Book One: Ordered by Gods
CHAPTER ONE:

Out of Riot's Gate
Cuthberta Eodakarday, Eomoraday & Eofreeday

An account by Thalazzar

The morning mist cleared as Thalazzar and his companions met to discuss their next move. They met in the room shared by Domaldi and Arek, both of whom were recovering still from the wounds suffered the evening before. It was clear that the party would leave Riot's Gate in pursuit of Tallim, but the route was not clear. Crossing Lake Dakar to the town of Goesse and the Saltwater Barrows beyond was one option although the route to the Order was more difficult to traverse and the party might have to backtrack. The gnome was set on traveling to Peppershot to deal with family matters. In an effort to break the impasse, the party divided for the morning to attend to personal issues.

Thalazzar's first objective was gear for the journey and to sell his old leather armour. Now that he had unlocked the mysteries of the magician's defensive aura, he would no longer need the encumbrance. He was happy to see that Grist returned Plake from the Dripping Blade. Of those on Thalazzar's personal list, Whitey had been slain, leaving Rizzlefikit Phil and the Big Dolphin at large. Their time would come.

Plake approached Thalazzar wanting a little "extra" for his help fencing the salvaged goods from the Ombreclair merchant vessel. This struck Thalazzar as a little odd as Plake had not previously made any indication that he had expected anything for the assistance he had given in fencing the Hankuan silk. As the wizard understood that Plake had been through a traumatic evening and his business had suffered, he had left him a 3% commission on the silk more out of sympathy than anything else.

Further, Thalazzar wanted to be rid of the Dream he had taken from the cultist's lair. He wanted little to do with it after the misunderstanding with Domaldi and thought that if Plake could move it, it would be a bonus for him. Thalazzar hid it out of reach in Frankie's room and left a note for Plake saying it and any profits he could make were all his for the taking. It was likely a large chunk of gold to gift the barkeep, but Thalazzar didn't have time to dispose of all of it himself. Plake apparently decided he couldn't dispose of it either as he returned the Dream to the party - to Domaldi of all people - along with his commission on the Hankuan silk. Apparently his near death experience had given him a change in moral leaning. If not for the humour in watching Frankie sputter about Unspoken conspiracies to frame her for Dream dealing, Thalazzar would have been more upset about the gold thrown over the rail of the tram-car. At least Tiberio had had the good sense, yet again, to keep the trust of the wizard and keep quiet.

The good news was that consensus had been reached to venture to the Saltwater Barrows. Tallim was the end-goal but the party decided that they had a duty to the Federation to unlock any mystery that might be found there. To this end they ventured to the port where Thalazzar secured passage for the party on the Lusty Wench, a trading cog crewed by dwarves. The ship seemed sea worthy enough and the dwarves were a welcome breath of normalcy compared to some of his elitist, do-gooder companions. The gods must be trying to teach him humility, thought Thalazzar, to force him to endure the rambling, patronizing nonsense of the dirty beggar.

On their second night of travel, Thalazzar awoke in surprise to see that a foul, scaled fish-creature known as a sahaugin had somehow snuck onboard. Its moist yellow belly glistened in the soft lantern light of the cargo hold as it approached the sleeping companions, a metallic trident in its clawed hand. Domaldi, completely naked save for his tattoos, was awake and valiantly fighting faster than Thalazzar could get out of his cot and grab his staff. Although he was seriously wounded, Domaldi severed the creature's head with one powerful stroke, sending the head rolling amongst the companions and spraying thick black blood in an arc across the hold's ceiling.

It was then that the companions heard the sound of distant battle and saw the moonlight glinting off the weapons of more of the creatures in the far end of the hold. A quick ranged fight ensued with bolts and tridents being flung back and forth in the confined space of the hold. Thalazzar scooped up the severed sahaugin skull and attempted to intimidate the evil creatures to no avail. His inability to use magic at that moment was incredibly frustrating. Unable to close the gap, however, the creatures withdrew to the deck to try a different approach. Thalazzar and his companions followed suit, coming on deck at the base of the Lusty Wench's forecastle.

By moonlight through the soft mist of the evening sea spray, Thalazzar observed the struggle at the far end of the ship where the mighty Arek, who had been on watch, stood alone outmatched by a pair of sahaugin. As he watched, the beggar descended from the crow's nest to join the fray. Unsure what to do with this brave but stinky, unarmed wretch, the creatures wandered away from the heroes towards the centre of the ship. The beggar seemed to strike one from behind causing it to collapse unconscious to the deck near the ship's wheel. The others advanced on the companions at the front of the ship, led by a hulking sahaugin with black stripes across its hide and a huge trident.

Arek, badly wounded but unwilling to let the battle end just yet, pursued the creatures felling one with a hefty blow from his magic hammer Unity. The force of the blow cracked the creature's spine, piercing its vitals with bits of bone and causing it to vomit black blood onto its companion before collapsing to the deck. Leaping over the corpse, Arek continued into the battle eager to exact more revenge for letting them sneak onboard unnoticed. Tiberio and Frankie continued their exchange of fire as the sahaugin crept up the deck. One of the dwarves, Waklaw Thalazzar thought, emerged from the crew quarters fighting for his life. A life that ended quickly with a powerful trident thrust from Black Stripe that pinned the unfortunate drunken dwarf to the deck.

The massive Black Stripe was the first to charge the companions. Tiberio attempted to fell it with an arrow but the creature nimbly dodged it, opened the bard's guard with the butt of his trident, spun, and drove the prongs deep into his stomach. Thalazzar, behind the bard, saw the trident emerge from Tiberio's lower back and was helpless as the man collapsed, bleeding to death (Tiberio's took a moderate critical wound to the chest - DM). Frankie backpedaled, peppering her assailant with crossbow fire to little effect. Thalazzar ascended to the forecastle, readying his staff in case Black Stripe charged. Arek and the beggar charged up the deck with the dwarf felling another sahaugin raider near the Wench's mast leaving only Black Stripe.

With all of its companions slain, Black Stripe was more cautious, fighting off the blows of three of Thalazzar's companions. Seeing an opportunity, Thalazzar bolted to the rear of the ship thinking to escape the conflict and perhaps aid any of the felled dwarves. As he ran, the remaining sahaugin abandoned the fight and dove overboard pursued only by Frankie's iron bolts. Seeing the battle won, the wizard quickly checked to see if any of the dwarves survived. They had not. Hearing his companions approach, Thalazzar quickly surveyed the captain's quarters for anything of value. Seeing little besides the maps, he turned to the fallen dwarves. As his companions joined him, it seemed that one of the dwarves - Urban - was still barely alive. Thalazzar helped tend his wounds as Domaldi used what healing magic he could muster on the dwarf. (Which was none - DM)

Thalazzar leaned against the wall of the captain's cabin as his companions fretted about the dead and dying. While it seemed likely that he would live, it would be unfortunate if Tiberio were lost. Thalazzar had enjoyed his company and song. The most immediate problem was the crewing of the Lusty Wench, as only one badly wounded dwarf remained. They were still a half-day's sail from their destination with no one knowledgeable of a seamanship and some inclement weather on the horizon. Thalazzar snorted thinking to Fagorgitto's equally deadly ambush two weeks ago. At least this time the ship had remained afloat. Dropping anchor would only leave them open to renewed sahaugin attack so all that could be done for the moment was to keep the ship on course. Thalazzar set aside the chaos and groans of the wounded, picked his way through the corpses and strode to the ship's wheel.

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An Account by Domaldi

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