Inferno of the Living

Wine, Mummies, and Song

We raced out of the pyramid, Ushitōrai carrying the lid of the sarcophagus on his back, a battalion of lizardfolk cultists at our heels. Well — most of us. Look, I’m a changeling. I may have taken the form of one of the cultists to infiltrate the pyramid. And I may have stayed in that form after they found us out. But I did my best to help. I purposely shot my arrows over my friends’ heads and yelled at the other guards to focus their fire on Shae. He’s a tree-person, right? A few arrows can’t hurt him. He’ll be fine.

Or maybe not. I felt the pain of the arrows piercing his bark. Thankfully, he quickly recovered and used the jungle all around us to set up a wall between them and the guards. I was able to follow up later as the cultists dispersed through the jungle looking for them. I found them hiding out in a cave and quickly convinced them not to kill me, even though I still looked like one of the cultists. I apologized to Shae. For the record, I really am sorry.

Maybe a little background is in order. My name is Kalypso. My friends — Ushitōrai, Shae, and Izthri Rax Toxit — are freebooters from Dis. Ditchwater, to be precise. Home of the Librum Arcanum Sangrium, an unbelievably creepy blood magic library, where Clonius, an unbelievably creepy blood magic librarian, offered us 600 coins to raid this sarcophagus lid from the pyramid of some ancient lizardfolk king in some new plane called Paxche that Dis just started devouring. I’m not a fan of creepy blood magi, but we took the assignment because we enjoy eating.

Anyway, we hid out in a cave for a while as the lizardfolk searched the jungles for us, but eventually we had to sneak out to find a path back home. On the road, we found a cart. Someone had killed the merchants driving it, but it was intact and they’d left the cargo — a few butts of wine. So we hid the sarcophagus lid underneath the wine and dragged the cart — well, Ushitōrai dragged the cart — back to Melania.

Ditchwater connects to Melania under a moldy, rotten bridge. We were almost home free when thieves ambushed us for the wine (of course). I really didn’t want to hurt them. I tried to play it tough, like a guard, trying to intimidate them, but they wouldn’t let us go. My companions murdered two of them easily. Only then did the other two finally get wise and run. I was mostly overcome with the pain they were feeling and tried not to fall off the cart. We made it back to Ditchwater, though, not too much the worse for wear. I ditched the lizardfolk disguise and went back to my usual frog-person form.

Izthri healed Ushitōrai’s injuries. That, unfortunately, drew the attention of some goblins with Ditchwater Fever. They wanted healing, too. Izthri tried to tell them that she only healed wounds, not sickness (not that she’d have the power to heal that many of them, anyway), but they were too desperate to listen to things like that. They started swarming the cart, screaming and crying for healing. I gave them the wine, told them to drink it instead of the fetid water. That was enough to sate them — at least long enough for us to get away. Ushitōrai was pretty ticked off at me. He wanted to sell the wine. I did too, but I reminded him that we hadn’t really lost anything. The wine had never been part of the mission, just an unexpected bonus.

So we went back to Clonius and delivered the sarcophagus lid. As payment, he gave us 500 coins in a box that he said was worth another 100 coins. We suspected he was screwing us over, so we went to a kenku merchant named Fujin that Ushitōrai knew. Fujin said it was a worthless forgery of a blood magic box, but he’d give us a few coins for it. I told him we’d just take the box back to Clonius and demand all of our money. Fujin quickly changed his tune, claiming that it was a very good forgery of a blood magic box, good enough to foist on some other hapless fools. He finally gave us 100 gold pieces and a bottle of sake for the box, muttering something about blackmail and blood magi. I guess it wasn’t so worthless after all.

Ushitōrai, Izthri, and Shae instantly blew their share of the money on a pretty epic night out on the town. I gave most of my share to Kratos, to help the changeling refugees. He had terrible news for me: Electra killed herself while I was out on the mission. Only 199 of us remain. We are an endangered species. We’re deperate and losing hope. More and more of us are whispering that Taketios has the right idea — crushing our natural empathy and become assassins to make a living. I said I’d go talk to him. I’m really not looking forward to it.

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