The Pakthryxl Proxy

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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Goethe has a Sister!!! Mad Wishes, Gray Plans, and the Captain of the Convocation
Captain’s log found on a cleat

Usually female tieflings don’t cock my musket, but the devil woman dancing at Sohiz’s banquet got me half-cocked. She really knew how to twist her fiendish nethers if you catch my drift. I wagered every man in the room was at half mast or more including Goethe. He has a fetish for scantily clad women. Her thin pastel veils and sword flipping did little to distract from her inviting body and ruinous eyes. “If she only laid eggs!!!”, flashed in mind like a beacon every time she bent over. While I was busy imagining what our babies would look like, she suddenly leapt off stage straight for Goethe. She threw her naked arms around him, snuggled her cleavage in ultra close, and giddily screamed, “Brother! I never thought I would see you again!”. Goethe turned bright pink.

My brain fumbled. If Goethe was her brother than that made her Goethe’s sister. Sweet sassy molassy they were related!!! A flood of new thoughts poured through my head, “Goethe could be the uncle of my children? Why is Goethe’s sister the entertainment? What do devil boobies look like? Wait, Goethe has a mommy and daddy?”. I always assumed Goethe was conjured up in some Acadamae laboratory with spare textbooks, bleach, horns, devil magic, and a stick up the pooper. Goethe and his sister whispered to one another until they realized they were the center of attention. She quickly went back on stage, picked up her sword, and started gyrating again. I could tell she was afraid to death of her transgression. Sadly, she was the gold bastard’s slave.

The rest of the banquet paled in comparison. It felt bad ogling Goethe’s sister but the feeling was fleeting. In a mysterious way it made her more attractive. The grub and drink were first class. I kept to myself after being laughed at by the crowd for being a Kobold, but I still noticed a thing or two. A marvelous ginger lady gave her panties to a smiling Myrrh. A shady man in the corner was doing shady things. Kaledith looked ornery. Sohiz constantly urged us to smuggle slaves for him to parts unknown. The Jackal especially had Goethe over a barrel, so we set up a sit down with Sohiz in the morning. It was a crying shame. The crew made a resolution to save Goethe’s sexy sister. After which we all left together drunkish and full bellied.

Lorenz revealed to Goethe on the way back, “I know something that will cheer you up. Care to visit Slate’s Villa? My contacts came up big for me”.

Slate’s villa was fucked up. Not only was the entrance collapsed but the inside was ransacked. Aven and Lorenz said it was by Slate’s own hand. Apparently he can’t transform out of his huge platinum form or didn’t care too because broken bits of his scales mingled with the mess. Entering the villa was like entering the mind of a deranged goat. We found tidbits of crazy everywhere in Slate’s one hundred years of research.

All I could say was the man was dedicated to his cause. Slate researched everything, exhausted all angles, filed it, and moved to the next. We found stacks of his mad theories on magic, Obelisks, family letters, pakthryxl, Dahak, Apsu, and Aroden. The greatest treasures were the endless journals he used for crafting his three wishes. He must of spent decades carefully, searching for the right words to avoid being fucked over by Balijian. Goethe put his intellect to the test. The first wish was to arrive at Great Hunter’s hoard at the same time as Apsu’s Ambulatory. The second was to become one with the platinum dragon armor. Lastly, the third was to leverage something called the Obelisks of Misery. The plot ripens. Why did Slate return? What did he take with him?

Ashen Silloex thought she was being sneaky. She wasn’t. At least, not around this crew with that perfume. I can smell a fly a thousand yards away in a hurricane while taking a piss. The others are pretty good at it too. Ashen was bold, beautiful, and a fellow Sea Captain. She also came to the villa looking for Slate, who we reckoned was her blood relative. There seemed to be sizable discord in the gray ranks. Lorenz tried liberating her secrets while protecting our own, but Ashen played it close to the vest and left us in an invisible huff. It made me smile to think of our next encounter.

By hook or by crook, we will get to the bottom of Slate’s plan.

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The Chosen One!!! The Golden Jackal Smiles
Captain’s log found on the capstan

Big cities can scare me. They mean laws, customs, contracts, government, and not shooting people in the face when they piss you off. Cities are not free like the open sea. I argue that a city is a fancy cage, its residents willing prisoners, and its king the ruthless warden. I wondered if Sedeq was a scary city. I thought it probably was while the Freedom slowly towed us into port. Sedeq came into view. It was quite the sight.

The harbor was big and its waters calm. Sedeq’s great wooden docks stretched forth lovingly to us like the open arms of our mothers. Eye-catching brightly colored canopies and tapestries blanketed the sun drenched buildings like fancy scarves. The city looked like a luxurious resort with lots of open air and lack of heavy walls. Grand stone temples with golden domes, lush flower gardens, and a radiating bleached white palace popped out of the harbor-side. Obelisks, fountains, and plazas of ornate repetition filled in the gaps. As we neared, the fragrance of exotic spices filled my nostrils. Helig proudly identified the pungent odors as cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cardamom, and cumin. We got closer. Soon the all too familiar smell of hard labor and whipped flesh overtook the spice. How can a place smell so sweet from afar and so awful from point blank?

Goethe explained the mystery, “It is said that every slave in the world passes through Katheer, but those slaves are trained here in Sedeq. Half the population is slaves and the other half is slave owners. Slaves and spice is their lifeblood. We will need to tread lightly in this city of contradiction”. Goethe was right, Sedeq’s harbor was truly a prison for us since the calm waters wouldn’t allow us to sail away. Caution was the order of the day.

We passed endless rows of moored Okeno ships, merchant ships, and ships flying mysterious colors of all sorts until be found an open berth. Lorenz coached the dejected Tofal one last time, “Now Tofal, my captain will blow your ship sky high if you deviant from what we rehearsed. You tell Sohiz, you towed us out of the goodness of your heart since our ship was battered by a storm. Forget the revolution. We are your friends and friends vouch for one another. And cover up your damn ear”.

The harbormaster, Sepyt Batab Sohiz II, was an imposing middle aged fat man. He looked like he was made of gold, ate gold, and shat gold. He was dressed in a finely woven gold silk cloak with intricate gold buttons that barely covered his enormous girth. He wore a delicate gold scarf-hat, gold sandals with shiny gold buckles, golden claw rings, and gold gewgaws and baubles galore. His dark manicured eyebrows and beard were heavily dusted with gold flecks. We entered his office and immediately felt eyes from seventeen different directions probing us. His office also suffocated in gold. Everything was gilded in gold including the walls, floor, and ceiling. Prized golden souvenirs from a thousand different cultures were on display. The gold did not stop there, even the guards were made to look like golden statues carrying gold blades. I found the opulence very intimidating like facing a golden ruler sitting on a golden throne in his golden court. It did not seem to intimidate Lorenz, he was rather jovial. Tofal nervously vouched for us the way he was suppose to. The crazy lies did not bother Sohiz. Sohiz was all business, “You and your crew were lucky to meet such a kind Okeno. Tafol is a rare man. Please tell me why you are in my city”.

I told him the truth, “Get patched up and meet a business partner. Maybe a weeks stay at most”.

He looked up from his thick ledger and analyzed each one of us with his penetrating eyes. I swear even his pupils were gold. Nothing escaped his golden gaze but it lingered a half second too long on Tafol’s mangled ear and fake smile. He then starred Lorenz down for a long spell like he was sizing up a worthy challenger. I wondered who was going to flinch first? Sohiz then smiled impossibly wide like he came to decision and busted out in a thunderous guffaw, “ha-ha-Ha-HA-! ha-ha-Ha-HA!”.

While still giggling and jingling he rolled on, “Welcome to Sedeq. I apologize for my meager office. It is shameful! If I had known very important men like you were coming, I would have prepared something truly extravagant. Let me show you a true Sedeq welcome. It would be my deepest honor to have you all as my special guests tonight. Please let me take care of your every need”. He paused to calm his voice, then he somehow increased his smile, and finished, “Lastly and I can’t stress this enough, Captain please return Tafol’s ship. As a personal favor to me”. His last words were supported with inauspicious undercurrents. Of course we accepted!

“Guys that was great! We got invited to a banquet!”, I bubbled to the others after we left.
“We were afraid over nothing”, said Aven.
“He seems like a lawful man”, declaimed Goethe. Myrrh and Lorenz turned to one another and shared a disbelieving look.
“Guys that was the most intimidating welcome in the history of welcomes. That man is a golden jackal waiting to poach us and piss on our remains. I have known many like him. Hell, he is the kind of man who hires a person like me”, said Myrrh in a serious tone.
“Tonight we dine in the jackal’s den. We must be ready for anything”, replied Lorenz in an equally serious tone.

The ship was in Sohiz’s care. He wouldn’t dare to move against us until the evening festivities. So we went our separate ways for the rest of the day since Sedeq was the first city on the ground we’ve encountered in months. I went to the pirates. I hate pirates the least since they are the most honest company a kobold can keep.

Lastly, a funny thing happened right before we left for the banquet. Lorenz barely holding back tears of laughter, told us, “By the way, Aven is now the Chosen One! Let me tell you all a story. It all started with this lecherous fool in a shack down by the river…”. I found the story riveting, I never had a first mate who was the Chosen One.

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To Sedeq!!! City of Slaves
Captain’s log found on the orlop deck

It’s all reaction! I can snap a shot off in a blink of an eye, doubly so in the heat of things. If my enemy gives me an opening I will shoot a bullet through their face. Which is why I tunneled a lead round straight through the temples of the Okeno bard who stupidly tried to heal his myopic captain in front of me. After watching the biscuit eater’s brains get blown out the side of his head, the Okeno Captain surrendered in piss soaked pants and the Okeno Cleric turned coat faster than Goethe can teleport. I had captured or killed all the remaining Okeno officers with one bullet. Such is the power of my hole making.

I kept my musket trained on the former Okeno Captain Tofal and my new cleric buddy Khair. But there was still a deadly Slave riot to deal with aboard the Okeno slave galley, jokingly named Freedom. Somehow the enslaved oarsmen had lashed out in great numbers against their Okeno overlords. It was revolution at sea! My first revolution. It was very exciting. I kept thinking to myself, “It must be Myrrh’s doing”. He is the only munthrek with the balls to free chained slaves, rally them in to an unstoppable mob of frenzied pirate killers, and not be seen at the same time. I bet the Okeno pirates woke up this morning thinking about saucy wenches and great plunder rather than being fed to the fishes. Hell when I woke up this morning, revolution was the furthest thing on my mind. Such is the power of Myrrh’s sideways tactics.

I was getting very nervous about the addled slave mob and needed some time to think. I asked Goethe kindly to make sure the chaos on the top deck didn’t reach us. He must of intimidated the shit out of the mob since we weren’t bothered. Goethe is a complicated devil who does things that baffle me all the time. He plays with time and distance like a baby plays with a rattle. The only reason I was even aboard the Freedom was due to his quick thinking and shifting steps. One moment Goethe and I were on the Current’s forecastle and next he teleported us to the Freedom’s aftcastle like he was Apsu. Such is the power of Goethe’s mysterious magic.

Luckily, Lorenz soon joined us. Once aboard, he nodded respectfully to Tofal with a knowing half smile. He surveyed the bloody revolution in action on the main deck where people were dying in spectacularly violent ways, but it didn’t seem to faze him. After all, in our many travels this was not our first bloodbath. How he planned to stop a bloodthirsty slave mob from not cashing in on many hard earned years of compounded rage was a mystery to me. That kind of rage can make any person a powerful sort of crazy. A lesser munthrek would let the violence run its course, but Lorenz is not a lesser munthrek. Lorenz shot me a confident wink then faced the crowd again, a brilliant shimmering aura was growing around him. “By the beard of Abadar! Stop the killing, before you doom us all. Tofal is finished”, he boomed with almost no effort but paternal purpose. Amazingly, the fighting stopped immediately. When the mob’s punch drunkenness faded, they dropped their weapons, and looked up at Lorenz like scolded children. He had their ears. He had everything they had to offer. Such is the power of Lorenz’s sway over men.

That ended the fun part of the day. Next came the boring part. We had captured our sixth or seventh ship since setting out to sea. The Freedom looked to be in fine condition with a full armament of cannons and a stocked cargo hold. We acquired around forty slaves, a dozen Okeno prisoners, and an ally in Khair. Goethe acquired the body of the tunnel-headed bard to defile with his magic. Lorenz and Myrrh went about making nice with the slaves. We were not interested in owning slaves but we needed them to row for us.

What to do with ex captain Tofal was another matter. At first, Lorenz threatened to turn the tables on him by making him a slave. “He’ll make a fine rower”, said Lorenz. Tofal was scared shitless but still far too aggroant to our liking. It turned out the cure for his arrogance was Myrrh’s revolutionary pal Tongueless. That scar-striped bastard, looked like he had spent much time killing his way through Qadira’s many notorious fighting pits. Even half-starved and dry-throated he looked more than a match for Aven with a blade. Tongueless happily agreed to guard the bilge rat for us. He was so happy he sliced off Tofal’s right ear at his first chance. Myrrh and I liked his spunk, Goethe was indifferent, Aven was suspicious, and Lorenz was horrified.

After Tofal’s surgical consult with Tongueless, he promised us the sea and stars. He promised to put in a good word for us with the harbormaster of Sedeq, Sepyt Batab Sohiz II. After conferring with Khair’s it was determined that Tofal was worth more unmolested. Sohiz is a powerful munthrek. Making him angry would make our stay in Sedeq all that much harder. We will see in three days how well we get along with Sohiz and if Slate is lurking. But our quest remains unfettered, we do as Apsu commanded, “Stop the pakthryxl”.

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Slavers our Saviors!!! Drifting on the Windless Sea
Captain's log found on transom

“Where in the hell is the goddamned wind?”, I screamed in frustration to the cloudless sky, “This stupid calm sea must be one of Slate’s traps!”. I stomped around the top deck angrily then paused to look up at the slack sails hoping for a flutter. I stared and stared with no effect then finally went berserk. I jumped up and down in rage then began blowing air like mad at the sails until I was blue in the face, but the ship didn’t budge. It was freaking inconceivable to had survived a skyfall from above the clouds and now left rudderless on the calmest sea I have ever seen. The mysterious sea was devoid of ripples, waves, and current. The sea was so lifeless it looked like a frozen wasteland of solid ice as far as the eye can see. I started to wonder if I could stand on the water in order to push the ship. “Guys I think we are in Hell”, I told everyone, “Apsu dropped us straight into Hell”.

“Actually, Hell is a boundless realm of torment and suffering”, Goethe said with his smart mouth, “We are merely stranded in the Obari Ocean somewhere near Sedeq City of the kingdom of Qadira”.

“Close enough, Goethe!”, I yelled in defiance.

“We should beware of Slavers. Sedeq is slave capital of the world”, Goethe calmly stated.

“You don’t think I know that, Goethe! I would love to see some fucking Slavers right now. It would be a party compared to this crap”, I snapped back. I hate the doldrums, it sucks worse than munthrek whores. Not to mention, we had to labor all through the night to repair the ship. We bailed sea water out of the bilge, patched cracks in the hull, and stitched sails. All of which sucked. The cherries on top of the shit pie were Slate got away and Aven was missing. If this wasn’t hell than the real hell must be a paradise with dancing ponies and chocolate pudding.

During the middle of another one my obnoxious tirades Myrrh spotted an enormous white whale approaching. Finally the sea showed signs of life. We all marveled as the majestic creature lunged and crested out of the surface of the water causing huge splashes. It was putting on quite the show. As it neared it slapped its humongous tail repeatedly on the water like it wanted our attention. Once it was satisfied it had our undivided attention, it started making sickly guttural sounds like it was about to choke up a giant chicken bone. We waited anxiously to see what the great blubbery fish was going to vomit up. It was very exciting. With one last bellowing belch the whale spat out a blue scaled man high into the air at a 45 degree angle. The jettisoned man effortlessly somersaulted through the still air and dove into the water without a splash. The scaly man popped out of the water and nodded to the great white whale which promptly flew away. I repeat myself, the giant whale flew away like a bird. “Please wait, Mr. Whale don’t go. We need a tow!”, I screamed at the flying whale to no avail.

The blue man swam towards ship, he looked oddly familiar, but he was encrusted in layers of dense overlapping blue scales from head to toe which made him hard to make out. He pulled himself up on deck and stood proudly before us without saying a word. As the sea water dripped off him the blue scales covering his naked chest curled into steel plates, the scales on his legs stiffened into heavy greaves, and the scales on his face morphed into a great barbed shark helmet. He slowly removed the great helm, I imagined he would uncover an ugly squid face, but instead I saw the mile wide smile of Aven. “I will never get tired of doing that!”, bragged Aven, “Like my new legendary armor? That Living Storm gave it to me after I vowed to kill the Brine Drake”. Lorenz and Goethe both did double takes after processing what Aven said.

“You are a sight for sore eyes, matey”, I said while hugging Aven, “We thought we lost you to the storm”. Aven shook me off his leg.
“That puny of a storm can’t wreck me, Captain”, boasted Aven, “Anything I can do to get us shipshape and bristol fashion?”. I commanded Aven and his cohort Tokka to search the calm belts for all salvageable wood and debris. It took late into the night but soon the ship was seaworthy again. I slumped exhausted into my cot just as fog rolled in.

The moment I shut my eyes the Deep Sea Current shouted in my mind to wake up. I looked down from the crow’s nest just in time to get a glimpse of the passing galley ship. She was a sickly sight, sail less, mast less, broad and fat, loose in the stays, and laid low with a heavy load. It looked like a great battered barge powered by oars. I read the name, Old Dragon Bones, written in the black stained wood. Its pounding drum beat sounded sinister and I instantly wanted to wept for the gaunt oarsmen. Underneath the nightmare barge, gloomy lights flickered in the water and palely lit the dense fog. The fog tasted like rotting flesh with each breath I took and it smelled no better. I stared harder in horror as the creepy barge rowed its way by. My eyes were drawn to a shrouded munthrek watchman shambling across the deck with a dim lantern. I thought to myself, “I guess I should see if that murder barge will help us”. I raised the parley flag and hailed them.

It ignored us completely or so I thought. Suddenly, the lantern man wheeled around like he saw the devil and tapped the deck. One of the ghostly lights instantly rose up from the water and swept over the deck. The galley was quickly being swallowed by the thick fog and I was about to lose sight when I heard a crash on my poop deck. Goethe tumbled to his knees, he looked a thousand years older, and his face was the picture of torture. He must of teleported over to the other ship to take a look around. We all gathered to him. He slowly stood, once upright he limped to a ladder, and then he finally said in a gravelly old man voice, “I am going to retire to my lab”. We decided to let the mysterious galley go. The rest of the night was without incident.

“Sail ho!”, I shouted from the crow’s nest in the morning light. I saw Okeno Pirate colors on the horizon. “We’re saved”, I shouted while doing a little jig, “Raise the distress flag, we’re baiting the hook”.

Pov nervously replied, “Aren’t the Okeno Pirates the evilness slavers ever to sail the five seas? I hear they use other pirates as shark bait”.

Lorenz chuckled, “Like your captain said Pov, we’re saved”. The pirate galley powered by enslaved oarsmen halted on our port side. The fierce Okeno pirates gathered at the bulwark with weapons and grappling hooks at the ready. Each weathered man was practically salivating at the sight of our expensive yacht and skeleton crew. “Our saviors!”, shouted Lorenz to the pirates, “We wish to parley”.

“Shiver me timbers! Feast your eyes on that lads”, exclaimed the pirate captain to his crew. “Who is the Captain of that floating shipwreck?”, he shouted to us.

“The ruthless Captain Hole Puncher”, yelled Lorenz pointing at me. I summoned my most vicious sneer, drew my musket, and lit some tobacco. The other pirate captain looked confused. “Never heard of him. That little kobold shit can’t be your captain? We will go easy on ye if ye strike your colors”, said the other captain.

“Listen to me for I will only say this once. Captain Hole Puncher will cut your heart out with a spoon, boil your balls in oil, and feed them to you if you slight him. He is the black dragon of the Steaming Sea, the vanquisher of the Pirate Queen, and future Pirate King of the Shackles. His insatiable lust for gold is only matched by his lust for blood. But he is reasonable when shown the proper respect. So you better watch yourself, or you won’t believe what happens next, even while it’s happening”, Lorenz stated with the perfect blend of bravado and finality. The other captain hung his jib while looking at Lorenz’s intense expression. By the Gods, Lorenz could sell sea water to undines if so he wished.

The parley was completely one-sided in our favor. The other captain agreed to all our terms and he even proposed a few of them. He was Lorenz’s and Myrrh’s walking talking puppet. I almost felt bad for him, but then I remembered he wasn’t even a sailor. He knew nothing of wind and current, only of rowing. Pathetic. The Okeno agreed to tow us to port for some gold coins. To insure the deal, Myrrh and Vestin’s man Hilleg were taken prisoner by the Okeno crew and their captain stayed with us. What a fool to abandon his crew? Even more foolish to abandon his crew to Myrrh’s mercy. It wasn’t long before their slave galley was in bloody chaos. We heard someone yell, “Blimey, the slaves are escaping!”. The Okeno captain pulled his sword on Lorenz and violently shouted, “Ye scallywag! I will kill ye!”.

I wonder what Myrrh did. He better not sink it.

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Skyfall!!! Die Another Day
Captain's log found on gunwale

Vilya Sul and Balijan bid farewell after delivering their parting wisdom and gifts.

“Look alive men! Stand at the ready! Never-mind what just happened, you all know the Deep Sea Current is full of surprises”, I shouted to the crew. The crew looked terribly frightened, practically peeing themselves, by the fact that ship had just transmogrified around them into a harder, better, faster, and stronger ship in a blink of an eye. I don’t blame them, things have been pretty crazy since we arrived, but Slate was getting away. I shot a look of futility to Lorenz for help, the crews’ morale had run aground and we had to give chase.

“Snap out of it men! Do not be afraid of the miracle that you just witnessed! It was to our benefit!”, Lorenz called out capturing the crews’ attention with his powerful voice. He surveyed each scared face, took a deep breath, and gently smiled. Solemnly he remarked, “Together, we have come farther than anyone has ever dreamed. Together, we have sailed the endless sea above and beneath the waves, discovered lost lands, and witnessed the unimaginably. Together, we have been to hell and back again. And now, together, we are going home”. To a sailor “home” has a powerful meaning and their panic dissipated. Lorenz had them in the palm of his noble hand and he knew it. Lastly he exclaimed at twice the volume, “It is time to rally! It is time to put your trust in us, for we trust each one of you with our lives! It is time to heed your captain’s orders! It is time to go home!!!”. The crews’ mood completely changed and they cheered wildly. Lorenz is a force of nature when he gets like that.

Pov exuberantly asked, “How do we get home from way up here?”.

“That’s simple, we’ll just go straight down”, I said with a plain face. Pov chuckled, looking at me for signs of jest, then crooked his head in disbelief when he realized I was dead serious. The cheers from the crew stopped as my remark circulated, but before they could get all panicky again I barked, “Weigh anchors, batten down the hatches, furl the sails, and stow away the cargo. On the double!”. I warned, “Don’t forget to tie yourself down unless you want to be swept away by the wind”, as everyone frantically scurried around with renewed purpose.

Master Goethe dug deep into his spell book to help out. He webbed the crew together in a cabin to prevent them from being bludgeoned to death from the fall. It was going to be cold as hell after we left Dragon Heaven so Goethe took care of that for us with his magic. “Don’t worry, I know the perfect spell to steady the ship once we get near the ground. Trust me, nothing can go wrong”, Goethe stated with confidence.

I gave the order to the Deep Sea Current to give chase to Slate. The elemental was happy to be leaving the sky and shook the ship with excitement. Myrrh tied each one of us down with ropes around the helm since Vilya warned of severe winds. “So any idea on how to deal with Slate?”, Aven questioned. Oddly that was the last time I heard Aven speak, but more on that later. Naturally, I took the lead as captain, “Isn’t it obvious? We parley”. I hailed Slate from afar which he obliged. He looked astonished to see us so soon, “How in the heck did you get here so fast? You and your ship seem different too”.

“We have decided to join you Gray Son. Lets be allies once more. It proved to be quite profitable in the past”, I said. I am not a good bluffer but luckily the two best liers I know were picking up what I was putting down.

“Why yes Gray Son, lets sign another contract in holy triplicate”, Lorenz added. Slate was not sure what to make of it. “If you join me many Dragons will die”, Slate decreed, “Are you okay with that Captain Reskafar?”. I was flustered about to babble out a crude response but was thankfully saved by Myrrh.

“Like I always say, kill them all and let the Gods sort them out”, Myrrh said without a quantum of solace, he looked like a stone-faced killer. Slate approved, “Very well, meet me below in Sedeq, at my villa. We have much to discuss. Not all Gray Agents approve of my methods but I only answer to my father”. He continued, “Now leave me be, I plan to enjoy the fly down to the surface”.

“Screw that, you only live twice! Lets have some fun and make a wager! If we beat you to the sea then you introduce us to your father”, I said taking a chance that his inner pride beast would not allow him to say no. The others were alarmed by my offer but did not protest. Slate looked over the new ship, scoffed, and nodded in agreement. The race to the sea was on!

I gave the Deep Sea Current the order to drop the port and starboard rapid deploy sails. Instead of the sails raising up, Aven and I had modified them to stretch out over the air to act like gliding wings. We could control the winds easily with our makeshift wings and sped by Slate. He roared in frustration but could not keep pace. He was so angry he fired a line of lightning at the ship from his maw. The lightning looked like it was going to miss but at the last second Slate reared his head and extraordinarily the bolt arced across the hull. I cursed him for harming my precious. I also noticed a look of intense concentration on Goethe’s face like he was trying to keep the fires of hell from possessing him. Suddenly, we must of breached the edge of Dragon Heaven because all the air in my lungs was sucked out by the frigid cold. Luckily, Goethe magic absorbed the biting cold but did nothing to fill my lungs with oxygen. I was dazed and exhausted from gasping for air which allowed Slate to catch up with us. He did not look to be struggling at all.

“Hahahaha”, Slate laughed, “You guys are always full of surprises! Lets raise the stakes once morrr…”. SPLAT! CRASH! BOOM!

It is hard to explain what happened but it looked like Slate slammed into the bottom of a deep pit in midair. I saw Goethe waving his finger like a smoking gun in Slate’s direction. The look on his face was utter ecstasy like he had been waiting for that moment since his conception.

“Idiot!!! What have you done?”, screamed an exasperated Lorenz

“I taught that gray scoundrel a lesson in magic and physics”, Goethe proclaimed, “He fired the first shot so I was within my rights to defend the ship”. We all looked at him in disbelief. Tomorrow never dies but Goethe’s life depended on Slate’s reaction. What would that reaction be?

“I will tear you fucking apart Goethe!!!”, we heard Slate scream out in frenzied rage as he climbed out of the magical pit. He looked really messed up, many of his scales were smashed, blood gushed down his face, and one of his platinum horns had broken off. Slate breathed a huge amount of lightning straight up into the air in anger then power dived towards us. During his dive he wrapped his wings tightly around his body which sprung him faster like a crossbow bolt. I had no choice but to tip the nose of the ship directly at the ground. The consequence would be exchanging control for acceleration. Again I had no choice, I greatly feared what Slate would do to Goethe and us if he caught up. I imagined being hanged, drawn, and quartered would be more enjoyable than Slate’s intentions. As the nosed tipped the wind resistance faded and the ship fell like a stone towards the sea. I stared straight down at the top of clouds and I could tell the wind was going to be at a whole nother level once we reached them. I thought to myself, “You are caught between the devil and deep blue sea”, between a murderous dragon and the jet stream.

Hitting the jet stream was like hitting a hurricane of tornadoes. The wind blast was so fierce you couldn’t open your eyes or mouth. I was sailing the wind on instinct alone, but the Current was doing most of the work and taking most of the beating. Life boats, loose cannons, planking, and everything not tied down was blown from the ship. We were blown from the ship, but Myrrh’s knots held true except for Goethe’s knot. I immediately caught him with my fast reflexes, giving him enough time to shift to safely. The burgeoning wind hammered the sails hard and ripped the port wing clean off. We started to spin. Another cannon busted free from the gun deck almost taking Myrrh’s head with it. The starboard wing soon gave way to the hurricane force winds. With no wings what chance did we have? We spun like a top headed to doom.

We were spinning so fast I had to focus on the main mast to gain perspective of the situation. In the background of my vision, lightning was chaining and I could feel the intense flashes of heat. Lightning struck the ship from all angles but mostly struck Lorenz. It appeared to me the lightning was beginning to ball and take on a malign form. Its wicked face looked like a huge fiendish cat outlined in arced lightning and its body a swirling thunderball of terrifying energy. Was this the presence Vilya warned of? The mysterious lightning monster effortlessly moved in close and began speaking to us in zaps and cracks. I had no fucking idea what in the bloody hell it was saying, fortunately, Lorenz and Goethe looked to know how to communicate with it. Good enough for me, so I decided not to care about it and focused on stabilizing the ship. The last I saw of the living lightning creature, I swear, it was pointing its hand at Aven.

The winds lessen into a violent storm and we were pelted with hail and rain. We were still violently spinning on all axes out of control, faster, and faster. The whirling forces caused all the loose shit in the boat to pile up in the cargo hold including the dense clockwork dragon. An idea popped into my head, I could use that pile of shit as a counter weight. If we deployed the main sails including the moonrakers at the precise time we might be able to jerk the ship free of the tailspin and regain some control. I instructed the ship on exactly what to do with the rigging and waited for the right time to pull the trigger. The moment we plummeted through the cloud ceiling I gave the order to deploy the main sails. The ship wildly parachuted up on the main sails, we stopped spinning, and slowed. In was just in time to see Slate swoop by slashing his tail at Goethe. “We’re dead”, thoughts intensified, “Well maybe just Goethe”.

Slate continued his bone crushing tail strikes at Goethe, who miraculously looked to be holding his own. One of Slate’s slashes cut the rigging around the mizzen mast which caused a redistribution of wind force that snapped the mast off like piece of straw. The mizzen mast flailed randomly, whipped us with ropes, and shot wooden splinters in our eyes. The living daylights were knocked out of me but I somehow was able to hold on. The slack from the tangled cables went taut and pulled the boat into another wild spin. Slate disappeared not wanting to be lassoed by the flying ropes. I started shooting the tethered ropes in a desperate attempt to free the splintered mast. The mysterious elastic nature of the ropes snapped the mizzen mast back to the ship like a pile driver. If it speared through the quarter deck it would probably kill all the crew in the decks below. My desperation uncorked a surge of power bestowed by Apsu’s goldeneye, the rush of power made me fast, enabling me to sever another cord. Myrrh acrobatically cut the last tethers by swinging through the air on the jungle of ropes like a monkey. The ship was still in a deadly spin and the sea was in the offing.

In was only a matter of seconds before the ship would crash into the steel waves of the sea. Goethe appeared and said, “Don’t worry I got this and flew under the ship”. As I think about what happened again I am not convinced Goethe did anything to help.

Lorenz and I were able to stabilize the ship after re-configuring the rigging once again on the remaining main sails. For a brief moment, everything was eerily calm like in the eye of hurricane. The world had seemingly slowed to a snail’s pace which provided me with ample time to take stock of my surroundings. Goethe and Aven were nowhere to be found. Myrrh was above me, holding on to the end of a rope with his teeth, his arms held back, and face full of controlled fury. Lorenz had summoned his awkward griffon in order to make a safe getaway. The crew was screaming at the top of their lungs for the madness to stop. I knew splashdown was eminent. I took one last breath, shot a smile to the heavens, and activated the water jewel at the exact time the ship broke the water’s surface.

We plunged into the water with an epic splash. The bubble held. We were free to die another day.

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I am Apsu!!! Heroes Reborn
Captain's log found on helm

The portal transported us to the center of some sort of ancient draconic sanctuary with towering doric stone columns, upside down staircases, and crisscrossed causeways. The room was so vast I felt like a lowly ant at the bottom of a grand canyon afraid to death of being crushed. We stood quietly in awe for a long time to gradually soak in the sprawling architecture. Frightening draconic details graced every trace of space from the floor to ceiling. Most impressive and disturbing of all were the endless rows of grotesque dragon statues holding beaming jewels that dimly lit the chamber. Near us at the colonnade point of origin were three finely sculpted lava stone arches positioned in the cardinal directions. Each arch had a beautifully engraved tablet of draconic verse set into the finely polished stone. The fourth arch was smashed to smithereens. Floating above the rubble was a black hole shaped portal that appeared to bend and distort all the nearby matter around it including the dim light. It was so impossibly still I wasn’t even sure it was a portal until it flickered erratically then froze again.

After inspecting the portal, Lorenz advised, “A powerful evil has tainted this portal. We should be very careful around it”. Goethe observed the portal oscillate between dead still and violent distortion for sometime and commented, “One’s heart needs to be as black as the portal to pass through. I should be okay but you guys are lacking”. I noticed a Night Stone of Sorrow, among the rubble and got my first clever idea in weeks that wasn’t a result from booze. I quickly put the necklace around my neck and told Lorenz to check me out with his evil goggles. “You are one evil son of a bitch, Captain”, chuckled Lorenz. We all put the evil amulets on and prepared ourselves to jump. “Wait!”, shouted Aven, “I see Slate’s lamp over there”.

Lorenz took the lamp in his hands and hurriedly rubbed it with his sleeve. In a poof of jetting blue smoke Balijan manifested. He seemed to know who we were and was glad to see us. We had a quick talk with him, he told us that we were inside the Obelisks of Fate the chromatic dragons’ name records, but he could not divulge the nature of Slate’s wishes or plans. He apologized profusely and agreed to haul the clockwork dragon to the Deep Sea Current for us. He was overjoyed to be free and couldn’t wait to see Vilya. He left us smiling.

We gathered our courage, took a deep breath, and entered the evil portal. After crossing the point of no return, I felt the tremendous pull of the portal swallow me in darkness. Inside it felt like I was being twisted and pulled apart by a wild tornado then I felt a sensation of swift movement. When the blackness faded, Dahak’s big ugly dragon face greeted us on the other side, my heart skipped a few beats from the shock. “We’re dead” was all I could think. Thankfully, Lorenz realized it was only an idol. We saw Slate’s shiny platinum scales below the enormous godhead, he was ranting and laughing maniacally like a crazy person. Well at least our timing was good. It should be said that we didn’t think ahead and had no fucking idea what to do in the event of running into Slate. We stared, dumbfounded at Slate who was riding high on life or mushrooms. I nudged Lorenz to say something, “Hi there Slate, fancy meeting you here”.

“See that Dahak my good friends have come to visit me!”, Slate addressed the godhead in a mocking tone. “It is good to see you alive, my friends”, continued Slate facing us, “I was worried that those shortsighted Elder Wyrms judged you harshly”.

“We were lucky in that regard”, said Myrrh slyly, he continued, “We came to see you Slate”.

“Of course you did! We need to settle our contract. I trust you found the genie”, Slate chuckled. He turned back to the Dahak bust and sarcastically said, “Hear that Dahak, a gray dragon always pays his debts!”, with that he dug into a bag of holding and fetched six chests full of Cheliax platinum coins. I immediately opened my chest and started counting the coins. “There is plenty more where that comes from if you join my cause, my friends”, boasted State.

“What exactly is your cause Slate? I never join unless I know all the facts”, questioned Lorenz.

“Let me properly introduce myself, I am Gray Son son of the dracogenius Gray Scale. Our plan is simple: to rise and to punish”, smiled Slate widely, “Hear that Dahak, to rise and to punish!”. I was getting annoyed with all the pussy-footing around and boldly asked, “Why have you put the dragons to sleep?”.

“To change the world, dear Captain”, answered Slate with devilish smile. Confused, I followed with, “Why are you not asleep?”.

“That is simple, no one cared to write our names down. Gray Dragons don’t exist!!!”, Slate matter-of-factly stated and began laughing uncontrollably again. “Hear that Dahak, we don’t exist!”, roared Slate when he settled, again turning to the altar. Well I had never thought of that before.

“Sadly I need to go, my work here is done my friends. I will continue my work at the Obelisks of Fortune. If you truly want to join me, I challenge you to meet me there”, Slate calmly expressed. He turned to the Dahak idol once more and flamboyantly bowed before leaving abruptly through the black portal.

We had many unanswered questions and immediately followed him through the portal. We unexpectedly found ourselves transported to the empty space that divides planes not the Obelisks of Fate. Goethe and Lorenz called out, “We are in the Astral Plane. Don’t panic we just need to decide which way is down”. After everyone managed to reorient their sense of direction we safely landed on a big floating rock with a nice looking pillar on it. Then something mysterious happened.

As soon as my feet touched the boulder my consciousness was forcibly pulled into a dream. I found myself back at Raptor Island, standing on my favorite beach, looking out to sea at an enormous tsunami coming towards me at high speed. The wave reached higher and higher like giant hands, swallowing clouds, and blocking out the bright sun. It was as if all the water in the sea had come to drown me. I felt the most helpless in my entire life even more helpless than the time I was trapped in the blue sapphire. Just as the top of the roaring wave was beginning to crash down to wipe me out the water started bursting into golden flames until the whole wave was engulfed like burning oil. The flame wave’s center bore a face of a noble Great Dragon that spoke to me, “Fear not Reskafar, become reborn in my radiant flames”. The words bolstered my will and I faced the inferno arms wide open to embrace the fire. My body was burned up, but I felt no immolation only warmth. What was left of me became one with the golden fire and the golden fire became one with me. I screamed out to the heavens, “I am Apsu”.

I woke from the dream flying above my crew wrapped in golden flames. My scales were a radiant gold, my wings were strong, a glowing aura emanated around me, and great horns protruded from my head. I could feel the intense presence of Apsu surge through my body filling me like an empty cup. It was fucking fantastic! The look on my comrades’ faces was priceless. Theirs eyes had bugged out, snot bubbled around their noses, and their jaws were gaped wide open. I heard myself speak in the holy voice of Apsu and urge my companions to stop the gray dragons and end the pakthryxl proxy. I sounded really wise even Lorenz was at a loss for words. My crew quickly bowed to my power and chiseled their names into the Obelisk of Myth. As the last one finished scratching his name into the obelisk Apsu spoke one last time, “So let it be written so let it be done”.

It flash of light we were standing back on the deck of the Deep Sea Current watching Vilya and Balijan making out like teenagers. It was strange to see them not stop for air and continually lap up each others spit. Kobold don’t kiss so this was quite weird. They stopped once Lorenz cleared his throat loudly, “Um Hmm!”. I then realized that Apsu had left my body and returned me to my crappy self. I turned to the others and said with a melancholy voice, “Remember when I was Apsu that was good times”.

“Don’t feel bad Captain, you still got us!”, replied the sardonic Myrrh.
Kaledith approached us, “You all seem different, overflowing with positive energy. What happened in there?”.

Lorenz earnestly responded, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you sweetheart”. In the distance we saw Slate dive off the edge of the flying island towards the surface 10 miles below. “Hurry we must pursue him”, ordered Lorenz.

“Wait!”, interrupted Vilya, “Your ship and crew is in no condition to fall through the stratosphere”. She turned to Balijan, “Can you do something to help, Lover?”. Sheesh pet names already.

“Only if you use your last wish, darling”, whispered Balijan.
“Anything but that", pleaded Vilya, “I was planning on wishing to stay with you until the end of time”.
“I love you the way the wind loves racing through the air. You don’t need a wish to stay with me. You already possess my most secret heart”, Balijan romantically whispered.

“Do it. I owe them that much for being reunited with you”, commanded Vilya.

“As you wish”, replied Balijan with a gentle smile. His arms became smokey blue tendrils that penetrated the ship deck and cut through the sails. He slowly began to spin faster and faster until he became a blue whirlwind. The ship was being torn apart and put back together in an instant. Another mast grew out of the deck behind me, the ship easily doubled in length, fattened in girth, and added another deck below the waterline. Our yacht transformed into the most magnificent sailing vessel I had ever seen. And I am its Captain!

Our fortunes seem to change with the tide, but today was a good day. Many decisions are left to be made. What will we do next? Is Slate now our enemy? Will we save the dragons?

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Followed Footsteps!!! Attack on Destiny
Captain's log found on tiller

First thing first, we had to get the Deep Sea Current airborne if we were going to track Slate. I started praying to Apsu’s Golden Wings like a surly fucking pirate but the ship didn’t budge. Not sure why my prayer didn’t work, perhaps Apsu dislikes swearing, kobolds, or the combination. Goethe eventually figured out the right prayer, Lorenz the right cadence, and praying altogether the ship levitated out of the water. Backed by Apsu’s will our ship turned from sailing yacht to airship.

Flying the Deep Sea Current through the sky was incredibly thrilling and liberating. Sailing on the sea is for suckers!!! The whole crew including Deep Sea was nervous as hell for our maiden voyage because plummeting to our doom was a very real possibility. Slowly we got a feel for the wind, it was surprisingly easy to maneuver the ship after I realized the rudder was useless. We had to reconfigure the rigging and beam position slightly to better control the winds. While airborne we kept a constant prayer to Apsu to help control our pitch, height, and ability to stop. Once we mastered the basics we left the napping Great Hunter and took off to the sky in search of Slate. As we ascending, we got at a good look at the devastation in Midvale, it looked like hell in heaven. The brutal fighting between the scourges and petitioners hadn’t stopped, fires were spreading, and bodies were piling up in the streets. I am not sure if we could of saved Midvale but its a damn shame what happened to my favorite city.

Vilya led us to a small nearby island that she tracked Slate to days ago. The entire island was a magnificently sculpted mausoleum from all sides, it must of taken the skills of legendary craftsmen to accomplish such a feat. Inside the soaring catacomb, the ossuaries of many Great Wyrms were laid to rest along with their most prized possessions. “This makes Great Hunter’s hoard look like a piggy bank!”, I shouted. “Don’t get smited, this is all Apsu’s, leave the treasure alone”, responded Lorenz. We noticed immediately that each tomb was covered with a charcoal dusting most likely used to copy the inscriptions on each seal. Why would Slate need the names of the dead? We passed a mysterious mass of bones in a central chamber and more priceless treasure. “Dragon burial customs sure are weird”, I said in passing. Lorenz soon spotted a hidden passageway that led to a grisly altar erected to the evil God Dahak. “What is that doing here?”, questioned Lorenz.

Goethe read the plague on the altar out loud to everyone. A loud rattling and clattering of bones clashing could be heard from the central chamber. “Oh that’s why”, said a shaky Lorenz.

The guardian of the tomb had assembled from the bone pile, the dragon had a huge twisted skeletal form and, most alarming of all, were the great wyrm skulls for hands. It looked similar in form to the scrouges that leveled Midvale, but commanded a greater awesome presence. I saw the others getting ready for battle which I thought was crazy and screamed, “Let’s get the fuck out of here”, while fleeing to the exit. The gate was sealed shut with strong magic wards and wouldn’t open no matter how hard I yanked on it. I could hear my crew battling the guardian fiercely. I returned in time to see Lorenz, Aven, and Myrrh gang attack the creature back to bone rubble with their “stabby stabby chop chop” maneuver. The victory was hallow since dutiful Blatz was electrocuted to death. Goethe’s was seething, “My precious tool has been sundered” was all he would say on the matter. We began to hear more bone stirrings in the central chamber and escaped to the gate after toppling the dread altar. Another guardian had assembled and cornered us at the gate. We frantically tried to bypass the gate but all attempts mundane and magic failed. The monster closed in on us and aimed its three fire breathing heads at Goethe and Myrrh. Lorenz and I immediately began praying to Apsu, “We mean you no harm! We haven’t taken anything! We destroyed the blasphemous altar for you! We beg for mercy!!!”. The monster stopped in its place, settled onto its hind legs, and bowed to us. As its last action it opened the gate and gave us a look that seemed to say “SCRAM”.

We investigated several more of these flying monuments that Slate visited. We were much more careful and managed not to engage the tomb guardians. We found Dahak altars in each crypt and more charcoal dust. Why has Slate collected so many inscriptions?

“It is time I take you to Slate”, said Vilya. She took us to the intimidating island surrounded in lightning bolts and swirling winds. The raging tempest was concentrated above six jet black monoliths at the center of the island. Great Hunter had called these the Obelisks of Destiny which supposedly document the name of every metallic dragon ever born. The legendary obelisks are one of dragon-kinds most guarded secrets and greatest joys. It all makes me think, Slate is working with extremely powerful individuals possibly even the God Dahak. We breached the wild storm with Vilya’s help and arrived at the footsteps of the obelisks. We called out to Slate to show himself but he did not show.

Sure enough countless draconic names were beautifully written in the black marble confirming these were in fact the mythical Obelisks of Destiny. Shivers went down my spine, we may be the only mortals in history ever to touch the obelisks. It appeared the keepers of the obelisks, three silver Great Wyrms, were asleep near the central tower. Goethe surmised they had contracted the pakthryxl and could not be woke. I spotted an incredibly intricate key around the neck of one and removed it. If there is a key then there must be a lock somewhere! I lugged the giant key up the spiral staircase of the inner tower. It was quite heavy and it banged against each step. Within the obelisk, we found libraries of books on each floor, the books were filled with draconic names cover to cover. Someone found a thick log book on a table that had some mysterious numerology riddle written on the inside cover. We deciphered the riddle quickly, it read like a treasure map to a secret floor in the tower. On our way to the secret floor we could hear heavy footsteps and the grinding of gears echo. It was impossible to tell where the noise was coming from so we pushed on in high alert. We slowly crept into a large library at the same moment as “it”.

A huge dragon form marched up the steps on the opposite end of the room. With each step the sound of winding gears, jerking pulleys, and vibrating screws echoed. It didn’t look alive or undead, it looked like it was crafted and it noticed us instantly. The dragon was covered with gleaming metal and countless complex cogs and gears. It moved with mechanical precision and had the presence of a dangerous killing machine. “Apsu help us!”, was the only thing I could say after watching my bullets bounce off its metallic shell. I heard pressure building within the metal dragon’s throat before it sprayed us with a stream of sleeping gas. I fell asleep.

When I woke up next, it was to the tune of Goethe and Myrrh delicately folding the clockwork dragon into a more portable size. My crews’ bodies were tore up pretty good but their faces were smiling. How in the hell did my crew defeat that invincible metal dragon? Those bastards still won’t tell me what happened. “Shouldn’t of fell asleep Reskafar you missed one hell of a show”, was all they would say. And for some mysterious reason Aven, Myrrh, and Goethe kept calling Lorenz the “Techno Game Master”. It is all very infuriating, plus I can’t find my giant metal key.

I am sure once they are done teasing me for falling asleep they will give up the goods. We continued on our journey to the secret floor using the numerology riddle. We went up floors than down floors until the sequence was complete. Goethe believed powerful magic was at work since the tower’s physical structure could not hold so many floors. “Were here!”, shouted Aven. We all peered into the small room, an ominous pulsating blue portal was at the heart of the room, beckoning to us to come hither. “Dragons are fucking crazy” is all we could say before jumping in the portal.

I can’t even imagine what comes next. Where are we going? Will we come face to face with Slate? If so what will we do?

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Invasion!!! Destruction of Midvale
Captain's log found on bilge

Things fell into a blurry rhythm in Midvale. Days full of dock building or whatever insane command Great Hunter could think of. Nights full of drinking, partying, and vomiting. Mornings spent waking up in the gutter with a titanic hangover. We did manage to open the newest hole-in-the-wall pub in Midvale, on Hole-In-The-Wall street in the tavern district. Great Hunter hasn’t named his bar yet (Reskafar’s Roost?), but it has been a bright spot so far due to Goethe brewing a 99.99% proof drink called Big Sting. I bet you can’t guess what the 0.01% super secret ingredient is that gives it that little extra (pssst…don’t tell the Wyvern babies). Life was good until it wasn’t.

We were settling down for the 15th grand opening day in a row when we heard deafening thunder claps nearby. Apsu’s Dragon Heaven hasn’t stormed at all during our stay because we fly over the weather so a storm was unnatural. The thunderstorm was mystery enough to lure the drunkards out of the taverns including us. Great Hunter wanted to take a closer look and offered to give us a lift to observe the phenomenon. We flew high in the air towards the lightning flashes, as we neared, it looked like the lightning was searching for something on a distant island. “That island is new”, proclaimed Goethe, “It is not on any of my maps”. Another mystery.

“Huh…Goethe is that on your maps”, my voice trembled with fear while pointing at a huge swirling vortex that was opening above us. The vortex’s intense wind shear hit us first, bolts of lightning flashed all around us, and thunder drowned out all other noise. The vortex wasn’t pulling us in but opening a portal to another world. From the center of the vortex emerged hundreds of stitched-together skeletal dragons that were power diving at high speed towards Midvale. Between thunder claps you could hear them screaming, “Father you keep such weak petitioners!”. They flew past us like a swarm of locust to feast upon Midvale. Not many fortifications or defenders in place like Midvale the carnage would be absolute.

After the undead dragon army passed us Great Hunter began to fall. His mysterious sleep had returned. His slumber was so deep my musket nor Myrrh’ blades could rouse him. He crashed like a cannonball in a building below causing total destruction and a deep crater. Luckily I fell safely to the ground while maneuvering with my wings to the site of the crash. After joining the others around the unconscious Great Hunter, five of the skeletal dragons attacked. The evil dragons were held together by bones of various good dragons and wore glowing amulets around their necks. They attacked savagely with breath weapons of all kinds. They were close to overwhelming us and would have succeeded if it wasn’t for Myrrh’s quick thinking. He deftly swiped the amulets from their necks before we all died. The skeletons collapsed like dominoes without the magic amulets binding them together. “I should of done that sooner”, Myrrh cheerfully said while casually twirling the necklaces in his hands.

Fortunately, Great Hunter woke just enough from the pakthryxl to change his shape and ask to be taken to his hoard island. Vilya Sul was waiting for us. “I have found the bastard Slate”, Vilya declared, “I have tracked him to many different islands up here, but he has found one he likes best”.
“Don’t tell me, we going to the lightning island”, said a weary Lorenz.
“Yes, he is there at the island with six black monoliths. He must be searching for something. We must hurry to save Balijin”, she ordered frantically.
“Go my friends…Stop…Slate….you are the only ones who can…”, said Great Hunter before drifting off to sleep again.

What is Slate up too? Why would he attack Midvale? How has the pakthryxl penetrated heaven? If we truly are heavens last hope then our names will echo through eternity if we succeed!!! Plus I like Great Hunter.

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