Desolis

As I hoisted my looted shields and swords onto the crafting table, word reached me that Alley, Oba and Gravedancer were in the midst of a perilous undertaking and did I want to join in the antics. I was assured there was risk to life and limb, but the reward would be well worth it.

I questioned their use of the word "reward", but when I heard the target of their escapades, my mind was immediately made up to settle an old score. The object of their scorn? The fire chicken.

A previous quest had taken me deep into Wynton’s Folly, and while I escaped with the sought after treasure of a new hat, the experience was not a grand one.

I came face to face with the fire chicken, and although he blinked first, thusly giving me the victory in the staring contest, he took the loss quite poorly and chose to set me on alight as retribution. Clearly, not the first time I’ve been set ablaze by a ne’er-do-well, but it was the first time at the hands of poultry. Not a shining moment for me. And that bird is a master of fire lighting.

However, retribution was at hand. I may have been late to the party, having to make a slight detour to Desolis, but I arrived in time to leap into the action. And leap I did.

The meat and feathers were flying that night, and although the fire chicken lashed out in all directions, the power of the bow and the might of the steel was ultimately triumphant. I have to admit, I was lulled into a false sense of security as fire chicken threw himself to the ground and pretended to be defeated. As I went in for the drumstick, he rose up and attempted to incinerate me again.

I say attempted, it was quite the success. I took the brunt of his fury and soon my vision was shrouded in flames. It was all part of my plan to stumble on a rock and roll in the dirt to quench the burning. It would have been better had I not left my douse scroll at home, but my quick thinking saved the day.

From there, it was back into the fray with a barrage of attacks. Gravedancer and Jobe unleashed a savage assault of ranged attacks that cut the fiery beast to the quick. Alley and I swing like the dickens, hacking at those gnarled feet of his.

In the end, the miserable sod lay in a heap at our feet, the smell of roasting chicken filling the air. I wanted to show him what-for and was ready to feast on the leg when I was told to stop wasting time, grab the feathers and get back to Desolis. I replied that it was terrible to waste such a delicious smelling feast, but once I retrieved my feathers, my dining hopes were dashed as the brute turned to ashes and dust.

It was a good night. I had gotten my revenge and returned the handful of feathers for a fine reward. I feel rather slighted over not getting the drumstick, but we must take the good with the bad.

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You’re all doing a wonderful job! I’m quite certain that colossal ball of fire will be the end of him. I will stand here and continue to give you updates!

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Face down in the dirt as it should be. Now, let me get the appropriate utensil and drumsticks all round I think.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

As I conversed with the Mistress of Fire in Desolis, I gazed something strange in the distance. True, there are many strange things within the walls of Desolis, but this caused me to stop and take notice. In the distance, under the dim veil of night, there was a balloon. Again, it should be noted that there are several balloons and thus wayward balloon pilots in the realm. But this pilot seemed to be up to mischief.

His course seemed set for the Desolis prison itself. His altitude put him on course to clear the wall and breach into the interior. From my vantage point, this appeared to be the makings of a daring prison break under the cover of stealth. Although to my mind, the balloon did not come across as the most advantageous of choices due to unpredictability of the craft’s direction, it’s rather obvious location in the sky and rather poor getaway speed. The guards could verily follow it on foot and should they have a prankish turn of mind, it wouldn’t be beyond them to hurl rocks, sticks, swords, daggers, cactus and other sharp, pointy things in their general direction and bring the whole affair crashing to the ground.

But, from my own brief and completely uncalled for incarceration within those walls, I can understand the desire for freedom. It is a vile place full of strange creatures, a never ending series of empty bottles of grog and relentless taunts from the other prisoners about how they’re not going to come and rescue you, how you’re on your own past a certain point and it’s better to be inside the walls than out. Their dreary outlook on life is a life sentence of it’s own!

I can only speculate on the life they must have lead before calling the Epitaph home, but it must have been quite bleak and devoid of meaning and mead if they prefer it to the splendor of Braemar or the Hollow. Even the company of Hal mar is superior to that place.

I felt compelled to stand and take in the spectacle yet the whole event seemed to go unnoticed by the citizenry. I’m at a loss to determine if they simply didn’t see the craft or if such events are so common place that they no longer take heed. Could balloon inspired prison break rescues really be the norm in these parts? Such a thing is hard to imagine.

While I am loathe to bring it up, I suppose there was no reaction simply because the balloon may not have existed at all. I’m quite sure it did, but I have spent a lot of time in the sun of late and with this helm upon my brow, my brain has been subjected to above average conditions. I have taken the proper precautions and hydrated myself with plenty of ale, so I’m quite sure there was a balloon.

Alas, the wind did not seem favorable for a late night rescue and while I looked onward, the balloon seemed to make no ground at all. I felt bad for the lot of them. I have no doubt the local constabulary would soon make a move to disperse this airborne intruder or at the very least, conditions would push the balloon in an unforeseen direction thusly pushing it into the mountains turning the whole menagerie to sticks and kindling.

I wished them well and hoped that whomever they were searching for was not cast asunder at being so close yet so distant from freedom.

There is of course the alternative wherein they could just open the gates, hand the guard a couple of coins to look the other way, walk out into the crowd babbling about how majestic the Epitaph is and how they’re seeking knowledge about the Obsidians and blend in with all the other townsfolk. It’s far less dramatic, but a worthy plan nonetheless.

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While I admire your pluck lads, I don’t believe many prison rescues are done at the hands of a balloon for a reason. I wish you luck, although I think the winds of change are in the opposite direction at this time of night.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

Throwing caution and good sense to the wind, I made my way back to Desolis to have a little peek at what all the merchants and explorers were talking about. Previously, I had talked with several of the villagers and once I worked my way through the crazy, it became clear to me the people of Desolis are up to a wee bit of no good out there in the desert. Sure, at first glance they come across as harmless nomads, just setting up shop on the outskirts of a makeshift town. But if you talk to them, and start to get a bit of background on the situation, it seems pretty clear they are heading down into and waiting for people to come up from the Epitaph so they can pounce on whatever relics and arcane knowledge they can get their hands on.

In a daring midnight undertaking, I concealed myself in heavy armor and the Highwayman Mask so none shall be able to tell my identity and then under the guise of an archeologist and explorer who just happened to carry a flaming sword and donned a cloak, I slipped through the entry gate.

I’d been here before so I was eminently familiar with the route not to take. My goal was to sneak down to the lower levels and see what sort of books and tricks I may be able to lay my hands upon. Once inside the Epitaph, the armed prisoners paid me no heed except to say that certain death awaited  me at the bottom of the stairs and they had no inclination to come and rescue me should I find myself in mortal peril.

Certain death you say? Ah, that must be where the good stuff is kept. At the pre-arranged rendezvous point, I met up with Alley Oop who I was quite certain would keep me safe and pointing in the right direction.

We descended the stairs and soon discovered why this is called the ruins. The place was a shambles with rubbish and debris scattered in all directions. But it appeared we were on the right trail for soon we ended up in what looked to be an abandoned library. Our closer inspection was halted as colossal spiders repelled from the ceiling quickly gaining the upper hand on us. Alley was unfazed by the stealthy attack and quickly defended herself. Once on the ground and with nowhere to run, the spiders proved to be less formidable and were soon crushed under steel.

The library was a wreck, having been deserted long ago. But the books were of great interest although they didn’t contain the mystical texts I believed we were looking for. Undaunted, we soon found another chamber with more volumes of writing. The inscriptions were of a very old dialect and one I have seen before, but am not familiar enough with to translate. I shall study these further in the privacy of my own dwelling.

We pressed on and made a rather perplexing discovery. Bed chambers. Far below the surface of Desolis, carved into the rocks and stone were rather ornate bed chambers with equally impressive furnishings. These may have indeed been the private chambers of the Obsidians themselves. From the disordered nature of things, they left in a rather hurried manner.

Our investigation was interrupted as several pale-skinned creatures discovered our intrusion and set to put a stop to us. They had a familiar form, but the skin was glowing from some sort of markings that adorned their bodies. No time to take in the art, we had to silence this mob before they alerted the others. They carried no weapons so were no match for us. But the cloven-footed devil that seemed to be their leader carried a rather menacing polearm.

This strange figure had the same unusual markings and jellylike skin, and alas met the same end as the others. I admit, he put up a good fight, but fire and steel conquers all and Alley and I had brought both to the party.

We forged ahead to see what else we could discover in this labyrinth and soon came across some sort of fount. It was within a large chamber with a stone walkway leading out to it. Strangely, it was supported by more of the Obsidian shards. Considering the décor of the chamber, I expected to find some sort of Shaman or Necromancer parading about reciting incantations and foretelling our doom for interrupting him. No such luck. Like all the other rooms we had entered, this too was abandoned and it’s use remains a bit of a mystery. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was for no good.

Venturing further still, we came to a curious hallway with oddly shaped openings. A strange entrance to be sure. No doors, but you had to stoop to pass through. They seemed curiously awkward. And then the reality of the situation hit me.

In a large chamber stood what I can only assume is an Obsidian experiment gone wrong. A massive beast stood guarding what looked to be some sort of meeting hall. Alley and I thought we had secured a private vantage point to look around, but were sadly mistaken when the hulking beast set his gaze upon us and leapt with an agility that made my heart sink and my bowels weaken. His first play was to cut off our escape. We bounded for the rubble pile ahead of us with thoughts of gaining another exit. We found ourselves in the middle of the meeting hall with blocked passages all around. Before we could look for a suitable location for our retreat, the beast was coming right for us.

With a clap that echoed like thunder he tried to crush us to powder. It was a good thing he only managed to get me in the head so I didn’t sustain much injury. But the battle was on! Alley summoned the power of Puppy, her Obsidian Bear to add strength to our number. I asked that Barry lend a paw lest there be nothing left of me to cook him dinner.

Though we landed many savage blows, he seemed unaffected. In fact, although there was ringing in my ears, I’m quite sure he was laughing at us. This was most unusual as when Alley gets swinging, things start falling. We needed another tactic.

He might be nimble, but there is only one of him and four of us. We each took a different point on the compass and went in with everything we had. I drew the short sword and had to contend with stabbing him in the hindquarters. Why must these terrible creatures all wear kilts or loin cloths?

The swords blazed with fury. Fire seared the floor. Claws slashed and teeth tore. It seemed we were now gaining the upper hand.

We each in turn took many stinging blows, but we stood our ground and dug ourselves in. It may have been the end for us all, but we would hold on as long as we could.

And then with a howl of agony, the great creature fell to a lifeless heap on the floor. We had been victorious! And perhaps a little bit lucky.

As we composed ourselves, we took time to investigate the chamber and it did seem to be a meeting hall of the Obsidians. There were even great plaques hung upon on the wall with writings we will take back for further study.

It is quite obvious that many terrible things have been done here and horrific creatures have been brought into existence that never should have been. There is a great deal more to discover in these chambers and not all the people of Desolis are as innocent as they claim. They talk of learning from the Obsidians for purely historical reasons, but I’m not so sure it ends there. This is something a little off with these people. Might have to keep what we found down here a secret from them.

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Well now, not exactly the hall of records I was expecting. Anything good on those shelves?

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The bones certainly distract from this being a quite place of learning and I could do without those massive spider eggs.

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I’m not sure what we have going on here, but nevertheless, nice grouping!

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Sweet! Snacks!

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What a horrible, twisted, tangled mess! And if that cod piece moves, I think I’m going to vomit.

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Oh, nice table. I wonder if I can sneak that out of here. That would look splendid in my house.

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Wait a minute, what the devil is that thing?

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I’m pretty sure he saw us and now feels compelled to run around and crush us to dust. Why can’t these abandoned ruins actually be abandoned?

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My goodness you are a stinky devil, but your choice of decor isn’t half bad. Mind if I take one of these skins back with me? Oh wait, you’re dead. Of course you don’t mind.

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It’s not a bad chair. Quite ornately decorated. Fine workmanship. However, the rancid pile of bones at my feet and the dead guy spilled all over the floor make this whole setup a touch less than desirable. Always have to end up in a meeting hall with bones, don’t we?

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

It would appear the people of Desolis are a stoic lot and take their worshipping of rock formations rather seriously. I still maintain I have no recollection of the events that transpired prior to the incident, but I am quite aware of the end result. It is still my belief that I was merely enjoying a beverage and observing the shard they had tied up in the local square of their fine town. However, the official legal documents allege that “while in an obvious and demoralizing state of inebriation” I “mocked and belittled the good people of Desolis”, “chided them on worshipping a rock (a rock known as the sacred shardfall fragment)”, “attempted to free the actual shardfall with a pickaxe of unknown origin” and “further attempted to free the prisoners of the Epitaph”.

The circumstances remain debatable, but I was whisked away and placed inside the Epitaph, not as an adventurer seeking fortune and glory, but as a guest of her governesses pleasure. I might add that no legal proceeding was held, no witnesses were brought forth and I had no chance to defend or deny all claims made against me. I simply woke up with a rather cruel headache, a pair of missing leggings and a new friend named the Smoldering Shiv.

I asked the Shiv what was going on and if he’d seen my leggings. He gave a quick recap of what lead me to my current surroundings and handed over my iron clad underthings which he had apparently been using to mop on some previous stains from the floor.

“Well laddy, you made a right ass of yourself and got throw in the Epitaph with the rest of us. Normally you have to do something pretty terrible to end up in a place like this, but I guess they made an exception for you. Not sure what you did and by the smell of ya, neither do you, but here you are and here you’ll stay.”

“Stay? Oh no my good man, I must be on my way. I have the undead to contend with, not to mention I have to make sure Barry is fed and let out lest he made a mess on the tailoring table like last time.”

“Sorry to dash your dreams there laddy, but there’s no getting out of the Epitaph. Once you’re in, you’re in for life. Too many guards surrounding the place and nothing but scorching, life draining desert and heat beyond that. Unless of course you want to tunnel out or go over the wall at midnight.”

It was then that Shiv explained I could try a bold and risky plan to escape my fate. If I was clever, worked under the cover of darkness and employed a hint of stealth, I could scale one of the rock formations and with the proper timing, make a leap of faith that would get me over to the other side of the wall and then I could slip away and take my chances with the creatures of the night.

Barring the fact I was neither clever nor stealthy I found his plan to be worthwhile and decided I would give it a run. I had the element of surprise on my hands so would could go wrong?

At the appointed hour, I followed the rough plan Shiv had laid out for me using leftover rags and bed linens and set the daring plan to method. Within minutes, I was out under the darkened sky intent to traverse the rock when I was gripped by surprise.

“Alley! What the devil are you doing here? What did you do to get thrown in here? Don’t tell me you made light of their shardfall did you?”

“No,” she retorted. “I’m simply visiting and exploring these ruins looking for Obsidian artifacts. What are you doing here and where might your leggings be? This is becoming an unfortunate habit with you.”

“Very little time to explain and they were used to clean the cell privy bucket one too many times to still be wearable so I left them behind. No time to talk, I’m making my getaway and time is against me.” With that I slipped back into the darkness and worked to the scale the rock that would lead to freedom. The environment was not in my favor as rain began to fall and the sky became charged with lightning. In the brief flashes I could easily see my way, but unfortunately, it certainly meant I could be seen. My heart pounded out of fear as surely as the rain pounded down upon me. With each step I thought I would be discovered and returned to my imprisonment. I would never survive a life behind bars, they have no pub on the inside.

My fear spurred me on and I could see the summit in the distance. My excitement turned to abject fear and horror when I reached the top only to discover I wasn’t alone. A figure loomed large, a dark shadow engulfing me.

“What are you doing?” a familiar voice asked. Under the gray mystery of night I looked up to see Alley.

“Alley? What are you doing here? You breaking out too? Have you come to help me with this daring escape plan?”

“No,” she retorted in the same tone she used before. “I saw you climbing up this rock and wondered where you were going.”

“Going over the wall at midnight,” I replied in hushed tones.

“What wall?” she asked looking around. “We’re on top of a rock, there’s no wall here.”

With this revelation I took stock of my surroundings and indeed saw that we were on top of a stone formation with no wall in sight. Even with a desperate leap of faith, I would do nothing but plummet down to where I started and most likely suffer some internal injuries and further hamper my escape plan.

“Oh no! Where did the wall go? How am I going to get over the wall and on to freedom if there’s no wall? I’m trapped! I’m doomed! I’m hungry!”

“Who told you to go over the wall?” she asked.

“The Shiv,” I replied in mournful tones.

“Sounds like a trustworthy fellow. And why over the wall?”

“Because if I tried to walk out the front the band of roughs guarding this place would wrestle me to the ground, throw me in a hole and never check on me again.”

“Or you could just put this helm on your head and walk out the front.”

“How do I explain the leggings?”

“If anyone says anything, just say you had a bit of Obsidian trouble down in the lower depths of the ruins. They’re scared to death to go down there, so they’ll think you’re pretty brave to have even escaped alive. The missing leggings won’t even phase them.”

“Oh that’s brilliant!”

“Oh wait, hang on, got an extra pair of leggings right here. I keep them just in case. Put these on and never give them back. Those are the rules.”

“Brilliant again!” I exclaimed.

With my new found courage, and pants, I made my way back down the craggy tower of rock. Slowly, but surely we made our way over to the main gate and without nary a glance in my direction, I passed undetected and made my way out of town.

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Freedom is so close I can smell it. Or that may be something foul rising up from the Epitaph, I’m not sure.

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Alley?! Gadzooks, what are you doing up here? You’ve come to get me out of this terrible place?

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I see this is what I get for taking a prison break plan from a guy called The Smoldering Shiv. I should have realized that if it was so darn easy he would have already tried it and wouldn’t be sitting in prison with me. Lesson learned.

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Good thing you keep these spare leggings with you Alley. You sure you won’t want them back? I won’t ruin this set like I did the others, I promise.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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