Talos' Privateers

Kurza's Turning
In which Kurza is finally completely digested

It is hard to tell when he turned from odd to creepy to disturbing to evil.  Odd, was he always.  A beardless dwarf!  But everyone understood that he was traumatized and shamed.  Betrayed, enslaved and escaped, Kurza took the protection of the Obsidian Child as his penance to the forces of light, but the mission did not bring him redemption.  The Obsidian Child was eaten, and Kurza sunk deeper and deeper into the quagmire of a living hell.  But was he descending into it, or was he calling it up?

It was not the death of the Obsidian Child that sent Kurza on the downward spiral.  No, he was always heading in that direction.  The party simply ignored the signs.  Never bathing.  Excessive drinking.  Collecting scalps.  Embracing the evil aura of his armour.  It was just an aura, the party thought – a battlefield tactic.  They did not seem to consider that it might not be just the armour that was emanating evil.

The matter became a more explicit when the Diabolist was first summoned to parlay with the party.  Kurza nearly made a pact then and there, but more balanced approaches prevailed… for the moment.  Kurza was noticeably quick to pick up the sacrificial knife and goblet of summoning, though.

Upon entering the Forge, he declared boldly to the mall cops that the Blackbeard the Betrayed had returned.  Unfortunately, Kurza’s sanity had not.  The Talos’ Privateers are known for spontaneity.

Things turned sharply for the worst when Kurza scalped two living dwarfs after the battle in the marketplace, aka Bertram’s Folly.  The party fled to the mines, the bound Betram schlepped along by Lauren Tide.  Kurza left the party hidden in the darkness as he went to seek more permanent shelter.  No one knows for sure what transpired when Kurza was out on his own, but when he returned, he had clearly crossed the point of no return.  This was made manifest the by the immediate, merciless and unnecessary murdering of Bertram, whose steaming hot blood on the Diabolist’s bone knife was subsequently used to cut a tear in the very fabric of reality, allowing Kurza direct access to the Dwarf King’s bedroom.

“He’s gone full demon!” shouted Styx as Kurza jumped through wormhole and drove his the Diabolist’s bone knife straight through the sleeping head of the king.

A Javelin of Faith went astray and Lauren’s grappling hook fell short before Garrett had a chance to launch a fireball at Kurza.  Alas!  Garrett also missed his mark and burned the beard right off the Dwarf Queen, who, unbeknownst to the rather naïve Garrett, was in the bed next to her now impaled husband.  Kurza made it into the next room, where he was able to kill one of the two sleeping heirs to the Dwarf kingdom.  With a burst of hulking speed and a wave of powerful Divine magic, Lauren chased the Dwarf demon down and turned him straight to hell.

With some quick thinking, Garrett barred the door with his patented cock block and charmed the singed Dwarf Queen into understanding that the 3 strange looking intruders in her bedroom had just saved her and one of her kids from the savage attack of the Diabolist and his newly anointed demon dwarf.  Feeling completely indebted to the strangers, the Dwarf Queen showed them a secret passage through the loo back to the outside world.  Before escaping back to the Estimated Prophet, Lauren did a double healing on the Queen, and Garrett removed his blocking cock.

And thus, only 2 of the original 5 of Talos’ Privateers remained.

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Betram's Folly
In which the party botches an entrance

Captain Bertam Streberfalls resented many things in life, only the latest of which was being demoted to the rather ignoble task of Marktplatzeinsatzgruppenleiter, or as he knew it was often referred to in the Officers’ Club: mall cop.  There is not a lot of honour for a battle hardened captain in guarding a mostly shuttered market place in a city under siege. Streberfalls’ had been sent to command a company of misfits, has-beens and convicts assigned to keeping the peace among the misfits, has-beens and convicts working the farms and mines in these times of trouble.  Lest the rabble be roused.

Captain Bertam Streberfalls did not expect to be the Forge’s first line of defense when the ancient, and heretofore secret, entrance to the Forge via Kuhlturmgletscher was breached for the first time in 14 generations.  Was he now bothered by having to put his honey cake and glühwein down to do something that might require a damage report?  Did he relish his chance to prove his worth?  Was he legitimately concerned about the initial reports of 3 decidedly un-dwarvish creatures and one vaguely dwarvish creature breaching the hidden and magical defenses?

Such were thoughts churning through Captain Bertam Streberfalls’ mind as he continued to sip his glühwein, when a second scout appeared in his guard station, corroborating the initial reports.  Something not normal was happening.  A harried third scout babbling about a human boy, a one-handed mermaid, an adolescent tyrannosaurus and a large halfling wearing a demon mask was enough to get Streberfalls’ to stop licking the honey cake off his fingers.  Quickly he decided that this was a chance to prove his worth.  Itching for a fight in this otherwise placid post, his company fell right in line and marched off to greet the intruders with a show of force.

Captain Bertam Streberfalls, although not loved by his colleagues or subordinates, was not a fool.  Upon seeing that this mystical and mystifying party totally out matched him, he held of on immediately apprehending the intruders, and instead tried to parlay.  Rants and ramblings was his prize!  First from the fat halfling, who, upon unmasking, revealed himself to be one of the renegade beardless dwarves that had been springing up around the dragon kingdom.  Why is this disgrace of a dwarf babbling about Burnt Burger the Bethrothed?  And why does this one handed gigantic woman speak fluent dwarvish?  And how dare she tell us to back off on our own hallowed ground!?!

Dwarves are not easily cowed in their own halls, not even when two them of drop to the ground with ears bleeding in excruciating pain.

“These intruders picked the wrong company to bully,” thought Captain Betram Steberfalls as he gave to order to attack.

This was among the captain’s final coherent thoughts, as we was swiftly “tapped” in the head the by the adolescent tyrannosaur.   Soiling his pants and turning to run from the threats of the gigantic woman, Captain Betram Steberfalls was knocked unconscious by a mighty blow with a war hammer, before being snatched up, bound and used as a human shield.

Although the intruders had clearly routed the mall cop company, they feared the rapid approach of reinforcement.  Thus, Captain Betram Steberfalls was hoisted onto the shoulders of the giant woman can carried swiftly off to hiding place in the mines.  Here, Captain Betram Steberfalls was stripped of all us valuables, and his fate was debated amongst the intruders.  There was talk of leaving him there tied up.  There was talk of killing him.  There was talk of using him as leverage to gain an audience with a higher authority in the Forge.

All that talk ended when the beardless dwarf, returning in a frenzy from a reconnaissance mission, swiftly decapitated Captain Betram Steberfalls.

And here ends the tale of the demise of Captain Betram Steberfalls.

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Hammer to Anvil

Anvil, the Dwarven surface city, has been under siege  by the forces of the Diabolist. 
Anvil is the gate to the Forge, the Dwarven capital in the Underdark.

The Saints of Circumstance are bound for the Forge, seeking the second Eye of the Stone Thief, and to Usurp the false King of the Dwarves.

Sneaking into the city through tunnels used by Were-rats , the adventurers emerged into a city with its spirit broke. Even our heroes were in low spirits: Laurentide lost her left hand, Garrett was inflicted with Lycanthropy, and the only people they had seen for weeks had tried to kill them.

The lone townsperson with any pluck left in them was Draziros Drake, a blacksmith who kept himself busy by forging sword after sword. Kurza earned Drake's begrudging respect through his eye for steel, and Styx soon distinguished himself with his work ethic.

From their hideout inside a boarded up apothecary, the party was able to puzzle out which businessmen had been working with the were-rats to smuggle Dreamweed into the city. Jeskill, the Bandit Merchant, was promptly kidnapped and leveraged into lending an alchemical laboratory to Garret to synthesize a cure for his disease.

As townspeople began to notice the increased zest and activity in the blacksmith, more folk came out to gather and watch. Merrik Frost, posing as Captain Ironeyes, challenged any Dwarf worth his weight to step up, draw a blade, and defend their city. Together, the heroes rallied the townsfolk, soothing their aches, shoring up their defenses, and encouraging them to fight.

When the demons came, Anvil was as ready as it could be. Thanks to careful planning, teamwork, and well played skill sets, the horde, headed by a giant toad-beast, was beaten back into the smoking hell-holes from which they emerged.

An emissary of the Diabolist approached Merrik, telling him to meet at the now-abandoned Pleasure Centre. There, the party found a "call waiting" – a summoning circle, lit candles and incense, everything needed to invoke a manifestation of the Diabolist… including a chalice meant for blood, and a ceremonial dagger carved from human bone.

The Diabolist offered a trade: she would spare the townspeople and turn over the Eye of the Stone Thief if they would open the gates to Anvil, and let her pass through to the Forge.

After some heated discussion, the party decided to turn down a pact with a demon.

Leaving the Pleasure Centre, Merrik ran headfirst into Ebony and Ivory, who between them carried a device recognizable as "stone thief cult paraphenelia". Striking first and asking questions never, the party pounced, pummeled, and pinned the children of the daughters of the Elf Queen.

Holding the elves captive, Kurza waited and watched. Styx tended to wounds. Garret lurked invisibly, whispering devious things into their ears. Merrik finally turned to the dream world, which his fears had kept him away from for months, only to discover the worst: some black thing had festered and grown on his soul, and went he entered the dreamworld Court of Moon and Stars, it burst loose. Writhing black tentacles and teeth, the aberration shot like an arrow towards the Elf Queen, where it tore her limb from limb.

Elves across the world screamed out in pain and sorrow. Hurled back from the world of dreams, Merrik freed ivory, begging his forgiveness. He handed his belt knife, his to carry at the blessing of his queen, to Ivory… who drove it into his heart. Ivory then turned the knife on himself, cutting his throat as he wept.

Ebony, a Drow woman and a harder heart, pulled herself together enough to crawl through her tears, seeking to escape. Kurza drove a spear through her back.

Two days later, the Saints of Circumstance left Anvil for the mountains, the fallen Dwarves bundled in a cart among camping supplies.

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Saints of Circumstances

Chaos is spreading across the Dragon Empire.

The Stone Thief's attacks and subsequent devouring of magical wards has been an increasingly dire omen foretelling the return of the Lich King. Whatever agents had sought to manipulate the Stone Thief into doing their bidding (through ritualistic summonings) have likely lost some control over the monster now that its vision has been partially restored. The Elf Queen has voiced concern that the creature will target the Court of the Moon and Stars for Her role in blinding the creature. Will it still pursue and consume the magical wards, or does it have some other malevolent agenda of its own?

The death of the Crusader and the loss of Red Dawn have left fragments of a once-strong army (the Shattered Ones) scattered across the kingdom. Without the mailed fist of the Crusader driving them onwards, the remaining forces have floundered without purpose – some becoming vagrants, others bandits. Meanwhile, the Diabolist seems to be capitalizing on the ensuing vacuum left by the death of her rival: it is reported that demonic  forces have laid siege to the Dwarven Kingdom of Anvil. There are rumors that some of the Shattered Ones still loyal to the empire that the Crusader represents have gathered in Drakkenhall. Who calls them to the City of Monsters?

The crew of the Estimated Prophet stand at the eye of the storm, the stillness at its centre the mourning of the loss of the Obsidian Child. From the ashes of this mysterious foundling, a living being has emerged: Tupelo Honey, the Arbiter of Talos' Wrath.  Whatever their destiny, it is clear the adventurers who stand prepared to meet the rains are different than the ones who first felt the winds of the storm…


What does Talos intend to bring into this world? How will his Saints of Circumstance tip the balance of good and evil, of order and chaos?

 

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Journey to the Horizon

Un-sticking the Estimated Prophet from where it was grounded in Lake Calamity was straightforward: the crew used oars to guide the ship while the druid Wild, in whale form, pushed the boat off of the strange piece of castle-shaped coral mid-lake.

Less straightforward was dealing with the three-headed alligator/plesiosaurus that attacked: Kurza was badly chewn up; Wild, in whale form, was gnawed on… basically it started with a bunch of mouths full of sharp teeth then it grew more mouths.

  • Quick thinking on the part of Styx prevented Gabro from drowning
  • Arrows from Merrik saved Kurza from the jaws of death
  • A great deal of lightning was thrown that struck nothing
  • A cannon was fired, to little effect
  • Garrett the Wizard shot the beast's "chocolate deathstar" right in the "exhaust port"

Ultimately the party fled. 

Janys the Phoenix returned, chattering excitedly about having been shot at by someone at Horizon. She was unable to deliver the 2nd note to the Archmage.

Arriving in Horizon, the party was met at the docks by a contingent of wizards representing all three wizard schools. It seems they had heard of the Estimated Prophet, and excitedly asked if Garrett was on board. The Obsidian Child denied knowing any such person, even when the wizards insisted that they had heard he was aboard the ship.
The party then split at the docks, with Garrett remaining on the ship for "wizard stuff", unaware that a gaggle of magic users were on shore excitedly asking after him. Styx, the Obsidian Child, Merrik Frost, Kurza, and Wild heading in to meet the Archmage… who, it turns out, was not expecting their arrival. After some negotiation, it was granted that a short meeting with the Archmage would be permitted while he broke for a meal; the Eye of the Stone Thief would have to remain in a magically shielded warehouse. At this point, much to the confusion of everybody, Wild suggested summoning the Stone Thief and allowing it to devour her. 

Ever-grim Kurza,  the phoenix Janys and the Obsidian  Child (plus Wild, in Snake form, dreaming of a twisting, hungry, insane serpent deep below the earth) and two red shirt crew members stayed with the Eye. In short order, the warehouse grew uncomfortably quiet and nearly a dozen men attacked. The Obsidian Child was shocked to learn some property of the chamber blocked him from accessing sorcerous magic… but Kurza's work is done with muscle and steel. With help from Janys, Kurza Brutally butchered the would-be-thieves to a man, then scalped all 9 of them before stuffing their bodies in the corner of the warehouse. Meanwhile, the Obsidian Child stuffed his pockets with as much precious jewelry as he could find.

Upstairs, Merrik and Styx quickly began to suspect that something was amiss with the Archmage: His Wisdom seemed absent-minded and pre-occupied, and showed little concern when he learned at least two of the magical wards holding the Lich King  imprisoned were broken. Though they filled him on the conspiracy, he… didn't seem to care. His assistant, Verrik, continually interrupted the Merrik and Styx until Merrik flipped his lid and put a knife to his throat. As Merrik began to forcefully strip him (abused becoming abuser?) guards were called in.
A lot happened quickly: Merrik yelled that he found a mark of the Lich King, Ruby Guards shot him with electric crossbow bolts, Talos yelled at Styx to unleash Irving the Sack Goblin and push the Archmage out the window. Styx elected to tackle him.

Irving the Goblin's unexpected and enormous ferocity bought Merrik a few precious moments to stagger across the room and spill out the window after His Wisdom and the First of Talos.
Thanks to timey-wimey wizard bends (the Archmage, still dazed, seemed to follow instructions fairly clearly) the party was re-united, and moved magically and posthaste to the docks.

Inside the crate, Wild transformed into a badger, frantically digging through the earth until she reached the Eye. As she touched it,  it awoke, shedding the box and dirt effortlessly. The Stone Thief saw where it was. Wrestling the giant emerald free from Wild and scrambling onto the Estimated Prophet, the crew screamed to the Archmage to call winds to blow them out to sea, to create illusionary ships to confuse the monster…

Black Glass Skull emerged from the bay, now a living thing. Opening its mouth, the Skull crunched and gnawed and devoured the magical, shape-shifting docks of Horizon.  As the Estimated Prophet skipped across waves and hurtled out to Sea, their last impression of the archmage was of a pudgy, lost looking man standing on shore watching the great pate of Black Glass Skull slip back beneath the waves.

 

 

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The Golden Citadel

From Garados' notes, the adventurers learned  that the Eye of the Stone Thief was located in the vaults of the Golden Citadel. Styx, Kurza, Merrik Frost, plus the Obsidian Child and his young phoenix Janys boarded the Estimated Prophet and headed along the Demon Coast.

They docked at the closest port, Black Glass Skull. One of the 88 magical wards that keep the Lich King imprisoned, the fortress was a literal black glass skull. Docking was prohibitively expensive, not only because of the treacherous terrain surround the fortress, but because its proximity to the Golden Citadel make currenly practically useless.

Highlights INSIDE Black Glass Skull included gambling and fraud, giving dangerous drugs to a child, diarrhea, a magic diorama, pick pocketing, ransom, kidnapping, more cultists, and the eventual confirmation of underground tunnels.

Trolls were met, demons encountered, unusual storms rocked the magically calmed Midland Sea, explosives failed to open doors; promises made to fetch the Blade of the Betrayer ended up being broken. A key to the vault was discovered: the enigmatic story-keeper of the Koru, Wild.

After descending a chasm, fighting an abomination, burning giant spiders to death, descending a further shaft, a 3' x 3' emerald with a unknowable number of brilliant facets. 

Upon reaching the surface, the Eye seemed to awaken and see the world around it. By the time the divided party re-united on the deck of the Estimated Prophet, the landscape around Black Glass Skull shook and rattled and thundered. The earth churned, then swirled around the structure like a whirlpool… and Black Glass Skull sunk below the surface.

The Stone Thief took it.

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Shadows Over Eldolan

The adventurers foiled  a would-be kidnapper, saving an infant from a terrible fate.

The scheme was brazen, involving the coordinated release of the living dead into a crowded market place to create a distraction during a high noon snatch-and-run. Before the kidnapper had cleared the square, he had been feathered with arrows and then dragged free of the melee before he could escape or be devoured. Under interrogation, the kidnapper revealed he had been paid in a harmful, addictive herb called Dreamweed to do the snatch. 

Some bodies were identified by the Sisters of Mercy, a charitable group that feeds the poor in Eldolan. Tying the hired thug and the zombie corpses to poor folk from the Warrens who had lately been using a deadly herb led to  tracking the dealer of the Dreamweed.

Because of some confusion about the Obsidian Child's identity, and a mysterious Drow named Aeorta, the heroes tricked "The DreamWeaver" into revealing details of a wide-reaching corpse-thieving ring.

Aeorta was collecting fresh bodies for a Lich King contact; the dead in the midday marketplace were just a fraction of the re-animated arsenal… Countless were hid in tunnels below the city  and in the crypts. Meanwhile,  on the side, Aorta was selling the corpses to a fringe cult dedicated to the worship of a Succubus in a living dungeon known as the Mother. Leads tying the upper echelons of the conspiracy to the procurement of bodies were designed to follow the false trail to the Mother. Without hard proof of who Aeorta was working with, the trail would have gone cold.

The lynch-pin of the case against Aeorta was his bag-man Paulos, who had been broken, linded and had his tongue removed before being sold to slavers. Alive and mute his secrets would have been safe from investigators, and safe from the Lich King… for a time.

Paulos was tracked to a slave ship, the Glass Anchor. After the Obsidian Child fearlessly boarded the ship, causing a bloody battle on its decks in the harbor midafternoon, the Child laid claim to the ship as his own. 

When the town's guard appeared, Merrik Frost took a major diplomatic gamble and revealed the details of the Lich King plot to the captain of the guard. The risk paid off, and the captain was able to rally un-corrupted guardsmen in time to prevent a midnight mutiny. The ship was cleaned, the captive crew released. Many of them, so taken by the strange twinkling child and his unlikely companions, chose to remain aboard the ship and start new lives as free men and privateers.

Kurza donned the bloody leather-and-mail armour of the pirate captain, a whirling dervish who stunk of evil and depravity.

Although the do-gooders failed to interrupt the Cult of the Mother's summoning ritual, they were able to interrupt whatever the hell was going on as a result of that summoning, butchering the cultists, killing an invisible infernal guardian, and finally finding substantial evidence to link Garados to the Lich King: dark books on summoning demons, living dungeons, and ancient monsters.

Armed with testimony from Aeorta, Paulos, and evidence from the cultists, emboldened with the official approval from the mayor, the adventurers confronted Garados and halted the destruction of a powerful magical ward. Even Garados' attempt to escape justice and enact further chaos with suicide magic were halted… Apparently it takes a long time for someone to die from a gushing neck wound.

The Lich King's forces were routed largely before they emerged: mutiny thwarted, conspiracy to darken the city mitigated by thousands of citizens with torches, the dead sealed in vaults belowgrounds, the most powerful wizards apprehended or killed, and a brief and bloody battle on the docks won by hardy sailors and dwarven dock workers.

 

Learning that Garados had sought a powerful magical relic to advance the Lich King's agenda, they adventurers set out to secure it before the forces of the One-Eyed Lord could find it.

 

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