Meridian City

Session 1: Frantiska's Journal
And so, It Begins

The Following is an Excerpt from Frantiska’s Journal.

Dear Book

in hindsight, better to avoid well dressed men and little girls at bar.

Somehow, I have been coalesced into work for strange noble man. I am best member of team of rag tag maniacs. You have Meat, who punches. Bird, who sows wounds. Mummy, who is porcupine man. Rat Jane, who is nice lady. Grandpa, who needs shave. and Snowflake, who tries too hard to talk. oh. and Snowflakes Shadow. Weird creature. Eats glass.

They are okay people. Is weird to have… Comrades, again.

We fought automation. Didn’t need the help. Comrades got in the way. One arrow took it down. My arrow.

no reward for Frantiska. No need for it.

Crow man tried to get me to work for Carnival. Never again. We smashed the boxes. Infernal music will not ring here.

Sister found me. Carnival moved to Brow. Most dangerous. Won’t let them take me.

Need to plan for future. Comrades dumb, but good people
Frantiska

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Session 2
Nothing bad can happen at the zoo right?

“And I’m sayin you’re full o shit!” Buttercups shrill voice pierced the quiet air in an unfamiliar tavern

“No really!” Orgoth chimed “They’ve got two more legs in the middle. Lets em climb better”

Buttercup gtoaned “What the hell were you even doing at the zoo?”

“Well it was either that or die in a cell for murder”

“wait wha-”

“SO THERE WE WERE AT THE KITTEN” Orgoth interrupted

“A bar fight broke out. I Lept into the frey, fighting everyone at once! I must have knocked out twenty people!” he boasted

“News flash tall dark and ugly, I WAS THERE” Buttercup rolled his eyes “You struggled to fight two farmers before I tackled your bitch ass to the ground”

Orgoth Glared “If memory serves i punched you straight to deaths door”

“IT WAS A CHEAP SHOT

Orgoth stood. Buttercup leapt the table, tackling the orc to the ground. The two errupted into a flurry of limbs. Other patrons gathered and cheered. Suddenly, the dwarf flew into the crowd. Angry cries erupted as farmers and merchants laid into one another.

The bar flew into a frenzy
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

“So as I was saying”

Orgoth wrapped his ribs. Around him, dozens of farmers lie unconscious, many sporting suspicious orc sized bruises. At his feet in a puddle of blood yet lacking any obvious wounds, Buttercup lay breathing heavily.

“Shortly after the brawl we found a dead girl up in Rel’s room.”

“Bird boy?”

“Yeah him, Apparently the dwarf was cut open with care. She was missing her heart. There was some charcoal shit on the wall too.”

“Not gonna lie I think that’s fucked” Buttercups pitch woke a unconscious man. Orgoth leaned over, Whapping him on the head. He grunted and slammed into the floor.

“Yeah, it was bad” Orgoth tied off his ribs “Nin said it was the work of Stitchers, and maybe assassins from the carnival”

“Wait aren’t stitchers those guys who put bodies together then resurrect them” Buttercup inquired

Orgoth shrugged “Wouldnt know, never met one” he paused “But I hope i never do”

“So after that the keepers showed up and closed the bar for a few days. Half of my group wasnt even there for that, they left to this weird guy’s shop.” Orgoth looked up “Hey wait, do you know Travis? the Fennic?”

“Oh yeah Travis!” Buttercup raised his tone “He and I are old war buddies! We fought together against the legions of the damned”

“Wait really?”

“Fuck no!” Buttercup laughed, a piercing shriek that would have confused a bat “Who the fuck is Travis?”

Orgoth squinted “Hes a weird fuck that sells sex drugs i guess. I wasnt there. Apparently he told the others about Tiger Tigers”

“Again with these six legged bitches” Buttercup rolled his eyes

“IM NOT MAKING IT UP I SAW THEM

“Suuuuuure”

ANYWAYS” Orgoth stood, walking behind the bar he carefully stepped over the Tender. Grabbing a pair of glasses he filled them with swill. As he returned to his ugly friend, he produced some coppers from his pouch, tossing them at the unconscious barkeep. He handed a cup to Buttercup.

“So everyone and their brother wants to go see a tiger tiger. I didn’t give a shit, but I had to stop by my apartment briefly so I tagged along for a bit. The party identified these swords we found in a trash mimic”

“The thing that nearly ate the halfling right?”

“Yeah she almost gets eaten a lot it seems”

“Heh, dumbass halfling” A crooked grin spread across his disfigured face.

Orgoth ignored him “Yeah so turns out the one just looks like a creamsicle and the other makes everything taste like citrus”

“Wait” Buttercup suddenly made eyecontact with the orc “What would happen if you ate a lemon?”

NOT YOU TOO” Orgoth raged.

YOU WANNA GO AGAIN BIG GUY

FUCK YOU

FUCK YOU TOO

the two stood, starring at one another.


both sat at a near by table. Buttercup gently picked the glass out of his face while orgoth bandaged his forearm.

“Its times like this that I miss Rel” The orc spoke

“Yeah” Buttercup agreed “So what happened next”

“Well I decided I was done being retarded for the day” Orgoth started

“well thats a first” Buttercup muttered

“And I left to find some work. Everyone else went to a fruit market on the way to the zoo”

“TO BUY A LEMON?”

YES TO BUY A FUCKING LEMON

The Dwarf smiled, The Orc groaned

“So I found the raven man. He asked me to shake down some stands at another market”

“And you killed the guy instead”

“NO. I DID NOTHING” Orgoths dark cheeks flushed into a warm brown.

“Right” Buttercup hopped off his stool and waddled to the bar for a refill

“Things didn’t go as planned at the market, and i got locked up. But thankfully the Raven man bailed me out” Orgoth continued “It was lonely in jail so i decided to go to the zoo to convince my friends to stop being retarded”

“Wait what happened at the fruit market”

“Well this is second hand, but from what they told me they bought lemons”

Buttercup leaned in, eyes wide

“The blade made the lemon taste extremely lemony. Like it was 20 lemons in one. Surprisingly good from what Ratty jane said”

“Damn, I wish i was there” Buttercup lamented

“Oh by the way, did you know the noble hates lemons?”

“No shit? what a weirdo”

“Right? Anyway so everyone but him tried it. But then for some reason, shank wanted to try it again”

“I mean i wouldn’t stop”

“Gross. Anyway, shank collapsed under the taste of the lemon. When he woke up he could only taste lemon, no matter what he ate. His spiky bits were tinted yellow, and he had a refreshing lemon scent”

Buttercup slammed his cup on the table “LUCKY BASTARD

Orgoth raised an eyebrow “Anyways… So they made it to the zoo. From what I hear, there was a dead hippogriff as they walked in. Great zoo.”

“Those things are fun to ride”

“Im not going to ask about that” Orgoth sighed “So half of the retards were looking at puppies while the ex-keeper and the noble looked at the corpse. Bunch of weirdos”

“Kinda sounds like youre the weirdo”

“IM THE ONLY SANE MAN IN THIS GROUP.” Orgoth stood, slamming his palms on the table “AND THAT NOBLE IS PLANNING SOMETHING I JUST KNOW IT”

Buttercup jumped up on the table “AT LEAST HE DOESNT LIE ABOUT MURDERING PEOPLE

“HE DOESNT MURDER PEOPLE.” Orgoth spat “HE HAS HIS SHADOW EAT THEM

YOURE A FUCKING LOONY” Buttercup pointed at him

Orgoth took exception


Wooden splinters littered the two brawlers. Pieces of the table they once sat at littered the bar. Both picked the wood from their leather-like skin

“So did you know the keeper has a creepy granddaughter?”

“Really? I didn’t think keepers had dicks”

“oh come on they have to, they’re always fucking everything”

“Heh”

“But yeah, she just appears out of nowhere. She showed up at the hippogriff and talked to the keeper and the noble for awhile before jumping the fence and touching the corpse”

“Gross”

“I think she said her name was Ali or something”

“That sounds familiar for some reason…” Buttercup trailed off

“Yeah I felt the same, but I’ve definitely never met her before.”

“Well i like my women weird” Buttercup smiled a sick grin

“How about cold? it felt like she was made of ice”

“I can work with that”

For the first time since they met, Orgoth felt some manner of disgust for his dwarven companion.

“Ignoring that” Orgoth continued “Everyone else stole a puppy. That actually turned out to be a bear cub raised by puppies”

“The fuck is wrong with the zoo”

“Well I’m getting to that, it was a weird zoo” Orgoth admitted “So they went to the petting zoo. I hear shank lost a dick fight with a goat.”

“And I thought I had problems”

“You do”

WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY” Buttercup launched into air

“OH COME ON WE JUST DID THIS” Orgoth rose just in time to catch the angry duckling catapulting toward him. Spinning, he threw him through a nearby chair.

YOURE A PIECE OF SHIT” Screamed the shrill voice. The bulbous headed man rose from the destruction, charging into the kneecaps of the orc. The two toppled to the floor.


The two sat at the bar drinking. deep crimson leaked from the dwarf’s bandaged arm.

“Yeah and Ratty Jane was almost suffocated by kittens”

“That woman is going to die one day”

“Nah, I doubt it.” Orgoth sighed “Out of all of us, she has some incredible luck”

“Luck cant stop an angry goat”

“No, but it can keep a spider from eating you”

“Wait wha-”

“Look I’m getting to that okay?” Orgoth glared at Buttercup “Like I was saying, Apparently Frantiska saw some sketchy shit and managed to convinced everyone but Jane to go check it out”

“Ah yes, the quiet one who likes to watch”

“yeah. But anyway I think this was about the time I showed up, not too sure.” He paused for a moment “So Jane went to see the Tiger Tigers. She got in there and was locked in. The rest of the party exploded into the exhibit a moment later. Apparently there was a guy named Ivan in there. They were all talking to him when I showed up.”

“he seems nice”

“I thought so, a bit cocky but not too bad.” Orgoth agreed " And then Tiska shot him with an arrow."

“Oh”

“Yep. Turns out the guy was no pushover. He nearly bested all eight of us, if you include the nobles shadow. He was slippery like a snake, I couldn’t hit him”

“Probably because you punch like a bitch”

“I AM NOT IN THE MOOD FOR THIS RIGHT NOW

“YOU’RE JUST LIKE MY EX-WIFE

The two froze.

a moment past

a chuckle

laughter

Booming through the room full of unconcious men and women. The two leaned into one another.

“How does someone so gods-damned ugly get married.” Orgoth managed to say though gasps

“Its a tale for another time big man.” Buttercup wiped a tear “What happened next?”

“Well turns out this Ivan wasn’t the real Ivan. He managed to poison Tiska before he bit the dust.”

“What a bitch!”

“You mean Ivan right?”

“Yeah, Sure” Buttercup drank

“Yeah it was bad, but thankfully a less competant man showed up and we interrogated him for a bunch of info. Even got some gloves to remove Swamp spider webbing”

“Wait you mean those giant beasts from the awful swamps up north past the mountains?”

“Yeah”

NEVER. GO. THERE, that place is awful!”

“So I’ve heard” Orgoth raised an eyebrow “But we needed their webbing for the antidote. Thankfully the Zoo had some”

WHAT KIND OF FUCKING ZOO HAS MURDEROUS SPIDERS

“The same one that breeds tiger tigers I guess.” He shrugged “So we went there, and there was this really sketchy zoo keeper there, first one we had seen in a long time.”

“What happened to him”

“Rel murdered him”

“Wait really?”

“Yeah kind of” Orgoth shrugged again. “The guy wasnt actually dead, but Rel fully intended to murder him”

“Huh, I didn’t think birds had balls”

Both chuckled

“Yeah well meanwhile, Ratty Jane snuck into the exhibit alone and managed to get some webbing. She also got bit because no one opened the door for her.”

“But they didn’t eat her?”

“Nah, everyone likes Jane I think. Everyone raced in there to help her. The Keeper even stabbed one through the thorax”

“Man fuck spiders”

“Yeah really” Orgoth shivered at the memory “Well we eventually killed two of them and scared the rest off. It cost Shank all his spikes apparently”

“huh, I kinda liked his spikes”

“yeah he lost the lemon curse too”

DAMN IT” Buttercup shattered his glass on the bar

“God damn it Buttercup we have to pay for those”

“Go fuck yourself Orgoth”

He grimaced. “Anyways… So we were pretty fucked up so we crashed in a hospital for the night. It was a crazy day”

“Sounds like it.” Butter cup started to pour another drink. Suddenly he paused.

“Wait” He turned to Orgoth “Didn’t you say the police station burned down in the night?”

“Oh yeah” Orgoth sat up in his stool

“Well you see we went there in the morning and….”

View
Episode 3
Lemons, and Tiger Tigers, and Dead Bears, oh my!

Not every day ended here.

No. Only the bad ones.

The candles had almost burnt out. Wax piles sported minuscule craters at their peaks with black wicks that clung to fading flames.

The grain in the glass stank with the bitter sting of a strong drink.

Around, the Tavern lay empty. Nin had long since closed shop and gone to bed. The door was barred and locked, the chairs and stools were up. Only a sour draft from an open window washed the dreary mood.

Mathias sat alone in the dimly lit room. Before him a bottle of liquor and a half full glass. He stared down into the liquid, watching it wash the walls in waves as he swirled it in his hand. Up it went, draining into the mans mouth and mustache.

It returned to the table with a thud. More liquid filled it.

“Troubling night gramps?” a voice called from the window.

The ex-keeper shot up from his trance, staring toward the window.

“Aliyah!” He exclaimed, sighing his way back into his chair. “You startled me.”

Ali giggled “It’s no fun if I don’t tease you every once and awhile” She gracefully vaulted through the open window, striding toward the table. Mathias pulled down a chair as she approached. She straddled the seat, resting her chin on the back.

“Its been awhile since I caught you drinking like this” She started, an eyebrow raised at the bottle “Something pretty bad must have happened last night.”

Mathias shook his head “Lots of things happened. I don’t even know where to begin.” he paused to take a sip from the glass. “Sometimes I wonder if the youngins ever think their actions through”

Ali rolled her eyes

Mathias squited, but then returned to his drink. “Tiska kidnapped a baby bear from the Zoo”

“The one that was with the puppies?” Ali inquired

Mathias raised an eyebrow. “Yes? I think so at least. She hid it in her cloak while we were fighting the assassin. It was there when we were saving Jane from the spiders too”

“You fought as assassin?” Her eyes grew big listening to Mathias’s tale.

“Yes yes we all did. That was only a few days ago really” He faintly smiled “Gave him a good rubbing i did.”

Ali chortled

“Whats so funny young lady?”

“Nothing gramps” She giggled “go on”

“Right right, well during all that fighting the bear must have broken its leg. Mayhaps one of the spiders got it, or Tiska fell onto it. I cannot say for certain” He drank “Rel did his best to splint the wound, but it was awful bad and it got infected”

Ali’s lips frowned, eyes wide unwavering from Mathias

“The poor thing was in so much pain. When we got back to the Kitten it wasn’t doing very well” He swirled his drink, recollecting. he frowned “So Tiska and the others turned to unsavory methods to save it.”

“What did they do?”

“Rel’s friend, the bard, had some black market contacts. He worked out a deal for them in order to get the bear some penicillin. This deal involved Tiska killing a nobleman at first, along with an undisclosed second favor at the time”

he threw back the rest of the glass, slamming it down after. Ali jumped at the noise.

“Gotcha” he smiled and winked.

Ali pouted “Not funny grandpa!” She flicked his mustache. Mathias giggled at the display. The two of them smiled.

“What are you doing up so late anyways? The sun should be up soon” Mathias questioned

“Work” Ali sighed “I had a couple of late collections to make for my boss. They were troublesome compared to the usual, really had to work to get them to comply”

“Well I hope it wasn’t too much trouble” Mathias gave her shoulder a rub

“Nah, just tedious” She ran a hand through her messy black hair. “hey! You were in the middle of story! don’t stop now!”

“OH yes!” Mathias continued “Well the bard went off to get the medicine and the bear started dying. The others used everything they could think of to keep it alive. Orc blood, chest compression, and even forbidden magic.”

“Wait, in the middle of the day?” she sat dumbfounded

“Yes they were just upstairs. The effects of the spell flashed right through the floorboards. A mimic immediately figured it out and raced to arrest them. If it weren’t for Jane…” Mathias suddenly stopped. He cracked a grin and burst into a hearty laughter. “Oh my yes Jane how could I forget. For someone so small she is capable of some pretty grand feats”

“What did she do gramps?”

“She drank everyone under the table. A whole glass as big as she in a single sitting! I though she was going to drown in it, but she managed to drink the whole thing.” The smile warmed the room, Ali grinned at her grandfathers joy. “She was the life of the party for awhile, she even managed to slap Orgoth awake after he was knocked out by Buttercup”

“Oh Mr.Cup was here?” Ali suddenly cocked her head to the side

“yes… hes here often. Do you know him?”

“Yeah I visit him almost nightly for work.”

“Huh” Mathias stared at his granddaughter “That’s concerning”

“Hes actually a pretty sweet guy. Has a real soft spot for his mother”

“I never would have guessed” Another glass drained down his throat. “Anyways, Jane woke up to the flash. She an I followed the mimic up the stairs. He was peaking in on the others who were hard at work trying to save baby bear. I confronted him, but he flashed his badge and asked me to back off. I know better than to interfere with a fellow keeper, so I just watched”

“That’s just like you” Ali stuck her tongue out at Mathias. Mathias grinned and returned the gestures. The two chuckled for a moment. The man poured another glass. The girl pulled out a cigarette, lighting it swiftly

“Hey!” Mathias protested.

“Oh come on” Ali groned, her eyes rolled. “Its been a long night for me. I had three different pick-ups across the city!”

Mathias grumbled “Okay fine.” he relented “But no more tonight. Give me the pack” he telescoped his hand. She sighed and gave him the rest of the pack. “These are terrible for you you know”

“Yeah yeah, and all that drinking is keeping you so healthy” she shot back

“Watch your tongue young lady!” he pocket the pack. “Now where was I… Oh yes!”

Mathias threw back the glass, swallowing heartily. “So upstairs the rest of the group made the horrible decision to use that angelic magic again in plain view of the keeper. I think Zelkova was aware of his presence, but he say anything. So the keeper confirms the use of magic and busts into the room”

The cigarette burned, Ali ashed it onto the ground

“So the group starts to panic. Frantiska tried to forge a magic licence out of paper and pencil. It looked terrible. She did it right in front of me too! The nerve on that woman! The others tried to talk their way out of it. But this keeper is not having any of it.” the bottle emptied into the glass. “Turns out this guy was Constable Art-Work, I’d heard about him, but I had never imagined that he was so relentless”

“Art-work? Is he a teifling?” Ali inquired taking a slow drag

“Yes. A very infamous one too. Known for bringing in criminals with no remorse” Mathias looked up at the ceiling. “I was a miracle the others weren’t arrested.” He paused for a moment

“Then Jane staggered into the room and grabbed Art-Work’s ass”

Ali sputtered and gagged “Wait! What!”

“See what those do to you?” Mathias wagged a finger at her

“Oh piff! Are you serious about Jane?” Ali pressed

“Oh yes indeed. I was shocked she was so bold! So he looks down at her, and she suddenly projectile vomits all over his leg. Art didn’t take kindly to it that. He hoisted her over his shoulder and took her down the hall. I assume he was going to lock her in another room.”

Ali sat dumbstruck “Jane and I need to hang out more.”

Mathias snorted “It gets better. So Jane doesn’t like being man handled. She spins out of his grip, vomiting again as she gets to the floor. Artwork is covered in it now, dripping small puddles of filth. She runs down the stairs and he chases.”

Ali finished her cigarette, still absorbed in her Grandpa’s tale.

“So he catches her downstairs and Jane bursts into Sobs which catches Art completely off guard” The bottle raises to pour again, but nothing leaves its neck. Mathias sighs and places it back on the table. “I guess art must have a soft spot for halflings. The two talk for a bit, he calms her down, gives her some advice and gold and tries to get her to leave so he can make the arrest. Jane wouldn’t let him that easily, and I guess his feelings got the better of him. He set off a smoke stick and got everyone to run out of the tavern by pretending there was a fire.”

“Wait he broke the law for Jane?” Ali was in awe.

“Yes I was amazed too.” Mathias stopped “Oh yes, and during all that the bear died.”

“Yeah I knew”

Mathias raised an eyebrow. “Well anyways they fed its body to Shade and then everyone lept out the window. Or just walked outside” he finished the rest of his drink, crowning the bottle with the empty glass. “Buttercup was there, unconscious. He had pissed off Orgoth and the two got into a brief scuffle. Buttercup was vicious and used glass on Orgoths nether region”

Ali giggled “Yeah he mentioned that. Sounds brutal”

“Indeed quite brutal. Rel stitched it up in front of everyone later. It was better not to look” Mathias sat back in his chair. “We went to Orgoth’s apartment. The bear was dead but we were still indebted to the stitchers because of Frantiska’s rash actions. The bard showed up a few minutes later and gave the penicillin to us.”

“So you guys actually went to kill a noble?”

“No! Thank Tune we didn’t. Apparently the noble wasn’t coming anymore so instead we had to fight a big stitch and then meet with the leader of the dark carnival.”

“Rotrer?” Ali’s eyes lit up “Shes incredible.”

“You know her?” Mathias was surprised

“Yeah I’ve had a few meetings with her. She’s very nice. And gorgeous too. Its small wonder she out danced Yoko”

“Hmm.” Mathias hummed “Well she is certainly quite something. So we decided to wait for the carnival to appear. Everyone got some good rest during which the bard dropped off some masks for us.”

Ali grinned “Was there a bear mask?”

Mathias squinted at her “How would you know what the bear mask is for young lady?”

She quickly looked away, blushing “Oh I don’t! I just was curious!”

“Right…” Mathias continued to glare “We did have one. Shank took it”

Ali stifled a laugh, Mathias shook his head

“So we went to the carnival. They were never in the field before so this was actually my first patrol of the place. What a nightmarish chaos it is.” Mathias stood and walked to the bar, stumbling only slightly as he searched for another bottle

“It’s not that bad” Ali chimed “Everyone who goes there is just looking for freedom I think”

“I wouldn’t call that free-dAAAHH” Mathias suddenly reeled back, stumbling onto the ground. Ali stood, reaching into her jerkin for something.

Behind the counter, the roughspun sack of Shade appeared. The shadow creature bubbled some inconceivable babble before waddling out from behind the bar. Ali sighed, returning to her seat. Shade extended a clawed hand and helped Mathias to his feat.

“You scared me shade, be more careful at night!” Mathias lectured. Shade’s eyes drooped and he dangled his arms in front of himself shamefully.

“Now now, dont be upset little guy” Mathias reached out and tussled his sack. Shade’s eyes beamed at him. He revealed a fresh bottle, handing it to the ex-keeper.

“Why thank you!” Mathias beamed. Shade Saluted him. With a goofy little waddle he waltz over to the table where Ali sat. He waved a limp hand at her. She giggled.

The creature hoisted itself onto the table. Standing straight up, his sack head slowly decended, swallowing up the black branch-like limbs below. Before long the sack head rested itself on the table, Shades eyes in an open and beaming.

“Strange little creature” Mathias stumbled back to the table.

“I Think hes kinda cute” Ali returned, A fresh cigarette smoldering between her fingers

Mathias cocked his head, then frowned. he reached into his pocket, finding nothing but dust and lint.

“Young lady” He said sternly, extending his hand once more

Ali groaned “Alright fine” She tossed the pack into his hand.

“And?” he remained firm

Ali gumpily put out the cigarette and gave it to him

“Thank you” He sat, filling his glass once more. “So we walked through the carnival. People were dying and trading illegal items and practicing magic all around us.”

“And fucking!” Ali shouted. Mathias choked on his drink. He pounded his chest, trying to catch his breath. Shade garbled intermittently

“I Beg Your Pardon!” He exclaimed “You are far too young to be saying such things!”

“Oh come on grandpa, Im 16! Most girls are already married by 16.” She protested.

“Yes but most often not by choice!” Mathias rebuffed

“That hardly matters in this place”

ANYWAYS” Mathias tried to regain his place. “The most of us were uncomfortable and we made haste to the center. We did stop to buy some items, but not for very long. In the center we found the Stitcher’s Union.”

“I don’t like the stitchers” Ali sighed “What they do is unnatural”

“I agree. Their leader is as monstrous as his creations, viewing his union members as nothing more than parts” Mathias started to pour a glass, then stopped. He raised the bottle to his lips and took a hearty swallow. “Ahhh… The beast we fought was an abomination. 13 limbs!” he shouted abruptly “Well, 12 when i finished with it. But still! Horrifying” He looked at Ali, her focus on the unlit cigarette in his fingers. He sighed, handing it back to her. She smiled, relighting it.

“So we defeated the beast. Its maker wasn’t too happy with us, but we did what we were told.” He raised the bottle again to his lips as Ali took a drag. Both exhaled together, engrossed in the memory. “Afterwords we had to meet with Rot.”

Shade suddenly exclaimed a noise, something akin to bees stuck inside of a tuba that was filled with robins. The pair looked over to him as he stood up. The wiggly creature walked into the middle of the table shoulders All hunched over. he looked left, then right as if he was paranoid someone was watching him. Suddenly he jumped to the other side facing where he was once standing. now positioned menacingly, he slunk forward miming drawing a dagger from his belt. moving back Shade raised his hands shaking his head, trying to keep this invisible attacked at bay. He lept again, now raising the mimed dagger above his head. It came down with force! Slinking under the descending attack He reached one hand up trying desperately to prevent this grim fate. Struggling against his own form, the dagger broke through! Stabbing him clear in the chest. Shade stabbed himself over and over again, before collapsing into a heap.

Ali began to clap. Mathia’s took a sip of his drink. Shades body folded in on itself over and over again until finally it disappeared with a soft POP!

“That’s right I had almost forgotten.” Mathias started. “On our way to Rot, we were attacked by a large crowd of assassins”

“Really? From the guild?

“Indeed” He shook his head

“How did you survive? That guild has a very nasty reputation” Ali went wide eyed

“Incredibly, Zelkova managed to talk them out of killing us”

“Bullshit!” she shouted

Language” mathias commanded

“I don’t believe it!”

“Nor would I have if I had not been there” Mathias took another swig. “Our elven companion has a sweet and silver tongue. I bet he could talk a dragon out of it’s horde”

The two sat for a moment.

“After that near death experience we made it to Rot’s tent.”

“How’d that go gramps?” Ali asked

“Surprisingly well, but also disturbing” He continued “She had intimate knowledge of all of us. Even me.” his hand trembled

“,She talked about my sons in worrying detail.” he pressed his hand against the table. desperate to ease the shake “I’m worried somethings happened.” He looked up at Ali.

“I’m sure they’re fine grandpa. They’re strong men.” She reassured him.

“Yes.” He tired to agree “Still, I can’t shake the feeling”

Ali reached out, placing a calming hand on her grandpa’s shoulder. The shaking slowed, then ceased all together.

“Thank you” He sighed “Well after meeting with her, we went to go home, but we were hopelessly lost. I spotted some men on a nearby roof and thought to go see what they were about”

“Oh grandpa” Ali shook her head “Those old Keeper instincts of yours are going to get you killed”

“They almost did” he admitted “Turns out the guys on the roof were slavers. Their weapons made to capture not kill. They managed to catch myself, shade, and Jane.”

Ali gasped “Not Jane”

“Hey! I got caught too” He protested

“Yeah but I know you can take care of yourself!”

“So can Jane!” Mathias wagged a finger at her. “We managed to escape, barely. But that wasn’t the end of it…”

The candle flickered, then went out.

View
Session 4
Sure, lets poison the ogre with the erection syringe, what could go wrong?

The following is an excerpt from Ratty Jane’s Diary

Date: Some time in the fall. I think. The leaves are changing right?

Mood: Triumphant. And Very Disturbed.

Dear Diary.

Zelkova can suck a dick. He thinks he’s so hot, barely overpowering halfings. He only just beat me in an arm wrestling contest! That doesn’t mean hes better than me. Hes just a pompous noble. With really nice hair. And a cute little… demon. thing. I like shade, but Zelkova needs to get off his horse and come join the rest of us at the table. Just because we are sort of, kind of, working for him doesn’t mean we aren’t all teammates

Anyways, so I had a wild night. It was super scary. The group was doing a bunch of bushiness in the carnival.

You know Diary, I’m working with some pretty horrible people. I watched Shank knock a woman unconscious just for wanting to sleep with him! I mean, she did kind of forcefully take his pants off and mount him, but if i was that desperate and on a lot of drugs I would have too! Just not with Shank. Actually you know what, I probably wouldn’t. But I would consider it! And then talk myself out of it and feel really bad for awhile.

So anyways, If that wasn’t bad enough, Zelkova stole her mask! I think it was because she was a Frey. He doesn’t like that family for some reason. Maybe I should ask. Anyways she’s probably dead now. Eh, thinking about it, she deserved it. Stupid rapist noble.

Anyways, so the we did the job. I stabbed a stitch that was covered in hooks! I mean he stabbed me first, like a lot. He was covered in hooks! But we killed him eventually. Then we talked to this really nice lady. Rot i think? She was very kind and polite, but also creepy. She gave me a coin, its not gold but its got a bunch of carnival markings on it. Apparently I can spend this at the guilds.

We were on our way out when Mathias spotted some spooky dudes staring at us on a roof. He went to go check it out, and I followed. In hindsight, I need to let Mathias just do his thing. Turns out the guys on the roof were slavers. They kidnapped Mathias and I. And shade too! but he disappeared pretty quickly. And Shank. They got a lot of us.

Zelkova, Rel, Orgoth, and Tiska gave chase and managed to get Shank free. This parts pretty hazy because Orgoth tried to punch the guy who was holding me. And that guy threw me in the way. Shank punched me straight to deaths door. I saw an angel! I think. Or maybe it was a girl? Kinda cute. Way too thin though. Anyways, I woke up to Mathias working some kinda healing magic on me. We were stuck in a small padded room with some other halflings and a dwarf woman.

Now diary, you know me pretty well, I’m not one to sit around while other people are doing things. Unless I’m drunk. But I wasn’t here, I was just hurt. Pretty badly. With Mathias’s help I popped the hinges off the door and tried to shove it out. But diary you know me pretty well. I’m small, and not very strong. And Mathias is really old. The Door fell back on us. A heavy iron door. Needless to say, I went back to seeing that woman.

You know, thinking about it, I feel like I’ve met her before somewhere. Maybe it was just a weird dream. I dunno. So I woke up a few moments later to Rel fixing my wounds. The slavers were all dead and the group was trying to leave. We got to a window, but it had bars on it. It was like this building was built to keep people in.

Man, Fuck Slavers

More slavers show up, the party is outnumbered andwere probably gonna die. Rel starts blasting the bars. He’s making slow progress. Tiska shoots down a conveniently placed chandelier, crushing one of the slavers and slowing the others. Kinda weird that they’d decorate a prison, but at least it was tasteful brass!

Well this must have pissed off the slavers because they loosed an Ogre at us. Big, ugly, green, with these mushroom like ears. And this thing is angry.

So eventually the Rel makes a big enough hole for everyone, and we all dip onto a fire escape. Most everyone makes it to the ground save for Tiska and Zelkova. Did i mention the Ogre was charging the window at ramming speed? It busts through, destroying the fire escape, Diving right into the center of the group.

I’m behind it and I still have this syringe that paralyzed a Minotaur a little earlier so I figured “Hey! Why not try to disable the big bastard?” So I stabbed it in the neck. You see Diary, I had forgotten that the Syringe also gave that Minotaur a THROBBING erection. Apparently the paralysis didn’t take, but the other part did. I can still remember the way he looked at me. Gave me chills.

You know I kinda wish someone who wasn’t five times as tall, strong and dumb as me would look at me like that.

So now we have an angry horny ogre smack dab in the middle of our party. We tried our best to fight it, but we were already pretty beat up from before. The big guy was tearing through us. Thankfully he was wearing metal loins so it didn’t escalate beyond murder.

At some point I got knocked unconscious again. No woman this time so I think I was okay for the most part. Now Tiska told me about this next part since I wasn’t exactly aware of what was happening.

So despite the fact that she was landing every arrow right in this things neck it just refused to go down. It got Mathias, Orgoth, Rel, It turned Shade into a pancake, Zelkova tried desperately to attack the beast with his shiny sword, Orgoth got back up and punched it, but it wasn’t dying. So with her lightning quick thinking Tiska found a badger woman and asked her to sleep with the beast.

This woman must have been in a dry spell. She apparently ripped the metal loin’s off the beast in one fell swoop and went to town immediately. I never actually got to see what kind of heat this beast was packing, but Tiska said about twice my size and just as thick.

I’m still not sure if I’m insulted by that.

So the Ogre is understandably distracted considering a dwarf is violently jerking him off. She actually got off in about twenty seconds. I wish she was still alive to teach me her ways. She actually coated Rel with it. Thank Shae it wasn’t pointed at me

Now it’s woozy. barely managing to fight anymore. Tiska then lands a final arrow in its neck and it dies. This didn’t stop the dwarf.

Now apparently an angry mob had formed that Tiska had nothing to do with what so ever. Most of them were rooting for the ogre apparently and were unhappy that it was killed. So thinking quickly again Tiska gets the dwarf to fuck every single person in the crowd. This was about when i woke up, but we left before I could see what was going on.

In hindsight, that’s probably for the best. The carnival is a fucked up place.

So we left the carnival as the sun was rising. Most of us were a light kick away from death, we collectively decided that a visit to the hospital was in order. So we all go to this place that Orgoth knew of in the area.

Diary, please remind me never to trust anything Orgoth recommends in the future.

So we get there and the place is really empty. Like, only one doctor empty. She asks us for the normal gold. Everyone pays in except for Zelkova, who is too good for hospitals I guess. Well I mean, I can’t be upset with him here, he’s the only reason the rest of us lived. Probably.

Oh yeah and this doctor ate Tiska’s gold piece. That was probably the first sign we should have gotten out of there. So the doctor leads us into the back and quickly uses a syringe to knock us out. Turns out shes a fucking Snerson.

I don’t know what happened to Zelkova. He led us through a labyrinth of traps after rescuing us so I assume he was having a difficult time finding us. When I came to the Serson fake doctor lady was conducting some kind of ritual to make us into hosts for Lina’s Snabies. I think. I mean the stuff Tiska and the others puked out looked kinda snake like.

by the way, we’re all chained upside down by our ankles kinda dangling in this dark creepy room

Zelkova busts in and draws his really shiny sword. He and Shade do battle with the Snerson. Meanwhile I’m not content to wait around so I quickly take the needle off my belt buckle and pick the lock holding me. I run to the others and undo their locks too. I got Tiska, and Mathias down when the Snerson landed a near fatal blow on Zelkova. Funnily enough that caused shade to disappear. Poor Shade.

Well the Snerson got all creepy over the unconscious Zelkova, so I thought to myself, “Boy howdy her neck looks exposed right now”.

So naturally I jammed my belt needle into her neck. A lot.

Now lacking a throat, she bleeds to death. I get the rest of the group down. Orgoth was a bit tricky, he actually pulled one of his feet out of the locks, but the skin didn’t come with it. You ever see a farm animal get butchered? I’d have rather watched that. We found out that Zelkova, Tiska, and Rel were pregnant with Snabies. So naturally Rel made a potion from alchohol, Lemons, and Ogre semen. Because that apparently aborts Snabies.

Tiska was none too happy about the idea of getting injected with that, so she drank. A lot. Diary, you know me, when i say she drank a lot, what i mean is a bottle of absinthe followed by a bottle of rum. Best part was that it worked, she puked up the Snabie inside her. Mathias quickly lopped it in half.

Rel and Zelkova took the abortion syringe. Their snabies were already dead when they were puked up.

Rel is weird. Useful but weird.

So Zelkova leads us out and we spend a little extra time going to the usual hospital. Zelkova was actually really nice for once and payed for all of us. So we get fixed up and get some okay food. Everyone kinda splits off to go do stuff. I think we all kinda know that we’re gonna end up at The Kitten at some point, so planning to meet isn’t really necessary anymore.

We all end up there eventually and I decide to do the natural thing and Drink.

Diary I saw some shit.

After tripping for awhile it seemed like Mathias had a job set up. But you see Zelkova was being a dick. So we got into a contest. At first it was arm wrestling, and I already told you, he BARELY managed to beat me. Cheeky prick. But I challenged him to a drinking contest. And I know Zelkova’s weakness.

The Raven Man was Mediating, and even bought all our drinks! So anyways the rules were simple, We take turns ordering drinks, and both have to drink the same thing.

Everything I ordered had lemon in it. Zelkova HATES lemons. hard lemonade, a lemon drop, and then just half a lemon spiked with something called “Crows bane”

He can drink more than I expected, but at the end of it all Zelkova dropped! Serves him right, Obnoxious jerk.

Well diary, I gotta get some sleep before tomorrow. We’re busting up an illusionists magic thing.

Ratty Jane

P.S. I forgot to mention. Shank turned into a spiky bone coffin. I’m trying not to think about it but its floating menacingly next to my bed. Please help.

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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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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 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 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 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 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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