A Light in the Dark

DANIEL'S FREAKING JOURNAL
Date: who even really gives a shit

Jeff, you should’ve seen it! But your lazy ass was sleeping like it always is you lazy piece of crap. Anywho I saw the most majestic thing yesterday! Or was it the day before? I don’t even know. Whatever, it was majestic. There I am frolicking along and I come across a mountain! I know exciting right? It gets better! Hard to believe I know! But yeah, this mountain was pregnant! I just happened to come across at the exact time a dwarf was being born! It was truly the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since the burnt orphanage. Not sure if that was a dream or not but it was still pretty great. Anywho, apparently dwarves are born fully grown and fully bearded too with a full set of armour! Such mysterious creatures. But slow as balls my lord. I thought it was cuz he was just born but apparently not. Quite annoyed with their stumpy legs. So slow ugh!
So yeah some other things happened, stuff attacked us, stuff was murdered. I got to cut into one of my new meat shields to save his life so that was pretty exciting!
Ummmmmm what next…….. oh! Butterfly! I saw one last night, so majestic. A sick ass purple colour with some sweet ass blue spots. Oh man jeff, if you weren’t asleep you prolly would’ve tried eating it. Then I prolly would have had to kill you again….
MOTHER FUCKING EXPLOSIONS OH SHIT SON!!!!!! frolick my ass on down to the end of the world right freaking now beyatch.
Oh shit shinies! Oh shit dude with the biggest balls I’ve ever seen. Seriously, dude needs some pants what the hell. Not cool dude I’m like at that height. Hey it’s my dwarf! Oooh shines! Oh shit I’m being attacked! Oh shit they think I’m a traitor! Tensions are high as shit SON!
Cue the anxiety attacks as I’m stripped of my hood. Oh no kill me now. I do not FUCKING APPROVE. and if these people couldn’t kill me by breathing on me I’d melt all their faces god damn.
I have been touched. Cue the 3rd degree. Cue more anxiety.ugh. apparently person thinks they can tell when I’m lying. Like not that I am. But if I was they wouldn’t know. Fancy ass ring protects me from people knowing my aura and from telling if I’m lying or not. Should I lie for shits and giggles? Prolly not.
YAY DARKNESS AS HOOD IS RETURNED!
Ok shinies. Apparently I’m pretty decent at finding out what magical shit does. Been a very exhausting session of learning though. Might take a nap after this.
Wait no nap cult shit occurring. Woooooooooot. Oh god this is exhausting. Kill me now.
OH GOD EXPLOSIONS! I DIDN’T ACTUALLY MEAN KILL ME!
cling to this bitch ass tree like a boss. Ooh an egg. It’s a god? Sooooooo god yolk? Breakfast of champions? Who wants scrambled?….. no….. we need to go to a fancy was resturaunt to cook this shit. It’d be wrong otherwise. Shit we be running oh noes.

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We Rise Up As the Flames
I swore to guard the egg with my life

I arrived back in camp with Sslith’luic still weak from the memory transfer. I need to sort through the memories, get acquainted with them, so see what’s useful. The monk’s meditation will be.

I still have Sslith when I speak to Jern about what’s planned. Then I hear that voice. The little mage is back.

Where is he?

The look on Jern’s face told me he knew that Daniel was in trouble. He pointed. I gently laid Sslith down by the fire, then charged at Daniel. I tackled and pinned him. Then demanded to know where he was, what had he done, why he left the group. I back handed him as his answers made no sense. He asked why. I slapped him.

You left in the middle of the night, the Kabal came and attacked. Then you come back.

Somehow he began to understand that he may have lead them here partially. Or knew they were coming. He quickly began to talk but it still did not make sense. I reached back to strike him again when a large hand grabbed my neck and lifted me off of him. I allowed my claws to come out and dig in the wrist as I was turned to face Gronx’s scowling face. I met it and told him what Daniel had done.

Daniel was slowly getting up and was talking about the beautiful butterfly, but what butterfly? I haven’t seen one.

I was placed upon the ground and Psyren tapped Daniel’s forehead and gave me the ok to talk to him. I asked him the why’s to him leaving and returning. I asked him to reveal who he is, much to his great discomfort. He revealed a brown and black furry arm, but it wasn’t enough. I told him to show me his face. After some glares he whimpered and whined and revealed a lovely feline face. A brown tabby, if he were a house cat. There’s no way he’s working for the Kabal knowingly. He whines about being uncomfortable with this, I felt pity. He spoke of being experimented upon, cut up, used. I feel a little bad about beating him, but it was coming.

I allowed him to hide himself. Whether he knows it or not, I understand. We, the group who have been traveling with him didn’t care he is something unknown. Jern actually asked me if I knew his species. I’ve fought felineoids before, but none of his kind. He’s either a teenager, or something else full grown.

His actions place him into the young catagory. I spoke to him, trying to pin him down as either a book magi like my father or a blood magi like mother and I.

He’s not trained at all. Doesn’t even know some of the fundamental basics. I may have a student… Maybe.

I move with Gronx to talk to him and figure out what is going on. Sslith never liked him, and attacked him before moving on to help Jern. He insists that he’s here to protect me. I’m rather hoping we can take a step back on our relationship, I’m free, we’re free. I need to relax more around people before I consider continue with whatever it was we had. I just really need a friend or three that I can trust.

I am more calm now. But I need to sit down and focus my thoughts to identify the trinkets. Some of the jewelry looks like it’ll be good to enchant…. Need a labouritory or something like that to do it. And someone who knows how.

I figure to see how well Daniel fares in identifying the potions and stuff. He’s got some good raw talent, though a potion stumped us both. I’ll wait and study it later. It was an interesting time, and I’m more relaxed.

I do give items to Daniel though I switch some of the wants with what I have. And I need to show him how to recharge wands as he admits that he has a couple of spells in his blood. Ad we have a couple of wand pairs. I shall show him how to recharge using a wand too!

But I set down rules for Daniel with Jern’s input.

*No more running off without us or letting us know.

*Do not friviously use the wand of bull’s strength, use it on the ‘meat shields’ as he calls them. He gave examples of when it’ll be a good idea to use it and we agreed.

*He’s to be in the back at battles raining down death to our enemies and buffering us, so he gets a necklace if fireball.

*If we are captured, his task is to get away and figure out how to break us free. To aid in this, he gets a wand of knock. I will teach him how to charge from another wand later.

Other rules were discussed, and we may need to add in more later. Magic is about self control with great outbursts of energy. Chaos rains then.

I finish and take a few things I want. I then sit by the pyre to feel the flow if magic and meditate. It’s warm, but not hot. The magic is like a vortex that swirls into and away the pyre at the same time. I know not how long I float, but I know I got up and began to move to the flow. There’s a drumming somewhere, like a heart beat. Eventually fire erupts from my hands and my sandals have been kicked off. I twirl the fire, making it move with the magic flow, a visual guide, then I set to etching in the magic diagram to focus the energy we will be raising, etching in the intent of the ritual, putting in symbols to amplify our energy, other symbols to focus our flow into the natural flow. While much is taken from the ritual that the Efreet drew for me using mine as a base, I adapt it to what I have. The cloak comes off, the gauntlets are too restricting. I take coloured powders that I’ve been grounding from things I’ve found and add it to the ash drawings. I take a claw and slice a vein to control the letting of blood, linking the ritual to me for the anchoring and so I take that backlash first, to prevent my companions from taking damage. It’s also to drive home my intent of bringing back Pyrico.

If Jern is paying attention he should make his way to the circle. My dress is just too much. I’m left in a belt with some jewellery.

That feels better.

I focus on leading the rising energy towards the center, following the natural paths, then out to the outer ring and back again. I move around the circle, into the square out of the square, weaving what is gathering. We started late so I cut my wrists a second time. The bleeding will stop on its own. My scimitar is now in my hands, my red hands with deep black nails, no claws.

I let myself go, falling into the ritual dance, it feels good. Very good.

The sun had risen, peaked, set. The moon had also risen, peaked, and now… As it sets and the sun rises, I feel the call. The urge.

Now!

My blade, how long had it been lit? Moves in to touch the pyre that was freshly restocked with timber and dried grasses. It lights up so fast, so loud, so hot. It drinks the energy up and then pierces the fog mist, clearing a path through the heavens. A deep warning inside of me echoes Christoph’s worried about a beacon.

But the beauty of it….

It screams up. Breaking the cloud cover, then it crashes back. The heat is intense, and I’m tossed backwards from the ritual site. There’s a vacuum of nothing which pulls air and the fire back in almost as roughly as it was pushed out. But the fire is warm, comforting. My wounds are healed. I roll with the force and land gracefully with my wings tight upon my back. My scimitar is gone.

I knew this could have happened, it was a direct link to Pyrico. But where is he? I look about and upon the pyre is a beautiful black egg, shiny like polished obsidian with amber, red and other fire colours playing upon the shell. Is he in it? I shake my awe away and approach respectfully. I gently touch the egg, it’s warm, there’s life. I pet it softly, taking some comfort. This will need guarding.

Sitting beside the god egg is my scimitar. Surprised my hand moves to it, and then I’m no longer at the pyre.

I’m before my patron god. I drop to my knees and bow my head in respect. He speaks and I look up to him.

He is inside the egg.
But I’m not just safe guarding his return…. But also the rebirth of the world, for if the egg is destroyed the world too dies.

I ask him what do I do with the egg. Meaning to help him hatch.

I think he took it literally for he told me to keep the egg warm and safe.

Now go. You must leave.

I snapped back. I’m before the egg and my scimitar.

I hear Jern’s voice, but I don’t hear his words.

We need to go, I tell him, grabbing the scimitar and putting it to my leg. I look at the egg.

Get your gear, we must leave now.

I move, grabbing my clothing and getting dressed, informing them that we must guard the egg. Sslith’lac licks his lips and Daniel makes a comment about an omelette or some such thing…

Jern takes the egg and points out that he’s stronger than I am. I concede to his logic. I can scout and rear guard, while Psyren watches our flanks. Sslith’lac moves to aid Psyren while Gronx takes up the back.

Where to go?

Where?

That dark place. The Triple Threat couldn’t find it. That’s why Pronkar took Mother and Chang there. He drained Mother dangerously low, mocked my guardian there…. It’s a cave. It’ll echo with bad memories for me….

But it’ll be safer than the pyre beacon.

That beacon…. Has my signature all over it. Has all the participants’ essences… But mine foremost. Anyone with any natural talent, trained knowledge, would have sensed it. According to Jern, Kahstol and Warmonger were still at the fighting. We need to get to safety, and I need to hatch this precious egg.

But trouble is coming.

And while the ritual high gives me strength to move, I worry about when the drain will hit. We all raised energy, we are all in danger of dropping after the high wears off.

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Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt. 13
In which we had a dance party.

Ameira took off with the Vampire. They seemed to know each other, so if he hasn’t turned her yet, I suppose he’s not likely to. Left me with Gronx, Sslith’lac, and Psyren. The big bugger starts staring me up and down, making gestures at me. Specifically regarding my height. I reply regarding His size versus the trees. Slaps his arm, and is unable to elaborate. Sslith’lac explains that he wants to know if I’m guarding Ameira. I express that Yes. That is my duty.

He grabs my arm and squeezes. He finds no give. Steps back and looks over at some rustling in the bushes. Daniel comes trolliping through towards us. I investigate where he’d been, explained what happened, make introductions. As he’d been off playing with a butterfly when we were being ambushed, I denied him the right to any of the loot until everyone who participated in the battle got their share. Sat him down with a stick whose distance he needed to maintain.

Ameira came back, tackled and assaulted Daniel for having bookended the attack with his presence. Explanations given, we learned that we were getting dangerously close to ritual time. Took the book and began re-reviewing what I would need to have covered.

After I felt comfortable with my study, I checked around for a stump or a hollow log I could use to drum on with my hammers. Hard to get everyone dancing together without a beat.

Things started getting going. Runes cast, circles circled. Ameira’s form began to change. Clothes began to shed. Dancing began.

Can’t say I was Really sure of what was going on, but the charging of energy was seriously palpable. Maybe too much so for Daniel, who had to quoff the Potion of Endurance to keep going.

Sun rose. Moon left. Sun peaked. Sun left. Moon rose. Moon peaked. Dawn began to approach.

I really don’t remember much of what was going on all that time. At some point flames started picking up all around us. I didn’t pay them much heed because they weren’t hurting me with my new ring on.

Then shit erupted.

Flash of light.

Sound.

Fire

The ground pulled away from me.

When we met again I tried to plant myself, but was tripped up from behind by a traitorous rock. Tumbled over onto my ass before the shockwave passed.

A moment later, as I righted myself, a second blastwave came in from behind. I was ready for it this time, and managed to hold my ground. And the ground 20 feet in front of me. And all the ground in between.

The flames dissipated, and there was some kind of obsidian egg half as tall as me sitting in the middle of the ritual circle. Assumedly this is the god we were calling down. Ameira walked over,and tried to pick up her scimitar with a hand on the egg, and halted. Eyes rolled back, unmoving. Went to check on her, no response. Called to Psyren to find out if this a normal part of ritual work. Didn’t want to move her if there was some kind of important energy transfer happening. Had to explain this to Daniel when he came over and wanted to remove the scimitar from her touch. He remained curious, and Psyren didn’t seem to care whether or not things were touched.

Ameira woke up suddenly with a shock. Literally, as she was knocked backwards. Managed to catch her and keep her on her feet, but there wasn’t really any time for questioning, as she announced that we need to move NOW. Packed up with the haste and we took the fuck off.

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My Life Writes Tragedies, Not Comedies
Bitch stole my sister.

Dawn was still a couple of hours away. All was well and quiet still. I got up to awaken the next person on watch: Psyren.

I went to my tent and poked in. Psyren was asleep, so I grabbed her ankles and yanked. I got her sword whips around my neck for my mischief. I don’t bother to tell her about how Jern and I had spoken about the gladiators that I know. But I do smile at her when she tells me to never do that stunt again. I tell her that I’m going to do something stupid.

The golem heart. That’s the something stupid. She almost seemed disappointed. I pulled my book that I have been using to write rituals and a non ceremonial quill and plain black ink. I then sat with it on my lap and began to study it in both normal sight and magical.

It’s a few years old, between 3 and 4 years I believe. The entity trapped is a demon. No chance of releasing that foul incarnation. The heart still has a fair amount of energy to it. I can use it to power a ritual. Would have to be for evil or chaotic purposes, as I do not want to contaminate a ritual. The magical signature…. That’s familiar. Similar to Toza’s, but made by different hands. So an apprentice, not Rajin. I know Rajin’s magical signature. Its duty was to guard the path that we found it upon. Once dispatched, there was some magic code to trigger and alert the creator of this thing’s destruction. I figured that would be the case. Damnit. But, the worrying part is that the creator can track the heart. In my bag of holding it should be shielded as it’s a dimensional pocket…. I hope.

While it was something stupid some useful information did come from it.

I cursed and broke my trance, and didn’t say much to Psyren, other than note that dawn had arrivred. Psyren begged to awaken Jern, which I gave her leave. She had told me that two of our number had vanished. I recited who was with us, and realised the two that I didn’t trust were gone. I looked at where they had been asleep and all was gone. To the foul Abyss with them. No doubt on their way to get away from the ritual crazed woman. I’m glad I didn’t show my true self to them.

Jern is awake, and he seems a bit annoyed at Psyren for not informing us sooner about the disappearance. We break our fast and Pheraya is a bit worried, but Jern finds their tracks and they seem to head in the direction that we were traveling in. This is good as I do not want to waste time searching for them.

Jern set the pace with me correcting his direction while serving as flank and rear guard. We stopped for a short lunch then continued into evening til my sister couldn’t see so well. Watches were divised and we slept lightly. Then we traveled hard the next day and by what would normally be dusk we found the sacred zone.

If I had known we were this close I would have done Pheraya’s naming ritual last night. So much to get done! I tell her we are going to do it. She’s oddly hesitant, but she does have a valid point, it’s not right without the family. But ritual magic is only done by adults. I know it may seem odd to Jern, as she is an adult, but she’s not officially an adult. It matters, especially as I have to take my duties as the eldest holder of rituals seriously.

While she skulked off, I set to cleaning and setting up a circle to perform the rite. I was excited. Jern even took his armour off to assist me. I was deeply honoured. I should have paid better attention, but I was busy etching in the symbols and circles necessary to he rite. The passage would happen when the moon reached its zenith, so I had time. I laid out offerings to the Gods. While working Psyren had approached to express her unease of my practicing ritual work. She honestly didn’t understand that the drain is natural, the days to recover as well. I explained that this wasn’t a ritual but a rite of passage. Sadly the traditional hunt and party would have to be postponed. I gave her the task of grabbing my sister and bringing her back for the rite. It is a modification to tradition.

She left in s much better mood, and I charged Jern with guarding the site. I understand some of her concern, since some rituals can end in death… But I wish she would just accept it, like my wings and tiny scales.

I head to the sacred pyre and begin burning away the underbrush. If I’m to do the ritual at 1st light, I need a clean area, and time to feel the ebb and flow of the magic here. I may start the sketching predawn. I’ll see. I’m very careful to leave a 2 foot area around the pyre untouched. I don’t want to risk setting it ablaze before it’s time. I keep working as time ticks by, stopping to eat and check on the moon’s hazy progress. When the zenith approaches I head back to the rite site, and set the outer ring aflame. Ok, so there’s a minor ritual in play, but it’s very minor. That’s when I hear Psyren.

She’s in trouble. I’m confused, the woman fights better than myself. I head out to check what the problem is, not realising that Jern follows.

Pheraya has a knife at Psyren’s throat, and I joke about it, as how could my sister best her? Then a voice that’s not my sister’s speaks, telling Jern to cease putting his armour on. I keep approaching, slowly and study her. There’s a giggle, similar to Nameless’. I call his name and ask him what’s going on.

You have an active imagination.

Threat. This is a serious threat. My hands want the scimitar, but I leave it in my leg. She took my father from my mother! Kya’ishna! She’s like Father and my sister! And a lot more powerful.

You stole Father. Get the hell out of my sister!

My anger is growing. I should have snuck the rite on her. Damnit! She laughs again, and I can’t help but growl. I can’t do anything to save my sister. My magic would kill the body. I can shunt the bitch out of my sister.

I switch languages, and speak to Psyren and reveal that I know what she is. Can you push her put of my sister?

I think she tried before shaking her head.

The bitch asks us what are we talking about and demands that we stop. How fast can I move? There’s movement, and I take off to collide into my sister’s body, hoping to disrupt a teleportation. I’m atop of Psyren, my clawed fingers are entwined in my sister’s hair, but she’s not responsive.

What has happened? When did this happen? When was my sister not?

Anger, my familiar state of being rages in my chest as I try to force myself to think straight. Sorrow, I hate it, but it’s there biting at me. I failed my sister, I didn’t protect her.

Before I could dwell further, Jern yells at me and points out the movement in the bushes. Angrily, I threw the fire from the rite at the movement, casting them all in light. There’s shouts, screams, and curses. Psyren and I are on our feet and weapons are in hand.

Thoughts of rites and rituals are gone. My sister is dead or unconscious, and enemies approach. I stride forward and Jern seems confused. Slavers, I tell him and he growls.

I don’t remember much of the fight, I was angry. The asshole who harmed me was there, shouting orders. I didn’t want him banished. He’ll tell the Efreet. Gronx was there, and he seemed, uncertain. I can’t blame him, I fled and left him behind. But he attacks the asshole. Sslith’luic is also here, and attacked Gronx until the big man changed his target. Was there a spell? I set a slave on fire then smacked another one. I wasn’t worried. Jern was doing good even without his armour.

Then frozen hell happened. Oh my gods! The cold. The pain. I felt my core freeze, I was near death. I know I wailed like a banshee in the rawness of it. I had to cocoon myself in the fire to hide and thaw, and heal. Kill the humans I know that was my voice. Kabal had followed like I thought they would. But to the sacred space! This is bad! Very bad. We cannot retreat or they will desecrate it. Rage gave my fire heat and I directed Jern and Sslith as they worked together. In seconds the fire planars and the slaves were gone. Then the men and Psyren killed the others save one who teleported away. Great!

I’m denied any killing, and both Toza and the bastard know where I am.

Hells bells and banshee wails!

I direct the group, since that seems to be what I’m best at still frozen in the core. They are to strip the enemies, beware of traps, and I’ll go through the pile. I desecrate their corpses. Damn them all to be currency in the Abyss. I set them aflame, but the anger is a living entity. I cannot focus. Pronkar drops a few bodies before dropping by Jern. I head to him and try and keep my anger in check, but I can’t.

I had stripped my sister to go over every item on her with Psyren’s help. We went over every inch of flesh. Not a single mark. And I don’t dare cut her open to search. She’s still alive. Her soul is gone. Not that hell for her again. Oh dear God’s, hear me, spare her that! But I think my silent prayer is for naught, so I focus on what I can do. I know her true name. True names have power. And we are full blood sisters. There has to be a way to fix this. Mom knew a way to bring back Justin, surely there’s a way to steal a stolen soul. If not, I will find it! Even if I have break every barrier the holds me back on my maternal grandfather’s side.

I’m before Pronkar, I’m not sure if I spoke, so I try again. I thank him for his aid, but I need his help in a different way. I can’t fix Pheraya. His sister in law stole her soul and I need her put somewhere safe where she will be fed, cleaned, looked after. He agrees. His expression changed, it softened then hardened. He hates the woman. Something about his nephew that she tried to kill. The nephew my mother saved, guarded and was willing to raise as her own. There’s a little relief but not much. I snarl about a lack of person to question. I growl about the man who escaped and the asshole too. I am out of time. Lets see who gets us first.

I didn’t realise it then, but I reverted to how I was over a year ago, my timeline. Angry, hurt, unable to hurt back. My sister is gone! Stolen! And I couldn’t do anything to save her. I need someone to hurt badly.

I ask the two now free men if either would care to spare. Pronkar instead tells me to follow. I comply. There’s no asking why with that voice of his at that tone We move away from the group, and we spare hard. The pain felt good. We spoke, and I think he still cares about me. I raged. I lashed out in unfocused anger. He doesn’t want me to allow the pain nor the rage to consume me. He doesn’t want me to do his mistakes. I made a joke, well, not really a joke, about it being darn near impossible for me to be turned into a vampire. I get shunted off plane when I die. I thought he would beat me for that. Instead I get smacked for not caring about myself. We spared, and worked away at my anger. It’s not my fault what happened to Pheraya. But it’s my duty to protect her. I’m not yet strong enough to try and steal her soul back by ritual. And I need her safe. From others and anyone who would possess her body. He seems worried about myself. I don’t get why. I only nearly died, again. I’m still alive.

We spare til I’m weary and bruised, calmer and coherent. I remember desecrating the bodies. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m about to leave when Pronkar suddenly grabs and embraces me. Old thoughts and fears flash up and I try to break his hold. I don’t want to be touched. The present pain though subsided is still too fresh and too similar to darker days. I fight my way through the instinctive reaction.I know I growled but I’m not certain if I spoke. Did I tell him to fuck off? Or to choke on some ice? Both are automatic responses. I have to think. Gronx and Psyren saw me through this. And this is Pronkar. He’s not going to harm me. I tried to hug him, but he didn’t care then. Or wasn’t certain that I’m me. I force myself to stop fighting him, and it takes me a long time to relax. Finally, I place my horns on his chest, and close my eyes, I’m sorry. I apologise for what I said after our last meeting. I apologise for my savage being. I’m not yet right in the head. I don’t cry, but I’m defeated for a while. I feel the arms around me protectively. There’s no warmth nor beat. He’s undead.

And I don’t cry. I instead thank him for what he’s doing for my sister when I finally pull free. I ask if I get to know where she is. He says no. I understand. I thank him for helping us and for watching over me. And then I’m allowed to depart. It’s a disappointment that I don’t get to know where she’ll be.

But it seems I caused concerns to another. Sslith is up in a tree, where he could watch Pronkar and me. Strange friend, he points out. Family, I correct. I don’t understand why Sslith decided that he would guard me, and mentor me. I told him with me, there’s a war to fight. He stated that there’s a war everywhere. I tried to push him to go back to his home realm. Surely he wants that. I wanted to get back home in a bad way, and I’m very confident that the slaves for the most part got home at death, just harshly banished. But no, he is adamant about remaining with me, to guard me. His skills clearly mark him as a balus, not just a bali, and I said as much. I had to explain that a balus is a wise warrior guardian, a weapon master. It’s so much more than that, but there’s no direct translation. Much like that word he said to me, which meant that I fought and live with honour. There’s more to it, but it’s lost.

We spoke at length about my plans, how I wanted to break the Kabal’s hold, not to be the next ruler, but to allow people to rule themselves. I don’t see how he thinks I’m worthy for his attention, and I point that out. I have no honour. I lost it in the pits to survive. I left him behind and fled. I didn’t take any other slave with me, and even though Psyren told me to go, I didn’t hesitate. My honour is badly mangled. I’m not a leader, I just have an idea and need help to see it done. But with my enemies knowing I’m here, alive and not alone… I may need to raise a barrier, but the number of people needed to raise it…. And the out pouring of magic… That alone is beyond me and the amount of power will gain most if not all the magic wielders’ attention.

I shake my head to get rid of the unwanted thoughts. The elves may have a method. Or Pyrico if we get him back.

I admit it’s overwhelming. I don’t want to be a leader. There are princesses who have been groomed for the task. Elta is one such. I would be better as Mistress of the Rituals. Especially now that I’m the last free Rûe child. Rituals are our only advantage.

We have no healer. Kayishna stole the little lady who was the closest thing to a healer. Sslith was watching me and finally speaks. He disapproves of the desecration of the enemies. Very strongly. He actually told me to not do it again and I know my mother’s fire flared in my eyes. I asked him what his people do to their enemies. They pray that they lead a better life next time. I know I snorted. He went on to say I need to be better than the Kabal. I angrily shot back that they are killing this world. The Gods are gone, magic that they control is needed to grow food, they enslaved the people and are killing the magic by strangling it. They killed my mate, took my aunts and uncles for their use, destroyed my home, killed everyone I knew, loved, and cared for. They destroyed the elven kingdoms, slaughtered and enslaved the dwarves. I am above their level.

We argued. No. I argued, he explained. He explained that I was better than I am. That I have honour, and that I could make a good leader. This is why he decided to come on the hunt for me. Not to capture me but to help me. If I’m willing to learn, he’s willing to guide. Perhaps as my grandfather did for the shiek?

He gives me an odd look, so I repeat, I’m willing to learn but I will make mistakes. He apologises and his hand moved swiftly to cover my face. I tensed and tried to pull away mindful that I’m balanced on a branch high in a tree. I reminded myself that Sslith wasn’t here to harm me and began to relax as the first of the memories stirred. Memories of pain. Memories of fear. I know this about my past. To face them again, is nothing. My great shame will be harder to handle…. Then I realised I’m not the only one seeing these, but Sslith is somehow taking them! I begin to resist. The pain is too personal, to private, to just share. No one wants to know my pain. The pain of losing a loved one, the pain of betrayal. The resignation that family members may need to be killed. The memory of just wanting to die, to see if I die or wake up elsewhere.

The pain of mother losing father to the worm in lava. Pain of my grandmother…. I try and keep my ancestors’ pain too, keep the secret of what I am safe even if I don’t know.

But new memories are flooding in. Being the last of several score of children alive. The pain of a wizard morphing the body. His memories! I flow through them, losing the battle to keep my secrets as he shares his. So many more years of pain, sorrow and oddly lacking bitterness. He lost his home at the monestary. Has seen far more planes than I and had been sold, gambled away and left for dead by various masters.

I feel pity for him. And respect. He is far older than I am, and we both lost our mates, were mal treated.

There’s a falling sensation, then peace of a sort. I awake on the ground, laying on something hard yet pliable. I’m on the ground. I’m sore but not broken, and a heavy arm cradles me. Sslith is under me, his body softened my landing. I lay there reflecting on what he had done. It was a sacred act in his culture I’m certain.

I lay there til he stirs, and soft words are spoken then I carefully get off of him then help his bulkiness to get up. He accepts me for what I am and doesn’t see it as strange.

I help him back to the others, shifting into human form. I’m very uncomfortable. Vulnerable feeling. He notes it and tells me there’s nothing to be uncomfortable with. I told him my mother would be enraged by what he did if he had done it to her. I’m allowed to feel as I do.

He needs his sleep. So I allow him to have it. I have no time for rest or sorting. I need to identify items, then feel the flow of magic. I won’t make first light with the ritual but I need to do it before more things come to kill or capture us.

How will we travel once we’re out of the forest?

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Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt. 12
In which we receive a delivery of assholes and asshole accessories

Ameira came up, began asking again about my dancing prowess. Explained that while we don’t really do monk wardances or whatever, we do have our own ceremonies and traditional dances. Asked her about some of the other gladiators that may have escaped. There was a big lizardkin named Sslith’lac with spikes implanted or.. Grown out of his body. Possibly by wizards. Another pile of muscles nearly the size of a giant that fights with a 50lb hammer.

Evening past. Wake up. Clarence and Daniel have dissapeared, apparently after his shift and before Psyren’s. Footprints heading in the direction we’re already going. Suggested that next time someone disappears overnight, we let everyone else know Immediately upon discovering it. Psyren doesn’t seem too married to the idea. I’m not so married to the idea of her having a watch then.

As the day went on, the footprints did not. Leastways I was no longer able to find them in the brush. We opted to continue on in the same direction in hopes of catching up to them. By the time evening came around we had no idea at all where they’d gotten themselves to. Ameira hadn’t spotted any trace of them from the sky, and we were running out of light. Found a spot to bunker down and proceeded to do so.

Morning came too early, and with Psyren pounced atop me. She must be full of lifting gas, cause she had hardly any weight to her.

Still no sign of the missing as the day passed. We arrived at the first ritual site. Assisted with the setup as best I could.

Started to learn Runearian(?) from Ameira. Very ancient language. Her mother’s language.

Began to actually prep the ritual sigils and markings as the evening finishes consuming what remained of the sunset.

Suddenly Psyren spoke up about a problem. Specifically, Fifi was standing behind her with a knife to her throat. Talking in a different voice. Began to put my armour back on, but was stopped.

Ameira and her spoke briefly in a tongue I didn’t recognize, before she charged, and Fifi went unconscious. As I picked up my hammer and shield there was a bunch of rustling from the bushes. Pointed this out, and Ameira lobbed a fireball to be met by screaming and bodies being tossed aside. A group of fighters, robed types, a near-giant guy with swinging balls, and a lizard. Check who Ameira wants alive. Apparently the big guy is Gronx. Keep him alive. Alright. Charge and crush one of the clothies. She didn’t want him dead Either. Just the shouty bastard.

Simple enough.

Scratch that, she Doesn’t want anyone killed.

Battle continues for a bit. Now she wants all the Humans killed, and more assholes keep entering the fray.

And more.

And now there are more casters, and Ameira is starting to panic.

The casters froze most of their own crew to death, leaving themselves as pretty well the only significant targets. Not a good decision on their part.

They quickly perished.

After no significant celebration, Ameira went over and confirmed that Fifi is technically still alive, though comatose.

We strip all the bodies, move them off to the side, desecrate them as is appropriate, and toast the lot.

Couple more bodies appear. Pronkar is here apparently. Greeted the first familiar face I’ve seen since arriving. He and Ameira began to chat. Sounds like he serves her? Kayshna is the one that stole Fifi’s soul. Guess we need to get it back. Shit.

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Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt. 11
In which my shift ended way too late.

Night shift went uneventful. Shook my replacement to wake’m up, went off to find a dry patch of dirt to fix. Heard voices, one of which was clearly Ameira. Wandered over the way to find out what was up. Heard talking about a bastard and a freak and how dwarfy I am. Interesting stuff.

Ameira was sitting next to something else, in a couple manners of speaking. Psyren, I think her name was? Red skin, hair like fire and embers, and flirtatious in a way that my lack of sleep did Not leave me equipped to deal with. Sat down at their request and we chatted for a while. Talked about some firey bastard named Efreet, who had held Ameira and Psyren as slaves. Sexy-slaves/Gladiators. Showed me a towering image of his toasty self. Apparently he intends to come here, kill Ameira, and steal Fifi. Which would be very bad.

We discussed the current plan of finding areas that are special to the gods, and doing these rituals Ameira’s so fond of. Psyren sounds less confident in her ability to do them, but who am I to judge. Part of this plan may involve Ameira killing herself to hold the bastard back while I escape with Fifi. Not exactly my style, but should it come to that, I gave her my word. Ideally though, it sounds like we’re going to try and find an alliance; if not just temporary lodgings; with the elves that have holed up somewhere in the forest. Reinforce our paltry group with whatever resources they can lend, rescue what remains of my people from slavery, as well as any others that have been taken for such, and be prepared for his arrival with the aforementioned gods.

We also talked a bit about the pits they fought in, and how they were forced in the end to come to arms with each other. They disagreed, blew a hole in the arena, and freed as many of the other slaves as possible on their way out. They made particular note of one of the champions, Gronx. No idea whereabouts he wound up though. Either way their ex-boss sounds like a complete shit, and I look forward to not needing to fulfill that promise, and help take the bastard down.

Was passing out on my stump, and the conversation was dwindling, so I excused myself and
hunted down what few hours of rest were still afforded to me.

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Restless Watch
A Friend Finds Me... I Hope

I spent 2 days mulling over what that Efreet had said.

The bastard who bought me is coming after me with a hunting party.

Not good. Not good at all.

I’ve been restless and have taken to patrolling while others watch. This night I awoke during Jern’s watch and slipped away. This portion of the forest is peaceful, like it’s holding its breath, or something nasty is watching and bidding its time.

Right. I’m getting paranoid and ill at ease.

I’m almost done my patrol when there’s a whisper on the wind. Then a blade at my throat and an arm around my waist. My hands were free and it crossed my mind to burn this intruder. Or that it could be a potential ally.

Miss me?

A sweet playful voice and the blade is removed and she caresses my stomach. I laugh quietly, for this sweet deadly lady is Psyren, a fellow escapee and my friend.

I gave her heck for taking so long to find me. And asked her how she found me, but she answered without answering. We talked quietly about the state of things. She doesn’t know if any of the other gladiators are still alive or free. I tell her of the Kabal. How do I tell her she has to hide her true self? She is stubborn and proud.

Jern finds us while I explain what’s going on. Now is the time it would seem.

I bid him and Psyren to sit and sat myself. Jern protested about the next person not being awake for watch. I sent Asra to wake the person. Turns out it was my sister. Good, she’ll have to meet Psyren before the others. Her orange blush flesh and fiery hair with black streaks totally scream Planar. I do not know how Daniel or Clarence will react.

I first begin about how the bastard isn’t ready to let a possession leave him and is seeking to cross over where I had crossed. That is now just over a month ago. He has a hunting party and I’m the prey.

While I do hope the Kabal feel the break between P!anes, I don’t count on them stopping the hunt. The bastard is extremely stubborn. I tell Jern he must keep Pheraya alive and safe. Even if it means knocking her out and dragging her away. Psyren got mad about my willingness to go back. She doesn’t get it. The bastard will kill those with me. If he figures out that Pheraya is my sister he will do horrible things to her to make me comply. I can survive and maybe escape a second time. My sister won’t fare so well. I try and convey the importance of Pheraya getting away; she’ll have a copy of several rituals that are important.

Psyren’s outburst doesn’t seem to cause Jern any discomfort. The Gods dealt him the cards he holds, he doesn’t see any options aside from what’s before him. Poor Dwarf.

I moved on, after correcting Psyren on my name. She called me Phyluvia, a name for a slave. I corrected her with my chosen name, Ishnaferya, Deadly Little Flame in Ronaarian. Then I told her Jern knows me as Ameira.

The plan, I explained was first initiate Pheraya into adulthood officially. We discussed the differences between my customs and his clan’s. I asked him to bear witness to a deed that she performed to prove her worth. It saddens me that we can’t do the ritual and celebration: her leading a hunt and the animal becoming the evening meal, with liabrations of mead, wine, and ale. In short, a debauchery not fit for a child’s witness.

Then, it’s the ritual to get Pyrico back. Predictably Psyren had much to protest as the first one she saw the after effects left me weak for days. I pointed out that I have a link to Pyrico, I have all of the supplies, I’m certain, another mage and my sister, and 2 warriors to teach how to raise energy and maybe her.

I do hold a ritual that should work. I hope it’s not a dud.

Afterwards, we trek to the village in the centre and try and awaken the elves. Toza may be there, my sister’s vision didn’t give much indication for time frame. But either way, we need the village. With the elves we’ll have allies, without, a safe place to recoup. And focus on the next task: liberating the dwarves.

I explained to Jern that I know Elta, well knew her. And that most likely, she would be taken to a mine rather than to work as a black smith. Dwarves are valuable. And the clanholds were overrun years ago, which stands to reason we should be able to sneak into a few. Jern seemed upset by the fact that the holds were lost, but keen that dwarves were on my list to break free. He added that anyone else at the mines will be taken too. He has a good sense of what’s right.

After that, well, it’s awakening other sleeping Gods. I don’t yet have a plan of attack aside that we need information. Next on my list is Merlai, the Earth Mother. Between the elf village and the dwarfholds, we may find the information we need. Or a priest.

Psyren made clear her position on rituals. But she doesn’t understand.

Jern went to bed and I sat with Pheraya, introducing her to Psyren. They spent a long moment silently appraising each other. Then Pheraya wanted to talk to me.

How well do I know that woman, was her first question.

We had been gladiatorial slaves, she was the first person who attempted to be my friend and slowly became such as the information on my opponents saved my life. I admitted that she’s my lover, and told her how she admired the tattoo that Pheraya had given me.

Of course she does. Just the tone alone gave me what was going on.

She’s like you. To which Pheraya had nodded. She told me to be careful. I informed her that Psyren does not want me to do anymore rituals. Which of course opened the dialogue to discuss Gronx, another slave, but one with privileges as he was champion. Pheraya’s statement on the ritual thing was that it’s part of us, our way of life. But on Gronx, he’ll be burned should she meets him. I told her he got me the dress I wear, while Psyren got me the gauntlets. Shemade an offhand remark about the silk gauntlets that I wear. Yes, Psyren gave them to me, I repeat. But you don’t know all that they do, do you? Was Pheraya’s response before leaving.

Before I retired for the rest of the night, Psyren and I headed back to where the beast that swallowed us had been to look for Christoph or his remains. Jern had forgotten about him til I mentioned him earlier. Odd.

I looked for the beast, and for remains and found nothing. While part of me hopes that Christoph got away, another portion believes he was totally dissolved. And great, it’s mobile. I’ll have to let the others know.

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In the name of Merlai, what is that!?
I'm running out of time

The negotiations were going well enough with Elta and Jern, but something was off. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something wasn’t right. They kept calling me Ameira. It wasn’t right but I couldn’t figure out what they should call me. I was missing Christoph, as he had retired earlier claiming fatigue. What had that man done to make him so tired and leave me to be diplomatic.

My thoughts were interrupted by Phearya’s abrupt arrival and declaration that this isn’t real. Before I could ask her to explain she slapped Jern across his bearded face! I demanded that she reframe herself and explain while Jern got up and very humanly left in a huff. Pheraya dropped a tome on the table and flipped it to a page, with inscriptions and runes. She told me she’s not a mage, she can’t read this, but I could. I asked her why to which she stated I’m not a queen and Jern isn’t a king.

There’s a forest! There’s fog.

I moved quickly to catch up to Jern. He’s not with the real Elta. I’ve met her. There’s the sense of danger but it’s fleeting. I saved Elta from a hanging with help. I burned down the town. Well part of it. This isn’t Elta. She declared it didn’t happen. I grabbed Jern by the arm to get him away from the false image. He tried to resist but relented when I released him. This is urgent. I still can’t say the whys, but I knew by instinct. I showed him the book that Pheraya couldn’t read yet I could. Finally we began moving quickly to the armoury. I’m talking to him about his annoying hammer with the licorice addiction and asked him if he liked licorice. He hates the stuff. Then why did he have a pouch full? Finally something came of our conversation, the licorice was in his hand.

In the armoury I locked Elta out. I focused on this not being real. Jern had a harder time with it. We argued and he steeled himself as she cried out in pain and agony, her demands of being let in changed to begging. I have become hard as I forced him to endure the sounds from his wife.

The room darkened, fog rolled in, and the walls changed. They were rubbery.

And no Christoph.

Jern attacked it and his hammer got stuck. Pulling it free he swore, Pheraya couldn’t make heads or tails of this thing that we’re in. I believed we were in something’s stomach. It was trying to eat us. Where’s the throat? Does it have more than one stomach? I heard a sucking noise and directed Jern to it. He attacked it and the hammer was sucked through. Was this the way out? Should we let him go? Or keep him here? Pheraya yelled at me to assist her in keeping Jern here. I moved to do so.

Ishnafeyra! Are you in there?

It rang true. That is me! That’s the name I choose when I became an adult officially. Yes? I asked back. I’m in here!

Who is out there? Who is alive? Everyone from before and before is dead. From Strom, from the resistance. All dead. So who defies the gods?

Do you have the dwarf? I ask, still holding onto him.

He’s stuck, is the reply. Please be friend not foe.

I shoved the dwarf and pulled my sister off balance. I pushed him again and looked around again for Christoph and shoved my sister next. I still don’t see him. Did he get eaten or managed to escape?

I could hear a raucous outside. Cries of push! Push! Push! You’re doing great! Like some great mother was labouring. A cold hand grabbed my wrist and another my arm and then with several great heaves I was tumbling out, covered in stinking slime. I flicked it off of my arms, how I wish I could cast Clean. There was a short being, a short elf? Jumping around like a dancing imp. The voice that was encouraging the ‘births’ of us is owned by the black shrouded being. Daniel is its name.

There’s a tall Brokki as well, not the source of cold hands as his armour was covered in spikes. Clarence is what Jern called him.

The one that got us out, who knows my name, was standing aside showing fangs at the dwarf. His eyes are glowing red, skin is more pale than I recall. He’s feral.

Uncle Pronkar! I couldn’t contain myself. A friend and family has appeared! Help!

I rushed to him and glomped him tightly. He smelled of weapons oil, leather, and steel. I missed him. But I was a fool. A bloody fool! He is a feral vampire, who is fool enough to believe that Lorelei chose to take up ranks with the Kabal after fighting them alongside my parents and the rest of Strom. He doesn’t care about the state of things or bringing back certain gods. Nothing. He arrogantly believes the Kabal will do naught against him as he preys upon their scared sheeple. Sure… They have a powerful necromancer as their leader.

So why did he help? Because I summoned him when I called out for him. The battle of the gods was still going on. But why did he help? And what in the Seventh Pit of Hell was that?! Not even Pronkar knew. He left us, after Jern gave him words about a missing friend whom Pronkar turned. What the Hell? 90 years ago he made a spawn? I needed to clear my head, and meet with the new arrivals, the magi, either blood or book I know not, is Daniel. The Brokki looks like a shield mauler, I hated fighting those… He used to be a house guard and was going to bring Daniel in. If there’s wanted cards for him, then he’s on a quest. I will watch him. Magical items are limited on them, perhaps I’ll study them later to ensure no communication items are upon them.

Another bit of information that Pronkar didn’t want to part but did after my pressing: my siblings were divied up amongst the Lords like battle prizes. Aunt Lorelei took Pheraya. My sister who is with me now was taken. No one ever escapes…. Is she an agent or is Pronkar mistaken. I need to clear my head.

He believed that Lorelei gifted me a mercy by banishing me. Right, becoming a fighting pit slave is better. Well better than a pleasure slave at least, but damnit it’s not a mercy. Death is.

I got the group back onto track, we had to move quickly least the battle ends. Daniel declared he is on board with bringing back the fire God, after I told him a short version of the plan. Then he asked if I had a list. Given the company, I shrugged and said yes. In for an ounce, in for a pound. Clarence apparently now watches over Daniel to ensure he doesn’t burn everything down. Smart.

The group trudged forward, and Daniel sprinted off. I separated under guise of watching the flanks and took wing to watch over the small one. He’s shorter than Havaan. Is he a dusky skinned elf too? We talked, then I sent him back to the group. He came back and we talked some more then I sent him back. This time I heard yelling. In the forest with things trying to kill us or eat us, someone is yelling and making more noise than the armoured dwarf. I swiftly flew back then shifted my form to land before the group and scold the loud one.

We moved again until weariness started to take us over. We devised a watch order, the two warriors and I. Clarence actually used his shields to give us a wall though the spaces between were a little wide….

I reveried to try and think what to do and reexamine the ritual I was creating. Jern woke me for my watch and I took out the golem heart after his snores were steady. I asked Arisa to scout around as I began to examine it….

Only to hear a snap of a branch as something approaches. I put the heart away and pulled my scimitar out trying to figure out what’s coming. Nothing good of course.

I enlarged the fire and called an alert as a skeleton form came in. I asked for it to not be a Morgh, I got my wish, but it was worse. It was a Spawn of Kyuss, Kyuss being the worms that created it. I shout again and toss fire at it. I inform all of it’s strengths, no known weakness and the dangers of the worms. And that they can use tactics. Intelligent undead, how horrible when it’s not an ally.

Two more come and they surround Clarence, after smacking Daniel out of the way. Oddly, Clarence placed Daniel behind him…. I wasn’t expecting that. Jern moved in to help as did I, moving the fire and attacking one of them. There’s screams and Clarence has to stop fighting to rip worms out of him. I don’t know where my sister is.

After I drop mine, I saw a green worm crawling in a cut that Clarence had made in an attempt to get it out or kill it. Not thinking I coated my hand in fire and struck at it in bill strike, perhaps injuring him but I got the bugger out and cooked it.

I kept the second one coated in fire as I suggested Clarence use a knife rather than his sword to get at the worms. Daniel was scrambling all over the spiked armour attempting to help.

Finally when all three were dead, I looked for my sister while stuffing a cure light potion into Clarence’s mouth. Behind him was my sister, passed out and bleeding. I freaked believing she had worms crawling in her to only realise her wounds matched Clarence’s. All of them. I poured a cure serious down her gullet noting how few potions I have.

Once she came to she began fixing herself, and I was both angry and relieved. This is the second time she over extended herself.

I looked over everyone and decided they’ll be fine. I looked at my sister and told her we need to talk. I took her by her arm still vexed about her nearly dying.

We walked a ways then I demanded that she explain herself. About the lack of self healing that she can do, what happened regarding the resistance, who attacked, how she was captured. All of it. The anger of what has transpired, her attempts of suicide now twice, her refusal to talk, Pronkar’s refusal to help.

We argued and I attempted to barter. She tells me what happened and I tell her about where I was. No dice. I tried reasoning, but damage was already done. I told her she can keep her pain then. I spun off and walked away to cool off and give her space.

I still love my sister, I want to still trust her, I want to help her. She’s was never the hard one, she was sweet, shy, hated being alone. I miss her.

There’s an explosion and what sounds like a tree falling. I shift my shape and fly towards the sound and then begin tracking her moving away from the group. I followed her and gave her space. But she kept going farther away, so I finally landed before her and switched back to human form.

You really shouldn’t be walking around by yourself in this forest, I tell her. She snarled at me for how I treated her, I deserved that. I pointed out that I am worried about her, how she’s changed. She pointed out that I changed too. I told her I had to.

Some of the facts and questions they raise:

  • Aunt Lorelei was the one to attack the resistance and it was a total disaster. Elta had been there… As had the Princess of Mysel. Are they still alive?
  • She had brought her army and they were well trained, an assumption as many of the members were very well trained, and in the time we had been there we had been working on teamwork and fighting alongside each other.
  • Pheraya had lost consciousness and awoke in a soul gem. For 7 years she was stuck alone in there. A girl afraid of being alone forced to stay in solitude. Complete torture in the purest form for her.
  • She didn’t know that our brothers were also taken, much less given over to the others. I hope to the Gods above and below Rajin isn’t with his father.
  • 2 years ago she was taken out of her gem by man she knows not and put into her body. Is it her body, or was she put into an empty shell like our father when the Kabal stole him from his realm? Who is this man? Did he release others? Can he be an ally?
  • Did they programme her with any conditional orders? Can I trust her? Screw it. I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
  • She’s been hiding for these last 2 years. Surviving. Barely.

I had to embrace her, hug her tight. I wrapped my wings around her and held her tight as she cried. I have heard crying helps sometimes, unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury of showing that weakness.

I sat her down and kept an arm around her shoulders as I shifted back to human. And I began to tell her about what had happened to me from spotting Lorelei’s coach and being unable to hide or get away she banished me. That I wound up on the Fire Plane where it’s so hot it’s hard for even me to breath. The air jets, toxic fumes, electrical storms made it impossible to fly. I succumbed to a poisonous gas pocket that didn’t realise that I was in Tilburg began to black out.

I awoke shackled and chained in a cart handled by Salamanders that took a bunch of us to the Brass City, where the Efreet rule.

  • I barely described the Hell I went through on the auction block. I told her it took a while as I refused to ‘behave and be meek’. I’m my mother’s daughter. But eventually an Efreet with a gladiatoral stable bought me.
  • He managed to get my scimitar which he eventually fused into my leg. He kept a spell lock on it to keep me from drawing it outside of the pits. Training was horrible, the food barely edible. I lost a lot of weight, to the point that my muscles were very much visible.
  • Training was worse than the food or the bare cell. He tried to break me and I refused. I took many lashes. I had made a friend early on, but I had to kill her in my third match. Either one of us kills the other or the archer kills us both. Anyone who tried to get close was set up to die. I stopped befriending strangers and kept to myself.
  • The bastard had attempted to use a brand to mark me but that proved useless, so he had me tied up and unable to move when he had his mark tattooed upon me. I tried cutting it out, scrubbing it, changing forms, yet it remained.
  • I couldn’t tell her everything. I won all of my matches against non champions. They were always to the death. I couldn’t tell her how the personal champions of each stable that I fought toyed with me before incapacitating me. Those matches were specifically for when I was rebellious. I skimmed over the visits by the wealthy, simply, I didn’t always win.
  • My escape was pure fluke. Something happened and I took advantage of it. I had my armour, my weapon, a few items that I accumulated for my fight wins. I fled through the market and stole what I needed to get out.
  • I fled across the plane to where the Shadow Plane touched and pushed my way through. I flew as fast as I could seeking the land of Vrynith Kareel. There are many places in the Material Plane, and it took me a long time to find the continent. Worse something that doesn’t sleep began to chase me. It popped into existence and moved closer to me daily.
  • I was chased into a mountain range and caught in a box cannon. When I flew it knocked me down. When I tried to climb it plucked me off. It was about to get me when Nameless took me and placed me near Pheraya.

She was surprised that Nameless had done that. He’s changed, which I already knew. But I still trust him. He got me on the path of where we are.

We discussed what he told me, about needing blood to get Pyrico back. As I looked at it, it does make sense. She was in the process of giving me heck for creating and combining a ritual. We needed stealth, as Christoph had pointed out.

That was when a voice interrupted us. It was male, deep, and had the snapping of fire. I grabbed Pheraya and moved her behind me as I did not know if the voice was aloud or in my head. I walked backwards looking for the source.

‘You should learn how to mask your presence.’

He walked out from behind a tree, an Efreet, well dressed but in a style they do not favour. I tensed, an enemy here. Judging him, I know I won’t win against him. I told my sister to run, which predictably she said no. What a fool. He was talking and slowly approached as we backed away.

I barely remember the conversation as I was more focused on how to ensure Pheraya doesn’t become a slave. Foolish girl.

The Efreet claims he engineered the conditions for my escape confident that I would take advantage of it. He apparently not only won much wealth from betting on me but also attempted to buy me from the bastard. He warned that my former master is determined to reclaim his escaped property and is now moving to find where I crossed over to the Prime. Great. As if I’m not under pressure already.

Next point of interest, he wants a place on the Prime to call his. Sure, let me get that for you. I told him he’ll have to work for it. Apparently he dabbles in information. Well that could be useful. I want to know each of the lords’ weakness. I have brothers to rescue after all. He tells us that Vrelix has an Advisor from on of the Infernal realms, either Hell or Abyss. He’s not sure which one, but he plans on looking into it.

It’s in his interest that we win, and I don’t get captured. No idea why. He overheard my sister’s protest of creating a complex ritual by modifying a couple of additional rituals…. And so offered to look over what I’ve had planned. That took a lot for me to not only approach him but to give him my book with all the notes. My notes apparently were on track til I added in the stealth. He made some comments and then with flourish wrote a new ritual schematic complete with inscriptions and blended the cloaking in smoothly. Honestly, it was brilliant but I’m not going to tell an enemy that til he’s proven himself a friend. I snatched the book away and in the typical attitude of his species he asked if there was anything else.

Well I asked if the antiscrying magic was still in tact. Yes.
How is the bastard going to find me? He’s following your presence and using items. Great… My father’s ring that he gave to my mother. The necklace Phearon had given me years ago was taken when I was captured.
You said I need to mask my presence. How? For one, stop burning everything. For the second you’ll have to figure it out yourself. How useful….
We are short on goods…. Especially items of magic. Two of my companions were wounded, and may have contracted a disease… He is already offering up a large sack which I carefully take and peer inside. I can see several potions and easily identify the healing ones. This is good.

He made an off comment about me self healing which I snerked at. All you have to do is trust the flames. That stops me and before I can look at him, he’s gone. No one in the realm of fire knows what I really am. I kept my appearance human. A secret friend even confirmed that I didn’t lose my form when I fall unconscious. He had been concerned about that after I had let him in on my secret….

How does this Efreet know? And what does he know? Does he know of my lineage? Is he one of the fire allies mother had been hoping to call in.

Too many questions!

Hurry, I told Pheraya. If the bastard is crossing where I landed we have a few weeks maybe before all Hell breaks loose. The bastard will aim to kill and enslave those with me. My only hope, ironically, is that the Kabal harry them. A hunting party will make a much bigger splash than 1 entity entering.

What do I tell the others? The dwarf and Christoph I owe an explanation to, wait Christoph is missing. The other two…. I’m not sure of. I’ll have to ask for Jern’s input. But the plan must be spoken so if I’m gone they’ll continue. They must!

  • Call back Pyrico. Free the elves from their statis around their village. Secure this forest as a home base for the resistance. No scrying means no direct teleportation. If possible see if Warmonger is interested in fighting Kastral to give Pryrico time to recover and fix his forest. Maybe awaken Merlai a little. The Earth Mother has been far too quiet.
  • We need to figure out where ALL the local mines are. Elta should be in one and we need her for the next step: liberating the dwarves and convincing them that the forest is safe for them. And to work with the local elves. I’ll need Jern to help me with this. Dwarves were sent off to mines and forges nine years ago. I’m certain they are still there.
  • The other Elemental Lords need to be awoken. I don’t have a plan for that yet. We need to CAREFULLY recruit people.

But somehow I doubt I’ll be around for that. The bastard is coming. To the now, not 7 years ago. Did I lose track of time while a slave? I know it was months on the Shadow Plane. And both Shadow and Fire Planes are 1:1 ratio in time. The fact that I slowed down in aging after I reached puberty doesn’t help, it is possible that 9 years passed and I only aged a little. Was I in statis when the Salamanders caught me? I know I spent a lot of time healing after many of my boughts and lost track of days. Gah! Too much to think.

Must focus. We have to move. And I need to talk to Jern.

And I must see that my sister goes through the rite before we call to Pyrico. I must also write down the rituals for sacred space and memory of the line. Just in case I die or am taken, she must know mother’s traditions.

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Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt. 10
In which Clarence acts as a Yoyo

Negotiations were going well until Emeira’s pet mage came in, started on a drug trip of some kind, and slapped me in the face. I excused myself to get some fresh air. Her majesty followed shortly after, tossed me a book full of glyphs and sigils I couldn’t make heads or tails. She beckoned me to return. Physically. We went into a room, Emeira locked out Elta. Helped me come to my senses. We discussed the real world some, and concluded that we needed to deny the reality we were stuck in. Elta began screaming in agony. Had to shore up my emotions to stop from going for her.

The room began growing dark and thick with mist. Someone called out that the room wasn’t real. Went and tried to push on it. It’s soft and spongy. Swung at it. My hammer got lodged. Pulled it out, and took another swing where sounds began to emerge. Couldn’t pull it out this time. Kept trying, but there was resistance. Voices from the other side got clearer. Someone was pulling on the hammer. Emeira pushed me into the wall. It was very uncomfortable. Got pulled through to cries of “pull!”

Pronkarr and Daniel were there as my head emerged from whatever it was that held us. Got out. Clarence arrived shortly after. Introductions. Emeira and Pronkarr started talking between the two of them while I explain what little I know of what’s going on.

Eventually got the chance to ask Pronkarr what the hell is going on, and where Maximus is. He offered disgustingly little insight into anything.

We took off for where ever the hell we’re going. Day passed. Set up camp.

Woke up to Skeletal ghouls attacking our camp. They focused in on Clarence who our combined efforts were barely able to keep alive. Every strike left disgusting little worms crawling in his skin, going for his head. Eventually we got them down, and found that Fifi had been pulling wounds onto herself as well. They were both bloody messes, and our resources are getting dangerously low. Let’s hope we can find ourselves the hell out of here soon.

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Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt 9.
In which we forget how to remember ourselves.

Continued on our way. Dragging FIFI along. Emeira began asking us how we are with magical theory. Explained my extensive background with such matters. She needs our assistance completing some kind of ritual for sake of summoning even More gods. Or perhaps drawing the attention of things that can capture gods. Either way. 50/50.

Apparently the god of the forest we’re in is one of Fire. The forest of a Fire god. Sounds like a healthy place to be.

More theological discussion was had. Much surprise that I don’t know much about magic or meditation. She wants to bring down the sun too.

Shit started to get dark. Then we were being charged by the head of a big dark unicorn. Split up and tried to get it’s attention. I guess it’s coming for Fifi?

What the fuck have the fates gotten me into.

Castal appeared in front of us. Barely managed to dodge out of the way as lightning slammed to the earth behind me. I guess Warmonger’s here again? Their battle is giving the earth seizures, making my feet go numb. Not a lot of purchase to be found that isn’t shaking right now. Just kept running as directed.

Well, maybe not so as directed, as Emeira had to keep coming down and putting me back on course. Trees.

Eventually met up with the other pair. Apparently Fifi is now awake. So That’s a thing.
https://new-beginnings-9.obsidianportal.com/previews
Kristoff started dogging behind. Made a solid recommendation for a new exercise regime. It was not well received.

He starts pulling stuff out of his pockets. Underwear, Manacles, I stopped paying attention pretty quick.

After a bit I guess we found a safe distance from the battle of gods, as Emeira brought our congregation to a light jog. Our new aim is to keep going the exact same way we were before, but slightly to the left. I guess that will fool the god that’s hunting us.

I’ll keep my hammer and shield at the ready.

Discussions of unconscious snuggling and weasel locations. I continue on my way.

Lots of discussion over who can find the best nuts?

Warmonger and the Unicorn are still having it out back there.

Evening comes. Emeira tries to teach me ritual symbols. Would probably be a lot of great information for a clan runesmith. I am not that. However, surrounded by mist, I certainly didn’t have anything else to focus on during my watch.

Woke up alongside my wife, Elta. Morning comes way too soon after an evening of anniversary. No matter what year it is. Too bad This morning came the day of our visit with Emeira and Kristoff.

Splashed the cobwebs out of my head, got dressed, and we took off.

Pleasantries were had. Breakfast. We go hunting.

As we were about to take down our first boar for the day, Emeira had it dead to rights, but hesitated. I saw this, and that the boar had her between it’s tusks. Made my move and pinned it’s skull to the ground.

Questioned her about the hesitation. She was feeling off. Unusual. Sent the boar back with a couple of the guards, and the two of us went off after another.

Got back with much bigger prey this time. Went back to the castle. Eme and Kris went off for a bit of chat.

Explained the situation to Elta. The 4 of us all went off to determine what the issue was with that weird boar.

We came upon the court magician. Fifi. Didn’t recall her being there. She called Emeira “Your Majesty” This seemed odd coming from Emeira’s sister. Had sudden flashes of remembrance. Us meeting each other in the forest, Fifi was there with us. The others didn’t remember any of that. Whatever imaginings were roaming throughout my head quickly faded, and no longer wrested my belief in reality, once I found my way to the nearest watercloset and made sick.

Cleaned up, went back, and met up with the group. Apologised for my foolishness, and we continued with our day.

Business went well. The meal was delightful. The dancing afterwards apparently didn’t go so well, as Emeira and Kristoff stopped half way through and took off. Went over to make sure everything was alright. Emi was having one of those memory spells as well. Starting to have recollections of the forest I was confused about earlier. We went for the court magician again.

More of those false memories started to come back. More and more. Piling up as Emeira and I keep finding things we remember in common. We’ve come to the conclusion that we’re suffering some kind of shared hallucination or dream. We need to get ourselves out.

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