Tears of Celeris

The History
Everything what's happened up to now

For many thousands of years, the world was comprised of two great continents, the dragonlands to the west and the land of the giants to the east. At some point roughly 3,000 years ago, the dragons mysteriously disappeared from the western continent. At almost the same time, a horde of cruel demonic dragons Two years after the dragons requested that the giants relinquish control of all lands once held by the dragons, the Diamond Throne delivered its response to the dragons. The Diamond Throne rejected the dragons’ demands, replying that they did not liberate these lands from the dramojh only to give them over to those too weak to defend them. During those two years, the debating, negotiating, bickering and arguing which finally led to their response nearly tore the Diamond Throne apart. The resulting war with the dragon empire quickly finished the job.

The giants split into three distinct groups. Roughly half remained loyal to the Diamond Throne and immediately took up arms to protect the lands of the Diamond Throne from any who would seek to conquer them. Most of the rest split off to form the Diamond Shield and the returners. The Diamond Shield believed that the native races had advanced to the point that they no longer needed either the giants or the dragons to protect them. The returners believed that, if remaining meant forcing the lands of the Diamond Throne into war, the giants had no choice but to return to the eastern continent.

The Littorians sided largely with the Diamond Shield, as did the humans while the sibbecai remained loyal to the Diamond Throne. The faen divided themselves between the Diamond Throne and the Returners, largely depending on whether they believed destruction on such a massive scale was justifiable. Almost all of the mojh attempted to enter into the service of the dragons fearing that, with the onset of the war, the prejudice they had always experienced would only grow stronger. The Verrik, on the other hand, tried to keep to themselves in their southern cities, hoping that being out of sight would keep them safely out of mind although in secret they did what they could to support the Diamond Shield.

Had either the dragons or the giants been truly united, the war would have been over quickly. However, as fractured as the giants were, the dragons were moreso. Even before they declared war on the Diamond Throne, the dragons, while generally in agreement that the giants should be purged from their ancient home, found themselves in sharp conflict as to how the giants should be dealt with and how their lands should be divided up once the giants were gone. Thus the war dragged on for several years with the Diamond Throne maintaining their lands in the north, the Diamond Shield holding sway over the southern lands and the dragons remaining largely in the west. It appeared to be a stalemate, until the gigas appeared.

Magisters working for the Diamond Throne discovered a way to create crystals which contained incredible power out of the strange stones which had recently begun falling from the moons orbiting the world. They created one crystal for each of the moons: red, green, purple and silver but shortly after they completed the last crystal, a spy working for the dragons stole the green moon crystal, along with the research that had been done on creating qeapons to utilize the power of the crystals, and delivered them to the dragons. In relatively short order, the dragons created the first gigas. They crafted an immensely powerful construct in the form of a 200 foot dragon which was powered and controlled via the green moon crystal. The Diamond Throne responded to this new threat with a gigas of their own and, once the Diamond Shield succeeded in ‘acquiring’ the red moon crystal, they too constructed a gigas to defend them from their enemies now vastly superior military might. Then the exodus occurred.

In the space of a single day, almost all of the magisters disappeared from the continent- the mojh, the verrik, even the magisters allied with the Diamond Throne and the Diamond Shield- all disappeared. Even more worrying to some, the silver moon crystal also disappeared. While this resulted in something of a cease fire as those that remained focused on trying to understand what happened, the bitter hatred which the war had instilled in all three sides soon got the best of them and they redoubled their efforts to eradicate eachother. Just when it appeared that their collective bloodlust would result in the destruction of the entire continent, all three empires were brought to their knees by the greatest cataclysm this world has ever seen; the rains of destruction.

Late one night there was a brilliant flash of light in the northen sky. Shortly thereafter, millions of moonstones began to rain down upon the world. At first they were fairly small, but as night gave way to morning, the falling moonstones became larger and larger until by midday boulders the size of houses were crashing down all around. Then they started exploding. Millions died that first day and millions more in the days following. By the time the rains stopped, vast landmasses had been thrown into the sky where they remained, supported by the very moonstones that had torn them apart and the world’s surface was no longer habitable, so deeply was it buried in ash, dirt and roiling storms. Only those lucky enough to find themselves on the gigantic floating islands survived the nightmare, though for many of those who did manage to survive, the harsh reality of a world bereft of civilization proved to be more than they could cope with.

The next hundred years saw the invention of the airship and, with inter-island travel now possible, some semblances of civilization were quick to follow. The few dragons who survived the cataclysm went into hiding on remote islands as the other surviving races generally held them responsible for the destruction of the world. Those who had remained loyal to the Diamond Throne formed the Valuan Empire on one of the near continent sized islands. The Diamond Throne was reborn in a sense, but it had been twisted and corrupted by the war and the cataclysm. Where once they had striven to protect the weak, now they strove to dominate. Their leaders came to believe that only by spreading their domain over the entire world could peace and order be maintained. The Verrik formed the merchant nation of Nasr in an effort to solidify their independence while the survivors of the Diamond Shield, having been spread across dozens of smaller islands, splintered off into the various air pirate families which exist today. Nothing was ever found of the magisters, though in the intervening centuries magisters have once again become relatively common among the new nations.

It has now been eight hundred years since the cataclysm and all are becoming uneasy with the ever increasing strength of the Empire’s armada.

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Part 1: The Traveller
the enemy of my enemy...

You’d all been out pirating for a few weeks and were on your way home when, late one night, Av’r spotted a small ship flying a good mile higher than your ship or any ship you were aware of was capable of flying. Not being able to ascertain anything about the ship other than that it was made out of a blue metal, your captain decided to attempt to intercept the ship once it had dropped into reach. The ship noticed you at some point and changed course to head for some islands, accelerating just enough to stay out of your reach. Unfortunately, as it was approaching the islands, an imperial cruiser came into view and succeeded in capturing the crew of the blue ship, though the ship itself was destroyed in the process. You guys decided to board the cruiser and rescue whoever was in the strange ship since they were obviously not imperial.

In the process of defeating the crew, the prisoners managed to escape and assisted you in defeating the 10 foot long half stone wolverine who had been guarding Admiral Alfonso. Unfortunately, the admiral managed to set a self-destruct system before jumping ship, however you were able to deactivate the device before it went off. The captain has named Thorrim captain of the newly liberated cruiser and has given him a dozen or so crewmembers to run the ship as well as you and the rest of the party as officers. You’re all now on your way home

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Part 1.1: Home Sweet Home
Congratulations! Now, who are you?

You arrive back at home four days later with no incident. The captain tells you all (including Mir) to report to the meeting hall the following morning to clear up all the questions surrounding Mir. In accordance with family tradition, the captain keeps 20% of the money you found and gives the rest, along with all other loot, to Thorrim to distribute as he sees fit. ‘Well done.’ he tells you all, ‘The officers and I were talking about it over the last few days and we all agree you’ve proven yourselves worthy of your own ship and your own crew. As such, once alfonso’s ship has been refitted, reshaped and renamed, she’ll be yours. In the meantime, however, one of our scouts reported a sizeable moonstone shower falling over Kaptchka island off to the west, so after our meeting tomorrow I’d like you to take the sloop over there and pick up whatever you can- now that we’ve got two ships to fuel we’re gonna need all the moonstones we can get our hands on.’

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Part 1.2: The meeting
Do we have an accord?

After everyone has taken their seats in the map room, Tobias stands and addresses Mir, “Please understand that we as Diamond Rogues do not normally question those we rescue from the Valuaans, however, due to the extremely strange circumstances surrounding your capture by the Empire, we must know more about you before we can properly assess what repercussions may come of your rescue. To that end, Where did you come from and why were you attacked by the Empire?”

Before Mir has a chance to respond, The door opens and a tall human enters the room. After introducing himself as ‘Cameron’, he steps further into the room, bowing slightly towards Mir. His attention is caught by Mir’s staff and, after a few moments of study, Cameron says, “What a fascinating material. There is much we can learn from each other.” Taking a seat, he then addresses the rest of the room, “Dinner is on me. There is much to be done before we embark on the next phase of our journey.” Turning to Thorim, he finishes with, “Congratulations, Captain.”

Mir stands and replies, “Well, in answer to your first question Captain Tobias, I am Miran deCallien, archaeologist and explorer in the service of His Majesty Ur-Tanor, King and ruler of the Kingdom of Arcellum, however you may refer to me as Mir. This is my valet, Gi-Gadua. Arcellum is far to the East, which is where we come from, perhaps, oh what is it Gi, 9,000 miles? We’ve really come a long way. We are charged from his majesty to determine what was the reason for the Breaking of the World so many centuries ago; I’m afraid that while we know the world did not use to be in it’s current condition, few records exist in Arcellum. So we are here on an archaelogical expedition to discover whatever ruins and artifacts we can and hopefully gain some insight to the history of our world.

In regards to your second question, Captain, I’m afraid I have no answer. I have been in this part of the world for only a few days, and imagine my surprise when I found not only civilization, but multiple warring parties at that! Gi and I decided that it would be best for us if we avoided contact with the locals as you all seem to be a violent bunch, which is why we attempted to flee from your ship. Unfortunately in the process of fleeing, we stumbled upon that, what did you call them? Valuans? Well, we stumbled upon their warship. They seem to be a trigger happy lot as they fired at me as soon as they saw me. I figured I might distract them long enough to get away by creating an illusion of a dragon, thinking that perhaps they would focus on the dragon and ignore me, but unfortunately my timing with the illusion was off and their shots crippled my ship. Fortunately you came along and rescued me, and well, you know the rest of the story from there.

Unfortunately my expedition has run into a snag; my ship is destroyed and with it all of my provisions and posessions. I need a replacement ship to continue my journey however I have no means to purchase one. Perhaps we can come to some sort of accord?”

Almost immediately, Rafael leaps to his feet and exlaims, “Those dishonorable Valuan dogs! Attacking a simple explorer, who seeks only to caress the history of our broken world. Losing such a ship to them, and with such a lucky shot. They could not have hit you again had they 100 more chances, I can assure you! I am sure that losing such an amazing ship has made the council VERY unhappy… but what a great kingdom to devote such resources to only you two. Ur-Tanor must be a powerful dragon. My brother, you have my sympathy, and I hope our family decides to help you.”

As is often the case after Rafael speaks, the room is silent for several moments.

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Part 1.3 On your marks....Get set...
Welcome Aboard

After a few moments of silence, Thorim stands and responds, “As always, you leave us speechless, Raphael.” Then, turning towards Mir, he continues, “My apologies to our good visitor that our actions led to the lost of your ship. Your ship was a magnificent sight and it saddens me that our curiosity led to the demise of such a marvel. There is no loss so great as the loss of a fine ship and the freedom she provides.

Your tale has sparked the interest of my crew and I believe we can work towards assisting each other in our goals. My crew and I are journeying to the nearby island of Kaptchka today and I remember several ruins there that may interest you. Perhaps you would accompany us and we can learn more of each other and what accord might be reached?”

Mir responds, “Wow, well you’re all an inquisitive bunch! I would be certainly happy to accompany you, the ruins sound quite interesting! Perhaps we will find more information to further my studies, while also aiding you in some way.

I appreciate your condolences for our ship, however Gi and I are alive and for that we have you to thank.” Pausing, he turns to Cameron, grabbing his hand and shaking it vigorously, “Cameron, good to meet you! Always a pleasure to meet a fellow learned in the magical and scientific arts!”

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Part 2: Pirates vs. Ninjas (Take 1)
Of course it's a threatening cloud

The next morning, the newly promoted captain and officers, along with Mir and Gi, board the family barge and head off toward Captchka island. Early in the afternoon of their second day of travel, Thorim spots a small cloud off in the distance moving toward Captchka island, against the wind. In an attempt to get a better idea what they were dealing with, Cameron cast his senses into the cloud and saw a ship with black sails at the center of the cloud.

Since the cloud was going to arrive at the island before their barge could get there anyway, Thorim decided to ignore it for the moment, focusing instead on arriving at the moonstone shower site as quickly as possible. As they neared the island, however, it became apparent that the fog ship was not headed towards the moonstones but rather to an area of dense ruins farther to the north. Deciding that whatever the fog ship was after was likely more valuable than the moonstones they had been sent to recover, Thorim, the officers and Mir took the skiff to the ruins over which the fog ship was now hovering while Gi and the rest of the crew headed on to collect the moonstones.

Setting down in the southern edge of the ruins, the adventurers head north until Mir notices light coming from a window on the third story of one of the two intact buildings in the center of the ruins. They hasten toward the large, grey building and take time to block all the first floor entrances except for the main entrance. That being done, Thorim pulls open the doors at the main entrance and suddenly everything goes dark.

Rafael immediately backs up about 5 steps until he can see again. There’s a dome of darkness in front of him about 40’ in diameter centered more or less on the doors of the buiding. Thorim advances through the darkness until he emerges into a long, two story high entrance hall. A couple of lit sconces along the walls illuminate the apparently empty room. Benirus steps through the edge of the darkness near the wall to Thorim’s right followed closely by everyone else except for Rafael who’s still outside the building.

Cameron and Mir convince Rafael to come through the darkness as Thorim, Av’r and Benirus explore the entrance hall. Av’r flies up to a second floor balcony and, finding nothing of immediate interest, he moves further down the hall crossing a walkway which connects the two halves of the second floor. Shortly after passing a staircase down to the main floor, Av’r enters a hallway and immediately another globe of darkness appears, engulfing him, the walkway and the stairs including Thorim and Benirus who were climbing the stairs to join Av’r. Av’r rushes forward, coming out of the darkness just before encountering a ‘T’ intersection. he turns right and finds some empty rooms and a broken window. Not too far behind him, Thorim and Benirus come to the same intersection and turn left, finding some stairs leading up to the third floor and, more importantly, a dracha in black leather armor and wielding a large sword coming down them.

Back at the entrance, Mir closed the main doors and cast a spell on them to alert him if they were opened while Rafael and Cameron advanced further into the room. At the same moment they first heard sounds of combat coming from the second floor, a large human dressed identically to the dracha appeared from a side corridor and thrust straight at Rafael’s face. Rafael threw his head back and got his shield up just in time to deflect the blow. Before the ninja had time to do anything else, one of the mages mumbled something as only mages do and the ninja’s sword dropped out of his hands, suddenly much too heavy for him to wield. Never one to miss an opportunity, Rafael elbowed the ninja in the ribs and reversing his grip on his sword, cut a deep gash under the ninja’s right arm. Jumping back, the ninja ran up the wall and vaulted over the railing on to the second story balcony, drawing a short sword as he landed.

As the dracha advanced on Thorim, Benirus focused his mind on his sword, changing it into a polearm as he moved to the right side of the hallway behind Thorim. A lot of relatively ineffectual swinging ensued, so we’ll move on to more interesting areas of the battle.

Av’r, assuming that Thorim and Benirus could handle a lone attacker, headed back through the darkness and, noticing the other ninja on the second floor balcony, moved to engage him. At roughly the same time Av’r appeared, Mir’s spell informed him that someone had opened the door and two more dracha ninjas burst from other side corridors and headed straight for the mages. A few dazzlespheres, fireballs, internal combustions and flaming grizzly bears later, however, the mages proved that not being capable of winning a wrestling match with a house cat doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous- a lesson which, sadly, was lost on the now dead ninjas.

Back on the second floor, just as Thorim and Benirus finally dispatched their lone attacker, they noticed a second dracha ninja come halfway down the stairs and then retreat back to the third floor. The party regrouped and gave chase, bursting through a set of double doors at the end of the third floor hallway which opened into a large room which was largely unremarkable except for the intricately carved, 20’ diameter circle of runes in the center of the room which contained a 13’ tall demon. On the other side of the circle knelt the remaining ninja, busily erasing one of the runes which made up the circle. When he saw the party, he grabbed a large bag and attempted to jump out the window but before he could accomplish that Av’r managed to block the window and Thorim, Rafael and Benirus managed to kill him. Noticing that the circle was destabilizing, Cameron worked quickly and was able to redraw the erased rune before the demon broke free.

Av’r, looking out the window, noticed a 100’ section of rope dangling about 10 feet away from the window which appeared to be attached to the fog ship hovering above. Everyone had just enough time to jump out the window and latch on to the rope before the rope was cut- giving them all a chance to practice their, ‘ah crap, I fell off the airship’ drill.

A few moments and several different magical effects later, they all found themselves on the roof of the now secured building. From there, they did what pirates do best and looted the place from top to bottm. They discovered a secret trap door leading to a basement of sorts, but, just as they were about to explore it, Av’r froze, the blood draining from his face, and said, “We must get back- something horrible has happened at home.”

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Part 3: Change of Address
you have a what?!

Two days later, the group arrived home to find it utterly destroyed. The entire island had been burned over and every major building pounded to rubble. The island was deserted except for Inglo whom they found picking through what was left of his laboratory. He informed them that the Empire attacked two days ago with no warning. Tobias and his crew boarded Alfonso’s ship as quickly as they could and attempted to defend the island, but they were no match for the much larger Imperial warships. The ship was completely destroyed, all hands were lost. During that time, however, Inglo and Sherra were able to teleport about 80% of the family to Cameron’s castle.

“Cameron’s what?!” Thorim interjected.

“Some years ago my father gave me the key to a castle magically suspended far above the planet. Perhaps we should travel there before continuing this discussion.” Pausing, Cameron turned to Inglo, “If you’d be so kind.”

A few moments later, the party found itself in the lavishly furnished antechamber of a large castle. Moving into the main hall, they find Sherra organizing what supplies she could find to distribute amongst the people arrayed all about the room. Inglo goes on to tell the adventurers that the 4 imperial ships which attacked the island were led by both Admiral Alfonso and Admiral Edea and that, after killing everyone they could find, the imperials spent a full day searching the island before burning everything to the ground. He wasn’t able to determine what they were looking for, but whatever it was, it didn’t look like they found it.

After much deliberation, Thorim decided that they would take the barge to Archon’s Rest and attempt to trade the newly acquired moonstones for a ship while at the same time calling a meeting of the Diamond Rogue captains.

The group docked at Archon’s rest a few days later and learned that a fleet of ten imperial ships passed through Archon’s Rest the day before their island was attacked. This seemed especially strange as only four ships participated in the attack. After some pirate soul searching, the group agreed that their interests would be much better served by commandeering a ship and keeping the moonstones and, as such, they found a ship that suited their needs and set up a meeting with the captain to discuss the smuggling of their moonstones into the empire. The initial meeting is successful and the captain Johnson agrees to accompany them back to the warehouse they rented where the moonstone is being stored.

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Part 4: Assembling the Fleet
In the market, as it were...

After preliminarily making a deal with Captain Johnson, Mir, Gi and Rafael led him and his two unarmed and unarmored bodyguards back to the warehouse, ostensibly to pick up the moonstone and take it to Johnson’s ship. Once there, Johnson inspected the moonstone, and, just as he handed over the 2000g he’d promised as an initial payment, Av’r and Thorim sprang the trap.

Reacting quickly to Av’r dropping out of the rafters, striking one of them and gliding out of range, the two bodyguards pulled what appeared to be a handle from their belts and touched them together. As they pulled the handles apart, a hole in the shape of a door opened up between them and out of the hole stepped two more bodyguards. Av’r and Rafael quickly entered melee combat with the bodyguards and were met with a rather formidable wall of fists and feet.

At about the same time, a man in robes appeared not far from Gi with a sour expression on his face. He quickly began casting a spell as Gi advanced on him and was able to mend some of the captain’s wounds before being cut in half.

Back in the center of the warehouse, Av’r deduced that the bodyguards were in fact oathsworn and, reasoning that their oath was most likely to protect the captain, he yelled out for everyone to focus on the captain as he was sent flying across the warehouse floor. Johnson knew he would not be able to escape the warehouse alive with Mir, Thorim and Rafael threatening him while Cameron continued delicately rupturing Johnson’s internal organs, so he drew his pistol and attempted to set off the powdered moonstone, taking them all with him. Fortunately, Thorim managed to disarm him before the shot went off Johnson’s subsequent cursing served as his last words.

With their oath’s broken and their powers lost, the oathsworn surrendered. No sooner did the fight end than Mir and Cameron descended upon the mage’s body and divested it of anything that looked remotely interesting. The rest of the group did the same with the Captain and the bodyguards with particular attention paid to the strange handles each of the bodyguards bore.

After stripping the bodyguards down to their pants and depositing the bodies in a dumpster behind a warehouse a few blocks away, the group went down tot he docks to take command of their newly acquired ship. Thorim, using a magical cloak he’d picked up from the late captain, appeared at the wheel of the ship, currently named The Ferret, in a puff of smoke and announced to the crew that he had replaced Johnson as the captain of this ship and that any who wished to seek employment elsewhere were free to go but any who remained would be treated and paid fairly. Nearly two thirds of the crew elected to remain.

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Part 4.1 The pre-meeting meeting
So do I get a codename?

The following evening, Thorim excused himself from the rest of the group to meet with some of the other Diamond Rogue captains who had been good friends of his father at a tavern called ‘The Lazy Falcon’. He arrived there at the same time as Wendyl and Franz, the captains he was to meet, and they were immediately seated by the barmaid in a back room in which dinner had already been laid out. Wendyl thanked her by name and the three of them sat down to eat.

After a few minutes devoted to eating, Franz mentioned that they chose this tavern because the owner was a retired Diamond Rogue captain who had been a member of a small group of captains called ‘the trusted’, a group which Tobias had also been a member of. He went on to explain that the trusted were first called together by Captain Issachar about 20 years back when rifts began appearing amongst the Diamond Rogues. He chose those he felt most closely embodied the spirit of the Diamond Rogues and charged them with taking a much more active, if covert, role in opposing the empire.” Franz paused. “It was Tobias’ wish that, should anything happen to him, you be inducted into the trusted, but before you decide, let us tell you a bit about what we actually do.”

“Primarily we engage in information gathering and analysis- we’ve never commanded enough firepower to challenge the empire directly. We’ve got a pretty good idea how Edea’s spy network functions and have been able to keep at least our own families free of her spies, though we do know of a few in other Diamond Rogue families.” Franz began, “We know she has people searching for the moon crystals and the ancient gigas, but that they haven’t found any yet. We’ve been trying to keep tabs on Gast’s research, though that has been more difficult. At present we believe he’s working on developing airships capable of passing through riftwalls, but we don’t think he’s been successful yet. We spent a long time assuming that Alfonso’s stupidity was a mask to hide what he was really doing, but we never found evidence of anything going on beneath the surface… it looks like he really is just a moron. Rude we’ve pretty much left alone as he’s basically just their defensive strategist- we know he’s brilliant, so we’ve more or less left it at that. But for everything we know about them, we still have no idea who this Xiphos is, where he came from or why the Empress felt she needed a fifth admiral.”

“Of all of this,” Wendyl interjected, “What worries us most is the Empire’s search for the moon crystals. Even if they never find the gigas, the crystals themselves contain tremendous power. If they ever figure out how to harness that power, there’ll be nothing anyone can do to stop them.” She paused. “The last message I received from Tobias indicated that you had rescued a traveler from the east beyond Nasr shortly after he was captured by Alfonso. That your island was destroyed shortly thereafter by the empire suggests that these events were related. What can you tell us about the traveler and what happened to your family?”

Thorim hesitated only a moment before replying, “First let me say that I am honored by the offer and have long desired for greater action against the Empire. I always feared that our inaction left us vulnerable to the empire whenever they chose to crush us. It appears that has begun.

“Excellent, your father can never be replaced, but we have no doubt you will do him proud.” Franz replied.

Thorim thanked him, then continued, “Several days ago, ten imperial ships sailed past Archon’s Rest. Four ships arrived at our home, including both admiral Edea and Alfonzo (whose ship we had oh so recently acquired), and began bombarding the island. My father took Alfonzo ship and engaged the imperials to allow our people to flee to safety. The ship was demolished and all hands lost. The imperials searched our island for a whole day looking for something before bombarding our settlement and burning the island to the ground.

We (my officers and I) have been trying to determine the cause of this attack and we believe that our visitor from the east may indeed be the cause. That belief is strengthened by your information regarding Gast’s research. The ship being flown was like nothing I had seen before and its loss is quite saddening. At least the imperials were unable to capture it or its crew.

I am disturbed by so large fleet being unaccounted for behind Archon’s Rest. Have you seen any sign of the six ships that did not attack us or any sign of Edea and her four ships in the past few days?”

“Brave to the end… it’s a miracle that so many of your people survived. Who would’ve thought the empire would be so ruthless in its attacks?” Wendyl muses. “Where did this traveler say he was from? What is his purpose here?”

“To answer your questions,” Franz interrupts, “One of our scouts reported seeing six imperial ships near the riftwall bordering Nasrian airspace a few days back. As far as he could tell they weren’t really doing anything, though they did seem to be much more alert than normal. As for Edea, we don’t know, though we don’t have many people in the western half of the area behind Archon’s Rest, so they could easily be hiding there.” He pauses. “You must forgive me for asking, but your account of the attack makes no mention of your own actions, where were you when this happened?”

Thorim responded, “The traveler claims to be an archaeologist from Arcellum and he came from the east beyond Nasr. He accompanied my crew when we were sent by Tobias to collect a recent fall of moonstone to the west. While on our mission, we encountered a strange ship that seemed to be shrouded in a permanent fog. This ship was heading for some ruins on the island where the crystals had fallen so my officers and I went to investigate while the crew collected the crystals. We encountered and defeated a force of black clad humans and dracha who were attempting to acquire some books hidden in the ruins. We were able to stop them, but their ship escaped.

Research into the weapons uncovered the fact that they had been forged in Nasr by a crafter named Geoff. Our research into their ship revealed that the only known memory of the ship was several months ago in ruins to the east of Nasraad.”

“Arcellum, huh.” Wendyl responds, “Well, if his ship was able fly as high as you said, I guess that would explain how he got past the black rift east of Nasr. But who sends an archaeologist as their emissary to new lands and peoples? And in so small a ship? Alone? That just doesn’t make sense. Well, our advice for now is to keep him close and try to help him however you can- perhaps if you win his trust you’ll be able to make sense of all this.”

“As for the fog ship,” Franz says, “Gomez and I will look into that further as most of our business is done in Nasraad. We’ll let you know if anything turns up. In the mean time, we should familiarize you with the details of running a captain’s meeting.”

“Right,” Wendyl interrupts, “Since it’s a special session you’ve called, you’re expected to pay for the first round of drinks- you’re actually getting off kind of light there, since it’s also customary for captains to buy everyone a round at their first meeting. Anyway, once everyone’s gotten their first drink, move up to the bar and introduce yourself, state your business and, well, then it’s pretty much a free for all. Be careful what you say, though- most of the captains would give up whatever information they have if pressed and some would look to sell it- as such, never mention specifics about anything that you don’t want the empire knowing about.”

“More often than not a handful of captains will hang around and play dice or cards after the meeting- you’re welcome to stay for that, but not obligated to.” Hanz mentions, “We all understand that you’ve got a lot on your plate at the moment, so you’ll be cut a lot of slack.”

The three continued to talk late into the night until, noticing the lateness of the hour, Thorim finished the last of his drink and stood, thanking them for their time and thoughts, he left the tavern and headed back to the ship.

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4.2 The meeting
Two pirates walk into a bar...

The next afternoon, Thorim headed over to ‘The Lazy Falcon’ for the captains meeting he had called when they’d first landed at Archon’s Rest. When he arrived at the bar there was a sign on the door saying it was closed, but Grim, the owner, saw Thorim and let him in. The tables were arranged in a sort of semicircle around the bar. Thorim took a seat at the table at one end of the semicircle and called for a drink. Over the next half hour just over 20 captains of various races and demeanors wander in.

The first pirate to show up is a tall male verrik dressed in desert garb who introduced himself as ‘captain Montaigne’ and called for wine from the bar. Following him, a male quickling faen and a female giant enter the bar together laughing heartily. The faen introduced himself as “captain Rex” and the giant as ” captain Vi-Quaron”. They offered their condolences and told Thorim not to hesitate to ask if there was anything they could do. Wendyl and Franz wander in after that and sit down at Thorim’s table.

Three male littorians ambled in a minute or two later. They nodded toward Thorim and took a table on the other side of the room. Franz pointed them out as captains Axle, Slash and Flea and that, their insufferable arrogance aside, they’re all pretty good guys. Gomez and Issachar were next to enter and took the remaining seats at Thorim’s table. They extended their sympathies and also offered to assist Thorim in any way they could. A male human entered right behind them and looked questioningly at the barkeep. When the barkeep shook his head, the man let out a sigh of relief before introducing himself as “captain Demic”. He bowed slightly to Issachar and then seated himself at Rex and Vi-Quaron’s table.

A number of extras wander in over the next ten minutes or so, more or less filling the tables. The only other person of note is a female sibbecai who introduced herself as “captain Isyyl” and then went to sit with Montaigne.

Once assembled, they were a fairly rowdy bunch- mostly friendly though one or two arguments sprang up regarding what amounted to spheres of influence disputes which pretty much ran up until Thorim called the meeting to order.

“Fellow captains! I hope you have all enjoyed the drinks that Grim is putting on my tab, but the reason for my presence here is dire enough that I must interrupt the emptying of my money pouch.” Thorim began. “My thanks to you for answering my call. I pray that your families are well and your trip here has not unduly hurt your ventures. My name is Thorim Rebant and have long dreamed of sitting by my father’s side at such a gathering. To my utter regret, such a thing will now never come to pass. I am deeply saddened to stand before you and confirm that my father, Tobias Rebant, along with all of his crew have been taken from our lives by a cruel strike from Valua.”

Over two weeks ago, ten warships of Valua passed Archon’s Rest and entered what many among us believed was a safe haven from their advances. Four of those warships sailed directly to my family’s home and began bombarding our people. My father and his brave crew took the battle to the Valuans, but despite his great skill, four warships were too much for even him and his ship was lost toe the Maelstrom along with all hands on board. However, their actions allowed many of our people to escape and hide until the Valuans departed and I had returned from the mission my father had sent me on.

I ask for no pity for our family, though we have suffered great loss. We are strong and will thrive long beyond this tragedy. I ask instead for your aid in addressing the grave threat to us all that ten Valuan warships south of Archon’s Rest pose.”

Axle responded by asking, “If 10 warships passed Archon’s Rest and you were attacked by only 4, what was the point of the other 6? Do you know who led the attack?”

He was followed closely by Montaigne who asked, “Do you have any idea why the Empire felt you needed to be exterminated?”

Kain paused only a moment longer before saying, “If it would be helpful, I could accommodate you and your family at our home- at least while you rebuild or look for a new place.”

Looking at each of them in turn, Thorim responded, “Thank you for your gracious offer, Kain. Perhaps after this meeting is concluded we might discuss what aid would be best for both of our families. That is a matter which does not need to consume the time of the others gathered here.”

“That is a fine question, Axle, but one that I do not have an answer for. I only learned of the fact that there were ten warships when I arrived here in Archon’s Rest and began sending out the calls for this meeting. My time since has been focused on acquiring the supplies that my family needs for their survival, so I have only spared a few crew members to search for more details on their whereabouts.I had hoped that perhaps among all of us here that we could puzzle together enough tidbits of information to determine why the Empire has come and where their ships have done.

As for who led the attack… my family knows the banner of Alfonzo and it was clearly displayed during the attack, although such a move seems overly competent and aggressive for Alfonzo to have succeeded without support.

My first fear was that the attack was the result of the recent… disenfranchisement… that Alfonzo felt watching my family and I sail away on his ship. Given that Alfonzo’s forced disembarkment happened only days before this attack, I doubt that even his ties of kinship to the Empress would allow him to convince the other Admirals to send ten warships so far afield.so quickly. I believe that these ships were already on their way here on a mission, though perhaps our actions served to help the Valuans chose which family to destroy first.

While it might be convenient to believe that this is a strike solely against my family, I am convinced that some greater scheme is in plan and the attack on my family is just the first move in a series that could see us driven into the Maelstrom. We have long been a thorn in the side of the Empire and while we see our families as autonomous units functioning separately from each other, do not doubt that the Empire sees us as one monolithic plague and they will wipe us all from the sky for the actions of any family.”

The room buzzed with discussion for some time before Rex mentioned, “Alfonso, eh? I got a report this morning that a group of 4 ships bearing his Insignia Passed the Valuan Gate late last night.”

Isyyl looked about the room and then said, “My spies within the empire have not mentioned anything about a concerted effort to wipe out the Diamond Rogues- though there has been talk about them preparing for a war with Nasr.”

To which Wendyl responded, “If they were preparing for a war with Nasr, they should be building up their forces along the northern corridor but last we heard the Eastern fleet is actually running smaller than usual.”

Thorim considered for a moment, then replied, “That is most disturbing news, Rex. I am quite certain that Alfonso was involved in the attack on my family and I am equally certain that no one saw him pass back north through Archon’s Rest. That raises the grave concern that they have discovered some method to pass what was previously thought of as impassable… If they have truly discovered a way to pass through the barriers, wouldn’t the best location to strike Nasr through the barriers between us and Nasr?”

Flea looked first at Wendyl, then at Thorim and asked, “So what do you propose we do, Captain Thorim? Has not the empire always rooted us out when they discover our hiding places? What options do we have other than living in and attacking from the shadows?”

Thorim immediately answered, “We have always run and hid because the Valuans do not fear us. They sail ten warships past our city and we do nothing except scurry further into the shadows and hope they are looking for some other family. I say we gather our ships and hunt down the six Valuan ships remaining in our territory and teach them that a strike at the Diamond Rogues will be a bloody affair for them.”

The room erupted into arguing with the captains pretty much evenly split between wanting to teach the Valuans a lesson and fearing such action would doom them all. This went on for a couple minutes before Issachar stood and moved up to the bar next to Thorim. As he turned to face the room, everyone quieted down. “Something must be done about the Valuans, yes, but we must be sure of our stroke before we move against them. There are too many questions facing us: where are the six ships? what are they doing? Have the Valuans found a way to bypass the riftwalls? Why did they attack Captain Thorim’s family in the first place? Beyond that, at the moment they believe your family to be disorganized and leaderless if not completely destroyed – a belief which will be very useful for you while you build yourself a new home. Once you have answers to these questions and your family is safe, then you will be ready to lead an attack on the Valuans which will remind them that the world is not theirs to do with as they please. When that time comes, you will have at your disposal every Diamond Rogue interested in keeping that name.” With that, he moved back to his seat and sat down.

After pausing to gauge the reactions of the captains to Issachar’s statement, Thorim spoke, “Thank you, Captain Issachar. Your wisdom is most appreciated in harnessing my enthusiasm. I will heed your council and suggest we focus our efforts on finding these ships and determining their goals and abilities before we make our strike. While I focus my efforts on rebuilding my family’s home, I hope others can carry a larger portion of the burden of collecting this information. I propose we plan to meet again in three weeks time unless dire or favorable news dictates we meet sooner.”

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