Meridian City

Session 20
Epiloge

In the vast expanse. Chuck was everywhere.

And nowhere.

His person reached far and wide. Sensation rippled his… form.

He could see it, the abandoned kebab shack in meridian, still resting in the harbor. Far away, bodies littered a battlefield. Grizzled old men laying next to the young and weary. All victims to the spreading conflict. Smoke billowed from the ruins of taverns, inns, and homes. Blood soaked into the earth, providing nourishment for future plants. The cycle of death and violence lay itself before him, a perspective that had never been seen.

All was still in meridian. Time passed slowly in this form. To Chuck, the world may as well have been frozen, as men, women, and children moved so minutely that hours would have passed before they took a single step. Brothers sat by a fire that looked of glass, nursing themselves with drink. On the mantle, a portrait of a soft eyed old man, holding a beautiful, beaming woman gazed down on them. Next door, a pair of Fennic mashed potatos in a bowl, a child and his mother smiling as they toiled.

His gaze was upon all these places at once. Like viewing a gemstone, his new existence offered him a unique ability, to view not just one facet of the stone, but instead many sides in a single glance.

Below him, the worm rider bellowed and roared. Mounted on his friend and treasure they cut at the vines, as Chuck had before him. Yet, it was a vain effort. Soon, Socks and Chad too joined the absolution.

Chuck could feel him as he entered. Their minds blended. The love for Boots and Socks rippled through him. As did a desire to burrow in sand. The desire to cook rippled through as well. Each of them now mixed into one, where Chads thoughts ended, and Socks began we undefinable. they were one, one with each other, one with Chuck. Sharing the same space. Sharing the same mind and sense. No one spoke, there was no need. Their thoughts, Their feelings were understood, shared in the purest state.

The three became one. And yet were still three. They were together, indistinguishable from one another, yet they held onto their identity. Chad was chad, Chuck was Chuck, and Socks was Socks.

And they existed this way

Eternally…
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“No…” he heard himself. A body less voice rose from the mass of existence.

“NO!”

Chuck found himself.

His will crystallized in this new place, this new state.

He could not accept this.

He WOULD NOT! accept this.

“What was the point then!” He cried out! “So many of my friends died for this, They gave their lives! For what?”

In that peak of anger, he found his skin.

Floating… A sea of nothing. He was its center.

there was no gravity to this place, Chuck simply existed in total freedom. He did not need to breath, or eat, or sleep. He was just there.

And angry.

“If i’d had known this was the result of the spell, I would have killed Toland the second I met him!” He shouted, his voice echoing off into the void.

“What of Jackie! What of the Ven! What of Brona!” He cried and cried “Damn it all! There’s so much left, and we’re supposed to just leave it!?”

He lashed. Swinging wildly. Biting at nothing. Anger became rage, and hate. The venom of perceived vengeance soaked into his soul.

TOLAND!” he roared “This is all your fault! WHERE ARE YOU! I am going to EAT. YOUR. HEART!”

He struggled about, twisting himself in the endless expanse, unable to get himself to move anywhere.

and then, his hand found a door.

He opened it.

The Feral kitten sprawled out before him, far larger than he ever remembered it. On the stage, Darius Painhammer strummed out somber tune, a dirge of sorts. At the bar, Rel rushed back and forth with glasses and cutlery, serving a dozen blank faces at the counter. Nyn bellowed and flirted. Tiska kept to her corner, her only company being Andre who swallowed a pint. At the tables, Dwynen and his sister, Spindle, Orgoth, and Thorzeur sat and drank. To their right, Mathias, Aliyah, Ratty Jane, Zelkova and Shade and laughed and shared a tale or two. Beyond them, Alden and Reginald got into a shouting match as Shank sipped on an ale and Brona laughed at them.

At the center of it all. With a bottle to his right and a book in his hands,

Toland sat alone.

YOU!” Chuck yelled over the commotion. And The Fallen looked up at him and smiled. A few others looked in his direction, but most payed the lizard no mind.

“Chuck” he smiled, “we’ve been expecting you”

Chuck felt a calm attempt to over take him, a swelling wholeness at the edge of his form. Yet, it did not rush through him.

Chuck approached the table. As he reached its edge a chair appeared. He made no motion to take it.

Standing, his eyes glared down at the magician.

“What. Did you do.” He asked, keeping his anger held back. “And where the hell are we?”

Toland closed his book, placing it gently on the table. He poured two drinks from the bottle, sliding a glass across the wood.

“we cast the legacy spell.” He said

Chuck bellowed, thrusting the glass from the table, shattering it at the foot of the stage. Liquor soaked into the wood.

YOU FUCKING KNOW WHAT I MEANT

Toland’s smile formed to a line. “Ascension” he spoke calmly “Beyond the scope of life, beyond the grasp of death, without need or want. a Unity to end all conflict. We are becoming something that has never been seen in this world before, a greater sum of all our experience”

WHY!” His temper spilled into every word, the flames of emotion soaking the scene.

“Because it must happen.” Toland looked down “Whether we were prepared for this or not, the next stage was coming. We could not exist here for ever.”

Chuck shook his head “That doesn’t make any sense! Our home is here! Meridian, The circles, the swamps, the oceans!” he slammed his hands on the table “We can’t just leave all of that!”

Looking around, the Lizard man spoke again “Where is this? It can’t be the kitten”

“It is” Toland spoke, looking about the room. “Rather, it is your Kitten”

The two made eye contact

“You summoned this place Chuck. Through pure force of will you created the place you thought you’d find me, and filled it with your memories. All of this is a sum of your experiences played out before you”

Chuck broke the gaze, shaking his head. “Then, you aren’t here? none of this is real?”

“we are. Spindle, Thorzer, Bella, Juji, the crew of the ship, everyone is here just as you are, we all see, and experience this in a myriad of ways, from a hundred perspectives” He spoke calm, yet somewhat somber “Except for you, you do not share yours”

Chuck closed his eyes “I don’t accept this Toland. You and I, we ain’t one”

“But you rob yourself of change! of progress! The chance to truly feel what your friends feel, see what they see! Experience a new reality, a power that this world has never seen!”

I AM ME” Chuck shouted “NO ONE ELSE

Tears welled in the fallen’s eyes. “Chuck… we only want to share this with you”

“THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT

A silence graced the bar

The room was empty, half finished drinks littered the tables with burnt out candles. The dusk of moonlight graced the floor.

Toland looked up a Chuck

“Chuck, if you do not accept this, you will be left behind”

the lizard squinted “What do you mean?”

“We are leaving Chuck.”

“Where”

he shook his head “A place you can’t understand. If you saw it in your current form it would not make sense to you, you wouldn’t be able to comprehend it. It is a place beyond this one, folded into the fabric of what you understand and what you cant, the space between words”

Chuck thought for a moment.

“What about Spindle’s family”

“they will be coming too, Spindle is already speaking to them. They will join us”

“And the others. They’re willing to leave? No protest?”

“Yes” he spoke “Some feel they must. Others can’t stand this place and wish to go, but all who are we are ready”

He grit his teeth.

“Then go.” He turned his back to the Fallen “GO. LEAVE AND LEAVE THE REST OF US.” Chuck shouted, tears in his eyes. “NEVER RETURN AND NEVER SPEAK OF WHAT YOU LEFT

He reached for the jade blade, perhaps out of reflex, or instinct

And he plucked it from the void. The deep green of the blade shimmered into existence, a monument of beauty crystallized in the moonlight. A honed edge of emotion. Love, anger, pain, joy, sorrow, hope, and struggle. Everything compressed into it.

JUSTLEAVE!”

He spun about, and swung

tearing the bar asunder

Toland too, was halved in the strike.

Light poured through the crack of reality, spilling into the bar like a flood

The world collapsed in on itself,

in its center, Toland sobbed. He looked up at Chuck, and did his best to smile

“You are our brother Chuck” He choked out “we love you, and hope you find what you need, we will not forget you”

and the light took them both.

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Chuck saw them, the floating emerald figures in their bulbous states. They gathered their vines, retracting them from the world. There were fifteen, compressing into one another. The jade became a cream, and the color swirled into a new shape. These luminous vestiges reformed, before suddenly springing upward in a blur of light and color.

In the first circle, the Fennic said good by to their neighbors. The little one waved his yellow gloved hands, the limp pinky flopping in the motion

“My husband found a place for us” the wife spoke to the brothers “We’ll be joining him there soon” The brothers smiled and nodded, wishing them well.

Inside the brothers home, Mathias stared at the picture on the wall. He felt the cool hands of his lover wrap around him in that moment. resting Emily at the foot of the fireplace he smiled too, and vanished.

The brothers returned to find the blade alone.

In the second circle a lone corpse wore a face of laughter. His golden tabard was stained black from blood. Around him, hundreds of corpses lay in shambles, none sporting his colors. His grey beard remained pure in the horror.

In the third circle, the carnival played as a small skeleton stole farming equipment and dragged it into the sewers.

In the fourth, the nobles overthrew their captors and spilled back onto the streets.

and in the fifth, a bald dwarf let out an exasperated sigh, cleaned himself up, and visited his courtesans.
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The last of the emerald things turned to stone in the air, before suddenly splitting in two. The meteors of its change splashed into the ocean, creating great waves. Spindle joined the remaining host, as did the ship, its crew, and Bella.
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Sometime later, Chuck awoke on the sands.

bolting up, he checked his scales. He was whole, and normal. In his hands, his jade hewi, and the adamantium blade rest against the coarse ground. the blade danced at his command, still containing its power.

Above, no trace of the creatures he had seen. He was alone on the beach

and quite hungry.

The dancing blade made fishing a breeze, and before long a dozen fish rest on sticks over a fire. The smell wafted into the air as smoke curled in the seaborne breeze.

Suddenly. a rustle in the bushes.

The lizard man stood, all his swords ready.

A man, cloaking in foliage burst forth from the ruins of the island, sprinting and screaming at the top of his lungs!

SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
h1. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH
h1. DUUUUUUUUUUUU
h1. UUUUUUUUUUUDE

And he tackled the stupefied Chuck.

the two tumbled to the sands

CHAD?!” Chuck let out an incredulous laugh

“Oh Chuck! YO~, Sorry brah, I didn’t see who it was!”

the two stood, dusting themselves. Both looked at each other, smiling a bit. Socks crawled out of Chad’s armor, returned to her smaller size.

“Hungry?” Chuck asked

Chad “I’m Starving Brah!”

little socks let out an “UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHGH” in agreement. And the three sat to eat.

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“So how did you make it out?” Chuck asked after a time.

He munched a fish as he spoke “Oh, of those blobs? Well its crazy brah. See I was all gung-ho ready-to-go about it all, but then Boots’s memory of the desert popped up and I realized, Socks has never been to the desert! This made me all sad dude, so I thought, man what if theres no sand where this blob goes? I cant do that to socks! And then i woke up in that dry puddle”

He finished his fish. “So now I’m gonna take socks home.”

“Huh” Chuck munched slowly, memories of his friends, and that place he had been danced in his head.

“Say” Chad started “How are we gonna go anywhere? the boat is gonzo!”

Chuck spun around. ‘Shit! he’s right’

“Uhhhh… Maybe we can find another way.” He began “lets search the island tomorrow”

“Sounds gnarly brah!”

and the three slept under the stars.
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the next morning the duo awoke, fed themselves, and went onto the isle.

the ruins sprawled out before them. Words they could not read, art they could barely process, architecture of a time long lost, all this and more dotted their journey around the isle. There were no boats on the coast, nor off in the distance. The ruins offered no materials or ships either. the two searched high and low for any hope, before finally they ended up back at the Well of Souls.

There, a man rest on a rock, looking up to the sky.

“No way,” Chuck started

YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” Chad shouted. Chuck whipped his head to stare at chad, jaw slightly agape

The man looked up “Chad? Chuck?”

“Dol?” The two cried in unison

The three moved quickly to one another, gathering on the edge of the well, its waters slowly beginning to refill.

“Dol, what in the name of the swamp are you doing here? I thought for sure you’d stay with Toland!”

Dol was taken aback, his eyes dropped and he smiled gloomily.

“Yes, I would have” he started. “but I couldn’t”

the two tilted their heads.

“See, in that place, my doubt crept over the world like a fog. Doubt in what we had done, it what we were doing. Everyone felt it, and everyone was looking at me, even myself. Doubt turned to guilt, and in my guilt I found myself unworthy of what was happening” He looked up at them “I don’t deserve such a fate”

Wind blew through the ruins, no one spoke for a time.

Chuck finally rest his hand on Dol’s shoulder “Its okay. They’ll remember a friend as good as you”

Dol smiled at that, and raised his head.

“So like, I dont wanna ruin this but we are super trapped on this island dude. Do you got any of that blasting teleport stuff?” Chad interupted,

Dol looked at him. “Yeah, but for three people its a one way trip.”

Chuck let out a yodle. “Then lets go to me old kebab stand! Ill whip us up a meal to fill the void in our hearts”

the three laughed.

Dol grabbed the pair

and the island was left with a

Bang

View
Session 15
Everything old is new again

HOW IN THE NAME OF SWAMP-FUCKERY DID THIS STICKY SCALE SHIT HAPPEN AGAIN?” buck whooped as his entourage rushed through the Freys manor. Guards crawled from every door and hallway, shouting expletives and drawing weapons as the rag tag group followed their cleric through the home.

The cleric took a sharp turn left up a flight of stairs. Behind him, boots wriggled his way into the tight hallway, Chad hollering from above about how “radical” this was, a “totally gnarly ride”

A guard charged Buck as he turned to the stairs, only to be evaded by the lizardfolk. A jade blade sprouted from his chest, and soon after the unfortunate scum dropped to the floor, dead.

“i MEAN SERIOUSLY” Buck wiped the blood from his sword, stomping his way up the stairs “I AM SO DONE WITH BEING A WANTED CRIMINAL

“you were a wanted criminal?” squeaked the druid, eyes wide with curiousity

THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT IT!” Buck shrieked as boiling oil began to flow from the ceiling.

It had all been so simple, the lizard folk thought to himself. No more assassins, no more fires, just a simple life cooking Kebabs by the ocean, only rousing to beat the occasional drunk into paying for his food. Life was stress free.

Hell, even the first forray back into adventure with his new friends was a joy. A simple life on the road, rowdy taverns with good food. and Melted cheese pots! The joy of that meal nearly making up for the tragedy that followed.

If only the cleric hadn’t challenged that noble.

If only the rest of the group hadn’t gone in after him!

“WE COULD HAVE JUST LEFT” Shouted Buck. The cleric eyed him, then snapped his fingers.

Buck continued to roar, only, silently. The others could feel the strength of his voice, but magic muffled the tantrum.

The door opened, revealing a freshly awoken Margret Frey.

She seemed more annoyed than angry.

The group quickly tried to sign to one another on what to do. Their mime-ry quickly turned to unintelligable flailing.

The cleric quickly dispelled his magic

“-AND FUCK THOSE GOD DAMN SHIT DWELLERS WHO BROUGHT US HERE” Finished buck.

the party looked at him. Then back into the room.

All their options considered, the party quickly executed the most sensible plan.

They grabbed the cup.

And jumped out the window.

View
Session 14
"There's no happy endings for people like us..." - Andre's last words

Once upon a time, in a city of progress and squalor. A noble was born by the name of Zelkova Ferrum. Lucky in birth, Zelkova grew without knowing the struggles of life, his every whim provided by all manner of servants and common folk.

That is of course, until the day assassins slaughtered his family.

utterly ruined by hidden blades, the Ferrum family survived with only a tenth of their members alive. Zelkova and his sister Zen avoided this fate, but it cost them their benevolent mother. Frightened and enraged, Zelkova swore to someday avenge his wounded family, and restore them to the status they once held.

The two children grew together, studying the arts of science, magic and combat. As they did, a rift divided them. Zelkova honed his skills in Summoning, where as Zen walked the path of the traditional Wizard.

Reaching maturity, Zelkova departed his family home for The Brow, Meridians third circle of Industry. Over the years this prosperous circle had fallen into disrepair, a sweep of technological advancement leaving the masses in poverty. This squalor was revolting at first for the proud and clean noble, but his goals outweighed his disgust.

In pursuit of his goals, the Ferrum found an active bar with a very lively clientele. It was here, at the Feral Kitten that he would come to know his closest companions…

Long ago in the fields there lived a simple man by the name of Mathias Clyburn. Strong, Reliable, and honorable to a fault Mathias lived a life of honesty and diligence. His golden years were spent as a Keeper, using his natural strengths to keep the criminals of the field under control.

It was an uneventful and rewarding life. Children would smile at him in the streets. Citizen would offer their praise and respect. Only a few criminals presented a real danger, most were just unruly or desperate. After years of service Mathias met and took a wife, a beautiful woman by the name of Eleanor. Together they lived a happy decade or two, raising two strong and healthy children.

However, fate had a cruel way of torturing the good.

Eleanor was taken young. Dead to an aggressive disease. Her passing shook the Clyburn household. Mathias was lost without his life long love.

Initially, he did his best to channel this grief into his work. However, the sadness was too much to bare. The house was cold without her smile. The garden grew weeds she once plucked. Clothing hung dusty in closets. All the marks of life lay still collecting in a living museum of the heart. It was too much for the aging keeper, His children grown and away from their childhood home.

To cope, Mathias decided to retire. The mausoleum his home had become was too much to live in, so he left, traveling to the Brow in search of a good bar to drown in, or perhaps someone to grieve with…

Meridian was no stranger to dark deeds. Too this end, a powerful guild of assassins had formed named so creatively, “The Assassins Guild”. Such a dark and terrible body came with many dark and terrible deeds, including kidnapping children.

One of these children was a helpless young girl by the name of Frantiska Alanova. Abandoned as a child, frantiska wandered the Brae as an orphan. Eventually, a nun found her and placed her into an orphanage. It would not be long before a father came for the girl, a man by the name of Ivan Alanova. Ivan gave the girl a surname and brought her to his “Traveling Caravan”. This caravan however was not some innocent group. Ivan was in truth, the eldest and strongest Assassin in The Assassins Guild. His acquisition of Tiska was not an act of love. It was recruitment.

Tiska spent a youth in the pain of training. Assassins prove themselves to be harsh parents. The slightest mistake was met with the lash of a whip. Tiska knew pain. Hunger. Struggle and suffering. Her body was marred and marked by the guild, suffering the modifications of Stitchers so that she may never think of anything other than her charge.

As she grew into maturity, Tiska met a younger man by the name of Andre. Andre’s life had began as Tiska’s, an early recruitment into the guild. He was nearly “dismissed” (murdered) by Ivan one, the punishment only dismissed by the intervention of Tiska. The two grew to love one another, and made plans to escape their life together.

This plan however was poorly executed.

The two were caught, and brought before Ivan. Ivan decided that punishment was in order. Andre shouted that it had been his idea and to this end Ivan claimed he would execute him. Tiska however, was given a suicide mission.

“Kill the Ven” he said. And sent her on her way.

Tiska and another assassin took to the fifth circle. Infiltrating the Ven’s mighty tower. They stalked through the halls. Carefully creeping closer and closer. Finally they were upon him, working late at a desk all alone. Her compatriot moved to strike.

Tiska however, chose a different path.

When the battle ended, Tiska stood, covered in blood over her former companion. The Ven, somewhat shocked that someone had infiltrated his tower, never the less betrayed the assassins guild, offered his gratitude and promised Tiska a favor in the future. Tiska accepted this and ran.

and ran.

and continued to flee the guild, staying one step ahead of capture and certain death.

At the end of this, Tiska ended up in that very same bar, keeping to a shadowy corner, taking odd jobs from unsavory men…

Some men do not come into tragedy, they are born into it. And in meridian, all Orcs find themselves born into tragedy. This was the fate of Orgoth Hellskull. Born to a rather aggressive tribe of Orcs, Orgoth was bread for a single purpose. Infiltrate, undermine, and eventually destroy meridian. His brothers entered him into the city when he was young, telling him to make a life for himself, and prepare for the coming raid.

What the Hellskull’s didn’t count on was the joy’s of city life. Orgoth was quickly won over by The Brow. the dirty circle offered him plenty of work as a strong piece of meat. A bouncer one day, a protest breaker another, any job that offered Orgoth a chance to throw his weight around was a job Orgoth wanted.

Eventually, he lost contact with his clan. Changing his last name, he made a mental note to warn somebody about the Hellskull’s plan. However, the countless fights and drunken nights would quickly wash all memory of the plan out of the man’s mind.

Orgoth made a second home of the Feral Kitten. There he met his greatest friend, a very, very ugly dwarf by the name of Buttercup. Malformed and shrill, Buttercup proved to be a very angry and powerful companion, able to keep up with the orc who often stood three times taller than him. The two started many a bar fight at the kitten, often breaking, and then paying for tables and chairs and glasses and cups…

Some who came to the world come by means unknown. Such was the fate of Rel. Rel belonged to The Order, an organization of scholarly healers. Rel joined them for means Unknown, perhaps just to gain knowledge or to help the needy.

However, Rel was not always Rel. His life started as Bartholomew Alderoot. This former identity was repressed by The Order. Whips and starvation. Floggings and tortures. The curious man’s former life was quite literally beaten out of him.

Years of service to elder members, days spent in isolation away from the realities of the city, time bled together until Rel finally reached the pinnacle of his service. After such a period of diligence, Rel was allowed a request. “I want to see the city” said Rel “I want to know what life is like out there, learn what i can, help them”. This temporary passage into the world was granted. Little did they know he would never return.

Rel quickly found himself overwhelmed with the real world, ending up drunk, broke, and homeless within a score of days. To remedy his situation, he found service as a bar hand at a rowdy little place in The Brow…

Often enough monsters are not born, they are created. Such was the fate of a Frey who would come to be known as Shank.

Before his turning, Shank was a simple arcane researcher. He lived a plesent life with a wife and daughter, only leaving the comforts his royalty provided to go on expeditions with his peers.

On one such occasion, the academics found themselves a perfectly preserved jar of Demonic Blood. Such a find was unprecedented, and excitement filled the room. Unfortunately, this excitement would lead to carelessness.

Exiting the ruins, the explorers triggered a trap and were quickly engaged by a protective spirit. Its strength was immense, slaughtering the would be mages with ease.

Desperate, Shank drank the demonic blood in a bid for power. And power he did receive.

twisted malevolence filled his being. His flesh was torn asunder, large sharp bones protruding from every limb. Hellfire swallowed his soul, and a terrible fit of madness overtook his mind

Hours later, he came to. Surrounded by the corpses of his companions and the guardian spirit.

Realizing what he had become, Shank knew he could not return. He decided to let the world think he was dead, until he could cure the demonic taint on his soul. He assumed the new name and wandered to a rowdy bar in a dismal place, where a tortured soul would fit in just fine…

Some souls are not fated for glory, fame, fortune or meaning. Some are victims are ennui, afflicted with wanderlust. This was the life of the halfling, Ratty Jane.

Born Kona to a pair of unassuming parents, Ratty Jane grew up bored. Life was comfortable enough, always enough food, always clean clothes and a warm place to sleep.

But never the less boring.

With no prospects other than joining her family in their mercantile trade, Jane decided to take fate into her own hands. In the night she packed what little things she cared to take and stole off into the night.

On the backs of wagons and horses, sometimes kidnapped, sometimes kidnapping, Jane wandered the lands on a grand adventure. This would eventually lead the wandering halfling to the third circle of meridian, The Brow.

Jane had only one weakness. Beer.

Lots of beer.

Yet sadly, all of the bars she frequented only poured her Halfling sized cups. A pitiful amount in the wanderers eyes. Her quest became one of ale, glasses tall and strong. her dreams were of pools of golden liquid, so rich and thick that she could drown in it.

Eventually, she would find a bar that catered to this gorging fantasy. a dirty, homely place in The Brow…

Far to the north of the city, past the mountains there exists a twisted swamp full of danger. Spiders whose bite could paralyze an elephant, the vicious Tiger Tiger with its six legs, and other beasts wander the musky ground. It is here that a small sect of Lizard folk make their home.

One of these tactless lizards was the happy chef Chuck.

Chuck liked two things in this world. Hunting and Cooking. The swamps had made him a clever hunter, able to stalk prey and gather food in a pinch, but his cooking was limited by the meager wares of the tribe.

To remedy this, Chuck made for meridian. An exodus that would eventually lead him to a rowdy tavern full of hungry mouths…

Fires are a great concern in the dense circle of The Brow. Disrepair and poverty over the years made the building particularly vulnerable.

This would eventually lead to a great fire in the 14th district. Its flames licked the walls like a demon consuming souls. When it finally burned out, over 100,000 lives were lost. In this great blaze, Dwyene and his sister Merella lost their family home.

The two had already dedicated themselves to fighting The Dark Carnival and their kidnapping Hookers. The loss of their home only cemented this path in life. The two searched on and on for a new home, before finally finding a rowdy alehouse in the 9th district, staffed by a friendly Orc Woman…

Often times, Life in The Field is very plain. Uneventful town and farming life makes for gentle existence. However there are some towns shrouded in secret, marred by mystery. it was in one of these places that Alden made his home.

The place was normal enough. Farmers farmed, merchants trades, and the mayor did the paperwork on it all. This Mayor though, would eventually become a problem. Overtime, taxes increased. People were strangled by new regulation and mysterious disappearances of their crops and goods. Eventually all these problems pointed back at the mayor.

However, the mayor was not idle during this time. He undertook a shifters pact, eventually gaining the powers of a great bat.

When the town came for him, he showed his true colors. And came for them.

Madness, terror, flames. The whole town burned. In a night it went from fair to foul.

Alden, wracked with the horror of his home destroyed, swore to inflict the same pain on the mayor. The two met in combat, and Alden nearly slew the beast. He escaped by the skin of his wings.

This process continued. Alden chased, found, and nearly killed the beast.

Again

And again

And again.

They ran from circle to circle. The beast first, Alden never far behind.

Eventually, the chase led Alden to a rowdy bar in The Brow. he knew his charge was close. He need only wait to find him…

Not all souls were cut out for service to the city. The work of a keeper is honest, diligent, and checked by self restrain. It were these qualities they looked for in prospective hires. And it was these qualities that were lacked by Reginald.

Orphaned young, Reginald spent much of his early years in an orphanage. He grew up mostly alone, wracked with the pains of solitude. That is until one day a Keeper named Mathias turned up.

Mathias mentored the abandoned youth, serving as one of his only friends. The noble man inspired young Reginald, who made it his dream to become a keeper.

This dream was undercut by his own failings.

Reginald lacked the self restraint of a Keeper. In his eyes, the guilty deserved punishment, and to this end he was the weapon of justice. Where many would capture a criminal, Reginald was apt to make them suffer first. It was this cruelty that kept him from joining his once dreamed of job.

He got angry. Blamed his old friend, and walked the path of a mercenary, taking any good job for the right amount of coin, dishing out justice as he saw fit…

These were the souls would would one day find themselves in service to noble Zelkova and his Ferrum family. And one by one, they would die for him. Twisted by the ambitions of a man who sought honor for his kin.

Orgoth would be the first to go. A serial orc killer was on the lose. Orgoth wasn’t happy with that. He fought bravely and died all the same. Yet, in the end his spirit was not satisfied in death and found a host to carry on within. Thus the tiger Rakku came to be. Rakku would disappear at during the Skeleton Wars…

Rel would be the next. In an attempt to catch that same murderer, he was impaled by a spear. By all accounts his life should have ended there. However, Atyr seemed to have plans for him, and thus he continued to live, a hollow dead thing moved by will. He would later be captured by assassins, and disappear…

Shank would be the next to go. Surrounded by assassins, wracked with regret over his choices in life, Shank chose an honorable end. Empowered by as much magic as his body could handle he fought bravely to save his friends from the same fate. In the end, he died for nothing. His friends were all captured despite his sacrifice…

Then, there was Dwyene. Honorable and willing, Dwyene fought in the Tournament of Nobles on behalf of Zelkova. And in doing so was run through by a sword. His death was swift, he did not suffer. It was a better end than the rest.

Then, one fated night, long after the fires set by Zelkova’s group. Long after they had slain the Ven, the skeleton war, the loss of the Feral Kitten and its mother, and set yet another flame upon the world. Sin finally caught up with them

Rel returned, less human then before. Yet, perhaps he had become something greater in return. In his charge, Orgoth, now part tiger part orc followed him. With two others, they set a grand trap of Zelkova and his minions, as punishment for the sins they had committed on the world.

First, Tiska and her lover Andre were lost. They had come so close to a happy life away from the city. The horrors inflicted on them by The Stitchers cleansed in the Well of the World. Yet, they fell all the same…

Next, Mathias was killed. Beaten to death by his old friend Orgoth, a now monstrous threat. Perhaps Mathias was the only shred of good left in the group. Perhaps he had let himself become more twisted than he knew…

In a final act of redemption, Zelkova sacrificed himself to kill Orgoth. “You must live” he said to his sister, dying with the hope that this act would mean something. Yet. He died for nothing, his family did not survive.

Reginald fell from the sky onto Jane, who died never really having lived at all.

Reginald would be next, slowly hacked to death by Rel, whose immortal body absorbed all their pathetic attempts to skirt death.

And last, Alden was slowly beaten to death by Rel as well.

In the end only Chuck remained, having skirted death merely by being at the top of a building where Rel could not reach him with broken legs. The immortal man offered to let him live. And the lizard took the offer and fled.

Rel remains the only soul who knows that Chuck did not perish that day.

Well…

Except for a scorned lover…

View
Session 13
Sin and Punishment

Embers floated in the air, red fireflies against the cloak of night covering the city.

Burnt flesh, screams, the horror and madness of this tortured existence festered around the adventuring party.

Mathias trudged on. His eyes glazed slightly, bloodshot from the smoke. Nearby on horseback his sons slept in the saddle. Soot covered and exhausted they hung limp like corpses as the beast trotted along.

“Where did it all go wrong” the old man muttered.

Things had been… Strained… since the end of the tournament.

His friend had been understanding enough to help save his children. Along the way slaying slavers, an unstable ogre, saving Salad…

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. In flames. Everyone known and loved extinguished in their wake.

“We were trying to help” He looked to his companions. Despite the chaos, Tiska and the now younger Andre seemed almost happy. Perhaps they had seen to much to let this effect them. Their faces showed no sign of joy, but never the less there was an ease in their posture as they walked shoulder to shoulder.

By comparison Zelkova was a husk. His eyes had sank deep within the confines of his face. Boney features protruded shaded by the soot in the air. He hardly are, didn’t sleep. The weight of his families death, or perhaps just the weight of failure was threatening to break him. The fire didn’t seem to faze him in the slightest.

Jane looked similar, more animated, but somehow defeated. The small enigma of a woman wore a face of sorrow in these days. Occasionally a smile would take its place with a joke over a meal, or an innocent question, but it always faded into melancholy after awhile.

Comparatively, Reginald was Iron. Unchangingly stone faced and stern, his expression and stance never gave away any hint of emotion. The only real character came from crude jokes and spewed insults

Alden, while maintaining his usual stoicism, radiated in unusual fashion during the exodus. His eyes shifted often, scanning the horizon, or the night sky perhaps searching for his prey. However, on occasion Mathias would catch him leering at a party member, sometimes with curiosity, othertimes with disgust. His instability seemed at home in the raging inferno.

And then there was Chuck. Though his scales proved to be a soot magnet turning the normally vibrant lizard folk a very musty grey, he carried himself in an optimistic whimsy. As he walked, he played with his new dancing blade, using it to perform tricks for Page who at times even laughed at the childish display.

No one spoke of the well. No one wanted to admit what they had seen.

Somehow, they were still together.

But tensions were high.

“Our purpose has been lost” Mathias admitted to himself. “We were unified against assassins, as Ferrum champions. But now…”

“Now we’re criminals. We’re responsible for this” He monologued to himself, or perhaps to someone that could not be seen.

The man looked at his companions. He had such high hopes for them over the months. But the weeks past in near constant disappointment. Using illegal magic is public, wanton killing and thievery, Setting fires with no regard for the innocents.

He wondered how many had died to their recklessness.

How many souls he had to atone for.

“Grandpa” the faint voice broke his concentration

Mathias blinked. Looking to his left. Aliyah had appeared.

“Ali-” he began. His breath stopped short as he looked to his granddaughter.

Scratches and cuts rended her flesh. deep gashes colored in shades of rot and stink. no blood flowed fourth from her wounds, only a blackish crust gathered in a few of the marks.

“Something is coming Grandpa” She groaned, a tortured curl in her lips “Something that shouldn’t be here anymore”

“W-what” He stammered. “What is coming? Who did this to you!?”

“Black magic Grandpa. The foulest Kind” She whispered.

“I- I- Are you okay?”

She nodded. Her eyes pierced his. The paleness of her eyes erased all heat from the flames around them. The old man shivered.

She choked back tears as she spoke, “I pray you won’t see me again grandpa”

He opened his mouth, reaching for the small child.

and grasped at open air.

He stood still, arm still outstretched at the empty spot where she stood. .

The others walked past.

Reginald turned, stopping his stride

“Mathias?” he called “what is it?”

Mathias blinked. “Did you not see that?” he turned to the heavily armored mercenary.

He cocked his head to the side. “See what?”

The keeper took a deep breath. “An omen” he started. “A terrible omen”

As the words echoed in the flames around him, two ravens flew to the old man, resting on his shoulders. He looked to them for a moment. A deep pain radiated in his chest.

“We need to move. Fast” he said, pushing past Reginald.

“What? Why?”

Mathias looked back and shouted.

“We’re being followed.”

View
Session 12
The Shattering of Five Circles

At the end of the Tournament of nobles, The Ven was slain.

The carnival hid his body, but produced his wares. The world knew of his demise.

The new Ven – Rotrer abolished the government.

Her first and only act.

In wake of this news, a vacuum of power appeared. Forces from all sides rushed to grasp at the corpse of the empire.

The First Circle turned chaotic. Fires and famines raged. People turned on one another. Bandit lords roamed and the keepers were powerless to stop them. That is, until the Shaebearers rallied the remaining keepers. The Religious captured the bandit lords, subjugated them to their ways and spread their influence. The whole of The Field now worships Shae over all other gods. Their opposition, the sane men, are all but wiped out as any opposition to Shae and her mandate is seen as heresy punishable by death. Spiou serves as the Mother of the fields, the leader of the new Religious kingdom.

The Second Circle never descended into anarchy. The largest of the Mercenary groups banded together to form “The Union”, a republic of warriors. Other groups who refused to join or attempted to take for themselves were swiftly routed by the mercenaries. Though this union has subjugated the circle, infighting and squabbles are regular. No formal law was ever drafted, but it is common knowledge that disputes can be settled by a duel to the death. It is recommended to have a witness to the duel, as killing someone in cold blood is still quite illegal. Despite the change in rulers, the Brae’s function has remained unchanged. Traders and good flow in and out regularly.

The Third Circle was considered all but lost to the carnival until an armada of clunky automation took to the streets armed with steam sticks. Slowly and awkwardly they drove The Carnival out of a few districts, securing their borders with massive blockades of steel. The mastermind behind this revolt was none other than the famous inventor Oswald Grotto. Few understand his reasons for liberating a handful of districts, but the populace is delighted to not live in the endless chaos of the carnival.

In the fourth circle two noble families split the land. To the east, the Horus family held dominion, with Noblis enforcing strict rules on trade and travel. To the east, The Frey raised their banners. An army of conscripts and knights patrolled the streets. The remaining noble families have been made to fall in line, their titles and riches consumed by either faction. Despite their normal animosity, the sides seem to have an unspoken agreement not to interfere with the plans of the other. Their forces have been seen working together on regular occasion.

Finally, the fifth circle is ruined. An endless battle ground where all strike out to claim the Ven’s tower and the trade routes throughout. All factions appear here, even an unorganized force of chaos representing The Carnival. Lord only knows who will emerge victorious.

View
Session 404 - Part 1
Chris's Drunk Adventure

The following has absolutely nothing to do with the events in Meridian

“By golly that was an intense session!” Danny spoke with a real humdinger in his voice. Around him his gaggle of friends walked in an air of enjoyment. Though night had fallen and the streets were coated in the shadows of a Sunday morning, the group glowed like a second sun, reminiscing about lemon scented Skeletons having nearly slaughtered them en mass.

“Yah!” Geoff chimed in “I cant wait to see what happens next time. Do you think we’ll have to kill the last two necromancers?”

Cameron piped up “I Should hope not, This one nearly burned our nose hair!”

Laughter echoed through the street.

“Well gee” Danny said with a hum “This is my turn. Gooooooooodbyeeeeeee!” his arms waved like a drunken eagle trying to stay in flight. His friends all waved back as the roaming jolly slowly broke apart, each child wandering of to their own bed.

Scanning his badge, the blonde bandit made for the spooky death elevator, his eyes assaulted by the incandescent lights burning in the lobby. With a ding the doors slid open. Finally back to his room, Danny spoke out loud to himself in that way he always does even though his roommate was already in bed, asleep, snoring quite loudly.

“Oh Jeez, I sure am exhausted from dungeons and dragons. Hopefully I get a good nights sleep tonight and can tackle my job at Gamestop tomorrow!” He said. and then fell, and the covered himself and slept.


Ernest tried to blink. His eyes barely moved. Every limb stiff. Frozen in the cold. The faintest twitch broke the stillness. A wiggle of toes. Then fingers. Legs kicking, arms frantically trying to break out of this invisible hold. They finally moved. Reaching forward. sturdy, cold plastic met his fingertips.

With a hiss, the pod opened up, dumping Ernest to the floor. Pinkish-red, curly hair flopping down onto his forehead. He struggled to stand, hearing more hissing noises. Around, Icy floppy bodies fell onto the cold metal ground.

“Danny?” he stammered out

“Ernest?” The man replied.

“Guys?” Geoff added

“I’m here too!” Maggie called, face down on the floor after failing to catch herself

“What the fuck… Where the fuck” Ernest rubbed his head. He scanned his surroundings. Eventually, he spied a large black rectangle, spotted with little white dots. He blinked,

“Oh fuck no”

“What?” Danny asked, having pulled himself and Maggie to their feet.

“Are we in fucking space?” He yelled

“What!” Geoff looked out the window “Oh fuck, how did we get to space!”

“Wait, space!?” Maggie asked bewildered

“I fucking guess!” Danny threw his hands up. “What the fuck are these things anyways!” he kicked at the plastic pods the quartet had awoken from. “Gah!” He grasped his foot.

“I dunno, stasis pods?” Geoff mumbled. “Is it just us? maybe the others are here too”

“Why the fuck would they be here?” Ernest shot

“Why the fuck are we here!” Geoff shot back.

The four all stood, staring at one another.

A voice crackled through speakers above, a deep and brass like voice rang through the static. “Uh, ladies and gentlemen, this is captain Otto speaking. Prepare to jump to hyper space”

Geoff and Ernest went wide eyed. “No fucking way”

“Wait” Danny interjected “Isn’t Cody’s middle name Ott-”

The ship lurched forward. The whole party dumped onto their asses. Pained groans echoed out of the room.

“God damn it, is this the space campaign?” Ernest called. His question was answered by a sudden seizing of the ship, followed by a great grinding explosion that rocked the vessel

“What the fuck was that!” Maggie cried.

“Probably the left most engine ripping off in hyper space” Geoff groaned “We gotta get to the engine room!”

“Why!!!” Danny and the others had stood at this point. They faced a strange rectangle with a button on it, a device they assumed to be a door

“The engine room was the only safe place in the space campaign! If this is the same place, then we gotta get there!”

The door opened.

Everyone gasped. A salvo of curse words shrieked into the air as the innocent boys and girl stared into the horror of their new reality.

Ahead, a corpse riddled with holes lay broken on the ground, clutching a large metal gun of some sort. His blue robes were adorned with religious iconography and large flowing tapestry.

Everyone paused.

“Okay fuck this” Ernest pulled out his cellphone. Its display lit up revealing the date “Libris Proto 40XXX”. By some stroke of divine favor, he had service.

“What are you doing?” Danny asked

“I’m calling Chris.” Ernest dialed.

The Phone rang,

“Ernest, whats up?” Chris answered

“Chris what the fuck”

“What do you mean, what the fuk?”

“We’re in fucking space!”

“You’re what?” Chris replied, incredulous. “I just left DND dude, Quit fucking with me”

“I am not fucking with you!” Ernest yelled

“Bullshit!”

FINE” Ernest tapped at the screen, flipping it sideways. The others watched as a flash of light captured the spectacle ahead of them. He tapped a couple more times before returning the phone to his ear. “Check your messages!”

A moment passed.

WHAT THE FUCK” Screeched out of the phone.

“Christ! Volume!”

“Sorry! But how the fuck are you guys in space!”

“I wish we knew!” Ernest yelled. “But this feels like the space campaign!”

“Fucking really!”

“Really!”

The two continued to chat as Danny and Maggie made their way down the hallway. They checked the corridors, finding them empty. The walls were covered in strange scripting and symbolic imagery. The only discernible markings were a trio of signs with arrows pointing down the various hallways. Their meanings were lost on the two, the symbols designating the rooms were indecipherable.

“Well, the dead guy looks like a tech-priest.”

“The hell is a tech priest?”

“Its a servant of the imperium of man, from the Warhammer 40k universe.

Ernest threw up his hands. He groaned “Of course It is! Why! Why is any of this happening!”

“I don’t have a fucking clue, but if it really is Warhammer you need to be on full alert if you want to stay alive!” Chris scolded. “That universe is unforgiving.”

Geoff inspected the dead body. There was little of worth on him save for a very large gun with the words “BOLTER” carved on the side in plain English.

Searching the walls, Maggie came across what looked to be a communications panel.

“Look, Ill be home soon. I gotta check on something”

“Alright, call me when you’re there” He hung up the phone.

Maggie called out “Hey, maybe we can ask for directions!” she pointed at the console. The others looked over at the strange square object. An obvious red button stood out next to what appeared to be a speaker.

“I got this” Danny stepped up to the console. he mashed the button and began to speak in a firm voice. “Engine room, Report”

A deep and familiar voice crackled out of the speaker. “This is the engine room!”

“Cody?!” Danny’s voice returned to normal.

“This is Cody 26 yes”

“Cody its Danny! Wait, 26?”

“Oh hi Danny! I didn’t know you were aboard this ship.”

“Never mind me, why are you here?”

“I’m the engines guy. Been here for yeaaaahs” Cody responded

“What, wa- okay never mind, Cody we need to get to the engine room, how do we get there?”

“Just follow the damn signs!” Irritation peaked through his voice.

“We cant read these signs!”

“What are you dumb?”

Danny was stunned. “Okay… what symbol represents the engine room?” he turned to the signs. “There’s a skull with lines through it… one thats got some weird triangular shapes… and the last one looks like a penis.”

Silence crackled through the speaker.

“Whats a penis?” Cody asked

Time stopped for a moment. Every face in the room stared in bewilderment.

“What the actually fuck” A small slap echoed from Ernest’s hand meeting his brow.

“Cody what the hell is wrong with you” Danny chided

“Excuse you!” he barked “You’re the one who cant read! Just follow the rocket okay?”

Everyone blinked.

“The rocket is probably the dick.” Maggie muttered.

The group collected themselves around the corpse. Ernest stared at the gun. “I don’t think we’ll be able to take that” Geoff added in. He looked off to the right. “Its as big as your chest” As he looked back, The gun had vanished. His eyes went wide, he looked up to find Ernest stuffing something in his back pack.

“What!” He exclaimed “How?!”

“Lets get moving” Danny called from down the hall.


The quartet made their way. In front, Ernest led, followed by Geoff, then Danny, And finally Maggie.

The long winding corridor went mostly straight, only curving slightly at points. The group passed a few crossroads, still continuing to follow the dick on the wall.

After a few minutes, another corpse appeared.

“Hold up” Ernest whispered, signaling for his friends to stop. Geoff peered over his shoulder, then broke into a sprint past him. “Geoff wait!”

Geoff grabbed the corpse. Its head rolled limp onto its shoulder, its glossy dead eyes staring into oblivion.

“God! Damn it!” Geoff screamed! “Its Cameron!”

The rest of the party rushed over. Cameron’s corpse was riddled with similar holes as the one before him. He was dressed strangely, adorned in robes and tapestry that coated him like a priest. He was not alone in his dead state, on the opposing wall, a little further down, a massive bright blue armored man lay unmoving as well.

The group grieved. Anger, sorrow, despair. Waves of emotion rocked them. Ernest looked away, filling his despair with visions of the metal man in front of him. He leaned in to inspect him closer.

A great weight pressed upon his shoulder as the Ultramarine in front of him came to life. His hand held Ernest firm, the gigantic hand making the stout man look puny by comparison. Despite his injuries, the marine moved with such swiftness and precision that Ernest had neither seen nor felt his movements until the hand already held him.

“Battle brother” The marine called out, delirious

“Uh! uh, Yea, yes! battle brother! I am here!” Ernest sputtered

“You must warn the others, Chaos boards this vessel” The hand dropped, clanging on the floor. The others looked over at the noise. Ernest looked back wide eyed.

Geoff looked back to his dead friend. A curious book was clutched in his hands. Curious, Geoff took the tome and began to read through it. Curious arcane texts, numerous and indecipherable appeared. An energy surged through him, tinting his skin red, then rouge. He blinked, closing the tome.

A sudden chill filled the air. Maggie looked down the hall.

A strange, shape staggered in the dark. Its formless, numerous legs lurched about underneath it, bringing it closer and closer. It shook violently with every motion. A subtle, violent shriek oozed from its maw.

“Guys” Maggie called to the others. “Guys we gotta go. We gotta go now!”

The creature charged.

RUN!” The four scattered. Danny tripped. Ernest grabbed him. They made for the nearest door.

Looking back the creature morphed. Its pinkish blue skin shining in the darkness. It raised what one could only believe was a finger. Tendrils of lightning streaked down the hall. The blasts narrowly missing.

The door in front of them opened.

They dove in.

It slammed shut, keeping the creature at bay.

“Is everyone okay!” Danny called

The others groaned out their living state.

“Oh hey guys”

The four looked over. Standing by a console near the door “Stood” Cody. His normal tall, narrow form was instead replaced with a slightly green, blobby form that only resembled his normal shape. instead of his usual drab, an orderly uniform was submerged in the goop the dribbled from his skin.

“Fucking Christ. Cody?!” Ernest managed.

“I am Cody 26 yes” He answered.

Everyone worked to their feat, staring at their oozy friend.

“Cody 26…” Geoff started. “So there are 25 other Cody’s?”

“Well there were. They’re all dead.”

“Oh!” Geoff stammered “I’m sorry?”

“Don’t be, I was cloned well after Cody 25’s demise.” he tossed out.

“Huh” Geoff could only stare.

While the two spoke about everything and nothing at all the others inspected the room. A set of laser rifles adorned the nearest wall, four guns and what looked to be a strange headset. Around the room a large generator that had some kind of cyborg fiddling with it, a door leading into a back room, two windows streaked with the bleeding light of hyper space.

“And so now we’re trying to figure out how we got here” Geoff finished

“Well I can’t really explain that.” Cody 26 shugged. “Maybe you can ask the commander”

“The commander?”

“Yeah, Maggie Prime”

Maggie whipped around “Wait what?”

“Yeah. Maggie Prime, Leader of the Sisters of Battle, and commander of this ship”

Maggie mouthed a silent ‘what the fuck’ as the others swallowed their surprise. Danny disappeared. He was still in the room, somewhere, shouting when talked to. The others mostly ignored his disappearing act. A plesant smell of fresh homemade cooking filled the room from no discernable location.

“G E N E R A T O R, F I X E D” The cyborg announced “P R E P A R E F O R W A R P”

“Wait” Ernest turned. “Zach?-”

The ship lurched. Space folded in on itself. darkness stole the world.

View
Session 11
All Souring is sweet to me

Among the bones and the ash, piqued by an overpowering aroma of lemon, marked by the metal dust of a once cursed artifact, sat Mathias. Sword in hand.

The victory felt hollow. A necromancer defeated, the blade destroyed, Snottle-kek sent back to the grave. But the price was steep. The plague was ravaging him and his friends, tendrils of infection burning through his veins. His coughs now came with blood, and his muscles ached with a pain somewhere between laceration and ignition.

Toland had managed to survive despite taking some nasty blows early on, The fallen sat in the center of his circle, faint trails of magic emitting from it as he stared blankly into the room.

Darious Painhammer, bard of the Kitten, friend to the party, and reliable support lay dead in the sewer. His last visions of a titanic skeleton and his horde. The party payed their respects as best they could, two coins on the eyes, clutching his guitar.

Around the ex-keeper the party grieved in their own ways. Dwynen and Merella held each other tight, the two having nearly lost one another in the battle. The two were a mess of sobs and anger and bellowing laughter, a frightening mix that gave an uncomfortable optimism to the air

Jane sat off alone. She seemed surprisingly calm despite losing her dominant arm, her brow furrowed like a pair of tongs desperately trying to grab a passing thought. Now and then she would pick up a stone and throw it with her left arm, watching it sail, a small smirk on her face.

Zelkova managed to keep his composure despite the massive lacerations his flesh now sported. At his side, shade gleefully padded the wounds with cloth. He spoke softly with Alden, whose skin shared similar wounds and the marks of the plague. Shade did not touch Alden.

Tiska sat off to the side with Andre. She had propped him up on the wall, his wounds too severe to allow him to stand just yet. Pained grunts rang out from time to time as the assassins steady hands applied rough sutures to the wounds of the man. They argued in a playful, almost childish way.

Lastly, Chuck skittered about the battleground. Skeletons offered no food to be cooked. Their stores of lemon-ale were certainly promising, but with no food to cook with it he was lost. The only scraps he managed to collect were barrels of bone meal, a find he could have made bread from with some yeast and an oven. However, his efforts were fruitless. Sitting upon the sewer soaked dirt, he began stringing together another necklace.

“Another suicide survived” Mathias grumbled. “Where does the madness end.”

“War is hell” Mathias turned to find the fur-matted leer approaching. “If you all hadn’t killed the big one, the war would have claimed most of this circle.”

He took solace in that. “That is true, and the thought bolsters my spirits yet…” He looked down at his blade. “We were thrown into this haphazardly. No plan no assistance from the city, Just a man with a wheel ordering us to die”

The room took notice of the conversation.

Mathias sighed. “Being a keeper used to mean something. Respect, unity, care. Nothing was done without careful preparation. Now it seems our lives are worth nothing more than the rot we become”

Leer rolled his eyes. “Welcome to the Brow.” he chided. “There’s too many people, not enough help. The damn autos ruined the factory life and forced people into homeless poverty. This filthy circle does nothing to provide for its inhabitants. its a cesspool of all the filth and unwanted masses of meridian.”

The tiny furry beast pointed at the keeper. “And that includes you”

Mathias closed his eyes. A deep, slow breath left his lungs. He stood.

Leer broke his gaze

“anyways, I have good news.”

Ears peaked, eyes looked to the man.

“there’s only two necromancers left. The city managed to get two others.”

“Great” Mathias dully emitted.

“And” He continued "With the destruction of the blade, it appears the skeletons have weakened drastically. the militia has managed to push through and reclaim several districts.

Spirits brightened with the news. Even Mathias grinned quietly at the thought of this war being over.

“Considering circumstance, is amazing we managed to do this” Tiska chimed in abruptly. “I mean, think of it. We pretended to be skin skeletons, escaped factory trap, Zelkova taught us to walk like the dead, we all swam in water, and Jane even survived her arm. Like, ya, is sad Darius died but If we are being realistic many more of us should be dead now”

Everyone stared. Tiska looked back blankly

“Vvhat?”

The looks subsided.

More time passed, eventually everyone got back on their feet. Leer said his goodbyes, quickly leaving through a secret tunnel behind where the necromancer had sat. The rest of the group gathered to discuss their next move.

“I suggest we regroup on the surface” Zelkova began “Even weakened we’ve seen the kind of threat these skeletons pose. We shouldn’t risk running off on our own until they are finished”

“Thats all well and good” Mathias added “But I would prefer it if we let the city handle the last two. We shouldn’t risk our own lives this close to the tournament.”

“See I reckon we outta go boil up them bones ourselves, Them scaleless soldiers never was too good at crackin the dead.” Chuck countered

“If we are to believe what Leer said, The city can handle it. The skeletons are weak. It may take time, but that is time we need to rest and recover. Not to mention we need to get this plague cured!”

“We may not have a choice” Toland finally spoke, eyes glowing in the center of his circle. The crowed looked to the mage.

“One of the necromancers is in the kitten”

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Session 10 Extra
Janes Diary: THEY HAVE A BONE TO PICK WITH ME

MAGGIE WROTE THIS ONE

Dear Diary,

As a quick note There needs to be more dead people in my life. They make great listeners!

Anyways, I woke up this morning at the Kitten, with an aching neck on account of sleeping face-down on the table down in the tavern. Buttercup was still there, although all my buddies had taken off somewhere, which I think was kind of rude. They didn’t even leave me a note!

So I drank breakfast, and then I was feeling really awful. I don’t like to write about this sober, but I was stuck in an awful place for a long time. And I guess I started telling Buttercup about it. Bless his dead, dwarven soul for being so patient with me, no matter how inflexible his position has gotten.

Anyways I told him about the torture and the assassins and the faces and oh my god it was so unspeakably (crossed out text)

Then I had an idea to make myself a mask after that discussion with Buttercup. It honestly felt like the right thing to do at the time. After a bit of thought, I realized I could just cut up some nice leather to make something to cover my face, so I started looking for the person with the nicest leather wallet. I found this noble-looking moon elf lady walking down the street so I snatched her coin purse right out of her pocket! There was an unbelievable amount of gold in there, too! It made a lot of noise when I dumped it out on the ground, so then she obviously heard that (duh) and started chasing me or whatever so I bailed. The purse was pretty cute, too. All purple and lacey and stuff. I tore it up and poked some eye-holes in and I was good to go!

So I took off down an alley to go cool off, and I also borrowed some other halfling’s laundry that actually fits better than my other clothes do since getting held in a secret assassins lair for a month and enduring all manner of torture and misery without beer or any other form of alcohol makes you lose a surprising amount of weight. I’ll give it back to them when I’m done with it, I promise. I guess this was the back alley of a baker’s shop too cause I found a thrown-out bottle of vanilla extract! I chugged that right away.

Anyways I started to head towards the general store to get some supplies, I think. I don’t actually remember at this point. I remember striking up some conversations along the way about how I wish I was better at jerking ogres off than cutting off people’s fingers. Or the eyeballs thing. I don’t think that made me many friends.

I forgot what I was going to buy at the general store when I got there, so I just started wandering around. The shopkeep kept on standing reeeeeally close to me too the whole time, like he thought I was going to actually steal something from him. Or he wanted to smell my hair or something weird like that. I ended up in front of the tools section (heh) when I saw there were a bunch of pliers in there, and then I got this awful feeling in my gut and I got super sick all of a sudden! I ended up puking all over this poor shopkeep, and I felt so awful about it that I grabbed a carton of eggs and ran outside.

I kept running and running and then some keepers started yelling at me about wanting somebody called Grand Lars N.E. for something. I didn’t want them to think I was suspicious in any way especially after that coinpurse thing so I ran away really fast. And they kept on following me! I started climbing a building to get away from them, which worked pretty well. I started hopping blocks heading left for a while, then I climbed back down. But just as I thought I wasn’t being chased anymore…. they appeared!

Not the keepers, the SKELETONS!

I’m pretty sure these were the same skeletons Leer had in his lair. Leer Lair. hehe

But these guys seemed pretty sour about something. Almost like they wanted to hurt me! I started running back the way I came cause I did not want to deal with them.

But then I ran into the keepers again!

They rounded a corner as I was escaping the skeletons, so they ran into me and also gave me a good scare! I tried to warn them about the skeletons, so I told them “Skeletons!” and then I remembered they probably wanted to arrest me or something, so I threw my eggs at them.

That didn’t work too well, and they pinned me to the ground in about five seconds. Being short sucks sometimes.

So then I got dragged off to the crime zone. The sin bin. The prison-wison.

At least it wasn’t that prison.

When I was being herded into the holding cell I caught a peek of that Art-Work guy reading some folders or something. Though I don’t think he’ll give me any more money or do that funny thing where he turns purple once he finds out I’m in Actual Jail. I figure it’s best to keep quiet and stay out of his way for a long while. I almost feel bad about that.

Anyways I spent a few hours in here with the other degenerates of the Brow. Am I officially a criminal now? Literal, actual, scum of the earth? It’s probably better my legal status has caught up after what I’ve done to my friends. They took my new mask, too. It’s kinda weird they’re letting me use this quill for my diary while I’m in here, though.

(Crossed out words here)

Anyways, so while I was sitting in the cell writing the whole building caught on fire! Crazy right? Keepers were freaking out and running all over the place. Prisoners were going crazy too, I mean, so was I, I wasn’t exactly happy burning to death in a cage. Thankfully one of the older guys ran over to us with a key and led us out of the burning building. I spied some boney boys with torches whacking the walls as we gathered into the back of a cart and sped off.

Did you know horses can run really fast? I see so few of them these days. All the skeletons and the burning building disappeared as the cart raced off into the night.

Anyways, I’ve got to stop writing for now. We’ve reached this familiar looking factory and are carting everyone Inside. All of us lawbreakers are getting re-caged in these makeshift boxes. At least I have my own private space here. I wish I hadn’t thrown my eggs. I’m hungry.

I miss my friends. I hope they’re alright.

Kona

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Session 10
Will we ever go home again?

Sobs echoed through the underground.

Refugees cupped warm bowls, wrapped in ragged sheets and tattered rags. The stew, a boiled amalgamation of a few carrots, potatoes, and what scraps of meat that could be found was distributed meagerly about. A stale, watery taste was shared.

Off to the side, The Wheel men spoke in hushed voices, taking bites of jerky as they eyed the ragged men and women who took shelter under the factory.

Near by, in a small tent, Chuck lay restless. Sleep was impossible, the arid cries of those unfortunate enough to have lived through the skeletal assault tore through his scales like a frozen wind.

His stomach growled. The stew was too light to satisfy or fill, not more than warm water with a hint of taste. No spices existed here to improve the situation. His tongue whipped about in his mouth, dancing at the memory of curry and pepper and allspice. Rolling over he grimaced, trying to think of something else.

“Chuckathy” the tin voice rang from outside the tent. The lizardfolk sat up.

Zelkova was of the queer folk, a strange and unnatural kind considered noble by the city. Chuck didn’t much care for the addition to his name, but he enjoyed the company Zelkova gave. With that, Zelkova always had many thinks to cook

“You called boss?” He asked, stepping from the tent.

“Yes, I managed to gather some small supplies. Please cook them as you see fit” The noble brandished some salted beef, a meager bags of spices, and trimming of fat on a string. Plenty enough for Chuck to stew.

The two sparked a fire, setting to work on their meal. The others gathered around, drawn by heat, or smell. Little was said. Survival had been more fluke than favor. A grim shroud of despair lingered, peaked by the misery that rang through the empty warehouse.

Ages past. The water bubbled. The spices marked the thickening water as the lard dissolved into the mix. The meat rose and fell, its brownish red edges coloring. The aroma was the only plesant thing in the atmosphere.

“She’s ready” Chuck broke the silence. With care, he ladled portions into bowls. The rations were small, but at the very least filling. Far more so than swill the rest of the encampment ate.

and so they supped.

With bellies full, spirits lifted. The occasional grin could be seen passing between Dwynen and his sister, or exchanged between Tiska and Andre in that stoic and silent way they shared.

Off to the side, kek’s and clacks could be heard as bread attempted to teach a squad how to speak Crypt. But the effort was futile, the various clicks were difficult to distinguish, let alone speak. A few recruits even chipped their teeth in the process. Tiska grimaced remembering the trials of learning at a young age. Years spent on the effort, and two teeth lost in the process.

“After what happened, d’ya think our waterhole still stands?” Chuck thought aloud

“Most likely” Zelkova answered "From what we’ve seen, the Skeletons are not concerned with damaging the infrastructure in this area. Their efforts appear to be focused on eradication of “the parasite”

“Yess’m” Chuck agreed “I just hope the girl’s waiting for us when this is over”

“Vvell at very least, is not burned down” Tiska chimed in. Zelkova paused momentarily, then continued eating his stew. “Unlike last time”

“Yes that is very good” Mathias hummed. “But not good enough I think” He stared off into the distance. The plague showed on his face now, skin visibly strained by the infection ravaging his body. He and Alden sat further away from the rest, isolating themselves.

“Well, we are alive” Dwynen rose. “As long as we live, we have a chance to take our world back.” his sister raised a proud fist in agreement.

Mathias eyed him. “The enemy is immortal. They do not sleep, eat, tire or cease their efforts.” His voice cut the room. “As if that was not enough, they weaponize the plague, while at the same time invoking powers from the lemon sword that defy any sane logic we have applied to the situation”

The whole group stared at him. He blinked, then shifted in is set.

“Forgive my harshness” he apologized. “These days have taken their toll”

The moment lingered in the air. the party looked from one to another. Tired, battle soaked faces filled with fatigue and pain shared their anguish with one another. Smiles faded, eyes drooped. Tiska shuffled into Andre, who gently pulled her in with an arm. Dwynen and his sister sat back to back parallel to the fading cook fire. Zelkova covered his mouth, staring into the dirt. Alden looked at Mathias. Then broke the silence.

“You’re just airing out what we’re all thinking.” He gave the geezer a pat on the back. “This is a bleak situation.”

The archer looked to his companions. “But thankfully, we do not bear this weight alone.”

Heads nodded in approval.

the party rested around the fire once more.

tranquility, marked by the occasional sob, was ruptured by an approaching guitar strum. Heads turned, spying the approaching form of Darius.

“Hail Painhammer” Mathias started. “I am glad to see you alive.”

“Yup” He drew his mouth to a thin line.

A moment passed, everyone starting at the bard.

“Anyways, I think you all may want to come see this”

The party exchanged glances, then rose, following the bard across the camp.

The harrowed faces of forlorn souls and wounded innocents marked the journey. People begging for aid, crying from hunger or for lost loved ones. Off to the side a quarantine held those who suffered from advanced stages of the plague. Horrid puss ridden sores marked limp and lifeless bodies, gasping as they clung to the final strands of their existence. Rotted fingers and extremities littered their floor space, dried pools of blood and rotted bandages festered in the ick. The Keeper and the Scout grit their teeth, praying they could cure themselves before they found that stage.

The air was suddenly filled with a small and powerful voice. It gnashed at the bars that held it, offering either death or a good time depending on who was being spoken too, in exchange for freedom. The noise first bred confusion with the party, an emotion that blossomed into surprise and disbelief. The group picked up speed, racing ahead to an area sporting makeshift cages. Behind bars, thieves, killers, profiteers of the helpless, and there, alone in a cage in the back, guarded by the larges of the wheel bearing men, Sat Ratty Jane.

“Jane!?!” Zelkova shouted in disbelief. Jane looked over, suddenly quiet, then smiled as her friends approached her. “How in the name of the five did you end up here?”

“Funny story actually” She rang out into the air, smiling as she spoke. “Would you mind busting me out of this cage?”

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Session 9
The Snottle-Keks Strikes Back!

His boniness sat drumming his fingers against the driftwood chair. Around him, the ranks of the dead gathered their compatriots. Crushed and melted bones swept into buckets and boxes, hoisted by the boney brothers to the great mill.

One by one the containers emptied into the mill. The crunching mulch of bone under stone rang through the sewers. bone meal rushed from the container into the drum at its base. One by one skeletons hefted their cracked and rusted tankards into the drum of meal, pulling half fulls cups full of their grinded dead.

More of their brothers gathered great containers of rot-brew at the sides of their home. A festering, skunky brew made from the various fungi and glowing grains of the sewer farms, spiced with the sour of the guiding citrus. Tankards filled, mixing the thick and slimy brew with the dust. The legion of liberated bones gathered in front of their leader. Snottle-keks stood from his chair. A small, child skeleton fought against gravity, forcing herself to raise a heavy, ornate tankard to the master of the lemon legion. Snottle-keks smiled, or rather would had he the muscles to do so. He patted the littlest skeletons boney head, taking the tankard from her.

“My bleached brothers” his voice scrapped against the edges of the sewer. “We raise this drinks not in defeat, but rather, in remembrance of our fallen brothers and sisters”

Cheering ke’s clacked in agreement, filling the sewer with a harmony of echoing clicks.

“Though we may have lost the sacred blade, we have gained a great knowledge!” He hoisted the tankard high. “With this brew! Soaked in the arid dusty corpses of our fallen we grow stronger and wiser against the parasite that seeks to enslave us!”

Clacking ke’s rose to a crescendo.

“We now know of the prophet and his location! We know he holds our blade! Our Scoutelkens have watched them and studied their weakness and our rebuke will be swift and brutal!”

A final clacking cheer shuttered the foundations of the sewer, All the skeletons raised their cups. A sicking swirling garble, like a goldfish struggling to swim in a half inch of water, resounded from the glutenous skeletons. Snottle-keks himself downed the sour brew spiked with his kin. Wiping his glossed teeth, he left his brothers to their revel and retreated to a chamber further back.

Deeper within the sewer, behind the slimy bricks and walkways stained with grime and gunk, a hidden chamber opened revealing a round table. As his boniness entered, four skeletons, wrapped in poorly stitched together suits of flesh covered in heaps of ill-fit clothing wobbled to attention.

“Your boniness” They spoke as one

“Scoutlekens” he replied “Report”

“Sir” The one on the left, dressed as a portly woman spoke “The prophet and his companions take refuge in a tavern known as the Windy Kitten. They spend an extraordinary amount of time their quaffing sour-less brews”

Snottle-keks wished he could express his dissatisfaction with the knowledge that anything would choose a brew without the grace of sour in it. “Those Sinners. Go on”

“Of course” he continued “Recently they have made several exhibitions to the northern district where parasites have been falling to an unknown ailment.”

“Yes” another chimed in “This ailment is known as ‘the plague’, a deadly thing that kills the parasite but spares the bones within”

“A sign from our divine” Snottle-keks stroked his jaw “How timely that it should appear as our crusade begins”

“I agree your boniness” To the far right, a saggy skinned old man, chimed in “It must be the work of the sour”

“To continue” the portly skeleton spoke “They entered this realm searching for a cure for the shadowy parasites facial wounds. They found a parasite there that could do it”

“The parasite always seeks to hide its bones from the world” The final skeleton, whose stolen skin could not be seen under the exorbitant wraps of fabric covering it, kek’d

“After meeting the parasite, the prophet and the other parasites entered our domain. With the help of the enslaver they destroyed dozens of our brothers and escaped on the wings of a very big shadow”

“Yes, i was there” Snottle-keks spat “Thank you for the report my scoutlekens, now I have a new mission for you”

“Yes your boniness” they all hummed

Snottle-keks tried to grin. and failed.

“Gather as many of the fallen parasites who were in the area with the plague.”

His boniness clacked savagely

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