A Fragment of Time

How it all ended!

After the group kill Lok, again, they head out into the city of Mechanus. They quickly discover something isn’t right with this place – there is some kind of civil war going on. There are three grand Artificers who make and control the population of Mechanus. Only one of them seems to be broken, according to a lot of the reports the group hears. They talk to secundus, one of the Grand Artificers, and he asks the group to help his world. They are told that Tertius has gone nuts, and it is trying to kill certain parts of the population. The group agree to try and help. They find out, from other sources, that it’s more like Tertius is being controlled by something, so to try and not hurt Tertius. They aren’t quite sure how they are going to take down the creature controlling Tertius, but a chance remark by someone taking them to a grand library. there they are told that something was left for them to beat whoever it is and save their world, but the constructs don’t know how to open it. Eventually they figure it out and get weapons and armour of various powers, apparently all made by Hephesion for them as a way of saying thanks. They are also given maps of the city and the mark of secundus.

To get to Tertius and whatever is controlling it, the group have to go to a certain building. When they get there there is a fight about to begin. The Bad Mechs control the steps of the building and are many in numbers. The Good Mechs are a far weaker force, and at first refuse to let the party anywhere near the fight, but then Alexis shows the general the Mark and he says okay, and gods speed. The majority of the group sneak along the sidelines and behind the enemy. Hextor and Naveck run through the middle.

Eventually though the group get into the building, and find there way to Tertius’s cave. However waiting for them there is Tertius and another being that introduces it’s self as Mechanatos. It gives a looong speech about it’s self, and basically reveals to the group that it is a fragment of Prince Myurr, a demon from the hell planes, and it is here to gain Mechanus and then fuck with Titan. Alexis gets really quite mad about this. She starts forward but Naveck beats her too it and with one stroke brings Mechanatos to the point of death. Alexis delivers the killing blow.

With the influence of Myurr gone, Tertius regains it’s self. It apologises, stops it’s creatures killing their fellows and sends group back to Touriguard. They appear back in their own time frame, just outside the town. With everything over, the group doesn’t know what to do with the shard. Alexis wants to keep it, Fai wants to study it. Naveck and Ursella suggest loosing it. Hextor suggests they ask it. The fragment send out Ivy to tell the group it appreciates everything they’ve done, but it misses it’s fellows and doesn’t want to be used for evil or bandied around by mortals any longer, Ivy asks they destroy it. Reluctantly Alexis places the shard on a rock, and Naveck crushes it. They all age a little as time is released and flows away from them. Solemnly they go to the pub, but are delighted to see Dur’Grazz alive and drinking at the bar. He doesn’t really recall who they are, and is especially annoyed when Alexis flings herself at his knees yelling ‘Durry!’. Introductions are re-made [with Fai being accused of being a pansy by Dur’Graz] and the party sit down with their drinks to tell everyone of everything that just transpired for them…

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"I like plan B better"

After arriving at the giant mountains, the group set off up a well worn path. After a little while they begin to notice that the ground around them seems to be dying. Ursella uses her funky druid powers and declares that it’s an evil druid sucking the life out of the land. They continue on until Alexis hears really heavy footsteps. They are so heavy in fact at first she mistakes the sound as miners, that is, until they meet the first giants coming the other way. The troupe are apprehended by the fire giants who say they should speak to their king. And so off they all go. The king receives them in good nature and invites them to dine with them. Naveck has a wonderful time, but Alexis and Ursella not so much. However an interesting tale is told of a smith and his too-trusting ways. Most of them rise early, but Naveck has to be persuaded out of bed and Ursella finally casts remove toxin so he will move, while Alexis asks for leave from their host who wishes them well on their quest. So the company move onwards up the mountain until they come to a plaque. Alexis and Fie finally work out between them it says ‘here is Hephestion’s smithy’ They remember the name and know they are on the right track to kill the vamp. At the top of the mountain they find a cave opening. Alexis and Ursella [in snake form] sneak ahead. They find nothing untoward at first, but then come across a huge door. Ursella sneaks through and back and says there are statues lining the path. Alexis calls the others down and Hextor and Naveck open the door between them. Alexis steps forward to try and determine if it’s a trap. She thinks it is but can’t seem to work out how to disarm it, so instead sets it off. Then screams for the others when the statues start to move. A short battle later and they are moving onwards again, down a set of stairs. Alexis makes the others wait at the top when she sneaks down and finds some little black goblins at work. She sneaks back and reports and Hextor and Naveck again charge in and kill everything. The others try to help – Ursella throws acorn grenades and Alexis makes them very very wet. They continue on and come to another set of stairs. The process continues but this time Alexis finds a few more goblins and some hot metal bars. They all kill the goblins and take a look around. They find what looks like a mass production forge or what looks like metal golems or shield golems. Either way there is nothing worth nicking, so they carry n down the passage to another short set of steps. Alexis takes a peak and sees a fire giant working. However his eyes have been ripped out and he is chained to his work bench by unbreakable chains. She also three of the metal golmes, and surveys the layout of the forge. Off to one side is a work rooms and she sticks her head in to see what she surmises to be the vamp. She hurries back and explains all he has seen. ‘Right,’says Hextor, ‘I have a plan’ Alexis groans.

‘The plan is this,’ he continues. ‘We go in there, and have fie cast something cold on the forge. The extremes of temperature will make it break and flood the chamber and kill everyone and then we quickly run out and seal the chamber the same way.’

‘That’s a terrible plan,’ says Fie. ‘The fire giant won’t die’

‘We’ll be condemning him to a horrible fate, where as we could just kill everyone ourselves and rescue him.’ says Alexis.

‘But then that’ll risk us!’ says Hextor.

‘And like plan a wont? I like plan b better.’

‘Well how about we do plan a but somehow get him out first.’ Hextor says.

‘It’s even worse!’ Alexis says. Fie looks around. ‘The more time we spend arguing morality the more chance there is of us getting caught.’

‘Well what would you prefer,’ Hextor says. ‘Reckless endangerment to others, but save our selves or reckless endangerment of everyone?’

‘Plan b: reckless endangerment or everyone,’ Alexis says.

‘Fine,’

‘Fine.’

So on the count of 1, they all rush in. Hextor heads to the side room and starts on the vamp. Alexis and fie stay just on the corner of the plinth and take pot shots at the golems, and Naveck runs to the third golem. The battle is relativity short with Alexis getting a taste of her own mortality. Hextor destroys the vamp and his coffin and fie washes the giants eyes, and between them they restore his sight and free him from his chains. The giant seems very happy.

‘That was fun’ says ivy.

‘Are we done then, is everything fixed?’ Alexis asks. Ivy nods and the rooms begins to spin.

Suddenly they are out of the shard and standing in an observatory like chamber. Outside mechanical things rush past. The group stands there wondering what the fuck is going on, but Alexis wastes no time in pocketing the shard. Suddenly there are footsteps and before anyone can react, Turay Lok comes through the door.

He stops in his tracks, clearly as surprised to see the group as the group is to see him, but for both this passes quickly as the Inevitable demands to know who they are, how they got here and where the shard is. The group gabble out the events of the past few months, with everyone getting a bit confused in the process. Of course Lok has no recollection of these events, as having changed the past, the company has changed the future too – with the Vampy dead, there is never any plague, so Mordain’s lover never dies causing him to go to the dark-side, so he never steals the shard, so the group are never contacted to take it from Mordain by Lok. The only up side is that Dhur’Graz is no longer dead. Turay sees Alexis holding the shard behind her back and demands she hand it over. Alexis cites him trying to kill them as evidence why he or his kind should not be trusted and demands to know what Lok’s boss plans on doing with the shard. After a protracted toing and froing of ‘Give me the shard’, ‘Not until I know what you’re going to do with it’, ‘I will, just give it to me first’, ‘I will, but first you talk’ between Lok and Alexis, the Inevitable looses patience and battle music starts to play.

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Drunken debauchery
Enter the hangover

As Fie continues to chat with Baelgrund the others hold a mini conference. While this man is most defiantly the evil vamp from their time line, he’s not an evil vamp. All are confused until Ivy reminds Alexis of what she saw. Alexis thinks back and remembers Mordain going and attempting to slay another evil vamp. Hextor and Naveck decide that’s that and they need to go kill this other vamp. But they have no idea where he is. They drag Mordain and Fie away from their discussion and ask how they might find the vamp. Mordain suggests scrying. Fie says he doesn’t have that spell. Ivy insults his magic prowess and Fie responds with saying that he still doesn’t believe Ivy is on a mission from Greg. In order to shut Fie up Alexis asks Ivy to prove she’s from Greg. She responds by hading Fie a crystal ball that came out of nowhere. With the ball, Fie is able to zone in on the vamp and find out what sort of things are waiting for the group and where the vamp is. Once he’s seen that, Mordain leads the group and gets them a map of the area so Fie can pinpoint exactly were the new vamp is. While Fie is finding the spot, Alexis tries to warn Mordain that there might be some disease let loose thinking that when his lover dies it’s that that makes him evil and they might be able to avoid the whole thing, but it doesn’t seem to work. Fie finds the place they have to go, and that discovered the group want to head out immediately, but Mordain points out it’s almost 8 in the evening and suggests that they set out in the morning. With that, the group go and book a couple of rooms. Ursula turns in for the night, as does Hextor. Fie decides to go and study in the library for a while, and Naveck orders dinner.

Having eaten only a short while ago, in her personal time frame, Alexis decides to find out what sort of drinks these wizards have. She enters the bar, and is greeted by some form of giant insect. She vaults on to the stool and asks for a beer. The barkeeper hands her a wooden bottle and tells her it’s a woodling special. She is mildly surprised that he know her race and this drink, but chugs it down. It has a subtle nutty flavour, very pleasant, so she has five more and starts chatting to a newt who offerers to introduce her to the wonderful world of wizardly liqueurs. First she tries ‘fire water’, served in a thimble, and belches out a small fireball, as does the newt. Next she tries something blue and sparkley. Naveck, having finished his meal by this time, comes into the bar as well. Alexis tells him to try the fire water, but not knowing the effect Naveck orders a pint of the stuff, while the newt asks Alexis what drink she would like next. She points to a pink bottle, that’s all twisted, and the barman pours her a measure in a special glass, also twisted. Alexis is mesmerised by the spinning liquid. At this time Naveck quaffs his fire water. The barman brings up a huge mental shield and an instant later Naveck belches out a huge fireball that destroys most of the ‘show’ bottles. Understandably the barman is upset, but is more annoyed when Alexis quaffs her drink and, spinning the top of her stool, sprays projectile vomit over everyone and everything. She ends up on the floor in a small daze. As she is getting herself together again, Naveck orders a raw hog and another pint of fire water. He quaffs the drink and, with the resounding belch, cooks his hog to a crisp. Alexis giggles to herself from the floor. “I want another drink,” she proclaims. “Navvy, Bar me!” and with that the half giant looks up from his hog, puts one massive hand on her head and lifts her back onto the bar.

There follows a brief repose where Alexis tells all and sundry about her adventures, prancing along the bar doing battle with the air, and Naveck eats his pig, and challenges the wizzards to a drinking contest. The newt is suitably entertained and calls for another drink for Alexis. But she is unable to decide, and prays loudly to Greg for a sign of what drink to have next. Due to the strange concoction in her belly Alexis has an alcoholic epiphany, and engages Greg in direct conversation. The mighty god stops polishing his surfboard. “Duuude,” he says, “Like, how did you get here man?” “Drink,” Alexis states proudly, “much consumption of the wizardly brew have I been take-parting of. Like, Greg, dude, show me what I should have next. I can’t chose.” so Greg turns his eye on the selection at the bar and points to a greeny blue one that seems to more continuously in it’s bottle. “Dude, like, you totally need to have a tsunami.” “’Kay,” Alexis says and the connection closes. “I’ll have a tsunami,” she says to the barkeeper. He raises an eyebrow and put the bottle down in front of her. “Go easy-” he starts to say, but she quaffs the bottle… And shoots backwards, and his the bar wall. There is a lingering scent of brine and the sound of gulls. Alexis slides slowly down the wall. “Duuude. Awesome,” she mumbles to herself.

Fie briefly turns up and has something non alcoholic, and gets muchly ridiculed by the others for not drinking and for generally being too much of a square. As though to prove this point, the barkeep turns up with a couple of new drinks for them to try. One is a bottle in the shape of a Beholder, with the cork coming from the centre of it’s eye, and the other is a small bottle filed with black and red swirled liquid. Tiny succubi dance at the bottom of the bottle. The barkeep tells them it’s simply called ‘sex in a bottle’ and pours out a small amount for both Alexis and Naveck, but Fie declines. They both sling it back. Alexis’ eyes open wide and a small, startled scream escapes her mouth. Faster than the eye can see, Naveck gets a smouldering hole in his steel codpiece, and one of the show bottles fall off the wall. Fie leaves in disgust soon after.

Some when during this time 5.6 and Ivy have turned up at the bar. Alexis demands to be lifted again and promptly has a go at the construct geeks poking at 5.6, telling them not to hassle the giant or he’ll splat them, and that he’s not for prodding. Naveck, noticing the two, orders Ivy a mystery amber drink and tells her it’s apple juice, and a drink that sparks with electricity for 5.6. 5.6 glugs his down, and instantly the hair on his body [all five stands] are pointing upwards with small arcs of lightning coming off them. He smiles and says “All better”, so they get some for the road. Meanwhile Ivy is protesting that her drink isn’t apple juice. Naveck tells her it’s good for her, while Alexis argues you shouldn’t get an emissary from God drunk. Ivy gets a little tipsy, and removes the cat from talking to the newt to play with him. Alexis cautions Ivy not to play too rough with the nice kitty, while the professor cries about the indignity of it all. Alexis placates him with a scratch behind the ear and he mutters “Damn you,” while settling down on Ivy’s lap.

It’s about this time that the bar begins to empty, and the crew consider heading back to their beds themselves. Naveck steps of his stool and loses his balance slightly since Ivy is sat on his shoulders, Alexis falls off the bar and totters towards the door, and 5.6 calmly plods after, leaving a particularly persistence construct geek embedded in the wall. There is a short flight of stairs to navigate down leaving the bar, and Naveck tumbles down them with drunken grace, while Alexis totters, almost falls but recovers, the two of them swagger back to the dorms, singing [out of time, out of sync and out of tune] ‘show me the way to go home’, while Ivy giggles her heart out as Naveck runs around trying to dislodge the small girl. Eventually they reach their rooms, Ivy and Alexis trying not to wake Ursula, and Naveck breaks his bed falling into it.

The next morning, Hextor and Ursula wake everyone bright and early, and they all go to breakfast. Naveck isn’t too bad, nor is Ivy. Alexis however has the most gods awful hangover in the history of ever, and so too, it looks like, do most of the other wizards, who all glare at Naveck for drinking so much and being okay. Alexis forces down a cup of coffee and some porridge, but feels sick after Navack decides to stick some bacon under her nose, so he goes and stays with the trees until she feels better.

Hextor and Naveck arrange for mounts etc and for some one to teleport them to the Mountains of Giants, and at around 10am they arrive to face the evil vamp.

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The In-between

After their night of rest, the adventures embark on taking the castle. With Hextor and Naveck in the lead, the troupe fight many whights on the castle steps, finally gaining the front door. However they find no way in. Seemingly from nowhere, a random wizard they where introduced to at the monastery has joined them, and he [Fie] suggests the culvert around the back. Alexis curses the Gods, suggesting They get some amusement from all this. Greg, at least, announces he does, and with the brief removal of a small metal grate, they find themselves wading through the sewerage. Once out they find themselves in what appears to be the kitchen, and since their breakfast was so frugal, the team set too eating a bunch of stuff. However, Alexis’ quick ears soon pick up the sounds of foot steps. She motions the others to hide; Hextor behind the door, Naveck in the cold meat storage, 5.6 on top of a cupboard, Alexis, Ursella and Tempest under a table, and Fie behind a pile of sacks. With everyone nicely hidden, the foot steps stop, the door opens and in comes a wizened old man. As soon as the door shuts Hextor steps out and puts his sword in the small of the man’s back. The man looks very unimpressed. Words are exchanged and the old man calmly tells everyone to come out of hiding. Slowly they do, and the man tisks at their appearance and orders them all to bath, then he fixes them a proper meal. The troupe are confused, and rightly so. The old man tells them that he use to be like them, only now he has been forced into servitude by Mordain, and the only way they will enter the man part of the castle is to pretend to be servants. The group spend a while preparing for this, they put all their armour and weapons into a box and take it out into the courtyard. They don’t really have a plan and it shows because as soon as they are in the courtyard on the way to the other building they are stopped by more wraiths, questioned and it ends up in a fight. The party get their gear and proceed.

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A letter home

Dear Cap. Hengar, Wizard Yastromo,

I apologise for the tardiness of this letter, the others and myself have been rather busy since I last wrote and It’s getting increasingly difficult to find a safe place to relax. That said, we are currently ensconced in the relative safety of a monastery at Shakuru – the City of Beggars. The Brothers here have been kind enough to share what little they have and tend to our hurts, both those of the flesh and the heart. I have sad news: Dhur’Graz, our mighty orc companion, is dead. He was felled by a giant zombie, not 5 hours ago as I write this. [Here tears blur the words a little] We were not even able to give him a proper burial, and his corpse lies stiffening outside. But before we left we were able to salvage a little of his hair, with the hope we can resurrect him. But for all our sadness we will not turn back. On the morrow we plan to storm Castle Holagar and rid the world of the abomination of Mordain Baelgrund.

But I get ahead of myself. I think last time I sent to you, I said we were about to infiltrate Vesper’s Mansion. That went well. The man was paranoid beyond all reasonable doubt and kept me highly entertained with the number of traps and gizmos of death he had designed for me to disarm. When we reached the main throne room Vesper was waiting for us. He activated a final trap – the floor fell away to reveal pillars that we could jump across to him, but should we slip, we would fall onto spikes. Hextor and Naveck practically ran across, with Durry in close pursue. Ursella and myself stayed atop Tempest while the others made quick work of Vesper. Once they had done, Hextor searched the body and came up with an intriguing device for me that we called a wute – a wand of summon monster, made into a flute. In the banter before we killed him, Vesper revealed the location of the Beguiled Temple, so we determined a plan to take Vesper’s mask and rather distinctive hair and infiltrate the infiltrators.

It didn’t take us very long to get to the Temple, and Hextor and myself entered posing as Vesper and his new assistant [maybe Hextor can take care of himself, but I wasn’t about to let him go in alone – four fists are better than two]. Anyway as soon as we entered I felt something was off. Forgive me, but I don’t really recall much of what Hextor said to the high priestess [I was assessing threats and escape routes] but I recall his said something that upset her a lot, and most of these priestesses turned out to be succubi and naturally we got in a big fight. However, after killing most of the succubi the high priestess did reveal the location of the City of Beggars by giving us a map, and I found myself a nice piece of treasure – the fabled corset of Slack-Jaw [you remember me mentioning it don’t you Yasty?].

Anyway, once we joined the others, Lok [who had caught up with us] read the map and we went to Shakuru. However, it was on entering that we were assaulted by the Giant Zombie, and at which time our dear Dhur’Graz was slain.

I do so hope that this letter found you in better health and spirits than I, and I know you would wish us luck for our venture on the morrow. My love to the town, as always, and may Greg watch over us all.

Yours, as ever,

Alexis

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The plot thickens

(Recounted by DruidX) 

Hextor stands in the pile of dead orcs.

“You could have given me more of a challenge,” he says. “Are you coming with us, or d'you want a piece of me too?” The woman stands back aghast.

“What… are you? These were 12 of my best thugs!”

“Well?”

The woman hisses and steps back, and begins to move her hands in mystic gestures. Alarmed Hextor rushes forward, and with a sweeping arc slices both the casters hands off.

“Woops,” he says. From high above Alexis cries out, “Holy Greg in a hand basket!” Hextor looks around, and spots Ursella.

“Err, can I have a hand here please?” he says. Ursella hurries forward and heals the woman, and the group take her back to the ship.


Navek inquires and Hextor describes the battle. Alexis helps Ursella search the woman and they find a tattoo of black horned dragon cropped around a heart. One of the team's scholars takes a look at the tattoo. He says she is a priestess of the Beguiled Temple, who believe in subterfuge and sneak their way into the high ranks of society.

 

Navek interrogates to the orc prisoner. The orc tells the group that he works for the woman, and that she slept with their boss to order them around. Navek asks if he's ever been to City of Beggars, he says he never want to go there because he's scared of it. Hextor then steps forward and throws the bag of hands at the orc, who screams like a child. Hextor asks the woman's name. The orc says she is Ethelia, and she works for some freaky temple in the mountains to the north. The evil warlord up there is called Vesper, but everyone calls him 'The Death Jester' cuz he wears a mask and is cruel and insanely depraved etc. This man lives on the edge of the desert in a big mansion. He's never been there, and the woman is his only contact.

 

“Alright, he's given us everything he knows. I say we give him a beer and send him home.” Alexis says.

“We can't. As soon as he gets away, he'll report us,” says Naveck. Alexis turns to the orc.

“You wouldn't do that would you,” she says, with wide eyes and fake innocence. The orc shrieks at the sight of her and says he wont.

“Tell you what,” says Hextor, “if you can best me in single combat, we'll let you go. I wont even have any armour or a sword. You can even have a weapon.” He smiles. The orc whimpers.

“It's okay, I won't tell!” he says. “I'll take up farming if you let me go.”

“Okay then,” says Alexis. “You go and take up farming. After all we know where you live now.” The orc nods enthusiastically.

“And we want you to be nice to old ladies. And plant some trees.” Ursella giggles.

“Yeah, yeah! Anything!” the orc sobs.

At the back, Naveck speaks to the cleric, who steps forward and makes some mystic gestures and mumbling.

“Right,” he says. “If you disobey, you'll get a nasty surprise.”

 

With that the group releases the orc, and wait for Ethelia to wake. She does so soon after, and screams at the loss of her hands. She sighs and says, “I can't even look at my nails.” Simultaneously Ursella and Alexis thrust forward her severed hands, “Here!” the cry.

Ethelia screams. After extensive questioning she tells the group that Vesper is in the back pockets of the temple and the high priestess is in contact with Baelgrun… the bad guy.

 

The group leaves her in the care of Mr Lok and heads to Vesper's mansion.

 

Alexis tries to bluff the guards, saying they are special agents from Alansia to speak to the High Priestess. She fails, but they dispatch the guards within six seconds. Hextor throws the severed heads in and says, “We said we were here to see Vesper, stop fucking abut!”

The group walks in to a lavish mansion towards a bird cage of exotic birds. More guards show up and ask, “Who let you on?”

The group says again they want to see Vesper, and they guards say “That's up to us mate.”

Hextor and Navek dispatch two in quick succession, but there is one guard left. Alexis steps forward and with a skilled shot fires through the bird cage and hits the guy. The guard lunges and hits Hextor, who screams in agonised pain. Ursella steps forward and releases the birds, asking them to cause chaos, which they do… by shitting on the guard. Navek kills him.

 

The group move round as Navek kicks in another door. Hextor cuts the heads off the shitty guards and throws them at the two inside.

“SERIOUSLY!” he says. “We're trying to deliver a message. You guys are the worst butlers ever!” Still the guards come forward, but again are dispatched quickly. Alexis sneaks forwards and calls back, "There's another guard on the way!". Ursella's mount, Tempest, runs forward and bites the guard, and Alexis follows and slashes at the guard. Hextor and Navek are quickly back in the fray and decimate the guard.

 

The troupe then walk up the stairs towards another door. Alexis steps up and opens the door and looks in. The room is filled with a pond full of fish, fed by two fountains shaped like fish. It seems very pleasant. There are no guards present though. Naveck goes to step in, but Alexis holds her hand out.

“Wait,” she says.

“What is it?” asks Hextor. “Are there traps?”

“it's too quiet,” Alexis mumbles to herself, not answering him. She walks to the edge of the pond and dips her finger in the water. A large fish comes up and nibbles on her finger. She stands and looks around, then walks down the right path. Alexis stops abruptly and crouches down.

“Are there traps?” Hextor calls from the doorway. Alexis holds up a hand to shush him, then goes back to Ursella.

“I need a pebble,” she says. Ursella hands her one, and with no further explanation Alexis takes it and crouches back where she was. She tosses the pebble onto the square. Nothing moves… but the area makes a hollow sound. Grimly she stand up and walks over to a fountain by the doorway. As she passes, Alexis looks at Hextor.

“Traps,” she confirms. At the fountain, Alexis crouches again by the base, noticing scratches that indicated it would turn. Silently she turns the fountain. The water stops by about halfway. Once it turns full, there is an audible click. Alexis turns back to the others and grins.

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Hyennish, gateway to Khul

After weeks of gathering and recruiting, the ship had finally assembled a crew. Along with a company of soldiers from Wolftown, the party set sail for Khul. 

The months passed uneventful as the ship sailed from Allansia. The one turbulant night in the midst of the Ocean of Tempest, a group of dark shapes 

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Ambush at the docks.

The following morning, the party strolled down to the docks. When they reached the Khullian ships, there were trails of blood heading toward the vessels. After tracking the trials to their source, they found a patrol watchman pinned to a nearby warehouse wall. His eyes were cut out and his tongue torn from his mouth. His hands and feet were pinned with iron pitons. 

At the corner of her eye, Alexis caught a glimpse of several small silouettes , peeping over the deck of one of the Khullian ships. Their eyes shimmered red with cruel intent.

Alexis immediately sprang into action and cocked a crossbow bolt.

"Ahh!" she cried, Upon which she pointed up at the ship towards the dark shapes and loosed a shot at the nearest shape.

With a high-pitched 'squeak', the creature took it in the shoulder. Hextor dashed up the gangplank nd cleaved his bastard sword through what looked like a rat-man with thick dark fur. The others where identically adorned with bone splint armour stitched to leather, carrying bamboo tubes and unusual three-pronged stabbing weapons. Upon cutting down this rat-man, he proceeded to flow into a dance of graceful blade swing, cleaving one rat-man after another. Navek waded into the fray and cut down rat-men in quick succession. Their frail frames posing little resistance to his rippling sword arm.

Durr'Graz ran after them and cut down the few that were missed. Meanwhile, Essella and Alexis swiftly picked off those nearest the bow of the ship. When the last rat-man was finally dispatched, they headed for the captain's cabin. Hextor saw looming in the doorway, a larger rat-man. Brandishing two three-pronged stabbing weapons, it stood poised to strike. But Hextor and Navek sprung onto the creature and cut it down before it could gurgle a cry in it's throat. Staggering over the bodies after them, Turay looked around amazed at the swift dispatch of these rat-men.

"Well, you certainly are a formidable troope" he smirked. "These Nezumi-bito were clearly no match for you." He paused and lifted his straw hat.

"However.." he added grimly, "I am concerned as to why such creatures were here."

Glancing around at the cabin, Hextor noticed outstretched on a table were a pile of scrolls, a large map and a leather bag. The map appeared to be of some foreign continent. The scrolls were not so much written, but painted.. and in a series of symbols that appeared to him to be no more than unusual talley strikes that travelled down the parchment in columns. It was utterly indecipherable to him. Upon the opposite wall was a strange silk robe. It had long wide sleeves. It had bound around the waist a satin sash. Turay looked over,

"May I see those scrolls Hextor?" he enquired. He handed them to Turay "Can you read them?"

Turay smiled, "Yes for the are written in the Khullian script" he nodded, "they detail that these Nezumi-bito were posingas merchants in order to gainentry into the dock." He rolled the scroll and proceeded to the next one."This was intended to begin an insurgance into Navale and thus gain a foot-hold in Allansia."

Looking around the deck, Navek moved aside corpse and uncovered the cargo hold's trap door.

"5.6" he called "give me a hand with this". 5.6 gave his child-like smile "Okay".

They each grabbed a large cast-iron ring and hauled open the trap-door. Inside was a ladder descending into a large hold. Illuminated by a couple of hanging oil lamps, were row upon row o stacked crates. Snooping among them Alexis and Durr'Graz looked inside them. Packed in with leaves of a foreign palm tree, were pots of saffron and other rare spices. In other crates were bolts of silk cloth. Alexis helped herself to a pot, while Durr'Graz grabbed four bolts of silk and bunged them in his backpack.

"Well ladies and gentlemen" Turay announced, "looks like we have ourselves a vessel to take us to Krull."

Navek looked around the corpse strewn deck.

"Its a large vessel," he concluded thoughtfully, "we'll need a large crew and a way of properly disposing of these bodies. We can't simply chuck them overboard for fear of contaminating the waters." He looked around and signaled to 5.6. 

"5.6, you and Durr'Graz take these bodies outside of town," he said glancing to each of them "line a hole with quicklime from the barracks and lay the bodies in there. Then lay quicklime on top to seal it  then cover it up with topsoil." 

5.6 nodded, and Durr'Graz grunted in his usual form of acknowledgment. 

"Umm… guys" called Essella, "Can we get this poor fellow down from the wall ad have him properly buried?" she pleaded, heaving at the tightly embedded pitons.

Navek strode down the gangplank rolling up his sleeves. He gripped the pitons of the watchman's palms firmly in each hand and hauled them clear, catching the watchman's body over his shoulder. He then pulled the pitons from the feet. He laid the body down gently, took some tarpaulin from a nearby crate and laid it over the body while quielty under his breathe he whispered "Rest in peace friend."

Standing up and composing himself Navek looked to the party, "We'll send for the militia to take him away, in the meantime.."he paused, glancing at the ship "we'll need to organise crew and supplies." 

 

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A town called Navale

Navale, a humble coastal town built around the fishing docks that founded its settlement. Here the loose confederation that is Allansia’s army, holds a small barracks to the south of town. Lead by the stern Captain Belvadin, a dwarf veteran, whom has seen many a skirmish in his distinguished career and now has been selected to train and lead the new-founded militia for the town.

Although a relatively peaceful town, Navale has recently been suffering disturbances along the dockyards. Reports from patrols speak in hushed tones over shadows leaping from the  hulls of incoming merchant vessels coming from the east. Several patrols have disappeared in the night, only to be found the next day murdered. With the new found militia having limited numbers to call upon, word has been sent to Toragard for reinforcements in the matter lest the situation worsens…

The road was long but uneventful. Within a few days they had reaqched Navale, by which time it was approaching early evening. They headed for the barracks located to the south in order to see Captain Belvadin. The captain greeted them warmly and ushered them to be seated upon reaching his office. 

"Thank you for coming so quickly, we are very much in need of your assistance." began Belvadin.

"What seems to be the trouble captain?" enquired Alexis.

Belvadin rose from his chair and walked solemnly to a nearby window. 

"Recently we have been losing several of our patrols at the docks, only to find them dead in cruel displays the following morning." he answered.

"Are they trying to send a message?" she asked, "Or just stir fear?"

Belvadin gritted his teeth in frustration.

"Either way its working" he replied bitterly, "because if this isn't brought to an end, then we wont have any patrols left and Navale descend into fear and chaos." 

"How were the patrolmen found captain?" enquired Essella.

"They were pinned against the walls of the dockyard warehouses. Their faces slashed and their uniforms in tatters." he replied mournfully.

"Worry not captain!" Alexis proclaimed and she jumped from he chair, "We'll sort this mess out."

"I'll send a patrol with you" he answered.

"I think we'll be better off without captain" she replied, "you've lost enough men, and we don't want to risk any more. Besides, we've faced worse situations" she smirked.

"As you wish then," Belvadin conceded "may fortune be with you".

With that the party settled to dinner at the mess hall.

"What's for dinner?" asked Alexis inquisitively.

"Fish stew ma'am" answered the chef solemnly.

"To the Pit with that" snorted Navek, "I'm going to tavern for some REAL food. Eat from land but never the sea I always say."

"Same here" grunted Durr'Graz. And with that they strode off down the cobbled street to the nearest tavern.

"Meh, no pleasing some people" shrugged Alexis.

5.6 was in the cart at the stable muttering to himself.

"Mustn't eat the horsys cos 'lexis said no" After a few select rodents, he wrapped over himself  some tarpaulin and gently dozed. 

The mess hall was as quiet as a graveyard. Not for a lack of people, but the mood was none-the-less solemn and grim. Alexis tried her best to liven them up with tales of the party's eploits. Some gathered, but most drifted slowly to the dormitories as night fell. 

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Return to Toragard

It has been 2 months since the fall of of the Half-Fiend Zagor and the liberation of the Desolated Swamps. Since then Toragard has been slowly rebuilt to its former glory. Hextor Francis had been aiding the garrison in the recruiting and training of militia forces in order to fill the vacuum left from the 4 years of siege. The project has been so successful that it has eclipsed the original garrison's numbers.

A new face recently comes to town, Navek Tzar'Irell (a half-giant soldier from Wolftown) upon hearing of army recruitment at Toragard comes seeking work. Upon successful recruitment he comes to the 'Plot Hook' tavern for some much needed lunch after signing all those prerequisite documents at the barracks. Here he meets Alexis, strolling in after a hard weeks shopping and investing in real-estate. After making friends with Navek over Alexis' usual acrobatic barstool mounting antics, the 2 set down to lunch together.

Across the courtyard at the training barracks Hextor (the 't' is silent!) and 5.6 are setting about the routine combat sparring.

" Ok lads, if you can hit the target" pointing to 5.6 (who waves enthusiastically at the recruits), "then you're training will be complete…. now 5.6….. gently this time" 5.6 smiles happily, then prods them flying across the courtyard. After a few hours, the recruits lay about groaning in pain, Hextor looks on wincingly in renewed disbelief.

"Okkayyy…. thats enough for today guys, we will pick up again same time tomorrow" Hextor declares, then inching towards the door, tugging 5.6 by the wrist.

Eventually 5.6 and Hextor make their way to the tavern and are introduced to Navek. Navek upon seeing 5.6 without his helm on scoffs "abomination!" and moves to another table. "Hey!!" Hextor remarks scornfully, "5.6 has saved more lives than you had hot dinners." Navek cleaning his fourth plate of beef and onions "somehow I doubt that" Upon entering the tavern Durr'Graz comes in. "Durry!" Alexis squeels excitedly. 5.6 finishes his whole  cow.

It was cool autumn evening, and the sun had just recently set. A lone traveller walks in rhythm to his staff as it clicks along the cobbles down the road. Wearily, the traveller lifts his wicker hat as the noble town of Toragard emerges over the horizon. He strolls on as the evening rolls on, passing through the newly carved masonry of the town's gateway. The warm light of the tavern cast a soft glow upon the floor, making a welcoming trail to its door.

Upon entering the tavern, there were several soldiers off duty along with a few craftsmen drinking away the aches and pains of the day. Making is way to the bar, he slid tiredly onto an empty barstool. A hearty middle aged gent leant over the bar, polishing a tankard. "Welcome sir, what pray brings you to humble Toragard?" The stranger peered from under his hat.

"Can you tell me where I can find these individuals?" replied the stranger, gesturing 4 partchment pictures… 

Alexis introduces herself to the stranger. "I have a proposition for you and your party" he replied. 

 

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