Abscond, the Lost Fleet


That was the name given to a fleet of refuges from a world long dead. The name of this world was already forgotten by history, deprecating simply into "Homeland".

Homeland was a luxurious world. It had dense forests, vast seas and a most pleasant clime. It was a world of elves and dwarves, halflings and orcs, goblins and humans. There was war, as with most worlds in the vast multitude of universes, and it was one of the big wars that sparked Abscond.

In the last war of Homeland, known as The Spark by the eldest scholars, the combined might of all the goodly folks were facing of against the armies of Nishrek, the Iron Fortress, the divine domain of Gruumsh One-Eye.

And they were losing.

As a last resource, elven and human wizards started to develop new magical weapons to fight the unending hordes of Nishrek. These weapons were devastating, a single spell able to raze mountains to dust and slay more than ten thousand orcs. But these weapons came with a price.

The land began to die as the battle proceeded and the weapons were used. Each usage of the spells drained from the land and the cosmology surrounding it. No one remembers for certain when the Sun itself started to turn purple, but everyone, even the Gruumsh himself, knew the devastating effects the Purple Sun had.

A truce emerged soon after the Rise of the Purple Sun, Gruumsh surrendering and returning to Nishrek, wanting to stay out of the fatal effects the Purple Sun had on any under it's brilliance, and so peace returned to Homeland.

The people fled into the Underdark, the huge system of caves bellow Homeland and, when the radiation of the Sun became so intense as to penetrate the outer layers of the Underdark, Abscond was born.

Under the same ceiling, the goodly folks and the monstrous races began building a massive fleet that would take them out of Homeland and away from the Purple Sun, into open space and, hopefully, into a new planet.

Abscond's been in space for almost a millennium now, and even the oldest elves were but mere children when the fleet took to the skies, and the truce that once held all the races together is starting to fade away into myth and legend. Trapped in iron containers, forced to live side by side with their natural enemies, conflicts started to erupt among the Slumships of Abscond, leading to a division of the races among the slumships, instead of the mixture of races there were in the departure from Homeland.

Still with no new Homeland in sight, the fleet drifts in space, looking for his final destination.

Chapter 0: The Meeting - Part 1: A strange pair

A thousand years after the escape, an unusual pair is approaching a bar in the Low Slums, the filthiest Slumship in Abscond. 

"Ha, we're back in the picturesque slums, like in the ol' days. I did miss them." the halfling says, walking down the busy, dirty road in the Low Slums. After a few twists and turns, the pair finds themselves in front of the Old West Bar.

"Seems we're still a bit early." says the halfling, looking at his pocket watch "Should we get in and grab a drink while we wait, Beef?" he looks over his companion, a book over his face, lost in reading "Beef?" he asked again.

"Oh? You said something Biff?" the huge minotaur says, lowering the book and putting the marker on page 23 of the literary adaptation of Slumship Millionaire. 

"Damn it Beef! I've told you already to stop reading and pay attention! We've got to keep our eyes open. I don't see the Spellguard inviting me for anything else than some vacations in a Jailship. Have you forgotten that's why I brought you with me?" Biff says, jumping and snatching the book from the minotaur's hand "You're not going to look very scary if you're reading a romance for housewives, now will you?" he takes a look over the book "Hum, this one actually as a really funny ending..."

"Biff, bro..." the minotaur says calmly, cracking his neck as he did, turning slowly towards the halfling "I was reading that." he says, not much as a matter of fact, but more like an order.

"Hehe, you just had a, hum, spot here in the cover." the halfling says quickly, realizing he had just risked his life by touching the minotaur's book "There, all clean now!" he says, returning the book to Beef with an innocent, scared smile on his face "It is a really good book actually."

They enter the bar, reaching for a table at the back while Biff asks the bartender "Hey, 'tender! Will you bring two ales over to this table, hey?" then to his companion "This one's are on me little bro."

"Thanks brother." the minotaur says, reaching for his ale as soon as the bartender brings it over, downing it in one large gulp. Really good would have to have my marker back as well... "I'm not saying anything barbaric when I say that, like me, you also think that you're not the only one getting the letter, right?"

"You can bet your book on that, little brother." Biff says, sipping on his mug "Judging by the faces around this dump, we're not alone in this. I've lived a long time in the slums and I know how to spot faces that simply don't match. And this, my dear bovine friend," he says waving to the several people at the bar "is not your typical crowd of a typical night."

As the time passes, Biff keeps sipping his ale, while Beef is already in his fourth mug "You can feel it in the air, little bro." the halfling says "Something is going to happen tonight."

Chapter 0: The Meeting - Part 2: The Firesoul Genasi

"A letter from the Spellguard, hey?" the genasi says, holding the piece of paper in her hand, still in her sleeping attire. "I've left the force more than 3 years ago. What do they want from me now?"

She dropped the letter on the table, moving to her room to get dressed. She donned her leather armor and moved towards the stand were Grazier was set. This sword had been a gift from her parents when she left her home. It all seemed distant now, the longsword being the only connection between her and her parents. Reverently, she strapped the scabbard on her belt and slid the longsword in it. Then she looked at the clock.

"Holy shit! I'm late!" she said, vaulting over her bed and running for the door, grabbing an apple and the letter as she went, tucking the letter in her pocket. She closed the door on her apartment and, without stopping, launched the apple up in the air and unsheathed her sword. She vaulted over the ledge of the second floor parapet where her apartment was, going into a somersault. As she spun, her blade cut through the air and through the apple. She landed nimbly, going into a forward roll, sheathed her sword and, extending her arms to the side, she caught a piece of apple in each hand. She started to sprint along the streets, gnawing on the apple as she did. When she was finished with the apple, she took another look at the letter "The meeting is going to take place in the Old West Bar. They do keep an eye on their former agents, it seems."

She almost missed the bar, so focused she was on trying to discern what the Spellguard wanted from her, but she quickly backtracked and entered without ceremony.

Her eyes instantly went to the unusual duo in a corner table, the odd sight of a burly minotaur reading a book while an halfling next to him flipped a coin in his hands. She moved along towards the barkeep. "Hey Bill, sorry I'm late, yet again." she said apologetically.

"No biggie, Ephemera" the barkeep, Bill, said to the genasi. "The night's still calm."

"Hey Bill, would you take a look at this letter?" Ephemera asked, handing the barkeep the letter, her eyes still fixed on the strange duo.

"The Spellguard, hey?" Bill finally said, after examining the letter "And here at the bar, of all places." he handed the letter back to the genasi "You don't worry too much about your bouncer duty and focus more on this Spellguard business."

"Will do, Bill." the genasi said, already moving forward, nearer to the table were the duo was, intent on keeping an eye on them. Surely they would be here for the same business.

"Be careful Ephemera." the barkeep called after her, moving to take another mug of ale to the burly minotaur, already on his sixth drink.

Chapter 0: The Meeting - Part 3: The calm before the storm

“A letter from the Spellguard?” the shardmind asks himself “Did they found out I’ve killed one of them? I thought I had sorted that out…” He walks across his apartment, while deep in thought, milling over the words on the letter. Finally he says “I should head over there, to see what’s wrong. I don’t want to get in trouble with them. Again.”

Being a mound of stone, the shardmind quickly readies himself to go. He doesn’t lose time with the frivolities of life, like eating, washing or even dressing. He wears only a tattered robe, so he can cover what would seem appropriate for the society in general, so he can easily fit in. 

He arrived a short time later at the bar, his presence and odd aspect always commanding the looks of everyone around him. It doesn’t bother him, though. Living among the flesh bags for more than 3 decades has hardened the already rock hard psion. 

Shortly after him, a human walks in. Wearing a brown robe, with the hood pulled over his head, he looks flustered. He promptly sits in the same table as Biff and Beef “Hey! So how’s it going guys?” he asks the brothers “Did someone steal all the ale? I know a bovine that’s gonna be mad at that!”
Trading confused looks with his brother, the minotaur lets out a low growl while saying “The ‘bovine’ here thinks you’re at the wrong table, human.”

“Calm down Beef” the halfling says, getting up and near the human “You’re certainly in the wrong table buddy. What makes you think this is your place?” he says, now to the human, while putting a hand on his shoulder and the other starting to make her way towards the human’s pocket. He quickly returns to his seat “Maybe we’ve got ahead of ourselves. And maybe, just maybe, you can explain us the meaning of this” he slams a letter he had just stolen from the human’s pocket in the table “Mr. Wuobi Wan.”

“I-I’m sorry for my rudeness, friends” Wuobi stutters, clearly intimidated by the burly minotaur and the sudden appearance of his own Spellguard letter “As I was arriving here, I saved a young elf child that was being mugged. But when I thought I had the scoundrel under control, more of his friends appeared, so I had to flee. Since I had business here in the bar, and since you guys look tough, I thought they wouldn’t mess with me.”

“It pains me thoroughly to know that there are those who take what does not belong to them.” Biff says, shaking his head in disapproval. “Still, you’ve done well to come to us. Surely the bullies won’t try to mess with the bull here. No offense Beef.”

“None taken bro.” the minotaur says dismissively while reading his book.

As the conversation progresses towards the letter from the Spellguard, another figure enters the bar. A tall, shapely deva walks in, gracefully, almost if floating. She has a mystical aura about her, one that makes most men turn around and look at her. That is, until she stumbles on a loose plank of wood in the floor and falls face first to the ground. As the laugh bursts, it quickly subdues as a group of bad looking thugs enter the bar. 

A human and a half-orc lead them, followed closely by a goblin and three kenkus. The goblin stays close to the door, keeping an eye on the barkeep, as the kenkus spread out through the bar, one pushing the deva aside, knocking her again to the ground, and the human and half-orc approach Wuobi Wan, one on each side, putting a hand on his shoulder and shaking him.

“You, asshole, you got a problem with us?” the human says to Wuobi, threateningly.

Chapter 0: The Meeting - Part 4: Brawling

Calmly, Beef puts his marker back into the book, lowering it to the table “And you, idiots, do you mind speaking a bit lower? There are those around here that are trying to read in peace” the minotaur says, while contracting his right hand, snapping his fingers. 

The half-orc smiles, showing his rotten fangs, while drawing a dagger from his belt. “This is what I think of your book!” he proclaims stabbing the book and leaving the dagger there. 

Biff, who was relaxed and sipping his drink, abruptly stops, his expression changing from mild amusement to sheer panic. “Oh boy…” he mumbles, his hand going slowly to his shuriken pouch.

Beef, trembling, enters in a stage of denial, his hands curling in the air above the book “My… book… you… this… stab… book…” he mumbles over and over, without making much sense. The tremble heightens as he clenches his fists. With a roar, he flips the table over, the table flying over the counter of the bar, smashing against a wall full of bottles. He clenches the half-orc’s throat, lifting him and, face to face with the half-orc, he bellows “You’re mine!” spit flying against the half-orc’s face. He promptly throws the half-orc back, launching himself forward, burying the half-orc in a sea of punches and kicks.

Biff launches a shuriken at one of the kenkus, the tiny metal start burying deep into the bird-like creature’s skull and promptly throws his drink at the human, but the drink fails its target, landing instead on the face of the genasi. The genasi, soaking with ale, looks at the halfling with rage “You better improve your aim, little halfling, or you’re gonna take a trip into outer space” she says, drawing her sword and skewering a kenku in the same fluid motion, before adding “Without a spaceship!”

Wuobi Wan draws a small rod and with but a thought, he conjures a blade of pure mental energy. He turns to face the human, but, instead of a human, he’s faced with a huge rat with a vague humanoid form. The wererat launches himself at Wuobi, only to be cut down by the expert swordsman.

Seeing things go badly for his companions, the goblin at the door raises a crossbow, aiming at the genasi and firing. The bolt seems to get stuck in mid-air, as tiny starts appear in front of him. “Centaurus!” the deva says, waving her own rod in the air, while an aura with the form of a centaur starts to envelop the conjured stars “Strike that goblin down!” she bellows, and the centaur, obeying his master’s command, starts to slash at the goblin with his spectral sword.

“Why does it always escalate into violence?” the shardmind wonders aloud while looking intently at one of the kenkus, starting to intrude his mind. The kenku screams in horror at the mental intrusion, running out the door, deserting his comrades. 

Within seconds, the fight wanes down, except for the two burly characters on the back of the bar, trading punches. Ephemera starts to move towards the two combatants, but she’s stopped by Biff. “You better think twice before meddling in that fight. It doesn’t seem that my friend needs help and he can get a bit mad if someone spoils his fun.”

The half-orc is a nimble opponent, dodging under the blows of the burly minotaur and throwing some punches back. Beef finally lands a blow, but it’s an akward one without much balance. The half-orc smiles “Your punches are losing power, cow!” he says, while spinning with the punch and delivering a back-hand slap near the minotaur’s ear, stunning him for a bit. 

Beef stumbles back with the blow, his head spinning “What the… this defies all the logic!” he mumbles, trying to steady himself. The half-orc, expecting an easy prey, comes forward with a jump, his arm pulled back. He stops in mid-air, as if slamming into a wall, Beef’s fist buried deep into his face. He falls to the ground, his face a puddle of blood. 

Beef crouches besides his fallen opponent, grabs the half-orc’s vest and, pulling him closer he growls “You owe me a new book!” before punching him a final time, leaving the brute unconscious on the floor.

Clap clap clap clap.

The sound of claps echoes through the now silent bar, as everyone’s heads turn to see a huge goliath leaning against a door. He wears a Spellguard uniform, with his vest open in the front showing his massive muscles. A huge axe is strapped to his back, upside down, in a position of easy reach. “Well done, well done.” He proclaims, while moving towards a table, inviting the six warriors to join him.