Aksambul: The Queen Widow

Thurik's Journal — Session 2

Intruders in the night. Unease. A pact. Death in the square.

Intruders in the night. Pavel and Dest took the worst of it. I too have gained new scars.

Something is wrong, I have felt it since the attack in the Casbah Square. The natural order is amok, as though the moons themselves have forgotten their orbits and begun a perverse dance through the night. Chaos is Askambul’s natural state, but the magic I witnessed in the square— the young races frozen to time—it is something else entirely. What depraved ritual could cause such foul harbingers? Death should be for the weak, culling flaws to strengthen the herd. That is the song of life, death, and time. Any force with the power and intent to will dissonance into the song is my enemy. I must forge bonds with this group of adventurers in hopes that we can find and defeat the source of this evil and set the natural order to rights.

Bells tolled as we broke our fast at daybreak. Alfred left and returned, bringing tidings of a mysterious pact from his past. A tontine, of which Alfred is the last member. Our group, my new clan, has decided to investigate the square where Alfred’s compatriot fell victim to the foul magic. To the sewers we went, all but poor Pavel who had been overtaken by ill humors, to better stay undetected from unwanted attention.

Yet our covert intentions were for naught. As we made our way through the sewer under the Palace, an explosion blossomed through the cavernous system of tunnels. The enormity of the blast set my ears to ringing, then silence. I had gone deaf, temporarily I hoped. Upon investigating the blast, we were set upon by guards who surely thought we were the culprits. We had no choice but to engage them in combat. I called forth my wild form, transmuting to the shape of a brown bear to incapacitate our foes. I was pleased by the deftness at which our group performed in battle. All but Brix, whose fingers seemed to have changed to wood and dropped his implements at every opportunity of attack. I had seen Brix perform admirably in combat, indeed he is well known for it, yet here he was helpless as a newborn babe.

In the pitch of the battle, Minotaurs, possibly thieves who orchestrated the blast, descended from the ceiling. Brix pursued them down the tunnels as the rest of the group remained to regroup. Dest, that disgusting little creature I find myself calling a brother, looted the corpses. Under different circumstances, I would have cursed this act of depravity. Death is to be met with solemnity, not opportunism. Yet, we find ourselves in need of resources, both of the martial and the material sort. I looked the other way.

We continued on our way, encountering only some filthy sewer-dwelling goblins and a troupe of guards. Dest proved his worth here, using deception and spell-trickery to avoid more bloodshed. When we reached the square, we found it closed off from above. A more pedestrian approach was needed. Upon reaching the gates, we found the area still under investigation from the previous day’s attack. A tall, brooding figure led the investigation team. He was identified as Inspector Kimble. Why would he be here instead of Maddox? Better to avoid detection rather than facing an unknown force.

Seeking a stealthy approach, I again transmuted, this time into a cloud of gas. Hubris, pure foolish pride to think this disguise was adequate. Kimble, recognizing the shimmer in the air, raised the alarm. Showing a flair for the scatalogical, Dest attempted to provide cover for my gaseous form by passing gas himself. Instead, he shat himself. Kimble was not amused, nor was he fooled. In a last ditch effort to remain undetected, and changed form again, this time to that of an owl. Spying the corpse of Alfred’s comrade, I flew to him and searched for any thing of importance. Documents, Sealed around his neck. But, no sooner than I plucked them from the corpse (Dest must be rubbing off) I found myself cornered by guards. With Bronn and Dest nowhere to be seen, I was naked, desperate. Again in my corporeal form, it was all I could do to dash for the exit of the square. I made it halfway before Kimble turned his full attention to me and unleashed a spear. No spell could have been enough to protect me from its terrible impact. I lay there, broken, meditating on death, I would become one of countless names in the, beautiful, sweet litany, the song of life and death.

Instead, I wake here, a dank cell, not dead yet. I am with my clansmen, save for Brix, and all is not yet lost. We hold steady in our resolve. There are deeds that need doing.

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