Adventures on Tellene - Stirrot Isle

The Descent
In which our heroes rob a giant...

Having previously found the lift on both the 2nd, 3rd and 4th levels and traveled between them, the Thugs set out to ride it this time to the subsequent levels; 5th, 6th and 7th.

Taking a slight detour the headed for the Elven door on level 1. After 24 hours of having Red Hand try to decipher the magics of the door the crew gave up and made for the lift. The lift’s mechanism depends upon the level in which you enter it, and on level 2 it took again the form of a stone dais with concentric circles and a stone lever that can be pointed to the desired level. The levels and corresponding symbols are as follows:

Level 2: A crossed axe and sword
Level 3: A hammer and a whirlwind
Level 4: A wave
Level 5: A sun
Level 6: A mountain
Level 7: A bell

It does not take much knowledge of the ways of Risk to guess that our idiotically intrepid thugs went straight for level 7. Here the walls were lined with hundreds upon hundreds of skills. The only path was through a series of gates made of redish silver metal, burning hot to the touch. Each gate had a bell, which when rung but hitting it with an object caused the gate to open. When the spectral servant in use touched the bell without an object between them it dissipated immediately. The Thugs traversed 5 of these gates with their spectral servant to find a party that seemed to have been withered as if aged a thousand years, while their food seemed fresh as if less than a week old. This did not bode well. They stripped the corpses of valuables, finding among arms and armor high level spell components: broken glass rods, a pane of glass, sea shells and strips of fur. They departed with the loot hoping to get it appraised outside. After solving a lift mechanism involving raising and lowering bells they were sent to their desired floor. However, the gear found was entirely worthless as it crumpled to dust under light pressure, having seemingly been affected by the same force that withered the adventurers. The score keepers did not believe that they had been to level 7, though that did not bother the green ones much.

Next the party headed for level 5, which was found, as had been rumored, to be complete and impenetrable darkness, with walls equally jet black. They did not explore this. The lift mechanism here was a butler, whom they interrogated at length about the castle. He seemed to be prevented from divulging any useful secrets and favored simply answering most questions with the phrase “I serve the castle.” He did however say that the Lord of the 5th level is Lord Bright, ironic given the nature of the level. He also detailed the reset mechanism of the lift:

Reset Times
Level 2: 0.5 hours
Level 3: 1 hour
Level 4: 1.5 hours
Level 5: 2 hours
Level 6: 2.5 hours
Level 7: 3 hours

Next the adventurers headed to level 6, the mountains. Here they found the corridors to be so low as to require crawling. They crawled north to find a cavernous entrance into the castle, which extended at least 50 feet outside the castle walls before splitting into 4 paths. They decided to stay within the castle and found a ladder into a peculiar room with 4 pillars and an oddly furry roped floor. While exploring the room they were immediately beset by a monstrous hound. Red Hand cried for them to flee, but Cholo and Lug despite suffering grievous wounds seemed gripped by the rush of battle. Eventually Red Hand was knocked back down the ladder and decided enough was enough, with a combined strike Cholo struck the dog critically just as Red Hand’s magical powers tore into it. The beast was felled. The room seemed to be as a normal room but of giant proportions. The crew made quick work scouring it for valuable and were able to procure 6 enormous gems, but could not unlock the giant’s cupboard. Their flight back through the diminutive tunnels was blocked by a humongous insect which, despite already being near death, our heroes slew.

They returned to the lift and made for the surface with their prize, valuable loot and solid proof of having been to level 6.

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Cholo and Goliath
Cholo's third pit fight, this time against a Gorilla.

The beast reared its head and bristled at the lights and queer shadows beyond the thick iron gates. He curled its lips in distaste, moving closer into the shadows of his small enclosure as the screams and clamour intensified outside.

“Relax, have fun and just be yourself,” said Redhand, as he feebly rubbed the rippling creases in Cholo’s muscled back, “Be like the breeze, Cholo, like the breeze, or water, whichever one kills a gorilla, K?”

The mage was distracting. Cholo’s mind wandered to the white powder, maybe just a taste? Last time the taste turned to blood and bile in his mouth, had it not been for Lug, he’d probably be dead – just focus.

Beside him, men in robes tittered back and forth like mice, scribbling madly in their papyrus boards and calling to one another. Lug stood before him, looking through the gates at the crowd, a look of maddened anxiety or excitement smeared on his face, Cholo couldn’t tell.

A booming voice echoed in the ring outside and the crowd went mad. Through the bars, Cholo could see a small man, accompanied by two giant half-orcs sidling into the pit – a long staff at his side. He tapped the ground and a light bound from his staff to his feet and he began to float and ascend upwards.

Luggy twirled around, “Ok, game time,” said Lug, clasping both hands on Cholo’s wide shoulders. His fingers fiddling and he started muttering some incantation. The pupils in his eyes shot to the back of his head and his hair seemed to swim like seaweed around his face, Cholo felt stronger – if that was possible.

When Lug was done, he stood back. The next few moments he seemed lost for words, then, “I’ll be watching,” he winked.

The gates began to creek and grumble, hundreds of years of winding up and down, keeping monsters locked within the massive pit. A pit made for the enjoyment of the savage crowd above. On his side of the ring, Cholo looked in. The stench of blood and sweat swirled around him like gentle hands, beckoning him to enter.

Cholo stepped out and was met half way by the little man who had addressed the audience in a deep queer voice just a moment ago. He was a gnome, and now he spoke in a squeak.
“Good luck young man; may the Lord of Chance smile upon the odds today.” Again, Cholo felt strength and focus course through him.

The gates slammed shut, Cholo stood in a massive pit, walls around him high as a dam. He suddenly felt a gauge of nausea wash over him. His vision danced in shapes and blurs and a chill worked its way up his spine, then dropping like an anvil into the pit of his stomach.

The fighting ring was huge, 80 feet in diameter with 6 pillars standing like sentinel trees. In the middle the tallest column stood 60 feet into the air. Cholo could make out boxes placed on the top of each of these pillars.

A bell rung in the distance and the ground shook, Cholo only had time to see a flash of jet black fur dash past the 20 foot column at the other end. Adrenaline took him and he darted behind the first column, a thick 30 foot pole in the ground and began to climb.

Every step Cholo went up seemed to drain him, he felt sick, but it wasn’t of fear, something was wrong – Cholo had fought fiercer beasts before, but he had never felt this sickness.

Finally he reached the top where a box sat complacent. He ripped the lid off to reveal a small vial. Below, the Gorilla had reached the gate where Cholo had entered and began a wild rampage on the iron bars. Cholo saw an opening. Draining the vial he climbed back down the pillar, preparing to charge.

The Gorilla seemed to pay him no mind, Cholo aimed at the small of his back. Take out his spine he thought, slow him down. The charge was strong and fast, almost surgical, Cholo landed a bone shattering crunch from behind that would have killed a better man that even himself.

But Cholo was not fighting a man. The Gorilla turned on him. Up close, the Gorilla looked even larger. Froth exploded from its giant mouth, revealing sharp yellow teeth. Cholo realised his mistake too late, a sand-bag sized fist railed into Cholo’s stomach, sending him stumbling back, then another.

Cholo stepped back, looking for cover behind the pillar. The Gorilla pursued hungrily. Brunt force wasn’t going to work, he had to adjust and the sickness dulled his movements. He moved like an ant stuck in a thick porridge.

Circling around, Cholo made a scramble for another pillar, this time a 40 foot one, trying to make distance. For the time being, the Gorilla looked lost, searching for Cholo, trying to pick up the scent of blood and weakness that trailed heavily on him.

Cholo climbed, slow and desperate, the Gorilla caught sight and rumbled towards him. At the top, Cholo found another box. Ripping it open, he finally saw something useful.

A beautifully crafted broad sword stood hilt up in the box. Cholo didn’t have time to admire it as the Gorilla charged into the pillar, sending quaking shudders up to where he stood. He pulled the sword out and dropped it beside him, picking up the large wooden crate instead. The Gorilla was half way up now and Cholo aimed and waited.

As the Gorilla reached the final hand holds, Cholo hurled the wooden box down on its head. It did nothing. He bent to grab the sword, catching sight of how high he was. If he suffered another hit like he did at the bottom, he’d be flung to his death. Behind him, massive, callused hands pulled a great hairy beast onto the ledge.

Cholo sheathed the sword in his belt and began to climb down, but he was too slow and the Gorilla sank an anchored fist down on Cholo’s head. Cholo gripped the pillar for dear life as stars exploded from his vision. He edged a few feet down just away from the Gorilla’s reach.
The animal howled in frustration and stood on its legs, pounding its chest.

Cholo finally reached the bottom, his legs were jelly and he could hardly think anymore.
The tallest pillar towered over him. If 30 feet made him stronger, and 40 feet granted him a sword, at 60 feet, he was determined to find something that would really help. He bounded for the 60 foot column and began to climb once more.

He was almost half way up, slipping and sliding as his finger coordination began to dull like his senses, when he felt the column shake violently. He glanced down and saw the Gorilla’s fierce, violent eyes lock with his and the animal began to ascend, swinging effortlessly from hand-hold to hand-hold.

As abruptly as the sickness had taken over him, Cholo suddenly felt an intense energy beat through his blood stream. His eyes narrowed in focus and his body seemed to finally react to what he wanted. Muscle memory returned and Cholo began ascending faster.

Cholo’s hand touched the flat edge at the top, just as the Gorilla’s humongous palm slapped down on the opposite side. Both clambering to reach the top first. Finally they both stood face to face in the middle of the enormous fight ring atop the tallest pillar, surrounded by blood curdling shrieks for blood and murder. And the wooden box stood in between them.

The Gorilla flashed forward as Cholo ripped the sword from his belt. A giant black fist pummelled against Cholo’s shoulder, but Cholo reacted too quickly and the blow glanced off him, with a spin, the Half-Orc turned into the Gorilla’s centre, the sword swung upwards, gliding through flesh and hide, sending sparks of crimson into the air. The Gorilla flew backwards, never stumbling, simply falling, 60, 50, 40 feet, it’s eyes rolling in mad frenzy as the sword gash burst forth a spray of blood.

With an unceremonious thud, the Gorilla dropped 60 feet to the ground. He twitched twice, then died.

Cholo could only hear a faint buzzing noise as his head pounded viciously. His chest screeched in agony with every breath he took. Sheathing the sword, the barbarian opened the crate in front of him, revealing another vial. Taking the vial, in his mouth, he began to drink – a drink to the beast, a drink to an adversary.

He lurched forward, eyes wide in shock and confusion. The empty vial dropped to the ground and shattered. Cholo could feel his body heat up and burn, his insides vibrating wildly as he staggered toward the edge to climb down. But the climb seemed almost instantaneous as his feet touched the solid ground within mere seconds, the pillar that had been thick as an Iron Sentinel tree was now a mere pole that Cholo could easily wrap his arms around.

He looked around in surprise and realised that the ring had tightened too, the Gorilla lay by his feet, a rag doll in comparison. Cholo had grown to 20 feet tall.

It was too much, frenzy took his mind and the barbarian began to bezerk as an unquenchable anger filled his heart. He ripped the gorilla in half and threw the bloody rag into the audience.

“GIVE ME A REAL CHALLENGE” he screamed as his world began to darken and sleep muffled his mind.

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The Half-Orc Who Kicked the Spider's Web

Thugg was dead. Thugg had been murdered. Thugg lived thug life.

Red Hand, Cholo and Lucky were set on vengeance. Not in the methodical sense, that cold calculated vengeance which culminates in a brutally precise strike. This was brutish vengeance, that of a man insane with rage and unable to pause for breath or thought, thug vengeance demanding blood.

They headed for West Port, hoping to find the Half-Blood lair, knowing only that it was near a light house and a brothel. West Port however is bigger than one might guess, and there are many brothels. If you have heard rumors or rumblings of their reputation you might also wonder why they thought to scout at all, given their skill set.

The attempt at getting their bearings straight and a location on the half-bloods was interrupted by Lucky’s keen eye spotting a hooded figure following them along the rooftops. Lucky turned, and with a flick of the immortal powers Risk at his finger-tips he planted a single thought in the mind of the enemy perched upon the roof: ‘dive’. The would-be spy immediately began an immaculate swan dive and careened head first towards the ground below. He regained some semblance of mental control just in time to turn the dive into a graceful roll and avoid death. The hooded figure set off at a sprint and Lug and Cholo followed suit.

The three sprinted through streets and alleys, turning and turning, with the thugs slowly gaining on the mysterious assailant. Cholo managed to get close enough to take him down briefly, but the slippery assassin slunk out of his grip.

Eventually the hooded figure lead the chase into an alley where he bounded over a ten foot fence. Cholo approached the problem in his natural way and ran headlong into the fence making only the most meager attempt to actually jump. The fence was sturdier than Cholo’s hulking mass. Lug, close behind, leaped from one box to another and was able to clear the fence and maintain pursuit. Eventually Lug used his spear to trip the fleeing man and held him down just long enough that when the man attempted to wriggle away Cholo was already there to thunder his fist into the man’s jaw.

Lug and Cholo dragged the unconscious assassin into an alley to begin an interrogation.

The man awoke. Cholo punched him. He was bleeding profusely.
Cholo bit his ear off to get him to talk. The man was on death’s door.
The man squirmed to get away so Cholo stamped on his leg shattering the bones within. The man went limp and was no more. Par for the course when Cholo interrogates.

On the corpse, which was promptly stripped, they found a number of vials in a bandolier, several daggers, throwing knives, throwing axes and a note detailing the mission to track the thugs. On the man’s back was a giant spider tattoo, which they cut from his flesh and placed on his face instead.

spider-symbol_1.png.

Lug and Cholo discarded the desecrated body in the middle of the street, a small massage to anyone else watching. When they returned later at the urging of Red Hand they found the body missing, having been moved to an alley and set on fire in a ritualistic fashion.

Who are the Spider cult and how do they relate to the Half-Bloods? If we ever find out it won’t be through careful interrogation or well laid plans

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Diary Entries of Mikor Huntswell, Naturalist of Stirrot

ENTRY 1

I have started this journal afresh, for a most astounding thing has happened, truly requiring it’s own chronicle. I heard rumors that a Svimohzian beast, called a Gorillia, an ape of preposterous proportions, is being brought in by ship courtesy of Don Migueligni. They are said to be upwards of 500 pounds, capable of the strength of 10 men, and by repute of one source; to wield powerful monkey magics.

I begged audience with the Don himself and lay my desires as a naturalist upon his mercy. I begged and the majority of my savings for the opportunity to study the beast. He has agreed, and I have staked all I have on this venture. When I publish the first naturalist study of this great best ever produced I shall be world renowned. My name will be whispered with hushed reverence in libraries and places of learning from Brandobia to Reanaaria. Scholars will venture from far to ask questions of Mikor Huntswell. But for now I have questions of my own:

Can the beast learn languages?
Does it walk on two legs or four?
How does it react to heat or cold?
What is it’s diet?

Many questions… soon Mikor shall have answers, a year of studying this wonder of nature is but a week away.

ENTRY 2

It seems the arrival of the Gorillia is not without purpose. They are to pit the savage beast against some poor half-orc in single combat to entertain revelers at the halls of wonder. Who is savage indeed? The Don has personally promised me uncompromised access to the beast once this Cholo Swag fellow has learnt of it first hand. The brutality of seeing a half-orc ripped to shreds offers no appeal to me, but I must witness the beast in action. I caught a glimpse of it in it’s cage as they brought it in today. It is glorious, magnificent, and worthy of my chronicling. Soon Mikor shall become foremost among scholars of the natural world of Tellene, my peers have seen much, but no one will ever top this. My life’s ambition, and it has flared a passion deep in my soul, I know the Gods’ have set this task before me and I shall not let them down.

I look forward to noting his behaviors in fighting and defending his territory. Will he eat Cholo? Do gorilla’s eat the flesh of semi-humans? Had I any money left and were I less morally sound I would wager in the fight, free money is not to be scoffed at.

ENTRY 3

A MILLION SAVAGE CURSES ON CHOLO SWAG THAT FU———-
The diary devolves into angry scribbles and the page is stained with tears

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2nd Night Falls in Stirrot

Another cool and calm night on the streets of Stirrot falls. All is quiet.

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A crew of half-orcs, a dwarven mage and an elephant-headed cleric walk into a lift.. (Part 3)
A riveting conclusion...

The first time the Red Hand, the nameless half-orc and Lug had any idea that they were being played with was the moment that a gigantic jackal headed beast came form the corridor behind them and knocked Jermias out cold with a single blow. The beast was felled with some effort, and the Thugs were pissed. They hatched a plan to bum-rush the elephant and crocodile-headed beasts in a full frontal assault.

After a few minutes of planning they sprinted down the corridor in tight formation. Ninety feet of tense nerves awaiting battle, and a final burst around the corner to find: nothing. Their opponents had seemingly fled.

A door on the right contained suspended platform, some temple or shrine to an evil god, and an armored man pinned to the back wall in mid-air, wearing full plate mail yet run through with five swords. The thugs closed the door on this room for now.

The next room contained an elaborate mechanism that could be figured out to access two chests. This was forced open with brute strength and the bounty withdrawn. After some deft lock-picking interspersed with reckless opening of smaller caskets within Lug’s face was the worse for wear with acid burns and Red Hand had been severely poisoned.

The thugs were done for, they needed to escape with what they had gotten post haste. The last thing on their mind was combat, images of the surface and Chad counting up the valuables swam in their thoughts. However, when they opened the door to the room again they were faced with the monstrous animal-headed beasts, who had seemingly returned while the Thugs looted the room.

The fury of a Thug wounded and backed into a corner is not to be underestimated. Beasts were ripped limb from limb, by blade and magic alike. Red Hand bore his superior firepower against the green scales of our crocodile foe, felling him with ease. Cat creatures were torn from the rafters to face judgement under the two glaives of the nameless half-orc and Lulu. Then. in the final showdown with the Elephantine cleric the combined strength of Lug and Jeremias barely prevent the nameless half-orc from throwing himself into the abyss at the beck of evil magics. The thugs were on death’s door, but if such a door exists then they had at least kicked the evil cleric through it with harsh finality.

The temple room was ransacked and the crew made their flight, leaving behind the corpses of an elephant-headed priest, a crocodile-headed cleric, and about a half-dozen other beasts with visages of jackals, cats and eagles. Victory was hard fought and coughed up in blood, but the risks they had taken were repaid in glory and loot. The thug life was lived that day.

THE END

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An extract from Risk & Ethics, a treatise by Farnum the Elder
A ripped page from a finely transcribed book.

All proper believers know that chance pervades their lives. They flip a coin, roll the dice or draw lots in ill-conceived Svimohzian drinking games. Old Lucky has a hand in all of these, but not as the men think. For when rolling dice the outcome is already known, it is in the pitch and the toss, in the angle and bumps of the table, in all the little variables, the truth of the outcome is known. If you knew everything of the surrounding reality and the nature of the flight of dice you would know how the dice would land. There is no chance there. The chance is in all things greater and beyond the veil, where Risk himself resides. I have come to see thus of creation…

At the dawn of all things Risk was there, for that existence dawned at all was mere chance, a longshot at that. He cast then a die of infinite sides into the void. The rolling of this die is the very universe we inhabit. In the void we roll, where gravity, time, speed and all the things that might determine the flight of the die are ever shifting, and the die shifts them and they shift the die again in turn. The die feeds itself therefore its own chance, and is not externally governed, it is pure chance, the seed of all risk. When the great and infinite die eventually falls upon a side the universe will be ended, and the nature of its ending shall be given upon the upward side of the dice for Risk to read off and enact. The actions of mere mortals barely sway the great roiling void and the rolling of the die through it. Even the greatest of Risk’s children have only minor sway on how the die may land.

In this way each card drawn or coin tossed upon Tellene is already known to risk, but the outcome as it is known is itself a part of cosmic pure chance, as are we all, us sons and daughters of Risk.

From this core truth I hope to elucidate a system of values to guide all Risk’s children. What manner of men and women should they be? Should they be greedy or giving? How should they mea—-

Here the page is ripped and no more of the text can be deciphered

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A crew of half-orcs, a dwarven mage and an elphant-headed cleric walk into a lift.. (Part 2)
In which our heroes meet a crocodile..

No thug worth a pint of his own blood believes himself to be the baddest motherfucker in all the world , and getting your ass handed to you is merely a lesson to a wise thug. So we should not be surprised when the our protagonists reentered the castle the very next day. This time straight to level three, but in the opposite direction; away from the stone figures, away from the semi-functional elevator.

This was the direction of the animal headed foes, jackals, wolves and obnoxious cats who prowl upon the overhanging walk-ways. The thugs walked the long edge of what seemed to be the outermost wall of the castle until they came to a long corridor stretching back in towards the center of the castle. Down this path they come upon a familiar figure, so familiar mages often call them their familiars, a planar servant. This one in the form of a crocodile headed beast and cleaning some statues. Upon seemingly being spotted the thugs retreated to the head of the corridor to regroup and set-up a plan.

Soon thereafter a gigantic jackal-headed beast came charging down the corridor. Lug and the nameless half-orc with his grand glaive spotted it and propped their weapons to prepare to face the charge. The brute thrust himself unerringly on the uplifted weapons and was immediately rent in two equally lifeless pieces. If the beasts were so tactically unsound this would be a cake-walk, a phrase most the thugs believe means to be as easy as walking upon the cake of a child to ruin said child’s birthday.

There was here some scouting, some back and forth and a minor skirmish. To the best of the thugs knowledge they were contending with another jackal-headed beast and two of the pesky catkin. They waited for the brutes to come to them, meat fed into the phalanx grinder of spears, glaives, spells and one golden priceless mace.

This was not to be the case however, instead a crocodile headed beast showed its face next. It shuffled slowly into view seemingly seeking to communicate. Red Hand understood him to mean that by a simple spell they could speak to each other, but he did not know the intricacies of the spell. Through further hand gestures and crocodile yelps it was communicated that the spell would be taught to Red Hand, scribed into his spellbook if he would hand it over. Red Hand has of late become obsessive about acquiring new spells and agreed without hesitation. The transaction was done and the party waited for the beast to return.

Now dear reader, you may be thinking, ‘Well that’s a fucking obvious trap, why would a mage hand over his spellbook? These guys are crazy or they have an excellent plan set in motion."

Hint: They’re just crazy and they are in fact about to have a trap sprung upon them

END OF PART 2 – To be continued

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