Blades at Dawn

The Final Step
earn your happy ending

Luc slammed the door behind them and jammed the lock with a smash of his sword. He let his breath out in a rush and gasped in the fresh air as Adder did the same. Hopefully the remorhaz couldn’t follow outside its tunnels, and with any luck the gas would keep it away.

Retracing their steps through the temple was easy enough without an insane monk on their heels, and they emerged with the sun still shining. Sir Nethri remained frozen in stone, and they hadn’t even found the Hammer to make it up to him.

“What now? We can’t carry him back, but we can’t just leave him here.”

“Go back to the camp,” Adder offered, and Luc blanched. He turned to find a shifter standing behind him.

Adder led the way back, Luc following a few steps behind. His mother was going to kill him, he knew it. At the very least, there would be hell to pay. All his hopes had rested on this journey, and he’d gotten one companion cursed and fled the temple before finding what they needed.

They came upon the camp faster than he expected, but the shout of anger he braced himself for didn’t come. Peeking around Adder he realized someone was missing as his sisters and the maid stopped and stared at them. “Where’s Mother?” he asked as he moved away from the changeling.

“Oh, Luc you´re so lucky she is not here. She’s so mad at you,” Amirah said, and S’Jet added “There’s no way you’ll get out of this.”

“Yes, but where did she go? When?”

Amirah pointed at the Spire. “She left about an hour ago to go there looking for you and the others.”

“She what?!” Not that a remorhaz could stop his mother, but the thought of her alone in there chilled Luc’s blood. But without Nethri, they couldn’t go back in there to help her. “…Can any of you remove curses?” he asked, the thought coming to him even as he spoke. The girls exchanged glances.

“Yes, by why should we help you?”

Luc stared in shock. “What? Why wouldn’t you?”

“We’re tired of being left behind,” S’Jet said as Amirah nodded. “Take us on an adventure with you and then we will help.”

“I’m not taking you anywhere dangerous. But I need you to heal Sir Nethri. Please.”

“Then, no.”

He could have screamed at them. They’d nearly died not two days earlier, and they wanted him to take them on an adventure? When he was already in enough trouble with their mother?! “Please heal Sir Nethri,” he said again, almost pleading.

They looked at each other again, then back to Luc and Adder. Amirah spoke this time. “Take us with you afterwards. Let us follow you so we can get treasure, too.”

“Yes, of course,” he agreed, perhaps a bit too quickly, but they didn’t notice. They giggled amongst each other and grabbed their components and books, and Luc led them back towards the Spire with Adder, all the while keeping an eye out for a flash of brown fur or black leather.

He stood guard as the twins went through their ritual and Adder sat on the steps, gazing out at nothing. Soon enough the feel of magic in the air subsided, and Luc turned to watch as the stone slowly melted away from Nethri. When the grey was completely gone the dwarf fell with a heavy thud, and Luc quickly knelt by his side to check on him.

“Sir Nethri, are you alright?”

“Aye,” he ground out struggling for breath. “What happened?” Luc explained as they helped Nethri to his feet and back to the camp, his sisters pouting the entire way.

Syral found them sitting around the fire a few hours later. Luc jumped to his feet as his mother entered the camp, a bulging pack over her shoulder and blood spattered over her armor. She stopped him with a venomous glare and everyone else remained silent as she set the pack down and walked over to her son.

“You. Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” She didn’t wait for an answer, her anger palpable in the evening air. “You purposely disobeyed me. I told you not to leave my sight, and within an hour I find you gone!?”

“We had to find the Hammer,” Luc said, and instantly regretted it as her eyes flashed. One of the girls squeaked in fear.

“We? We?! Even after all this, you keep— I found a tribe of Ice Barbarians in there, feasting on what was left of a group of adventures. That could have been you, you foolish, stupid child!” She picked up the pack and threw it at Nethri without taking her eyes off her son. The bag crashed against the dwarf’s shield with a heavy thud. “Sir Nethri. What do you make of that?”

Nethri quickly opened the pack and took out various magic items and weapons, then settled upon a book and a hammer. Flipping the pages open, he scanned it for a few minutes before looking back at Syral. “This is the Hammer of Gond, Dame.”

“Good. Then we’ll finally put an end to this. Everyone, get some—“

“But where’s the sword?” Luc asked, and S’Jet gasped. Syral narrowed her eyes. “Mother, please, where is the sword?”

“I’m not going to give it to you,” she said, and turned her back on him. Luc stepped towards her, his footsteps echoing in the sudden stillness. “I said I won’t, Luc, now stop. Your part is finished here.”

“No.” He stood defiant. Syral growled low in her throat but he shook his head. “No, I won’t let you.”

“And I won’t let you! You have no choice,” she snapped. “The matter is closed.” She turned to the others. “We’ll be heading back in the morning. I suggest you get some sleep. You,” she said, eyes locked with Luc’s, “can keep watch all night while I think of what to do with you.”


They arrived in Lencia two days later. Syral brought them to the main courtyard of the mansion, and Luc stood back with his sisters as she addressed the others.

“Sir Nethri, do you have a place we can use the Hammer at? Will your House join in with this?”

“Aye, Dame, we do. Give me a few hours to explain to my House, and we’ll have everything prepared.” He bowed. “By your leave Dame.”

She nodded and he trundled off, the Hammer still in his hands. Syral turned to Adder next, and her expression softened. “You’ve been helpful, and I thank you for that, Oaks. But you’re free to do whatever you wish now; this is House business and I won’t keep you here.”

Adder smiled and nodded. He’d explained his reasoning for deceiving Syral, but Luc thought he’d at least tell her the truth at the very end. But instead he just walked away, escorted to the main doors by a servant.

“Come with me,” she told her children and entered the mansion. Once on the second floor she spoke softly to the twins, and they quickly returned to their rooms. Luc stood back feeling awkward, but she gestured for him to follow as his sisters closed their door.

She led him to her room, far back in the Lady’s suite. Drapes covered the windows, leaving the place in shadow. Clothes littered the floor, and weapons sat unsheathed as she’d been cleaning or sharpening them, but the bed looked untouched, and he wondered just how little sleep she’d actually gotten.

Syral led him to a chest near her bed, and quickly shoved some clothes off it. He stood back as she popped the lock and drew out two old, worn gloves. They looked worthless, but he knew better than to question her in the mood she was in. With care she slipped them over her hands, then clasped them together and drew them apart. The air between her palms shimmered and as her hands came to a stop, Raven’s Tooth hovered between them.

He held his hands out, and Syral raised an eyebrow. “We already went over this. I won’t give it to you.”

“But… You have to,” he blurted out, and her golden eyes narrowed. “Somebody needs to go inside it, don’t they? I’m ready.”

Syral held the sword tighter. “I will not send my only son to be sacrificed!”

“Then who’ll do it?” He shook his head. “I can’t let you!”

“You will do as I tell you to do, for once!” Her anger broke slightly as she couldn’t keep her fear at bay. “If something goes wrong—“

“That’s why it has to be me,” he said, his voice soft but adamant. “You would orphan us. They need you, they need your help. I—“

“I’m nothing here without her, and you three have a life ahead of you.” she interrupted, and Luc shook his head in denial. “I already watched her fall, I will not watch my son die. A parent should never outlive their child.” She reached up with a gloved hand to touch his cheek. “Please. Don’t fight me on this, Luc.”

They stood still for a long time. Luc’s hands twitched as he looked at the sword, but Syral’s grip was tight, and in a fight he knew she would always win. “…Alright. But I’m coming.”

She nodded and dropped her hand. “I’m trusting you to break the sword, Luc. We’ll do this together.”

I won’t let her die. “I know.”


The Forge area was larger than Luc expected, and the amassing dwarves more witnesses than he’d like. They stood in silence until the large doors opened again and Nethri entered in his robes, the Hammer in his hand. The dwarf stopped behind the central anvil and gave Raven´s Tooth a strange look, but the sword had that effect on others and Luc couldn’t blame the Runepriest; he was about to help destroy something he’d been actively searching for.

The gallery of dwarves hushed as Nethri approached Luc and Syral, each giving a slight bow to the other. “Whenever you’re ready,” Syral said, and Nethri stepped away back to the anvil as Luc hefted Raven’s Tooth in his gloved hands. It sang to him, whispered in his mind, and he did his best to block it.

Syral stood a sword’s length away, her hands held calmly at her sides. She nodded and gave him a small smile as he lifted the blade towards her chest. “It’ll be alright.”

No, it won’t be alright, he wanted to shout at her, and he adjusted his grip as his palms began to sweat. His eyes darted back and forth, from her to Nethri to the sword. I can’t kill you. he thought. I won’t kill my mother.

“I know,” he whispered back, and in one swift motion reversed his grip and drove the sword point towards his stomach. Syral screamed and lunged, faster than he’d expected, her claws latching onto his hands as she tried to wrench the sword away from him.

Dwarves in the gallery began shouting as Luc and his mother locked together, her claws digging at his skin as he tried desperately to shake her off. He twisted and lunged and used all his strength, but still she clung on, and slowly, gradually, Raven’s Tooth began to slip from his hands. “No!” he screamed and wrenched his arms back, twisting the sword in one final, desperate move.

Syral gasped and shuddered, and time suddenly stood still. Her grip loosened and Luc stared in horror as she slowly fell back, Raven’s Tooth sliding from her chest, the black blade slick with her blood. She collapsed in a heap, blood pooling beneath her but a relieved smile gracing her face.

“No! NO!! Luc fell to his knees at her side, Raven’s Tooth forgotten as he shook her to no avail. Reason rushed back as the sword began to hum in his hands, and he forced himself to his feet, slipping in his mother’s blood as he dashed towards Nethri and the Hammer.

“Smash it! Hurry!”

Nethri nodded and Luc surrendered the blade to the dwarf. Panic threatened to overwhelm him, and it was with effort that he forced himself to look away from his mother’s body and back to the anvil and the sword’s destruction.

The Hammer of Gond rose, ready to sunder Raven´s Tooth, and then descended, striking metal with a resounding clang. But the sword was intact. Nethri purposely missed his blow.

“What are you doing?!” Luc reached for the sword but Nethri pulled back, wielding the Hammer as he did his usual weapon. The fighter managed to dodge the first blow and get a hand on Raven’s Tooth, but they were matched in strength and neither would give up the prize. Nethri continued to strike him, the hammer scarily precise as he laid blow after blow on the young man. Luc eventually took out one of his short swords to slash at the Runepriest, throwing them into a battle of attrition.

The room stood aghast. No one moved to stop them. How could they? The two hacked and stabbed at each other, with Nethri landing a hit nearly every time. Luc abandoned his poisoned sword for his father’s, and finally found a way to exploit the dwarf’s weaknesses just before the other attacked. But Nethri healed himself, drawing on the powers of his runes, and the battle dragged out as Syral grew cold on the ground behind them.

“Give me the sword!” Luc shouted in desperation, stabbing as hard as he could to force the dwarf to let go. Nethri grunted and heaved, and Luc felt himself lose his grip on Raven’s Tooth. “No!” The sword snapped free of the fighter’s hand, and Nethri instantly brought it to the attack.

Rage burst through the fighter as he drew his long sword and launched into an all-out attack against the dwarf. Sparks flew as they parried and blocked each other’s attacks. Luc felt himself growing weaker with each attack and started fearing that he was going to lose, then caught a glimpse of Syral. This is all I have left… Putting everything he had into his last attack, Luc brought his sword down towards Nethri’s head, managing at the last second to turn to blade to spare his companion’s life. The flat of his sword smashed into Nethri’s head, and the dwarf fell to a heap on the ground, unconscious.

Raven’s Tooth and the Hammer clattered to the ground, and Luc lunged for the black sword. Dark mist coalesced around Nethri’s chest, expanding, and it lashed out and sent Luc flying back as it grabbed the sword.

“Serve him, serve Vecna!” the voice exalted in his head, and Luc screamed and lunged for the sword. The dark angel, still not fully formed, fell to the fighter’s attack moments before it could use Raven’s Tooth to end Nethri’s life.

Strength nearly spent, Luc hefted the blade and Hammer and staggered to the anvil, protection circles completely forgotten.

I’ll save you, I’ll save you, I’ll…

He brought the Hammer of Gond down with all his strength, and the sword snapped sending a pillar of light through the ceiling that blinded everybody. Energy coursing through his body, Luc could only feel the enormous roar of thousands of howling souls escaping the sundered sword. The soulstorm circled around him, trying to carry him away, and he started screaming trying to drown out the horrible screams of the damned.

He woke to find the Forge in shambles. Nothing remained of the anvil or Raven’s Tooth but dust, and dwarves all around were either coming to or tending to others. Nethri remained in a heap on the floor, and Luc pushed himself to his feet, intent on the dwarf, when a sound to his right drew his attention.

Syral gasped, forcing some air in her lungs, and Nethri and the dwarves were forgotten as Luc rushed to her side. He knelt beside her and cradled her head, tears streaming down his face as she slowly opened her eyes.

“Luc…? I-I saw her…” She clung to him, her voice hoarse as she fought back tears. “She was surrounded by drow—the last ones she’d killed. Trapped in amber, and I-I tried to free her… I really tried.” Luc rocked her back and forth as she talked, unable to understand her words. She’d found Miria, she’d freed her, then why did she sound so broken? “Then there was light, and… I-I said goodbye to her, Luc… She had to go with the others… She couldn’t come with me.”

“No,” he ground out, his throat and chest tight. “She’ll come back, she has to come back…!” They couldn’t have failed. They couldn’t have! Everything he’d done, everything he’d gone through for this one moment, and to have it all disappear before him? The gods couldn’t be that cruel.

Something almost invisible fluttered insistently just outside his line of sight, coming and going, and Luc gently laid his mother down as it beckoned him to follow. His steps were slow, his body numb, but the translucent small lizard creature led him to the Hammer of Gond and what was left of Raven’s Tooth. Mixed in with the dust and shards was a small, tiny piece of glowing amber.

A voice invaded Luc´s thoughts. A debt was owed. Now it is paid. She awaits.


Miria’s body lay as it had for the past month, the soft glow of the spell illuminating her features. Already the magic was fading; she had perhaps a day or two more. Syral stood back as Luc pulled back the shroud covering his Lady Mother and pressed the piece of amber to her chest.

“…I don’t understand,” he choked out when Miria remained still. His body shook and Syral wept softly behind him as he slowly drew the shroud over his mother’s features once again. “He said she was waiting. Was this all a lie, too?!” His hands clenched at his sides and something stabbed his palm. He opened his hand to stare blankly at the piece of amber, then quickly looked from Miria to Syral. She was trapped in amber. Maybe…? But if he was wrong…

With a deep breath Luc took the shard in both hands and held it above Miria’s chest, then slowly, deliberately, broke it in two. Immediatly the shroud slowly sank to the table as her body turned to dust and then was no more. Luc staggered back, trembling, and Syral let out a wail of grief.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean..” Luc rambled and stumbled back towards the door. Syral reached for him and they both staggered from the tomb. I killed her. I let her die and now I’ve killed her and—

Syral gasped suddenly and cried out, darting away on all fours towards the hill in the distance. Luc looked and his breath caught in his throat.

A figure sat at the top of Miria’s favorite hill, the sunlight reflecting a vibrant pink as it touched her hair. She turned to wave towards them and opened her arms as Syral tackled her to the ground, Luc close on her heels.

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The Hammer of Gond
Nethri's Story

The Dwarf slumped to the ground with a loud thud. The twins stepped back from the prone Runepriest, slight gasps escaping their lips. Nethri’s chest heaved as his lungs reached for air, expanding as the sensation of life reentered his body. Luc, standing nearby, shook the Dwarf’s shoulder.

“Sir Nethri? Are you alright?”

“Ay,” he replied, “what happened?” Nethri began to stand, wobbling slightly. “Ugh, how long was I –”

Luc interrupted the thought, “I’ll explain later. We got the Monk, but he didn’t have much for us.” He paused for a moment, closing his eyes and calming his heart. “Unfortunately we have angrier things to worry about. My mother – she wasn’t at the camp.”

“Huh, what,” then a thought struck Nethri. “What’re you doin’ with me then, boy? Best get to camp and wait. Don’t need to fuel that fire.” With that the Dwarf took off through the valley, determined to make it back to the campsite before Syral. Striding into the camp, the Dwarf made a quick inspection, took a quick stretch, and then plopped down on the ground.

Luc ran up to Nethri, eyes wide, “What are you doing?!”

Cooly, the Dwarf responded, “Not pissin’ her off more than she is.”

Adasunu, disguised again as Oaks, apparently agreed and took a seat next to him.


Nethri’s Journal

Syral found it! She brought the Hammer of Gond back from some Ice Barbarians or some such. We were lucky enough to have her searching for Luc, well, except for him, as he is grounded for life. And she is the one volunteering to enter Raven’s Tooth, leaving Luc to watch over the sword. Not only this, but they are willing to conduct the ceremony within House D’Orinda! The others will be in attendance, so it may be tricky, but I am confident. The forgemaster has agreed to supply an anvil for the ceremony, and the mages have crafted some circles of warding, so it seems everything will be in place.

It will be a glorious day for knowledge.


Nethri strode in, his house robes flowing behind him. The Hammer of Gond rest on an anvil placard in his arms, the formalities of the Dwarven house in full form, as his escort showed him to the center of the room. Standing before him was Syral and Luc within one circle of warding, the forgemaster’s anvil in the other. Pain raced through Nethri’s chest, the onyx gem radiating a eerie black glow beneath the armor he wore. “So close…”

Nethri stood, lost in the moment, not heeding the obvious conflict taking place between Syral and Luc. He watched only the sword as it plunged into Syral’s breast, siphoning her life. He focused on the blade as Luc sobbed, clenching the hilt, his knuckles white. He gazed at the hammer in his possession as Luc slowly walked to the anvil, ignoring the scores of eyes upon him. As he gently released Luc’s fingers from the sword, he took his own grip and held the blade on the anvil. Raising the Hammer of Gond high over his head, one last thought passed through the Runepriest’s head, “What will happen once this strikes?”

As Nethri’s arm swung down, the hammer eyeing its mark, a voice echoed through the vastness of Nethri’s mind. “Nothing, because you can not destroy it. Now, bring it to me!”

A loud clang rang out in the room as the hammer struck. Most of the Dwarves shielded their eyes, not knowing what to expect. Luc, completely focused on the blade, saw what the others did not – the hammer cleanly strike the anvil.

“No! What are you –,” bellowed Luc, but Nethri had already started to move. Panic erupted within D’Urban and he leapt for the blade, startling the Dwarf. “Nethri, why?”

The Dwarf didn’t respond, instead he brought the hammer in his hand down on the Fighter. Luc winced and caught a glimpse of Nethri’s eyes. The Dwarf’s pupils were solid black, small wisps swirling within. His face was stoic, unwavering, unflinching, as he stared blankly ahead. Yanking at the sword, futilely trying to break Luc’s grip, he struck D’Urban’s armor.

“Rust.”

Luc’s armor started to flake and crumbled under the power of the runes. Confused, he tried to wrench the sword from Nethri’s grip, but the Dwarf’s hand seemed to become one with the blade, an unnatural power wrapping around the hilt of the weapon. Reaching down with a free hand, Luc withdrew one of his swords and struck the Dwarf, hoping to break him of his trance. Cutting him across the face, Luc’s hopes shattered as the Runepriest barely flinched beneath the blow.

Nethri countered, filling the room with a blast of lightning that crackled with the Hammer of Gond. Luc recoiled from the blast, adrenaline suddenly racing through his muscles at the prospect of battle. He struck out again with his blade, cutting the Dwarf once more, but Nethri held his position.

Blows continued between the two, with Luc’s superior strikes being negated by Nethri’s healing prowess. The rest of the Dwarven House stared down on the companions, unsure of the action to take, as the two warriors wrestled over the famed Raven’s Tooth; interference could spell doom for any involved.

The ferocity with which the two fought roared within the room, turning from a battle of power to one of endurance. Nethri took advantage of Luc’s fury and wrested the blade away. His eyes widened as if suddenly understanding. Turning on Luc, the Raven’s Tooth in hand, he swung, missing wide. The Fighter pulled back a step and removed his radiant shortsword, making calculated lunges to try to retake the blade, failing miserably. Sensing the upper-hand, Nethri unleashed all of his runic powers, intent to finish off the Fighter. However, the carelessness of exerting his power had caused Nethri to experience an unprecedented amount of fatigue and his runic magics started to wane. Luc, sensing a shift in the tide of the battle, reached into the depths of his being to exert his will over the situation – he would not lose his mothers. D’Urban became relentless in his strikes, pounding the Dwarf constantly, out-damaging his failing recovery powers.

Neither of the companions knew how much time had passed when Luc landed the final blow, knocking the Dwarf to the floor, and causing him to drop the Raven’s Tooth. As Luc started to reach out to the sword though, a blood-curdling scream rocked the room. The sound was abysmal, emanating from deep within the confines of a soul. Nethri pitched on the floor, tearing away at his chest. A black light burned beneath his armor, breaking through the metal, and shot out, blasting Luc away from the weapon. Black mist swirled around the room, causing the Dwarves to drop to the floor. Black wings fluttered open and a thin, spindly, hand reached out from the mist, making a grab for the sword.

Luc recovered to his feet and lunged forward, striking the hand with his radiant blade. It pulled back, unleashing a cry of death.

“VECNA!”

Luc, whipped to his senses, quickly found the Hammer of Gond, as the black mist continued swirling around the room. It rose to a climatic height before shifting and spearing down on the blade, making another attempt to whisk it away to an unknown realm. Luc wrapped his fingers around the shaft of the hammer and brought down the head on the thick of the Raven’s Tooth’s blade, inches before the mist reached him. A sudden light erupted, knocking back the mist with a shrill hiss, and sending Luc crashing into the far wall. Nethri’s prone body slid across the floor, settling at the base of the anvil. Blinding light filled the room as the mist evaporated beneath the brilliance. Moans could be heard drifting from someone in the room, but nothing could be seen. As the light receded, some Dwarves stood to their feet while others hurried into the room. Luc stirred and picked himself up, scanning the area. In the circle of warding lay his mother, her chest slightly rising. Running to Syral, he took her head in his arms.

“Mom? Mom? No…Was I too early?” Tears started to stream down his cheek, falling lightly on the breast of his mother.

Syral’s breath remained shallow, but she managed to slowly open her eyes. “Ugh…Luc? I, I saw her…”

Luc pulled his mother closer to his chest, tears falling steadily down his face, as the heads of the House Council gathered around the body Nethri. Gearthin was the first to speak.

“What in the Abyss were you thinking, Hallowstrike?!” All that escaped Nethri’s lips was a low groan.

Jayde knelt down and laid her hands on Nethri’s chest. “He’s still alive, but I don’t know how. We need to get him to the Healing Ward.”

“Foolishness,” exclaimed Harrist. “He’s probably brought with him the wrath of House D’Urban! They’ll instate a vendetta! Better for us all if he dies.” Turning to Gearthin, Harrist shoved a finger in the old Dwarf’s chest. “I warned you! This boy was trouble. My grand–nephew should have been sent in his stead!”

“This is neither the time nor the place, Hammerstrike! Keep your wits about you or leave. Your attitude will only bring chaos.”

“Bah! You’re useless! All of you!” Harrist stormed off through the stone doors, leaving the rest of the council watching Nethri.

Brimm turned to Gearthin, his face solemn. His eyes looked up through bushy grey eyebrows as he shifted his metal staff. “You are aware, Strongarm, that he can no longer stay. The best for all of us, no matter what House D’Urban wishes, is that we must take action. The sooner the better, too. I would recommend exile, though it pains me to see our future sent away.” The old Dwarf turned to Jayde, still kneeling by the prone Nethri.

“Ay, I agree, Brimm. But first,” and she turned to Gearthin, “can we save his life before we exile him?”

Bending down, Gearthin helped Jayde pick up Hallowstrike. Paying no heed to the weeping D’Urban, the Dwarves left to tend to their own. There would be much to do.

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Unknown
Nethri's Story

“You have failed me.”

“I am sorry. I was careless. But the others, they should be a-”

“Silence! You, who were so close, deserve not to address me now!”

The Dwarf fell to his knees, head bowed to the ground. Silence carried on for an eternity and the Dwarf began imagining his punishments for failing in his duty. Would it be banishment, torment, or exile? Worse, it could be undeath. Regardless, he was deserving of them all. The ache in his chest returned with a fury, the pain coursing through his body, boiling his blood within. But he remained steadfast and said nothing.

“Hmmm, even now you are accepting of your Fate.”

Silence. The Dwarf did not stir knowing any action taken could upset his god.

“Let us see how the others fare. You may be given an opportunity to redeem yourself and fulfill your duty.”

Silence hung again in the darkness. And it would for a stone’s eternity.

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Into the Maze
damn monks

Luc pounded up the stairs after the fleeing monk, thoughts filled with nothing but taking down their enemy. Behind he could barely hear another set of footsteps—Adasunu, or Adder, or whatever he called himself now. Sir Nethri wouldn’t be following. Not unless Luc captured the monk.

But it was hard to keep up. The man had no armor, and it almost seemed that he taunted Luc as he barely waited beyond corners, or called mockingly to the fighter as he got himself farther and farther into the temple.

“Come and get me~”

The voice came from another room, and Luc charged forward only to be hit in the shoulder with an arrow. The monk laughed from atop a balcony, and Adder sent a spell up towards the other figure. When the smoke cleared the man was gone, and Luc got a good look at the room. Rotten food lined the large table in the center, and the skeletal remains of what could only be adventurers sat in the large chairs, some with still-rotting flesh hanging off their bones. The smell was enough to make him gag, and without thinking Luc broke the shaft of the arrow and ran and jumped, barely catching the balcony and hauling himself up. Adder teleported beside him and then they both ran again after the monk’s fading laughter.

Luc lost track of the twists and turns, and his lungs burned in his chest. His armor rubbed against the stub of the arrow, but he had no time to completely remove the projectile. I’ve gotten him killed, he thought, and forced his legs to move faster. Will I prove Mother right and get myself killed as well..? The same as those adventurers—

“Wait!”

Adder’s voice echoed down the corridor, but Luc ignored him as he caught sight of the monk darting into a small, circular room. “No you don’t!” he yelled, anger surging up in him. He would end this cat and mouse chase here and now.

He dashed into the room, certain of victory, only for the heavy stone doors to slam shut behind him. The monk walked up the wall, laughing, as Luc looked for some way— any way—to reach him. A balcony jutted out halfway up the wall, and the monk casually jumped over and hauled himself up as Luc threw useless curses at him. “Will you enjoy this?” he asked, drawing his bow and aiming for the giant bell hanging from the ceiling. Luc’s heart leapt in his throat and he ran to the door, desperately trying to pry it open.

Too late. The bell tolled and the sound echoed violently through the room. The walls shook and Luc’s armor rattled as both him and the monk cried out in anguish, but by the second knoll the monk was long gone. With the door not budging, Luc charged the bell. There had to be some way to stop the sound, to keep it from ringing and stop the increasing pain racking his body. Blood dribbled from his ears and down his neck, and only when a spell barely missed him did he realize Adder stood with the door slightly ajar, beckoning him.

He dove through and they closed the door just in time. One last ring echoed through the chamber, nearly shattering the stone door, and Adder led the fighter back towards the way they’d come. Try as he might, though, Luc couldn’t understand a word the man said.

Adder took him back to the first balcony room with the rotting corpses, and by then some sound had returned to the stricken fighter. Everything was muffled, as though Luc were deep underwater or someone stuffed cloth in his ears. Dried blood caked the side of his neck and ears, but he was no longer bleeding.

“This way,” Adder said—or so Luc thought—and they entered a kitchen. The place reeked of decay and rot, but in the center of the room, on a small counter, stood a black orb. Adder, apparently overcome with curiosity, touched it. And then quickly ducked as knives and forks and other iron implements came hurtling out of a cupboard behind them. Luc took a hit in the back and grunted in pain as the knife pierced his armor near his shoulder blade. Adder came away with a small scratch on his cheek.

“Thanks a lot,” Luc muttered thickly and hurried on, making sure to give the utensil-covered orb a wide berth.

The passage leading from the kitchen was long and winding, constantly circling in on itself as they descended. The monk’s echoing taunts led them farther down until they reached a large room with floors more rotted than secure. A balcony hung along the left-hand wall, and a door stood beckoning directly across from them.

“Be careful,” Luc cautioned pointlessly, and they slowly made their way across the few secure boards they could find. Just as Luc neared the far door a piercing laugh echoed throughout the chamber, and the monk waved from the balcony before pulling some kind of lever. The entire floor, rotted and safe parts alike, collapsed to the storey below, taking Luc and Adder with it. Tired from the constant running, and with his wounds reopened, Luc fell harshly as the ground suddenly met him again. Adder groaned somewhere to his left. At least we’re alive…

A dull roar began to echo through the chamber, and Luc wondered if his ears had been damaged again. He turned to ask Adder when a huge torrent of water suddenly gushed from an opening in the wall. The waves crashed into him and threw him against the far wall hard enough to stop his breath. Something spongy blocked the brunt of the swell, though, and as the water receded Luc pushed the rotted floorboards away, now nothing more than moldy pulp.

“Show yourself!” he yelled, scanning the walls for a way to climb out of the pit they fell in. Adder gestured him over near where they fell, and Luc realized the wall was pitted just enough to allow them to climb. Sheathing his swords—thank the gods he hadn’t lost them—they began the arduous climb as the monk rained arrows down upon them.

Luc realized, halfway up the wall, that he’d be lost without the changeling. Adder teleported away as soon as he was close enough, and a scream echoed through the chamber as the warlock managed to land a hit on their target. Luc crested the wall in time to see the monk pushed back by a spell, and barely dodged one of the monk’s arrows. Swords unsheathed, he charged and tried to pin the monk in the tight corridor, but between his aching shoulders and near deafness he put up a pitiful fight. The monk harrowed him through a side corridor that sealed behind him, and Luc had no choice but to run back through a dark, winding corridor to the floor below.

Up above, Adder had somehow forced the monk out over the edge. Before Luc could begin to climb the warlock sent another spell flying, and the monk fell down to the ground, grievously wounded.

“Heal Nethri!” he demanded, and the monk gave a bloody laugh.

“No~”

“Then tell us where Master Shu is!”

His cackle of glee sent chills up Luc’s spine. “I am Master Shu~ Or a part of him. I killed the real one, you know~ Snapped his neck like this,” he giggled and made a breaking motion with his hands.

This couldn’t be happening. Had they really come all this way for nothing? The monk laughed again, spitting blood, and Luc charged him and landed the final blow, his cry of rage echoing through the room.

“For a monk he sure has a lot of loot,” Adder said as he teleported to Luc’s side, and started doing as he said before the fighter had a chance to move. The monk’s armor was salvageable, and he carried enough in gold and diamonds to resurrect Nethri should it come to it, but there was no scroll to undo the dwarf’s petrification.

“Now what?! He lured us away and for nothing!” Disgusted, Luc began to climb the wall that led back into the maze and the exit, but Adder stopped him.

“Maybe he was lying.” He nodded his head towards the far door leading into the unknown. “Maybe the real Master Shu is right through there.”

Luc hesitated, his hands on the wall. Maybe… But they should regroup; they needed Nethri. But there was no way to bring the dwarf back unless they got Syral’s help, and Luc’s blood ran cold at the thought. He wasn’t ready to face her after this latest betrayal of her trust.

“Alright. But we can’t go far.”

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Between a rock and a D'Urban
Heaven don't take Highborns

People with perks, that is how you make it in any venture. I would have thought Nethri and Luc had the perk of being royalty and that was it. I was wrong.

A few days after they flew with angels, I spotted the dwarf back in Lencia. The thought occurred often to me that this town should be avoided, but to find out that lady death herself agrees with me shook me. By the stars, not being able to die is the perk to end all perks!

Still, it is creepy, maybe the whole town made a deal with some underworld creature. It would explain why the don’t let Miria rest in peace. I don’t want my people falling into the same deals this town made – reminds me of Ashenport.

Hmmm as Nethri approaches me here at the Inn, I can’t help but notice how stiff he walks. He has a stone cold look about him. I’m sure by the time we have our next adventure he will rock.

Botdd2 5monk

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The Cold Spire
Nethri's Story

The group arrived in an open valley, a frosty chill greeting them. Mountain ranges created a fairly linear valley, limiting the sights of exploration. A river could be heard through the forests to the west, soft sounds resonating with the snowmelt of the surrounding mountains. To the north, between the mountain ridges, rose the peak of a tower, twisting like tree bark into the sky. The sun reflected off the crystalline blue surface, creating a wonderful play of colors, shrouding the tower in a rainbow aura.

Luc tried once more to talk to his mother, but she stopped him before a word was said with a look that would freeze water. The young Fighter relinquished, resigning himself to his punishment, and headed off to the river to fetch water and see if he could catch some fresh fish. Syral and her two daughters set to work on making a camp, finding wood for a fire and erecting a crude shelter. A servant the Dame brought along began foraging for food, heading into the bushes in search of berries and nuts.

Nethri turned to the new companion, Oaks, “Even though they are only going to be here a day, they make it seem like a month.” The Razorclaw nodded in agreement as the Dwarf admired the efficiency of House D’Urban. “They are indeed quite capable – the lot of them,” he thought. Suddenly remembering they were short on time to find Master Shu, Nethri began through the valley to the looming Spire before them.

Roughly three-quarters of the way a voice raised up behind them, beckoning them to wait. Turning, Nethri say the young D’Urban racing toward them, sticking to the shadows of the ridge. “Guys, wait…I’m, I’m coming.” He pulled up, short of breath, and rested his hands on his knees, heaving.

“Like hell you are! To this Abyss with you, Luc! I will not suffer your mother’s wrath for your constant insolence!” Nethri was furious at the audacity of the Fighter, and fearful of the vengeance his mother would follow with. A hand clasped his shoulder and he turned to see Oaks shaking his head. There was something familiar about the touch that the Runepriest recognized immediately. The Dwarf’s anger subsided, knowing the foolishness would only continue until Luc completed his journey or got them all killed. “He is his mother’s son…” With a begrudging sigh, he turned around and continued walking to the spire. “C’mon then, we haven’t much time.”


The three stood at the foot of the Cold Spire, the spiraling staircase before them, twisting around the center structure, eventually leading inside. At the base of the stairs was a small house, a shrine almost, where it seemed travelers paid their respects before making the ascent. Lining the base of the stairs were stone statues, four on each side, carved in the likeness of monk warriors. Luc checked the house, but found nothing and started up the stairs.

As he stepped on the bottommost step a cackling laughter erupted from the eastern ridge as an arrow grazed his arm. Spinning around, the three companions saw a middle-aged Monk, holding a longbow, dancing along the precipice of the ridge.

“Master Shu?” shouted Luc, as he ran up the stairs.

As Nethri started up the stairs to join, he heard Oaks mutter, under his breath, “You two better not get yourselves killed again…”

Turning over his shoulder a smile broke across the Dwarf’s face. “Then you better do more than flail at him with your hands, Adder.” Nethri rushed up the stairs, but the Monk had already circled from the eastern ridge to the western one, firing another arrow down on Luc. A green spell strike crashed into the body of the Monk, causing him to slip on the ice. “That’s more like it!”

The Monk recovered and took off again, loosening an arrow at Adder, cutting through his robes. Luc continued up the stairs, hoping to pin him on a ledge. As he passed by a statue, it started to turn, the stone eyes beginning to glow red. Before he knew it, Luc had been struck with a blast from the statue. Shouting down the staircase, he warned the others, “The statues are trapped, avoid them if you can!” With that, the Fighter brought his blade down on the statue, shattering it. It collapsed in a cloud of dust, but not before a final pulse of energy erupted from it. Luc managed to avoid the blast, but the diversion had cost him space. The monk had already moved back across the ridges, leaving D’Urban further from his target.

The cackling Monk fired another arrow at Adasunu as he ran along the edges. Nethri, figuring himself too slow to keep up with the fleet-footed Monk, decided to head toward a statue. “I know they’re trapped, but it’s all I can do at this point.” With that, Nethri smashed the stone statue, barely dodging the pulse of energy shot from it. The Monk let out a loud ‘Boo!’, as he continued to run between ridges. “Addy, you take care of the Monk, we’ll get the statues!”

As Adasunu continued to engage the Monk, Luc headed up to cut off one of the routes of escape. Nethri, continued to smash the stone statues, taking care to dodge the energy blasts. With two more to go, he heard the Monk scream again as it was struck by another spell from Adasunu. “Good, we’re getting closer.” Nethri brought his craghammer down on the statue, shattering it in a single blow like all the others, but, the ice was more prevalent on the upper steps and caused him to lose his balance. The error cost him positioning and he was struck by the blast from the statue. “Damnit!” Cursing, Nethri tried to move to the final statue, but found his feet stuck. “Immobilization curse, as if I wasn’t slow enough…”

The Monk let out a roar of laughter as he realized one of the warriors had been caught in the statues traps. With a mocking bow, he took off up the stairs, escaping into the Cold Spire. Luc and Adasunu ran up the stairs after him. As they got closer, Nethri could feel a strange sensation overcoming his body. Looking down, the Dwarf realized at once the curse was twofold. “No, I need to warn the others!” As he opened his mouth to yell a warning, he felt the final effects of the curse course through his body.

Luc reached Nethri first. “Sir Nethri, did you see where Shu went?” Not getting a response, Luc turned to the Dwarf to ask his question again, only to recoil in horror. “NO!” Standing next to the Fighter was the stone statue of Sir Nethri D’Orinda.

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Random Encounters?
Nethri's Journal

Strange things are afoot in Lencia. While acquiring supplies from a less than reputable locale (known for their drink), I ran into a young Razorclaw. There was difficulty in communicating with him, since he seemed to be mute, but that wasn’t the strangest of things – he seemed to know Syral! Now, what an acquaintance of the Dame was doing there, I cannot say. But it got stranger! He didn’t communicate using parchment and ink, as most mutes I have come across would. Instead he traced three letters on his hand using green arcane magic. The froth on the ale though, was he seemed to have come into possession of the weapons Luc and I had lost in Ashenport! He insisted on seeing Syral, so I took him to her and they seemed to know each other, but I am wary of this Oaks character. Too many similarities…

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Clues From the Unknown
Nethri's Story

Nethri’s head snapped back in his armchair startling him awake. The candle was extinguished, having burnt out hours before, and the gentle crackles of a few embers remained in the fireplace. As his eyes started to drift back to sleep, seeking comfort in the bliss of relaxation, a knock caused them to halt their advance.

Another knock quickly followed and forced him grumpily out of his chair. Lumbering over, he reached out to the handle as a third knock resounded in the room. Mumbling to himself, he opened it with a sharp word on the precipice of his tongue.

The sight of Meiri softened his thoughts, her bow deep as the door slowly creaked open. “Ay, Meiri, always reliable, even when I’m busy trying to forgo the day.” A kind smile slid across his face.

“I’m sorry, my Sir. If you wish me to come back la–”

“No, no, that’s quite alright.” He reached out and touched the old maid’s shoulder, reassuring her. Her voice had been pained and a tad hesitant. “Even after all these years…” Nethri straightened up, cracking his back. The chair had not been as kind to his back as he thought. “I have some errands to tend to and should have been up hours ago…”

“Apologies, my Sir, if I had known I–”

Nethri couldn’t hold back his laughter at the sudden ironic twist, which caused Meiri to cringe a bit. “You are too good to me, Meiri! Need not worry about me. Do what you need and I shall stay out of your way.” Chortling to himself, Nethri headed out of his room, his exhaustion completely forgotten.


Luc raced across the square, sweat streaming down his reddened face. A stitch had formed in his side as he ran, but he pushed through the pain, time being something he could not afford to lose. Sharply turning a corner, Luc nearly bowled over Sir Nethri in his hurry.

“Luc! Just who I was looking for.”

“Not now, I need to get to my mother’s mansion!” With that, Luc continued his way, not even apologizing to the Dwarf.

“Hmmm…Something doesn’t seem right about this.” Nethri hurried after Luc who had turned into the Stables. Reaching the structure, the Dwarf saw Luc mounting a steed. “Luc, I’ll come with you.” Turning to a stable hand, Nethri called for his pony, Jeirid, who was quickly brought out.

“This needn’t concern you Sir D’Orinda. It is a House D’Urban issue.”

“Your House became my concern the second I was assigned to watch over you. Your mother’s trust is not to be trifled with. I wouldn’t dare cross that woman.”


The two companions arrived at the mansion just before midday. A servant met them at the entrance and took the tired equines away. Luc rushed to the front doors, throwing them open, Nethri walking slowly behind. “No need to overreact. The boy is doing that enough for an army.” As the Dwarf entered, he noticed Dame Syral in the main foyer. Bowing deeply, he waited for Luc to address his mother.

“Where are they? Are they ok? Who did this?” Luc’s voice was shaking and tense anger could be felt emanating from it.

Syral strode to her son, her long, powerful legs carrying her gracefully across the floor. She was strong and feared before, but since her journey to the Myinns something had changed the Dame. With her youth regained, she appeared more vibrant, more commanding. But there was a touch of hesitancy, of self-doubt that wasn’t there before. Still, no one in any of the Houses would dare cross her if they valued her life, but Syral was not the indestructible force she was once thought of to be. With her youthful appearance restored, she now seemed…lacking.

“Sir Nethri,” Syral turned and addressed the Dwarf, “an unusually comforting sight you bring to me. I am sorry to meet you again in these circumstances, but this is a private matter. Please, make yourself at home. I wish to speak to you, but it will have to wait. My son,” her eyes fell upon Luc and Nethri could feel the motherly love and scorn raging within, “has matters to be informed of. If you’ll please excuse us.”

“Of course, Dame Syral.”

The two left the foyer through a set of grand oak wooden doors, which slammed shut behind them. Nethri stood, hesitant to move for a while until he heard Syral’s berating of Luc sounding through the walls. “I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes…ever.” With that, the Dwarf slunk away, happy to be exploring the home instead of facing Syral’s wrath.


The library Nethri found himself in was immense. Maple bookcases lined the walls, varnished and lacquered a deep, solid brown. Books, held together by bindings laced with twine, adorned the majestic shelves, full in their capacity. The scent of history hung in the air, the kind only scholars could sense, and it drew Nethri in. Stepping inside the vaulted room, hundreds upon hundreds of tomes looming before him, the Dwarf felt unburdened. Unburdened by his charge, his goals, and his ambitions; unburdened by the confines of Highborn society, his duties, and his status. He was at peace – sweet, knowledgeable peace.

Roaming through the case markers, Nethri was surprised to see the detailed accounts of the libraries catalogue. Ranging from the ‘Third Dawn’, to the ‘Settling of Lencia’ and to today’s current struggles, history seemed to be being recorded as he stood. But something made Nethri feel uneasy; for as vast as this literary compilation was, no scholars could be found.

Nethri continued to search the shelves, scouring, hoping to locate something about Master Shu or Inistrad that the Great Library in House D’Orinda had not possessed. After finishing up an aisle dedicated to the ‘Ancient Harvesting Rituals of Rancor Flesh’, Nethri tripped over a stack of worn volumes of ‘Earthen Primal Magics’, sending the books to the floor with a resounding thud.

“Shhh! You’re in a Library. You must oblige by standard Library protocol.”

Nethri nearly leapt out of his armor at the voice, hurriedly scooping up the tomes and restacking them. Delicately brushing some dust off of the last tome before placing it atop the others, Nethri glanced up. Standing before him was an older man in his mid-fifties, adorned in white robes trimmed with brown, was a clerk.

“Sorry,” Nethri blushed while uttering his bashful apology, “didn’t quite see them there.” The Dwarf waited for some kind of acknowledgement, but instead felt the calculating eyes sweeping over him. Nethri started to amend his apology to sound more remorseful, but his voice caught in his throat.

“It is fine, young Dwarf, our fault for not being more fortuitous and leaving them out.” He picked up the last book Nethri had placed, ‘Dragons – For Better or For Worse’, and, turning it over and examining it carefully, replaced it once more. “Nothing to worry about now.” Nethri breathed a sigh of relief. “So, my young Dwarf, what might I be able to help you with?”

Luckily for Nethri he found his voice. “Well, um, Sir…,” Nethri paused. He hadn’t caught the name of the scholar before him.

“Haiser”

Recollecting his thoughts, Nethri continued. “…Sir Haiser. I was wondering if you have ever heard of a Master Shu? Or perhaps the Inistrad?” The scholar peered quizzically at the Dwarf with the last sentence. “Ah, yes, that’s right. You might better know it as Raven’s Tooth. Do you happen to have anything on that? You see, I’m helping House D’Urban and am seeking more answers than I’m afraid I am privy too.”

A casual wave of his hand caused Nethri to raise an eyebrow. “I know of the name, Inistrad, though I was surprised you possessed such knowledge.” Turning around, the scholar disappeared behind another bookcase, and the Dwarf hurried after him. Finding him perusing a shelf, he stopped short. The man reached up and withdrew an average sized tome and handed it to the Dwarf.

Nethul was transcribed on the front cover and the Runepriest felt his hand quiver. “Where did they get this?”

“I think that will have all the information you are looking for, my young Dwarf.”

Nethri looked at the title, his eyes held fast by the word. Opening the book, he started to browse its contents. Turning page after page, being careful not to tear the delicate papyrus, Nethri combed through the text, picking apart words. Suddenly a name jumped out at him – Miria D’Urban. “What is she doing in this?” Starting to read, the Dwarf discovered the text went into eerily specific details about how the Lady came by the sword and her uses of it. “None of this is known by any of the Houses. And the detailed account of how the sword works is…” Nethri let out an audible gasp, nearly dropping the book.

“Who wrote this,” he demanded, turning to Haiser, but the man was gone. Peering around a few shelves, Nethri could not find him, and knew he had no time to waste. Making for the entrance, the Dwarf knew he needed to find Syral. He broke into a full sprint back to D’Urban’s quarters, slamming into the great oaken doors with a thud. Banging his fist on the door, shouting for the Dame, a slow crack opened. Inside, he could make out the shamed face of young Luc, his eyes wet with tears, his head hanging like a dog with his tail between his legs. Nethri pushed through the door, exclaiming, “Your mother, where is she?”

“I, I, I’m not sure. Why?” His voice was shallow and dejected. Nethri didn’t bother to answer; instead he thrust the book in front of the young man and slammed his finger on the page. Heavy panting returned as the Dwarf strode around the room catching his breath. Luc’s eyes started to grow wide as he read, a crease forming in his brow. “How…?”

“I don’t know! Where’s you blasted mother gone off to? She might have answers!”

The voice behind the Dwarf sent shivers down his spine and made the hair on the back of his neck prick up. “And she might be behind you.”

Nethri spun, collecting himself with a long, deep bow. “Dame, this text,” and he motioned to the book in Luc’s hands, “there are things in there that I think warrant your attention.”

Syral strode over to Luc and yanked the tome out of his hands as Nethri continued to mutter and pace around the room. After a few seconds, a hiss erupted from Syral. “Where did you get this?!”

The Dwarf spun to meet her gaze. “From your library, Dame. One of your scholars, by the name of Haiser, gave it to me. Said it would be useful.”

Luc leapt to his feet and Syral closed the distance to the Dwarf, causing him to slide a foot to widen and brace his stance. Syral was frighteningly direct with her next question. “Who?”

“Haiser, one of your scholars, Dame.” The muscles in Nethri’s legs twitched and his heart was racing. Luc looked expectantly at his mother, who returned the look and nodded. Both took off through the doors heading toward the Library. Nethri, exhaling slowly, regained his composure and walked, slowly, after them.

Arriving at the entrance, the Dwarf saw the two D’Urban’s standing beside a large portrait. Looking at the portrait, Nethri recognized the white-haired man, though he was adorned in ceremonial armor, not his white robes. “Ay, that’s the one. Why is he on a huge canvas outside? He special or something?”

Syral’s jaw clenched as she pointed to the placard below the painting.

Sir Haiser D’Urban

887 ~ 945

Nethri stared in astonishment at the label. “But, but that was nearly 20 years ago! Who did I –?” He met Luc’s gaze, and fell silent. Syral was busy thumbing through the pages of the tome, her forehead furrowed as she swept over the story that no one besides her should have known, let alone recorded in a book.

Gathering up his courage, Nethri approached the Dame. “Syral,” started the Dwarf, “there is still a chance to save her. The Hammer of Gond mentioned in the book – it seems it may be able to help us retrieve the lost souls with the blade. But it is said that its location is in the Cold Spire, and for that we would require your help…”

“‘We’? ‘We’?! There is no ‘WE’!” Syral broke into a rage, hurling the book down the corridor. “There is no ‘we’ any more. You can go, but there is no ‘we’!”

Nethri bowed so low his nose nearly touched the floor. “Dame, by ‘we’ I refer to myself and whatever charges I can find to accompany me. But I require your aid in this matter. I know not how to get to the Cold Spire, and even if I could, manage it, we are short on time, for your mate’s body is decaying as we speak.” The look shot at Nethri burned through his eyes. “I wish to help you and learn more about Inistrad, but to do so, I need your help. Will you offer me your assistance?”

“I will not allow Luc to go. I cannot risk it. And I will not leave my children. Not now. I am the only one who can protect them.”

“That is understandable, Dame, and I have no wish to take him. He is your son after all. And as for leaving them, I would not dare ask you to do so.” Nethri paused, gathering up his courage. “You say you are the only one able to protect them, and I would not question that belief. I propose though, that you bring them along. Not to explore, mind you, but just to drop me and my company off. We will find our own way to return if we are successful. If not…” Nethri shook his head, removing the thought.

Syral thought this over a bit before sliding to within an inch of the Dwarf’s nose. “You will have one day.”

The lump in Nethri’s throat was too big to swallow. “I, uh, must first inform my House of these findings and resupply. If I may take my leave, Dame?”

“Yes, you may, but I am not leaving my children here alone. And you, Sir Nethri, shall not ride back, for, as you said, we are short on time. I will get us to Lencia. Meet me at House D’Urban in 3 hours. If you are late, your chance is lost. I have made my peace with my mate, but this shred of hope…I cannot forgo every chance, but if you are late, the decision is made. Are we clear?”

“Yes, Dame, perfectly.”

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The Journey Back
Nethri's Journal

An angel met us in that place. Cold and wicked it was, devoid of warmth or emotion. I had always imagined them being more, well, inviting. Not he, nor was his master’s keep. As we scurried through the hallways, lost and guided only by the lack of options, we were able to acquire some gear from the barracks. Low in quality, but better than flesh, so I ought not complain. Nightchill, the goddess troubling Lencia (possibly the world), seemed to be raising an army, or at least maintaining one, which only spells more doom for the mortal races.

We also traveled upon some servant’s quarters, though child-esque in appearance it was. Spotless, immaculate, and lacking passion. The room was a sterile nightmare.

After that boorish room we happened upon five Elven servants who accompany us to a room full of portals. We rush through the blasted contraptions as a patrol passes by, narrowly missing discovery, which would have likely been the most pleasant of what would have happened.

Stepping through the portal, we are instantly taken to a valley between mountains and I feel the strength of Dumathoin wash over me. Sensing my god with my, I quickly disrobe out of the armors laced with Nightchill’s insignia, though Luc insists on keeping his on. Besides a few looks from folk, my conscience was clear; I cannot say the same for D’Urban.

We travel toward the mountains and I regale in the glory of the natural world. Never have I felt so alive! Eventually we came to a road, which led us to an Eladrin city, where Luc trouncing about in the goddess’s armor caused us to land in a jail cell. That boy just does not learn!

Being interrogated and questioned does not a happy Dwarf make, but Luc was all-together rude! He started picking fights and looking for way to piss off the guards, which, in hindsight, was fine, since we’re alive now and the guards aren’t. I won’t ever understand that boy though, as he wanted to keep the damned guard alive for questioning or some such. Dwarven laws prohibit such folly. If the beast is going to speak, it can do so with an axe through the gut.

But we’re in Lencia now, the young D’Urban enjoying Dame Syral’s company and me with a candle and this book I acquired from the servant’s quarters. Quite interesting history within this book…

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The Return to Syral's Chambers

The fact is if I go back to improperly titled Syral she is gonna kill me, and you know what? That fits in with this southern slop of a pillaged duchy that lives in a bubble of elitism and idiocracy!

So I meet a girl sent from Corellon, and she and I make beautiful music together, and then to save her I strike a deal with Miria. Miria dies, an enemy house takes Stormlit for questioning over the deeds of little Luc.

I throw my impressive presence into the mix (thank you very much) and the dwarf is added for panache. We go to get Miria, and then the boys wish to dog paddle to adventure against a massive seafood entree. After swimming, ‘hey, let’s dry ourselves with the batting of angel’s wings!’

Botdd2 4loner

This note Ahdi left, it would be an easy return to Syral’s chambers if I wanted, but for what? People in that house are cursed – I should know, being a warlock and whatnot – they are cursed like they wished for dark clouds.

Well I will have one more night’s stay here, and then find the nearest portal, to the big cities and the nightlife, send for Stormlit, and some of the LFD maybe…

This gesture is for you Lencia! Luc and Nethri were too good for you.

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