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Somarrian Hunt – Adventure Notes
June 17, 2021

The following transcript is a direct translation from the RPG session, in the player and DM's own words.
Mixed with a small dose of creative license spice from the DM filling in gaps where needed.
(*) Please forgive typoes: written and produced at Actoroke speed.


Player Characters

Darrell Judd “Torgrum Thorsvoldsomsen” – Dwarven - Barbarian
Denise Robinson “Claw” – Wilder elf – Druid
Gabriel Mondo Vega “Armando Equis Blake” – Human – Bard
Patrick Keeffe “Calsimeer Alderman” – Human – Cleric
XiaoWen Wu “Pansy Lightfoot” – Halfling – Rogue.

Non-Player Characters

Aggee (Guide)
Brandi (Proprietor of the Gnome Trader)
Brigthwyna (Demigoddess of Arawn; Mistress of the Hunt)
Cosmo the Magnificent (Wizard proprietor of Cosmo’s)
Hajra (hunt referee, Pentavalo demonologist)
Jfray (Guide)
Rashidi (Hunt referee, Pentavalo demonologist)
Scathach (Priest of Arawn; Hunt official)
Tax’ix (Taxian psionic interrogator)
Tofu (Flying Circus Patriarch)



Armando, Calsimeer, Claw, Pansy, and Torgrum



Previously on Somarrian Hunt…

Scathach pointed to the Ballbarians, “For you Ballbarians, the hunt is over!”

Now on Somarrian Hunt…


TIMESTAP: 11:47 – 22:29

Gravers Dig

After the fallout of Rashidi being kidnapped by Sagacious and his crony goblin Sally, Scathatch and Hajra were escorting the Ballbarians back to Gravers Dig.

Hurried, Scathatch and Hajra flew at the upper end of horse speed, forcing the riders on horseback to gallop. Pansy on her short-legged pony struggled to keep pace. Occasionally, an irritated Scathatch would stop and wait impatiently for Pansy to catch up.

“Damn-it, doesn’t someone have a haste spell to throw on that halfling,” She yelled at the group.

During one of these brief stops Scathach confronted Torgrum, “Give me the Bag of Holding”

“Why?” He snarled, off put by her demand. “Why do you need it?”

“I’ve already had one bag go missing. I’m not going to lose a second. Now hand it over. Besides, if you want points for the kills, they are in the bag. I will be the one to count them.”

“Okay,” he said handing the bag over.

Scathach was in a foul contemptuous mood. Not at all at her best. A veritable bee in her bonnet. Sorry, that’s not intended to be a Pansy joke.

“You mentioned something about Serakka,” Torgrum directed his question at Scathatch.


“What happened?" Torgrum demanded in his typical gruff dwarven elocution.

“What about her?”

“I don’t know. I heard you say something about Serakka and Brigthwyna getting in a tiff.”

“Oh that," Scathatch said dismissively, "this Serakka, of Clan Cloudforge. She stormed up to Brigthwyna demanding rent. I don’t know if I should say much about it. Let’s just say, Brigthwyna got really pissed at Serakka."

Hajra interjected, “I think we’re going to find out. Everyone back at the resort is talking about it.”

“Serakka has been taken prisoner,” Scathach continued, “Her men captured…"

“What about that big stone ship they came in?” Torgrum asked.

“Yeah, well, that didn’t help them at all.”

“Huh. Hmmm.” Torgrum mulled over the news of his cousin.

As their journey continued, a spot appeared on the horizon and quickly grew. Soon they could see it was a small flying creature, a bird, no wait… a dragon, baby dragon. Scathach and Hajra seemed unconcerned, preoccupied with getting back to Gravers Dig fast.

Small at first and then bigger. The creature, which turned out to be a cute and friendly delivery Gekkon brought a message to Armando.

Gekkon’s are Chaldea’s message go-to news service, a significant step up from carrier pigeons.

Gekkon currier

It hovered close to Armando with a scroll visible in its claws. Anticipation builds as the Gekkon hoping/expecting Armando would take the scroll.

Armando gave the gekkon a biscuit as an initial tip for a job well done and took the scroll. The creature immediately gulped down the morsel and waited for me.

Armando nonplussed, handed the scroll directly to Calsimeer.

Cal took the scroll, unsure why a scroll delivered to Armando would be given to him. He was the unofficial party leader. “Sure,” he said. Shrugged and opened it.

Calsimeer read the scroll loudly, doing his best Cosmo the Magnificent impression, “Armando, what kind of sword would you prefer for the singing sword? A rapier? A long sword? A Khopesh? What? Write your answer on the line below and give this message back to the gekkon. Tips are appreciated.

Cal tossed the scroll back to Armando.

Armando circled LONG SWORD and handed the scroll back to the gekkon latched onto it tightly. For a brief few seconds bard and gekkon stared at each other. The gekkon continuing to hover, expecting… anticipating… hopeful?

Remembering the note, tips are appreciated, Armando gave the gekkon another biscuit, which it promptly consumed. Happy for a treat, but remained as before, expecting something else.

“I think he wants something shinier,” Torgrum said, rubbing his finger and thumb together, the universal symbol for currency.

“Ohhh,” Armando dug through his coin purse and handed over ten casino chips. The little critter’s eyes sparkled, and he gave an approving chirp. He placed the chips safely in a leather pouch connected to a harness around his chest. Task complete, zipped away and out of sight.

The next few hours were hot and boring as the sun drove higher in the sky. By late morning, they approached Gravers Dig and the Lodge.



The Hunting Lodge

Scathach marched off hurriedly on a mission to report to Brigthwyna and other hunt officials what had transpired to Rashidi , leaving the Ballbarians waiting in the Mead Hall.

Hajra lingered, keeping an eye on the hunters making sure they didn’t leave or get into trouble.

After a couple of hours of Ballbarians idle boredom Scathach returned with Tax’ix, a Taxian psionicess.

Taxians are an elder species of mentalists from the celestial age, who originated from a cosmic transcendent reality in deep space far across the universe in a sphere of higher consciousness. Their empire was ancient long before the Pearl Universe created the age of magic or spawned the evolution of gods.

Taxians are not indigenous to Chaldea and very few are known to exist beyond those few who are employed by the Empire, and some of the larger kingdoms, elite guilds, and ultra-wealthy.

The most notorious are the taxians in Saratof belonging to the Psionic Syndicate linked and controlled by the imperial security council. An arm of the government used as a terror cudgel on important government procedural investigations to uncover plots and high-stake mysteries.

Taxians are like demons. They are universally despised and innately feared. This aura of fear, (almost supernatural in its thoroughness), is baked into the human psyche from birth. It is a spontaneous revulsion one can feel deep in their moral fiber, at their core, in their very soul.

Demons and taxians aren’t however related, not even remotely. The horror they evoke is the same though. No one wants to see or in any way interact or be touched by a demon. The same itchy pensive feelings are had with taxians. No one in their right mind wants a taxian drilling into their thoughts and cognitive functions.

A taxian mind probe can and often does fundamentally change a victim’s thoughts and personality. A violation so personal and vile, it can flay the mind, rupture thoughts, and even kill the subject.

Scathach appeared with a taxian interrogator in tow.



“I need one of you to volunteer to be interrogated,” Scathach said. “Or, I can choose.”

Torgrum immediately stepped forward, hand raised. I’m your huckleberry, he thought. “Sure”. Taking one for the team was second nature.

Scathach nodded to the Taxian, “Tax’ix”.

The Taxian shrugged, “okay”.

Taxi’ix was a bipedal humanoid. At a distance, or in low light, or in a dark alley, he could have easily passed or been mistaken for human. Up close—he was not human.


Taxi’ix was lean to the point of emaciated. His skin was light, almost milky, maybe even somewhat translucent. He had no hair—anywhere—completely bald to the point of sleek. He was dressed in glossy, tight fitting black bodysuit with red accents. Possibly made from leather, but was more likely a synthetic material, maybe even enchanted or psionically hardened.

The anorexic chalky skin over bones gave Tax’x a haunted, almost undead appearance and was enough to make any sane person run screaming.

That should have been enough for Torgrum to reconsider volunteering.

As Scathatch and the taxian approached, the Ballbarians came to understand, there was more, much more to his horror freakshow ensemble.

An undulating black and green blob with a hard exoskeleton twitched over his shoulder.

When Tax’ix turned to speak with Scathatch our heroes saw it for what it was—a C’tharki.

A large plague insect indigenous to Marn, but not indigenous to Chaldea. Because of their close ties to taxians, people believed the C’tharki were Cthulhuian lifeforms also from the celestial age and had migrated across the stars to Chaldea. Possibly with taxians or of their own accord.

Armies of C’tharki were rumored to live in Marn’s deep jungle and every so often millions more would hatch and move like locusts upon the land consuming everything.

Adults could grow to three and four feet in length, many the size of a large dogs or even larger.

One of these insidious things, rode on Tax’ix.

The C’tharki was three-foot long and squat. It looked rather like a giant stag beetle with green banded metallic carapace. Six black legs with rows of spurs, (each one in succession larger than the next), were wrapped and clung tightly to the taxians abdomen and pelvis. It clung desperately like a drowning victim holding on to a rescuer. The embrace was excruciatingly tight to the point it was impossible to tell where Tax’ix ended and where the insect began. In truth, they lived in perfect symbiotic union—host and symbiote.

But who was the host and who the symbiote?

Two black serrated mandibles scissor twitched around Tax’ix’s neck. From the front, the mandibles appeared to be a torc necklace or an elaborate Triton crustacean carcanet. From the back, oh gods, from the back--

The Ballbarians shuddered.

Some felt the need to wretch and looked away.

The mandibles jutted out from the side of a large ichor dripping maw that looked like it was about to eat the Taxian. Each nervous twitch, to the offbeat pulse of a heart, the mandibles produced a high-pitched stridulation chirp, something between a grasshopper and a finger caught between a harp string.

At any moment Torgrum expected the C’tharki to decapitate the taxian. Were they friends? Master and pet? Or something else?

Eight clear tubes ran from the insect’s square head to the taxian’s upper spinal column and directly into the brain stem through the back of his skull. Cerebrospinal fluid enriched with effervescent blue psionic energy pulsed through the tubing, the Ctharki intravenously sending nourishment, stimulating the taxian in symbiotic union of minds.

If Torgrum thought “by interrogation” he’d be cooped up in a tiny room for a couple of hours, hot with little or no ventilation and no water to cool his thirst. Maybe a couple of hunt officials playing good cop, bad cop at his expense. Huh?

Nuh-huh. Nope. Torgrum had a date with mental terror.

Scathatch motioned to Torgrum to follow, motioning to the others, “The rest of you can wait here if you like. Calsimeer, you need to stay. As the party leader I’m going to need to talk to you later.

Later below grade somewhere, under the lodge in rough hewn catacombs, an odd trio marched through low torch light.

Scathatch followed by the taxian, escorted Torgrum to an interrogation room.

Torgrum knew he was innocent. Knew every piece of information he and his friends had given Scathatch relating to the Rashidi’s disappearance had been the truth.

Despite that he was nervous. But who wouldn’t be nervous with the constant water torture chirp coming from that alien beetle thing.

The interrogation room was non-descript as non-descript gets, four stone walls and an iron door. A lone squat square chair sat in the middle of the room bolted to the ground with iron fasteners. Everywhere there were thick leather straps through iron ringlets. This wasn’t going to be as much of an interrogation as torture.

The chair was big enough to hold an ogre and Torgrum diminutive size made him look almost comical when he took a seat.

Torgrum beckoned Scathatch to tie him down as that was clearly the intention. As the straps were placed around his arms and legs, he tested them to see how serious they were about this interrogation.

“I had an ogre in here once,” Scathatch said offhandedly as she cinched up a strap around his neck. Nearly tight enough to cut off circulation and breath.

They were serious.

Torgrum closed his eyes, head lulled against the straps and began to snore, (which was no lull at all since he had straps cinched tight both around his neck and forehead). The fake snores were more from boredom than fatigue or sleep.

Tax’ix scraped a stool across the roughhewn floor and took a seat. For a few moments he studied his subject and then pressed a solid index finger between Torgrum’s eyes, where his 3rd eye would be.

Torgrum took a couple of snapping turtle lurches at the finger, more out of jest than animosity.

“I like ‘em feisty,” Taxi’ix smiled. “I will only tell you this just once. The harder you resist, the harder it will be for you.”

Two blue gossamer-thin tendrils slowly extended out of his finger, like eels probing out from their din searching for prey. They cobra danced weaving and then lurched striking at Torgrum’s temples.

“Yeah-yeah!” Torgrum smirked and then fainted.

It wasn’t so much fainting as it was a cloud passing over his awareness. Like how he imagined teleporting. One second here, next second someplace else and then disorientated. Like waking up and forgetting where you were.

Torgrum materialized in a mind chamber.

His eyes darted about taking in the new locale.

A SUDDEN ACUTE AWARENESS struck like lightning. His perception of mind and thought changed in that instance. Expanded to new understanding. He could walk and talk, see, hear, feel, and smell in this place. All senses shrieking on high alert. Pay attention to me, they were saying.

I’m inside my head, he thought. He intuitively understood this three-dimensional space was his mind, his thoughts, and memories. An elaborate illusion, a mental image both real and artificial.

Torgrum's Mental Foyer

His mind, at least this part of his mind, the space he now physically occupied was an underground dwarven public house—a bar, a tavern. In Hesse it was called a rathskeller. In Andalus a bodega. It was a chaotic sum of all bars, many of which he’d frequented in his youth and others that only existed in his imagination – what he’d fantasized about one day possibly building. The thought had once crossed his mind, it might be fun to own a bar.

So had his mind thought, so here it was.

His mind bar was also populated, (or polluted as the case may be), with patrons. Alternate versions of himself. How he had been. How he was. How he wished he was. How he actually was.

An older version of himself, a veteran Torgrum, a hundred years his senior, tended bar pouring drinks for other Torgrums. The other patrons a small army of Torgrum clones sat at the bar, drinking, eating and chatting.

The bartender was bald as bald got; vivid tattoos festooned his shiny scalp decades of meaningful ink. His beard was waist length, silver gray and matted from blood and meat gristle.

“I’m inside my head,” the bartender said. Reflecting back the thought he’d just thought. And others said these words too, some just low murmurs, others hoisting their drinks in salute.

Elements of the bar’s architecture and décor appeared substantive and physical. He noted this because other parts were ghost like and out of phase. Some objects he could interact with, like the main bar and the warehouse inventory of alcohol stacked floor to ceiling—a grand collection of the world’s finest spirits.

Every bottle and cask heightened to perfect clarity.

Of course, he thought, alcohol would and should naturally be the prime focus here in his mind, in his bar.

Other parts of the room were less focus, dark, faded, and fragmented. The room seemed to shift size and dimension. First, he thought it was square, then elongated rectangle. Behind him was a set of arches, leading… to where they led gave him a headache and he quickly glanced away.

The room swam distorted, like looking through a heat wave at an oasis. Bed spins without the bed. Was he drunk? Should he sit, he wondered. Was this feeling natural for this setting? He was after all frequently drunk in such places. And maybe his mind was telling him something.

A kind of eerie clickety clack chirp sound brought his mind to focus.

“Welcome to the chaotic mess that is your mind,” came a voice from his right.

Torgrum’s head swiveled to find Tax’ix and that gawd awful bug standing next to him. The insect’s saw like mandibles continued to clickety clack chirp and for a second Torgrum that the bug was looking at him.

A Torgrum in trench coat and fedora leaned casually against the bar, “I don’t have a dirty mind, just a dwarven sense of ironic.” He finished off his martini and smashed the glass on the ground.

The bartender lept the bar, like an eager youth excited for his first bar fight. His hand extended searching—calling— for?

From a position of reverence displayed on the far wall Torgrum’s fang bladed great sword flew, like Thor’s hammer into the bartenders outstretched hand.

“Arghhh!” the barbarian screamed taking a power lunge at Tax’ix. The blade, and then the pissed off Torgrum, passed through the insubstantial taxian.

Half amused the taxian ignored the frothing barbarian, “This is your mental foyer,” the taxian said motioning, “where you greet visitors, like myself, who have the skills to get here.”

Again, the bartender attacked, swinging wildly but hitting nothing but air and insubstantial mind particles that represented Tax’ix.

“Or force their way in?” Torgrum said irritably. He bent over grabbing his head, “stop antagonizing him.”

He licked his lips wishing he had a drink and was surprised when a tankard of ale appeared in his hand. It was exactly the weight and consistency a real tankard of ale should feel in his eager mitts.

He wished desperately it was cold with thick suds to help soothe his throbbing headache. He took a long pull.

Ahhhh. Thank the gods, he thought. Sure enough, ice cold hops with a hint of gruit. Ale nirvana. The tankard was full of his favorite gruyt ale from the Reformation Ale Hall in Saratof.

The pain in his head faded sharply. Like the warmth feeling just after experiencing brain-freeze.

He took another long head soothing pull. He could get used to this.

“Interesting. Learning already,” Tax’ix said, “huh.”

Something landed to Torgrum’s left with a loud bang and the sound off shattered wood and gushing ale. A keg had fallen and shattered like an egg. Inside the broken bits of shattered wood and spilled ale tumbled an adolescent Torgrum, “I don’t like him. He’s scary” he whined.

What kind of hidden metaphor was this? Had he hidden too much of his life at the bottom of a barrel?

The keg had fallen from a keg wall. A crumbling dilapidated wall, fashioned from the derelict remains of thousands of kegs. More even. Most of them were empty, tapped, aged, and in ruins cracked and falling apart. Others still full were leaking, the wasted beer pooling on the floor.

These were kegs of Torgrum past, emptied and discarded. Years of drinking and carousing, with family, clan and friends, each carried foggy memories good and bad of times long gone.

It didn't take much philosophical insight, to figure out these bar patrons were ghosts of his past and future self, of who he had been, who he was, or possible futures—sub-personalities—all here in the rathskeller of his mind drinking, living, reliving, futurizing precious moments before and after.

All these thoughts. Were thoughts. And as thoughts do, they tumbled haphazardly confusing the mind.

The seasoned elder Torgrum, soldier who had spent a lifetime fighting and killing, was back behind the bar once again, dolling out drinks and stories.

His suave, cocksure self with fedora now perched front loaded, had minute men martinis in formation along the bar ready for action.

Know-it-all Torgrum was preaching to anyone who would listen, pounding the pulpit as it were, “History is written by the victors.”

He meant the dragons. And they were still out there. Sure, they were sleeping, for now. But some day they would awaken and finish the dwarves off for good this time.

Graver Torgrum was cruising the bar looking for a healer, “We have too many damn fighters. We need heals.”

“What do you expect with this bunch,” the bartender laughed and handed him a drink.

Spiritual Torgrum was planning a religious pilgrimage, a hajr to join his sisters and brothers in the homeland and he was moving table to table looking for volunteers to accompany for the long sojourn.

Tax’ix ignored the inhospitable Rathskeller patrons, moved to the arches and to a secret door, that appeared amid red bricks.

“There you are,” the Taxian said reaching and opening the door.

The bar fell silent to the groan of the door creaking opening. Bar patrons jumped when the door hit the wall with a loud bang, the creak and groan supernaturally augmented.

A loud rush of wind pushed into the bar from the space beyond, as air pressure equalized.

Suave Torgrum grabbed his hat preventing it from fly off, “Where did that door come from?” he remarked, genuinely suprised.

“It’s an ancient architectural wonder”, said the graver Torgrum. He moved closer, awe and delight dancing on his illuminated features. He was now holding a torch and a map. “Crafted before the Claw Hammer. Who wants to explore?”

All the Torgrums were gravers at heart. The assemblage inched closer, angling for a better look at the strange door and what lay beyond.

Tax’ix marched through the door on a mission.

“Where are you going?” Torgrum said.

“Taking a look at your life,” the taxian said amused, “Coming?” He moved away at a brisk pace.

Torgrum followed as did the other Torgrums, each interested to see what lay ahead.

In true dwarven fashion the door led to an elaborate underground passage. Thick robust stonework nicely milled and polished to a high sheen. Illuminated by periodic glow worms.

“It is said, the light of the glow worm will guide your path to the homeland,” said spiritual Torgrum.

“This is not a hajr odyssey,” said another. “Gods damnit, stop your pushing.”

“You stop pushing.”

“Everyone stop pushing,” Torgrum said, “And shut up, I can’t think.”

Tax’ix had stopped a few paces into the corridor and was busy peering at a set of wood venetian blinds hanging in front of a large stone window.

This wasn’t the only set of venetian blinds, there were more, much more. In fact, now that

Torgrum took the time to notice, the whole right side of the corridor was nothing but venetian blinds.

Each overlapping the next. Like playing cards fanned out on a table.

Window after window for as far as the eye could see. And he could see a damn long ways.

“A long life with many memories,” remarked the Taxian impressed. “Longer than most I’ve seen. You’re older than you like to admit,” he smirked.

Tax’ix pulled on a rope opening then the first blind.

Behind the blind was a window and in the window a mirror and in the mirror a reflection.

That reflection: Tax’ix and Torgrum in a stone corridor, standing before a set of blinds, in front of a window containing a mirror with all the other Torgrums huddled close eager to see.

A perfect uninterrupted reflection. And accompanying the visual, were olfactory deep earth aromas, tremor sense, heightened auditory perception.

The mirror projected not just sight but all senses, all of which were frenetically heightened.

Torgrum nudged the bartender with his elbow, “That’s fascinating.”

“That’s auroch shit,” the senior bartender shot back.

“I don’t get it,” someone remarked unimpressed. “It’s just a mirror.”

“Memory lane,” Torgrum said finally understanding. “Are these my memories?” Torgrum asked the taxian.

Tax’ix pointed to the dwarf and then his nose before yanking the rope releasing the blind closed with a snap.

“Told ya. It’s memory lane,” another whispered.

“Our memories?” asked another, “I don’t remember this.”

“It’s happening now, you idiot,” said know-it-all Torgrum. “This is now,” he said pointing to the first window, “And I bet as we walk down the corridor, we’ll be reacquainted with past memories.”

Tax’ix continued a few paces and opened another blind.

This time, the window frame presented rather than a mirror of the corridor, it was a first person Torgrum point-of-view: He was tied with leather straps into a large torture chair. Tax’ix and the C’tharki filled his entire view, close enough to smell the reek of his stinking breath and the audible click clack chirp of the mandibles, “I will only tell you this just once. The harder you resist, the harder it will be for you.”

Tax’ix let the blind fall.

Someone growled.

“Bastard!” said the bartender, “I’m gonna kill that freak.”

“Not if I kill him first,” snapped the graver.

“They’ll be no killing in my head,” Torgrum shot back. “Now shut up or go back to the bar.”

“Who put you in charge?”

“There are more of us. We can take him,” another whisper conspiratorially.

“Hell yeah!” agreed another.

Tax’ix continued ignoring murmurs and banter. He stopped every few paces, randomly peeking behind blinds.

“Here we go?” he said finally.

Tax’ix yanked hard on a rope opening a venetian blind to the fully open position. Like before, behind the blind was a stone window and framed inside it, moving pictures: Torgrum’s memory of the Sally encounter.

The old goblin matron stood with hands on hips. “An outcast, huh. What did you do to get kicked out of a society built on greed?”

Torgrum inside the memory stood, raised his sword. “You callin’ me greedy? Why your wit is sharp as Thor’s hammer.”

“Greedy bastages,” Sally replied.

The gang of Torgrums watched transfixed by the clarity of the memory.

“It’s so real,” said child Torgrum.

“I didn’t notice that before,” fedora Torgrum said, taking a closer look. He sniffed. “Sally is wearing perfume. Stygian alchemy if I’m not mistaken.”

“If you had the mental discipline,” Tax’ix said, “you could revisit your life with perfect precision. Unfiltered by your emotional immaturity.”

He shrugged turning back to Sally, “Memory seems to be in working order.”

“COME NOW, BALLBARIANS. LET’S BATTLE!” screamed the Sally in the mirror.

Tax’ix watched the encounter intently until Sagacious appeared and kidnaped Rashidi.

“See! No one gods damn listens to me,” Torgrum spat. "Did I not say? It was that sagacious character, not us."

The gaggle of Torgrums erupted in agreement. Like minded.

Tax’ix ignored the outbursts and swiped his hand across the mirror, reversing the scene back to the beginning.

The old goblin matron stood with hands on hips. “An outcast, huh. What did you do to get kicked out of a society built on greed?”

Torgrum stood, raised his sword. “You callin’ me greedy? Why your wit is sharp as Thor’s hammer.”

“Greedy bastages,” Sally replied, a flicker of green mischief refracted in her pupils.

“Didn’t we already see this?” said Torgrum adjusting his fedora.

“And we’ll see it again,” said Tax’ix, “until I’m satisfied this memory is genuine and not just a figment of your imagination.

“It’s real alright,” shot back know-it-all.

“No one ever accused me of having an imagination,” said the graver.

Spiritual Torgrum had seen enough, “I’m not a liar,” he said and started waving at the window trying to get it to move, one way or the other. No dice.

They watched the scene with Sally and Sagacious play through a second time, this time waiting until Scathatch and Hajra appeared.

The third time through, Tax’ix kept his hand on the mirror preventing it from moving and watched it in slow motion, perhapts fifty-percent speed.

Torgrum studied Tax’ix, more intrigued by the taxian’s ability to manipulate his memory than reliving the Sally and Sagacious moment a third time. His control was delicate and enacted with finesse.

He was impressed, who wouldn't be? He might be a thick headed barbarian and Tax'ix a taxian, he could still appreciate talent. Years of practice, raiding people’s minds, he thought.

“Yes,” the taxian said without looking away from the mirror, “I’ve raided many minds. More sophisticated than yours.”

When Sagacious appeared again, Tax’ix slowed down the recall to a mere crawl and then stopped. He studied the wizard closely, taking note of the other Ballbarians like a constable at a crime scene.

All from Torgrum’s perspective of course, as that was the only advantage he had. What was he looking for exactly, Torgrum couldn’t tell?

After about thirty minutes, some of the more impatient Torgrums had had enough. “Can we go back to the bar?”

Torgrum grabbed the rope and let the blind fall hitting the taxian in the hand, “We’ve all seen enough,” he said irritably.

Tax’ix rubbed his hand. “True,” he admitted, turning to consider Torgrum’s memory lane. “I wonder what else we can find?”

He strolled further down the corridor at a more leisurely pace, not so much on a hunt as before, but instead window shopping. He yanked a rope revealing Torgrum and the Ballbarians fighting the Tunnel Terror.

Torgrum swung his blade at thrashing spider legs, “Smash the bug.”

“I’m an open book,” Torgrum shrugged, knowing he couldn’t prevent Tax’ix from going and prying where he wanted.

Tax’ix let the blind fall, “That’s not the metaphor here.”

Behind the next blind, the memory played out showing Torgrum following his friends off The Crucible, the ship they’d sailed to Gravers Dig.

Aggee bowed to Calsimeer, “Hello, I am Aggee. Welcome to Gravers Dig. You are here for the Hunt?”

A couple of paces further Tax’ix opened another set of blinds. This time, Torgrum sat huddled, bleary eyed in a dark corner in the bowls of The Crucible—ill from motion sickness. The bilge smelled ripe as a sewer on a hot summer day.

Know-it-all puked, prompting cries of alarm from the others. “Shut that!” they snapped, turning to look away.

Tax’ix laughed. “Ohhh dear, was poor Torgrum seasick?”

“Feck off!” Torgrum said grabbing the rope and yanking it swiftly. The wood blind fell with a loud clatter blocking the painful memory. “Dwarves at sea ain’t natural. Still didn’t stop me from traveling.”

Tax’ix smirked, “Shall we delve deeper?”

He didn’t wait for an answer before continuing along the corridor, dragging his fingers thrumming across the blinds.

Twenty or so paces further, the taxian stopped and then stepped back, head cocked to the side as if confused by something that wasn’t right. He peered unexpectantly at a boarded-up window. “What’s this he asked?”

Torgrum said nothing, just stood there casually ignoring the window.

Tax’ix banged his fist on the thick planks covering the stone window and with each rap, he noticed Torgrum wince.

There was no venetian blind, nor was there a window to its left or right.


The rest of the gang of torgrums trundled close and stopped and milled listlessly around like mindless zombies with nothing to pursue. They also didn’t take notice of the window nor cared and remained mum. Silent for the first time: pure, unadulterated bliss, no murmurs, banter, or smart-ass comments or jokes from any of them.

Tax’ix took Torgrum by the elbow and escorted him down the passage with the others following. A half-dozen paces later the Torgrums returned to their old selfs.

“Are we there yet?” child Torgrum whined.

“Am I the first taxian you’ve met?” Tax’ix asked casually, while peering between a tiny gap in a blind.

“Why do you ask?”

Tax’ix opened the blind further showing Torgrum in rags rotting in a prison cell with a couple of humans hanging from chains on the wall. “Where was this?”

“Andalus,” Torgrum said, “The Tavjan privateer I served on was sunk by an Andal warship. I was one of the lucky that didn’t drown. One of the unlucky landed in prison. Why?”

“How did you manage to get free of prison?”

“I was purchased. Pressed into indentured servitude.” Torgrum gestured to the blinds, “Open these, you’ll see.”

“Who bought you?”

“What does this have to do with Rashidi?”

“Who bought you? Answer me.”

“Okay, fine.” Torgrum knew he was a captive audience for as long as the taxian needed him.

“I was purchased by a woman named, Rahat. The Merchants Guildmaster of Andalus. I was bought wholesale with a shit ton of other people. Nothing special. Just business.”

“Well, just business. This Rahat messed with your mind. Or someone in her employ.”

“What do you mean, messed?”

Tax’ix shrugged. “She either removed memories. Altered or manipulated your memories or a specific memory. Or implanted artificial ones. I can’t say without further investigation. I don’t have the time and frankly, I don’t care enough to put forth the effort.”

“How do you know this?”

“I found the blockage.”


“A minute ago.”

Torgrum glanced back up the corridor, the way they’d come. The other Torgrums shrugged sheepishly, mystified.

Know-it-all gave a long face, “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

“That would be a first time,” the bartender snapped.

“When did this happen?”

“Listen,” Tax’ix said, “You ain’t gonna remember, ‘cause you’re programmed not to.”

“How? What—?”

“It’s like talking to a stone,” Tax’ix said giving up, “I’m done. I have what I came for and your life bores me.”

Torgrum woke in the interrogation room screaming bloody murder, inflicted with the worse hangover since the creation of hangovers.

Torgrum received the joy of making a saving throw, to see if his brain was a little scrambled—coming out the other side of the brain raid, could have left him a bit insane, (more than is usually), catatonic or possibly even dead. There was an off chance that Torgrum could have been revealed to be a latent psionicist.

Armando helped with a bit of bardic inspiration, singing, “Torgrum is a dum-dum dwarf e-i-e-i-o.”
With all the possible bad outcomes that could’ve happened to Torgrum’s, luck was with him and he came away from the terrifying ordeal with a rather bad headache.

Afterwards Torgrum could recall everything, remarkably, fairly-well. Especially the alternate sub-personalities in his mental foyer and their personality quirks. His personality quirks, he had to admit.

Tax’ix escorted Torgrum back to his friends, he’s groaning and holding his head.

Off the startled looks Tax’ix said casually, “He did fine.”

Scathach motioned Tax’ix aside and the two moved to the opposite side of the room to confer for a few minutes. The psionicist did the majority of the talking as the hunt official listened intently.

Scathach returned to the party.

Claw looked worried, “Cal,” they said, “are you next?”

Cal stepped back, a grave shadow crossed his featured. For a split second Claw thought he might run, “I desperately hope not.”

Catching the tailend of the exchange, Scathach waved quickly, “No, no no no,” she said, “We don't need that. Tax'ix only need interrogate one of you.”

“Oh good,” Claw exhaled heavily.

“Yeah?” Torgrum said, also relieved. No one else needed to go through the taxian’s mental probing. “I might need to ask you some questions later,” he said with as much bitterness as he could muster, while leveling a rather stern look at Scathach.

“Torgrum, just to make sure it's still you,” Calsimeer asked. “How do you feel about your clan?”

Torgrum growled and made a few rude gestures.

“Oh, good. It’s still you.”

Pansy held up two fingers, “Torgrum. How many fingers?

“Odins crow, that hurt like hel,” he said with a wink and a smile, trying to let people know he was okay. Dwarves are made of sterner stuff. Their gray matter as well, it would seem.

Calsimeer smiled, “That’s definitely still Torgrum.”


TIMESTAMP: 0:55:00 – 1:09:30

Scathach approached Calsimeer, “You have the right to witness the counting of the trophies if you care to join me you may do so.”

Scathach led Hajra and Calsimeer to the basement to a special chamber, (not the same special chamber Torgrum enjoyed), but instead a rather foul smelling demon pothole.

The Aestumo Chamber

There was a huge white pentagram on the floor, and the pungent smell of incense and sulfur attacked the senses—absolutely horrible—overwhelming rotten eggs—beyond bad.

At the center of the room was a large floating transparent cube of silver 20-feet a side.

Scathach threw the Bag of Holding into the cube where it stuck and then slowly floated as if in water, drifting to the gravity well center.

Scathach uttered black magic arcane words, “Ars theurgia-goetia Valac.” Out of the bag appeared the dead Tunnel Terror where it remained stationary floating in stasis within the cube.

Below the cube rose a large steelyard scale. Scathach and Calsimeer watched as the Tunnel Terror slowly came to rest on the right pan holder. On the left side, a counterweight slide left along an arm which contained illuminated numbers. As the counterweight moved left, the numbers rose until finally stopping on: 1800.

Scathach waved dismissively, telekinetically shifting the Tunnel Terror off the scale and the process continued. Next came the Tunnel Terror eggs, followed by Pierre de Clement and his four duelist comrades, eight Atars, (six dead and two still alive).

“Nice,” said Hajra, “Double points for the living Atars.”

“Sloppy business Hajra,” Scathach said disapprovingly, “leaving these two alive. But good for our business. Put them in the brig with collars. But remove their valuables first.”

Hajra did as she was told, removed the discarded weapons first, then jewelry, trinkets and lastly she took their armor.

“These we will keep,” Scathach said to Cal. “Hajra received the glory of the kill. But alas you will be awarded full points. Rashidi made the call. I stand by his judgement. I don't give a shit. It’s your game.”

“As long as they count, I am not concerned about spoils.”

“You would be,” Hajra said, “If you knew what they carried. There are three or four items of note. Pretty nice. I won’t bore you with the detail, that way you won’t be upset.”

“I would rather not know.”

“I’ve been too generous. Once in a while I need to flex muscles,” she flexed her arms, grimacing with strain, “To curb my generosity instincts. That said, if you want the spider eggs. They’re yours.”

Calsimeer turned snake oil salesman huckster calling to an invisible crowd, “does anybody want to raise spiders for pets? They are Tunnel Terrors.” He rubbed his chin in thought, “Maybe they could be tamed.”

“Somebody will buy them,” Scathach noted and motioned to Hajra who loaded the eggs into a burlap sack and handed them to Cal.

Cal reluctantly accepted that bag and for a moment a wave of nausea swept through him, feeling the bulging back twitch. “Was that a…?”

Yeah, it was, tiny barely audible clicks and pitchy squeaks moving mass inside the bag. “Okay, maybe no taming the eggs,” Cal shuddered.

“For a Graver, you are much too squeamish. Take them to the gnome, Brandi, she’ll find a use for them.”

An evil glint formed in his eyes, “What a brilliant idea. I will take them to Brandi. I’m sure she’ll love them.”

Dragging the heavy gunny sack behind him, Calsimmer followed Scathach back to the main hall.


Scathach approached a log tower, an independent structure built next to the lodge.

Scathach motioned to the Ballbarians, “I’m going to officially announce your score. Do you want to come?” She climbed the ladder to the top.


The Ballbarians clamored up the ladder and huddled around Scathach looking out over Gravers Dig.

Scathach took a mallet from a hook and handed it to Calsimeer, “Bang the gong!”

Calsimeer struck the ten-foot in diameter brass gong three times. The distinctive baa-wong ringing echoed loudly over Gravers Dig capturing everyone’s attention. People stopped whatever they were doing, approached, and gathered around the base of the tower, gazing skyward at Scathach who waved to gather close so she could speak to them.

Mounted above their heads, big enough for all below to see was a Status Board that listed all the hunting parties. At the moment, it was mostly blank except for icons representing each party.

Scathach yelled loud for all to hear, “Let it be known that the ballbarians have returned successfully from the hunt”.

If the Ballbarians had a fanbase, Scathach was coming off as their biggest super fan. A complete departure from earlier, when she was nothing but ice and anger.

“The Ballbarians have returned with a never before seen of score of 27,600 points,” she said.

A hush descended upon Gravers Dig.

Finally, murmurs ripple through the onlookers, like growing wind upon a pond small at first and then bigger, “What”, “Is that right?”, “Did she say 27 thousand?”. A cascade of astonishment and “Them?”, “Marn madness that is”.

Scathach allowed the crowd their moment to absorb the news and then continued, “I'm pleased to announce that this is a new hunt record for this bracket. This is the best score ever for the graver’s category.”

Hajra bumped and rubbed past Armando, (on purpose to get his attention). She did her best Vanna White impression all the while winking at Armando seductively. She stretched and wrote the score of 27,600 points on the board under the Ballbarians eagle icon that had also been on their hitching post.

When the numbers were clear and visible for all to see, people realized this wasn’t a joke and cheers erupted.

Scathach held out her hands to simmer down the crowd. “And for this exceptional score, the Ballbarians are rewarded 2760 torts.”

She held up a bulging sack of casino chips and then reached in and tossed a handful into the crowd?

People below scurried forward to claim the discarded chips strewn in the dirt. Some pushed and shoved and even a couple of punches were thrown.

Scathach handed the bag to Calsimeer, “2760 torts less a handful, it would seem.” He nodded to Scathach, “Thank you.”

“It’s a tradition,” Hajra said, “sharing bounty with the village. The name Ballbarians will be on the lips of everyone who spends the coin. A blessing for them, as well as you.”

Scathach addressed the Ballbarians, “This is your award money for being so successful in the hunt and if it turns out that none of the other hunting parties beat you you'll receive a bonus. The Death Knights are serious contenders. They're actually the favorites and of course The Flying Circus.”

Scathach returned her attention once more to the crowd and yelled once more, “I’m sad to report that Pierre de Clement and his entire party has been slain. Hajra writes a big bloody red TPK over his name.

“He was a well-dressed fellow,” Cal admitted.

“That’ll be the last halfling he'll ever shake,” Pansy spit.

A red Gekkon, the same one earlier, dispatched from Cosmo the Magnificent returned, spiraled once, twice around the tower before landing in front of Scathach disrupting her speech. The little reptile held out a letter to Armando in its little claws.

Armando looked sheepishly at Scathach and when she rolled her eyes, he took the note and gave the little guy a biscuit which the tiny beast greedily gobbled.

Scathach and Hajra stepped back dramatically and waited for Armando to read the note. “Gravers Dig waits,” Scathach said, “What is this monumental news that has interrupted the proceedings?”

When Armando frozen in place by her piercing icy gaze, she said loudly irritated, “Read it.”

Armando read the note aloud, “Armando, I hear you are back early from the hunt. Come see me I will stay open late. Cosmo the Magnificent.”

Armando grinned, “It appears I have an engagement elsewhere my friends.”

The interruption over, Scathach continued her announcements, “Team invisible has been disqualified and are enemies of the hunt. There is now a 20,000 tort bounty on Sagacious the wizard.

The news, especially the large bounty, caused quite a stir in the crowd, murmurs and questions wondering what this Sagacious had done.

The Ballbaraians took in the grave news as well. They knew exactly the reason for the large bounty and was also already wondering if they could collect said bounty.

“Also!” Scathach continued, “There is also a 500 tort bounty on his companion Sally. I challenge every graver within the sound of my voice to hunt down these traitorous and bring them to ME!”

The announcements over Claw said to the others as they huddled together, “Getting Sagacious now that's like the golden snitch we gotta go get him.”

Everyone laughed.

“That could mess with our score.”

* * *


TIMESTAMP: 1:21:00 – 1:30:56

* * *



TIMESTAMP: 1:30:56


After everyone came down from the announcement tower, Claw, Pansy, Torgrum, and Armando rushed over to Aggee unloading a quiver of questions into him.

“Where’s a bar?” Torgrum demanded. After the previous couple of days and the foray into his mind, Torgrum just wanted a drink.

“I want a bed,” Claw said, “A real bed with a mattress and pillow. And clean. Understand?”

“I want to schedule a singing gig,” Armando said. “My mother used to say, being just good enough isn’t a goal.”

“Come on guys, we need to celebrate,” Pansy said, “Throw a party, halfling style. Invite everyone. Didn’t we just break some kind of record?”

Pansy tugged on Aggee’s sleeve. “Aggee, we need to find a venue, somewhere that can hold a lot of people, drinks, and entertainment. We have our winnings. We’re going to spend it all and more.”

Aggee, patient and kind as always, to a fault even, casually listened to each demand and question. “Okay, okay”, absorbing the information, even as everyone was talking at once.

When things simmered down a bit, he took a few seconds to collect his thoughts.

Turning first to Claw, he pushed something into their hand and whispered. Whatever it was, it made Claw smile. They patted Aggee on the shoulder.

“For you Pansy,” Aggee said, “I have a grand idea. Just the solution you are looking for. How about you rent the arena and throw the party there?”

“The Arena?” Pansy said chewing on the idea, envisioning the possibilities and how that could work.

“It’s empty most of the time. It has more than enough room for whatever celebration you have in mind.”

“That’s a great idea. Let's do it,” Pansy said enthusiastically.

The others weren’t’ so sure. “Won’t that be expensive,” Claw said, doing the math in their head.

“Yes,” responded Aggee, “You can rent the arena for private parties. And it cost five-thousand torts…”

“Five-thousand?” a couple of the others shot back at once.

“Hold on,” Aggee held up his hand to slow down the tide swell of negativity against the idea, “But, but, it's not going to cost you anything because here's what we do. I've done this before. The five-thousand torts is a bar tab guarantee. What this means in practical terms: every drink we sell is removed from our rental fee. If we market your party celebration well enough, send guides throughout all of Gravers Dig even over Sheol and tell everybody about the victory party for the ballbarians. We get enough people in attendance selling drinks, you will not have to pay anything.”

Pansy imagination exploded with possibilities, a gala fit for, for… the Anumians, “I don’t care what it costs.” She said handing Aggee 200 torts. “Here, this is your commission.”

Aggee had weathered the demands and questions earlier like a veteran pit fighter. The two-hundred torts was like a combination gut punch and right cross to the chin. Staring momentarily at the grand sum of coins in his hand, all he could manage was a slack jawed, “wow.”

“Spare no expense,” Pansy directed. “I want the best party Gravers Dig has ever seen.

He recovered, wealth drunk, “I work triple hard for you.”


“Quadruple hard.”

“Let's make this an awesome night for everyone.”

“I will make this happen, as you demand.”

“Aggee,” Armando said, “I need a stage. A platform. A soapbox for which to perform.”

Aggee smiled. “Armando,” the guide said, “your request is but simple. You are looking for a singing job. A gig, as you say. I suggest, perhaps Pansy would graciously allow you to perform in the arena.”

Armando adored music and this was music to his ears. “Pansy,” he said dropping to one knee as if to serenade, “The merely magnificent Armando, Bard to Kings and King of Bards would be more than happy to perform for you and your party guests.”

Pansy bounced clapping, “That would be wonderful. It was your performance, Armando, against the Atars that won us these awesome trophies and the reward money. It will be an honor for everybody to watch you perform in arena.”

Armando beamed, “Thank you.”

“Continuing with the entertainment,” Aggee said, “I confess, I couldn’t help but notice, you enviously eyeing the Flying Circus and their bees. But alas, as it turns out, the members of the Flying Circus are on the hunt and not available. But,” he held up his finger an idea fermenting in his head, “A very special but… There are more acrobats and bees in this troop, members of their organization. And I’m sure with a proper introduction, accompanied with self-same coin motivation, they’d love to perform.”

“Bees!” Pansy squealed.

“Acrobatic bees,” Aggee nodded.

“Great idea. Awesome. Bring on the bees. More bees.”

Aggee motioned to Jfray, “Take Pansy to Tofu. He is the head of the Flying Circus.”

“Did you say, Tofu?” Pansy asked.

“It’s a nickname, he acquired because he’s a vegetarian.”

“I love Tofu. Is he also a Halfling?”

“Oh yes,” Aggee said, “They are all halflings. Tofu is the one who you need to negotiate with. Convince him and you will have your bee entertainment.”

“Where is Tofu?”

“He lives in Hive Haven, just north of Gravers Dig. Jfray will show you.”

“Come on, Jfray,” Pansy said, grabbing the guides arm, “we leave at once. Now. Take me to Tofu.”

“My army of guides will arrange the party, it will take a few hours, but will be done. The hunters and gravers here in the resort, are always looking for an opportunity to celebrate, especially parties with alcohol and other fun that naturally evolve. And after that score,” he said pointing to the score board, “Ballbarians are celebrities. It will be well attended, I guarantee.”

The Ballbarians were getting antsy, ready to move on, do their own thing.

“I’ll send out callers, to tell everyone,” Aggee said, trying to wrap up quickly. “At seven o’clock this evening the Ballbarians are hosting a grand party in the arena. Come, celebrate with the barbarians. Meet the heroes who broke all previous hunting records.”

“Yeah, yeah, Aggee. Sounds good.” The Ballbarians had learned that Aggee’s word was the gold standard. If he said he’d do it, he would move mountains or kill Tunnel Terrors if that’s what it took.

“Trust me everybody's going to want to come and see you guys.”

Torgrum nudged Armando, “Bard, when you go see this magnificent Cosmic fellow, I’d like to tag along. I need information on this new sword of mine.”

Armando nodded, “But of course. The Magnificent Cosmo will reveal the universe to you.”

“I just need information on the sword, friend.”

Cal held up the gunnysack of eggs, “I know someone who will want these and I’m going to make that someone pay.”

Torgrum rubbed his fingers together, “And Cal? We want real money for the eggs. No healing potions. Got it, no healing potions?”

Armando agreed, “and no, magic cows.”

“Weren’t that magic beans?” Torgrum said.

“My tío abuelo, on my mother’s side purchased a magic cow that would jump clear over the moon.”

“T’weren’t that a child’s story?”

Cal shook his head, “No worries, she will pay and pay well.” And off he went with Claw happily to visit Brandi with schemes of revenge dancing in his imagination.


TIMESTAMP: 1:39:50

Armando returned to Cosmo the Magnificent’s tower of wonder.

The bard phased in solid into the tiny claustrophobic room uncomfortably close to the security golem. The monstrous mechanical contraption’s metal eyes swiveled down on Armando, and since he wasn’t immediately reduced to bloody gruel, having been measured and weighed he must have passed the security protocols.

“Armando,” Cosmo said excitedly in his booming voice. Was that voice really his voice or somehow magically augmented. It was hard to tell. “it’s so good to see you.”

“Cosmo, it’s great to see you too,” Armando said in the same loud cadence. Imitation was the sincerest form of flattery after all.

Cosmo had an infectious smile and warm charm about him that put Armando at ease. Probably a spell he put upon all his clientele. “I’m so glad you survived. It’s always a question when someone goes on the hunt. They may not come back. I hear Pierre de Clement did not make it.”

Armando immediately remembered the blade demons cutting down the Atars, “I witnessed his fall. It was…,” he shuddered, “terrible.”

Armando imagined Torgrum, somewhere off in the distance saluting with a raised a clenched fist, “spectacular.”

Armando retold the tale in true bardic fashion, but in a cleaned-up manner, most of the grisly details left to imagination.

Cosmo nodded, absorbing the story never once interrupting. When it came to its natural conclusion, he said, “About the singing sword. You want a long sword, I got that. We have a couple of options. You can have a singing sword as a masterwork sword, that would cost one-thousand torts. A +1 enchanted singing sword for five-thousand or +2 for twelve-thousand torts.”

“Goodness”, Armand said, considering the options and the budget busting figures. “Seems like the enchanted blades are outside my budget. Do you have playment plans?”

Cosmo nodded, “Yes, I do.”

“I can play at events for you. I can play in front of your shop.”

Cosmo exhaled visibly, “I have no need of that. I thought you said, payment plans. An agreement where payment is spread across a period of time. I am willing to sell you the +2 enchanted sword, singing of course, for a down payment of, let’s say, five-thousand torts. Is that what your suggesting? What can you pay?”

Armando considered the offer, but even five-thousand was beyond his reach.

He countered, “I can pay about five-hundred torts.” Armando rose up, chest inflated, “Remember. I Armando the Bard-barian, led this party through this great adventure unscathed, against Tunnel Terror, Aimillian Duelists and Atars. Clearly, I’m not going to die soon. Right?

Cosmo seemed to see value in being associated with Armando and the Ballbarians. “The reputation I would gain, for having provided you this sword, cannot be understated. I will tell you what. Five-hundred torte as a deposit and one-thousand, plus, one-hundred torts interest each month until the principle is paid off.”

That was a helluva offer, Armando had to admit and quickly closed the deal.

“Can we may the 20th of each month the due date? Most of my bills come early in the month, I like to spread them out.”

Cosmo opened a weapons box that contains three long swords, (all options there). Cosmo lifted the best of the lot and laid it on the counter. “Go ahead, pick it up,” he instructed.

Armando did so.

Cosmo snapped his magic fingers, and the sword disappeared from Armando’s grasp and reappeared in Cosmo finger snapping hand. “See? It’s a no risk loan.”

Armando’s chest exploded with great mirth and appreciation, “Bravo, Cosmo. You are salesman and repo man. Truly wonderful. Very innovative.”

Cosmo wrote on his favorite business pad of paper, talking to himself as he wrote, “Yes. The 20th of the month just fine. Thank you. But are you quite sure, today's the 19th?”

Armando noticed his folly and quickly adjusted, “The first payment will be due in a month and one day. Agreed?”

Cosmo didn’t argue and immediately began explaining to Armando how the sword functioned.

“Aside from the +2 enchantment, you can sing a song into the sword—even an enchanted bardic spell song—and you can release the song as a bonus action any time in the future.”

Armando’s eyes and imagination blossomed.

“And of course, it sings in your voice,” Cosmo said.

“Cosmo, Cosmo. You have done a most magnificent thing here for me,” Armando said.

The sword was better than he had imagined. And truthfully, he had no idea what a legendary singing sword was.

“That's why they call me Cosmo the magnificent. For exactly that reason.”

“You know, I’m performing in this big gig as a celebration for our victorious victory.”

Cosmo shook his head, no, he did not know.

Armando trailblazed over Cosmo, “I will make sure to mention you to all the people who will be coming to see us.”

“Oh, that's a fantastic idea. That is, that is, that is great. While you are at it, if you don’t mind, please, you might also mention there's a weaponsmith of note, from the kingdom of Hesse named Lordint. He helped me organize this blade for you.”

“Did you say Lord Debt?”

“Lordint. One of the greatest weapons masters in all of Chaldea. Also, an outcast Dwarf.”

Dwarven weaponsmith, Armando thought and then said, “This sword, it doesn't have a name, does it?”

“I did not name it. It's up to you to name the sword, if you wish to give it personality.”

“I have given this great consideration and would like to name it, Kara Oki. Now if our business is concluded I have an acquaintance—"

“You brought me more business?” Cosmo asked, before Armando could finish his thought.

“His name is Torgrum and he wishes to come and speak with you.”

“Send them on up. Excellent. Thank you for referring me.”

“I'll see you in a month,” Torgrum said as departing salutation.

“Yes, yes you will,” Cosmo said, “or I’ll see the sword in this hand,” mimicking snapping his fingers.

Armando giggled at the insinuation, “where'd my sword go? No! The payment was due yesterday. It will disappear from under my pillow one night. Poof! I will of course sleep with it under my pillow, it will sing me a sweet lullaby as I drift off.”

Cosmo whoosh disappeared and, in his place, appeared Torgrum.

“Welcome. I’m Cosmo the Magnificent,” Cosmo bellowed in his friendly manner that he greeted all guests. “What can I do for you today?”

Torgrum who was impressed by wizarding ways, ignored the cramped confines of the Wizard’s tower. Besides, he had tunnel vision for his new blade—his tunnel terror blade, “I need a consultation. I just need to find out about this sword,” Torgrum said, producing the two-bladed sword. He placed it on the counter.

“Oh yes,” Cosmo said peering at the blade. The wizard opened a draw, pulled out a set of white cotton gloves and put them on. “I’d hate to leave oil and fingerprints or markings on such a fine blade. Or perhaps inadvertently releasing any unusual abilities.”

Torgrum suddenly felt embarrassed for the rather distasteful state he’d left the blade, “Never mind the thunder Tunnel Terror goop,” he said.

If the wizard was bothered by the blood and gooey remains stained on the blade, he didn’t show it. “I could throw in a cleaning if you wish.”

Cosmo opened a small box, removing brass goggles and put them on. He inspected the sword, closely, delicately, romantically. “You wish me to reveal its magical properties because it is clearly a magical blade.”

“Yes, exactly the idea,” the greedy barbarian

“I can do this. One-hundred torts,” he said pointing to the counter, “here, please.”

“Sounds fair. No problem.” Torgrum stacked the chips where Cosmo had pointed.

“The name of this sword is Fang. As you clearly see, it is a two-handed double bladed sword. With a +2 enchantment. When you successfully strike someone with the blade, it inflicts an extra d4 of necromantic damage and heals you the same amount.

“Sweet Yuletide,” Torgrum whistled through the gap in his teeth.

“On a natural 20 the necro damage is 1d20.”

A chill went up Torgrum’s spine, imagining the blade spraying glorious blood.

Cosmo held up his hand, “Before you get too excited. This next part can be good or bad. If your opponent is using a weapon that can conceivably get entangled between these two blades,” he said measuring the gap between the blades with his finger and thumb, “Such as any other bladed weapon that can get caught in between the blades. In that situation, if either opponent rolls a natural 1 on the die, the two of you make opposed checks of either athletics or acrobats and whoever loses the test is disarmed.”

Torgrum grinned, “I know something you don't know—I am not left-handed.”

“You have other inquiries?”, Cosmo said putting away his goggles.

“Yes,” Torgrum said, “In Gravers Dig recently, I’m told there was a confrontation between a dwarven princess and, the uh, person who controls the resort.”

“Brigthwyna,” Cosmo said and then leaned close, whispering conspiratorially, “I say her name without invoking it.” He glanced over his shoulder. “I can’t say I know all the particulars. There was a disagreement, a property dispute. The clan that this princess is from, claims ownership of the land here at Gravers Dig. And was quite consistent with, Brigthwyna,” he whispered again, “That she pay back rent owed for the time she was banished. The rumors swirling is that this argument got rather heated. I mean, you know, how dwarves can be?”

“No, not at all,” Torgrum snapped.

“In my experience I’ve learned that sometimes us humans think a dwarf is being really aggressive and they're really just kind of talking way dwarves do. Brigthwyna tossed them all in the Brigthwyna…brig,” he shrugged, “Disarmed them.”

“Do you know where this brig is?” Torgrum asked.

“Underneath the arena. Her typical modus operandi for those she captures is to feature them in the arena. If she is feeling particularly magnanimous, she allows prisoners to fight for their freedom. If she’s feeling less generous, she pits them against opponents, without end, until they're either defeated or dead.”

Torgrum listened intently.

The scuttlebutt is that Brigthwyna plans on ransoming the princess back to her clan for probably a lot of money because, well you would know, dwarven clans tend to be wealthy. Apparently, she had a huge amount of wealth on her at the time of her capture.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Torgrum muttered, knowing that she did indeed.

“This operation. Gravers Dig. The Hunts, cost a lot of money to operate.”

“Yeah. This place ain't gonna work out so well for her in the long run I’m pretty sure about that. Whatever.”

Now it was time for Cosmo to mine for information. “What can you tell me about the Sagacious saga?

“Just an invisible dude. He popped in and grabbed our ref and took off with him.”


“Ah-huh. You got some ale behind that counter? I’ll take whatever you got.”

“I have wine,” Cosmo said, pulling a dusty wine bottle from the shelf. He blew off a century of dust.

And for the next little while the two shared wine as Torgrum explained the events on the Savannah as only Torgrum is want to.

“The cherry on this cake, is the brain torture the slapped down on me.”

“Sagacious is obviously an enemy of Brigthwyna.”

“And she's making an enemy of a rich and powerful dwarven clan too so maybe not her smartest move.”

“I suspect you aren't feeling too gracious towards Sagacious for seizing your referee and ending your hunt aspirations. I’m sensing that you aren't happy about the development with… is Sarakka her name?

“My cousin.”

Cosmo leaned back pale, eyes wide, “Oh!”

“Yeah,” Torgrum nodded, “If you hear anything. I would appreciate a heads-up.”

“I could get word to Sagacious, if you are considering taking action.” He stopped thinking momentarily, “I need to think on this. I also on occasion, provide clandestine services, if you need a private conversation. I have access to a far distant locale. The other side of the world let’s say, where people can meet and have conversations without fear of being eavesdropping.”

“That sounds good. I will keep that in mind for sure.”

A radiant sparkle in his eye illuminated his aged features, “Have you ever been to Tartu?” Cosmo beamed. “But of course, you have not. It’s a truly wondrous, magical place. But that’s a topic for another time.”


Torgrum suddenly found himself standing on Cosmo’s stoop, Tartu ringing in his ears.


TIMESTAMP: 1:57:27 – 2:07:19

Gnome Trader

Calsimeer and Claw approached the Gnome Trader cart where Brandi did her business. Her shady business, Cal was thinking.

“Oh, hey,” Brandi waved, “you want more potions?”

“No brandy. No no no no no no no. I must say the potions first of all thank you so much they were incredibly helpful.”

Brandi grinned mischievously, not so much a gnome, but a devious Brownie, “They're good. They're not, they're not the most powerful potions but they're at a bargain you know?”

Know? Cal almost choked. Cal knew firsthand. Damn right he knew. Cheating little unscrupulous snake oil sales-gnome, unbashful about trying to get the best money she could, for questionable items whose actual value was up for debate.

“What are you talking about they were incredibly powerful.” Calsimeer shot back. “They're the best potions that I ever had.”

Brandi said, “Some people complain that they're not as good as some other potions that they've had but they're a lot cheaper.”

“No complaints here,” Cal said.

“This is my hunt confrère, Claw.”

“Claw, how are you?” Brandi touched her forehead, “Greetings and salutations.”

“Please to meet you,” Claw bowed in greeting.

Calsimmer had an ever-present almost maniacal grin painted on his face, his bulging eyes barely containing the revenge he would soon employ.

“Brandi, the potions were so wonderful,” Calsimeer said, his words dosed in sickly sweet smarm.

“I'm all out I don't have any more. I’m sorry.”

“No. No no no no no no no no. You misunderstand me, you misunderstand me. I am actually here to bring you an offering. I am hoping that we could do a little bit of a trade for.”

“Do you have something to trade with me?”

“Yes. Very, very much so.”

Brandi’ face lit up, curious as a prairie dog. Head popping out of their den at passersby.

“A business arrangement, I believe might be beneficial to you. In our Somarrian Hunt travels we came across a large beast. A terror wicked monster. One that we fought and defeated—a huge, mutated chicken beast.”

Brandi swayed, eyes locked intently on Calsimeer’s face, like a cobra follows a charmer.

“And they left behind many many eggs.”

“A chicken beast?”

“Yes, exactly so. A giant chicken beast.”

“Like a Werechicken? A lycanthrope chicken?”

Claw clucked like a chick, spinning and doing a wedding chicken dance.

Calsimeer made to think, feigning consideration of such a thing. A lycanthropy chicken. “No,” He finally said, “Much larger than that.”

Cal turned to Claw, watching them do the chicken dance, “Claw, how large would you say this chicken beast was?”

“Taller than you,” they said.

Calsimeer scoffed, “of course, certainly taller than me,” he gave Claw a quick stern gaze. He raised his hand high, “Like three or four individuals tall. Three. Three or four Calsimeers.”

“Yes,” Claw said, going with the story.

Brandi listened intently, giving it her due attention, as if she was listening to the assassination of Emperor Kordaava, “that's a big chicken.”

“Hell yes, big chicken,” Claw said.

“Wow! Oh, my gods. I've never seen a chicken like that. That’s a helluva chicken.”

“Few have,” Cal nodded gravely. “It laid these eggs and we have found that they have wonderful healing properties something that you might be able to mark up quite a bit especially for the folks coming through this area.”

“Eggs with healing properties?”

Calsimeer nodded, “Indeed. We cracked one open for breakfast the next day and we felt immediately, perfectly, refreshed.”

Tunnel Terror delicacy

“Oh you, you, you, eat the eggs?”

Calsimeer’s face fell flat, “What else do you do with eggs?”

“I don't know.”

“You don’t sit and hatch them,” Claw pointed out, “you need to eat them.”

“It seems like a dumb question,” Brandi admitted. “Did you cook them? Did you fry them or did you eat them raw?”

“Personally, I prefer sunny side up.”

“Sunny side up, eh? Do you have any more of these eggs?”

“Yes, Brandi. This is why we are here. We have twenty eggs,” he holds up a bulging gunny sack.

“They're so fresh they're still gushy,” Claw said poking the bag.

“One egg fed you and your companions?”

“Yes absolutely.”

“Nutritious,” Claw agreed.

“Constitution, virality, fully restored?”

“Damn straight. I was hoping, being the fine vendor that you are, you would be interested in purchasing them. Sell them to other hunters for a tidy profit.”

Brandi’s jovial mirth cascaded grave, “I don't have much money.”

“How about this? The amount I paid you, for the healing potions and I give you all these wonderful eggs. Eggs for potions. That’s a fair trade.”

“But you already paid me the money.”

“Right. And now I am suggesting we sell you these eggs for exactly the same price. There are more eggs than you gave me potions and they are worth far more.”

Her eyes back on Cal, she said, “It sounds too good to be true.”

“Brandi, you have been so good to me. So honest and professional. Why would I lie to you? Huh?”

Brandi eyes narrowed to slits; her lip curled about ready to loose a retort.
“Oh, also. I say to you and before my god—that wine you sold me was absolutely fantastic. And I am a priest of Dionysus.” He struck a pose, reciting a poem, “Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, the serious smile.” He winked a Brandi, “I know my wine.”

“Sshhh,” Brandi waved frantically her eyes darting nervously, “Keep your voice down.” She leaned in close, “The Church of Set has shuttered their windows, close the doors. Did you hear? Priests and acolytes slain.”

Brandi relaxed, “Let me see one of the eggs. I need to examine the goods.”

“Yes, of course.” Calsimeer rummaged through the burlap sack looking for a choice one that wasn’t obviously alive or wiggling and mostly opaque. There weren’t many options.

His hand moved against an egg that moved. He gulped, doing his best to keep a straight face and not show the revulsion that threatened his resolve.

Claw’s face twitched; their smile transformed into more of a rictus grin.

After selecting the least active egg—hopefully—Cal handed Brandi the egg and as he did so, he tried his darndest to hide the fact that was casting a thaumaturgy spell.

As Brandi received the egg a blue-green phosphorus sheen rippled over its slimy veined exterior powered thusly by the thaumaturgy illusion. The egg pulsed around Brandi’s fingers with radiant life energy.

“Ohhh, it glows,” Brandi squealed with delight and greedy thoughts of profit.

“Shiny,” Claw winked.

Brandi shot Cal a flirtatious wink then her delight crashed with a thunk when she noticed Claw hovering nearby. Her attention returned to the egg, “It’s gushy.”

“That means it's fresh,” Claw pointed out.

Claw was attempting to act natural, “They do harden after a while.”

Brandi studied the egg close, caught between wonderment and revulsion as a shadow inside lurched, “I felt something wiggle inside.”

“Didn’t we say, they’re fresh.” Claw reminded.

Brandi poked it gingerly with her index finger, testing the elastic membrane.

“Whoa! Whoa! You don't want to poke it too much,” Cal warned.

Claw leaned close to Cal’s ear, whispering, “Perhaps we should leave soon.”

“Maybe we should eat this one right now,” Brandi grabbed an iron skillet from under the counter.

“Let's hold off on that. There is a potential that they could hatch and you could raise these chickens. Sell them to another vendor, perhaps the Ogre who sells the war dogs and earn some cash that way. You have to constantly be marketing.”

“I know. I am an experienced merchant I understand these things. Two years in Dorsang, studied business administration.” She put the skillet back. “I will accept your deal – fair trade for the potions.”

“Fantastic!” Calsimeer said.

Brandi and Cal do the deal for the agreed upon price.

Calsimeer eagerly accepts the torts and get away from Brandi before the ruse is up. Soon as he received the coins, emotion exploded. He could believe it had worked, “Thank you so much, Brandi. You are so beautiful,” Throws a kiss. “I love you. Bye bye.”
As Cal and Claw briskly put the Gnome Cart behind him, Cal wiped the sweat from his brow, “when those things get loose this whole place is going to burn down.”

Calsimeer took Claw’s hand and together exit stage right, almost running.


TIMESTAP: 2:08:20

Claw and Calsimeer walked away from Brandi’s

“We have a couple of hours to burn before Pansy’s party,” Claw said her voice thick and heavy laden with seductive innuendo.

Aggee had arranged a house. It was decent by medieval standards. A row of homes, two-story, had all the basic amenities and comforts. It even came with a earnest servant.

Claw and Cal found a few free moments to talk with out the rest of their friends lurking. So they spoke freely and openly.

Claw began, giving Claw a friendly poke, “You fell asleep before I was done flirting with you, which I found incredibly rude.” They reached over to a pattern of grapes on Cal’s clothing. Casting Druid Craft, they brought the sprig to life, blossoming into luculent grapes. “Shall we continue?”

“I believe we should continue,” Cal grinned, mind and desire hopeful, “I am certainly most apologetic. It was not very gentleman of me.”

“This human need for sleeping, is just beyond me. I digress, please go on.”

“No-no,” Cal bowed, “you go on. Humans can be very selfish, and I am trying to buck that trend.”

“I do appreciate, a lover who is not selfish.”

They rounded a corner to a street of cottages and the conversation likewise turned the corner.

Claw sighed deep in thought, deep in turmoil on how much of their past they wanted to reveal, “I came from the Calatan Thatalo lodge in the enchanted forest of Garnon. My lodge is dedicated to the study of dragons and our ultimate goal is to be able to meet and possibly even serve a dragon one day. We were... encouraged to disperse by the Empire and personally I did so gladly. I love a good tome as much as the next person, but I wanted to get out into the world. Get away from the stodgy old elders. See the real world on my own terms and experience it’s splendor, is very appealing.”

They arrived at the designated house. A servant greeted them and before they could provide a list of amenities, Claw was shooing the servant away, “Please take the night off.”

When they were certain the servant took the hint and wouldn’t return, Cal hung a gauntlet on the door handle.

The cottage owned by the Chan guild was country comfort clean with all the bare essentials required.

A fire burned warmly in the hearth with a four poster feather bed in the corner, its linens turned down.

On a small kitchen table, displayed nice was a small fruit basket and two bottles of wine with a small note that read: “Why fall asleep when you can fall in love”.

Claw opened a bottle and poured a deep burgundy into goblets.

They handed one to Cal.

“What is your Calatan Thatalo?” Claw asked, kickstarting the conversation once more.

Cal took a seat in a well-used leather chair by the hearth, closed his eyes, nose over goblet drinking in the wine notes.

“Ah yes. Growing up and being surrounded by people who don't understand you is difficult. How do I put this? I was not always in this form. Not that I wasn’t always human. I was painfully not the gender I wished to be.”



“Yes, it…it was difficult growing up. And well, my parents—they weren’t much of parents. They did not understand, exactly, who I was. So at a fairly young age, I decided to turn and run and seek my own fortunes out in the world. At that’s where I came across my mentor, I mentioned before. Scheherazade. He was wonderful, A Wizard of transmutation of some renown, actually. We came into an agreement. I would work for him. Eventually, he, he noticed that I wasn’t comfortable being myself. He took me under his wing and together we crafted this spell that would permanently change my form… AND IT WORKED. And it was wonderful.”

“My goodness.”

And with Dionysus, we personally crafted my new form.” Joyous charm turned to chagrin, “And the next day, Scheherazade was gone.”

“Your form is certainly divine.

They both laughed.

“I hope so, it was made by divinity himself.”

Claw moved closer, “So are you just bragging or are you truly packing a bespoke blessing of Dionysus down there?

“Well Claw, I suppose there is only one way for you to learn the truth. I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

Claw flicked a hand gesture at the hearth casting a druid incantation that turned out the fire, candles and… the lights. Followed by complete darkness.

“Oh! Oh my! Praise Dionysus!”

Cal Bacchanal all over again.

LATER that evening.


Atop the communication tower, Claw hammers the gong. “I just had sex. I just had sex.”




TIMESTAP: 2:18:07 – 2:28:30

Jfray escorted Pansy to the tiny halfling village of Hive Haven to meet Tofu.


In the hills were a few traditional Perrin style halfling holes. Home for the Flying Circus.

Below Hive Haven were tall rocky sea cliffs with caves where the bees had their hive. A half dozen or so bees come and go.


Jfray knocked on a yellow honecomb door inset in the side of a green grass covered hill.

Tofu, the patriarch of the family and the head of the Flying Circus greeted Pansy warmly, “A distant relative I’m sure,” he said. “Come. Join us. We’re just gathering for afternoon tea.”

The warmth of Tofu’s smile and gentle natured pulled Pansy inside, forgetting Jfray, leaving him to wait in the garden.

The Flying Circus was a single large family—and as halfing holes go, this place was larger than most—at least from Pansy’s recollection. There were dozens of halflings of all ages, boys and girls, men and women, grans and elder grans.

The place was a buzz of activity, literally as a couple of bees seemed to live with the large family and were buzzing loudly above in the rafters.

“Welcome to our honey hole”, Tofu said.

Honey Hole

Most of the family were already seated at a large dining table, a thick beamed trundle, and good thing too as it was laden with a bountiful feast. Feast of feasts.

Afternoon tea? Pansy wandered. There was more food on this table than most human holiday celebrations. And more was still coming as three ladies darted back and forth from the kitchen carrying trays of hot teacakes, strawberry dream, blueberry scones, custard tarts, and plum pudding.

Another place setting was quickly prepared, and Pansy was ushered forward to a chair held in her honor.

“Please. Break bread. Drink wine. Partake of our honey.”

“It smells so good and I’m so hungry,” Pansy said dreamily, intoxicated on the freshly baked aromas.

“Of course, you are,” Tofu laughed. “Eat. Drink. Halflings unite in food and fellowship.”

The bounty at the table, an honest good halfling meal gave Pansy a homesick pang in the pit of her stomach, a longing for family, a yearning for luxurious food, relaxation and family fellowship and then, a long night’s dreamless sleep in a downy feather bed.

Pansy let out a long sigh.

“When was the last time you had a home cooked meal?” Tofu asked.

“Like never,” she said.

Tofu was momentarily taken aback by the admission. Had she truly never had a home cooked meal? After a broad few seconds of silence, when he realized he was staring, he said, “Then I should stop talking and bore you no further with idle banter. I dare say, we have the best cooks and bakers in all of Somarria in this loving home. Please, enjoy.”

For the next hour, Pansy enjoyed the bounty of Tofu’s pantry. Occasionally, growing up she’d enjoyed a good meal. Smoked salmon and lobster once in a guildsman carriage house. Honey roasted goose another time with a boyfriend. At the time, she’d thought, this is the best food gets.


The food on Tofu’s table wasn’t just good. Wasn’t just spectacular. It was a paradigm shift. Blessed homemade baked goods and fine drink made for a king or a god.

She accepted a pipe and took a long drag of sweet halfling weed. She held her breath. Godsdamn this shit is… she thought and exhaled.

Tofu smiled nodding knowing. “Careful now,” he said. “That can sneak up on you real quick.”

Eventually after second helpings and even thirds, Tofu pushed back from the table with a satiated sigh. “So, Pansy,” He said pouring more wine into his cup and lighting his pipe, “what is your story? You’re here for the hunt?”

Pansy recited the Ballbarians hunt experience dancing around the theft of the dagger and Pierre’s vendetta against her.

“You are one of the ballbarians?”

Yes, she said by way of a nod. She was holding her breath after another hit from the pipe.

“We smashed the previous record,” Pansy said through a cloud of gray swirling smoke. “We’re going to celebrate in the Arena and we’re inviting everyone. An open invitation. Come one, come all. Tonight. Parties to end all parties. Spare no expense.”

“We heard the exciting news. You broke the record for the graver category.”

“That's why we’re celebrating.”

“Of course, our flying circus hunters haven’t returned,” he winked, “Don’t count those chickens,” and then laughed an infectious chortle.

It was rather rude, Pansy suddenly realized, ashamed she’d been bragging about Ballbarian exploits while Tofu’s family was in danger in the field, competing in the very same hunt. She gulped and downed her wine, hoping to mask her reddening ears.

“To the Ballbarians,” Tofu said standing. Everyone at the table hoisted a goblet in toast, “Nicely done”.

“Maybe some of us can attend. A celebration in the arena sounds divine. No halfling can pass up a well-catered celebration. It’s going to be well-catered?”

“Of course,” Pansy said excitedly, “sparing no expense. It would be great if your troop could put on a performance. If you’re up for it?”

“Ohhh…” Tofu chortled, “Now I see what you’re up to. Ohh… you want to hire the flying circus to be the entertainment.”

“What do you think?”

One of the young halflings squeals with delight and three or four others perk up. But Tofu, the venerable business minded, remained stoic.

Pansy motioned to the rest of the family, “Yeah,” eyebrows wiggling playfully, “Ready?”

Tofu shook his head, “I don't know if I could find anybody who's available tonight.”

Four little eager hands shot up. Like school children volunteering to answer the easiest question ever asked.

The eager raised hands were clearly not qualified to perform, at least Pansy didn’t think so. But who knows, maybe these children had learned to fly before they could walk.

“We are professionally trained acrobats and what we do is not without risk. Such entertainment does not come cheap.”

“What is your entertainment budget?”

“For the Flying Circus, we have allotted 1,000 torts.”

The room fell silent, except for a couple the older children who gasped.

“For a thousand tortes, we will put on the most magnificent show you’ve ever seen.”

“Do I get to ride the bees?”


TIMESTAP: 2:28:32

ARENA ESTABLISHING - A wild party atmosphere.

Revelers were flooding in, in large numbers. The bar was open and doing brisk business. Drinks flowing fast, with people eager and ravenous to get liquored up and get their groove on.

There was a special roped off VIP section for the Ballbarians guarded by large bouncers.

The upper-level seating had been closed off with more guards stationed around, forcing everyone to the arena floor where people were already dancing to music, by a troubadour live band.

Dead center of the arena was a large bonfire, which illuminated the entire floor giving it a golden bohemian flare.

Aggee and his army of guides, true to his word, had pulled in everyone who was anyone. Having been told by Pansy to spare no expense, Aggee had oiled the palms of people here and there, guaranteeing a packed house.

Scathach and Hajra appeared on a balcony, a VIP luxury box at the northern end of the Arena.

Below MASTER, the Ogre, strode forth followed by a pack of his hounds and hammered a GONG! Baa-wong!

Again and again, he kept striking it until…

“SILENCE!” Scathach said, projecting her voice loudly over the assemblage.

A silence spell descended upon the Arena and it’s occupants. Heads turned to gaze up at Scathach.

“Introducing the demigoddess Brigthwyna, the Mistress of the Hunt.”

Brigthwyna stepped forth from the shadows.

Mistress of the Hunt

“Welcome hunters and guests! Tonight, we are gathered to celebrate the record-breaking Ballbarians, for their glorious hunt not only the biggest score in the history of this ancient tradition. Not only did they shatter the Gravers bracket they did it in record time—in just two days. The other parties haven’t even returned yet.”

“This party was organized in favor of the Ballbarians, to their glory and the tradition of the hunt.”

“I have a special announcement tonight to let everything in honor of this great moment and this wonderful breaking of the records. I’m announcing a special hunt that will take place in five days would be like the day after the current hunt ends so in five days will be a special hunt like there has never been before since the dark times it's before the reign of the evil Emperor Kordaava.”

A clattering of boos erupted directed at the mention of Emperor Kordaava.

“Not since before the Dark Times. It will be the greatest hunt. It will be a WILD HUNT.

Pandemonium and riotous cheers erupted on the arena floor to Brigthwyna adulation.

“And the grand prize?”

She snapped a finger and a dwarf wearing blazon mithril plate appeared next to her.

“This fine set of dwarven mithril plate will be the reward to whoever stands with me and wins the hunt.”

“All right. Back to the party. Everybody give it up for Armando, the Bard-barian”

Master hammer struck the gong, once more.

Armando appeared walking casually around the bonfire with lute in hand. He strummed the strings, testing and flexing his fingers.

Calsimeer casted thaumaturgy augmenting his friend’s voice so that Gravers Dig and folks as far away as Sheol could hear is sultry voice.

He looked up to Hajra his heart leaping in joyous song.

[Verse 1]
L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore can

Love is all that I can give to you
Love is more than just a game for two
Two in love can make it, take my heart and please don't break it
Love was made for me and you

[Verse 2]
L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore can

Love is all that I can give to you
Love is more than just a game for two
Two in love can make it, take my heart and please don't break it
Love was made for me and you

Love a-was made for me and you
Love a-was made for me and you

Claw and Calsimeer stood together, arm-in-arm, basking in the romance of Armando’s performance.

“Psychic power of love,” Claw said.

While Armando continued to sing, Hajra leapt off the balcony and flew slowly and beautifully off the balcony down in front of Armando, so that the final lyrics was directly to her. She swayed rhythmically to the music, following along mouthing the words.

When the song was over Hajra swept Armand into her arms and they danced around the bonfire. As the musicians picked up after Armando.

Claw casts a fairyfire enchantment on the couple, “a spotlight dance” they mused. Calsimeer nodded his approval.


Pansy, “The bees are here!”

The Flying Circus began their performance with a single bee, slowly rising over the edge of the arena outer wall. It rose just enough to see down inside and then disappeared back down, out of sight.

Some people spotted the bee, pointing. By the time others looked up, the bee was no longer there.

A hush came over the crowd, watching in anticipation as the sound of buzzing grew louder.

The bee appeared once more, rising upward again, this time there were two: side-by-side.

Two haflings, hanging below their bee mounts climbed on top standing precariously on the saddle..

Fast paced music from the troubadour troop slowly built momentum.

The halflings stood on their tippy tip tiptoes on their mounts, hands to eyes peering over the wall and to the crowd below.

Some in the crowd waves and the acrobats’ waved furiously in return.

Now a third halfling scampered up from underneath onto the shoulder of the rider. And then more halflings, in a swarm, until they formed a tri-level pyramid, ten halflings in all.

“It’s a pyramid scheme,” Pansy squealed.

They held in hovering space for the applause and then the two bees holding up the pyramid, peeled off, dropping the halflings who fall--

Gasps and shrieks from the crowd as they watched the halfling plummet to their--

More bees appeared from below and the falling halflings landed on the bees.

The swarm of bees descended, darting fast, into the arena bowl, diving bombing the crowd some snatching drinks and hats from the revelers.

People ducked.

Pansy stood, hands up, like a small child to her parents. “Take me. Take me!”

Tofu raced close, taking her hand in an iron grip and drug her off her feet into the air. A second later he had flipped her on the back of the saddle and off they went, a ride of a lifetime.


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