Blades at Dawn

Adventure Journal of Luc Urban, entry 5
well of the gods

Things have become very strange. Is this the gods’ way of answering my plea for help?

Last night Kalleon kept insisting we go to the Altar of the Raven Queen. We all finally agreed, and late at night we approached the dark building. Inside we found a figure standing near the altar. Why an angel of Erathis would be in the Raven Queen’s temple I will never know, but we let it lead us through a door that wasn’t a door, and into a dark corridor that that led to a well surrounded by figures. The angel kept whispering, telling me to take my place while the onlookers commented on how stupid a human I was. Eventually I stepped up beside them to the symbol of Erathis, feeling more irritated than I had any right to, and was asked—or more like told—that I had to start the meeting. Of course I didn’t understand, and I was greeted by more jeers about being a clueless human, that I’d been taught nothing; even a succubus kept up jibes against me when she wasn’t trying to seduce me.

Through all that, though, we did learn of Nero’s seal, and that we were needed to help restore it. Or more like, they seemed to think they needed me. They wouldn’t listen when I informed them I wasn’t a true Highborn, although I can’t deny that hearing them say blood wasn’t everything made me happy. They confirmed what Mother has always said. But still, why would they choose me? I’ve done nothing to warrant any confidence in my ability to lead, and especially not in Lencia. How can I presume to speak as an equal to someone like Dame D’Aubry or Lady D’Urinda? And Kaela did more talking and convincing than I managed, and actually got things accomplished.

But at least now we have a plan. I do feel slightly better knowing where to go next, but we’ve still wasted so much time. We head for the Green Isles soon, while the others at the meeting will all investigate other possible leads.

On the way home we were attacked by creatures Kalleron says were once Deva. They disguised themselves as drunken sailors, and waylaid us on a back road. They seemed to be after Stormlit, though now I’m not so sure. Kalleron teleported himself to a rooftop to take care of archers in the back while I stood my ground as they peppered me with arrows. Half the fake sailors descended on me with swords, but Kaela and Stormlit gave me backup and fell the creatures. Kalleron managed the three archers all on his own, although he himself also took a bit of damage.

After the battle I went to check the archers left on the roofs as I’m best suited to climbing, and Kalleron and Kaela asked Stormlit about why she said she was a freed slave. I found a ring on one of the corpses, as well as an old, faded chemise that made Kaela nervous. Questioning her got us nowhere, however, and so we were forced to return home without any real answers. Kalleron did get her to promise not to withhold anything should the matter mean life or death, however.

But even though we have a plan, getting the ship to take us proved…difficult. All the Captains and officers are Highborn, and no one at the port will do anything of their own volition. Eventually we were told we needed permission from the Council. Of course I have permission from House D’Urban, but they demanded the signatures of Lady D’Urinda and Dame D’Aubry as well. We made our way to the Council Chambers and were let in to see Lady D’Aubry. Even with the knowledge that we had to get this ship, that even the gods wanted this, it was difficult to face her head-on. Kalleron and Kaela get urging me to speak up, to be more confident, but it’s hard to speak to Highborn.

Whatever we said, we didn’t seem to convince the Lady, and soon enough she sent for Dame D’Aubry. I shouldn’t say this, but she is more intimidating than any Highborn I’ve ever met. I thought our tea was strained, if civil, but having her question us about why we needed the ship, about who told us we needed it… Even Kaela had trouble not spilling everything. I know she’s one of the only Highborns left, but I can’t bring myself to tell her everything, especially not the part about this being a quest from the gods to stop the resurrection of some dark being.

I’m not sure how we eventually convinced them. They talked about responsibility to this city, and I know that I do have a responsibility here while Mother is away. But I know she’ll return, and I told them as such. I even offered to stay behind if she hadn’t returned by the time the ship was ready to sail. Perhaps that’s what convinced them of our sincerity, I don’t know. All I can do is thank them for placing their trust in us.

I just hope nothing else happens to Lencia while we’re away. The figures said the seal still remained because one Highborn is still alive, and I have to assume they mean Dame D’Aubry. I’m sure she can handle herself, but I can’t help feeling cautious. But I can’t tell her that, since she doesn’t know about the seal.

…But I want to believe they meant my Lady Mother. Those at the well said that the seven who were taken weren’t a part of the Highborn who are left, but I need to believe she’s alive and waiting for us. I have to.

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Can't Sleep

Can’t sleep, and a little jealous compounded with guilt. I am jealous of the lithe harmonious mumblings I hear through the floor originating from fey Kalleron’s room.

Kaela’s room is quiet but I can feel more happiness coming in the air tonight. I can only assume Luc’s mother Syral has picked him up and hugged him strongly. I wish I can say I was happy for them, but I don’t know my charges well yet.

Eating stolen cake to take my mind off things only makes me wonder more. I wonder if this cake was meant for a wedding that Kalleron hints at? My instincts tell me the dwarf woman has no interest emotionally in Luc – does Luc have huge tracts of land that she is after?

Eating alone without Piaxla and all the L.F.D., even Abrams…I shouldn’t have taken this cake. I should meditate. Tex should be here. Emthri should be here! I should return the cake? I should…doors opening! Ah! Put the fork down you stupid cow!
Luc is saying something, but I’m frozen in embarrassment.
St bedcake op
I should lock the door.

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Adventure Journal of Luc Urban, entry 4
following clues

I feel like I’m beginning to lose myself. I cannot rein in my temper at all. Ever since I rampaged through the mansion after S’Jet and Amirah ran off, my temper has been razor-thin. The smallest things set me off and I just become a burden to my companions. And I just feel tired all the time, as though a haze has blanketed my mind and slowed me down. Now that we’ve returned home I feel slightly better, but that gnawing worry, the thought that we’ll be too late, that we’ve already taken too much time—I can’t shake it.

Losing Emthri has not helped, either. Something happened to him in the Tiefling Manor, and I’m afraid I’m partly to blame for it as well. We were attacked by some gargoyles while exploring a church to Asmodeus in the Manor, and he was hit by one of their attacks. We killed the creature but Emthri was acting strange, and without thinking I hit him with the same stone the monster had. But instead of reversing the effects like I expected, it simply made them worse. He kept hitting himself with stone tablets, and grew stranger and stranger as we tried to explore the church. Eventually he became a crystal statue like the ones we saw in the ballroom, and when Kalleron and I tried to help he simply shattered. I could only stare at the pieces of him in shock, and if not for Tex’s arrival I think we would have remained there trying to fix our friend.

Tex is… Mother said before not to rely on him (…her?), but she never really spoke badly of him. But I cannot like him. Perhaps it’s due to that haze, to my constant anger, but I… I don’t want to deal with him, not ever. I’m flattered he said I resemble my Lady Mother, but to say I’ve taken nothing from Mother? That I don’t resemble her at all? Kalleron would have yelled, but part of me wishes I’d raised my sword against such insults. Luckily we didn’t have long to talk—not that he thought I was worth talking to—as he took what was left of Emthri and simply left us.

But he did leave someone behind. I ran headlong into her as we made a quick retreat from the church, and we landed in a very uncomfortable, tangled heap. I apologized, but I’m not sure she accepted it. She’s like no one I’ve seen before. She says she’s a Genassi, and she’s a bard like Aunt Shira, and she said she was sent by Tex to watch over us. Though I’m not sure I completely trust her, the way she talks of Emthri at least reassures me that she is his friend (and that he’ll somehow be alright). Tex’s influence notwithstanding, she’s done nothing so far to prove herself false, and she’s been a great ally in battle.

We stopped by Charlotte’s room one last time before we left (but not before being attacked again by those strange creatures). There we saw a miniature of the Clock of Midnight. She seemed amused at our interest, and touched a button on the top so that it let out music that was torture. I think it was Supernal, but I don’t want to remember it. But it did give us a clue, and so we headed back to Lencia to check the archives and find maps of the old ruins this city was built upon.

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the door before something else happened.  I don’t know if it was because of that awful music or not, but somehow we all realized we shared half-remembered dreams. I remember the sound of spears being butted against the floor, and Kalleron does as well. But Kaela remembered more, and when she told us this word they had been chanting, suddenly she cried out in agony. If not for Stormlit, she may not have made it back to Lencia. When she could speak again she claimed she’d seen a younger, vicious version of my Lady Mother, and that it was her who caused her pain. I cannot and will not believe that was actually my mother that she saw. She would never hurt any of us, especially not to the extent Kaela suffered. Kalleron suspected a doppelganger or some other strange magic. But it cannot be her. It can’t.

At the very least, though, we are back home. It doesn’t feel like home anymore, though. The streets are quiet, the mood subdued beyond recognition. And the thought of my sisters, frozen in stone— The dangers I have not protected them from only increase, and still I’m left untouched. The only other Highborn left are Mother, Dame D’Aubry, and the D’Urinda family. And Mother has disappeared without telling anyone where she went. I really wanted to ask her about

We eventually headed off to the Council Chambers, though, as Kalleron was eager to check the archives for any old maps that could help us. I once again lost my temper, and I fear I have done serious damage to the confidence of a young dwarf. This inability to stop myself, to check my actions, is wearing thin. I’m beginning to fear being in public. I may have already ruined things for my family and House D’Urinda. I’m lucky that our tea with Dame D’Aubry went as well as it did.

Not that I remember why we ended up at tea with the Dam, but we left on civil terms, at least. That time is a little fuzzy. I remember going up to talk with some clerks while Kalleron and Kaela remained in the map room, and Stormlit came with me. I’d just gotten upstairs and began to discuss things when Dame D’Aubry arrived…and then we were having tea. Kalleron keeps saying something strange happened, but while she is a powerful magic user, I’m not so sure she would be capable of something like…whatever Kalleron may suspect. Although I do wonder why she wanted to speak with us at all. From what we’ve gathered, it’s obvious why I wasn’t also turned to stone, so I can’t imagine she’d want to ask me about that. And I have no power in my family, and no real need to speak with House D’Aubry’s Matriarch.

Later we’ll head out in search of more possible clues. Kalleron keeps insisting we go to the Altar of the Raven Queen, so I guess we’ll go there.

Maybe I’ll be able to keep myself in check this time.

I hope.

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What happens here, stays here.

A door silently opened leading into a dark room, and a small humanoid female slowly tiptoed in. Soft snores could be heard coming from the bed within. The small female came to a stop a few feet from said bed. The moonlight reflected off her black eyes. She slowly lowered herself towards the floor, her muscle tightened. Then she sprung, leaping high into the air and pounced on the unsuspecting victim, shouting, “Flying Gnome Attack!”

The victim screamed and leaped up, grabbing a dagger in one hand as she swung with the other. The gnome easily dodged it and laughed as she corrected her posture. “I’m quite happy that you didn’t try to stab me first,” she said between breaths.

“Damn it, Ma! What are you trying to do? Crush the air out of my chest?” Kaela bellowed towards her mother, who had yet to remove herself from her lap.

Shira sobered up instantly. “Are you calling me fat?” Her eyebrow rose in challenge.

Kaela ignored her mother’s antics and returned her daggers underneath her pillow.

“So you started sleeping with your daggers now?”

Kaela shrugged.

“Well— you are an adventurer now. Awww. Look at my babies, they’re all grown up. Going around saving people and taking money.” Shira sniffed and wiped away the non-existent tears.

Kaela rolled her eyes.

Noticing that her antics were unappreciated, Shira hauled herself off her daughter and plopped down next to her. “So I heard that you and your brother are getting into trouble… as usual.”

Kaela shrugged nonchalantly and scratched the back of her head.

“I also heard that you fought in a battle, went to some crazy Tiefling house, shattered you friend, and meet….Tex— all while being grounded.”

Kaela suddenly found the corner opposite of her very interesting.

Shira continued in a lower, more serious tone. “I also heard you saw something that you recognized.”

Kaela stiffened.

“It looks like the past has finally caught up,” Shira sighed.

A shiver went down Kaela’s spine. She was unable to look into her mother’s eyes. Shira jumped off the bed and walked towards the door. She locked it, pulled out her wand, and cast several spells.

“There!” She twirled around, wand still in hand. “That’s to keep the boys out.” Walking back slowly, she softly said, “Nothing will leave this room.” She leaped on the bed, crossed her legs, and positioned herself to face her now panicked daughter.

“It’s time we talk.”

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Kalleron's Memories Part VIII
Trials and tribulations

As the captain was walking off the way we came, I remembered that he had with him all of the scrolls from the library, which would surely be lost on someone such as him, so I followed him (at a discreet distance). Surprisingly, he started to read one of the scrolls after a while and prepare ritual components. Perhaps I underestimated this fighter. The ritual he was doing was unfamiliar and was turning him insubstantial…and all his possessions with him. I only had moments to us my ghost hand to liberate as many scrolls as I could from him. He noticed what had happened and started to mutter a curse, I imagine, before he disappeared entirely. I then heard the dulcet tones of William’s voice in the distance, so I decided to rejoin my companions in the clearing. Along the way, I met up with Luc who was quite upset that I had “let” Flasheart get away. Even the armload of scrolls I procured from him did nothing to please the dour fighter. Oh well, I cannot imagine that pleasing him will be that easy until this search reaches its conclusion. Anyway, upon our return to the clearing we proceeded to search for any clues as to where we needed to go. We searched for a good while, but found nothing of interest. While searching Kaela noticed that Emthri was missing and then saw something or someone being dragged through the brush. She investigated and found some drag tracks leading away from the clearing, and while Luc was very gung ho, I was advocating caution. Going into a dense thicket, single-file on our hands and knees seemed to scream out “TRAP!!” in my mind. However, we had no other leads, and Luc would not be dissuaded, so we went off crawling through the brush. After a little while, Luc (who had taken point) came upon some strange markings on the ground. I basically had to crawl on top of him to get a look at the markings, much to the amusement of my sister who could barely contain her giggling. As to the markings, depending on how you looked at them, they could have been two languages. I switched places with Luc and used my magic to translate what looked to be primordial, which merely said, “Thank you for coming.” I could not make sense of the other and with the great impatient one behind me I did not want to spend the time to translate it. So, we pressed on and found ourselves on a little hill with no further clues as to where to go until Kaela saw a strange scene in the distance. A figure, who appeared to be Emthri was sitting at the head of a long table, which was set up for dinner party, or so it seemed. There were also some guards (the same insect-like humanoids from before) patrolling the area, so Kaela went ahead while Luc and I hung back, still within reach should a problem arise. We waited for a while until we saw Kaela reach the table and approach Emthri. She was staring at him for a long time (and perhaps she was talking to him too) before Luc and I beheld a frightening sight…a large hydra had come out of the trees behind her. Luc and I wasted no time in running pel-mel toward the table; however, upon reaching it I noticed that the hydra was not William, and that it had not taken any aggressive actions. The guards seemed docile and some were wearing bowties and had towels draped over their arms…like human house servants. I lowered my guard somewhat and after a bit Luc did the same. The hydra was female, as it turned out, and was named Gayleen. She invited us to join her for dinner and entertainment and before we could even think of saying “no,” three chairs rose from the ground. So, we had no choice but to be her guests. After my fear of another hydra battle subsided (a little) I noticed the grotesquerie that had become of Emthri sitting at the table. Every injury that William dealt him looked just as fresh as if the battle had just occurred, and, stranger still, there was a pair of yellow eyes gazing out of his chest like some foul familiar that had been grafted to his heart. Thus did our little dinner party begin.

Other tables and chairs sprouted from the ground, and other guests began to arrive. We were treated with every courtesy, though our gracious hostess seemed to prefer addressing Kaela and Luc than myself. Apparently, the graces I picked up from the Eladrin are not favored by hydras. Unlike her male counterpart, Gayleen seemed to be aware of what was going on outside the house as well as whom we were, despite the fact that she gave us all different names. She also intimated that she knew what we were seeking and could possibly help us, but we first had to watch a special presentation some of the other guests’ children had prepared. This was by far our best lead, so we all agreed to watch the show. These kids put on a play, which turned out to be a bastardized account of our parents, the Shadow hunters; the Heroes of Outlook. My father was portrayed as male whore who slept with everyone who had a pulse. Mother was the narrator, which made sense, but that was her greatest role aside from being taken advantage of by the horny elf. Luc’s mother had it worse as Syral and her people were relegated to paper cut-outs strapped to other’s sleeves, and were all but subservient to Miria’s people. The details were wrong and the names were not changed to protect the innocent. Luc and I were commenting to each other about the show and wondering how these kids could have heard about the Shadow Hunters, but we were quickly shushed by some nearby guests. After the curtain fell, we applauded and told Gayleen that we greatly enjoyed the show. She did not quite believe us, I do not think, but she carried on and told us that in order to find out where Miria was, we had to pass four trials: the trials of the hand, head, heart, and head (Gayleen thought it only natural to have two head trials). Before we began the trials, however, she altered everyone at the table who had mixed lineage causing us to grow two heads!! My mind was still whole, but my head had divided into one Gnome head and one Elf (the same fate had been inflicted on Kaela and even Emthri). On one hand I was curious as to how she had done this, but I was also disconcerted and panicked that I might have remained that way. I did not want to have two heads, but despite my requests, Gayleen said that she could do nothing until the trials were over. She asked, “So, which trial will you do first?” I replied first and said, “The hand.” She gave her ascent and then chose Kaela for the trial, and with a gesture my sister was teleported onto a table with a devil. Another devil was on a different table a few feet from them. The object was for Kaela to either knock her opponents off the table or down, and though she succeeded in the former a couple of times the devils kept cheating. I pleaded to be allowed to participate but was refused. I wish I had gotten mother’s gift for diplomacy. Eventually, I convinced Gayleen to allow me to help, but then Luc usurped my spot and jumped onto the platform. So, I assisted in what ways I could from the table by casting protective magics. On the table, Kaela’s head was returned to normal as Gayleen explained the fight was fair now, two heads against two. I was NOT amused! The two won the battle, after which coins were discovered at the body of a devil Kaela had killed. I wish I could have helped more, but the two of them handled themselves very well. So, we moved on to the trial of the head. We were presented with a riddle centered on the ever-so-slow waiter Roman and the rose pinned to his chest. Luc and I were stumped, but Kaela came to the rescue and discerned that the clue was “raw minerals.” After that little bit of intellectual gymnastics, we went on to the trial of the heart, which was for Luc alone. He had to gaze into three bowls of water that would show him three different images depicting the same scene. Kaela and I were not privy to this, but according to Luc they were all about his mother Syral. She reacted to seeing her son in three different ways, one happy to see him, one angry to see him, and a third which, according to him, seemed disappointed. (It is important to note that I had to hear of these matters after the fact and thus I cannot speak as to their veracity or accuracy) The images disturbed him greatly and he wound up choosing the wrong image. So, that was three trials down and one to go. The last trial of the head was more of a trial of the stomach. After a bit more sparkling conversation (as well as an expression of disappointment that we could not solve anymore riddles) with Gayleen, one of her heads lunged at the pair of yellow eyes in Emthri’s chest and proceeded to rip out whatever it was that had burrowed within. It is times like these that I am thankful I decided to take up my parents’ adventuring lifestyle…ugh. She ripped out an imp, bit its legs off and held it aloft in its maw so that we saw its hind quarters and its head. Heads and tails, ha ha. Then, she said that the party was over and that we had all the clues we needed to discern our next course of action. She then turned around and with an admonishment about feeling hydras she walked off and left us with the “actor troupe” cleaning up the stage, our fallen friend, and a collection of clues. As I am not very skilled at riddles, I set about restoring Emthri back to life. After the imp was removed all of the materials that I had used in my previous resurrection attempt spilled out, so I did not need to disenchant his entire wardrobe. Sadly, while I was busy with the body, my sister and Luc were not having a very easy time putting the clues together. They figured out that the raw minerals were the coins, but they had no clue as to what to do with the coins. Luc, at one point, took his sword to them, which amounted to nothing. Eventually, over my shoulder, I shouted, “Look at the coins!” Apparently each coin depicted a different highborn as well as their current status. Some coins said “petrified” while Miria’s coin merely said “imprisoned.” Meanwhile I was still preoccupied with Emthri’s corpse, but was interrupted by a little devil child who said that he was a great necromancer and could help me. Offers from devils always come with a catch so I politely refused, but he was kind enough to hand me a book that he said could help. Thinking that he was referring to my current task, I leafed through it, but discovered that it was written in a dialect of common that only one member in our group could understand. I passed the book off to Luc who discovered that it was the Genealogy of House D’Urban. That book contained a description of every highborn in the family, their dates of birth (and death, if applicable) as well as their location (we can only assume). Under Miria’s portrait was written “Tower of Midnight.” I think we were perhaps too weary from the fight because we did not know where to go from there except perhaps back to Lencia. We decided to rest. After I was finished resurrecting Emthri (who seemed much happier and healthier than before) we took a breather and I was finally able to rest. As Gayleen left, I reminded her of my forced duality, and with a gesture she turned this four-eyes into two again.

*Personal note: My sister ordered a drink that Galeen kept offering me, and when it arrived it exploded when Kaela tried to use the stirring stick. Apparently, the stick was powerful wand, which I now wield thanks to my sister’s generosity.

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Mother Daughter Moment
Flash of the Past

A light purple chemise lay on a bed. Kaela looked down at it suspiciously before looking at her mother questioningly.
“What? I believe every female has a right to feel sexy underneath her clothes.”
Kaela lifted a brow.
Shira leaned over to caress the silken undergarment. “It really helps with one’s confidence.” Shira smiled, “Your father can’t stop –.”
“Ma! I really don’t wanna to know!”

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Unshakable Past
another note in a ritual book

Botdd t3

The events whirl by and I do my best to maintain a quiet dignity. Mere moments after being ordered to Lencia, I was in the grasp of an unnatural acid beast. How do I keep the Blades whole if I cannot adapt to new fields of battle? Magic from the male fey, Kalleron and swordplay from Luc, a strong young man to be sure, freed me from my misstep while a second beast was felled by Kaela, the female fey. Was that the last of the beasts? Will they follow us?

To Lencia, and not what I expected from reports. When my veil spell ended no one judged my appearane openly. A gloomy city of self-preserving worried citizens. A librarian was almost in tears at his post due to lack of leadership. Most oddly, and I can’t remember why but we did enjoy tea with a head of another family.

Rest in the D’Urban mansion. I meditated, and was invited for dinner, and the agreed plan was to go to a Raven Queen place of worship…had I missed something important? To come to the conclusion that religion was needed after this day was surprising. Surely my daydreaming is affecting me.

Into another place of existence with the help of an Erathis angel. Conversations and arguments with a menagerie of races, and as I myself am distracted by meanings of actions in the Meugges.

We are in an alley with tall buildings and no doors. This alley is perfect for a sneak attack, and to prove me right, the drunk sailors we hear in the distance do just that, however they are not sailors, but Rhakashas. They appear to be from my former master, and I speak out against such a pointless act, wishing for discussion rather than bloodshed. Kalleron holds the archers at bay with a stinking cloud spell. The rest of us dwindle their numbers with blade and lightning. Of course I would have liked to question one, but our zeal overwhelmed us in the moment. We did find a chemise, faded and not anything my former master had me wear. Questons of my past came very quickly and bluntly but I waited until the appropriate time to answer off the streets.

We next were at the House of Dwarves, rather different than the House of Tieflings. The woman is reported to be close to Luc, and as it turned out even closer to our previous house host who served tea. They start a discussion again.

This night as I write I hear conversation. Kalleron’s tone is heard through the walls in the corridor and an undertone of joy is mixed. Syral and other of Tex’s companions have entered the mansion…

has he?

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Interlude 7
Slave Trade.

“10.”

“15, and not a service less. This slave is worth every summoning. Effendi, you must know that she is charming like the eternal fires, her race would be an exotic addition to your bed if you so require, she is very well trained, she is a pearl waiting for an owner like your excellency. "

“You drive a hard bargain Cambion, why should I not kill you and the retrieve the slave myself… 12.”

The Cambion licked his lips worried, it was always a risk dealing with higher positioned evil beings. They were prone to bend the rules into their favor, especially if they could get away with murder but such was the spice of life in the Nine Hells. After a brief moment of doubt he looked at the big figure laying on the plushy cushions and made his final offer. “Effendi, 12 services and my life and we have a deal.”

An evil smile covered the Emir factions. His mouth opened showing rows of deadly fangs. A shiver went through his body as he started to laugh with a horrible booming sound. “Well done Cambion, well done.” with a flicker of his jeweled talons he called away the half hidden bodyguards that melted into the shadows.

“My chamberlain will see that our contract is recorded and the details for your payment. Now bring me my new toy and we´ll see how she performs.”

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Kalleron's Memories Part VII
A momentary madness?

After about a day’s travel we arrived at our destination. We approached it in the mists because the good captain told us that one could only reach the manor on a misty morning. The manor was impressive in size and in remarkable condition considering that it was supposed to have been empty for over 400 years. We went up to the main entrance, but the doors were magically protected, as Flasheart discovered, much to his right hand’s dismay. Flasheart then suggested that we try to go in through the eastern entrance. He said that he heard of another group of adventurers who went in through the west and only one lived to regret it. We did not really trust his advice, but as the captain was going that way whether we wanted him to or not, I thought it prudent to follow him and keep him under observation. The eastern foyer was dusty and moldy though still stately and impressive. In fact, the mold and moisture was probably coming from some strange form of resin on the far wall, possibly secreted by some large insect. The substance coated the doors and much of the western wall. So, the doors were stuck, but Flasheart was “kind enough” to show his strength by kicking in the door. What better way to announce our arrival, right? I would have liked to have found a more subtle way through the resin, but if Flasheart had not kicked in the door I am sure Luc would have taken up task. Patience is lost on him at the moment, and if I say ANYTHING that may cause a delay or give a hint of caution, he glares at me as if I had just said, “Hang Miria!!”…but I digress. We entered a resin-coated corridor lined with doors. No one had to ask to check the doors as Flasheart kicked in each one in turn. In a couple of rooms were rows of leathery, ovular objects…from which hatched these strange creatures when we got close. Then, large insect-like humanoids (of a type I have never seen) descended from the shadows to attack. Their blood was acid, and within their slathering jaws lay a secondary maw hat would lash out at you if the creature could get you in its clutches. The beasts scrambled up the walls and onto the ceiling and attacked us from above. They tried to pincer us the corridor, but after several rounds of hard fighting we managed to kill the creatures (or rather cause them to explode), and destroy the remaining eggs before they could hatch and cause us more grief. Once we had a quiet moment, I tried to sense what magical effects were cast upon this place, and the sheer amount of energy present astounded me. There were so many enchantments that making any sense of them would require much more time that a wizard of my meager talents could manage. The one thing that I could discern was a strange time displacement effect. I could not say to what extent, but time operated differently within the manor. We found evidence of this when captain kicked in another door and instead of insects and eggs, we found a rather shocked Tiefling woman…getting dressed. She introduced herself as Camille D’Umberbille. She spoke in an odd tongue that we managed to parse out and through a short conversation we discovered that she was unaware of the fall of her house and that it had happened over 400 years prior. Hmmm…what effect is this time displacement having on us? Perhaps if we are not here for very long we may escape it unscathed…though it would be very interesting to study its properties…I wonder if…**scratch marks**…no, bad idea. Anyway, we left her to her business and went into the next room and found an even stranger sight: a drydar whose upper half was not Drow but Tiefling. She introduced herself as Charlotte and, just like Camille, was oblivious to the fall of her house and did not think that the fact that she was half spider was odd at all. In fact, she was nonchalantly weaving a garment for a soiree with her own spider silk. However, that bit of strangeness was only a taste of what was to come.

We crossed the hall and entered a ballroom filled with dancers who were trapped in eerie, crystalline prisons. We could have smashed through the substance, but we would have killed those within it. So, we let them be. This room was almost spotless (showing no signs of age or disuse) with a raised platform on one side where instruments lay, ornate suits of armour in the corners, and the look of party frozen in time. Our good fighter captain promptly stuffed two gilded flutes into his pants while we were investigating. One side of the room was lined with doors, and as we decided to check them, Flasheart went to the far left door and kicked it in, which contained a sleeping hydra!! He arose groggily and its four heads (one of which had a goatee) questioned the battle ready fighter in front of him. All of its heads were named William, and while two heads seemed to be quite talkative, the other two looked quite ravenous. Flasheart and Emthri took point and talked to William…for far longer than was prudent. Luc and I were getting rather uneasy and despite our protestations they kept on talking, and before we could them out of the room the hungry heads took control of the body and attacked. We unleashed our attacks upon it, though not before one William said, “Wait, I cannot have a meal without music,” and he pulled a cord that prompted the crystalline dancers to resume their strides as the music began to come from the instruments on the platform. We let loose our attacks upon the hydra, but, in true hydra fashion, when we lopped off one head two more came in its place (each named William, of course). Then, to make matters worse, two suits of armour came to life and joined the fray. Emtrhi, Flasheart, and Kaela (acting a bit out of character as she charged into the room) took on the hydra in the cramped room while Luc and I were handling things in the ballroom (with great difficulty as the dancers kept pushing us around the room). Luc tried smashing the instruments in an attempt to stop the music and thus the dancers, but to no avail (since two flutes were missing). I tried to hold off the metallic assailants, but they still harried my companions, and they managed to cut off Flasheart off from the hydra’s room as he backed off to ready a charge. Thus, Emthri and my sister were trapped with William!! I had to fight back panic and focus on ridding us of those damnable suits of armour. Luc and I destroyed one, and I managed to use my wand’s magic to push the other out of the way, giving the captain the chance to charge the beast. However, in the meantime Emthri was torn apart, probably dead, and Kaela was in dire straits. Things were looking bleak for a moment. Emtrhi was down, there were six William heads lashing at Kaela and one suit of armopur that was still causing trouble. I summoned my grasping hands, Flasheart continued his onslaught with Luc’s help while Kaela harried William from afar with her daggers, and, eventually, we felled the hydra and metallic ally. We won though we lost Emthri and almost lost Luc and Kaela as well. These “victories” are not what the stories make them out to be.

In the aftermath, we found a treasure trove in the hydra’s nest, which we looted, of course. We found some platinum and gold pieces, but the greatest treasure we found was a silver box containing a wondrous amount of residium. Sadly, it was insufficient to resurrect Emthri, but by disenchanting his ring I had more than enough to begin the ritual (which I found during at the library during my research). I needed time to bring back our fallen comrade, but it was not hard to convince everyone to rest as Luc was exhausted and Kaela was not faring much better. So, we put the door back in its frame, braced it with the hydra’s body, and went to sleep. My friends rested while I began the resurrection, but as I was performing the ritual I felt a strange magic in the room. I looked over to see that the door was repaired and that William was ALIVE and asleep on his nest as if nothing had happened. I could not stop the ritual, but could only hope that I finished before he awakened. Flasheart was also missing, which was not helping my nerves. Upon completion Emthri came around and we woke up the others, and then got out of that chamber as quickly and as silently as we could. Sadly, just as started to look for the captain, we heard noises from William’s room. He had woken up and immediately noticed that his treasure was gone. We had only moments to duck into a nearby study before William came crashing into the ballroom. Once in the study we found the captain who had been looting a secret library he found. I was so angry at him…not just because he abandoned us, but also because he found the library before me. In any case, we hid in that study until we thought it safe. The captain decided it was a good idea to jump through a black window…from which Kaela had to rescue him later. We did not hear a sound, so Kaela, being the stealthiest of us, left first but ran into William who had been hiding in the corner. However, the hydra had no memory of fighting or even meeting us, so Kaela managed to bluff her way out of trouble by suggesting that the two Tiefling women had his treasure. He ran off, so we went in the opposite direction through a hole he had created and found ourselves in an immense arboretum.

There was some magic in this room that I had never felt before. Three disparate section of the feywild seemed to existing side by side. An astounding effect, but I did not have time investigate it. Flasheart, apparently, had explored bits of this area while I was busy and the others were sleeping and told us to follow him. Sometimes I wonder if he was intentionally trying to make himself seem untrustworthy. He seemed to enjoy heaping suspicion on himself. H led us to a clearing where we came upon seven goblins mourning over a beautiful female on a raised, vine-covered platform. As we approached, the goblins assumed a defensive posture and kept shouting, “You will not take our princess!! You cannot take her!” Despite our protestations to the contrary, we could not convince them that we had no intention of taking the woman anywhere. She was not dead, as it turned out, but merely under an enchanted sleep placed upon her by a wicked witch (such a cliché story that when I heard it I felt as though I were on my mother’s knee again). We asked of the witch, but the goblins were not very helpful. Then the captain, in a stroke of “brilliance” put away his spear, walked over the woman, and then kissed her on the lips. She opened her eyes, and the vines beneath her came to life, and after they had lifted the woman (who turned out to be a lamia) to her feet, coalesced into a creature itself. They attacked us and we were joined in yet another battle. The goblins seemed just as distraught as we when the lamia arose. They said, “Oh no!!! Now we have to find the witch again!” before they attacked Flasheart. The vine creature summoned smaller versions of itself like some fell druid, and then some strange, one-eyed, pink polka-dotted creature came out of the trees and with a maddening, gibbering mouth he proceeded to turn us against each other. Mercifully, most of us were either out of range or could resist it voice (unlike our encounter with the shadow hulk); however, Flasheart was not so fortunate. His mind was overcome, which caused him to attack Emthri. Emthri, who had been acting rather odd aft6er his resurrection, did not realize that Flasheart was dominated and retaliated without thinking. Thus, one of the most idiotic exchanges I have ever seen ensued. While Kaela, Luc, and myself were trying to subdue the plethora of enemies around us, those two thick skulls decided it was wiser to trade blows with each other!! I had to deal with the one-eyed monstrosity while Luc and Kaela dispensed with the goblins and miniature vine creatures. After killing the one-eyed creature I could see to helping my sister who was, essentially, fighting the vine thing alone since Luc had his hands full with the lamia. Eventually, the captain and Emthri stopped fighting each other long enough to help us put down the vines and their dark mistress. The fight was difficult as the lamia’s powers were formidable and the vine kept summoning more minions, but we prevailed in the end…though my sister was looking a little worse for wear. We rested for a minute…though I was tempted to blast both Emthri and the captain with whatever magic I had left for helping us (especially my sister) when we needed them. Thankfully, I was spared the temptation as Flasheart proclaimed Emthri a foul traitor and stormed off after declaring that he would finish his explorations solo.

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Kalleron's Memories Part VI
Off towards the rabbit hole...

My scrying had not given us much to indicate Miria’s exact location, but it did give us a clue as to where we might find more information. I saw a machine powered by highborns of Lencia. There were members of each great house save one…the Dwarfs. I learned that they were newly made highborns (relatively speaking), who were elevated to replace the Tiefling house, which had apparently destroyed itself. The last space in the machine was meant for a Tiefling, but something else was in place of one. The clue was a thin one, but it was the only lead we had. In order to make this tidbit a more solid lead we needed the resources of the university library (much to my delight and the chagrin of everyone else) to uncover the truth behind my vision. The information that we needed was scant and difficult to find, to say the least, but after a bit of digging (as well as a little research of a more personal nature), I managed to find some information about a manor where the fallen household may have left behind some clues, but there was nothing in the many tomes that described its location, or even what it looked like. It was as if it had been stricken from every volume (and it most likely was); however, after talking with the librarians, I learned of an old man residing in the docks district who might know where to find the lost manor.

We went to the docks looking for the old man and along the way we ran into a sea captain by the name of Flasheart (who had a little drinking problem) claiming to know the location of the manor we sought and that he could take us there…provided he be allowed to plunder some of the riches found therein. We agreed to accept his help (though no one really trusted him, and by the next dawn we were riding towards the ill-fated house of a fallen family. I have always enjoyed exploring ruins, but experience has taught me that we should expect more than just a large, ornate building. Imagine the former residents have left many “gifts” behind for visitors to find…not all of which Flasheart will want to cram into his bags.

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