The Fires of Revolution

46. Riverton. Galt.

[in a very Korvosan Varisian, adapted to Draconic script with a series of horribly long and nigh-insensible di-, tri-, and quadrigraphs and diacritics]

It’s getting difficult to tell these villages apart, but Riverton has the distinction of being perhaps the most ssthænhiihxcchxha zetaillo. The inn is little more than a long hovel and the beer tastes like blindness and infertility. Tien ren with scrolls on the side. Investigate later. With money.

Pretty standard fare. It improved substantially when a bard jumped on a box and started busking. She drew the attention of a pompous Osirian idiot claiming loudly to be a prince and wanting to hire adventurers for a lost cargo stolen by an army. Worth mostly ignoring until he started waving his last scrap of jewelry around. I had to walk over and shove his hand back in his coat before the rest of the criminal element—or, worse, the Chelish dogs hanging about in force.

The bard introduced herself as Fliuch and started on about the history of the thing. Cute but thoroughly unhelpful. She’d managed to hire an orc—Arsenau—already. She’s just shy of two kxkxthælhnissih. Big. Moves like she knows how to use it, too. Approve. Bit of a stick up her ass.

Just our luck the eatshit devilfuckers decided to show up before we could get less exposed, quibbling over some administrative bullshit. Between the orc and I we’d probably have woken up in Purgatory or wherever, but for the intervention of two more:

Liriel. Half-elf. Maybe some Varisian in her. Monk. Definite stick up her ass about rules. If I were any good at headgames she might be more amenable, but so it goes.

Rufus. Chelish dog. Cleric of somebody. Untrustworthy. Half elvish or so, but manages to hide it well enough. Nobody else seems to suspect. Why he’d hide something so innocuous is a mystery. Untrustworthy.

But he got rid of the hellknight. I hope to all the hells she isn’t following us. Me. All the same.

First hiccup was running into that army that didn’t exist. Turns out it was just a particularly talented sorceress and three mooks that didn’t present much trouble. The monk also saw through the illusion. I can’t tell if that comforts or unsettles.

Regardless, the sorc ran off as soon as her concentration broke. I winged her with a ray of frost, but it didn’t do much. Expected. The mook in front of me went down quickly enough; dumbass tried to attack the raft from the water.

Casualties:
*Two mooks.
*One dead mook.
*Social approval.

[LEDGER REDACTED]

I do wonder that they didn’t stop to bury the dead man. They opted to heal the living ones and set them off, naked, unarmed, and half conscious through a day’s walk of wildlands filled with many such as themselves. I don’t imagine they lived long.

We met a faerie-gnome looking for a pixie. Renée Willatonka of name. She left us some things in return for our help, and she paid well. Shortbow Fliuch could make good use of. She was pretty happy to have it. Pretty smile and eyes like a clear night sky and her laughs are rain.

[LEDGER REDACTED]

Second hiccup was the tiger Azra or whatever spoke of. Only reason we’re not dead was a lucky color spray and Arsenau. She didn’t notice pieces were missing and she stank of open bowels.

Don’t provoke the orc. DON’T PROVOKE THE ORC.

We managed to knock it out and drag it back to the cage. Looted the camp, but the sorc got the most valuable. Managed to find [LEDGER REDACTED]. Letters involving a larger organisation. ‘Zeke’ came up. Follow up in larger down.

Got to talk to Fliuch during watch. I like her. Idyllic upbringing until a wizard. Like a fairytale, complete with a sleeping-curse. Something about ‘stole her breath’. Have to investigate further. Might be a library in Isarn worth two shits if they haven’t burned it down yet. Might be a little too curated. We’ll see.

Willatonka showed up again. Led us to the pixie’s cave. Found an ogre. Fixed the ogre. Found the sorceror. Found the pixie. Might’ve colorsprayed the party. Maybehaps. Might.

Renée homed in on the fairy. Ignored the sorceress. Should’ve expected. Sorceror went down. Nearly ended the monk. Damn Chelish worm let the pixie go, though Renée seemed satisfied with the dust. æxcihhkrhxlhlhrethhr.

Returned to shitty lakeside hamlet with recovered tiger and manifest and heirloom. No trouble with blackshirts. On to Isarn and all between.

View
Conversation between Fliuch and Liriel (East Sellen Riverside)
19 Sarenith 4715

The party’s left the Highwaymen’s camp, and have a tiger in tow. It’s a few days’ trip back to Riverton, and they’re setting up a small sleep area. With how they’ve drawn lots and decided to distribute watch responsibility, Liriel and Fliuch are to stand watch on the same shift, around midnight.

Fliuch yawns while tuning and re-tuning her lute, and smiles brightly at the monk while testing the strings.

Liriel sits cross-legged near the fire, facing away into the darkness. She mutters a mantra under her breath, watching for disturbances.

The bard glances at the be-caged tiger, and turns to look back to Liriel. She stops adjusting her strings, and speaks softly. “I’m glad the tiger’s looking a little better. Asir will be so surprised!”

Liriel starts slightly, as if surprised that Fliuch spoke to her. “Yes. It is good we could recover all of his property.”

Fliuch’s smile persists, and she nods. “You’re good at fighting.” She plays several chords softly, looking down at her instrument. “Without any weapons or armour, too. Where did you learn it?”

“In Isger.” Liriel speaks without turning to face Fliuch. “I was raised by the Sisters of the Golden Erinyes. We are all trained as such. Our style mimics that of the barbed devils, designed to cause pain without death.”

Liriel shakes her head. “Punishment ends with death.”

The girl’s playing pauses, but she keeps smiling. “Oh. I see! Were you a justiciar? Someone who punished a lot of people?”

Liriel turns to face Fliuch. “I am an arbiter. Think of it as a wandering justicar. Galt is to be my first mission.”

Her voice becomes hollow, “I am to be Judge, Jury, and, if necessary, Executioner.” she recites as if by rote. “I will return Law to this cursed land.”

She looks intently at Fliuch. “What is your purpose?”

“Executioner..?” Fliuch picks up playing a calm, pleasant song. “That’s quite a.. Pursuit. You’re going to kill evil people?”

“I will punish the guilty. That punishment may be death, on occasion. Whether one is good or evil is irrelevant. All that matters is adherance to the Law.”
She looks out into the darkness again. “You didn’t answer my question, by the way.”

Fliuch’s expression flattens, her lips pursed. “Oh.” She watches the fire for a short while before asking, “No, I didn’t. I’m from the Nolands, and I’m looking for a person.” She steals occasional glances at Liriel as she asks, “Who’s law?”

Liriel looks at Fliuch, now wearing a puzzled expression. “Th-the Law put down by mortals to govern themselves. Without Law there is Chaos, and with Chaos comes suffering.”

She holds her hand out to the forest and lands beyond. “This country has been at war with itself for decades. The people suffer. There is Chaos as far as one can see. That’s the reason those bandits exist, the reason there are great pits filled with bodies by the roads, the reason my paren-”

She goes silent. “Why are you looking for them?”

The bard nods as Liriel speaks, keeping eye contact. The lute sits silently in her lap. “They ensorcelled my mother.” She considers, and her expression becoming wrought with sympathy. She furrows her brow, adding, “I’m sorry you’re in this kind of position. It must be a lot of responsibility.”

Liriel sets back down, facing the fire this time. “It is…” her voice grows wistful, “It is an honor. I am the youngest arbiter in nearly four decades. I cannot fail my mission, it would be a stain on the Sisterhood.”

She looks Fliuch directly in the eyes, gold meeting brown. “What will you do when you find them?”

“Your mission is to enforce laws? Natural ones?” Fliuch asks, picking random notes. Her tone’s melancholic. “Is killing against them?”

Liriel begins to recite again. “Murder is defined as knowingly and willingly killing another sapient being. One may kill in self defence or the defence of others, if all lesser means have failed or cannot be reasonably employed. One may kill in the line of duty of one’s appointed task, as directed by a legal authority.”

“I’m sorry, I-” Fliuch tightens her mouth, and leans back against the stone behind her. “I’m sorry. I’m interested in learning about you, and was going to answer.”

Sitting upright and looking into Liriel’s eyes, she proceeds. “I intend to find them, and discuss what happened. I don’t know why they did what they did. But there’s got to be a good explanation. I’m not out for blood or revenge, I just want to sort it out and fix what went wrong.”

She breaths out heavily, and smiles halfway. “They made a deal with my mother. She’s a skilled luthier. She made a lute for them, and they left.”

“They came back a few days later, and attacked her. I don’t know why, and nobody else does, either.” Her expression hardens. “But they killed my dad, and my brother, and my sister. There’s got to be a reason for it.”

“And what if there isn’t? What if it was all just the whim of a cruel soul? What will you do, should you find it was random chance? That Chaos destroyed your family?”

Fliuch frowns, considering. “I try to keep an open mind about it, but it just wouldn’t make sense. People don’t do bad things just because they’re ‘bad’. They always have reasons.” She adjusts her sitting position, leaning the lute carefully against the stone and kneeling on her layered skirts. The fire reflects brightly from her cheerful orange dress. “I think people only hurt others if they’re desperate, or were wronged, or were hurt themselves.” She smiles. “People start out good.”

Liriel stares at Fliuch for a very long time. “Do you believe in destiny?”

The bard is quiet for a moment. “You mean, fate? Like we’re headed to a future we don’t control?”

“Yes.” Liriel furrows her brow and appears to choose her next words very carefully, “Do you believe that we are on a set path from birth, our every move preordained and unchangeable?”

“No. Of course not!” Fliuch smiles. "We choose everything we do, and make our own futures. That’s probably why people fight so much.”

Liriel’s face hardens and she turns to once again to face the dark forest. She sits silently while Fliuch strums quietly on her lute. After a bit, she speaks, “Filuch?”

The girl’s fingers dance on the fretboard. She picks a soothing melody and slowly opens her eyes. She looks to the monk, her smile filling her every feature. “Yes, Liriel?”

“Your music is beautiful. Thank you.” She resumes her mantra, though now to the tune of Fliuch’s playing.

Fliuch inhales deeply, smiling widely. Her playing becomes more expressive. “You’re welcome, Liriel.”

[Fliuch plays softly and Liriel focuses her energy until the next shift has begun.]

View
Conversation between Arsenau and Fliuch (Riverton)
20 Sarenith 4715

our scene opens in Riverton. It’s a pleasant evening, and the party is trading and purchasing goods in the bustling trade community. Arsenau and Fliuch are resting in a tree’s shade.

“So, Fliuch… where’d you get that scrap of cloth you’re so curious about anyways?”

The girl idly picks at her lute, smiling over at Arsenau. “It was once attached to a robe, which belonged to a person. I’m looking for that person.” She plays several cheery chords, adjusting her seating under the tree. “They did some pretty bad stuff to my family. So I’m trying to fix it. I’m sure it’ll all work out great.” Her smile brightens, and she plays an upbeat tune. “Especially with you helping me!”

Arsenau smirks pleasently, but gives a slightly skeptical sounding “heh” before peering off into the night. “Can’t argue with righting wrongs…” she says, as if to no one in particular. She picks up her bottle and looks at it for a moment before taking a small swig and setting it back down. “What makes you so confident I’ll be that helpful? You aren’t just looking for someone to strike a vengeful blow are you?”

Fliuch pauses in playing and considers, picking up again after a moment in a different key. “I don’t want vengeance, no.. I don’t think so.” She pauses again, and smiles wistfully. “I more want to figure out why it happened. I don’t understand why the wizard cursed my mother. Or, killed my..” She coughs, pulling at her bodice and smoothing our her cheerful orange skirts. “I don’t know why it happened. Maybe there’s a good explanation, and they’ll take responsibility for it. Maybe we can talk about it.”

The girl shifts into a different sitting position, and makes strong eye contact. She picks up playing again, this time an exciting tune. “And, you’re strong. You’re really strong.” Her smile returns in full force. “You confronted a band of highwaymen. You fought a tiger, and still stood. You engaged an ogre, and ran it through as if it were damp parchment paper. And, you fight for good. You help people.” Her intrepid playing continues, and her eyes are lit up like glittering stars. “You’re a hero.”

Arsenau’s expression darkens at the mention of a curse and of killings, but quickly betrays her flattered feelings through a broad smile when Fliuch begins to describe her as a hero. Trying to be jovial Arsenau says “Don’t build that pedestal too high or I might brake an arm when I fall off of it” and immediately appears to regret the analogy. Her smile fades a bit and she takes another small swig.
After a moment she says “Anyways, if that’s your aim, I’m on board. I’ll help you find this wizard, and I’ll help you find out why these tings happened to your family, and maybe if we’re lucky the Light of the Sword will show us the safest way to those answers.”
After a breath’s pause she continues, “And as far as I’m concerned there’s no payment needed. You might be the first person I’ve met in a long while who has their head and their ass sorted out the right way ‘round, and it doesn’t seem right to take your money.” She gives another somewhat pleasant smirk and puts a hand out to shake. “Partners?”

The girl’s expression brightens even further, radiating joy at the mention of working together. “I would..” She pauses, setting her lute up against the tree, “be honoured!” With that, she scoots over and wraps her arms around Arsenau, hugging her tightly. She emits a high-pitched noise not unlike a whine.

Arsenau hesitates a moment, clearly a bit surprised by the embrace, before wrapping her arms around Fliuch in return. Her hug is perhaps a bit stronger than it needed to be, but not disastrously so.
After a moment or two she releases the embrace and still with a smirk on her face says “So you want to learn a song in orcish? I am an awful singer, but I think I know one you’d like. It’s all about making the best of things…”

Fliuch scuttles into a kneel, collecting her lute and re-tuning it. She keeps a wide grin on her face, and nods excitedly. “I would love that! Please, do go on..”

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Conversation between Elizerra and Fliuch (Highwaymen Campsite)
18 Sarenith 4715

our scene is the highwaymens’ camp. the current quest is over, everything is resolved, and the group is recovering from the last major encounter, preparing to head back to Riverton. We start with some lost script in which Elizerra asks about Fliuch’s quest, Fliuch gives minor detail, and Elizerra pursues it. Eventually Elizerra picks up on the case of her wanting some privacy, and softens her questions, letting them fall.

(spoken words are in Varisan)

The girl tightens her lips, and plucks at her lute idly as she speaks. “Nevermind? If that’s what you’d prefer.” She looks up at her companion and smiles. “Thanks, though. Most people are really caught up with their own problems, and don’t listen much.”

Elly blushes harder. ‘I mean–’ She finishes in Draconic, all soft fricatives and quick throaty pops and whispered vowels. She sighs.
’I try.’
’What was life like before?’

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that.” Fliuch remarks as she pauses in playing. “And, before? You mean, when I lived with my family?”

‘Yes ma’am, if it’s not prying’

“Certainly not.” The girl’s demeanour softens, and she again takes on a smile. “It was.. Very comfortable. I lived with my clan, which is quite large indeed. We own land and a keep, in which we stay, and we were usually very close.” She picks up playing notes again as she recounts. “We worked the land and kept animals,” she says, muttering ’mostly sheep’ to the side, “and traded with the nearby cities and towns.”

The city girl gets a sort of wistful half-smile. Her shoulders relax, but slowly. ’Sounds idyllic.’

“Sort of, I guess.” Fliuch replies, shrugging and smiling sideways. “It was a lot of work most of the time. There was a lot to do, keeping everything running and everyone fed, and a lot of training for combat, since we were so close to the Land of the Linnorm Kings’ border. We dealt with a lot of reavers and less-than-kind travelers, y’see.” She leans back against a log and makes strong eye contact with Elizerra. “But.. What was your life like, if you don’t mind?”

’I used to look out over the Jeggare and wonder what it was like out there with all the green.’ Her smile flattens. ’Then some redshirt would hit me cross the head with a spear-butt and I’d have to find somewhere less open to avoid the other children. Mother’s home remedies stopped keeping up with the rent and “insurance”. I went to work for some pointy-eared slumlord when I was fifteen.’

Fliuch’s smile tightens empathically. “That’s.. Hard.” She breathes out slowly, gently putting a hand on the woman’s arm. She smiles reassuringly. “At least it’s passed. Right?”

Elly puts her hand over the one on her arm. She closes her eyes and breathes. A moment passes and she looks at the bard next to her. ’Yes and no. Korvosa’s far away, but Cheliax is everywhere, and technically I’m wanted by the Sable knights.’

Fliuch smiles brightly. “It’ll be okay. You’re really strong and able-” She pauses, cutting herself off, and tweaks Elizerra’s arm reassuringly. “If you were going to.. Ah, stay with Arsenau and me, I think we could travel through these lands safely.” She considers for a moment, and again smiles. “As long as you aren’t wanted for something.. Actually bad? But you don’t seem bad.”

’You’re very nice to say so, but everyone’s a mix, I think, and I’ve certainly done a lot to muddy the waters’

“I know. Nobody’s really just one or the other.” Fliuch straightens up her back and, withdrawing her hand, plays a sweet melody on her lute. “That’s why I try to not kill people, y’know?” She bites her lip, switching key and going on. “Not that I’m telling you what to do.. Sorry.”

Elizerra watches fingers dance over the fretboard. ’I don’t think I can apologise honestly, Ms Flamespear. Not for killing him. He understood the risks when he got involved in highway robbery, and he paid for it.’
’Wait–is that a dirge?’

“Oh, I’m.-” Fliuch pauses in her playing, and strikes one cheerful chord before setting the instrument aside. “I’m sorry, I play it with what I’m feeling when I’m not thinking about it.” She breathes another sigh, and smiles brightly. “I know what you mean. We’re from different backgrounds, and you had to hurt people a lot more than I did. I’m more or less still a child.” She shrugs, watching the fire. “I’d just hate to be responsible for someone’s death when they’re.. Someone’s family? Someone’s spouse even, maybe. I wouldn’t want to die just because I made a bad choice and tried to steal things. Y’know what I mean, ’Zerra?”

’It’s not just one choice, Fliuch, it’s a whole string of them. Eventually someone gives you what you’ve been paying for.’

The girl tightens her lips and nods, looking back at Elizerra. “I know. I know what you mean.” She shrugs. “I might just not have it in me to actually kill someone. It would bother me too much.” She makes eye contact again and, picking up her instrument, smiles wistfully. “You’re strong. Y’know that?”

Elizerra meets the smaller woman’s gaze. ’Am I? Doesn’t feel that way. Do you?’

Fliuch shrugs again, pulling up a knee. “I, I dunno.” She looks back at her companion, her expression falling. “This whole expedition’s been a lot. There’s a lot to do, even besides what we’re already doing. I get lost a lot.” She says quietly, again making eye contact. Her tone waxes melancholy. “Don’t you?”

’Sometimes. Some of the greybeards in the taverns used to say that you never actually go home; home changes, and you bring change back.’ Ely gives a small smile she hopes says ’helpful’. ’Then they say something pithy about making everywhere home so you’re never lost.’

“Yeah, things change.” Fliuch loosens and re-knots the tie on her skirts. “It seems like some people are better able to deal with it, though.”

’I mean, I’ve had more practice.’ Elizerra giggles. It’s a weird, choked sort of chortle . ’I got out three months ago, give or take.’

“You’ve only been traveling for that long?” Fliuch remarks, smiling. “That’s amazing. Things must’ve been so tough. I’ve been on the roads for about a month now, and it’s already really big.”

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Conversation between Fliuch and Rufus (Highwaymen Campsite)
17 Sarenith 4715

our scene is a crackling bonfire near a tent. this is the first night spent at the highwaymens’ camp. several logs and small crates surround the firepit, while a battered, emaciated tiger lies mournfully in a nearby cage. the other party members are resting, or preparing to do so. Fliuch and Rufus are seated at the fire.

The girl crosses her legs and smiles widely at Rufus, before turning her gaze to the crackling bonfire. She pulls at the strings of her mediocre lute, tuning and re-tuning them idly. She speaks queitly. “Thank you for coming with us.” Turning her eyes to the man’s, she continues. “I don’t think we’d be doing so well if you hadn’t. You saved Arsenau’s life!”

“Well, I don’t think she would have been happy with me letting someone die like that.” Rufus glances over at the tiger who is still unconscious from it’s wounds

“I guess this must be what mice feel like…

“Mice.. The tiger?” Fliuch asks, turning to glance at it. She looks back to Rufus, frowning. “I guess you’re right.”

Fliuch shifts uneasily, taking up playing a cheery tune. “Do you.. Like music?” she asks after a moment. “Or, stories? I know many!”

“I’m not a big singer myself, but I’ve got some funny stories I guess.”

“In the town where I grew up there used to be a house of hospitality, called "The Delightful Den.” it was a big place, glass windows all red and white and had a giant stained glass rose window that looked into the foyer – it was a pretty classy place you know?“

Fliuch’s smile returns, widening at the description. She nods, playing several illustrative chords as Rufus speaks.

“So anyway there was a guy who worked there, a tall hellspawn fellow by the name of Theodofus. Red scalely skin and a tail, little horn nubs, the whole bit. Now he made most of his money getting whipped and beaten down – it was a special treat to get to show a devil who was boss.”

“But the real reason he was still employed at the den was because the local adjudicator, a ruddy chubby cleric of the first lord below, had a thing for surrendering himself to the powers of hell if you get what I mean.”

The girl interjects, “Oh, Desna, wow. He let people hurt him for money..?”

“Well, yeah. I mean there are plenty of people who would let you do it for free.”

“But you know, never give something away if you can get paid for it.”

“anyway so it’s been a really long day for Theodofus, and then the matron comes in and tells him that his special patron is coming.”

“Well, theo isn’t really feeling up to the task you know? And while no one wants to upset calistria, she doesn’t do alot to keep your head on your shoulders or your wrists out of irons. So he hurries out and runs to an alchemist to buy something for his prediciment.

She mixes him a magical oil, says to use it as a lubricant and that it will be sure to make anything hard.

So he runs back to the den, ready to greet his patron.

Fliuch’s expression falters, and she avoids eye contact as the story continues. She hides an awkward smile. "O, oh,” she adds quietly. “Wow.”

“When theo gets there, the cleric is already there, strapped down to a leather hobby horse, his arse opened wide up to the sky, his asmodiean robes still around his sweaty waist”

“So they start doing what they do, Theo starts with his hands and the then a flogger and then a whip. And the cleric, that sicko is just eating it up screaming "more more, torture me, turn me into your dutiful servant…”

So eventually the cleric begs to be buggered. Cause you know that’s what he’s paying for. So theo takes out the oil and slicks it all up and what do you know, it’s working! It’s cold and tinglely but it’s working.

So he slides it in and they get at it and the cold starts to go away.

And then it starts to get warm. And Theo is just getting harder and harder, and the Cleric is moaning and screaming and just loving it. And Theo starts pulling at his hair and rending at his back and he’s sure he’s going to get a wonderful tip from this one.

“Oh, o-ok, okay!” Fliuch says shakily, messing up in a chord. “Ok. Thanksthatwas a nicestory-!”

The girl’s taken to halfway covering her ears.

Laughing. “Nah let me finish cause the ending is the best part.”

“Nothankyou that’s, I’m sorry yesok pleasejust-”

So the oil starts getting hard right? Well the alchemist in her haste, mixed up the solution. Instead of universal solvent, she added soverign glue.

So as they get really into it. They get stuck!

Fliuch’s begun emitting a high-pitched noise not unlike a whine. She’s beet red.

Rufus laughs. “…a bit sheepish I see.”
“Well it’s a funny image. Priest, hobby horse and hellspawn all glued together trying to fit through the door.”

We laughed about that one for years.

“Nnnooo no I’mfine” Fliuch blurts, pulling at her bodice and maintaining a smile as best as feasible. “I, uh. Wow. Did that.. Really happen?”

“well I don’t know all the specifics you know cause I wasn’t there, but that’s what I heard from one of the girls who used to work there at the time.”

The girl blinks, staring wide-eyed. “Wow. That’s, really different from what I was expecting.” She smiles sheepishly, studying Rufus’ face. “Are all your stories like that?”

“The ones I know are about.. Heroes, and monsters, and feyfolk, and clan stories.”

“nah not all of them, but most of the funny ones, yeah.”

“Wow.. You’ve seen a lot.” Her smile returns more genuinely, calming from the segue. “How’d you wind up in Riverton? Passing through into Galt?”

“Out of actually. I lived in Isarn for several years. I was on my way out when I heard about the famine in Dabril, and well I guess there must be something heroic in the air or something because after see you all, I just knew I couldn’t leave without doing anything.”

“You could’ve.” Fliuch smiles, picking up playing again. “But you’re a hero, too.” Her grin deepens as her tuned becomes intrepid. “I don’t think this job’s the best, just because we’re working for a slaver.. But it’ll help a lot of other people, too.”

“I don’t like dealing with the feyfolken, though. I hope we don’t run into any piscies; they’re very mischievous.”

“I don’t know much about the fey. Couldn’t honestly tell a dryad from a nixie.”

She plays a dreamy tune, adjusting her posture more comfortably. “Where I came from, all the little troubles and mistakes around the keep were because of feyfolken. Every time a strap broke, or a bucket lots its rope, or an animal got out of the locked gate, we knew it was the piscies, causing little hardships for their amusement.”

“They aren’t evil, or wicked, because they aren’t trying to hurt us. They just don’t look at people the same way as other feyfolken; they see us like we’d see bugs.”

“I guess better pixies than imps then.”

“Yes, piscies are tricky and funseeking, while imps are just.. Trouble. Anything from the lower planes is just looking to hurt.”

“With Rene, it’s best to be respectful.. And brief. If we get caught up too much with her, we could end up all turned into grouses, or sleeping for years, or forever drunken in hidden fey revels. Fae have lots of hidden powers, and can curse your smaller wants into taking your life from you.”

“You see, they don’t know when to stop.. And they don’t understand mortality. They don’t think about how we only have so many years before we’re grey and passing. Imps and the like, they DO know when to stop. Which makes them even more dangerous; they can pretend to be something else.”

“But piscies, they’re all known for their love of children.. Enough that they’d steal one away, take them to faerie, the realm of the fey.. And make them into another like themselves.” Fliuch finishes playing a song, and pauses, smiling at Rufus. “Do you have any children, Rufus?”

Her eyes narrow just a bit, and her smile becomes sly.

“Nah, I haven’t had that sort of luck in my life.”

Fliuch’s smile softens, and she nods. “I see, I see!” She scoots a little closer to him, and plucks a sweet melody. “I’m.. Glad you made it through the bandit attack. That was very frightening.”

“yeah. I didn’t really want to be a tribute to hanspur.”

“You know you’re pretty brave for such a happy puck.”

“Jumping in to save me. I’ve seen mothers do less for their children, and you did it for a vagabond you hardly knew.”

The girl’s smile widens at the deific reference, and just gets wider as Rufus speaks. She pauses in her playing to wave dismissively at his notion. “I’m just doing my part. Arsenau, Liriel, and Elizerra are the brave ones; they’re actually suffering wounds and fighting. I’m just a healer.”

he pushes her shoulder teasingly, but scoots further away as he does “Just make sure that your healing doesn’t get you killed.”

“But, you approached that bandit and engaged him in melee. You took the risk of being hurt badly. What would you have me do, stay on the raft and cry?” Fliuch’s smile stays wide and radiant at his contact, her face flushing. “I thought running over and healing you while crying would work a little better.”

Rufus chuckles dismissively at the girl’s sudden emotional attachment. “How about you work on not crying in the midst of battle. Tears are only going to spoil your aim.”

Fliuch snorts a laugh, patting at Rufus’ arm. “I’d stop it if I could. I can’t control it very well. Same with the shakes.” She studies his face. “How do you do it?”

“Habit I guess. There are scarier things in life than axes and things that are worse than death.”

The girl nods, eyes bright. “Like being imprisoned.”

at this statement, rufus seems to withdrawl in thought and memory

“yeah, prision is pretty rough.”

“Anyway, you should get some sleep. Wouldn’t want your eyes to be fighting off both tears and bags tomorrow.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you’d been. I’m sorry if that’s not a good topic.”

Fliuch smiles and shrugs. “You’re probably right. I don’t think that’d be very good at all. Thank you for staying and speaking with me, Rufus.” She packs up her lute and bag, and touches the top of his hand, before standing up. “It was a pleasure.”

as Fliuch heads to sleep, Rufus opens his rose embossed journal and begins reading and adding to his journal.

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Scribbled Note
Penned by Fliuch on a loose parchment leaf, tucked into journal

[written in Varisan]

1. make friends with new allies
2. work together, solving mutual problems
3. find the spellcaster and talk through what happened
4. bring everyone back to life (with the wizard’s help)
5. throw a truly memorable party with all new friends
6. kiss Rufus (scribbled heart)
7. IF he wants to of course
8. he doesn’t have to, that would be absurd
9. that was ridiculous let’s pretend 6 doesn’t exist I ruined this whole list ugh

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Sarenith 17
A Letter from Arsenau to Zlatica

Mother,

Sorry for not writing for so long. There hasn’t been much to say. Finding work is hard as an orc – people don’t want to trust me. And when I can’t work, looking okay good is hard, so they want to trust me less. I had a job last week lifting crates (A small ale stain blurs the page here)

I got a good job this week though. A human girl named Fluke hired me. Weird name, but she’s Varisian so maybe it’s cultural. She’s looking for information about some piece of cloth. I don’t really know what it’s all about yet, but she’s sweet and innocent and needs a sword arm to keep her safe. Plus she doubled the rate I asked for! Can’t beat that.

That’s not all though. Before we’d sorted ourselves out a really drunk southerner started telling us all about his lost shipment and the tiger that was with it and that a whole army had stolen it. I was pretty sure no army stole his stuff, but that’s what his mercenaries told him. He offered to pay us with the very amulet around his neck – looked like the last valuable thing he owned – so I couldn’t really say no. Plus Fluke wanted to do it, and I already said I’d work with her.

When he pulled the amulet out, though, another human came over. This lady was a few years older than fluke though. 25 maybe? I think Fluke might be 16 or 17. Anyways, this other lady tried to convince Azir – he’s the southerner – to keep the amulet out of sight and the four of us to talk more privately. That’s when Azir mentioned he’d been petitioning some Hellknights who were in town to hear him out and get his stuff back.

Sure enough one of the assholes fiend-lovers came to talk to him almost right then and there. Luckily (for all of us, I think) they declined to help him and all we really had to do was convince her lackey that a 25 gold “adminastratif” fee wasn’t worth the effort. In the process we met Roofus – who is amazing – and Lyriel – who I’m kind of uncertain about. Roofus is a human and Lyriel looks elven.

Anyways, the five of us decided to work together to get Azir’s things back – and agreed that none of the people responsible were going to be sold into slavery despite how profitable he insisted it could be. We also agreed that afterward we’d help Roofas solve some problem he was really vague about. Some town has a problem, he wants help solving it… Well I figured if he’s that vague about it he can’t really hold me to doing anything unjust, so I said sure.

(A couple of sentences have been obscured by an ale stain…) after which we finally got moving down the river. We got attacked by the bandits that had ambushed Azir’s people. Magic fog. Magic army. I didn’t see it at first, but Elazera – that’s the other human woman, magus maybe? – and Lyriel – she’s a half elf – seemed to realize it and clued me in. It was a tough fight, and Roofus was pretty badly wounded. He has some amazing powers though. At one moment he ran through the water as if it wasn’t even there! Not to mention he revealed that he is some kind of cleric. He wears a holy symbol, but I don’t recognize it. I think it’s a pretty minor god. Later he mentioned the accidental god, but I don’t think that’s the one he has the symbol for.

The bandit leader escaped, so we revived one of the other bandits to take us to their camp. We promised he’d go free after that, and he did. On our way we met a crazy gnome. She made me feel uneasy in more ways than one. She was mutilating a small animal when we met her, mentioned that she wanted to capture a live pixie in a jar, and just wouldn’t stop moving. It reminded me of the way you used to strafe when you were teaching me to keep my shield up, making sure I couldn’t tell where the next attack would come from.

Eventually she left, just leaving some of her stuff as some kind of bribe for us to convince us to help her capture the pixie. We took the stuff and proceeded to the bandit camp. That’s where we found the tiger. It was hungry. It was angry. It was deadly. I think the Inheritor herself must have intervened to save me, because I felt the tiger’s teeth in my neck and claws in my gut, but somehow I did not die. This is when Rufus continue to prove his usefulness as he healed me thoroughly, even using a wand to make sure I was ready to fight again if needed. I probably owe him my life once or twice over now.

We subdued the tiger. We thought Azir would be happy to get it back. We ransacked the camp and looked for tracks, but couldn’t figure out where the bandit leader went. But then the gnome showed up. She said the pixie she was looking for was with the bandit leader, that there was also an ogre with them, and that she would show us how to get there if we helped her capture the pixie. She also still wouldn’t stop moving. She also mutilated another animal apparently trying to make sure she was right about where the pixie was. I don’t know if she was doing magic of if she is just crazy, but she’s crazy either way. With no other choice I let the others pretend they were going to help her so we could find out where this bandit went.

(Yet another ale stain covers part of the page here, obscuring an entire paragraph)

Finally we got to the place, top of a cliff with the enemies at the bottom in a cave. Elzra seemed more like she might help the gnome. Fluke and me finally convinced the gnome that there’d be no tearing the pixie’s wings off. I quietly decided if it was really so mean and evil I’d try to give it a sparing death.

We went down and the ogre was waiting for us. I guess it heard us arguing. It wasn’t too hard to kill though, but Lyral got hurt. When we went further in we found the bandit leader – she was a sorcerer or something and she burned us a lot. Over and over again. And she had invisible magic armor. I tried to call down the wrath of Iomedae on her, but even then my blows hit her invisible armor. I’ve never been so angry. She finally fell, and I at least killed the pixie. I wanted to kill the gnome too, but I think I would have lost that fight very quickly.

We ended up dragging the tiger back to Azir, and handing over the bandit woman to the local town council for judgement. Tomorrow or the next day we leave to help Rufus with his famine and poverty problem. I don’t know how much I can help, but feeding people sounds a lot better to me than returning cargo to a slaver and fighting alongside an evil fairy-gnome. I should probably say some prayers of atonement, even if i did stop her from enslaving that pixy.

All of the others have agreed to continue with Rufus. I’m not sure I trust Elzra – she seems too selfish to trust. and Lyrial seemed okay with handing over the bandit to hellknights, so I don’t know I trust her eaither. But I think Roofus is a good guy. I’m going to talk to him some more about his god and see if I can get to know him better. As for Fluke, she’s adoreable. I don’t think I’d trust her to fend off an armed child in combat – but she might be able to talk a fiend into liking her. Plus she likes singing and playing the lute, which is a nice distraction. I think if the thing with Roofus turns sour I’ll stick with Fluke for a while – maybe we can do some good together.

My candle’s almost dead, my ink’s almost gone, and my quill is starting to frey, so I guess that’s all for now. I don’t know where you can write to reach me, but rmember I still love you. I wear your locket even when I’m sleeping.

With Love from your Doghter,
– Arsenau

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First Adventure Summary pt II
from Fliuch's perspective

Day II, at the Highwaymen’s Camp

We woke before the sun came up, made sure the (now-caged) tiger was okay, and ate some of the hardtack the bandits kept. We sorted through the goods we’d found, and there was a particularly interesting historical book. It had an evil aura according to Arsenau (whom I hadn’t known was a paladin, no wonder she’s so strong!), and a magical aura, according to my spell detection. It seems odd that someone would enchant a history book with much of anything; I’m more interested in the text. We decided to keep it for later study, rather than destroying it, thank Desna.

Our fey friend reappeared, and we were more properly introduced. Rene Willatanka. We spoke with her, and she claimed to know where to go to find the sorceress we sought. Arsenau and I discussed the issues with her intent to capture the pixie and apparently tear off her wings. We settled to settle it later and went along with her.

We traveled down fairy trails, and though we seemed to go in a circle several times, we got to the crevice with the cave we sought (which was absolutely certainly fairy magic). We were told there was an ogre, a pixie, and the sorceress whom we were seeking inside, and found this to be a good time to discuss how to approach Rene’s overeager want to mutilate the pixie.

We talked about the morality of it, and everyone eventually saw it my way (or got tired of disputing it, which is more likely)! Rene agreed to not tear the fairy’s wings off, since she only needed her dust in the first place. She still seemed intent on capturing the fairy, but we settled to settle it later.

I’d never seen an ogre before. They’re huge, and are more or less very lumpy humans. We outnumbered it (was it an it? it didn’t seem much like a person), and won the fight quickly. Rufus (scribbled heart) helped a lot with a magic healing wand. I hope I can find one when we get back to a town!

I’d like to note that fighting people (and tigers, and ogres) for real is a lot different from targeting and melee practise, and it’s different from friendly brawls. They move around, and they want to hurt you, and you can’t stop shaking. How do the others do it?

Further in the cave, we found the sorceress and her pixie friend (though the pixie was invisible at first). Rene ran headlong into the room swinging a bug-catching net, and the rest of us fought with the sorceress. I’d never been ensorcelled before, and it wasn’t exactly unpleasant. Just a dreamy, kind of empty-headed floating feeling. It interrupted the song I was singing for my friends, but they were probably doing okay without it.

They beat the bandit leader, and Rene caught the pixie, though she got out and was killed. Not before Elizerra cast a spell on us, though. It was like every colour you could imagine, all sinking into your eyes and ears and face at once, like I could taste them. It was like being very drunk, but with too much colour and too many voices all speaking at once. It’s good Rufus (scribbled heart) was there to stop it, or I would’ve been like that for a lot longer.

I know she was only trying to stop the pixie, but I hope that never happens again. I’ll have to bring it up once I can, but I don’t know if I can really talk to her like that yet.

My traveling companions are all veterans and professionals. I feel so lost. Like I’m their little sister, tagging along and getting in the way.

It doesn’t really matter, though.

When we were all finished with picking over the cave lair and had found everything for our employer (and Rene had gotten her pixie dust), we discussed what to do with the sorceress. The others seemed to settle on leaving her behind, but that wouldn’t have felt right? It was a cave in an obviously dangerous area. It doesn’t seem right to leave someone to be eaten by a passing wolf or something just because they made some bad choices and wound up wanting to kill you.

Liriel seemed intent on turning her in to the Chelaxian authorities in town, but that would’ve just ended in her being tortured, or mistreated, or just killed horribly. We settled to settle it later. I picked her up (she was a lot heavier than she looked) and took her back to the camp, where we’re staying now. The tiger’s fine (and Rene even brought something to feed it with!), and everyone is just exhausted. We didn’t travel as much today, but making it through all those fights was draining.

At least it’s over for now! No more fights, and we’re about to return to Azir to finish up our business. He’ll be so pleased that we safely returned his tiger, I can’t wait to see his face!

[end of entry two]

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First Adventure Summary
from Fliuch's perspective

((Notes scrawled by Fliuch Flamespear))

Day I, the town bordering Galt:

Arriving in Riverton was uneventful, and all the people I saw were either busy or hurrying, save for those in a shady, tented area. It more or less served as a big public inn run by the council of the place. The rates were low, though much higher than the quality of comfort that the dirt floors and lack of drink afforded.

I entertained for a few hours and made several new friends who helped me to cover my stay. One new acquaintance turned out to be a mercenary for hire, and offered to help me in my travels deeper into Galt, for a small daily fee. She’s dressed in heavier armour and is skilled in combat (and VERY tall). More importantly, she has a good heart, always speaking her will when she feels something is amiss or amoral, though she otherwise keeps to herself. Her name is Arsenau, and I’m pleased to be working with her!

A man overheard us discussing the details of our arrangement, and claimed that he needed help. We listened to his story, and he turned out to be a merchant prince (It isn’t the same as traditional royalty, but a symbol of high status and skill in trading) named Asir Zek Romad! He recounted to us that his goods had been stolen by an army of highwaymen (he was very drunk, and may have been exaggerating), and that he would hire any who would help to track his belongings and bring back a token and a ledger.

Three more travelers and several hell knights (euch!) approached, each interested in Asir’s story. We discussed it, and the hell knights informed us that there wasn’t an army. Though I was hesitant to help a slaver, we negotiated such that Arsenau and I would work with the three others. We wouldn’t be killing anyone unless it was absolutely necessary, and we wouldn’t be imprisoning anyone for the man’s trade.

One of the three who joined is a man named Rufus, a follower of Milani! I think that he only at first intended to make sure the hell knights wouldn’t harm the man, but he agreed to help us for a portion of the pay and the chance to help the people who used the roads for travel. He’s somewhat older, but very handsome, in a dashing, self-assured way. :)

Another of the three is a woman named Elizerra. She’s Varisian, like me, but from a region further southeast. She seems more interested in the pay that the moral side of it, but she doesn’t come across as bad, and she’s a strong fighter. She casts spells as well!

The last working accomplice joined in interest of being certain we’d finish the job for the merchant. Her name is Liriel, but I don’t know much more about her! She doesn’t talk much, and doesn’t wear any armour or use any weapons. She fights with her fists,

We agreed to set out quickly, our destination down the river a ways on a raft. We eventually came to a fork in the road, which was lined with three dozen people, at least! The leader, a spellcaster of a sort, demanded that we drop our belongings and swim for our lives. It was terrifying, to say the least. I pretended that it wasn’t (which was tricky through all the shaking), and that Arsenau was a powerful warlord, who could easily fight that many people.

They didn’t buy it.

Though, Liriel and Elizerra saw through what was apparently an illusion, and revealed that only a handful of the highwaymen were real! We did battle with them, and Rufus was grievously injured. We managed victory without losing anyone, though one of the bandits fell in the river and didn’t survive, and the caster who was leading them fled

We revived one of the highwaymen and convinced him to lead us to his camp. On our path we happened upon a fey-descended woman, who was mutilating a hare. She seemed utterly mad and dangerous (as many fey may be, forgive my saying so), and gradually conveyed that she was hunting a pixie, intending to capture her. She decided that we would help, and left a pile of possessions for us. The entire encounter was inexplicable and unsettling, which may well be the usual when dealing with real fey.

We continued with our bandit friend to the camp, where we were ambushed by a tiger! It leapt from the bushes and, mad with hunger, attacked us with everything it had. We fought the tiger until it collapsed, and helped it back into its cage. I’m surprised Arsenau could stand after its savaging; she was totally covered in her own blood.

She’s incredible.

After messily looting the goods at the camp, we rested before continuing. We took shifts to watch for any trouble. I’m writing this entry between watching the dark. It makes me wish I could see like an elf.

[end of entry one]

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Pure Bedlam
From the journal of Sister Liriel Exubitor

7 Sarenith 4715

I am finally leaving the monastery! I have started a new journal in recognition of this momentous occasion. All of the training I have endured these past two decades is nothing compared to the task that lies before me. I am going to Galt, a land wracked by civil war. Justice shall be my master, Law my guide, Punishment my tool. There will not be so much as a pickpocket when I am through!

13 Sarenith 4715

My first week out of the monastery has been rather uneventful. The rumors of widespread anarchy in Galt appear to have been largely exaggerated. Still, I have made an oath, and I will keep to it. Many of the townsfolk I met seemed resentful of my presence. I suspect they have grown soft because of the lack of proper order. I am coming upon another such town tomorrow, called Riverton. I have made up my mind to mete out Law in this place whether the inhabitants like it or not.

14 Sarenith 4715

A most fortuitous happening! It happens that a force of Hellknights is passing through Riverton. While this would normally not be cause for celebration, as the feckless brutes are more prolific than rats, it did allow me to come across a situation requiring my unique talents. A drunken trader named Azir accosted the leader of the troops, after which she passed down Judgement! I could not believe my eyes! Is Galt so lawless that enforcers now fancy themselves arbiters?

Nevertheless, Azir’s claims of a large band of brigands seemed legitimate, and his pleas for the return of his stolen goods did not fall on deaf ears. I have allied myself with the band of mercenaries he has hired to retrieve his goods. Those goods being: one(1) tiger, one(1) book of shipping manifests, and one(1) heirloom tassel from a family tapestry.

My companions are a motley bunch. There is Arsenau, a paladin of some sort, though without the vigor I have heard in such folk. Perhaps Galt has worn down her resolve… Then there is Elizerra. She is a magus, and that is all that I know of her. She is as silent as myself when it comes to divulging personal information. We are also joined by Rufus, who is only venturing with us to secure our assistance with his own quest. He appears to competent enough, though something seems… off… about him. I can smell deception from a mile away, and he reeks of it. The group is rounded out by Fliuch, who seems to be the only one not hiding anything. The girl is entirely honest, a refreshing trait in this land. She is searching for someone who it seems has wronged her family. Perhaps I will learn more later…

17 Sarenith 4715

Today has been quite unsatisfying. As we were traveling up the river, we were accosted by a large force of bandits. I immediately recognized the majority as illusions, and ordered the true bandits to lay down their arms and face Judgement. They refused, and were quickly put down. The leader escaped during the battle, with any luck we will find both her and the stolen goods in the same place. The others insisted on letting the remaining bandits go free. Though it raised my hackles, I was outnumbered and outvoted. We left one by the river and made the other show us to his camp, promising him his freedom afterwards.

While traveling through the forest, we met a mad gnome named Rene. She babbled something about pixies and their friends before running off into the trees. I was immediately annoyed.

Once we reached the camp, we found it abandoned, or so we thought. It turns out there was still one occupant, Azir’s tiger. The beast was vicious and half-starved. After a brief struggle, we managed to knock it unconscious and return it to its cage. Upon searching the camp, we found evidence that the bandit leader had returned before moving on. I suspect she released the tiger in order to impede our progress.

To bring my disappointment to full fruition, Rene reappeared. She began talking again. Eventually we worked out that she knew where the bandit had gone, and could lead us there. We are preparing to rest at the bandit camp, and will set out in the morning.

18 Sarenith 4715

I feel awful. First we had to follow Rene through the forest, and I’m certain we went round in circles at least three times before reaching the cave where the bandit was hiding. Then my companions stood above the cave and had a loud debate with Rene about whether or not to rip a pixie’s wings off. Finally we enter the cave only to find an ogre waiting for us. Honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t a dragon, the way this day went. We slew the beast and ventured deeper into the cave, which is where everything went to shit.

The bandit leader, who it turns out was a sorceress, had us trapped in a narrow corridor. I managed to get inside the cavern to attack her, but she had magical protections set on her person, and I could not touch her. Then Rene “joined the battle”, which is to say she pulled out a butterfly net and attempted to catch a pixie. The rest of the fight is a bit of a blur. I blacked out several times, though I distinctly recall Rufus setting the pixie free from Rene.

Afterwards, we carried the bandit leader back to her camp to rest. After stating my intention to bring her to the Hellknights so she could be brought to the Citadel for Judgement, my companions became agitated. They preferred she go free, or at least be handed over to local authorities. I am confused by their reluctance to trust in the Judgement of Cheliax, but as long as the bandit answers for her crimes, I do not care how or where sentence is handed down.

I have resolved myself to train even more, to become strong enough to pierce magical wards and quick enough to evade magic spells. My training did not prepare me for this. I will write a letter to Mother Edele, imploring her to add more magical opponents to the curriculum.

21 Sarenith 4715

The past three days have been long and tedious. Rene has disappeared once more, a blessing to be sure, but instead we have to deal with Azir’s tiger. After returning to Riverton, we handed the bandit over to the council, as there is no garrison. The representative we spoke to seemed exceedingly untrustworthy. Azir was overjoyed to have his items returned to him. He provided information to Fliuch about the person she seeks. It seems her next destination lies at the College of Edme.

Rufus has also divulged to us the nature of his quest. He is journeying to a neighboring village to help stop a famine. As per our previous agreement, we will be assisting him. But first, I must rest…

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