Campaign of the Month: December 2020

House Jasper

The Disillusionment of Jardon "The Absent" Pyke

When Ser Darron and I return to the pool, I share that we found an additional floor that we think everyone should come explore. At my suggestion, House Jasper creates a handrail with one of the ropes to get everyone across the slippery ledge, and I'm grateful that my traveling companions finally seem to be listening to me. Everyone crosses safely, and we head upstairs.

Together, we enter back into the cavernous room I had previously found alone. With the lantern, we see there are three skeletons rotting on the ground and "Hear me roar!" (the words of house Lannister) is scrawled on the far wall in paint (or blood) from centuries ago. Dolins finds a silver key in one of the skeleton's hands, but we find nothing else of use in the room.

Next we enter into a cathdral-like room with pews and rotting scrolls, and pass into a hallway. Curiously, a doorway is blocked by a heavy desk, and when Darron opens the door, all hell breaks loose. We're stuck in a tight hallway, and Darron being up front gets the brunt of the attack from these rotting humans. Darron, Denys and Dolins are able to tear down monster after monster, but I can't squeeze past to be of support. I brace for a counter attack, grateful for my position in line. Once all the monsters are slayed, I look around to see Teddy and Jardon are moseying around the corner, seemingly unconcerned with the safety of their house members. In the meantime, Dolins has taken a nasty bite, but is shouldering the pain with a brave face.

With another dark and quiet hallway ahead of us, I jostle Jardon "The Absent" to the front of our pack, making sure he doesn't get out of another fight. Jardon shoulders his way into a room filled to the brim with those horrible snakes. I jump onto a desk, and stab the head of the snake nearest me, but it wriggles away and reels up, spitting flame. The sleeve of my cloak catches fire and I drop down to my knees to extinguish it. When I see the fire has turned to soot I successfully impale the head of this wretched beast and turn to see the room ablaze behind me.

I leap through the air, blade overhead, to land in a lunge and whack the head off the snake rattling Dolins and Teddy. To my rear, Ser Darron is struggling to put out his own fire, so I pull out my flask and douse him. The three are looking battered and exhausted, though I must say, I've never felt stronger.

We're going deep

Jardon the Absent and Ser Denys finally make their way to us and the dragon tower, and we agree to spend the following days healing our injuries and wounds before returning back inside. After a few weeks of gathering our strength, we strategize about how we will explore the structure.

When we're ready, we sneak back into the hallways we had previously entered. Moving very slowly and very quietly, we come across to the threshold we had turned around at last time, but move forward together. In a ballroom, we peer through a large crack in the wall to see a room full of skeletons, and massive slithering serpents. Jardon prepares to shoot a single arrow into the room, when I suggest that since we are in a stone building we attempt to set the room, and therefore the serpents, ablaze to exterminate them. To my shock and frustration, House Jasper thinks this is an absurd idea, and would prefer to shoot each monster one by one. I am literally dumbfounded. Jardon shoots one, it slithers out of sight, and then silence. While they stand around helplessly, I check out the other door, and through a tiny hallway, enter into another grand room with rubble and broken columns littering the once beautiful space.

Each member of House Jasper makes it over the rubble, but not before Lordling Teddy manages to make a big ruckus and knock down some more debris. I can't believe I might die for this kid and his childish pursuits. Beyond, one room opens to a steaming pool surrounded by a very narrow and slippery ledge. The other room is filled with more debris. Ser Darron manages to find a pristine valyrian steel sword with an ornate lion's head. I find…a few pennies.

I see no other option but than to shimmy across the wet ledges past the pool to explore the doors on the other side. I do so with a rope tied around my waist should I fall in, and Darron does the same following me with a light source, but leaves his weapons. Once across I hand him my dagger. The first door we open stinks of serpent feces, and we hear a rustling similar to that of the room with the crack. We rush out and close the door behind us!

The next door opens to a long narrow hallway. Darron and I tie our ropes to the door handle to aid with a safe return, and inch down into the black. The hallway curves around to a stairway, which we climb. At the top, Darron pokes me in the shoulder. "I have a bad feeling about this," he says with dread. I can't help it-I push forward alone. With no light source, I feel my way around the winding hall, stopping to listen after almost every step. I pass a couple closed doors, until I come to an open door. I take one step forward, and just from that one step can hear that I've entered a much larger cavernous room. Not knowing what could be mere feet away from me, I scurry back to Darron with eyes the size of saucers and a racing heart, who was convinced I had been gobbled up. "Not yet!," I say, "but we need to get the others now."

Old Targaryen had a dragon

After spending the night atop a hill, we head towards a large statue of a dragon. On top of the platform of the dragon statue, we come across a formidable locked steel door. Each of us take a turn trying to pick the lock, and Ser Darron, in an obscene display of masculinity, removes his jerkin and attempts to axe the hinges off. In our hopefulness we cheer him on, but the axe bounces off, and he slinks away in embarrassment. My comrades appear defeated, ready to turn around, but I press them to keep trying. There's something about this statue that feels important.

We work together to break through the lock, and open the door to find…black. Nothing but pitch black. It's eerily quiet, and we put our weapons and armor on with a sense of solemnity. As we travel through the halls, depending on a lantern for our sight, we creep quietly and cautiously, stopping to listen at every corner and door. When we pass into what seems to have been a grand great hall, each of us stops in our tracks as our eyes lay upon burn marks coming from the opposing corner. A strange rustling is heard from deeper within, and the hair on the back of my very tired and dirty neck stand up. Through whispers, we agree that before we explore further, we should unite with Jardon and Denys, and enter with the full strength of our crew.

Further exploration outside the statue leads to nothing but an injured head from falling debris, and we call it a night.I fear what may lie ahead for us, and how many of our party will end with fates similar to that of Titos.

Dropping Like Flies

We arrive at a safe but rocky hill, and bury beloved Tito while the bard sings a tune in his honor. Before filling in his grave, we empty his pockets (Darron makes an excellent point-Tito won't be needing them in the afterlife!). We make camp for the night, and I try to ignore the pain from my dislocated shoulder, knowing this wound will be a significant hindrance to our continued journey. 

The next morning, at the edge of this field of gravel, we see a massive mausoleum. Darron and Dolins want to explore, and I argue that Teddy and I should stand watch as we are both wounded. We do not need anymore opportunities for trouble at this point. It isn't long until the watchmen are getting puppydog eyes from Darron and Dolins seeking assistance opening the large stone cover, and we give in, though ultimately we're grateful for the pushing as we found 4 days of preserved rations.

Pressing into the city, we navigate around the lava through rough terrain, and Ser Denys' horse does not fare well. It steps into a crag, and an unnatural scream escapes the animal. I don't hesitate-I leap off my rounsey and slit the horses neck, putting it out of its misery, and minimizing the chances its cries will attract attention to our group. When I turn back to hop in my saddle and pick up my and Tito's horses' reins, I can't tell if the other faces in my party depict horror or fear.


House Jasper meets Death
Is this the doom they spoke of?

The next morning, upon on travels further into the city, an acrid smell overwhelms the environment, and Ser Denys warns us to turn around and gallop the other way. It is not long after his expression of concern than we see that the earth has cracked open, and lava approaches quickly! My sturdy rounsey gets me out of trouble without a hitch, but Jardon does not come away without some burns. 

Speaking of Jardon, back outside the city, we pass the end of a large pipe which appears to lead down to an opening in the earth. Jardon and Ser Denys decide to travel down into the pipe system, and both are gone for a long time. Hours later, Denys returns excitedly and shares that they were led into the middle of the city. Teddy and I shake our heads-our horses and supplies can't travel through the narrow underground waterways, so we'll meet them to the west at their new rendezvous. 

After a full night's rest, Tito, Teddy, Dolins, Darron and I head directly west towards Denys and Jardon. We don't make it very far when we come across an unusual looking covered man on some stone steps. Darron shouts out to him; "Let us not disturb the man, and carry on our way," I say in hushed tones. He ignores my request, and he and Dolins shout out to the man again asking if he needs help. The man, or creature, jumps up in an unnatural manner, and multiple other creatures like him arise from seemingly out of nowhere.

"Stay together, and protect your lord!" I scream as I draw my stiletto and dagger. They descend upon us, and chaos ensues, bloodcurdling screeches erupting and blood spraying around us. I lay into one of the monsters from my mount, but it and another grab at me, one holding me in its grasp, and I feel a terrible pain in my shoulder, as if a bone is being pulled out from its socket altogether. Darron rushes over to me as I pierce the creature holding on to me, and as the other turns to run, I slash its head off as well. My sights are then set on Lord Theodore, and I rush to him to slay the creature that had been attacking him. It isn't long before these beasts scatter away. When House Jasper is alone again, we see that poor Tito has been slain atop his horse. With no time to grieve before another potential attack, Darron and I grab Tito's horse's reins, and rush, stunned, to what we can only hope is safer ground.

Attack from Above

Following the landslide, we have to navigate around it, but continue to aim due west towards the city. We find a dilapidated watch tower, and in exploring it I pick up some old splint armor that I'm grateful to have for when we enter into the city.

On day four, we stumble across eerily silent barracks, which Teddy picks the lock for and we enter to find dozens of skeletal remains. In rummaging around, I find a quarter staff made of a rare wood, and strap my new weapon to my back. 

In front of us lie a steep slope leading to the city, and we decide to camp before entering the city. The next morning, I don my new splint armor, and make sure my weapons are quickly accessible before heading into the city limits. 

The moments we step into the city, 10 winged lizards take flight and head towards our group. Our mission leader, Ser Darron, orders a retreat, and I escort Lord Theodore to a safe spot, but when we turn around, no one else has followed orders, and they're all covered in blood! I spin my rounsey to return to the fight, and obliterate one of the wiverns in a single swipe of my stiletto. Amongst the chaos of the fight, I bag another kill, and see the final two creatures retreat. Following the violence, we carry on due west.

The Descent

On the road, Ser Darron gives a rousing speech, to which Jardon promptly responds to by vomiting. Out of respect for the old Knight, I raise my stiletto and shout "For Snownook!!". It is not a few steps later that a massive geyser erupts, as if in celebration of our courageous voyage.

After a few miles, we come across a woman on a hill, who is armed, but Jardon approaches without hesitation. While I continue to search the horizon for the woman's friends [that I am certain are waiting for us just over the crest], Darron trots over as well. The woman, who identifies herself as Laena, speaks only Valyrian, but confirms that we are, in fact, in Valyria. When the rest of the group eventually catches up, Laena emphasizes repeatedly that to the west is only danger. Through Tito's translation, we understand that she suggests we stick close to the water. We ask if she would be our guide, but she emphatically declines. Despite her warnings, our party heads due west. After a few hours of further travel, and Dolins finding a lonely shield in some rocks, we make camp and sleep through the night with no disturbances.

The next morning, a few miles from camp, House Jasper comes across a small building that Jardon, Darron and Dolins bully their way into. While the rest of our party waits for them to explore the structure, I trot around the perimeter, finding nothing unusual, and return to the front, where Darron is suggesting we come along to follow an underground series of tunnels within the house. We descend into the earth, one level at a time, until we come to a rock pile that only Teddy, Darron and I can squeeze through. I lob a rock down the next staircase, and amidst the echoes of the rock bouncing off the cavern also hear a soft scuffling below. The moment we start down the stairs they being shuddering, and we scramble to get off before they collapse. 

Darron, desperate to continue exploring, pleads for a partner to continue descending with. Knowing Teddy will be no match for a long climb back up Darron's rope, I agree to pursue the gold and glory Darron has in his eyes. I allow my curiosity and imagination to get the best of me, and climb down after him.

We come to a ladder down to yet another level, and I toss a few more rocks below. Sounds of scurrying erupt below, and I can make out a furry figure below. "Teddy!" I shout above, "Retrieve a bow and arrows from the party above and throw them down to us!" Our companions follow our instructions, and on his first shot, Darron nails the furry creature which screams and burrows furiously into a hole. "I'll nock another arrow and aim at the animal. You go down below and check out what's on that wall." My disbelief at such an absurd suggestion initially overwhelms me, but after a moment's consideration, I wonder if whatever I retrieve will finally win me the respect I deserve from my traveling partners, and convince them I am able to calculate risk in an effective and thoughtful manner. They need to know that my shutting down their ridiculous ideas is not out of fear, but earned wisdom, and that I can be brave when the right moment calls for it. So, putting my life in the knight's hands, I jump alone into the dark off the ladder, snatch what appears to be a map of Valyria off the wall, and sprint back up before the animal can even leave it's hole. Back on Darron's level, he offers a hearty congratulations and a bone-shattering celebratory hand gesture, and we see that the map will offer a more direct and clear route in and out of the city through the mountains. Despite Darron's enthusiasm, no one above seems particularly impressed or grateful that I, a former handmaid (a former street rat for that matter!), have successfully retrieved a critical tool for their mission.  Regardless, I'm happy to have the tool myself, if only for the wish that it might make our journey shorter and safer.

That hope does not last very long, as just a few miles beyond the house of tunnels, we narrowly escape a landslide. This is going to be quite the road.

Mistress of Whispers...or chopped liver?

The scouting group returns to the Rambis with a battered Thomas and horrifying winged lizard in tow. "NO. No, no, no. Absolutely not. No," I yell to the gang plank. Darron, still tossing bits of food to the creature is shockingly dumbfounded at my suggestion that he not bring this monster on board. Even when it comes out that it was this species which inflicted the devastating wounds on Thomas, Darron digs his heels in, suggesting it could perhaps be a valuable dragon (despite there not being any burns in sight, nor even an ounce of fire breathing). I take in a deep breath, in an attempt to quell my rage, and barely hold in calling  Ser Darron a royal imbecile. Tito speaks up at last, confirming the creature is a wivern, a Essosi pest, and would be a danger with no value. It is only then that the crew sees with any sense. Do they listen to Lord Ronnel's trusted advisor? No, of course not. They trust a sell sword who barely speaks the common tongue. I see the type of respect I can expect here.

When House Jasper is safely back on board, it becomes clear that poor sweet Thomas is quite ill from his wivern wounds. With Tito still recovering, and our captain Jardon below deck suffering from ugly food poisoning, we agree that for now it would be best to remain anchored and heal.

While Darron is healing Thomas' wounds, and I am tending to the sweet boy's comfort, I connect with Darron about the events of the day before, and our dispute over the wivern. He admits he seeks gold and glory, and hoped the wivern was his key. The poor knight was so desperate he put his logic aside to dream of getting closer to his ambitions. I commiserate about the roadblocks of the path to wealth, and he assures me he bears no hard feelings towards me following our disagreement. I admire his goals, but wonder what (or who?) else he would put aside to get to them. We part on good terms, and look to a shiny horizon together.

After a few more days at sea, we come across a magnificent road, seeming to stop right at the sea. It is unlike anything we've seen on our journey, and clear to the crew that we're closer to our destination. It is agreed upon that Thomas, following his demonstration of what a liability he can be, shall stay aboard the Rambis, and signal to us should trouble arise. I make an effort to keep Teddy on board as well, but no one seems to be having it. Darron thinks the Lordling should be present in case we need him to negotiate with the Valyrians. I consider that the Valyrians are probably all dead, and Teddy is a terrible negotiator, but decide not to push my luck with the knight, as I may wear out his patience with my disagreements.

I do, however, speak up and suggest we devise a strategy for our mission, but that, too, falls on deaf ears. How have I led these men astray to deserve such distrust and disregard?! Before hitting land, we take stock of our food and see that we've gone through 33 of the 120 days of goods we have in our stores. We sharpen our blades, pack a few weeks worth of supplies, and set out on the road, Jardon and Dolins leading the way, Teddy and I following close behind, and Tito, Denys and Darron heading up the rear. 

I'm on a boat
Take a good hard look at the motherfucking boat

After a quiet morning in my cabin, I am startled by the sound of laughter on deck. I join Ser Denys and Tito there, and Ser Denys launches into a dramatic tale about how he became a knight. He reported that he began as the younger of two smith apprentices, and the older was more talented but cruel. One day, Ser Denys responded to his cruelty with violence, and when the house Master at Arms found him beating the living hell out of his fellow apprentice, he invited Denys to train as a knight. Before his training began, as punishment for his temper, he was branded with the tip of his broad sword. Tito showed off a scar on his leg, and snickered his way through a story about jumping out of a window after getting caught with his pants literally around his ankles. I am reduced into a fit of giggles myself from his story of such a chaotic affair, and after some prodding, I reluctantly share a scar of my own, which I have spent much time and effort covering up. Ser Denys' eyes grow wide and Tito looks on with increasing respect as I share the tale of Olivia nearly decapitating me. "She was never going to stop pursuing me, and I can't always count on the axe missing my neck, so I was glad to end things with Olivia in Gulltown," I explained to them solemnly.

Ser Denys suggests we return to Gulltown to make sure Olivia is gone for good. I'm very grateful to hear his empathy rather than disgust at my hideous scar, and Tito launches into another tale about the time a brother worker nearly bit off his tongue. We roar with laughter on the deck of the Rambis, and swap stories of love lost and the pain of of our mistakes. I notice a sense of closeness with these new members of House Jasper, and am grateful for this feeling I haven't experienced in some time. It isn't too long before a battered crew returns with a nearly dead Thomas and a horrifying winged creature attempting to climb aboard the ship.

The Rambis Carries On
Does any one know where the love of God goes When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The scouting crew returns without dragon eggs, but with a very injured Tito. I make a feeble attempt at suggesting the lizard lion they encountered is a bad omen for our journey, but my concerns are waved off by the crew, and they prepare to search for dragon eggs elsewhere as we are clearly not in Valyria. Before sunset, we begin traveling south. 

I wake to the sound of rocks scraping on the hull of our ship. I arrive on the deck to arrogant Teddy boasting about his sailing skills, and they rejoice in the opportunity to explore the shore after clumsily passing around the pair of far eyes. My mates appear to be glass-half-full kind of people. I decide to stay on board with Tito to keep an eye out on the horizon, but it is not long until they come back with an injured Denys. It seems that we are dropping like flies!

On our third trip ashore, I insist that, in consideration of the future of House Jasper, Lord and heir Theodore stay on board of the Rambis while the others scout out the seemingly deserted city in front of us. With what appears to be a hint of relief in his voice, Teddy agrees and thanks me for my wisdom. I only hope we have a crew to sail the lording and me back to Westeros when all of this is over.