Soul Survivors

The Only Things Certain in Life
In which introductions are made

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“The ideas of debtor and creditor as to what constitutes a good time never coincide.”

Good mead and lively conversation were flowing freely in the Journey Inn when, with a flourish of his cape and a flash of his sword, famed hero Antonio Vittore burst onto the scene. Hearing the commotion, Yuudai, previously contemplating why he’d woken up in a bed rather than the stable he’d fallen asleep in, barreled downstairs to see what had caused such a disturbance. Arbezai Kokolyich, an exceptionally eccentric beekeeper, remained outside so as not to seem rude or presumptive. This was a considerably awkward decision, and he was promptly shown inside. Convinced there was no immediate danger from the patrons (who had altogether been minding their own business from the start), the gentlemen were shown to a back room full of plush seating and finely crafted furniture.

It was there that Fay, the fastidious gnome tasked with managing the Collector’s affairs, explained the situation. The time had come to make good on their deals. In order to fulfill their contract the group would be required to complete four tasks, at which point they would be released from service. When pressed for answers, Fay revealed that the terms of their service prevented her and her counterpart Felix from assisting. She did, however, advise against rebellion, indicating it had ended rather poorly for the last group.

Sensing that tensions were high, Felix offered drinks all around. While the trio discussed which vaguely-worded, seemingly arbitrary task they ought to tackle first, Spalt found himself on the receiving end of some rather unwelcome advances by Arbezai. Fortunately, Yuudai and Antonio came to an agreement and off the adventurers went. It seems there was a princess that needed saving.

The gentlemen found themselves in an arid desert at twilight. The perfect time, Yuudai thought, for a brief getting-to-know-you sparring match with Antonio. Following the match the trio agreed on the much more sensible decision to make camp before temperatures dropped. Unfortunately for Antonio, Arbezai was a snuggler and Yuudai was unwilling to share his tree. It was going to be a long night…

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Into the Maw
In which a dragon is rescued

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“What monster sleeps in the deep of your story? You need a monster. Without a monster there is no story.”

At dawn the trio awoke and broke camp, following Fay’s compass towards the looming rock formation on the horizon. Drawing closer the path split; one half led up towards the overly-dramatic outcropping while the other seemed to lead off into the hills. Yuudai decisively set to scaling the slopes. However, the others felt quite strongly that they ought to strike out towards the foothills. From his vantage point Yuudai watched as Antonio and Arbezai dutifully walked into an ambush set by a large, insectoid desert predator. The ensuing skirmish was both brief and messy—due in large part to Arbezai’s unexpected transformation into a giant bee-man. This fact did not go unnoticed by the nearby Elacs-shomian scout who, both confused and terrified, sensibly fled the scene.

After a brief pursuit the gentlemen found themselves in the small desert community of Elacs-Shom. Recognizing an opportunity for heroics, Antonio quickly agreed to assist the locals who seemed to have their hands full with both a dried-up well and missing persons. The idea of saving a princess and the promise of legendary treasure certainly had nothing to do with his magnanimous gesture. Equipped with steeds and a guide the group set out for The Maw.

Entering the cave the adventurers came across the thoroughly distressed corpse of a research student from Iriswood University. A brief perusal of his journal suggested that the “dangers untold” and legends of the monster Nkosazana may not have been as exaggerated as hoped. A brief perusal of his pockets yielded a few useful items, including a makeshift monocle for Yuudai.

Undeterred by the grisly welcome, the party pressed on and, after a series predictably dangerous and overwrought trials, arrived in the main antechamber. That’s where things got a bit strange. The uneasy presence which had followed them through the lower levels was a small dragon. The small dragon was actually the missing princess. And the missing princess turned out to be a rather capable young girl on a mission to save her village. Their spirits only somewhat dampened by this series of increasingly improbable revelations, the group returned to Elacs-Shom.

Thrilled to both have Jade back home and a viable water source, much feasting and celebration ensued. Gifts were given, cheesy pick-up lines were used, and a good time was had by all. The following morning the compass led the trio back to the Journey Inn and a rather close encounter with the bard Ashede Zheer. Ashede had an uncanny familiarity with all three of their stories, but held a particular interest in the Tragic Tale of the Bee Man.

Antonio and Yuudai agreed that it was, without a doubt, the strangest thing they had seen yet.

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Deep Thoughts
In which unpleasant discoveries are made

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“Books allow one to voyage to fantastic places. To dangerous places. To places you hope to remember and those you wish to forget.”

Breakfast was late. This was, according to Antonio, an intolerable state of existence. After a hearty appetizer of brandy, the trio went in search of Felix and Fay in the hopes of securing some morning victuals. Instead, they found themselves eavesdropping on a rather heated argument between the two gnomes. Ultimately, breakfast was served (alongside a bit of under-the-table assistance from Felix) and the party set out to complete the second task.

The travelers exited the Journey Inn and were met with a brisk ocean breeze, to which Yuudai strongly objected. It seems they had arrived not to far from a small coastal village. The group headed into town where Antonio decided to inspect the local message board. In amongst the ads for goods and services one particular posting caught their attention—a missing persons notice by a certain Adva Sunan of the Iriswood University. Recognizing the name from the recently discovered research journal, the party decided to call upon the young scholar.

While sad to hear of the passing of her colleague, Adva was intrigued by the prospect of learning more about the ancient people of Yuuphai. Certain that whatever the strange adventurers were offering was no worse than the tasks Professor Thulani meted out to university interns, the dwarf agreed to meet them on the morrow to offer whatever assistance she could. In the meantime, the party sought supplies at Prudence’s Potent Poultice & Potion Emporium in anticipation of facing the unknown depths. Having prepared as best they could, Antonio secured a room at the inn whilst Yuudai enthusiastically shared the wonders of fresh-caught seafood…with the baffled locals of the fishing village.

The sun shone brightly as the group gathered on the dock the next morning. With an appropriately extravagant flourish, Antonio produced a small box containing a model boat—the gift from Felix. A command word transformed the toy into an impressive ship fit for a grand adventure. The vessel took off like a rocket the moment the compass was housed snugly at the wheel. An instant later the group found themselves speeding down beneath the waves. Down, down, down they went until an enormous dome rose up from the sea floor before them . A grand adventure certainly awaited.

Upon their advise Adva opted to to stay on-board the ship. This ultimately turned out to be the wiser choice. The dome, much to the adventurers’ surprise, was warm and inviting and brightly lit, giving the illusion of a sunny esplanade. Strangely shaped buildings towered in the distance, gardens beckoned and over it all lay a strong sense of wrongness. It was far, far too quiet. Venturing down the main avenue the party passed great golden statues of strange humanoids sporting insect-like features. In the town square came the first indication of things amiss—neatly cleaned bones of long-dead inhabitants.

The group approached a small column in the center of the plaza, unsure of where to go next. After some trial and error, it became clear that this had been the primary means of travel within the domed city. The former inhabitants of Yuuphai had perished due to starvation and disease, trapped when their floating city malfunctioned and sank beneath the waves. Their mechanical servants remained behind, dutifully tending their long-dead masters’ affairs. Yuudai, Antonio, and Arbezai, increasingly unsettled by the whole affair, returned the ancient library book with all haste, but not before setting off an ancient alarm system.

Pursued by the now-animated golden statues, the group fled the dome to the safety of the enchanted ship and weighed anchor. Their relief, however, was premature. No sooner had the sunken city fallen into the distance than the ship was assaulted by a giant kraken. A pitched battle ensued. The heroes fought bravely, driving the beast back to the depths from whence it came. Adva was once again rethinking her life in academia.

The group emerged from the waves covered in viscera, but victorious. Bidding the young scholar adieu, they made their way back to the inn for a well-earned hot bath and (in Antonio’s case) strong drink.

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Pest Control
In which a new friend is found

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“I don’t like rats any more than the next bloke, but they ain’t wicked and cruel like people can be.”

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Tool Time
In which seeing is believing

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“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong."

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Choose Your Own Adventure
In which a castle is stormed

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“You made your decision. These are the repercussions. Don’t confuse poor decision-making with destiny.”

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered
In which a decision is made

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“Experience is what you get when you don’t read the fine print.”

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