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[Decathros] Chapter 1: Sinking in Soglash

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Welcome to Soglash

A town built over the rubble and rot of failed buildings before it. Soglash was originally built as shacks scattered along the ground, but as unnaturally high tides, wet weather and hurricanes took their toll on the buildings and drowned it again and again, the folk of Soglash learned their lesson. They began building their town as a massive, extended wooden dock suspended on hard-wood stilts over both the water and land. A rotting town of misery and shady dealings, is Soglash. A sanctuary for thieves, pirates and those who wish to be forgotten, or to forget. It is reputed that anything can be bought or sold in Soglash, for the right price.

Soglash does not have any official ruling caste; the only people who have the most influence are those who have money and the influence or fear factor to hold onto it. Pirate lords; Mob bosses; even Assassins who nobody would dare steal from are the most influential people in town. To get power in Soglash you must either have the money to pay someone to do dirty work for you, or be the one willing to do the dirty work yourself.

The Sodden Sailor

A seedy looking tavern by the name of "The Sodden Sailor". The tavern itself is suspended over the edge of the bay, supported by barnacle-encrusted beams which jut out from the water. The woodwork of the place shows signs of age and rot, however as a whole the building seems fairly sound. The Sodden Sailor holds four simple bedrooms on the second floor, each with two beds and meager amenities, and the lower floor holds a large, wood-fire warmed room with several rickety tables and chairs; a place to eat, drink and relax after a wearying day on working the docks of Soglash or hunting for game in the moors inland. Run by Olluc Ruse, the place is also known by the townsfolk as 'Ruse's Boozes.' Olluc is a burly, wrinkled man with a limp, his weathered skin and crude disposition suggesting a history of much sea-travel. Although the man is not above a laugh, he will not take roughhousing or threats lightly in The Sodden Sailor, and stores a gnarled club behind the bar for trouble-makers. Additionally, Olluc has several levers behind the bar which can open trap-doors beneath peoples' feet, causing them to fall straight through the floor and into the briny muck below. It is a no-nonsense way of removing trouble.

Atacuso Veithar:
This night, The Sodden Sailor was quiet. Olluc wiped down the bar with a careless hand and dirty cloth, and a single serving girl weaved her way through the four patrons of the place. In a cleared space near the fire a skinny, grey-'stached bard sat, a meandering wail coming forth as he slid his bow across a poorly crafted three-string Rebec. It was late, and the fire had died down largely to glowing embers, casting shadows across the room which was nearly as eerie as the mists outside. Atacuso Veithar entered the tavern and removed his sodden cloak, hanging it on a hook on the wall. The half-elf adjusted the halberd uncomfortably on his back; he was wearied and it showed; he had travelled for several days now, his first trek out from the Swynmoor swamps! Though he occasionally passed through the ramshackle towns along Voskinsar's paths, he always ended up bedding in the wild; his hunter instincts making him more comfortable out there, while in this unfamiliar territory. He wearied of waking up sodden, though, and when the lights of Soglash shone like a beacon on the horizon, he decided that this night, he would find a nice, dry bed!

Atacuso glanced around momentarily - garnering no reaction from the other patrons but a nod and a wary smile from Olluc; the hunter's patchwork gator-hide granting him a second, curious glance by the tavern owner. Before he even had a chance to move, a small-framed brunette serving girl arrived at his side, eyes wide as she stared unashamedly at the Swynnish man's somewhat fey features. "Welcome to Ruse's Boozes m'lord. Yeh hungry? Care for a drink, mayhap? Say, are yeh from tha' swamps over east m'lud? I hear they gots big crocodile men what 'kin eat you up in one gulp!" the girl smiled toothily at Atacuso.
"Cassa!" Olluc barked from the bar, "Let the man be, would you!?" Olluc gave Atacuso a diplomatic smile, "Aye be sorry about that, sire; she is young and eager. Please be makin' yourself comfortable!"

Aredhel Milarien:
Aredhel had been woken up quite by an odd sound outside his door. The Elfish spellcaster had made it to Soglash some time earlier in the day. Though he had been to this town before, the nature of Soglash was such that every time one visits, old buildings have been abandoned and new ones erected. Thus, he explored the town briefly, got bored and then made his way of Olluc's place of business. The Val-a-Twyr man had dined on a hot and sour stew of scampi, eel-head and some other unidentifiable sea-creature before engaging in light conversation with Olluc, who was more than happy to regale stories of his youth as a sailor, hunting for crustacean along the rocks of the smaller islands in the Spiked Sea. The pale elf had heard the stories before, but humored Olluc; this was not the first time Aredhel had been to the Sodden Sailor. In fact, the elf had a hand in divising the mechanics of the lever and trap-door system which Olluc had in place. Eventually, Aredhel grew wearied and retired to his room on the second floor before passing out almost instantly.

But now, he was once again awake. The sound was somewhat akin to several men dragging a large sack of potatoes across the floor. They had entered the room next to his where there was a big 'thump!' and a creak of furniture, before the thin walls betrayed the voices of three people speaking in urgent, hushed tones before one of the men clomped back out the door and down the stairs of The Sodden Sailor. For now, all was quiet, but Aredhel rose from his bed. There was no way he could get back to sleep after those noises.

Korchel Halenfjord Narastir:
The stocky individual known as Korchel had happened upon the town of Soglash in his wanderings - as the accursed Dragon Auspexes tend to do. He had been taking up residence in Soglash for two days now; not really intending to stay, but nevertheless lingering in the area as though awaiting something. It did not take him long to get a feel for the barnacle-encrusted town and it's shady inhabitants. This night, he found himself in The Sodden Sailor for a hearty meal of root vegetables and roasted Hare, freshly trapped by the Vosk hunters of the region this very day. As the night drew on, a simple-minded wench by the name of Cassa struck up a conversation with Korchel. Her naivety simultaneously relaxed and irritated the tired dwarf; who was grateful for not having a thought-provoking conversation, yet was astounded by the energy her conversation carried.
He would have liked to have a few words with the elfish lad who was in earlier, but Olluc had taken his attention for much of the night, and the Elf then retired upstairs.

As the night deepened, Korchel let Cassa's words and the tune of the Rebec fade into the background as he lingered over a mug of warm ale and peered into the fire in a reverie. The sparse smoke of the embers made patterns to the Dwarf, and he watched the grey tendrils for some time. Nearly half an hour had passed when the smoke of the fire suddenly swirled and writhed. It took a few seconds for Korchel to realize what had caused the disturbance - a half-elf had opened the door and walked in from the cold - but before the Dwarf snapped from his reverie, he thought he had read what the tendrils of smoke had whispered: Change was coming. Tonight.

Pain. Stars... oh the pain!
Helgkhor's eyes opened blearily, unfocused. His head throbbed. His brain ached. By the gods, what had happened!? He thought back...
He had been to Saulkement, yes. He had met the high priestess there and she had sent him on a task, yes. And then Soglash. He remembered getting off the boat, lugging down his gear from it. Footsteps behind him; three pairs, getting faster and then... Pain. Blackness.

Helgkhor's eyes came to focus and he took bearing of his surroundings. He was seated on a flimsy, wooden chair which creaked beneath him. His hands were tied behind him to the chair by some worn rope. He was in a simple, square room. Thin, halfway rotted wood for walls, a sturdy wooden door to his left, and a frail window adorned the wall to his right - the night sky leered down at him. Yon could see his belongings, untidily pushed in the far corner by the window. By the looks of the two single beds with suspiciously stained woolens, he was currently tied up in an inn. Two lanterns brought light to the room. one hanging on a hook on the wall in front of him, and another held by one of two men in plain, black garbs who were talking frantically in hushed tones to one another, currently facing away from him. Aah, this did not look good for the Barbarian!

Atacuso watched the girl as she scurried off to scrub a table. "She ain' no worry," he muttered to the barkeep. It felt a little strange to be inside - he hadn't been in a proper building in nigh on a year, save his own rustic homestead which hardly counted.

Still, the place was friendly enough. Reminded him of Morden's, the little shop that served as both bar and general store in his village. Folk were always friendly in there, and warm, too. The days spent journeying up to here called for a warm respite and a good drink.

He moved over to the bar, watching the rebec player and taking in the sight and smell of the place. Before sitting, he pulled the worn halberd from his pack to fit himself on the stool properly. He propped it up against the bar, gripping it awkwardly as he looked about.

He gave a quick nod to Olluc. "Mudwater, iffin you please," he said quietly. "And someting hot to eat." Without being prompted he reached for his belt purse, still laden with profits from the pelts he'd traded to the dwarf refugees just before he left Adûrak Delta. "I got de coin," he said insistently. After so many years being mostly self-sufficient, the hunter still wasn't used to needing currency.

What would Talu think of me now

Helgkhor winces, angry with himself. As he does, piercing pain lances his brain. Wretched, sneaky Voskinsari! For a moment he forces himself to sit still. Pricking his sizable ears, he listens to the soft chatter coming from his two abductors. He can make nothing out. Nothing but feint, pleasant music emanating from somewhere below, a rebec, he thinks he remembers the instrument being called.


He studies the dark figures as best he can in the flickering lantern-light.

What were these two thinking when they tied me with worn rope to a seat of kindling? Are these two of the ill-famed Soglashi scrips? Am I to be sold to a passing ship? I have barely begun my mission. Will I fail so soon?

Their backs were to him. He found himself growing angrier. He remembered his father's words...

questions are best answered by those clinging to life.

Helgkhor flexes every muscle in his body, tearing at the rope binding him, as if it were string....--rrrriippp!---and charge! He lunges at the two black-cloaks with intent to crush and maim with his bare hands. Six feet, seven inches, and two hundred and ninety pounds of motivated, moving force.

He doesn't bother growling, grunting or shouting.

Aredhel turned in his bed, and looked through a knot-hole in the wooden planks. A classic abduction scenario unveiled before his eyes - complete with the victim tied to a chair, and a burlap sack over his head.
So... quaint. With the little time humans had, he had to wonder why they spent so much of it re-discovering the known.
He did not bother with dressing, instead grabbed his crossbow, and, following the departure of one of the bandits, followed to the common room of the Sodden Sailor.

From the top of the stairs, he waved to Olluc, ignoring his surprise at seeing the elf barefoot, in linen shirt. "Olluc, dear friend, I believe there is a hostage situation in the western room, and *this* gentleman's responsibility seems to be a third. Would you care to assist?"
From their dealings, Aredhel knew Olluc hated crime at his inn - unless he was involved. For example, look at those prices!

He then headed back up, leaving the startled brigand to the guests and the innkeeper, while he reached the door just as he heard ropes tear, and a chair be discarded against the planks. "Oh!" he smiled as he heard a fist meet a face. Carus sat on his shoulder, and asked: "Eyes?"
"Yes, friend, feel free to have some" he said as he opened the door.

The fire’s smoke seemed sluggish, drifting and dispersing slowly.  It brought faded memories to mind, recollections of 80 years earlier, when Korchel had still been young.  Perhaps that was the smoke’s role, the dragon augur wondered.  Was the pattern of the present an echo of times long gone by? 

Reaching his tattoo-covered hand toward the embers, Korchel almost began to manifest the Wyrm’s Touch, but thought better of it after a moment.  His muttered invocations and foreign customs were surely disturbing enough for these rural folk.  Instead of rousing the flames with his hand, it make more sense to reach for the poker.  The dwarf instead contented himself by quietly calling a wispy thread of smoke to his hand, watching it drift around his fingers.   No one was likely to notice such petty magic in this dimly-lit inn.

Korchel wondered about the flamesign which had seemed so clear earlier.  The fire could be fickle.  Sometimes it showed the pattern of things to come.  Other times it toyed with its oracles, dangling portents with no truth to them.  One must be cautious when reading the hidden truths of the smoke and flame.  Still, the fire had said something about that half-elven hunter.  His fate was significant.

Rising from next to the hearth, the dragon augur approached the hunter.  Curious wisps of smoke trailed after him, apparently reluctant to leave the tattooed dwarf’s company.  Korchel’s voice was hoarse, his lungs scarred and smoke-damaged beyond even the legendary resilience of dwarvenkind. “Innkeeper, I would have anot’ pint of your modest if you would, and also something for the half-elf here.”   Turning toward the newcomer, his eyes glittered with curiosity as he raised his hand in the sign of greeting.  “Hail, traveler of the wilds.  I, too, wend the paths of this dark age:  I be Korchel Halenfjord Narastir, dragon augur of the northern Way.  I bid you welcome, for the flame sign heralded your arrival.  The five bright ones have brought us to this place, where fate will soon show its hand.” 

The innkeeper didn't appear to have heard the tattoo-covered dwarf.  A nightshirt-clad elf was apparently distracting the man from his duties toward his other patrons.  Korchel frowned at the situation.  He hated being ignored.


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