RoundTable Adventuring

Tomoe's Journal, 15

Gods… damned… spiders.

I never figured that Varro and I would see eye to eye, but here we are, the only two halflings, and I think we have an understanding: we need to never face those spiders. Period.

Barring that, we need a plan. How does one fight spiders, anyways?

Roukan seems a little more chatty than I remember, but I think he may be tired of only having me to talk to… and probably is still irritated by my size. I suppose I’m lucky that he seems to understand it more than some of the others, but it doesn’t mean he’s condoning my eating, either… ah, what a mess.

Still, we did well in our fights, and I feel that we might have a real chance… but those spiders came out. Brr… I just KNOW they’re going to go after me! Master of Masters, this is a nightmare! And here I am, waddling around, eating food non-stop… Watching that fight gave me nightmares.

I shall need to prepare myself to fight against such foes… I feel that I won’t be lucky enough to fight in such favorable conditions as the last challenge going forward, especially since the spiders made use of webbing… then there were the rumors of a change to the arena…

Is it any wonder I’ve been stress eating?!

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Rhork #4

I must admit i am a little in awe of this place. all these people and competitors shows how large the world truly is. it will be difficult to get a proper rest tonight as i am filled with the energy of this place, it is almost palpable the excitement among the contestants. Varro especially is almost vibrating with the desire to test his mettle against all these people from across the world. I understand that a great treasure is to be made available to those who conquer all comers in this tournament. while i am intrigued at this thought, it is of little importance to me personally, as just being here and given the chance to see and watch and fight all these mighty powers is invigorating enough for me. For now i will simply bask in the atmosphere and look forward to the events of tomorrow.

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Screech #2

Demon, Daemons,and Devils. I suppose being on another quest to fight the denizens of the lower planes is not a bad thing. Many paladins would relish being in the fights that i have. Crushing evil and saving the multiverse. (I still dont see why that witch wouldnt shut up about me not helping these Arodin idiots. She doesnt seem to realize that good people can do evil things or that there may be unintended consequences.)

But it seems all that Im doing is destroying. And even if Im destorying things that deserve it, it would be nice to create something for once. To be able to see the fruits of my labor. . .

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Tomoe's Journal, 14

=The following page has a severe slant and the ink has spurted several times; it is obvious it was written with a lot of pressure on the pen. As normal these days, food debris litters the page as well=
Gods-damned Gretchen and her gods-damned spell and everything! This is a DISASTER! And of course she can’t be bothered to actually check and make sure her little schemes actually worked since she got access to that gods-damned archive; how dare she simply ignore this!! I thought I’d be able to deal with things since she polymorphed me out of the gods-damned sphere I’d become, but I’m getting fatter even faster than before!

=(she trails off into a bunch of Tien words, likely swearing by the interspersing usage of a variety of gods’ names (particularly Aria’s) within)=

I think she knew. I think that girdle she fitted me with was part of it; it keeps growing with me! Or she screwed up the spell; everything’s making me hungry now, and I’m overeating to the point of throwing up a lot more often, which is just… this is a disaster! My throat’s always raw, and then I feel like I’m starving when I take even a few hours away from food for it to recover… I don’t even know if I’ll be able to fight by the time we get there! I gained steadily as we traveled to Almas, then got so big on that interminable boat ride to Goka that I’d outgrown my gods-damned robe again by the time we stood upon the sands of the stadium! I’m sure it’s this girdle!

=It seems that she removed it following this=

Okay, maybe not… she had said it would help me move nimbly; as soon as I took it off I started having trouble even bending at the waist. Those three hours out of it trying to meditate didn’t help either; I could only think about food. I… she says she can’t find the “thread to pull” to understand what’s happening to me, and that all attempts to figure it out are failing…. damn it. I don’t know what to do. I’m so worried these days, and I can’t tell if she’s actually researching this with all of that soul research or if she’s just indulging some other perversion. Damn her.

That girl from the Aspis group, too… I’m going to need to keep my head. If I can’t control my eating I’ll at least have to control my reactions to the jabs of others; losing control of my anger in such an event could spell disaster for our chances at succeeding here. If my opponents think me to be the weakest among the group from my appearance, I must surprise them with my skill, instead.

And of course, gods-damned Rhork. Things are so easy to “understand” from the outside, but I see zero attempt on his part to understand what I’m going through. At least he stopped trying to starve me… ohhh, I’d forgotten how much I disliked his company!

And then there’s that whole thing with Amarro, which is what made me want to do this in the first place! Gretchen says they met me in that archive, then he says that I did… something, and is now being as awkward as I always am! I couldn’t get a damned straight answer out of him! He’s acting all weird… oh gods, why me?? Does nothing turn out?? Am I doomed to just live life as the butt of some massive joke?! And speaking of massive butts…!!

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Amarro #17

this job started out weird, but that threw me for a loop. i can understand how someone could build a secret lair underneath the Hall of Cayden Caiylen, drunk fools probably wouldn’t notice a secret lair in their main hall let alone underground. But then what the hell was Tomoe doing down their? let alone how the hell she got there before us.

and something was weird about Tomoe too, i’ve never heard her sound so…. inviting… it was completely unlike her. But when she asked me…. all i could see was my little Delaana.

something is definitely not right here, and if it’s using Tomoe against her will then nobody is going to get any second chances here. i’m not losing her again.

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Amarro #something

Fuck that bird and his Fucking magic cards….

Okay, Maybe i’m being a little vindictive, but what the hell am i supposed to do when the first card that comes up in that damned harrow reminds of that… Thing we found in Droskars Crucible. Just what i needed to be thinking about when heading back to Falcons Hollow.

damn i thought we’d never have to go back there. probably the exact reason that The Kid set up whatever sick game he’s planning there, uncomfortable memories for everyone.

At least I wasn’t the only one to ask about what the cards said about the future of this problem, although maybe I should have. nothing good came out of any pull from the deck for anyone. sounds like there might be a few empty seats at the Table after this. suffice to say if my reading was anywhere near true, if some of us don’t come back they certainly won’t be staying all by their lonesome. The Kid thinks that he’s holding all the cards in this game, an no matter how powerful he may have become with whatever has happened to him, he doesn’t know the size of the hive he’s just kicked open. Fighting a battle against devils, undead and an entrenched enemy is the whole reason i had to leave home. Hopefully this time it goes better for me and those around me, but i know that this time i won’t lose. We might not survive, but we won’t lose.

I’m coming for you Kid, and if you leave me no choice then i’ll fix my mistake with you any way I have to.

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Carrock's Private Log 5

1-Today was a day of surprises. This morning, while I groomed in preparation for the day’s work at the temple, The Lady impressed upon my spirit the memory of my time with the guild in Falcon’s Hollow, seemingly out of nowhere. I was somewhat parched and grumpy after the drinking I’d done the night before, so I pushed aside the idea, but Hollin entered with some mail and I was surprised by the coincidental nature of the events; it seemed that the moment contained a warning. I was unable to place the significance though, and I think that, in a moment of weakness, I determined that it was a simple coincidence, so I finished my prep, thanked the lad, and went out to the street for the day’s work.

Falcon’s Hollow. I hadn’t thought about those events since they happened, despite constantly being reminded of them because of my living circumstances, but they’d truly changed the course of my life. After all, why would I live in Oregent if not for the guild and that adventure? Regardless, I found myself thinking of the asset I’d tapped to solve the Drazmorg Question… I wondered if I should perhaps return to the town. After all, she had mentioned the removal of the Lumber Consortium (and were they ever ruffled in Oregent about that outcome!) and reported a complete success… I considered taking Hollin and going to see the place, as I’m sure he would like to see his sister again, but ultimately decided that it may still be too soon.

Upon gaining the street while ruminating such ideas, I ran into the aforementioned asset. She had left the Yamabushi monastery outside of Falcon’s Hollow following the work she’d helped me with and had since joined the guild officially, so I actually would have to consider her a peer instead of just hired help; after all, she was one of the founding members. Regardless, I was taken aback at the change: she waddled hastily up the street, immensely fat – almost spherical in shape! – and desperately out of breath, wheezing and puffing as though that very moment would be her last, calling out to me to stop (likely because she was desperate for me to not start off and require her to run more). I was stunned for a moment while she leaned against me to catch her breath, begging I wait for just a moment, gasping and puffing like a grounded fish. Noticing a slightly crumpled note in her hand, I thankfully remembered my manners and bid her come into my apartment for a drink and to recover her strength.

At this, the hedge witch I’d asked to conduct the arcane investigation into the asset’s deteriorating condition emerged from the crowd and strode toward her charge, looking quite cross. She scolded the spherical halfling woman for running out from their shared accommodations without warning and making her worry.
“I take it this is your doing?” I gestured at the obese girl and shook my head, “I had something else in mind when you offered to take care of her; I hope you are at least doing something beyond feeding her.”
The monk frowned, her round face still flushed from her hustle, and the witch smiled coyly, pinching the small woman’s chubby cheek and purring,
“Don’t worry, dear bird, I’ve made sure her every need is being met.”

I gestured to the stairs to my apartment, and the halfling began to ascend. I stopped the witch quickly though, as she made to follow her puffing and groaning charge.
“How goes the study of her condition?” I asked, referring to the monk expressing to me a theory that her former master had cursed her (though upon finding no magical auras upon her, I had turned over the study of that possibility to the witch at her volunteering some weeks ago).
“Mmmm, it’s in the… experimentation phase?” she mused, following the pitiful thing with her eyes and smiling wider.
I sighed. The morning’s work would be delayed; I hoped my clients would understand. We followed the monk.

As she ate some cakes Savram brought out, the monk gave me the very letter she had clutched and I was informed that Gretchen (the witch) had heard that several members of the guild had received similar letters last night. I recalled pursuing our mysterious delivery man to no avail as I looked over the crumpled envelope, but was annoyed to find it already opened. I glanced at Gretchen as I drew the paper out, and she fluttered her eyelashes at me and smiled, attempting to look innocent. Does she make a habit of taking and opening mail not addressed to her? I must get sensitive mail sent to my residence or the church in the future, I think. The asset continued, stating that she wanted to come with me to investigate, because of her membership in the monastic order up on the mountain and her concern for their safety, and that of the townsfolk. At this, Gretchen broke in, saying that she would not allow Tomoe (the asset) to go, stating that, in her current shape, she would be lucky if someone would roll her there, let alone attempt to walk. Tomoe then spoke up with some agitation, intoning that her condition was largely the witch’s fault, but I was too busy reading the letter to pay any further attention.

It was written in alchemically-treated blood. It was also from a young male human who I’d adventured with several months ago, the paladin Leon. I recalled that his reserved chair at The Round Table was constantly empty since I had joined; I hadn’t seen him for quite some time, possibly since before the guild was established with the registrar.

Regardless, he was inviting me to return to Falcon’s Hollow, to face him in some sort of… contest? He then insulted The Lady and kind of… ended the letter, and in my mind’s eye, I suddenly saw him laughing maniacally; what I was reading was an absolutely ridiculous idea. I have no quarrel with him. I was prepared to disregard the boasts, thinking the lad had gone mad when he’d gone missing, but The Lady’s subtle warning just earlier that morning came to mind, so I looked at it again in greater detail. While I am not prone to being so easily provoked, his threats against the town did concern me, for the obvious reasons of his stated “new power” and the blood he’d written in… I considered why he would ask me, besides the fact that we’d known each other. I would ask at the guild, though I had my suspicions.

At this the arguing reached such heat that the name “Amarro” was said and some scuffling broke out, and I looked up to see Tomoe attempting to strangle Gretchen, clutching at the witch while held at arm’s length by the taller tiefling, her flabby arms barely able to extend beyond her body, let alone reach the tiefling. I sighed. While I fully supported the idea of the obese halfling not coming along for this mission; the mission itself presented problems on a larger scale. I would need to return to the guild and speak with Amarro myself. I stated such and rose, moving to collect my gear and weapons, and the women stopped grappling each other, apparently surprised at the sudden action. Tomoe hesitantly spoke in as I strapped my weapons, mentioning that Gretchen had just told her that Amarro was also going, and that she would feel better if she knew someone as reliable as me would be along… she followed with a twofold request to return the favor she’d done me; I turned at her tone and saw her severe expression, her fat arm up and displaying two extended fingers: I must look into the state of the Yamabushi monastery, and look after Amarro. I guess she looks up to his obvious leadership qualities or something. Gretchen, meanwhile, seemed to be stifling a giggle, her face contorted with amusement at the serious aspect worn by the halfling. As I strapped on my weapons I stated that I fully intended to do so… the guild needed him, after all.

As I searched for my katana (it had been a week since last I had used it!), I requested any more recent information from her about her previous visit, but she proved… less helpful there. She stated that the paladin had gone missing when they returned to the town, and she’d not been able to find him when she put some individuals named Mikhail and Wilhelm to rest upon returning to the village some months ago. She wasn’t very clear on how much effort she put into finding him on the more recent visit, but it was clear from where she used to find him upon patrol (the pancake house “Jak’a’napes”, mostly) that he wasn’t in his usual haunt. I made note of it, donned my poncho, helped Gretchen ease Tomoe down the stairs (by The Lady, she was heavy; it was like lifting a barrel full of ale!), bid the women farewell, and made my way toward the guild. The day’s work would have to wait after all… the warning of The Lady meant that the situation would interest me (and interested Her) more than the lad knew. The picture was beginning to take shape, but more information would be needed before I could have a complete idea of what was happening. I figured I could make some inquiries at the guild headquarters about the similar letters, and possibly attempt an actual Harrowing. Possibly several.

The Lady states that, given the proper state of receptiveness and an appropriate level of awareness, all answers will take their shape in time. I pray I may receive one to this question quickly today at the guild: vigilance and The Lady of Graves are my deities, and they have guarded me closely upon my path toward the truth.

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Gretchen #05

I am brokenhearted. Galen was…. I’m not sure how to describe the feelings I have. I feel an intense spectrum of emotion: an accusatory rage and a heavy remorse. I tore his faith from him… well, better to say I was party to such an act, though I do not deny my place in the events that took place.

The rage is born from the reactions of my compatriots, particularly the paladin. Never have I seen such a callous and uncaring man of the cloth. I’m hesitant to say it’s because he is strix, but his hatred of humans was always clear to me. I know that paladins don’t need to embody all of their Virtues of Rule, but he seemed to possess none; being impatient, unkind, uncaring, cruel, merciless, and insincere. I hate him! I… I never thought I would feel this way about anyone but the Crows, but I do! He’s utterly in violation of his vows, and I am surprised that he maintains his powers at all!

At the same time, his actions did save the day, while mine did not. At least, as far as I know, they did. We were told all gems were needed, and deliver them he did… still, at what expense? I’m not sure how to process this. Nobody seemed to care; I’m unsure if I am right in feeling my regret: Varro was indifferent, as only he can be… Marrok seemed unwilling to venture an opinion, possibly because of the severe disrespect he receives from the others. The only other was the paladin…

I am so terribly remorseful because of my part in sundering the poor man’s faith, though. I do not know if such a cosmic alignment could have brought back his god, but my heart still emphatically cries no! He was receiving word from where, exactly?? He had no proof of any of his claims, though I already know enough about religious folk to know that he needed no proof. Still, I am absolutely sure that he had been led astray… if only he would have listened to me; I know all about being led astray by others, though only because I was allowed to commit my mistake! He does not know the remorse of unwittingly committing great acts of evil!

My heart goes to him even now, several days later. I weep for him; his faith shattered. I look upon his holy symbol and cannot bear the sight of his face in my memory, looking at me through the fog I had created; his complete emotional destruction writ upon his visage. Ah! I cannot stand it!

=she takes up writing a bit later, the page smudged a bit=

I must find him. I must help him. He suffers, and I know this suffering; his holy symbol fell at my feet just as his words had: “Everyone deserves a chance”. If only he knew how deep that would wound me, would he still have said it? Ah, my own feelings don’t matter; I am not the victim! I must save him from his despair; I must give him a new purpose in life and… I just… I have to do something. I cannot leave him to this fate. I must find irrefutable proof that his god would not be raised from the dead. He has incredible skills and an ability to lead, surely I could help him find another path in his life. His god stood for certain ideals, can he not instead pursue those, in light of the absence of his god? Could he not follow his god’s inheritor, the Lady of Valor?

Curse those hangers-on to his ritual! If only they had not been on hand, I would have tried to help ensure the success of his ritual, or at least would have stayed to help him in some other way… I fear that even now, they chase him across the plane, as I have been chased. They must surely be aware that none of this would have worked! Gods aren’t simply born into existence!! The outcome may have been absolutely catastrophic had he succeeded, and even if not, the influence of the others would have ensured a terrible outcome… In that respect I agree with the paladin: he was right to take their gems; such things were both necessary for our mission and dangerous in such hands. His lack of empathy is unacceptable, though. That I, a fallen, non-believing and cursed caster of the arcane should feel the most empathy in the company of so many religious men… it is unacceptable. Sure, Varro is more a believer of convenience from what I see, but still. Am I the only one who desires the peace and happiness of those who are hurt and lost? Are these militant church-men unable to care for those who need it?? Obviously that is why I practice the hedge magics, but… it just feels all wrong.

… Everything feels wrong.

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Gretchen #04

I know some gods smile upon us; clearly they do. Our current situation obviously is important enough that, while they cannot directly aid us, their help is the only clear explanation for some of the outcomes we’ve seen. As a practical, grounded mind, I am intrigued by this; I am not enough of a fool to ignore the only logical explanation, even though godly intervention is, by definition, illogical.

Some part of me knows that the daemon we faced, the one running that giant machine with those golems in the alcoves of his room, was beyond our power, but I cannot put it into words to describe how our victory happened… I know myself to be intelligent but sometimes it seems that the mind alone cannot comprehend things; indeed, the creature also seemed completely taken aback by our victory, as though he was unable to comprehend our fortune even as we killed him and unmade his victory before he could simply turn the key on it. He was of potent enough power to draw the very liquid from us without effort when we’d only just breached the barriers of his lair, killing our allies but, thankfully, none us in the RoundTable guild (I must remember to note the sacrifices of Kirrahe, Jerkins, and, uh… Vinegar Tom when we get back to the guild headquarters (if we get back, something I keep wondering)).

Still, that was literally all it would have taken; a simple activation of that which would have unmade us, I am sure of it upon examining his machine; we seemed to catch him with his pants down, as though he only needed a moment that was somehow denied him! I am humbled; the knowledge that we are in the middle of a much larger game is not comforting, as I understand how powerless I can be, but at least the fortunes have (thus far) smiled upon us. Sometimes providence throws a bone, and I will not consider it beneath me to bite it and be a part of their plan! I must only remember that sometimes their plan will demand I be ground in the very wheels of fate that I run atop…. still, even then, I will struggle. I struggle with the flow, and I may struggle against the flow.

Wow, am I becoming wiser? It feels like I possess a bit of perspective suddenly, to realize that there is a much larger picture. I’m… kind of excited by that possibility, instead of my normal reaction! This has been a learning experience! Squee! I can’t stop my excited wiggling even as I write!

… I really must take a moment and rest. Thankfully, Axis is restful, in spite of my normally non-relaxed nature.

Also of fortune, I sat and looked at all of the scrolls I was carrying and realized that yes, I did have a solution to the problem of separation from Paracelsus, but it took some abstract thinking; always a strong point. Utilizing a spell I know is normally only for hostile intent (as mother regularly used a variation on it in the past), I was instead able to bring Paracelsus to me as though he were an outsider whom I would be forcing to bend to my will and aid me, but then I simply freed him from the summon circle. It’s hard to describe but I knew what I accomplished was within the parameters of the spell, though outside of the normal uses… it’s wonderful when a solution is available, but normally not expected. I still wonder in which capacity he is with me; is he actually present or is only an aspect of him? He assures me we are together, and I suppose since I cannot myself know as I am not the one affected, I will take his word for it in lieu of being unable to experiment on him to determine whether he is currently a soul, a stand-in projection, a body missing a portion of a soul, or some other combination.

The research I collected scratches at the back of my mind, though. If I wound up looking into it, I may just find some portion of what I was able to accomplish covered within…. or perhaps not. Have I attempted (and succeeded?) what no others have? I find that unlikely; that was a known magic. Paracelsus doesn’t detect as magical or anything but that which I have always known, but arriving at the solution I have through means not normally used fills me with an anxiety that the notes “tell me” they may contain. It’s a feeling thing, not a known thing. Maybe I’m just uncomfortable with the solution working despite my assumptions to the otherwise? Maybe I should just accept it and move on, but it’s in my nature to ask why.

Perhaps time and my own research, aided by this data, will help. Obviously I’m not going to be working with souls on my time, but I may be able to do some work with this data without hitting the dark, evil stuff done to acquire it. Why waste good research, right? I mean, that stupid wizard we met at the start of all this is an example of a fool out of his depth, but I think there’s a common ground I could work from that would satisfy curiosity and morality.

Yes, I do possess a moral compass! haha….

… Oooh, speaking of which, it might even help me solve what’s going on with Tomoe… well, “solve” is a bad word; I don’t actually want it to stop, hehe… it just will be good to comprehend what’s happening so I can prevent her from being under the sway of an evil being (and no, I’m not evil!). I honestly have no idea what is happening, but I can tell it’s not entirely of her own doing; signs do point to outside influence, despite magical detection failing to provide data to back that up. Nobody gains weight that fast. Understanding her issue may help me with mine, too…

… Come on, evil soul research, solve these problems!

… Okay, time for some alcohol, I am clearly way too high-strung to be relaxing, all of this flow-of-consciousness writing and all. I should go find Varro, he always seems to have alcohol close at hand and the situation in perspective. He’s likely seen what I’ve already noted vis-à-vis what just happened and the broader picture we’ve been drawn into, so he probably also has realized just what a boon alcohol will be in the moment.

… He usually seems to feel it’s a boon in any moment.

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Gretchen #03

A family reunion would have been preferable to what happened. Separated from Paracelsus… to be honest, I’m taking this far better than I expected, though I suppose I haven’t had time to fully process what happened. Or how colossally stupid I was. I imagine next time I want to prepare spells I’ll be faced with that reality…

I’ll be frank with you, diary: Varro seems foolish. Like, dangerously unwise… my knowledge of other monks suggests that there’s a certain level of wisdom among them; they all speak in riddles and allegory, but he seems like he just kind of does… things. Maybe he’s a monk who learns with his body and not mind? Or whatever? Tomoe seems more wise than him, and that’s Tomoe I’m talking about. Little miss “I’m going to eat all of the food”.

Hm. I’m missing her, suddenly. I’ll have to get a ham for her or something when we get back. IF we get back… I hadn’t considered that things could go so wrong so suddenly. We considered contacting that halfling friend of Varro’s who Tomoe has talked about a few times herself (can’t remember his name… it seems that everyone likes him, though) with our scroll of Contact Other Plane, but cooler heads prevailed, saying we would likely get the opportunity to get something done when back on Axis. Honestly, you’d think I would have received some kind of advice from someone wiser than me, but obviously we’re all idiots. Maybe that halfling is smarter; should bring him along so I can at least see what all the fuss is about.

I think in the future I’ll do a little more magical detection. I’m sure Paracelsus won’t let me forget that. I think another problem is that I am unable to invoke any temporal magic as of yet, or at least, any of a power level required to plane shift. I’ll have to focus my studies further. I’ll try to figure out in-plane teleportation first, then move on to extra-planar travel… sigh, and I’ll need to figure out how to resurrect people too, apparently, given the general foolishness on display… Sooner is definitely better.

I think I’m just going to demand Pharasma recall him or something. She’s a damned goddess, she should be able to manage her own minions at the very least! … Barring that not working (I won’t hold my breath), I’m going to have to try something a little more potent in the arcane arts… possibly getting into the “wish” terrain.

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