Thanks for all the fish
- 1 Summary
- 2 Diary
- 3 Fourteenth; the New Moon is good for Fishing
- 4 Fifteenth; still having Barrels of fun
- 5 Sixteenth; a punt on the lake
- 6 Seventeenth; a refreshing dip
- 7 Eighteenth; forging a sign
- 8 Nineteenth; mind your fingers
- 9 Twentieth; excuse me meister
- 10 Twenty-First; out of the war zone
- 11 Twenty-Second; into the fire
- 12 Twenty-Fifth; the cook, the cloud, and 19 barrels of fish
- 13 Twenty-Sixth; The Barracks of Bergelfen
- 14 Twenty-Seventh; Don't fly in the Swamp
- 15 First of Heat; Lady Talis
- 16 Second of Heat; Welcome to the border
- 17 Third of Heat; Eight by Cloud
- 18 Fourth of Heat; Facing the music
- 19 Fifth of Heat; Last cold night
- 20 Notes
- Imri - Elven Water Mage, Leader
- Vladimir - Human Mind Mage, Fishing Commander
- Tegan - Human Earth Mage
- Ibrihim - Human Air/Desert Mage, Scribe
- Jules - Human E&E Mage
- Rahne - Kinlu Human Warrior-Philosopher (backup E&E)
Employer: Her Majesty's Privy Councillor, Maristal. That is, the Alfheim Crown.
Payment: Reasonable expenses and guild rates of 200sp/week from Isil Eth and Eternal Gratitude from someone else.
Problem: The stocks of Baikai Taiga are at an all time low at the palace. Go get some more before the cook kills himself and functional diplomacy grinds to a halt. They come from Ruska.
- Maristal is an elven courtier dressed in gold trinkets in not quite the worse possible taste. His frazzled and distracted manner means that he pulls off an air of misplaced-sock-guy, rather than regal Privy Councillor. He tells us that the Queen may want some cool fish soon, and as the palace has run out of the right fish, the Palace Chef will not be able to fulfil her request, forcing him to quit (at best), and destroying the reputation of the Palace Kitchens and thus the Crown’s capacity for diplomacy. The fish comes from Ruska. We agree to meet him at the Elven Embassy in Seagate later that afternoon, after completing some research and administration.
- We elect Imri, the Elven Water mage as the leader, due to her (a) being elvish, (b) knowing fish, (c) having adventured more than once. Vladimir is made Fishing Commander, in lieu of Military Scientist, and Ibrihim is gifted scribe.
- We go to the Guild library. They are mainly very helpful. Apparently Ruska is not a province of Alfheim, but an empire in its own right, taking up most of the middle of the northern part of the continent. It will take 2 months to sail to Ruska, heading north into the Frozen Ocean, then around the Arctic Circle through sea ice, pack ice, and icebergs. Overland, one needs to go well past the Lunar Empire, which is at the eastern edge of our understanding. We get a map of the continent, with half the map blank apart form the word “Ruska”. We also get lent a book “The Splendour of Ythanamai”, by Obidiah, which appears to be a guide to sea life, with pictures – more on this later.
- We catch a ride into town on the Ambassador’s (spare?) Coach, a wondrous vehicle worth a million pennies melted down, and as we realise, even more whole. It glides smoothly down the hill, then eases its way through packed streets of vermin and commonality with ne’er a ripple or bump, until it stops outside the Embassy. There is a decadent and sybaritic party underway inside. The air is toxic and it is difficult to see the far side of the room, due to the dense Krrf fug; I decline to Detect Fumes. We mingle for a short period, and realise that most of the guests are pleasant, high, unstable, and have a completely different idea of appropriate behaviour than anything we have experienced. We manage to follow a waiter with an empty tray, and escape into the Kitchens.
- The kitchens are run efficiently, with mostly local staff. The elvish aboyeur, or possibly sous-chef, intercepts us, and directs us to the cold store, where the Palace Chef is sitting huddled, rocking backwards and forwards. Once we let him know we are here to get his fish, he becomes relatively animated, although still fragile and slightly unhinged. We take him onto the balcony, to warm up. He tells us that he is out of fish, and that Doran brings them. Doran hasn’t brought any fish for 40 years, and they’ve just run out. Doran is apparently a Dwarf from the Iron Peaks. The sort of fish that the chef is out of is Baikai taiga, from Lake Baikai. He starts to provide us with the recipe for making them, but we don’t pay a great deal of attention.
- Most of the party head over to the aboyeur and check transport options. The fish need to be transported to the Palace in Eidolon, Alfhiem. He directs us to Lucas, the leader of ‘The Returned’ – who are the stern looking people in green armour that aren’t drinking or smoking, and only eating lightly. They are in defensive clusters in a couple of corners. Imri approaches one of them, having neatly avoided getting engaged on the way (a prospective partner starts looking for her fiancé to duel). She explains the urgency of the matter, the worry at the highest levels of the administration, and the personal requirements of her Majesty, and then segues into a request for transportation to secure vital supplies for the continuation of the Crown. These military men keenly volunteer to assist, as long as discussions can occur outside the room, before they collapse from the effects of passive smoking. While Lake Baikai in Ruska is part of a contested area, they are happy to travel there. An offer is made to travel via the Hellgates, if the mission is urgent. After verifying that they are not using a euphemism or metaphor, Imri demurs, over concerns that the fumes and heat of Hell could damage the delicate and critical supplies we are seeking. Their alternative plan is to travel by ship, which may take three or four days to reach the lake (a thousand miles a day, overland?). The downside of this approach is the chance of reavers, pirates, and enemy interception, but that all sounds safer than demonic customs agents to us. We agree to meet Force Leader Lucas on the west Common at dawn tomorrow, with a detailed itinerary.
- Meanwhile, the increasingly unstable Palace Chef has fallen off the balcony, and passed out, so is carried back inside where he is tended by the kitchen first aid team.
- We return to the Guild Library, where Imri carefully reads Obidiah’s “The Splendour of Ythanamai”. The Librarians would be much faster at finding the information, but its on the list of books that are too dangerous to read. The book containing the reasons why the book is too dangerous to read is also on the list. We set a watch over Imri, and she reads on. Amongst other factoids, we learn:
- In the stygian depths of the Baikai Lake, there is a crevice or crevasse in which there lies a passage to the Plane of Water, where the Elementals Lords dwell. The appropriate way to prepare the traditional human sacrifice / guest-gift is provided, in exacting detail – the filleting is particularly precise.
- The Speak to Aquatics spell is listed in the middle of a descriptive passage of another waterway; presumably it works like a scroll.
- The Calamar are described, with lemon and bread crumbs.
- A fish from a particular Isle of Adventure provides great powers for a year; however the directions to the isle are clearly garbled or encoded, and the passage is worthless.
- The Baikai Lake is huge – several hundred miles long, and perhaps a hundred miles wide. It is very far north, and frozen for ten months of the year. Exports of the local areas are predominantly Reindeer and Elk Velvet. The area is currently occupied by Swordworlds troops, who are slaves of the Calamar.
- We suddenly realise it is after midnight, and before we head off to bed, those still awake stop in at the Astrologers’ Tower for some good advice. The Astrologer had not yet mastered questions, but could provide each of us with an appropriate answer, if we could later determine the correct question. They were:
- “Do not feed the fisherman” – Ibrihim
- “No, it was merely rendered unconscious” – Imri
- “Trust the drunken man” – Vladimir
- We are up before dawn, after less than 4 hours sleep. We take our gear, including the cold weather gear and recently purchased carpets (120sp each, if you don’t already have one of Ibrihim’s Magic Flying Carpets®), and head down to the western common. We find a bizarre contrivance, a kind of giant catamaran with a series of spikes instead of oars, masts, and rigging. We are greeted by Captain Toric, skipper of The Assimilator’s Claw, a freshly-build crystal ship from Eidolon. We find out that while it is only 5 weeks since it left the ship builders’ yards, it has already been in four pitched battled. The marines on duty appear willing to launch into their fifth at any moment. Once we are assured that the cabins are enchanted to descend to the earth safety if the ship breaks up, we suddenly elect to stay on deck. The ship free-falls to around 18,000 feet, and then starts to fall sideways – it is soon doing somewhere in excess of a hundred miles an hour (or more than 39mph, anyway). This altitude is apparently ideal, as we can’t be seen from below or above. For the rest of our time on this vessel, we intermittently glance up into the blue-purple sky, wary of what could be watching. The ship is powered by Living Crystal and Words of Power. As long as its magic, that’s alright.
- Shortly after lunch, we arrive at the Iron Peaks, a dwarven protectorate of Alfheim which lies to its South East, probably just north of the Lunar Empire, or something – we’ve covered an awful lot of geography already. The Claw descends to just above a mountain shoulder, and we climb to the ground on a rope ladder. After walking down the river valley for a mile or so, we find neatly farmed fields and a carven entrance to a large dwarven town. We talk to a senior dwarf (Name?, Job?), and find out a lot about the trade missions that Doran undertook:
- The dwarves run a trade caravan all over central and eastern Alusia. It takes about five years for the caravan to complete the round trip. They send out a new caravan every ten years or so, and trade various goods up and down the route, finally brining a collection of the goods back to Eidolon.
- The route passes through the Lunar Empire, Arabie, Hindia, Ruska, and other places we have never heard of - where is Kashmir?
- Doran was the Senior Caravan Master. He, along with several hundred other dwarves, went out almost 40 years ago and never returned.
- Senior Caravan Master Calan set out ten years later with several hundred more dwarves, and did not return either.
- Several scouting parties have been sent out to determine what has happened to the caravans; they haven’t returned either.
- All this has been reported, frequently and in detail, to Eidolon, but with no response until now.
- We purchase 10 2-gallon barrels that the taiga are usually transported in, which is a standard 20 year supply. We also learn how the fish are stored - around an ounce of a very expensive Arabian spice is added to each barrel, and this keeps them fresh for decades. We resolve to head to Arabie to buy some of this spice, partially because it sounds a whole lot warmer than Baikai Lake. Returning to the Claw shortly after dusk, we set a course South and East.
We fly all day, hopefully heading towards Arabie.
We fly until we reach the city of Samakar, in Arabie. It is late morning when we hove-to over a patch of desert several miles from the city. The city is a wonder to behold, but then so is our vessel. Tegan finds the city awkward to look at, as it is on fire, with a 80 yard high demon shovelling coal onto it. Did I mention that Tegan lives in some mystical metaphorical parallel world? The entire party gets rugged up, and practises a little flying before approaching the city. It turns out that Vlad is a natural, while Imri still treats a flying carpet like a rowboat. Once we straighten out, we head along the road until we are only a few hundred yards from the northern city gates. Dusting ourselves off, we hail an inbound carter, Amaris (Ars to his friends). He lets us know that the Sultan is building a Quorax, and to avoid paying the head tax, we should declare ourselves to be students. We chat and walk alongside his bullock cart. For a conveyer of mass consumable vegetable products, he seemed to know a lot about the rarer spices; fortunately, he doesn’t recommend a cousin who is a spice merchant.
At the gate, the ‘guards’ appear suspiciously overdressed, and highly knowledgeable. When we say we are students, they ask ‘where from?’, and when we reply ‘Seagate’ (honesty is apparently effective when you have nothing to hide), they tell us there is no institution of higher learning in Seagate, only a mad mercenary guild. Both parties get highly suspicious of the other. They do a quick demon search of the cart. After quick looks at each other, we assure the guards we have no demons on us. They tell us to hand over all papers, books, diaries, notes, etc. I have some notes with pictures of fish, to work out fish/barrel packaging techniques. They take the notes away, promising to return them later. As it happens, they do so. Our subsequent discovery of a public library containing vast knowledge makes me suspect that my little deformed-taiga / barrel packing problem will be puzzled over by generations of scholars to come.
Inside the town, apart from Tegan noticing that a third of the populace is immolated, we progress to the nearest market, with help from Ars. He has to leave us, after showing us the spice markets, but gives us directions to a nearby souk, where we can meet him again. The spice markets are, live the rest of Samakar, very crowded and loud. The spice merchant we did business with had a wide range of addictive substances, some of which were very good and reasonably priced. He also had Takh, which allows you to change your visions of the future, and thence change the future. You need to buy the right potion for the event you wish to change however – short victorious wars, strong first sons, prosperous business ventures, etc. Tegan tried a sample, but I’m not sure she knew which one. We also bought the package of spice that the vendor had put aside for the dwarves a few decades ago (conveniently to hand, possibly due to a vision of the vendor?). Tegan starts chatting to an Angel of Michael, who is lost. She invites him to a nearby souk, where we can all get directions to the nearest temple of Michael. We play along with her vision, and even engage in indirect conversation with this hallucination, who calls itself Loriel. Loriel is in town to help out on a divine exorcism, but is happy to put his feet up and have a drink of brandy, as the exorcism won’t start until he arrives. While I think we are in a different souk to that which Ars recommended, Ars turns up shortly and chats as well. I don’t even think S-P-Y, and the rest seem unsurprised. Having mixed the evils of alcohol with the headiness of divine conversation and a cocktail of various mystic spices, Tegan then tries to induce a vision. She sees a stranger, who goes to kiss her (which she regards as a common reaction to her presence), and a demon leaps out of his mouth and bites her head off. She replays the vision, and cuts the stranger’s head off with her short sword – or the table knife, as it appears to us.
As a break from trying drugs, we decide to join Loriel in his religious duties. The Temple of Michael is in the Street of Temples. A huge tower topped with a bell dominates the street; it is dedicated to Mazda, the local fire god. Loriel and Tegan chat about the conflagration she (and possibly he) is witnessing; apparently it is a sign of the Mazda faithful. The Powers of Light Temple has no supporting beams, and its roof is held up by faith; I don’t know how they got planning approval. Inside there is a priest, Brother Hammer of God, in the middle of what looks like a remove curse ritual, on some poor bound and writhing figure. When Loriel turns up, Br HoG extracts the demon, Loriel kills it with a single stroke, and then wanders off into the city. Tegan is obviously overcome with religious fervour, and says “If I don’t kiss someone soon, I might never be able to safely”. We lead her away, towards the gates.
In our seventeenth market (I think), we pass by a menagerie seller; or rather, we stop, and engage in haggling for all sorts of goods. Tegan buys a capuchin monkey for 6sp, then a pair of Squibbons for 2 gs each. We discover the meaning of ‘happy as a sackful of Squibbons. The monkey is terrified of the herbivorous Squibbons – later we learn that Squibbons like to dash out monkey brains for fun (and that they treat any other living thing weighing less than 10 pounds similarly). I save a local government official from a rioting mob, to the rest of the party’s disgust. I guess they are fans of small government. Having gone past the chained orc several times, Tegan’s consumerist tendencies are worn down, and she purchases him too. We return to the ship around mid afternoon.
At the ship, we learn that the Orc, Archak, is a Bakran, a noble Orc from the plane of Salamaka (a plane visited several times before by Guild parties), whose family has been wiped out and disgraced by rival Bakran. He has a daughter studying at the secret special forces training base known as the Southhaven Academy for Girls. He tells us the current price for Scorpion’s head in Salamaka is 75,000, and for Damien the Black, 50,000. He is happy to be Tegan’s slave, despite being capable of killing the entire party ten times over with a runcible spoon. He has been an ally of the Calamar and Swordsworld forces, and a respectful enemy of the Beltan Elves. They are a little wary in having him on board, but are soon diverted by the Squibbons. We get requested for four of them, and whip back to the city before our carpets expire. This time, it doesn’t take too long to purchase what we need, with Imri cracking the whip every time anyone turns to look at anything.
We fly North and East. It’s warm.
We fly North and East. It’s cool.
We fly North and East. It’s cold.
We fly North and East. Ice freezes on my whiskers.
We fly North and East. From inside my carpet, I see Tegan, the arctic ranger, finally looks content.
I don’t know how many days we flew north.
I think its still Meadow
We reach Lake Baikai. It’s a frozen desolate lake over five hundred miles long and scores of miles wide, wending through a regular ocean of conifer trees. Apparently its summer here, but the lake is solid ice, and the ground covered with snow. After scouting the area, the Claw descends so we can disembark, and then heads off to some alternative reality. It looks like a long walk home. Imri sis given a Nexus Crawler by the Elves, which is a device/construct/creature that we can use to summon them.
We approach the nearest small set of buildings, hoping to find a quiet fishing village. Instead, its a quiet company of engineers from the Swordsworld. We talk to the chief plumber, who seems to mistake us for a new troop of foot-soldiers. Archak has a quick chat with him in a foreign language (it could be betrayal, warning, or setting the scene for us, but we can’t take him on, and he gets all huffy when someone suggests he could do anything dishonourable by his lights, so I let it go). We tell an unfortunate (and true) story about being dressed for Arabie, and preferring to be there, but ending up being sent here to secure a supply of taiga, and ask for a situation briefing. After friendly agreements about the competence of bureaucrats, and a bit of a fire-side chat, he advises us to head ten miles along the lake, to see Harold of Innsbrook to get the taiga. He even leads us a sleigh, which the party is keen on, for some silly reason. I don’t know if he is on to us or not, but he strongly suggests we avoid Officer Sasha, the Guardian of Morality.
Making our way back into the wilderness with our twenty barrels, Tegan, her wolf, her monkey, and her orc, seem keen on a ten miles slog through the snow. I point out that we have five carpets and could fly to Innsbrook in 15 minutes, rather than an all-day hike. Tegan is noticeably unimpressed, and declares she is going to use the sleigh. Archak takes her side, and that is that. We split the party. All the sensible people pick up a rope with a string of four barrels each, and fly off, after indicating a likely half-hour return. We fly for fifteen minutes, and landing in a clearing of trees a couple of hundred yards outside Innsbrook. Imri fails to ship her oars in time, and crashes into a tree, before landing on the barrels, destroying one and cracking another. The rest of us land and unload our barrels. Imri gets her healing magic ready, and we agree to leave her alone and unseen, while the rest of us fly off to chivvy Tegan into the air. Do we take Imri’s carpet??
Meanwhile, Tegan’s menagerie flushes out a drunk from the bushes. His advice is ‘Drink, if you are going to Innsbrook – it kills them if you drink this’. Apparantly the drunk sees people climbing into people’s heads and controlling them, but they can’t stand alcohol, so he is the only one who is not controlled by the evil forces. He doesn’t name the forces of evil as Sobriety, and Tegan & Archak drink with him. The drink’s got enough of a kick that an elite superorc like Archak coughs and is cautious on the second gulp. The drunken mutterings continue, as Tegan swallows a yarn about the Fishgod being behind the brain-eating, as [something scrawled – bad handwriting] broke the seal, and they came swimming out of the depths. Calamar? Tequila worms? Whatever.
Leaving Imri behind with the barrels, we fly back looking for Tegan. By the time we findher, she, Archak, and even her little monkey are decidedly drunk. We land on the edge of the ice and they regale us with their fragments of conspiracy theory. After the first sentence, Jules is drinking, and Vladimir joins him shortly thereafter. Rahne is a little more cautious, and I still firmly believe in abstinence. Eventually we round up the monkey, wolf, barrels, Archak and Tegan, and weave our way back to where we left Imri. Imri, on hearing the tale, decides that only the sober people should be sent into town, which aggravates the surly drunks, but amuses me. Eventually we all sneak into town, with Rahne and Imri having had small swigs of the foul grain alcohol. I’m protected from any mind attacks through a careful blend of herbs and spices, selected in Arabie, and blended in the snows of Ruska.
The village seems almost deserted, run-down and derelict. Vladimir’s extra sensory perception picks up a few people wandering the village, one in a hut alone, and three in another. Around 80 people are deep underground, in some sort of religious trance. We visit the lone person in a hut, but their doors are barred, and they scream when we approach; after both magic and brute force fail to open the doors, we circle around to the three-person hut. We are met by some friendly dwarves. Tegan sees they have horns and tails, but they seem fine to the rest of us. We chat with them for a while. As far as fish-catching, tea-drinking, polite, friendly, social and decidedly above-ground dwarves go, they seem normal enough. Hearing our problem, they offer to help us fish. They dismiss the people underground as ‘just the humans’. We move our gear into the hut and settle in. We do not share food with them, as we have been warned ‘do not feed the fishermen’.
Around dusk, the humans return from their netherworld ceremony, and wander around the village oddly for a bit before disappearing. We have watches throughout the night, from the loft above the dwarves where we are sleeping. Due to strict elven watch protocol we do not have a light burning, and as Imri is the only one who sees well at night this leads to minor problems, despite the night being only 5 hours long and not particularly deep. Sometime after midnight, something clammy crawls over my neck and face; I
scream like a girl alert the rest of the party, and there is some confusion and kafuffle until a lantern is lit. Vlad believes that the denizen is now downstairs, as our hosts rouse themselves from that place and enquire as to our health. Given that it is now their problem, and they are not the least but concerned, we settle down again.
Lets call it the Eleventh, shall we
Shortly it becomes light, and a few hours later, it is time to get up. We have our (separate) breakfast and medicinal doses, then join the dwarves in preparing to fish. Jules and Tegan spot that the house with the locked doors is now open and empty, with signs of a struggle, but find no clues. Rahne has come down sick, as a reaction to the grain alcohol. The rest of us help chip the overnight ice off the boat, and then haul it a couple of hundred yards over the lake ice until its weight breaks through the thinning crust, and it can be rowed. Imri is very keen to get us away from the village and chivvies us along relentlessly.
The ‘longboat’ is short, crowded and uncomfortable, and rocks incessantly. Imri’s mage current takes us over the frozen expanses of the lake as our breath freezes in front of us. After a long time, the boat stops, and the slow, painstaking process of fishing takes place. It appears to involve nets, lines with hooks, a large number of worms and pieces of dead fish, and a lot of waiting. I sit quietly on a pile of carpets, waiting for it to be over. Imri is also impatient, and wants us to finish after we’ve caught a few fish. To speed things up, after summoning aquatics once or twice and talking to them, she suggests a technique called ‘burley’, which involves gutting Jules like a fish, and letting them feed on his intestines. If course, she doesn’t explain this to us fully, and gets him to start slowly by putting a little blood in the water. Within a couple of minutes, not only do we have full nets, but a large tentacle has come out of the depths and grabbed the bait. Someone (?Rahne? Vladimar?) slashes at the tentacle, while I haul back on Jules. When he falls into my lap on the pile of carpets, I take off, circling in case the rest of the party is still attacked. However, once the bait is out of reach, the water horror descends to its stygian depths again. I drop Jules back on shore, and then cautiously circle back to the ship. It is heading back to land, as Imri has definitely had enough fishing now, despite the rest of the party being keen to press on. We have caught 2 barrels worth of Taiga.
Once on shore, we are even more suspicious of Imri’s behaviour. We leave the barrels outside town as we return, and then we ply her with alcohol (? I think?). Shortly thereafter, she spits out a 4 inch long water scorpion (that is, an eight-legged segmented creature that appears to be made of water) that has been lodged at the back of her tongue, controlling her mind and body. Imri recovers herself quickly at that point, and talks to the creature. It is a water spirit, like a baby elemental, that comes from the plane of Ythanamai (see the earlier reference to a book bearing this name). We decide to leave the village forthwith. Rahne and Vladimir head towards the dwarf’s hut to get our gear, while Jules scouts around, and the rest of us stay in the woods. I don’t think I have taken quite the right combination of spices, as the world is a little surreal, but it seems that the townsfolk have become aware that we are no longer friendly – perhaps we kill Imri’s possessor? They form a number of mobs, and start searching around for us.
Those of us who faded back into the woods are spotted, and Archak and the wolf hold them off long enough for the flight magics to be cast, and the womenfolk (Imri and Tegan) swept up and rescued. Meanwhile, Rahne and Vladimir thump some of the people who are searching the huts for them. It seems that repeatedly stabbing a body renders it inert of scant seconds, but beating it unconscious with a pommel to the side of the head is more effective. They then pretend to be in the loft, with the help of some brook handles and invisibility, and the rest of their attackers swarm up the stairs, allowing them to walk out with the gear. Jules runs distraction for some of the others, and they make their way out of the village laden down with all the gear we didn’t bring fishing. A few minutes later, we meet up a half mile outside town. Some massed chanting rises from the village, and we become apprehensive. We have only two flying spells on, and no opportunity to cast more for several more hours, so we decide to relay the party at least ten miles further away, in case something bad happens.
It takes another hour and a half, but the party is finally ensconced in a warm campsite, with a fire, and a meal starting to cook, as the last of the party are brought in. I keep watch from just above the trees, and alert the party to a giant form rising out of the water – its an elemental that’s hundreds of feet high, one of the Great Ones. We hunker down and wait, while the earth shakes, and Imri can hear the giant creature calling out that it can’t find us. We are glad that we managed to get far enough away, and then hunkered down before the summoning had finished. Meanwhile, Tegan has lured in a wolf with howling (no need for a summoning), and starts talking to it about the surrounding area. It seems that the human village is known by the wild animals as easy pickings, due to the unusual behaviour of its inhabitants. There are no other unusual villages that it is aware of. Tegan also gets directions to a group of 3 witches living nearby that have taught the wolves about magic and various human behaviours. After a hot meal, we rest and wait out the night.
That makes today the Twelfth
The next morning, bright and early, we cast flying magics and head off into the wilderness. We fly for around 3 hours along the side of the lake, and then spot another fishing village. Vlad and Rahne investigate cautiously, then we all follow in once it appears to be safe. The village is bustling, and has a lot of new construction. There is also an inn! The locals appear to be speaking Ruskan, although the inn keeper speaks enough elvish to organise two rooms and a hot lunch, and a few of the others speak a smattering, so we can make our intent known. We negotiate with the local fishermen, and for the princely sum of 55 sp, we get a boat and many eager fishermen happy to catch 18 barrels worth of Taiga. It appears that hard currency is uncommon here.
That afternoon Imri goes fishing, with Rahne and me to keep her company, as there is no need for everyone to be on board, and the boats are a little cramped. The rest laze around, resting and recovering from the vicissitudes of travel. The boat is no more stable than the last, and the horrid incessant lapping of water and sudden lurches as people move around made it impossible to rest, or even relax for a moment. Imri spends some time listening to the call of the deep. However, the fishermen seem competent, and several barrels of fish are caught, gutted, and packed.
Back at the inn, a group of horsemen come riding in. They are from the local lord, who lives in a manor house a few miles away. They interrogate the party mildly, via the innkeeper. Once Imri gets back, we answer their questions via Elvish, as their smattering of Lunar wasn’t enough to be clear. We are invited to the lord’s house for dinner tonight. A coach has been sent for. After an hour or two of cleaning up and resting, we get into the coach for a bumpy ride – suspension and springs appear to have not made it this far east. We talk to the local Boyar, or hereditary feudal overlord of the area. He is relatively civilised (i.e. much more so than we), and has a wish to bring modern attitudes, technology and customs to his backwards province, starting with an influx of settlers and cosmopolitan ideas. He speaks Elvish, Erehleine, Lunar, Ellenic, and of course ‘Common’, the Ruskan tongue. He was educated somewhere far away to the south and west. He is interested to hear about the possessed village in the next province, and believes that he can
seize liberate the village and surrounding lands. He is a little concerned about the Swordsworld people, but not overly so. He commits to a contract to purchase a score of carpets, if I can deliver them via our flying ship (logistics are always tricky). We chat long into the gathering dusk. Eventually we are loaded into the coach and roll back down the hill to the village, where we sleep soundly.
Thirteenth, Unlucky for Some
It’s minus 5 and snowing – must be time to go fishing again. Imri and some of the other hardier folk bundle up and head out fishing; I fly cover in case of kraken, Swordsworlders, or whatever. They bring back a fish in a bucket. The fish is possessed by cooperative a water scorpion/spirit/baby elemental. We question it in the water, in the bucket on the lake, and on land. It tells us of the formless world of Ythanamei, where they are not individuals, and are without minds or functions, and of the excitement of coming through the gap between worlds, and the curiosity and desire to learn and experiment with a world that has solidity and boundaries, land and sky, things to talk to, and so much to discover. It tells us of the portal or crack in reality and the bottom of the lake; of the Great Ones, the major elementals who can come through for a short time only; and the myriad of Outer Ones like itself. We estimate the portal is about a yard across. We convince Imri and Rahne not to kill the water spirit immediately, but instead transport it to the Boyar, and show it to him, before dispatching it. He is interested and concerned, and promises that is there is something he can do to help, he will do so. We remind him of the importance of drinking heavily when fighting these things.
Fourteenth; the New Moon is good for Fishing
We fish. More fish are caught. They are gutted and packed. It is the New Moon.
Fifteenth; still having Barrels of fun
We fish. More fish are caught, gutted and packed, and finally all our barrels are full. We activate the nexus crawler, and shortly afterwards The Assimilator’s Claw and the survivors of Captain Toric’s crew turn up. The ship has been thoroughly melted, and around half the crew are missing. It looks like fishing isn’t the worst thing we could have been doing after all! We load up the 19 barrels of spiced Taiga fish, and brief Toric on the events. Our version concentrates much more on the necessity to plug a void where inter-dimensional invaders are coming through, and less on the repeated gutting of fish. As we have no namers or rune mages, and neither does the ship’s crew, Cpt Toric recommends the use of a magic circle. This device is a circle with various patterns and interweavings made from wrought iron, and if placed around a small crack between realities, it should seal the gap (from that side, anyway).
We also mention the rear-echelon Swordsworlders, although the Beltan elves don’t seem too concerned. They think it would be a good opportunity for us to pick up a Guardian of Morality, as they are quite valuable to the opposition, although not dangerous per se – kind of like a chaplain. Of course, what an inter-dimensional Beltan battle ship regards as a soft target may not be easy for us. We wish the Beltan elves good luck, and assure them that the rest of our mission should not take too long. They head off into another battle – I have no idea how elves get to be such a long-lived folk, given this crew’s war schedule, and the excessive partying of the other Alfheim elves.
That evening, back at our little snow-side village, we ask the blacksmith if he can whip up a magic circle about a yard across, from the picture we have been given. It is completely beyond his skill, but he reckons that the smiths in the ‘big city’ of Omsk should be able to produce one, it would probably take a week to make. We get directions to Omsk, which is about a week’s travel away on foot (so, probably 70-80 miles, or 2 hours by carpet).
We decide to explore the depths of Lake Baikai to scout and measure the hole.
Sixteenth; a punt on the lake
We borrow a boat big enough for all of us, Imri casts Water Breathing on everyone, Cold Protection on the divers (Imri, Vlad, Tegan and Archak), Mage current to take us out there, then attempts to Bind Water for a couple of hours trying to ignore the distractions by the water creatures but fails and is eventually too exhausted to continue. We return to our inn to rest and try again tomorrow.
Seventeenth; a refreshing dip
We try again, this time Tegan also puts Night Vision on the divers and Rahne shares a cup of tea with Imri to help clear her mind. Jules tries making Imri invisible which probably helps as the water creatures seem less intrusive. This time the Binding holds, Vlad checks that there aren't dozens of water creatures lurking below us in ambush and finds that the Bound Water has a mind. Tegan then refuses to go into the bound water, Archak won't go without Tegan and Imri won't go with only two of them. Jules flies Tegan back to land so she can cast Night Vision on him, then returns and Ibrihim knocks himself out putting Cold Protection on Jules. With limited time left on the various spells, the divers follow the directions of the bound water to find the 2' wide portal on a ledge about 7,000' below the surface. They take measurements and Jules leaves a locatable stone that Rahne had prepared earlier.
Back on land Imri and Ibrihim are exhausted, Rahne and Jules have sufficient duration remaining on their carpets to fly to Omsk, so they set off with the picture of the circle and the portal measurements.
At Omsk they find that they and the locals have very few languages in common, making use of a hundred words in Elven and lots of hand gestures they find an inn, find a blacksmith and commission him to make the circle.
When the rest of the party flies in later in the evening, Jules is partying with the local lumberjacks and Rahne is quietly sipping tea at the inn.
Eighteenth; forging a sign
Rahne introduces Imri to the smith, and keeps an eye on his oldest apprentice while Imri sorts out the mistranslations. The sign will take three days to make, the smith has put all of his other work on hold as his old master had told him about signs like this and when they were requested the need would be dire. He also suggests we seek the help of the priests in the capital.
We decide to try the local priest first. It turns out the local priest speaks some common as he had served with the Tomsk army under some western generals. Since we are mages he thinks we should be fine with the circle and won't need the priests.
Nineteenth; mind your fingers
The smith has worked non-stop on the sign and has it ready for us in the morning. He is keen for us to take his oldest apprentice back with us as it is time for him to start his journeyman years, regretfully we decline as he is too big for us to carry and does not have any experience flying.
Rahne carries the sign on the flight back, it starts to get warmer as we approach the lake. We make our preparations and head back out on the lake. Ibrihim prepares a wooden frame for the circle so we don't need to be holding it when we put it over the portal. This time Imri, Vlad, Ibrihim and Rahne go down to the portal. Rahne carefully places the circle over the portal, the portal folds in on itself, closing and taking the circle and the part of the frame where our hands would otherwise have been with it.
Back on land we head off to see the local lord and report our success. ...
Twentieth; excuse me meister
Fly to the Swordsworld controlled village. Abduct a painter who used to be a lumberjack and interrogate him about the Guardian. Sneak into town after dark, Rahne knocks on the Guardians door, smiles and asks for the Guardian, when he answers Archak grabs him and everyone heads for the hills.
We summon The Assimilator’s Claw and are surprised when The Eternal Vengeance turns up. They have our fish and remember dealing with us but we don't remember them. After much confusion they tell us that this sort of thing happens to them sometimes, reality is frequently a casualty of multi-dimensional battles.
Twenty-First; out of the war zone
We fly towards Elfheim.
Twenty-Second; into the fire
After briefly docking at the tallest tower of the upper city, we are dropped at freight docks in the lower city. Imri hires porters to take us and the barrels to the warehouse. The porters tell us it is dangerous to move food around town because of the shortages, so we mark them all as sand hoping to avoid trouble. The porters also tell us that a spy from Seagate was recently caught. The spy claimed to be something called a Journalist but was taking so many notes on the civil issues that she was obviously a spy for Isil-Eth.
At the warehouse they reluctantly accept the fish, it turns out the Privy Chancellor is concerned that sending adventurers to fetch luxury goods for the palace when there is a general food shortage in Elfheim may cast him in a bad light.
We head to the upper city to find the Privy Chancellor and get it all sorted out. Archak wears some token manacles to avoid trouble. There is some sort of protest rally in the upper city. The guards are concerned about Dwarf smuggling and several Elves ask Imri who she supports and if she supports freedom for all Elves.
The Privy Chancellor is in the middle of a party and drugged to the eyeballs. He thinks Isil-Eth has hired us to kill him so is blowing his fortune on one last party for all his friends. We assure him we are working for him and have no plans to kill him which makes him depressed because now he's destitute and would we just kill him to end the suffering. Imri convinces him to relocate the party to somebody else's party to save whatever he has left and hopefully to sober him up so we can get some sense. He loves the idea and they take the party and us to the palace of the Princess. The Privy Chancellors drug enhanced orgy goers don't seem to mesh well with the Princess' diplomatic high tea but we miss that fun as Imri drags us back to the Privy Chancellors palace to await his sober return.
Twenty-Fifth; the cook, the cloud, and 19 barrels of fish
After three days we suspect the Chancellor might not be coming back, he is not locatable within 15 miles of Eidolon.
We decide to try visiting the palace cook. After getting lost in the palace gardens we ask for directions and eventually reach the kitchens. He sends a scullion to help us get a cloud and bring the barrels of fish to the kitchen. We hear the Chancellor has fled the city after ruining delicate political negotiations at the Princess' palace, we deny all knowledge of the event and promptly leave town too.
We fly towards Bergelfen and camp for the night in the pass.
Twenty-Sixth; The Barracks of Bergelfen
Arriving in Bergelfen we get directions to Isil-Eth's chambers above (what is now) the Beltan barracks. One of her aides shows us the entrance to the Slow Portal to Seagate.
After three hours of slogging through the swamp and arguing about whether we should have flown we climb over sacks of carrots and onions and emerge from a cupboard below the guild kitchens.
We report to Isil-Eth, Ibrihim negotiates our pay while we try to play up the positives of our mission and play down the negatives.
Isil-Eth is not impressed that the Privy Chancellor has fled and wants us to sort it out and bring him back. She thinks he will have fled to his mother, Lady Talis.
Twenty-Seventh; Don't fly in the Swamp
On our way back to the Slow Portal, guild security warns us not to leave the path under any circumstances and flying within the portal would be fatal.
Flying back through the pass from Bergelfen we land in a field that some Elves are clearing of yellow flowers and camp at its edge.
First of Heat; Lady Talis
After several days flying and camping we eventually reach Merche and seek an audience at the palace with Lady Talis.
She is extremely disappointed and embarrassed by her son and has exiled him to guard the western border. We are allowed to go and fetch him back to Eidolon but we are not to bring him back through here as she does not want to see him.
She directs us to an inn to stay in for the night. The inn is as palatial as the Privy Chancellors palace, but with better food and service. We are concerned at the cost but Ibrihim assures us it's a reasonable expense as this is the sort of place Isil-Eth would stay at.
Second of Heat; Welcome to the border
After a few hours flight (170 miles) west we spot the border outpost and land to walk in.
Just as we regain our feet we are ambushed. A flight of arrows from the forest scatter us and leave Ibrihim bleeding on the ground. Archak, Rahne, and Vlad take the fight to the attacking elves and are soon supported by the rest of the party. The elves are all defeated but at Imri's insistence, not killed.
Marching and dragging our prisoners we head into the tower and hand them over to the guards demanding justice (apparently this translated into Elven as please heal them and slap their hands for being naughty).
We seek audience with Maristal but he is too drunk to make much sense. We rest and are healed while Ibrihim sobers up the Privy Chancellor.
Once sober, Maristal is reluctant to return. We tell him that Isil Eth values his work and specifically requested his return, this changes his mind and we are soon on board the cloud he summons and flying back to Eidolon.
Third of Heat; Eight by Cloud
Fourth of Heat; Facing the music
We stay with Maristal until he has safely reached his palace in the upper city. Deciding that we have done enough damage to Elven society, we leave Maristal to face the music and start flying back to Elfenburg.
Fifth of Heat; Last cold night
After one last cold night camping out in the mountain pass, we arrive in Elfenburg.
Isil Eth is not here so we continue to Seagate via the slow portal to report the completion of our mission.