That Way Madness Lies

Swiftly Moves Hárbarðr's Ferry
Sigrún contemplates the cost of wisdom, and despairs.

It comes down to this: I am afraid to give the All-Father what he demands of me.

I have had visions in my dreams, I have read ancient books, I have spoken with a wise woman. I have even seen a man who I suspect is the Wanderer himself, in his guise as ferryman. All incarnations tell me that we should venture into the deep and confront this fearful beast.

But still, my doubts overwhelm me. How can one defeat a thing that one does not understand? What will we do when confronted by its strange magics? How will we speak with the strange underfolk, these Drow, who hold the secret to combating this monster? I need more information. The books collected by Otter and our new companion shed limited light on the subject, and my consultation with the wise woman a little more. But still, we stumble into those caves as blind men and women, not knowing what pitfalls befall us, what snares lie ahead.

It seems a fool’s errand, and here, my faith sputters, almost extinguished. For the first time, the Wanderer’s path is no longer clear before me, and although the All-Father himself is speaking to me, I remain divided in mind. I have no wish to venture unprepared into the Underdark.

But all the same, I fear that the All-Father is calling me to this exact purpose. He is calling me to seek information the way he sought it, and I shudder at the thought, at the pain I know is my lot. The water of Mimir’s well has a high price, and I must be willing to pay it. Must be willing to sacrifice for the knowledge the Wise One alone grants. I must be willing to go to war, to willingly submit to the pain that could indeed be my fate.

This is the only way. This is the path of the Wanderer. How I wish I could turn aside.

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Trouble is Worth Only So Much Gold

i’m doing my duty as a citizen of this land and have been hired to perform a task for the goverment. I have no doubt pristige and honor will be bestowed upon me upon completion of such a task

HA! if anyone thinks these words would leave my salty lips is dead wrong and ill be happy to enforce the dead part. i earn my respect just as any pirate through pillaging stealing drinking and of course selling slaves. i have broken every law that this… this… fuck… what is that word… goverment? yeah, every law this goverment has ever put in place, and if I havent i clearly have some work to do. i will be paid and put this money towards my own ship. soon enough i will have my own crew and we shall pillage the coast just as i have always done.

i have no doubt the woman in white is doing this for her country, but she has no idea how the world works outside of her… her… oh fuck… her world or whatever. Either way shes a pain in my ass. Shell no doubt threaten me when I try to make some extra money on the side. Shell threaten to tell whoever the fuck she thinks can control me. ill then escape back to one of the many ships that I have pillaged with and be outside the control of any authority. i have no need for her petty rules.

as for the merchant he is nothing more than a pirate who deals in “fine” goods, fucking self absorbed. He acts as though slave trading is so terrible, but in fact I bet slaves is the only thing that he doesn’t trade in. That ass sells people drugs. At least slaves can escape. If someone needs a slave, ill give ‘em what they want. People die of drugs, slaves escape (of course then ill probably sell ‘em back in, but that’s beside the point). I don’t damn them, so fuck him. The asshole will probably try and stop a lot of the things im going to try. Maybe I should friend ’im? Fuck… He doesn’t like slave trading, fuck that, but I bet him and me can make some decent cash running something on the side.

The arcane thing (fucker might not even be human anymore) just bothers me. He fucks with people for the sake of fucking with them. shit the fucker might fuck with me for no damned reason. but seeing as he doesn’t follow the rules of this shitty land maybe I can use him to my advantage. He doesn’t care much for society and neither do i. Hell, the only good thing society ever did for me was give me beer, and I have to pay for that shit. I’ll keep that Ace if I need it.

ill see if this fucking ragtag group assembled by this inept… shit what was that word again… fuckin government! Assembled by this government is even worth my time. i mean, im only getting so much gold. At least when I sell slaves im working with people who agree with me. fuck, when I sell slaves I work with people who will eventually work for me. Quitting in the middle and going back to the piers is always an option.

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The End of the Games
Otter's Story, Part One

Hail, comrade! Come, sit, drink! You have the dust of the road about you, or else I miss my guess, elsewise you paid poorly to wash the salt of the boats from such ragged clothes. You look like what’s left in a crate after the straw’s been threshed out. That is to say, not like much at all. Ha-HA!

But stay, for I’ll not have it said that Otter Sorenson, Evader of Murderers, Bane of Tax Collectors, Migraine of City Guardsmen is a tiresome host. So drink with me, and I’ll tell you a story that starts with the finish line of the footrace of Attenai…

What’s that? Why did I take the job? I don’t rightly know, brother, but for your wife’s sake I hope your patience with storytellers does not too far outstrip your stamina in the bedchamber. Now be quiet, let me speak, will you not?

As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted by One-Minute-Maarten over here, the captain summoned us with the promise of gold and prestige if we’d tracked down the ones that had been raiding those poor coastal villages north of the Games. Men hauling off more than just able-bodied slaves and wenches, mind you. Old and very young, sick and healthy alike abducted to ships with heads of wolves instead of dragons. Dark times indeed.

The woman was an incentive, ahh, aren’t they ever, brothers? Fair as dawn on a whitecloud morning, with long cornsilk hair and that figure that women who stay pampered indoors can never achieve. A shame, then, that she was a priestess of old One-Eye himself. No justice in this world for beasts or men, or men who only want to act a bit beastly, am I wrong?

Arcanists come and arcanists go, the latter usually at a good clip with a pitchfork-wielding mob behind them and several pouches of weregild to pay, but this one was something different. I could sense it from the beginning, not the bookish fools that so many are. This one would light a fire under a troll’s arse just to watch the smoke. Does that sound mad? Maybe it was, but maybe that’s what we needed.

Of the sea-dog, well, the less said the better. Pirates, and you can tell any slaver from here to the Southron Realms that Otter, son of Soren, son of Halmar back to the beginnings says so with the God of the Noble Seas as my witness, can every one of them fuck the mothers that birthed them on a crate of rotting squid, and may they catch back the siff that their fathers put there firstwise! (spits).

Good with a sword though, and I’d be a liar if I said we didn’t need that cutlass work later. For our troubles truly began, comrades, after we sailed out from Attenai the next morning at dawn…

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Before Departing

I go on this quest because it is my duty. I more than suspect that the honorable Captain Gudmund assigned me to this mission to keep my estimable comrades in hand; I have never seen a more variegated company. No, we are not even a company. We are a motley, for I could not invent a group I trust less. Not that I want to think about that.

The cunning Otter is not to be trusted. Charming he may be, and he seems to have a certain grudging respect for those of us who have taken up orders, but his is a mercenary turn of mind. I doubt that his respect would last long in the face of, say, several gold pieces. It will be interesting to discover if I am correct in this, but with this one I suspect the real chore will be in ensuring that his goals are coterminous with my own and those of the All-Father, who knows all. I pray, as always, for insight.

The slaver-pirate I trust even less. He is rash and disrespectful, and even if his sword is needed in this investigation, I would trust him no further than I could throw him (in his cheap leather armor, no less). Stolen, no doubt. It is a mark of my devotion to the Hooded One that I can willingly ally myself with such wharf trash for whatever object. I will not put up with crass insults or disrespect from that one.

I wonder whether the arcanist has all his wits about him. Not that it matters — sometimes the crazy ones are the most effective (at least with arcanists). Those of us who gain our power from one higher than us must draw it from a deeper knowledge within, whereas the arcanist must simply charm nature into doing his will. Our way is to be preferred, of course. I cannot help but pity him — he seems so out of touch with the world. Which may be exactly the point. Only time will tell.

The villagers claim that not only were the able-bodied captured and carried off, but the old and infirm as well. This hints at some dark purpose, perhaps sorcerous in nature. I pray to the All-Father that necromancy is not involved. Give me honest battle every day, and death when death is due.

Sigrún Mildr, priestess of Odin, Evil-Worker, Father of the Slain.

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