ER:Thread summaries

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In which are summarized the various threads created during the Errant Road on-line free-form role-playing game, in order of their creation. Threads typically run between 200 and 250 posts, then are closed and replaced by new ones. There are occasional "forks" when a thread ends with action going off in two more more different directions; these are indicated in the text.

The general "pedigree" of threads is as follows:

Farrel threads: Kiyoka → Port Lorrel → Volkanenborg → Mountain(s) of Madness → Mountains of Madness, part 2 → Waldhaxen Channel → Rinkaiel (short-lived fork to Farrel Sea) → Rinkaiel, Part 2 → Tsuiraku-town → Tsuiraku-town, part 2 → Tsuiraku-town, part 3 (fork to To the Southern Continent → Return to Port Lorrel) → Temple of the Divine Dwarf → Temple of the Divine Dwarf, part 2

Veracia threads: Kiyoka → Kiyoka, part 2 → Saus → Centoriel → Homontel, and beyond → Nautkia, and the South → Lorenzel and Ramanzel → Lorenzel, Part 2 → Salticiel and beyond → The Road to Gervasiel → Stone Man Pass → Gervasiel → The Artifact of Absonial → The Road to Snamish → Snamish → Umbertiel → Umbertiel, Part 2 (Inquisition) → The Road to Getsemiel → Getsemiel → Getsemiel, Part 2 → Goriel

Note: In the following, the descriptions of the threads are written with a more or less straight face. Often, however, the threads themselves ... aren't. It's also chock full of spoilers.

Contents

Kiyoka

First entry 2008/05/12; player characters introduced: Lucas Ravanel, Jamie Porter, Roger Monteith, Toivo Pohjola, Jonathan Zeve, Vernon Atwater, Grope, Argus Cleiviein, Sister Rose, Layla Sorensen

Several would-be travelers (Jamie, Roger, etc.) converge on a travel agency in Kiyoka called Heer Thar Be Draagons, hoping that the proprietor, Lucas, can help them get out of town. Following a shootout with some relatively inept Gewehr goons, the group escapes via an underground passage into a neighboring mission of the Veracian Church, interrupting a service that's going on and doing damage to the temple as they bug out. Grope, a troll lurking on the rooftops while he tries to find out what happened to his long-missing mate Zhbrigeeul, kills some of the Gewehr thugs, and Jamie, Roger and Lucas take out the others en route to the water-borne beginning of their "tour." (Fork at this point; action with this group resumes with the "Port Lorrel" thread, below.)

Meanwhile, new mother Layla Sorensen, alias "Andrea Samuels," is tending a vineyard outside town, which is the cover and safe house for the Gewehr operation in Kiyoka. Grope sees her working among the grapes as he continues his search for his mate, but is horrified to discover Zhbrigeeul's dried hide stretched on the wall of the safe house. He doesn't immediately connect Layla (who's the big boss of the local Gewehr) to what happened to his mate, but after taking a bit of Zhbrigeeul's hide and gaining "Wisdom" (and, most unexpectedly, a very rudimentary capacity for spellcraft) from it, Grope himself heads for the waterfront to travel back to his homelands and find a new mate. At the same time, Layla is similarly horrified to learn that one of the dead Gewehr forces at the dockyards is her husband Arty, and is ordered to fold the Gewehr operation and go home to the Gewehr's home base in Farrel. She accomplishes this with unexpected "help" from the typically deluded Kureji Mesuinu and Rokku Sona, who come visiting in a case of mistaken identity.

Back in Kiyoka, down-and-out mage Argus Cleiviein is recruited by an unorthodox nun from the Veracian mission to help figure out what caused the damage, and understand why the Kiyokan authorities are so disinclined to investigate. Following some sleuthing that reveals the recent passage of a troll (Grope), Argus is joined by shape-shifting Sister Rose, another nun from the mission, as they try to get information from one Captain Kitaura, a big wheel in the Kiyokan "Homeland Security" operation, which combines police/investigative and military functions. This is unsuccessful, and Kitaura later dispatches an underling to apply some muscle to Argus in his hotel room, which backfires painfully as the thread ends.

Port Lorrel

First entry 2008/7/20; player characters introduced: Marcus

Jamie, Roger, Lucas, Jonathan and Toivo (and Ayiee) make landfall in Port Lorrel to continue their "tour," pausing for a meal at a local restaurant where they adopt various magical disguises (and are eyeballed by various watchers). Most of the group goes off to seek lodging at the World Traveler Inn, but Jamie is diverted to a rendezvous with one Elke, who turns out to be a big shot in the "Eisenfaust," another Farrelite mercenary guild similar to (and arch-rivals of) the Gewehr. Elke confides that Jamie is under the Eisenfaust's protection and discreet(?) surveillance, in return for some future consideration that isn't revealed to Jamie, although some side action hints at its nature.

Back at the World Traveler, several forms of magical weirdness break out as "deathmage" Marcus appears and dismisses the "Gray" of a girl who was murdered earlier at the inn. While he's there, the desk clerk, having checked in most of the travelers, is killed by an exploding coin (given him by an Eisenfaust operative), and investigated and re-animated by Lucas. Unfortunately, the process of animating the corpse has magical side effects (as usual when Lucas casts a spell) elsewhere in the inn, leading to some alarmingly frisky furniture. With some of these subdued, the group turns in for the night, only to discover some other nasty furnishings the next morning that have to be dealt with. Having learned of an amusement park somewhere to the north called "Mountain of Madness," they leave town to see the park, despite Lucas' protests that it really isn't worth seeing. On the way they have an encounter with a pack of giant, carnivorous rabbits -- "Lepivores" -- that are dispatched with the distant, nearly unseen help of Layla, who (like Grope) has also reached Farrel on the way home. Meanwhile, various Eisenfaust scheming goes on behind the scenes, at least as far as the main characters are concerned.

Kiyoka, part 2

First entry 2008/09/11; player characters introduced: Brother Miguel

Argus returns to the mission in the morning, having defended himself successfully (to put it mildly) against Kitaura's clumsy emissary/enforcer. He joins a group from the mission in exploring the secret tunnel connecting it and Heer Thar Be Draagons, with a violent digression resulting when Willy, the small child who's watching the business in his uncle's absence, runs out into the street to escape the Veracians and has an encounter with the mysterious Tsubasa. However, before he goes, he mentions the name "Lucas Ravanel" to Father Egbert, second in command at the mission. For unclear reasons, this unsettles Egbert so badly that he immediately flees the mission.

Eventually it is discovered that Egbert tried to leave town via a warp gate, but inexplicably, the gate malfunctions so that he (apparently) doesn't arrive at his destination, the gate in Saus. The Tsuirakuans find this unsettling -- travel in 100% safety and security is one of the big selling points for the gates -- and so the mission and Kitaura reach an uneasy detente as they arrange a search for Egbert, to be conducted in Veracia by Argus and Brother Miguel, a Veracian priest with origins on the shadowy Southern Continent. Following some investigations of Egbert's chambers at the mission, during which a curiously menacing piece of furniture is discovered, and interviews with people at the warp gate and others, Miguel and Argus gate off to Saus. Several secondary threads, among them a budding romance between Veracian priest Brother Farley and junior Tsuirakuan battlemage Kristi Yugawa and an on-again, off-again encounter between the contrite Tsubasa and the ... interesting ... Kureji, occur in the background.

Volkanenborg

First entry 2008/10/04; player characters introduced: Jasmine

The main group travels onward to the small town of Volkanenborg, gateway to the amusement park. En route and there, they have various random encounters, including a visit to the Temple of the Divine Dwarf, where Jamie is noticed by her mother Jasmine. Jasmine has been chasing her daughter over half the known world in an attempt to get her subdued, married and pregnant, preferably in that order. Proceedings are watched by two other groups: a pair of elves (Ramian and Paukii) who speculate on the possibility of Errants among the adventurers, and Elke and Mr. Stagpoole, who are particularly keeping an eye on Jamie for reasons not made completely clear, although they're mainly just in town engaging in an incredibly extended roll in the hay.

Meanwhile, Layla has made it home to Kugelheim, only to be given a puzzling mission to stop a trio of renegade Gewehr low-lives who were about to ambush the stage bearing the main characters to Volkanenborg. This ends fatally and messily for the low-lives, which was apparently the hoped-for goal, but Gewehr big shot Peter still isn't entirely happy with Layla's performance. Grope is in the area too, having picked up a talking, intelligent chipmunk named Chippy and played a role in detecting the ambush.

The various characters are about ready to move on when there is a sudden interruption in the routine: Saiko Mesuinu, eccentric (that's the polite word...) but magically incredibly powerful doyenne of the Mesuinu family that runs the amusement park, has been kidnapped. A lengthy battle ensues on and beneath a mountain ridge south of Volkanenborg, engaging essentially all of the player characters in the thread and coming to a weird ending when it is revealed that Saiko had staged the whole thing herself, resulting in apparent mastermind Neverinal, a notorious elf, meeting a grisly fate -- although perhaps not a fatal one. Grope continues heading for the troll homelands, Layla (who's starting to get interested in Ace, the airship pilot who carried her and her arch-nemesis Barb on a reconnaissance mission in support of the combatants) returns to Kugelheim, and the other player characters prepare to travel to the amusement park itself as the thread ends.

Saus

First entry 2008/10/15; player characters introduced: Sasha, Harker (familiar)

Brother Miguel and Argus gate into Saus and are conducted to a small temple of the Reformed Church, where they stay for the night. The next day is spent in continuing to gather information on the curiously missing Father Egbert, through interviews with a portalmage and a man named Gordon Grumiel who was present for the same operation of the gate in Kiyoka that caused Egbert to disappear (maybe). However, the travelers are suspicious of Grumiel, who doesn't seem to match the man by that name whom they saw in an archived "video" of the gate's operation. In the evening, a violent storm comes up (possibly connected with the arrival in town of Tsubasa and Kureji, possibly not) from which Argus and Miguel have a narrow escape, noticing in the process that there is a column of smoke on the far side of the city.

The travelers rise in the morning and prepare to travel onward, although their itinerary is uncertain at first. They visit a temple of the Millenarian Church that houses genealogical records, hoping to find information on Egbert's origins. Unfortunately, this temple was the source of the smoke seen the previous night, and the records have been severely damaged, while their curator and another man were apparently killed in the blaze. The second dead man eventually proves to have been Gordon Grumiel, establishing that the man interviewed the previous day was someone else masquerading as Grumiel. Argus and Miguel succeed in extracting some information from the damaged records that establishes Egbert's last name (Kankaniel) and origins (a town called Ramanzel in southern Veracia), and also that Egbert has a sister named Mildred Hamael who now lives with her family in the town of Heamish, east of Saus. This sets the direction of their travel, and they set off.

On reaching Heamish, Argus and Miguel interview Mildred Hamael, and learn that Egbert and Mildred's husband Wilbur are old friends. The interview is interrupted by the appearance of a giant, carnivorous beaver that menaces the house, but Mildred's young son Jason simply orders the beaver to drop dead -- and it does. Understandably impressed, Argus and Miguel terminate the interview as Wilbur Hamael appears, having learned that young Jason learned this little trick from his not-entirely-friendly father and not wanting to push their luck.

Their business in Heamish done, Argus and Miguel depart for points south, to be met on the road by Sister Rose, who's been dispatched from Kiyoka to help them (and to get her out of the way of the Cardinal Inquisitor, who's coming to Kiyoka to investigate the various weirdness at the temple). The Veracians detour to a military base north of the "Sleeping Sexton," a distinctive rock formation north of Heamish that figures in the identification of the town where Mildred Hamael lives. Not willing to take a Tsuirakuan to this base, they leave Argus at a pass on the Sleeping Sexton, where he has a scary near-encounter with the bogus Gordon Grumiel and a pair of teenagers, who are also looking for Egbert.

Rose and Miguel return from the base, and the travelers head south. They are joined on the road by newly-introduced Sasha Mitchel, an anthropology student doing field work, and by Argus' long-lost familiar Harker, a bipedal, talking beaver with a knack for carving wood into embarrassing shapes. They travel south, developing additional information on Egbert's route of travel (with at least one more inexplicable fatality in his wake), but are momentarily stymied by the emergence from underground of a gigantic war golem. They avoid contact with this alarming apparition, and learn from Sasha that it apparently is coming from the vicinity of a site called Centoriel that has a number of curious features. The group prepares to travel to Centoriel as the thread ends.

Mountain(s) of Madness

First entry 2009/1/18

The characters' paths generally converge on the Mountain of Madness amusement park: Grope as he just passes through, Layla (and family) to do some advance-party work anticipating a "peace conference" among the Farrelian guilds with an interest in the park, and the others just having fun, more or less. Marcus receives an odd communication from a shadowy group called "The Nine" with which he turns out to have an affiliation. This in turn leads to discovery of a dead (sort of) body on one of the park's rides, found by Layla as she's out for a morning run. The investigation, during which Layla uses her deputy-sheriff cover story and Lucas adopts a Columbo-style disguise, doesn't turn up much, but Jamie and Marcus take the opportunity provided by the resulting chaos to probe deeper in the ride in search of treasure. However, they're repelled (in more ways than one) by the park's security forces -- giant, enhanced skunks -- before they can get too close to the "treasure," the park's magical power source, which is just as well.

Layla and Faye meet with park official Galina, to whom Layla takes an instant liking as the two women discover that they are both new moms. Once arrangements for the peace conference are made, the Gewehr women fly home to Kugelheim, where Layla learns to her astonishment that Arty's death came about as a result of a wound inflicted by a troll, and Faye learns to her astonishment that Layla has incipient magical talent. Meanwhile, everyone else starts their trek into the Mountains of Madness (mountain range, not park). Marcus and company have a brief encounter with Grope, but the troll isn't sticking around to talk to humans (yet), rather, making tracks for the troll village that Chippy has informed him is somewhere nearby. En route, Grope has a nearly disastrous encounter with a spellcaster who is patrolling the borders of a compound belonging to the Malletarians, a heretical and violent offshoot of the church of Luminosita, from which he's improbably saved by the sudden appearance of Kureji Mesuinu. (Note that this apparition of Kureji takes place after her brief appearance in the Centoriel thread below, which is happening simultaneously with this one.)

As all of this is going on, there are several side threads. Jasmine Porter continues her dogged quest to see her daughter married and pregnant; more is learned about the mysterious past and capabilities of Lucas' golem companion Ayiee; Layla, who's having inner conflict between the Gewehr callousness toward death and her own dedication to the new life she's given birth to, starts to fall for airship pilot Ace before her late husband is even buried; and Elke gets preliminary indications that her extended bout of lovemaking with Mr. Stagpoole may have ... lasting ... consequences.

Centoriel

First entry 2009/01/25; player characters introduced: Lillith

Argus, Sasha and the Veracians learn more about the sinister "Centoriel" site and start to travel there, linking up as they go with half-elven priestess in training Lillith, who's on a pilgrimage of her own. They travel through unsettling terrain to the site of Centoriel, where they are suddenly attacked by a monstrous, spider-like golem that emerges from underground. They succeed in defeating it, with the most unexpected help of Kureji Mesuinu, who's in the form of a red dragon at the time and spins a most improbable (and mainly behind the scenes) tale of how she got there.

Exploration of the ruins of Centoriel reveals the inexplicable, and decidedly unwelcome, presence of emblems indicating that the place is used by the heretical, human-sacrificing Malletarians, for reasons not clear at first. Kureji stumbles into a Malletarian teleportation device and disappears, to emerge in the Mountains of Madness (see previous thread). The party settles in for the night, during which something troubles Rose badly in her sleep, but she won't give too many details when she awakes. During the night there are also indications of half-noticed things moving amid the ruins and possibly the operation of another source of destructive magical energy, but there are no investigations until morning.

When the party completes their preparations for the day, they are horrified to find two dead, magically incinerated bodies at the far end of the ruins. These are "Arkie," the man who had masqueraded as Gordon Grumiel in Saus, and his young nephew, "Buddy," who had been tailing Argus in the city. There are also indications that another member of the Arganial group (eventually found to be Buddy's twin sister Liz) might have wandered into a trap set by the Malletarians and been teleported off to the Malletarian compound, for purposes not clear but believed (correctly) to be malevolent. A crystal ball is discovered in the vicinity of the bodies, and contrary to the usual capabilities of crystal balls, spontaneously starts receiving messages from an unknown, hostile party elsewhere, which eventually causes the ball to explode after it has been chucked into the ruins.

No sooner does this encounter end than another solitary figure appears en route to the ruins. It's Wilbur Hamael, who's also searching for Egbert, for reasons of his own. An exchange between Hamael and the party occurs without much being revealed, but Hamael blunders into the same teleport trap that apparently claimed Liz Arganial and disappears. Shaken, the party ends its investigations at Centoriel and moves on.

Mountains of Madness, part 2

First entry 2009/03/09; player characters introduced: Nihanin

As Layla reluctantly prepares for her late husband's funeral, the other characters continue their treks into the Mountains of Madness. Having survived a near-fatal encounter with the Malletarians, Grope is delighted to encounter his nephew Scrobian, who conducts him to a troll village on the other side of the Malletarian compound, near an active volcano known to the trolls as the "Dwarven Forge." However, the other player characters, although they try to follow the trolls, have their own encounter with the Malletarians (including Layla's insane brother-in-law Brother Ohmad) and are forced underground to escape the resulting firestorm.

Beneath the Malletarian compound, the party has an unexpected encounter with Wilbur Hamael, who's been gated into the compound by the teleport trap at Centoriel and has used his killing word on a Malletarian guard. Another Malletarian approaches and is killed by Jamie, who however is horrified to discover that the dead woman was carrying a baby (and apparently bringing food to the dead guard, her husband). The baby, who proves to be named "Nera," is unharmed, and is adopted by the party (notably Jamie and her mother) as they probe deeper into the underground. Meanwhile, new player character Nihanin is being transported into the Mountains of Madness by Ace.

Grope is surprised to discover that his nephew has learned how to fly a balloon that he discovered (apparently a dwarven artifact), and he and Scrobian use the balloon to hunt a cave bear to be used in a ritual dinner celebrating Grope's arrival at the troll village. However, the hunt is interrupted by a volcanic rumble in the distance. It's the Dwarven Forge, which has picked this moment to become active -- just as Jamie, Jasmine, Marcus and Lucas (and Nera) are reaching a strange, technologically based underground complex beyond the Malletarians' control. This too shows signs of heating up from the volcano (with fatal consequences for the pursuing Brother Ohmad and some other Malletarians), although it is never made clear whether the party's actions caused the volcanic eruption or the other way around. Whatever the connection, all the characters flee the eruption, which has devastated the troll village, although there are some known survivors and possibly others who have fled east and cannot be accounted for. Meanwhile, Layla becomes aware of her incipient magical skills and starts training, as her relationship with Ace intensifies. Accompanying all this activity is the usual background involving Elke, Mr. Stagpoole, and other conspirators -- in just what conspiracy never being clear.

Homontel, and beyond

First entry 2009/3/20; player characters introduced: Cithule

The shaken travelers continue on from the ruins of Centoriel, their voyage punctuated by a jarring discovery: Sasha has developed physical features (notably ears) typical of a half elf. She reacts badly to this and starts a brawl with Lillith, despite the latter's protestations (eventually proven true) that she had nothing to do with Sasha's transformation. Eventually peace of a sort is reached, and the journey continues, albeit with some residual tensions.

The first stop on the road is the small town of Homontel, where Sister Rose meets an Orthodox priest, Brother Abram, who was in the military with her at the time and place of the Albigenish Incident. Lurking at this temple is the newly introduced half-elf Cithule, apparently a ne'er-do-well looking for something to steal. Interactions at the temple are truncated by news of a fire at one of the other temples in town, which the party helps extinguish, in the process learning that the Millenarians have a bad reputation in Homontel. The group continues onward through (more accurately, around) the town of Mazantzel, evading a shakedown attempt by a corrupted priest there.

Meanwhile (and more or less in the background), Brother Farley and Kristi are sent to Tsuirakushiti, to observe as Sashi Mu faculty member Revyl Dirienzal attempts to study the desk removed from the mission in Kiyoka that had thrown Argus for a serious loop and apparently caused a death later. Dirienzal's investigations don't reveal much, but a later, surreptitious examination by a different faculty member, Professor Damyo, proves fatal to him. This happens simultaneously, and possibly in connection, with a visit by the Veracian party to what appears to be a haunted graveyard outside Mazantzel. Lillith appears to dismiss/exorcise the restless spirit there, and as soon as Rose recovers from a nasty shock involving memories of the event that killed her husband Kenny in years gone by, the group moves on.

On arrival at the next town, Provatiel, the party stops for the night, reaching comfortable lodgings in a large castle. A series of encounters follow that reveal the castle to be more than it seems: the Millenarians who run the place seem to be surreptitiously amassing their own private, highly disciplined army. A disgusted Sister Rose learns, through conversations with young mother Carly Bindiel and observations in town, that this is being achieved through "family planning" that includes eugenics. When word surfaces that an elf has come to Provatiel, the group moves on, glad to be shut of the place.

Nautkia, and the South

First entry 2009/5/7

The group travels southward as Sister Rose explains her suspicions about Provatiel, with a pause to let Argus and Harker do some thaumaturgic eavesdropping on Revyl Dirienzal. This reveals that Dirienzal is terrified of something, but sheds little light on why. The travelers are met on the road by a young, nervous Veracian priest named Brother Kelso, who guides them to a suspiciously prosperous Reformed temple just outside the town of Nautkia.

Following an opulent dinner at the temple, during which it is learned that Brother Kelso has taken a fatal (and possibly not accidental) fall off the cliff behind the temple, a web of conspiracies develops around the several smuggling groups in Nautkia and those who interact with them. Sasha is caught studying/tampering with the curiously high-tech temple but talks her way out of trouble. Lillith is introduced to a scared group of half elves (some of whom have some decidedly Errant-like capabilities) hunkered down in Nautkia and agrees to help them (and herself) make their way home to Santuariel. Rose and Brother Miguel meet with a Nautkia official who, it is hinted, might know more about what happened to Kelso (and also about Father Egbert's mysterious sister Lucy Kankaniel, a smuggler), without actually learning much. Cithule is approached by a different band of smugglers to undertake an assassination, but no deal is finalized. And Argus is approached by a Tsuiraku-connected figure named "Nikolai," who uses veiled threats against Argus' daughter -- not Fayna, but a daughter he didn't even know he had -- to blackmail Argus into preparing a magical attack on the very boat that Lucy Kankaniel is skippering, a ship that will probably be picking up Egbert and taking him to parts unknown.

After Rose and Miguel rescue a mortified Lillith from a near-fatal encounter with an elf (the ranger Bauti, who's not named until a later thread), the adventurers compare notes, and Rose hatches a plan to extricate Argus from his predicament, save Lucy's boat, get the half elves home, and if they're lucky, find out what's going on with Egbert. As Argus and Harker build a mockup of the boat, which he will destroy instead of the real thing in order to mislead Nikolai and the faction he represents, they are observed by a shape-shifted Egbert, who is under surveillance by Rose and Miguel. With the moment for Argus' feigned "attack" approaching, Rose confronts Egbert, but after a final (and, for Rose, highly unsettling) exchange, Egbert jumps off the cliff behind the temple to his death(? -- there are ... complications ...) on the banks of the Lorenzel River far below. The horrified Rose breaks down in tears, but she pulls herself together just in time to dodge a magical attack from down at the river, where one of the half elves has misinterpreted the destruction of Argus' mockup. Eventually, the half elves do set sail on the smugglers' boat, but without the disconsolate Lillith. After the group meets with the temple's high priest, one Father Nestor who reveals more about the intricate maze of connections and conspiracies at Nautkia, they leave town for Lorenzel, still in shock from Egbert's suicide and the other events of the day.

Waldhaxen Channel

First entry: 2009/05/12

As Layla disables the angry Barb (learning an important and dangerous lesson about magic and discipline in the process), the other characters proceed toward the Waldhaxen Channel, the trans-continental body of water that the trolls know as "Growf's Drainpipe." The trolls (Grope and Scrobian), who are searching for signs of Scrobian's lost tribe following the eruption of the Dwarven Forge, arrive via Scrobian's improbable balloon, just in time to come under fire from a strange boat traversing the Channel/Drainpipe. The humans too receive fire from the boat, and during their counterattack (which takes them down to the water's surface), engage two powerful but non-sapient, flightless bird-things called pinguimhos released by the boat. They defeat the creatures, but the boat proves to be a submarine and escapes. During the combat, Wilbur Hamael, who's been watching from a safe distance, manages to repair and steal the damaged balloon, and escapes, leaving the chagrined trolls stranded with the humans.

Not long afterward, another, more conventional ship (eventually revealed to be under the control of the mysterious Seeadler, although the party doesn't know this at the time) also passes through the channel, and delivers a smaller vessel that the group can use to pass to the far side of the Channel. Grope, who has gained the "Wisdom" of one of the pinguimhos, discovers that the surviving trolls are being held on an island in the Drainpipe somewhere to the east called the Island of Thralls, and determines to go rescue them. The humans join them, but the group is interrupted by the passage of another submarine, which they succeed in sinking, with the help of an airship that happens to be passing by -- this one with Layla aboard, and piloted by her pregnant friend Molly, having been sent out on a reconnaissance mission. (This mission proves to have caused some consternation back in Kugelheim that they discover when they return, for reasons not made clear.)

After discovering a curious encampment by what appear to be a group of Tsuirakuan military men, Jamie, Lucas, etc., manage to steal an airship (of sorts...) and prepare to travel on to Rinkaiel, which appears to be a safer place to seek fame and fortune than along the Channel -- that, plus the fact that they might be able to charter a Seeadler boat there, to come back and attack the Island of Thralls. The trolls, now including the injured female Harzh'biah, stay behind to await their human colleagues' return with more firepower. Meanwhile, Nihanin hikes into the area (but disappears), and Layla, who's continuing to become more involved with Ace, also prepares to move to Rinkaiel, where her magical education will continue, helping to develop the embryonic Gewehr presence in the city as she studies. In behind-the-scenes action, Elke learns that she's definitely pregnant as a result of the extended tryst with Mr. Stagpoole, and all sorts of other, mysterious and never-resolved machinations among the shadowy conspirators are hinted at.

Lorenzel and Ramanzel

First entry: 2009/07/12; player characters introduced: Maduin Lochlear

Argus, Lillith and colleagues have reached Lorenzel, and rise in the morning, generally with a sense of dejection after the events in Nautkia. Argus receives a bottle of expensive wine as an apparent thank-you gift for his "work" in Nautkia, but Sister Rose discovers that it's been tampered with and stops him from drinking it. Meanwhile, Sasha startles everyone by revealing a traveling companion: the pseudo-Paedagogusi Compassion, who prompts a hushed exchange of thoughts about what is known to various parties about the elven religion.

Another message for Argus, this one from Captain Kitaura back in Kiyoka, alerts him to the impending arrival of Maduin Lochlear, a young Tsuirakuan (and PC) who's introduced at this point, bearing a note from Argus' daughter Fayna. He pockets this for the time being without reading it, but it does establish some bona fides for Maduin, who's nominally on scene as Kitaura's "minder" for Argus, to re-establish contact with her father. Meanwhile, another new face has appeared with the group: Elric Kankaniel, a previously unacknowledged son of the late Father Egbert, who's brought by what appears to be a living thunderstorm ("Stormie"). Elric seems completely unaffected by the news of his father's death, but eventually agrees to accompany the group to the curiously movable town of Ramanzel so that they can give the word to any surviving relatives there.

Following a dinner with the abbot of the Reformed temple in Lorenzel, a Father Ranulph who turns out to have been one of the missionaries who saved Brother Miguel from becoming a human sacrifice, the group turns in for the night, to rise in the morning and travel to Ramanzel. After some small adventures (including the removal of Elric from their midst by "Stormie," who's unhappy about something, and apparent hostility by the forest, itself a semi-sapient being according to Elric), they arrive in the town and meet Rose's cousin Brad. He's in town exploring the possibility of setting up a Reformed temple there (but finds prospects unappealing), but much later, reveals to Rose that he has an ulterior motive: tracking down and killing the man who's run off with Brad's wife Annie. After a visit to the old Kankaniel homestead, where the party is intimidated by a real thunderstorm as well as "Stormie" and discovers some strange burials beneath the house, they collect the contrite Brad (who confesses his plans to Rose) and prepare to return to Lorenzel. As usual, there is also some background action, some of it involving "Cit" and a mysterious intruder, some reports of happenings in Kiyoka.

Rinkaiel

First entry: 2009/08/01; player characters introduced: Kalin, Rice, Zander

Both groups from the Waldhaxen Channel thread (minus the trolls, who stay behind to reconnoiter the Island of Thralls) fly into Rinkaiel, where they interact briefly before going their separate ways: Lucas, Jamie, Jasmine and Marcus to negotiate the purchase (or as it turns out, rental) of a ship from amphibious Seeadler big shot Gryffyd, Layla and entourage (now including their local contact Joe) to take over (and use as cover) a vineyard at the edge of town, where they meet new PC Kalin. Kalin is a Veracian not-quite-priest who has been functioning as handyman/caretaker of the vineyard for the couple who live there (Vikor and Sarya) and has discovered various disturbing things of a magical nature, including a shack at one end of the property that's exempted from the purchase and protected by a ward-like magical perimeter. Despite misgivings, he agrees to stay on as caretaker under the new management, and after Layla meets her magic tutor (a Tsuirakuan named Dasuke Kinabalu, who's destined for a messy end), she, Faye and Ace head into town to find lodging, pending the transfer of the property.

Meanwhile, Lucas' group also finds lodging at the same inn on the waterfront, in the process meeting PC Rice, who runs a food stand nearby. (The menacing Captain Kitaura, who's been transferred to Rinkaiel from Kiyoka, puts in a brief appearance at this stand, trying to recruit Rice as an information source; the success of this recruitment remains much in doubt.) As Jamie and Marcus deal with Gryffyd about a ship, Jasmine is watched by an inept pair of Gewehr low-lives, Fritz and Weed, who are on a mission to kill Jamie -- very much contrary to the official orders to the Gewehr contingent in town, who are supposed to be keeping a low profile while the operation gets established. Fritz and Weed, in their turn, are being watched by new PC Zander, who gets the word to Marcus and company that something is afoot. This culminates in the messy demise of the two Gewehr hoods, which at first starts Faye in the direction of setting up a hit of her own, against Marcus; however, firm instructions from the distant Peter stop this, and indeed, the surviving Gewehr people rather callously wash their hands of the late Fritz and Weed.

Fork at this point. Lucas, Jamie, Jasmine and Marcus (and Ayiee) board the Seeadler ship to head back to the Waldhaxen Channel, the (abortive) adventures of which are chronicled in the "Farrel Sea" thread. The other PCs stay in town for more adventures in the "Rinkaiel, Part 2" thread.

Lorenzel, Part 2

First entry: 2009/9/12; player characters introduced: Drusia Valis

The party, joined by Brad, travels back to Lorenzel, to receive a series of bewildering communiques. Brother Miguel discovers that he's being ordered back to Kiyoka, possibly accompanying Brother Redmond, a priest at the Lorenzel temple of the Reformed Church who's under consideration to replace the late Egbert as assistant Abbot at the Kiyokan mission. Sister Rose receives a different set of orders, directing her and the group to travel south to a town called Gervasiel to receive a mysterious artifact and escort it north. Most significant of all, Argus reads the message that Maduin gave him earlier, and is overwhelmed to discover that his daughter Fayna, whom he believed terminally estranged from him, not only hasn't written him off, but still loves him and would very much like to re-establish contact, exile or no exile. Rose discovers him in a highly charged emotional state following his reading of the message, but her initial delight as Argus reveals its contents turns to complete astonishment as he goes on to reveal what's been bothering him ever since Nautkia: he's Lillith's father. Lillith inadvertently hears this revelation as well, causing her terrific emotional distress, from which Rose and Maduin do their best to settle her down, with results that can charitably be called "mixed."

In town, an elven peregin, the newly-introduced PC Drusia Valis, seduces and then slays an Errant who has been killing whores in the red-light district. She then retreats to her brooding, solitary existence, to be noticed by Argus and Miguel, who've gone into town for some take-out food, the rest of the party being in no emotional shape to go out for dinner. The next day, the whole group encounters Drusia again under what starts out as rather happier conditions: Miguel has decided to pop the question to his girlfriend Sister Marilyn when he gets back to Kiyoka and is looking for an engagement ring. In the jewelry store, a casual mention of Snamish, the well-hidden Veracian town where Rose's late husband hailed from, catches Drusia's attention: not only is it also her home town, most of the half elves there are in fact descended from her -- meaning that she's Rose's many-times-great-grand-mother-in-law, a fact that takes some time to come out.

As more shopping is done, Drusia, who was on the pro-half-elf side back during the Errant War and is firmly committed to protecting healthy half elves even as she dispatches Errants, rapidly realizes that Lillith falls into the former class, and starts to think about ways to protect the girl by getting her back to Snamish. The urgency of this increases when she realizes that she's being watched by another peregin, the nasty Bauti, who definitely is not as tolerant of half elves as Drusia, and had noticed Lillith way back in Nautkia. A tense exchange between the two peregins sends Drusia away thinking of how not only to rescue Lillith, but to throw Bauti off the trail by making it appear that Lillith has died -- at her hands. After the group gets Miguel launched to Kiyoka (Brad narrowly missing accidentally shooting his cousin with a previously concealed handgun in the process, to his immense chagrin), they head south in the general direction of Gervasiel.

Drusia, who's discovered that she can communicate telepathically with both Argus and Rose (although the latter has a terrifying flashback to a moment in her military service that involved telepathy), continues planning for Lillith's rescue as the group reaches the small town of Cartish. A monument on the edge of town that's being tended by an old lady (Edith) proclaims Cartish the home of one Brother Carter, a missionary to the Southern Continent who'd died there while doing Luminosita's work (which, Rose quickly realizes, included saving Miguel from the tree worshippers many years ago). Edith invites the travelers back to her shop in town to talk, but immediately rubs Lillith the wrong way because of her bigotry against half elves (the more incongruous as Edith herself employs a troll as a handyman), provoking a most atypical outburst from the half-elven girl. While Rose and others succeed in defusing this potentially tense situation, Drusia realizes that, contrary to her hopes, Cartish isn't going to be a satisfactory place to stage Lillith's death, and so the party travels on toward the next town along the road, and the next thread.

Farrel Sea

First entry: 2009/10/19

A brief thread that commences with Jamie, Marcus, Lucas and entourage heading out of Rinkaiel in a leased ship (watched via some manner of signaling device by Seeadler honcho Gryffyd), intending to rendezvous with Grope and the other trolls before attacking the Island of Thralls. However, their voyage runs into a number of obstacles: seasickness (particularly on the part of Jamie, who doesn't travel well by sea and has to be drugged up, with certain side effects), a troll woman floating on a raft, a submarine that launches what appears to be a torpedo, and finally, a large and well-armed pirate vessel. The latter two encounters inflict enough damage that the ship's captain, a Seeadler man, decides that the mission must be aborted, but the pirates continue to close and it looks like the ship is going down. Fortunately, Gryffyd calls in a favor, and a huge airship appears, to lift the adventurers out of harm's way and carry them back to Rinkaiel, where this thread merges into the existing one. The trolls simply shrug their shoulders and wait (trolls are good at that), and there is a sighting of the balloon carrying Wilbur Hamael -- maybe.

Thread merged back into Rinkaiel, Part 2, at this point; see next.

Rinkaiel, Part 2

First entry: 2009/10/19; player characters introduced: Tess, Jack, Connor, Maya

As Kalin is surprised by a Tsuirakuan voice somewhere near the shack at the edge of the vineyard, Layla, Faye and Joe meet newcomer Tess and her friend Sedona, eventually discovering that Tess bears a message from Gewehr mega-big shot Mr. Gabriel authorizing her to travel on the airship (skippered by Ace) that will return the Sorensens to Kugelheim. As Layla and her mother pick up some munchies for the trip from Rice's food stand, they notice Captain Kitaura hanging around, but avoid contact with him at this time. Once again, Kitaura subtly but clearly leans on Rice to inform him of any Tsuirakuans she serves at the stand. Meanwhile, Kalin continues to have mystifying encounters at the vineyard.

As soon as Tess delivers her safe-passage note to a suspicious Ace, the airship departs, but not before a shadowy figure attaches a magical something to the airship. This proves to be a magical bomb that activates as the airship makes a quick sight-seeing detour past the vineyard, bringing it down (as observed by Kalin and Joe) with minor to moderate injuries to its passengers. As soon as Layla realizes the nature of the attack, she swears enraged vengeance on whoever tried to kill her son, then takes the more seriously injured of the group (Ace and Faye) to a healer in town that operates under the humorous aegis of the Temple of the Divine Dwarf, meeting newcomer Jack in the process. Eventually Kalin and the injured Tess learn that the bomb was apparently an elven device; on learning this news, Layla takes a group off to the elven temple ruins north of town in pursuit of the perpetrator, accompanied by new PC Connor, but is forced to abandon her quest when she realizes how far beyond her means it is.

As Kalin and Joe experiment with access to the shack, Layla and crew return to the vineyard, after an encounter with Kitaura in which he alludes to "exotic weeds" that should be purged from the vineyard. Layla guesses that he intends a double entendre and wants her to dispose of some manner of bad guys who are using the place, maybe Tsuirakuans of some kind, maybe not. On their return, Layla detects (with her newly minted magic skills) an invisible presence monitoring the house at the vineyard. A lucky shot from Connor fatally wounds the invisible spy, who turns out to be a Tsuirakuan teenager, much to Layla's distress. The group uses a key the dead boy had dropped to gain access to the shack, and Joe inadvertently triggers a magical transporter and is whisked away to points unknown, returning soon with the news that someone had been heard speaking Tsuirakuan on the other side of a door. New PC Maya is found cowering near the shack and tries to answer some questions, but rapidly proves to have nothing to do with the Tsuirakuans who use the shack. One of those Tsuirakuans shows up shortly with a Yuuki staff, however, and locks down the searchers with a sea of viscous green goo that takes a while for everyone to escape from. Once the group is free of the green goo, Maya, who's nearly blind, laments that she has lost her eye drops and must go into town to retrieve them. First, though, the group pauses at the house for a day or two of healing and recuperation (offstage).

When play resumes, the Gewehr people receive a directive to drop Ace off at the airship terminal, and more unexpectedly, pick up a group arriving at the terminal. This is Jamie, Jasmine and Nera, returned from their adventure in the Farrel Sea (see above). Jamie joins Joe and Maya as they go into Tsuiraku-town in search of eyedrops, dropping Layla off at Kinabalu's magic lab on the way. The eyedrop mission turns weird, however, as a communications breakdown (and Jamie's thirst for something intoxicating) leads not to Maya getting her eyedrops, but to Jamie drinking a hallucinogen ... the consequences of which are still unfolding as the thread gives way to the next one.

Salticiel and beyond

First entry: 2009/11/16

Sister Rose, Lillith, Argus, Drusia, etc., travel across the mountains toward the small town of Salticiel, en route discovering some ruins that turn out to be an elven travel platform that the Millenarians have somehow subverted. Harker inadvertently triggers the platform and is whisked off to what appears to be the castle back in Provatiel, where he overhears a conversation that implies the presence of a large and hostile military unit. When he reappears at the platform, he mentions hearing the name Elgin Bindiel, which sends Brad into a rage: Elgin Bindiel is the man who stole Brad's wife Annie. Lillith calms him down while Rose and Argus ponder the connection to the Millenarians.

On arrival at Salticiel, Argus, Rose, Maduin and Drusia begin planning for Lillith's faked "death," with abundant personal complications on the side. Drusia makes advances toward both Rose and Argus (both of which are rebuffed) and Brad continues the process of falling hard for the doubtful Lillith. Maduin has an encounter of his own, with a man named Thomas, that holds some promise of the romance that he's come to Veracia to seek. Although Argus declines Drusia's overtures, she takes the opportunity to confide much of her backstory to him, and then ups the stakes: could he be persuaded to father her child? Argus reacts angrily in the negative, to be intercepted by a puzzled Rose, who's having more painful memories of her late husband. Drusia, frustrated by the unresponsiveness of the humans, seeks solaces in a pedicure from Maduin (who teaches her an ... interesting ... spell) as night falls.

The next morning, following an early-morning visit by Rose to the Orthodox temple (presided over by the rather dull Father Thaddeus, a former friend of the late Egbert, who later reveals some information about Egbert that Rose finds intriguing), unpleasant dreams by Maduin, and a more -- satisfying night for Drusia, the planning for the masquerade continues. The group tries to bring Lillith gently into the picture, but things go badly when a random encounter with a maid at the inn reveals prematurely that Drusia is an elf, sending Lillith into full-fledged panic. It takes some time for the group to overcome this, but eventually, a still-reluctant Lillith is placed into a death-like state by a drug administered by Drusia; Rose and Maduin create a charade to make the "death" more convincing to witnesses; and Rose and Argus obtain a coffin from Thaddeus in which to "bury" his daughter -- of course, part of the act to get her out of town before she wakes up. They return to the inn to pack up and move on as the thread ends.

The Road to Gervasiel

First entry: 2010/01/10

The group, carrying the "dead" Lillith and receiving the hoped-for expressions of sympathy from observers, heads south from Salticiel, en route to a stopover at what they believe to be a small town that a map gives the name "Leonish." En route, Lillith revives, to the joy and relief of everyone else, first and foremost Brad, of course. Less happily, Rose receives a message from up north announcing that back in Kiyoka, Captain Kitaura has been replaced by another Tsuirakuan military type named Haniko Goto. Rose has been asked to find out whether either of the Tsuirakuans knows anything about this unknown but apparently menacing woman. She discovers that the name evokes a strong, and thoroughly enraged, reaction from Argus: he knows her, all right, and blames her for a betrayal back home that contributed to him being sent into exile. The group (inadvertently) opens a bottle of wine and starts to celebrate Lillith's revival, but Drusia nearly chokes on an unexpected small object in the bottle: the bottle, it turns out, was exactly the one that had been given to Argus earlier -- and found to have been doctored somehow. The group reaches the conclusion that the doctoring was done by Haniko Goto, for some unclear reason, and the small object proves to be of -- interest to Drusia, who keeps it.

Leonish proves to be not a town, but a single country inn, where the travelers bed down for the night. The proprietors convince Drusia to perform some elvish music in return for a break on the price, and she complies, in a program that induces an unexpectedly sentimental moment between Rose and Argus and some soul-searching by Maduin. As her music ends, the proprietor, Mr. Handriel, starts some music of his own, on an instrument that Drusia recognizes as of elven origin. Following a graceful dance in which various couples (expected and otherwise) take part, the travelers retire, each to their own bed -- although Drusia's is also occupied by young, athletic Zeb, the inn's handyman, who promises her the kind of bed-time "entertainment" she really wants.

In the morning, Brad catches a random glimpse of Zeb leaving the inn at impossibly high speed. When he reports this, an earlier encounter with a farmer, who had mentioned that the site of Leonish had at one time had something to do with an outfit called the "Siggy-Rum," takes on a different meaning: could he have been talking about the Ensigerum? Different characters react differently to this possibility, but when the wagon passes through a burnt-out ruin that, against all expectations, contains a Durus Flamma blade, the question develops some urgency, particularly since another figure is seen, out of the corners of people's eyes, moving far too quickly to be a normal human. However, a generous gesture by Rose establishes that the blur is a human, if one inexplicably capable of time-ninja-like speed; specifically, a teenage girl who has apparently been keeping tabs on the travelers since they reached the ruin -- Leonish itself. The thread ends with the group heading for Stone Man Pass and trying to decide whether to take this mysterious newcomer (whose name, later, is learned to be "Kim") along with them.

Stone Man Pass

First entry: 2010/03/08; player characters introduced: Suriah Chase

The group continues on toward Stone Man Pass, pausing to wait out a mountain thunderstorm, during which "Kim," the girl from the ruins of Leonish, catches up to them and nervously joins them in the impressively furnished tent that Maduin has erected somehow. The wait keeps them from making it to Gervasiel, on the other side of the pass, before dark, so they camp for the night on the way to the pass. On the way, the wagon is overtaken by the flamboyantly eccentric Porpington Bree, who claims to be a "Poet Laureate" en route to a reading for the "Stone Men." He disappears up the road to the pass without revealing much about his true affiliations, and the group settles into the camp.

That night, there is a series of chaotic encounters initiated by Lillith, who has gone out to meditate near a "stone man," a statue near the camp site. Maduin has an encounter with Thomas, a man Maduin had met earlier and found romantically interesting, who warns him of dangers awaiting the party. Soon afterward, Lillith is abducted by a shadowy stranger, and to Maduin's horror and outrage, the body of Thomas is found, murdered, along with that of another, similarly dressed woman. Eventually Lillith is rescued, and the uncharacteristically enraged Maduin metes out revenge of a sort on the perpetrator of one or more of the outrages, although Thomas' murderer escapes. Nobody gets much sleep that night.

In the morning, there is a certain amount of soul-searching and -baring, as Brad confides his love for Lillith to Rose (not that it hadn't been obvious for a long time); Maduin gives Rose his interpretation of what happened during the night, including his feelings of guilt at Thomas' death and his fears that an equally murderous encounter may yet await the group; and Argus and Drusia try to do something about the hostility that Harker has manifested toward the elf. For her part, Kim adds to the tension in the party by expressing her distaste for the dead bodies, not because they are lifeless but because they wear the robes of the Ensigerum -- lending credence to Rose's suspicion that the Ensigerum had been responsible for the slaughter at Leonish that Kim somehow survived. Kim starts to make motions as though to leave the group, but is gently talked out of it by Maduin and Rose.

On the way down from the pass, the group meets a farmer who warns them about "big-brain scholars" -- presumably the group that Rose must meet regarding the Artifact of Absonial -- and more worrisome, a "demonic" Tsuirakuan who awaits in Gervasiel. Maduin greets this with levity and a practical joke, and Lillith with amusement and scorn for the man's ignorant bigotry; however, from the farmer's description, Argus recognizes the "demonic" Tsuirakuan as one Arsoro Kurou, an academic from Tsuirakushiti who is every bit as menacing as the man believes him to be. In the wake of the encounter, Rose is persuaded to give a reluctant summary of the Albigenish Incident, which she has mentioned several times, and which obviously had a role in shaping her life. After noticing a decaying castle that will figure in later events, the group continues on to Gervasiel.

After settling in at an inn, Maduin becomes highly agitated and hauls Argus off to be fitted for fancy new clothes. The reason: Argus' daughter Fayna has made contact with Maduin, and is likely to be in touch with Argus himself soon. Drusia tags along (and engages in a whimsical bit of shoplifting), and shortly afterward, Rose follows in their wake, but is injured by the wildly careening cab bearing Argus and Maduin back to the inn. Her injuries are not serious and are quickly treated, but the group is delayed enough to still be en route to the inn when there is a powerful explosion from somewhere nearby. Rose and Drusia go to investigate, in the process meeting the terrified Suriah Chase, a new player character who had been working at a nearby stable when the blast happened. Although there has been some blast damage to the inn, the only fatality appears to be the weird poet, Porpington Bree, who was almost completely disintegrated by the explosion. Rose and Lillith calm Suriah down (and Drusia does a quick assessment, concluding that she's as harmless as Lillith, therefore not an Errant) as this long thread ends, leaving the follow-up to the explosion still up in the air.

Tsuiraku-town

First entry: 2010/03/13; player characters introduced: Rhett Courier

Layla resumes her magical education under the tutelage of Dasuke Kinabalu, but it is interrupted when Kinabalu goes to receive a clandestine parcel at the laboratory's back door, being delivered by newly-introduced PC Rhett Courier. Unfortunately, this transaction is interrupted by a pair of muggers with some magical capabilities, as Layla learns when Kinabalu fails to reappear and she goes looking for him. She arrives too late to stop the mugging, and never sees the goods that Rhett was smuggling into Kinabalu's laboratory, but is able to release the pair from their magical binding. Meanwhile, a hallucinating Jamie and colleagues continue looking for somewhere in Tsuiraku-town that carries Maya's eye drops, while Kalin, Jasmine and Faye start to get to know each other back at the vineyard.

The quest for eye drops leads Jamie, Ace, etc., to the exact same apothecary/coffee shop that Layla and Rhett are visiting as they discuss what happened at the laboratory and start some negotiations regarding future business. Momentarily, an enraged Kinabalu also arrives, and heads into the back of the shop, where he is unexpectedly incinerated by a Force Bolt spell cast by persons unknown. When the dust settles, Layla concludes that Kinabalu was the victim of a rather skillful "hit," but the group leaves the shop without learning who was responsible.

Back at the house at the vineyard, Layla fills her mother in on what happened in Tsuiraku-town. As they start to discuss needed follow-ups, it is noticed that one of the laborers working in the arbors is paying undue attention to activities at the house -- and then that a spectator on the property's perimeter is taking careful notice of the laborer. This second watcher turns out to be Captain Kitaura, who once again lectures Layla about the need to deal with "exotic weeds" at the vineyard. Rhett, Layla and Kalin take the hint and capture the watcher; however, his interrogation ends early when he succumbs to a suicide spell after being forced to divulge a connection with Tsuiraku. Neither Kalin nor Rhett like this at all, and Rhett resolves to go into Rinkaiel and have it out with Kitaura, despite Layla's warnings that it isn't a good idea.

As Maya and Jamie, uh, get to know each other, and the enigmatic elf Neverinal appears at the vineyard (only to disappear again shortly afterward), Rhett tries to get into the consulate to see Kitaura, but is rebuffed. However, he's noticed by an old friend named Quince, who turns out to be a personage of some significance in the Seeadler and gives Rhett some information on the consulate. Rhett and another friend, the recently arrived Captain Ritter, take a remarkable, flying boat ride to a park in the middle of Tsuiraku-town that Quince had identified as of interest to Kitaura. The Tsuirakuan is seen neither there nor at the nearby Temple of the Divine Dwarf, another site that Quince had mentioned; however, Rhett is abducted by Tsuirakuan Homeland Security goons and taken to see Kitaura at an outdoor venue. An uneasy detente is reached as Kitaura re-emphasizes his "exotic weed" concern, and most of the characters return to the vineyard for the night.

Tsuiraku-town, part 2

First entry: 2010/5/12; player characters introduced: William Gault, Mouse, Ouroboros, Jade, Ghaz

As Layla heads back into Tsuiraku-town to resume her magic lessons, Maya, Rhett and Jasmine foil a magical kidnapping attempt on Nera. This however turns out to have been a case of mistaken identity: the actual target was Zachary rather than Nera, with the goal of using him to coerce the Sorensens into hunkering down in the vineyard and abandoning their inquiries into the sinister shack and points beyond. Rhett attributes this offense (incorrectly, as it turns out) to Captain Kitaura, and starts to drag Layla into town to sort him out, but Jamie indignantly protests that it was her child, not Layla's, that was the target, and therefore, she should go along. After some tense discussions, the trip into town is postponed, and evidence is obtained that the kidnappers came from the shack, rather than from Kitaura's base.

As the group prepares to head into Tsuiraku-town, Layla makes a quick digression to the airship terminal to collect Ace, there encountering new PCs, the mute Mouse and William Gault, the latter a naval captain who is carrying an intriguing cargo of body bags. (Gault's crew are seeking entertainment in town and are not at the terminal; fellow PC Ouroboros, or "Ouro," is there, but a stowaway, and is not seen by Layla and Ace.) Layla recalls doing business with Gault in times past under the alias "Captain Shadriel," which name he continues to use in interactions with other characters for a while. She and Ace return to the vineyard to check out the traps and other defenses that Faye and the Porters are setting up, while Ouro heads into town, where he has a surprising encounter with Captain Kitaura.

Gault and Mouse head into town as well, followed by Layla and entourage, as yet another new PC, the wounded Jade Ermingard, straggles into the vineyard, to be discovered by Ace, who's babysitting Zachary. Jade's wounds are such that Maya attempts some healing, with mixed results. Meanwhile, Layla and company pass by the liquor store to get some beverages for the Porters, there encountering Gault, and also noticing, via Layla's nascent magic sense, a concealed observer. However, despite attempts to corner the invisible intruder, he escapes, whereupon Gault and Mouse hop a lift from the not-entirely-willing Layla out to the vineyard to figure out what to do next.

Back at the vineyard, the various parties introduce themselves, each telling some but not all of their history. Surveillance is set up on the mysterious shack, and Layla and Jade soon detect a pair of Tsuirakuans passing through, one apparently a powerful magic user (archmage?) and the other possibly an aide. Layla and Jade overhear a conversation that suggests the Tsuirakuans are on the opposite side of the law from Kitaura, whatever that means. Meanwhile, yet another new PC wanders in, the "ghob" Ghaz, who is recognized by Gault, and whose appearance (and race) startles the humans who have never seen a "ghob" before. Alarmed by the proliferation of curious characters at the vineyard, Layla, Faye and Zachary head into town for a remarkable meeting with Kitaura, which is transacted semi-offline (in the "Background Noise" quasi-thread). Gault, Mouse and Ghaz also head into town, to Gault's ship and then a bolt-hole.

Jade, recovering from her injuries, heads into the basement of the house at the vineyard, and is stunned to discover what turns out to be a "Blue Golem" there -- just as another blue golem appears at the shack, under the watchful eyes of Ace and Jamie. The "inside" golem disintegrates in a hail of bullets and magic, and the "outside" golem goes back into the shack and disappears (with some persuasion by Jamie), leaving the watchers speculating that they may have seen the "super-weapons" that Layla and Jade overheard the Tsuirakuans mentioning, even though they weren't really all that "super." Meanwhile, the bolt-hole also becomes a violent place, as Mouse kills someone whom Gault seems to know, and mages show up to ramp up the violence level a bit. Eventually things quiet down for the night.

The next morning, Jade heads into town to try to do some fact finding with bartender Dandelo, whom she knows. (Gault, meanwhile, returns to the vineyard, leaving his crewmates sleeping off their intoxication.) One of the oddities that Jade uncovers is the fact that Kitaura had passed through, leaving Ouro a most uncharacteristic tip. Layla and Faye, now back at the vineyard as well, start to plan to blow up the shack, as Gault had recommended, but change their minds after thinking through the consequences, and informing some of the others that Kitaura is apparently on their side. As all of this proceeds, Jamie overhears a fragment of a conversation that makes her aware that some of the people at the vineyard are Gewehr -- causing her to flee in terror, since it was only a few weeks earlier that Gewehr hoods had been trying to kill her, rather than protect her. She flees into the woods behind the vineyard, pursued by Jade, Jasmine and Faye who are trying to calm her down and bring her back; however, all three women (plus Nera, carried by Jamie) trigger yet another warp gate, and are transported to who-knows-where as the thread ends.

Fork at this point. Action in Rinkaiel continues in the "Tsuiraku-town, part 3" thread, while Jamie, Jade, etc., continue their adventures in the new "Farrel: Ladies' Day Out" thread.


Gervasiel

First entry: 2010/5/22

The group's investigation of the explosion at the inn continues, interrupted by the panicked departure of Kim, who cuts herself badly as she breaks through a window and must be retrieved and given medical care by Rose and Drusia. While they are ministering to Kim, Arsoro Kurou, who has been observed by Lillith and Suriah, plants a bug (literally) on the party that is dispelled, unexpectedly and spectacularly, by Brad. Meanwhile, an ominous rumble in the inn announces that Argus' daughter Fayna wishes to get in touch with him, and father and daughter engage in a long, emotionally charged exchange.

Drusia offers to use her wiles to spy on Kurou, who has departed for the castle ruins east of town. She and Harker head for the ruin, as Rose enlightens Suriah on Drusia's true nature and offers to take her along when the party goes to the half-elf sanctuary at Snamish, an offer that Suriah accepts. Rose and Suriah are summoned by Father Amalric, high priest of the Veracian church in town and de-facto governor of the place, to brief him on developments involving the explosion, surprising Rose with implied magical skill going beyond what she expects of a priest out in the boonies. There follow several exchanges on family and relationships, as Drusia and Harker start their mission, which however is played out in the "Background Noise" thread.

As night falls, Rose, Maduin and Argus make a quick visit to the inn where Kurou is staying, disguised as bawdy young women (a disguise that Argus fervently hopes Harker never learns about). They don't learn much, only that Kurou is a master of magical defenses, as advertised. As the "young women" return to their own inn and drop their disguises, Drusia and Harker also show up, bearing interesting intelligence regarding both Kurou and the Artifact of Absonial, and ... satisfied at the night's entertainment.

Drusia and Suriah go off to dinner, and a romantic tete-a-tete that will lead to the two becoming lovers. The rest of the group also goes to dinner, interrupted by Brad's outraged realization that his ex-wife is in town with the man who stole her away from him. However, Lillith calms him down before he does anything foolish, and the night passes uneventfully, at least for everyone but the two new lovers.

When morning comes, a very satisfied Drusia offers to go back out to the castle and dispose of Kurou. The harrowing encounter that follows culminates in Drusia teleporting back to Rose's room, near death until Rose (who had been feeling guilty about sending the elf on such a dangerous mission and was contemplating joining her) casts a flurry of healing spells. (Kurou also teleports out of the ruin to a site somewhere else, licking his own near-fatal wounds and vowing revenge.) As Drusia recovers (and after Rose wakes up from the slumber induced by casting the exhausting healing magic), others of the party go to visit Avner Indianel, the professor in charge of the dig that discovered the Artifact of Absonial. They make arrangements to meet later in the day to travel out to the dig, and Rose and Argus go back to the inn to prepare a decoy in case they are waylaid; this too is played out in the Background Noise thread. Meanwhile, Drusia tells Suriah, Lillith and Brad more about Snamish. The group are joined by Indianel and his "research assistant," Rebekah Codoin -- coincidentally(?), the young woman in the warp gate at the time of the late Father Egbert's mysterious disappearance. The thread ends as everyone heads for the dig, Argus and Rose both pondering an unexpected, affectionate moment between them that arose during construction of the decoy.

The Artifact of Absonial

First entry: 8 August 2010

With Avner Indianel and Rebekah Codoin in tow, the party travels to the entrance to a slot canyon, beyond which is the site containing the Artifact of Absonial that Sister Rose has been ordered to retrieve. En route to the archaeological dig, Maduin notices an odd, magical tree that, on inspection, turns out to be the surface manifestation of a peculiar, buried array of not-alive-but-not-quite-dead humans. Lillith, who is momentarily possessed by one of those beneath the ground, calls them the "Peaceful Dead" (even though they turn out to be not quite so "peaceful"), triggering a memory in Rose regarding an old religious movement called the Stalwarts that created troops in a state of suspended animation for later service to Luminosita. This group, however, turns out to be not so benign, as Harker is possessed by a powerful mind from below and tries to get them to rise from their undead state. He comes alarmingly close to succeeding before being knocked out by Argus, and Lillith, with help from most of the group, succeeds in quieting the restless spirits -- although one plaintive mind-voice from the ground suggests that they haven't all been quieted.

The Artifact, a nondescript, non-magical gray cylinder of unknown origin and significance, proves to be hidden in the back of a dwarven ruin set into the canyon wall. Rose, Argus, Drusia and Avner prepare the Artifact for transport as Maduin strikes up a friendship with "Bryce," one of the guards providing security at the site. This friendship rapidly blossoms into the kind of romance that Maduin has been seeking as the group heads back out of the canyon. However, as they pass the site where the Peaceful Dead had been, the solitary voice remains, pleading with them for deliverance. Maduin, Argus and Rose manage to raise the body beneath the ground, finding to their horror that it is that of a small boy who was interred with his parents. Revived, the boy gives his name as Jedidiah Bindiel, and the group vows to take him back to Gervasiel and help him resume life among the living.

In Gervasiel, the stern Father Amalric, abbot of the main Veracian temple in town, antagonizes Drusia and the half elves, even as he warns them that an elf has passed through town seeking to kill Suriah (and having been diverted away from the party by a lie by Amalric). An angry Drusia nearly kills the priest before the party moves on, Jedidiah Bindiel having been delivered to the Millenarian temple in town. (Rose notices that the boy is more comfortable with the Millenarians than with the Orthodox church, recalls that she's heard the name Bindiel before, and doesn't like the conclusions she's drawing about the Peaceful Dead.)

The group continues on to Lorenzel, spending the night there at a ship that has been converted to a floating hotel, the White Clipper Inn. This is staffed by military-looking personnel and turns out to be controlled by the Veracian navy. The next morning, Rose and Argus deliver the Artifact to the navy base, with a brief digression en route to dangle a duplicate of the Artifact in front of the Millenarian temple in town. Rose is surprised that this attracts no interest, but meanwhile, Drusia and Kim, who are tailing Rose and Argus in case of trouble, are briefly detained by the Veracian military police. A combination of magic and acrobatics breaks them free, and the group leaves town for Snamish, although not without one last little complication: a message reaches Rose with the news that Avner Indianel and Rebekah Codoin have been murdered back in Gervasiel. Official suspicion falls on Bryce, even though his close attachment(!) to Maduin gives him an airtight alibi, but the party (including Bryce) manages to get out of town after some entertaining magical subterfuge by Maduin, leaving the identity of the murderers unsettled as the thread ends.

Farrel: Ladies' Day Out

First entry: 23 August 2010; player characters introduced: Tamina

Faye, Jade and Jasmine decide to follow Jamie, who has disappeared to parts unknown via a concealed warp gate. When the magic clears, they find themselves somewhere in north-central Farrel, at a site that Jasmine recognizes from previous adventures along the Waldhaxen Channel. They stumble into an armed compound full of Tsuirakuans who appear to be conducting experiments with, and possibly mass production of, weaponized blue golems and Yuuki staffs. A mad melee ensues, which also draws the attention of Grope and Scrobian, who have sadly given up their vigil at the Island of Thralls and are following signs that other trolls, possibly those made homeless by the Dwarven Forge eruption, have been nearby. (Indeed they have; they find remains of two trolls in the area, but it's too late to learn anything from them.)

As the battle rages, an airship lifts off from the compound, threatening to turn the tide decisively against the women and trolls. However, another airship shows up shortly, and completely reverses the situation, by rescuing Jamie (who recognizes one of the crew from a youthful peccadillo and also discovers that the ship's crew are in the employ of the Eisenfaust) and forcing the Tsuirakuans to disengage. Jade, Jasmine and Faye manage to gate back to Rinkaiel, while the airship bearing Jamie continues south to Port Lorrel.

In Lorrel, a smuggler is in the process of delivering new PC Tamina, a "kobold" (more or less catgirl), to Eisenfaust operatives, to be sold into an unsavory slave trade. Jamie arrives just in time to interfere with this in her typically chaotic way, in the process coming to the notice of the pregnant Elke, who (much against her will) still has a commitment to keep Jamie safe and unharmed (and observed) if possible. Her intervention causes the situation with Jamie and Tamina to take various weird twists and turns, but the long and the short of it is that the girl and the catgirl once again find themselves on the lam, to the Southern Continent via smuggler's ship, as the thread ends (and as a relieved Elke bids them adieu).

Tsuiraku-town, part 3

First entry: 23 August 2010; player characters introduced: Leo Landau

Layla is delighted to learn that her new instructor at the magic laboratory is her friend Galina, from the Mountain of Madness amusement park, and the two young mothers have a generally happy and peaceful morning while chaos breaks out elsewhere. Gault gets severely crosswise with members of the Oshima gang, with details that take some time to develop, and so does recently introduced PC (and con man) Leo Landau, who is using one of his many disguises and going by "Martin Dashwood." The relaxed tete-a-tete between Layla and Galina, and the violence elsewhere, eventually reach a common (and chaotic) ground, as the liquor store that has been serving as the Gewehr's front in town is first attacked by two rather inept hoods brandishing Yuuki staffs, then fire-bombed by a potent magic user named Seishi Torou, whose exact affiliations remain unclear. The store is a total loss, but there are no fatalities, although Gault and some of the people who live upstairs are badly enough injured to require treatment at the Divine Hands clinic. Torou escapes following a mad chase scene that involves a bath house, both Tsuirakuan and Farrelian law enforcement, and most of the player characters, excluding Layla and Galina, still happily conversing at a coffee shop at the park (and staking out the rear of the Temple of the Divine Dwarf, where odd comings and goings are noted).

Faye, Jasmine and Jade have returned from their unexpected teleport into the wilds of northern Farrel, and disperse in their various directions: Jade, to go "modify" a Yuuki staff that she brought back from their battle, and the other two, to go to the farmhouse, where Layla has been conducting a chilling interrogation of the surviving would-be robber of the liquor store. (This reveals that the two robbers were responsible for the mugging of Dasuke Kinabalu, but little else of interest before the man is disposed of.) Jasmine continues her relentless pursuit of her daughter, in the process making the jarring revelation that she had been married to a Gewehr Wraith, yet had been rescued by their arch-enemies, the Eisenfaust. The listening Gewehr people are stunned, but a stern word from Gewehr capo Peter lets them know in no uncertain terms that the episode is none of their business. Meanwhile, there is tension between Gault's outfit and the people surrounding Leo and Jade (eventually found to be a guild-like outfit known as the "Silver Hands"), for reasons apparently connected to the Oshima clan.

As Jade begins work on her "mana rifle," Faye goes off to heed a summons from Captain Kitaura, returning with a clearer idea of his role as official troubleshooter for the Tsuirakuan government, specializing in counterinsurgency (for which there is clearly a need here). Things proceed less smoothly with Jasmine, who has been detected eavesdropping on a crystal-ball conversation between Joe and Peter and threatens violence unless she gets some answers. A spontaneous lie by Joe defuses this, and the pursuit (and protection) of Jamie resumes.

Remarkably enough, the night passes uneventfully. The next morning, Layla is surprised by an encounter with Kitaura, who first causes the destruction of the shack where so much magical chaos had been sown, then proposes an alliance of sorts, which Layla feels she can't refuse. Gault's people take target practice, while Jade completes work on the mana rifle and shows her handiwork to an impressed Layla. Finally, as word has reached the vineyard that Jamie has landed safely in Port Lorrel, Jasmine makes preparations to go bag her there. As she is dropped off at the airship terminal, unhappy-looking members of the Oshima family (or mob or whatever it is) are also seen, and two board the airship, although without interacting with Jasmine.

Layla goes back to the magic lab for more lessons (impressing her friend with her capacity for magical ice sculpture), and learns that there was a fire at the Temple of the Divine Dwarf overnight, in conditions suggesting magical attack. She immediately suspects that Kitaura was behind this, and convinces her reluctant boyfriend to try to infiltrate the temple (by posing as a "convert") to learn more. However, this mission doesn't happen until the next thread. Meanwhile, the airship bearing Jasmine (who is almost picked up by a fellow traveler) drones south, and the cast of characters at the Silver Hands' hangout on Barker Lane expands, as the chapter ends.

Fork at this point; events in Rinkaiel continue with the "Temple of the Divine Dwarf" thread, while Jamie, Jasmine, etc., continue in the "Southern Continent" thread.

The Road to Snamish

First entry: 5 November 2010; player characters introduced: Alia, Desiree, Eli Haverum

The group heads north from Lorenzel, bound for the farm that serves as a main entrance (and concealment) for the secretive half-elf town of Snamish, where Rose's late husband Kenny had been born. Drusia (who founded the place and created most of its defenses) and Rose (who became familiar with it on visits to Kenny's family) prepare to guide the others through the maze of caves and gulches that deter access to the town, but first, Kim announces firmly that she isn't going, but rather, will be staying behind at the farm, as a sentinel (and farm worker). Maduin and others try to convince her not to stay, but her mind is made up, and so the group leaves her with supplies (and blessings) as they wend their way through the maze, in the process meeting up with Kenny's young sister Alia, now doing guard duty (and still resenting Rose for "taking Kenny away" from Snamish to get killed).

In town, a festival is about to start, and Drusia's youngest daughter Desiree, a priestess of Anilis, has been accorded the honor of performing a ceremonial, highly erotic dance to launch the festivities. Half-elven soldier Eli is grumpy because he has been assigned to guard duty at a post on the edge of town, and consequently, will be unable to watch the dance and participate in the festival. However, Alia's signal, from within the maze, that visitors are en route improves his mood by breaking the monotony, and he is in a more cheerful state when he meets up with the party. Rose and Lillith are also cheered by the beautiful setting of Snamish, and Rose is further enraptured when a distinguished-looking half elf comes out to meet them at the gate. It's Benedict, chairman of the town council, and more importantly, the father of Rose's late husband, who has come to love Rose as his own daughter (and the feeling is entirely reciprocal). The two share a long hug and news, with Benedict confiding that he has the uncomfortable feeling that the town is being watched -- bad news for a place that relies on secrecy for its continued existence. The other party members proceed to the festival, where Drusia has an affectionate reunion with her daughter (and Brad nearly passes out from the spectacle, which has ... affected ... Lillith).

As introductions are made, the magic-sensitive of the group are unsettled by a brief, disagreeable pulse of magic apparently emanating from high in the mountains surrounding town. Eli requests and receives Benedict's permission to investigate, taking with him Rose and Argus, along with his fellow Snamishite soldier Pico. The ensuing revelation that Rose (aka Mrs. Kenny Lucas, Major Rose Nuria, etc.) is among the newcomers triggers a painful flashback in Desiree, who had been romantically involved with Kenny Lucas before he left town to join the army, and meet and marry Rose. Rose too finds her introduction to Desiree vaguely uncomfortable, but does her best to be respectful as she and the others head for the mountains, while the other party members go to enjoy the festival.

As most of the group joins the festivities, the investigators reach a high mountain meadow where a young woman named Joselene is sobbing uncontrollably over the inexplicable death of a shepherd, obviously her boyfriend, who seems to have been struck down without any obvious injury -- a pattern Rose and Argus have observed too often. They conclude that the perpetrator is now somewhere on the other side of the mountains protecting Snamish, and return to town to tell Drusia what they have seen. Concerned at the news, Drusia teleports to the pass, to discover a man, near death from starvation, on the far side. It's Wilbur Hamael, he of the death word, whose balloon has crash-landed near the pass; he reflexively slew the shepherd after being discovered trying to regain his strength by preying on a sheep. A tense encounter between Drusia (joined later by Eli and Alia, who have resumed guard duty, and Rose and Argus, who have re-traced their steps to the pass upon learning where Drusia went) and Hamael, eventually leading to the latter's death after he uses his grim power, fortunately without lasting harm to the party. Meanwhile, Lillith and Desiree, oblivious to the drama at the pass, discuss their respective religions and attitudes toward the elves.

Wilbur Hamael having been dealt with, the group at the pass returns to town, where the travelers are to be dinner guests of Benedict Lucas and family. Although there are some tensions at the dinner table due to Alia's feigned drunkenness and Rose's status in the family, the evening passes pleasantly, until Desiree goes off to the town square, to perform a ritual, extremely sexually explicit dance (and more...) with a priest of Senilis. Most of the characters -- indeed, most of the town -- pair off under the influence of this dance (even Rose and Argus, in a more -- chaste -- way than most) as night falls and the thread ends. Underlying this peaceful dropping of the curtain, however, a shadowy, sinister man is asking questions about Hamael and his balloon, of farmers out in the valley beyond Snamish. His main time on stage will not come until the next thread, though.

To the Southern Continent

First entry: 6 December 2010; player characters introduced: Rick (aka The Village Idiot)

As Elke breathes a sigh of relief at Jamie's departure from Lorrel (and violence breaks out at a tavern involved with the slave trade in kobolds), a large array of ships converge on the port of Grendell on the Southern Continent, mostly either carrying Jamie (and Tamina) or Jasmine, or following them with various felonies in mind. Tamina prepares to travel to her home village with Jamie, but they discover that a nasty plague has hit town that may or may not have anything to do with the kobolds. They have several encounters with the unpleasant wildlife of the area, but eventually make it to the village, where Tamina is welcomed enthusiastically by her people. Meanwhile, Keyes and Gabriel Averis, one of the hoods involved in the violence back in Lorrel, have their own problems with the plague, but avoid the contagion as they search for Jamie and Tamina, respectively, one with intentions more benign than the other.

Tamina and Jamie engage in an extended hunt, during which they run into various weird beasts that inhabit the jungles of the Southern Continent, some under the influence of the enemies of Tamina's people, the Ralkin. After the obligatory close calls (and with unexpected help from Jasmine as well as Keyes' talisman "Old Charlie"), they vanquish their foes, in the process moving back toward Grendell. Alas, the plague is taking root in the town, impacting Gabriel Averis and Captain Rigby, captain of one of the sailing ships that docked in Grendell and a man of unclear alliances. As the struggles with weird monsters continue (apparently with Jamie being infected with the plague, although it doesn't become active immediately), Gabriel Averis finds himself somehow bewitched into the service of the Ralkin. More narrow escapes for Jamie and Tamina and friends follow, this time with Averis being among the forces being escaped. Eventually a climactic showdown occurs during which an increasingly crazed Averis is killed (or maybe not...), and the plague comes to an end. Jamie and Tamina decide to head back for Port Lorrel whence they came, to the considerable relief of Keyes, who has been assigned to keep them out of trouble and expects that job to be easier somewhere else.

Rinkaiel: Temple of the Divine Dwarf

First entry: 5 January 2011; player characters introduced: Hikari, Jin-Liu

While Layla goes to another magic lesson with her friend Galina, the other Gewehr and Silver Hands people try to infiltrate the Temple of the Divine Dwarf, to find out what is going on in the rear of the temple. Leo, posing as a friend sent by Galina to help the young Sister Joli, daughter of the temple's high priest, is able to enter the temple through the front door, while Eve makes a more surreptitious entry toward the rear and Ace creates a distraction out front by posing as a possible convert. Unfortunately, the tidy, orderly espionage plan goes awry, as a lethal security device activates at the wrong time (decapitating temple acolyte Brother Roscoe, who was talking to Ace) and alerting a previously unseen, but obviously powerful, mage in the back that something is afoot. As Eve flees, the mage tries to detain her, first with an Entanglement spell, then with a giant, magical hound that tracks the girl through town. However, Leo, who has escaped, succeeds in pacifying the magical dog for the moment, and Eve also makes good her escape.

Meanwhile, Layla, who is distressed to discover that Galina has been summoned to the consulate by the sinister Captain Kitaura, gets the news about events at the temple from Ace, and goes to help. She consoles Joli, who's appalled at the death of Brother Roscoe, and in the process, learns two interesting things: Roscoe is part of the Oshima "family" of mobsters in Tsuiraku-town, and Brother Cosimo, another temple novice whom Layla thinks she has seen at the consulate, seems none too upset at Roscoe's demise. However, before she can dig out any more information about the Oshimas, chaos breaks out again, as the reconstituted magical hound is again ordered to hunt down Eve. Fortunately, it reaches Eve at just the same time as she herself reaches the hideout on Barker Lane, and Jade dispels the magical beast with a shot from the "Mana rifle" that she has been building. This causes the dog's "master," the powerful Tsuirakuan mage in the temple, to turn invisible and go looking for Eve himself.

As the Silver Hands plot their next moves (and Jade's knack for improvised weaponry asserts itself again), Layla makes two unpleasant discoveries. Kitaura has scared her friend Galina badly, to the point that she must abandon the investigation at the temple (and accepts Layla's invitation to spend the night at the vineyard, to escape magical scrutiny). Even worse, there is evidence that Stevo, one of the Gewehr underlings in town, has been "turned" by another gang and is feeding them information on the Gewehr activities. A Silver Hands delegation tracks Stevo to a brothel in town, just as the Tsuirakuan mage reaches the Silver Hands' hideout, and a building-top chase ensues, ending in non-magical wounds to the mage. Meanwhile, Galina, her daughter secured at the vineyard, resumes magic lessons for Layla and new PC Hikari, although it rapidly develops that Hikari is hardly a "beginner" and indeed is so advanced that she can help Galina teach the real beginners who are beginning to appear for lessons. The mage eventually succumbs to a suicide spell as soon as Bert and Eve start to question him, and things quiet down for the night, although Hikari, who's house-sitting for Galina while she and her daughter hide out at the vineyard, is dismayed to find that casters of nasty magic have taken an interest in the place.

The next morning, Layla again accompanies Galina to the teaching lab (largely to provide cover and a distraction for other activities), in the process meeting the transient PC Jin-Liu, another expatriate Tsuirakuan who has been sent to study with Galina. Meanwhile, Eve disobeys orders and goes to "hit" Stevo at the brothel. This takes a nasty, near-fatal turn when Stevo turns out to be accompanied by a Tsuirakuan mage, but disaster is averted by an unexpected explosion at the brothel that appears to have resulted from powerful magic emanating from Tsuiraku-town. Eventually the party straggles back to the characters' various hangouts, from which an assault on the Temple of the Divine Dwarf is to be launched the next day (in the next thread).

Snamish

First entry: 24 January 2011

Morning breaks the next day in Snamish, to find the party preparing to divide and pursue two separate tasks. Most of the group heads up toward the pass, to retrieve the balloon that had carried Wilbur Hamael to town and to his doom (Lillith spins off from this group to do a balloon-related chore with Alia, with whom she quickly clashes concerning vegetarian practice and some religious matters). Unfortunately, a much less cheerful mission is in store for Sister Rose and Desiree. Overnight, a baby had been born to the young Snamishite Kera Kondriel that, according to healer Masha and Desiree, who had gone to bless the birth in her role as priestess of Anilis, had deformities suggesting that the child was an Errant. This provokes a hurried council meeting, presided over by Benedict, to decide whether to enforce the community's grisly but necessary dictum that Errant infants be killed at birth, or to seek more information and try to save the child. Eventually the latter position wins out (despite the misgivings, and more, of Drusia and her son Marius, a council member), and Rose and Desiree are sent to investigate, learning more about each other as they go. The two women try to heal the child, knowing that if his deformities were from birth trauma, they should be reparable, while if they're part of the damaged "template" of an Errant, they'll return in time.

Rose waits prayerfully at the town's lake (encountering Benedict and doing a great deal of soul-searching about her budding relationship with Argus, unaware that Maduin is doing a bit of magical tampering to try to keep that relationship from getting too close), to give the heals time to work or be negated. Meanwhile, any number of shenanigans break loose at the pass. Brad inadvertently launches the balloon, with himself and Eli aboard. They eventually figure out how to control the thing, but by the time they do, the Gewehr assassin who has been traveling toward Snamish, notices it and recognizes it as belonging to the man he has been sent to kill (Hamael). Believing Hamael still to be alive and on board, he fires a shot at the balloon, hitting it but causing only survivable damage. He starts to climb the sheer cliffs protecting Snamish so that he can get to the pass and finish the job, but is intercepted by Drusia, who somehow manages to negotiate a non-violent end to the man's mission and send him away.

All of this activity, alas, only delays the sad proceedings at the Kondriel house, where the baby's deformities have reappeared, damning him as an Errant. Rose seriously considers defying the council and adopting the child (which would force her permanent estrangement from Snamish), but before she can act, Drusia resolves the situation by giving him a fatal dose of narcotic -- previously prepared, ironically, by Rose. Lillith senses the child's death, draws the correct conclusion as to how it happened and why, and angrily denounces the Snamishite policy toward Errants, deciding that she doesn't want to settle there after all. The whole party therefore leaves town the next morning, accompanied by Desiree, whose mother has decided that the young woman would benefit from seeing the world. The thread ends as Rose receives orders for the next stage of her travels, which don't look to be any more comfortable than this leg was.

Umbertiel

First entry: 2 May 2011

To Sister Rose's distinct displeasure, she has been summoned to meet with two representatives of the Cardinal Inquisitor regarding events in Nautkia, and the party travels toward the small town of Umbertiel where the meeting is supposed to take place, the characters learning more about each other en route. There is an intermediate stop in the even smaller town of Roquiel, where Argus has a chance encounter with Dess Marson, a "businessman" whom he knows slightly from his hard days in Kiyoka. There is a violent fatality in Marson's own party as the two groups interact, but it doesn't appear to have anything to do with Argus, Rose and their fellow travelers -- probably. As the group travels onward, it becomes clear that Bryce, Maduin's love interest and a soldier in the Veracian military, has a deep dislike for Sister Bree, one of the Inquisitor's people, and he explains a little of the history of the region to help Rose and the others understand why.

The group makes an overnight camp in the hills above Umbertiel, as Rose receives good news: the newly-engaged couples back in Kiyoka, Brother Miguel/Sister Marilyn and Brother Farley/Kristi Yugawa, have both asked her to officiate at their weddings. This prompts Brad to start his own marriage proposal to Lillith, but he collapses in a faint before getting the punch line out (which is probably just as well). A pleasant sort-of-party ensues that is interrupted only briefly when an unnamed messenger warns Rose that an elf has been seen in the area. However the night passes with no complications other than "interactions" involving amorous couples.

The next morning, there is an amusing side interaction with the preposterously horny, but otherwise harmless, elf Selvay, but less amusingly, Rose learns that the Inquisitor's party will include Father Blaise, a name that strikes disturbing chords with her, although she's not sure why. The group travels uneventfully to Getsemiel and settles into their lodging as clothes-loving Maduin launches a shopping trip. This takes an ominous turn as a belligerent group from the Veracian church shows up to haul Bryce and Maduin off for a smiting, the result of the Orthodox disapproval of their relationship. However, a combination of Maduin's mind magic and some slapstick defuses this (although Rose learns something interesting about both Blaise and Bree in the process), and eventually, everyone heads off to bed, largely paired off in couples, most platonic but some ... not. (There is a classic "fade-to-black" moment between Desiree and Eli as the thread ends.)

Temple of the Divine Dwarf, Part 2

First entry: 26 June 2011

Layla and the Silver Hands continue to prepare for an attack against the temple, or at least against the Oshima outfit that seems to be based there. After tunneling under the temple with Jin-Liu's help, for some information gathering, they start a rumor campaign designed to draw their adversaries out, in the process having a prickly encounter with some of Gault's people. Jade is injured in this encounter, but dispatches her main antagonist before going for medical help (and alerting an Oshima operative in the process). Meanwhile, Faye tries to infiltrate the temple, but the "priests" smell something amiss, and she is taken captive.

When a ransom note arrives at the vineyard, describing how to get Faye back, the group's priorities change: they're going to get Faye back, but they're going to make the perpetrators pay. Layla succeeds in enlisting her friend Oxana (and Jin-Liu and his golems) in this effort, with various magicks coming into play. They manage to triangulate magically on Faye's location, and are distressed to find that it's in the home turf of the Seeadler, which Layla has been given clear orders to avoid. Specifically, she is somewhere at the Rinkaiel College of Shipbuilding and Maritime Science, and more specifically yet, inside a museum that is part of the college grounds. The Silver Hands try to infiltrate the college by passing Eve off as Rufus' daughter and a prospective student there, while Layla and Jin-Liu check out the museum. Both efforts are met with success: Rufus and Jade meet someone who gives all the signs of being an Oshima operative (none other than Seishi Torou, who had earlier magically fire-bombed the liquor store the Gewehr was using as a front), and one of the museum exhibits turns out to contain a magically imprisoned Faye. (Some weird, temporary sex-change magic complicates developments from this point, but doesn't change what is about to happen.)

A direct attempt to rescue Faye proves unfeasible, so the group decides on a different approach: an exchange of hostages involving Torou's wife. She is tracked to an apartment building in Rinkaiel, but Layla is dismayed to find out that the Torous are parents of a baby about the same age as her own. An encounter with the Torous' babysitter causes a security force to be called, as a result of which the magically-sensitive Layla learns that Eve has become the subject of a trace spell. This is bad, because it involves the forces under Captain Kitaura, whom Layla has been forced to placate. The kidnapping plot is put on hold for the moment so that the group can disengage. They head into the Seeadler district to try to ditch the trace spell, in the process instigating a merry bar fight that somehow obliterates the trace.

The next day, the plot to capture Seishi Torou's wife continues, aided by the discovery that she works at the airship terminal, where Ace has seen her in the past. Stakeouts ensue at the terminal; at the Torous' apartment, moving with Seishi Torou when he leaves; and on the babysitter from the night before, while Layla learns some interesting and applicable magic from Galina. Eventually an opening for the kidnapping presents itself, and Mrs. Torou and child are "bagged" and taken off to the Silver Hands' safe house as the thread ends.

Return to Port Lorrel

First entry: 9 July 2011; new player characters introduced: Udo Fujomori

This chapter gets off to a decidedly tongue-in-cheek start as Jamie (and Nera) and Tamina head back to Lorrel by boat following their adventures on the Southern Continent, with the obligatory sea-monster encounter en route. As they're coming into port, they are noticed by a pair of priests of some unspecified religion who are looking for a virgin to sacrifice in a religious rite. All sorts of hijinks ensue as Jamie and Tamina go to a bar, where the priests try to "recruit" Jamie via drugged hooch (augmented, if necessary, by chloroform and/or a blackjack). This goes about as well as might be expected, and the priests beat a rapid retreat from the ensuing chaos as Jamie and Tamina wander off to Geno's in search of something to eat.

Here, it becomes clear that a second group is taking a more serious interest in the pair: the Eisenfaust, whose big cheese Elke has directed various minions to connect with Jamie and keep her under surveillance. Elke herself meets Jamie and tries to negotiate another job for her: serving as bodyguard for Tamina, who has wandered off to create more chaos at a wedding in a nearby church. Meanwhile, two other parties are coming to town: a band of Tsuirakuan security people led by the sinister Captain Kitaura, and the ship bearing a vengeful Gabriel Averis, who is not as dead as he appeared to be. Kitaura's people are there merely to observe and conduct fact finding; Averis' reasons for coming to town are ... not so peaceful.

Jamie's services prove to be much in demand, as she's also sought by Kitaura for a hit (although he eventually settles for her mother Jasmine, no poor gunslinger in her own right), but she eventually takes employment "escorting" a caravan out into the boonies. There they encounter newly introduced PC Udo Fujomori, a former Tsuirakuan battlemage now trying his hand as a highwayman (in the hopes of picking up chicks). Tamina's charm and Jamie's threats quickly convince him to join them. They meet a second group of bandits which demands Tamina be sent over to them. The group complies, and Tamina slaughters them. They meet a third group, the brightly-robed Order of Expendables, whose battle-cries are loud declarations that they haven't a chance and are bound to be slaughtered. These engage the bold caravaneers in a magically-supported ambush and extended firefight, which they ultimately lose because night falls, Tamina can see in the dark, and they can't.

They proceed to the Sign of the Flatiron in Ester, with the predictable bar fight starting, and Jamie shoots Winslow, the wizard who led the Expendables before they were all expended. The rest of the fight is interrupted by the appearance of Jasmine Porter and a well-dressed Tsuirakuan from Kitaura's patrol. The latter finally gets Jamie to accept a "job" on another Tsuirakuan by the name of Junichi Oshima, but the details will have to await the next thread in this series.

Umbertiel, Part 2 (Inquisition)

First entry: 19 July, 2011; new player characters introduced: Brother Timothy

The group awakens at the inn. Harker has fudged the innkeeper's books to get Argus a room with Rose, but Argus took the gentlemanly route and slept on the floor. Rose and Argus go to the temple to see Blaise and Bree. Nervous about the Inquisitors, Rose experiments with mind speech and learns to communicate with Argus that way. The interrogation by Blaise (who is surprisingly young-looking) goes smoothly. Sister Bree reveals a dislike of Bryce that complements his own of her and is brusquely dismissed from the questioning by Blaise.

After Argus and Rose return, Maduin and Bryce go to see the inquisitors. The interrogation is smooth until four crossbow quarrels smash through the window and bury themselves in the desk. Bryce's reflexes save Maduin, and the source and motive for the attack remain unclear. Blaise asks about the Artifact of Absonai, the death of Porpington Bree, and Father Amalric's encounter with Drusia. Maduin reveals nothing of interest. Blaise reveals that no one who knew about the Indianel expedition could've been responsible for the recent deaths, to include Father Amalric, who has an airtight alibi.

Lillith’s “spirit magic” has led her, Rose, and Argus to the temple in search of “strange disturbances.” Rose detects some powerful magic coming from the temple and discovers Bree's dead body, which she investigates with the temple's Abbot, the aging Father Cyrus. They find Bree's magically encrypted journal, which will later provide informative but disturbing reading to Rose. Meanwhile, Eli and Desiree (who spent the morning in bed) rejoin the rest of the group. A fire breaks out at the temple stables and the group helps to put it out and heal the injured. During this, Cyrus suffers a heart attack. Desiree goes to work to save him, joined by newly-arrived PC Brother Timothy, a popular priest who is also Lieutenant Gantric in the local militia. Between them, these two highly skilled healers save his life. (And some chemistry of desire arises between them, though no business results.) Everyone ends up back at the inn together, with Tim hoping to find out more about this group and especially Desiree, even though she is posing as Eli's wife.

Locals break in and begin to accuse the "foreign devil" Maduin of setting the fire but are restrained by Tim. Eli insults the townsmen, who notice his race and panic. Tim "takes the suspects into custody" so as to bring them in safety to the temple. The senior priest in Cyrus' absence, Father Arpad, informs him that they will be leaving in the morning - and that Tim is to go with them. Tim and Eli have words about Eli's scorn for the Veracians, but no more violence results. A parrot from Rose's superiors informs her that Tim comes well recommended by Emerylon.

Tim, Brad, and Lillith investigate the source of the rumor against Maduin. They trace it to a local farmer, who got it from a stranger staying in his barn. They enter the barn, where the door crashes closed and they're attacked by a strange magical force that fires crossbow bolts. Lillith calls up a magic wind that blows the doors back open, throws Tim around like a ragdoll, and uncovers the perpetrator - a novice named Ronnie with a magical figurine that fires the bolts. The boy (who meant only to defend himself against unspecified enemies) reveals it came from his "Uncle Shemmy," who found it in the burnt stables. Argus and Rose meanwhile discover a burnt corpse there. Lillith comforts the boy and takes him back to the temple. As the rest of the group beds down, Tim makes preparations to travel with them the next morning.

The Road to Getsemiel

First entry: 19 October 2011

Much of this thread is devoted to exploration of the relationships among the various player characters rather than to cut-and-thrust action. The night passes uneventfully, although not without interactions involving the various couples and proto-couples in the party. The next morning, Rose is dismayed to get orders via parrot that she and the party are to pursue the fugitive Father Blaise, who has bolted town and has been reported in the coastal town of Getsemiel. The mention of this town strikes a painful chord with both Rose and Desiree, as Kenny Lucas, Rose's husband and earlier Desiree's lover, was killed in a military operation near there. However, they all dutifully saddle up and head west into the mountains between Umbertiel and Getsemiel, learning more about each other, the Veracian Church, theology, etc., on the way.

The trip is not without conflicts. Lillith, whose relationship with Desiree can reasonably be called "mixed," inadvertently mentions Santuariel in a conversation about the threats faced by half elves, and is so horrified by this slip of the tongue (she had gone to great lengths previously to avoid naming the place where she'd been born to anyone who might not already know about it) that she flees into the woods. She is eventually talked back to the group, but meanwhile, Eli and Tim have a conflict of their own that seems to start as a typical clash over a woman (Desiree, of course), but has more fundamental underpinnings. Blood is drawn as the two fight, but they are separated before lasting harm is done, and eventually reconcile, more or less. In the process there is a weird encounter with a three-armed monster that is played out in the parallel Background Noise thread, but the monster's main appearance will come in the thread following this one.

Back in camp, Rose has been learning things about Blaise, including the fact that he had been carrying a mystifying image of Maduin for unknown reasons, and is becoming increasingly worried about what the party will do (or what Blaise will do to the party) when they do catch up to him. This leads to a session of magical instruction in which the magically adept of the group learn a variation on a Barrier spell that includes a mental component, Rose believing that something like this may have saved her life during the weird encounter with Wilbur Hamael back in Snamish. This is interrupted by the arrival of a messenger from Umbertiel, a cheesemaker and militiaman named Fred Tarmage who is well known to Tim. Tarmage bears the news that a relative of the novice Ronnie, and also of the man "Shemmy" who died in the fire in town, has arrived in Umbertiel with vengeance on her mind -- vengeance directed, rather mistakenly, at Maduin, whom she holds responsible for Shemmy's death. The group adds this woman to the list of things they'll have to deal with, as they bed down for the night and the thread ends.


Getsemiel

First entry: 1 December 2011

The unnamed woman who has been stalking the party on the road continues to do so as everyone wakes up, despite an unfortunate encounter between her lizard-steed and the three-armed monster of the previous thread, called an "athach." The violated lizard runs off, but the vengeful woman continues to plot violence until she is distracted by an airship that has landed a distance from Getsemiel. Maduin and Bryce keep an eye on this airship while the bulk of the party continues on to town, which is the headquarters of an unusual sect of the Veracian Church known as the Calfornicans. This denomination's religious practices involve using what Rose, who has been to Getsemiel before, delicately terms "entheogens" -- a cynical observer might simply describe the practice as "getting high" -- as well as bathing in hot springs, back rubs, etc. A nun of the Calfornican Church called Sister Nymphaea ("everybody calls me Nimmie") greets the party pleasantly, and they settle into the hot springs, although Brad inadvertently overindulges in the "entheogens" and gets carried away with his affections for Lillith -- totally.

Nimmie introduces the party to Father Arnold, high priest of the Calfornican Church, who is also enjoying the hot springs (and, like most of the other bathers including the party, totally naked). Rose and Arnold confer (after putting their clothes back on) while Eli goes off exploring, learning that their quarry, Father Blaise, has passed through and headed for a cove south of town called Frobish Bay. This news doesn't sit well with Rose, as it was at this place that her husband Kenny was killed in a military accident as Rose watched. Rose describes this accident to Argus and a decidedly ambivalent Desiree, who had known part of this story but not all of it, and is grappling with her feelings about both Rose (whom she had hated in absentia for years) and Kenny. The group makes preparations to go to Frobish Bay to look for Blaise; meanwhile, Maduin and Bryce continue to look for, and then keep an eye on, the vengeful stalker, while Eli has an encounter with a mysterious figure who gives him a magical gadget of unknown but obviously great power, for reasons not yet clear.

More or less reunited, the party heads for Frobish Bay, taking various improvised precautions in anticipation of running into the inexplicably lethal Blaise and the ship that is believed to be coming to meet him. The ship is detected before Blaise himself, "running" across the water -- a technological culture would call it a "hydrofoil" -- at tremendous speed. Unfortunately, the signaling method that Brad and Tim, who first see the ship from atop a watchtower that Argus magically raised, use to communicate with the rest of the party, now approaching the bay in a wagon, spooks the wagon's horses. The resulting crash keeps the group from reaching the bay before Blaise boards the ship, other than Bryce and Lillith, who have forged ahead. A powerful magic word from Blaise stops these two in their tracks, however, and he speeds off on the hydrofoil as a dejected Rose watches.

Although Blaise has escaped their grasp, the party reaches Frobish Bay and sifts the site for clues to his behavior, in the process triggering a painful flashback for Rose, who remembers Kenny's death during a similar forensic investigation all too clearly. This is interrupted unexpectedly by the arrival of an airship, which proves to be under the command of Argus' daughter Fayna. The ensuing reunion is an enjoyable distraction, during which Fayna introduces her fiance Jerecht to Argus, and to her great surprise, meets her previously unknown half sister (Lillith). Much of the party makes preparations to board the airship and return to Getsemiel, but they learn that in their absence, the town has come under inexplicable aerial attack (from whom is not clear) and is in flames and ruins; Sister Nimmie is among the dead. Fayna and the party's airship take off in pursuit of the attackers, while Rose, Desiree, Tim and Eli minister to the survivors as the thread ends.

Port Lorrel: The Search for Jun Oshima

First entry: 15 January 2012

A short thread that serves to bridge the generally distinct long-running threads in Farrel and Veracia. Jamie takes on the job to hunt down a mysterious Tsuirakuan, despite the meddling of her mother, who still wants the girl home, married and pregnant, preferably in that order. (Tamina, of course, prefers to keep Jamie just as she is.) Meanwhile, Keyes arrives in Port Lorrel with his passenger, the menacing Father Blaise, and briefly reconnects with Jamie and Tamina. (Udo inserts himself into proceedings in his usual way.) The next morning, Keyes proceeds on his way with Blaise, although they do not get far before it blows an engine, forcing a return to Lorrel. The mysterious Tsuirakuan (Junichi Oshima) also makes a rendezvous, in the process flashing some strong magic that is more to impress the "barbarians" of Lorrel than anything actually useful. Tamina, Jamie and Udo search for him among a group of curious characters, but Oshima sees them first and avoids contact. Keyes and Blaise, however, do re-re-connect with Tamina and company, to Keyes' pleasure and very much to Blaise's displeasure. Blaise uses a "death word" on a passing priest who recognizes him, serving additionally to create a distraction so he can move on unchallenged. At this point the thread merges with other action in Farrel and is closed.

Getsemiel, Part 2

First entry: 8 February 2012

The healing in Getsemiel, and airship chase in the skies above, continue, with characters starting to learn more about each other, notably about Eli's weirdly amplified magic and the half-sister relationship between Fayna and Lillith. The following night sees all manner of couples bedding down with each other, some with uncertain "followup," some where the followup is not uncertain at all. The next morning, Rose gets a message from headquarters that she definitely doesn't want: she has been all but ordered to continue looking for Father Blaise, abroad if necessary (as it surely will be), under "plausible deniability" conditions that may leave the group exposed if something goes wrong. She offers Tim the choice of opting out of this mission, which he declines indignantly. Meanwhile, Eli has a spooky encounter related to his curiously amplified powers, and the airship chase shows signs of reaching a destination. Things go weirdly in all three sub-threads, however: With Tim's help, Rose survives what may have been an assassination attempt by a runaway carriage; Eli is starting to come under the power of a decidedly malign influence; and most oddly of all, a torrent of magic (related, we eventually learn, to the unexpected proximity of Lucas Ravanel with his chaotic effects on magic) interrupts the airship chase, returning Argus, Lillith, Fayna, etc., to Provatiel. This at first goes badly, as Argus falls into the baths at the temple and is not only severely injured but also experiences a worsening of his chronic shoulder-calcification disease. Maduin, Rose, Harker and Desiree all start to work on the stricken mage, each in their own way. This succeeds, and the threat from his shoulder begins to recede. Even better. it turns out that whatever happened on the airship involved a time-skip, first forward and then back to the same day, and during this, Brad and Lillith became engaged. Rose and the others are still digesting this happy news when a Veracian airship arrives.

There is crossover to the Farrel threads (specifically, "Port Lorrel: The search for Jun Oshima," q.v.) at this point, as most of the party boards the airship to look for Blaise while Brad and Lillith remain happily behind to start their new lives. As learned in that thread, the elusive, sinister Blaise has put in an appearance in Port Lorrel, which settles the flight path for the airship. On arrival there, they link up with the bumptious Udo and Tamina, a "kobold" from the Southern Continent and, as it turns out, observer of some of the events involving Blaise in Lorrel. Eli splits off from the rest of the group, Desiree accompanying him, and has a different encounter with an old colleague, a roustabout (and relative of his) named Telan, observed by ill-specified low-lives with kidnapping on their minds or worse. Argus also has an unexpected encounter, with a couple he knew in his previous life who turn out to have some information pertinent to the pursuit of Blaise. Following leads, he, Rose and others go to the town marketplace, there to have a chance(?) encounter with Keyes, who had been skippering the fast ship bearing Blaise not much earlier. Meanwhile, the encounter between Eli and Telan takes an unexpected twist when Desiree is kidnapped by thugs of uncertain affiliations. This is observed by Rose without her realizing that Desiree is the kidnapee, but Tamina and Eli soon set her straight and a pursuit begins. (Harker strikes a grisly blow for the good guys as events proceed.)

The kidnappers are traced to a sleazy warehouse, and Argus rapidly summons powerful earth magic that binds up the bad guys and releases Desiree. However, no questioning of the kidnappers is possible, because Eli reacts violently and slays the three of them on the spot. This triggers suspicions in several minds that that whatever has been happening to amp-up Eli's powers has a distinct dark side. Argus' friends Eishun and Waiju pick this inopportune moment to show up, with an odd artifact, but more importantly, with information on Blaise: he's bound for the notorious city-state of Goriel. The group makes preparations to follow him, in the process discovering that Eli's uncle Telan has met a messy end, with a warning note from the Eisenfaust; apparently Telan had been encroaching on their turf. Desiree, sickened by these developments, starts to leave the group and seek safety(?) elsewhere, but a chance encounter with Harker changes her mind and she rejoins the party. Keyes presents Rose with something that might be useful in tracking Blaise, and the party beds down for the night. (Meanwhile, Brad and Lillith, now newlyweds, have been involved in a honeymoon/time-skip/something and are about to re-enter the fray.)

The party doesn't quite bed down yet, however, because an opportunity for a (ahem) romantic evening out arises involving Rose, Argus, Tim and Desiree (and, in the background, Harker). Rose, having decided that Tim's strait-laced Orthodox demeanor could use some loosening up (and seeing an opportunity for a gentle ear-twisting of a priest not of her own Reformed sect), tries with Harker's help to set something up between Tim and Desiree, but this misfires and the two would-be lovers go their separate ways, Tim rather too drunk (and drugged) to know what almost happened, Desiree feeling sad and lonely. However, "Project Get Rose Laid," as Desiree (or player Drusia) thought of it, proceeds swimmingly, as she and Argus are so busy making seductive comments to each other over dinner that they barely notice that they're feeling exactly the same way and no seduction whatever is needed. Eventually they do notice and go off to a room for a fade-to-black ending to the thread.

Goriel

First entry: 20 April 2012; new player characters: Angrist, Therese

The Morning After The Night Before opens with interactions among various couples, whether recently together, recently separated, entirely non-romantic business partners, or otherwise. To most everyone's delight, Brad and Lillith, now married, arrive in Lorrel and re-enter the fray. Less auspiciously, Eli heads off to do some violent "business" in the port district with Tim, leaving a miserable Desiree in his wake, and Udo does similarly with Tamina. More violently still, Jamie is summoned to Eisenfaust headquarters by Elke, who gives her a simple (which is not to say easy...) new assignment: Kill Father Blaise, now on his way to the Northern Confederacy city-state of Goriel. (An uppity Eisenfaust underling meets a bloody end during this negotiation, to make a point.) The Bonny Read airship, now moved to this thread complex from the abortive "Airship Pirates" thread, is put at the Eisenfaust's disposal to get Jamie to Goriel, an experience none of those involved expect to enjoy.

Shortly thereafter, a ship with red sails arrives at the port -- "docks" would be inaccurate, as owing to gunfire from Jamie, the helmsman expires messily and the ship simply runs into the buildings on shore. A long, violent encounter ensues that involves most of the player characters, in conflict with forces aboard the ship (revealed to be slavers) and ashore. Eli summons a weird monster called a "Galdy," much to Tamina's displeasure, for backup, but good old gunplay carries the day in favor of the good guys. Udo is wounded during this exchange, but survives, as new player character Angrist appears to help with healing him. Several of the main characters then board a military airship, heading for the Northern Confederacy, as Jamie does similarly aboard the Bonny Read, accompanied (to the crew's surprise) by Udo, Tamina and Angrist.

Meanwhile, in far-distant Goriel, another rescue is being performed, as a tall, red-haired intruder (new PC Therese) helps a young, pregnant woman of the city escape the dog pack that her cruel husband has sent to kill her for her temerity in leaving him. This, combined with some discussions among Rose, Lillith, Desiree, etc., aboard the airship, starts to set the tone of Goriel as a violent, misogynistic place dominated by violent men heading violent clans. (These "discussions" include a painful exchange between Eli and Desiree, who almost met a bad end in the battle with the slaver ship.) Preparations are made for the adventurers to land in Goriel and function disguised as "Clan Cleiviein," with Argus as the chieftain, of course. (The Bonny Read's progress in parallel with the military airship's is temporarily sidetracked by a "combat" with another airship that that airship probably didn't even know had occurred, although Jamie greatly enjoys playing with the ship's cannon, and later, by a refueling stop in Rinkaiel.)

On arrival in Goriel, the group is met by a party including the Veracian ambassador-priest; assorted Gorielian clan figures; and, to Rose's puzzlement, Therese, disguised as a man (the part that puzzles Rose) and in town looking for more women to help leave the place. The ambassador, Father Boris[, briefs Argus and his entourage on the fierce, Byzantine politics of the major Gorielian clans, and introduces them to the curious Gorielian social phenomenon of the Getera (plural geteroi), kept women who are exchanged among the clans as a combination of tokens of esteem, hostages, probably spies, and so on. This last part perks up Desiree considerably, as she sees an opportunity to contribute usefully to the group (after feeling like a fifth wheel almost ever since joining it) by posing as a getera in Clan Cleiviein and getting sent to another clan in a good-will exchange that will also allow her to do some information gathering (not to mention make love). This plan meets general (if nervous) agreement, and Desiree is briefed for an exchange with Clan Duravsky, one of the most important Gorielian clans. The thread ends as Desiree gets to practice her getera skills by giving her lord (Argus) and his wife (Rose) a highly sensual massage that all three obviously enjoy greatly, to be picked up the next morning in a new thread.

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