A Light in the Dark

We heal...
And I'm entertained

I have spent my time healing studying the scrolls, which were made by the necromancer that I killed. I study some of the armours, seeking anything that’ll give us away. I try the tankard and it confounds me. Fyraiia is able to make sense of it yet she won’t tell me.

We travel. I keep Jern from strenuous activities and tell him to read his books. During the evening I oversee training sessions of those who are healthy. I’m back almost to myself after a day or so, thank you Phyraia for the tattoo you gave me.

The second night, Azerite tried to sneak into the wagon that Jern and I share. He’s loud. He wanted to tattoo Jern’s naked head. I tell him to leave, I’m tempted to take his head for the insult. Jern awoke and politely declined, Princess was offended on his behalf. So Jern fell asleep, I went back to revery.

Once done, I headed out to watch. I spoke quietly to one of the men, then I hear Azerite fall from a tree. I wandered over to talk to him. He’s hearing voices. Silly dwarf must be a young adolescent if he thought a tree was a good idea. I finally am able to get enough information out of him to deduce that it’s none other than Princess tormenting him. I shook my head then told him he should apologise. Which, rather than wait til dawn he tries to do so now. Oh, and I told him that she likes licorice. This should prove entertaining. See Nameless I still have a sense of humour.

He apologises, Jern accepts but Princess is pretending to sleep. I go back to playing with the fire, then Azerite is making noise at the cook’s wagon. I stop to listen. Now it’s entertaining! Like a lover’s quarrel. I point out to Phaeron, at least we don’t argue like that. This causes everyone to get up and yell at Azerite. Finally Jern heads over there at Azerite’s request with Princess. Well now! This aught to be funny!

I follow. She asks Jern about his hair, Jern tells her, I correct some of the details. It takes a bit before she finally believe that the hammer can talk, and silly woman is afraid of it. Fool. For one to quickly judge me and use a cat slave, she is awfully jumpy.

Jern offers coin for licorice which he gives a piece to Azerite. The saga of sleepless night is ended with Azerite feeding the hammer. Pity Phaeron’s mother isn’t around, she could weave this into a funny ballad. Ideas, ideas.

The cook however or is it as per normal, angry and huffy. I depart to stir up the fire. My task is easy. I ask her if she needs warm embers to which she nods. Breakfast is good and I get Jern’s plate. People are breaking camp as I place the plate before his nose. I depart and start talking to Sslith’lac and Gronx. I allow Phaeron to take charge of the direction. I hope he’s still following my chaos.

At lunch I spar with Rahkar’s follower. He’s intense! Its fun.

I then go through more magic items. I divy out some of the gear that we’ve gathered to the gladiators. Armour mostly. Though Lythan, the scout, scored armour and bracers. Azerite got a few items, he needs all the help he can get.

At night when we settle, I’m going through the last of it and there’s 2 weapons that perk my interest. A scimitar and a handaxe. The scimitar is both a boon and curse. It would take me a couple of days to recover. The handaxe would assist me in my weapon fight style, except I never learned axe. Perhaps I’ll see if someone would like to teach me.

There’s a relic. It’s Shaelona’s relic, a great axe ivory and ice. I can’t get near it. It’s painful. I ask if anyone follows the ice maiden, no one. So we’re safeguarding it until we can find the worthy wielder.

The next day we are traveling. Nothing to report, except that I think we are traveling in a straight line…. naw.

Third watch. I’m awake, studying the tankard. Fyraiia is in her books. The alarm rod goes off. I’m up and moving. I tap Jern, Fyraiia, Phaeron, Sslith’lac, Pysren, and two if the gladiators while placing spells upon myself and Jern and Fyraiia places one on me. We are awake, looking for trouble. I set Jern and Azerite to guard the cook. Fyraiia goes with. I head out to investigate, nothing. Really?

I don’t like this. I tell Phaeron to find us a dependable location. I talk to the Great General’s followers about wagon order. And I loan Lythan the eyes of accuracy.

I request coffee, the cook requests coals. I scoop some up and bring them to her. She’s shocked but takes them. We get coffee on the road. I put people with wagons and get the horses going swiftly.

It could be a smart patrol..
It could be a planar group……
It could be a smart beastie, or one of the intelligent undead….

We need to pick our battlefield, and stay there.

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Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt. 25
In which I learned Princess holds a grudge

Everything packed up, our Journey continued. Woke up in the middle of the night to voices. Azerite and Ameira. Apparently he wanted to tattoo something on my face. Kindly declined and he left. Princess asked if I wanted her to take care of him. Expressed that he hasn’t earned that yet, that this was probably just the ale. Went back to sleep.

Woke up again a little later on. Same voices. Apparently Princess has been waking him up every hour or so with screaming. Came in to apologize. Tried to wave him off. He wouldn’t take it. Apologized. I accepted on my and Princess’ behalf, as she was pretending to sleep until I threatened to bleed on her.

Woke up Again before morning. More noise and shouting. More Azerite. Everyone started to get up. Fuck that. Tried to get back to sleep. Just as I was nodding off though, Ameira came in with a plate of breakfast and left it by my face. She makes a powerful argument. Sat up and ate.

Ameira and I went over to Azerite a few hours into the morning, asked about his heritage. He didn’t remember his clan or his kin, but the runescript on his beard clasp indicated he’s from the mountains near Havaar. Or it is. Either way.

Started training with Princess and her shapeshifting abilities, wanting to be able to increase the range at which I can deal with threats, while maintaining use of the Ironbreaker techniques. At one point Azerite came by, begging me to come with him and prove to the cook that Princess is sentient, so he can get licorice for her as an olive branch.

Took some convincing and a few gp, but eventually she relented. Got a jar of licorice to refill my stocks with. Gave Azerite a piece and he fed her. She seems appeased at the moment.

Went back to the training, but found I couldn’t stay at it for long. The effects of the creature’s bite did not pass as quickly as I’d hoped. Tried to work through the exhaustion, but Ameira came by and prescribed me bedrest instead. Couldn’t argue that she knew better than I about the beast we fought, and I Did have a number of books to read.

Didn’t take long for my body to start aching from the lack of activity, and I tried to alleviate that when I could by getting out and helping out, but I was watched like a hawk and sent back to the wagon whenever I tried to stray out from it.

Days and nights passed. Did a lot of studying and visualizing the movements I’d need to practice once I had free reign to do so again.

Woke up in the middle of the night to the Alarm Rod ringing out. Got up and outside with haste. Night was quiet. Didn’t spot anything out in the darkness, but the alarm was insistent.

Communication butterflies were set, and I moved over to the kitchen wagon.

Tense moments passed by, with no movement outside of our own. The order is given to pack up and move camp. We’ll see if the alarm continues to go off, if we’re being stalked or what. Gotta get the crew caffeinated. Discuss with the cook, who agrees to make coffee.

Strategy was discussed, black was drank, and we began to move.

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Need sleep
Wait your his what!?!?

The feral roar echoes through the darkness sending chills down my spine as a multi-headed creature came towards us I become frozen by it’s presence unable to stop it from sinking it’s teeth into me, the winged one is the first to strike followed by the other dwarf after some time my body began to respond again and I was able to strike the final blow thanks to the others weakening it, after the fight was over the winged one called out to nameless whom appeared behind me with a giant grin, after some chatter we were allowed to leave. Once back we all got some much needed rest which i was enjoying until someone decided to pull my beard thus waking me I fight the urge to crater his face I tell him to get out and I go back to sleep. After we recovered the winged one summoned every one to tells us her plans but before I  was able to head over the cheff wanted to have a chat with me which ended with me agreeing to be her shield if things went south, we then joined every one else and upon arrival I noticed the other dwarf lack of hair, after the winged one told us her plans I had learned two things A. She isn’t just in it for the murder and B. BAYLOCK IS HER BROTHER!?!?

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Sleep and Rest Are Needed
Wait! The catfolk are mindless willess slaves?!

Feral roar. There’s a magic in it.

It freezes my movements. No! Most of my vitae has been given to the dead! No! I’m helpless. There’s no fire burning here.

Is this a rebound? That means I raised too much energy and haven’t yet mastered how to direct it. Into those I raised, into myself and my fellows to heal us.

Did I do something wrong? No, I don’t think so. I used a circle that my grandfather studied under his grandfather.

Can I activate the tattoo my sister gave me? Yes! Yes I can. It replenshes my vitae. I must use the 2 remaining charges.

What is that?! It moves like a falling cloak in chaotic movements. Twisting and turning, coming towards us.

Is Sharlond not active? She was to keep us safe from intrusions and enemies….

It’s a shrieking terror, it moves through the planes, mostly the Eternal Jail of Tartarus and Shadows. How’d it get here? Oh Gods! The venom burns. I wish I could set my blood on fire.

Is this a test from Vyrta? I don’t think so. This doesn’t seem elegant enough for her.

Did I tap into the Infernal Outer Plane? Oh dear, who does that man worship?

It’s trying to chew my life out of me! Two thrice damned heads gnaw on me! I keep focusing on regaining my strength as I fight the paralysis. I also try and recall what I’ve read up on shrieking terrors. Recall it. Recall it.

The poison requires a neutralisation or heal spell or potion to be able to close the wounds if the body isn’t able to push out the venom. There’s something about its kiss which can turn a person into Vargouille, essentially an evil sharp fanged flying head of hissing and shrieking. Ick. I’m going to have to check everyone over.

Fire and acid on the head stalks stops it from acting like a Hydra. I got fire! Kill the body or take all of the heads. I got this! Once I can move…. wait! That’s my wing lowering! I’m regarding mobility. Damnit. When did I strip off my clothing? Ironically the leg tattoo is going to save my life. I pull Pyrico’s Talon out and twirl it to get some momentum before I strike it. Without my gauntlets I am not as good with attacking with both hands when I’m wielding my scimitar. Damnit!

One head detatches itself from Jern and snaps at me. I move a little and it misses. Perhaps I should raise my shield… no, I need to kill it before it does the dwarves more harm. I attack again but my attack is deflected by the neck. I trust in my skills of movement. I have been forced to fight naked in the pit, I survived that I will survive that though I worry about the poison in my veins.

Focus!

I hear Jern, I’m relieved. I yell the information about the planar abberation to him, but the growls of rage from him tell me he’s not necessarily paying attention. Then I hear Princess protest. I think he dropped the hammer.

I keep doing my turns and twists to avoid the bites and lash out at the beast. My scimitar explodes and I grin. The cut is nice and deep. I pull out my scimitar and use it to deflect the next bite.

Azerite is now moving. This is good, but I can’t get a read on him. My wounds hurt. Jern looks bad, Azerite does too. I know Nameless is about, so I call to him to help us. Our vitae is drained. We’re in serious danger, I don’t know if I have the needed potions as we do not have a priest.

I hit the body again and then Jern bashes it. Finally Azerite strikes it, his sword lets loose a chilly frozen burst. I skip back from it. I do not want him fighting near me again.

There’s questions, I’m having a hard time focusing. We need to get out. I have wounds bleeding, but Jern and Azerite are having it worse. Jern especially. I hear Nameless’ giggle and call him. Perhaps he’ll fix up my friends. Instead it turns out that not only did he bring them in, he also brought the shrieker in and offers to bring in more. I tell him no.

He wants Jern for a pet, I tell him repeatedly no, not happening. Nameless takes credit for bringing Jern and Azerite in, I mention Jern I understand, Azerite I don’t even know. So why him? Why not my mate? Somehow Nameless thought Jern is my mate…. close good friend, yes. But mate? He’s a dwarf. I tell Azerite how to get out and I make a fire. He does so but is still here. I take my scimitar and begin hacking a head off. I seem to have a new habit, I wonder what Baelok will think of this….

I look at Jern then at Nameless, “Can’t you help them? You brought them here, they gave their vitae to help me.” He’s disinclined to help and seems to be in sinister mode. Odd for him to bring a tormentor from a plane that is the best prison in the entire planar cosmology.

My weakness almost causes me to swoon and I miss some of what he says. I try and end the ritual, but no good. I’m still in the in between. I inhale and keep myself calm. I focus and dive into my grandfather’s memories, swiftly finding this ritual. I end it as his clan does.

I drop to the ground, my wings hurt! Oh the pain!! I don’t move, closing my eyes and allowing my wings to drape over me as my wounds slowly close. I inhale and flex them gently, my tail slowly moves as I try and think. There’s no ritual high, probably because of Nameless’ interference. I am definitely heady, aftereffects of the myrrh and frankincense. It is no doubt numbing some of the pain, but by the gods I hurt.

I force myself to get up, my legs are wobbly, my head spins, I’m dizzy. I look before me and study the sigils I marked of the Council. The wand, my hair, the blood and Daniel’s whisker are gone. Only Majok, Zeltar, and Drayus drank their wines. This saddens me as that means Faelyn and Siella are missing or weakened. “Thank you, Drayus, Zeltar, and Majok for your aid and energy. I will do what I can to bring back Faelyn and Siella, please give me some insight on where to look for their holy relics and sights.” I inhale deeply and start to walk the circle. But I stop as I notice shadow shards in Jern and Azerite. I scowl.

“Nameless! The ritual is over, and you are causing my friends pain,” I look around trying to find the dark one. I seriously may need to figure out how to separate him from the corruption he consumed sooner than I was anticipating. “Remove the shards, Nameless!” The anger at this twisting of the ritual gives me some strength. My wings flex out and my tail drops but still sways in annoyance anger. Nameless appears and gleefully rips the shards out, what have I done? I have to get it in my head that he’s not the same Nameless that I grew up with, nor the same one from nine years ago. He finally departs, firmly spoiling the gladiators. Or is he showing them that I do not fear him? I drop again and shaking my head.

“Poisoned…. we’re poison…” I look up, trying to find Phaeron, Fyraiia, someone. I move to my pouch of holding and put my hand in it. The previous owner had those vials of antiparalysis, perhaps a neutralise poison or heal? No. Nothing! Blast it! “Does anyone have potions of neutralise poison or heal? We.. we need them.” I motion to the head, “Nameless brought that to us….” I see Psyren by Jern. She’s using a wand on him, good.

I force myself to stand up. I didn’t realize that I fell. I close my eyes, I am healing. My wings aren’t aching as much. That’s a relief. I turn to start the circle walk, when Jorin is suddenly there, stiff and regimental. “I hear you need these madam,” comes his voice. I look, then nod, with a slight frown. There’s only 2 potions.

“Give them to Jern and Azerite,” I tell him. I don’t look as bad as them, my weakness is from vitae drain.

“No madam,” he argues and pushes one towards me, “I’m charged with protecting you madam, not them.” I forgot about that… damnit. I look between Jern and Azerite.

“Take that to Jern,” I tell him, I look back to Azerite, I have no intention of taking the potion. But when I look back, Jorin is still there, studying me. He is stone, ancient, steadfast, and determined. He’s waiting for me to drink it. “They’re worse,” I try to argue. But he shakes his head. If I wasn’t weak, I would just ignore him and give it to Azerite, but, I am certain he would force the second potion down my gullet rather than give it to Jern. And between Jern and Azerite, Jern needs it more. Desperately. I sigh and drink the potion. The gladiators will hold this against me. Jorin now toddles off to give Jern the potion.

I finally start to inspect the circle.

I take a knee where I summoned Pyrico, “Thank you Pyrico for your help, your presence, and your strength. I will call upon you again when I need your strength and power to set this world right,” I offer a hand to the gladiator that follows Pyrico. I then move carefully through those who follow Feruuk, inclining my head to them, they are working up to sitting themselves up. Then the follower of Rakhar, he’s growly and working his new lease on life. Then it’s the followers of Warmonger that I wobble through, I kneel, and I’m surprised. The head I gave has been turned into a skull tankard! I blink, at first thinking I’m hallucinating, but it’s there still. “Thank you Warmonger for allowing your followers to rejoin the fight. Thank you for this gift,” I take it and raise it to my forehead in a salute. “Thank you,” I murmur, shocked and uncertain about what to say. I will have to look it over later, but I’m truly surprised and honoured by this token of his favour. Was he listening to what I was telling the dead about my plans?

Next is Syrenia. I am humble before the Queen of Oceans. I’ve always had an uneasy feeling with her. If I anger her she can do me serious harm. But I honour her nonetheless as she deserves respect. “Mistress of Oceans and the Waters that give us life, I thank you for your presence and help. I hope to do you honour” I look, yes the blue gem is gone. I am glad that she liked it. I slowly stand up, aware of eyes upon me, but I ignore them. They have never seen something like this. Like me.

Nameless is the next mark. I kneel before him, “Nameless, you vex me and torment my friends. Yet, you brought me help when I needed it, I thank you. You tested our strength, I hope we measured up. And you keep testing my will and my resolve. You push me, and I will push back, as is our way. You took the coin,” I smile, “Please remember the old days,” I ask of him, “And thank you, Nameless.”

I get up slowly up and move to the next sigil: Shaelona, Mistress of snow, ice and the Frozen Waste. The opposite of my patron, Pyrico. I am weary of my approach, as she more than Syrenia, can end me. And I had nothing worthy to gift the Ice Queen. Yet the need to call upon her, and it was she who struck me with ice spears. I lower to a knee, “Thank you Shaelona for transferring my vitae to the fallen. Thank you for not killing me in the process. And thank you for coming and helping in this ritual, Lady of Frost,” I lower my head, deeply honoured as it was necessary to have her present. I then notice the gift I gave her was still there, frozen in a chunk of ice. My hand slowly moves, did the string of pearls and clear gems offend her? Did she leave them as a gift to me? Was she insulted? Gingerly I touch the coldness of the ice cube. It hurts, but I take it anyways, I lower my head, uncertain if I should apologise or say thank you. I elect to thank her for the lesson to be learned.

I force myself up, place the necklace in ice into my pouch with Warmonger’s tankard. I’ll study it later.

I stagger to stand before Ylena’s mark. The spine and tail are still there. I failed again. “I’m sorry Ylena,” I say as I sink down to my knee, “I am sorry if my gift offends, I promise I will do better next time I have need…” I promise the grand matron goddess. I need to learn more about her. I shall have to question Osozo. “Thank you for everything,” I finally whisper, “Thank you for healing their bodies, thank you for helping me during the fight.” I take the refused offering and put it back into my pouch.

I head to where Quillar should be, or a member of the court of air. The wine is untouched, the incense not taken. I take back my gift, then raise the wine in a toast. “I swear, to the realm of Air, to the friends and priests of Quillar, I will seek him out, find him and bring him back. I ask for the help in seeking what I need to bring him back.” I take a sip then pour the rest upon the mark.

Finally, I arrive to where Vrynith ought to be, or one of the star godlings. But nothing. I take back the mirror, surprised that I managed to bring back the men with a goddess that I offended and two missing gods with no replacement. I take up the wine and again in a toast, “Court of Vrynith, hear this oath,” I have seen the stars, they still glow bright, just this damned mist keeps us from seeing them. “I will seek out Vrynith’s relic upon this world, I will seek his holy site, and I will endeavour to bring him back. I will endeavour to return his strength. I just pray that there are some hints as to where to look,” I’m realistic.

I need help to bring back these gods. I hope that I can find it, find people, books, scrolls, something. Knowledge, I need that. I need to find a historian or three. I have thoughts in my head which depart when I notice Vytra’s wine untouched. Her skull not taken.

“The Lady of Death…. missing?” I’m shocked. She was one of the gods a permit could be gotten for to worship and be a priest of. What other gods of death are missing? How many souls are wandering this world, trapped. A cold chill. But I recall Syrenia is a goddess of death but for those who die by water, in the ocean, who worship her. But, who else is gone? With Pyrico be able to usher them onto their next lives? I’m chilled, now understanding the importance of the death rite I do. That is a rite that I must teach Fyraiia so she can teach the others….

“Vyrta, Lady of Death, I will find a way to bring you back. The souls need you,” I’m going to have to talk to Phearon and confirm if Lheare worshipped Vyrta. She might know where to look for the necessary items and place of power.

I raise her chalice in a toast and make my oath to bring her back.

Then I note that Sharlond wasn’t present. I stop. The ring of shadow wasn’t hers, but Nameless. Nameless, did he hide the ritual? Are we open to someone knowing about the ritual? “We have to go,” I say urgently. I gather up the cloth. I take her chalice, “Lady of secrets and shadows, the resistance needs your knowledge. I swear I will work to bring you back, free you from wherever you have been sent.”

I look everything over then I explode the fire to erase the ritual markings. I nod, pleased by the erasing.

I start to move ahead, Jern appears beside me. The archer is already getting the horses hitched. The gladiators are either standing around or helping. Some are moving the revived humans to the triage wagon. “What’s in the last wagon?” I know the triage wagon is getting full. I see Azerite stomp that way. Jern wants to help get stuff done. I’m not certain what’s going on with him, but I keep him with me. He needs rest.

Suddenly there’s a cloak around my wings and shoulders. I look and smile at Phaeron. I lean my head on his shoulder, “Thank you,” I whisper. He walks in silence to the last wagon. I open the door, look in. It’s spare parts, tents, provisions. Nice. I move aside to let Jern in and claim a place. Wrapped in the cloak, I lay down on the floor and try to revery. Phaeron departs, a few moments later he returns with my clothing. No words.

The wagon starts to move and I can hear Jern’s snores. Deep and rumbling. I try to get rest, but my mind wanders about the repercussions of my action. Will the Efreet come and criticise me? I sigh and finally get up and look Jern over. He isn’t looking well. I move a hand and touch his face, some hair falls out! I pull a bit more out. No! I forgot about the Vargouille transformation that could happen. I rush back to my pouch of holding and pull out two potions, one of cure disease, my last one as far as I know, and one of heal critical wounds.

I wake him roughly in my panic, “Drink this,” I command, pouring the first potion into his mouth, hoping that I’m not too late. “Now this,” his trust in me is seen as he drinks without arguing. He grumbles a bit, but I let him have that. Then he settles back to sleep. I walk back carefully to the door and swing it open. The archer is riding a horse. “Go quickly to Azerite, see if his hair is falling out,” I tell him. “And what is your name?” A late question.

He gives it and then is off, I call after him to report on the result.

I close the door and study Jern. I know I was very close to losing my friend.his hair…. his beard. I can see patches missing. Damn me for not checking sooner! I now tug on my hair. Either my planar blood makes me immune or it wanted Jern.

I’m almost into a troubled revery when there’s a knock. I call out for results, and I’m told Azerite’s hair doesn’t fall out. Good.

I slip into a calm revery, sorting potions in Toza’s lab. Reading books that my great great grandmother had. I’m going through memories. Then get stuck on if the Lady of Death is gone, how many other death gods are gone? How many souls are wandering this haunted land?

I start awake. The wagon isn’t moving. I get up and realise that I’m filthy with blood, paint, and ash and smoke. I manage to use magic to clean myself, then dress. I also cast the spell upon sleeping Jern. He may appreciate it when he awakens. Poor him.

I quietly open the door and depart, asking why have we stopped. Apparently we don’t travel and eat at the same time. I get a plate tossed into my hand with food on it from the hostile cook. I try coaxing her out but for naught. A gladiator mentions this as being peculiar and I tell him it’s my fault. I know the cook distrusts me. I make a joke about her desire to poison me. I then ask for a second plate for Jern. I incline my head in silent thanks but she doesn’t seem to take note.

I carry the plates back, noting Fyraiia and Phaeron are in charge, organising the gladiators. Good. I open the door to the supply wagon and get in. I place his plate by his nose, not desiring to wake him unless he’s hungrier than tired. I sit back down by the door. There’s several magical items piled in, seems my friends want me to work. I eat first, listening to Jern’s snoring, cease then start back up. I don’t talk, my thoughts on his hair and beard. Dwarves take their hair as seriously as my mother’s people. For us, it’s a sign of position, honour, our braids and trophies tell our deeds and honour our family, clan and tribe.

The wagons start moving again and I start going through the pile and divide it up, writing a list for Jern. He is my second, I realise. I trust him as much as I trust Gronx, Psyren and Sslith’lac. I can rely on him to not leave me in a bind. That means he won’t leave me if I order it. He’s truly loyal.

I need to shape up to become a Mistress of Ritual my clan needs; the leader an army yet gathered needs; perhaps Shiek of my tribe? I shake my head. More like a cult of primitives. But effective in our magic if I can get enough clansmen.

I wake again to the wagon stopping. Lunch. I take back our plates then bring back new plates for Jern and I. I place his near him with tea and ale for his thirst. I’m quiet, sorting through Gods I know are gone, who’s courts are gone or busy trying to find their leige. I sigh softly. Does Feruuk and Rakhar still to their people? Do I need to call to the gods and talk to them? Perhaps I should and inform them directly that I plan to wage war. Is it too early now?

Jern’s awake! I remain silent, turn to watch him discreetly. His pain is palatable. I feel sorrow and sympathy for him, sympathy, an emotion that I thought I lost. He glares at his reflection then asks for a knife. I hand him the one I stole, non magical but beautifully crafted and sharp. He begins his work and I turn away, not wanting him to see my weakness.

This is my fault, if I had recalled earlier he would have his hair. If I hadn’t been out if it…. Gah! I hate guilt, it’s why Gronx got injured, why I hesitate with Phaeron, why I am stuck. I should do a roll call with the gods before I enact another ritual. It pains me that he must cut it all off. I should have killed the terror quicker.

I inhale and still my thoughts as my mother would during the day loop.I inhale deeply.

I regain control and by the time he’s done, I offer to clean him up properly. I have shaved Gronx, so Jern should be easy. I wet some soap and solemnly clean him up. “I’m… Sorry,” I begin, “so very sorry.”

I dwarven fashion he rebukes me, saying there’s naught for me to apologize for. The wagon moves again, and the emotions are raw. I remain silent til he offers me his hair. The sacrifice is great, I take it and begin to braid it. “What god do you worship?” It would be best to use it in summoning a god he reveers.

“I honour the earth,” I nod.

“Then for Merlay,” I tell him and wonder if there’s a bardic spell for hair growth or a vanity potion. Something. We travel in silence, so I go back to the items, allowing him to come to terms with it.

Eventually we stop, most likely for the night. I slip out and take in what’s going on, then head to see Daniel and Clarence. They are both unconscious. Pulses weak. I clean them as Psyren tells me that the wand doesn’t work. It’s a limited source and as far as I know there’s no priest here to recharge the wands. “Stop using it on them if there’s no reaction, we need a priest.” I sigh then begin stripping Daniel down, removing his bandages and clothing, items of magic and begin to clean him properly and search for the wound or magical mark. It could be a poison. It could be a curse. I have limited resources. I then strip Clarence down and inspect him, nothing is amiss. There’s residual magic, but it’s from the wand. “Keep giving them liquids and broth,” I tell Psyren as I nuzzle her. She smells good. “There’s going to be a meeting at dinner,” I speak aloud to all. Then I head out.

I spread word, and help in setting up the central fire. Then it’s to the cook to inform her. I finally head back to get Jern and explain to him what’s going on. He’s hesitant but he can’t hide forever. “I need you there,” I tell him. He finally releants and joins me. He’s uncomfortable with his lack of hair, my discomfort of being amongst a large group is a small thing on comparison.

We find a place to sit. I watch people come in. More gladiators than I thought. Our people move in. Then we are looking at each other over the fire. The cook is standing aside with Azerite beside her. That’s funny. We both rely upon the dwarves for strength. Mine is stronger.

Then there’s a little catfolk walking in and delivering plates of food. I thought it was Daniel until I saw the white patches. Jern and I discuss it, observing its movement and lack of interaction, play, and reaction. The cook seems to think I’m insane as I ask questions about it. Jern gets angry, I’m keeping calm and thinking. Boneblades used to be ogres. The halflings were hunted, is this what they became? Or are they children? Devoid of senses.

I asked who makes them. I’m trying to get information but it’s frustrating. I thank the cat for the food and then for picking up my plate. Daniel broke the condition. There’s got to be a way to bring the personality back.

We are about to totally lose Jern in his anger when Jorin steps up and comments favorably upon Jern’s change. Some sort of hero worship. Jern takes it in good grace though with sarcasm. But Jorin doesn’t notice, he rather seems at peace and happy with it.

My speech to the people was horrible. I told them of how I want to fight the Kabal, no Xikites. How I wanted to bring back the gods, essentially go to war against an all powerful group that controls everything. Most say that they will wait til we reach our destination then make their decisions. Far enough. The Rakhar follower will follow me. This will be interesting.

I fully identified myself. Who my parents are, my siblings. Azerite doesn’t see any family resemblance. I shift my features.

Now I sit before the fire, watching it, half looking for a sign. Too many gods are missing.

Druumbos
Vrynith
Doll
Merlay
Sharlond
Vyrta
Quillar
Siella
Faelyn

How many more? No wonder this world is close to collapsing.

I’m going to have to call the gods and see who I have to work with on my rituals.

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Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt. 24
In which I trade one terrible fate for another

The roar tapered off into a shriek. Looked over to spot some kind of betentacled something or other moving towards us. Couldn’t stop looking over at it as my body stopped moving. Couldnt even cry out as the creature began eating me and HOW DID I WRITE THIS OH MY GAW

But seriously, this thing chewed and chewed on us, and I could feel myself getting weaker with every bite.

Ameira was the first of us to regain her motor control, and used it to take a blade across one of the beast’s many heads. One of the biters on me loosed it’s grip and lashed out at her impotently. A moment later all the pain I’d been numb to rushed in and fueled my own impotent fury, as my attempt to crush one of the thing’s skulls with Princess got deflected by it’s fleshy flailing, and resulted in her clattering to the ground outside of my reach.

Thought so at least, as after a moment she reappeared in my hands. Would have been surprised if I wasn’t so focused on spilling the creature’s brains.

Another swing and a miss, as I get chomped on again.

Felt how I assume feeling one’s essence being drained feels. It wasn’t fun. Managed to calm down enough to properly aim my next swing however, bringing it straight across the asshole’s jaw. One of them.

The melee continued for a moment before the drunk brings the sword around and cleaves it in two.

As the adrenaline wore off, the pain continued to grow and grow. Causing the world to spin around me. Nameless showed up and helped nothing, as he seems wont to do. Insinuated that he brought the beast in here, and offered to bring in more. Was dissuaded by Ameira fortunately. Jabber jabber, I think I said something about princess and Nameless being kin, everything was in a haze as the corners of my vision went dark.

Woke up out in the field, still pierced and held in place by the shadow spikes. More unwelcome pain. Found the strength to tear the spikes asunder, helped free Ezurite from the grasp of his. Still had chunks in us, but at least we could move around.

Ameira came back a moment later, confirmed that the spikes were Nameless’ doing. Told him to remove the shards. He did. Violently. Coughed up some more blood and took a knee. I’m sure there was more conversation or whatnot, but my head was ringing louder than their words. Psyren forced something wet and tasteless down my gob, that still managed to match the finest ales on account of my wounds beginning to close up. Dropped down onto my ass and took a minute to catch my breath. I was still bleeding from a dozen major wounds, but at least I wasn’t actively arm wrestling with death anymore.

Wandered over to the Cook’s wagon, pointed out to her that her newly alived friends are not in fact undead. She didn’t care. Wandered off to find a task to complete.

Ameira wasn’t fond of that idea. Gave me some a draught of some kind. Wasn’t really in a place to argue. Followed after her as she went to check on one of the other carts. She sent me off to rest. Wouldn’t have argued if I could.

Dropped down into a cot, princess on the ground beside me, and passed out before I finished rolling over.

Didn’t sleep long before Ameira slapped me awake. Had me down another couple of potions. Held up a clump of familiar looking hair. Said they’d stop that. Grabbed at my beard. Hair pulled free.

Expressed that I was going back to sleep and proceeded to do so, in absolutely no state to process whatever the hell was happening.

Morning came about. Woke up to the scent of better food than I could remember having. Wasn’t ready to wake up regardless.

Some time later, I got up. Ameira was there. I expected me to want privacy, ask her to leave, find somewhere else to be in the meantime, but that feeling never came. The hair loss continued. I hadn’t been dreaming, much to my chagrin. She confirmed when prompted that this was happening because of the creature, that it was the result of a disease it gave me, that would have eventually turned me into some kind of abomination. It seemed her potion stopped that in it’s tracks.

Checked my reflection in my mirror, and saw that what I was going to be left with was unsalvageable. Borrowed a dagger and went to work.

As I sheared 118 years of growth off my face and scalp, she apologized for what had occured. I did not accept. Countered with the fact that she had nothing to apologize for. I knew that what happened was not her intent, so she had nothing to answer for. Didn’t express my thoughts on whether or not Nameless did.

We discussed my plans to offer up my beard afterwards to a god or whatnot. Explained that I don’t worship any god, that I revere the stone, the earth, and that we never gave it a face. Did plan to use it in whatever ritual we would eventually use for the next awakening.

When I was finished, she offered to clean it up. Allowed her.

Ate lunch and rested.

Evening came, and Ameira came for me. She’s holding a meeting over dinner to explain to the newcomers our plans, and offer the opportunity to join us, or be dropped off at the next safe space.

Jorin brought up the hair. Told him I thought it was time for a change, and joked about it being apparent when he asked if I admired him so greatly. He didn’t seem to realize that though, and I didn’t have the heart to explain.

We took notice of a cat being, seemingly one of Daniel’s kin, but completely devoid of personality. Or will. Inquired, and found out that these catpeople are mindless servants that are sold in stores.

I found the idea mildly off-putting.

Or was it infuriating.

I always get those two mixed up.

Interviews began. Cook agreed to come along. Others as well. Others not. Either way when the wee hours approached, it felt like we’d made some progress. As a group. To our overarching goals. Not personally.

I cannot emphasize enough how fucked up it is to be shorn. I’ll be nearly 250 before my beard is back to the length it was. That’s practically middle age. I might even have my first greys.

He’s going to pay.

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Painfully experience

With the battle over I decided to find some ale and sit by the cooks wagon which was a good idea until I took a pan to the shin but it was worth it to see the pissed off cook hauled out, after that I helped the…… winged woman identify some of the gladiators who had their time cut short then found myself a shaded area by a bush to lay down. Time passed and a ritual of some kind began, it was quite interesting to watch up until I saw the winged one pierced by by what looked like ice….. even more so when the shadows came for me and now I’m in some other place, hopefully it doesn’t get worse (loud roar)……. shit.

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Sacrifices Needed to be Made...
Calling All My Gods! I Need Your Help!!

Seems I missed something and Daniel and Clarence were at the epicenter. There’s fire marks everywhere, a wagon is destroyed but there may be salvable wood. I sigh, “Does the one who knows the wagons still live?”

Movement catches my eye and the archer is raising his hand sheepishly. Yes, he’s seen me in my true form coming down from blood lust. I look at him directly.

“What were your tasks?”

Quietly, uncertainly he replies, “The wagons and taking care of the horses.”

I nod, “Are you a free man or a slave?” He wears leather yet none of his gear is magical.

“Free man,” he’s anxious, definitely not certain as to why I’m questioning him. There’s tasks and I need everyone working. We need to head off sooner rather than later.

“What God do you worship?” It’s a clear cut question and all eyes are on him. He’s clearly thinking, weighing his options. And trying to figure out what those are. I give nothing away aside from impatience. I even tell him that I’m not an inquisitor. Though, if he worships the Unicorn I may have to convert him to someone else somehow.

He continues to hesitates then quietly whispers, “Who do you worship?”

I smile, “Many Gods,” I tell him. He’s a bit confused by this and goes back to thinking.

“Ylena,” he whispers finally. I smile warmly, a good choice if he deals with horses. Perhaps she’ll let him know I’m not so bad, just a lil bit bad.

“Good Goddess, nice old lady,” I comment. She’s a grand matronly type, and I honestly need to do a dedication to her as thanks for helping me. I motion towards the burned down wagon, “Anything salvageable?”

He looks for permission to look, I nod. “You will now be reporting to Jern,” I nod to my Dwarf friend. He doesn’t seem to know how to take this. “Are you seriously that bad of a shot? Or were you doing that on purpose?” He grins shyly, sheepishly. It’s rather cute, if I was into humans. It’s childlike. Perhaps we’ll arm him up better. I don’t think we have leathers in our party treasure,but I’m certain we have somethings. Those who join me will be equipped.

I turn, and look over the dead, looking to see if they died by fire or by my friends’ weapons. I see wounds but on the gladiators they aren’t life threatening. It was by fire. Daniel got crazy with his necklace of fireballs, and I say as much. Jern goes into the center which is where Daniel lays with Clarence beside him. He calls to me, “What would happen if a wand broke?”

“All remaining charges would be used at once,” I tell him then look to Jern, “Why?” He raises a hand and in it is a pair of wooden sticks. I head over and he hands me the broken wand and I examine it. It’s a fireball wand, I ask Jern if we had any such in our inventory. He shakes his head as he lifts Daniel. Gronx comes over and gets Clarence. They are taking them to the remaining gladiator wagon, which we are using as triage and recovery. I note the wood grain, the colours in it. It’s simple, not embellished with gems nor enamel. I examine it further. All magic is gone, it’s inert now. I turn it around, looking at how it’s carved. It’s old Rollic style. Ly’rol, part of Lorelei’s territory. High amount of wizards and warlocks before Strom’s fall. The old slavers capital. Probably where the slave conditioning comes from? Where Daniel hailed from? Or worse. ‘Fyraiia, did anyone teleport in?’

‘No,’ comes her response.

‘You sure? I am holding a broken wand from Ly’rol’ I tell her. She still insists that no one teleported in, so I drop it. It may have been from Daniel’s personal items, Gods know I have much my fellows don’t know about. I drop it for now.

I wave to the carnage. “Strip the weapons, armour and magic,” I tell those with me. Then a big guy steps out. We do our posturing then I find a way out. “You were amongst these?” I ask. He nods, “So tell me what happened.” Apparently one of the men went to attack Daniel who had been using the wand, and Daniel in his brilliance held it up to deflect the blow. Great. Death by accident. And this one is growly enough to be a problem later if I don’t fix things. I change the orders when I see Jern back.

“Jern, are you able to send the guards’ spirits off?” He has some wabbling, but Psyren pipes up she can do it. I shake my head, “I’ll trace the ritual lines, you’ll know what to do,” I assure him. He has his notes. To Psyren, I quickly write down a recipe, “I need you with others, to strip the gladiators naked, wash them from head to feet, then paint ash and mud totally covering them. Half mud and half ash. I need lavender and salt, the cook may have them. I’m going to see the Stromite off.” I again look to Jern, “can you build me a fire pit there?” I mark the spot. He nods and goes off to get the lavender and salt. I go to ready his circle, when a bowl of food is handed to me. I smile my thanks to Phaeron, but don’t speak. He knows I’m up to something. I inform him I need him to guard the ritual when I do it. I don’t tell him that I could end up truly dead.

I do the lines, dedicating the souls first to Pyrico to purify, Feruuk to judge, Vyrta to send to the afterlife and sort them. I then send the Stromite to Pyrico, to be cleansed, rewarded or punished, then reborn or whatever he sees fit. Then I’m back to the site of destruction. But no Jern or fire pit. I sigh, and head to the cook. Jorin has her out, Jern is hesitating. I grab some coins and toss them at her as I walk by, “That which we don’t use will be returned,” I tell her as she protests. I go in, grab the first two ingredients, then stop. I grab mulling spices, a couple of additional things, then an idea. She made a stew. Water is required. I look for magic auras and find the one I need, a decanter of endless water. I snag that too. I give it to Psyren and tell her how to use it. She grabs the cauldron that was tossed out.

The cook is stammering about necromatic magic. I tell her lavender would ruin any necromancy, and had to stop myself before explaining how to do necromancy in ritual. I again state that I need someone to identify the people and their gods.

A drunk dwarf, Azerite, seems to know people and he offers to help in his pickled state. I toss a few more coins to the cook and tell her she’ll have her decanter returned. Azerite gives me a run down. I memorize many them seek someone who knows the gods worshipped by two that the dwarf doesn’t know. I then make my paints and begin applying them, I will be going to the in between after all. The big guy returns and we run through them again. One of the unknowns worships Kahstol of his own free will. I decree he won’t be apart of the ritual, he’ll taint it. The other has me humming and hawing, do I gamble? I write a couple of protective runes on my skin then proceed to draw the ritual circle first in fire then in crushed chalk. I set up the fire pit with warming wine and preparing the mulling. I have enough goblets between what is within my pouch and what the cook has. I also put out a few bowls and put in them different resins, herbs, minerals. Apart of me knows I won’t be sober by the end of this. Higher states require it.

I force myself to relax. One follows Pyrico, he is placed upon the node closest to Pyrico. One worships Druumbos, well, he’s not active, so I place him near Warmonger, several worship Warmonger, so they are placed on several nodes close to him. Then there’s two that worship Feruuk. They too are placed upon nodes that line up to Warmonger. A follower of Racknor, god of slaughter. I contemplate, I don’t know if that god is awake or away. Again, the node lines up with Warmonger. The unknown gets placed by Nameless. He’s been helping me more than hindering. I look it over and dig my toes into the earth. It is time.

I first drink a potion to strengthen my vitae. Then I begin calling the gods, starting from the outer ring. The Keeper of Secrets is Sharlond, and it is she whom I give a good length of black silk that would make a couple of perfect cloaks with stealth properties. I hope she leaves enough for one or two. In an ebony goblet I pour wine, calling to her to come and oversee the ritual, to keep it from enemy eyes, keep its inner secrets silent to the uninitiated, and to dampen any magical residue and cloak my magical signature so my enemies will not know what I’m capable of.

Next is Vyrta, Lady of Death is the aspect I call her in. Please allow the souls I call to enter and bar any other. If a soul I call will intend me harm, please keep it out, Pale Lady. To her I give a beautiful peacock ore skull, it was crafted upon the Fire Plane. In a bone goblet carved with canine skeletons I pour her wine. It is my vitae that I will be using to bring back each individual that chooses to come back. If they choose not, then please inform their God that they will be on their way.

I dance slowly around the circle that will be the border of the in between. I sing an old song that goes back several generations on my grandfather’s side, calling to the Ladies of Secrets and Death, humbling asking for their help to keep me safe and those who decide to breath life anew. Then it’s to the inner ring, the ring of Gods.

First I pour a goblet of gold full of the mulled wine and dedicate it to Pyrico, God of Renewal and Rebirth. I ask him for a sliver of his mighty energy to help me renew the bodies of the fallen so they may live again in their old shells. I give to him a several fireweed seeds so he may have the medicinal plant grow in his woods. It needs fire to grow and the seeds to germinate.

Second is Warmonger, the goblet of bone and not adorned as he’s a rough warrior. Only his wine is plain and not warmed, somehow I feel he would have been offended if the elven wine had been mulled. To him I give the head of the necromancer that I killed. I thank him for the strength to kill my enemies, and ask that he grants me the strength of vitae to bring back these fallen so they may help me wage war against the Kabal, help me get Doll back, if it is their will.

Third goblet is a beautiful work of art, made of spun glass, cobalt, and gold. Simple, elegant. Perfect for the Lady of Waters, the great mother who has powers to give and take life, Syrenia. I place a gold bowl that is reserved for her during my rituals, water is poured in and I place a dark blue gem in the water for her. You give us blood to pump in our veins, I ask for you to give the risen blood so they may live.

Nameless, my old friend, my tormentor and teacher, God of Shadow and Madness, please help me come through this unscathed, but don’t cause me madness. Open the gate to the in between so I may speak to the dead that I call in. His goblet is pewter set with a black and a white diamond. To him I give a trick coin. It’s something I’m certain he would enjoy playing with amongst mortals.

To Ylena I give the spine and tail of the first beast I killed when I arrived to the Prime. A barbarian warrior was going to fashion it into a whip for me, but he has long since disappeared, before the Phelmyr. Her goblet is a fine porcelain, painted with a bear and cub. Ylena I thank you for your help and the calmness you grant me. I must ask that you repair the bodies so that they may live.

This is why they needed to be painted in the mud and ash.

I know Quillar is gone, but surely someone resides over air. A silver goblet is poured as I call for a representative of Air to hear me and please attend. The men will need air in their lungs, I will need the smoke caged in the casting circle, please come and attend. My give was myrrh resin.

Another is missing, Vrynith of Light. So I call to his court, to the stars above the mist, part the mist and look this way. The ones who help the plants to grow, light the way in the darkness, I need you to guide the souls to their bodies correctly. A golden goblet is placed down, with a silver mirror beside it.

I go around the circle again, inviting the Gods to drink the wine, our poor water of life.

Then it’s to the Council of Five, the gods of magic. As much of the death was caused by a wand being destroyed, I lay the pieces amongst them. Their giblets are enameled and pretty. The broken wand, a snippet of my hair, a whisker from Daniel are their gifts.

I toss some frankincense and myrrh powder on to the fire and breath it in, followed by a sploosh of wine, then a small pinch of mineral powder. The smoke darkens and the scent is heady. I cut my finger and mix blood and wine in a bowl. Now I anoint the dead, calling their name, asking them to join me as I draw a line on their brow, then ask their God to allow him to join me. I wish to make amends for the death by accident and begin to make a bridge of trust towards the same goal. Each man gets the symbol of their God upon his chest. I do this for each man, til I get to the one who follows a God unknown. If you be a friend, join me. If you follow a God who’s a friend join me. Lady Vyrta If he is an enemy bar his entrance. Nameless, watch this one for me.

He gets the Gods Vyrta, Nameless, Feruuk on his chest.

I move, dancing and singing, putting more resin and mineral powders into the fire. Now I begin to drink some of the wine as I inhale the smoke. I do this repeatedly, getting heady and feeling the energy. Then I almost collide into a spirit!

I can see him in the smoke. The smoke swirls as he moves. It swirls as I move. There’s more than one! I make my way, inclining my head to each one. I don’t speak, they wouldn’t understand my native tongue. Exalted I dance more, throw more things into the fire and take the last sip of wine. I’m about to restart the song when pain erupts.

My shoulders! My wings! Oh Gods, my wings are on cold fire!

I now realise two things. I’m naked in my natural form. And my feet aren’t touching the ground! Looks like blood covered ice shard spears come at me from all directions. I see myself!

My legs, arms, wings, shoulders, parts of my torso are impaled! Ice shards from the sphere? Yes there’s a sphere around the area! Have impaled me. Up in the ground they branch out racing to the bodies. They are forming a net-like web, connecting me to each of them. I see the bodies raise a bit from the nodes. There’s a pulse of warm pinkish light from the webs, pulsing like a heart beat. The spirits are pulled into the webbing, they are blue white specks that don’t pulse.

Then I’m standing in a misty space, darkish and grey. The spirit realm, it lacks warmth. The men look confused and uncertain. Then I notice 2 dwarves: Jern and Azerite. I look for Phaeron, he’s not here. I ask them how’d they get here, apparently black shard spears from the outer ring got them. I shake my head, that was the ring of stealth… does this mean Sharlond isn’t active? I am certain my lines are perfect. Then I hear Nameless giggle, like old Nameless. I relax, it wasn’t me, it was Nameless. I murmur a thank you and point out that he should have asked the Dwarves first. I understand Jern’s presence, he’s my closest friend from this plane, but Azerite? I know him not, and last I saw him he was drunk. He seems soberish now.

Is he a relative of Jern’s?

I’ll find out later and turn to the task at hand.

‘I am Ishnaferya, you passed, no died in the last battle, many by an exploding wand, some by our enemy’s hand. I desire to make amends as the wand was in the hands of one of mine. Your death was an accident.’ It seems like a good start, engage them.

They take it in stride that they’re dead. Good. Means none should go insane.

We get talking, I explain it is by their choice that they return to the living or not. They can go in peace to what their Gods have awaiting their arrival. The follower of Raknor laughed at this idea. I may be able to recruit him.

We talk further.

‘I want to see this world freed. The Kabal are strangling it, and it will die if they continue. I seek to kill the Kabal as I find them. Release the slaves. I want to undermine the Mage Lords and hit them where it hurts. I want to kill Xystus or be amongst those who do. They can banish me but I’ll be back to fight them again and again until True Death claims me. I brought back Pyrico,’ I look to his follower, ‘Warmonger has charged me with bringing back Doll,’ I look to the group of his followers, ‘He has declared war upon the Unicorn god, and his followers. I want to get my brothers freed. I want to regain my sister’s stolen soul. There will be fights and battles,’ I assure them, ‘As long as I live, there will be war.’

‘You promise that I can slaughter?’ Raknor’s man has his priorities I see. Can I handle him?

‘Yes. There will be attacks where all their deaths are necessary, then there will be fights where there are objectives. But I do give the kill them all command as situations dictate.’

‘Means you’ll have to reign it in when she tells you!’ Shouts one of Feruuk’s men. Yes, law and order is their bread and butter. But the one that has been talking seems satisfied, and he asks how to get back.

I offer him a hand, ‘Touch me,’ I tell him. He does so and disappears. No doubt racing along the webbing to his body. Another touches me as well. I can feel my heart falter but continue strong. Then another, a little more of my vitae is taken, but I can do far handle it.

There’s more talking, people weighing their options. Then I falter. It takes me a moment to stand. Jern and Azerite offer to help, yet each time nothing happens, and when I touch them I’m not replenished. Nameless chuckles. Are they need to witness? A man of Warmonger asks if I’m sure, I nod my consent, and he goes. My breathing is hard afterwards, but I force myself to stand. Then as the next one touches me, Jern lays a hand on my leg, I can feel the pull of vitae from him as mine also goes. He keeps his hand there and another touches, and I’m feeling woozy. Azerite joins in and now they’re both being pulled lessening my sacrifice. I’m thankful, perhaps I’m selfish? Or I’m realistic.

Finally the one who no one knows who his god is is left. He’s been silent, watching. His eyes weighing the options. I know there’s a question I need to ask but I forget what it is. He touches me, draining not so much from me but pulling hard on Jern. Thank the Gods that vitae replenishes like a near empty bowl of water in a rainy day. I wobble a little but I’m here.

I look around, the in between is nifty.

‘How do we get out?’ Right! The other rituals ended naturally with an explosion of energy. This one is more subtle.

‘By blood,’ I tell him, offering a nail. ‘Cut your palm, and spill blood into the fire, speaking-’

I’m cut off as a feral roar sounds. I didn’t invite any feral gods….

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Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt. 23
In which we held hands and fed some ghosts

Post battle investigation brought attention to the result of some kind of major blast that had gone off during the battle. Daniel and Clarence lay in the midst of it, alongside a good number of the gladiators. Went to get them to triage and spotted a carved stick of some kind beside Daniel, broken in half. Called Ameira over, and she confirmed that this was probably a wand, and then when busted, it probably dumped all it’s charges at once.

Seems like one of the gladiator wagons got obliterated in the destruction. Most of it. A wheel survived, that we are apparently going to salvage with help from the “archer”, whose primary job was keeping their transportation in working order.

After the bodies were separated into piles depending on who they were, Ameira and I went to disengage them from their gear. One of the gladiators took up position between us and his fallen brethren. He was not keen on us taking their stuff. Wouldn’t hear a word of reason, but Ameira seemed to convince him by offering to bring the lot back.

Needed to try and talk to the cook, get some lavender and salt, not to mention any information on who the dead were and what gods they worshipped. She responded in iron. A lot of it. Very stubborn this one. Very deluded about what we could use lavender and salt for too. Eventually stepped away. Gave her a couple things to think about, and was going to let her hopefully calm down and come to her senses. Jorin came over and offered his own efforts.

He just walked in, grabbed her, and pulled her out of the wagon. Told him to drop her, that we weren’t just going to scavenge the possessions of the living. He seemed confused, but Ameira came over with a compromise; tossed some coins at the cook and took what she wanted.

Got busy setting up the stones and wood for the ritual firepit. Sounded like Ameira was having some difficulty sorting out who believed in who. Guess some worshipped death unicorns and other shitheads? Fuck those people in particular.

The ritual begins, with myself on the outside keeping people from interfering.

Time passes, gods are being called, something seemingly goes wrong, and Ameira is impaled by ice. Ice that splinters out from all its’ sources like a web, interconnecting all her and all the bodies. Call to her to confirm that she’s alright, but most of these rituals seem to have an aspect of fucking up the user, so it’s not time to panic.

That time Did however arrive shortly after, when the outer ring shot shadowy tendrils out that tore through me and the drunkard.

Eyes opened a moment later, and we were elsewhere. Seemed to have joined back up with Ameira in some kind of shadow realm, and she was as confused as us. Our vitae is going to be used to help draw back those who passed, and their spirits whom we found ourselves surrounded by seemed impatient, so I shut up and let her do her thing.

The spirits each took their turns being convinced to go back, and then taking energy from Ameira to wander off back to the real world with. She began to grow noticeably weaker, so I offered to shoulder some of the burden.

Each touch drained my vitality, but once a connection was made, it seemed to last without further issue. Could definitely feel my energies being passed through her as the spirits departed so it was working.

As the last of the dead left, it was just the three of us. Confirmed that Ameira did in fact know how to get out of here, but before she could walk us through it, something loud and feral made it’s presence known.

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Cross road

Life was pretty good, we were decently taken care of, good meals good fights and great ale, tho I quickly changed my out look of my situation when one of the higher ups sucked the life out of another gladiator. So a choice was set before me weather set by pyrico or fate I had to choose, either I stay and risk that happening to me one day or go with the could be psychos (so far not). Now I march down a new path….

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Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt. 22
In which we succeeded in murdering some strangers

The fire erupted, engulfing the area around the slavers’ camp. Rather than escape through the bottleneck, they opted to arm their fighters; gladiators and mercenaries; and take formation between the walls. Ameira provided information about one of the mages, a commander who when hurt, sapped life from one of the slaves to knit shut his own wounds. A pronounced asshole well deserved of the best we had to offer.

After a few moments wait, a few of their warriors rushed forwards towards where we were stood, waiting. One with an axe and blade took a swing at the air around me, leading me to dodge directly into the way of another’s axe. It bit in and jarred me out of sidestepping a left hook coming in from a third.

They seemed to expect me to be much more hurt by their combined efforts than I was, but I still rewarded them with a spat glob of blood on the ground, before adding my own strikes to the party. Let the slave with the gauntlet know that we’re here for their captors, and brought the bastard with the greataxe down to a knee. Caught a glimpse of another one of the slaves, a Dwarf, looking kind of confused and uncertain in the middle of their camp.

A sudden pain wracked through my mind, linked through Ameira’s butterfly if her sudden scream in my mind was any indication. Shook it off as best I could, but it still left my nerves on edge. Didn’t have time to wander over and see how she was doing unfortunately, as I still had 3 of their number attacking me, however, that number quickly changed, with the slave taking my advice and turning to face his captors, 2 more rushing over towards us, and the dwarf taking arms at our side shortly after.

Traded a few more blows with the big bugger with the big axe, while his friends got in their cuts and scrapes. Thought I heard a sucking sound inside his chest as I slammed Princess into it, and it seemed he heard that too, as he was too distracted to avoid his head being crushed by my next blow.

At some point in the melee I heard Ameira cry out, Phaeron’s heart was stopped somehow. Wasn’t sure what all I could do for him, but made him my focii as I began channelling energy through my movements.

A moment later I spotted him moving out of the corner of my eye. Would’ve sighed a breath of relief, but I opted to focus instead on my own survival.

The caster was apparently still up and being a twat, as I felt my heart nearly pulled out of my ribs. Pounded my chest a couple times and swallowed the feeling down. The gauntlet gladiator’s adversary didn’t fare so well, as said gauntlet pushed through meat and bone and extracted his.

Last couple threats were extinguished quickly. An archer that had been firing at the clouds this whole time let loose another arrow that zipped by Ameira. The two of us moved in on him. Advised that he’d be wise to step down. He agreed.

Took up his weapons and put them away.

Gathered up the lot of the gladiators, Ameira went to find the cook. She found her. And her frying pans. Plural. Very fucking plural. The cook offered no name, and closed the door to her wagon. Put herself under siege. Not the wisest move tactically, but she does have the food.

Separated the corpses from their magical gear, and put them aside for burial rights. Wonder how many more of these fools are out here, and how many more we’re going to start running into once they realize their people aren’t coming home.

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