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Some were nervous. Some were frightened. Some felt guilty for what we had built, and others wrapped themselves in their arrogance and fought back against what we must do. We failed our people, and now they are dead and scattered. We sought to protect the new paradigm and grand divinations, but now the fates are incoherent, inaccurate, as if reality itself has twisted.
With our talent, tradition, and arts useless, what are we to do?
Even the stars look different--blinding, faltering. With what little we have left, what are we to do?
What are we to do?
Two nations once occupied the region now known as the Sodden Lands. The strongest were the Lirgeni, descendants and exiles from Rahadoum who sought religious freedom in the lands to the south. Throughout the Age of Enthronement, the kingdom of Lirgen blossomed under the rule of the Saoc Brethren, a collective of philosophers who sought guidance from the stars. The Saoc Brethren used their knowledge of astronomical patterns and astronomy to guide their civilization to prosperity, ushering in a golden age that rivaled many of the Inner Sea region’s historic empires. Though nearly as powerful were the Yamasans, whose vast swaths of rich farmland and expert trade tactics ensured they remained a dominant supplier of food and other goods to the surrounding regions.
The kingdoms’ meteoric rise did not last, though, for when Aroden died in 4606 AR and the Eye of Abendego formed in the waters to the west of Lirgen and Yamasa, the overwhelming storm blotted out the stars above with its clouds and flooded the coastline below with its waves. Neither nation was prepared for the cataclysm that ensued. The death of a god and the subsequent widespread cataclysms that shook the world led to the destruction of these once-great nations, killing nearly all who once dwelled there and scattering across Avistan and Garund any survivors who remained. Nearly half of Lirgen sank beneath the Arcadian Ocean in a matter of weeks following the disaster; the rest swiftly flooded or was simply blown to pieces by the hurricane winds. Of course, some managed to stay and carve out a meager subsistence amid the wind-blistered, post-apocalyptic wasteland, but their lives were shattered and their only prospect became mere survival.
The wisest among the Saoc Brethren knew something terrible was coming, but the stars they had come to rely on were elusive in their answers, and all were completely unprepared for the nations’ obliteration. Following the catastrophe, many of the Saoc Brethren remained behind to consult the stars and attempt to understand the catastrophe, but most could hardly comprehend the astrological signs, and those who did suffered irreparable damage to their sanity as their nation drowned, with a huge majority of the group partaking in a massive ritual suicide in 4615 AR.
The former capital of Lirgen, Hyrantam now sits half-submerged in the flooded wasteland that remains, with only the leaning tops of the cities' hundreds of observation towers peaking out of the churning muck. Those few Lirgeni who stayed behind strung up catwalks and makeshift bridges between these isolated tower-islands, and convluted webs of ropes and pulleys transport people and parcels throughout the barely surviving city while houseboats and floating boardwalks bob in the waters below.
Against a backdrop of a swampy coastline, barely visible through sheets of driving rain, the strange ruins of Hyrantam rise from a choppy sea. Below, the waves churn and slosh over reefs grown from collapsed towers, but those towers that still stand command the view. Over a hundred stone structures in varying states of repair rise from the waves, some partially collapsed due to the erosive action of countless waves, but others seemingly untouched by the passage of decades since the Age of Lost Omens first dawned. What were once hilltops now form scattered islets just offshore.
A particularly dense section of towers rises in what was once the city’s heart, with spires connected by rope bridges and wooden walkways, showing that the last remaining survivors of Hyrantam still cling to their ancestral home in spite of the nearly constant storm. More recently destroyed ships lie partially impaled or sunken in shallow waters near this tenacious center of civilization, the sails, masts, and hulls shredded by bolts of lightning. As if to underscore the danger, a fresh bolt from the churning storm clouds above lances down to strike a ship’s mast, followed by a thunderous peal. A single beacon flares at the entrance to a wide channel through the wreckage, beckoning ships into a sheltered harbor amid the bridge-connected towers.
In Frogmarch Ridge, the northern banks of the Frogmarch River survive today as a series of low swampy islands that support dozens of towers. The isles themselves consist of thick layers of silt and mud deposited here over the decades, burying many lower structures forever. The Lirgeni enclave lies nestled at the heart of the ridge. While dangerous predators and amphibious horrors pose a constant threat to hunters, fishers, and scavengers who ply their trade along this stretch, compared to the other regions of Hyrantam, the Ridge could almost be called safe.
And here in the hunter’s lodge, Storm’s Pearl, the top floors of a partially flooded tower serve the enclave’s citizens as a place to rest and escape from the trials of daily survival, to prepare their kills, and to swap tales and advice.
And, of course, to drink.
Suse Arcoung, the boisterous, matron mama of the Pearl, dodges an empty bottle as it’s slung across the small space in the center of the room that serves as the performing stage. It slams with a heavy thud into the far wall, rolling across the floor and coming to rest at Dima’s boot. Tag Dima? Boos fill the air directed at the man who threw the bottle, while cheers and whistles simultaneously rise up. Suse cackles in glee, herself several sheets to the wind this late in the evening. She shakes her fist good-naturedly at the grizzled man who threw the bottle. ”Easy Vyncis, we’s just gettin’ warmed up! I know it’s a bit out ‘o tune, but what d’ya expect--Craggy ain’t got but one arm!” She turns to the teetering minstrels behind her, a man with a drum, one with a lute, and one one-armed man with a flute. ”Alright lads, let’s hit ‘em with the bowl!” The musicians immediately pick up with a rendition of a well known shanty, as the rest of the lodge joins in the tune. Outside the storm rages, as ever, and the dull growl of distant thunder provides a constant basso accompaniment to the music.
We’re off! In this first post, feel free to describe a little about yourself, your presence in Hyrantam, etc., then work yourselves into the existing scene. Feel free to make up names or embellish details based on the basic description of town you’ve been given (the module doesn’t give much!) My goal is to establish the Pearl as a frequent fixture in the story, and I’m relying on everyone to make it feel like home :).
Earlier in the morning, in the Frogmarch waterways just north of the river…
Dima squints out through the rain to the eastern shore at where the “dawn” would be, thinking to himself that the sky seems lighter there for a moment. A flash of lightning from the west interrupts his brief reverie, looking down at the young Mwangi boy in his own rowboat who is steadily scooping out buckets of collecting water from the ongoing storm. ”That’s right Kosi, just keep a goin’ with it while I dive down for your father and mother.”
The boy nods and resumes his scooping with added fervor, while Dima gives another heave of both oars to keep his space next to the other boat with Kosi’s parents, Koffi and Ame. He has to shout to be heard over the advancing squall coming in from the west. ”You sure this is where it went down Kofi?”
”Yes!” says Koffi with a vigorous nod. ”Yes this is where Baaba and I capsized!”
”Allright,” says Dima firmly. He signals to Koffi and both men throw their buoy anchors overboard, letting the lines run down until they hit the bottom, tying off some of the excess even as they lash their own boats together so as to not have them crash into each other. Dima places both oars down in the boat and wipes his eyes to peer down into the murky water. He then closes his eyes, and prays.
Koffi and his partner Baaba were piloting a larger barge the evening before, when a rogue wave hit them and tipped the barge over, dumping four sailors into the waters of the Frogmarch as well as a few precious birds, some barrels of tar and other building supplies…and a small chest of valuables that was a gift to Harbormaster Vancen from a “privateer” ship out of Drenchport that occasionally ‘runs the Eye’ to here. Dima doesn’t know the contents but he does know the chest – an unusually good teakwood chest from the old Lirgeni days, inlaid with jade and elaborately scrolled, but most importantly completely waterproof for transporting precious goods. Dima’s had a couple of choice items brought to him by Koffi and Baaba in their fine chest, so he remembers it well. Fortunately, the barge righted itself with Koffi and the two deckhands emerging from the water fine, though Baaba was injured with a nasty blow to the head. The loss of the barrels and supplies were regrettable, but the loss of the chest was catastrophic to Koffi’s reputation with the Harbormaster.
As such, Koffi turned to Dima for help…and having nothing better to do the next morning than help the friend who found his mooring spot, Dima obliged him.
Dima visualizes the fine chest in his mind, putting forth his hand to feel out for it far below in the waters. Finding nothing, he stretches out farther and tries to account for the drift the box might have had with last night’s incoming tide. There…there! That’s it! Dima nods to himself and abruptly stands up in his rowboat, careful to balance and not tip he and the boy Kosi over. He sheds his poncho, revealing a massively muscled chest decorated only with a golden torc around his neck and a prominent tattoo of a flexing muscle with a broken chain adorning his upper left chest and arm; braided leather arm cords and wristbands accentuate his trunk-like arms nearly to excess. An Ulfen patterned kilt completes his attire, carefully taking off his fine boots and stowing them hastily in his favorite waterproofed leather haversack. Dima then checks his belt pouch and withdraws a stout leather weapon cord, attaching the other end to his favorite gleaming trident that he withdraws seemingly out of nowhere from a dark green quiver. With relish, Dima strangely kisses both of his biceps in turn, followed by clasping his rough hands together with great force and rubbing them together vigorously, bellowing out an oath of exultation to The Strong Man, though the wind and rain dowses out even the strongest shouts atop the water.
”Big Master Dim, whatta if I fall out while your gone down there? Your big lizard will eat me up!” Kosi points through the rain in the direction of two eyes and a large scaled snout not but five feet away from the pair of boats.
”No worries boy! You’re too small and scrawny to make more than a morsel for my Magne!” Dima laughs heartily then, though seeing Kosi’s eyes grow wide with fear, he leans down to pat the boy on the shoulder. ”Don’t fret now, as Magne is with me on this dive. We’ll get your papa’s chest and be right up before you know it – just you keep bailing out the boat though so we have something to come back to eh?” Grinning widely then from ear to ear, the big hunter touches his tattoo and then traces wet circles across his face and head, uttering another prayer to The Strong Man. Sure enough a bubble of air starts to form, and he dives smoothly into the churning water, trident in hand. The dark eyes and snout sink under the surface as well, leaving the two boats atop the surface with the latest squall band moving past them.
It only takes a handspan of thirty-counts to find what he’s looking for, feeling the location of the chest with his free hand before him, the magical light from his trident illuminating the way through the murky gloom of the water. The fine chest is partially stuck in the silt between a rock and one of the ruined barrels, bits of black tar streaming out in the direction of the current. Dima surveys the scene and has Magne do a good pass of the area before giving him the visual signal to guard him, swimming farther down to give a good heave-ho at the sealed teakwood chest. It’s small enough that he can heft it mostly with one arm and keep a steadying hand on it with his trident hand, but just to be certain he invokes the essence of the bull, giving him even more strength to manage his load back up to the surface with ease.
”Here ya go, Koffi!” shouts Dima as he holds the edge of the man’s boat with one hand and heaves the box over the side with the other, not much unlike a stone toss from the Magnimar games. Though Koffi protests at the slight marring of his chest with Dima’s casual tossing of it into his boat, his face is one of pure delight and gratitude, as is his wife Ame in the simple fact that their livelihood is saved. The hunter moves over to more carefully heave himself into his own boat, with Kosi clapping in delight at the success.
”All in all, a good morning, eh boy? That’s how we help each other out.” Nodding firmly and taking off his weapon cord to smooth out his hair in the increasing downpour, Dima then shouts over to Koffi for the gift he was promised in exchange for the aid. A rather fine and fully intact abalone shell is offered in return, as well as a small pouch full of brass metal bits that are stamped with the crude sigil of the Storm’s Pearl, good for full draughts of Madame Arcoung’s signature spiced grog served there. ”Looks like you’ll know where I’ll be today friend Koffi! Now let’s be off before the tide turns on us…heave ho now!”
Now, at the Storm’s Pearl lodge…
Dima smiles openly and claps his hands in rhythm to the music, pausing only when the empty bottle lightly hits his unusually fine soft grey boots that show no sign of wear or water damage. His smile turns to a slight frown as he picks up the empty bottle, smells it, pours out any residual grog and tucks it in his belt for later use. Such is life in Hyrantam – anything scavenged might prove worthy for use or barter later on. Especially these days, what with the darkening prospects for its people.
Suse defuses old Vyncis with a boisterous ease that Dima finds remarkable, even as she launches the band of minstrels into a rousing tune that cannot disappoint. Dima starts grinning once again, clapping along with the tune he first heard aboard ship years ago in The Shackles, singing rather badly on the high parts but thoroughly enjoying the tune. With his own dented tin tankard running low, Dima lifts his muscled arm to wave over Layla, a rather fetching Lirgeni native worker at the Pearl that helps keeps Matron Arcoung’s rather unique spiced grog flowing. In his hand he holds a brass bit for the grog, but if Desna’s luck is with him today he’ll get a chance to offer her a fine intact abalone shell that he knows she will fancy him for.
Right now, for this current moment, life is good with Dima Dimaratis. He just wished…aside from the company of Layla later on…that he had some friends around the table to share his brass bits with. A brief look to the two doors of the Pearl shows no sign of Malorrem anywhere about, though admittedly the Storm’s Pearl lodge has more than a single room and a few hallways that can’t all be seen from one spot, the floor of this place converted from whatever it used to be in the time of long-forgotten Lirgeni. He's probably inspecting rotting ships and runnin’ barnacles off hulls or something foolish for ole’ Vancen he is…
In one of the pub's many alcoves along the walls, a tall, lean woman sits, her dark skin a sharp contrast to the pale driftwood seat she sits in. Rich blue robes drape over her shoulders and puddle in her lap, a linen waterfall flowing to the floor. A short knife, clearly designed for utility rather than defense, hangs from a woven belt richly detailed with metallic threads of many tones. In front of her, a trio of empty glasses sit haphazardly on the tabletop; a fourth glass is halfway to joining its mates, and she raises it every so often to take another large swig.
It had been a long day.
First it'd been helping tend to Baaba after he'd gotten cracked on the head in a capsized boat. Ordinarily this kind of injury would never have fallen to her - gifts she had, but magic healing wasn't one of them, and though she'd learned several things working with the healers, she wasn't anywhere near their equal. But with Mparu gone... That line of thought quickly tries to drown itself in a glass of ale. Worry had been too constant a companion these past days.
Then it'd been hours of time in the water, working with her newest charges on the Harbormaster's request. Barely longer than her arm but growing fast, the trio of tiger sharks were finally starting to recognize the primary-colored shapes she'd hoped to designate as theirs. Next it'll be suspending the shapes in the water, chumming where they're at to get the punks to prefer staying close. But then how to get them to know what to go after? Maybe a barbed whip, and some pheremones from those bastards, if I can get any... But whoever the bastards are, they quickly join her mentor in swirling round the base of her glass, and the look on her face sours even further with worry and anger.
And then, when she'd gone to let Vancen know the sharks' progress, he'd brought up those damn dreams again...it'd been Nkruma Omehia they'd taken this time, just barely come of age... And once again, she'd had to force her face into a mask, hiding the fear that she might be next if he recognized the look in her eyes...
Rising to her feet, Kwesi tries to exit, but the bottle flying across the room blocks her path, and she plunks back into her chair sullenly. It's clear that the pale beer's doing little to make her forget her worries - though the now-quartet of glasses shows clear evidence of her progress, she still sits rock-steady in her seat, and the hand that signals Suse doesn't wobble in the slightest. As the matron sets two more glasses of beer in front of her, Kwesi takes them in hand, raising one toward the bar keeper in a salute. Thick, ropy scars stand out in relief criss-crossing the backs of her hands as she lifts the drinks, and her left hand subtly compensates for the half a little finger missing there.
For Mparu, she intones thickly, emptying the right-hand glass out the nearby window and into the water below before she drains the left-hand glass at one go. To show her the way back.
Dima’s dented tin tankard is now full of spiced grog once again from Layla, but she deftly moves past him with a murmur that she has to help Suse, declining to sit down and join him for even a brief moment. Dima smiles graciously as if to say that he fully understands, even though he doesn’t. He re-wraps the abalone shell in the canvas wrappings by his chair since she didn’t get to even see what he had brought her yet, and carefully tucks that back in to his wide leather belt next to the recovered empty bottle. ’She’s just busy is all, no fret or worry…she likes me she does…look at this face after all! Compared to these other wrinkled sods…nah I’ll just wait for a while until she has a break…she’s gonna love this shell I know it…’
Lost for a moment in his self-reassurances and brief reverie on Layla in a Varisian dance he once saw in Varisia, Dima continues to tap along to the shanty, drinking another healthy draught of his drink. ’Hmm…Suse’s special batch…’ Admittedly, it took some getting used to, with the rum not so fresh and the water always tinged with salt…and sometimes you had to pick flecks of what looked like seaweed out of it…but the spices! Suse definitely knew her spices, that was certain. He favored her brew over her other brew of watery pale beer that was cheaper to get at the Pearl, but there was no point in drinking something so weak. Once Suse had some watery salty rum punch with a cider she got from a rare boat coming out of Port Peril…now that was pretty good stuff while it lasted – she said she was making it for festival-time when the storms let up. Except the storms never let up and she had to use it up. Too bad too, as Dima liked festivals more than almost anything else. Festivals meant games and tourneys, which of course he was best at. Dima sighs and takes another drink of his grog, looking around the room and doors once again for any sign of Mal.
Malorrem doesn’t magically materialize in the several moments that Dima wants him to. Yet in looking around the room he sees a darker-skinned woman of Mwangi heritage that he does recognize. She’s hard to miss actually, what with her rich blue robes and athletic dancer’s physique that he likes so much in women. Tall too – nearly as tall as he is and that’s not common unless one’s an elf, and she’s definitely no elf. Her hair is equally distinctive and alluring…which is what snaps full recollection to Dima with a slight wrinkled frown to his lips. It's Kwesi. Kwesi the Gozren, priestess or shamaness or whatever she was – Dima wasn’t really sure. Except that she was a favorite of the Harbormaster and friend of Malorrem, who also worked for the Harbormaster. Some said she was a disciple or acolyte of Priestess Mparu…which made sense as Mparu was also a Gozren.
None of that mattered much to Dima as it really wasn’t his business to know such things. But their first meeting some time ago wasn’t the best, back when Dima was trying to get in with the Harbormaster and Malorrem was introducing him around to those he worked with. ’How did I know she was gonna get all uppity and miffed at my complements of her body…I’m a very nice and good man I am!’ Dima’s mind races back to when he had just been introduced to Kwesi by Malorrem – talk seemed to be going fine and she had asked him about his work with animals and beasts that he had a natural affinity for. Of course he admired her physique and tallness, said so in open appreciation and complemented her on her unusual hairstyle, as he had seen a similar style by Mwangi slave dancers when he had visited Azir up in Rahadoum. He then asked if she liked to dance…at which point she became angered and snapped off some quip about his rudeness to a Gozren that would normally get him blasted off the docks with a wave of water…something about water and blasting and it being painful. He tried to apologize for the offense, but there wasn’t much more to say after that. Not long after that he had heard from his friend Mal that Harbormaster Vancen didn’t need any new helpers in his retinue.
’Stupid Vancen and his stupid uppity folk that think they own the place!’ The problem, of course, is that they did own the place in a very real sense, for any useful activities of scouting, ship guiding, beast-hunting, animal-training and even healing the sick all pretty much went through Vancen. That was where the “coin” was so-to-speak around here in Hyrantam, and outside of that Dima was stuck with mostly fishing and the occasional odd job that didn’t pass through the Harbormaster’s ears. ’I mean I’m clearly the best at most things…you’d think he’d need all the strength and skill and bravery he can find, what with some of this business now with demands and taking people and the Star Man being gone…’ Dima takes another drink and momentarily wishes he was back on his old ship with Captain Dancey roaming the Shackles, absently nodding to himself. ’Now there’s where it just matters what you can do and how well you can do it…real merit and guts and all that…’ Which was true enough onboard a pirate ship, as Dima rose fairly quickly with his skills and daring-do for the captain and his crew.
Of course, piracy also had the pillaging, plunder, killing, vendettas and other foul deeds that Dima decidedly did not like at all. Which is why he left, mostly because of the killing but also after he lost both Luce and Bard in taking down Lestrix and his particularly nasty brand of seaborne brigands. Sometimes he missed the excitement though, especially the treasure hunting in old places long forgotten under the waters. Not to mention the entertainment that could be had! Layla was pretty and all, but she was nothing like some of the girls in The Shackles. A place like the Storm’s Pearl wouldn’t hold a candle to most raucous and bawdy taverns that could be found in Drenchport or Port Peril, that was true enough. Still, he left that life behind him when Bard died, and took up a different existence when he found and bonded with Magne.
Dima doesn’t realize until it’s too late that in his musings he’s been staring at Kwesi the entire time, which has now gotten her attention. ’Oh bloody chum…did she see me? I think she saw me but maybe she didn’t see me but if she does we DO know each other and that talk was a long time ago and maybe she’s lookin’ at someone else…no I think she sees me…just smile then!’
Dima smiles sheepishly at Kwesi from across the room, lifting his tankard in the air towards her and then decidedly looks away as if he’s really interested in the music, tapping with his foot and drumming the table with his other hand.
The rope bridge is a flimsy thing, the slats unevenly spaced and tenuously lashed together. Slung high between two towers, it sways alarmingly in the storm winds, battered from all sides and whipped by ocean spray cast up where the waves dash themselves against a reef of ruined masonry just below the water's surface.
Schist stands in the center of the bridge, broad hands closed into fists around the thick rope handrails, face raised, eyes closed. What few strands of black hair remain on his gleaming head are plastered down across his face, and water runs in constant rivulets over his worn cheeks, his slit of a mouth, down his neck and into his soaked clothing.
He rocks with the storm, feels its fury in his bones. Listens to the ferocious howl as the wind thrills between the towers and in and out of the ruined windows as if they were bone flutes on which to play paeans to destruction. The sound obliterates all others, so that it's easy to imagine himself alone in the ruins of Hyrantam, easy to imagine himself the last sole survivor of the final civilization. Alone with the furies of the storm, the wrack and ruin of the waves.
The fantasy does not last. Schist lowers his face and opens his eyes, eye lashes welded together by the wet, and gazes out over the frothing, swirling waters as they surge and retreat about the base of the towers. Gelid greens scrawled over with white skeins of foam, darker patches of slate blue where chasms open, and then beyond that nothing but a haze of falling water, sheets of rain that seek to drown the world.
Schist looks at his hands. The swollen knuckles, the shimmering, smooth skin. Smooth like the belly of a toad. He's soaked, through and through, and it feels so good, so delicious to feel the icy cold water sluice over his body. The urge to tip himself over and fall into the raging waters is strong. To entomb himself within the roiling darkness below, to let the currents play with him as they will. To cast off his clothing and allow the ocean to claim him at long last, to cease this struggle, this pitiful pretense at being a dwarf -
With calm, forced deliberation, Schist uncurls his fingers and begins to make his way along the bridge, setting each boot carefully on the warped boards, patiently making his way up to the far archway and there out of the storm. The wind yet echoes within the chamber, but the immediacy of the torrential downpour is gone; dripping, he moves over to his cot, and there considers changing into his sole other robe. He stares down at his meager belongings, and then grimaces. Why bother? The moment he tries to make his way up to the Storm's Pearl he'll be soaked once more. Best to stay as he is. No one need know he welcomed the deluge to begin with.
He rakes his remaining hairs back over his pate, takes up his pouch of coins, and then reaches under his sodden pillow for his circlet. Holds it up so that its pale gold glimmers coldly in the fey evening light that filters in through the door and windows. Alluring. It awakens a dwarven desire within him for all things precious, a covetous instinct that bids him hide it and hide it well. Yet when it's far from him he finds himself worrying, distracted, wanting to check on its safety...
Schist settles the circlet about his brow, and stands up straighter. Does it look better on him than that slain merman king? Unlikely. Even in death, body grown etoiliated by the water and nibbled on by the fish, the mer-king had retained a nobility that Schist knew would always be denied him. Even in death and deterioration he had exuded a faded grandeur that had stolen Schist's breath, bobbing there in the depths of the flooded grotto, eyes staring up blindly at the roof.
It had taken all of Schist's bravery to pull the circlet from the damp brow. To imagine himself a king, as commanding and austere, and set the circlet upon his own head. And whether by magic or psychology, he had felt himself more imposing, more impressive, his bitterness elevated to a tragic dourness, his despair into a flood of cruel disdain. He knew that others treated him differently when he wore the circlet, that strangely enough any desire to mock his pretension in wearing such a fine piece of jewelry was subsumed into a muted awe for how imposing it made him look.
Schist swallowed once, twice, then turned to peer into the next chamber where Shearwater had taken up residence. The affable priest had followed Schist off the boat, uncaring of the hoots and mockery that had followed him. Stranger yet, the man had taken up residence in the same abandoned tower, a chamber over, and though he was rarely in residence, had stayed in touch. Had - dare Schist say it? Seemed to almost enjoy the sullen dwarf's company. Three nights they had returned together from the Pearl to smoke the last of their tabac and play a crude version of dragonchess by candle light. The conversation had been sparing but enjoyable.
No. Not home. Perhaps he was already at the Pearl. Perhaps he was out making new friends. Something Shearwater did so well. Schist snorted with dark amusement. If the priest could befriend him, then he could befriend anybody.
He turned and made his way back outside, back into the tempest. Now he moved with purpose. The path to the Pearl was a complex one, and involved several switchbacks along bridges that connected disparate towers until finally he rose up to the heights and heard the raucous cries of the musicians, pitching their voices to match the energy of the storm.
Schist paused at the threshold. It was growing harder with each passing season to leave the dark and enter the warmth of hearth fires and company. Still, he was still at heart a dwarf, was he not? He'd not cavail from good cheer and piss poor grog. At least, not yet. So he raised his head, drawing confidence from the circlet and entered the Pearl, affixing a smile that was part defensive sneer on his face, and made a beeline for the bar, hurrying so as to find a safe spot, a stool even, where he could hunker down and order his first of the rum.
Stretching and letting out a loud yawn before rolling out of the hammock and onto the floor, which is inches below. The longer drop being removed years ago. Laying there for a moment and mumbling into the floor, "Gods that took forever and now I am sure I have slept the day away. Vance is a mean man. I only see so well in the dark damnit."
Sitting up and rubbing his eyes before looking around, "Pants need pants. If I go outside without pants people will yell at me." Not bothering to get up and rolling across the floorboards to his pants a few feet away. Groaning when his shoulder hits a shoe. "Ouch! Apparently that is a new one." Twisting to look at the bruise, "Hmm, and that is purple. Little tentacle monsters pack quiet the pouch when there are that many of them."
But the pants are always with the shoes, they come off together. "Brilliant thinking on my part." Tugging his pants and pausing to admire the little circular bruises littering his arms, I look like a leopard. Shimming all the way into his pants and then his boots. Looking around then starting his crawl though the room to find the rest of his things. If I have to wear pants might as will have it all. Shirt, magical wardrobe, the very useful piece of durable armor. Gradually everything is tugged on to him and now he is what people call 'presentable.'
Looking around again, "Where is my bag?" Finally having to stand to look around at higher than ground level. Grinning and pulling out of the cooking pot, "That would taste horrible!" Throwing the bag over his shoulder and grabbing the quiver from a corner. Pulling off his white scarf and running a hand though his hair to 'fix' it before tugging it back on.
Stepping out the door and starting to wonder though the flotsam. Grumbling when he hears that he missed out on the barge action cause he was sleeping, "Supposed to come get me. Bah! I will get him later. Vance made me miss all the fun. Though last night was fun. I guess the northern can do some things on his own."
Stopping and putting a gloved hand on his belly while looking down, "You hungry? Well I suppose I need food then and a drink to wash it down."
And thus begins the long walk to Storm’s Pearl. Rubbing his stomach, "Stop your complaining. They might have some food.. I hope."
Grinning when he flings open the door and spotting Dima. Food forgotten in lieu of fun times Malorrem slows down to keep his footsteps all but silent in the noise. Creeping up behind the northern and throwing a gloved hand over his eyes, which brings the scent of dirty scent of muck with them.
Raising his voice in pitch to try to mimic Suse while trying to pull as much sultriness into the words as possible, "Guess who sailor?"
”Ahh-EWWWW-gggggthh!” Dima reaches back to flail a slap at Mal’s arm, then squirms down instinctively to wrest his face away from the stinking gloves. His short-lived frown turns to a huge grin as he sees his friend Mal in the flesh.
”Aaahh! AHAHAHAHHA! MAL!” Dima absently wipes any residual grime from his face and clasps the tall half-elven man’s wrist and arm gladly in a soldier’s grip, before giving him an extra meaty punch on the shoulder. ”There you are! Look at ya…ahhhh…hmm…” The hunter’s visage turns from his beefy grin to that of a more concerned expression, remarking, ”…uhh Mal what’s with the ugly purple marks there on yer arms? Bruises? Whattdya do, get into a tangle with an octopus while scrubbin’ barnacles off for ole’ Vancen, did ya? Or grindylows maybe?” Dima snaps his fingers and exclaims, ”A giant octopus! Baby kraken? I told ya I saw a baby kraken up close once, in the Steaming Sea I did…did I ever tell ya that one?”
Dima pats the small pouch of stamped brass bits spilling out on the table before him, offering them freely if he’ll take a seat at his otherwise empty table. He suddenly remembers Kwesi across the room in her alcove and says, ”Oh, and Kwesi’s over there just so you know…and NO I didn’t say nuthin’ to her bad before you ask me!”
Laughing when he gets the response he was looking for only to wince at the punch. Throwing himself into a chair while dropping his bag at his feet. "Nothing a dramatic as a kraken or even a baby one. It was just a bunch of little grindylows. Little buggers are clingy. So I get to look like a leopard. Vance seems to think I can see in the dark."
Waving an arm to try and catch attention. His belly is very mad at him after all. Looking around and spotting Kwesi. Grinning at her and waving her over.
Turning back to Dima with a grin, You be nice to Kwesi. You cannot have all the free women here." Point at him, "You here me?"
"I like that one, so fast in water. So don't go scaring her off or I will throw you." Leaning back in his chair and putting both hands on his belly, "Tell me about the baby kraken while I wait for angle to show up so I can get some food."
Dima puts up both of his hands as if to profess his innocence. "Look, I just asked her if she liked to dance and she got all Gozren-stormy on me. I won't try to be all sociable-like if that's what yer asking...oh hey I got me here some dried fruit that I picked up if you want that...was helpin' Koffi with...somethin...that he and Baaba needed help on earlier...anyways I got food if you want some." Dima cuts off his awkward statement with another drink of his drink and starts tapping again to the music while Malorrem settles in. Then a thought occurs to him. "I thought you could see in the dark, what with your elfey blood in ya and all that...oh hey I've been practicing what you taught me - try this on fer size!"
Dima grins eagerly for a moment and clasps his hands together as if to get ready for a big meet. He bobs his head twice and then says proudly, "O ro o arar fo coran. O go, pich gau fyn pof fo coran! Den as dreid aro con, sal ho mian fov pof ur gau no fo pi!"
"Not bad eh? Eh?" Dima nods at his friend Mal with bold confidence and takes another drink of Suse's spiced grog while he waits for an answer.
Quickly reaching out for the offered fruit and tossing a piece in his mouth. Patting his belly, "There, there. Thank you my friend. And I know you did not mean anything by it but the warning still stands."
Grinning to soften the statement and tossing more fruit in his mouth and almost chokes on it at the attempt at Elvish.
Twisting in his seat when an angle from on high stands over him. Swallowing his fruit whole and smiling at the lovely server, "Annika! You precious creature from Heaven. Please bring me food and a drink! Please, please, please! Oh sacred servant of the most holy art of keeping me alive, fed, and drunk!"
Smiling at the smack to the back of his head he gets. Looking over at Dima, "She loves me. The violence is how I know it is real." Flinching at the second wack and watching her leave.
Tossing another bit of fruit in his mouth and half way chewing it before responding, "The fruit makes up for you not giving me the story. Just so you know. And I can see better than you but not in the dark with no lights. The water makes it worse of course."
Pausing for a moment with a confused look on his face, "Are you calling the women fishes? Cause that will make them angry. And is 'let me rub skin with ear to be the way' a northern thing? What does it mean?"
Dima has a goofy, wide-mouthed grin on his face and nods his head as Annika smacks Mal not once, but twice. He chortles as Annika leaves their table, his gaze going from him to her to him once again. That’s one of many things he liked about Mal. Mal could take a hit or a slap as most men couldn’t – not to say Mal didn’t get angry every so often, and when he did get angry, woe be to the sorry sod who put his hackles up in the first place! But Mal wasn’t an angry fellow by nature, or one to hold grudges as far as he knew. Which is another reason why they got along well – if Dima said something Mal didn’t approve of he’d just tell him and be done with it, and not get all testy or dour on him later. Mal also seemed to understand more about the women than he did…though in his own experience he never had women who hit him like him any better later on. That was odd. Obviously he was just doing it wrong somehow.
Dima is just about to slyly boast that he himself can see in the utter dark with no light, though not for very long at a stretch, and perhaps goad his friend into a wager to confirm it for truth, when Mal brings up his elvish that he worked so much on to impress him.
”Wait..wha?” Dima blinks once then twice, his grin turning to a confused frown. ”Women are fishes? Rub skin with ear to…is that what I…OH BLOODY CHUM AND P&$$ BUCKETS!”
The big hunter shakes his head and looks down in his tankard for a moment, his demeanor turned sullen. ”Phah! I was trying to say that we should go out fishing later for a fresh catch you and I, with spear and net! I really thought I had it that time…you know the language of those snooty elves is really stupid. I know the feytongue and gnomish and the calls of the merfolk and a few others besides, but none of them are so finicky as that of the elves. They just like everything difficult for no good reason.”
Description of Shearwater's outward appearance can be found in his profile. Go ahead and take a peek, if you haven't already. :)
Shearwater had spent a good part of his day fishing, mainly as an excuse to chat with some locals and to explore the rickety boardwalks that made up most of the city—or what was left of it, anyway. Hyrantam left much to be desired, at least compared to the gleaming metropolis he had seen in his dreams. He had known to expect this, but some part of him had still hoped against hope to catch another glimpse of those magnificent spires. Was it strange to feel nostalgic for a place that you had never been to, or a time that you had not lived to witness? He tried looking around for familiar sights, but everything had changed much too drastically. The feeling of loss was palpable: it seemed to cling to every piece of driftwood and cracked masonry, and ooze out of every sodden nook and cranny.
Yet, he felt like he was returning home.
This was not the first time Ylimancha had spoken to him through such vague instinctual pullings, but the clarity and intensity of these new revelations was like nothing he had witnessed before. The bustling of the people along the docks, the cries of the seagulls, and the sunlight reflected on the waves as they crashed to shore... it had felt all too real. Yes, he knew that he was meant to be here, and that Harborwing would make her will known sooner or later. Tomorrow he would have to present himself to the elders, and see what needed doing. For now, however, he had felt the need to see what there was worth saving amidst the ruins...
At the Storm’s Pearl lodge:
The howling winds and the pattering of rain on the structure reminded Shearwater of the hold of a ship, which, combined with the simple entertainments of the locals, made him feel right at home. Seeing such will to live in the midst of such untenable circumstances filled him with joy. He quite enjoyed watching people go about their business, experiencing the currents of life that tied communities together. Often, people took such things for granted, and it was only from the outside that you could see how it was all interconnected. Perched on his seat in the rafters, amidst old fishnets and sailcloth, Shearwater clicks his talon-like nails on a crossbeam in an approximation of the rhythm played by the musicians. He joins in on the songs he knows—at least for a few hoarsely crowed out verses—and hums along tunelessly with the ones that are yet unknown to him.
Seeing Schist enter, Shearwater hops down from his perch and bounds through the crowd to plop himself next to the dwarf at the counter. He smiles widely. "Oi! There you are. I've been waiting for you..."
The priest's voice is high-pitched and hoarse—though not too unpleasant to listen to—and his speech bears the barest hint of a colonial Sargavan accent. However, it is buried beneath pepperings of a wide variety other dialects, marking his travels throughout the western coast of Garund.
"How was your day?" he asks cheerfully. "Beautiful weather, dontcha think? Oh, lemme buy you a drink! What was it... um... Suse? Some rum for me and my friend here!"
Straightening his posture are tugging on the little bands on his wrist. The white pants and loose short sleeved white shirt shift. His pants turn black and get much tighter. The shirt changes to a dark green tunic. Golden lacing runs around the collar and down the center with leaf looking buttons. The top two buttons are undone. A dark green long jacket with heavy embroidery on the shoulders and cuffs rests over the tunic, His messy hair is now loose.
Putting a sneer on his lips and lifting his head so he is looking down his nose at Dima, "It is certainly not the fault of the Elves that a filthy human like you cannot understand the subtleties of our elegant tongue."
Gracefully lifting his hand to put another piece of fruit in his mouth and raising an eyebrow at Dima.
Dima waves off Malorrem in disgusted dismissal and protest. "Phah! Put on a captain's hat and you'd look just like ol' Captain Lestrix that good Captain Dancey and us lads put down like the scurvy dog that he was...he and his mates on the Zelphar...what's 'zelphar' even mean in elvish anyways? Probably something irritating."
He quaffs the rest of his grog in the tankard and sets it down with a thunk on the table, picking up another brass bit in his fingers to call for more. "That's a nice trick o' magic that you have there though Mal. Doesn't make ya smell any better though eh? Eh? Haaaaehehehe!"
Suse finishes her tune, then breaks from the stage. As you continue to enjoy (or brood through) the evening, the musicians play on, swapping bodies or instruments as many among the population enjoy creating music as much as they enjoy listening. Inevitably, as the liquor works its cozy brand of magic, the melodies sway more and more awry and the catawampus vocals teeter ever closer toward utter incomprehensibility. Through it all, the barmaids tiptoe expertly through the crowd, determinedly sober lest they invoke Suse's wrath. She herself is not afraid to partake in the drink, it seems, for before long she's actually sitting in the lap of Jauf, the master of Grub.
Before too long, however, Layla's attention is caught by a young man fully dressed against the storm, head wrapped in enormous leaves. He offers a word into her ear, then retreats back into the thunderous night. Scanning the room, her eyes seek you out in the crowd, and she glides through the bodies in your direction. "Th' 'arbormaster's lookin' for ye," she practically yells over the noise. "As in, right now. You'll find 'im in his quarters."
Roll20 map updated to reflect specific locations within the enclave. The harbormaster's home is the eastern-most tower in the enclave, on the south side. More detailed descriptions will appear later in the campaign tab.
The music has a rough charm all of its own. A swinging rhythm that swells and falls like the tides, the lyrics sung by hoarse voices here and there throughout the crowd. It binds people together, causes emotions to rise and camaraderie to manifest as people join in singing, defying the winds and the storm if only for an hour, if only for a song. Lute, flute, and drum guide the masses, and Schist can't help but find his spirits equally buoyed. It's a far cry from the ancient dwarven dirges that were sung in the halls of his ancestors so many lifetimes ago, but with the fire crackling, the rum pungent, the stench of life all around him and the merriness of the hour all the more precious for the ruin that surrounds them, it awakens something rare in Schist's soul.
A feeble joy at simply being alive.
Such that when Shearwater seems to appear as if by magic in the stool by his side, the damp dwarf manages to crack a rueful smile, bobbing his head and shifting his shoulders, the stool creaking beneath his stout bulk.
"That it is, Master Shearwater. That it is. A fine tempest with which to torment us." For a moment the madness and beauty of the storm returns to him, and he's tempted to wax eloquent, to give voice to the dark fascination he feels with the depths. He quells the urge, however, and instead flexes and opens his hands where they rest on the bar.
Shearwater calls for drinks, and Schist follows the direction of his order, blinking at the distant Suze and trying for a smile, bearing his pearly teeth before thinking the better of it and turning away. Conversation, he tells himself. Something. Don't let the moment become awkward.
So he turns on his stool so as to regard the crowd, half turned toward Shearwater as if inviting him to take it in with him. He gazes upon the raucous crowd, the way the battered chandelier shivers as the storm batters at the walls, the gaudy illumination, the rosy cheeks, the gleaming, almost feverish eyes of those under the influence of the rum, the glistening of grease on empty plates, the gap toothed grins and threadbare clothing.
"Glorious, is it not? Life, a bubble of warmth and light in the midst of this storm. If Abendego were a hand, it would surely be a fist, seeking to close about this moment. Crush it. Yet here we are. Singing and living. Drinking and laughing. Fearless, up in our perilous crow's nest, not caring for what tomorrow may bring. One must marvel and laugh lest one weep instead."
He glances sidelong at his companion, suddenly nervous. Was he being too dour?
Shearwater turns towards the crowd, sipping his rum as he lets his gaze wander through the room. He plucks a stray feather off his cloak and blows it away with a contemplative look on his face. Though he was no stranger to the Eye, its power and enormity never ceased to fill him with awe. Did his presence here have something to do with the storm?
"You know what they say," he muses. "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain. There's no denial in enjoying life to the fullest. Not here, anyway. You can't survive without the will to live, without hope. That's what this is all about, you know?"
If Schist's sullenness bothers him, the priest does not show it.
Tugging at his sleeve again and the fancy dark clothing shift back to his simple loose white clothing. Shrugging, "Orendel thought it would help me keep more of my beauty covered. Apparently he did not like his lovely wife seeing me in my natural glory."
Letting his eyes follow the strange looking short What is that? Turning back to Dima, "I rinsed off last night. I smell like everyone else here, like the ocean."
Grinning and lifting his glove covered hand to wiggle his uncovered fingers at Dima, "You are just bitter because you got a whiff of these little beauties. Again."
Tiredly dropping his arm to the table, "You gotta pay attention to your surroundings Northerner. It is dangerous here. Hehe."
As glass after glass of ale join their allies in Kwesi's belly, she finally starts to relax...some. Her worries don't quite disappear, but mercifully they begin to retreat, leaving her one warm, fuzzy corner of her mind to hide in, if only for a few hours. Some small part of her had always envied the lightweights that were tripping over their own feet at a single mouthful of rum - but she was, alas, made of sturdier stock than that. Gotta love high-CON characters getting drunk less easily! XD
With her head now swimming pleasantly, however, she finally takes a moment to survey the room, taking in the sights and sounds of people avoiding the ever-present troubles of the storms - but suddenly, her momentary affability melts into listless annoyance at the eyes locked on her. That cocky bastard Dima - probably thinks I should've started slipping off my robe right there for him! Don't know what feather-bed Northern kingdom he came from, that they can afford to have half their people sitting idle just on account of some misguided notion that what's between their legs means they're only suited to showing off for the other half... And apparently it's time for the next show, he thinks. Pointedly, she lets her eyes meet his just long enough to acknowledge the rude stare, make him feel uncomfortable - and then lets her eyes drift away as if he's beneath her notice. Soft idiot. What does Malorrem see in him, to hang out with him so often?
Looking for something else to half-focus her eyes on, her gaze travels to the very odd pair sitting at the room's edge. The bird-man's strange enough...but who ever heard of a bald dwarf? Every one I've ever seen, they've treated their beard like it was a direct reflection of their manhood! But then...I guess I'm one to talk about strangeness anymore, huh? Her eyes travel for a moment down to her hands; one runs over the lean, corded muscle of her forearm, while the other fans out before her, as if it's feeling something that's not there.
Looking back at the pair, she couldn't help feeling there was something about the dwarf that seemed...familiar, somehow. She couldn't quite put a finger on it, but she could almost tell they were...akin, somehow, despite clearly not being related. His appearance was so strange...and he wore it uncomfortably, as if it hadn't always been so odd... He still carried a sheen of dampness, though he'd been in the bar a while...but then, the storm outside was intense, and the crowd close. Perhaps he'd simply been that wet when he came in, or was prone to sweat. And then, over the hubbub, she catches bits and pieces of the pair's odd conversation - and can't help but break into a lopsided, half-hearted smile. The brooding. It's definitely the brooding. Suddenly struck with curiosity, she rises from her table and gathering up an armful of beer mugs, and makes her way to where the two sit in front of the bar. Plunking the glasses down on the counter, she motions to Suse and mumbles an order for a spiced rum. I don't recall seeing either of you before - here long? The question's directed to both the strangers, but it's clear her eyes are locked on the unusual dwarf. Tag Schist and Shearwater.
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Suse steps up to where Schist and Shearwater sit, staring past them with a broad smile at something they can't see, though the sudden eruption of curses and boisterous laughter gives a hint as to it's nature - then slams down a bottle of spiced rum before the pair, along with two thick, short glasses. No cares for her fingers being slid down inside their length, or the grease that whorls the glass, for the pungent rum makes those improprieties the least of their concerns.
Schist takes up his glass and tosses its contents down his throat in a practiced manner, and for one glorious moment he closes his eyes and focuses on the burn, the burnished fire that cascades down into his chest like molten gold, warming his soul as much as his flesh and driving back the beckoning chill of the storm and the wet. He smacks his lips loudly and pours himself another dram, which he knocks back with equal fervor, and it's only on the third that he slows down and turns to his companion, trying to pretend he'd not heard the man aright.
"Dance in the rain, aye? Plunge into the deeps, more like. Though there's something to what you say, Shearwater, I won't brook it, but..." The dwarf trails off uneasily. There's no denial in enjoying life to its fullest...
"Enjoyment." He mutters this into his glass, staring into its glinting caramel tints. "I've not had much of that, as you well know. Not these past few years, at any rate. But perhaps, perhaps... driven here? Make the most of it, hey? Hryantam. Never'd have visited - much less heard of this place - if not for... but we're here now, aren't we? And it feels right, in some cursed way, in some righteous manner. You feel it, boy?"
A new intensity enters his eyes, a fever gleam that could be explained away by the rum.
"You feel it? Something about these towers and flotsam, the wrack and ruin, the waves and the pounding, the song of the flute and wave? Something about it all feels so damned right. I'm starting to suspect that -"
But he cuts off when the dark skinned and scarred woman suddenly hoves into view, looming over them both with an armful of beer glasses which she scatters down before her like a devotee making an offering at an altar.
But her eyes. There's a fell menace to them, impersonal and perhaps tempered by the rum, a heavy, deliberate control to her even in her cups, as if she were but a carved figurehead emerging from the fog at the front of some great and unseen vessel, her visible body belying the scope of her true form.
She's staring down at him, and Schist realizes she's said something, asked a question. He's missed it. His mouth's dry. He takes up his glass and tosses back the rum, hoping - knowing - that Shearwater will make the appropriate response. He sets the glass down perhaps too loudly on the bar and it skitters away, spinning along its beveled base, and then hunches his shoulders, jaw set, trying to scrub the fanciful impression he'd received at the first sight of her from his mind.
"Hmmm..." says Dima as he sighs in agreement to Malorrem. "It's dangerous everywhere these days...at least everywhere that's worth seeing. I've thought about pulling up anchor and riding with the next halfway decent ship that comes in here, but I still think there's something worth seeing here, you know? And then there's Magne...he likes it here, so I guess I'll weather it a bit longer yet."
Suse or one of her folks hasn't come by yet to take the brass bit and refill his tankard again, so Dima starts looking around the room to find one of them and wave them down. That's when he notices Kwesi walking over to the bar counter and talking with two strangers he's never noticed before. Dima cocks his head slightly to the side as he watches the unfolding exchange, determining if he can place the pair with anyone he happens to know but failing to do so.
"Hey Mal - who's the two over there that Kwesi's a'talkin' to? They seem...um...odd or somethin' - you know everyone that comes in around here Mal. You know 'em? New members of the Harbormaster's crew?"
Twisting around to look at the odd pair, "Aww, Kwesi abandoned me for them. Dima you are chasing off all the people I like." Cocking his head to the side and staring at the odd group. Makes sense she would gravitate to a strange looking duo like them.
Thinking back he can recall seeing the strange birdlike man wondering about. But being busy with 'things' from Vance he had not had the opportunity to greet the stranger. And the squishy one.. Adram had mentioned a half drowned looking dwarf. Is that him? "I have see one of them around but I have not met either one personally."
Looking back at Dima with a grin, "Well I think I need to go ask about my breakfast and your mug is rather empty. If you promise to behave we can introduce our selves."
Shearwater casts an inquisitive glance at his dwarven companion. Though Schist wore his past misfortunes openly—and oftentimes overtly—there were hidden depths to the man that he had been unable to probe. The priest looks as if he is about to say something, but is interrupted by Kwesi's sudden arrival. He looks up at the tall woman, and back to the dwarf, tilting his head to the side in a distinctly avian manner. He is intuitive enough to see that there is some sort of tension between them, though he is unsure as to what it could be. The two of them look even more confused than he is, however. How curious...
Without missing a beat, the feathered man bursts into a grin, accepting a new glass of rum and raising it in toast.
"We're fresh off the boat," he says in response. "The name's Shearwater, and this is my friend Schist. Cheers, and pleased to meetcha!"
"Huh? Oh sure sure," replies Dima to his friend Mal with a waving of his hand and an expression as if that's the easiest promise in the world for him to keep. "Lead the way and I'll mind the tiller without spilling all the wind outta the sails. No talk about slave girls and hair, I give you my word!"
The big hunter gives Malorrem an assured grin and fastens his tin tankard back to his wide belt after turning it over and giving it a couple good clanks on the table, standing up to follow him over.
Starting at Dima for a long moment. I really do not know enough about him. But the slave girls thing will wait till later. "Probably best to always avoid that one."
Standing up and heading over to the bar. Looking around and grabbing the attention of the first wonderful server of the most sacred of drinks, "Could you ask Annika where my food and drink are? Please!" Rubbing his belly, "I am wasting away here." Satisfied that he will get food eventually, his poor stomach will just have to be deal with waiting.
A few more step lead him to stand behind Kweis. Smiling and waving at the two oddities she is talking to before stepping to Kweis's side so that he is in her line of sight. Figuring he should err on the side of the caution since he has Dima with him. Smiling broadly and showing off most his teeth in the process, "You ignored me earlier Kwesi."
Putting a hand over his heart, "It broke my heart. You left me with just Dima. Whom has said that he will behave."
Dropping his hand and leaning in to mumble, "Or you will get the pleasue of seeing how far I can throw him into the water."
Leaning back and looking the other two and smiling, "Sorry. I should have introduced myself first before yammering away at my friend here." Point to himself and then the northern, "I am Malorren. And that hairy beast is called Dimaratis."
Holding out a hand with his grin never wavering, "It is a pleasure to intrude on your conversation and make your acquaintance."
For his part, Dima stands a good couple of steps back behind Malorrem, watching the exchange and silently giving a great big goofy smile, with a couple of exuberant nods to show agreement with his friend's words. In particular he looks at Kwesi and smiles even more broadly as if to overly emphasize his best behavior towards her, though many might interpret his expression as either completely addle-brained and simple...or sarcastically mocking her.
Shearwater shakes hands and repeats his introductions, looking back to Schist with a smile.
"Well," he chirps cheerily. "Aren't we popular all of the sudden?"
Kwesi - pleasure's mine, the Mwangi woman half-grunts in response to Shearwater's reply, eyes still locked uncomfortably on Schist as if sizing him up. It's clear words are forming in her mind, but the silent moment stretches to the cusp of awkwardness as her reply marshals itself...until Malorrem's arrival shatters the uneasiness. A look half-relief and half-frustration flashes across her features for a brief moment, before she pulls herself together and turns to Malorrem.
Break your heart, Mal? But for that, something'd have to make its way through your thick head - and we both know that's not likely! Though the comment is biting, her cocky grin makes it clear it's not unkindly meant, more banter than true insult. Her expression twists to something between quizzical, angry, and amused as her eyes follow Malorrem's introduction to Dima - either he's making fun of me, or he's drunk too much seawater... As Shearwater re-introduces himself and Schist, Kwesi leans in close to Malorrem and whispers, placing his face between her lips and Dima's eyes. You...have been keeping an eye on Newbie here, right? He hasn't been licking any pufferfish or anything? Tag Mal, and Dima if he wants to "accidentally" overhear. ;)
Landing back on her heels, she just catches the tail end of Shearwater's comment and flinches. Sorry - we aren't meaning to make you feel odd. It's just that, shockingly, we don't get much in the way of new faces in this hellhole. Seems way more people are trying to get out of here than in. Tag Shearwater and Schist. Diligently, she attempts to keep the conversation moving, but she can't help but notice the swaddled figure speaking to Layla in the corner. Speaking of strange sights...
I'm ready to move on if others are, but glad to keep RPing, too.
Schist gives a quick bob of his head, chin disappearing into a fold of thick flesh around his neck as he does so. The tall woman stares down at him as if about to say something of import, and Schist readies himself for the words as if they were to be a blow. He draws back even further when Dima and Malorrem step up, both of them looming over Kwesi. Each is over six feet tall, broad across the shoulders, powerful and in their element here. He'd not missed their boisterous exchanges before, their loud laughter and near rough housing.
A memory flickers before Schist's mind's eye: he's on his knees in the mud behind a series of hovels. It's night, and it's raining. Twelve men surround him. Pain lances through his head, blood running down the side of his face. Their leader stands before him, tall and broad about the shoulders like Malorrem, exuding the same affability and self confidence. A knife in his hand. The smile of a shark. A lightning strike shatters the gloom, and the man steps forward, knife rising up to deliver a final blow a split second before the thunder follows -
And the memory's gone. Schist's smile is a splayed thing, his thick lips flattened against his small, round teeth, one hand white knuckled as he grips the bar. The three strangers have him hemmed in. He knows he's fine. He knows he's not in danger. Yet suddenly the heat is suffocating, the music over loud, the laughter punishing.
"Th' 'arbormaster's lookin' for ye," Layla practically yells over the noise. "As in, right now. You'll find 'im in his quarters."
It's the excuse he's been looking for. Still smiling in a ghastly manner, Schist tosses back the last of his rum, catches Shearwater's eye as he nods toward the door, and then slips from his stool.
"Pardon me," he rumbles, deep in his barrel chest. "The harbormaster. We can't keep him waiting." With that, he slips between Kwesi and Malorrem and makes his way out of the Pearl and back into the sheltering storm.
Happily and vigorously shaking Shearwater's hand, "I am incredibly nosy is all. You are new and I am incurably curious."
Frowning when Schist ignores his hand and letting it drop. There is a haunted face if I have ever seen one.
Cocking his head slightly when Kwsei opens her mouth. Putting his best offended face on, "Elves store their hearts in the same place humans do. So my thick head has nothing to do with dagger you have plunged into my heart Kwesi." Managing to get his words out before his grin comes back, assuring that there is no actual offence taken.
Smiling and chuckling when Kwesi leans in, "But the puffer fish are the fun pa..."
Throwing his hands up and growling, "Damn." Pausing and watching the odd dwarf head off. I have missed things apparently. Glancing over at Kwesi and point to Schist, "What is that about?"
I...couldn't tell you. Kwesi watches the eccentric dwarf make his exit, scowling slightly and turning to Shearwater. You said you two were straight off the boat, right? What would Vancen want with... Shaking her head slightly, she squares up her shoulders. Might be Layla meant me and you, Mal - c'mon, we better get up there. For a moment, she glances at Dima and Shearwater, eyes flitting up and down as if sizing them up before she takes a deep breath. It...sounded like kind of a big deal. Maybe you should come along, Dima, see if we need the extra hands. And, Shearwater, it was? Maybe you should come see to your friend. We'll...give him a headstart.
Scanning the room one more time, she calls out to Suse, still ensconced in Jauf's lap. Thanks for the drinks, Suse; try not to get in too much trouble without me, ok? I'll come by tomorrow and purify the water for that next batch of grog you're brewing - I keep telling you, sand and seaweed don't count for flavoring! With a last nervous look at the sudden crowd around her, Kwesi turns and leaves the tavern, staying strangely dry despite the storm pounding down upon everything in sight.
Shoulders drooping and kicking at the ground, "I did not even get my breakfast.'
Rubbing his belly and seeing Suse, "Can you tell that vile woman Annika that since she kept my food hidden that I do not want it now. Since she is mean I will just have to eat nothing." Doing his best to sound as pitiful as possible while speaking before heading off for the door.
Sighing as the rain slams into him again but quickly perking back up as they move. A few minutes into their walk he moves next to Dima, Knocking his shoulder into his friends, "See you behave and she is warming up to you.
"You think so?" Dima considers that for a moment while following Malorrem out the door into the storm. Over the din of the howling wind and most recent thunderclap he says loudly, "Well she needed extra hands and two hands I have, so that's gotta amount to something!"
Far below at the lower catwalks near the waterline, Dima knows Magne is there in the water waiting for him. He considers a moment to tell Mal to make a detour so he can bring him along, but then decides against it with whatever the hussle and hurry is all about. Besides, some folk get twitchy around his friend, and he didn't want Vancen or these new pair to get all out of sorts for no good reason.
The night is rich with the perfumes of air and sea--the brine and salt of the Arcadian Ocean, the distinctive fragrance of fish and sea rot, and the ever-present aroma of burnt ozone. The evening sky is dark, for storm clouds blot out the twinkling stars beyond and ensconce the world in an embrace between the depths of the sea and the mysteries of the storm, as though the whole of Hyrantam were within an enormous, tempestuous snowglobe. A steady but gentle rain teems down from the sky, the warm freshwater cascading off of ledges and traveling down the towers’ remarkably engineered gutter system into enormous barrels. This will be used, you know, for drinking and, to a lesser extent, washing.
The only light, aside from frequent flashes of lightning, comes from waterproof, hooded lanterns. These adorn the floating flotsam houses scattered below and stand sentinel on either end of the swaying, makeshift catwalks and rope bridge walkways that connect the heights of the enclave’s tower-islands. Convoluted webs of ropes and pulleys extend above and below, allowing for transport of goods, and even bodies, through the air. A number of men and women roam the enclave defensively, their heads wrapped in great, rubbery leaves to keep the water from their eyes.
The route to Harbormaster Vancen’s quarters is across a fifty-foot bridge, then down a twisted spiral of waterlogged stairs before crossing another, shorter walkway into a small, single-story stone building. A newer stone outbuilding, also one story, sits just to the side. This dwelling, you know, has been fitted with accommodations for visitors to the enclave, as Vancen has tried to promote trade with other cities.
A guard stands at the door and, as you approach, cups his hand over his eyes to peer through the darkness and rain. ”Oi! Who’s--” but, seeming to recognize you, merely steps aside and holds a lantern aloft to welcome you into the home’s curtilage. The entry port stands slightly ajar, lantern light spilling out into the night.
”Aye, come in,” Vancen’s gruff voice calls. A broad, dark-skinned man with closely-clipped, salted hair and numerous scars, the gristled Harbormaster stands, staring out another porthole into the night. Whatever view he might have been afforded is all but cloaked by the environmental conditions, but still he gazes. He turns to you with a smile. ”Ah, Kwesi, Mal!” Then, with slightly less enthusiasm. ”Dima.”
”And the new ‘rrivals, Schist and Shearwater, ain’t it? A boatswain’s welcome to ya, ‘tis!” He reaches a meaty hand out toward the sorcerer and the cleric. ”It looks we’ve much to discuss.”
Schist makes his way cross rope bridge and down steps with the confident gait of a dwarf that exchanged the surety of tunnels for the sway of a boat's deck many years ago. He makes no effort to cover his near bald head, nor to wipe the water from his sunken eyes, and moves briskly toward the Harbormaster's home without aid of a lantern.
When he reaches the guard he loses some of his assurance, shoulders rounding and head lowering a fraction, but he bobs a nod in response and enters the room, stepping to one side as he does so to allow the others to enter without having to move farther into the quarters before gaining his bearings.
Water drips from his hems, chin, and pools around his boots, but he makes no move to dry himself. Instead he studies the Harbormaster with keen curiosity, knowing that others will speak first, that he need do nothing for the moment but observe and learn. When Vancen actually approaches to shake hands, Schist hesitates before doing so, and the natural dampness of his skin is masked by the rain.
White-gold circlet gleaming on his brow as if glimpsed in a fever-dream, he stands still, hands linked behind his back, face inscrutable, lower lip jutting out just a fraction, watching and listening as the others speak.
Landing back on her heels, she just catches the tail end of Shearwater's comment and flinches. Sorry - we aren't meaning to make you feel odd. It's just that, shockingly, we don't get much in the way of new faces in this hellhole. Seems way more people are trying to get out of here than in.
Shearwater waves his hand dismissively, though he seems to appreciate the courtesy.
"Don't worry about it," he says. "And this place isn't that bad, for a hellhole. Relative, is the word. I've been to worse places. Much worse. The wind and the waves may kill you if aren't careful, but they mean no malice. True hell is born of human evil, when people stop caring for others. That's not the case here, yeah? Everyone sticks out for one another. You might have it better than you think..."
It's the excuse he's been looking for. Still smiling in a ghastly manner, Schist tosses back the last of his rum, catches Shearwater's eye as he nods toward the door, and then slips from his stool.
"Pardon me," he rumbles, deep in his barrel chest. "The harbormaster. We can't keep him waiting." With that, he slips between Kwesi and Malorrem and makes his way out of the Pearl and back into the sheltering storm.
Shearwater looks on as Schist rushes out of the lodge, his face scrunched up in worry. Already intent on following the dwarf, he nods appreciatively at Kwesi's invitation. The priest finishes his rum and joins the others as they make their way across town, somewhat struggling to keep up with the trio's longer gaits. He seems much lighter than his already rather wiry frame would indicate, having to struggle to not get blown away by the wind that keeps tugging at his cloak. Not once does he complain, however. Quite to the contrary, he seems to be enjoying the storm immensely. All the while, he keeps babbling at the others about this and that—mostly extolling the weather—seemingly determined to insinuate his own sense of exhilaration into the general ambiance of the situation.
Once they reach the harbormaster's residence, the priest avoids attracting more unwanted attention to his dwarven friend. He also makes sure to not seem patronising, but does attempt to catch Schist's eye and smile encouragingly as they shake hands with their host.
"Blessings to you," he chirps at Vancen. "What's the trouble?"
Giddy at the chance to return the favor Mal slaps Dima on the shoulder,"It does count for something! Progress is slow but I am sure you two will eventually be fast friends."
Glancing ahead to watch Schist move like he was born here. Thought they liked underground? Looking over his shoulder a Shearwater and frowning when he sees the issue the strange bird like man is having.
Slowing down a little and happily accepting and returning the babbling. "The weather here is a fierce thing. Not to many who arrived or even live here seem to enjoy it as much as you!"
Sticking his tongue out at the guard while waiting for everyone to move inside before following himself. Oh so you will shake hands with him but not me! Raising an eyebrow at the handshakes before patting Dima on the shoulder. Grinning at him.
Turning his eyes to the Harbormaster with all jolliness vanishing like the sun behind the clouds. Crossing his spotted arms, "So why are we here?"
Kwesi juts her chin toward Vancen in a familiar gesture of acknowledgement and confident respect. What's the matter? she asks the harbormaster, slight confusion evident. Must be a hell of a thing, if it couldn't wait until morning. Is it those kerakinsis getting frisky, or has Aessra come round again? Or... Suddenly, her expression somehow simultaneously darkens and goes alight with an inner flame. Is it about Mparu? Did you find her? Was it those bastard skum? If they've still got her, I'll go and tear them a new one... Her conclusions have clearly left her heedless of the people surrounding her - her attention is locked onto Harbormaster Vancen, eyes aflame with anger.
Dima chuckles suddenly then, jarring the tenseness in a way that just seems wrong and out-of-place. "Hehe, bastard scum...skum...heh that's pretty good there!" Only too late by the harsh looks of both Kwesi and Vancen does he realize she wasn't trying for a double-meaning with her words, something he found was more common in The Shackles for whatever reason. So Dima coughs and looks down at his boots, shifting his feet slightly. Lucky I guess this isn't about helping out Koffi and Baaba at least and stepping on Harbor business...
Vancen’s crooked grin remains painted on his face, though his eyes slide sideways as Kwesi spouts what’s on her mind. He flinches at the name Aessra. ”Kwesi, calm yourself, girl! How many times’ve I told ya, nothin’ good’ll come o’ that temper. But, yes, there’s news. That’s why I’ve asked ya t’come in the midst o’ night. Along with...” He gestures toward Schist and Shearwater, ”...our new arrivals. Adventurers, ain’t ya? I knew it, I knew it the moment I spotted ya! Got that look in your eyes. That wanderlust. No mistakin’ it. I seen it in these as well.” He nods his head toward Kwesi, Mal, and Dima.
”See boys, the thing is...We’re under siege. And not merely by the weather, mind. Some upstarts calling themselves the The Stormreaders claim to control the very winds and waves, and its agents’ve been forcin’ us to scour the treach’rous flooded reaches of the city, Hyrantam, for old Lirgeni relics and treasures. As ‘tribute’, they say. And More’n that, the Stormreaders, they’ve demanded that we offer up to ‘em any who’ve had strange dreams of the city before, well, the Age of Lost Omens.”
Vancen falls into his creaking chair and tips open the door to an ancient-looking cedar humidor, its wood warped from excess moisture. He withdraws a calabash pipe with a terra cotta smoking bowl, a pinch of tobacco, and a rusty-looking firesteel. With a practiced hand, he loads the bowl with the tobacco, pressing it down gently with his thumb. A few good squeezes of the handle and the chert edge releases a burst of sparks. He puffs the mouthpiece once or twice, and soon a rich but slightly sour smoke rises. ”Damned mildew,” He grumbles. ”I shouldn’t complain. Dima here salvaged this treasure from the ocean floor just this morning. Otherwise there’d be no smoke ‘tall. But where’s my manners…” He withdraws a second pipe and offers it to anyone who would join him. Tag?
”Anyway, several of our people’s had such visions of late. Of course, at first we denied it and tried t’ hide them from the Stormreaders, but they saw through our deception. Then...Aessra appeared. The great thunderbird attacked us and killed dozens after our first refusal to give up our dreamers as tribute. Since then, I s’ppose we been lucky in that a selfless few among our number, Barundi, Ketpesh, have surrendered themselves to the Stormreaders for the good of the people. They haven’t returned. Normally we’d turn to the Star Savior, but he hasn’t been ‘round in weeks. Not unusual for ‘im to take off, but it’s mighty bad timing.”
”Not only that, the storms, they’re gettin’ worse. And predators’ve become agitated, makin’ it dangerous to even fish or forage, much less scour the ruins for treasures. We’re used to raids from skum or sahuagin and attacks from the occasional sea predator, but now we can barely feed ourselves without losing foragers to them, them ravenous beasts. Add on the folks who never returned from scavengin’ for relics t’offer the Stormreaders, and I don’t think our little community’ll last much longer. See, they’re expectin’ a new tribute in just three days time...”
He puts up a hand at Kwesi’s intense stare. ”I’m gettin’ there, I’m gettin there! Gotta lead in with a little drama for the new folks!"
”And on top o’ all else, one of our best, Mparu, the closest we got to a priestess, she’s gone missing. This worries me more’n the absence of the Star Savior, because this ain’t like Mparu. Kwesi’n me been figurin’ she was abducted by a local tribe of skum. And now, it’s all but proven.” With a great sigh he produces from his desk a small dart crafted from water reed stalk. Tied to its shaft is a piece of blue ribbon. ”Skum craftsmanship. And this ribbon, it’s Mparu’s. I found it on the jetty not long before I summoned you. They meant for me t’ find it. It’s a good sign, I think. It means they want us t’ know they have her. I figure it means she’s alive. And if that’s the case, I know where they’re keepin her.”
Tag? Response, questions?
Schists's brow lowers as he focuses on the harbormaster's words, following the tangled skein of names and players and forces at work. When Vancen offers the second pipe, the damp dwarf surprises himself by pushing off the wall with a curt nod of appreciation and taking it. He then stomps over to a chair artfully made from bleached driftwood and thick rope, and lowers his bulk into it with a grunt of appreciation.
He spends the rest of the harbormaster's overview tamping in the tabac, examining the pipe, and when he finally lights it in similar manner he leans back, the ropes creaking, and lifts his feet several inches before remembering that there's nothing to prop them up on.
Instead, his eyes close to slits and he puffs contentedly, making no comment as to the mildewy taste. Oily clouds the hue of newly forged steel rise above his bald head, and he seems to be drifting off with them, relaxing with the pipe and seemingly undisturbed by the grim if not apocalyptic information that Vancen is relaying.
At the very last he quirks a hairless eyebrow and fixes his attention on the harbormaster. His voice is gravely from the smoke and pitched low. "You know where they're keeping her?" It's more prompt than question.
Not fazed in the slightest at Kwesi's outburst seeing as she has plently of reason to be angry. Then Dima starts cackling Time and place my friend. Time and place. Closing his eyes for a moment before refocusing on Vance.
Anger singing in his veins and his hungry belly not longer bothers him. Fury is more that a filling meal. Those people that have been taken or lost to the sea on a fools errand were his. They were friends and had family. All lost to greed.
Shaking his head at the offer but knowing to keep his mouth shut until he has a better grasp on his wrath. Something Vance is not making any easier with his want for 'drama.'
Rubbing his left arm at the word 'predators' Lucky it was just the little ones. Jostled out his thoughts of loss when the a new voice speaks up. Looking over at Schist Hmm, he sees relaxed... Right, no, this, arrg!
Shaking his head and looking over at Vance, "Schist question first. Then when can I leave?"
What Mal said. You were always too worried about drama, sir. It's clearly all Kwesi can do to keep from bolting out the door instantaneously, and she thrums visibly with tension and energy. A thin sheet of water begins to sluice underneath the crack beneath the nearby door, drawn to the Mwangi woman like iron filings to a magnet;\. It's climbed halfway up her leg before she even seems to notice, and she dismisses it with barely a glance; the strange occurrence seems of little concern to her as the stream swirls around her hips and up to her arm. Where is she? How do we get there, and what kind of guard will they have? I've got an answer for when, though - now. Before another minute passes. If we move quickly we may get the jump on them - I'll call Adofo to join us -
Not a patient sort. ;)
Kn. Arcana: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
Schist catches sight of the animated rivulet, and he studies both it and Kwesi for a moment before returning his attention to Vancen.
Can he figure out what just happened with her?
Now how'd Vancen know I did that dive for Koffi when he was keepin' it all hushed under the covers... Dima seems confused in his own thoughts for a moment, pretty much ignoring Schist and Mal's replies and Kwesi's angered outburst and intensity. For a moment he ponders whether he should have taken the Harbormaster up on the rare smoke, only to shrug and conclude he really has no interest in such habits.
Malorrem's confident statement about leaving to take care of this nasty menace to the struggling community spurs Dima back to the present. Finally something worth acting upon, allowing Dima to prove his true skill and prowess! It doesn't hurt either that respectful folk have been taken by these "Stormreaders" who think they can push around and grab up normal folk with their threats, for both in Rahadoum and in The Shackles Dima got his fill of those who used power to enslave and abuse others that didn't. That some tribe of frogspawn muck-dwellers thinks they can get away with taking Kwesi's teacher or whatever-she-was is just the honey on top of the sweetcake as they say. Kurgess be praised! This must be why Magne and I have been a stewin' in this soggy mess without a yearning' to get gone! Now we come to meet it straight on!
Dima steps forward boldly to approach Harbormaster Vancen, exclaiming, "Well why didn't ya say so before! I had ya figured wrong before Vancen, but at least ya knew who to ask when the shiny stacks are all on the table and the dice lots are called! You need Mal and I...and uh...," he pauses as he awkwardly includes Kwesi and the other two strangers as an afterthought, "...uh and everyone you called here to get this done and see it through...well say no more! No skummy little frog-hoppers are gonna stand in the way of me and Magne, that's for truth now. I don't know how these Stormreaders are leading around that Aessra-bird like it's on raptor's straps and blinders, but if they aren't alive to tell it what for and where, maybe it will just go off on its own someplace else."
Shearwater refuses the pipe, citing his fondness for fresh air. He does not rebuke anyone for partaking, however.
A thunderbird? Now, that would be a sight to see...
"Dreamers, huh?" he asks nonchalantly. "As it happens, I've been having some mighty strange dreams lately. Might match your description, even. I wouldn't mind talking to some of these folk, once we're done with the skum."
Running a tired hand though his copper hair with a frown. The fury of the storm that has sung outside his home for so long thrums in hir head demanding action. And everyone starts in preventing answers. Preventing the leave. Stalling the blood that needs to be shed. Glaring over a Kwesi and snapping at her with a growl in his voice, "Will you calm the hell down! You are upsetting the very water again."
Sucking in a deep breath and holding it. Shaking his head and slowly letting the breath out. Clinching his hands to stave off the shaking that is setting in. That roaring rage is getting louder and it demands blood.
Glaring at Vance and snapping at him with the same growl still very present in his voice, "Will you answer the questions so we can go and get her back. Without the damn drama this time!" Sucking in another large breath of air and spitting out the required, "Sir."
Shearwater raises his hands in a conciliatory gesture, cooing in soothing tones at Kwesi and Malorrem. "Now now, have some patience. We're all on the same side here, and just as keen to save this Mparu as you are. The skum are keeping her alive for a reason, and by hurrying we could be playing right into their twisted plans. Who's going save her if we rush headlong into our deaths, hmm?"
The priest turns back to Vancen with a crooked smile. "With that said, we should probably save the embellishments for our triumphant return."
Vancen smiles approvingly when Schist accepts the offered pipe.. ”Always time for a lil’ smoke, I say. The world makes more sense after.”
When Mal and Kwesi gang up on him, he frowns, clearly put out. But he recovers quickly, especially when Shearwater tries to cool tempers. "Alright! Alright! Aye, ethusiasm! Optimism! That's what this perch of a town needs more of! So now let’s see. Based on what we’ve seen of skum activity late, I’d place their camp in that old Soac planetur… planete… planetarium out westward. It’s completely submerged underwater, y’know, so you’ll need some gill juice.” He stands and walks to a chest of drawers against the adjacent wall, opening and closing several before finding what he’s looking for. He withdraws four small tubes containing a thick soup of what appears to be a dark green algae, each plugged with a stained cork. He hands one each to Dima, Mal, Shearwater, passing over Kwesi with a sly wink. He pauses at Schist. ”You in, Smokie?”
”Drink that before the dive. Should last about ten hours. Gale’o’Gozreh, I hope you don’t need that long. And I take it ya mean to go right now, but even durin’ daylight the depths can get pretty dark. Ya got a way to see? As to gettin’ over there, well, you’re welcome to take any of the rowboats moored outside, unless you’d prefer your own.”
"As it happens, I've been having some mighty strange dreams lately. Might match your description, even. I wouldn't mind talking to some of these folk, once we're done with the skum."
Vancen’s ubiquitous smile drops with the weight of an anchor, his dark skin somehow paling in the dim lamplight. He glances toward the porthole with a fretful expression. ”Well maybe just coincidence!” he says a little too loudly, before sinking into a whisper. ”I’d keep that information to yourself fer now, Mr. Shearwater. Them Stormreaders ain’t the type ya want to be socializin’ with, if ya catch my drift. We’ll talk more when ya return, o’ course.”
He stands. ”Right. Move fast. Get in, find Mparu, get out. Should be crabcake for the likes of ya’ll. Then we’ll drink. And talk some more, aye?” He glances knowingly at Shearwater. ”Squall’s speed to ya. Now be off.”
The fastest route to the planetarium is just under 10,000 feet to the west. The waters are rough, and a rowed or poled boat can travel at a rate of 2,500 feet per hour with a successful profession(sailor) check. Having succeeded at these checks, it will still take you nearly four hours of rowing to reach the location of the planetarium. This will place you there in the early, pre-dawn morning. For now, we will ignore the effects of fatigue.
The group anxiously sets back out into the rain. Luck is with you, for the winds blow no more fiercely than usual, and the choppy waters feel like home to many of you. Selecting a sailing vessel (Tag? If you’re taking one of yours feel free to describe it!) you load yourselves and your supplies into the boat, claim an oar, then set course unto the darkling sea.
As the minutes roll into hours, lightning illuminates the ancient towers of Frogmarch Ridge that loom to your right, ever reaching up toward the stars they have not known for centuries. Silent sentries to the mysteries of an age, their watch is not yet complete and, like hopeful ladies sending their sailors off to sea, still stand hopeful upon the precipice of time. Waiting, it seems, to light a beacon and guide their weary star-travelers home.
Before long, the towers disappear and only the steady thrum of rain accompanies you across the vast emptiness of what is known as Starview Lagoon, its depths suggesting that at one time this area served as a port for Hyrantam.
But as you approach the western ruins, the sky itself seems to revolt. A shriek, louder and larger than anything you have ever heard, pierces the darkness. With it follows a rolling thunder that quakes and shivers through the air--a skyquake. Lightning flashes behind the clouds, following a peculiarly elegant arc. The crumbling towers tremble and groan as though they dread the coming of this storm. And though you are unable to fully assess its scale, it almost looks as though a great wing, as large as a ship’s sail, emerges from the clouds.
The rolling sea of stormclouds above roils again, and the creature is gone as swiftly as it appeared, seeming not to notice, or at least care, for your presence.
Tag? Assume you reach the waters above the old Soac Planetarium.
Dima Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (13) + 6 = 19
Kwesi Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
Malorrem Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (9) + 7 = 16
Schist Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Shearwater Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
Dima Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 20
Kwesi Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Malorrem Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
Schist Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23
Shearwater Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12
Dima Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
Kwesi Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (6) + 7 = 13
Malorrem Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
Schist Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Shearwater Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
Dima Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
Kwesi Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
Malorrem Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
Schist Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17
Shearwater Prof(sailor): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (20) + 8 = 28
Enounter: 1d100 ⇒ 94