Last Stand of the 5th Crusade

Cohort Logs

Ivan

It’s amazing to be off the airship. To walk on the ground in a new land with so many people gets me going, although I am going to miss my nights talking with Keeya. She is finally warming up to me.

This city is amazing, with twice the population of Promise I am bound to never go bored. After walking the streets for two days I was surprised to see so many humans in a city not bound by dragonic law, but at the same time, I hear there is a mighty silver dragon that walks the streets.

I hear my new paladin friend Draegan is going to a noble’s manor to learn of an abduction. I think I will go as well to see what I can learn.

Nelethiel

Guarding the area is nearly impossible. I can get to the roof easily enough and get a sight on most angles, but with so many people walking around I will never be able to know friend or foe. It seems the guards have the same problems. I have seen many instances of martial law enforced with fist and proclamation and we have only just arrived. I hear they mercenaries and adventures contained to a camp beyond the walls in the north. Wise move considering the threats.

Auctus

This forced mission is already a bother. There are no suitable libraries and the people here are clueless to what lies just beyond the Sellen River. How can this be?! Much of the knowledge these so-called adventures and soldier have of demons is confused and muddled, yet my father somehow believes I can learn from this. I have heard of a Librarium in the Gate District. It is claimed to be impressive, but I doubt it will hold a candle to what I have at Promise.

Keeya

This place is a wonder! So many voices to hear and faces to see. I have walked the streets with Nelethiel and overheard the most amazing stories. This city is brutish, but also lovely. Auctus is ready to crawl out of his skin in anger and frustration. I wish I could tell him to calm down and relax, but he is very short with me and feels his life is wasting away with this pointless mission. Nelethiel is stressed out because she does not feel capable to protect us at night, but I don’t think it’s really her responsibility. We are all here together and as long as she does her best, I feel safe. Ivan continues to make me laugh, but he also makes me feel uncomfortable. He is far too young to understand his advances and I know it makes Kyrk uncomfortable.

We met a few new people, Draegan and Locura. Both men are hardened from battle and trajedy. Draegon is pure in heart and Locura has the most beautiful voice, something unexpected. I hope to learn more about them in the coming months.

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Kyrk's Memoirs
Journal 1: Promise after Promise?

Saying goodbye to my family and friends was excruciating. I still can’t tell if the looks on my parents’ faces were due to disappointment in me or sadness for my leaving. I feel like I let them down horribly, both by brining dishonor and shame to our family, but also because of aborting my studies at the Academy after so much hard work trying to become the Wizard they have always encouraged and expected me to be. Between me and my siblings, however, there was only sadness and the rift of separation already yawning between us. I will miss their company so, even the needling and joking at my expense!

But after experiencing that fateful contact with the Hezrou, I KNOW my destiny lies elsewhere than Hermea. Whatever Abyssal connection I share with that disgusting entity, it is one that must be faced, for to ignore it is, ultimately, to be swallowed up by it, I believe. I would rather investigate on my own terms and choose how to sunder any evil taint that claims hold of me than fall prey to it slowly or insidiously without having a choice.

I can’t believe Keeya made the sacrifice she has to come with me. I feel guilty that SHE feels so guilty! Yes, the dreams plagued her, but it was the demon working to find me that was the cause. And I was the one it acted through to gain its freedom. I was the pawn in that chess move! I swear I will get my revenge on it, and any of its kind that disrupt the balance between good and evil, law and chaos beyond that which Nethys would consider right. If Keeya can help me do this, she will repay anything that is owed, but it agonizes me that she thinks there is a debt to be paid. How could she ever consider me anything but a burden now? If my heart aches for her, I see now that it is likely never to be requited.

What will my future hold after Promise? Will I ever see any of my family again? I like to think so, but perhaps that is the petulant denial of a child and not the pragmatic realism of the adult I wish to be.

The airship ride was marvelous! The gnomes, of which I had only ever met a few, were so confident and capable and deft with their magical propulsion and steering. I’m sure I annoyed more than a few with my questions, but no matter, for the magic is AMAZING, and I had to figure it out. I can’t wait until I am able to master the spells of flight and overland travel. Such freedom!

Spending time with Neleryn and Nelethiel (is she EVER not by his side) was also enjoyable. Neleryn IS arrogant, but I suspect some of that is not actually arrogance but insecurity. Still, he is a talented swordsman and wielder of arcane energy. Seems a waste to even bother with arms when the pure energy of magic is sufficient, but not everyone understands the true value of things. Speaking Elven with them was both a joy and brought me sadness, reminding me constantly of my family. Neleryn was very gracious in sharing his spell book with me, and I hope he found some value in mine, though none of mine were Evocation. A whole month of reading and scribing scrolls! Such a pleasure! I suspect it will be the longest stretch I have to do that for months, perhaps even years. We head towards such danger and turmoil that thoughtful study and writing may already be a thing of the past.

Barca and Auctus are an odd couple of friends, but I wouldn’t want the big boy swinging his club at me, that’s for sure! He’s a bit impetuous and possibly easy to manipulate, so I will have to make sure people don’t take advantage of his naivety and temper. Auctus is a pedant, but I must admit, he is right about much. His knowledge is extensive, and I hope to learn from him, but that boy better learn some humility or he is headed for a fall. Balance in all things!

I am eager to learn sign language so that I might better communicate with Riva. She is perfectly fluent in the spoken word, but it only seems courteous to learn how to speak with her in her fashion and not expect her to have to do all the hard work of interpreting lips and body language. Plus, I am eager to see if my theory that sign language could underpin arcane soma theory is true. Who knows, perhaps becoming fluent in it would help my casting become more efficient, powerful, and graceful? Ivan annoys me, but he’s just so friendly it’s impossible not to forgive him each time. I don’t like how he pursues Keeya — she’s just another possible conquest for him! Thankfully, she doesn’t reciprocate any affection. He’s just so handsome…I know I can’t compete with that aspect of courting.

And our new companions, Locura and Draegan seem like good folk. The half-orc is a bit flowery and ostentatious, but by all rights seems possessed of both strength of arm and divine power. The same goes for Draegan, though he is much more introverted than the half-orc. Maybe he is ashamed of his half-breed status. I hope not. There is a place for all in Golarion.

Arriving in Kenebres was odd. So many specimens of humanity FAR down the scale of breeding and training than what I have been accustomed to as part of the Glorious Endeavor. These rejects are meant to save the world from demons? My work looks like it will be harder than even I thought, if I am to be surrounded by drunkards and liars like that Aron fellow we tangled with tonight. It is a good lesson in sensing the motives of those one meets, however. In Promise, truth was expected and given far more often than not. Here, well, I don’t know. I’m glad I followed my instinct and Teleryn’s prompting though. I think Aron would have led us to our depths in the sewers if we had followed him.

And I got to cast my first spells in actual combat! Glitterdust is INCREDIBLE! I felt bad for blinding Locura, but Aron was blinded too, so perhaps that was Nethys at work in more ways than one! Ha! Grease didn’t do what I had hoped, but the Web spell gave us a chance to hold on to the nimble bastard. But the others failed rather spectacularly in detaining him, after I gave our group a fighting (literally) chance! I hope they learned as much about their strengths and weaknesses in combat as I did. I will do my best to aid them in future battles, as I am not yet strong enough to win most on my own yet. Someday, though, I believe I shall.

Until then, we must share with Irabeth our encounter with and knowledge of Aron. I hope she will judge our actions fairly. I hope my companions will keep the greater mission in mind and not fall prey to distractions. We have demons to face in our futures, and futures which depend on not making the number and kind of mistakes we made tonight!

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Lokura's Journal 1
Notes for Report to Queen Galfrey

Wealday 17 Erastus, The Sea

Our year-long stay in Promise, on the island of Hermea in the Steaming Sea, has finally come to an end! After tedious and delicate negotiations with the dragon Mengkare, we finally recruited a small team of exiles from the island. Were these worth the the expenses — our long stay, the immense cost of food and travel, not to mention the potential for recruiting greater numbers closer to home? In exchange for what must have been a Queen’s ransom, these were supposedly Hermea’s best, but who knows what scales a dragon uses in its trades?

For the record, our company includes: Barca Sechabo, a fearless young Mwangi boy almost as big as me, and his knowledgeable companion Auctus Urdela; Kyrk Xathariel, an inquisitive tiefling wizard, and his sylph companion Keeya Olinva; Riva Tallix, a soft-spoken woman, deaf in her ears but who listens to spirits, and her young brother Ivan; a pair of elves by the names of Neleryn and Nelethiel Amakiir (these two did not address me, and their language was far too complex to pick up — perhaps in later studies); and a half dozen or so Kenabres infantry and diplomats, with whom I have *N*ever *P*roperly *C*onversed.

We departed yesterday a week after Erastil’s feast, though no one celebrates holidays on Hermea — a dour bunch, living under the thumb of that dragon. Our mode is a fantastical gnomish airboat kept afloat by fey magic, like Zarzuket’s Zeplin come to life! Some of our company asked endless questions of our pilots, but I was too overwhelmed by the simple beauty of watching sunrises and sunsets from high in the clouds, and the endlessly joyful perspective of ocean and lands far below, the tiny roads and farms and villages and cities. And the cold! Even in late summer, the high frigid winds bit deep into our ears and fingers.

Starday 27 Erastus, Orclands, Belkzen

It took us nearly a week to reach land from the distant island, and as we entered the bay we flew directly over Korvosa! From there, we must have nearly mirrored my mother’s path when she traveled from her homeland so long ago. I hope to ask her someday, and thrill the old queens with tales of my travels! I wonder if old Miravu ever traveled by airboat?

On our month-long journey we watched the moon fill and fail, and I sang the Melodies out into the open sky. Riva entertained herself with shenanigans wherein she convinced Major-General Gladbags to build her a telescope out of pieces of the airboat. Fortunately for us all, the cook did not share Gladbags’ enthusiasm.

From Korvosa, we sailed north along the edge of the Mindspin Mountains. Barca joked about needing an umbrella in the Wastes. I can only pray to the Songbird and the Protector and every other power of good — both known and unknown — that he will still want to joke after our first storm.

Gladbags tells me that we will pass directly over Urgir, and then head straight for my old home!

Moonday 5 Arodus, West Sellen, Numeria

I almost wished to jump out in Karcau, but I have given my word to Queen Galfrey, and it would have been a long fall into the lake. I will inquire about sending a message to my mother. Perhaps now that I am settled we can correspond or she can take some time for a visit.

Oathday 8 Arodus, West Sellen, Mendev

As if by design, we crossed into Mendev on First Crusader Day, and will follow the West Sellen all the way to Kenabres, as I have done so many times on foot. These last few days of our journey have passed more slowly than the weeks had passed before. From our high vantage point, I could see the sickening wasteland of old Sarkoris, and all of us — even the tiefling — spent our last week in morose silence.

Fireday 9 Arodus, Kenabres, Mendev

Once again as if by portentous design, we reach Kenabres on the Day of Silenced Whispers. The holiday is a much grander commemoration back home in Karcau. In Mendev it is merely a ramp-up of daily-increasing fervor for the high holy day of Armasse.

The honor guard that met us included my colleague Draegan, and Commander Irabeth. She did not seem pleased by our small numbers, or perhaps it was the presence of a hellspawn. Tieflings are treated poorly in Kenabres — but as the curtain pullers used to say: the queerer the ears, the louder the cheers. And besides, it is inner beauty that radiates outward, not the other way around.

After a typically cold Mendevian welcome, we dug in at a civilian townhouse in the Ring District with a mission to observe: to look for any signs of strange behavior. Ivan seemed to take to it immediately, mimicking the local styles, accents, and body language with great ease, while the poor Sylph Keeya was uncomfortable as ever. I invited her to visit some of the beautiful places of Kenabres, but at this she withdrew even further. I suppose she will sing her song in her own time. She does warm a bit to Ivan, but I suspect he is merely clanging his bell to attract her, for it is clear that he does not know True Beauty.

Sunday 11 Arodus, Kenabres, Mendev

We spent a few days wandering around the city, until one evening Draegan and I happened upon Aron Kir, whom we knew from the Kenabres Wolves. He was nearly dead drunk, incoherent and vomiting. I believe he had been drugged, but exactly how I could not detect with the skills taught me by old Miravu. We took him to the temple, along with the Mwangi and a few others.

Faced with typical Mendevian beaurocratic apathy I let my temper get the better of me and convinced them — rather fiercely — to remove his drunken condition. Aron came to his senses and quickly gathered us into a dark alley and asked me to cover my light, which I did not like, but the city guards passed us by. Better for them to pass a night or two breaking up bar fights than to find me with my ears steaming. I am after all a priest of the Gentle Lady — not some crass, eye-gouging Belkzen tribesman.

Aron was not in his right mind. He was obsessed with finding Horgus Gwerm, a noble who deals arms to the crusaders. But he did not wish for us to seek help. He acted like one who had tasted Ustalavan marshflowers on a new moon. I suspected that this Horgus supplied him with more than arms. After much prodding he admitted that he had been ejected from the Wolves. He asked Draegen to find a Wolf named Corain, with the message that he (Aron) would “make it right”. He would not elaborate on this.

While ranting, Aron threw his silver drinking flask on the ground, and ignored me when I tried to hand it back to him. Finally, when our party had gathered, he took us to the old ruined mansion in the Gate District. Here he had some tale that the mongrels had taken Horgus and wanted us to accompany him to the underground to help negotiate the noble’s return. Our company was not in agreement about this. The elves in particular voiced their opposition, but I could not understand their language to listen to their wisdom. Finally, Aron stormed into the old house without us. To keep him safe, we followed, and Riva tricked him into doubling back for us, at which point Barca grabbed him and we attempted to drag him out. This Aron did not like, and he gave Barca a nasty cut with his thin blades. Not wanting to hurt him, we disarmed him and continued to drag him out, hoping to give him a sober night in the barracks brig, but he escaped neatly. Kyrk sniffed the air in search of a trail, but he was gone.

We returned to our apartments, I with Aron’s weapons and flask. Kenabres is no place for a disarmed mercenary — or a sober mercenary, for that matter — and I do hope we find him soon, and in better spirits.

I suspect we will get an earful from Irabeth. I do not fear her. I have stood before the Tower. I know how easily madness can overtake a soldier, and I will do everything in my power to protect a comrade from such a fate. And with Shelyn’s luck, I will have the opportunity to lead Aron back to the true beauty.

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Riva's journal — 19th of Erastus, somewhere over southern Varisia

Riva keeps a private journal in her pack. She is clearly very guarded about its contents, and if you approach her while she is writing she will always close it before she speaks, a finger between the fresh pages to keep the ink from smearing.

I’ll post some of her entries in the OP Adventure Log to give you a better sense of her character, but the details here may go beyond what the other PCs know yet.

————

Promise. Such a beautiful word and idea — such a beautiful place. Yet as I sail eastward on the trades in this marvelous airship, I wonder what promise my home held for me. For the past ten years there my life has been torn apart by shadows I barely understand. Maybe making a break is best. Ivan seems to think so. He left Promise to help me — I know that, and I know Mama and Dad quietly encouraged him. But I also know that he holds no regret whatsoever. I’m happy for him. He was clearly getting bored there, outgrowing that town, and he couldn’t be more excited to see the new horizons ahead.

And oh, what horizons they are! I write now from the observation deck of the RGA Thinkerthom. Apparently that’s short for Resplendent Gnomish Airships, and the the delightfully eccentric crew appear to pronounce it “tinker-tom.” Saying it that way got me approving nods, so I’m pretty sure I read that right.

Yet all the wonders of this ship cannot compare to what I see now. The sun is setting through the clouds below us, lighting them up with an otherworldly majesty. The most brilliant ones remind me of Dad’s drawings of galactic nebulae, glowing with slowly changing colors. I wish I had his artistic talent — I would love to be able to capture this in more than words. Kyrk and Lokura are also on deck, sketching in their books. I notice that Kyrk is using an assortment of colored inks. I’ll ask to see their drawings later, if they don’t mind.

Still, I so wish that I could see what’s below those clouds. It’s been overcast all day today. The crew tells me that we are over southern Varisia. I think we passed over Magnimar around noon. What I would have given to see it! Mama told us so many stories! All we could see from the airship were the tallest segments of the great Thassilonian bridge, which broke through the cloud cover almost directly below us. I had great hopes that we would land after crossing the Steaming Sea, but no. Providing us with continuous provisions is trivial magic compared to the airship itself. We pressed on, never stopping, northward and eastward.

————

The night skies from here are incredible. It’s close to new moon now. Almost exactly antipodal to my birthmonth, and the Follower and Thrush are high in the sky. And the ever-present Pole Star.

I asked if there was a telescope onboard, but unfortunately no. One of the crew — Ogthorp Gladbags, I think? — got very excited and volunteered to build me one. Later I saw him running from the kitchen with a handful of metal coils, springs maybe, getting chased by the cook, who was shouting what I can only assume were gnomish curses. Sometimes I worry about this airship. My hopes for a functioning telescope are not high.

————

Lokura is an interesting soul. He carries much with him. None of the others seem to have faced horror like anything he’s experienced, and his scars show clearly, especially at night. Yet he seems happy. He frequently talks about beauty, and he obviously means it, buoyed by his faith in Shelyn. The Glorious Endeavor cut us off from this aspect of life, quite intentionally, and these days I often doubt the wisdom of that. Mama had has faith. I sometimes saw her praying to Desna. She taught me those old Varisian prayers, so much a part of caravan life, but having grown up in the antiseptic culture of Promise they always rang hollow to me. I took much more after Dad that way, I suppose. I think it always made her a little sad.

And oh gods how I miss them. I read the cards every night, but they give me no solace. The Empty Throne keeps coming up, and its symbol of irrevocable loss kills me every time. I know that it means I carry them with me, but that is no real consolation. The Lost has shown itself in my future as well. I dread what it may bring. I am so grateful that Keeya is my cabin mate. I’m a wreck right now, but I know she won’t tell the others.

I need to keep myself together. Almost midnight. The observation deck should be empty, and I’ll practice my meditation there.

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Riva's backstory

I’ve moved Riva’s story into a Google doc: Riva Tallix backstory

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