Brotherhood

Interlude: Gooseberry

Glass shards explode outwards as the small wooden stool bursts through the window, followed immediately by the cloaked young man, who tucks into a roll as he plummets to the gooseberry bushes below.

He had encountered creatures of the mysterious ocean depths, seen the dead rise and walk the earth, stood face to face with a God upon the Celestial plane, and had suffered the attention of Demonic forces, but never before had he encountered something so…alien.

He springs up from the flattened shrubs; his knife leaping from sleeve to hand as he turns to face the shattered window, and for a moment he flashes back to the events brought him to this place.


The goblin drums his clawed fingers on the card-strewn tabletop impatiently as his bodyguards usher the last of the other players from the back room. He smiles a sharp-toothed grin at the young man standing before him, but is unable to disguise the confusion in his eyes.

Flint, my friend. I’d heard you were no longer chasing the dragon…which makes me wonder what brings you to my humble domicile this evening?”

The young man idly passes a silver coin from knuckle to knuckle, dexterously passing it back and forth until, with a flick of his wrist, it became a small packet of blue powder, dancing along the back of his hand. He pinches it between his thumb and forefinger and holds it where the goblin can see it.

”I’m looking for something.”

The goblin laughs gleefully, genuinely.

Zephyr? Your old pal Merwek can help you with that. How much are you looking for?”

“Sorry. I misspoke. I’m actually looking for someone.” The young man pauses, and looks into the goblin’s yellow eyes. “Marcus Adamo.”

The grin slips from the goblin’s face, and his expression hardens. But the young man has known the goblin for a long time, and can tell when he has something to hide. The grin that slides onto the adolescent’s face does not contain quite as many teeth, but it is just as wide.

He might not be able to threaten the information out of his old dealer, but he knows how to charm his way to success. Sometimes the best thing to do isn’t to fight or to flee, but to approach your problems with open arms.


The goblin wheezes, shuddering with laughter, doubling over in the throes of mirth, and slaps the young man on his back repeatedly. His speech is slurred, his eyes are unfocused and his breath reeks with the fumes of Bhelian Gløgg. The young man laughs along, but his words are articulate, his eyes are clear, and his tankard has not yet had to been refilled once over the past hour even though he had been raising it to his lips many a time.

The young man has been given a lot to think about. The goblin has been telling him about his dreams, dreams about the young man, dreams that make no sense, dreams about things that had yet to occur, dreams that bore an uncanny similarity to a vision he’d once had.

“I want you to have this.” The goblin fumbles for something in his pouch. “It might keep you safe if they come for you. It’s not much, but it might make the difference between life and death.” His clawed hand passes a small charm into Flint’s. “I never believed those things they were whispering about you. I knew you weren’t like that. I know you. And I know you can be trusted.”

“I’ll tell you what you want to know Flint. But you need to do a job for me in exchange. It’s nothing big. I need you to boost something for me. The guy used to be part of the Guild until he had a falling out, so I need someone who has experience with that. Someone like you.”

The young man considers this. His personal rule has always been to avoid the Mage Guild, in any shape or form, whenever possible. But he and his companions need this information. So he agrees.

“Good, good. I knew I could count on you Flint. Here’s the address. You’ll want to go tonight. He’s out of town now, but I don’t know how long that will last.”


The mage’s residence is a chaotic medley of thaumaturgical curiosities. Spell reagents spill unceremoniously from dishes and tins, alchemical fluids rest in vials and flasks organized in some incomprehensible system upon shelves, half written scrolls litter the floor, and various tomes lie open haphazardly upon tables with scraps of parchments scrawled with notes stuffed between the pages. Runes and diagrams inscribed in chalk decorate the walls and ceiling, and various small creatures and insects chirp and scurry in the cages and glass jars stored in every free space.

The young man was never the ideal student, but even so the philosophy of approaching magical study with both order and care has been drilled into his training. The tumultuous disorder of this room is nearly incomprehensible.

He begins his search, no easy task in the bedlam that surrounds him, looking for what he was sent to retrieve.

At last he finds what he seeks, and tucks the phial away safely. He turns to go, but catches sight of something on the tabletop across the room. It appears as if one of the scrolls has been completed, endowed with magical intent, and ready to use. Valuable.

He moves to cross the room, but hears a crunch from underfoot. Lifting his boot he recognizes the crushed shards of a Spell Stone, and senses the triggering of an unfamiliar spell.

Magical energy percolates out of the fabric of reality that surrounds the young man, coalescing into a form that defies the geometry of this plane of existence. Invisible, intangible, and yet the young man can feel its presence even behind shut eyelids. He hurls a stool through the window and dives through the shattered remnants moments later.

He is followed.


The young man slows his breathing, watching the ruined window frame. He tries to concentrate. That being…impossible to see, to hear, and yet…it’s almost like he’s in the presence of a spell that’s being cast, that moment where a subtle, immaterial, inexpressible vibration in the nature of reality signals the release of sorcerous energy…except that moment now seems to be never-ending.

He focuses, and hurls his blade. It flies true. And passes through the being without slowing, striking the wall behind it. The thing descends, moving down on the young man steadily, relentlessly. He seeks his Powerstone beneath his cloak, and reaches as deep as possible within it, draining it to fuel his incantation. His fingers move in cryptic patterns as he chants in an arcane tongue in order to release the gift buried deep within him.

The gooseberry bush is engulfed in flames, the conflagration willed into existence by the young man’s will. Without his Salamander’s Heart the intensity of the flames strikes him like a tidal wave of heat, the brightness of the fire blinding him. The gooseberry bushes are consumed within moments, unable to stand against the hungry blaze. But the young man can sense that the entity doesn’t slow, even though the inferno is centered upon it. It reaches out for him, its presence almost grazing the young man.

Out of options, the young man flees. He doesn’t run for home. He can’t be responsible for bringing this thing down upon his companions. He can’t be responsible for bringing it down upon anyone. He heads for the river.

He is followed.


Days pass. The young man plods along the country road, exhausted; his cloak still stained with gooseberries, his boots still smelling of river-water. He has begun to doubt what he knows, what he sensed, what he remembers. His Powerstone should be almost empty, having been recently drained, but it’s full to the brim with stored energy. Something he cannot see, cannot hear and yet somehow he can feel it. But can he be sure that it’s real? That the Spell Stone he had crushed actually summoned something, when perhaps it had only affected his mind?

He thinks on this as he stumbles along. He makes plans; then discards them. Until at last he comes to a decision.

Sometimes the best thing to do isn’t to fight or to flee, but to approach your problems with open arms.


The thing doesn’t understand charm. It doesn’t understand compassion. It doesn’t understand mercy. But it does want something. And so the young man makes a deal. And it agrees.

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Birds of a Feather

Squall stood alone on the cliffside, looking over the valley below as the four strangers disappear in to the distance, now so far away that even her formidable eyesight was unable to pick them out against the snowy landscape.

Her thoughts dwell on the Tomai male who was no longer visible. She had been quick to condemn his conduct; living, traveling and working alongside humans…while not forbidden among her people, it was certainly taboo. And yet, if he had not done so, her tribe’s flock would have been decimated by the beasts, starvation all but certain over the coming winter, and bloodshed between her tribe and the people in the valley below inevitable. Her tribe’s philosophy of remaining separate from the outside world had served them well enough for many generations. But perhaps it was not the only way.

Squall stood thinking for a long time.

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Heir, Apparently
The Duke Armand Fountaine and the Duchess Morgan Fountaine
and
The Dowager Duchess Ophelia Elantrum
are pleased to announce the marriage of their children:
Lady Amelia Fountaine
to
Lord Alexander Elantrum
The ceremony took place at the Temple of Bitani on December 23rd 10,162 A.E.
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The Name of the Demon: Part Two
Interlude

Ardos Lilt pushed his way through the front entrance to The Chanterelle Lounge, grimacing briefly as a discordant acoustical confusion made its way to his ears, the disharmony arising from a half dozen different instruments and their respective bards peppered throughout the common room. The crisp mid-morning autumn sunlight briefly fell across mostly empty seats and tables as the door swung shut behind him. Ardos jauntily doffed his cap and swept himself into an elaborate bow to the stocky, mutton-chopped barkeeper behind the counter. Baldric Llyndon rolled his eyes in return as the colourfully-clad minstrel settled upon a stool before him.

“Back from Hestial in one piece I see. Find what you were looking for Lilt?” Baldric asked, as he uncorked a bottle of Vener white.

Ardos shrugged casually, as he reached for the goblet being filled, “I discovered some new pieces in my travels, it’s true. A couple of shanties from the docks of Bheiburg, a canticle from an isolated monastery of Kerpani and a truly unique dwarven lullaby from the hills of Rhodren. None of which I had hoped to find, but all valuable additions to my repertoire nonetheless.”

Ardos flicked his calloused fingers to the various musicians scattered throughout the room. “What’s all this? The philharmonic is busy when at this hour they should still be abed.”

“Composing” Baldric grunted. “The only thing on anyone’s lips since last night is the tale of those blokes and that demon up in Millenforte. Everyone’s in a rush to create the first epic ballad of the event. The masses are eating this stuff up, a village forgotten by time, an evil wizard’s castle, vanquishing a demon, and doing it all underneath the Mage Guild’s nose. Get a catchy tune to go alongside it and they’ll be singing your song for months to come.”

“Oho!” A lanky youth half-rose out of his chair across the room in unbridled excitement. “I just realized Valmeer rhymes with Shear! Nobody else use that!”

Baldric pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a sigh at this outburst, which was why he missed the expression of shock that passed over Ardos Lilt’s face.

“By any chance,” Ardos enunciated delicately, “Did these blokes include a Pryga, a Tomai and a Minotaur all bearing the symbol of a wolf upon their garbs?”

“Aye.” Baldric nodded. “I see you’ve heard the tale already.” He ducked underneath the counter to grab a rag off the shelf, and by the time he had straightened up Ardos had unstrapped the lute upon his back. “Don’t tell me you’re going to start too?”

Ardos laughed brightly. “Not at all. I’ve been working on their song for months. The difference is, now there’s an audience for it.”

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The Name of the Demon: Part One
In Memoriam

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On the 29th November 10,162 A.E. the world of Faran, nay the entire Material Plane, suffered a great loss when the one who had been responsible for dealing the killing blow to such fiends as the murderous, death-worshiping Third Disciple of the Master; the vengeance-seeking, skin-wearing Selkie, a butcher from the ocean depths; and the malicious draconian crony known as Valkyrion, scion of Tyrakulin, was liquefied within the core of a relentless Magma Elemental in a subterranean cavern located to the south-west of the city of Millenforte.

Shear of the Kyeeia Tomai grieves deeply for the loss of his favourite axe, which is survived by its identical partner, bearing the distinct marking of a wolf’s head etched ornately into the metal.

In a cruel twist of fate, the pair of axes had been christened with names mere hours before, the surviving weapon bearing the name “Hurt” and our now-departed hero having been dubbed, ironically, as “Burn”.

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A New Nest

His Majesty, Gideon of the Magnus Dynasty, King of Kardiam, Sovereign Lord of the Koleso Isles, Prime Marshal of the Twelve Realms, Heir Prince in Perpetuity of Orst, Archduke of Ursalt Province, and Warden of Alnaz, bit back yet another yawn as his First Minister, the Archmage Padrig Facere continued to list last season’s summary of tithes collections. The first fiscal session of the month was always the most tedious.

First Minister Facere concluded his list, and glanced expectantly at his king.

“Yes, yes, Padrig, that’s very good. You can tell Minister Wurzel to proceed, I have no further budgetary changes to make for this quarter.” King Magnus leaned forward in his chair, starting to raise himself up. “If there’s nothing else, for today…”

“Actually, your Majesty, there is one more issue.”

Gideon stifled his sigh as he settled back down.

“The event that occurred in The Kennels yesterday, I sent some specialists to investigate. As it turns out the incident was mystical in nature, not magical. It was the work of a nature Goddess, an elven one. The tree is her new temple in Alnaz.”

Gideon raised his eyebrows. “Elven? What did the Immori Ambassador have to say about that?”

“She appeared to be as in the dark about this issue as we were sire, and claims her government has no interest in this new temple.”

“A shame. We could have used an opportunity to help facilitate a better trade agreement with the Elven Empire. Still, we should make sure that the clergy of this new temple are not harassed. A simple action like that may go a long way in building better relations with the elves.”

Archmage Facere paused before responding. “Ah…actually your Majesty, there is no clergy. The temple appears to be occupied by a group of…mercenaries. From what we have been able to determine so far they don’t even appear to be associated with the elves.”

The king drummed his fingers on the arm rest of his chair, thinking. “Unusual. Have someone keep an eye on them. No direct intervention. The last thing we need is to unnecessarily rile up The Kennels district again.” The king rose, and strode towards the door. “Inform me if there are any significant developments.”

“As you command my King” Archmage Facere murmured, to the now empty room.

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Old Habits Die Hard
The price we pay

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Where The Heart Is

Ragnar Ironhorn massaged his temples and grimaced as he reviewed the scrolls set out in front of him. When his son Lief had brought him word that Ragnar’s younger brother Valmeer had been seen in the vicinity he’d known that trouble couldn’t be far behind. Still, what he had expected was a simple fight to the death, not this snarled mess that had fallen in his lap. The envoy from the Stormhide Clan had departed just this morning, finally yet begrudgingly convinced that the Ironhorn Clan had not sanctioned nor known of Valmeer’s intentions. They would still swear their bloodoath, but it would be against Valmeer alone, and not aginst the whole Ironhorn Clan.

Jotun Stormhide was still shrilly demanding reparations for the loss of his prized enslaved elf, but Ragnar would be damned if he’d pay the price that was being quoted. Refusing to pay meant that Jotun would most certainly enact an embargo against Ironhorn steel for this season, not just for Ragnar’s village but for the whole Clan. Hence the collection of messages before him, from his fellow Village Chieftains, and both his liege Sept and Clan Chieftain angrily implying that Ragnar get his house in order lest they take it upon themselves to enact order.

Mother dead less than a week, and to top it off he’d just received word that the Temple of Visry in Krava was sending a senior priest to investigate “suspicions of heresy”. What in the eight hells had Valmeer been doing? Trying to kill Ragnar with an ulcer? Not the traditional weapon a Minotaur chose for the Holmgang, but it seemed as if Valmeer had forgotten much of the old ways in his travels.

Still, Ragnar mused, as his gaze slid to his trident mounted upon the wall, Valmeer made it quite clear when he was speaking to my son that he intended to return to challenge me one day. Ragnar nodded grimly, sitting alone by the flickering fire in his longhouse. Let him come.

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Excerpt from the Journal of Colewyn Flint

Somtimes I forget things.

I didn’t used to.

I’m going to start writing things down. Maybe it’ll help.

It’s the dragonfire. The Sosiety used to give me all I wanted. I’d sell what I didn’t use. It kept me sharp, and gave me cred among the other street kids. That’s what I thought, anyway. I think now the Sosiety just gave it to me to keep me tied to them. Now that I’m cut off from them, from home Alnaz.

I almost wrote from home. But Alnaz was never home.

Now that I’m cut off, I’m running low. I have whole weeks now that pass by in a flash. I can barely remember what’s happened to me. They tell me I lost my skin!? How could I have forgotten that?

I’ve been reading the spellbook I got from the circus in my spare time – so how come I don’t remember anything from it? Some spells would have helped in Jocund’s maze, surely. I let my friends down.

It’s time to kick the fire. I’m not a kid doing dirty work for thugs any more. I’m on the trail of a Godslayer. I can’t afford to miss anything. I can’t afford to forget my magic. I can’t afford to get my friends killed.

I wrote friends again. I’m thinking back to Alnaz – I guess I didn’t really know what a friend was, then. I thought I had them. But… Sly, Pincher, Maxi… they weren’t friends. They would have slipped a knife in my ribs if it meant a clipped copper from the Sosiety. And I’d have done the same to them.

These people, though… they’ve saved my life without a backwards glance. Many times. They look the other way every time I do something dumb, or let the dragonfire get the better of me. And I never relized how relieved I’d be when we found each other again after being split. I guess, if Alnaz was never home, then this Brotherhood is the closest thing I’ve ever had to one.

No more drugs. Keep practising your spelling, and your spells.

Time to grow up, Flint.

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The Wreck of the Satisfaction

- With the four members of the party reunited in the city of Kleistead the party quickly discovered that the Brinson Salvage Company was closed for the next month while apparently on an expedition. Valmeer, Jim Frog and Shear reunited several weeks later as agreed, although Colewyn Flint’s was a no-show.
- Overhearing a confrontation taking place, it’s revealed that the Salvage Company’s possessions, including their archival information that the party was seeking, had been seized by the Moreta Bank due to the owner defaulting on a loan.
- The party offered to assist the company owner by manning one last salvage operation in order to raise funds to reclaim the company archives and assets.
- Meeting the next morning, the party met the owner, as well as an experienced sea-mage in his employ, and they travelled, out to sea, to the location where the ship The Satisfaction had sunk.
- Due to the sea-mage’s intervention the party grew gills and dove to the sea floor. The party encountered an Electrical Eel in the hold of the ship and made short work of it.
- In an attempt to bypass a Colossal Crab blocking the party’s passage on the Berth Deck, Valmeer broke through the deck above him only to discover a Dire Octopus occupying the entirety of the Upper Deck of the ship.
- Seizing Jim Frog, the Dire Octopus led the party a short distance away from the ship where they discovered what had been masterminded the various creature attacks, a Brain Coral, a telepathic yet immobile organism attempting to protect its realm from further incursions from the surface world.
- Choosing the diplomatic route the party managed to negotiate safe passage of the ship in exchange for promising to warn surface dwellers to avoid this site, and to take the contents of a sealed clam shell to the surface world, for reasons unexplained.
- The party managed to retrieve the object they had been seeking, the Petrel family’s lost Bill of Exchange, and surrendered it to the owner of the Brinson Salvage Company.
- The following day, with Colewyn Flint rejoining them, the party obtained the company archive records and discovered that The Gnomish Maid has not gone down in a storm, but had likely been attacked by slavers originating from the Stormhide Minotaur clan, originating from Bhel.
- Hearing the clam shell open, the party discovered, among other items, that contained within it was a coin, inscribed with a jester and the word Jocund upon it. Uniting it with the other two coins in their possession caused the players to once again feel a wrenching in their stomachs, and to experience a spinning sensation in their heads, all the while hearing the distant sound of laughter that they had heard once before.

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