Tales of Shore Blossom

Story Time with Odiri - Pt. 8
Adventure 13 - Spooky Places

(OOC – Collaboratively written in part. CW – Implied nudity, Gross lovey dovey shit)

Odiri stares at the man sitting on the end of her bed fishing his boots out from under it, mapping his chest and back’s every scar illuminated by the early morning light in her mind. Despite their recent bouts of intimacy, she had yet to muster the courage to ask Eucarion about them. “Do you really have to leave so soon? I feel like you just got here” she pouts as she gathers the sheets over her chest with a curious modesty that only seems to afflict those the morning after.

“Because. I’m sure Mato has something new for me to be doing today.” He scoffs. “Well, after he makes me scrub the floors. Penance, for a night away.” Odiri laughs quietly, “I would think those floors would have already been scrubbed within an inch of their lives last week if that is Mato’s response to you staying out all night. I’m surprised I was not relegated to the same fate when Shei scolded me for the fountain water mess our clothes left.” Odiri’s eyes were mischievous and bright as Eucarion snorts “Hah, well, he’s still going to make me do it again. I don’t mind it as much as you think I might.” Between finding the first boot and lacing it closed Eucarion asks “What have you been up to the past week anyhow? Beyond the Wall again?”

Odiri scoots up to sit against her headboard yanking the sheets out from under Eucarion to retain the only shred of modesty she had left. “Yeah, we went out. Adi and his press for more information regarding these ancient places suggested we finally make our way back to the Thousand Sage Temple.” The moment Odiri casually mentions the haunted temple, Eucarion drops the second boot he had just recovered in shock. “You did what now?! Odiri, good gods” She tilts her head and smiles at him,” I came back to you did I not? I would not have agreed to go if I did not feel like I would be safe enough to return to you.” Odiri leans over the opposite edge of the bed to snatch Eucarion’s shirt from the floor and tosses it over her own head. She was swimming in the fabric in a comical way but she knew this would delay his departure as he would not leave without his shirt.

“You may have returned this time, but next time you may not.” Eucarion responds while pulling on his second boot. “Who else went with? I would hope a group of decent size given the danger of the challenge.” Odiri leans back in her new garment and slides the long sleeves up her small arms. “We had a decent group. Adi, of course. Then there was Naligor, Kodu and Soveliss. Oh and the new one I wrote to you about Mr. Sempur. And we scooped up Frivolity on the way to the wall at his new home. It’s beautiful. Huge! Two stories, ten rooms. Massive entertainment rooms. I should mention he offered Adi, Kodu and I a room for free in return for our services. I am sorely tempted. Free board for some guard work does not seem too bad. I plan to talk to him further on his conditions.” She smirks at Eucarion. “I think the privacy in a large house would be a little easier to obtain than living in this place.” she gestures vaguely to the room.

Eucarion responds while focusing on lacing his second boot "Hm hm, well, the privacy would certainly be appreciated. Walls certainly are thin here, and it's not as though you can join me at the temple. Mato would have a fit. But that does sound like a solid group. You headed to the Wall after?" Odiri shakes her head at the laughable concept of her ever setting foot into the Temple of Stars regardless of it being the home to her object of affection. “Our way to the wall was easy and rather fast as we had Adi’s cart and now Frivolity’s cart. To my surprise that one Sempur is quite like Syd in the way he can navigate the city. Our trip to the waystation was unfettered but we were dismayed by a lovely note left by those kobold shits thanking us for the meal. They had eaten nearly half the stored provisions so we’ll need to re-stock and protect that damn place. The rest of the travel time over the next 4 days was completely boring and uneventful, aside from the occasional snide remark from the boys about your…gifts. We did a quick loop of the temple to see if anything had changed. Heavens forbid more kobold tribes make their mark on the clearing, we have enough of them to deal with.” Odiri slides up on her knees behind Eucarion and uses her small hands to comb through his thick silver streaked hair gently as she speaks. Every so often she would let a finger slide against the edge of his ear knowing his sensitive reaction to it.

"Mm, that's a shame about the provisions. Could Adi cast some sort of spell on the waystation, you think? To protect it, or hide it. I've seen him do all sort of insanity. I’m sure her could do something for it." Eucarion enjoyed her attention with a soft hum "I expected some sort of commentary to the matter of my…" Eurcarion trailed off, a little at a loss for what to call his marked affections. He turned around some to face her. "You know; I've still never been inside the temple."

With practiced precision Odiri starts at his left temple and plaits Eucarion's hair up and over his ear while continuing "I believe Adi was distracted with his goal to get to the temple but I shall speak with him on the matter when I see him next. As for the temple, none of us had set foot in it till then. We examined my copy of the map and decided to enter from the southeast entrance. Though it was clear any entrance of the four would do. The first room was a grisly visage of carpet of bone shards and a message scrawled across the north wall stating ‘death is the only exit’ but otherwise empty. I was unsettling yes but I knew it was nothing but a fear tactic from those kobold idiots. The following room was not so empty as we were greeted by five Specters. I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the poor bastards. Doomed to the earth by whom I assume was Blood Spattered Snow Bitch with no way to ascend to planes beyond.” She pauses her story to kiss his left shoulder on the thick scar that carved him from his collarbone to his shoulder blade then shifts to the right side of him to mirror the braid starting at his temple.

Eucarion shivers as she kisses on his scar. Finishing donning his boots, he remains sitting on the bedside. "I do quite like this 'Blood Spattered Snow Bitch' thing. So, you dispatched with the spectres I assume, and then what?" As Odiri continues to braid the hair on the right side of his head she explains “The specters were surprisingly easy to fell with the new arrows in the case. Soveliss lit up the entire room with fire that miraculously avoided our party and between Naligor turning into a massive white bear and Kodu doing his whole…choppy, kicky shit we took down all five specters without a scratch! That room had another circle of standing stones like the ones we found in the caves under the Dwarven ruins and a a stone dais that was unfortunately trapped with arrows. Poor Mr. Sempur was hit fairly bad but oddly refused healing from any of us. Once we disarmed the trap we were rewarded with a decent bounty of coins and gems by a chest hidden below it.” As she finishes the second braid Odiri runs her fingers tenderly over the two small scars on Eucarion’s upper arm and sets to work bringing the two smaller side braids together into one larger braid down the back 

Eucarion sits patiently, waiting for Odiri to finish her work, enjoying her light touches. Since they had begun seeing one another in earnest, he'd gotten a lot more comfortable with the unfortunate condition of his body. With her, at least. "This Mr. Semper seems an interesting fellow. I imagine I'll be meeting him at some point. Did you go any further in?"

“He is very interesting. I dare say he tells a better story than I. We came to the second room down a hallway. It was very odd because the door to the room had no handle. So of course Kodu, being Kodu, kicked it in….after a few tries” Odiri titters at the memory of it as her hands methodically make their way down, passing strands of hair over and under each other. “Well! That room was sealed off for a reason. Because inside was a fucking wight and six zombies. All seem to have been dwarves in life but sadly just like the specters they were doomed to this sad undead way of things. This fight was especially frustrating because the hallway was so tight that Xiao was stuck in the back where we had taken post for most of the journey. But between the fire majicks of those who posses the talent, my bow and Kodu’s staff we were able to reduce those monsters to ash without my sweet boy’s help” Odiri smiles up from her braiding to glance at the door knowing Xiao is waiting politely on the other side as he had been all night. She turns back to her work on taming Eucarion’s hair. “Xiao is still very sorry for the whole cold nose thing last week.”

Eucarion blushes a bright scarlet to the tips of his ears at the memory. "Well, it's gonna take a minute for me to forgive him for that one." He grumbles out, "In any case, sorry he wasn't of much use to you. Wights are the worst." As she finishes the thick braid she realizes the leather thong he had it tied with was nowhere to be seen so she passes the tip of the braid over Eucarion’s shoulder and asks ”hold this?” before pulling up the sheets and lifting the pillows searching for the missing scrap. With a resigned sigh Odiri slips off the bed and shuffles barefoot with Eucarions top hitting her knees. Eucarion takes the braid in his fingers, peeking at her handiwork with a hum of satisfaction as he does. He watches her stumble about the room in his shirt, smiling in amusement. "Did you go any further than that? Into the temple, I mean." She digs through a pile of her own leather armor and pouches to recover a sturdy strip of navy blue dyed leather.”Uhuh! Ohh, found it!” She slides back to stand in front of Eucarion and takes the braid from his hand tying it off with the navy leather.

“Oh and apparently Naligor can turn into an octopus now? That was new. Well we finally moved on when we dismantled every last one of them we noticed the warning written on the east wall that said ‘look to the ceiling’ I was expecting some hideous monster to drop from above as a cruel joke but there was nothing not even a cobweb. Then that ungodly unsettling wind chime noise we heard back in the Kami Mine again. Ugh” She shivers off the thought of the ethereal noise. “We passed on to the next room after Kodu bruted his way through the door and were greeted with another empty room. Our progress seemed to have come to a dead halt when we encountered and iron door that could not fall victim to Kodu’s limbs. I was sure our keys would glow at any moment but to my surprise Soveliss came through with a spell of acid to melt down the door at its seams. That brought us to a massive, yet mostly empty room. It seems to have been maybe a training room at one point as there were empty stone weapons racks along the walls. In the last room we made it to before the keys brought us home was a funeral preparation area of some sort. What we thought were two corpse at first ended up being zombies! I've heard so many terrible stories of the curses that zombies could inflict so our group dispatched those undead fucks the best we knew how. Fire and brute force. I am so proud of Xiao because he landed the killing blow on the 2nd of the two. Once we were safe we found a variety of decorative jars and trinkets to pass off to Elder yen and… Poof… back home.” Odiri crawls into Eucarion’s lap and kisses the scar through his left eyebrow and smirks at him impishly “and..well, you know the story from there.”

Eucarion chuckles, putting a hand to Odiri's hair, ruffling it and kissing the top of her head. "Hmm, yes, I most certainly do." He sighs, rubbing his hands along Odiri's arms lovingly. "You gonna give me my shirt back, miss adventurer?" Odiri’s lips curl in a mischievous grin "why would I do that? If I don't give it back you have to stay for breakfast" With both cunning and coddling Eucarion won his shirt back and stood to leave.  "Send word for me?" he asks standing at the door.

Odiri hops off the bed to follow him to the door and pulls his hand hard enough to make him lean down. "Kiss me proper and maybe I will. You wouldn't want your last kiss to me one on the cheek if I die beyond the wall without you." He obliges her, taking a knee and gently kissing her lips. Pulling back after a tender moment, he smiles. "I suppose I'll just have to come with you then." Odiri smiles warmly after getting exactly what she was looking for. "I look forward to the day that I have you at my back in battle once more." She hesitates glancing at the floor and back up at him. "I love you Eucarion…"

"It may be sooner than you think." Eucarion rises to his feet, looking down at her and feeling only light. "I love you too, Odiri." Not opening the door any more than he has to for her modesty, he gives a last glance back, slipping out and away.

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A Conversation in the Temple Kitchen
Takes Place Post Chapter 12

(OOC: Written in collaboration.)

It was late in the afternoon by the time Eucarion finished patching up one of the temple walls. A novice had put an elbow through a thin bit of it, or so Mato had explained. In a matter of a week, Eucarion's temple life had fallen into a comfortable routine, there constantly being work in need of completion. Curiously, he thought as returned to his modest quarters, he had hardly encountered Oranssi since he arrived. Turning a corridor, Eucarion found he was greeted with… armor? A shrine? A shrine in a way, but built out of personal items. Chainmail hung up with an accruement of weapons staggering down the armor, with a torn and tattered banner of the Goblin Queen presented over the weapons.

Eucarion recognized the heraldry, and the sight of it with the amalgamation of weaponry left a hollow feeling in his gut. He'd rather not see that banner at all, but seeing it so thoroughly trashed did bring him a degree of satisfaction. This had to be Oranssi's, buy why would he construct a shrine for the unburied dead? It certainly must have been one, based on everything he could discern from its construction. Everyone had their demons, Eucarion supposed…

Just then, the ring of a prayer bell from the shrine in the main hall. Oranssi, having returned from a journey, enters the hall, kneeling down and praying. He is dressed in his elven soldier's uniform.

Eucarion notices his entry through the viewlines between the columns. He approaches quietly, but stops at a respectful distance, not wanting to disturb Oranssi's prayers.

Oranssi finishes, opens his eyes half way, and speaks, not moving any other part of his body. "Eucarion, you are very much a being of rumor. I was informed you had left Shore Blossom."

The suddenness of Oranssi's voice startles Eucarion a bit, but he makes no show of it. "I've always been the subject of rumor, Oranssi." He approaches, standing just within the other elf's periphery. "Whoever told you was certainly mistaken. I have taken up residency here. Many welcomes on your return from beyond the Wall. I suppose this is why I have not seen you around the temple?

Oranssi rises and faces Eucarion. "Ah, you must be in the south wing. And yes, we have just returned. Sadly, while our party grows, it has become more divided than ever. I do not see us winning this war."

Eucarion crosses his arms high on his chest. "Hm. So there have been some developments to the situation?"

"Some, but, I must say, I am hungry. Meals have been less then welcoming." As Oranssi leads Eucarion to the kitchen hall, he adds, "I must ask, does your attraction to Odiri have anything to do with her plucking finger?" 

"A meal does sound good right about now." Eucarion nods and follows after Oranssi, walking beside him. He is palpably uncomfortable at the subject of Odiri. "Why? Has she been particularly… out of line? I know she has been denying your healing, which I have told her is entirety foolish.""

"Just her projections, and the timing of her outbursts." As they enter the kitchen Oranssi grabs a pan off a wall hook. "What would you like?"

Eucarion gives a vague motion of his hand. "I'm not picky. Honestly, everything I've eaten in this town, your expertise included, has been a welcome change from whatever mess I was cooking myself in the woods." He finds a nice spot to lean on and observe, cracking his back as he settles in. "As for Odiri, I'm sure you can understand where her anger may be your doing and not necessarily mine."

Oranssi cracks a smile. "Not everything is about you." He conjures up an assortment of ingredients and begins his preparation. " I knew my actions would have consequences. I just wish that the others were not so blind to both the tyranny and creature comforts that Shore Blossom has presented." Oranssi places a plate of grilled mixed greens with a nut paste gyro in front of Eucarion. "Oh how I wish I had this spell ages ago. Sadly, it leaves me weaker of hunger then I was before."

Eucarion gives a little snort of amusement, but he brushes the comment off as Oranssi hands him the food. "Oranssi, thank you, but please, eat first. I have been here all day while you've been off doing god knows what." He pushes the plate back in Oranssi's direction. Taking a more serious tone, he adds, "Part of the reason Im here at all is to step away from all this madness that our company has gotten caught up in. Your actions might have been rash, but I'm glad that you at least see that something must be done here in the name of self-preservation."

"And Kodu would agree with you on that."

"Ha. At least we would agree on something at all."

Oranssi takes the plate, pausing a moment. "Eucarion, do you feel the guards would survive in their present state?"

Eucarion props his head up on his arm, elbow on the counter. "I doubt any of the guards here have ever seen real combat. If there is to be an invasion or even an attack of any serious magnitude, they'd be of little help."

"My thoughts exactly. And honestly, if we were not in proximity of that dragon, I fear the Wall may have chosen them." He brings over a glass of grape wine to Eucarion. "I hope I have your support, but I have begun a training regimen with the guards. They may have not seen battle, but at least they can be prepared for it."

"I am trying to lay off the drink, but I suppose wine doesn't count. Thank you." Eucarion takes the glass. "You absolutely have my support, and I'm perfectly willing to instruct them." He laughs bitterly, swirling the wine around. "I was a high commander once, you know."

"Exactly why I ask. On my examination of the this city, and with Naligor's input, we," Oranssi gestures with his finger back and forth between the two of then, "are the only factions of military here. There is the council, but they are figure heads." Sipping his own cup of blessed wine, he adds, "They can be more dangerous than we could ever be…"

"This council hides much. Unsurprising. It's just what governments do." He pauses a touch too long with the memory of disquieting thought, but he shakes his head and continues. "Frankly, Mato is the only one I trust among them. At least he is willing to part with any sort of information. But still. The lack of a standing army is a concerning indicator of how things run around here. No military means very few in the city have any kind of martial skill. The guards hardly count. Makes a population easy to control, no?" A thought strikes him rather suddenly. "Huh. Perhaps it is exactly because we can fight that the Wall chose us to champion it. Same with the last group."

"And that is why I blessed the table. In some form or another, we adventurers left a mark on that table. Have you noticed that none of the townsfolk sit there? Just us. It's a contract that we unwittingly signed." Oranssi takes a deep, steadying breath, his anger rising quickly as the memories of betrayal came flooding in.

Eucarion reached out, placing a hand on Oranssi's shoulder to ground him. "It just as easily could have been our first going beyond the Wall as it could have been that table. In any case, I do not think there is anything to be done for it now. Madam Saru lied, whatever her reasons for it, but now we must find how to live with this curse."

Oranssi sighs. "Is it just our fate then, to be toys of war?"

"My god, what a way to say it." Eucarion quickly downs the rest of his wine. "Yes, Oranssi. I've concluded it's fucking inescapable."

A somber silence overtakes the kitchen as they both consider this. A sobering notion that no amount of wine, blessed or otherwise, can clear from the mind. Eucarion sighs deeply, drawing his gaze away from Oranssi. A glimmer catches the corner of his eye. Oh? A set of beautiful silver daggers strapped to Oranssi's belt. How hadn't he noticed those before? An idea strikes him.

He motions with his head towards the daggers. "Are those dragon bone?" Oranssi nods. Eucarion smirks, eyes bright with an uncharacteristic glee. "Wanna spar?" 

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A Crumpled Letter

A crumpled ball of parchment lays on the edge of the fountain in the center of market square. Upon inspection it is a letter. Unsealed. Unsent. Forgotten.

It reads:

"Dear Mum,

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write. The past few months have gone by so quickly. I am so sorry I missed Tomb-Sweeping Day. I miss my brother in every waking moment and I know you and father do too.

I have settled in a quiet but beautiful port town. You will be proud to know that I have found employment at a small clothier here. While being a shop girl may not be that exciting it is a safe profession like you always wanted for me. You will be sure to tell father of my employment as I know he is worried I will follow in Orryn’s footsteps. The only adventures I go on are trips to the market in the evenings to spend time with a handsome young gentleman (a halfling of course) who has been courting me proper like. Flowers and all.

Please send my regrets again to Gerrik for canceling the wedding but you know full well, we were not meant for each other. I have faith he will find someone that makes him as happy as my gentleman makes me. I promise to write more now that I am settled.

Your Loving Daughter,

Odiri Reed Olividae

PS – Please don’t try to trace this letter. You can’t."

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Sempur: The Tale of Step and the Word of Water
pt. 1

"Gather 'round and open ears. For today I begin the adventures of a young hero from a far away land."

With a small stick he begins to draw in the dirt.

"Our tale begins, as many do, atop a camel. A camel in the Goshan Wastes."

He finishes the outline drawing of a camel, a man, and the sun.

"A hard land of sand, sun, and dangerous creatures… it is also the land of the O'Aes'Sidhe, the traveling folk of the desert lands. And our hero starts his life as one of them."

"Now the Traveling folk are a mysterious group of dwellers in that land. It is said that in their far roamings under the sun they have unearthed a few of the secret words of the world. Our hero, who we will call Step, is no different. For at a young age he found the words of "here" and "there"… but that is a tale for another day. Today we speak about the desert and water. For water means everything in the hot lands. It means life or death…"

Sempur leaned into the crowd with a flourish. His performance didn't really rely on his charm. He couldn't compare to the local Expression workers, the ones people call Bards, but he did well enough to earn some coin and curiosity. More than good enough for his needs.

"Now Step was a bright child, full of wonder and curiosity, but I'll start his tale as many do… with how his curiosity got him in trouble…"

The crowds here were easy to impress. The ate up truths and lies about his home country with equal fervor. That was well enough. Too much truth would start rumors and eventually leave a trail that could be followed. However it was still nice to tell a story somewhat close to his own.

He continued the tale of how "Step and the Word of Water", but as a few familiar faces passed through the crowd he reflected on his recent journey beyond the wall.

He had arrived in this town weekend freedom in the undiscovered. Surely the Awakened could not find him somewhere they did not know about. The people here were odd and he still had not come up with a decent lie to cover his own talents. He could not pretend to know the majick of this land. He was no Wu Jen with their arcane mysteries. Perhaps he could avoid using his talents. That would be for the best…

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Log I : Day 10
Eucarion's Journal

(OOC: Long overdue lmao)

Tribulations. My god, tribulations!

I returned from my sojourn rather late in the night before Solstice. I'd promised to be back in town by then, but I am plagued to admit the reason was not so plain as I had told Odiri. While away in solitude on the coast, I had penned a necessary letter to my wife. It was not lies, per say, but I did omit some truths I probably should not have. It would be her first word from me in nearly six decades. To inform her that I was potentially engaging in an affair would be… well… Can a man really be blamed? 

At first break of dawn on Solstice, I was up and out the door, hoping I would go unnoticed. I had a boat to catch before it left town. Prior to my departure, I'd come to an arrangement with the captain of a small vessel. For the exchange of some furs I'd poached while beyond the wall, he would ferry my letter to my wife. I pray it finds her. Alive. 

When I returned, intending to rest a little longer, I found at my door an attendant bearing a package of clothes from Madam Saru. Ah, the festival. I believe the attendant was there to help me dress, but I asked him to simply explain the process and leave me be. Blessedly, he obliged and did not press the issue. I bathed privately, happy to be clean of a week's-worth of grit, and dressed. The garments, as comfortable and refreshing as they were, left me feeling rather exposed. I would never dream of wearing something that left my marred skin so much uncovered. I had kept a few of my noble garments, but such attire would probably draw even more attention onto me. I'd just have to bear this. Once I'd finally come downstairs and made my way to our company table, I saw that everyone else was similarly dressed, to varying degrees of success. Frivolity seemed the worst among us. He was practically wearing the thing backwards. I have a number of suspicions to his curious demeanor, but perhaps he is not so unusual for his kind as he seems to my elven sensibilities. I have hardly encountered any Tieflings before him. In any case, this only somewhat relieved my anxieties. I was quickly distracted from my thoughts by my - now concerningly regular- excess of drinking and some rather rowdy discussion to the debatably natural quality of Madam Saru's breasts. 

I only half-heard Shei make some announcement to the common room before down the steps descended a familiarly short frame, but a completely unrecognizable face. It had to have been Odiri, but… my god. She was something lovely. The palpable discomfort from wearing such complicated dress did take away from her pretty visage some, but I refrained from saying anything at all. The others were not so considerate, to say the least, and ripped into her. I tried to be of some assistance to the situation and suggested that we should all head out to the festival, hoping to draw attention off of her. I helped her to her wobbling feet and offered my arm, which she seemed to happily take. I felt my heart flutter in my chest— it cannot be helped.

Walking into town, we fell behind the rest, of course, but I did not mind. At least it gave us some time together. The thought crossed my mind that she may have done this for my sake, considering I'd expressed so frequently before my vexation with her unladylike. Perhaps she'd taken it as a cue to go the most womanly extreme? In truth, I rather liked her messy self. It was endearing in its own right, but, beyond that, she could keep up with me, and even best me. Oh god, what thoughts are these! 

We arrived at last to the center of town, where the festival was in full swing. It seemed like the whole population had come out for the celebration, buzzing with a happy, fervent energy. I had never been one for such festivities back home, but this was such a welcome change from the usual pace of things. It was silly, really, but I felt a little lost among all the commotion. Crowds has always unnerved me—difficult to predict, hard to control, dangerous in combat— but even more so still since I left the woods. As much as I may have been helping Odiri along, her comforting presence was undoubtedly helping me more. 

An arena of sorts had been constructed for the purpose of a tournament of wooden swords. A number of poor were gathered around the entrance, unable to pay the small fee to spectate. Kodu and Oranssi paid for them all. I would expect such behavior of Kodu, but Oranssi's charitable spirit was more surprising than I'd like to admit. Not that I have ever pinned him for selfish, but to reach out to strangers so openly was pleasantly unexpected. Kodu and Frivolity both entered to compete in the conclave. I thought the whole thing a trifle, had no desire to participate, and would join Oranssi in the stands. Odiri paid her entry fee as well, which did not surprise me any, but I did point out to her that it would be rather difficult to fight in a dress and when so heavily ornamented. She'd be at considerable disadvantage. She was rather indignant at the comment, but was unable to leave my side unless she wished to forfeit my steadying arm. I suppose there were some more selfish benefits to chivalry.

The tournament would not be for a few hours, so we were off to kill time at the festival's many game booths. Again, Odiri and I strayed behind, chatting amongst ourselves and handing a flask back and forth. I suspect that our companions have some sort of investment in our <s>courtship</s> relationship, because as we walked, Soveliss cast some sort of illusion upon me. Rather suddenly, the expressions of the party changed to ones of shock and awe. I was rather confused at what he'd done until Odiri tugged at my sleeve and offered her flask. I glanced at my reflection in it and was startled by the sight of my own face, clean and free of hideous scars. I had nearly forgotten my own natural appearance. Even in the woods, I avoided my own sight unless it was necessary. Once, I'd been rather a beauty. Noble breeding and good fortune will do much. I assume the gasps and dismay from the others were at the realization of this fact. But the war took that all from me. I am a man of little vanity, and if not for the constant stares of passerby, I would hardly feel the loss of my good looks. But the fact that— at least upon first meeting — so many cannot return my gaze for fear or disgust of me is difficult to ignore. For a moment, I felt normal again. Soveliss must have seen my amazement and offered kindly to teach me. I do not know if I will take him up on that, but it is certainly tempting.

The first game was a ring toss. Albion, who I did not think had a dexterous bone in his body— no offense—, easily won. A victory came with a prize of some sort, and his was a scroll with some mechanical contraption sketched on it. Everyone else was given a paper prize of some sort, all of which were either dispensed out to passing children or stuck onto Albion's horns for the fun of it.

Next was a water jar game. I had thought not to participate at all, but the spirit of competition got the better of me after seeing Soveliss, Kodu, and Oranssi all fail. I won, but my prize was a little bag containing two tin soldiers, one of which was beheaded. Rather morbid for what I assume was meant to be children's game. It is only by virtue of having to manage myself so often that I was able to shove down the images that particular little trinket conjured. I hastily put it out of sight. Beheadings were never so clean in real life.

Next, we approached a booth where Mato, of all people, was sat on a stool. I only will admit this in the privacy of this journal, but something stirs every time I see that man. I have had a few men in my time, sure. I'm no stranger to such things. But by god, he's a specimen. He welcomed us and informed that the object of this game was to guess his age. That could not have been fair. The man was ancient! We could ask questions, but there were rules to be followed. Kodu being… well… Kodu, went about it with an absolutely inane line of questioning. Admittedly, he has learned much in the ways of correct social interaction, but there is still much road to travel in his unfortunate case. I've met many monks, but none like him. Perhaps it was his specific sect? Or is this merely a product of so few years of life? I fear I am out of touch. He did successfully guess, however, so I suppose there is that to say in his credit. His prize was a rather large jar of Griffin Grease. Whatever the hell that is escapes me, so I can only guess at its use. We did have to convince him to keep it, as he almost immediately went to hand it to a child. His charity may get him into trouble some day. I do not think he is naive enough to be taken advantage of severely, but who is to know? I worry sometimes.

As we proceeded on to the next booth, Frivolity was having quite some trouble with his yukata. Bits were coming undone and he could hardly walk in the thing, tail swinging about. As ridiculous looking as it was, I could only feel pity for him. Shei approached and tried to assist, but she only made things worse. In the struggle to re-dress, the garment ripped, revealing that Frivolity was wearing a corset underneath. He ran away in embarrassment before any more could be revealed. A corset was hardly much to make a fuss about. Though they are women's garments, I have heard of some fops wearing them to improve their figure. Frivolity certainly seemed like the type who would. Suspicious, sure, but to what conclusion? It's rather good then, I suppose, that Frivolity's abilities rely so heavily on magic. That can't be safe to wear in hand combat.

Next was a slingshot game, in which Kodu was the victor. His prize of a mosaic tile was handed off to a happy child. Odiri was positively fuming by this point of the day. She'd taken a turn at every single game and lost miserably, her grip on my arm tightening angrily every time she returned to my side. Others certainly noticed her pint sized fury, including the lucky child. They approached, handing her the mosaic tile piece and saying, "Us kids gotta stick together!" She was stunned to silence as the rest of the party laughed at her expense. Guiltily, I must add, myself included. I can only assume she'd been mistaken this way before. Not that that makes it any better, but. She pressed on ahead of us to the next game.

We came to a target shoot, which Kodu, Odiri, and I entered. Not much of a challenge itself, but my competitive spirit was renewed in facing off with Odiri in particular. A true vie of skill! About as much as I expected, Kodu struck out with some of the worst shooting I'd ever seen. I knew it wasn't his chief skill, but there was no way he was really that bad. Perhaps his luck ran out? The targets were reset for just the two of us. I knew I was the better shot, but why was I so tense then, next to her? I glanced over, covering my apprehensions with a disdainful glance in her direction. She caught my eyes, fumbled, and only for that did I win. I feel a bit of a cheat for that, but the knowledge that it was my look that so unset her is… well…  She was livid, of course, but got a good laugh at my expense when the prize turned out to be a petrified mouse. I mean, I thought it was neat, but I let her have her moment of gloating over my perceived misfortune. We moved on to another game, a coin guess run by Madam Saru, but I was distracted by Odiri's intense rage and paid it no mind. Soveliss won, and still hotter her anger burned.

Before we could move on to the next game, the gong sounded, signaling the start of the tournament. Heading to the arena, Frivolity caught up with us, dressed in his usual clothing. I felt like that was a bit of an unfair advantage, considering everyone else was still in festival garb, but I digress. As we got inside, Odiri started savagely stripping off all her ornaments, throwing everything into my arms as she girded up her loins. Smart, so I suppose I'd have to bear being her attendant for the time, not that I minded. I wished her victory, and she seemed surprised that I was speaking honestly. What reason had I to wish her ill? I believed she would win. She's ferocious, she's capable. 

The first match was between her and and James, one of the guards at port. Probably the quickest bout I've ever seen. She hit him once, and he was down with a discombobulated surrender. Ha! I had a bit of a laugh as she strode back over. As we watched the next couple of matches, I leaned over the railing to pass back and forth the flask. A bit of liquor always goes down well with entertainment. The match between Kodu and Bob from the Gate when about the same with a single strike finish. Kodu did help his opponent to his feet; he's a good kid, even if he is a bit of annoying shit. The only reason I haven't put him into a headlock over language semantics yet is because I know he'd beat me. I've never been good with hand-to-hand, and I don't think I could live down that kind of defeat. Frivolity matched up against Gabriel, another port guard, and felled him on the second stroke. Naligor had finally arrived to join us by this point in the afternoon, resting off a hangover perhaps. Charka certainly missed him, seeing as she immediately perked up at his presence. He gave his hellos, we exchanged some snidery, and he went to sit up elsewhere in the stands, where he was filled in on the proceedings by a fantastically boisterous local. A mysteriously masked entrant next went up against Tim, Bob's partner. I couldn't particularly recognize who it was, though his stance and style seemed familiar. More than a few hits were exchanged before Tim was unfortunately felled by the man.

Odiri handed her flask back up to me as she went out to face Frivolity. I had full confidence that she would win, but as the bout went on, far longer than all the others, I found my worry growing with each strike. I had not expected Frivolity to be quite so good with a sword. Odiri was getting absolutely pummeled, so I couldn't help but whoop with joy when she finally landed a hit on the tiefling. Across the jaw! Spectacular! But one good strike is not enough to win a battle. I could see her wobbling on her feet as Frivolity rained down blows on her, and it pained me that I could do nothing but sit there and grind my teeth as she was beaten down. Odiri fell, and I immediately hopped over the barrier, lifting her up and carrying her out of the ring. We retreated up into the stands and I tended to her. In hindsight, my god, how that must have looked. Well, if our relations weren't obvious before, I'm sure they were quite obvious then. As I cast healing on her and made her comfortable, Naligor came down to give his simpering commentary. I said I wasn't her lover, which is true. We have had no relations of that sort… yet. (Oh god, head out of the gutter, Eucarion. You're married! I should at least wait until I get a response…) Soveliss had some similar jabs to throw, to which I responded in kind. None too pleased, he dropped the illusion that had been keeping my face clean. A few heads turned in our direction and I knew I was being stared at, but it simply didn't matter. All my focus was on Odiri.

As Odiri came in and out of wakefulness, I sat with her across my lap, intermittently fanning her and carding my hands through her hair soothingly as the next bout went on. Admittedly, my attentions were rather occupied as Kodu faced off against the masked man. The man hardly got a hit in between Kodu's talented assault. With a stellar hit, the mask tore and the man hit the ground. A-ha! It was Oranssi all along. I knew I recognized something about him. Some devilish part of me was rather pleased to see him knocked on his ass so gloriously.

After a break of an hour's time, both Odiri and Oranssi awoke. I was expecting Odiri to move, but, to my great satisfaction, she remained, propped up against my legs. The final bout between Kodu and Frivolity began. I expected a rather interesting match, but it was a stalemate! Neither would strike first! Mato eventually came down to the arena and called it a draw. The fury of the crowds at such a poor conclusion to the tourney was quickly quelled by Frivolity purchasing ale for everybody in the stands. The prize, an enchanted scabbard, was handed to Kodu. 

The festival was once again bustling as the commotion of the crowd spilled back out of the arena. We moved on to play the rest of the games. I decided to sit them out, give Odiri more of a chance. One of those perfectly silly, chivalrous notions. In any case, I didn't leave her sight. She didn't seem quite steady on her own after that knock out. There was a bag toss, where Naligor won, and a fishing game, where Soveliss won an orb engraved with strange runes. We came to a "dunk the fool" sort of game, where the fool in question thought it funny to prey on Odiri. The barker didn't help any, as he mistook Odiri for a child. Twice in one day! Certainly does happen often. He did apologize and allow her a free turn, so I suppose there was something to be won. By the time she turned around to take a shot, Kodu had climbed into the fool's seat. Odiri was absolutely thrilled and, with a single well-placed shot, knocked him into the water with one of the most disturbing giggles I have ever heard.

The last game was a challenge to lift a barrel of water without spilling the water inside. Kodu, Albion, and Naligor all failed, but Oranssi, the clever shit, played smarter instead of harder. He cast something on the barrel, lightening it to where he could lift it. Absolutely cheating, but commendable that he'd even try. Soveliss, I assume because he is a fellow caster, noticed and caused an illusion of spilling water, forfeiting the win for Oranssi. The others encouraged me to give the barrel a go, so I obliged them. Oranssi's spell was still active, so I lifted it easily. I considered doing a one handed maneuver, but flashing a smirk in Oranssi's direction was enough to rub it in. The look on his face! Ha! Golden as his corps. The prize was some sort of packet of pink powder, which I handed over to Odiri. As much as there was groaning from the peanut gallery, she was  pleased and that's what mattered.

As we continued to walk about the festival, admiring the sights, it began to rain quite suddenly. Then, everyone in town was frozen still, as though turned to stone, and as the hum of civilization was rendered deathly silent. A glowing dome of light from beyond the wall enveloped the sky above us. Naligor, trying to sense the nature of the magic, was brought to his knees in agony. As quickly as it came, the dome vanished. The people, too, vanished, and only the members of our party were left. Our keys began to glow with an unknown intensity, and we were all suddenly outfitted in our usual gear, armed with our weapons. In the distance, a black dragon, ridden by a weretiger and flanked by kobolds, rapidly approached us. There was no time to think before we were launched into a brutal battle. Odiri landed a shot on the dragon, and Naligor called upon the power of the moon as he transformed into a spider. We scarcely got into a formation before the dragon hit us full in the face with its acidic breath, swiping at us with its wings as it touched down. Frivolity brought down a few of the kobolds with a sleeping spell, killing them instantly as they hit the ground. My arrows flew true and Soveliss landed blows of fire on the dragon, but Kodu really shined in this battle. He grappled the thing! I forget he is so young, and I am only reminded at the strangest of times, in such feats of power most. As the weretiger jumped off the dragon's back, Albion landed a solid swing of his axe into him, shoving him with his horns too. Odiri shot at the dragon with her pistol— since when did she have a pistol? Naligor transformed into a direwolf, redirecting the moonbeam onto the tiger, while Frivolity downed the rest of the kobolds in the sky. The dragon faced our repeated blows as the weretiger was transformed back into a man, attacking Naligor. Soveliss jumped in to light up the tiger in a blaze of fire, but as he did, all his hair suddenly fell out! There would be a time and place to poke fun, and most assuredly I would, but that time was not then and nor was it the place. Motes of sunlight enveloped us as Oranssi healed our wounds. We fought on, viciously. Kodu beat down the dragon, killing it by slitting its throat in a fantastic spray of acid and blood. My god, he's something else. The man surrendered, but I could see from his attitude he meant it tauntingly. I was about to step in to defend his right, but Albion knocked him out cold with a mighty thunk of his axe. 

After some argument as to what to do, we decided to take the dragon and the weretiger elsewhere to be dealt with and that the blood in the streets would be cleaned off. If the elders were to believe us that this happened, at least the print of the dragon's body would have to be left. As we carted everything away to a warehouse in port, a sudden rush of magic overtook the city once more and all the commotion of the festival resumed. There were no burns. There were no prints. There was no damage. There was not a thing at all. I felt keenly disturbed, as did the others. Naligor ran to fetch Elder Yen as Oranssi did Mato. 

When they arrived at the warehouse, Soveliess tried to explain what had occurred, but Elder Yen did not care to listen to any of us. Mato commented that such an event "might have killed the last group", launching us into an even greater frenzy of questions. Thought it had been vaguely mentioned before by Madam Saru, she had not given the whole story. Mato explained that the last group of adventurers to come into town and carve her table had indeed disappeared during the rebellion, but there damages were found unrelated to the actions of the rebellion and the group's corpses were never found. In a fury, Oranssi stormed off with an exclamation of "that witch!" and nothing more. Soveliss tried to convince Elder Yen with the goblin scroll he'd found on the last outing beyond the wall, but nothing would sway him. At least Mato was sympathetic to our case. Yen doubts and in doing so, he invites war. How could he be so confident in the Wall's ability to protect the city? It may have in the past, but the town had never faced such dangers as now. There's Blood Spattered Snow Tiger, but there is the Goblin Queen too. What's more, only we, those who had marked upon the table, experienced what we had. We, of our own foolish wills, had gone beyond the wall and been branded by its keys. Branded indeed! Are we slave to it now, forced to fights its battles? And we did this, yes, but I alone did too. I joined this group of my own volition, and so have led myself to cursehood? I would have sooner stayed in the damn woods than involve myself in another war! Mato noticed my silence and reached out to me for my thoughts, but I could say nothing. He offered that we talk over tea on the matter, which placated me some. Odiri placed her hand on my arm, a small comfort that quieted the roar of my disquiet thoughts. As others vowed to stay and fight, I could not speak up.

We parted ways for the time, nothing else to be done then. Odiri and I walked solemnly back to the Rose Shell, seeking rest and decompression from the day's madness. But no relief there. The moment we entered, our eyes turned to the table. All the work, gone! Odiri's carvings, Adi's. All our marks upon it. This had to be Oranssi's doing. Odiri was outraged. I tried to console her, but she brushed me off and stormed upstairs. I followed, uneasy, and found her room a disaster of rage. She'd cut her foot on a broken mug too, so I stayed to tend to it and offer what comforts I could.

I will not lie here. We kissed, again. And we would have gone further too had I said nothing. Wandering thoughts of Allaya plague me still, and so long as I know not the state of her, I cannot break faith. I like Odiri. I do. But… No. I cannot. Too much noise occupies my agitated mind. I will speak to Mato, and perhaps take sanctuary in the temple if he should allow it. As much as it pains me to leave my companions, perhaps some time away from all of this will do me good…

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Catch a tiger by the toe...tie him up, and beat him bloody
A Torture and Tea Party

"Lady's grace, you awake?" Frivolity asks prodding the prisoner with his stave. "I brought you some tea, two cups, and a little grub. I was hoping we could wigwag our lips a tad."

The weretiger prisoner says "Gnnah, blaw, gaw," through his gag.

"Oi. Let me help you with that rag," Frivolity says pulling the gag out of the weretigers mouth, "Now do you take milk in your tea?"

"Yes," the prisoner says.

"Now where was I? Hmm one lump or two?" Frivolity says quietly almost to himself, lifting a bottle to the tea cup.

"One," the prisoner says.

Frivolity shakes out a lump of curdled goat milk into the tea cup, saying "You certainly are a man of few words," the tiefling observes, "Sugar?"

"Ugh, what is that smell?!" the prisoner exclaims.

"Oh that is better, just my tea," the tiefling says, "NOW TO PREPARE YOURS!," he shouts pouring a stream of white powder into the cup of steaming water, "Careful its hot, and not all of us are demonkin. I wouldn't want to see you scald yourself."

"I'm tied up," the weretiger says unsettled by this behavior.

"Yes, I'm afraid you will have to remain so, regrettable," the tiefling says lifting the cup of sweet tea to the lips of the prisoner "Please drink. I'm terribly sorry about what will come next."

"Right," the prisoner says sardonically, steeling himself for torture, "Gah. its hot," he says as Ramshackle pours some boiling hot tea onto the weretigers face. 

Ramshackle produces a case, and opens it to show the bound prisoner a light hammer, a mallet, and a meat tenderizer, "You must understand that I do not wish to scrub you. But you won't speak the dark of Blood Spattered Snow Tiger so it comes to this. I have taken an oath and sworn a sacred pact in blood."

"You'll never get me to talk!"

Ramshackle lifts the meat tenderizer, "Perhaps," he says as he swings the metal head at the prisoners face. THWACK! The weretiger immediately begins to regenerate. THWACK! the tenderizer rebounds from the flesh of the prisoners face. THWACK! THWACK! THWACK! the tenderizer strikes the prisoner and blood sprays. 

"Stop!" the prisoner cries even as the muscle in his cheek begins to reknit and heal itself.

"NO," Frivolity shouts, "I DO NOT ENJOY THIS!" Ramshackle continues "All are spawned INNOCENT, and then CORRUPTED," he screams "or indoctrinated to EVIL. I swore an OATH to be different," THWACK he slams the meat tenderizer into the prisoner again "To offer all a chance at redemption," the tiefling paladin says dropping the meat tenderizer.

"What are you doing?" the prisoner says his voice ragged from the beating.

Ramshackle picks up the light hammer from the case, "I OFFER REDEMPTION!" he screams with ear splitting volume amplified by a simple cantrip and pauses before taking the hammer to the prisoners toes.



After thirty minutes of beating and torturing the weretiger, Ramshackle is completely covered in blood and finally is able to get a charm to take hold and then begins to interrogate the prisoner in earnest. The charm only lasts a minute though, so if necessary he can lay on hands for 1 point of healing and then beat him back down to zero allowing Ramshackle to charm him again for another minute. This means that he can be forced to answer questions truthfully for twenty minutes.

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Past, Present and Future
A Group Meditation

"Everyone must find their center. Focus on your breathing. Slower and slower. In for four, hold for seven, out for eight and repeat. Still your thoughts and quiet your minds"

"OOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!"

"Quiet your minds and your voices, Master Ramshackle."

"BAR THAT BERK!" The Tiefling shouts seriously "Ain't no barmy siren you addle-cove git." The children giggle.

The monk smiles while maintaining his peaceful stance. "Slow your breathing and movements. Focus as we move in to 'The Silver Watches Vigil' slowly. Thoughts will ebb and flow around your mind. Let them come; let them go. The past will visit you in this state. Thoughts of the present will also come and you must let that go as well. The truly fortunate will see future's infinite possibility; You must let that go as well. All there is; is now"

The festival comes to his mind. The games… Oh how they laughed. Little Odiri being mistaken for a child, by a child, was the heartiest of guffaws amongst the group. Odiri's frustration at not winning anything was endearing. Kodu pretended to compete in the archery tournament and hit everything he aimed at. Odiri's target, the hay bail behind his and then he sank an arrow so deep into the leg of his own target stand that the the man who ran the game gave up trying to pull it out and left it there for the rest of the festival (He later used it as a comedy routine "remember to aim. You don't want to be the guy who did this"). Then came the sword tournament, the Beyonders fought well. Frivolity and Kodu were the last in the ring; the result being the audience's disappointment of no aggression at all culminated in a draw. Then there was the back and forth of who earned the reward. Both 'winners' stating that the other performed so admirably that he deserved it.

"Now we transition to 'Repelling the Red's Flame"

The dragon attacked. The town became desolate and the Beyonders recieved their trademark keys from going beyond the wall. How could this be when they were within the walls? Time would tell, but not at that moment. The battle was difficult and a hard won; yet the Beyonders prevailed and even took a captive.

"Slowly, Calmly hold your last position before moving to 'Talkative Brass' and hold"

His thoughts shift to the ogre. The mental image stands with a club in hand and moves to strike (Kodu knows this isn't how it happened), yet it collapses mid-swing of its mighty club. Syd's, his friend and teacher, image jumps out from behind of the creature wielding a glowing blade much longer than the actual blades she uses. The locket dominates his third eye. It begins to glow as a flame, a light, an arcane symbol and an indistinguishable phrase escape from the locket's sides. The locket then morphs itself into the silvery scaled face of a dragon.

"Now we flow into 'Form of the White's Demise"

"Oi. Down in front. How do you get your leg up so high? Never been one for the scrub, me," the tiefling squeals "I think I'm going to need some shackles and chains to follow your act."

"Just do the best you can, Master Ramshackle. Now extend your arms to 'The Heavens' Infinite Embrace"

The silverdragon sprouts vines from its cheeks as its scale darken to a blackish-green and its visage soon twists to resemble the blights encountered not long ago. The blights then merge together to form the image of Poisoned Harvest, The Yomi prince. It wields Verdant Justice yet never gets to swing the staff. Instead it just bursts into flames which engulf the priest's entire mind's eye.

"Keep your center as we slowly descend into 'The Crouch of the Wyrmling's Hatch"

A black silhouette emerges from the flames and stands in similar posture as Kodu's. As the flames die away it appears to be Kodu, only different; Shimmering scales permeate the more tender parts of his skin. He begins to feel an itching sensation within his own body in all the places this Kodu has scales.

"We now move forward and through and hold in 'Stance of the Copper's Laughter"

"Oi. I ain't no Sensate, this hurts. What's with all the rough stuff, you on the make, Kodu?"

"Shift to your right leg and keep your center, Master Frivolity"

"Oi! That's slightly less scrubby, but I still think you are barmy. Feels like we should be applying all this scrubbing to that prisoner we caught. Back in Sigil this aint proper behavior for spawn to watch you skeg!". The children burst out in laughter.

"You may now rest in neutral position, if you wish; I will continue on to 'Unending Balance of the Stable Mind"

His thoughts move to Oranssi. Now is not the time for confliction, but these thoughts must come and be let go. The poor elf has gone mad. No longer does he act in prudence. First; the knee-jerk reaction of erasing the table. This was not an act of a learned cleric, but an impulsive and brash anger. Then, secondly; the suggestion of raising the dead… the dead! Such an action is an affront to ALL of demi-humanity. Thirdly; It has been obvious for some time that he is no fan of non-elven kin. He even slights the half elfkin when he acts less than elven, but his actions suggest the immediacy of most humans and less expected wisdom than his race would suggest; He does not see the hypocrisy either! I know he respects me for being "Virulent", as he states, but now that we have more humans within the Beyonders; The monk fears this elf's nature will have a direct impact on Mr. Sempur, Elura, Olma and Syd (who has proven herself far more than capable).

"Let it go and transition to 'Gold's Tanacity"

He slips back into his trance to see Syd grasping for the hilt of a sword with no blade. The blade always just out of reach. She scrambles to get closer as it moves just as much. 'You have my promise. The blade will be yours', he muses. The image slowly transforms into Blood-spattered Snow Tiger. She chortles before disappearing into black.

"Back to neutral position. That's enough for today. Who brought their wooden swords?"

The children all cheer as Frivolity lays on the ground grasping his calf muscle. Kodu scratches the unstoppable itch on his neck and then helps the demonkin up.

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Letters from Odiri - Pt. 7
Chapter 12 - New Friends & Long Journeys

OOC – Hastily written in a messy script. Several lines attempted to be scratched out by ink)

 

<s>My Eucarion,</s>

<s>Dearest Eucarion,</s>

<s>Dear Eucarion,</s>

Eucarion,

I hope this letter finds you well. I cannot apologize enough that you waited for nearly two weeks for this letter. I did not intend to make you worry. I’m not sure if you saw as you left but Madam Saru has used her magicks to restore my work to the table. As overjoyed as I am, I still have no trust for Oranssi and have let him know as such. In the wake of a heated discourse with him I had to make arrangements to protect my own health. I my actions may have been rash but I cannot stand for his own impetuous actions poisoning the peace of the charter.

In more entertaining news, our charter has gained two new members! A performing lass by the name of Elura and her valet? Mr. Sempur. She seems to hail from The Republic and be close friends of Madam Saru.  Her talents know no bounds between song, dance and the sharpest tongue I have heard outside of the angriest Halfling mother. Mr. Sempur is charming in a quiet way and seems to be traveling for the sake of traveling.

You will be pleased to know our companions have finally destroyed one of the 7 Yomi Princes. A living tree of sorts burnt to cinders with the help of Soveliss. On their outing they also recovered several more weapons for the case including a fine set of unbreakable arrows that appear to have originally belonged to the adventurers of the Romance of the Seven Kingdoms. I had a chance to use them on our expedition and I’ll tell you this, I have never had a smoother shot.

As for our expedition, that slick little thing, Syd, had a vision while on the verge of death of a weapon that holds the power of the sun. She seems to have this deep seated aggression against the undead and her power within group is growing exponentially. The details are hazy but she had come across a compass to direct her to this weapon from her vision and that was the impetus of our outing. 

Little did we know how long and far this compass would take us. On our 3rd day our horses were attacked by a gryphon on the hunt for food. As much as it pained me to bring down such a glorious beast the safety of our party was tantamount. The rest of the days of travel passed with no real challenge. A beast or two here and there, easily brought down by our party despite the rift between Oranssi and I. <s>Every night, from what little sleep I could get my dreams were occupied by you</s>

We passed through a grove with the most phenomenal bone white trees with blue leaves and also a field of what looked to be burial mounds but we gave them quite the wide berth as to not disturb the sanctity of a final resting place. When we alighted upon what seemed to be our goal it reminded me greatly of Lady Hana’s grove. A large round domed building surrounded by flowers. From what we could gather this was Ashiko’s Haven. Ashiko being the priest from Prince Yuan’s party. There was a lovely statue of the sun goddess Artemestia in front of the building that was in impeccable shape, like it had just left the artist’s hands, despite the decrepit state of the rest of our surroundings.

Syd was eager to find this magic sun blade and we plunged forward into the darkness of the building only to be surprised by freshly lit candles upon making it into the entry hall. The air inside was disquietingly cold for a temple supposedly devoted to the sun. I was shocked to find that Syd has the ability to sense the undead the same as we do with natural beasts. There were eleven undead within less than a mile of us so I knew our work was cut out for us. Within steps of entering, dear sweet Albion was hit rather viciously with a trap of poison arrows. Luckily, Naligor came to the rescue and was able to cure him of the poison.

We attempt to go along a little less recklessly but the size of the hallway made it nearly impossible to travel in anything but single file. I took the back knowing my range if we did happen upon anything and Gods above did we happen upon something. In the second room we were greeted by four zombie Ogres. I couldn’t even fathom how they got in there as they were too big to leave and there was nearly no room to get around them. One by one we would dip into the room lay on some hurt and retreat to the safety of the hallway. Mr. Sempur surprised me with his ability to speak his magicks and cause impressive damage with just words. While Elura did something similar but of her own flavor. She literally taunted the poor dumb undead things to death. Albion did most of the work downing two of the four but Syd took out a third and to my pride Xiao took out a fourth. Upon inspection the foul things were branded by Blood- Spattered Snow Bitch. It concerns me greatly that her reach is this far but we can speak of such concerns at a later date.

The keys returned us home before we could go further and while it may not be obvious I think Syd is upset that we were returned so soon after her goal was so close. I want to help her retrieve this blade if it means so much to her.

I do not know if it is even my privilege to say this yet but, I miss you. I miss even just the sound of your voice. Memories of you keep a smile on my face but, my face misses your gentle touch. Will you see me? I’ll be waiting at the fountain in market square at sundown.

Yours,

Odiri

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Story Time with Odiri - Pt. 6
Adventure 10 - Festival Follies

After a night’s fitful rest Odiri makes her way down to the kitchen of the Rose Shell Tea House avoiding looking at the table wiped clean of her hard work not ready to face the resulting anger it would instill. She found the friendly face she was looking for as Shei looks up from her task of chopping vegetables. Odiri felt Shei was the only person left in this town she could speak too without fear of consequence.  The maid pauses her chopping to slide a bowl of fresh fruit across the sturdy work table and uses her cooking knife to point at the stool. “Sit, eat, talk” Shei commands. Odiri climbs onto the stool and stares at the bowl of fruit disinterestedly.

The day started so well, I don’t know how it ended like this. I made my way down the stairs my heart thumping in my chest. I was nervous for sure. I was sure the rest of the boys would all tease me but it wasn’t for them. You saw how they all reacted. They all but laughed at me! Soveliss was the last person I expected kindness from. Well, he also seemed to pay you quite the kindness too.” With that Odiri smirks at Shei’s wildly blushing cheeks. “I’ve never seen you so flustered Shei. Eucarion seemed to be back to his normal apathetic self with that jab about my lack of ladylikeness. I was wondering if he had changed his mind after his time out beyond the wall alone. I was dead-set on enjoying myself at the festival so after I downed yet another cup of sake proffered by Soveliss, the whole lot of us made our way to the festival grounds on the outskirts where the city proper meets the farmlands. The yukata, as beautiful as it was, restricted my movement in tandem with the damn wooden sandals so I quickly fell behind. Eucarion, noticing my struggle, slowed his pace and offered his arm like a gentleman. His chivalry was a refreshing change.”

The festival was quite a thing to behold. A sea of colorful garb, brightly embellished stands selling food and trinkets and an entire section of festival games gathered towards the back. Off to the side I noticed a small arena with a banner stating “Tournament of The Wooden Blade” The entry fee was steep at 25g but a chance to beat up on some of my fellows in some friendly competition was beyond worth it. Eucarion’s surprised face as I paid my entry fee was worth the gold pieces already. I noticed both Kodu and Frivolity also buy in for the tournament. I did not feel prepared in any way to match blades with either of them but I can’t say no to a challenge. There were a few hours to kill before the tournament so the boys and I decided to try our hand at some of the games.” Odiri idly rolls an apple between her hands with no real intention to eat it while she continues her story.

There was a ring toss that Albion won with surprising dexterity. Eucarion solidly won the water jar game, gaining himself a pair of toy soldier, one missing a head. What sort of prize is that? Kodu attempted to match wits with Matu at an age guessing game and surprisingly won. In the middle of it all Frivolity seemed painfully uncomfortable in their yukata. There was a ripping noise behind us and before we knew it Frivolity had run away from the festival. I could not help but worry for them. This was supposed to be an afternoon of fun.  We turned our attentions back to the games to see Kodu win spectacularly at a slingshot game. Despite the afternoon meaning to be one of fun I was beginning to feel particularly frustrated by my companions winning the grand prizes before I even got a chance to play. As I moped, a youngster in pigtails runs to me and hands me the painted mosaic tile that Kodu had just won with a chipper ‘Us little girls have to stick together!’ It wasn’t the first time I had been confused for a child but it just soured my mood even further and fanned the spark of my competitive nature. The next game I was sure I was going to win. Target shooting isn’t a game it was what I was raised to do! Myself, Kodu and Eucarion lined up to take our shots and Eucarion and I beat Kodu into the ground. I don’t know what he was thinking going up against us. Eucarion and I had been evenly matched in score so the host of the game decided to pit us against each other on a single target. I was nervous, as I had yet to meet someone as strong with a bow as I. We each nocked and arrow and I looked over my shoulder at him to catch him doing the same. I felt like I had my legs swept out from under me as his piercing grey eyes met mine and his lips curled into a smirk. He turned back to the target and I was left flustered. My shot was pathetic and it was all his charming fault. Ass. I felt redeemed when his ‘grand’ prize was a bizarre petrified mouse. The look on his face made losing completely worth it but my competitive fire was still rolling when the gongs announced the beginning of the Tournament.” Noticing Odiri would rather play with the apple rather than eat it Shei snatches the away and puts it back in the bowl replacing it instead with a steamed bun fresh from its bamboo basket.

Odiri goes on while very slowly picking at the bun still lacking an appetite “Frivolity showed back up just in time for the tournament wearing their normal clothes looking significantly more comfortable. I was a touch jealous because I realized that I would have to fight in the borrowed yukata. Just before we reached the stands I turned to Eucarion and asked him if he would come watch me fight. The candor of his response emboldened me. With an affirmative nod he tells me ‘I sincerely hope you win’. I entered the arena as I was in the first match with one of the town guards and he stood at the rail to one side. I handed the flagon of ale I had been nursing for most of the festival up to Eucarion and followed it with my belt pouch, hair combs and sandals. I needed to be flat footed if I even had a chance to win. I couldn’t tell if he was flustered or frustrated from my vantage point but regardless seeing him hold and armful of my things made me chuckle. In a deft move from my childhood of being forced to wear dresses I gathered the hem of my yukata and tucked it through my legs and pulled it back ‘round to tie in the front to protect my modesty should I fall. My first fight was won with a single blow! The guard yielded almost instantly.  I leaned back against the railing to observe the next couple rounds as Kodu and Frivolity both also won their match with a single blow. A masked man went up against a guard but I was a bit distracted by Eucarion helpfully lowering my ale to me and taking it back as I steeled myself for my match against Frivolity. They proved to be much more of an opponent than I was expecting when I watched Frivolity knock the guard out cold.”

When it was finally time for me to go against Frivolity I shook their hand sportsmanly and stepped back into a fighting stance. The fight was such a blur. I felt evenly match with them for much of the fight but I could feel my stamina start to wane. One particularly good shot almost won me the upper hand but it was returned in kind. I felt like every muscle in my body was stinging in protest and was ready to yield until I heard Eucarion cheering me from the stands. No matter how undaunted hearing him cheer for me made me feel, the truth of the matter is that I was losing. It wasn’t till I started to get swallowed by darkness that I realized I had lost. The fog lifted just enough to first see Frivolity’s worried face to be quickly replaced Eucarion’s. Things fell dark again and the next thing I remember is waking up lying atop Eucarion’s legs while he and Naligor were nattering back and forth. I can’t recall the start of the conversation but I know it ended with Eucarion whispering back to Naligor ‘I’m not her lover. We are just close’. I slipped in and out of consciousness for some time each waking moment was met alternately with comfort of his hands stroking my hair and the cool breeze of a fan on my face. When I finally felt completely recuperated I strongly debated just keeping my eyes closed and staying there with him but I knew that could not last forever.  I sat up on my own accord and leaned against him for stability while we watched the final fight of the tournament. Well, what would have been a fight if Frivolity and Kodu ever got around to hitting each other. The just stood there in defensive stances until Matu was fed up enough to call it a draw. The crowd was none too happy about that but Frivolity kept the peace with an offer of ale for the whole stadium.

Shei continued to go about preparing the day’s morning meal nodding along as Odiri recounts the day prior. “While I still felt shaky after falling in the tournament the whole group of us still wanted to go back to enjoying the festival. Eucarion stayed close by like a mother hen with the most entertaining worried glances until he felt I was truly stable on my own two feet. Naligor won a delicate glass chess piece in a bag toss game that he eagerly showed me like a puppy with a scrap of raw hide but my attentions were elsewhere walking side by side with Eucarion. A dunk tank game was there and the barker called out to us and mistook me for a little girl AGAIN. Seeing my obvious frustration Kodu went over to chat with the ‘fool’. To my surprise Kodu traded precarious places with the fool and goaded me into taking my best shot. A chance to drench that monk was quite a pleasure when my throw hit the target dead on. I smiled up at Eucarion and he looked impressed. My prize was a delicate folding fan with a sleeping cat depicted on it. After a few more games we finished up with some debacle with lifting a barrel of water above one’s head. I knew there was no way I could do it so I let the boys fight over who got to try first. After several failures by the others, Eucarion lifted the barrel over his head as if it was a feather winning him an odd packet of pink powder which he promptly gifted to me claiming ‘pink was not his color’” Odiri chuckles at the memory but then her face turns solemn.

The peace of the day did not last long. Thunderclouds closed in on the port like a storm and in an instant a glowing dome started to envelope the sky above us. The townspeople were frozen mid conversation and a maddening silence flooded over us. In his attempt to suss out the magic of this dome, Naligor was struck to his knees overwhelmed. When the dome closed over us every single towns person disappeared. In a nearly blinding flash our keys glowed brilliantly and we were suddenly equipped with our armors and weapons, yukatas gone. In the distance we saw a number of beings approach from the sky. The moment these creatures broke the cloud cover we saw exactly what we were up against. Coming straight for us was a dragon as black as death with it’s weretiger rider and a wreath of five winged kobolds ‘round it. I steadied myself for a fight beside Eucarion with Charka and Xiao at our respective sides. My first arrow flew true for a solid hit on the weretiger and Naligor brought the moon’s burning light to our aid before transforming to a wolf. Once the dragon landed we had no time to regroup our effort before it struck us down with with it’s breath of acid. I felt like my skin was on fire and it almost dropped me to my knees. But, I was not the only one to be hit with this noxious acid. Eucarion, Kodu and Naligor were all reeling from such a hit. With their typical ease, Frivolity dropped  two of the five kobolds to their death with sleep and Soveliss fired off a volley of magic fire. The healing touch of Oranssi’s sun Goddess brought us renewed vigor as Eucarion hits the dragon square in the chest with an arrow. With dumbfounding strength Kodu grappled the dragon to the ground and kept it still for us to continue our attack. The rest of the kobolds were done in by Frivolity’s death nap. More arrows were launched between Eucarion and I doing our best to defend our animal companions who were both failing magnificently. Naligor’s moonbeam forced the weretiger’s shape back to that of a man in between attacks from all sides. I turned to Soveliss in time to see blue flames of his own creation engulf his body painlessly burning away his long red tresses. I had no time to pity his loss as I had my own loss as Eucarion left my side to join the thick of things. I kept my bow trained to ensure his safety above all others but with everyone so close in I had no clear shot. With a deft move from Kodu the dragon was downed with a slit to it’s throat and a flurry of kicks. The were tiger in his human form realized he was outnumbered and surrendered to us. At his surrender Albion knocked him out cold with a heavy thump.”

Shei had completely stopped her cooking tasks and was staring mouth agape “His hair is GONE?” Odiri blinks a few times in silence then retorts “I just told you the city was attacked by a DRAGON and you are worried about Soveliss’ hair???” With an indignant huff Shei turns around to busy herself again with the food she had going in the wok. Odiri rolls her eyes and goes on “Once everything started to settle and the weretiger was bound, I made it back to Eucarion’s side. There was discussion of our next steps and we concluded the best action would be to drag the dead beasts and the prisoner out of public view to deal with it in private. The moment we closed the warehouse doors there was a pop noise and a rush of noise and to our surprise the townsfolk were back as if nothing had just happened. I can only imagine it has something to do with the walls ability to protect its residents. I set to work tearing down the dragon because we couldn’t indefinately keep an animal this large from rotting and I knew Elder Yen would be wildly appreciative for the components. Regrettably, being shoulder deep in dragon meat prevented me from hearing much of the discussion that happened after the town returned to its original state. I was told that there was no indication of even a scuffle at the site of our battle. Elder Yen and Matu were fetched to the warehouse and the menfolk became wildly heated in discussion of the happenings. In between my workings I heard snips of things like ‘the previous group of adventurers must have died that way’ that caught my attention long enough to see Oranssi storm off shouting “That witch!” at the time I had no idea what had set him off so. Elder Yen seems indifferent to things which aggravated the menfolk even more especially Kodu and Soveliss. Matu seems to support us despite Elder Yen’s opinions. There seems to be a consensus that the wall has chosen us as its champions and that has given the town a diverging opinion that we are either fools or heroes. After finishing the grueling task of dismantling the dragon and kobolds for their most valuable goods I rinsed myself as clear of blood and offal as I could at a nearby well. As I returned I witnessed the room had calmed at least somewhat and Eucarion and Matu were having a hushed conversation that piqued my interest but all calm was shattered when Oranssi returned to the warehouse all full of piss and vinegar and gestured directly to me and exclaimed ‘I value your life, even if you don’t value mine!’ I had no idea what he meant until I made it back here” Odiri gestures vaguely to the Rose Shell with the steamed bun growing cold in her hand.

Shei frowns deeply and leans against the heavy kitchen table. “I tried to stop him Odiri. I really did. I know how hard you worked on those carvings. It was just a table. I don’t know what he had made up in his mind that the table had anything to do with this all. I just know that he was in a rage as he made me pack up his things. He’s moved to the temple so for now he will not trouble you. The Madam knows of what he did and said she would see to it personally. The pressing matter of it all is what did I do to deserve you shattering things in your room for me to clean up today?” Odiri winces at the mention of the destruction she wreaked on her own room, “You heard that?”  Shei nods “I was going to go upstairs to check on you but I noticed Eucarion beat me to it. I will admit I lingered for a little just to make sure he was not being an arrogant ass as he is wont to be. So…that kiss eh?” Odiri drops the steamed bun in surprise “SHEI! How could you! That was a private moment!” Odiri points accusatorily at her friend in her exclamation. Shei laughs heartily, “If you wanted privacy maybe you should have closed the door. If I was kissed like that I would not have let a man leave my chambers till morning, what did you do to scare him away you silly halfling?” Odiris face screws up in a confused frown. “He…He needs time. I have to respect that. Shei he’s married…We should not be kissing in the first place.” Shei sighs and eyes the contemplative halfling with a look bordering on pity. “What are we gonna do with you Odiri.” 

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Atonement Ceremony
Frivolity prays for the souls of those slain in battle, and for the lives cut short.

As the tiefling completes negotiations with the upper planar, the light in the shrine of stars fades away to almost nothing. From the east, a faint greenish orange glow can be seen from waters edge, the light of dawn slowly spreading fingers through the clouds and sea. Recognizing that time grows short Frivolity Ramshackle begins a final ceremony. The tiefling thinks that there will be time enough to rest at the festival after all.  

"For the souls, through action or inaction I have consigned to the Outer Planes, I seek pardon, Ptah," the tiefling says solemnly as the fiery disc begins to crest the horizon, the others have assured the tiefling that its presence is a natural part of this Prime Material world.  

"In the light of a new day, I ask atonement for my failure to preserve life," the tiefling paladin prays setting fire to a bowl of lamp oil that flares a bright yellow.  

Ramshackle continues to pray "Opener of the Way, I beseech thee to carry the souls of those slain at my hand and the hands of my companions across the threshold of the crystal sphere and home to lands of the Great Beyond," adding a handful of sage leaves to the burning oil which crackle and whither as they catch fire. 

"In the name of peace, I beg atonement for my failure to redeem my enemies," the tiefling says adding a pinch of powdered aluminium to the flaming oil turning the flame silver-white.

"Hear me oh Supreme Artisan who made all the Prime Material realms and crafted all the natural laws, forgive me for damaging the perfection of your creations," Ramshackle says "I know life is a journey, and through my actions the journey of five kobolds has ended in pain and death. Please guide their spirits home to the lair of their maker Kurtulmak, let them find rest in the Nine Hells where their god dwells and don't let their spirits dwell in their corpses and return to stalk the living," she says snuffing out the flame.

Frivolity rises to her feet unsteadily after sitting in the warriors stance for so many hours, and dons her girdle, securing her bruised bosom tightly beneath the fabric enshrouded demon bone garment, and once again adopting the pose and manner befitting a noble lord of Ramshackle. Rummaging around the tiefling's trusty disguise kit, she dabs a bit of wood sap to an upper lip and presses the fake mustache in place over it. In one swift motion Frivolity has slipped on a tunic and fastened a dingy off-white cloak about "his" shoulders. He gingerly replaces his iron barker in its holster, returns the shiv to a boot sheathe, hefts his scimitar, and strides out into the morning, his heart lightened of the burdens it had carried.
 

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