Shadow of the Firstborn

Where Igan learns about ships

Clenching my eyes shut, stinking of young dragonborn vomit (which burns, by the way) I wait for Gytha's concoction to take its promised effect and quell my heaving insides The concoction tasted absolutely vile, but preferable to the unending nausea currently assailing me. Turns out that vials of fire aren't the only things that Gytha can pull out of her bag, for which I am grateful.

 

Boats, ships why? First time on one, not in a hurry to get on one again. The only reason I'm here is that it was take a ship or go by land. One method would take months, the other would take weeks. That's nothing to an elf but for a young lovelorn dragonborn? With their tragically short but bright lives that is an eternity, one that our acquaintance and now charge, Lyra, is not willing to entertain.

 

In fairness the first part of the journey was pleasant. By chance, our journey took us to Den's home town. I happened to be close by (you can't really get far from anyone on a ship, why do people like these things,) while Den was chatting with Lyra. Another dragonborn, Bazerra, met Lyra at a trade fair and as sure as you'll find bees near honey, they fell in love. Doesn't hurt that an alliance forged by marriage will strengthen both families, which is why we have all the secrecy. Pulling in to the harbour was uneventful, if one is speaking of danger, but oh my! Chocolate. Lyra is dragged unwillingly past the dockside vendors having been promised her fill on arriving at Den's family home. Being nearly an adult, I surreptitiously indulge in a sampling before catching up with the bad. The dockside offering, while delicious, was a pour cousin to the steaming hot chocolate served by  Den's mother, Lilly.

 

It would seem that the secrecy wasn't quite as secret as it could have been. The journey to the docks, while uneventful, was tense. Whilst careful not to alarm, Den drew attention to the unusually large number of armed halflings on the way to the dock and the atmosphere did seem more tense. Awaiting us at the dock was our next ship, the Princess's Tempest, a sleek copper bottomed vessel more suited to rough seas. I suppose that was the inspiration for 'Tempest,' in the name.

 

Boarding the ship, I settle Ed in his lodgings for the trip. Unknown to me, Jayce tipped the crew quite handsomely to take good care of Ed. I swear people like that donkey more than they do me. Casting off, the crew nervously set about their business as we sail off in to gathering storm clouds. Gytha, who's well travelled and experienced with sea travel, remarks that the storms do not look natural. With the seas growing increasingly more rough and the swell's rising most of us repair to our quarters. Having scoffed all the chocolate croissants that were a parting gift from Lilly, Lyra's complaining about her sore belly – a complaint I have some sympathy for but don't give voice to having done the same myself.

Which brings me to where I am now, drenched in vomit, smouldering slightly from Lyra's vomit, feeling somewhat abashed I'd vomited all over Gytha when the three of us collectively lost our inner ear and simultaneously dived for the only bucket, a race that Gytha won, Lyra came last with me in the middle.

 

As Gytha's concoction takes effect Den, who is ever practical and preparing for the worst, sets about sercuring our belongings. Allysa and Jace head out to the deck, Jayce securing a lifeline to himself and the ship. Standing near the prow, the ship's sorceress is standing in rapt concentration, a ball of spell energy cupped in her hands which she holds before her as if holding a globe.  Lightening lashes down towards the deck which is thwarted by the unseen barrier which the sorceress maintains. Whilst Jace secures a lifeline around her, Allysa starts a chant of encouragement, aiming the effect at the sorceress.

 

The sorceress visibly loses her composure at the unexpected magical energy directed at her, fortunately it's during a brief lull with no lightening directed at the ship and she quickly recovers her focus. The storm picks up on an unusually ferocious intensity for the Southern Seas, more expected of the Tempest seas which few dare to sail in, so it can be forgiven that a blast of lightening blasts through the best efforts of the sorceress knocking Allyssa and Jace prone as the roof of the cabin gets blown off, drenching the occupants. It's so bitterly cold I fail to appreciate that at least it's washed away the last remnants of vomit.

 

Regaining his feet, Jace does something with that strange deck of cards he always has at his side. A disk appears over the hole of the roof, partially sealing it and stopping the worst of the water from flowing in. Allyssa uses some trick to be able to talk to the Captain from across the ship, nodding in understanding she grabs Jace pointing to a line that the Captain wants secured. Just as they reach a line a wave crashes over the side forcing Allyssa to save Jace from being swept off his feet. In short order the pair secure the line to the side as lightening rains down around them, the sorceress through necessity neglecting the less important parts of the ship in order to save the ship itself as chunks of the side and railings get blown off.

 

That pretty much set the tone for the next several hours. In conditions like these there's no such thing as passengers. All of us out of necessity ventured out to deck, secured lifelines and lent aid where we were directed – helping secure lines, recover fellows who had been washed overboard yet were secured by lifelines. Several times we saw the sorceress buckle under the onslaught yet somehow gather herself as the captain made it known that in a change of plans we were to head to land to wait out the storm. With the rain still pouring down, we head in to a cove which provides shelter from the worst of the storm, where miraculously there's a dock.  Making fast at the dock the ship's first mate, a halfling named Bosun, urges off the ship. The urging was hardly necessary for me, leading Ed down the gangplank I look up the dock to where there are some buildings. Waiting for the group to gather, we set of to secure shelter while the crew sets about repairing the damage done to the ship. With little else on my mind other than bone chilling cold and exhaustion, I spare little thought to what may lie for us the next day.

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Igan's Journal, Invites you don't refuse

Well, not quite an army, but a good number of troops at any rate. Dusting myself off, I notice that the troops are wearing the orange and black colours of House Mateus. The Captain of the detachment is engaged in conversation with the lady with whom I fought beside. Standing off to the side are a pair of golden Dragonborn, one of whom seems decidedly young and excitable. The older one looks like someone I'd rather not have for an enemy,  I can only surmise he's her guardian.

 

Well there's a turn up for the books – seems I've unwittingly aided in the defence of nobility. The Captain shepherds the other combatants together, inviting us to the palace. Not as prisoners, however I get the feeling it's one of those 'offers you don't refuse' kind of invites. I beg a few moments to check on my donkey, Ed, who is completely unmoved by events. Good donkey, that. And off to the palace we go.

 

The Daimyo of House Mateus is called Olmek, can't say I know much about him other than he's reputed to be one of the fairer Daimyos around. We head to the palace with little in the way of conversation, well except for the younger Dragonborn who talked enough for the whole army (yes I mean the army this time.) In short order we're ushered in to what would seem to be the throne room, the last place I expected the tasting paddle of the Yellow Wand to take me tonight.

 

We are not kept long when an older golden Dragonborn walks in, accompanied by the younger Dragonborn. In what I know is a breach of protocol, the older Dragonborn comes down from the throne to greet us in turn, introducing himself as Daimyo Olmek, and thanking us for saving his daughter, Lyra. Lyra's bodyguard, although he is not referred to as such, is introduced to us as Sunga. it's under these circumstances I learn a little about the others.

 

The lady with the propensity for flinging vials of fire is introduced as Gytha Lin. She looks to be human and I take an instant liking to her. She certainly proved she knows  how to handle herself in a tight situation. Carrying a bow and a quaterstaff, her choice of weapons are the same as my own.

 

Wait, are we allowed weapons in the presence of nobility? Oops, let's not draw attention to that, play it cool.

 

Moving on, the gentleman I've nicknamed 'Shark' in my head introduces himself as Jace Vas' Hyperion.  He's a  bearded, gray haired man with inquisitive eyes. Whilst he carries more swords than seems necessary, it doesn't take long to realize that whatever power he holds lies in a deck of unusual cards which are strapped to his side. Interesting.

 

The next to be greeted by Olmek introduces herself as Rhododendra 'Den' Hillfoot, the halfling who I recall is quite adept at dancing on the heads of monsters. Still in her performer's clothes she never the less exudes an aura of competence and calm and I've seen what she can do with the rapier she carries.

 

Rounding out our band is Alilyasa 'Alyssa' Silverkin. To my eyes she looks like a half-breed. I haven't much experience with half-breeds, but people are people to me so it doesn't really bother me as much as it might others, I mean not like they chose to be born that way.  My fellow elves can be snooty lot and humans downright hostile to half breeds, which make no sense to me.  While not visible, I know she used a few daggers in the fight. More obvious is the lyre and the flute she carries.

 

Back to Olmek, excuse me, Daimyo Olmek. He's more than a little surprised to find that this merry band are strangers to one another, apart from Alyssa and Den, who perform in the same troupe. Excusing himself to other matters, Daimyo Olmek invites us to dinner. I mentally file that under "invite you don't refuse," and readily accept, as do the rest.  With that, we're escorted to individual rooms where, for me at any rate, a heated bath awaited along with attendants and clothing suitable for dining with nobility.

 

Dinner turns out to be splendid, as befits nobility.  Lyra is irrepressible and has taken a shine to Gytha and Den in particular. Throughout dinner we learn that Lyra is the last of Olmek's offspring in the city. His sons are training with the army and the older daughter is married and with her husband. Dinner is coming to a close when a senior golden Dragonborn enters,  beckoning to Daimyo Olmek.

 

She must be important to beckon over a Daimyo.  Observing unobtrusively, the senior golden Dragonborn seems to be firmly delivering news to the Daimyo which makes him uncomfortable, if I'm any judge of Dragonborn mannerisms.  Nodding unhappily, Daimyo Olmek re-joins us at the dinner table.

 

To round off the trilogy of "invitations you don't refuse" for the evening, Daimyo Olmek lays it out for us in simple terms. Lyra needs an escort, the senior golden Dragonborn is convinced that we five are the ones for the job. How do we feel about being retained to escort Lyra and Sunga, a job that will take weeks by sea or months by land depending on how we choose?

 

Life suddenly got a lot more interesting.

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Igan's Journal
Where Igan doesn't get to finish his beer

Reluctantly, I pull away from the final offering in the beer paddle, the pride of The Yellow Wand, as a scream pierces the night.  Reaching the window of the cosy tavern just in time for to be hurled from my feet as the wall of the inn exploded inwards.

 

Grasping my druidic totem, I pull myself to my feet finding that a humanoid creature, composed of swamp, vines and sticks, was wreaking destruction to all around it. Not what I had in mind for the evening. Well, sticks burn.

 

Putting a bit more power in to the cantrip I usually use to light my camp fire, I blast it with a bolt of fire.  Others press the attack, just as another of the creatures bursts through. A common foe unites a make shift band.  A halfling sends one of the creature's arms flying, A woman flings vials at it. A man – playing cards? Well must be a card shark because whatever he's doing with those cards is really pissing off the thing and the bard who moments before had been entertaining the crowd was in the fray , defending the rest of the patrons who had more timid, or saner, heads. Attacks are landed, allies are restored as they're about to fall, the ad-hoc band working with each other.

 

Just as I was getting a righteous rage on at having my evening disrupted,  neatly dispatching one of the creatures with the aid of the vial flinging woman, the roof came off. Literally. Turns out that what I took for screams of agony were screams for help and Daddy had come to stomp, all two stories tall of him. Righteous rage giving way to get the hell out of here any second now.

 

Which is about the point that the bard distracts Daddy with invective that made the tips of my ears go red. The halfling uses the head of the first creature as a spring board to launch a full frontal assault of daddy, galvanizing me to desperately hurl fire to try to distract it from crushing her.  Summersaulting neatly off the creature's head, the halfling nimbly avoids the club like arm coming down from Daddy, squashing the creature below like a bug. I swear the halfling all but bowed as she landed. That's what you get for calling Daddy, bug.

 

Unfortunately, Daddy's still here and if anything angrier. Turns out these things can spawn offspring, two more creatures drop from its hideous form.  With flight no longer an option as panicked patrons flee out in the street nearly knocking us from our feet, we set to with desperation when a fireball, an actual massive fireball not to be confused with my garden variety cantrip typically used to light camp fires, explodes in the back of Daddy.

 

In short order powerful magics overwhelm Daddy and its spawn.  With the rest of the patrons having fled, I catch my  breath as our make shift band look out the crushed wall as an army led by a wizard clears the area. 

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