Sundered Skies

Carry a big stick

::Sim settled in the crow’s nest above the rigging on the way back to Gateway. In a few days they would share with Thomas Hawk the fate of his son Allen. They should probably leave out the part when the demon animated his bones. A father didn’t need to hear about that kind of desecration to his son’s corpse. That memory brought the simian wildling back to the task at hand. keeping a journal. He had endeavored to do so since he had first gained his freedom. When you came from a place that seemingly had no history and allowed no sense of self, a means of logging who you were and where you’d been seemed so much more important::

Journey onto the Raven

After a long time on the ship, too long really, I finally spotted land. A small island that held a tower and a crashed ship. Luckfinder said it appeared to be “The Raven.” That’s the ship Thomas Hawk sent us to find. As we approached, some ape-like creatures began to attack us. It was strange. Normally they’d just run away. Something on the island had made them hostile. But one minute they were throwing rocks at us and the next, boom! They were burning in a pillar of flame. It was kind of hard to see other ape-like creatures suffer a fate like that. It took me back to the port authority weapons research station. We had a lot of incidents like that. One minute, someone you knew was wrenching away on a blast cannon, the next they were spread all over, and not in a pretty way.

Which reminds me, I need to turn this stick into a good and proper spear. The last one blew up. I’ll get to that. First though, I have to tell you about the apes. Boy did they smell. We got into the ship and found that something had filleted the corpses of the sailors or the people who had come looking for them. It was eerie, seeing all sorts of skulls stacked together in a big pile like a trophy. You shouldn’t keep a trophy like that. Somebody knew those people.

There was a path into the hull I found. But it only lead to more trouble. Sometimes when you open a door, you find something good behind it. Some times you find something bad. But you don’t know what’s there if you don’t open the door. This time it was apes. And they were angry. They brought a big brother with them. He was tough and had creepy glowing eyes. I tried to blast him with a bolt from my energy spear, but the spear exploded. I have to remember to check those lead connections a second time. I think something went wrong with the capacitor gear. Thankfully when it blew up nobody was hurt. But I sure felt stupid. I had to run away and hide after the apes smacked me a good one. That cuff to the side of my head caught my ear. It rang the whole battle. It’s hard to concentrate when your ear is ringing in your head like a big bell.

Thankfully, Siraka was able to patch me up. She has some really interesting healing powers. I wonder if she would sit for an examination. I want to take some notes on how she does it. But she seems pretty quiet and I don’t want to bug her. I’ll keep watching and maybe I can figure it out.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the ship. We found another door with a passageway. Ships sure have a lot of those. It would have been nice if the port authority had places like that. Maybe some of us could have hidden during whatever attack wiped it out and someone would have been waiting for me when I got out of the water cell. I don’t even want to think of those even things. Speaking of water, once we got downstairs, through the secret passage, there was a demon. It looked like he had eater or ripped apart one of those glowy-eyed apes. We found a carcass half eaten. That;s where the smell kept coming from. Anyway the demon was holding onto this medallion. It looked like a behemoth flying through some sort of liquid, maybe water. I can’t even imagine why anything would want to swing in water. Don’t they know how easy it is to drown?

When we found the demon, it found us too. Thankfully I found a staff after my spear blew up so I had something to fight with. This demon, it was really gross. It shot out skin layers and used them to animate the dead. It got us a couple times too and I bet if we’d have let it, it might have messed up our head. The demon was tough. But those skeletons just blew up with a feather touch. I’m pretty proud to say I feel like I contributed well even without my gadgets. I picked up that staff and started showing those skeletons they weren’t going to hurt anybody else. Whoever those people had been, I’m sure they would have preferred their corpses getting a little busted up to hurting living folks. I hope they forgive me for scattering their bones all over the place. If not, that’s going to be bad karma.

But at least I’m not Luckfinder. He must have got some god angry with him. He picked up the sigil that was on the demon while we found the gauntlets bearing the mark for the hawk that Thomas said would show us the way to his son. So we beat up Allen’s bones. The good part is he won’t miss them and we’re bringing them home to his Dad. I get distracted thinking about things like that. I need to focus on Luckfinder. I’ve never seen anyone go glow mad before. Light came from that medallion he picked up from the demon and just exploded all over the whole ship.

The this voice told us it was Lightbringer and how it used to be god of something called an ocean. It looks like I have a little more research today. Never heard of that before. But the voice insisted and tried to convey that we were running out of time. Then it gave us a list of stuff to collect. I’ve never heard of any of it, but if a god tells you to find a bunch of stuff you can bet it’s pretty important. The voice told us to go get some artifacts. I’m hoping one of them holds the key to reversing sterility in the Wildlings. I haven’t made any real progress on my research but I’ll keep looking for a way to correct the issue.

So now we have to find this stuff: the “Fuel that Burns in the Queen’s Barge,” the “Armor of Orcbane,” Festival’s Harp (ignored by Lightbringer’s followers), “Hammer of the Damned Dwarf”, and the “Raven Staff.” Apparently we have to find them before the shield falls. I don’t know if this is just a crazy trick by a mad god or a serious affair. I guess that’s the next big thing we all have to decide. Can we find these things or can’t we? I know I’d like to, but I can’t speak for the others.

I still have so much more to learn from them. They have interesting backgrounds and I get the feeling they have a lot of interesting stories to tell. And being with this group certainly beats wandering around on my own. I got stuck in so many ruins. It would be nice to have a little backup now and again.

Anyway what I didn’t mention was that Lightbringer was unlicky in the end. His last medallion exploded in light and forced glow madness on him. He turned into a big ogre. Man you never know how big those guys are until you face them. I learned one really important lesson with my trusty stick taken from the ship’s rubble. Hit them where it counts. When something is that big, you have to find it’s weakest spots and exploit them.

The good news is we’ll get a bounty reward for the giant head. The bad news is that who knows how long that will take. Oh well, one more thing to do in Gateway. I’m really excited to get back. It’ll be nice to get these bones off my conscience and maybe I can find some tool to work on making this stick into a new spear. it would really be something. I’ve already fashioned a knife for the tip but there is plenty left to do.

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The Body before the Head

Today was certainly full of surprises! We were able to return to Gateway to give Thomas the unfortunate news about his son and Luckfinder. It really was sad when he turned into an ogre. For the record, ogres are ugly. And they smell. And they kick hard. My side is still bruised. I think I might start making a habit of taking notes like Shasta. He’s always writing in his little pad. So, here’s my first try: Beware of Ogres.

I also have to be careful of elves. It’s been awhile since I’ve been around them and today I forgot how dangerous they can be. A little girl was crying in the street because she had lost her “pet.” When she started describing her pet, I realized it was a wildling like me and Soraka. I tried to tell the others and high tailed it out of there to hide. Poor Bert must have scared that little girl because she called her dad, who is apparently the richest man in Gateway, and he chased him all through the markets. I tried to slow him down, but Bert fender pretty well for himself. He runs pretty fast for an ugly guy. I got a nifty sword out of the deal too. That mean elf won’t be able to use it to hurt wildlings any more. But people recognize it so I’m going to have to work on it a little. Hopefully, it comes in handy.

Soraka bought a hunting license and we turned in Luckfinder’s head to a really strange guy at the Trade Coucil outpost. He was the one who recognized the sword. I really thought we were in trouble there! But he didn’t really seem to care about anything. He must have been really bored. I can’t imagine who would want to sit behind a desk all day every day in a little place waiting for people to bring you decapitated heads. It’s pretty dark if you think about it.

There were times when I thought that kind of darkness would be too oppressive to manage. Thomas’ family dead, some crazy mean elf hunting us through the city, a wildling gone missing, Tomlin getting sick. It kind of felt like we were cursed! But we had some spare time while waiting to talk with Thomas about what to do with the cargo on the ship. Shasta spent it looking for blood grubs. I’ve never seen any food so gross! And they smelled awful! He seemed pretty happy about the little meal afterwards.

I should probably mention that I found the runaway wildling. It turned out he had managed to free himself and book passage off Gateway. Hopefully he can get somewhere safe. Also, I negotiated a contract with a pair of shop owners to transfer cargo to Heartland. I can’t say I’m pleased about the destination, but these fellas were sure they could do some real good there. Their passion for their work won me over. Though I may have overstepped and promised them the use of a ship that didn’t belong to us.

Well… at least at the time it didn’t. Thankfully Thomas found himself needing a new crew for the Chance, Luckfinder’s ship. Things seemed to turn around pretty quickly. We got a ship, a cargo, and a customer all in one go. After a little negotiating, we arranged an appropriate deal with Thomas and a few contractors to outfit the Chance.

I’ve finally got a workshop! And I was able to build a new spear as we set off on our journey. It’s an awfully long way to Heartland. We had plenty of down time to indulge. And no, I did not blow up the ship! I don’t know why everyone is so worried about that? It can’t be just because my spear blew up the first time I used it. That didn’t even hurt anyone. They shouldn’t be such babies about it. It’s not like anyone minds the unusual stuff Shasta and Soraka can do. I’ll figure out a way to show them how useful science can be.

I learned something else I should probably write down. Chasing mysterious arrows on the waysphere can be dangerous! A few weeks into the travel I saw a second arrow definitely pop up on the waysphere. I didn’t know where it could be pointing but I wasn’t sure it wasn’t directing us to Heartland either. So I steered the ship towards it. It’s not like it was my fault.. you can’t just ignore that sort of thing. I mean, what if it was one of the artifacts the crazy god mentioned? Or just someone who figured out how to send a kind of beacon signal? It could have been important. Well… it wasn’ts. It was bad. Very bad. We traveled for hours before anything happened. I was really worried this was going to be a boring voyage.

But it was not boring. Because out of nowhere a crazy headless guy appeared flying on a big animal that looked like it was leaving ghost flames with every step. He came out of nowhere! It was the scariest thing I’ve seen in a long time. He also through these big orange smiling bombs that exploded all over the deck of the ship. Thankfully nothing caught on fire! We fought him and beat him, but he just disappeared after that and left one of his orange bombs behind. But this one didn’t explode. It kind of looked like an evil vegetable. I’m not sure though, because I only saw real grown vegetables once on a little island in the middle of nowhere while looking for an artifact that was a unique kind of focusing crystal. I haven’t ever eaten so well in my life. I sure wish I remembered where that island was. Oh well.. it’s stuff like that which reminds me to take notes every once in awhile.

In the mean time, we put the evil veggie on the front of the chance and coated it with a sealant to keep it in good shape. Hopefully the deal in Heartland goes well.

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The Underground: it's not just for blood grubs any more.

Day One: We set off once again for adventure! The Chance is outfitted and we have all of our cargo ready to take to the Elven home island, Heartland. I can hardly remember ever being there. I… I think I was in a crate or something. I vaguely recall a city port, some tall elves wearing what looked like wood. And then I was shipped off into the sky to go work in the research facility. I do know that I’m not excited to go back. This is a risky mission. But I feel like for once I have the chance to do some real good for someone else, so I’m excited. I haven’t felt this way since I tricked that miserly old Elf and permanently disabled his distribution control over the city water supply. We’re going to stroll right up to the face of danger and kick him right in his gangly old jubblies!

Day Seven: We are one quarter of the way to Heartland and things have been pretty quiet. No more headless vegetable men trying to start the ship on fire. But we’re running out of things to do. Shasta hasn’t been taking notes and he’s getting a little irritable. Tomlin just talks about ships and sailing. He still won’t talk about why he knows so much, though. He gets grumpy now when I ask. Soraka is making up songs and praying. Bert.. well.. Bert smells. He’s been sick since we left port and we had to confine him. I keep look out. I just wish there was something to look at.

Day Thirty Five: We are a week overdue at our destination. No one wants to talk to each other except Soraka and I. We’re also constantly running low on food, scavenging what we can. I’ve been managing to keep us fed by trolling nets in the sky, but we’re going to need something substantial pretty soon. We don’t know why we aren’t already at Heartland except that sometimes the islands move. People are on edge.

Day Forty Three: Land Ho! Finally something to look at! The only bad part was that we didn’t reach Heartland. This little island though was something of an oasis for us. I scraped some food off the bottom of the island. I bet if I can boil some water I can make some good tea with it! The little island had a little forest but it was NOT filled with little things! Way up in one of the trees we found huge pieces of fruit! They looked so delicious that I had to climb up and get some down for us. Soraka caught them so they would not bruise. Shasta remembered that beneath fruit trees, buried in the muck, blood grubs build colonies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy! He was buried halfway into the ground digging out those nasty smelling critters and gorging himself. I really hope he didn’t bring any aboard the ship. We also found a large nest with some delicious looking eggs. Now something had to lay them. We set a trap to lure and catch the beast. As usual.. it didn’t go as expected. The creature turned out to look like a feathered, flightless skyler. While trying to capture it, we cracked one of its eggs and made it very angry. We put it down rather than let it kill and eat us. Soraka was not at all happy. She would have nothing to do with it. But we were out of food, and hunting this is no different than hunting skyler. I’m getting worried about her. I don’t know how she’s going to survive out here if she isn’t willing to fight for her survival. The good news is that we managed to get enough food from the flightless skyler and the eggs to make it two more weeks! And our ship figurehead got a fancy new hat I made from the skull! The bad news is that now the ship smells like blood grubs. Shasta had one stuck in his teeth. It wriggled. Note Two: Beware of blood grub breath. Naaaaaaaasty! We got back to the skies and sailed on! Today was a great day!

Day Fifty Seven: Pretty much everyone is sick of the song Soraka and I made up. I think Shasta and Tomlin are starting to think about locking us up. But they won’t have to! Because we finally reached Heartland. It took a little while to find out contact. He was some crazy old guy in a backwoods shop filled with stuff even I didn’t know what to do with. When I said what I was supposed to he led us underground again. last time we went underground, it got us gross smelly blood grubs. This time we got locked in a cage. The old guy was real kooky and said we didn’t say the right stuff. We kept telling him over and over that we did and we were here to help but he wouldn’t believe us until Shasta and Tomlin talked him into it. We were able to arrange a trade and deliver out goods as well as the supplies we had brought as an extra bonus from Gateway. Soraka found just the right merchant, he was very honest and helpful! He helped us see the value of our cargo and gave us a new bow! We managed to hire on a couple of more experienced sailors. Hopefully we’ll be able to get back to gateway a little quicker this time. Eight weeks was torture! There was one last complication. When we tried to settle up and leave, our contact on the island, that crazy old man, got us tangled up in a big mess of sympathy. He wants us to bring some passengers with, but these folks, well, frankly, they’re dangerous… and we’re not really equipped to handle passengers aboard the chance. And on top of that, they need to go to the frozen isle… that’s orc territory….

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Life off The Chance: it's a real gamble!

Heartland really is a scary place! There were so many times when I thought as I looked around that an elf was going to pluck me up and ship me off to servitude. I wanted us to get out of there as fast as possible, but because of where we were headed, we needed some supplies. And boy were they expensive! If we keep up at this rate, we’ll never pay off our debt to Thomas Hawk for buying The Chance!

Shasta suggested that if we were going to keep dealing with elves, a little paperwork might make things more friendly all around. So we visited Gareth again with the intention of having him draw up some formal documentation. The old guy was sleeping again, wouldn’t you know it? And somehow his shop was even dirtier than before! I don’t know how he can stand it. He must not have any allergies at all! I wanted to wake him up and I thought a little trick would be fun. I jumped up and yelled at him point blank range. It was hilarious! He flew up and ran screaming right out the door. I was actually worried he wouldn’t come back. But he did, and after waiting so long I thought I was going to go cross-eyed and pass out, he brought us our documentation.

We also had to stop by the navigation hall and pick up some dirt to reach Bridgeways. From what he told me aferward, Tomlin must have made the keeper of the hall very angry. I guess he was this big huge fat guy. I can see how that would be a problem for an elf. Being the one chubby man in a whole city full of tall pretty people. You know… I bet it’s been tough for him. Anyway, he was going to charge Tomlin and Soraka a hefty amount, so they left and sent Bert. It was a good idea. Send the ugly guy to talk with the self conscious fat guy. It kind of sounds like one of those cheap jokes: “So an ugly guy and a fat guy walk into a navigation hall. Fatty says ‘Hey, they’ve got a Pretty good selection here!’ and Ugly says, ‘eh, Slim pickings.’”

Bert god a good deal and Fatty told him if he was heading up to Bridgeways and Canopy it was going to get cold so he should pick up some special environmental suits. We found a fella who sold the suits we needed but he was awfully suspicious of us. I think maybe we took too long debating about the purchase. He needed to relax, we were just concerned over spending nearly all of our money. He offered us a deal to buy in bulk, but started to get upset. Tomlin got impatient. I’m not really sure why but he grabbed five environmental suits and took off running. Well the shopkeeper screamed out Thieves and bolted after him even though Shasta already paid for the purchase. Soraka and Bert had escaped out the door as well and I guess there was this really big chase with guards trying to catch Tomlin and Bert as they ran away holding all the suits. Soraka snuck off her own way. I jumped out the window. I have to admit it was pretty cool of me. I just wish my landing had gone better. I limped through the crowd trying to look as normal as possible. People kinda stared at me though.

We all met up at the ship but there was no Shasta. We thought he must have been caught. It was a good thing he didn’t get nicked. We didn’t have the money to get him out of jail. As it turned out he just sat down and waited for the shop keeper and the constable to come back and talked his way through the whole affair. He said we might even get a deal with that vendor if we came back to Heartland. I really hope we don’t have to, though.

Having everything we needed and the ship full of cargo for Bridgeways, we set sail. We caught a lot of food along the way to keep us going just in case. We saw our first ship in the skies with us. They had a flag with a flame in the center on a green field. We don’t know who they were but they shot at us! Tomlin directed the retreat and we made it safely away.

There were still scary parts to the journey though! The winds around Bridgeways are very loud and strong. We had to lash ourselves to the deck to avoid being pulled off. But the little girl wildling, Roe, walked up on deck and started using the outer railing as a tightrope as if the winds didn’t bother her at all! I’ve never seen anything like it. Shasta got a rope on her belt, but she backflipped off the railing and danced around on deck until we could get her below. I thought she must worship the Lady of the Winds and have Her favor, but she didn’t know for sure. That girl is something else.

Bridgeways is such an amazing place! The bridges all look like individual pieces of art, which makes sense since legend has it the Artificer created the whole place himself. Apparently in 5 weeks they are having a huge festival to the Artificer there! Shasta and I toured around while the rest of the group took care of business. They arranged trading materials to sell off our metal. We’ll have to pick up some books and scrolls for canopy. We’re starting to get the hang of trading across the islands. Everyone met up at a tavern called, The Journey’s End. Apparently four very special bards were playing there. We got to see a bit of their performance and they were incredible! All brightly dressed and telling such wonderful tales through song and music! I would have loved to listen more.

The trouble was, these four folks talked Shasta, Bert and me into playing a dice game. It sounded like fun and I thought if we could win it might be a good way to earn some money. Since we spent just about everything we had in Heartland, it seemed like it was worth a shot. Hehehehe! It really was too. Exactly one shot! I’m just full of good jokes today! I’d say I should write this stuff down, but I already am! Well, our gambling started to go too well in our opponent’s opinion. We caught them cheating! I thought a little threat and the truth might scare them enough to quit playing and we’d all take our money and walk away. But they got defensive and stood to leave. We tried intimidating them and I meant to shoot the dice, I really did. But my aim isn’t perfect and my bullet went through the table and into the cheating lady’s leg! Well her three friends got pretty mad. One of them pulled out a sword. We duked it out with them while Tomlin managed to start a huge bar fight as a distraction. Bert nearly smashed one guy’s leg clean off! After a few seconds we’d knocked them all out and I reclaimed our winnings and their money. That will teach them not to pick on people by cheating and stealing their hard earned money. I also took the sword. I didn’t want them to be bale to hurt anyone out of anger when they woke up. We regrouped away from the bar. It really was too bad we didn’t get to hear those bards finish their story. I feel bad we ruined their performance. Maybe we can apologize to them. You know… I wonder if they might know anything about all the artifacts we’re looking for….

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Nobody Knows da Trouble I Seen.

I thought we had everything under control. Turns out we kicked a skyler nest. The fight inside that bar got big after we left. And the rotten cheater whose leg we wounded ended up dying. I still say it wasn’t our fault. They could have got her a healer. When we sent Soraka to check into the repairs and try to get some information from the bards about the artifacts that were told to us by the mysterious voice from Lightbringer’s medallion, the local militia was already investigating. Those dice cheaters were back again too, fabricating a story that painted us all sorts of ugly. Well I am not ugly! Jerks.

We tried to make plans to leave town before we got caught up in all the scandal but the milita boarded The Chance and took all of us into custody. I couldn’t believe they found me. I had such a great disguise! I must have looked suspiciously dashing in that antlered pumpkinhead! Maybe it needs a paint job to make it less conspicuous. Roe showed us she’s pretty good at painting when she was trying to dress up Tomlin. Maybe she could do it.

So we got carted off to jail. And their jail sucks! You can die for stealing bread! They shove you in a cage and drop you off the side of the islands and tuck you into this crappy little cave that smells like old feet! And the guards were mean! They wouldn’t listen to reason! And I’m pretty sure the one who dragged me the whole way was trying to hit every rock from the Chance to the jail! Jerk.

We had to collect food for three days off the side of the island where we could have fallen to our deaths! But… I will say, there were some pretty nifty things I’m going to have to look into. They had this big metal claw that could pick up the whole cage! And the gears whirred and hummed with that purring sound well oiled machines make. It would be pretty sweet if they could find a way to put a winch on the hand with a big strong cable and shoot that big claw a distance! And there were these spiffy looking boots that helped us climb. They had all sorts of grips along the toes but if you wiggled the right toe, the boot would actually levitate you! I have to find out how to make those! Maybe they’ll sell them and I can take them apart!

While we were out with the cool boots grabbing moss off the island to turn into food, we saw Roe. But.. she wasn’t exactly the same. It was still her but she looked like a spider. and right before our eyes, she turned into a bird and flew away! I had no idea wildlings could do anything like that. She’s got to have some kind of magic about her. I wonder if she’ll let me run some tests! Maybe I could learn something about wildling sterility from her.

They’d haul us back to the cage each night and after three days we finally got a hearing with a judge, Mr. Silly-more or something. It was hard to pronounce. He was really persistent about getting the truth and he had a mean face! So we told him what had really happened, although those rotten dice cheaters were there and tried to convince him otherwise. I think he bought some of it, but he let us go without further harassment. The dice cheaters didn’t look so happy about it. I’m kind of worried they’ll try something. I’ll see what I can find out.

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Mission Improbable
"Bet you never thought we'd actually pull it off!"

Day of Leaving: We finally got off Bridgeways and they didn’t even kick us out! That was pretty lucky considering all the trouble we got ourselves into. The others are blaming me for it, but I don’t get it. I wasn’t the only gambling! And I sure wasn’t the one who broke that woman’s leg in half. It wasn’t my fault we got in jail, but it sure was because of me we only had to spend three days collecting food for the island! They are all acting like I’m a burden as we pull away, so fine, I won’t share my new jokes with them.

A few hours into the journey: I couldn’t help telling these jokes! They make my sides hurt! And with everyone chuckling, they don’t seem so mad at me anymore. I think this joke book is going to come in handy!

A week later: We’re headed up to canopy with a cargo hold full of scrolls and books we purchased from the great library on Bridgeways. I’m excited to see Roe’s new home!

A few weeks later: Roe’s new home has wolves on it. They aren’t nice. They tried to eat us. It’s no wonder she didn’t want to stay there! Soraka hid because she was so afraid. I saved the day, as usual. I don’t know what these guys would do without me! It turns out when a wolf gets electrocuted, it boils from the inside out! It’s really gross! I’m going to write about it! There is this weird gurgle as its limbs start to jerk and make it fall over. Then it shakes and a soft sizzling noise starts just before the eyeball pops out of its head! And the smell is so bad you want to plug your nose! It’s worse that when Shasta comes out of the latrine after eating blood grubs!

But we were able to skin a couple wolves and I have a new hat! I’m adding the pelt to the trophies on our ship too! We dropped off the scared little rabbit wildling who’s name I don’t care to remember. Everywhere he went was wet. Either tears or little trails of pee from being scared all the time. It was icky! He tracked it through my lab! I’m glad he’s gone. Now there is more room to run tests on Roe!

We picked up a load of lumber on our way to the Lower Reach. I won’t miss canopy. The trees and building built right into them were pretty cool, but it wasn’t a very welcoming place.

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Ale to the King, Baby
It's gonna be a hot time in the 'ol skies tonight!

The lower reaches should be called the too hot to breathe reaches! The heat was intense! Sometimes, as we sailed, there were gouts of fire that shot straight up from the flaming skies! Ships that get caught in them are burnt to a crisp! We were lucky we didn’t get caught in any of them. The island where we docked was called Pinecrest. There wasn’t any pine on it. There wasn’t much of anything on it at first glance. It was too hot for anything to grow. I’m still not sure where their food came from but it wasn’t very good. Well, except the mushrooms! There were plenty of caves to keep them cool enough to grow.

We sold out wood and went into town to investigate. Were were sky bound for a long time so we were anxious for some rest, and the sailors we hired along the way were happy to have some shore leave. I went into town to see if there was anything interesting to be found. I’d never been on an island full of just caves before. It turns out there wasn’t much to do besides mine, drink, and gamble.

Boy can dwarves drink! And when they get to drinking they play some crazy gambling games! I tried out a couple of the local brews and things get a little fuzzy after that, but I definitely remember betting a scuzzy looking dwarf I out spit the eyeball of a flightless mini-skyler farther than he could! I had to shove it live into my mouth and chew it , but keep the eyeball intact! Then I had to spit it as far as I could. Whoever won the best two out of three won the bet. I nearly gagged on the last eyeball, but I eeked it out with a cough that sent it rolling at my feet. The big ol’ dwarf swallowed his! I guess I’m a better gambler than I thought! I just keep winning!

While we were enjoying ourselves we picked up some interesting information. Two local breweries held most of the ale rights in this part of the Reach. Lowsmashers and The Wanton Elf. Talking to some locals gave us mixed reviews of both beers. I’d give a great report myself but… wellllllll I don’t really remember what they tasted like. The night got blurry, like I said. I do know that I woke up without any of the gold I wan from winning the eyeball spitting contest! If I ever find out who took it I’m gonna whap ’em right on the noggin!

Tomlin and Soraka got to talking with the owner of the bar. He gave us a contract he said he’d drawn up for the purchase of Lowsmasher breweries. He’d pay us a good chunk of cogs if we could deliver it for him with Lowsmasher’s signature. He sounded like he was just trying to put together a big group of breweries to take over the ale production in the region. At first I thought it was a little shady, but he’s just such a smooth talker you know? It’s hard to suspect a guy who seems such a savvy businessman! We took the contract because we were running short on funds and it seemed to be a straight forward job. We really should learn that nothing is ever so simple.

When we got back to the ship, Bert was gone. He took off. We spent a little time looking but couldn’t find him anywhere. I hope he’s okay. He’s pretty strong so I bet he’d make a good miner. Probably safer for him to break rocks than legs anyway. We were on a schedule so we left without him. Soraka wasn’t too pleased. She still wants to go back, but right now we have important things to take care of. We need to be able to pay our sailors so they don’t go glowmad on us! SO off we head to Lowsmashers.

Trouble is, we aren’t the only ones in the sky. We found a burned out ship. At first we thought it was a fire spout. But when Tomlin got us closer, Roe flew me aboard. I admit, it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done! There is nothing quite like floating through the void with nothing to keep you from falling to your death! The ship was filled with bodies. Why do I always find ships full of bodies? Last time it was skulls! Just once I’d like to find a ship full of tools and fruit and gears and maybe a swing or two. Well this ship had no friendly things, just scores of scorched claw marks that looked like monsters had burned into the wood. No one was left alive so we took their cargo of metal and brought it with us. We could have towed the ship but we would have missed our deadline for delivery on the contract.

There was another ship ruined and sinking in the same condition not too far from where we found the first. There was nothing we could do to salvage that one. And not long after that I spotted a sail on the horizon. As it got closer I could see the whole ship itself was on fire! But this time it was sinking or anything! It was coming straight for us and there were crewman on board who were on fire as well! I’d never imagined anything like it before! I bet those guys don’t have to wear enviro-suites when they go up to the draining sea! They were fast and caught up to us. But luckily our ship is very agile and Tomlin proved that in all that time pirating he picked up a thing or two. Now that he’s a good reformed citizen, he’s becoming a pretty solid pilot!

We fought with the ship and scored a few hits. There were some close calls too. I finally got to try out my new device! The cloud of darkness that surrounded our ship confused the enemy and we outmaneuvered them and sped away. I’d hate to encounter them again though. Hopefully some hunter gets to them first and takes them down. After our battle we hurried to Lowsmasher’s. But it was like jumping out of the boiler and into a lava pit!

Lowsmasher has a big temper! We showed him the contract and told him we were delivering it and he got all angry and told us to get out! But that wasn’t even the worst! His island, which would have made more sense being name Pinecrest than Pinecrest, because it at least had trees and grass, had a river running through it. And that river was what he used to power his mill! I couldn’t keep away from it. I’ll never go into water again! Not after that elf at the research building stuck me in the bath cells! And I nearly fell in because that Lowsmasher guy scared me so bad!

It turned out the owner of the Wanton Elf had never talked to Lowsmasher about any kind of deal so he got us in trouble. It was a pretty mean trick so we considered getting back at him by publicizing his secret ale recipe and using it for the casino Tomlin wants to put on our ship. The good part of the whole things was, when we figured out we weren’t going to get any money from the contract, we offered to sell the metal scrap to Lowsmasher and he gave us a fair price for it. He was actually a pretty straight up guy, if you got past the gruff exterior. I like that he got his hands dirty working with his employees. If we’re around that way again, maybe we can broker another deal.

But before we could do much more, we needed to alert the authorities about the fire demon ship. Lowsmasher told us the nearest authority that could handle that kind of threat was in Deepsky. Looks like we’ve got another stop to make! I wonder what ol’ Thomas Hawk is doing right now? We better work on getting him a payment for the ship. Maybe there will be a reward for information about these fiesty fiery fellas. Hehe, Consonance is so much fun!

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Getting in Deep
"What lies beneath the surface?"

We reached the port at Deepsky Citadel intact with the hope of alerting the local authorities about the flaming demon ship we found in the Lower Reaches. Along the way, though, we discovered we needed a little help. Our graze with the fire ship made us all realize we were not the capable sailors we hoped we were. We had little success damaging the ship and there is still much I have to learn about airships.

I don’t know why first impressions go so badly for us. When we met the dwarf at the harbormaster’s office, I only meant to ingratiate ourselves into the local populace. I mean, after all the time I spent observing and interacting with dwarves at Pinecrest, I thought I had gained a fine understanding of their sense of camraderie. I was very very wrong as it turns out. And that harbor official was about as much fun as sanding a skyler’s butt. I only asked if he wanted to gamble with me spitting skyler eyes and he said I belonged in an elven prison camp! Well I felt justified breaking his nose, let me tell you! He got a fine good wallop. Giving the bad guys what they deserve, that’s what I’m about! Well that and a lot of things. I don’t like to pigeonhole myself. I mean, I have a lot to offer.

I didn’t stick around for it, but I guess Soraka patched things up with the official and got direction to a local bar where we could get something to eat and drink before heading to the admiralty office inside the Deepsky Citadel. I thought maybe the conflict with the offical at the office was a fluke and I was still all worked up to learn about dwarven gambling. Plus so far I’d been pretty good at it. I hit that door right on open and challenged the first person I saw to a game of eyeball spittin’ but it turns out at Deepsky, they bet on basilisks instead. Rotten little creatures if I do say so! Needless to say, one basilisk turned to stone and the other didn’t. Soraka thought it was just “so sad” like she always does when something small gets picked on. You know, I still think it’s weird she doesn’t say that sort of thing when somebody picks on me!

I told her to try healing the lizard and she gave it a shot. I covered it’s eyes because I didn’t want to get turned to stone if it worked. Instead, when she healed it, the dirty little thing bit me! I stormed off to the bar and when Soraka joined me we asked about folks looking for work who were good with a sky ship and had a fair good eye. The bartender directed us to a Dwarf musketeer named Gogol. He was a bit of a secretive type, but he seemed fine enough though we should still give him a test or two. He stuck around with us through a couple meals. I think he must be pretty hard up for cash, he wouldn’t even treat us to a drink. But he did try and look out for me when I was getting in trouble with the citadel guards.

Soraka had apparently got a note of passage into the citadel that specifically did not include me. I just wanted to see inside, I don’t get what the big deal was! But no matter what I did to try and convince them or even sneak past them, they just wouldn’t let me in to see what kinds of interesting artifact the dwarves had placed in their home. Not even a guided tour! To make matters worse, Soraka couldn’t even get the admiral inside to commit any forces without proof of the flaming demons! Like we’d lie about that! Who lies about being attacked by a burning devil ship full of fire creatures!?

So other than a new crewman who’s name is a little tricky to say, we came up pretty empty handed! So I guess we have to find some proof of the fire creatures, then see if we can find Bert, then try to find out more about the artifacts mentioned by the amulet.

Oh! One more thing about our new crewmate… I’m pretty sure he’s completely out of his mind _
I mentioned that an amulet of Lightbringer spoke to us and he claimed that he had used some special device to look into the glow and saw that it was full of tiny creatures! He thinks they make the glow! What a crazy idea! I mean sure, talking amulets might sound weird, but we know that the voice came straight from one of the gods himself, not some mythical tiny creatures. But I guess considering all that, he’ll probably fit in just right around here!

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Gettin' Schooled.
Sim's introduction of the scientific method.

Goal: Enter the Deepsky Citadel inner sanctum.

Hypothesis 1: Guards can be bargained with.

Method 1: Offer to be escorted
Observations: Dwarves are stern.
Conclusion: Dwarves do not like the idea of being “escorts.” Need to re-examine the use of that term.

Method 2: Tell Jokes
Observations: Dwarves like ribald jokes
Conclusion: Sanctum Guards find the idea of letting strangers past their post a joke.

Method 3: Offer kindness in trade
Observations: This is a long and boring process. Must learn the target’s likes/wants/needs to provide them. Involves a subsequent exchange of tasks. Patience is a must. Persuasiveness is important. Dwarves don’t drink on duty.
Conclusion: Let the pretty ones do the talking.

Method 4: Bribery
Observation: Guards respond to bribery with threats of imprisonment.
Conclusion: Wear a helmet. Don’t bribe guards.

Result: Sanctum Guards cannot be bargained with.

Hypothesis 2: Guards can be distracted from their post.

Method 1: Throw a rock across the chamber and sneak past guards.
Observations: Guards don’t care about rocks. They see them quite often
Conlusion: Failure.

Method 2: Use the “Look Away” technique to draw line of sight away from door.
Observations: Guards are trained to look forward and use their peripheral vision. They don’t change their position.
Conclusion: Failure.

Method 3: Send another individual to ask a question and sneak past the guards while they are engaged.
Observations: It only takes one guard to answer a question. The other one has a big pointy stick as a deterrent.
Conclusion: Halberds are pointy.

Method 4: Cause a ruckus to summon guards and sneak past the unattended doorway
Observations: Guards can call for help. Patrols come by the citadel regularly. Despite being underground, the Dwarves, undeterred by stumpy legs, still use stairs.
Conclusion: It hurts to be thrown down a half flight of stairs.

Result: Sanctum guards are not easily distracted.

Hypothesis 3: Stealth will get me past the guards

Method 1: Blend into the wall and sneak behind guards.
Observations: Dwarves watch the backs of their fellow guards. Working in teams offers an advantage to the guards.
Conclusion: Dwarves swear. Sometimes a lot.

Method 2: Procure a disguise.
Observations: It is difficult to hide beneath the robe of a Dwarven councilman. Soraka does not lend out her feathers. Dreadlocks cannot be woven to look enough like Dwarven beards.
Conclusion: Failure.

Method 3: Forge documentation of passage.
Observation: Forgery is an accomplished skill. Must know the full names of people whose documents you intend to forge. Forgery is also a crime.
Conclusion: Escape is a valuable tool to avoid Dwarven patrols.

Method 4: “Act Like you’ve been there before.”
Observation: Dwarven regulations on post duties are very strict.
Conclusion: I should have tried this one first. I was too well known to the guards for them to believe my bluffs.

Result: Dwarves are vigilant against stealth.

Hypothesis 4: Utilize physical prowess and force.

Method 1: Swing from the banners
Observation: Children tattle-tale when you break the rules. There is no where to run from guards when you’re stranded up a banner. Swinging over head of the guards got me past the guards for the first time.
Conclusion: Being stuck under a pile of dwarves is smelly and painful. Next time pay off the tattle-tale.

Method 2: Speed is what we need
Observation: Dwarven soldiers are trained to anticipate enemy movements to compensate for their naturally slow speed.
Conclusion: Shields hurt when you bounce off them. Halberds hurt too when being clotheslined by one.

Method 3: Provoke the guards from their post then use agility to get around.
Observation: Dwarves enjoy insulting one another. They will not leave their post. They will yell insults back.
Conclusion: I am more easily provoked that Sanctum guards. Need to stock up on handkerchiefs. Better for dignity than tears in public.

Method 4: Slingshot over the top using the element of surprise
Observation: I can use my spear to pole vault over the top of Dwarves and run past them. Attempt would have been a success except I left my spear behind. Dwarven guards used it as leverage to bribe me back
Conclusion: Need to develop a method of bringing the spear with me. So close!

Result: I am not properly equipped to outmaneuver Deepsky Citadel Inner Sanctum Guards.

Summary: I have a lot of bumps and bruises and no tour of the facility to show for it, guided or otherwise. Citadel guards are a well organized and well trained organization. Also… I want a dessert. I have owwies.

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The Legend of Trollbattler
Kinslayer will receive no quarter.

Captain’s Log: Sky-date 13.7.301 AF

We are well provisioned, well armed, and well trained. Morale is high, motivation is keen. I have every confidence this mission to eliminate Kinslayer will be a success. I don’t know what drove that Damned traitor to prey on his own people, but I will tolerate it no longer. My only misgiving is this ship of scavenging tag-alongs we have. Realistically, they are just a liability. But I will not sacrifice men or resources to supply or rescue them. At best, they may prove of some use as a distraction and an added pair of guns in the coming battle with Stonesplitter. At worst, perhaps they can carry the message of what transpired here back to our people. It is unlikely Kinslayer will waste any time on them.

I hear a call from above. It seems I shall find out the mettle of our company sooner than I suspected. Kinslayer has come.

Captain Trollbattler

(7.13.301 AF stands for the 13th day of the 7th month 301 years after the War of Fools. We haven’t concocted a method of dating so I used this as a default. The War of Fools was the most recent major event I could find by which time might be defined.)

The following entry is a excerpt from the log of Durg Widehammer, captain of the Rock Jockey, the second ship of the Kinslayer Task Force

By the Factory that Trollbattler can fight! His family has carried a long and honored history and I’ve known his reputation for a stone’s throw, but seeing him sail and sharing the sky with him, well, it’s a damned fine thing! We engaged the Stonepslitter earlier today. Trollbattler charged straight at him and raked his side with a shot without ever exposing himself. The cannon shot left a hole amidship. He climbed straight up the void in a kind of twisting arc I wouldn’t have dared attempt! The Stonesplitter tried to pursue but couldn’t make the incline and came after me instead. Before Kinslayer had a chance to rally his vessel, Trollbattler sailed over the top of him, rotating his ship so that even I could see his whole deck. The men must have been secured at their stations to maintain steady aim at that angle. But he had a full broadside aimed straight down at the decks of the Stonesplitter. Then the glorious blast of gunfire brought four heavy cannons bursting down through the exposed deck of the enemy ship. The powder magazine exploded and nearly blew the ship apart! It was a glorious victory without Kinslayer harming a single dwarf! Songs will be sung about this day for ages to come! And I think I shall encourage Trollbattler to name that maneuver of his after the enemy it slew, the Stone Splitter.

(I took liberty with the names here)

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