Inked studies I drew from paintings in the Manchester Art Gallery.
This is a replica of my character’s religious necklace I gave our DM Jack as a gift.
I made it so in game my character worshipped our DM as a god so the design is a collection of things that Jack likes.
<Continue reading the journal? Y/N>
We were exhausted as we entered Redstone. This was no poxy town but a fully fledged city. We were assailed by urchins as we walked bedraggled along the streets of the poorer outlying areas. Stoic took it upon himself to grab a bolder member of the group that had tried to pickpocket him. He hoisted him into the air and brought him round into the middle of our group. Lorric, ever the diplomat asked the child where was good inn to stay at. Quite afraid the child told us that the Elvish Slipper was the closest, nicest place where we could lay our weary heads. This elicited a small curt snigger from Beour who later regaled us that an Elvish Slipper was Ériu slang for fanny, I added it to my mental dictionary of bawdy sayings. Lorric gave the lad a piece of silver and we let him go.
Arriving at the Elvish Slipper we could see it was lavishly adorned in a typical Elven style, a mixture of solid building techniques but with the look of nature itself captured within not only the carved facade but the shape used in the construction of the building. Stretching onto the street was a small seating area for patrons of the inn that was covered in grape vines, unfortunately this wasn’t wine season so the branches were bare, despite this the effect was still impressive.
We entered looking rather conspicuous in our armour and being road weary in complexion. The rest of the clientele were a mixture of different races, all soft spoken and could probably best be described as Coxalsters. I joyously rolled up to the bar to ask the elven barman for some grog to help us wind down from the harrowing journey we had just been through. He turned his nose up slightly, dusted off the sleeve of his slightly worn looking yet fashionable second hand jerkin and produced a drinks menu that he assured us would “be to our tastes”. I love messing around with guys like this so ordered the most difficult drink on the menu to make, a Dragonteenie. Whilst I messed with the guy other members of our group were more productive. Jigoku wasted no time in zoning in on a couple of chatty ladies who were very impressed with Flava Dave and after Jigoku showed them Dave’s party trick they were more than willing to furnish him with some snippets of what had been happening in town.
"Oh well there was that dragon! Great huge thing it was, flew right over the city heading West! No one’s seen one on this continent for a hundred years!"
"Yeah we saw that sucka when we was playing polo with Lord Haversham yesterday."
"Oh you know THE Lord Haversham!?"
"uhh, yeah, sure we do, he wasnt to good at polo though, brought a horse into the pool the fool!"
"Oh you must introduce us!"
"Ah, yeah we can get to that so uh he came from the East huh? You know anything about what’s goin on that way?"
"Oh you don’t want to be heading out that way, that’s where that AWFUL Dragonborn doctor came from."
"A Dragonborn doc eh? What’s his deal?"
"Oh you dont want to hear about that uncouth-"
"Well yano, brothas gotta look out for one another, n we Dragonborn are more about dealing punishment than taking it away so ahm curious ladies."
"Well, this doctor keeps coming into town, he was ranting and raving about pox or some such plague but he was chased away."
"Huh, a doctor warnin people about plague? Why’d they wanna chase him out? Sounds like he wants to help."
"Oh well, the thing is that where ever this doctor appears the plague soon follows! So people believe that he is CAUSING the plague!"
Lorric interrupted the conversation at this point to let Jigoku know we had secured a room so the Dragonborn thanked he ladies and took his leave of them. We all headed up to the “Principle Suite” only to find that it was set up in a Czechy style, there was no bed but the middle of the floor comprised what could only be described as a shag pit. Still wary about Susan we moved a cupboard in front of the window and me and Crumplebum II slept next to the door. All this was in vein though as we had a very restful undisturbed sleep. We all awoke the next day feeling refreshed, all that is except Lorric and Beour who it seemed the journey had taken more of a toll on than the rest of us and continued to sleep. We left them a note and gave the inn keep another days rent to let them sleep it off and the rest of us decided to take in the sights of Redstone.
Now Redstone is famous as a city of Corellon, in fact this city contained the Gardens of Corellon, considered to be the centre of all arts for the continent. We decided to split up for the day and go about some errands. I decided I was going to pantomime surviving the dragon attack on our caravan a few days before and see if I could get some kind of compensation. Stoic decided to check out the Temple of the Raven Queen (obviously). Jigoku wanted to check on any streetfighting action and Vanya wanted to go shopping. We decided to reconvene at the Sunset Gate to Corellion’s gardens at, well at sunset. We all set off on our separate ways.
It was during our walk towards the Redstone caravan company that I furnished Crumplebum II with my expert knowledge of THE GRIFT. We grabbed some dirt and ash and smeared it on ourselves, it was important to look the part, but not long after this I spotted a huge library that doubled as a temple to Ioun. I looked at Crumplebum II then looked at the temple, well, it wouldn’t hurt to have a quick peek in this library.
So it was looking dirty and worse for wear we entered into the immaculate bibliotheque of Ioun. Presiding over the silent readers was a very VERY old dwarf lady with a stern look on her face. She seemed very unimpressed with our appearance, but when I asked her about Dutchess Ariana and the necropolis we were heading to her countenance softened. She led us through to the Ancient History section of the library, a quiet area full of dusty tomes. Without a moment of hesitation she withdrew from one of the shelves a book entitled “The Complete History of the Raven Shores Vol 5” She took it over to a reading lectern and opened it up. The book appeared to be in ancient high script, a fact she acknowledged when she asked
"I don’t presume you read ancient high script?"
"Van hont den reuger ayr" which could very well have meant- "But of course milady" in high script, the fact is no one would know since it’s a dead language that no one has spoken for a good few hundred years but she seemed suitably impressed.
She produced a pair of felt gloves made for handling delicate texts and antiquities. She produced another pair to give to me yet I deftly produced my own antiquity grabbers, made of smooth and soft baby seal skin. I omitted to tell her I had killed the little beast myself by drop kicking it in a reaver sport known as far flung furlong, the aim of which was to kick progressively heavier objects further than your opponent. As soon as the gloves were donned I had her enthralled in my learned barbarian charms and she began to guide my gaze to the relevant passages in the book.
Through over descriptive language and bad poetry the book told a tale of the sister of the king of the time, the Dutchess Ariana. That kings bloodline was now gone thanks to the Raventowers who killed off the monarchy in a coup 9000 years ago. Their legacy however lived on through the ages due to the actions of the aforementioned Dutchess. Ariana was a sorceress who had discovered a way to prevent death yet not aging. To complete her immortality she sought out the Ungdom dan Fonten, the fabled fountain that promised to freeze a person’s aging process until they died.
At this point I muttered a quiet curse for myself and made a mental note to apologise for clouting Beour around her head and to ask her more about the vision she had the other day…
She sent out many parties of famous explorers until one headed by the great Evyn Tier, the famed explorer of the shadowlands , apparently found it. Ariana moved her capital city to the location of the fountain where the people prospered in a frozen state of immortality. She decreed that non should sire children, this was the price for their immortality. That immortality was put to the test however when the Dragonborn of Arcosia descended upon the city sealing them in. The use of the word sealing was ambiguous in the translation however as the actual word itself had many different implications. Adorning the next few pages were graphic etchings of the city being attacked by Dragonborn. There was something about them that was niggling at my mind and after staring at them for I while I realised that in the background of all the images was the same oddly shaped mountain. not only that but I recognised it! I rattled my brain and realised that it was the same mountain that was on the map we had procured from the Raven hag in the shit hole town we had come from, the very thing that had started the quest! I tried to ask the dwarf woman about the map but she was clueless, Loric still held it in his pack and without the map my questioning was fruitless! It was then I remembered Crumplebum II had the curious ability to capture people’s likenesses on paper, maybe, just maybe, he could do the same for the map! I handed him a piece of parchment and a quill and asked him to replicate the map from memory. He stared at the parchment for a long while quietly and intently. Suddenly he burst into a flurry of movement, the quill lancing quickly across the parchment, his eidetic memory working in overdrive. Sweat was pouring down his head as he handed the image over, it was exactly the same as Lorric’s map. I patted the panting creature on the head and handed the map to the dwarven lady. Impressed she looked over the map and identified the curious rocky outcrops at the top of the Bay of Teeth to be the selfsame ones in the etchings which placed our objective at the top left of the map. She then went on to mention that the southern section of the map was a very dangerous swamplands and that in the middle of them was the symbol of the ancient Dragonborn city of Mornokesh. This city was once a hub of technology and filled with the finest artificers in the land, there was also a rumour that the city itself could fly but that its location had been lost to time. This could be due she said to the fact that the swamplands on the map where a notorious Sahuagin spawning ground and that those that entered it didn’t live to tell their tale.
Noticing the lengthening shadows coming from the window of the temple I realised it was about time to meet with the others. I thanked the old dwarf and Crumplebum II and we made our way to the Sunset Gate.
Arriving at the gate I was greeted by my three companions. Vanaya’s shopping trip had turned into a thieving trip where she had “procured” several high powered healing potions and had learnt how to open the puzzle box she found on the road.
Jigoku was looking all kinds of messed up enquiring on how he came to be in such a way he told us this-
<Affixed to the journal is a scroll written in what can only be described as a far “funkier” penmanship. Read the scroll? Y/N>
Aight, so Grognak axed yours truly, Jigoku Jones, punchomancer extraordinaire, to fill in some gaps in what went down after we done arrived at Redstone.
The posse split off, some of ‘em went one way, some th’ other, lookin’ for shoes or some shit, but Jigoku Jones struck out lookin’ for the only bargain worth huntin’: buy one asswhuppin’, get one free. Town like Redstone, wasn’t hard t’find what I wuz lookin’ for, a big ole round fightin’ pit in a courtyard off th’ main drag. I found the cat runnin’ the show and put my name on th’ card, then I found a literal cat. Well, a Shifter, anywayz. Called herself Lyra, some kinda bard, and brother, she could work them lute-strings. She wuz cool, an’ she busted out some entrance music. I guess the locals didn’t know too much about glam, but they got the idea, an’ all kindsa improvised signs started showin’ up in th’ crowd while I headed to th’ ring. “Dragon-born 2 kick ass” “Jigoku Jonesin’ for a beatdown” “Jack ‘em Up J.J” You git the idea. I’m sayin’: kind’ve a big deal. Anyway, Jigoku Jones’ rep musta preceded him, cause I got put up against the local champeen, a big shirtless mother, with a silvery beard an’ a big ole coif o’ hair t’match. I din’t catch his name. Jaws Lucas? I ‘unno.
Suddenly, someone rang a cowbell and it was on like Abaddon. Jaws come out swingin’, but I got th’ drop, literally, sweepin’ that fool’s leg, followin’ up with a sweet elbow drop. He got me back though, man. Smacked me square inna snout with a punch like openin’ a magic golden box o’ pain, with ghosts flyin’ out an’ shit. We went back an’ forth, round an’ round, an’ it took my patented Twin Thunders technique ripplin’ his big ole keg-belly t’ kick it up a notch. Lucas got this big ole staff handed him, which is cool I guess, you wan’ play like that. I responded by pullin’ my nunchaku, bustin’ a few moves for the crowd (who wuz goin’ wild at this point, Jones works a crowd, nahmean?). But I guess swagga can only carry you so far, cause that Lucas brought that stick down with three damn fine hits, right in the moneymaker, and it wuz lights out for Missus Jones’ favourite hatchlin’. (I think that’s all Lucas had left, though. If he’d gone for three more hits, they probably woulda been really shitty an’ ruined those first three retroactively. Just sayin’.)
Next thing I remember, I’m comin’ to in some temple with that Lyra girl nearby. She tell me Lucas brought me here, paid for my care, an’ she stuck around for some reason. I guess maybe she got a thing for scaled meat? Ain’t no nevermind, but Jones don’t like no hairs in his throat, feel me? Anyways, she invited me an’ th’ crew to a show tonight. S’ gonna be good, I’m told there’s an open mic. An’ if there ain’t, best believe Jigoku Jones gon’ open that shit up his own self.
<The regular journal continues>
Stoik looked at me impassively as I asked what he’d been up to. There was an awkward silence for a few moments until Vanaya piped up and asked what we wanted to do this night. Jigoku suggested we head to the Crooked Slipper where the bard Lyra he had become acquainted with was playing. After I stopped sniggering I informed the group that cooked slipper was Stoney Shores slang for fanny and we headed to see Lyra’s set.
Upon arriving at the Crooked Slipper we could see it was a very busy night. Knowing how to deal with crowds of Coxalsters I readied myself to wade through them when Jigoku grabbed me.
"Man why you always gotta step like that? The aint doin no harm, just be polite and keep a gods damned lid on the violence. We here because Lyra invited us and she’s a cool chick, don’t go bein that guy!"
Realising I don’t need to be a jerk ALL of the time I dialled down the aggression and we made our way inside. The tavern was a mixture of pub and theatre with a fairly large stage at one end and balconies overlooking the lower floor. It was packed to the gills with the movers and shakers of the city, it seemed obvious that this was the place to be tonight. Jigoku waved to a half-cat woman that was talking to a table of very important looking people. She flashed him a smile and made her excuses to the group and came over to see us. This cat-woman was Lyra the bard and most of the people in the bar had come to see her perform tonight. She introduced herself and enquired about me, it seems that my reputation had proceeded me yet rather than getting stabbed for it I was being flattered by the charming cat-woman. She had written a ballad about me refusing to burn the library of Iss, where I had killed a number of the more spirited members of my crew in single combat to prove my point. She motioned for us to sit down at a table with a fine vantage point of the stage and ordered us grog and food on her tab. She told us she had to go get ready but that she would talk to us after the show and to just order what we wanted.
Now, I don’t like to think of myself as a pessimist. But. If an attractive cat-lady has welcomed in a group of dirty strangers and begun feeding us then it sets my reaver senses a-tingling. I watched her leave into the back stage area but could just make out that she had gone to speak to someone. I honed in on her and watched her mouth, though I am by no means a master I aimed to see if I could read her lips. This is what I gleaned from the conversation-
"-someone needs to let the general know this is happening.
"-a huge embarrassment if it’s not stopped!"
She then patted someone I couldn’t see. She smiled amiably.
"If you go after the doctor I’ll kill you, now don’t come to me with this again."
Alarm bells were ringing all right. I glanced around the room and noticed a table of city watch near us. If they were planted there to catch us then they were doing a good job of blending in, they were well into their cups and laughing heartily. The only odd thing about them was that there dressed in full armour amidst them was an old man, far too aged to be in the watch. I looked at the food and tasted it. It seemed to be ok. Jigoku by this point had noticed that I was being edgy, Stoic deigned to turn his head to me and Vanaya had, rather ungraciously, tucked into the food and helped herself to the grog. I filled them all in on what I had noticed. Vanaya opted to do a bit of recon for us and took Crumplebum II and disappeared into the crowd. She came back moments later with a drawing done by Crumplebum II of a half elf. He had unfashionable hair and no identifying features whatsoever, his eyebrows were slightly odd but really the absence of character was unnerving.
"This is the guy she was talking to!"
"This guy" said Jigoku "Is either so plain cause he inconsequential or cause he some big time bad ass."
Jigoku suggested we play along and try to get Lyra drunk after the show. She seemed a canny one but if we could get her guard down we might be able to get the information we needed out of her. There was little we could do until Lyra joined us later and having scoped out the tavern and seeing nothing untoward we all settled in to having a good time as Lyra’s set began. It was nice to let our guard down slightly, though Vanaya seemed to let hers down a little too much as she downed her sixth tankard.
It was easy to see why Lyra packed this place out. She sang and played wonderfully and included a composition of her own dedicated to and starring a certain handsome raider captain. The room was lively and we all got up to dance. Stoic stood up from his seat and knocked into a young pretty woman who began to flirt with him. I watched as Stoick stood there impassively and , almost imperceptibly I saw the tiniest hint of a smile flashed at the woman, she flushed bright red and passed out into her friend’s arms. I don’t know how the guy does it!
After her set was finished Lyra came down to sit with us. She was in high spirits and we complimented her on her stellar performance. I wasted no time in ordering her a drink and Vanaya, now hideously drunk, took to touching Lyra’s face ever so tenderly and reaffirming how good a friend she was. Jigoku decided now was a great time to rush on stage and demand that most noble of Dragonborn past times, karaoke. He hollared his way through a famous song by the goliath group the rolling rocks. Following his heroic lead I got on stage after him and led the bar in the bawdy sea shanty “Even a Reaver needs Comfey Slippers” Upon my return to the table another round of booze had been ordered. As soon as it turned up Stoic grabbed a flagon of mead and wordlessly slammed it three times onto the table and angled the drink towards Lyra.
"So it’s a drinking contest you want eh big guy? Very well! But we’ll need something more substantial for this!"
She called a bar mate over and ordered a Duellist’s Special. Soon two giant tankards appeared at the table filled to the brim with strong smelling ale. The drink looked ridiculous in Lyra’s hands and indeed she needed both hands to lift it. Stoic grabbed the tankard in one large hand making it look fairly normal in his grip. I brought my hand above my head, nodded to the pair of them and brought it down hard onto the table. The bar erupted into cheers as they chugged the heady brew. Amazingly Lyra, belying her small stature, beat Stoic hands down. The both looked at each other and nodded acknowledging each other’s prowess and constitution as they appeared to be unaffected by the ale.
The crowd hollered “LYRA! LYRA!”
Suddenly one of the large tankards was dropped in front of me and looking across the table I could see that Jigoku had ordered us a special. Never being one to shy away from drink I smiled and nodded to the Dragonborn. We both gripped the tankard by the handle and raised them to our lips. Lyra sprung up and slammed her hand into the middle of the table with a huge smile on her face and we were off! We chugged and chugged the cold and refreshing ale gliding down our throats, we slammed our tankards down at the same moment and glared at one another. The bar fell silent and the patrons looked on. We stood up and fist bumped across the table before flashing each other the Rat Bastards hand sign and the bar once again exploded into cheers.
At this point Vanaya in a drunken stupor challenged Lyra to a drinking contest. Bemused by this blitzed broad challenging her Lyra accepted and easily trounced our resident piss-artist. As they slammed down their tankards Vanaya looked at us and said
"Avenge meeeee" before passing out.
Her heroic suicide attack was not in vain as when we looked at Lyra she seemed well on her way out and wobbled in her chair. It was late and she was adamant after we were kicked out of the bar that we needed to get noodles from a place she knew nearby. Walking through the streets Jigoku began to quiz Lyra on the doctor that he had heard of earlier, the same doctor we suspected she was talking about to the mysterious half elf. She told us that the doctor was a winged white Dragonborn, something of a rarity in this world. After procuring the noodles, which were served in either a giant half oyster shell or conch we found a secluded area of the garden district to sit down.
Lyra chose a spot next to a fountain upon which we propped Vanaya who despite being mostly unconscious had managed to eat all her noodles without spilling a drop. Once settled Lyra continued.
He was in love with a Dragonborn woman who became a cleric of Senine. Not wanting to be parted from her he became a messenger for the order and the two travelled around aiding the sick and injured. During one excursion to a port on the Eastern coast known as Brightcove they discovered that an outbreak of the accursed Red Flux had occurred. Sadly his partner succumbed to the disease. Crushed by the loss of his love he became a doctor and travelled around trying to contain the Flux. He believed that proper irrigation of slum areas would help stem the tide of the plague, he believed this so fervently that on a royal visit to an Eastern town he tried to force an audience with the king himself. This earned him a trip to the dungeons and the choice of death or to join the army and upon choosing to serve in the armed forces he was excommunicated from the Senine order. Now old and broken, he wanders the fringes of Redstone trying to convince the nobility that their city is in danger unless something is done. He had recently been kicked out of the city for rabblerousing again, this was what the ladies from earlier on were talking about.
At this point Vanaya blearily unfolded the image of the half elf and looked at me. Taking the prompt I turned to Lyra.
"Oh uh do you know Dangerous Dave?"
"I’m sorry, who"
"Dangerous Dave, he’s uh, this half-elf guy, quite non descript, has slightly off eyebrows. Sound familiar?"
"Well it’s just that I thought I saw you talking to a half-elf guy, you know, before you went on stage."
"No, I wasnt." She didn’t say this in a curt way, there was no malice in her tone or any hint of anything other than genuine confusion. But looking in her eyes I knew, I knew that she would give us nothing about this man, and that to push her would risk this new friend we had gained.
Jigoku stepped forward at this point and decided upon a bold tactic, pure honesty.
"Look Lyra, we like you, we think you cool. You like us right? And you wouldn’t wanna see anything bad happen to us yeah?"
"Of course not! You guys are great!"
"Well, we headin out East, we got some mad killers on our back and a dragon went and torched the caravan we were on heading this way. Our luck aint great, and anything you can tell us would help a lot."
"You’re heading out to Ariana’s Necropolis aren’t you? You’re the ones with then map!"
"Woah woah woah!" I interjected in at this point. "How do you know we have a map there?"
"Well a little bird told me a bunch of adventurers were heading out East with a map to an undead citadel and they were also hitching a ride on a caravan heading here."
"What the, who have you been talking to."
"Well I’ll tell you that and this too. A dragon didn’t attack your caravan, it was none other than the man I spoke to that burnt it to the ground. I believe he introduced himself to you as Longsword Harry."
Suddenly it clicked. The drugged water from the caravan’s stores must have been Harry!
"But that would mean the dragon was just a coincidence?"
"Yeah, mad isn’t it?"
"Hey is that Longsword mofo still kickin around town? My foot would like to have a word with his ass."
"Sorry but he’s already headed out, he does a circuit between Redstone and the Western towns preying on caravans. He’ll be back here eventually but I don’t know when."
"I’m afraid I haven’t been out East so don’t know what’s out there." she continued "But I can tell you this. That dragon came from the East, it flew right over city. If you’re smart you’ll be prepared for anything heading out there."
Jigoku had obviously taken a shine to Lyra for he turned to her and said “Come with us, you’d be a great ally and would get a fair share of the loot we grab.”
"Ha! I’m afraid cats and swamps don’t mix!"
Something clicked in my brain, I felt myself slowly reach for my axe.
"We never said there was a swamp out that way…"
The rest of the party turned to look at her. She looked momentarily shocked at being caught out but her face softened and she flashed us a smile.
"Ah, you caught me out. I know that map you carry very well. You see the longtooth you spoke to about it is my brother! He’s only really useful for tracing over maps but he does have the uncanny ability of knowing exact distances in any type of cartography."
We relaxed visibly, the tension draining out of the air. We apologised for suspecting her and offered to walk her back to her apartment that wasn’t too far away. She told us that we should head to The Broken Arms for the night, they were close by and reasonably priced, it would save us the long walk back to the Elven Slipper. We thanked Lyra, and I feel I speak for all of the party when I say we were a little sad to see her go and hoped that it wouldn’t be too long until our paths crossed once again.
We followed Lyra’s directions to the Broken Arms. We were all looking forward to a nice night’s rest when Stoic stopped dead in his tracks. Looking down an alley way he uttered one word.
Looking down the alleyway we saw a cloaked figure looming over the still body of a young woman. In the low light of the street lanterns we saw a flash of long teeth.
Jigoku sprung into action launching himself at the creature. He was a blur of strikes, each one perfectly on target except they hit upon nothing. The creature grabbed Jigoku by his gi and slammed him bodily into the wall of the building nearest them. I ordered Crumlebum II to execute a manoeuvre I had talked through with him during our caravan journey which I had affectionately called “Jack in the Grog” He ran up my back and tucked himself safely away in my armour. Stoic thundered forward and brought his warpick about to strike the creature’s head. The monster jumped vertically and landed on the balcony above that overlooked the alleyway, it seemed he was intent on making his escape! It was then that from out of nowhere two arrows thudded into its chest. The vampyre hissed in pain and looking back I could see Vanaya despite being paralytic had managed to loosen an attack at the beast. She swayed from side to side and hiccupped. Whilst the creature reeled in pain I took my opportunity and called to the others-
"The beams! Hit the support beams!"
In unison we thundered our weapons against the wooden support struts for the balcony causing it to cave in on itself. The vampyre howled as it collapsed through to the alley below. It tried to be graceful and suave about it but as it landed daintily on its feet a large chunk of wooden beam poked it in its arse. It howled and Jigoku sniggered. Suddenly its ire was upon him and using some imperceptible deviant power it got into Jigoku’s mind. He suddenly rounded on Stoic and started raining down his furious blows upon his comrade.
The creature opened its jaw wide, far too wide than it should have been able to and loosened a barbed whip like tongue at the unconscious young woman and began to drink her life blood. I barrelled forward and cleft the beast’s tongue. It howled and rounded on me. We began to trade blows but try as I might I couldn’t land a single hit. I was becoming tired with the effort of defending with my shield the myriad of blows that flew at me. I looked back desperately at Vanaya yet she had managed to spill her arrows all over the floor and kept falling over as she tried to pick them up.
Jigoku continued his furious assault against Stoic who was weathering the storm of violence. Suddenly Stoic flexed and brought his tower shield around in a defiant ark that slammed Jigoku backwards. Stunned Jigoku looked up in time to catch Stoic’s mighty gaze. Whatever hold the vampyre had on him was dissolved by that dark glare and in a fit of panic Jigoku began to flee.
Whilst this occurred the monster struck home a blow with its icy talons which pierced my armour and hooked into my flesh. It let out a triumphant noise until I clasped it’s wrist and forced the hand further against my body.
"Now then dickhead!"
Erupting from the back of my armour, through my fur collar wielding his mace came Crumplebum II. He brought the mace down thunderously onto the top of the creatures head causing it to stagger back. I threw my shield to the ground and gripping The Breadmaker with both hands I hefted it above my head and brought it down with all my might into the creature’s collar bone. There was a satisfying crunch as the axe bit deep and stuck fast halfway into the beast’s torso. As I prepared to heave the creature into the wall with my bone-stuck axe there was a give in the resistance and before my eyes the beast turned to smoke and appeared on top of the roof. It began to look at both myself and Stoic with the same gaze it had shot at Jigoku but we were ready, steeling our minds we repelled the psychic attack and I had a little gaze I’d like to give this pale twat. Stoic seemed to read my mind and he took a knee so I could climb onto his shoulders and he raised me up so I could see just over the edge of the roof top.
Now in the sea there isn’t always an axe or harpoon to hand, and unlike on land you have little chance of running from a foe and surviving. It was these factors that led me to create a look so terrifying that it would stop a kraken in its tracks. I call it Tiamat’s Gaze. It was this soul shattering look that had stopped creatures as big as this city itself that I affixed on this wretched abomination. It crumbled beneath my gaze, soiled itself and, turning to vapour, vanished with a look of terror on its face.
Exahusted and bloodied we collapsed into the ally, my ultimate bluff had thankfully paid off Sheepishly Jigoku came around the corner and apologised profusely for “Givin us a whoopin” We told him it was fine and Stoic attended to the young woman on the floor. She was thankfully alive and after retrieving Vanaya from the floor, who had by this point fallen asleep, we escorted the girl back home before making our way to The Broken Arms and a well deserved rest.
<To be continued…>
Evolution of a character I’ve been working on over the past week. I feel I’m getting closer to what I want my stuff to look like.
I got close to the end of my sketchbook so decided to kill it with a burst of drawing. Here’s me pushing some designs and working from people I saw on the train the other day.
So in the build up to starting my webcomic I’ve been mulling over a few things said by Andrew Ross Maclean and Dave Rapoza concerning style and motivations behind work. I’ve also been evaluating the artists who I like and what kind of art excites me.
I’m excited about starting this new project as it will be the first sword and sorcery comic I’ll have done. On the other hand committing to a webcomic is (and rightfully should be) quite daunting and the last thing I want is to grow tired of it.
With this in mind I’ve been sketching in my spare time to find way of drawing that is a little easier to handle, and one that I like more, since I’ll hopefully producing a large volume of work. Here are the results so far, you can see the comparisons between the earlier versions of these characters-
I think I’m getting there, I’m liking the more shape based stripped down characters, I just need to flex my drawing muscles a bit more and keep sketching!
<Continue reading the journal? Y/N>
It is by the lantern of an inn I write this entry. It has been a harrowing few days plagued with enchanted beasts and in party fighting as well as the reappearance of an old enemy who is proving to be a troubling foe.
We were in high spirits in whatever nameless town we were in. We all had our magical gear, I of course had my sweet neckerchief of poison resistance, Lorric had a blue lined cloak that defended him from the cold, Jigoku sported a fly short cape that absorbed an amount of damaged, Vanaya had a yellow scarf of lighting resistance and sweet innocent Beour opted for multicoloured undergarments of fire and psychic resistance. She decided she didn’t want to share an extra silk with Stoic as he had prevented her on her fool’s errand of using the crown we found to revive Rathbone’s head.
Sufficiently pleased with our new accessories we decided to take a look at a map that was given to Lorric by the high priestess of the Raven Queen, a sour faced old bag who both Lorric and Stoic revered. She proved massively unhelpful but directed us to a small seeker who could help us. The seeker again yielded limited information but was a half dog creature so I took a liking to him. I finally got a proper look at the map and realised that against all odds I recognised the area it showed.
It was a terrible place known as The Bay of Teeth, so named because of the horrific ship destroying rocks that surrounded it.
I had travelled there many years ago. I was being harried by an imperial navy, from which empire I can’t quite recall, and was forced to lose them amongst those treacherous rocks. For three days and nights we weaved between the spires of rock before loosing ourselves from the bay’s jaws, leaving our pursuers to the sirens and merfolk.
The bay was far off to the East, maybe 2 or 3 months travel. Given our group’s track record of ineptitude it wasn’t a trip I was much looking forward to. I clasped my Yaku amulet and prayed for a sign that would help us figure out a way to get there that hopefully wouldn’t get us killed. At that moment Crumplebum II cried out as a large horse took a crap on his head.
After I finished laughing I looked and saw that the horse belonged to a group of caravanners who were heading to this town’s outpost of the RedStone Caravan company also known as Red over Red. After a confab with the group we decided hitching with a caravan as mercenaries and riding it as far East as we could would be our best option.
Eager to make a good grift I took Stoic over with me to negotiate with some of the caravanners. We chose the biggest gaudiest looking caravan, a large gilt lined thing full to the brim with peacocks. We found the caravan leader arguing with the driver of the peacock wagon. He was demanding to know why the caravan was so late setting off to which the driver was saying the wheel had been damaged. Next to the wheel was a wainwright who was obviously blaggin the caravan leader on how much wheel repairs were going to cost. The wheel looked fine and smelling a very obvious con I took that as my cue to offer our services.
"You sir look like someone in need of some no nonsense hard working folks to command this vessel! You won’t be getting anywhere fast with this bunch of riff raff!" I motioned to the driver and wainwright who were about to object before they noticed the man mountain of Stoic stood behind me.
"Well" said the caravan leader "You er, certainly look like a bunch that can handle yourselves…"
I took this a cue and nudged Stoic in the ribs, he grunted and began to lift the cart. The wheels left the floor and I heard a sickening crunch emanate from Stoic’s back.
He turned to me his face impassive
yet a single thin tear ran down his cheek
and he released the cart and hobbled off.
The leader, driver and wainwright all looked at me, I could feel I was losing the crowd. Suddenly Jigoku appeared from out of nowhere, he was on top of the cart and grabbed the driver by the scruff of his neck. He hoisted the man up so his feet were dangling and proceeded to administer a flick to the man’s nose. His nose brutally crumpled under the ludicrously powerful flick and the driver was knocked out cold. Jigoku proceeded to wave the unconscious man at the wainwright and said
"How long that wheel gonna be?"
"It’s done" the wainwiright said raising his arms and backing away from the cart.
Impressed with how we handled the situation the caravan leader hired us on the spot. We were to deliver the peacocks to RedStone which was a few days travel east. Though the distance wasn’t as far as we would have liked the pay for the work was fine and as Lorric pointed out we could easily find more work at the headquarters of the caravan company that could get us closer to our destination. We were pretty chuffed until the caravan leader said-
"So which one of you has experience driving a cart?"
We all looked at each other until Jigoku stepped up once again and said
"Baby, Jigoku Jones has a PHD in Drive Cool"
The caravan leader looked impressed at this, though I feel that he didn’t know what it meant, and presently walked off. We secured some food from stores and a cross bow which I gave to Crumplebum II. He was riding on the caravan with Jigoku who had taken an instant liking to the birds. The rest of us took our places amongst the caravans and we soon set off.
This was the first day of the journey and it began slowly. Lorric spent his time talking to a tiresome ironmonger who imparted “wisdom” upon him. Jigoku spent the day teaching Crumplebum II an old dragon-man song along the lines of-
"Who’s the Brown Dragon-Man,
Drivin’ this here Caravan”
"Yer daaamn right"
I must admit this was amusing to watch since Crumplebum II can’t speak a word of the common tongue and his parroting of the large dragon-man was even enough to elicit a smirk from Stoic. I took some time out to get to know the other mercenaries, most were pretty standard however there was one dashing character wielding a long sword, I believe his name was Terry Longsword.
As the caravans were getting ready to pull in for the night we spied that most treacherous of mystical creatures, a Unicorn. Before any of us could speak Beour had ran and dived on the unicorn’s back. We all held our breath as the unicorn turned to look at her and admonished her for her rude behaviour. This seemed to go over Beour’s head as she seemed vastly more engrossed in the fact that the creature could speak. Lorric was toying with the idea of harvesting the creature’s blood when we bundled him to one side and politely let him know that these equine horrors are remarkably tough to kill. This one particular unicorn had decided it really didn’t like the fact that the road had been built along its path. I offered to piggyback it across the road however it was a stuck-up creature and wanted us to get rid of the road so it could cross. We banded together and successfully created a convincing looking forest path across the road, we got so into it we decided to add a babbling brook too! The unicorn was happy and introduced itself as Eio. Before it could canter off in to the forest Vanaya and Beour got Crumplbum II to do a selfie etching of them all together.
We settled the wagons into a circle and relaxed. Jigoku spent his time entertaining the other caravanners at the campfire. Worried about an attack I employed an old sailors trick of using an eye patch to preserve night vision in one eye and I put a bucket over Crumplebum II’s head to ensure he had a sound sleep.
That night was mercifully uneventful and Lorric took first watch.
When we awoke it was raining so I decided to puncture some holes in the bucket I put over Crumplebum II’s head so he could see out of it and keep the rain off him.
Part way through the day through the thick rain we were attacked. Three stones hit Lorric in the side of his head taking him down. We all looked in the direction of the throw and there in the tree lines was a familiar figure.
The halfling that had escaped our clutches on the way to Rathbone’s cave, the one known as Lazy Susan. She gestured that she was keeping her eye on us then bailed out of the tree.
Quick as a flash Vanaya was up and loosed a shot into that dense underbrush. Her arrow seemed to dance between the trees and sunk into Susan’s shoulder. She raised her middle finger and disappeared.
"Chew on that then ya fukin MEFF!" Vanaya called after her.
The rest of the day was slow. Stoic tended Lorric’s wounds and on the night Crumplebum II and myself took the watch.
The next day the rain had stopped. This allowed us, around noonish, to smell the unmistakable stench of a burnt village or hamlet in the air. Sure enough as we rounded a corner the caravans arrived at the smouldering remains of a small farming hamlet. Never ones to pass up on some looting we all departed the caravan and headed off into the houses. Vanaya was the only one who found anything of worth. A small puzzle box that we all scrutinised and took to be some kind of adult’s safe box. Shaking it revealed something was indeed inside and the group took to trying to solve it.
There was that unmistakable sound in my ears, the tocking of dice rolling and I had an ominous feeling that somewhere Yaku was busy rolling his dice of fate. I began to get agitated and stressed that we should leave the box for another time and get moving. It was Lorric that pointed out we had been away from the caravan from sometime and suddenly we all panicked. Running back to the caravan we found a smouldering wreck. Jigoku looked into the distance and shouted
"Biiiiug motha fukkin wing!"
We all hit full brown alert.
From Jigoku’s description it was a rather large and possibly old dragon that had attacked the hamlet and the caravan. The group decided that right then was the best time to pow-wow and look for supplies. I decided to run the fuck way from the place that had been hit twice by a giant dragon and Jigoku joined me. We hunkered down in tree cover until the rest of the group got their shit together and we headed out keeping the road in view yet in cover. We heard a rustling in the area before us. We all cautiously walked forward and peered through the shrubs to see… a peacock! One of the creatures had managed to survive the flaming death that visited the caravans. Jigoku stepped forward and slowly coaxed the bird towards him with food from his adventurer’s kit. The creature was soon eating out of his hand and then climbed up onto his shoulder! He proudly announced that he had a new familiar and from this moment on we should call the bird “Flava Dave”.
That night Beour took watch and in the morning we awoke to find a bunch of our equipment had been stolen. Looking around we realised that small tracks had been left that were soon identified as halfling and were a good few hours old. We knew it was Susan, but how had she managed to sneak into the camp when we left our most able night visioned member on guard. Quizzing her she was adamant that she didn’t remember anything unusual from the nights watch. Lorric has had a real stick up his arse about Beour, ever since that man’s leg exploded at the Rat Bastard pub all those weeks ago, and this time was no exception. He kept insisting that Beour had aided the thief to the point she began to cry. We all felt very bad for her and also felt Lorric was a bit of a jerk
"But! I mean! COME ON! HOW IS SHE NOT INVOLVED!?"
We shook our heads “Not cool man”
Through all of Lorric’s finger pointing Vanaya had been testing our water supply and discovered it to be drugged. The water was from the caravan’s supply which meant someone had been attempting to drug the entire caravan. This seemed to shut Lorric up and he moodily quietened down.
Concerned that we had a homicidal halfling coming after us and that there was still a big fucking dragon knocking about I stressed that we could sort all this shit out over a nice pint at RedStone if we got a fucking wiggle on! We made haste through the forest and soon the acrid smell of town hung in the air. It had grown dark by this point but we decided to not rest, we didn’t want to chance another run in with Susan so we force marched until morning. As the dawn broke we saw the town and soon the trees grew sparser until there just on the edge of the tree line we saw our equipment propped up against a large oak. Well aware we were walking into a trap the group began to converse when suddenly Beour stood up with an ashen hue to her face. She claimed to see a crone beckoning her, promising to take her to the fabled fountain of youth. I promptly clouted her round the back of the head and asked her if she though now was the best bloody time for having having daft visions pertaining to a quest.
Tired of this shit by now Lorric hefted a stick at the equipment which set off a large bear trap that slammed to. The trap however was a cheap Lysindan model and as it set off one of the springs ruptured sending a shard of metal racing across Lorric’s cheek. Satisfied that there were no other traps we grabbed our gear and broke from the tree line. As he entered into the open Jigoku spun round and hurled a huge blast of fire into the woods behind us, just in case we were being followed. As he turned to us the trees behind him ignited and Flava Dave opened his tail in a dramatic manner.
Quite content we had seen the coolest thing we were going to see on this trip and being hungry, tired and absolutely parched we ran into the relative safety of the town of RedStone ready to recuperate and to think of how we were going to tell the caravan company that we’d lost their wagons…
<To be continued…>
My super talented girlfriend Katie Hanratty went and made these awesome D&D player counters for us!
From left to right-
Crumplebum the Second- Newly acquired goblin squire of Grognak!
Grognak!- Raider of the Stoney Shores
Vanaya- Ex member of the Honey Badgers of the Wirreldown.
If you want to see more of her stuff check out her Pinterest!- http://www.pinterest.com/katiehanratty/my-work/
<Continue reading the journal? Y/N>
As days go today was a slow one. Not that I didn’t need a rest! In the space of two days I’d formed a gang, killed some half-men, fallen into a river and been pummelled by rocks, fallen off a waterfall, met a group of oddballs and killed a bunch of drakes. Yes, I have seen some sights.
So it was that I suggested to Vanaya that we should ditch Team Question Mark, lay low and wait for Team Rat Bastard to get here. We offered to go grab some medium quality wine and ducked out laughing all the way, that was until we realised that somehow the hulking goliath I had dubbed Stoic Manface had joined us. Since he flat out refused to talk I figured he found us more entertaining or at let more questionable than Team Question Mark and wanted to keep an eye on us.
We retired to some rinky-dink pub on the outskirts of town nearest the forest. If I know a group of inexperienced adventurers going to kill some huge bandit leader they couldn’t resist a victory bevvy afterwards.
Sure enough after a couple of rounds of ale the Bastards made an appearance brandishing the giant bloody head of Rathbone! Lorric looked inordinately pleased with himself and couldn’t wait to regale me with the heroic deeds of the Rat Bastards, I really couldn’t be arsed transcribing it though so I just stole this page out of his papers-
Excerpts from the Pious record of Lorric Shortstep, Humble Cleric of the Raven Queen.
Peace is hard to come by, and the trials of devotion are unending.
Today I am at peace, and reminded that the words of my mantra have never rung so true. I sit writing now in the comfort of a well provided inn, surrounded by the hum of a modest town made more from trade and its associated prosperity. I am refreshed from devotions at the local Temple, Her home our sanctuary, fed and in enough ale to relax and recount the journey that brought me here.
Leaving the ‘Rat Bastard’ in high spirits, our group was quickly attacked, victorious and sundered anew with a careless misstep and a swollen river. Grognak and our exceptional archer Vanaya were swept from sight before any aid could be offered, leaving us with little choice to but carry on without them. The self same river caused us as much trouble when the Dragon-born Jigoku stumbled amongst the rocks and dumped our erstwhile captive into the torrent. Gravely injured as he was I can only imagine that he died shortly after (even for a Halfling… Shortly… That’s right sucka - Jigoku, included verbatim under threat of more ‘karaoke’). It would seem that the outlaw was never meant to have survived our encounter, despite our best efforts. Such is Her will, the hand that guides fate.
We were then three: myself, the monk and the murderer. We saw the lighted entrance to Rathbone’s lair ahead and made steady progress, unhindered by the terrain or traps, having elicited all the information needed from the now flotsam bandit. The cave was uninspiring and plenty dark, the torches discarded to give us the element of surprise. While we knew where the dangers of the cavern lay, we knew not what to expect from the occupant within. From the depths shone a warming light, inviting us to delve deeper and spy upon the riches that were beyond what any of us had thought possible. Tapestries of the highest quality, exquisite crystal, jewellery and gold abundant over shadowed by a great work of art and a greater presence still in the girth of Rathbone. Rarely have I seen such a figure, gluttony and indulgence embodied in a grotesque figure of obesity, flanked on each side by murderous looking hawks, sharp clawed and hungry eyed. He dosed and drank sat upon a great chair, careless amounts of food piled high around the table in front of him. Beour, with the tact that I have come to expect from her, suggested that she might sneak into the room and gut the man before he knew we were present, but I foolishly urged caution and that he may be reasoned with or indeed convinced to share with us what knowledge and wealth he could. To this end I entered the room and made conversation with the brute, under the pretence of having been recommended to his aid by my fellow Halflings.
This charade lasted for only a moment before his malice became apparent in the form of a great axe produced from the side of his chair. He struck me a mighty blow that due to my short stature spun me from my feet. Fate, guided by Her hand, flew with me in that moment, and I was able to gain purchase on the table and roll behind it for some measure of cover. Righteous fury overcame me and I called upon Her wrath, scorching Rathbone with a holy light that tore the flesh from his sneer and left him staggered in a pool of burnt blood from his newly ruined face. Jigoku, never one to be left out of violence, leapt into the room with an unnatural grace for one his size and delivered a series of blows to the obesity of the man. The force and speed of the strikes was such that I could scarcely comprehend the skill required and the effect was clear. Stumbling from the strength of our attacks he had not seen the delicate Beour work her way into the room and behind him, not until it was much too late and her dagger was lodged well into the region where I’m sure his liver had once been. I am comfortable to say that I was overcome by this display of martial prowess, which I account as why I was then shortly overcome by one of the hawks recently dispossessed of their master. As I struggled amongst the crockery from the table I was somehow upon I caught a glimpse of Beour dispatching the other hawk, causing my harrier to fly from me in her direction. It raked a hefty talon across Jigoku’s face in passing, dropping the monk for long enough for me to see Beour dance through the path of the beast and split its tail neatly with a blow of such force that it nigh evaporated into a cloud of blood and feathers. And thus ended the terror of Rathbone.
Beour took our trophy of his head with must gusto, but strangely none of the skill previously shown. It was almost as if she enjoyed the slow cut and snap of bone… We gathered what riches we could carry, including a strange crown of an unknown origin, and walked from the place weary but wealthy. As we made our way back down to the road a passing encounter with a ruined cart and a strange devotee of Pelor suggested some mighty struggle had taken place not so long ago, the scattered remains of a number of small drakes all that was left to tell us how this bloody encounter had ended.
Upon our arrival in the town we made our way to the inn, from which I now sit in blessed warmth, where we were pleased to see our companions Grognak and Vanaya survived and well into their drink. With them was a Goliath, a friendly reminder of the time I spent amongst the mountains, the sheer size of him bringing back the self preservation that had led me to master Giant as a second language. What’s more he is a Paladin of our Lady, the Raven Queen. It gives me a sense of solace, that another of our group follows in the footsteps of fate.
We sat and recounted our tales, took ale and relaxed into what had become a group of friends through combat, and made our plans for how to proceed. Beour had developed a strange and macabre fascination with the ancient crown we had recovered from Rathbone’s hoard, and was set to place it upon his severed head. From my examinations I could tell that the crown had an origin within my religion, but that the spell engraved had been distorted in some abominable way. The Goliath that Grognak affectionately referred to as ‘Stoic Manface’ agreed with my concerns, and to prevent further temptation overcoming our pet rogue he safely stored it away. The protests to this were met with a glance that I should imagine has a number of very effective uses for an eight foot mute. Our bounty for Rathbone’s head was collected from the sot with a badge in charge of the local militia, and we then made progress to the Temple of Our Lady. Jigoku had become enamoured with the entertainment of unnatural uses for magic artefacts by Beour’s incessant appeals to disgrace the ancient crown, and once more Stoic made his objection very clear without having say a word.
The High Priestess at the Temple of Our Lady was a gracious woman, if sharp of tongue, who told us then of the crown’s place in the history of our Divinity. An arrogant duchess once sworn to Her service had taken it upon herself to forsake the inevitable fate of death, guided by Her hand, and succumbed to the allure of necromancy. The Priestess told us of a Lost Kingdom, far to the west, where it is rumoured that the treasures of the Duchy still wait for those brave enough to claim them, a place where the strong can test their mettle against the monsters of this dark magic, and the righteous may smite at the heart of the evil borne on the back of an ancient folly.
As I sit here now, my gold counted, a new cloak being made ready, I must admit that I am tempted with this quest. It is a duty to drive out the undead and those who would defame Her, and one that I bear gladly, but I am not convinced any other than Stoic would accompany in this simply because it is the right thing to do. The treasure however, and the prospect of a hard fight to win it, may sway my new companions. Grognak sits at the end of the bench explaining to his newly won ‘bag-bitch’ from a goblin gambling den exactly how he likes his spare axe carried, and Beour is casting a greedy eye at the purse of a drunken man a short way over. I get the distinct impression that Jigoku is a wandering soul who would like nothing more than another chance to prove his skill in combat, and anywhere that we can take Vanaya to try new and exotic ales is sure to win her heart over to the cause. Fate it seems, guided by Her hand, has provided me with everything I need to bring glory to Her name, and prosperity to my friends.
Lordy he goes on, he also glossed over some pretty awesome stuff. For instance though he mentions a cloak for himself he forgot to mention that the temple wench told us how epic the silks they brought back were! 5 rolls in total that they divvied out between our group, each enchanted to resist an element or malady. There were colours, uhh I don’t recall most, the main point is that I got a green neckerchief of poison resistance!
Also those daft sods went and gave me Rathbone’s axe THE BREADMAKER, it was a gift that truly touched my heart.
He is right though in that our sweet innocent Beour became obsessed with seeing what would happen if we put the crown on Rathbone’s head. Knowing it had to do with the Raven Queen I implored them to not do it in case the head flew off or something causing us to miss out on the reward. However I soon remembered that, since I didn’t kill him, I wouldn’t get a cut so I ducked out to go do some shopping.
It was around this time that I realised how cripplingly poor I was so I decided I needed to go where the action is. I went into the catacombs under the city and found a goblin dive bar.
Goblin is one of the many languages I know and knowing them to be heavy gamblers I figured this was a good place to bolster my gold reserves. I entered the table in the traditional goblin way, I killed the player with the smallest amount of money, this ensures fresh coinage is running through the game and that only serious players are going to get involved.
It seemed I was little rusty as starting off I lost a bunch of coins but soon gained it and then when the little guys started running out of money they started betting fingers and toes. Now I’m all for goblin toe necklaces, they’re considered couture in the more civilised states however I convinced them that it made more sense for them to combine their body parts as one whole goblin to save on dismemberment. A skittish creature was soon thrust on the pile and, with a bit of crafty card foolery, I won myself a goblin squire! Seeing this wretched creature reminded me of another wretched creature I had parted ways with only that morning, this though brought a tear to my eye. I decided to call him CRUMPLEBUM the SECOND in honour of that flea-bitten battle cat.
After that I exited the game and returned to the pub. Once I got there I was informed on our newest endeavour discovered by Stoic and Lorric, a foul necropolis teeming with riches and dead things to make deader. Truly this is the stuff of legends! I guess whilst the others wait for their magical items to be made I’d better get Crumplebum II in shape!
<To be continued>