A Message at Ground Zero
Found scratched into the dirt at the Garden District Gate.

Well, apparently I’m not dead yet. Or maybe ghosts have a lot more influence on the world than I thought, who knows. Raphael seemed to recognize that old man who let the clockwork dog out of the crate, so I think I’ve worked out what she did to pay off Madame what’s her face’s favours. I think I was just supposed to be the instigator, so at least the guards got one thing right there. Haven’t even been in Merai for a month and I got roped into a terrorist plot, or something. I don’t even know what happened to Lucas, but he’s probably dead, not that I really care anymore. Walked right to the Guards and named every single one of us, if that letter was accurate. I think I saw Merric getting dragged off by Oisin, so at least that’s one friendship preserved. Raphael’s probably patched herself up, don’t see her anywhere. I’m gonna go to the docks, see if I can get a ride back to the Guild Lands. Maybe make some actual money there, that Guild of Heroes place seemed pretty wealthy when I went by on my pilgrimage. Might actually be able to forge something that Prikya will appreciate. Not going to be doing under my family name though, most incompetent pair of blacksmiths I ever saw. How the hell do you fall 500 gold behind on guild dues?

Shit, that captain’s waking up, no idea how he lived through my Guardians and the dog. This is Vulcan, hoping to never see you again, Merai.

The emblem of the Hammerflame smithy is scratched into the ground, with a rather vicious looking slash across it.

A Burnt Book
Property of the Merai City Watch

This journal was obtained at the crime-scene of the explosion at the entrance to the Garden District Barracks by concerned citizen Linnaeus D. Duncan, a travelling diviner who was present on the day of the blast. With it are several separate attached scratch notes the citizen gave to the Watch on his own deductions/observations on the matter.

Curiosity has all but killed the cat, and I am said cat.

I have written a letter to Merric explaining that I was dumb and sold out my friends to the guards, believing strongly that the morals of my case would mean it wouldn’t matter. Too late I realized that these were the kind of guards who only did what they were paid to do and did not go the extra mile. I had endangered all of my friends and know they will eventually learn the truth of what I did.

Subject appears extremely jaded and morally conflicted. It is very much likely they are hiding something they are not proud to admit of. Perhaps this Merric fellow knows something, though he is likely to be less objective given the fact that a friend implicated him in something. Further inquiry suggested with a more subtle approach.

I feel awful about this whole mess. Through my own curiosity and my belief in my moral high ground, I’ve dug myself into an even deeper hole. I should have listened to Gentle Manly in the first place and never even gone and gotten involved with the church’s affairs. I just couldn’t bloody well help myself, could I? You find yourself in a new place and you want to see what it’s all about. But this time I dug too deep. At the very least, I should have just kept running with Merric that day instead of getting so concerned that he may have killed a guard. They never ratted out my mistakes before. Why didn’t I return the favor? What good did I think would come of it?

Suggested informants to inquire: a representative from the Church of Intox working at the cathedral, guard who was injured, and ‘Gently Manly’. NOTE: subject’s situation here starts to begin to sound morally gray. Advice: speak to a member of the Church of Dredd concerning ‘Trolley Problem’.

The only one I haven’t made mistakes with yet is Sulia. I’d follow her to the ends of the earth if possible. If I get a chance, once my coffee maker is done, I’d like to propose to her, and we can leave Merai to find a better life somewhere, away from this chaos. But whether or not she decides to come, I must eventually leave. I’ll explain to her that I’ve made some bad mistakes here, and it would be too hard for us to live together here because of them. So, if worst comes to worst, I’ll find a way to send her letters in secret, where ever I am.

While it seems this ‘Sulia’ knows nothing of this man’s deeds, inquiring her on his personality, etc., may be useful to get at the bigger picture of why this man did whatever he did. Clearly he was a tinkerer of some sort, and one with ambitions. His designs, wherever they are, should be apprehended and turned in to the guild so that they do not go to waste. I’m sure the guild would appreciate it. But none of this is particularly necessary.

I’ll go to Catherine’s Port. It’s a place in a far off continent, east of the Guild Lands, where they tend to be more accepting of sorcerers and people of all backgrounds. It’s also said to be significantly richer than Merai. However, I worry slightly. That country was recently through some kind of civil war. Tensions could be high there, so I best be more cautious than I was here. It would be much better to try to live a simple life for a while than one behind bars.

Why am I not surprised he chose to go there?

So I took my chances when Raphael let me out of the cell. At least I don’t owe Piros any favors. She seems to have half the city under her finger with what I know from Raphael’s experience. If they come looking for me, I’ll be packing. And if they try to apprehend me, I have a very easy way of-

The rest of the pages are burnt.

Book seems to be singed by magical energy. Does not seem to be of any normal elemental type, but a purer form. This is dangerous. Suggested course of action would be to apprehend whomever made the mechanical dog immediately. This person could be a terrorist. Also, seek inquiry into the following individuals: “Piros”, and “Raphael”. Their information could prove important.

Lucas's Journal Entry No.5: Down the Rabbit Hole Part 2
And one pill makes you small...

As we were fleeing down the ladder, Merric blocked our pursuers by use of a clever stone-shaping spell. We didn’t waste time leaving the den though; however, before we did we accidentally awoke some Halfling who had been living in the sewers and seemed rather disgruntled about the whole thing. He turned out to be helpful though, and part of us back through the sewers (Vulcan had gone his own route)…right into Raphael, whom had grown quite a size larger since we last had seen her! Merric fixed this, somehow, with another spell- the same gust of wind spell he had used against the ooze. At first, I figured this would do nothing at all…and I can’t believe how wrong I was! The spell blasted her out of the hole, as well as some poor guard who had been standing too close to her. She was fine; however, the guardsman fell several feet back down and was seriously injured so much I thought he had died! Then Merric did something rather petty (in my opinion) and blasted the poor man backwards into a wall before running off. I would have gone with him too, but something in me snapped at that moment. For so long, I’d been running away from my problems. I escaped to Merai when things were looking bleak back home in my old village, I’d implicitly acceptedMme Piros’s ‘help’ to get out of jail last time instead of staying and telling the whole story like I should have, and now I was running away again. In that moment, I decided I should stop running, because sooner or later it would all catch up with me, and then who would I be? A spineless villain without the guts to face up to his mistakes like a man. A wretched coward.

So, instead, cursing Merric for such pettiness, I ran over and helped the guardsman. It wasn’t necessary, as it turns out, as Raphael was able to heal him and he was tougher than he seemed. I went quietly to their barracks in low-gate, where I explained the details of everything that happened. I still face the fact that the living priest testified against our group, calling us murderers when we were just trying to defend ourselves. But this is just more reason that I shouldn’t get involved with that terrible excuse for a ‘church’ next time, no matter what it is. I also ended up giving away the names of all my friends in the process. I know many of them probably won’t forgive me for that, but I’m a horrible liar and I don’t want to keep running and hiding from my problems. A man with courage has to take the fall sometimes. So that may be what happens to me. The guards said this was out of their hands and they’d have to call in some higher-up to deal with the issue. I await what happens in my cell in low-gate, and I’m not going anywhere unless situation requires it of me…

Lucas's Journal Entry No.4: Down the Rabbit Hole Part 1
One pill makes you larger...

Pewicksmonth 18th, 4706

Well, I’ve now gotten myself into another awkward situation by my curiosity and loyalties to my friends. At least this time I managed not to manslaughter innocent people…okay, there were the cultist priests of Intox who attacked us, but that was in self-defense! And they were up to something sketchy anyway. AND it was only one guy…Roylyn got the other one… UGH. Even now I still feel I’m on morally sketchy grounds. But I did what I did to protect my friends, damn it!

Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here eh? I should begin this on a happier note. The upside of this week, though I did not make much money at all, is that I got a chance to really get to know Sulia Marigold a lot better! She’s so amazing. Clearly more intelligent than I’ll ever be, but I’m not that jealous. I just hope I don’t appear like a total idiot to her and that I can be of some help to her some times. She told me she and her colleagues were working on a self-replicating, intelligent clockwork dog! It’s the most ingenious thing! Makes my idea for the coffee maker look like a school boy’s art project. They’re still having some trouble sorting it out, but I’m sure with their minds they can do it. Hopefully I’ll be able to add a small contribution to it in the future. Anyway, we also talked about her magical abilities and she revealed that she’s some kind of wizard. Sadly, this didn’t seem to fly with the other workers. They didn’t really like the fact that we magic users were working among tinkerers. They saw it as cheating or something like that. I tried to persuade them that we weren’t so much trying to compete with our fellow tinkerers as advance the field itself. However, the crowd was a bit of a hot-headed bunch and still were annoyed at this. I guess if I look at it from there perspective we could be the ones stealing away their potential livelihoods do to innate talents few people have. So, I can see the resentment. However, when things were about to explode, Sulia challenged our accusers to a Tinkerer’s Tussle involving clockwork ‘robots’ designed to fight each other boxer style! We worked on ours for about two hours…and then got romantically distracted! I’d need to find that bard again to accurately and poetically describe her kiss, for I’m sure to butcher such a description if I attempt to write it down here! Anyway, sadly the tussle did not go in our favor. However, Sulia noticed that there was something odd about how strong the other team’s robot was in comparison, like someone else had helped in secret. Gentle Manly ruled that the team should check to make sure, and low and behold the others noted some modifications on their bot that weren’t there when they’d finished! It was revealed that a man namedSam (a bit of an outcast, the poor fellow, as he has a habit of proposing rather preposterous ideas to the group which they don’t typically favor) had secretly modified the robot while they were gone! Given the rules of the Tinkerer’s Tussle, only two team members are to work on their robot together; any more is prohibited. In the end, Sam was shunned and did the strangest thing: he backflipped out of sight! Sulia didn’t seem hugely disappointed after that and offered me the chance to help work on her project. I’m inclined to take her up on that offer.

After that, I was heading back to my humble lodgings when I found Merric and Oisin headed down the street. They informed me they were headed to a drug den on police business to confiscate some illicit narcotics (and, knowing my friend Oisin, probably sample a few too). They’d received a message from one of our group that there was such a den in the sewers. They also had Brickleburgers with them, a famous sandwich I’d never had the pleasure of trying. Being a good friend and not wanting to repeat what happened at the Church, I decided to go with them to make sure they didn’t get into too much trouble (though I would not be taking any drugs myself this time). I also wanted to get a taste of the Brickleburger, which Merric said I could have if I came with them. Before we could enter the manhole, we heard a clanking sound and Roylyn came riding up to us on a gigantic mechanical bear! Needless to say this put me into a state of shock and awe for a couple of seconds. She named the thing the XT-006 Demolisher, which was a good name for an invention of that caliber. She promised to have it guard the manhole and come with back up in case we got into danger. Merric gave her the code word “Spumoni” and we ventured downward…

When we got into the dank depths of the sewers it didn’t take long for us to run into both Raphael and Vulcan, who were the ones who sent the message. It appeared there were several different drugs they’d found, including an odd one called Black Breath. Given its name and the symbol of a dragon on its container, me and Vulcan ventured that it was probably not terribly implausible to assume that it could be made by using the acid from a black dragon’s breath. Of course, it could just be named that way to sound cool. Oisin had some and seemed mostly okay…for a while that is. Raphael and the rest of us quickly noticed he was developing some odd symptoms and kept raving about getting some dank brew to drink (I shudder to think of repeating what he went through). Raphael attempted to use some of her holy magic to cure him, but it wasn’t of any use it seemed, which was troubling. In any case, both Merric and Oisin agreed we should continue investigating the sewers in case there were any more potential dens around. So, we all continued down the tunnels. Meanwhile, I finished my promised Brickleburger. It was quite delicious, and I may consider purchasing from their established business in Merai on occasion now. However, as I was savoring the last bite, something appeared from the darkness and engulfed Oisin! It was some kind of Ooze, and it had totally absorbed him! Everyone frantically arranged themselves to do combat with this monster and get Oisin out! I was a little too zealous in my first barrage of scorching rays and accidentally nearly hit Merric in the back! He was prepared for such an occasion however and quickly reacted with the shield spell, which absorbed the accidental friendly fire (that phrase is such a misnomer here). While Raphael made sure we’d come to little harm and Vulcan and I attempted to destroy the thing, Merric took the clever route, called out the code word and attempted to push Oisin out the other side of the Ooze by conjuring a great gust of wind. It worked, though he did end up accidentally pushing Raphael into it as a result. Vulcan toughed it out and managed not to get pushed in. Luckily, help arrived on time…and dramatically so! The Demolisher tore up the street above us and Roylyn jumped down, getting pushing into the Ooze herself. However, at that point it was all over, because now her Thunder Cannon’s shot could not possibly miss, and the monster exploded across the tunnel’s walls! After that endeavor was dealt with, we all continued down the tunnels…

We arrived finally at another den, this one cleaner and more well organized than the last. On the other side of the room was a locked metal door with a scene depicting the first Narcopontiff of Intox. With Vulcan’s hammer and my fire magic we broke the lock open and were through to the other side, where a ladder lead upwards to some unknown place. At this point Oisin was very out of it, and wandered out of the sewers by himself. But before he left, he sneezed…and suddenly nearly as tall as myself! This did not seem natural to me, and when I looked confused Vulcan explained it was the drugs he’d taken. I can’t imagine a natural drug doing something like that! There must be some magical component at work there! As we climbed up the ladder, the same thing happened to Raphael…only she was already our size, so she became as large as the Demolisher! Needless to say, she could not make it up the ladder and was forced to exit the way Roylyn had came in. When the remainder of us reached the top of the ladder, we found ourselves in a rather plain room. And this is where curiosity got the better of me and I found myself to be the first to open the door into the next room without checking to figure out if anyone was behind it first who may not want us here! And there were, as it turns out, people who didn’t want us there! Three priests of Intox were glaring me in the face as they lay smoking their dank weed on the chairs of the other room. And at this point I knew there was probably nothing I could do to stop this from taking the course it took. So I closed the door, warned everyone, and waited until everything went to shit. And that didn’t take long. They first attacked Vulcan with some kind of touch-spell, which likely would have done him some harm if Merric hadn’t counterspelled it in time (Merric and I may not always see eye-to-eye on everything, but I can do nothing but admire him for his cleverness in the end). This allowed Vulcan to tackled the man to the ground. The other priest reacted violently too, and soon we found ourselves all engaged in combat. I managed to take one of the priests down, which probably came as a huge ‘shock’ to him (damn me a thousand times over, I know even Tara would not approve of writing that pun in this context), and Roylyn expertly shot the other one right in-between his eyes while Vulcan restrained the remaining one. However, this noise was not unnoticed (especially not the blast from the Thunder Cannon). Soon, the city guard was knocking on the front door. We quickly made an escape and I tried to inform the remaining priest he hadn’t seen anything. Not sure if my intimidation tactic worked, but who knows? Anyway, that’s only half of what happened that day…

Lucas's Journal Entry No.3: Drugs, madness, and manslaughter
Say NO to Dankbrew

Pewicksmonth 11th, 4706

What a week. What. A. Week.

I haven’t been writing much as of recently, due to the tremendous preoccupation I’ve had with my personal project: a clockwork coffee-maker machine, soon to be the first of its kind anywhere. I hope to bring it to the church of Hermes Everymen and patent it. Perhaps then I can really make some money off of my hard work and take some time off for research into my draconic ancestry… or perhaps court a new companion of mine. I met a woman named Sulia Marigold, another apprentice like myself with some magical background to her name as well. I intend on finding out more about the details of it…that is I did, until what happened recently…

I volunteered to help my eccentric friend Roylyn acquire some of the Church of Intox’s famous Dankbrew. Curious myself as to what it was made of and what the big fuss about it and the church was, I partook in a rather covert, not technically legal operation to acquire some. The rest of our group of friends joined us. Raphael nearly ended up blowing our cover, and ran off, only to be captured later. The rest of us managed to begin taking part in their religious ceremony. We were all given cups of the brew. Wanting to keep myself sober should the case arrive to do negotiating as it inevitably would, I only first pretended to drink it. Instead I gave the rest to Oisin. That may have not been a good idea, despite him saying he was okay with it; in fact, it may be the cause of his peculiar behavior that occurred later on. That…and the dreadful accident that happened. Eventually after we were handed a second cup, the priests noticed I was much more sober than everyone else in the room by virtue of the fact I hadn’t collapsed unconscious. They handed me another cup, and this time I knew there was no way to foil them. So I took my chances, but gambled poorly as it turns out. Just before I blacked out I saw the priests dragging my unconscious friends away. I don’t know where they took us to, all I know is where we ended up later. But if they took us directly to the place we found ourselves when we truly regained our senses, I have good reason to believe they intended us to cause the harm we caused…

The next thing that happened was…strange. We all sort of had the same collective vision in a semi-conscious state it seems. I only know this because the others indirectly confirmed to me they had experienced something similar by their own descriptions of it. We believed we found ourselves in a mostly monochrome room with green light pouring in through a single window. A cauldron of some sort was in the middle of the room. It didn’t seem particularly magical to either I nor Merric. Oisin went to inspect it while the others searched for a way out. But suddenly something strange appeared from the cauldron: an aberration with a massive eye enclosed in a mass of tentacles! It began assaulting us with magical forces of eldritch nature. Believing this was all real, we all fought back as best we could, sparing no expense to slay the foe. However, during the fight Oisin was caught in its hold and mortally wounded, part from it’s grip, part from a hap-hazard lightning bolt from Merric. He told me to finish it at any cost. I asked him if he was sure, saying he could die if I did. He insisted. And so, I uttered the magical words to the most destructive spell I knew. A great ball of fire consumed the creatures and my friend, and when it dissipated I saw not but ash littering the floor. At that point, I knew I had killed him. Surely, I had. And as I fell to my knees in deepest sorrow, darkness consumed the room, and I awoke…

I awoke in an alleyway with the rest of my friends about me. I noticed Oisin, on the ground, still barely alive it looked like. When I roused him, he…burst out laughing uncontrollably. He seemed afflicted in some kind of psychological manner. But I was glad enough he was alive. However, this happiness was short lived. As I looked around me, I noticed we were not entirely alone in the alley. Three charred and blacked corpses lay on the ground around me, and a man still barely alive was being healed by Raphael. He named himself Greg, and said we had tried to kill him and his friends. And this is where a moment of horrible revelation gripped me. How I managed to not totally lose my sanity that instant I am not sure. But I knew now I was responsible for those three men’s deaths; that the Dankbrew had made me see horrible visions of untrue things and I had acted unknowingly upon them…

It was not long before the guards found us, after three of our group left and Greg had fled. I do not blame those three. They took us to the mid-gate barracks and locked us up for the night. Merric decided he’d have nothing much to do with me given the result of my actions, even turning against me slightly. In my eyes he’s probably almost as blameworthy as me in this, given the potency of the spell he cast. Who can say how many men were charred by his lightning bolt before my explosion? Well, it’s no use for either of us being petty to one another anyways now I think. After Oisin got over his affliction, we managed to have quite an insightful conversation on coffee. He still likes me all the same as if nothing happened it seems, so I’ll take solace in that. But next time I shall not be so idiotically reckless with my good friend. He may be the only one I have after this…

It turns out the bard somehow ended up in prison with us, presumably on lesser charges. He attempted a rather elaborate, hilarious, and astounding escape. Though it ultimately failed on his part, it was very interesting to watch and I was nearly applauding him at some points! He is a one-of-a-kind bard and I hope I get to see him again soon. Heck, if I get enough money, I may pay him to pull some rather hilarious and or romantically suitable antics for me and Sulia if I end up going out with her sometime. At the very least, he managed to acquire three little helpers in the process of his escape: a trio of mice. And then guess who showed up to offer us a favor for more favors? While most opted for Mme Piros’s assistance, I told her I’d rather not have my freedom bought and that, if given the chance, I’d like to explain my situation to the court. It turns out I didn’t have a whole lot of choice in that matter, as the guard captain just let us all out regardless. So, figuring it would make things worse and potentially be foolish if I just refused the freedom being offered to me, I went along with it. However, now I’m not sure whether or not that makes me implicitly indebted to Piros. I’d rather hope I wouldn’t have to do something for her in the future, as seeing the kind of power she actually has and the strings she can pull doesn’t do anything to put me at ease. Quite to the contrary in fact. A woman like that if scorned is a dangerous person. And I don’t want to end up having to do something for her that could result in me hurting more innocent people. I already have three dead men on my conscience, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to repay for that terrible accident I caused. My only defense is that I didn’t intentionally murder them: the drug made me believe them to be hostile monsters, so I acted as if they were. But that can’t bring them back, that can’t mend what’s been done. All I can do is warn others of the dangers of that terrible drug in hopes that no one else may find themselves in the same situation. Gentle Manly (our Guild Admin) was right all along that first day about the church. Drugging people and then dragging them off to possibly commit horrible crimes is an act of villainy in the highest, and we all would be better off if the church just up and left Merai

Lucas's Journal Entry No.2: Getting down to business
The work begins

Pewicksmonth 3rd, 4706

I managed to start work today at the Clock Maker’s Guild, though not without the assistance of my friends first. I had no idea exactly where the Guild was located, but with the help of Merric and Mo, whom managed to find a place to stay last night thanks to her guild thankfully, we managed to sort out that the guilds were all located in Middlegate. It also appears that Raphael has taken up work at the Bakers Guild. I’m not exactly sure what made a former priestess take a sudden interest in cooking, but like her god Raphael tends to work in mysterious ways.

Anyhow, when I arrived at the guild and was going to ask the admission’s clerk about getting a job I learned he was the same man I ended up arguing with over the riot in the streets the other day. Oh well. You can choose where you work, but you can’t choose whom you work for! So, I humbled myself in front of him and explained to him that I hadn’t an idea of what was actually going on between the guilds and the church, and that I had only thought about resolving the riot because of my past experience in how these things typically go. I recall the one big town riot we had once back in my home village. It ended with several shops getting lit aflame, multiple people injured, some slain, and valuable merchandise and works of art lost in the process. I believe it had to do with one of the noblemen whom represented a large trading company in town getting himself into debt with the local Thieve’s Guild (that’s what happens when you do shady business). I’d rather not see something like that happen again if I can prevent it. In any case, the administer understood and told me that the apprentice workshop is always open for all guild members to use if we do not own our own stands or shops. When I asked about the dog he said he’d taken care to retrieve it, but I detected something like a lie when he said that, so I’m not sure if I got the whole truth there. Anyway, I decided to hang around the apprentice workshop and see if I could find some higher-ranking member who might take me under their wing.

I was lucky to chance upon a gnome woman who had basically taken over the workshop. It was clear to me upon meeting her that she was exactly the kind of person I’m used to working with: eccentric, passionate, and driven. These people are like locked safes of knowledge: a great compendium of intellectual wealth is stored within them, and the only way you can access it is if you get to know them. My adopted father was such a man, and it seems like this gnome tinkerer is the same. She’s not without her quirks, but neither is anyone, and when it’s so clear that it’s all related to her love of tinkering it only makes me more interested. She has so many unfinished designs I could spend my whole life working on them if she’d let me! She does have one particular rule: she reserves a right to take apart anything I create for parts. That could be somewhat bothersome, but since I intend to work under her supervision for some time until I gain enough competence in my craft, I’ll have to just get used to it. Anyway, I spent most of the day working on one particular design she had produced. Unfortunately, most of her notes are scrawled in between Halfling, Gnomish, and common, so I’m only able to understand a third of what’s written. But that hasn’t stopped me before. Her visual sketches are quite detailed, and I’m a visual oriented person. Still, I didn’t have much luck in my first couple of attempts building the thing. I did manage to get it to stay together at least eventually.

I then went downtown to get a pastry and then drop off a paid apology note toMme Piros. I hope I’ve cleared things over with her to some degree. It’s not going to be enough to get on her good side likely. I know how I’d feel if someone did something similar to me as I did to her. But perhaps now I can try to work towards that. After all, she did help Oisin get a job.

I realized walking back to the shop that I would require a few more materials if I was to get the design I was working on functional. So I paid Vulcan a visit. It turned out my new supervisor was there too trying to get similar parts! That’s going to make Vulcan quite busy. I hope he’s able to make the pieces we need timely. I may consider making use of his services again if so.

Something else is bothering me though. Why is there so much vitriol between the guilds and the church? As far as I see, the priests of Intox seem fairly chill and just wanting to live their way of life. At least that’s how it seemed the other day before the riot broke out. What kind of history do they have between each other? There’s got to be something else going on here that I’m not seeing. If I can figure it out, perhaps I can clear my own guild’s name in their eyes and settle some kind of treaty between them and the Clock Maker’s Guild that would be beneficial to both of us. I may even earn a good reputation in the process for it with the admin. I should start with asking him if he’ll allow it and explain to him my plan. I’m not sure what he’ll think of it, but if he believes it could be beneficial for the guild too I might just get on his good side by doing this.

Oh drat! I just remembered I totally forgot to get my supervisor’s name! What a fool I’ll look to her tomorrow!

Lucas's Journal Entry 1
Merai: A new beginning

Fairrday, Pewicksmonth 2nd, 4706

What a day. Where to start?

I woke up Oisin in the early morning just as we were approaching the port. I knew he wouldn’t like to be waked from his sleep so early, but I had to show him the sunrise over the port. It was a spectacular sight to see. I’m also very glad that a few other acquaintances of mine have accompanied me on the same journey. Merric, the wizard who revealed to me my magical heritage, Raphael, the priestess who taught me to speak the language of the gods, and her friend Vulcan, a blacksmith, have all decided to start new lives in the city. I also made the acquaintance of an adventurous Halfling named Moiety whom seemed to be on a journey of discover as well.

We met with Oisin’s business contact, a tiefling woman named Madame Pirrosh, who gave us a brief tour of the city and took us to the meteor shower festival. She was passing herself off as a fortune-teller with divine insight, but I later discovered that despite her convincing outward appearances she was a common con-artist. More on that later. Anyhow, she did a very good job at showing us a significant portion of the city, and I intended to make sure my friend got a good deal from her on finding a new job while working at becoming a knight AND a spell-caster by study (a very ambitious goal, needless to say). I was just able to resist the temptation of strawberry strudel when we got into the market place. The baker’s guild here is prolific in their craft!

Speaking of guilds, I quickly managed to find Merai’s Clock Maker and Tinkerer’s Guild chapter. They were showing off a marvel of a contraption that I’ve old heard discussed hypothetically before: a clockwork dog! I was astounded by the sheer ingenuity of the machine. It’s internal complexities speak to a level of skill that I can only dream of attaining. And perhaps that dream shall one day come true, as my letter of recommendation and a small price of five silver pieces got me into the guild as a low-level member! I hope to find work some time tomorrow, then I’ll get around to permanent boarding once that’s settled.

The recruiting agent and I talked for about an hour or so, but just as I was going to get into some serious mechanical conversation we were interrupted by a street brawl! He closed up his stall and I went to see what was happening. It looked like members of the various guilds and the priests of Intox were attacking each other. I found one member of our guild nearby and asked him what was going on. He had the dog I’d seen earlier with him and was setting it loose into the ruckus. I don’t know what he planned to do with it, but I don’t want to imagine the worst implications. He said he’d ‘heard’ the priests had destroyed the baker’s guild, but I was willing to bet there was more to this story than what this man had picked up off the streets. I tried to persuade him that this was not his fight and that there was no reason for our guild to get involved, but he was bull-headed about the whole situation and gave me the whole “you probably haven’t been in this city for long” shite. You really just can’t reason with some people. Luckily, for the better or worse, it seems the guards put a stop to it. I’m not sure what happened to the clockwork dog, but if that idiot just set it off and forgot to retrieve it he’s going to have the nine hells to pay for it by tomorrow from the guild masters.

I managed to find the others after the mess. Merric had talked to a priest who had blamed the guilds for starting the fight. We both ended up with the conclusion by the end of it that people tend to be idiotic in these matters. In the time I had been talking to the recruiter, Merric and Oisin had joined the Guild of Mages chapter in Merai. Eventually, M. Pirrosh took us back to her tent, briefly spoke with Oisin alone, and then offered to have one of our fortunes read. In that time Raphael coerced me into playing one of her little ‘games’. She has some rather odd habits, but they’re rather harmless. She presented me with the choice of three delicious looking pastries. She choose the third one and I took the second one. I was expecting it to be sour or partially unpalatable to my tastes, but instead I found it was pleasantly strawberry flavored and was probably one I had been meaning to buy myself previous! It seems she got the spicy one, given the blush and sudden sweating that came over her. When Merric decided to ask for his fortune to be read for the heck of it, I noticed she wasn’t so much speaking to the spirits or using divination magic as she was using a spell of trickery similar to prestidigitation. I decided to be clever and subtly relay the con to Merric by means of my own magic. He ended up giving me away. Honestly though, I deserved it for trying to out-con her. Merric has his ways of keeping you truthful. I hinted at her that I knew the tricks she had up her sleeve. She feigned innocence, which was to be expected. But in the end she would get the last laugh there. I asked her if she knew any good bars in the area. She knew, but I was stupid enough to believe that she wouldn’t try to get back at me for what I’d done in some way. Again, I deserved it. If you’re not part of one of the guilds or you don’t have any good connections here it seems, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. And if you’ve got to get by by duping a few folks here and there, then that’s what you’ve got to do.

On our way to find a place to stay for the night (and for some of us, alcohol), we ran into a bard who had one of the best singing voices I’ve ever heard. Except he really couldn’t seem to stop himself from speaking in song! He claimed he was ‘sir robin’s bard’, and he referred to Oisin as this character. I asked Oisin if he knew this person and he simply shrugged. Perhaps this man was not in his right mind? Perhaps not, as he made a rather dark joke about Vulcan’s parents for some reason which set him on edge. Whether he was or not, he was absolutely hilarious and seemed determined to follow Oisin around. Given that he seemed relatively harmless and the fact that he might be able to help him advance to knighthood in a way, Oisin decided to keep him around. As Raphael and Vulcan parted to Vulcan’s family’s house, the rest of us headed to the Golden Stallion tavern.

When we arrived at the tavern the inn-keep made his prejudices rather clear. He forbade allowing Mo a room and board given she was a member of the herbalist’s guild and charged me an extra silver. Apparently I was right in telling that idiot on the street that the guild’s do not represent everyone, and this tavern especially did not like them. Once again, I had this coming to me after I rudely mocked M. Pirrosh’s less-than-legitimate business practices when she’s probably doing what she can to survive here. I’ll make a note of it to apologize to her later. I hope Mo found somewhere safe for the night.

Well, I’m hopeful after my first day here. What an interesting city. I’ll miss my old man, but it was time to leave that sleepy little village and move on to more exciting places. I hope to get a job tomorrow so I can start earning and learning on how to make ingenious clockwork designs like that dog. I do hope the guild got it back. If not, I’ll volunteer to search for it for them. We can’t let a work of art like that become lost or fall into ungrateful hands. And while I’m here I hope to learn more on where my magical talents came from. Merric told me enough that I know I have gold dragon blood in my family line, but I’d like to gain more knowledge on the events that led to this and how this power became manifest in me. And maybe, just maybe, I can learn to use my magic to better my craft as well…

Season 5 Mid-season finale: The Indiscreet Fleet- Victory At a Cost
What have we done...

Jitteday, Aupson 27th, 4706

A wave of intense nausea spreads across the grove and many people all at once lose their lunches to put it lightly. While the afflicted members of the party succumb to bouts of vomiting, other members split off to look for the perpetrators behind this madness. Apostrophe and Aoth eventually find a group of Kuo Toa who seem to be up to something vaguely suspicious. In this time, Aoth reveals his capabilities to speak Undercommon and tries to coax them into revealing what they’re up to. The Kuo Toa don’t tell them much in response other than “”/characters/hillary-fishton" class=“wiki-content-link”>Fishton must win!" and admiring her brilliance before rushing off hurriedly. The befuddled duo, along with Apostrophe’s sick Halfling friend, end up following one of the stragglers off to the Brickleburger. Inside, they find the escaping fish-person and what can only be described by Apostrophe as a “plant-cthulu monster”, whatever a Cthulu is. Whatever it may be, it certainly does not like them and attacks!

Meanwhile, Rolen gets over himself long enough to realize that if he and the rest of the town are to get over this sudden, severe indigestion that may or may not have other horrible consequences tied to it, he’s going to need to find some antidote quickly. He finds that the General Store is closed however, meaning that in order to save everyone from the poison he must break his own code of conduct and break in. He successfully picks the lock, not without Shawn noticing first however. The shit-disturbing sun elf is always looking to instigate and begins calling Rolen out. Noire sets up a good cover for him so he doesn’t have to deal with the possible results of Shawn’s shenanigans, and lets him, Harald, and Iladre inside. After rummaging around the shop for some time, the group (including Noire) happen upon some medicinal herbs of which several members of the group know cure indigestion. They each take some themselves and begin distributing it to the afflicted villagers after. Once they finish this, an illusory beacon depicting Aoth and Apostrophe’s current situation appears near the Brickleburger, signalling the rest of the party to aid them. Iladre misinterprets the distress message as simply a neutral ‘get over here’ message.

Meanwhile, Apostrophe and Aoth attempt to hold their own against the plants as the rest of the party shows up. A rather sickly Elfy joins the party in the midst of the chaos. Shawn is first to blow through the doors of the Brickleburger and sees other figures in the back kitchen, so he decides to go investigate. He finds more plant monsters in the process! As the rest of the party arrive and take on the beasts, Iladre’s misinterpretation causes him to believe that the party just began senselessly killing these creatures of nature instead of that the creatures may have been the first aggressors. This further misinterpretation causes him to turn on his own party members and begin hitting them with spells and his staff! Everyone notices this happen and several members trying to subdue Iladre. Rolen tries to reason with him first, but the young wood-elf is very stubborn and does not wish to listen. Meanwhile, the battle with the plant monsters rages on in the next room as Shawn discovers the cow meat was infected with these creatures’ spores, and thus the solution to completely stopping these monsters may have to be to burn Brickleburger to the ground. As he’s doing this, two more monsters ambush him! In the dining room, Iladre’s havoc escalates into flaming sphere levels! Noire becomes increasingly frustrated and over-zealous, telling Rolen to stop the child at all costs. Rolen still believes there is a better way, even when seeing Elfy get thrown across the room by a Thunderwave spell. He disarms Iladre of his staff, preventing him from casting spells. Aoth then has a brilliant idea and manages to create a magical ‘flashbang’ of sorts by manipulating his Minor Illusion cantrip, disorienting Iladre and preventing him from doing any more harm. However, this isn’t good enough for the spiteful Noire, who incapacitates Iladre with a bolt of radiance while Rolen watches horrified. Noire then rushes into the kitchen to help with the battle saying something about how ‘children need to be taught their rightful place’. Before Rolen can even attempt to do anything to save his misunderstood friend, Shawn takes a previous ‘joke’ of his way too far and tries to ‘heal’ Iladre with the same method he used when Apostrophe fell out of bed in the Underdank. Rolen then finds his efforts to be in vain after this, horrifying both him and (surprisingly) Shawn. Iladre, a young wood-elf of 16 years who only wished to see nature protected, has died. Pushed to the verge of madness, Rolen spouts an ancient dwarven curse upon Shawn and his potential bloodline before throwing his cautious attitude to the wind and dashing into the fray to help his remaining party members. Shawn is mortified at what his ‘joke’ resulted in and begins to pray to the god Auspus for help, as he didn’t mean for it to go this far. Nothing seems to happen as a result, but it is unknown whether the god has actually done something about this situation or not. Others nearby take Iladre’s worldly belongings before the rest of the party finishes off the plants and leaves the burning building…

A crowd has gathered about as the party exits the burning Brickleburger. Apostrophe is stricken with grief to learn of Iladre’s death and attempts to coerce Schmorgas to intervene. Sadly, this does not occur, however by speaking to the god’s secretary Apostrophe learns he is in fact the next in line to become the ‘next’ Schmorgas, officially making him a demi-god. Rolen, despite a now complete loss of faith in the party’s ability to bring lawful order to the Guild Lands, still speaks with the store owner about the break-in and offers to pay for the damages he caused. The store owner has an atypical change of heart and forgives the damages so long as he gives back the remaining herbs, which Rolen does. In the midst of this, Pewick returns to inform the party that the Kuo Toa took ‘myguffin’, the orange crystal he had with him during his speech into the Underdank. After the party accepts to retrieve it for him, the tavern owner, Billiam, asks the party what the monsters they were fighting looked like. He has a sudden epiphany and leaves to his tavern, returning with a keg of alcohol and some strange moss. The moss, he explains, is Rus moss, an infectious parasite which turns things into moss-like monsters that it kills. He offers the party a free night at his tavern before they leave for stopping the spread of the moss…

What shall become of the party now? Has Iladre’s death created an even bigger divide than there was? And are they really cut-out for the horrors that a delve into the Underdank may entail?

To be continued in a new year…

Season 5, Week 9: The Indiscreet Fleet- Bear Knuckle Brawl
About 9 moles were killed in the making of this adventure log post...

Jitteday, Aupson 27th, 4706

The party returns to Pewicks Grove in time for the biannual hunting festival with their newly acquired pets. Many of them decide to partake in the festivities. There are many prizes to be won at the carnival. Harald notices a few horse related accessories he could potentially win by participating in an archery contest by shooting them out of a tree. The prizes hanging in the tree also intrigue Noire, Iladre, and Rolen, and they are all lined up in front of it to take a shot at the game (literally). Meanwhile, Apostrophe and Shawn come across a strange game called ‘whack-a-mole’ involving bludgeoning tiny, helpless rodents to death with hammers. By forces beyond their understanding, the two are instantly compelled to play the game. After having murdered about 9 moles between the two of them, each of them walk away with various prizes. At the same time, Barbara finds a game perfect for her and challenges an orc to a round of ‘Random Ax of Blindness’: a drinking game involving taking shots and trying to hit a target behind your opponent without hitting them first. The orc manages to drink Barbara under the table, so to speak, and wins; however, Barbara is nonetheless satisfied for getting cheap drinks for the price she paid. Back at the range, Harald manages to upstage all other participants by shooting an arrow that takes out several branches before scoring him a bridle for Epona. Suddenly, there is some shouting and bear-like noises coming from the far end of the festivities which attracts the net attention of the party…

The party hurries over to the noises and finds a fenced-in arena with a child wrestling a bear-cub inside of it. An old man with the gleam of both madness and enthusiasm in his eyes walks over to the party and introduces himself as Crazy Earl. This arena is made for bear-wrestling and he’s eager to get some of the party members involved. When he learns Iladre is a druid, Earl says that he’ll pay him if Iladre fights him as a bear. Iladre accepts. Apostrophe also chooses to take on the challenge himself. Before his round is to begin, Iladre notices Rolen off in the sidelines and has an idea. He persuades the high-elf to help him in a scheme that would earn them more money: having people bet on their match and then allowing Rolen, a known coward, to win. At this point, sheer boredom, friendship, and the newly gained wisdom from Fairrus win over the normally law-abiding elf, and he agrees to this. Shaw tries to act as their bet collector. However, he finds out something that quickly throws a wrench into their plan: there are no betting booths, and thus, no way to actually bet anything or suggest that one could partake in this! Despite this, after Apostrophe’s match, the two still go along with the plan to make Crazy Earl overconfident enough to do poorly in his match against Iladre. This does not manage to work at all however, as Earl later proves to be a champion at his own game and defeats Iladre. Earl is a humble victor though, and compliments Iladre on his unique approach to wrestling as a bear…

Eventually, the party returns to the Grove in time to stop at Brickleburger to have a quick meal just before Pewick calls everyone to the grove’s center to begin the hunt. He gives a rousing speech which everyone outside of the party is likely to remember for a long time. However, just before he signals the hunt to begin, he suddenly feels very ill. And so too do the party members who ate at Brickleburger! Then, from out of nowhere, a fish-person like cry is heard…

What foul, or rather, fishy fate awaits the party? Are the Kuo Toa’s motives significantly more complicated and anti-surface-dweller than initially thought? And what sinister motives does the Brickleburger corporation have? And could it be that the Brickle-burgers are PEOPLE?

To be continued…

Season 5, Week 8: The Indiscreet Fleet- Astounding Animals and how to Acquire them
Old Man Jenkins had a farm...

Jitteday, Aupson 27th, 4706

With their trap finally set, the party hunkers down for the night and waits for the monster to appear. Rolen makes camouflage and hides in a tree while Aoth creates an illusory rock in which the rest of the party hides. Shawn and Apostrophe try appear helpless while Harald prepares to hoist them to safety in another tree. Some time passes until the party perceives noises coming from nearby. They wait for the thing to get in close enough range to see before Harald jumps down from his perch…and snaps the rope, failing to lift either of the ‘bait’ high enough in to the air, along with twisting his ankle for good measure. Luckily, as it turns out, their ‘monster’ turns out to be the Guild‘s stable boy, Buttercup, who is walking through here on his way to the Jenkins Farm for an interview. While he explains this, Rolen is grappled by the very tree he was hiding in and begins shouting. It turns out he was hiding in one of the grove’s resident Treants, Glitterbark, who is very confused as to what’s going on. After some discussion, the party finds out that this treant was the one that who was responsible for the absence of animals in the grove. She was trying to protect them from getting killed by the hunters and sent them to Felkton where a gathering of druids would be to ‘shave’ them. Realizing what has really been going on, Iladre, Rolen, and Aoth convince the Treant to cease doing this so that the hunters may eat by appealing to her sense of the circle of life; Iladre even wins the Treant’s friendship and she sends with them an awakened tree to guard them as they leave. The party then resolves to help Buttercup reach his interview safely and on time after they retrieve their gold from Pewick. On their way there, some shenanigans involving the Silence spell ensue and Rolen has to end up apologizing for the party’s behavior towards Pewick to ensure they are paid. Once the gold has been evenly divided among party members, they accompany Buttercup to Jenkins Farm…

Upon reaching the farm, Shawn and Apostrophe attempt to pose as Buttercup’s bodyguards to listen in on the interview. This does not foolOld Man Jenkins. Nonetheless, the two still resolve to listen in on the interview incognito while the others find a safe place to rest. The interview is fairly straight forward and nothing-special, at least if you consider the small oddities and partial dramatic ironies of a Minotaur employing a stable boy who was once used as a mount by a sprite (but in this world, that would be racist). However, the two snoops are not unnoticed for long. Old Man Jenkins catches Shawn peeping in on their conversation and summons his guards to escort him off the property. This occurs, but Shawn still manages to bother the guards for some time afterwards before finally giving up on getting back onto the property and resolves to try again tomorrow…

The party awakes to a new day and many resolve to buy new pets with the little money they have which they are supposed to be eventually putting towards their guild memberships. Rolen, however, is having a quasi-existential crisis and begins wondering if the party is truly helping people or is just managing to create even worse blunders given their methods. Having no knowledge of the deities of the Guild Lands himself, he prays to whomever will listen for guidance. And lucky for him, someone is listening. A voice tells Rolen that he’s got to relax and remember to love what he does because “Life moves fast; if you don’t stop to look around sometimes, you’ll miss it”. This brings back memories for Rolen of the reason he became a private investigator in the first place and why he resolved to join the guild: helping people has always been what drives him. He thanks the god and receives a mental animal-messenger contact in return: Fairrus@wherever. With this in mind, he walks back onto the Jenkins farm to volunteer with whatever needs doing. Along the way, he runs into Shawn, whom is in the middle of getting forcibly escorted off the property again. Shawn finally decides to give up on this and resolves to return to Pewicks Grove to take part in the annual hunt now that the problem of the Treant is dealt with, with or without the party…

Aoth also decides to volunteer his time on the farm so he might gain a bit more information on the magical creatures kept there. Meanwhile, Harald, Iladre, Apostrophe, and Noire all resolve to acquire new pets. Harald goes asking about a draft horse and hopes to bargain for it by exchanging voluntary work to make up for some of the gold he doesn’t have. This turns out to be more problematic than it should be and he instead is forced to have to convince the others to try to go in on him with this deal. He manages to succeed and, eventually, buys a draft horse he promptly names Epona for whatever reason. Noire purchases himself a lizard named Lizabeth, Iladre acquires an eagle named Hawkanna, and Apostrophe adopts a cat and, by relation, it’s canary ‘pet’…

Five hours later, the group meets up together and Noire performs his Speak with Animals ritual to get introductions while Rolen hides Pinky away from several of his natural predators. Most of these introductions are mundane, but it turns out that whenever Hawkanna thinks of rats she becomes a light-source! Noire also finds out the reason why the other horses seemed to not like it when Epona left them as Harald had explained to him. Epona was a breeding horse before she became Harald’s mount, or as she explains to Noire, a “sex machine”. Noire keeps this information to himself…

What adventures await the Guild’s newest animal companions? Did Harald end up buying more than he bargained (or did not bargain, as it turns out) for? And does Hawkanna’s luminescence give Pinky advantage on dexterity saves to not become her dinner?

To be continued…


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