BOOKS AND BATTLES ENTRY: 1/15/16

 

THE PARTY BEGINS

“So, what, do we masquerade?” Po asks, crossing his arms. “I don’t like going to parties, but a masquerade might make it better.”

“Masks? No, no, no,” Charlie shakes her head. “No, no masks. We’re all going to go, and we’re all going to have fun.”

At twelve midnight, a few of the party are already in the castle, dressed up and ready to dance. The rest of the group walks up through the front gate.

As they approach the gate, they see hundreds of people flooding into the castle. Guards check Simple University cards at the gates, slowing the flow. However, the rest of the adventurers make it in, dressed up to the nines.

Inside of the castle walls, all the tents from the guards have been put away and Bob’s horse is led behind the castle to a stable near the garden. Lanterns hang from threads from the castle’s wall to the castle itself. They light up the ground poorly, but add to the ambiance.

Inside, the castle has been cleaned from top to bottom. Everything has been wiped down and the statue from the center of the room has been replaced with a clear water fountain. Against the walls are long tables filled with food supplied by Nat Wyler. There is a dance floor in one corner and the kitchen doors on the other side.

The chandelier in the middle of the room glitters with clean glass.

Bob the Builder adjusts his wig on his head and brushes his dress. “Do I look okay?” he asks, attempting to blush.

“Yeah, I mean, I guess so,” Flekt mumbles, crossing her arms and looking at her own dress.

Just then, Charlie (the non-coronated princess?)  walks down the main staircase, her sky-blue dress creating a strong contrast between herself and the dark woodwork. “And here she comes,” a man says from the front of the room, his face shrouded under a hood. “When do you want to be coronated, your majesty?”

“Uhm,” Charlie pauses, reaching the bottom of the stairs. “Uuuhm.. When.. later, I think.”

Darren, the hooded man, nods and bows away, joining Zuko on the other side of the room in small talk.

Meanwhile, Sippele sneaks away in her blood red dress and fur. She sneaks up behind an unsuspecting commoner, her hands outstretched–

–when suddenly Po comes up behind her and picks her up off her feet, moving her onto his shoulders. “Oh no you don’t, kitten,” he says, walking away from the commoner without them noticing anything.

“Let- go- of- me!” Sippele squeals, hitting his back with her fists. After a moment of deliberation, she gets out her claws and starts to scratch him.

As they get into a rather violent scuffle, half of the coronation party flees, fearing the worst. Luckily, Charlie is able to persuade the other half of the party to stay for the festivities, and she also stops the cat-fight.

PARTY CRASHING

Nearer to the kitchen, Flekt watches some waiters and waitresses. One of them walks out from the kitchen  carrying a six-level class tower, balancing it with expert precision. “Ah, yes, I need one of those,” Flekt says, reaching for one of the lower glasses.

Before blinking, all of the glasses come crashing to the floor, despite the waiter’s attempt to stop them. “Oh! P-pardon me!” the waiter shakes his head. “I did not mean to ma’am– it is my fault, pardon me-” Some fixing spells and a new tray of glasses later, the party is back on track.

Over by the dance floor, Biskut makes her way towards the band. She asks if any of them can teacher her an instrument, any instrument, and after some talking to, one of the cellists agrees to teach her the violin on his old, tattered, and broken violin during the party for about an hour.

In the meantime, Sippele tries to persuade other people to steal for her. After a man who had one-too-many falls on Darren while trying to steal his hood and another man who trips and falls mid-stealing, Sippele finally gets a few jewels off of one woman, somehow fulfilling a life dream of hers. She then slips the jewels into Po’s pockets before anyone notices.

On the other side of the party, Bob and Darren leave the party scene and walk off to Jonathan’s bedroom together to put the one-too-many man on Jonathan’s bed to sleep. As they are walking back to the party making small talk, two men burst into the front doors. Everyone turns to look at them.

“DRAGONS! Two! Two dragons! Coming, now, they’re coming!”

The coronation party breaks down into absolute chaos. “Dragons!” random people scream, “Dragons!”

“Calm down!” Charlie tries, staying where she is although people run by her on all sides. “I’m not even coronated yet!”

“That’s too late, princess,” one of the men at the door yells to Charlie. “You have to get out of here.” Bob and Darren run past the man, hand-in-hand, and they flee the battle.

Some people manage to get out of the castle before the two dragons slam themselves into it. The dragons bring down the chandelier and take out anyone underneath it. They stand on their hind legs for a moment, and before they can make another move, Flekt realizes that these are not normal dragons:

There is a red dragon by the dance floor and a time dragon blocking the entrance.

Biskut knocks a hole in the castle to be able to come and go past the time dragon and Charlie uses the opportunity to get a better vantage point.

After a long scuffle with the dragons, there are almost no survivors except for our adventurers. “We must stop,” the time dragon speaks to Flekt. “We must stop, for you are equal foes, and we are challenged and weak from our flight.”

 

Did someone send the dragons? Who did it? Who were those two men at the door? Will the party reach Dyinglight in time?

Find out next time during Books and Battles, TBA.

BOOK AND BATTLES ENTRY: 1/18/16

Friendly neighborhood reminder: the book for January & February of B&B is The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

HEAR, HEAR!

At the sound of thundering hooves, the party wakes up in the Cracked Crown. Trumpets blare in the morning light: “Hear, hear! The coronation party of her Majesty the Princess Charlie of Razmiran is tonight! At midnight! All are invited, all are to dress! Hear, hear!”

The whole party shakes their head in disbelief. “Is she even coronated yet?” Flekt asks.

“Who cares!” Biskut exclaims. “A party? Yes please! Let’s go get dresses!”

Po looks down at himself, raising an eyebrow at the prospect of dresses.
“I want a special dress,” Charlie explains. “One of you guards, go get food for the party from Nat Wyler’s. You guards, there, clean up that statue in the front. We have to go to the market. It’s even clothing day!” A few guards nod at the princess, and some head out on their horses to Nat Wyler’s while the rest in the room move to lift up and remove the statue in the middle of the entrance. They take it around to the back of the castle and examine in for a few minutes.

After some mumbles about the stupidity of market days, the group hauls down the ladder to the market. They find that all of the food from yesterday was taken out and replaced with lush dresses, suits, and hair salons. All of the stores are advertising the best prices and highest quality products for Princess Charlies’ party.

The group makes their way into the same candy store they were in yesterday when they met Elias, but they find that it is completely stocked with clothing of the finest fabric.

“You majesty!” the woman from behind the front counter says. “How may I be of service?”

The woman eventually helps everyone but Po find the best dress, even sewing a unique dress for the princess.

Flekt gets a purple dress with a tulle bottom, absolutely drowned in sparkles. It is cut down at the bottom to fit her size and matches her blue skin and black hair well.

Biskut receives a blood red dress, strapless, with a silk-look about it as it flows all the way down to the floor.

Sippele picks a darker red dress than Biskut, but it has the same form, with a single shoulder instead of strapless. The fabric is twisted around at the shoulder, to give a rope-like look to compliment her fur.

Charlie requests a sky blue dress. She thinks it up on the spot. “No fluff,” she nods, “and I want it strapless, but with lace on the shoulders, you know, and I want it fitted. But no fluff! And no sparkles.”

“Your dresses will be ready at twelve, and delivered to the castle,” the woman from behind the counter confirms.

WHAT’S A CLOCK?

Charlie contemplates something for a moment. “Po, what are you going to wear to the party?”

“What does it matter?” the dwarf scoffs, patting his stomach. “I’ve got fine enough clothing on!”

“No, no, no,” Charlie says, leading him and the rest of the group outside of the candy-store-turned-clothing-store. “Let’s find somewhere to get you something nice.”

“Okeh,” he says, turning down the market avenue. “Here.”

The group stops in front of a small cluster of stores, slightly set apart from the rest of the market by a corner and an inlay of bricks. This part of the market looks older than the rest, like it is untouched by time.

There are two stores that are bright on the inside; twinkling lights illuminate the clothing inside. The store between those two looks completely empty. The lights are not even on, from what the party can see, and the windows look as though they were untouched for centuries. “There,” Po points, “I’m going into that middle store.”

And he does so. Inside, Flekt casts a light spell to find faded wall paper and a single lit lantern on the other end of the store. Broken shelves and dusty boxes line the walls of the store and there is no one shopping inside.

“Helloeh?” someone calls from the darkness. Instantly, the entire group twists toward the noise.

“It’s an old man,” Biskut whispers.

“‘Elloeh?” the man asks again. “Who’sh tehereh?” Slowly but surely the sound of a walker hitting the floor and dragging feet gets closer to the group. The lantern moves as the man picks it up. Half of the group moves back towards the door, and the other half steps closer to the noise.

“Oh!” the man says, lifting up his lantern to see them more clearly. “Customers! Yeh, yeh, ‘ow may I help yeh?”

The whole group is stunned into silence except for Po. “I want a tunic. Do you have one?”

After a bit more deliberation and an asthma attack later, the group finds Po a fine, century-old tunic that is light blue with gold embroidery, trimmed with a darker blue and with accents of white. Charlie is absolutely appalled by the sight of it, but Po looks satisfied.

The group names the man “Al” since he does not seem able to remember his own name, but they also learn that he has two children: Samantha and Thomas. They both live in the Sandshacks and they pay to keep up Al’s shop. Sippele offers for the man to join the group of adventurers on their quest up to Dyinglight to find Soares, the man who stole the documents, and Al is overjoyed. He agrees without hesitation. A collective groan from the rest of the party ensues. Al puts on a top hat for the occasion.

 

SIPPELE, SMASH!

Once back upstairs, Biskut scares the entire plaza, causing a few children to cry. Charlie goes to carry Al (since he cannot walk that fast), and while she succeeds, she breaks most of his ribs. He cries out in pain, but is then intimidated out of his mind by Po, and falls silent. Charlie heals his ribs.

Charlie then goes to run to Mumbledore’s library to learn more about Al, but on the way she trips, falls, breaks Po’s arms, heals them, and leaves him on the ground without his walker (which she forgot to bring).

In the library that looks only slightly healed from the entire dominoes yesterday, Cassra confirms Al’s backstory: He is an old man named Alexander who has lived in Razmiran for many years. He has two kids named Sam and Tom and they both live in the Sandshacks.

In the Plaza with Al on the ground and the rest of the party waiting around for Charlie to get back, Sippele decides to take out her huge bag of mugs and smash all 25 of them. After the help of the army-general-man they met during one of their first days in Razmiran, Sippele stands in a pile of broken mugs. “I’m satisfied, I think,” Sippele says.

Suddenly, the group shakes. Buildings sway all around Flekt, Charlie, and Biskut, though no one else seems to notice. After a second, everything goes black.

EHRLACH’S TRAVELING CIRCUS

Charlie, Flekt, and Biskut all suddenly stop where they are, and look around. Sea ports, people checking pocketwatches and proper American English-sounding Common suddenly surrounds them.

“Oi,” someone says, walking over to them. He has short brown hair and a thread-worn shirt on with tall workboots and pants. “What was that? Where are you from?”

“We, uh, just got here,” Biskut says quickly.

“Did you?” the man asks, raising an eyebrow. “You aren’t… magic, are you?”

“No,” Charlie lies. “Are you?”

“No,” the man nods curtly. “No, I’m not. But you have to be sure these days, you know, with the borders closing so soon. But okay. Where did you come from?”

“We.. are.. part of the Circus,” Biskut nods slowly.

“Yeah,” Flekt agrees.

“Oh! Ehrlach’s traveling circus! They just left! They’re trying to beat the border! Good luck! Go on then, to that warehouse over there!” the man points behind him.

After finding out that the warehouse has been what looks like ransacked, the group is lead over to a man’s house who might be able to help them: Shadrack, the famous cartographer.

His door is open, and when they walk inside, they meet three people: two young children (girl and an older boy) and an older woman who stands protectively in front of them. They explain that Shadrack is the girl’s uncle and that he has been kidnapped. Their house looks like it was ransacked for something specific, though no one at the house knows what it is. The group takes a large atlas book written by Shadrack himself and the group observes one of the maps inside of it. The little girl is able to identify where they are as “New Occident”, on the middle of the coast.

All names and maps, respectfully, are from The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove. 

imgocjjxtglasssentence_map
from The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove. 

 

 

Though, before Biskut, Charlie, or Flekt can say anything else, their world goes black once more and everything goes silent.

 

 

Where did Charlie, Flekt, and Biskut go? Who was Shadrack and is he okay? What is a clock? Will Al actually be of any help? Can the group get to Dyinglight in time? Will Charlie’s coronation party be a success or a royal fail?

Find out next Books and Battles, January 30th, 2016.

Books and Battles Entry: 1/9/16

SLAM SLEEPING

The entire group heads out of the Bitter Blade, taking a deep breath of fresh air. They all then head over to the Laughing Goblin to get Bambang a Simple University Card.

The rest of the group walks to Nat Wyler’s and once they enter the bar, they realized that there is no one performing. With an empty stage ahead of her, Corrona takes it up and simply lays down on the stage, spreading out all of her feather boas. Everyone in the tavern snaps their appreciation, observing her silently.

Back at the bar, Cal orders the largest bowl of gravy that Nat Wyler’s sells. When the barmaid puts his gold away it sounds like there is a significant amount of other coins there. The group debates whether or not to steal the money, and if so, how. They decide to call over Corrona and let her steal the gold while the rest of the group distracts the barmaid by asking questions.

The group learns that there is an office in Nat Wyler’s for the barmaid in the same room that leads downstairs to the underground market. They also find out that Elias would be downstairs in the market if anywhere during his free time. She does not let them into her office, even though Cal tries his classy grin.

Meanwhile, Corrona  reaches behind the bar to get the gold. But she slips, her arm plunging into the bowl, bringing Flekt down with her. The barmaid notices and but she does not realize what Corrona tried to do. The party awkwardly waddles out of Nat Wyler’s, dragging the explanation-heavy Flekt with them.

On the other side of town, Bob walks outside of the Cracked Crown to pet his new horse, Johnson. Bob then heads over to the castle to plan the coronation party with Charlie. He is let into the castle and he waits the huge dining hall where Charlie looks to be planning her party. There are hundreds of papers splayed across the immense table, but the only things written there seem to be “Pink. Blue. Fluffy dress? Short?”. Bob grabs a quill and writes, “Chandelier full of diamond candles”.

As he is in the room, Jonathan is escorted in by the guard who let Bob in and they discuss, among other things, the death of the King and the Queen. Jonathan seems suddenly uncomfortable, and he moves to go back up to his room and continue packing. Though Bob follows him, Jonathan eventually gets away with his guards blocking the hallway. Bob is escorted out of the castle.

Bob then speaks to a few of the local barmaids and finds out that the King and Queen were killed by multiple stabs to the chest, supposedly the cause of all the blood in the King and Queen’s room.

FAN GIRLS

Downstairs, there is a mass of screaming girls in front of one of the smaller candy stores. During food day, the smells of raw meat, vegetables, and cheese overwhelm the party. But they surge towards the fan girls, hoping that they lead the way to Elias.

“Oi! Get out of the way!” Flekt yells, but to no avail.

Cal tries a smolder on the girls and though a few turn around, they are quickly bored and turn back to the candy store.

Finally, Po steps up to the girls and persuades them: “Elias just left through the back door of the candy store. He’s headed back to Nat Wyler’s now.”

“Hey, he’s right!” one of the girls exlaims, “And the Bard has to get upstairs at some point! Let’s go wait for him!”

To the relief of the entire market, the flood of girls rushes towards the ladder and they all leave.

Inside, the candy store is smaller than it seemed at first. The walls are lined with hundreds of removable baskets, and they look easy to replace day by day. There are bright lights inside, lighting up the entire store. And although there were quite a few girls outside its doors a minute ago, this candy store only has three people in it. Even the cashier is in the back, sounding like they are sorting things.

“Hey, guys,” Elias says, suddenly noticing his old comrades. “Long time no see, eh?”

“Let’s get to it,” Cal commands, stepping closer to Elias. “Where’s your cello friend?”

“Cello friend? I’ve got not the slightest,” Elias says honestly, starting to shake in his boots. “He just joined me on stage and I started playing with him.”

“LIAR!” the rest of the party screamed, but they all, for some reason, believe Elias.

“Fine, then. Why were you in the Bitter Blade?” Cal demands, staring Elias down.

But Elias did not respond, causing Cal to take drastic measures. Cal picked Elias up by his front shirt and that got him talking. The group scared out the last few people in the store and finds out that Elias is part of some kind of plan with Maven, but Maven is smart; he did not put all of his eggs in one basket.

A few of the notes for his plans are with Elias, but all the correspondence between them were supposed to be burned, and Elias only found someone else to carry out Maven’s plans. Elias does reveal that he hired a younger boy names Soares to try and steal some documents for the plans. He needed to steal from the library, the Welbelove’s, and the Foss’, which he did. Then, as Elias told the group, Soares ran– or should be running— all the way to Dyinglight to meet a deadline of 10 days. That is, 7 days by the time the group hears about it. Because then, at the end of the 10 days, Soares will be taken to the Land of the Linnorn Kings to meet with Maven.

Without missing a beat, the group drops Elias to the ground, commands him to promise to not tell anyone else about Maven’s plans, and to stay in Razmiran.  They find out the daily market schedule:

weapons — food — clothing — animals — magic — small materials — left overs

The entire party then walks to the library, catching up with Bob in the process.

KEY WHO?

Back in Mumbledore’s library, the group of adventurers feels at home. While Corrona and Bambang avidly look for Cassra, the librarian, the rest of the party decides on which books to check out and Bob reads a book about the general history of the world.

A few inquiries and persuasions later and the group finds out that Mumbledore’s library has a book club that plays tabletop games. They read a book every month and then play a game based on that book. This month’s book is titled The False Prince.

Then Cassra claims that Soares does work at the library, but that he is sick and has been since a few days after the documents were stolen from the library. He has yet to come back to the library and the library itself does not keep track of people’s addresses because Soares was somewhat of a volunteer and Cassra needs anyone and everyone to help out with the library. Even if that means not getting their address.

The group then decides to join the book club and just after Cassra allows them to join it, Biskut knocks over a book shelf while trying to steal a book. As the first shelf is slowly tipping, the anticipation builds– then suddenly– dominoes.

Half the library crashes down with just one stolen book, and Cassra commands everyone in the party to leave the library. Some of them do, however, get away with checked out books:

Corrona checks out a book on Orcish which she does not plan on returning and Flekt checked out a book on cats. Biskut, however, stole a book on oceans.

After getting kicked out of the library, the group heads back to the Cracked Crown. Bob recognizes some of the men in the front of the inn from the night before, but they have all had one too many. The entire group rents rooms in groups of two and they all rest for the next day.

 

How will the group get to Dyinglight in time? Will Elias join them or stay in town? Will the barmaid in Nat Wyler’s keep her money safe? Will Charlie’s coronation even happen? KEY WHO?!

Find out during the next Books and Battles on January 18th.

Books and Battles Entry: 1/2/16

A CROWN

After Corrona heads back into the room with Darren right behind her, Princess Charlie is presented with a crown of pink roses, found by her cousin, Jonathan. She puts it on, along with a huge smile.

Then Darren asks about reports of a stolen horse that ran off somewhere, though no one seems to know anything about it. Darren then thinks them trustworthy enough to ask for help with a new problem in town:

Random pieces of paper have been stolen from different places in Razmiran, all within the last week.

Some were stolen from Mumbledore’s Library six days ago, from the Wellbeloves’ house four days ago, and from the Foss family up by the animal keep two days ago.

After receiving this information, the party decides to go back up the ladder and ignore the problem completely, as they all had the sudden urge to walk to Nat Wyler’s.

SIMPLE UNIVERSITY DISASTER

On the other side of town, in Nat Wyler’s, the lady barbarian, Biskut, tries to get her Simple University Card, and fails. She then attempts, multiple times, to persuade the barmaid to let her take the test again, but to no avail.

At one point, she even walks outside, rubs dirt on her face and wraps some fabric around her forehead in an attempt to confuse the barmaid into letting her take the test. This does not work.

However, what does work is simply walking across the street to the Laughing Goblin. After a few well-placed lies, Biskut is allowed to take the test again. And she fails. Again.

When suddenly the rest of the party shows up at the Laughing Goblin for a night’s rest, in all the confusion, Corrona sneakily steals a Simple University Card and gives it to Biskut, allowing Biskut to now visit any university building or site within Razmiran, and no one is the wiser.

HORSE EPIPHANIES

All the way to the north of the Laughing Goblin, Bob the Builder rides an untamed horse into the woods to attempt at taming it for himself.

Johnson the horse tries to buck him off countless times, but Bob manages to stay mounted the entire time. Though, when he tries to tie the horse to a tree while still on the horse, things go poorly. He slams against the tree and gets some major bruising on his back. But just before the horse pounds Bob’s face in with untamed hooves, Bob touches the horse’s legs.

Calm instantly overrules the horse’s mind and he stops attempting to stomp Bob. Without pounding hooves or biting teeth, the horse stands still in the woods as Bob attempts to disguise it in a large white cloth with cut out eye holes.

INVISIBLE FRIENDS

On his new horse, Bob heads into town looking for the rest of the group. He goes to Podol Plaza in the center of Razmiran and waits atop his horse in the dark dusk.

The other part of the group, after deciding that they could not enter Nat Wyler’s with Biskut amongst them, decide to find refuge in another tavern and inn: The Cracked Crown.

To get to the Cracked Crown from just in front of Nat Wyler’s, the party has to pass Podol Plaza. As they pass in utter darkness, everyone fails to notice a large, cloth-covered horse with an elf on top of it.

The elf and horse, however, notice the party, and they follow the party from the back. Corrona, with her sneaky senses, hears an enormous horse behind her and stops to turn around.

“Bob!” she shouts, getting the attention of the rest of their friends. Everyone notices him now, and Bob the Builder rejoins the party.

After arriving at the Cracked Crown and tying the horse up outside, everyone gets a room, though Bob and Po spend the entire night studying for Bob’s Simple University Card test the next morning. Everyone else rests.

The next day, Bob takes his Simple University Card test and passes.

MISSING DOCUMENTS

Once everyone except Po and Bob are well-rested, they all head out to learn about the missing documents, starting in Mumbledore’s library.

They meet a tall, female elf named Cassra Bunce. Her arms are drenched in blue ink, and she informs the entire group that this is because that is the color of ink that is used on all official and unofficial library documents.

When asked about the documents, she says that they were stolen from her seven days ago, and that she never read them. A few members of the party question her honesty, but they stare at her long enough to trust that she is telling the truth. The documents were not written in blue ink.

She says that the books were stolen while she was shelving some books in the library and was away from her office.

Inside her backroom, where her office is, there are shelves and shelves of books that cover all four walls. There is a desk in one corner of the room, also covered in papers and blue ink. One part of the bookshelf looks to be absolutely deshelved and just thrown on the floor, but none of the books are missing.

“I kept the documents behind the books here,” she shows the adventure party. “I kept the documents behind the books so that when all the books were shelved, you couldn’t see the documents.” This adds up, as the rest of the books around the room cover the walls so only a few bits of the back of the shelves are visible.

Bob the Builder learns about horses as the rest of the group investigates the scene of the crime.

Next, the group goes to Aya Wellbelove’s house. She relays the same information that the group heard before, saying that the documents were stolen five days ago. Aya leads the group down the ladder and into the market and into her shop. The door to this rather unassuming shop opens, and the smell of flowers, incense, and food flows from within. The shop is dimly lit by candles.

Aya leads the group back into her office, where she kept the documents. She never read them either, and they were not written in blue ink. There appears to have been magic on the case once, but the spells were subtly changed, the work of a professional.

After checking the store’s records and finding nothing of importance from five days ago, the group heads over to Marten Foss, the last know spot of the theft. However, Bob the Builder goes to Mumbledore’s Library to read about more horses and learn about the royal family.

A skinny, athletic, dark-haired elf comes to the door to meet the adventurers. Marten Foss also explains about the documents that he did not read them, and that they were not written in blue ink.

They were stolen from him three days ago, and they were taken right from his bedroom, when he was not in there. The papers were stuffed in with other papers in the room, but his room looks absolutely trashed.

The only thing Marten Foss reported as missing was the documents.

As they are searching the shelves, Corrona comes across a small, burned note in the mess. Marten Foss is surprised, as he did not find that piece when he first came across the wreck. The note is burned to almost a crisp, and there are only a few readable words in blue ink:

—-ust get it. if the—-

—— it first, then all

———-was a total

——-E.

————–FAITH IN ME

——–LACED.

Then there is a signature at the bottom: Does it say B.H. or simply B with a flourish?

On the back of the note is simply the phrase “10 days” written in black, thin ink.

THREE CHEERS

Reading about horses and the Marfont family (the royal family of Razmiran), Bob realizes that there is some kind of grey area around the recent death of the King and Queen. He tries to ask about it, but no one responds easily to it. He tries to read about it, but nothing is written about it.

Thinking on his feet, Bob decideds to go back to the Cracked Crown and speak to the men who spend all day there.

They welcome him as one of their own, and eventually, after a few too many, the one of the men in the group reveals some information between burps.

“Teh king an’ queen? Yeh, they were teh greate’t, were’n’ they? Long live the King!” A loud cheer comes from all around the room before he continues. “Ah few munths agu, teh famileh wush kill’, yeh knuw, like WAH! FWAAAAH! An’ then t’ey were jus’ dea’! Jus’ gone, t’ey wer’… An’ nuffin’ more wush sai’, yeh knuw, b’cause tha’s the king an’ queen, tha’ is, an’ can weh realleh say moar? Nah, nah… Bu’ erry’thin’ was lef’ as it wa’ tha’ nigh’, so th’ some’un migh’ be abl’ ter fin’ ou’… Rumou’ say th’ it wush th’ V girl– waz ‘er name– Gah, I ferget baia nauw. Bu’ the Prin’ss ‘s back, ain’t she? Long live teh Prin’ss!” Another loud cheers comes from the other patrons and after one last prod by Bob, the man rants on one last time:

“Tha’ Jon-jon’s in place righ’ nauw, ‘e is, ‘e is a goo’ one, fr’m acruss teh pon’, ‘e is. Th’ V-girly ran off, sh’ did, when sh’ realizesedsesd th’ sh’ coul’ nauwt ge’ anfin’ from teh people o’ Rashmirhan! Awl’ teh way ter Kyo’ninninnnininnn sh’ wen’, th’s wha’ Oi hear’, all teh way, an’ she han’ been ba’ since!”

PARTY PLANNING COMMITTEE

Breaking off with the group, Charlie heads in the direction of the castle to start planning a coronation party for herself.

Meanwhile, the rest of the adventurers (while Bob is in the Cracked Crown), go to the Bitter Blade, where they water down the drinks.

After everyone gets a pale-yellow mug that they never drink out of, Cal bribes the tender for information about anyone suspicious appearing around a week ago.

He says yes, that someone did enter the tavern looking out of place. They carried some kind of instrument on their back, something smaller than a cello, and they kept their face hooded. They took someone outside and spoke to them about it, but this was around a month or so ago, and the Bitter Blade does not keep people’s names for everyone’s safety.

And that is where the party left off. The group ended at about half-day, slowly leading into mid-afternoon.

What was that guy from the Cracked Crown talking about? Who was the man in the Bitter Blade a month ago? Who did he talk to? Has he been back since then? Will Bob’s horse ever be stolen? What did the note mean? Why was it in blue ink? Who is B?

Find out next time during Books and Battle, January 9, 2016.

Books and Battles Entry: 12/26/15

SIMPLE CARDS

After the battle for horses, the crew leaves Bob and Johnson on their own as Johnson rides into the forest in an attempt to unsaddle Bob.

As the group is walking towards Podol Plaza to learn more about Razmiran, Sippele catches up to them (she left her one dinosaur by the entrance to the city to hunt for itself) and joins in. Charlie and Sippele suggest that everyone goes to the castle, and since they had no other leads, they all go together.

Inside of the castle walls there seems to be tents and small camps on the grass. The party attempts to simply go straight to the front door of the castle but are stopped by a glowering guard. He has long, dark hair, and a metal circlet to match his black armor. His face softens slightly at the sight of Charlie. “Welcome home, your Majesty,” he says. “And you are her guards?” he asks the rest of the group.

“Yes,” Sippele says instantly. The guard naturally believes her.

After Charlie tries to persuade the guard to let everyone into the castle, they learn about the university and simple university cards that give them access to the underground, the castle, and the library. They have to pass a test of knowledge about Razmiran to get the cards, and could take the test in the Laughing Goblin, Nat Wyler’s, or if they could get into the library, they could take it there.

After multiple conversation with local historians who claim to be professors of some kind, including a demeaning-looking general and a calmer-faced woman, the entire group goes back to Nat Wyler’s to take the test.

Before getting their papers, the group sits for a few songs played by the renowned Bard. After closer inspection, Charlie realizes that the Bard is indeed their old friend Elias. He winks at Charlie and continues playing, eventually joined onstage by a cellist.

The party then takes the test in the back part of Nat Wyler’s (except for Princess Charlie).

Everyone barely passes the test, and, after a check of Corrona’s answers, everyone receives a simple card with:

SIMPLE UNIVERSITY CARD FOR THE CITY OF RAZMIRAN.

It includes a line to be signed by the holder, and all the cards are signed.

Charlie tries to buy Nat Wyler’s from the bar maid and only gets a promise to talk to Nat Wyler himself when he wakes up.

Sippele buys a single mug from the barmaid for 25 gold, and when the barmaid turns around, Corrona steals all the money back and gives it to Sippele, essentially stealing the mug and the money.

THE UNDERGROUND

Charlie asks where the nearest stores are, and she finds out that there is something called “the underground”. To get to it, the bar maid at Nat Wyler’s tells her, all you have to do is say “I want to go to the market” to the statue in the middle of Podol Plaza, do not push the button on the statue, and a doorway will open with a ladder downward.

After they are all down the ladder, they came across an elegantly decorated room, complete with a gem chandelier, fine paintings, a white-bear rug, and a lit fireplace. Cal quickly hurries to the other side of the room where stands the only door in the entire room.

Outside of that door is a whole other city, though it seems to only be made of weapon and armor stores.

PRINCE JONATHAN

Once stocked up with weapons, mugs, and clothing, the six team members go back up the ladder and towards the castle once more.

Presenting all their cards, they are lead into the castle itself by the same guard who denied their entrance earlier. They come across a shattered statue of what looked to be someone representing peace, or justice, and the guard avoids the statue entirely.

He leads them, at their request, down a hallway and towards the bedroom of late James the Fourth and leaves them there to return to his duties.

Inside of the room they meet the pompous and feather-laden Prince Jonathan. His blond hair flows into an extravagant white feather boa and as he steps out of his walk-in closet, he squeals at the sight of Princess Charlie.

“Ooh, cousin! It’s soooo great that you’re back!” he says, almost jumping around. He looks to be the same age as Charlie, though he twirls around unprofessionally and childishly.

A long conversation ensues and the group finds out that there was something going on with the Mage’s council during the time that Charlie was gone. The King and Queen had nothing to do with it, and the group also finds out that Jonathan makes a lousy Mage of Air. He does, however, give Corrona as many feather boas as she can carry.

They check out the King and Queen’s room before leaving. Sippele makes some patched together and slightly blood-stained costumes for everyone in the party.

DARREN’S SECRET

The group walks back to Podol Plaza, Charlie in the lead and Jonathan in the back. They all go down the ladder and take a seat, finally seeing all five of the core Mage’s council Mages. Darren is standing at the front, and they learn the names of the rest of the Mages from Jonathan.

There is Darren, the High Mage; Jonathan, the Mage of Air; Cysteffor, the Mage of Earth; Amelia, the Mage of Water; and Zuko, the Mage of Fire.

There are a few other people in the room, but the adventurers simply take their own seats without asking any more questions.

“We are hear to speak about the events of a few nights ago,” Darren begins the meeting. “Including the event at the advisor’s– or the under-professor’s– Gael’s house, in the woods.”

“Well, I walked out there after some citizens had reported from abnormally strange noises. I went to check it out and saw the house was basically ransacked. I also found this incredibly dark thing in the house, and it attacked me… So I attacked it, and it grabbed Gael’s diary, so I just took it back, and slammed its head against the wall, and then dragged it out to the coast. I guess it’s left already because we keep getting refugees…” Crysteffor looks over to the five ‘guards’ who brought Princess Charlie home before sitting back down.

Flekt stands up and reports about the diary pages that they found, and Crysteffor confirms that those are the pages that the dark thing was trying to steal. About half way through her report, Darren excuses himself and a few of the secretaries in the room follow him, along with Corrona who sneaks behind Darren in plain sight.

She finds out that the pregnancy mentioned in Gael’s notes is Darren’s. Darren thought that he was the only one who knew about the child besides Vendara, but supposedly Gael knew too. And now Corrona knows. And now the entire party knows. Darren threatens her to not tell anyone else about it, and if she does, she will regret it.

When Corrona returns to the council room, everyone is talking amongst themselves, the meeting having ended when Darren left the room.

Why did Elias wink at Charlie? Will Charlie get to buy Nat Wyler’s? Will Bob get to keep Johnson? Why did Darren have a child with Vendara? Where is the child now? Is it alive? Who is it? Who attacked the house in the woods for the notes? What else happened to the council while Charlie was away?

Find out during the Books & Battles,January 2, 2016.

 

The Origin of Vendara the Sorceress

Entry 1

I told the elders that the girl was too young to carry the power she holds. When she appeared before the professors, she was starved, hollow, angry, a half-elf girl not more than 16 years of age. Her test scores showed promise, but the power she held was overwhelming her limits. It made her shape look distorted through my mage vision, red and black blurring the lines of her form.

“You passed our test,” said the High Mage. “But you deceived our administrators. There should have been no way a child could have taken the exam, let alone a half-breed.”

“What have you to say for yourself?” asked Bryn, our Mage of Air. Her voice was gentle, as light as the magic that worked through her, but it held steel with those words.

The girl said nothing in the moments after. Her eyes were burned with that overflowing magic energy.

She spat at the floor.

“I earned me place,” she said. Her accent was thick, uneducated.

How could she have learned enough to pass the test? I wonder still.

“Don’t make me laugh. Your flamin’ rules say you have to keep me. Article 17, Verse 3: No eligible student will be denied access to the university and its library if they are willing to learn and carry the power of our kind.”

“Our kind,” replied Bryn. The nostrils of her hawk-like nose flared.

“Yeh? Am I not ’your kind’ enough?” The girl raised her fists–she actually raised her fists to the head of the air magic department. I almost smiled. The High Mage lifted a hand.

“She knows our rules,” he said. “There are few clauses that could counteract that article, but they do not allow for the exclusion of any with some of our blood.”

He looked to me. “Isn’t that right, Gael?”

I should not have let her in. I should not have let that comment anger me the way it did.

But looking at this bold, angry girl made me want to see something burn. I should have known.

Entry 2:

The girl came to my door again today. Her face was bruised, her arm broken. Again. My magic healed what it could.

“It takes time to heal,” I said. The gravel in my voice did not match any of the elves’ I worked with. “You never give it time.”

“I don’t HAVE time,” she snapped back at me. It had only been a year, but already her injuries had continued to accumulate. She had barely grown since the first time I had seen her. The food in the Hall was not filling her out; her cheeks were still hollow, her eyes bruised dark with sleeplessness. I tried my softest tone.

“What hurries you so, little one?” I asked. “You are the youngest to enter our ranks in years, and not even of the proper race. There is much to overcome.”

“Our ranks?” She snorted. “You will never be one of them.”

I fixed my herbs back into order, saying nothing. It always ended like this in these meetings. She never came to me to advise her. Only to take my potions and share her insult.

I held my tongue when I sensed the creature growing inside her. It was not an Eidolon, it was another thing entirely. A child. I gave her Moon’s Bane to ease the pains and prevent this thing, but she left the herbs at the door.

Entry 3:

The girl has vanished. I cannot say where she went. No one is concerned. No one asks after her.

It is as if she never had been here.

Entry 4:

I recognized her as soon as she knocks on my door. I do not recognize the smile on her face.

It is hard and cruel. It misshapes her mouth and makes her black eyes glint darkly.

“I’ve enrolled again, Master,” she says. “I hope to resume my studies with you as my advisor.”

I hesitate to respond. I do not wish to assist her, but I know that she would not have come to me if she had any other choice.

I have no other students. I let her in.

Entry 5:

Her research has moved beyond this plane. I have guided her to step into the other dimensions accessible to us, but that is not enough for her. She has begun to spend more and more time in one sole dimension. Her research papers focus obsessively on the Chaos Plane. I try to reason with her, tell her that research into the Chaos Plane goes nowhere fast, but she is adamant.

She comes to me with texts that have been forbidden by the elder mages, things that shift in and out of this plane. Dalygus follows her around like a lost puppy, the only other strange student in this place. He does not know why he asks for text that change, information that only he can find a way to access with that hidden office of his. She asks for explanations I cannot give and then seeks them on her own.

Who can possibly attempt to understand the impossible?

Entry 6:

I have seen her Eidolon feeding off of mutilated creatures in the woods. It bathes in their blood.

I cannot continue to advise this woman. Something is terribly wrong.

Entry 7:

She has asked to see the texts of my ancestor, Gaia. How she learned of my grandmother’s name, I do not know. The name has been erased from the mage’s lists. After all, what type of mage would marry an Orc?

A dark one, that’s what. I cannot give them to her. I tell her I burned them.

Entry 8:

Ther eis not muchtime left. Vendarahas not foundthetexts. I have hiddenthe m. But I wil pay the price.

My children mus t know: Shewi ll die seeking the m. The power re m ains hidden.

This is all I can–

BOOKS AND BATTLES ENTRY: 12/19/15

REFUGEES UNWELCOME

The rag-tag team of adventurers recollected themselves after the Mudman attack. KRrrl and the rest of the orphaned children float further downstream to safety while the party stays on the muddy bank.

They start to walk into the thick forest, Flekt immediately casting a lighting spell so everyone can see. A sign comes into view, written in crude handwriting in almost every language possible, with one meaning:

CITY. RAZMIRAN. REFUGEES UNWELCOME.

The group is not phased by this, however, and, with her newly adopted child on her back, Corrona expertly climbs up a tree. She finds a note between the branches that looks like it was blown up there by the wind, and reads it, but decides not to share it with the rest of the group.

Further down the trail there was a smaller trail leading away, and Cal recognized it as the trail to the adviser’s house. The rest of the party followed him and Corrona did a triple flip across the trees to stay above the ground.

The adviser’s house was obviously ransacked, with furniture shoved at different angles and most of the valuable things already looted. The kitchen was still stocked with food, however, and after Charlie purified it all, everyone had a snack.

Cal, Flekt, and Charlie each find different parts of what looks to be the same diary. The last page is covered in blood and unfinished, a sentence trailing off at the end. Charlie also finds a detailed map in a map room, and she felt like it was familiar, but she couldn’t remember why.

While the rest of the group was searching the house, Corrona and Bob tried to climb the roof. Corrona made the climb easily, since she was on the trees before, though Bob failed miserably multiple times. And when Corrona jumped down from the roof, she twisted her wrist. But it healed easily and Corrona was not deterred from climbing with her daughter on her back.

After everyone took their own souvenir from the house, they decided to go back onto the main road and to the city of Razmiran.

FAREWELL

Just as the party saw the lights of the city at midday, Noralor stopped to make a speech.

“I’m not so sure about this city,” he said. “I’m going to have to leave you here.”

Instead of a tear-filled goodbye, the only response was that Sippele demanded her dinosaur stay with her and Charlie begged for a dinosaur of her own. Unfortunately, none of the dinosaurs wanted to leave Noralor except for Sippele’s, and so Noralor walked into the forest without leaving any footprints behind him. Momo followed, and the three dinosaurs awkwardly followed suit.

All that remained was his infamous bottle of sparkles (which Bob took instantly).

RAZMIRAN

Finally reaching the city, the adventurers decided to split up. Po and Bob walked into the Laughing Goblin and tried to persuade the innkeeper to give them information, but the female elf there at the time said she “never stopped working” and that if they wanted to have a good time to go to Nat Wyler’s across the street.

Flekt, Cal, and Charlie walked towards Podol Plaza to look for some clothing shops. They found nothing but a statue, but the people in the plaza started starring at the trio. After a few sentences with one of the locals, everyone in the plaza started to bow down to Charlie.

Bored by the silence of the locals, Flekt, Cal, Po, Bambang, Corrona, and Bob walked towards Mumbledore’s library.

The speaking door on the library made some good jokes, and everyone had a laugh, however the group could not figure out how to get the door to open.

Failing to open the door made Corrona and Bob so annoyed that they both wandered over to the animal keep to the north of Razmiran. There they saw cows, horses, sheep, pigs, and many more animals. Seeing Corrona jump the fence, Bob decided to do the same. Then it became a race to steal a horse, and after multiple failed attempts on both parts, Bob eventually got on the back of a horse named Johnson. Reluctantly Johnson carried Bob away from the pen, though just as they started to trot away, a group of people from the farmhouse noticed and started to run outside.

How does Mumbledore’s door open? Why did everyone bow down at Podol Plaza? What’s in Nat Wyler’s? Will Bob get to keep Johnson?

Find out next at the Books & Battles, December 26th.

Books and Battles Entry: 12/12/2015

The Beginning and the End

The sorceress is gone. Forever. She has left behind mass destruction and hundreds of Chaos creatures to roam the lands, but she is gone. Her sons remain behind. Cal, the honest paladin, joins the party. Maven, the Gravemaster, has vanished in the air.

Dalygus is dead and no one is bringing him back. Noralor regrets everything, although he is no longer spelled.

In the main hall, they find their lawyer gnome still alive, fending off the baby T-Rexes. The party threatens him, but he bribes them with knowledge that there is an heir to the throne still alive. This heir married at a far off coastal town named Razmiran and had one child. Although he knows that the heir and his wife are now dead, he has heard rumours that the child still lives.

The party decides to leave this city and travel to the coastal town, taking a pit-stop at the cabin in the woods Dalygus and Maven talked about. The lawyer gnome is strapped to the back of a T-Rex. As they walk through the remains of Iadara they find that the storm clouds are dissipating and spreading out beyond the borders of the city. The dragons are no longer fighting so close. People have begun to step outside their doors and view what is left. A dragon lies on the ground, a shattered building beneath its corpse.

The party guts and skins the corpse. Flekt attempts to teach the T-Rexes how to carry something, but they are only two days old and do not understand anything. They follow Noralor’s basic instructions to drag the dragon skin behind them.

Once they reach the underground river, they find many refugees in line waiting for the boats that are sent out by KRrrl. While threatening people in line, they meet a new party member, Red the slightly-amorous wizard. He is already a threat to the party’s females in bad pick-up lines.

Noralor negotiates for the transportation of the party and the T-Rexes in exchange for the dragon skin. They make it to the dock with little interruption. Corrona, the half-elf rogue, convinces a 6-year old Halfling to join their party. When they disembark the tiny child is captured by a Mudman.

The party defeats the Mudmen and Bob mourns them when they dissipate back into mud despite their not having any intelligence or soul. The halfling child lives and the party begins to make their way through the forest to the cabin of the sorceress’s murdered advisor.

The next game is December 19, 2015.

Books and Battles Entry: 12/07/2015

Choices

The company is dumbfounded by Cal’s exclamation. As the prince-like character begins to break down, what little sanity he has left trying to make sense of what has happened, not many in the party are able to offer comfort.

Biskut accidentally asks him about his mom. Flekt tries to downplay the bloodshed, but points out he killed them all. Only Bob is able to comfort the paladin Cal and succeeds to the degree of a full-time psychiatric counselor.

They hug. Cal feels awkward, but his symptoms of Post-Traumatic Spell Disorder are fading. He explains to the company that his mother has the ability to control him and his half-brother, but the loss of her Eidolon, Kirran, has driven her completely mad. He can lead them to her, but he cannot fight with them.

Hopscotch

After a short rest (Noralor and Bob excluded; they played hopscotch), the party begins their way through the vast stairwells to the Main Tower. The T-Rexes are left behind to ravage what they can in the main hall. That, and they do not have enough balance to coordinate through the narrow stairwells. Their arms are too small to hold onto the railings.

As they crawl up the stairwell, echoes of the sorceress’s voice haunt them. Words of pure madness cause Flekt and Sipele to become frightened. Cal stays behind at the point he believes his mother’s commands cannot reach him.

The party overhears Dalygus and Maven discussing a cabin in the woods and some secret materials kept there. Once they are discovered, Maven steps out of the window and flies away with an effortless spell. Dalygus stays and convinces the party to kill the sorceress.

The Fight

When they enter the King’s Chamber, the sorceress is standing on the balcony in the middle of a wind storm.

“Kirran,” she calls out. “The time is come. All the white robes are gone and darkness rules. So much darkness. Fire and blood. Rivers of mud. Death to them all. Death and the black.”

When she notices the party at the entrance, she summons a Kyton, a chain demon. The party attacks and between spells and arrows (Noralor’s being a bit confused when it comes to aim), they have the sorceress near death before she steps into a Dimension Door and appears near the exit. Before she can escape, Dalygus thrusts at her with his scythe and deals the killing blow.

Corrosive blood covers those nearest to killing blow and they take 10d6 damage. Those who die instantly are Noralor, Dalygus, and Flekt.

The party stops fighting the demon, stunned at these events. Biskut thinks fast and pulls out the teeth necklaces she has been making for an event like this. She borrows some of the sorceress’s teeth for a necklace for Flekt and places the futuristic cat  teeth on Noralor. With the correct sigils in place, she is able to revive them from the dead.

The demon escapes as Noralor and Flekt come back to life. Their appearance has changed somewhat–Flekt now has black hair and is 2 inches taller while Noralor has a grin that is split from ear to ear and filled with a mouth of shark teeth. His Disguise stats increase to supplement this change.

The next Books and Battles will be December 12, 2015.

Books and Battles Entry: 11/23/2015

Noralor’s Discovery

Moving through the tunnels with T-Rexes in tow, Noralor soon discovers the great catastrophe of the revolution. Although there are a few survivors, mainly children and some lucky men and women treating burn marks, at least half of the population of the slums has been slain. The massive crypt that has been their home has become a graveyard yet again.

Noralor fed some of the deceased to the T-Rexes.

After attempting to train them, Noralor and Sipele and wolf Momo and their new pets sniff out the party through the tunnels to arrive by their side before Dalygus.

The Library

It is then that the party devolves into chaos. One idea, Sipele’s, stands out among the rest.

“I vote,” Sipele says, “that we take all of the children out of the crypts and use them as a distraction while we break into the palace.”

Dalygus loves this idea and prevents any other, particularly Biskut and Flekt, from making any other option seem plausible. To prevent Noralor from causing him problems, he casts Reckless Infatuation on the half-drow ranger.

He then takes control of the party and leads them back through the crypts, calling to the children in a mesmerizing tune. He gathers 200 children and Bob and takes them through the passages, avoiding any other fights, until they come out above ground in the Palace’s parade grounds.

The Palace

The Palace is surrounded by walls of seeming glass that shimmers below the flashing red sky. The Parade Grounds are an empty acre of gravel and fine sandstone between these walls and the palace itself. The shape of the Palace is a steep mountain, with stairwells that defy all safety measures by wrapping around the outside. The grand entrance is two-stories tall with columns of twisted red glass and a massive stone door. To the left are stables and to the right is a second spire-palace twisting into the sky. No one waist for them outside.

Dalygus gives the signal for the party to begin their infiltration through the stables and begins to call down an illusion on the children. Bob is affected with the children. He begins to see the sky rain blood, each drop burning his skin. A whisper of a suggestion tells him, Screaam and it will all be over.

The party goes the stables and hears the screaming pleas of hundreds of children behind them. Biskut is traumatized with guilt, but the others move forward through the kitchen and a stairwell that leads to the dining hall.

The dining hall is adjacent to the Throne Room, their goal. A scout sees them and backs into the Throne Room, drawing his bow in threat. The party discovers the massive hall filled with dead bodies of well-dressed elves. Elias, their old bard friend, plays off-key music in the far corner of the hall. He looks stricken.

At the front of the room, seated on the deceased elven king’s throne, is the Sorceress. Standing beside her are two young men. Both boys share her dark hair and light eyes, but one of them seems sickened by the sight before him while the other’s eyes glint with mad glee.

Dalygus and the rest of the party arrive just in time for introductions.

“Good Evening, friends,” says the Sorceress, haltingly. “Please, let me introduce you to my boys. Maven.” She waves to the younger son who seems delighted with her attention. “And Cal.” She waves to the other, a much more muscular man who flinches at her motion.

Dalygus pales.

“No, they are not yours, traitor.” She sneers at the enchanter. “Enjoy yourselves.”

Without a goodbye, she leaves the throne room and the parties begin to fight a confused battle. The younger son Maven summons a monstrous creature made of the wrath of a mother and child murdered. This creature possesses the body of the scout. Elias the Bard flees. Dalygus become invisible, attacks the older son Cal, and disappears, forcing the infatuated Noralor to become staggered. A scream from the summoned creature prevents Biskut from attacking, trapping her in an infinite sorrow.

The older son Cal attacks the creature his brother summoned, causing mass confusion. Eventually the younger brother Maven, outnumbered, becomes invisible and leaves behind a death cloud that grows by the minute. The last thing the party hears before the fight to its close is a scream from Cal.

“STOP! NO MORE KILLING!”

The next Books and Battles meeting is December 7, 2015.