Zor, the 26th day of Rhaan
Not all dogs go to heaven
Today started off as the previous two we spent here in this wretched place. However, my luck was about to turn. This day, Dadak, Pol, Kreshton and I are walking the streets, when a pack of rabid dogs comes charging through town. They kill, maim and infect the insolent populace with impunity. Being the quickest of the group, my initial plan is to get out of their way and let the dogs tear the hypocritical fools to pieces. To that end, I scurry up a nearby buildings’ façade and enjoy watching the carnage. Alas, my good time is spoiled when Kreshton and Pol decide to save some the worthless peasantry. Kreshton, steps forward a few feet, throwing his cape so that it might catch a light breeze. It comes to no effect, but he seems confident that all eyes are on him. Of course, nobody is paying him any mind. A terrified villager, fleeing for his life, comes barreling towards him, crashing into him, rebounding and falling to the ground. Hardly getting the impression that Kreshton is saving him, the villager curses Kreshton under his breath, stands back up and continues his desperate escape. Meanwhile, Pol passes by the posing Kreshton and immediately gets tangled up with one of the mongrels. Dadak also advances into the fracas. Now, I’m forced to act to protect my comrades. I scurry along rooftops and fences to close for battle. Pol yells at me to attack a dog further downrange to prevent them being swamped by reinforcements. So, I immediately open fire with an Eldritch blast, killing one of the distant dogs. Kreshton finally realizes that the action has once again passed him by and no one has been impressed by his fashionable, though flaccid cape. He enters the fray between Pol and Dadak so that he cannot be flanked. A wise move, but hardly an altruistic choice. Ultimately, Dadak pays the price. A rabid canine sinks his teeth into our casters exposed flank. He fights back, but is unable to get a good swing in. Pol dispatches the dog nearest to him and I once again kill a beast in the distance. Now outnumbered, these dogs days are numbered. Kreshton moves to flank the dog threatening both himself and Pol. With Pol distracting the rabid mutt, Kreshton is able to dispatch it. With only one dog left – and three men to kill it – I scan the field for other threats. In the distance, towards the warehouse that stockpiles our supplies, I see a plume of smoke. The significance of the smoke doesn’t seem coincidental to the dog attack in my mind. I leave my perch and run at full speed towards the warehouse. As I run past Pol, he calls out to me. I tell him that I’m going to check something out and scamper around the corner. I don’t see the death of the last dog, though I’m sure it’s nothing noteworthy.
I charge through the city streets at high-speed. As I close on the smoke plume, I realize its source is approximate to the warehouse storing our expeditions’ supplies. I slow slightly as the crowd of onlookers retard my advance over the last 100 feet. When I push through the crowd, I find a pair of men, shouting and setting fire to a supply cart. This is indeed the Free Captains warehouse and I see no one prepared to stop these ne’er-do-wells. With no backup, and our entire storehouse threatened, I roar loudly and command the arsonists to halt. At their own peril, they opt not to obey me. I inform them that I am a Black Panther and demand their obedience or death. They choose the latter. The arsonist nearest me lobs a flask of alchemist’s fire at my head. I duck and it sails past me, exploding in flames behind me. Outnumbered, I stand resolutely and wish Kreshton was here to take note of true style in battle. Incensed that I should be attacked by these lowly henchmen, I decide to make an example of my would-be attacker. I unleash the thunderous Mortalbane Eldritch blast and nearly incinerate my target. The crashing clap of thunder, and subsequent instant death of my opponent, shocks and terrifies the rabble. The second arsonist, also over-awed, meekly tosses his flask of alchemist’s fire at the warehouse door and flees. I pursue him along the shoreline and finally take him down with another Mortalbane blast. I carry his body with me back to the warehouse.
When I arrive back at the warehouse, I find my comrades and a brigade of peasants working to squelch the fire that had sprung up at the hands of the now deceased arsonist. A portion of our supplies had clearly been engulfed in the fire and the balance was blackened with soot and ash. I conferred with Pol and told him about my encounter with the now dead arsonists. Searching the bodies, I discover a pair of masterwork clubs and a composite shortbow.
As I finish searching the bodies, the teamster in charge of the warehouse comes forward to speak with me. He tells me that the arsonists were from the Brotherhood of Freedmen and they have subdued and stolen Aerys. The two I encountered were left behind to burn the place down. Fearing that time has run against us, I mobilize Pol, Kreshton and Dadak to help me rescue Aerys. Tom tells us that the Brotherhood has seized the local whaling shipyard. This makes sense to me since the arsonists I chased down was heading in that direction. We head there immediately.
the Brotherhood of Freedmen
Historically, the Black Panthers and the Freedmen have generally steered clear of each other. Though we have a common enemy, neither group subscribed to the theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Now it’s time to mix it up with them.
Racing toward the whaling house, we come onto a crowd of yet more rabble. They are listening intently as a man named Umagro, perched atop the whaling building, shouts demands. He’s holding the limp body of Aerys at knifepoint, and as always, I’m prepared to act immediately. I know of this Umagro, he’s an unstable hot-head and a leader of the Freedmen movement. I doubt he can be reasoned with, so it will be sword and spell for him and his crew.
In the crowd of gawking onlookers, Chydak is spotted. We speak quickly and he agrees to assist us. I’m grateful for the help at first, but he scurries off and hides behind a barrel, significantly lessening my enthusiasm.
I ask Pol and Kreshton to distract as neccessary while I attempt to climb the building unseen. When they hear my signal, they are to then scale the building with a grappling hook and provide support. Pol agrees with my plan and echoes its virtues to Kreshton. I ask Dadak if he has any useful support spells today. He replies that he has none except Snake’s Swiftness.
Feeling that we have an understanding, I ascend the wall and position myself just below the roof’s ledge. When the moment is right, I poke my upper body above the ledge and fire a Mortalbane Eldritch blast at Umagro. The bolt of pure energy strikes true and he is severely injured. I expect now that Dadak will cast his aforementioned Snake’s Swiftness on me so I can fire again, but alas the plan has apparently changed. Instead, Dadak conjures a hippogriff to assault Umagro. It’s a fair play and I’m not terribly upset about it, mostly just confused. It’s one thing to change the plan, it’s quite another to change it when your fellow is literally out on a ledge.
Plan A.2, version 8, revision 3
And so it continues, as from here things continue to go awry. The grappling hook that was supposed to be tossed up never arrives. I look down and see Pol shrugging his shoulders at me. Neither Kreshton nor Chydak is anywhere to be found. Undaunted by the hippogriff, Umagro slits the exposed throat of our dear Aerys and tosses her aside. Her blood-spurting body begins to slowly roll down the slightly sloped roof. If she goes over the edge, the fall will surely kill her assuming she isn’t dead already. It is now quite evident that I’m the only remaining adherent to the plan and it’ll come down to me alone to save Aerys. I move along the wall face and position myself to catch her rolling body just before it plummets over the edge. I grip the wall with my feet, the ledge with my left hand, and outstretch my right hand to grab Aerys. Being an arcanist, I can’t honestly say that I am terribly strong, but I brace myself nonetheless and hope for the best. I harbour no illusions that I will be able to halt her advance. It seems likely we’ll both fall to our doom.
As I cling desperately to the wall, I hear Pol call up to me. He’s gathering peasants to help rig a safety net below us. It’s a good move, but time is running out. Mixed in to that conversation, I hear Chydak’s voice beside me. He says that he is prepared to heal Aerys as soon as I catch her. Almost immediately after, Dadak flies up along side me and stands ready to assist me. Perhaps I’m not so alone in this after all.
For all the marbles
In the split-second before Aerys rolls into me, I close my eyes and ask the ancestors to strengthen me. I feel her body make contact with my paw, so I close my fingers and grip tightly. I wait for the sensation of free fall, but thankfully, it never arrives. I open my eyes to find that I had done it! I had grabbed hold of Aerys and prevented her fall. I had held firm to the side of the building.
Not yet time to celebrate… her body is wet with blood. I instinctively yelled out for a medic. The invisible Chydak responds. Though I can’t see him, I do see the contents of a potion being administered to Aerys, her wounds closing in response. She’ll be okay so long as I can safely get her down. I ask the still flying Dadak to assist me. Together, we gently guide her down to street level. When we arrive, Pol suggests that we use the safety net as a sling and haul her to safety. I agree and so the two of us begin to carry her away. I ask Dadak to take point and clear a path through the crowd. He argues against me and suggests that we expend all of our remaining healing to revive Aerys and then storm the Brotherhood’s stronghold. I counter that we have lost the initiative, lost our cohesiveness (though we never truly had it to start with) and that we had lost Kreshton and Chydak. He reluctantly agrees and we march away. I turn and yell out that we are leaving. Wherever Kreshton and Chydak have scurried off to, I’m sure they are within earshot.
Kreshton returns to us shortly after I call out. Pol asks where he had gone and Kreshton curtly replied that he had abandoned the plan and the party to pursue his own ventures. Hardly a good reason, it is at least a believable explanation given the source. Happy to have Aerys back, I opt not to get involved in this squabble. However, I get a growing feeling that Kreshton is making a concerted effort to be the new Gelik. If only he knew how such people in my company end up.
As we slowly march along the docks, Chydak rejoins us. He informs us that he saw Umagro and his henchmen flee by boat. I tell the group that we will likely encounter his group again, and so we should make preparations of our own.
We return to the warehouse and I lay Aerys down to recover. Tom informs us that he has sent a message to Capt. Kassata alerting her to the need for more supplies.