The lamp light was bright, but for some reason, as it sat on the large mahogany desk in the captains cabin the light seemed to go everywhere except Grash’s face. As he sat on his tilted chair, one foot up on the desk and arms crossed, he sometimes stared at the others talking, and occasionally to the two daggers that sat in their sheaths on the table. As his eyes flickered away from them he thought he could see the faces, The Mermaid and the Gryphon respectively, leering at him.
“The forest weeps, I hear its cries even from here. We need to go back and stop whatever unnatural practises are that woman is doing.” Jalana was standing, leaning against the bulkhead from the other side of the deck. Looking about the group to gain approval of her plan. “We go back, at night, and kill her. My claws will stop any more of her filthy magic.” And she spat on the floor.
Vuvu looked at Jalana and the spit on the floor, then to Grash, expecting some backlash from him. He seemed distracted. “You think,” said Vuvu looking back to Jalana “That we can just waltz back in there and give it another go? She pants’d us, hun. Let’s get out of here and find a nice city, by the way, we’re almost out of brandy.” And she went over to the side table to get another glass of brandy, swishing the bottle in Grash’s direction to see if he’d like a glass. He wasn’t looking at her, his eyes were locked onto the knives on the table. “Suite yourself” she said, as she downed a hefty sum.
Hemmit stood in the corner, silent as always, keeping this thoughts to himself.
“I will leave the waltzing to you, bard.” Replied Jalana, “But I am going back”.
“Something on your mind, Grash?” asked the statue like Hemmit. The two women looked first at Hemmit, surprised that he said anything, and then to Grash, who was looking at the speakers.
Grash stood and took up the belt with his knives on it, “We’re going back, and we’re going to kill that bitch. Get your rest, I’ll take first watch.” And with that he took his leave and manned the helm.
“I don’t think he’s very happy that he had his arse handed to him.” Said Vuvu, “but he’ll get over it. Seems we’re going to be giving it another shot, in that case I think I might have another drink!” and with that she, Jalana and Hemmit had a few drinks and with that drinks came the great idea to partake of the Sapphire Weed.
Hemmit is in the practice yard with his two keepers, those that have guarded him his entire adult life, they are pure blood elves, and have a disdain for him as he is half-blood.
One of the personal bodyguards of his father, a Night-Hand comes to them. Hemmit refuses to kneel and avoids the Keeper of the Minds mental powers commanding him to kneel but the Keeper of the body, with her quarterstaff, lands a vicious blow to the back of his knees and he falls.
“That’s not good enough.” says the keeper of the body, Sho-Pan.
“Not good enough at all.” says the keeper of the mind, Leinarune.
He goes unwillingly with the Night-Hand to his father’s office. His father seems preoccupied, moving some papers on his desk and fiddling with a small black sphere.
His father explains, with minimal detail, that the council had been given word on what he had been up to. Hemmit doesn’t want to go to the “stupid council meeting” and tells his father. His father looks at Hemmit, with something that could be confusion, however he never knew his father to be confused. His father is adamant that Hemmit will attend, Hemmit then refuses further. Guards are called and Hemmit is restrained.
Hemmit spits on the guards on the way out. He is taken out of his father’s room whilst defecating on himself and vomiting, straight to the council room.
In the Most Noble House of Tharuun, there debates men and elves on the matter of unsanctioned work that had been found to be happening. Hemmits father, The Shadow Behind the Stars, has been found to be meddling with power beyond his control (according to the council), and whilst that isn’t exactly illegal in the Twin Cities, it is frowned upon. The uneasy alliance with the City States of Dharma and Dwarven Citadels of Mahayana are tentative at best these days, and a representative from both countries has been sent to confer with the Twin Cities.
The Dwarf representative hasn’t much to say (only because nobody has really told the outsiders exactly what the work being done was), only that they have always had good relations with the Twin Cities and that they are sure that they have everyone’s best interest at heart. He knows that the people of Dharma are all about their “cosmic law and order” and doesn’t think they should stop doing whatever they are doing on their account.
The representative from Dharma speaks, “Garrum Mashalla, may The Twin Suns forever hold your greatness in their gaze. My Lord, the Sha-Khan of Dharma, first Flame of the Empress, bringer of the conflagration and last of his line, sends with me his most humble greetings.”
The dwarf representatives laughs at this. The dark skinned human looks slightly disgruntled but continues;
“My lord has seen in the flames the path that you take here, and does not condone it.”
Whispers come from the people attending, some for and some against.
“He, in his infinite wisdom, knows where this path will take you, and wishes, with your best interest at heart, that all work being done on the Crystal Soul is stopped immediately.”
A shout at the back of the room, a man yelling “You’ve betrayed us Shadow Behind the Stars! How could you?! Your family has always been on the wrong side of the Gods!”
An Elf at the table with Hemmits father stands, “Too long have the WAR states of Dharma meddled with our Cities! I don’t know what this one is talking about but they have no right to meddle with our business.”
Clamour as those presiding over the chamber try to regain some peace.
The delegate from Dharma goes back to their seat. Hemmit sees a slight grin on the man’s face. He also notices the man reaching into his pocket and fiddling with something, a small tube.
Shadow Behind the Stars stands and clears his throat, people settle down and listen. Before starting he looks at Hemmit, a mix of anger and love cloud his face. Hemmit has never seen anything but barely concealed irritation on his father’s face.
“Noble folk of the Twin Cities, the shining beacon of hope for the future is us. We are the ones that all look to when the world outside darkens. However, there are some powers that believe that we shouldn’t be meddling in such things, and they believe that we should acquiesce to their reasonable demands. On the other hand, some of the Deneierian priests argue that all knowledge is our realm. I agree…There is some knowledge best left unknown, but this is not one of them. I will continue the work that I have begun.” He finished with a hard look at the Dharma emissary then at Hemmit.
A large clamour comes from this, largely from the cheers of the Priests of Deneir, of who Hemmit was only recently initiated into as an acolyte.
As order is trying to be brought to the room, Hemmit notices the delegate from Dharma being very quiet in the stands. The man was looking intently at Hemmits father and seemingly muttering to himself, turning the small tube in his hands over and over again.
His attention is taken from him by a dozen human guards coming in through the front doors. The captain of the guard comes to the front “Shadow Behind the Stars, you are under arrest for the unsanctioned use of Necromancy, you will come with us immediately and answer to the Sattva.”
Shadow-Behind-The-Stars stood solemnly, it seemed he knew that this was coming and he raised his hands, palms up in front of him, ready for the shackles. In his right hand appeared a short metal tube, he looked down at it with furrowed brow, then up to the guard and then finally Hemmit. Hemmit stood, looked into his father’s eyes, and then to the Dharma delegate, who sat with their eyes closed, empty handed and with a beatific smile on his face.
The explosion that shook the room killed most people in the first four rows instantly. Hemmit was thrown backwards with the force and lost consciousness.
Grash swung open the door to the captain’s cabin of the DragunShip with the door hitting the wall and making a loud crack. He saw the other three; Hemmit, Vuvu and Jalana sitting at the table, heads swinging up at the sound of the door. They’d been getting some much needed rest, with Jalana lying on the small bunk to the side and the other two with their heads on the desk but now sitting upright, hands on their weapons.
“What is it?” asked Vuvu getting to her feet, the threads of the dream floating around in her mind like leaves in the wind.
“There’s another ship.” Said Grash, turning around and heading back to the deck.
The three in the cabin looked at each other, each weighing what they saw in the dreams of Hemmit.
“That was intense” said Jalana, and with no further ado the group made their way to the deck to see what was happening.
Grash was on the mid-deck, looking through a spyglass towards the north, the group could see the sails and hear a faint noise of people and some musical notes. Vuvu listened to the notes, letting them flow through her and looking for a cosmic string, finding nothing. Just music.
“I want to have a look, don’t do anything rash.” Said Jalana, casting a sidelong glance at Grash. He returned her scowl and then shrugged.
Running to the railing and leaping off of one foot into the air, the group saw her fall below the horizon of their ship railings, they heard no splash, instead a large shag appeared and flew off towards the other ship.
“One call for baddies and two calls for goodies, Jalana?” said Vuvu. “We need to know if they mean us harm, else we can just stay here under the shadow of our magics and hopefully they can just pass us on by”.
As the ship gets closer they can pick out a few words of the on their air
Remoraz, Remoraz – lurking below
Please do not eat us, we’re not your foe
We’ll drop you a snack and promise to not stay
Please do not eat us, and we’ll be on our way
The ship gets closer and they see that it was probably about half the overall size of their ship, a transport of some kind. The ship has no undercroft and is being oared by men and women chained and gagged. They decide to intercept it so that if it comes to a fight they will have the upper hand. As the Dragunship leaves the mists of their concealing magics the first thing the other ships occupants see is a large head of a dragon coming out of the smoke and shadow, appearing seemingly out from behind a small rocky island that it couldn’t possibly have been hiding behind. The crew of the other ship steps down the tempo of their rowing and a man that seems to be a captain comes to the bow to greet them.
The captain of the other ship tries to explain that they are simple merchants transporting criminals. As he is speaking his crew starts to move about the ship, standing near the ones that are gagged and tied to the oars.
Grash gets antsy, whether because of their recent loss, or his wanton lust for violence, he raised his stump to the other ships sail and let out some dark words that threw a ball of fire towards the other ships sail.
The captain of the other ship whipped out his sword immediately and yelled “It’s them! The dragon ship ones!” and tells yells instructions to his crew who immediately execute the prisoners they were standing behind with a swift slice across their throats.
The supposed captain whispers into his hand and turns invisible. Grappling hooks shoot from the enemy shit and grasp unerringly into the side of the DragunShip, claws like a large bear claw into the hard wood. The men run across the ropes and try to board them and, although they are terribly over-matched, fight like demons on the deck.
The enemy ship is on fire and most of the captives are dead or dying. Jalana is flying and hacking at the men that are fighting on the DragunShip, Vuvu had her sabre out, slashing at them and laughing with Grash by her side, just like in the old days. The mast of the enemy ship, weakened by the fire now raging, snaps and begins to fall. At the last minute Jalana swept down to the enemy ship and, as a giant eagle, swept up one fo the survivors in her claws and took off back to the DragunShip. The fiery mast smashed into the deck of the other ship, spreading fire and destroying most of the boat, the ship began to sink and was only held slightly above the surface by the hooks that were embedded.
With the sound of battle subsided they realised that the captain was missing, and listening carefully they hear some movement in the captain’s cabin. Vuvu and the group had killed all the invaders bar two, who were knocked unconscious and tied up at the bow.
They chase the man into the captain’s cabin, who had by then fled below decks. They find him with his head down and his arms splayed across the giant wheel device that they took from the Rakshasa that apparently controlled his portal. The man laughs, and begins to speak “Haha, you don’t even have it..” and Grash knocks him across the head ending his speech.
They tie the man up and interrogate him by prying into his mind with spells. They learned that they were taking villagers by the dozens to Feena, the sorceress. He didn’t know much about the sorceress but he did have knowledge of DragunShip Suddenly! and felt disdain for them. Then they kill him.
They made their way back to the deck and approached their new prisoners. Grash advised them that one had to kill the other. One of them asked for a dagger and Grash gave him one after untying him, gleeful that he’d convinced a man to kill his friend.
The man took the dagger and began to cut the ropes of the other man saying “If we are to die, old friend, we’ll do it on our feet.”
Grash scowled and was about to kill them both however Jalana stepped up and advised that they would live, and their lives were in her hands.
She put the men to work on their boat, cleaning the blood and grime from it.
The group then put their attention on the prisoner they saved from the raiders. The man was huddled in the crow’s nest where Jalana the giant bird had dropped him so that he would be safe. Jalana climbed up and helped him down, he was clearly shaken and terrified. Grash immediately punched him in the stomach and demanded that he give them all his gold. The man didn’t respond, only doubled up on the deck and vomited, defecated himself in terror and began to cry.
The group collectively put their hands on their hips and shrugged. What were they to do with this guy?
Vuvu had an idea and took him into her room and gave him a nice bubble bath. Scrubbing his back and talking pleasantries and trying to feed him some nice dates. The man didn’t reply much so she left him there for a bit and joined the others on the deck.
The band of unlikely saviours then took stock of their situation. Knowing that if they wanted to cure the forest of the darkness that had infested it, and to learn more about these Pillars that Feena had spoken of, that they would need to go back to the cathedral.
They took the man from the bath and questioned him, nicely for once, about the situation and asked him what he knew.
He explained that there had been an increase in raids the last few years and that they were all taken from a nearby village. His beloved daughter had been taken not three years ago. His beautiful little angel, Feena. The group made a collective gasp with their hands on their mouths. He explained further that she was but a child, and that she could not be the one that they spoke of, an older one, with lines on her eyes and darkness in her heart.
“Please, take me to her! I can reason with her!” the new friend the farmer Damien pleaded, thinking maybe these people weren’t so bad after all.
They said “no” and gagged him, put a sack over his head and dragged him down into the hull then shoved him in a chest as tears streamed from his eyes and sadness gripped his already broken heart.
The other two, recently found to be named Gerald and Arnold, were also tied up, gagged and put into a different room to Damien. Now that the ship was fairly secure they made their way back to the cathedral to face Feena again. And this time they’d be ready.
As the group docked at the end of the pier the group ruminated over what Gerald and Arnold said. The the woman Feena disappeared at night, being sent somewhere magical by the priests. They knew that to finish the ritual the priests would need Damien’s blood, and they were determined to not let them have it. The group walked up the way, with the trees uprooted and wandering around, which were pressing in on them from all sides, seeming to peer at them.
They got to the giant metal doors, which they knocked on. They opened magically and the group saw a very different scene than they had found last time they were here. The blood stained walls were replaced by an immaculate scenario, beautiful colours and lights with seven priests chanting underneath a giant floating copper coloured seemingly-metallic like sphere 3 metres in diameter, enough to house a person, hanging above the altar and humming slightly.
Now it was time to hatch their genius plan. Grash, disguised as Damien and lead by Vuvu as his supposed captor, went to the bowl on the altar below the floating sphere and as the priest asked him to add his blood to the bowl, he did. Nothing happened.
The priest looked at Grash, then the blood filled bowl, and then back to Grash. The priest squinted from beneath his hood…
…and saw through his disguise! One of the priests began to chant and located the real blood, Damien, in the boat. A running fight ensued where the priests tried to run to the boat and Jalana, Grash and Vuvu tried to stop them, after only a few moments most of the priests lay dead on the ground, putting up little fight to the seasoned adventurers.
The group, unhindered by the trees which seemed to be controlled by the priests, approached the men and dragged them back in, killing one and dragging the other to the giant floating sphere, which was now raging against its tethers like a washing machine with a brick in it. The priest, with his final words “Poor girl” and with a smile he died seemingly of his own volition.
Jalana approached the altar, and with giant strength took the runed brass bowl from its place, the marble seemingly flowing away from it upon her touch. Once the bowl was removed the sphere began to drop, slowly, towards the altar. As the ball touched the altar, it ended, blinding them all with a light born of another world, and in its place was a girl, no more than 16 years old, laying naked on the altar.
“…father…are you there?…” she whispered.
The group looked around, wondering what they were supposed to do. Comfort the poor girl? Jalana, standing off to the side was gingerly trying to take a sip of the blood in the bowl, failing to do so gracefully and sloshing a bunch of it across her face and the front of her jerkin, spilling the rest on the floor. Vuvu took it on herself to go get Damien from the ship, and she did as the other patiently waited.
As Damien arrived a small amount of life entered Feena. “Father, I’m so cold, am I going to die?” she managed as her life was slipping away before their eyes.
Damien wept openly, holding his little girl in his arms on the floor next to the altar. “Oh my beautiful girl, you died many years ago…” and with that she passed.
The group, after wiping their hands of dirt and blood and congratulating each other on a job well done, left Damien crying on the floor and headed to the back rooms in search of loot where Jalana found, amongst the junk and blank scrolls, a beautiful crystal ball that seemed to resonate when it got closer to the brass runed bowl.
They made their way out of the cathedral to the new dawn, both suns rising brilliantly in the east, and a sense of calmness about the surrounding forest. As Jalana stood there, giant bowl in her hands and once again covered in blood, she knew that saving the forest was the right thing to do.