Forged Destiny

Heads to crack

Torin meanders through the burgeoning town. A scar still pink from a bullywug weapon showing clearly on his forehead. Months of recovery have brought him and his small group to full health. He’s getting itchy for something to do. The quiet nags at him now, once preferred, now detested.

“Who’s up fer some head smashin’ of our own?!” He yells at no one in particular as village people move busily past.

“Well, if no one’s up fer it I’ll bring some fun here instead.” Determined he heads to the tavern. Ale was just starting to flow in something other than trickles from the brewery. He could drink to his hearts content tonight. Maybe a little self created chaos will be fun…

Bullywug Camp
Maplebuzz and Spinleaf, energetic sprites

Maplebuzz and Spinleaf watched as the trio of explorers approached the bullywug’s camp.
The two sprites had chattered incessantly during the trip, excited as they were to have some help defending their forests from the amphibious incursion.
“Do you think they’ll manage to do it Mayps?” Spinleaf asked, adjusting his tiny acorn helmet. He was girded for war. Outfitted in tiny bark armor, hardened nut helm, longsword and bow. Always ready for action, was valiant Spinleaf.
“I don’t know, Spinner my friend,” replied Maplebuzz, “They’re so much bigger than us it’s hard to tell.”
“But even so, that gnome and that halfling is still much smaller than the frog-folk. They might just gobble them up! But that halfling lass, she proved she is at least as hardy as Rumtungle, they way they drank each other to oblivion like that!”
Maplebuzz pointed at the alseid priestess, silently stalking forward through the forests underbrush.
“And the grove nymph there, she proved she’s fleeter a’ foot than spry Porto, trouncing him in their hoofrace.”
The sprite pointed at the third explorer, “And lastly, the gnome wizard. He showed he was as smart as the Wine Baron, solving that one’s riddles every time!”
“I’d guess these friendly folk are as good a group as any that we’ll find to help us out.”
Satisfied, Spinleaf flew up after Maplebuzz as they found a good treebranch to watch the confrontation play out.

“Oh no Mayps! That didn’t work out as planned at all! I’ve got to get down there and help them!” Spinleaf practically shook with fury looking down at the brave heroes crumpling under the bullywug’s onslaught.
“Careful Spinner, I don’t think there is much we can do right now. Those gross centipedes have paralyzed the Lady Sariel and Torin. They won’t be able to move one step for at least an hour or so, even if you did manage to distract the frog folk they won’t make it far. And the brave Fen, refusing to leave her friends behind… that bullywug is tying her up, even though she looks so lifeless. She must still be alive. I figure they probably want to question them first before they kill them.”
“If they do that,” mused Spinleaf, “they’ll learn that the satyrs sent them. The bullywugs will try to retaliate, but there is no way they’ll outwit the satyrs on their home turf. Still we’re probably going to get caught in the crossfire if we’re not careful.”
“I wonder if this wasn’t part of the Wine Baron’s plan,” wondered Maplebuzz, “The bullywugs here are now weakened, so they’ll likely leave back to where ever they came from with some hostages. Which means Cabra’uomo gets what he wants- the bullywugs gone, for a bit at least. And with those explorers captured, he won’t have to pay up on the rights to wood harvesting like he’d promised. That crafty Wine Baron wins no matter what!”
“It hardly seems fair,” grumbled Spinleaf, “these folk did everything what was asked of them. And didn’t really ask for much in return. Nothing they couldn’t just take anyway. Plus, that was a really fun party!”
“Agreed! We should do something about it.” The sprite Maplebuzz stood up and straightened his forest green tunic. “I’m guessing they came from Mad Xeto’s tower. I’ll see if I can send word there to any friends or guards they might have there. It’s a long flight, but these folk don’t have long. I’ll fly as fast as I can!”
“And I’ll sneak in as close as I can, and see if there is anything I can do to help!” Spinleaf readied his bow.
The two sprites, filled with grim determination, set their respective plans in motion.


New Adventurers Needed
Or, How I learned to love paralytic venom

Welp, we had a party wipe last night. Mostly due to the group taking on more than it could chew. Well, ok, the giant centipedes did most of the chewing, but the paralytic venom was fun.

Unless a group of hale and hardy adventurers can get to us fast I think we’re goners…

Thinking back the jokes about eating bullywug legs for dinner was a bit much and may come back to ‘bite’ us.

Fen, the inebriated, Sariel the dauntless and Torin, the ’can’t hit the broad side of a barn’ will be missed. Because once the Bullywug’s adventurer stew is gone, it’s gone for good! So pickup a bowl today!


Lonely Watchtower
Glurglebarknekou, glopfpornent

“Lglnrop kdkenop h skenoz kdo enkkenqmf cisn kmo, glorpe.” It whispered to itself with a thousand incessant mouths.
“Snhip nuubrmel omwa simmperneak.” It answered, “bmpe limpe whekalos.”
“Bomov wimpenet.”

The doors to the chamber opened and four figures spang into action!

It opened or closed a thousand eyes, gnashing and crying, laughing and singing, it borbled away in countless voices.

“Sninp dklsi. Bomsion dkwo wowowo mdoap app app smio och chchchakwk bormo!”
“Bormo bormo bormo!”
Smotko, slsko slene dl, slkeo sopawnz zampa silop sopidown nwkemo chrimo chicimislsaw slaw mboi bimoboke morboaz xiso dimolei! Zampa camoskixo! Gemlselse!"

Suddenly, silence… Blessed silence and oozing on the floor.

Ratchet home, Nova Fortunae
Widow Ratchet, misguided crone

Widow Ratchet hummed to herself as she puttered around her home, idly kicking bits of half gnawed bones across the wooden floor.

“Soon Captain Whiskers! Soon you’ll be a father and we’ll welcome all your little younglings into the world!” Mea-ha-ha-har, she cackled. Captain Whiskers was such a strong rat, so fat and healthy. A good four feet long , not including his tail of course! So big and strong, just like her son Rupert, the woodsman. Rupert would be so excited to see how her pets had grown! She just knew it! She was sure he’d be by any day now to visit his old mother.

Captain Whiskers chittered as he snuffled around the edges of the room, searching for any bones that still might have a few strands of meat attached. He was so smart!

Widow Ratchet stepped on small piles of rat droppings and felt bones crunch under her feet as she shambled towards the back room to check on her other pets, Princess Flumpkin and Lady Starshine. Both should have their litters any day now, and Widow Ratchet wondered if she should make arrangements for a local midwife to help deliver them.

I’m sure Rupert would manage to just pay the midwife with a cord or so of wood. It would be no trouble at all for him, she mused to herself.

Both Flumpkin and Starshine had been tending to stay in the back room of late, sniffing and gnawing at the wood on the back side of her house. She thought maybe she should have a separate door put in for her ladyship, so she could regally come and go as she pleased- royalty got to do whatever they wanted of course!

“Mea-ha-ha-ha-ha” she cackled again to herself.

Oh it was going to be a sight to see! When all the little ones were born, she’d help raise them up, and train them. Soon everyone in this dreary town would know of her brilliance! There would be little rat-drawn wagons to help the farmers in the fields. Little rats with saddles for the halflings to ride. We could teach them to help herd the sheep and goats. Really there is NOTHING her children wouldn’t be able to do! Why, we could even teach them to read and write, and cook and clean for all the townsfolk! It would be stupendous! She would become famous and then the Empress herself would come and bow before her.

There was a sudden knock at the door!

Startled, brave Captain Whiskers darted to the back room, to guard his brides of course.

“Ah hello Rupert! You’ve finally come to visit!” Widow Ratchet opened the door.

But it wasn’t her son Rupert, it was a huge brute of an ogre, making a weird face like he’d just gotten a whiff of some terrible smell. She had no idea what he smelled. Ogres must have very sensitive noses. Behind the ogre stood some elven noblewoman from the feywild come to pay respects to their rattish majesties.

“Excuse me ma’am,” grumbled Sir Knight in a deep baritone, “may we come in?” So polite!
“Of course my dears,” she replied, “I’ll just put on the kettle and make us some tea.”

But NO.
It was NOT a noble ogre knight and his elven princess! No no no! Vile bad bad!
They came into her own home they did! No No No! Them and their friends what did it.

An evil man eating giant it was and its pet demon hell bitch with horns from hell that only hell spawned hell bitches can have! And a dirty filthy bastard goblin gnome with its slashing steel murder knives! Oh no no no! Even a dragon in the form of a man with its pointy stabby spear. Stabbing and stabbing…. oh no no no.

“Murderers!” She cried, “You murderers! You’ve killed all my children!” Widow Ratchet sobbed as she sat on the floor. They even dragged the children’s bodies away to put them in their plague fires. Or maybe to eat on their hell tables where they’d laugh at her.

“Murders,” she sobbed “I’ll make them pay!”

Light Forest, past the river Osh, NE of Hyde farmstead
Globlurg, Bullywug Archer

The scouting was going well. It was realtively easy work, sitting back on Manylegs’ chitinous shell while Floglorp guided their centipede steed through the forest’s undergrowth.

They’d scouted near the pink-skin’s strangely shaped huts and across their growing mud. Their defenses seemed weak, and Chieftan Rrrobtob would be able to easily demand tribute from them. Surely Floglorp and Globlurg would do well to get a little tribute for themselves before they reported back to the camp.

“Hey, Floglorp!” the archer croaked, “Lets grab a couple pink-skins for warm tummys and showing of trophy time.”

“Quiet tadpole!” barked Floglorp over his shoulder, “Its the lancer’s job to guide the scouting party, and I say we should grab some pink-skins for the eatings and trophy time! You just do the shoot bow and writing mud!”

Globlurg smirked at Floglorp’s back. He was such a great lancer; aggressive, strong, and easily manipulated.

Floglorp continued to guide Manylegs through the forest, while Globlurg napped. He was supposed to be keeping watch, but why? No elf or forest ogre would dare confront them! They were bullywug! They were mighty! Floglorp reigned in sharply and Globlurg lurched fully alert.

“Look! Pink yummy!” The lancer guided their massive centipede over and down a ridge of broken rock down into a ravine. Globlurg, at the back of their steed was still ten feet away from the edge of the ravine and had no idea yet what his companion had spied. But readied his bow in anticipation.

With a war whoop, the lancer moved to engage a small group of travellers. Globlurg briefly wondered if it might have been easier to threaten them for tribute instead, but no matter. They were bullywug! They were mighty! He looked at their victims with growing excitement.

Yes! A couple of small young ones with a parent! Some metal clank walker was there to guard them, but they could easily take down the parent before it could react. They’d easily rip this group to pieces.

Manylegs snapped at an unarmoured traveller and Floglorp poked at it with his spear but it nimbly jumped out of the way. It seemed unafraid, spinning a stick of wood in response. Gloglurg shot his bow at the boy-thing, hitting it in the shoulder next to its hairy beard face. Beard face? Oh it was a gnome! Tasty! Suddenly a mound of earth appeared before the gnome, blocking it from view and giving it cover from further attacks.

The girl child was wearing metal armor and that was strange. She was not a child but a halfling! Oh soooooo tasty! But it seemed like she and the bigger one with the stick were keeping Manylegs and Floglorp busy with a flurry of attacks. The crafty archer had second thoughts, and looked longingly at the ridge behind him.

Mighty Floglorp was rising to the challenge! He pierced the man through its chest and into the ground, leaving it clearly near death. They would win! They were mighty! Globlurg had third thoughts and shot arrows at his enemies!

But the tide of battle turned once more. The halfling yanked hard on her whip, wrapped around Floglorp’s neck; yanking him from his saddle and tumbling to the ground. He landed hard, with his head tilted at an improbable angle. The metal clank-thing had joined the battle and was kneeling next to the man on the ground with glowing metal hands. A metal clank shaman? What was that thing?

A chilling ghostly hand lashed at him from the spirit world! Ach! Ghosts too?!? That gnome was cackling with glee and probably making obscene gestures at him. Or maybe doing more gnome magics. Globlurg had fourth thoughts about this fight. And fifth and sixth ones too. All thoughts were the same! Get away away away!

Globlurg jumped up onto the ridge behind him, leaving the now dead centipede behind as well.
“Bad idea Floglorp! Bad idea! No hunt pink skin, should just headed back to camp like I said!”

Globlurg felt a sharp lash as the halfling’s whip tangled around his fat neck.

“Florgrmph” he cried as it suddenly….

Hyde Farmstead
Janie Hyde - Farmer

“I’m RUINED!!!” her husband wailed. "I"m ruined and now we’ll staaaaaarve!" Vernon continued to wail in a panicked voice. He stood no less then ten feet away from the creature, hands on the sides of his head. One of her farmhands, Roger, stood nearby with a small bale of hay, half holding it in front like some sort of a shield and half ready to throw it at the creature in a weak attempt to drive it off.

All around her was chaos. Janie had scarcely noticed the hippogriff as it swooped down from the sky. It made short work of the poor sheep they’d just corralled for shearing. Peggy was screaming, and that mangy mutt of hers barked madly as the beast tore the sheep’s carcass, swallowing huge gobbets of red dripping meat.

Time seemed to slow for her as the entire scene burned into her mind with crystal clarity.

Olaf and Norbet, the layabouts, promptly stopped working, sitting down to eat their lunch, like the destruction of her herd was some travelling minstrel’s show.

Lukas Hogsman, the swine herd, stood shakily by his pigs with a hoe in his hands, unsure how he could defend them against such a creature.

Her sheep, trapped in the pen with the hippogriff cried with terror as they fruitlessly pushed between each other looking for escape.

Her children, young Timmy and Mary Lou were running down the street to see what the commotion was about.

All at once thoughts pieced themselves together in her mind, coalescing from a useless jumble.
If Peggy’s mongrel moved in and nipped at the creature….
If Roger tossed that bale of hay at it and angered it…
If Vernon took two more steps closer and threatened it…
Her children, running so fast! So fast! No no no no, its just a sheep no no no no!

And just as suddenly they were there.
The strangers from the ship. The new guildsmen, come to set things right.
Swift as a striking cougar, the half elf had lept into the pen with the hippogriff and cracked its skull with his staff. The halfling darted between the fence posts to smack it with her flail. The gnomish wizard spoke but a word and a ghostly hand tore at the beast. She even saw what she thought must have been the wizard’s golem, call down a radiant bolt of lighting into the creature.

And it was dead.

Janie was so relieved and confused, she wasn’t sure if she should cry for joy, or sob from the release of the sudden terror.

The guildsmen simply smiled and nodded, like nothing unusual had happened, instilling an instant sense of calm about them. They searched the rest of the fields, but not before the halfling swiped Norbet’s ale from his dumbfounded grip, drank it down, and handed him back his empty cup, offering nothing in return but a wink and a broad smile.
“Fightin’ must build up a powerful thirst.” said Olaf, holding his cup guardedly with both hands.
“Ayup.” said Norbet.

In the distance, Janie heard the golem speak to the others, calling them over to look at the strange tracks in the fields that had appeared overnight.

“Mommy look! Its dead!” said Timmy as he began to poke the hippogriff with a stick.
“Can I haff the feathers? They soft!” said Mary Lou, plucking a two foot long feather from the beast’s neck.

“Hush children, now is not the time. There is work to be done.” Janie eyed the hippogriff’s body. She figured if horsemeat could be eaten, why not hippogriff?
“Roger! Get to butcherin’ that thing and the rest of that sheep right away!”
“Vernon! Stop standing there gaping about and get to shearing! You too Olaf!”
Norbet get those crates over here!"
“Peggy! Get the loom set up, I figure we need to make some wool cloaks and blankets for our new protectors. We might not have any gold to thank them. But we’re good folk, and we’ll give what we can. We’ll do right by these new guildsmen, aye?”

“Aye ma’am” they answered, “Right away missus!” And they scrambled away to help.

“Baaaaa!” called the terrified sheep. “Baaaaaaaa!”

“Stop standing there Lukas! Have you gone simple?! Get to helpin!”

Captains log, day 26, voyage to Nova Fortunae
Captain Jarrett Springfield

Captain Springfield rested his arms against the railing and looked forward across the deck. He considered the four members of the Company that had come aboard for the long voyage. They seemed capable enough, each in their own way, but also seemed a motley bunch.
There was Nif, a half-elven aesthetic, that performed odd stretching exercises and frequently meditated at the bow of the ship with a strange silent calm.
And Torin, one of the wee gnomish folk, far from the forests they usually called home. He’d entertained the crew and passangers with many stories and tricks of magic. But more than anything Jarrett had learned to not play cards or dice with the wily gnome or he’d find he’d lost his gold, his ship, and even his smallclothes in some rigged game of chance. He did purchase a couple of holy symbols from Torin however. One never could be too careful with the gods.
Which brought him to the third member of that group. If it wasn’t a mechanika! Jarrett knew that the Empress (blessed be her rule) had decreed that those things were just a new type of people like everyone else, but he had a hard time adjusting to the idea at first. It had even named itself! Healbo it was called. But even more strange, it was an honest to goodness priest of Gond. The captain smiled at the thought, and had to admit, there wasn’t a lick of scury, a fractured arm, or even a stubbed toe that wasn’t cured by the mechanical man’s divine aid.
Then there was Fen. A small lithe halfling, stronger than she looked, Fen just…. got along with everyone. It didn’t matter who it was, everyone liked Fen. With a quick joke or a wink, she’d appear out of nowhere, usually with a drink in hand. She’d been too humble to make much of it, but one of the passengers told him what she’d done up north in the town of Troubaloose. She’d protected the town from a rampaging giant that had come down from the mountains. The tiny thing, all by herself!
It wouldn’t be much longer now. They’d sighted land yesterday and should be at the end of their trip within a couple of days.

“Ahoy the captain! Movement in the water off the starboard bow!” Nif’s voice floated down from the crows nest. That monk had eyesight sharper than an eagle’s.

The captain raised his spyglass to his eye and took a look. Sure enough, there was movement in the water, approaching fast. He recognized what he saw coming, and it wasn’t good.
“Mister Merryweather!” he called. “Sound general quarters and get all of the colonists below decks. It seems the Sahuagin want to test their spears against our steel.”

His first mate scrambled to comply, rushing below decks. As the barbaric fishlike humanoids swam up in an attempt to board his ship, Captain Springfield thought again of the four heroes aboard his ship. It was time to find out just how capable they were.

Captains log, day 1, voyage to Nova Fortunae
Captain Jarrett Springfield

Jarrett Springfield surveyed the docks while the longshoremen loaded his ship, the Dawn Chaser. The burly dock workers were efficient, loading boxes and crates of supplies, barrels of food, and personal effects of the passengers booking passage aboard his ship. It was a long trip, over a month each way, and the various food and sundries had to support his crew and the score of passengers he was transporting to the new colony. The Merchant Adventurer Company had hired him for transport, and he’d make sure he made good on the contract. Besides, this trip included four members of the Company heading to assist the colony directly. The Company’s coin was good, and Captain Springfield’s word was his bond. Once he’d started something, he’d see it though to the end. He didn’t earn the nickname ‘Relentless’ for nothing.

Shipping to the new colony wasn’t something many captains would dare try. It was a long trip across the trackless seas, and if you didn’t navigate properly, you’d be lost for certain. But he’d made two voyages previously to that poor forsaken place, proving himself a reliable captain. Unfortunately each trip had been more depressing than the last. That colony was hanging on by a thread, and none of these poor souls realized it. They thought they were heading to a land of milk and honey.

“Nothing there but mud and shit.” he said to no one in particular, though a couple of dockworkers did give him a worried look.

He spat twice over his left shoulder, to ward off evil spirits, and drew forth the offering bag from his belt pouch. The small sack smelled of spice and was carefully packed with ‘mystic’ tokens that the dockside priest said would please the gods beneath the waves. He slipped it into the water, murmuring a quick prayer for a safe voyage. Then, Taking a deep breath, stepped off the docks and started another voyage across the Vast Ocean.

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