Legacy of the Forlorn

The Siege of Highhelm
Vanya
I have experienced my first siege, one of the most longstanding treditions in warfare to hear my beloved tell it. The marshaling of forces to assault a fortified position. While I was not in the thick of the battle at the gates, my siblings and I did have a pivotal encounter at the secret escape route out of the fortress. We had been asked by King Borogrim to stand guard at the rear entrance into the Sky Citadel of Highhelm. We had learned from pervious discussions that this exit was well hidden and few knew of its location, so we were reasonably safe guarding it. Borogrim didn’t want us to be involved in the main battle, he didn’t want to confront our Aunt if one of us happened to be injured or killed in the defense of his city. So we accepted this lesser task, although I must admit, I was quite looking forward to watching the orcish hordes assault the city walls. So we made plans and reviewed the location of the exit and made what plans and preparations we could if there was an attack at this entrance. We collected caltrops and marbles in hopes that they would cause the passage of our foes problems over a very narrow bridge that spanned a small river at the rear of the mountain. We took out time and did what we could. As time passed we started hearing the sounds of battle from the front of the keep. It appeared that the enemy had arrived at last. We were not as lucky, for a great deal of time nothing happened, and my beloved was becoming a bit tense at the lack of being in the thick of a fight with the orcs. Yet as the day turned into night, we had our chance at fighting as well. It was about midnight when our first encounter occurred, Lamaris came charging out of the darkness and ran over the bridge, we called out to him warning of the hazards we had put in place to stop a crossing. As he ran across he fired some arrows blindly into the darkness, and warned of a group approaching this location. Navarre in his way told Lamaris to take a position and guard the bridge with the rest of us. I on the other hand ran to Lor’Athorn and took his silver owl, and sent a message to King Borogrim that we were going to be under attack and that the force approaching was of a moderate size. With haste we took up positions at the bridge, some of us with ranged weapons, others such as Navarre and my beloved Ari, stood their ground at the crossing. As we waited in the darkness we started to hear the movement in the underbrush across the river before we saw them, a troop of 20 orcs, with a huge hobgoblin in the forefront. As they came into sight, my siblings let loose with all manner of spell and attack. Amaras managed to turn the forest against them as roots and trees bound the legs and arms of the attackers. I thought my fears may have been for nothing upon seeing this but when the Hobgoblin leaped into the air and seemed to grow wings I knew we were in trouble. He landed with a crash at the foot of the bridge and lashed out with a crude looking sword made of stone and animal horn. We pressed our attackers the way we are accustomed to doing after having stood shoulder to shoulder so many times in the past. Lor’Athorn rained fire down on the orcs at range, Lamaris doing the same with arrows. While Amaras, Navarre and my Ari closed in on the Hobgoblin. I managed to slip in and flank the unholy creature, driving my dagger repeatedly into his kidneys. In a matter of minutes he was dispatched, this raging monster with almost none of us injured. It was at this point that I noticed that Lamaris was missing, a quick look around showed that Nilsha was also gone, assuming the worst I ran off after him, what if we were fooled and he was actually a dark elf coming to open the gate below. Racing away I just caught the edge of a shout that a shamble was attacking Amaras as I ran off. I yelled back to Ari to protect my family as I raced away. Tearing through the halls, I ran to catch up with Lamaris, yet when I found him he was not at the gate leading to the darklands, but rather standing over the body of Brokenshield. As I watched him draw out his sword a terror gipped him and his flesh started changing color. He was becoming a dark elf right before my eyes. Taking this as a queue I quickly cut his throat with the elf bane dagger that was given to me on my last birthday I had spent with my whole family. As I was cleaning my blade a voice behind me spoke up. Lord Kestrel was in the keep. We spoke for a few seconds, and knowing that my siblings would be coming soon I struck hoping to catch him off-guard. I was not so lucky, he merely caught the dagger and tossed it to the ground, vanishing out of sight. (I will need to get an orb of antimagic if we intend to slay our dark cousins) . It was a short time later that Navarre and the others came upstairs and I explained what had transpired. They were all as stunned as I that the transformation into one of the dark elves could be so quick. It is surprising that we had never heard of this before, but then again it is not something we would want to be common knowledge even in the best of times. King Borogrim made an appearance at the exit we guarded and cut the head off the Hobgoblin, a means of breaking the attacking armies spirit he said. With the leader dead, it took little time to break the army at the gates, and I have to say it is much less appealing then the stories make it out to be. Too much smoke, blood, and stench of death for my tastes. On the plus side we were granted an estate in the five kings mountains. We were also declared to be honorary dwarves. This may be a good thing, it will grant us access to more of the dwarven lore and manufacturing, yet many of our people will not take kindly to the idea that the Edassril family is now dwarven as well as elvish. If none of my siblings take an interest in the location I may have uses for it myself, depending on if Lady Smilos survives the next three months, as a training location for more individuals with my unique skill set. Somewhere away from the confines of the elvish court, where I can bring all manner of people into my service.
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Deception of Kings

Alchemical Discovery: As of recent I have noticed that my siblings have, with surprising regulaity, caused themselves harm in some fashion or another. Mirrianna has inflicted herself with hunger and fatigue for her god, while Palanon has been known to eat wheat cakes until he becomes ill. Although I have very little control over the actions of my siblings, I can try to mitigate these conditions.

My first invention in that vein is the lightning frog extract. The lightning frog is named not because of any affinity for external electrical sources, but for its ability to move about quickly in short bursts. It is theorized that it, like the shambled, has a specialized nervous system that somehow enables the creature to move about quickly by way of electrical stimulus. I am still studying the sample I have, but I may have come upon at least the partial reason for its swiftness. When studying the lightning frog’s blood, I injected a serum into another creature, and found that it had an interesting effect.

The creature injected exhibited not only increased reaction time, but aggressiveness where there was none before. Having tested it on myself, I found that it caused me to feel stronger, more alert, and certainly more tense. The effect was short lived, but sharp and pronounced. Further study led me to the creation of a potion that can induce this state in anyone. Furthermore, my research has also found that it can counteract deleterious bodily effects, such as nausea or fatigue. I believe this to be an interesting discovery, though I am reluctant to tell my siblings just yet, as they may not see the utility in it that I do.

Main Entry-
Our time in Highhelm has certainly been interesting. Though gracious and hospitable, the turmoil brewing around has been difficult to weather. King Borogrim is of course at the center of a number of nefarious plots on his throne, whether they include his demise or not, but we have so far been able to stay the hands of any would be usurpers.

I had initially volunteered my help in understanding the nature of dwarves nobility, and that proved to be productive. My studies have once again paid off, and I have found a number of key behaviors that have allowed King Borogrim to root out the imposters among the aristocrats. This may be only a small problem in the scheme of things, but the king is certainly appreciative of what help he can get. I am thankful that our siblings have been both alert and attentive. Should we all come out of this intact, I imagine that our shared tribulations will at the very least not be forgotten by the king and those loyal to him.

But not all problems were so cut and dry. The King’s adopted son had turned out to be an imposter himself. Shamefully, no knowledge I had could have predicted that, though Amaras was keenly aware of something amiss with the supposed man-child.

Perhaps I should start closer to the beginning. The king had thought himself the target of an assassination attempt, which his “stone born” son had prevented. He had found a dagger that appeared to belong to the assassins of Lady Smilos in Daggermark. This had been troubling all on its own, but the truth was more complicated. Having been alarmed and upset, the king was already been without sleep for days, and asked us for help in preventing the assassination.

Not long after this discussion, Lady Smilos herself had appeared, most likely as a misdirection for her true intentions. She had some prepared banter she traded with us and King Borogrim, but her feigned innocence was marginally sufficient to have her dismissed. She would be attending the gladiatorial events later, as would the king. Despicably, she had dropped something to mask odor in the room, anticipating the keen nose of our brother Amaras. This did not deter him, however, and he was able to sneak close enough to Smilos at the arena to smell something more… poison.

At this moment, through a series of mental communications, we were able to discern that something had been left in the king’s room for a future assassin to use. A few of us rushed up there to investigate, and what we found was shocking. The poison was in the hands of the king’s adopted son. Moreover, his behavior shifted for long enough for us to cast further doubt on him, and my magic had shattered his. The stone born man was actually none other than Rufus, a deceitful halfling in the employ of Lady Smilos.

I was hoping we could simply end his troubled existence, but Vanya petitioned to keep him alive. I imagine she is thinking a few steps ahead, but I hope this was not a miscalculation on her part. We had managed to warn the king, prevent the assassination, and thwart Lady Smilos’ plan. The king, however, was near inconsolate when we told him the truth of the son he had cared for over the course of seasons. I was made proud when I heard Palanon eloquently explain to the king that his misguided trust and compassion were not folly but kingly wisdom.

Borogrim, though weary from a combination of sleep deprivation and coming off of powerful stimulants, was moved, and realized that in truth, his actions were not wrong. Our course was unclear from then, but we knew we would have to tread lightly with Smilos, and concentrate on the defenses of the city.

I resolved to work to continue to assist the king in not only gauging the loyalty of those who held it, but to use the disloyalty of those who didn’t in the king’s favor. Though I am not one to relate to the common dwarf, i can hope to at least secure those armies and alliances within the dwarves kingdomm, as we will need every able hand to repel the coming invasion. This invasion, though spoken of by a seemingly mad dwarf, is as sure and troublesome as those we have faced in the past. We must now acquire every advantage. I am certain that my siblings work even now through their own resources to do the same.

End Entry

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Dark Deeds in Dark Places

Excerpt from the Journal of Amaras Child of the Green

So we learned that our shadows were behind the dwarf problems and the uprising but to what extent we did not know. We learned that someone was attempting to kill Boaragrim a tactic well understood by us but we tried to figure out how they had gotten so close. When we heard the story I mulled it over in my mind and I noticed that Nil’sha when ordered to stay with the kings fool child refused, something about him was wrong. I attempted to warn my family but they ignored me they take me for a fool at times….but I can’t truly blame them I guess my nature over the past year has become more questionable. As it turns out the boy was the killer in disguise but it was our so called ally in Daggermark behind the whole thing, politics will never sit well with me. It was obvious she was the one who was behind things so just killer her, a action I wanted to take by the King forbade it pointing out it would cause him political troubles. As it was from her being held we learned she was working with our Shadows and a army was on its way to attack the city. We also learned that the vampire we slew was the sister to her contact and they had turned her into a shambler. I was stunned by this as I could not fathom that, an undead creature bound with a shambler? Or foes are truly dangerous but we were prepared and were set to guard the back door, a nagging feeling tore at me as we waited there in the caves. That is when we saw Leeramis run the forest and to us, how did he know of the back door that was supposed to secret? The others did not question and I should have something about his was off but we were soon caught up in battle with the attack forces general. It was towards the end of the fight that I could feel it a perversion of nature out in the forest, it was a cancer moving through the living trees. The undead creature had shown itself, I sought to by the others time and rushed out to face it but the thing proved stealthier then its kin and was upon me before I knew it. I avoided its attack barely and used the magic of my new armor to burrow beneath the ground while Navarre rushed it as well but the thing proved smart as well and fell back from our attacks. We both retreated and the thing rushed in again but this time it ignored me in favor of the others trying to attack him. That is when a idea came to me for the thing had moved between me and the running river, I remembered a story that Lora’thorn told me once about a vampires weaknesses once of which was running water. I think my brother was on the same thought as he used his magic upon me to make me grow in size to match the creatures and that caught its attention. Whipping around It lashed me with one long tendril that tore into my flesh and took not only blood by a large portion of my spirit. I have never felt so violated in my life and those emotions rushed to the front and with a roar of anger I rushed the creature slamming into its dead crunchy body. I wrapped my arms around it and pushed with all my enhanced strength and before I knew it we were plunging through the air and splashing into the water. The thing began to melt in my arms dieing for good, swimming for the surface I broke the water’s edge and looked upon my families face and each of them looked upon me with respect and admiration. I had destroyed a foe, our foe by myself I had shown them I was a strong and could save their lives for once. It make me proud to know that but such was short lived as we soon learned a secret so dark and so soul shattering that I dare not even write it down for fear of others someday learning it.

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A storm of our making

Excerpt from the Journal of Amaras Child of the Green

Much time has passed since my last journal update and much has occurred but the most interesting was our trip the realm of the dwarfs. I had been there once before and believed that the land was barren and held no beauty, but on this most recent trip I learned how wrong I was. Their lands hold a beauty that takes a certain eye to catch, but sadly it was marred by a brewing civil war. One which the good king hoped we could help to advert, on our way to his seat of power we traveled to a place called the Citadel of the Nine a place where dwarfs and elfs lived together in peace, I felt some nagging feeling in my mind like I should know more about that or like a dream you just barely recall having but not what it was about. I quickly brushed it away as we ended up in a bar room brawl, the tension in the realm was high, very high. We learned this in depth as be traveled across the lands visiting various places. It was not till we reached the capital that you could feel the tension weighing upon you like a chain around the neck. We met with King Boragrim and spoke about all that happened and learned a key was taken by something, after a quick search and thanks to my unique talents we figured it was a vampire. We would learn how true that was when we ran into the thing later after a failed attempt to disrupt the Kings peace speech. We found that not only do we have dark counterparts but so do the dwarfs I wonder if they came about in a way much like our own shadows? They are clever as well they tried to use magic to hide themselves to escape us but I knew something was wrong as they passed hidden in the guise of dwarven women. The beast inside of me felt it….it knew the deception for what it was and I acted spoiling their escape while my family rushed to battle their leader I handed the one I captured to the guards. By the time I entered the room the battle was over but my poor Nil’sha had taken a serious injury from the creatures wicked axe, as I rushed to aid her the vampire showed. She was a dark elf and a wielder of magic for she let loose a ball of fire that exploded among us. I felt my flesh burn from the heat and hear Nil’sha’s pained scream as she fell its magic, some of her injury carried to me thanks to the magic amulet of my mothers. This was the second time I have come so close to death, most of my body was burned I could barely see but I did see my friends body lying there burned and unmoving. I thought her dead and the beast in me seized that chance and took over I threw myself at the vampire tearing and biting but her vile flesh healed faster than I could tear it. It is times like this I am thankful for my family for without them and their calmer minds I would have perished there in the fight but thanks to them we prevailed and Navarre lopped the witches head off. I fell beside my fallen friend fearing the worst but found she yet lived; her agile reflexes and the magic of our bond saved her barely. It took several days and much magic to restore our bodies to whole once more.

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The Beast Within

Excerpt from the Journal of Amaras Child of the Green

I have learned things in the recent weeks that have shaken me to my core and I fear what it has done to my family. More so for Palinon then anyone for he found that a man I think he looked at as some hero our people turned out to be something far more sinister. We had made our deal with the Dark Ones and made haste to the city of Erages to enter the towers there to find what the key unlocked and learn more of our foes. Yet another trick on their part, they gave us the key to knowledge yes but knowledge that was best left locked away. They chip out our emotions our feelings trying to undermine the stability we have known for so long, I fear to see what results will come of this if they succeed. When we reached the town we met with a small gnome woman who had information for us but she wanted us to pay for it, for some reason her demands raised my ire and I used words of threat. I don’t know why I did it or where they came from but the others took me from the place quickly so I could calm down. My words did not harm things and we got what we needed and soon found ourselves below in the towers following Vanya past deadly traps, her knowledge of things is amazing and I respect her all the more for walking a path that though covered in shadows and darkness she bears it for our family. We found that not all the traps were so easily avoided and activated a set of Golems as Lor’a’thorn called them later. The walking statues were nearly impervious to our attacks but it was once more Vanya who solved the riddle to putting them rest once more. After that battle we found what we should not have, a place where the bones of hundreds of our kin lay slain as we would find by our own kin. Using both magic and my brothers new strange talent we watched the scene unfold and learned a great deal of our past. What struck me the hardest was to learn that it was my own ancestors who brought about the destruction we witnessed. They had treated with humans and gave them powerful weapons and what is stranger is they were outcast driven to some islands on the other side of the world. But then how was this possible if father was born in the other realm? We are still nobles among the court were we not? These things would bear much thought and speaking with others to trace what happened….i also find I want to visit these distant elves to see what they know. What was more striking was to find that the elves we fight in the darkness could very well be related to us by blood they could be Edasseril. I attribute this to what occurred later, for as we left we found that Humans were laying in ambush sent by Falcon for some reason. I have often obtained by half cat aspect which little strain but something inside of seemed to awaken and I felt my body change, it tingled and morphed reshaping into the form of a massive muscled panther like Nil’sha. My senses exploded with new sensations’ new smells and ways to interpret them, I could smell the sweat on the men’s bodies, the saddle soap used on their leather armor the oil on their weapons. The battle was quick for they stood no match to us, but something was different this time. I have tasted blood in my mouth before when I have fought in my half cat form and it should have been no different this time but it was. Something deep inside of me a savage fury forced itself to the front and drowned my mind in animalistic urges, I tore a man apart and when done I drug his body away and, and ate his flesh. It did not end there for my family let one of the men go but I had his scent and the moment we reached the surface I could smell him out there among thousands of others. That beast inside of me that fury drove me to the hunt and I was thrilled with it, I prowled through alleys, over roofs and through gutters tasting his scent. When Nil’sha and I found him we attacked as the Cloud Panther does, rushing in making small strikes driving our quarry to run themselves to exhaustion. When he could run more and fell we struck leaping from the shadows and snatching him up I still recall the feeling of his skull crushing in my massive jaws. I would have fed on him had not guards been near and raised the alarm, I fled then to the forest where after sometime my body returned to its elven form. I emptied the contents of my stomach sick at the thought of what I had done, whatever is inside of me is growing stronger and I need answers.

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A view from the outside Part 5

By the Urban Druid Jaylinn

When Amaras departed my life it was like a huge void opened up inside of me, I sat alone at night in the small cottage he had purchased for me. When I wandered the streets I always found myself staring off into the tree line hoping to catch a glimpse of him. That is why I think when Cade confessed to me I leaped at the chance…the chance to fill the void inside of me with love. At the time it didn’t matter if that love was not from the one I wanted but from another, was it cruel to do this to Cade? If it was then it was nothing more than human nature, for I have found that of all races my own can be the cruelest to itself. I never stopped thinking about Amaras and never stopped my trips to the forest edge so when the day came that Cade said he wanted to return to Daggermark I agreed. I could no longer torture myself in Greengold as I had for the past years. It would be many more before I again saw him, close to a decade I would say when I next saw him in Daggermark walking the streets. Amaras looked the same as he had to me years ago, he not changed one bit save he did have more silver in his hair now then he did then. When he looked at me I noticed a touch of recognition but I think that was from the scar only for I had changed greatly. I had grown nearly a foot and my body had filled out in certain places while slimming in others I smiled so broadly I thought my face would split I called out to him “Greetings Tar Vodi!” the nickname I had given to him when I was young, upon hear it I saw him look at me and sniff the air, his face split into a smile and he rushed to embrace me. He swung me around once my feet leaving the group but not as much as they did years previously. There in his embrace I felt alive and felt all the old feeling and emotions rush through me, don’t get me wrong when Cade holds me I enjoy it but with Amaras it was different. My whole body tingled just as it might before a lighting strike hits it was wonderful and scary all the same. He put me down and commented on how much I had changed in so short a time and though I know he meant no harm his words still hit me hard for what was ten long years of emptiness for me was nothing more than but a short time to him. I realized then that when I was old and withered with age he would still look the same and would for centuries to come. We spent most of the day talking and he told me of all the adventures he had in the time we were apart, he was most proud of a tale where he singled handed took down a vampire Shambler and saved his family. I demanded his come to my place to break his fast with Cade and I, a mistake I should not have made. I never knew what took place between the two of them when Cade was younger but whatever it was it drove a wedge between them. Cade was more wary and even fearful of Amaras, which I found that fear can turn if left to long. It can fester and it can change to resentment, jealously and even hate feelings that come so easy to humans. At that moment though and for years after neither Amaras nor I could see it. No that is not fair I didn’t want to see it I wanted only to believe that I could love two men with all my heart and they would accept that love. How wrong I was, how so wrong I was.

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To Save a Kingdom
Vanya
Out time in the dwaven kingdom has born unexpected fruit. Lady Simlos has paid a visit to the realm of King Borogrim and has given me the means to unseat her from Daggermark, if I make use of her mistake.

We had been worried about the state of the dwarven holds so we each spent a great deal of time working on individual goals to help strengthen our neighboring nation. After a short deal of time we were asked to once again come back to see King Borogrim. Upon our arrival he looked even more haggard then he had the last time we had spoken, he was not getting enough rest from the looks of things.

It was during this meeting we were told of an attempt on the life of King Borogrim, he was accosted in his room after he had retired for the evening, only to be awoken a short time later by his adopted son Rufenhime. I immediately set about the room looking for the means by which they gained entry, as I was the best suited for the task while my siblings continued the discussion with the king. After making my circuit about the room I returned to see King Borogrim produce the weapon that the assassin dropped on the way out of his chambers, it was an exact replica of the weapon that Lady Smilos uses to ensure the loyalty of her assassins.

At this time, almost as if bidden to appear at my thoughts, Bronzefist came into the room announcing that Lady Smilos of Daggermark was in Highhelm and was requesting an audience with King Borogrim. The king was exceedingly gracious and allowed her to enter his chambers. At the time we had a brief verbal sparring match, she is much more cunning than I had anticipated and left once the issue of the dagger was brought up.

King Borogrim asked that we stay for the games he had scheduled to help alleviate some of the tension between the two religious factions, tension we had a hand in creating due to our failed attempts to stop the suicide of one of the priests when we first arrived here. Heading down to the coliseum we all took our spots near the king. I was trying to pay particular attention to the crowd, since if Lady Smilos was to be believed she had no hand in sending an assassin to the dwarvish king. After a short survey of the room I spotted her with some of her guards and decided to make my way over to her. We spoke briefly about the dagger, and my training, as well as if she had any people who would go to such lengths to frame her. I also asked about a powder that we found in the room, one that blocked my brothers heightened sense of smell. He only replies were half-truths and deceptions, cementing my belief that she was ultimately responsible for this. Going back to the pavilion for the king, I used my innate magical gift to take the form of Amaras while I asked him to survey the crowd, looking for another telltale scent, that same scent that blocked his ability back in the kings chambers.

He spent a good deal of time searching for it, leaving out lady Smilos as I had requested, and found nothing, no scent of it at all, except on her. This cemented in my mind the need for us to go back up the kings chambers, especially since he detected the feint traces of poison under the sharp pepper scent. We quickly move away from the kings box, leaving both Mirri and Amaras with the king, while Palanon, Lor’Athorn and I rushed up the stairs toward the kings chambers.

Reaching the first guard post we encountered Bronzefist, and had a difficult time convincing him to allow us to pass. He finally agreed when we suggested he join us, as he would know better if anything was amiss in the kings chambers. Rushing up the stairs we reached the suite, bursting into the room in a flurry of motion. Quickly examining the room we realized that the only person in the room was Rufenhime. With Lor’Athorns detect poison active he was able to determine that the block that Rufenhime was playing with was laced with some form of poison. We quickly converged on Rufenhime and he bolted for the window. He almost made it but I managed to grab him just before he reached the ledge. A quick dispel magic revealed that Rufenhime was actually Rufus Thorngage, one of Lady Smilos’s assassins.

After a short discussion with Rufus we were able to bluff, intimidate, and talk all the pertinent information out of him. He was sent her to kill King Borogrim, but was supposed to wait for Lady Smilos before making his move. He also mentioned that he was not supposed to be caught, and now she would likely try to kill him if she could. We decided to keep him alive, as he is a good deal more valuable alive then dead (especially if you want to scare her current allies). It was at about this time that the bells alerting the guards that the king was on his way were heard in the corridor outside.

Casting a quick illusion on Rufus we made him look like a normal dwarf and went down to meet the king. We all escorted him back to his chambers, Rufus under my guard, and revealed what had transpired to the king once he was in the safety of his room. He was not especially thrilled, I would dare to say murderous, when he was told of the deception played by Rufus. He commanded that he be removed from his sight and taken to the cells beneath Highhelm. Taking my leave for a moment I quickly spoke with Rufus and told him I would attempt to gain his freedom if he would help me gain control of the assassins guild. He seems to be willing to assist, so I have gain a stay of execution on the young Halfling for a time, we shall see if he is as useful as I hope.

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Journey to Highhelm
Vanya

We recently made the journey to Highhelm to assist King Borogrim with some internal issues in his lands. Our trip was mostly a slow journey through the realm, I think this was intentional as we can travel with a bit less fanfare then the king can, and as such paid close attention to the people we came in contact with. Overall it seemed like there was a great deal of tension in each area we stopped at, more than any of us were used to.
Once we arrived at Highhelm we were taken to meet King Borogrim in his personal rooms, an expansive complex at the highest point in the sky citadel. Honestly he looked run down, to the point where I was sure he was at the breaking point. We talked for a bit on pleasantries, and his son, who suddenly appeared out of the blue a short time ago, and the raising of his son has taken its toll on his spirits. As we continued our conversation he turned the topic to the reason we were here, something of great value and danger was stolen from the vault where they keep the most valuable and dangerous artifacts of dwarven culture.
The item in question was a stone key, one that we were told unlocked a gate in the lowest parts of the keep, a stone door that lead back into the Darklands. The reason we were called in was to look at the room and see if we could determine how the thief got the treasure out of the room. I spent a good deal of my time looking at the other artifacts to be honest, you never know when knowledge of what you allies have in the wings will prove useful, while my other siblings focused on the task at hand. In the end it was Palanon who discovered the means by which the thief gained entry, the use of a gaseous form spell allowed the perpetrator to pass uncontested through the force walls that acted as windows. Following that it looked like the thief used some universal solvent to break the bonds on the case that held the key. We were praised by Borogrim for our keen insights, yet I wish we had not been so complete in our assessment of how the person gained entry. The shortfalls we saw have more than likely been addressed already.
We got into a heated discussion about what to do about the tunnel after we established the means by which the thief got into the room. In the end we had to go down into the depths to see it for ourselves. Moving through the corridors to the door it was apparent that the possibility of holding a line here against a larger force was possible. They had collapsed outlying rooms and created a single passage by which to move from the darklands to the surface. At the end of the corridor there was a large stone door, and we all set about examining it with our own methods, some with magic, others with natural senses, each of us looking for the same thing, some telltale sign that there was activity beyond the door.
As we examined it we gained another insight into the dwarven architecture, they like to make false doors. The massive door we were studying was not actually the entrance into the darklands but a facsimile. The actual door was more of a cover over the a pit, the very floor we were standing on. Upon learning of this we came up with a number of possible solutions to the problem that was posed by this door being right under the seat of power in the dwaven kingdoms. Some were as simple as collapsing the tunnel, but that would only stop them for a short time. Another was filling the area with traps, the last of which would bring down the cavern on any advancing army that came out of the pit. I personally felt the best option would be to clear out the side passages and use illusion magic to hide a greater force to attack from the flanks when they do break through.
Lord Borogrim did not like any of our suggestions that much, as they all broke with tradition. The passageway was the means by which they maintained the connection to Torag, and collapsing the passage would damage his standing with the church. I suggested that the passage was just a cave that held no real religious significance, since there was another location that could be used to gain information directly from Torag, a true spiritual site.
Borogrim agreed with my assessment and set up a meeting with all the heads of the clans and religious groups in the Five Kings Mountains. Such an event was a rarity and honestly was working out better than I had thought it would, until we noticed one of the church members acting strangely. So using my special ability, I took on the form of Lor’Athorn while he moved unseen down to the platform to stop the man should he attempt to disrupt the meeting. Little did I know that my intentions would bring the nation toward chaos. We did everything we could to stop the man, but in the end the actions we took to attempt to stop him only made it look like we attacked him. He light himself on fire just as a magical attack from Palanon struck the man.
We did what we could to calm the people, but in the end our actions drove a wedge between the two groups. It was at about this time that Bronzefist approached us with an issue of hostages in the living quarters. Seeing that our presence at the meeting would only be a problem, we agreed to go help. Upon arriving we were told that Gram Brokenshield had taken a number of young serving women hostage. We decided to split up, Navarre and I would use some potions of gaseous form to move in through the air vents, while the rest of my siblings would negotiate at the front door.
While I do not know what transpired before we materialized in the room, when we did arrive there was only one dwarf in the area, and a number of piles of armor in the back of the room. Advancing quickly we attacked the dwarf dispatching him with relative ease, what we did not see was a vampire hiding in the shadows. After her compatriot was killed, she launched a massive ball of fire at us, nearly killing Amaras. The frenzied battle that followed left us victorious but battered; we had not expected to find such a foe in within the walls of Highhelm.

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Same Fungus Different Day

Journal of Lor’Athorn Edasseril

Entry the twentieth

Alchemical Discovery: No new discoveries for this week, but I am working on the principles of pressure as they apply to projectiles. As I notice the mechanical action of black powder weapons, I wonder what other means of projecting bolts can be employed. I have experimented lightly with the use of air pressure, similar to that of a blow dart. I don’t have anything to show for it yet, but the research so far is promising.

Main Entry:
I write this from Highhelm, the Dwarven capital. Our experiences here have been both harrowing and depressing. We have not only been embroiled in the political machinations of the Dwarven state, but we have also discovered a dreaded link between the enemies of the Dwarves, and ours.

As we were brought in by the associates of King Borogrim, we had taken in a bit of Dwarven culture. It was certainly pleasant, save for the odd behavior of the people, which we were assured was not normal. Even Palanon was being more obnoxious than usual, though I do not know if this is related.

All the same, we managed to run into some interesting fellows, including Lirimas the elf (an almost welcome site among all the dwarves), and our former associate Girath. They were both welcoming, though they had apparently heralded a fist fight. Though there were suspicious actions during that fight, we thought little of it, and proceeded.

When we met Borogrim, he told us of his problem. A key had been stolen, and it opened the door to the underground. This was at once disturbing for many reasons. First, the key was in a place that could not be breached normally. A cursory investigation found that it was the doing of a gaseous creature, and we dreaded the implication.

The second reason is that the underground tunnel was a potential gateway of the ancient dwarven enemies that might bubble up from the entrance to deal real harm. We languished a while, and wondered if the tunnel was better off caved in. The doorway was of religious importance, so its abandonment would cause echoes across the dwarven religious establishment.

Borogrim, wise as always, forced the issue, and gave a speech on the necessity of the matter, but one of his religious advisers had interrupted the speech through self-immolation. We still have yet to discern what caused this sudden action, but it was enough to cause a panic. The people of Highhelm were in a frenzy, and we stood out as suspicious characters.

During this initial panic, Borogrim received news of a hostage situation nearby. Not being of any use politically in that moment, we volunteered to rescue the hostages. Ultimately, there would be no hostages. A dark dwarf in the guise of Girath had gotten some of his dark fellows to make the whole thing up. We literally caught wind of the plan halfway through, and moved in to neutralize the imposter.

Doing that was easy enough. We managed to defeat the dark dwarf handily. What came next was a shock, if not a surprise. A vampire, as we had guessed, was helping. Not only that, but she was a dark elf as well, so there was no love lost between her and our group.

Amaras, ever watchful of his animal companion, had taken the brunt of the initial assault. Nilsha, however, had managed to defend him nobly. She died in that battle, though I understand she has been brought back by magics already. I hope this is the only time we have to test the veil.

The battle raged on, and we feared the worst. Vampires are very terrifying foes, especially when gifted with magic. We eked out a small victory against it, but had been dismayed. If another one of those creatures were around, we may not be so fortuitous.

Now, I help the King deal with the aristocratic dwarves who pose a challenge to his sovereignty. I do not know how effective this may be, but I prefer it to quiet speculation. Until something more is revealed, all I can do is keep my mind occupied, and hope that the shadows at the edge of my sight are not real.

End Entry.

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Bulette Time
Vanya

King Borogrim stopped by last week, and such an unexpected visit is always a thing of note around the estate. He arrived with his nephew, a fine warrior and from what I later learned a hunter of exotic animals. Borogrim wanted our permission to allow his nephew to travel into our lands to hunt a fiendish bulette near the Tanglebriar. Seeing as how it is our custom to prohibit such excursions, he felt it would be best to ask for our permission.
Seeing as how we have played a game of innuendo and bluff before I caught on rather quickly to what he was requesting. He did not want his nephew to run off alone to face the beast, and I rather quickly offered our guidance in his hunt, since he would need a guide to pass unmolested into the forest, and since he was a person of standing, it would be foolish to saddle him with common soldiers as escort. After making the preparations Borogrim and his nephew left, and in their spot came our advisors.
They seemed to be a bit worried about our desire to help Borgrim and he nephew, as the Tanglebriar was once again coming to life. Treerazor has once again sent out his armies to assault the line. Also Phos has been the subject of a haunting here in Velethi, while Hialin has become more paranoid since his capture (and that does not bode well for any of us if the master of spies cannot cope with his fear).
We set out shortly after the meeting with the advisors, using the elfgates to quickly travel to the Tanglebriar and start our hunt for this Bulette. It did not take long after we entered the area it was said to live before Borogrim’s nephew called for a halt. What happened next was surprising; he walked out into the middle of a clearing and started shouting and smashing his ax into the dirt. This was very efficient at calling the Bulette to him, it jumped out of the ground a few feet away from him and clamped its massive jaws onto his leg. He was able to shake it off and my siblings charged in to deal with the beast. I however stood back, watching quietly with my sister and the twins. This beast they were fighting was not the terror I had heard of, in fact before we could really come to grips with what had happened the beast was dead, Amaras was transformed into a cat, tearing at the back it the creatures head, pulling out gobs of red flesh and gray chunks.
Once the beast stopped twitching Borogrims nephew grew excited and called out that the mother was coming now as the ground trembled beneath our feet. With a gout of sand and dirt it burst forth from the earth, a red and black creature, slick with a dark secretion that came from between cracks in the carapace. And this devil was not going after the dwarf, but rather my poor sister Mirri. Luckily Navarre was close and pushed her out of the way of the assault, taking the attack himself. With this new threat we all burst forward, trying to gain some ground on the creature, yet as soon as we closed in it dived into the earth again. A few seconds past and it surged forward from the dirt again, its same target was Mirri, and this time Navarre was ready, stepping in front of Mirri to protect her from the slashing claws.
Managing to get around behind the beast I was able to attack the soft flesh between the joint of its legs, nicking an artery in the process, causing foul black blood to pour out of the wound. The black blood seemed to stick to my sword, melting the metal as a hot knife melts butter. Yet again and again I stabbed into the soft parts of the beast, fear pressing me forward as I knew it would not stop trying to kill my little sister. Our combined efforts proved to be too much for the beast and eventually it was slain, yet it looked like Navarre was sorely wounded from defending Mirri for the duration of the fight. Borogrim’s nephew was exceedingly pleased and took a few minutes to cut the head from the body of the beast, proof of his great deed (although I think it would have ended badly for him if we had not been here to help).
It was a good day for us, yet I cannot help but feel a bit worried that the worst of what the Tanglebriar contains has yet to be revealed.

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