A Light in the Dark

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

Feral roar. There’s a magic in it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I finally start to inspect the circle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I honour the earth,” I nod.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ate lunch and rested.

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

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

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

I found the idea mildly off-putting.

Or was it infuriating.

I always get those two mixed up.

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

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

He’s going to pay.

Painfully experience

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

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

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

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

“What were your tasks?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘No,’ comes her response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is he a relative of Jern’s?

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

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

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

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

We talk further.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look around, the in between is nifty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cross road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Took up his weapons and put them away.

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

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

We Fought Narhveer's Men...And We Won
But not everything is as it should be...

The fires have been set.

They are moving to encircle the outer edge of the camp with one exit remaining. I’m testing my power, my strength.

I remind them of the plan. Kill the guards. I see no priests. Odd. I see only one wizard. I inhale, then send the flames from their fire out sideways, not vertical. I do not want the food spilled. A little goes to the flames, dangit, but there’s still plenty. Shouts of alarm and people scramble as I get the outer ring to come in to complete the circle around each wagon.

The four wagons are like islands in the sea of fire. Very good. Excellent even.

I utilise the wand of magic missile on the wizard as he moves to fling open the gladiator wagon and orders them to get out and fight. Another is handing out weapons. I relay this to the others, not happy about the gladiators being made to fight. I use the wand of Melf’s Acid Arrow on the bastard, which has him very angry. He grabs a gladiator and steals his vitae to heal himself. I declare the wizard’s death. I tell the group that I’m going to do something reckless. Jern is in position, Fyraiia is already running some interference. Awesome.

An arrow misses me by a bit, the archer looks young. Not my priority target. Another arrow, also wide. What a bad shot.

I drop a globe of darkness as I call to Warmonger to give me strength and see victory. I open a way in the fire, and try to take the wizard’s head. No luck but he’s hurt. I’m in human form and call out, ‘Fight for your freedom’ not perhaps the most rallying cry, but I don’t want to fight the wizard, guards, and gladiators. Jern is under attack, but no one is assisting him. Where are the others? I try and direct them to help Jern, but his growls tell me otherwise.

I see the wizard casting a spell, it’s dispel magic! I try and break his concentration. I’m not panicking without focus. The pain that comes with that spell…. I call for a fireball dropped on me, by Fyraiia, by Daniel. I call for assistance, Sslith’lac, Gronx. Where is everyone?

I drop into pain as my shield and darkness break. Not good! I can’t fight. I roll away from him trying to keep the pain to myself and the sense of betrayal. I try and focus on getting rid of the pain. Ylena, Pyrico, help. Help please.

The pain isn’t fully blinding, but I’m having difficulty in focusing around me. Then a cool warmth touches and spread. Like a mother’s embrace. Thank you Ylena! Thank you.

I now act in pain trying to get to Pyrico’s Talon. I see the wizard standing over me. He’s not smiling, nor is he chuckling. He’s just staring at me. I hear the swoosh of wind over wings and Phaeron is tackling the wizard. Good. I’m almost to the scimitar. Then there’s the words of a spell. My heart skips, it’s a death spell. Heart Stop. This spell plus the previous, I’m certain this man is a necromancer. And Phaeron drops. Anger courses through me and the wizard approaches. Psyren! I need you! Phaeron’s heart has been stopped!

She has the wands that heal. But where is she?

He approaches like Toza would. Methodical. Calculating. No emotion escaping. A poor replica of my Guardian former. For he was also menacing and foreboding.

I roll, grab my scimitar and take a potion of invisibility. I need to gather myself. I drop of light healing potion by the man missing his vitae. He’s still alive. I then begin to head to Phaeron, raising my shield spell. An arch of light arcs through the air, landing in Phaeron! He begins to stir, and I follow its course to point of origin. Psyren.

I nod to her, though I’m certain she didn’t see. So I send relief and a thank you. I turn on my heels and head to the wizard. Determined to see his head fall. ‘Stay still. He is mine.’ I tell Phaeron. I’m not going to risk losing him twice in the same battle.

I quietly cast Bladethirst, the necromancer looks towards where I was, but I’m still moving swiftly. I wait for the strike, then slice across his back, bearing some bone it would seem. Good! I follow with the diagonal strike, bringing a foot up to roundhouse him. He’s in a defensive stance. Is he out of spells already? I don’t bother to ask as I continue my spin, “Your head is mine,” I growl as I line my blade for his neck. There’s an explosion of fire! And as I’m getting ready to reverse my direction, the body is dropping and the head is rolling. I snatch the head up.

I head to the gladiator who’s not with it and get the potion I dropped by him and pour it down his throat slowly. I’m back in my natural form, for I need to fly up and see about stopping the fighting I’m hearing. He slowly comes to, then takes a look at me and crab crawls away. Typical human, I may have muttered as I sighed and began to fly. Always assuming the worst. I raise up the head, and I call victory over our communications, expecting the others to demand surrender as the wizard has fallen. I then fly towards the archer.

I show him the head, “Drop your bow and live,” I tell him steadily. Jern is there followed by a flame maned dwarf. Jern makes some wise cracks which don’t help. But he’s a dwarf. The young man does so. I land and walk towards him, studying him. He has no magic objects upon him. Not even his bow. Odd, the gladiators were armed with magical weapons. I’ll examine later.

“Drop your belt. The sword belt,” I clarify to ensure there’s no mistake of intent. Jern heads to gather the weapons. “Any other weapons?” He shakes his head. He’s nervous. Good. “Where is Baelok?” He seems taken by surprise.

“I don’t know,” Damnit, not the answer I was wanting.

“You know of him then?” He nods. “Is he alive?”

“He was when I last heard,” a safe answer. He knows I’m not happy with the answers, but he doesn’t know that I won’t harm him for his lack of knowledge. He’s not tainted. That is important. He surrendered.

“Pray to any God, save the one that the state worships, that he remains alive,” I tell him, allowing some anger to flare. “Come,” I will give him some trust that there are no other weapons. I have him walk ahead of me.

“Gladiators, assemble!” I command. It was ingrained for us to appear and line up when that command was given, lets see if it holds true here. Even Gronx, Sslith’lac and Psyren show up. Old habits I guess.

I inspect them as I retake my human form, as my natural makes them nervous. I should be used to this…. I stop to look at a man’s gauntlet. It is dwarven crafted and Jern has taken to acting like my second starts to question him about it. I don’t know the crafter, but I like the weapon. I smile, “we can perhaps be friends,” I comment. This man was the first to aid Jern when none of mine did. He is also not nervous of me. Perhaps because he’s immune to fire? I note the magic auras, then motion to the man.

“How’d he treat you?” There’s shrugs, a few comments of not badly. I nod, “Gronx, he’s your charge.” He intimidates the man, when there’s really no need, but I leave it be. I tell him to do as he’s told. Psyren jokes about how Gronx doesn’t speak. I’m not worried. I instruct Gronx, Sslith’lac to strip the guards of their uniforms and gear. That has the dwarf, Azerite, questioning why the uniforms. I reveal nothing. Someone asks about destroying the wagons, I strictly forbid it. We need them. I look for the cook, and comment that I hope the cook is still alive.

The prisoner points at one of the wagons, “That’s her wagon.” A woman camp cook. She free or a slave? I head that way to see. I know she has a temper, as a thrown cast iron pan goes flying pass me as I open the door. I catch the second, and try to be civil. I would like to offer her a job. Finally I just state I’m taking the wagon, after failing to get a name. Either it’s been stripped, or she’s withholding, I don’t know. Lheare takes prisoners, if she wants to be one fine by me, I’m not going to ill treat people. I head back with Jern, asking him if he would honour me by becoming my blood brother this evening. He accepts without asking for details. It takes me my surprise. He has sworen a lifeoath to me, which takes me by surprise and honours me greatly but I don’t have the words. I explain that it’s a blood oath and would make him officially a part of my tribe. The Truenaming Ceremony will have to come when we get to our destination. He presumed as much on the former and is intrigued by the later.

I question about the cook, the new dwarf really likes her cooking and comments of it. And he declares that she likes me. Right….

I give leave for the gladiators to eat. The prisoner will eat when we eat. I send Jern to eat first then help with clean up, we need someone who’s normal talking to these men. I go looking at the other wagons. Phaeron meets up with me in the second gladiator wagon and we talk about the necromancer, how he was foolish. And about what I’m planning with the dead. I explain the funeral rights and ritual, one in general for the people I don’t know, and one specific for the one I do. I surmise I’ll do a separate one for the fallen gladiators. So make that 3 rituals, but all easy.

I found the cook. Now here’s hoping that the one who took care of the horses still lives. Phaeron points out that the archer wears leather, the others plate. I point out scouts wear leather too. But fair point. Maybe he was aiming poorly on purpose… I will need to talk to him.

He flirts a bit and I tell him to go eat, dying is hungry business. He heads off, I look at the wagon, I could be used for transport, just leave it unlocked. I make a mental note to look for tracking enchantments, and send it on the line to Fyraiia, in case I get too busy.

I step out and look at the death. There’s guards. And gladiators. Lots of gladiators. What in the Nine Pits of Hell did they do? I inhale and speak, seeing Sslith’lac, “Strip the gladiators of their weapons and enchantments, but their bodies in a third area.”

I begin reflecting the objectives of this engagement which a large burly man, perhaps of Brokki stock, diluted a bit, moves in my path and takes a stance that would be a challenge issued where I have been. I look at him, almost bored and take the stance of ‘I will listen, but I’m unafraid.’

“If your aim was to intimidate me, you are falling short,” I begin the words, studying him. His weapon is enchanted with cold. Lovely.

“Think what you will.”

I arch a brow. He moves to block me again and I cant my head slightly, curious. “You want first pick of your fallen comrades,” I state. This may be the group leader. There’s hierarchies amongst the pit slaves. This one possibly ranks high in the group overall or in the fallen alone. Tread carefully, but don’t show weakness.

You vultures are going to content yourselves with the guards stuff. You will leave the gladiators be." Ah yes. Guard the fallen and honour them.

“Can’t. If they are raised as undead, they will be armed and armoured. Which is a problem. If members of the Kabal find them, they will strip them of their gear and use it against us. Not happening,” I’m not moving on this, but there are too many dead here…. I need to keep face, let him keep face…..

And we stare at each other.

What's going on Fyraiia?
Oh look! It's a caravan from Narhveer's Territory!

Bodies have been burned to a crisp, this is the way of funeral pyres.

Loot has been packed away. We move away from the site of combat and death and an hour before what would be sunset in this murky grey world, we make camp.

I keep the embers hot and the fire low as we eat dinner and discuss watches. I tell Daniel he doesn’t get a watch. But the others seem to have no argument about them. The bald dwarf is first, Gronx and Clarence are second, I’m third with Sslith’lac, with Jern joining me on fourth.

Phearon and I move away to talk. He pointed at where the constellation known as the Lovers would be at this time of year. I look, try and remember what month and season we are in, then agree. It would be great to see them…. He grins mirthfully, and I know there’s a bit of sweet mischief in his head. The mist goes high up, I tell him. Too high…

‘How high have you been?’
I shrugged, ‘High enough to know that going higher is too cold. The air thins, and it’s too cold…’ He smiles and takes me by the hand. He pulls then lets go as he takes off.

Damn him! I switch to my natural form and take off after him. I have always been the swifter flier. I catch up without trouble. And we are going nearly vertical with a tight spiral. The clouds get thicker, the air temperature noticeably drops, for me. Even with the cloak on that resists the cold, I can feel it. Several strokes later I was having a hard time with shivering setting in, nevermind the thinner air. Phaeron went on, and disappeared. I was slowing my start of descent when Phaeron wooshed up and wrapped his arms around me, and his cloak now on me. His wings continued to move us up. I could feel his chest working with the effort. ‘You shouldn’t…. I’m over 100 pounds..’ He took a few breaths before replying, ’I’ll manage.’

He continued up and I snuggled into the warmth, fighting my shivering to try and cast warmth. But it doesn’t help after a bit, so I just snuggle in closer, marveling in silence of his draconic strength. The power.

I close my eyes, then suddenly the temperature rises. I open my eyes. The air is thinner. And the beauty! A sea of clouds reflecting star light! The stars are here. There’s no magic aura, so there’s no explanation that Vrynith can’t burn through it. Phearon tells me that Vrynith was weakened before the mist came.

Frustrating. So much allowed to go wrong. I sigh.

I begin to talk about dying, but Phaeron doesn’t believe me. I tell him about it a little, him putting me on the pyre, a drunk priest casting fireball, but still he doesn’t believe that I died. I tell him, admit to it, that I’ve been reverying about my time time dead, talking to Pyrico and a strong feeling that I missed something. He says I probably didn’t and I’m looking for something not there…. I shake my head, and finally suggest we should wait before considering soul bonding. I point out that when one dies, often the other follows. And my death results in banishment, but the shock would still happen. He argues, with several valid points, and finally I give an option. We bring this up after a year, or when my brothers are free. Whichever comes first. I’m certain he knows that my family is extremely important to me, we were all very close.

Then maybe I won’t feel so horrible about moving forward in my life. How can I enjoy my freedom and happiness knowing that they are enslaved? Being tortured? Used in fighting pits? Used in experiments? My mind may be running wild as I do not know their precise fates…

The sky above the mist though is beautiful. We are slow to descend and slower still to share my tent. Phaeron does a patrol before joining me.

I come out of revery as heavy footfalls stop by my tent. It’s Clarence. I let him know ill be out. Phaeron is still resting. I get my other cloak and head out trying to not disturb him.

Seems Clarence had issues with Daniel running after lights not there. I tell Clarence I’ve got it. He tried to stay awake, but I shooed him off to his bedroll. I remind Daniel I can move quicker than him when he goes on about lights that aren’t there. Perhaps he’s mad? There’s nothing when I look in normal sight and magic sight. He sits and watches, I have Asra watch him, then give leave to watch what he watches.

Sslith’lac and I discuss my path of honour, I humour him, and we carry the discussion for 2 hours. Very informative. I wake Jern, and we work on Ronarian. I do the patrols he does his thing. A bit before dawn, I begin warming breakfast. At the end of our watch I had out food to everyone as I wake them. Seems I was able to channel my father, everyone ate without complaint.

We began to walk, I was to be grounded, not my favourite but I’m not going to argue with an elf annoyed at me. About midday, Fyraiia curses and draws weapon, I pull Pyrico’s Talon particially out and look for danger with fire in hand. There’s nothing on magic and normal sights but I have a tingly feeling. Fyraiia waves us off and we begin walking again. She laughs a short time later and ignores my question. I want to fly and she shakes her head. I grumble underbreath and continue to trudge. She gasps a while later and looks worried? at me. I inquire and again she makes no response.

I’m the topic. How vexing to not know what’s being said. I motion that I’m going to scout ahead. Enough of this one sided thing. I feel better once I’m away from the group, and work to look for trouble.

I find a caravan. I duck. Last one I saw I got banished shortly afterwards. I move to get a better view, and spot Narhveer’s markings. It’s a long way from home…. I grin. He has my brother. These fools might have information. I try to get a better look, and finally take wing.

I look for guards, priests, and wizards. I count four wagons, at least 2 have bars on the windows. Slaves.

I discuss options with the group.

- Why are we attacking them?
-Why not? They are Kabal. They belong in the Southwest not the Northeast. They are a long way from safe port.
This gets a partial agreement.

Horses, wagons, slaves are to be unharmed.

Everyone else is in danger. It’s midmorning. I suggest waiting for lunch.

We kill them, release slaves, get loot AND eat a lunch that we don’t have to cook ourselves! This has everyone on board. Even Daniel.

It’s hours of watching, gliding, soaring. I keep my people on course. I begin to worry about being wrong. Maybe they eat while traveling. Damn.

Oh no! Wait! The wagons are making a defensive barrier. Guards are posted. Good. I watch as they make fire and set to cooking. Perhaps we’ll keep the cook. Maybe. Are they all freemen? Or do they have slaves minding the horses? The cook fire? The guards are freemen.

I make sure Fyraiia is with us. We may need her to stop teleportation.

We discuss battle plans. Set fires and block their exits from all but one approach. I’m certain I can do this. I meet up with the group and get enhanced. Daniel is exited about lunch. A mighty bow and 7 arrows get handed to Clarence. Jern takes the crossbow and a score or so of bolts. We have our kill line, and I told Clarence he has mage guarding duty. I head off to set fires. Perfect landing and take off twice, but the third time, I swear I found the only twig to land on. All well, I take off again.

No one is to escape. I begin to mark the wizards and priests…

Jern Staalbred: Journal - Pt. 21
In which we planned to murder some strangers

We continued on our way through the plains for the rest of the day, setting up camp. There seemed to be some trouble with Daniel frolicking throughout the night, but by the time my watch came about, it was long since dealt with.

Breakfast was hot and my belly was filled. We packed up and continued off on our indirect path.

Roughly mid-morning, Phyara suddenly stopped, armed herself, and stood on guard for a minute, looking about at some otherwise unperceivable threat. I took my own weapon to hand, and prepared for whatever she had noticed. The moment passed, she sheathed her gear, and we continued. I stayed prepared.

Another short while and she began cackling. When questioned, she offered nothing.

Further walking, and further perception of some kind of threat. She expressed that she was in some kind of communication with an ally? Name I didn’t recognize. Ameira flew off to go scouting. Another stop shortly after, getting frustrated of being constantly on alert for who knows what. Asked her if whatever she’s hearing is something that we all need to be aware of, or if it’s just an issue for her. She shook her head sadly. I put my hammer and shield away and turned away. Feeling a little worried that she’s touched in the head. Maybe there’s something in the fog. Going to start preserving my breath as we go.

A little while later, Ameira sends some info back. She’s come across a caravan way out of the way from where they should be. Plots us a path to intercept, and continues to watch them; determine intent and allegiances. We’ll be meeting them for lunch.

The caravan broke to eat, a little game of toss the kitty got played; apparently balance isn’t considered that important for a cat when sleeping.

After dusting himself off, Daniel granted out boons of strength from one of the wands he picked up. It’s time to meet these newcomers.

Plot out a strategy of smoking these bastards out of their camp into a bottleneck towards us. Get into position. Ameira sets the flames. It’s time.


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