Meridian City

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…

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