Friday, 2 September 2016

The Long Game: On the Way to Deep Watch Bay

Welcome back to The Long Game! We've had a bit of a hiatus but now we're back! When last we left our adventurers, they had just faced off against a fragment of Tong's past, a fragment which came in the form of a bald, female, monk on fire who left Aes' Windle's Landing in ruin. Let's find out how our party progressed after something like that.
Dallas Kasaboski

Standing aboard the Shockrosi, still docked at Windle’s Landing, Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar surveyed the scene. Buildings were burning, and not just buildings. The townspeople who were left began to wake up out of a daze, looking around as the reality of the situation began to settled in. This included the guards.

“Did we get the goods we needed?” Alvyn asked.

“Yes, it was stored aboard ship during the battle.” Kalgar replied.

“Then what are we still doing here. Let’s go!”

“No. We need to help these people. We need to make sure these people will recover.” Kalgar leaned heavily on the railing.

“Look, they’re going to pin this on us, which, well, it is kind of our fault, Tong!” Alvyn looked up at the constantly meditating monk.

“I agree with Kalgar. We need to help these people.” Tong said, arms crossed.

“We have to help them, we cannot leave another wasteland again.” Kalgar said.

“They’re strong. They’re Aesians. Let’s make like a tree and leaf, we have bigger fish to fry.” Alvyn said, taking off his hat.

“True, but-”

“Come on, it was a nautical metaphor, I’m working with you here, Kalgar!”

Kalgar eyed the scene again. The guards were mobilizing, beginning to help people. Kalgar knew they would survive, and they would efficiently begin rebuilding. They were strong. Kalgar could not help them right now, and especially not if he were behind bars.

Tong moved over to Kalgar, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Alvyn is an unfeeling creature, but he’s not incorrect. When these people come out of their daze, they may try to attack us. You can heal the core of this, Kalgar, by returning to your destiny.”

Realizing the harried wisdom of his comrades, Kalgar added this to the list of things he would need to fix. “Let’s go.” And he began giving orders to push off.

Just then, Tong knocked the Codex Caduceus onto the planks of the ship, creating a plume of smoke which congealed into a small altar. Behind which, the forms of volunteers became clear; an old woman, and a small dwarven boy. Tong gently whispered to them, “Administer for the dead. We must leave.”

The journey to Deep Watch Bay would still take a few days, and the crew of the Shockrosia did their best to prepare for what lay ahead. 

As if that ever helped. Kalgar thought, looking over maps, trying to recall what he could about the outpost.

No plan ever survives contact with the enemy. Alvyn thought, in the bowels of the ship, stocking up on alchemical items.

Meanwhile, Tong was kneeling in his cabin, surrounded by dense smoke, which the crew had taken to mean he was striding through the mists of the Reverie. He sought to commune with Ting Tang Wong Gong, his former master. Tong had been looking, but what once was a loud voice of discipline, had become little more than a whisper as of late.

Finally, off in a long-forgotten corner, Tong found him. There he sat, sitting on a stool, smoking a pipe. As Tong approached, his former master looked up and said...

"Why did you cut your hair, Tong?"

And Tong said, "I was scared."

"Don't you know, fear is the dick killer! Did you ever try to make love to a bug-bear? Answer me!"

"No...uh, no Master, I have never-"

"That's because fear is destroying you, Tong. When you were released from The Edge of Sanity, the chains were removed from you body, but I can see now that the chains were not removed from your mind. Understand that there is a destiny beyond that of the temple. You still mourn for the pile of corpses that were your former students but now, and see what your lack of insight has wrought upon the world. The eradication of evil is not your destiny, because the truth is that evil cannot poison the insight of your soul. That's right, Tong zi Gong, Scroll 1, "You cannot poison a ghost!"

And with that, Tong fell to his knees, looked at his hands trembling, at the scar of Mercury's curse. And Ting Tong Wong Gong continued.

"And that, is the summation of my teaching to you. Look at your tattoos, your lessons are complete. Your curse on your back has been replaced by the blessing of insight, of Ioun itself. It has taken a lot of my energy to remain here but you of all people must know that there can be only one Mist Knight in this troubled world. You walk, pregnant with the possibility of a new temple, but that can only happen, can only be created when this scourge, the dragons carving up this land, is ridden from this earth. I leave it to you, you now have your first ability. You have the ability to create your own maneuvers, "Big Hit!" uhh, the name could use some work, it's no Scroll Deck Sutra, but come on!"

And like the opening of a long-clenched fist into an open palm, Ting Tang Wong Gong exploded into a mist and a cloud gently rises into the Astral Sea, and with that, the darkness of the Iodolawn is suddenly filled with light and clarity. 

Suddenly, the orb of smoke surrounding Tong imploded into his chest as he woke up with a start.

Beside him, Alvyn was eating an apple. "Have a good trip?"

Tong hung his head, "My Master is dead."

"Uh, yeah, I know. We were there." Alvyn said.

"No, but actually dead..."

Alvyn looked at him quizzically.  

"I am the Master now, Alvyn, what do you need to know?" Tong looked at him with new eyes.

Alvyn smiled, his teeth razor sharp and asked, "Did you eat my muffins?"

"I don't eat." Tong replied.

"Yeah, but you take things, I've seen you."

Tong leapt up, brushed off his robes, and walked away.

Alvyn called after him, "I'm just saying, I've seen you!"

On deck, Commodore Drakeswynd was busy issuing orders. 

"Dwight! Fleet report!"

"The Rogue Wind, Bilge Rat, and Aquamarine report nominal, sir."

"Excellent. Instruct them to continue weaving maneuvers as instructed. As we approach the base, they will keep their distance until I update them on the plan."

"Aye, sir."  And with the Aesian salute, Dwight scurried off to carry out the orders.


"Yes, Commodore."

"How are the crew?"

"Same as ever."

"How are the dwarves?"

"Their work is in progress, but it will take time, especially with us under way."

"Understood. And you, how is your team shaping up?"

"Still reviewing the fleet complement, narrowing down possibilities."

"Good. Continue. You've seen what we're up against. I want your ideas for improving our fleet by the time we've reached the base."

"Aye, sir." And with that, Haymitch went back below deck.

Just then, Alvyn strode above deck with some wood and rope.

"Alvyn, what are you doing?" Kalgar asked.

"I'm changing the name of our ship."

"Why? I like the name."

"Yes, but we're being hunted. The name needs to change, at least for now." Alvyn said, while tying a rope to the railing.

"Well, what did you go with?"

With a wink, Alvyn jumped off the ship, rope around his waist. He quickly fastened the new name over the old, and Kalgar could just make out the name, "Kord's Might".

"Nice, I approve." the dragonborn said.

"I thought you might." the gnome replied.

Later, Tong approached Kalgar and asked, "Kalgar, are you okay?"

"Fine." the Commodore answered.

Tong stared at him, waiting for more.

Kalgar sighed. "I've seen death before, and it was horrible what happened, but we did everything we could, and that's really the best you can do. We have to make reparations, at least I do. The sooner we shut down this program, the sooner we can turn this government around, maybe we'll get some pull, some influence, so we can start fixing things."

Tong put a hand on Kalgar's shoulder, "I want you to know that confronting that demon has shown me a personal insight that my own past is becoming less and less important to me and less important to the future and what must be done. I will not be bogged down by the 'geist of what once was, when we're talking about what must be."

Kalgar just nodded. "Very good. Thank you, Tong."

Over the next few days, the fleet did come across a few ships, most Aesian military, a couple of fishing ships desperate or crazy enough for new stock that they were this far out. As with everything, Aes' military had strict protocol concerning ship traffic. Military ships were always given the right of way, and those ships differentiated priority via the hanging of flags. Certain colours indicated a greater need or importance of mission and those ships were given priority. Kalgar, with his years of experience flew the right colours, passing by the ships with little interruption.

Alvyn, always wary, had the scoff dwarves run up the cannons on one side of the ship, hidden, but ready to broadside if necessary.

Some time in the afternoon of the 5th day, they spotted, far in the distance, two ships. Similar to flies, they were buzzing back and forth along the horizon, moving closer and farther, scouting. 

The ships were small, but they seemed to have something large mounted to them. Kalgar thought back to his years of training. Officially, as most people know, Deep Watch was a base on the north-western edge of Aes, whose mission was to keep watch of the deep ocean and the monsters that live within it. These scout ships were Interceptor-class, fitted with cannons that shot grapeshot coated in a special fluid which would burn even underwater. Kalgar relayed this to Alvyn and Tong.

"I need one." Alvyn said.

"Alvyn, you always want the latest toys." Tong said.

"Does it aim up?" Alvyn said, pointing into the air.

"You could probably make it do that." Tong replied.

"I need one. I will take any advantage against dragons."

The three smiled, as they continued watching.

"There will likely be several, 5-7 scouting the ocean, those two closer, watching the island, the outpost." Kalgar continued. Suddenly, the scout ships were gone. 
"That's strange, normally they would be greeting us by now. I think they suspect something."

"I sense no emanations. The machinations of this group are very unknown." Tong said.

"We have two options. We sail ahead, hoping to dock without problems. Or we try to hail them."

"I've never been very comfortable on the sea, so you know where I want to be." Tong si Gong continued. 

"You want to roll up, sorry, sail up, and introduce yourself. You. The dragon man with wings." Alvyn said.

"My wings fold up." Kalgar replied.

"Still, you're bulky."

Kalgar shook his head in a grin.

"What we need, are some backups. Long range artillery", the gnome pointed back at the rest of the fleet, "and immediate backup. Here's something I've been working on." Alvyn pulled out some vials and little contraptions. "These should help make frog men, who can hide under our ship, ready to attack when needed. Sound good?"

"Do we have time for that?"

"This is why we have scoff dwarves." 

Alvyn called for a meeting below deck. The ship wasn't very large, but they had made it work well for them. The mess hall, normally bustling with food and conversation, cleared out. On one side of the table, Kalgar sat, his arms crossed. On the other side, Alvyn stook on his chair, poring over a 3d map Kalgar had been able to make of the island. He had referred to maps which were old, out of date, and likely didn't include a lot of information on the base, but Alvyn could work with this.

"What's over there?" Alvyn asked, pointing to one side of the island, "We're going to want ships there."

They continued going back and forth for some time, as Tong listened fervently.

At one point, Alvyn looked up. We're going to need a signal.

Kalgar and Tong looked at each other. "For what?" Kalgar asked.

Alvyn tilted his head and looked at Tong.

"You're psionic. Can you use telepathy yet?"

"I can only speak to the followers of Ioun." 

"Fine. Find followers of Ioun among the crews."

"That may not be easy. We mostly follow Melora and Kord here in Aes." Kalgar said, with arms crossed.

"We'll see about that." Alvyn said.

At this point, Haymitch walked in, "Commodore, I have some ideas...oh,"

"Haymitch, good, I was going to call you in here. Alvyn has plans. Work with him, refine the plan, then, carry out his requests with the crews from the other ships. We're going to need specialists."

"Got it. Ouf!" He said as Alvyn turned his attention to him. 

"Haymitch, bring me three squads from the ships, give them these, and these. These are caps of water-breathing, as per that plan we discussed earlier. And these, vials of darkness."

When Alvyn finished with his plans, he climbed up on the table, jumped on Kalgar's back, and disappeared in his backpack.

The captains of the other ships looked at each other, and then back to Kalgar. The orders themselves were very strange, even more so coming from a gnome, even more so coming from a gnome that had just disappeared in their Commodore's bag.

Kalgar looked at them and said, "You have your orders."

And that's a great place to pause. Thank you all very much for reading, we're really sorry for the long gap, but with one of players moving to France, this have been a little busy.

Come back soon to discover more about our adventurers and Deep Watch Bay!

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