Savage Swords of the Hyborian Age

Of Ships and Slaves

Akivasha surveyed the table, as the crowded tavern leaned in at her wager. Kenshin, standing behind her, leaned in and whispered “Good Luck”. Akivasha felt the blade of his dagger pressed into her back knowing that any bad luck on her part would be short-lived.

It had taken them a week, but they had managed to track down the Zingaran Captain who had tricked Sura into slavery. Goading into a high stakes dice game, Akivasha initially fared poorly, losing most of their assets and new found fortune. Upping the stakes, she promised herself, Kenshin, and Kaari into slavery if they lost.

To great cheers, the three found themselves in possession of their lost goods, a surly bossonian, and a ship.

The Dagon’s Valour

After a day familiarizing themselves with their new possession, Tyson came to them with an introduction. Lady Ameline, of the House Pompilius, seeks the lost scrolls of Tsothemenes, a Corinthian scholar. She believes the scrolls to be in possession of one named ‘Broso’, or something similar, who resides in Tortage. As they depart, Akivasha spies a suspicious individual eying them. Reassuring them that those of the Merchant Houses are always under observation, Ameline departs.

As the crew rig for departure, a similar dressed individual is spotted on the pier. Trying to sneak upon him, he evades them and escapes leaving the party unsure. Why are they being watched?

It is an eight day trip to Tortage, and the adventurers familiarize themselves with a life at sea. Upon the eighth day, the ship pulls into the harbor at Tortage where she anchors, too cheap to pay the 20 silver required for docking. Akivasha asks the crew if they have heard then name ‘Broso’, which alerts Kenshin. He believes this ‘Broso’ might refer to Valbroso Quantillo, an old sea dog. Spending much of the day ashore, and some silver, Valbroso is tracked down.

Valbroso does not have the scrolls, but he believes he knows where they are. Twenty years ago, his captain led them to an island off the Pictish coast. He went ashore and never returned. The crew departed, but not before Valbroso made a map of the islands location. Purchasing a copy of the map, the crew returned to the Valour.

Tsothemenes map

As they were being ported aboard, the crew noticed the arrival of the Red Trident, a Zingaran Pirate vessel … the crew of which seemed mighty attentive of the Valour. Deciding not to risk things, the crew of the Valour decided to wait until the Trident was fully docked, and slip out under the cover of darkness. As she was slipping from the harbor, the lookouts reported that their ruse had failed! The Trident was hurriedly recalling her crew to get underway, probably in the pursuit of the Valour!

But all matters are not ill. Upon quietly setting sail, Akivasha (in her role as ship’s captain) spied that her cabin had been entered. Upon entering and challenging, they discovered a Zamorian thief in the process of robbing them – their old companion Miraslav!

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To Dream, Perchance to Sleep
Voyage Home
Night

Akivasha awoke with a start, the scream still forming on her lips as she sat up. For a few minutes she sat staring into the darkness of the divided cabin, forcing the fear out of her. As she calmed herself, Akivasha looked around the darkened quarters of the ship to see that her friends were still there, safe and asleep.

Sleep.

That simple rejuvenating act eluded her again this night, as it had for the past fortnight. Indeed, since Akivasha and her companions had escaped the hell that had been their prison, sleep had come fitfully. And when she could sleep, the dreams would start. Not that she could remember anything with clarity. No, there were snippets here and there. Moments in time that were, cruelly, just out of focus to her minds eye.

It had taken some convincing for the ship’s master to divide his cabin, hanging linens so that they could have some semblance of privacy. Akivasha and her companions slept to the larboard side of the cabin, the master and Tyson to the starboard side. She stretched and made her way into the cool night air of the ship’s deck, stopping to pull one of the rough linen mantles she had purchased in the last port onto her bare shoulders. She avoided the watch, not wanting to engage in yet another night of oafish attempts at seducing her. The very thought of any of the crew laying hands on her like a slattern made her skin crawl and her stomach turn. Their smell did not help her mood any. “Gods below, you would think with all of this water, they could bathe on occasion.”

“You have never bathed is salt water then, princess Akivasha?”

Akivasha jumped at the voice. It took her a moment to recognize Tyson’s pantherish gate as he crossed the deck to stand beside her. “it’s not very refreshing.”

Akivasha adjusted the rough linen mantle on her shoulders to make sure it covered her body. The thin cloth shift she wore covered her body, but left precious little to the imagination. “I did not realize you were there, Master Tyson. And please, do not use that honorific. If others had heard you…” She stole a quick glance over her shoulder, making sure that there was no one close to overhear.

Tyson only laughed. “Afraid the crew will sell you into slavery? Or worse?” He patted her on the head, much like an older sibling would. “Worry not. I would not have gone to such efforts to free you, just to have these sea dogs take you!”

Swatting his hand away from her head, “It’s not the crew I worry about.” Brushing a loose strand of hair from her face, “My compatriots…they know I am of noble lineage, but I have not elaborated. Nor do I intend to. It is difficult enough being a Stygian. But to know that I am descended from those snake worshippers in Luxur itself! I fear would be too much, even for them.“ With a heavy sigh, Akivasha leans on the rail, staring out at the dark waters. “Koros, or Kenshin, or whatever he wishes to be called now, already speaks of leaving. Koth, and a free company his destination. Sura and Kaari, I do not know. I believe they will stay with the ship as far as Messantia, but whether they will be there when I arrive, I know not.”

Tyson cupped her chin and looked her in the face. “I think you have too little faith in their trust. And as for Koros, well…he is a grown man, and you cannot force him to do what you wish. I overheard your discussion with him earlier today…”

Akivasha pulled away. “You mean argument.” She settles onto the deck, pouting. “Bah…he speaks to me like a child. Kaari too. Even though I am older, they speak with more experience of the world around us. Ibis’ eyes, even Sura has seen more than I have, locked away in my father’s house all those years!”

“And yet, you speak and they follow. No, you have experience, just not in the same ways your friends do. Even more than that…you love them more than family. You have fought side by side. You have bled for each other. “ Leaning down, Tyson took Akivasha’s hands, pulling her back to her feet. “That is a bond not even Sten has with you.” Tyson looked at her, tracing the line of her jaw with a finger. “Though I can see why he is so fascinated with you, little lotus.”

“Sten called me that.”

“I know…”


Morning

Kaari and Sura, wandered the after deck, taking in the morning light. Sura drank slowly from her cup. “Aki wasn’t with us this morning. And the crew says she wasn’t amongst them, either.” Kaari gave Sura a sideways glance. “If she wasn’t with us, and not with the crew, then where is she?”

Koros, helping to man the ships tiller, grunted. As part of the crew, he slept on deck. There, he heard every story, every fantasy, the men had of Akivasha. He also knew there was a certain amount of fear as well. She was stygian, and rumoured to be a priestess. And to the crew, that could only mean sorcery. And sailors feared magic.

Koros nodded towards the small ladder leading up to where they stood. As Sura and Kaari turned, they saw Akivasha , followed by Tyson. Kaari turned away immediately as she recognized the smile on Akivasha’s face.

Tyson smiled in greeting to Koros, Sura, and Kaari, “I pray you slept well?” Sura took another sip from her cup before answering. “As well as one can be expected to on this ship.” Koros only grunted, staring at Tyson.

Akivasha treaded lightly to the rail, leaning heavily on it and breathing in the fresh morning air. “The sea is so very lovely in the morning, isn’t it?” Tyson nodded, “Yes little lotus, it is.”

Sura noted the change in Akivasha’s voice, and the…kindness…with which she spoke to Tyson. Until this morning, she was barely speaking to anyone, and when she did, she did so icily. Tyson had explained that much weighed on her mind, and not to worry. Akivasha would come around to being herself soon. Still…Sura wondered what had put the young stygian into such a good mood.

But, he called her something. Not her name. Why did he call her ‘little lotus’…

Kaari tried to keep a straight face, finding it more and more difficult as Sura, ever so slowly, began to understand the source of Akivasha’s rare good mood.

“Mitra! You two!!! You….and her…and you…HERE….ONBOARD…WITH ALL OF THESE MEN ABOUT!”

Akivasha turned and looked at the now very red-faced bossonian. “Uhm…Sura, what cess-pit has your mind wandered to? “ After a moment, she looked back at Tyson, then to Kaari, and finally back to Sura. “Oh…OH! You think that…that he and I…”

At that, even Kaari just stared at the two of them. She had assumed the same. Now, she wasn’t so sure.

And Koros stifled a knowing grin.

Earlier that morning, he had seen the two wander back into the cabin as he relieved the night watch.

He had seen the two of them in the cabin as he made his rounds, Tyson sitting, a watchful eye turned out as the little princess slept.

Meeting Sura and Kaari’s eyes, he could contain it no longer, and laughed heartily…

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History
Koros/Kenshin

Well it looks like someone else is now in the possession of all our acquired items and has trashed your name with your extended family as well to the point they beleave your dead it would seem.

Have a nice time conquering your homelands…

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Sura's secret journal

__It is a secret! ^^

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Akivasha's Journals
journal

Tomb of the King

Samara

After we arrived in Samara with my families caravan, I was informed that our goods, horses, and camels were to be turned over as payment for an old family debt. The signature and seal on the scroll was indeed that of my father, so I had very little choice. With a bitter taste in my mouth, I bid my companions to take their personal belongings, and we left our wealth to the mongrels at the souk.

My father’s dispatch had a personal letter for me, instructing me to find an old friend of his, Ali-Ben Harouz, a local merchant. It was possible that he could provide us work, or a caravan, to begin again. We found Ali-Ben at the end of the souk. He was a large, pinched-faced man with a jovial disposition, but with the eyes of a hawk. After I introduced myself and my companions, he said that he did have some work for people with our talents, but he wanted a test of trust first. I agreed, seeing as there were no better prospects. His task to us was simple. Find a mercenary named Garath Orl in the Free Companies staging grounds, and collect a document from him…discreetly. A password was given, and we were off.

What we did not know, and learned upon arriving at the staging grounds, was that there were many free companies gathered here. Far more than a city-state like Samara would require. But that was not our concern, so we started looking for Garath. After asking around, and finding a helpful (bribed) city official, we located Garath. A tall, handsome Brythunian, he talked quickly and quietly with us after the password (Devi) was given. We were given a small tube, and he walked away. We, then, turned and headed back to Ali-Ben’s shop (with Kaari continuously whispering in my ear “what’s in the tube? No one would know!”) …..I must explain to her again what a test of trust is. It would be wrong to open it.

It was late evening by the time we returned to Ali-Ben’s shop. As we approached, we could hear the sounds of a struggle. Koros and Kaari, the experienced warriors, instantly leaped into action, pouring into the burst door of the shop. They were immediately set upon by assassins, intent upon making sure no one would live to report their work.

Sura, as methodical as any Bossonian I have met (although in truth she is the first), carefully set down her possessions, picked up her bow, and prepared to strike, when given an opportunity. How I envy the patience of these bossonians.

I, not being so calm or patient, immediately picked up Kaari’s shield, drew my sword, and charged forward, wishing to save the life of our employer, and my fathers friend.

The battle was swift and deadly. Although we struck down all of our foes, their leader proved deadly in his craft, striking down Ali-Ben with a well thrown dagger. I am sure it was poisoned, as Ali-Ben collapsed immediately. I was at his side immediately, trying vainly to help him. He shook his head, knowing that time was short. “No, take this. Find the satchel in the flour barrel, and deliver it to Darshan, at the Fortress of Graphapta. Make haste, for there is precious little time.” As he slumped, he dropped a leather pouch in my hands. I went to the flour bin, found the satchel, and stole away with my companions out the back before the sounds of the battle brought the town guard.

Nobility and Intrigue

We found an inn and stayed the night, tending to our wounded, and discussing the evenings events. Upon examining the satchel (and the tube, now that Ali-Ben was gone), we found that they contained papers naming all of the Free Companies and Imperial Turanian troops in the area, and the routes to Vendhya.

We sat and pondered. It all made sense to us now. It was well known that the King of Vendhya had recently passed away, leaving the country to be ruled by his sister, the Devi Yasmina. Rumors abounded of the King of Turan’s intent to marry the young Devi. The implications of this news, as well as the troop movements, told me that the King of Turan intended to make Vendhya a part of his empire. Something the people of Vendhya did not want.

We decided to honor Ali-Ben’s wishes, and deliver the documents to Darshan. Early the next morning, we gathered a few meager supplies and left Samara for the Vendhya, following the great Ilbars river.

Pass through the Misty Mountains

Our travels went without incident.

At least until we started into the pass through the Misty Mountains.

It was here that we met the first of our troubles. At the mouth of the pass, we were stopped by a band of ten or more brigands. Highwaymen with no regard for the rights or lives of others. They live to feed off those weaker than they.

WE were not what they expected. As we rode forward, their leader demanded we stop and pay a ‘toll’. Sighing, I asked him “How much is this toll?” With a wry grin (and obviously liking what he saw), he demanded 100 pieces of silver!

With an incredulous snort, I drew myself up straight, summoned forth the air of nobility that is my birthright, and demanded that they allow my party to pass unmolested.

And they did. If we had more time, I would have given him a lesson in manners with a switch to his back, as one would any common slave who dared make demands of me. But we were short of time and patience.

The Man-Ape

In truth, this pass frightens me. No. Maybe not the pass itself, but there is a heavy feeling of dread and fear in the air. It is always mist covered (as befitting the name of these mountains) and cold. And always, there is the feeling of something watching.

After about two days travel through the pass, we met up with a caravan of Iranistani bedding down for the night. Oaths and promises of protection and respect were offered and taken, we camped together. The leader of this group, Fallah Al’Kuraf, was a kind man, hospitable, with a (very) lovely daughter by the name of Alathra.

I had an enjoyable evening talking with Alathra, finally bedding down for the night as the first of our night watch started. It seemed like only a few moments, when a scream ripped through the night. We were up in a moment, just in time to see….something…carrying Alathra off into the darkness. With a half-muttered oath on my lips, we were after the creature. It was fast. It took us the rest of the night, and most of the day, to find the creatures lair.

On entering the creatures lair (for I feared it was not a man), we found the many bones of previous victims. I feared the worst as we delved deeper. I was amazed to find runes on the walls, warning not to disturb the dead. This did not ease my fears.

Sura, well in the lead, saw the dread beast, preparing to kill Alathra. The poor, frightened girl saw Sura and called out. As the rest of us turned the corner, the creature turned to face us.

Fear grasped at my throat as I finally saw it in the glow of a sickly, green light. The scarred body of a man, half again as tall as I, with the head of one of the fabled apes of the misty mountains. I cursed whatever inhuman god or twisted sorcerer that made this abomination, and struck upon a plan to rescue the girl. I am not a warrior. That is Koros and Kaari. Even my bossonian companion has seen more war and battle than I. So I would leave the fighting to them. I determined that I would slip behind the thing as it fought my companions, and free Alathra.

I did not have to wait long, as both Koros and Kaari, leaped to the attack, striking deep blows on our inhuman foe. It, however, was not without skill, as it landed a great blow upon Kaari, then folded the great savage into it’s giant grasp.

Taking this opportunity, I, as well as Sura, slipped behind the creature. Sura prepared to plant her blades into it’s back, as I began cutting the ropes holding the girl.

As I cut her bonds, I heard the creature bellow, then fall to the ground, mortally wounded. Sura looked very disappointed that she had not been able to land a blow. I would console her later, for we had the girl to worry about. As I helped her up, I realized she had been tied to an ancient sarcophagus. Curiosity getting the better of me, I pried it open.

I should have warned my companions. As the lid opened, the ancient ones arm fell out, striking fear into the heart of Kaari and Koros. It is the nature of their savage, uneducated upbringing that feeds their superstitions and fears. It took me a while to calm them, at which point I could look closer. What I found was wondrous.

It was the tomb of an ancient Turanian king. Within I found a scepter, obviously the instrument of his power and claim as king. He had a beautiful scimitar as well, and a bag of silver coins (which will allay my companions. Silver is a universal salve). In his hand he gripped an ancient scroll. With these treasures secured, we escorted Alathra back down the mountain to her father. His gratitude was immense, showering us with 200 pieces of silver each, and a letter of introduction to a close friend of his in the city of Khawarizm.

After promising to see Alathra again, we rested, and then parted ways. It is now that I record these memories, and read what is written upon the parchment of the ancient king.

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