A Light in the Dark

Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt: 29

Once everyone had a chance to rest up, we got to work carving out a trapped moat, as well as other pitfalls. Trying to set up as much of a bottleneck as possible. Found the earth was carving away under my blows faster and faster as I went along; shaking free and collapsing to the ground.

We got the moat roughly halfway done when I felt vibrations akin to approaching footsteps. Warned the rest of the crew in the pit, and then was called up by Ishna. Communicated for everyone else to come up from the trench. Boons were cast and we got into positions.

As the bastards started getting into range, Ishna began some kind of dance, playing with flames. Wasn’t too sure what exactly the point was until a third of them started meandering mindlessly towards her, seemingly in some kind of trance.

Would have been a great opportunity if one of their wizards hadn’t dropped darkness on us.

Things kind of started to go sideways from there.

Ishna dove into a group and went to town on one of their casters. Someone came up and took a swing at me, which I deflected to the ground before bringing my hammer down on his shoulder and side with a cracking sound.

Sighed as another sloppy swing came at me, and swatted the blade out of his hand, before continuing to push his shoulder further into his chest. By a significant margin. Kicked his corpse over before he realized he’d died and turned my eyes onto the next.

The next carved a chunk off Azurite’s beard and went to call him a shortbeard. At least, I assume that’s what he was trying to say, his jaw splintered into paste before he could get the whole word out. Shame. Will have to get princess something to wash the taste out of her mouth asap. That all said, it was a good thing that Ishna was speaking telepathically, because I don’t think she’d have been able to push that much info out of her mouth as quickly as she was getting it across. A constant stream of battlefield updates. Apparently there’s a mage somewhere stealing souls, and they’ve been made a high priority target.

Will get to that as soon as I’m able, but for now I had enough to deal with already as another foe stepped up and took a swing at Azurite. Crashed their weapon to the ground and pushed their skull inside their ribs. Shortly afterwards I could feel the ground beginning to shift under my feet, and not in a good way. Leapt forwards and managed to avoid the pit of acid opening up beneath myself, Azurite, and our third. Fortunately they both had the same idea.

Our line charged forward, and spotted Slithilak and another engaged with a couple of the enemy spellcasters. Crushed one into the ground, literally, and turned towards the 2nd.

Took a step towards him and had the previous caster’s skull give way under my foot, throwing me off balance. Corrected my stance and took another swing at his chest. I was expecting more resistance.

I guess if I’d have been spending less energy focusing on fighting, and more on listening to the constant stream of rapid fire instructions and emotions being broadcast in my head, I might have been more aware of the fact that the rest of the enemy lines were being quickly dwindled away. Before I knew it, those who remained were either surrendering or running.

Walked over to where Ishna was interrogating some ponce. Apparently he’s travelled through time but is only here due to a malfunction? Probably full of shit. Leastways I thought so until he asked me about being outside of my time, and knew of Princess.

Ishna walked away suddenly and started dealing with the corpses. Shortly afterwards there was a burst of flame, and the bodies started moving. More people wandering about getting chatted to by her that I don’t know.

Eventually I’m called over to learn the ritual of passing. One more into the book.

Going to rest well after all that. For as short as the battle was, it seemed to take a hell of a lot longer.

Preparing for War

After we fought the last menagerie of awful people, we traveled a little while longer. Eventually we came to a hill, and it was decided that was where we would make our stand. It seems that there’s going to be a war no matter what – the only choice we have is where we fight it.

A few things have happened. 1. Before we left the last camp, an… associate??? of Ameira’s, an extremely fancy man (Efreet?) showed up, and proceeded to gift me a bag of holding full of potions. Very nice of him, so obviously he’s going to want something in the future. In the meantime, this might be what keeps my allies and myself alive, so I’m not going to waste time worrying about it.

2. Dwarves can sing. I didn’t realise that. Maybe Jern is right and I’m super racist. Probably.

3. Ameira led a ritual to summon the gods of war, in preparation for the upcoming battle. I joined in, thinking it’s what my goddess would want me to do, and also thinking that it’d be nice to contribute. It was… exhilarating, honestly. We danced and tumbled and fought in a trance-like fever, until the gods appeared, like silhouettes through smoke, fighting and filling the circle with a strange energy… and then it was over, and I pretty much passed out. Was given water by the cook who thinks I’m not a man (what does she think I am?? A talking hedgehog???).

Now I’m resting, and preparing. Sorting out bandages, potions, and various salves and so on. I have a new bow I’ve been practicing with a little as well, so maybe I can finally hit someone at a distance.

All in all, things haven’t been as horrible as they might have been. I’ve survived, after all, and with all limbs intact – so far. Ameira is surprisingly kind, I think she’s genuinely trying to take care of all of us. Pretty big burden for someone who already seems pulled in five hundred directions. Azurite is… Azurite, he likes to hit things. He joined in the ritual as well, and every time I happened to spot him, he was grinning and punching something, so I think he was having a good time. Jern, the dwarf who says we are all racist, was on the drums. Or, more like a chunk of tree, but maybe that’s the dwarven way? His skin is stone at the moment as well, I’m assuming because the gods like to annoy him.

We have some strange allies, but everyone else wants us dead, so… good luck to us, I suppose.

Ritual and Gods
Is This How Humans Feel? Like They Don't Have Enough Time?

As N’Kosh and I return to camp, we can hear Princess happily eating something magical. ‘I sure hope it’s not something we need,’ I say offhandedly. We separate and I notice an Efreet in our camp. He’s dressed well, monocle, top hat, vest. Yes, I know him. And I cuss him out, ‘Is today the bloody day we show our enemies our allies!’ I’m angry about this.

We exchange pleasantries, on his side at least. My side not so much. Dariel seems besmerched by his presence. Probably a mild enchantment. I’m not terribly upset by it. Thus far nothing foul is amist, though he may start reporting to the Efreet in exchange for a pouch of potions. Meanwhile he tosses me a small idol, a firecat. Its enchantment is potent. I inquire about it, apparently it’s meant to make it difficult for those who pursue me. I touch the cool pearls, that’s what this does. The idol takes care of location magic. Nifty. I see a small hole in it, I can string it up. But attach to where? For now I put it in my pouch, I’ll have to put it somewhere more secure. I inquire about my enemies: the demon who aids Xystus, the Efreet bastard, and the beast that chased me on the Shadowplane.

It is Death. It has crossed over. Where is it? He doesn’t know. I feel the chill of fear. I shove it aside. I don’t sense it. It hasn’t found me yet. I purse my lips. How do I kill it? Even Death can be killed. He doesn’t know.

I thank him, and poof, he’s gone. I have stuff to think on. I wish for my brothers!

We talk a bit, then watches are watched and we sleep in turns. Well, most of us do, I’m unable to fall into revery. I’m frustrated and angry. I give into my anger and take it out on Phearon, much to Jern’s possible annoyance.

The next morning we go through the loot, divying it up. Fyraiia was busy, as was Jorrum.

Then we travel. During travel we are looking for a knoll by the river. Raised ground, water, yes, we will take the advantage. I study the skull goblet that Warmonger gifted me. And it is impressive! Fast healing, strength increase, it is beautiful. No draw backs of weaknesses, and it enhances my duel fighting. I give thanks to the uncouth god, I salute a bottle of elven wine and take a sip.

During one of our meals I explain to the gladiators that by sharing my vitae, they are members of my tribe. I won’t hold it to them, however, but explain that there are ritual requirements for people. Some allow for outsiders, others need tribesmen, more potent ones require clansmen. It’s important. They will never be forced to partake, but I would be greatly honoured by it. I may make it more official later, but for now, I have a couple more students willing to learn.

We find a suitable location, and I call the dwarves to me, can you dig me a safe place with a ramp for the horses and wagons? The dwarves converse, then begin digging. And singing. I’m shocked by this, but it makes sense. Some of the humans assist in small ways. The rest of us keep watch.

Hours later, I collect a bucket of dirt, then go around and ask for some blood. 3 to 5 drops should suffice. Some give freely, others question and I explain. Blood magic definitely makes them weary. Good.

I set about mixing elven wine, I will need to replenish my supply eventually, dirt, blood, water from the river, until I have thick mud. I add in a gold coin that I melt and mix in. Very pretty. I begin making patties of mud and put them on the knoll. Gods of War are the first tier. I include Syrenia. I put Uthern and Warmonger at opposites, Zesphyr and Breck are near to each other and Warmonger. Syrenia is by the water. I include the Destroyer, and Rajaal of the Hunt. They do have their place in this war. The next tier is the Five. Inside the knoll I place Trykus, Ylena, and Audeyoola.

We discuss how to summon the gods’ attention. Sparring. That seems appropriate. I explain the chants, how to follow, the intentions. My usual friends jump in. Some of the gladiators do too. I ask the cook to make us a good meal. Even Dariel wants to partake. I’m impressed.

Jern beats his log, he needs a new one. I dance, Psyren dance, the rest spar. They are having fun. It takes time for them to enter the state. I allow myself to slip, but I keep my false form, I ask that they allow me this so the enemies know not me. We fall into a trance, and a fine sweaty mist rises with figures in it. The mist and forms thicken. They are fighting too. The sounds of combat, smell of blood, battle roars, chanting of spells. It is electric!

The energy keeps building, it’s felt upon our skin. Then it’s like a silent explosion. The energy, weariness, whatever it be takes our strength. We drop. We feel good but tired. I fall into darkness, I’m ok with this.

I’m standing on a hill, but it’s different yet the same. I’m surprised by how good I feel. ‘Is there not a God you worship? You even call upon the Destroyer.’

The voice is behind me, male, accent unknown. I turn to look at the man. His eyes are dark and slanted, like my Guardian Chang, not like an elf. He’s human, I miss my Guardian. ‘Who are you?’ I inquire, not knowing him.

He asks about my intentions, that what I do is dangerous. I shrug, I have to do something. The Kabal hold all the power, we must use what we have. I remind him of his wife.

The only people who know what I was doing was those with me, and the Gods. I smile at him and we talk further and Zesphyr, the bear arrives. Literally, he’s a grizzly bear! At one point his wife’s mount and companion. This makes the God Breck, her husband. I smile and incline my head and give Zesphyr a piece of jerky. I begin to ask about Oceania. She is an elf.

She’s the predator aspect of nature. Her sacred space is in an underground city between Old Mysel and Old Zakaar. I ask more about it being underground, is it a city like what’s under the Phelmyr? Yes. Why? This isn’t the first time Vrynith disappeared. Now I’m curious. How’d he come back? No answer. I must solve that myself. This would have been long ago, so I asked about when did he ascend? Before or after? After. When did Oceania ascend? After. When did Ylena ascend? He smiles. During. She is human, older too, so probably more from old age or in battle. When did Warmonger? It’s complicated.

Warmonger appears and gives Breck heck. But I learn that Warmonger and Oceania hailed from the same world as my parents. Interesting. And Warmonger has been upon three worlds. Neat. I knew that there are more than one world upon the Prime.

I talk about my Guardian, bringing him back to life. I must bargain with Cruickshank and Chang. I get scolded for calling the tainted Triple Threat treacherous. They wouldn’t have turned of their own free will. And the Gods can undo the taint in death, this is good to know. I need Sharlond back. He may help me. I learn, through much pushing and shoving that my fallen king has been trapped. Imprisoned. On Tartarus! Zesphyr shows me as Breck refused to translate his growls. Oh by the Gods above! I failed to save him on that stormy night. I was accused of killing him, my innocence doubted. Matrim, Sara, and Toza defended me. I was subjected to many spells during questioning…..

I’m not yet ready to rescue him, but I will. I will cross between the two warring armies and get Bryntak back.

All three Gods jump and look in the same direction. I see a unicorn silhouette. How out of balance was the world before? Very. How out of balance are we now? Very. No no no…. it’s getting closer. Time for you to go, both Warmonger and Breck say then tap me on the head.

I start awake. How many people fear Xystus? Phaeron is near me, I force my dizzy self to get up. I need Fyraiia. I walk, stumble and crawl to the edge of the knoll’s top and when I begin to descend I fall. I roll with it, then drag and crawl to where Fyraiia is. She’s shocked to see me. I begin to ramble about what I learned. Kahstol doesn’t like it that I’ve learned a few things. I ask her about Tartarus, but I don’t explain the why. Not yet. I talk about Xystus aiming to ascend, and my mind brings up so many possible means. Now the horror settles in. Bringing back Pyrico sparked hope with delayed the ascension. He now needs to do it a different way. I’m rambling and Fyraiia asks me if I realise how I sound.

I tell her I’m not crazy. I’m not my mother. I’m not yelling at my reflection in the mirror. I’m not insane. Maybe I am? Kayshna did mention my crazy imagination. But damnit! I’ve talked to Gods all my life! I know I’m being defensive, but this isn’t the first time someone has mentioned that I maybe as insane as my mother.

I can’t keep my eyes open and I drop into revery, into memories of my mother during the Day of Repeat. I spied upon her when she was home….

Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt: 28

After divvying up the loot, we went wandering off to find a new place to set up camp.

Once we settled in, Ishna wanted a cave cut out of a cliff. Assigned myself and all the other Dwarves. Sigh. The rest of the lot began singing that “I Dwarf I dig hole!” song that became so popular among the other races. As if things hadn’t changed enough in the time I’ve been gone.

Got that sorted as fast as could be done, and just in time for Ishna to finish prepping another ritual. Something about calling on war gods.

I made my way into position and began drumming. Going to need to get a new log, as this one seems to be stating to give way under the blows from my hammers.

TIme progressed, dancers dances, fighters sparred, and before too long there were other figures in amongst the combatants. People I didn’t recognize and couldn’t hear, but they seemed to be revelling in the combat just as much as any of the others. Sounds of battle, roars, screams, laughs began to echo through a mist as it formed around the circle.

The ritual ends and I collapse to the ground, exhausted, alongside everyone else.

Overkill Much?
It's a party! But check your invites!

It’s not everyday when one meets a potential chosen of a god. Thing of the matter, I cannot decide if Shalyndora is the Chosen of Syrenia, as she has an apparent kinship with water or if Ylvania somehow claimed her for her skill of a scrying is beyond compare. These and annoyance at Brass Mage are floating through my head as the world shifts and my ears hear battle.

I open my eyes and see chaos. Thrice damnit! I look, take in the scope. Gronx and another are fleeing, who has the fear aura? He is extremely brave, I know this. I force myself to my feet. I survey the enemies. Damn! This is the planar force I was warned about. I swiftly summon an Illend to assist us. And that is what I request of her. She uses her music magic to boast our morale.

A medusa, a night hag, a harpy singing her death song, a noble salamander slithering beside an ice devil, and damn it, there’s a demon too. A damned Bebelith. They specialise in retrievals. And my people are scattered, fighting without tactic. Jern is stoned. Bloody Hells! “Ylena, we need Jern back, please if you are near, assist him,” I cast bladethirst and begin ordering people to take out foes better suited to their skills and abilities. I make my way towards the medusa. “Nameless, come and get your hag!” I contemplate dropping a darkness sphere, but Jorrum and Azerite are engaged with it, and 2 more gladiators, no, 1, no, 0. Thrice damnit! Lythan, shoot the harpy!

I fight the urge to fly up and engage her.

I call to Phearon to fight the harpy, call to the priest of Warmonger to assist Priest with the Bebelith. How to deal with the Ice Devil? I call to Azerite to disengage and fight the salamander. The ice sword with hurt it bad.


How I hate that name! He rolls it off his firetongue like he’s calling a favoured lover. He hates me, and I him. Kaaton. Asshole I always call him.

I continue directing, firing off my wand of magic missiles at the ice devil. It is immune to my fire, but force it is not. There’s a sudden in rush of people. I see humans. I see symbols of Warmonger. Allies.

“I want the Efreet!” I shout as I take in the elemental of fire. I use the bastard version of Shykish to talk to the new arrivals, and call out allies in case mine do not see the holy symbol. There’s another, predominantly on the women, but I know it not. The battle is definitely ours. The hag is dead. The medusa is weakening, and Jern is moving! Thank you Ylena!

The Bebelith now shifts out. Damnit, we made a new enemy! Or did we? Whatever.

I yell for Kaaton to fight me! He doubts that my people will back down when his back down. I laugh at him, he who has betted against me. He tells his slaves to pull back when mine do. No trust, between freemen and slaves. I call for mine to lower weapons, which has several arguing. I laugh. I have plans. And they know them not.

Slowly the battle comes to a halt then another group lands.

Bloody mages! I know the arrogant bastard in the lead and laugh again. Nameless leave my sanity be. Then I realise that they arrived casting.

“No! Not the Efreet!”

Damn him and his! This is overkill! No communication beforehand, just stroll in and do as they please! And no doubt with the Inquisition watching and nothing our strength!

I call him an idiot. An arrogant bastard. His people are not pleased by my blatant disregard of his power and authority. I don’t care. Jern asks if he’s the one who took me. I confirm and several of mine want to beat him. They do not know the power he has. I call them down and then disperse them to tasks. The dwarf trio and the berserker refuse to leave me. I acknowledge Shalyndora and her people. I tell her and the Brass Mage that this was overkill. Next time, contact me. I doubt that they realise that we just lost an edge.

Is that N’kosh? By Pyrico’s tail, it is! I choose to ignore for now.

There’s a wizard of Warmonger that’s leering at me in a disgusting manner. I snarl at him to remove his eyes. He chortles and I threaten to burn his eyes down, snapping my fingers and ready to roast him. He… shrinks. Backs down. What the hell?! Did the priest do something? Did N’Kosh?

Whatever, I invite them to the fire, get our people sorted, and grow concerned about Jern playing with the Medusa’s head. Priest scolds him, I try to not sound so condescending. I send off the spirits of the medusa and harpy, which I got plucked for Lythan’s benefit. Their feathers are good for fletching.

With people doing their business, the mage, Fretz, is ordered to take people back and return. He knows how to do the stone to flesh that will save our comrades. The Brass Mage has his stand aloof, no doubt boosting our defenses. I make somewhat nice. Again criticising their arrival in full force without contacting me or mine. The foolery of it. I learn Shalyndora’s husband is Altrix. He admits to working formerly for my aunt. I muse about a sorcessess such as Shalyndora being left untainted. But I think she has been conditioned to be loyal. Poor thing. She hides in her husband’s aura.Rixlowe is their priest and he doubted my statement of talking to, witnessing Warmonger. I told him to commune with his god then.

I explain my plan, my desire to make the Kabal fall. I explain how the taint works, how my mother worked hard to try and break it. I then crack into business. The warrior and his wife were high ranking. The mage lords don’t talk to each other. They can get me in to get Baelok! And maybe my twin’s body? Phaeron doesn’t like it, I shoo him off with a task. I can smell food cooking. I stand, business for now finished.

I look to N’Kosh, “Let’s go and talk family,” I invite. Does he hate me for my failures? Will he be chill to me like Pronkar? I must face this.

We travel out of most hearing, and sight. I need privacy, for I don’t want the others to see my punishment. I begin slow, explaining how I failed my siblings, failed his ward. I couldn’t meet his eyes. I failed. My guilt, no shame of this prevented it. But then he snarled at me to look at him. I do so, trying to hide my emotions, but his words cut sharp. I wince. He speaks harshly about my guilt. About my mind being twisted and including him. I want to hide. But I remain. He finally ends with if he had a problem with me, he’ll tell me.

It’s an invitation. Do I take it? Do I trust him. He’s my uncle.

“Do you have a problem with me?” The answer is yes. He shakes his head, and even opens his arms. Without thinking, I move in, I hug him tight like a woman drowning. He wraps his arms around me. I snuggle in, and the flood overtakes me. I start with ’Don’t tell Phaeron… the bastard broke me.’ The tears start and I can’t stop. I cry, no I brawl in my uncle’s arms, telling him of everything that happened to me. The arguments with Ystera and Elta, leaving my siblings alone, getting banished when I tried to find a safe place for my siblings, the poisonous air of the Fire Plane weakening me. The Salamanders capturing me, selling me off, the killing of the woman who was scared and tried to befriend me…. I wanted to live. Everything I told him. From using Gronx’s desire for me to better my situation, how Psyren used Salt water taffy to get me to talk to her, the fights, all the fighting, in and out of the pit. I’m certain his robe is soaked with my tears, but he doesn’t push me away. I feel safe. It takes a moment for me to realise that I’m in my natural form, but his cloak has moved to hide my form. I tell him about the rage I felt regarding the Brass Mage, when I thought him to be my father. The unreasonable, irrational rage, the feeling of being abandoned. He wipes my eyes with the corner of his sleeve.

Slowly, we head back to the group, shifting my form back to Ameira. I take a deep breath to settle myself. I still feel the shame, but I shove it away. I’ll prove myself and get over it. I cloak myself in the fires of rage, the better to keep myself warm.

Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt: 27

We don’t know where she went. Reccomended everyone get into guard positions and keep our eyes peeled, cause we’re not going to find her inside our wagon circle.

The Priest spotted incoming, and we moved into what would have to pass for tactical positions. I tried to block off one side past the wagons, though I couldn’t tell where the targets were quite yet.

Some weird song began to fill the air, and a huge number of our rescued ex-slaves began mindlessly wandering out of camp. Spat on the ground and made after them, trying to keep myself in between the poor sods and whichever of our foes was going to try and prey on them.

Opened my eyes in front of Nameless, in a small dark room. Apparently I’d been turned to stone, and the bugger was offering to turn me back. Wouldn’t give any information on what I’d owe him. Wasn’t sure that being in his debt was worth being reverted. He mentioned taking my wife, and then got slapped by some lady in green. He asked if I worshipped her. Explained that I knew nothing of her. I revere the stone. He sassed and was slapped again. Whoever the extra was informed him that I’m not his. I agreed, after what I’d been told about “Doll” bringing me here.

He asked once more if I wanted to go back. Said it’d be nice. Half way through the sentence I found myself back on the field, surrounded by chaos.

Took a moment to assess the battlefield, pIcked a nearby target, in a couple of big bastards that were tearing into Slithilic, and ran over to help him out. A moment later another huge force appeared off to the side and charged at our enemies.

Managed to save one of them from the Efreeti’s attack with my shield.

Ishna called out to stop fighting. Apparently she was back now. Everything else seemed to suddenly drop down around me in the same moment, including the Efreeti, much to her chagrin. Went over to the last beastie standing and knocked her torso off. Snake headed bitch. Think she was the one who turned me to stone.

After checking for any last threats, walked over to where Ishna was shouting at someone in robes with a mask on. Apparently he’s the sod who stole her away in the first place. Had her confirm that she didn’t want him beaten.

More conversation that I wasn’t part of. Walked over to where 2 others had been petrified. Asked Priest if he could talk to Nameless, have him turn these two back as well. He’d need to wait till tomorrow or later. Ishna found another individual who might be able to take care of the job himself.

Go over and collect the head of the snake-lady, wondering if anyone will be able to make use of it. Took a look at it, and had Priest calling me a moron. Explained that it’s pretty clearly dead, and I’m looking at it. It’s not working any more. He said that their heads still work. Ishna chimed in about that being true. Personal anecdotes mean nothing I guess. They wanted to know what Nameless did to me. Summarized what happened in.. whereever that was. They figured that the green lady was Ylena? Ok, cool.

Headed back to the wagon to get out of my armor. Things had just been feeling weird since I came back.

And now my skin is stone.

Stone doesn’t grow beards.

I am going to slay a god.

Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt: 26

Ugh, I am getting sick and tired of sitting in this wagon with nothing to do, other than staring out the window at our new prisoner.

Got asked to interrogate one of them, though I’m not too sure why. Of everyone in this camp, absolutely the least qualified to do so. I get a name, Nez, and that’s about as far as I can get before the task is taken over, thankfully.

Equipment gets handed out to the greens

Couple days of travel passed behind us, and we parked up beside a river. Took the opportunity to practice with Princess’ shape changing abilities. Got her to turn into a flower, but the following 20 minutes or so were less productive. Turns out she can get tired. Continued practicing maneuvers for a while before Ishna came over and told me to come. Expressed that I was busy. She then let me know that we’re doing the blood oath now. Let her know I’d join after my next set.

The ritual is quick. Oaths made, gifts given to the gods. Don’t really feel any different. Suppose I shouldn’t expect to.

We get cash gifts from Pyrico. 5PP per head. Slip those into a small pouch separate from the rest of the coin.

Before tucking in, our new half-elf was asking anyone if they wanted to help him worship? Not my thing. Night passes uneventfully.

Had a few words with Priest in the morning during my training. We packed up after and made off.

At some point afterwards, Ishna had us all standing around, chatting, and disappeared. No one seemed to be feigning surprise. We cannot scry on her, without excruciating pain.

This could be a problem.

I've Been Teleported!
My Encounter With the Mage in the Brass Mask

I’ve been…. teleported!

First scried, then taken from my army yet to be.

During the travel, or before, or upon landing, I have fire in my hand, wrapping around me like a protective lover. My scimitar is in hand and I have a spell on my lips. Yes, I’m ready for battle even as the world sways and sags. I hear the splash of water, muted when compared to the river I was settling down by. The air is cooler. I’m more north. Forest. But not the Phelmyr. Nor the Vrynmyr, I think.

‘Put your weapons down.’ A male voice. It’s a command from a wizard seated. The might of what he wears is impressive. There’s a woman, crouched. In shocked silence. No. Awe. Her eyes stare in amazement at me. As a child looks to a hero. That’s… unsettling. Her items are literally her hands and the orb in one. A hair comb. And a dagger. The dagger and orb are the strongest she has.

There’s a lake behind me. ‘Where am I?’ I demand, tightening the fire around me.

‘Safe,’ he replies. ‘Come, lets talk.’ He motions to the food before him. His lack of face annoys me. An old Arlanic distrust. He wears a brass mask. I walk slowly, dismissing my fire, I can take theirs. I put my scimitar back into its scabbard upon my leg. The woman is tense, yet begins to relax.

‘You can’t just steal people to talk to them!’ A delicate, very Xystic dialect is used by the demure woman. Her voice is sweet, even as she accuses him. Angry yet almost afraid to show it. ‘First you steal me! Then you steal her! We could have talked through my orb,’ she states then shrinks as he looks sharply at her. She begins to creep silently towards him and sits gracefully on the blanket, taking some of the food. Her black hair is up, in one of those fancy civilised buns. Her clothing is rich blue with black trim, a higher up in the courts it seems, though her feet are bare.

Interesting. Stealing women…. He doesn’t look like a slavery type. ‘Out with it then,’ I snap at him, my lack of patience clearly showing.

I approach and he scoops up food, some of it not right by him and then presents me the plate and gestures that I should sit. I’m annoyed. I have better things to do, but his eyes make me pause. Then grow angrier. His eyes are grey.

A specific grey.

Kane had eyes like this. So does N’Kosh. My sister too. That bitch Kishna. And also my father. But…. no. Not possible. Is it?

The food I look at. It’s meat heavy, savoury, and definitely some of my favourites over time. But not in recent meals. ‘Who are you?’ I ask.

The woman quietly names herself as Shalyndora. I regard her. She doesn’t look elven. The man doesn’t give a name, but a title: the Mage in the Brass Mask. Well, what’s your name? And your face. I get no where. It pisses me off honestly.

The arrogance radiates off of him. I want to take that mask….

I sit. I eat his food. He offers wine, to which I decline. The woman offers nectar, I accept. She pours herself some then fills my goblet. I wait for her to sip hers, which she does. Most mundane poisons do not affect me, fortunately, but still. Some of my ancestors died by poisoning.

’What’s this about? I have people wanting me back,’ I tell them after a swallow. I level a glare at him. He’s in charge, and the one to bring me here. He seems to be assessing me. I don’t shrink back but I bring the fire back to normal levels.

‘Information,’ he says. ‘For you.’

I set down my food, ready to get up and figure my way back to my friends, but I stop and sit back down. ‘The High Inquisitor wants the summoner,’ Shalyndora speaks, looking shyly at me. She stammers and lowers her eyes, ‘Former members of the Triple Threat are now Inquisitors,’ she gives me names of who are hunting me. I frown.

Not good. Not good at all. I know, rather knew most of them. I inhale and stand, ‘I need to get back,’ I look to the mage psion. Yes, I know what he is.

‘I have people enroute to you,’ she looks up at me. ‘Some are Triple Threat. Others are followers of Warmonger and Doll. My husband’s men will teleport in. And, he,’ she nods to the wizard, ‘has agreed to help.’

I arch a brow, ‘How?’ I ask her and she shrinks. Timid creature!

‘I scry,’ she whispers then smiles and looks at me, ’Fyraiia’s antiscrying magic was difficult to slip through,’ she tells me, ‘and fun. It’s what I do. People. Places. Things. I can find it,’ there’s confidence in her. This is her talent. Good. But why would a Seeress help me? Why would he? Too many questions for this angry woman.

He has moved closer, examining me more. ‘Find something?’ I ask with sarcasm dripping.

‘Yes, may I look?’ He motions to my neck. My hand goes there and I drop my eyes.

‘Why?’ I ask him.

‘I need to study it to remove it,’ he says. He seems sincere. I shake my head.

‘I don’t feel like dying tonight. Last person who looked at it caused me to die in agonising white pain,’ I inform them. The woman points out that I’m alive. ‘Pyrico choose to interfere and save me,’ I reply.

The man is still studying, ’I’ll examine it carefully,’ he says reassuringly. I contemplate, sip the nectar, then down it. Finally I nod and kneel. He crouches beside me and I move the hair. He murmurs several incantations and begins to do his thing.

Then it happens! The pain, not as bad as before. Almost as bad as when it was applied. I close my eyes and begin to do controlled breathing to move pass the pain. My hands move onto my knees and clench. It’s a pulling feeling, like pulling roots out of the earth. The pain increases gradually, I’m refusing to cry out. The roots are barbed. And still it pulls, slowly, excruciatingly slowly, out of my flesh. I feel blood trickle out. I start to crumple but remain silent as the sweat begins to bead upon my brow, back, between my breasts. My fists tighten, my breathing shortens, but I remain silent as the barbs become electrical. Finally I gasp as my flesh feels like it’s being torn. My wings come out and hit him, hard. My tail darts to slice him. Instinctively I want him to stop, but I know I mustn’t. I growl through clenched teeth and get my appendages under order. I heave my breath and gasp again as more tearing happens. My fists clench tighter, talons digging in.

Then it just stops. I begin to fall forward. His hand catches my shoulder to keep me upright. I’m breathing hard. I’m tired. The woman is staring at me without fear. But with pity. No sympathy, she offers me a drink. Shakingly I take it and sip. ‘What did you do?’ I ask once I find my voice.

‘I removed it,’ he states. I’m surprised. Why?!? Then I see his hand. It’s there. I stand and refuse the dizziness.

‘What have you done?’ I demand of him. Rage coming back, giving me strength. ‘Tempering could have destroyed my weapon’s sheath! It could have killed me!’

‘It didn’t though,’ he states. I want to hit him. My fists flex and unflex.

’You’re an idiot! The bastard that dares to claim ownership uses that to track me! Now he’ll track you. His will follow and the Kabal behind them! You are a damned fool. Did you not think this through? You now endanger your people.’

’You’re welcome,’ he’s studying me yet again. ‘Your ordeals clearly have ruined your gratitude.’

‘Oh Pyrico, keep me from doing something reckless,’ I growl through teeth in my Mother’s tongue, looking up to the heavens, honestly seeking help to be civil.

‘Pyrico, I suspect is busy right now.’ His reply is in Xystic.

My head snaps to him. Father? Yes! No! A mix of emotions boils in me. My fist comes back then snaps forward hitting him in the lower chest. ‘You leave us as Strom falls! We looked for you and Mother, leaving a trail! And now you come to help?! After we needed you! Now you come? Where’s Mother? Did you finally kill her?’ Rage, it seems wins. I had to take care of my siblings, and I failed horribly. My words are still in my Mother’s language, the woman doesn’t need to know our business. She in fact has retreated to the water, seeking refuge. A water seeress?

He rubs the spot I punched, ‘What did you say?’ He asks. Am I mistaken? No. He’s playing ignorance, and I want to hit him again.

Instead I growl in the tongue of trade, ‘I only know of one wizard psion. He had a habit of trying to kill my mother.’ I keep my uncertainty to myself. Angry tears form, but i don’t shed them. I force myself back into Ameira skin.

‘I can see why you would be angry if you thought I the man who tried to kill your mother,’ it’s almost gentle. Who in the Infernal Pits if the Abyss is this bastard!? I nod, turn away and study the seeress.

‘Perhaps it’s time to go back to our companions.’ She nods, and then is gone. But I’m still here. I found upon him again. ’I’m needed!’ I snarl.

‘Cool yourself and lets talk further.’ I head to the water and wash up. Water is warm and calming.

‘Thank you Syrenia,’ I whisper to the water. I’m calmer, the mark is gone. I move to the fire to dry up and braid my hair in a new style. ‘What do you want to talk about?’

‘I would like to look at your leg tattoo.’

‘No. Absolutely no. You said you wanted to look at my neck tattoo and instead you rip it out and wear it on your hand. You did not ask permission. You did not speak truth of your intention.’ I refuse to budge, I know it has tracking even though he says no, it doesn’t. Maybe Pyrico changed it? Or the mark he took makes him blind?

I refuse and threaten further violence. He comments that I have changed. I snarl how would he know, my anger returning. Is this Dizmot? Did he manage to kill my Mother, Vryntaea? I shake my head to clear it.

‘I must apologize, not all of mine will come to your aid,’ he says. I shrug, not having expected any aid given that I struck him.

Instead, I offer, ‘If any of yours fall, I will bring them back to full life.I will need their names and chosen Gods, but I can and will do it.’ He declines, ‘By what right do you sent this offer? If they do not want to rreturn they won’t and I will ensure their Gods take them. There are no true Gods of death.’

He says he’ll discuss it. We discuss Shalyndora. I comment that she has power to her, and may be the Chosen of Syrenia or the Seeress, or both. He seems perplexed but agree that she is a scathing protege. Good, I have people and books for her to find. We talk about the missing Gods and my plot to bring them back, my plot to save my brothers. Dreams of grandeur.

And then finally, he allows me to return to mine, after giving me yet more food. And salt water candy, my favourite.I do hate teleporting.

Everything is slightly worse than before.

So, I might as well put the biggest news out there first – I have a new goddess!

I just wanted to do the right thing. Honestly. I felt bad about insulting her, and wanted to make things right (and, all right, I wanted to cover my butt). I didn’t realize that asking forgiveness would offend her. Fortunately, she allowed me to live, on the condition that I serve her. She’ll give me my tasks when she sees fit, I suppose, and if I can’t fulfill them… well, I die. I guess I should have known better than to get sentimental. My mother always used to say, “better to ask forgiveness than permission”, and to that, I have to say, “Mom, you’re fucking stupid sometimes.”

I still miss her, though.

Anyway. In other news, Ameira has disappeared. (It’s not Sameera, after all. Why can’t she stick to one name, anyway? Or one face? Does she just get bored??) And by disappeared, I mean literally. Just suddenly vanished in the middle of conversation. So that pretty much blows very hard indeed.

You see, we are being followed, and apparently, it’s by ex-Triple Threat members! Fantastic. We were going to set up camp in a defensive position along the river – logical, fine – but then our commander up and vanished, and we can’t find her anywhere. Magic-users tried scrying, and nothing, we’re blocked. So someone’s obviously taken her. Good fucking luck to them.

I’m pretty much just waiting to see what happens now. If everything looks like it’s going to fall apart, I’ll try to get away. I don’t mind fighting alongside these people, but one near-death experience per week is about all I can handle. And I can’t help anyone if I’m dead, anyway.

In smaller news, I think Azerite’s warming up to me. At least, he doesn’t dislike me enough that he minds helping me kill people. Priest thinks I’m a moron, which is fine, because, well, he’s had abundant proof of that. But he also literally never removes his helmet (he wore it bathing, not even kidding), so I figure he’s got his own issues, honestly.

I’m not sure how I feel about the others. There’s an awful lot of bald dwarves around for some reason. Psyren (NOT the other name, which I will never even write again) seems nice and willing to be entertained. Loads of muscular men around as well, many of whom I suspect are escaped slaves. Some of them have brands on their skin.

One of the bastards who attacked us is with us as well, spared after interrogation by our magnanimous leader. Which is fair, I guess, on account of she let me join them, too. He has my shitty old armour, so best of luck to him. I traded that crap for some studded leather elven armour, so I am maybe a little less likely to die now.

I guess we’ll see.

A River May Be a Good Barrier
Where the Hell did I go?!

Jern and I questioned the prisoner. Darienyal asked a few questions. But seems that either Nez is trying to just get by or he’s a good liar. Either way, we shuffled some armour and got him equipped.

One of these days this judgement will bite me in the ass. Please not this week.

We travel. We always travel. But! There’s water! I can hear it. So can the others. The horses seem happy about it too. We push on, and to everyone’s glee, the fast waters has a couple of eddy pools that are calm enough for us to wash in. Good, because my nose was getting tired of sweaty bodies. Males always smell so strong.

I shared some of my ill gotten soap with them. There’s complaints of how it burns; what do they expect from Efreet soap?

But bathing was great. Those who weren’t slaves seemed rather surprised that we stripped down and bathed together with weapons near by. Eh, they’ll get over it, or not.

I called to Jern, Sslith’lac, Gronx, and Psyren for the blood bonding ritual. They all came, save for Psyren, who didn’t seem too thrilled about the idea. Pity. But Phaeron’s rejection still hurt more.

It’s a quick rite. I call in Syrenia, as the judge. I trust her, it seems. Pyrico as my chosen patron, Ylena to represent earth as Jern respects and worships. For Sslith’lac I scribed in the symbol for patient mentor, as that is our relationship. For Gronx it was the mark of body guard, we have that bond.

I gave to the gods platinum coins and Elven wine. All but Pyrico took the coins. Pyrico gave us each 5 coins. I’m very surprised and honoured by his gift. They all drank their wine.

Danieyal came to me afterwards to ask about rites, and invite all to join him. Interesting, except he mentioned that he offended one. Which one? The fierce lady of waters, Syrenia. He explains his crime and I give him a solution. In the morning I help him with setting up a ritual, using her aspect of mother.

It worked! Extremely well. She came. I was respectful and remained silent, allowing him to barter with her. Her challenge to him shall prove interesting. For if he fails, I know I will be tasked with sending him to her, very much alive. He best not fail.

We travel on to a point to cross. Phearon isn’t happy with my decision to fight alongside the river. I refuse to budge. He went in a straight line. We have outsiders and former Triple Threat members after us. Growl. I will not bend, and he finally gives in.

With the men, we manage to turn the fallen logs we found into a bridge, I burn the logs flat so the wagons can cross. Then I burn them to ashes. We move on towards the forest which is when I call for a slow down. We can’t take them back to the base. I won’t be responsible for another group getting destroyed.

We set up camp and explain the dire situation better to those present. Yes. We have a snowball’s chance in hell for being successful. But remember, one pit is a frozen wasteland. We are in the middle of discussing watches when I feel a sudden shift.

Oh fuck no. The last words that I manage to my fellows before I’m shifted to a forest.

It’s a lovely forest…. To have fire wrapped around me, my scimitar in hand and a spell upon my lips. What greats me?

A lovely, demure woman with deep blue eyes and black hair done up in a messy yet delightful updo. And a male with grey eyes peering from behind a brass mask. I don’t like him. The woman is looking at me like I’m some kind of a hero….

What in the name of the pits is going on!

The masked one bids me to put my weapon away and my fire down and join him. The woman seems to get smaller…..


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