This is all so exciting. So much to see and learn, the Ringmaster believes he has beaten me by keeping the one secret I asked him for, but he seems blissfully unaware of the thousands of secrets I have been witness to in my time here. So long as I avoid his ire, I can keep observing, keep learning. So many secrets that my father was ignorant about, my brothers dumb as stones compared to the things I’ve seen in my two years here. I have surpassed them and earned The Quiet Ones favor… Well, once I get back to Golarion, or at least find a way out of this hellish bondage.
On the ringmaster himself, I have nothing. Some bored minor god with unlimited power within his realm, perhaps? A greater planeswalking daemon, perhaps. It doesn’t matter. I’ve grown bored with him. Any information I could possibly squeeze out of him I already have. I don’t have the power or the will to stand up to him or to extract what I need from him.
My only regret is the fact that three more souls have been drawn into my… personal quest. Three unfortunate souls. Some half dead outsider, I thought he was terminal when I first met him, turns out he just naturally looks like a corpse. I will continue to observe for now. The giant, Nashota. He takes the time and tries to forge bonds of friendship with the others, myself included. I admit, he wears me down and I’ve begun thinking of him as such. Then there’s the girl. So annoyingly cheerful, and once again, I find myself growing fond of the bunch despite their… Weaknesses. Their good hearts. At least I know that the hard decisions will be much easier with my hand to guide them. More flexible morality, you see.
One day, maybe, I’ll be able to help them out and away from the circus, or be dragged along with them if they make a move. The grey jesters are a concern, of course. I’m far too attached to my personality to have it stripped away, and I don’t know what would happen if the demon of guilt hounded me if I had been too slow to spare one of them from the jester’s kiss, as I’ve come to call it. Morning… Or whatever passes for morning in this lightless hell is soon upon us. And as I wander the empty grounds, being stalked from the shadows by the carnival’s less humane denizens, watched as I’ve watched them all, I can’t help but smile and embrace the new day. Because there’s always something new around the corner here, and not all of it meant for my eyes, making it that much sweeter.
The Chairman motions for Grayson to take a seat on the robotics table, a few sheets of steel stitched together with a thin layer of foam to protect the steel from the usually dense and metallic users of the contraption. The android complies as the Chairman inspects his tools, “Good morning. How are you Grayson?”
“Well, Doctor.” The android says, his voice coming out in flat tones.
“Mind if I record this? Don’t want to forget anything if I have to pop your hood to fix something serious.”
The android nods and shrugs his coat off before lying back.
The good doctor rolls his sleeves up and puts on a pair of gloves, “Alright, subject is Grayson, a MK 376, a more primitive version of my own EM 11.” He unhooks Grayson’s faceplate to reveal half a human face, mouth and nose, covered in a black synthetic skin, above the plastic cutaway was a case for a human brain, and optic nerves in an aluminium and plastic chassis, “Construction of the head reveals a semi organic construct for the mouth, chin, cheeks, and nose. Thirty-two teeth, canines have been replaced for two more incisors. Tongue, and lining for the cheeks are completely organic, as are the gums, teeth though are dental implants made from Ivory, if I had to guess.”
He unscrews one of Grayson’s eyes, “After market part for the eyes. It appears someone went through the trouble of designing an adapter for a prosthetic designed for organics. I don’t see a serial number, meaning mister Grayson is custom through and through. I’ll have to order more parts online at some point in case he suffers a major head and or ocular injury.” He sets the eye aside, “Standard connections, with… Ah, three more wires leading from the case to the eye, additional support for the adapter, it seems. Ears are standard microphones, again, after market. Someone put a lot of love into you, Mister Grayson.”
The Chairman places the eye on a scanning table to rebuild the adapter, “Possible integration of adapter and prosthetic as a possible upgrade for Mister Dupre. Easier to access more important life support systems and additional room for more optional upgrades, as Mister Dupre sees fit. The case is the standard cyborg case, fully compatible with most platforms. Apart from the eyes, there seems to be no modifications made to the system.”
The chairman moves to Grayson’s throat, gently unscrewing the plates protecting the vital area, “Synthetic voicebox, I think my grandpa had the same one after taking that Chelish mortar shell. There’s a receptor for a fob that lets the owner change his voice. Or I think it does, anyway. Again, more adaptors. If I were to guess, he started off by replacing his body parts one at a time until he was an android.” The chairman clears his throat, “Ugh, it’s weird looking at him, he’s built exactly like a human, but all the parts are fake.”
He pries the chestplate open, “Lungs are synthetic rubber, three of them, specifically. Aqualung, probably used to store extra oxygen for the brain when in a vacuum too. Heart appears to be in some sort of steel casing. I’m going to crack it open… Well, not crack it. Just open it gently in case his system still relies on an organic heart to pump blood.”
The sound of a drill consumes all other noises for a few moments before there is total silence, save for a constant ticking sound, “What the hell…”
There’s the sound of parts being moved as the Chairman reaches for the recorder before all goes silent.
Found in hidden safe beneath the floorboards of one Hans Harnack during investigation. Dismissed as an article written for the Daily Wizard (Intellectual publication for erudite readers), it was not counted as evidence.
Status: Under Foundation possession. Pending study in preparation for destruction.
What follows is shocking insight into the Foundation’s existence, proof of a possible leak in security, and fodder for Conspiracy Theorists. The Foundation must remain in the shadows. Even a mad dog’s barks can draw attention if loud and frequent enough.
Throughout the ages, tales of sinister organizations with even more vile goals have always been a topic of great debate to the fringe lunatics who find their lips loosened after a few drinks in a tavern among equally paranoid individuals. The simple truth is as follows: Was there ever something even remotely resembling the Cicada Foundation in Golarion, that had managed to stay hidden despite their dealings with some of the most despicable figures in our world’s history, it would not suffer even the dullest of fools to live for uttering the name of their existance.
The simple truth is that we, humans, elves, and halflings, the sensible races, have no desire to see the world end. Certainly it would take someone mad to sacrifice the world for profit or some other nebulous goal.
For those of you not in the know of what our poor uneducated friends believe to be the most powerful force in Golarion when it comes to world ending plots, it will be my pleasure to educate you in this most fanciful of fictions. You see, the Cicada Foundation, which has itself never tried to destroy the world, has had alleged dealings with other forces that would. They function, simply put, as a financial institution, investing in world ending plots and other evil or nefarious plots in exchange for coin, information, and knowledge. Perhaps a mad wizard has constructed a mechanical behemoth to destroy a well defended keep. The Foundation would support the research in exchange for a working prototype or the schematics for such a beast. A formula of eternal youth? A new ritual to create liches? A vampire lord has taken over a province and is acting as a despot, using the terrified populace as a source of food for itself and as a labor force for the foundation, or live test subjects.
The point, I am making, dear reader, is that I would not put much faith in such an order. It would take a madman to think of it, and a lot more madmen to execute it. The organization and dedication to any cause brought up to them would be nothing short of extremely organized, disciplined, evil, and sane minds. Yet their actions would indicate to the contrary, would it not? You see, this conflict is the exact reason why the Cicada Foundation could, and absolutely would not exist in this world or any other.
Remember this, gentle reader, if ever you are forced to drink with your intellectual inferiors, do not dismiss their inane ramblings, for it is an endless source of entertainment. For a moment, my ‘trustworthy’ source almost had me convinced to write a very different article warning you all to beware the Cicada Foundation. Either he was truly mad, or an extremely cunning liar looking for attention.
Either way, I hope you take the following three lessons to heart next time you leave the comforts of your educational establishments to go for a drink with the commoners: First, they can be a source of entertainment. Secondly, they probably don’t know any better. And third, it is your duty, as an enlightened individual to show them the error of their ways, much like I tried to do with my source with little success.
H. Harnack Esquire
In response to this article, which has not and will not be published, we have eliminated Hans Harnack, are preparing a smear campaign to defame him in the eyes of his peers, and are looking into finding the exact source of the leak of information. Knowledge is power, gold is power, and power is power. We cannot afford to lose any of these for it may put the end game in danger. We cannot exist in the eyes of the populace, even if it is as a fictional organization.
Gafflwn Dihenydd, o’r fuddugol yn wiriol sydd. Ni fydd neb yn ein Drechu, Falch ydy ni i drochu, Traed o flaen i’r Annwn, mewn y gwybodaeth fe godwn ni.
Head of investigations department
Cicada Foundation Absolom Branch
Maxime stood at the corner of the street. Back back against the wall of the Levres Rouge Brothel. He peeks around the corner as his friend distracts the baker, getting beaten for having been caught stealing on purpose. Max rushes out from the corner and grabs an entire baskets worth of bread.
He quickly runs away. The baker finishes beating the other orphan and returns to his stall. Too distracted to notice the missing basket of wares. The battered orphan limps away before meeting up with Max and the other orphans, “Next time, you can take the beating.” The boy says.
Max grins, “Chin up, Golen. We eat like kings today! Really poor kings, but kings all the same.”
Both boys were roughly thirteen, wearing tattered clothes from clotheslines. Golen was much bigger. It was a bastardization of the word Golem. The kid could take a major beating, and he made an ideal distraction. Everyone else said that he’d grow up to be a knight errant or something valiant. No one paid much attention to Max, and he liked it that way.
The two boys dig into their bounty, throwing crusts at the occasional rat or stray dog that came too close. This was life for them. Stealing to eat and sticking to themselves until the winter months where they stick to the orphanage.
The two friends lives changed when the Caravan came into town…
So… People and things died today. None of them us. This pleases me. I sort of expected us to turn on the good doctor, but not for him to actually be executed. So I defended the poor bastard. Sandy would have had him shot, but I think he values me too much as an asset, I’m hoping the friendship thing is a factor too. Looked that way, so there’s that. Maybe I could slowly bend him into shape so he’s more careful about who he has stuffed. Maybe.
Killed a permaid, collected his head and am going to turn it into a puppet, call him Gil, I think. We also killed an aboleth. Giant killer psychic monster thing. Going to suggest we just keep the skull and hang it where everyone can see it. Gotta say, never been more proud to have stuck with this crew. Sandy shamed it, Sharma literally sucked the life out of him, Gareth and I took care of melee combat, and I have to say, we were fucking badasses. I delivered the killing blow, so that’s going on my resume, also delivered my new catch phrase: Jester takes the King! Checkmate! Hope it catches on.
We’re heading to Ollo now. I’m going to see if I can learn me a few magic tricks to help the crew out. Since we lost the halfling, I don’t know if we’re equipped to make magical items anymore. Which would be a handy skill to have. That way I could fight underwater without having to worry about getting into contact with another Aboleth if we run into one. That thing’s spit made me part fish for a few hours. So I was more or less stuck underwater for almost 9 hours.
Chucked a crate of the doctor’s loot in the water because he was being rude. Went to fish it out after because… Well, it’s a lot of money, and I like money. I’ll see about crafting a gun for Gareth once I figure out how to make them work underwater. Well, that’s all I have for today. Tomorrow is a new day, and I have lots on my mind. Bon soir, and I’ll tell you about our adventures as they happen.
Obviously that isn’t me. Man with the plan. I react, mostly. I’ve planned things before, but the universe has a nasty habit of not falling in line with my plans. Anyway. We went to visit the killer cult, they want a boat for information, then we had to go to the horny cult, they want the stuff in a different boat for information we need to get the information we need. Keeping up? Good.
We met this doctor who needs us to find a ring, so we can get the boat with the thing inside that the horny cult wants. He wants 50% of what we’ll get in there, not sure if the rest of the crew’s going to hold up that agreement, but that’s a bridge we’ll cross when we get to it.
The ring was in possession of a douche-chapeau of a pirate named Milksop. Stupid name, I know. I really wanted to shoot him, but he called parley. It’s a pirate rule that reminds me of tag when I was a child, where someone would run to a base or something and declare it a safe zone so no one could touch them until they left. It’s a fucking stupid rule, but what can you do? We got a spellbook out of it which Sharma is pretty happy about. I would have pressed him into our fleet if I were Sandy though. He makes these moving gargoyle things that go on the ship. Would make a fine line of defence against whatever’s trying to fuck with us in the future. He got away, no bullet-wounds from yours truly.
Took us a bit more time to find a sunken ship, but by the time we got there, I had already introduced a lot of grog in my system and it was starting to take its toll. Luckily, it was getting dark, so Sandy had us wait until tomorrow. Good thing the ocean is wet. It’ll wake me up a little from my hangover coma.
I can’t speak for the rest of the crew, but the horny cult kinda rubs me the wrong way. I don’t trust them at all. Faster we’re done dealing with them, the better.
Much love, your faithful owner, Maxime Constant.
PS. Need to think of something better to say to activate my Dragon’s Breath bullets. “Hotshot” is apparently lame according to the king of banter.
Hello again! Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering why I’m not living it up in Minkai as a noble poof, and the reason for that, as in all other things in life, is very complex and I don’t have all day to write about it, so let it be said that when addressing an empress one should refrain from calling her “Sugar Tits” and slapping her chest like a bongo. That sort of thing gets you stuffed in a barrel and causes a lot of innovation on the subject of building catapults and how to fire someone out of catapults. Hint: Stuffing people in a barrel keeps them from flailing their arms and causing unwanted drag.
So with that said, I ended up on the endless hunger. Tossed a few jokes, and the captain spared my life, which is good. Unfortunately he’s a pirate. An evil pirate. So far he’s avoided doing anything that would force me to shoot him in the back of the head. Which is good, because he knows things… Lots of things…
I’ll be honest, it isn’t so bad. There’s adventure, which is like crack to me, and a couple of the other people that will from now on be known as the “Main Cast” are okay. I mean, they’re nuts, but they’re okay. So our first adventure ended up involving… Weresharks, I think. Might be another thing, can’t remember, I just know it involved fish… People. The Captain got married to a rich lady who owns a port, nice to talk to someone else from Galt, and she was experienced. I suppose that means I’ll have to try my luck when the Captain’s dead. Let’s face it, this sort of life doesn’t let people live long.
Alianora didn’t like her. Guess she’s involved with Sandy somehow. Doesn’t really matter though. She finds other way of entertaining herself. It’s given me a sort of insight on how the captain functions. He doesn’t get jealous, and I think love is beyond him. He ‘likes’ his tools, which is what we are to him. I don’t see him sticking his neck out for any of us, ever, for any reason. Last night he told me I was his master at arms, which sucks. It’s not a fun job, I’m the stool on the ship. I’m basically a guard. I’m the fuzz. You can’t tell, but I shudder just thinking about it. I think I’ve almost managed to convince him to let me be something else. I voted for Ice Warden, responsible for keeping drinks cold during celebrations.
There was a debate last night along with the far more important issue of my title. We had to choose between going to visit Priestesses who know how to party (Everyone’s vote) and going to visit the priests of the god of murder and poison (Only the captain voted for that one). Turns out it’s not a democracy. I mean, he was right, but everyone else wanted to do things the easy and fun way.
So I’m getting ready. Built about three new guns, almost 300 rounds of ammunition. An interesting fact, Sandy trusts me enough to let me fuck around with his alchemy lab. Guess I could get around the booze rations that way if I could get some yeast we’re swimming in grog, my friend.
I really should have become a wizard. That way I could have flown the barrel somewhere better. Sadly I would probably have gone back to Minkai. They have these dumplings and they eat with two sticks instead of a fork and knife. It’s awesome.
I’ve got more crap to cover before we’re up to date. I’ll try to write more tomorrow.
“Un autre jour dans ce carnaval des âmes
une autre nuit commence aussi vite qu’elle fini
les souvenirs des ombres, de l’encre sur la page
et je n’arrive pas à trouver mon chemin”
Bonjour, les amis! I might not seem the type, but I do love books. They’re where people like me can write down every insane thought that pops into our heads, whether it’s genius thoughts waiting to become a work of art or the words that scholars will be looking at hundreds of years from now and praising the writer for being so ahead of his time… This is not one of those. It’s the ramblings of an adventurer, a lover, a pirate, a hero, and a villain.
I should start at the beginning, as is the usual format for memoires. I wasn’t always so… Well, loud and expressive. I use to be one of those little people whose shoulders I now stand on. I use to be a prop, a background character. You may be asking, as I asked myself as I picked up this journal from a shop in some nameless port I visited, where did this all begin? Well, no surprise there, it started with a girl.
We had lots of heroes coming around in my little corner of the world, which I won’t be telling you where it is, not yet. Galt is more of an adopted nation for me. Anyway, that’s not what you’re here for.
Yes, the girl. Now, it’s a story as old as time. Boy meets girl, turns out she’s a bitch, he’s too in love to see it, and she demands some token to show how far he’d go for her love. This was when I was around sixteen or so. Ready to be married, finally a man. So what do I do? I pick up a knife and head for the nearest inn where they’ve got adventurers coming in and out to start my quest for the perfect token of my love for little old Angeline.
Before I go further I want to make something clear. I bare this woman no ill will despite her less than kind treatment of me. If it weren’t for her, I would never have found my calling in life as a vagabond and comic relief. As cruel and petty as she was, she had done more for me than any other woman on this miserable plane of existence.
So I get to the inn and look up anyone willing to take up arms with the greenhorn. As it turns out my salvation came in the form of a half-orc, just as green, but in a literal sense. Enter Makor the barbarian. Rude, crude, and possibly my first real friend, though he’d break my neck if he read this… if he could read.
The two of us set out, and it took us around two months to to complete that first quest. We killed some goblin king who wanted all of everything else to burn, you know how it is? Of course you do. We kill him, collect his head, and I grab a piece of treasure that I thought would be a valuable gift for the girl of my dreams, and we head back.
Here’s the part where I get the first real hint that I was looking at her with rose tinted goggles. When Makor and I get back into town, two months later, I find out she got married two days after I left. I was… broken. Couldn’t talk to Makor about it, didn’t really know how willing he’d be to listen to me pour my heart out. So I swallowed it along with several pints that our treasure bought us. I paid for a one night marriage and honeymoon, and then got geared up to go exploring with the stoic green fuck that would be my only friend for a long time.
I didn’t have many friends. I have a big fucking mouth. It’s gotten me in trouble as often as it’s gotten me out. So I keep it open for the occasional nugget of wisdom or witty banter. Sometimes people appreciate it, other times they get sick of it, and sometimes they can outright hate me for it. More on that in the next chapter.
So we end up in this po-dunk harbour town. Pretty exotic innkeeper by the name of Ameiko… Who I also have issues with… but we’ll get to that later. We’ll get to a lot of shit later.
Anyway. Enter Malvolio Sharma and Aldrius Froidvoir. We saved the town from a goblin invasion, I almost got laid, and Makor and I went our separate ways. Hung out in town for a while, met a paladin, a monk that was a sort of bear thing, and that’s about it. Later on we met a kobold of all things that showed me the joys of gunpowder and guns.
Remember when I said that I’d talk about my mouth getting me in trouble? Yeah, well, that was a shining example. Aldrius, my second friend, was having a rough time, and I tried giving him a little pep talk. Should have kept my mouth shut. It created a rift between us for a time, which we eventually mended. All the same, if this book ever falls in your hands by some fucked up turn of events, Al, I’m sorry.
The rest of the adventure… well, I’d rather not talk about it. A few drinks once all was said and done and Ameiko, who was the fucking empress of Minkai or something. She stuffed me in a barrel and launched me the fuck out of her country and into a pirate ship. Thankfully the captain, genocidal murderer and maniac that he is, likes a good joke. So I get to keep my head for now.
Sharma’s here too. A Drow named Alianora. Another Gunslinger named Gareth. Vicnan the Halfling. Sandman, Sahkbet, the captain. And together we’re the crew that’s taking the shackles by storm. I’ll fill in more of what we did tomorrow. For now, I’ve got a hangover to sleep off. Good night, journal. I hope I can cling onto you for a little longer before moving on.