Annals of Aldamere

The Stranger and the Gunfighter
Ser Marcel, Thorne, Gabriel, Khiron, Mr. Dwight

Having little choice, Ser Marcel’s company set off into the dim twilight of the Body of Yigg, seeking escape from the wrath of necromancer Crode. Thorne seemed both thrilled to experience travels beyond, and deeply troubled at having left the object our quest, his sister-shade Chezza, to her new life. Ser Marcel was somewhat shaken as well, having been unsettled more than the rest of us by his first trip through the silvery mists. This time, however, the company had a guide, an ancestor of the Skreet, a true “snake-man”. Master Vakarn had said his people had created the portals, although they did not necessarily function as intended. Before the party could probe into the mysteries only known by such a living fossil, the mists became alive with colorful showers and bright flashes. Our guide thought to us a name for the phenomenon, a “etheric pulsar”, which he warned us to avoid. Before the party could move safely away, however, there was a great flash and dull thudding blast that threw the group asunder.

Moments later, Ser Marcel, Thorne, Olis, and Gabriel found themselves in a strange room of glowing white walls, ears still ringing from the explosion. An acrid smell of ozein filled the air, like having been too close to a lighting strike. There was no sign of Gretta, Father Aerik, or our guide. Instead, we were faced with two angry men shouting at us in some strange dialect of Hrondene and threatening us with arcane wands. After a few tense moments, the strangers introduced themselves as Khiron—a strange man festooned in metal armor with bizarre pauldrons—and a Mr. Dwight (later found to be a Mr. Earnest Dwight)—a mage of some ilk wearing a leather cloak-coat and quite eager to demonstrate the deadliness of his arcane tools.

Alas, there was no sign of the portal, our missing companions, or the quarry that Mr. Dwight and Khiron had been in the process of securing, leaving Ser Marcel’s troop with scant options but to accompany the strangers back to “Gateway City”, a town of some size. Leaving the strange room in which they arrived, a place the local folks called “Site 109”, the travel back to the city was full of wonders for Thorne and uneasy danger for the rest: A great metal wagon that moved at great speed with no yolk or beast of burden, a towering golem armed with a huge barrel-shaped wand that threatened Mr. Dwight and his property on the trip back, roads made of some poured rock, and city walls seemingly carved from immense stone (the locals spoke of ‘ferro-concrete’).

After months in Yen Enoth, it was both familiar and deeply unsettling to again be in large city full of strange wonders and noise. After taking a little time to rest and recover, the party accompanied Mr. Dwight and Khiron to meet with a local merchant-lord. The meeting did not seem to go as well as Mr. Dwight had hoped, but in the end it was decided that the fellowship assembled would seek out other places there the now-missing Professor Cartwright had researched in the hopes of finding another portal back home or perhaps finding out what became of Gretta and Father Aerik. The trail began at the Professor’s office, which provided both a great deal of information and scant solid leads as to where such “technology” might be found. His cousin, another professor, graciously agreed to make arrangements to visit Professor’s Cartwright’s abode.

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Four from Elsewhere
An Unfortunate Escape and Unexpected Arrival

Four from Elsewhere
Chapter 1: An Unfortunate Escape and Unexpected Arrival
By Khiron Vaan Ascot

Ryquist Caville had been most specific in his instructions to Mr. Dwight and I, he wanted a return on his investment from Professor Pembril Cartwright as well as the man himself dealt with, he emphasized the return on investment part. And somehow a ricocheting bullet, burnt out computer terminal, giant FWOOSH of light and Professor Pembril and his lovely assistant disappearing into who-knows-where, with all of their research notes, was not going to fit the bill.
By Meto Suway’s dark arse this mission was not going well.
First it had taken an inordinate amount of time to find the dear doctor out here in the wilds of the western jungles of Gateway City, which at least allowed me time to gather some alchemical reagents, but it used up our expense voucher as well for the most part.
Having finally found the quack his guards and workers put up enough fight to make life difficult although we finally managed to get the workers to stop shooting after the guards went down.
Making our way through the maze of collapsed buildings, tunnels and substructure, being wary of traps and the remaining guards we managed to catch up with the good Professor as he feverish manipulated controls on a computer along with his rather lovely assistant whose name I never caught.
And then the FWOOSH.
After my eyes cleared I noticed two things, first that there seemed to be four bodies at the site where previously the Professor had stood, and they looked nothing like anything I had seen before with armor that seemed right out of a museum, spears, swords and one even had a pointy hat! Were they some sort of Cosplay troupe?
Second was the fact that Mr. Dwight was busily yelling “What did you do?” at me as if I were somehow to blame for this disaster. “It is not my fault!” I replied back, which did nothing to settle him down, as it never does, but by the Founders, I was not about to let my him pin the blame on me for this disaster.
“Remember if I do not get paid for this job neither do you” he growled out in his rural twang as he made his way towards the four strangely dressed people. While this is true, the statement omits the point that I am a co-contractor with Ryquist Caville and not Mr. Dwight’s employee like the dozen or so other men he brought with us on this mission, however I let that slide for the moment.
Of the four people three were groaning and seemed to be awake, one of which proceeded to puke all over the place, the other was quite unconscious. Of the four three seemed to be male, two were heavily armored, one dressed like a wilder and the last was a woman I think dressed in lighter clothes. They also stank, badly. The styles of their clothing were right out of some Pre-Fall historical documentary vid or fantasy story. One even pointed out her magic wand which, she was sure, was something like my rifle, which I demonstrated for them, causing a great deal of odd looks.
To be honest it took some time to figure out what they were saying with all the thee’s, thou’s and whatever horrible bastardization of vowels they were using. It seemed they were travelling across “the body of Ygg when a etheric pulsar engulfed them and split their party” apparently someone named the Guide, some sort of snake man, one Father Aerik and a Gretta did not end up here, much to their consternation.
Mr. Dwight took a once over of the machinery they had used, with glowing walls and computers and pronounced it dead and proceeded to direct the men in looting it for parts. I looked around for anything else that might be helpful, journals, writings, diagrams, but came up empty, although I did find the Pembril’s food stores and supplies, which I distributed to the newcomers as they were going to need them.
After that Mr. Dwight and I discussed what to do with our new friends. He was of the initial opinion to cut them loose not seeing any good coming out of their weirdness but I had another idea, maybe, just maybe Caville might find them and their story of portals and other worlds interesting enough to not cause us to be black balled in Gateway City and forced to move on as Caville was known to do, in one of the better case scenarios for people who failed to fulfill their contracts. There were less pleasant rumors in regards to such events but let us avoid those for now.
Mr. Dwight insisted that I take responsibility for the strangers, whose names we learned were Sirmarcel and Olis were the heavily armed mean, the former with sword and shield and the latter a spear, the wilder was apparently a Priest of Squeezeme of something like that named Gabriel and the last an occultist named Thorney, and I agreed to do so as they seemed like interesting folk and there is nothing this far out in the jungle that would otherwise help him.
At that point we returned to the surface and after telling the workers their boss had deserted them and making sure he had enough of a haul to pay the mercenaries Mr. Dwight had hired we loaded up the vehicles for our return to Gateway City. I took off to do a once over of the site, which had been swallowed by the jungle and saw nothing but jungle so we mounted Mr. Dwight’s vehicle, a beast of a truck with a mini-gun on top and armored sides. He had insisted that I ride in the cab, which was very polite of him, and off we went.
Things went well after we made it back to the road until we rounded a corner and came to a screeching halt. It seems two large trucks had blocked the road and they had a large robot with them.
“Friends of yours?” I asked Mr. Dwight who proceeded to point his gun at their leader, some loud mouthed man I forgot to get the name of. Needless to say the two swapped barbs, insults and intimidating looks and threatening words until the loud mouthed man realized that Mr. Dwight did not in fact have Professor Pembril and that further chest pounding was pointless. They took off in their trucks to loot what remained of the site.
Mr. Dwight was in a dour mood for the rest of the ride and started mumbling about charging me and our new friends seating costs, mileage costs and wear-and-tear expenditures as well as ammunition costs and taxi fees. I took a nap.
We arrived in Gateway City were our companions seemed surprised by the size of the city and scope of it all, they said it was comparable to someplace called “Yen Ee Noth” but was much easier to see the entirety of, which was confusing. The guards asked for our papers and we showed them as well as acquired the paperwork for getting such for out new companions, who were listed as under my responsibility until then. After that we made our way into the darkening city as the street lights came on as we parked the Beast, found an Inn, cleaned up and got some sleep, tomorrow we would have to deal with Ryquist Caville.
Here is the long and short of it.
Caville: So where is Cartweight?
Us: He escaped.
Caville: That is most unfortunate, do you know what happens to those who fail me?
Us: Yes, but…
<insert>
Somehow the people we found got introduced to Caville and they seemed to know about where Cartweight went and … hope for the best …
New People: Portals, other worlds, Body of Ygg, etheric pulsar, rescue our friends… I am not really certain what they said as I was trying to calm things down between Mr. Dwight and I in regards to the above mention heated words, fortunately that went well as well as whatever the pretty occultist Thorney and others said to Ryquist …
Ryquist: How about a three year contract to find one of these portals?
Mr. Dwight: One month.
Ryquist: A year.
Mr. Dwight: three months.
Ryquist: Six months.
Mr. Dwight: Five and half months.
Ryquist: So it is!
The rest of us: Fine with me.
And the deal was done, finalized by paperwork Mr. Gaunt had prepared amazing quickly and we all signed. Phew, got out of that one decently, I really did not want to end up as fertilizer.
We spent some time shopping after that, filling out paperwork for Identity Cards and generally getting our new friends adjusted to life in Gateway City as well as getting them some food, which they all greatly enjoyed as “there were no tentacles anywhere” which pleased them all except Thorney who deemed the food “boring.” However Thorney seemed fascinated with Gateway City and bought herself many clothes while the others headed straight for the Armories. They all mumbled things about “a city of blacksmiths” as we got acquainted with one another. The next day we would begin our investigations into the Pembil Cartweight, but I shall let that be the end of this chapter and begin our story there next time.

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Context

This is a problem of context.

It’s in me now, whatever Crode took from her. I can feel it, and it feels very safe. It feels like a warm bed after a night in freezing rain. But… The fear is on me. Worse than it’s ever been, because I can’t find the borders anymore. There was a ragged hole where “she” had been, a savage wound festering in the center of me. Filling it was all I cared about, but now, this syrupy warmth is erasing it and I can feel her there. But it can’t be her, it’s only a seeming. A fragment. Because I left her behind, or she left me. For a body, and existence apart, a chance to learn from the master. I was saying, the borders, what separates her from me, it’s blurring again, I can feel her mind reconnecting with the parts that were left behind. I struggle to define what is and isn’t me and can’t. But why? There is no need, remember what we were. Remember.

Context. When Chezza was deepest in her studies and gave herself over to the mastery of our uncle’s art, I was lost, because I was, for the first time, alone. Leaving, I lost myself to mischief and fell in with others as adrift as I. I lied for a living because I couldn’t think of anything better and because they admired me for it. I didn’t need the money we took, I needed context. I made sense in contrast to who I had been and who they were. I hated it. I hated them and myself, and those who were weak or foolish enough to be our victims. The truth is when I heard the shrieking of her mind across the psychic gulf, calling for help, calling me back home, I felt… relief. Because she needed me, my twin, my mirror, needed me, I meant something again. I left the charlatan’s life behind without a thought. I got up from our camp and started walking, abandoning my watch and saying nothing. I was scarcely aware of their sleeping forms as I crept out from our camp, never to return.

Or was it her who returned to me? She said that she remembered dying, but I remember it also.

When I returned, when I saw the ruin that was my childhood home, I knew what had been done. Her his? spirit came to me, immediately. There was no hesitation, there was just a brief moment when we were apart, and then we weren’t. Everything made sense then. Context. Before we were born, we were one. We started existence as one thing, one context, and somehow, that being was split in two. I like to think that we needed to be separate to understand what it meant to be reunited.

Chezza had a clarity of purpose, an ambition that I couldn’t imagine. Magic was what she was made for, and she tirelessly pursued it. She was made to learn and to practice her craft to perfection. But she was brittle, inflexible, and devoid of one thing that all truly great mages posses: Improvisation, which I had in spades. I was fluid, but unfocused. I was endlessly creative and inquisitive, but couldn’t bother with anything for more than a fleeting moment. I was extroverted, where she could barely express emotion or tolerate the presence of others. I was emotional, where she was placid. We were everything the other wasn’t.

The moment our spirits touched, everything made sense. Her magic, my fluidity, her focus, my charisma, all served the whole. We were happy, and whole and in love with each other and the universe. We wept at the beauty of existence. She wasn’t a ghost possessing a body, she was an equal part of a once sundered being, restored. No matter what anyone says, our union was Natural. It was supposed to happen.

When the rat took her from me, it was like dying. It felt like dying. The absence screamed to be filled. I hate him for it still, even after seeing his ignoble fate. But… context. It seems incumbent upon us to start speaking from a remove. Alright, Erasmus was a shiftless blackguard, a lazy confidence man. He was no Mage. He had no talent for magic, no focus for mastering his craft, any craft, much less the arcane. But in the seeming absence of Chezza, he did just that. His talent grew and he learned the arts of the vile horned rat who had stolen so much from them. He became what he needed to bridge the impossible gulf between them and honed his skills for the inevitable confrontation. But necessity shouldn’t have been enough to allow him to master the arcane. He should have been stripped of that, just as he was stripped of her. But he wasn’t. This might indicate the inefficient skill of the rat who took Chezza away, a crude knife, excising most of what is useful, but leaving behind some essential, functional vestiges. Or, put another way, the being that was Thorne kept what it needed in order to thrive, whether deliberately, or through happenstance.

Which brings us to memory. That is what Crode claimed to return to me. Chezza’s memories. But what are we, if not the sum of our experience. He offered it as a pittance, but his understanding, I think, was incomplete. I have Chezza’s memories, of before, of her time with the rat, even some of her time with the master. But, I can feel the connection between what I was given and what she left behind, the crude stump from the savage knife of Zakakirzgig. There is context there, there is connection and sympathy. If I was left with what Chezza could do before, I have now been given what Chezza is. This is no semblance of my sister, we are no shadow of what we were. I have grown in her absence, just as she has grown in mine. But this, is me. You are her. I feel like her. I think I would know if you weren’t. We will not mourn.

We feel whole. But what have we left behind. What is she? If what I have been given has rekindled itself into the shape of my beloved, then what is this being who we left behind. One presumes Crode did not leave her an amnesiac. She must also have memory, and he claimed to take a piece of me in exchange for what he gave me of her, though I cannot feel it’s absence. Are there now two of us? Are we the same? We cannot fathom what the price of this reunion will be, but we care not, any price would be fair. We are Thorne, and we are restored. Some day, we will return for what we left behind, and sunder he who dared to separate us.

Last, speaking of price, we will never have the measure of the debt we owe our fellows. Gretta, Marcel, Gabriel, Olis and Aerik, finer friends were never had by anyone.

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Reunion and Sequestration
Marcel, Olis, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel, Aerik

In the middle of the disturbing cave of not-quite-trees stood a strange mansion guarded by tentacled beast straight out of man’s deepest and darkest dreams. Ser Marcel’s men had little choice to but to face the beast in order to seek the mysteries—and hopefully find the missing Thorne—beyond. Wary and uncertain, the company tried to split the attention of the beast by coming from three directions, but Father Aerik’s attempt to sneak past the beast was an act of faith that as not rewarded although by some miracle he wriggled freed of it’s grasp before he succumb to it’s crushing strength. Olis sought to land the first blow, but was soon trapped by the creature as well. Ser Marcel fought mightily to aid him, while Gretta and Gabriel did what they could to hastened the beast’s end. Thorne, in a state of desperation and frustration to reach his sister’s shade, was distracted with strange notions of sneaking past the beast covered in the filth of the cave. Ultimately, it was blade, arrow, and arcane fire that drove the creature back to it’s lair, and only luck that released Olis from it’s deathly embrace.

Within was a house of ancient opulence driven by megalomania, as it seemed to be the home of the ancient necromancer, Endruthian Crode, still clinging to the glory days of his lost Ebon Council. Within the ‘audience chamber’ we found Zakakyrzig, or rather the shell of the horned rat who was now fully possessed by a demon put there by the foul wizard. The creature babbled on after claiming that Chezza’s spirit was now bound to the necromancer, leaving the party to push forward in the hopes of finding more information before a confrontation with some likely-also-possessed bull beastman.

The company quickly came upon a bound and arcanely chained ancestor of the Skreet, one of the true race that Master Vakarn said had created the portal he used to send us to Yen Enoth some months ago. With little time and some trepidation, Gabriel beseeched the blessed St Juljeta to free the creature from it’s ancient bindings, freeing it from endless torture at the hands of Crode. While unable to speak it’s alien language, Gabriel’s act of freeing it along with Thorne’s tending to it’s wounds had gained some level of trust, and it lead the party quickly away from danger through some ‘teleportation’ device, and then into the realm of another misty portal—what the Skreet had pronounced upon our arrival in Yen Enoth as The Body of Yigg.

Within the mists, the creature was able to communicate and thus learned of our mission, allowing us to return in the hopes of finding Chezza before being taken off to some homeland far beyond the West or even the East as we knew it. Thorne entreated a spirit of the ancient pre-Skreet to aid him, and thus we returned through the teleporter to parlay with Crode and his Iron Bull.

As the mission was and had always been Thorne’s quest, the company trusted him to see it through and awaited his lead. Leaving to discuss the matter with Crode and his spirit-sister Chezza who was indeed present and willing to become Crode’s both apprentice and bride, the company waited warily staring at the two demon-possessed creatures in Crode’s service.

After some time, Thorne returned seemingly both relieved and distraught, and told us that Chezza was to stay as she in the end desired her own mortal form rather than continue to exist as only spirit bound to her brother’s mind. While true to the technicalities of his word, Crode having satisfied himself the victor of the matter of Chezza immediately rescinded his hospitality and sought our deaths. With Throne’s ally, however, the inevitable betrayal was short-lived as the teleporter quickly whisked them to safety.

The company, however, was left stuck in an ancient temple dedicated to beastmen, and no path back to Yen Enoth. After some deliberation and little choice, the party set forth again into the mists of Yigg. While the prisoner we freed was indeed able to guide Ser Marcel, Olis, Gabriel, and Thorne through the Body of Yigg to some place beyond, Father Aerik and Gretta were lost to their own fates.

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The Magpie

As the path narrows, my skepticism grows. I find myself afraid. I know that just ahead lies something. An end? It should be her, or at least the corpse of the wretched horned rat that stole her away. He of the ominous name but small reputation. We should have been bold when first we met and laid him low. It was our interest that made us spare him, our coveting of his imagined power, mysterious and shiny, like tinsel to a magpie. He was less than he seemed, but became more than he was because of the power that he stole. I shudder to find his corpse and no sign of her. I tremble at the thought of what I will become if she is lost. Madness is certain, for this faint thread of hope is all that staves off that slavering beast, howling from the periphery.

If you ask my companions, It has found me already. They may be right. They say I am mad because I am drawn to this place, this city whose foundations are the unquiet dead, who’s mortar and bricks are spirit. Such a place where such a being as me might, in the right light, be seen as boring, commonplace, unremarkable. I can feel the proximity of possibility. Doors to unimaginable vistas yawning just out of my vision. It is a cruel thing that I am robbed the joy of any dalliances with this singular place because I cannot bear any moment of pleasure, however fleeting, until I am We once more. No matter what anyone thinks, the being we were was fated, perfect, true. We were better as one, and we will be one again, lest we become none.

The necropolis awaits, we have our guide, we know our destination, the trail lies before us. This must be the moment. It must!

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The Monochromatic Death Forest
Marcel, Olis, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel, Aerik

As the blinding flash of light faded and the vision of those of Ser Marcel‘s company returned, the party found themselves in a stone dungeon, with a grate up above. Gretta noticed an active summoning of some kind in the room, and thus with some haste Father Aerik used his purchase from the rat skeller to provide a rope. Gabriel and Thorne’s fox tried to work out how to open the grate, and shortly thereafter a demon appeared.

After a brief fight that drove off the demon with powerful blows from Olis’ eerie spear, the party ascended to find the remains of a number of ancient noble folk who apparently had given themselves up to a death cult. Further exploring revealed a temple to a death god, one that had been crafted with ancient dweomers and long forgotten. More recent activity was evident as someone had taken up residence in the place after the original crafters had perished. No living creature as found, although the preserved bodies of a woman and a few others were present captured in containers of liquid.

With no clear indication of how to escape or find the way out of the complex, Ser Marcel’s party descended in a lift to a huge cave below the temple. The cave was filled with disturbingly shaped, bone-white ‘trees’ which appear to have been planted in a field of corpses. Exploring the reaches of the cavern, the party noted a central structure and headed in to investigate in the hopes of finding some clue as to the location of Thorne’s missing sister-spirit.

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I am from Punt
Marcel, Olis, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel, Aerik

The late evening of shenanigans at the Staggering Hedgehog was followed by an early and sudden awakening with the sounds of explosions outside in the street. After a few moments of alarm and confusion, Ser Marcel’s party discovered that the new day was a city holiday, something about eggs and coneys. The party decided that Saint Aud would be quite annoyed at the festival, which the locals claimed to be the new year—such a calendar is yet more proof that the men of the East are insane.

The source of the noise turned out to be children who were setting fire to little balls that would then bang with a great sonance. They looked quite dangerous, so naturally they piqued Thorne’s interest. The “fireworks” as they were called were sold by annually visiting merchants from a land called “Punt”.

As agreed with the Delver, Kristin, we arranged to visit the Necropolis that evening to seek out the crypt of Marthos Phail—our only real clue to the whereabouts of the cursed horned rat. After spending a few hours in preparation, the company head in with Kristin as our guide.

The Necropolis was a subterranean structure, full of dire traps and wards, but we made our way fairly directly to the 4th level based on the research notes. A great stone golem attacked us as we neared the final bend, which the party was able to destroy after some effort. Throne had managed to envigor the local spirits in the battle, who took a very unhealthy interest in Olis.

Upon arriving at the crypt, Father Aerik was able to work the lock mechanism to allow us to gain entry, only to find an empty room. As Gretta and Gabriel ventured in to examine the room, the party followed on with Kristin and Aerik in the back. Just as a great flash occurred, Kristin shoved Aerik into the room which was shortly thereafter empty once again.

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Ghost Bar Cook Off!
Thorne, Gretta, Gabrial, Aerik, Borz

While Ser Marcel and his company had been visiting the Rat Skeller of Yen Enoth, Gretta spent some time at the Celestrium researching—or was it flirting with librarians—and found a few more leads on the nature of the city’s Necropolis. After hearing about the bureaucracy that managed the Necropolis, Thorne suggested the party attempt to locate a low-level clerk in a tavern or a bar.

After some asking about, the company were lead to The Rude Double Entendre, a bar frequented by the low-level clerks of interest and serving a disturbing selection of “amoeba milk cheese”—no discussion was had of how one ‘milks’ an amoeba. With some talking up of the regulars, a young clerk that worked in the correct department told tales of the “Delvers” who helped them get inside the Necropolis with some level of safety when needed. Unable to find a more direct route, the party set off to another bar in hopes of running into some of these “Delvers”.

Thus the evening continued at the Staggering Hedgehog, a rather seedier establishment which featured numerous interesting characters: large number of card players engaged in a game called Dalmudi, a sick bartender upstairs, an unruly and in some cases absent waitstaff, a replacement bartender who hated everyone, and a cook who was failing to control the kitchen. To top this all off, Thorne discovered a great spirit, that went by the name Chopster, of the place who himself was quite upset at the goings-on.

After much shenanigans, including Thorne, Aerik, and Gabriel failing to fight an out of control blaze that Gretta quenched almost instantly, Gabriel getting rather burned to the point of calling upon the aid of St. Luljeta, and Thorne binding some poor, sad ghost of a saucier, the party satisfied the demands of Chopster by helping keep the bar under control for the night. Thorne looked in on the sick bartender as well, and secured the future aid of a “Delver” by the name Kristin who would be able to lead the party with hopefully some measure of safety into the correct area of the Necropolis to follow our next lead…

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#RatLivesMatter
Marcel, Olis, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel, Aerik

The trail of clues pointed Ser Marcel’s men to visit the Rat Skeller in Yen Enoth to find the missing “freelance librarian” Theocratus. Thorne enlisted Geytha to provide some ‘native costume’ for the party to endear us to the ratfolk, but it left most of the company feeling even more awkward.

After some asking about, we located the apartment and were let in by the land-lady—or perhaps land-rat?—to discoverer a gruesome sight. The ratman librarian had been mounted to the ceiling and then dismembered. The door and windows were locked, so it seemed likely to be some supernatural killer. Searching the scene, Gabriel found some books and other research notes which later confirmed the areas of interest to Zakakyrzig. The notes mostly eliminated various locations where a particular person of note was not buried.

With a few more hours of asking around, a ratfolk pointed the party to the location of the horned rat at another block of apartments. There was no sign of Zak, his remains or the spirit of Thorne’s sister, but we were able to find notes to the true burial location of Marthos Fail. While at the apartment, some dangerous spirit attacked Thorne and put a hideous transformation spell upon the ratman apartment manager who attacked the party as a monstrous rat. Thorne was able to drive off the spirit in combat, but the transformed ratman continued his attack. Ser Marcel, Olis, and Father Aerik fought back the beast until Gabriel was able to beseech the aid of St Belarion who dispelled the foul magic from the poor creature.

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Of mycology and men
Marcel, Olis, Gretta, Thorne, Gabriel, Aerik

With the rescue of the fisher merchants young son, Ser Marcel and his company were invited to attend the “river wedding”. Ser Marcel, unfortunately, took ill the eve of the event. Father Aerik and Gabriel kept Ser company, while Thorne attended enthusiastically along with Gretta—not one to miss a good party—and Olis.

Late the following morning, Thorne woke up screaming (again) disturbing Gretta who was still somewhat hung-over from the previous night’s over-indulgence. When zir came to hir’s senses, Thorne spoke of some recently broken connection to his sister’s spirit or perhaps to foul Zakakyrzig. What the company most got out of this discussion was that Zakakyrzig might no longer be in the city perhaps having left through some portal.

Later that day, Hawkwood contacted Ser Marcel to discuss a matter related to the horned rat, and spoke of him having hired a clerk, Fogotis, to do some research into city records. The clerk is said to be a ‘mushroom man’, but it wasn’t clear to the Westerners what exactly that meant. After some hours of tracking down the correct forms, the party descended into the “Underclerkage” to meet with Fogotis.

The dank and dark workspace was unnerving, but the “mushroom man” who claimed to be a freelance clerk provided the company with a number of leads on burial plots that the horned ratman was researching, and learned of another ratman “freelance researcher” that was with him, all at somewhat exorbitant rates. As the party was leaving the “Underclerkage”, Gabriel noticed a strange trail that lead to the recently deceased body of the clerk manager. It was unclear if the timing of her murder was mere coincidence, but with little to no leads on the matter the company made haste lest they get caught up in some local constabulary investigation.

Heading to the Celistarium, the party tried to track down the second ratman, Krastus, but he had been missing a few days. Finally speaking to the Timekeepers and the Keepers of Time, the party obtained one last clue into the interests of Zakakyrzig within the city.

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