A Chant of Dark and Light

Long Long Long

Well, it’s been a little while since I updated my diary. Guess I got a bit caught up in whatever it was I fill my time with between adventures…you know, girls, drugs, booze, liberation of fancy goods from undeserving owners. That sort of thing. All blurs together after a spell. Not a magic spell, that is, but a spell of time. Oh, you know what I’m saying, right?

Anyway, where were we?

Oh yeah, those Signers and Athars are still rattling their bone boxes about that old church, but nothing got sorted with it yet. The hardheads have moved in and are manning it now, following some scuffles atween those other berks. Don’t see what’s so fancy about it really…okay, some cutters vanished in it, but what’s new about that in the city of doors, eh? Beats me.

So, we got a summons back to treetown where that rich sort Mov, who kind of runs the place, tells us those spooks that play with your mind are back. Sure enough, they try to pen us all soon as we show up to talk jink (this Mov sort pays well I’ll say that for him). We get good chant from the squirrelyfolk, mind you, and manage to hide where the spooks are holed up, so get to eavesdrop on this mephit thing that says he comes from ‘The Master’ somewhere in the Abyss. The spooks scrag him quick after that, and while they’re busy tearing him limb from limb we get busy doing the same to them. Some very neat placement of a fireball from Brazen Polly softens them up and the rest of us drop on them and make surprisingly short work of it all. Good feeling, that, penning some real evil in the dead book.

We are on our way to get the rest of our reward from Mov…the Ratatosk reckon the evil has gone from the tree, and that’s good enough for me. Mark you, I can’t shake the feeling this Mov will want us to trace those spooky bashers back to their hole, at the church we came across on the way to him (oh, I plum forgot that bit!) and find out who this master is. Long as he’s paying as handsome as he seems to be, I’ll be in on that!

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Tell Me What You See

We arse about looking all over the area for clues and at first we get very little. To be honest, this ain’t my sort of mission, all that in-faction stuff. No interest to me as an Indep, really. But jink is jink, so I guess I can help out.

We try to get into the old church at the centre of it all but no dice…those Athars won’t let any cutter in. So we nose around at the local pub, ‘The Ubiquitous Wayfarer’, where Brazen Polly and Lef ask the regulars for some of the dark of the church, and get some useful tidbits. Best thing about the gaff is an old statue that speaks riddles and lets us score an easy free drink. Wahey! Lofgren Arrenson makes potions and recruits some kobold helpers of a sort.

Eventually, Brazen Polly gets to meeting an old addlecove name of Kank who sneaks her into the church. Later on I go with her through that hole and we search. There’s some ancient and magicky stones that don’t rightly belong there, but nothing we do seems to make a bit of difference to them. So we leave.

We get to understand who is behind the standoff between the Athars and the Signers, thanks to some more good work from Brazen Polly, and we’re almost at the point we can report back and collect the loot.

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Cry For a Shadow

It was a trap all right. Guessed as much, but not in time…still, we didn’t get surprised by the cutters and gave as good as we got, in spite of illusions flying and diabolical mind control and all that stuff. A tough old fight, but we finally got the better of them and got the innocent (and hoodwinked) flatfoots on our side to finish off the baddies. Good riddance to those shadowy dudes!

Much thanks from townsfolk afterwards and even a reward from the town big guy, that Veridis guy. Guess he wasn’t that bad after all. Added to the jink from the innkeep not so bad after all.

Then, a trip back home follows which is mercifully uneventful.

Time slips by…I do a few jobs here and there and enjoy some of the good life for a while.

A few months later, this odd looking berk with an eyepatch contacts Lofgren Arrenson and asks him to assemble the group again to see what the chant is with this old church in the Lower Ward. Seems some factions are fighting over it (The Signers and the Athar it appears) and we have to discover what the dark of it all is…hmm…could call for subtlety this one. Best not let Lef go first this time!

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I'll Get You

We follow the trail to a nearby stucco sort of village where a little boy runs and gets some higher-ups in the place to talk to us. These guys say they’ll take us to their leader (hoho) and we figure as they ain’t attacking us outright, it’s probably a better bet than running around aimlessly in this sandy land.

In a huge black pavilion thing this leader guy – looking much like all his underlings but dressed in a richer fashion – tells us he wants these face dudes too, as they’re looking to steal some flower or other from this realm. He tells us to leave, as they can defend their own borders, and looking at all his troops, snakes and hangers-on, he’s probably right. I’m just glad that old stick-up-his-ass Lef don’t make any trouble here. He can be a bit funny about upholding law and all that shenanigans.

We get escorted out and go back to Crux. Only we don’t. Those faceache berks muddle up our minds some more on the way and we travel and travel and get nowhere at all. They send some giant beetles after us and make their escape. I think I can speak for all of us when I say I’m getting mighty fed up of those guys making me into a leatherhead. Gah!

So, we get back to the village and spend a night in the pub. But get no further. In the morning we decide to go talk to Constable Nachen Jon about the deader and these bad ghostie things. Hmm…wonder if going to the police is such a good idea…?

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I'm Looking Through You

We ask around town and this dead berk seems to have been seen around this last week and made a few business deals only to completely blank anyone involved this last few days. Hmm. He didn’t look different but he had changed: something odd about his character between those first appearances and now. Not a lot we can do at this point though, so we hang around his last kip, ‘The Lucky Lam’ and have some bub.

Sure enough, after a few hours this weird looking cutter sidles up stairs and I follows him, unseen like. He knocks on the door of the room where hisnibs is locked in a trunk quite dead, waits around and then leaves. He makes all sorts of odd symbols and recites some code like words as he does so. Not the actions of a guilty man, though, says I, but we accost him outside the pub and he rattles off a list of numbers and signals again, giving us the chant that he was going to get a fair haul of jink just for turning up there. Strange fella, right enough, but seems clueless.

Next day, though, when we spies him, he is walking along all normal like in the market, but leaving aside all those strange actions of his. We tumble to the dark of it that this chump is an imposter, so Brazen Polly goes invisible and follows, with me also on his tail.

He goes off to this dim little alley where he meets another peculiar sort…they reveal themselves not as cutters at all, but spirit things that are transparent save for their ugly mask like faces. Don’t take a genius to spot that they’re evil sorts either. Brazen Polly ain’t the sort of gal to hold back in the face of such baddies, so lets loose one of her burny spells. We get the drop on them, and Lef runs in too and clonks them with his curvy sword. Still, they don’t drop and then it all gets a bit odder yet.

Suddenly, they are covered in dense jungle. Where’d that come from? We get through to ‘em though, and force them to run. Just then, some of us think the floor gives way, but others see it for what it is…these berks are masters of illusion, then, I guess. As I’m indisposed at that point trying to avoid falling through what’s actually solid ground, it’s up to Brazen Polly to do the job of following them. She does a fine job (specially since she gets clobbered by Lef, who must be spooked up by their magic), and we come to a portal.

We go through, after some healing up courtesy of Lofgren Arrenson. Leads to Baator, alas. There it’s a baking desert with a black sky and these three nasties who can turn into giant scorpions tell us we’re trespassing on the territory of Set. That name is vaguely familiar. And not comforting. Still, his goons drop soon enough. Now we just need to find these shapeshifters and get the hell out of…er…hell.

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Devil in Her Heart

We safely subdue those crazy squirrel folk soon enough, albeit they do a bit of damage before they go down. They’re too cute to kill though, if I’m being honest. Who wants to beat lumps out of an oversized squizz I ask you? Anyways, we calm them down after we knock Glittereye out and quizz them some. They tell us something is really wrong with the tree and a great evil has passed this way…and might not even be gone yet. We then go home to Crux.

When we get in sight of the town, there’s smoke coming from a big building there. Eep. We high-tail it to the flaming place and find out that it’s none other than the head woman of the Woodcutters’ Guild, Marlus Van, who’s flipped her wig and is setting fire to her own kip! We manage to calm her down too before things get too out of hand and drag all the bodies out. No one dies. When she comes round it’s clear she’s gone loco in her bone-box so no one feels like being too harsh on her.

No sooner have we put out the fires than this Gith innkeep drags us aside and tells us to investigate a murder on the quiet. Interesting gaff this for a small village! Sure enough, there’s a poor berk who’s been penned in the book: knifed to the chest and neck and locked in the trunk in his room. He don’t smell too clever either, and we reckon he’s probably been dead a good few days. Funny thing is that the innkeep says he saw him passing just the day before. Something in all this smells even worse than his filleted corpse, let me tell yous. We better get investigating!

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Nowhere Man

We load up the bottles (and a few neat little gemstones from their hoard) and back to Crux. It goes without a hassle, for once.

Thing is, we find all these slaves that the Khaasta have been keeping at the back of their compound. Ooo, but those guys are in a bad way and it takes a bit of doing to get them out of there and back to Crux.

When we get to Crux (fortunately not too far from the other Naphraks place) the locals take a bit of persuading to take in the bedraggled slaves and help them out, but the head of the woodcutters’ guild seems to sway things toward that. She seems a nice sort.

We rest up and go looking for these Ratatosk sorts – big squirrels basically – as the woodcutter woman reckons they’ve been out of sorts lately. While we are there in their tree-hole some of the guys go a bit odd and tell us that they start seeing things. But we agree to help out their boss, called Glittereye, by checking out this weird place on the tree with him.

While we’re headed there we meet this modron fella. What a strange thing he is, like some sort of machine built on logic and strict orders and so on. He’s way out of place in this kip. Still, he tags along with us. Wonder if he’ll come in useful?

When we get to the odd place it looks all rippled as if something really bad has happened here. It’s at that point that Polly asks him a simple question and he lunges at her. Something’s sure got to the poor cutter’s head as he doesn’t seem in control of himself at this point. Too bad…

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Can't Buy Me Love

Our lodgings at this ’King’s Table’ place are pretty good. Certainly one of the better kips I’ve been checked in to on my many travels. Not bad beer either, although it does have a sort of woody taste to it. Interesting sorts kicking around there too, but we mostly keep ourselves to ourselves. No point in drawing attention. (Not that Lef the Hardhead ever sees it that way…to be fair to him, he does manage to blag a short cut route from a merchant in the tavern.)

We head through a strange portal to a little mini-plane thing called Naphraks, which is where those lizardy berks call kip. Not much to see, but at least they ain’t hostile right from the off and let us talk to their king fella. He won’t give all the bottles of beauty back – not much of a surprise there then – but does agree to sell us them for an outrageously huge sum of 500gp per bottle! Fat chance of that, buddy! Even if we could afford that, we wouldn’t pay for what is clearly nicked property: honour among thieves and all that means if you get caught by those you’re pilfering from or their agents, you got to admit it. You shouldn’t be dumb enough to be tracked back to your home with all the loot in plain view after all! Even though he’s a reasonable sort of cutter for a lizard, and surprisingly posh too, we all get to realising that a scrap is coming. We spring quickly to action and seem to get to it quicker than the Khaasta bloods. We make pretty short of the lot of them and end up taking one or two of them prisoner.

Should be a case now of leaving with a cart loaded with our recovered swag and heading back to Sigil. There we can reunite the loot with the cutters who lost their looks and some jink will be coming our way…maybe we can even make a profit on the journey…

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Nothin' Shakin' (But the Leaves on the Trees)

Further into the trees we get ambushed by a bunch of spiders (what’s the collective name for spiders? A sting?) and this Ettercap thing. I feel bad about this as it’s my job – which I’m normally danged good at – to spot trapdoors and the like, and I plum missed this one. Still, I was lucky enough after it to avoid getting bitten to death by those berks and we managed to beat them without too much damage. A reminder of me to keep a good look out for trouble though!

Then we make it to what I guess must be Yggdrasil, the World Ash. Know-it-alls reckon that the tree reaches into every plane there is. I don’t know the light of that, but it’s one big tree. We travel up the branches – which must be 500 yards wide themselves – and make it to the trunk, which is even bigger. Huge doesn’t begin to describe it.

We come to a town that the bloods there call Crux. Pretty little place with wood everywhere, as you might guess. The local law, name of Nachen Jon, tells us all about it and where to set up kip, then we meet the local bigwig, one Veridis. He don’t look that special.

This seems a nice place to set up but we have unfinished business with those lizard berks. Once we get a sleep here I reckon we’ll call on their headman, who goes by the name of Haac(!)nss. (I know, crazy name. What can you make of that?) Don’t think he’ll swap us the beauty bottles for bub, somehow, though. Maybe I can lift them…?

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Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

One dead eye tyrant behind us we head off north to follow the tracks.

We manage to avoid some tricky little dangers – including some odd flying chicken things that apparently can turn a cutter to stone – and then make some short work of scorpion types called Ankhegs that spit this nasty goo at us. Nothing too scary and it’s all going well, I think.

Then we come to a town called Ironridge or something where we come across a big scrap over some amazingly pretty people. I can’t put my finger on it, but they’re fabulous creatures that I just find myself wanting to gaze at for hour upon hour. Mighty impressive. Thing is, other berks have the same notion and they’re all tearing themself to chunks in trying to get at the pair. The guys fight their way through to them and we rush them to a nearby inn where they can get safe. Though I’m having to fight off the urge to lick them head to toe, to be straight with you. Yum.

Anyway, appears they’ve gone and swapped some of the beauty potion things that the lizards carry for some bub. The guys tell the couple to lie low and after a good night’s sleep we head off again.

Then it gets weird once more. This ruddy great walking tower comes up to us and this odd little human – not much taller than me would you believe – beckons us in. We go inside and get served delicious food and wine by the spell-slinger’s monkeys. Nice stuff, but turns out he’s a leatherhead: he keeps sneaking off to talk to some gems he has next door. He insists we run up north to where the lizard trail is too… on the plus side, we make great time: on the down side, he angers the Norns (some God types) that my chums tell me live in the forest up there.

While he’s showing my pals the tower’s top, I decide to er…check on those gems. To see they’re safe and all that, you know? Anyway, as I get there the chest they were in is vamoosed and, in front of my eyes, so is the wall that separated them from the eating room. It becomes clear that the whole tower is a vanishing bit by bit as we watch. We don’t hang around any more after we clock that, though none of us quite make it to the bottom before nature helps us out as the tower goes completely. It’s not too bad a fall for me, to be fair. We hit the ground and all that’s left of the little wizard and his mighty tower is a pile of confused monkeys that are heading in to the trees…whatever next?

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