The Ascension Gate

The Battle of Ojishi
Mid-Ketephan, 2012 AG

When I awoke, I found myself staring into the blood-red eyes of an orc. In a panic, I reached for my kukri, only to find my sword-arm trapped beneath me. Frantically, I beat at the creature with my other fist, but it did not react. It did not move. It did not blink.

It was then I realized that the orc crushing me, pinning me to the ground, was dead. Relief surged through me, and I heaved the lifeless corpse to the side. The gaping wound in its side no longer bled, the green blood blackened and congealed in a pool around us both. I lay there a moment, breathing deeply and thanking Gadar I was still alive. Despite the stink of the creature, those mouthfuls of air were some of the sweetest I had ever tasted.

When I finally stood and looked around, what I saw was carnage. The dead littered the ground, human and orc alike, their forms frozen in the final agonizing moments of their lives. Fires still burned in small patches, and the stench of burning flesh rose with the tarry black smoke. The raucous sound of ravens and vultures squabbling over the flesh of the dead was the only noise. All else was death.

My mouth and nose felt as though I had eaten sand for every meal of my life, dry and cracked and painful. I reached for my canteen, which still contained a precious swallow of water, but found I could not move my sword arm. It was then I realized, it was not because my arm was trapped that I could not move it, but the grievous wound I had received. Blood leaked from a gash in the upper arm, and it hung dead at my side. Numbed by shock, pain now returned bright and sharp.

I fumbled at my kit, dragging out the implements of my craft. Bandages, scissors, purified water, forceps, needle, thread…all the things used on the field of battle to staunch the wounds of a soldier. I had spent much of that fight trying to keep my Brothers alive, binding wounds in the thick of the fighting. It had not helped much.

With only one good arm, it took time for me to clean and bind the wound, and by the time I finished I had broken out in a cold sweat and felt as though I had run twenty miles in full armor in the middle of Hamas. I just wanted to sleep, to rest awhile to gather my strength again. I knew that I couldn’t though. I remembered now what happened. The battle. The orc hordes. The route.

We had lost. Which meant that this land was now controlled by the greenskin horde. If I were discovered here, I would be lucky if I were simply killed outright. I did not want to consider what might happen if they decided to keep me alive instead.

So, as night fell, I stumbled west. I did not know how many of my Brothers escaped, but if any did, they would go to Kimohidaka, to warn the people there of what we had faced. I would join them there, to face this evil. Now, I just had to make it.

A Flash from the Past
Dream Journal #3, Page 34

Date: 17th of Twilight, 1989 AG

Wash of golden light. A figure walks away with their back to me. Certainly not a bear. Doesn’t seem like a dwarf, though it’s hard to remember what I look like now. There’s the scent of burning leaves in the air. It distracts me, and I glance around for the source. By the time I look back , the figure has gone. A handful of sand. No, ash. What have I done?

Ode to a Good Stout

Oh, how I do enjoy a good stout,
The dark liquor of the gods
Pulled from the dark cask
Under the dark bar.
The wooden top worn with scratches of
Memories wished to be remembered
And memories wished to be forgotten.

This bar notably less worn
Than that of the Silver Crown.
That Inn, which housed many a miner
Fighting and gambling over petty silver.
Don’t they know that beer’s far richer?

Yes, Baron of Mutton is more my speed,
And Andrin makes a fine barkeep
Even while the old man sputters and snoozes.
Ol’ Andy’s even kind enough to offer some brandy
For my more delicate companions
At a price. Fine by me.

Soon I’ll find The Baron takes the sting off
A morning bright too soon
With a full breakfast:
Sausages, toast, a slice of tomato.
Nourishment enough for the journey ahead
To visit a wizard, a constable, and a ranger
To search for an apprentice, a fiancée, a baker’s daughter,
But nothing compares to that stout last night.

Trip to Thurmaster
By Horton Foote

The brief facts and recollections of the trip to Thurmaster:

On entering Milborne, the adventurers made stop at the Silver Crown inn, a working class place that didn’t have an overly warm reception to non-humans, nor accommodation matching the party’s needs. It did however house a beer soaked rag in the form of a dwarf named Grizzler.

“Burpraaaa-urrrrrp” -Grizzler

On recommendation from Timson the barkeep the party moves down the road to the nicer Baron of Mutton. Finer interior, finer clientele. There is a brief conversation about whether to hide their Otherness from the locals.

Daba: “How strong are you, maybe you can roll me up in a carpet”
Bartok: “So strong.” :flexes:

The party decides to test their luck by not disguising themselves, finding a warmer reception than in the Silver Crown. They made conversation with the barkeep:

Bartok: “I’m thirsty.”
Andrin: "I’m Andrin.”

as well as a young wizard named Jelennth. Daba showed bouts of extreme caution and suspicion even once suggesting she cast detect magic in a crowded room. Bartok, not totally grasping the whole situation, attempted to help none the less:

Bartok: “Can she go into the bathroom?”

In the morning Daba checked on the cart (nearly starting a war in order to spy on our own property), Illios met the local priest, and Vilig and Bartok visited
Jelenneth’s parents at the mill. Bartok repeatedly demanded an Elephant Ear, missing out on
the much funnier Bear Claw pun.

Bartok: “I call my greataxe Old…Great Axe”

Eventually the party decided that catching a barge the rest of the way to Thurmaster was a faster and safer route.

Bartok: “Gordrenn is annoying because he asked us to do something.”

On the boat, the party passed the time by playing games with the crew:

Crew: “I don’t know what Yahtzee is.”
Bartok: “Its the game of the bears.”

The party has taken up the habit of always setting a watch, even using Declan in order to increase sleep shares.

Bartok: “Trust is as trust does…for bears.”

Thurmaster turned out to be the shit hole of the shit from a shit hole, but Tauster is adorable in his dotage. An old, seemingly harmless, man who loves his magic and garden, Tauster reveals that the only real value in the package is the gold cost of the spell components inside.

A bird delivers a message to Tauster that Garyld the ranger requests their presence back in Milborne so the party visits the squire for payment and returns to Milborne the way they came.
The bodies of the brigands were discovered and Jelenneth has disappeared leaving the adventurers as the prime suspects. Vilig convinces Garyld of the truth and the party is semi-voluntarily conscripted into a search for the girl.

The party follows the Churnett river over land to meet a ranger name Kipper.

“You peg him right away.”
“So he’s 28 and he loves pegging.”
“Remind me to tell you something later.”

He leads the party (along with Blue the dog) to Hogbrook, meeting the Druid Olean along the way. With no sign of Jelenneth the party beds down for the night and in the pitch of the night are awakened by Declan’s screams announcing the arrival of 9 orcs and a half ogre.



Here I am, perched on this tree limb, keeping watch.

Fucking delightful.

Ages ago this task would have been far below my talents, a purpose best left to some underling. But now I’m stuck here on this branch, listening to the snores and cicada drones, waiting for absolutely nothing to happen – because I’m convinced that absolutely nothing is what we’ve drug ourselves out here for.

I’ll give Daba credit; though the others mocked her for it, she knew that Jelenneth was going to be trouble from the moment we met her. She picked up on some kind of creepy death vibe from our conversation with her, but it turns out that she misinterpreted the cause; the girl herself wasn’t the danger, but, rather, was IN danger, and has now indirectly dragged us into her little country bumpkin melodrama as a result.

By the time we came back through the town (which, by the way, was pretty much the “grimy letdown” I had feared it would be), Jelenneth had disappeared and our crew was being blamed for it. Vilig somehow managed to finesse the interrogation to the point where we were no longer under suspicion, but then we were suckered into helping with the search. We were joined by this other fellow with distracting muscles who led us out into the wilderness and, to my great vexation, dropped a cannonball on us about some sort of werebear who we’re SUPPOSED TO CARE ABOUT FOR NO GIVEN REASON – so now I guess we’re hunting him instead? It boggles the mind. My little brain – it acheth.

Daba says that the girl is probably “deader than fuck” and maybe even “got et” by the werebear, but I don’t think we’ll find either of them. I’m just going to be sitting out here for the next hour, listening to these people fart in their sleep, and –

What was that?

What the fuck was that???

The Village Girl
Gadday, 21st of Hamas, 2022 AG

The last few days have been interesting, to say the least. As I write this, I find myself sitting around a fire in a strange wood as the last of the day’s light fades. In the past, I would have spent much of Gadday in quiet contemplation, meditating on the good that can be accomplished in His holy name, as we were taught by the Guiders when I was young. Despite their wisdom, I have come to question this use of His Holy Warrior’s time. All those many days I spent cloistered away in the white halls of the Monastery, I could have been in the city, truly helping those that needed it. So, I find myself in a strange and dark wood, searching for a young girl mysteriously vanished.

The girl, Jelenneth, seemed nothing but a footnote in our journey; a young, pretty girl met by chance in an inn. We spoke with her briefly in passing, and as with many such meetings, was forgotten once out of sight. It seems her role was somewhat more important than I initially thought in Gadar’s plan for me. Her disappearance, our suspected role, and finally the agreement to search for her with the ranger Kuiper has led us into the Thornwood, a place we have been warned against straying.

We have sought the girl for many hours now, with neither hide nor hair to be found. We did, however, run into another young woman by the name of Oleanne. According to Kuiper, she is a druid of the woods, its protector and keeper. She is all but wild, the Common tongue awkward upon her lips, but intelligent and clearly skilled in her woodcraft. She informed us of a Werebear in the woods, the son of a farmer Kuiper knows. He has asked for our help in finding the lad, and bringing him home. As we have seen no sign of the girl, we agreed to aid Kuiper in this. Either way, we bring aid to those who need it, so Gadar will be with us.

Truth and Light shine upon us.

Letter to Captain Storn of The Clarion's Call
Posted the 21st of Hamas, 2022 AG


The more I travel and meet new people, the more I come to understand that the great obstacle of society is being understood. The expectations and assumptions people project on each other can be stifling, even dangerous in the wrong circumstances.

The group I’ve fallen in with found some contract work, a simple retrieve and deliver job, that I was mostly keen to take on as a reason to visit some of the high inland frontiers. I failed to consider just how an inland frontier functions differently than where I grew up. They don’t see the breadth and depth of faces and races that came through the Pure Mourn. As an Elf I was made to feel the outsider to say nothing of less commonly seen races in my party.

Worse is when suspicion creeps in. I’ve been following your advice, trying to defuse tensions before they arise with a smile and generous coin, but a girl goes missing and the group of non-humans are top of the suspect list. We sorted everything out and the ranger heading the investigation seems a good man. We’re going to spend a few more days in the Haranshire and help in the search.

I’ll send a follow up report when we move back towards the coast.

Heading The Call,

A little help here?
I'm not feeling particularly supported.

If I had been my old self, I would have needed a drink after today.

As it stands, even after two hundred years – longer, actually – I haven’t found many ways to relax in this accurséd form you saw fit to put me in. I mean, I suppose I can find a puddle and take a birdbath or find a thermal and take a little aerial jaunt, as one does, but nothing’s quite the same as a bottle of wine.

That will be the FIRST thing I procure once I’ve worked off this debt and you switch me back – trust me. You can bet gold on it. Not that you have any interest in keeping track of currency anymore, being beyond those petty concerns.

It’s gold that got us into this – the promise of a hundred and fifty pieces, to be exact. There’s a box, now retrieved and needing to be delivered; I’m DEATHLY curious to know what’s inside but Daba swatted my beak away from the latch (totally uncalled for) after the party decided to complete the job as requested. What’s her problem? A peek wouldn’t have obliterated anyone. (Is she on her bloodmoon? Do tengu women even get those? I honestly don’t know.)

Anyway, the importance of the box is apparently rather dire as we were attacked for it (and, as we found out later, for Daba herself – what do you know about that, if anything?) on the dirty road through that miserable patch of backwater farmland. This was the part that completely wrecked my nerves. The skirmish that ensued seemed a hard one (at one point it was going so badly that one of the party members suggested sending ME into the fray, at which point I almost choked on the roadkill I’d been anxiously munching), but it was especially hard for Daba, who spent the majority of it flat and helpless on the ground. Though she hadn’t told me today was her day to die – she’s promised to let me know if she sees it coming – there were a couple of moments I genuinely thought I’d lose her.

You must be laughing at my concern for her, knowing how I despise this job you’ve given me – spell-carrier, death-eater, bird. Fucking bird of all things. (Something imposing and sexy like a wildcat or a scorpion or a wolf? NO! LET’S MAKE DECLAN A BIRD.) Laugh away, but I’ve grown attached to her these past ten years; she treats me far better than the heir before her, treats me like an actual person, and I would hate to see her prematurely replaced by someone less considerate (not to mention the infinite boredom of waiting for the next deathwitch to be born – at least when she got here I had something to do again).

Luckily, today was not her day; this was largely thanks to Bartak, whose murderous glee is as impressive as it is horrifying, and Ilios, whose seemingly limitless healing abilities got Daba on her talons again – just in time for her to put one of the attackers to sleep so he could be questioned later.

It WAS, however, his day, since he kept lying to us (his own fault), but before they put him to sleep permanently they did get some answers.

In the mean time I can tell that Daba is feeling frustrated, self-critical, and useless, as is often the case. It’s been a decade since she came to grips with all of this but part of the problem, she’s told me, is that the Tengu train their young as swordfighters since, essentially, birth – so when the adrenaline hits she’s programmed to get into the fray, rather than hanging back (as I am ALWAYS wise enough to do – let the rest of the plebes smash heads on my behalf). But when she DOES hang back, her spells are still not quite as effective as she’d like them to be, so she feels like dead weight (no pun intended).

I never know if you’re actually listening to me when I talk to you, but, if you are, could we work on getting her some stronger magic? I know you’ve got some sort of time-honored, mind-numbingly specific system for when she receives certain powers, but, honestly, if you could speed that up a bit, we’d all be delighted – as I say this on behalf of not only myself but the whole party.

To end on a scrap of welcome good news, we’re within sight of the town now; I get exhausted by traipsing through the endless countryside and I crave CULTURE, even if I can’t really participate in it. Plus the garbage in cities has a variety that’s more agreeable to my palette; raccoon corpses get old after a while. I’ve never been to this particular town so it could be a grimy, urchin-infested letdown, but I’m curious to proceed – largely to see what happens next with the box.

And if we get attacked again, can you be a little more present with Daba on the luck end of things, hmm? You’re the one who put both of us in this fix, after all, and – unlike me – Daba didn’t even do anything to deserve it.

Hope you’re having fun, wherever you are today, you old queen.

Contract of Binding Venture for The Clarion's Call
Witnessed by Captain and First Mate

Below are outlined the terms of service between the Captain/leadership of The Clarion’s Call and the Independent Agent, Vilig Sojet.

A. Independent Agent’s Responsibilities

  1. Independent Agents agree to bind themselves in financial and legal venture to the Captain/Leadership and Crew of The Clarion’s Call.
  2. Independent Agents are expected to sublimate all personal procurement of recompense to the shared ventures between Leadership and Crew.
  3. All Independent Agents agree to accept tasks, jobs, and duties as given and assigned by the Captain/Leadership of The Clarion’s Call and including any risk this may include.
  4. The Crew and Leadership of The Clarion’s Call do not bind themselves to any pre-existing legal or financial situations of the Independent Agent. Support and sanctuary are not guaranteed for pre-existing conditions.

B Crew member responsibilities

  1. Crew are expected to refrain from delivering bodily harm, up to and including death, upon one another.
  2. Crew members must respect the personal belongings of other crew members.
  3. Crew members agree to defend the lives of Captain/Leadership and Crew above personal belongings.
  4. Crew members agree to protect the safety/independence of The Clarion’s Call over the lives of other Crew.
  5. Special permission must be received from Captain/Leadership before a crew member brings an exotic fruit/animal/person or magical item/person/device (sexual or otherwise) aboard ship.
  6. Crew members accept that shared ventures may put them in the way of physical, mental, or spiritual harm. Any venture that brings a guarantee of death qualifies for independent arbitration to be held after the completion of said venture.

C. Captain/Leadership Responsibilities

  1. The Captain/Leadership of the The Clarion’s Call, here identified as Bracknell Storn, will provide room and board to crew members to the extent that it guarantees long term health, but does not necessarily guarantee short term comfort.
  2. Captain/Leadership are responsible for providing recompense equal to the agreed upon share earned by each crew member. The form and payment schedule will reflect the circumstances of the shared venture. The form of all recompense will not be equal and may befit the circumstance of the Crew member or venture.

D. Achieving a Full Share

  1. New Independent Agents are subject to a 6 month probationary period during which they will receive a Partial Share. This proportion of share will be agreed upon by the two parties upon signing.
  2. After this 6 month period a hearing committee made up of the captain and 2-4 other crew members will either grant the Independent Agent a full share or extend the probationary period another 6 months. The rate of Partial Share may be modified at this time, but may not be reduced. After the second probationary period the committee will be reconvened. If a Full Share is again not granted, then either/both parties have the option of dissolving the contract at that time. If not dissolved, hearings are held every 6 months to determine Full Share status until Full Share is granted or a party chooses to withdraw from the contract.

E. Considerations Specific to Independent Agent

  1. The Independent Agent, Vilig Sojet, is hereby granted no fewer than 6 extended shore leaves per 12 month period in order to allow his improvement as a crew member.
  2. Vilig Soject will spend no more than 4 months ashore total in any 12 month span in regard to the agreement in E1.

F. End of Contract

  1. In the event of the loss/theft/destruction of The Clarion’s Call, all contracts between the Captain/Leadership and all Independent Agents are rendered null and void unless a new vessel, no more than one class level below The Clarion’s Call, is procured for the continuation of shared ventures.
  2. In the event of the dissolution of a contract, Independent Agent’s retain the rights to all owed recompense as well as the rights to all holdings predating the signing of this contract.

By decree and witness of Captain Bracknell Storn, Vilig Sojet is accepted aboard the The Clarion’s Call for a period of 3 years beginning with the first leaving of port hence,

So signed this the 12th of Gad, 2020.

Captain, Bracknell Storn
Independent Agent, Vilig Sojet

All in a day's work
Bartak's ramblings

I’m not that skilled with words, (must’ve been those hundred years of living with bears… ) but I did want to jot down a few thoughts about our most recent adventure. That old coot who asked us to track down his package (hehe) has been nothing but trouble in my opinion. It’s like I always say, “if it’s sealed with an arcane lock, twiddle your thumbs and wait out the clock…for trouble.” The first set of thieves weren’t too much of a challenge. We took care of them swiftly and without comment. What’s that? You want to know what happened? We will not speak of it. Where are their bodies? Who said there were bodies? Now, now, that’s enough. Moving on.

Bundled in Ilios’ winter blanket, the curious box bumbled along down the road with us towards Thurmaster. It wasn’t long before we were set upon by bandits. See? Trouble! Lucky for us, Villig was able to see through the farmer’s disguise of their leader and I gleefully entered into battle with my trusty greataxe. Slicing skills gives me such joy! The bodies of our enemies piled high. I chose to fight with brutality while my comrades fought with tact. Ilios’ spiritual connection with his God was invaluable, dubious as I am of his commitment to his faith. Boy, I was peeved when Villig suggested we utilize Daba’s skilled spell-casting to squeeze one of the scum for information. He is a clever one, but my blade still thirsted for blood. However, in retrospect, it was all for the best. We gathered the deets and I put the swine out of his/my misery.

Pressing onward, nightfall ushered us to the town of Milbourn, or something like that. They’re pretty much all the same. Those tiny towns with too many people in them. Apart from my traveling companions, I don’t like to be in a crowd. I’m looking forward to settling in for an ale and a turkey leg in a dark corner somewhere. Maybe after I wash the blood from my beard. Then again, maybe not.


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