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02 September 2014 @ 11:17 am
Flight of the Phoenix: Session Five  
Realizing that air spirits are not the most reliable or consistent servants, the crew delegated the grounding of the Ruinous Finders' ship to Petrichor, who manipulated the winds like a conductor with their orchestra. As the storm raged around their prey's ship and the crew sat and waited, Autumn Oak asked Aurora to leave the ship and check on the Ruinous Finders, and when the spirit returned it told him that more than half of the Ruinous Finders were asleep. The crew figured that was as good as they need, and they landed the ship, disguised themselves with false beards and scar makeup and ripped clothes--or, in Autumn Oak's case, stripping down to a loincloth and trusting in his chameleon fur--and set up code names. Petrichor is "Lightning," Autumn Oak is "Storm," Mara is "Dr. Ugly," and Bartleby is "Talkers."

The crew approached the grounded ship under the cover of rain, and when it was in sight, they noticed a lookout on the deck, peering out into the rain. Autumn Oak concentrated a moment and made the deck ripple, throwing the lookout off his feet, and then Petrichor leaped into the air, clearing the ship's railing with a mighty beat of his wings, and knocked the lookout out with a single blow as the rest of the crew scrabbled aboard. Knowing that he wouldn't be of much use in close-quarters combat, Bartleby stays on deck as the others find a door and descend into the hold.

Below decks, Autumn Oak looked into Twilight to get a hint of what sort of totem spirit the Ruinous Finders followed and was surprised when he saw a warrior clad in shining armor and bearing an enormous sword--a Chooser of the Slain. Before Autumn Oak could say anything or react, the spirit walked through a wall and vanished, and Autumn Oak led the group to where it had gone, where they found the captain's cabin. The door was locked, but Autumn Oak put a hand over the lock and bent the wooden door away from it until the lock cracked, and then they entered. The captain was slumped over his desk with a half-eaten biscuit in his hands, which Petrichor nearly grabbed and stuffed into his mouth before Mara stopped him.

On the desk was a metal lockbox. Autumn Oak couldn't affect it with his magic, but Petrichor pulled out his lockpicks and got to work...to no available. After a few minutes of tinkering with it, Petrichor just grabbed the box while Mara mixed up a simple remedy for a hangover and left it behind on the desk, then they made their way out of the ship. They weren't quite as quite on the way out as on the way in, though, and a Ruinous Finder stumbled out of a room as they traversed the corridor! Petrichor again felled him with a single punch, hitting him in the face and lowering him slowly to the floor. They reached the top deck without incident, interrupting Bartleby's practicing with his crossbow.

Bartleby pointed out that they weren't sure if the lockbox actually had the scroll, and Mara sneaked off back belowdecks to check the captain for a key, which they find and bring back up. The lockbox contained a scrollcase and a golden locket with a picture in it. Bartleby made to put the locket in his pocket, but under the withering stares of both Mara and Petrichor, he finally took out the picture and put it back in the lockbox while saying the words that define his character
"Love is priceless and therefore has no value to me."
Autumn Oak took the lockbox and snuck back into the captain's cabin to return it. While there, he searched the captain's pockets for money, but finding only a few loose coins--and seeing the rejected application to the Explorer's Guild on the wall--he elected to leave them there and made his way back to the crew, who clambered back over the side and returned to Aurora.

On Aurora, they opened the case to find...half a scroll, written in Classical Patrian, which none of the crew can read. Autumn Oak turned his gaze to Twilight and saw the Chooser of the Slain standing there near the scroll. Autumn Oak asked it why it was here, and it replied that it was here for him. That it could smell blood and it knew Autumn Oak was a warrior. Autumn Oak replied that it was a long time ago, but the spirit claimed that he would always be a warrior and could never forget. At that, Autumn Oak laughed and mocked the spirit, since its very nature meant it only knew battle and could never understand the joy of a child's laughter or the scent of flowers after the rain, and then closed his eyes and reopened them to the physical world.

The crew was a little spooked by Autumn Oak talking to thin air again, but they quickly returned to busy. Bartleby is worried that they only have half the scroll, but Autumn Oak pointed out that they weren't told anything about a scroll being cut in half and that they've done exactly as asked. Petrichor also mentioned that they hadn't be identified and there was no way to trace the theft back to anyone, and Bartleby eventually agreed, so they let the storm dissipate and took off.

The ride back to Cevedes was extremely bumpy, with random temperate fluctuations thoughout the ship. Autumn Oak spent a lot of time in the engine room trying to keep Aurora calm, since it was very worried about the scroll on the ship. Bartleby kept checking on the scroll and trying to use his extensive linguistic knowledge to decode Classical Patrian from first principles, until one day he vanished into his office with the scroll, there was silence, and two hours later he marched down to the engine room and started complaining to Aurora about the temperate but received only singed pants for his efforts. With no other reply, and smelling the delicious scent of cooked oatmeal, he made his way to the galley.

As the crew ate together, Bartleby mused about opening a restaurant, reasoning that they wouldn't have to risk their lives and they could make use of Petrichor's contacts. After that brief interlude, Bartleby brought up the choice of Maximilian and Dario again, but Autumn Oak pointed out that they had already gone over the arguments for each of them and decided that giving the scroll to Dario was less risky, and the rest of the crew agreed. Autumn Oak sent off a raven with a message to Luquasz to meet them at the docks, and the crew settled in for the rest of the voyage.

When they arrived in Cevedes, Petrichor took the gold necklace and went off to buy ingredients, returning just as Luquasz arrived and they settle down to discuss payment. Bartleby pointed out that they returned the scroll days ahead of schedule with no deaths or anything that could be traced back to either the crew or their employer and tried to angle for more money, and Luquasz accepted the argument and handed over a premium. Then he told the crew about another job with an even bigger payout if they were willing to take it.

A Noble stole two artifacts, a cup and a spearhead, from someone and secreted them in his castle on an island named Ahnaméd near Sheol on the lower reach. The Noble is almost certainly dead, but his castle is a trap-filled maze and has remained sealed since the Dawn War. Furthermore, Ahnaméd is near the blockaded section of Sheol, sealed off ten years ago due to a plague of nightcrackers. Mara asked if there was any plague reported near the castle, and Luquasz said there was not. Autumn Oak asked how old his info was--five years--and Petrichor asked if there was a good noodle restaurant in the Capital. Before he received an answer, Bartleby said the crew wanted to discuss, and they adjourned.

Bartleby wanted to hire specialists in finding traps. Petrichor said he's trained in disarming traps, but agreed that they might need more people. Autumn Oak suggested finding people who had explorded Merkavah and survived, and Mara mentioned that she knows an archeology professor who specialized in high-risk digs and might be able to find some contacts.

The group returned to Luquasz and Bartleby asked for more money, managing to secure it after only a bit of haggling. After that, they broke to prepare for the mission. Autumn Oak wrote an old comrade who served under him in the Dawn War, asking him if he knew of anyone from the forest clans who'd be good in an extremely dangerous situation. Mara writes the professor and secures a meeting, going to a bar where archeology students hang out. She quickly found some students who were getting roaring drunk on Hippian fermented mare's milk and talked to a fourth-year guya archeology student named Máli who bragged about surviving a Merkavan expedition, managing to sign her on to explore a Noble castle after discreting taking an alchemical preparation against alcohol and drinking most of the other students under the table. Having proven she can match the students, Mara set up a meeting time between Máli and Bartleby.

Meanwhile, Bartleby contacted the Yeoman Bastards, an old smuggling group he knows, and asked them for helping running the blockade. He headed off to a meeting and saw his contact running a con on some slumming rich people and quickly dove in, providing the obviously awful deal so that his contact's deal would seem better. After the proper amount of money had been fleeced from the marks, Bartleby met with Pekos and described the job in Sheol to him. Pekos said that there was a ship he knew could be bribed near Ahnaméd, but Bartleby asked how the Sheaim navy would recognize Aurora and let them in. Pekos thought a moment, then countered that he could disguise Aurora as a Sheaim ship, which Bartleby agreed to. They shook hands and Bartleby went off to arrange for materials.

Petrichor spent the time studying noodle cooking.

The crew met back up on the Aurora. Mara went to the Bartleby's office and, after warning him that the archeology students are good but they're at least half bark, asked him for money for medical supplies, making an impassioned argument about the dangers they would be facing and all the horrible ways to die. Much to her surprise, Bartleby gave in and disbursed some money to her for supplies. As she left the room, Autumn Oak was waiting in the hallway, and he handed her a larger sack of money from his own salary and told her to put it to good use.

Autumn Oak managed to negotiate a cut rate on replacing the front panels and the rudder, and then Máli came aboard, as well as an alfar who introduced himself to Autumn Oak as Twisted Cedar.

Thus assembled, the crew and their hired henchmen set off explore an abandoned stronghold of the Nobility.

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As before, names were mostly left to me. "Ahnaméd" comes from it being an Unnamed Island, Máli is a fantasy spelling of softlykarou's original "Molly," and Pekos comes from invoking Wild Pecos Bill as the archetypal Yeoman Bastard. When you have a mostly improvisational GM style like I do, you get good at coming up with names. You need to be fast or your players will name NPCs for you, and then you're stuck with it.

Still no idea who Dario is or who we're really working for, but we get to explore a Noble's castle! Bartleby's player referenced Autumn Oak's past until we remembered that Autumn Oak hadn't told anyone about his role in the war, which is when I pointed out that his Vice is "Deceitful" and that actually Autumn Oak keeps stuff from the crew all the time. Not just about his past, but in nearly any dealings with spirits Autumn Oak plays up the mystery and only gives the others an edited description of their actual conversation. Maybe he's going by the logic that the best way to stay employed is when your boss knows your job is absolutely vital but isn't sure what you actually do. 😝

Next session is the "season finale," since this is a limited-run summer game. softlykarou has said she'll leave it open so we can pick it up in the future if we want. Assuming we don't all die, since we're exploring a Noble's castle. Or if we don't retire, with Mara going into practice, Bartleby and Petrichor opening up a noodle restaurant, and Autumn Oak hiring a new crew for Aurora and heading down to the lower reach to fight off Noble pirates harassing the water trade. Though even then, there's room to get the band back together...

Stay tuned for the exciting (I hope) finale of Flight of the Phoenix!
 
 
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