Faroth: Gabindoor on the Alley Cat

Jon Gabindoor escaped from a mundane life of farming and hired on as a hand on a trading vessel years ago. He learned that a life of honest work was for suckers, his true skills were being strong and playing a poker face that could trick a soft captain. Until he met Captain Binlep Lavalier and crewed on the Alley Cat.

Captain Lavalier sat before him in the captain’s quarters as Jon gripped the gold piece that Lothric gave him to show sincerity of the fight against the orcs. Binlep, one of the few people who could read Lavalier during a game of cards, was not impressed. In fact, was so not impressed he was clearly hiding something. “Jon, I’ve faced off the Jobin’Gahr before, before she was supposed to have bought her chasers…and this was just to get by her when she was harassing Willow island. We had orcs swarming our deck before we were halfway past her.”

And why didn’t he hate orcs? “Cap’t…never have I seen as many of the other unlicensed going against the orcs before! There’s a good chance we’ll win!” But Binlep just gave him a flat look that soured into a frown and brushed his hand in the air, dismissing him. We’re not working for the orcs, are we? 

Faroth: Attacking the Jobin’Gahr

Session 4/8/17 (Sea Battle) from the landlubber Thorfinn’s perspective. Provided by Jesse Pickard.

Thorfinn was glad to be amongst is compatriots. Recent weeks had bonded them all in a short time, yet he was very uneasy about today’s turn of events: they were to take to the sea again and this time to join battle with notorious pirates…Thorfinn shuddered at the thought. He could think of very few places he would less rather be than bobbing around on the the thrice damned ocean let alone in a battle!

Thorfinn, a farmer turned priest of Chauntea, still had deep ties to the land and agriculture. He had never been in water past his chest until the terrible day that he had to flee to Faroth with all the other refugees. The fate of his dear parents still unknown to him. On that panicked voyage he had quickly discovered he had no stomach for sea travel (his stomach had let him know with a burning vengeance) and he had mostly lain in a miserable heap at the bottom of the boat. Coming above deck to see if the fresh air would help his condition only to be driven back below by weakness and nausea.

This subsequent voyage had gone somewhat better but still battled waves of nausea. Now he was heading into battle against notorious pirates and lives would be depending on him…he shuddered again. He boarded the Toothless Skull along with one of his newer companions, Eliza, a capable looking elven fighter. Apparently she was responsible for keeping that elven wizard, Simon, safe–so by proxy that would be one of his tasks as well.

Eliza bounced her two swords against her legs in anticipation. Even though she hailed from the forests of Sing’jar, she seemed at home on the rolling deck. Jealous, Thorfinn sighed to himself and unsteadily walked towards the bow, gripping the railing with each step.

Three craft of about 30 souls each sailed purposefully out of the harbor. The Red Hook and the Swinging Arm escorted them. Had the two other ships been commissioned by the mayor? That little gnome, Bogan, seemed to organize this right in front of Lothric, Eliza, and himself…yet somehow the mayor appeared in charge when they met at the harbor master’s office. Was Hollycrown really was in charge of this, or just good at showing up at the right moment? With all these acrimonious, distrusting sea merchants–somehow this mission unified them. Maybe orcs have that effect on people…

…by Chauntea, that ship is a behemoth! Thorfinn thought, forgetting his nausea, as he gazed across the presently placid waters of Bibbon Bay to the menacing, dark and tattered three-decked galleon in the center of the bay. Cannons lined its dark wood and metal hull. He didn’t need to make out the name Jobin’Gahr…it wasn’t there–the only markings were a crude silhouette of a skull and the orc runes for J and G. As the they drew closer, the hulking ships became hives of activity: sailors sprang up the rigging, cannons were packed and soldiers were mustering on deck…and staring at the orc marines packing the deck of the  Jobin’Gahr–Thorfinn’s nausea returned.

The ships quickly closed the distance: at 200 yards the three ships from Bibbon Bay turned broadside and let loose a volley from their broadsides, and cannon balls screamed towards the Jobin’Gahr! With a satisfying crash they struck the ship and orcish howls filled the air as debris crashed down upon the deck and into the sea. As the smaller and more agile ships turned back towards their target, brilliant bolts of energy streaked towards the galleon and into the horde on deck. More grunting bellows and cursing filled the air. But where one orc fell, seemingly two more would take their place…Thorfinn’s spirits started sinking again. How badly are we outnumbered?

Magic ripped through the air back and forth between the vessels, then another volley of cannon fire! Sailors and soldiers–screaming–fell into the water–or onto the decks. As the ships were about to collide a noxious green cloud of gas settled amongst the orcs. Only coughing and cursing could be heard from them until the cloud was blown away…and paused…and blown again by the sea air. Failed wind spells by the orcs? But its terrible toll was revealed: a pile of bodies…contorted, faces stuck in rictus agony. Thorfinn bent his head and whispered…or tried to, between urges to retch…prayers to Chauntea…our Great Mother…prayers asking for forgiveness for the suffering caused and prayers for the strength of heart to do what must be done.

The ships collided with explosions as their bowsprits splintered against the tin-plated hull of the galleon. The violence threw junior sailors off their feet to the decks, but the leather-skinned pirates that suffered the hate of the orcs cheered fiercely! Quickly overpowering them was the orcish roar coming from the deck of the  Jobin’Gahr. Men, elves and minotaurs from the islands swarmed up the sides of the galleon and onto the decks to take the battle to the pirates.

All…except Thorfinn, Eliza and Simon. Simon, swaddled in what must have been four cloaks and standing between two braziers on the aft deck of the Toothless Skull, was trying to continue his magic assault on the galleon. Thorfinn saw an opportunity to call down a sacred flame on a orc barking orders–but just as he was about to begin his incantation, bile and vomit filled his mouth and he gagged and vomited, his vision blurring… Chauntea, please…not now! He groaned as the sea sickness overtook him again.

As Thorfinn recovered, to his horror he saw three large orcs had jump aboard their ship,  advancing on him! Then two flaming spheres streaked down from the crows nests of the Jobin’Gahr and rolled along the deck towards Simon…so close behind Thorfinn he was convinced his own cloak was on fire! He spun to hear a pain-soaked scream from the aft of the ship as Simon was briefly engulfed…but Simon smartly flung off one of the burning robes to escape. With smoldering hair and scorched skin, Simon groaned but started casting another spell. Spinning…no…swaying…forward, Thorfinn hefted his mace and faced the boarding orcs.

A horrible cacophony filled the air as sailors and soldiers bellowed, screamed, mewled and weapons crashed. Thorfinn’s senses were overwhelmed with the chaos of the battle…but twisting back towards the bow, he saw Eliza battling for her life! He snapped back into action: holy words of life and healing were an effortless response to the jagged wound across her shoulder. Grateful for the Grain Goddess’s power, and seeing  Eliza healed with sacred energy, he shook his mace and loosed a primal howl!

Thorfinn reversed the words of healing into an ugly cant that made his fingers black with necrotic energy, he lept forward and desperately dug his fingers into the face of a broken-toothed orc, tranferring a burst necrotic energy! Twitching and gurgling, the orc fell to the deck, its face blackened and diseased. With swift and efficient sword strokes Eliza felled two orcs that stepped around and their blood slicked the deck.

From the Jobin’Gahr, Thorfinn recognized a familiar voice rising above the battle: his companion, Lothric, called: “Sailors of Bibbon Bay–press them! Forward and cut them down!” Eliza and Thorfinn glanced at each other and saw each other’s fear…but in spite of the dread in their stomachs, they began to scale the hull of the Jobin’Gahr

Faroth: Avo of Knives

One hundred years before the orc’s sacked Sing’jar, the elven tribes of the Sing’jar mountains ruled out to the plains far to the east. The crops were bountiful, and there was feasting every season. Thoughts of the fire giant were distant and dim. Ginndale the Swift, at five hundred years old, decided he would push the eastern border of further to the river of Y’lima. The quest was worthy and fighters from north and south trekked through the mountains to join up.

I was a child, and my father was tempted to join up as well. His friends would stop by our tree and ask if he were going, but I was always at his knee with my wooden play sword pretending to fight orcs. I’m glad he didn’t leave me, and those are my fondest memories. When the crusade to the east left, I remember trumpets playing to send our troops off.

I must have had two birthdays before we heard from them…of them again. A wildfire was set in the fall when the hay was dry, before winter began, and burned many farms on the east side of the mountains. Maybe a dozen families lost their trees and houses. The eastern foothills were black for years. The place where the fire started, there was a burnt wagon with the skeleton of an elf placed with a red sash over its rib cage, with the symbol of a serpent-haired monster.

My uncle told me that story, because he was right next to my father when they both discovered the wagon. The circlet on the skeleton was of Bindle’ti, a young second cousin that went on the crusade. The wagon was filled with elven skulls. The night my father’s patrol found that wagon, they were attacked by a hundred orcs, and he and the rest of the squad, except Feltor, were killed.

Only magic could have masked the scent or sound of that many orcs from an elven patrol. Since then, the orcs reclaimed the eastern foothills and have pushed west almost right through the middle of the mountains. With our best warriors lost, the camps of the Sing’jar elves retracted and became defensive.

I harnessed my anger and hatred and forsook Ehlonnah and all the spirits of the trees and I looked to the stories of Erevan to help me take revenge on the orcs. Down through the east foothills I traveled, constantly sharpening my knives, shadowing the orcs, flaying and torturing them to find which killed my father, and who led them.

In one midnight fight, a Drow priest of Lolth and an unnaturally ageless priest of Sevarash caught me in a magic circle. Playing up my madness, I tried to convince them we were on the same side: full of vengeance, powered by hatred. The priest of Sevarash said, “You lie, green stick of an elf. You love killing orcs, but you are not mad.” And the priest of Lolth said, “We plucked you up in the night, creature of the day. Your hatred is only a folly. If you drip your blood in this circle, you will be bound to powers greater than Ehlonna, and no orc nor man will stand in your way! But you will sacrifice your vengeance forever.” Faced with this dark choice, I rejected it and they released me.

Halfway to the river, I found a huge pit mine, home to a thousand orcs. The whole countryside stank of waste and was littered with corpses of starved and mutilated cattle and humans. This wasteland was an orc’s dream, but on a scale that no elf had ever told stories of. I only made it as far as the edge of the pit mine before some frightening magic  began to hound me…and I fled. Nightmares for two years drove me to the islands. The sight of trees made me break out in a sweat–trees felt like skeletons to my spirit–all my hope drained away for months.

The mountains have no love of me–I’m a bad example. I have no respect of those cowardly elves, either. These islands are full of survivors, and I respect that. So it is quite a surprise to see Simon here. It is time I related my story to Simon, of the dark evils on the east side of the mountains. The young fighter, Eliza, she reminds me too much of my youth and I don’t want her company. This Lothric and his gang…they can be my hammer to flatten more orcs.

Faroth: Bogan of Bibbon Bay Intrigue

You haven’t lived in a good elven town unless you’ve uncovered the juicy gossip that those righteous do-gooders try to cover up. Bogan of Bibbon Bay Intrigue here–have I got some dirt for you, my favorite listeners! It was not actually that big oaf Lothric that planted the bomb on the Jobin’Gahr…he would have made too much noise, right? No, it was this elven fighter, Eliza, from out in the northern Sing’jar mountains that pulled that off. (And she actually paid me to do something!)

Lothric wouldn’t have paid me anything. He just threatens people. That gruesome bugbear that attacked us? Don’t be fooled–he didn’t kill it. The killing blows were from the city guard who speared the beast. Lothric is just a meat head. He gets his way by hitting people: the innkeeper of the Grumpy Goat and his wife drove him and their ragtag band out of their establishment right before they attacked the Jobin’Gahr. He was so mad he punched the innkeeper right in the stomach before he left. Thorfinn actually tried to apologize. Thorfinn’s a nice human.

If I were Cinnitta Holleycrown–I’d watch out. That Lothric fellow is not nice. I’m convinced that he’s going to bring everyone around him a world of hurt!

Faroth: How Lothric Meets Eliza

barrel-head(Still in progress)

Faroth Adventures 2017-04-02 — 4/7

Liam/Lothric and Eloise/Eliza

In the north Sing’jar mountians, elder high elf wizard Simon Blackpine and the camp captain stood on a boulder surveying the burning valley of Sing’jar below. “Feltor,” Simon sighed, “our camp and our tribe are not strong. We are becoming shadowy and scared…we hide when we should command.”

Feltor, captain of the high elf camp, Trap’pyz, grimaced as he looked out onto the rising plumes of smoke that began to level about the elevation of their camp, bending as the wind changed direction with the mountain-top elevation. “Simon, I agree. While we have been repelling these orcs daily for years, they still thrive. Something gives them great strength. We know now that they have been interdicting the iron shipments from Faroth for some time. It would seem they want the resources of Sing’jar bay for themselves. It is a shrewd strategem. No one orc I’ve followed in the east would have the foresight to plan so far ahead. We should anticipate a greater host marching west. I shall stay with my band and patrol our realm, Simon. The islands need to know. They yet offer some hope.

”I will send two strong fighers with you, Simon, you need to warn them.”

“Not for some time have I had the joints or hardiness to walk so far, Feltor…” Simon tried to object, but was met with Feltor’s leveled gaze…unblinking. Simon sighed, and admitted to himself he needed to push himself even at five hundreds years old. He would miss his laboratory in the roots of Y’ntil, the largest Fir on the mountain.

Footsteps, then, “Captain!” announced W’ibnee, an elven ranger in a restrained rush, “We have lost…”, he gasped for breath, held it a second to long…”We have lost your son…Zok.”

“Where was he? Was he on patrol? Didn’t I order him back into camp for his next mission?”

“Sir, I heard he came back to camp in the morning after his shift was half finished. He said he needed food. He dropped off an orc dagger on the table and mentioned something about finding an orc cart. I heard your request moments later, and I traced him up the east road where he patrols. There, I saw a wrecked cart with dead goblins still chained to it. Signs of a bear attack. Zok had tracked them north to cave on the east side of the stream. Tracks all around. We found him, dead in the stream. He had been burned by magical fire and … and by acid. He had seen wounds before that, he probably killed six orcs. There were more dead orcs near the mouth of the cave. G’inday is hauling back his body, sir…so sorry, sir.”

Feltor pulled his gaze up off the ground and leveled his eyes at the ranger W’ibnee. “I…wish he had not been so headstrong. He challenged everyone…including myself. Dark…dark times. I shall tell B’ellahra. Go fetch Eliza to us. Her mission is pressing. Then help G’inday prepare rites for Zok.”

Simon looked out over the valley and his heart sank and for the first time in four hundred hears he was…quite nervous? Actually feeling anxious, in fact. He abruptly forced himself to stop rubbing the mole on the back of his right hand. He was going to rub it raw and that wouldn’t do for traveling—and it sounded like he would only have one traveling companion: Feltor’s niece, Eliza.

* * *

Lothric didn’t mind being a bouncer at the Basalt Fist…the “finest brawling tavern in Bibbon Bay.” There was a big uphill climb to it which denied many of the old villagers from making this their daily pub in the winter. The roads were freezing mud and the winds didn’t stop. After a day, the bar tender of the ‘Fist told Lothric to not open the door to just anyone. They needed to pay for a fighting chip or the cover charge, and stop letting in the damned cold air! The ‘Fist’s owner, Big Man, a glitzed out gnome with turtle shell spectacles, glossy black side burns and braided gold chains all over his shark skin vest and turtle shell boots…was constantly complaining about “the help.” The last bouncer got an knife in the ribs and was hauled off to the tallow pits earlier that week. Yesterday, Cleo the Cleaver was again the cage match champion. She was a monk with a frown as deep as her leap was high. Lotheric presumed she could do a dead vertical leap and grab the bars at the top of the match cage and break someone’s neck with a foot hold on them. Usually, she bounded along the wall of the cage and sank a hardened fist into the opponent’s trachea before they took a second step from the center of the ring when the gong rang.

Tonight was a pretty light night, beginning with two sailors trying to scam past the door fee by saying their amulets showed the account payed for by their ship. No, six silver to get past me guys, and then four silver to get inside…a gold piece will do nicely, fellas. The minotaur and sea elf chalked the fight board as Franky the Fist and Gerald the Genie. Gerald and Macho-X-Three started the first round. Gerald began to levitate (against the rules…NO weapons, NO buffs) and the sprang at each other. Macho didn’t have much of a chance, scoring only one or two points before Gerald flipped him and knocked him out with a body slam.

No one was walking up the bluff road, so Lothric closed the door and sat on a stool to watch the next match: Franky the Fist vs. Harry the Hammer. The Doc, a cracked old cleric who announced the fights and swabbed the canvas, announced Franky as a returning former champion, challenging Harry, another former challenger for the belt. Franky pulled his mug of beer between the ropes and balanced it atop his flat skull between his two oxen horns and walked a proud circle on the canvas—twirling his fists into a blur. The audience loved it! Fist! Fist-fist! They shouted. Franky bobbed his head, caught his mug, drained it, and threw it out of the cage to the bar maid. Harry met him in the middle of the mat. “I’m going to love twisting those horns off, bull head!” Harry grumbled. Fist-bump. Gong!

Right off to a surprising beginning: the Hammer sped forward and collided with Franky right into his groin with his head. Franky fell forward over the dwarf, clutching his abdomen and the Hammer sped to the opposite corner not breaking his stride. Franky’s nose was to the mat but one of his horns had pierced the canvas! He jerked his head back and his horn gave way with a rip, leaving at least a foot sized hole. Spinning around, Franky looked up to find Harry falling right on him from a leap off the stool. They both hit the mat. Franky, rolling to a crouch, spun his fists and leap up, striking Harry right in the chin and sending him sailing into the chain wall. The went at each other madly. Then badly: after two more throw-downs and a thrown stool, Franky landed a falling elbow on the Hammer’s sternum in a body slam off the remaining stool. Gong! Ten points and a beer for the Fist! And a cure serious for our sad dwarf here…K-O!

Franky and Gerald denied the crowd a fight as they worked on the same boat. The were not heckled. Franky flipped a silver to the bar maid over the wall of the cage and she delivered him another beer from between the ropes. He balanced it on his head again and walked a victory circle. “I’m all warmed up, now! Who’s next? Next!” and he caught his tipping mug, took a swig, and hung it on his right horn. “This minotaur is ready for a real fight!” The crowd loved it. The Big Man was collecting in on bets tonight, or not…a Drow in a black linen shirt and black vest with a broken nose and greasy hair appeared to be the shark tonight.

The crowd settled to a murmur as the bar-maid rang her bell three times. In from the the rear door stepped Cleo the Cleaver. “Ooooh.” Was the response as she tossed her cloak on the table and pointed a rigid finger at Franky. You’re on, dough boy! I don’t fight rolly-polly dwarves. She stepped between the ropes and was at the mat in a mere moment. Franky drained his beer, raised a cheer, and tossed his mug over the fence. Gong! Barely a fist bump and she sprang to his left, leaping up to the cage wall and running across two sides of it and launched herself to his right shoulder, attempting an in air choke hold landing on Franky the Fist. Franky fell back to the mat to draw her balance off and they both fell to the mat, and rolled away from each other, eyes locked. She flipped backwards, landed on the stool, lept up to grab the roof of the cage and flung the stool at him with her feet. He flicked it away, but she had swung her feet back to and launched herself in a flying fist strike to his face. Franky was not slow, but didn’t anticipate her momentum well enough. He crossed his arms to catch her outstretched fist but her forehead connected with his snout, spraying blood across the ring! They landed side by side, and Cleo brought her feet up to do a repetitive kick to his solar plexus…that did nothing to phase Franky. Grabbing Cleo by the arm, Franky stood and flung her against the cage wall, scraping gouges along the length of her arm, pinning her hand to the fence with his right horn.

That wasn’t even dirty fighting, but the actions were authentic. Franky must have been easily twice as strong as Cleo, if half as fast. At the Basalt Fist, if the fighting isn’t dirty, you haven’t got your money’s worth. This is the good part of town, you know!

Cleo hung by her pinned hand and swung her knees up to strike Franky in the kidneys, bending the fence out towards the crowd with a shriek of metal. Roaring, Franky flipped left, freeing Cleo, and clutched at the small of his back. Blood flowed down his face and he snorted and sneezed out a baseball sized lump of bloody phlegm on the mat. Growing pools of blood at Cleo’s feet were fed by deep scratches along her shins to her knees. She sprinted at Franky! Franky swung a foot forward with his fist to punch her in the face and she fell…into the hold in the canvas, a blood streaked smear right into the gash left by Franky’s horn. Franky’s fist passed right over her head. With more tearing of canvas, Cleo swing both her feet forward and bounced the canvas below Franky and he slipped backwards, pinning his horn into the fencing. Cleo wrestled herself back up on the mat, and sprinted forward again, fists ready to strike multiple times…and Franky stood and with a shriek of metal, the cage tore open and flapped onto the canvas and started sliding out to the floor. Patrons scooted back from their tables and looked alarmed. Whack-wha-wha-whack! Cleo landed four blows right into Franky’s ribs and he just lifted his arm and slammed her down to the mat. Not before she turned with the blow and tried to sweep kick him. He raised his shin and there was a crack of bone on bone she limply yanked her leg away from his. His hand shot forward unexpectedly…Cleo while reversing her spin pulled him forward of his center of gravity and he fell, wide-eyed, off the mat and crushed a tavern table!

Now we were into foul play. Looks like I’m on duty now, Lothric thought as he pushed forward towards the fight. Franky yelled, surprised to be so unexpectedly thrown and was irrationally angry. He picked up the crushed table and flung it into the ring at Cleo. Lothric launched his fist into Franky’s jaw as Franky swung around from the fling. Cleo dodged the flying table and jumped off the ring and landed on Frany’s back, grabbing him in a choke-hold. Franky’s eyes bulged and his anger rose, about to break himself or Cleo to get free…but Lothric quickly slammed the pommel of his great-sword up into Franky’s face and knocked the minotaur out. Whew! That was close…a raging minotaur would have driven off some business, huh?

* * *

Eliza had admired uncle Feltor since she was a child. Her mother and father seemed to take forever to accept she was worthy of a sword. Day and night, she kept her practice sword near her. After her first broke, she kept the shortened practice sword and with her new longer adult sized practice sword, she learned a two handed technique. As an elven teenager, cleaning armor and sharpening the older elves’ swords, she earned two used elven swords. There was no excuse to wait around the house now…she set out east to find the Trap’pyz base camp. After following the eastern trail, she was herded into camp by ranger G’inday while he patrolled.

Feltor was not amused. “You are a child with sharp sticks. I don’t expect much of you, child. You’ve been jabbing at hay your whole life. I’m busy…don’t pester me.” And Feltor turned his back on Eliza, pointed to a corporal, and the corporal walked over and introduced himself as Y’ntil.

Y’ntil taught Eliza and Zok the paths surrounding Trap’pyz and where the traps to catch orcs were places so she could avoid them. The orcs were felling trees and stealing whatever they could from the area. Zok was eager and always carried his sword out. People were constantly telling him to put it away, but Zok’s reply was, “the orcs are so close–going to kill one any minute now!”

Any minute now was just about accurate: the very next day, in a glade along the eastern path Zok and Eliza spotted a campsite: a smoking fire ring and rabbit bones, a two-person saw and a rotting canvas backpack. Crashing out of the bushes, two orcs ran at them with their swords drawn! Adrenaline flooded Eliza as she drew her two swords and crossed them to block the overhead swing from her attacker. Her arms rang from the ferocity of his blow. Swing his cutlass away with the long sword and jab him in the guts with the short sword. That was too easy, her swords were much sharper than she realized. The orc didn’t appear to register pain, just anger and it swung again. Offhand parry and slash with the long blade. As the orc fell to the ground, Eliza was shocked to see the result of her own strength: that downward slash busted through the collar bone and cut the orcs chest open to the rib cage. It lost blood so quickly it only had time to briefly pant a few times before expiring.

Eliza turned to see Zok sheathing his sword, a dead orc at his feet. He should have wiped his blade before sheathing it. Dried blood isn’t going to come off without effort.She kept a rag in her belt just for wiping down her steel…a holdover from her days assisting the blacksmith. Eliza asked, “Should we return to base camp and tell Y’ntil we killed these orcs?”

“No, let’s go kill some more.” Zok replied. “We’re still on patrol. Our shift isn’t over.” And for the next day, that was all they tried to do…but no more orcs were present. Zok didn’t seem to carry his blade out openly as he did before. His eagerness for blood apparently sated. He carried his bow as he walked now. And the following day, he went on patrol with his bow in his hand.

That was yesterday. The orcs were mostly too far south to drive off…except those in the cave that killed Zok. Smoke still rose from Sing’jar bay as the troops below continued to ravage and burn the city. All the boats that had left the bay with refugees probably already left. Now Simon and Feltor stood beside her. Feltor addressed her, “Eliza, your mission is to protect Simon. You are going to South Faroth island and Simon is going to contact the mayor of Bibbon in order to find a high elf rogue named Avo’ka-o, or Avo. He has connections that will help build a resistance network for the survivors of the attack.

“Stay hidden. Don’t take risks. Simon of course will use magic however he sees fit, but your job is to not go off killing orcs like Zok did.” Feltor snapped his head away and closed his eyes for a few seconds, and appeared to whisper to himself…then he snapped his head back and brushed a tear away with the back of his hand. “You are probably as prepared now as you ever will be. May Elhonna bless your journey and keep you safe.”

* * *

The Doc places a few silver into Lothric’s palm, saying policy is for the Basalt Fist doesn’t allow guests to pass out on premises when closed. Hefting the bulky dwarf, whom Lothric doesn’t have any idea where Harry was borded…just figures drop him off at the next inn. Not really my problem. Nearly sliding down the icy mud in the lane down the bluff to the rest of Bibbon, he approaches the Bucking Donkey inn. The door opens and Gerald the Genie pokes his head out (muttering something about fools) and waves Lothric in and takes Harry…with a wince and a grunt. Lothric closes the door behind him with his heel and heads over to the fireplace in the lobby of the inn. The icy mud is seeping in between his toes and his teeth are clenched with cold. That dwarf must weigh two hundred pounds. Fingers stiff with cold, he frees himself of his boots and just throws them right on the coals…and just places his feet right into the ash in the hearth. He can’t feel the heat yet…but that will come in a minute.

Just as he settles back into the chair, the sound of clothing near him makes him jerk his head: in the dim, Mon’eu-lon has crouched beside him. What is this? “I never pictured you as a bouncer, Lothric. It seems well below your capabilities.” Yes. “Well, you are finally are earning something, I suppose. Me? I just had to eject some human mercenary that thought they could be part of my crew. Found him pocketing a few silver I leave on my captain’s table just for bait. Threw the bastard right into the icy water. Hard to find good people…” Certainly is. “I don’t suppose you’ve re-considered my proposal? An honest and strong arm like your own would take you far on my ship, friend.” Friend? “I do a weekly route between South Faroth and Sing’jar. I ship coal and lumber between here and Faroth. Would you like to know who I was buying coal from yesterday?”

Lothric leaned his head up off the back of the chair and looked squarely at Mon. “Who?”

“Orcs.” Orcs? “Yes. It’s clear why the orc army attacked Sing’jar now. The resources of Sing’jar are too great to pass up. Prices are already twice what they were on my last visit.” Mon-eu’lon leaned forward, “No captain or pirate I know has any love of orcs. The captains on this island are amenable to banding together over nothing less than a threat like them. Would you join me? Help raise the resistance to the orcs?”

“I’m interested.” Lothric answered, “but I’m no sailor.”

“You…would learn much just by being muscle on my boat for one week. I can show you the ports on the islands, point out the big men in the game. You are shrewd, people respect a strong man like you. Pirates on the islands wouldn’t pick a fight with you. Come to my boat if you agree–I’m about to start my route again in two days.”

And with a quiet draft of air, Mon-eu’lon was quietly out the door. What was that smell? His boots were burning! And his feet…hot hot hot! All the hair on my feet gone? Damnit! Lothric jumped up, got his searing hot boots on, and gripping his cloak, was out the door. Damnit, so cold!

A few buildings further and he found the Grumpy Goat. Locked. To cold already to be angry, he drew his dagger and jabbed it into the generous gap of the door jam and lifted up the wooden bar behind the inn’s front door, and slipped in. Picked that trick up from Zendra. And there she was…asleep…maybe…in front of a generous fire looking freshly built in the fireplace. Finding a cot, Lothric…

…woke up to screaming coming from the other side of the window above where he slept. Shooting bolt upright, the room spun. He threw out his hands, one landed on the window sill, and the scene from the street came into focus: figures with scimitars were slashing at fleeing people and a large shadowy figure was climbing out of a large cart. Scimitars…orcs!

Lothric lurched to his feet, gripping his sword by the scabbard. Zendra…gone. Anyone? Thorfin was blinking and sitting up. “Thorfin! We fight!” And out the door he ran…into two orcs. These beasts immediately missed their slashes at him and fell in a second. Metal crashing to the street drew his attention to the cart: the rear of the cart was actually a cage that the door just fell off of. Hunched in the street quickly rose a figure in a pale cloak that in a moment stood eight feet tall. With a furred hand, it plucked a wheel from the wagon and spun it like a disk across the street into the window of the Velvet Curtain, the finest tavern in Bibbon. This dire bugbear quickly loped after his wheel and plunged through the front windows of the tavern after his toy.

Grunting from behind, two more orcs ran up behind Lothric. Thorfin, just coming out of the the ‘Goat, swung his mace and one orc flipped backwards into the icy slush of the lane. Lotheric swung and stood poised as the orc impaled itself on the blade of the great-sword…two feet longer than the scimitar it carried. Flinging the body away, two thick snakes slid out from the tarps covering the cart and slid right across Lothric’s path towards other buildings. Snakes? Huge snakes? …later.

Stepping around the cart, the glow of magic shone from the broken windows of the tavern. Approaching, Lothric saw pirate Sasha directing a spray of light at the dire bugbear, blinding it. The bugbear might not have actually cared, however. It held a table and bench in each hand, effortlessly (and blindly) batting away city guards trying to hack at it with long-swords. Sasha was backed against the wall and the bugbear had her pinned.

“Bugbear, STOP! Bugbear, kill humans in STREET!” Barked Lothric in goblin, hoping that this beast was too stupid to tell what accent of goblin was being spoken.

Miracle! The bugbear stood erect and faced the window, dropping a table from one hand reaching out towards the sunlight. “Hoo-muhn-ss?” it slobbered. Quite dazed by the prismatic spray, it nearly tripped in the window sill as it fumbled out of the tavern the way it had entered. “Kill?”

The bugbear was wearing a cloak fashioned of waxed or oiled canvas, as from a large canvas sail of a very large craft. Streaks on it showed where the slippery surface had rejected sword strikes from the guard. Crude, but surprisingly effective. And probably flammable. “Here! You dumb knuckle dragger! You can’t hit a cow, you turd!” Lothric yelled, drawing attention to himself.

Swinging a fist bigger than a dinner plate, Lothric slid backwards out of the way. Sasha, stepping out of the window, raised her hands to the sky, and with a downward gesture conjured a bright column of fire from the middle of the cloudy sky that landed squarely on the oily beast. “Warm!” it said…and smiled.

Lothric covered his eyes as the oiled cloak lit in a flash. Summoning city guards carrying spears, Lothric directed them to use their spears.  “Too warm!” The bugbear blurted as the hem of his burning cloak dropped away in flaming bits. The rancid smell of burning paraffin and fat was quickly turning into the acrid smell of burning fur. The bugbear was waving its arms around and starting to panic. Lothric would approach but the the amount of heat the fire was giving off was too great…the snow around the best was steaming and bubbling away as burning shreds of the oily cloak fell to the ground.

The guards advanced. One jabbed at the bugbear whom felt the spear, grabbing it reflexively and twisted it away with such casual strength that the guard was swung across the street. The second guard caught his spear into the cloak…his spear already on licking with flame…and tore a huge shred of the cloak off the back of the bugbear. “Hot warm!” Shouted the bugbear with growing alarm.

Time to strike! Lothric jumped with his sword to land in the clavicle gap of the bugbear’s neck and as he descended, the bugbear began to flail its arms, batting him away. He landed on his back in the icy muck. Damnit! Thorfin ran in and smashed the kneecap of the beast before likewise getting tossed aside. Rolling up to a kneel, Lothric slashed across the back of the bugbear’s thigh and his blade bit right through hamstrings.

The beast fell back! Lothric stood and waved the city guards forward. Lothric pierced between the beast’s ribs. and the guards pierced the beast in the abdomen. Blue streaks flew from the broken window and sizzled into the bugbear. Sasha stepped out after her missiles fired. In a few moments the beast lay dead.

Sasha walked over to Lothric and placed a gold piece in his hand. “I owe you a drink for saving my hide back there. That ugly thing had me cornered. Thanks.” As she walked off, her black cloak flapped wildly exposing a black leather satchel strung across her back, holding her black over-sized felted pirate hat to her head to keep the wind from whisking it away.  Lothric considered how he missed an opportunity to deal. If I had any idea she’d trick me out of owing me a favor for her life, I’d have refused to take that coin.

***

The western paths of the mountains led Simon and Eliza to the logging roads. Shame we have to sell our trees to these damned humans…orcs…anyone. The rutted trails lead them to gravel packed roads and then to the most disgusting kind of use of wood: the planked road. Right to the bay that floated hundreds of felled trunks, waiting to be sawed and sold. What waste, why not… Orcs! Patrol of three, to the left. Ducking behind a cart and waiting, the patrol passed. A grunt and a sigh drew Eliza’s attention. Simon was clearly uncomfortable, even dressed in his triple layers of cloak and two hats. Age…or infirmity…was not making travel easy on him. His face was pale. Where Eliza’s nose and ears were pink from the frosty air, Simon’s were white as paper, and his face was more lined than she’d ever seen it. He was tired, an no amount of high elven grace was showing now. Are you going to make it old one?

Street by street, they attempted to walk from shadow to shadow in the aging afternoon. As they approached the harbor, the patrols appeared to be fewer…until they turned a corner that placed them at a road-block. Backing themselves up, Simon waved a bit of mirrored metal in front of Eliza and said, “this lasts only a minute. Walk quickly and quietly.” Looking down at her hands, she could see through herself. She turned the corner, and strictly breathing slow regular breaths, she walked up to the orc on guard at the barricade. There was a gap between the barricades. Calmly, trying to turn sideways so to not bump the wooden saw horses placed in the road, she stepped between the obstacles.

Twisting left, facing her, looking up and sniffing…sniffing more! “Here! I smell elves! Stay sharp! Look for elves!” Time to go…bump. The sawhorse behind her ground a few inches across the snow as she finished stepping past it. Unsheathing his cutlass, the orc lept in her direction and brought his sword slashing down. Swirling, she dodged the strike but now she could see herself!  Oh, that’s bad. She drew steel!

Fear crept along her neck as she parried the blows, watching three other orcs run across the snow to arrest…or kill her. Blue flashes caught the rear orc in the back and it slipped backwards into the street. Well, Simon isn’t dead yet. Her short sword deflected a cutlass and her longsword clattered across the rivets of a helmet. In a few seconds she would be surrounded. But instead…it grew warm!

Orange light ginted in the black eyes of the orc she fought. He blinked and she swung her long blade up and chopped the left arm off the orc, her short sword thrusting up under his sternum a moment later. That orc fell and behind him two more were a step behind, trying to slash down at her! Jabbing her short and long swords out into each of their thighs, they tumbled into the wall of flame behind her and the hides wore became fuel that promptly started cooking them into orc bacon. Time to go!

A gong sounded and then a small bell, then a crude cow horn. Simon stiffly ran towards Eliza and waved his fingers at her, motioning her to tip the barricades over. In a quarter of an hour, they had run along a canal that lead to a logging dock. Loosening it’s ropes, a craft labeled the Silver Pearl was about to push off. Drow were milling around on the pier near it, and they looked perplexed as two cloaked high elves ran towards them. “Hold my hand!” Gasped Simon. And before the puzzled Drow could finish drawing their steel, they rose in the air over their heads and descended onto the main deck of the ship.

Seizing the moment, Simon raised a finger at the sky and flicked salt with his other hand and a gust of wind smacked the sails so quickly the ropes sang, and the Silver Pearl was underway. A gnome with a fur-trimmed and shiny leather cloak and a tooled leather cap on blond hair trotted forward shouting, “I didn’t invite you aboard! Get off my ship!” But a startling flurry of black arrows landing on the deck around them proved that the deal this captain was trying to make wasn’t in his interest. Snapping his mouth shut, the gnome just held out his open palm, awaiting payment. Simon dug somewhere beneath his cloaks and produced a small gold nugget as payment. “Finally…some profit!” shouted the gnome. With some quick flair, Captain Peron Jimdo waved a ringed hand at the docking cleat and the rope untied itself and snaked back to the deck. A flick of a blue wand at the sails with the other hand and a causal foot on a locked chest, the Silver Pearl whisked from the docking slip so fast that everyone grabbed a rail. “To Bibbon bay, then!” Peron shouted!

* * *

Four dead pythons later and a dozen spooked citizens reassured, an elven woman in a fur lined and satin trimmed cloak, a thin silver band tooled in the pattern of holly leaves over a fitted wool balaclava approached Lotheric and Thorfin and lead them out of the street. Stepping out of the wind into an outfitter’s shop, Cinnitta Holleycrown, mayor of Bibbon bay led Lotheric and Thorfin into a conversation, “You have helped defend Bibbon!” she said with a big smile. Waving the owner up to them, “Outfit these men with new cloaks and boots and make them warm against our winds. They set sail soon.”

Ignoring the shop keeper (who was pulling a measuring ribbon out of his pocket) the elven mayor continued, “Where are you staying? I’ll settle up your accounts there. When you’re done here, I have a job for you. Please come to city hall and we’ll talk. Soon, right?” Lothric, looking puzzled, surprised to be given things, pursed his libs and nodded. Mayor Holleycrown turned and walked out the door. In a few minutes, Lothric and Thorfin left the outfitters with nicely lined heavy elven wool cloaks that appeared to simply ignore the wind, and new rabbit lined leggings and boots with nicely riveted dagger pockets and hard leather knees that sat nicely over his chain leggings. The shop keeper even had a boy brush rust off his chainmail while they stood waiting.

Outdoors again, the wind still smacked him in the face. But now the snow didn’t leak into his boots, and for the first time in years he didn’t immediately hunch his shoulders and grimace from cold when the wind gusted. Thorfin chuckled and merely said, “Niiice!” in complete contrast to his typically concerned and selfless clerical mannerisms. Shop keepers were busy sweeping debris and fixing porches with hammers and lumber, a glazier shouted at his helper to not drop the glass and the city gaurds grunted as they hauled the burnt, stinking corpse back into the cart used in the surprise attack. What a mess…but probably a good time to quit that dumb bouncer job at the Basalt Fist, thought Lothric.

Later, Lothric meets mayor Hollycrown in her office. She is introduces him to an tan faced sea elf named Avo who sports a nicely shined leather vest with…cleverly tooled pockets for throwing knives…twelve throwing knives, if Lothric isn’t mistaken. Avo opens the office door and ushers in an aged looking elf with a lumpy cloak that probably hides a menagerie of pockets and blonde high elf woman, two swords over scale armor, who wraps her own cloak over the old elve’s shoulders at they sit. Unusual that such an old elf seems so aged. he seems to shiver even in a warm room.

The mayor stand an gestures, “Here are Eliza and Simon, liasons of the north Sing’jar mountains. They are here to help plan resistance and cooperation…to spread the fight to two fronts against the orcs. Simon has time to help create a bomb. This can be planted on the  Jobin’Gahr, orc warloard Garnog‘s three decked battle galleon, anchored out in the bay. “We need to send a reprisal against the Garnog immediately, to show we’re not helpless. If this magic is played well, we might actually damage the Jobin’Gahr enough to keep it from landing more orcs. Lotheric, you’re here to help as muscle if the orcs see through whatever disguises Simon can come up with.”

And as afternoon turns to evening, Lothric quits being a bouncer, buys some hide armor with Eliza, and they go to the tallow maker, and gain bits of smelly orc fat and darken the armor with fat, charcoal and ash. They now stink, and get on a dingy that rows them to the High Moon, Mon-eu’lon’s frigate. Mon sails them fairly quickly to just outside cannon range of the galleon. Avo, thin, was easily strong enough to row the distance to the galleon. Richley, a young wizard, quietly discussed the plan. Eliza would be invisible, the dingy silenced, and she would climb the ship and haul up the crate of enchanted lamp oil. She would lug it under her cloak to get it below decks.

Eliza was scared. The spell might wear off at any time. He hated smelling like orc. She heard her own footsteps. Finding a staircase, she quietly walked down it and was on the main deck with at least twenty other orcs mostly sitting at tables. The spell is going to wear off any second. I really want to drop this right here and go! Taking a big breath as quietly as she could, Eliza turned away from the stairs and placed the box behind a few barrels of salt pork. Twisting the minute-glass tied to the enchanted barrel, she escaped back to the dingy.

None too soon! As she dropped the last foot into the dingy, There was a flash and a shudder from inside the galleon and orcs started screaming! A ball of flame mushroomed up from the aft hatch. Time to go. As they rowed back, the sun started brightening the horizon. the ship was not sunk. The sails were still furled. A column of smoke drifted into the sky and glowed high above as the first rays of dawn touched it.

When they meet next, three more ships will join the battle later:

  • Captain Lintz Gavali and the Swinging Arm
  • Captain Quinoa Garvy and the Red Hook
  • Captain Brinker Kinlee and the Toothless Skull

And that is where we will begin our next adventure.

Lost street sign gains purpose

Traveling through the desert, one only has to look out your window to find items clobbered and freed by high winds and storms. I found a speed limit sign with not one… But two creases and a cut in it in my father’s reclaimed pile. Ironically, it measured 15mph. A thousand miles away, I regularly bike 15mph. The wind that stole the aluminum off this post was much closer to 60 mph, or the sign was in a flash flood area. Whole railroad ties and telephone poles, and abandoned cabins are victims of flash floods in the mojave desert. 

This lonely piece of metal fpund new purpose by becoming the bracket to guide my parents fence gate wheel. I earnestly hope this is the last time I have to fix it.
I think I measured it three times and cut twice 

Or… 

Did I measure the piece three times and cut twice? 

This thickness of aluminum is still quite brittle, and I had to deal with a tear. I folded part of the tear into a corner. I don’t actually know how long it might last, but if Im lucky, I won’t have to fix it for at least five years.