Mini-Expedition 16a: Operation Floating Market

Hexes of Interest, Visited: 03.14. Hexes of Interest, Not Visited: 00.16

January 7, 2017

Operation Floating Market, to wit, Preliminary Tactical Reconnaissance of Non-Conformist Irregular Units of the Western Abyssal Guard and Threat Assessment of Environs

Expedition Personnel:
Katan Argent, Military Rank (Estimated) Captain, Special Infantry (Kenku Designation [The crashing of a mighty hammer down upon the last overwhelmed survivor of a withering defeat, the crash echoing like thunder above the cries of victorious celebration], short form: [Thunderous Smiting]) [NB: Military Rank Estimation Under Internal Review.] (paladin 1)
Pierre-Lee, Military Rank (Estimated) Lieutenant, Medical Division (Kenku Designation [Soft rumbling chuckle of one too wise to the follies of others to begrudge them, secure in their own inner equilibrium], short form: [Quiet Laughter]) (cleric [Trickery] 2),
Flora Greenburrow, Military Rank (Estimated) Lieutenant, Magical Operations (Kenku Designation [The cooing of a nesting mother over her fractious chicks to turn their thoughts from the cold outside the nest to the warm regurgitated grubs that come to good cooperative nestlings], short form: [Nesting Coo]) (wizard 1)
o Servitor: Mr. Fluffy, Delicious Squirrel [NB: Resemblance to Emergency Rations apparently Unintentional. Attempts to Consume met with Disapproving Glances.]
Clementine Merryweather, Military Rank (Estimated): Lance-Corporal, Intelligence Service (Kenku Designation [The quick crisp flutter of pages by an expert scholar finding a well-known reference to prove a point of order to an obstinate opponent], short form: [Snapping Vellum]) (warlock 1)
Bugle Reveille, Military Rank [Classified] (Full Kenku Designation [The blowing of reveille, the need for silence gone, on an empty battlefield littered with the slain, tinged by sadness for those fallen, never to be acknowledged, in this officially unsanctioned battle of a dirty, vital little war]) (fighter 1)

Hostile Personnel / Natural Hazards Terminated:
-2 x Fleshy Ground-Based Demons (Estimated Abyssal Rank: 1st)
-1 x Flying Spined Demon (Estimated Abyssal Rank: 1st or 2nd)
-2 x Skeletal Remains (Note: No Active/Purposeful Necromancy Detected)
-1 x Large-Scale Trunked Quadruped
-Total: 430 XP / 5 Operatives = 86 XP per Operative (Guild Tactical Field Research Bureau Estimate)

Useful War Materiel Recovered = 330 GP
-Fine Pearls (210 GP worth)
-Silver Old Empire Cutlery (70 GP worth)
-Trunked Quadruped Hide (30 GP worth)

Confirmed and Actionable Intelligence Items – Locations (Minor) = 150 GP.
-‘Dissenter’ Port Town [03.14] (50 GP)
-Lighthouse Structure with Selective Perception Technology [03.14] (50 GP)
-Distant Lagoon [00.16] (50 GP)

Unconfirmed Intelligence
-Farther Lagoon [~-04.20] [NB: Existence of Farther Lagoon Disputed, Unconfirmed by Indigenous Intelligences / Secondary Expeditionary Personnel] (0 GP)

-Total: 480 GP / 5 Operatives = 96 GP per operative (116 GP factoring in Guild Bursar’s Administrative Efficiency Bonus)

-Total: 430 XP + 480 GP = 910 XP / 5 Operatives = 182 XP per Operative (200 XP factoring in Guild Personnel Registry’s Administrative Efficiency Bonus)

Local Organizations Encoutered:
• Inhabitants of Port Town – Diplomatic Status: Questionable, Potentially Hostile
o Evidence to Support Assessment: Initial conflict led to repeated aggressive attempts to show dominance through intimidation, threats, and violating established agreements; no overt violence resulted at this encounter but there is no basis for any ongoing trust.
o These individuals, apparent deserters from Western Abyssal Guard organization, self-described as ‘Dissenters’ (Kenku Designation [Curs fighting over the last scrap of flesh on a bone while snapping at hands offering them choice cuts], short form: Hungry Dogs)
o Key Personnel:
 Blathebob (Military Dictator / Commanding Officer)
 Ma! ’ fu! ’ ku! ’ fuh! (Negotiations Specialist / Foreign Service Officer)
 Batana (Function Unclear)
 Relimmi and Goooor (Recon Squadron: “Most cunning” spies/scouts)

• Western Abyssal Guard – Diplomatic Status: Friendly, Loosely Allied
o Evidence to Support Assessment: Combined Military Engagement with positive resolution (see Operational Engagement #01, below); established relationship with Sovan faction of Guild personnel prepared diplomatic foundation for positive relations.
o Key Personnel:
 Corporal Grubbs, Western Abyssal Guard Regular Forces (Wounded in Action)
 Unnamed Abyssal Guard Personnel (1 Wounded, 2 Killed in Action)
 Unnamed Abyssal Guard Soldier, Derelict in Duty (Abandoning Comrades to Enemy Forces) (Unharmed)

• Eastern Abyssal Guard – Diplomatic Status: Initially Hostile, Ceasefire at Best
o Evidence to Support Assessment: All friendly overtures failed. Open-handed approach was met with serious threat of longbow fire, repeated demand to maintain bowshot’s range of demilitarized zone around their temporary outpost.
o Key Personnel:
 Unnamed Lookout (Archer, Estimated 1st-3rd Rank)

Day 1
This Kenku is equipped, for the duration of its mission, with a magically enhanced shortsword equipped with an persistent Evocation enchantment of paralyzing venom and two uses of a rapid Evoked Healing functionality in addition to its standard-issue equipment.

Elsewhere, this Kenku, [Thunderous Smiting] [dragonborn, self-expressed Commanding Officer] and [Nesting Coo] [gnome, Magical Specialist] are given Aid by [Iron Roots] [dwarf, Munitions Specialist] who also charges the armor of [Snapping Vellum] [half-elf, Intelligence Operative] with protective dweomers for the day.

Entering [Standard Hex 03.14], the expedition speeds from the Wall directly to the purported site of a stone wharf [likely Old Empire] and functioning indigenously manufactured deepwater-equipped sailing vessel.

This locale is found on the North-West facet of the hex’s land mass, surrounded by a ten-foot (10’) cleared space from the pervasive Tall Grass of the plains. (Captured Sound: [the whistling of an ocean breeze, funnelled by sea-coast into gusts over a rustling second sea of winter-dried grains].)

Initial reconnaissance indicates (from a distance) that the wharf is simple stone, by no means distinctive in its engineering or configuration, jutting from a sandy beach littered with dugout canoes. No sailing vessel is in evidence. A five-foot (5’) stone wall, topped by a protective five-foot (5’) palisade of treated wood, forms a protective hundred-foot (100’) semi-circle around this beach and wharf. Later observations from atop the palisade by [Thunderous Smiting] indicate approximately eight well-kept structures and two or more cooking fires / hearths enclosed within this wall.

The creatures populating this settlement are of the Corrupted, sub-species ‘Western Abyssal Guard’ [see prior Logs], tawny-furred lanky bipeds. Observations suggest at least twenty confirmed unique individuals, with the size of the settlement potentially supporting up to one hundred persons, some likely non-combatants.

[For suggestions on the practicability, desirability, and potential tactical considerations of any full-scale military engagement with this settlement, please consult sub-log [Redacted. Clearance Required.]]

This Kenku successfully approaches the wall without any evidence of detection (Stealth 17), observing signs of frequent and attentive patrols along its wooden parapet. Without warning, discussion or prior authorization, [Snapping Vellum] raises to that half-elf’s feet and greets the suddenly alert and agitated guards. One such guard, this Kenku notices, is signalling for reinforcements as that half-elf attempts to engage with them; this Kenku restricts itself to agreed spoken signal for Enemy Inbound ([Whipoorwills Ascending at Dusk]), as standing orders are for Kenku assets to remain in cover save for clear necessity to rescue or safeguard mission-critical assets and objectives., It seems clear that this is not the case herein described.

The guard notes that we are not ‘spiders’ [NB: Corrupted, sub-species ‘Fela’ [see prior Logs]], nor ‘Recruiters’ [NB: designation presently not known to Expedition, potential new sub-species, potential desgation for Western Abyssal Guard] but that we are other “little people”. In response to this perceived attempt to leverage their superior stature, [Thunderous Smite] rises to that dragonborn’s full height; obscured by tall grass, however, that dragonborn’s appearance is not notably effective in impressing social dominance upon the wall-top guard far above. This Kenku maintains covered overwatch.

One relatively diminutive but highly authoritative [Hungry Dog] appears, marked by possession of [magical item – uncommon rank – bracers] bearing many characteristics of the previously geopolitically dominant militaristic-theocratic state colloquially referred to as the “Old Empire”. That [Hungry Dog] is also equipped with un unsecured [melee weapon, special heavy class – glaive] not immediately obvious as suitable ordinance for a being of its limited stature, as well as many admirable scars.

That [Hungry Dog] is either the ‘strong man’ or chieftain for that ethnically distinctive settlement, according to later extrapolations of [Hungry Dogs] culture by [Snapping Vellum]; that half-elf advanced a theory that the scars come from honourable ritual combat for position of Leader – a sensible and pragmatic solution to the problem of strong central leadership, not in keeping with the broader non-rational belligerence of the tribe’s broader foreign policy [see below].

That Leader made immediate attempts to dominate the situation by inflammatory comment upon our “Small and weak” stature. [Nesting Coo] rises to that gnome’s full height in an attempted counter-ploy that unfortunately appears only to confirm that [Hungry Dogs]’s lack of regard for expedition personnel’s stature. Gives name as ‘Blathobob’ [Unworthy of Kenku Designation].

Blathobob retires his glaive unit and sits on the wall’s edge, addressing the expedition as members of the “Great Ship Riders”, their indigenous designation for Sila personnel. During this time a small party of [Hungry Dogs] serpentine covertly into the surrounding tall grass SSW of our position, where we lose sight of them – Ration/Asset “Mr. Fluffy” goes looking for [Nesting Coo], finds several of them by “scampering” [NB: [Nesting Coo]’s phraseology]. This does little as Fluffy is a useless if delicious squirrel.

Blathobob issues a seemingly prepared ‘heroic boast’ [indicating warrior culture, oral tradition, personal reputation as points of potential leverage]. The [Hungry Dogs]’ ship is with extreme redundancy designated as the Pride of Pride – a non-regulation civilian repair of an Old Silanyan hulk, no true warship, and not indicative of any significant wider naval threat from this quarter. [NB: Later interactions with Blathobob indicate that their technology is pre-metallurgy and so the hulk is not even equipped with any metal fixtures.

The ship is apparently visiting another tribe, the Lagooners, of which Blathobob also claims chieftancy. [NB: Blathobob is an accomplished prevaricator. None of the above should be treated as confirmed intelligence until Expeditionary Forces have eyes-on.] That [Hungry Dog] further opines about the Dissenters as superior in outlook to the Abyssal Guard – seeking a glorious future away from plains, not trapped by the past.

When asked about where the Lagooners are located, Blathobob informs us with some asperity that they live In the Lagoon. Upon further probing, that [Hungry Dog] points to the lagoon; it is invisible from ground level. [Thunderous Smiting] is invited atop the wall, that dragonborn’s vocal volume and larger stature encouraging the local warlord to assume that dragonborn our natural superior and assumed leader.

Climbing up, [Thunderous Smiting] appears unable to see the lagoon (Perception 6 / 2 (Advantage based on horror of appearing stupid)) but convinces the remainder of the expedition that that dragonborn has seen it (Deception 13) except for [Snapping Vellum] (Insight 16) who demands that that dragonborn not write a lagoon location on the official map, to no avail.

Offering us a boat to make it to the lagoon – a dugout canoe, as the Pride is gone for days and the lagoon is past swimming distance – the [Hungry Dogs] ask for scale mail [local designation: ‘metal second skin’] to supplant their poorly maintained, improvisedly constructed armour. Other metal we have can be traded for pearls [local designaton: ‘shiny clam bits’.]

As an example of such metal, this Kenku embarrasses the expedition and this Kenku’s flock by throwing a spare quiver of arrows (Athletics 16 / 4 (Disadv.)), wasting Commander(…?) [Thunderous Smiting’s lightning catch (Dex 15); the quiver falls uselessly to the bottom of the wall. [Emotional Referent: [Shattering glass on a pitiless flagstoned floor] [Children sob quietly as the promised treat is withdrawn].]

[Snapping Vellum] collects the quiver and passes it up on the condition that [Thunderous Smiting] pass back down the map first to be stripped of its dubious Lagoon designation from that dragonborn. Once the arrows arrive up top, their quality is suggested to be worth 10 GP of pearls per quiver. Next, however, [Snapping Vellum] attempts to influence this interaction with unauthorized deployment of Feywild-empowered Cognitive Reconditioning; Blathobob can immediately tell and threatens hostilities, or at the very least the punishment of [Snapping Vellum] by ritual flogging with a large whip produced for that purpose.

[Thunderous Smiting] manages to assert that dragonborn’s status as leader to ensure that our expedition is given the right to punish that half-elf ourselves; Blathobob orders that dragonborn off the wall and our expedition is sent away. [NB: during the above, any sudden motions towards Blathobob’s whetstone is almost certainly used as one component of a signal for full attack.]

The expedition continued down towards a large sand spit jutting Westward into the Border Sea – [Thunderous Smiting] continues to insist that there is a second lagoon, which none but this Kenku believe. Once on the spit, all but [Nesting Coo] and [Thunderous Smiting] are able to clearly see the lagoon; [Snapping Vellum]’s attempts to make that dragonborn admit their inability was fruitless. [NB: During this time this Kenku remained loyally convinced of that dragonborn’s abilities. Such credulity is now this Kenku’s shame.]

The Lagoon is in [00.16] Hex – 2 off shore. The edge of an island is on its North-East surmounted by a large hill with a lagoon below. On such being pointed out, [Nesting Coo] manages to snap it into unusual focus, able to see at least 2-3 campfires (Natural –] 21 Perception), and a sense that the rest of the Lagoon Island might comprise as much as an entire Hex.

[Thunderous Smiting], at this juncture, attempts to convinces the expedition that there is a “harder to see second Lagoon” (Deception 14), to which belief the Expedition is unusually compliant [Clem (1/2 Insight w. Advantage for knowing it’s BS) / Pierre 10 / this Kenku accepts that dragonborn is truthfull] [Nesting Coo] sees through this deception (Insight 17) but moves the expedition along to avoid unnecessary interpersonal conflict, remembering that [the hatchlings pushing each other out of the way] [the hatchlings tumbling from the nest] [the hatchlings all squawking their last, starving and exhausted and alone].

Expedition personnel discuss a possible ambush, but decide to risk it and move to the spit; while 3 dissenters hunt gazelle with spears, 6 attempt to sneak up on our flank. Our dragonborn Commander (…?) shrieks, at an oddly elevated and tremulous pitch, that “I see you assholes” (sic) and launches a blast of frost from his throat. The attempted ambushers aim for an expeditious retreat.

Once out on the spit, all initially seems normal, until [Snapping Vellum] realizes that the current pattern around this natural feature seems supernaturally influenced. [Nesting Coo] agrees; the listening [Quiet Laughter] derives from their studies a sudden insight that the currents’ eddies suggest an invisible offshore building. As a unit, the expedition works out that such a building exists on the spit’s North side, further off the quarter, 300 feet offshore.

This Kenku skips a stone directly to its base (Dex 26), and with a sudden noise [eldritch ringing as the universe vibrates into sudden realignment] and a perception filter drops so that [Nesting Coo] and this Kenku can see the structure – one hundred feet (100’) high, with a stone foundation tapering up towards a burnt-out light chamber. Another skipped stone reveals it to the remainder.

Continuing to the coast, [Nesting Coo] guides [Snapping Vellum] as that half-elf writes notes on various interesting fauna, including a new type of shell. At one juncture the expedition encounters two new crab species, the smaller used by the larger as slaves and servants. One large crab with a Crown of Shell Fragments was escorted beyond our presence by attentive personal security personnel upon our attempt to approach them.

On the South-Western edge of the Hex, four Western Abyssal Guards emerged from the grass after a failed attempt to escape this Kenku’s notice. These Guards still impressed as having notably better armour and discipline, if not notably better stealth protocols. A fifth Guardsman, their leader [NB: Late identified as Corporal Grubbs (Full Kenku Designation: [the satisfied grunt of a master instructor seeing inferior materials under his expert control transfigured into living weapons], short form: [Master’s Reward]] emerges and physically disciplines his errant recruits for their breach of protocol in allowing themselves to be reconnoitered by potentially hostile combatants.

Cpl. Grubbs asks the expedition if we are from the same Guild as “Sovan the Blessed Healer” – this Kenku effects introductions by using Kenku speech to produce [Sovan saying that half-elf’s own name], [’Corporal Grubbs’ saying that Guardsman’s own name] [the slapping of hands together in holy brotherhood]. From here a friendly and cooperative spirit of inter-organizational fraternization prevails.

Cpl. Grubbs is visibly incredulous at claim of Blathobob to be leader of anything much, but rather than disseminate any further intelligence upon this doubtless sensitive subject, that Guardsman has the Guard Recruits build unit cohesion and morale by chorally explaining the “Standard Operating Order” that “the Dissenters’ Diplomatic Status is Classified”. This Kenku would like to strongly comment upon how much this Kenku very much approves of such proper compartmentalization of active operational intelligence.

Otherwise, the Guardsmen do confirm that the Lagoon is Dissenter territory, that there are gazelle herds to the East, and ruins to the South-East, but that this Hex is broadly safe as a result of this theatre being far behind the lines of Abyssal Guard counter-Demon offensives. This Guardsman patrol is, itself, looping up here from beyond their Western fort. Cpl. Grubbs et al. know of the wall, and are interested if not over-awed to confirm that we are from behind it. The patrol offers to escort all Guild personnel to the fort to spend the night in relative security, but our expedition collectively refuses; the Guardsmen go.

The expedition returns to the coast to seek out the unusual crabs. Two hours of using [Nesting Coo]’s abilities to speak to the animals establishes that they are as smart as a cat [though significantly less vile and frightening], and that the small crabs are indeed both food and slaves to the larger, as delicious aphids are in an ant’s nest. The crabs swiftly want us gone; trying to express complex ideas frustrates them. We confirm once more that the King is bodyguarded by larger crabs as that Monarch is once again escorted from our presence by crab security forces.

This Kenku leaves the colony sixteen ounces of Stippled Wanderer grubs as a diplomatic overture to excuse our interruption of their vital mission of self-preservation and the expedition goes on its way.

Continuing inland, we hear battle and find the Abyssal Guard patrol in an ambush from two crawling, leathery demons [Estimated Abyssal Rank: 1st] and a spined flying demon [Estimated Abyssal Rank: 1st or 2nd]. Three recruits are downed before we arrive and we see Cpl. Grubbs fall to demonic assault as we arrive. A last recruit is committing a dereliction of duty, retreating from the field with comrades and superior officers dying in their absence in the absence of any orders to do so. Truly there is no greater shame.

[Quiet Laughter], overcome by compassionate bonhomie for our loosely allied brethren, decides to engage with all due dispatch and save those Guardsmen that he can. This Kenku and the others follow his lead and expert medical opinion that we can save at least one Guardsman if our operational decisions are sufficiently timely and tactically sound.

Engagement – Targets Alpha, Beta and Gamma
As our expedition closes, this Kenku draws longbow and hits one leathery Demon [Target Beta] at long range. Both sides charge each other to engage, the spiny Demon [Target Alpha] flying ahead. [Thunderous Smiting] appears to have difficulty outpacing our expedition’s dwarf and gnome despite that dragonborn’s legs being approximately as long as their bodies.

This Kenku’s next shot misses Target Alpha, while [Nesting Coo] slips a potion in the frustratingly appetizing squirrel asset’s leather holster and sends it towards the fallen Guardsmen. [Snapping Vellum] readies a blast of eldritch might, while [Quiet Laughter] hefts their hammer. [Thunderous Smiting] runs very slowly behind.

This Kenku attempts to close faster but trips (Athletics 1) and loses this Kenku’s shot, while [Snapping Vellum] cunningly gives the impression of becoming exhausted by Critically Missing in an attempt to engage Target Alpha from beyond regulation magical range; [Nesting Coo] capitalizes to barrage Target Alpha with magic missiles while the melee members of the expedition close, before [Snapping Vellum] critically hits Target Alpha following the channel of Arcane Energy left by their prior ‘miss’ – a staggeringly cunning stratagem on that half-elf’s part – and turns it into a fountain of exploding gore.

This Kenku misses but maintains range, [Nesting Coo] launches further magical missiles that half-disembowels the larger leathery Demon [Target Gamma], before [Quiet Laughter] vaporizes Gamma with a bolt of Radiant ordinance. [Thunderous Smiting] knocks aside the guard of the survivor, Target Beta, with that dragonborn’s morningstar – speed suddenly increased as the available targets dwindle – which clears the way for this Kenku’s arrow to take Beta’s throat.

Day 1 (Cont’d.)
[Thundering Smiting] Lays on Hands to revive the Corporal as per the Sacred Paladin Code, along with the one surviving Recruit. That dragonborn’s attempt to loudly and abusively call back the running Guardsman fails, of a sudden, Cpl. Grubb shoots up, and with a thunderous “TENNSHUN” the shameful deserter returns.

Cpl. Grubbs claims that the Guardsman ‘owes us one’ – before resuming the trek home to the Western Fort. Future visitors should, under any duress, not hesitate to exploit this possible strategic advantage.

Our expedition continues South-East towards the ruins – a former collection of small villages or towns, long gone to seed. Its several dozen structures are now mostly bare foundations.

One structure, however is properly repaired. Blessed by [The Nameless Trickster God], this Kenku approaches and sees a double barred wood gate below a lookout tower manned by a Grey Abyssal Guard – as prior logs have clarified, one of the Eastern Guard. This Kenku, followed by the expedition, rises from the tall grass and attempted to discuss peaceful co-existence in this theatre of our joint operations, but that personage is, from the very start of discussions, persistently and antagonistically indifferent and hostile and allows no productive negotiation or sharing of the Eastern Guardsmens’ shelter.

From inside the structure, this Kenku and the other personnel hear [a beast in pain, penned in without hope of rescue, calling for its kin] (short form: [Lost Howling]). Without any intervening interaction, the Eastern Abyssal Guard lookout issues peremptory commands that we leave which the expeditionary force members comply with to avoid unnecessary engagement with the opposing party. That party maintains a clear shooting angle with a nocked and three-quarters drawn arrow towards our position until we retreat more than six hundred feet (600’) – to wit, maximal effective longbow range.

Without any apparent practical opportunity to find better shelter after being denied access to that temporary outpost, this section of field is therefore designated as temporary base of operations to await daybreak. [Nesting Coo] enacts Abjuration wards to effect some warning in the event of incursion and the party retires, consuming standard-issue rations.

This Kenku consumes approximately 30 of its remaining supply of Grand Velvet Crickets to augment same. Further requisition from its Flock Mess is hereby requested, with [Redacted]-rank priority shipping further requested to enable timely replenishment of this admitted luxury.

Night 1
The first watch (guard picket: [Bugle Reveille], [Snapping Vellum]) begins with an attempt by [Snapping Vellum] to clarify operational doctrine and to simplify the chain of command. That half-elf asserts that there is only ONE superior officer for local detachments – Commander Fior (Kenku Designation: [Classified], Human Naming Conventions to Apply) – with NO FORMAL OPERATIONAL RANKS OR DELEGATED AUTHORITY below the Commander (Persuade 13).

This Kenku experiences much difficulty with the concept and the accompanying very succinct Organizational Chart, and expresses its discomfort with not being below ‘Captain’ [Thunderous Smiting], to whom at this time it still ascribes operational seniority, but cannot refute that half-elf’s logic (Wisdom 4). A visibly [the clenched fist of a diplomatic envoy forced for the good of the mission to endure the ignorance of their counterpart] half-elf re-draws the Chart with [Bugle Reveille] below all others as requested. Still, the conversation makes it impossible to ignore the persistent and widespread contradictions throughout this expedition, and in Sila, of [Thunderous Smiting]’s self-asserted rank.

During this difficult but edifying interpersonal interaction, two [Hungry Dogs] operatives (later identified as ‘Relimmi’ and ‘Goooor’ of that tribe) steal a piece of combat ordinance [javelin, cut to dragonborn scale] from [Thunderous Smiting], who has not, on the available evidence, made adequate provision for maintaining control of its Guild-issued equipment. That dragonborn issues a direct order to this Kenku to engage and retrieve that ordinance. Operational doctrine requires immediate obedience to military superiors, but also that attempts to usurp the chain of command be perceived as inappropriate at best, mutinous at worst. The doctrinally correct response to this order from one Rather than take charge of the situation, [Thunderous Smiting] engages in vociferous protest at the perceived inefficiencies of this Kenku. The intruders escape unmolested.

The second watch (guard picket: [Nesting Coo], [Thunderous Smiting]) is uneventful. No conversation is overheard.

The third watch (guard picket: [Quiet Laughter]), Pierre reports shouting at a “mean ostrich” [official designation unknown] to dissuade it from hostile activity.

No further incidents to report.

Day 2
The expedition wakes, eats a small breakfast of crickets, spider eggs and field rations (in all cases but this Kenku, only the field rations) and returns to the [Hungry Dogs]. Before arrival, it is determined that [Snapping Vellum] and [Thunderous Smiting] are not negotiating (that half-elf being persona non grata, and that dragonborn being notably erratic on the topic of stolen javelins). Diplomatic overtures are thus relinquished to the control of [Quiet Laughter].

These dwarf-led negotiations are immediately read by Blathobob as insult; our expedition attempts to designate this decision more positively, as a strong leader’s delegation.

Blathobob freely admits to sending “most cunning” warriors to steal a javelin in ‘exchange’ for [Thunderous Smiting] not punishing [Snapping Vellum] in [Hungry Dogs] fashion, to wit: bloody whipping. Much speechifying ensued that was difficult to filter into sensible Kenku language, much of which seemed to be about social proof and status as between Blathobob and [Thunderous Smiting].

[Snapping Vellum], to demonstrate the depths of that half-elf’s contrition, eventually uttered [the unconvincing tears of an amateur thespian] about that half-elf’s lost gold, taken by [Thunderous Smiting] to punish that half-elf for past transgressions. This display does, however, seem to fool the [Hungry Dogs], who apparently do not have a Kenku’s ear for voices. They are also fooled by this Kenku brushing Clem with wing tips to simulate a slap of disdain and corporal punishment to reinforce discipline. [All apologies to [Snapping Vellum]. Special Operations are often beset with personal trials, an inferior officer making unsolicited personal contact not least among them.]

Ma! ’ fu! ’ ku! ’ fuh – a dwarf-sized humanoid with a driftwood staff [threat assessement: nil, likely ceremonial] – takes over negotiations. Further tedious haggling ensues with no operational interest to a properly focused Kenku operative save for this Kenku spotting [Hungry Dog] scouts Relimmi and Goooor attempting to ambush the party and exposing them, with some explicitly expressed disgust at the transparency of their covert operations techniques.

At long, long last, a side deal of 210 GP worth of pearls for 14 Arrow Quivers (@ 15 GP Pearls/Quiver) is successful.

Attempting to rent canoe, collateral needed – Smiths’ Tools are rejected (what these?) and ringmail (too heavy). Eventually we make side deal main deal – 15 arrow quivers collateral and forgiveness of javelin theft debt for canoe rental, payment on return.

The expedition paddles over, [Thunderous Smiting] steering through rough seas, to the lighthouse. At the base, the thick wooden door appears to be barred from the inside despite no survivors inside. After magic and [Quiet Laughter]’s hammer initiate forcible breach of the doorway, [Thunderous Smiting] attempts to open the door by sticking one hand through the ensuing gap in its wood panels, when a skeletal hand rakes down that dragonborn’s forearm. All personnel immediately engage.

Engagement 2 – Targets Delta and Epsilon
Immediately seizing control of the situation, [Quiet Laughter] Turns the undead Targets, who flee before that dwarf’s divine patron.

The expeditionary forces open the previously barred portal and comprehensively exterminate both Targets when they rush back out; [Quiet Laughter] reduces Target Epsilon to powder in a mighty hammer blow before combined efforts via Eldritch Blast and longbow fell Target Delta.

Day 3 (Cont’d.)
Inside the lighthouse is mostly featureless save for an immense burnt-out lamp, similar to those found in the Dark Forest in prior logs. The structure remains sound, however, and the expedition requisitions valuable materiel from the interior: 70 GP of silver cutlery, an antique Silanyan shortsword previously used by Target Delta, and a small bundle of old journals.

Of note, Lt. [Snapping Vellum] asserts that there was no magic detected anywhere on the premises, not even Necromancy; it is bruited that the skeletons were created by a combination of the Lighthouse Keepers’ despair and the first wave of the [Corruption Event (see prior Logs)].

Returning to the Wharf, the [Hungry Dogs] try to change the deal and massively devalue the arrows left as collateral; this Kenku admits that it spent much of the next period scanning the horizon for threats while much tedious haggling ensues with the honourless [Hungry Dogs]. The expedition rejects those [Dogs]’ apparently sincere offer to buy [Snapping Vellum], and resort at last to an ultimatum from the implacable [Quiet Laughter] that the expedition will take the original deal or that Silanyan Guild forces will sever all trade relations with the [Hungry Dogs] for the foreseeable future, effective immediately. The [Hungry Dogs] give us what they promised; the expedition returns the requisitioned canoe and leaves, its members’ disapproval of this interaction’s dishonest tenor hopefully clear.

At this juncture, the decision is made to attempt further negotiations with the Eastern Abyssal Guard Outpost for a temporary shelter in exchange for goods or services. Upon return to the structure previously deemed an Eastern Abyssal Guard outpost, that structure is clear of all hostiles and other entities. The source of the earlier audible [Lost Howling] from within is given possible context by the presence of a great quality of effluence found throughout the structure; initial examination suggested elephant dung. No other actionable intelligence, materiel or other resources is located inside.

As a relatively fortified structure whose layout included an archery platform, fire-pit and shelter from the elements, the structure itself does however have short-term strategic value as a base of operations for the night, especially considering the [Hungry Dogs] incursions of the night before facilitated by their ready access to an unsecured campground.

The structure is therefore designated as temporary base of operations to await daybreak.

Expedition successfully finds rations in vicinity of designated nightly shelter, with exception of [Thunderous Smiting]. That dragonborn’s expressed reason for failure to accord to mission objectives in this instance was a professed lack of belief that other personnel expected that dragonborn to “go get food from the ground” as if [Thunderous Smiting] was a “servant or something”.

[Nesting Coo] expresses resignation in a Kenku fashion – [the sigh of a nesting mother as her chick attempts to fly to escape her grooming ministrations, only to tumble against the edge of the nest and require timely but non-urgent rescue lest it fall] – and provides a selection of small tubers and herbs that gnome had successfully acquired from a nearby hollow and fashioned into what that gnome called a ‘salad’ [NB: A curious Gnomish delicacy. Essentially, a standard rodent-and-seed mash, but with all elements replaced by vegetables and non-regurgitated. Apparently nourishing despite its lack of animal proteins.]

This Kenku discovered a large beetle colony, saves some samples, and enjoys the remainder immensely with a small handful of dried Tiger Blossom larvae to augment its nutritional and aesthetic qualities.

Watches are set and the expedition settles in for the evening.

Night 2
No incidents meriting report. All watches uneventful.

Day 3
Morning begins uneventfully. Persistent sense-impressions (odiferous) from Quadruped Young Pellets invite urgency in departing residence for fresh air. Grubs running low. Morale, as always, echoes the grub supply. Delicious Squirrel continues taunting presence atop [Nesting Coo]’s shoulder. This Kenku’s proposal that it would likely maintain some degree of combat functionality with minor tissue damage (to wit: consumption of plump, juicy foreleg) met with gentle but firm refusal on part of all other personnel.

Decision is made to find valuable local fauna and to further training in small-squad tactical combat with hostile elements. To this end, attempt is made to locate suitable targets for hunting, slaughter. Combined tracking efforts locate traces (spoor, tracks) of hyena, elephant, ostrich and lion creatures. Elephant is pursued as most valuable source of trade goods of the four.

Lone elephant [henceforth: Hostile Zeta] located farther into plains some minutes later. This Kenku is sent to secrete itself and harass Zeta with [projectile attacks, longbow] to induce its rapid and heedless movement towards other waiting personnel, constituting an elementary ambush tactic. Absent typical Kenku cohesion and military discipline, the tactical situation seems favourable to this proposed course of action.

Unfortunately, as is well known in the Service, No Plan Survives The Battlefield. This Kenku successfully infiltrates the tall grass and strikes Zeta in its flank, but rather than fleeing towards the designated ambush zone, Zeta begins a tactical retreat that will swiftly carry it beyond practicable combat range.

At this juncture [Thunderous Smiting] rears back and attempts to induce hostility in Zeta by means of that Dragonborn’s facial expressions, which twist into a rictus I have been taught by [Joyful Lute] [Human Designation: Sovan Dareshin] indicates “being a snot”, a non-Kenku expression equivalent to [the collective squawk as, though there are barely enough voles for all, one Kenku takes a double portion].

Hostile Zeta immediately turns and attempted to engage [Thunderous Smiting] with extraordinary dispatch.

Engagement 3 – Target Zeta
This Kenku must sorrowfully report its dereliction of duty in maintaining its ordinance – as it attempts to provide ranged support, its bowstring snaps, possibly due to over-use, necessitating a full restringing of its standard-issue Guild longbow. [This Kenku’s prior efforts to requisition its former equipment from [Redacted] were regrettably denied in accordance with ongoing operational concerns.]

When this Kenku is finished and rejoins the engagement, [Thunderous Smiting] is atop the deceased Hostile Zeta, loudly declaiming to all in the immediate environs that “when you let me do everything, see how good it goes? That shows you, huh?” [NB: Zeta’s demise was not witnessed by this Kenku. No confirmation, as of this writing, has been made regarding whether that dragonborn was, effectively, capable of successful solitary engagement with and termination of Hostile Zeta.]

[Also of note: While the remainder of the expedition was engaging Hostile Zeta, [Nesting Coo] was struck grievously by Zeta’s fore-tusk, akin to the manticore-spine goring of this Kenku on Expedition 15A, though with apparently less permanent damage to that gnome’s capacity to exert physical feats of strength following timely magical healing by [Quiet Laughter], who invoked ‘Sneakicus’ (some form of dwarven deity of operational subterfuge) to fully restore our magical operative to combat readiness.]

Following Zeta’s fall, this Kenku and [Quiet Laughter] skin and tusk the beast quickly and efficiently, retrieving 30 GP worth of hide and ivory. That dwarf is effective in this vital non-combat role, although this Kenku’s use of its beak and talons to efficiently flense the carcass is apparently outside that dwarf’s expectations; [Quiet Laughter] is generous enough, despite that dwarf’s obvious discomfort, to allow this Kenku to consume both of Zeta’s eyeballs despite having earned half of that bounty with that dwarf’s labours. That dwarf’s gentle forebearance, again, proves highly conducive to camaraderie among the wider operational unit. [NB: This Kenku will endeavour to provide preserved eyeballs of equivalent or greater quality from its private stock upon return to Sila.]

Day 3 (Cont’d.)
Following the Zeta Engagement, the decision to depart the Plains is made according to ‘Democratic’ Doctrine (NB: This Kenku is unfortunately not versed in the policy manual of this Democrates (Rank and Division Unknown), but will upon first opportunity rectify this unfortunate lapse in preparation of military theory to better accord its further operational efforts with those of other Guild personnel.)

Return to Sila is effected successfully.

All personnel report to Central Headquarters for quarantine, debrief and (it must be assumed) examination for maintained operational efficiency, psychological stability and ideological purity.

It is noted that ‘Captain’ [Thunderous Smiting] is not afforded any special status or in any way deferred to by Guild personnel. No formal indications of a chain of command incorporating any recognized military rank or operational authority on that dragonborn’s part are in evidence. [Snapping Vellum] repeats that half-elf’s efforts to draw this Kenku’s attention to that half-elf’s Organizational Chart. This Kenku confirms for the record that it has taken a copy of this Chart for further study, on which [Snapping Vellum] (with gestures from [Quiet Laughter] and [Nesting Coo] indicating confirmation) has redrawn [Bugle Reveille] as equivalent in rank to all other mission personnel.

All mission personnel are cleared for standing down from Active Duty.



James_Elcombe Del_

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