Blades at Dawn

Leaving the Meugges

I knock on the door of Lusk’s room, my usual three knocks, however my third knock slips the hard pine door altogether and like whisps of smoke from an efreet’s pipe, wood floats away and I see Lusk rise from his black iron latticed chair.

Lusk is a mountain, and inside this mountain is a creative soul. Here I am, the bardic addition to our family, yet he sings in supernal and that music could lift me from any doldrums I might be having. Lusk nods at me, and signals that I may enter to see the semi-clear shards recovered moments ago.

As Lusk moves aside, I begin speculating where things are on what should be a familiar shape. The slab is fit to Lusk’s size, and as such, for most it is the feeling of being a child again to peer over the edge of the cold, gray wood table. I am a taller person than most here, especially than the other women, and even I get on my tip-toes to see well, but it is not a childish feeling of curiosity but an adult sense of remorse for the fallen comrade who Lusk delicately reforms.

Emthri Adasunu Exfett has only begun his reformation from crystal shards. We are sure all the pieces are here, he who collected him is thorough. Magister Adasunu Tex the Exfett Rex he jokingly calls himself, taking the Exfett name as a sign of loyalty to Emthri, but most call him Tex. Some of us envy that closeness. He is the man who brought our Emthri back, and accompanied by two whom he does not introduce, immediately follows me into Lusk’s room.

Magic flows in the room and a conversation is happening between Tex, and one of the cloaked men. The other cloaked man is somehow levitating strange stone devices over the slab and they spark from time to time with colors of silver and jade. I now see the cloaked man Tex speaks to has silver teeth, and as the room grows colder, trickles jaded smoke over his lower lip. Tex has a bright smile now and slaps both hands to the silver toothed man’s shoulders. Lusk and I stare in wonder, but it is in neither of our natures to speculate openly on what we see.

What may have been a ritual, is over, Tex gestures to meet me outside. I nod to Lusk, and the two cloaked men, heading to the spiral window that is at the end of the hallway. It has quite a beautiful view at certain times of the day when the light can reach it, and the sand and rock reflect that beauty magnificently, lighting the hallway in pinks and oranges all the way to Pia’s room. When Tex approaches he speaks towards the window and not me directly. “Your brother Emthri is in great spirits, perhaps more so than he should be as he fights the multiple curses placed on him. He asks of his teammates and nothing else.”

Assuming this is a moment to reply, I respond with “We all have the utmost…” but I am cut short. “Although Abrams is closer, I need you to assist Emthri’s friends. This puts our main objective in a passive state, but I cannot have old allies lose their children. You are not beholden to act on the Miria situation, but look after those three until Emthri can again.”

As Tex finally looks at me, I return his stoic gaze with one of disbelief. “Are you sure? I mean of course you’re sure, but is this some kind of…” unable to say the word punishment.

To be taken away from here, must mean I made wrong choices.

He waits for me to continue, but I shake my head no, and stand more upright, expressing confidence in his choice. He fills me in on Emthri’s message delivered in jade mist from the cloaked man. My determined Magister, with help from the magics here sends me into the strange tiefling building that is the place where Emthri fell.

Just like that.

I have little time to think how this affects everything that he and I never discussed. An explosion pulls my attention down a hallway. If I failed already, If they had just met their end, rushing with my crossbow forming in my hands and not yet arming it with a bolt the doors blow open. A human rushes into me headfirst, his hand balanced on my chest and I am not able to react after such a disorienting teleport. Two others appear and I am now awkwardly introduced to the Blades of the Dreaded Dawn.

Bot d dimage

Kalleron's Memories Part V
A pyhrric victory...

I was not fully prepared for what awaited us at the city. I figured that Lencia would be assaulted, but not by host of hundreds of Drow and their “allies.” Due to the darkness we couldn’t discern their full number, but regardless, they were breaching the walls, our phantom horses had vanished, and we had only a short amount of time to get into the city and help in some fashion. Luc suggested that he go in alone and the rest of us go and hide…which was proof that he was not thinking straight because in what reality would Kaela or myself ever listen to such a suggestion. Emthri also refused that idea, though he had his own reasons as well for wanting to enter the city. So, resigned to the fate of having support, we went with Luc to the western gate, which was not being assaulted. I naïvely tried to signal the guards and let them know that we were friendly, but that only got us shot at…maybe I should have thought that one through a little more. We got into the city, but as it turned out, none of us had thought about what we would do once we got into the city, aside from try and locate Miria and Syral. The only logical plan was to stick to the edges of the fighting and see if there any civilians who needed help, and look for any signs of Miria. The streets in the poorer quarter were deserted, but relatively untouched when compared with the ravaged towers and buildings in the artists’ and merchants’ districts. As we made our way towards the fighting we glimpsed huge arachnids crawling over the walls and towers only to explode, scattering rubble and defenders alike. If there were any civilians left alive, they had probably already made it into Old Town, whose bridges had already been destroyed, or they were too afraid to come out of their homes. We heard several small explosions followed by one massive one…the army had fully breached the walls and began to pour into the city.

We had stopped on the little triangular island to see if there were any people there (and of course there were none), and for a moment we could only stand and wonder. We ran across the bridge towards the shattered wall, and it was not long before we ran into the advancing horde. Apparently, the Drow were not above employing goblins as they were the first enemies to attack us. We dealt with them very quickly. A flick of my wand and a couple of slashes from Luc’s swords was all that was needed for the first wave. Kaela’s daggers and Emthri’s psionics took care of the second. Then the real enemies appeared…drydars, horrid creations of Lloth who resemble Drow except for their lower halves, which are that of a spider. They crawled over the houses spewing toxins and webs over the rooves. We saw some guards join the fray only to be quickly cut down by the foul things. Luc charged in with Kaela on his heels, but they were quickly enveloped in webbing. I had gone around on the houses to open up a new line of attack only to be cut off by a group of Drow soldiers and some kind of fell spell caster. I did not care. They were Lloth’s followers and their necrotic energies would not serve them against us. My magic was able to help shield us from their attacks, but they still forced me to retreat…not before they got blasted with color spray. Luc, Emthri and Kaela got struck by some curse, but it only served to slow our onslaught. One by one we killed the “normal” soldiers allowing us to focus on the drydars. They did not go down easy. My fey step got me onto the roof of one building, and for a time I had a good command of the area before a drydar decided to keep me company. With some help from the ground, and couple of well-placed magic missiles, my new friend joined the host of the dead, and her companions soon followed. One of them even tried to get away, but Luc was having none of that and scaled a building after it. He delayed the would-be escapee giving myself and Kaela enough time to deal the finishing blows. After a quick rest on the roof tops, we charged forward again only to run into a shadow hulk and a Drow priestess, who seemed to be whipping some nearby prisoners. I hated that hulking monstrosity. His lingering gaze clouded our minds and made us attack each other. For the most part Emthri and I were able to resist, but Luc and Kaela began to fight each other. They were able to snap out of it and attack the beast, but no sooner had that happened that I got careless and got caught in the creatures gaze. Thankfully, without magic, my sword does not have the same sting as Kaela’s (not NEARLY the same sting). The priestess proved to be little trouble and dispatched by Emthri allowing us to pile our blows on the hulk…a great many blows. I had summoned a guardian hound which was assisting Emthri, Kaela and Luc, but even then the creature just would not die. At last we managed to fell the thing, but not before it near exhausted us, especially Luc who looked to be on his last leg. Sadly, what was to come would not help his situation.

We waded through more enemies as we delved deeper into the ruined merchant’s quarter. I do not know how much time it took, but we finally found Miria. She looked just as father and mother had described her: armour clad and covered in blood, both her own and that of her enemies. She was incredible, but no sooner had she noticed our presence, particularly that of Luc, that a portal opened behind her. A bunderhop lashed out at Miria with his tongue, snagged her, and then pulled her into portal. Luc charged forth in a vain rage, but the creature and his lady mother were gone. Only her dreaded sword, the Raven’s Tooth, remained. My parents’ had spoken of that sword and how it had almost driven Miria mad, and as I got closer I realized from Luc’s expression of abject grief and rage that he intended to use that blade! I could not let him try to use that sword in his state. As he grabbed the sword and prepared to charge into the army, which seemed to be in retreat for some reason, I shot the sword out of his hand. I then put my boot on the blade, which proved to be mistake…I felt an old pain in my chest…a pull…and then a voice was telling me to pick up the Raven’s Tooth. I quickly stepped back, but the voice’s faint call kept taunting me. Mercifully, an enraged Luc kept me distracted. He shoved me out of the way and made for the sword again, but I merely shot it out of his hand every time. So, we were locked in a stalemate while my sister and Emthri covered us. I don’t thank the gods enough that I was born with a twin like her. Anyway, I managed to keep that accursed thing out of anyone’s grasp, and once a measure of calm was established Emthri found a suitable scabbard for Raven’s Tooth and was able to sheath the thing without touching it. We wrapped it up and then made our way through the rubble towards the center of the other edge of the Merchant’s district. Emtrhi needed to check on his family before we made our way into Old Town to find Syral.

Emthri was able to find his parents, alive and relatively unharmed, thankfully, but they did not seem pleased with him. With a calming hand on his shoulder, he was able to ask how they survived, and, apparently, a Drow had kept them alive claiming that she would make a fortune off of them. I cannot imagine a Drow in the midst of battle acting like that, but then again, who can truly understand their chaotic minds. After that unpleasant task was completed, we made our way across the river only to have an even more unpleasant task to complete. Before we could find Syral, however, we were stopped at the inner gate. The guards did not want to let us in, and Emthri, who is usually the most diplomatic among us, decided that he would not try that tactic before teleporting the guard commander off the wall and himself onto it. After a good deal of arguing we got past the guards and made our way to the section of the wall where Syral was waiting…not for us though. Kaela and I remained off the wall while Luc and Emthri went to present his mother with an ill gift and bad tidings. We could not hear what happened, but we knew…we could feel it. I also know that Luc will blame himself for Miria’s abduction. He will punish himself relentlessly, and will refuse to be consoled. I hope that we will be able to help him. Perhaps we can find Miria before anything happens to her, though I must admit that her chances of survival are not great…but I am not about to tell Luc that. He needs hope, as well as the ability of not blaming himself for everything, but we will start with hope. That should be easier. We went back to the mansion where Luc and sisters attempted to console each other. Emthri extricated himself from the torrent of emotions around him while Kaela and I grabbed something of Miria’s so that I could try to find her with my spells. I began the rites, but something was fighting me. The ritual I used, which normally takes only a few minutes, took hours for me to finish…but I wish my magic had failed me…

…hope, as it turns out, is not going to be an easy thing to give. I could not fully discern the location of Miria for she was on another plane of existence. I saw her…she had been stripped of everything, literally, and was being dragged by two golems towards a dark figure who presided over the scene. Miria made a valiant struggle against her captors, and destroyed the two golems, but in the end, she was subdued (a situation that seems to go against nature) by some form of powerful force, and attached to a gruesome machine, whose purpose I cannot even begin to guess at. There were other people placed around the machine: other humans, elves, and something else taking up a seventh slot that I could not identify. When my ritual finally ended I almost collapsed. The strain was almost too much, but what was worse was now I had to tell Luc. I was granted a reprieve from my duty as he was still with his family, but I told Kaela everything, and I have resolved to tell Luc in the morning; though, I will leave any personal suppositions. He will get the facts and the news that there is a chance (a very small one) that she will survive. Perhaps father’s philosophy of complete honesty should be avoided in this case. Mother will be my mentor for this situation.

Kalleron's Memories Part IV
The lost entry

I could not believe that we are under house arrest, or to use a colloquial human term, grounded. What could be more humiliating than seeing a group of adventurers, who have braved the depths of dungeons and accomplished feats people twice their age could not do, be treated like little children again? The most galling thing was that we all felt so useless, except for Luc who was feeling so guilty that had I placed a cat-o-nine-tails in his hand he would have started flogging himself. Eventually, with a little help from my ghost sounds and Emthri’s winning personality, we were able to get the attention of the council members and get an assignment. We were told to scout out these ruins a little less than a day’s ride north of the city and see if there were anything amiss. Not a glorious task, but at least we had something to do, and perhaps we could find some answers to the many questions raised by the bunderhop attacks and the sudden appearance of an aberrant army. Well, what we found at ruins only provided us with more questions.

When we arrived we tethered the horses, and upon hearing some strange music and singing (if you could call it that) we stealthily snuck up upon a group of creatures. It was difficult to identify them as it was dark, but the energy that radiated from the singer and its fellows did not feel like anything from this world or any other that I have visited. What ensued was a difficult battle, and in the midst of the fighting a small pack of beholders, one large and two tiny, showed up. I must admit that it was fascinating to finally see one in person, but that feeling was short lived and two little made a B-line for me. I tried to fry them but they evaded my attacks and were on top of me before I could try to blast them again. My friends were battling two large brutes, some shadowy creature I could not identify, and that strange singer. Eventually, we managed to overpower and dispatch them; however, there was nothing on them that gave us a clue as to why they were there, and though I was able to confirm that they were indeed from the Far Realm, I could divine nothing else. I could feel remnants of portals, so were they trying to summon more allies? Could this have been a ruse to lure more Lencian forces away from the city? I wanted to remain a bit longer, but Luc was determined to quickly head back to the city and report our findings, which I must admit was the wiser suggestion, but as we reached where our horses were supposed to be we were greeted by two monstrous wolves instead. The beasts were tough, and after a tiresome battle we managed to kill them. I think someone put them there just to delay us. Anyway, we made for Lencia but were forced to stop at this abandoned house to rest. There does not seem to be much of a reason for those monsters to base themselves at those ruins, or for their companions to be attacking somewhere over a hundred miles away. Could they be acting in concert? Do these aberrant beings have anything to do with the bunderhops? In any case, this is an ill omen for Lencia, and for once I share Luc’s disquiet about the situation. Well, time to go create some horses before my companions wake up. We have a long ride ahead of us.

Adventure Journal of Luc Urban, 3rd entry
mansion of madness

Nothing is going well as I expected.

This entire place is crazy, and I wonder now that we were so quick to take Captain Flashheart at face value. But this was our only lead to find my Lady Mother, and for that I cannot fault our judgment. But we’ve already wasted so much time, and every minute weighs heavier and heavier on me. We’ve been caught in fights with strange creatures and a hydra, had to deal with a suspicious captain, been tricked by a lamia and forced to fight our own allies, and wandered aimlessly in an impossibly huge mansion with no clues as to what to do or where to go and went through pointless and emotional tests by a second hydra and I’m so sick of feeling helpless!

…I know Kalleron is right when he tells me I’m out of control, but I can’t bring myself to fully acknowledge it. Especially not to him. But times like now, when we’re all resting and I’m left alone to think, my actions leave me shamed. I have yelled at and fought with my friends nearly this entire venture, and now, after that test Gayleen gave me…

I don’t understand this place. Time seems to be changing in ways we can’t predict, and even Emthri was affected by it. After he fell before the hydra, Kalleron was able to bring him back. He even fought with Flashheart before the good captain ran out on us. But Kaela saw him disappear into the trees, and by the time we found him he was dead (…mostly?) and by the exact same wounds Kalleron had healed. I suppose the upside, if you can call it such, is that Gayleen removed an imp that was possessing him, and the components Kalleron needed to revive him fell out of Emthri’s corpse.

He seems much happier now, but we’re still left with nothing solid to go on. Although that’s not entirely true, I suppose; Gayleen did give us clues. “The clock at midnight,” “raw minerals,” and we received a book on Highborns from a Tiefling child. I do not like the book; something about it frightens me. It contains all the names of all the Highborn, and even more information on them—information no book should have. No tome this size could be printed within the time it would take to say what it does, and that’s not taking into account that the Tieflings stuck in this house stuck in time have it. Even the platinum pieces we received here have my Lady Mother’s portrait, along with other Highborns.

“Imprisoned,” it said when I looked up her entry. All the other Highborn I looked at are listed either as dead or petrified. Mother isn’t in the book, and neither is Dame Kiri’s family, for which I’m more grateful than I can say.

…I wish I could contact Mother and find out how things are on the outside. Desperately so. After that test Gayleen gave me, I… I hope it’s true, I want it to be true, but a part of me wants to deny it, or believe that it wasn’t me she saw in the water. But I can’t shake the feeling that a wizard made a mistake as he called her over, and that her expression as she saw me was genuinely for me. Kalleron says I blame myself too much, but I can’t agree. My purpose is defending those I love, but have I even defended anyone?

I don’t care for the gods as Mother does, but please, if just this once, please let us find what we’re looking for. We have to find the lord of the house, but even if we do will he help us? We’re trapped in a house that was trapped in time 500 years ago, and yet they know of current Highborn. Gayleen knew our names and situations. They had a terrible play about our parents! It’s like they knew all this and yet they don’t care.

Please, I just want to save my mother.

Madness, takes its toll
Being a Hydra is hard.

Well, William and I were talking, and we decided to write about the strange dancers that entered our cozy nest room.
William noticed that the dancers had juicy meat on their bones and I concurred, but Willy was busy spouting some kind of pre-dinner patter with the dancers.
William started the music and the dancers got it all wrong. In fact on “Captain Flashheart a l’orange” kept dancing right into us. The noise brought William and if I remember correctly William to join us for dinner.
An “Emthri with white rice” was a nice appetizer and we were just about to dine on the “Kayla cream pie” when we lost track of time. All the dancers were nowhere to be seen, so I imagined it was a fine feast.
Later we peaked into the jungle room, and wouldn’t you know it, they ordered the same food we did! I saw that the Emthri and the Flashheart didn’t mix well, they got there sharp metal bones entwined a few times. The "Luc-berries were popular, but not prepared properly-they upset more than the little creatures stomachs!

P.S. Don’t tell Billy, but Wilhelm and I think he stole our platinum. If he ever shows his face again, well, he will get a severe tongue-lashing!

Heads above the rest,

painful morning

The streets were unnaturally quiet in the early morning, the port across the water silent and empty. Only the gentle lapping of waves against the quay, and the scuffing of Luc’s and Emthri’s boots broke the silence.

Luc carried himself as best he could despite the urge to turn, run back, or to collapse right there in the street. Everything ached, his strength was gone; the only thing keeping him going was his grief. And even though it was sheathed, Raven’s Tooth called to him in pretty whispers. It drew his mind to it, urged him to take it and run and make those creatures pay, make them return his mother and die diedie

He tripped slightly and caught himself. If Emthri noticed he said nothing. The air felt tense between them with all that had happened, but Luc was glad for the other’s presence. As much as Emthri had said he had difficulty with Syral, and as overprotective as the young man was of his mother, he couldn’t bring himself to face this alone.

They saw her standing on the wall long before they reached it. She wore her battle armor, all black leather with daggers at both hips, and Luc hesitated as he approached. He couldn’t do this, he couldn’t face her, not like this—

She turned as she heard them, and her dark skin turned almost ashen as Emthri unhooked Raven’s Tooth and presented the sheathed sword to her. She covered her mouth with her hands, her gold eyes too wide, and Luc looked away.

“Why do you have this sword?” she whispered, the words little more than a breath. “Why do you have her sword?!” she repeated louder and advanced towards the young men.

“I—” Luc began as Emthri remained silent, sword still in his hands. But whatever he was to say died in his throat as tears left darkened tracks down his mother’s cheeks and his own vision blurred.

“Where is she?”

He saw her again, turning to face him as a shadow loomed behind. “She was taken,” he said, his voice cracking on the last word. “The things, those creatures that—that tried to take the twins, they— She…”

Syral stood before him as she raised both hands to his face. He hadn’t seen her move. “How?” Disbelief made her voice shake. “How could that happen?”


“Why were you there?” she asked, and her voice shook again as she unconsciously pressed her claws into his temples. “You weren’t supposed to be there. Why were you there?”

“W-we were trying to help.” He sucked in a breath and squeezed his eyes shut. “She saw me and stopped and then it was there, behind her, and I tried, I really did, but—”

“If you hadn’t been there…” Syral began, and Luc flinched. “How could you let her be taken? How?!”

Luc shuddered and shook his head. “I wasn’t fast enough!” Her words cut deep, baring feelings he held since that dark portal first appeared. “I was there—she was right there—and I ran as fast as I could but I wasn’t fast enough! I couldn’t— I didn’t, I—”

Syral paled again as he spoke, and her whole body shook as she suddenly dropped her hands to his shoulders and pulled him into a tight embrace. Luc clung to her like he was a child again, tears freely streaming down his cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her voice thick as she held him. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have—”

“I tried, I did! I wasn’t—” His words lodged in his throat as he cried, too exhausted to stop himself. Miria was gone and his mother blamed him as much as he blamed himself. He didn’t have the energy to fight anymore.

He stayed with his mother, Emthri all but forgotten, until the sun fully crested the horizon. Eventually Syral led them back to the mansion, a sullen procession in the quiet morning. Luc followed her silently into his parents’ room, his friends left outside as the rest of the family gathered in the large bedroom. Shadows under everyone’s eyes proved that none in the family had slept well.

Luc stood against the wall as his mother spoke, her words just noise in his ears. He came to enough to understand when Amirah and S’Jet broke down crying, and he held them as they all three huddled against the wall. But the numbness returned soon enough as his memories played in an endless loop, and he stared at nothing as the family erupted in a storm of emotion fit to bring Emthri to his knees. Syral stood through it proudly despite the tears and grief on her face, but her eyes shone in a way that would have frozen her son to the core if he’d seen.

But the Fourth Fail is Theirs

A fool uses wardogs
Grabbing at us with long claws
Lacking grace or style to subdue
So the fool falls slowly
To the blades who are lowly
Compared to the shadowy crew

The drow use arachnids
That scuttle and hack kids
Killing purposefully with fear
But these blades who are strengthening
Loped off heads with some lucky swings
And to Miria ever draw near

A shadow hulk is disorienting
Turning deadly blades into tiny stings
I felt sure the youthful party would end
But circled and whittled down
The hulk’s head did hit the ground
However Miria to hell they did send!


Interlude 6
Before the battle.

Syral enters her rooms worried, Miria has been acting suspiciously, avoiding her for the whole day. She even sent her to attend Dame Meya for the afternoon instead of going to an urgent Council summons like usual. Even worse, before Miria´s return Syral had been listening to the sounds of the soldiers getting ready for something, sergeants barking orders, movement of material to the walls using the streets near to the High Quarter a thing unheard of. She was not used to be in the dark about something that important and Miria´s lack of trust in her gnawed her spirits.

Upon hearing some noises in the master bedroom Syral looks inside only to see that Miria is finishing wearing her battle armor, Raven´s Tooth naked blade on the bed filling the room with an aura of hunger for violence.

“The hell are you doing?”

“I´m sorry my Ladyfriend for keeping you in the dark but apparently the raiders were a ruse. The true strike will fall here.”

“What!? But aren´t most of the troops away? Did you think to fight this battle all on your own?”

Miria warmly smiles. “I´m good but not that good.” Fastening the bracers she continues. “We were lucky that an incoming party of dwarfs was near enough to notice the signs. About 5 miles out an army is digging its way to the surface.”

Syral goes to the closet storing her own armor. “How much time before they arrive?”

“Probably they will wait for darkness to fall,so an hour or two after nightfall.” Then with a restraining hand on Syral´s shoulder. “But I don´t want you on the exterior walls.”

“I won´t let you fight alone.” She shrugs off the hand and starts donning the leather armor.

“Stop you stubborn…!” Miria grabs and makes Syral face her. “Do you think I´m going alone? I´m commanding the garrison not fighting, and you are staying here!”

“I am not! And we work best together, who else is going to keep you safe out there!!”

“Not this time, this is not like when we were adventuring 20 years ago. I´m taking a squad of marines as a bodyguard and you are staying in the inner city with the family.” adding with a scared voice, “and don´t you dare to go near a temple, the Gods won´t protect us tonight.”

“What is going on, Miria? I don´t need the Gods to protect our family, although Moradin hasn´t failed me.” Her eyes narrow suspiciously “What aren´t you telling me?”

Miria looks away. “I cannot explain, but I don´t want you out there tonight.” desperately she grabs Syral again. “Listen to me! stay here, protect the twins and the rest the same way I´ll be protecting you all on the outer walls. I… I beg you.”

Angry Syral retorts. “You can´t explain? You won´t even try! And have you forgotten you´re injuried?” she grabs Miria right back and more softly continues. “Let me go to the walls and you stay here. Or we both stay and protect the family.”

“No!” Thunders Miria. “My leg does not matter. You are not to leave this city tonight, I forbid you!” and without thinking, continues. “I´ve seen it, if you fight you´ll die and with you our daughters! and thank your Moradin that Luc is out of the city!” then with a heavy breath. “I will not allow it. I have already spoken with Lord Captain Tiar, the naval troops will stay here protecting the citizens that are being evacuated while I take command of the rest of the garrison on the outer walls and if the the enemy breaches the walls the sappers will blow the bridges isolating the island.”

Syral stares at her in shock. “You… what? you saw it? What are you talking about.”

Miria´s shoulders shag and she seats on the bed with a sight. “I´m sorry for not telling you before but I didn´t want to worry you. I´ve been dreaming the same thing for the last two weeks. In my dreams the city is attacked and everybody dies in a storm of fire. I´m trying to avoid it.” her eyes start to tear. “Please my beloved you must understand… if you are here fate breaks, there are no temples for you to be killed in old town, and the raiders won´t be able to lay siege to these walls. They are here for a quick assault while the army is away they won´t have the material and the time needed to siege Lencia so if the bridges are cut, their probable target is safe and you with them.”

“What target are you talking about?”

Miria draws a slow, silent breath. “It´s obvious, the raiders are coming to finish what the shadow monsters started. Their target is us, the Lencian Highborns, and if they can´t reach us they will have to retreat defeated.”

Syral sits beside Miria and takes her hands. “But if the bridges are gone, how will you be safe?” She squeezes the hands tightly. “I´ll stay here, for you. But you stay, too!”

Defeated Miria leans against Syral, after a moment she shakes her head. “It´s our power, our duty and our curse. A Highborn must lead the outer defenders or they will panic thinking we have abandoned them. We need the Lord Captain leading his marines and sailors here, so who will take charge at the other side of the river?” turning and gently kissing Syral´s head “I´m sorry but no other Highborn in Lencia has my battle experience. I must go.”

“You say you´re worried I´ll die if I fight, but what about you? You still haven´t answered me what happens to you if you´re on the other side of the bridges.” She presses her forehead against Miria´s. “I said I would stay but you´re making it impossible. It´s not just the children who need protecting.”

“No, there is a certain person that I must make sure that stays protected.” gently Miria caresses Syral´s face. “The guards and the soldiers won´t rally around anybody else, and though I don´t plan to die tonight I´ll fight harder if my heart knows that you are safe.”

Syral grabs Miria´s hands again, gently this time. “You said you weren´t going to fight, only command. You said your leg doesn´t matter but I´ve seen how it affects you. You expect me to stay here calmly when I don´t know if you are safe?”

“I don´t plan to fight an extended battle so my leg is not an issue but I´m afraid our enemy might have different plans, so it´s a risk we must deal with. I can promise I won´t throw myself away as I have much to lose in that case but on the other hand I cannot promise that I won´t fight. I´ll be protected but 10 marines are not that many if things get dicey.”

Syral shakes her head. “I know you too well to trust you won´t take any unnecessary risks.” She looks at Raven´s Tooth with undisguised hatred “Especially when you use that. You need a companion, not bodyguards.”

“I need a companion here, making sure that I have a place to return. A companion that has been by my side always and that now will trust me enough to leave me face this battle alone.” Miria touches the black blade, her eyes harden, and Syral can almost hear the collective scream of the souls trapped inside. “And Raven´s Tooth is here to make sure that those who dare to threaten my family and my homeland will have an eternity to regret their mistake.” Then softening her voice, she looks again at Syral. “Please my lovely shecat, promise me that you won´t cross the bridges tonight, promise me that you´ll be here to protect our daughters and son. And if the Gods decide otherwise to await my return to your side.”

Syral is quiet for a long while, her worry and fear obvious. Finally she nods and kisses Miria. “Fine. But I´m not going to wait quietly if you don´t come back soon.” She moves quickly and scratches her claw along Miria´s cheek just enough to leave a mark. “But don´t try to keep me in the dark about things again.”

“I won´t” Answers Miria sheepishly. Touching the scratch she gives a impish smile. “For this after the battle I´m going to take you to bed and won´t let you go until you are hoarse from crying stop.”

Mirroring Miria´s smile, Syral hugs her. “Then you have to come back. Promise me.”

Hugging her lover back Miria chuckles. “You shifter of small faith… do you think a mangy duergar or drow is going to injure me?” Kissing Syral softly on the lips she continues. “I promise I´ll be back to spend another 20 years with you, even if I have to cleave through the drow realms.”

Syral smiles. “I´ll hold you to that. And if you´re not back soon, I´ll come find you wherever you go.”

Interlude 5

Goblin slaves hurried clearing the large cave while Duergar engineers sapped the support columns left. A few hundred feet away the bulk of the raiders waited, checking weapons, adjusting armor and looking forward the upcoming massacre.

In a cave set aside, amidst the sickly glow of the underdark moss brought to the surface levels, the Drow priestess Izu sat inside a spider silk tent, drinking a delicate fungi wine. Her body tense, Izu could not avoid thinking about the slaves she was going to take and the joys of all those new bodies to torture and enjoy “Soon as the Goddess promised, we will hurt what´s dear to Coralleon and those faint elves will know fear for generations to come.” She signaled and a Drow servant refilled her glass. Taking the glass to her lips the priestess heard her guards blocking the way to a visitor. “Dread Mistress a messenger.” one called.

“Let her in.”

A female drow fighter wearing black scale armor entered the tent and knelt at a respectful distance, her gaze on the ground, once beautiful features marred by a scar running her left side. “Dread Priestess.” she intoned the formal greeting.

“You have a message, captain?.”

“Yes Mistress, the mages inform that the burning orb is gone. We await but your command.”

Hearing the warrior news Izu licked her lips, for a moment she almost gave to her primal urges of violence and sex, wondering how the officer would look naked, covered in surfacer blood. Regaining her senses, she looked at the Drow daring her to rise her eyes so she could have an excuse to punish her. After a minute Izu spoke. “Have the Duergars collapse the cave and start moving the army out, no need to reserve the goblins, conserve just a few to herd the slaves back to the underdark. The beast masters better be prepared with their hulks, if the walls delay us I´ll have their hearts in Lolth´s Altar. Do you understand?.”

“Your will is my command Dread Priestess” The fighter answered.

“Good.” Izu abruptly rose and grabbed the other Drow hair making her rise her eyes. Red eyes locked on red eyes, a predatory smile on her lips “If your troops are as good as your reputation says, tomorrow you will share my tent and we´ll enjoy the cries of the faint elves as we bathe in their blood”

A feral smile was the answer.

Encountering Aberrations

We have set up camp near the ruins outside of Lencia. Being an adventurer, I never know where I will be one night to the next. Why just last night I…ahem.

Two nights ago I was at an Inn with Adruvia the fellow half-elf. She paced a lot, must be a druid thing. By the time I woke up, she was already out and about. I myself got moving and waited patiently outside the D’Urban Mansion.

Dwarves went in, but allies didn’t come out. I sent word that I was waiting, but was asked in. My valiant troopers, who had once faced off against hordes of goblins, were…wait for it…GROUNDED!
My word that was hilarious to hear and it brought my well-known smile to bear. I was doubly happy to find the twins were recuperating nicely. I flaunted my freedom by heading out until twilight to ask around about the attacks on highborns, but nothing came of it.

That night, I slept in the servant’s quarters. I am honestly a bit worried about this night. I met a wonderful woman who worked in the gardens pruning and arranging, and felt we connected. Sincia told me an age old limerick about Miria. Tex told me he helped write it. Well I was perfectly happy meeting Sincia, but something compelled me to leave her arms not once but twice. I was what people make me out to be: a strutting cock risking the feelings of others for short-lived pleasure. I don’t like it, and I should apologize to Sincia.

The next morning, the Lady of Trade was telling my party what she wanted them to do. I requested leniency, and as she hesitated to answer, I felt her worry over losing her child, and her friend’s children. Had my own parents ever had a lick of emotion…The limerick was still in my head, and I gather Tex was humming it. When Syral entered, it was too much. I was overwhelmed by her concern for my team, and also for the feelings my other half had for her. I excused myself. You know this feeling is not what I expected from Tex after meeting him in the Meugge Islands. It is a world of confusion whenever she is near.

Later in a public place, Kalleron was emasculated by his sister in front of behemoth female warriors. If that isn’t enough to give you the giggles, I don’t know what is! He is above it all, and that is just one of many things that makes him a good battlefield controller: Ice in his blood.

I accepted a mission on behalf of the Blades. Miria was furious, but I BELIEVE in our team. We were sent to a set of ruins, that had unusual sightings. Unusual is right, a beholder, no three beholders and various other monsters turned our ambush against us. I counted eight monsters in all. We all did our part, but I think Kalleron would be the hero of the fight. I blacked out a moment, but I just buckled down and went back at it. Now we have proof of monsters with one of their heads, the treasure from the flutist: money and the flute I kept, and hopefully the faith of the D’Urbans that we can be heroes just as they are.

I write this for myself, but oh what a book we will make someday. I wonder if Shera would pen this?

Emthri Adasunu Exfett, the Stormlit Interloper of the Blades of the Dreaded Dawn

PS, if you read this Luc, the dwarf lady looked very nice, I think a fine fine way for you to practice being a gentleman.

PPS, if you read this Kaela, give it back



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