Blackwater Adventuring Company

Log 11: Mountain of Darkness
Where the party at?

All the fighting, researching, and questioning finally led to a simple knock upon the mansion’s door.

A servant of the home swiftly answered, recognized men of their hire, and welcomed them in. Of course he had to insist they provide him with their jackets and weaponry. Only Johann and Kraiven managed to keep their weapons with bluffs and concealment. The rest had their items placed into a room they merely got a glimpse of just beside the entrance.

The butler then escorted them toward the bustling ballroom. They passed a large living area with a gargantuan painting of a lovely woman in a pale blue dress. Erik immediately recognized her.

The love of his youth…Nia.
But now was not the time to allow himself to be vulnerable.

The ballroom was filled with dozens of attendees. They crowded in groups upon the beautifully tiled floor surrounding a fine red rug with gold trim. It was narrower, but the ceilings were high, and the room was the length of the previous hallway. To the left was the most important table, backed by a large fireplace to keep the valued attendees warm. To the right was a lovely spread of different foods expected of a port city. Lobster, salmon, shrimp, meats, cheeses – a delicious cornucopia of grub only further enhanced by a wall lined with ale and wine barrels. Jadzia minded the table and setup.

The company got to mingling, speaking to various guests and maintaining their cover. Their patrol disguise now unnecessary, they took to their drug-dealing personalities and made some friends. That is until Kraiven decided it was time for a bathroom break. He did have a ring to find after all. It took some convincing, but the servant finally decided to be his escort. It was a deadly mistake that lead to a blade across his throat and a blood-soaked nap in the bathroom’s tub.

The rest kept their cool in the stuffy room until Spencer Duras tapped a glass and welcomed everyone to the banquet. He introduced Callan Dor, the extraordinary Bard, and allowed the party to continue beneath the sounds of his lute. Fenix took the moment to warn Jadzia of the upcoming danger. Her and Mogh needed to slip away as soon as they could.

The olive-skinned Nia found herself at Erik’s side for a quick conversation, but the pressure of Duras’s gaze split them apart. Erik knew something, but had to stay back.

It was then that Spencer grasped at his chest, gasped for air, and fell upon the ground. Panic erupted as the company took the opportunity. They kneeled by his side and attempted to identify what ailed him. Fenix finally came to realize that it was no mere heart attack. Spencer was experiencing a poison. He convinced an older woman, Ms. Young, to fetch his hammer that yielded healing powers. A clever bluff. She obliged.

It was then that Callan Dor himself fell beside them.

“Forget your foolish mission, gawkers. There is much more afoot here than you realize. Go below and what you find – kill it. Or this war will start yet again!”

They understood at least partially. Callan provided them a cover and escorted them toward the exit of the room.

Kraiven found himself before the door to the stairhall. The ring would likely be in Spencer’s quarters since it was not upon his fingers. It took some skill, but he picked the lock and slipped in just before hearing a blood-curdling scream from the restroom he just “used”. He hurried back, found Ms. Young amidst his murder scene, and ended her life as well. Two down. He left her there with the butler and hurried up the newly found stairs to a crowd of guards arguing over cases of wine.

The company followed Callan to the room that held their weapons beside the entrance. It was as easily opened and entered as their items were to find. Fenix however examined a bust of Spencer’s father, Gabriel Duras, closely. He touched the blue jewel upon its chest and the wall before them slid aside. A secret room was revealed, apparently for Spencer’s private use. The spoils of gambling sat upon a table with a drunken guard in a wine-induced slumber.

Godric and Fenix put an end to his dreams, smashing his head into mush with their warhammers. They took the spoils, the guards keys, and a sword mounted upon the wall. Then they made their way back toward the main hall.

Kraiven decided against the stealthy route and made himself known to the guards. Still in his disguise, he convinced them a murder had been committed (which was not exactly a lie) and insisted they check the bathroom. They insisted he lead. So he did.

The two groups met in the halls, the disguised Blackwater Adventuring Company and Kraiven with the guards. He led them to the bathroom and allowed them in, signaling his friends to be ready. When all the guards entered, so did their firebombs. A moment later, they held the door shut while the men inside were burned alive.

Johann befriended their young pet wolf and they continued upstairs. Besides wine and gold, they found the Duras Family Ring and continued below by the Bard’s words.

The young woman in the painting, the lovely lady that spoke to Erik, stumbled through the stairhall entrance disheveled and weeping. Her mascara lined her cheeks in rivers of tears. She turned around and fell to her knees.

“You ungrateful little bitch!” a familiar voice shouted. “I shielded you from the goddamn war, kept you alive and how do you repay me? You dare poison me, you wench?! You and the child you carry are no longer worth anything to me. I’ll fucking kill you both!”

Nia begged for her life between babled apologies. A flick and snap was heard as a small hand-crossbow bolt pierced her chest and forced her to lay bleeding upon the hall’s floor.

Spencer Duras stepped slowly through the doorway, gazing down upon his bride. He looked up to see them standing on the steps.

“Bastards…” he coarsely whispered. He backed away toward the door behind him, obviously intimidated. He said shakily, “you’re next.”

The sound of a quick gust of wind interrupted him. He began to quiver and bleed from the mouth. He fell to the ground.

Callan Dor stood behind him, grasping a dagger. He quickly kneeled by Nia and checked her pulse at her neck.

“Get down there, goddamnit. I’ll take care of her…and the rest of them. GO!”

Kraiven provided him the Duras Family Ring and Callan tossed Nia over his shoulder. He bolted towards the main entrance and was cut off by three guards. He tossed three spheres at them and jumped through the flames they erupted in out of the company’s sight.

They continued below to the dark basement. Two wolves lay sleeping, but barely posed a threat to their onslaught. The cellar became a mess of blood, fur, and wine. Something was down there and they were determined to find it. Fenix made a hole in the ground to discover a hidden panel leading below. A crudely dug tunnel lead further down.

The tunnel continued on until they found it sealed by boulders. Godric had the strength to move one and even proved quick enough to avoid its trap. The pressure plate triggered arrows toward him that would only find the boulder beside him. The rest passed by unscathed as a result.

The small cave became a vast cavern jutting high into the ceiling and far below to dark, reddish, murky waters. Three paths lay before them: two lining the sides and one straight down the middle.

The left was jagged, rocky, and had two spots in which they would no doubt have to jump. The center was more solid, steady, but also had two gaps that lead to the murky fate below. The right looked well carved, well used, and even ended in a bridge.

They split down the middle and right, clearing one of the obstacles before them. Then, a door at the other side of the cavern burst open. Seven orcs rushed through, shouting about the triggered trap. Blackwater continued their advance and fought valiantly against the Orcs, sending most of them to the waters below. One of which even took care of the deed for them.

They made it safely across and passed through the door into a continuing, windy tunnel. What sort of evil was down here?

Just what would they find beneath the mountain?

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Log 10: The Cold Approach
The adventurers march toward the soiree.

The morning sun rose and Blackwater got to work. However, during their quick preparations, Bashir introduced them to a new agent. Judas was his name and he was to provide additional guidance and intelligence to the operation. Judas had been an active member of the underground before finally meeting Bashir months ago.

The party found it agreeable and headed to the meeting Godric scheduled with the Fighters Guild. It would take them to the heart of the city, but the day seemed to wash Argrim over with a temporary peace. They found themselves at the guard tower’s entrance without issue. A guard stood before it and recognized Godric.

“You picked a hell of a time for inquiries, Dwarf. Go right on in, but you’ll practically have to wait in line,” he said. “Woljech’s already in talks as we speak. Nevertheless, enter at your own risk.”

They did indeed and were met immediately with a perpendicular hallway and a door before them. A heated argument loudly occurred on the other side. Fenix attempted to quietly open the door to lend them an ear.

A deep voice exclaimed, “You think you can just send the brotherhood in there, Mikel?! I don’t care how sneaky you all think you are, you set them off and you’ll the entire operation. Hell, if I had it my way, I’d arrest you and as many of your friends whose names I could get out of you.”

Another voice, accented and presumably Mikel’s responded with, "You may have strength, Woljech – but you certainly lack discretion. My sneaky friends and I can at least tell when someone is listening at the door. Perhaps you should change the subject.”

The awkward moment found its height when the party decided to close the door and pretend nothing just happened. The Captain angrily insisted they come in. It took only a moment for them to clarify that they were the Blackwater Adventuring Company. Woljech knew of their orders, but could provide no assistance beyond what they had already. It was a true risk for the Fighters Guild to interfere with the Duras Family. They were a too large a financial superpower in not only Argrim, but all of Mandragorran. They were the heart of most trade occurring in the continent.

Woljech gave them the only useful tool they did not already have. A new technology found on the black market. Smokescreen explosives. Perfect, metallic spheres that exploded in a thick fog once thrown against a surface with significant force. They no doubt would have use for the confusion it would cause.

Mikel then approached Kraiven with an offer. The young man from the previous day informed him of the group’s heroics and influence, but Mikel saw an assassin’s eyes in Kraiven. He needed a ring acquired from the Duras estate that belonged to Spencer Duras himself. If Kraiven could retrieve it, he could buy himself a spot in the Brotherhood. He agreed.

Their meeting came to an end and the party utilized the rest of the day to prepare. Time passed and the sun began it’s descent. It was time to get moving toward Mount Irith and the mansion that rested at its base.

Loaded with their weapons, Demon’s Dust, and forged invitations, they made their way toward the soiree. The blue nightfall followed them as the air became cooler…but that was not all that followed. Some of the party felt they were being tracked. The rogues took to hiding themselves and the others continued normally. Their pursuers decided to reveal themselves.

Five finely dressed men emerged from the surrounding forest and inquired about their destination. Blackwater quickly admitted they were on their way to the Duras’s party. They had assumed that the men were keeping undesirable folk away. They were right.

The leader of the men, Marcel, demanded their invitations and he inspected each with scrutiny. They each presented their own, but just could not pull it off. Marcel knew better.

“Kill them,” were his last words.

Once the inconvenient highwaymen were killed, the party decided their clothing would be useful. They fancied up with various garb and found a legitimate invitation for the five men. Johann disguised himself thoroughly as Marcel and they continued their advance with confidence.

It finally became dark and an unnaturally deep cold set in. Johann knew it wasn’t just a change of weather. It was Wilhelm. It had to be.

The mansion lay ahead and they neared it without a second thought. Several guards stood watch along with two domesticated wolves. They expressed no alarm, but one guard spoke up. He wondered why the patrol they sent out was back so soon. Johann had to explain that they were coming back from a bit of an incident and needed to head in. The guard understood, but still found it strange. He did recognize “Marcel”, however.

Johann passed him and the others followed suit one by one. A couple of close calls and scrutiny finally ended in Godric being stopped. They employed no Dwarves.

It was their second mistake of the evening, but the last for the guards. Although the wolves proved ruthless, they all met their death beneath the stars. It was a mess, but the party cleaned it up and dumped the bodies in a nearby patch of forest. There was now nothing between them and the front door.

It was time to party.

Current Date: January 26th, 1 AGW

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Log 9: Brawn and Espionage
Blackwater collect intelligence.

Shortly after docking, a man hastily made his way up the ramp onto the Southtown Queen past the protesting members of the crew. They attempted to block his path, but his presence was quickly approved by Captain Brasick.

He was Bashir, operative of the Argrim- Cenandira Alliance and had been assigned as Intelligence Officer for the current mission. He was to provide Blackwater Adventuring Company with all relevant and useful information to assist in the exposure and destruction of the Almeria crime ring.

A Half-Elf of strict business, Bashir was quick to begin correspondence.

“Argrim’s a rough place,” he explained. “The slums are out of control. We had to turn security control completely to the Fighters Guild…and they’re not exactly trustworthy, but are better than nothing. Now, mind you, you are gaining a bit of a reputation, Blackwater. Your Tiefling there alone already has a recognizable face. They’ve plastered portraits of you all over Glasspine. These criminals have a long reach, you keep covered up out there.”

“Also, I have a lead for you. The bigwigs here have a bit of a soiree they hold annually. It’s unclear if the host is Almeria, but key members will definitely attend. What it really turns out to be is a collection of high-end criminals trading everything from art to weapons between sips of wine. They even have the nerve to hold it in the biggest, nicest, and oldest building in the damn region. I can get you boys in there with a bit of work and you can start investigating Wilhelm. He’s your target…well…one of them. I have a secondary target, but he’s not necessary to talk about until we get what you need to get in there.”

“What’s needed so far is simple. Invitations. Now, I can forge them…if I had an original to base it off of. That’s where a third and more immediate target comes in. Jadzia Elon. She catered the party last year and is going to do so again. She runs a small restaurant and tavern in the middle of town called The Kurzon. How you handle it is your business…but we need her invitation within the next two days. The party’s on Saturday. Any questions?”

The company continued into the town to prepare and get the invitation. The Kurzon was the first stop. It was a modest establishment with a small kitchen, a few tables, and a long bar. Jadzia distributed drinks and firm, but friendly looks.

Some members took to the bar to prod with questions while others held back.Kraiven’s keen ears caught wind of a missing ship that was on its way to Argrim. Erik had a run-in with a salty local, but heard the same rumor from another patron. Godric entered the kitchen and met Jadzia’s cook, Mogh. A Half-Orc she nursed to health after finding him on her journey North away from the war. He wasn’t the brightest, but he knew he had to check with Jadzia first before he shared any information.

Before they knew it, they were all ousted and their intentions were made transparent. They needed access to the party so they could investigate and apprehend criminals. Jadzia, being a woman of moral standard, found comfort in their strength and provided the invitation they needed for “only a moment”. The Wizard prestidigitized a copy and they took their leave.

Blackwater returned to the ship and provided Bashir with the invitation. It was a job well done, but there was a development. Brasick opened delayed orders he was provided that state the investigation will no longer be one of espionage. They were to burn the entire mansion down to eliminate as many of these high-end criminals as possible. Innocents be damned.

It was an unfortunate turn, but the company understood their orders. Bashir would have a forgery within hours, but they still had time to prepare. They reentered Argrim and took to the shops, picking up everything from new weapons to poisons. Johann, searching for a discount got word of the shop owner’s cousin’s missing hammer. If he could turn up with it, he could get his new staff.

Kraiven scoured the streets he found comfort in. He neared the School of Argrim in the Northern Slums and looked for some new clientele. He offered some young hooligans some of The Demon’s Dust, but that unfortunately resulted in the uncontrollable seizure-like convulsions of a young man in the streets. One of the Fighters Guild’s guards took notice, but was fooled by Kraiven’s swift tongue. He went off for help and the rogue simply walked away.

Fenix bumped into the fleeing rogue, but didn’t get a chance for explanation before the guard appeared again demanding answers. Another lie later, Fenix was apparently the help for the boy still deathly ill near the school. Thankfully, he was indeed able to stabilize the foolish young man. Lessons were however not learned.

Johann still needed that hammer and after a fruitless trip to the library (other than finding a book on Orcus), he decided to enter the slums as well. He asked around until a kid seemed to have some information. Bad kids can be bought with drugs he figured and he was right. An offer of pipeweed led to a deal. However, the deal did not go smoothly. Johann clumsily dropped the product onto the ground and a guard noticed. Pipeweed isn’t illegal, but giving it to minors is. So Johann changed his form to a child immediately and blended in with the crowd.

Godric investigated the Fighters Guild, but the guard wouldn’t allow him entrance despite namedropping Nolan Eran. It would have to be tomorrow if anything, the leader here was plenty busy. He returned to the boat to prepare for the next day. He returned to an anxious Bashir who tosses the invitation at him. The party was tomorrow, not Saturday!

The rest focused on the child. Kraiven noticed the boy’s thieving nature and rest decided to intimidate him into coughing it up. He finally gave in and led them on the Eastern end of the slums into a dense alley.

An ambush ensued, but was extinguished easily. Young men with barely any weapons training found themselves bloodied and killed. One was inspired so significantly by Fenix himself and their prowess that he swore to change his ways. He revealed the name of his group, the Brother of Thieves and provided Kraiven with as many details as he could. It was another contact…another source.

Tomorrow was a meeting with Argrim’s Fighters Guild and a dinner date with evil.

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Log 8: Wyatt & The Southtown Queen

Everything was so good. Quick prestidigitization to enhance their haphazard meal left Wyatt busy with his plate instead of speaking. The company uttered offers from different ends of the table, anxious to be done with the negotiations. He seemed more interested in how much they had than what they wanted for it.

At that, his blundering sailors from earlier finally found themselves onboard, shivering between steps as they entered their common room on the second deck of the Defiant. Clutching blankets, they stood aside the other two sailors overlooking the dinner table. Wyatt wanted to see…and try what they had on the ship and forced one of the frigid men to sample The Demon’s Dust.

The effect was almost instantaneous. The sailor, who took far more than recommended, ended up a convulsing mess upon the deck, foaming at the mouth. He was finally taken away by one of the others and their conversation could continue. The Dust was rare and worth quite a lot of gold, but the company just wanted an escort to Argrim. It seemed fair to Wyatt.

Dinner came to an end and they adjourned to the top deck, presumably for Wyatt to return to the Southtown Queen. However, upon reaching the top, the expected plank was missing and three men stood menacingly upon the opposite ship’s deck.

“I don’t think you’ll need passage to Argrim,” Wyatt said. With that, the three men fired arrows at the sabotaged sections of the boat. The previous clumsy sailors were in fact performing their duties. Triggered explosives now began the sinking of the Defiant as the company welcomed battle upon their dying vessel.

The arrows did little damage, but Wyatt was sure to bring his best with him. His guards did significant damage with their whip and dagger, but the company did much more. The fighting went on until one of the archers fell to a flaming death and Kraiven took Wyatt’s life with his careful blade. They both tumbled into the calm waters to join Johann who had attempted a jump across.

The Warlord would have no such thing. With courage, Fenix shattered the foot of his enemy, tossed a grappling hook onto the Southtown Queen, jumped off, swung down, grabbed Kraiven, and then successfully ended up on the deck of the enemy ship, surrounding one of the archers. It was perfectly executed.

Alone on a quickly sinking boat, Godric willingly took to the waters as the sea took her. Revealed on the other side was Captain Jean de Brasick upon a raft with their stash of Demon’s Dust attempting to assist his swimming shipmates. The men left aboard the Southtown were quickly extinguished and the remaining members of the company were pulled on board. Godric piloted the ship and enabled the rescue of Captain Brasick, his crew, and their most valuable substance.

Finally safe and armed with a new, sleeker vessel, Blackwater took to examining the decks. Below deck they discovered eight Dwarves, chained to their rowing stations. It would seem Wyatt had a hand in slave trade himself. Johann and Fenix deftly freed them from their shackles as Godric comforted them with well chosen words of the divine.

The waters proved agreeable and the rest of the short voyage was thankfully uneventful. Lives were lost, but mission continued as the jagged horizon of Argrim came into view. The ship slid into dock and Blackwater Adventuring Company readied themselves for the next phase of action…

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Log 7: The Seafarers
A short, but dangerous voyage.

Readying for their leave, the company approached the Cenandiran docks toward the CS Blackwater. Upon a closer proximity, a bald, handsome man took notice of them, smiles warmly in their direction, and approaches with an extended hand.

He introduced himself as Captain Jean de Brasick. The Guard had appointed him as Captain and navigator for their trip to Argrim. He presented himself as a very rigid man that has taken orders for many years. He knew who was going to run the show…and that was Blackwater.

Brasick welcomed the adventurers onto a busy boat. Preparing for the voyage were several men and dwarves loading boxes, bedding, and supplies. Among the crew however seemed to be two characters out of the ordinary.

A cloaked man stood on the deck. His covering seemed to jut in all directions almost too sharply. A closer inspection revealed a man of pure crystal, silent yet speaking. He was Artanis…a travelling Shardmind from another plane. A peaceful Bard, he was hired for the boat’s entertainment and perhaps a bit of a distraction. Artanis effectively presented himself with friendship as his telepathic powers allow. He was acceptable.

The other was another cloaked figure, but not as covered. From afar, one could notice his chainmail, holy symbol…and height. A Dwarven Cleric sat in a corner, reading a book. Artanis approached him with almost childlike curiosity, but the Dwarf was not as swift to be friendly. Business came first.

He was Godric and he knew eyes that had seen war before. Godric quickly identified the majority of the group as veterans and deduced them as hired men. He had his own reasons to head to Argrim, but it sounded like there was coin to be had. Unknowing of what to expect in the seedy city, they allowed a bit of trust in Godric. At the very least, he helped the ship seem less conspicuous. Holy men traveled often.

It became time to depart and the company left Cenandira behind. The waters proved an agreeing lady as the sun began to set. Not many ships had the benefit of a Naval crew to run her so smoothly. They made great time and the crew exhibited alertness and a strong will. Though one in particular seemed more alert than the others.

A dwarf shuffled eagerly and stern-faced toward the company. His beard was as long, black, and ornately braided as his hair. In tattered grey and darker grey garb, he stood straight and saluted. He explains that the Captain had news for the company and must be reported to immediately. His voice was silky and accented with a southern man’s voice (comparable to our Eastern-European and Scottish accents). It was a kind of voice they hadn’t heard in over a year. The south was where they last fought the hordes of goblins against the conquest…

and suddenly they found themselves beside a gargantuan fallen tree. The only sounds heard were screams and flames. No longer on a ship’s deck, they sat upon grasslands once green, but now charred and burned, spotted with chunks of infertile soil. So much chaos seemed just behind them, just beyond the tree, but they felt so suddenly exhausted. They could barely convince themselves to stand.

But they did. All but Kraiven stood quickly, and the newcomers Artanis and Godric did so with perfect skill. Revealed now were a dozen hobgoblins setting a small village ablaze. A cousin of the goblins, the veterans recalled the coalition they once fought that even included the occasional mobs of orcs. It seemed any sentient creature with enough hatred would fight for vast extermination. A child screamed as he was surrounded by the hobgoblins. They readied themselves to execute him.

The native Blackwater members realized they stood within a memory of their own pasts’, now made real all over again…but these new men now stood beside them unlike before. Nevertheless, the danger was real and had to be dealt with. The fighting began with blood shed on each side, but hobgoblins steadily began to fall. Kraiven finally fought past his pains, slid over the tree, and found himself silently behind the largest hobgoblin there. His cutlass supreme made quick work of the creature’s back, carving valleys along his spine.

Flame, blade, and even song rained upon the hobgoblins. Godric’s hammer managed to rain upon the head of the young child laying on the ground to put him in a peaceful sleep. It was a slip of the hand, but the boy survived the attack and was thankfully safe. A village that once housed his family burned intensely as he lay in the glow. He was the last of his community. What was his name? The soldiers just couldn’t seem to remember. The flames grew higher, but began to sound of crashing waves. The ground began to sway…and they were again on the deck of the CS Blackwater.

The Dwarven Lieutenant still stood before them. Wary of their momentary unresponsiveness, he insisted they continue to the Captain after making sure they were well. The company remembered it all as very real. They were all there together and saw the same vision. There was just no time to discuss it. The Captain had important news.

The always friendly Brasick invited them into his quarters and placed a map upon his desk. He explained that the trip to Argrim was going to get a little interesting and they had a decision to make. A large rock formation stood within the path. The West of the small mountain would prove harder to navigate, but the East (a faster route) teemed with pirate activity. It was the company’s choice to make. It was their mission.

They discussed the possibilities and decided finally on the Eastern route. They had enough brawn to handle anything that came their way and wanted to get there as fast as possible. Brasick agreed and dismissed them. A keen eye would be kept on deck to watch out for any foreign vessels.

Night fell, passed, and then welcomed the day. The waters agreed and the mountain slowly passed by. It was afternoon by the time a ship came into view. With no flags it had no affiliation, but approached them directly. It was narrow and much longer than the Blackwater and they could also see why it was so fast…four large paddles on each side helped her along. A man stood with a foot upon the starboard (right) side of his vessel as they approached.

Overly friendly and a bit demanding, a man named Wyatt introduced himself to a ship he was already familiar with. He knew this was (or used to be) the Defiant and where the Defiant was so was The Father of the Ocean. .

He was quick to ask which of them just so happened to be the good Father. Wyatt had never met the man before, so his appearance was a mystery. The company stumbled over the question, but Artanis’ appearance and telepathic power convinced the man that the crystalline entity was the elusive Father.

Wyatt invited the crew to a bit of dinner and business between ships. While originally planned to have it on his ship (the Southtown Queen), the company convinced him to have it on the Blackwater with a few of his crewmen. It was a tough deal to make, but Wyatt finally agreed. For the next hour, the crew prepared to host while the Southtown Queen seemed quiet and almost empty.

“Dinner” approached and Wyatt stood twenty feet across water upon his deck. Four crewmen ready to cross with him, they extended a plank. It seemed the men had very little experience with walking a plank…as two of them fell to the waters even with Godric’s assistance.

Wyatt was not happy with his men’s buffoonery and rushed over the plank himself ordering the remaining crew to help them back on-board before they drowned. He was ready for a meal and business. The company led him and his remaining two guards below deck to the living area. The beds now pushed aside, a dinner table sat in the middle and the additional doors were incidentally blocked.

The snide man had a seat at an empty table and asked what was on the menu. It seemed dinner itself didn’t end up in the crew’s plans as they scrambled for whatever food they had stored. Dried meats, aged cheese, and wine finally plattered the table for them to begin eating. Some of the company had a seat and some stood guard outside the door. Godric walked in with the “Father” and flipped a coin upon the table.

“Let’s talk business, gentlemen.”

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Log 6: The Law of Land & Sea
Following a dark trail...

Approaching the eastern wall of Cenandira from the goblin cave and seedy mansion, the adventurers take no comfort in the distant guards’ torches. They carefully followed the wall to southern entrance only to be approached by three guards a bit curious about their new carriage and wounded passengers.

Blackwater was quick to cooperate, explaining the entirety of the situation involving a drug and slave trading cartel operating in the area under a man named The Father of the Ocean. They had a letter and evidence to prove it. Though wary of their explanation, the guards brought forth the captain of the guard to assess the situation.

Captain Horace had all he needed. He explained that there was a special team within the Cenandiran Guard investigating a group named Almeria that was allegedly trading Demon’s Dust and dealing in human trafficking. They had a opportunity this evening to catch them with their pants down and arrest the mysterious “Father”. The adventurers practiced impressive diplomacy and organized a sting operation involving the drugs, disguised female guards, and a small squad for backup.

Once at the Port Authority, they were easily able to identify which ship to approach at the docks. A longship was surrounded by the most workers, some a bit unkempt. As their carraige approached, one took the initiative to approach and ask, “Do ya got the dust and ladies?”

They did indeed, but suspicions quickly arose. They had only two women of an expected ten.

“The Father won’t like this, boys. Shall I go get him?”, asked the dirty sailor. He was brave to make such threats. Blackwater had no problem instigating the situation further and insisted he did. Unfortunately, he took the disguised Cenandiran guards with him for the retrieval.

This was not going according to plan and for the second time the crew had to abandon strategy and shout, “light the torches!” The darkness proved a harsh mistress as they struggled to battle the devious pirates. The backup guards hurried their approach and took to their own fights.

Then, The Father of the Ocean himself rushed out of the ship toward the commotion and bellowed. It had all hit the fan and an all-out brawl ensued. Kraiven made an easy victim of a lackey as his shuriken passed through the seadog’s head to nick the face of The Father, but he giant pirate would accept no defeat. A swift hand to a horse’s hind end sent the carriage away as it ran over the previous lackey’s head and left the company wide open. The others quickly took to slicing and burning.

Something seemed wrong, however. Kraiven was beginning to notice strange behavior from Captain Horace. He seemed reluctant and oddly expectant of the situation. The captain expressed with fervor that this would need to end tonight, but he spoke of more than they realized.

Two unconscious pirates rolled down the ship’s ramp as the two Cenandiran ladies emerged from the ship. It seemed they were well trained and handled the leftover crew with ease. Now all that was left was The Father. He was surrounded, but still had one more man to see.

Nolan Eran rushed in from the darkness, shirtless and glistening in the moonlight. He had just spoken to the wounded ladies being tended to in the temple and the guards involved in the Almeria investigation. It turned out that Horace was a catalyst in the drug-ring operations and worked personally with The Father to allow this “trade” for months. Nolan insisted upon The Father’s death and Horace’s imprisonment.

Fenix’s misguided hammer flew into the face of Horace’s horse and caused it to collapse. Horace received the weight of the stallion upon his legs while the others made quick work of The Father. A well placed haymaker from Nolan knocked him back as Fenix finished him off nonlethally to ensure an opportunity for interrogation.

Horace was arrested and the men struggled to get the very large Father into a room within the Fighter’s Guild. He awoke to a bucket of cold water and a terrifying sight. The adventurers surrounded him and made their respective threats. Nolan requested the handiwork of Kraiven’s blades to ensure questions were answered truthfully. The occasional cut to the man’s hands resulted in exactly that. Argrim was the only port they traded to and from and he was indeed a member of Almeria…but not the highest ranking.

It was what the man took upon himself to reveal that was surprising. The Father recognized Johann due to family resemblance. He knew his brother Wilhelm Van Der Pol and described him as untrustworthy and dangerous. He expressed his hope for their deaths at his hands. The company were desperate to find out where Wilhelm resided, but Argrim was the only lead they could get out of him.

Enough questions were answered. The company had to debrief at the guard’s barracks and figure out the next step. It was no surprise that Horace didn’t welcome them, but who did in his stead. Lieutenant Kaylin Admar was immediately promoted to take his place in their time of need. One of the skilled ladies that infiltrated the ship during the sting operation, she was a familiar and impressive sight. She was thankful for their assistance and explained the need to follow these leads into Argrim in order to shake Almeria at its foundation. Wilhelm was a key figure and the blood cult looked to be tied in somehow.

The Cenandiran government would provide the team with funds, the pirate’s ship (MS Defiant, now MS Blackwater), and the Demon’s Dust as resources if they agreed to carry out the operation. The company accepted the mission. Kaylin was a strong woman with a good head on her shoulders…and Fenix took notice to the brunette’s beauty as well. Kaylin handed him an envelope and the flirting ensued.

The letter read:

Dear Blackwater,

We miss you guys down here in Glasspine! Things are changing and I’ve got stuff moving in the right direction. They’re even talking about making me chancellor. I have to make this quick to get it on the next courier, but I want to let you know that we have heard about your work with the Cenandiran government. This blood cult sounds serious and we wish you the best of luck.
I have cleared your names here and we look forward to seeing you again! In fact, Fenix has been credited as the hero who defied his Guardian status against emperor Liam Eldeen and liberated the city. As of reading this, he should officially be Captain of the Glasspine Guardians and will have a hero’s welcome as well as the rest of you.

Thank you for everything!
Jasiat Eran

It would seem Fenix and Kaylin had both become captains tonight…and they’d go on to do some more together. They took their leave as the morning sun began to rise. They were all exhausted, but found themselves able to relax for a moment. Johann made his way to a bazaar to purchase a two set of promise rings for Marianne Watson and Kraiven took a few heirlooms of his own free of charge.

Johann found his healed lover and offered the ring. They put their respective rings upon their fingers and to their surprise could feel each other’s presence. It would seem these rings had power beyond the merchant’s understanding. It was as if they could feel each other’s overall mood and general well-being. It was strange, but quickly revealed itself as useful. Johann could make sure Marianne was safe even if he was hundreds of miles away.

The remainder of the day was for the company’s much needed rest. They knew what their next step was and it wasn’t going to be easy. They were to sail to the western tip of Mandragorran, infiltrate the seedy Argrim underground, find Wilhelm, and discover the connection between the blood cult and Almeria to hopefully expose and dissolve them both. Something of pure evil was afoot and it was hitting a little too close to home.

Current Date: January 19th, 1 AGW

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Log 5: The Demon Beckons
Finding the underground...underground.

The company climbed the narrow ladder skillfully down to the rocky surface below. The cave started in a large dome, opening far above and wide beyond a narrow, dangerous, and foggy bridge. Ahead was only a lit door, but it was soon discovered that the door was being opened by goblins. Kraiven approached silently, quickly exterminating two of them with deft tosses of his stars. The fog concealed him and the others as they continued their approach toward the panicked, confused creatures.

The door was open enough and others poured out. Skullcleavers, Sharpshooters, and Cutters poured out onto the wide ledge. Their parcels, two more of their slave women shuffled behind them, nude and bound. Johann Van Der Pol got to work with a giant rolling ball of fire as Erik Alain and Fenix charged forward, ready for battle.

It was a massacre. They made quick death of each goblin. They were burned to death, split in half by Erik’s greataxe, smashed by Fenix’s hammer, sliced open by Kraiven’s dagger, or simply knocked off the edge. A goblin Helix couldn’t even compete.

The two ladies were not Jennifer Mae Watson or Linda Watson (the mother and younger sister of Marianne Watson, respectively) but young victims Marina and Beatrice. They were kidnapped from a village to the far west of Cenandira. Abducted in the night by goblins, they had been imprisoned for two days living blindly in filth while being handled by the creatures. The others girls, though never actually seen, had explained the situation. The goblins were harvesting women to be sold by a trafficking ring. Some were bought through auctions and others are transported to Argrim, a seedy city on the western end of the continent. They had heard but the nickname “ The Father of the Ocean” as well. Maybe it was just lost in translation.

They had to move forward past the door to find them. They came to another room. Surrounded by a northern, eastern, and western door, the cave’s central area revolved around a shallow stone pool, presumably for drinking water. It was green, still, and stagnant. Each wooden door had a torch to its left. Kraiven went for the eastern, but even his skill with the secure proved ineffective against the lock. Fenix took to the western.

He unfortunately was not as careful. Upon opening the door he heard a loud CLANG followed by a thump. The screams, though seemingly muffled by rags erupted in cries of agony. The door revealed a bucket of oil spilled and an accompanying torch. The resulting fire had taken a hold of the surrounding area of straw and filth. The heat pushed him back as the soft, curvy bodies of ten women began to writhe in flame. The cries were that of pure, inescapable pain.

Johann quickly summoned a bucket and the dirty water served to save six women. Though four of them remained burned beyond movement, two were only seriously wounded. Jenny and Linda. They endured terrible things, but couldn’t have been happier to see them. Their story matched the others’, but they would finally be saved. However…not before these other rooms were checked out.

The northern room was next. Erik Alain was tired of the pussyfooting and attempted to push past Kraiven’s careful inspection of the door. They smashed into the door with a loud thud and whatever was behind it erupted in a snort…and continued its labored breathing. Something slept on the other side. Something big.

They adopted the careful approach again and snuck inside. A hobgoblin Commander lay slumbering upon straw and dainty bones. A key hung on his waist. Kraiven was careful to get near him and snatch it away easily. Fenix did more than emulate the silent approach and managed to surpass the silence of any of the others, seeming like the wind. Erik stumbled behind, but did not wake the beast.

The company had what they wanted. It was time to secure their position. Fenix’s hammer floated above the Hobgoblin’s forehead. A breath in and out later it had found the face of the creature with more force than anticipated.

Its face collapsed and its final breath began a river of blood from each orifice. He was successfully killed in his sleep. Not a drop of sweat was shed at his expense. They took his money and a note describing a dropoff to be done the following evening to a man called The Father of the Ocean. It was written by Wilhelm Van Der Pol himself.

The last door was all that remained.

The western door could finally be opened. The key turned and the trapless entrance revealed two large wooden boxes. A little force caused one to open, revealing brown sacks not filled with coin…but with The Demon’s Dust. A highly sought for, illegal, and expensive drug. The operation not only dealt women, but narcotics. Fenix had to try for himself and the resulting energetic, collapsing, dark trip led him to fight his friends. It took time for him to come back. This was good stuff.

They took their bounty and saved the women. Back at the carriage above, everyone was safe albeit hurt. They began their ride back toward Cenandira.

“What the hell are we gonna do with all these drugs and bitches?” asked Kraiven.

The results of their decision could result in riches, fame….or catastrophe.

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Log 4: Blood of the Innocent, Body of a Lover
The plot thickens...

The members of Blackwater Adventuring Company quickly took to finding Marianne Watson. Althea was able to at least point them in a decent direction: The Commons. This area on the northeastern end of town was where there was the most housing and density of residents. There they were quickly intercepted by a shaggy, dirty man offering them some “action”. He introduced himself as Thomas.

Prostitution is not illegal in Cenandira, but is frowned upon and rare. However, it did not seem Thomas had the intention to offer them just ladies of the night. He spoke of something more sinister, but would not offer explicit detail. It involved women, money, a place and a password; a mansion in the eastern outskirts was where they must speak the phrase, “the wolf howls at pale moonlight.”

This of course did not occur without Gel’Thul’s reliable hostility. Thomas was nearly nearly choked to death, but Kraiven extinguished the situation. It was a lead and that was exactly what they came here for. They would see to this mansion at midnight. The underworld it housed would at least be a source of more information.

Midnight approached and their walk brought them upon the home glowing between the trees. An older man guarded by two others greeted them overcautiously, but was swift to allow their entrance once the password were spoken. Inside was an unexpected situation. Hooded men stood along the walls as sweaty, fat aristocrats awaited something eagerly before a stage and podium. A gentleman (term used loosely) then took to the stage and kicked off the event “with a bang”.

Marianne was guided to the stage between stumbles, bound at the wrist and blindfolded. She was to be sold to the fattest wallet. The bidding started at five hundred gold, but the bids were quickly interrupted. The adventurers saw no point in blending in. They had seen enough.

The room filled with Johann’s ghostly voice and the others stormed around him. The perverted fat-cats quickly escaped and the hooded men took to action. They would not allow their plan to be ruined. Gel’thul took to intimidating the auctioneer into a stumbling unconsciousness and the fighting began.

Blades danced and Raziel’s lightning breath took down each man, one by one. Johann’s flame made easy work of them and he approached his wounded woman. She was safe, but not all was well. She cried that her mother and Linda were also kidnapped by an enemy she had never seen before. She begged for their help, but after she began to describe the creatures that handled them, the decision was made. Goblins.

Blackwater would not let this crime pass without justice. The auctioneer, now conscious and terrified, offered his assistance in return for his life. They agreed and he hurried them to a carriage pulled by two horses. He will bring them to the operation’s base and signal them out of the carriage when it was safe. The ride would only be about half an hour. It seemed genuine.

Snow began to dust the forest and the night only sounded of horse trots and turning wheels. The time passed slowly, but they finally came to a stop and heard him speak. The rap on the side of carriage signaled their safe passage, but they revealed themselves to a setup. A mess of goblins awaited their emergence within a cave’s walls. Their thirst was for blood, but it was their own that would quench them.

The fight flowed similarly to the previous, though each hero seemed to have a grand entrance from the carriage. More than half of them have seen and killed their fair share of goblins – this was nothing new. Lightning, flame, and blade brought the creatures to their demise, but goblin words were uttered that only Kraiven could understand. Taunts were all the damage the goblins could inflict. Speak of a “Frostbitten Tyrant” and the rise of the “Dark Lord” sputtered from their mouths, but it was a name that seemed to stop Johann in his tracks…

Wilhelm van Der Pol. His brother, a mage of cold influence. His name came from the mouths of goblins in reverence. Where did he fit? What business has he with these dark creatures and these vile crimes?

Fenix’s keen eye provided the only path left to follow. A door upon the cave’s floor lead downward…

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Log 3: Death & New Beginnings
Events get a bit more complicated...

Clem trustingly answered the door, but was quickly knocked back by bandits. They entered with full confidence that the man only had the women of the house to defend him. Surely they could take anything and everything they wanted with little resistance.

They were wrong.

The members of Blackwater Adventuring Company sat beside their dinners full of annoyance. They stood to defend the farm quickly, but they were not the only ones aware of the invasion. Walking the path to Cenandira were traveling couple Raziel and Kildria. Quick to action, they busted through the same door and incidentally harmed attackers before their weapons were even drawn. The four men stood no chance and were quickly expelled in a wave of blade and fire.

Clem laid beside the carnage nearly lifeless, but Kildria managed to stabilize him. The wound to his head was sure to take his life otherwise. He awoke as a result of her power and offered his deep thanks through squinted eyes. More strangers had found their way to his home, but he had no complaints. His family was safe and his home protected. He retired to his bed and Jennifer Mae accompanied him.

The daughters of the home were shook, but quickly took comfort alongside their protectors. Marianne especially, who took intimate comfort in Johann’s embrace. The company retired to their slumbers after their introductions to await a new day with a similar destination.

Unfortunately, morning brought no good news. The mist and fog seemed to tell the story of a man’s soul passed. The girls sat at the living room table, heads down in sorrow as Jenny cleaned and cooked through bouts of frustration and stress. Clem had passed in his sleep despite Kildria’s healing. He was a good man and had expressed nothing but warmth, welcome, and love to the strangers merely passing by. The adventurers decide Clem deserved a proper service.

The strongest of the group carried him to a grave dug beside a tree. Erik Alain attempted to speak carefully chosen words, but was left with only, “Rub-a-dub-dub…,” (rolled a 1) before Kildria took over. Her words were perfect as they laid the man to rest.

After the ceremony, Jenny requested that they bring Marianne to Cenandira as well to find them a new hand for the farm. Without Clem, there would be no one strong enough for the most challenging of work. They agreed and took their leave.

The walk was quiet and allowed the adventurers the bonding time. Their eventual arrival to Cenandira was thankfully uneventful as they left their horses to be tended to in the stables. The members of Blackwater needed to seek out Nolan Eran and they quickly deduced where he resided. He was said to be a tough, strong man who led the Fighter’s Guild just across the road. They located him with ease and got straight to the point.

Nolan believed their story of his rebellious brother coming to their aid, but had one stipulation for a final agreement. They must train with him for a week before he gave them any work. They agreed and took to his training. They benefited from his strict regiment and the week passed with no trouble. Marianne stayed at the inn and would report in to her new lover daily. Nolan was impressed and gave them their first assignment. It read:

“I kindly request the assistance of the Fighter’s Guild militia with my farm. For the past week, I have been consistently losing four to five sheep a day. As of yesterday, I have discovered large traces of blood left behind. I ask for only a night’s watch so we may at least identify the culprit.”

The adventurers took to the path that led out of the city and into the woods. No more than a two-hour walk, they found themselves beside a setting sun and a small sheep farm. Farmer Loran proved a skittish man as he barely allowed himself to be seen. Through a cracked door he confirmed his request and sent them away to the sheep. Night would complete her descent soon and they were to figure out just who was performing these sheep-nappings.

Once the moon and stars were the only source of light, they took to their hiding places. Erik found a spot amongst cooperative sheep and the other members formed a perimeter. Eventually, they gained sight of the culprits. A gang of men with wolves were clearly on their way to take what they wanted by force.

The battle was proved thoroughly one-sided as the men and wolves fell dead to their prowess. All but one. A scrawny, uncooperative man had but one answer beat out of him – the location of their camp, though he knew the information was useless. Once executed, they followed his direction, but were not completely disappointed. These men were harvesting blood and scripture left behind told of the return of The Dark Lord Turius. These mad men were of some sort of religion based on resurrecting a mythical being behind the Goblin War!

It was a crazed situation they could only imagine the scale of while on their moonlit stroll back to Cenandira, but these thoughts had to be put on hold upon their arrival. Morning began to rise to what imitated a peaceful day, but Althea from The Singing Sailor had news for Johann

Marianne was taken in the night by a man she thought she trusted. A man she thought she could bring home to the farm…

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Log 2: The Road to Cenandira
What a tweest!

While running through the main room of the Glasspine Guardian barracks, the men of Blackwater stumbled upon a lone guard; A Tiefling by the name of Fenix. Fed up with the changing ways of Glasspine politics and militarism, he joined the veterans in their attempt to hunt down Rskalir Hammond. A signature Erik Backflip® set them on their way down the corridors.

After an empty hall lead them to a modest armory, a corner finally brought them to a longer corridor. Two doors on each side with a double-door at the end. Gel’thul, the barbarian, was quick to kick down a door to an empty room. Across the hall, however, Erik quietly entered the room of a sleeping Guardian. Followed swiftly, by Kraiven, Johann and the others, they surrounded his bed. A bloodcurdling shriek from Johann’s ghost sound woke the man, stunned and uncoordinated. The barbarian tried to push them aside to get at whatever “fight” was on, but his blind rage didn’t let him allow past the seal of the door frame.

Some questioning revealed that the man upon the bed really had no insight on their situation and Kraiven had a quick result for the Guardian’s uselessness. A clean haymaker to the chin left a blood stain against the wall and he was fast back to sleep. Now uninterested, Gel’thul continued to barge open doors to empty rooms full of nothing but beds, boxes, and useless armor. At least there was coin to be had.

Eventually, all that was left were the ominous double-doors at the end of the hall. Some of the company made their advance and opened the doors to find nothing but the corpse of Rskalir on the floor beside the bed. In a dark cloak, he lay lifeless, but his death seemed brought upon him without a struggle. Someone finished their job for them…and that wasn’t good. Even Erik’s signature backflip onto the bed could not make light of the situation.

Before they could even devise a theory, another cloaked figure approached them from behind. There was Liam Eldeen, looking as alive and well as the Warlock could. It would seem he was not your run of the mill politician. Then…betrayal reared its ugly head.

Julian bowed before his master and boasted of his delivery of Blackwater for the Duke to do with as he pleased. Julian was a fantasy double-agent! His terrorist organization’s purpose was only to frighten and control the public, not contest the government. His treachery knew no bounds. He was just as evil as the power-hungry Warlock. They both deserved death.

A dance of blades and fire erupted for all but Gel’thul. Busy looting, a shout of his name brought him into a craze and his blade soon after met Eldeen’s back after a rush down the hall. The fighting continued and as Eldeen looked about to fall, he called out for his guards. Three Guardians rushed down the halls bearing lit torches. “Set it ablaze!” Eldeen cried, and the walls were lit. The flames were his last sight as he was mercilessly cut in half by the barbarian’s blade. His torso made a thick thud on the ground. He mouthed the word “fire” one last time as his eyes closed.

Julian followed as he finally fell to Erik’s blade. The last of his strength led him to lay upon the bed and throw a bloody pillow with futility. The rest took to the guards. The barbarian quickly spilled the blood of the jugular of one onto the flames, partially extinguishing them. His friend, not used to the sight of so much blood and anguish, fell back onto the flames and was set ablaze. At a tap ofthe wizard‘s staff, the last of them was lunged headfirst through the double-doors. Landing unconscious on the bed beside Julian, the guard’s torch set fire to it. The flames grew higher.

They had to get moving. The company began their escape while Gel’thul grabbed the sleeping guard. They were met outside by an angry mob. A knocked-out Guardian on the barbarian’s shoulders offerred the adventurers proof of innocence. Even arson seemed stacked upon their alleged murders. The people of Glasspine wanted blood…

Then, one man recognized the barbarian. The half-orc was the creature of the forest he had only heard of in travelers’ stories! The citizen panicked and fled – as so did the rest. Blackwater almost had a clear path to escape until a final man decided would not let them leave.

Jasiat Eran would not allow whom he considered heroes to leave without steeds of their own for a quick escape. He was a sympathizer of the Red Torches and a man of great political ambition. Today’s “revolution” was his opportunity to reform his home with his own vision. He had doubted Julian’s loyalty to the movement for some time and suspected such deceit.

He brought them outside the town wall to a small entrance to the stables. Quietly entering, Erik and Fenix slipped into the stables under the distracted eyes of five guards and a guard dog. Carefully calming the horses and earning their trust one-by-one, the others began to enter and sneak about. The gentle rumble of horse steps and sighs kept the guards unaware and Johann’s prestidigitized muzzle kept the barks of the dog at bay. Jasiat wasn’t able to stay as quiet, but he stalled the tipped-off guards long enough for the others to deftly silence them.

Four of five horses were cleanly stolen until Johann made one nervous enough to gallop out. Some Guardians decided to chase the horses while the others were lured into a stable by sudden fireworks and were locked in by Fenix. The situation allowed a simple escape without another ounce of conflict.

Jasiat led them to the outrance and recommended they travel to the north. Cenandira was the home of his brother, Nolan Eran – the master of the local Fighter’s Guild. The mention of Jasiat’s name would give them a base of operations, decent work, and a home until Jasiat could stabilize Glasspine and welcome Blackwater back. It sounded like a good setup. The company agreed.

The road proved dark, but manageable. Eventually however, fatigue set in and they found a safe camping spot for their slumbers and trances. Fenix woke too soon after to the peaceful visit of a kitten. He immediately decided to keep it and adoringly named her Nova. Blackwater now had a furry mascot, but more rest was called for. Morning came hours later.

A breakfast of berries Gel’thul harvested and once-copulating bunnies Kraiven had hunted down filled them. Another sweet backflip from Erik over the fire and they were back on the road. Hours passed without issue and the countryside was a welcome sight. It had been years since the veterans had seen lush green and the barbarian was in a lonely, bleak forest for so long. Even Fenix hadn’t been out of Glasspine’s walls in quite a while.

Eventually, the countryside showed them its first sign of civilization. A farm with a few inhabitants was in the distance. Upon reaching it, a man named Clem Watson welcomed them openly and sparked conversation. He especially welcomed the veterans and expressed his gratitude. He then introduced the men to his two lovely daughters, Marianne and Linda, and to his wife Jennifer Mae…or Jenny as she prefers. Clem even generously offered them the stay for the night. The tired adventurers graciously accepted.

The inevitable flirting then began as the company got comfortable with the ladies. Johann chose to charm Marianne and Fenix took to the very married Jenny. The others relaxed (or tried to) until dinner was served. Pleasant conversation fluttered about until a knock came to the door.

An angry, forceful knock.

Current Day: January 3rd, 1 AGW

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