The Pakthryxl Proxy

Beyond Balta: The Rune in the Deep

“Captain Balta, what a fool. The man thought he could steal from a god, even one as unpredictable as Besmara, and avoid consequences. Again, a confident fool, but a fool nonetheless. Ghosts, undead; necromancy leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. We are now rid of the dead fool, and his dead crew, at the least. Besmara’s herald, the Kelpie’s Wrath, came upon us soon after another instance of Balta’s annoyance.”

“I must give credit where it is due. The kobold does know his way around a ship, and makes remarkable use of that tiny cannon he carries, additionally his quick reactions and calling of “parley” to the Wrath. I imagine we would have had as little success as our friend, captain Balta. Although, I still cannot call the creature “Hole Maker”. He must have a real name."

“Recently, it seems foolishness has been as abundant as the seas. I missed the halfling aboard our ship, the “pirate queen”. She stayed on the ship, under my nose, for days, and I never saw. The somewhat more divine pirate queen wants her eliminated. As this Volla Afalle made a fool of us and stole a ship and crew members from us, I’ve no compunction against it. But we have other matters to attend first."

“In our deliberations with the Wrath, we agreed to search the wreckage of the Messenger for this lost treasure of Besmara. Perhaps it was the contagious foolishness of Balta, or the seas themselves addling our brains, but we surely missed many obvious signs in an old aboleth lair, naturally laden with numerous traps and obstacles.”

“Whoever trapped this living rune, this “Vaghol”, I do not know, but they did excellent work. If only they hadn’t a penchant for riddles, we might have left with the rune in our control, instead of outside and threatening for us to conceal it from the Wrath."

“It was a troublesome ascent, but it seems we have fooled the Wrath. Now we have a living rune to deal with, one which demands more of us than I am willing to give. Additionally, our betrayal will be discovered eventually, at which point we may see what other fates the real pirate queen can conjure. If we are to defend against the inevitable, we must, no, I must, gain more power.”

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Enter!!! The Kelpies Wrath
More Captain's logs scrawled into the crow's nest

Parleys are usually as exciting as watching coral grow with captains squabbling about this and that. But parley with a gigantic sentient ship that sails underwater and can talk into your mind who also happens to be the herald of the Pirate Queen…much more exciting. The ship introduced itself as the Kelpies Wrath and wanted to make a lucrative deal with us on behalf of the Pirate Goddess Besmara. The Wrath untangled the story surrounding Captain Balta, turns out, Captain Balta smuggled a great treasure from Besmara that sunk to the seafloor after his ship, the Messenger, wrecked. Besmara wants her treasure back, wants Volla Afalle the false Pirate Queen murdered, and a favor to be named later. In return, we get a seamount of gold, good riddance of Captain Balta’s jeik, and our ship gets further mysterious magic improvements. We agreed to terms, I think, either way sounds like a win-win to me.

In preparation for our underwater excursion, priestess Kaledith was kind enough to summon her merchant friend Zylith Hoclya to outfit us in style. I ate good, crafted some underwater bullets, and sang songs while the other slaved over the details in the coming days. The Kelpie Wrath dropped us off at the burial site of the Messenger and casted some magic on us so we wouldn’t drown and die underwater. We found no treasure in the wreckage only ancient drag tracks leading to a mysterious shimmering portal at the entrance of a grotto. The portal was definitely a surprise, but we threw caution to the currents and breached the portal anyways.

Once inside the ruins, long story short, feeling proud I walked out with Besmara’s Treasure Map.

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A Mysterious Captain Jeik?
Captain's Log

I spotted something floating in the water from miles away. I gave the order for the Deep Sea Current to slow down and the order for the Valdemar munthrek to salvage the mysterious rasvim. It looked like a great crest of a jeik if you never-mind the ocean odor and rotten blue horse leather. My old captain, rest his soul, worn one but it had considerably more bullet holes and scorch marks than the floating jeik. It was to big for me so I left it to my first-mate Aven who worn on his head like a shark fin. We all had a good laugh which was welcomed after the Adoro attack.

The mysterious jeik soon become more mysterious in the passing days. It was following Aven around the ship like a fly to a dead fish. Lorenz between sea sickness bouts soon told us it was chikohk. Aven tossed the jeik into the water but it was soon around the next corner waiting for him. It was bloody funny since Aven was panicking (as much as Aven can panic). Aven may have even consulted Goethe for analysis.

At the stroke of midnight on the 3rd day, the jeik manifested the ghost of the infamous Captain Balta. I had heard stories that Captian Balta was cursed by Besmara for false offerings. He looked long dead and rotten but his lust for gold was insatiable as ever. He demanded tribute to be thrown into the sea. He would smile a toothless empty smile as he fixated on the sinking rasvim. I stood there is bewilderment as Captain Balta made further demands of gold and more bewilderment as Aven kept throwing coin overboard. Soon Myrrh was sounding the alarm on the top deck so I scurried up to see what was the matter.

Many brine phaos or draugr were slowly climbing up the hull of the Deep Sea Current. Myrrh gave me a look not of fear but of confusion. On the high seas, hesitation even for a klewar can sink a ship and lead to doom. I gave him the order to kill the barnacle-encrusted walking corpses and I opened fire. Captain Balta appeared before me in an instance to protect his ‘crew’ and demanded more tribute to the sea. I don’t take orders on my own ship plus I wanted to see if holes can be made into ghosts. I fired a salvo into his ghostly chest and was excited to see a Captain Balta bleed. He was tricky to fight as in kept flying through solid walls and giving us evil looks that suppressed our will to live. We finally managed to vanquish the ghost with our community of magic weapons. Goethe almost lost all his will to live and afterwards could only communicate in grunts, snorts, and drooling. Honestly I have seen sea gulls with more spirit.

Three days passed and the jeik still followed Aven around like a bad copper penny. I suggested we put the jeik on our elf prisoner and leave him in adrift in a rowboat. My suggestion was gaining traction until Captain Balta manifested again seeking tribute. He didn’t seem to have any recollection of us. This time we had no hesitation and my musket blew him to pieces before the ghost could harm us.

During the second fight with Captain Balta unexpectedly a great galleon emerged from the dark depths of the sea. The wake of the great ship almost capsized the Deep Sea Current. The massive ship was covered in arcane carvings and the towering masts barely supported the moldy sails and rigging. Sea weed, barnacles, and coral were in the places where wood and steel would be. Draugr were swarming the top deck and gun ports were open. Could this be Captain Balta’s ship? What is a captain to do?

“Parley!”, I cried. The gun ports closed and a gangplank descended.

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Pacifying Vilya Sul

After our final battle with the Mordant elves, being poisoned and nearly drowned, I found I needed some time, for many things. Although it was an irritant to be in such a weakened state, I had to admit I owed my new companions a debt, as they had doubtless saved my life. Perhaps they had earned my trust as well.

Soon after that misstep, we encountered an Aspis Consortium ship, upon which we were successfully able to unload a great deal of our acquired bounty, much of which was base, lesser gear, fit only for ship hands and brigands. Although its general quality was low, its quantity did serve us well. In addition to the masks from the elves, we made a more than modest profit, with Sevardomos’ help, of course. The woman does know how to talk to a merchant, if little else.

The high seas are treacherous, as I’ve learned, much more so in the last weeks. Which is why I was belowdecks as a horrendous seastorm battered our ship, and after one last wave crashed upon our deck, deposited a gang of crazed Adaro upon our deck. The battle was fierce, but the storm was fiercer. We battled it as much as the Adaro. To my pleasure, it was not I who was poisoned and left helpless this time, but Myrrh. I imagine he enjoyed it less so.

As the waves crashed, the Adaro pierced us with spears. The small kobold was nearly knocked off the side of the ship, but I was able to alleviate that weakness. In the end, after much blood and trouble, we had slain the Adaro and their shark kin. I found that I had perhaps made up for my previous incapacitation. I will never make the same mistake twice.

After that, we had to deal with Slate again. This “half-dragon” of some unknown variety is a curious creature. I’ve never seen the like, nor read of it. He is intriguing. I must know more. He has a history with this Sylph woman who follows us, Sul. I’ve yet to speak with this Sul, but it appears that Myrrh shares a rapport with her. That may be useful.

It pains me to admit, but it took me far too long to realize, Slate’s lamp is not only magical, but holds a genie therein, one capable of granting wishes. It is no wonder that Slate values it so, and keeps it close. As a Sylph, this Sul would have dealings and likely friendships with “Air folk” like this genie. This will be a delicate situation. I will have to leave the talking to Lord Vestin and Myrrh.

Slate indicates he needs merely one item from this hoard we are to find in Azlant. This intrigues me intensely. What could it be that he desires so? Why will he need, what I can only assume to be, a wish from this genie at the time of finding it? Will this item and wish combination be worth multiples of everything else we may find in this hoard?

Only time will tell.

But Vilya Sul grows impatient. I can only trust in Vestin and Myrrh’s capacity to placate her until our job in Azlant in done, then she can take back whatever relation to her slate holds.

This voyage is becoming more interesting than I ever imagined. Perhaps this treasure we seek may hold even more wonders still…

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A Rude Awakening
A Griffon, an Octopi and Tiefling go for a swim...

I was hoping to get a decent nights sleep. The downside to adventuring, you miss many of the finer things in life, my personal chef isn’t even on board.

After my rude awakening it became apparent that things were not going great. The wizard was gone (lost to sea), a kobold shouting obscenities, and surely more forces of the Spire en route. With no other options on the table we had to negotiate.

The elves were unexpectedly willing to negotiate. All we had to do was to give up the prisoner, the map, and ourselves and for all that they were willing to give us our lives. At this stage not all that unreasonable of a deal. Thankfully the everyone complied and we had a momentary cease fire.

At least there were no more supris…. A fucking half-dragon.

Slate is a half-dragon. A half-dragon with a greatsword. So much for giving him up to the Spire. Well at least he could throw an illision out there and I could give them “the map”. Back upstairs with an invisible Myrrh in tow. With no planning and a short number of options it seemed violence was going to be the answer. Hopefully Goethe can last a few more rounds with that octopi. The signal was given…

After a brief amount of violence the battle was over, none worse for wear. Goethe definitely owes Aven a favor or two. With everyone safe on board we made off with speed. No need to spend any more time in sight of the Mordant Spire.

Tomorrow we must firm up negotiations with Slate. He will be necessary so the contract will need to be renegotiated. I am looking forward to sitting down at the table with him. He has something specific he looking for so hopefully we can use that to our advantage. Kaledith will unfortunately take a hit as she withheld key information that will certainly cost us.

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We get by with a little help from our friends?

It is time for us to make haste and leave this place! Belithradien and a large contingent of the guards looked to make sure we were not going to escape with the Azlante secret holder, Slate. A fog grew denser on the bow which could only be the work of weather magic of sorts. As we plowed toward the ship the water receded leaving the bow on land, but easier for us to ascend the ropes to the ship. Belithradien intercepted Aven but he intelligently retreated to the boat to avoid the frothing elf.
It was seen on the shoreline, a row of archers preparing flaming arrows to bring down the masts and ignite our boat. A crunching was heard on the bow, as a bear, most likely the weather magician, began to eat the boat. The man/beast could use a little more fiber in his diet if such things appeal to him. Reskafar began to lurch the boat to the water, the bear latched onto Goethe’s leg and a fight broke out between Aven and Belathradien. Goethe was freed as grease coated over him, Myrrh took a stab at him, and Aven ruined a perfectly good day for Belathradien.
The archers let loose their flaming in arrows, but before they passed the shoreline, they were flung high into the air and dropped onto the ground, harmlessly. A large gust of wind toppled and battered the archers. Goethe began to control the wind to help the boat move and dissipate the fog cloud, as the rest of us moved to the stern to redistribute the weight. The bear retreated from the boat and left us with one more present, a storm of ice began to fall onto the boat. One last large gust of wind moved the boat to get out of danger and onto the sea. Slate muttered, Vilya Sul under his breath as he saw a shape earlier in the battle. It unnerved him and he wanted to be gone from this place. Was she the mysterious helper with the arrows and wind?
Once we made it to the high seas, healing was definitely in order, but not before a large storm would batter and beat us. Though it was treacherous, it gave us a chance to get some distance between us and the Spire before others could follow us. A discussion was overheard between Slate and Kaledith. Slate was not very happy over the amount of help Kaledith had agreed to. He wants first pick with all items found, and Ternockifel, his boss would not be pleased.
Upon the horizon, Reskafar, saw a elven griffin rider. He must be a scout from the Spire. He made us, and turned back around. I am certain, in a matter of hours, they will be upon us.

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Escape from the Mordant Spire!!!
100 arrows vs 1 gun

I bet those weirdo elves thought they were safe in their fortified tower until we kicked down the doors and peed all over their faces. After slaying the tower’s pompous master Sarandil and locking away the raging Belithradien we found Yigorin’s missing map. The last tower guard was about to put it to flame. Myrrh snuck up and wrangled the torch out of his hands and I blew his head off in an instant. We grabbed all the maps and jumped into the ravine. Time to leave this shit hole.

We moved quickly through the ravine and came upon a 10 elf ambush party protecting the bridge leading to the docks. Good thing we didn’t take the front door!!! It didn’t take long before the elves spotted some of our more clumsy crew. Things went fast after I blew the legs off the closest elf. Goethe casted a magic that made my heart race and hands move faster. Myrrh disappeared, Aven exchanged fire, Vestin pretended to be our prisoner, and I let my bullets fly. I drew most of their fire after killing several of the archers. 100 arrows can’t stop!!! After finishing off the elves we made our way to the docks.

The docks were on high alert due to our attack on the Mordant Spire. Miol some masked wearing guardian was calling the shots. Most of us swam beneath the docks eluding the guards while Vestin in disguise casually strolled on by. With Belithradien hot on our trail we made haste towards my ship. As we approached the ship in the darkness Aven told us to halt because he saw an elf wearing a mask standing by the ship. Things are going heat up again with Miol in front of us and Belidradien behind. How many fights do we have left before we can ship off?

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Prison Break
@$#*%! It, We'll Do It Live!

All the planning in the world…

As it goes not the worst execution I have been part of… I mean we still don’t know the results but I am an optimist.

We gathered all the info we could and determined our target was located in one of the outer towers. Then Goethe Garax “looked into it”, and determined his exact location. We decided on stealth… well some of us did.

After that we split into two groups, carefully considering our capabilities we determined those who were spotted would form the A Team. The others were B Squad. As the A Team brilliantly infiltrated the tower, B Squad fumbled through the darkness making their way to the prisoner.

Then things got messy. We now have a mostly liberated prisoner, a dead elven commander, and an imprisoned extremely volatile soldier. At least we have the map… well shit.

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First Steps on the Spire
More than meets the Eye: Halflings

After casting the foolishly confident Kaoth Saumeth into the sea, a momentary, lingering regret was felt; he was still wearing his full plate. Fifteen hundred gold pieces worth of shaped steel, it was a costly mistake. Lesson learned; before kicking future well-clad Scarnetti lackeys into the depths, strip them of their gear.

Waste not, want not.

That done, only Hebrind, a Mordant Spire Elf, remained. He yielded little information of use. The value of his continued life was argued for a time, eventually leaving him bound and below-decks on the VII. The next question was what to do with the elven schooner, the “Moon Dust”. There were many options, many avenues, but none seemed clear. The Scarnettis had a two-day lead on the VII, and had warned the elves of its approach and likely intentions. The elves would be expecting the VII on the east side of the Spire, but not the west. Taking the long route would add several days to the journey. Can they make use of this new ship or its lone survivor? After interminable debate, a plan was forged.

Tebrilith would take the “Moon Dust” to the Mordant Spire port with a stirring fiction of how the ship was attacked by pirates, and how they had just barely escaped with their lives. Lorenz, Myrrh, Hilig, and the three recently freed Halfling slaves, Werra, Faleth, and Kia would accompany her. Lorenz and Peril used their magics to disguise themselves as elves, and Peril’s more potent illusions cloaked nearly the ship entire. The halflings would remain as they were, and would have remained aboard the VII, if not for the fact that the Moon Dust could not be crewed without them. Myrrh would remain hidden until the time came.

So it came to pass, the battered elven ship came to harbor at the Mordant Spire,. The two “elves” giving such a performance as to leave no doubt in any heart. Leaving Peril and the halflings at the ship, Lorenz set out to charm a suitably secluded docking site out of a local, while Myrrh skulked through the shadows, searching for any clues to their imprisoned quarry. Lord Vestin ended his search with an elf named Suviel, willing to reveal a certain cove for a price. Though undoubtedly unscrupulous, this elf was also more cunning than Lorenz was used to.

Vestin, left alone by the ambitious elf, sent one of his recently purchased feather tokens out to the waiting VII, far out at sea, instructing it where to go to avoid detection by the ubiquitous elven fleet. The seaborne skill of Aven and the Hole Maker together were able to chart a course to the cove without incident or detection. Meanwhile, Goethe kept busy transcribing the spellbook contents of the obliterated wizard from the Moon Dust. Myrrh made his way up a large hill to the northwest.

His message sent, Lorenz had several hours until the VII’s arrival. Returning to the harbor to check on the Moon Dust, only to find it and its crew gone, Vestin sighed. After helping to free Yigorin Slate from the Spire, Peril was take the Moon Dust as payment for her trouble and trouble them no more herself. Leaving prematurely, without notice, with Hilig, the VII’s cook/assassin, and the three other halflings was not included in that deal.

An aggravated Lorenz later gathered that apparently the adult female halfling, “Werra”, had been the one in charge, barking orders before casting off. Also, the female elf and male halfling were white as fresh sails and nervous. Despite their acumen and experience, it appeared they had been had. Halflings… Yet, all was not lost. They still had one card to play. He made his way back to the cove.

Up the hill, Myrrh enjoyed kinship with shadows. He knew not where the path he followed led, but its significance was supported by the guard stationed there. Focusing his mind, his image folded into nothingness, and he was beyond sight. Not sound however, as he made his way past the guard and onto a rope bridge to unknowns beyond, an unlucky twig revealed his presence, if not his location to his perceptive pursuer. The whistle from the elf guard was unmistakable. He’d been discovered, if not found, and he’d be visible again soon. “Later”, he resigned to himself, and withdrew to the harbor to report on his findings.

Lorenz and Myrrh looked on as the VII made anchor. The news of the Moon Dust’s departure was disconcerting, however the sliver of hull Goethe sliced off earlier and the arcane spell “Track Ship” alleviated a few concerns, if not all. That score would be settled, eventually. It was getting late, but it was decided a midnight tour of the dock’s waterholes might provide some information.

One tavern remained open and busy. Lorenz, still the handsome elf, and Myrrh, again the handsome human, entered first, and were welcomed well enough. Staying behind a moment to distance his social stigma from his partners, Goethe entered later, leaving Blatz to stand watch invisibly on the tavern’s roof. Reskafar and Aven joined Goethe at his table. Their reception was as Goethe expected, although it seemed the Undine was only guilty by association.

Leaving the social dance to its practitioners, Goethe ordered a bottle of wine for himself, and started his evening. It had been a long week at sea. Myrrh slid skillfully into the graces and conversation of a human/elf pair of businessmen, gathering gossip. Lorenz earned the good will and thanks of a lone elven guard, standing watch outside the tavern, without drink to warm his belly until elf Vestin arrived with good tidings. Both managed rather well, especially the Auditor, as he may have snared a better lead on Slate’s whereabouts.

Goethe however, having perhaps one drink too many, lost his patience. In an attempt to slip the fate of would-be treasure-hunters out of an elf server, he ended up debating history with the haughty elf. The kobold encouraged the struggle, in hopes of further entertainment. As the pitch raised and the wizard nearly got the three kicked out, Myrrh stepped in to calm nerves and sooth egos. The left soon after, making their way back to the VII, and to sleep.

It was late, and after Goethe made clear the historical inaccuracies about which the elf waiter was mistaken, the others related the information gathered throughout the night, and began their plans for the morrow.

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"Fish"

It turns out cannons are very effective at taking the heads off of people. Unfortunately, the other ship is full of cowards who would rather hide than face their own deaths like men. The holey one had to bring the ship in close so I could go on board and finish them off. Goethe used his magic to make me a giant, so I could more easily cleave my foes in half.

When it was all said and done, there were only 2 people left. One of the elves, and some noble guy (it’s so hard to tell humans apart). Even the skilled Vestin was not able to get any useful information out of either of them.

However, when trying to grovel for his own life, the noble made a big mistake. He called me a “fish” man. Now, I didn’t mean to actually kill him at first, I merely wanted to make him fear for his life, then rescue him at the last moment. His mouth wouldn’t allow this to happen. Insult after insult spewed from his mouth, and in the end, while hanging from the railing from the ship he insulted Myrrh. I really thought he’d be able to swim back to the ship…

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