The womanizer’s guide to Axiom is the result of a one on one texted based game between myself and Mark Bell. It takes place on the fantasy world of Axiom and follows a spoiled merchants son as he gets in over his head!
The source of the smoke was a hunting settlement. Many of the smaller islands only had one or two large port cities because the heavy jungles often made widespread settlement very difficult. The jungles were still a source of food and other natural resources so the hunters and gatherers of the islands would often set up small hunting and mining camps.This particular settlement was for hunting Crablers, large human sized hermit crab beasts that walk upright. Though they could be vicious in a fight they were a large source of sweet tasting meat.This camp was only six makeshift buildings, small things that most likely got blown down during heavy storms and rebuilt regularly.
The hunters greeted the group with smiles. There were only three of them on hand,it must have been their turn to stay behind and watch over the settlement while the others spent the day hunting, “Ahoy there!”
A middle aged bearded man stepped forward to greet the trio, he was all smiles but it was obvious he was ready for anything, “Welcome to our settlement do you seek shelter or trade?”
Titus matched him smile for smile. “Greetings, goodman, we seek what shelter may be found in these inhospitable woods! Thank goodness we found you, who knows what we may have had the misfortune to encounter.”
Judging the man again, he decided to moderate the flowery speech back a bit. “Please, show us to what rooms you may have. If there be hot food with it… well, it’ll be worth your time for certain.”
He knew dealing with peasants could be touchy. Sometimes the easiest way was to seem like you had nought but fluff between the ears. Then they felt that they wouldn’t have to try as hard to cheat you, which made it easier to catch.
In fairness, the same applied to merchants, and probably everyone else.
The man seemed to ease himself at Titus’s jovial nature, “Sure, sure we have a place to sleep and some food to share, nothing comes free you understand but we won’t gouge you for it.”
He turned back to the other two hunters who had readied themselves and gave them a signal that all is good. Before long there was food and rest, a welcome change for the group who had fought through the night one way or another.
One of the hunters was more trained in medicine and went about putting a better dressing on Asyi’s wound.
This left a tired and worn out Titus and Savë at an old wooden table with some half eaten cooked fish and some mild sea wine.
Titus tossed a silver on the table, not wanting to deal with the change. Taking a cautious sip of the wine, he leaned back in his chair and let his eyes close for a moment, simply enjoying being seated for a while. Feeling the tugs of sleep at the edges of his mind, he forced himself back up before he fell asleep at the table. “Ok, what’s the next step?”
She looked up, He could see the fight from earlier had left her, “we get a couple of hours then we head out hopefully before Dufrees and her pirates can catch up.”
She pulled out the amulet,”a lot of history is coming to a close you just got pulled in.”
He rolled the bottom edge of the cup along the table, letting the dregs slide back and forth. “I’d be lying if I said I knew what I was getting myself into.” Titus laughed a little sharply. “But when has that ever stopped me? I’m assuming there’s some treasure we’re all after, any idea if we can sneak off with it before the one eyed pirate finds out? And it’s on this island?”
Savë looked up confused for a moment, the night without sleep and the quickness in which they had all ended up together had made her forget Titus had no real idea what was going on, “have you heard of the immortal marauder Cogstania?”
Titus shook his head, he had heard passing information but would rather her enlighten him. She went into it,”it is mostly a story for children but they say long ago when Mazant still walked Axiom, a great pirate sailed the sea destroying and pillaging anything he laid eyes on. One of Mazant’s greatest enemies he never caught but Mazant thwarted and hunted him to an impasse. The two’s clashes were legendary but Cogstania was losing out on the loot due to it. He wanted to be rid of Mazant, so, unable to kill him, it is said he found a way to enter an ageless sleep in order to literally sleep till Mazant was dead and gone, so he could rule the sea on his own terms. Anyway the legend goes that the spell could never be reversed so he sleeps for hundred year periods in the caves of his great treasures waking to wreak havoc for weeks before returning to sleep having to return to sleep.”
Titus nodded slowly, the story not all that familiar. On the other hand, Ignacio Titus Augoston Faustinus Petronius the Second had never really been a fan of fairy tales, and hadn’t bothered relating them to his children. “And regardless of the likelihood of this mythical creature existing, let alone awakening, it’s the horde we’re after.”
“I’m after proof of the location.” She answered quickly, indignantly before relaxing,”but there is going to be a lot of treasure. This amulet proves it exists as well as serves as a key to the temple.”
Titus nodded. Her father, he supposed. “Where is the temple anyways? I can help you find it, but I need to know where we’re going.”
He was so tired he hadn’t tried flirting even once.
“Well that is the problem,” she began,”they rarely map these small islands with anything truly relevant because people tend to avoid the jungles and wilds. I’m hoping to get a hunting map from these guys that will give us a general idea, all I know is there will be a cove on the south side of this island that will house the tomb, all my research points to that.”
This troubled Titus, that was a long hike, ten miles or so through dangerous jungles to find a myth.
Not to mention the pirates. Titus nodded. “Any chance this Dufree doesn’t know where to look? She clearly knew about the locket, where’s she getting her info from?”
He tapped his chin, thoughtfully. “We’ll probably need some extra gear, too – if the tomb is anywhere near sea level, it may have submerged into a cave or something.”
Savë’s reaction to the question of Dufrees information troubled Titus, she averted eyes as if she had done something wrong, “she doesn’t know we’re the tomb is, but she knows the amulet is the key. If you want to negotiate a map and focus on finding our cove, I will get what gear I can together, these hunters won’t want to part with much.”
Titus put out his hand, covering Savë’s. “Wait a moment, please. Look, I know you don’t appreciate me butting into your business, but I’m part of your crew. We all succeed together, or we all fail together. Why don’t you tell me about Dufree, Savë? Is this about your father?”
The use of the father threw her off. She took a deep breath and sat back down,”Dufrees’s envolvment is not because of my father it is because of me.”
She continued, ” My father searched for Cogstania most of his late life, failing to find any tangible proof, he died attempting a petty robbery on the mainland, he was a drunk.”
She remembers who she is talking to and the soft vulnerability that had crept into her features vanished as quickly as it had come. Harder now, “when I was first starting out I could not find funding or support for the research I needed, I turned to getting things…With alternative methods. Dufrees is a privateer mercenary that contracts for large corporations and the affiliation government. She heard my tale and helped supply me with what I needed. I found out however, she was being backed by someone else to gain the treasure and the tomb. Government or corporation, the amount of wealth and power in the tomb is not for any one entity to control so I betrayed her and sent her in the wrong direction. Since then we have been competing for the tombs’ location and the amulet.”
Titus nodded. “She seems like the type to hold grudges. I’ve known a few… well, that’s not important. How far behind do you think she’ll stay? She managed to find the amulet at just about the same time as you.”
What she said filtered through his tired mind. “Who’s backing her, anyways?”
She shrugged, “I have no idea, or even if this is a personal quest. Some believe that if you can find Cogstania’s tomb you can take the power of immortality for yourself, that could be what she wants I don’t know her motivations for helping me in the beginning but I know now that she wants it.”
She considered the other questions, “I don’t know how far she’ll stay, it’s a best guess, so we can’t take too long here.”
“Hmm. She doesn’t seem the type to be taken in by that kind of story, and neither do you.” His eyes were starting to focus again. Damn, they really didn’t have the time right now.
Downing the rest of the wine, and almost immediately regretting it, he pushed his chair back and stood up. “Ok, let’s get moving. I’ll check on Asyi, you work up some supplies. No time to waste.”
“Bring out Scumnose” Dufree snarled to the pirates as she stood over the body of one of her men lying in the middle of the road collecting flies in the late morning sun.
After a few minutes and the pirates shouting out calls, Scumnose appeared from the back of the pack. Scumnose was a Vermin in only the strictest technical sense. The rat man was short even for his kind, his black hair was sickly discolored to brown and missing in great patches. His eyes were different colors one red and the other pale and empty white.
“Capt’n you ask’d for Scumnose…” His speech was broken and he only referred to himself in the third person. To say that Scumnose was not all there was an understatement, but he had been blessed with a nose, one like that of a beast able to track for great distances and through heavy woods and weather. This uncanny ability had kept him useful which had kept him alive.
“You want to make me happy, rat?” Dufree asked in the kindest tone she was capable of.
Scumnose smiled in a way that would unsettle anyone who laid eyes on it, “Yes..yes… cap’n anything.”
“Find me Savë.”
Kufi watched the small hunting settlement with a frown. The Hili stroked one of its horns and fidgeted with the blue skin on its chin impatiently. He was sick of waiting, sick of watching but this was his mission. This Corsair woman, and now some pretty boy con artist. His talents were above this, well above this. Abdula, the current self made king of the Izwe had sent him on this mission because he was one of his most trusted left hands. Kufi was a master assassin, his actions had helped Abdula take control of the once tribal lands. He had not failed before, he would not fail now.
It still did not please him. He knew also He hated the humidity of the islands and found himself longing for the dry heat of his home land. That would not stop him, nothing would, this mission would make it possible to finally reclaim the southlands from the affiliation. The dirty sailors and oily merchants had taken the southlands in the wake of Abdula’s cue, if Abdula could reclaim it, legitimacy to his reign might be bestowed. The people might accept him more willingly and maybe the pesky revolution would begin to lose traction.
So Kufi watched from the trees, watched and waited for the signal, for the time to strike.
The Last Tea Shop. A solo TTRPG playthrough. Written by Ash Alder and narrated by Zachariah Van Sluyters
Chapter 9 drops next week!!!