’s depths, this place has already surrendered a worthy bounty.

As the days wear on, we are approached by the commander of Aeloon's retinue. He now demands that our expeditions be overseen by an Artificer of his employ. I direct him that if he wished to make ancillary amendments to our agreement, he should have sent a negotiator. My temper frays dangerously close to snapping as the guardsman attempts to barter with me like a shopkeeper. Zax steps in again and we finally accede to the fop’s demands. A time will come when I am the one presenting demands, and they will not be so petty. Our tolerances at an end, Zax, Havelock and I agree to leave. Our costs have been covered and upon the sale of the few relics we have reclaimed, we should be left with an acceptable profit. Short of a lengthy court or military settlement, there is no convincing McDouchebag of the reality of his position. At the rate our men are dying, we can afford no more large engagements; though the ships are yet manned by skeleton crews, in order to hold the tower we have only 12 men remaining to aid our delve. We shall make one last foray into the ruins, striking for the heart of the city to carry off as many riches as we can find. If we can accomplish this by stealth, all the better. Though I regret leaving anything for our rivals, Kroth is too large, too dangerous and too stubborn a challenge for the Ironsail Trading Company to conquer at present. Perhaps I will return one day, but based on my observations I should need to bring an army and a distasteful number of wizards.

went into the castle:

* Overgrown gardens full of vyenaborn
* Find expensive statues
* Zax trapped in puzzle chamber with daemons
* More vyenaborn inside

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