The Grey Veil

Mara's Gift

She stepped out of the dark woods onto the pebbled path that led to the spa. Her feet crunched slightly with each step, but that was just fine. There was no way she would try to sneak into this place. He’d be watching, she knew. Sure enough, within a few steps she spotted two reflective, slightly tilted eyes peering out from the foliage. Predator and prey acknowledged one another with a slight nod, and she continued on her way. She could only faintly hear the deep chuckle and his murmur of the word “Children….” as she passed. She tried to keep a steady pace despite the shaking in her legs.

At the end of the path, a cabin loomed in the moonlight with windows aglow. She opened the door without knocking. Just inside, there was a narrow, stone tiled entryway. Kicking off her shoes, she untied the belt at her waist and shed her clothes. She took the time to fold each piece of clothing neatly, placing them on top of her shoes and stacking the whole pile on the small bench by the door. She stood tall, shoulders squared and walked confidently toward the brightly lit room ahead.

“Master”, she said serenely in acknowledgement of the naked man sitting cross-legged on the polished wood floor. “I apologize for my lateness.”

“Sit.” It was the only word he said, but she knew he was unappeased. Well, maybe this would not go as she had expected. Sweating under his gaze, she tried not to feel the disappointment welling up inside.

Sighing, she attempted to explain, “Dax tried to follow me. I had to pretend to drink several glasses of ale, and THEN, I even had to slip him a little something before he finally passed out!” Her frustration was more than apparent, which she was certain would not please him, either.

His face remained expressionless for a time, but he broke into a grin and even chuckled a little. “Oh, do calm yourself, young one. It is of no consequence. Please sit so we can begin.”

Exhaling in relief, the apprentice sat across from her master, mirroring his position on the wooden floor. Crossing her legs, she placed hands on knees with upturned palms slightly opened. Composed and ready, she looked him in the eyes and nodded.

“So here we are,” said the Master, “just where I told you we would be if you continued your training. This is no small thing, young one. Those meager tricks you’ve learned on our journey, they are child’s play. THIS,” he gestured towards the space between them, “is what you aspire to master.”

Centered between the two, on a cloth spun of gleaming silver threads, were 5 small porcelain bowls. Each contained a single sample of a different type of food: a thin string-like pasta, a single glistening cherry, what appeared to be a small white fish in a yellow sauce, one glazed pork medallion and a sugared pastry the size of a large coin. The smells wafting from the food were beyond any she had ever experienced, and that was really saying something considering her present company. So delectable were these that she could never imagine eating regular food, again. The scents could be described as nothing less than heavenly, the ambrosia of the gods.

“I have not wasted my gifts on you; I can see from these past few weeks that you have great potential. Tomorrow, you continue on your journey alone for a time. Yet, I would not have you go without this final element of your training. I have prepared a few fine dishes for you, my dear apprentice.” Master smiled as he gestured and said, “The choice is yours, but for now, you may only choose one.”

A Letter to Clint from Brona

Dearest Clint,

My friend, we have searched high and low for you, but to no avail. I sadly leave this note in the hopes that we will reunite once again.

I cannot help, however, but to chastise you for not trusting in my ingenuity and care of you. I cannot help but feel that you did not trust me (I understand why you wouldn’t trust these other fools; they don’t share the connection we share). I cannot, in the end, help but feel abandoned.

Nevertheless, I will soldier on, as they say. And, in those sad hours when I miss your gloopy presence, I will think on all that we have shared. I will remember the grell-gloo, with fondness. I will remember our mutual distaste for Fenrick’s pretensions. I will remember the way you made that fish wiggle inside yourself after I had fed it to you.

Indeed, I will cherish these memories.

Still, I hold out hope that we will reunite again. And then, may we endeavor to create more edifices to our friendship (in the form, of course, of actual edifices, made of our slain enemies). But until then: I wish the best for you and your adventures. And may your mace always strike true!



P.S. I have a sweet, waterproof tub, with your name engraved in gold, waiting for you.

Is this the right prophecy?
Asherakes Camp

The gate was a top a wide plateau and near it there was a tent gazebo. Human slaves, Asherake guards, and an Asherake noble waited. The noble didn’t think anyone would be ‘brave’ enough to champion the city, and when he asked the one named Fenrick “Are you the champion?” to which Fenrick replied “Yes, yes I am!.” His servants were allowed to stay with the slaves and he was guaranteed safe conduct to the arena area for the match at dawn the next day.

Fenrick was given any comfort and many human women were excited to experience his company. He was treated very well as long as he did not leave his tent. He might be a respected enemy but he would not be given an opportunity to run off if he came to his senses and realized he was to be a combatant in a fight he was unable to win. It was prophesied nearly a thousand years ago who the loser was, this “Ladiesbane” fellow was just going through the motions.

Rampant rumors though the camp started by his friends just reinforced opinions of the prophecy. They spoke of his deadliness with the fairer sex. That no woman could withstand his charm or his blade. His prowess in arts of pleasure and combat both with women was spread like wildfire and no one with any sense would make a bet on him winning. After all if even his friends didn’t think he had a chance fighting and besting a man, why should anyone else?

The fight would go the customary three rounds of short, medium, and untill defeat. Bets where taken to see when Fenrick “Ladiesbane” would fall, and there still was much talk of how good he really was. Many thought the customary few swings in the first round would go as normal, a cursory fluff period to whip the masses into the mood of blood to be spilled. The next round where the blood usually began in earnest but the contest was still a dance could be his end. After the second break, if it took even that long, is where most thought he’ll see his end and quickly. The Mountain Men (Half Ogre) were well known for their fighting endurance. It’s what made them such admirable enemies. Humans on the other hand were relatively squishy and very few could maintain the militant discipline to martial strength for the duration and usually wanted to end things quickly before they tire out.

Rest assured the fight and then shortly after the invasion itself were highly anticipated by all!

Fury's family fun

Why is it when something wonderful is discovered Mara is the one to see it first and not me? It seemed to take most of breakfast to determine that “Fury” is in fact clockwork. It took another dozen sketches and some more questions to determine that he was also, most likely, constructed by the master craftsman who is “father” to Princess and the flying clockwork monkeys. My sketches for my own version of the monkeys are coming along quite nicely. I wonder when I will have time to work again. It seems like it has been a long while since my mind has been able to focus on my work. People are far too unpredictable and exhausting to really enjoy. My sketches have allowed me to shut them out somewhat but Fenrick’s talk about the magic battle ax is concerning. Magic is most defiantly not reasonable. It it like a spring wound too tightly and held too long – it wears on the user and comes out in random, explosive fits of badness. At best it can be directed like lightening down the wire of a lightening rod safely to ground - or it can it strike something unprepared like a tree set it on fire and splinter it.

Father would read me stories of warlocks and witches that would steal away little children, or fey who would trick unaware merchants and travelers. Maybe there is more magic to these heartstones than engineering. Maybe they are souls. One hears stories of evil magics and human sacrifices - did the heart stone maybe hold a real soul? “Must be evil cultists maybe we should find them and they could explain what the heartstones are” The others look at me over their breakfast as if I have a pickle stuck on the end of my nose. They do not seem to like that idea and instead suggest going to the warehouse again to see if they can learn more from our new friends. This will afford me a chance to see the clockwork Fury, an exciting prospect.

Our trip to the warehouse takes far too long. The others have questions about the merchant house and “Fury” and this and that and stop to ask nearly everyone. I think this is a little wrong way round as we are going there to ask questions. To take up some time I find a sweet seller and find some very fine macaroons. I put them in my bag for later. At last we make our way back to the warehouse. Once we arrive the clockwork Fury is boldly upon us. He is angry – raging but strangely not. He is clockwork, he is running his program. Why is he so emotional – machines aren’t supposed to be emotional. The heart stone was his and now he has it back, but why did he care? Princess’ broken heart left her without cares. He is broken somehow so I offer to service him.

At first Fury is not convinced. This is nothing new. I know I look like a child to some, they underestimate my skill thinking it must match my form. But I show him that I carry the equipment needed to service him. Something clicks and he brings me into his workshop. There collected are many clockwork beings. They are all broken. They need fixed. I fix them as best I can. They are made by different craftsmen. Some of them are lovely, some are only functional. Fury did not want them abandoned as he was so he brought them here.

I could fix Fury too. I know if I could see where the heartstone was fused I could fix him but he doesn’t wish to be fixed. He tells me his heart was broken by betrayal. I feel sad for him and it brings to mind again that the heartstone must be more magic than not. I do not like magic. Fury thanks me as he leaves. His employees seem surprised by this.

To take my mind of the magic and the possible evil cultists involved in all this I pull out a macaroon and attempt to find Mara. She has wondered off with one of the shop keepers. When I find her she is in a state. Disrobed with the shop keeper on the floor. “what are you doing?” I asked her. Before she can answer Fenrick and Clint are with us. Fenrick has a wicked smile on his face. Just like he gets when one of his twit fan girls says something stupid to him. Clint is changing hues rather rapidly. Maybe he ate something odd.

We head back to the inn to decide where to go next. I am not sure what to say about Fury to the others. His collection of “cousins” seems a rather private thing and thankfully they are more interested in teasing Mara about her time than wondering what I was doing.

From the journal of Onexag, the Father of Clockworks

My daughter has been found!

The group that approached me was quite unconventional, and if it wasn’t for the one girl with the macaroon fetish I would have most likely reacted like my old self. Back before the war took away my leg and more. But I shall not dwell on such dark times!

They found me on the building in the center of the town that I used as my outpost. Before we left for my base camp, I had my carriage moved away out of sight. I didn’t want them to feel over intimidated and while I liked that young clockworker, I didn’t want to put too much trust in her quite yet.

Once they committed to taking me to my girl I traveled the old way, by being carried by my flying minions. My carriage wouldn’t fit everyone and they seemed apprehensive about my ‘letting them fall’ so I fly alongside them. It was a very good point and a tactic I will use in the future, new thoughts can be so much more devious than mine.

The youngsters were funny to watch as the "flying monkeys’ lifted them up as well. I didn’t have the heart to tell them my creations were modeled after demons. That or maybe they aren’t as fearsome as I thought they’d be to people. I might have to do some cosmetic changes if that’s the case.

On the flight there I thought about my favorite creation. That she had found a man to love her for who she became was amazing and beyond my greatest expectations. I still want her to carry on my trade, but I am warming up to her having her own life if the man is good enough for my girl.

Hearing about her heartstone being stolen makes me furious though. The failures and half successes though the last few years on crafting a heir was hard on me. I’m not young anymore and siring my own flesh and blood is no longer an option. She must be made whole again, but this time I’ll graft the heart in for good. No more experiments or trials, she is the one

Hearing the younger folks commuted to getting it back makes me feel good. That they are succeeding where I had such little luck so long is calming. I’ll let the ‘professionals’ take care of things.

Monsters Among Us

It was a typical day in Ardglass. I had finished my chores and mom said I could go to the market with Jeffery to pick-up some treats for being so good these past few days. It was a chance to “prove” ourselves, and boy did we need it. Jeffery always has these wild ideas that seem fun at first, but wind up getting us in trouble. Mom had really scolded me last time Jeffery’s prank on Ginny had brought her to tears. “If you two don’t shape up, I’m going to send you to work the stables for a month!”

As we neared the tall building by the markets, we saw more of those weird monkey things flying around. Last week, Jeffery said he wanted to try to trap one because they look like they’re completely covered in some metal armor. He figured a pile of bananas would be enough to trick one, but luckily the market hasn’t had any of those for the past few weeks.

“Hey, look! Over there!” Jeffery exclaimed.
“Across the street from the monkey building. Is that a giant slug?!”
“Holy flying monkey?!” Jeffery couldn’t help laughing as our new curse word slipped from my mouth.
“We should go check it out!”
“I don’t know ‘Frey, our moms told us to stay out of trouble. Mine told me she was going to send me to the stables for a month if I messed up again.”
“I just want to see it. I’ve never seen a slug that big?! Maybe it can actually talk.”
“I don’t know…” I said, following Jeffery as he started to walk on over there. As we got closer, the slug thing grew still, its skin darkening in color.
“Check it out! I thought I saw its guts earlier, but now the skin is brownish like the wood there.”
“I don’t know ‘Frey, maybe its scared. I don’t think I want to be around that thing.”
Jeffery grabbed me around the shoulders, pulling me forward. “I just want to touch it… It IS like a slug. Hi Mister Slug. Can you talk?”
“I don’t think you should keep poking it like that…”
“Mr. Slug? Mrs. Slug? Hellooooo? Come on ‘Lex, touch it. It isn’t slimy like a real slug.”
“Well, I guess…” I slowly reached out my hand.
“Come on sluggy, say something, do something!!”
Jeffry was really laying it on, as I touched its cool, soft skin.

Fear flooded me, I was frozen. I couldn’t look away from those dead black eyes. A thin line… a mouth… appeared and started to open, but not wide. Long, like it was going to howl. A howl of fear or a howl of attack, I couldn’t tell. The mouth grew and grew, long and slender, dropping toward the ground. It was so big now that it could bite off my head, and then it was large enough to swallow me whole. I stared in horror, thinking I had seen the worst, until I realized what was inside the thing. I saw the guts churning… and even that wasn’t the worst. Suddenly, I was inside! I could see myself churning around with the stomach and stuff!! A deep moan brought tears to my eyes. I was trapped, watching myself in that horrid, slug-bodied prison.

Suddenly, there was screaming… it was ‘Frey, it was me… it was both of us. I was not in the creature’s gaping mouth, after all. I could move again! We ran and ran. All the way home, the vision of floating inside that thing haunted my every step.

Too Many Words... Not Enough Knives

It was the most tenuous thing… a slight feeling of apprehension, as the hair on the back of her neck stood on end, and Mara instinctively slid silently, securely into the shadows.  From the depths of darkness, she could see four thugs, and the weird woman they had observed earlier, stride into the tavern. Thugs are generally good looking, but they are dumb as hell and fight like bumbling fools with blunt objects. Nothing interesting there. Yet, it was good to remember that even bumbling fools could be dangerous, and a sense of foreboding hung thickly in the dusty air.

“Here it comes,” thought Mara.  She crossed her arms, hands tensed in readiness over the blades sewn into the sleeves of her blouse, and waited for the usual decision.  Would it be knives or words, this time? The thought turned through Mara’s head like a warped game of roulette.  The odd woman centered herself on Fenrick, of course, and began to speak.  Wasn’t it always that way when he was around? Scars and all, the man was absolutely beautiful, but his face was not the best part. The way he moved… gliding with rapier in hand, flowing like water…and decimating his enemy at every single turn. He was a fighter like nothing Mara had ever seen. A fight with Fenrick was better than… well…. nearly anything pleasurable she could imagine. She flushed, a little heat in her cheeks, thinking of the last time they had dealt with ruffians, together. Out of the corner of her eye she caught Clint glancing in her direction. Was he…. smirking?! Did he just…wink at her!? Damned heap of slime… he really needs to learn the meaning of “privacy”.

Mara, embarrassed by her lack of focus, turned her attention back to the deal going down. As usual, she checked the safety of Daphne first, then the opposition. Fenrick sat at a worn table with the woman, now. He was coaxing her with those eloquent words, and she responded in kind. Clint probably saw to it that she was open to such things. And with that… they just left. The whole, damned group of them just got up and walked out the front door. Mara stared in disbelief as the door slammed closed on the heels of the last overgrown thug. She headed for the back door, crept into the alley, turned the corner and saw…. absolutely nothing. They were gone.

Mara sighed, as she rejoined the group. “Words, again,” she thought. If she didn’t know better, she would swear Fenrick was going soft.  Too many women and far too much wine could do that to a man.  Too many words…not enough knives.

Fixed but still broken

The man Zelabo had a problem. Everyone has problems, they come to me when they need something fixed – something is broken. He stole the heart which means he is a thief. This is problematic – thieves can not be trusted, but this one has something that needs fixed and that means money in my pocket to buy macaroons and parts and pieces. Macaroons are tasty and I would like one, but I am not sure if I can trust this person to pay me if I fix his heart. Clint is very good at telling if people mean what they say or if they lie. Maybe he can judge this for me. And a Clockwork princess sounds too interesting to miss, but a thief might take my tools if I go with him alone so I go to find Clint.

Clint seems to trust that the man is honest in what he says but he is not an honest man. Clint is also interested in helping so I will get a look at this clockwork princess. Some trusted friends will come with us as we check out Zelabo’s story, the nice woman who helps me and the hero with the swords who makes the girls swoon. There is the dwarf , he seems to follow Clint most places these days.

We follow Zelabo out of town to his home on the farm. The clockwork princess is there. What a marvel she is. Such fine detail, everything thought out to perfection. She talks about her maker as “father”. He must be a master craftsman. Maybe Zelabo can tell me more so I leave the princess working the field and join the others in the farmhouse.

The heart itself is fantastic. At first it is broken but repairing it is a pleasure. Except for the fact that it is still broken. Right in the center there is a setting – maybe a bezel, a gem or some crystal set there — it is missing – the last piece to a puzzle left undo. Very, very frustrating. The heart itself is fixed , the gears turn, the spring winds but the purpose is not there. The clockwork princess calls it “heartstone”. If we find this piece it will be complete, until then it is fixed but still broken.

I would love to travel and meet “father”. How exciting it would be to see what he makes. Is this princess his master creation, or is he far more talented? The others are disappointingly not interested in traveling the several months to find him. Instead they wish to seek out Lulep in some Guild in a town several days away. Guild’s are stupid; they won’t let you be apprentice to your father. Instead they make you be an apprentice to some greedy clock maker who can’t even make a self winding main spring and expects you to talk to customers and doesn’t even like macaroons and they are less than understanding when you go home. Zelabo doesn’t seem to like his guild either as he says he is hiding from them and won’t go with us.

We get to the big town and find a place to stay. Lukot, the drawf, and Mara, the nice woman, go to find the Guild and Lulep. Meanwhile Clint and Fenrick and I wait. They make good tea at the inn and even though they don’t have macaroons they have some very tasty sweet-buns with raisins and orange peal. Fenrick is happy since some twity girls are fawning on him. Clint gets something to eat – I try not to think about Clint when he is eating.

When Mara and Lukot return they have the most exciting things to report. Something about the guild that no one could care less about and flying clockwork monkeys…. Flying! Clockwork! Monkeys!. Mara said she noticed something watching her and then climbed up to the roof to get a better view. She discovered it was a clockwork monkey and then it flew! She is usually good about noticing important details but the monkey-work flew away before she could get close enough to notice anything more than it was a clockwork creation. I wonder if it is metal covered or cloth, Mara is disappointing in the fact that she seemed less interested in it’s construction than the direction it flew or what it was doing watching them in the first place.

I wonder if the wings are modeled on bat or bird wings. Did it really fly or was it simply gliding like the squirrels in Papa’s big animal book? If you used a pulley system backed with maybe a bow spring to move the wings you could simulate flight motions, but the internal workings would have to be amazingly light. . . Maybe if a make a few sketches Mara will be able to remember more details. At least the common room of the inn is getting quieter now that Fenrick’s fan club ran off and the only people left are some big, muscle bound men. I turn to show Mara an idea but she has slipped off somewhere. Before I can ask the others where she is some rude woman interrupts our group. "You are looking for me?”

Clint's Angels

From Zelabo’s tale:
I stole her heart.
I really mean I actually stole her heart. When she chased me, I didn’t think much of it. The job was to steal the heart and return it to clear my debts.
When I swam in the river to my boat and made my escape I thought it was the last I’d see of her.
There was something about it though as I looked at it when I thought I was in the clear. You might think me overly emotional, but I felt something I hadn’t in a long time. It wasn’t long before she managed to chase me down and though the cat and mouse game of following me back to Ardglass I decided I couldn’t go through with it.
Her heart fixed something in me. Something about the experience made her heart seem more important than anything else. The Guild heavy Lulep would have none of it I knew and would take it no matter what I said. So I went into parts unknown with my Clockwork Princess.
In a short amount of time, maybe months, we became very close. No. No don’t give me those looks. Don’t think I’m cracked either. I know what I’m about. We were happy for a year. One year
Someone, broke into our home. Then they broke her heart. She’s fine physically and mentally mind you. She just has none of the drive or passion for life that we shared together.
What I need, what I want is help. Please help us. Fix her heart so we can go back to being what we were together.

Clint’s Notes:
The Heart was stolen from “father” Onexag, by Zelabo. (Onexag lives in the town of Wheldrake, to the North, 45 – 60 days)

The Guild – contact Lulep (the heavy) in Ardglass, a week away, 1/2 the time by carriage which Zelobo gladly pays for.

Lukot and Mara go info gathering while we wait in the pub.
Lukot finds:
Lulep is female. She is not one to mess with. Has contract out for Zelablo, wanted alive or information for whereabouts. Zelabo’s place is out of her “reach.”
Notices they were being watched, something on the rooftops not human is watching them.
She sneaks up to roof, it flys, it’s clockwork, can’t get close look, but it looks like a flying monkey!?

While discussing plans, 5 goons, came in and sat down. Lulep walked in “You are looking for me?”

Wednesday Group -1 forms
Prologue Session #2

Second session went mostly smoothly for set up. Got to use Roll20 and use their fate dice roller, which was a bit nicer than bones and 4d6. Jumped relatively straight in and spent about the same amount of time as the first session. Love to see how two different groups attack the same format with the same tools in a much different way. We did have a conversation on character generation and I hope to see some interesting concepts come forth.


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