Flames of War

Ozruk's Journal - Part 11
Death and Rebirth

I was awoken a few hours later

Siegfried entered the room along with one of the battlemages who was was watching me closely for even the slightest movement from me. I sat up slowly, my shoulders were aching from the position I had been laying in. Then Cliu entered the room, quite a bit shorter than Siegfried with full plate engraved with the Pendragon crest. With all the gilding there was little question of who he was.
They just stared at me for a moment before Siegfried told him I was the captured tiefling.
Cliu asked me for my name and I told him “Beleneth” he turned to Siegfried and then told him I was a Delenian spy before asking what I was doing in his lands. Before I could answer I saw and felt a familiar spell as a zone of truth settled on me.
Before I could speak he held up his hand and told me that he knew I was a spellcaster and understood this spell and that he wasn’t going to put up that, he expected direct answers
“My first answer is I am not a spy”

He responded with saying that I was Delenian so I was a spy even if I did not call it that. It seemed that he had already made up his mind about what I was despite my saying bluntly that I wasn’t while in a zone of truth.

I showed the fragment of the flame of war and demanded to know how I came to possess it. I tried to tell him About Luci, about Almoria and how the flame was lost and found but he did not care for it. He didn’t say it but it was quite clear he was accusing me of theft since it was owned by the pendragons. At this accusation I tried to protest but it seemed that he did not care about why. He wasn’t open to listening to me even knowing I was forced to speak the truth. He cared not for how we carried the flame of war.

He demanded to know who were my companions and this I would not answer, I would never betray my friends. I may have made mistakes in my life but this was not one I would make. They had accepted me and cared for me despite my problems. I could see he only wished to capture them and question them as well. I would not betray them to this man. Again he demanded answers forcefully and I refused to answer. He turned from me and said “very well” as the guards closed in on me.

The only thing I could think to say was “This is gonna hurt” before the guards proceeded to start beating me. I remember vomiting after the second gut punch, the sticks kept hitting me in the body and head. I tried to twist away but they were all around me. I fell out of the chair and caught a boot that split my lip. It didn’t stop until I blacked out.

It hurt so much. I don’t know how I kept my mind intact. I was stretched across the top of a table with my arms bound above my head. At first they just beat me. Striking my body with reeds before they switched to the iron rod. Quick blows to my sides and I felt the crunch of my bones. They cracked my ribs, every breath came with ragged pain. They demanded to know who my companions were. I just shook my head. I was struck again and again, each blow raised a sickenly dark bruise on my body. My legs were almost completely covered by the bruises. I felt them put a block under my foot. I didn’t realize what they were doing until my foot was shattered. Spasms of pain rocked me. Every time they moved my foot It felt like it was being ripped off. Another blow, another crunch as my ankle followed. I lost control of my bladder and fouled myself in my agony. I blacked out.
I just as suddenly awoke again. They had healed me to bring me back, thrown cold water on me to clean away the smell, I could only sob in terror. They kept asking me over and over again, “who are your companions? Where are they?” I don’t know how I refused to answer. My head was strapped down. I don’t remember clearly but I think I was striking my head against the table in my pain.
The interrogator grabbed my broken foot and twisted it. I screamed again and vomited what little was still in my stomach. He pulled out a set of pliers. Such a cruel instrument. My fingernails were ripped out, He used them to bite and twist my flesh, my breasts were damaged horribly. Every time I blacked out I awoke again with healing magic fading.
What cruel gods would allow this to continue?

All this time Siegfried stood there dispassionately watching me suffer.

They took a break, food was brought to me. Siegfried told me I was brave but I should just tell them to end it. They were just going to kill me when I was no use to them. Better I suffer than they capture the others. I’m paying to price for my shame, my lies, my corruption. Better I die than my friends.

A mage came into the room. I had seen him before, with Cliu. He did something subtle, for a moment I was thinking he was friendly but then I remembered who he was with. I glared at him. I saw him cast a spell on me. I hardened my mind, pushed back, I saw him push it through but my dark power rose in response. He was rather perturbed and cast something else at me but again I resisted his influence to control or read me. He shrugged to Siegfried and left the room.
I slumped in exhaustion. I was so tired, everything hurt. I would never walk again with the damage done to my body. Even if they let me live it would be as a cripple.

I was told they would begin again soon. I sobbed and immediately tried to use my magic, not to save myself but to end it. I tried to knock myself out, to kill myself with my own spells. I felt the magic snatched away by the battle mage guarding me. I tried again but this time they took my hand and with a sharp motion twisted my fingers back until they snapped like twigs. I cried shamelessly in pain and frustration.
Again they asked me questions, again I somehow refused them. I to not know how. I was on the edge of breaking, I knew I could not do this anymore, I just wanted it to end.
They suddenly stopped and left. I don’t know why or on what signal.

Several guards entered and they undid my bindings. They seized my arms and forced me to my knees. I watched as Siegfried drew his sword and told me that he was giving me a moment to make my last prayers. I felt the cold tip of his sword at the top of my spine. I was so very scared.
I babbled, hoping for a reaction, he just said “curious last words” before he thrust.

The pain was mercifully brief. Like cold ice, sharp and swift but then my vision grew dim and faded and pain seemed to fade away with the light. It took but a few seconds.

My next sight was of the stars. I could look all around me and all I could see was an infinite void filled with stars. I couldn’t see or feel my own body. I somehow realized it was gone. I didn’t feel anymore pain, I didn’t feel hot or cold, I felt relief, it was all over. A growing sense of awe was starting to flow into me. Looking at the stars and realizing just how tiny I was. I wasn’t afraid though. The idea seemed alien in that moment. Feelings I had before of shame or anger were gone, it was peaceful. It was out of my hands and I had done my part so I surrendered myself to the gods.

The moments were timeless, There was nothing to judge, I may have been there a second or a thousand years, I could not tell, I just hung there amongst the stars.

Suddenly I saw a single eye among the stars looking at me. I couldn’t tell how far away it was or if it had always been there, I don’t think it was but I do not truly know. I looked at it for a time, then it drew closer, or maybe I was pulled towards it, with no sensation of the air on my skin and no point of reference either way might have happened.

I was before the eye, I couldn’t see anything else, no features, nothing. I felt tiny again, but not in a bad way, I wasn’t afraid of what was before me.

I heard a voice, the first sound I had heard in this place, it was soft, melodious and warm. “My child, what exactly, why are you here? This is not how we are supposed to meet”

I found I could speak, my voice was quiet and timid “I wouldn’t betray my friends”

The voice continued “As brave as you were I hope you will get the chance to tell them face to face.”

I could only react in shock, “but… but I’m dead.”

“No, no you are not”

“I… felt it”

It couldn’t see it but it felt like she was smiling as again she said “no, you are not”

Suddenly my eyes opened and I took a gasp of air. I was looking at the sky with long, tall grass waving over my head. I slowly lifted my head and looked down to see my body once more, completely naked and unharmed. I held my hand before my face and flexed my fingers that an eternity ago had been sickenly twisted and broken to prevent me from using my magic against myself. I couldn’t see a mark on it and my fingers felt just fine.
I sat up, covering my nakedness as best I could, and looked over the tall grass to see I was in a field near a forest, Nothing stood out as a place to go so I sat down to think for a moment. I began checking my body over, I bore none of the injuries I had suffered in the last few hours, but I realized it went far deeper than that.

At first it seemed odd but I realized something was missing. As I thought about it I realized something was different, my power, that sickly disgusting taint on my soul was gone. The power was still there but it felt changed. Rather then a feeling of being dirty it felt… warm? It felt comfortable, like a blanket on a cold winter day. I couldn’t understand it.

I sat there for a time, at one point I felt like I was being watched but looking around I couldn’t see anything. I had no idea where I was or if I was even still in Lodis so I had no idea which direction to go in. After a time while thinking I heard a horse, cautiously I peered over the grass to see a pair of riders coming my direction. I thought about laying low but then I realized oen of the figures was Sylthana. Staying low I raised my hand and called out and they quickly adjusted course towards me, Sylthana jumped off and ran towards me pulling her cloak off which she covered me in even as we clung to each other and hugged tearfully.

She asked me how I had escaped and her face suddenly took on a look of shock when I told her I hadn’t, They had hurt me, and I remembered the execution, that I had died.

She shook herself out of it and we returned to Servilla. The other man with her was one of the Corpse men that I had seen briefly at one point. Out of politeness he was looking away. My father had used divination to locate me which was probably that moment of feeling like I was being watched and the Corpse guided Sylthana to me.

We returned to Servilla, smoke was rising from the city and I heard sounds of on going battle. We avoided the conflict and made our way to the Fox and Goose. There I was quickly taken to my father who was overjoyed to see my safely returned. The rest of my companions were also present and they immediately began inquiring what had happened. I told them everything. My father made a comment that I had seen the Nether and I would ask him more about that afterwards.

Sylthana said I was the fourth. Her church has recorded three other times somebody returned from death although she did not know any of the particulars of those incidents having occurred in the distant past.

I told them that something had changed as well, that Malkior, the demon was no longer a part of me. Enrico asked if that meant I would have to learn to fight differently but I shook my head telling him I still felt like there was something there and to demonstrate I pulled in an eldritch bolt and then stared in shock.

Where before it had been a miasma of green energy my hand was now enclosed in a purple energy with streaks of purple energy flowing throughout. I stared at it wordlessly until I was shaken from my revelry by my father say “You are a seeker of the void”

He explained the Seekers were a secretive order from the second age in the service of the Void. Their traditions and histroy had been oral and they had disappeared entirely after the Cataclysm. I was probably the first Seeker of the third age. What this means I have no idea. In the short term it explained what happened. With my death the contract with Malkior ended, Beleneth had granted me a new power to replace it. I was free of one but in the service of another. I am fine with this, she freed me.

I left for a time with Aderyn to change into something other than just the cloak. She was the closest in size to me so I was able to wear her spare robes for a time. I returned Sylthana’s cloak to her and my father gave me his to wear for the time being.

I found out the others hadn’t had any idea of how to break me out and had moved ahead with the attack on the Crows Flock. It had been a trap and I found out that it was rakasha causing the trouble in servilla. It made a lot of sense, the others didn’t know much about Rakashas so I filled them in on how dangerous they could be.
Braum had nearly died during the battle having fallen over the edge of the burning building but Ulrith of the Corpse had shielded him with his own body after receiving mortal wounds from an elemental the Rakasha had summoned.

Fortunately they had escaped the trap, the Rakasha disappeared, knowing what I did about them he was long gone, they sow chaos then run off to do it again somewhere else, that particular one was likely not even in Lodis anymore.

During the battle Ip’Nix had disappeared and my father had gone into a rage, realizing it meant something had happened to me, dispelling the mansion spell I had been hidden in and killing everybody who was thrown out of it. That explained why I couldn’t sense Ip’Nix, a pocket dimension would effectively block us.

The Corpse had united and risen up, the Pendragons were in retreat it seemed, some of the buildings burning had been set to confuse and slow their enemies. I found out there was some 400 corpse in town but there was several thousand strong in the main city.

I tried to return my father’s cloak but he declined saying I would be in more need of it. I told him I didn’t feel right wearing it since my vows to the Vanguard were also ended when I died. He dismissed my concerns and told me to decide for myself.
I needed to borrow his component pouch, lacking anything of my own I needed a way to re-summon Ip’Nix. My father understood and gave me the pouch and a crystalline arcane orb to use as a focus. Although I was no longer bound to Malkior the spirit that was my familiar was still there. I called him out and he appeared, seeming to be in shock at my return to living. I hugged him, overjoyed to see my little friend.
I cared for him and I offered him a choice to be free. If he took it I would never call on him again, luckily for me he decided to stay with me, I had been treating him well so he was happy to stay.
I returned it to my father and he told me to take what I needed and to keep the focus. I thanked him for everything he had done. He also gave me a satchel bag for my supplies, I would later find he had slipped in some gold for me which I would make use of to reequip myself.

Lacking any good alternatives we decided we needed to get Elmdore out of the city and back to Gainsbrough lands as quickly as possible. I had discovered some of my abilities had shifted a little and I was able to change my appearance easily. It was an illusion but I could do it in a heartbeat without drawing on my power at all. I was worried about the Pendragon’s hearing about me being alive so I decided to keep my appearance hidden all the time. I got a few odd looks when I made myself look similar to Aderyn that I could be a sister to her. Most of my companions were curious but figured out who I was immediately. Being just an illusion I just made myself appear half-elven like her, hiding my horns, tail, hair and skin tone.

One thing I’ve realized after it all happened and I had time for the shock to wear off.

I’m not afraid anymore.

Things that had me secretly terrified and ashamed are gone. I remember what Ertealean did to me that night. I remember how I felt entering into the pact to save my own life. I remember everything that Cliu’s soldiers did to me, every crunch of bone and cutting of flesh.

I remember everything, but I have no emotional attachment. I’m not ashamed of Ertealean’s rape. I’m not scared of Malkior’s power, I’m not flashing back to the torture. When I was reborn somethings were left behind. Perhaps a measure of the purification souls undergo under Nephtas’ care?

My mother has given me my life back in more ways than just physically. I can think clearly once more. She didn’t take away my emotion, I still am saddened by the death of Luci, I still love Algus and Sylthana and care deeply for all of my companions. She has given me a way to grow again. She is not directly in my life but I think she still loves me.

Ozruk's Journal - Part 10

We now know who was behind this trouble. Sevil, the fourth commander of the corpse and owner of the Crows Flock. He had convinced Levin to assist in the kidnapping on Elmdore Gainsborough, heir to the Gainsborough family and close friend of Cliu Pendragon. Then apparently ditched Levin to take the fall and absconded with the young count. He had been the one conspiring with the Pendragons and causing issues and dissent within the Corpse. We have a lead on a warehouse that seems to be pretty well guarded by Sevil’s men.
We managed to slip into town and back to our base at the Fox & Goose. Liram is back though her eyes still show the signs of her grief. I got my father to his room and laid him down, he was still tired from his efforts at the vault and the last few days and I would hate to think of him hurting himself trying to protect us.
Randyl is gone, we are not sure where he disappeared to but can’t seem to raise him using the cloaks so either he is running silent or out of range. His advice would be beneficial right now but we will have to rely on our Corpse allies.
With increased patrols all over moving around the city will be difficult. The crazy old man Broxis will guide us through an old defunct drainage system under the city into the warehouse district. Guess it was something built way back when they thought the town was going to be larger and design flaws kept it from working so it ended up abandoned. Conveniently an old dry well behind the Fox & Goose is connected to it.
Sylthana used one of her spells to consult the gods and got an odd answer that we would find something, just not what we are looking for.
We headed out tonight. The corpse is going to provide us with a distraction for the soldiers by working up the townsfolk. I hope nobody gets injured.

We snuck out back and down the well. The grate was popped open and we proceeded within. These things were massive. They really over planned this, seems bigger than even a city three times larger would need. They must have been expecting a lot of growth that never happened. The drains were pretty dry and we made our way through them quickly. Occasionally Broxis would stop and check the intersections before picking a path. I was glad he knew the way though in retrospect we should have paid it more heed.
We finally came to a ladder up and he motioned us for silence. I watched him slip up and slowly lift the cover to peer around. After a few tense minutes, he opened it up and signaled for us to all come up quickly. We were several blocks away from the target but this was the best point to come out at. I sent Ip’Nix up on overwatch as we began to move our way through the streets. It came in handy when I was able to spot somebody was coming around a corner on a side street. Somehow we made it without being seen to an alley opposite the warehouse.
Two guards were standing there chatting. Broxis cautioned us that we had to somehow take them out without alerting any that may be inside. I clever idea hit me and I used the sleeves of many garments that I still had to change my outfit into something a prostitute wore. Quickly casting the Friends cantrip I seductively walked out towards the guards. I could see them both grin and one of them approached me as I flashed a fake smile at him. I could see the one in the back get his head smacked into the side of the building and I kept the one in front distracted. As he reached me I kept my eyes on him to not alert him and I just saw his eyes go wide as the dagger hit him from behind. He was down in a second. Broxis knew his business. The other rejoined us and I could see Sylthana was looking at me disapprovingly for my dress, I wanted to laugh at how silly it all was. She was shaking her head just like a mother would, I just grinned mischievously before changing it back.
With the guards out of the way we carefully checked and slipped our way inside. The place was strangely barren and empty. A ground level door in the back and a raised office also in the back were the only things of note. I sent Ip’Nix forward as we surveyed the area. It smelt like a trap but I couldn’t see anything. Ip’Nix reported back that the upstairs office there was somebody tied to a chair. I quickly hopped into his senses and I could see a man tied down, his ankle looked to be broken and he was beaten up badly. I quickly whispered to him that we there to help him out. He jerked briefly but I could see the slight nod.
We worked our way back, a couple of the others went and got him free. I stood watch below with Braum covering the lower door in case of an ambush.
They brought him down, he was in bad shape but we realized this was Elmdore Gainsborough. The missing count was in rough shape. This just kept getting odder and odder, there hadn’t been any ransom demands and he was beaten up as though they had been questioning or torturing him. He was in rough shape so we knew we had to get him to a secure location, Sylthana advised the Church of Nephtais as our best bet.
While making our way back we were spotted. A group of guards called out the alarm as the last of us were entering the drain tunnels. Broxis was caught outside and he slammed the cover shut before we heard him roar and attack.
Little time to waste we didn’t question it and moved out. Without his guidance, we had no idea where to go and ended up quite lost. Eventually, we found our way close by and we were able to find the market district. From there we made our way over to the church without too much issue. The church hierarchic I think knew who we had rescued but knew that it was better that she play dumb and protect her acolytes and priests. A very tall half orc woman she certainly had a strong presence.

The town is crawling with the Pendragon soldiers now. This is not a force sent here to help out, they were laying in wait to move in. We began working our way back when we a bird showed up and turned into the messenger statue again. Sylthana looked it over and let us know the situation near the Tavern had gotten worse and for some reason was escalating into a near riot after they took the Alchemist Morgwein Stoneflask, more or less a leader of the townsfolk, off to the mayor. We couldn’t think of why that would be so we began making our way to the mayor’s house, Morgwein was respected by the people and we needed him to quell the events.
Unfortunately, we got spotted out by some guards. They only spotted me so I played along and let the others disappear into the shadows. They sent up a flare as the others continued away and I was taken to an area nearby where the guards appeared to be stationed. The commander, a man named Siegfried asked me a few questions about why I was violating curfew and I made up a story about being new in town and having gotten a bit lost. He seemed to think about it and then they released me and told me to get home and out of sight.
I quickly got out of there and slipped away down a side street to find the others who were having some difficulty with the guards as the Mayor’s place. Again I got a bit too smart for my own good and changed my outfit to look like a Pendragon officers uniform. I stepped out with Arlen playing the role of a guard and bluffed my way to having them bring Morgwein out to us. It worked successfully and I was rather proud of myself for this idea. We quickly filled in Morgwein as we went, he seemed to think us rather odd but whatever.
Reaching the Tavern it was tense. Soldiers lined one side and an angry crowd was worked up facing them. Aderyn and Enrico slipped into the crowd to try and help work people down. Sylthana frowned as she used her detect magic and sensed the use of a spell being used here. I went forward with Braum to confront the soldiers. I was hoping the uniform would give me some leverage but that got dashed right away when I locked eyes with the same commander who I had spoken to before.
He was rather livid to see me again and disguised as a Pendragon soldier. I tried to warn him about the casters in the crowd but his own people didn’t sense them. I heard him order me captured so I tried to escape with dimension door only to feel the magic torn away even as it formed. I was surrounded and slammed into the ground. Braum wisely raised his hands and backed away into the crowd. Soldiers surrounded me and a bag was thrown over my head as they pulled me away from the square.

I don’t know where they took me but eventually, the bag was removed and I found myself being brought into a small cell with a single chair in the middle of the room. Wherever they took me was extra-planer, I lost my connection with Ip’Nix even as he was tailing me. He had tried unsuccessfully to grab the flame and horn from my bag but it was too difficult for him.

Siegfried stood there with one of those battlemages, He told me that I would be questioned by Cliu Pendragon shortly and to rest here. I offered no resistance, hoping my compliance would be seen in a good light. I hadn’t hurt any of the soldiers or even tried to. They brought in a cot but didn’t untie my hands. It was fairly uncomfortable trying to lay down with one’s arms tied back but somehow I managed to catch some sleep.

Ozruk's Journal Part 9

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.


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.


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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

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.

Ozruk's Journal - Part 8


We finally set out from Dunbar heading north across the border. Things still hadn’t heated up yet politically. Lines were being drawn but armies were not yet moving against each other so the most we could expect was patrols and scouts keeping an eye for enemy movement. We were back to being simple adventurers, a group of misfits seeking lost riches and risking our lives. Traveling across the border was uneventful, it took us looking at the map to even figure out we had crossed over, all these roads through the woods seem pretty much the same. We camped out the first night. Not one of those morons even after all this time carry a tent. I shared with Sylthana but I think they were starting to get annoyed with not having one and decided to restock.

A small village just a small detour off of the main road called Bokav was a common layover for travelers so we headed over there today. It was hilarious watching Braum manage to annoy the halfling merchant and getting his prices jacked up while enrico was snagging a discount. I grabbed some more rations and didn’t even try to negotiate I was laughing so hard, he gave me a fair price so I wasn’t upset. We secured some rooms and I’m taking a bath quick before dinner.


We are eating and suddenly a note gets dropped off for us by the innkeeper, supposedly one of his serving girls was given it. Somebody wanted to speak to braum and his purple haired friend in private. This was unsettling so we decided to check it out but cautioned the others that if we needed to we were making a fast exit.

The room was the room of a knight we had seen in the common room eating earlier when we had arrived. He greeted us and told us his name was Arlen Vallet, a justicar of the church of Ayora, and he was investigating the incident in Belmora. I was ready to bolt at that moment. I knew the church was going to move against us but to find us out here was hard to believe. He kept trying to assure us he meant us no harm but he described that through various contacts and rumors he had put together a picture of a Luci Pendragon’s companions, a half elf scholar, a massive bald man and a purple haired purple skinned tiefling woman. He tried to win us over with a zone of truth spell but we had no way of knowing if he was resistant to its effects or not and kept our mouths shut.

This man kept telling us he could help us, that he was looking for answers to what had happened to his mentor, a Gustov Reinhardt who was there as a guard to the cardinal but we could honestly say we had never heard of him. We told him just the minimum, things that would be public, that a pair of monsters had fought in the city, that we had nothing to do with the deaths of the people or of his mentor. I could tell he knew we withholding more information. He tried to reassure us of his intentions and seemed to think he could offer us some protection from the Inquisition of the church. We tried to decline but he seems intent on trying to follow us. I don’t know what game he is playing, he seems desperate for answers but I know quite well how one can use such appearances to deceive others.

We left to find Sylthana outside ready to lend her aid and we returned to the common room. This Arlen followed us and seems to be trying to invite himself to join us. Reluctantly we tried to ignore him. I noticed this old man watching us with interest and using Ip’Nix I tried to speak with him but he just said “if you have something to say you can come over and say it”. I was a bit miffed, this day was not going well but decided to see what was up. Turns out he is a scholar and just thought it odd to see a group with both a tiefling and an Aasimar. Until that moment I did not realize Arlen was an Aasimar but glancing back you could see the slight glow. I rejoined the others and after Arlen retired we decided to try and slip out early before he awoke.

Well Braum is a clumsy ox. Managed to make a racket sneaking out and woke up Arlen. Changing plans we had breakfast. That scholar joined us to chat. Name of durai which seemed familiar. A historian as it turns out so I asked him about the valiants and eventually asked him about the nature of the Oracles like Beleneth. Not a whole lot of amazing stuff, the valiants were Arturus’ companions when he was trying to unite the kingdoms of the time. The prohpecy of the sleeping king came up and he was surprised that we knew of it. This led to the discussion of the ancient temple of Ayora that we had found north of Longsaddle. He was most interested in a mostly untouched temple from the second age and explained much of the iconography we had seen was used by Ayora at that time, even the demon heads which were a symbol of either looking through her or past her for some reason. We had revealed our old hometown as being longsaddle so he asked if we knew of a Mage who lived there named Algus. I now remembered who he was. Algus and Durai would exchange letters and books occasionally. I remember because Durai would always wrap the parcels together with this silky ribbon of different colors that I would swipe right away for my hair. I told him Algus was my adoptive father and that he had left for Belghast. We cautioned him that if he did explore the temple to bring some guards, we had killed the cultists and their undead but who knows if anything moved in there in the meantime. He eventually departed to pack his bags, heading eastward to get away from the civil war that was threatening.

We tried to get rid of Arlen. He already knew the name of Alan Pierce from his mentors letters. We revealed to him that it was a cult that had infiltrated the church that caused the death, that they had summoned the monster and that Alan pierce was the one behind it and was now dead.

The fool still keeps insisting that we need his aid. Sylthana obviously does not like him much and pointed out he had departed his post to become a wandering Justicar and had no authority to aid us. Seems he will not be dissuaded so I asked Sylthana if she could prepare a zone of truth herself.

A few miles out of Bokav we found a spot off to the side and Sylthana cast her spell. Arlen stepped in and we began grilling him. According to Sylthana he was telling the truth. He had no connection to any official investigation, this was a personal matter for him, he had garnered our descriptions through rumors, contacts and just plain luck of who Luci Pendragon’s companions were.

Guess I took pity on him and since the spell compelled him to be honest I decided to throw him a bone. We told him Alan pierce was a fake idenity, that it was Johan Roselion but Johan had been dead for more than 10 years and some kinda of demon was impersonating him. He wanted to know how we knew about that so it came out that we had word from Elibus. He mulled it over and asked if that was the same Elibus who was the hero of the hundred years war and how did we know the great hero? I decided to have some fun with the fool and told him “You know my adoptive father Algus? Well that’s an alias as well.” His jaw about hit the floor while we mounted back up.

During the ride Arlen asked about us, he certainly asks a lot of questions. He noticed all of us had the same cloak clasp and seemed to make the connection that we were a lot more than just travelers. He was told that we are an adventuring party and had something like that in common. He got suspicious about that and asked what our adventuring companies name was. I’m kinda proud of myself for pulling this one out at the last minute “The Valiants”.

Later on we were another half day out of Servilla as it got dark. We setup camp and Aderyn made use of one of her spells that concealed the campsite entirely from view with dark fog and blocked our noise. We had heard about bandits on the road and were taking no chances. A nearby hill we saw other campfires so I sent Ip’Nix ahead to take a look. Arlen keeps looking at me funny when I report back on what my familiar sees or I look through his senses. Looked to just be a family group of traveling performers. They didn’t seem to be a threat so we decided to leave them be.

A deer crashed through the barrier and right into Enrico’s new tent and was pretty confused before bolting out of the camp. Before it fled somebody noticed the arrow in the deer’s flank. Shortly after a pair of extremely nervous hunters slowly made their way through the barrier. Seeing us they raised their bows but we were already alerted and prepared, thankfully they meant no harm and had just been seeking out the deer they had shot. Turns out they are originally from Enrico’s home country of Slagos. I’ve heard of these groups of travelers but Longsaddle was a bit out of their way so we tended to not see them. They hurried on their way and we settled in for the night.

Ozruk's Journal Part 7
Aftermath of Dunbar

As it turns out Kalana will be okay. Sylthana was able to remove the curse from her body and she now rests. She still lost her arm but Sylthana says she will send word for a lifemender of Nephtias to come to Gallione to regenerate it.

We left her to sleep with Gaspar standing watch over her although he looked ready to fall over himself I was avoiding dealing with him at all.

I could see Ryland looking curiously at me and back at my half packed tent but I just brushed it off with a “I changed my mind” statement and a shrug.

We made our way down to Dunbar, it was a sad sight, some of the houses were still smoldering from the fires the night before and the streets were a scene of devastation. We made our way to the encampment of the 10th company that was doing the cleanup. It was a bad sight. They had the bodies lined up and covered with sheets, many scavenged from the houses since it was very apparent they had run out. Already nearly 200 dead were arranged there. The company commander was extremely haggard and she did not look like she had slept much at all.

We were taken to the survivors, there were three of them but one, the innkeeper had disappeared in the night. The mayor was one and the chamberlain was the last. The mayor had been unaffected by what happened and blockaded himself into the town hall. The chamberlain though had been and she was unconscious and strapped down on the bed. Sylthana did try a remove curse on her but although it worked on Kalana it would not work on this poor girl.

The mayor didn’t have much to offer, but at Sylthana’s request he went down to begin identifying the dead. He was pretty much in shock so moving around and doing something would be good.

We decided to check out two of the areas that were of interest, Samwell’s shop and the Inn since we had seen furniture from there down in the chamber of horrors.

Myself, Ryland and Sylthana went over to check out samwell’s shop when we noticed that the lights were on. Quickly we gathered up the others and headed on in.

The sight in there was a surprise. The shelves were emptied out and bare. And sitting on the countertop at the end of the room was a pair of imps, one red and the other blue. They spoke to us and said they wished to parley. Being cautious we listend to what they had to say. Gash the red one did all the talking. The blue one gash told us is named Osho and he normally doesn’t talk. Their master wants the horn and was willing to give us the cure to the poison that had destroyed this village. Knowing how bad of an idea this was we refused them. They just shrugged and said we should leave now, they had been preparing to burn the house down when we arrived. Osho seemed to be pushing forward an alchemist fire vial though Gash kept stopping him as not yet.

They repeated that we should leave, now that the parlay was over they were not obligated to leave us unharmed. I verified that the parlay was completed before I unloaded my eldritch bolt on Osho, I was kinda hoping to kill them both before they could start the fire but my first one just grazed him. I finished him off but gash knocked the vial down. Then the doors slammed shut and locked from the outside. Grinning Gash said there was a third imp in the room as well before he disappeared. All the windows were boarded up and the place was locked down and now burning so we fled up the back stairs to the second floor. We grabbed a few loose books and papers but all the important stuff was long gone. A few windows up here weren’t secured and braum went flying out and we could all just hear the crunch as he landed on his shield. The others climbed out and dropped the story to the ground. All except that idiot ryland who kept insisting he wasn’t going until I was safely out. I was trying to grab anything important so I tried to get him to go but he wasn’t having it. One quick word and I teleported safely to the ground.

Then the building collapsed. Ryland managed to make it halfway out the flaming door in wildshape and we had to drag him the rest of the way. He’s out of it and gonna be resting in the field hospital with some burn ointment for a while I think.

While Ryland rested we went back to investigate the inn. The place had been solidly boarded up but I was able to break a window and get a visual to allow me to teleport inside. Aderyn followed suit and the two of us were able to move things around enough that the door could be opened. Strangely enough the innkeeper had been found here and was the only survivor from here but the things stacked against the windows and doors were far too heavy for any one person to move. I didn’t think of it but Braum pointed that out. Along with the fact this place was pretty well sealed up like somebody had warning that something was going to happen.

Couldn’t find a whole lot, Enrico was busy checking upstairs and most of the rooms were closed and locked except the one she had been in before climbing out the window. In the basement however we found the cook sprawled out with his head caved in. He had been running from something upstairs in the kitchen that had attacked him.

Biggest surprise however was in her office. While we were in there we could hear voices, we soon found the source was a covered up crystal behind the desk. We could hear them plainly, they were talking about hearing voices as well and we quickly realized they were members of the 8th company that was securing the castle. Speaking up we were able to establish a line of communication back to the castle. The company wizard soon joined them on their end and we ascertained that these were some form of divination crystal allowing for quick communication. Certainly proved the suspicions about the innkeeper being in on it, she was likely reporting directly to Johan while he was there.

He then told us that one of the crystals showed a view that looked like the mayors office. Worried he to was in on it we went to the town hall and inspected the place. Took a bit of searching but our fears were groundless, it was hidden behind a façade and calling out to it we were able to figure out it was only used for spying, the mage couldn’t hear us, just see us.

Given everything that had happened we decided we were going to make our base of operations the inn. The castle was crowded with the troops and now that we had secured Gallione for them we had no more reason for cover.

The 10th had been working for a day and a night so it was Braums idea that we should give them a chance to relax so we let the commander know and we opened the inn for business. It was quite the night, Enrico was doing drinking songs, Braum and Sylthana were pouring the drinks and Aderyn and myself made ourselves busy serving tables. Given all we had to do was keep bring full mugs it was pretty easy work and people’s spirits were quite lifted. Towards the end Sylthana even did some kinda of dancing combined with her spirit guardians so it was quite a show although I don’t know if I could really get into the spirit of the belkin style.

We closed up fairly late but it was all good and I think the troops were grateful for the distraction. It was very pleasant to just forget everything and be normal with my friends.

We eventually headed up to the keep the next day, much faster with our horses and Ryland rejoined us looking only a little worse for wear. Kalana was up and looking a lot better despite the loss of her arm. The asshole Gaspar was asleep in the chair nearby which was fine by me. Did not care to deal with him. We spoke with her a bit about what had happened. When everything had hit she managed to keep some sembalance of sanity and at the edge of the woods she banished herself to escape, that’s why she disappeared and the trail Ryland and Gaspar had followed went cold. This is why Sylthana was able to remove the poison from her, the banishment changed the poison so it became a curse and thus able to be removed with her magic. When she described what she saw though it was frightening, she saw Samwell but as she shifted out she saw his true form. Eight eyes, four arms, massive and no connection to the astral sea. We had no idea what this monstrosity is. We mentioned our encounter earlier with the imps and she I told her the two’s names were Gash and Osho her eyes went wide and she began searching one of her book bags. Eventually pulling out a fairly small book that was beyond ancient. She told us it was written by a prominent demonologist back around the turning of the third age. It was difficult the read and translate because of the codes and writing style used, as though trying to record and conceal the information at the same time. She found the page and turned it to me as the only one who could read infernal.

“Gash, Osho and Villan, harbringers of Makaval the Philosopher, second and wisest of the valiants”

Samwell was a Valiant, and powerful beyond belief. We were all stunned by this revalation. I had thought the valiants were legendary champions who saved the word. Guess I’ve been wrong about a lot of things recently.

She gave me the book since it was evident I might have more use for it but we had to make a copy of this thing, it was quite frankly a priceless work and we were heading into unknown territory. I managed to hit up Denam to get it safely back to Belghast castle and get Algus to make a duplicate for us. He was a bit annoyed with me but seemed to soften up when I explained the urgency of the request.

Aderyn decided to stay with Kalana and help her get setup, Sylthana had already arranged for a Lifemender of Nephitas to come to the castle to restore her lost arm.

On our way out Ryland wanted to perform a little ritual. Amonst his people they had a ceremony representing change, casting out and burning something the represented what they wanted to put behind them to move forward. In an area off of the main road he setup. Then when the fire was burning hot I watched him put his maul into the fire. He spoke that his whole life he had let his rage consume him, that he acted on instinct without cause or a goal. He had spoken with Gaspar and had decided he needed to change, to find a purpose. As he stood there watching the fire I felt sorry for him, lost. On an impulse I walked up beside him and handed him my staff. I told him “You have two sides, maybe it is time to connect with your druidic half” My staff was nothing special, just a wooden walking staff, but appropriate for a druid. He took it and seemed very thoughtful before smiling and telling me thank you.

He wanted to stay with his thoughts for a bit longer so we departed.

A few hours later we were on the edge of Dunbar, a mass grave had been prepared by the soldiers of the 10th and Sylthana was wearing her ceremonial robes as she began the rituals to see their souls off. Nephitas ceremonies are not very long but there were a great many fallen. Men, women, children. 268 had perished in the night of insanity. They lit the funeral pyres and the flames roared for hours. We all stayed and watched, it was all we could offer them. They cleaned up afterwards and we returned to the inn.

There would be no merriment this evening, the 10th guard was rejoining their companions at the castle. We were not of the guard and were free to do as we wished, and right now we wished to have a drink. Ryland rejoined us and as the evening wore on Sylthana got VERY intoxicated, come to think of it I had never seen her get completely plastered like that. She decided it would be funny to pick up Enrico and then throw him at Ryland to play catch. That did not end well at all as I discovered exactly how agile and dexterous a drunken half-orc was (answer: not very). Enrico ended up swatted out of the air and into a table and walked away pissed off at both of them holding a bloody nose.

During the course of the evening Sylthana came out and told me that part of the reason she stuck around was she saw in me her daughter that she wasn’t there for because of her duties. I told her the feeling was mutual. I had lost my adoptive mother when I was 6 and I had never had a mother figure to look up to growing up. Oddly enough I reliazed given she had been the midwife for Almoria she too was a follower of Nephitas. I had a small charm she had given me, an older symbol embossed on thin tin that was used as a symbol of the lifebringers. I told Sylthana that her daughter was lucky to have had her as a mother, that she was evidently loved and looked up to her to want to follow into the faith, she obviously understood her sacrifices. I told Sylthana I loved her as well, she had been there for me when I stood in a very dark place. I still feel guilty about the lies and deceptions. I want to tell her but I don’t want to lose her respect either.

I awoke to the most god awful racket I have ever heard, my head hurt and when I opened the door I find Enrico doing some bawdy song about Timur and bar wenches doing it with seagulls or something, a giant illusion of a country flag is floating there and sylthana is looking at Enrico like he is dumb, he keeps blaring away so I kinda sorta accidently intentionally used a new spell I had figured out and banished him. He disappeared, everything went quiet, Sylthana looked at me with a raised eyebrow and I just said, he’ll be fine and went back to bed. Gods how come she looks just fine while I have a headache the size of Lodis.

Soon after I got a knock on the door and opening it I find the hallway empty but a small statue of a raven made of obsidian is sitting right there. I recognize this, this is the statue Denam gave to Ryland earlier, a messanger bird that can go to any member of the vanguard no matter where they are. Odd he would leave it here. I could hear them calling for me to come downstairs so I headed on down. I got down there and somebody had already started cooking thankfully.

The others were all assembled excepting Ryland. He entered then and spoke to us all.

He was leaving.

Quite the shock, he spoke that he needed to do this, that it was time for him to find his path like we had (Not sure where he got the idea we had any clue what we were doing) He felt that he wasn’t ready for this journey yet, that he needed to get better. The call had gone out from the willow oak, war was coming and they were preparing. During this I saw Misha slip in and sit down unobtrusively by the door. I hugged Ryland and told him I would miss him, that he had a good heart to him and for him to be safe. He returned the sentiment and asked if he could keep the staff. I laughed at the oaf and told him that it was a gift to help him on his path and of course he can keep it.

He said his goodbyes and the last I saw of him he stepped out the door following Misha to rejoin his family.

1437 part 2
Braum and Enrico headed up to the keep to fetch Aderyn who was helping out Kalana to speak with the guard commanders and get some more word and intel on our next steps. They returned with the informaiton. We would now be moving as a group of adventurers like normal across the border making our way towards Servilla, the base of operations for the Corpse, a mercenary company that seems to be having difficulties with the pendragons and who may be a way to get intel for accessing greywater keep, home of the pendragon family.

Braum also mentioned that Gaspar was looking for me. Last thing I wanted was to get chewed out by that old asshole and I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. We decided to head out in the morning. Today was a day for rest and preparation. I managed to fill my waterskins with wine and hid a really nice bottle into my pack for latter, yummy.

It was that evening we heard the distinctive heavy stomping of Gaspar

Not wanting to deal with him I turned myself invisible. He came in and everybody was quick to defend me. I finally gave in and dropped my invisibility to hear him out and let him get it over with. He wanted to speak in private which Sylthana didn’t care for but I told her it would be fine.

He then apologized to me.

I was dumbfounded by that, not what I expected from him at all. He told me he had been out of line, in his panic over Kalana he had treated me poorly and without respect. I started to apologize for my own behaviour but he just stopped me and said the fault was his. He did not want to create a rift between us in the Vanguard. I understood, Kalana had spoken that Gaspar took the vanguard very seriously and his demeanor was because he did not want to see any fall in its name. I accepted his apology, shook his hand and we returned to the others. When Sylthana asked what had happened I just told her that everything was actually okay between us now.

An Older Clerics Recount
Sylthana's Travels

Where do I even begin?

I never thought I would write down my thoughts and experiences like this again after my youth. This journal was supposed to be a means to vent and express my troubles. I suppose now is as good a time as any to do just that.

This entire “mission”, I guess you would call it that, was one big fool’s errand. They made it seem simple, an abandoned castle with some sort of unholy beast that needed to be ousted so we could take it as a place to embark out from further. I think we all figured that after everything else we’ve experienced this would be as simple as we hoped. Gods be good, we were more wrong than even I thought possible. Arriving in Dunbar was uneventful. The soldiers did their duties, setting up camp a few miles away from the castle and the village as to not rise suspicions about our intent.

The village was far more deserted than we predicted. After further investigation, only about half of the villages population remained. Some phenomenon was going on there that made the commoners leave in droves, deserting the village for a better life away from the dying village or so they claimed. Some were not convinced of this truth, and I counted myself among them. It was all a bit peculiar for such large numbers to leave all at once, and this was only made more complicated when the woman, Margrev, I think her name was may she rest with the Mother. She came to us, begging that we help her. Her children and husband had gone missing like the others, and while her neighbors told her that they had left, she didn’t believe it, and suspected that something else was going on. She was right of course.
After speaking with her and learning what we could for the night, Ozruk and myself retired to our room and left the buffoons to their revelry. Ozruk spoke to me in private, she had found this journal on our travels, I had forgotten all about it until she presented it to me. She claimed she hadn’t read it out of gratitude but I told her to do it anyway. It seemed to help her somewhat, or so she said.

I knew something was peculiar about that fucking bar wench. She was too quick to try and write off our willingness to help and try to push us away from Margrev’s pleas the next morning. She played all of us for damned fools. I swear to the Mother and any other gods that will listen that if I ever see that bitch again, I will make damned sure that she suffers everything they did.

I had promised Margrev to try and find her lost children. Guilt drove me, the guilt of a poor soul suffering, the guilt of a mother who left her own daughter for years. The others focused on the task at hand, it seemed investigating these disappearances coincided with our own goals. We needed to find a way into the castle, to bypass the magic that barred our way. The mayor proved little help, with exception to the knowledge that he was unaffected by whatever was clouding the minds of these commoners. He saw that they were afflicted, something was changing what they saw and remembered and that these disappearances were indeed unnatural.

When we later reconvened as a group, it was to speak to the woman who was the chamberlain of the castle before its fall. It was to our luck that she and her mother were both of the Mother’s faith, they were more eager to hear my words despite an earlier failure of deception on our bard’s part. She relinquished us a key to the castle and divulged what knowledge she had of the inner workings.

Ryland had found a cave the night before when he was out skulking through the woods. Something about investigating the lumber mill and happening upon it. We went to find this phantom cave, and sure enough it existed. We decided to see where the tunnel lead, thinking this was our key to the castle so to speak. Unfortunately, we were correct.
Somewhere along the way, Ozruks little pet left us, unable to accompany us from some magical interference.

We arrived in a large room, seemingly unremarkable save a balcony. At first glance one would think this to be some kind of performance chamber perhaps. If I had never seen otherwise it may have been for the best. The entire room was glamoured, an illusion to hide its true appearance. I felt the magical influence, and with a blink the veil was torn away. There was no floor, we stood on perpetual floating planks that followed our movements, and under our feet was a nightmarish hellscape of desiccated corpses and remains. Gods know how long they had been hidden down here, left to whatever ill fate begot them. The missing villagers, captured or lured here to be killed and tossed aside. The others did not seem to take notice of the illusion, completely oblivious to what I was seeing. I tried to get their attention, Braum took notice quickly, bless the boy. It took a few minutes trying to convince the others, but finally they were able to see through the wicked magic. There was an orb sitting upon a dais in an alcove, it had also been hidden by the illusion. I approached it cautiously, this castle had already proven to be more than we anticipated.

As I approached, the orb sprang to life, an eye peering from within and watching me. Before anything else could happen, or before I could investigate from my safe distance, the fool decided to touch the fucking thing! Ryland’s contact with it activated something and from within the orb we saw images, visions of some time passed.

Children that matched the description Margrev gave of her own. For a moment I had relief, that this orb was a scrying device and that they were safe and alive. I was foolish to think for a moment that the poor dears had even a moments chance here. What I saw come to life in that orb, however, was the most horrific thing I have ever seen despite all my years. The heartless monster made her rip her own children to shreds in a mindless rage. Whatever mental infection he used, she was nothing more than a puppet. The fear on their small faces as she was upon them will forever be scarred into my mind.

I was beside myself, all the walls I built in my heart and mind to block out the horrors of the world fell like they were made of the thinnest parchment. I felt the simultaneous feelings of rage, nausea and helplessness. I had made a promise to see those children returned to their mother safely, and yet I just bore witness to them being brutally killed by the very mother I made the promise to. My mind immediately went to Cecilia. That could easily have been the two of us, were the circumstances different I could have been the instrument of my own daughter’s death. If not for Ozruk’s intervention and insistence that we would find the one responsible and make them pay, I probably would not have had the will to move from that floor. Ryland told us that when he touched the orb, he not only saw what we had, but rather he had physically felt all of the fear, pain and suffering. Furthermore, he heard a voice, one he recognized as that of Samwell, an alchemist we met earlier in town.

The further we progressed through the castle, the deeper the mystery seemed to go. Ozruk and I found the way into the balcony above, and there we found furniture that matched that of the tavern. It all made sense to me then, that damned wench was involved in whatever happened here, that’s why she was so eager to see us uninvolved and leaving town. In my anger, I lost my cautious reason and threw the damnable chair from the balcony. The sound of that vile decadent wood shattering on the cages below was pleasant but it did little to soothe me.

My mind was little eased as we progressed deeper into the recesses of the keep. Eventually we came upon a large, dark, dank cavern. I used my magic to illuminate the cave, it did not seem at all extraordinary. A thick viscous liquid formed a pool with a few broken paths over it. The others came to the plan to use ropes and pitons to create a way to traverse, with Ryland on one end and myself on the other. It all went smoothly for a while, but when things mattered the most, I faltered. Ozruk was crossing when my mind flashed back to the horrors of that orb and I lost my bearing, dropping the poor girl into the mire. She said later that she didn’t blame me for it, but if she did harbor some resentment towards me for it, I couldn’t blame her.

We were set upon by creatures from the deep underdark, Ropers I believe the others called them. The battle was long fought and I hate to say that I barely came out in one piece, although greatly worse for wear. Aderyn and Ryland were also in bad shape, despite my best efforts to protect them all. We were in no shape to continue immediately, we found what seemed like the remains of some sort of camp and took a rest to bandage ourselves and recover.

Ozruk did her best to rally the group from our stupor and fatigue. I hate to admit that I think myself and Ryland were dragging the rest down. My own weakness was dulling my senses, and Ryland was still reeling and brooding from earlier. Poor boy had by far received the worst of the experience. We all seemed to come around, I took time to pray and meditate on my teachings in service to the Lady of the Water and managed to bring myself around enough to go onward. We passed through what seemed like some kind of tomb, armor and remains were scattered everywhere but none seemed to raise so we ignored them and continued on. Onward still we came to a tall tower of a room, lined with smaller rooms and a spiral staircase that seemed to go onward past what we could see. Somehow Braum and Enrico managed to sneak off as we investigated. The rooms seemed to be cells, and in a few of them we found more corpses and signs of struggles. Sickening through and through.

Before we had a chance to search more thoroughly, we were alarmed by a loud banging upstairs and rushed to find its source. It was Braum and Enrico, of course. They were trying to bust the lock off of a door, a seemingly live woman was still in one of the cells. Ozruk tried to get Braum to stop, but he wasn’t to be deterred. The woman was in terrible shape, her eyes sewn shut and she seemed half dead. Looking back, it would have been better if we never found her, but we did and at the time it seemed right to try. As the others argued over what to do, a wind seemed to form in the room and we were beset by a wind elemental of some manner. We fought it off as best as possible, though I was of little help as it tossed me like a wicker doll in a tornado, unfortunately at one-point right into Ozruk.

Through some sheer stroke of luck, we prevailed. They finally agreed to release the woman, with the condition that if she were to seem a threat, she would be put down swiftly.
She was responsive and seemed to understand us somehow, though her ability to communicate was gone along with her tongue. Ozruk called one of the other vanguard members that was accompanying us, Denam I believe, and he came to retrieve our new charge.
Outside we were in some sort of study or lab. There we saw the son of a whore, Samwell, or what appeared to be him at first. I don’t know what manner of monstrosity it was, half man, half dead. It seemed like it was decaying alive, or at least part of it. It spoke as a servant, confirming Samwell’s masterminding of this wickedness. Ryland lost it finally, his anger driving him to violently beat whatever it was until it was broken and motionless. In doing so was his folly, however. It unleashed something as it fell, and when it struck Ryland he became not himself. The boy was overcome with an unholy rage and struck out at Ozruk and anyone else around before shaping into this ungodly abomination that seemed like a bear straight out of the hells. We had to subdue him, or else stop him. Seeing his friend struck must have set Braum off, for he was unyielding in his blows against Ryland. Our attempts to stop our friend seemed to have little effect, weapons and magic were dulled against whatever force drove him in this madness. Aderyns magic managed to push him out of the room and Braum created a barrier with a heavy table. We were set to wait out whatever this was, but Ryland had other plans and started to flee towards the outer perimeter rather than continue after us. He likely would have gone straight for the village if Braum and Enrico did not goad him back. I managed to halt his advance finally with one final spell. As he lay unconscious we had precious little time to decide what to do with him. We didn’t know if he would even be himself when he came too once more, or would he come after us renewed. Using what chains and rope we could find, we finally bound him to one of the heavy tables from before rousing him from his unconsciousness.

It seemed he had returned to normal, his wounds magically bound and the rage subsided. It was odd, however, despite it all being seemingly over, he was not fully himself as we knew him. He seemed a simpleton. His manner of speech, his memories and his mannerisms were different. It was like speaking with a child. Once we were sure he was no longer a threat, we released him from his binds, Braum making sure to keep his weapon from him.

[The next few lines seem to be heavily crossed out]

Once rested, we departed for the central chamber of the castle and were stopped when Ozruk noticed floating eyes watching us. Samwell’s voice spoke to us, demanding the devils horn that Ozruk had possession of. Rightfully so, the girl refused. In doing so however, we were set into one last battle. The thing was a literal monster. A chimera stitched together with some sort of hodgepodge of arcane and necromantic magics. As with everything in this castle, when we finally triumphed, we were far worse off than when we started, Aderyn took most of the damage this time. Samwell left us with one final message, we were too late and what he set into motion had already begun. The village was doomed, and worse yet he had unleashed a trap in the soldier’s camp, dreadfully we had given him that chance. The woman we saved was his weapon, and we delivered it right to our own doorstep.

Twenty-five of our own men and over two hundred villagers were lost in the chaos, we later found out. We finalized our push into the castle, our progress barred by a magically warded door. The rest of the group split up to try and find the key, Ryland and Enrico later returning with a magicked broom and sword. Upon a better inspection, they found the key they were looking for, and we descended into the final bowels of the keep. Inside was a large crystal and I was the first to notice what was inside. A man, faint and frail. The others didn’t see but I did, and they seemed to panic as I approached it. Really, did they take me for a fool after all of this? The man seemed surprised that I could see him, and said that his name was Malvo and that he had been trapped for a long time. His soul was being used to fuel whatever magic this crystal was emitting, likely the barrier that had been erected. Ozruk, Braum and Aderyn seemed to know who he was. He begged me to release him, and of course I obliged, not willing to let a tortured soul remain trapped any longer. If we truly had lost the village, I was at least going to give this one rest.

We were met in the castle courtyard by soldiers, they informed us that the village was a total loss and of our own losses. They started setting up tents and barracks, starting their own little base while being too afraid of what we had already taken care of within. They were right to be cautious of course, but it was too little too late. One of the vanguard members, Kalana, had gone missing we were told. Amidst the chaos of the attack on the camp, she vanished and could not be found. I was set to retire for the evening, Ryland tried to speak with me but I was too tired to deal with any more tonight. Before I could even settle in my own tent, I heard a disturbance, shouting, and went to investigate. I arrived too late to find out the matter, only in time to see Ryland leaving with Gaspar, a dwarf with the Vanguard. With nothing else, I retired once more for a short time.

It was a short rest before we were summoned once again. We were told by some of the soldiers that our presence was requested to help investigate the villages remains and search for survivors, as well as assist in final rites on my part. Ozruk was nowhere to be found, but Ryland and Braum were around. We needed our party whole, Ryland I believe went to locate Aderyn, while Braum and myself went for Ozruk. It did not take me long to find her, sulking on the roof of the castle. Ryland had told me why when I inquired about the disturbance the night before. Gaspar had said some awful things to her, which I will keep in mind the next time I see the heartless bastard. The soldiers would not let us enter the keep to reach her, so I had to do something medieval to get message to her, and fired a message on a bolt from a crossbow. It worked at the least, she came down without any further fuss and we managed to regroup to discuss what it was we had to do before retiring for the night.

We were awoken to the sound of loud horns, a sign of an arrival. Gaspar returned from whatever hole he had hidden away in all night and he had Kalana in tow. She was in awful condition, unconscious and missing an arm, bleeding this grotesque green pus. The medics did not seem to know what to do. I tried my best to look her over, but even then my knowledge is average at best. One thought had dawned on me, that this may have been similar to what ailment afflicted Ryland, and remembering the cure, I took a brief reprieve to consult the gods in augury.

The gods were kind to return my words, that my magic will help. I channeled my divine magic to break the curse afflicting the young woman and it took some time, but it did indeed work. She briefly regained consciousness, but she was still weak and needed rest. We left her to recover and for the village below.

======== ========

Ozruk's Journal - Part 6
Capturing Gallione Castle

Ryland went out last night and did a bit of wandering in the woods, oddly enough the lumbermill was running during the evening and night, not hours that are usual. Just adds to the strangeness. What are these people hiding? While he was out there he heard tale about a strange tunnel in the woods and interestingly enough my imp was able to find it, path was barred by a gate and some kind of shield that prevented him from going any further.

This day has not gone well at all, I keep screwing up and I have no idea what to do.
We spoke with the mayor, he seems to be one of the few unaffected by whatever malaise lies on this town and he seemed to suspect something was going on with the people who “moved away”.
After him we spoke with the former chamberlain, A young woman staying with her parents since the castle had been sealed off. Enrico had tried to sweet talk her earlier but he really messed up and came off as a pretty poor liar. Fortunantly Sylthana noticed the mother had a symbol of Nephitis on a necklace and was able to convince her to allow us to meet with her daughter. I could see them being very respectful of Sylthana and she was soon able to convince them of our good intentions. The young woman produced a key to the castle and she informed us about a sub-basement that none of the servants were allowed to access. This was most interesting and seemed like the best place to find the Crystal. The shell was not due to come down for a while so we sought out the mysterious tunnel suspecting it was an escape tunnel for the nobles of the castle.

Outside of the house Ryland was sitting there looking glum as pinecones bounced harmlessly off of his head. I just grinned and told Ip’Nix he could stop harrassing the big guy.

We located that tunnel, but somebody had tried to conceal it since my imp had found it earlier.

We went in and the key worked on the door. Although we could pass through fine my familiar was unable to. It was warded against extraplaner and teleportation magics so looks like we are on our own.
The path was long and eventually lead us to a large chamber with a balconey and a pair of doors. Everything seemed okay until I saw Sylthana recoiling in horror followed soon after by Braum. Syl callled out the whole room was an illusion and after a few seconds of trying I was able to see through it myself and right away wished I hadn’t.
We were standing on wooden platforms with the actual floor maybe 15 feet below us, if we moved to the edge another platform would flip into place keeping us from falling. Below us were cages and cages filled with skeletons and desiccated corpses. Hidden previously by the illusion was a glowing orb on a small alcove, Sylthana approached it cautiously but that idiot Ryland walked over as it started to glow and touched it.

Instantly all of our heads were filled with a horrible vision.

We saw a small room, made of some kind of white stone and two children were pushed into this room and the door slammed shut. They matched the description of the two children of Margrev. The image flickered, jumping from hour to hour and day to day. The children became filthy, the were forced to use a corner as a makeshift chamberpot. They looked malnourished. Suddenly the image settled on the door opening and Margrev walking in. The children rushed to her but you could see something wasn’t right, she wasn’t joyful seeing her children, she was like a zombie, mindless. Thats when she attacked, you could see her grab the yougnest and start beating her head against the wall like an animal. What I saw… it wasn’t somebody killing because they had to, this was more mindless, she tore them apart literally, beating them against the walls, each other, the floor. Blood was everywhere. The images stopped then and we were suddenly free of its grasp. I barely kept from throwing up. The others were even worse than me, Braum looked the best though I could tell from the tightness in his jaw and tension in his neck he was controlling himself.
Ryland looked like he had been struck in the head with his own maul, Enrico was patting him on the back with a completely stunned look that meant reaching out to Ryland was for himself as well. Sylthana had dropped to her knees and was breathing very heavy, I remembered her daughter, to see a mother do that must have cut her deeply. Ryland was shaking and trying to push Enrico away, against my better judgment I figured he needed contact, he tried and was kinda a failure at stopping me from giving him a hug. He stopped shaking so I left him to tend to Sylthana who also needed somebody to be close.
Ryalnd spoke up, Where we had born witness to the horror he said he had actually felt it. He felt their pain, terror, betrayl. And he had heard a voice, samwell’s voice saying “so the forumula does work”

Sylthana’s knuckles had turned completely white gripping her Scythe and the rage was boiling in her. I decided I needed to give them all time to calm down instead of charging into town on a war path. I directed Ip’Nix to fetch Aderyn. Braum recognized what I was doing and fell back to cover our rear. Once Aderyn arrived I filled her in on what was going on and we pushed forward. I took the lead and pushed us to check out the doors. One was magical but had been beaten up with dents and massive claw marks. The magic on the door seemed to be slowly repairing it though we couldn’t tell if whatever had done the damage had left or was still behind the door so we left it be. The other door led into a side passage, an off tunnel led up to the balcony we had seen earlier. Sylthana and I inspected it, it looked like somebody had been there recently with a table and a pair of chairs. Unfortunantly I recognized the style of engraving as the same as the chairs in the Inn. Sylthana got a little bit pissed off when I pointed this out and before I could stop her she had hurled one of the chairs off of the balcony and out across the open room where it smashed down on the cages with a very loud resounding gong like sound. I cringed at the noise but nothing seemed to happen and it seemed to calm her down a little. She does have a pretty good arm on her and got quite a bit of distance.
I lead the way, unusual for me honestly. But without Ip’ Nix I was the one best suited, my infernal gift had given me far better vision in the dark than I normally enjoyed and hopefully if there was anything in wait I could spot it before it spotted us. I also kept scanning for booby traps but never saw anything amiss.

Eventually we made our way into a huge cavern, the edges of it were at the limit of my vision. The path became broken up as it moved through a small body of what kinda looked like water. I could see huge blue crystals all over the roof and the sounds of dripping water. Sylthana cast daylight and nearly blinded me while I was looking around. Aderyn seemed stunned silent and staring at the crystals. She was in a state of shock suddenly, the crystals as it turned out were a secret of her elvish mage convent. Being a half elf she wasn’t privy to the secrets of their creation and care.
At first I didn’t realize the second thing she said but suddenly so much clicked into place. Aderyn was a half elf, not worthy of her people’s full secrets and knowledge. She had been holding out her hope that Johan had seen something special in her, but as it turned out she wasn’t, he had been using her to get access to her convent and steal the knowledge of the crystals. He had been using her now because of who she was but because of where she was. I could see the slight sag in her shoulders, if we had been anywhere else I suspect she might have found a quiet place to cry, heavens knows I’ve done that before myself.
My first thought was that liquid was some kind of slime again and I wouldn’t go near the stuff. Ryland easily jumped the largest gap in the walk way of maybe 15 feet using a wildshape of a large lion to jump it. He then tossed a rope back and we took a few attempts to secure it. Cheap hammers, now I need to get a new one after mine broke. With Sylthana and Ryland bracing it the others began to clamber across the gap. I had a hard time convincing myself to try, I had throughly convinced myself it was a slime and it was just waiting to ambush me. I hugged the rope close and started across, I almost made it when I felt a sudden vibration and lost my grip.
On the positive side it wasn’t a slime. On the other hand it was colder than longsaddle in mid winter. Ryland fished me out and all I could do was sit there huddled in my cloak freezing. I glanced up and saw a horrified look on Sylthana’s face. I think the rope slipped and she was blaming herself for dropping me. I wasn’t angry, just cold.

We continued and this time I was in the back still trying to regain some measure of warmth when we were attacked.

Ropers, denizens of the underdark, Looks like Johan had left a few more surprises behind. Looking like rock formations until they revealed their beaks and flailing tentacles. I tossed up mirror image and thankfully they swipped at the duplicates instead of me so I was able to pull back out of range although I was then completely cut off and praying there weren’t any behind us. The others were entangled and kept trying to break lose, it was chaotic, I saw Enrico nearly make it clear but that did not last for long as his legs were bound and he started to get pulled in. Sylthana and Ryland both were courageously trying to draw attention and break the others free, the creatures were covered in rocks and I could see the attacks barely doing any damage at all. I did the only thing I could and unloaded everything I had on them. At one point I heard Aderyn scream briefly saw her tossed through the air before hearing a splash but the creature was between us so I could do nothing to help her except use my magic which fortunately proved effective enough, my control was sufficient to get penetrating hits although I accidentally did hit Ryland once. The others were fighting it as well but bound in the tentacles they were having a hard time.
Both soon fell and it was fortunate since Aderyn was nearly half drowned by that time and needed help getting out of the water. Ryland and Sylthana looked half dead and we made our way to what appeared to have once been a guard station with an old firepit and really old torches. We started a fire and sat down to rest and bind the wounds.

Everybody was a wreck, Enrico seemed mostly okay, Aderyn was cold and miserable, plus with her shock I’m not sure all the water dripping from her was from the lake. Ryland, Sylthana and Aderyn were torn to shreds.

I sat by Sylthana trying to reach out to her but she seemed lost in her own thoughts so I figured I would quickly write a few words here.


I tried to buoy their spirits, remind them that we were fighting for the people and what the vanguard represented as its ideals. I kinda flubbed it however, I tried my best but unlike the stories I didn’t see them energized and renewed with purpose. Although how much of what we go through have I ever heard of in the tales? Stories always seem to gloss over the weeks camping in the wilderness and in the cold weather and rain. Most heroic battles do skip over the chaos and terror and how much it hurts to lose somebody.

Maybe all those tall tales are just that, tales and heroes in the stories are cold and scared as well.

This day just keeps getting better and better. We kept going up and eventually came into a crypt. Skeletons or something all over the place. One of the others noticed some kind of veins or something over the bones. Some sort of trap so we didn’t disturb them and quickly got out of the room. Evidently we didn’t set off whatever trigger and they remained dormant.

The next room was actually a massive shaft. We were at the bottom and stairs along the edges lead up to the next floor. Looked to be maybe 5 landings all the way around and I couldn’t get a good view of what was above. A stone bowl in the middle filled with water caught our eye but upon further inspection was just a bowl of water.
The two blind idiots snuck off ahead of us rather than letting me scout ahead

Sneaky bastards, I could barely see their light, least until we heard the banging.

Each level had cell doors all around the circumference of the shaft. Little sliding windows gave a view inside where they were either empty or had what looked like a dessicated corpse having tried to claw its way out. We were all quick to realize these rooms were identical to the room we saw in the vision.

Up on the third floor we arrived and Braum and Enrico were trying to break the lock of one of the doors before we began trying to stop them. I looked inside and what I saw was horrifying. It was a woman but she was filthy with her eyes stitched shut and only making strange noises. I could not tell if she was actually alive or if this was some kind of undead we had never seen before.

While we argued about what to do with her we heard a strange noise from above. Like a storm, above us at the top of the shaft was a lift platform that was starting to sway and the sound of the wind began to get louder. The woman in the cell began making crying and keening sounds and fled from the doorway.
The creature that suddenly came down was like a windstorm, an air elemental and it didn’t waste any time before it attacked, This thing was damn big, probably twice my height and its first attack picked me up off my feet and hurled me into a nearby wall, I think Sylthana was also hit but she was able to hold her ground. Well, I got up and began casting bolts into it until I saw it pick up Sylthana and hurl her directly at me. I had about a second to realize what was happening before I got slammed again into the wall. Got untangled and dazedly found a different spot. My head was seeing stars after that but I got some good shots into it which of course just pissed it off. I wanted to yell and those others shooting arrows and things at it, its a blasted air elemental, did they really think an arrow would hurt this thing? Ryland kept trying to swipe through it but was having a hard time finding purchase, at least he was trying.
I could see Aderyn’s sphere floating in the the open floor, think she was trying to keep us from falling. I really hurt the creature then it got in my face, everything after that was a complete blur, I felt something slam me hard, then as I blacked out I felt like I was flying again.

I came to with Sylthana standing over me and the most god awful headache. They managed to kill the creature, guess I had been bounced off of a wall then thrown through the air again to bounce off of Ryland before collapsing on the floor. I hurt like hell but Enrico was doing that weird music healing thingy again so I could feel the injuries clearing up.

Braum went back to trying to open the cell and I tried to stop him but then Braum shocked the hell out of me with his outburst. He was sick and tired of not being able to help anybody and damn it he was going to help this woman. Usually Braum was so stoic that to hear such forceful passion and frustration from him made me take a step backwards. All I could do was accept it and step back with a spell ready defensively. Turns out Braum was right and I was wrong again. She was alive, a woman from the village of Dunbar, Enrico was able to calm her down and made some general communication with her with writing.

We couldn’t just leave her here, not that Braum would let me, I was all for putting her somewhere safe and rescuing her afterwards. I reached out to Ip’Nix and I was able to find Denam. Oddly enough Denam was looking right at my imp, didn’t take long to realize he could see it even though he was invisible. I spoke through and he was a bit surprised to hear my voice. I was able to convince him to come and extricate the woman from the prison. Ip’Nix accompanied him to guide him as far as the grate. Now we just have to wait for his arrival.


Well, Denam arrived but the woman was freaking out so I saw him use a friend spell on her to calm her down and an enlargen spell to become large enough to pick her up easily before he headed back on out.

Kalana had taken out the shield but had immediately collapsed from the raw power she adsorbed? Aderyn told me Kalana was more than just a sorceress, she was a spell eater and could absorb a spell although this barrier was more than she had ever done before. Evidently why Johan had wanted her, never heard of spell eaters before though and neither had Aderyn.

We continued on up and came into a small hall at ground level. A fire place was there and we heard a voice calling out that he knew we were there with samwell’s voice. Since there did not seem to be any point to hiding we stepped out and found some strange necromantic simulacrum there burning things in the fireplace. He had evidently been at it a long time for the hall was mostly stripped of anything that wasn’t furniture.

Ryland just went berserk on the simulacrum. I held back even saying he needed to get this out of his system. He just kept going at it until it seemed to kind of pop and a greenish mist blew out. Ryland seemed a bit staggered and was growling odd so I came over and tried to calm him down a bit.
Thats when he hit me. Never saw it coming but he spun around and his maul slammed into my side with a sickening crunch that hurt like hell. Good thing I was so close that he didn’t get the full power behind it. I staggered back and we all watched in horror as he wildshaped into some kind of half bear half demonic creature. We would figure out later that it was a direbear. He came after us and torn me up pretty good, Sylthana also got bit pretty hard. I fled around the corner and tossed out my mirror images again but this time it was a bit of waste. Aderyn began knocking him around with that sphere of hers (I so need to learn how to cast one of those) which knocked him away from me and both Braum and Sylthana got right up with him. I saw braum just go nuts with smashing Ryland repeatedly in the head with his hammer. And I think Enrico was messing with him pretty good, at one point I heard Denam outside which drew Rylands attention but figured out it was Enrico pulling that one, I know the minor illusion spell very well. Ryland tried to make a run for the gate but out in the open he didn’t last very long and we finally knocked him out. After a few lengths of chains and some very clever knot tying by Enrico we have Ryland restrained completely.

A quick check with Denam revealed he was almost back to camp but he had never heard of anything like this so we continuing to move forward blind.

When he comes to we will see if he is with us or if we have lost him. I don’t relish another fight like that and all of his wounds seem to have healed up.

I went over to inspect the simulacrum, it was still alive but just barely. I could hear it mumbling. I could feel my blood run cold as I realized he was repeating a phrase over and over again. “When the sleeping king awakens, so too shall my body rise”

This was a paraphrase of the phrase that was engraved in infernal in that temple of Ayora from the second age. we knew there was a connection between Johan and the Night sisters but we thought it was tenuous and an alliance of convenience since if Malgav came through he would take over everything but this seems like there is a stronger connection between the two groups than we realized.

It was holding out a key to me and as I took the key from it I could hear its last words were “Thank you”. I rejoined the others but it seemed odd such a creature would thank me, perhaps the fulfillment of his duty?

We are all messed up pretty bad, we need to get some sleep, we should recover before going forward, damn it, not this nonsense again.

After we woke up, after we finished our rest and preparations after we woke up GOD DAMN YOU NOT THIS NONSENSE AGAIN! Really evil lair of an extraplaner being and you still pull this nonsense? And why in my journal of all places?! Stupid gods and rules, seriously fuck you all.

Ryland has been cured. It was a magical curse that was put on him by the sphere. Oddly enough his memories of the last hour was completely different than what we had experienced.

Anyway, we headed into the main keep and in there we saw three pairs of floating eyes, Being better able to see in the dark I couldn’t see anything else either. We could hear Samwell’s voice. He was threatening the town if we didn’t give him what he wanted. He seemed to be playing a game with everything and our presence changed his objectives. Now he wanted the horn. He seemed to be very aware of who we were and what we had.

I retorted to him that Johan had tried the same thing. He just laughed and told us to pull out our pocket avatar if we had one. Stubbornly I still refused him. He mocked us again. Then the fireball hit us.
The small room we were in became awash in flames, I was barely singed but some others got hit hard. Again I was thankful I am a tiefling and fire barely hurts me. Around the corner a Chimera of some wierd kind appeared. I had read about Chimera’s from some of Algis’ books but this was something else entirely, it was some kinda necromancer construct with the parts stitched together like a poorly made quilt.

Ryland charged forward shifting into a bear as he went and tried to lunge on top of the monstrosity. He missed but everybody quickly scattered, this unfortunately led to us discovering that he had other surprises such as acid breath. The fight got crazy, I held back to get my mirror images up and took a shot at the thing, I definitely got its attention because it flew up into the air over Ryland and lunged after me and torn several huge gashes in my protective leathers. I extended out my darkness ability and tried to move around it but it kept following me, damn bastard could see right through magical darkness. Braum was trying to get its attention but with my darkness up he couldn’t see much. Luckily for me it’s interest soon wandered and I saw it lunge back into the main chamber and blast yet another burst of corrosive acid out and heard a yell from Aderyn and Sylthana as they were burned. I quickly moved out and into somewhere less enclosed and I heard Braum begin yelling that it had turned invisible. I hide behind the walls for a moment when it reappeared to again blast Aderyn and Enrico, I saw Aderyn’s defenestration sphere dissipate which probably meant she was pretty badly hurt but I couldn’t see with her on the other side of the room. With the creature airborne it was hard for our fighters to get into it so as Ryland charged past I darted out and used a fly spell on him. In all the chaos the look on that bear’s face as he lifted off the ground was just hilarious. He didn’t waste any time though once the initial shock wore off and flew forward to continue to harass the monstrosity I managed to get off a few more shots before it swooped in and blasted that hideous acid at me and Sylthana. It definitely hurt but my next shot was finally sufficient to finish the monster off ripping the acid breathing head apart and its own acid proceeded to consume it as it crashed to the ground. I could again feel the creature’s essence drawing back towards me like a warm embrace.
We heard Samwell’s voice again, mocking us, saying it didn’t matter and that the deed was done. It started to fade and then was gone.

I got in contact with Ip’Nix and found out the camp had been attacked as had the village from Denam. I don’t know how bad it is yet but it seems to be pretty bad. Everybody took that news hard. One more sin on my shoulders, if I had just given up the horn how many people would still be alive? 100? 200?

I pulled myself together and pushed them. I told them we couldn’t stop what had happened, that we had to finish it. I hated myself for it but if what we heard was true it was already too late, the damage was done, we needed to salvage something.

Eventually we found the hidden basement level, Closed up with an arcane ward sealing it, similar to the one Algis used to have on the home I grew up in. As kids we all had a simple little trinket that would deactivate the wards allowing us in like a magical lock on a door but far more convenient. Took a while to find a key that would work and I saw Enrico and Ryland come back even more scorched up than before with a broom that radiated magic. When discussing the broom I mentioned it was probably just for sweeping the floors and evidently that was the magic word and it began sweeping the hallway. Powerful mage’s hideaway and we find a lazy mages room sweeper.

Eventually we got in and down even further we found the crystal. It was massive and misshapen, all the time growing without care was evidently taking its toll. Sylthana suddenly approached it and began speaking to the crystal, at first I didn’t see it but once my attention was there I could see a ghostly figure trapped within the blue crystal. A man, old, he spoke to Sylthana, said his name was Malvo. We suddenly realized he was one of Johan’s former companions, the one that Algis couldn’t find. Evidently he had been trapped here powering the crystal.

Sylthana released him from his cursed prison and we could see his spirit flow out and fade away. The crystal itself shattered into dust

I realize afterwords we should have asked him questions, found out more but it is too late. I’ve asked Ryland and Braum to get the gates opened up, figured it shouldn’t be hard for those two.

Denam got word to me about how bad it was. The woman we rescued, she was a trap, she exploded with a poison mist that drove some of the troops insane and they turned on the others. Kalana was right at the epicenter and is missing now. 25 people are dead from the dragoons. Sounds like only a few survivors from the town, what have I done.

Goddamn that asshole Gaspar. First Ryland comes in and makes something that might have been an apology if it wasn’t so blindly stupid as though nothing had happened, then when I leave Gaspar comes in chiding us for a lovers quarrel and yells at me to come back. Then the bastard says its an order from my commanding officer. I of course retorted that the vanguard had no chain of command and he persisted. Even spoke that we were a mistake joining the vanguard. I called him an asshole and told him to fuck off before casting fly and finding a quiet spot where nobody could reach me.

Commanding officer? Is there more to the Green Vanguard than I thought? Makes sense, nobody is so selfless, lip service to a cause but a pocket army of Alphonse. Is Parn using us or being used? He’s always written back to me but it has been 11 years, he wasn’t telling us everything, do I even really know him anymore? What game are they all playing?

It hurts to think I’m being used again. Johan, Malkor, now the Vanguard and it sounds like even Beleneth. And is she actually my mother or is manipulating things? I see Sylthana and how much she worries about her daughter and I think if Beleneth really was my mother I wouldn’t be refereed to as “insurance” like a trinket or object, although thats even assuming shes referring to me, she appeared in dreams to Luci, not me.

I have a lot of blame now. Every time I try to do better I screw it up so badly.

First mistake was trying to take the lead, everybody was in a state of shock and I thought it best to keep moving, but because I did that Samuel had a chance to escape.
Second was contacting Denam and getting him to rescue that trapped woman that Braum rescued. If I hadn’t done that those 25 men back at the camp would still be alive and Kalana would not be missing.
Third was not giving him the horn, I don’t even want to think about how many people in Dunbar died because I wouldn’t give in…

How many is that dead because of my decisions? 150? 200? How many more will die because he got away?

I find myself wondering if I should have listened to Sylthana that night.

Well, I was sitting on the roof of the keep where nobody could bother me, I knew the 8th guards were sweeping for traps and investigating so nobody would be let into the keep.

At least so I thought into a crossbow bolt bounced off a tile and came to rest a few feet from me with a note attached. It was from Sylthana let me know there were orders that we needed to go over. I cast Fly again (wonderful spell, I need to use this more often) and floated on down to where I could see Sylthana and Braum waiting with the guards posted by the door. Sylthana was handing the crossbow back to the guard when I floated on down and tossed the guardsman his bolt. They seemed surprised, I don’t think they expected anybody on the roof.

We had been asked to head into the village in the morning to investigate and assist with the funeral rites. I just sighed and returned to our encampment.

I had screwed up so much. How could I face the others, I knew they would blame me for not going after Samwell right away. Gaspar had been right, my joining was a mistake, guess he will have a consolation prize when I leave

Denam. I hadn’t given him too much thought before today. I knew about his association with the catspaw and that he was a professional thief and the vanguard’s quartermaster. He himself has never made any secret of that, even carries his symbol of being a former member of the catspaw openly on his belt as though daring people.

Gaspar had returned carrying Kalana. She was a complete mess and one of her arms was completely missing at the elbow. He took her to the infirmary and the others followed. I had just began packing up my tent when I hear that smug little guy asking me what I was doing.
I tried to ignore him and brushed him off with “what do you think I’m doing”
He was persistent. He asked why and I told him because Gaspar was right, we should never have joined. If I hadn’t joined I wouldn’t have made such a mess of things, and my best friend would still be alive. I told him everything I had screwed up in the last 24 hours, how we could have stopped samwell if we had turned back, if I hadn’t called him to rescue the woman which lead to Kalana’s capture and how my refusal led to an entire village’s death. I just kept going, how if we hadn’t joined somebody more experienced would have dealt with Belmora. Denam really got on my case, that we make choices not knowing what is going on, that we do what is right and yes, innocents will be hurt, but that many more would be if we didn’t act. He also told me Gaspar IS a complete asshole and even tells Denam that he should never have joined. He also gave me a few new curses to call Gaspar.

I guess I needed and deserved being taken to task like that. It wasn’t easy to hear but I had been taking the bad of everything that had happened and making it my own fault.

He revealed something to me, that he had made some messed up choices for gold that lead to too much blood on his hands. That was why he left his position as the leader of the Catspaw. He told me why he kept going and I was surprised. I didn’t know what to think. Something so selfless from him just seemed like I didn’t really know him, that I was seeing a mask he was wearing. He started to walk away when on an impulse I stopped him. He had revealed his secret to me, so I asked him if he knew where my powers come from, He had kind of guessed but I confirmed it to him and he seemed satisfied with that. He didn’t seem to have any problem trusting me even knowing that I gained them through a demon. I put my pack down and went with him to the infirmary.

I look at him and realize he’s not a hero from the stories who can do anything and knows exactly how to save the day. None of them are, Not Kalana, not Gaspar, not Parn. They do what they can and keep their hope that it is enough.
I’ve had a hard time understanding why they accept me so readily when I myself am afraid of it. They too have made their share of mistakes and so they are willing to accept my vulnerabilities and lapses in judgment as long as I keep trying.

Guess I’m staying after all.

Ozruk's Journal - Part 5

I don’t know why I did it, maybe it was the alcohol that gave me enough courage to consider it. Maybe it was the finality of it all. I felt trapped and alone. I stumbled my way up the stairs, a handful of bottles in my arms. I can’t even remember what they were. I found the balcony easily enough and sat on the railing, my feet dangling out into the night air, into oblivion if I choose to embrace it.
Mostly feeling sorry for myself and what I had let myself become. Parn was nearly a god. The others were happy and carefree even knowing what was coming. I felt trapped. I finally found my mother and even she was disappointed in me.

I was a slave, a puppet, The only choice I’ve made has been how long my strings are, I still dance when the strings are pulled. I just felt black inside. If I stayed with them I put them in danger, if I ran they would still be in danger. He had threatened them, told me that if I didn’t give him what he wanted he would let my location be known. I know he would never send a demon after me who would seize it for itself, but I’m sure many mercenaries and warlocks would love the opportunity to gain favor so the threat is very real. People would be hurt because of my cowardice. The only choice I saw was the break my strings, to slip forward and fly for a few seconds. They would be sad yes but I am inconsequential, they would be safe and go on to save the world and my mistakes could be forgotten.

I didn’t see exactly when Sylthana showed up. She just leaned against the door unto the balcony and watched me. I don’t know why I spoke to her, I guess I just wanted somebody to understand why. I told her I had no place in this world, that I was cursed since birth, and that I made a mess of my life.

She told me she too had little choice in that place but she made the best of it, she told me about her own mistakes, friends she had lost, comrades who died because she failed. I tried to argue I put people at risk but she said that was just the nature of life, my blood doesn’t define who I am, my choices do.

I was confused with everything, Sylthana saw right through me like a sheet of glass, that I was scared, frightened of being alone again, and she told me to do what I can to protect those I love. She choose to stay with us for that reason. All I could do was cry and she embraced me. I wanted her to help me. Then, I think the alcohol combined with the emotional storm caused me to tell her I was lying about being a sorceress before I passed out.

The next morning I remembered everything, as well as suffering the results of a thousand screaming demons in my head. I spoke later with Sylthana after my head had recovered and she told me we could speak more about it later, I had a moment of fear but she gave me a look that put me at ease. I don’t know what it is with Sylthana but I feel safe around her. I guess I look to her like the mother I never had.

I finally did it.
I finally told everybody what I am, where my powers come from. I stood there terrified and not one of them turned against me. They told me they did not care, that I had always had their back in every fight and that I had never given them any reason to doubt or hate me.
I was shocked but I suppose I shouldn’t be, everything I’ve thought about how the world works has been turned inside out.

Algis knew all along but kept my secret, I found him in the library and thanked him, I told them I had told the others and they still accepted me. He was comforting and supportive and told me he would help. I told him what Malkior wanted from me and that I had done as little as possible to stall. That was acceptable to him and he told me he would check in the books to find what he could.

Parn asked me about something in Luci’s journal that I had loaned him. I didn’t know what he was talking about until Parn told me what the last entry said. I had never read those last few pages, it seemed like as long as I didn’t read them Luci’s story would continue. I finally read it. Luci knew all along, he too had accepted me dispite my cowardice in hiding it. I broke down again and told Parn. Him at least I thought would be angry with me, Parn was after all a paladin but he too shrugged it off and accepted me.

It was odd, after so much fear about it that nobody except me seemed to think anything of it.

Okay, this castle has a Dragon and Alphose rides it like a horse…

We’ve traveled on foot for several weeks to Galant Castle, the former home of Johan. There is a shield of some kind blocking entry plus we do not know what traps or protections are inside. We are the tip of the spear. Denam, Kalana and Gaspar are traveling with us along with a company of the Gray Wolf regiments and white dragoons. We are all wearing disguises of the dragoons so spies will not be able to report on the activities of the green vanguard.

A few miles out they made camp and we switched to our regular equipment and moved on ahead to scout out the town of Dunbar. Denam and Gaspar were scouting and Kalana was working on how to remove the shield. It was odd, the building were made of stone but half were vacant. Speaking with the owner of a rather well stocked alchemist shop we found the town had fallen on hard times with Johan being missing for several months and many had left. The inn was no less odd with tables and chairs of the most exquisite craftsmanship that just seemed out of place with the rest of the building. While there a woman, Margrevm approached us and asked us to look out for her missing children, she didn’t seem quite right although that was likely due to her evident grief. The innkeeper told us the woman’s children had left with their father some weeks prior.

On the road I had found a book and soon realized it was Sylthana’s. I couldn’t read it, after all she has done for me to violate her privacy would have been incredibly stupid. I choose to share a room with Sylthana that night, not something I would have done before out of fear of discovery and paranoia of what others may do but now with my companions knowing and accepting I am comfortable with them. I returned her journal and she looked at it for a moment before handing it back and suggesting I read it. I spent a while that night reading it, it was short but I had to think on the message while studying her sleeping form.

“I won’t return to that sad excuse for a being nor will I return to someone so ready to throw everything and everyone away, I won’t turn away from the lives I’ve lost… Mark these last words as the beginning of a new Sylthana Arawn”

She too had lost her best friend, lost her faith in her cause and lost her own faith. It seemed like she too stood on a precipice like I did and she contemplated leaving it all behind. She found something to hold on to even after all of that and rebuilt herself stronger.

Her words echoed in my mind with their simple truth. I look at Sylthana and I see what she once was, tired, hurt and vulnerable. For a moment I see a reflection of myself. I know that I can change, my past doesn’t define me.

Looking back on my journal I see a scared child angry with the world and mostly with myself. Who let her own fear define her and leave her vulnerable to what she was afraid of. I think its time this chapter ends.

I will follow her example and make myself anew.

Ozruk's Journal - Part 4

(Barely legible and tear stained)Luci is dead.

Luci is dead, I can’t believe it, why didn’t I see him fall? If I could have broken free of the tentacles restraining me I might have seen it and been able to stop it, to save him, why did he have to die? Why couldn’t I have died instead?

We are on a ship heading to Komuntor in Izlude. It will take at least another week to travel there, I spent the first day bent over the rails with sea sickness. Its a miserable experience, but its better than thinking back. We have taken our fallen with, the Nephtites placed a spell to preserve and protect on them. I can barely look. I feel empty, like part of me is missing. The others leave me alone. I don’t know if I can continue. At least with the pain in my stomach I don’t have to think about it.

Denam was there. Him and Randyll the bard were sympathetic. I was still in shock. They told us they would take the bodies and that just made me angry. After Johan why would I even consider trusting them? What did they plan on doing?
I was angry, then Denam gave me Luci’s ring. The same ring Luci had traded away. He told me he had used it and retrieved it and had come to give it back to Luci before finding out his fate.
I was silent.
Denam asked if we could do something for the vanguard. After the Night Sister’s defeat the cult cells had fallen apart and become isolated and a particular cell was in the area.
A Nephtite Cleric was there as well, a Deathwielder. Unlike the others we had dealt with the Deathwielders were a more militant arm of the church. This woman was simply huge, she towered over me by at least two feet, a half elf from Belka. I didn’t trust her but the others were all willing to accept her so I didn’t have much choice.
We were also introduced to Enrico Pico, a halfling bard who apparently had managed to get himself indebted to Denam and Denam asked him to accompany us as part of paying off his apparently very sizable debt.
We traveled out of town a bit to head to the tomb Denam was talking about but we jumpped the gun a little early and should have stocked up better. Ran into a small gnoll ambush, was pretty easy, I didn’t know bards could use fireball, and the cleric, I’m not sure, she wasn’t like normal, she was right up front and was using some kinda leech spell. We did have to return back to the city and plan out the trip a bit better.

I decided to retire early and recover, the others are heading out shopping for a little while.

I’ve been reading Luci’s journal, seems like as long as I read it hes still there.

Braum I would expect something this stupid, that halfing too, but Aderyn?!
I woke up, come out and in the common area of our rooms there is this huge smelly half-orc sleeping by the fountain. I didn’t know where this guy came from but I was about ready to unleash eldritch bolts into the interloper before the others came out and told me they went to the market place, got directed down a dark alley to the black market and picked up the half orc. Apparently Sylthana, the cleric and the Half-orc Ryland had traveled together and he was likewise joining us. I just looked dumbfounded at Aderyn and all she did was shrug apologetically, shes the last one I expected to be picking up strange men in dark alleys.

That orc had the gall to call me cutie and I immediately warned him that I would hurt him if he tried anything. He keeps staring at me and making me quite uncomfortable

He keeps holding up this unused bar of soap like its a trophy when I call him smelly. This guy really does not have an ounce of sense in his head does he? I’m keeping an eye on him, if he acts like Orrin I’m taking him out before he gets somebody killed.

The Halfling seems like an idiot to boot. The Cleric is stuck up but at least she seems authentic.

I miss you Luci, why did you have to leave me?

We started to head out after negotiating some mounts. Lot more water and some better clothing made this trip a lot easier to handle. We spotted a Fire Elemental wandering around the desert but it was just wandering so we didn’t pick a fight with it. We found the tombs, Apparently the custom is underground family tombs in Izlude. We started to enter and instantly a pair of arrow traps nailed both Braum and Ryland. Think the half orc got the worst of it but he lived.

The tomb had a few roaming undead, I think the heat affected Aderyn who got a little overly aggressive and kinda got hurt a bit bad. I may need to talk to that girl, just because magic gives us the power of the world doesn’t mean you can take it all head on.

We reseted for a bit to wrap up injuries then we had a run in with a few people escaping the tomb, supposedly they had been trapped and were waiting out the undead. I still didn’t trust them to not be cultists but the others let them go. We explored a bit more in the area those people escaped from and ended up in one messy fight. With the hellhounds, firewalls and explosions I was never so glad to be a tiefling as right then. Damn mage counterspelled me then wrapped me up in more tentacles.
WHY do they always use tentacles on me?
By the time the smoke cleared everybody except me and the half orc were down, Hes a druid shapeshifter like Xanaphus, still a knucklehead but somewhat more tolerable than she was. The cult leader teleported away but he had lost all control. We stayed the night before finishing up, my imp had spotted a beholder in a side passage and rather than just collapsing the whole place they wanted to purify the place.

The Deathwielder cleric is freaking me out, Sylthana went ahead and raised an undead zombie sentry. Exactly WHY is this allowed? We’ve been fighting these undead and to see one on our side is not comforting. She talks about it as though its a sin she must bare but still. Actually come to think of it am I any better? Thats not a very comforting thought, what will peoples reaction be to me dealing with demons?

The next morning we fought the beholder and a good half dozen of his zombie friends. Messy fight, Darkness is quite useful though,blocked the beholder and then he teleported. After the fight was all over Sylthana recovered a dagger that Aderyn identified as Gith (extraplaner in origin) supposedly a relic the cult leader was using to control them. Had a bit of fun when a group of undead showed up in the main room and everybody was busy and I managed to fireball them through the darkness, they never saw what nailed them.

We couldn’t find much else and ended up returning to town. Least we won’t be dragging this whole circus along with.

I’m scared. Found out something the Compass can do even without attuning. HE is able to speak to me through it. He made demands on me, I have to give him the horn or he’ll let others know where we are. If I don’t do as he says or betray him my friends will be harmed. I don’t know how many others he has in his service but if Braum died? Even Aderyn? I don’t think I could live with the guilt. I picked up a mortar and Pestle, I don’t want to give it to him but if I do just a tiny amount and spread it out I can buy myself some time to figure out what to do.

Just had a unique run in. Myself, Aderyn and Ryland went to that dark alley blackmarket and pretty much everybody had been murdered.
The guy there was the guild leader of the whisperers. Obviously a spymaster. The blackmarket dealer was running a side business in secrets and evidently got greedy. The spymaster seemed interested in us for some reason and let us go. I don’t know why hes interested in us but he was, guess he thinks we are good for some future business.

Okay, for some reason everybody decided to travel with us. Alia Sa-alim gave us some things as a reward for clearing her families tomb, Their family is on hard times and I didn’t care for it but I think its an insult to refuse. She did ask us to help escort her brother (cousin?) Warud through the desert where he was going to setup a new business north of Izlude and rebuild their family fortunes. Heading in the same direction as we were so it was an easy decision. We need to head for the northern mountain passes to get out of the desert as well.
At first the journey was fine, I spotted an unusual medallion he carried, Its the same as Denam carries, he revealed its a symbol of ex-members of the Catspaw thieves guild and asked me to deliver a plain flat coin to Denam and say “The Howling sends his regards”

We got hit by a sandstorm and forced into a cave that turned out to be a basilisk den. I was terrified after Braum got petrified but Aderyn knew how to break it using components from the slain basilisks. Ryland did the carving and I saw both Enrico and Sylthana helping with blessings. Unfortunately we lost two of the horses, might got its throat slashed and Sylthanas was turned to stone. Guess we are riding for a while.

They were able to save Braum and honestly I might have gotten a bit over excited about that, everybody was laughing at my reaction but I didn’t care. I don’t think Braum expected to get tackled to the ground least of all by me. I couldn’t bare the thought of losing him too.

Despite myself I think I’m growing attached to my comrades.

I keep having nightmares about Belmora. I woke up crying earlier, Adery keeps looking at me strangely, I’m not sure what to make of it but I think she is… concerned?

We limped into that small town, The rather brutal attack by the gnoll raiders had been effective, we lost all but two of the horses and a few of the raiders had escaped. Warrod explained this was a common tactic, kill the mounts to force the travelers on foot and then stalk them to attack when they weakened as well as pickup anything the travelers are forced to leave behind. Cold hearted but we did foil them, they took many casualties and two of the mounts survived. We had little in the line of resources left.
The town was unusual, some kind of wards were engraved upon all the buildings and stepping into any of the buildings was like stepping into an icebox from the heat. From tales there was a retired wizard in town who had created these runes and they kept the residents cool even as the temperature soared.
Aderyn was of course curious about the nature of the spell and wanted to go speak with the wizard, everybody else went with her while they waited. I was just tired and hungry and instead left them to eat a meal in the inn. We had several hours while Warrod arranged additional mounts and supplies and to travel at this time of day was foolish.
The next thing I know I’m nearly done eating when Enrico comes running up all out of breath and wanting me to come with him. I got a bit annoyed as he babbled, being a halfling I would think he would understand not to interrupt somebodies dinner.

Up until he began babbling that Braum was talking about Avatars, the green vanguard and the sword. I admit I made a scene then and everybody was staring as I loudly proclaimed I was going to kill that idiot and stormed off using every curse word in infernal that I knew and I think I might have invented a few new ones. I think some people were amused and assumed it was some kinda lovers quarrel. Braum of all people? Granted their ability to not talk about the Green Vanguard showed poor judgment in general. I think getting turned into a statue may have hampered his judgment.

I kept up my tirade the whole way to the wizards home, I was a bit rude and barged in and unfortunately I think I scared the pseudodragon pet (poor little guy). The wizard came out and I caught myself and was actually a bit scared. He was an Aasimir man, very elderly and he looked at me like I was some kind begger to had barged in. His voice wasn’t angry though. I was brought into a room with the others and Sylthana looked at me with her arms crossed and told me directly “Gods and Avatars?”.

The old wizard had built his house around a teleportation portal and offered to deliver us to Belghast castle, a journey of still several more weeks of travel. We brought Warrod along because I felt guilty about abandoning him out here. I thought Warrod would have been transported elsewhere but he came with us. before we stepped through though Sylthana blocked my path and told me “No more secrets” I felt angry with her and told her we kept these secrets because they were not their burden to carry. I told her we would discuss and explain everything later. The portal opened up under the wizards ritual and we stepped through.

Everything was white, It was like we were standing in a pure white open space, I couldn’t see if there were walls or a ceiling. A Tiefling woman sat ahead of us we began walking towards her and shadows seemed to start concealing her features, her eyes were purple and I remembered Luci having seen this woman in his dreams, he had described this shadowed tiefling with the red eyes before. He seemed to believe she was the goddess of the void, the forgotten god. She looked at me and said “What have they done to you child?” A chill went down my back and I was speechless.

Then we were standing in the courtyard of Belghast castle. entire army companies were drilling and they were completely shocked by our sudden arrival. The castle itself was warded and shielded against teleportation and scrying magics but we somehow had completely bypassed all of those defenses. (Incidentally the Gith dagger disappeared, Algus later told us it was an astral object and escaped, good riddance)

We had hundreds of spears pointed in our direction before somebody recognized us and had them stand down. We were quickly brought into the castle. The others who had joined us were a bit surprised since we were traveling directly to see the Duke of Windlass, Sylthana gave me an odd look when I removed my cloak and turned it around to reveal the green side and reset my clasp. She had obviously put together what it represented. They had already heard about the order, no use hiding it now.

When we came into the war room we saw both Duke Alphonse as well as his cousin Duke Malfus Lambert, the duke of the northern providences. A giant of a man with wearing what looked like an entire bear over his armor. He left and we spoke with the Duke before gathering in the hall.

All of the Green vanguard was there save two, Parn and Melita. When asked they gestured to a hillside where we could see three funeral pyres constructed. Melita joined us and told us Parn would not leave where Luci lay. Danam had not been as sneaky as he had thought he was and Parn had discovered the truth before our arrival.

We went to him. The others hung back while myself and Braum came to Parn. Luci looked so peaceful laying there. On the other pyre layed Ashryver, I did not know him for very long but I did miss him, he had been a bit of an ass but oddly enough in my mind that meant he wasn’t trying to deceive me. I didn’t even spare the third Pyre a glance where Orrin was, he could rot for all I cared.

Parn was in a bad way. He had been keeping a vigil over Luci, blaming himself for everything that had happened to us, Almoria, Longsaddle and Belmora. He blamed himself for not protecting us. For being the reason we lost everything in Almoria. I heard him question his own ability and doubt himself. He was completely lost in his grief.

I don’t know why but right then I slapped him as hard as I could. My hand is still stinging from the blow. I think he was shocked by it which was what I hoped to achieve. I told him about the ripples, that he alone was not why Almoria was attacked, if we hadn’t followed his lead we would have died that day. About how we all looked up to his courage and conviction since that day he picked up the stick and tried to take on the bandits. Luci died fighting the Night Sister, because of that she failed, her cult was in shambles now. Luci believed in Parn, he was the first to offer to join the vanguard, he believed in things bigger than he was. Parn seemed to be thinking about it so I pressed into his hands Luci’s journal which I had been carrying with me since that day.

Parn was obsessed with protecting us but in that moment I felt he was the one who needed to be sheltered. Maybe it was the proximity to Luci, I haven’t been sentimental like this before. I quietly took a locket of Luci’s hair with me and kissed his forhead before we left with Parn.

The green vanguard spoke with us then, Warrod was still with us and I could see the recognition between him and Denam. I grinned and pulled out the coin Warrod had given me and flicked it through the air with the words Warrod had said “The Howling sends his regards” Denam caught it and seemed to be cursing under his breath about that before nodding. Warrod left then, guess he didn’t want anything to do with the Vanguard, they will resupply him and we got him out of the desert so hopefully he will be okay.

The Vanguard gave offer to our new companions and Aderyn. They were my friends now so I spoke on their behalf first. I think before I would have held my tongue but now I hoped they would journey with us for a while longer.
Denam and Enrico spoke together for a time before he accepted and Ryland spoke with the gnome druid Misha before he decided to say yes as well.

They began talking about how to do the test of flame later on in the day. Thats when we pulled out the sword and everybody just went into complete shocked silence. I just remember Denam going “I’m good but not that good”

The funeral was beautiful. Sylthana’s speech about life and death was inspired. I even saw Gaspar, the crotchity old dwarf get soft in the eyes. Not that I could see very well, I spent most of the time crying on Elibus’s shoulder (really sorry about that robe)

It was final, Luci was finally gone. I felt the emptiness inside me again.

We leave for Almoria in the morning.

It took us several weeks to travel to Almoria. I hadn’t been back since that day 11 years ago. There seemed no point, it was gone and nothing we could do would change that.
We found the town an empty ruin, the wilds had begun to take it over. I slipped away from the group and left a few flowers on the grave stone marking my adoptive mother’s resting spot. I tried to apologize but I chocked on the words and ran away to rejoin the others.
The pendragon estate had been heavily damaged by the fire but was still mostly intact. A pair of silent graves stood outside, Luci’s parents. Now we were laying their child beside them. I went inside and up the rickety stairs to where Luci’s childhood room had been. Time had not been good to the room, the bed had collapsed and plants and mushrooms now grew from it. The dresser smelled of damp mildew and little remained of his closet. When the cultists attacked they had cast things from the drawers but little now remained with time and nature having reclaimed them. The others had come with and were thoughtful. I glanced down and happened to spot a trim board out of place and remembered Luci had a little hiding spot behind that board. It was easy to remove and I pulled out one of Luci’s little treasure stashes. I had to smile remembering these, inside were little trinkets, a pretty rock he had found, a couple of coins and a small pouch. Inside was a note from Luci’s father, it spoke of something he had taken from the Pendragon family that had to be protected. I pulled out the other object from the bag and caught my breath.

It was a shard of the flame of war.

Suddenly it all clicked. Parn didn’t realize what it was but the shock on Braum and Aderyns face confirmed my fears. We spoke quickly. The attack on Almoria had been orchestrated by the Pendragon family to retrieve the shard. Parn and the ripples were secondary targtets of opportunity. Luci’s father had hidden the shard just before the attack in a place that he hoped Luci would find.

Parn’s rage was palatable. You could see he no longer blamed himself but now knew who was at fault. All those years and finding out there was somebody you could blame, I don’t blame him at all.

I pulled out the other shard and the two pieces snapped together and became one. They could still fit in the box but just barely, if we found another piece they wouldn’t and that would draw trouble to us.

We returned to Belghast

Algus led us to a meeting room but stopped Parn from entering. This was not a meeting for his eyes. Parn seemed hurt and surprised by this but Algus has a way with words. Once we came in we saw Zethul.
The others were curious about who he was and were a bit shocked to realize we were in the presence of a demi-god.

What I had been calling ripples were Reverbs, people whose souls were so old we broke the strings of fate, usually solitary there was a cluster of them in Almoria which was unique and others around us would also become ones.

He also spoke about the Valiants. Historical figures, half celestial who protected and guarded the avatars. Of course I scoffed at notion we were the modern incarnation of these valiants and when he asked why I laughed I pointed out I was hardly celestial. Zethul didn’t think this was a problem and just said I was just the most evidently plane touched.

We asked them about the goddess’s mysterious message, “what have they done to you my child?” they looked confused and asked us to describe her. Recognition spread on their face as Algus said the name “Beleneth? It can’t be” then he looked back and told me that it explained so much. Needless to say I was very confused and asked again. He told us that she was not a goddess, she was the last known Oracle of the Void, unseen since the second age.

She was my mother.

I couldn’t find words in that moment. All I could whisper out in my shock was “then what did she mean?”.

Algus looked at me, looked right through me and said “You know what she means”

My blood turned into ice in my veins.

I couldn’t speak or think. Everything I believed or assumed came crashing down. He knew my secret, I had discovered my mother and she disdained me, I had really messed up my whole life.

There was more talk but my mind was only half on it.

Incredible is the only words to describe it.

The trial was a huge affair. It had never been done before in public, it was always a private affair because sometimes the trial did not do very well, if the bloodline was not right or the sword choose to reject the candidate they were consumed by its wrath. We knew it was a living blade, sentient and very dangerous.
We were positioned off on a flank of the central dais, Much like in a church the center area was packed with representatives and dignitaries from around the country. Nearly every lord in the realm was represented here including officials from Central. We could hear the murmurs as they realized what the sword on the dais was. They couldn’t understand how we had it when it was sealed in the vault.
Alphonse spoke for a bit before Parn came forward. Every eye was on him and he seemed nervous as he walked up. When he glanced in our direction I tried to give him a smile and a nod of support, don’t know if he saw that but we were there for him.

All that was needed for the test was the draw the blade 4 inches. One high king had drawn it 8, it was too powerful and dangerous was what we had heard.

He took hold of the blade and you could feel it awaken. The power came off the blade and glowed as though it was a piece of steel fresh from Braum’s forge. Parn was fully concentrating and seemed in pain. The blade began to loosen and slid out, flames shot up Parns hand and arm and he screamed but he never let go.
Everybody heard a voice, Braum would confirm later that it was the voice of the forgemaster who was the blade. “Prove your worth”.
Parn was nearly consumed in the fire as the blade slipped further and further out, It had reached the 4 inch mark, he had proven himself as king but the voice demanded more. “Prove yourself” it shouted. The blade kept slipping and Parn was now an inferno of heat and flame, even as far back as we were the heat was unbearable, then the light became blinding. We felt the energy pulse through us like a shockwave, it was so powerful you could feel it, maybe not physically but in your soul you felt the power press against you. The light faded and Parn stood there unscathed.

The sword was fully drawn.

The last time that sword had been fully drawn was in the hands of the Avatar Maxmillian. It had never been drawn by another in the whole of the third age. Fear and terror seemed to surge through the crowd. All I could do was smile.

Parn looked out and declared himself to be the rightful king, if you did not support his claim then begone. Maybe half the households left, many dropped to their knee in reverence. I remember him looking at the member of the Pendragon familiy and telling him “I’m coming for you” The look on that man’s face was priceless.

A lot of activity soon followed, although Parn was at the center of it all a few individuals sought us out. We were an enigma, we stood off to the side but close by and people had noticed. One of the lords from Center spoke with us about Parn and we told him honestly that he was a good man who wanted what was best for his people.
The other one who spoke to us was the Royal Court Jester, a bard who during the ceremony Syl had noticed watching Parn in a very different way. She asked a lot of questions but was evasive as heck.

I strongly suspect that Jester might be Parn’s Mother who had an affair with the King.

Her interest in Parn and in the people who are around him isn’t like the politicians. She seems a lot more interested in him and in those of us around him. She says its because she wants to stay in our good graces because if this all is successful we would likely gain titles and positions in the court. I laughed at the thought but still, that would be kinda nice.

Ozruk's Journal - Part 3

We arrived in the city after a few days of travel, the roads were surprisingly empty for a major trade port. One would think there to be many caravans brining wares in and out from the interior.

We found an inn in a decent part of town and began to get a feel for the place. Dozens of pickpockets and thieves which were easy to avoid, nothing unusual.
Seems the trade embargo comes from the Sea Lords, criminal gangs who control the city itself, they appear to be the real power and the local baron is just a figurehead with no real power.

The city is balancing on a knifes edge. The gangs are in a cold war against each other, Alan Pierce is in the church of Ayora and wandering around, bunch of particularly brutal murders going on and rumors of a Wyvern attacking caravans in the area. Absolutely confused about what is happening and where. No wonder the green vanguard was vague about events, we are here and can’t make head or tails of why things are happening and why is this so important. The war with Galgastan hasn’t broken out yet, a few companies of soldiers could walk in and beat down these gangs in a week and be gone once the problem was settled.
I suspect they sent us here to get us out of the way as a favor to Parn.

Things are messier than we supposed, the blockade appears to be related to some mining operation going on. No ships moving out means out of work sailors who are being hired to work in these mines, some kinda archaeological dig. One of the sealords is big on magical artifacts but this seems a bit extreme.

Our local contact turned out to be none other than Jarl. The man we met in Tellus. His granddaughter was doing well and had recovered from her ordeal but they were living an an area called the rats cellar that was worse than a slum.

He introduced us to a young half-elf wizard named Aderyn, apparently somebody who was mentored by Johan. She seemed rather quiet and bookish and extremely proper and polite. I don’t trust her however. She wears the cloak of the Green Vanguard but earlier we were assured we had met all the members. Either she is lying or they were. I will need to keep an eye on her

We met a man called Grog. This seems like Braum’s kind of person, which is not a good thing. I so wanted to kill the guards at the door to the bar. They began mocking me for being a tiefling and telling me the didn’t serve my kind here. I wanted to wipe the smirk off their face but I was stopped. Braum got us in but I’m on edge after that.

This Grog owns the place which seems like a half ship somehow transported halfway up the hill. He seems to know a lot about what is going on. From what I can gather is he is unhappy with the current state of affairs with the Sea Lords and the Embargo and all the corruption.

He introduced us to the other major players, the sorceress Sebina who controls the docks and his brother Hassan who is a smuggler and controls the shipyards

He set us over to the house of Bart, the guy who runs the warehouse district and from there we discovered the dwarven miners having a pay dispute with Bart. From here we met Sostrand, an older dwarven craftsman who oversaw things and he filled us in on the mines. The embargo appears to be funneling out of work sailors into the mines which go under the city where they have found some ruins. Bart is a collector of relics but this seems a bit extreme. We went to check out the dig and we spotted a dwarf helping them out, somebody Sostrand recognized as named Orthos.

We met with the young dwarf Orthos and I was able to pick up that he wasn’t telling us the whole truth. He finally relented and showed us what he had found on a dead miner in the tunnels. It was a small box with a simple lid. I used my detect magic to analyze it and the box seemed oddly unremarkable.

I unfortunately was still looking when I opened the box up. The amount of magical energy that it contained felt like I had been smacked right between the eyes with a mace. It was extremely painful and I gave a yelp of pain before I managed to dismiss my spell.

It was a fragment of something. What it was I have no idea. The inside of the box was engraved with odd markings that Aderyn was able to identify as some kind of blocking spell. Evidently why it appeared unremarkable when closed.

There were some very old ruins under the city, given how deep they were it was likely they were from the second age. He told us about a pair of massive doors that were still sealed and a glass like clocktower that had already been uncovered

The others decided we should head into the mines and see what was on the other side of the doors but still seems like a wild goose chase.

Sostrand introduced us to somebody who could help us out, a woodelf named Ashryver, former soldier from the war and archer and a complete asshole. If the woodelves have a stick this far up their asses I dread to think of meeting an actual high elf.

We made our way through the mines, Our first stop at that unusual glass clocktower thing led to a fight with a wraith and some ghouls after a group of workers managed to wake it up. It was an interesting challenge, It killed one of the workers but Bruam threw the dead body away preventing it from raising it as another ghoul.

Further in we found a lost city. This was an entire city under Belmora, I remember hearing that the sea levels rose at the end of the second age so this might have been exposed at one point, now frozen lava flows covered everything. The path was well marked going deeper through this city. A golem of some kind wandered the streets, some sort of ancient defence or more recent?

Using Ip’Nix to scout ahead he discovered Alan Pierce on the other side of the city.
We tried to sneak in and made it part way before the golem noticed us and gave chase.
It began pursuing us and my poor little Ip’Nix was grabbed and the monster pulverized it. In the final area of the city there was a clear courtyard space with a single bridge leading out over a river of lava. I don’t know how this lava hadn’t solidified though that answer was soon to come. Some of us made it over the bridge but others who had ducked for cover were caught out. In the ensuing fight I saw Xanaphus slipping back over the bridge, she didn’t even stop to help deal with the monster or save our companions and that Ashryver falling back firing arrows.

Heroes of the fight there was definitely Aderyn and Braum. A grease spell to flip it on its back and Braum shoving it into the lake of lava.

When we finally confronted the architect of it all, Alan Pierce, he did not seem to be surprised at all. If anything he was expecting us. He stood there contemplating a statue of a giant man in heavy armor. I recognized it from drawings in history books as the Avatar of Freya.

He asked us if we had ever heard of a place called Gelan, I remembered it was a city from the second age but not much beyond that, he scoffed at us so I had a few harsh words but he kept laughing us off before he literally peeled his face off like a macabre mask.

It was Johan. We had been betrayed by one of the Vanguard. I was nearly blind with my rising anger at this. He wanted the Flame of war, that shard we had found in the box. He offered us our lives if we gave it to him but I knew this to be a lie.

We were dead.

This man was an archmage and honestly nothing we could do would stop him, we couldn’t even run. I pulled the shard from the box and fired my eldritch bolt which slammed into the statue he stood by. He mocked me for desecrating the statue and it was a kind of long shot that the real avatar could be awoken so easily.

He demanded the shard from us again and we refused him, if I’m going to die its not as a dog begging. I knew he outclassed us but I didn’t realize how much. In an instant he blurred, the shard was out of my hand and a force wall separated our half of the room from him. I heard Adreyn yelling about Time Magic and the others slammed into the wall trying futily to break through. He just stood there ignoring us like insects while examining the shard.

My rage blinded me, he had won and we had lost. The futility of everything just crashed down and almost without thought I did the one thing I could do that nobody else could. I saw Luci glance back at me briefly as he heard me snap out the incantation in Infernal just before I took the step.

I was on the other side of the wall with Johan. I knew it was stupid, in the back of my mind I was screaming to run away but I was fueled by just anger at this point. Maybe if I broke his concentration to drop the wall. He didn’t seem to see me and I could hear him mumbling to himself as he examined the shard. I wanted to punch him in that smug face when I saw something. I could see the statue lighting up.
Suddenly my rage was quenched with the idea that this Avatar could be alive. I pulled up short and began unloading bolts at him and although I hit him it was like I was bouncing pebbles off of a building. Part of his face peeled off to reveal something… else… underneath. He seemed amused, The statue was starting to glow with magma, I just kept Johan looking away from it, I was sure I was going to die but dammit Johan was coming with me.

The statue awoke with a roar the shook the entire room Everybody was completely stunned. It turned towards Johan who was just babbling that this was impossible before the thing proceeded to rip him into bloody shreds. I was just frozen, this thing was more powerful than anything I had ever seen and I was less than 15 feet away. I felt a hand on my shoulder then suddenly I was on the side side of the room with the others.

It was Algus, he yelled to gather together and I clutched on his arm terrified as the Monster roared again. A sudden surge and feeling like my stomach had dropped through the floor and we were all standing outside on a plain with runic symbols burned into the grass around us from the teleportation spell.

He took us to a nearby inn called the Hunter and Goblet where we rested the night. I definitely needed the rest after today.

Elibus, hero of Lodis. That was Algus’s real name all along. I can’t believe it, the man who helped win the war was the same man who took in a group of bedraggled war orphans. The same man who could have had titles and lands was the same one who put up with all the trouble I have caused over my life and comforted me when I was crying because of how others were treating me.

I wasn’t sure how to take the news, He was a hero the bards would tell stories about but he was still Algus, the kind old man who tucked me in at night. I don’t know if I can ever call him Elibus. He’s still the one who I consider my father.

He told us Johan had been dead for many years and this demon had taken his place long before Johan rose to political power, given he rose to prominence during the ending of the war that meant he had been here for at least 15 years. Algus had been seeking out the connections and told us he had even gone to the astral sea to try and track down those who knew Johan before and all of them had been murdered.

We knew now what was going on, at least partly. In the guise of Alan pierce he had influence over Barbas and forced the embargo to redirect people to the mines. He had been seeking the flame of war the entire time, he had just been stymied by the theft of it and subsequent acquisition by the young dwarf miner. He knew we had it but did not know the significance of it and guessed that we would still be seeking out the ruins. Nobody had guessed that the statue of the avatar was still alive and would awaken upon seeing the flame of war, an artifact of Freya.

The Avatar was a dagger pointed straight at the heart of the city and nobody knew he was there. The Avatars as representatives of the gods will had warred during the second age and nearly destroyed the world doing so. The calamities they wrought were what ended the second age and their unchecked power would easily destroy us mortals like insects.

Algus is heading northeast to Belghast Castle to deliver word to the Green Vanguard about Johan’s betrayal.

The others are eager to return to Belmora but I have my doubts. Johan betrayed us, he was a leader among the Green Vanguard and I do not know if I can trust them. Algus seemed to sense my unease and spoke softly to me before he left “Trust your friends”. I could only sigh and watch as he departed.

I will think about it but I don’t know

We arrived back in the city to be immediately ripped off by the horse stables who demanded twice the going rate for having kept our horses longer than we had originally paid for. When this is all over I’m gonna steal my money back from that crooked son of a bitch.

Luci checked out the church and everything just felt wrong to him. They were hiding something and he seemed stunned by the ostentatious display of wealth rather than spending it trying to help people. Luci is a bit too idealistic, but he did find out Allen Pierce had arrived with a Cardinal, this was the base of his operations.

Alan Pierce, Johan, is dead now but the events he set in motion are still clicking away like a freshly wound clock. The cold war that has been in place is about to burst open and we need more allies to contain it. We finally spoke to the one person who should have been able to stop this but has been nearly absent while this city tears itself apart, the baron of Belmora.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. What we found was a very young man, not much older than we were who was completely in over his head. The city guards were all corrupt and he was having to pay off Barbas to maintain control. His Father had died and he had been unprepared to take command or keep the Sea Lords under control. No small wonder that Barbas had taken advantage of the situation and expanded his control.

We told him what we knew about the Sea Lords and he agreed that the entire situation was ready to explode. He could forcibly lift the embargo but that would cause Barbas to kill those still loyal to the Baron so we had to ensure their safety if we went that route. He also asked us to eliminate Alan Pierce and he was relived when we told him that was already done although we did not reveal how. He gave us quite a bit of intel as to the extent of Barbas’s operations including where the slaves were going.

Orthos is dead, Bart discovered he was working with us and killed him as a warning, Sostrand has disappeared, we believe him to be captured though we do not know where. Duman, the city guard captain made threats towards us, we know that half-orc is working for Barbas.

Xanaphus left to try and extract the old Hierarch Hemil of the Church of Ayora. When the Bishop arrived with Alan pierce the old Hierarch was displaced relatively easily. A corrupt man but one who may have information and broken now. She eventually returned, the Hierarch was safely with the Nephtites but his remaining alcoylyte had been killed by one Dumas’s men when they had been ambushed.

Sebrina told us about Al’Lim, the one committing the seemingly random murders. The man was possessed by something and turned into a psycho monster on us. We killed him but looking around we could tell that he wasn’t in his right mind and was being used, we kept hearing voices of something else there but couldn’t see anything.
I have this really sick feeling in my stomach, this man was an innocent victim and we were forced to kill him. This is the first time I’ve really killed somebody who was innocent and it just feels so wrong.

In the basement were tunnels leading all around the city, the markings were in infernal so whatever was controlling him was demonic in nature, I just wish I could have figured this all out before.

The tunnels would make for a way to evacuate the key people if needed but we needed a safe place to transport them to. Naturally the Church of Nephtas was the safest place. Funny how the halls of death were the safest place to remain alive.

We had returned to Jarl and began the evacuation of the Rat’s Cellar. He understood what we needed and himself and his grand daughter soon were packed. He is a proud man and not one to take charity but to be forced to flee a home a second time? I slipped some gold into his travel pack, hopefully that will help him. I saw Ashryver give a half smile and he had a twinkle in his eye, I think he saw me do it but he kept his silence for which I was grateful.

Some who could not travel were directed to the church, the others to get out of town. Xanaphus and Orrin elected to provide escort for the evacuation, there was still rumors of the wyvern outside the city although we had seen nothing of it when we traveled back to Belmora, it seemed to only attack caravans lending credulence to the idea it was being controlled.

I wonder what the Sea Lords and the corrupt nobles thought? Probably good riddance to an annoying problem. I don’t think they gave any thought to why the rats were leaving the ship.

We gathered our own army. Grog was the original sea lord and still had his forces. We spoke with Sebina and when we told her about the slave ships in her harbor she became enraged. Speaking about the monsters being created by Bart was also a hot point with her.

Hassan is also in so we are going after the entire operation tonight. Grog is moving after the slavers, Sebina is taking the fight to the labs. We are heading toward the church.

On our way things went… odd.

I don’t know how Ashryver spotted him but he seemed surprised that he was spotted. A demi-god named Zuthul. A forgotten god of time. He was surprisingly helpful to us. Told us the gods have certain rules they follow and some are breaking those rules so he was there to push back a little bit. He gave us all a gift. A magical bow for Ashryver, a magical hammer for Braum, That funny lantern for Luci that we had before in the plane of the hungry dead. Some scrolls for Aderyn and I received a necklace.
Not just any old necklace, The stone that dangled from it held what looked like a green flame that danced like it was alive. This I realized I had seen in history books as the Eye of Tu’Mur, a warlock focus and one attuned with the infernal planes. This was a priceless gift and I was quite happy with such a relic.
He also told us he would answer a question from each of us. While the others asked about Bart or the Church I thought it over for a few minutes before asking something that had been bugging me for a while.

“Whose side is he on?”

The answer was simply “His own, and that is not his name”

It was a bit of a relief actually. I was beginning to think with all these issues with the Lock that my Patron might be part of it all and force me to act against my friends. If was I would have had to run as far away as I could before that happened. That I did not know his name was not a surprise. True names have a lot of power over demons and likely even the name he gave me was different than what others might call him, demons are nothing if not deceptive.

We left and headed in towards the city when I saw the Compass glowing, it seemed to be trying to guide me towards the golden district. Following the hunch we headed in that direction before it all went to hell.

The ground collapsed into tunnels just beneath the surface and swarms of undead began pouring out. Looking down the hill we could see this was all over the city. The mining had carved a giant arcane runes into the ground and now they were springing the trap.

We took a rest in the alley bind our wounds and

We stopped nearby for a rest

I took shelter in a nearby building to rest and recuperate

Braum and Luci’s injuries were not too bad, we were able to bind them up quickly before we moved on

Ashryver is a dick, well at least that works, and is true

So we choose to take a break and rest for a while before we went to the Avatar.

(next page is half ripped apart with more things written and crossed out)

DAMN those gods or demigods or whatever!

Curse their stupid rules I know what the hell happened why can’t I write anything down straight? We stopped for a rest DAMNIT! How the HELL is that happening? I try to write and what I want to say isn’t what I write. Anytime I talk about the rest we took FUCK I can’t even use the right words when I want to use them don’t the gods have something better to do than enforce stupid rules? They mess with my journal but that can’t be half arsed to actually help us out and save the world. Who the hell made these people gods anyway that they spend all their time make sure nobody talks about that jeweler who makes the really nice silver necklaces with the little glass dragons hanging from them

Oh sure thats what you gods want to spend your time doing? Are you doing this just to piss me off? You all want us to save the world then you sit there and mess with us. Goddamnit you all suck, we are sitting down here getting hurt and injured while you play around with your fancy rules and when you do give us some help you have to be all cryptic and shit instead of telling us outright hey you need so and so to help you. You expect us to save the world from the mess YOU created with all your stupid rules then you use those same goddamn rules against us in some weird way trying to undermine what we do even if its just writing a damn journal entry, its not like we are just walking through and resting here on a regular basis.

Fine you win, I give up trying to talk about the rest we tookFUCK YOU!

(Part of a quill is broken off and stabbed into the page)


(a torn page placed in between entries)
So what happened?

My mind if finally clear enough to write this down so I am placing it in my journal where it needs to be, so a record of their heroism exists.

We found the Avatar. He wasn’t happy about our intrusion back into his domain but we called out the name we read about (FUCK YOU!), “Mekushio” and that caused him to halt. We told him everything we could in the short time we had. He held out his hand and a sword formed from magma through the floor and into his hand. We were directed to stand close by, just being near something this terrifying again made me want to run but we did. A flash of power and again that sensation of my stomach freefalling and we stood outside in Belmora.
The undead freely roamed the streets and the dracoliche could be seen intermittently between the buildings as it flew around. The heat from the Avatar increased driving us a bit away from him as his rage seemed to take hold. He held up his sword and you could see the celestial energy pulse out from him, through us and expand throughout the streets. I have seen Luci turn undead but nothing on this scale. The undead as far as I could see were instantly incinerated by the power. He directed us to the church while looking skyward at the dracoliche circling above, he lunged suddenly with such speed he became a blur.
We turned and found our way in through a side door of the church, the main entrance being blocked. Inside we were beset by shadow wraiths but nothing we could not handle. The next room was an open courtyard area and a detection spell from Luci sensed something in there. Myself and Ashryver slipped up the stairs to the upper level where an open walkway skirtted the perimeter of the courtyard.

Turned out to be an attempted ambush. Dumas himself with a cleric was what Luci sensed. Up above archers were waiting to ambush. Didn’t work very well when myself and Ashryver jumped them. I heard yelling below including braum cursing Luci for charging in. I was nearly directly above them so I didn’t see exactly what happened but it was sounding bad. The archers up above were completely off balance. The one I fought fumbled his bow over the edge, tried to come after me but I had laid down some caltrops and ended up getting himself killed. Ashryver tried to lock one into a side room where the idiot tried to hide but the guy escaped, tripped and ashryver threw him over the edge before jumping over himself to land on the archer.
About this point I turned to the fight below and it was messy, Luci was hurt, Braum was bleeding bad, aderyn had taken a few blows, Dumas looked ready for more. I began unloading on him and his pet cleric while Ashryver charged in. Dumas was a beast, I saw Ashryver, Braum and Luci all get knocked out. His cleric was dead but he really wanted a piece of me and began heading for the stairs before Aderyn finished him off.
We recovered ourselves, nobody had been killed but we were weak. I was probably in the best shape but I was scared we wouldn’t make it.

Bit ashamed but I was holding out my fly spell in case I needed to run away.

In the main room we found the night sister herself. Bodies covered everything, Posted to the pillars and corpses laid out to form arcane summoning circles. Glowing lines of energy led out from the circle and out to both the windows and the pillars festooned with bodies. I don’t know where or how they got this many corpses. I’ve seen so many things that are just wrong I’m becoming numb to the horrors. Seeing people dead doesn’t shock me anymore, should I be worried? How much more of a step is it until I am willing to kill innocents to get what I want because I just don’t care anymore? I let one person die already but keep telling myself he was evil but am I any better?

She mocked us, told us we were too late, she had what she wanted and was opening the lock. Shadowy tenacles lashed out from around us and I found myself bound helplessly and all I could do was futilely struggle. I saw Aderyn try to shatter the shield protecting the night sister but to no avail, seeing the energy from the circle Braum began using his magical hammer to knock down the bodies from the pillars and I heard the windows shatter as the others attacked them. Church pews that were pushed out to the walls floated in the air and were hurled at my companions to try and stop them.

Through it all I was useless. I couldn’t free myself and I never saw Luci fall. He was struck by one of the flying pews and fell unconscious. If only I had seen him fall, I could have sent Ip’Nix to aid him even if I was useless.

I finally broke out and did the only thing I could think of and threw a fireball directly into the middle of the summoning circle to throw it off. The explosion threw bodies away and incinerated others only to find the circle was carved into the floor iteself.

It was then the Lock opened. We saw something then that was impossible. Malgav, the demon lord came into the material plane. He roared in triumph and the Night Sister laughed mockingly at us. I looked at her and said one thing to her “We brought our own monster”. The smile on her face was gone when the Avatar appeared. He said something then “You made one mistake, in this world you can be killed” before launching into an attack on the demon.

It was incredible to see. The battle roared but almost as suddenly this clash of titans came to an end with the Avatar’s flaming blade punching clean through the monstrosity.
Malgav fell and as he did the Night Sister had but a moment to scream “NO!” before his bulk crushed her.

It was then I realized Luci was dead. I saw him and thought he was okay, he couldn’t be dead, he had gotten hurt before and knocked unconscious but he made it. I don’t know what I screamed or if it was animalistic cry of hurt. I felt like I had been stabbed through the heart and couldn’t think or see straight at all. I cursed the gods and begged them in the same breath to bring him back. I even begged my service to any other power that could restore him to no avail. Braum pulled me away from him finally and I just stood there sobbing.

The archer, Ashryver was also dead, he too I did not see fall.

The Avatar was leaning against the wall, he seemed, smaller. Like he was drained. His movements were sluggish and he told us his time was done. He asked us to deliver his sword to somebody worthy. The flaming blade cooled and became a sword in a sheath wrapped in blue silk. Braum took the blade reverently and promised him we knew who to bring it to. The Avatar just nodded, slumped against the wall and seemed to disintergrate before our eyes. We also reclaimed the shard of the flame of war and I safely sealed it in the box. Maybe Algus will know what to do.

Malgav too half rotted, half disintegrated right there leaving only his horn behind. I had an impulse to take it and so I did placing it carefully into my pouch. I didn’t realize until later why.

We were sheltered by Hassan. Grog and him had reconciled during the events, Sereena was dead. For all her fiery anger she had died as a hero and thousands of people survived because of her actions. The Baron died in the madness. Sostrand survived. Zot burned in his own slave ship. Bart and Barbas were long dead and being animated as puppets of the Night sister. The Hierach of Ayora died as well as the Hierach of Nephtias who took out the bridges to stop the undead..

Rumors were already flying about who caused it, the church could be expected to move in quickly to cover up and we had to leave before our involvement became known. Hassan put us on one of his smuggling vessels and we slipped out of Belmora with our fallen comrades.


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