Captain Pandemic and the Daring Kazoo – 3

(Captain Pandemic and the Daring Kazoo was a little narrato-pictoral experiment I ran on tumblr over the summer. I liked it enough that I’m going to keep making it! However, I’m going to do it here instead. Check out Part 1 here, or the last part here.)

“ARR, bring us dockside, ladess!” Captain Pandemic boomed from the crow’s nest. “We be needin’ reparations and repartee, if my drift ye be catchin’.” The Daring Kazoo screeched against the side of the dock, bruised, battered, and burnt, smashing to a halt. Captain Pandemic jumped to the dock with the few doubloons they had left.

“AHOY thar, Charles Valoo and Buccaneer Gray!” She addressed two of the four remaining pirates and tossed them most of the coin. “Hire some brigands to patch ‘er up. I…” she paused as her gaze passed over the little port of Shantytown – a more wretched hive of scum and villainy you will never find – and declared, “I arr be findin’ me a parrot.”

The Vice Admiral, exhausted, steered his battleship along the coastline. A sharp rap rang through the door. “Come in?” “I don’ mean to intrude, sir, if you’re busy…” Oh blast, he thought, he hadn’t changed out of his clothes since the battle two days ago. They, charred and bloodied, must’ve been what gave him little disturbance til now. “No, its fine, come in.” Barker, his first mate, cautiously stepped forward. “Sir, we need to make birth soon. The ship is falling to pieces.”

The Vice Admiral checked his map, dirty and bloody as well, he now saw. “It seems we have no choice. We’ll have to pull in… to Shantytown.”

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Aubrey The Quill, pt. 2

[This is the second in a series of in-character recaps of a DnD session I’m running in attempt to make what is traditionally a super boring part of DnD a much more fun one. It’s following the “Rise of the Sun King” via the eyes of reporter Aubrey “The Quill”. Check out last week’s here, and check back next week for pt. 3! This one was titled “The Zeta Cartel Continues to Infuriate and Bemuse”]

ed. note: As you read through these documents compiled by Aubrey The Quill, you may find yourself frustrated. It is, of course, common knowledge to all today who the Sun King is, what the intentions of the Zetas were, and the true natures of Coal, Somaria, and the University! Of course, as this is common knowledge I will refrain from repeating it here. It is safe to say that you must approach such texts in light of the glaring ignorance with which all actors have of their surroundings.)

Luckily, we weren’t forced to stay behind. A Writ from the king declared that all Pods (including ours) were not allowed to split up for any reason whatsoever. It’s pretty clear he was specifically referring to the Princess when he sent it. I feel that the King has too much trust in Sir Astrid, however, it’s not my place to say.

It was getting seriously droll in the rising castle. “Boone’s Crater”, some were calling it. The people showed the problems, too – heavy drinking coupled by dwindling supplies spelled definite problems. Increase in crime, sickness, disease, displeasure, all that kind of thing. Our medic, a man named Zedra, had half the castle in our base. Boone finally got a Hospital up and running, and – of course – it ended up in our house. The crew “gathered” materials for it, no questions were asked. They disguised the princess by cutting her hair and giving her lower class clothing, called her Kevin. “The Sting” got a bit richer, too – again, no questions. Sir Astrid led us into the forest the next day. It began to snow.

It feels like it’s always snowing here.

We hiked for the day till we all fell down exhausted, and proceeded to set up camp. It was quiet until Second Watch that night, when the squire Hathron reported to see a black garbed girl about 17 years old standing over Sir Astrid just “shimmer into nothing”, along with Sir Astrid. A few mercenaries attacked us, clearly as a distraction, and after minor injuries in the party the warriors in the group pillaged their bodies while the Monks buried the dead. They were all wearing pairs of these Ivory Bracelets. My artist is looking pretty ill, I’m not sure what’s getting to him. Self note: ask the medic next time we run into him.

We followed the trail of the mercenaries back to a bluff overlooking a clearing and a recently-built walled city surrounding the Wreck of the Zeta 22. The squire, now in charge, ordered that the mercenary Constantine take our stowaway “The Sting” and try to get into the city. After a bit of messing around, they got in while the rest of us waited in the snow. Dropped their weapons and armor at the gate. We watched through a spyglass.

Constantine and the Sting were appropriately dazzled by the sites of a Zeta Caravan Dropspot. After talking to some of the Guards, they learned that the Zetas were run by a man named “Ghent the Sherriff”, more legend than man. After some haggling with a physician, they met up with an Information Broker where they learned that this “Coal” which fueled ships also caused various supernatural reactions in those close to it, and wearing ivory (usually in the form of jewelry) supposedly inhibits this reaction. I guess I’m lucky, actually, as I’ve had an ivory broach since I was a kid and have been wearing it all this time.

The coal is being bought up left and right by the Zetas, especially in it’s more refined state, explaining why Somaria stabbed her brother for it. In exchange for that coal information, Constantine passed on the information that the Princess was traveling with none other than Sir Astrid Busser Cassus. Squire Hathron threw a fit once he found out.

After some deliberation, the rest of us were sick of waiting in the snow and decided it would be much nicer to rest in an inn. I believe the monks told Hathron of my exploits, however, as an impartial reporter of The Capitol Press it is my sworn duty to report, not to act. I will attempt to act better in the future. It’s just so… cold, around him.

After making our way back into the city and dropping off our weapons at the gate, showing them we all had ivory bracelets on, we went off to a dry tavern and spent the night there. In the morning, the elf and Hathron went off and talked to the information broker. He said that he had information on the locals and their relationship with the Zetas, and in exchange for this information he wanted us to go deal with an debting problem. We’re packing up now, I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to write again. Hathron looks like he wants to have us march for days straight. I’m getting my coat.

Aubrey the Quill, signing off for now.

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Captain Pandemic and the Daring Kazoo – 2

(Captain Pandemic and the Daring Kazoo is a little experiment I did over the summer where I posted a short 200 word story and 2 pictures to accompany it every Thursday. It was fun enough that I think I’m going to start doing it again, however, I think this blog is a better place to do it. So I’m going to post one of these per week, then eventually catch up to the present and start making new entries! Part 1 is here.)

“Third, what in the WORLD is a missensail? Or the port bow? And how in the world would you hoist one once obtained? Christ, girl, you should try reading a book sometime.” He ducked to the right away from a sword, and signaled his sailors with a hand. “Fourth, you should know better than to engage with us while we’re sailing towards shoals like those. With my men back on board, we are now leaving.” He waited until Captain Pandemic struck forward, and used the weight of his sword to springboard her back across the waves onto her ship.

“Fifth,” he yelled, across the rocky sea and ever widening gulf between the ships, “I don’t have your stupid chalice! For the last freaking time! Go bother someone else for a change!” The Vice Admiral sighed and looked to his first mate, who was coiling a length of rope. “Maybe we should just shoot her from here, that would probably make our lives much easier. Better yet, just shoot me.”

On the other ship, shelooked off to the horizon, silhouetted against the blazing sun. “You win today, Vice Admiral… But we will be back, and you will learn to fear the name of…

Captain Pandemic of the Daring Kazoo!”

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Aubrey The Quill, pt. 1

[This is the first of a series of in-character recaps of a DnD session I’m running. I figured it would be way more fun to make the chronicler a reporter on the scene of the crime, so I’ve spent  a while creating a reporter named Aubrey “The Quill” Bohemond. I honestly don’t know how much sense it will make out of context, but hopefully it’s amusing at least as an experiment at making the really boring parts of DnD… less so. Tune in next week for pt 2!]

(ed. note: The following excerpts were recieved from the interviews and journals of the late Aubrey “The Quill” Bohemond, Island Correspondant for The Capitol Press. Her informal first-hand account of the people behind the Rise of the Sun King is perhaps the most accurate and clearly the most detailed account of the events that followed. While you may have seen some of these excerpts in previous publications, we hope that this book, filled with all known information on the events which began in the Winter of the 48th Year of the Tortoise, will help to clarify many points of confusion and mystification with which time has colored this story.

We begin with the infamous ‘Account of the Landing and the Large Rocks that Followed.’)

We landed at sunrise on a clear day, with each Pod assigned to their own landing vessel. Ours, the newly formed 54 led by none other than the famous fencer Sir Astrid you surely know well, was late in arrival and ended up landing further along the beach than other vessels. One of the members of our Pod spotted none other than a ruined castle, likely of Mohardeen Construction, lying in the center of a ruined crater. After some deliberation, General Boone, commanding officer of the 600 or so passengers aboard the Wayside Tavern, decided to begin reconstruction of this castle that day. The members of my Pod were concerned with the history of this castle and so concerned decided to take the first night’s watch. As we had a few Oldarin elves in the party, they took most of the watch as it is well known Oldarin need not sleep, merely meditate for a short while.

It is also worthy to note that in our Pod is none other than Princess Rane Albastion, heiress apparent to the Moshandar Crown.

Midway through the night, one of the elves, I believe his name was Latarius, was knocked from his watchpoint of a nearby tree by some force. In scrambling away and shouting, he roused the rest of the party from slumber and all leapt up, to help him. Some of the group, not fighters by trade, ran back to inform the others in the Ruins. Once Latarius was forced out of the tree line, his assailant came into full view: A great Stone Beast, colored as granite and as tall as two or three men together, wailed upon him and seperated him from his weapon. After some battle the Rock Beast was defeated, only to the shock of all watching he split into two smaller beasts each of which continued to fight on. After some measure of success, Two were beaten to dust and left behind a small black bit of rock (which I will come to later). However, with more beasts passing the tree line, the defenders of my Pod all fled back to the Ruins, where a defensive force had been rallied.

The members of my Pod reuinted in the Ruins, however, in the heat of battle several members of the soldiers were killed [ed: appendix A] and the entirety of Pod 19 vanished. The leader of my Pod, Sir Astrid, met with G. Boone and presented one of the stones, which once held caused the lights around him to swell in a most unearthly manner. Fearful of the supernatural as we all were, he ordered the stone destroyed and any others like it to be destroyed on sight. If only they had been.

The other stone was presented to the previously mentioned Latarius (notably, brother of the Chieftess of the Eon’Quo, Somaria, who will soon become relevant and was also a member of our Pod). After the day passed, curious events occured around the stone: a dense snow despite previously clear skies, headaches, illnesses, visions, speaking in tongues, etc. Little of note happened until that evening.

However, that evening, great things of note happened. First and foremost, Latarius (while walking in the woods) was surpised to be ambushed by Somaria who had been in deep debt with the Zeta Cartel, and stole the stone which was apparently valuable to them. Apparently, there was some regret as she did it. After hearing about this, Sir Astrid immediately told G. Boone of the accounts, who was disappointed but relieved it was no longer in their presence.

However, as sun set, the whole camp was stunned and frightened to find out that – while digging graves for the dead of yesterday – the entire earth beneath our feat was made of this Coal. The graves were quickly filled.

Pod 54 spent the night in the lighthouse, which was filled with arguing and information seeking verging on torture. Princess Rane was severely treated and began to cry, while Latarius revealed the true nature of his and his sister’s relationship with the Zeta cartel. Latarius later attempted to leave the building without notice, however took the Princess with her and slipped in the snow outside, breaking the princess’s arm. Her cries woke some of those inside, and after a brief bout of combat he was dragged into the General’s tent.

The following events are filled with contention, however essentially it can be inferred that two men in strange costumes who went by the names Professors’ Tall and Slim killed Latarius and proceeded to disappear into the night. Unhappy, cold, and unsatisfied, Pod 54 has fallen asleep, and my candle is dimming now so perhaps it is time for my first entry to end.

P.S.: Two more details of note: A halfling by the name of Gramore Hodgehollow, seems to have had some kind of dream about a bird who then landed on our windowsill this evening. As well, a curious black garbed woman had a few words with Sir Astrid about ‘The Sun King’ and him being a ‘Siphon’. I now need to get some sleep as it appears we are leaving on an expedition tomorrow morning.

Aubrey the Quill, signing off for the night.

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A Crack in the Sidewalk

This was a little story I wrote earlier this year as an exercise in dramatic writing – how to make a simple object, a crack in the sidewalk, seem over-the-top crazy. I kinda like it! I do need more practice in short form storytelling.

CRASH.

Lights. An Explosion. Screeching, of the unknown. Terror. Fear. Confusion.

A crack.

A crack in the sidewalk.

The Army halted. The crack was a jagged ridge; unpassable, unbridged. Perhaps it would end the day. The laments among the soldiers were loud and clear: All was lost! Their homes would be burned! Their campaign had come to a screeching halt! All over this single crack, this crack in the sidewalk.

Out of the dust and ashes, one ant emerged. The whole army turned heads in unison. “There is hope!” she spoke. “I am the Lost Queen of the Ants, groomed for this day since my birth. There is a pass, far to the east, in the land of danger. Upon the ‘Road’, we can cross this sidewalk and destroy the Mantises once and for all!”

As she spoke, horns echoed out from the army, a drum began to point, and a flag began to wave behind her back.

“I am Marquoc Xor Borfanaklepskos, first in line to the throne, and is there anyone who will brave the dangers of ‘Road’ with me?”

A ragtag band of heroes – an outcast monk, a bard, a noble’s son on a quest for vengeance – all raised hands. They set out.

Within moments, a faint squash – a truck drove by.

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The Harbingers

Another little short story I wrote this year as an exercise in dramatic writing! This one was all about subversion, setting something up n’ twisting it right at the end, Shyamalanadingdong style.

“Ages from now, they wil curse our names. We who danced with the Gods and stole their fire, we who dared to reach to the stars and pull them back again. We, the Scientists and researchers of the HX Animal Research, Epsilon unit.”

We had the drive, we had the ambition. The war was more than enough reason to get the funding. And it would be a crime to doubt our scientific curiosity. But, we…”

It began with men, but our Genome was decades from complete traversal, so we moved down: Dogs, raccoons, foxes – then, Mice. They were perfect, the ultimate building block. But the war had grown worse, and the need for results was pressing.

So we rushed into development, increased hearing. Increased size, faster base land speed. Unassuming visage, a thousand other mental and physical modifications to make them into the deadly beasts we now see today.

With this program, we have ushered in a new age of warfare. We have created something so powerful, so deadly so – downright… Just remember that when children stare at television screens with blank eyes, asking – “What have they done?” – kust know that it was us. We created the rabbits.

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The Mad Tales of a Dead Girl who May or May Not have at Least Eight Names: or, How to Dream about Dragons all Class and Still Get a Passing Grade

“Hey, sleepybutt! Wake up!”

The Dead Girl rubbed her eyes to shake off the bright lights and saw her hands were covered with ink. Snickering drifted across the room from one of the boys, the one holding a fat black sharpie in his hand, which he hid just as the tired teacher, who wasn’t really all that exciting except for the fact that he had Authority, so that made the teacher somebody, but not much of anybody, walked by.

“I tried to stop them, but, they were, you know… y’know,” the other girl, who probably didn’t even have one name, let alone eight, rolled her eyes at the other side of the room where Sharpie Boy was busy instigating. All of the stupid boys pretended to sleep and let their stupid tongues hang out, making stupid faces. The Dead Girl didn’t pay much attention, as they were currently a collective and she was always an individual. She had more power, more focus, and she could always be riding dragons while they were busy doing stupid things with stupid pens.

“You know, you probably should, y’know, write your essay? Maybe? Because we only have, y’know, 45 minutes until recess, and… Well… yea.” The Less Than or Equal To One Name Girl looked at the Dead Girl for a little while, but then stopped. Perhaps then she got to writing on her own paper, but the Dead Girl didn’t notice. The Dead Girl was busy closing her eyes and beginning dreaming about dragons again. The thing about dreaming about dragons is that dragons aren’t stupid and have all kinds of names, like Loong (those were the Chinese dragons that weren’t as cool cause they looked like fish and fish were gross, but they were still dragons, and that is cool) and Ryu (those were the Japanese dragons, and they also were like fish but they were also cool cause she saw a picture of one called Ryujin once at it looked really, really cool, I mean, really cool) and there were Wyverns too, and Nidhogg and the Ouroboros, and a whole lot of them from all over the world and they were so cool.

“Hey dumbface, you only have 20 minutes left.”

She opened her eyes to see the Collective of Stupids orchestrated by Sharpie Boy. “Hey, look, she’s so stupid it even says so on her face! Hahahaha,” the collective laughed. She tried to close her eyes, but the collective was getting super loud-and-in-and-on her face at this point, and it was getting really hard to dream up dragons.

She leaned over her desk and pretended to write, but really she was drawing a picture of the dragon on which she been dreaming. The Dead Girl had been dreaming about this dragon for three years maybe and she was really excited about it and she dreamed about it all the time and it was so cool like really no you don’t even get it -it’s awesome – but you can’t see it yet. It’s not finished! But she’s getting pretty close, so, maybe later. Or maybe if you ask her really nicely she’d tell you about it.

The Dead Girl might say, if someone asked (nobody did), that it was the great dragon. A classic dragon. A Smaug, or Fafnir, or St.-George-and-the-Dragon Dragon, with fire breathing and a huge tail and giant wings. And spikes too! And fangs! Big, long, pointy ones (and at this point the Dead Girl had forgotten all about the collective and was busy adding more fangs, bigger fangs, and wondered if she had brought her colored pencils today, and they forgot about her) and the dragon had a huge hoard of gold that he sat on, and he covered his whole chest in gold bits so that no stupid people with stupid arrows could shoot him, the Dead Girl made sure of that. In fact, she was so excited about it she laid her head down on her desk and closed her eyes and began dreaming of the dragon again, but this time in full Technicolor with all the special effects she could dream up (there was lots of fire, you couldn’t have a proper dragon without fire) and also backgrounds now and wars but always this dragon was the best and was winning and flew through the air breathing fire and beating up everything all the time.

“One minute left.”

The Authority woke her up this time, ringing a bell at the front of class. He drawled, and he was one of those people that was too young to drawl so it made you kind of sad when he drawled, but then you remembered you had an essay to write and you don’t even remember what you’re supposed to be writing about and you have a giant dragon drawn across all of your paper and you don’t have any space left. So the Dead Girl looked around and fumbled with her pencil and didn’t know what to do, so she did what any truly sensible person with at least eight names would do and hastily scribbled on the back, “I didn’t rite the essay and insted dreamed about dragons.” She then jumped out of her seat and rushed up to the table with the rest of the class, and pushed her paper underneath another one so that nobody could see it, just as any truly sensible person with at least eight names would do.

Tomorrow, the authority would give her an B- and say that she was “maybe a little too smart,” (which the Dead Girl didn’t really understand but she kind of liked anyway), “but in the future she should probably write the essays she was assigned”, but he really liked her dragon and had a book she would probably like after class about the first dragon and how it defeated one of the mightiest of heroes named Beowulf. This made the Dead Girl extremely happy and maybe the Authority did have a name, after all, or maybe two even, if he liked dragons. In fact, way far in the future, she would go on to dream about dragons for a very long time, and draw and write about dragons and all kinds of people with all kinds of names would like what she wrote and drew and dreamed, so much that the dragons went past dreams, and were also really cool, like, really.

But today, the Less Than Or Equal To One Name Girl was really mean maybe on accident but probably not really, but it was okay because dragons didn’t cry when people were mean to them. And the Stupid Collective took her lunch while she was dreaming about dragons on the swings, but it was okay cause dragons didn’t need to eat that often, they just needed to eat a lot every once in a while, so maybe when she got home her aunt would cook her up a whole sheep for a snack, or a few cows, or maybe a couple of villagers.

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