The Ascension Gate

A GAME WITHIN A GAME
Bartak rolled a 4.

I made this.

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Barging our Way into Tauster's House...and Heart
Speedy Delivery or Not Just a Walk in the Woods

25th Hamas
The party leaves Milbourne by barge with the supplies for Hamas Day, setting a 2 party watch by night. The day passes uneventfully, save for a disturbing di-tonal howling sound heard by Daba and Vilig during their watch. They are unable to determine the nature of the source (natural/unnatural magical/mundane)

26th Hamas:
The barge passes through the Redwood on the next day and a small group of farmers/regulars armed with pitchforks and crude weapons talking on the roadway are spotted.

That evening the barge settles in Thurnmaster. Illios guards the crates while the rest seek Tauster looking for advice and a place to stay.

Tauster’s place has recently been ransacked, with the original package the party delivered amongst the items taken.

The party shares their visions with him and he shares a vision with them: He saw a fallen tower in a vision, a dark presence cracked his scrying stone.

Bartak strikes a deal with Tauster to clean his tower in exchange for a place to stay. Dana and Bartak do just that, many piles are made, and now the party has a permanent place to stay in Thurnmaster.

27th Hamas

The party spends an uneventful day traveling to Count Parlfray’s keep where the goods are successfully delivered. Parlfray greets the party himself. He is scattered and forgetful, kind and harmless. His some Lintern arrives at dinner, very nice and enthusiastic, but sheltered.

Facts are learned:

  • The lizard men have turned up again.
  • There are rabid dogs in the Redwood
  • A boy has fallen from the shear cliffs

28th Hamas
The group heads back to Thurnmaster. Vilig is a bad influence on Lintern, encouraging him to see the world. The party spends the night with Tauster again.

29th Hamas
On the road through the Redwood.

Passers by on road believe hunting party has already put down the rabid dogs.
Bartak senses a change in the berries and nature. The berries take on a rotting smell, the trees are yellowing. Daba then senses death.

Everything is evil (Illios)
Everything is toxic (Bartak)
Everyhting is dying (Daba)
It isn’t regular undeath (Vilig)

The party identifies a group of undead just off the road, Vilig activates his hide from undead ability, sets up a whisper communication with Daba, and heads into the thicket where he sees 5 rotting dogs eating corpses of farmers.

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We brought wine!
A night with Darius Rucker

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Fine dining and the pursuit of goals
Desnday, 24th of Hamas, 2022 AG

It seems all too familiar now, these dinners. Some noble or merchant attempts to impress me or the group I am travelling with with their wealth and class. Fine dinnerware, intricate tapestries, porcelain accouterments, all displayed with the singular intent to impress and overawe. I must admit, when I first began my search, it worked. Such finery was beyond any I had ever seen or experienced, for even the Grand Monastery, while fine in its own way, was austere. Greed was something the Creed has always warned us about:

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

This has proven true time and again. These merchants and nobles used their wealth to impress us, and in so doing thought to buy us cheaply, and to subvert our morals. More than once I have been tempted to stray from the path, and have prayed to Gadar fervently for strength against such temptation. Offers of money, and power, and favors. All too often in exchange for the stain of sin, madness, and death.

So I entered that manner with a wary mind. The others have not been a part of this life as long as I, and I felt that I had to keep a keen eye open for deviousness. Through our discussions with Darius Carmen, we learned of many of the region’s plights, and I came to realize that perhaps my misgivings were unfounded. It seemed that Carmen’s problems were something we could deal with ethically, if not quickly, and his offers of payment seemed reasonable. Still, I am concerned for the girl Jelenneth, and for my own search.

Regardless, it would seem we will remain in the Haranshire a bit longer. Perhaps Count Parlfrey shall be able to shed some light on the mysteries we have discovered.

Truth and Light.

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Remembrances of Dining Rooms Past
Waiting on Darius Carmen

Velour the shade of crusted blood is draped across the walls, blocking out the only way to track the time inside this wretched “dining room” – although, as no food has yet been served, I am left to conclude that it is only a torture chamber with a long and useless table.

Here, on Daba’s shoulder, I’ve lost count of the minutes we’ve waited on this hyped-up Darius Carmen, who had damn well better be worth my patience. He’d better have incandescent wings, or hands that spin feathers into gold, or an infinite cornucopia from which flows the greatest fount of carrion and birdseed that I could possibly demand.

I don’t like having time to fill because that’s generally when I have vexing little memory attacks, flying up at me like sentimental mosquitoes. I don’t like to think about being an elf. Sometimes I don’t even like to look at Vilig, lithe and silly and too close to what I once was.

Instead I stare down at the cuisine-less table, with the faint scratches in the wood grain peeking out from underneath a candelabra, and I remember Taney Ruk. Nothing about her was sentimental. I’d rather think of worse times, and she was worse.

But I was with her the last time I sat in ostentatious chambers such as these.

I’ve lost the greater circumstances, even the name of the city. It’s the strange, miniscule details I remember, like the ridiculous blue peacock feather that erupted from the rich man’s puffy hat. I remember his name, I think. Don something. Don…

“So you can see why I would be in need of your services,” he mumbled, but somehow still impressively, cutting into a piece of chicken.

It was a bit too close to my present form for me to stare at comfortably, so I craned my neck to stare at my mistress instead. She was not eating, but, rather, squinting across the dining room at the man with the puffy hat. Don Clemenza?

“No,” she deadpanned, with no humility or humor. “I’m afraid I do not see.”

Don Whatshisname put down the fork slowly and dabbed his lips – they seemed overly full, I remember – with a cloth napkin, then, with an aggressive snap, ordered his servants out of the room. They were all little girls, I remember, mousey and ill-washed with uniform cream-colored aprons, and at the sound of the snap they flinched and ran like one hunted organism. He put down the napkin and spoke, more clearly then.

“Has there been a miscommunication? I’ve been told you’re a death witch.”

“I am a death witch.”

“Then you can make some death happen.”

“I am not, however, an assassin.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Such that neither of us have time to explain or listen to at present,” Taney retorted, calmly. As she pushed back from the table and stood, I flew to her arm.

The Don…Salvatore?… stood up to face her, clearly growing angry, his face the color of his wine. His reputation was such that I knew he was unaccustomed to being refused.

“I fail to comprehend why it’s so difficult for you to end this one man.”

“I fail to comprehend why I should.”

He stalked towards her, slowly, almost gracefully. She stood firm. I was not so firm, and glanced at the window to see if there was an opening for me.

“Barzini would be easy for you to kill. I just need someone else to do it for me.”

“That’s not the point, Don Tattaglia,” she said – Tattaglia! That was his name. Fuck me.

Anyway, he edged ever closer as she raised one talon in the air in front of her, continuing.

“I’m not some death whore that can be rented out for parties,” she spat.

Tattaglia was within a foot of us now, his face contorted into a wry grin of condescension. He raised his own hand in the air, poised to snap a command at any second.

“There’s a purpose to what I do. And it’s not Barzini’s time yet.”

He shrugged, an odd gesture from such an expensive-looking person.

“Then I guess it’s yours.”

But before he could snap, in an instant Taney’s talons were cupping his face, almost with tenderness, like she held again the child she never got a chance to know. His smile was erased like smudgy chalk and his eyes widened as he collapsed to the floor in a decidedly plebeian thump. It was as satisfying as it was horrifying.

She spun in one swift movement, her robes brushing up against the chairs, and walked with ease through the door and down the staircase. I could not share her steadiness.

“What in the name of Irunae just happened back there???” I whispered into her ear.

“His heart stopped. Massive coronary. Too bad. What can you do.”

“You mean what are THEY going to do to US when they find out you killed him.”

“I think them girls’ll be a lot happier,” she said, and suddenly I felt ashamed for my oblivious apathy. I don’t generally care about, well, anyone, but I knew I should have deduced it. My embarrassment crept into my tone wearing the face of accusation.

“You can’t just go around – "

We stopped in a hallway close to a back entrance we’d noted during the initial tour of the house. Before I knew it, her hand was around my ribcage, pinning me to the wall, splat.

I remembered then how frail I was.

In her irritation, her clipped professionalism from upstairs had evaporated.

“I can’t? I don’t have to justify shit to you, you fucking bird. You are a fucking bird with a waterfall for a mouth. All fucking day you babble, absolute non-stop. What the fuck did you even do to get stuck in this body? I will end you like I just ended Tattaglia, do you understand me? You are replaceable. You are alive by my grace, and don’t forget – "

“I…have…your spells,” I gasped.

She dropped me, and, forgetting I had wings, I flopped on the floor, trying to breathe again. She gazed down past her beak, blinking hatred, at me and everything.

“I didn’t ask for this fucking job.”

“I know.”

She paused, then after a few seconds picked me up and placed me on her shoulder. “It was his time.” She turned to look at me. “Why the fuck’dyou even think I walked in here today.”

It wasn’t really a question, just a reminder not to question her – ever. But I didn’t answer because in my periphery I’d seen one of his little girls, gaping at us, blocking the door.

Taney took three long steps and grasped her on the shoulder.

“Get all ya’all and get the hell out of this house. Now.”

The girl, already smarter than I was, knew not to ask too many questions and scampered away as fast as her feet could carry her. Taney Ruk just opened the back door of the mansion and sauntered out into the winter sunshine, pulling her hood over her face in one quick oft-repeated mannerism, and we were gone. Nothing else ever came of it.

That’s what happened the last time I was in a dining room like this.

I glance down at Daba, bored almost to her own death, rubbing her temples in small circular patterns. There are footsteps now, barely audible but coming closer to the room. My only hope is that Darius Carmen is not as vile as Don Tattaglia, but a hope is not an expectation. We’ll see what happens. I know for a fact that Daba doesn’t have Taney’s touch spells yet, so any disagreeable outcome could present a more tricky situation to escape.

But she doesn’t have Taney’s rage fits, either, so – all things considered – in whatever occurrences are about to transpire, I’d rather be with the younger Ruk.

Now let’s see if Darius Carmen was worth the wait.

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Dinner Guests
“I eat exclusively meat and berries and honey.”

Darius Carmen hosts the party at an opulent, but rather poorly hosted, meal to which the party had invited themselves.

Darius proved himself to be a exactly as advertised: portly, balding, rightly convinced of his own power and importance, and generally short sighted about the needs of others that don’t directly impact his own.

He proposes a number of situations that need resolved and the reputation of the party has caught his attention as people who can handle such situations. The opportunities are as follows:

A) Investigate the cause of the spread of New Mire to the South; 2 weeks worth of work, 50 gold per head, 1000 for results

B) The High Moor: Rock Dale full of green skins, encroaching/raiding on locals of the high moor. 50 gold a head, 10p for each greenskin dead,

C) Mutilated sheep south of the Hardlow Woods. Find cause, 200p find, 500p to stop

D) Hamas Day approaches; gifts need to be delivered to Palfrey at his keep. Needs escort by barge to thurmaster, and then on to Keep. 5gp per head a day.

E) Bandits on the Lyrchwood road. Assaulting folk on the road, some missing people. 25p per bandit killed, 50p per capture.

The party decides to engage the escort mission in order to get a better look at the Keep of Count Parlfray, in a continued search for Jeleneth, and then investigate the mutilated sheep on the trip back.

Other notes from the session:

  • A previous group (Oracle, Bard, 2 strong men) have previously died/gone missing.
  • Bartak receives a vision of Jeleneth that involves a black clad figure with an eye patch.
  • Naften has never made an eye patch
  • Darius owns much of the land West of Thurnmaster with heavy interests into mining operations.

GM: “Bar-BEAR-ian?”

Brie: “Wait, now I need to change my character sheet.”

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The Name Game
Vilig gets romantic. Bartak hugs like a bear.

The fire sent up a constant gentle crackle in the still mid evening, its light gaining greater contrast against the sky as the sun trailed behind the mountains. Around the flames Daba was perched on a fallen log, Declan eyeing the group from a branch above her; Illios, his armor removed, pounded out some Orc related dents, Bartak sat in the dirt and alternated between eating what appeared to be a deer leg and experimenting with various stylings for his ebullient facial hair. All were paying varying levels of interest to Vilig as he bounded around the fire, talking with great animation.

Vilig: (enthusiastic and sharp) I’m telling you this is a fantastic idea, and not just because it’s mine, though that is a lovely piece of synergy in this particular instance. Who am I? Just an Elf. Illios? A Human. Bartak? A-

Bartak: – a bear.

Vilig: Dwarf

Bartak: (chews)

Vilig: well, et cetera et cetera et cetera. My point is that we’ve travelled together now for long enough and seemingly will continue to, so wouldn’t it be a stellar idea to, well, come up with a name for ourselves…

Bartak: I’m with the Elf! I too have mostly forgotten all of your names.

Vilig: Um, no that isn’t actually-

Bartak: But aren’t words a waste, what if I just assigned each of us a smell?

Vilig: My point is we should name our group. Something we call ourselves, a go by.

Daba: Well I ain’t never been one for throwing in with anyone, but my self and my cups. (Daba pauses to dip her beak into a tin cup full of whisky, or rather nearly empty of whiskey based on her scrapings against the cup’s bottom.) Why d’wee ev’n need to be a darn blamed group?

Vilig: This isn’t about whether we join up, we’re joined! Joined, engaged, connected, thrown in, hitched, linked, bound um, uhhh-

Bartak: …coupled?

Vilig: (With a great flourish of salesmanship) EXACTL- Wellmaybenotassuch, but I see you’re getting my point. Illios, you agree with me, don’t you?

Illios: (nodding) Coming together’s how man has long stood against the wicked and the chaotic. The order of union, the structure of society, and consensus of vision.

Daba: Great, we’re together, but I still don’t get why we need a name. I got a name, (to herself) got plenty a names.

Illios: There’s power in a name. A banner rallies support; it can even further galvanize already like minded allies. Names remake and redefine. ‘Illios’ isn’t my given name, it’s a name I’ve taken upon myself so I may shine brighter in the service of Gadar.

Vilig: Look, I know it sounds hokey, but once the Pure Mourn settled into itself we were host to a constant stream of adventurers. Mostly odds and ends thrown together, all sorts of races looking for fame, but they all had a name; sometimes it proceeded them, more often it was a hollow vessel they hoped to fill with deeds and heroics. I never got to do anything like that.

Daba: (with skepticism) What aboutcher ship? Ain’t that a thing yer attached to? Seem mighty quick to abandon ‘em.

Vilig: I’m a crew member on the Clarion’s Call, yes, but that’s a position, a job. There’s certainly camaraderie and a sense of pride, but it’s flipped in an odd way. We all work for each other as a rule, but then each person has there own self interest as their driving purpose. I suppose I’m just taken with the reverse; people for whom personal goals seem paramount secretly caring more about their frien- er, companions.

Bartak: (Suddenly fully attentive) Are we friends?

Daba: Vilig, you a bit romantic ain’t ya?

Vilig: (Embarrassment creeping in) This is the longest I’ve ever spent around people voluntarily that weren’t family, especially the fighting and fun and-

Bartak: (Leaping to his feet) My boy. (Bartak has braided the entire left side, head to chin. He rushes up to a startled Vilig and envelopes him in an eponymous hug). You’re the first person to call me friend since returning from the bears. You’re one of the best not-a-bears I’ve ever met. (Tears appeared in the Dwarf’s eyes) My bear clan recognized themselves as Black Snouts. I understand, my boy, I understand.

Daba: I guess as long as it isn’t somethin’ dumb, I can be ok with it.

Illios: As long as we don’t try to work in Gadar. There’s a fine line between branding and blasphemy.

Vilig: How about Roaming something? or The Comrades or something like that?

Daba: Magnum Carnage? Mercyful Fate? Epoch of Unlight?

Bartak: Snarling Jowls?

Illios: Friend Force?

Declan: Oh, brother.

Daba: Obtained Enslavement? Moribund Oblivion? Blood Tsunami?

Vilig: Dragons with Quick Tongues. We can just go by Dragons, or Quick Tongues for short. I think it captures our nature and a little bit of our flair for the dramatic.

The party raised a toast to the new name, that it might be filled with renown and favor, whatever may come.

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I do not have a post this week.
Here is a picture explaining my current situation.

No XP for me.

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Messages by Night

Dat Bear got away. Killed tree uv me boyz. Dose udders u wanted stomped Urdrox reel good, too. Gess u gonna hafta deel wit it urself, eh Patchy?

Klog

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Maxim, Bear Extraordinaire
Erasday, 23rd of Hamas, 2022 AG

Following the skirmish with the Orc party, we set out once more to find the lad, Maxim. Kuiper seemed keen to find the boy once Oleanne revealed that the Orcs had been carrying silvered swords (silver being an effective method for harming lycanthropes), afraid they had perhaps wounded or killed him. We set out to search for him whilst Oleanne slipped off into the deeper, and darker, parts of the forest, hunting for the Orcs place of origin.

It was not long before we found the boy’s (bear’s?) tracks, and we came upon him easily. Prepared for a fight, Kuiper provided us with nets to tangle him up, with a dire warning to avoid being bitten. They proved unnecessary however.

I will never cease to be amazed by the odd talents my friends seem to display. Vilig, slight of build and quick of tongue, wields his rapier with a stunning accuracy and deftness. Daba, somber and with an odd way of speaking, is truly adept in dealing with death in an almost graceful fashion. Bartak’s blade is wild and strong, capable of felling enemies in a single powerful blow…and he can also speak Bear, apparently.

I honestly have no idea how Bartak was even capable of making the sounds that he did, but upon encountering Maxim in a small clearing, he being growling and roaring just like a grizzly bear. What’s more astonishing, Maxim seemed to understand! Bartak kept the lad calm so that I could give him Gadar’s blessed healing, and he soon collapsed from exhaustion.

Successful in this endeavor, we struck off to take the boy home and bring news of Jelenneth to Garyld. We are camping now, near the ferry at Hogbrook on our way to Milborne. Sadly, there was never any sign of the girl. I fear the worst. If it be so, may Gadar’s light shine on her soul in its journey to the Outside.

Truth and Light.

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