The World Above

Up above
Wine to vinegar

(Author’s note: the name Cojan Company is pronounced “Coh-Han”)

-I swear to you Gwen, it is nothing but the truth! I was there, I saw it with my own eyes!

-That was ten years ago Jen. You sure you didn’t get your memories mixed up?

-No, I am sure Gwen! I wouldn’t forget a man like that. Tall, tan, dark, handsome. His face is a bit of a blur to be honest. But I won’t forget his piercing gaze, dashing looks and… what he did that night. He presented himself as Esteban Nostra, businessman and trader. I did not hear much from him. He arrived in Myrsa looking for a Guarantor for himself and found one outside the Pendrach. I spoke with the clerk from the Guarantor’s office and his papers were solid, just as his description of the Cojan Company, the mining trade group he worked for.

-How can you be so sure of all that he told you. He was there only for a brief moment and disappeared.

-I am not. But I believe what I saw and heard. I was at the Pendrach’s party with Sally, Margaret and Lian and I set eyes on him. He was a charmer, a looker and, by the Gods, that accent was to die for. I could’ve spent my entire evening listening to him speak, so much I wasn’t really listening to what he had to say or ask. I just wanted to hear him speak.

-Not creepy at all…

-Shut up Jen. He moved on, but I kept tabs on him during the evening. I heard he was looking for a guarantor to vouch for the Cojan Company, which he represented. I heard him say it was a metal and metal byproducts trading company which operated in the south. They must be pretty secretive because I found no trace of them in Myrsa. Anyways. He had meetings with executives from the five pendrachs and was all courteous and polite. But I managed to eavesdrop on one of those meetings. He looked pretty content when one of the executives spilled the beans about Lady Carsas and her daddy’s mother-hen attitude.

He did seem very interested in her later on in the evening. Not that it didn’t cross me… but Lady Carsas is a very fair lady, and a prize to take according to men. So I was not surprised to see him compete with the other men. He was very blunt with her, but managed to stand out, which brought the attention of her bodyguard.

She walked away for some time, during which Esteban walked and talked. Word that the guarantors were arriving got out and most of the crowd went away. Lady Carsas came back and had a chat with him. More than anybody could expect out of miss perfection. He was good at it. He kissed her on the hand before heading out to witness the arrival of the Pendrachs.

He looked them over but he didn’t seem so desperate as to seek audience with them directly. Though he was trying to get to know them. Like he was investigating something. I can’t really say since the whole time, he kept his hat on. Quite the dashing hat, if I may say so. He then headed to talk with a man I hadn’t noticed yet. A young trader, modestly dressed.

He was standing away from the others, seemingly focused and at attention. Unlike any proper dinner guest should look like. Esteban went to meet and greet, but it seemed tense. There was something wrong with all of it. The Pendrachs walked in the manor and the young merchant followed them. Esteban followed the young merchant.

It is then that the incredible happened. Everybody had gathered around the local celebrities and town rulers. The young merchant though was manoeuvering his way through the crowd, heading for the Pendrachs. Esteban had noticed something and matched his pace. I saw it too: the young merchant had a blade hidden behind his back. They began tackling their way through the dense crowd, but the assassin was one step ahead and broke out of the crowd before Esteban, ready to strike his blade down on the Pendrachs.

Esteban, beautiful Esteban, jumped with catlike grace above the crowd and onto people’s shoulders, I am not lying! He stepped on the serving platter of one of the servants and onto the crystal glass of one of the guests! And it didn’t even budge! As if no one even felt he was there! He lept up in the air and fell down on the assassin, disarming him, locking him on the ground. It was such a scene.

Shortly after, one of the guests shouted “Assassin!” and…

-You’re sure you’re not messing with me? I’m having some trouble believing you.

-But I swear it’s the truth! Nothing but the truth!

-Yes. Like the time you went out with Leonardo?

-Gasp! That was not the same thing!

[Banter intensifies]

View
Down below
Are you a man or a mouse?

Zain: So, I was stuck in jail for almost two days before everything got worst. I tried talking with Derick, but between that and speaking to a wall, there wouldn’t be much of a difference. A women entered. They seemed like they knew each other quite well. We pretended to sleep, and she talked to him. She saw through his little subterfuge but he still wouldn’t move. She left saying that it would be the last time they spoke to each other. When he woke up, I tried getting to know who she was. I made a bad joke… And I probably shouldn’t have… He mumbled something when I asked again who the woman was. I couldn’t quite hear it, but… Maybe I understood, but it makes no sense. How would he know…? And why would she…?

???: Why are you so interested in that man anyway? He doesn’t really means much to you now, does he?

Zain: Well, he helped us a few times, and we come from the same place. He just might be someone I know.

???: I see, so how did you manage to escape then? Being your size, you can’t exactly fit through the bars of the prison.

Zain: Derick had a plan. He always has. He pulled a saw or something from his heel and cut one of the bars and then with spoons we… I don’t think you need all the specifics, that was pretty jackass though. So, since there was a big party, there weren’t much guards left in the dungeons. The one sleeping guard was not even a slight challenge. We got our gear back and devised a plan to exit through the sewers. We also hoped to find our friend Djenna. You probably saw her too. White haired girl.

???: The white mouse, yes yes, I have. Why did you want to see her?

Zain: My other friend was still in jail and in bad shape. He needed some help that we couldn’t give him. Figured Djenna would find a way to get him out of here safe and sound. In the meanwhile, me and Derick got lost in the sewers but eventually found Djenna and sent her to help our other friend. I kept on trying to convince the old man to talk but he never would open his damned mouth about it. Then we found this place, full of weird cocoon filled with some kind of virus. Nothing you want to see in the water of your sewers I swear. We started taking them off carefully so it wouldn’t spill and we kept on fighting each other over whether or not he should talk about him and that woman. He got mad at me, saying I wasn’t old enough, that I wasn’t ready. What am I not ready for anyway?! Not like it really concerns me… unless it does. But I can take whatever he has in store for me. He says I’m a kid? How many kid fell from the sky, built a city and fought with behemoths?!

Derick: What’cha saying kid? Talking with a mouse or what?

Zain: Doing like you ol’ man, talking to myself.

Derick: Well quit blabbering and lend me a hand. We got enough rest for now, we gotta get those last few cocoons down before whatever happens with’em.

Zain: Alright, well, thank you little one. Here, have some cheese, like I promised. I was keeping it in case we were stuck here longer than planned but you deserved it.

Mouse: Thank you!

Zain: I must be that desperate to bribe mouse into listening to me whining… I just wish Fosco and Kaelach were there right now…

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City of spires
If the cap fits, put it on!

Derick: So there kiddo, how’d you end up locked in here with Ol’ Deringer?

Zain: I guess we just have a knack for getting in troubles way bigger than us. We started by giving a ride to a new friend of ours. See, we were headed for Merza, but we stumbled on him and gave him lift. We have our own airship now too by the way!

Derick: That’s great boy, hope you help that Fosco a bit more than you did with me!

Zain: We went on our way to Merza after that and Fosco With my help made it all the way there. We stopped to rest a bit as the night had fallen and something seemed to cause problems to one of the thrusters of the ship. Me and Fosco went out to investigate and we found a hat with a message. “Beware the pendrachs” or something like that. We didn’t have much time to think about it as we were attacked by lizardmen. I was wounded and retreated inside. Fosco gave them a good roughing up right before I use our thrusters to burn these monsters.

Derick: Ingenious kid. There ain’t no good night o’ rest without some action.

Zain: By the next day, we made it to Merza. A kind fisherman allowed us to embark on his boat to enter the city. Really, this whole place is really impressive; it’s nothing like anything I’ve seen before, let alone something down in the Wyld. I thought it would be nothing but small villages and ruins but this, this is something else. As we set foot in the city though, we felt like the odd men out, dressed like strangers. We all split to do our things and investigate.

Derick: Investigate? What were you kids investigatin’?

Zain: Well, some merchant told us we needed a permit for trade around here. We also had wind of something fishy going on here with the guarantors. Honestly, seems like there is something fishy going on or we wouldn’t be in jail.

Derick: I see! So, ye all went your separate ways.

Zain: Yeah. Fosco had a meeting planned with someone he saw in a dream so we let him do his business. Kaelach decided to work at the docks to earn us a bit of money and I went to explore the city a little. Can’t find information if I don’t walk around a bit.

Derick: You ain’t gonna find anything if you don’t search fer it! True men of adventure know that.

Zain: And I did find what I was looking for. Two guards were talking. There were saying things about the Pendrachs but I couldn’t hear it all. Though, I heard that the Pendrachs had a bounty on our head. Two thousands dinars I think. They came to see me but I managed to hide my face with my hat a bit and they didn’t recognize me. I don’t stand out that much in a crowd.

Derick: That’s true fer ya, but your two buddies are pretty darn different.

Zain: Exactly the reason why I’m here. I searched for them to tell them we had a bounty. When I went to Kaelach, we were able to hide him from the guards when they spotted us. Then, when I went to talk to Fosco and this is when it turned sour. Bocky blew our cover and the guards gave us chase. Me and Fosco split ways again to outrun them. It wasn’t easy but we made it. Well, I made it, I didn’t see Fosco ever since. Honestly though, it would take more than that to catch him.

Derick: That rascal is worth and entire crew alone. Ol’ Deringer isn’t worried either. He’s not here with us after all. But, ye made it out of the guards chase, how’d you make it in these cozy cells?

Zain: I met back with Kaelach, went to a bar with him and his new found friends. When we left the establishment, guards were surrounding us. We tried getting some info from them but there was nothing new to know except that we were accused of conspiracy. Nothing new to us there, it’s becoming a habit. We followed the guards. We’re supposed to have a trial or something anyway, so we can surely find something about what’s going on this way. I just hope Fosco stays safe.

Derick: I’m sure he will… Just believe in him the way I believe in you kid.

Zain: What did you just say? You didn’t talk loud enough. Our cells aren’t so close you know!

Derick: Oh, nothing, just an ol’ sailor talkin to himself. That’s what happen when I sober up too much. So kids, what’s the plan? You’ll wait till they come to get you? You were already falsely accused of conspiracy, so you might as well falsely be condemned for it. That’s just how it works ‘round these parts. We breaking out or what?

Zain: When the time comes we will leave. For now let’s wait for news of the Pendrachs. It’ll take more than iron bars to stop us!

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The dragon-king

Dragon-king: So, great deity, how did you find me?

Zain: We actually didn’t really look for you or anything. We needed some rest and just stumbled across. And, we’re not dei—…

long awkward stare

Zain: nevermind. In any case, we explored a bit and discovered these ruins.

Dragon-king: Fate brought us together so that you may test me!

Zain: Either that or because Kaelach just didn’t want to let go and kept searching the village. Whichever floats you boat I guess. You really should thank him for looking so long in the village because when we first made it there, it looked more than empty. Luckily he had this map and it looked like our position was a location of interest, so there must have had sonething interesting.

Dragon-king: My people were proud and strong once, like me!

Zain: I have no doubt about it. They were pretty ingenious as well because your “coffin” was pretty hard to access. Even I couldn’t repair it after all.

Dragon-king: Our contraption puzzled even the great king of divine machinery?

Zain: I’m no king of divine machinery, hold your horses there! I’d probably be more like the god of the friendzone. Anyway it’s not me that opened it. Kaelach opened it by force. There was nothing much left afterwards.

Dragon-king: Luckily you were aided by the mighty god of destruction!

Zain: Kaelach would be more like the god of… I don’t know, being too nice?

Dragon-king: Then, I emerged from my slumber to present myself to the Lord of the friendzone, the mighty of being too nice and the god of…?

Zain: I didn’t mean it on a litteral level…

Dragon-king: and the god of…?

Zain: the god of one armed people.

Dragong king: So, the Lord of friendzone, the mighty of being too nice and the one armed deity welcomed me back.

Zain: right after we kicked your ass because you were not entirely normal after your long sleep. Anyway, we were able to figure out how to use your technology. We should get moving now, if you want to acconplish your “test” we have for you.

Dragon-king: Yes Lord of the friendzone!

Zain: ok I was kidding with the names. We’re not gods now. Just Zain will be enough alright.

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Village of Beasts
If it looks like a duck it's probably NOT a duck

Zain and Djenna are sitting under a tree on the outskirt of the village

Zain: Well, all in all, it was a nice trip. Thank you Djenna, I really enjoyed it. I think the boys had a bit of a harder time following on the way there though.

Djenna: At least they did jump off that cliff. You were lame on that one.

Zain: Lame? That was the non suicidal way. I thought Fosco had his load of falling down impossible height but I guess I was mistaken. You know what was really lame though? Losing to Fosco and Kaelach in the boat race.

Djenna: Don’t get me started on that one, it was totally your fault. Anyway, what did you guys do once we got to the village? I kinda lost sight of you there.

Zain: We waited at the city square but there were no one – like you probably knew anyway -. When we realized that the tea was still hot, we thought something must have been odd. The animals were acting strange too. So we tried to find which animal was an animal and which one was something more. Things got out of hands and… you know the rest anyway.

Djenna: hahaha, yes, that’s the part were you got peed on by Juro! Ha! That joke never gets old!

Zain: Because they do this often? Peeing on people? A-anyway, at least they had the kindness to give me clean clothe. I couldn’t thank the shopkeeper enough for this. After that, the day was nice and quiet – For the others I mean-. Fosco got to chit chat with the elders. Funny thing, I thought he would get along better with the younger ones. Kaelach was hanging arround the tougher, younger people too. I think he wasn’t exactly feeling at his place either. They should’ve switched places. I played with the kids for the whole afternoon. It was fun, but your kind play harder than I could imagine. It stopped being funny when they attached me and said they were going to cook me. At least their parents stopped them!

Djenna: Well, they really did like you. I think you’re too meager for my taste. There wouldn’t be enough meat to eat.

Zain: I… I’ll just pretend I did NOT just hear that. Are your meeting with the guardians always that long? I mean, passing every single one of you with that many details felt… maybe unnecessary? Fosco and Kaelach did well talking about the seventh isle. I wouldn’t have tried to stand up in front of the elders myself like that. I mean, they told me to straighten up my back and to raise my head all day long. They’ve been on my back all the time I was there too. At least, after the first part of the meeting we went off to play some drinking games with Fosco. Kaelach did a noble sacrifice staying behind, but he should’ve left me there and went drinking with you…

Djenna: Why is that? You didn’t have fun? Pretty boy came after the second part of the meeting and drank with us anyway.

Zain: I know, it’s just that he’s always doing the hard and boring stuff. He should let us do some actual things every once in a while. Even here at Haven I don’t get to do much. Fosco does the paperwork, Kaelach does the muscle jobs and I kinda just fumble arround. Not that I mind having lots of free time, I think it’s unfair for them. That and well, he clearly has a thing for…

Djenna: Hard work. He totally has a thing for hard work. Always give his 110% doesn’t he? Zain, stop playing the poor little kid. Get out there and try to help them instead of talking about it. Alright, sweetheart?

View
The Festival

The three companions were on top of the town hall, sharing a moment of peace like they hadn’t in a while now. A glass of beer in their hands, their silence was meaningful, quiet. The party for the shipment was on. The lights were bright, the children were playing and the parents were slowly gathering their kids to put them to bed so that the real party might begin. The fire was ready to be lit as well.

Zain: Hey guys, I’m not sure you realize this, but, all this is crazy isn’t it? I mean, a little over a year ago, we were total strangers, exiled from our homeland. We were little more than lost souls down here. Look at what we’ve done. A city, isn’t this insane? We gathered people from around creation for this. At first I thought this was all too crazy, but I guess that there are crazy enough people to follow this idea. Maybe it’s just me but, we’ve been through a lot in the last year haven’t we? We built this nice little haven and we still found time to get in crazy adventures! Anyway, on my end for sure. I’ve traveled for months just to find a few crystals and materials for… projects. I had to dive in deep waters with strange people. Apneans if I recall. They were really nice folk, but definitely, diving isn’t for me. I’m more a sky person.

Fosco: Projects? What kind of project would need crystals?

Zain: Nothing you would understand Fosco.

Kaelach: Boys, really? Let’s just enjoy our ale silently if we’re to talk like that.

Zain: Ok, ok, I’m sorry there Fosco. So what have you been up to Fosco? I’m certainly not the only one to do crazy stuff in my free time.

Fosco: Ha, yes, I’ve traveled quite a lot as well in the last few months. You see, I wanted to find something to fuel our ship more efficiently, so I went…

Kaelach: Boys, I see someone approaching the village in the distance.

Fosco: Probably somebody who wants to celebrate with us too! Who would want to miss a party like this, I wonder.

Zain: I’m not sure that’s the point though, we don’t know who it is. Someone making way in the wyld lands by foot must have ways to fend for himself.

Kaelach: We should go greet our new guests, let’s go.

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The city of high winds
"I'm not affraid of heights!"

Zain: Oh, Pazuzu, I’m really glad you’re back with me! So much has happened since we were thrown off the islands. We’ve met new people, seen new places; I really wish you were there with me to see all of this. Where should I begin? I all started when we woke up, alive and “well” down below and met a man we would come to call Omen…

[…]

Zain: …So we were in Jadewisp for, say, one week, just enough for Fosco to recover from his “sunburns”. After that week, things started to move again. The people of Jadewisp started going to see Fosco, calling him “The survivor”. They wanted to touch him, get his blessing. I mean, he only BARELY survived, I wouldn’t pray to that. Anyway, later, Ancient brought us to “the seers”, two strange people. They were “no longer fae” according to them. In any case, they would help us mine the strange ore the sword was made out of. Derrick caused a ruckus with his wine, and, in a weird turn of event, I ended up riding an army of pigs…

Pazuzu: You were even drunker than he was, Zain.

Zain: Not even, I swear! At least I’ve made a friend. His name is Buck, Buck the piglet. Anyway so, we went at the MS Destroyer with the airship. We let Kaelach go first. I regretted this decision very fast, as the sword busted into flames. We barely avoided the blast, thanks to the seers and their powers. I hurried down there as fast as possible to find Kaelach badly burnt. He wasn’t as burnt as Fosco was, but still, it’s the kind of wound that takes a while to heal, except for Kaelach. I stayed down while the seers were mining the golden ore. When they were done with what they could, I let them climb up and when I grabbed on to the ladder, the winds changed. Omen appeared right next to me. He thanked us for what we had just done. I tried bashing him with a chunk of ore without much success, so I grabbed him, hoping Kaelach would fire the giant ballista on him while he couldn’t move.

Pazuzu: From the little I know about this man, I’m surprised you even tried to convince him to shoot at you like that Zain. And it was a crazy plan too.

Zain: It was a crazy plan, but hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do! Oh god, that sounded like Derrick…Anyhow, we went back to Jadewisp after Omen vanished on his own, where the seers crafted us tools to battle out foe. They still needed some time before being ready, so we had to wait until the proper time to use them. It wasn’t long before we sailed off from Jadewisp with the seers. They knew a way through the storm. Derrick was at the wheel, and the instructions of the seers were… Even for my standards… bad. 10 minutes to the right? What was that? What matters is that, we made it out safe and sound.

Pazuzu: Yes, I must admit that these instructions are clearly insufficient, but that old man Derrick clearly wasn’t sufficient either. Two negative make one positive, right?

Zain: Don’t say that about Derrick, he’s… good at what he does. He dropped us at the bottom of Mount Megatelapa. He said he wouldn’t go any higher, that it was too dangerous. We parted with him. He shook hands with Kaelach and Fosco and bid them farewell. When he got to me, he seemed uneasy. I told him he could just shake my hand and go, he didn’t have to say anything, not like our relationship was very good. At that moment, he took me in his arms, hugged me, and told me to be safe. At first I was stunned by this sudden display. He quickly embarked on his ship and left afterwards. However, something crossed my mind… He’s an El-Mhuri, adventurer, he has some kind of amnesia…maybe he could be…

Pazuzu: No Zain, he isn’t. That man died long ago and you know it. Don’t hope for him to come back because he won’t. Even though there are no proofs of his death, don’t you think that if he had a ship, he would’ve come back for you?

Enters Fosco and Kaelach

Zain: I… Guess you’re right Pazuzu. But if he really is him, what am I gonna do?

Pazuzu: But hope won’t bring back the dead. Listen Zain, you’ve been hurt enough from losing your father once, I don’t want you to feel the same from losing a man who isn’t your dad.

Zain: I should’ve asked him before he left, but I didn’t have the courage…Anyway, we were able to access the city after we climbed the mountain. The city was incredible, build vertically in such a way that only birds could travel in it. They had all sort of birds, breeds I had never seen before. There was even a giant one, but it had blue feather on it’s torso which is usually more characteristic of the western birds, though it clearly came from the southernmost regions since it had…

Fosco: ahem… Hope I don’t interrupt you Zain. Me and Kaelach were just… passing by?

Zain: Oh eh, it’s not what you think! I’m not talking alone; I was just talking with Pazuzu!

Fosco: Yes sure, you were having a discussion with your bird. You know, one time, when I was really drunk, I had this crazy discussion with a lamppost too, but maybe you should stop taking absinth kid.

Kaelach: Play nice boys! Fosco, don’t laugh at Zain. It is characteristic of lonely people to talk to animals or inanimate objects.

Zain: No but he understands me I swear!

Kaelach: We all understand you Zain, we’re all a bit lonely inside.

Zain: That’s not what I meant..!

Fosco: When I feel lonely, I talk with cute ladies, bring them back home and…

Kaelach: No whores!

Fosco: I don’t even need to pay…

Zain: Ugh, enough you two! Could I have some peace and quiet, I was having an intelligent discussion before you arrived.

Kaelach: Alright, we will let you alone. But we are there for you if you ever need. Come Fosco.

Kaelach and Fosco leave

Zain: No but guys, I’m not insane…

Pazuzu: Don’t worry about them; just carry on with your story. I think we were getting on the interesting part.

Zain: Yes, so we had an appointment with the king, though he wouldn’t let us have birds since behemoths started attacking the village more and more. Just to prove his point, 3 behemoths were sighted, and the troops were sent out. We all decided to follow to help. I went on the frontline on a warhawk. Fosco stayed behind to lead the defenses and the ballista while Kaelach took care of evacuating the city. I was able to maneuver above the giant Killbat behemoth, so when I was high enough, I droped down the bird to jump on the bat.

Pazuzu: Do you have a death wish Zain? I mean, first you want to be shot at with a giant ballista and then that.

Zain: I call that dedication. Anyway, in my fall I revealed the package they had made me, the weapon against my foe. I didn’t know what it would be, but I needed something right about now. Honestly, it wasn’t what I hoped for. I was thinking that a sword would do well to slash its wing and send it falling down. A pair of boots though… well I went with the flow. I put them on and jumped on its wing to throw it off balance. It’s around that moment I called you out.

Pazuzu: You really do have a death wish. You’re lucky that the isles weren’t too far and that I had the time to make it BEFORE you got crushed on the ground. At least your friend Fosco didn’t try to kill himself with freefalls. I’ll give you that though, you fought valiantly. Your friends impressed me as well. Fosco was fierce against that giant ape thing. Kaelach showed great courage as well by venturing in the ape’s head. You sure know how to make good friends. The three of you really taught the behemoth who was the boss around here. Let’s not forget the seers either; they were more than useful with the ballista and all that oil dropping.

Zain: You’re right, I shouldn’t take all the glory, everyone put themselves to the task and it’s why we’ve succeeded. Maybe Fosco could’ve done more than just groom the ape though.

Pazuzu: What is with you and Fosco? Every time you talk about him, you do a little comment like that. From what I have seen of him, he’s a great person.

Zain: He’s… ugh… He’s so strong, determined, free spirited! He’s so better than me at everything it’s annoying… He is everything I ever hoped to be and it’s so natural to him!

Pazuzu: So you hate him for that? It’s not exactly a valid excuse, you should talk to him.

Zain: He’ll just laugh and say I am right to be jealous anyway… And we don’t have time to get touchy feely either…

Pazuzu: You would’ve had the time after the battle, after the king told you to go see the man at the peak of the mountain.

Zain: You’re not my mom, you’re my steed Pazuzu!

Pazuzu: I’m not but sometime I feel like I should be. Really Zain, you should grow up a bit.

Zain: I am an adult!

Fosco: No, you’re not!

Zain: Bwah! Since when have you been listening!?

Fosco: Who knows?

Zain: I’ll kill you!

Kaelach: Boys, play nice!

Zain: What, you were there too?!

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Dares
"I demand permission to the Unconquered Sun"

Gulp, gulp, gulp

That’s just what I I said Derrick. The sailing part went well just… Aw shit, all outta wine.

-Aw damned pal, can’t I be for more than a day in a place without it running outta wine?!

-No. That’s kinda why… why you’re my buddy. My drinking buddy. My sailing buddy to. The other two couldn’t tell the difference between starboard and port even if I told them!

-Heh, heh, heh. They were helpful though during our trip.

-Yeah. You and I rocked the calm winds and all, but I think we would’ve just crashed when we arrived in the storm. You remember? Big dark clouds forming up above us and suddenly, the wall of rain hitting us. Us four running left and right, jumping on the deck from station to station, manning a thirty man ship. We did good job for quite a while. Up and until those… things showed up. If those weren’t Behemoths, I don’t know what is. Heck, even the Wine might be. We really thought we lost you after the crash, but you turned out to be tough as nails.

-Don’t scare me like that boy! Behemoth wine?! But after the crash and before I rescued you from that burrowing weapon of yours, what did you do?

-Bah, walking. Mostly in plains, eventually in some sort of boring desert. Not much… until that burrowing machine came out of the ground. Gobbled Kaelach and Zain instantly. I stabbed it with my sword, but it broke it off. Still, I ripped something out, so I assume it didn’t do it any good. They did make it out of the creature, though wounded and bruised. We ran. Each in their own direction. In the middle of a crater, where the creature was attacking us, there was a crashed… something. Like a high tech airship. Stuck in the airship was a big ass fiery sword, that you saw.

-Can’t really miss it.

-Still. I dashed for the ship. Thinking “heck, if we came here to get weapons, maybe we’ll be able to use those weapons against the Burrower!” Turns out I was kinda wrong. The heat in there was intense. Not spontaneous-combustion intense but taking-a-stroll-in-the-desert intense. I looked around on my own, without finding anyting, then my friends arrived to help. We found a hatch to the engineering bay in which was some thingamajig, which we managed to get working. It was a talking machine, a bit like something we have back home.

-Whoa, whoa, whoa. Talkin’ machine? Ya pulling me leg son?

-I shit you not. We talked a bit with it. Turns out it held some of the crew logs. The rest required a password. Not that it matters anymore, but hey. We found a secret hatch but could not open it. After trying some things, Kaelach managed to move the big sword by moving it down in the ground, melting part of the hatch because of the heat. Important thing is: we managed to open the damned thing… with the exception of a minor setback.

While trying, without much success, I got frustrated and did a prayer to the Sun. The Almighty or whatever. I prayed to him, showing my worth by saying that I am not afraid of him, challenging him. I thought: If he’s so cool, he’ll appreciate cool. He didn’t. Long period of silence during which I puched the sword. It was somewhat made of metal, but I managed to break off a small chunk of it. After some time, I got a reply. In reply to my prayer, I got these burn marks… I didn’t appreciate the moment let’s say…

I woke up later in the engineering bay, still cool. They guys managed to open the hatch and grab what was inside. You arrived shortly after on your new and… improved… ship and took us in this underground city. That’s mostly it.

-If I had a life like yours, I’d need to be drunker.

-Drink more?

-Drunker, the Derringer knows what he says pal! Now fetch me more wine!

[Enters Zain]

-Fosco, Derrick, don’t you think you should drink less? That and talk less loudly, we can hear you from afar.

-Hey, Zain. I’m bonding, telling him our tale of… burning swords and absence of loot. Plus, I’m hurt and Derrick had some wine left. Who do you think I am?

-Hey, you can walk straight kiddo, why don’t you go fetch us some wine?

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Take off
"Never Again."

-Hey there kiddo, ya look like ye got somethin’ on yer mind.

-uh? N-no don’t worry, I’m alright.

-There ain’t no “I’m alright” ye can say. The derringer can read yer mind. Shut up and talk already. I need a crew that can look in the horizon, not down on the deck! What’s happened to ya kiddo?

-Well, you see, Kaelach, Fosco and I have been traveling together for a little while now. A little over a month ago something… bad… happened to the village we were staying in. At first I just couldn’t face the villagers, or either Fosco and Kaelach for that matter, so I ran away. Eventually, Fosco came to get me back, we talked a bit and he convinced me to come back with them, saying he needed me by his side. I followed, but I feel like there are still so much I would have to say to him…

-Ye should always say watcha think boy, that’s how real men behave!

Yes, I know, it’s just much easier to say than to apply. Anyway, we got back to the new encampment. Kaelach was really affected by all this. I didn’t hear him say a word in a long time. When the night fell, the guardian, Okomba –I believe you know him, came to see us. He told us that if we wanted to have our vengeance, we needed to come to you to go at the “center” and get “what we needed”. Weapons, most likely, because the one we want to exert our vengeance on isn’t all that ordinary.

-O’ course he’d tell you to come an’ see me, ‘am the best sailor out there. So what did ya do?

-On the next morning, we set out to come at Skullbay. The journey was long. A whole month of walking, and Fosco got us lost. At least, Kaelach knew where he was going, though he did not open the mouth one single time. I was worried for him, but no matter what I would say or do, he wouldn’t talk. Fosco tried as well, it was just more… crude and not any more successful. After the month of travel, we were finaly close to Skullbay, but it wasn’t the end of it. While we arrived at the gorge overlooking the city, we found old “friends” of ours. You’ve seen them too, you know, these black assassins that overran the city earlier? Them. They wanted us to see their master. At first we thought it wouldn’t be so bad to avoid a fight. Though, they told us who their master was and we immediately had a burning desire NOT to go. They brought us to a cliff, with a dark portal over the crashing waves. So well, of course we didn’t want to jump off a cliff. They tried to push me, but I retaliated. No way in hell some black weirdos would kill me like that. The black weirdos saw it as an offense and decided to attack. There were too many of them, and on the side of a cliff, there was no way I could dodge.

-So did ye die there? I guess not though cause yer hella talkative fer a dead man! Now ye talking, things’re getting spicy.

-No of course I didn’t die there, and I should thank Kaelach for that. He jumped in front of me to take the hit in my place. Though there was a lot of noise, I still heard him say two words: “Never again”. At that moment, I knew he was back with us and it eased a burden I felt. So I jumped in the melee and together we fought them. We did well, but at some point more and more were pouring out of the portal. We ran away to hide since we couldn’t beat so many. We went to Skullbay thinking we would be safe. Kaelach did an arm wrestling contest with a buffalo man and won, earning us a bit of money and leading us to you. I believe you know the rest of the story.

-After that, those damned patron had no more booze, right? What kinda place has no more booze anyway! Can’t say it was nice o’ ye to throw me in the water like ye did, but hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. After that there was that big ass army of girl-dude-whatevers in black right? I know how that ends, but damn, how did ye outrun a fuckin’ army in that stupid town?

-At first we tried to fight, but there was only so much we could do with three of us. I jumped in the bunch of them to distract them, Fosco somehow used a bow to attack them and Kaelach was casually swinging stands in their faces. Since they just kept on coming back, we started running. I lost them by hiding in a teahouse after quickly putting a drape on. I can’t say for the others, but my little finger tells me Kaelach went through the sewers. After I knocked one of the black widow assassins I stole his cape and ran to your ship. While I ran, Kaelach, in the sewers, grabbed my legs and pulled me down with him, probably thinking I was one of them. He quickly realized it was me and gave me a lift to the ship where Fosco was waiting. Luckily he was there to help us getting on board.

-I wouldn’t have gone without ya, yer my partners now.

-Well, your flying ship was sort of out of reach if not for Fosco. Anyway we made it, that’s what matters.

-Feelin’ better now? That’s a whole bunch of crazy story ye got kid. ‘not gonna be boring around y’all.

-I do feel better, thank you Derrick. I guess I just needed to talk it out a bit. I was a bit mad at both of them because of what happened, but looking back, really I should thank them.

-Hoy boy, don’t get no touchy feely here. I’m a ship cap’n, not a therapipe. There ain’t no place for more salt water on that ship so no tears allowed, understood?

-Yes sir!

-Now go get ol’ Derringer some goddamn wine would ya?

-I don’t think it’s the good time to drink, you’re steering the wheel.

-I dun’ think it’s the right time to ask questions ‘cause I might stop steering the wheel if I lack fuel.

-Aye aye captain…

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Bad Omen
"Three strikes, you're out."

-Magister Fosco Del Maestro, S Class, detected.

-Shut up Defend.

-Would you like to review the crew logs?

-… Go for it.

-Playing last entry by Magister Kaelach Lochain, S Class.

[…]

-End of log entry. It’s been 12 days since last log entry. Would you like to create a new log entry?

-Yeah. Sure, why not.

-Recording mode activated. Please state your log entry.


Where to start… Maybe before everything got fucked up. We had been pushed aside by the Village to wait for our supposed affliction of “Sun Plague” to pass. We didn’t blow up, obviously, so in the meantime we busied ourselves getting accustomed to that new life we had. Zain explored, Kaelach rested and I fought imaginary foes and beasts with that sword I got, keeping my old habits, even though my fist and feet were probably more dangerous than my sword with all the glowing I did recently.

Elder Cree came to see us at the camp, giving us yet another task to finally be part of the Tribe. I was beginning to wonder how many it would take to finally be accepted, even though they never did us any wrong (besides cutting my arm, but I sorta asked for it. Plus they gave me my right arm back in the process, so in the end, I can’t really complain…)

We had to gather some flowers in a forest up north, then head back towards a cliff to meet with some sort of sage. So we gathered our things and headed for the forest. We crossed path with somebody who claimed to be the Guardian, I didn’t question anything too much but Kaelach followed him while Zain and I continued towards the forest to get the flowers, which was quite easy to do actually.

We then headed back towards the Village and headed for the Sage’s hideout, carrying our precious yellow flowers. Arriving at the cliff, we climbed down, Kaelach carrying me on his shoulders. Expecting a hut, we found a slab barring the doorway. Surrounding it, symbols, none of which made any sense to us. We knew the flowers were supposed to be an offering, but all our attempts at moving the slab were pointless. We put the flowers to the ground, as an offering, but nothing happened.

But then, I thought that an offering had to undergo some sort of process to be accepted by the receiver. Looking around, we found a brasero hidden in the ground. We put our flowers in and set fire to the lot. There was a huge fireball and thick grey smoke filled the little cranny in which we were standing, but luckily, nothing else happened. The slab moved slightly, leaving enough grip for Kaelach to move the huge rock.

Inside, we met the Sage, an old man who has probably been living in here for aeons. He could barely talk, was deaf and blind, but kind and smooth. He gave us water and we helped him prepare some sort of mixture with various herbs and the flowers we burnt earlier. A thick blue smoke rose from there and symbols flashed before our eyes, scenes being drawn and displayed by the fumes. But not hallucinations, the smoke shaped itself to display the scenes. It was amazing. But one detail caught our attention. A pyramid.

We told the sage what we saw and he drew a map, highlighting the pyramid. We knew our next step, but there was one last thing to do. In the cauldron from which the fumes came out, there was a silvery liquid. We dunk our fingers in the liquid (damned was it hot!) and engraved our names on the stone surrounding the slab. This was a ledger of all the members of the tribe.

We went back to the village and were greeted with a festival. One heck of a party. It was happy, it was light. People were drunk but not sick (except that one guy…) and we all had great fun. I did a few drinking contests with the locals and aced them all, then Kaelach came and ridiculously beated me at it. Still, I had fun and got drunk with people whom I appreciate and who appreciate me in return. It really felt good being welcome among the tribe, being appreciated for who we are and what we are.

The next morning, we headed towards the pyramid. We borrowed two boats from the village and Zain and I build an improvised Catamaran, so that it wouldn’t sink with Kaelach sitting in it. We headed towards the pyramid, taking a rest after a full day of rowing. We didn’t have much left to do but we decided to pitch out tents and rest.

Sadly, we were (once again) disturbed by Omen who thought it would be a good idea to interrupt us and ask us, once again, to be friends in exchange for our cooperation. He gave us some instructions as to how to get in the pyramid, we thanked him but did not want to talk more before talking between us. We thus agreed to meet again and made him promise no Behemoth would be close to disturb us, to which he agreed.

We headed for the pyramid the next day, which was fairly easy to reach. Heading for the entry, we saw that the ground was littered with metallic parts similar to you Defend. (Look at me, talking to a tin man.) None were working, most were rusted beyond repair, but they were there. I’m sure there is a link between that pyramid’s fate and the “caverns of steel”, but with a lack of proof, I’ll just continue my tale.

We were soon disturbed by lizardmen who attacked us, but were quick to flee when they realized that we were badass. They quickly hid underground and left us inside the pyramid. We looked at the hieroglyphs and pictures engraved in the rock, trying to make sense out of the scenes depicted there. Many questions and little answers sadly. We saw the sun setting and decided it would be safer to head out and set camp a little away from where lizardmen may be lurking.

The next day, we went to meet with Omen, merely out of respect for our word. It was a short trip to the meeting point and he appeared out of thin air, as he always did up to now. We began to talk about our respective goals and he finally told us why he wanted to be friends with us: to have us as minions. Oh, he may have said “Oh but it’s a harsh term, I used minions but it doesn’t say it all!” It was too late. Kaelach was angry, and so was I. Kaelach was just more expressive about it and came down to threats.

Long pause

It’s then that Omen dropped the mask. We said no again, we wronged him, and he wanted to show us just how pissed he was. He pointed west, towards the village, and we saw smoke. He was right, no behemoths were at our meeting, but there was one at Rakanaton. It took us a few seconds to realize what was actually happening before we ran, once again drunk on adrenaline.

It was a full day of boating before we reached the pyramid and, honestly, I don’t know how fast we travelled. All I know is that by the time we arrived, I was spent, I didn’t have anything left in my body, but we were too late. All that was left of Rakanaton were smothered ruins. We saw Elder Cree’s hut, Kaelach rushed inside. I stayed out and waited it out. The hut crumbled and the only thing still standing was the giant amidst the wooden rubble.

I… I fell to my knees. I sat down. I did not say anything, all my might focused on staying strong for the village. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t cry, but I couldn’t stand. I’ve been wronged again. Confidence had built up but now it was smothered, ruined by the embers of the village. I just sat there, looking at the rubble, sobbing amongst the toppled trees. I must’ve stayed there for hours, just thinking about what happened and why. What I could’ve done.

A light rain started to fall, putting out the embers and washing out the ashes and dust littering the ground and ruins. And I just kept on sitting there, letting the sky cry in my stead, the clouds delivering all the tears I was unable to let out, out of spite and pride.

Once the rain stopped falling people started coming out and each of us had a little moment. I, for my part, stood up. I had grieved Cree and the village, I’m still doing so as we speak, but grief will not stop me from doing what I had set on doing. There’s only a slight change of plan…

I brought some villagers with me, all those who wanted to follow, here, at the Caverns of Steel. I introduced them to you as guests of honor in the hopes to settle a new village, a new home for all those grieving men and women. Kaelach followed but I didn’t hear his voice in days now. Zain wussed out and ran away. I tried catching him, but he lost me in the woods. I’ll send search parties and I’ll go looking for him myself.

I’ll have to have a chat with Kaelach, try to get him back on my side of the fence, try to distance him from his grief, try to convince to do as me. The Councilor was at the top of my kill-list, but suddenly he isn’t anymore. No, in his place is Omen, spoiled child who threw a murderous tantrum because he could not have his glowy boy-toys. We did nothing but choose and he murdered a village because of that. I think we could not have made a better choice, what kind of guardian would sell his soul to the Fae for a meager bit of power. I fear that instead of using a behemoth to slaughter the village, he would’ve used us. And I’m pretty sure of the option I prefer.

I’ll have to speak with Kaelach and Zain, try to get them back on track. In the last days, I’ve been leading the efforts of building back what we lost, try to stockpile some food and all. But all I know is how to give orders. I’m no dictator, but what those people need is a role model, and that’s the opposite of who I am.

I need those two dimwits…

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