Flames of War

Ozruk's Journal Part 9

1437
We broke camp and encountered those slagosians again. Something had attacked in the night and killed two of their number in a rather brutal fashion. We could hear the wails and sobbing from their kin. Understandably they were scared and just wanted to be on their way. We had heard rumors of something killing people in the previous town but appears it was more than just an idle rumor.

We arrived in town a few hours later. Although there was the swamplands surrounding the area the road had been clear and passed through unhindered. It was a decent sized town, once a mining town it had run dry, new veins were discovered and trade in rare herbs and components from the surrounding swamp. I guess there was still some mining ongoing but it was nowhere near the scale it had once been. The city had walls on the sides facing the land. Some parts were not walled that faced out over a lake and it was along the edge of the lake that we arrived at our destination, the Fox and Goose. We met the innkeeper, Lyra who handed us off to her son to arrange for our rooms. It was rather quite hilarious, the young teenager was completely smitten by Sylthana and seemed in complete awe of her.

Later on we met up with Randyl, He was disguised except for that stupid hat of his, probably as a signal. Lyra, the innkeeper was a local contact and showed us to the back room where we could talk privately. We did have to assure him that Arlen was safe for now. Things reek of Balmora all over again unfortunately. The corpse is split into multiple factions, the pendragons are in town putting pressure on things and the Gainsbrough heir apparently has gone missing in the last few days but that’s not generally public knowledge

We needed some way to get to greywater keep, home of the pendragons. And more importantly to the lake where Makavel’s brother lay sleeping. Appears we are going to repeat Balmora again and get involved in these different fighting factions again.

I did manage to get Aderyn drunk successfully and it was awesome, she was a completely chatty drunk. Didn’t see Sylthana and Braum for a bit, appears they followed the one man identified as Barich, one of the Corpse commanders who was in the inn for a while and slipped out when the head of the city watch showed up. They followed him to a home then when they tried to approach they were shooed off by the resident who I guess is his sister from what we have heard.

Nothing much to do so we went to get some rest.

1437

Gaining the trust of the Corpse is unfortunately required. We have begun inquiring around and only a few opportunities seem to present themselves. The biggest one is a series of murders that have happened. The attack on the Slagosians appear to have just been one such incident.

We started to get a feel for the town. Arlen and Sylthana went to their churches to pay their respects and inquire about recent events. Something nasty has killed at least nine people in the area, 11 if whatever ambushed the Slagosians was the same thing. Everybody is more or less in agreement to start there, we don’t have a lot of other options to go on. Attacks occurring at night and appears the last one to get killed was some drunk out in the swamps.

I went with Sylthana to inspect the body, slashed up and half his skull caved in rather messily. Seemed like multiple attackers. She spoke with the dead and his spirit revealed he had heard this Roland guy was nearby and had gone looking for him. Bad blood between Roland and some of the miners who blame him for an accident that happened many years ago. Find out he is a druid.

We regrouped and began trying to find a guide to hunt him down. He probably isn’t responsible for the murders but seemed like he may know something about whatever caused them. Lyra disappeared around this time when we were discussing our plans but we did manage to convince a local hunter named Cerridwen to take us on a hunt. Sylthana use water walking and we were able to move pretty fast through the swamps. Eventually we managed to find his place, An ancient tree and we could just barely make out the door. According to our guide Roland’s place moves around the swamps and we were lucky to have found it here.

Roland was not in good shape, we also found Lyra here tending to him. As it turns out she is his granddaughter and she was afraid we meant him harm. We found out he knew exactly what was causing the murders. A swamp hag and some trolls, he had entered into a pact with the hag to extend his life in order to protect the town and the corpse’s secret base called the Dread Vault which also moved around the swamp. The hag was becoming uncontrollable as Roland grew weaker, killing her would kill him but he insisted we needed to stop her despite Lyra’s protest. I can’t say I blame her, I would probably be the same were our positions reversed.

We bid Roland a bittersweet farewell. I think we all realized if we are successful he would die because of us.

Cerridwen was now outright terrified. Roland had asked her to bring us to a place called the Isle of Tar in the swamp and this place scared her. It took us three hours of travel to reach it. It was a bowl shaped depression outlined by a ridgeline. The fog was dense and very unnatural. We parted ways with our guide who gave us directions to return and a compass to find our way south to a large tree then due east back to the town. This was going to get messy and she was not a combatant, best she get away from here with all haste.

As we approached some of us heard and saw a young woman on the rocks in the center. In the basin of this bowl there was an island ringed by the swamp with a pile of rocks in the center. She was mocking us. Sylthana and Arlen moved forward, I heard the spell crack out and we all realized the figure on the rocks was an illusion as Sylthana’s spell flashed through the figure.

We heard noise from the flanks as the two trolls attacked us. At one point I tried shape shifting Braum but that damned hag dispelled my magic easily. I became terrified when I accidentally struck Sylthana and but fortunately Enrico was able to heal her while she was down. It was a hard won fight, that raged across the entire island. Arlen looked strangely at me when I finished off the hag and drew off her essence. It was oddly reminiscent of how Luci always looked at me when I did that. Fortunantly Arlen and Aderyn had some alchemist fire to ensure the trolls stayed dead.

After the Hag died the fog surrounding the isle of Tar had begun to dissipate, we took the opportunity to bind our wounds when one of the others spotted a third troll. This one was very… odd. For one he was hiding behind a tree, or rather was trying to hide behind a tree, he was considerably larger than the tree and seemed rather timid. He slowly came out and began making his way to us. He wasn’t being threatening (well as not so threatening as a troll can be) and stopped short of us looking around. What surprised us all was when he spoke, it was a hesitant voice, like a small child trying to talk. “They dead?”

Arlen spoke to him first “Yes, they are dead” “Good” came the reply. Followed by “Friend?” as if by mutual consent we all agreed “Friend”
Arlen asked for the troll’s name, even demonstrating by calling out his own name slowly and pointing to each of us and saying our names. The troll imitated him and called himself Baruu, I think he just made it up but its as good a name as any.

Baruu was actually fairly nice. We slowly got the story out of him that the other two trolls we fought were his brothers and they grew very mean after the hag showed up. When asked where he was from he just said home. I don’t think he quite understands the idea but that is understandable. He told us about other soldiers in the forest and that he learned to talk by listening to the city guards while out of sight. We began to travel the course Cerridwen had directed us to take to return safely. We bid him farewell as we approached the city gates. The guards gave us a little trouble since the gates were already shut but telling them we had just killed a hag and some trolls did wonders. I’m sure they could see us battered and bloodied and probably didn’t want to cause trouble with people who do violence for a living.

Lyra hadn’t returned yet, she was probably still with her grandfather understandably. I managed to get a bottle of wine but that Arlen kept trying to control my drinking then he was thinking to take a drink with me which just annoyed me to the point I went to bed.

1437

I came downstairs today to suddenly find my father Algus sitting there in the main room. I was shocked and overjoyed to see him and immediately asked why he was there. It was revealed that Sylthana had sent word to him. Malkior threatening me through the Compass of Theugust was the reason. She felt I was in great danger and my father agreed. I didn’t know what they could do, it had marked me and it was just my dumb luck and fear that had prevented me from attuning to it and causing far worse damage.

Algus asked us details about what had transpired so far. We were filling him in when Arlen arrived. Algus asked us who was he and we filled him in about the shinebox, he seemed more at ease when we spoke about using Sylthana’s Zone of truth to test the veracity of his words. Arlen for his part was a bit in awe having made the connection that the man sitting here was one of the heroes of Lodis and incredibly powerful. He sort of stumbled through an introduction but Algus just waved it off.

He seemed to have some idea of what to do and once the others gathered we headed back out to the swamps. Word had already spread about the hag and trolls in the swamps. The guard’s gossip appeared to have traveled quickly.

A few hours later we were back out in the swamp and after he examined the ruins Algus declared they were a part of an ancient woodelven ruin that had once stood here as their kingdom had fallen. A little eerie to know this had once been a battlefield. He began working on a complex ritual having me and Aderyn running about setting it up. I could understand parts of what he was doing but this was larger than anything I had seen before. Once ready I took the Compass of Theugust from me and set it down in a prepared spot. He explained the intention was to use the residual magic of the wood elven artifact to forcibly disjoint the compass. He had us all gather in a specific spot as he began the ritual. I fought the urge to run away, probably instinct that I knew this was going to be dangerous.

At first nothing then the runes drawn on the ground all lit up and the power became palatable. I could feel it surging upwards and you could start to see the lines of magic drawing out towards the compass. This kept going for a time. Then everything exploded with such force. A blinding flash of white energy and a shockwave you felt rather than heard. Despite being half blinded I could see it wash around us, the protection circle we were standing in shielding us.

When I blinked the stars away from my eyes I saw a scene of devestation. Every tree surrounding the isle of tar had been flattened to the ground. No stone remained standing on another, where the compass and the throne had once stood was a shallow crater. Algus checked us all over but we were okay.

They looked at the back of my neck again and announced to the relief of all that the mark was gone. It had faded away when the compass was destroyed finally.

We were celebrating when we saw a familiar sight as Baruu came up to to edge of the trees trying to hide himself and watch what was going on. My father was fascinated by Baruu as an intelligent, peaceful troll was quite unusual.

1437
Returning to town people asked us if we knew about the huge explosion out in the swamps. The shockwave had rattled windows here in Servilla and people had seen the flash of energy from the explosion. We ducked to questions and returned to the inn. A couple of us went to the house of Barak’s sister. I approached and knocked myself since the others had likely spooked her. I spoke with her she was a bit evasive but eventually slipped us a note detailing a contact point that evening in the mines.
We did a bit of shopping and preparation before evening when we slipped into the old mining area at the edge of town. This area had been active in years past when the veins of ore beneath the city were flush with their riches before they were drained completely. Oddly enough I had Ip’Nix examine many of the buildings and they did not seem to be abandoned, they were sealed up too tight to be neglected. Another mystery to file away.
A cloaked and hooded figure appeared and made its way through the shadows towards us. He didn’t identify himself but we could guess it was Barak and he was leery of an ambush. We spoke for a time about what we were after. He eventually gave us a lead on a warehouse, told us if we wanted to help to speak to a man named Levin who was there. He slipped away soon after and we headed back into town to the warehouse district.

Finding the building wasn’t too hard, It was sealed up pretty tight as well although we could see a dim light upstairs. We gave the passcode and were brought inside. Probably a dozen and a half people within, These weren’t simple miners however and had the air of trained soldiers. Upstairs we met Gustav. A huge man whose armor had familiar markings that I recognized from Parn. This Gustav was another paladin of Ifreya. We appealed to him for aid and he told us we needed to find the dread Vault. A base used by the Corpse that moved around and was never in the same place. There were several access points and we were given a map detailing out some of these places we could use to get access to it. He wished us luck as we left.
We had at least two of the five leaders on our side now. Lets see what we can do with the Dread Vault.
Curfew had been implemented, the Pendragons had a presence in the city now, they were a little riled up by the explosion out in the swamp. If what we heard from Baruu was accurate they had a larger force hidden in the swamps as well.

1437
The next morning we once more headed out into the swamps. It took several hours of searching but we finally found the three stones marked off on the map. Baruu had followed us, he is simple but delightful. So innocent.
The stones concealed a hidden ladder down, I went down first and began to search the entrance for traps, I managed to find one when I set off the pressure plate and a bolt scratched my arm. I bit back my yelp of surprise and continued searching when I managed to set off some kind of gad trap but this time avoided getting a lungful. Sylthana came out in about the least stealthy manner I have ever seen, she jumped and slammed into the bottom of the ladder with a sound like Braum jumping out of a window on to his shield. She just shrugged and all I could do was return to checking out the door.
It wasn’t barred, I opened it a crack slowly when the crossbow bolt slammed into my arm, most of the blow absorbed by my armor but it still drew blood. In my surprise the door swung wide and I could clearly see an ambush prepared. Thinking quick I snapped a fireball into the middle and dove forward behind some boxes as the shock wave from the fireball slammed the room.
The next minutes were a blur as we fought with our assailants in close quarters, Braum got drawn off into a side room dealing with some archers. Smoke filled the place from loose debris lit up by multiple fires that had broken out. An enemy mage managed to slip away out the ladder via teleportation, couldn’t quite catch him. Once it was all done we looked around. We had come out okay. We did find a notice describing us and saying to stop us at any cost. Looks like we know whose side these people were on.

A back room area there were some holdouts. Demanding to be let walk free or else. I got a little saucy with them and they apparently did something that then freaked them out. We saw them running out in a complete panic, at first we tried to stop them, but on seizing one we realized they were terrified.

We moved back in there cautiously, I suddenly hear a roar and Arlen engaged a monster. There were two passages leading to this back room and I was on one side, most of the others were down the other. I arrived to see a demon, a glabrazhou standing over Alren who had gotten knocked out and it was turning its attention to the others. Arlen pull himself up as the demon started moving and trust his sword into its side. It seemed more annoyed than anything as it swatted him unconscious before picking him up and throwing him at Braum. This thing was dangerous and not being able to reach Arlen to pull him clear I tried the one thing I could think of and used a spell I hadn’t really tried before. Surprisingly the spell worked. The Glabrazhou disappeared with a faint pop and faint magical rune shimmered in the air as the banishment returned it to its own plane. Everybody was in quite a bit of surprise but we wasted no time. Enrico and Sylthana had found a passageway down and Enrico had already made his way down there. Around the corner was a gateway, evidently this was what those three morons had activated. A broken stone rune lay on the ground. Something was starting to try and come through. Syl began blasting the stone archs and Braum and Arlen joined her. I couldn’t be of any help so I joined Enrico would had found an odd gateway. He discovered he could pour magical energies into it and the stones responded. We didn’t have enough between us to do anything more. I waited for another minute until I felt the Banishment spell become permanent. At least that was one demon we did not have to deal with this time. We met back up, the portal upstairs had collapsed and the gateway sealed shut, nothing more was coming through it. We looked around some more but decided we had to take a bit of a rest…. Oh not this again…

1437
I finally discovered who my father is. Ippon the dragon slayer from the second age was the lover of my mother Beleneth. I will need to do some research on who he was. Such a horrible curse though, he never knew I existed, my mother concealed me from the entire world. I’ve been told Ippon died of old age, I could have had a peaceful life with my father in the second age and never suffered through any of this. Why did she do it to me?

I had another breakdown. I tried to lie and tell Arlen and the others about why I had become a warlock, that I wanted power and a way to prove myself to the world but Sylthana somehow saw through me. She pressed me, reminded me I told her I would not keep anymore secrets. I finally admitted to it. I told them all what happened that night.

I had been trying to save up money to pay for my education, Ertealean had offered me work in his shop before he betrayed me. Tortured and… did worse things to me. Intended to use my body to bind a demon to his service. The demon gave me an offer to save my life at just the cost of my soul. I took it out of fear. Ertealen fell into is own summoning circle, the explosion had thrown me through a wall. I blacked, I became a warlock. Was ashamed of what had happened and what I had become but the others weren’t. They told me they did not care, that I was still a good girl forced to do something against her will. In some ways I believe them, in some I wish I could believe them.

1437
We gathered up and powered up the portal, it opened up and we stepped through into absolute bedlam and chaos. We were in a back corner of the courtyard which wrapped around the main tower. Shrieks and gibbering noises were all around. I could see several demons around the place,several flyers that looked like over sized mosquito’s and some smaller monstrosities that were feeding on the dead. Looked like the Corpse had gotten surprised and it turned into a slaughter. Ip’Nix reported there were some larger demons trying to breech the gate. We tried to slip into one of the towers but were unfortunately spotted and attacked. A couple of the flyer’s and a number of smaller ones engaged us. We somehow managed to drive them off though I lost track of Aderyn in the chaos and somehow Arlen managed to lose his sword which seemed to be freaking him out. We move up to the top of the wall. Ip’Nix reported a door on that side into the main keep. More flyers attacked and while Arlen and sylthana engaged myself and Enrico made it to the door. I picked the first lock before I heard the buzzing behind me and then I got slammed by some sort of noise that made me black out. I awoke inside as the others were scrambling in. We had been spotted coming across and the Corpse inside had opened the door to pull us through. Aderyn rejoined us carrying Arlen’s sword, she had gone invisible and picked it up as she had made her way back to us.

We had a bit a trouble right then since we discovered that mage who escaped the cavern was there. A few accusations went back and forth but the commander here was confused about our accusation of the ambush being intentional until we showed him the letter we found in the cave seeking to stop us. We made a truce, although I may need to hurt Arlen later after what he said about this being my fault. That really hurt, I thought I could trust him but instead he wishes to just throw me out as a sacrificial lamb.
Underneath the Dread Vault is a set of caves tied to a group of portals. These portals were dormant but when the runestone was broken they activated and the demons attacked. We needed help so we used the raven statue given to us by Denam to send word to Algus. Told the commander Levin, a huge man with one arm we were sending for more aid from my father. While discussing a plan Algus teleported into the middle of the room with a loud whump. Everybody was stunned and confused. Then some of the men there recognized him from the great war. I smiled and told Levin who was still stunned “I told you my father would come” I enjoyed that one a little too much.
We told him the plan. The soldiers were to provide the distraction, we were planning on breaching the lower caverns and stop the demon down there and hopefully shut down the portals. He agreed, although I expected him to help us with the portals he instead elected to stay and help with the demons above.
Algus began to prepare a ritual spell, it was a spell unlike any I had ever seen before. I could see blood rising in the air, being drawn from the ground and from the fallen soldiers. It came together into a sphere before him, seemed to distort and compress. The arcane words he used were of far greater complexity than I had ever heard. He finished with a yell of “Bloodstar!” and the ball of blood shot through the roof and we felt a surge of power in our bones. Whatever it was was strong.
It was on. The harness was complete. I touched Sylthana and chanted the words, watching her shapechange into a gigantic ape, the harness went on and we strapped ourselves in since it was a several hundred foot drop to the cavern.
It was a blur, we made it to the hole in the floor where the demons had come through and Sylthana swung us down there rapidly. Aderyn came undone briefly but I was able to snag her and held her up until we reached the bottom. A short way in int bottom we entered a strange cavern with a gateway on an island surrounded by a number of other gateways. A demon thing of some kinda was there doing a ritual. I couldn’t tell of what kind but we needed to stop him, the outter portals were starting to light up under his magic. Sylthana led the charge, Braum was firing arrows, Arlen rushed in. A fireball scorched a few of the others but nothing too serious. The effects of the bloodstar were strange, I swear our magics and blows were hitting a lot harder than normal. The creature fell quickly and we swiftly began to try and shutdown the portals.
Good thing I paid attention in class with Algus. I led the efforts and we were able to back out the rituals and perform a feedback to shut down the power flowing through the portals. The main portal, an arch similar to the ones in the other cave collapsed without its power to maintain it any longer.
Some of the guards accompanied by my father found us there. He looked it over and nodded approvingly at my work. “You paid attention in class I see”. I was rather proud of what we accomplished. We regroupped up above with the remainder of the corpse. It was decided we were going to relocate to a safehouse. The Bloodstar was visible for miles and would be present for at least a week before fading.
Baruu joined us at the vault, the Corpse were skeptical and curious, They had never before seen a friendly troll. Baruu continued to amuse with his simplicity and accompanied us for a time through the swamps.

1437
We made it to a cave network an hour away from the Dread Vault. I first helped lay down my father, he was quite tired from the day’s exertions and I was quite worried about him. Some of the Corpse members were still in shock of seeing Elibus again and they seemed to be cautious around our group. Levin had some scouts out and we were taking a breather before returning.
I confronted Arlen about what he had said to me. I was quite hurt that he would try and blame me for what happened especially surrounded by people who could be our enemies. I felt like a lot of the trust I had in him had been shattered and I was again being betrayed.
Turns out the moron had been so drunk when I spoke about my past he didn’t remember a word of it. I’m very confused about what I am feeling now. I slapped him and he called me childish, I suppose he is right but I do have a right to be angry with him. Funny enough we ended up sharing a jug of wine the Corpse had stashed here in their hideout. Despite myself I like the fool, if what he said was in ignorance I guess I can’t hold it against him.
That one crazy old man from the corpse who knew Algus who we thought lost in the battle showed up partway through the day. One of the fliers had grabbed him and he apparently beat it to death while flying over the swamp. Just caked in mud I would have thought him a monster if I hadn’t heard his voice. Crazy.
We rested through the night before Gustav arrived with reinforcements. It was a tense meeting between Levin and Gustav but appears to have ended well with the two of them rejoining forces. Pendragon scouts were spotted monitoring the bloodstar, we certainly made a splash locally, so much for being covert.
We will be making a return to Servilla soon, the city has come under martial law from the Pendragons and it will be very hard to move around at the moment.

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