Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 44 play-by-post
This report covers a week of downtime preceding session 44
|Thief level 3
|A young, short and malnourished rogue.
|Elf level 1
|A tall, pale, and lean scholar of languages with silver hair and a somewhat distant attitude.
|Thief level 4
|Swarthy, good looking, dark-skinned thief. Sweet opium-like aroma is his fragrance of choice.
|Kuqhir of the Wastes
|Magic-User level 2
|A thin, tall, dark skinned man with a magnificent beard that tickles his bellybutton. Dresses in silk robes and tightly folded turban embroidered with names of all known angels.
|Elf level 2
|Peppermint scented elf followed by jingles, on a quest for the perfect gift.
|Magic-User level 1
|An older gentleman sporting fashionable dark blue robe with purplish overtones. Seeking arcane objects and offensive spell.
|Cleric level 2
|Crooked, broken nose; big bags under eyes; long hair, bald spot hidden under old pilgrim's hat; and emaciated figure. Mosquitoes and the smell of dampness always accompanies him.
|Fighter level 3
|A generic Nordic guy.
A week of downtime!
Here is how people say the esteemed Hydra Company members spent it.
Having gotten drunk the night before, the young thief woke up to a most shocking discovery! His mythril shortsword was gone!
First he went back to the tavern where he got wasted alongside his Skandik friend. From there he followed whatever lead he could find; greasing the informants with some gold coins.
A mythril shortsword with Firebeard's stamp was apparently auctioned at the Walled Bazaar on Thistleburn 2nd.
Although it is unknown how the sword got there, apparently some Colwyn the Drunkard has been bragging about making quick coin just the day before. He is most often seen at the Seven Vultures.
The auction was an invite only event, mostly with men of fine standing. If reports are to be believed, it was a rather fiery auction, with many bids, harsh words, and several fistfights.
The purchaser's name is Quidsard Caltrap, the oldest brother of Bowie and Krom Molder. He immediately tested the blade against three fools who dared assault him the moment he left the Waled Bazaar.
Taking few select mercenaries, Rad went looking for Colwyn. Indeed, true to his name, the man was at Seven Vultures, red and drunk.
“Look at that boy! Now he has a private army! And to think he gambled his last coin just a few months ago here!” the bartender quipped as Rad sent his mercenaries after Colwyn.
Nobody even tried to get in their way.
“What did I ever do to you?! What do you want from me?! I paid my dues! I swear I did!” The drunk cried.
Dramatically walking up to the men held by the mercenaries, Rad stops just a few inches away from the drunk's face. He stares the man down with folded arms and expressionless face for ten seconds straight.
“I believe you and me have some business to attend to. We can make this quick or agonisingly long.”
The man looked absolutely terrified.
“I'm going to hope that's a yes. Let's take this outside so people can enjoy there drinks in peace.”
Colwyn remained speechless. His bowels gave in, and the drunk soiled himself as mercenaries dragged him out.
Rad tried his best not to retch. He continued “I've heard you have come across some wealth recently my friend. I would love to hear the tale of how you acquired such funds.”
The drunk confessed he stumbled upon a young drunk boy who had dropped a nice looking sword. He took it to a fence in the sewers, to a representative of the Underlight Guild, whom paid him 120 gold coins, and that was it.
At Rad's signal the mercenaries frisked the man for any valuables he might have. Sans the soiled ones.
After a minute or, Rad counted 36 gold coins, 22 silver coins, and 74 copper coins. “Is that all you have? I hope for your sake it's not.”
And so Rad traded mithril for shit.
The elf spent two days resting and recovering, to heal his bruised body and ego after the crypt delve. Pipluk, the prisoner-turned-retainer, had little interest in sharing more about his past with Neremyn.
He also had nothing of value to share about the crypt. “We just arrived there moments before you burst in and beat us senseless. What more do I have to share? Stop being so nosy!”
Turning his attention to Paxton, the cleric whom they saved from the crypt prison, proved to be much more fruitful endeavour.
Although Paxton didn't know much about the layout, he was able to share more about the sound of rustling leaves and the undead the party had faced.
“When I was much younger I met a druid who taught me about a special creature of nature that looks like a mound of leaves. This creature sucks in the air around it and produces a sound similar to one of rustling leaves.”
“Although barely audible, the sound has a far reach, sometimes up to several miles. That sound is especially soothing to the restless dead, putting them in a sort of stasis.”
“Since they aren't actually dead, you probably disturbed those three in the chamber with runic inscriptions when one of you stepped on them. That might explain their uncommon ferocity.”
Neremyn took notes.
Disturbing nightmares have been keeping Gomm awake ever since he had an encounter in the Solemn Glade. Desperate for sleep, he resorted to look for a dream oracle, or anyone really, who can interpret his dreams.
Failing to find anyone relevant at the Walled Bazaar, Gomm accepted the services from a filthy crone in a dark alleyway.
“Put your trust in the woman!” cost him 27 copper pieces.
Contemplating her words, Gomm went on another mission. Rhovar asked if he could learn more about Lord Warcrown, the man who wronged them at Kelman's Rumble.
Frequenting various places yielded very little intel. Anyone Gomm spoke to refused to say much about Lord Warcrown. One person, even shadier than the crone, offered to share more for a “small price of 100 gold coins.”
Gomm handed over the purse.
The man took it with his grubby hands, and counted them very slowly. Once he finished, he leaned in and opened his mouth. His offensive breath reached Gomm before his words:
“He is a dangerous man. The one you shouldn't be asking questions about.”
The man grabbed Gomm's hand a stabbed him with a dagger. Then he turned around and fled. Gomm pursued the man, but was unfortunately slower.
Looking to outsmart the man, Gomm scaled the nearby two story dwelling, intent on cutting him off by running over the rooftops.
He could see the man making his way through the crowd. Alas he was already quite far. Soon he disappeared from Gomm's sight.
Unwilling to give up yet, Gomm rappelled down to the street, and scaled the building across. Then he ran towards the assumed direction of the man. Alas, he didn't see any familiar figures.
A fat woman with a cudgel peeked out of the rooftop trapdoor, cursing Gomm in unfamiliar language. The thief threw a sack over her head and legged it across the roofs.
Gomm returned home safely and with enough time to lick his wounds.
The wizard set out to accomplish two things: find a learned man who can identify dweomers, and find a truly learned man who can mentor him.
There are no libraries in Antil.
There are no wizard towers in Antil.
This is really fucking middle of nowhere in filthy barbarian lands.
It is a miracle this damn place even has walls.
On the other hand, he managed to track down Dagmar, and old sage—at least twice, if not more, Kuqhir's age.
Dagmar doesn't claim to be a wizard, but does say he can decipher arcane devices and scriptures.
“For simple dweomers I ask for a minor contribution of 200 gold coins per item and a cask of good wine. I will accept quality hashish as well. One needs to be relaxed when dealing with sensitive matters.”
“Now, when it comes to more complex dweomers, I ask for 200 gold coins per day of study and a lovely courtesan to ease my aged body and stressed mind. No slovenly trulls, please.”
“It's hard work.”
Kuqhir paid the asked price for identifying three scrolls. They were as follows: Scroll of Detect Magic, Scroll of Sleep, and Scroll of Levitate.
The merry elf decided he wants to make Hydra Company HQ an even merrier place! Hence he went on a recruiting spree, looking for dwarves and elves.
“I'll do it by singing a festive winter theme jolly at the dingiest most cut throat bar I can find disregarding my own safety.”
“I'll warm those hearts!”
He warmed zero hearts and got covered in spit, urine, spoiled ale, and few other, even more rotten liquids
Once that hadn't worked, BuddyPuddingBottom set up a little shop in front of the base selling wooden horses carved during his adventures and hooked shaped peppermint confections.
Eight orphans residing at the Hydra Company HQ all joined BuddyPuddingBottom in making toys. Most of them actually just played with the toys elf had made.
Passerbys indeed felt a bit merrier seeing the elf playing with the kids. Some even commended him on how obedient his slaves are!
BuddyPuddingBottom sang jingles obliviously.
The magic-user decided to look for rumors around town, trying to frequent places where other magic-users would be, paying special attention to any places of magical knowledge mentioned. He was especially careful not to get beat up by the wizard mafia.
Spending a week in Antil specifically looking for magic-users, one thing became obvious—there aren't that many.
Borlace Kember, The Master Alchemist, is the name he heard mentioned more than once. Apparently he is the most powerful wizard in the region. His tower is just south-west of Antil, overlooking the Romilion Sea.
“Real cranky that one. Better approach with caution!”
Flamthwynn didn't get beat up by anyone.
The cleric used his downtime week to go to a library and look for information on divine bargains or pacts and how they work. Specifically, he was seeking how to break free from them.
Alas, there are no public libraries in Antil. Known places of knowledge are temples in the Pilgrim's Quarters. Lawful temples Kallahan knew of in Antil include:
- Shanga-Ta, The Windgod Temple being the largest in the whole region and home to the High Priest Panthal.
- Shang-Ta, a number of smaller temples in the city.
- Temple of Aladantle, the Goddess of Beauty, where Kallahan was thrown out of for being too ugly.
- Temple to the the twin God and Goddess of Law, Thyr the Lawgiver and Muir the Lady of Paladins.
The cleric decided to got for one of the smaller Shang-Ta temples, seeking a friendly face.
“If they ask why I left, I will say that I was on a spiritual journey in the wilderness to find myself and learn to know the Windgod. Then I will politely ask them about the library at the Great Temple, and if I would be allowed to visit it, to pursue my religious education.”
Indeed, he came to a smaller temple where he recognised the officiating cleric. Six acolytes were tending to the temple, with two doing pushups and one doing pullups.
“Might makes right, my brothers! Might I bother you for a minute of your time?”
Ingham, the cleric, looked at Kallahan with face of surprise.
“How dare you show your face here, heretic!”
Turning to the acolytes, he yelled:
“Men, this is one of the Blumer's heretical associates! Prove your worth! Might makes right!”
“Peace, peace my brothers! I do not know of this Blumer you speak of? Stay your hand, let us discuss this!”
“Don't listen to his treacherous tongue!”
“Might makes right!”
Kallahan throughout the beating simply tried—in vain—to protect himself with arms raised above his head. The first hit has him go “OW!” and tip toe around for a second, holding his bruised scalp. The second hit sends him sprawling on the floor like a ragdoll, without making a sound part from the thud of his body on the pavement, and the furling of his robes.
“And to think we once called him Brother! Tie him up! We will present him to the...” was the last Kallahn heard before fading to black.
A brilliant idea came to Rhovar after a night of drinking.
“I should joust to gain prestige.”
Naturally, he went looking for opportunities.
Windgod acolytes and priests are organising following matches: bare-knuckle fighting, wrestling, and mixed. Anyone is allowed to participate. The bouts are fought naked.
The most prestigious arena is the one within the Windgod Temple where every Spiritday (5th day of the week) the winners from the previous four days are invited to participate in the Mightiest Fist, Mightiest Suplex, and Mightiest Might.
Current champion in all three disciplines is Brutus “The Bumblebee” Beefcake. Although the fights are to the knockout or submission, many have died facing the Bumblebee.
“Mixed martial arts. That's my jam.”
Master tactician he is, Rhovar decided not to bathe for a full day so he gets that competitive stink advantage.
On Thistleburn 2nd he faced two men.
First match was against Jalk the Merry.
The two naked men faced off in the dusty square. Rhovar's mane was tussled by the light breeze. Jalk, the portly friar laughed heartily, his rosy cheeks squashed with a smile.
“I have twice your bulk lad, best to give up now before I crush you.” The fatling slapped his gut like a drum.
The man was indeed much larger in weight, but Rhovar felt he was far more lithe, and cunning. At the ring of the bell the portly friar dashed forward looking to catch the barbarian in a bear hug. Rhovar, bouncing on his feet, evaded the grapple and circled the man, looking to capture his opponent's leg. He shot forth with both hands, coiling around the friar's knee and waist.
Sand was kicked, and the two men grunted as their bulk swung around the sand. Foot by foot, Rhovar gained ground until, through gritted teeth, Jalk tumbled to the earth. But not before casting down a brutal elbow to the barbarian's face.
Crash. The two men hit the sand, scrambling like beetles in the flow of stream. Strikes dashed out, sand spat like flutes of flame, but Rhovar soon Pinned the man and mounted his mighty gut. Blows soon rained down.
A bloodied hand slapped the barbarians chest and a cry came out, “I yield.”
Rhovar stood and wiped the bloodied sand from his chest and face. He helped the friar up.
“You were harder to fell than a tree my friend.”
The battered friar chuckled, “And I have given you a wound to remember me.” Indeed he had, as Rhovar's front tooth had been snapped from his mouth.
Second match was against Briar Webbe.
The small wiry peasant named Briar Webbe approached from the far wall where he had been leaning.
“I'll face you next Skandik.”
“You, but you narey a man. But a waif.”
The small peasant frowned at that, and pointed to the cleric carrying the bell. The instrument was stuck and the match began. Like lighting the tiny brown skinned man kicked at the barbarian and bopper and weaved. Rhovar was caught off guard for a moment, a few of the blows hitting him in his chest. The skandik parried an incoming kick, and with the twist of his hip, knocked out the peasant with a single straight right. The match was over.
Rhovar won both the matches of the day. Some of the spectators bought him drinks and shared some coin they won betting—a total of 44 silver pieces.
On Thistleburn 3rd he faced four men.
The sun was hardly up, long scrawling shadows scratched across the courtyard. Rhovar had returned to the fighting square, this time with several of his soldiers who wanted to come and watch him work.
He charged once around the sand pit on his charger Umber Fury. Only a single cleric was around, he swept the courtyard and squinted at the barbarian. “Thought you'd be back.” He said.
The Skandik warrior dismounted, took a gulp of wine and disrobed. As his heavy helm hit the floor four red skinned barbarians walked into the arena. They wore animal skins and scraps of salvaged leather armour, carried spears and shields of rattan. One of them wore a leopard skin, and had a shaved head that glistened in the sun.
“A fat merchant said we could earn some coin fighting here. Well. We're ready.”
The old cleric dusted off his robe, put on his feather headdress, took up his bell and read out at the short list of rules. No eye gouging, no hits to the groin or the back of the head, all else was permitted.
The Altanians disrobed and leered at Rhovar, spitting into the sand, and making vulgar gestures. The Skandik stood in silent contemplation, it was the first time he had seen barbarians from the southern jungles, though he had heard about them plenty.
“Watch out boss, they say they are sneaky.”
A small crowd had gathered, they took up pews eating grilled lizard and drinking plumb wine, the Altanians decided amongst themselves which would fight first. One with a dead eye took up the challenge first. He came to meet Rhovar in the centre of the sand pit.
“Rhovar is my name. Good stead.”
“Jann.” The barbarian squawked. Rhovar didn't know if it was his name or a threat. The men took up their stances, five paces distant, then, as the morning prayers echoed out from the great totem, the bell was rung.
“Might makes right! Kill him!” Cried a drunken patron, his white linen thawb stained red from wine.
The two men slammed into each other, fast blows from battle hardened fists. The barbarian got a few good slugs through Rhovar's defence, but the Skandik caught his arm and wrenched it down to the floor. The Altanian scrambled across the sand, trying to break free of the grapple, but the Nordman's knee came down on his shoulder, forcing his face into the sand.
“Yield, yield or I break it.” Rhovar cried above the barbarians scream. It was over. The other three barbarians stared at the towering blonde man, eyes full of venom.
The bell rang thrice more. The next warrior was Glik, and he was a fine boxer, fighting toe to toe with the Skandik for over three minutes, but he eventually ran out of energy, his guard dropped and the Hydra Company officer knocked him out with a flurry of blows.
The next in the pit was Bid, he had a long braided mohawk, twined with bone trophies, but this became his undoing as Rhovar circled him like a puma grabbed a hold of it, swinging him to the ground by his hair and kicking him in the face for a KO.
Their leader was last, he called himself Irnkard. The leopard skin wrapped around, him he had felled with his own hands, or so he boasted before the match. The crowd were cheering, and several betting pools had been set up. The Hydra Company soldiers were several pints of grot deep and roaring like lions. Rhovar's chest rose and fell, laboured, and sweat glistened on his back and head. The summer sun was beating down like a volley of fire arrows. The pale moon Vannis hung like a ghost in the sky.
“Grimir, give me strength.” The northman said.
“No gods, only flesh.” The Altanian quipped whilst beating his chest. The bell rang for the final time. Rhovar made to tackle his foe about the waist, but the lithe Altanian kicked sand into his eyes.
“Cheat! Cheat!” Roared the Hydra men, but no rule had been broken.
Irnkard took the initiative, jumped and launched a knee into the Skandik's face, bowling him over like a pheasant shot in the hunt. He followed this with a flurry of kicks into the Northman's trunk. Coins tumbled into fists as last minute bets were made on the sideline.
But as another rough kick was aimed at Rhovar's head, the barbarian rolled back and swept his opponent off of his feet with his own leg. The two men lunged and rolled in the sand like hyenas. Irnkard managed to take Rhovar's back, and just as he managed to wrap his arm around his throat the vicious Northman bit into it and chewed off a chunk of flesh. As the two men scrambled to their feet, the blonde warrior spat blood into his foe's face, making the red-skinned warrior flinch back, all the opening the Skandik needed, as he rushed in and head butted the Altanian into slumber.
The match was over. The Hydra men grabbed Rhovar and lifted him on their shoulders, he dripped blood, and sweat, and sand, and waved merrily to the jubilant crowd.
Rhovar was the champion of that day as well.
On Thistleburn 4th he faced his most challenging opposition, yet.
Lucky to have a friend with divine healing magic, Rhovar turned up the next day at the battle site full of vigour. Riding his horse naked and bareback, ready for his battle. He tossed his previous winnings to the urchins and vagabonds that loitered around the battle pit. A small crowd had already gathered, and as Umber Fury galloped into the sand strewn square, a silence fell across the area.
“They say that this laddie bites like a jackal, and thrashes around like a beast. Well, we'll see how he fares against the stalwart bulk of Sarforlig Gravelbrew, son of Shamus Gravelbrew, twelfth Laird under the mountain.” The heavy accented voice echoed out.
Rhovar squinted against the sun and scanned the crowd. It parted, and a naked, silver bearded dwarf stomped into view. His body was mired with battle wounds and lesions. His arms were knotted with muscles and his eyes were like deep pits of coal.
“I'ma crush you laddie. I'm gunna make you cry.”
The crowd went absolutely wild.
“Sarforlig Gravelbrew, oh Shang Ta, we are going to get a show today.” Rampant gamblers rushed to make bids.
“You can try.” Rhovar said as he leapt from his steed. “But you will fail.”
The audience became deathly silent. The clerics pushed the crowd back and marked out the ring. The two warriors took their positions. Rhovar tried to steady himself, this dwarf was clearly a veteran warrior, and the crowd knew him, which meant he must be a previous champion. He was going to need to use speed, and keep away from those giant hands.
The bell rang.
“Die!” Gravelbrew spat as he ran forward with unexpected speed. Rhovar stumbled back to keep distance, the dwarf gnashed his teeth and swiped like an ape with his huge arms, but Rhovar was able to keep distance. If one of those hands connects, I'm done for, he thought.
“Get back here and fight, Skandik dog.” Gravelbeard roared.
Rhovar kicked out and hit the dwarf square in the mouth, but he didn't even flinch. The dwarf closed the distance, grabbed Rhovar by the neck and waist and threw him nearly five foot across the sand. Rhovar quickly leapt onto his feet and narrowly avoided being pinned by the massive demihuman.
“You cur!” Gravelbeard shouted. Rhovar again kicked him in the teeth and thin bloody drool flew out of his mouth. Rhovar fell back, throwing out strikes, and connecting once or twice, but the return blows were horrendously powerful. Then, his back met the crowd and several of the peasants slapped and whipped his hide.
Gravelbeard laughed, “Laddie, laddie, nowhere for you to hide now.” And he grabbed the Skandik again and suplexed him like a rag doll. Rhovar sprawled out on the ground, utterly winded, the massive hand of the dwarf grabbed his neck and pulled him up. Gravelbeard laughed bitterly. Just as he was about to speak Rhovar thrust out a jab directly into the dwarfs throat.
The dwarf wheezed, and choked, and doubled over, unable to breath. Rhovar, tumbled onto of him, and began to pummel his face until the massive man fell unconscious.
Rhovar roared and dried the blood from his face with the hot sand of the arena.
His next match was fast, a small dervish named Fath Al-Bazzaz stepped forward, and was dispatched with a leg kick that took away the desert man's ability to walk.
Next was Thalysios the Purist, renowned burglar, archer, and wayfarer. He was also known as a master wrestler, and the finest javelin thrower in Altanis.
“May our match be quick and painless.” Said Thalysios, as he strutted into the arena. His harem of women powdering his neck with perfume and popping sweet grapes into his mouth.
“I promise not to ruin your man.” Rhovar said to the harem, who giggled and fanned themselves from the wretched heat.
The two men faced off, and the bell was rung, and they circled each other like hungry cats.
“I have been watching your matches, with training you might make a good wrestler.” Thalysios jested.
“I'll show you skill.” Said Rhovar, and he attempted to catch the smaller mans neck. But like an eel, he was able to slip his hooks around the Skandik's defence and push him back. But the bigger man threw an elbow into the thief, and disturbed his technique. Back and forth the two men wrestled. One gaining an advantage, and then the other reversing it. For five minutes they struggled, pushing and sliding each other across the sand. Eventually, growing tired, they took to throwing cheap hooks into each others ribs, and the trying to trip each others feet. But neither could be turned or thrown.
Eventually, after ten minutes of constant battle, the two exhausted warriors gripped each others arms, not in a lock or hold, but in a handshake.
“I cannot best you.”
“Nor I you.”
“Then let us both agree on a draw, and forever call each other brothers.”
“Aye, brothers!” And the crowd roared but were disappointed in such an end to a herd racing match.
After Rhovar had finished laughing with the olive skinned master thief, a smaller man tapped him on his shoulder and offered a match.
“Aye, I shall crush you quickly, I need a drink.” Said Rhovar. It was indeed a quick match, and Momo Khoury suffered a terrible broken eye socket from a nasty uppercut from the Skandik.
On his third consecutive day of winning and entertaining the crowd, Rhovar earned 77 gold coins in gifts from various patrons.
He also received three marriage proposals.
“You can be polygamous in Barbarian Altanis, right?” Rhovar pondered.
“Of course you can!” Thalysios answered.
“What dowries do you offer?”
First man offered two pigs. The second offered three bales of hay. And third offered a fine dagger and a donkey. Neither of them were joined by their promised daughters at the moment
Rhovar accepted all three offers.
“The pigs will be roasted at the wedding feast. I will spend all the competition earnings on the ceremony, wine and musicians!”
Little did it matter of these women were ugly, for Rhovar desired a harem of his own.
The men got into shouting match regarding whom will get married first. The situation rapidly devolved into an incompetent fist fight as each demanded that Rhovar marries their daughter first.
“I won't marry anyone if you don't calm down right now!” naked Rhovar commanded.
“Being your daughters before me at the Hydra Company headquarters. There you will lay your case. Then I shall pick whom I marry first!”
“Oh yes, I'll bring Tuliana by next Spiritday!”
“Forget them, I'll introduce you to lovely Yasmine in three days!”
“Listen to these clowns! Janice and I will be at your place by tomorrow evening!”
Each man ran in a different direction.
And finally, Rhovar received an invitation to compete at the Mightiest Might match on Thistleburn 5th which will take place within the Windgod's Temple.
There he will get a chance to compete against the current reigning champion, Brutus “The Bumblebee” Beefcake.
“By the end of tomorrow everybody will know my name.”
Rhovar's matches written by his player, BloodyHand.
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