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  1. #1
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default Stormreach Investigations

    Welcome to the latest spinoff from the D&D on DDO (https://www.ddo.com/forums/showthrea...ght=Dnd+on+DDO) thread started by intruder1.

    This group met and started adventuring together this week and plans to meet regularly to see where the game and associated stories take us.

    Enjoy!

  2. #2
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default The Miller's Debt

    Ashja went down to the common room to break her fast. She sat at the same table she had shared with Morhirr and Fynnwyn the day before, only this time her back was to the wall. She had a fairly good view of the common room.

    She thought about what she should do this day. She certainly needed to learn her way around the Harbor. She needed to find more clothing, she was getting tired of wearing her armor all the time. Besides, she needed to get it repaired, and get her weapons sharpened as well. What she really wanted was one of the lightweight outfits she had worn during her sparring lessons with the monks. It was much easier for her to stay balanced than when she wore the leather armor.

    After a satisfying meal, she left the tavern with a spring in her step and a goal in her mind. The first stop was to find clothing that didn't make her look like a beggar. She wandered up to the Harbormaster's Plaza and happened upon a tax collector by the name of Berrigan Enge who was looking for someone, anyone, to help him collect a debt.

    Why not? she thought. I haven't found the armorer yet.

    She approached the man and offered her services. The task seemed simple enough; search the house, find the goods for the tax, and deliver them to Master Enge. Just the kind of job Ashja liked. Slick, quick, and simple.

    She entered the house and searched it from top to bottom. No miller. No goods. The only place left to search was the basement. And it reminded her of the training house she had had to endure when she had first been adopted by the cult. Dark, dank, dangerous.

    She crept through the darkness using her ears and the air on her skin to guide her steps. She closed her eyes. They were mostly useless in the blackness of the basement anyway. Carefully, she placed one foot in front of the other, her mind slipping back in time.

    **********
    The darkness was total. She could hear, smell, taste, feel. But she could not see. She closed her eyes. They were useless in the darkness of the tunnel. She heard the mechanical sentries and drew her blades. She smelled the oil that coated their bodies, tasted it when one passed close by. The air around her shifted and she struck out with her sword, once, twice and it no longer moved, a pool of oil creeping toward her feet. Best get moving before it soaked into her boots and made her footprints visible. She sheathed her weapons and hoped the noise of the skirmish hadn't attracted more mechanical sentries. Or worse yet, a guard.

    She wondered if Brother Varn realized she was gone for good. She was supposed to be performing her morning rituals, doing her morning chores, then on to the training house. Instead, she had donned her armor and belted on her weapons under her robe and hurried out of the monastery. Her boots would have given her away had anyone looked. It was a good thing she was diligent about her morning duties, otherwise her early departure might have been noticed. She figured she had a two-hour start. If her luck held, she would get a four-hour head start before Brother Varn noticed she had fled.

    Ashja pulled out her bow and nocked an arrow, another held in reserve. She moved with her back to the wall, senses stretched into the darkness. This time she smelled it before she heard it. She pulled the string on her bow, aiming at the sound. *Thwack, thwack, thud* Two down. Putting away her bow, she crept forward.

    She knew what would happen if she were caught. She shuddered. But she had to get away to find out how far the evil had spread. What she had overheard Brother Varn say the evening before she left had turned her blood to ice. The Eldrid Brotherhood was planning assassinations of high-level government officials! Most especially those officials who resisted or opposed the spread of their sacred doctrine into secular affairs.

    She cocked her head to one side and crept ahead. Two more mechanical sentries approached. Drawing her blades, she backed herself into a corner and waited. The sentries paced the tunnel where she had just been, closing in on her scent. In moments, they attacked. Her blades flashed, striking metal. She searched for the joints, the weak spots of the mechanical devices.

    Oil splashed across her hands, making her weapons slippery and hard to hold. She reacted as the monks had taught. She sheathed her weapons, centered herself, and attacked with a series of throws and twists that tore the joints releasing the precious fluid. The sentries lay motionless. Opening her eyes, she saw a dim light in the distance.

    **********
    Ashja followed the trail of broken crystal lamps that still gave off faint light. She found the miller and convinced him to settle his debt. She returned to Master Enge with the miller's payment, and asked him for directions to the nearest armorer. He directed her to the Hammer and Chain. She finished her errands and returned to the inn, a lot on her mind.

  3. #3
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default Arachnophobia

    Arachnophobia

    Ashja relaxed for a few days after helping Master Enge collect his debt. She was on her way to earning a good reputation with the Coin Lords of Stormreach. It was always a good thing to keep in the good graces of the city council. As much as she wanted to stay invisible, she knew that her presence had already been noted. So, she did what any sensible adventurer would do. She went looking for adventure.

    When her funds dwindled, she asked around for a new contract. She found Berne Jorn outside his family crypt and agreed to help him clear out a nest of spiders that had taken over the structure in the recent heavy rains. Although not particularly fond of spiders, Ashja agreed to the job. Jorn added that she would get a bonus if she didn't break any of the sarcophagi. She entered the crypt.

    **********
    The smell hit her as soon as she entered the door. Dust, decay, death. And something that didn't belong. Ashja heard skittering sounds echo through the darkness of the tunnels and the hair on her arms prickled. She loosened her blades and strung her bow. There was no way around it, she had to go through the crypt to reach the forest.

    She had tried the main underground passage, but it had been locked with a heavy lock and she lacked the tools and the skill to be able to get past the complex mechanism. She suspected it was mage-locked and only hoped whoever put it there wouldn't be able to tell that someone had tried to open it. She hadn't thought of that when she had tried to pick the lock with her newly-learned skills.

    She knew exactly when the lock had gone on the gate. Two years before, Brother Varn had almost caught her coming out of the door that lead to the tunnels. She had just closed the door and taken two steps down the hall when he came around the corner. Ashja knew she must have looked as startled as he had. The next time she went down to the tunnels, the gate had been locked.

    Ashja had been planning her escape from the cult since she had been brought in at the age of twelve. She had used what little free time she had had to explore the monestary and its grounds in detail. She knew those passages forward and backward. She had traveled those tunnels so often in the past few years that she could find her way out with her eyes closed. In fact, she had done just that in the weeks leading up to her escape.

    She crept deeper into the darkness. The skittering sounds grew closer.

    **********
    When Ashja exited the Jorn family crypt, she was sad to report that three sarcophagi were broken in the fighting. Jorn looked at her suspiciously. On the other hand, he *did* tell her there were no giant spiders in the crypt when he must have suspected otherwise. With that, they settled the contract amicably enough.

    Back to the inn she paid for a bath and thought about her situation here in Stormreach. Was she far enough away from the cult? Was she safe? Would she ever feel safe again?

    The Leaky Dinghy seemed the perfect place to lay low and find simple contracts around the Harbor. Even though she had the coin to move to the Wayward Lobster, Ashja's instincts told her that the Dinghy was the better choice for the moment. She needed to get the feel of the city. To learn who was in charge and where the potential dangers lie. She needed to act as though she were any other newly arrived adventurer. Technically speaking, she was just that, but she wanted -- no, needed -- to make sure she was safe from discovery should the cult catch wind of her arrival in Stormreach and send someone after her.
    Last edited by Aeryyn; 04-30-2014 at 08:23 PM. Reason: Minor spelling, grammar, and timeline corrections.

  4. #4
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default Osgood's Basement

    Ashja spent the next few days getting familiar with the Harbor district and meeting with Fynnwynn and Morhirr. They introduced her to an elf named Essrynn and a human named Windchill. Essrynn ("call me Ess") carried her lute with pride and continually tuned and strummed the instrument. She had a jaunty air about her and could not sit still. When they were outside, Essrynn always drew a crowd when she practiced her tumbling and acrobatic moves. Windchill (Essrynn called her 'Chill) was more reserved. Ashja was wary of the human's holy symbol, so kept her distance.

    On Ashja's eleventh day in Stormreach, she was sharing a meal with Essrynn and Windchill when a very large, soft spoken man in full plate armor entered the tavern. The three watched as Hammond Greene, the barkeep, practically chased the man out of the bar.

    Earlier that day, Ashja had talked to Shir Clowenks d'Phairlan, who was deep in his cups. He needed help to recover an artifact of value to House Phairlan. The recovery needed a stealthy touch. She was discussing the potential job with Essrynn and Windchill and they both commented that having a warrior in full plate and those two-handed weapons might be helpful on that job. With that, Ashja slid from her seat and went out after the big warrior.

    "Pardon me," she said as she caught up with the man. She was startled to see that he was younger than his white hair made him appear. The wicked scar across his left cheek left sent a slight shudder through her, and he reeked of good. "I couldn't help but overhear that you are new to Stormreach and looking for work."

    "Aye," he said, mildly.

    "And you have experience in recovering, er... lost... goods?" she asked quietly.

    "Aye," he said again.

    "If you are interested, my friends and I could use a warrior such as yourself."

    "Aye," he said and turned to follow her back into the tavern.

    On the way in, Ashja motioned to the serving girl to bring another special and a mug of mead to their table. She introduced herself to the tall man.

    "Good afternoon, ladies. I am called Waldhorn," he said as they reached the table where Essrynn and Windchill waited. Windchill sat a little straighter in her seat when Waldhorn joined them.

    After the introductions were finished, the group discussed the job until the serving girl brought out Walhorn's meal and mug. Ashja was uncomfortable with the number of holy symbols at the table, but there was nothing she could do about it now. She would just have to keep her past to herself and try not to give anything away.

    An hour or so after Waldhorn finished his meal, the party left the tavern for Osgood's Basement. Their mission was to recover an artifact for House Phiarlan without alerting the city guard.

  5. #5
    2015 DDO Players Council Hazelnut's Avatar
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    Post Curissa's Story

    Curissa's Story

    Silhouetted in the doorway of the Leaky Dingy, the second seediest tavern in Stormreach, stood the sleight figure of a female elf backlit by the azure sky of the late afternoon. Her perfect posture and the air of confidence she exuded made her appear regal, almost arrogant. That was, until the door closed and eyes again adjusted to the gloom of the tavern's lights. The contrast mellowed and the outline of a royal gown became a patched and worn apprentices' robe. Nothing more than another of the refugees, like so many in the common room.

    The faces that had turned to see what beauty was to grace their presence went back to their drinks and chat. She was just another of the desperate refugees that crowded this establishment every time a ship made it through from Korthos. She would learn soon enough that whatever royal lineage she claimed was worthless in Sormreach.

    As curious heads turned back to their own troubles and drinks, Hammond Greene, the bartender, leaned across the bar and whispered to a pair on the end in a conspiratorial tone and then he laughed at his own joke. The white haired knight said nothing and the young woman in tattered leather only smiled back before the bartender was rushing to fill another mug for a paying customer.

    Curissa de Noisette stood in the doorway of the dockside bar letting the door close behind her. Carefully masking her nervousness while simultaneously working to suppress the crackles of electricity that crawled under her skin she slowly surveyed the common room. It was filling with a crowd of rough individuals. Labourers from the docks, sailors from the ships in the harbour, and judging by the piles of armour and well maintained weapons either this was the preferred watering hole of the town guard or Stormreach had a higher population of adventurers than she thought was normal, or possibly both.

    Not the sort of establishment she would have preferred but it did come recommended. Granted it was recommended by the second in command of a small cargo ship that had been stuck wallowing in the the Korthos harbour until very recently, but it was a recommendation of good food at reasonable prices by someone Curissa now counted as, if not entirely a friend, at least trustworthy. Surveying the common room she noted it was remarkably like the Wavecrest Tavern on Korthos Island except it was considerably bigger and marginally less crowded.

    Suddenly aware that she was doing it again, standing there projecting her holier-than-thou attitude like she owned the entire city, Curissa forcibly relaxed her posture and stepped towards an opening at the bar. Carefully hiding her hands behind her back she snapped her fingers to release pent up energy, sending a small spray of harmless blue sparks behind her toward the closed door and hoped nobody noticed.

    "Pardon me good sir," began Curissa as she tried to get the bartender's attention, "I would very much appreciate a glass of fresh fruit juice and a bowl of vegetable soup."

    The man behind the bar appraised her slowly and said gruffly, "we don't give charity here", before folding his arms across his chest and taunting the arrogant elf with his eyes.

    A literal spark of anger flashed across Curissa's eyes, she stood taller in her most commanding pose and opened her mouth about to give this commoner a good tongue lashing. Then she thought better of it. Her eyes softened, but only a bit, and she reached into a small empty looking purse tucked inside her skirts and carefully pulled out 2 gold coins. Placing them daintily on the bar she calmly sat at a stool that had just been vacated and began fussing with her patched robe.

    Last edited by Hazelnut; 03-25-2014 at 04:08 PM.
    Zyinniah Hazelnut and Curissa Hazelnut on most servers.

  6. #6
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default Information is Key

    As Ashja, Essrynn, Windchill, and Waldhorn prepared to leave the Leaky Dinghy, Ashja noticed a ramrod straight, yet sleight figure enter the tavern and hesitate in the dimness. She noticed the worn clothing and hungry look that she knew she herself had worn when she had first arrived in Stormreach. She bared her teeth at Hammond's jest about "new meat". Another refugee had arrived on the shores of Xen'drik. Ashja's mind drifted to her own first day just a couple short weeks ago. She hoped the new arrival would be able to find work as easily as she herself had.

    On the way to Osgood's Basement, Ashja put the new arrival out of her mind. Her thoughts turned to the job at hand. They needed to recover the artifact case without alerting the city guard. The group entered the basement and found a mechanical sentry guarding the entrance.

    **********
    She exited the crypt through a crumbled area of the outer wall. An earthquake had damaged the wall and time had completed the job. As she climbed out of the break in the wall, she heard a familiar mechanical sound. She froze. After a few moments, the sound moved away and she continued her slow egress from the crevice. She carefully picked her way in the opposite direction the sound had taken.

    She was outside. She could smell the pines, hear the wind rustle through the trees. She moved toward the trees, several hundred yards to the west, glad that the moons were mostly dark. The stars shone brightly. She found the familiar pointer star and turned her eyes south. She could see the vague outline of the Lightning Rail and remembered the map Brother Varn had shown her. South was the Brey River. Across the Brey River was Breland and safety. She hoped.

    Ashja climbed down an embankment and dropped into a shallow stream a dozen or so yards into the forest. She followed the stream roughly south. In the dim moonlight, she could see the conductor stones of the Lightning Rail draw a thin line in the earth to the west of the Thornwood forest. Her boots were sodden when four turns later she reached the banks of the Brey River. A mechanical sentry and two humans guarded the ford. The sky was beginning to lighten. She had been travelling for almost twenty-four turns. She was exhausted, but could not risk resting until she passed into Breland.

    She moved within bowshot of the guards and waited. After a time, one of the guards walked a little away from the others and Ashja steadied herself and shot at him. She hit him in the leg and he yelled out, putting the other guard and the sentry on alert. She shot two more arrows in rapid succession before he fell to the ground and was silent. By that time, the other guard and the sentry had figured out where the shots were coming from and rushed the tree where she stood firing arrows. Her blades were in her hands by the time the guard and sentry arrived.

    She stood with her knees flexed, her back to the bole of the tree. She ducked to the right and struck the guard lunging at her in the leg as his blade struck the place where her neck had been. The mechanical sentry snapped at the air her left arm had just vacated. The half-elf rolled to the side and sprung to her feet, putting the bole of another tree at her back as the guard and sentry recovered and lunged for her again. The guard was having a hard time putting weight on his left leg, she noticed. She feinted to her left, rolled to her right, and shot to her feet just to the left and behind the guard, plunging both of her blades into his unprotected back. The move cost her, though. The mechanical sentry whirled and lunged, narrowly missing her throat as she tried to pull her blades from the dying man. The weight of the golem knocked her away, her off-hand blade sticking in the corpse.

    Ashja back-pedaled until she felt the roots of another tree under her boots. She backed into the trunk, her sword raised, eyes scanning for the weak spots in its joints. She dodged and parried its attacks until she finally managed to land a fatal blow. Panting and bleeding from a dozen small cuts, Ashja limped over to the dead guard and retrieved her off-hand blade.

    She looked across the river. To Breland.

    **********
    The sun peeked over the horizon as the party exited Osgood's Basement and made their way back to the Leaky Dinghy, the artifact case tucked safely in Ashja's backpack. Shir d'Phairlan waited impatiently for them. She turned the artifact case over to him and, with his profuse thanks, he handed over a bag of coin and gems.

    Ashja trudged up to her room, exhausted. Her purse was heavy once again.
    Last edited by Aeryyn; 04-22-2014 at 09:47 PM. Reason: Minor spelling and consistency corrections.

  7. #7
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default Secrets and Recoveries

    Ashja slept most of the following day. When she finally stumbled down to the common room, Hammond was serving the dinner special. She asked for a bath then went back up to her room to retrieve fresh clothing.

    She soaked in the bath for a while, thinking about the events that lead her to Stormreach. She wished she could talk to Evyn about all that had happened. She missed him beyond words. He had been like a brother to her after she was taken in by the cult. Now he was dead.

    She felt guilty that she hadn't been there when he needed her. He had always been there for her. But she had failed him. No matter that he had told her to lay low and act like she knew nothing. He had known that if the brothers thought she knew anything, they would torture and kill her. She knew that now too, but it didn't alleviate the guilt.

    She was alone again, just like she was after her family had been slaughtered. The cult was never her family, no matter how much the brothers and sisters tried to tell her differently. Only Evyn ever came close to that definition. He had reminded Ashja of her older brother the first time she had seen him. He had that same lopsided grin and quirky laugh. Evyn had later told her that she reminded him of his younger sister. He got a sad look when he talked about his sister. Probably the same look she had whenever she thought about her family.

    Her life had changed tremendously since she had escaped the cult and arrived in Stormreach. She had the beginnings of friendship with Essrynn, Windchill, and Waldhorn. They didn't seem to care where she had come from or who she might have been in the past. What mattered to them was that she could handle the locks and traps that confronted them whenever they were adventuring.

    She was still wary of the holy symbols, though. And it was hard not to confide in the paladin, considering the aura he exuded, but Ashja kept her guard up when she was around him. She had noticed the medallion that Waldhorn wore, the Hunter of the Dead. His scars were horrendous and she wondered what could have gotten close enough to him to wound him so badly. After all, she had seen him fight.

    Despite finding all manner of items, gems, and coins hidden below the streets, she was getting tired of crawling around the sewers of the Harbor. The stench was permeating her skin. She added a touch of the scented oil she had bought the previous week to her bath water, hoping that would help. She didn't think she was ever going to get the smell out of her armor.

    An hour later, refreshed, Ashja entered the common room. She felt static in the air and saw the elf in the shabby robes enter the tavern. She joined Essrynn and Windchill as they enjoyed a meal and dueling bards. Neither nameless bard was as proficient on the lute as Essrynn, though the elf was hesitant to join the competition because she was still bruised from the night before. And after awhile, Waldhorn joined them at their table. He told them about a fellow named Durk (the guy seemed pretty deranged) in the Harbormaster's Plaza who kept bragging about a secret. He had also been talking to Garrison Felmar near the Hammer and Chain. The group decided that the next morning, they would head up to the Harbormaster's Plaza and find out Durk's secret.

    The next day, the party headed out early and found out that, indeed, Durk did know a secret. They found a very nice bow in one of the chests in the sewer and gave it to Ashja. The following day, they climbed into the scavenger's warren and retrieved Garrison Felmar's tools. Ashja found a pair of boots and a ring in the warren.

    The party was getting better at working together. Essrynn's songs protected the group. Windchill's deity healed the group. Waldhorn's sword destroyed the enemies. Ashja's arrows disrupted the magic users.

    The group took the next few days off. They needed the rest and their gear needed care and repair.

  8. #8
    Community Member Fricko's Avatar
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    Default Waldhorn arrives in Stormreach

    =

    Private Investigator - Stormreach

    Hammond Greene looked up from polishing a freshly washed ale tankard when the door to the Leaky Dinghy Tavern opened. The barkeep exchanged a knowing wink with the Spirit Binder, Brother Calloway, as the entry was blocked by a tall, wide shouldered silhouette in plate armor that hesitated to allow his eyes to adjust to the dim light. Hammond could smell the empty coin purse and raw newcomer aura from where he stood behind the bar. It was not unusual to draw such a consumer when you ran a dockside tavern that stood on tall stilts, so as to be seen by every sailor and copperless traveler before they ever put a foot on shore. He'd heard every sad tale a cognitive mind could come up with, every horrid misadventure that a world both ancient and new could deliver, as to why a free meal and a drink or two would be a kindness. At least the newcomer would provide a break from the boredom that arrived every afternoon before the rowdies and brawlers showed up for their dinner, drinks, and dice at the tables in the back. The tale would be heard, before Hammond bluntly informed him that charity was not part of the establishments name.

    The man appeared quite old at first glance, but a closer look belied that impression. The white hair and beard, along with a cruel scar across his left cheek, put years on him that he did not yet own. His blue eyes were steady, looking around the bar with a caution born of experience. Hammond saw Brother Calloway motion toward the small emblem on a chain around the strangers neck, a common religious emblem generally worn by a specialist Paladin, known as a Hunter of the Dead. He also wore an embossed ring displaying a field of blue, with the red dragon perched atop a white cloud, representing the Goddess Dol Arrah. The Spirit Binder, as a worshiper of The Silver Fame himself, had lost his earlier expression of amusement, and now wore one that could indicate a bit of grudging respect, as the armored newcomer's aura of good swept over them.

    "Good afternoon, sir. I am called Waldhorn, new to Stormreach, and seeking work in reburial services, or other duties that require strength of mind, body, and soul." His kind voice was soft and deep.

    "I'm a barkeep, not an employment agency!" Hammond snorted, with a dismissive shake of his head. "I can get you a meal and a drink.. for coin..., but a job of work you'll have to find elsewhere."

    "Well... in the past, I have worked as a... a... private investigator. I have experience in recovering lost or stolen goods, and locating.... problems..., worldly and otherwise, in order to put them... to rest. If you should hear of someone in need, perhaps you might mention my name? Waldhorn."

    With that, the young man turned and walked out, revealing a massive Falchion that hung diagonally across his back, nestled beside an equally large wooden club. The two weapons were secured beneath a quiver of arrows and unstrung longbow that hung diagonally over the opposite shoulder. A bedroll of camp gear nestled across the small of his back, a basic pouch of holding rode the hollow of his left hip, with water skin above a sheathed camp knife on the right.

    'Longbow and two handed weapons', the barkeep and retired fighter mused to himself. 'This young warrior is not likely to be found in a defensive stance, unless in very dire straights. He came prepared for the trail as well.'

    "You may not pass his name on, but I'll bet you remember that one!" Brother Calloway chuckled, taking note of Hammond's interested stare, and the fact he had neglected to burn the young Paladin with a sharp tongued parting response. The barkeep prided himself on getting in the last word, and having that word leave the recipient's ears glowing red.

    Hammond ignored him, already wondering if Stormreach had private investigators, and if such could do well midst the constant turmoil that seemed to run through, and below the city streets. Rumors of walking dead, kobold infestations, Orc raiders, ...and worse..., had begun to be whispered, along with the strange unwillingness of local government and religious authorities to admit to it, or to put a stop to it. Maybe Stormreach had need of investigators willing to take on questions the high and mighty would prefer remain unasked.

    With that thought, Hammond smiled at Brother Calloway, a representative of exactly the sort of organization in need of a closer look, even if he did not seem willing to admit openly to it at the moment.

    "Did you notice his ring, as well as his neck chain?" Hammond asked the Spirit Binder casually. "A Paladin of Dol Arrah, a warrior who fights with wisdom as well as weapons. Those who betray their calling should fear such as he."

    "Spoken like a true vassal of the Sovereign Host," Brother Calloway grimaced nervously, shaking his head and washing his hands as if to relieve himself of responsibility for the actions of more powerful others. "Best keep such thoughts to ourselves, and let the Gods move their agents about, while we observe in safety."

    "If the Gods will allow that."

    "It is my prayer. Make it yours as well."

    =
    Last edited by Fricko; 03-28-2014 at 07:15 PM.

  9. #9
    Community Member Fricko's Avatar
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    Default Quests to catch up for 3/28/2014

    Quests to catch up for 3/28/2014

    We completed the following:

    1. Walk the Butcher's Path

    2. Havedasher

    3. Recovering the Lost Tome

    4. Kobold's New Ringleader

    We now have enough characters at level three so that next week we can start running level three quests. See you all then!

    -Sam

  10. #10
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default Sewer Sweet Sewer

    Ashja spent the next few days wandering Stormreach. As she was wandering the Harbormaster's Plaza, she spoke with a young kobold fretting outside a sewer grate. The poor guy was looking for someone to help him chase a pack of stray dogs from his little corner of the sewer. Ashja agreed to help him, but she wasn't going to kill the dogs. The kobold was insulted that she even thought he would want her to do that. After all, the dogs were just trying to survive, too.

    So, into the sewer she went -- again. This time, the trip wasn't as bad as the previous times she had been there. Granted she had to slog through a few puddles, but her new boots were doing well keeping out the wet. She needed to run faster; either that, or she should have left her armor at the inn. A couple of the dogs managed to bite her pretty good and she spend a few days recovering from the wounds.

    That night, she dreamed about running. She hated to run. That was her main weakness, running. She knew there had to be some kind of trick to it, but couldn't quite figure it out. When she was running from the feral dogs in the sewer, she kept hearing Evyn's voice telling her to breathe. That was the flaming problem! She couldn't bloody breathe while she was running!

    Evyn. Gods she missed him. Even all this time later, she kept expecting him to walk through the tavern door looking for her. But no, she had seen what was left of him when she had escaped the monastery.

    **********
    She turned the corner and stopped, staring at the man-shaped form hanging from chains in the center of the room. Congealed blood pooled below the body, a fresh drop suspended from a toe, frozen in the act of dripping. Her eyes followed the lines of blood up the legs and across the naked torso. The skin hung off the body in strips. Ashja swallowed a scream when she saw the face -- Evyn!

    She crept forward, she needed to know whether he still lived. If so, she would pull him down and take him with her -- somehow. The closer she got, the more she realized that the way the body hung was unnatural. There was no way a live being could hang like that. She touched a foot. Ice cold. She crept out the door at the far side of the chamber, tears streaming down her face. She wanted to run, she wanted to run far from this place and never look back.

    She made her way through the passages to the crypt. After seeing what was left of Evyn, she was not looking forward to sneaking through that crypt. The place creeped her out as it was, without having the specter of her dead friend looming over her shoulder. She said a quick prayer to the Host as she entered the crypt. She didn't want to offend the gods as she made her escape.

    **********
    Ashja slept for most of the next two days. She couldn't afford the healing herbs needed to ease the pain from the bites, so she resorted to more mundane means -- rest and cleanliness. Because of her wounds, she missed several investigations carried out by the rest of her friends.
    Last edited by Aeryyn; 04-22-2014 at 09:56 PM.

  11. #11
    Community Member Fricko's Avatar
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    Default Cleansing....

    =

    Waldhorn sat below the Leaky Dinghy Tavern in casual robes, with bare feet dangling in the cool water of the Harbor, scrubbing at the green slime that had dried in the creases and joints of his old armor. It would be sold, because he had acquired magically enhanced fullplate to replace it, but not sold in this condition, as he knew more coin would come with less slime. He and his friends had responded to a desperate plea for assistance from a lady on the docks below the Wayward Lobster Tavern, and the slime had come on the way to a second job, saving Nash Braza's farm and his dogs from Orc Raiders, that they had stumbled onto by pure chance. Originally, Pearl Drumming promised rewards for the return of her employer, kidnapped by Orc Raiders of the Grul Tribe, east of the Curelean Hills. Their success had resulted in a full coin purse, his new plate armor, and a great axe that also had mystical properties to aid in battle with the evil of this land. Would that he had owned such powerful items during his disasterous time in the Mournlands. For an instant, his face paled and eyes dulled to a distant stare with the memory, then he shook it off with a visible shudder.

    "You were but an expendable vassel. The fault lies with those who betrayed our company of volunteers." The paladin's voice was soft and low, almost pleading with himself to accept his own explanation.

    He scrubbed more vigoriously at the shinplate, turning his mind to new aquaintances, and the loosely knit partnership they had formed over the last few weeks. There was the lady Ashja, a complicated half-elf ranger with rogueish abilities; lady Essrynn, an acrobatic and musically talented bard who gracefully entertained or fought furiouciously as circumstances required; lady Windcilll "Chilly", a cleric of the Sovereign Host with a warriors heart and a healers touch; and most recently added was lady Curissa, an elf sorcerer crackling with suppressed energy, with the noble manner of the high born, but the means of the near destitute. They were occationally joined by Morhirr, a male elf ranger and Fynn Wynn, also an elf male but folllowing the path of the wizard.

    Together, the group made up a powerful force, even if individually they were originally lacking in the ability to use their variuous skills and abilites to compliment those of the others. As they continued to take on more and more of the available work in Stormreach, the cohesiveness of the group in battle had become much better and proved quite effective, at least against the sort of evil faced to date. How they would fare against more organized and better equipped enemies could well be a different story, with a tragic ending if they were not cautious in their approach. Waldhorn was well aware that there were dark forces on the move beneath the surface of society, undermining the very foundations of all that represented Law and Good.

    His own betrayal by those he trusted had more than demonstrated the presence of that evil to him, but all hard proof had been destroyed, along with his companions, in the Mournlands. The artifiact had been recovered, but it had not been returned to The Keeper of The Flame as intended, who apparently remained ignorant of its' survival. He had also survived, although the betrayers thought him dead, and their theft still unknown to the faithful. Grimly, he held to the fact that one of the faithful knew, even if what he knew was very little. Waldhorn's delimna rested in the fact that the betrayers were embeded in the higharchy of The Church, and he had only vague suspicions of who they might be, and what they might be plannning. He did know they now were here, far from the seats of power back in Thrane, where they could work their horrible wickedness in secret. The Flame was compromised, so he would start anew, outside the constraints that hindered his investigation while still a Servant of The Flame. Thus he was reborn from the Mournlands as a Paladin of Dol Arrah, serving the Sovereign Host. He did not feel he was turning his back on The Flame, as it was a part of The Host, remaining part of him. The Flame remained pure and worth protecting, even as those power hungry ministers who claimed to represent it were drawn toward something much darker.

    To his surprise, the armor was now clean and ready for the vendor. Even as his mind had wandered to the past in an attempt to cleanse a sullied soul, his hands had worked on, driven by his frustration with the present. The answers were here in Stormreach. He was sure of it.

    =

  12. #12
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default The Kobolds' New Ringleader

    Four days after the leading the dogs from the sewer, Waldhorn introduced Ashja to Curissa, the elf in the shabby robes she had seen the previous week. Curissa's robes weren't as shabby as the last time Ashja had seen the elf. The investigations the rest of the group undertook while she recovered must have been successful. She was sorry she had missed the fun.

    After breaking their fast, Waldhorn, Curissa, and Ashja left the Leaky Dinghy and climbed the stairs up into the Harbormaster's Plaza to take care of what business they had at the bank and at the Hammer and Chain. Ashja sold some items she no longer used or needed and deposited what coin she didn't need for the day into the Bank of Kundarak. The three walked up around near the airship dock, across the bridge, and down through the Warehouse District toward the Wayward Lobster.

    As they walked down the hill toward the Wayward Lobster, they happened upon Guard Jung, who was looking for someone to help him clear the Bonebite kobolds from their hideout in the Warehouse District. The Harbormaster had promised to send some guards, but that had been hours before. The party entered the Bonebite hideout.

    **********
    Ashja walked over the grassy terrain, roughly following the conductor stones south and a little east into Vathirond. She looked for small streams or ponds, but the grassy plain was bone dry. Irregular hills and valleys kept her from seeing much further than the next hillock over -- in any direction. She knew that if she followed the stones, she would find a road; and if she found a road, she would find a town.

    Indeed, she found a small footpath that eventually turned into a narrow road. As she walked, she saw fields of grain. A league further, the narrow road had widened into a broad street. As she approached Vathirond foot traffic picked up. The half-ef's sensitive nose picked up the assorted aromas of roasted, spiced meats and vegetables intermingled with unwashed bodies and animals. The closer she got to the town, the more people she saw. The more people she saw, the more nervous she got. Especially when she saw the priests. She saw priests and clerics everywhere. She was glad to see that priests of the Sovereign Host outnumbered those of the Silver Flame.

    The young half-elf wasn't sure what to do. She had picked up a few decent weapons she couldn't use (and was able to sell) and had enough coin to get her a room at a half respectable inn until she could figure out what to do next.

    **********
    The party arrived back at the inn several hours later exhausted, having cleared the kobolds and bugbears out of the Bonebite hideout. Guard Jung was pleased that they had found his badge and he had rewarded them well.

    Ashja ordered a bath on her way to her room. She really hated the smell of her armor after a battle. She hated having to trudge back to the inn wearing the smelly stuff, but she supposed there was no way around it. Grabbing a fresh set of clothing, she dragged herself down to the baths. She was exhausted. Who knew that recovering from those dog bites would take so much out of her.

    Sitting in the common room a couple of hours later, Ashja told Waldhorn that she would be spending the next day recovering from this one.

  13. #13
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default The Cerulean Hills

    A couple of days later, Essryn, Windchill, Waldhorn, Curissa, and Ashja spoke with Pearl Drumling and agreed to rescue Lady Azdel from the Grul tribe of orcs. They would have to cross the Cerulean Hills to find the orc camp and rescue the noblewoman and her retinue -- if they still lived. The troupe sold excess items and restocked bolts and arrows, then headed out the south gate into the hills.

    **********
    The air was dry and dusty. The hills crawled with raiders, even this close to Vathirond. She had to be careful, the bugbears and orcs were known to be brutal enemies, and she had no desire to end up in a bugbear stewpot. Maybe she should have skirted around this hilly area. She was glad she had listened so closely to the conversations around her in the common room in the evenings. Listening to the hunters and trappers familiar with the area, she had learned that a few furlongs to the south and west of town, a hilly area existed that would be perfect to try to lose pursuers. After passing through the hills, she would track west and look for the road to Sharn.

    Ashja thought about the few days she had spent in Vathirond. Every time she turned around, she saw a priest or a cleric, which kept her on edge. Even though most wore the symbol of the Sovereign Host, her years at the monestary made her wary of all clergy -- regardless of religion. She kept as far away from the Silver Flame temple as was possible. But the town was really too small for her to remain anonymous very long. She made plans to travel to Sharn. The more she heard about the city, the more she thought that she would be able to find the anonymity she thought would keep her safe. She wanted to put as much distance between her and Thrane as she could. She looked into taking the Lightning Rail, but only had enough coin to get her to Starilaskur -- and would leave her coin pouch empty when she arrived.

    She had decided to ask about caravan work when she spied Brother Varn as he entered Vathirond through the west gate. What the hell is he doing here in Vathirond? She whispered a quick prayer to Olladra that Varn hadn't seen her. She hurried back to the inn, packed her meager belongings, and fled through the east gate. Maybe she could mislead them and make them think she had tried to return to Cyre. She followed the road toward the dead-gray mist.

    She thought about Cyre -- no, the Mournlands now -- a league or so to the east. The closer she got, the more she could see the wall of mist that separated Breland from the Mournlands. Ashja and her cousin Mahmoud had been taken out of Cyre before the catastophe called the Mourning, but not long before. They had been sold to the cult bare weeks before the Mourning. She remembered the verdant hills and plains that went on seemingly forever. She had a hard time believing that all of that was gone.

    A grunt from a nearby sentry snapped Ashja's attention back to the gully through which she crept. She heard the grunts and growls of the goblin language, but didn't understand what she was hearing. Nocking an arrow, she held her bow ready and crept forward carefully placing and testing each step before putting her weight down. Silently and slowly she crept through the dark, nerves taut with apprehension. One wrong step on her part, and the guards would be on her. She knew she could handle one or two foes, but if a general alarm went out, her journey would end here. It was funny how deadly circumstances taught patience.

    She reached the end of the gully. She was through the hills. Ashja looked up at the sky, looking for the pointer star. The moons were so bright, she thought she might have to wait for daylight to make her break for the nearest cover. Again, she prayed to Olladra for luck reaching the trade road.

    **********
    The party not only rescued Lady Azdel, but also helped save Nash Braza's farmstead and his dogs. The days spent in the wilderness were a welcome change from the labyrinth of stinking sewers and catacombs that existed below Stormreach.

    Ashja was glad to return to the inn. She asked for a bath. An hour later, dressed in fresh clothing and smelling somewhat more civilized, she sat down to a meal of hearty stew and fresh, course bread.

  14. #14
    2015 DDO Players Council Hazelnut's Avatar
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    Default Curissa's First Assignment

    Curissa's First Assignment
    The clear pre-dawn sky held the promise of another perfect day in paradise as I strolled along the damp boardwalk of Stormreach harbor. By the time the sun rose, the boardwalks and streets of the harbor district would be teaming with people of all kinds noisily going about their business but for now it was still and quiet and all mine save for the lonely sailor standing watch on a ship tied to the pier.

    This day held more promise than any since Curissa had arrived. The old paladin she had spotted the night before was currently on sabbatical from his church or otherwise operating without direct supervision from his superiors; Curissa never did get a clear story from him. He had found temporary employment as a “private investigator”. Apparently some sort of constabulary that doesn’t report to the local lords. This man was full of enigmas.

    Whatever this peculiar form of employment he was currently engaged in; he desired the services of a spell caster and had evidential concluded that Curissa was a wizard or sorcerer. She briefly thought of explaining that she was barely an apprentice, much less a true sorceress, but quickly changed her mind when she considered the serious lack of coin in her purse. And so, Curissa might be able to buy breakfast and perhaps even some decent cloths in short order. Waldhorn, that was the paladin’s name, had engaged her services for a couple of assignments this day.

    First was more pest control than constabulary work. Clear out an infestation in someone’s basement. Then off to locate and retrieve some stolen tools; at least that sounded very much like investigative work.

    After a leisurely stroll up the boardwalk to the top of the cliffs in Stormreach harbor, Curissa met Waldhorn and reflected that he was not nearly as old in the morning sun. His pure white hair and the nasty scars on his face made him appear much older in the dim light of the Leaky Dingy. He would have been handsome before the scars.

    Enough day-dreaming, it was time to go to work; time to start a new life.
    Zyinniah Hazelnut and Curissa Hazelnut on most servers.

  15. #15
    Community Member DrowsworD's Avatar
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    Default An Introduction - Koryx T'hal

    “Kobold’s balls and ogre snot,” muttered Koryx as he slammed into the rat hole that passed for a tavern in this so-called city. What a miserable pile of sticks and wattle this place is. This one was built stilts, leaning out over the edge of the dank water like many of the drunks losing their guts after they left his place. And it smelled; Crag did it smell.

    The island, Korthos, was a bit better than this; at least the snow had kept the stink down. Some heroes released the dragon from captivity and cleared the island of the slavers. Too bad he wasn’t invited – that would have been fun! This journey has had so little fun involved since it started.

    House T’hal was Koryx family; his clan had been retainers of House T’hal for generations before they were adopted as kin. It didn’t hurt that Koryx’ great-grandfather saved the Prince and his bride from pirates and his grandfather opened trade with the Underelves, which eventually brought peace to that part of the world. It almost backfired though, when the Underelf Priestess X’antlan tried to assassinate Prince Kordan’s son during the signing of the trade agreement. May she forever mate with goblins.

    Far to the east, or was it south – he never did listen to those briefings – was home. House T’hal was the largest import/export company in the known world. If this trip had been a success, T’hal would have opened trade with this city and others and both sides would have prospered.

    Family and clan are lost now, due to this ill-fated trip and that goblin-gobber dragon. Koryx had no money and no idea how to get home. Perhaps some work can be had in the city. Places like this always had things that needed doing. As long as he didn’t have to schlep through some sewer, Koryx didn’t mind some hard work.

    His training as priest could come in handy for any group working in the wilds. He was good with a mace, and a sword if he could get one, and knew the healing and protective arts as well.

    Checking the cloth he kept in his boot, although he knew the answer before pulling it out, he found, once again, that it was empty of coin. Standing at the bar, looking a bit less gruff than when he walked in, he asked the bartender for some water. “This will have to do until Better comes along. I just hope Better is not as late as She usually is.”

  16. #16
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default Charisma, Not So Much

    Ashja looked across the common room as Hammond Greene roared with laughter.

    "Water!" Master Greene exclaimed. "What's this? A dwarf, asking for water? Now that's a laugh, that is."

    The dwarf at the bar reddened while giving Master Greene a look that would have turned lesser men to cinders on the spot. Ashja knew that Master Greene had a thick hide. Hell, he had to have thick skin to be able to run one of the more successful taverns on the docks. On the other hand, Master Greene had been known to toss a drunk or two into the harbor in his time.

    "Shut yer pie hole and give me the bloody tankard of water you ... " the dwarf hurled a few choice invectives at the tavern master.

    Master Hammond chuckled the whole way back to the surly dwarf with a tankard of what the half-elf knew was some of the nastiest water she had ever tasted. She remembered when she had first arrived in Stormreach, a bare month ago. She had had to stay at the Leaky Dinghy because it was the only place in Stormreach that she could afford. Now she stayed because she ... well ... sort of liked the place. Although she had to admit that this place had far more priests darkening its doors than she cared to see. She could tell this dwarf was a cleric, but could not see the symbol he wore.

    As much as Ashja distrusted the clergy, she had to admit she was glad to have Windchilll and Waldhorn in the party when the group went into an investigation. And she was learning that you could never have too many healers around. Besides, this dwarf reminded her of someone.

    **********
    Ashja had gotten lucky after escaping the bugbears. She relaxed after reaching the relative safety of the trade road that ran west toward Starilaskur. She kept within sight of a caravan that traveled in the same direction as she. She wasn't so much following the caravan as traveling in the same direction at about the same pace. The truth was, she didn't want to travel with a group, but she really didn't want to travel alone, either. And this seemed like a good compromise.

    About the third day of the journey, a young dwarven male approached her spartan camp after the caravan had stopped for the night. He was unarmed, but Ashja thought that even without weapons, he would be hard to beat -- if that's what he came here for.

    "Boss wants ta see ye," he stated flatly. "Says fer ye ta camp wit' us tonight. I'm supposed ta help ye get packed up here and set up there."

    Ashja regarded the dwarf intently. She had been content following the caravan. On the other hand, if she was among people maybe she would be able to get real sleep. And if they were approaching her -- well, she wasn't sure if that was good or bad. She didn't feel any bad intent from the young dwarf helping her move her camp. Neither did she feel anything particularly good.

    "Ye've been following us fer days, girl, why?" demanded the caravan master.

    "I travel to Starilaskur, that is all," Ashja responded.

    The caravan master, a stout dwarf named Henrick Thorson, eyed her suspiciously. After a few moments he sat back in his chair, his fat fingers laced across his expansive belly.


    "Well, then, if that is all, how would you like to earn some coin between here are Starilaskur?" he asked, watching her closely.

    **********
    Ashja rose from her table and walked to the bar. She tapped the dwarf on the shoulder and asked, "How would you like to earn some coin?"

  17. #17
    2015 DDO Players Council Hazelnut's Avatar
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    Default Dear Father,

    By the time this letter reaches you, you will undoubtedly have heard that Wind Dancer, the airship I was taking to Taer Valaestas, was lost. Four days out of Shae Thoridor the captain informed us that we would have to divert west to avoid a storm but I guess we couldn't move fast enough because the ship was battered and blown by severe winds and we were told to stay below decks for days as the crew tried to keep control of the airship. It was the scariest ride I had ever taken.

    When the storm finally passed we were out over the sea and no land all the way to the horizon. I thought we would be lost but the navigator assured me that he knew where we were but it would take more than a week to get back to where we should be. The ship's steward was concerned we didn't carry enough food for the extra travvel time but the captain said we could pick up fresh supplied only two days south. So our week would be more than ten days delay.

    On the second night as I was sleeping, the ship's alarms rang again and sounds of the crew running and yelling woke me. The steward informed me that I must stay in my room. There were sounds of shooting and screams on deck as the ship lurched in ways I've never felt in an airship before the ship became very cold and then it fell out of the sky and crashed into the ocean. I don't know how, but I survived...

    The sun rose bright and clear. Curissa walk through the Harbourmaster's Plaza on her way to the gates leading to the Marketplace. Her skill and ability, if not her courage, had earned her a position in Stormreach Investigations. The regular work had earned her enough coin to not only move out of that stinky sea-side flea trap of Hammond Greene's but enough to buy some nice cloths besides.

    Fashion in Stormreach was very different from Aerenal. While the climate was not that different, both were tropical, the local custom involved far more furs and thick leather in their clothing. And skulls. Never had Curissa seen so many people adorned with animal skulls. In the end, she surrendered to local fashion and purchased a rich red dress with a high collar and a small animal skull covering the clasp at her neck. Another, more practical leather dress to replace her patched apprentice robe for work days.

    After changing into her new finery and a nice lunch at an outdoor cafe near the harbour entrance, Curissa headed back to the Leaky Dingy. She didn't understand why Ashja liked this place, but Ashja was the boss and they were supposed to meet in the afternoon to discuss assignments.

    Entering the dark tavern that hung out over the water, Curissa spotted Ashja at the bar talking to a rough looking dwarf with the mannerisms of a cleric. That nervous girl sure seamed to like the religious types.
    Zyinniah Hazelnut and Curissa Hazelnut on most servers.

  18. #18
    Community Member DrowsworD's Avatar
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    Default First Meetings...and later

    The bar man eyed me warily when I asked for water. Words were exchanged, but he got my point – and I got his. No matter, he had his job of keeping the riff out of this riff-raff place and Koryx wasn’t far from being destitute. Most everyone here looked bedraggled and rung out. There were a few that stood out though; the sell sword by the door, with a bit of rust on his armor but functional and well-armed and the girl in worn but clean skirts.

    The water is not the worst he had drank, but definitely rain from the roof and allowed to sit in a barrel uncovered. The dull metal and musty taste did not do much for his mood, although it helped his parched throat and at least filled his belly.
    "How would you like to earn some coin?” the girl asked, tapping him on the shoulder and taking a step back as if he might take a swing at her. Koryx took a better look at her, not overly large in any place but fit; part elf if he wasn’t mistaken. She had a wariness to her, not quite looking over her shoulder but searching his face and manner to discern...what. He wasn’t sure what she was looking for, or afraid of.
    “Now that sounds like nearly the best pickup line I have heard in a long time”, said the dwarf, smiling and turning to the girl. “But in some places that will get you arrested and thrown in the stocks, or worse. I hope you mean you need my help for some work and not something more...er...illicit.”

    The look on the girl’s face was a mix of awkward disbelief, maybe some fear, and then embarrassment. She turned white, then red. It was after Koryx noticed the red cheeks that he saw the long knife in her hand. “Ha!”, he exclaimed, and burst into a larger, deep laugh, due to the girls’ reaction and his attempt to disarm a situation which he had been in several times before when someone didn’t ‘get’ his humor.

    “I would most assuredly like to earn some coin, young lady,” Koryx said between sniffs and chuckles, bowing deeply but keeping a wary eye on the knife. “Sorry to pop off on you like that, but it was a most welcome hook that turned what could have been a miserable day into one that started with a laugh. I thank you for the opportunity to have one at your expense.” Koryx wasn’t certain if he had already stepped over the bounds and lost himself a possible purse-filling engagement. He certainly hoped not.

    Koryx noticed another young girl – no, not girl young, but a young elf – standing nearby. She wore a nice red dress and had a definite stance of power and entitlement about her. Koryx had seen this type before, untried noble-ettes with too much power and too little responsibility. “Full of themselves and not much else”, Koryx uncle said of them. Koryx was like that once, not any more.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “…and I said ‘I hope you mean you need my help for some work and not something more er illicit’, and she pulled a knife on me”, Koryx told the tale again to Waldhorn, hoping this time the Paladin would get the innuendo and laugh with him. It didn’t work. The humor had worn off on Ashja, the target of his story, and Curissa and most of the others that frequented the Leaky Dingy, as Koryx miscalled it, to the owner’s discomfort.

    They had become companions after that first meeting. Even though the ‘job’ involved wading around in some of the largest sewers Koryx had ever seen and dealing with a large population of koballs, trogs and gobbers, they emerged unscathed. It put coin in his purse, food and ale in his belly and helped out one of the guards. You never know when a friendly guard in the right place might make a difference.

    “Okay, to business”, Koryx said, since it didn’t look like anyone was going to laugh at his tales any longer. “Once we find the other lost man in the sewers we should be in good with the Harbor Master. That’s a friend we may really need someday. After that, I heard there was this merchant named Baudry looking to hire for a job in his warehouse. I don’t know about y’all, but I’ll be glad to get the smell of sewer out of my nose and clothes for a while.”

  19. #19
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default The Lost Seekers: Part 1

    Waldhorn had been serious about wanting to investigate the injustices of Stormreach. He spent almost every waking hour searching for wrongs to right. This day, he approached the group about Harbormaster Zin needing to find a missing guard.

    "Apparently," said Waldhorn, "one of Harbormaster Zin's guards has disappeared somewhere in the Waterworks."

    Ashja eyed him skeptically, Curissa stared at him with open hostility.

    "Again?" she exploded, sparks crackling from her fingertips, her hair standing away from her shoulders. "What is it with you and sewers? All right, all right." She soothed, hair settling back. "Just let me run back to the inn and change into a different robe. I don't want this one ruined, too." With that, Curissa stomped down the wharf and around the corner to her rooms at the Wayward Lobster, muttering obscenities in Elvish.

    "Sorry folks," Waldhorn sighed. "She's right though. If you have armor you would rather wear down into where we're going, now would be the time to consider it."

    The newest member of the group, Koryx, swore long and elaborately in Dwarvish. Ashja caught a few of the words and blushed at some.

    Half a turn later, the group descended into the Waterworks.

    **********
    The caravan master was a gruff dwarf. He ran a tight and tidy caravan, with small patience for stupidity. Which was what had led him to approach Ashja about a job. One of his newest caravan guards had been caught stealing from one of the wagons. Master Henrick had the thief secured, and consequently was short a guard.

    Ashja agreed to travel to Starilaskur with the caravan. She was able to haggle a very generous fee upon arrival at Starilaskur, and a hefty bonus if she decided to continue to Sharn. She had sensed her advantage when meeting Master Henrick the first time. When he offered the bonus to continue with him to Sharn, her jaw almost dropped, but she managed to stop it from falling open just in time. Ashja shared her skill set with the caravan master, and he gulped. She increased her counteroffer. In the end, she negotiated enough to set herself up on arrival in Sharn. Or better yet, book passage to Xen'drik.

    The next few days brought enough excitement to last for the entire journey. Two of the guards disappeared a couple of nights after Ashja joined the caravan. The caravan had camped within sight of a village that had been decimated in the Last War.

    Ashja was assigned to the search party because of her scouting, lockpicking, and trapping skills -- she was the first to find the trail toward the abandoned village. Following the trail, they discovered the entrance to an elaborate underground drainage network. After the war, the village had apparently been abandoned and kobolds and troglodytes had moved in along with all manner of other vermin.

    Ashja led the party to one of the guards, but the other had been taken to another part of the network. She sent an escort to take the injured guard back to the caravan and continued looking for the second guard. It was late when they found the second entrance, so they headed back to the caravan before full darkness fell. They would find the second guard on the morrow.

    **********
    Guard Temblor was grateful when the party escorted young Arlos from the Gnashtooth Den, but shocked that Venn wasn't with them. Both Arlos and Guard Temblor wanted them to look for Venn that night, but listened to reason when told that they all needed to rest and recover from the wounds they had sustained rescuing Arlos.

    Ashja trudged back to the Leaky Dinghy, envious of the rest of the party -- they had moved to the Wayward Lobster as soon as they had the coin. She had to admit that more of their investigations were on that side of the Harbor these days.

    Ashja decided that as soon as they found Venn, she would move to the Wayward Lobster.

  20. #20
    Community Member Aeryyn's Avatar
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    Default The Lost Seekers, Interlude

    Ashja was still working through her feelings about the newest member of the investigation team. Ever since Essrynn and Windchill had parted company with the group, they had struggled to stay alive, so a cleric would be a welcome addition. She missed the boisterous elf and quiet human. Not just because of their protection and healing abilities, but also because she missed Essrynn's antics and Windchill's quiet grace.

    She sighed and continued packing her extra backpack. Now that she had decided to move to the Wayward Lobster, she couldn't wait to get out of the Leaky Dinghy. She spoke with Master Greene and settled her account; then hefted her bag and headed across the Harbor to the Wayward Lobster. She had paid for a room at the Wayward Lobster before moving. In fact, she had ordered a bath for when she arrived to take up occupancy.

    It was dark when she reached the Wayward Lobster. She was sore and achy when she arrived, and she looked forward to the bath she had requested. Mistress D'agon was gracious enough about the later arrival, but Ashja could tell she was a little peeved.

    As Ashja soaked in the tub, she thought about the dwarf, Koryx. He had certainly taken her offer of earning coin the wrong way! Her ears burned again. She should have remembered that some dwarves had a bawdy sense of humor. And Koryx reminded her of another dwarf she knew.

    **********
    After the disappearances, Master Henrick had ordered the caravan to settle in for a couple of days. They would have to make up the time later. It was still early enough in the journey that they would be able to arrive on schedule, but they would have to be mindful of any further delays. When the rescue party returned to camp for the night, the caravan master had cauldrons of water heated for the healers and for baths.

    That evening around a roaring fire, Master Henrick ordered a small keg of dwarven ale tapped. The young dwarf who had been sent to bring her to the caravan master -- she later learned his name was Roland Firestone -- began a bawdy story that ended with Ashja's ears and cheeks burning. She was glad of the relative darkness -- until she realized that dwarven eyesight was as sharp by the light of Eberron's twelve moons as was her own by the light of the noonday sun. Ashja laughed along the jokes, even though she didn't quite get some of them. Master Henrick saw her discomfort and confusion and had one of the female healers in his employ talk to the young half-elf. Ashja was forever grateful for his discretion and understanding.

    She had been only eleven when the slavers had killed her family and barely twelve when she and her cousin Mahmoud were sold to the Eldrid Brotherhood. The brothers and sisters had practiced strict celibacy. She had never seen or heard of any coupling among the Brotherhood members or their conscripts. The only instruction about the subject that Ashja had ever received was when Sister Elspeth lectured her at the onset of her cycles. The topic had been presented as clinically and dispassionately as any other subject that she had been taught. The brothers and sisters kept their conscripts busy from before dawn until well past sunset. Most nights she fell into exhausted slumber, only to be wakened before she felt she had slept at all.

    **********
    Ashja had surprised herself when she drew her long knife on the dwarf. She could see from the sparkle in his eye that he had been teasing, but he had surprised her and she had reacted instinctively. Besides, most clerics and priests that she knew were reserved and shied away from such bawdy humor. This cleric was different. He definitely had the dwarven sense of humor.

    She sighed. She would have to take care with her words. Either that, or get used to the teasing she was sure to get whenever Koryx managed to make her ears turn red. Most likely, she would have to get used to his teasing. In spite of his gruff temperament and teasing nature, Ashja liked him. He reminded her of Roland -- with far fewer constraints.

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