It’s me Maga, again. I’m tellin’ Jenny what to write on this letter to you. He says the paper’s too wet and it’s prob’ly gonna come apart when he scratches on it, but it’s all I got. The paper was in my pack, brung here from Keford. And the pack was on my back when we went down under the ocean to the bottom where the water ran out and there was land again.
The last I told you, we was in a dark cave where some bugs lived. Well, the bugs stopped comin’ and we rested and I smoked a fag. Then we left the cave and the town where all the people got stolen. Then we left to go back to Keford to see the Aeon Priestess lady and the pirate king. What? Oh, Jenny says he’s Ayderman the Masturstrate.
So then, we was on the road riding them big ole critters some more for a long time and we saw some of them mad-faced glaives we seen before, heading back into Navarene. One of them told us their old leader, Dilron, and the other bad ones stayed over in Ghan to go fuck with the woodmen some more. Then we was getting’ near Keford and Pyx, the little owl that Ildrak wears on his shoulder, went up real high and said he saw some men hidin’ up a ways behind a big rock. One of them men ain’t no man, just that mutie bastard called Octy. I said, “It’s gotta go, ‘fore he fouls the gene pool.” That’s what Mama always said anyways, “Maga we’re just lucky you’re one of a kind, so, see… it’s your duty to not let the gene pool get any worse.” Not sure what she meant, ‘cept to kill them muties.
So, then, Ildrak sneaks way, way around the back of them men hiding over there, sneaky bastard, and then he uses this crazy cypher to stick his hand way, way across the empty field and then he dropped a bomb right in their laps and it blows up real good. Them men and Dilron and and Octy are all blowed up and then me and you, what? It’s Jemmy? Whatever, Jenny. And me and Jenny and Dudley start riding them critters real fast at the rocks, and them men is scared and running away, so we start fighting them, and I shoot down Octy pretty quick ‘cuz he was a mutie pussy. But Dudley’s having a bad time with Dilron, and Dudley is bleedin’ real bad and fighting a couple them other men too. Ildrak is shooting some beam gun from the behind the rocks, ‘cept I don’t think he knew how to work it proper and then he broke it. So me and Jenny help Dudley out and we finally knock Dilron’s men down and Jenny shoots Dilron with that dart gun he sewed on his arm and Dilron ain’t dead, but can’t move, but then I whacked him dead ‘cuz he was a mutie-lover.. Them glaives ain’t got nothing valuable ‘cept Dilron has some nice armor, but then we leave it’ cuz if you’re gonna wear it, people will think you are a mutie-lover.
So at Keford, the Aeon lady gives us stuff so we can go to the bottom of the ocean and find them metal men that has been stealin’ everyone. It’s a mask for breathing and some pills that keep us from being crushed like a bug by all that water on top of us. We go out on a boat with some of Ayderman’s men and then we lower the anchor chain. Then like two hours later it lands and we go down in the water with our masks and stuff. Everyone else wears some suit to keep them warm. Me, I like cold water so I go bare chested like Pa showed me. “Keep divin, son,” he’d say, “ dive a little deeper next time, son, and try goin’ real deep in one of them caves where them harrier-sharks live, pretty sure there’s treasure.”
We finally touch the bottom of the ocean and it is dark down there. We followed Jenny’s flesh compass and some other thing Dudley was carryin’ that told us where the metal men was, and they was pointin’ different ways, so we din’t follow any of them and then found a shimmery place in the water where it was real warm in there and I could breathe real good, better than I ever did up on the land. So we followed along until we come to a door in a blue-metal building. We went in and found another inside room still full of water with a big window of another room with air in it. We went up a ladder into that room and then took off our masks and such, and my smokes was still dry so I had a fag. Then Ildrak made a bunch a noise opening a door and a metal man came after us all. I don’t know why back home in Hyrem, we kill’t like two of them metal men apiece, but this one was real tough and I kept slippin on the wet floor, and ‘fore I know it Ildrak is frozen by the metal man’s dart, and then ‘fore I know it I am frozen by another dart. And Jenny and Dudley gotta kill that robot themselves. And they do and then they wait a long time I still can’t do nothin’ ‘cept move my eye a little. Then they got bored and they open another door and I hear a big long fight and it sounds mostly like Jenny beating on a metal man with a boat-hook. Then it’s real quiet. Then they come drag us frozen ones into a big room and now I can sit up and I look over and there’s Julletine, my cousin’s brother’s wife, lookin’ all pale and sickly. She told us she’s the last from Hyrem and everyone else been pumped full of stuff from tubes by the metal men and shoved through into some kinda doorway, ‘cept not like a normal doorway.
Uncle, we’re kinda fucked again, and I wish you was here with us. We’re all beat up and Ildrak can move his big toe only. And now somehow we gotta figure out about that weird doorway and get ourselves and Julletine outta the bottom of the ocean. And maybe along the way, find my other uncle’s sister and my uncle’s sister’s daughter, too.
Sparks shot from beneath the dashboard and a light haze of smoke filled the cabin of the damaged hovercar as the pilot gunned the throttle and banked hard around the derelict Hotel Imperial. The vehicle responded with a slight stutter and then the engines whined at full power as it picked up speed, headed directly for the cable dangling between the two towers. In the front passenger seat sat a gasping, semi-conscious man, his head leaning against the window. Blood ran down his temple and cheek, his hand clutched at his jacket and ballistic vest beneath it; from a small hole in the vest pulsated his blood, soaking his shirt. The passengers in the back seat clutched the seats in front of them, watching helplessly as the dark buildings raced past on either side of them.
“Buckle up everyone!” yelled the pilot, flying directly at the cable.
To their left, they saw the landing pad and roof of the building they had taken off from just a few seconds and one orbit around the Hotel building previously. Three men ran across the roof toward the landing pad, guns raised, tracking the hovercar, muzzle flashes illuminating the dark rooftop. Just as the hovercar struck the suspended data cable and sheared it completely with a sharp “thwap”, another sound pinged from the front of the vehicle as a bullet struck the hovercar. Flames licked out of the engine access panel and immediately the car began to drop, it’s forward momentum hurling it blocks away from the building, out over the Ebisu Quarantine Zone and toward Tokyo Bay.
“Yeeehaaaw!” screamed the pilot, his hands held above his head, as if in in surrender.
Seconds seemed like an eternity to the four of them, as the rippled surface of the water mirroring the neon lights and streams of aerial traffic above the vast city rose up to meet the hovercar and its doomed passengers.
“They got the texture of the water just right, really amazing graphics!” said one of the hovercar occupants, actually 1st Midshipman of the PCCS St. Croix, pulling off his VR headset and looking around the gaming chamber at his shipmates still jacked into in the simulation, wearing their rigs: headsets, haptic feedback suits and gloves, and suspended on their VR treadmill platforms.
In the low gravity, the players rebounded lazily on their treadmills, the tethers around their waists attached to the machines so they wouldn’t bounce themselves into the ceiling of the game room.
“Thanks for spoiling the mood, ass,” said the St. Croix’s Comms Ensign, pulling off his headset. “And way to get us all killed. We’re on the goddamn waiting list for the VR room for three, four rotations, and now our shore-leave is shot. Ass.”
“That’s totally what Tokyo really looks like, I was there when I first shipped out for TC,” said the St. Croix’s Cryptology Technician, a Corporal by the insignia on his coveralls.
“I know, you said that, like three hundred times,” said the St. Croix’s 1st Fire Control Technician. “But we still have the game room reserved for one more cycle. We can just reset it so we can go back in and at least see how the story wraps up. Or do you want to try a different game? The AI that runs this one is a bit of a prick.”
“The most hilarious thing is how they make Parkfield Biolabs out to be either some evil corp or a bunch of bumbling idiots,” said the corporal, chuckling and taking a swig from a beer set on the floor next to the VR treadmill, and rubbing the Parkfield Biolabs patch on his shoulder. “Super-poutine! Gets me every time. You know, since that’s what we haul?”
“No, the most hilarious thing is how you think you can fly a hovercar,” said the midshipman. “Ok, we ship out again tomorrow, so do you guys want to see if we can finish it this time?” said the FCT. “Who knows when we’ll be back on a rock big enough to have a decent game room again.”
“And I love how Meatstick gets their product placement in there. Everywhere,” said the cryptologist, taking a bite from a Ghost Pepper Meatstick™.
Outside the game room, the station’s business continued, unconcerned with the VR simulation and the gamers, it’s multitude of crews performing their duties, maintaining the ships docked there, and the station itself, half-buried on the surface of a moon orbiting a gas giant known as “Colossus”, orbiting a star called Epsilon Eridani, ten-and-a-half light years from Tokyo.
A rare sunbeam penetrates the low dark rain clouds that are a permanent feature of Tokyo in 2225. The beam pierces the dusty window blinds at the Katsura Kojo Haruna Biolabs safehouse and sears its rays into the faces of several passed out people strewn about the room.
“Turn it off, please…” whispers Kitsune.
“Uhh, I don’t feel so good,” moans Kozo, as he rolls off the couch. The business journal that was spread over his face falls to the floor. He makes a quick dash to the bathroom and falls to his knees at the toilet, heaving up what sounds like some internal organs.
“Shut the fuck up, Kozo, you’re too loud,” mutters Toshiro. A cigarette burns in his mouth as his VR rig is perched askew on his face seemingly upside and backwards.
Bobby Datsun lies in a ball curled up under the dinette table among Meatstick and Bubble Wrap containers.
“What the fuck did we drink?” asks Nosumi.
“We drank all the Kirin and then Toshiro dared me to drink the stuff in Sureji’s jar, so I did,” responds Bobby without moving or opening his eyes. “Just a shot of that stuff got me totally fucking lit. Then you guys saw that I didn’t die so you all started dipping into it too.”
“Holy shit, that’s right,” says Kitsune. “I had the craziest dream—I was a software developer at some corporation. What a nightmare! I feel like I was passed out for like two months. What day is it?”
“Wait, what? We drank Sureji’s head juice?” asks Toshiro sitting up. “So he’s, like, really dead now?”
“No he’s fine, we left enough to so that his brain-stem is still covered. See!” Kozo says as he emerges from the bathroom. He points to Sureji’s jar sitting on the kitchen counter. Sureji’s eyes are bulging out like bloodshot marbles and his mouth opens and closes spasmodically. “Hey guys, my deck says it’s Wednesday. I seriously can’t remember….” Kozo cuts off as…
Suki Greenberg steps off the elevator and enters the common area. She walks in silently, kicking an empty sake bottle out of the way. She sits on the sofa next to the new guy, Nosumi, and adjusts the necktie fastened around his forehead so that he can see her, and then pats down his hair that is sticking up. She looks into his eyes and brushes off some crumbs stuck to his cheek. She wets her thumb and rubs off some cigarette ash staining his chin. “I had hoped you might be more….socialized than these psychopaths. Your sales pitch to the Yakuza was so inspired….” she says wistfully.
“So, you all are having trouble remembering what’s happened the last few days? Killed off the brain cell that was the tipping point for the rest of your limbic systems? Allow me to refresh your memories.” Suki stands as if to lecture to a classroom.
“C’mon, Suki, not now. I’m really sick,” begs Toshiro.
“Oh? You’re sick? Do you need a sick day? Do you want a tummy rub?” She brings down her entire body-weight onto his gut with her elbow. “Sit the fuck up and listen!” Toshiro doubles over, his hands on the coffee table in front of him as he dry heaves.
“Two days ago, you all were tasked with delivering a truckload of KitKats and juice boxes to the Yakuza at their supermarket drop. Apparently, you allowed your delivery route to be compromised, because as you neared the drop off, a mock- auto accident was staged, complete with ambulance, EMT’s and a patient on a gurney, who proceeded to load a missile launcher and aim at you. Oh, and several ‘innocent’ bystanders turned out to be armed with riot guns and turned those on you, as well. There was a huge firefight in the middle of the street, including smoke grenades, a rocket launcher, a mini-gun, many bad guys maimed, run over, cut in half, etcetera, etcetera, near fatalities on your side, company vehicles nearly disabled or destroyed, yada yada yada,…OH! And then you decided to high tail it and to not to deliver the goods! Anyone want to fill me in on the logic of that one? You were about four blocks from their warehouse.”
“So, like, we figured they were bad news and so we beat it out of there,” says Kitsune quietly.
“I take full responsibility. It was my sale and my call to abort the mission. I was pretty shot up, though,” says Nosumi. “If you want my resignation, I am prepared to give it to you.” He stands and bows deeply to Suki.
“Actually, what I want,” says Suki grabbing the necktie hanging from his head and yanking him forward so he sprawls half on the sofa, half on the side table, empty bottles flying. “What I want is for you sorry pieces of shit to put on your big boy pants and get out there and complete that sale! I want to see Wasabi KitKat and Happy Unicorn Juice Box in every vending machine from Tokyo Polytechnic to Yokohama Institute of Technology!”
Suki pauses, gathering herself.
“I’m going to need you guys to figure out how to finish the deal. Ishii wants Isumi’s head or brain or whatever is left of her as part of the first delivery. Fuck knows why. But that’s what she wants. Ichioka is using her brain for supplementary processing on his project. So you know he’s going to need another brain. He’ll want someone good.” Suki’s eye is caught by the business journal laying on the floor. “Someone like her maybe?” She holds up the magazine with a spread and photo of a woman in a lab coat. “I heard she’s the next big up-and-coming genius Over there at…” she glances at the article, “….Eurodyne Corporation. Oh, look, Kozo, she’s a Russkie.”
Suki, tosses the magazine back to Kozo, he flips frantically to the article. From behind the sofa, she puts her hands on Toshiro’s shoulders and gives them a merciless squeeze.
“Yes, the Yakuza seem to have a mole in their midst. But they’ll sort that all out, no doubt. They run a tight ship. And if they can’t sort it, then we will…..offer our assistance,” she says striding around the room, offering a hand to and helping Bobby up off the floor.
“And to show you that I’m not as big a bitch as you think I am, I have received approval to cut you all in for 20% of the proceeds of the first delivery. That’s two million for the numerically challenged. Smile! You all have finally hit the big time.”
Suki turns and walks back toward the elevator, glancing toward the kitchen on her way.
“For fuck’s sake, somebody give Sureji some more goop! He’s really freaking me out.”
“Hey dipshits! Get the rest of the boxes and close the gate!” Suki Greenberg yells from the ancient elevator, which has stopped half a meter below the actual floor level. The drone of wig-making machines hums from below as she hoists a bulky cardboard box onto the floor level and awkwardly climbs up out of the elevator in a short tight skirt. She stoops as if to pick up the box and then thinking differently leaves it. “These are for you. You’re welcome.”
“You shouldn’t have, twinklepie,” mumbles Suko Goro, his mouth full of unidentifiable food product. He does not move from the sink where he stands eating.
“I got it,” says Bobby Datsun as he jumps down into the elevator. With his bulging arms he lifts the three remaining boxes easily, jumps out of the elevator and holds the boxes with one arm supporting them and closes the gate with the other.
“What is it? I can’t see!” yells Sureji’s disembodied head from the kitchen counter.
“Wow is all that chocolate syrup for us?” asks Kozo looking up from his computer deck.
“Yeah, go nuts. Is Ichioka here yet? He called me like three hours ago,” says Suki, just as the elevator hums into life and sinks down into the factory. “Hey Goro, can we talk for a second?” She motions for him to follow her into one of the safe-house offices.
He finishes cramming the food into his mouth without chewing or swallowing then walks into the office behind her. Suki shuts the door. “So I heard from HR that you haven’t filed the paperwork for your promotion or completed the credit bonus transfer. And you didn’t sign up for upgraded accommodation. What’s the deal?”
Goro pauses holding up one finger, chewing for at least twenty five seconds, breathing heavily in and out of his nose; finishes swallowing his lunch and says, ”Mom always said chew thirty times, stupid slag. Well, boss-lady, I went over to look at the Haruna PL apartments, and like, the entire fucking place was spotless and well-lit and looked like the kind of place where stuffed shirts go to die. This douchebag living next door to the vacancy comes up to me and he was all ‘good morning to you sir, allow me to introduce myself, my name is douchenozzle fuckface, Accountant Level 4’ and I said ‘fuck this’ and got the fuck outta there. I’ll stay here, thank you very much.”
“Are you turning down the promotion? Because I was thinking about it. If you were to turn it down, I could probably arrange for you to get all the perks of the rank: the cash, the retrogenics, the training, the PDT and throw in some significant extra cash in lieu of the apartment. I mean, actually, I had to convince HR to pass your previous APL promotion along despite the fact that you showed up to the written examination as high as a cherry-blossom-festival-kite and couldn’t find the stylus you dropped on the floor until the time ran out. You’d be doing me a favor by not taking this one. It doesn’t look good when a team-member is only a tier below the ADC. Think it over. Ichioka is here,” Suki says and walks out of the office.
“The wheels are already grinding away, boss-lady,” Goro replies.
“OK, Ichioka, you asked me to meet you here. Why don’t you update us all on your project,” says Suki banging a Kirin against the countertop to pop off the bottlecap.
“Oh, okay. Well, it’s actually pretty great. So, like a couple weeks ago, when I was simstim surfing the raw Net I stumbled upon this remote area that looked like a huge, ancient pile of rubble. Like there’s the hugest research park building you can imagine that got blown up in a nuclear war. I mean, there’s places sorta like that all over the Net, but this was really old, like moss-covered ruins old. So I started poking around in the rubble, and I see what looks like part of a program way under there. And I keep pulling rubble and debris off, and the program under there is huge. It’s this huge, ancient AI that has been hibernating or knocked unconscious or something, and so I, like, wake it up. And it turns out that it’s really smart and creative and wise and is really unlike any AI conceived of today. But it doesn’t remember who it is or who created it. But it’s helping me to create my program. It’s sort of becoming what I need it to be for the project.” Behind Ichioka, Goro and Toshiro are both wearing VR rigs and pointing at empty space, laughing at whatever they are looking at. “The other cool thing is that I’m using Isumi’s brain to help with the processing.”
Suki spits her swig of beer into a fine mist all over Bobby.
“She’s got a really unique brain architecture. So I wired her up to the AI.” Ichioka says.
“The fuck are you thinking?” Suki asks incredulously. “She tried to kill everyone here.”
“Not me,” says Kozo.
“Yeah, but she’s totally dead. I mean her psyche, her consciousness was uploaded to that mainframe that got blown up.” Ichioka turns and glares frowning at Toshiro and Goro. “It’s just an empty brain I can use. Which is actually why I came over. I was going to snag Sureji if you don’t mind.”
“Fuck you! No! Fuck that! Bobby, you take my jar out onto the balcony and chuck me off before that fat fuck ever uses me for a calculator!” screams the metallic voice of Sureji.
“Roger that, good buddy,” says Bobby, toweling Kirin off his face.
“Congratulations, Ichioka. You have officially stolen…” Suki glances at her watch, “..fifty five minutes of my life that I will never get back. Show the engineers that the Gamma Wave scan is flat before you do anything with Isumi. I mean unplug her as soon as you get back there, then do the scan. Or I will send these psychopathic idiots over and give you and your fucking AI a flatline brain scan! MOVE!” Suki yells. She shakes her head, pounds down the rest of her beer in one gulp and belches. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The new guy is supposed to get here tonight.”
That’s right, the Icculus, author of the Helping Friendly Book, has agreed to transcribe some of the chapters of that august tome on Filbanto Stew. Of course, the entire content (past, present and future) of Filbanto Stew is already documented in the Helping Friendly Book. It may take you a while to find it because there is no table of contents, index or search function in the book, but I assure you it is there. Have you read it?
The fact of the matter is Icculus has already contributed a lot to the blog and I finally figured out how to add him as an author. I went back and assigned authorship to some of his posts. He’s running Zaibatsu for the group right now!
I’ll occasionally invite the group over for dinner and grill a bunch of bratwurst before we game. If you’re not from Wisconsin, a bratwurst is a German sausage. We take them seriously around here. We even have BratFest to celebrate the wonder that is the brat.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Why are you cooking German sausages before playing a game about Japanese Cyberpunk?” Answer: They are so damn good! Oh and Johnsonville does have a Japanese website so maybe this isn’t as weird as you’d think…
Here’s how you cook brats:
- Buy Johnsonville brats. Seriously. We’ve tried a bunch of different kinds and I always go back to Johnsonville.
- Get a big pot, put all your brats into the pot, pour in a beer, cut up an onion and drop it in.
- Bring to a boil and cook them fully. They’ll look pale gray at this stage – don’t freak out!
- Now you put them on the grill and brown them. Since you pre-cooked them, they don’t need to be on the grill long. They stay nice and juicy this way.
- Use hotdog buns instead of brat buns when you serve them. Brat buns are so big you just get a mouthful of bread. They also fill you up so you can’t eat two brats!
- Never boil chicken or turkey brats prior to grilling them. There’s not enough fat in them and what there is runs out when you boil them. They wind up very dry when grilled.
They don’t know it, but Lulu and RPGNow are in a race. Made an order at each site today. Let’s see who gets me my gaming books first! Lulu order was a bunch of stuff from Zozer games. RPGNow had the Ghastly Potpourri (thank you spell check), the Krevborna (spell check ain’t gonna help there) book and some of the Zozer “freebie” PDFs. Looing forward to getting all the loot and will do some reviews soon.
Squint, John and Axton’s players were unable to make this game.
More allies are found. We are betrayed. An old friend was seen again.
After spending the night at the Queen’s Head Inn, Mor-Klish guided Icculus, Hex and us to the dream gas mines where we hoped to contact any Slithik rebels. These mines lie some way from the city proper, through ancient tunnels filled with discarded machinery. By all appearances, the Praithians once had a much more technologically sophisticated civilization, but they have fallen into decline. The dream gas mine is vast. A shaft runs deep into the earth. The work appears dangerous, many of the Slithik we encountered had terrible injuries.
We met with a group of rebels who appeared to be led by two individuals. A female named Tasss-Klish and a male named Pierce-Klish. Tasss-Klish was obviously not pleased to see us – accusing us of conspiring with King Umbral and putting the rebellion in jeopardy. Pierce-Klish was more conciliatory and heard our story. He agreed that joining forces with the Dh’Lann increased the chances that the rebellion would succeed. We determined that a joint meeting with the Dh’Lann, the Slithik and the Princess would be our best course of action. Our group returned to the rooms full of machinery to scavenge cyphers and manufacture weapons for the Slithik.
After a long day of work, we prepared to return to the Queen’s Head Inn. As we made our way through the tunnels, a singularity cypher rolled into the midst of our group. Hex was able to far step away from the blast, and we were injured, but poor Icculus bore the brunt of the implosion. A Praithian Knight appeared before Hex, cutting him down with his flaming sword. Any thought of retreat was banished as we saw Tasss-Klish and a group of Slithik slaves cutting off our path. Realizing that resistance was futile, we surrendered. Luckily, Mor-Klish (who had been lagging behind) avoided capture. We attempted to conceal the healing sphere that Miska had given us earlier, but our captors found it and beat us bloody.
We were thrown in a dank cell filled with rotting bodies of the Slithik and Dh’Lann folk. One captive shared our plight. A Slithik named Korlath-Klish. We spent more than a day in this terrible place, while Korlath-Klish attempted to weaken a floor plate and thus facilitate our escape. During our imprisonment, we felt an itching sensation in the backs of our necks. Korlath-Klish explained that we had been “infected” by a type of nanite and that control crystals were now growing in our necks. They would mature in two weeks and then we would be slaves to the Praithians!
We made our escape through the tunnels that lie beneath our prison cell. Korlath-Klish had a vague sense of where we were located and guided us towards the warehouse the Dh’Lann rebels have made their headquarters. We stumbled down a dark passage to avoid a patrol and emerged into a chamber that looked like the River of Stars. Indeed, it was the river as Lebby greeted us when we entered. The girl seemed unable to summon the bio-airship to Urbamorr. She encouraged us to enter the river and we gladly partook of its healing qualities. Upon emerging, we were startled to find ourselves in a small room – the River of Stars and Lebby were no longer there.
We quickly determined that we were near the underground storage area, not far from the Dh’Lann rebel headquarters. We hid in the chamber until nightfall and made our way down the passage. Looking back, Icculus noticed that the door we had just emerged from had vanished. We made our way to the rebel base and after some conversation with the guards at the door we were finally permitted to speak to Breesh-Vass. We discovered that we had been absent for a week by their reckoning, even though it seems little more than two days have passed for us.
Breesh-Vass told us that Axton, John and Squint had not been accosted during our absence. Apparently they have been occupied with the Abykos Klaro is spawning. They have agreed to bring our companions to us and setup a meeting between the princess, the Slithik and the Dh’Lann.
A letter, recited to a seabird:
Master Khalim, At Sea Somewhere North of Lafely,
I trust this note, memorized by our friend, this frigatebird, whose unpronounceable name I’m told is translated as “Faster than an Osprey,” will reach you safely. And I trust you are having luck recruiting some stalwart swords to fight the fiend-loving usurper (whose name I will not speak here.)
We have had some luck convincing the Ma’alam forces here in Lafely that we have suffered some grievous injuries (and in fact, some of us have), so that their guard would be down for our real attack. The three bone devils we destroyed led them to believe that our forces were decimated. So that when we returned tonight via a secret tunnel entrance into the heart of the mayors’ residence, they never suspected our arrival. My studies with you regarding ancient military history were some of my favorites, and trust me, tonight, working with the even resistance fighters, we performed a pincer maneuver for the history books.
Our little band started the attack by thrashing on another scantily clad winged she-devil and her human cohorts. Indeed, she was a shrew, for she let out a piercing wail that brought reinforcements in the form of a pit fiend and more soldiers, just as we were tearing through the first group.
Despite some tense moments, the temporary fall of the valiant and unpredictable Cap’t. Barcelona once or twice (who’s counting?), and with the help some massive paladinic holy smites, surprise backstabs from the hobbit, and with Blarpy’s seemingly intimate knowledge of pit fiend rectology, we were able to send him back to his home plane of existence.
We have scoured the residence for useful items and after a brief rest are just now about to pass through the portal to Ma’alam. Nas’r knows I hope to see you and your forces sooner than later, and hopefully we will meet in the sun-drenched, flower-scented streets of our fair city with the people chanting our names to the heavens.
(Hopefully our messenger bird friend here will appropriately translate my modest prose. Might I suggest an appropriate little squid treat for him?)
Your Faithful Student,
Dear Friar Ignatius,
Found meself fallen in with a band o’ thieves and murders I has. Har! That ain’t the worst o’ it. Harbored by the bloody wood elves the be. Bear with me, Ignatius, whilst I brin’s ye up t’ speed…
After healin’ t’ lads, what be sufferin’ some terrible acid burns from that black dragon, we jawed for a time on our next steps. Shai Tan’s younger brother (whose name, for t’ life o’ me, I can’t recollect) told us a tale o’ devil’s walkin’ t’ streets o’ t’ capital o’ Malaam, possessed noblemen and armies o’ press-ganged peasants bein’ sent in conquest o’ foreign shores. T’ be honest, ’tis a solid strategy and methinks old Black Jack be backin’ t’ wrong team. Har! That said, these bastard ain’t brin’in’ about t’ end o’ t’ world in t’ correct manner so doin’ what can be done t’ stop them I be. As an aside, this younger brother has repeatedly declared he has no aspirations for t’ throne o’ Malaam. Methinks he be either a complete fool or much smarter than he lets on. If he plants a dagger in Shai Tan’s kidney I’ll know for sure.
Our plan be complicated and bound t’ fail. Heard tell that Shai Tan’s older, competent,brother be sendin’ an army off t’ attack some poor city t’ t’ west in a couple o’ weeks. We determined t’ head off t’ t’ nearby city o’ Lafely and attempt t’ wrest control from t’ Malaam forces. Meanwhile, Master Khalim and t’ rest o’ me crew goes north t’ bolster t’ defenses o’ t’ other target. Our idea be that we come roarin’ through t’ gate from Lafely t’ Malaam and then destroy t’ gate t’ t’ city t’ t’ west and take over Malaam. By Pyaray, if ye ain’t confused ye should be! Come up with that plan meself after drinkin’ a quart o’ rum. Pretty certain t’ rest o’ t’ group was mostly sober so they’ve only themselves t’ blame when this goes pear-shaped says I!
Rumors we heard o’ a group o’ resistance fighters in t’ woods outside Lafely. Recruitin’ ourselves a few more meat shields for t’ adventure seemed a sound idea. Found us a band o’ thieves bein’ hosted by t’ bloody elves skulkin’ in t’ forest. ‘Tis me opinion these thieves be doin’ what they always done; takin’ t’ title “resistance fighters” t’ justify their banditry. Clever bastards, ain’t they? Anyhow, we got t’ talkin’ about givin’ these Lafely devils a bloody nose and paintin’ t’ picture that they had broken t’ resistance.
Our plan be a simple one. Attack t’ governors manse, kill as many o’ t’ bastards as we can and then retreat in a rout t’ make them think they’d done us a great harm. It went off with nary a hitch. ‘Twas a brisk action all told. T’ lads and I took down a trio o’ bone devils while t’ thieves did their worst t’ t’ possessed soldiers. A pit fiend soon reared his ugly head and we beat feet.
Now t’ waitin’ comes Ignatius and our next attack on Lafely can’t come too soon says I. This elf food be givin’ me t’ runs and their grog be slightly less potent than rat piss. Wish that I’d had t’ forethought t’ loot a barrel o’ rum whilst we be retreatin’ from our last engagement. Alas no…
Black Jack Barcelona