Animus Lost

Best Friends Forever

Some years ago, on the outskirts of Lovis, Norsca

A stout woman with grey-streaked hair looks out the window over the basin in the cottage’s kitchen. With a laugh, she says, “Cheff, come and look at this. Goldie and Scratch are playing warriors again. It’s adorable!” Her husband, a tall, slender man, comes to stand next to her. He puts his arm around her shoulders and hugs her to his side. As he looks out the window, he starts to laugh, too.

“Myrna, you’re right, that is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. We’re going to have to tell Sigmund about it when he picks up Scratch this evening,” Cheff agreed.

In the vegetable garden, neatly hoed out and ready for the spring planting, a girl of about ten and an adolescent brown bear are galloping about, roaring at the top of their lungs. The girl is plump and has messy yellow hair gathered into a braid. She’s holding a stick and stabbing it at imaginary enemies as she rides her cousin, Scratch, through the fresh dirt. Every once in a while she will revert to human speech to yell things like, “Die, Jotun scum!” or, “Those are our berries, you fish-stealing fox!” It is clear that she is the ringleader of this little game, but Scratch is obviously enjoying himself.

The children finally tire of their game and tramp indoors, scattering dirt all over the floor before they flop down on the rag rug in the den. Goldie uses Scratch as a pillow until the young bear sits up and begins patting his chest and arms in a pattern. “Ma!” shouts Goldie, who seems to have some trouble with volume modulation, “Scratch n’ me want some juice!” The bear sneezes and looks meaningfully at his human cousin, who grudgingly adds, “Please!”

Myrna bustles in from the kitchen, a small tray in her hands. She sets it down next to the children and says, “How about juice, bread, and cheese? And a bit of raw salmon for Scratch,” she adds lovingly. “Since his manners are so good.” The bear makes an eager noise and signs thank you to his aunt. She gives him a kiss on the top of the head and tells the children to dig in. Goldie forgets to mumble her thanks until her mouth is already full of bread, but her mother doesn’t mind. It’s the thought that counts, and Goldie’s manners were always better with Scratch around.

By the time supper rolls around, Goldie and Scratch are passed out on the floor of the den. Loud snores erupt from the human child, with softer rumbles emanating from the bear. A thud against the door summons Cheff from his workroom, and he opens the door to admit a very large adult brown bear. “Hey, brother,” he greets their guest, giving him a rub on the shoulder. Sigmund looks at the children sleeping together and melts. With an inquiring murmur, he signs busy conquer armies today? at Cheff. The man laughs and recounts the adventure in the gardens to his ursine brother. Myrna calls out from the kitchen that Sigmund is welcome to stay for dinner, but the bear declines with a regretful roar. With Cheff’s help, Sigmund slings the unconscious Scratch over his shoulders and lumbers off to their den.

With the loss of her pillow, Goldie wakes up and yawns. “Come and eat, love,” her father says, helping her to the kitchen table. As the family eats, Goldie tells them all about her day with Scratch. “Someday,” she vows, “I’m going to be a great warrior, and Scratch will carry me into battle.”

Her parents just look at each other and smile. Goldie has quite the imagination.

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Barely Anything

The Spine was harsh that day, and Barely stumbled on her swiftly numbing feet. Though they terminated in cloven hooves and her legs were coated in fur, there was only so much that her Beastman form could do against the icy winds of the South Wall Mountains. Her antlers grew too long for her to easily reach them when they became tangled in the low branches of a tree, and Barely simply sat below her trap in despair. Alone in the South Wall… there was a hero once that was forbidden to die here alone…

However, Barely wasn’t technically alone. There was another life inside her. That knowledge almost compelled her to stand and free herself from the tree branch, but before she made a decision on the matter she felt the reverberation of incredibly intense magic to her right. Then, behind her, at an angle that she wasn’t quite able to turn, something was swiftly approaching her. Barely began to panic, twisting the branch and tangling her further. A deep, ominous growl shook her to her core, and she tugged and scrabbled at the twisted branches, eyes rolling in an attempt to see the beast behind her.

Suddenly, the branch snapped and Barely fell forward, where she twisted around to stare at a dog-sized skunk, head low and watching her. She didn’t have any weapons. The skunk didn’t really look like any skunk she’d ever seen before, though. It had a single, solid band of white, spanning the entire width of its back, and its fur was short. Not to mention how thickly built it was. Maybe this was another one of the Jottun experiments. Fitting that it would ultimately be the Jottun that killed her after they had so brutally created her.

A hidden voice called from the wood, “Mellivora?” The beast immediately ceased growling and turned its head toward the voice, and a tall woman stepped from the wood, ducking a thick branch and smiling when she spotted the beast. She said something to it, but Barely couldn’t make it out.

The beast turned again and scampered toward Barely, who tried to tell it to go away, standing rapidly in an effort to get away herself, only to have the thing ram its shoulder into her shins, knocking her back down… and swaggering off in another direction. The woman approached Barely, still smiling, and held out her hand, “Mellivora gets territorial. Come on, you’re freezing.”

Barely accepted the woman’s hand and stood, flinching when she reached around her face to grab one of her back-swept antlers. She remained still, however, as the woman removed the gnarled branch still caught there.

“What was that thing?” Barely chattered through mostly clenched teeth. The South Wall never seemed so cold, before. She didn’t expect this.

“Her?” the woman pointed at the creature swiftly disappearing into the underbrush, “She’s a honey badger. Companion animal, otherwise you’d never see one this far north.”

Barely suddenly didn’t know what to say. She stared at the woman standing so confidently in front of her. Her eyes were yellow with rectangular pupils like a goat. Beastman, maybe? Her corn-yellow hair framed long, thick horns, too, like the mountain sheep except… didn’t only the rams sport horns?

“Follow me,” the woman said, turning and walking ahead, “we can talk on the way and then I’ll get you out of here.”

That’s when she spotted the tail. It was almost rat-like, but the end looked like it could be used as a club, sporting a bone-like material similar to her horns. What sort of atrocities did the Jottun inflict upon this woman? She did follow her, however.

The tall woman spoke first, “What’s your name?”

She hadn’t spoken to anyone in so long, she wasn’t even sure that she could anymore. “Uhm… Barely.”

“Barely? Like a bear? Is that a warrior’s name?”

“Barely Anything, ma’am, it’s a… uhm… slave name… actually.” her voice trailed off. Suddenly, Barely was embarrassed. She regretted not lying at that moment. She could have changed everything just then. Barely could fight. All wild creatures could fight. She could have been a warrior.

“Well, that’s awkward. We’re going to have to get you a new name, then, hmm?”

Barely didn’t know what to say, so she just fell silent. The woman continued after a short while. “Do you know me?” She asked.

“I, uhm… no.”

The woman looked sideways at her, “I know you’ve heard my name, at least. You’re my proudest legacy.”

Barely thought a moment, and suddenly it dawned on her, “YOU are Cerlissa?” she blurted, “I thought, well…”

“What?”

“I thought you were… taller?”

The woman laughed out loud. “To the top of my head, I am twenty-two hands. How tall did you think I was?”

Barely blushed a deep crimson and mumbled, “I was told you were… a uhm… dragon… that you breathed fire at the Jottun and crushed them dozens at a time…”

Cerlissa stopped short and gave Barely a scowl, “For Gwind’s sake, Grakas gets all the credit. He always gets all the crow-begotten credit.” Then proceeded walking. Barely followed, but remained terrified to say more.

“Where are you headed?” Cerlissa began again, seeming a lot less perturbed than Barely had initially guessed.

“Uhm… I don’t really know.” Barely stammered, the cold was still getting to her, although the conversation made the whole situation seem a lot less desolate. “I was really just heading South and hoping for the best.”

“South?” Cerlissa asked, “You came from Lovis?”

Barely had told herself that she was going to lie. That anyone who found out about her origin would either kill her on the spot or condemn her to death by sending her back. When she opened her mouth to speak, however…

“Norsca, actually.” Barely nearly slapped herself for her honesty, but decided to just keep going, “I’d heard stories of Vulcanica. I thought maybe I’d escape, but…”

Cerlissa remained quiet for a moment, letting the unfinished sentence hang in the air.
After a moment, where the only sounds were of walking feet, crushing sticks beneath the snow. Cerlissa took a breath to speak, “I need help, but I can’t explain it until you’re in. I can take care of you. You won’t be a slave anymore, but I do need a certain… contract… from you.”

“Yes.” For the first time in years, Barely spoke without hesitation. “I’ll sign it. I’ll work for you.”

“With me.” Cerlissa corrected.

“With you. I’ll do it.”

Cerlissa studied Barely, “You’re sure you don’t want to think about it a moment?”

“I’m sure.” Barely said confidently. “You’re Cerlissa Grav-Norsca. I’d do my people a great disservice if I ref… I’m pregnant.” Barely deflated. Sure that it would disqualify her.

Cerlissa only smiled, “So am I. Triplets. If I can do it, you can do it. And that’s precisely why I’m here. I need to tell my friend the good news.”

Barely grinned. No one, not even other women- not even other Beastmen had ever talked to her this way. It was empowering.

Cerlissa stopped and faced Barely, “I guess we can work out the details later. Sign here.”

A flash of blue light revealed a paper scroll with shining letters unroll from Cerlissa’s upraised hand. A pen appeared in Barely’s hand, and though she didn’t actually know how to write her name, she was somehow sure that the scribble she put down was, in fact, her true signature.

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In the Jungle

Astrid looked around and was surprised at how quickly she had travelled from the guest estates to the Golden City on foot. Her plain, common clothes were comfortable enough, though she felt frumpy and a bit unattractive wearing what felt like cloth sacks. She had decided to try out her father’s habits, however, and this cold Northern city was a great place to hide beneath bundles of mis-matched furs. She had been far too outspoken against her father doing this to get caught doing it herself.

Her musings led her bungling straight into a tall, bearded Cambion. Unused to walking about the streets like a commoner, Astrid took in a breath to object to this man’s clumsiness when she simultaneously spotted the large signet ring on the man’s finger and remembered her pretend station.

“Oh, I do apologize, milord,” Astrid mumbled, beginning a lady’s curtsey, but remembering midway to bow awkwardly and stare at her feet. “It won’t happen ag—”

The man, a member of House Grav, though she didn’t recognize who, began walking away from her mid-sentence. It was as if he hadn’t even seen her. She shook her head and looked after him a moment. He had a very strange look to him. Like he had forgotten an important appointment but couldn’t be seen hurrying.

Having nothing better planned, Astrid followed him.

The man seemed to be heading for the center of the Golden City, where the main thoroughfare stood with trinkets and baubles for sale, but turned suddenly Southward. He wound through alleys and even walked through a building filled with scantily clad dancers. Simply opened the front door and continued on as if he owned the place. He nearly lost her until the dimly lit back room flooded with light as he opened the back door and continued walking, leaving the owners of the building staring at one another.

They were nearly out the main gate, and Astrid was wondering if she was curious enough to continue following him outside the city, when he stopped suddenly, nearly giving Astrid away. She turned into a small alcove and sat, making herself as small as possible. From there she heard a voice she recognized and couldn’t help but peek out to see if it was true.

“Did you think you could hide from me, Alem?” Astrid hadn’t seen Cerlissa Grav-Norsca in nearly five years, when her and Gwind had visited her father in Cliffport, but she was right. It was her stepping from the shadows toward the Grav man. The man, Alem, looked around as if seeking help, and seemed to try to say something to her but the words died before they could make themselves known.

“Alem,” Cerlissa chided him, “come, let me see you.”

Alem swallowed and hesitated, taking a kerchief out of his pocket to wipe his brow, but took a few steps toward her. For a moment, the air was tense but nothing happened, then, in a heartbeat, she had crossed the remaining distance between them and grabbed his wrist. Slowly, she twisted it up and back. He still had the kerchief in his hand when she reached up with her other hand and grabbed it, throwing it in Astrid’s direction. It hit the wall with a thunk near her face, and she thought for sure she’d been spotted until she realized that neither of them were looking at her.

Alem began making a gibbering noise just before Cerlissa grabbed his whole face in one hand. She thought he might have been saying something but she couldn’t understand the words.
“We had a deal, Alem.” Cerlissa snarled at him. Astrid could feel the demonic power building in her, getting ready to explode. Alem began making a noise Astrid had never heard come out of a man before, and she covered her ears with her hands.

Astrid knew there would be a massive fallout for this. She could feel the power building, and when it exploded she didn’t know what would happen. She heard what sounded like a horse half-screaming nearby, then it happened. The power released itself…. but it felt further away than expected. It didn’t hurt.

After looking around for a moment, bewildered, she peeked out of her hiding spot to see Alem, standing alone. The wave of power washing over her from the opposite direction, miles North.
Astrid decided to wait until Alem left.

After a few minutes, she peeked out. He hadn’t moved.

Fifteen minutes…

Twenty-five minutes…

Astrid looked again. He hadn’t moved. Her bones were aching and she finally just lost patience. Stepping out of her little alcove, she faced Alem head on.

…Nothing. No reaction at all.

Astrid narrowed her eyes at him and looked around for the kerchief. When she picked it up, the signet ring was inside.

“Alem Grav.” Astrid said aloud.

“I am Alem Grav.” He replied flatly.

Astrid moved closer and took a better look at him. He wasn’t there anymore. Lost. She’d seen it before, though she’d never known that it could be forced upon a person.

She sighed, “Alem Grav, walk to the Grav Estate by way of the The Wall.” He turned and went, saying nothing. It wasn’t likely that anyone would hurt him, and the guards on The Wall would recognize his state soon enough. She started walking in another direction.

After a few minutes, she cursed herself. She still had the ring and didn’t know what to do with it. She should have put it in his pocket or something. If she returned it to the Grav Estate, there would be questions that Astrid wasn’t interested in answering. If she simply left it somewhere, whoever found it would more likely sell it, rather than return it to his family.
As she mused, she looked around to find Maker Lane. It was getting close to evening time. She’d have to begin the walk back to where she was expected soon, or her entourage would be missing her.

A woman walked by her, then. The brooch on her shoulder revealed her to be a lady of House Rosornos. Perfect. Astrid mussed her hair and hunched her shoulders.

“Lady!” She cried out to her, “Excuse me, lady!”

The Cambion woman toward her, and Astrid made sure not to make eye contact.

“Excuse me, lady. You dropped this.” With that, Astrid shoved the cloth firmly into the woman’s hands and scurried away from her, doing her best to get lost in the meager crowd. She could hear the woman calling after her, but didn’t turn. She didn’t want to be recognized.

That would be embarrassing.

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Little Girls are Made Of

“Do you think it’s safe yet?” Kana asked her sister. Safara didn’t respond at first, and when she did, she obviously had been ignoring her.

“Let’s go South this time and climb the wall.” Safara turned toward her sister, blonde curls bouncing with her excitement. “We can drop down into the Dogleg Forest. No one would think we’d go that way.”

Kana made a noncommittal noise as she looked nervously out of the second-floor window. She fidgeted with the ribbons she had tied in her hair, blonde like her twin sister though they weren’t identical. Kana was taller and had straight, straw-colored hair while Safara looked more like their mom with her delicate stature and golden curls.

“Alright,” Safara stood with a glitter in her eye, “You ready?”

Kana smiled in response and the two of them started out, out the door to the balcony and down the spiral staircase to the patio. From there, Kana walked boldly in the open with an air of confidence that, coupled with her tall stature, sometimes fooled people into mistaking her for a lady of the house, rather than a child barely old enough to be served wine at banquets.

Today, however, there was no one around to fool. Kana turned and beckoned to her sister, who bounced up beside her. They began walking from shadow to shadow, between buildings and through dark gardens, avoiding the lit walkways until they came to a small, well lit outbuilding that stood near the wall.

Safara gave Kana a questioning look that told Kana that there was no way to avoid the light from the small building. After a moment of thought, Kana’s expression settled and she started walking around to the left side of the building. Her skirts whispered against her boots as she worked to keep her steps quiet. Safara hurried to catch up, noticeably louder as the practiced sway of her hips rattled the silver coins tied there.

Just as Safara sidled up to Kana, and the two of them were about to pass the building, there was a thunk and hushed voices raised to shouting within. The two teens paused at the same time, eyes wide and heads craning toward the noise. Glancing at each other, suddenly their plans for the night were far less interesting than that outbuilding and whatever was happening inside.

It was a short walk to the other side of the building, where they could slide near to the window, pressed against the wall. They could still hear the voices inside, and Safara saw that the window was unlocked, so she took a risk to push in the side of the window using two fingers, so that the other side would open a crack. After shifting toward the open side, the voices were far more clear, though not yet distinct enough to follow the conversation.

Footsteps clicked angrily toward the window, and they thought for sure that they’d been caught. Safara put her head down and shrunk against the wall before the window thunked shut. When Safara looked up, however, Kana was looking into the the window with a shocked look on her face that swiftly settled into confusion, then grim determination. When Kana stood, Safara understood what her goal might be, but not her reasoning, and tried to grab at her arm.

Kana shook her off, reached for the door to the outbuilding and threw it open. Inside, two figures turned toward the open door. One, a Beastman slave. The other, a slender woman in a night dress. Kana strode in, facing her mother, who leaned to the side a little and closed a small book. After recovering from the surprise, the Beastman ducked his head and excused himself.

“Kana!” Chaura admonished her daughter, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“What is going on here? Why was a slave shouting at you?” Kana stood to her full height, already taller than her mother by an inch. Safara’s guilty form appeared behind her, looking appropriately chagrined.

“He wasn’t. It was I shouting at him.” Chaura Rosornos’ expression hardened as she seemed to realize what had happened. “You were sneaking out again.”

The girls wilted.

“Do I need to post a guard for you two?” Chaura continued. She stormed toward them, scooping up the book she had closed when they had appeared, and charged down on Safara, who was still cringing behind Kara.

“You’re sleeping in my room tonight.” Chaura announced, after a terrifying silence that caused even Kana to shift uncomfortably, “And those dresses. That’s the price.”

As they followed their mother back to the residence hall, Kana and Safara shared a look that promised future enterprises uncovering this new mystery.

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House of Cards

“Sanna. Come here, please.” Renn called to his young daughter as she began to wander out of sight. He wanted to enjoy this moment with his family.

“It’s beautiful, Renn.” he could hear the smile in his wife’s voice as they stood together on their front lawn. It would be their first night staying in their new home.

“Daddy? What’s that noise?” Sanna was facing northward, her delicately pointed ears parting her dark curls, and after she had brought it to his attention, he could hear it too.

“Sounds like they’re having problems at the docks.” He told her, though he suspected it might be coming from the Blood Wall, further North. “Maybe one of the cargo ships bumped the dock.”

“Can we go inside?” His wife, Kara interjected, “I want to see the view from the balcony!” Sanna squealed and bolted into the house without any further negotiating. Renn began to follow when Kara grabbed his arm and pulled him in for bear hug. “Renn, this a dream come true. Can you believe it? A house in Old Town!”

“Please, Kara,” Renn was bashful now, “You can still see the South Wall from our lawn.” He gestured toward the general direction of the wall, which could not, in fact, be seen from their lawn.

“Come on. I’ve been dying to see this balcony!”

“I forgot to put the tools away. Be there in a minute?”

“Oh fine!” Kara waved behind her in a distracted, teasing manner as she walked toward the house. Renn smiled and turned to walk toward the North side of the house. He began to think of Kara, of all the decades that they had been married and how far they’d come since they had met. They’d both been artisans, working for the the same family by the Lake. She was a woodcarver, he a clothier. It had been hard times, then. He took another look at the house and smiled again. They’d been more successful than either of them had ever dared hope.

A noise broke him from his reverie. A booming and then… was that a scream?

Suddenly, there was a crack from behind him, inside the house. He was about to turn when he saw a man walking through the neighbor’s yard. He looked Cambion from where he could see, and there was something sticking out of his neck.

His neighbor’s granite home caved inward, and Renn could only stare a moment as his brain tried to process what was happening. The smell of a fire finally made him turn. The motion seemed to kick start his brain and he ran for the door, yelling the names of his family. He took a step inside the house and the floor seemed to shift a few inches to the left, causing him to fall back out the front door.

He watched as his beautiful new home began to fall down on him. It was agonizingly slow, but it was deceptive. His adrenaline merely made it seem that way, because it was as if a child’s giant hand had pushed a house of cards flat to the ground. Renn squeezed his eyes shut as the world fell down around him…

Somewhere nearby, there was a high pitched wailing.

“Sanna?” Renn swiftly came to and searched his surroundings. The doorframe, combined with the sloping porch, had directed most of the rubble away from him and he stood up quickly. He spotted Sanna nearby, buried to her chest in what remained of his new home. “Sanna, I’m here. You’ll be okay.” He started to attempt to dig her out, and the smell of smoke from the nearby fire was growing stronger.

Nothing he did could get her out. He glanced up and found the same man, walking toward them. His instincts told him to run. That his only chance was to run.

“Daddy! It hurts!” Renn was glad that his daughter couldn’t see the strange man coming nearer. He looked around for Kara, but there was no sign of her. The fire hopped over the nearest pile of rubble as if it were hunting blindly for prey. Reaching. Searching. It found his boot and he kicked to try and put it out, to fight it off.

“Get out!” Renn shouted as loudly as he could. It was infuriating, this man who simply walked toward them. This man, who so calmly tore everything he had worked his entire life for away from him. Renn picked up a nearby stone, stood, and hurled it at the Cambion’s head.

Inexplicably, the stone reversed itself, and Sanna’s hand found his just before he watched the stone embed itself entirely into his chest.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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