Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Student Becomes the Master: Canitia and Hyacintho's Krakken

And we're back! After almost a month off, dodging appointments, and rescheduling work, we finally were able to meet up for another exciting adventure in The Long Game. As we started, we realized we needed one hell of a "last time" recap, not only because it had been so long, but so much had happened. If you find yourself needing a refresher, check out our last adventure here.

Now, the adventure continues...

Kalgar took a look at the sky, and realized he had been traveling with Alvyn and Tong for 2 years. In that time, they have fought devils, demons, ghosts, and dragons, and he has come to know them as friends, better yet, family. However, something was bothering him, and it was Tong.

Upon leaving the battlefield wherein Votharxis was killed, Kalgar took the Edge from Tong, glad that he could do so, glad that Tong would give it up, and he put it in his sack. However, Tong also dropped his razor and left it behind. The next day, Kalgar was up early, observing Alvyn and Tong. They had been through a lot lately and he wasn't sure what to make of it. The sun rose, no one else woke up. The birds were in the height of their song, and still no one was awake. Normally, Tong would have been busting trees and yelling to all hell by now. But still, nothing happened.

Kalgar wondered over to where Tong slept, with no tent, just on the ground. Normally, Tong slept very rigidly, but today he was sprawled out, very relaxed. Kalgar had known Tong for 2 years now and Tong had never shown himself to be so relaxed. But, yesterday had been a big day so he didn't comment on it. Eventually, everyone awoke and went on their day.

The next morning, Kalgar again woke up early. Again, nothing happened. Tong woke up eventually and once again, did not go through his normal morning ritual. While packing up camp, Kalgar looked over to Tong, who was just sitting on the ground, drawing in the dirt and he called out, "Victor?"

Tong turned his head and said, "Yeah?"

Kalgar raced over, lifted Tong off the ground and slammed him into a tree. Holding him off the ground, Kalgar shouted, "Who are you? Victor Whitehelm or Tong zi Gong?"

"'s hard to explain. Both? Neither?"

Alvyn looked up from his tinkering and said, "Oh, this is going to end well."

Throwing the human to the ground, Kalgar said, "Let me tell you something about Victor Whitehelm. Whitehelm was a childish fool, whose cowardice and arrogance caused him to make a deal with a devil, destroy his soldiers, his family, and pretty much all of Albus. He could not wield true power and instead, power wielded him, threatening everyone and everything around him. When he was defeated by monks, when you decided to learn the ways of discipline, knowledge, and peace, Tong zi Gong was born. When Votharxis was killed, it was not by a prattling child-man with white hair, it was done by Tong. I didn't befriend Victor Whitehelm, I befriended Tong. You can do whatever you like, but I am telling you, here and now, if you fall back into your old ways, if you become Victor Whitehelm again, we will not be friends, and we will have problems."

Blinking in silence, Tong took that all in. "I thought that when the Edge was destroyed, so too would Victor, but, you've been to that plane of pain and anger, it still exists, and I cannot rid myself of Victor. But, maybe I can repress him.

Satisfied that Tong would at least try, they left it at that. For the next few days, Tong did his morning ritual, but was still unsure of himself.

The next morning, Kalgar was again the first to awake. Looking out from his tent, he didn't see Tong anywhere.



"Tong's gone."


Thinking that he had simply gone for a walk, the other two went about their business. Kalgar packed up his tent, took down his hammock, and brushed down Alan, his horse. Alvyn eventually looked up and said, "Hey, its been a while, where do you think he is?"

"Tong?" he shouted.


Alvyn tried sensing magic but he found that he could not.

Looking over where Tong was sleeping, they noticed a pile of ashes. Not enough to be all of Tong, it was still a disturbing sight.

Alvyn asked for the Edge. Kalgar pulled it from his backpack, and handed it to Alvyn. Running the blade along the book of devils, they noticed that the sword cut not just paper, but the space around it. A tiny hole appeared in reality.

"I found him."

Cutting larger, Alvyn made a hole large enough for Kalgar. Looking inside, it was white, wispy, ethereal. Looking back, Kalgar noticed that Alvyn had his khopesh and a handaxe. "Hey..."

"What? I'm just borrowing them. Should we go?"

"Should I take the horse? It looks like the Reverie, but I don't know if I want to leave Alan here."

"He'll be fine, I don't think we want a horse in there. Let's go."

Looking up the sky, Kalgar said, "Kord, we take the battle to them."

Walking between realities, Kalgar recognized the Reverie. A quiet place, where sound was muffled, strangely echoed, and light was diffuse. However, there was no one here. The ground was soft, like a cushion.

Just then, the hole they had cut sealed itself back up and they were trapped. Before they had much time to comment on that, they fell.

The fall was fast, but not scary. Alvyn, still not convinced that this place wasn't a dream, said, "Oh darn."

They fell for some time, and Alvyn managed to reach out and grab Kalgar's shoulders, riding on his back. Finally, they came to a giant opening where everything was different, and familiar. Like the Reverie, the pit was limitless, but here, everything was loud, dark, and there were millions of tortured souls everywhere.

"There it is." Kalgar said, realizing the ground, or whatever it was, would soon be upon them.

"Think you could aim for, I don't know, a fat guy?" Alvyn suggested.

Doing what he could, which was absolutely nothing, Kalgar and Alvyn crash-landed onto a giant, obese, dead man, whose shouts were as loud as any other. Beside him was a man in a foppish top hat, whose body was split in twain. Everyone stood up, the fall hadn't killed Kalgar or Alvyn, and hadn't made the dead men any prettier.

Up ahead, about 100 metres away, there was a grand stage, and just like last time, Tong was chained up, blood dripping from him, while a speaker was shouting.

"Who brought us here?"

"WHITEHELM!" the crowd shouted.

"Who owes us?"


'Yes, come forward, tortured souls, take your piece!"

And in a cacophony of shouts, the crowd lurched forward, grabbing pieces of Tong's flesh. He seemed to have an endless supply, but each piece taken brought fresh pain.

Alvyn slipped into the crowd, still carrying some weapons from Kalgar. With a grace touching both talent and practice, Alvyn ducked, weaved, timed his approach, and slipped through the crowd, making his way to the stage.

Less gracefully, but almost as effectively, Kalgar shoved, punched, elbowed, and shouldered his way toward Tong.

Once within throwing range, Alvyn loosed two handaxes. Flipping end over end, one hit the speaker in the face, the other hit a tortured soul who was feeding off Tong. Both lurched, but barely seemed to feel it.

Kalgar called out for Kord's help, and heard familiar rumbling, but it was distant. Smashing his feet, he roared, sending a shockwave into the crowd, causing those nearby to be thrown to their knees.

Just then a voice was heard. A shrill "Nooooooooo!" went over the crowd, and Alvyn and Kalgar looked up to the see the dead woman they had seen before, the last time they were here. Wearing a nightgown, her body sliced from neck to navel, she stood before Tong; it was her turn to feast.

In a whisper louder than anything else, she said, "You don't have to be Victor, just know that we loved each other." And, taking something from herself, some essence, she punched it into Tong's heart.

"What are you doing!?" the speaker roared, and a wave of compassion swept over the crowd. Alvyn and Kalgar realized that standing amongst the innocent were former Edge-bearers and they looked horrified and angry. The rest of the crowd, the majority, stopped their roaring, and looked almost relieved. Reaching inside themselves, they offered up their own life-force. Here, for timeless ages, they had known only hate, only suffering, but now they understood. Victor had been the victim of his own malice, and the crowd found that they could forgive him. As they raised their hands, they faded away to nothing and in a swirl, reality unfolded, broke, and was remade again.

Kalgar woke up in his tent. Sweating, smelling of the dead, he was still wearing full scale armour. Looking outside, he noticed Tong on the ground. "Tong?"


"You alive?" Alvyn called.


"I hate you." Alvyn said, and went back to bed.

Alvyn slept most of the day.

Later in the afternoon, Tong approached Kalgar. "I know we've been through a lot, but maybe we should get going."

"Alvyn's still sleeping."

"Yeah, but he's small, we could pick him up."

"Nope." Alvyn called out.

"Well, I guess so, he weighs like nothing." Kalgar said.

"I can hear you, jerks, I'm not going."

"He's like the size of a bed roll, we could roll him up and..."

"Piss off, I'm not going anywhere."


"Look, we just got back from gay monk heaven, and through the pits of your hell, I'm taking a day off."

"Hey! Look, the Reverie is NOT gay monk heaven!"

Kalgar chuckled, "How would you know, are you an expert?"

"No, I..."

"Oh, so you're saying you don't support gay monks, or are you saying they can't go to heaven?"

"You're putting words in my mouth..."

More chuckling, Kalgar and Alvyn were having too much fun.

"Oh, you guys, psha!" And Tong stormed off.

Crossing the mountains which divided Cyfandir, the party had to deal with snow, blocked trails, and other such detours. At one point, high on a ridge, Tong stopped the group, hearing the sound of marching in the distance.

Focusing, Kalgar picked it up as well. It was very, very precise. "Adamantina troops. And warforged at that. We should get away from here. Each one of those could probably take us and we're a man down, sorry Alvyn."

Raising an eyebrow at that, Alvyn urged they move back, he would scout out what he could.

Coming back, he said there were 11 troops, 9 in a 3 by 3 formation, two in the reserve.

"One of them was likely not a machine. The helmets they wear are to confuse the enemy into not knowing which is the captain. Sorry about what I said there but..."

"Yeah yeah, I can't cast magic, I get it, but I'm working on it."

"We should go, machine soldiers, I don't like it." Tong wrapped his cheeks in his robe, and continued down the ridge.

Skirting through the country of Cupro uneventfully, they made it back to the edge of the Dragon's Waste. Sand whipped them constantly, and Alan complained more than once. Kalgar took turns trying to shelter the horse from the sand. It was a nice but futile gesture.

Walking along the Adamantina wall, they heard a familiar voice. "Hey, hey guys!"

Looking up, they saw, up in one of the towers, a warforge with a dented headpiece.

"Hey! It's Busted!" Alvyn called out.

"Faulty." Kalgar said.

"That's what I said."

Just then, a big bag was thrown off the wall and hit the ground. It was full of pancakes. It seems that Faulty had been baking ever since they left, waiting for them to come back.

"Hey! Anything interesting happen here lately?" Kalgar called up.

"Nope. What about you?"

"Oh, you know, war is everywhere."

"Really? I didn't know, I've been here."

"We should go, we shouldn't dally." Tong advised.

In as concise of a manner as possible, Alvyn provided the exposition. When he was done, he asked, "Has anyone come around looking for a report?"

"Yeah...20 years ago."

Kalgar chirped in, "You need to go on vacation."

"What?" Faulty and Tong said in unison.

"A time off work, a time you're not working."

"No!" Tong hissed at his friends.

Looking incredibly confused, Faulty said, "But, who would watch the walls?"

"How about these guys?" Kalgar said, pointing toward the giant golems standing guard.

"We're not doing this. He needs to stay here. As the ancient scroll says, 'Never make a deal with a machine man.' Ting Tang Wong Gong clearly said, "Don't make deal with metal man, they don't know what money is, they eat it, don't do it!"

"Hmm, come, come closer, slowly!" Faulty shouted.

Tong sat upon the sand, Kalgar said he would do it. Taking a step, nothing happened. Taking another, the golem nearest him, still many yards away, shuffled off some sand, and came to life. Its massive shoulders lurched and it began to rise.

"Move back! Move back! Move back!" Faulty called out.

Kalgar did, and the machine man settled down.

"Hmm, hold on, I'll be right back." Faulty ran off, and returned with a squirrel.

"Where did you get that?"

"Back here, there are some trees." and with that, he threw the squirrel off the edge.

Landing softly in the sand, the squirrel was blasted with sand and did not look happy. It took a few steps toward the group, turned, and took a few steps toward the wall. The golem lurched again, raised a foot and stomped on the squirrel.

"Listen you! That's life you're dealing with! You can't just play around with it!" Tong was red-faced now.


"You know, life?"

Faulty dropped another squirrel, testing the golem.

"So, what do you think, Al, think we should take him with us?"

"Yeah, why not?"

"You can't be serious!? You want to give it freedom. That's a bad idea."

"He looks strong, he could be helpful."

"You give it freedom, you give it rights, it has no life, it has no regard for life. This is wrong."

"Yeah Kalgar, he could be useful, and plus, if he's not, we could take him apart."

"Yes! He should come with us!" Tong chipped in, excited by this prospect.

"Hey, Faulty, come on down, you can join us, if you'd like."

Jumping down from the tower, he walked toward the party. Up close, he was pretty impressive. Completely covered in metal, he stood over 7 feet tall. His front plate used to be black, with inlays of gold, but hundreds of years of staring at the desert had blasted it away. His back plate, in contrast, looked brand new.

"Look! Before we go anywhere, you are not to make a deal with me, or anyone else, you hear me!" Tong leaned in close.

"I understand."

"Do you eat?"


"Me neither!" Tong marched off.

As they continued on their journey, Kalgar asked Faulty many questions, about Adamantina, about warforged.

At one point he asked, "I wonder what powers it."

Alvyn stepped over and in a barrage of techno-babble, he explained. Through the haze, Kalgar caught words like quantum singularity, arcane power, rotational torque, and finally Kalgar held up a hand and said, "A wind which never stops, I get it, he'll run forever."

Not too far into their walk, Faulty, whose gaze had never altered from the western desert said, "I wonder what's out there."


"Besides that."

"A dragon."

"Yeah, but other than that."

"No one knows, no one's been out there."

"Oh, now you're curious! That's just great. Stupid, machine man." Tong grumbled.

"That's why it's so exciting. What could be out there?"

Alvyn suggested, "Maybe you should go find out!"

"What, yes! Machine man, you should go, find out! Yeah!" Tong's tact had struck again.

"Okay." Faulty said, his expressionless face looking excited.

"Go find out what's out there, and then come tell us. Find a populated area, find someone with that symbol on that card I gave you and say, 'My clock is broken, it seems to be 10 minutes to midnight.'  if they respond with, 'the hour does not grow that late, come, let us wind that clock' then tell them Alvyn sent you and tell them what you know.

"I understand. Goodbye."

And with that, Faulty walked off toward the desert.

A couple of weeks later, the party arrived on the outskirts of the temple of the Canitian monks. Before they got too close, Tong could tell something was wrong.

"Normally, the monks clear this land of weeds, daily. But the grass has overgrown here."

Nearing the temple, they heard and saw no one. Alvyn suggested they avoid the front door and take a secret passage.

"Yes, of course, there's a path up and around a tree over here." Tong said, leading them toward it.

Tying Alan to a tree, Kalgar watched as Alvyn strode past the tree, to Tong's shock.

"Alvyn, what are you doing? The path is here?"

"That secret entrance? Man, everybody knows about that entrance. I'm talking about this one."

Alvyn began digging in the dirt.

"My Master told me we were never to dig in this part of the garden oh..."

Alvyn had cleared some dirt revealing a large metal door, leading down into the ground. Kalgar lit a torch and handed it to Alvyn, Tong followed, and Kalgar sealed the door up from the inside.

Following the tunnel, they arrived in a storage room inside the temple. As they had seen from the outside, the temple was impressively large, and was built into the hillside, resembling a large, inverted pyramid. The base levels, where they were now, were also the smallest floors.

"This is where they store the extra special herbs and...ALVYN!"

"What?" Alvyn said, red Canitian rice spilling from his hands and face."

"That rice is over 500 years old!"

"That would explain why it tastes so bad. Come on!"

Looking around, they found no one on this floor.

"This is very strange, maybe they're upstairs, there's a training room up there, and monks train daily up there."

Leading the way, Tong kicked in a door, and still found no one.

"This doesn't make any sense."

Climbing higher in the temple, they finally came upon people, of the dead variety. Lying on the floor, dead and rotten, were many members of the Canitian monkhood.

"No! This can't be!" Tong raced around the room, each body recognized brought a new source of pain to his lips. But, he could not find Ting Tang Wong Gong.

"Maybe he escaped?" Kalgar suggested.

Alvyn made his way over to a door at the far end of the room. Tong, more collected, grabbed a chain with a hook on the end and was approaching the bodies. Kalgar had drawn his katana and was checking the other doors. Alvyn grabbed a mirror from his pouch and checked the room adjacent.

He noticed no one inside, and a large object standing alone in the room. Moving inside, he saw a 5 foot long log of some kind. Surrounded in jewels, it had an odd inlay of gold, or golden energy. It had handles along it and some spikes. Alvyn gingerly lifted it from its base and was happy to find that the temple didn't start collapsing as he did so.

Back in the other room, Kalgar was checking the other doors. Tong was lowering the chain to the bodies and as he did so, blue, spectral energy rose from the dead and was absorbed and released via the chain. As Tong did so, a tattoo with a pupil-less eye, glowed and a blue eye appeared in the centre of it.

Kalgar then noticed a foot, lurking around one of the doors. Lowering his shoulder, he charged the door, knocking the lurker off-balance. Pointing his sword, he noticed that it was Alia the Stubborn, the Canitian monk they had met at the Great Hunt, who had taken down a large creature with a single attack.

"What are you doing here?" She asked.

"What are you doing here? Kalgar asked.


"How long have you been here?"

"A few days. While out east, I felt something very wrong and knew I had to come back. When I got here, the damage had already been done, so I meditated in this room."

"For a few days?"


"Into the next room, let's go." Kalgar kept his sword drawn on her.

"Tong? I find the Stubborn."

Tong whirled around, the chained hook back on the wall, and was relieved and confused at Alia's presence.

"What are you doing here?" He asked.

"She claims she felt something wrong, so she came back. When she got here, this was already done and she's been meditating since."

Tong studied her face, asked her a few questions and said that he believed her.

"Fine. Stay here, I'm going to talk to Alvyn." Putting his sword away, he looked at Alia, "And if you're lying, I'll rip your guts out with my bare hands."

As Kalgar approached the door, it swung open, revealing Alvyn holding the log.

Before Kalgar had a chance to react, Tong raced across the room and started shouting, punching Alvyn in the face.

"What are you doing!? You should NEVER touch that! Those are the sacred scrolls!"

Kalgar pulled Tong off Alvyn who, through a broken nose said, "How important are these to you?"

"They are the scrolls of my order, they are of utmost importance."

"Are you sure? Lately, you haven't been yourself, haven't shown much value in your order."

"No, you're right. But...these were my people. They showed me my path, and I walk it gladly. Now they are gone. I...I'm all that's left."

Alia walked over and said, "Not all, you're not alone."

"Tong, your people are gone, but their lessons live on, through these scrolls and through you!"

Taking the scrolls, he said, "You're right. I have been shown the way, now it is time I walk it. My final lesson was one I never thought I would learn, to come back to my people after defeating my curse. Master Wong Gong is gone, but, he said the final lesson was here..."

Tong ran his hand alone the edge of the log, it pulsed blue and gold, and lit up his arm. As he ran his hand over the symbols on the scroll log, the corresponding symbol lit up on his body. He opened one compartment, revealing a single scroll among thousands.

Reading aloud, "All weapons are tools, all tools are weapons! I...I knew this lesson! He taught it to me, it is meant to be. I am the one, the one to restore and lead the Canitian monks."

"How about the Cyfandir monks? Maybe the order is wherever the scrolls are" Alvyn suggested.

"Yes! World monks! That is it exactly. I will carry the scrolls, in my hands and in my heart. I will restore what has been taken."

"Are you prepared for that type of commitment, for that choice?"

"Yes, it is the will of Ioun to show me the way, and I now can choose my path, and I choose this path." And whirling the scroll log around, he slammed it into the ground shouting, "Codex Caduceus!" A blast of light shone out in all directions, each ray of light spelling a different word.

Kalgar asked Tong what they should do with the bodies. Responding that the body was just an empty husk, Kalgar, Tong, Alvyn, and Alia disposed of them. Packing up, Alia said she would come with them, at least until she decided what she was going to do.

The journey south to Hyacintho was long, and uneventful. Kalgar spent much of his time training and working Alan, trying to learn how to canter, gallop, and maneuver the horse with ease. Alan was always excited to work up a sweat, but sometimes had a mind of his own, which differed from Kalgar's. Still, a Canitian fruit, or Cuproan apple went a long way.

Tong let his hair grow and by the time they reached Hyacintho, it had become shoulder length, and his beard was quite impressive.

Reaching the border of the country, Kalgar studied the sky. He had heard much of this country during his time in Aes. Learning that they were zealot creatures, and wild, he found the clouds quite odd. All along the border, there was a line of clouds, darker than usual. Kalgar had spent much time trying to understand and predict the weather for his life at sea, and found that these clouds made no sense. Bordering with the desert, there shouldn't be such a concentration of cloud cover and not so ordered within the border of a country.

As they made their way in, the party noticed that the weather seemed controlled. Here and there were spots of sunshine, which only shone for a short, consistent period of time. The buildings had brass rods on the rooftops which, when struck with lightning, would light up the lights on the nearby streets. Even the people seemed to view the sunlight with contempt, clearly showing themselves to be happier under the clouds.

"This is Rayden's work!" Kalgar said.

He had revealed reservations about this country all along the trip. He knew that the people here have always worshipped Rayden, and that he worried about that.

"Rayden is not a god, and yet it acts like one. Hyacintho's people worship him, their entire nation is built around him. They depend on that too much. This is wrong. Strength must be tested, and weakness is its own punishment. The people are weak for relying on Rayden, and whatever he has in store for Hyacintho, I distrust it."

Kalgar had done a lot of thinking alone the way. Much was happening in the world and he had the idea that there was more going on than they even had ideas about. What was the long game? Who was playing? What was the prize? Kalgar saw much that needed to be done and felt that Hyacintho might be a bit of a testing ground.

While other countries were already at war, Hyacintho and Aes were not yet, officially. Two of the most powerfully naval countries in the world, the two had been fighting back and forth for 1000 years. But open war was not upon them, not yet. Kalgar hoped that they would make a difference, turn the tide, and maybe prevent war from ravaging these countries.

"Don't you like fighting though?" Tong interjected at one of Kalgar's musings.

"I like a good challenge. It is in challenge that we find our limits and push beyond them. Battle offers many a challenge, and not all of them mortal in nature. Kord is the god of battle, praising those who fight to better themselves, even their enemy. Bane is the god of war, and death and destruction is inevitable in war."

Making their way through the country, the people seemed generally excited about something big which was coming up. Not knowing too much, the people had only the idea that some big event was happening and that they would be showing Aes who was boss soon. Rumours were rampant.

As they reached the capital, near the southern end of the country, the party began scouting out for krakken. Looking for a holding area large enough for it, they found only ships near the harbour. Standing out among them was one very large, 5 masted ship with the name Rayden written across it in Common.

"That ship could certainly hold a krakken in its hold. Look at all the personnel loading on board." Kalgar mused.

"Different uniforms, different insignias, that's not normal." Alvyn pointed out.

"No, it's not. Kord's blood, the sailors are terribly undisciplined. Look at that! See that knot! Takes way too long, should be a half sheep-shank with an overhand twist, gah. And him! Clearing sent to do business but is chatting with that civilian. Plus, the supercargo is having to yell his orders TWICE just to get things done. No wonder these people need a krakken."

"Speaking of which, we should get aboard somehow and see if the krakken is there."

"Maybe we should take some uniforms?" Tong suggested.

Wandering over to the nearest strip of taverns, they wandered around, looking as if they were trying to decide. It seems that Hyacintho was much more strict about its drinking that Aes. A three drink limit, and bar fights were greatly reduced.

Waiting until a few sailors came outside, Kalgar got their attention and knocked them out rather quickly. Kalgar slipped the uniform over his shoulders, feeling an odd sense of deja vu.

Alia made a face and told them to turn around.

"Modesty should have been one of the things you lost at the temple." Tong said, stripping completely naked and donning the uniform.

"I wasn't there as long as you were", she said.

Disguises in place, Alvyn jumped in Kalgar's backpack, realizing that gnomes would be less than welcome aboard ship. The security was as lax as the rest of things, Kalgar noticed with distaste, and they made their way aboard easily. Going down into the hold, they noticed no large cages, just cargo.

"Where could it be?" Tong asked.

"In the water I guess? But how do they keep it around?" Kalgar asked.

Going back on deck, Tong took a position up in the crows-nest, and Kalgar made his way around the ship with confidence. While the crew was a mixed bag of sailors, from different units, composed of human and cobalt blue dragonborn, the captain was a severe looking man. Seasoned, standing tall, he looked more prepared for battle than anyone else on board. Standing with his hands at his sides, he wore but a single piece of jewellery. While many other soldiers donned gold pendants with symbols of Rayden on them, the captain's was large, and featured a krakken on it.

What happened next, the party was not prepared for.

To be continued...

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