Winds of Chaos

Solmael, a perspective...
It's the smell.

Finally, I have attuned myself to the winds of Hyish. The cold light of purity sings in my spirit now. I had hoped that the fount of reason would dampen my distaste for the lands of men, but instead it has only highlighted the absurdities that abound among these unwashed savages. On the positive side, now when one of these apes offends my dignity I can employ more than my cutting wit. Truly this breakthrough comes none too soon. The signs of pestilence we have been seeing grow more frequent, and more alarming, by the day.

We have arrived in the mud and wattle shanty of Talagad. It is overrun with refugees from Middenheim and the entire place smells like unwashed human punctuated with the nostril searing bouquet of feces. It is, truly, a few iron bars away from being a cage full of apes. Yet all is not dark! We can finally be rid of the two children and well paid for our efforts in retrieving the mouthy little rodents. But, of course, the hand off would not be so easy as all that.

The Inner city was closed and we were met at the gate by some puffed up fat man who tried to impress us with either his paltry bit of authority or his staggering number of chins. Nor tried to blather at the two-legged pig but he wasn’t having any of it and Drachlyn just looked increasingly constipated. So I called on the wind of Light to cloak myself in radiance. That got his attention! And it got us a meeting with the Magistrate. Another man of flabby countenance, though possessed of a sort of low reptilian cunning. He was reasonable, at least.

After we explained to him our predicament, and how it was in his best interests to assist us, he arranged a meeting with one of the Countess’ captains. Then he made his recruitment pitch. He wants us to shoo off and redirect refugees to some of the outlying villages before the stench wipes out all of Talabheim. Or before the food runs out and everyone starves to death. Either way, to avoid a grisly fate. We told him we’d answer him after the meeting.

The meeting itself went swimmingly. The captain met the kids. He asked the older girl some questions about her ancestry and was satisfied as to their bona fides. So we turned them over and that was that. The more important part of that meeting was with a sister of Shallya, who confirmed that there was sickness in the city proper. None had died from it yet, but I had the strong sense that such a state would not endure.

We engaged in a thorough discussion of why we should get away from this place, and indeed, had made the decision to do so. Then I felt the edge of a dark and sinister aspect to the winds of magic coming from the center of the city and my heart sank. I was honor bound to investigate this black working. Which meant I was going to have to stay here, in a plague touched city, surrounded by barbarian louts. It looks like we are off to herd refugees…

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Parting Ways
Drachlyn's Mental Diary

We said goodbye today to Davy and Alysa, the children we had rescued along with the Priestess of Shallya, from a group of Beast-men. I don’t know what it is about them, but… I felt something when I was with them. A sense of purpose? Teaching Alyssa to handle a blade left me with a certain satisfaction… Davy as well, despite the child never holding still or silent long enough to learn anything.

We’ve been traveling for some time now. I have grown fond of my companions. Even the Harlot, bereft of her constant assault on my nerves. I am at times perplexed by my rapport with the Elf; he is growing to be a friend, even if our people are at all times uneasy. That said, I have always been alone in this world, and… friendships have proven fleeting in the past. I remain guarded, but… there isn’t anything wrong with cordiality, I suppose.

I am unsure as to what my next move will be. The Elf describes some foul change in the winds of magic that he seems obliged to follow up on. I do not have anywhere else to be. I had considered perhaps bidding my companions farewell and venturing to one of the outlying cities that the Talabheim authorities are routing people to in order to claim one of the promised parcels of land… but… solitude had dulled me to how much I have missed companionship. A small portion of my heart also goes with the recently collected children… and ensuring their safety, should this dire mystical presence prove ominous to their well-being, would ease the pain of their departure significantly.

Curiously… despite my reservations, I feel confident that this is the path I am meant to take, journeying with these two. I felt the rush of… something greater than myself guiding my sword-arm during our skirmish with the Beast-men. For that moment, I was unstoppable. I thrust my blade into the sky, and was rewarded with a baptismal red rain. I was annihilation made manifest. And… that feeling is still there. Gentler, yes. But present… somewhere in the corner of my mind, whispering. Is this a sign? Am I on the right path? Perhaps my confidence is a falsehood.

Or, perhaps, I am simply mad. Driven to insanity by the Harlot’s screeching judgment of my matted hair or the implication that I simply must feel meat thrust within me to relax, the opinion driven home by waves of festering potential suitors sent my way. I… No matter. Truly, in spite of my resentments, my affections extend to both of my companions. In her case, I must continue to remind myself of this.

…Perhaps I am simply mad.

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Adventuring for Fun & Profit!
Nor’s Stream of Consciousness

People.

If there is one thing I have learned in my 22 years on this earth it is that they are all the same. Take this poor carriage driver. Clearly nobody has bothered to listen, REALLY listen, to anything he has to say. Well, today that changes! All people really want is to be heard, and to talk. Talk talk talk! Spill their guts all over the place for me to sift through. Secrets, lies, juicy bits of information just come tumbling out of their mouths when you make it clear you are on their side.

…even if you aren’t.

They just want to tell their stories and feel like they have made their mark. Well, I am happy to listen, especially when discounted rides to exciting cities full of potential are on the line.


This carriage driver isn’t that bad I guess…I mean, he may LOOK like his face was kicked by a mule and then used to clean an outhouse but he certainly has had some fascinating passengers. Frankly, I am grateful to have sat next to him our whole ride up to Taalagad and not trapped in that coach w those kids. Don’t get me wrong, they were adorable and all, but they are way more interested in my companions than me and I don’t even know what I would say to them. I am not really into baby dolls and toy soldiers, are they even old enough to understand the finer points of general conversation? No thanks, I will leave that to Draclyn. My esteemed colleague makes quite the babysitter!

Speaking of which, what the heck is up with her anyway? I have been nothing but nice to her but she continues to shun my attempts at kinship. I offered to do her hair, she balks. I try to start friendly conversation, she just stares at me. I try to get her some…prime rib, and she acts all offended! HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW SHE WASN’T INTO STUDS?? I would have rounded up some mares if I had known her preferences! She refuses to share anything about herself and it is SO rude! We are in this together now, all I want to do is be a good teammate and help her out and she continues to be a stone wall. And a RUDE stone wall at that! All my good intentions…well, I will not REST until we are the bosom-est of friends! WE WILL BE BFFS IF IT KILLS ME. OR HER!

I must say though, the elf is pretty all right. He gets where I am coming from, and is just the most fantastic showman! Now THERE is a guy who understands a little flash can go a long way! He did this thing with his cloak when we were trying to get into the city…just pure song and dance I love it. He and I could make a lot of cash in this city…All in the name of altruism of course…


This whole Talaagad thing is not my cup of tea. Locked out of the city proper, Ms High and Mighty being a jerk, Solmael having an aneurysm at the slightest hint of dirt…and the poor here…it is so sad. Those bastards inside the walls are probably living it up with their fancy houses and modern conveniences, while we are stuck out here in the shit! I am all about moving some of these people out of here, at this rate we are never going to get into the city if we have to wait for all of these refugees ahead of us. Move them on to a new life of fresher air and opportunity, and let me be the one to bring them to their salvation. A little gratitude here and there is more valuable than gold in certain situations…


Magistrate Hoehenlowe seems like our best bet to get into the city…and man does he surround himself with some interesting people! There is this one guy who had a wig on his shoulder (who, according to this super nice lady who sat next to me at breakfast is either made of virgin hair from the heads of elves in the northern isles or bleached horsetails), Another lady with a mole the size of a gold piece right in the middle of her nose, and yet another lady who (according to a sly looking bookkeeper closer to the fire) is all about her cocker spaniel in ways that would make poor Sister Karrin blush. And then there is, of course, the disgruntled employee willing to share all the dirt on Hoehenlowe and his shady use of authority. Couple that with the insane vanity of the local Countess, makes this whole trip all the more amusing.


Sometimes I wish that Solmael would cut the whole ‘I sense a dark presence here’ crap.

If he could have just kept his magic radar in check for another 5 minutes we could have been out of there, on our way to herding sheeple out of this disgusting rat infested port to new lives in the countryside…complete with plenty of opportunities to make connections in new and upcoming cities and possible pay days in the form of land and favors.

But NOOOOOOO he had to be all on point and sense some evil in the city. Now it looks like we will be skipping over our side quest and forcing our way into the city somehow. I can only hope that Hoehenlowe’s desire for clout and power will be strong enough to take our letter in exchange for passage.

If not, I hate to think of the inner city being destroyed before we’ve had a chance to make our own mark on it…

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Taalagad Report -Erntezheit 3rd, Marktag
The Village is hell!

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Good week adventurers! Your ever present Gnome Informer – Monty the Bard digging into wat’s news is news!

…a bitch tis’ aflame! Another heretic sorceress of chaos put to the stake! The citizens came out to witness the wench die in agony per the charge of his Imperial Majesty’s representative Damien Kurg having dragged yet another unfortunate to her due fate. It is said he is scouring the cities for all sundry sorcerers and witches tossing about their fell powers on the poor besotted peasantry.

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And now for the health report…becuz a sots health is a sots health! Currently there is a bad case of the trots hitting the Jakes and the Fisheries along the docks, so ye be warned to avoid said basins and well-holes. The Kislev quarter is also suffering from dysentary and Malgoville’s Pox yet again, so enter at your own risk. If ya start getting spots on yer junk or rashes in the crotch…see yer local Apothecary soonest.

OFFICIAL WORD has come down to us from on high – yes those uppities behind the walls have issued forth a new decree — “Hear ye Hear ye…if you be not a citizen of Talabheim you may be evicted and vacated to the outlying regions by force due to the overcrowding situations in Taalagad. If ye don’t like it, take it up with your local representatives…etc…etc…” The real skinny on this is that our new Lady of Crater…Her grand excellency Countess Elise had a silk maiden cloth stolen right from under our very noses ’ere in Taalagad. Retribution for said small clothes violations is EVICTION! Take that ya dastardly thieves!

On that note tomorrow at precisely noon, sixteen thieves and cut throats will be tried on the Street of Thieves and its dire black cobblestones…before the open air of justice and citizenry. The honorable Judge Trent Gizurgeit presiding! For those new to the stinks…there will be gibbets, whippings, and beheadings galore!

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As for trade news Master Griswold has declared his most excellent trade and tool shop will in fact be closed on the morrow for chamber pot day…so as to avoid the poop steps into his establishment, and the many flies that accompany said processions. Please if you tend a pot, make sure to dump it in the assigned sections of the sewers so to avoid yet another backing up of our sewage systems.

Reporting live from the streets of Taalagad, this Bard is out fer pints.

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Blood

I feel like I’m losing my grip. Twice now I’ve been touched by something greater than myself. The first time it was… spectacular. I was a hero, and everything was exciting and I felt like I could crush mountains under my heel… but… the second time… something else happened. I lost myself to carnage. I was overtaken, and when reality settled back before my eyes, I had done… things. Awful things. To people who didn’t deserve it. I almost killed a man in cold blood. Ripped a chunk of his throat out with my teeth. Flayed people with my bare hands. Organs and bits of flesh coated my face, blood and gore washed down my body. I looked down, and a man was dying in front of me. I did it. I know I did it, even if I wasn’t in control. I did that.

The Sister and my companions helped the man. By all accounts he should have died. He would have, were it not for them. Then, as if performing that miracle had not been enough, they vouched for me. The guards who witnessed the scene did nothing to punish me; I owe much to my cohorts for that, though truly I regret not allowing myself to be taken. It would have been deserved, for what I did to those people… to that man.

In times of rest, I daydream… I daydream that I can taste blood in my mouth, and as I spit, deep crimson splashes below me. It’s horrifying, but… it begins to taste sweet, like honey. Thick honey, welling up under my tongue. I swallow. It fills me, and I can feel my life force begin to boil over. As the fantasy washes over me, I feel myself sinking into it. My eyes glaze over, and I turn to my companions – I think about how fragile they are. Instinctively, I survey their weaknesses, noting which and how many tendons I would need to sever to disable the Elf, laying him prone and watching him attempt to writhe away before breaking his neck under the weight of my foot, or which wrist I would snap first to illicit the most pained shrieks from the harlot before driving my sword through her chest, staring into her eyes as warmth splattered us both. I think about their blood gushing out, my boots and hands and face and fingernails stained red. I turn to the Sister, my eyes black flames, my face smeared as if with war-painted with the insides of my fallen friends. She whimpers and begins to run, but I am upon her. She turns to defend herself in a final act betraying her will to live surpassing her divinity, and I render it a worthless gesture, slashing her throat open, bathing in her vitae.

I am victorious. An ocean of blood washes over me; the sky splits, and thick, inky, honey-sweet red cascades down over me. I look up, open my mouth, and let the blood flow into me.
I am alone in my triumph, and drink of my reward… then set forth to find new offerings worthy of the dark blood-gods that grant me their favor.

As I shake out of this vicious nightmare haunting me even while I am wide awake, I feel nauseous. I say little, out of fear that the tremors in my voice will give away my dark thoughts, or the vomit that would quickly follow might betray how sickened with myself I am and lead to questions I cannot answer truthfully. I am disgusted with myself. Streams of tears pour over my face in the silent moments at night. I pray to whomever will listen that they are enough to wash this darkness out of me. The taste of salt and self-loathing are all that my tongue has known since the incident with the man save those blood-frenzied flights into a twisted fantasy I cannot stop.

Please… I beg of whatever power will take pity upon me.

Help.

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Reservations, and not the restaurant variety...
As much as I dislike being in this Gods-forsaken land of savage barbarism, I must bear in mind that it is a land that has just been scourged by a major Chaos incursion. Aside from daemons, monstrosities, and foul cultists, the insidious effects are the seeds that those Ruinous Powers leave behind. The terribly wonder of witnessed power has led many a being to The Great Deceiver’s alter. But the most difficult to discern and to deal with is the thirst of the Blood God. Who can reliably see the difference between an upright warrior’s zeal and the stirrings of darker blood lusts. The dwarf has disturbed me today. She lost it, and her resultant frenzy had to ripping and tearing with her teeth and bare hands. We helped her victims and I covered for her as best I could, but the doubts remain. Is this the seed of Chaos within her? If so, can she be purged of it?

The human woman, though irritating, shows no such signs, thankfully. The “road crud” the esteemed Shallyan diagnosed her with turned out to be nothing of the sort. The woman was near to losing consciousness from her illness, which I believe to be the same plague we see around us. Once more, though, the light of Hyish served me well. I was able to purge her of her affliction, which should keep us all well for another night. As maddening as she is, she did earn her keep. Her negotiations got us into the city, and by that, I mean smuggled into the city. We have no papers or writs to be present there. So still, we must be wary.

The trip into the city was informative as well. While travelling the smuggler’s tunnels, we chanced on a small band of Skaven. We defeated them handily, but their presence is disturbing. They appeared to be fleeing something when they stumbled on us. And while the presence of rat men in a city on the edge of a plague outbreak would normally be related, I am left to wonder what these were running from. Some of their own kind, perhaps? Or is there something else, even more fell, stirring in the depths of those tunnels?
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Complications...
How do we ever get anything done?

Travelling on a road, you come to a fork: go left and into a giant walled city filled with evil. Go right, almost get your face chewed off by your possessed rabid companion.

How did I get on this road again? Somebody please enlighten me because at this moment, fast talking guards and about to faint from exhaustion as my elf comrade leads away a dazed and blood covered dwarf, I begin to wonder what made me think a life of high crime and adventure would really be so fun.

I really hope Drachlyn is ok…but no time for dark thoughts now, I need to stay strong (and upright) and have my wits about me to get us into this city. Let Solmael tend to Lyn, I know nothing of madness or magic.

I do, however, know of fine looking men, such as the tall drink of water surveying my companions destruction. Or is he more interested in the elf? Something about him doesn’t sit right with me, something in his cold stare…witch hunters.

If there is one thing I hate, it is a handsome man with no sense of humour, and witch hunters are the worst! Women hating, magic hating, life hating, they take so much pleasure in their torture and their revenge and their fires.

Disgusting.

That, or maybe I am just a tad bit insulted that he didn’t return my flirtatious banter.

Either way, I do not like the way he looks in Solmael’s direction. I would hate for his magical walkabout to be cut short by a pyre of wood and a match.


Note to self: be nicer to the elf as he totally saved your ass from dying of magical plague.


Though small, this guide that our host has contracted to lead us furtively into the city has certainly made up for his shortcomings with cologne. I suppose I cannot blame him, this city smells revolting and I would take musk over feces any day of the week.

Not my type though, too short and rat like in countenance, though I can see he is more than happy to flirt and be merry despite the circumstances. Little rats have never bothered me, though I must say how rude to be attacked inside the city walls by overgrown vermin. Disgusting, blind, certainly disease carriers if I ever saw some, these things MUST be related to that malady I had earlier, they must! Something so devious could only have been thought of by something so disgusting.

Dispatching them was a pleasure, though I think Drachlyn took too much from it. She seems…off still. Looking into her eyes is like looking down these dark tunnels, she is far and away.
I suppose I should refrain from teasing her until she is more herself, I would hate to think her not cognizant when she strangles the life out of me, as I am sure she would derive great pleasure from it.


The city at last! I cannot wait to see what treasure it has in store for us, and what possible adventure as well. The evil presence is surely close now, ripe for the undoing and reaping of rewards.

…hopefully we are all in one piece by the end of it.

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Work settles the heart.

I have spent too long without an honest day creating something. Granted it was for free for a man who attempted wholeheartedly to con me out of my money, but fortifying our "benefactor"’s safe-house calmed my nerves more than I had anticipated. I don’t even regret supplying the materials. Something about working, in an honest capacity, with no bloodshed and no mixed motives and no ethical grey areas was soothing. Perhaps, once all of this insanity is complete, the winds of magic cease their howl, the children are safe, and we are all… whatever we desire to be, I will retire to a life of carpentry? Or perhaps metalwork? Or… Hm.

The dark daydreams have largely dissipated. Perhaps they were the result of too much guilt, or too much road-exhaustion, or a combination of the two. At any rate, I have settled back into my own skin, no longer feeling it is on loan to some darker power. I remain wary, but… it has been nice to reaffirm my grip on things. Unfortunately, I have also reaffirmed my grip onto the barely-coherent body of Nor, who has proven even without the full motor function of her tongue to be a nuisance.

No matter. She took care of me; I will do the same.

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye - Proclamation of the Sealing of thar Wizard's Way!

Hear ye, Hear ye citizens of the Free City of Talabheim!

By proclamation of her Excellency Duchess Elise and the Parliament has hereby ordered the gates of the Wizard’s way closed and sealed until further notice!

Due to certain lawless and unhealthy elements outside of our wondrous, clean, vibrant, and loyal city dediced to the Lord of Nature Taal…

Her Excellency wishing to keep peace and bring happiness to all of her subjects makes this decision known!

It will be only for a short time and then we will resume congress with the poor foolish foreigners outside.

Thank ye!

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I'll try anything once.

This city and the people in it! We have met all kinds of people in our travels, but none so amusing as Niklaus. What crazy stuff he has procured, and the wealth of people he knows. Finally, someone who I can relate to and who speaks my language. Through him all our needs have been met: A crossbow for Drachlyn, a place of logging, legit papers at a fair price, and a fence for a couple of the jewels I…found while on our travels.

Really you couldn’t ask for a better connection.

All we have to do is help him get some leaf from some shady doctor guy and we can stay in one of his houses for practically nothing. I mean, yeah, sure I haven’t really actually STOLEN anything in any sort of sneaky, ninja like way in…well, ever. It was more luck than skill but that is no matter! I am sure it won’t be a problem. I just have to go in there, be all smooth, talk him up to his room and then…well, I haven’t quite figured out the rest yet but I am confident I will figure it out.

But first things first! Secure papers and pick up the elf without getting into more trouble. And what trouble there is to be had…sickness everywhere. Begrudgingly, I am happy Solmael is with us. His healing skills are impressive and without him we would surely have starved, been killed, died of plague or all manner of other not so fun things. He is quite handy, though gods know I wouldn’t admit as much to his face. As it is we barely got him out of the quarantined church before things got complicated.

But no matter! Focus, stealing stuff…which makes me wonder, what on earth could be so great about a plant that someone would be willing to give us THAT good of a deal on an APARTMENT for it? I have never smoked myself, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to try it out, see what all the fuss is about? This gentleman is a Doctor after all, how unhealthy could it be?


…I have made a horrible mistake.

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