4 Maalbring 1333
Thats right, my friends, employers, and whoever else might find this missive persuadingly and enthusiastically conceived!
We have sailed into a new year, and all is well. Well… it is as well as it could be under the circumstances. The team is alive, and relatively healthy. And it is now up to me, Zomos Vistis, vermani scoundrel (it is true, no matter how you slice it), to cheerfully update you upon the exploits of the team which was formerly known as Team 37, but I believe the team has been promoted to Team 24.
I have read copies of the early logs of the Faerie Master Chronicler Third Class, Ervain of Littlehollow. This rat wonders how such a small creature could be filled with so much wind! But that is neither here nor there. It seems that the pixie’s final report is missing. Whether it was lost, was never filed properly, or has been given a security rating beyond this rat’s pay-grade, is unknown. From speaking to the team, however, I have gleaned the better part of what transpired. To sum up… they infiltrated the half-orc priest Degarn’s stronghold, overwhelmed his orcish minions by making a pact with one of the rival tribal chieftains, who gave them crucial intelligence on Degarn’s whereabouts. Also, in exchange for his and his tribe’s freedom, the party was given help in getting out of the stronghold alive and unmolested, once Degarn was defeated.
Degarn was rudely interrupted in the middle of his third ritual to activate the Heart of Grakis, which failed due to the team’s meddling. Degarn and his minions were taken down, and the Dark Heart of Grakis was recovered. The team subsequently left the Laedersburg/ Stahl area, and headed for Beckridge, where they were permanently divided. The pompous Cleric Calen (not my words, but a consensus of the team) was reassigned, and the artifact was secured.
The team traveled to Archemaine where they had six months of leave, a reward for their successful mission. Unfortunately, they were called again to duty prematurely with two months left on their leave. It was for a one-night mission, working not for the Grand Expeditions Project, but for the Explorer’s Society Guildhall, who must have been caught short-handed (big surprise there). It seems a wayward Explorer named Lugizar Trantos had sold, behind the backs of the Society (another big surprise), a set of cursed monkey statues to a local (and competitive) Museum. The team, along with a newly assigned team member, a desert Al’Farai who calls himself Qasim, rooted out the troubles that were plaguing the museum, and recovered the statues for the Society. This earned them little good will with the museum, a family whose reach extends all around the world, with strong ties to the World Trade Consortium (oh goody goody), ever rivals of the Explorer’s Society.
The team was allowed to finish their planned sabbatical, and when they returned to work, they were tasked to track down the now missing Lugizar Trantos, and to discover where the ex-explorer had come by the cursed statues. Further, they were commanded to investigate their origins, and determine if there were more (dangerous or useful, I am sure,) relics to be found wherever Lugizar had acquired the monkey statues.
The team’s travels took them into Juisse (shudders), where they discovered Lugizar had been afflicted with some mental condition, and fled to the Crimson Seas, far to the south. They followed his trail to Porto Mavros, in Astypalaea, (which is where they met up with the furry yours truly). The team, with my assistance, then learned of Lugizar, during his journey south, having caused too many troubles shipboard. He, according to sailors formerly of that vessel, was left ashore on the Espanish colony of Marcina in the Midnight Archipelago. Upon Marcina, we crossed the beautiful colonial isle and discovered Lugizar had been arrested and convicted of being unruly (surely a symptom of his insanity). He was “sold” into slavery at one of the sugar plantations as his sentence. The plantation owner confessed that Lugizar’s condition made him unsuitable for field labor, and he was (out of kindness and mercy to be sure) taken to an asylum beneath a small church in a nearby town. Despite some political upheaval in that town, and the presence of the Inquisition, the team was able to rescue their explorer. Additionally, with some mighty magics given them by the GEP, Lugizar’s insanity was cured. This man’s lucidity, it seems, was greatly valued by the GEP leaders-that-be, and I took it that he was a person of great import.
Now we were off to Chuul, where Lugizar stated he had acquired the monkey statues. Ships passage was gained, but the ship was only going so far as Porto Mavros (my diggs). I helped them secure shelter once there, but they relish in attracting attention and behaving as if they were back in their Free Lands. The ruffians and pirates of this port city took note of them, and apparently a reward was offered for their capture after a lethal bar brawl (I am sticking to this story). We were indeed nearly captured during an ambush (the team was certain these cutthroats were ninjas, but this rat doubts it – I think they were pirates and thugs out for bounty). We did escape, but alas the explorer Lugizar was killed. It is amusing to me that his death was taken as a mixture of relief (they no longer had to babysit an annoying explorer – I found him a most pleasant conversationalist), and annoyance that he would not be able to lead them further onto their mission. The poor man had lost his last gift (not that I am blessed with any such holy love, being a vermani and apparently unworthy of their gods favor), and the team barely even mourned his loss. How jaded they have become. In fact, Qasim (the other non-beleiver), performed a ritual on the poor old explorer, taking a swath of flesh from the fellow (Yes, they took his human flesh from his mostly charred body, ugh), and they turned it into some sort of treasure map. They say this map will lead them to what Lugizar valued most in life, in the region of the Chuulish Expanse. We can only hope that this ploy works, otherwise… the original mission will be a complete bust. I just think of what I may have done with the cash that was spent to return the old guy’s sanity… I could retire (but where would be the fun in that?).
Passage was booked for Chuul, upon a rather unusual pirate-esque ship. The captain was a ruddy woman whose beauty was only rivaled by her fierce command over her crew. The weeks of shipboard boredom was alleviated somewhat by her presence, and the fine nature of her men. A grand celebration for the New Year took place a few days before we were to arrive in Bloodeye, or Bloodport, as it is also called. Mead and ale was shared and a good time was had by all. Thank the powers above for a few weeks of relatively safe passage, and thank Captain Maeve for her generous and lusty spirit (would that this rat had gotten more acquainted with her latter quality).
Just as we approached Bloodeye, the port Lugizar had directed us to disembark onto, the team was alerted that a wizard would be teleporting aboard the ship. This man was annoying in such a way that only a Western elitist would be capable of. It seems that the Explorer’s Society has an outpost (digsite or excavation) nearabouts the port in Chuul, that has been attacked by monkey-men, and is now under siege. We are to forgo the mission to which we were previously sent upon (for without Lugizar, it might well be futile), and undertake a rescue effort. We are tasked with bringing these Explorers supplies and weapons. A fool’s mission, according to the wizard that gave us the orders. We were informed that the Aspis Consortium (a long time nemesis of myself and a recently acquired enmity of the team in general), has a stronghold over this port city, and if they discover the presence of agents of the Society, they will thwart every effort. The Aspis consortium is a black subsidiary of the World Trade Consortium. So… this mission is distasteful, debasing, dangerous, disgusting, and we must exercise every devious means to keep ourselves below their notice. From what I have seen of this team, only the hands of gods may grant our success (and I am certain my own rat-god would have nothing to do by way of assisting us… as fickle as he is, he may just aid against us).
Well, so far is it has been decided, we plan to pose as mead merchants; the captain of our ship was graceful and kind, and sold us her shipment of mead at a fair price, and her own loss. I would also like to note at this time, that in Porto Mavros, we picked up a stray adventurer, one attractive but quiet female by the name of Smriti. She has martial training, but uses no weapons that I could see. We gave her the kukri’s we took from the assassin who tried to waylay us to the docks of Porto Mavros. This Smriti was accursed by that magical lamp they had picked up. More and more, its curse is affecting the members of our group, sucking them inside itself, in a seemingly random fashion. When this mess is over, I am suggesting that this artifact lamp of Alabic design is thoroughly tested and perhaps quarantined. It seems benign, but if one would to learn how to activate it and control it, the thing could become a potent weapon.
Well, my friends… it is a new year, and a new mission, and we step ashore presently. This city is making out to be more vile and corrupt than Porto Mavros, which means I should be right at home here. I will report again when time permits (and I feel like it).
Zomos Vistis – a vermani rogue of no significance (take THAT Ervain)