The Journal of Crusher

Campaign: Dark Sun: Rising

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Crusher stood on the stern of the skimmer as the sun rose, watching Balic shrink in the distance. Balic was where he had been born and raised as a slave, and made his name as a gladiator, and he had always thought that one day he might return one day to live there as a free citizen after making his fortune working for Hargo Vole. Now he was leaving it all behind. Leaving behind his fame, to be remembered as a criminal and enemy of the city-state. Leaving behind old friends like Bazraag and Quan One-Eye and even loyal Pak'Cha. Crusher remembered Pak'Cha, his shell cracked and leaking ichor, leading the guards away to buy them time to infiltrate Ivory Dungeon. It would take more than that to kill the tough bug, but Crusher wondered if he'd ever see him, or any of the others, again.

And what was he leaving all of that behind for? A journey into the unknown on a skimmer he had bought passage on with the last of his wealth, accompianied by the same group of misfits who had got him into this trouble in the first place. And yet...

Tonight they had accomplished the impossible. Infiltrated and survived the horrors of the Ivory Dungeon, eluded capture by the First Legion, and slew a treacherous Praetor. Defied the will of Andropinis himself to bring Hargo alive through all of that. And now his companions talked of going to Tyr, where it was said the people had done the unthinkable and risen up to slay their own sorcerer-king. In times such as these, who was to say what could not be accomplished by a group of people with the talent and will to achieve it? For the first time since the long night had begun, Crusher began to feel a sense of hope.

But first they would have to escape from the Second Legions skimmers bearing down on them. When the warning was cried out Crusher made ready at the side of the skimmer, preparing to grab the first soldier who tried to board and fling him into the silt. The chase would not be easy for the pursuers, however, as one of their ships suddenly listed to the side and fell behind, and a gust of wind filled the sails of the fleeing skimmer.
Session: Session 33 - Sunday, Jun 09 2013 from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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The Fire Dancers
Crusher walked down the dusty streets of Samarah, heading to Quan's ranch on the outskirts of town. He wanted to check in to see how the retired gladiator and his son were doing. He was also looking to invest some of the coin he had earned recently. Gladiators with wealthier patrons were sometimes given enchanted items to improve their performance, such as bracers to increase their striking power or gloves that made it harder for their opponents to escape a grappling hold. Quan knew the trick of making them. Crusher had never been given any such item, but he had seen them in action in the arena, and well knew their effects. After barely surviving the ordeal in the ancient temple and battling the monstrosoties within, he was eager to seek any advantage in future combats he could gain.

The sounds of lively music drifted down the streets. Curious, Crusher followed the music and soon found a dancing troupe, accompianied by a small band, performing in the streets to earn some coin. Such sights were common in the cities of Athas, but something was drawing a larger crowd than usual to this troupe, and Crusher could hear gasps of awe coming from the audience. He easily pushed his way through the crowd to get a better view, and saw what had so impressed the onlookers. The dancers' bodies were aflame with tounges of bright fire. As he drew nearer, he could feel the heat coming from them, and realized that this was no illusion, though the dancers were unharmed as they continued their performance. Crusher watched on, mesmerized.

As he watched, he began to recognize some of their movements. They were similar to the moves that Pak'cha fought with, though adapted to entertainment rather than combat. Crusher opened his mind to the Way as Pak'cha had taught him, and sensed the psychic energy the dancers were channeling through their movements. The energy seemed to flow through a red gem that each dancer had sewn into their costumes, and from there ignite into flame. Crusher recognized this a ki focus, similar to the bazraag fang he used to channel psychic energy into his strikes.

Eventually the flames extinguished and the dance ended. One of the dancers, a young woman, approached Crusher with a sly grin on her face. "I saw you watching. Liked what you saw, I take it? How about a small donation?"

"Actually, I was thinking more about making a purchase." Crusher fingered the red gem sewn into her tunic.

The young woman tensed up briefly, then relaxed as she realized he wasn't talking about buying her as a slave. "Aww, you figured out our trick? These gems are our livelihood, I doubt you could afford what it would take to get one of us to part with one."

Crusher reached for his coin purse. Most would be wary of carrying so much coin openly, especially in a distracted crowd such as this one, but Crusher paid little heed to pick-pockets; few of them were brave enough to steal from him.

"I wouldn't be too sure about that," he said as a wide grin broke across his face. He felt sure he could duplicate the dancers' fire generating technique, and imagined what would happen if he did that while grappling with an enemy...
Session: Session 29: Bound for Balic - Saturday, May 11 2013 from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM
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Bad Day at Blackroc
Much less tired and wounded than most of his companions, and having no interest in the interrogation of the tiefling woman, Crusher volunteered to help the surviving guardsmen clear the rubble and corpses from the battle. He had never been big on manual labor, but today it seemed almost relaxing after the hectic fight.

They worked through the early evening, ignoring the muffled sounds coming from the silt skimmer's hold. The guardsmen seemed in awe of him, whispering about how he had attacked the giant Skull Wearer bare-handed. Crusher tried to break the tension with a joke. "By the time I got to him, his own weapon was broken, so it only seemed fair! Besides, I less fighting him and more hanging on for dear life, hoping to distract him to let my companions get by him." In truth, Crusher knew he had been fortunate that Pak'cha had shattered the giant's axe, and that the others had somehow broken the defiler's control. Otherwise, things could have gone much worse for him.

The others laughed nervously at this. Soon they got into the rythm of working together, they seemed a little more comfortable around him. Crusher listened to the guardsmen speculate about the purpose of the attack. He didn't understand it very well himself, and decided to ask Pak'cha later to see if the wise bug had any insight.

Crusher caught two of the soldiers muttering to each other where they thought he couldn't hear them. "Did you see that woman fall from the bridge? On fire, and she was down in the silt long enough that I was sure she was a goner, but when they pulled her out she was still alive! Ain't natural. And they travel with a devil-man and one of them man-eating bugs too. I know they saved us and all, but I'll be glad enough to see them sent on their way." They quickly shut up and at least had the grace to look embarassed when they caught Crusher glaring at them.

He hoped they hadn't noticed his involuntary shudder when they had mentioned Sanguine. He knew how much she hated enclosed spaces, and he could only imagine how much worse being diving in the silt had been for her. What was she going through, and what would it do to her self-control. Self-control that's the only thing keeping her from killing and devouring us all.

The sudden thought took Crusher aback. He realized that he had been less afraid charging Skull Wearer than he was now of Sanguine. He'd been keeping his distance from her, and had never allowed her to feed from him, even though he had seen his other companions suffer no lasting harm from it. And now he felt too afraid to seek her out and see how she was doing, even though he knew she could be suffering terribly. For the first time in his life, Crusher felt like a coward, and he didn't know what to do about it.
Session: Session 20!!! - Sunday, Jan 20 2013 from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Rollin' on the River
The trip down the estuary was not a pleasant one for Crusher. Faced with a choice between the cramped hold of the skimmer and the intense heat of the sun on the open deck, he stewed in boredom.

The attack by the ssurans provided some much appreciated excitement, but it was over all too quickly when the raiders fled in the face of the oncoming sand storm. Spending the next several hours huddling in the even-more-cramped hold, and the next day digging out the skimmer, made Crusher's earlier boredom seem like paradise in contrast.

When they arrived at Blackroc, the sight of the attack on the fort promised Crusher a chance to relieve his frustrations. He eyed the giant leader, festooned with the skulls of defeated enemies, as Pak'cha discussed tactics.

"Pak'cha, if you and Harbek can hold off the beast-men, I'll take on the big one." He pondered what holds and take-downs in his repertoire might have a chance of working against a foe of that size, and then glanced at his other companions. "I may need some back-up for this one."
Session: Chapter 6: Session 19 - Sunday, Jan 06 2013 from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Crusher and Pak'Cha met in the training ring after Solaris and Malla were finished. The thri-kreen eyed the human curiously. "So, you wish to learn the Way?"

Crusher shrugged. "I don't know about all that. I just want to learn to fight the way that you do. No weapons to break or be taken from you, just your own strength and skill pitted against your enemy." He thought back to how good it had felt going up against Granikkus with his bare hands.

Pak'Cha replied, "There is more to it than just your physical ability. Tell me, do you have any Talent at all?"

"Well, not much, but..." Crusher's face screwed up in effort as he began to concentrate on a nearby rock, and sweat broke along his brow. Before long the rock rose unsteadily a few feet into the air.

Pak'Cha made a strange chittering sound that Crusher recognized as thri-kreen laughter. Crusher felt a heat rise in his face, and he let the stone drop. Pak'Cha spoke gently, "You will never be a master of the Way. But that does not mean it is completely hopeless. There is a foundation there that we can begin to work on, however small. First we will need to find a focus for you, an object that you can use to channel your Talent and make it more potent. Like so." Pak'Cha held out a stone, and flames began to dance along his multiple limbs.

"Hmm, I might have something that could work." Crusher had recently invested some of his new-found wealth in old Bazraag's tavern in North Ledopolus. Bazraag had sent him back a package with a couple of things from his own gladiatorial days; he had heard that Crusher had come out of retirement for a match, and thought they might help him in future matches. One was an amulet that was supposed to increase a gladiator's endurance in the arena. The other was an old bazraag fang that didn't do anything special but Baz had used for years as a good-luck charm. Crusher pulled out the fang. "Will this do?"

"Yes, as long as you can form a mental connection to it it will do. Now let us begin..."
Session: Session 18 - Sunday, Dec 16 2012 from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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