Sanctuary

Rand's Journal: Amelia

[Excerpts from Rand’s journal, many years ago]

(Shaky handwriting)
It’s fucking cold. I’ve split from the others now, and left the city. The project Eamon’s had me working on was a binding. The glyphs he had me hunting down were for it, and I found the last of them. Was going to be writing it in the ash of a drowned fire on a babe. Eamon said I’d done good work – I’d be rewarded, apparently. Told me that the Master would teach me when She’d grown older on this plane. Took me to see the babe. She was a tiny useless pink thing, gurgling and unknowing. Couldn’t do a thing for herself. Eamon and I were going to be turning her into a vessel for the Master, and her body would be Hers. Couldn’t live for herself. Decide for herself. Parents sacrificed by Eamon. I took the babe and ran.

Sitting by a fire in the nape of a fucking hillside trying to keep child warm. No idea if Eamon can track me. Set up what precautions I can. Need to keep child safe. I don’t know what it is about her, Eamon said she’s the one. The voices are telling me I need to keep moving, but I need rest. Been running for a day and a night and the babe needs food and sleep. Best I’ve got for her is the slop I stole when I ran.
Wish she’d stop fucking crying.

(End of journal entry)
-
(Normal handwriting)
Found an inn. Less cold than the hillside. Not sure where in the world I am, but the girl at the bar said we’re in the North in a town called Muck. Only took a bit of coercion to get a room for the night. Old man behind the bar had a spine though. Babe’s hidden in my coat, staying warm and hidden.
More precautions on the room. No word or sending from Eamon. Not even anything from Cal. I bet he went straight to Eamon and took my spot. Good thing I burned my notes, aside from my journal.

(End of journal entry)
-
(Normal handwriting, several entries later)
We’re making good progress West. The babe’s quiet, and growing fast. She’s learned to hold onto things.
Took a carriage for us. Easier on her when she’s not outside. Cries less.
He keeps asking me why I’m doing this. Tells me I won’t help her, that I’ll ruin her. Bastard.
In the next town, I’ll find an orphanage. Somewhere safe.

(End of journal entry)
-
(Normal handwriting, several entries later)
If father could see me, he’d tell me to leave her. Move on and find the fight, for the Empire. Like I’d join the army that murders mages. Got himself killed trying to kill mages. Fool.

Found an orphanage. Shithole. Demanded to view their facilities. Not enough. The girl needs something better than they can provide. Woman in charge was an awful cow.
I’ll find somewhere for her in the next town.

(End of journal entry)
-
(Years later)
Amelia said her first word today.
“Papa”

(End of journal entry)

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Rand's Journal: Excerpt 1
On the war for the heart of the city

He’s not watching.

The incompetent shits in that cabal under Michael’s guidance did actually learn some things. Whether it’s true is another thing entirely, but based on what I’ve already learned, it makes sense.

They interrogated the angel Adnachiel. She spoke to me of the war for the city, between angels and demons, but I think there’s more to it. I think it’s a war between the gods themselves, old and new, and I think that Thales is a pawn in it.

She said, according to her interrogator, that the Gods live in the Void. Implied the Void isn’t good or evil — it’s got both in it, but the place itself is just the in-between, and the outside.

I saw it. The Void. Koroboros showed it to me. He knows I want to know more.

I need to ask the Other about it more when I can.

Adnachiel said that the Void is a force you cannot control. She said that the Gods are a force you cannot control. Angels are deliberate. From what I’ve read, they do not have the flexibility for that kind of deception. Are Gods and the Void linked somehow?

The Void snakes out and touches all of the realms it connects to. Like Gods.

If the only difference between the Gods and others that live in the Void is that they cannot be controlled by mortals, then what interest do they have in us at all? What stake?

And what does it mean to be controlled? Koroboros is not within my control, yet he trades information and power for favours easily. It is a brutal facsimile of a partnership, that we have. Yet I can deny him. Is that a form of the control Adnachiel spoke of?

The Other can take my body from me. I do not know if I could deny him if I had to; yet he is not a God, but is angelic. In what way can he be controlled?

I have seen Gods grant favours to the devout. They may be entreated, but not controlled, then? Could they be manipulated, or directed?

If the power of the Gods ebbs and flows, then by what moon does it do so? What directs their power? Is it faith, and the belief of humans? That may be why they are interested in our affairs. The affirmation of their power. That may be why Thales’ face went unhealed by his Vashanka after Adnachiel scarred it. She was shown by her foremost to be vulnerable, and fallible. Perhaps now that the city thinks us dead, she will be more forgiving.

And if it is faith and belief alone that informs the power of Gods, then I find myself curious about the reluctance of angels to bandy their names, and the eagerness of demons. The eagerness, in particular, of Koroboros. What is his game? Does he seek a higher seat than he has already? Perhaps of divinity for himself.

If there is a war for the heart of the city, between angels and demons, and gods, and humanity, then it is one that we must win for the good of everyone.

Thales thinks us dead. The city thinks us dead.

The city’s faith in him and Vashanka has redoubled. They think his victory has been restored to him.

We will have to show them otherwise.

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Climbing the Tower
Lynn scales a tower and completely fails at self-analysis through the medium of introspection.

Fuck’s sake but I hate this stuff.

In vain, Lynn attempted to deposit her box of tree-sap back into one of the numerous pouches that lined her clothes. The muck was useful, there was no doubt, and she was delighted that she had finally uncovered the secret to using it for climbing, but the way it made everything stick to her fingers drove her absolutely mental. Simply attempting to separate box and fingers was proving a challenge, and it took a fumbling combination of elbows and back-of-hands coordination before her hands were free to do their work. The feet were easier, marginally. A smear on the front of her left foot and the back of her right meant she could walk, albeit awkwardly, without having to pull them free with every step.

It’s not even really necessary. Bricks like this, bet even Rand could be made to climb this thing. If you put a banana for him to chase up top, at least.

That as may be, Lynn was in no mood to take chances. Not now. Not with this whole mad business resting on getting in and out of Tower 3 quick and quiet. Mad, bloody business! She didn’t belong in it, not in any conceivable way. And yet here she was, poised to place the a stack of hot papers in the private office of a fucking guard captain just because the group of jackasses she had fallen in with wouldn’t understand the concept of ‘keeping one’s head down’ if Lynn herself was gradually burying their noggins in the sand.

Just now, Lynn was not a happy witch.

Looking up at the dark tower she again tried to understand why she was sticking around. There were so many chances to bolt. Truth be told, if she had any sense, she could have slipped away from the caravan that got them into Sanctuary before they were within sight of the gates.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

She had been stupid to come here. Stupid to run with the mad obsession about Shalpa and stupid to chase the spectre of her father. Stupid to stay with that group of attention-magnets. And yet, here she was. About to do something crazy on behalf of a group of crazy people for a crazy scheme that, if it succeeded, would go a long way to ensure the anonymity of absolutely no one.

Even so, one positive thing about all this was that she was finally by herself for a while. Moreover, she was exerting herself, doing what she did best, and that was when her mind got closest to feeling at rest. Beginning to work her way up the tower wall, keeping on the side shaded by the moonlight and moving slowly and smoothly, her mind began to calm, her thoughts flowing more freely than they had for days.

It was Shalpa’s fault, really. The thought of him was a large part of what brought her here, and his little appearance cemented her determination to see that chase to the end. Secrets and mystery. Anonymity and protection. All that the search for Shalpa teased to reveal made Lynn turn back every time she was close to running. Besides, what was the alternative, really? Mercenary work and forever fearing that the Rankan eye would linger on her for too long. Better than to be right in the middle of things, where there was so much going wrong that she was only one suspicious face in a crowd of thousand.

And there was Amelia, of course. Try as she might, Lynn could do nothing but enjoy the company of the little girl. Maybe it was the fact that the pragmatic, matter of fact attitude Amelia had to most things appealed to something deep inside Lynn, or maybe it was just the soul of one fundamentally messed-up individual speaking to another. Whatever the reason, Lynn had a deep-set wish that Amelia had been an orphan, and that the two of them had met only to go on as companions. It could have been so good.

Loathe as Lynn was to admit it, she had grown fond of the girl. Had she allowed herself to contemplate it, she might even have felt attached. But attachments are dangerous things, and people die all too easily.

Aside from Shalpa and his secrets, and aside from fondness for Amelia, and even in spite of the numbing, horrendous stupidity of it all, the madness was exciting! In between the fear, expectation, and concentration; in between the anger, frustration, and violence, the excitement coursed through Lynn, at times making her want to laugh in maniacal glee. Throwing that thing and setting fire to Thaddeus’ lab had set her blood pumping with a wanton disregard for anything but the one thought: no witnesses. Fight it as she might, the excitement was urging her on, trying to pull her out of the shadows.
_

Have to be careful with that. Won’t do to die now. Then again, there are worse things._

Step by step, never quite standing still, never jerking or moving sharply, Lynn insinuated her way up the tower wall, her thoughts flowing and ebbing much like her limbs. The sap sticking to her hands and feet gave her that little extra hold to make sure she did not have to scramble for purchase, making her ascent uneventful.

_
It’s high time I got a damn break. Better not be something unpleasant up there, or I will be seriously pissed off._

Apart from a window shuttered closed, no unpleasantness waited at the top of the tower. With a little sticky fumbling with various tools of the trade, Lynn worked the latch open through cracks in the woodwork, and gently swinging the shutters open she was met by a dark, silent, empty office. Seemingly.

Can’t even trust the bloody shadows in this city.

Nothing to it. If there were things in the shadows, trying to stare them out wouldn’t do much good. Lynn slid inn through the window and landed quietly on the floor of the Captain’s office. Nothing happened. The faint sound of murmurs and voices could be heard from below, but nothing in the room itself seemed alarmed. So far so good.

Tempted as she was Lynn resisted the urge to look around and search the room for something to pocket. Her fingers might be sticky, quite literally at the moment, but she had enough deviousness in her to realize that for the plant to be successful, everything else must be left untouched. Pity. At any rate, she did not dare light the room up with her orb, dim as that light was, and attempting to find valuables or interesting documents in the dark was not something she relished. Compared to that task, finding somewhere to place the documents was fairly easy. The Captain’s big, solid desk had a number of drawers and compartments, and choosing one that was not too obvious and probably did not see too frequent use was not exceptionally challenging. Getting it open was more so, and Lynn had to resort to pulling off her gloves and really getting in close with the mechanism.

Who the fuck was it that gave locks names, anyway?

Mysteriously, attempting to whisper ‘three-tier barrel lock’ did not magically make the drawer spring open, and so Lynn had to rely on old-fashioned skill, which luckily had not had the opportunity to rust just yet, fire, ice and swamp-water notwithstanding. Slipping the incriminating papers inside, Lynn slid the drawer shut and worked the lock back to its original position. Quiet, still and decidedly empty as the room was, she could not shake a gnawing sensation that she was being watched. Trying to make the hairs on the back of her neck behave themselves and lie flat, she crept back to the window and mounted the sill. Looking out over the night of sanctuary, she took a moment to savour the silence and relative stillness of the night, and her place in it.

She suspected it would be the last opportunity for some time.

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A Swamp, Two Goddesses and a Whole lot of Mystery
Childe Amelia to the Dark Tower Came

In the aftermath of our Brave Companions’ foray to the Guardtower 3 one night, followed by what was for a time a stealthier home invasion the next, Sanctuary was already becoming too hot for comfort. When honest citizens cannot walk the streets at night without being assaulted by off-duty hooligans, some distance and time is to be recommended to allow tempers to cool and faces to be forgotten. When our Bold Heroes, who have yet to decide upon a name to make collective reference easier, were faced with a selection of tasks suited to their expertise, the safety and comforting call of the Swamp of Night Secrets beckoned. A certain Lotlie would pay for information on the swamp, and it was quickly decided that this task was highly preferable to the rather public alternative of bodyguarding a certain Noble’s daughter. After all, Sanctuary must be overflowing with qualified applicants for such a position, but only our hardy company could be trusted for scouting a place like the Swamp of Night Secrets. The noble’s daughter would be safe in their absence, all agreed.

Upon consultation with the client, the elderly Gentleman expressed his dissatisfaction with the swamp, and the way in which it was disturbing his sleep. One cannot but sympathise. When residing in a place such as sanctuary, where the nightly sounds of murder, brawling and less savoury noises disturbs honest men in their beds, the last one needs are distracting lights shining through one’s window. Our Noble Party would, to their later chagrin, neglect to suggest curtains to the gentleman and claim their payment for a job well done.

Agreeing instead that the swamp needed scouting, our Merry Mummers proceeded to collect what information and equipment they considered useful for their foray to come from Fisherman’s Warf. Boots were had, as were nets, spears and various maritime objects of mysterious and dubious origin and use. Had was also the knowledge of Mad-Jack, who had much and more to say on the Swamp. Beware the Nighters, the Swamp People; they cannot be trusted. However, if you want their cooperation, bring the goods to barter with. Passage was secured to the swamp by boat, with Thaddeus leading the way, his eyes gleaming with the promise of alchemical substances viable to go ‘boom’ to be had in the swamp. Rand, having been convinced to be taken by boat once his fellows agreed to pay his passage, begrudgingly brings along his daughter, accepting that the only place more risky for Amelia than the Swamp of Night Secrets is Sanctuary. Whether Rand’s own presence was taken into that calculation is not known. Lynn, for her part, seemed content to get somewhere where shadow was more prevalent than light, and where inconvenient witnesses could, quite literally, be swallowed by the swamp. Francesca, meanwhile, ensured that she was well prepared for the muddy journey to come.
Was there something they had all forgotten? Some thing or someone they had forgotten to take into account? Nah. What were the chances, right?

Our Wild Wanderers made it across the water to the south end of the Swamp. Faced with the dark and dank ahead, it was both a relief and a worry to see particularly well-trodden paths leading inwards. Preparing for trouble in their various ways, they eventually set forth into the wilds, only to be accosted a little while later by the Nighters, the people of the swamp, led by a formidable huntress by the name of Kaena. When our Trusty Troop made their intentions known, it quickly becomes clear that there is trouble aplenty in the Swamp of Night Secrets, and the swamp people themselves are not happy. Kaena has much to tell of the problems, although more is lost in her cryptic presentation. Men have been coming and coming in the swamp; men who do not belong there. The swamp is angry, and beset by black vines that are choking the life out of it. Someone has taken the light from the swamp people.

Confused though they may be by these strange words, our Hearty Adventurers succeed in convincing Kaena to bring them to her village, offering the goods they brought with them in return for help in solving the mystery of the swamp. Taking the path of the treetops, they are led through the swamp, spying alligators and swamp crabs, snakes and swamp people as they go.

The village is but a hamlet, filled with children and the elderly. There are few adults in evidence, however. Our Adventurous Hearties are presented to the village elders, seemingly the tutors who instructed Kaena in the arts of cryptic speech. Information gleamed in exchange for the maritime paraphernalia includes the fact that there is a sickness in the swamp, that the intruders do not understand the swamp but wish to live in it, and that ‘they’ put something in ‘the tower’ and locked it up. The elders urged our Valiant Friends to find this tower, tear it down, find the cage and free what is inside. The phrase ‘there is a worm at the heart of the tower’ is also uttered.

Far from letting themselves be dissuaded by cryptic mumblings and ominous foreshadowings, our Prancing Protagonists prepared to seek out the mysterious tower. Lynn removed herself to the shadows as was her wont, seemingly to commune with them. Thaddeus explored with child-like glee the various roots of the swamp, discovering healing opiates and venomous ooze, as well as information on explosive swamp-gas that in all likelihood made his heart flutter. Rand, for his part, seemed to struggle with inner daemons, while Amelia took to the swamp-lifestyle as easily as one might expect. Once all had completed their various loin-girding, Kaena once again led the way up and through the treetops, towards the dark tower.

In what was beginning to become an iconic feat of drifting attention, none of our Jolly Jousters had remembered to spare a thought for Amelia, though she had in an equally characteristic manor taken it upon herself to ensure she was not left behind and had taken refuge in Thaddeus’ backpack. How he did not notice the added weight is not know. It is possible that the opiate roots are to blame. Francesca, who had had to let the rest go ahead without for the moment her would undoubtedly have had a selection of choice words on the matter.

As they traversed the treetops, the group, which shall henceforth by known only as such, happened upon a detour. Proving for good and all her keen instincts, Kaena dug from the swamp a mask she alleged was carried by those who come and go at the mysterious tower. It did not take the more scholarly inclined among the group to note that the shape of grooved, open palms signified adherents of Dyareela, the independent Greater Goddess of chaos, disease, madness and other domains of wholesome family fun. Deciding that caution is the better part of mindlessly storming a mysterious swamp-tower, possibly frequented by cultists, the group resolved to obtain some information before sticking their heads into Dyareela’s maw, as it were.

Following Kaena’s advice, the group determines to waylay the first and best cultist to cross their path and extract information in whichever way they can. Plans are laid, nets are built, trees are climbed and hidden in and Amelia receives a mesmerizing and teeny-tiny occult face-painting from Lynn to keep her a little more safe from harm. Once the group was hidden in the canopy, Thaddeus resolves to further this project by equipping the 7-year old with a flask of acid.

Not much time passes before the group gets their pray. A barrel of a man stumbles into their trap, quite literally, and while he puts up a good fight, the net, a hamstringing, a tackle and finally some well-aimed splotches of Amelia’s acid saps his spirits sufficiently for Rand to tie him to a convenient tree. A little bit of information is dragged from the man before he decides the give everyone the silent treatment. Discussion is had on whether or not to be sociable with the man or cut bits off him to encourage further discourse. Hilarity ensues.

If one is of the kind who find demonic possession, black, corrosive bile and unnatural contortions hilarious. There is no literate way to say it: The man Bas was possessed by the goddess Dyareela so that she might express her displeasure at the groups meddling and express her intent to return to the world and punish those who have wronged her. By which, the group assumes, she means most people.

Once the deity departs the body, Bas is quite conclusively dead. What is left of him, that is. Disturbed but not perturbed, the group pushes onwards to the tower, reaching it at last and taking up positions in the foliage for observation. It quickly becomes clear that the tower is functional, unaesthetic and professionally constructed. Standing on an island of sort surrounded by swamp, the part notices that runes carved on stones nearby suggests this is where the Swamp goddess Heqt first appeared in her amphibian glory to her worshipers. Around the tower are boats. Many boats, seemingly used to ferry people across the water. People are massing for something. Suddenly and unexpectedly, Francesca appears with a swamp guide and rejoins the party with distressing news! Peter has been taken from where the group unceremoniously dumped him to walk off his wounds. Kalda had been knocked out, and the boy taken. After a moment’s consideration, Francesca’s fellow denizens shrug it off. It is probably nothing. Poor kid, but it’s not like he is that important, right?
Attack on the tower

The time has finally arrived for our merry band to take on the tower. Why? To defend the good night’s sleep of an old man on Fisherman’s Row. Just doing our job, ‘mam. Everyone prepares in their own esoteric ways. Francesca gives praise and prayer to Theba. Thaddeus procures healing salves from the various swamp vegetation, possibly for recreational purposes, while Rand struggles with inner daemons and also proceeds to combine spells in ways they probably was never intended to be combined. Lynn, when she is not muttering at shadows, gives Amelia another round of face-paint, thinking that nothing is more important than the safety of the child. It is next suggested that when the assault on the tower commences, Amelia join the team who intend to scale to the top of the tower and infiltrate their way down form the inside. Nobody thinks to notify Sanctuary Children’s Services.

When the time comes to engage, the party splits. Lynn scales the tower with what can only be called divinely inspired nimbleness while the rest hide below. A well placed dagger disposes of one rooftop guard, while a well-placed quarrel form Francesca’s trusty companion deals with the other. Amelia and Francesca then follow after upwards, while Rand and Thaddeus take up their places by the tower front door. The rest is, as one might say, history. A detailed retelling might in fact not be necessary, as it will forever remain etched in the minds of those who were there… man.

Rand huffs and puffs the doors down, and Thaddeus promptly begins to set things on fire. Things are punched, shot and burnt, while the infiltration team tiptoes their way downwards. Children are encountered, playing and giggling ominously. Dyareelan rings and masks are clearly in evidence, and the well and falling water in the centre of each floor seem highly suspicious. Interesting loot is also encountered, both in terms of glassware, religious oddities and other tat, as well as an interesting assortment of books, scrolls, pamphlets, and a ledger conveniently detailing membership and contributions to the cult. Demonic doomsday cult or no, one has to appreciate good bookkeeping.

While a fierce battle, which will forever be remembered as the Chili con Carnage, rages in the main hall, Amelia is sent as an envoy to the children above, reporting back to Lynn and Amelia that they are students of sorts, under the tutelage of those slightly older in the cult. All the adults are, it would seem, currently occupied in a highly noteworthy ceremony. The infiltration team eventually makes it down to join their fierce companions, just in time to behold an interesting sight.

Something has happened to Rand, it is clear. Not perhaps the very image of calm and tranquillity at the best of times, he appears to have turned almost demonic. His teeth are more pointed, he sweats and pants, and sores are mysteriously appearing on his face. Conventional murderous Rand appears to have been channelled into something even more so, and had it not been for the quick thinking and quicker bola of Thaddeus, who knows what might have happened.

As it turned out, what did happen was that Feral Rand (FerRand™) had his feet decisively tangled, and went sprawling unceremoniously into the central waterfall, floating down below. Where there had previously been only chanting from the basement, a great uproar sounded in response to this event, before silence fell and chanting eventually resumed. Wasting only a little time, for the sake of decency, the remainder of the group catch their breath and follow down. Through the conventional hatch, rather than the waterway.

The basement scene is one of surprising order, considering it just had FerRand crashing uninvited into it. The central waterfall contains Peter, looking surprisingly… present. Cultists are scattered around the table, as is Rand, Kaena and an unknown woman are all tied to various tables, ugly-looking knives in the hands of their attendants. Chaos follows, leaving all cultists dead, dying or knocked thoroughly out. A table containing ritualistic tat is half knocked over and half set on fire. The strange woman is dead, Kaena is half-disembowled, but Rand is thankfully unscathed. Thanks to Thaddeus’ healing hands and opiates, however, it also appears as if Kaena might live to see the end of the ordeal. She does seem to have taken to croaking more than the average person, though…

Unfortenately, although the ritual is stopped, it was not quite in time. Peter, now undeniable carrying within him Dyareela, steps slowly out of the water. The party finds this to be a good time to make their exit, giving only slight pause at the fact that the above floor appears to have flooded. Rather than return the way they came, a convenient secret passage is discovered by the sacrificial altar, and everyone, including Kaena on a stretcher, exeunt stage right.

A tense and damp scurry follows, through the damp tunnel lit only by Lynn’s little orb of light. Ominous footsteps follow in the dark, picking up speed and confidence. Gladly, however, everyone soon emerges into a clearing in the swamp. Albeit a clearing that is oddly infinite, and filled with tadpoles. As the party makes it up and takes their places for what will undoubtable be a climactic showdown, Kaena rises from her stretcher, crawls and drags herself along the mud of the clearing a lilt way, and is then promptly swallowed up by the ground. Had it not been for the imminent arrival of the goddess of all that is unpleasant, this might have produced more of a reaction from the group.

Once Petareela™ finally appears, seemingly displeased by the water of the swamp, our group of hopefuls does their best. Knives are wielded, fists are thrown and bolts fired, but nothing seems to perturb the avatar. Nothing, that is, short of the massive Toad goddess Heqt emerging from the swamp and swallowing Peter whole, in what can only be called a disturbingly fly-like fashion, before sinking back into the mud. Only Kaena, returned form the depths, are left behind, looking decidedly better than she did when she disappeared.

Breaths are caught, stocks are taken, and without much ado, our fine friends make their way back the way they came, leaving Heqt’s clearing behind, Amelia happily clutching a divine scale the size of… well, of Amelia, in fact. Although Thaddeus is clearly itching to blow the Dark Tower up once and for all, a quick session of looting is undertaken. Our friends are nothing if not brigands, thieves and scoundrels at heart.

Something is to be had for all. Francesca finds something ornate and interesting, Rand a book which might contain, quote, “the nuclear option”. The Sanctuary scientific community is still trying to decipher what the statement means. Lynn stumbles upon an oddly specific pamphlet inviting her to church, while Thaddeus picks up a variety of items, the utility of which only he might know.

The night is concluded with spectacular fireworks, and the demolition of a tower that saw more excitement in its short lifespan than most see in a lifetime. Rest in pieces. Returning to the Swamper village with not only mission accomplished, but a chosen priestess of Heqt in tow, the party is amply rewarded, and will in all likelihood forever have friends in the swamp.

All in all, a day’s work well done, and surely nothing that will ever come back to bite the company’s shared ass. If nothing else, a sense of community does appear to have grown between the group, at least a little, and there can be no doubt at all that Amelia has a new family.

Now, returning to the city wreathed in swamp and glory, what could possibly go wrong?

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Welcome to Sanctuary
In which our scoundrels make a series of increasingly questionable decisions.

Heroic Figures if You Squint

The desert wind blows hot over the faces of our protagonists, the sun beats them near blind as the heavily laden caravan plods towards it’s destination. The City of Sanctuary is not far from them, but the desert is vast and their journey has been a hard one to sum up in an atmospheric and grandiose manner. Not to mention that you’d probably have been well out of the desert at the time of this story’s beginning but it’s my geography and I’ll do what I want with it.

In the rear, riding a deeply unhappy horse (it is not a camel, it has never been a camel and it resents being treated like one. The rider had better clean this sandy crap out of its shoes or there will be whinnying the likes of which you have never fucking seen) is Lynn. A mysterious figure who prefers to remain hidden, she has chosen one of the most visible spots in the vast open area. Nothing says subtle manipulator of the shadows like riding exposed in the open atop a grumpy horse 17 hands high. No one will think to look for a hidden person in a visible place. The master of the illusory arts remains silent, however, and scans the horizon for threats and conveniently forgotten chests to open.

Pacing impatiently beside the merchant caravan is a beast of a man, laden with intricate tattoos hidden by his heavy coat, though his canonical lack of shirt makes his desire to conceal his demonic markings seem confusing. Life is hard when you unintentional end up rolling ‘Drax the Destroyer’, but Rand Vargas is a man of great power and ambition, who has learned to make peace with his lot in life. Mostly through diableric arts, but people find comfort in odd places (Don’t ask Koroboros about odd places. You will not like the discussion). His rage and violence are tempered by a sweet daughter named Amelia, an energetic child whose incessant and nonsensical questions are kindly referred to as ‘bright’ and ‘interesting’ rather than several of the more accurate adjectives on offer.

At the front of the caravan, conducting an inexplicably agreeable conversation about the merits of ocular confidence and good oral hygiene, is Francesca Il Fortuna. The woman hails from a place she cannot pronounce, though given her name that seems unlikely. A woman of subtle beauty and less subtle interpersonal élan, Francesca is a rare creature in this land: a complete innocent. Why, you could catch her with the knife in her hand and she’d still be offended at your suspicion. This enchantress wanders through cities buoyed by her great skill in the ancient magical arts of total self-delusion. It is a powerful force that has birthed many famous heroes, and got them killed quite soon after.

Within the Caravan, comfortably shielded from the cruel sun, is Thaddeus Sinclair. A man of many talents as long as they involve wanton destruction. Armed with Helga, his one true love, Thaddeus has travelled the surface of the known world with an expression of chagrin and the rubble of his last enterprise still clinging to his clothes. Thaddeus is an unfailingly loyal man, so long as other people are doing the heavy lifting, and he and his crossbow have been in a committed relationship for many years. They were thinking of getting an armoury and retiring to the country, but Thaddeus really wanted to make a final go of that burgeoning criminal enterprise he knew was within him. Love is compromise.

Give No Quarter! Just All Your Possessions!

Upon their arrival at Sanctuary’s first guard post, the ‘Captain of The Third Tower’ and his associates commit vigorous hospitality on our adventurers. They decide to take the path of least resistance and hand over all their worldly possessions before they enter an expensive city full of thieving murderers. Talented combatants these fortune-hunters may be, but blood is hard to get out of clothing, especially when it might be your own.

Thaddeus doesn’t approve of any fight where his enemy isn’t perched upon a trap of his own design, Lynn doesn’t like the foolish tactic of having to look into the faces of her victims, and Francesca is — not cut out for this sort of thing.

Only Rand showed any signs of resistance, the hot-blooded mage was spoiling for a fight and displayed such behaviour by remaining atop his deeply grumpy horse in the line-up, as is the way of his people.

With everyone being flat broke and no longer in possession of weapons, our story starts.

A decision is quickly made to break into the guard tower and steal back their valuables, as well as some turpentine for their merchant friend Yosef, whose merchandise has been slapped with a ‘contraband’ marker. Lynn takes off into the Bazaar to scout the area, Thaddeus and Francesca go into the Maze in search of a tavern where they might stay, Amelia is left in the dubious care of Yosef, and Rand goes off to get wood.

Lynn quickly assesses various key entry points and potential guard posts, and notices something interesting about the movement of the guards.

Thaddeus and Francesca travel deep into the maze in search of a cheap tavern, buildings collapse and people begin to converse, but they are focused on their destination and pay them no mind. Francesca notices something interesting about the houses and businesses in the area. Rooms at ‘The Vulgar Unicorn’ are acquired.

Rand fails to get wood, and wanders back in search of his friends.

Amelia has been redecorated slightly, but the party pay her little mind. The scoundrels construct a viable plan with a system of distractions. There is brief discussion of how they might cover their tracks, but it vanishes with the pressing need of a smoke-bomb. Thaddeus is quick to oblige and quick to provide a hands-on chemistry lesson for young Amelia.

She is once again left in the care of the merchant, the intricacies of childcare forgotten in the face of loot.

Rand manages to get wood.

A Heist By Any Other Name

Our intrepid bunch of rascals (who really need a name) approach the back entrance of Tower 3, and fling a subtle smoke-bomb into the centre of the market square, causing chaos. The lone guard at the rear entrance races to aid his fellow guardsmen in the fight, but is laid out by a highly effective but unnecessary arm to the throat. Lynn hands her pick pocketed keys to Thaddeus and Francesca, who stand about nervously by the door as Rand and Lynn consider how to ensure their needlessly ruined anonymity.

It is eventually decided that the best course of action is to kneel on his throat, weave the spear between his legs, and pierce his heart. As there is no way to pierce a heart with a spear and actually make it look like you tripped, they left the poor guard face down in the dirt.

After stealing through the tower and stealing all of their items back, the group happen upon a pitiful looking boy in a cell. His companion is dead, and he is likely headed that way soon. The boy calls himself ‘Peter’, and he drifts into what must be a more preferable state of unconsciousness.

Though Rand decided that the boy was no business of theirs, Francesca and Thaddeus insisted on carrying the young man out of the cell and away with them. By some miracle, as though all of the guards totally failed to succeed on their dice roll of fate, they managed to carry the boy into the depths of the Maze, and secreted him in their rooms.

While Thaddeus and Francesca attend to the boy, Lynn and Rand are far more interested in a ring they procured, with a strange twisted face adorning it.

Amelia has been banished from the rooms and told to go play in the corridor of the most dangerous tavern in the Maze, so that the sight of the wounded boy and her father’s demonic consultations not traumatise her.

It is fair to say, that the day did not go as planned.

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Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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