Blades at Dawn

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


Kalleron's Memories part 3
Unfinished thoughts...

Kalleron could not put all of his thoughts into his letter to Miria. So, he once again took out his quill and began again…

There was so much more I could have said in my letter to Miria…so much more I wanted to say, but those things are best kept within the pages of this book. I should not have raised my voice at Miria, and I know that she almost lost her daughters…but she almost lost us as well. We have all been so close over the years and Kaela and I have thought of her and Syral as family, but when Miria confronted us, it was as though we were hirelings who, having failed at their task, were about to be executed. We had erred in that we should have been at the manor looking after our cousins who, despite having great ability, were not overly blessed with common sense. I thought that our ability to preserve the twins lives, as well as another relation of Miria (Dame Aira, if I remember correctly) coupled with the fact that we had learned more about those damnable things would have curried us some favor. However, we were met only with the unbridled rancor of Lady Miria D’Urban. She laid into us with words as she would a horde of Gnolls with her broadsword. I felt as though with each new reprimand (I am kind to call them that) I was being cleaved in two. I realize now that I was wrong to dally at the library, and that we made several mistakes in how we went about our business the other day, but at the moment I was hurt and angry at Miria. The twins would probably have been attacked anyway, but we saved them! My sister almost died for them, but Miria threatened her life!! Is it really that strange that I raised my voice to her?! My idea contributed to the hastened attack on the twins. I say hastened because I believe that the attack was inevitable. I will not contradict Miria on this matter, and will accept responsibility for my mistakes. Miria almost lost her children, and I cannot imagine the kind of pain she must have gone through when she heard the news, but I felt so hurt when she seemed to gloss over the threat to our safety as we rescued her girls. These thoughts are selfish, and I am not proud of them, which is why they will remain in this tome (right? You sneaky reader whoever you may be…). I suppose I should chronicle some of the events of the past couple of days…

After Kaeala and I arose, we went to the bridge to Old Town, running into Emthri along the way. We all met Luc at the bridge, and we exchanged stories about what happened after we got separated the night before. Kaela and I had a run romp over the rooftops, Emthri stayed at a club the whole night, and Luc got to deal with the guard and his family. I think we enjoyed the rest of our evening more than Luc did. After a bit of chitchat about the previous night’s “frivolities” we proceeded to do what any sensible group of adventurers would do. We went to the guard house to inform them of what we knew of the situation and tried to persuade them against having the soiree that evening. After our encounter, I have but one question to put to Lencia, “Are there no logicians in this city? Is there perhaps someone with a bit of wisdom?” I guess I had two questions. I could probably ask more, but there would not be much of a point. Needless to say, we failed in our attempt to dissuade these people as parties of such “caliber” are of monumental importance to these highborn. Mother and Miria used to tell us stories about a city that was under siege and how almost no one in that town had any sense. Our parents argued with the councils to little avail and the army and city guard were tied up in rules and regulations…I distinctly remember our parents saying the name of Outlook, but perhaps they got the name of the city wrong.

Well, after we left the guard captain, I had what I thought was a stroke of brilliance. I figured that if we knew more about what these creatures wanted and how they thought, we would be better able to combat them in the future. So I suggested that we go to the library, which thankfully, everybody endorsed. However, as nothing in this city can be simple, we could not gain access to the library without getting through the maze of bureaucracy at the university, with a little help from my sister and rather impressive bluff on my part (it helps when no one in Lencia can identify what my sister and I are). With my new ID, and a little trickery we managed to get all of us bar Luc inside the library. It was an impressive building with its high windows, rounded archways, and floor after floor of books. Sadly, Luc could not sneak in like Kaela and Emthri and was left to try to get permission from the chancellor of the university. So, he left to procure permission while the others and I went off in search of knowledge. The clerk gave us directions, and we (relatively) quickly found the information we needed on the Bunderhops and how they operated. After I finished my research, Kaela, Emthri, and I got back together and discussed ways to get back into the building, but most strategies we came up with were rendered moot due to the various magical alarms and whatnot placed around the building. Well, as we were leaving the university we ran into Luc, who had finished his task quicker than I expected. As he came to us we all noticed that he was not alone as a very attractive half-elf female was standing near him.

Attractive is simply not the right word. She was beautiful, and though I had not seen her before that moment, there was something familiar about her. She was clothed in hides and had the sweet smell of the forest and open plain about her, and though she displayed an outward serenity I could sense something primal and powerful about her. Then as all the pieces fell into place, and I felt foolish for not realizing immediately that she was a druid, a protector of the natural world. At first I thought that Luc had a devil’s luck and I was congratulating him on his good fortune, but he kept saying that he had just helped her and had not known her until a few moments prior. I wonder if she’ll like me. I noticed that she was whispering a lot with Emthri. Does she like him, or did I imagine her eyes lingering on me for a minute? She was also trying to get close to me, I think. One can only hope I suppose. Sadly, I did not get to know her that well as Kaela was being her normal, protective self, but I did find out that she was a druid of considerable power. She also claims to be fighting the organization that has hired the Bunderhops. That’s all that I was able to learn as anytime Adruvia came to me to tell me something (since she has apparently decided that I am best person to confide in), Kaela would get closer, which would cause her to clam up. Perhaps when Kaela is distracted I will be allowed to discover more about this lovely druid. I cannot fault Kaela for wanting to protect me. I count myself among the luckiest creatures in the world that I was born with such an amazing sister as her because she has always been there for me, to keep me safe and out of trouble when my curiosity got the best of me (which, admittedly, happens quite a bit). We can compensate for each other’s weaknesses, and she always seems to know exactly how to help me, like when we procured that fake ID for me. Her quick thinking and charismatic wit are the perfect counterpoint to my dry wit and logic. However, despite all of these pluses, she has received an edict from our mother stating that no woman is supposed to come near me without Kaela being present (apparently). I know I have done the same for Kaela, but that is a brother protecting his sister’s honor. Plus, I do not think I have been as zealous about it…okay, maybe I have. Perhaps if I relax a little bit on Kaela, she will allow me to get closer to Adruvia.

Anyway, Luc had arranged for us to meet with the chancellor and upon showing Luc’s very official looking letter of introduction we were allowed into the restricted sections of library. I was dazzled as it was more than I could have hoped for. I admit that my own desires for knowledge had subsumed whatever altruistic motives I may have had at the moment. I looked through the tomes of ancient lore and found several spells and rituals that would complement my assets nicely, and allow me to track down those foul creatures as well as protect my allies. We all left the library and returned to the D’Urban manor.

I was in high spirits, but my ebullient mood was short lived as when we arrived at the house, we found the house in chaos. Luc went into the kitchen and asked to be apprised of the situation. A few moments later, servants were running scared out of there and shortly afterwards Luc emerged in full armour, brandishing his swords. I gleaned from the fleeing servants that the twins had sneaked out, and that many were afraid for their lives. Who could blame them? Luc needed to be calmed down, and while he was regaining his senses, I was able to use my little bag of tricks (a book really) to track the twins down to the same inn that Kaela and I stayed in the other night. We went as quickly as we could to the inn, but found that we were too late. They were most likely already at the party. We gave chase and arrived at the little soiree, much to the chagrin of the other guests. After enduring many a snide comment during our search from the various highborn guests, we eventually located the twins and managed to get them out of that building as soon as we could. We almost got back to the manor, and naively, I thought we had made it without incident, but then we were ambushed by four creatures. What ensued was a very hard battle.

Had we not had our hands tied by the two twins we had to protect we would have dispatched the monsters with greater ease, but it was not meant to be easy I suppose. The creatures seemed to be ignoring us, for the most part, and made attack after attack on the twins. One creature grabbed me, but thankfully I was able to teleport to the top of a building. Sadly, the two girls were not so lucky as those blasted toads with their long tongues, managed to not only grab, but also swallow them whole. From my new vantage point I was able to use my magic to pin them down for a time with a wall of fire while my sister Kaela all but single handedly held two other toads off. Adruvia used her powers to assist Kaela with the front two while Luc and Emthri were harrying those in the rear. Emthri’s mind magic is facinating to watch. He was able to attack the enemies and give us openings for attacks at the same time, but anyway…We showed our prowess as a fighting group once again as we were able to keep those monsters on the defensive and from escaping…or so I thought. Sadly, as we thought we had the upper hand, the two creatures who had the girls disappeared, and one of those blasted things escaped our net with one of the twins in its gullet. It made for the open end of the street while its companion tried to make its own escape across the roofs. The creature could go far before it became pinned by my ball of lightning. I screamed for my companions to chase the other one I used my magic to contain the one before me. The creature was pinned by my lightning, which Luc took full advantage of when he scrambled up the building and slahed the creature open with his swords (a very impressive display…for a non-magic user). We had rescued one twin, but as I was relishing our success I saw my sister bloodied and about to be felled by one of those things. That brought me out of my reverie, and thankfully, I was able to use my lighting to give Kaela some breathing room while Adruvia used her skills to halt the creature…permanently. We put an end to all but one of those things, who got away. After the battle we got the twins safely back to the manor, and awaited our next greatest trial…our confrontation with Miria.

These past two nights have been hard. We almost lost the twins…and to make matters worse…I do not think that anyone will let me go to a library again. I suppose I should end my ramblings now. One last thought…Miria, if you ever read this, know that I will ever respect and love you as my aunt and friend, but I beg of you not to threaten Luc as his devotion to you is unparalleled (and it would be foolish to lose such an ally). Kaela also does not deserve your venom as she did as she has always done…look after her foolish yet brilliant big brother.

Kalleron finally puts his quill down and relaxes on the coach. He lets his thoughts wander before slipping into the waking dreams of his meditations.

Kalleron's Memories part 2
Letter to Miria

Kalleron takes a spare piece of parchment from his notes, and while making it seem as though he is just taking notes on something esoteric, he writes something a little different

Dear Lady Miria D’Urban,

I wished to convey to you in this letter what I failed to when you questioned Luc, Kaela, and myself. First, I was wrong to raise my voice at you in anger. I was frustrated at my own hubris, and I vented my anger at myself towards the person that I had wronged…to a woman who is much family to me as my own sister. I was speaking to a woman who had almost lost her own children, of which I was in part responsible. Second, it was my idea to go to the library, and thus the blame for that blunder lies with me, as much as Luc might argue to the contrary. I am perhaps too proud of my own skills, and it was hubris to think that by simply researching the enemy that attacked your family that I alone could prevent any further attacks. I thought that by increasing my repertoire of magic that nothing could escape me. Please forgive me my Lady Miria. I freely admit that my method was wrong, and though I tried to protect those close to me, I merely brought them into harm’s way. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to cause you grief, give you any reason to doubt me, or bring dishonour to upon my parents’ names. I fear that I have done all three of those things. I beg of you to show leniency on Luc, Kaela, and Emthri. Luc is perhaps too honourable for his own good as he seeks to claim blame for all of this on himself when some rightfully belongs on me, and Kaela was merely looking after me. Again, I am so sorry, and I ask not for less punishment, but rather a chance to redeem myself and to be forgiven in your eyes.

Your most faithful nephew (if not by blood then by bond),
Kalleron son of Shira and Sucaeva

Kalleron folds the piece of paper and seals it using the remains of a red candle in the hall and a bit of prestidigitation. He seals it with the Elvish rune meaning “penance” and addresses the letter to Miria. When the servants brought the dinner, Kalleron went to the door and made sure to hold it for them as they made their way out, gave the piece of paper to one of them, and then left instructions to deliver it to Miria when she was ready to receive such things

Adventure Journal of Luc Urban, 2nd entry
...they're definitely going to kill me.

My sisters are lucky to be alive, and it’s all my fault.

The past few days have been trying. After the attack on Dame Aira I’ve been trying to be on the lookout, but I’ve failed and in a big way. I think I can safely say that today was the most terrifying day of my life, and I have no desire to ever go through something like this again.

It began with the library. After checking with the guard about the state of security for the Highborn at the soiree, Kalleron wished to go to the library. As he isn’t a student there, he had to weasel his way into the building with a fake ID and a devil’s luck. But while Kaela and Emthri had ways to sneak in after him, I was left to go to the Administrators building to get permission to enter.

There was a girl already begging entry when I arrived, and between the two of us we managed to get permission for an audience with the Chancellor. But first we had to go get a signature from the head of one of the Houses. And I say we because the girl followed me. Her name is Adruvia, and she’s a druid. I’m still not sure what to think about her, although Emthri first told me to “get her” and then told me not to. And Kaela took an instant dislike to the lady, although I think that has more to do with her over-protectiveness towards Kalleron than anything else. But she was knowledgeable, and she was there to help with the twins, and she’s very pretty.

I finally managed to get the signature of Dame Meya, my great aunt, and we returned to the library only to meet Kalleron and the others on their way back. After a bit of squabbling I received permission from the Chancellor, we all returned to the library, and Kalleron read some books. Only by then it was almost time for the soiree, and as we had decided it would be best for us to go to keep the other Highborn safe, I urged us to return to the mansion so we could prepare ourselves.

We returned to a nearly deserted mansion, and my heart sank frozen in my chest as I went to search out the servants. I found them in a panic in the kitchen, and when questioned they finally stammered out that they had let my sisters leave.

Honestly, I can’t easily remember what happened next. I remember screams and that I donned my armor and unsheathed my swords in the house (another thing my mothers will be angry about), and I remember Emthri keeping me away from a servant and Kalleron holding my arms. I vaguely remember the sound of a scream and Kaela saying the butler had fallen to his death. From the few servants that remained I learned that my sisters had left the house barely an hour before. I also learned that the servants knew and had said and done nothing when that man brought his women to this house and into my mothers’ bedroom.

I think I made it very clear that I did not want to see any of them when I returned to the mansion.

We found two seamstresses sleeping on my sisters’ beds, with some foul wine in a pitcher on the small bedside table. Kalleron used a hairbrush to find them with a spell, and we traced them to the inn my friends had stayed at the night of the first attack. We lost the trail there, though, and so we went to the soiree to find them.

I have never enjoyed soirees. I don’t see the fun or the point to them. Everyone stands around in clothes that are cumbersome and uncomfortable and just talk badly about their neighbors and sister Houses. I have never heard anything good at these parties and last night was no different. Vengeful gossip and vile words followed us everywhere as we searched desperately for the twins, who gave us something of a chase through the back rooms of the theatre. When we finally did reach them they complained endlessly of how I was ruining their night, and I suppose there was some truth to their words as I did storm into the soiree in full armor. Even our cousins gave me looks, although I did my best to hide my embarrassment behind my anger. Dame D’Auber most certainly let me know of her discontent.

How I wish now that I hadn’t forced them to leave as soon as we did, or that I had been able to make them leave as soon as I arrived. I don’t even want to recount this next part, but my Lady Mother always said that a journal should hold everything, even the parts we don’t want to remember.

We were travelling back along the well-lit roads to the Old Town, Amirah and S’Jet rambling away as usual with their thinly-veiled barbs and petty concerns. Although I feel guilty thinking badly of them even in the smallest way after what happened. Thank the gods we were all alert, even Adruvia, who had no reason to be. Four great beasts emerged from the shadows and the roofs of the houses, two looking like the monsters we fought previously. We fought bravely, and my sisters also did their best to defend themselves from the attack. But despite our best efforts they were still wounded, the evil beasts breaking through our formation easily enough. They almost ignored us in their intent to reach my sisters.

Emthri showed his skills again and again, granting us openings and easy movements across the battle site, while Kalleron kept the enemies pinned with his wall of flames and his ball of lightning. Kaela couldn’t use her full abilities as she was cut off from the rest of us, and sacrificed any openings in lieu of defending S’Jet. I must thank her, as those actions led to her nearly falling.

But the worst was yet to come. Amirah and S’Jet both took heavy wounds, and before we could heal them the beasts swallowed them whole. My heart broke as they were pulled into gaping mouths, their screams violently cut off. I thought for sure they were dead, that I’d lost them, and I nearly gave into despair before I let my anger and rage guide me through the next part of the battle. And just when I thought we had the monsters cornered, when I felt a slight bit of hope that perhaps my sisters could be saved, they vanished! Emthri tells me the beasts used the shadows in their bid to escape.

We barely saved them. I write this as I watch them sleep, their chests barely moving in the candlelight. The monsters reappeared a ways away, intent on running. Emthri managed to get Kaela close to the farthest monster, and it’s thanks to her it didn’t escape with Amirah. The other remained on the roofs on the other side of the street, unable to run as I had hobbled it earlier and Kalleron brought his ball of lightning to bear and shocked it. One remained in the street for Emthri and Adruvia to deal with as I shed my armor and scaled the wall of the nearest building. The monster didn’t survive long, and I slashed its stomach, spilling innards as well as S’Jet.

She was so very pale when I pulled her free of the body. Her chest barely moved, as it does now, and she felt cold in my arms. I should have ensured her safety, I should have brought her from the roof or taken her over to Kalleron, but all I could think of was Amirah still trapped within the other as it fled. I lay my sister down and leapt from the roof, screaming in rage and still without my armor. I had no reason to charge, though, as Adruvia’s foe ran and she managed to fell the creature carrying Amirah.

I wish they would have attacked me. I wish they’d seen me as the threat and done everything in their power to take me down. That way my sisters could have escaped with the others, they could have saved themselves from the pain I couldn’t protect them from. What kind of protector leaves a battle unscathed while his wards lay half-dead at his feet? I’m their brother! Our mothers trusted me to keep them safe and I nearly killed them! I can’t even think to ask forgiveness for something like this.

I don’t plan on asking forgiveness. I will take full responsibility. When my Lady Mother arrives tomorrow, I will gather all my courage and accept whatever punishment she metes out. There is no one here to blame but me.

Kalleron's Memories
Thoughts of family, Lencia, and magic

My father used to tell me that the best way to achieve peace of mind is to either talk out your problems or at least write them down so that a measure of clarity can be achieved. I am not sure if I agree with him on the clarity, but it certainly helps put one’s mind at ease. I suppose I should recount, briefly, recent events, which have proven both heroing and rather amusing.

During the past year I have had the privilege of traveling not only with my twin sister Kaela (whom I have not seen in so long due to my arcane training), but also a childhood friend of ours, Luc, adopted son of Lady Miria D’Urban (if I don’t get in the habit of using her title I fear that Luc will attempt to cleave me in two) and Syral, whom Kaela and I have styled as “auntie.” Also, during our travels we have run across a rather strange individual named Emthri. He is a half-elf who uses an odd kind of magic termed “psionics.” I must admit that I don’t know much about it, but it is fascinating and I look forward to studying its effects on the battlefield and elsewhere. So far, I have surmised that his powers are partially channeled through his emotions as well as the emotions of those around him. He has also come to be the vessel of a being called Tex, whom mine and Kaela’s parents have met previously. Mother didn’t really speak about Tex as much as she hissed and fumed incoherently while my father looked back on her in a kind of bemused detachment (which didn’t please mother too much). We have given ourselves the name “The Blades of the Dreaded Dawn,” which Emthri is trying to make into a household name. I like the name, but I think I agree with my father in that fame and adoration can prove to be a hindrance as much as it can be a help. Anyway, we have had a few adventures of our own and have been able to test our mettle in combat, and prove that we are the true heirs to our parents’ names. Sadly, however, our adventuring days have been pushed aside as we have family business to attend to…in Lencia. I know Kaela had fun there when we were little (and I did too, but were it not for my delightful twin, I would have been miserable).

Lencia is a beautiful country with a rich history, and remarkably diverse population. However, it is also a land of 1,000 restrictions, a deluge of bureaucracy, and political assassinations. They don’t let anyone who isn’t a highborn (what validity that term really has is debatable with some people) carry a weapon, which I guess is designed to reduce fights and public duels, but it only exacerbates the divide between the working and upper classes. Also, this policy seems to go against a rather prominent human adage, “call no man free who is not armed.” I hope I remembered that correctly. Even my memory is not perfect. Anyway, I much prefer the company of my parents’ families where things are much simpler, but I digress. The upside of being back is that perchance I can worm my way into the local wizards’ academy and procure a few new tricks. I do so love a good read, especially if the product of my reading can result in my having additional fun with those around me. I had a rather amusing time enchanting a door with magic mouth to scream when Luc’s sisters tried to leave. Not five minutes after I cast the spell was it set off, shocking the staff and the twins, which was hilarious. I think mother would have been proud. Sadly, I fear only Kaela and Emthri understand my humor, as Luc takes life a little too seriously.

Case in point, when we went to Miria and Syral’s country house, Emthri caused quite a sensation to say the least. The spirit of Tex, acting through Emthri, was not well received by auntie Syral and even less so by Luc. Emthri kept reaching for Syral and almost “copped a feel” (I believe I got the expression correct), and Luc was about ready to cut him in half. I will be the first one to protect my mother’s or my sister’s honour, but not so far as to brutally injure a valued ally…I would revenge myself on the perpetrator later in a much more deliciously ingenious way, but that is neither here nor there. Perhaps it is a consequence of being brought up in a place like Lencia. However, Kaela and I were born and spent our formative years there, and I think we are rather amicable and jovial people. Oh well. Perhaps the two of us and give Luc a few lessons in how to have fun. He could certainly use them considering the kind of family problems he has to deal with. Although, I can’t really say “he” anymore as while we were out investigating, we ran across a relation of his, and in the process of trying to ascertain who she was and what she was doing with a member of a rival family, monsters sprang from the shadows, literally, and almost killed the poor woman. It was up to me to delay the creature while Kaela and Luc (we lost Emthri back at a bar and didn’t have time to retrieve him), got past the other highborn twit. I distracted the monsters with illusory treasures, and blinded them bursts of radiant energy while Luc and Kaela deftly hacked the creatures to pieces. Luc is becoming a true master of the sword, and it is always a pleasure to fight by my sister’s side as I feel our styles complement each other rather well. We dispatched the creatures, relatively quickly, but not without losing the D’Ulrich (highborn twit), who perished because, in his eyes, Luc was a greater enemy than an 8’ tall shadow toad. Sometimes I just don’t understand some human’s logic.

After the battle, Kaela and I were forced to clamor up to the rooftops because if we were caught in the city with weapons, we would be locked up, even after saving a highborn’s life. I don’t suppose I should complain. I am still at liberty and what ensued after the battle was a great deal of fun actually. Kaela and I had to pursue Luc, the highborn and their entourage, while trying to remain unseen. It reminded me of the games that my mother taught us when we were little. We leaped across the rooftops, snuck around corners, distracted guards, and exercised our stealthy talents to their fullest. Sadly, we were only able to follow Luc to the merchant’s district, and had to stop there as it would have been impossible to sneak into Old Town at high alert. So, we had to find a comfortable inn for the evening. I am sure we will run into Luc again this morning. I wonder if today will be just as interesting as last night. One question still burns in my mind…when will get access to the library at Miria’s house? there must be a powerful ritual or spell down there that I could use.

Kalleron Shira Sucaevasson

2nd Day of Evenstar

Interlude 3
Seven Against Lencia.

The carriage thundered in the night towards Lencia, closely followed by six armored riders carrying lances with the flag of the wolf. Inside Lord Drasul D´Ulrich stared vacantly at the curtains his mind away, “Even that bloody minded D´Urban will see the need for additional taxes to increase the number of soldiers” D´Ulrich mused “When this spat of attacks fails, our enemy will have to show itself and then we will crush it.” He smashed his fist against the seat rest waking the sleeping girl in font of him.

“What happened Father? Something is bothering you?”

“I am sorry for waking you up, my dear I was thinking about the Council meeting.”

Evadne D´Ulrich masked face turned to her father “That D´Urban woman again?, please Father forget her. Remember what Mother said, she will haunt your mind as long as you allowed her to.”

Lord D´Ulrich started an angry retort to his daughter but never had the chance. Pain hit him and Evadne cried in fear as the carriage overturned. Outside the horses whinnied and panicked voices screamed orders. A huge mass impacted on top of the tipped over carriage. With the lantern out, Drasul D´Ulrich tried to unsheathe his sword but in the chaos could not locate it. He could hear Evadne calling him in the dark.

“Father! What´s happening? Are we under attack?”

Suddenly the door was torn, a large figure blocked the view and long arms ending in claws entered, grabbing the Highborn female.

“Help me Father…!” she implored as she was dragged outside.

Ignoring the pain in his ribs, Lord D´Ulrich managed to extricate himself from the wreck. Once out he tried to locate his daughter but the only thing he saw were large shadows sinking in the road. Left behind were the bodies of half his men and their horses, his precious Evadne nowhere to be seen.

Lord Drasul D´Ulrich stared to the moon for a second and started howling in a rage.

Adventure Journal of Luc Urban

I haven’t kept up with this journal the past few months. Talking with my mothers helped remind me about it, so here I am. Although I am about a day late and not in very good condition. But I suppose I should start at the beginning.

A lot has happened since I last wrote. Strange enough I’m actually happy to be back in Lencia. I never liked this city, but when it came into view I couldn’t help feeling homesick. Even the Fisherman’s Quarters weren’t that bad, and Emthri’s antics with the townsfolk didn’t get me down.

And then I found out about that. man. I cannot like him. He’s nothing but a cheating bastard who doesn’t deserve to be around my Lady Mother, and even worse he caused her to get injured. When I heard what he’d done I was eager to return to the Manor, but Kaela and Kalleron had business with the merchants. After their detour we sped from the city on magical horses and arrived at the Manor.

Apparently that man’s exploits were worse than I’d expected. My Lady Mother found him with a D’Ulrich in her bed in the Mansion. And after she’d kicked him from the house, my sisters sided with him and she banished them to the city. And then she went to take on a dragon alone and came back with a broken leg even the healers can’t fix. And I’m sure she’ll force them to let her come into the city tomorrow to help fight these creatures.

Wait. I’m jumping ahead.

My Lady Mother wasn’t too happy to see us, though. And Emthri was acting strangely. …Stranger, anyway. But Mother arrived a little after. I think the person inside Emthri is connected to my mothers somehow. I nearly broke his hand when I saw him reach for Mother’s hair with that look he has.

But it was nice to be home, even with Emthri acting like that. And there were no really huge mishaps other than Kalleron trying to break into the library. He finally backed off on that idea and I was able to sit and talk with my mothers long into the night.

We received some not-so-good news in the morning, though. My Lady Mother sent us back to the city to keep an eye on Amirah and S’Jet. They’re as spoiled and stubborn as ever, but I won’t give into them this time. I won’t. And even if I wanted to, it’s too dangerous. Mother said everything was peaceful in Lencia but they’re scarily misinformed at the Manor. …I need to look into that. But there have been strange sightings in the city of shadow creatures…sniffing…people and causing unrest. My friends and I went to investigate and stumbled upon my cousin, Dame Aira, leaving a roudy, classless pub with Ivan D’Ulrich. When confronted, Dame Aira ran and I gave chase—getting stabbed in the side for my efforts—and that was when the attack happened.

Kalleron says they were shadowfell beasts, and Dame Jacqueline agrees. A large, frog-like creature had surrounded Dame Aira, and we barely reached her in time. That damned D’Ulrich decided shadow beasts were less of a threat than me, and spent the battle trying to kill me, only to be impaled by one of the beasts. Two more had arrived soon after we did, but Kalleron’s magic helped turn the tide and get us out alive.

…Although now that I write, I realize we lost Emthri somewhere along the way. I think he was still outside the pub where I found Dame Aira and her lover. I will have to apologize to him in the morning. I was in such a rush to follow them that I didn’t stop to gather anyone—Kaela was with me at the time and she summoned her brother.

The battle didn’t last long, but I was bloodied. The twins weren’t happy when I reported to them as soon as I arrived back here, but I think they were a little worried about me. Maybe they haven’t completely changed from the sisters I grew up with.

I keep losing track of my thoughts. I should rest, but I have to finish this.

We saved Dame Aira, although she was heavily wounded by a lucky strike from one of the monsters. Kalleron and Kaela ran off to hide when we heard the guard coming, and I was questioned heavily until they finally believed I was who I said I was. Then I escorted my cousin to the guard tower in the Old Town and was forced to leave my friends behind. I have to search for them in the morning. I hope they’re alright.

Dame Jacqlene and a handful of other cousins arrived to take Dame Aira back home, and I was questioned again. She said I was part of the family, though. I don’t think she’s ever told me that before. When she was satisfied with my answers she sent me back here to rest and check on Amirah and S’Jet while a messenger was sent to the Manor, and that was barely an hour ago.

…Lady Mother is in no condition to handle this situation, but I know Mother won’t stop her. In fact…they’d enjoy the challenge. I just hope they let us help.
Notjean luc

Interlude 2
The threat grows.

The chamber with the odd magical contraption of metal and gems is no longer dark. The heptagram carved on the stone floor glows with a pulsating light, under the ruby gravestones figures move in pain, an eladrin, a blue dragon, a werewolf trapped between forms…

The hooded figure enters the chamber again, followed by the golems. This time an elf Highborn is being carried, barely breathing it´s obvious that she has been tortured almost to death. Emaciated hands gesture in shadows and spiked chains descend from the eldritch machine. Acknowledging an unspoken command the golems rip the remains of her clothing and pierce her flesh with the chains ignoring her bloodcurdling screams, then turning the crank they rise the whimpering Highborn and rotate the machine until her blood drops on a ruby gravestone covering a unicorn.

Magic power stirs, gems glow. The rasping voice speaks. “Bring me more.” A coil of pink hair falls to the ground from its hands.

In the dark more shadows move.

The hunt continues.


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