Regnum The 5th Age

Of Taverns and Traitors

The sun was high in the sky and beared down on Dante as he stepped off the rowboat. His boots sank into the warm sand and the ocean waves tasted his heels. He already had beads of sweat collecting from the heat, but they were kept at bay by the gentle breeze that kept since the night before. On the beach in front of him were tents, lean-tos, and other makeshift homes that were cobbled together for nearly a mile in either direction before the beach bent out of sight. Surely there were more that he couldn't see.

It had been a few weeks since he interrogated the searching party from The Azure Maw. They told him a number of things about what he needed to know about joining pirates, practically begging to tell him everything as he forced them to bid with secrets to be the only survivor. Of course, in the end he let neither of them live to sell out his plans. The Village of Cosa Fac had only a few hundred inhabitants, but many more visitors.  With only enough dock space for a few ships of any decent calibre, they couldn't offer the space for more than some minor illegal smuggling. It was ran by a pair of merchants that had ties to both the Vilgard Federation to the north and Yin-Drakkos to the west. So they were relatively safe from minor inquiries, which fit the size of their operation.  So their beach was the perfect place for rest by the pirates between lucrative ventures. The money that constantly flowed in kept a hefty profit to the merchants and the local population.

Dante wandered through the streets to get a lay of the land. Most businesses weren't open this early, catering to the unusually late-night habits of its clientele. Most buildings stood only two stories tall with beige stucco walls and faded red shingles. The church's bell tower stretched another two stories above that, and he wanted to stop by and see who the temple was dedicated to. He finally stopped at one of the taverns, a hole in the wall off the main thoroughfare. As he walked in he noticed the barkeep as the lone consciousness in the room; a couple of tables offering rest to sorely exhausted partiers. He hung his hat on the hooks beside the door as he entered, and sat down on one of the stools at the bar.

"Prince Cavits brew and some water." Dante said as he placed several gold coins on the counter in a meticulous manner. The bartender bent under the bar grabbing something as Dante picked up and took a bite out of one of the fruits available. 

"Good choice, we just got a shipment in just a few days ago." The bartender spoke as he pulled a square rum bottle and two glasses from below, "I haven't seen you around, ya new?"

"Yaea." Dante answered as he took a flavourful drink from the glass, "I was told you know who's who around here." He pushed a stack of coins towards the bartender.

-

Dante awoke to a gentle nudging and a quiet voice, "Sir, do you plan to sleep through the party?" He tipped his hat back off of his face and turned to face the young man standing next to the pew Dante slept in. He had nodded off in the church a few hours prior as it seemed the safest place to sleep, and since he could feel the full weight of coin in his purse it seemed like an adequate decision.

"Not particularly, thanks for the rest," he responded as he looked the man up and down.

"All are given sanctuary from the storm in this house." The Elven man accepts the glances of suspicion and returns a nod towards Dante's belt, "I don't mean to pry but I noticed your symbol."

Satisfied, Dante palms the keepsake, "Its a gift from a friend. He knows me all too well and figured it would help me, even if I didn't worship myself… Dante Ikarros, nice to meet you."

"Brother Feliks, and to you as well." The man bows slightly as Dante nods.

"Well, I must be going, but I did want to know before I leave. Who is the temple dedicated to?" He asks as he stands to his knees, looking down on the lithe elf. He straightens his rumpled clothes, and picked up the half-drunk bottle sitting beside him. 

"It is dedicated to the sea and the storm. For any soul who can find a bit of peace. Though if I were to be explicit, my late predecessor built it as a place for the [Dualist whoever watches over seas/storms, I didn't see much about the dualist pantheon]."

"I see, well I must be going. I hope to see you again Feliks." Dante says as he turns to leave the church. Feliks nods, and turns to walk toward the altar himself. 

As Dante exits onto the streets, the sound and lights of an active nightlife sweels his heart, he is reminded of the shore leave he took with his past sailors and their drunken escapades. Though this only instensified his devotion to the plan. The barkeep had told him of another tavern, one that entertained the best crews from the beach, and it was doubtless that he needed to go there.

He stepped up and through the door of The Last Wave tavern. It's the best in town, known for having plenty of booze, women, and music to keep the good times flowing before the money stops flowing. The tables were filled with men carousing with the maidens and their fellows. Some played cards, other threw bones, and yet others still played some odd game where cards were stuck to their foreheads.

"Ma'am-" Dante intercepts one of the bar maidens while looking around the room, "Where are the high stakes tables?"

"Up there." She says as she nods to the open view of the second floor.

Dante scans the tables as he methodically ascends the stairs, step by step ensuring the mark he wanted was here. Surely enough, the third table sat a chubby dragonborn by the named Kraxus. He was known for his supreme 'might makes right' mentality, but mostly because he thought himself mightiest of all. Dante figured he could grift the captain at cards, and while he doubled his money he'd find a job. Not to mention Kraxus' crew was perfect for his plans. Finally he got up to the table where Kraxus sat, and flanked on either side were his playing partners. To his left with her back against the banister, a dark elf woman with a large-brimmed hat and to his right a middle-aged dwarf with more drink in his beard than in his cup. The elf held a gaze on him since he had entered the tavern, and when he locked eyes he could feel suspicion in her eyes. 

He slid into the chair like it was his favorite seat in the house. He placed his bottle on the bar along with a few smaller glasses that he took off the bar maiden from before. He poured everyone a drink as he placed his open purse on the table next to him. He said with a shining smile, "Hello, I'm going to be taking your money tonight."

"HA! Confident, and free booze to boot. The young ones are always so nice aren't they? How long before he runs out of money to us geezers?" The dwarf responded first before downing his drink.

"Faster than you just finished that drink Gardain," Kraxus says to the dwarf before turning to Dante, "Do your parents know where you are right now?" He roars in laughgter ribbing the dwarf and the elf.

On the other hand, the women stayed dead silent and continued the hand at play.

"Oh you'll be surprised, I have a tendency to get what I want. Now let's see some cards." Dante picks up on the trash talk as he gives Kraxus a whiley smile. 

-

It really didn't take that long to rid the dwarf of his money, he was already deep in the booze that he couldn't help but falling for every bluff of his.  The drow on the other hand he could barely beat. Hell he was pretty sure she intentionally fell for a couple of them. Though right on cue, Kraxus was beginning to lose his temper. Only a couple hands ago he had given his boys on the first floor the signal that he was going to need a little reimbursement.

"Now now Kraxus, you're not holding out on me, are you?" Dante speaks up as he trades a card from the deck.

"No, I assure you I'm not." Kraxus grimaced which turned to a smile at his approaching men.

Dante sat there with a terrible hand. He knew Kraxus was bluffing and was trying to pull another raise out of him. Not to mention, he also wanted to keep Dante's attention while his boys approached from behind. He noticed the drow slide her leg up where her hidden knife would be easily accessible. He gave her a knowing smile and a nod as he grabbed his bottle and brought it to his lips for another drink.

The first man approaching from behind on the right. Dante kicked his chair out, knocking the man off-balance and braining him with a bottle by the time he regained his footing. He broke through the railing and fell into the bar below. Dante tossed the bottle at the third man's feet and roared as he threw a jab as a feint at the second man. A right hook followed it up, connecting in the ribs with a thunderous crack. It sent him flying into the booths to the side. He threw a knee at the third man who had just tripped over the bottle and started falling. Dante grabbed him by the shirt as he recoiled and spun him around to where he was now hanging over the broken railing.

With a few breaths of air he turns to the table, "Oh dear, it seems I've shown my hand." The words, dripping with sarcasm, struck Kraxus hard. His smile was now gone and fangs bore in its place with an accompanying growl. The elf had also returned to her relaxed posture. The rest of the bar was silent, waiting with bait ed breathe at what followed.

"What do you want?" Kraxus grunted.

"Why I'd like to be part of the crew. I figured I'd make sure there was enough job openings."

Kraxus' anger subsided, but his interest swelled as he leaned back in his chair, "Now that's an application. Those were some of my best men; I'll give you their jobs."

"No thanks, I don't want whatever these little fish did. Make me first mate."

An almost imperceptible peep is heard from the man Dante is holding from the fall to which Dante's devilish smile returns, "Oh you're the first mate."

Kraxus holds his cards at the table watching Dante expectedly, "Deal, but then you and me have to have a go."

Dante stares at Kraxus and lets go of the man. His fall is broken by his crewmate from before. Kraxus put his cards down and says, "I fold. Consider the pot your signing bonus."

Dante thanks him with a nod as he collects his winnings from the table and says, "I intended to." He picks up his bottle from the floor as he walks out of the tavern, but he tosses a smaller coin pouch toward the bartender before leaving.

As he walks through the door, Kraxus shouts after him, "I'll see you in the morning. If I don't see you on my ship, I'll skin you alive!"

-

Dante let out a long sigh as he sat at the edge of the cliff. Behind him, the light crackle of a campfire keeps him warm in the night breeze. The stars were still shining, and there was plenty of time before the sun would come up. He had dropped his weapon belt off to the side of the fire and was polishing off the bottle before he would nod off to sleep like the so many other pirates on the island. His attention catches onto the slight sound of tensiverope strains a few dozen feet behind him in the darkness.

"Why'd you do it?" A feminine voice calls to him on the wind.

It surprises Dante, but as he turns around he can't see anything past the flames, and even if he could the moonlight was too dim to reveal anything new. Anyways, he was too drunk to be able to pinpoint the source. He holds out the bottle beside him as he responds, "Why don't you take a seat and we'll talk about it?" The glass in his hand shatters as an arrow flies past, eventually falling into the ocean. And the string strains yet again.

"Fuck… it was worth a shot at least." He falls onto his back and stares up to the sky, "They're pirates, a show of force is all they respect. Why would I not pick a fight with them?" His thoughts constantly tripping over each other since the first one that addressed him, "To think I'd get caught before I even started my first day."

"That won't trick anyone. Most others might be brutes and goons, bot not all of them. I spotted your training from a mile away. Kids don't come in with such straight posture, especially ones that have sailed for as long as you claim." The voice edges closer, and the string pulled back further.

"So… What? If you didn't like me you could've just shot me and watch me fall down into the crags below. The purse would've given you quite the payday at that. Not a word all night, and yet now you hunt me down and speak to me? Are you afraid someone might hear that beautiful voice and lose all fear of you?" Dante shifts back up, pulling his knee to his chest as he turns to see the source step into the light of his fire. The string snaps just as Dante snaps his head back, but he makes no other movement."

She drew another arrow, "It'd be best to give me a bit of respect. I'm not such a petty thief as to steal the pittance in your wallet. I want to know why you do it. So I ask again," she pauses as she steps closer correcting her posture into a proper firing stance, "Why are you, a soldier, trying to infiltrate a group of people you have such utter disgust for?"

Dante had sobered up quite well at this point. He had been found out, but she had played strong bluffs before. Even intentionally falling for ones she saw coming. She was smart, hedging bets and playing some sort of game that you weren't even aware you were a part of until she made it clear. No simple lie like, "I got sick of working for someone else," or "I want to get rich and be powerful" would work. It would take something far more thought out and built up than what he was capable of right now. He figured his best gambit was to admit to the truth; he could convince her to at least stay out of his way. So with a slight wheeze he stood up and turned to face her directly.

"Then watch the fire and see its flames burn away the lies." His holy symbol twinkling in the moonlight as he walks forward, stopping mere inches from the fire where it keeps licking at his legs in the wind. His opponent freezes, her breathing turns shallow and her muscles freeze. "My name is still Dante, Dante Ikarros. I do not identify with my family and have forsaken it anyways. Just over a month ago my friend and mentor was killed by Azazeal Stormspear. I will infiltrate you pirates, find and build a crew that will wage war against The Colmillo, The Azure Maw, and the man himself. I will not stop until I have taken his second eye as I have taken the first." After a few moments, the arrow is loosed and embeds itself into Dante's chest.

However Dante knew the arrow wasn't shot intentionally, he grabbed the shaft and pulled it out. It had barely embedded itself into his chest, and his other scar hurt far more. Her last miss was due to a quiet stance and a guarded draw. Dante knew her next one would pin him before he had a chance to dodge, and if he allowed it to hit him somewhere where he had enough padding it would add to the sincerity.

She finally lowers the bow and steps closer, "You've got a nice aura. I haven't been shaken like that for a long time. I think we can make a nice partnership. Why don't you let me help with this plan of yours…."

 

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Before the Guardians: Part IV

Abraham leaned back against the stone wall.  His lungs burned and his legs ached.  It had been a while since he'd had to run that type of distance, and he wasn't even sure what had happened, or how everything had devolved so quickly.  That feeling was welling up inside him again, the feeling that he was being hunted.  He hated it.  He was the hunter, not some mouse to be toyed with.

It had seemed simple.  Travel the world, looking for relatively reputable warriors and scholars to join him on a venture to the Barrens.  There had to be something, some way to get through that dust storm, they just had to find it. 

Normally when Abraham went on these jaunts, he was scoffed at and ridiculed.  This time, something different had happened.  For once, someone had seemed interested in what he had to say.  Someone wanted to join him, to explore that blasted desert.  They had just shaken hands over the promise of adventure when the knife had appeared in the chest of Abraham's new companion.  A hand was attached to it, and a body, but Abraham hadn't focused on that.  All he could think of was escape. 

A fight soon broke out, turning into a brawl, escalating into a riot that had left that entire quarter of the city burning.  Someone was trying to send Abraham a message, and for what it was worth, it was working.  Every move he made seemed to be tracked, every bit of progress he made was pushed back. 

It was time to do the one thing they wouldn't expect him to do.  It was time to see Keth.

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The Terror born of Tempests
Dante's grand appearance

BANG BANG

The knocking breaks Dante from his slumber in his hammock that sways with the rocking of the ship. He rubs his eyes before another set of knocks comes from the door accompanied by shouting, "Second Mate Dante! Cmon get up! The captain needs you NOW!"

"Alright, alright. I'm up." Dante responds with a groan as he rolls out onto his feet. He grabs his coat and hat off the hook before opening the door, the man already gone. Dante went to sleep just a few hours ago, he sailed the ship the entire night before to get some Greenwater Diplomat, their current task, to their destination up in Sussaria. It had only just started raining before he went to sleep. So he dresses himself up while he makes his way across the lower deck noticing that most of the men were being roused alongside him. The rain bears down hard on the deck above, drowning out most of his thoughts, he steadies himself at the door leading outside for the downpour awaiting him. Finally after opening the door, he immediately makes his way up to the quarter deck where he sees Sir Captain Nico staring out across the taffrail with his spyglass.

"Sir! You called for me?" Dante shouts through the rain while he nods to Helmsman Marco and First Mate Jacobin.

"I need you in the topsail, asap. We need to pick up our speed and head starboard." Nico responds without turning.

As Dante begins climbing the shrouds to get a better view of whatever Nico is looking at he questions, "You sure about that? Thats heading right into the storm."

Nico walks back to the ship's wheel as he tosses Dante the spyglass, "It's the Azure Maw, but not any of their regular ships. It's The Colmillo, and it's been chasing us all morning."

"Fuck." Dante pants as he spots the flag atop their pursuer.

--

"Peter! Grab the sky sail and anchor it to the mezzen post!" Dante shouts with his legs wrapped around the yard tugging to keep the topsails open in competition with the gales. His body aching from labor as his body is soaked by near equal amounts of rain and sweat. But not nearly as strained as the ship. The mast groans in pain, bending further than any sailor imagined as its sails are filled with the storm's winds.  They've made terrible speed in the hours since Dante awoke, The Colmillo flies over the waves like some sort of Leviathan. Only a few more minutes before they'll be alongside and commencee boarding.

"It surpasses The Aniketos by nearly two decks, has an extra mast with a full complement of sails, and probably 50 more sailors. Hell, he probably even has a few mages aboard. We'll have to come up-" Dante's thoughts are interrupted as a sailor climbing the mast slaps his leg for attention.

Vega shouts through the thunder and wind, "Cap says to board their topsails while he takes some men and boards them as a distraction. If you can tie the masts together then we could threaten them to disengage." He climbs up beside Dante and grabs hold of the rope, "Go on, I'll tie this down."

"Use Ferman's Hitch. It'll snap loose in these winds if you use the Sol knot." Dante shouts back as he maneuvers to grab a spare bundle of rope before he heads down the yard arm toward the pirates.

The ship sways more than a drunken sailor on shore leave, and Dante's grip is barely enough to hold on. Even worse suddenly the yard snaps underneath Dante and he is sent flying as the two ships collide. Thankfully he had already tied one end of the rope to his own mast, so when he was thrown while making a second bracing knot he didn't have to worry about the fall. Nearly two dozen feat above the yard he floats as the ships fall into the trough of the waves. The trajectory oddly throwing him directly over The Colmillo's crows nest. With ample time he draws his axe and swings as he falls into the bucket.

"You don't mind if I stay up here with you for a bit friend?" he says to the fresh corpse before he's jerked back by the rope he carries. He runs around the top mast a few times before tying it off. Afforded a moments rest by his initial accomplishment of the task he looks over the railing to the battle waging on deck.

Nico, the first mate, and almost 2 dozen more sailors have pushed over the gangplanks onto the enemy deck. His own ship's deck is nearly empty of sailors save one or two handling the sails. He turns to the other side of the nest and spies their top deck. There he is, Azazeal Stormspear, standing nearly head and shoulders above the rest of teh crew around him. He holds a long glaive with a miniature flag of the Azure Maw attached below the blade. He looks back up into the topsails around him; several other members of the pirates have just started to take notice that Dante does not look like the usual Crow.

He dips back down, pulling a handaxe from the body's belt and throws it with heft at the closest pirate. With a shout he turns and charges over the railing at the next man down the yard. But Dante knows whats coming, he jumps just before the ships collide again snapping the yard and sending his opponent flying.  He looks back down towards the deck and sees that several of his allies have fallen to the enemy, and Nico has made barely any progress towards Azazeal. However other sailors have jumped across teh topsails and are trying off their own ropes. So he decides to make a high risk play, grabbing one of the ropes and cutting it loose, he leaps off the yard arm and wraps the rope around his arm. With a quick jerk, both his arm is dislocated and his trajectory averts to one just over their quarterdeck. Just over Azazeal himself. Through the winds and the storm at the edge of Dante's attention he thinks he hears a shout from Nico, but nothing can dissuade him from this course. He brings his axe to bear ready to brain the Pirate Captain with a single blow, but lightning crashes just behind him grabbing Azazeal's attention. Lost in the momentum, Dante lets out a roar that temporarily stuns the men surrounding Azazeal, but he is too steadfast to be shaken. Stormspear reacts quickly, he brings his glaive to bear and braces it on the rails behind him, ready for Dante to impale himself upon it. Though the storm turns to his own advantage, a final gust shifts Dante's path is adjusted just enough to cause the glaive to pierce his right lung instead of his heart. But his strike is similarly off target. The pick end of the axe burries itself up into Azazeals hard palate up into his eye socket. Just moments later Dante's momentum rips the axe free along with a heaping chunk of the pirate's face.

Dante's swing continues until the rope snaps at its apex, throwing him through the air until he slams into The Aniketos' deck and sliding hard into the pinrail on the opposing side. He reels as the scenery slowly bleeds to a warm room lit by candles. His mother looks down over him and says softly, "A blessing from the sea itself." as she brushes his face. The scenery snaps back with a flash of pain as a sailor slides into him, jamming a soaked cloth into the wound. The warmth from teh cloth sends a shock of energy through his chest as the healing juices create scaffolding for his flesh to close the wound.

"Dante?! Dante!" Vega shouts as his friend barely spurs to life, "Thank the gods, Nico's down. They'll start boarding any moment."

The creaking and moaning of their ship has only worsened since they begun. They're joined in chorus by the enemy ship as a loud snap is heard as the topsails smash into each other, splinters sent showering on them. A moment later a yard arm comes careening down and cleaves through the enemy's top deck sending several men flying and who knows how many more shouting in pain.

Dante finally stumbles to his feet at commands his first orders as the ship's captain, "Go below deck, get all the grog, drink, and gauze you can find. We're going to give ourselves a little warmth from the rain." he then turns to the men scattered in the sails, "Everyone on deck!" After that he notices the pirates are beginning to organize and send men to run across the gangplank and board and he notices he can't see any of his allies left on their ship. He rushes, drawing and readying his longsword and boarding axe, to meet his new guests. Their own momentum betrays them, the ocean has only gotten worse and not even half of them are able to cross. The rest are left too imbalanced to adequately defend against Dante's attacks. After slaying several of the boarders, the gangplank erupts in flames and his allies have regrouped to fight off the other boarders. Behind him stands Vega and a few other sailors lighting and throwing bottles at the enemy ship.

"No! Target the sails. The wood won't burn in this weather, but the flax will!" Dante intercepts one of the bottles and smashes it against his own main sail.

--

The ship has settled on the beach, the breeze can be heard squeezing itself through the cracked glass in the captain's quarters. Dante stands alone in the darkness leaning over Nico's desk with the holy symbol of Verethragna (A golden pike atop a silver shield with a sword crossed on the other side) clutched in his hand barely peaking out between his thumb and forefinger. His right hand holds onto his axe just below the head. It's been several days since The Aniketos marooned itself ashore, their maps showed that it was a few days travel from Coimbra, and several days less one since he sent the crew out with the lady Diplomat Ilphelstia. He commanded that they head to the city and finish their delivery of the diplomat to Sussuria. Along with them, a letter Dante wrote detailing the events of the battle, and a vengeful decision to resign his post. He promised to finish Azazeal, and give Nico's spirit rest. He stands up straight and winces in pain. Pulling up his shirt, the gauze that covers his wound swells with blood as his muscles twitch. He turns his head to listen to voices, as if floating on wind, drift through the window. 

"Shit it looks fucking dead." says the first man.

"Well that doesn't fuckin matter does it? We still gotta look for survivors. Cmon you guys! Take a look." commands a second man as several strides begin running toward the ship.

"No way anyone is still there, its been almost two weeks."

"Did I stutter? Even if they ain't here, we might find where they went."

Some of the strides can be heard climbing or entering the ship through holes in the hull. Dante ties the symbold to his belt, grabs his axe, and draws his sword. As he heads out through the broken doorway he shouts at the top of his lungs to welcome his guests:

I say this now as I've said before.

So long as the Ocean waves, and the Fire roars.

I will strengthen now, and forfeit no more.

The torrent surges onward, dread my war!

 

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Abraham's Compendium, Part III

Given the current actions of the last few minutes, I shall divert from my regular scientific notations to allow a more creative form of expression:

What in the name of the Gods is Keth thinking?!  Has he lost his mind?!  Or sense?!  I swear, that orc can be the most thickheaded, obnoxious, stubborn, bullheaded piece of fanged flesh to ever crawl out of that armpit of a desert.

The one thing that Mama Kashinski made us both promise to do was a) Never blow up anything bigger than a city block, and b) never join the clergy.  It's dangerous, especially when you get gods and deities throwing around fate and destiny and things like that.  People tend to look at those things with a really stubborn belief that they're fixed, which can get really annoying really fast.  Not to mention, we just woke up a shrine to Bahamut within the (apparent) perimeter of a crazy deific monster from hell.  GODS ABOVE!  Is this what the Guardians were really after?  Did they think "hmm, there's something fishy in that hole in the ground, and we should send someone to investigate it.  Not someone important.  Pick a ragtag group of misfits that feels like they have something to prove to themselves and others.  Even better if they have emotional/mental problems from their past (bonus points if they're oprhans!) that they're trying to overcome.  It'll be like pouring sugar water onto an ant's nest."

Whatever their true reasoning is behind pointing us towards this pit, at least we've found some nice things.  And I'll be damned if I'll let anyone or anything take my brother away from me.  Although, given what we've learned, I'm curious as to what our reward will be.  If it's anything of great value, then my price may have just doubled.

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Mindertas' Case Study

Confirming Arcane Transference Via Hemetic Influence

A Case Study to test Lemmy Hornsilver's theory of Sorcerous Conception by Mindertas Ilphelstia.

Introduction

While out in the field, I've been given the chance to test Dr. Hornsilver's theory on a Lizardfolk who not only consented to the experiment, but is highly motivated for it to be performed on him. In the following paper I will detail Thorsk, along with his physiology, psychology, and progress throughout the experiment. Though this will be occurring in the field so I will be unable to control for certain variables due to risk of safety for the subject, however I will try to be as descriptive as I can to ensure proper analysis of the data.

Methodology

The subject: Thorsk, Lizardfolk from a tribe located in the Cloven Citadel of the Ashen plain, ancestry currently unknown, age 19, Black-green scales with a very healthy frilling and few scars. He stands 6'4" with an addtional 8" when his lead Dorsal frill is fully extended. Approximately 300 lbs with about 18% body fat according to Beaurmann's method. Approximately average flexibility and speed. Introductions were made when my group and I, hired by the guardians for a separate investigation, murdered most of his raiding party on their return. Thorsk showed great bravery in charging us after all of his companions had been felled before him. He was calmed with a charming smoke from a magical pipe. In the interest of gaining him as a source of further context for our mission. He expressed interest in learning magic like I was capable of, but showed little promise in the way of education. So when I expressed Hornsilver's hypothetical loophole for arcane ability, he showed interest. In exchange for performing this on him he would help us on our mission. He shows intellect by his willingess to lie and trade to accomplish his goals, but holds very little (if any) formal education. He's also very boastful and headstrong, suggesting supreme confidence in his skills and methods. 

The impetus: Calryx, a captured white dragon 28'1" from snout to tail, wingspan of 40'7", and weight of approximately  1.2 tons. Confident, and provocative, upon diplomatic attempt he showed no intention of integrating into Drakkos' draconic community. Upon death, his blood rates at 3.6mPa suggesting nutritional deficiencies. This is likely due to its enslavement by local Kobolds. 

The process began by getting the body associated with the spirit via opposition. Thorsk fought against Calryx (along with 6 others) without sustaining any mortal wounds, lasting approximately 1 minute with about 20 second intermission with Calryx directly. Following Calryx's death the body was quickly prepared for tthe experiment and scavenging. The chest was carved open with the ribs broken open along their apex to allow easy access to the heart and other organs. The Heart was extracted using a small ivory carving blade of Thorsk's posession. The veins and arteries were stretched and drained into the body cavity where I painted the arcane runes upon his chest and back, envy and union; upon his skull, Frost and authority. He recited the verses of summoning to the elemental planes via the weave during his consumption of the heart. The ritual lasted 9 minutes and 17 seconds from the initial carving of the chest to Thorsk's loss of consciousness.

Results

Following the ritual, Thorsk fell unconscious. His body temperature dropped nearly 25 degrees while his scales secreted a slimey substance that appeared to contain a proto-silk within mucus. Exposed to the cold air in Calryx's recent lair, it froze within minutes into a crystalline shell. It was very brittle, a single book not even 80 pages nearly shattered his left leg when it fell from a stack of books nearby. Following 10 hours and 40 minutes, Thorsk's chrysalis opened up to reveal white, ashen scales and a modified anatomy. His frills were replaced by Calcinated horns (numbering 23 in total along 3 parallel, but staggered lines along his back with an additional 8 on the tail). His skeletal structure changed very little, but the muscle mass had turned lithe. The chest, arms, and legs, shrunk in muscle mass, but the tail grew by nearly 33% (total change in body weight: -54kg). A follow-up psychological profile showed little inherent change, but a notable increase in authoritativeness, aggression, and expressiveness. He also shows near full spellcasting potential. 

[2-3 parchments worth of paper detailing the specific measurements of physical aspects of Thorsk and Calryx.]

Discussion

The body appears to have undergone a significant change from brute force to finesse. The muscle groups of most significant definition appear to be reflex (legs, arms, and back) and articulation (both in the change of facial features and the hand) groups. I'm unsure why they adapted this way, but the increased articulation does allow him to form proper somatics during spellcasting. The body temperature has indeed decreased with a slower heart rate appears to be adaptations inherent to the white dragon. Beyond simple arcane inheritency, the body seems to have also gained some anatomical properties. Given a proper study of a non-arcane to prove a proper null-hypothesis, I would guess that arcane properties influence anatomical development more than Chuar's et. al 13767 estimation. His spellcasting, while weak, does reflect that of recently awoken sorcorers. It is questionable, at this point, as to whether he will be able to further develop these spells without additional rituals to obtain arcane energy from an external source. It is entirely possible that due to my current inability to access Hornsilver's manuals that I performed an aspect of the experiment differently and cause differences in results. I'd suggest a full divinative analysis of the experiment by additional mages of the academy on possibly incorrectly measured variables and unaccounted bias.

Conclusion

The ritual was a success and confirms that one is able to inherit the arcane properties of another. While my estimations of arcane power show an effective retention rate of only 20%, if external arcane energy is required to advance the potential retention rate (accounting for the dragon's youth and nutritional deficiencies) could be as low as 1.4%. Follow-up experiments and meta-analysis could discover hidden factors of the retention rating amongst subjects.

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Keth's first journal entry
Of faith and coin

Considering recent events and challenges I’ve been forced to face, I believe that it is important that I begin chronicling my thoughts and adventures so that if we as a group are to fall then those who follow in our steps may gain some insight to the challenges ahead. My birth name is Ne’zall Ufthal, though the name I’ve been directed to go by is Keth. I was born to Gorkil Ufthal [M] and Snaga Nur [F], both were wanderers of the desert surrounding Berkay, and blades for hire. At some point I was left behind by them in the care of my uncle, my father's brother, one Kirv Ufthal. I have a single brother named Abraham Memphis, who in his own right is a wanderer and master craftsman. My companions in my travels consists of a foppish mage named Mindertas, a young Humble monk who introduced himself as Tsume, and a bizarre peculiar merchant/street mage who insists that we call him Stan.

I will at some point go into more details about my companions and my impressions of each of them, but I have undergone a recent event that I find I should record while it's still fresh in my mind.

As we continued exploring the ruins that we currently call “the cloven citadel”, my brother and I found a strange room dedicated to Bahamut. It was a bare white marble room with thin veins of platinum that ran through the stone work. In the center of the room there stood a large platinum statue of a dragonborn which held out a large dish. After a few experiments with some coins, we determined that the dish was a collection plate where followers of the Lord of the North would make offerings, the offering would then melt or age away and the energy taken from the object would clean the room. My brother believed that you could age a sand crystal and turn any crystal into a white crystal and attempted to very quickly put a crystal in and pull it back out. This left him with two badly burnt fingers, and apparently some creature mentally chastising him. When he revealed the later to me we chose to leave the room alone and I decided to offer up a prayer of respect to the platinum dragon so that whatever entity apparently guarded the statue would hopefully see that we meant no real ill will, my brother at the time had already left the room as he has little patience for anything concerning gods

Considering the circumstances I decided to pour forth my heart and thank whatever strange forces that guided us and watched over us thanks for my wonderful life and to have a wonderful day. I was surprised as when I opened my eyes and found that in the room with me now was an platinum grey orc who claimed to be bahamut and truly he must’ve been for as I was only in his presence I could sense the divinity which threatened to reduce my mortal frame to ashes.

I conversed with the god face to face and found him to be a patient and honest being at some point though he took control of the conversation and began to warn me of an organization which threatened to release the Dark mother from her home realm into our own. The lord of the north then asked if I was willing to act and prevent such a tragedy from occurring, seeing as I offered up at least a sliver of faith. I accepted the task, promising that I shall be the god’s shield for this realm and attempt to prevent innocents from being harmed even as I try to do so for my allies. In exchange I was granted a type of power from the god, as he said he would also grant me strength to protect my companions through the coming trials. I later came to and heard screaming and banging on the door behind me and found my brother in a state of panic. I assured him things were alright and after a long apology we went on our way.

I later found that my companions Stan and Tsume also had an interest in the god as Stan forced me out of the room, and from conversations I had with him I found that Stan then dumped a majority of his belongings into the collection tray and began to make a long series of promises to the god, apparently the statue came to life and roughly gripped him by the head and poured some divine power into him.

Tsume however attempted to barter for a different fate, though I’ve yet to learn of what his offering was or what the form or messenger Bahamut used.

The one thing that I’ve found interesting though between My tale and stans is that I offered up a heart, impure I’ll admit but still one that was willing to believe and was gifted with the presence of the god himself, while stan offered up marks and had to engage in making a covenant with the god to prove his faith. I think the lesson to take away from this interaction is that faith and honesty holds more weight than coin or treasure.

I could go on for a good deal about the subject of what faith is, and how it is more than saying I believe, but I find that it is time for us to retire, and today's struggles have been particularly trying on us as a whole.

-Ne’zall Ufthal

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Tsume's Misfortune
The Cursed Scrolls

6 Years Ago…

 

Tsume is walking down a hallway of the monastery – on his way to start his morning training exercises with his Sensei, Uirebel Lireth. As he passes a door, he can hear some people talking. He recognizes them as his uncle, Mizu no Tsume, and his uncle’s long-time friend Linghun Baise.

 

 

Mizu: “…. so you are saying we should investigate these ruins?

 

Linghun: “Yes. They may hold secrets to the history of the Shirn.”

 

Mizu: “Okay. Let me discuss this with the council. We can leave as soon as tomorrow morning.”

 

Linghun: “Very good, you will not regret this, old friend.”

 

 

Tsume quickly moves from the door, and continues down the hall.

He makes it outside to see his sensei already waiting for him.

 

 

Lireth: “You are late.”

 

Hi: “I am sorry sensei, I overheard my uncle talking about going on another adventure.”

 

Lireth: “There are no excuses. You must make up this tardy on your time—Since you decided to take up mine.”

 

Hi: “Understood sensei.”

 

 

Tsume begins his morning kata.

 

—10 months later—

 

Mizu and Linghun return with a scroll case filled with documents written in a foreign language. Excited to hear another great story from his uncle, Hi sat there in awe.

 

 

Mizu: “…. and that is when the Jeffery the merchant passed away. It was very sad that he could not join us, he had good potential to learn here. But uncle Linghun and I hurried back with the scrolls we found. We go separated for a few days, but we finally found each other a weeks travel from the monastery.”

 

Hi: “Wow that is so amazing. Was uncle Linghun ok?”

 

Mizu: “Of course he was. This is Linghun we are talking about! Although, I know something happened to him during that time. He has not been himself since then.”

 

Hi: “What do you mean?”

 

Mizu: “Don’t worry about it, I am sure it will pass. Now get to bed, I am sure Master Lireth has more work for you in the morning.”

 

 

One month later…. Linghun has been trying to convince the council of Grand Masters that the scroll case Mizu brought was cursed, and that it will bring bad karma to the monastery. This was just considered mere theory until some of the students were found dead from a mysterious sickness. Linghun also convinced the council that Mizu was the prime suspect of the deaths, because of the curse that he brought.

 

 

Hi: “What is wrong master?”

 

Lireth: “It is about your uncle Mizu.”

 

Hi: “What happened?”

 

Lireth: “He was found dead in his room. They said he took his own life from the guilt.”

 

Tsume’s stoic face cracks in to sadness as he hangs his head and quietly sits down.

 

Hi: “I do not know what to do.”

 

Lireth: “It is ok. I know this must be difficult.”

 

Hi: “My uncle was innocent, and he knew it. So why did this happen?”

 

Lireth: “The council believes that Linghun was correct about the curse. There is not much we can do about that.”

 

Hi: “I know, I just feel like I need to do something about this.”

 

 

The next day Tsume meets with Grand Master Akaru-sa

 

 

Hi: “Grand Master, I need to ask you of something.”

 

Akaru-sa: “Yes, child, what is it?”

 

Hi: “I think my uncle is innocent, and I wish to discover the truth. I need to find out how I can prove it.”

 

Akaru-sa: “I know how eager you must feel to do this, but your uncle brought shame to himself when your fellow students lives were taken. He should have paid more attention to the warning Linghun gave him about the scroll case. Also, it is too soon for you to start questing, young one. You still have much to learn.”

 

Hi: “I do not believe that the scrolls are cursed, and I wish to prove that too.”

 

Akaru-sa: “Pay attention to me, Hi. The council will not approve of you going”

 

Hi:Please understand Grand Master Akaru-sa. I can do this”

 

Akaru-sa: The answer is no.?

 

 

Feeling upset Tsume bowed to the Grand Master.

 

 

Hi: “Thank you for hearing me.”

 

 

Akaru-sa bows back

 

Tsume walks away.

 

 

 

The next day the announcement was made that Tsume was to be banished for dishonor. Not knowing how to read the scrolls, nor their purpose, the naive Karyu was sent to figure it out, and what it meant. He met with his master one last time before he left.

 

 

Lireth: “Here you go, Hi. I do believe you should have everything you need in here.”

 

Hi: “Thank you sensei I am sorry I got banished.”

 

Lireth: “Do not let that get you down, little one. You still have the chance to prove your uncle’s innocence. Just remember what I taught you, I know you can handle this.

 

Hi:Thank you sensei.”

 

 

Tsume picked up the belongings, and headed out for Sussfast.

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Dear Sariel (sixth letter, included Case Study)

Dear Sariel,

I've befriended the Lizardfolk from my previous letter. His name is Thorsk, more of him will be described in the attached parchments which will detail his Cast Study. Please ensure that their seal is held and delivered to Professor Nishibi at the college. Beyond that, things progress slowly. My agreement with Thorsk is at ends with the Kobold's agreement. Which is at odds with Abraham's wish to hold his word. Even when I've explained to him how helping Thorsk overthrow Bellec (newly learned leader of the Lizardfolk) and the Kobold's unwillingness to follow local law or morality. So I've offered him our family's sponsorship in his studies. Of course I had already been planning on offering him this as he holds great competence in his field already, but now I am able to get him out of an otherwise venal agreement. Though his hesitance at the danger of the Kobold's is respectable. So we agreed to kill Calryx to boost Thorsk's position to challenge Bellec.

Mindertas

 

Confirming Arcane Transference Via Hemetic Influence

A Case Study to test Lemmy Hornsilver's theory of Sorcerous Conception by Mindertas Ilphelstia.

Introduction

While out in the field, I've been given the chance to test Dr. Hornsilver's theory on a Lizardfolk who not only consented to the experiment, but is highly motivated for it to be performed on him. In the following paper I will detail Thorsk, along with his physiology, psychology, and progress throughout the experiment. Though this will be occurring in the field so I will be unable to control for certain variables due to risk of safety for the subject, however I will try to be as descriptive as I can to ensure proper analysis of the data.

Methodology

The subject: Thorsk, Lizardfolk from a tribe located in the Cloven Citadel of the Ashen plain, ancestry currently unknown, age 19, Black-green scales with a very healthy frilling and few scars. He stands 6'4" with an addtional 8" when his lead Dorsal frill is fully extended. Approximately 300 lbs with about 18% body fat according to Beaurmann's method. Approximately average flexibility and speed. Introductions were made when my group and I, hired by the guardians for a separate investigation, murdered most of his raiding party on their return. Thorsk showed great bravery in charging us after all of his companions had been felled before him. He was calmed with a charming smoke from a magical pipe. In the interest of gaining him as a source of further context for our mission. He expressed interest in learning magic like I was capable of, but showed little promise in the way of education. So when I expressed Hornsilver's hypothetical loophole for arcane ability, he showed interest. In exchange for performing this on him he would help us on our mission. He shows intellect by his willingess to lie and trade to accomplish his goals, but holds very little (if any) formal education. He's also very boastful and headstrong, suggesting supreme confidence in his skills and methods. 

The impetus: Calryx, a captured white dragon 28'1" from snout to tail, wingspan of 40'7", and weight of approximately  1.2 tons. Confident, and provocative, upon diplomatic attempt he showed no intention of integrating into Drakkos' draconic community. Upon death, his blood rates at 3.6mPa suggesting nutritional deficiencies. This is likely due to its enslavement by local Kobolds. 

Results

[2-3 parchments worth of paper detailing various measurements of physical aspects of Thorsk and Calryx. Conclusion and Discussion to follow.]

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Abraham's Compendium, Part II

Fravsin 30 15030 A.T.

As much as it pains me to do so, the items which are to be discussed would best be read in a manner with which I irregularly write.  Formal scholarly notes will follow at the end, as a summary or synopsis of what can be read here, and should anyone else be reading this journal, if it is too long and you don't want to read, I suggest you take this invitation now to drop by notes because these aren't yours!

It would seem our second day in this stone citadel are to be exciting and daring.  Keth thinks to age me, with his bravado and foolishness towards such.  The orc inclination for battle seems to thrive even among the most scholarly of them.  Nonetheless, his was a foolhardy gamble that luckily paid off (though will, no doubt, only serve to encourage him along other foolish endeavors).  Not that my own day was without risk, albeit a very, very carefully calculated risk. 

The gnome that we chanced upon had within his possession a wristband that, when attuned to the wearer, would act as a magical life preserver.  A very powerful treasure, once per day, when one was knocked beyond the brink of death, the power in this bracelet would bring it's wearer back, albeit to a very minor level of vitality.  Having encountered the being, Jot, and his challenge, I of course began planning for a method that might secure me the bracelet, if even temporarily, such that I could utilize it in freeing this imprisoned being. 

Of course, we were unable to determine the extent of Jot's true power.  I had estimated that he was some sort of simple fire elemental, able to burn, but not much more powerful than that.  How wrong I was!  It would seem that some 5,000 years ago or more, the dragon priests of this temple were somehow able to trap an efreeti djinn.  What manner of trickery and sorcery they used, I shall have to inquire of later.  Such magic is dangerous to leave lay for others to find, especially were they intent on capturing more of Jot's kin.

With the aid of the gnome's wristband (marked with the Three Brother's Trading Company, no less!) and a ring of magical leaping on loan from our resident spotter and scout, I cast a quick spell of protection about myself, hoping it would assault Jot's mental facilities with enough power to give me time to reach safety.  While I was successful in making the leap across the threshold and back, upon my return, though I was confident in my success, the spell that bound him caused Jot to bear down on me with all his might.  For a moment, there was nothing.  No pain, no feeling, just white heat, greater than I have ever felt.  Then I was back, laying on the warm flagstones of the Dragon Priest's tomb, bereft of all my clothing.  Thank goodness for having the forethought to have Mindertas to care for my belongings during this endeavor. 

Upon my awakening, and the assurance to my allies that there was no trick, Jot allowed me to make a single wish.  He allowed my allies and I time to discuss the course of action we should take.  However, with the opportunity to accomplish my own goals in leaps and bounds, I politely requested that I be left alone with Jot.  Once in solitude with the Djinn, I struck up conversation, and explained my situation.  He was surprisingly understanding, intimating that he had been present when the magics that bind my people were put into effect, and provided information on how those magics might be circumvented.  While he implied that his own power may be able to do such, I also came to the conclusion that magical means of exceeding limits are not always wise.  Instead, I requested his friendship, and was given it.  For a wish, a means to protect Keth.  In the end, all goals were met, and there were none that were left wanting, in my opinion.

Shortly after this, and a recovery and redressing aided by Jot and Mindertas, we set out once more, seeking the dragon Calrex, the druid Dimitri, and any else who might stand in our way.  Mindertas cotinued to communicate with our new lizardfolk companion, finding his company to be beneficial to our cause.  It would seem that by bathing this person in the blood of a dragon, he may turn into a magic wielder through an evolutionary process.  Fascinating.

We were lucky on more than one instance.  Stanford spotted a door that allowed us to bypass what I can only assume are more dangerous elements of this dungeon, and Keth found more lizardfolk.  It should be noted that that wasn't the lucky part, rather, quick thinking and smooth talking (I can only assume) on the part of our wizard and his minion allowed us to avoid confrontation. 

The lizardfolk we found directed us towards Calrex the dragon, citing him as a danger that none of them had been able to stand against.  Confident in our abilities, we found and challenged this beast.  I was quite shaken when the dragon speared Meepo, who I had become attached to, and the battle commenced.  Tsume, our shirn combat expert, sought peace, and admirably so, but the bloodlust in the dragon was not to be stilled.  Keth fought bravely, as did our other companions.  Stanford impressed me by putting his bravery (and stupidity) on par with Keth's when he leaped onto the dragon's back.  While I am confident that it is primarily due to my assistance, our roguish friend was able to find the proper moment and time to slay the beast. 

Myself, seeming to be the only one with experience in field dressing, quickly set about to harvest, to the best of my abilities, the resources left behind by Calrex.  Waste not, want not, as they say. 

It would seem that favor smiles on our plucky band of misfits.  So far, we have accomplished things that others only dream about.  Our confidence grows with our power, and I pray that the former does not outstrip the latter.

 

TL;DR

-Abraham befriends a genie

-Stanford kills a dragon

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In the moment
The Tiger Meditates

 

Feeling exhausted from being damaged and healed many times in a short moment, Tsume walks over to the nearby bench and sits down.  He pulls out his brush and his ink, and a sheet of parchment.

A Challenge of Swords

Two Rivals compete to win

And drinks they will share.

Tsume then puts his supplies away, and waits for it to dry.  He then rolls it up, walks over to Keth, bows, and offers the parchment

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