The Red Hand

Samir's Adventure Log - Dream on! - Part 1

“More grapes, Samir?” she murmurs, nibbling at my ear.
“Of course, Sweets” as I open my mouth to be fed by that gorgeous creature I had a fling with back in Whadi; the sister with the hair-limbs.
“So tell me, what would you fear losing most in your life?”
“Huh? That’s not sexy thoughts… Me want sexy thoughts! A narrative to make even Mavrikos melt with desire! And you know Mavrikos, yes? He’s…”
“Soon, love. But my curiosity must be satiated” she purrs, her hand slowly rubbing my chest.
“Well, impotence would be a major ‘downer’, if you know what I mean” I lightly reply, making my trademarked eyebrows ‘move’, my ever-present grin growing wider.
“Don’t be silly!”
“Ok, so I guess I’d go with my trusty undead ring here. It saved my ass countless times, and stabbing myself while laughing and running around naked to make the Academy students sick makes it my most prized possession” I lazily reply, popping a grape into my mouth.
“Samir, this is serious”
“Eh? But I am serious, Mindy”
“My names’ not Mindy”
“Really? Huh. Ok fine, by ‘most important’ I’m sure you mean something like the rest of the scribes would say, some deep philosophical concept or something to do with that holy morality of some ethical ethics of morals thingy?”
“Errr, something like that I suppose”
“Well, if I had to pick something that’s not more important than the ‘trivial’ present that I actually DO think is more important, I’d have to go with my freedom”
“Interesting” she murmurs, to herself.
“Yeah, sure. I found that out when it was removed from me by that damned Academy. Indentured to a bunch of scheming scribes! Pah! When I become powerful enough I’ll own the world’s largest information market that will make kingdoms fall, should I ever wish to meddle for fun. And I’ll know things that will make the Academy loosen its leash on me so much as to make my ‘servitude’ irrelevant, in name only. You just watch me, sweet cheeks!” I vehemently rant, surprised at my own seriousness.
The sister smiles, triumphantly, reaching to her face, her nails digging through the skin. “That will do” she says, her smile growing darker.
“I’ve made plans, you know! There’ll be golems that will roam my inn as security measures”
“Samir, look at me”
“…of course, they’ll be dressed as flamboyant whores, painted faces and all…”
“Samir?”
“…and you know why? Because NOBODY would risk getting killed, or worse, beat up, by ‘constructs of the night’, if you know what I mean…”
“Samir… I’m trying to show you something”
“…they keep writing me off as this mad fool, but there’s a method to my madness you see, the absurd stumps the self-righteous, for they foolishly imagine scenarios of reactions to their epic moves and whatnot. Really silly puppets the lot of them I say”
“SAMIR! Look upon me!” the voice, enraged, guttural, snaps me out of my mental masturbation session.
“Eh?”
As I gaze upon my inconsequential lover, I see her dig deep into her face with clawed hands, ripping it off completely. I now look upon this horrible creature with blue skin and tangled white hair, rising up to tower above me.
“I name my price!” the creature shrieks, pointing a bony finger towards me

..

I wake up with a yelp, cold with sweat. “Holy shit! I nearly shagged a hag!” I say, incredulous. “Hehehhee… ‘shagged a hag’. I’ll make sure to tell the bard to add this to one of his Whadi songs”.
As I sit up, I look upon my trousers, now adorned with a generous wet spot. “Well, guess I shagged it after all… Oh well, it’s not like I won’t do worse one day” I muse to myself.
I look up and lock stares with Hasdrubal, looking at me like he’s having a stroke. You know, the face they make before kicking the bucket? “Hey Hasdy. My turn for the watch? No? Awesome, g’night, mate!” I lay back down and close my eyes. Ever the optimist, I’m simply happy I didn’t shit myself like all those times I did, trying to find a loophole about those pesky gremlins inside our heads.

..

So our journey is uneventful for the first week or so, aside from Orfée who woke up one night, screaming her heart out. (shrug) Probably broke a nail or something.
Rhea is adamant that we continue our journey to see Babagava without sleeping and under the Keep Watch spell. I don’t ask questions and spend the extra waking hours practicing on my ranged legerdemain skills.

..

We come upon a small hill overlooking a river. Across from it, we finally get to see small herds of dinosaurs roaming about. Those are big ass creatures!
As we make out way to the clearing, we see a wounded dinosaur, running away from something. Instead of passing us by, it goes directly to Mavrikos for some reason. However, there is some kind of symbol on the creature, shining with light. From Mavrikos’ reaction, I’m guessing this symbol is from his godling, Phosphorus or something like that.
We feel the earth shaking a little. Something BIG is coming. Oh, it’s Samir Time!

..

I quickly cast an illusion of Mavrikos’ new friend and put it directly between us and whatever wants to eat it in order to buy us some time.

..

And it’s a success! Soon after that an enormous T-Rex crashes into view, hungry for its prey and pouncing into my illusion, affording our group more time to deploy and hurt it.
The fight is on!

..

Hasdy is becoming quite the warrior. Aside from Rhea and Nasah’s light scores on the creature (and my missed mudball spell to blind the creature…), Hasdrubal took care of this huge monster quite easily. He first ripped its lower jaw, thus freeing Mavrikos from its maw, intent of killing the beast with holy food poisoning or something. Then, as it tried to flee in humiliation, he completed his job by ripping the whole lower jaw and slicing its aorta clean through! It was majestic!
Here was Hasdrubal, covered in blood from head to toe, making his little victory dance. I would definitely pickpocket a ticket to see that again in an arena, that’s for sure!

..

The creature slain, we take a moment to collect our thoughts. Well, THEY take a moment to collect their thoughts. I, the scrounger of our company, am too busy slicing away to get that the stomach, as I’m sure the monster ate a few stupid adventurers.

..

Gold! Bull’s eye! Akunamatata! I’ve found treasure!
Of course, the cool stuff (scrolls and wands) are too damaged by acid to be useful anymore, but I found more than enough gold to be worth it!

..

The gods hate me! My boots of Plan B are destroyed by the stomach acid! I’m cursed to end up “flush”, am I?

..

We finally arrive at our destination, guided by a hillbilly bullywug. A hillbullywug, if you will. Ah, clever me!

..

So it turns out that the hag in our dream is actually Babagava. And she’s no common hag, too! She’s a DREAM hag, with powers of stealing dreams and destroying minds and whatnot.
Still ugly as a troll, but that power… hmmm…

..

Rhea takes charge of the negotiation for the return of that ‘thing’. It turns out that the thing we named in our dream will be the price we will each have to pay in order to get the item.
For some reason, Rhea paid my portion instead of me, which is nice of her. The paranoid shut-in is even bargaining to pay the price of others in our group, too! Surprising, as I thought I was annoying her more than anything else with my antics. I owe her big time I suppose…

..

As the negotiations stretch, I soon grow tired of pestering Hasdy on who he was doing the naughty with in his dream with the hag (I bet it’s that master of his) and I start exploring my own options.
The seed of an idea slowly forms in my genius of a brain: since I want to be a broker of information and intrigue, such an ally would sure make me take a huge step towards my goal, so what if… what if I seduced this powerful creature? She’s not THAT ugly, if you close your eyes that is.
Fuck it, I’m going for it! Teehee.

..

Nooo idea if it worked or not. I just woke up, sprawled on the ground, and nobody wants to answer if I scored or not. Frustrating, really.

..

So the thingamabob is inside a dream bubble, in a dream plane. And Babagava simply dropped it somewhere in there. Guess we’ll have to go fetch it ourselves.
Something’s weird in our group though. Many cast suspicious looks at Mavrikos, and Mavrikos seems to have inserted a bigger stick up his ass, too. What the hell did I miss? Seriously, I missed something here. Hope it was when I was passed out so I’d have a good excuse to be in the dark. Huh…

..

So we a brought to hammocks in Babagava’s shed and put to sleep. Off we goo!!

..

We arrive at this weird-looking carnival, big tent and all. There are four Tengus present, bullying this poor caricature of a chef, asking for gossip. Orfée, ever the soft-hearted, approaches them, then enters into a shopping stall for some reason. She entreats them to appeal to their good hearts and stop hurting that poor Chef that looks so much exaggerated that I’d be willing to bet that he’d live at the corner of, say, a Sesame Street and another random name of a street, like Swedish. Of course, this only serves to draw their attention to herself and she soon receives a few pecks of her own.
A battle has started.

..

Again, my skills with illusions helped my compadres. They wanted gossip and were ready to bully the weak for it? Then how would they react if a fucking Ettin would appear to them, asking THEM for gossip?
Didn’t work as good as I wanted, but I still managed to draw two of them little bastards towards MY bully, which helped the others take care of the isolated Tengus.
I’ve also immolated one of them, so I have that going on for me, which is great.

..

Fight is over! We won! And none of us are badly injured! Now to talk to that Chef… Børk

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Conundrum of Mavrikos faith by Orfé

Well, these last few days have been interesting. We have travelled to the old monastery of Mavrikos to find clues of where the next piece of our quest would take us. I must say it has become a spiritual challenge for our friend Mavrikos. Firstly the meeting with his old abbot tainted by mistrust and military display followed by the ruins of the monastery where we met an inquisitor of his church and defeat them barely.

I must say that it is unusual to be persecuted by one’s own church but apparently Mavrikos is one of those unfortunate of his faith. The interesting part of his faith is that a few of the believers think and worship both aspect of his god, one that is martial and just while the other represents death and some evil. But the people believing in both aspects see both gods as one that completes one and another.

I must say this conundrum is really interesting and challenging one’s beliefs, especially for Mavrikos that does not seems to be able to accept and realize what lay before him. His old abbot and mistress – I am pretty sure were – sorry, are adapt of the dual beliefs and are subtly influencing him in this way. From what I am seeing this is not working well, actual Mavrikos seems very resistant to this concept, and maybe even narrow minded in his unique belief. I am trying but I don’t see myself being able to past his armor of faith any time soon. All beings are balance against good and evil, law and chaos, life and death, black and white. This is a simple recognition of the complex part that create us as living beings and we are but part of a whole universe that transcend each and every one of us.

Well Mavrikos my friend, if you wish to talk balance and to some degree faith in life, I can certainly take the time. The great path of life is not one that can be understood in our first passage. I myself have been through the cycle at least once before and will most likely be for a few ones in the future. Take the time to balance your beliefs and in yourself, then I dare say you will know where lies your true path.

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Samir's Adventure log - Arazi - Part 1

So after our little encounter with sea spikes, we’re back at the Academy, ready to go at a new place to get that thingamabob we want for… you know… [wink] [wink].

..

So after our Masters are done with our reports, we are to meet a masked stranger for a briefing to our next location, an Island called Arazi.
So it’s an Island with a mega-fauna, meaning big… BIG critters walking around the place. So I estimate a few hours lost with our dear scribes arguing on the best way to fit a triceratops through our Academy portal in order to train him to become a teacher or something. Great!
And there’s a settlement somewhere there? But it’s a cover for a hidden city, filled with the descendants of the heretics of Mavrikos’ godlings or something? This speech sure is heavy on irrelevant details.
“Big Island. Hidden City. Big Monsters roaming about”. BOOM! Done! (sigh)

..

Oh great, there’s also these complicated social mores and traditions in that city where people always wear masks and value their private lives over everything else? Should I ever want to have a harem of other men’s wives, I’ll make sure to exploit this ridiculous custom, that’s for sure! Oh, and shops aren’t identified, too? This will be GREAT! I can feel it!
Oh yeah… the whole city is also protected against minor divination spells.

..

Ok so I chose a mask of myself, but with green eyes instead. It’s fool proof! Ha!

..

Ok so we’re off to Arazi! Our guide brought us to the hidden city and our mission is to get info about the beached ship we explored a few days ago called the Prancing Mermaid. The ship was part of an expedition that stole that thing [wink] [wink]

..

First things first though: we need to locate an inn in this cursed place. I guess we’ll have to knock on a few doors and hope for the best.

..

Ok, found an inn. Time to gather some info. I suggest going to the port authorities, for surely they would have ledgers and archives about this ship. I mean, who’s to say it originally came from here and this place was not just a short stop between their voyage?

“That’s a great idea, Samir! We should definitely start looking for information where the INFORMATION is!” said no one… I have a sinking feeling that my scribes do not take my opinions seriously. I mean, I’ve been nothing other than a solid tactician throughout our adventures. My methods are eccentric for sure, but the results speak for themselves, right? Am I dead? Of course not! So I sit at our table and will let the social awkward scribes smooth talk their way into being pointed at the Port Authority building. No chances of me getting bored at that. No Siree…

..

Hahahahahha! Rhea tried to get info from a sailor by first insulting him, just to loosen his tongue, THEN tried to pass herself as a grieving wife and mother, waiting for her lost sailor husband. Thing is, the ship broke down something like 20 years ago! Ha! (Note to self: ship was beached a long time ago… [cough])

..

Orfée is flirting with an old man, too! And he’s a baker! Who got sold into slavery in the gladiatorial arena and won his freedom (along with a kickass parrot).

Oh wow are we getting closer to our goal now! Ha!

..

At some point in this entertaining night the crowd fell silent as some kind of scary-looking guards came inside on their rounds. Some kind of holy guards called “The horns” I believe. (shrug)

..

So we’ve decided to split into two groups: one will explore the city, mostly around the Cathedral (Orfée, Hasdrubal and Rhea) while Mavrikos, Nasah and I will go to the Port Authorities to take a look into their archives.

..

So Mavrikos takes the lead and, after a few awkward inquiries about the location to the port authorities, we were finally given the direction to this damn place. Once inside, Mavrikos tries to get access to the archives, which we finally get. Once upstairs, we are met with a lot of ledgers to examine, which will take a while I guess.
But never fear! Samir’s here! I simply gave a random clerk 5 gold pieces to help us find this damn ship, the Prancing Mermaid. When I say the name of the ship, I noticed the clerk seemed to jump at its mention. Something fishy is going on here…
The clerk wants us to wait upstairs while he goes downstairs to fetch books to help in his search. Yeah, I won’t leave him out of my sight, that one!

..

It’s funny, really. The best way to deal with manmade absolutes has always been with chaos for me. Men have this tunnel vision directed at their goals and any disruptions going their way shake their resolves. The more absurd said disruption is, the more confused they get, thus making their goals shine like a beacon, so concentrated they are to get back to it. (sigh) and I am seen as this bumbling fool by the others… Oh well. Underestimation is a weapon I won’t shy away from.

..

So the clerk keeps insisting that I stay up with the others, while I wholeheartedly agree with him, but follow him nonetheless. He gets more nervous by my actions (which proves to me that something is afoot of course). As I follow him behind the counter, my luck runs out, as only captains are allowed back there or some such, so I excuse myself to go take a piss (ha! Classic Samir!) outside while the clerk, rather than going behind to get the ledgers, remains to make sure I get back, which I do, of course, but under another guise, mask and all.
I start to loudly complain about the clerk’s lack of respect to my importance, as he is refusing to help me, still waiting for my first version to come back. After a while, he shrugs and asks an acolyte to go get the authorities. So we’re in trouble, I guess.
Try as I might, I am not allowed upstairs to tell my friends to get the hell out, so I make as much noise as possible to let them know something’s up. After a while Mavrikos gets the message and we make our exit to the streets. Not soon after, a window on the second floor explodes outward. Nasah, holding a stack of books, comes flying out of it, landing face-first at our feet.
One of the books is thrown from poor Nasah’s grasp and lands at the feet of these horned bastards that scared the inn’s patrons last night.
Oh, boy are Mavrikos and Nasah in trouble! Ha ha ha!

..

What? They figured out I’m with them too? How is that even possible?? I changed appearance in-between!
Oh? They can see past illusions? That will explain them seeing me NOW, but how the hell did they associate my first version to my second though??? Bah!

..

So we are brought to the cathedral dungeons and the questioning begins.
Of course, Mavrikos can’t lie (poor bastard), so his replies reek of running around the bush, which doesn’t help at all.
Let Uncle Samir deal with this. We found the boat captain’s log and we were looking for more info on the book in order to see if it was worth something. You know, we just wanted to make money. There! Problem solved! We’re innocent of whatever we’re being accused of!

..

Nope. Forgot to think about how we found our way inside this secret city. Psshhhh. Piece of Cake! This guy with a frog mask told us. What color his mask was? Blue, of course! Where we entered the city? I don’t know, as THERE ARE NO SIGNS IDENTIFYING BUILDINGS!
This bullshitting exercise is too easy, considering no one know each other in this city.

..

The info seems to satisfy that horned prick, as he soon leaves, leaving us with two guards, intent on watching our every moves. So I pass the time trying to fuck with their brains, conjuring ghost sounds and the like.

..

Nasah switches to elven and suggests we sell out our contact in exchange for our freedom. I disagree strongly, as backstabbing an Academy asset sure won’t get us (and my us, I mean me) into our respective masters’ good graces. I’m walking a thin line already. Mavrikos agrees with me on that one.
So they keep thinking up solutions to escape, while I twirl our Academy-issued Portal key… they don’t seem to catch that one. Oh well.
I’m not too concerned for my fate, as I can activate my undead ring and fake a heart attack or something, then figure out an escape as they drag me to wherever they dispose of corpses.

..

An old elven patriarch finally comes in to talk to us. Looks like they aren’t bad folks and they want to help us get the thing!

..

The whole band is back together in the patriarch’s office. After some exploring, they found out a sculpture of the ship somewhere in the city. Turns out it’s some kind of holy ship or something? That’s why people were giving us strange looks at the mere mention of it and why we were arrested. Seems like a sacrilege or something…

..

Two things I remember about this encounter:

1- The thing we are after was given to this evil creature named Babagava for safekeeping. We are getting closer!!
2- The patriarch is quite disappointed in Mavrikos. Ha! I won’t let him live this down that’s for sure!
Poor guy though, he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place regarding his religion. Should he side with the heretics who are nice guys, or should he stick with the orthodox who tried to kill us a few days ago? Oh, and add his slavery to the Academy’s devious agenda…

..

So we are off to a dinosaur-happy trek into the island! Yay us!

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Orfé's class assignment

As I prepared for our next adventure, I got to seek a special magical object. This circlet would help me understand better the things of magic and knowledge. I was a little surprised by the price to pay for this magic item. Mistress Althea was very specific in her request, show up in the art class and take a naked posture for the student, they would then practice their art by using me as a model. How strange, well I have never been a model before and look forward to the experience as it would yet another one to add to my list and hopefully a good to balance all the not so good one I had recently.

Well I showed up to the class. I was surprise to see all the student excited about this little painting exercise. I entered, took my place on the small pedestal in the center of the room and looked at all the students. I felt a little nervous having all of them staring at me with unhidden interests and curiosity. Well I must admit, it is not every day one sees or interact with someone like me, having blue skin definitely raise the difficulty of the assignment, mmm, let’s see if I can get them a little more excitement.

Looking around, I pull my robe and fix it above me, to have it over me like shower forming a high balloon. I quickly casts a light spell to change the lighting area and then take a meditative position, closing my eyes and just sitting as still as I could for as long as I could. Taking in the moment, listen to the whispers of the student and some of their swear as the light changed my skin color to dark blues, blacks and event purplish.

I think the session went well. After a few hours I could understand that most students had their assignment done or almost and were putting the final touch to it. It was obvious after I dress back and went to the canvas that some have great talent, while others are more imaginative. Overall I was more curious to see how they saw me than in the perfection of their work. I was pleased with what I offered but I am uncertain if Mistress Althea was or would be. But I think the added light made it a different challenge for everyone.

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Samir's Adventure Log - The lost Monastery of Phos - Part 2

Alright! Now that the zealots are dead (except ours), we get to go south!

..

Sure is a boring view, what with all those hills and rocks…

..

Found the hidden staircases in the hills close to the path! Me! Again! I’m sure getting good at finding non-lethal and/or non-dangerous stuff.

..

Mavrikos and Hasdrubal take the lead and eventually, we arrive to yet another monastery that seems to have suffered the same fate as Mavrikos’ childhood home back north. As we approach, we see three corpses (very old by my reckoning) hanging upside-down, nailed to big-ass “X”s.
And that’s when both Mavrikos and Hasdrubal freeze in place. Not surprised by Hasdrubal practicing his poses for his master’s little soirées, but I’m kinda little pissed that he chose to invite Mav instead of his good friend. Who cares if I can ruin Hasdy’s reputation if “I so much as show [my] face uninvited to those events” as he puts it. Bah! The things you promise for friendship…

..

Turns out they had a vision like I did in Whadi. It was about this war between two schools of bigotry of the same god, one implying the god’s brother is evil, and the other thinking they are friends and must be shown to be evil because of something inconsequential I didn’t bother to learn (the scribes do talk… A LOT!). The vision was about yet another inquisitor dispensing self-righteous justice against the three young heretics with some kinds of angels as bodyguards.

..

Oh great, Orfée and Mavrikos are going at it, wagging their tongues about who’s who in this vision. Are the executed younglings the heretics or are the angels-inquisitor gang?
Why. The. Hell. Would. It. MATTER? We still have to go get that thing, right? They’ll still try to kill us anyway!
I think the next time orcs or goblins attack us, I’ll ask the scribes which clan the enemy is hailing from, because reasons…

..

Well, the matter is solved! I think the gods got bored of their conversation, too, because I soon found an engraving, picturing the two gods embracing each other. Problem solved!

..

Nope. It’s not solved, damn it! Now they’re worried about Mavrikos’ loyalty should we go against his side of the bigot wars? Against the friends of Mav, who just tried to kill him?
sigh
We have gremlins in our damned brains ready to make us faint and shit ourselves at the mere mention of that… thing we’re doing.
I’ll just cloak a beggar in an invisibility spell, make it hang around us and just ask Mavrikos his thoughts about the thing and BOOM! He’ll be unconscious, ready to be tied to a tree while we “acquire” the doodad. Sometimes my scribes just think too much on irrelevant things…

..

Ok, so we’ve walked three days now. Can’t wait to arrive wherever we’re going.

..

So we got attacked by two Leucrottas last night. Killed one of them and we were able to subdue the other one. Why I have no idea.

..

You’ve got to be shitting me! Orfée and Rhea are trying to make friends with that foul monster… that Nasah is feeding with meat from the beast’s own brother we’ve just killed! This is… How… What…
Bah!

..

Our group, along with our new “friend”, finally arrive at the coast where we see an abandoned ship lying nearby. Time to explore!

..

Hasdrubal is scouting the ship from above with a flying spell while I activate my ring to go underwater in order to find a hole where we could enter (and possible treasure lying underwater of course). If I find one we sure would get the upper hand on whatever monster is lying in wait. From my vast experience with women, entering by the backdoor unannounced is a sure way to create momentary panic, that’s for sure! Wink-wink.

..

Of course… There’s nothing lying on the seabed. No treasure whatsoever. Just Huge sea urchins, hungry for a taste of good ol’ Samir. And I’m alone…

..

I survived! How? No idea, but I’m alive! I managed, after a few foiled attempts, to drag my ass inside the boat and FINALLY sent an arcane message to Hasdy as to my whereabouts. He seemed pissed that I didn’t tell him earlier though. Well, that’s me, forgetting to help myself not dying by letting my friends help me… oops!

..

Found a captain’s log. Yuck. I’ve also found his journal detailing the ship’s journey and where they were ailing from. So we’ve got a City to go next! Time to study shenanigan spells!
..

Oh yeah, the journal also speaks of the Stone of Serenity, which I guess is that thing we’re looking for for that…

..

sigh
I’ll need new pants…

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Hostess against her will

My last adventure was somewhat special. I never thought I would be incarnated into another living being in such a symbiosis and then share her experience and knowledge, fear and love, vision and nightmares. She was so like me that it was hard for me to make the difference between us. She was one of faith and strong belief, I am as well. She cares genuinely for other as I do. She wanted as much as I a way to solve issues that does not mean killing people if it can be avoided.

I was sent there by Master Broju with the other of the group to get our friends out of this alternate place called earth. A world with almost no magic and technology that I do not fully understands. There we searched and found our friend Mavrikios and then start searching for Rhialla. We fought charmed semi-demon in a desecrated church and then found our friend, or should I say ex-friend as she did not want to return to our world. She gave us the device needed and we went to look for Anasthesia, the young princess of this place that Master Broju wanted us to get back.

I Anastasia palace prison we did find her, relatively quickly and had to dispose of a guard. We took refuge in the secret library where one of the local allies showed us. He started to perform the ritual to get Mavrikios and Anastasia back but we were force to protect it against soldier of the palace. We fought bravely and as long as we could but in the end our host where defeated and we came back.

I am still mourning your sacrifice, you devotion and courage to put yourself at such a risk, and pay such a prince for a master, magic and a world you barely knew. Your faith and devotion to our cause made you special in my mind. We shared something that cannot be shared among others, it was one of those blooming flower that faded just as quickly.

By your friend Orfé, know that you will be honored and remembered Tatiana Samarin.

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Samir's Adventure Log - The Lost Monastery of Phos, Part 1

By all the gods it’s boring in here! They let me loose into the world and expect me to come back to the mundane tasks of an Academy apprentice without dying of boredom? Those are cruel, CRUEL masters we have.
(sigh)
But at least I got to practice my skills at lifting things at range, which will help me disarm traps and erm… “find” interesting objects that lies around people’s belts, desks, drawers, etc.

How rude! Not a single one of my partners in crime (looting is a crime supposedly. Go figure) agreed to help me exploit a loophole in the price limit of magic objects to buy (I can only buy items that are worth 2000gp, unlike others who can buy 4000gp)! I’d buy their cheap stuff and they’d buy my above 2000gp stuff and we’d switch it all once outside the Academy. It was fool proof! But nooooooo, no one was interested at all!
Mavrikos, upon seeing me, simply told me he wasn’t interested in ANYTHING related to me. I didn’t even said “hello” to him!
And Hasdrubal even gave me a speech about some guy named Fred who wouldn’t allow this exploit. Who the hell is “Fred” anyway? That the quartermaster or something?
Fine then! I’ll buy my own magic stuff, with blackjack and hookers!
Well, since no one has an ounce of daring in them, might as well start learning on the Watchumacallits in Rusk that I owe Kohlm for that favor he gave me.

Ok, so I’ve just learned that the Mewling Quims was a name thrown at us as a joke, meaning our group is given the permission to choose a proper name with the Academy’s blessing.
I need to come up with something quick before one of the others ruins my fun.
The Brotherhood of the Hand? That would piss the ladies off to no end. Or the opposite, like the Sisterhood of the Travelling Robes? I like the word “hand” though. After all, we do get the JOB done, ey EY!?? Bah!
How about the White Heroes Of Redemptive Elves, of W.H.O.R.E.s for short?
It’s a work in progress.

Ok, so we were called into a meeting with the Big Cahoonas and we were treated with a seat at the table. We’re advancing in life I tell you whhhat!

That was weird. We had out skulls opened and they put some sort of shadow creatures inside our heads in order to guard our thoughts about a conspiracy we’re about to hear from. Why would they need to do that? Aren’t we trustworthy?

Mind. BLOWN! This is conspiracy that will ch…

Ok, so I can’t even write about tis without getting confused and passing out? That sucks goat balls.

Hmmm, wonder if there’s a way to do it…

Ok, I gave up my attempts after I supposedly started singing a nursery song while standing on a table at the dinner hall and then fainting… while soiling myself. I hate quitting…

After much discussing, we decided to go to the monastery where Mavrikos barely escaped with his life in order to acquire one of…

Damn it! Those were my finest clothes!

Ok, to a monastery we go, just for the hell of it. Happy now?!

We end up near a village and go to the tavern to ask questions regarding the monk house ruins. Turns out the old Abbot survived and lives in a city nearby. As the scribe discuss and plan and tactic-kalize and whatnot, Hasdrubal nudges me and discreetly points me towards a farmer who seems to take a keen interest in our conversation. As we prepare to leave, the fellow leaves the tavern, running towards the field. I quickly change my appearance to look like the tavern maid (in case I get caught I could just say that I like him, giggle like an idiot and run away and none would be the wiser) and follow him. What the hell, I’m good at sneaking now?!! He never saw me!
Turns out him and a bunch of goat tenders want to ambush us to steal our gold and be rich. This will be fun!

Ok, so I casted an illusion of yours truly a hundred feet in front of us, acting like a badass scout, stopping at any suspicious spot and acting all suspicious-y, trying to draw their hand and ruin their surprise.
It worked! My illusion soon received a crossbow bolt to the imaginary face.
A flaming sphere was all it took for the amateur highwaymen to see the error of their ways and the final nail in their thievery careers’ lives was pushed by our dear Orfée with one of her speeches about doing good and being good boys and whatnot.

We arrived at the city and immediately went to the Cathedral, where Mavrikos acted all paladiny in order to get info about the old Abbott. Turns out he lives a quiet life and made a vow of silence. Guess Mavrikos will do the talking for the both of them, like usual. ZING!

As we’re about to leave, I see an acolyte looking at us, and bolting in the opposite direction, probably going to warn someone of our coming, so, using my quick wits, I spin a grand tail about my need to pee and bolt in the direction of the acolyte, but I’m met with failure: the acolyte is nowhere to be found. And so I come back to the waiting acolyte and tell him I relieved myself in the street. Hehehe puuure genius!

We arrive at the priests’ retirement home and Mavrikos goes inside while we wait in the street. The acolyte was eager to leave, so as soon as he turns the corner I assume his appearance in order to prevent a dagger in the back, should one be coming. Orfée is fooled until I tell her of my full bladder, which she gets, and goes to sit back on the bench in a huff.

Sure enough, a priest and some thugs comes close and orders me back to the cathedral, which I feign to do until I throw a spell at his back. Pow! Right in the kisser!

Fighting time! And I got a super cool spell wand that lets me move at twice the range I did in the past. Try and hit me when I’m THAT far away, suckers!

The damn priest flew away when we were kicking his ass! And the thugs, too. All but one that we captured. He refused to turn in his friends. I tried to take the priest’s appearance and make it seem like I was captured, too, so that I could tell the thug that the gig was up, that we should just tell them who we were, but the group didn’t understand the intricacies of my plan and looked at me like I was an idiot. Finesse of the brain is not their forte, sadly…

Ok, we’re back at the cathedral and Mavrikos is PISSED! He’s arguing with the Bishop to the point where the Bishop clearly threatens Mav with religious sanctions or something. I take the priest’s appearance and we ask if he knows who that is, but he tells us no. We do not believe him though.
He’s an untrustworthy fellow, that one. Hey! Maybe he’s from that cult of Phos that was a heresy and was wiped out centuries ago! Maybe they’ve infiltrated the Church and are all evil and shit… Bah! I’ll let the smart ones figure that one out.
The bishop suggests an inn in the city for us to use, but we’re not THAT stupid, so we go to the second higher pricy inn instead. That’ll show him!

So we’re at the inn now and we’ve rented a private table where we can discuss our next steps. Mavrikos detected a scrying spell in our room though and tries to tell Orfée that we are being watched, to disastrous results: Orfée spills the beans and it looks like she did this on purpose, too! Why would she want the spy to know that we know? Wouldn’t the spy knowing that we know make him or her more knowing that we know, you know? I don’t understand that girl sometimes.

Well, since the gig is up, might as well force the scryer’s hands by taunting him! Nothing like a bruised ego to eliminate all the careful weaving of traps and intrigue, replaced by reckless charging in a fit of rage at us! Eh? EH?!
So I change appearance and take the shape of a naked Bishop, ready to run around the inn and outside, blessing the populace as I go. That’ll do it!

Nope. Apparently it didn’t work, as Orfée is pleading with the Inn’s owner to not kick us out, saying something about me being “special” or something…
Oh, and I get to have a lecture from Orfée, who didn’t want to piss off someone who tried to kill us, but wants him to know that we know they know? And the group balks at my suggestion that we use the port key to go back to the Academy in order to teleport back near the ruins, thus making them lose our trails and giving us a WHOLE day advantage over them (I mean, even if they DID spot us 2 minutes after our teleportation, it would still mean they’d have to make the day trip to our new location, no?). I just don’t get it. Ah well, such is life.

Mavrikos tells us that the Abbott kept insisting about praying while facing south, so the group believes that there might be an underground entrance at the southernmost point in the monastery ruins, which makes sense. So off to the village we go!

We’re back at the village and we gather another clue: the forces that destroyed the monastery came… from the SOUTH! We’ll get that damn rel…

Good thing I brought another set of clothes… We’ll go explore the south of the ruins to find random treasure, then!

We’re at the ruins and its pouring rain outside (of course it’s outside!). Visibility is atrocious. We barely see the shape of a man approaching us on the road in time to react. Turns out it’s the wannabe thief from the day prior, warning us that thugs are looking for us and are coming this way. Well, what do you know? Orfée’s speech actually WORKED! Maybe I should try her approaches… that is, if I don’t die of boredom while attempting it.

So we prepare ourselves for the upcoming fight and I’m to be the lookout person on this little encounter. I go ahead on the road and find a hiding place. Soon enough, I hear horses coming up the road, so send an arcane message to Orfée, warning them of their approach. They’ll fall into a trap and it won’t be us this time! I can’t wait!

No traps!?? Just Mavrikos talking to this inquisitor fellow!??? What the hell is that? We had them in a TRAP!!! These scribes will be the death of me, I swear!

So Mavrikos ended up telling the killers off, so the fight begins!

Poor Hasdrubal… He really should stop attending Althea’s little soirées, because his posturing in front of the enemy made one of them study his moves and get his number. As soon as the fight was on Hasdy suffered a crippling stab to the gut and he was out of commission before he could say “could you oil my back?”

The fight was a tough one, and we nearly lost Mavrikos, who was assailed on all sides from three assassins. I got to make the killing blow to the Inquisitor though. And guess what!??? I didn’t get a scratch YET again! Yay Me! One was able to run away to tell the Bishop about the inquisitor’s death though… At least we know it was the bishop who sent him and the coward ran away when Mavrikos was down for the count, which might convince his Whoriness that we have no more reason to stay and investigate.

So, not bad for a days’ work! We got rid of the Bishop’s lackey and we have the way clear to go get the…

Gods damnit! Next time I bring my brown pants…

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How to better help...

As the sun was slowly setting over the glacier, looking out the windows the blue shadow of her robe made strange hue behind her on the floor. Thinking back to the past few days, the events were still burned in her memory. After much time gazing on the glacier once the setting sun disappeared behind the horizon, Orphé decided to go back to her small desk in one of those student rooms where the sun, light and colors where strangely missing.

Sitting down, she took her pen and a piece of parchment. Well, I will write an essay on our last journey and see how it all goes. Starting to pen her words for her tutor and trying once again to be a formal and good student. But yet again, since that final dire battle with the golden mask wearer Nepta she caught herself thinking of it, lost in her thoughts. Yet again, it was more than mere moments as she saw the ink dried on her pen and the big splash spot on her sheet. It must have been at least few minutes if not more. Still torn within herself, Orphé was wondering if there is something more she could do or could learn to better help her friend – but what? I am not one for heroics like Hasdrubal, I am not one for crazy plan and stunt like Samir, I hate necromantic magic so there is nothing in that avenue – poor Nasha, I am but far not equal to Rhea in her all-knowing sense of premonition, so what can I do? And laughed at the thought of charming an undead… what a derision I was, and I don’t think I’ve help my friend enough or the fullest of my magical abilities. O yes they really like my understanding of flesh fixing with magic, but only that? Why I don’t feel at peace with myself and the contribution I make to the group.

On that she decided it was more than past time to get into bed. During the night she woke up, startled, completely awake… I was dreaming, I had an omen… I understand what it is I should do to be more useful and helpful within the group! Immediately standing up, dressing and started making her way inside the academy toward her destination.
Going to one of the master chamber, she stood there patiently until the occasion presented itself to present her self-deducted mission. When the door opened, Orphé went inside and spoke in the respectful tone of one student finding a solution to one’s problem and exposing it to get some blessing:
“Master, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to be more proactive and somewhat aggressive in certain aspect of my magic, all this of course to support and help the Muling Quimz be more efficient and able to address the mission assigned to us. I request humbly that you teach me a little bit more of your speciality magic so I can complement my knowledge and expertise. Would you help me?”

The answer she got was more stunning and surprising than she was expecting. Returning to her room walking on a cloud and trying to set in order her first assignment was an exercise she did not expected to do. Not only Master Skarlag said he would help her, he offered her to train her in is specialization to help her help the Muling Quimz…. Orphé went stray to her master, Master Tannister to explain the situation and the offer, but being the gentlemen he is, he brushed Orphé concern with a nice and elegant gesture saying that he was aware of such things and she could take advantage of all the offers made to her, beside he had other engagement and wished he luck in her new assignment….

Well, that was a bizarre turn of even for Orphé, going back to school for a couple of days to retrain her magical knowledge from enchantment to Evocation. Well that would be challenging but she finally felt at peace with her, she now had two sure way to help the group, one in magic and one in her healing abilities….

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Truths Revealed
Let's get this plot started.

Once again, the masters summoned their apprentices to the apartments of Master Conjurer Broju and once more he created the dark and private demiplane where the group held their meetings. This time however, in addition to the eight masters’ chairs, seats had been added for their apprentices. Simpler seats, certainly, folding chairs to their mentors’ thrones. As they approached the table, the apprentices noticed, standing at attention in the centre of the table, what appeared to be a squad of thumb-sized inky black imp-like creatures. Once everyone has taken a seat, apprentices to the right of their lords, interestingly enough, Orfée next to Therin Skarlag, Althea Guezult began:

-Now that we’ve dealt with Vikkard’s little personal matter we can return to our work.
-Bloody right, adds Master Skarlag.
-Where do we stand Master Carrow?
-Well, hmph… As you can see, young Skarlag resolved his twice-taught apprentice problem. This is a good start, but we still need to replace the apprentices lost by Masters Broju and Tannister. As for the Regalia, I believe we have a lead on most of the components. For the rest, I believe we could…
-Ah, excuse me, interjects Lyrion Tannister. I think we should start at the beginning, no? He gestures towards the creatures in the centre of the table. We wouldn’t want our students too confused.
-Ah… Yes… Hmph… Captain?

As he calls out, one of the imps steps out of rank and in front of its brethren. It snaps a salute to the old diviner and turns back to face its troop. Almost immediately, one of the soldiers walks over to the wizard’s open hand lets itself be picked up. Master Carrow then walks behind Rhea, taking a golden key out of his pocket.

-Ah, hrrm, you see, young students, what we are about to discuss here is of the utmost sensitivity. Consequently, we cannot take the chance that any of this information inadvertently leaves your lips. For this, brave captain Slshsslrn and his troop have agreed to guard your thoughts for the length of this conspiracy.

As he speaks, he seems to insert the golden key into the nape of Rhea’s neck and proceeds to open up her skull like a chest and, delicately, deposit the creature into her head before closing it up again. The apprentice appears far less surprised than one would expect. Once done with Rhea, the old human goes around the table and repeats the process for each apprentice. Although, some attempt to resist, their masters, depending on their personality, in turn negotiate with them or simply overpower them. Each wizard experiences the procedure in a relatively similar manner; as their skull is opened their is a sort of split in their perception and they feel as they are standing next to Professor Carrow looking within their own mind. Within it, they see odd visualizations of their thoughts and beliefs, as if the abstract concepts were given physical forms to allow one to understand and manipulate them.

-Eh, cough, now, don’t be too concerned, the guards will refrain from interfering unless you attempt to discuss or otherwise divulge information about our, huh, conspiracy, to outsiders. In fact, we each have been fitted with very similar safeguards. Now, where were we?
-The Panoply, yes?
-Ah, yes, the Regalia.
-Would you mind, Wolann, if I set the scene first, asks Mistress Gyth.
-Uh, as you please.
-You see children. As apprentices, we shared much of the same experiences as you have and amidst all our successes, there was one thing which could never be set aside: death and the suffering it brings. I won’t bore you with the details, but we were all face to face with some rather gruesome events and most of us vowed long ago to make things better for Lyria. Truly, what is the point of near-limitless power if we cannot defeat life’s greatest nemesis. Certainly, you must remember from your lectures that this is not a wholly original idea. As each society reaches a certain level of power, some of its elites get it into their head that they will somehow evade, trick or even defeat death. They each create or imbue some object with the power necessary to attain that goal and, invariably, after some initial measure of success, fail spectacularly. We, however, are not petulant children trying to stay up beyond our bedtime. We had the time and the resources to consider this problem from all angles before taking action and you, young acolytes, are the actors.
-Truly, interrupts Kryseis, our champions if you will. She smiles at Mavrikos.
-The secret, you see, is myth, adds Mistress Guezult, suddenly animated by the opportunity to pontificate.
-Right, grumbles Draktooth. People are easily blinded images and their own preconceptions. Each of those kings and popes tried to defeat their death, Thanatos, the Guide, Azaël, or whatnot, not Death, capital D and, when one of its incarnations begins to wane the others intervene and reset the balance. Althea figured out that by collecting enough of the items in one Regalia we could assault enough incarnations of Death to actually ensnare It. Unfortunately, our original attempt wasn’t entirely fruitful.
Master Skarlags sniffs.
-That’s correct, continues Mistress Guezult. The artifacts, are not your run of the mill wizard-made trinkets. To achieve their goals, they are intimately steeped in myth, so their acquisition needs to be narratively meaningful.
-What Mistress Guezult is saying is that we can’t just port in, deal with any opposition, and come back. The taking actually needs to be complicated. Gods-cursed idiocy, but true nonetheless, adds Master Skarlag. So the old man…
-… Master Carrow, interrupts Lyrion smoothly, considered alternatives and laid out the path that would give us the greatest chance of acquiring the eight pieces we need. Which led us to you and the leads Master Carrow was just now mentioning…
-Ah, the old man clears his throat, leads, that’s correct. As you know, the Nefheri mask was our first success. While studying the object with Oghma, I was able to identify a certain resonance that I believe might be common to all the pieces. With that information, I can say, with an important degree of certitude that Sithrak‘s Martyrs have one of the relics in their fortress and that another one is in Sekunta. I’m still trying to pinpoint the other items, but we should consider other avenues of information. There might be something in the Library of K’nosha and I also believe Mistress Kryseis was on the verge of uncovering something in the southern reaches of Taviros when her base of operation was attacked…

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The Larissan Heresy
Excerpt from one of the lectures of Mistress Kryseis

… and that’s the current state of the church of Phos…

One oft-forgotten episode in the church’s history is the Larissan Heresy. It all started some centuries ago, in a monastery in the mountains east of the city-state of Larissa. The monastery’s abbot, father Paisios, a well-regarded scholar, claimed he had received a vision from Phos and Skotos. He claimed that, in the vision, Phos and Skotos had revealed to him that they were in fact brothers, two sides of the same coin, birthed by Lyria to fend off Thanatos. They explained that their differences, interpreted by early church intellectuals as opposition, were, in fact, meant to be complementary.

Paisios published tracts and gave sermons, spreading his beliefs far and wide. The people were eager for the succor Paisios theology provided. The belief that they had two divine allies in their war against death was welcome. Unfortunately, what followed is not one of the church’s proudest moments. The Patriarch at the time was paranoid and interpreted Paisios campaign as an attack on his power. He rallied the church’s knights and led a crusade against the southern parishes that had adopted the new beliefs.

The knights made short work of the peasants and merchants that made up most of the congregations. The Patriarch tried to coerce Paisios into recanting, but the latter steadfastly refused. In the end, the Patriarch, unable to convince the Council of Cardinals to support an execution, exiled Paisios and his disciples. They were packed on boats, rafts really, and sent out to sea.

That was perhaps the last major schism in Taviros and, aside from some older elves, it is probable that no one in the League has ever heard of the Larissan Heresy.

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