Blades at Dawn

Interlude 10
Eye of the Storm

The inner sanctum doors opened by themselves at their master approach while souls trapped in rich silken tapestries started telling their eternal tales of damnation for their lord amusement as Asmodeus Lord of Nessus entered.

“Stop this racket, summon the Eight and assemble the Legions” growled the fell Lord to the empty room, immediately quieting the moans. Shadows bowed and disappeared on their master orders.

Three young girls wearing rich velvet dresses where dancing through the weekly market, darting right and left, from stall to wagon and back, touching linen clothes and trying brass baubles, never stopping in their frantic dance. Their fresh smiles spreading a gay mood among the merchants and customers alike. Flirting with young males they seemed to be enjoying their boundless youth in a warm spring day.

“Stop my dears.” said the apparent leader, a cute human with pink hair. “My feet are killing me and that´s quite a new sensation to me.”

Her beautiful eladrin companions burst laughing with such a musical sound that attracted longing gazes from passersby.

“There, let´s go and rest on that bench under the tree, perhaps we should try having one of those hopefuls bring us something fresh and sweet to drink.”

“As you wish, Mistress.” answered one of the tall eladrins starting a deep bow.

The human girl stopped her lovingly touching her lips with a finger. “Not Mistress, especially not here and not today.” with a cabriole, she turned and presented herself to the others. “Today I´m just… Miria.”

Eight huge Pit Fiends concentrated in ritual while Asmodeus watched them closely, his blazing eyes never missing a detail although his mind was busy in communication with the other gods of his cabal.

“She made a mistake taking that form, she is starting to act like a mere mortal and if only for that weakness she must be destroyed. Hear me brothers that I, Asmodeus Lord of the Nine Hells, will be the sword that will erase that abomination from Creation from once and all.”

“Dread Lord. The ritual is ready.” A deep voice announced from the Pit Fiends.

Asmodeus stood silent for a second still in palaver with the the rest of the Pantheon before acknowledging his subordinate. Then opened his arms as he triumphantly cried. "The gods agree. Open the Eye of Baal over the renegade and allow my assembled Legions to scourge the mortal realm of her and her minions.

Scorching wind came to lounging girls, high above the sky spread over the village went up in flames, the clouds burning as they turned with increasing speed. Birds were falling all around and they were burning.

The sky lit with orange fire in a great circle like a glowing red eye, a volcano of torrential energy, from which small things were emerging by the hundreds, the volcano fading away just as fast as they emerged. At times they seemed to fly up to catch up to it then the volcano would open, close . . . open, spewing more and more figures.

Panic spread like a disease, people running from the hellish hail storm hair and clothes in flames as the village burned down around them. The three girls calmly stared at the fire storm protected by an energy shield summoned by the pink haired one.

The one called Miria smiled “The gods made their first move and this…” pointing at the circling blasts of fire and the closing figures she added “is how their world ends.”

“Time for you two to go.”

The eladrin fell to their knees at once hugging the human in supplication"But Mistress, please allow us to stay. We are sworn to you and wish to remain with you to the end."

“Hush my children.” She ordered, gently caressing their heads “Thanks to your faith I´m not longer weak nor I´m bound by their compacts any longer now that they broke the Celestial Covenant, as that incoming army will soon learn.”

Opening a portal she ushered the eladrin through. “Back home with you. Tell my seneschal that the time to strike has come.”

Turning Nightchill abandoned her Miria persona and her factions turned more feral, her body changing for battle. Her clothes came to life and started flowing in strange patterns to fit, creating huge fleshy wings as Nightchill took to the skies to face her hellish adversaries, a growing cloud of darkness pushing through the fire storm.

Nightchill

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Coral Beach: The Dreaded Dawn Arrives
Katryol's Thoughts

Came across some new adventurers in the Inn today. I overheard that they had tried to speak to the Oracle. They look like competent, though a tad fledgling, adventurers. There is a rather tall Genasi female with them, and she gives me a weird vibe. I saunter up and put on my most serviceable face – and get right to the point. I have connections and I might be able to help them. They seem desperate, especially the young male warrior. The Genasi, as expected, does not approve. I drop a few hints about my connections and am quickly questioned about my over-eagerness. I tell them I enjoy learning gossip – not entirely untrue. I also can smell an adventure and life around here has gotten a tad dull. I notice a wizard with them and make mention of the magical items shop – this seems to pique his interest quite suddenly. He follows with a question about a library. I tell him there is one in the Oracle’s Tower, and that my connection might have access. I can’t seem too forthcoming with information. I tell them I will be here in the morning if they wish need of my services. Let them sleep on it. I have no qualms waiting.

I stationed myself at a table and await them. They saunter down and I greet them, making sure not to press the issue. I take them on a tour of the city, making sure to appease the wizard (he seems to be the leader). They buy a hand, and we head to the tower. I “speak” to a few guards, and take them up to see The Lady. I never caught her name, and people only referred to her as The Lady, and, given the freedom that came with her acquaintance, I never cared to press the issue. She did always fancy meeting newly landed folk, and she appreciated my eagerness for the tales they brought. The Genasi, Stormlit, took me aside while perusing through town. It seems she is the overseer of the younglings. Not so subtly put, she wanted to make it clear that, if at any moment, the children’s lives were threatened by an action I caused; she would not hesitate to kill me. With my biggest smile and deepest bow, I assured her that would not happen.

I took them to meet The Lady. She greeted them kindly, as she does all new people she meets. She welcomed us in to her lush suite and started on the normal pleasantries. It seems that the young Luc was in no mood for such trivialities. His brashness will get him killed in this world. People like being buttered up, adored, and reassured of their greatness. Their pride is oft their greatest weakness. Fronts are sometimes all we have to get through obstacles. Keeping those fronts intact is essential. His naivety will surely get him killed.

They questioned The Lady, Luc and the wizard Kalleron, a Gnelf, pressing the issue the most. They make quite a unique coupling. I wonder if they fight with the same tenacity? Suddenly, The Lady turned and a chill went through the room.

“Disrupt…the…ritual.”

What happened? Stormlit shot me a look, but I had no idea what happened. They backed away. I was confused. Nothing like this had ever happened before. The Lady didn’t seem much different. Some sweat beaded on her forehead, her face a bit taut, but nothing more. Still, I could not shake the feeling something went horribly awry. Keeping civilities intact, I excused ourselves from the room. The Lady insisted on keeping us a bit more. The group looked spooked and my curiosity piqued. What did they do to her? What did she do? Something happened, that I am sure of. What, I cannot say. I head down the stairs after the group, thanking the guards again. Connections must be maintained.

I rejoin the companions, albeit briefly. They seem wary of me now, which is understood, but not due to anything I knew about. Questions abound – too many for now though. But what did they do?

Suddenly a crash sounds in the distance. Screams erupt from the market district. This day is getting quite interesting! I take to the rooftops and head to the commotion. What have I gotten myself into? Arriving at the district, confusion has obviously swept across the villagers. They seem to be running from something. I spy two women, Eladrin maybe, in the epicenter of the commotion. Are they the cause? I have never seen them around these parts. What is going on?!

The companions arrive and nearly get trampled. Maybe they’ll kill themselves! Guards start trying to bring order to the mob while regaining their own senses. A guard fells a lady – the bastard. Does no one know how to read the tide of a battle? There is no battle here! The two figures are gone, my attention lost at the arrival of more guards. This may not be safe to be snooping around.

Luc called out. He apparently noticed a man fleeing in an opposite direction of the scattering crowd. I saw him quickly from my vantage point. Maybe he knew what happened or maybe he was the culprit, but I knew he knew something. As I was tailing him, Kalleron joined me on the rooftops (creepy magic). I pointed to the mark. We tailed him until he ducked into an abandoned 2-story house. Waiting for the others, Luc and Kaela, showed first. No one knew where the Genasi was. Luc entered first. I decided an aerial ambush during his entrance was appropriate. Getting a running start, I leapt for the window, preparing to crash through the boards…and slipped. Talk about first impressions. Landing deftly on my feet, I slipped in behind Kaela and Luc, hiding in the shadows of the house. I hate confrontations, and this had all the makings of one.

On the far end of the room was a door. Luc bolted for it, Kaela hot on his heels. As they neared the door, a crash sounded above. My guess – the wizard made it. Staying put to keep a lookout, a commotion sounded from the room Luc and Kaela entered. A sound of anguish and a screech of pain was all I needed to know that I should stay where I was. Kalleron emerged from the doorway above the stairs. I appeared and greeted him, directing him to the room. Following, I came across the reason for the commotion. Luc had “dealt” with my potential informant and found himself two young ’un’s to boot. These sights sicken me. I returned outside to stand watch. That’s when Stormlit arrived. Her stare is cold and fierce. Motioning inside, I assured her everyone was alright. Taking one last look down the streets, seeing no one, I followed inside. On the ground was a mosaic – mostly covered by dust, but brilliant in its detail. The carvings seem ancient, unlike any I had seen. This might be a clue that I had been searching for! Arguing ensued as to what they should do. Apparently the wizard and rogue are related. Great – sibling Gnelfs.

That’s when Stormlit noticed that no blood was present. Curiosity rose again. Some more discussion arose. A hallowed space is thought to be below the house. I run outside and check it’s foundation – solid. Returning, I find that Kalleron sensed magic, and that blood, it seems, exposes the mural. Everyone wants the knowledge, but who was willing? The Genasi seemed to prohibit anyone from taking a risky course of action, but that’s how things are accomplished! Luc went for it and wounded himself. Ahh, a man! Dropping instantly to the floor, his blood seemed to feed the mosaic! Stormlit quickly intervened and healed him. The mosaic stopped emerging. It seems a price must be paid for this knowledge. Luc apparently wanted to cut himself again, but he is too stymied by the others. This is my chance; my opportunity to prove myself to them and win their favor. Removing my dagger, I cut open my hand. I feel like I’m being pulled into the mosaic. I see life breathed into the etchings, their story brimming with life. My life! I am being drained, crippled. I am feeding this monstrosity, sating its hunger. The price for this knowledge is steep indeed. I find myself drifting back though, regaining my senses. The Genasi, I am thankful to say, intervened. The mosaic, now uncovered, was exquisite in its detail. Dragons laying siege to towns, strange markings scattered about, languages I had never seen before, circling around a figure – the focus of the mural. The others seemed perturbed – I was intrigued. More arguing ensued. It seems this is their method of taking action. I, however, study the mosaic closely. Map or not, I took out parchment and charcoal and copied it. I would say I was rushed, but they argued for quite a while.

When they were finished, it seems they decided to check on their ship. I tagged along, eager to learn more about these companions, and took the opportunity to follow up on some leads in the docks. Maybe someone there had learned something, or knew about this mosaic.

It turns out few knew much about either, but the companions decided they needed to get back to see The Oracle. This day could not get any stranger.

Not wanting to see The Lady again, we head to the main sanctum of the tower. They wished to check up on their requests. It seems that they did not receive answers – to be expected. Suddenly, a cleric speaking with a commoner, throws his head back as if possessed. People rush to his side, but the commoner is beaming. Apparently his question was worthy and The Oracle spoke directly through the cleric for his answer. Greater intrigue overcomes the group and Stormlit decides to cast an illusion on us to aid in our infiltration of the tower. Magic, I’m uneasy. Infiltration, I’m good at.

The spell is cast and we appear as clerics. And then, before we can set up markers or rendezvous points, they separate. The arrogance of youth! We will surely be separated! I tail the closest cleric heading for the door to the inner chambers and find myself with Kaela. Wonderful – the others are lost. Feeling sick in the fakeness of the magic, I procure some robes from a dormitory, as does she, and we head off in search of the tower. Our goal, to find the others. Our other goal, to find The Oracle. We make our way up the tower, by-passing clerics in both white and red robes, finding little of interest. Around the 6th floor, we spy a device – a platform of sorts. I examine it and feel a nudge in my back. The bastard Gnelf did it. I felt myself falling and then I appeared in a similar room to the one I just left. Recognizing it as one of the earlier rooms we had passed on the 3rd floor, I realize the device was a teleporter. So I hopped in again to get back. Reappearing, I see no one. I hop in again, and still no one. Again and again and again. The same result. Frustrated, I find the stairs.

I find Kaela ten floors up. Where we are at this point, I have no idea. Her sly smile gives way to a subtle hint of amusement. I can’t fault her – I would have done the same. When unsure of something, get someone else to check it out. We continue our search, and I learn a bit more about the companions. Apparently they are searching for someone. Luc has a quest of sorts and it’s all a bit convoluted. They’ve been traveling together for a while and are quite formidable despite their ages. Their parents seemed to have been of quite importance, but I care little for those with whom I do not have direct contact.

As we continue our way up, we come across a room stacked with papers. These appeared to be the financial records of the tower. As we search the documents a man seemed to appear out of thin air. Obviously he was aware that we weren’t supposed to be there, and he asked us what we were doing. I gave it my best bluff, but to no avail, he saw right through it. Recognizing the trouble this might cause, I moved into an evasive maneuver and hid in the shadows. Kaela approached the man (likely to silence him), and that’s when I saw it. The two tea tables behind him melted and writhed across the floor towards us. I readied my crossbows, now sure there was no avoiding this. Kaela picked up on the situation fast. I fired at the man, hoping to catch him off-guard, but he seemed to anticipate the attack. Kaela engaged the things. They lurched at her, seeming to twist and adjust mid-air. Their movement was uncanny, unlike anything I had seen on the field. Unfortunately, I was distracted from the man too long, and he sent out a gaseous hand towards me. It hit, ruining my hiding place, and I felt cloudy. Then one of the globs moved beside me. The man had disrupted my hiding spot and there was no going back. My focus turned to him, and I unleashed as many bolts as I could. He took them in stride. He flung out with the hand again and it hit – hard. Kaela had offed one of the globs and was heading to the man. I couldn’t take too much more. I released another volley, and he seemed wounded – finally. The being next to me lurched out and I barely evaded. The move did not come without a cost though and the man struck again. I felt my body sag; I would not have more than one final shot. Kaela had done a good job inhibiting him from the blind-side, but he needed to go down, or I was done for. I fired, my bolt lodging deep within his chest. His eyes rolled back and he quivered. The mass next to me quivered as well. Then, in a flash, both melted before our eyes. No man or beast I had ever slain had melted and there had always been a corpse. Now, there was nothing but a glob of clay. Needless to say we didn’t ask questions. We searched the room quickly and, finding nothing of significance, promptly left.

Kaela and I decided to continue to explore the floors, making our way to The Oracle’s room on the uppermost tier of the tower. She fared well in that battle – better than I had expected from one so young. Her confidence and poise had saved me. Perhaps there is more to these adventurers than I initially surmised.

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Adventure Journal of Luc Urban, entry 8
dark goddess

I met Nightchill.

Kalleron and I both awoke in the same dream. We were in the Manor, only it looked different somehow; as though it was a seat of power and not a second home. When we entered the ballroom we saw a throne facing away from us. We both moved closer, and then the throne turned, and my Lady Mother sat there smiling at us. She looked younger—perhaps a few years older than Kalleron—and healthy and happy. I didn’t heed Kalleron’s warnings and approached her. I know it was foolish, and I think I may have known at the time as well, but seeing her there like that, not writhing in pain like the last time I entered her dream… I wanted to believe it was her.

She gave herself away almost instantly though, outright telling me she wasn’t my Lady Mother, but saying she could be. Saying she was so much more than the real Miria. I refused her, and Kalleron tried to hit her with his magic only to have it bounce back at him. She talked to us of vengeance and love, and how if we only joined her she could give us so much. And to show us her power she twisted the air around us, squeezing, only for us to wake at the sound of a fight on board our ship.

Kalleron managed to stop the fight among the sailors, and before we could return to bed Stormlit asked to speak to me. I still don’t understand her, and I couldn’t really follow what she was trying to say. My head was still reeling from our encounter with Nightchill and I don’t think I gave Stormlit my full attention. She mentioned things about being a protector, and tattoos, and she kept smiling. I’m really not sure what she was after, but she seemed satisfied after a few moments and returned to her and Kaela’s room. Kalleron was already in his trance when I entered our cabin, so I couldn’t ask him about her.

We reached the small island the sailors told us of before and Kalleron and I went on shore to help load supplies and to stretch our legs. I offended some marines by offering my help, and they let me know my place was overseeing. I’m much better at physical labor than at leading, and with Lencia the way it is now we can blur the lines between Highborn and commoner, can’t we? I seem to be the only one thinking like that, though. At least I got to take a quick bath and clean my armor.

Kalleron and I continued to explore the island. There is a volcano in the center, and we climbed a few hundred feet before we discovered an ice giantess and her pet bear. Unfortunately I wasn’t quiet enough and we were spotted, but the skirmish was brief. We took down the bear and giantess, but not before she mentioned finding her chieftain and telling him about us. We decided it was best to alert the crew and returned to the ship. We were lucky that we could finish the check-up on the hull, and what minor repairs were needed, without being seen. But as we pulled away from the island the lookout spotted sails in the distance.

Our ship managed to outrun two of the three dakars chasing us, but the first managed to get grappling lines into our side and haul itself closer. I cut one of the lines, but wasn’t able to stop the next two they shot in. Kalleron and Kaela managed to pick off some of their number, and Kalleron used his magic to seriously harm their leader and some of his healthier crew, but it wasn’t enough. As they came closer their leader cast some kind of spell that blasted us with ice-cold air and sent over half the sailors and marines out of the rigging and to their deaths. Stormlit was knocked overboard, and was nearly crushed between the two ships before she managed to haul herself back up on deck. Without heed to my own well-being I somehow managed to climb the rigging and swing myself over to the giant’s ship, killing one as I landed.

We were lucky in that fight. Besides their leader and a few giants, the rest were weak and easy to take out. One giantess gave us more of a fight than I expected, though, but she finally fell. Between their magic attacks and my sword we finished them all off, and while Stormlit and I did our best to tend to the wounded—I could only save the sergeant and mage—Kalleron and Kaela looted the ship. We cut the lines and sailed away, but with so few of the crew left it’ll take us even more time to reach the Green Isles.

I am so sick of feeling useless. I could only save two people I was charged with protecting. I’m a terrible leader, I don’t care what Kaela and Kalleron say, and I rely on them to help me through nearly everything. But as soon as night fell and Kalleron was in his trance I called out to Nightchill. I was expecting her to hurt me like she did Kaela, or to try to fight me for being defiant, but she came to me in a dream again. I wanted a fight, I wanted to do something instead of sitting passively by and watching as everything I love is taken from me. But I couldn’t fight her, I couldn’t even talk with her. I went to her without any sort of plan and came away with nothing. She kept insisting she could be my mother, that she could give me everything I ever wanted and more. All I had to do was be her priest and serve her. Her presence was overpowering; the only thing I could do was keep denying her, and that only seemed to amuse her.

I will stop her. No matter what, I won’t let her win. She said my faith in myself was my failing, but her overconfidence will bring her down. She may be a god, but she’s not invulnerable. I won’t let her use my family and my mother’s body to fulfill her vengeance.

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On Oracle's Note Stack - Written in Primordial
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auzfTPp4moA

For you my master, The Story of the Infiltrated Shield Maidens.

On the fortified walls of a keep, a master’s power is well displayed. Perhaps the best symbol of this is the shield maiden Lucesa D’Burn, a firesoul genasi with a glowing gold shield that is sharp at the base and with breadth to protect many. No arrow or spell could get past her in the heat of battle.

However the shield rests before battles, and at the Obese Bear Inn in the nearby common folk town, a clever man moved past her defenses with the words of a poet. He was a smiling, fine-clothed, perfumed razorclaw shifter, although to the discernable nose, he perhaps had not bathed in some time. For her fellow three shield maidens, Lucesa had prepared a table to discuss the coming battle. The shifter named Cats-Tree-N-All, calmly took position at the far end of the table “My! What preparations! Surely no army will penetrate your walls. For a price, I can guarantee victory to our most valued women of the keep.”

Lucesa had been unsure about today’s battle, the frustrating enemy’s leaders were elusive in every battle so far. A quick answer to their formations proved impossible. Lucesa’s fellow maidens were a happy overconfident unit. Two of the more silent could be seen braiding each other’s hair and forgiving the smallest trespasses that occurred, be it a pull or a hideous beehive shape to a once respectable set of locks. The other maiden seemed most happy with a book, any book. The three were not at the top of their form and perhaps it came from them relaxing and trusting in Lucesa too much. Secretly the firesoul feared the maidens losing faith in her, therefore enjoyed them being distracted. Drinks were ordered, and the man was entertained.

Lucesa spoke independently with Cat-Tree-N-All. They had slaughtered his people, or so he said, and in the name of revenge he could be in Lucesa’s ear during the battle, alerting her of which invaders were captains when he spotted them. Lucesa was hesitant, but inside she longed for any advantages to end the oncoming battle quickly. Small threads of disbelief told Lucesa the man was still a stranger not to be trusted.

Outside girls screamed quickly then silence. When the shield maidens reached the window, they saw a wicked man had carried two innocent girls off in a dark alley. The four friends ran after the foul man surprised that already at the sick man’s lair was Cat-Tree-N-All thrusting his blade in the man dispatching him quickly, saving the girls. His heroic deed put him in better light and Lucesa accepted his position as battlefield advisor.

Notice what she accepted: drinks that were possibly brought by the shifter, and the shifter’s presence so quickly at a hard to find fiend’s lair. Truly a sign of things to come.

At the moment of battle, positions were set, Lucesa met her fellow maidens who were already armored and helmeted. The battle went poorly as the other maidens hesitated and the archers they defended were felled by accurate arrows. Lucesa told Cat-Tree-N-All to point out the leaders from the wall, but when she relayed his answers, and the keep’s archers fired, the invading army ignored the fallen comrades. “Your information is false Cat-Tree-N-All, the walls will soon be breached!”

“They already are milady, when you replace strategy with faith in the unknown, you take risks, and this time it failed you.” The razorclaw now had the face of Lucesa, and when the last of the keep’s archers fell all that were left were the maidens. They took off their helmets to reveal Lucesa’s face with confident smiles. “The first enemy to breach the walls was you.”

Lucesa attacked her mimics, swinging her shortsword with skill, and leaving no mocking head on false body. The mimics lashed out in death, rending at her mind, and nearly killing her but her rage burned the pain away. As the three allies lay dead, Cat-Tree-N-All had slipped away.

There she stood, watching the armies below wash into the keep, her master surely unable to escape. Because of one smooth talking man, she lost her belief in herself, her friends were warped, the battle was one-sided, and her master vanquished.

Some say if you go to the invading armies hall of heroes, her name is written in gold as the honorable key to the victory over the keep.

The veracity of this story comes by the blessing of the Oracle of the Green Isles, for she herself knelt to one knee and kissed the paper it was written on.

Long health my master. Thank you for the gift of voice.

Botdd3d

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The Gift of Voice - Written in Primordial
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQtIRrmhvBw

My Master, I wish to lighten your heart with the tale that is most assuredly true, and can be vouched for by the greatest storytellers in three hundred and thirty thousand realms.

Once there was a great fire giant named Emberkin the Lavabladed. What made him so glorious in the eyes of others was his loyalty, for his faith to his master was akin to the master having a sixth finger: he always complied quickly and served precisely as his master wished. Emberkin was so triumphant at every turn that his freedom was given to him to reward him and to allow him to become an ally to his former master. He was just weeks from everything he could ever want in the grandiose city including a palace not to far below the top of the mountain where his former master sat. The palace was one of many things that any normal slave would want.

Yet, the only thing Emberkin wanted was the love of one other that had called to his heart for years. This love would have been his when he was merely a child, but fate had bigger plans for this love. This love had a complicated way of surviving, not through the laws of the city but in spite of the laws. These laws had given everything to Emberkin and people like Emberkin’s master had kept them in place for years uncountable, however the fire giant was blinded by fires of his own making and left the treasures he won behind in search of this love.

He found this love, but feared telling his feelings, for this love’s heart had been encased in ice from lovers past. Emberkin swore to help this love with grand gestures, abandoning his fiery weapon and clipping his burnt orange hair to distance himself from his former glory. He even renounced his palace and kowtowed to this love until blood seeped from wounds into the rocky ground.

This love made no sign of acceptance to the gestures.

Months later, this love asked for Emberkin to leave, and watch over a small group of lawbreakers that had lost their protector. It crushed Emberkin that this request was empty of heart. The man had now lost all he once was, or had wanted. As a final act of love, he swore to stay with the lawbreakers until this love saw fit to call him back.

It was weeks into his mission that he was given reprieve from battle after battle. A beach on an island in the sun gave him chance to reflect on his mistakes. With his clothing drying on a branch and a simple magic spell giving him the appearance of cloth, he meditated on his actions. The clothing failed to dry quickly enough, and his spell subsided, so he set steam to the ocean by stepping into the waters to clean his skin. The deep blue called to him, giving him the option to let go and sink to the depths, as if sinking into the dark black eyes of a shark before it would rend his flesh.

However even in these dark hours, his duty pushed him back to the shoreline and away from a coward’s death. Donning his garb, he searched out the lawbreakers to make something of his new life.

He found it hard to understand these people, or to find interest in anything aside from his lost love. A lawbreaker named Mallet said he felt the fire giant’s emptiness, and questioned the usefulness of such a man. The others pitied the warrior.

Finally, an answer came, not from this love, but from the one above love. The island had a volcano, that burned with fires forged from the city of his former master. It exploded in such a grand plume, that in mere seconds the lawbreakers were brought to justice, reduced to ash.

Emberkin’s strength gave him endurance enough to wade through the molten rock for a time, but as he succumbed, he thanked his master for sending waves of purity that he would now join, slipping deeper into the yellows and reds and finding the smallest connection to the one above love, master, again.

If it pleases, my work is completed. Sleep well my Master, and thank you for the honor of voice you have given me.

St mastermemory

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Girl Talk
Minions got a life too.

Weary from the long watch Blend descended the stairs to the marine area and dropped heavily on a hammock next to Squeak, looking at the now folded hammocks.

“How´s the sarge Blend?” asked the Dwarf marine rising her eyes from the bolt she was checking.

“Mallet says that he´ll make it but that it was close.” was the answer “Spider might still lose the eye tho.”

“Rotten luck those two, but then all this sail has been rotten.” pointing to the cabins behind them Squeak continued “Is he worth all this mess, Blendy?”

“Careful there hon” answered Blend a warning note in her voice “we are marines not pretty horseboys, if we take it to the chin we tough it and don´t do accidents.”

“Sorry Blend, just bich´in that´s all.”

“Still you got a point, the capt and his friend are strong and powerful the same way a molocar pup is, it can tear off your head and then spit it just to show that it can but it´s still a pup.” Blend sighed “The capt is not even half the fighter his mother is but he tries, he faced his damned father like a vet, and you saw him jumping on the giants three days ago.”

“Ye, just like you said. A molocar pup that bites before knowing if it can shallow.”

“Still he looks like a nice, strong one. On the island Asp and me saw him and his friend washing and was fancying a tumble to see if they could deliver what they promised.”

A glint in Blend´s eyes made Squeak smile. “The trip is not over yet, Blend. You still will get you chance and now that Aspsalar is gone to the Gates I might go and get under the wizard´s robes to check is he is also exotic there.”

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On the desk of Lady D'Urinda
feel free to add your own!

These are all the rumors that I could find, my Lady. I’m not sure they can offer any insight into anything, though.

—Sir Jaune was killed by an angry lover.
..alt: He ran off with a woman.
..alt: Lady Miria killed him and his lover when she found them together in bed.

—There is a place called the Naughty Highborn where… things go on between Highborn women and men pay to watch.

—House D’Urinda has the mercy of Moradin protecting them.
..alt: House D’Urinda cursed the other Houses for a perceived slight.

—Dame Syral (“the cat” or “the fur”) killed Sir Jaune and Dames S’Jet and Amirah.
..alt: She killed Lady Miria during a night of passion and hid the body.

—Dame Syral let the drow into the city because she made a pact with a demon drow and is pregnant with his child.

—In two weeks everyone will be stone and Lencia will be swallowed into the sea.
..alt: Two months.
..alt: Very soon.

—Dame D’Aubry eats kittens.
..alt: eats babies

—Radicals say that unsavory elements within the city are the cause of the recent crisis.
..alt: human supremacist organisation has gained ground amongst dissidents and calls for removal of unclean races.

—The center of the stone highborn statues hold gold hearts
..alt: chocolate

—The statues will become golems

—The Naughty Highborn is on the verge of closing. Apparently their famed Highborn dancers were not Highborn at all.

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Kalleron's Memories Part XIV
Seafarer Chronicles: Boys' day out on the Isle of Giants

When I beheld that little volcanic island, it was like seeing paradise. I was so ready to get off the ship and put my feet on some solid ground that I eagerly volunteered to help replenish our water stores. Luc volunteered as well, but my sister and Stormlit decided to remain on board: probably wise considering what just happened to our ship and crew. So, Luc and I got another chance to spend some quality time together, a prospect I am sure he “greatly relished.” Well, we were taken ashore after the barrels and initial foragers were dispatched, and assisted in taking the barrels up to the source of a spring. Since the sailors did not need help, I decided to wash up in a large pool below the spring and get the stink of undeath out of my clothes. Luc decided to join me and so both of us were in our underclothes washing our respective protective gear…much to the apparent delight of the female marines. We got a few whoops and hollers (I believe female humans call them cat calls), and so I decided to have fun with it and pose a little bit. While Luc was distracted I used a ghost hand to push his head into the water, and then he proceeded to kick me back into the water as well, but I deftly dodged the blow. He redoubled his attack and eventually pushed me under the water. I think I actually saw him smile a bit. He was actually having fun rough housing, and perhaps he managed to forget his troubles…at least for a moment. I think there is still hope for him. Well, we finished washing our clothes and went to help the sailors carry the barrels down the hill to the boat, but they insisted that our assistance was not necessary, and that our exploring the island might be more advantageous. Why not, right? Luc and I decided to climb the volcano and get a nice commanding view of the island. We hiked around the volcano for about an hour (we could not go straight up, sadly), but before we could get to the summit we heard a peculiar animal noise. I thought it resembled a bear, but was not sure. Luc and I somehow managed to get closer as well as a view without getting caught (I am sure mom and Kaela would be proud of me).

What we came upon was a female frost giant, in the midst of urinating (not a sight I care to see again), with a large white bear next to her. It must her pet because the bear kept trying to bother her in a rather playful way. Well, Luc and I agreed that discretion was the better part of valor and tried to get away, but sadly, our luck in sneaking ran out as the bear noticed our departure. The bear took a sniff and then bounded towards the bushes where we were concealed. I used one of my spells to make Luc and I look like the frost giant, which I thought would fool the beast. However, the creature, through some magic I do not understand I am sure, saw through the illusion and attacked. Thankfully, my illusion did buy us a bit of time to get into a better tactical position before the giant came to her pet’s aid. She boldly declared that she would make us slaves, but we were having none of that. The battle lasted for a few minutes, and I must say that Luc and I worked well together. Luc drew the enemies to him and kept them away from me, which gave me the chance to shield us with my magic and blast them from afar. He sliced and I blasted until the bear fell, and then the giant attempted to run away. We almost allowed her to escape before I heard her say that she would tell the jarl about us. After hearing that, I knew we could not let her survive. So we ran her down and felled her before returning to the ship. When we arrived on the ship, we told the captain about the frost giant, and that there was probably an entire raiding party on the island since the one we killed mentioned the jarl (a chieftain, clan leader, or raiding party leader). He said that there were still repairs to make, so we were forced to wait until they were complete. I did not want to sail away in a ship that would fail us midway. The repairs were made, and we almost made it away without incident…however, as we were leaving the cove, we spotted some giants on the shore pointing at our ship. The captain recommended taking a long detour to avoid any potential attackers, and we readily agreed. Sadly, we were only granted a few hours reprieve before three ships were spotted to our stern.

The frost giants were upon us, and we only had a short while before they overtook us. All of us tried to assist the crew in whatever was required to give us more speed. The crew bent every sail and I used my magic to fill them with a powerful wind. Stormlit tried to organize the crew better, Luc assisted with holding the lines, and Kaela deftly leaped among the rigging assisting with the lines as well as the sails. Sadly, we could only outrun the two slower vessels, but one of the longboats was gaining ground…primarily because they kept skewering our ship with harpoons with lines attached. A battle was inevitable since we could not cut the lines fast enough. Our two ships came closer and closer. The upside was I was able to attack them with my magic before they could get a chance to board us. I summoned a wall of fire on the prow of their ship, bathing them and their ballistae in flame. I also tried to lure them into the flame with my illusions but they proved more resistant to that than I expected. Unfortunately, they had a caster of their own on board, a shaman, who called forth an icy storm that swept over our ship. We watched as over half the crew went down, and as Stormlit was flung overboard (I hope Luc doesn’t blame himself for it). She was able to climb back on board, but two giants also clambered onto our deck to join us. We ordered the surviving members of the crew below, and then Kaela threw her daggers at the longboat giants one last time before turning to face our new visitors. She and Stormlit focused on the newcomers while Luc climbed up the rigging, swung over to the other ship, and all but dove into the middle of the frost giant crew. I did not even have time to face palm but could only use what magic I had left to support him as best I could. The two giants on our deck were dispatched quickly, and Luc, while taking a bit of pounding was holding his own rather well amidst the giant horde. Stormlit refreshed him with her healing powers, and I picked a couple more off before in a flurry of blows, the remaining giants fell beneath Luc’s swords. It was a rather heroic effort on all our parts, but a pyrrhic victory nonetheless. Stormlit and Luc used what skills they had to save the lives of a few more crew members, but many simply could not be saved. We were able to raid the giant’s ship and found several useful items: some arcane reagents, incense, and other materials, some healing potions, some magical arrows, and some valuable gems and gold. Before I returned to our ship, I found the thing that was sustaining the longboat (which was made entirely of ice, I should mention) in these warm waters, and I disabled it ensuring that it would melt before it could be used against us again. Well, more have fallen in the service of Lencia, yet we will have to take solace in the fact that we have survived to fight on. We still have a chance to defeat the forces that threaten to undo Lencia, and perhaps the world, itself.

Only another day or so before we arrive at the Green Isles…so, I pray to Correllon and whatever other god might be listening to get to the islands without further incident. I suspect that the islands, and this oracle, will have many surprises in store for us. Also, we need some rest…and I need to hit the books again.

Personal note: I have discovered that Luc does not care for the taste of the ships grog (store of water-diluted ale). I took a mug after the battle because I needed to unwind a bit. Luc asked for some to which I replied, “You’re not old enough.”
“But neither are you!!” he said.
“I am in Eladrin society,” I replied, after which he promptly took my mug, quaffed and then immediately spat the ale back out. I guess he far used to a more fine vintage of wine rather than the common man’s drink. I couldn’t help but laugh, and a little levity in these trying times will be the only thing keeps us sane, I feel.

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Kalleron's Memories Part XIII
Seafarer Chronicles: Talks and Dreams

The day immediately following the ghost ship battle was solemn one. I arose from my waking dreams and proceeded to grab my spell book to begin my preparations for the day. The weight in my chest had not yet fully subsided, which could mean that the undead were still in pursuit…or it could simply be a residual presence, but I could not take that chance. Also, spell preparation can act as a form of meditation, I find, since the re-memorization of arcane formulae is akin to restoring a lost piece of a wizard’s mind. Sadly, before I could begin, I noticed that Luc was not in his bed, and that it appeared that he not slept there either. Closing my book, I went up to the deck where I found him near the bow leaning on rail and looking more than bit forlorn. I joined him, though he hardly acknowledged my being there. I asked him what was wrong and he merely looked at me with sorrowful rage. Okay, maybe not the best way to begin the conversation, I admit. Still I had to persist. Father taught me that it is best to vocalize your problems because it forces you to confront that which troubles you most, and talking out issues allows the venting of anger, catharsis, if you will. Thus, I prodded him, while a peanut gallery of sailors made comments, until he finally screamed, “Look! I just killed my father.”
“No, you did not kill your father. First, he was not your father, and second, he was killed first and then corrupted into an undead. His form alone was what you struck down, and it freed his soul, which had been twisted by hatred and the dark magics that sustained him as a wight.” I said.
“Kalleron, you don’t understand. I killed him.” He repeated. Luc has a bad habit of doing that when he feels guilt over something. I said again that “his step-father was already dead when he became a wight, and so to give him death again was a release and a blessing (I think father would have been proud of my little speech).” I told him that he still had us, his friend, to which he merely replied, “For how long?” We talked for a little bit longer and he seemed to relent on some of the guilt that was plaguing him, which was progress, but I fear there is something else gnawing at him. I want to help him, but I fear he will not let me. Luc is stubbornly clinging to this idea that every life around him is his sole responsibility to protect, and so everyone that falls adds more weight to his already overburdened conscience. I only hope we can keep him from succumbing to nihilism. Perhaps when we get to this island to resupply and repair the ship, we can go ashore and try to relax a little before we continue to the Green Isles. Only another day to the resupply island, and then from there, we go to the oracle. Once again, however, things did not turn out to be that simple.

Before arriving at the island, the waking dreams of my trance were swept aside as I appeared in what looked like the D’Urban manor standing next to Luc. It is a rather surreal experience to be standing next to Luc in a dreamscape and be aware of his body lying on bed not 10’ from me. In any case, this was no normal dream as both Luc and I were aware of each other and this place had more substance than a normal dream. We walked down a solemnly decorated hallway, opened a large set of doors and entered a large hall with a black throne as a centerpiece. The throne was facing away from, but as we approached it swiveled around (what will modern inventors think of next), and in the chair was Miria…or rather a younger version of Miria. She was sporting a warm, motherly smile, but something about this scene felt wrong…Miria was all wrong. Luc kept insisting that the woman was his mother, and this was her dreamscape, but I could not believe. The words that came from the woman were so sweet and inviting but lacking in veracity. They were almost too sweet. The woman was also speaking in riddles, and not answering questions with any sort of directness, but Luc would not listen to me. Admittedly, I did not know for sure that it was not Miria, but still. She said to him, “Take me hands, my child.” He took her hands and asked her where she was, to which the woman merely replied, “I am not your mother Luc, but I am very glad to see you.” Nightchill! The being that we collectively saw in our dreams weeks before was sitting before us. I pulled out my wand and shot a magic missile at her, but it merely rebounded and struck me instead. What followed was a short question and answer session in which Luc and I asked her questions and she did not give us answers. A couple things did stand out though. One, Nightchill seemed to take a keen interst in Luc. She said that she had absorbed all that Miria was, so perhaps the essence of Miria’s feelings are within this fell goddess, but only shade. I do not believe it to be true, and mercifully, Luc does not either (at least I hope he doesn’t). Second, Nightchill’s power is sufficient enough to affect the material world again, but the ritual that brought her back either needs to be sustained, or is incomplete, which means that we still have a chance to disrupt her power and restore the highborn. Lastly, one title she gave herself (or rather she said it was given to her) was vengeance incarnate, and that her wrath would fall on the gods (those that presumably imprisoned her, but she was not terribly specific). Again, my mouth got us into trouble. I just cannot avoid a bit of snarky, sarcastic wit when confronting creatures or people like Nightchill. So, as a further demonstration of her power, she raised her hand and proceeded to flex her had, which started to squeeze the air from our lungs, but before she relented there was a loud “BANG!!”

Both Luc and I, being primed to wake up because of our shared dream, were the first to rouse and arrive on the scene, after I gave a quick “I told you so” to Luc (I just couldn’t resist). Apparently, a card game had gone horribly wrong. I examined the scene while Luc screamed at the sailors to be quiet (shut up, to be more precise) and calm down. There was some scouring on the decks as if a small explosion had gone off in the middle of rousing hand of three dragon ante. The game was apparent since all of the cards were dragons…except for one. A card in the middle of the char was a queen seated on a black throne: an eerily familiar picture. I showed Luc and both us were making harmless speculation which the sailors took as horrible omens of ill fate and fortune. I tried to tell them that the card was labeled Tiamat, who can take humanoid form, but that only served to make them believe that the queen of dragons was going to descend and devour us all. Mercifully, the island was only a few hours away, and we had some more time to rest, so I went below to finish my trance…and recover from my wounds incurred in the dream.

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Kalleron's Memories Part XII
Seafarer Chronicles: Attack of the Phantom Ship

Sadly, my hopes for a peaceful voyage were shattered not long after the storm hit us. The lookouts spotted a ship approaching from the stern, which appeared at first to be part of the Lencian navy, but I could feel a familiar feeling tugging at my soul. A dark presence was on the ship, and as the ship got closer, my fears were confirmed as the vessel had been turned into a ghost ship. Its entire crew was rendered into undead fodder by the fell energies of the Shadowfell, which radiated from the ship itself. That dark energy…so familiar…could it be? Perhaps not, but as the ghost ship came upon our starboard side and proceeded to board us, my personal thoughts had to be set aside. In a rather odd move on my part, I took the front line and used my fire shield to absorb the first wave of boarders while using what radiant magics I had to blast them into oblivion…probably not the smartest move on my part, but it did prove to be educational. The zombies stuck down by my fire and radiant spells stayed down while those felled by the sword or other magics were revived. There was a group of undead that were by the helm of the ghost ship, however, that did not advance on us initially, but seemed rather content to watch as we contended with their minions. Luc started calling out to them, or rather to one of the figures, in particular, who turned out to be Miria’s husband. Thankfully, he did not succumb to the desire to run after his adoptive step-father (I am not actually sure how to define the relationship), for I fear if he had, then our dear Luc would have become a member of the undead crew. Luc continued to fight on and held the line with the rest of us against the undead onslaught. Despite our hacking their crew to pieces wave after wave of zombies came upon us while ghostly snipers attacked us from the crows’ nests. I was forced to drink my last potion of vitality, Stormlit had all but expended her healing magic, and the casualties among our crew were starting to mount up.

Things were looking bleak before we realized that we could hack the lines tethering us to the ghost shape and potentially get free. Why none of us thought of trying this earlier I do not know, but no sooner had we started to cut the lines then the undead at the helm (who turned out to be mainly wights) decided to take in interest in the battle and advanced. The figure of Sir Juanne started taunting Luc, which did help my friend’s disposition in the fight. Luc wound up fighting the wight, but I could see that it required all of Luc’s resolve to continue the fight. We continued to hack at the lines with the help of our own marines and sailors while simultaneously trying to stem the flow of zombies. The wight was sapping our strength with his frigid blade, wraiths and ghosts were harrying us, and zombies were killing our men. Eventually we were able to separate ourselves from our ghostly aggressors, but not before the ghosts descended on us from the crow’s nests and a few more zombies jumped aboard. Our reserves of strength were near exhausted, but we managed to hold our own against the remaining foes…barely. As our ship gained some distance from theirs, Luc’s life was hanging by a thread. When he dealt the death blow to his step-father he nearly collapsed on the deck, and the rest of were looking rather the worse for wear as well when the remaining undead were destroyed. We had saved ourselves and the ship, though Luc, even after recovering from his wounds and the shock of battle, still looked dead on his feet. My dear cousin no doubt feels overwhelming guilt for what happened to Sir Juanne in some fashion, but as I could not think straight at the time, I was forced to tend to my own wounds and rest. Maybe I should talk to him later…though my efforts to make Luc see that he is not responsible for every bad thing that happens in this world have proved to be less than effective at the best of times. Still, he is like family to me, and I cannot bear to see him crush himself under the weight of guilt and responsibility. These worsdnid (ink runs)…time for rest…damn shadow plague…my chest feels like stone…

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