The Skies of Velaris

Sparky's Training Log: Day 1
Welcome aboard, Sparky!

Vermilio’s notes: on a relatively routine mission to find silverscale crocodile sheddings, we subdued a crocodile. We’d originally planned to sell him to the villagers, but in our short time knowing him, we realize that he is the missing member of the crew of the cloudskimmer. A rigorous training schedule is forthcoming. Initial notes: swaddling and oxygen deprivation seems to calm him down significantly. I’m not sure, but I think that he likes me. I’ll just have to train him to express his love in a less bite-y way.

Some other stuff happened, and that captain guy got healed and stuff, so that was cool too.

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Outcasts
From the mind of Brangaen

Though outwardly quiet, Brangaen felt terribly upset. She had never been so humiliated in one evening. All her attempts to heal Captain Baelnog had seemed only to cause him more pain. It was only after Herrat and Vermilio tended him that he lapsed into a deep, but troubling, perhaps comatose sleep.

It was just then, as they were bandaging his badly broken leg, that she had suddenly felt a presence. The figure peering out at them from the trees was indescribably ugly, but the energy she felt from him was entirely positive. Inquisitive, and a bit distrustful, but not threatening.

Vermilio gave this odd frog-looking creature a difficult time before they all decided to rely on his help in finding a village. And food. No sooner had they come to this agreement than Gus and Varos ran back into the camp – trailed closely by enormous and terrifying bugs. Because of her inability to help the captain earlier, she decided to sacrifice her own safety and when she felt the spider at her back, she drove it even further from the rest of the crew. She had not, however, been able to kill it herself and knew that she had been helped, not only by Herrat, but by that strange frog man, although she didn’t know how or what he had done. Even after that, she had needed a healing potion from Vermilio before she was able to drag a scorpion off Varos’ back.

All of these failures upset her. She knew her companions would not hold it against her, but she was deeply displeased with herself. She had not fought well and she had failed to save the man to whom she owed her livelihood, her food, the clothes on her back. He had not been furthered injured in the attack, but still lay in that distressing semi-sleep.

As the crew slept, she felt the frog creature’s eyes on them. From inside her trance, she could feel the trouble of his mental energy. She could tell he felt uncomfortable feeling their pain, exhaustion, disappointment, and confusion. He was not used to interaction with others – not used to helping or harming – was unsure how to behave. As he waddled away into the wood, escaping their presence, something deep inside her moved with him. A strange sympathy drew her to this lonely hermit, whose peace they had disturbed. Sometimes, she thought, I wish for that peace, too.

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A Carpet of Creepy Critters

From the Journal of Varos Cloudstrider, Chaplain of the Cloudskimmer

Mysterious Island, Day 1

What should have been a simple courier job has turned into a campaign of epic failures. We were attacked by a goblin vessel which managed to down our ship (though not before experiencing numerous casualties on their part.)

The fight was short but glorious. I, of course, believe we could have held out against their supposed “uncountable” numbers hidden below deck. But, it’s been a while since many of us had seen combat, and it was clear that we were still stretching our battle legs. It was by the pure mercy of Akadi that I didn’t fall to my death as I attempted to leap (in full plate mail no less!) from ship to ship. While the battle was over in a matter of moments, to our untrained senses I am sure it must have felt like nearly 2 hours.

Our ship crashed onto a small island, somewhere between our destinations. Praise be to Akadi for steering our burning vessel to the safety of land, rather than to the crushing maelstrom of the uncharted seas. While we are now on an island with limited provisions and few prospects for escape, I know that Akadi will soon open a way for us to continue on our great journey, as wanderlust is but one of the great rites expected of all of us.

Upon awakening on this new island, we quickly set upon our separate duties. Gus and I started looking for signs of civilization, and with no particular guidelines, headed west. We planned to return by nightfall, and attempt again in a different direction should we have no luck. Vermilio began working on the ship, though if he put a little more faith in Akadi, and less faith in machinery, we might not be in our current predicament. I should remember to discuss with him how fate can railroad us to our destination, and that he should put more faith in the deities than his own arcane prowess.

Herrat, as our best tracker, set upon looking for Captain Baelnog, who is currently missing.

What happened after Gus and I left in search of civilization is unknown to us, though I hope they achieved better success than we have. Our travel was incredibly uneventful and, frankly, quite boring. After a few hours, we had yet to receive any sign of town or village, and it was clear we would have to head back if we hoped to return by nightfall. As it grew dark, we could hear things skittering in the dark, and as we got closer to our base camp, it became evident that the skittering things were beginning to give chase.

It wasn’t long before we were running as fast as we could towards the downed ship. Next I knew, we were swarmed by all manner of vermin, each crawling, stinging, biting, looking for its next meal. Apparently, while we were in the forest, our crew found a new friend, as some frog-like creature was assisting in our fight against the critters. By the time the fight was over, I didn’t care what news everyone had. Our fight seemed to have carried on for nearly 3 hours, though surely it must have been over in a matter of minutes. As far as I was concerned, it was time to sleep, and any news could wait until tomorrow.

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The Watcher
Nighttime in the clearing

As the newcomers slept, Frug crouched nearby, watching. An hour before, he had been a maelstrom of psionic might, aiding in their pitched battle against the many multi-legged denizens of the island. Now, however, he perched on a rock, perfectly still and with a thoughtful expression. Maybe they last, he thought. They fight creepy-crawlies pretty good. Kill many-many hundred-leggers and zap claws and web crawlers. That hard to do.

A thought occurred to the frog-bodied gnome, and he tilted his head and squinted his eyes. Wonder why they drive big boat into ground? That not seem like such a good idea. Now red scalie not look so good. Leg bent all funny. Maybe him not last. Maybe witch doctor know how to fix. Maybe.

Frug absent-mindedly pawed at the strange piece of wood that hung around his neck, his mind wandering back into its own corners. The memories didn’t have form so much as color. Brilliant colors in shades not even describable. From time to time, these memories drifted through his mind, though the advancing years had long since scrubbed out any recollection of why he had them, or whether they were even his own. He wandered through the chaotic thoughts merely as an observer, a recipient of a message delivered to him by mistake. He saw reality being ripped back and a new reality exposed underneath it. He saw pain as a mind became the residence for more souls than it could fit. He saw flesh twisting, changing, shifting, all happening against a backdrop of insane spectrums and maddening colors.

The little creature slowly rose and began to walk off. His legs guided themselves in the familiar direction of the listening place. In the face of this strange incursion into his island, he would find familiar comfort there. As he reached the edge of the clearing, he stopped and turned. Seven strange figures lay where he looked. How they get here? Not safe to sleep out in open like that. They not last long if they do that. Shaking his head in disapproval, Frug waddled off into the forest, disappearing into the blackness of the nighttime foliage.

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A Milk Run Gone Sour
It's always the simple ones

The trees overhead gradually came into focus as Baelnog regained his senses. Slowly, an indistinct mass of green coalesced into trees, branches, leaves, moss. Just as slowly, he was aware of a pain in his leg growing more and more acute. It was supported by a fuzzy background of soreness and aching through his whole body in much the same way a Tartrix virtuoso was supported by an entire orchestra. Indeed, “symphonic” would probably be the best way to describe the pain he was feeling, Baelnog decided.

“This is the last time,” he thought. “The last time I’m taking a job from that beard-for-brains old coot. It never goes smooth. How come it never goes smooth?” He tried to move his leg. Definitely broken, judging by the searing fire racing through his nervous system, and broken badly.

It was supposed to have been easy. A nice easy job to keep the crew fed and the ship flying. Get an artifact from the dig site in Leafsdown to Capron in Alnoc. Not a dangerous artifact, not a haunted dig site, none of that. Just a simple milk run. Sure, the old man had been a bit stingy with his payment, but an old scholar’s income isn’t exactly lush, and a job’s a job. So they had taken it.

Baelnog should have known that no good would come of this job when they showed up at the site and found Leafsdownian government inspectors there already. The mischevious, but nervous dig foreman Libbo told him that it was part of a surprise inspection by the government since the dig was taking place on their lands. “That’s the thing about this blasted country,” the Halfling had said when he stole out to the Cloudskimmer that night to talk with Baelnog. “Leafsdown is so obsessed with their trade status that they can’t pass up an opportunity to get their hands on things like these artifacts. Never mind the fact they don’t know what the blazes they DO, they just want to show them off and look wealthy. Ol’ Cappy and I go way, way back, so we both know what would happen to those tablets if Leafsdown got their hands on them: nothing. No one could look at them, learn from them, and instead they’d just be sitting in a box in a closet.” Baelnog decided then that he liked Libbo.

The darkness of nighttime deepened, and the crew of the Cloudskimmer set about their job with incredible adroitness. Even their captain hadn’t expected it to go over as well as it did. Without much trouble, Varos talked up the guards at the dock while Herrat, Adeliza, Brangaen and Gus snuck into the supply shed where Libbo said he had hidden the tablets when the inspectors arrived, found and opened the secret storage compartment, and snuck the tablets back to the ship in a footlocker. The Cloudskimmer lifted off silently thanks to the mechanical expertise of Vermilio, and they made their escape into the night skies.

It was clear sailing for a few days, but then the unexpected happened, as it always seems to. It was Herrat who first saw them. “Goblins!” she shouted from the lookout. The maniacal raiders closed in quickly on the ship with their ramshackle craft. It seemed like the only parts of it they had really cared about were the massive engine and the red paint job. “”/campaign/the-skies-of-velaris/wikis/mogabex" class=“wiki-page-link”>Mogabex", goblin for “Skull Crusha”, was scrawled on the stern in a spastic hand. Poetic, as always, Baelnog remembered thinking. There wasn’t time for more thought than that, however, as the raiders opened fire with a huge cannon bolted to their deck. It was difficult to tell whether the huge, explosives-laden cannonballs were more dangerous to their operators or their targets, but they certainly did a number on the Cloudskimmer, taking out a large bite of the aft deck and setting the port lift sail on fire. The goblin’s barbarity was matched by the bravery of the crew, however, with Vermilio and Varos leaping down onto the goblin’s ship to fight them up close. Adeliza, meanwhile, picked off a goblin with a vicious-looking sword with an expertly aimed crossbow bolt, and Brangaen called forth divine power to pull a sniper off of the ship and send him tumbling to his watery doom. When the goblins tried to board the Cloudskimmer, Gus was there to flay them where they stood while Herrat transformed into a primeval bear to tear them apart.

Still, try as they might to fend off the attack, the hobgoblin gunner tore hole after hole in the poor ship, and it eventually began losing altitude. Rather than try their luck against the remaining goblins, Varos and Vermilio jumped back to the Cloudskimmer to do what they could to save it. “I knew I hired them for a reason,” Baelnog mused. What he couldn’t figure out, even as they sank toward the tiny island on which he now lay, was why the goblins had attacked them. The most likely scenario was that it was completely random, a raid just like any other carried out by goblins to take whatever wealth they could from whatever craft they could fight. It was an age-old pattern, and Baelnog knew that it was probably the case, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that the timing was just too perfect. But what would goblins want with a bunch of old tablets? Baelnog had never known goblins to be much for reading, much less of dead languages that only the wisest scholars could understand. Beyond their educational value, however, Capron hadn’t mentioned any inherent power that would make the tablets attractive to simple-minded goblins. The only other explanation that Baelnog could conjure was that the old man had enemies he wasn’t letting on.

“This is the last damned time I take a simple job,” the captain thought. They were always the ones that seemed to go wrong. The trees overhead began to fade back to an emerald haze. Baelnog could feel consciousness slipping like cloud vapor through his fingers. “The last time…”

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