Arem

Chapter 3

The group returns from the North with Davadus and Patriclus with them. Tiberious takes his brothers to see their father. They go to Augustus’ largest estate, The Pantheon, which is located south of Domith, on the east side of the Lake of Elysses. It is a massive building, with huge pillars located at the entrance. Surrounding it is a wall 15 feet in height, with a walkway on it for defense (if need be). The group is welcomed by all guards there, who look upon them highly. They are escorted through the massive yard, into the Pantheon, and taken directly to see Count Augustus Thrawn.

The three sons walk into the room, and Count Augustus stands and greets both Davadus and Patriclus with hugs, but returns to his seat before greeting Tiberious.

Count Augustus: “Welcome back Davadus and Patriclus. How was your time on the vaunted Wall?”

Sons give a quick recap of what they did, with Patriclus talking super-fast and explaining a lot more than his younger brother.

Count Augustus: “Very good. Hopefully you learned much up there, both about war as well as conducting yourself with honor (he says as he eyes Tiberious). Now please, you two leave us, as well as the guards. I must talk to Tiberious alone.”

Sons and guards leave.

Count Augustus: “I see you have maintained your path of indignity. First you take a title which you did not earn, and then become servant to a lesser lord. When you asked me for my leave to join the group, I thought maybe this was just a phase, and that you would come to your senses soon enough. If you wanted to go help some insignificant villagers? Fine. How you waste your time is of no concern to me. But now I hear you are running a princess from the bloody north around Arem, even though we are for all intents and purposes at war with them. The Baron says fetch, and you obey, just like a common dog. Do you wash him after he relieves himself as well?”

Count Augustus: “I will ask you once, and only once: leave that ragged group of yours and try to keep what little honor you have left. Will you do this?”

Count Augustus: I had so much faith in you Tiberious. You were destined for so much, but how hard you have fallen in just the last few years. I say this with a heavy heart Tiberious, but it must be said if the honor of this family is to remain. The Thrawn’s do not serve, we lead. And you, my son, are no leader. Thus, as of this point, I revoke you as my heir and instead grant it to Davadus. Patriclus might be next in line, but he is just like you, a follower. Davadus is the man I wish you would have become, and he will be the one to lead us once I have passed on. You will remain in the family, for that is the father’s duty, but you shall not be the one to hold the title and powers that comes with the Thrawn name.”

Count Augustus: “Do you remember what our family’s words are, Tiberious?

Count Augustus: “Strength and Honor. You lack both, and I only hope that you bring no further shame to this family. Be gone, and run back to your new master.”

Theguards come in and escort Tiberious out as Augustus ignores him, and he returns to Baron Pont’s estate.

The group is once again at Baron Pont’s estate, after their adventures to the north.

Baron Pont: “Hello friends. Excellent job on the last mission! I have already received a raven from Maester Freeze that Miranda and Prince Robert are getting along charmingly. More importantly, tensions between Nester and Arrodia have dissipated significantly. We can now rest easy knowing that war will not erupt in the north.”

Baron Pont: “My Maester has been busy himself, tending to all these ravens coming in. The Wall has also sent us word of your endeavors up there. Excellent job I must say. It is a sad day indeed when the Men of the Wall falter, but thanks to all of your courageous efforts, we will remain safe from the Wandering Folk for another day. I must ask though, how were the conditions at the Wall?”

Baron Pont: “A sad state of affairs. I will speak with the representatives from each city and inform them of the plight, now that my men have seen it with their own eyes. Thank you again for your service. Unfortunately, I must request all of your help once again. We may have prevented war in the north, but now it springs up elsewhere. Abastho and Qarnill are at each others throats. Qarnill has cut off Abastho from the sea, and as you can imagine this does not please Abastho. To be frank with all of you, Abastho deserves it. They have completely cut off Qarnill from trade, and on top of that will not let them pass up the Alluvial River. Qarnill has tried to negotiate terms with them, but those fell on deaf ears. Thus, Tarentum has now been commanded to bar any Abastho ships from heading out to sea. I have come to a solution though, a costly one at that. As you know, Domith’s power comes from trade. Everything ends up in Domith one way or another, and thus, any trade is good trade. This recent impasse between Qarnill and Abastho has been devastating to us financially. Not as many goods are being moved up and down the river, which in turn isn’t finding its way to Domith, which is costing everyone money. I called a meeting of the great nobles and traders of Domith to try and find a solution, and we believe we have found one. We are going to pay a large sum of money to each city to end this blockade. I do not use the word ‘large’ lightly either friends. But in the end, we look at this like an investment: we pay early, and hope to gain dividends by the end. Any questions so far?”

Baron Pont: “Thus, your mission is to first take the gold to Abastho, then down to Qarnill. There has been an increase in raids on the main roads as of late, thus one option is to avoid the roads all together as you make your way to Abastho. If you wish to go this route, you will travel north, into the Sunfall Plains, and then make your way west. The other option is to stay on the road, which will reduce the time it takes you to get there, but also increases your chances of being attacked. Whatever path you choose, there is only one goal: protect the money at all costs. Once you reach Abastho, you will take the money to Lord Amalric personally. Once that is completed, you will travel down the Alluvial River via boat, so graciously given to you by the city of Abastho, at the cost of some gold of course. You will then stop in Tarentum to resupply, at which point the Qarnill navy will escort you to Qarnill. Here, you will drop off the gold with the Supreme Commander of the Qarnill Forces, Commander Justinian Phokas, father to our very own Belisarius. Commander Justinian had previously commanded several important divisions in the Clockwork Pass, but recently has been raised up to the rank of Supreme Commander, which had opened up due to the death of his predecessor Commander Mundus.”

Baron Pont: “You may ask why we are sending such a small group with such a large sum of money. Why not send an entire army? We do not want anyone else to know we are doing this. If Nester and Forlong find out we are paying gold to increase trade, they will instantly try to jump on that wagon. We do not have endless resources, and thus must be smart about this. This must be kept a secret, and that is why I, and my associates, have chosen all of you. Any questions concerning the mission?”

Baron Pont: “Very good. You all have done amazing so far, and we are already seeing results. May the fates watch over you.”

As the group is leaving Baron Pont’s estate, multiple ravens appear, each going to a nobe, with the following request: “You have been summoned to participate in the great Tournament of Apples, which takes place at Lake Appletop near Forlong. You will be participating in the jousting tournament in honor of your city and its people. Go, and show why our city is the best.”

The group arrives at Lake Appletop and the nobles immediately start jousting. Both Arathorn and Belisarius got eliminated in the first round, while Vern and Thrawn made it up to the final four. Unfortunately, both lost, and had to face each other for third place. Thrawn ended up winning, placing third overall in the tournament.

While the jousting tournament was going on, the commoners stayed busy with various activities. Jaque stole from numerous people, and got a certain “Thieves Swagger” to his step. Kong Fuzi discussed theories on how to further improve Healing Potion, helping cause a break through. Maester Simon, a leading researcher in the healing art, gives him an Exceptional Healing Point. Finally, The Bastard competed in the Drunktop Race, where he had to chug 5 special beers, jump across a pit of mud, walk across a balance beam, climb a wall, and then wrestle a big into a barrel full of apples. He ended up winning the competition, and earned the title “The Inebriator”, as well as 3 bottles of special Appletop Beer (not purchasable by anyone) and 1 gold.

After the tournament, the group decided to travel to Abastho via the nature route. Barring a heavy rain that gave everyone colds, the trip was uneventful. The group ended up traveling through the night, not stopping at “The Tired Trout”, to reach Abastho quicker.

The group finally makes it to their destination. They come to a stop at the great Dowser Path, a massive bridge that allows crossing over the Alluvial River. The port seems uncharacteristically slow, with few ships moving through. In front of them stands Abastho, the City of the West. The very front of the city actually goes into the water, with Abastho’s port being held within it, behind its massive walls. The group sees a giant portcullis raised from where the ships enter and exit the port, though few ships are going either way on this day. There are two entrances into the city, Dowser Path and Raventhorn Pass (no relation to Vern’s Dad), both of which are the biggest bridges in Arem. The group sees the Abastho flag (silver and green, with a boat on it) raised above a massive tower, Pilgrim’s Watch.

As a bit of backstory, Abastho is home to the largest church in all of Arem, Ona’s Shadow. The believers here follow Ona, who is believed to embody all that is good in the world. Legend has it that the world was covered in ice, with no living things anywhere. Ona came to the land as a tiny kernel of heat, which supposedly landed in the very spot of the Shadow and the reason so many pilgrims travel to Abastho. From that spot, she heated just a tiny, tiny spot of Arem. From there, her heat grew outwards, raging war against the cold, and nurturing life as it continued to grow. She continued to expand; covering all of Arem, until evil finally grasped its final foothold, which is supposedly just beyond where the Wall was built.

The group crosses the bridge and is met by Abastho forces, who escort them to Pilgrim’s Watch. As they go through Abastho, they notice that the town is obviously very connected to the river. Fish are sold everywhere, along with all the supplies that go with that (fishing poles, boats, bait, etc.). The weather is warmer here, so people are dressed in relatively light clothing. The group also notices many religious symbols about the town.

The group finally makes it to Pilgrim’s Watch, after being let in through its massive gates. They dismount, and soldiers carry the money into Watch. They are led upstairs to the Overlook, the main hall of Abastho. There, they see Lord Quantar Amalric, a man of average height and weight, though with little muscle on him. To his right is the Commanding Officer of Abastho, Gerard Lawrence, who is of leaner build that comes from working/traveling by ship. While he does not have the same notoriety of Ronald the Terror, he is considered to be the best ship commander in all of Arem, though not nearly as talented at land tactics as many of the other commanders.

To Lord Amalric’s left is the Grand Septon Baldric the Benevolent (note: all Grand Priests receive the last name “Benevolent”, keeping only their first name). A very short man who has clearly never seen combat, he does create a sense of calmness and kindness around himself.
Lord Amalric: “Welcome to Abastho fine warriors. How were your travels? I assume you have the payment that Domith worked out with us correct?”

Grand Septon Baldric: “Thank Ona for your safe passes. She truly has blessed us this day, with the darkness that walks the main roads…”

Lord Amalric: “Yes, Ona has looked down upon this group graciously. So, all of you are supposed to represent the cities of Arem correct, to try and bring peace between us?”

Lord Amalric: “I see. I find it interesting that the group promotes the kingdoms working together, yet I do not see a single Abastho citizen within your ranks. And no less than two of you from both Qarnill and Domith.…”

Lord Amalric: “No worries you brave men. Abastho is used to being ignored. The City of the West, the one that is always forgotten, that might as well be our motto. This especially goes for Domith, who clearly supports Qarnill over us. It is fine though. Ona taught us that being humble is a virtue, and we try to live by that. Thank you once again for bringing us the payments safely. Please talk to my Maester concerning the boat that was purchased for you. Now if you excuse me, I must get back to work. Good day.”

Lord Amalric and Commander Gerard Lawrence leave the room while the Maester escorts the group down to the port, where they are shown their boat.

Maester Eustace: “This is your boat, the Enterpirse. She’s a great vessel, made by the finest ship builders in all of Arem. We have supplied the ship with food and drink, along with all other basic necessities. You may leave at first light tomorrow, when I will have the paperwork done on the vessel. You will find living quarters within the ship are tight, but manageable. I apologize, but I must be going no. I need to finish up some important business. I will meet you here tomorrow morning with all the necessary contracts, as well as the gold that is being sent to Qarnill. Best to keep it safe in the Keep rather than out here on the port. Good night.”

Maester Eustace hustles away, and the group clearly sees that he is going to have a busy night tonight.

The entrance to the city is protected by a large contingency of guards. The group approaches them, and the guards spoke the following:

Guards: “Qarnill and Abastho are currently untrusting of each other, and since you have two Qarnillians in your group, you may NOT enter the city. All of you may be working with Qarnill. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are under orders by Commander Lawrence.”

The group decides to not push their luck, and retire for the night. The next day Maester Eustace, along with some guards, comes to the boat and gives the group the necessary papers, as well as the rest of the money which is going to Qarnill. They all wish the group safe travels.

The boat leaves the port just as the sun starts to rise, and the group travels down the gorgeous Alluvial River, where they see new bird species all around them, as well as fish jumping out of the water. There are many small fishing villages along the river, with much smaller boats out on the water. As they make it further down the river and out of sight of Abastho, they notice a boat has been following them.

Pirates attack the Enterprise, but thanks to the valiant efforts of the group, they repel them. During the battle, the group discovers that the enemy ship has started taking in water, causing the group to rush to try and save the treasure in the boat, as well as their very lives. After negotiating terms, they take two hostages from the pirates in exchange for information on where they are keeping their hidden treasure. Notable things that occurred during the battle: Jaque got knocked off the boat and had a lot of trouble swimming to the shore, The Bastard got knocked unconscious, and the group found some gold.

After the ship battle, the rest of the journey is uneventful. They group makes it to Tarenturm unharmed. They travel beneath the grand statue of Zardon the Sail that overlooks the river and port. On the interior, they see a busy port, much busier than Abastho’s was. The group surmises that it’s due to the traffic coming from Qarnill. There are many different boats going to and fro, and there are guards posted nearly everywhere.

The boat docks in the port, and immediately is surrounded by Tarentum soldiers (30 of them, at least, by count). Their leader walks forward, wearing plated armor, a large man in his late 20s who is clearly ready for war. He demands that Belisarius drop his weapon and come off the boat and face his punishment. The group looks nervously around, and Belisarius comes off with his head down. The leader comes up right next to him, taller than Belisarius, and stares him right in the face. Belisarius looks up, and both men finally crack up as they shake hands.

Captain Narses: “We had him going didn’t we Bel? Thought your group was about to shit themselves! HAR HAR HAR! Didn’t know you northerners were so easily spooked! Won’t make it one day in Tarentum without us, will they Bel? Okay guys, shows over. Restock their ship for them. We are heading out tomorrow morning for Qarnill with the loot. Bel, you and your group will follow me. I’m sure you’ll want to check in on how the city, and her defenses, are doing.”

The group is escorted through Tarentum, which in a way, is a great representation of what happens when nobility and the wealthy mix with the common and poor. There is no “better parts of town” in Tarentum. The group crosses a beautiful home, which Narses says is owned by a rich merchant, which is located right next to a whore house that has seen better days. The group can clearly tell that it is a reciprocal relationship: the poor do the nobles dirty work, and the nobles take care of the poor. While that doesn’t seem so different from most of Arem, the group gets a sense that the superiority complex isn’t here in Tarentum. The nobles don’t see themselves as being better, just richer, and the poor don’t resent the nobles because there is a mutual respect. Thus everyone seems to get along swimmingly, which is clear from the mood in the streets, which could only be described as jovial, with every other person being drunk, many tall tales being told (I fucked 3 of the 5 Ladies of Arem, and it would have been 4 if not for Lord Snow coming at me with an axe!), and wheeling and dealing occurring everywhere.

The group finally reaches Tarentum’s military base, Dredge Fort. It is a spectacular fort, with large walls surrounding it and towers throughout, which Belisarius explains comes from the friendly “donations” the richer members of society have given them. This is to help protect the town (they say), and more importantly, the rich peoples’ investments, from bandits in the lands adjacent to Tarentum.

Narses: “I’m sure you’ll hate to hear this, but bandit attacks have been on the raise, continuing the trends you saw before you left. We of course have held them off, but the frequency and viciousness of the attacks has been alarming. Granted, the ones above could have just sent me out with my men and we could have cleaned all those ass holes up in a fortnight, but they don’t like unleashing the beast do they Bel? Probably too concerned that I would put them all out of jobs! HAR HAR HAR!”

Narses takes you into Belisarius office and the two discuss the recent events of Tarentum. After the meeting, Narses puts you up in the quarters and suggests that you guys have a causal night out on the town, to welcome Belisarius back to his home town. Belisarius warns everyone that there is NEVER a causal night out with Narses. Everyone decides to go out by Thrawn.

During their night out, the group got into a bar fight, did some gambling, and finally ended up on the top of the statue of Zardon the Sail, where Belisarius and Narses talked about old times.

Narses: “Well I hope I showed you old boys a good time. Tarentum can be a mean bitch, but she treats you well too. For all the shit we get about being the asshole of Qarnill, we have a good town here. Don’t you agree, Bel?”

Narses: “Another great adventure tomorrow eh Bel? Just another one for the books! Like that time our search party got surrounded by those bandits? Remember what you said to them Bel? Tell the group!”

Narses: “HAR HAR HAR! They shit their pants didn’t they!”

The group reflects on previous experiences in life, as well as that very night, and as the sun continues to rise, and readies themselves for their next adventure.

The next morning, the group wakes up, with those who went out with quite the hangover. They meet Narses in the dining area, and he looks like a million dollars, while everyone else looks like shit.

Narses: “This your first time drinking boys? Here, eat this. Grease always clears up a hangover, as well as some hair of the dog! HAR HAR HAR!”

Group eats, and after some vomiting, is ready to go. The group goes to the port, where the Tarentum navy is already ready. They have 4 ships escorting the group today, giving a grand total of 5. Narses is leading this mission from one of the other boats. The ships set sail, and leave the port of Tarentum with (mostly, those that they can remember) fond memories.

The group travels the ocean with no trouble. They see some suspicious ships along the way, but none of them approach due to the Tarentum’s Navy being there. Narses curses each ship as he passes them, calling them cowards and flipping them the bird.

The group sees islands along the way, many of them populated with small groups of people. Belisarius explains how many of Qarnill’s islands have people on them, due to ancient law: if you have your own island, you are considered nobility. Thus, many tiny, tiny islands that otherwise would be useless have small families on them so that they may have a noble title. This title has little meaning minus the actual title, but people give great strength to titles, and thus why people often search far and wide for islands to populate.

After traveling a significant distance, the group sees a massive wall up ahead, rising from the ocean. There are troops above walking along it, with towers placed sporadically throughout. Belisarius tells the group of the Wave Breaker, Qarnill’s ocean wall. It forms a physical barrier against any unwanted ships getting in, making Qarnill basically un-assailable by sea. It is a special alloy that is nearly impossible to rust, which came from the great minds of Qarnill.

One of the great gates on the Wave Breaker opens up and allows the ships to pass through. Once inside, the group sees the magnificence of Qarnill. It seems overall more “modern” (for ancient times) look to it, with taller buildings and brighter colors. Boats are everywhere, whether small or big. The group lands at the port, where they are greeted by Qarnill soldiers. Narses jumps off the boat and gives shit to one of the Captains, an old friend of his. The crew disembarks the ship.

Narses: “Guys, I’d like you to meet my friend, Captain Vigilius, and trust me, the name fits the bill. He might be a bit of an uptight guy, but he is damn good at what he does. As much as I know you guys wish I could stay, I must be heading back to Tarentum. I’ll be surprised if it hasn’t been burnt down already without me there!”

Narses and Bel shake hands, and Narses says goodbye to his new friends. The group watches as the ships sail off.

Vigilius: “I will escort all of you to see Lord Justin Marcellus, who wishes to look upon the gold himself.”

The group is escorted through the city, with a large group of soldiers protecting the gold. Everywhere they look it seems the people of Qarnill are studying, or tinkering with something. Machines of different kinds are used for much of the manual labor (machines in terms of levers, pulleys, etc. simple machines), though some people still help out. Almost everything is made of smooth stone, compliments of the advanced technology in the region. After walking a considerable distance, a sign appears that says “Land”. One of the members asks the guard about that, and he says that they just now step foot on real land. The rest of their trip they have been on the manufactured land built to deal with Qarnill’s rapid expansion.

Up ahead, they see Sea Guard, the main fortress of Qarnill. The fortress itself has almost no corners, an advancement made by Qarnill’s architectures to help against siege weaponry (harder to get direct hits on it). Gold and purple banners hang from its walls, with the flag flying high above with the symbol of Qarnill on it, the whale. A mechanized system opens the gates as the group approaches the castle, allowing them inside its walls. They are escorted to the Pergamum, the great hall of Sea Guard. In comparison to the other halls the group has seen, this is by far the most magnificent. A planetarium is above them, showing all the know constellations. There are no windows in this room, with the main light being provided by a sun structure that is located above them; it is bright enough to light the room very well.

Before them they see Lord Justin Marcellus. He stands just under 6 feet tall and is very skinny. He does not look like he would be suited for war, unless that war involved pen and paper. He appears to be in his late 30’s early 40’s. Next to him is Commander Justinian Phokas, Belisarius’s father. The group instantly recognizes him from their similar appearance: Belisarius definitely takes after his dad. There are also guards stationed around.

Lord Marcellus: “Welcome Belisarius and friends! I see you have brought the negotiated terms with you as well. Guards, please take it back to the royal coffers. Thank you. So Belisarius, been keeping up with your studies?”

Lord Marcellus: “Very well. I apologize for my briefness; I must get back to my research. I am very close to making a break-through in my new hydraulic machine. I thank you all again for your help.”

The Lord leaves, when Commander Phokas approaches his son and gives him a big hug.

Commander Phokas: “It is so good to see you again son. How is Tarentum doing?”

Commander Phokas: “That is good to hear. And how are your adventures with this group? I can’t speak highly enough about what all of you are doing. I know you have had a mixed past, but you are making amends for that with your actions in the present. I was told of your accomplishments up north, and now easing tensions between Abastho and Qarnill? I do not know where Arem would be without all of you!”

Commander Phokas: “Son, I have a request for you and these honorable men. We are getting word from some of our more isolated island settlements that raider attacks have been on the rise. These are very insignificant settlements, but we must protect our own no matter what. Will you sail against these foes, in the name of Qarnill?”

Commander Phokas: “Excellent. Here is the map to the location, and here is a signed letter letting the people of that region know you are there to help in the name of Qarnill. Time is of the essence, as I’m not sure how much longer those settlements can hold up. God speed good men, and may the winds bless your sails.”

The group takes their boat out of port and pass through the Wave Breaker unhindered. Once out at sea, they travel for a while when they see a storm is gathering. They prepare the best they can, but soon it hits them, and the boat is being rocked back and forth. Luckily, the group worked together to ready the boat for the storm, and made it safely through.

The group comes upon the island, only to see that the raiders had already gotten there. Many of the buildings are on fire, and there are raiders in the streets. Acting quickly, they saved 6 of the 7 citizens who were in danger, earning them the eternal thanks of this small town. For their troubles, they were given one gold each from Qarnill and offered one gold each by the citizens of the island. Thrawn, Belisarius, and Arathorn give their money back to help the people, while everyone else took the money. They return to Qarnill to report what happened, and then head back to Domith to conclude their adventure.

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