The Imperial Wrecking Crew

Karl's Thoughts

I have been to many worlds now, and while many of them I would very much like to visit again. There’s been some thrillingly stormy seas, we’ve been tossed on the winds of fate and blown off course, and yet, battered and bruised, we’ve found safe harbor. I could’ve done without the vortex at the gate, but… Eh. You go where the winds take you.

The bitchqueen has been pushed back, and she’s finally out of my heads. Bloody fuckin’ hell that was annoying. I’ve had a headache ever since we got stuck in that thrice bedamned cave. You know what it’s like having a buzzing in your head you can almost not hear? For two. Weeks. It didn’t ever go away. Ugh. Just the worst. Now that she’s gone, so is the noise. It’s nice to have some peace and quiet again.

Lord Dar, Lady Ciarra, and O’Banyon put together a good plan, I doubt we’d have all survived as we did had it not been for their efforts. Credit where it’s due. The idea I didn’t share of using the Briney Depths to flood the floor of the arena would’ve been fun had I been allowed to do it, but I figured it wouldn’t have worked and I may have lost my favorite sword, so… Instead I actually acted like a cleric this battle. K’Sellis and I stayed back on the tower, where we could see the field of battle and heal and restore as necessary. Also where my innate healing wouldn’t be able to effect our foe. Honestly, I can’t believe Captain Ross survived on just a flying horse.

I think, in honor of his promotion, I’m going to buy that man a hat. He IS a captain now, after all.

On battle, I have come to realize that becoming a cleric has softened me as a warrior. Never have I been at a level where I could keep up with Dar, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to land a blow against nearly any foe short of raining chaos and dragon’s breath upon them. I’m going to hope Olympia has a shop for magic items and that I may find a ring or necklace or something that will give me back some of my old skill.

And possibly have them disenchant my belt buckle. This whole glowing nonsense is almost enough for me to just cast darkness on myself. I’d be able to see, but it might…. Worry others.

Hmm… I don’t really have much else to say right now. We’re close to Olympia, and though I know it’s my imagination, I can smell the water of this world, and it smells like home more than anything else I’ve ever found. It may be some time before we return to our ship, but for now just being close to the waterways of my home will be enough to satisfy me. I never really realized how much this empire and this world had become home in the short time I’ve been apart of it, but returning after all these years, after this war we’ve been fighting?

We’re pulling into port. The storm is over, until the next. And I do believe the General is buying the first round.

ADDENDUM: Apparently I have kobolds who worship me. I haven’t even had a drink yet, I’m not drunk. What? brb gettingdrunknow.

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Dar's Thoughts On The Road to Olympia

Home.

There were times I never thought I’d see it again. I’ve seen fantastic lands, fought incredible evil, nearly died several times, actually died a time or two. I even made my glorious and awesome return to gladiator pits. Picked up some new scars from an dishonorable shitstain of a Thri’Kreen, whos carapace now protects me and whos claws I now use to fight.

Hell. I saw Gregor start a religion. These new Gregorian monks both frighten and amuse me, but since Gregor stayed behind to build up his following the rest of us have been able to actually use tactics.

Of course, when you’re stuck in a cave with no entrance, no exit, and only slowly impending doom in the form of the goddess who’s plans you’ve been pissing on for the last decade or so, having a Gregor could’ve been pretty nice.

Oh well, as I said. Tactics. Of the Bitch Queen’s five heads, we ranked them in order of our perception of their threat to us, set our ranks and battle orders, and waited for the inevitable. Considering what we had been up against in the past, we all knew this could very well be our last battle, and Liad’s orders were not particularly helpful on that frame of mind.

We couldn’t beat her, but we could hopefully dissuade her from entering our plane and taking our home.

When she finally came through, we fought as one. Karl and Znam held our back line, for battlefield control through Karl’s beloved Caltrops (which proved essentially useless on this occasion), and reducing her visibility with wall of fog while Roy provided his unique brand of boon to our more direct combatants. Our front line fighters struck hard and swift, focusing on an individual head at a time (Red first, then Blue, Then Green, Then White, then Black), and one by one they were forced out of our realm. Dame Captain Bally Sanctified one of the heads so hard it backed off our plane entirely on it’s own, wanting nothing more to do with us.

Amazingly, when the dust had settled and her mural was broken and tattered, we stood together, battered, alive, and victorious. Liad is taking us home now, to the town of Olympia within my lands where I am told my brother is using as his headquarters.

Ciarra is damned near vibrating with excitement. Bally is an odd balance of reserved, giddy, and worried. Karl is… Karl. Znam is happy, but still reserved. I can see Roy is already figuring how to fit the details of our most recent battle into his Epic about our adventures. Our new member, Ross, seems out of sorts away from his home of Ravenloft.

But you know what? We’re all fucking alive.

Our world is our own.

We won, even if it is just for today. For now, I don’t give a damn about the battles of tomorrow. We did good, all of us. No matter what happens, I will gladly fight with any of these fine people at my back, against any foe and any odds.

But before that?

Drinks are on me.

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The Beginning
A Cute Romantic Story That is Trying to be Funny

Balystia waited for the Inquisitor’s acolytes to leave the tent before she sat on the large, mahogany bench. The inside of the tent reminded her of the temple she squired at back in Easton. It was conservatively decorated with scarlet draping and the Golden Gauntlet. The bench itself was carved in the form of one of Tempus’ steeds.
She began to play with her long chestnut plait nervously. They had not spoken in over a year, and even then their meetings were brief and professional. Completely professional she reminded herself. Onyxia had always teased her about the way she looked at him. It meant nothing, Balystia told herself again. He was the Inquisitor, the avatar of their god, the embodiment of honor and righteousness, and a strong protector of the weak, and… and… he was naked.
The Paladin stared wide eyed at the sight before her. It had never occurred to her that the purification ritual would require him… that way.
“Your Holiness… um…” She felt herself attempt to stand then quickly sit down again as she realized gravity was somehow stronger all of a sudden; her gaze still unable to turn away.
She did not realize he was blushing.
He cleared his throat, and began to put on a simple Cleric’s vestment. “I apologize; I did not realize it was you Dame Thornwood.”
“I…er…um,” She still could not speak.
The inquisitor smiled timidly. Nothing about his frame could be described as timid: the dignity of a prince and the hands of a farmer. She knew the code commanded the Inquisitor to do the work of the common man to assist the villages he visited. She had never felt humbled and… what was this feeling. She was positive Roy had read them a poem about something like this before. She tried to stop thinking again. The Inquisitor would never do anything out of one of those poems. She shook of a wave of disappointment.
“I apologize for not sending notice.” She managed respectfully.
He attempted to break the tension by pouring them a drink.
She took it gratefully, and gulped down the ale. Hoping to find whatever courage came at the bottom of the glass.
“I am sorry I do not have something more becoming of your stat-.” He looked somewhat puzzled at the sight of her guzzling the goblet. “Though I am glad it does not offend you.”
She felt sheepish again, and smiled awkwardly as he sat down beside her on the bench.
“This is very nice”, she began. “Do you always have such nice accommodations?”
He took a sip of his ale. “When it is possible, I do. I have to admit I am partial to cushions. Though, as you know, war and work does not always allow such things.”
“Ha! It certainly beats sleeping on the ground, waking up to encampment raids, praying that the bard is nearby to help you with your armor.”
He paused. “Roy helps you with…”
“We it’s not like there are a lot of volunteers to help me with that sort of thing; especially since Nixy went back to her apprenticeship, and I know Ciara would help me gladly, but she always does the shoulders too tight – “
“Lucky bard,” he muttered quietly.
“Huh?”
“Nothing, you were saying?”
“Your Holiness…”
“Jonathon.”
She looked at him confusedly. “Jonathon.” It did not seem right to her to say it. She knew his name. She actually knew more about him than most, and it somehow made her less secure.
They sat staring at the floor finishing their ale.
Her thoughts tumbled through a thousand scenarios of what they should be talking about or doing other than coddling their cups of ale in awkward silence. Even Roy’s poems made her more comfortable than the air in the room felt… She was thinking about the poems again, and his sandy blond hair. He had pretty hair. She blushed.
“Jonathon?”
“Yes?”
“You wouldn’t have anything stronger would you?”
He stood up with a flourish and recovered a decanter of whiskey from a small cabinet in the corner.
“The Dame of Easton enjoys ale and whiskey.”
“Briar,” she corrected.
“Briar.” He smiled at her sheepishly again.
“I met with Tempus earlier,” she interjected quickly; proud of herself for finding a non Nixy-approved topic.
“Indeed. He would not miss such a great battle.”
“True, it will be.” She grew quiet again. “Jonathon?”
“Yes Briar?”
“Do you wonder what will happen?” She began to regret the conversation. She was a paladin, and was always ready to lay down her life in battle and Tempustian glory. But for the first time, she felt real fear, and she was not sure where it came from, or what she was truly afraid of.
“Of course, it is hard to imagine what awaits us.”
“Are you afraid?”
“Not of death.”
“Then what are we afraid of?” She was immediately embarrassed by the question. She felt him stiffen uncomfortably next to her. They both took a lengthy swig of whiskey.”
“Spiders,” he finally answered.
“Spiders?”
“Yes, spiders… Not the big ones, the little ones that come into your tent at night and crawl on your toes whiles you are trying to sleep… I hate those.”
She could not help it… She laughed. She laughed so hard she could barely stay seated. “Really? Spiders? The great Inquisitor that shall judge the wicked and shred their soul is afraid of a little tree spider?”
“I never said I could not remain calm. I just don’t want to wake up half paralyzed from spider venom. At any rate, it is your turn.” He smiled, sipping his drink.
“My turn?”
“Yes, what are you afraid of?”
“Well I was afraid of you judging me, but now I know I can just carry a spider around, and that won’t be problem.”
He rolled his eyes, and gave a wry smile. “Ha… ha… Seriously, what is your fear?”
“Right now,” she looked down at the half empty decanter. “That His Royal Holiness will discover that I am drinking all his whiskey.”
He took the decanter from her gently. “While I am not worried about the spirits, I do worry that you will not be in fighting shape tomorrow.”
Her head felt heavy, and her vision blurred. “I am perfectly fine,” she insisted; attempting to stand. Her balance was lost quickly, as she stumbled back onto the bench, as he caught her.
“Perfectly fine?”
“Aside from the fact that the man that I am dreaming about, and who also happens to be chaste, and who I just saw in glory, currently holding my waist, and oh Tempus do I need to stop drinking.” Blush burned her cheeks like the fires of Kossuth.
He chuckled. “Well I feel I should tell you something Briar.”
“That you are going to have to shred my soul?
“That I am not chaste.”

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The Paladin

She stared at her reflection in the small silver mirror that was propped up against her satchel. Swollen eyes looked back at her: swollen, red, teary and “too close together”. “Too dark” she recalled him telling her. She was too broad, too skinny; her hair was too brown, and too curly. She was too boisterous, and too tall. His voice echoed inside her head, and laughed at her through the small mirror; her mother’s gift to her for their wedding. She began to braid her hair in her usual way: tight plait in the Eastern style with tendrils feeding all through to hide her curls. The young girl continued to look at her from the mirror, eyes still swollen, and scared.

A Paladin does not fear. She remembers her faith, and it gives her strength.

She was not a paladin then. She was a young bride; far too young to know what it meant to be a woman or a wife… or a mother. She looked away from the mirror.

A Paladin does not cower. Tempus shines his light, and presents her true battle.

The girl in the mirror changed. Her eyes were now black and blue from bruises and exhaustion. She was still a bride, but also a fighter in training. “Can take down a grown man, but can’t seem to carry a boy.” Her mother’s cackling this time.

A Paladin does not heed the words of mortals, only Tempus’s might.

The eyes seemed darker now, and still damp and younger. “Briar, look at you, no wonder he wants the chambermaid.” Choking back her tears, she breathed in deep and picked up the mirror. She scowled into its depths, before throwing it back into her sack.

A Paladin is faith, and nothing less.

Balystia picked up her halberd, and walked out of the tent. Ciara had made breakfast.

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Pallais was almost finished with her primping. She looked back at the dainty mountain ogre delicately twisting the horse’s mane. The silver mirror was hung against one of the tent pillars, so that the ogre’s clients’ could gaze at themselves. Ballystia smiled as walked outside.

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The Hell we are fighting. Happenings
THings going on that affect Oerth and all campaigns.

Jonathan the Emperor’s brother and an Inquisitor, apparently, falsely soul shredded someone. This can happen if they do not fully Inquire (or perform an inquisition) on a subject. When an inquisitor performs an inquisition, they can see all crimes the suspect has committed, down to any and all crimes and wrong doings to the soul. Once this is done, if they suspect is deemed to have committed grievous wrongs, the Inquisitor can then take their very life essence into themselves and shred their very soul. This means the subject can not be resurrected, and they do not even go to the Abyss. It is as if they never existed. The Inquisitor retains their essence until they have been cleansed. (this is a secret process and can not be discussed here) But they retain a bit of the essence which boosts their own abilities and powers.

If an Inquisitor shreds a suspects soul and the subject has not committed crimes worthy of it, the Inquisitor risks their own soul in turn. Add to that, they risk the revenge of all those they have shredded, by the bit of essence they have retained. This can not only kill the Inquisitor, but shred their own souls as well. It can allow the bits of essence to form into one, or many entities using parts of the Inquisitors soul. There are other issues that can happen, not to be listed here.

This most often happens when they shred a soul without an Inquisition. Often in the heat of battle. Or with an extremely rare fit of rage. As Inquisitors are conditioned to not fall victim to their baser negative emotions, especially in battle.

It appears that when Jonathan was brought through the veil, that he had wrongfully shredded a soul. He was quickly taken to the city of Olympia. His health and current condition is unknown.

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Another letter home

Father,
This world is so dark, the sun never shines. Missing home and everyone a lot. Kinda neat, got to see Gwen again, she seems to like this odd place. It even smells weird here. Gregor stayed behind at the last realm we visited. Odd, when I travelled with him, I was always on the edge of battle, without the honor to guard him, I am always on edge. Dar, Roy, and Znomerial all believe in tactics, I get the value, but it still seems weird not just flying into a fight. With Gregor gone, I wonder who we are now, I mean folks called us Imperial Wrecking Crew, but I am the only one from the crew still on the quest.

How are things? I miss everyone so much. Please let them know I’m not dead yet, and am looking forward to an army of crushing hugs, hoping the hounds still recognize me, Who is off adventuring these days? How is Uncle Yarp? My sisters, my brother? The nieces and nephews? Hope my feet find their way home soon.

Much love,
Ciara

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The Log Book of Captain Karl Fischer

This is an interesting realm. Full of danger, monsters, and monsterous people, and an overwhelming miasma of evil.

Good thing I’m no Paladin.

I have finally had occasion to let loose a bit in combat. We worked to defend the town we rested in from a nightly attack by the denizens of the mist, and I brought down a taste of true Chaos to the monsters below. It felt… Good. I don’t particularly like this realm, but the chaos that permeates is surprisingly comfortable, in much the same way as a stormy sea.

All the same, I feel our time here is coming to an end, and I miss my boat. I will ride the tides of fate as the winds that blow will allow, but I will do my best to tack my way back home all the same.

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Ravenloft: Report 01
Dar hasn't spoken in awhile

After Action: Pandera

Have defeated the World Dragon of this realm. No casualties in our party. Good news that we do not have to deal with the rebuilding of the infrastructure here. Greggor and Deidra are staying in this realm to guide the new belief in Tempus who had no strength here before. Onyxia is being recalled for additional training under Liad.

Tempus has given those that remain gifts as we transfer to the next realm. It is… Good to be back in my own skin.

Initial Report: Ravenloft

Passed through portal and have been met by the contact. Dragons have taken form of horses to allow unnoticed travel, unknown how long this will last. Escorted through the Mist to a safe location controlled by the Lord of the land, an ally vampire who is married to our Contact. Have visited nearby town to gain intelligence on weapons of the land and area knowledge.

Troop Status:

Ballystia: Morale is low since her close friend has stayed behind with Greggor, as well as the Evil and Chaos that ooze from every sense of this realm. Getting back to military habits and discipline should help, smiting the evil would help more, but would also likely make us all dead.

Ciarra: Appears to be a little lost without being directly charged with protecting Greggor, but otherwise is fully combat effective.

Roy: Is invincible. He says so himself.

Karl: Seems more at home in the Chaos of this realm than most, and his bond with his Dragon is unnerving on occasion. No recommendations at this time.

Znamerel: Seems largely unphased by the evil or the chaos. Assigned to help protect the Paladin

Threats:
Werewolves – High: Bites infectious. Immune to or heal quickly from most damage. Use of Silver and Fire strongly suggested.

Vampires – High: Possibly infectious? Immune to some damage. Silver, wood, and fire strongly suggested.

Wendigo – Moderate? – Unknown threat, further assessment required.

Dragons – High: Breath weapons, magic, and riders are all forces to be reckoned with.

Vampire Lords – Extreme: Very, very powerful mages / vampires with their own private armies and large territories. Exercise extreme caution, do not engage if possible to avoid.

The Mist – High?: Unknown effects, possible transport to unknown worlds. Strong Chaos field. Impairs vision, raises risk of ambush.

Demons – Low to moderate: Demons may be hunting me.

Gear Assessment: Have obtained new weapon, a cutting fist blade imbued and engineered directly to combat the major threats of the realm.

Mission Assessment:
Time Constraint: Mission requires readiness at any moment as Dragon Gate appearance is sporadic and multiple forces have an interest. Lawful Good companions add challenges that have been handled to a degree. As long as we follow the rules of this world and not give away our presence until it is too late to react effectively to us, I believe we have a high chance for success.

The longer we wait on high alert, the slower we will be capable of responding. Free time should be spent training or attempting rest and relaxation to maintain maximum combat effectiveness.

And with Greggor occupied, we might even be able to use tactics for once.

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Balystia's Journal
Paladin's Thoughts

All Praise and Glory to Tempus
I have not been so bold has to chronicle thus far. It has been strange not having the benefits of my dearest friend’s company anymore. We both knew we would eventually part ways, and she has been my rock for these last twenty years. Yet, it still seems too soon. Tempus watch over my friend as she continues in her walk of a magus.

May I walk in His Stride
Balystia

All Praise and Glory to Tempus
I feel a pressing loneliness with the ongoing travels. Is this what homesickness feels like? Ciara speaks of it some, with her family and Duchy. However, other than Nixie, I am beginning to wonder what it is that was home. Tempus is my Light and my Heart, yet somehow my heart is heavy. I think I place myself in misery too much. I must remind myself of purpose. Tempus be All.

May I walk in His Stride
Balystia

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Karl's Private Log

Since waking up in a dinghy all those years ago, I have been killed at least twice, accidentally killed myself once, hunted and killed our enemies without mercy, and even eaten the heart of a fallen foe. I have sailed oceans that brought me closer to my god, and trod deserts where I felt no further from him. I have fished, cooked, healed, sailed, hiked, bled, and sweat for my friends, my country, and the gods who guide us along our path. I have seen Temples raised to friendly gods, and destroyed temples of the evil ones.

I ride a dragon, K’Sellis, and we have been at each other’s sides even through the veil of death and back. Truth to tell, it is hard to tell where one of us begins and the other ends.

Perhaps, if we ever return to Oerth, we shall explore the seas and oceans. We look forward to a time when we again can spend our afternoons with our feet in the water and fish on our line.

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