The Pakthryxl Proxy

Memoirs of an Oracle #1
B-Squad Adventures #1

The story tied to my thread of fate has never been told. Many won’t believe me as I unravel it, but everything I write is as true as the ocean is blue. I wasn’t born an oracle, my powers awakened in my seventy seventh year, the year I was freed from slavery by a group of mythic heroes on a quest to save the world. I remember it like it was yesterday…

Chapter 1: Unshackled

I was purchased for 750 gold, from Sepyt Batab Sohiz II, the one hundred and ninetieth harbormaster of Sedeq by a ferocious looking undine man. It was the most gold I was ever sold for, but thankfully it was the last time I was traded. The undine man turned out to be Aven. This was sometime before he became famous during the Brine Wars on the elemental plane of water. Aven later told me he wasn’t going to buy me but did so on a whim to gain favor with the golden jackal Sohiz. At that time, I didn’t know what to think. I was bubbling turmoil on the inside and unruffled calm on the outside. In other words, I was the quintessential slave. I knew how to survive Sohiz, I didn’t know if I could survive belonging to such a beastly owner. It was a short time later when I met the rest of Aven’s crew mates including the most famous Kobold in the history of the world.

“Lord Vestin will see to you. So don’t come to me with your idiot questions”, was the first thing Captain Reskafar said to me and the rest of the purchased slaves after coming on board the Deep Sea Current. I couldn’t believe that a small shifty looking black Kobold toting an enormous musket was the Captain!

“We have a motto nailed above the galley. When you’re here, you’re family. Remember it, live it, it may save your life someday”, was the last thing he said before taking his leave. It sounded like a ridiculous slogan for some garden variety olive restaurant in Sedeq. An empty phrase or so I thought.

“Don’t look so glum, Bluey. You’re not a slave here. We don’t care if you swim away without saying bon voyage. But if you choose to stay, you will be part of something special. This crew is one of a kind. What the captain said is true. We take care of each other like family on this ship”, was the first thing Lorenz Vestin IV said to me. Lord Vestin spoke with a rare conviction that could move mountains or sink valleys so you couldn’t not listen to him. Looking back now, it is easy to see why he soared up the Church of Abadar ranks at record speed.

I was intrigued. I soon after met the rest of the senior crew, Professor Goethe Garax and Myrrh. This was well before Goethe got his picture hung in the Hall of Summoning at the Acadamae and well before the now infamous assassin Myrrh shocked the world. Anyone could tell the executive crew had an electric aura about them. It was like they were more in-tune with life than the rest of us. They seemed larger than life with room to grow. I only planned to stay until I could learn all their secrets. But the Gods had a different twist of fate in store for me.

Chapter 2: Elemental Ambush and a Rhinoceros

I was still in my infancy as an oracle when I had to defend myself and adopted crew from monsters. I learned quickly that Captain Reskafar’s crew attracted violence like blood attracts sharks. In a cramped sea cave in the desolate Spellscar desert around midnight was the site of my violent baptism. I shouldn’t have to tell you that the Spellscar desert is an unpredictable place due to its primal magic storms, but it bares repeating a hundred times. The Spellscar desert in an unpredictable place! When primal magic surges you have to throw out the rule book and go with the magically flow. Your at its mercy. On that night, the primal magic summoned a quartet of seething elementals and a grumpy rhinoceros.

The junior executive crew was in charge of the camp that night. The senior crew decided to follow a pale stranger into the Mana Wastes to meet a century old Grave Knight that morning. Their adventure is a story for another time! The junior executives composed of Lady Kaledith, Lady Hexa, Dervish, and Helig. Some of these names you may have heard of. Lady Kaledith later bought half of Druma, Lady Hexa became a key player in the Garax Ascendancy of Cheliax, Dervish retired as a legend from the Qadira fighting pits, and if you haven’t heard of Vestin’s man Helig than you probably have been living under a rock for the last fifty years.

I promised the Captain I’d protect his crew while he was away. He said four little words to me in response, “Protect your crew, Nomawyn”. He had already accepted me.

Luckily, the fire, lightning, sand, and mud elementals ignored me due to my undine lineage but the others weren’t so lucky, especially Helig. He has always had a knack for being unlucky. He was put to sleep immediately by the sandman and trampled by the rhino. The ever brave Dervish fought the fire elemental toe-to-toe while on fire without so much as flinching. Hexa bifurcated the lightning elemental and mud wrestled with the mudman. I used my oracle powers to summon crocodiles and bolster my allies. My novice magic may have done more harm than good! I could not control my magic sufficiently to prevent the primal magic storm from causing further chaos in the form of giant bugs, lightning bolts, and confusion. Again poor Helig took the brunt of the beating. In the end, the unpredictable storm did us a favor by swallowing up the sandman and unsummoning the rhino. I think I earned a modicum of respect from the others, but I knew I had a long way to go to master my oracle powers.

In the aftermath, we found a hidden chest that once belonged to Lorenz Vestin the First buried in the sea cave rubble. The chest contained more wealth than I have ever seen, in addition to a treasure map with two big Xs. Was this fate or coincidence? The thought still lights a fire in my belly. Soon after, I ran headlong into my first adventure!!!

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Bird Feather Token!!! A Special Message before Showdown
It's a letter found attached to a bird feather token

Greetings Professor Goethe,

I hope this message finds you with eyes. In case you don’t have eyes have someone with eyes read this to you.

Aven, Myrrh, and I spent the day with the Aerodus the invincible undead turd. All I can say is he is one hell of a Graveknight! That weirdo is one determined son of a bitch, he remembers nil about his former life, and only thinks about kicking our asses. Doesn’t the idiot know he’s dead, for cryin’ out loud I’ve told him about a hundred times!

The bastard is always blathering crazy shit to us like he is going to conscript us into his undead crew after he melts the meat off our faces and he is invincible like Death. We’ll put that invincible title to the test in a few hours won’t we. Please bring anti-invincible supplies!

The melting thing is true, we saw him liquefy a living pile of rocks like insect butter drizzled over baked mushrooms stuffed with night crawlers. He can also shoot a buttery acid wave from his hands which looked pretty devastating so we probably shouldn’t be standing next to each other holding our dicks. Whoever among us draws the short straw is going to need an acid proof poncho or something. Please bring antacid supplies!

He also looks excellent on his horse. In his past life he musta spent many years in the saddle. The horse looked a little magic-y to me since it could fly a little and is a bit see through. Please bring anti-horse magic supplies!

Aerodus also proclaimed, that Camrad is agile and Lini is arcane. Please bring anti-agile and anti-arcane supplies!

We get to fight in a Ghost town! How cool is that? We didn’t see any ghosts so a deserted town may be a better descriptor. There’s so much freaking magic in the air you can see it hang around in puffy clouds like cotton candy at the worm harvest festival. The town is in a gulch divided by a shallow stream and surrounded by cliffs ten times my height. The battle will begin when Tebrilith starts performing. Please bring a nose flute! Wait, she says a seven string zither.

As strong as this guy is I really should be getting scared. Like pissing my scales scared, but I don’t feel anything. In fact, I am starting to creep myself out with how not scared I am. Ain’t that some shit? Hope Alkenstar is a party town because I am going to paint that city red when we finish with these corrupted dill holes.

See ya at dawn! It’s going to be one for the ages. Try not to get mutilated before your return.

Sincerely,
Captain Reskafar

P.S. bring rum we’re thirsty

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Heroes of Past and Present Collide!!! Countdown to Showdown!!!
Captain’s log found on a tent

The man came around, he was nearly skeletal and obviously undead even to my untrained eye. Its garb was dusty and weathered, and smelled of old decay, and dual pistols made of bone hung low around his hips. His voice was leathery and low like he had gravel for vocal chords, “I smell Apsu all over what’s left of you, youngbloods. I’m Camrad of the Wastes, follow me, Aerodus wants to see you”.

Before we took off with Camrad of the Wastes into the wastes we went back to camp to ferret out a few things. The crew thought we were undead since we looked like hell, especially Goethe, and it took a while to convince them otherwise (Hexa). Our journey into the wastes was going to take many days hard travel, no place for domestic halfling slaves, so we found a sea cave to safe haven our friends. While the encampment moved, Goethe analyzed all the objects for the Waybringer wreckage. Analyze might be too strong of a word, it was more like one hand fondling and eyeless staring. The bibliophile came up aces. The doll was a witches familiar, the gauntlet was for a ancient Hell Knight, the broken revolver for a gunman, and a the holy symbol for a Abadar holyman. Camrad let slide that all the items belonged to his crew a 100 years ago, Apsu had sent them on the same quest as us, except they all were killed by Ezgar. The bigger brains on the crew were able to put two and two together, if Camrad was an ancient gunman and now an undead monster, a similar ill fate must of begotten the rest of his crew. Restless witches can become undead witchfires bathed it sickly green light and restless Hell Knights can become undead Grave Knights trapped in their bloodsoaked armor. Apparently, the key belonged to one of Lorenz’s ancestors who mysteriously survived his encounter with Ezgar. The question remained were these fallen heroes friend or foe?

We shambled off in the Wastes before nightfall. We brought Tebrilith with us since she was affected with the mutant virus along with Aven and myself. Camrad guaranteed us that magic exists in the Spellscar desert and we needed magic to cure the disease. Plus it was safer for Kaledith’s camp for Tebrilith to travel with us in case she turned violent. We traveled for two days, each day I felt the wasting disease grow stronger and my own strength dwindle. The shifting sands, the blazing sun, the freezing nights, and scorpion cyclones made the trek miserable. Yet, I was thankful to be under the blue sky, to feel the wind, and walk to the rhythm of my own beating heart. I was alive!

On the third day, we came to an eroded out old watchtower which I swore was a mirage from afar. Just as Camrad promised magic flowed like water from a spigot when we neared. Goethe and Lorenz were overjoyed. Lorenz quickly went to cure our mana wasting disease. As soon as he casted his spell, the spell’s magic erratically fluctuated like the rolling tide once it left his touch. The magic meant to cure one instead mutated into a panacea. The magically healing was a primal orgasmic rush, I could feel it fix my spine, cure my disease, and return my vigor. It was clear that the magic here was no ordinary magic.

Inside we met the Waybringer’s captain, Grave Knight Aerodus Pavo, and the rest of the undead crew, including Lini the green witchfire. I could feel a mysterious bond with them like we were the same notes in a melody that has lasted a hundred years. By the look of it, it was a sad song. My gut told me, we were baptized by the same fire and exiled by the same evil. I stared hard at the long time travelers and wondered how long their springs of joy were dry. Is their fate our own? Cursed to wander, cursed to thirst, cursed to hunger, cursed to remember. Was I looking in the mirror? I didn’t like the horrid reflection staring back. In this situation, you could let yourself feel sad or worse afraid. But, I don’t toe that pussy line, I can let my stupid fear die.

“Prepare yourselves. At midnight we shall see who Apsu favors most!”, decreed Aerodus. I realized I missed a whole mess of words. They wanted a fair showdown. If we win what’s left of their godly spark will be pledged to us. I didn’t see why they just handed it over to us since we were alive and they were not. Selfish Bastards!

“Look at you sittin’ pretty in your own pigsty. I bet you never tarry to carry the load anymore. We will be ready for the blood and ready for the honey”, I smugly responded, then patiently sat. Lorenz and Goethe teleported to Alkenstar for supplies to make the showdown fair or perhaps tip the scales in our favor.

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Helig the Giant Slayer!!! Putting it all on the Line for Friendship
Captain’s log found on a barrel

“Damn it all to the deep! Where the hell are Goethe and Aven?”, I yelled after noticing the trio of mutant knoll riders were not alone. They had some ugly back up, a 14 feet tall, heavy metal encased, ship cannon on a stick toting, dumb as a stump, giant mutant knoll. We needed back up too since we were hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. To make matters worse the knolls had a hostage and the lay of the land. I didn’t know if Myrrh, Lorenz, Helig, and I could win against such polymorphic odds. All I knew was, you mess with us, YOU GOT PROBLEMS!

I peppered the closest rider with hot lead. It pained me to see that its thick hide dulled much of the impact, but it did enough to let him know we weren’t pansies. I lamented the fact, I didn’t have the gun Ezgar ripped from my hands nor the power from my magic trinkets. But what I lamented most of all was my missing friends. If Aven was here he’d butcher these fools and if Goethe was here he’d lecture them to death. Where were they?

Suddenly, I heard a noise from above in the pitch black sky. It sounded like arguing. It sounded like the bickering between an old munthrek married couple fighting over directions or window treatments. One voice balked, “Over there you pointy headed idiot. Take us over there”. It kinda sounded like Aven’s flavor of frustration.

“No I will not change course. I have taken into my calculations the buoyancy of the balloons, the relative wind speed, the impending sunrise, the moon phase, the temperature, the barometric pressure, our weight, and the curvature of the earth. We will land in the correct spot. Trust me”, belabored a second voice. It kinda sounded like Goethe’s tireless logic.

“Fine do it your way! Goethe, if this fails I will kill you myself!”, said Aven’s flippant voice.

“You can try Aven. I assure you nothing can go wrong. I have analyzed all possible variables there is no danger”, responded Goethe’s irrefutable voice. They really came! I looked up to see Goethe and Aven on the verge of a slap fight dangling from gray balloons on fast approach. Those magnificent bastards! My heart soared with the thought of them coming to save the day like hell bent action heroes. Individually we’re freaks but together we‘re whole and can stand against any tide.

Unfortunately, the big dumb one saw them too. The giant mouth breather eagerly planted his cannon stick into the ground and took aim. We tried to warn Goethe and Aven about their imminent doom but they lazily fluttered in light as feathers. The empty-headed knoll salivated and lit the fuse. I have seen many cannons fire in my day, but I have never seen such a violent eruption in all my life as that cannon tied to a stick. The imbecile must of packed it with ten times the amount of black powder and a hundred pounds of scrap metal. I felt the shock wave from the shrapnel blast like a powerful gust of wind from a clear 50 yards away. If I had hair it would’ve been blown back straight as an arrow. After the blast subsided, two bloody albino red eyes tangled in optic nerve endings rolled to my feet and a shredded white hand landed in a muddle in front of me. My heart sank and almost quit beating. Was this all that was left of Goethe?

“Mada, Mada Dane”, an obstinate voice scoffed as the dust settled, once the last cloud cleared the grisly vision of Aven stood proud. Shrapnel had pierced him like a pincushion, black powder had burned him, and his guts busted out his belly. I thought he looked bad when he was skinned alive just hours ago but now he looked twice as bad. His sword was already drawn, his steely gaze already fixed on the cackling knoll. Aven the maniac charged!

I didn’t see it coming, I was too caught up in Goethe and Aven’s plight, the pitted shot hit me in my left oblique scale. The pain came in overlapping waves, shrinking my world world down to a vanishing point, the pain tried to make me completely disappear. I wouldn’t let it. Everything went black for a second, when the lights came back on the pain in my back was tremendous and debilitating like I just got sawed in half. If that luck sack shot had hit me a scantling to the left I’m sure I would’ve been paralyzed. As it was the spinal damage was severe, but I still could muster my arms and legs with a great deal of effort. I felt like the walking carcass of the once great Captain Reskafar due to the extent of my injures. But I wasn’t nearly dead enough to stop fighting!

I pulled an “old gunslinger trick” out of my ass. A trick can be worth more than all the spice in Sedeq when properly timed. I grit my teeth, and returned fire with a single well placed shot to the rider’s fetid head. The bullet ricocheted off his head meat and the knoll went cross-eyed. In its confusion, the dumb bastard blew the back of his mount’s head off. The blind-sided hyena retaliated by bucking the rider to the ground and dragging him off into the wastes never to be seen from again. That worked out well!

Then I noticed two things. First, Lorenz was dripping in so much sweat he looked like a pig on the hottest day of the year at high noon. Second, the big dumb knoll’s pleased look turned to deep regret and he started sobbing like a pup. With no signs of stopping, the giant started smashing the tip of the cannon to his face with all his mutant strength. That bought Myrrh and Helig enough time to free Tebrilith from the last rider with scary efficient bladed team work. She looked alive I think. The giant eventually snapped out of its terrible remorse. We tried to take the big guntank out to little effect. We might as well been the buzzing of flies to that armored behemoth. Until something happened that I have never seen before in all my life!

All 3’ of Helig leaped sky high until he was face to face with the 14’ mutant knoll guntank. I saw the silvery glint of Helig’s chef knives disappear into the armored giant’s battered face plate. I swear the same silvery glint possessed Helig’s eyes, the flash of death, as he twisted both knives. The giant knoll stopped dead in its tracks not making a sound. Helig landed in a picturesque pirouette, behind him the lifeless giant slowly fell to its knees than face-planted forward in a loud clatter of makeshift metal. It reminded me of a great oak falling to the ground. Helig never looked back at his giant kill and walked dutifully back to Lorenz’s side. Begads, Helig has come a long way! Three cheers for Helig the Giant Slayer!!!

It was done. I think we all survived if you call our state survival. Goethe was missing his eyes, left hand, and copious blood vessels. He had done just enough to live. Aven was missing most of his entrails but he had his blue skin back. I was missing bits of my spine and could feel one hell of a fever growing. Myrrh got hammered flat with a cannon sized club. Tebrilith was hyena cud. Only Lorenz and Helig looked relatively unharmed which seemed fitting. A few minutes passed in silence except for the chorus of exhausted breath and Goethe’s solo eyeless moans.

Then I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder in the midst of the sunrise burgeoning over the hill top. The horizon’s thunderous voice seemed to say, “Come and see”. And I saw. And beheld, a pale horse at the top of the hill wrapped in the dawn. The rider that sat on him looked like Death and I wondered if hell followed with him. When the man comes around.

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Mutants!!! Why’d it have to be Mutants?
Captain’s log found on floating trunk

I waited for Vandlo. It was his turn to go.

“I will make a blood eagle out of Ezgar. First, I cut away the flesh over his spine, long strip by long strip, with my racing knife. Then, I sever his ribs from his spine with my ax. Next, I break his ribs with my caulking mallet so they resemble blood-stained wings. Through the wounds in his back, I slowly yank out his still beating lungs with my twin cant hooks. To complete the ritual, I drape his purple lungs and broken ribs over his shoulders. Lastly, I will ground salt into his wounds. His screams will be glorious music! My father in heaven will dance a jig to his melody! I will dance with him!”, said Vandlo excitedly, while miming the sequence of motions like a trained executioner.

“Your turn, Captain”, he finished in a deep exhale.

“I am going to chop his arms and legs off with a rusty ax. They shouldn’t grow back. Makem’ watch as I burn each limb to ash then pour the bitter soot down his throat. Makem’ choke on his own arms and legs for awhile! Next, I will chain his arm less, leg less trunk to the Deep Sea Current’s anchor. Then I will find the coldest loneliest trench in the five seas and drop the anchor. He will suffer forever in cold blackness just like the Current.”, I responded, surprised by my morbid revelry.

We passed our watch on the shores of the Mana Wastes telling stories like that to each other. Vandlo had a crueler more detailed imagination than me but he was sick with grief over losing his father, Pov. I have always thought munthreks cling to their family to closely. But it was not their fault, munthreks have no community compared to Kobolds. Kobolds are raised by the tribe, taught by the tribe, and loved by the tribe. Kobold fathers just help bury the eggs in the sand then stroll away. Munthrek fathers wipe noses, bandage hurt knees, and tuck their children into warm beds each night for decades. I was angry because I lost my ship and friend. But I think, Vandlo lost more, his father was his only tribe, and he needed to release his hate. Comforting him was foreign to me, no one wants a hug from a Kobold, so we indulged in our symphony of murder fantasies together. Sleep came fast when the next watch relieved us.

I heard a halfling scream in the early hours of the morning. First, I thought Lorenz’s man Helig had burned my breakfast fish, but soon I was told Helig and Tebrilith were missing. The fools had gone off to search the washed up shipwreck of the Way Bringer (Good Name!) and its ghostly guardians. Lorenz, Myrrh, and I ran over a wasted hill towards the halfling screams. We were greeted by a green glowing ghost woman who really wanted to hold hands. Lorenz advised against it. We could see Helig and Tebrilith were surrounded in six blueish dancing lights that swirled around them. Lorenz yelled at them, “Get over here dumbbells!”.

In the southern darkness, strangled farm animal noises could be heard approaching fast. It sounded like a stampeding petting zoo being wrangled by trigger happy shepherds. The green specter hissed in the direction of the squealing then it imploded in a flashy green vortex taking the six blue wisps with her.

Then we saw the raiding party. They struck like quicksilver and retreated even faster. Three mutant knolls mounted on mutant hyenas crashed in shooting makeshift firearms wildly into the air like banditos. Very Subtle! One of the frothing hyena scooped up Tebrilith in its huge drooling maw and took off back into the shadows. Skillfully, Helig ducked and rolled to avoid similar fate.

“Mutants! Why’d it have to be mutants?”, I raged. I stopped to take a huge breath.

“Why’d it have to be disease spreading, mutt faced, inbred, yellow bellied, dimple dick, unwashed, slack jaw, lice infested, tumor addled, slug-slimed, crossed eyed, skunk stool, fever driven, dimwitted, hyena fondling, maggot burger, pustule populated, hunchbacked, fuzz butt, open sore, lumpy lipped, meat starved, hind-brain, cyst balls, glabrous tailed, ten nippled, flea bitten, crotch rot, scab picking, fart quim, bulbous bone, greasy hair, asymmetric braggadocio, boil painted, fungus festered, goiter gummed, smelly ass, virus belching, snot nosed, rattle clawed, sweat soaked, diarrhea mouth, gland swelled, tooth decayed, fork tongued, waxy eared, crusty clothed, worm-blooded, sorry excuse for mutant bastards?”, I ranted. My voice ran hoarse and head went dizzy.

I was mad as hell from stress and utterly exasperated. This was too much. This was the last straw! I lost my ship, my crew, and my friend. Vandlo lost his father. I got my ass handed to me on a silver platter. Lost my gun, lost my knife. For cryin’ out loud, I was still bleeding. Myrrh was hobbled. Goethe was gone. Aven was gone. Lorenz was broken. We were all stranded, starved, tired, and devoid of magic. And now, filthy knoll mutants kidnap Tebrilith right out from under our snouts. No way! No sir, not today, not while I am still captain! No one else dies today!

We all pursued like a bat cloud out of hell. I may not be able to assist Vandlo make a blood eagle out of Ezgar, but I sure as hell can pump a bunch of mutant bastards full of lead.

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Thank You Deep Sea Current!!! Divided by the the Mana Wastes
Captain's log found on the drifting wheel

It was a mystery to me why Ashen and Slate showed such sniveling deference to Ezgar, it was completely out of character for the proud duo, especially considering how pitiful Ezgar looked. He was too tall, too thin, and too knobby like a scarecrow swaddled tightly in smooth human skin. He wore gold spectacles with dark lenses, a black tattered oversized captain’s coat, and a hundred year old black tricorne cap. I saw nothing in his appearance that would scare a crow let alone State and Ashen. But he obviously was in charge and he didn’t like us one iota.

“Slate and Ashen, why do I always have to clean up your mess? I blame your rank stupidity on your youth and kind upbringing. These outsiders know too much of our plan. We must skin them alive and let their naked flesh rot in the sun”, blustered Ezgar in a deep voice that had no business coming from his slight mouth and thin lips. Ezgar tapped the deck, soon the gaseous spirit of a Great Wrym seeped up from the deck boards and obediently heeled to his master’s call like a service dog. An animated mass of treasure also stood steadfast searching for a fight.

“Wait! Captain Ezgar we can talk about this…”, rattled off Lorenz in protest. Avast, it was too late, Ezgar’s Ghost dragon charged and narrowly missed my head with a translucent claw. The battle with the Sunken Galleys was on!!!

I deftly retaliated by shooting a bullet through the ghastly Dragon’s head. No effect! There ain’t no justice, the last time I shot a ghost the ill-fated Captain Balta, I made big holes. Something wasn’t adding up, magic bullets should work on ghosts. I thought about it again, and realized I didn’t feel the magic from my musket or my gear. I tried frantically to contact the Deep Sea Current with my mind meat. No effect! No magic! No Ship! No magic! I looked for Goethe for explanation. No Goethe! Fuck it! I don’t need magic to fight. I only need my crew and I can’ lose.

“Fools! You must flee! You’re no match for Ezgar!”, shouted Ashen. I shut her out.

“Fire at will! Blow that floating graveyard out of the water! Let them rue the day they crossed paths with the Deep Sea Current!”, I commanded to the gunners. The gunports swung wide open in series from stern to bow, the iron cannon barrels penetrated through the port holes locked and loaded. The cannons fired one after another like thunderclaps striking the Old Dragon Bones just below the fender. Wood splinters exploded! It felt good not to be helpless.

In the sulfuric chaos, I saw Aven leap to the other ship and slash Ezgar deep across the chest. The wound was far from fatal, Ezgar’s skin tangled around Aven’s falchion in a gooey mess like the blade was a saltwater taffy pull. I couldn’t believe my eyes, huge gobs of loose skin sloughed off Ezgar, until his true form was revealed, a huge skinless monster man wrapped in long tendons and hulking muscles. How could something that gnarly fit into such a small suit of munthrek skin? Ezgar gored his fingertips of both hands straight through Aven’s shark plate armor deep into blue flesh, he clinched, he twisted, and he pulled in one expert motion. You could hear the skin peel from Aven’s flesh like a frayed burlap sack tearing. The ripping sound lasted an eternity then slowly changed into a wet slurping sound as the skin’s resistance faded. Aven’s scream was a blend of purified agony and unfiltered terror, enough to make a seasoned torturer puke. After all his skin was harvested, Aven stood staggered: all his orifices bled, his hands shriveled, and his eyes bugged out from lack of eyelids. Ezgar raised the bloody fist holding Aven’s skin sack high into the sky and roared with achievement.

“Die you son of a bitch! Die! Just fucking die, already!”, I screamed as I uploaded a hailstorm of musket fire into Ezgar’s chest. Ezgar’s chest repeatedly recoiled like he was being pecked by a million invisible birds. The last shot stunned him and blew off a particular large chunk of his muscle bound flesh. He locked eyes with me and smiled, his wounds already closing. The guy was incredible tough. The rage in me built like a wild volcano. Apsu’s power was wasted on us if this was all the farther we could get! The battle continued in a savage blur. We were losing. The only saving grace was Ashen and Slate stayed neutral. Ezgar and his indestructible minions were more than we could handle without magic. Where the hell was Goethe?

“Fools! We are too close to the Mana Waste. The Mana Wastes devours magic. You need to run!”, screamed Ashen. Ezgar shot her a scowl for her remark. She averted her eyes in shame. Aven, Myrrh, Goethe, and Lorenz had already fled or were thrown into the sea. The Deep Sea Current was taking on water.

I gave my last order as the Captain of the Deep Sea Current, “Abandon Ship! But do not abandon hope!”, I yelled with tears in my eye. The crew escaped every which way from the sinking Deep Sea Current.

Ezgar came for me, but I didn’t care. I was too mad. I aimed to make him pay a pound of flesh for each step he took on my ship. I held my ground, braced, grit my teeth, and fired my musket with more purpose than ever before. The bullets did very little damage to his hardened muscles, but I didn’t care as long as he stayed focused on me. I kept firing right up to the point where he wrenched the gun from my hands. I went to draw another gun. He grabbed me with one fist. I stabbed him with my Azlanti dagger. He took it from me. I poured an alchemist fire down his throat. The bastard drank it.

He raised me up to his monstrous height, stared me down, and spoke with extreme megalomania, “I want to hear you beg for your pathetic life! Beg for your crew little Kobold! Beg for another day!”.

“Please Mercy. I beg for mercy for my crew. Take me, let my crew live. Please mercy”, I pleaded, letting my body go limp and letting the fight drain from me. I couldn’t defeat the monster. I couldn’t protect my friends. Ezgar saw me give up. He smiled jaggedly like a jack-o-lantern and squeezed me tight which broke many of my ribs.

“You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting. In what world could you possibly beat me?" proclaimed Ezgar, he continued “Flee! Flee to the wastes! Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha! You can thank me later, if you survive little Kobold”. He then flung me into the sea like discarded meat.

I was pulled into a lifeboat sometime after by other survivors. I saw a lot of familiar faces, but many faces were missing. Kaledith pointed to the battle in the sky where Slate and Goethe were facing off. Just as Slate was about to finish Goethe off with gnashing teeth, Goethe disappeared with Aven in the nick of time. “Nooo!”, screamed Slate.

My attention went back to the sinking Deep Sea Current. I struggled to wall up my grief and rage. I let the emotions expend the rest of my energy then said my final farewell to my dear friend, “Please forgive me. I couldn’t protect you. You deserved a better Captain than me". I started to weep uncontrollably, “Thank you for carrying us for so far and so long, Deep Sea Current. You were my friend. You didn’t deserve this”.

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Possessed by Fury!!! Slate Returns
Captain’s log found on a spar

The motherfucker of all storms was summoned out of the clear. The monster storm didn’t build slowly like a typical storm, it just appeared like it was displaced from another ocean or time. In the blink of the eye, the sea foamed, waves raged, winds howled, clouds clustered into darkness, and rain fell down in thick sheets. The storm’s turbulent winds immediately fouled the the sails and we were out of control like a leaf on the wind. Much to my chagrin, the Personification of Fury was a lousy skipper, it messed with the sail plan causing the ship to broach windward into a death roll. The ship rolled furiously side to side, the keel barely held to the bounding waves, and we inched dangerously close to capsizing with each violent swell. I struggled to keep my balance and wits. Thankfully no one was thrown overboard.

“Getting a little afraid now”, I whimpered. The ship was completely possessed by the Elemental God and unresponsive to my efforts. I thought, “What would Goethe do?”, my brain meat eventually thought of something good, an exorcism.

“Quick! I need an old cleric and young cleric”, I yelled to the crew then turned to the boat and repeatedly called with conviction, “The power of Apsu compels you! The power of Apsu compels you!”.

Apparently I suck as an exorcist since the vessel again pitched hard leeward almost turtling. The Fury changed heading into a dead run towards the largest wave. The ship climbed the towering wave like a ramp! At last, a heavy gale struck the sails like a vast mountain of air, it plucked the ship out of the water right into bird country. The ship glided long enough for us to hear the Personification of Fury rumble, “Now we dive!”. The wind faded and the sails slumped. The ship plummeted out of the sky like a drunk duck straight into the cauldron salt sea. Thankfully the water jewel was activated preventing total catastrophe.

“Woah…hello…okay…Sick as a dog now…”, I disorientedly moaned, my head felt like a hammered nail or a loose screw. We were given the 3 hours of water jewel’s magic to decide our fate: Aven, the ship, or the bottom of the sea.

As we huddled together trying to balance out the scales, Myrrh had a suggestion only an assassin could think of, “The Brine Drake is a dragon, we can kill a sleeping dragon”.

We all knew what the shadowy catman was saying. We stop the pakthryxl after the Personification of Fury pays a house call to the Brine Drake. Sounded like a can’t fail plan to me! The deal was brokered quickly. The God of Elements was willing to wait several more months for us to continue our quest. What’s a few months in a war that has lasted forever? In honor of the pact, the crew carved a magnificent wooden figurehead in the likeness of the Personification of Fury. The darkwood captured its come hell or high water essence and angry lightning face flawlessly. It looked wicked awesome!

We surfaced in front of the Convocation. By the blend of astonishment and fear on Ashen’s face she had witnessed the whole ordeal. Lorenz thought it was the picture-perfect time to pick up negotiations with Miss Ashen. She musta saw value in our flagrant disregard for our own lives and we came to terms. She agreed to tow us safely to Geb and bring us along to her forthcoming rendezvous with Slate. We revealed Slate’s third wish and our godly visitor. During the journey, she disclosed that her galley was sunken with sleeping dragon treasure from the east. The treasure was for something very expensive!

We rowed for three days and nights measured by that demon drum beat that sounded like crunching bones. We rowed right up along side of the Old Dragon Bones. We rowed right to the feet of Yigorin Slate. Captain Ezgar of the Old Dragon Bones looked more pissed than the Personification of Fury when he saw us. Slate just happily grinned.

This isn’t a joke! If we drop our guard beyond here there’ll be no forgiveness.

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The Deep Sea Current Vanishes!!! Shovin’ off to Geb
Captain’s log found on a rowlock

“Thank the seas we are leaving this Slave City!”, I cheered as we shoved off aided by a giant pink feather token fan. The over-sized magic feather looked absolutely ridiculous flapping behind the main mast like a pinwheel pushing a toy ship. However, I did love the look on the wharf rats eyes as they watched the pink feather propel our luxurious craft. Goethe’s ingenious idea got my sea legs back which was a good thing. I would’ve commended him on his efforts but I didn’t want to fill his sassypants with more sass or pants.

The heading was set to Mechitar the capital of Geb. We were taking the Dread line. Sounds mysterious doesn’t it? Myrrh and Vaghol uncovered a treasure trove of “Sunken Galley” secrets in Sohiz’s office while the rest of us entertained the insufferable gold bastard practically til dawn. Turned out, the heavy galleys once rowed one hundred years ago following the same path, the Dread line. Coincidence I think not!

We shipped off after the Convocation already left. We were all a bit tired from our morning meeting with a scummy genie binder who was interested in “buying” our Aboleth sapphire. It was a predictably violent encounter and I had to shoot the head off an idiot munthrek. Why does everyone want to rip us off? I asked Lorenz about the negotiation later, he whimsically recalled, “My favorite primary school teacher Mr. Glengarry taught me my ABCs, Always Be Closing. You close a deal even if you have knife to your throat. You close the deal even if you are the one holding the knife. Sometimes like this morning you outfox the fox and makem’ sign on the dotted line for 35,000 gold in holy triplicate. And sometimes if you are feeling frisky you leave a man enough rope to hang himself”. Good enough for me!

The dead air provided little resistance to our pink feather and we cut through the wave less sea at a remarkable clip for several hours. All was good until it wasn’t. Suddenly the Current stopped like it hit an iceberg or brick wall. The whiplash from the collision almost took my scales off! I like my scales and ship so I started searching the water for clues. A giant unnatural whirlpool had formed under the bow’s hard chine and it was growing fast and wide. The Current sank into the maelstrom, it was only a matter of time before we would be pulled under. To make matters worse a water column jetted out of the sea and blasted Lorenz with a crippling thick stream. A huge freaking water elemental! The watery bastard slammed us from all flanks and stung our eyes with the salty dead water. I quickly found out bullets do little against a water elemental other than piss it off. That is when we heard the first murmur almost a rumbling, “Aven it is time”, up from the benthic depths. Then a second, louder murmur, “Aven it is time!". It was deep, primal, and scary.

Then we saw it, first a monstrous shadowy flash under the water, second a huge crested fin, then three more equally huge fins, and finally a colossal prehistoric head with more teeth than a school of piranha. The bluntly triangular head rose out of the water attached to an endless neck until it was face to face with us. “We’re dead”, flashed in my mind’s eye. Before terror totally sunk in, I saw Goethe teleport around like a ricochet before blasting the water elemental with hot hellfire. I never knew he could hurl fire! The water column was barely a trickle so I finished it off. The sea monster also saw it. It cried out in fury, “How dare you? It was only a test!”, and dove. The whirlpool dissipated, the murmuring went silent, and things were calm.

In unison we yelled, “Aven, what did you do?”.
“I thought..I thought I had more time. Its only been a week. It wants me to fight for it. It wants us all. It’s so angry”, said Aven it a harried voice.
“What was it?”, Myrrh questioned.
“It is fury. Pure in your face and out your ass fury. It is the Personification of Fury”, quaked Aven. I didn’t know what that meant but the bigger brains looked extra panicked.
“You didn’t?”, demanded Lorenz.
“I did”, answered Aven.
I felt like it was time for leadership, “It’s time to sail lads”, I commanded, “Deep Sea Current get out of here”. Nothing. I tried again. More Nothing.

Then we heard its ancient rumbling voice again, “The Deep Sea Current is gone. You’re coming with me!”. The ship started to move.

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Interlude: Somewhere in Sedeq
From the narrator

In the small hours of the morning two parties meet to make a transaction. The meeting location was set in the worst, most lawless district of Sedeq, full of scum and the things scum attracts. The perfect place to make an invisible deal.

Jafar Mozenrath waited patiently for the proceeding to proceed. He was tall, dark, sinister, and ugly. His only appealing feature was his luxurious black hair that framed his face and his ruby red eyes. He was a gifted genie binder with visions of the future and the ambition to seize it. He had many titles in the Obari trade circle, a few real and more self-proclaimed like “Vile Betrayer”, “Lord of Wishmongers”, “Senor Psychopath”, and “Ruler of Genies”. He waited with his two trusted henchmen Gazeem and Iago for the foreigners from cold waters. He had it on the highest authority the foreigners possessed an Aboleth sapphire which could trap the most powerful djinn. If all went according to his meticulous plan he would gain a new title “Jafar the Great”. He was certain it was possible to leverage the sapphire’s magic to make a powerful new genie seal that would rival the “True Seal of Sulesh”. He would be a living legend, a God Binder, or so he dreamed.

Three foreigners approached to make the deal. Aven, a muscular blue man wearing terrifying ornate plate armor that could scare away circling sharks. Goethe, a tall white devil who did not look like a conjurer of cheap tricks. Lastly, Lorenz Vestin IV, a walking marble statue of a man with a heavy presence. Rumor had it that the deadly Okeno towed the foreigners ship through the doldrums and that their ship looked like it fell from the sky. Another rumor said their captain was a black dragon. Another rumor said their ship breathed. Another rumor said they could manipulate shadows. The rumors served the foreigners well to keep others off balance. The difference between fact and fiction has always depended on the eye of the beholder. Lord Vestin as he called himself when dealing was the closer. Positioning and preparation is how he negotiated: apply subtle pressure here, close a door here and open a window there, and play both sides. He always closed like his life depended on it.

The negotiation was short. Jafar had deviously planned an ambush of a dozen henchmen positioned in a dilapidated building. But when he signaled his hidden forces to strike they did not come, only a two-faced catman came out carrying bleeding blades. The catman politely nodded to Jafar. The fear of a backfired plan pumped through Jafar’s heart. His palpitations could be heard in the sewers. There is saying that rigged games are the easiest to beat, and such was case for Jafar’s rigged game. It was bringing down his house.

With only a few moves left to make, Jafar ordered his two bodyguards to attack and he himself fled. Gazeem charged forward then his head exploded from a sniper shot from out of nowhere. Iago’s head was soon relieved from his body by Aven’s sharp sword. Jafar ran as fast he could his luxurious hair stuck to his face. He ducked around a corner and breathed a sign of relief. But Goethe and Lorenz were there waiting for him eager to continue the negotiation. Though the game was now rigged in the opposite direction it was still the only game in town for Jafar. He signed a contract in holy triplicate for 35,000 gold for purchase of the sapphire. Jafar left with his life and a receipt of pick-up for the Bank of Abadar.

Entering the bank the next day, Jafar was surprisingly happy. Sure his plan failed, all his men were dead, and he was out all his money but he had his future and ambition. He could always make more money. He could always hire more men. He could always hunt down the foreigners from cold waters. The sapphire was the key. He handed the receipt to the teller. Soon a silk bag containing a large sapphire and note was brought to him.

The sapphire was the size of a cat and made him feel giddy when he touched it. It was like he was stroking his future in a strange way. The note was labeled “Instructions”. It began, “To familiarize yourself with the Sapphire, first whisper your name into the gem…”

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Sedeq Day 2!!! Black Markets and Sunken Galleys
Captain’s log found on the shrouds

Ahhh morning wood! So volatile, unpredictable, soft, and hard, and…lastly soft again. Waking up with painful vigor is the only way to wake up if you ask me. It’s the high point of most days, it all goes downhill from there. I thought our 2nd day in Sedeq was going to be a downhill day.

We arrived on time with bells on to our meeting with Sohiz. He greeted us with cheer and didn’t look worse for the wear after the debauchery of the past evening. He was prepared for us. All his gold was polished to reflect like golden mirrors which bounced his fat face around the golden room, surrounding us from his golden desk. Looked like an ambush if you’d asked me!

Goethe was first up and he purchased his Sister with money. I think I even saw the sourpuss smile when he introduced her to us. Her name was Heska. Standing next to her brother, she somehow turned from my sword dancing vixen to an exceptional bratty girl. So much for true love and wee hatchlings! Last thing, the Garax’s might be Cheliaxian nobles. Hearing that reminded me of what my old friend, Biggie, used to say, “Mo Nobles, Mo Problems”.

Next up was Lorenz, the meeting’s main event. They started in a flurry. I heard many mysterious words casted down at the bargaining table like “diseconomies of scale”, “equilibrium price”, “arbitrage”, “habeas corpus”, “derivatives”, “non-durable goods”, “risk management”, and “zero-sum game”. It was like watching an epic duel between wizards of the highest order who were speaking a secret language of big words. I have never seen Lorenz happier. In the end, we signed in holy triplicate a “legally binding agreement” with “full indemnity” to move halfling slaves and saffron spice to West Crown. Big Surprise! I have no idea who got the better. I wasn’t sure if Lorenz or Sohiz knew who got the better. I will never understand munthrek contracts.

Lastly, we visited Ashen at her creepy ship, the Convocation. Looked more like a “murder barge” or “corpse dumpster” to me than a “Sunken Galley”. I am not a shy Kobold, less so around ships, which must of irritated her since she blasted my ears with her drum beat. Luckily, my crew was charming, graceful, and skilled. Soon a game of “I show you mine if you show me yours” ensued. She showed us her dead gray half-dragon skin and her next port of call, “Geb”. We told her Slate’s first two wishes. The game ended there though we all felt we only scratched the surface of intrigue.

Now we are left with questions and few answers. How to move the ship? Where to go? Who to see? How to catch Slate? We need to remember Slate and the Grays our are targets.

I have feeling tomorrow won’t be a downhill day. We have a plan. We just don’t know what it is yet.

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