Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A History Lesson of Asselin ...

     The fleet of the three Drakkens dipped their oars into the sea, slashing spume into the air as the soldiers tugging against them bent their backs and thrust the ships forward toward the distant shoreline. The noble leaned forward in the lead ship, foolishly clad in his armor, ducking his head against the spray of the bow wave from the ship as it crashed against the waves that were driven by the fierce wind. If anything happened aboard ship, the noble would sink like a stone, clad in the plate mail like he was. But he was the King, and he need to put forth a brave face as his ships churned forward toward the land.

     He turned and thrusting his sword in the air, his left hand gripping the rail, he shouted, "Pull, you dogs! Pull like your life's depended upon it!" for they surely did, thought the King. The damn fool weather wizard had cast his spell and apparently offended some wind spirit for the air shrieked and howled and blustered against the furled sail, bond tightly upon the spar, the wood beating against the mast straining against its rigging. One of the other Drakken had already lost its mast and lost headway, its mast dragging like a sea anchor over the port side while soldiers furiously rowed to keep up, the sailors of the ship hacked at the rigging and mast with axes and hatches, trying to free the mass with no hope of raising its mast again.

     The King saw the white splash of the surf as the lead Drakken near the shoreline and the King bellowed to the men to pull harder. The men, sensing a final victory and smelling earth and trees and the solidity of land, hearing the close-by surf pounding,  pulled with a will and the Drakken surged forward, it's stern rising on the strength of the wave and the fortunate rising tide caught its stern, thrusting the ship forward. The King grabbed the rail with both hands, his sword forgotten in the moment, as he sought to steady himself and the ship turn to starboard, the wave pushing up on the ship's hull. As he tightened his grip, the King felt the ship begin to turn turtle, the side coming up and over, the oars on the port side splintering in the oar holes and the starboard oars waved in the air liked an insects arms and legs.

     The King felt his body, weighted by the armor, sailing through the air and then he felt the splash of water as he landed in the sea, salt spume running into all the openings of his armor, the terror of drowning flashed through his mind. But only for a moment as he felt the sand of the beach slam into his back, the air rushing out of his lungs as he convulsed hard from the impact. As his eyes regained their focus, he instantly saw the glint of steel as his sword, which had lain forgotten on the deck of the ship, flashed in the sunlight as it flew thru the air and plummeted toward the King. Only a quick jerk of his head to the side saved the King from being stabbed through the face as his sword buried itself halfway to the hilt in the sand. But nothing could save him from the entire contents of the cargo hold as it poured itself out of the hatchways and buried both King and soldier alike. Only his moaning two hours later allowed one of his lieutenants to discover King Asselia lying under two nettings and three water casks, half drowned and tormented by the crabs feasting upon the dead and the dying.


     Thus began the first expedition to what would become the kingdom of Asselin three hundred and fifty years ago. The humans met limited resistance and slowly expanded, occupying the outer rim of the island-continent on three sides, encountering the races, both hostile and non, and slowly building their empire. In expanding, they discovered that they had not been the first. They discovered old worlds, old castles and keeps, the remains of ancients races, the remnants of evil empires and strongholds, dungeons and crypts, necropolises and ruined cities. They slowly spread, increasing their hold in the south, building their central kingdom and slowly expanding to the north with smaller cities. Resistance was often met, hairy and scarred races that did not want the humans in their areas ( and some that did, only because they tasted good and crunchy), evil Goblins, slimy Troglodytes, nasty and pimply Orcs, Giants, and Cyclops.

     Then when they thought that there would be no redemption of this evil and scarred land, the Elves finally showed themselves and the communication between the two was at first tentative, then casual and cordial but distant. Next the Hobbits popped out their hobbit-holes with their hairy feet, once they realized that the Elves were making friends (because they wouldn't want the Elves to secure all the trade) and so they began making inroads with the Humans, too, opening roadhouses near the Hobbit world and slowly expanding into the Human areas. Even more secretive were the Dwarves and the Gnomes, always competitive, the Gnomes of the Forest and the Mountain Dwarves above and the Svirfneblin Gnomes and the Deep Duergar Dwarves below, made their presence known and began to trade with the Humans, too.

The world as it is now is dominated by a mix of Humans and Demi-Humans struggling to establish themselves against many other races of Humanoids and other types spawned from the evil and dark lands.

The Kingdom of Allesia is currently ruled in a feudal government by Queen Elwyn of le Fullere, who lives in the Black Keep of Allesia, the capital city of the kingdom, and has ruled since she was three years old. She is, in fact, assisted by the Royal Governor Councilor - Degore Reymund of Penton Mewsey, who basically controls everything in the kingdom for the girl of 22 until she learns her place in the kingdom. She currently spends her time hunting, feasting, celebrating festivals and fairs and the like.
The Army is commanded now by General in Chief Lord Geroldin de Ernauld, who is currently in the north s Will, led by High Warden Gamel of Clyst St. Cyr, campaigning against a move by the Orcs to try and drive the expansion of the Humans south. He is being assisted by the Grand Diplomat Wilmot of Sedgehille who is trying to get the Northern tribes and clans to make a move from the north against the Orcs from Cemmes and the surrounding araes through Vambag Pass.
with his swordsmen and archers, spear-men and wagoners, and leading the way, the Rangers of the Order of the Queen

Meanwhile at home, the High Priest Thim, who guides the Kingdom's religious growth and sees to its spiritual needs, continues her not-so-secret machinations among the religious sects and insures that they continue at each other’s throats while remaining above the fray, her hands clean to adjudicate their disputes. She has lately been assisted by Magister Rogerius the Red, who guides the Kingdom's higher learning and magical employment and also heads the Magical Guild "Archons of Panadera's Creed.”

While this is all going on, the Peace is kept (or tried to be maintained at a civil level) by the Marshall Good Osgood Alston and his sheriffs throughout the countryside in their surcoats of Red and White checkerboards, adjudicating justice in courts, forming juries when necessary and answering the Hue and Cry of the peasantry, and dispensing summary justice as needed, not always fairly but at least even-handedly. Alston is oft-times assisted in the shadows by the Royal Assassin atta Welle, who will deal many times with the more serious crimes summarily, the justice unseen by the peasantry but swift and true none the less, the party or parties simply disappearing, a victim of the Good Shepherds, carried off by the Orcs or some other disaster of natural or unnatural means. Meanwhile, the Spymaster Le Chaluner Hardegin, a secret and unseen individual who may or may not exist but surely makes his presence felt, for even the Queen raises her hand for silence when his name is mentioned, slithers about in the dark alleyways and byways, drafting the thieves, cutpurses and footpads for his secret and never-mentioned needs.

Meanwhile, funding it all, through his typically fair and balanced taxes (and sometimes by other means that are not mentioned), the Treasurer Bardwin Theabaldus sits in the Royal Black Keep, filling his coffers, stacking his bars of Amber Golden Pegasi, counting his piles and bags of Silver Riyals, Copper farthings, and
Heavenly Nine Pound Pieces of Platinum. Suffice to say that the taxes are fair, the money flows in and out, and the economy has its ups and downs.

But on the whole, the world is dangerous but it is good. Now all it needs is a few good adventurers to help clean it up. And there are few of them at the moment

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mumblety-Peg and Long Lost Mages

     Sir Thomas found Upiyo in the crew's quarters after checking on his war horse Perforante. The large, black steed had been disturbed by the sling ride from the dock up and over, into the hatch, and down to his straw-lined berth below deep withing the belly of the ship. The huge stallion had even tried to bite at Sir Thomas, although it was mostly lips and little teeth and he had only grabbed Sir Thomas"s surcoat. The knight stroked at the rip in his right sleeve and smiled at the feistiness of the horse. 

     Better a grouch than a milque-toast in a war horse, he thought.

     Upiyo was seated back in the semi-darkness of the crew berths, flipping a dagger from his elbow toward a small circle on the floor. As the dagger flipped end over end, it struck the deck next to a small circle drawn on the floor with a piece of charcoal from one of the lamps. The crewman off-duty who surrounded him in the dim light cheered loudly and as the young boy quickly snatched up the dagger in disgust, the crew men grabbed coppers from the top of a barrel of ship's biscuits, obviously a game of chance and skill of some sort in process. Upiyo protested "Wait, wait" and placed the tip of the knife to his elbow again, begging for another chance.
     Standing in the shadows, leaning against one of the ship's ribs, Sir Thomas cleared his throat softly as Upiyo flipped the dagger once again. He started at the sound and his elbow jerked back, the blade flipping more than he wanted. The knife tumbled downward and its point dug into the tip of his soft shoe, narrowly missing one of his toes, and he yipped at the impact, tugging his leg against the knife. The crewmen, when they realized who was in their midst, stood upright immediately and their hands went stealhily behind them, the coins they carried or had recently won secreted away in their waistbands or down the back of their trousers, to hopefully be retrieved later. The First Mate, Gobbo, hoped that the three coppers and the one silver thalion did not slip from his waistband but ride against the pressure of his belt.

     "I would like a word with the young bladesmith, if I may?" He stepped to Upiyo and motioned with a sweeping hand to the other crewmen, jerking his head toward the ladder that lead to the upper deck. The crewmen disappeared in all directions, suddenly remebering or finding taskes that needed to be done. Upiyo continued to tug at his shoe, trying to get his shoe unstuck while not pulling the shoe off his foot. Sir Thomas reached down and pulled the dagger from the deck and chuckled as Upiyo stumbled backward at the release of pressure and fell into the berth behind him. The knight smiled as Upiyo sheepishly crawled from the berth, took the sharp dagger from the knight's hand and slid it back into his waistband. 

     Wrapping his arm around Upiyo's shoulder in a fatherly embrace, he leaned his head down and whispered to Upiyo, "Tell me a story. I'd like to hear about the Crystal Ball that was found before I joined the party ..."

     Knocking gently upon the Captain's door of the ship, Sir Thomas stepped back a step and waited quietly. When he heard the summons, he pulled the rope slipping the latch and entered, ducking under the lintel of the door, a beam of the upper deck which showed marks from less observant people in the past. Dayne was seated against the hull side, a book in his left hand as he waved his right hand in conjurations, practicing a spell apparently.

     Dayne leaned back against the hull of the ship. He could feel the waves in the harbor slapping against the side of the ship as it rode tied up against the dock. The cargo it was taking on should be loaded soon and the caravel would hopefully sail with the morning flood tide. Soon the next adventure would start and the memories of the monolith and the Lizardmen would be a distant memory.
     Dayne sighs.  "This is, at least, one trail to follow. Let us hope it is not a false trail. Sir Thomas, why do you say 'we may or may not be able to locate by normal means'?  Do have a scrap of additional information on inn?"