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#14199073 Aug 25, 2019 at 11:52 AM · Edited 3 months ago
30 Posts
((Hello! These are the new contemporary campaign chronicles. I will attach a brief key which may not immediately make sense:

Chapter Headings like this are 'OOC chapter headings', meaning they're invented by me, Face, rather than taken from Rosten's journal or the treasure-hunter's translation.

Normal writing like this = text taken directly from Rosten's journal (with the code broken and spelling mistakes amended) Anything emphasised by Rosten will be underlined

Bold like this = descriptions of the treasure-hunter's actions as though he were a character in a novel

Italics like this = text written by the treasure-hunter rather than Rosten

A key like this may be overcomplicating things somewhat, hopefully it'll all be clear just from reading the thread.

Please read and enjoy! Feel free to comment in an OOC capacity using the traditional (( ))

))
#14199079 Aug 25, 2019 at 11:58 AM · Edited 4 months ago
30 Posts
The Treasure-Hunter’s Lament



The man was old and large. His quill seemed incredibly small and delicate compared to the massive hand that wrote with it and perhaps this is why the writing he scratched onto the rolls of blank parchment in front of him was so small. His fingers had the same knotty, gnarled quality of old wood. His rheumy eyes gazed down, squinting, as he wrote.

They all thought me a fool! Every one of them from Marina to the other scholars. Sod the marriage, sod the College, sod it all! I won’t be ending my life as a retired treasure-hunter with no bloody treasure to show for it, scraping by as a gods-damned librarian. Well, no more! Gods damn the lot of them, I have it! It is mine!

The treasure-hunter’s gaze flitted briefly to the ancient journal. His nonwriting hand, the fingers as calloused and knotty as old wood, lay atop of it protectively as if the same good fortune that had delivered the journal to him would suddenly snatch it away. His gaze returned to the blank parchment in front of him and he continued to write.

There are problems, though. The journal is written in some kind of code. The writer, this Rosten Foregallow, must have been wary of it being read by an unintended audience. He had good reason given the long and bloody history of throat-cutting attached to both the journal and the map! But this little pirate’s paranoia did not match his skill with ciphers. The code seems to change every chapter or so without any rhyme or reason. Occasionally it even changes from sentence to sentence and even from word to word. From the slant and wobble in the writing I would estimate that the author was often inebriated while writing. I strongly suspect two things: firstly, that this pirate was, unsurprisingly, barely literate to begin with. Secondly, his psychological state and constant inebriation did not lend themselves to accurate record-keeping or a consistent code. These two factors combine to create a constantly-shifting and nearly incomprehensible code. Almost impossible to translate. Additionally, and most egregiously, there are many stains on the pages – blood, vomit, drink and the gods know what other liquids. These stains and the ruins of time have destroyed much of the text. In several instances vital words are rendered illegible. Entire pages and passages have been destroyed. It looks like entire chapters may have been ripped out entirely.

In short, it will be a slow and difficult task to translate the journal into Common. Entire passages and words may be lost entirely. But such is the work of a treasure-hunter. The map, at least, is intact.


The old treasure-hunter’s eyes shifted to gaze at the map. It was laid out over the desk, a little to the right of the journal. His expression was almost pained as he scanned over the map mistrustfully. The trickery of the black lines. The red writing like blood down the side. He pursed his lips.

For now the less said about the map the better. I trust that the journal will unlock its secrets. I will not drive myself to madness trying to wrap my mind around it until this Foregallow has given up his secrets. And give them up he will.

Nodding to himself, the old treasure-hunter pulled the journal closer towards him and began transcribing.
#14199082 Aug 25, 2019 at 12:04 PM
30 Posts
The Tattoo in the Tavern



By all the hells and high seas, they are here! As sure as my rotten soul be damned and as sure as the depths are cold and dark, they are in Marsember!!

I was drinking, of course, in some tavern. I keep no favourites amongst the drinking-holes here, mind, got to keep switching every week so as to stay invisible. And invisible I was – it were a crowded inn, dark and smokey. Just like how I likes a drink. Up a corner in so much shadow and so small so that no eyes can be watching me. Had a drink in my hand and a pipe in my mouth. Smoke and rum washing it all away. Fire and water, aye, to burn and cleanse whatever be left of me.

But then I saw it.

Crowd parted like it were cursed with magick and I saw it. By all the gods, as clear as I see my own mark here before me on my own arm, I saw it through the crowd. It were inked on the back of a hand. Hand were raising a tankard, of course, so I only seen it for a second afore the crowd swallowed it back up. But I seen it alright. Felt my eyes widen and my mouth open and my pipe drop down. Must have gone paler than a sheet. And then I was up and moving, legs working slow like I was in a dream and then fast, very fast, soon as I was out of the tavern and running. Ran all the way to the other side of Marsember. As far away as my legs could carry me from that cursed tattoo.

Din't see which one of....

The treasure-hunter frowned slightly, the quill pausing, before continuing to write.

The code changes here. I strongly suspect that the code-change was unintentional and brought on by the author’s own inattention to his writing. The change in code renders the rest of the passage impossible to transcribe for now. I shall return to it, though. If this passage details what drove Foregallow to Westgate then it must be crucial to unlocking the history of the writer and therefore the history of the map. Perhaps it will even hint at the history of the map’s creator.




#14199086 Aug 25, 2019 at 12:16 PM · Edited 4 months ago
30 Posts
Coin is Coin



A few un-translatable pages later....

…co offered. Told him I’d prefer good honest work like enforcing over this sneaking and double-dealing. But he said this was to be my job and it don’t be like I can turn down coin. Least no-ways till I can get me a ship and a crew.

Headed to the Black Boot, as ordered. The name fits. As low and base a drinking-hole as any I’ve set foot in. Westgate is fouler than most of the ports I’ve been in and I’ve been in some of the worst. ‘Leastways the flophouses of the Pirate Isles are honest in their foulness.

Found the elf, Lomilith, and settled in to protect him for the night. He seemed a cowardly swab but something didn’t make sense. Still doesn’t make sense. How does a coward find himself mixed up with vampires and (- whatever words were written here have been lost courtesy of a splash of something. Presumably a particularly strong alcohol. Doesn't look deliberate, but the specific placement...) ...but I ain’t getting paid to think.

The treasure-hunter sighed, flipping a few more pages of the journal.


Several torn pages also. Continuing on:

…them. They are:

Dermot Kenner – a true man o’ the wilds. A skilled and capable ranger, aye, but the city don’t seem to have made him softer. I suppose there be just as many predators in these alleys as in the forests or hills or wherever he learned his trade. Seems to be the closest thing these Shadows have to a leader – not official-like, but from what I seen I wager he’s the one that keeps them bound together and does the talking with ‘clients.’

Darrow Ironhelm – met a few dwarves in my time but ain’t found one more dwarf-y than this Darrow. Be a mean-drinking, hard-living old sort by my reckoning. Seen what his axe can do in the sewers and I don’t intend to ever be on the receiving end of it. Don’t seem to do much in the way of thinking or speaking but you never know with dwarves.

Aerikoth – a strange one. Seems a little short for a human and can’t place his accent but he’s a master mage, so I’m told. Ain’t dealt with a master mage before. He spends as much time away from the group as he does with it, likely working on his magicks and some such. Or maybe he’s got business interests in the city. Either way he’s got a coldness to him, aye, like frost behind his eyes. Like he made hisself out of pure will. Every action calculated-like. One to watch, aye, just as I was told.

Njord Vindastig – a wandering dwarf-priest. Ain’t like any priest I’ve ever known, though. Never met a priest so full of curses and jokes about whorehouses. I’d wager gold that he don’t be right in the head. Carried news from the Ironhelm Hold. Sounds to be some kind of political infighting. Well, we’ve vampires to be dealing with first – ‘parasitic undead’, the mage calls them.

Fearsome bunch, aye, but mercenaries always are. Don’t be the worst job I’ve worked but it certainly don’t be the best neither. Coin is coin and a ship is a ship. Eyes on the prize, Rosty, like a true gentleman of fortune.


#14227278 Oct 13, 2019 at 11:43 AM · Edited 3 months ago
30 Posts
Visiting Temples



First day with the Shadows were an easy one. Nothing but meetings. We visited grander temples than I’ve ever done seen in all my years. No clue why any swab would want to be build a temple in a pit like Westgate, mind, but I spose they got to ply their trade where they can like everyone else.

Met Thessar the Warrior too, some old venturer that they’ve known for a while. Seems my work with the elf, Lomilith, and the fight with the vampire be part of something bigger. The Shadows have been moving into a fight with them for a while now, and Thessar be putting together a plan. Like anything involving the Masks, though, it be a complicated arrangement.

We met a man at a fancy whorehouse who spoke for the ‘Lord of the Crypt.’ This be the ancient vampire (can hardly believe I’m going from kicking debtors’ heads in and burning down taverns to ‘ancient vampires’, but coin is coin, so I say). He set the score straight. The creature who be at the head of the Masks be a vamp, but a younger up-and-comer. Got his hands on some ancient treasures that set him up high, like. Got his eyes on a plan that’ll set him up higher, too. Won’t pretend I understand all of it, but seems he’s not planning on the usual ‘live in secret’ approach that vampires be known for. He wants all us bleeders living like cattle, waiting for the knife. Walking, talking bags of blood for them. Gives me the shivers just to write about it.

Turns out not all the Masks be thinking like him though, there’s enough of them left that don’t want it that way. And they’ve got themselves a leader, aye, the Vulture, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that…

The treasurehunter sighed and rubbed his face for a moment, exasperated.

A torn page, of course. I am beginning to think that these omissions are deliberate.
#14227281 Oct 13, 2019 at 11:47 AM · Edited 3 months ago
30 Posts
Walk with a Wizard



A strange evening. Afore we had ourselves this big meet, there were a little job for the wizard and me.

Nothing major, and no coin. Escorting a child back to her parents from Thessar’s. She had nearly been sacrificed to the vampires by her brother, the poor waif. I ain’t given to much sentiment, aye, ain’t much room for that in my line of work, but that don’t mean I’ve got no heart. Glad to do a good thing once in a while, if’n I can afford the price. So me and the wizard took her back to her ma and pa. We must have made a striking couple of walkers for the child, a pirate and a wizard. Though I spose when you’re that young everything seems like it’s straight out of a storybook anyhow, aye, mages and pirates probably be the natural-est thing in the word to her.

That weren’t the strange part, though, the strange part were the wizard. He’s as I wrote – cold. One of those men that’s all mind and no body. We had a better chat than I’d been expecting though, and that’s what was strange. Never thought I’d get along with some genius mage that could probably magick me to a frog if he fancied.

I was mostly telling him what I’d heard about this ‘Blais House’ from Jandrico. An establishment of ill-repute, so they say, where men once entered and never came out. Shivered my timbers just to look at the place, aye, and if there’s one thing I know it’s that there always be coin in the shivering of timbers.

Told the wizard as much and I made no bones about it – told him I’d be fixing to knock the place over, if I had the time and the muscle. And he didn’t bat an eyelid! Said some of the others might care but that he’d stay out of my business long as I stayed out of his. And there was something about the way he said it…

There just be something off about him. Can’t put my finger on it. A man that soft-spoken and fancy-talking got no cause being that hard and cold.
#14227283 Oct 13, 2019 at 11:53 AM · Edited 3 months ago
30 Posts
"Sea-dogs? ...sea-dogs!"



Visited Dodifar, the gnome map-maker. Got his name from J…. (another damnable stain, of course, obscuring this vital information. My suspicion grows that this journal has been tampered with.) Got the gnome working on a copy of what the map be showing. Not an exact copy, mind, but proper sailing charts, good enough for a navigator to use. Had to put the fear in him, of course, lest he think he can go around talking about the map. It’s for his own good though, mind. If he breathed a word of the map to anyone in Westgate, this city of loose lips and back-alleys, they’d find him. And then they’d find me.

It’s all coming together. Just need to get this last job done. Just need to hold on and keep myself together for a few more months. The ship and the crew are promised to me. Aye, if I can deliver them what they want then they'll deliver me a ship and a band of sea-dogs in exchange.

The treasurehunter’s eyes widened and he dropped the quill. He rubbed his thumb over the last word on the page, his mouth dropping open.

“Sea-dogs? …sea-dogs! And if that’s a ‘d’ and that’s a ‘-’ then that means…”

Hurriedly he flipped back through the previous pages, until he reached the passage where Rosten described leaving Marsember. He placed his finger upon a specific word.

“Sea-dogs! SEA-DOGS! And that means…”

He snatched the quill back into his hands, and swiftly transcribed the coded passage that he had not managed to break.
#14227291 Oct 13, 2019 at 12:03 PM · Edited 3 months ago
30 Posts
(((OOC: Just to make absolutely clear, this newly-translated passage follows directly from 'The Tattoo in the Tavern' a few posts above)))

The Tattoo in the Tavern Part II




Din’t see which one of those black-hearted merciless sea-dogs the tattoo belonged to but as soon as I was in fresh air my mind were racing. Names and faces were coursing through my head. Who had their tattoo on the back of their hand? Who, damn it!? Red Ortho’s mark was on the back of his leg. He didn’t like the needle, said it would hurt less getting it there. And Devereaux got his carved into his forehead, the maniac. But what of the rest of them! So long ago, can scarce remember where the others had their ink. Usad One-eye? Brunim Blacktooth? His brother Grunim? Aye, didn’t the Brothers Blacktooth get their tattoos matching? Both marked on the back of the right hand? Or was that Cerhoff the Dog? Finnigan Fyrebraces? Old Feng? Rurhz-Kol?

Gods, please not Rurhz-Kol. Admittedly any one of them knows how to truly make a man suffer. I’d wager Devereaux would keep me screaming long after I’d given him what I carry. And Qa Lain would take my ears and tongue same as every unfortunate swab he caught. But please, gods, not Rurhz-Kol. Close my eyes and I can still see the unthinking grin of that drooling mute. Sooner be burned alive than spend a minute in his hands.

They could all be here. Every one of the Laughing Boar's crew. Finally found me, aye, and come to take from me what I stole that night.

No. Think. Not all of them can be here. How many died off Traitor’s Isle? How many did that bloody night claim? How many of them found their end there at the point of a comrade’s cutlass, with the rain lashing down and blood and madness taking all of us down with it? How many of them went down into the waves? Flinging themselves after the Captain we’d murdered. Sobbing and weeping and wailing. Begging for forgiveness like tears would bring him back.

The Captain. I see Rurhz-Kol and the other crew’s faces every night, so I do, but I hear the Captain’s voice. That warm voice and those kindly eyes. Gave no hint of what lay underneath. I saw you die, Captain, you infernal bastard. Saw the water churn with your blood. As much as you took from us, you’ll take no more. I saw you go to the depths, damn you. But why were you laughing all the way down?

Only thing that stops the nightmares is drink. I’ll drink till the coin’s gone, which won’t be long, and then I’ll put out to Westgate. Heard there might be a job there. A job that pays.
#14238856 Oct 30, 2019 at 07:15 PM
30 Posts
Dead Ends



The treasure-hunter wrote feverishly, hunched over the parchment.

Three days and three nights spent working with neither food nor sleep before I even realised what I was doing. Chasing down every hint of history, every record, every possible chance of unravelling what this last passage reveals. Trying to get my own thoughts set out. And always the cursed, blasted, damnable map mocking me. It almost has a cruelty to it, always inviting you to attempt to read it just one more time, always promising that this time it will deliver up some revelation before revealing nothing but lies and trickery. No wonder this Foregallow seems to have lost track of the journal’s code and even of himself in his ravings.

The treasure-hunter stiffened in his chair slightly and snorted.

The map has no enchantment to it beyond the obvious, of course, I am sure my sense of it as some kind of opposing force is merely tiredness and frustration. In time, it will give its secrets to me as the journal’s author has begun to.

He reached out and, with a slightly shaking hand, lifted a small glass of red wine to his lips and drank it gratefully. It seemed to steady him. Setting it down carefully, he turned back to his notes.

To some extent, then, the truth is revealed. This Rosten Foregallow fled Marsember for fear that his former crewmates were hunting him, whether real or imagined, after he had stolen something from them.

Travails of the mad pirate aside, I now know the name of the ship he served on. The Laughing Boar. Sounds more like the name of a tavern to me, but there it is in plain Common, now that I’ve translated the code. This should make my job significantly easier. I should be able to track records of who ordered the ship constructed, where it was built, when it was completed, where it was sighted. Even if, as seems highly likely, it was used predominantly in pirate raids there should still be records of such attacks, giving a description of the ship and crew. But there is nothing! No record of such a ship being built to order, nor sighted, nor recorded anywhere. Nothing!

Nor are there any records of the ship-mates that Foregallow mentions in that crucial journal entry. This is less surprising, as not many writers are in the habit of recording the deeds of lowly pirates. Without the Captain’s name, which Foregallow does not seem in the habit of giving, I am incapable of finding records of him – which possibly would exist, even in rudimentary form.

With Foregallow’s past leading only to dead ends, I must continue with his ‘present.’ I will continue breaking the code of the passages detailing his time amongst these mercenaries. There is something unsaid, here, lost in the destroyed words and pages. Something under the surface.


#14238857 Oct 30, 2019 at 07:20 PM · Edited 2 months ago
30 Posts
We Happy Few



Another evening, another meeting. I’ll wager this will be the last one for a while, though – either we’re leaving the city or dying in the dark.

It were at Thessar’s, everyone sat round in a semicircle like we were visiting for a show. Thessar were there, of course, and the monk (what monk? Is this a reference from a missing passage?) and then some head of one of the temples came in – think we met her on the first day - and behind her, stooping to enter the house, came the largest woman I’ve ever seen. Some half-giantess clad in enough armor to protect three horses, face invisible behind a helmet that she don’t be in the habit of removing. She were leaning on a wicked-looking halberd the size of a tree. Guess we’ve got ourselves some proper muscle, aye, to go at the front with Darrow.

Said her name were Lloria, which sounds like some rich-girl name ‘stead of belonging to an armored behemoth. When she spoke, her words came even more ill-formed and ill-spoken than my own. I kept looking over at the wizard to see if he could stand the accent. He seemed as cold and flat as ever. The temple leader explained this Lloria would be serving with us in the raid.

The raid, of course, being the raid on a temple of Shar in the sewer. Aye, that’s the first proper job with this lot. And I ain’t seen a single coin change hands yet! Raiding the depths for free. We happy few.

Long as we can kill everyone and steal this magick ‘Cloak of Shadows’ they’re making themselves, they’re wagering that the head vampire will think he’s got a betrayal on his hands and start exacting revenge without knowing who to revenge on. Seems a tall order to me, so it does, but I’m not one for long plans.

And the man whose plan it is seems like the type to know every inch of every scheme he’s ever hatched. In he came, fancy clothes, fancy accent, walking like he owned the place. Glance at him once on the street and you’d think he’d be a rich merchant. Glance twice and you’d feel that shiver of fear from your neck to your withers that tells you to steer clear. The Vulture, in the flesh. I won’t be breaking no deal struck with him.

Says we’re to take this Cloak and deliver it to him. Wager he’ll be climbing whatever ladder these Masks are all fighting to be at the top of, but long as he’s not a vampire I don’t care a weevil's biscuit what he does.
#14238859 Oct 30, 2019 at 07:27 PM
30 Posts
A Short Life and a Miserable One



Got about a minute ‘afore we’re meant to head down into the sewer, so I’m writing my goodbyes in case we don’t make it and someone finds this. Were a short life and a miserable one, and I’m glad it’s over. Hope I took a few of you bastards with me if you’re some Shar-swab reading this by candlelight in your bloody sewer. Hope I killed a friend of yours.

This Lloria better provide more in muscle than she’s given in brains so far. Opened up a map of the sewer while we were getting the last bit of information from that cowardly swab Lomilith. Opened it up right on the table and stood over it, plain as the wind that she were looking it over with her mercenary companions all spread out around her. May as well have hung a sign saying “we’re about to do a job and make some coin”! Two mercenaries come strolling over, Thorsan and Yendil – best be noting their names down, so as I don’t go forgetting – and trying to get in on it. Whole point of the mission was to keep it secret. Dermot paid two hundred gold coins to try and shut them up, but I know these types better than he, it seems. Two hundred coins’ll just open their mouths wider.

It’ll have to be done. Won’t bring me no joy, but that’s life. Or death.

The old treasurehunter turned from the journal to make a note on some scrap paper:

Consult records of mercenaries in Westgate - Thorsan, Yendil
#14238862 Oct 30, 2019 at 07:33 PM
30 Posts
The Sewer



We just got back from the raid on the Temple of Shar. Few hours of laying low in the guesthouse, now, and then it’s off to lay a great deal lower in Reddansyr. Reddansyr be some village away outside of Westgate. City will be like a nest of vipers once the vampires realise what’s happened, so the Vulture says, so it’s best to be getting going while the going is good. Not sure I trust him, mind, but if there be a risk of vampires afoot then I don’t intend to stick around.

Raid itself went smoothly. Too smooth, I wager. Been part of a few bloody raids in my time, aye, and seen merchant vessels put up a better fight than the couple of mouldy vampires we found down there. Maybe the mercenaries is just that strong of arm and sharp of mind, aye, or maybe we got ‘em when they were unprepared…but maybe it were easy for a reason. Something about it just don’t sit right with me.

But we’ve got the Cloak, so we do. Found it just as it was being made by the shadow-god’s priestess. We killed her, of course, and then killed her again when she rose – cursed undead, may they all rot eternal! Njord and Darrow destroyed what coffins we found. The young dwarf-priest wanted to burn them all, but Darrow was more wily than I were expecting - pointed out that the hinges were rusty, the wood rotten. Old coffins, not in use.

Lloria broke the altar to the shadow-god. Straight sheared it in two, from what I saw. The arm on that woman…I didn’t like it one bit. Every seaman worth his salt knows you don’t go angering gods where you can help it. This Lloria be a scavenger, used to travelling about the lands and taking what she finds, sowing her justice where she sees fit. Well, I be a seaman, so I do, and the sea teaches you just how tiny you are. Never a good idea for things small as us to go angering anything as big as a god.

But we’ve got the Cloak, aye, wizard took off to find out what magick lies within it. Darrow don’t seem too keen on handing it back to the Vulture, and neither do the others, but a deal is a deal and- (a torn page, as has come to be expected)
#14238867 Oct 30, 2019 at 07:40 PM · Edited 2 months ago
30 Posts
Good Air and Bad Dreams



The journey to Reddansyr were some hard walking, but the air be good. Never been ranging with a proper ranger, too, and it were good to see the man of the wilds in his element. This Dermot knows all the signs and sounds and smells of the wilderness like he’s seen every inch of it. Nothing seems to surprise him – even when a few wolves showed up and we had to have at them. Reddansyr’s alright, aye, got a good inn with a ship sticking out of it. They say a giant hurled it there. Decided I don’t want to go meeting any giants.

This be the furthest I’ve been from the sea in years and years. I feel lost. There’s no quick exit from this place, only hours of trudging through the wilderness. We're meant to be going all the way up into the mountains, eventually. Maybe that'll be better, somehow.

....

Weren’t the normal nightmares last night. Dreamed of a shadow that spoke of its god. Threatened all of us Shadows. Spoke of damnation and revenge. Had quite enough of damnation and revenge, me. I woke a’feared, so I did. Like I said, I fear any trifling with the gods, or magick or anything else I don’t understand. Turned out the others all had the same dream, aye, and I were about ready to drop everything and quit, start over somewhere else. Maybe Starmantle. But Aerikoth arrived and said he’d fixed everything, worked it all out. Seems a little too quick to have fixed anything involving a god, but what do I know. He’s the master mage.

“us Shadows”? Why, by the high seas and all the hells ‘neath them, would I go and write that? Remember what you’re doing, Rosten, you fool!
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