We were gastronomically blessed by Jokes who brought us Pineapple Upside Down Cake instead of her husband, who was gastrointestinally cursed. Rolland – hope you are feeling better, wherever in the world you are. You get 865xp for the last time you were here, btw.
I had been sitting on a cold all week, thinking my lungs had just been irritated by the copious amounts of caulking I had done the previous weekend. But the curry I made seemed to help and Duffin’s cocktail’s didn’t hurt. Bunny Chow is a street food popular in parts of southern africa and when I was looking at things to add flavour to the setting, this seemed like an easily explainable and attainable flavour thing. So working folks in Eleder eat a version of Bunny Chow when they are on the go and now we know what that is like. I’m still waiting to buy the pineapple schnapps I also decided the Colonials drink.
Anyway, this took a while to type up since it is two sessions and since the cold-hammer that had been hanging over me misdiagnosed all week hit hard as soon as the curry and Matthattans wore off.
The party arrived at the Southern Arcadian Whaling Company fresh from the blazing Pathfinder Society Warehouse, discovering that they weren’t the only people to have converged on the whale processing station. In fact, the crowd was pretty thick around the Company’s walled compound.
The crowd was – until the party arrived – all Mwangi natives, no colonials nor the many different shades of foreigners they had seen at the docks. The crowd was quiet and apprehensive, their attention tied to the man on the roof of the SAWCo’s processing shed, a two story building with a tiled roof through which metal chimney pipes exuded. The man was dressed for action – a green-cloak didn’t hide well-made armour, worn like he knew how to use it and sheathes for big dangerous knives, one of which he gesticulated with as punctuation to a tirade he delivered in Polyglot. The other hand clasped a loop of rope tied to one of the chimneys and on the other side of the loop, a bound and barely conscious Gelik Aberwhinge’s neck. The green-cloaked man waved his Kukri in one hand and hauled Gelik around by his bound neck for emphasis as his speech beat down on the assembled crowd. Gelik – securely bound – could only teeter at the edge of the roof , trying to keep his footing.
Gnomehanger of Eleder.
Uun, Victor, Floki and Orny moved through the crowd, the Shoanti offering money to whoever would translate the man’s words for him. By the fearful looks of the people he approached, no-one was about to do that. Nobody didn’t like the look of the crowd, so loosed his pistol in advance of any funny business should this crowd suddenly become a mob. Percy tried picking words out of the Polyglot speech and fortunately the way polyglot languages work is to incorporate new words from whichever culture emphasizes those words, so within the man’s speech were plenty of terms that Percy could recognise without getting the entire context. Oppression, equity, resources, hegemony, suffrage, usurp and extraction were apparently all words that the Chelish had brought with them, so Percy was able to piece together that this was some sort of political diatribe aimed at the native Mwangi populace in order to foment unrest and revolution against their Chelish colonizers. Unbeknown to the party at the time, these men were members of the Freemen – former slaves who were determined to overthrow a colonial regime which they believed was complicit/responsible for the oppression of the native tribes of the Mwangi Expanse. Not to be confused with the Fremen, the piss-drinking arrhythmic desert shufflers of Arrakis. Although to be fair, I think they’d probably have a lot to chat about.
Next round is on us. We insist.
By this time Victor and Floki had forced their way through the crowd, to the storefront entrance to the compound, where two burly guys were keeping people away from the entry. Floki challenged the men as he advanced and they whipped out clubs and struck him and Thrima, his leopard companion that slinked along beside him. Uun and Victor converged on the fight, while Orny kept back and cast Spectral Hand and Percy cast Prayer because things apparently looked like they were about to go down. Nobody clambered onto some sort of market stall that wasn’t being used and so got a good view of Floki killing one of the Freemen guarding the store door. Getting in on the action, Nobody gave the other guy both barrels of his fancy new pistol.
Now the fella atop the warehouse, the one holding Gelik on the precipice, could see this melee begin. And he could see the crowd begin to disperse in fear. And he knew none of his guys had guns. So he put his foot in Gelik’s little back and kicked him off the roof. The bound gnome flew out and down until the loop the man had been holding snapped taut and broke his Gneck. Which is kinda what happens when you take a hostage situation head on, loudly and slowly.
Orny had been keeping an eye on this fella and when he saw Gelik get kicked off the roof (although he couldn’t see the result of the hanging from his angle) he put a Slumber Hex on the man. His eyes rolled back in his head and he fell face first onto the roof tiles. The gnomekilling man, that is, not Orny; his eyes rolled back into his head, but that doesn’t really stop him from going about his witch business.
Uun had split from the melee at the SAWCo door, hopped the tall palisade fence and did some parkour shit to get himself pretty high up the processing barn’s walls. This processing shed is one of the most complicated buildings I’ve ever drawn and I’ve drawn a Runelord’s tower filled with mini-dimensions. Roughly 20′ tall with one almost entirely open side, the lowest level contained the boilers and a supply of coal for keeping everything hot. The second floor, reached by ladders on the inside of the building, was a grid of wood on which flensers would stand as the whale was hauled up by winches in front of them. They’d cut chunks off the maybe-carcass/maybe-still-living-creature and feed them into the troughs heated by the boilers to collect whale oil which if Dishonoured has taught me anything is the fuel of the Victorian dystopian future. That is all super difficult to represent on a 2-D map without getting pretty Star Trek Chess about it. I think everyone was just perpetually distracted by how awesome my drawing of the dead whale in the courtyard was…
See? You put a bunch of detail into one part of the map and suddenly people don’t know that bays are filled with water unless you draw fucking waves on it.
Anyway, Uun clambered the wall and cut poor Gelik’s corpse from the spinning rope, then hauled himself onto the roof. Meanwhile, the fight outside the storefront had been won the hard way, with Victor failing to calm everything down or elicit peaceful surrender. Thrima had not come out of it well, having taken a brutal blow from one of the Freemen. Percy moved up to help the leopard out, then cast Comprehend Languages, then went to healing and buffing with Bull’s Strength, because all of the talking was kind of over and now it was just grunting and dying.
Nobody, moseyed over as the second guard was being dispatched in front of the store front and but the door open, welcomed by two arrows which whistled by him. Victor and Floki piled in behind him and engaged the two men crouching for cover behind the counters of the SAWCo’s store, which had smoked whale meat and clean burning whale oil – fuel of the future – for sale. Their fear of missile fire retaliation from Nobody was a bit of a red herring, since the threat of Floki and Victor carving them up with swords was infinitely greater. And even that was a feint, since a lot of the threat in that room was getting pistol whipped to fuck by Nobody.
Back on the roof, Uun picked up the sleeping gnomekiller and tossed him to the street below. The man, sprang to his feet after hitting the packed dirt of the street and advanced on Orny. Uun leapt – literally- from the roof to Orny’s aid but kind of biffed it and didn’t clear the palisade fence. He needn’t have bothered as Orny had a bag of tricks up his sleeve and by bag of tricks I mean terrifying spells.
His first, Ear-Piercing Scream, can daze and do damage to a single target, but the green-cloaked man shook it off and ignored the blood streaming from his ears. However Orny’s second spell, Hold Person stuck the man in place; not for long, but long enough back up to arrive in the form of Uun, climbing over the fence, as well as Nobody, Thrima and Floki. Slashing madly with his kukris the man cut Uun deeply but was shot by Nobody and comprehensively struck by Victor before Uun finished him off with his longspear, mashing the head into the man’s fallen body to make absolutely certain he never killed any Gnomish allies of theirs in the future.
Percy had not double-backed, but had stayed in the store and tried the door that lead into the courtyard. Advancing through, he found himself assailed by gobs of burning whale blubber and arrows, cast at him by more Freemen who had taken up position in the courtyard. The courtyard itself was already a blood soaked thing, with the open space used to haul whales from the bay to the processing building. One such unhappy customer lay on the ramp that led down to the bay, attached by a chain that led to a winch on the far side of the processing building. Opposite the tall, two storey, impossible to draw building, was a smaller building that held the grinding apparatus for mincing and space to smoke the whale meat. Percy was exposed between the three buildings that made up the compound and also a little on fire.
Freemen snipers moved into position on the roof and sent arrows down at those that had just cut down their green-cloaked leader. Orny moved to heal Thrima and Floki carried the badly injured cat away from danger into the safety of the surrounding market buildings. Orny readied his fingerguns and put both snipers to sleep. Nobody climbed the palisade wall while Victor and Uun went racing through the storefront to go back Percy up. Percy had chosen an attacker – the guy shooting arrows from the grindinghouse and hit him twice, his second blow felling the Freeman and propelling the Tengu into the combat that Victor and Uun were wrapping up, despite Nobody’s fire support.
Victor attempted at this point to force a surrender with an Intimidation check, but this didn’t happen and the desperate men continued fighting. Malicia, having tarried longer than the others at the day’s shopping – tch, chicks, amirite guys? – arrived now and seeing Orny was handling himself, got into the compound and onto the roof just as Orny’s first slumberer was waking up and pushing himself to his feet. Orny had been waiting for just such an event and had Hold Person on the tip of his goat, ready to go. The Freeman was Held as Malicia stepped behind him and slit his throat.
One last sniper had revealed himself in the courtyard, shooting between the processing building and the dead whale. He was chased away, his resolve breaking as Victor, Nobody and Percy converged on him. Uun even scrambled to the top of the dead whale but slipped when trying to leap at the man. The Freeman made it to the water and dived in, swimming for freedom before Nobody took his time about shooting him in the back. Heroically. The wound was a horrible, the bay’s general bloody red hue refreshed anew. The seagulls followed with seaglee.
It took a while, but Uun figured out how to get up to the roof of the processing building, where he took a captive, the last of Orny’s Slumberers who was being menaced by Malicia.
See what I did there?
Bringing him down, Victor whipped out his manacles WHICH HE HAS FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS and clapped them on the last Freeman. Victor observing what he assumed was protocol in any civilized place, went looking for the constabulary. Outside of the SAWCo compound, he found the crowd of onlookers now nervously huddled around corners peering out trying to assess what had happened. But it didn’t take him long to find and then inadvertently insult a Sargavan officer leading a patrol of guards. The Sargavan officer insisted on being taken to the scene of what he now dreaded was going to be a whole lot of of complicated reports.
Back at the compound, Percy and Nobody had been checking out the Grinder room, the machinery of which did not seem quite right to Nobody although he couldn’t quite figure out what was not quite right about – oh it was the spinning grinder blade that broke loose under pressure and flew across the room, gouging both of them.
Victor and the patrol arrived and Malicia, probably out of habit, slipped away. Before the officer got to interrogating the Freeman, whom he didn’t seem particularly interested in he made sure he got everyone’s name and a brief physical description of everyone before questioning them a bit. Did they happen to be ‘adventurers’? Why were they here?
Orny and some others had some questions for the Freeman, who spoke Common, but it didn’t take much provocation for him to lapse into a bitter diatribe about how willing he was to martyr himself for the good of the struggle against the northern oppressors who were unwelcome in his etc etc, the officer grew bored and pointed to a nearby tree that two guards hauled the Freeman off to and with no ceremony at all hanged him there. The officer would make a report but after hauling in one terrified looking old woman from the crowd outside to corroborate the party’s version of the events, saw no reason to keep them here, since they didn’t seem to be responsible for any of the criminal damage to the SAWCo site and had largely done him a favour by murdering a bunch of terrorists.
The Freemen, he told them, were – are – an insurgency group that had previously been content to protest against the Sargavan government through sabotage and vandalism, but had grown increasingly violent until they had peaked with today’s arson/rabid dog/gnome hanging spree. What could have driven them to this, he did not know or understand. The last guy who could have told them was dangling from a tree being used as Nobody for target practice, because Nobody conceivably felt sorry for him, but shooting him a little didn’t really help… anyone. Really, to date, Malicia is the only person capable of killing someone in a sudden, merciful fashion. That guy swimming across the bay with a hole in his back? Just died now, paragraphs after Nobody shot him.
The party – having thoroughly stripped the Freemen while they waited for the law to arrive – took off to the Pathfinder warehouse, Orny with a nice Amulet of Natural Armour for his trouble and I think he has a +1 Kukri that he doesn’t know how to use stuck in his belt. The rest of the Freemen’s stuff was well made; hide armours, with masterwork bows and clubs. The leader’s breastplate was also masterwork, despite having been mashed by Uun. The Freemen also had a bucketload of Alchemist’s Fire in vials. They also carried Gelik’s dead body back with them.
Arriving at the Warehouse, they found the Pathfinders patching their scorched building. Amivor Glaur was shocked and saddened by Gelik’s death, but he wasn’t crushed; they’d only met a few days ago. It was more shocking and inexplicable that the warehouse would have been targeted at all, especially to the extent that it was. Glaur couldn’t think of any reason the Freemen would have to pick on the Pathfinders, unless their anti-colonial manifesto has expanded to all-out xenophobia. But still, why the Pathfinders above…anyone else? The arsonous assault and the deliberate targeting of Gelik – for the Freemen came for him especially and left as soon as they had him – was inexplicable. Malicia was concerned about Gelik’s collection of notes from the Azlanti temple, but they were mostly intact, so she took possession of them in the hope that the small amount of Azlanti she had picked up from Gelik would aid her in picking through them. The party found space among the exhausted Pathfinders and slept.
The following morning Glaur briefed them on their first task for the Society – to secure the services of N’kechi, the once-ranger-trainer, now hermit-Cleric of Gozreh. N’kechi had gone to live in a place called the Pallid Bluffs, a coastline of sheer cliffs south of the city. Glaur stressed that they should do whatever it takes to secure N’kechi’s interest in the expedition – once N’kechi takes an interest in an expedition he doesn’t require payment as he sees it as a holy duty.
They left Eleder early, moving out of the colonial city and into the area known as Outerwall or the Zenj Slums. Instead of the busting colonial city, this place was just mud huts, poverty and lack of sanitation. The inhabitants watched them pass silently. Beyond the poverty of the slums, the great expanses of pineapple fields and then into the sunbaked, rolling cliffsides. Orny took the lead of the party, but as time went on, it became clear he wasn’t a particularly adept guide. The day was getting hotter and as they approached midday it was clear they were all going to feel jealous of Victor’s Endure Elements spell.
Travelling until they found the Pallid Bluffs, accessible from a small, rocky bay. From here, they had to progress along the cliff face until they found a cove inaccessible and then N’Kechi would be near somewhere. The path – more a natural ledge that the sea had beaten smooth – along the cliff face ran above the waterline, but at this time of day was being periodically pounded by waves. They considered waiting, but were on such a tight schedule that they decided not to.
Yay! More sodding cliffs.
Unravelling a length of rope, they formed a chain to traverse the wave-swept path across the cliff face. sure enough, they’d barely set foot on the path before a wall of water swept up onto the path and forcefully retreated, dragging the legs out from under several people. Only Percy was pulled so hard that his grip on the rope was lost, the light-bodied Tengu borne out into the water where he found the armour he was wearing an impediment to staying afloat in any kind of useful way. He kept his head above water while the others scrambled to action. Orny released the Rope of Climbing, which snaked its way towards Percy of its own magical volition. Malicia meanwhile, spotted a reddish-orange shape move in the dark waters.
Nobody, ever ready to shoot something, shot at the shape, but misfired, the butt of the gun jamming into his solar plexus and sickening him. Victor drew his bow and also fired at the orangish shape which resolved itself into a large pair of claws and a shell-armoured head/body/whatever it is when you are a crab and your face is in your torso. Uun whipped a Javelin at it as it closed with Percy, its claws mashing fruitlessly against his armour. Orny tried casting Slumber Hex on it, forgetting that Slumber Hex doesn’t work on crabs, because he’d learned that before when he tried to put a Cave Fisher to sleep. Orny had his own problems, since he was also swept into the water and had to use the other end of the Rope of Climbing to attach itself to the safety rope which was rapidly being dropped by people as they went to help out with this whole crab problem. Uun advised that they don’t kill the crab because it was probably the hermit’s buddy, which seemed oddly cautious/prescient from the otherwise-pedal-to-the-floor-killing-machine.
The crab, however, sealed its own fate by getting too close to Percy, who is never fully unarmed when he has a beak and Percy dispatched this crustacean the same way he dispatched his crustacean antagonists way back on Day 1 of this Diary. Victor and Uun worked to haul the swimmers to safety and everyone was recovering their feet on the wave-washed path when a wave washed that path again. This time it swept Nobody out to sea…
That’s where we stopped because it was late and my cold was starting to super kick in.