Sessions One and Two, plus Introductory emails
[Note: This is in part from the email exchanges prior to the actual begin, and includes the descriptions, etc., so that it’s al in one place if we want to refer back later.]
Interaction began on the 9th day of the Festival Moon in the 27th year of the rule of His Majesty King Dustin Parlomy, 32nd child of the Chaldrea, blessed of Mamnon.
Landing is focused on frantic preparations for the Festival of the Defeat of T’sarbold. The city of almost 2,500 is already packed to the brim with guests who have traveled from across the Reaches for this event. Merchant caravans have been running for weeks with goods and foodstuffs from the south, fishing fleets have been in high gear since the season opened last month, and every spare bed is being pressed into use to accommodate the extra visitors. Many private homes are renting any extra rooms to Festival travelers. Total population in the city is expected to nearly quadruple before the Festival begins.
Temporary housing has been set up on the flats to the south-east of the city. This is mostly tented common areas and pit toilets to support camping areas. Several of the local Inns and Public Houses have hired extra staff and have temporary cooking/dining facilities to service the camping areas. Two stages have been erected for entertainment, mostly provided by the local Men’r guild hall.
Her Reverence Selina has been seen more often of late, usually traveling in her carriage to and from the palatial home of Duke Freedrake Larson. Her Reverence’s personal guard in tunics of crimson-trimmed grey are most efficient at clearing the road for her passage. Anyone who has been in town long enough to attend at least one service at the temple knows that this is a very special Festival. Her Reverence has announced that it falls on the date of both the Fourth Alignment and the Third Conjunction, both very auspicious events in their own right.
Alison is 15, with short dark hair, black eyes, and has a slight figure. She’s a bit on the skinny side, but “cute”, and at first glance, depending on what she’s wearing she might be mistaken for a young boy, and people often think she is younger than she actually is due to her size.
A Free Coaster, both her parents are dead (her father, Gaspar, died in a boating accident when she was 10, her mother, Lys, died giving birth to her on the last day of T’sarbold Moon). As a result of this, she feels responsible for the death of her mother (and some concerning her father, she cannot float or swim, and feels she should have been able to help him.)
She has a brother (Draven) who is 12 years older than she and lives with him and his wife (Kytheria) and their two sons, Robin (age 5) and Dustin (age 2, named after His Majesty). Kytheria has taught her to read and write the King’s Tongue and teaches at the school. Draven is a merchant located in the merchant area but near the waterfront area. She knows little of Kytheria’s family as they disapproved of her marriage to Draven, what with him being a Free Coaster and all.
While she adores Draven and her nephews, she and Kytheria are at that “You can’t make me, you are not my mother” stage of life. Other relatives include her mother’s family, which she has never met (they do not come to Landing, and her father would not allow her to go with him when he visited.) Her father had three unmarried brothers (Lar, Arilinn and Jaxom), who live among the Free Coasters but occasionally travel to Landing, and who have also allowed her to accompany them on a few of their trips. Ali has also taken to spending large periods of time away from home, hanging out on the streets, where she has picked up some of her talents. In the past few months, she has become enamored of the Men’r performers, and watches them attentively; she has asked Bri to teach her how to juggle.
Curious and somewhat impulsive, she tends to get talked into things that a wiser person might avoid; however, folk seem to take pity on her and be somewhat more forgiving than they might otherwise. Thus far, she hasn’t tended to abuse this sentiment. She is attentive and imaginative, but Violet might also know that she has a problem with sleep-walking. She is fascinated with the docks and ships, but afraid of the water (see above, re: her father’s death.) She is rarely seen around town without her bow and several visible knives.
Violet is 5’4” with a lot of curly blonde hair and large blue eyes. She is beautiful, but a bit more slender than the absolute ideal beauty. She has an air of innocence about her that makes people want to take care of her (pitiable advantage), and 4 levels of Charisma. She is dramatic dramatic dramatic, but usually more amusing than annoying. Those who know her know that she is curious and has occasionally gotten into scrapes by talking to unusual strangers who a sensible person would have stayed clear of.
She has been extra busy with the festival. As mentioned above, she works as a barmaid for her uncle, and spends some of her free time working as a barber in the town square.
Bri is an 18 year old male Men’r who dresses comfortably with a long 4# cloak and calve-high boots, usually in either grey or a medium brown, but often with a very brightly colored shirt. Physically, he is 5’ 10” and 165# with a slim frame, roughly cut curly blonde hair, brown eyes, and is tanned from his time outdoors. He can often be found working crowds near the market or the dock. His usual performance is to tell a tale illustrated with acrobatic and juggling feats. He wears a light cloak and carries a dagger, and seems to be very protective of the children and young teens who congregate around the Men’r performers – and likely vice-versa.
Marya, a sailor, is 5 ft 5 inches, 130 pounds, with short brown hair and blue eyes. Typically wears fingerless gloves (has not been seen without them) and has been seen frequently about town for the past few months while her ship is in for repairs. However, she seems very manly for a woman. She has remarked that she is a Devotee of Mamnon.
The night of Festival Moon 9, Ali sneaks out of the house and goes for a walk along he beach to clear her mind, as she and Kytheria (her sister-in-law, aka “Spawn of T’sarbold”) had been fighting again. She returns well after midnight and goes to sleep as she has plans for archery practice the next morning and then luncheon at Violet’s. Apparently other members of what will become our party have dreams this night.
Festival Moon 10:
Cynthia shows up at the Landing harbor shortly after dawn on the 10th. She is 15 years old, but somehow both looks more dangerous than your typical teenage girl, and seems younger and more vulnerable than your typical teenage girl. She’s 5’2”, and very slender and wiry (she’s maybe 90 lbs).
She has gleaming, raven-black hair, very pale skin, and green eyes. She is wearing patched (but clean) leather armor, woodsman’s moccasins, a broad-brimmed flat-topped hat (shaped like a Panama straw hat, but made out of leather), and has a heavy water-proof hooded wool cloak thrown over her shoulders. She has a set of VERY worn brass knuckles on her left hand, and she carries a spear in her right hand; she has a quiver of 4 javelins slung over her left shoulder, she wears a sabre belted on the right side of her waist, and four bolas suspended from her belt on the left side. She’s carrying a heavy pack—apparently with little effort.
Cynthia COULD be pretty, but she walks with a swagger, her chin mulishly out-jutted, and she possesses a “thousand-yard stare” that makes Longshoremen who are more than twice her weight instinctively step out of her way. She PROBABLY has a black eye, and a cut on her cheek. As long as she’s treated decently, her brass knuckles stay unbloodied; but she has Stubbornness, Bad Temper, and she doesn’t know how to back down from a confrontation.
Cynthia speaks with a VERY thick Free-Coaster accent and if someone makes fun of it, they get punched in the mouth. If someone makes fun of her appearance, they get punched in the eye. If someone makes a pass at her, they get punched in the groin. If they punch her back, or otherwise respond in kind, she’ll Parry. Whether or not she’s successful, she’ll step back, give the person a grin and a nod of approval, and offer them her hand in friendship. If the person cries, runs away, calls for the Guard, or cowers, she’ll be disgusted, make some comment about “sissies,” and stalk away. If they draw a weapon after getting punched, she’ll draw a Large Knife from somewhere and hold it in a throwing grip and—staring directly in the eye of the other person—flatly ask them if they have ever heard of the “Bogsnake” and if they’re aware of what it’s venom does. An astute observer will notice that the blade of the knife is coated with something.
Cynthia is accompanied by an older (i.e., adult) man, who is about 6’, fairly lean but well toned, called David. He has dark brown hair and green eyes. He carries a staff, and has a knife and shortsword belted at his waist. He seems pretty withdrawn, and let her do all the talking; he mostly stands back and keeps an eye out for trouble from some direction other than right in front. He only gets involved if Cynthia finds herself facing more than one opponent and weapons are drawn, or if they have to evade the Guard.
When Cynthia and her companion got to the harbor, she finds Marya’s ship. Once there, she announced – loudly enough that everyone within 20 yards clearly hears her—to the ship’s Watch:
“I have a PRIVATE message for Mistress Marya Blackwater from one Master Durn, who is known to her. Can you please have her called to the dock?”
Marya comes ashore and they talk a bit; Marya had previously agreed to meet Ali, Bri and Violet at the Violet’s home on Festival 10, and brings Cynthia along with her. Violet has prepared a scrumptious repast. We listen tales of Bri and Marya’s travels, Ali remains mostly quiet, being somewhat overawed by their tales. She doesn’t quite know what to make of Cynthia—envious for being on her own, yet wary as she is an unknown. We agree to meet again the next day at the Guild Hall.
Ali speaks to Draven about the possibility of part time employment and he agrees that it might be a good idea.
Ali finally makes her way to bed. Festival Moon 10 is over and in the morning there will only be two more days before Festival begins. She frowns as she reviews her interaction with HER earlier in the day. Ali really wishes the stupid cow would just leave her alone. It’s not like Ali’s doing anyone any harm. And she’ll be demon fodder before she’ll stick around and let that minion of T’sarbold force her into slave labor all day.
Ali closes her eyes on that thought and drifts off to sleep.
That night she has a sleepwalking episode and a dream that leaves her disturbed.
Ali wakes gradually, hearing someone call her name.
“Alison? Alison love, please… you must wake up. I haven’t much time.”
Ali opens her eyes and looks up into the face of a lovely woman with dark hair to her shoulders and black eyes. She looks relieved to see Ali awake.
“Oh thank the Guardians, Alison. You’ve woken. Now listen please my dearest. I haven’t much time and this is very, very important.
“Alison, you have to find the stones. It’s very important. I can’t explain it all here, not now, but you must trust me on this. If you don’t find the stones, all will be lost. You, your brother, your nephews… oh Alison, I simply couldn’t bear it.
Now remember, please. But don’t go alone. You’ll need help, sweeting. Just be ready. You’ll know when it’s time.”
Ali watches, stunned, as the lovely woman drifts over to the door… and then fades from sight before she reaches it.
Ali jumps up and rushes to the door, yanking it open and dashing into the hall. She vaguely hears other doors opening and a woman’s voice shushing children. Ali darts down the hall towards the stairs. She has to find that woman!
Something stops her before she can get to the stairs and she starts to struggle. Slowly Ali realizes her brother holds her and is talking to her in a soothing, gentle voice.
“It’s alright, Ali. It’s me, Draven. Hush now, sweeting… you’re safe now.”
As Ali returns to her senses she gazes up into her brother’s face… a face so like her own. Black hair, black eyes… a face so like the lovely woman in her room.
Draven looks at her closely and notes the dazed look in her eyes. He looks up over the top of her head and says, “It’s getting worse, Kyth. We need to find a way to help her soon.”
Gently Draven urges Ali back to bed and sits with her for a while until she drifts off again. When she wakes the next time the sun is shining through her window and Festival Moon 11 has begun.
Festival Moon 11
In the morning, she goes to the beach and then meets up with Violet and Bri after noon to share the news about the job and explore the Festival.
Cynthia and Marya spend some time around the brawling circle, which Ali had never paid any attention to before, but she finds fascinating. We go to the Wave and Foam for dinner. During the meal mention is made of dreams, and Ali shares the barest details of hers, regarding being told she had to “find the stones”. Marya’s involved the original Temple, Violet’s had people dying in a fire.
While we are there, Aunt Sylvia (Violet’s mother’s sister) comes out to meet a woman who is in a grey cloak with scarlet piping. She speaks with Aunt Sylvia briefly, who then brings her a parcel of some type. As she starts to leave, Violet stands to follow, but is prevented by Aunt Sylvia joining us. Bri makes some mention of the honor paid by the woman, whom some recognize as being connected to the Temple in some manner.
Making conversation, Bri asks Cynthia where she is from; she replies she is a free woman, that she was apprenticed at 11 as a scout and tracker, and that she is a bounty hunter. Marya knows her parents due to their wide travels. The group wanders about a while, Bri participates in some of the juggling activities, which Ali pays close attention to, and they eventually go their separate ways for the night.
That night, Ali dreams again of the woman, who tells her it is time to “fulfill (her) destiny” and to “look for the Guardians, whose tales have been silenced for much too long. The woman fades, telling Ali that she loves her and is very proud of her. Ali is very disturbed by this dream, and wonders who the woman is.
Festival Moon 12:
Ali wakens Draven in the early hours of the morning, and asks about their mother, what she looked like, etc., as she is beginning to think these are dreams are of her mother. When pressed as to why she is asking, she will attempt to pass it off as nothing important, but breaks down, crying, and tells him all of the details. He doesn’t provide a great deal of information, other than Mother was “slightly strange”, much like Ali, and often spent a lot of time by herself, that she was not close to her family. Her parents grew up in the same village, but that he hasn’t had a great deal of contact with her family either. Kytheria comes down to see if everything is okay, Draven sends her back up to bed, saying he’ll be up shortly. They continue talking a bit, and he is about to go back up when there is a knock on the door, it is Bri.
Bri informs them that Violet has been injured and asks if Alison could come to comfort her; she gets dressed to go. While she is dressing, Kytheria comes back down and is surprised to find Bri there and makes a minor scene about “entertaining in the early hours”. As Bri and Ali depart, the sounds of an argument can be heard beginning inside. Bri tells Ali that he had prevaricated to Draven in order to get her out of the house and that Violet is at the Guild Hall (and not on the way to the Temple, as he had originally indicated) and is okay. When they arrive, Ali runs to give Violet a hug and make sure she is okay – they are told to pack things, and then called to a meeting with the Guildmaster, who asks their assistance. He gives some additional information, and they return to pack and depart for White Bird Peak (the local Lover’s Lane, a few miles out of town). As they are leaving, Ali smells smoke and notices a glow towards the waterfront/docks, and that all of the town guard seem to have been called away elsewhere. Town is unnaturally quiet for that hour of the morning. Ali tears up, but makes no attempt to return, Violet seems to be of similar state. Ali shares the details of her dreams with Bri and Violet as they got ready.
We take a loaded wagon cart with two horses with us, as well as extra weapons and provisions.
About an hour, hour and half out of town we see two people and five not-so-small animals (two dogs and three lynx-sized cats) coming towards us. Bri recognizes Marya and Cynthia and calls to them. They found the woman from the Wave and Foam, she is well, but in fear of her life. Marya says to Ali that she (the woman) knows of the stones from Ali’s dream. Bri indicates that she may have information he needs (papers or some such). Marya relates that her dream was of the city a blaze and people being hunted, and also reveals that she is Cynthia’s sister. Marya joins us and Cynthia goes to break their camp, where we will rendezvous. (Cynthia makes a detour to David’s camp where “the Dove” is and fills them in on the recent events.)
We meet up about 45 minutes later, camp is mostly stuck and packed. David (description above) and the woman, dressed as she was last night but her hood back. She has dark (brown) curly hair and blue eyes. Bri recognizes that David is of Men’r ancestry (but does not share that information). Bri mutters to himself (the guild house is burning) and David makes some statement that sounds vaguely similar in tone (that sounds sad). The woman is called Brenna. She has served Selina for several years; Bri asks if the actions in the city were Selina’s doing, which shocks Brenna, who asks what is going on. She is given the digest version, which shocks her more. Marya, Bri and Brenna talk about the timing of the festival and the temple, which leaves Ali very confused (as she did not pay attention to those lessons.) Violet asks why Brenna was hiding in the woods; she felt her life was in danger and she could not stay at the temple any longer. She has also had dreams. Someone in a robe came after her, she could hear chanting, and was pursued and killed. She mentions something about the stones, at which point Ali perks up and begins paying closer attention to the discussion. The stones are those owned by the original Guardians, who were the first keepers of the reaches.
Cynthia’s dreams involved many “white animals” being killed, which she thinks is Brenna.
Bri and Marya discuss “maps” which gets Ali’s interest, she insists on looking the charts over, and once she gets a sense of scale and landmarks, orients them to the proper direction, and gets confirmation of where locations are (displaying her absolute direction sense). She wants to learn more about these “maps”, however, they refuse to let her look at them further.
Bri opens the chest and retrieves several maps and other documents. He also learns that Brenna is untrained in any form of combat. While traveling, Marya takes out couple of pouches, one of which has 3 seals with a symbol on each, and the other is some sort of astrolabe, possibly for land travel.
They engage in minor conversation as we make our way to White Bird Peak, about an hour or so from where the camp was.
We arrive at the peak, Marya attempts to climb higher to see if she can get an idea of what’s happening in Landing, but doesn’t make much headway. David offers to try and climbs up. He sees smoke in the distance, but it doesn’t appear to be huge amounts, the city does not appear to be engulfed, but at this distance, who can really tell.
We also find some caves, which Violet and Cynthia enters but doesn’t see very far into. Cynthia proposes using them for shelter in the short term, though Marya seems reluctant to do so, staying close to the entrance.
Ali and Brenna talk about the history of the Reaches while unpacking…
After the Demon Wars, the world was in devastation. So many lay dead and ill – there weren’t enough people to work the farms or make the goods that everyone needed. Neighbor turned against neighbor, brother against brother. Chalder Lunn, first Blessed of the Chaldrean, knew that the world needed the guidance and aid of his followers to restore order to the lands, so he appointed Guardians to watch over the Reaches while he and those noblemen who had helped him defeat the demon rode out to bring aid to the world.
The Guardians helped restore order and provided aid within the Reaches during those first, horrible years after the Cataclysm. It is said that each of the Guardians was given a token of their office on which they swore to defend and protect their assigned Reach.
Later, Bri shares the tale of “Riva’s Mint” which he thinks may have clues to the Guardians/Wardens and the stones.
Where land and sea and sky collide
A serpent’s nest unswerving bides.
Though drawing on his final gasp
Held safely in her tender clasp
Remained his heart, his strength, his test.
He who gave all, denied his rest.
When came again the wretched thief
She stood unbowed through storms of grief.
He bargained to forget his due;
She stood and lost her heart anew.
His price: the Wyvern’s honor sworn.
She clutched it ‘til her palm was torn.
With mocking laugh he stole her brood,
And through it all the Lady stood.
What worth the coin of her inherit
Retained at cost of priceless merit?
Along the walk where lookout kept
The Lady, where the sea winds swept
Her footsteps is a hidden path
That runs beneath the monster’s wrath.
Just as she gained the cursed test
So will a death pass the bequest.
Light’s kiss seeds deep in Wyvern’s lair;
a pool of blood spills down the stair.
A dying gasp of day’s life spent
reveals the glint of Riva’s mint.
There is some discussion about the stones, and Bri reveals what they were:
- A pearl
- A teardrop cut, faceted garnet
- An emerald cut, rectangular amethyst
- An oblong cabochon of amber
- A heart-shaped, faceted moonstone
- A circular cabochon of sunstone
- A square-cut cabochon of bloodstone
- A brilliant cut aquamarine
Festival Moon 13:
After discussion, we decide to head to the Temple in Riva’s Walk, avoiding town for the time being, despite Ali and Violet’s desire to make sure their families are safe. We spend the night at a farmhouse owned by Violet’s Aunt Sylvia, outside of town.
Going through Durn’s papers, Bri discovers that Durn was the Uncle (brother of their mother) to Mayra and Cynthia; they are greatly disturbed by this news and renewed loss. We are about 6-7 days journey from the Temple. Cynthia draws up enough water for the party for our expected stay and then makes a blood oath to the Eight Gods that she will see the slayers of Durn dead at her feet.
3 points awarded for the night.
Festival Moon 14
We are at Aunt Sylvia’s farm, where we spent the night, about 10-12 miles south of Landing. Bri returns about 5 in the morning and goes to sleep. (See Violet goes home email for more information.)
We get waked up too early and have breakfast, and head back out about 6:30 towards Riva’s Walk – about a 5 day journey. Bri won’t let me or Cynthia drive the wagon without him being awake so David does the driving alternating with Bri.
About 10 AM, Bri notices something black in the brush that looks like a small dog, but moving strangely.
Noon comes along and we break for lunch, nothing much happened. Back on trail again, Bri and Marya see the same type of dog-things again. Marya gets out her spyglass and sees they are really some kind of big ants! We later find a camp place for the night, and spend it uneventfully.
Festival Moon 15
We start out again about 6:30. The day passes without event, and we again make camp for the night. Cynthia eradicates much of our back trail, tends the animals and Bri rides back a while to see if we are being followed. Ali assists Brenna is preparing dinner.
We notice the ants coming towards us, David draws his weapon, Marya gets a flaming brand, and Ali readies an arrow while Brenna also gets a brand. Cynthia notices the commotion and heads back into camp.
The ants are attacking! and more are coming up out of the ground! Ali got a crit on her second arrow and killed it! The rest of the battle was not so fast—it took us a long time to kill off most of them.
Several people got hurt – Marya, David (who suffered a grievous wound) and a couple of Cynthia’s cats), and Brenna got knocked by the horse as she and I were trying to calm it to get it back to the wagon. We get camp struck, and move it about an hour away, checking carefully that we do not set it over another anthill.
We finally stop about 10:30 pm for the night and Bri returns to camp about that same time.
3 points awarded for the night.