A Troubled Economy

Murder and Mayhem
we have powerful enemies

I was enjoying the music and the crowd inside the Eye. I have been in many dockside bars, but this place was totally unique. I decided to try some of the unique “offerings!” I had a great drink that made me feel like I was flying! Soon I was ready for a whore and there was a beauty of a hinn!

The young tart was brought to me and I felt entranced and intoxicated (of course I was!) and we went to a private room for our tryst. When I was done she was sad to see me leave, I know. I returned to the table where my companions were deep in conversation. They had a note written in undercommon, which unfortunately I was forced to learn during my captivity. There were bags of 125 crints, one for each of us. The note said the money was a reward and a request for an audience at the Truth Tailor on Guardian Way in two bells. We decided to go.

At the tailor shop we met what looked like a gray-haired human tailor. He said his name was Soole, and he wanted us to travel to the Duchy of Listenshire and bring back information about the condition of commerce there. As a tailor he relies upon cloth goods (obviously) and he was trying to decide if he should flee or stay. He offered us an outrageous sum of 3,000 crints apiece on our return. We all wanted the money, not least, me. We knew our contract with the Church of Luche was a barrier to that. We decided to see if we could find a loophole in the Adama that would allow us to do both. We gave no answer and left.

Danjo and Shino decided to go ‘train’ Danjo’s camel. I thought it was a shame that they would squander the opportunities offered by this wonderful city night life, but the ways of the men from the east are very strange. Setibyr and Enalda decided to go purchase supplies in anticipation of our departure. I felt fortunate to have such dedicated companions. That left Sahil and me. I always consider myself to be a man of the people, though I admit, I don’t mind making a few coins along the way. It makes life so much more comfortable! Sahil, on the other hand, completely eschews wealth and in fact, wants to give his coins away to help the poor. Either way, I value the young lad and I don’t want him to suffer more than he already has. I invited him back to the Eye, so I could introduce some of life’s finer things! No one is guaranteed to be alive tomorrow, and what a shame if this young man should die never having enjoyed the company of a woman, or a fine meal, or drink. Back at the Eye, I ordered him some pleasure-making powders and fine mead. We were enjoying the offerings, at least I was and Sahil was trying them.

As we sat a dwarf came to us. He sat and created magical silence. He had a magic globe to make the silence and to watch the outside of the Eye. He warned us that Soole is a disguised barghest. The dwarf said Soole had hired many other hapless folk to go south to Listenshire, and none ever returned and were presumed dead. The dwarf urged us to go east. My own experiences led me to believe that the source of the marauders lie in the Curna mountains to the east. Suddenly that dwarf panicked and said he must flee. After he left, a drow in a huge, wide hat appeared. Sahil said this drow was the deliverer of the note and money that led us to Soole. I decided we should get out of the public eye. We retired to our rented room. Not long after that, a small human boy delivered a note to our room. It said, “Seek the path to the sacred shrine.”

Soon Setibyr, Enalda, Shino and Danjo returned. We heard a scream outside and went to look. The dwarf that came to Sahile and me earlier was dead, nearly decapitated in the alley outside the Eye. Soon magical portals opened and a wizard, a storm-giant, and some others emerged. They were the local authorities and came to investigate the death. They immediately took charge and started to question witnesses. I knew it was only a matter of time that someone revealed that I had been talking to the dwarf not one bell past. I volunteered all that I knew about the dead dwarf, the drow in the big hat, and Soole to the Storm Giant. I wanted to get the magic globe from the dwarf’s satchel, but I knew the giant would not allow it, so I told him it was there, in order to build trust. I then told the Storm Giant about the note that told us to seek the path of the Sacred Shrine." The giant seem surprised, but told me that the <something> was a location in the Curna Mountains where Tormtar and followers of the Red Knight trained to do battle against an uprising of beholders centuries ago. He did specifiy that it was less than one thousand years. Soon afterward I was released. We went back to our room.

I began to realize the depth of our error of entering the city in such a visible way and talking to the crowds. We were being watched, and had made that very easy by openly frolicking in what is likely the most-watched establishment in the city. I wanted to leave the city, but it will be very, very difficult to leave undetected. I began to devise a plan to sneak my hulking companions from the Eye unseen, when suddenly it got very warm.

A fire was blazing in the hall outside our room, and we were trapped with no window! This was a clear attempt to kill us! Acting quickly, Setibyr swung his huge hammer. As soon as the door was open I said, “Quick! Everyone out!” I bolted out. I was singed a bit, but not too badly, all things considered.

I realized this was a perfect opportunity for my companions and me to leave the Eye in the cover of confusion. I gathered them about me and bade them stay, while I acquired the necessary things to disguise them. The fool drow who first greeted us, tried to force us to leave the building with the rest of the crowd. I ignored him and went about my business of trying to save the lives of my friends. Of course, they were not where I left them five minutes later. I went outside with a bundle of blankets and they were already under attack in the alley! Someone was shooting at them with a hand crossbow. I recognized the small size of the bolts. A drow weapon! I kept my distance and followed my friends, looking for their attacker. I heard Enalda say they were going to the Temple of Lucha. I knew they would be safe if they made it there. I wandered off and got a room for the night.

The next day, talk all over was about the murder and the fire. I ate and disguised myself as an elderly gnome, Bliztagath a tinker fallen on hard times, with a limp! I limped to the Temple of Lucha and waited. I decided to examine these crints I got last night. They looked Dambrathy, but I soon discovered they were enchanted slugs. Tymora’s tit! After a few bells my companions emerged in chains! I followed at distance, and soon their guards were attacked from the rooftops by a drow assassin with a hand crossbow! I could see the group was about to be slain in the street! I rushed to their sides and cast Obscuring Mist . I freed Setibyr from his chains so he could lift one of the fallen companions. Soon we were surrounded by a magical sphere of flame and then lights and then we were rescued by agents of the law and escorted to safety once more.

Alas the dirty, drow managed to escape the authorities. That worries me. These authorities are very powerful, and this drow must be, as well.

The authorities finally realized what I deduced hours ago. We have powerful enemies who are not cowed by the laws in Lashtar. Unless they wanted chaos in their city, it was in their best interest to help us sneak out. They did.

Under a Hallucinatory Terrain spell, modified obviously, we left Lashtar and headed east toward the Curna mountains.

On the second day we were attacked by lizard bird men. We killed one and the other fled, to look for easier, less capable food.

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Murder in the Merchant City

I think I have had enough of this adventuring. So much has happened, and I think we are in over our heads. Our time at The Eye enjoying a break from the desert was interrupted by a drow with a rather large hat. He gave each of us a sack of 125 crintz, and he also gave us a scroll that Sahil was able to decipher. It instructed us to go to the Tailor’s Truth to speak with the proprietor about a possible job. I had some very strong reservations about taking such a job considering our current contract. Tuck had no reservations about anything and took some kind of mood elevating herb before leaving to spend some time with one of the hin women who sold her body for coin. I don’t understand the appeal of being with someone that you must pay to tolerate your company, but perhaps it’s a custom of his race or where he is from to not form deep attachments. Either way, it did give us time to discuss the situation.

When he returned, we paid for our meals and decided to head towards the shop. We were in agreement that interfering with our contract was not wise, but speaking with the man should not lead us to any harm so long as we were careful with what we disclosed. While we waited to speak with the man who had summoned us, Setibyr commissioned some work from a silversmith. I was rather disappointed to see that the smith had nothing bearing the insignia of my Lady. I suppose I can understand that it would be difficult to display works from every temple, but I cannot afford to wait about town for a piece of artwork. I’m certain I can find a smith in Assur upon our return and have my Lady’s sign placed on my scabbard then. Until then, I will have to carry her in my heart and on my holy symbol and display her in my works.

The tailor, as he claimed to be, was rather interested in us and our travels. We disclosed to him that we were employed by the Lady to complete a job, but we made sure to stay rather vague. He offered us each a total of 4,000 crintz for the completion of a job where we found what was causing the stoppage of goods along the trade way. He claimed that he only had the funds to survive for four more tenday before he would have to close his shop. I immediately became rather suspicious about his offer of payment for our completion of his job. If he was in such a bad way financially, there is no way he would be able to afford paying six adventurers a total of 24,000 crintz. We left to discuss our options and seek legal counsel before making a decision. On our way back to The Eye for the night, Setibyr and I stopped to resupply our rations and replace the barrel that had exploded during our trip. Once our shopping was complete, we met back up with Danjo and Shino and returned to The Eye.

From here, things went downhill quickly. Tuck and Sahil informed us that a dwarf warned them against working with the tailor, Suhl. According to the dwarf, Suhl was an evil man and all that were employed by him disappeared into the desert and were never heard from again. The desert is a rather cruel place at the moment so I could believe that anyone sent out could meet their end quickly. I was not sure that was entirely indicative of the tailor being evil, but it was certainly something to consider. His willingness to part with large sums of gold that he may not actually have was far more concerning to me than other adventurers not returning from the hostile desert. I care little for the money itself, but question his abilities and motives if he would so easily part with crintz in a city that revolves around money.

We decided to retire for the night to discuss our situation more privately. I offered up our room as Tuck and Sahil said that they had had a messenger approach them previously in the larger room. I thought ours might be more private and may not be being watched as closely as the room that was housing majority of our group. Shortly after we entered, a terrible scream rang through The Eye. There had been a murder right outside the front doors! The dwarf that had warned Sahil and Tuck about the tailor was nearly decapitated.

We got our first taste of the law enforcement of Lastar at that point when they can to investigate the murder. They were incredibly no nonsense. Quite frankly, they were terrifying. They questioned Sahil and Tuck before they left with the dwarf’s body. We returned to The Eye to finish our discussion and possibly find different, less conspicuous lodging for the night. Again, we went to our smaller room. Danjo entered with some kind of vibrant alcoholic drink. I really did not feel it to be the appropriate time to be getting drunk, but I stayed quiet. I have spent enough time working in the tavern to understand that some need to kill their emotions with alcohol, though I may not agree. He did, at least, choose to wait to drink the concoction.

He did not need to wait long. There was a fire started in our hallway and we were swiftly put in the position of needing to escape from a burning room. We managed, but chaos now reigned in The Eye and just outside. Patrons had been evacuated and were milling about outside. Danjo, who had downed the drink before running through the fire, was passed out on the ground. Either the drink was strong or his tolerance was terrible.

Setibyr made to help carry him away from the crowd, but he was struck with a bolt. Normally would have taken such a small hit in stride. It would have angered him, but it would not have done much other than be an annoying small wound. I watched in horror as my brother dropped. Surely such a small wound should not have brought him down! I pulled the bold from his neck and was hit with one as well. I felt a stinging and realized right away that these bolts were poisoned. I did not succumb and realized we needed to get him to a healer right away. I did not know the nature of the poison.

Lady have mercy, I was terrified. I could see my brother’s eyes and knew he was aware of his surroundings, but he could not move and could not talk. His breathing seemed more labored and he could not support himself. More bolts continued to rain down on us. I was able to withstand whatever poison they had been coated with, thank the Lady. I carried my brother as swiftly as I could and we begged for entry at the temple of Lucha. They were hesitant, but allowed us in where there was safety.

They healed my brother. For that I am forever in the Lady’s debt. The priest said that poison was called the Tears of Death. Had we not gotten to the temple when we did, Setibyr would have died. My brother, so healthy and so strong, would have died to a simple bolt. My Lady is the only reason he survived. I could offer up my prayers every waking moment for the rest of my life and not have given Her enough thanks. I donated some gold to the temple to help the monetary costs of healing him, but the remainder of my debt will be paid with prayers and deeds. Once we have finished this cursed job, Setibyr and I will need to sit down and discuss our future and whether we should quit adventuring. I am ready to be done now. Quietly running the tavern is seeming more appealing every day. I don’t know that it would satisfy him, but perhaps I can appeal to him by offering to set up shop in a different city. I know Lath has too many difficult memories for him.

The next morning, we were able to send one of the priests out to purchase replacement goods for us. I sent paid him with the crintz from the tailor. This turned out to be a grave mistake. I had suspected that there was some sort of tracking spell on our bag of crintz and planned to leave the entire bag with the temple, minus the cost of a new desert outfit, but the crintz were fake! We were accused of passing fake coin and were shackled and sent to be interrogated, despite our insistence that we did not know it was fake. I had not wanted to keep any sort of payment from this tailor and certainly did not want a bag that could lead him to us, but I never dreamed the crintz was fake, especially in a city where money was so very important and respected.

During our trip to be interrogated, we were targeted by the assassin with the poison bolts again. He dropped our guards and Shino and Sahil were affected as well. Knowing what we did, we knew we had limited time to get them aide. We could not seek asylum with the temple of Lucha, however. As we were trying to decide on a course of action, the city guards sprang to our rescue and returned us to the temple. I had my doubts as to whether they’d let us in, but the guards overruled the priest who had sent us to be interrogated. Finally, someone listened to us and did not brand us as criminals. He convinced the priest that they must help us flee the city as we had been attacked three times in less than a full day. The attacks on us were putting other innocent citizens in harm’s way. They agreed to sneak us outside of the city, and we took them up on the offer.

Once we were back outside of the city, it was a little easier to relax. We could not let our guard down entirely, but the assassination attempts had stopped. The only thing trying to kill us now was pterafolk. Far easier to contend with than sneaking drow. For now, I’m happy to be back outside the city where we can see our threats coming from afar.

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Trouble on the trade way
Wondrous sights in Lastar

We captured a hobgoblin and attempted to extract information from him, but we had no clear ways of communication to him. We decided to keep him captive and wait until we arrived at our destination and then have someone else translate for us. On our path he managed to escape somehow and ran off. We tracked him, and by we, I mean mostly Sahil and Tuck. This hobgoblin had managed to run off with not supplies and fell victim to the harshness of the desert. No information could be gathered this way, but one of the others spoke of a spell that could allow one to speak with the dead. Fascinating, I will have to try and study this spell at a later date.
Getting closer to Lastar we found a group of wagons damaged beyond repair with the bodies of countless men, no women, littered around the place. It seems crude harnesses were constructed to hold these men down to be raped. What type of fucking vile monstrosities are we going to encounter here? As we continued still, we found yet another group of wagons, this time with Lastar in sight! It seems the city state would do nothing outside of their walls, pathetic it seems to push for trade and yet offer no protection for the merchants.
This group of wagons was set ablaze by some kind of oily black tar, and when mixed into water is became violently volatile. This explosion I feared would bring the marauders back into the camp to rape the lot of us to death; this is not a fate I wish to endure, so I suggested, rather forcefully, that we needed to depart NOW.
At the city gates we were “greeted” by the city guard. They asked a few questions and set us about our business, nothing really important to note about these guards, except they were in mass number and many seemed very, very capable.
Inside the city, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Races I had only read about and heard mention of once or twice. It was really a feast for the eyes. If I did not have pressing business I might spend many months here to learn much of what this place has to offer, but for now we have business.
We made arrangements to possible have that spell to speak to the dead hobgoblin cast for us, but we will have to wait and see what happens.
The most wondrous thing I have ever seen, no one will ever believe me back home in Wa, this in has a beholder as a keeper. Pours drinks and talks to patrons. What the hell? Even the music and the entertainment are not like any I had ever seen. If I were a rich man, I would spend my life inside of this city and learn every secret that it has to offer me, but I must be ready to finish my tasks, both immediate, reopening the trade route, and the long term, helping Danjo reclaim his land. Both are equally important to me, as I gave my word to do so, and my word is my bond.

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The Man from Iiso Supplemental 1
A Treatise on my companions

A fledgling Phoenix
A snapping turtle
A small talking Thrush
Twin Celestials

Much has come to pass in the days since my second and I first agreed to do business for the temple of Lucha in Assur. We have met with a myriad force of people which include two Celestial children who seem to embody the combined fury of a typhoon. Setibyr a well fed slightly bestial boy who reminds me of the local Bushi fighters from my Time in WA. Headstrong and bullish but with a force that could shatter even the best equipped force if underestimated. His sister Enalda is much more the dedicated bulwark. A grace in movement and speech which has not yet been tempered and untested but holds a wealth of potential. I must watch them carefully and invest in their growth to produce the best return on my investment. Shino has taken a professional interest in the magics exhibited by another of our companions a Hin gentleman by the same of Tuck Arbuckle. He is an enthusiastic speaker and quite sly in his dealings from what I’ve seen. Though a capable fighter and somewhat relentless capable of riding down fleeing foes on his mount a mule. Like a speckled snapping turtle or one of the carnivorous rabbits of Shidekima. Mr Arbuckle is unassumingly dangerous and I am thankful to have him as a business associate. Then comes an even more assuming and curious member Sahil an unwashed Urchin from the land of Ormpe. Despite his station I am quite interested in his cultivation. To see the boy work astounds me. I have little grasp on the finer points of what the magically inclined call the Weave or the will of the Kami. Though even I can see that Sahil is blessed his avian companion Pak-Pak and It’s grasp of the common tongue is a testament to that. Finally I must speak of my second Shino Fumei. I firstly cannot and will not discount his importance to many of my political successes and even my continued success that is my own survival. The boy is well schooled and has a voracious mind and an encouraging curiosity. Though his stern will and driven nature and in my opinion his most admirable traits. Though he is not the most powerful of Shugenja I have no doubt should he live he will become powerful. A fledgling phoenix will he burst and fade away or will he live to set the world ablaze. It strikes me I suppose that the same sentiment can be said for the pair of us or even possibly this entire expedition. Are we to burn out bright and fade away or smolder on and grow into a great inferno.

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The first leg completed

18 Eleasis 1372
1832 days have passed

Tuck had managed to kill the fleeing hobgoblin and returned to us. We tied the sleeping hobgoblin up as well as the bleeding bugbear. Danjo woke the bugbear up and tried to communicate with it, to no avail. The bugbear did not understand us, and we could not collectively speak a language it did understand. Finding the wounded bugbear useless, Danjo quickly ended his life with a quick stroke of his blade. I was not familiar with the type of blade he used, but he certainly handled it with finesse.

The now-waking hobgoblin witnessed this execution and stayed very calm and compliant, even though he, too, did not understand our language. Danjo made some hand gestures to the hobgoblin indicating that if he fled, he would die. The hobgoblin seemed to understand. We took him with us to turn him over to authorities.

The following day, we came upon a truly horrific sight. Another caravan of wagons, circled, and clearly ravaged. The bodies had been tied up and defiled. I lost focus on my surroundings and continued to walk forward. I could not hear my companions call to me. Had bandits been waiting, they surely would’ve gotten the jump on me. Though after what I witnessed, I would have relished welcoming them appropriately.

I cut the bonds that kept the bodies bound and freed what remained of the corpses. Their bones at rest, I held one hand and made a plea to Hoar. Please, let me find the lawless monsters who would commit such a heinous act that I may reap the seeds of revenge sown here. These were people with families, with futures, and all of that had been stolen from them and worse, they lived their last moments in shame and agony. I begged Hoar to please guide me, please call upon me to right this injustice. I would make them regret being born.

I couldn’t take it any longer. I had managed to compose myself and approach the grisly scene, but the rush of emotions overwhelmed me. I drew my hammer and proceeded to smash the wooden sawhorses that the bodies were previously bound to. The physical release would have normally helped me to calm down, but I was still furious. I grabbed the hobgoblin and dragged him to the bodies. Drawing my blade, I made it clear to him that if he had anything to do with this, his life was forfeit. He obviously didn’t respond to my shouting, waving my blade around, or kicking him in the face. Still unsatisfied, I spit in his face and walked away. Danjo, meaning well, sought to calm me. He placed his hand on my shoulder and tried to speak to me. It took all of my willpower to just push his arm away and not outright break his wrist. We have only been together a few days, I do not trust you to touch me, stranger. Next time, I might not hold back.

We left the caravan wreckage and began back South. In the middle of the next night, Tuck released our hobgoblin prisoner in an effort to learn where he was camped at. Three of us had been told to chase him to the North and we did as we were told. We were instructed to go an hour North, then return South while Tuck, Sahil, and Danjo tried to follow the hobgoblin’s tracks. Shino and Enalda both realized after running for a short time, that splitting up in the desert like this was a suicidal idea and that we should regroup immediately. It was fortunate that we did, as Tuck and Sahil found the hobgoblin’s track headed East, not North.

We made our way further East until we came across the hobgoblin’s dead body. Though we didn’t learn the exact location of his encampment, we knew the general direction and marked our location on our map for future reference. Danjo and Tuck spoke of a magic spell that would force the hobgoblin’s head to answer questions even after it had died, so they severed the head and carried it with them.

We traveled back West to the main road when we were set upon by another monsoon rain, this time without the flash flood. Our supplies sufficiently protected and covered, we were able to make it through without losses.

The following night we traveled down the road, when out from the ground burst two large black creatures. Sandstone gargoyles, I came to learn. They were tough beasts with thick hides, sharp claws wings, and a horn that came to a point. I became familiar with the horn part quickly, as the creature near Enalda and I attempted to impale me and left a sizable wound. I called upon Hoar to heal my wounds before returning the attack with an impaler of my own: the pointed side of my hammer. I struck hard and true, but the beast’s flesh resisted more than I anticipated and my attack didn’t have the effect I had expected. Enalda shielded me with her divine protection and struck the creature, having the same problem I did. Seeing this, I channeled Hoar’s fury upon the creature, and he guided my next swing through the natural defenses of this chaotic creature and I struck it straight to its core. The creature looked at me almost as if it was in disbelief. After another strike from my hammer, the creature had enough and flew away. I made an attempt to strike it with one of my javelins, but it was much too high.

In the meantime, our four other companions had managed to put the other gargoyle to sleep and kill it that way. The threat was gone and we moved on.

Smoke plumed over the horizon the next day. A raiding party had just set another caravan of wagons on fire. At Tuck’s suggestion, we all hunkered down and simply observed them. They went East, just like the hobgoblin. Once they were completely out of sight, we went to the burning caravan. Danjo and Shino’s attempt to put out the fire ended in disaster, as the water the poured mixed with and alchemical solution on the wagons and exploded. Enalda and I helped the two of them away from the fire and explosions and we decided to leave towards Lastarr with our hides intact. On the way, we saw another raiding party, but made sure to pick up the pace until they were out of sight once more.

At the gates of Lastarr, we were met by a very intimidating welcoming party. They meant business. We were encircled, told to lay down our weapons and explain ourselves. After explaining our purpose, the old man who seemed to be the leader, explained the laws of Lastarr to us and welcomed us in.

Inside the gates, we were quickly set upon by a crowd of people. I grew nervous as more and more people stared at us, calling my sister and I out directly, demanding answers to why noone could travel the roads and how come we were the only ones who could. We did our best to make our way through with minimal panic, but it was very difficult. I could feel my heart racing.

We went to the temple of Lucha to discuss having the spell cast on the head. After much deliberation, it became clear that this temple had no clue about the other temple’s operations, and would not aid us without compensation. The temple of Waukeen was a very similar result, 600 gold pieces to have the spell cast right away. This was too much and I grew very impatient, pacing around the room.

Once the talks were finally over, Sahil and I made our way to the market for information. Information was the entire purpose of our trip, after all. We sought out an alchemist and paid him 5 gold pieces to help us identify the black ooze we had seen burning the caravan. He called it “phlogiston” and said that when the ingredients are mixed together and water is added, it creates a violent reaction that explodes and burns. He said it was a fairly difficult concoction to come by, but not impossible. Sahil seems like a very bright young man, taking this information in and pondering it carefully.

At the end of the day, we went to rest at the Eye, an inn with very exotic entertainment and even more exotic clientele. A beholder barkeep and a Drow maitre d. My sister and I rented a room together and left the others to figure out what they wanted. In the center of this giant arena, a goblin troupe played a war drum beat. They had very admirable drumming ability. This was follower by a necromancer, summoning undead to play music underwater. How strange, indeed.

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The Neverending Desert

These last few days have been incredibly trying. I’m not used to all of the long travels in such a hot climate. Thankfully our friend Sahil has been helping with the heat by casting a spell to allow us to not feel the elements as badly as others around us. Even so, the days seem to drag on, punctuated only by moments of action.

One such moment came while we were escorting the hobgoblin to Lastar for interrogation. We came upon a larger caravan that had been attacked. It was awful. It looked like the men had been tortured and many of them had been tied down and raped. Poor Setibyr. I didn’t know if he would run or fly into a rage. He’s incredibly brave and stood his ground. Instead of fleeing the awful scene, he broke their restraints and prayed for them. He was clearly very distressed, though. I really hope his night terrors don’t start again. I knew we would see some terrible things, but I didn’t think about what we might see affecting my brother so badly.

Later that night, I tried to keep a discreet eye on him. I know he wouldn’t want me doting on him in front of the other men. While we were sleeping, our hin friend, Tuck, took it upon himself to untie the hobgoblin prisoner, who promptly fled. Why, I do not know. It certainly made a lot more work for us as we tried to recapture him. We foolishly split up before realizing that separating in a desert was quite possibly a death sentence, especially in an area where we could easily become disoriented and lost. When we did get back together and locate the hobgoblin, he had died from the extreme heat. He had not been prepared when he fled our camp and had succumb to the elements. Now he was dead and useless to us. One of the members of our party suggested that we could possibly speak with him from beyond the grave, so his head was cut off and taken with us.

After another short monsoon, we came upon another caravan and a mob heading away from it. This one was ablaze! Shino and Danjo tried to put out the fire so we could look at the contents of one of the wagons, but it exploded once they poured water on it!! I’ve never seen such a fire or such an explosion! Not knowing any way to put out the fire, we fled. We were just outside of Lastar and were surrounded by a group of guards, who no doubt had seen the fire and explosion. They interrogated us and let us know that the rules of their city-state were incredibly strict before allowing us inside.

Once we were inside, we were beset by the townspeople who wanted to know about the trade routes from Assur and the state of the city. They were starting to panic and Tuck was able to work some kind of magics to calm them so we could head to the temple of Lucha. Finally I was back somewhere that I could be comfortable! I told the initiate about our job from the temple in Assur. We all serve the same lady, so I saw no problem in giving them the news of how the trade routes are and the conditions in Assur. I’m sure the Lady has revealed some of this to higher followers anyway. Technically, we are employed by the temple of Lucha so I consider them my employers as well.

We tried to find someone to give us information from the severed head, but the price was rather steep. The temple of Lucha would not let us ask questions or be present at the spell casting so we did not want them to perform the ritual. We tried bartering at some of the temples, but it would be at least 600 crintz just to ask three questions. Who knows if we would ask the right questions! While we considered our options, we went to an inn and tavern called The Eye. There were all manners of beings there, including one called a Beholder! I’m sure my eyes were bigger than saucers, and I hope I did not show how little I know of such exotic races. I have a feeling I will meet a great many more in this strange city!

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Sahil's First Miracle: Part II

Somewhere between Assur and Lastarr, in the month of Eleasias, 1372

The hobgoblin’s swollen tongue lolled from between his cracked and blood-flecked lips as he lay on the ground, dehydrated, dead.

During the night, Tuck the Hin had taken it upon himself to devise a ruse by which he thought the hobgoblin might lead the party back to his fellows. He had run toward the Curna Mountains, but devoid of water or supplies, he covered little ground before succumbing to the oppressive heat of the land.

Sahil was not sure what he thought of the hin’s stratagem, but in this hobgoblin’s death, at least, none of his companions had played a direct role. It was his fate, Sahil thought. Of this one’s death, our hands are clean. Not so the others.

Sahil did not recall who suggested severing the head of the hobgoblin and taking it with them to Lastarr. He remembered only turning his back as the others began their grisly work.

The town of Ormpe in the month of Kythorn, 1368

The goblin boy’s name was Snig, although he insisted that all the other children of the Ormpe slum call him Chieftain Snig. Alternatively, if you were lucky enough to be one of the lackeys who doled out beatings on his behalf rather than receiving them, you could get away with merely calling him Chief. Whatever you called him, though, he was known as the chief bully among the children of the shantytown.

His family had travelled out of the Beastlands when Snig was still a suckling, not wanting their child to experience the short and brutal life lived under the lash like so many of their race. True to their reputation, the people of The Shining Lands tolerated the goblin family’s presence among them, but tolerance is still a far cry from kindness: Freedom from the threat of harm is one thing; the promise of profitable living, another entirely.

It was hard enough for humans to find work in Ormpe. For goblins, it was nigh impossible. And so Snig’s family joined the rest of the masses here in the Quarter of No Hope eeking out a different type of short and brutal existence than that they had left.

Now, one could suggest that Snig turned bully because bullying was in his blood. One could suggest alternatively that the slums had the potential to turn even the kindest heart mean. Regardless of the cause, Snig had an early advantage at bullying insofar as goblins reach their full size long before their human peers, and that was enough for him to establish himself atop the pecking order long before his human contemporaries began to overshadow him in stature.

Sahil watched as Snig and his lackeys pushed themselves through the crowd of children. At its center was the barrel of clean, fresh water provided by Ashvath the Carter, who had long since left to carry on with the last of the day’s deliveries.

“Oy, did you pay for that water?” Snig snarled, peering down his wrinkled green nose at a small child named Navesh, not yet seven years old. “Because nothing’s free, friend, and you owe a water tax to Chieftain Snig.”

He smacked the child’s wooden bowl to the ground, and the spilled water turned red upon the dusty clay.

“Now, all you idiots, form an orderly queue like good children. Bring your tribute to Chieftain Snig and you’ll get your due. Never let it be said that Chieftain Snig is anything but fair, right lads?” he said, turning to the young thugs in his employ, who were snickering through idiotic, toothy grins.

Someone picked up a rock.

“This won’t end well,” whispered Sahil to his newfound bird companion, as the pair watched from beneath the eaves of a nearby shanty.

“End well! End well!” the bird tweeted. Sahil assumed the bird was merely repeating a phrase in a tongue that it seemed to be slowly learning. He had little time to contemplate the animal’s true meaning. Instead, he watched as a rock struck Snig right on the side of his boney green brow. It was hurled by the child Navesh, who ran away even as the crowd smelled blood and surged forward.

The crowd pushed forward. Snig and his fellows pushed back with a flurry of fisticuffs. And then, from amid the crowd, came a wet crash and a surge of water rushing past the crowd’s feet and stirring the red clay into a muddy slurry. The crowd parted, a stunned look on every face. The barrel had been overturned, the precious water spoiled.

“Enough!” The shout came from Sahil. He was chiefly known among them as the awkward child who had recently taken up the habit of holding whispered conversations with an albino pet bird. But now, his fists were clenched and his eyes ablaze with a light that suggested more than mundane anger.

The crowd parted as he approached. “You two,” he shouted to two of the burlier bullies. “Right that barrel.”

They obeyed, and Sahil stood behind the now-upright barrel, clenching the rim with white knuckled anger. “You fight over the water that quenches the body’s thirst, but you forget generosity and compassion for your fellows. That is the true water that satisfies the soul.”

“But if you would have mere water, then you shall have water enough.” Sahil began to intone a prayer beneath his breath, and his hands began to glow with a faint light. Soon, water began to trickle from his fingertips into the barrel. The trickle became a torrent, and the crowd watched in stunned silence as the water rose within the barrel until it began to overflow and pour over the rim. The children began to approach tentatively at first, then more eagerly, scooping water from their barrel and sharing it among the crowd.

Sahil drew a cup of water himself and offered it to Snig, who only stared in a combination of fear and wonder. “You who once demanded tribute will now render it onto another.”

Snig began to rifle through the folds of his garment, searching for whatever coppers he could find and fearing that any moment a bolt of divine wrath might strike down from the heavens.

Sahil merely smiled. “No, not unto me, friend. Unto them. The adama has seen fit to grant you a gift. Your companions obey your commands. But you shall no longer command them to take for your own benefit. You shall command them to give. Whenever we receive bread or water or any good thing, you shall ensure that everyone here gets what is needful and fair. Now, share a drink with me, friend." And with that, Snig took the cup from Sahil’s hand and drank.

From that day forward, the goblin Snig became Sahil’s most devoted disciple. And thus came to pass the first miracle of the child priest of the Ormpe trashpickers.

The Free City of Lastarr in the month of Eleasias, 1372

For the better part of the day, Sahil’s companions had walked from temple to temple, his companions haggling with priests and acolytes over the cost of a rite that would allow them to communicate with the severed head of the hobgoblin.

At this, Sahil was deeply confused, first over the idea that wonderworkers capable of such a miracle could be so plentiful that one could shop around for the better deal, and second, that miracles should be bartered and sold at all for such unimaginable prices.

The last of the temples wanted more than six-hundred gold. Sahil had no experience with such sums. His remembered only the barking of the street merchants in Ormpe, “Loaf of bread, two coppeeers! Loaf of bread, two coppeeers!” His brow creased as he counted calculated the numbers in his head. Thirty-thousand loaves. Thirty-thousand starving souls who, for just one day, might feel a respite from hunger.

It seemed a poor bargain for a moment of conversation with a severed head that, even when attached to its original shoulders, offered little in the way of helpful advice.

That evening, the party retired to a tavern called The Eye for a moment of respite and entertainment, but what Sahil observed there only continued to vex his soul, people spending gold freely on wine and women and gaudy spectacles.

“These too! These too!” whistled Pak-Pak quietly into Sahil’s ear.

Indeed, Sahil thought. These too. I must not forget that the adama dwells as much in those who forget as in those who are forgotten. He withdrew from his bag his wooden begging bowl. He touched its rim gently, watched as it filled with fresh water, and drank.

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Arrival in Laster
Burned Caravans, raped bodies

We collected fat from the dead horses in this caravan. There was very little other wealth. We killed the bugbear prisoner, and obtained a very compliant hobgoblin prisoner, with whom we were unable to speak.

We continued on our way to Laster, trying to stay alive and find information to take back to Assur. Those 900 crints will come in handy. I disguised myself as a goblin and used my magic so I could understand anything the hobgoblin might say. He didn’t say anything useful, so I released him to see what way he would go. As I suspected he headed right for the Curna mountains. We tracked him down but he was dead from the heat by the time we caught him. We decided to take his head so a priest could talk to it in Laster.

About two days later we came across a slaughtered caravan. The wagons and many of the bodies were burned. They men of the caravan, there were no women, had clearly been raped. Nothing of value remained. Danjo wanted to bury the dead. I sat nearby while he did what he felt he had to do.

Later we saw a caravan burning brightly and 20 riders on horseback racing away. For a moment I was afraid that Danjo or Setibyr would race after them! Luckily they followed my lead in hiding and letting them pass. The wagons were blazing brightly when we got there. I suggested we try to douse the flame from a burning box to see what was being transported. Putting water on the crate was disastrous! It exploded and burned hotter. There was a thick, black liquid substance on the crate and other items. It would be helpful if we could learn what this liquid is, and where it comes from. Clues! This is the sort of information that will get us paid in Assur. Of course, if the city falls, it’s not worth the risk to go back there for the crints.

We made it to Laster. Some riders and a wizard met us outside the city. The wizard was as proud as a cock on a fence post. No doubt what we were allowed to see was in illusion. They searched every last container, so it’s lucky I had nothing to hide. I asked the wizard’s name and he refused to tell me. The laws seem strict in Laster. This is a city of thousands, so for now I will simply think on how I can get rich here. The easy pickings usually give the smallest of rewards.

The frightened masses in the city started to swarm us when they heard we made it from Assur. I did my best to placate them with morsels of information, finally I had to bewitch a few so we could simply get past their dirty grasping hands. We took the hobgoblin head to a temple of Lucha. We told them we were working for the Temple of Lucha in Assur and they couldn’t care less. They wanted to know what we know and Danjo told them everything and got nothing in return. They would not cast the speaking dead spell on the head. We went to two more temples. Finally at the Temple of Waukeen, where we were treated properly, as they work hard to separate one from his gold, we started to bargain for the casting of the spell. They want 675 gold to cast the spell today! My companions are a destitute lot and I am not spending my gold this. That is more than I stand to get paid for this entire job! I’ve dickered with the priest, trying to convince him that the knowledge is as valuable to them as it is to us. So far, he has come a bit in my direction, but he still yields.

We left the church and under the suggestion of the priest there, we obtained lodging at the Eye. This is a place worthy of mention! We saw lizardmen, goblins, drow, bugbears, and a beholder, who seems to be the owner of the Eye. The Eye is a spherical structure with a stage in the center where all many of strange creatures perform. It is illegal to kill goblins and other vile races in this city, which is why the drow are allowed to walk free. So back to the drow. My first instinct was to kill, but of course, I know nothing of his capabilities beyond the fact that I don’t wish to face the legal consequences. He said he’s been here for 22 years and he works in the Eye. I wonder if he is exiled from his family, or working as a spy for them. Those drow have schemes inside of schemes, and I saw them turn on each other in a blink of an eye. I hope no one recognizes me as an escaped slave. I will bribe or kill any who try to capture me, damn the laws!

Someone in this city is connected to those robbers and burners in the desert. It only stands to reason. Also, someone in the city must have seen that caravan that was just burned. Surely it would have either originated in Laster, bought or sold goods in Laster, or at least stopped for provisions there. Lastly, I don’t care how vigorous the laws are enforced in any city, there are people making money by breaking those laws. It would good, and maybe profitable, to get in touch with them.

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The first taste is always free

13 Eleasis 1372
1827 days have passed

Enalda and I stepped off the ship on the 10th and we were immediately overwhelmed by the oppressive heat. We knew we couldn’t don our armor in this weather, and our first stop off the boat was to purchase clothing for this climate.

What a busy city Assur is. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of different races of creature reside here without notice. People only glanced at us as we walked through the city, no stares, no murmurs, just sweet anonymity. I took a deep breath of the humid air as I felt a small weight off my chest.

We spent the day wandering the city, the plan being to familiarize ourselves with the city prior to heading to the temple the following day. Once we had our supplies, we went to the cheapest inn we could find, a salty establishment called “The Kraken’s Afterbirth.” We got what we paid for, a simple room, a watered-down beer, and some stale bread. The clientele all seemed to be pretty grizzled sailors. They minded their business, though, and no one seemed to care about us. While eating, I overheard some talk about how the inns were filling up and people were having trouble finding a place to sleep. The Temple jobs were attracting many people, it seemed.

On the 11th, we rose early and made our way to the already-long lines of the temple. It was already getting hot, even though the sun had yet to rise. We made our way to the end of the line and waited several bells. Some musicians had made their way to the temple, playing for coin, while merchants made their way up and down the lines selling umbrellas and water.

Our wait ended when a temple priest approached us and asked what we did. I didn’t quite understand what he meant by what we did. I eat, I breathe, I shit, why do you care? I pointed to my weapons and he clarified that he wanted to know what we were skilled at. I understood that a bit better and Enalda told him we were tavern security. Yeah, that’s probably the best way to put it. We were told to join a group and ushered into the temple.

Inside the temple, we sat with roughly 10 people when another priest entered to conduct an interview. He casted some sort of spell to require us to tell the truth. That was fine, there was no chance he was going to ask anything that I didn’t want to divulge. He began by asking several questions about if any had committed various crimes. The applicants filtered out until there were five of us. Enalda, myself, two men from the East, and a rather young man. The men were Danjo and Shino. As we were asked about our experience, Danjo divulged that he once led companies of men into battle and had slain many. It was really fascinating that one as calm as he had truly experienced so much. It made me slightly embarrassed to say that I had no actual combat experience. Shino was his companion, and we learned through the questioning, he seemed good at magical arts. The two of them seemed reluctant to speak of why they left their homeland. The young one was Sahil, a local with restorative abilities and the gift to create water, a vital ability in this environment.

Upon explaining our usefulness, we were given our task: travel the Southern trade road and investigate the reason for why the trade has stopped. We were given 100 crints to supply and were promised another 900 if we returned with information with a bonus available if we were to return with a lot of information. Made sense. We set out once again for more supplies and met with our new companions down by the docks, where a Hinn named Tuck, the assistant harbormaster. He offered us work and a place to stay for the night, guarding the warehouses. The inns were full and people were sleeping in the hot boats, so this seemed like a much better option.

On the 12th, we waited for the temple messenger by the dock. Upon his arrival, we showed him the coin we were given to show that we were not imposters and he led us to the temple. Tuck tagged along with Shino and Danjo. On our arrival, Tuck requested to join our group. The elegant lycan priest advised he would have to give up his harbormaster profession, which he did. We were made to sign a contract for the work and given a mark that meant we could not take on additional work until out job was done. Enalda spent a bell praying to her deity before we left, and I waited outside for her.

We set out a third time for more supplies, this time under the paid advice of a local Ranger. He seemed extremely knowledgeable about the environs and gave us a long shopping list which we immediately set out and stocked up. Tuck purchased two camels and a mule to carry the supplies.

We finally left the city that night, as the temperature began to finally drop. On our way out, we passed a massive grouping of tents outside the city. A city of tents, filled with people looking for work. It was truly fascinating to see so many people with nowhere to go.

We traveled the first day without any trouble. The heat was worse than previous days, but Shino and Sahil were able to keep us magically comfortable. What luck to be paired with these two.

The 13th brought us a couple of trials. Enalda was able to survey the skies and knew a storm would be upon us within the day, and we were at the worst possible location for a flash flood. We hustled as fast as we could for better ground when the rain set on us in an instant. A flash flood wave came crashing across the sands and knocked almost everyone down. I was able to stay on my feet, but only barely. Enalda lost her footing briefly, then stuck her weapon into the ground to balance herself and seeing that, I did the same. Around a half bell later, the rushing water was gone just like it had come. Looking around, we hadn’t lost anyone, but we did lose an entire barrel of whale fat. Danjo lost some tea, and Tuck lost some clothing, but otherwise we escaped the flood mostly unscathed.

A few bells later, as the sun was rising, we came upon some wagons that looked ransacked. Suspecting foul play, Enalda and I donned our chain shirts and approached slowly when our companions were fired upon with arrows. Three hobgoblins and a bugbear were hiding behind the wagons. Seeing my first opportunity to test myself, I ran for the biggest threat: The bugbear. Enalda followed me as Danjo fired an arrow back, slaying one immediately. The bugbear made to strike first with a mace, but I dodged out of the way and countered with a blow from my hammer. The hammer struck true to the beast’s chest, clearly breaking ribs. Enalda followed up with her blade as Tuck put a hobgoblin to sleep. The last remaining hobgoblin ran as fast as he could. Tuck, seeing this escapee, ran faster than I’ve ever seen someone run. I knew I couldn’t keep up, so I tied up the sleeping hobgoblin in the meantime. Perhaps we had already stumbled across what we were searching for? I can’t imagine this little band of miscreants was the entire reason, but maybe we could learn more from them.

It felt good to finally have physical release. Hoar gave me strength, and with it, I was able to turn this attack back on these bandits. Attack and be attacked.

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From Assur into the hot sand

Both Danjo and I had arrived in the city of Assur for almost a month when the economic troubles began. It seems that trade routes have been pinched off and the city is grinding to a halt. This does not bode well for us, as we have come here seeking a way to regain wealth and power, if the city is starting to dry up then what we seek will surely not be here. Only a few days later both Danjo and I decided to move to the great temple that was offering work to almost anyone with any skill set. We were going to perform our musical talents to entertain those waiting when we were asked if we were going to get in line ourselves. We eventually did and were directed into a small room.
Actually that’s not exactly true, I told the man asking us questions about my skill sets and he informed me that I should wait in a different line than Danjo, reluctantly I did so, only to be pulled from line to go meet back up with him. It was rather silly in hindsight, a mistake I will not make a second time.
In this smaller room, there was 5 other people than myself; Danjo, the man hiring us, and 3 others. It seemed that we were to inspect a trade route and make sure it was still open (obviously not) or figure out why it was not. Any information towards figuring this out was desired, but if we were to go above the simple portion of the task and dig deeper, we would be rewarded even further.
We then spoke about meeting up, all 5 of us on the docks so we could be roused easily for when this task was ready to become official.
It happened the next day, and the assistant harbor master, Tuck Arbuckle, seemed eager to join us in our little venture. Seems the coin guaranteed was enough to have him turn a new leaf. So now the 6 of us entered into this arrangement to inspect the trade route. Danjo, Tuck the Halfling, Setibyr and Enalda both Aasimar, and Sahil a human.
We first set to get outfitted for the adventure we were about to undertake. It was expensive and quickly used up all my resources available, I had to borrow money from Setibyr, they offered to lend me some, and to be repaid once the task at hand was complete.
Finally we were ready, fresh supplies, two camels, and a mule, and the willingness to succeed no matter how onerous it was. The first day or so, it was hot, but between magic of myself and Sahil, we were able to keep the 6 of us from succumbing to the extreme heat, and this Sahil could also produce water from his magical abilities; a very useful gift in this wasteland.
A couple of days into this journey there was a flash flood, and it damn near washed us all away with it. Almost all of us were knocked on our asses! One by one, we each dug a weapon in the ground to gain sure footing in this and just let the water pass us by; then, to rebuild our broken supplies and what not. Another day into our travel we noticed the first sign of trouble with the route. Trade wagons broken along the route. We slowly approached the wagons to inspect them.
We were only around 50ft from them when 3 hobgoblins jumped out along with a bugbear, and attacked us. Two arrows bounced from my armor, but Danjo was not so lucky. We quickly dispatched these rather savage beasts, Setibyr is a mighty warrior and Enalda is very stout, these two will no doubt be good companions in a battle. Sahil used some form of magic, I didn’t get to see what, but he somehow weakened the bugbear, impressive to say the least. One hobgoblin decided to run away from us and Tuck gave chase to him. For such a small man, he ran with such haste, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with him. I believe my companions are worth traveling with, I only hope they can feel the same about both Danjo and me, though we have yet to show our prowess in battle. Soon I fear we will prove ourselves. Danjo will no doubt show his abilities to wield his sword with the swiftness only one such samurai could, and I will consume our adversaries with the flame.

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