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Old 01-19-2022, 03:13 AM   #221
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 73 (2022-01-08)

I ran back to the restaurant. The mercenary in the heaviest armor asked if I was Nuur-Karif. I countered by asking who he was. The mercenary was Ragon, of Ragon’s Boys, and there were eight of them there: The two out front, the four in the dining room and two more guarding the back entrance. I admitted my identity and Ragon explained that they had been paid to facilitate the prisoner exchange. They would bring any messages we wanted to send to the Golden Arrow and return with any responses, so we could agree on how to do this.

We needed to discuss privately, so the mercenaries retreated to the kitchen. I asked the others if they thought we could trust the mercenaries, but they didn’t know. I said we should launch an attack on Tivito at the third floor of the Golden Arrow; tricking the mercenaries to let us go shouldn’t be hard. I believed I could get us inside the luxury establishment if Yana restored my Platycon disguise.

First, we decided to learn what we could of the mercenaries, so I went to the kitchen and asked Ragon to join us. He wouldn’t say who had paid them, but indicated that Mitra or the Crown might be involved. I asked what precisely they had been paid to do, but Ragon basically repeated that they would facilitate the prisoner exchange. His words made me think they couldn’t be convinced to assist us for an assault, but I asked to what extent they would take orders from us. Would they for instance storm the palace if we asked them? Ragon wasn’t quite up to that, but he could storm the Golden Arrow. I caught no signs of deception from him.

After dismissing Ragon again, I proposed a plan. I could bribe the staff at the Golden Arrow to smuggle Xipil, Grogg, Wolfram and the mercenaries up to my room there. Then we could go down to the third floor, have Xipil pick the lock to Tivito’s headquarters, and attack. Wolfram said he had enough gold for the bribe and he suggested that I identified all the exits from Tivito’s area so we could put mercenaries on guard there to prevent Elanus from escaping. To keep Tivito believing that we planned to go ahead with the prisoner exchange, Xipil could write a letter that we could send while I went back to Yana to be disguised. Actually, we spent so much time talking that Xipil managed to finish a note. He wrote that I was willing to surrender in exchange for the imprisoned Ashtarites, but I wanted proof of their well-being.

I left to find the aforementioned bar while Xipil gave the note to Ragon. I snuck in some fondling while I explained to Yana what I needed. She had the ingredients for a fast hair dye; the color would soon fade, but not before it had done what we needed it to. I dressed up as Platycon and asked Yana to check Wolfram’s pack for a pile of gold, just in case he had left it. She didn’t find anything, so we assumed he had the gold on him. I also asked Yana to make sure she and Hylda were ready to go on short notice, and to ask the wagon drivers to be ready to take us to the fleet in a hurry. Yana just caught me before I left, saying the drivers couldn’t take us to the fleet without some kind of permission, but they set things in motion to acquire it. I kissed Yana and dashed off.

The mercenary letter carrier had still not returned when I got back to the restaurant. We considered going ahead with the plan, but decided we wanted every mercenary to join us when we did, so we waited. It took about half an hour before the response letter arrived. Actually, there were two letters, one signed “E.L.” that guaranteed for the prisoners’ safety and one from Illoro that said everything was going according to plan. From the wording used and because of the time the mercenary took getting back to us, we reasoned that Illoro was with the prisoners somewhere other than the Golden Arrow.

I was just about to leave when Ragon mentioned that his man wasn’t allowed to enter the Golden Arrow. He had been stopped at the door and exchanged letters with someone there. Xipil decided that the Platycon disguise might be compromised, but I didn’t believe Tivito would kill me on sight, not when I could get them more prisoners. Xipil wanted to stall and sent a letter asking how Tivito preferred the exchange to take place.

Wolfram handed over a hundred gold coins for the bribe and I explained to Ragon that I wanted one of his men to come along to a certain spot where he could meet the Golden Arrow employee; I didn’t want to name this restaurant to anyone at the Golden Arrow.

Just as I was leaving, Xipil’s messenger returned. I read the short reply from Elanus Larma: If demonology or necromancy was suspected, he would identify the guilty party himself. I immediately scrapped the plan from before. Now, we had an opportunity to get Elanus out of the Golden Arrow, and could attack him on a place of our choosing.

We sat down to plan again. Using the restaurant for an ambush was the first idea to spring to mind. We needed to send instructions to the Golden Arrow, and Xipil thought it was a good idea to state a limit to the number of guards Elanus could bring. Wolfram and I, remembering that Illoro had said Elanus had grown paranoid recently, thought this only would get him to ask why we wanted to limit his guards. Instead, I proposed that since we were planning to get one of the mercenaries to escort him to the restaurant anyway, we could instruct him to take Elanus on a random tour of the streets of Byblos if Tivito sent too many guards. After some discussion, we decided that a good number would be twelve. If they were more than us, we wouldn’t risk it, and the mercenary could say after a while that he had just received instructions that we wanted to discuss it further by letter.

While discussing how to position ourselves for the ambush, we discovered that using the restaurant wasn’t such a good idea after all. The layout of the restaurant and the nearby buildings was such that whenever someone suggested a deployment plan, someone else was quick to see an easy counter that Elanus was likely to make. The main problem was that there was no good hiding place for a bunch of us, not when we didn’t know if Elanus would send scouts ahead or indeed if such scouts even would be human. We knew that Tivito used owl scouts from our earlier ambush of them.

A better plan would be to ambush Tivito en route. When Yana and I stayed at the Golden Arrow, we had wandered the streets, and I knew a good spot for an ambush. The mercenary could lead Tivito through an alley, and we could attack from both sides. Ragon decided he wouldn’t send any of his men into such a perilous position and opted to go himself. He also pointed out that Tivito might just send scouts with him, who would then return with Elanus and others once they had checked out the meeting spot. This prompted us to write in the letter Ragon would bring that they would only have the one chance to meet me.

Our plan was to get the wagon and put Grogg, Wolfram and two mercenaries inside. The wagon would drive after Ragon and the Tivito party the last stretch before the alley. At the alley mouth, our forces would alight from the wagon and launch a volley at Tivito’s backs. When Tivito turned to face their attackers, the rest of the mercenaries would enter the alley from the other side and launch another volley at their rear. I would be with this other group. Xipil would climb one of the buildings adjoining the alley, to fire down from above. Yana and Hylda would get into the wagon again, and it would take a round to pick up Wolfram, Grogg, me and Xipil.

We decided that we wanted a code word that we could use to signal to the mercenaries and each other that we should split up and take care of our own. Xipil asked me to get more of those special gold coins from the wagon drivers, so we’d each have one if we failed to get to the wagon and needed to find our own way to Nulius’s fleet. Xipil also asked to borrow poison, and I gave him a vial of belladonna.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 01-25-2022, 04:53 AM   #222
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 74 (2022-01-19)

26th of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

Xipil wanted to use the small clay tokens we picked up after our last Tivito ambush. We had seen one such token blow a man’s head clean off, but I pointed out that we didn’t know how to activate the tokens, nor if they all contained the same spell. I feared that if we threw the tokens at Tivito, they might pick them up, activate them correctly, and throw them back at us. Xipil admitted he hadn’t had time to analyze the tokens properly.

We drew a map of the ambush site and planned our deployment in detail. Since we were planning to hide from view, we decided to use Yana and Hylda to relay signals to us that it was time to get into position.

I fetched Yana, Hylda and the wagon and we explained to our companions and our drivers what was expected of them. The drivers carried light crossbows and would defend themselves and the wagon if need be, but since they were under orders to stay away from Tivito, we didn’t plan for them to partake in the fighting.

We gave the letter of instructions for Tivito to Ragon to bring to them, and the rest of us went to the ambush site. Xipil climbed up on the roof of the building south of the alley. Grogg, Wolfram and two mercenaries hid in the wagon in another alley nearby. Yana and Hylda took positions on street corners one block north of the ambush alley. I brought the rest of the mercenaries, including Batak, the engineer, to a corner south of the ambush alley. Even at a distance, Yana was pleasing to the eye, so I had no trouble keeping my attention focused on her. I knew she was tired; she hadn’t slept since using the magic needle, and I hoped she would remain alert. There was some traffic on the streets, but not much.

Then, Yana signaled, and it was time to move into position. I signaled back, using our secret sign for “love” since we haven’t developed a sign for “thank you” yet. As we neared the alley mouth, a man and a woman came rushing out ahead of the Tivito party. I told my mercenaries to let them go, but the two civilians stopped just around the corner on the other side of the entrance to the alley. The man looked confused and scared, but the woman was focused and very alert about the armed group following them.

The woman looked at me, so I walked over to her and the man, noticing that the Tivito cultists were spread out as they proceeded through the alley. There were seven of them, escorting a small wagon drawn by a single horse. The woman was clothed in the local fashion, but I could tell she wasn’t from Arland. I could also tell that she was putting on an act, unlike her friend who genuinely looked afraid. The woman tried to shoo the mercenaries, which we all ignored, but then she tried to look back around the corner. I couldn’t allow her to signal Tivito about us, so I grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the corner. In the other direction, Yana vanished from sight, as she went to join Hylda.

I tried to quickly convince the man to run home, but he was too afraid and confused to comply. The woman made another attempt to get to the corner, despite me holding on to her arm, so I sent a quick prayer to You and attacked. You clearly didn’t want the woman to die, for You made me fumble and drop the knife. The woman stepped on my knife and drew one of her own. Behind me, the man whispered, “You can’t kill us; they’ve colored our souls!” I said if they considered themselves innocent bystanders, they needed to run away, for I was under orders not to kill them. The woman pointed her blade at me and said quietly that nobody present was innocent. I told her I couldn’t let them signal to the approaching party. The woman was about to kick my knife out in front of the alley, but I yanked on her arm and pulled her off balance.

The woman threatened me with her knife again and said that if I wasn’t innocent either, I should run. I drew my other melee knife and let go of her arm to distract her with the hand I had used to hold her. My feint worked, and I disarmed her, sending her knife flying away from the alley. “Help! Help! Guards!” she cried. I nodded to Batak, who had been aiming his crossbow at her back. The bolt slammed into her and she fell forward. I bent to pick up my first knife.

From the other end of the alley came a stern voice, demanding, “Hoi! You have to turn around!” On my side, footsteps were rapidly approaching, so I signaled to the mercenaries to get ready. The stern voice continued, “Stop in Tivito’s name! Ambush!!” Grogg and Wolfram had made their entry.

My mercenaries, or at least the two with ready crossbows, fired at the cultist closest to me. One bolt struck his shield, but the other slammed into his breastplate. I stepped forward, going for his throat with both knives and he managed to block one. I felt the venom surge from my other blade and into the doomed man, but he stayed on his feet, miraculously. The two mercenaries with swords at the ready surged forward, one towards each of the cultists, while the two who had just fired dropped their crossbows to draw swords.

Behind me, the wounded woman had found her feet again and I noticed she was moving away from me, possibly to pick up her knife. “Everyone’s going to die! Everyone’s going to die!” she screamed. I couldn’t pay too close attention to her because of the cultists, but I didn’t think she could cling to consciousness long enough to do anything stupid, not with that crossbow bolt in her back.

My opponent swung his sword at me, but the venom slowed him, and he missed. His companion, trying to attack a mercenary, struck his own leg. I didn’t believe the wounded cultist needed another dose, so I feinted with the knife that still had poison on it and struck with the other. I ripped the blade out of his neck again, sensing that he was dying, that I was a death bringer. One mercenary stayed with me, while three of them attacked the other cultist without inflicting much damage, for the cultist defended himself well.

I rushed out from my corner to join the fight against the other advance guard. I attacked with both knives, but only managed to scratch the cultist’s neck with one, which unfortunately wasn’t the poisoned one.

Now I finally had an overview of what was going on further down the alley. Grogg, Wolfram and their two mercenary companions had seemingly fought down one cultist and they were approaching the wagon. Ragon was fighting one cultist near the wagon, oblivious of the one aiming a bow at his back from closer to my side. The other two cultists were standing near the wall, about half-way down the alley, not far ahead of the horse. Xipil had shot at them and one looked … off. My quick glance didn’t detect what was wrong. Ragon must have known about the archer after all, for he ducked aside and the arrow struck the wagon.

My opponent chose to attack me rather than the more obviously threatening targets. Usually, I’m not considered very menacing, but he must have seen how easily I struck down his companion. Or, he pierced my disguise and knew who I was. I darted backwards to avoid his sword, and he stepped back himself, placing his back against the wall so we couldn’t surround him.

Wolfram cut down Ragon’s opponent from behind, which gave Ragon time to get his shield off his back and onto his arm. I rushed forward again only to have to duck back from the Tivito cultist’s sword. One of the mercenaries disengaged and ran towards the archer. When the he reached the archer, smoke and light erupted around them. A spell to distract us, perhaps?

Something emerged from the corpse behind me, and I thought it looked like one of those tortured souls we’d encountered before. That I was able to see it without the magical ring was just another reminder of Your blessing. I moved closer to the corpse while Grogg kicked at the wagon door, splintering wood. Looking more carefully at the spirit, it struck me as horrible on a completely new level. This was an abomination, a sin against You! The spirit tried to rush me, but I stepped aside. From the wagon came a thin voice, barely discernable as male: “Run, demon worshipper! Everyone is going to die!”
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-02-2022, 11:26 AM   #223
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 75 (2022-01-28)

26th of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

Grogg finished breaking through the wagon door and Wolfram immediately hurled his two large knives at the wagon’s occupant before drawing his sword and peeking inside. “Where have you hidden the demon?!” he bellowed, just as I called out a warning. “Knock them unconscious! Don’t kill them!” Ragon looked at me exasperatedly. “Really?!” But he signaled to his men to comply with my order.

The spirit moved away from me, cackling madly. I couldn’t allow it to vanish into the city, so I ran after it while explaining to my allies, “They become ghosts when they die!” I tried to connect with the spirit to materialize it, but it dodged so erratically, I stumbled and lost my balance. Wolfram apparently didn’t listen to me, for he roared, “Die, demon worshipper!” I presumed he was attacking Elanus Larma in the wagon, but I couldn’t see him from where I was.

The spirit circled while it continued to cackle. I feinted and stabbed, but failed to enforce my will upon the evil creature. The spirit had momentarily startled when my feint outsmarted it, but it laughed even harder when it realized my attack failed to do anything to it. “We can take the ghosts,” I reminded my friends in a yell, “but only one at the time!” I didn’t want to specify how we would do it, for everyone could hear me, and I didn’t want a bunch of enemies to gang up on me. Mad cackling from the alley revealed that more cultists had died.

In the alley, Wolfram called out that he was going to transform, presumably to warn our mercenary allies not to attack the giant bear that would appear. One of Wolfram’s alternate forms has the power to see spirits and attack them, I recalled, so I wouldn’t be alone against them after all.

The spirit tried to rush me again, but I dodged and turned as it passed me. I focused my gaze a little to the left of the spirit in an attempt to trick it into believing that I couldn’t actually see it. Its continuous cackling revealed its approximate location, but the sound bounced between the walls and made it difficult to pinpoint its source precisely. I gave a prayer of thanks for Your blessing that I could see the wicked thing; I have been touched by evil spirits before, and it was a harrowing experience that I was not eager to repeat. There was no way to tell beforehand if this spirit had the exact same draining touch as I had felt before, but I hoped I could endure at least two or three of its attacks before it overwhelmed me.

Mockingly, the spirit cackled while circling. I shifted my gaze as if searching for it and I noticed Xipil standing on the roof above us, bow at the ready. He couldn’t see the spirit, but he could hear it, and he knew what I was planning to do. The spirit rushed me again, but it fell silent when I focused on it and attacked. With my left hand I made a cut towards its face, and as it instinctively averted its eyes, I stuck my right-hand knife into its belly and directed my will through the connection. The spirit materialized, stumbling forward as the laws of nature grabbed hold of it. I stepped aside so it wouldn’t hit me, and Xipil shot it. Now that he could see it, Xipil could finish it off. I was needed in the alley.

On the other side of the alley mouth, the woman with a crossbow bolt in her back had collapsed, as I predicted, and her companion was trying to staunch the bleeding. I turned the corner into the alley. Grogg was rolling on the ground to quench his burning clothes; he was near the smoke-and-light cloud, and either it was more dangerous than I had first thought, or one of the cultists was a fire mage. Wolfram had fully transformed into his spirit bear shape. Our mercenaries were doing well. Three of them fought the second advance guard and should hopefully overwhelm him, Batak stood over a downed and bound cultist, and Ragon was just throwing himself on top of a cultist on the ground near Wolfram.

I sprinted past the first melee, leaving the mercenaries to deal with the enemies they could see. There were two spirits near Wolfram that needed my attention. One of them pulled back from the spirit bear as Wolfram mauled the other, shredding it to pieces. He growled and moved after the fleeing one.

Being no longer on fire, Grogg stood up with the help of one of the mercenaries who asked him if the cultist in the cloud was dead. Grogg said he didn’t know and looked around to get his bearings, then ran over to the wagon and peeked inside.

The spirit and I rushed towards each other, but Wolfram struck first, charging around Tivito’s wagon and trampling the spirit. “Where are the ghosts?” Batak asked, but I didn’t have time to explain. One of our drivers had jumped off the wagon and stood at the alley mouth, pointing his crossbow at random passersby, and he asked us if it was about time to leave. I didn’t take the time to answer him either.

Since Wolfram seemed about to finish the spirit, I moved over to Ragon and informed him he could kill the cultist now. This cultist had a spell on him that made it difficult to look right at him; it gave me double vision. Ragon drew a knife and cut the cultist across the cheek, not deeply, but enough to make him pass out. Batak asked frantically if anyone should shout the code word, referring to the order to disperse. I didn’t think it was time yet, but I would shout it in a few seconds if nobody else did. We still needed the mercenaries to control the last standing cultist and the two civilian scouts. Ragon scowled at Batak, and I thought he didn’t like him displaying his fear so openly.

The blurry cultist would bleed out from his wounds eventually, but I didn’t have time to wait, so I rammed a knife into his throat, albeit the one spent of venom, warning Ragon and the other nearby mercenary that they might want to step back from the corpse.

After shredding the other spirit, Wolfram ran over to the tied-up cultist and killed him in order to release his ghost. A mercenary in the smoke said the cultist there was dead, and I felt I needed to check it out in case there was a ghost hiding there, cleverly silent. Ragon stood up, asking “What now?” I told him we needed to deal with the ghosts. I was focused on the corpse at my feet, ready to strike as its spirit broke free, but as I spoke, I realized that this man had died a proper death.

Our driver reminded us that this was not a place to linger, and Xipil asked Grogg to help him down from the roof. I dashed into the smoke, noticing that the bursts of light weren’t as frequent anymore. A burning corpse was crushed against the wall as if by a huge troll hellbent on revenge after being set on fire, but there was no malevolent spirit around. Both of the cultists who had passed on as they should were pure-blood elves and the others had been half-elves, at least those I had been able to get a good look at. That similarity could just be coincidence, so I put it out of my mind.

Wolfram had successfully squeezed a spirit out of the bound cultist’s corpse, and the spirit rushed through one of the mercenaries. If the mad cackling wasn’t enough to prove my claim that there were ghosts around, that should certainly do it. The mercenary shivered and cried out.

I stepped over to the spirit and tried to materialize it, but I failed again. For some reason, I just couldn’t concentrate today. Was it too long since I had exercised this gift? Ragon asked what the mercenaries were supposed to do. I thought they were doing fine, controlling the cultists, so I said nothing as I dodged the spirit’s attempt to rush through me.

Feeling that time was running out, I let Wolfram deal with that spirit. The mercenaries had finally taken down the last cultist and were tying him up. I ran over and killed him and sensed that a ghost would appear shortly. I stood ready as Xipil called to Grogg to help him; the lizard man was running towards the two Tivito scouts.

Ragon ran up to me and said, “I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but someone’s going to see this! Every volunteer, every religious person and every witch hunter are going to come and attack us!” I ignored his rant, standing poised to strike. Wolfram came over too, having crushed that other spirit. While we waited, Xipil shouted the code word and Ragon gave a command to his men.

Just then, the spirit appeared. I struck and materialized it, revealing to the mercenaries the horror that Tivito was causing. Wolfram quickly shredded the manifested spirit as Ragon swore and recoiled from it. I thought I saw signs of a pleasant surprise on Wolfram’s face, but it was hard to tell when he was in bear shape. I wasn’t sure if I’d rather feel the dread chill of the spirit’s touch or splattering rotting goo all over myself, but I guess Wolfram preferred the latter. Ragon patted Grogg’s back and thanked him for the fight. Grogg replied that we have to do it again some time.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-02-2022, 11:35 AM   #224
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 75 (2022-01-28)

Since all the spirits were done for, it really was time to get going. I reminded Wolfram to transform back into his human shape and went to see if there was anything worth taking in Tivito’s wagon. Elanus Larma’s overkilled corpse had a pouch at the belt, so I took that. There also was a chest built into the wagon. It was padlocked, so I asked Wolfram if he could break in. He made a few attempts to smash it open with a pick, but the chest was too sturdy to break open easily. I checked the pouch, but there was no key inside, just gold. Disappointed, I stuffed the pouch inside my own.

When Xipil and Grogg brought the two captive scouts – Grogg carried the unconscious woman, but the man walked on his own – I told Wolfram to give up on the chest. There was probably nothing important in it anyway. Xipil’s curiosity got the better of him for a moment and he tried to pick the lock, but fortunately, he realized the urgency of the situation and gave it up, dashing after us.

The driver who was containing the passersby asked if we could let them go. I didn’t hear Xipil’s response, but the driver ran for the wagon. As I dove inside, I saw Xipil approach the passersby, but I forgot all about them when I saw who was already in the wagon. It was Yana. And Hylda, I suppose, but I only had eyes for Yana. She was safe! Totally stressed out, but safe.

I wanted to latch onto Yana’s face and kiss her forever, but I wasn’t comfortable expressing my feelings publicly, so I had to be content with sitting down next to her and savor the flames that rose from our touching arms and legs. Yana was too worked up to enjoy it, and Grogg lugging inside an unconscious woman with a crossbow bolt sticking out of her back didn’t help. I took Yana’s hand and patted it soothingly; that was about the extent of the affection I would put on display. “I’m all right,” I whispered in her ear. “The enemy didn’t even come close to touching me.”

Xipil had barely gotten inside when the wagon lurched into motion. The drivers set a wild speed through the city. Xipil said the woman had a punctured lung and asked if I could do anything about it. I concurred with his assessment but informed him the woman needed a surgeon; this injury was beyond my skill. Xipil fished the magic needle out of Grogg’s pocket and stuck it in the woman. Grogg blurted out that she smelled like Lunari had when falsely imprisoned, and that he wanted to kill her. I didn’t think I ever heard that story. It happened before I met them, obviously. Wolfram and Xipil spoke up against Grogg, insisting on keeping the woman alive to learn what she knew.

I listened to the others’ conversation, still patting Yana’s hand. Evidently, the confused man was Korro, the Tivito guard that we had captured after our last ambush, and whom Xipil, Grogg and Wolfram had decided to let go. My friends tried to get information out of him, but he didn’t know much. He showed marks consistent with being tortured, but said he couldn’t remember what actually happened. Korro was sure, though, that Tivito would blame today’s events on us.

Obviously, Tivito had squeezed him for information about the last ambush and if they were as skilled at interrogation as I believed them to be, Korro hadn’t held back anything about us. Again, I thought my friends were fools to let him go, but I said nothing. They respond irrationally poorly to criticism, although only Grogg is likely to threaten violence.

Xipil whispered in my ear to ask if I believed a wraith would emerge from Elanus Larma’s corpse. I replied that I hadn’t seen any signs of it and that we took care of all the spirits. Thinking back to the incident with the wraith at the Evening Fort, I realized that a wraith would take longer to appear. Perhaps an hour. I considered asking the drivers to turn around so we could retrieve the corpse for safe-keeping, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to convince them to go back. Also, city guards were bound to have arrived at the scene, and I didn’t think they’d approve of us absconding with one of the corpses.

Xipil pointed out that the only cultists who didn’t generate malevolent spirits after dying were pure elves and mentioned that Larma has a peculiar view on elves, that they are somehow superior to other races. I conceded to myself that he had a point. The making of such spirits had to be decidedly unpleasant for those submitted to the treatment; Larma would probably not want to inflict that kind of cruelty on their precious pure-bloods.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-08-2022, 09:03 AM   #225
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 76 (2022-02-04)

26th of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

Wolfram asked who the unconscious woman was since he hadn’t met her either. Grogg and Xipil explained that she was instrumental to a plot to frame Lunari for murdering a prostitute back in the Prince’s Cities. Actually, the incident occurred just a couple of weeks before I met Lunari, Grogg and Xipil in Blekborg.

Xipil tried to ask Korro if this “soul coloring” could compel someone to commit murder, but Korro just stroked his friend catatonically on the head. Xipil asked again and I noticed that Korro heard and tried to collect himself, but he was unsuccessful.

The wagon was driven quite recklessly, although the drivers seemed competent and probably had control of the vehicle most of the time. We turned this way and that until I completely lost track of directions, and the wagon occasionally slowed down when traffic conditions mandated it. After we had driven slowly for a while, one of the drivers opened the little hatch in front and asked us to hold on tight. I instinctively wrapped my arms around Yana, but Xipil warned Grogg to keep a hand on the unconscious woman to keep her steady.

The wagon tilted forward and went down a steep incline before stopping. The two drivers spoke agitatedly among themselves before one of them jumped down and knocked on the door. I opened, and the driver asked if we were still planning to go to the fleet. I answered yes, and the driver nodded and said they could make it happen. I think the events in the alley a few minutes earlier unsettled them. It was as if being around us wasn’t fun anymore.

We were in a basement storage space, I saw. The driver asked us to wait where we were while he made arrangements for us. I leaned back in my seat and continued calming Yana down. With the violence put behind us, Yana came around quickly. She was still tired, of course.

Xipil asked what I thought Audria would do, now that I had abandoned her. I said she would have to hope for the best. Xipil suggested she might get herself and the other imprisoned Ashtarites off by condemning me. I thought she’d do as You commanded, but this was not how the Judgment Day setup worked. Only those presented to Ratanu could be judged or pardoned. Wolfram opined that the way things work isn’t in the spirit of Ratanu, because the accused are presented two at a time, and one is picked for judgment while the other is let go. Disregarding evidence and simply weighing one accused against another couldn’t be just or fair.

When the drivers returned, they brought a terrified innkeeper with them, who said he had a safe place to hide us. I said that sounded good, but Wolfram asked if we weren’t going where we had planned. One of the drivers responded that they did everything in their power to help us, and I was convinced of their sincerity. They were eager to get rid of us, but didn’t dare to go against our wishes.

The innkeeper took us off their hands and led the way upstairs while taking every precaution so we wouldn’t be observed. He warned us he couldn’t keep us hidden if we didn’t remain in his hideout. This turned out to be a room with four beds and a chest at the foot of each. Wolfram commented that there was a chamber pot under each of the beds. I’m not sure what he was used to, but here in Arland, only the poorest accommodations don’t have one for each guest. This inn didn’t look particularly fine either. The shutters were padlocked so we couldn’t simply open them to look outside, but they weren’t sturdy enough to keep us in if we decided to leave that way. I told the innkeeper this room suited us fine, and he left, but came right back, asking if there was anything we required. We asked for food and drink, and the innkeeper left again.

Xipil asked if anyone got hurt in the ambush. Grogg said he only needed to change trousers, for the ones he was wearing were badly burned. Wolfram got to feel the chill touch of the spirits, but he said he’d be fine with some rest. I didn’t think he looked injured, nor much more exhausted than I was feeling myself, and I only needed to sit down for a short while.

Through the door, we could hear our host ordering someone to put down their load, and then he knocked. He had huge amounts of food and drinks on a small cart. Xipil asked for water for washing, which didn’t help the frightened innkeeper who was terrified of us and deathly worried that the food had taken too long. I went over to him, patted him on the shoulder and reassured him that everything was fine.

Seeing how easily I manipulated the innkeeper, Xipil asked me to calm Korro too. It wasn’t hard to see that the two Tivito scouts had known each other for a while by the way Korro looked at the unconscious woman. I sat down with Korro after the innkeeper had brought a large pot of hot water and more soap than we could use in a century. Korro was high-strung and clearly afraid of Grogg, Xipil and Wolfram. Little old me wasn’t very threatening to someone Korro’s size; he’d be considered big for a human if Wolfram wasn’t around. I made every effort to act compassionate and caring, for I didn’t think it would be hard to intimidate Korro if I wanted to. Korro didn’t have an appetite since the soul coloring, he said, but I convinced him he needed to keep his strength up for his friend. As I worked on him, Korro’s fear turned to sadness, at least on the outside. There was a deep-rooted fear in him that I wasn’t sure I could weed out. Korro didn’t want to befriend anyone, nor seek out family or old friends, for he felt that would put them in jeopardy. I was quite sure that their spirits would need attention if Korro or his friend died, but I was confident in our party’s ability to deal with them.

I walked over to the washing water, for when I studied my hands to look for blood spatter, I noticed a faint odor, a disgusting stench that grew in my nostrils once I was aware of it. I rolled up my sleeves and started scrubbing. Xipil decided to taste the blood on Wolfram’s knives and determined that Elanus Larma was angry and afraid when he died. Wolfram asked if I still had anti-wraith venom, but I told him that was irrelevant since we hadn’t brought the corpse. He also asked if anyone saw any clay tokens on the Tivito leader, but nobody had. Grogg wanted to taste the blood, too, and he found it delicious. I smelled my hands and nearly gagged. More scrubbing was needed. And lots of soap.

Xipil wanted to attract the wraith, and said it would seek a power source when it emerged. I asked about the star box, but Xipil wasn’t sure enough power remained in its water. Grogg asked about Wolfram’s totem pole, since he had used it to lure spirits to us before. Wolfram said his spell only had a few hundred meters of reach, and even less during daytime and with the window shuttered. It was at night, when the moon shone on the totem pole that his spell was strongest. We decided the attraction spell was probably of no use, but Wolfram proposed setting up an alarm spell, just in case. Nobody objected, but bells started ringing across the city. Grogg suggested that the city was celebrating the death of Elanus Larma.

Finally clean, I sat down in one of the beds and invited Yana to rest her head in my lap and sleep. She really needed it after using the needle, but only in my presence did she feel safe enough to close her eyes. I didn’t think she had actually seen any of the violence that happened in the alley, but she certainly heard. Maybe that was worse. I knew she had been afraid for me, but I hoped my assurances that I was completely unharmed would sink in. I stroked her hair while watching Wolfram draw his ritual symbols on the floor around his totem pole. He repeated a prayer to Tiri the whole time, that the moon goddess must alert us if enemies came near.

Wolfram was still drawing when a knock came on the door. Xipil looked questioningly at me, and I said that the innkeeper must have heard some quite horrific stories from the drivers and that it would take a lot to make things worse. Revealing to the innkeeper that Wolfram was drawing magic symbols on his floor shouldn’t matter. Grogg opened the door. The innkeeper advised us to be ready to leave on short notice. Xipil asked him if there was a risk that the city guards would come by for an inspection, but the innkeeper said he’d take care of it, warning us again to remain in the room.

Wolfram finished his spell and asked if he should add one to conceal the clearly magical setup. Kraa was upset by the spirit-affecting magic and made a ruckus. Grogg tried calming it down while Wolfram cast his second spell. It was much quicker than the first one, and I found my gaze slipping from the totem pole when I didn’t concentrate. Xipil studied the phenomenon for a minute or so, before lying down to sleep while asking Wolfram to retain the blood of Elanus Larma, which he had started to clean off his knives.

Yana and Xipil weren’t allowed to sleep for more than a few minutes, for the innkeeper returned, asking if we were ready to go. I shook Yana’s shoulder lightly to wake her. She yawned and sat up. “Time to go,” I said to my drowsy lover, and we picked up our belongings and waited by the door. Wolfram erased his drawings with a wet cloth. Korro carried his friend, and I asked what her name was. “Nillet,” Korro muttered.

I opened the door. Outside with the innkeeper stood a man in the uniform of a city guard officer. I didn’t need Yana’s poke to alert me that the uniform didn’t belong on the newcomer. His mannerisms and parlance revealed him instantly as a fraud to the two of us, but I believed he fooled our companions. This man didn’t display the same anxiety as the innkeeper or the drivers, so I guessed he hadn’t been told very much about us.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-08-2022, 09:21 AM   #226
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 76 (2022-02-04)

The disguised man, whom I supposed belonged to Nulius’s spy network, gave us strict instructions regarding following him. We descended to the ground floor on the same stairs as we had used earlier, and he bade us wait while he checked that the coast was clear. We went to a wagon shed adjacent to the inn where a new wagon stood ready for us. Another man disguised as a city guard held the reins and indicated that we should get in.

When our group were all seated inside, the spy warned us that he would lock the door from the outside. We could decide a codeword that would instruct him to open the door, and Xipil suggested the same as we had used before. The spy said that if we used the codeword, we would be on our own. I told him that was acceptable.

This wagon ride was much more comfortable than the previous one. It was no less cramped, but there were no sharp turns to throw us around. We realized that the chiming of the bells was dying out and that there were people on the streets, so the bells couldn’t have signified a curfew. After a while, someone called “Halt!” in front of the wagon, and we stopped. The spy argued with someone and tried to pull rank without much success, but eventually talked us past the hindrance. We started rolling again and soon came to a gate which was opened before us. The little light that was admitted to the wagon interior revealed that we drove into the shade.

The spy unlocked a small hatch and opened it so he could speak to us. He warned us to stay put while he went to fix some things, but reminded us that we could use the codeword if we wanted to leave. After he had closed the hatch and walked off, Korro asked if this would get us out of the city. I said yes. Korro whispered in my ear that when we got far enough away from people, he wouldn’t blame me if I killed him. I got no immediate indication from You whether this was right, so I decided to pray on it later.

Since we didn’t know how long we would have to wait, I suggested to Yana that she should take advantage of the dark wagon interior and try to get some sleep. Her rest at the inn hadn’t lasted many minutes. We shuffled about so she could sit on my lap and rest her head on my shoulder, but the spy returned almost as soon as she shut her eyes. He opened the wagon door and cast his eyes over us, counting if we were all still there.

The spy had brought grey-white clothes for us to change into, and I recognized it as sailor’s garb. Yana whispered that she was impressed that he got the right sizes for all of us, and I nodded, for I was thinking the same thing myself. I took off my cloak and held it up so Yana could change behind it, and she returned the favor afterwards.

There were chests for our equipment, and the spy was determined we should put away anything that might look out of place on a sailor. I retained only my cloth armor, which was easily concealed under my sailor’s outfit. I was hardly unarmed even with my knives packed away. We needed to carry Nillet in one of the chests, too, said the spy. We took care to stuff things around her so she wouldn’t shift and harm herself on the crossbow bolt that was still stuck in her back.

The transport for our next leg was an open cart that had several chests on it already. Two soldiers sat in front, driving, and we gathered that they were westerners, from Nulius’s homeland. A sailor sat back with the chests, and he indicated that we should load our chests onto the wagon. With our three chests added to the cart, there wasn’t room for us all to ride, so we decided to walk instead of arguing who should get the privilege of a cart ride.

We didn’t have to walk far, though. We were already in the harbor district, and as soon as we reached the docks, the sailor told us to unload all the chests and take them to that ship over there. I wondered why they didn’t drive all the way to the ship, but kept my mouth shut. We started carrying the chests. At the ship, two guards stood by the gangplank keeping an eye on things, and three soldiers loitered on deck. I asked one of the guards where we should store the chests, and I don’t think he understood my language despite him pointing towards the ship, for I had just reminded Wolfram that we had some more chests to carry and the guard pointed back at them too, as if he thought we’d forgotten them.

We put all the chests on deck near the hatch to the cargo room. Xipil opened the hatch and informed us there was another hatch below to a lower cargo space. With no instructions to the contrary, we chose the easy way and decided to store our chests in the upper room. There was a crane that we could use to lift down the chests and Xipil was eager to figure out how it worked, but I pointed out that we could just send Grogg and Wolfram down and pass them the chests by hand.

Nynos, the spy we had had dealings with before, stood in the cargo room watching our work while slowly eating an apple. When we all got down there, he observed that the apple tasted deliciously and asked if it came from the north. I took the apple and bit into it before handing it back with a flirtatious smile. “Yes, this is from the north.” I explained that the best apples were those grown in Furkan’s land or imported from the Prince’s Cities, since apples thrive where it isn’t quite as warm as in Byblos or further south.

Nynos recommended that we stayed hidden under deck; he had heard something of our latest exploits. I agreed that this was wise, but said I had one thing to do first. “Yes, my ship is your ship,” he responded. I informed Yana that I’d only be gone for a few minutes, and went ashore.

Since I didn’t know how long I was going to stay on that ship, I wanted to pray first. If I could touch the ground, it was easier to establish a connection to You. I had seen a shrine to Tsovin and Vagan a short distance back along the dock, so I went there. So as not to pollute the connection, I stayed just outside the shrine, although observers would probably still assume I prayed to the twin gods.

I asked about what Korro said, and You told me killing him was a bad idea if I didn’t also take care of his twisted soul. Apart from that, You didn’t care whether Korro lived or died, but I felt You emphasize again that not dealing with his spirit would be a sin. It had to be extremely important for You to impress this so strongly on me. I decided that Korro couldn’t be allowed to leave us, for I would feel responsible for the atrocities that would happen if he found death somewhere I couldn’t oversee it. I basked in Your presence for about a quarter of an hour before walking back to the ship.

In the cargo room, Grogg, Xipil and Wolfram stood over Nillet’s open chest and stared down at her. Yana stood nearby, fidgeting distressedly. I walked over to the chest to have a look, but I paused to put my hand on Yana’s shoulder. She flinched, but put her cheek against my hand when she realized it was me.

I couldn’t see anything untoward in the chest, so I asked what was going on. Xipil informed me that Nillet’s spirit was in the needle, and he asked for the spirit seeing ring. It was in my pouch in one of the other chests, and I told him where to find it. Grogg told Kraa to locate Nillet’s spirit, and the spirit raven flew down into the chest and cocked its head, looking at the needle. What happened next was so fast I can’t say for certain it actually happened the way I think, but my impression was that Kraa grabbed the needle and tried to pull it out of Nillet’s upper arm, only to be thrown away by an invisible force.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-08-2022, 09:44 AM   #227
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 76 (2022-02-04)

What’s sure is that Kraa flew up to the ceiling while screaming, wounded, exhausted or both. I explained to Grogg what I had seen and he tried to comfort the frantic bird. Xipil had found the ring and regarded Kraa through it, but he didn’t see anything worth telling. After a while, Kraa flew down to Grogg and vanished inside him, and the screams cut off. The silence was deafening.

Wolfram knew a ritual that would force a spirit to move on, and he wanted to try it even though this situation didn’t quite fit the ritual’s requirements. Nillet’s spirit was still bound to a physical object, even though that object wasn’t her body, and the ritual was meant for loose spirits. I suggested that the spirit might return to the body if given time. The ritual would surely kill Nillet, and we wanted information out of her.

I proposed touching the needle to see if there actually was something there that prevented us from trying to remove it. Grogg seemed quite eager to do it, but I said we should choose someone with a strong will. I thought I should do it, but Grogg suggested Xipil instead. He gave a good reason, that Xipil knows magic and is more likely to detect anything magical than me, but I knew he didn’t want me near the needle for fear that it might vanish into my pouch. Xipil reached out and touched the needle, and he withdrew his hand as if burned. Something was wrong with the needle, he concluded.

Nynos offered to try to find a surgeon, and after a short discussion, we agreed that if Nillet’s body healed, that would improve the likelihood that her spirit would return. Nynos was wearing the same sailor’s outfit as the rest of us, and he had to change before leaving the ship. I walked with him to his cabin, asking if we had been assigned sleeping berths. Nynos arrived just before us, and didn’t know. “My ship is your ship,” he said again, and warned us not to hold our breaths waiting for him to return with a surgeon. When Nynos reappeared from his cabin, he was dressed as a merchant. He gave us all a nod and left.

I went exploring, looking for a place to sleep. There was a room next to Nynos’s, with two actual beds, and I told everyone that this room now belonged to Yana and me. I asked Yana to go ahead, for Korro looked eager to speak to me.

Korro came up to me and asked what the commotion around Nillet had been all about. He had stayed away while the rest of us stood over her chest. Because he was so fragile, I didn’t explain about Nillet’s spirit, and instead told him that the crossbow bolt was a serious threat and that we didn’t know if we could save her, but we had sent for a surgeon. Korro was insistent that Nillet mustn’t die in Byblos; that would be even worse than what happened in the alley.

I gathered Grogg, Hylda, Wolfram and Xipil and informed them that we needed to keep watch over Nillet, and that whoever was on duty needed to use the spirit-seeing ring. Xipil suggested Yana for the first watch, but I told him she needed to sleep. Grogg and Hylda offered to take the first watch instead.

Yana had made a tempting promise to me before the ambush, and as I walked towards the cabin, I wondered if I should resist the temptation and insist that she needed her sleep. Yana had made the decision for us, voluntary or not, for she was fast asleep when I entered the cabin. She looked so peaceful where she lay, with one errant strand of hair across her beautiful face. I thought she had put it there on purpose, but she didn’t react when I tucked it carefully behind her ear. She didn’t even wake when I climbed over her after undressing and brushing my teeth. These beds weren’t large, but there was just enough room for me between Yana and the wall. I wrapped my arms around her and praised You for bringing her into my life.

Unlike Yana, I wasn’t particularly tired. It was the middle of the day. I still closed my eyes and listened to Yana’s slow breathing. Feeling her skin against mine was arousing. I should try to get some sleep, though. If the dragon arrived tonight, who knew when I would have the opportunity to sleep again? Speaking my evening prayer felt strange when the day hadn’t died yet, but I did it anyway.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-17-2022, 08:09 AM   #228
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 77 (2022-02-13)

26th of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

I struggled to sleep. Yana’s hair tickled my nose, as I drew in the sweet, intoxicating scent that was her. Always when we went to sleep together, or at least when we were safe and private, Yana would take the arm I wrapped over her and put my hand on her breast. Now, like a trained pet, my hand had sought out that delicious softness on its own. I itched to caress her, to tease out a hardening bud against my palm. My imagination had my body convinced that it was in for a treat, that Yana would wake up, turn around, and kiss me all over. I had to think of something else, something disgusting to take my mind off Yana’s promise. Something like that awful stench of undeath. The memory of having my nostrils so brutally violated made me sneeze. I froze. Had I woken Yana? I dared not even breathe until I realized that the slow rise and fall of Yana’s chest was undisturbed.

I had to find something else to think about. My companions had seemed upset when they learned I knew Nynos’s name and didn’t tell them about it. Was I too secretive, too unwilling to open up? Was that why they were so reluctant to trust me? It had seemed to me that we’d never meet him again, so his name didn’t strike me as important information that I needed to share. It wasn’t as if I had deliberately withheld his name. If we had discussed him at all, I probably would have said his name. Wouldn’t I?

Chanting from the cargo hold interrupted my musings. Wolfram was casting a spell. Hadn’t he taken Xipil’s advice, or had he been unsuccessful at finding sleep, like me? I didn’t think I’d been lying down for more than a few minutes. I wondered what spell Wolfram was casting, and figured it had to be something to help with watch-keeping. An alarm, perhaps, or something that allows anyone not using the ring – or blessed by You – to see into the spirit world. I didn’t think his spell was a response to an attack already happening. He’d surely alert me if we were under attack.

After the spellcasting, Grogg, Hylda and Wolfram spoke heatedly, but their voices were muffled by the intervening wall, so I couldn’t discern what they said, other than Hylda mentioning ashes. After the discussion, Hylda and Grogg must have gotten it on, for I heard her making that kind of noise. I didn’t want to listen to that, and I tried to shut it out, hoping that Wolfram kept watch while Hylda and Grogg were occupied. I would have shouted for them to keep it down, if that hadn’t been certain to wake Yana.

My mind busied itself with thoughts about the secret sign language that Yana and I were developing. We should have signs for each person in our party, and for the concepts of “disguise”, “magic” and “spirit”. It would probably be useful to have modifiers to indicate degree of goodness and badness, so we could say “good disguise” as a compliment or to alert each other about something they might not have perceived, or “very bad spirit” if we saw a wraith; those ghosts I fought in the alley would only be “bad spirits”. Signs for “friendly” and “hostile” might be useful, too.

A humming pervaded the ship, and I felt it more than I heard it. Uncertain what was happening, I instinctively clutched Yana closer to me. If that hadn’t woken her, Wolfram’s bellow that a wraith was attacking certainly had. I tore away the blanket and nearly trampled Yana in my rush to get up. Leaving an apology hanging in the air behind me, I dashed out of the room and into the cargo hold, stark naked.

Wolfram’s totem pole was glowing, and I noticed it was the source of the humming. The pole was set up under the cargo hatch, and Wolfram had drawn his mystic symbols on crate lids under the totem pole. I wondered for a fraction of a second why he hadn’t simply drawn on the floor, but then realized that the lids covered the grate to the lower cargo hold; it wouldn’t be easy to draw on the grate.

Wolfram was praying to Tiri, so loudly that some of the soldiers had to come and investigate, even if they somehow missed the humming. Grogg held up the ring to his eye and scanned for the spiritual invader, but I don’t think he saw any. I didn’t either. Xipil came running, too, no more dressed than me.

Since there was nothing for me to attack immediately, I ran over to the chest that contained my gear. I wrapped my knife belt around my waist and had just managed to throw on my cloak to cover myself when the first of the ship’s soldiers peeked down the hatch. He was aghast at what he saw; perhaps it would have been better to show some skin to distract him from the supernatural glow and humming.

I asked Wolfram, “Where is it?” but he couldn’t interrupt his spell prayer to respond. In the hallway, Yana peeked nervously out of our room. Above, the soldier barked something in his language, and I imagined that I could hear Nynos’s voice responding from the gangplank.

When Wolfram finished his incantation, I knew what spell he had produced, for I had seen it before. This spell allowed anyone within range to see each other’s auras. Xipil immediately set his eyes on Yana, and I ran back to protect her, quite irrationally. The glow Yana exuded did nothing to lessen her beauty, and it complimented her eyes so prettily, it looked like they glowed too. Perhaps they did. She asked what was happening, and I replied that Wolfram said there was a wraith nearby, but I couldn’t see it. Wolfram overheard and clarified that it wasn’t necessarily a wraith; any monster or spirit creature would set off his alarm. My thoughts immediately went to Korro and Nillet; if either of them died, that would certainly bring forth something terrible. I needed to check on both of them.

Hylda hadn’t witnessed this spell before, and she freaked out, screaming that “it” was inside all of us. Running feet on deck warned me that we might have company soon, so I asked Yana to get dressed. I took her place at the door, peeking outside in case a spirit did appear. With Yana out of the way, Xipil scrutinized me instead. By his face, I could tell there was something strange about my aura, or perhaps he saw something he didn’t expect. Grogg studied his own glow for a minute, then set about calming down his girlfriend. I was suddenly uncertain if Yana had experienced this spell before, so I explained it to her and said she didn’t have to worry about the glow.

Nynos appeared above the hatch, looking down, and Wolfram gestured towards the totem pole, making it stop humming and glowing. Xipil looked up, presumably to study Nynos’s aura. Wolfram asked Nynos what he had brought. Indeed, the alarm going off just as he returned seemed unlikely to be a coincidence. Still, there was the possibility that there was a wraith lurking around, so I didn’t take my eyes off the scene for a second. When Yana had finished putting on her sailor’s clothes, I told her to dress me too.

I held out my arms and lifted my feet when Yana told me to, and she was quick and businesslike. I half-hoped she would take a moment to appreciate the sight of me and perhaps run her hands over my more sensitive parts, but she didn’t fall into the temptation.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-17-2022, 08:19 AM   #229
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 77 (2022-02-13)

Nynos chided us for scaring his countrymen. Nobody paid that much attention. Xipil went to check on Nillet, then vanished into one of the other rooms, presumably to see if Korro was all right.

Wolfram ascertained that Nynos brought a surgeon, and asked him to bring them, but Nynos had his hands full calming the excitable soldiers. While the hubbub on deck quieted down, an elderly man peered down the hatch, quite indifferent to the agitated situation. This had to be the surgeon, and Wolfram invited him down. Nynos and the surgeon vanished from view, going in the direction of the stairs at the rear of the ship.

When he thought they were out of earshot, Wolfram said that he was very suspicious towards the surgeon. He didn’t think this was an ordinary physician. Grogg proposed that the alarm spell triggered because the surgeon was a mage, but Wolfram said that couldn’t happen. Xipil suggested that the surgeon brought a familiar, some manner of creature with a magical connection to the surgeon. Wolfram was uncertain whether a familiar would trigger the alarm, but conceded that this could be the case.

Xipil waved for me, so I joined him in Korro’s room; Yana looked in from the hallway. Korro sat on one of the bunk beds and I saw immediately that he was out of his mind with fear, deathly afraid of … well … death. As I walked up to him, he stared at me and said that he remembered everything that he had to remember. Xipil, ever curious, asked him to tell before I even opened my mouth. Korro was afraid of him, so I gestured to Xipil to calm down and take a few steps back.

I sat down with Korro. “Maybe you should tell me,” I prodded gently with a soothing voice. Korro only said, “They don’t know how dangerous it is! You don’t know how dangerous it is!” I asked what “it” was, but he said he didn’t know, that he didn’t want to remember.

Xipil asked if crow’s toes would help, and I was very glad he asked me instead of going to Grogg with it. Dosing someone in Korro’s state with a hallucinogen was bound to shatter his already cracked mind. Korro toppled over and writhed next to me as if the mere mention of the drug affected him. Xipil asked if river thistle would work better, just as I was about to ask Yana to get my medicine kit with all my toxins. River thistle would sedate Korro for a while. I didn’t think I needed him to be calm very long, just until we had figured out why the alarm went off. Then I could interrogate and kill him.

Nynos and the surgeon passed through the hallway outside the room and Wolfram commented to them that two soldiers were following with a chest. Nynos understood that Wolfram didn’t want the soldiers to come near his mystical drawings, and had them put down the chest so he and Wolfram could carry it instead. Wolfram asked him why the alarm happened to go off just as he came. Nynos had no good explanation and expressed annoyance that none of us were grateful that he had found a surgeon so quickly.

Yana brought my kit and I unrolled it on the bed. Xipil asked her to get his clothes, for he was still naked. I have seen him naked before, but it was only now I really appreciated what the lizard man had between his legs: Nothing. Just smooth scales. Was he even a “he”? He didn’t have female parts either. We had talked about this before, but for some reason it didn’t stick until now.

I dosed up river thistle in my syringe. Korro noticed and began to scream. I didn’t give him time to physically resist me, and jabbed the hollow needle into his neck, injecting the drug. Korro did try to move out of the way, but I was too experienced with stabbing people in the neck to be foiled. Korro went completely wild, thrashing about in the bed and screaming. I scooped up my things as I cleared out of his personal space.

I was on the way out of the room when Yana returned with Xipil’s clothes. “I dosed him with river thistle,” I explained hurriedly. “He’ll be calm soon. Can you keep an eye on him from the hall? I need to check out the surgeon.” “Is it all right if I go inside and close the door? He’s awfully loud. I promise I’ll keep a hand on the doorknob.” I told her it was fine; the two meters between them would give Yana enough time to get out if Korro looked about to turn on her.

The surgeon seemed very pleased about having Nynos and Wolfram bring him his chest. I retrieved the vials from my medicine kit and transferred them to my pouch before returning the roll to the chest where Yana had found it. I thought I might need my venom on hand if there actually was a wraith around. Xipil joined us when he had put on his clothes.

We needed an operating table, and Grogg suggested using the one in the kitchen. The surgeon didn’t seem too keen on the idea, but the only other alternative he saw was the chest lids that Wolfram had drawn on, and he liked that even less. The surgeon unwillingly agreed to use the kitchen table, and warned us to wash it after the operation, with salt water, then soap, and then salt water again.

Xipil asked Grogg and Wolfram to move the chest with Nillet to the kitchen, but the surgeon needed to prepare before they moved her. He took two flasks of different sizes from his tool chest and asked Grogg to fetch nice, clean water in a nice, clean bucket. He then picked up a leather pouch and handed it to Nynos, and the two foreigners walked towards the kitchen. I followed them, and the surgeon asked if I was a servant girl. Nynos cracked a grin at that, but schooled his face before the surgeon saw his mirth. I said I was a physician’s apprentice, which wasn’t that far from the truth.

When we got to the kitchen, the surgeon noted the mess after someone had prepared food, and he asked if I could tidy up. I said I could assist however he wanted and started stuffing things into cupboards.

Grogg and Xipil arrived, carrying a barrel and a water skin, respectively. The surgeon told them not to enter the kitchen. Only I was allowed inside while he operated. He went to the door and tasted the water my friends had brought. The water in the skin was acceptable, but the surgeon thought the barrel water was unclean, like the troll carrying it. He asked Xipil to procure more of the clean water, and he checked every water skin before setting them aside.

The surgeon asked me to put on a kettle, and I asked if I should take water from one of the skins, but he clarified that I should only make the fire for the moment. Nynos commented from the hallway that he was disappointed in our lack of gratitude for finding the surgeon so quickly. I thought he was being childish bringing it up again, and I told him how impressed I was. I loaded my words with as much exaggeration and sarcasm as I could, but when Nynos had dragged them across the floor and listened, he told me he actually believed I was sincere. I shook my head as I turned back to the kettle.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-17-2022, 08:35 AM   #230
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 77 (2022-02-13)

I expected Xipil to plaster himself to the doorframe so he could watch the proceedings in the kitchen, but it was Wolfram who took that post. Xipil went to check on Korro instead; the poor man had screamed for nearly a quarter of an hour. The screaming intensified when Xipil got there, but he couldn’t be doing anything truly terrible to Korro, for Yana didn’t yell for me to come and stop him. It was probably just Korro’s fear of Xipil that triggered by the lizard man’s presence.

Once water was boiled, the surgeon mixed it with a liquid from his flask and cleaned the table. He sat down to let the table dry off and asked who I was. I told him I was a medical apprentice from Sam, and he much desired to know who my master was. I made up a name, Agarek. The surgeon said his teacher was Vanus, and he told me the general principles of his tradition. It was quite different from what I had learned, and focused overly much on cleanliness. The surgeon spoke with an accent and sometimes had trouble finding the right words to explain a concept. Xipil returned, and the surgeon threw annoyed glances at him and Wolfram for hovering so closely.

After a few minutes, the surgeon smelled the table and declared that we could begin. He asked me to stay and make sure nobody else entered the kitchen. He got Grogg and Hylda to bring his tool chest to the kitchen door, and I helped him carry it closer to the table. Wolfram and Nynos fetched Nillet in her chest. The surgeon unrolled a mat on the kitchen floor and he studied the crossbow bolt before we moved the patient to the mat.

The surgeon wet a sponge and gave it to me so I could wash Nillet’s legs and “lower parts”. He cut away her dress and bandages with a pair of scissors and washed her upper body himself. The shredded dress and bandages went out the window and into the river. The sponges followed, once we had finished with them.

There were two “sharp things” in Nillet’s body, and the surgeon asked if we should start with the small one or the big one. I tried to convince him that we couldn’t touch the needle, but he was quite insistent that it had to go, too. I settled for beginning with the crossbow bolt. The surgeon said we had to drain her lungs of fluid after removing it. This is a rare skill, so I knew this man was probably the most competent healer I had ever met. I hoped I’d be allowed to learn his technique.

I held the crossbow bolt steady while the surgeon made small incisions around the wound, presumably to make it easier to extract the bolt. He got me to pull the bolt out in two steps, and he poked the wound in between. I put the bolt aside while the surgeon sewed a leathery patch over the wound. Then he thanked me for the help and said I was a good assistant.

We couldn’t drain the lungs of fluid quite yet, for Nillet needed some rest first. I pried and prodded about what we had done and what remained, trying to get a lesson out of the surgeon. The language barrier was a bit of a problem, for there were many technical terms that he didn’t know in my tongue. He explained as best he could, though, and I thought I learned at least a little.

We finally introduced ourselves. His name was Ælios Vanus. When I gave him my name, Nuur-Karif, he asked why I hadn’t taken the name of my master, like him. I explained that this wasn’t the convention here in Arland. He asked who “Karif” was, and instead of revealing any secrets, I allowed him to believe that it was my family name.

Ælios concluded that the surgery was successful, but said that risking magical hazards might be outside of my field. He eyed the needle, seemingly comfortable with putting himself in such hazard. Wolfram interjected something about necromancy. He doesn’t approve of moving souls around.

Hearing Wolfram’s protest, Nynos came up to the door and upbraided Ælios in their language. We knew that the spy organization was supposed to stay out of anything that smelled of magic or the supernatural, and this seemingly constrained the surgeon as well. The surgeon looked at me after the chastisement and apologized that we wouldn’t be able to wake the patient, making it clear he had received strict orders not to touch the needle. Obviously, Ælios possessed some magical capabilities, since he understood how the needle worked. He sat down dejectedly for a minute before suggesting that we went to check on the other patient. I agreed. Ælios said something to Nynos, who proclaimed that nobody was allowed in the kitchen.

Walking over to Korro’s room, Wolfram and Ælios discussed whether we had expected the surgeon to be a mage. We hadn’t asked for a mage, only someone with the skill to remove the crossbow bolt. Wolfram explained that Nillet’s soul was badly wounded, and that it had taken residence in the needle. He said if Ælios could move the soul back to its body, that would be all right, but the surgeon replied that he didn’t want to try. He said it in such a way as to indicate it was beyond him, but I noticed he was eager to try. He probably would if we could get rid of Nynos for a little while. Wolfram asked if Ælios could cure a wounded soul that was still in its body, to which Ælios responded that this wasn’t the case, but Wolfram clarified that he was now talking about the other patient.

When we got to Korro’s room, Yana informed us that he had calmed down. Since Wolfram and Xipil insisted on coming inside, the room was quite cramped, and Yana offered to wait outside. I brushed her hand with mine and nodded.

Korro’s eyes were wide open, but I didn’t think he saw much. He was staring into the air at some imaginary horror. Ælios thought Wolfram’s opinion could be correct, and he asked if we knew who did this to the patient. Wolfram blurted out that Tivito had tortured his soul. “It is good that Tivito has nothing to do with this. If that was the case, I couldn’t do anything,” Ælios said, and I assured him that Tivito wasn’t involved; we didn’t know who or what had caused this.

Ælios wanted us to leave the room while he did his magic, but Xipil said he would stay to observe. Nynos was about to give another tongue-lashing, but Ælios informed him in no uncertain terms that he would do this. Perhaps I wouldn’t have to kill Korro after all. I hoped Ælios could heal him. I opened my pouch, and saw that Hope had wrapped herself around the vial of river thistle. “Let go,” I whispered in Shamara and picked up the vial. I showed it to the surgeon and warned him that I had given Korro a dose of that to calm him down. Ælios smelled the drug to identify it, and said he could provide us with something that is better suited for repeated use, but I revealed that I hadn’t planned to dose Korro again.

Nynos berated us and said that if we wanted to come out with the fleet, we couldn’t do any magic that left traces outside the ship. He warned us that Nulius was appraised of our activities and that Ælios was his man. He went on to tell a short story about Lord Mir, saying he had been sick as a child and Ælios healed him. Lord Mir grew up in the palace out west and eventually led armies against the country’s enemies. We had heard some of it before.

I asked Wolfram if he had found out what triggered his alarm earlier, but he hadn’t. I declared that I was going to search the ship and asked who had the spirit-seeing ring at the moment. Xipil handed it over, asking why I needed it. I said I planned to patrol with Yana, who didn’t share my gift. I didn’t want her out of my sight, not while there might be a hidden assailant nearby. If I hadn’t been so preoccupied with the surgery earlier, I don’t think I could have let her be alone with Korro for as long as I had. I suspected I was being irrational, but there was just something about Yana that made me want to protect her.

We walked towards the kitchen, but as soon as we were somewhat alone, I affixed the ring in front of Yana’s eye with a caress and a kiss. I asked if she was all right, specifying that tiredness didn’t count while promising she would have her rest soon. Yana said with a smile that in that case, she was fine. As we began our search, I informed her I had considered extensions of our sign language, and reminded her that we shouldn’t decide on any signs where we could be observed.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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