Oki

Deja Vu
At death's door

It was all I could do to raise the alarms. That’s what I’d thought. I saw the first corsair dragon ram into the medical tent, and my blood ran cold. When I turned and saw the second, my feet began to move before I thought about it. Using all the training I had, I moved forward to put myself between the charging monster and those inside the tent.

As its teeth went into my side, everything went white. I could feel it again. I was conscious, but there it was… Like all those years ago, death’s specter loomed overhead.

Three years ago

Damn this heat is unbearable.

It was all most of us could say or think as we trudged through the swamps. True, the signal had gone up to say that the mission was completed, but we’d still had to deal with all sorts of nasty beast on our way in, and now on our way out as well.

We were battered, bruised, and I’m certain more than half of us were dying of some illness that we’d no want to speak of. Still, at least this hell was almost over.

That’s when I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. A giant of a man, standing at least ten feet tall, was barrelling to one of my allies, giant club in hand. Even in my shape, I rushed forward. I don’t know what I was thinking, only that I needed to act.

In an instant, I was between them, and I felt the most incredible pain I had in my entire life.

For a moment, all was white.

“Not yet…” I forced myself to step forward. He was injured too, but nowhere near badly as I was. “You’re coming with me!!” I shouted, my left hand forming a fist and swinging hard and wide for the side of his head. As I did this, all my energy escaped me, and I fell into the swampy muck below me. My last sight was the giant’s blood from his temple as he also fell.

~~~

I forced myself into focus. Not dead yet. Okay. This would have killed me on that day, I’m certain… But I’m alive…

“You listen here… I am Loren Greenbrook, the Winged Wolf.” I gripped my saber in my right hand. “You ruined my hunt… And now you’re attacking my home?” My hand raised up. “DIE!” Two sweeps. The first was wide, but it struck home. The second though, hit right through the creature’s hide.

The grip it had on me loosened as it fell, but I was still standing.

I turned to face its compatriot. You’re next.

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a slashed journal page

the top portion of this page seems to have been torn away as though by some sort of claw

…and here I was thinking it was strange travelling with Smoke Bison…but these guys are something else. Find one of them semi lost with no idea where he’s going, though knew where he was…and we get back to find them the victim of a chimera attack. I split off to try and track the thing while the trail was still fresh.

the next part seems to be some updates about the hunt, curses on how hard it is to track a flier, notes on temporary landmarks he made where the trail seemed to split

finally found the thing as it’s decided to try for round two on that caravan. Already had that guy from before at its paws. I dove in and tore open the things back…but this was not how i planned the fight to go…he was ready for a fight. It didn’t help that those caravaneers couldn’t aim and almost shot me. At least their shaman had some sense about her.

but apparently they’ve had death dogs, sun lizards, four flavors of illnesses, a frozen frog, a squnk, a giant angry…bug…man and spirits both helpful and …questionably benign. So much happens here, I’m not sure what to think about it all….not that they trust me to heed my advice…medically or otherwise.

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Reminiscence
Musings of a Soldier

Considering the trials and tribulations of the past few days, I think it is only fitting to say something about my thoughts on everything that has been going on. I won’t pretend to be selfless about this. It’s all about me. My diatribes, my rules. That said, I guess I should start with the other day. The first chimera attack… True, we weren’t doing well before it, but… Well, it was one of my failures, to not raise an alarm, to sit back and watch, unsure if I was seeing friend or foe before me. I feel like an embarrassment in all this. Even when the damndable thing began to strike the caravan, I was still too slow to act.

It was others who paid the price. Inari, who I’d taken considerable amounts of time to talk with since my arrival, and her elder son, Nakamura, were both nearly killed. It was through some miracle that I was able to pull her out from under the crafting wagon, and that Annina had been able to rescue the elder boy from all but certain death. I think at this point, that I remembered the words of my first mentor, the ornery old coot. Vividly, I remembered Ironfoot, after brutally beating a whole class into the ground, telling us this when we asked why:

“Why do I do this? Why do you wish to protect others? Those who are strong have a responsibility to protect those who are weak. I stand over you as a mountain, something unsurmountable, because that’s what I need you to be. An unsurmountable peak that defends those under your care, and also, so you can defend yourself, and to raise others, so that they, too, can defend those under theirs. We do not stand alone.”

I guess I’d forgotten that point. Maybe it was the absurdity of a mountain that didn’t even crest three feet tall, or one that I could so easily lift and toss aside, even as a child. Not that he’d ever let me.

Still, I think that was what led me to see that pathetic and frightful child, weeping and having wet himself with fear, and not help but empathize with him. The fear of losing a parent may have resonated too much with me. I still remember my mother’s crying smile as she left me in a back alley, telling me she loved me, and wanted me to live.
When Inari was finally awake, I asked her if I might teach her son. I suppose it’s both my inability to properly articulate my thoughts, as well as how painful a choice what I’d asked was, that led to her viewing my question with derision. Truth being, in her position, I think I would have done the same. For someone who would ask that of a near stranger… It’s simply laughable. And it led me to realize how little I’d been learning of these people in our dealings.

Of course, the illness had begun to strike before I could truly take the time to try and focus on resolving that, and this whole place has been thrown into a panic as a result. Between the stress and my callousness while working to replace the weapon I’d favored, I suppose I just let my own duties and decisions go to hell too. I certainly upset a few people between then and today, and am simply amazed I didn’t end up on the other side of Cree’s wraith for it all. That said, I suppose the next big nail that led me here was the sheer frustration that was this morning.

Charlie’s damndable tobacco kept getting at me, and I guess that’s what led to my being completely blindsided by the chimera’s return. I was completely overwhelmed before I’d even been able to defend myself, and it’s nothing short of a miracle that I was able to survive at all. The knot that had snagged in the wound, I think it’s a sign that the Stormzerker still wants me to do something yet, but I’ve simply no idea of what it is. Maybe the flashes I saw as I fell unconscious may have been what it was, though.

I saw Graham and Ironfoot, those who I could consider my mentors… I think it’s a sign. Once I’d regained footing, I decided to redouble my efforts. I’ll become better all-around so I can maybe become a teacher and superior like those who’ve taken me this far.
That’s probably what led me to speak to Inari once more. Even as her younger son’s sickness persisted, and even though I’d failed her and others on so many levels, she still gave me a chance. She told me once more of the完璧に庚申, her so called road to perfection… I’m not sure it’s an ideal that I can believe in, but… I’ll see. It’s like a credo I’d heard among some of the legions, to push beyond the limits we had and become better. I feel as if perfection may be greedy, but I could not simply turn her down when she’d told me of the fact that she was willing to consider me in spite of the failings I’d presented to her of late.

So I decided to take it as a test of arms. I suppose it started with something simple, some blocks and strikes, but the more I moved, the less I even felt I noticed about those around me. Inari had simply faded to the background, and all that stood before me was a phantasmal opponent. I thought back to everything that had brought me to that point. The humiliations that I’d both dealt and been dealt that had caused my exile from Calva, the fights in the swamps, where I’d barely been able to even make any difference by my own. Fighting as a faceless drone during that great offensive… Meeting Sargeras and facing numerous defeats at his hands, the almost fruitless defiance I’d put forward against the ageless snake, Ziggy… Thoorin’s death before my eyes. The near deaths of my fellow travelers before my eyes, and then my failure when the chimera struck once more. Every single one of these events and failures coalesced into a single enemy before me, one that was shaped just like me. I think at least five minutes passed as I faced down this embodiment of my own weakness that threatened to overwhelm and consume me… By the time I finished, and the world returned to me, I was covered from head to toe in sweat, and breathing harder than any time I could remember.

And she accepted the offering of my show of strength. Truth being, I think Inari is the consummate teacher… Perhaps that’s her goal. She says that the path is to become perfect at whatever one attempts, so I suppose that’s really no surprise. The bitterness of my past still left a bad taste, and for now, I do not know why, but… I bowed before her, and begged her to teach me. I think, that at this moment, all I want is to grasp some small bit of that shining light, to become the mentor that those of my past pushed me towards… Maybe that’s what Stromyr reserved my life for.

I’d say more now, but… I think I hear something… Anazat, what the hell are you doing now?

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Ballad of Old Shuk
A children's rhyme

He trots about in the dead of night,
Ashukashuka,
baying in the fog that causes a fright,
Ashukashuka,
Beware his eerie Green Light,
Ashukashuka,
Or your family may not survive the night…
Ashukashuka
Howl

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Visions 1

All I hear is that beat,
It is not the drums of a festival, or the flutes of a fireside tale,
It is the sound of footfalls crushing our world, it is the music of our own destruction.
It marches like ants across the dust, in steady lines that have no beginning and no end, no head and no tail, an eternal convoy of ceaseless demolition.

They grind us away and leave me polished to nothing, they pick me and all I know clean until we are smooth and nothing anymore.

They scavenge the world that is left to them, carrion beasts picking apart what remains.

I do not know if I can look upon my home anymore with hopeful eyes. Whenever I see the grass sway I can never be sure if it is the breeze, or the ants marching onward. When I hear a noise, I can never be sure if it is the storm or the drumbeat of the end marching on. I want to run to the second world, and hope that this vision never finds me before I reach that endless journey.

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A Big Proposal For Bigfoot
By: Annina Rösch

Bigfoot has been seen as a mythical creature across many cultures meaning he, or perhaps she, is brushed off as not real. Though there have been several eyewitness accounts of Bigfoot’s existence, such as my own, ultimately there was a consensus that there is not enough conclusive evidence to act as proof of such a creature. However, with the help of my remarkable scholastic colleague for my research, Hotah, I will proove that Bigfoot is real along with the Sasquatch race; indeed, the evidence used to prove their existence lies in their language and culture along with my own experience seeing a Bigfoot out in the Frontier.

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Words of a Tired Nomad
I need a nap.

It’s been a rather…eventful day-ish. I’ve found and spoken with Cree about The Incident, and have found myself traveling with the Little Ray of Sunshine caravan for now. I’ve only spoken to a handful of the others, but so far they all seem okay. Skittles is probably very…very upset with me, though I deserve it, and I want to find Makya again. He’s a curious thing, I hope to have the chance to speak to him more.

Assuming we get out of this damned place.

The Thoorin thought it’d be a good idea to go into a Tormentor’s Cavern, which is a bad bad bad place, and play with Iron Spirits, and though Iron Spirits Cerul 12 and 13013 have grown on me significantly since first meeting them, I still don’t feel totally comfortable being here. I’ll have to make sure everyone is properly purified as soon as we return. If we return. We’ve almost lost ourselves once already to one of the creatures down here. A Sinner’s Beast is what Thoorin and Anazat said it was. According to Anazat, the now corpse is to be sacrificed to Az, though apparently Elros thinks he can make some kind of weapon from it. Sounds both interesting and mildly terrifying but that’s been my whole day at this point, really.

And though I don’t like to think about it, theres also the incident earlier with the seance that went very wrong. I should have known better than to fuck around with the spirits in this place, and yet I let the Thoorin drag me down here before I had the chance to do anything otherwise. Dear Giles seemed incredibly shaken afterwards. I haven’t had the time to talk to him about it yet, but I need to. I also need to thank him for helping me a bit ago as well. Hopefully I can talk to him privately, it’ll at least make me feel better.

And then there’s the fact that the Thoorin might murder me with his own hands. I should find a suitable place to hide, or at least try to avoid him as best I can. We’re sort of all locked in this room. Perhaps Anazat will keep him away from me? I’m not sure. I need to make sure Anazat doing okay after everything anyway. Between his…transformations earlier and the pharmaceutical-that’s what the Iron Spirit Cerul 12 said it was likely to be-I injected him with (which caused the anger of the Thoorin), I’m a tad worried about him. He can handle himself, yes, but that doesn’t keep me from being concerned.

At least the little one called Annina seems to be doing fairly okay. We had a run in with a monster that had her rather upset earlier but we managed to shoo it off for now. Hopefully he stays occupied with what we basically bribed him with. Bodil seems to be keeping her eye out for him.

It seems I have quite the list of things to do for now while Iron Spirit 13013 does his upgrades. Hopefully I can get as many done as possible before going to sleep, though I doubt I’ll sleep well in this cavern.

Tormentor’s Cavern To Do:

  • Talk to Giles
  • Talk to Anazat
  • Avoid the Thoorin
  • Avoid death

General To Do:

  • Acquaint myself with the rest of the Caravan
  • Speak more with Cree
  • Speak more with Makya
  • Explore more of the town
  • Learn the language of the Iron Spirits Help little Annina look for the Bigfoot
  • Attempt to teach Cerul 12 and 13013 about basic emotions and free will Try to make it up to Skittles
  • Investigate more on The Incident
  • Learn more about The Voice of Summer Try not to get booted from the caravan

I suppose I’d better stop messing around and get back to it. I pray that we all make it out of this cavern alive.

-Kai

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6 Things Every Imperial Knows about the Frontier
For Players of the Imperial Faction, Sphinx Society, and potentially the United Churches

1. It’s Wild and Untamed: Even after the Orc Wars the lands northeast of the Imperium are still wild and untamed. The people of that land (called nomads) live wild and unruly barely better than animals and follow faiths long gone from the worlds of civilized men.

2. Frontiersmen: The frontiersmen are vassal people loyal to the empire, but are an unruly and often ignorant lot. They left the light of civilization long ago when the faith was new and have lived in the edges of the world for so long that some of the wild has rubbed off on them. Many follow old faiths that have long since left the lands of rational men, and even cavort with the wild peoples of that land like the feralfolk and orcs. Some say that they even cavort with Ogres, producing terrible spawn of great evil, brutal strength, and dark urges.

3. Nomad Faiths: The Great Green Sea is full of faiths and religions dedicated to all manner of enigmatic and potentially dangerous Lords not seen in the Imperium. These faiths are holdovers from a land not touched by the likes of Aurum or the Creed, who long ago expunged the deceptive and dangerous faiths from our lands so that we might never be lead astray by those beings alien to mortal men.

4. The Strange Technology: Greatest of all its mysteries, the Frontier is full of strange technologies found nowhere else in all of Oki. This is the land where the Calvans found their great stash of firearms and with them pushed back the Orcs during the Orc Wars, and where Spirespawn wander free or awaken from deep slumbers buried in the earth. These relics are holy things the Creed denotes as parts of the Great Spire in the heart of the Imperium and many are considered the divine property of the faith. To find or keep one of these is to have the favor of The Spire and great prestige in the Imperium. Many have left to the west to find their fortunes here in this land of holy mysteries.

5. Horsemen and Orc Wars: The nomads are known for their mastery of the horse and other mounted beasts, having long ago elevated these beasts that take to the saddle as holy creatures. They say that wealth is measured in horses rather than gold in these lands, and great leaders will have whole herds to their names. More terrifying than the nomads though is the Orc, the greenskin menace that lead the Orc Wars 2 centuries ago. These brutes are said to be taller than the greatest warrior, with bodies of knotted green muscle, and wield weapons of terrible power atop beasts the rational man can barely comprehend. They were beaten back 2 centuries ago with the help of the Imperial troops and some nomad loyal to the Imperium who helped push them back beyond a great mountain range in the area, but many are still in Imperial space, roving and raiding with fire and dark glee.

6. Dragons, Giants, and “Iron Spirits”: The lands of the frontier hold many other beasts beyond the nomads thanks to its nature as a land wild and untamed. Giants of old still wander the lands and dragons stalk the tall grasses like nowhere else. Some say these beasts have faces of swords, tails like battering rams, and are so massive that they can climb the greatest city walls like a goat fence. Amidst these also stand mysterious and terrifying creatures called “Iron Spirits” said to be the spirits of the dead locked within walking tombs of metal. These beasts are said to be able to breath lightning, shatter swords on their breasts, and defend themselves with glowing airs that surround their bodies. Many believe them to be lost souls of the Creed, Spireborn looking to return home or driven mad and left to wander the earth for past misdeeds. They are said to be beautiful and terrifying and best avoided by all but the most well prepared or most foolish.

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Little Ray of Sunshine Rules of Conduct
Sunfire Encampment Safety Update

Nailed to a corner of your sleeping wagon, a rough sheaf of vellum rustles in the breeze.

Camp Rules for Safety in camp

  • No scuffles or sparring in camp!: The Frontier is already dangerous enough, keep your personal scuffles for your off hours outside of camp. Those who break this rule receive 3 lashings. Those who harm Cree or those sent to break up your petty squabbles will receive 6.
  • No Gambling!: There is to be no gambling within camp where coin, gem, or treasures are exchanged, the former often leading to the scuffling above. Those who break this rule receive 2 lashes.
  • Respect the Apothecary Tent: Do not interrupt, distract, or otherwise impede the work of whoever’s on call in the medical tent. If you distract them and fuck up their procedures the consequences are on you. 3 lashes plus whatever punishments come for the harm caused.
  • Don’t sleep in if you can’t afford it: If you got work in the mornin’ you best be at work on time. We aren’t paying you to loaf! Employees who are not at their details by dawn will be on latrine cleaning and take 2 lashes. Drivers who are not at their stations and ready when it’s time to break camp will receive 4 lashes and their pay docked accordingly. Further punishments may follow.
  • Leave the Passengers Be: Do not badger, annoy, or otherwise intrude on passengers when it ain’t needed. They’ve paid to be here. Those who do otherwise will be stuck on trash, latrine, or cast off duty.
  • Passengers, do not obstruct crew: You’ve paid to be here, they’re here to work. Do not get them in trouble by getting in the way of their job. They are paid to keep our wheels moving on time and our camp from being lit on fire by orcs. Do not fuck that up. Passengers who ignore this rule will get charged 1 gp for their trouble.
  • Do not tell Cru the food is out!: Due to recent events this apparently obvious rule needs to be stated. Do not tell Ooth Ooth Cru that food is out. Yes, the beast is more intelligent than a simple beast, but he is still a beast. He will eat you, he will eat the horses, he will try to eat the crew or the passengers. Until such a time that that beast has been tamed or cowed, keep the workings of the crew to yourself. Those who break this rule will receive 4 lashes assuming they are preempted before Cru can cause any damage. Should the beast begin to hunt about camp, your punishment will be much more severe, the least of which will be repayment for damages rendered.

Rules for The Sunfire Encampment!

*KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!: We are working in a hidden sight, it is to remain that way. Do not disclose the location of our camp to outsiders lest you would like to have our spoils and your pay compromised accordingly. Loose lipped crew will receive 2 lashes. Expedition crew will be handled by Ambrose and likely receive a lashing as well.

  • All Experiments and Artifact Testing are to be done at a safe distance from Camp: Due to recent events, all experiments and identifications of unknown artifacts from the Sunfire Encampment must be done at a safe distance from the passenger sleeping quarters, mess, medical tent, and other essential service stations. Ignoring this will cost you 1 gp and/or a turn on shit hole duty. Failure and serious damage to our wagons or crew will result in further punishment of lashings and pay to repair damages. Do not make me explain this twice.

Upper Management
Head Teamster Charlie Crayton, Tyrant Chief Saltuck Cree

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Big Head's Journal #2: From Grave to Grains
The game is a foot

Well I would’ve never thought that Otis cult were still here in Middleborough. Not only are they here but they were though. But not tougher than the shadow of big head. Thinking after they tried to burn a house down and hit me with a shuriken they could hide. They thought their traps would stop me but it didn’t. It only made the thrill of the hunt more exciting, even while writing this I can’t stop the shaking from excitement. There were some hiccups though, I gave my presence to Bodil and Giles after boxes falling on me, got foot in hole (still feels numb and hard to move), and an imperial took a pot shot. Why can’t anyone understand that I am doing good for the people. Still my work isn’t done, one got away and the blue eyed ghost was there and went away after the guy left. It seemed to be good seeing as it lit up the one guy not us. To make matters worse seems there’s a potential smuggling/pilfering operation, seeing as how the boxes of “grain” are really iron spirits as sus calls them. One contained syringes, silver disks, and a tiara with cables sticking out of it. Main question is who took the grain and where is it? Now that I think about it I agree I do feel pretty wearing it think that I will keep it and at least one syringe gotta keep the fire going through tomorrow and the next day. Uh-oh thunderous stomps means thoorin’s coming by better hide the stuff before he takes it.

-Big Head
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