Fate Comes to Call

Dakras, the Uncaring One Part 1
What If Scenario #2

“After a few years of the rise of Maximilian to godhood, I’ve been traveling around the realm to see what happened to my former companions after our last venture with each other. Have they strayed off the path of justice and soaked themselves in tides of darkness? The second companion I’ve had my eye on during our travels is a mortician named Dakras. I’ve heard some rumors about undead emerging from a forest at a nearby village. I shall make preparations immediately to see the fate of the necromancer, now only known as “The Lord of the Hills” by some. Indeed that title fits for the recently arisen Necromancer King. I must be careful." – Antonio, The Grateful Dead

Sitting on his throne, contemplating what to do today, is a hooded man who wears a worn crown. The crown has seen better days, once opulent and filled with the brim to jewels. But now the radiance has faded away, now decorated with only the blackest of jewels. Down these empty halls, all you can hear is the occasional hum of this man.

“What to do about that dreadful dragon? His influence is slowing spreading and that visage is a mockery for all I’ve worked up for. Hmmmm. Damn you, Max. Always a thorn in my side.”

The hooded man slumps in his chair, collapsed like a pile of bones. He lets out a big sigh, a rare sign of emotion from Dakras.

“I’ll wait it out. I have all the time in the world, just like him. Besides, he’s out there in his city and I’m in my tomb.”

Another noise stirs through the stone halls. Sounds of something running. Eventually, a big skeletal figure emerges into the main hall. Dakras gets out of his slump and fixes himself to a much more comfortable position.

“Are the premises clear of adventurers, my Skeletal Champion?”

The skeleton nods from left to right.

“What do you mean we’ve been breached?”

The skeleton champion shrugs.

“Well, who are our invasive visitors?” Dakras pauses a bit. “Never mind. Lemme see them. Bring the Orb.”

The skeleton champion hurries down one of the numerous hallways and grabs a translucent orb. The orbs glows and displays a image of a band of four people entering into the tomb.

“One of them looks like a cleric, the other a barbarian from the tattoos. Hmmm. One of them seems to be a wizard, but the fourth person looks to be a bard. There’s no rogue though. Hmmm.”

Dakras puts his hand on his chin, revealing the necromancer’s pale skin and long and unkempt hair.

“Ready the cart. They’re not gonna survive long in here I’m afraid.”

The noises of screams can be heard from the orb. The orb reveals the pincushioned remains of cleric. The rest of the group runs away and screams in fear.

“At least this time it was short. Go and fetch me that body. Put it in the lab like the rest.”

The skeletal champion hurries to the remains of the cleric. After a few moments, the champion returns and with the cadaver in questions and goes to the side room. Dakras gets up from his throne and proceeds to his necromancy lab. Within the lab, a pile of adventurers are next to a table. Dakras sighs.

“If only those backwater idiots would stop filling adventurer’s heads with the idea of an evil lich residing here. I’m still breathing first of all. Second, I accidentally let one of my undead be seen and the whole village freaks out. Third, I’m doing this in the name of self defense. This is my home after all. They’re trespassing. They don’t read the signs I put in front of the tomb.”

He mumbles more words before uttering a few magic words and cutting his arm with a knife. A few hours later, an amalgamation of body parts come tumbling out of the door.

Dakras walks out using Thanifex, his magical scythe as a walking stick.

“Yawwwwwn. That’s enough work for today. Tomorrow is another day with the same old stuff.”

Dakras heads to his bed chamber and lays his body to rest.

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Ice and undeath
The rise of a new King?

Gentle reader occasionally I wonder what it was like when humanity was pushed so far into oblivion that they embraced the necromantic arts during the Orc wars. Was it at all unsettling to see friends and loved ones brought back from the realm of death to fight once more? How long did it take them to get used to the idea? To embrace it? When did they know that they had gone to far?

I find myself asking these questions anew after our battle at the village of Greenway.

The smoke we had spotted on the horizon was as we all feared, the town of Greenway. It lay under siege by a combined host of Goblins and Bugbears. A cloud of arrows blotted out the sun at our arrival. I wish I could say that this was a “embellishment” of the story, but my comrades in arms would back up this claim. We quickly rushed forward, taking several serious wounds in the process. The ice storm spells I have learned in our time of respite were used to full effect, keeping the ballista from firing into the village upon its harried defenders Our new illusionist friend used his power to good effect. The holy warriors Unicorn seemed to enjoy trampling upon the foul attackers, but it was the undertaker that drew the most attention.

And the cause of my concern.

The tales and stories of the Necromancer Kings are the oldest in mankind’s recorded history. The early successes in the Northern Reaches against the Orc hordes in “humanities last stand” are filled with both hope and wonder. A mere five years later, with not even all the Orcs driven back into their lairs the hope and wonder was no more.
The first Necromancer King crowned himself “Lord over all” two years later.

The next two hundred years was the darkest in human history.

Is our undertaker companion the next to attempt to crown himself King? Seeing the power he wielded outside the walls of this flyspeck of a village today I can’t help but wonder if the answer to this question might be yes.

The countermeasures I work on to prepare against him and his possible corruption need to be accelerated.

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The flight upriver

I remember a time gentle reader when I swore that we should never venture upon a boat again after that miserable journey from the old world to the new. Since that time it would seem that we are cursed to travel anywhere important on some sort of watercraft of one sort or another. We even have a boat of our very own! At least this time the journey should be a short one.

We solved a small issue with our keep not being built. By small I mean not being built AT ALL. That was less than optimal. It turns out my time spent researching my new powers have revealed several things that I missed in the last few months. Mostly remembering to cut a deal with the local leader of people who specialize in finding things that “fall off of boats” or “trinkets and bobbles that go missing from M’ladies jewelry box.”.

Madam Eva would be sorely disappointed in me I’m sure.

In short, we agreed to work with the local expert on all things nefarious. I like him and his enterprise. It is extremely impressive. Not to mention deadly. It would be unwise for any of us to disappoint him.

Our first task for this man involved revealing a new cult in town. It should surprise no one that there are plenty of them in Siendart. But this is the only one that I know of dedicated to Orcus here. I hope we made the right choice leaving the task to take care of them to the local “professionals”. Perun decided not to go with us on our journey, maybe he can help them with it.

Sigh…Here we go again. There has been a report of heavy smoke on the horizon where the town should be. Why am I not surprised?

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Jolias the Gambler 2: Electric Boogaloo
The Time I Threw a Bunch of Blue Chips at the DM

One curious encounter after another. Such is the life of the Warpriest Jolias. After a trial of fortitude with LeBlanc, it was time to move on with business again.

But first, Axe and Julianna have a meeting with LeBlanc for a simple spar. Should be fun to watch. Besides, Jolias wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt during their friendly duel. Knowing his reputation, this should prove to be entertaining.


LeBlanc proceeds to kick Axe’s and Juliannah’s ass in their spar——

Well, Axe proved to be a better duelist than I thought. I must commend him for lasting for so long. Juliannah on the other hand,…. needs some work to be done. But now, it’s time for business. I prayed to my god for a Scrying spell for possible attacks by cultists of Orcus. I divined that Cirrost, a noble’s house in Fiveport, and another location were going to be attacked within the next week. I went along with Antonio and Dakras to the Court of the Rogue to present this information. Upon looking at this shady opulence, I spotted a bazaar. I went to go purchase some items that may be beneficial on my journey. Antonio spotted something that he wanted. He could’ve stolen it but I saw firsthand what they do to thieves down here. The item he wanted was some sort of amulet worn by a gentleman at a gambling table. Antonio found me and gave me a proposition.

“Oh Jolias. I need a favor for you and your penchant for gambling.”
“What scheme do you plan to involve me in this time, Antonio?”
“Well, I just need you to win at the gambling tables for an item I want. You see that glimmering trinket over there? I need you to make that man bet on that item.”

Jolias continues to stare down Antonio, attempting to piece together some sort of alternative motive that his gypsy friend has kept hidden.

“Fine, Antonio. I’ll play for your item, just on one condition. You pay for the entry fee.”

Antonio complies, giving Jolias a music box from their time in Ravenloft. Jolias sits in the chair surrounded by six other experienced gamblers, all wizened folk. The dice game appears to be some sort of alternative form of the game “BS.” Players roll six dice and keep it hidden from other players. The players, then announce the sum of the dice, whether it was the actual sum or a lie. The game involves poker faces and bluffs, trying to see through other players’s lies. Jolias puts the music box in the house pool and proceeds to win the first round with ease (In real life, Austin threw 4 blue chips at Andrew to have a chance of winning.) The second round was much different. A mysterious benefactor approached Jolias.

“You’ve seem to have a real knack for gambling. I’ll make you a deal: make that man across from you bet that sack he has and I’ll support you with the money. All you have to do is ante up 100 gold and I’ll provide the rest.”

Jolias looks at that the sack the man mentioned. It is a somewhat large grey sack, with it’s edges jagged. Probably holds some valuable stones. Jolias agrees to this proposition and antes the pot up by 100 gold. Not a second after that coin hits the table, a large indigo bag hits the table. Multiple denominations of coinage scatter everywhere ranging from gold coins to harbor coins to even a sight of a gold ingot hit the table. Jolias and all of the other gamblers put their shocked gaze onto the purple sack. Two gamblers decide to cut their losses now and leave. The third gambler looks shaken and afraid of what the game is to become. After much contemplation, he also leaves. Both marks of Jolias are still at the table and bet the target items : the large sack and the amulet. In the first round, Jolias was able to see through the sack owner’s lies (Austin threw 3 more Blue chips at Andrew.) The second round ended in a draw for neither player called another out for their value. (Threw 3 more Blue Chips.) The final round was at hand. Jolias rolled on the dice a 19 and decided to declare that as his value (threw in a blue chip for good measure.) The amulet owner was all that was left. His declared value was 21. Beads of sweat resembling pearls ran down both player’s faces. Astaroth was also very silent for the first time. No vulgarities or insults. He knew that this was serious. A trial of mental fortitude and wits was happening. It all came down to this one gamble. Will Jolias call the gambler’s bluff? If he called, would he be right or wrong? These questions plagued Jolias for the longest time. The spectators looked as if they’re waiting the answer. Jolias could’ve sworn he heard Antonio biting his fingernails (or maybe it was the hugging of his coin purse.) The two players met each other with stares. Stares consisting of respect or contempt for one another. No one really knows. Finally, an answer has left Jolias’s mouth. He calls the man on his bluff. The gambler lifts up his hands and sees that the value was 22. An uproar of cheers and screams emerges from the spectators. Antonio’s jaws drops to see the house pool consisting of his amulet, the large sack and large sum of wealth. Some thieves try to make out with Jolias’s reward but were met with various stabs from a large amount of blades, making their hands look like pin cushions. The gamblers erupts from his chair with a proclamation to Jolias

“Damn you, boy! You will pay for this! YOU WILL PAY!” After that, he storms out. The mysterious benefactor claims his large sack of coins and the target item he wanted. In the corner of Jolias’s eye, he sees the man pull out a perfectly cut diamond from the sack. He looks to Jolias, happily. He nods in respect to Jolias and his skills (BLUE CHIP THROWING SKILLS) and leaves the premises. Today was a good day for Jolias.

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Combat!

After presenting our information The Rouge as pleased as he could be and was fine upholding our previous agreement of leaving. He mentioned helping speed us along before carving something onto a penny and having it roll into his fireplace. I was slightly disappointed when we just appeared in our normal tavern.

In the morning a young boy met us an let us know our ship was ready. Upon arriving at the docks it was the same ship that we were originally taking. Then we learned the extent of the assistance we were receiving. Our passage was paid in full, and then some for early departure, and one of the mages in his employee used a wind spell to push the ship to it’s limits.

Our trip was cut from a few days down to less than one. As we approach we saw smoke over the town, and as we got even closer, an army of goblins. I do not know if they have anything else among them but if that is all then this should be easy. I do hope that I get to do a bit of experimenting here.

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An Introduction to the Party
For the Newbies

So, you’ve joined our little group. You’ve definitely proven yourselves, but you also haven’t seen us going all out in the thick of it, so I figure I should spend some time introducing you all to your new teammates, their skillsets, and how to best work with them.

General Tactics: We are admittedly not the most coordinated group of adventurers. Unless we really need to focus in on something dangerous we tend to deal with a situation as individuals, but you still need to know what everyone can do and what kind of situations they can handle. Just make sure you listen to us when we warn you of threats and things to stay away from. Don’t get cocky. We’re badass, that doesn’t make us immortal. If you have something to contribute to the situation, speak up. You both have skills that we don’t have, and your input could potentially be the difference between success and failure. A few other notes: If you have some kind of area of effect attack, try not to hit the ravens (or us for that matter, but sometimes it’s the best option. A good rule is that Julianah and I can probably tank whatever you’re throwing out, and Antonio is good at dodging.) You might also want to pick up a few other weapons, or at least different ways to damage someone. Jack, I think you’re fine on that front, your weird magic sword thing seems like it can do a bunch of different things. Rhoshyr, I get the impression that you mostly use your illusions to fight, but you might want to pick up a few different ways to hurt people that aren’t your sword.

Me: Look, I’m pretty simple compared to the rest of the group. I stick to the frontlines, try to ensure enemies are targeting me instead of the less hardy members of our group, and hit things with my axe. If you want to help maintain the frontline, sticking with me is a decent idea, in most circumstances. You don’t really need to worry about me. Unless it looks like I’m about to die and Jolias is busy. Then worry about me.

Jolias: Jolias is your best friend. I don’t know if you’ve ever operated with a cleric before, but I’m sure you’ve had experience with people enhancing their allies through magic, and if you’ve done any adventuring at all I know you’ve been healed through magic. Jolias is the king of both of those things. He’ll make you faster, stronger, harder to hit, and more besides, and keep you alive while doing it. Do everything in your power to ensure he isn’t targeted by too many enemies. I’m serious about this. Jolias can definitely take a lot of punishment, he’s really, really hard to bring down, but there’s no reason to tempt fate, and if he’s got enemies beating on him he can’t afford to spend time helping us. I’m not saying he can’t handle it, I’m saying that everything goes smoother if he can do his thing without interruptions.

Julianah: Julianah is even more self sufficient than I am. She can take some punishment, and dish out even more. Let her take point on the big, evil monsters, especially the undead ones. That’s not to say you let her handle it alone— everyone can use some help sometimes. But she and I are the ones who are prepared to take a beating in this group, and if the bad guys are focusing on us then they aren’t focusing on all the casters. Don’t be surprised when she summons a Unicorn and then rides around the battlefield bisecting people. She does that, you’ll get used to it.

Antonio: This guy is one evasive motherfucker. You usually don’t have to worry too much about him, he’s tricky and is good at getting out of sticky situations, but don’t assume that means he’s always gonna be okay. If it looks like he’s pinned down or in trouble, come to the rescue, and it’s best we make sure people don’t get to him in the first place so that he can focus on casting his spells and shooting bad guys where it hurts. Oh, and when he says something about a monster we’re fighting, listen. If he says not to do something, don’t do it. If he says to use some kind of energy or tactic, use it. It tends to work out for the best. Oh, and if we’re in some evil lair or dungeon or tomb, let Antonio lead the way— he’s an exceptional trapfinder, and we really don’t need someone losing a leg because they ran off ahead to grab something shiny.

Dakras: Dakras is our primary arcane caster, which means he can pull off some shit that will make you question reality. Mostly, he weakens opponents, but he has a ton of other tricks he can use. Just like Antonio, you should listen when he gives you intel about an opponent. You should also try to make sure people stay away from him, since while I doubt most opponents would be able to kill him it’s better if he’s able to cast without interference. If you run into something that seems particularly strong, Dakras might be able to bring it down closer to your level, so if he’s not doing anything particularly important let him know.

Max: I don’t think you two will be operating with Max anytime soon but it’s best you know about him. Max is a lightning mage, and one of the most powerful ones I’ve ever seen. He tends to fling around giant lightning bolts. He is surprisingly hardy, but he is way better at magic than he is at normal melee combat. If he says get out of the way, get out of the way. Don’t think, just do, or you will likely be vaporized.

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Contemplation and despair

Gentle reader, I scribe this missive not knowing if my avid readers are even getting these words in my intended destination. We have received dire portent here in the new world of the troubles that plague the old. I tried to not let it affect me at first, but as the months have passed, I realize now just how much I have neglected my journal entries.

Much has passed since we returned from the realm of my ancestors. We decided to build a keep close to five port. This has been a massive undertaking that somehow required my taking an active everyday role in overseeing its construction. If I had the foresight to ensure that more of my people were involved in its building, I might have made more of a profit from this undertaking. Sadly I have been so involved with my research of late that the thought of that source of additional profit never even crossed my mind. Madam Eva would scold me severely for the oversight I’m sure.

My research…What to say about it? A source of power? A revelation? An insight into the true nature of the worlds around us? All
of this? Or just meaningless whispers in the dark? I don’t know, but as I spend another night in quiet meditation on the broken chunk of stone from Castle Ravenloft
its quite whispers reassure me that I am on the right path.

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Pressing matters

Recently we have been caught up in a conspiracy. As it turns out our building misfortuames are the result of the leader of the Five Port underworld, The Rouge. The existence of such a secret society shouldn’t have come at such a surprise, after all I experienced a few back in the old world. The difference is that back then my mentor handled all of the navigating and dealings, while I followed along and carried any purchases.

Anyway, The Rouge presented us a mission to make up for ignoring his calls. There is another group encroaching who are less subtly and more willing to get violent. He wishes for us to conduct an investigation upon the other group as his own has had limited success. In exchange we will be exempt from further “taxes”.

We have set to work investigating, putting off the request from the church. I had given my companions a ln estimate on how much time I think we could spare before departing, but now fear I may have overestimated.

One of the recent pieces of evidence we found points towards a cult of Orcus being responsible. This may be pure misdirection but it puts me on edge. It could be possible that these events are set up to distract us from the church. If the group is truly a cult of a dark God it is entirely possible they have been contracted by another to delay us one way or another.

I must voice my concerns to the group as soon as possible. We have already gather suitable evidence to turn in and agreed with The Rouge that we can depart and resume after if need be.

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Report 14th and 15th of Ready'Reat

Report 14th of Ready’Reat
Antonio, Dakrus and Axe showed up late after being held back. It caused some concern when I received the initial message, but everything turned out for the best. Of course they managed to find themselves in some sort of secret black market.

Jolias and Roshear accompanied me to the docks to escort the supplies. I saw signs of obvious ambush, but the intell I had at the time told me that was only to be expected; a messenger from whatever dark underworld they stumbled on was to make contact, and that seemed like a sort of look out for that sort of thing. Lesson learned – when there’s signs of an ambush, be prepared for an ambush even when told otherwise.

As a way of thanks to LeBlanc, I went out to lunch and dinner, with plans to spar later. While I’m sure this man is interested in me, I can’t quite afford to be standoffish or refuse pleasantries as long as they are harmless – such an important man of great standing (who’s the personal Second of the Rogue I’m told) is quite an important ally to have as our small group emerges into the Five Port scene.

Besides, he seems nice enough – what’s the harm?

Report 15th of Ready’Reat
Here’s to hoping this investigation concludes quickly. A cult targeting the wealthy would not be so troubling if it was just simple theft, not murder or kidnapping. While our mission from the Church of Soldral should take priority, I can see why we need to eliminate this cult ASAP.

We found out the deity they worship, we found a scrap of clothing and a paintbrush used to mark their targets. Hopefully with these finds, we can wrap this up as soon as possible.

Perhaps we can scry them, or perhaps we can set an ambush. Either way we have to be careful: we can’t really afford to get into any legal trouble in town with our keep still underway.

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The Greatest Battle Between Man and Bird Jolias Has Witnessed

My gods, I don’t know what I could have described very clearly but it was something to behold! Did I see gods in mortal form?! Did I find enlightenment?! Did I behold something so primordial it’s hard to describe?! No. What I witnessed was a contest of determination and perseverance taken form in a drinking contest between Leo LeBlanc, a fascinating swashbuckler, and my celestial raven Astaroth. It all just started out with a night of jubilant drinking between two new friends. LeBlanc invited me to come and partake some drinking with some of his associates and friends. However, my bird sensing the weak and defenseless livers of all around him berated the men to take up a simple drinking challenge. Those who wanted their pride intact, including LeBlanc, partake in this challenge. I participated to see if LeBlanc and his friends can hold their liquor. At first sips, no one was hindered and was determined to beat the fowl beast at it’s own game. However, after that first drink, we all foolishly stayed for it was the point of no return. After the third drink was consumed, we soon separated the wheat from the chaff for those with weak will and livers. After the sixth drink, it’s when the remaining men dropped dead as if someone ran them through with a bladed weapon. Poor men on their knees, with their hands over their stomach, begging for mercy. Some of them were lucky enough to pass out on the table immediately. Only two of LeBlanc’s associates were alive while Astaroth and LeBlanc look revitalized after each drink of liquid courage. I was still in the race. I will not give up. After a couple of more drinks, LeBlanc’s friends ceased to exist in the race. It was just the three of us. LeBlanc’s piercing gaze focused on the bird. The bird’s crimson soaked eyes focused back at LeBlanc. My eyes quickly flipped back and forth to the two contestants, eventually mustering back the strength to finish my own cup. However, after this one, I saw a brilliant light in my eyes. I cover my hand and see through the oaken windows and realized it was dawn. With that last sight, I abstained from drinking and see the last two participants struggle. Astaroth, fir the first time, looked as if he didn’t want to drink anymore. The same with LeBlanc. With the sun’s radiance shining on them, they knew that one of them had to fall. Astaroth takes his sip, LeBlanc looking with anticipation to see that the bird falls.

“My god, I’ve know no bird to drink this much. But alas, I will not be bested by a bird!”

LeBlanc slowly takes a drink. Astaroth mirroring the same expression of anticipation. LeBlanc did not fall. Astaroth takes one more drink. However, Astaroth’s eyes rolled up. The bird spread it’s wings and fell beak first on the table. LeBlanc takes one more drink to best the bird. If he can do it, he will win! Alas, one more sip and the master duelist falls unconscious. The cup rolls from the table and with an alarming thud, it rolls. The table looks like if it was some sort of battlefield. Lifeless corpses as far as the eye can see. People slumped over, lying prone on the floor. A massacre of livers has occurred.

Seeing this spectacle of determination was glorious. The master duelist and the “immortal” raven both fall at the same time. Their endless pride driving them to insane lengths. As I contemplate this, I draw my last breath and my vision goes black. It’s time for the eternal sleep. Well, until someone wakes all of us that is.
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