Meridian City

Session 8
The Full Henderson

The Following is an excerpt from Tiska’s Journal

Dear Book

Ivan is dead.

For real this time.

No men in masks pretending to be he.

No svvitches with Andre when I am inattentive

Only his vvithered, perforated, popped corpse.

The vvorld is cleansed of one more evil.


I still cannot believe is real.

Years I have hid away in fear.

Years vvatching shoulder, afraid of masks and daggers in night.

Years pretending not to exist.

Now. Safe on streets again. Can walk with head held high.

Well, save for scars on face.

The vvound remains open. Sleeping is difficult. Searching for cure.

This vvas all so sudden. Vveeks of endless torture and starvation. The gauntlet that marred my face. Zelkova’s arm. Mathias’s eye. Jane’s mind. Tiger’s Teeth. Who knows of Rel’s horror in this. Can only hope his passing was swift.

And then… an attack on the Assassins, a suicide mission to rescue us. I never vvould have believed i was worth such. The Man and Woman who released us, Bread and Cocoa. Never before have I seen such… Zeal. The duo broke us free and helped us escape the assassins cave. There vvere not alone. Zelkova has other team, they helped.

Apparently lizard-man made several tons of soup. They stole pump and flooded main chamber with soup.

Stupid plan. Surprisingly worked.

During escape, found Ivan. Cocoa man tried to sacrifice self for group. We almost let him, but vvent back eventually. Cocoa-man good fighter, bested several assassins but Ivan to stronk, nearly killed him.

Shade got really fat eating soup. Jane pushed him like big rock. Hit Ivan like big rock. Think I heard rib snap. Very happy noise.

We battle Ivan. He may be stronk, but he can still be poisoned like man. Brought low by his own devices. I drove him into the dirt.

Lizard man offered me green knife. Ritual dagger. Vve all look away from Ivan. Look back. I stab Andre.

Andre you probably read this in secret. I really did not mean to stab you. Please forgive.

Ivan and his bag of tricks let him switch with Andre. Not before poison maimed and marred, but escaped death no less. Very, very angry

We continue on, trudge through soup. Party has made way toward exit. Vve regroup. In next room many dead assassins and rest of team. Four more people join us. One is dead, so doesn’t join but i don’t want to exclude. They die for us. Honor that loss.

Hear buttercup is up with pump. Vve escape fortress. Find big pump. No buttercup.

Assassin reveal themselves. ALL of them. Surrounded. Outnumbered many times over. Ivan appears. Has buttercup by the throat. Demands many things. monologues. Typical Ivan. New party member. Small confused gendered elf man with vvong horns tries to save Buttercup. Fails. Dives into assassin crowd.

Ivan slits Buttercups throat. He is dead.

Zelkova and Andre try to figure out swap magic. Doesn’t vvork. Nearly kills Andre. Cocoa saves once again. And sprouts vvings? Vveird pair those two. Cocoa grabs everyone he can, flies over assassin ranks toward Andre. Keepers appear, assault the assassin ranks and storm fortress.

good timing.

Jane and I are throw at Ivan. Our daggers dance. The pump explodes, Mathias’s fault. Lots of shrapnel and pain.

Finally. Dagger finds Ivan’s heart.

Jane goes mad. Takes Ivan’s face. Vvears it.

I vvish not to know vvhat vvas done to her any more.

Assassins scatter. Sister tried to interfere with Ivan’s death. Failed. Ran with the rest. Hope not to see her again.

With Ivan dead, the Keepers rushed the fortress releasing captives. Why they were there, no one can say for certain. Vve left quickly. No masks in the carnival is bad news. Vve made it out with little issue. Surprising.

Andre now stays vvith me at kitten.

Speaking of. Nin in pregnant place for some time. Apparently Orgoth has baby coming. He vvould be happy man. Vvonder what child’s name will be.

Kitten now has strange fallen bar man. Toland. Different from other fallen. Race lines looks less like lines, more like vvaterfalls. Skin glows. Does drinks vvell. Good man. I think.

Bread and Cocoa obsessed with justice. Vvill be on best behavior around them.

Crow man funded Bread and Cocoa to save us, not Zelkova. My trust for birds grows thinner by the day. Vvhat is crow plan?

Future looks weird. Lived life to kill Ivan. Not sure vvhat to do now that he is dead.

Tiska.

PS. Vve murdered Owen. He turned into monster. Vve murdered again. Vvould like to forget him.

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Session 7 - Tiska's View

There is no time in this place, only moments and as each goes, it is harder to keep head clear. I do not know who is living and who is dead, which does not make me feel better. I have been awake for too long, my face screaming when I try to lay down. My comfort is when world goes black for moments and I am free. Never long enough.

I remember now why I hold no gods. There is no room for gods here in cell. If there are gods, why does Dark Carnival go on? Why does Ivan breathe still? No. There are no gods. If there are, they are sick and disgusting and I will no more of that in my life.

Sometimes, I am like child: staring at wall and trying to fold into the cold stone. Sometimes I am filled with fire, burning inside like my skin and I can’t sit still so I pace. Ten steps one side, twelve the other; at least someone taught me how to count. I walk along sides of cell, heart beating out of chest as I walk faster and faster until I can’t see, there is blood in my eyes from Ivan’s new work and I am sitting on floor again.

I tried to die but they would not let me. Stopped eating the food they left at door but this only made them come in and make me eat. Ivan called me a “petulant child” whole time as he shoved tube down my throat; I eat food now.

There is hole in the wall where rats once made tunnels but there are no rats here, not any more. Even they grow sick of smells of death and blood. I thought hole might reach other cell, so I try to speak through hole. Person on other side only hisses and tells me to go away. I try again. They hiss again. Later, I hear person go in and beat my neighbor until they cry, stopping at my door to say that I’m not allowed company. I do not try again.

It is too easy to think of friends and what is being done to them, ones who are alive. Jane is shell of former self and this hurts me more than I will let Ivan know. She was so bright, what I hoped I could have been but now we are same: empty but surviving. Not living.

Rell is being tortured, this is easy to know. Ivan would not let prize like that escape him. I only hope that he becomes dead to pain and he is free in small way like this.

My heart calls out for Mathias even though I tell it to quiet. He is only person I have known to be so kind and have no price. His soul will not last long which is blessing and curse for him. He will either die or never be the same; I hope his death is quick.

I do not know what will become of Ra. Some animals go to Rot as pets and this is good for them but I do not think this is his fate. Ivan hates Rot too much for this. He may be taken to kitchens as meat for a party, or given to Animal Masks as part of show. Nothing good will happen and hearts breaks more and more.

Zelkova is probably best off. Ivan knows noble when he sees one and needs money after damage from fire. Maybe he was able to bargain for freedom with this, though parts were probably sent off to his family for proof of capture. I only hope his pain was less than mine.
This is lie: Shank is best off. He is dead and not trapped in this horrible place. He was so brave but brave ones do not last long. Ivan tried to teach long ago that “bravery is just another word for stupidity” but I will never believe this.

Andre has not been back but I hear him walking outside door. He always stops, but never comes in. I know not to call out, this gives Ivan excuse to put Andre in here and torture us as punishment so I pretend to not know it is him—Ivan wins both ways. Our hearts break separate but to be in same room would be more pain for other person.

I will get out of here. I will save my friends. I will lift magic from Andre’s heart.

I will kill Ivan even if it means to lose myself too.

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Session 7 - The Fate of Rakku
Old soul, New Tricks

Rakku lay on the floor of the cell.

He hadn’t spoken since arriving.

They tried to speak to him. He simply ignored them.

The assassins must know, he realizes. But that wont make him speak.

His sharpened senses make this place hell.

Smells of death and pain and rot.

Tastes like moldy bread.

Water than ran across an ogres back.

Rakku had had enough of it.

The next time the door opened he was bolting

Or he would.

Were he not chained by the neck.

On queue, the door opened. Rakku though to test the chain, but would rather not break his neck.

Ivan. The smell was indistinguishable.

The scent of antiseptic. As if he bathed in it to wash himself clean of sin.

“Here Kitty Kitty” He hummed

Fucking asshole

Ivan approached

‘a little closer’ rakku thought, ‘Ill take your neck’

A step forward.

Rakku leaped.

Ivan countered, shoving an armored arm into the lions maw.

A rotation, Rakku was pinned to the ground.

Stitchers entered the room. The tiger’s limbs were quickly restrained. Now, looking like a cat loaf, Ivan returned him upright.

He withdrew his arm, replacing it with a contraption to force the tiger’s mouth open.

“Let me tell you something Kitty” Ivan began as he beckoned someone into the room

“When I’m done torturing you and your friends, I intent to use the stitchers to turn you all into slaves” He chuckled. “Not assassins, just horribly disfigured servants that I will display like furniture”

Jane entered the room, a pair of pliers in her mouth.

Rakku’s eyes went wide.

“But I don’t want my furniture to bite back” His tone shifted. Dark. black

Jane stood over Rakku. A Husk of her former self.

“take the twelve” He began. “leave him enough to chew food. But the canines have to go.”

Jane didn’t even respond. She lifted the pliers like a zombie.

And began to yank.

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Session 7 - The Fate of Mathias
All My Sons

The letter trembles in my hands

“Dear Father, she murdered in the night”

My son is widowed. They slaughtered his wife.

I understand the message. Its as if Ivan stands next to me, whispering “Your family isn’t safe”

I crumple it. My handcuffed arms mash the paper, lobbing it across the room. wet paper slapped the stone floor.

This empty, humid room. The stone floor sticks to my feet as i walk, spots of moss breaking up the cool and cracked floor.

There’s no escape. Hardly any ventilation.

All these grim realities made worse by the sobbing.

Endless. Wet. Ethereal.

I can feel her here. Crying for me

I slump down the wall

“Please Elenor” I beg “Please, stop…”

the room goes quiet.

Did she…

I look up.

“Hey gramps.” Ali sits on the edge of the cot.

“Aliyah!” I stand. “What are you… Wait… Don’t tell me”

“Easy. I haven’t had to do anything yet. Just keeping up on this. the future’s unwritten remember?”

That eases my mind a little. My friends live.

Footsteps.

“Hide yourself” I say softly. She nods

The door opens. Two crutches enter the room

“Owen!” I fume. How. DARE. HE

“Hello Mathias.” he starts. His chin is low. eyes shielded. Guilt. “They sent me to collect you”

“For what” I bark.

Rage. No forgiveness.

“Just come with me okay?” His leg is in a full cast. Good.

I approach the lame betrayer.

“Owen” I say softly. he looks up.

my skull bashes into his face. Teeth snap. He falls screaming, crutches fly out from under him. he reaches up to me, covering his now busted smile. I see Ali giggle.

I shouldn’t do this in front of her.

Its too late to stop.

MATHIAS, PLEASE. NO!”

“Dont worry.” I soothe him “I wont kill you”

I Stomp his cast. The plaster shatters. i feel the bones wobble underneath my weight. He screams again. Footsteps race in the hall. I wont be able keep this up.

One last kick. I go for his face. May the world know your sin, monster.

I feel his cheekbones give under my stomp, shattering into his mouth. He sobs in violent pain. I raise my leg

Tackled.

Something pinches my neck.


“Where am I” A light burns into my eye sockets. I try to move. I’m strapped down. Head, Arms, Legs, Waist.

After what I did, I understand.

I see Ali near my head. She looks concerned

That can’t be good

“Welcome back” that voice…

“Ivan” my disdain is audible.

“How good of you to remember” he walks where i can see him, looking down on me, like a surgeon

“Where am I”

“Stitchers table. Usually for vivisection, but I already know what makes you tick” He grins. If only it were he instead of Owen.

“Thank you by the way” He walks off

“For what?!”

“The punishment you inflicted” hes continues. “Owen had gotten too attached to your group. He even tried to sacrifice himself for your lot. I wasn’t even sure he would listen when I told him to betray you”

The madman laughed

“Hes a smart boy though, he knew which side would win”

Someone elses footsteps enter the room. The rattle of a chain.

“But now its your turn Mathias” He returns to my view “I know you got my message. If you should cross me again, your son will join his wife.”

i grit my teeth “You’re a coward”

He smiles

“Jane” he coos

Jane?! what the blazes is Jane doing here.

She climbs a step stool near my head. Her sunken eyes don’t see me. She says nothing. The spiked collar bites into her neck. shes covered in blood and slime.

something’s in her hand. Mechanical. many shovels on a base that looks to rotate.

“Take the left one”

she nods softly, raising the device. with a light press it hums to life, spinning with an electric whir that shrieks like a banshee. its horrid cry gleams in the bright light

“You may want to hold still Mathias. She’s never done this before” The man stares, laughing.

Ali covers her eyes

the device falls.


Blood seeps from the empty socket.

the repeated drip, drip, drip collecting on the floor.

They hung me in my cell, hands and feet bound. Right side up at least.

My body aches. This life has worn on me.

Ali enters the room.

She walks to me.

Is it…

“Ali…” I softly whisper.

She looks at me solemnly.

“Is it time?”

The moment hangs in the air.

She smiles, planting a kiss on my forehead

“I’ll see you around gramps.” she lights a cigarette. and exits.

I cant help laugh, soft and choked

“Elenor” I hum to the room with a grin. I can feel her near me once more. “Please don’t cry for me…”

“I’m sorry, but I wont be joining you yet.” I stare at the door with my eye. “There’s still something left for me to do”

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Session 7 - The Fate of Tiska
Roots

Hanging was always my least favorite of tortures

But assassins never hang those they want to kill.

Hanging is to vveaken.

Ivan tries to vveaken me

I vvill not be vveakened

But being upside down like this. It makes blood rush to head. I can’t stay avvake.

Avvake!

I’m no longer hanging.

Zis does not bode vvell

room is black. no torch

door is open, I think

Can barely make out it’s shape

Vvait. A noise.

Metal on stone. Someone drags a blade.

They come for head?

No. Assassins do not uses such methods

Man in the doorway. I believe that is sword being dragged.

“Tiska” That voice…

“Andre?!”

He slides the blade along the ground stopping in the center of the room

“Is been awhile” He sits. Big dummy

“Too long” I say “How are you…”

“Alive?” he cuts me off “I’m just as surprise as you veally. Zat day when you fled, I thought I was dead. But Ivan treasures his tools. Instead he took heart.” he touches his chest

“A first try at a new generation of assassins”

Oh do not scowl Andre. You break my heart

“What is wrong with heart?” I don’t vvant to ask.

“It has a command word. Aural. if my body hears him speak it, heart explodes.” he makes explosion with hands “Boom”

No!

“But enough of me.” sudden anger “Why do you fall for trap?!”

“Vvell…”

“Did you not understand my message?” He continues “Weeks of trying to slide a hidden message in, and you aren’t able to vigure it out?”

“No i got message I just…”

“Just what!” His anger is bad.

I slump down.

the silence takes us.

His ears perk up. He turns his head

“I will return”

“Vvait! where are you?”

He has already gone

I would rather be hanging

Light in ze hall. many people come. footsteps. Heavy.

Zey enter ze room.

Ivan.

“Oooooh. Hello Ivan” I am meek.

“Little Tiska.” he lords over me. “So good to have you home”

That stupid grin of his. He monologues. I do not listen. I watch the others. Stitchers. They set up contraption. It leeks flames about. I do not like this.

“And so” I return my attention to him. “It’s time I remind you of your roots”

He crosses to the firebox, putting on a glove. Metal glove.

Glove enters box. He turns and looks at me. The stitches come. They hold me down. No use pleading. Is this or die.

He approaches. I see metal. White with heat. The insignia of the assassins, smalls marks spaced around the fingers. Other details. Lots of surface to burn. I try to disconnect.

He reaches for my face.

burnt flesh fills my nose, his thumb between my eyes. The branding. My face. Never the same.

I scream.

and scream

no release

Eternity in pain.

He relents.

the burning never ceases.

Wish I had mirror. See how bad damage is.

“Jane” he shouts. Wait. Jane? our Jane?

She walks in. Oh little Jane what did they do to you. She holds poison.

Bad poison.

“Apply liberally. Make sure it takes”

Her sunken eyes see nothing. What have they made her do. There is blood on her hands. he smock. She douses my scar.

the burning amplifies ten fold.

This wound can never heal.

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Session 7 - The Fate of Zelkova
Pride that gleams like gold

“Good lord when did you improve”

I’m flabberghasted.

Mere weeks ago shade was unable to separate bishops and pawns in his head. Now hes got me in a queens cradle! What an inspiring little eidelon. Never the less I wont be bested so easily. I have a knight in position. All that’s left is to take the rook…

Blast. A knock on the door.

It swings open. Ivan.

Oh joy

“Hello Ivan”, I say. I’d kill you if I could

“Zelkova” He speaks to me as if we’re friends. Scum. He glances at shade “Please dismiss your eidleon”

“But of course” Damn it. I’m sorry shade, we’ll finish playing another time. Dont worry. I’ll be safe. he needs me alive

Shade disappears. The two of us are alone.

“Please” he begins “I need you to follow me”

We walk from my comfortable cell. It’s been a few days since our capture. Ivan took surprisingly good care of my wounds. The recovery period has been plesant at least. The chessboard was a kind gesture.

We walk slowly through the musty halls of brick. Torch scones and dim lights mark the way. We pass doors upon doors upon doors. No windows. Their contents forever remain a mystery.

The walk takes awhile. We walk down a flight of stairs and into a dimly lit room. Its lightly furnished. A table, chairs, something off in the darkness I can’t quite make out. Ivan strides to the table. I follow.

“refreshment?” He hands me a glass.

Lemonaid.

You swine

“I’m good, thanks” I glare

“Suit yourself”

A sudden pain, It all goes black.

Awake.

I’m strapped down. My left arm dangles off the edge

“Good gods what are you doing” I ask

“Well Zelkova Farrum, Fifth in line to being the patriarch, gatherer of heathens and criminals” he chides me. “Your family doesn’t believe that I have you”

Oh.

Well fuck.

“By the look on your face, I believe you’ve grasped the situation”

Please spare me the puns

“So you’re taking a finger then?”

“Not quite. I want to send a message.”

Im done with this

“Get on with it then” I brace for the impact.

“As you wish… JANE!

What

A stitcher leads Jane into the room. Good gods what did they do to her. She’s wearing servants garb. Half her head is shaved. A spiked collar rounds her neck. Her eyes are sunken. the metal of the sheers she holds gleams.

“What have you done Ivan!” Anger seeps into my words

“Nothing of your concern” He turns to Jane “Listen carefully. I want half his hand. Start in the middle. cut to the wrist. then snip it off. Leave him his index middle and thumb.”

Jane’s eyes go wide. her lips tremble. She looks from Ivan to me.

She approaches slowly with a tremble. She positions the sheers. The tremors make the blade dance on my skin. I brace…

“I CANT DO IT” She cries.

“Jane…” Ivan says sternly “You remember what I said right?” She looks up at him, tears welling in her eyes. He takes the chain.

JANE!” I shout. God damn him. She snaps her eyes onto me “Come here.” She approaches again. I reach out, resting my soon to be maimed hand on her cheek.

“Do as he says Jane” I wisper

“But…”

“No buts.” I place my finger at her lips “Well get through this I promise you”

I look at Ivan. he’s grinning the bastard. I swear, I’ll have your head.

“Now do it.”

I lay my hand out for her.

She lines up the sheers…

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Session 7 - The Fate of Rel
What is dead may never Die

Awake

This same cell.

Chest. Still empty

I can see them

Organs

On the cart.

Dissected.

Pain.

Unbearable.

Searing fire engulfs my empty chest.

A thousand broken bones in chorus with a pain of twisted needles in every inch and every limb

How long as it been

Fading in and out of conciousness

A noise.

The door is opening.

The stitch returns

More torture?

No.

He’s at the cart.

Wheeling it to me.

He grasps my heart.

Hes… Sowing it back into my chest?

Now my lungs.

Liver.

His knowledge of their proper locations is…

Inspiring.

Im Whole

His hands grasp paddles.

What do these

GAH.

LIGHTNING.

ENERGY.

PAIN.

My heart drums with the beat of life.

Blood seeps from the wounds.

Another device.

A metal bubble with a nozzle

he sparks

A blue flame

A burning knife’s edge

My skin burns

He sears me shut

I no longer scream

the fire shuts my wounds

The stitch calls out in a tongue i don’t speak

The door opens again

Him.

Ivan

“Hello Rel”

His voice is calm.

He knows he has control.

I don’t speak

I watch him

He paces the room

“You have quite the gift”

if only he knew.

This existence is a curse

“One that I believe I can make great use of”

What

What is he saying

“How long have you been down here Rel?”

He grins

A Joke

I have no fucking clue.

I scowl

He smirks

“Its been three weeks.”

I blink.

That’s a long time.

“Your friends are dead.”

I blink again.

Figures.

“You seems unfazed. Good”

He continues

“Rel I have an offer”

Interesting.

Go on

“I can keep you tied up and tortured. let the stitchers figure out what keeps you alive. They’re paying me quite a bit to experiment on you”

Damn right.

Im worth it

“But I believe you have better uses”

Get on with it

“Rel. Work for me”

Another joke?

no

He isn’t smiling

This is an offer

“I’ll make you a deal”

Interesting

“You kill whomever I tell you too. By any means necessary”

“I turn, I’ll let you keep any parts you harvest. You can have your own private lab to work in. You’ll be allowed to brew whatever you want. Do whatever you want. So long as you obey my word”

Generous.

Become a hit man

Get everything I’ve ever wanted

I Smile.

A reflex.

The offer is too good.

So much potential for research

So many more organs to see.

Diseases

Blood

Nothing can kill me

I can wade through death and learn the secrets of mortality

What a wonderful day

I speak with a grin

“Deal”

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Session 7 - The Fate Of Jane
How do you break the spirit

Above, the Carnival raced and raged and rambled about. Those who had survived the blaze came out of the wood work for the Resurrection of their collective chaos. Hookers swung from the buildings above. Bears and Badgers unified below.

Assassins took contracts.

Stitchers took parts.

Yet far below the madness and noise. Hidden away in the dredges of a building long condemned. There in lie an underground fortress. A nested maze of tunnels and chambers. Seeped in the humid mists that permeated the walls.

There lay Ratty Jane. Chained to a cot in an empty room.

No windows graced her cell.

The door was a thick, solid wooden piece.

The only furnishings the room offered were the pair of buckets near the bed. One empty. One full of water.

Time had lost all meaning. Having awoken in a bed of spotty bandages, their tan weave stained by crusty blood, Jane had lay in solitude for days. Maybe even weeks. She hadn’t been abandoned, the buckets refreshed whenever she slept. But the Isolation was gnawing.

The lock clicked.

Jane sat up in her bed

A visitor?

The door swung open.

Blood froze in her Veins

“Hello, Ratty Jane” Ivan’s pompous voice rang through the cell.

Janes lips drew into a line. “Hiiii~ Ivan” She sighed.

Smirking as he entered the room, Ivan dragged a wooden chair behind him. Swinging the door shut, Ivan walked to the edge of Jane’s cot.

The chair clacked to a halt. The assassin king slid onto it, resting his arms on the back, looking over its edge at the halfling. He stared with a smirk.

Jane looked at him. Then glanced around the room. The silence was as thick as Nin’s bread.

“Soooooo” she started. “Are you here to kill me, or fuck me, or what?”

Ivan boomed with laughted.

“What?!” he choked out “Oh gods no. If I wanted you, dead or otherwise, I wouldn’t have waited this long”

“Sooo… whats your game then man?” She cocked her head to the side.

Laughter settled. “No. The reason this has taken so long my fair lady, is that I was busy with some research”

“Well that sounds really lame”

“It was… Kona”

Jane’s raised her eyebrows

“Kona Umbrask, Daughter to the Umbrask family, a plain, normal, unalarmed merchant family in the Brae. They hold no special titles, have no grand wealth, just a happy family home and enough income to live comfortably.”

“Yeah that’s mom and dad alright.” Jane fell back onto her cot “Boooooooooring”

“And thats precisely the problem” Ivan continued.

Jane glanced at the man

“You don’t really care about your family Kona, You left years ago, don’t keep in touch, and hardly ever check up on them. If I were to burn your family house down and kill your parents it wouldn’t have much of an impact on you, would it?”

Jane considered the mans words. She did love her family, but they were pretty simple people. If they died, she’d be upset for a while, but she would most likely go on living without too much difference in her life.

“Yeah, I mean it would be sad, but not a huge deal I guess” she begrudgingly agreed.

“Precisely” Ivan’s mouth curled into a wicked grin “Which brings me to the problem”

Ivan gently rested a hand on her shoulder

“I could flay your skin, gouge an eye, take a hand or a limb, brand you with scars, or sell your parts to stitchers” Ivan said all too calmly. “And you would take it all in stride, showing off the wounds a trophies that give you character.”

The halflings blood ran cold

“So I have to get creative if I want to hurt you Kona”

“What… What are you going to do to me…” She whispered .

“Oh Kona. Its not what I’m going to do” He said, producing a pair of pliers from his pocket.

“It’s what YOU’RE going to do.”

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Session 6
The City Sleeps in Flames

The_party_fucks_up.jpg

The Following is an excerpt from Owen’s Diary

Dear Diary

Fuck

That’s all I can say.

FUCK

The last twenty four hours have been the most emotionally devastating, horrifying, and in some… small ways… exciting? Shae’s children what the hell am I saying.

Good gods where do I even begin with this cluster fuck.

First and foremost lets go back to church. Fuck Yoel and his violent followers. I watched a friend die to that fervor. And though he may have been uncomfortable company at times, he was a good and honest friend who truly cared about the rest of us. Atyr guide him safe across the river.

Well the keepers took the priest and we buried our body. Keepers are fucking dumb by the way. Maybe its just the fresh ones, but I bet they would sink in the ocean being so dense.

We were attacked by a man with a hand scythe on our way out of the cathedral. First he cut our escape rope from the darkness. Later he embedded his scythe in a door frame we were about to walk through. Strangely he didn’t want to fight. He had some other purpose, with Tiska I think.

Speaking of.

Tiska.

Shea’s bosom, is it right to be attracted to someone who makes you so uncomfortable? Occasionally she gets this cold dead look in her eyes that just steals all warmth from the air. Like two gemstones were set on your skin, cautiously scanning your body for weakness to exploit with an arrows head. Sometimes I watch her in battle and forget to do anything its so…

Incredible. I haven’t experienced such a thrill in years. And from a woman no less!

Well, my infatuation aside, we finally made it back to the kitten not long after the funeral. Everyone was drinking, especially me. After the day we had it seemed appropriate.

Things only got more bizarre though. We have a talking tiger now. His name is Raasha. He’s pretty alright. Kinda loose witted but supposedly hes only been “awake” for a few hours so hopefully it’ll improve with time.

I kinda lost track of what else was happening. Around this time I figured out that Tiska was just as interested in me.

FOR SOME REASON, I DO NOT KNOW WHY

I was looking for a place to sleep. It looked like I was going to hit Zelkova’s couch again, but Jane and Raasha took that option. So instead I was going to sleep in Mathias’s room. But Tiska seemed very interested in keeping me out of there.

Diary, she isn’t very subtle.

So, I decided to just fucking go for it. I got very drunk. Took my shirt off. Tried to space out in the bed so she could get close without feeling awkward. But you know what, there’s something a bit off with Tiska. All my usual charms fell by the way side. She was afraid to touch me, she slept in her clothes, she barely talked to me all night. I though she had drank almost as much as me, but from the mannerisms and reservations it seemed to me like she was stone cold sober and VERY afraid of me.

which is bullshit, but I wont force her to do anything. So we slept

It probably didn’t help that I almost murdered her when i woke up. Same mermaid nightmare. Same cold ocean.

Bright side, we were cuddling before that. That was pleasant. I had to fucking ruin it with my terrors but I’ll take the little victories.

Anywho, my emotions are all outta whack so I ended up confessing to my actual past to her. Which went over better than I expected actually.

Oh fun fact, she actually is an Ex-assassin! Which explains those ravishing eyes of deaths she stares at people with. Sometimes I wish she’d just tie me to the bed, stare at me with those eyes while running a knife’s edge across my body…

Alright before I lose myself, let me finish this entry.

So Tiska and I joined the others for a simple breakfast. Mathias’s granddaughter was very adamant that we stop the carnival from setting up so that we can prevent a slaughter in the 14th district.

The 14th district by the way is a slum where all the rejects make their home. Orc’s, Minotuar’s, Fennic, Fallen, Lizardfolk. Its a breeding ground for them. And it also happened to be suffering from a horrific plague.

That’s not a problem anymore.

So with the help of Buttercup, who apparently planted the boxes with his new group. We tracked down the music boxes and destroyed each one in turn. It went well

At least, until we got to the final music box.

The last one was different. It was being played by a man on stage while a large group of masked patrons watched as he swayed to its repetitive notes. The room screamed “you’re going to fucking die in here” So we decided to purse an alternate means of eliminating this box. Well most of us. Tiska with her gemstone eyes and deadly grace stayed and shot the music box, destroying it without an issue. She fled the building and we barricaded the door so the mob couldn’t follow.

It sounds so very controlled and planned when written out like this, but we were all in a frantic panic. Someone suggested burning the building down, and I gotta admit in the moment it seemed like a great idea. In fact, I can’t remember a single person protesting the Idea. So shank, who apparently can perform demonic fire magic, set the building on fire.

And the fire spread.

Because we were in the shitty slums.

During the dry season.

Diary. We burned down the 14th district.

All of it.

that’s roughly 100,000 people, dead in the inferno. Well, some of them were people.

I don’t really know what to do with myself after that.

We went back to the kitten while the inferno spread. Got really drunk.

And that’s when the magic happened.

All the violence and bloodshed must have gotten Tiska going. I haven’t felt such force and aggression since my days as a Shipsis. She took me like I was her property. Used me up. it was incredible. I’ve never felt more alive. I mean, I broke down crying afterward from the emotional roller coaster I had been on, so I REALLY HOPE she didn’t get the wrong idea. But Shae’s warm embrace i can’t stop fantasizing about it happening again.

I just hope we don’t have to burn down an entire district next time.

Fuck. I think I’m really in love.

yours
Owen

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Session 5
Why the hell do we keep fighting these Murderers?

Rel’s Journal

Personal Note

It’s the queerest sensation. My heart stopped. no beating. I should know, I held it.

Surely I was, maybe even am, Dead. But for some reason my body persists. Concerning, yes. But fascinating.

The Priest impaled me against the wall with his spear. A full impalement, through the entirety of my torso, into the stone behind me. My liver and left most kidney were damaged by the attack. I lost at least three liters of blood. My persistence is illogical at best.

Shortly after the fight I examined myself. The wound only oozed blood, my still heart no longer forcing the red life from my body. I was too curious to resist prodding further into myself.

The Pain was… unimaginable. Somehow intoxicating. Excruciating. Beyond mortal compare. I’ve never felt anything like the cold edge of a scalpel prying down my chest. The peeling of my abdominal walls. The hands shifting my insides.

I have now held each of my organs and examined them. Most are healthy, my liver and kidney wounded, but not beyond hope I Imagine. My heart bears no signs of disease nor poor diet. I am thankfully free of taint internally. I took some small samples. Nothing too necessary to survive, only small bits that would not be missed. Hopefully I have returned them all to their proper places.

A large sutured cut now marks my chest. After the vivisection (autopsy?) I decided to “revive” Myself, unsure if I could. Positive magics appear to still work on me, My wounds no longer threatened to bleed me out again. Chest compression and deep breaths were my first attempt. The movements spurred my heart momentarily. I needed more force.

Mathias was too wrought with sorrow to assist. Thankfully Owen and Tiska were available and looking for a distraction.

It was quite difficult to convince Owen to give me mouth to mouth while I was still conscious. Tiska flat out refused. Owen eventually relented. His technique was impressive after some coaching. Tiska was busy with compression, However, I believe her rhythm was inconsistent. Perhaps she too was inspired by Owen’s technique and lost focus.

More importantly my heart resumed beating.

I am now “Alive” again, though I feel colder than before. Perhaps a side effect of being “Dead”. I must monitor my condition as time passes. This may have been a fluke. who’s to say I wont stay dead next time?

The passing day’s events

Orgoth is dead. Lost in battle against a mass murderer who targeted orc’s. I should be I dead in his place. His fate was not deserved. But he was avenged. The Priest fell to Mathias’s… Improvisations. I detected a remaining pulse in the priest. He remains alive. for now.

We had originally set our sights on the arsonist who destroyed a near by restaurant. The Keepers suspected a Sewer Fennic, a man by the name of Leer, had a hand in the destruction. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

Leer is a peaceful farmer. He grows luminous crop and strong mushrooms. Apparently supplies scarce medical equipment to the third circle here. We were unnecessarily callous in our approach. One of Leer’s pets were slain by our hand. I attempted to put its carcass to good use, but it was impossible, too volatile to work with. Leer was… unhappy… with our decision. Thankfully Zelkova’s proved once again to be able to charm almost anything with his tongue. I should remember to thank him in the future. Leer directed us to a red woman who most likely destroyed the establishment.

Returning to the Kitten, we attempted to track the woman. Our first step was to alert the keepers. However, while we informed them, Tiska discovered that there was a very large hit out against Ratty Jane. A Mercenary was even stalking them at the bar. Her crafting abilities became apparent however. Jane now has rather convincing tiger pajamas. This outfit combined with Jane’s grand ability has most of the city convinced that she is Tiska’s pet baby tiger. The Mercenary was fooled as well. He went from hunting to hitting on Tiska at the drop of a hat. Creepy man.

It was here that Owen appeared. While Tiska and Jane hid in the bathroom, the Mercenary apparently drank too much and got into a sword fight with Owen.

Owen is a young breath of fresh air in this circle. A half-elf with grace and dexterity with a blade. He bested the Mercenary, disarming him before rupturing his heart in one thrust.

Orgoth, rest his soul, Was impressed. Owen was quickly drafted into our group.

With new Half-elven charm, we decided to track the red woman. I was delightfully easy. She was drinking in the tavern. Mathias put his mustache to work, convincing the woman that he had the best intentions for her. It almost worked.

Jane slashed the tendons in her leg. One thing led to another. The bar almost burned down. And I healed her so much she exploded. The group was rather… unhappy… with my decision. I did apologize, but her gruesome demise was a fair bit too graphic to be forgiven easily.

We were able to give her head to Leer. He exchanged it for some contraband and potions. Leer seems to be amicable. Perhaps we can work with him in the future.

With Leer’s revenge satisfied, the party gathered again. Mathias grimly informed us that a blacksmith friend of Orgoth’s had been murdered.

Orgoth was not one to let this go.

As fate would have it, the same man was most likely responsible for the bounty on Jane’s head.

We went to confront this man, an 8’ tall priest by the name of Maxwell. Maxwell turned out to be a former member of the Golden Suns, and a fervent disciple of both Yoel and Kirk. In hindsight, attacking a man who hunted and tortured Orc’s, who was also a former member of one of the most legendary Mercenary bands known to the city, was a poor decision. His battle prowess was incredible.

However, there wasn’t much choice in the matter. You see, Mathias and the others were investigating the church, and I could tell by Zelkova’s actions that he was trying to keep Maxwell out of his office. So I started spewing about science, and how there is no evidence to prove the gods exist, and well, as expected he didn’t take kindly to that. Nobody else was supposed to get hurt. If someone had gone for a keeper when the fight started… Well, best case scenario I’d get arrested and the others would be safe.

It didn’t work like that. I “died”. Orgoth died. The rest of our group barely managed to fell him. He was empowered by the dark energies of Kirk in the end, a frightful power I hope not to face again.

We will soon bury Orgoth. The Keepers are here. Hopefully they will understand the destruction. The number of tortured orc’s in the basement should prove our story.

Relevare

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