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A Warm Welcome From Bourdai' Vas
‘Follow your passion’, my dear readers, is maldormac crap.
Single lines make for great slogans to stitch on pillows. But there is nuance, I say! Take me for example, yes? I always thought myself something of a writer. Moon-crossed lovers and murdered kings. One day, young Bourdai’ Vas and my plays would be the envy of wordsmiths across Dema. I believed, to translate the Usundi expression, that I defecated eggs of gold. I was the hero, and this was the hero's journey! The histories would see.
Hilarity ensued, yes? In short, I asked the almighty Qian’nu for a quill, and He handed me a spear first.
Yet, here I lounge behind a mahogany desk, with candied plums and more coin than I know what to do with, more time than I can waste, and a quill finally in my hand anyhow. More than one city has risen to or fallen from power on my organization’s say so. Recruitment rates are up. Mortality is down. Pensions are paid on time. Look no further than my aged body for the answer to why passion alone is moot.
Why? Because you will not succeed without the right friends! I think you should keep the company of people you think are better than you. That can do skills you cannot. Think in ways you don't. Some of that competency and kindness will rub off, along with powerful minds to help you hatch your plans. Every life of passion needs a foundation and more than one set of hands to build what is dreamed of, yes? You can learn something every day from the right friends. The mind should be watered daily like a citrus tree. And if the best companions for your plans don't want to be clutchmates? An associate properly compensated in coin often works too.
In my day, I had to figure out how to acquire these social connections from nothing. Now, I will help you make your own foundation for great deeds for free, with this building: The Jade Feather.
We throw the best parties with the best company, fresh back from their exploits in the far corners of the world. Tongues get to wagging here. Some of the greatest quests of our time have been hatched on the lunch stools by the Moon River. Leave your shyness at the door. Have an ale or three. I think you will gain enough leads and sets of legs to chase them with the Feather as your headquarters.
For now, we’ll spend this time together learning everything you need to know about the types of folk one must cultivate bonds, or a strong contract, with.
There are six main classes of companion we here at The Jade Feather endorse. Many more subclasses to the six call on unique skills, a subject for another time. The core are:
Fighters are every companion you want covering your side, either in a bar brawl or a grand final assault on the forces of evil. Whoever you think those happen to be, of course. “Evil” is being thrown around a lot these days, no? Fighters can take a hit, hit back harder, and keep up with folk half their age with twice the fortitude. I never left the Jade Feather without at least one heavy weapons specialist in my traveling bunch. They are worth their weight in gold. Especially if you have them carry that weight back instead of you after the tomb raiding is done.
Go downstairs and you will find a steady lot of Dawnraider swordsmen, Aegic speardancers, ex-legionnaires, mercenaries of bow and axe and shield wall. Give some of the newer blood a chance, as well. A young lass or lad with lots of potential can be a sounder investment than some prima donna ‘consultants’ who charge out the cloaca, then grind your seeds anyway with the interest rates.
Best fighter ever to affiliate with The Jade Feather? Gashis’ "Goldweather" Klei. Shorter than me, with a fiery red streak to match his tufts. I once saw him disarm three human bandits with his soup spoon. Expert advice. Find yourself a male Featherfolk or two. We are underestimated, heightwise, but that barely slowed Gashis from fending off the Phei bowmen while we interrupted the Eldertech dig site looting in the Forest of Ilda. That day, Gashis convinced me never to be stingy on the equipment costs, yes? Good money in, good results out. And I owe him my life for being there the exact moment I needed to hear, "Thief! The tree is a thief!" One second too slow, and I'd have taken an arrow to the knee.
Hunters could track a snowflake in a blizzard by sound and smell alone. The best ones, anyway. Or at least so it seems based on their deft ways. Dema is a wild place beyond the borders of the local towns. If it crawls, slithers, or creeps, round out your party with someone who can kill it and butcher its meat to feed everyone on the trail.
Expert marksmen and trappers practice on fur and tentacles long before moving to thinking folk. Just be prepared to handle conversations carefully. Hunters often come from some of the more, let us say exciting cultures of the world, like the peltasts of the Panacean Communes, or the reclusive shieldmaidens who herd the sky whales up in the Athenaeum. Good sorts, if a bit quick to jump and go all ‘knives out’ at the sound of a fallen glass at the bar.
Yordo was her name. Hunter was her calling. I do not know if you’ve heard what the Cairnkeepers of Tallon do for their children in lieu of a nice birthday party, but it’s enough to make a grown man of another culture weep in fear. This Nightrider grew up to then take a certain set of skills out into Dema that made her a nightmare for bylaks and Cegroti headhunters down in the Midlands. I heard she took a heavy Eldertech launcher filled with Scintillan Fire and twelve Aegic Cenobites out to The Red Desert last year to track a strigoi she referred to as “The Big ‘Un”. Best of luck to the strigoi.
Emissaries are bound to honor and truth, no matter what their truth may be. They think they have a right to be right, and nothing will stop them from exercising the one mandate they represent. It is Jade Feather policy not to discriminate based on a patron’s beliefs, yes? Still, let me tell you, that has not stopped all manner of preachers, political ambassadors, and exiles deemed heretics from coming to blows after a few pints.
A Solasii Sentinel, ambassadors from Clan Hiremai, and all manner of Archivists out wandering on the path of Zenyecroat can fit your needs with their combination of sound tactics and sheer willpower. Just count on them to not let anything stand in the way of their objective, including you. Ill fortune awaits the hero who forgets they must take an Archivist Eremite's flurry of blows to the chest if the hero does not immediately hand over the Eldertech glinting in front of everyone facing the sacred temple's inner sanctum.
Not to say all emissaries are twigs in the sand, yes? I always enjoyed the company of Emissary Strides the Sky, of Hive Hall Ikhish. It was their idea to show individual feathers I gave out to members as the sole way to get past the door minders. I hire Wakewalkers exclusively to mind the doors. Strides The Sky was tickled by the idea of a giant having to stoop to see something as light as a feather to grant access past its bulk. Minor yet brilliant looking back, Strides also taught me the importance of picking a great name for any group you try to create. The Jade Feather was almost the Mundane East Daylands Trading Company. No good could have come from ships bearing the sigil of a group like that, yes? ‘The Jade Feather’ is short and to the point, like its owner.
Rogues know every backdoor alley, every informant working the docks, every bribe that can change hands, and where each coin of that bribe will end up a year hence. All to line up one perfect moment to strike from shadow. Pains in my hind, rogues. Not that they are hard to work with. If anything, having a rogue accompany you on your jobs and quests will open more doors than they close. Though, they will close doors. Some may not show their faces around certain people, places, things, or ideas. The Regulators and The Low Chair are always seeking to cash in bounties on some of The Jade Feather’s regulars.
(It got to the point both organizations put a bounty worth a chest’s worth of silver on my beak. Afraid of competition, no? I asked five of my closest rogue companions to solve the matter. A little bladework, a visit to The Brewer, some sleight of hand, and an ursan unleashed in the office of the governor of Snow’s Edge, voila! Enough chaos to return to business.)
Rogues are always afoot in my establishment, but one is always welcome. Mika Jonzek could pick the lock on the underworld itself and leave before The Everborn awoke from the noise. Most Archivists use their flow state to punch holes through iron, or sprint faster than an efral flies. Jonzek focused all his concentration in his flow state to lockpick. I watched him crack an Argus GM 1500 series in three seconds, then use the remaining minute and fifty-seven seconds we’d allotted to unwrap his pack and make a sandwich, lecturing on the finer game mechanics of Enthroned while he chewed. That sort of accuracy didn’t hurt his dagger throwing aim, either. You only heist the Vaults of Mundi once in a lifetime, and I wouldn’t have traded our scholar and gentlemen rogue for any other that weekend. If you want job security, specialize like Jonzek, yes?
Wordsmiths are a stunning lot. You never know what kind of extra results you can snag with the help of a silver-tongued turner of phrases. Whether they are freed Auric slaves who have bargained their way out of chains, or highborn Abresian folk on the run after the holy revolution, wordsmiths know the value of the right whisper in the right ear. They can get you in and out of social situations that would otherwise end in blood.
Need to slip past a guard without killing him? Wordsmith. Need to form a political rebellion in the Dawnplains town you’re trying to liberate? Wordsmith. Need to barter for an Eldertech lightning thrower the size of an allindrak so it can be fused to your fishing schooner so you can obliterate a pirate dreadnought that has relentlessly chased you after Ajyt failed to uphold net neutrality? Oddly enough, still yes, wordsmith. True story, that.
The most cunning wordsmith I ever worked with was a Jana’haki by the name of Taros Two-Hats. Except, you never saw Taros wearing two hats. Always none, one, or three. We didn’t know what would happen if Taros put on two, and neither did the officials she was threatening or bribing. Always worked it into her speech, whether it was a dinner party or hostage negotiation. Pure cunning, that Two-Hats. Well, her method was something you had to see in action, at any rate. I have nothing to teach you that I learned from Taros, unless you commit to an incredibly specific theme for the rest of your life that I’m sure she’d kill you to retain exclusive rights to anyway. Quick temper, but even quicker on the draw with a bow that could knock arrows as long as my arm.
Last but by no means least, Sages are dedicated to their areas of study, crafting nature or science into an art unto itself. This makes them deadly effective when the situation calls for a someone learned in Eldertech usage. With legendary weapons and miracle tools always falling out of abandoned ruins, it follows that some would become adept enough in all their different forms to become a top battlefield wielder of hardlight arrows and boots that walk on water. I have yet to meet a man that can outsmart a fireball.
Luckily, sages just as often specialize in the art of healing. You will want a sage around to patch up the surviving members of a rough encounter with Dema’s jaws and flails. At least, well enough that they can then find their way back to the nearest Apothicant clinic. A sage can come from any walk of life, from Luminosi monks to mindmasters of Hollowfalls. What matters is the path going forward when they begin their travels with you.
I know a sage who specializes in Eldertech cooking. An obscure career track, but oh my, does that human get results, yes? Benjy Severo’s secret to hosting the most exquisite dining experiences this side of the Mountains of the Moon is simple: artifice. Aqua vitae distilled from an infinite water generator. Vegetables and grain grown from beneath glowing Eldertech heat dynamos. His meat cleaver is made with unbreakable Eldertech material. The same cleaver he takes into battle, in fact. His original specialty meal was saura’ gash, back in the days you could still find one in the Silverleaf Wilds without losing 80% of your men.
Through years of study at his institution, that human also has a cupboard of tonics and food additives infused with Eldertech that counter any poison an assassin might slip into the royal banquet. Where is Benjy now, you ask? Head down to the kitchens. The Jade Feather does not close until the last customer is satisfied with their meal. I hear his special today ate an underclan of Wakewalkers before it arrived on his cutting board salted and spiced.
May The Jade Feather be the nest from which all your greatest deeds take flight from. Just remember to return and dazzle us with your tales. Communities like this are intended to bring us closer together. Five talons are better than one, and all that. Hopefully the people downstairs you rope into your own adventures have as colorful backgrounds and personalities as my companions. It almost gets me nostalgic enough to get my spear down from the mantle, track down the old team, and strike out on one more fool's mission.
Another day, yes? Return to me another time, and I shall write you more about what this hub of the ambitious and powerful is up to next.
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