Forward Into Danger

Smoke On the Water

An on-hand account of the exploration of the Wild Mists, as told by Fluin Roole, A.S.; late of Raxus

“…and five weeks without sight of land, the whole crew were naturally spooked. Seven years I been afloat, and no time before have the stakes been this high. The Admiralty (all gnomes still…we’re out here fighting and dying, it’d be nice to do it aboard a human-run ship) put us out to sea in the Far Reaches, where control of the safe passages between the Wild Seas is still hotly contested. It’s just too long a jaunt from the Home Waters for the short ones to keep supplied and defended, not to mention there’s little refuge betwixt for the birds and their RIders.

Good luck finding a crew to garrison THOSE islands, says I. Even our bo’sun (an old-salt gnome, goes by Delru) affirms that the stoutest dwarven axe-men tremble at being left alone on some rock, to the tender mercies of an Orcish kill-pack and whatever comes from the Sundered Mists.

So naturally, it’s humans that Admiralty decided to send out here. Probably because we eat so much.

Oh we’re not all tall and handsome aboard; Captain Erix, Lieutenants Devek and Tam, several dozen senior able seamen, and about a score’s worth of dwarven artillerists and carpenters ship with us, along with a very mysterious little hook-ear that seems to be a magician, but merely ships as the sailing master. He stands on the quarterdeck at all hours, never consulting a chart or instrument, but always whispering to the helsmen…

Whatever he says must influence fate; we sunk a half-dozen orcish brigs on the outbound wind, and happened along the gnome sloop Herring to shift the prisoners and re-supply before ranging beyond any hope of further support.

Captain Erix ordered any last letters shifted to the Herring as well, and the ship’s priest has been in the bow of the ship near-constant for some days now.

The skys ahead….they’re burning."

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Field Report V
Alden Piermont Abercrombie - Flight Cadet

How am I going to waltz back into the eyrie and convince everyone I’ve now slain TWO more wyverns. Does it count that they’re undead? Is Orc involvement a requirement for a wyvern kill to matter?

Anyway…

Without clear standing orders, I’ve agreed to accompany my existing crew on a trip to some desolate caldera to retrieve owlbears for the human emperor. I’m unsure how to I justify this trip, but I’ve made it clear to my companions I will need to bring something back this time. The aid of an eagle rider is a privilege, not a right. Ugh, my father would be proud to hear me say that.

Speaking of father, I may need to strike a deal with Tannin. With the family enforcer stalking me, and having recently refused a fairly large donation, father no doubt is looking to have his investment in my career returned to him. A sum of 900 gold I am not making nearly as quickly as I thought I would. If this venture does not prove profitable, I may have to ask for the money directly. Perhaps if i can discover the source of his is magic he’s been discreetly employing, he’d be willing to pay for my discretion…

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The best of discoveries

I must be more careful in scouting, in general I do not look up as much as I need to. While the circumstances of finding this remote location were nearly my death, I should be able to, with some effort and proper planning turn this location into a fortified supply depot and small holding very easily.

I was nearly eviscerated by a vile and ancient undead hunter, we dispatched a total of 5 of them, 2 in the woods and 3 at the keep. They seemed to be more than just undead, having conjuration magic giving them attacks so cold it killed the flesh around their strikes. Protecting the forlorn keep was also an ancient squad of dwarves raised long ago and a much more recent Rathen marine. I believe that, the body of the necromancer was powerful enough to reanimate the nearby dead so the sailor either washed ashore or was abducted by the flying undead we slew yesterday. I was able to disarm and dispose of the magics around the body and relieve it of what wealth it had left, and his body along with the other undead we found have all been put to the torch and cleansed by Kamen, I searched the area and I was not able to find any additional lingering magic so I believe this place is clear and ready for a much greater glory.

In my swiftness I was almost struck by dark energy, I was luckily able to avoid that but once again I should add to my caution. I was able to find a number of magic items and some items of small value which I gave to the group. I also found the old necromancer’s spell book, and with my current arcane growth being almost nothing this will be a good boon. It would be wrong of me to keep this book however, Ugly has every right to the knowledge as well so I plan on copying the spells into my book then finding a way to give it to him without arising his suspicion to much, perhaps I will give it to him on our return to Gossid and claim I won it in a hand of cards or some other low brow form of entertainment he will be disinclined to pursue further as the book should hold his attention.

Importantly, I have marked on my map the location of this partial fortress. There is a moderately sized harbor (to small for a ship of the line but my previous vessel could fit here without issue) that is all but hidden, completely protected but in need of a complete rebuild (dredged, sides shored up, underwater rocks cleared, new dock, new work area and the path up will need a complete rebuild if anything but a nimble person is to use it). There are no ground level paths to the cove, it is completely enclosed. if coming from overland, there is a poorly maintained path that leads to the structure, a small manor which is carved directly into the mountain, a small open courtyard and an adjacent cave. The courtyard (which thanks to Kamen) now does not need to be jumped to, will need some work, mainly cleaning and reinforcing of the walls and tower. The “manor” is only one large room and a hallway leading to the path down to the cove. The majority of work will be in the excavating of this area to make enough room for whatever activities we undertake, but I foresee making a way straight to the top of the mountain for a moderate aerie, an area far removed from the main areas for Ugly to do whatever he wants, and a few normal chambers for others. The nearby cave will also be of use, as it has a path down to the cove as well I may have it carved out for my personal area, where I can work and have a large amount of storage space.

According to my maps, we are well outside of the official and unofficial influence of Gossid (or anyone for that matter) so my claiming of this small area will be fine. By calculations, we are nearly 7 days north of the capitol by sea (it seems the sea route is much longer due to the coastal curve then going overland) so the islands and mountains around here are not frequented often so this will make an excellent base for their exploration.

We leave at dawn, but I think that this find will be worth far more than the gold and favor we gain from dealing with the owl bears in the next couple of days.

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Grave Matters at Hand
_A recounting of matters pertaining to the Rathan interests, at sea and shoreline: to the Emperor Alfred, from Sir Voldrix, First Executor of the Coast_

“Your Grace,

- I must open this report with protests regarding my pending assignment as High Steward of the occupied Menhirite lands; I must urge that now is no time for me to abandon oversight of your interests here. At present, more than ever, a firm understanding of the matters at hand is necessary. I shall address our current well-being by interest:

Strength At Sea
On the water, I am pleased to report your subjects are acquitting themselves quite well: discipline problems are but a third of what they were four years ago; even with our numbers being threefold what they were then. I was quite surprised when the Lord Kerwyn’s former page (you remember the one, caught skulking about at all hours, plying for a serving girls’ attention) turned up to ship before the mast, branded as a housebreaker. The boy’s mother and uncle beseeched me to reduce his sentence, but I had it on firm authority the boy would serve the full five years, and my word will be kept.

I am also pleased to deliver my heartfelt thanks for the loan of soldiers, bolstering our garrison strengths; as well as offering up much-needed advice and training to these inexperienced marines, Speaking of soldiers…attached you will find the letters of patent for the Empire’s newest Squire, Wade Neill. I’ve no need to remind you of his character; being the second man to close the Southern Gate is all you need keep in your mind.

He’s turned up with some damned odd companions: a dwarf smith who served as a camp follower to us in the final years of the Last War and again at Bloody Summer; a Celchan merchant-turned-sailor who brought an excellent scouting vessel to my attention, a mysterious Elven sage, and a newly-minted Rider who is the youngest son of a VERY sinister player in dwarven politics. They rendered not-inconsiderable service to Rath on the ocean and as part of their reward, I’ve elevated the man.

Dwarven Relations
The dwarves remain firmly on our side, my liege. Kron Warbeard, Eberk Ungart, Barris Orcabane and the rest of the Elder Ring have delivered nothing but the most positive affirmations of friendship and alliance, and seek to further aid us with issues of the interior, provided we provide assistance on the water and a structured, sustainable exportation of timber and raw ore. Lord Ponsby’s masterful diplomacy at the Iron Peaks some years ago has given Rath enough ore for generations to come, and the dwarves know it.

The gnomes on the other hand…things go not as well. I know not why, as we provide additional grist for their eternal conflict with the Orcs, and many of the short men’s feet slap aboard decks made of Rathan timber. I do know the admirals (Zilargo and Bralish specifically) are virulently opposed to humans captaining vessels, and with young Ponsby performing as he is, he’ll be given his own vessel soon I think.

I know not what to do with them.

SIr, between the trouble with volatile gnomes (and problems on some of the garrison island….we need to sack a squire or two…), I wish to remain here for at least another season.

Your obd’t servant,

A. Voldrix, Imperial Knight_

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Stone, Steel, and Silence

Spent a week with the deep priests, who some call the ‘low’ priests. The are an odd bunch, but while their ways seem strange to me, they still serve our gods and our people. It is, however, good to speak again.

Devised a new spell during my studies. I feel this is a new calling- with Moradin’s guidance, the shaping of magic bears much semblance to the shaping of steel. Apparently, my prayers found favor.

Who knows what other wisdom the Soulforger will see fit to grant me? Perhaps something to keep Wade from getting hit so often…

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Cheetahs and Manticores and Owlbears
Oh my

In an attempt to earn additional favor for the newest human noble in the kingdom, we are off to kill a slew of owlbears and preserve their heads as a gift to the emperor. According to Wade’s patron, in his early reign the emperor had an encounter with owlbears so providing him with some dead ones will prove a boon. More importantly Ulundo is trying to impress the group of mages he has found, and agrees with me that selling them (at a very steep discount) any owlbear eggs we come across will gain him favor, and me a little coin. I have also hope to wrangle a live one or more (preferable cubs as they are much easier to deal with) to provide to the arena for favor and prestige mostly, but i am sure decent coin will come from it as well (live juveniles sold for 20,000 to 30,000 silver in Celchu).

We must be a bit more careful of where we camp, I did not think that these fissures could contain such large predators. it is unfortunate that I was not able to get any additional poison from all of the centipedes (I feel that I would need to find a way to distil it out of Wade as he is stumbling around as if drunk after getting by my count 8 bites which delivered venom).

While we found a much safer camp site from living predators we have good evidence that we have come into the area that was once/is held by a necromancer. Hopfully we have dealt with the most mobile of its creations, Komin seems to want to find his habitat and make sure there are no more of his creations active, I am not completely against this course of action but only if it is nearby as we are on a slight timeline. between me on the ground and Alden in the air we should be able to find it quickly if it is close at hand.

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Guard Report, misc
Outer Gossud, Rathan enclave

Bin Bryson, Rathan Enclave Guardsman
After the orcs escape attempt was foiled by the same crew that brought them in, I’ve been stationed near this quiet bay with several others to make sure nothing else goes awry. The crew – that short one, the captain, and the soldier – surely high on victory, made their way to a bar within sight of the bay called the Broken Tusk.

Zac Carman, Broken Tusk bouncer
_…It was about his 7th or 8th pint when that short one, absoutely loaded_, hopped up on the table and started singing some bawdy song none of the patrons knew. He had already won several sailors drinking money over a game of darts, and once they found out he was some kind of sharp shooter, the sailors took him for a hustler! He won my money too, that rascal, so when the sailors chased him out of the bar I made sure the door hit him on the way out.

Bin Bryson, Rathan Enclave Guardsman
…I never knew the short folk could fly! I saw the bouncer of the Broken Tusk give that halfling the boot, followed shortly by 6 or 7 of the angriest sailors I’ve seen this week. The short one, laughing the whole time, climbed over stacked cargo, up a flag pole, over two rooftops and then, as the sailors followed from the docks below, he proceeded to take a harrowing leap off an upper balcony and out of sight. As the sailors rushed to the edge, expecting to hear a splash from below, a blur of feathers and drunken laughter rose quickly from the darkness and over their heads. He flew off into the night, laughing off their insults and curses. Must be nice to have a bird. Are all the short folk this fun? Traveler help us…

Corvair, Air Corps handler
…So no shit, there I am starting my day at the eyrie just like any other, and I hear the most god awful SNORING from Abercrombie’s station. I head over there and see him sprawled out next to a supremely annoyed eagle, a pouch of silver peices spilled out next to him, and a bucket full with what I’m sure was last nights dinner. He was tangled up in his eagle’s barding – at least he remembered to properly care for his bird before passing out in its nest. I put on my best Deadelus impression and started barking orders to wake him up! Ha! I love my job.

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Mutiny and some Bounty

It seems that some islands will be formed by the sundered throwing chunks of the ocean floor to the surface, these islands are slightly unstable but can have a diverse amount of things dredged up with them. On one such island (besides a large amount of crap to eat) I was able to find a mostly destroyed pre-rift statue of some Dwarven God.

I found a strange rock fish (drawing included) which has a barb under its tail, it seems to have some form of neuro toxin that numbs the muscle, I am able to extract it with relative ease and after studying it I believe it is a viable substance to use, I will try to have the crew catch me other fish, their knowledge of the sea may lead to some other discoveries for my craft.

(a catalog of fish caught over 5 days, none of which have measurable value other then in eating, and some not even that).

Unfortunately the crew netted a school of fish, red and yellow in color, that they said was no good as it will make your stomach turn and keep you “arse hang’in O’er the aft” for a few days. The unfortunate part comes in the fact that the crew tossed the net full of these fish back into the ocean before I could stop them.

(additional notes on promising stories such as sea anemones and the bile of a lizard seen on some rocky islands)

The empire in its wisdom of seeing how effective the vessel that they forgot is, has gone over my contract with the dwarven ship builders and purchased the Ordeniux, I am left only with my joke of a prize ship (which was sold for a small amount of gold) and I was refunded all of the money spent on the ship doubled (which is not a small amount of coin, but I wanted a ship and not a chest of gold). Luckily my lab was removed carefully and none of it was lost, nor did those moving it think it more then a well put together collection of specimens and alchemy lab.

Wade was made a minor noble by the man who stole my ship out from under me, he seems pleased with himself and is bringing his Menorite wife to Gossid (I knew he had a family, but him to a knee bender, I would never have figured that to occur).

The local lord has offered me a position on one of his ships, I do not think taking on a tour in the royal navy is good for me (as I do have a persona to keep up and the empire is notorious for keeping good records, accepting this could lead to difficulties down the road). Under the circumstances, I plan to refuse this offer and see if I cannot find another way of procuring a vessel (the crew of gnomes has become increasingly loyal to me).

Ugly seems to have found some recognition among the Dwarven mages, I believe that he will be open to staying as he seems to thrive on his ever increasing importance. I am still not able to determine who he is writing to (perhaps himself) but he has become slightly lax at hiding it from me so I may be able to procure his papers for a few minutes to figure it out in the near future.

Kamen has absconded with the damaged idol, he seems to have found a way to trade it for, if my dwarven has not faltered, nothing (though the word he used was silence, I think it may be a dialect thing) so I am out the additional boon of gold that it could have brought.

Alden has been in an overly good mood since we returned, I believe the slaying of the maniticore has increased his status and proven him more useful than his superiors and contemporaries thought.

A group of orcs escaped from the prison, luckily we were able to thwart their getaway. Ugly has increased in power as he used Haste upon us, I feel that my lack of being able to study the arts has put me further behind him then i realized, I will need to dedicate some additional time to research when I can. While not a tough fight, the power of my companions was shown (even Alden found a use for some of his expensive gadgets). I was also able to get the orcish shaman’s fetishes, I will look into what they do and put them to good use.

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Homeward

Taken from Kamen’s report on humanity

…cannot help but marvel at the alacrity with which they vanish upon being given leave. Gnomes…

After dealing with the Orcish pirates and their beast, we returned to Sir Gaurin. While I realize the specialized tactical nature of the post precludes a heavy allocation of resources, some reinforcement is necessary. They are undermanned, under supplied on food and medicine, and lack rider, arcanist, and healer. I seem to recall threats of being sent to such a post when I was an acolyte, perhaps we should reinstate rotation to this island for youths in need of some discipline.

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Sails Sighted! Hull Down!
_a collection of correspondence, records, and gossip transmitted to Gosud from on-station_

A Report for the Most Illustrious Lord Voldrix; 1st Imperial Naval Marshal, Knight of the Empire, Hero of the Battle of Charleroi

_"My Honoured Superior,

I have the utmost pleasure to report the arrival of the late Lord Chelmsford’s private vessel into our humble waystation’s harbor. I had expected such a fine vessel to be commanded by one such as yourself, or the lesser Ponsby at the very least! Imagine my surprise when a pack of gnomes rowed an assortment of figures to the dock; the small boat disgorged two humans, an elf, a dwarf, and what appears to be a very junior member of the Eagle Riders, replete with fine it and an avian whelp.

I downplayed the abilities of my fine men and laborers, not wishing to appear showy in a report that would certainly cross the desk of one such as yourself. You sir, deserve to hear truth in the plainest measure! Naturally, all of the short races turned out in sufficient order. I find them tiresome sir, but cannot deny they discharge their duties to the fullest degree. A wise decision made by our most impressive ruler Alfred, choosing to bring them into his fold of allies. Won the war by himself, almost! Of course sir, he had fine warriors like you and Sir Ponsby at his beck and call.

Nothing much else to report, Sire. We’ve lost two men to disease in the last several months. The laborers they’re sending us are the lowest of criminals, and won’t respond to fresh air, the chance to serve their Emperor, or even my appeals of personal devotion!

The supplies those itinerant wanderers brought were most welcome; three tonnes of essential medicine, armor, and foodstuffs were taken on-station, all of which are desperately low in light of our continued hard service.

I remain your most obedient and faithful servant,"_

- Squire Arabad, Vantage Rock


A Brief Report on the Reception of a Private Vessel

Lord Voldrix,

Two days ago, a small brig weighed anchor in-harbor, crewed by what I can only assume to be five gnomes that are on detached duty from a penal unit; Their rigging was expertly done, but I have received report of over two dozen property crimes; chiefly vandalism and brawling. We took one tonne of non-essential supplies ashore, stocking their hold with water, firewood, and spares for Eynsworth Hold.

However, it was the other occupants that I feel you should know about…

- In command of the vessel was a dwarven priest, from the large weapons family back ashore. The Mosins seem to be branching out.

- A human named Tannen shipped aboard it, seeming to serve no other purpose than advising the gnomes and keeping the elf silent…

- A “Most Illustrious and Esteemed” Ulundo Calrissian hailing from a place I do not recall swept down the gangplank, and did a most impressive job of monopolizing my time and offending everyone he spoke with, almost to the man. He made quite the show of making time with some of our orcish laboreres…

- Sir; Sgt. Wade Neill is with this group. I can only assume that he’s your man, given the history at Charleroi and the days immediately preceding. I respected his anonymity, focusing my attention on the others.

- Some sort of trainee Eagle Rider shipped with them sir; one of the vast Abercrombie brood that seems to be log-jamming trade relations with regards to timber rights in Rathan lands. I know this because of correspondence received from my mother; two of them arrived with a human crew of woodcutters and almost refused to take no for an answer. Were it not for that druid envoy I had spoke of some years back, they’d have trimmed the lot of yew, oak, and elm down and paid mother a pittance. I understand the Emperor has granted the dwarves limited timber rights within our lands, but I’m afraid they’re being abused by select individuals. Several serving here have similar tales…

The only point of their visit that I found curious was the almost-total disinterest in the rest of the island’s facilities; little interest was given over to the rope-walk, the bakery, the ship yard, and the hospital. It’s almost as if they were out here specifically to inspect the human-manned defenses…

I hope this letter finds you well.

Your obd’t svt.,

-Squire Otigon, Castellan of Tranquility Hold


A Report on the Status of Eynsworth Hold, As Reported by Sir Gaurin and Relayed by an Itinerant Eagle Rider

“Lord Voldrix,

We are desperately short of healing elixers, linen for bandages, salt, and tar. Our rations remain at full-strength, but only by the addition of massive amounts of kelp, shellfish, and what birds we can snare. Several burials over the last few months, one injury and several illnesses. The sailors have transitioned well into their new roles, given the extensive damage to their sloop. Stout fellows, and you’d not know they are composed of criminals, drunkards, and captured Menhirites. The men of the 81st have treated them with respect, and it has paid dividends in leaps and bounds.

The three tonnes of supplies were welcome, but not what was sorely needed. Squire Otigon loaded the travelers with some firewood and water (thank The Traveler for a warm fire on a cold night!), but the potions and armor we requested had been pulled earlier on.

I can only hope Squire Arabad needed it more…

When the late Lord Chelmsford’s vessel slipped in, it’s owners proved to be of slightly humbler origins….an Eagle Rider, some addled elven arcanist, an old ex-sergeant, some dwarven priest and the human sailing master.

They were most gracious guests, far more tractable than they typical gnomish corvette or fishing vessel that slips in. Most Eagle Riders are cocksure, and stand-offish. This one gave every attention to the old eyrie, and was most solicitous when learning of our previous rider’s death.

I’ve attached a dictation of Corporal Stamm, recounting the private vessel’s action against the orcish interlopers…it’s colored with the opinions of a horsethief, but very factual and corroborated by other soldier’s accounts. He says they performed admirably, drawing the orcs into a cunning and inescapable trap.

Meet with them,

- Sir Gaurin

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