Legacy of the Forlorn

A view from outside part 4

An excerpt from a druid in the city
By Jaylinn

Writing these journals about my past has never been easy for me but is something I do because I know I must and I know it serves a greater purpose. I had recently begun to think back on my early years in the forest and I recall most strongly the day that Amaras stepped out of my life for a time. I remember it so well because I can so easily recall the pain in my heart when that day came and of the anger that filled me near to bursting. I was still young then no more than sixteen winters and I still did not know how to control the many emotions that were running rampant in my body nor did I know how to put words to them. All I knew is that whenever I saw Amaras my heart would beat faster and I would perspire a bit more and when he touched me it sent thrills through my body that both delighted and frightened me. Such are the feelings of love but for a young girl to know that is asking a lot, all I did know is that I wish he would flirt with me like Cade had, that he would give me small gifts or smile at me with one that held more affection then just friendship in it. I have learned a great deal more of his people in the years since then and love is one of the large gaps between our people. Where humans can fall in love quickly sometimes with nothing more than a simple look it takes an elf years if not decades to know love for a person. But when they do feel love, true heartfelt love for a person it last for hundreds of years and they give of themselves to that person in a way more profound than any human could ever give to another. They don’t hide anything from their lover, they bear their souls and share them in an almost magical way that most shorter lived races could never understand. To them making love is more than just a simplistic pleasure it is a blending of two beings. Try to explain that to a girl of sixteen winters and you will get nowhere!

At that time all I knew is that I kept throwing coy looks at him, would reach out to touch him in a tender way and though his smiles would make me weak he never returned the actions. And when I learned that he had nearly died in the forest only to be saved by an elven women I was furious for no reason. Why had it not been me? Why had Nil’sha not sought me out to help him? Truth? Well that is something that is often harder to accept then the worst lie you can tell yourself. Because had she he would have been dead before I ever arrived. It still made me angry and when I did see him after that incident and he would not tell me where the half healed scars came from I was even angrier and acted like a spoiled, jealous child. I still recall my harsh words to him that day by the lake. “Why can’t you tell me Amaras? What could you tell that tramp elf who found you in the woods? Is that it? You can tell some stranger but not me? Because I am nothing more than a human who couldn’t understand is that it!” I stormed away after that leaving him there staring after me his hurt heart splayed over his face like an open book. I did not see him for close to three months after that and I of course assumed it was because of me but in truth he was dealing with other more personal problems.

When he did return I noticed that something was different about him, he was quicker to anger towards others for small things. He seemed more nervous in the city almost like he was a caged animal, I also noticed the marks on his body still had not healed and my magic could not affect them at all. We sat there on our rock watching the sun set when he reached out and took me in a strong embrace, hot tears splashing down my neck his words heavy in my ears. “I’m scared Jaylinn, I don’t know what is happening to me but with each month that passes I find myself slipping more and more. At first I thought it was nothing but now I find there are parts of my memories I have lost. I snap at people for no reason, I even raised my claws to Cade when he spoke out of turn.” I wrapped my arms around him and held him and I wanted to tell him so much then that I loved him but I didn’t know how nor did it seem appropriate. We sat that way as the moon rose and then he pushed back from me and smiled sadly. “I am leaving for the deeper parts of the forest my friend….I seem only to know peace there and I worry that till I can learn to control or even know what is happening to me it is the only safe place for me.” We ended up talking for sometime after that and I realized that where at first I felt like he was punishing me in some way by leaving he was in fact leaving to protect me. How long before he snapped at me or worse called forth his claws and fangs? What would happen if he could not control himself and something I did set him off? He was leaving because he did not want to hurt me or the other children or for that fact anyone he cared for.

Come morning he was gone having left me a gift. It was a golden acorn from the great tree and carefully etched into it and inlaid with silver in the common tongue was the words “Farewell my bright star, may your light one day help guide me out of the darkness.” Below were etched words in the druidic language “Light laughter and sweet water my friend.” It would be a long time before I saw him again and many things would change in my life and I would learn a important fact about humans and how when we can’t have what we truly want we take what we are offered at times. But no matter how many decades passed the feelings in my heart for him never faded in the slightest and I think that is what made his loss tear at my soul all the more. To have to stand by and watch as the illness in him ripped him away bit by small bit and stole the man I knew as a child not only from me but from his family as well was the single hardest thing I ever had to endure in my life.

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Darkness Divided
Vanya

Sometimes I wonder what goes on in my sisters head. We had all agreed to avoid telling father any more about what Falcon had told us, but she went off and drilled into him all the horrible things he claims to have done. Am I the only one that realizes that she has played right into his hands. If Falcon was lying to us, we gave him strength and credibility when father has to confront him, as I have a feeling this will eventually happen. If he was telling the truth we further his agenda by telling father so he will dwell on it, becoming more withdrawn and depressed. In both cases we lose, the only way to win that fight was to deny our enemy battle, yet Miri gave Falcon exactly what he wanted when he first told us of his supposed involvement with all our parents, a way to wound our father and seed doubt, fear, and ultimately anger, into his mind. All so when they finally meet, Falcon will have the upper hand. I do not know if this damage can be repaired, I only hope that the time it takes father to come out of this state will be short and swift.
And while Miri’s conversation with father has been at the forefront of my thoughts another development occurred which has me greatly angered. Falcon had my mentor, Hialin, kidnapped. While I do not know the method by which they abducted him, my fear is they used his love of my father, his daughter, or my siblings and I as a means to keep him from fighting back when they accosted him. He was supposed to meet with the rest of us during the ceremony that Quilandra conducted to reactivate the corrupted elfgate, yet he didn’t show (something that Quillandra was quite upset about, though she didn’t show it to anyone). It was a few days after that when we received word about the abduction; some scouts had found the trail Hialin had left in the woods, before he was captured and a clue at the final location of his tracks, a small box. This box had been delivered to us and when we opened it, in the presence of the court we saw an image of Falcon. He said he was not sure he could appear in person around us anymore as we had a tendency to attack first and listen to reason later. I will enjoy taking a slow revenge out on this man when the time comes. Every time I see him I feel a great darkness welling up within my soul, something that screams to be let out, to tear into this man and make him feel agony the like of which no moral has yet experienced. When this happens I can sense the shadows of the room grow darker, almost as if the light no long has the power to push them aside.
After receiving his threat and demand, as usual a trade of one person for an item of power, in this case the seed pouch that is a paired item to the decanter I was unable to secure a few years ago, we set about trying to create a plan of action to get back Hialin. A great many things were discussed, destroying the item, going in with swords drawn in an ever so dangerous charge (much like walking into a lion’s den), talking with the captors and using diplomacy to gain his release. All of which seemed like bad ideas alone, but a combination of them all would work well, and we agreed on an amalgamation of all the plans proposed. Father gave us the seed pouch, and a secondary artifact, a Bag of Devouring, which would destroy any object placed inside. We also agreed that Quillandra should accompany us, for a multitude of reasons, first that she has a connection to Risa, who Amaras discerned would be our counterpart in this little exchange(he mentioned something about a phrase in Palanons book that mentioned the events of today). And she was bloodkin to Hialin, so we had hoped that such an outpouring of genuine emotion would throw Risa off balance, appeal to her emotional center if you will. Palanon had an insightful idea to have a word of recall placed on Quillandra with a contingency spell, all we would have to do is speak a command phrase and she would be transported to safety.
With our plans set, we left Valithi and went to the Glade of Songs to meet Risa and make the exchange. Upon arriving we were set upon by a foe we could not fight. The sounds of the glade had turned from a tune of peace and tranquility to one of dispare and woe. As we progressed further into the glade I had to stop and place some earplugs in my ears to avoid succumbing to the dirge that was playing through the woods, all my siblings were not so fortunate, as every one of them gradually became sadden and fell under the ill effects of the song. Their movements and behaviors where those of a defeated foe, lost with little hope of victory. As we neared the center of the glade I saw the witch that took my brothers ear, Risa. I had sworn to Elensar that if I ever had the chance to gain revenge for what she did to him I would take it. He only cared about justice for those that died by her hand, but I would see vengeance taken against this creature, even if my siblings wanted to give her a chance at redemption (once again, I am the villain for wanting to kill a woman who has plotted against us and endangered the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people).
Once she noticed our arrival she stopped playing the song that floated through the trees of the glade, yet the effects still lingered on my family. Running back a few steps she shouted across the distance, and feel into the basic hostage negotiation pose, “give me what I want or your friend dies”, we asked for proof of life and she lowered the illusion hiding Hialin. Amaras went to the location she was siting and tried to talk to her, saying all the wrong things and making all the incorrect moves. I am surprised she did not run as soon as he advanced into the middle of the glade, as everything I had heard of this woman spoke of her as a coward. I took a closer look around while my siblings kept talking with this woman, seeking for some sign of her cohorts, as she would not be here alone. Yet the position was open, no signs of movement, and the underbrush would have alerted us to any intruders, as it was dry and broke at the slightest pressure. It was almost like I could read her mind, see that the trees flanking Amaras were actually shamblers, and that she was waiting for the rest of us to move in closer so we would all be grabbed when she sprung her trap. With a quick thought I sent out a message to them all that it was a trap and Amaras needed to come back to us. I move quickly to Quillandra and told her to move to her grandfather as fast as she could, and gave Palanon a quick question about the magic protecting Quillandra, would it transport more than one person. My haste in warning my siblings of the danger was a mistake I discovered. First Amaras did not move back as I had asked, and all my other siblings started moving forward, with the posture of battle all over their movements.
Being a coward, Risa, saw this and ran away as fast as she could, and with no further control the shamblers grabbed Amaras and began tearing at him, their grip breaking bone and rupturing flesh. With a quick shout I told Quillandra to run to her grandfather, pushing the seed pouch into her hands while I talked, then I sprinted toward the closest shambler. With the bag of devouring in my hands I pressed it against the back leg of the shambler, hopeful that it would begin the process of consuming the plant abomination. Miri quickly ran forward to heal our dying brother, as his life was quickly being squeezed from his mortal form. With Miri’s movement I was able to jump up onto the hulk’s back, sliding the point of my rapier into the base if what should have been a skull, and with a small flip of my wrist , severed the spine ending the existence of the creature. It was at about this time that Quillandra finally reached her grandfather (she was trying to hide while moving around us, instead of sprinting like I told her), and with a quick word, I activated the magic protecting her, taking her, Hialin, and the seed pouch to safety in a single instant. The second shamble was being bombarded with magic from both Palanon and Lor’Athorn, which ended it in short order as well.
After providing enough healing to Amaras to keep him alive we rushed to capture Risa (Or kill her as I had planned on doing). But seeing us killing the only protection she had, Risa pulled a small object from her tunic and smashed it on the ground. My thoughts are that she believed that it was an escape method, but the shock on her face at what happened next gave me no small amount of joy. She was sucked into a tear in the fabric of the universe. It was at this point were Amaras decided that he was going to jump into the rift and save her, heroic actions wasted on a villain. Palanon and I tried to keep him from jumping in, but Miri of all people was actually encouraging his behavior. It was during our argument that Lor’Athorn threw his sword into the dimensional breach with a rope attached and yelled in that Risa needed to grab the sword and we would pull her to safety.
Risa grabbed the only part of the sword she could, the blade, and Amaras, Miri, and Lor’athorn worked at pulling her from the rift. Bloody, scared and frightened, Risa stood before us, what we were not prepared for was the thing that followed. A mechanical creature exited the rift and demanded we return her to him for judgment, some sort of arbiter of the planes seems to have taken an interest in her death, which I was all for. One less enemy to watch out for was fine by me, and I was prepared to push her back into the crack in the universe when Amaras spoke up again asking to know what her crime was and so on and so forth. It appears that the higher powers have taken notice of Risa’s tampering with the gate and created this entity to punish her, the only problem I had with that is that her punishment was going to be swift and in many ways painless. My brothers started talking about defending her, it was at this point where I spoke up and said I would like to see her burn for all the things she has done. So the entity, Guardian of broken keys or some such nonsense is what it called itself, set up a short trial. I was to play the part of prosecution, while Palanon defended Risa. Both of us made compelling arguments, in my estimation they were compelling, and I think it would have gone my way, but Miri chimed in and asked that the duality of Risa’s soul be split, so the evil portion of her is punished, while the good is allowed to go free. With a quick strike the Guardian split Risa in two, and while everyone else said they saw a good and evil split, I saw a split between fiend and fay, and my fear is that the bargain both Amaras and Miri agreed to, taking responsibility for Risa’s further actions was part of the release agreement, would be their undoing.
It is only now, days after the events in the Glade of Songs that we fully understand the implications of their agreement. Risa is gone, but so is her mother Brightglade. Brightglade and Risa have left golden oak to travel the world and be happy. One of the sacred sites in Kyonin is without a protector, Risa is free to travel the land as she sees fit, and she still possesses all the knowledge that got us into this mess in the first place. If there is one thing I know, it is this, given the right pressure, everyone talks. Our enemies now have another chance to gain the knowledge they want from Risa, we would have been better off with her trapped in limbo for all eternity.

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Fungus everywhere
Vanya

Father has once again called on us to assist with matters that most of us are not prepared to handle. We have received an urgent message from him that Elensar has fallen ill, and he needs us to come to Sevenarches as soon as possible. So with all haste we have left Erages, and the protection of Quilandra, and moved toward Sevenarches. Upon our arrival we were greeted with a grisly sight, Elensar seems to have contracted the strange fungal disease that we had first encountered on the boat that crashed into the cliffs of Greengold. The strange fungus seems to be growing out of every inch of his body, I was amazed that he had not yet succumbed to the attack, and it is only a testament to our fathers power and skill that we had not arrived to mourn our brother. He said the only way to cure him would be to collect a sample from the location where he was infected.
Father told us of a few surprising developments, first is that the arches that the town was built around are not elfgates, rather recreations, and as such have no magical power (I wish I had known this earlier, but we have no records of what the gates actually looked like in this region). Secondly, he said that Elensar went off alone, the idiot, to find the true location of the gates, and had approached a village of awakened wolves to find the information as to the true location of the Gates. It had been some time since Elensar had fallen ill, but those that found him said he had stumbled from the forest to the north already overtaken by the fungus. My siblings and I had a heated discussion as to where we should go first, a number of them wanted to go directly to the forest to confront the foe, I suggested we follow the same path as Elensar, in hopes that we could learn what he did, and further prepare ourselves for the same enemy he confronted. Eventually we all agreed that following his path would provide the best hope for success in finding a cure to this disease. (it truly feels like herding cats at times, getting all my siblings to follow one set of plans)
We left with all haste to this village of awakened wolves, and while I had hoped that our scent, the same familial scent that Elensar possessed, would provide us with a diplomatic connection to the wolves I was mistaken. When we arrived we were stopped by one wolf and told to leave, and if we did not they would force us out of their land. Palanon made an impassioned speech, requesting that they tell us what they had told Elensar, as he was deathly ill and needed assistance. This however did not move the wolf, and with the culmination of Palanon’s request we were attacked by the other wolves that had been lying in wait. Not only were these beast intelligent but they had managed to tame a few bears as well, which charged into the fray with amazing speed. (I sometimes do not appreciate the sacrifices my brother Navarre has made to become the fighter he is, but facing these bears, all I could think was I wish he was here, rather than training with the dwarves). I managed to stop one of the wolves from flanking the group, keeping it occupied with attacks and feints, I used my sap to attack instead of my sword, as I wanted to keep them alive rather than kill them. My siblings however had no problems using lethal force against our foes, and in short order one of the wolves had been killed, burned and broken by both magic and claw. With this Palanon made another plea for the wolves to stand down before they were all killed, when all we requested was information, the same information they provided to Elensar. The wolves stopped the attack and forced their pets away to allow for a conversation with their leader. The wolves told us to stay and avoid approaching any closer to the village while they told the elder of our presence.
We waited for a short time, and for a while I wondered at my siblings behavior, at times they espouse mercy for those we would call our enemies, while at the same time slay those we may one day call our friend. The fact that they consider me to the morally questionable sibling has me at odds. I kill to protect them and I admit, sometimes it is fun to take an opponent unawares, but there is always a greater purpose served when I take a life, and I do so with consideration and purpose when possible. Their willingness to slay anyone who dares attack them is in some ways troubling, as there are instances where killing severs no purpose other than to remove a momentary threat.
After a great deal of time, and my thoughts therein, the elder of the village appeared, and was it a shock to us all when we finally saw the leader of this group of awakened wolves. A huge werewolf walked crested the small hill we had been waiting. Towering over us all it told us of the gates and the true location they were at, the forest north of Sevenarches. He also told us a little bit of history regarding the gate, and maybe in his own way their function. These gates connected to alternate planes of existence, and the plane that had been most recently opened had forced this group of wolves from the forest and was causing them to lose their ability to think like other intelligent creatures. When this new gate was opened the other was closed, and the area around the gates became overrun with fungus and disease. We asked for a guide from this wolf and he agreed, sending one of the guards we had encountered earlier to lead us to the gate network.
We travelled for some time, and as we approached the forest, the feeling of dread started seeping into my soul. A group of elven mercenaries had been lost in these woods, people I had hired to help sow the seeds of fear into the people of Sevenarches, so that the acquisition of their territory would be easier and come with less bloodshed then an actual confrontation would have brought about. But those scouts never returned, and I feared that the illness that now had Elensar at deaths door may have also claimed them. As we traveled through the forest my fears were realized, at time we found what looked like the decaying remains of people attached to mossy outcroppings on trees or near rocks, covered in the fine gray hair like fungus that we had seen too many times before. At this point our guide refused to go further, saying instead that the gates were just ahead and that it did not expect to see us again, with that it bounded off back the way we had come.
As we entered the area of the gates, I know I personally was not prepared for what we saw. Instead of small or even normal sized structures that we have come to attribute to the gates, we were confronted with towering structures, easily 30 feet or more in height with a span that could handle 15 people walking side by side. It was here that I realized that we were not the progenitors of the elfgates, rather we took the knowledge from some other race or civilization and made it our own, for we did not create this stone monoliths. These gates were primordial and old when the world was young in my estimation, Palanon also discovered that they did not connect to any location on this plane, just as the werewolf had said, rather each gate connected to a different location outside the material realm.
The only open gate was seeping the fungal spores onto the ground and into the air, and as a precaution we all drank a potion that Lor’Athorn had prepared for us, something to help keep the fungus from taking root when we breathed in. We also all tied pieces of cloth around our faces, in hopes that the spores would not be able to pass through when we breathed. Lor’Athorn and Palanon both set about studying the arch in hopes of determining a way to close it off from our plane of existence. While the rest of us waited for them to see how the gates worked we started discussing the ways in which we could completely shut off this portal, and that was when we came up with the idea of causing an explosion with the alchemical supplies that Lor’Athorn is always carrying around. It was about this time that Lor’Athorn and Palanon managed to determine that they only way to stop this gate would be to destroy the connection on the other side as they could not close the door from this side, something about tidal forces of magic and energy flows across planes.
So we had to enter this fungal realm, steeling ourselves we walked across the threshold with the intention of closing the rift and leaving as soon as possible. Upon crossing from our plane to this new one we were all stunned. The change in locations was so alien that it caused many of us to lose our sense of reality, but only one of us made the mistake of breathing in too deeply to regain our sense of composure, Amaras took a sharp intake of breath once he crossed and became almost immediately ill as a result, as the air was caked with the spores of fungus that slowly seeped from the gate in the prime material plane. The landscape was bizarre, huge mushrooms and other fungal life abounded in the area, a stagnant pool of water was just below the ledge we were on and the portal rose behind us, the only connection we have to our world. We quickly set about trying to get the bomb in position so we could make our escape, yet it was too late, we had been noticed they the denizens of this place. The largest of the mushrooms in front of the portal split with a sucking sound and an eye sprouted from the wound, and in that instant we could all feel the malevolent joy surround us, and the portal winked out of existence. Desperately both Palanon and Lor’Athorn tried to open it again, but it appears that this portal cannot be opened from this side of the gate.
In another moment, two shambling mounds grew out of the landscape and started moving toward our location. In a desperate attempt to slow them down I hurled the dagger I had been given for my birthday toward one of the creature, and seemed to have severed something vital, as I crashed to the ground as the blade struck true. Buying us a little time we hurried with the bomb while the others focused their attacks on the one still advancing on our position. Placing the bomb at the apex of the arch, hoping that would be the weakest point in the structure we armed the fuse and continued our assault on the shambling mounds, not to save ourselves but to keep them from reaching the bomb. Eventually we managed to fight off both shamblers, although Nil’Sha was wounded in the slaying of the second, and our brief moment of glory was extinguished by another shambler appearing, and then another, and another until the horizon was filled with these towering abominations. In the moment were everything seemed lost a ray of hope appeared, the portal opened and we saw our father standing on the other side, beckoning us to hurry though the portal. Without a moment’s hesitation we leapt through the portal, just as the explosion rocked the ledge we had been standing on a moment before, closing the portal behind us.
As our father checked to make sure we were all right, I looked around, feeling that we were not alone, afraid that something had managed to slip though the portal with us. Instead I saw Falcon, standing with a self-satisfied smirk on his face, so I once again threw my dagger without thought, and just as it was inches from plunging into his eye, he vanished. I like to think I saw a moment of fear pop into his eyes, but that may be wishful thinking on my part.
Father said that Elensar started to recover only a short time ago and that he was able to tell father the location of the gates, something that saved our lives, and makes me think that time passes differently on various planes of existence. With that we returned to Sevenarches and started collecting our things. I did happen to hear both Elensar and Amaras talking about using the wolves as guardians again to ensure that nobody else can tamper with the gates, and Elensar agreed, they also planned to open the gate back to celesta to grant the wolves the ability to think once again. I am not sure how I feel about this but, it is not my place to run this region, that is a burden Elensar must bear.

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New Beginnings

We have beaten many foe’s over the years, but today we went further and turned one away from darkness. Risa had become a major threat to ourselves and Kyonin, and I know more then a few members of my family wanted her dead. I knew after we met her in the caves however, that there was a chance for her to repent and change her ways. I’m glad to know that I was right.

When I heard the news about Hialin’s capture I feared the worst for father. Telling him about the Dark Elves might have been a mistake. I knew that he was strong enough to bear the news, but he has aged greatly since then and now I fear that he truly can’t take much more. Hialin may be harsh and condescending, but he is still a good friend to father and a loyal servant to our family. Even if a trap awaited us, we had to try to save him.

It was an interesting coincidence that Risa had been waiting at the Glade of Songs. Amaras claims that he has known she had been there for a while. Why didn’t he let any of us know? I wonder about my brother sometimes. He has been acting strange lately. Be that as it may, it has been many years since I’ve visited the glade. Amaras told us that our mother took him there several times. I keep forgetting how close they were and how her loss still hurts him. I was never really close with my mother so her loss doesn’t hurt me as much. I wonder which of us is better off? Still, from what I remember The Glade of Songs was a beautiful place, and the song on the winds gave you a feeling of tranquility. Now it is dead and dark, and the song it plays has been replaced with a terrible dirge. Its sad to see what has become of my mothers garden.

In the center of garden waited Risa. Just looking at her I can see she was on edge and that time has been cruel to her. She had lost what beauty she once had and now looked more like an madwomen. I see the time she spent with the Dark Elves has had an effect on her. Still both me and Amaras’s words were reaching her, and the more we spoke the more I could see the two sides of her conflicting. I can’t imagine what it was like for her living with such powerful emotions. I was starting to fear that death might actually be a blessing for her when she opened the portal. From the look on her face I have a feeling the Dark Elves didn’t tell her exactly what was going to happen. I admit now that jumping in after her like me and Amaras planned would have been foolish, but I wasn’t going to let her die in another horrible plain when she was so close to being saved. Thank Erastil for Lor’Athorn’s quick thinking of using his sword and magic to pull her out. Of course it is never that easy.

Just as I was knitting her wounds, a strange create the likes of which I have never seen showed up. It looked like a wizards golem, only with moving gears like a clock. Lorathorn later told me that this was an Inevitable, a race of creatures created to stop those who break the greater laws of creation. That this happens so often that an entire race was created to stop it is not a pleasant thought. The Inevitable claimed that the opening of portals was starting to disrupt the planes and that Risa’s punishment for such was obliteration. First of all, I would not wish obliteration on my greatest enemy let alone someone who was on the verge of redemption. Also this portal was not Risa’s fault, merely a trick from the Dark Elves. Thankfully we were able to convince the Inevitable to give Risa a trial. Palanon would argue in her defense and Vanya would be her prosecutor. I wish Elensar was there for the trial considering his time as an Inquisitor, but Palanon surprised me. He came foreword and gave a noble and logic argument in Risa’s defense with a aura of wisdom and discipline I would not have expected from him. I must remember that my brother has come far since his days at school. Vanya of course did an impeccable job of explaining why Risa deserved to be obliterated. I don’t know if it was to show the Inevitable she was being serious or is she really is that cold and cruel? Finally I stepped forward and tried to persuade the Inevitable that if Risa was to be punished that perhaps it would be better that she be forced to fix the problems she had made. Also I asked that if it had the power, to split Risa’s two natures apart and punish just the one. It agreed and before another word was uttered it swung its scythe and split Risa into two separate beings. It claimed that it would take one to help fix the damage done and the other would be left in our care, and then vanished with one of the now two Risa’s.

Now Risa is free and is reunited with her mother. Without her fiendish side corrupting her, I have no doubt she live a peaceful life from here on. We also learned how much Hialin and Quillandra care for each other. They both have their…quirks, but underneath it all they have good hearts and I’m glad to call them friends.

Though Risa’s threat is now gone, the Dark Elves are still instigating their vile plans. Father has assigned me to finding out just who they are and why they are after our family. He has given me this task and I will not fail him. I’m sure this has something to do with the Elves who were left behind during the cataclysm. I wonder if the Dwarve’s have any records from that time?

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The Illusion of Law

Journal of Lor’Athorn Edasseril

Entry the fifteenth

Alchemical discovery- I spent some time away from gunpowder weaponry, given that I still find it somewhat unsavory. However, I believe I can improve upon the design somewhat, given that it is… apparently… thousands of years old. I had considered trying to miniaturize it, but that comes with all kinds of problems. For one, the gun then becomes concealable, portable, and useful in close quarters. It can become a tool of intimidation. Never the less, it becomes useful to know how such weapons will work with regards to ballistics, so that we can help blunt the inevitable invention of such a thing, as someone else may make it happen. As such, I have asked Navarre to help me design the miniturized version. However, in doing so, I came up with an idea.

The concept for a small bolt thrower appeals to me, not because of its destructive power, but because of its utility. In parallel, I am working on another design that throws not bolts, but alchemical concoctions; sleeping pellets, for instance. The trick is to find propulsion that won’t harm the projectile. In using gunpowder, we can still make a working design, but it is necessarily large. So far, we have successfully launched objects roughly the size of an earth fruit, with great success. To do this, we used gunpowder. However, if we wished to make the design smaller, we would have to use another propellant. The design is in progress…

Main Entry-

There is something I can’t quite fathom right now. Hialin was kidnapped by the enemy. He is said to be the counterpart to Falcon. I would like to imagine that this would suggest some fallibility on the part of Falcon, but I suspect that it does not. We are at a disadvantage. This organization, the Winter Council, has us outmaneuvered. We need an edge or an advantage of some kind, or we will be harangued by them at every turn, dancing to their disastrous tune.

Without delay, Falcon had delivered us a box, surreptitiously. It contained a message by illusion, meant not only to inform us of the trade he wished to make for Hialin, but also to taunt father. I have to wonder what lies Falcon was fed as a child to make him hate father so. His enjoyment of this torment makes me wish ill upon him even further.

The trade was for the seed bag that the green hag’s daughter needs to raise an army of shamblers. Of course, we desired to leave nothing to chance, and had no intention of giving the bag over. As a backup, we decided to destroy the item before letting them have it. To aid us in this, father acquired for us a bag of devouring, so that it would deny the enemy their prize if we needed it to.

Quillandra had eavesdropped on us, showing us a keenness that she likely inherited from Hialin himself. She wished to come, and assert herself. We were worried that she would be in danger, but she had made her case. She did not want to be in her great-grandfather’s shadow any longer. Moreover, she did worry about her grandfather as well, and wanted to see this event through.

We made our way to the Glade of Songs, where Risa was known to be. We attempted to reason with her, but she simply fled, perhaps too confused by her own duality to confront us after all. Amaras, confident and proud, stepped forward to convince her. To his credit, he was honest and earnest. However, he also stepped right into the enemy’s trap, and was caught between two shamblers. I think I have seldom feared for a sibling as I had that day, watching Amaras being mishandled by shamblers.

We fought bravely, destroying the shamblers as quickly as we could manage. Though we did not need to destroy the seed bag with the devouring bag, Vanya did put it to excellent use in having it consume the shambler. Never have I seen a magic item put to such good use as to destroy such a hated monster. Amaras was in bad shape by the fight’s end, and it was only through Mirrianna’s intervention that he had even survived the fight at all. I would scold him for being reckless, but that is who he is, and even now I am simply happy to see him in good health.

During the fight, Quillandra had managed to reach Hialin, and they both escaped, unharmed, and with the seed bag. It appeared that our extra precautions were for not, though it does cause some concern in me. This was all too haphazard for the Winter Council’s usual cunning and subtlety. All the same, we had to find Risa first.

We found her further ahead, and she attempted to escape with an item her so called allies had given her. It took her to the plane of order, instead. Miraculously, we managed to save her with wit and creativity. However, it was at a price. The Inevitable of Broken Keys, a being of immense power, had noticed Risa’s successful attempts to break the Elven gates and taint them. It had apparently also broken some ancient universal law in ways that had never been broken before. He was here for her soul.

We attempted our best to defend Risa, if for no other reason than to show her, and ourselves, that we were indeed more compassionate than our enemy. We succeeded, even in the face of this demi-being of law. Interestingly, Vanya played devil’s advocate. For that part she is aptly suited. I feel she did what was in her heart, and I do not fault her for it.

The end result was that Amaras and Mirrianna would take responsibility for the actions of Risa, in that they would not only prevent her from tainting gates, but that they themselves would have to be careful about their intervention in making gate alterations. Risa herself had her evil half removed, that half being conscripted by the inevitable for some strange purpose. In the end, we had gained Risa as an ally, and Risa had gained the solidarity and sanity she had so desperately sought.

We spoke later, with Hialin, who had intimated that he had gleaned something of their location underground during his captivity. However, the more important matter was the strangeness of this entire plot. Hialin’s capture, placing Risa in charge, and the halfhazard nature of the entire trap was very crude and unrefined. It bothers me.

Falcon had sent a message a few days later, saying that he had succeeded in some strange way, despite having lost Risa as a minion. Brightglade, the nymph that had been in charge of Goldenoak, was to leave and help guide the newly goodened Risa. This would leave Goldenoak open for invasion. He said little else other than to gloat like a child, but we had discerned that he wanted the golden tree itself for some dark magic. Our task now is to defend that tree.

Addendum- I have finished the work that Palanon commissioned. I have taken the illusion box that Falcon sent us, and altered it. My work was subtle. I changed Falcon’s tone to that of an elf, and his clothes to that of ancient elven fashion. I imagine that might get his attention.

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Dark Journey

For the first time in my life, I was sure I was going to die.

I should have known how bad things would be when I heard Elensar was sick. Though he had always looked deathly from birth, he had never been brought low by sickness. Seeing him lying in bed with his body struggling to fight off the infection made me fell more helpless then I have felt in a long time. It is my duty to keep my family safe and healthy. If I couldn’t cure the affliction that affected Elensar, than I have failed in my duty. I know I’m being too hard on myself because even father’s magic could barley keep the disease at bay. But still, with all my teachings, all my experiences and my faith, why do I not have that level of power yet?

Things went from bad to devastatingly horrible when we learned we had to go into the realm of Cyth-V’sug. When I first heard the news I actually felt cocky. I believed my readings on these dreaded realms and my faith in Erastil would give me the strength and knowledge I needed to vanquish whatever stood behind the arch. I was so wrong.

No words could describe the horrors of that place. It was truly something out of a nightmare. When we first entered, we were immediately assaulted by the contagion of the place and the gate behind us shut. Though my siblings stood strong, I succumbed to the sickness and began coughing and vomiting. I thought I could actually feel the spores inside me, violating me from within. Then the eye appeared. I looked up and realized that this was not just Cyth-V’sug’s realm, this was Cyth-V’sug itself. As it looked down I could feel it reading me, peering deep into my very soul. Soon Shamblers appeared and began to assault us. I could feel the amusement of Cyth-V’sug. That’s what me and my family were to it. Not an enemy to be hated or even an irritating nuisance. We were entertainment. When I first saw it I felt fear like I never felt before. This was truly a dark god and its power was immense. But after its feelings were revealed I drew upon my hatred instead. I stood and drew my bow and called upon Erastil and let an arrow fly at the eye. I knew even here Erastil could hear me and the arrow flew true and a slight tremor of pain ran through the realm as it struck. My victory was short lived as a hundred more eyes sprouted and its amusement increased. We smote the Shamblers but as they fell, a hundred more rose in their place. I knew then that no matter how hard we fought that we would die. As the horde approached I began to say my final prayers to Erastil, hoping that my soul was not too far away for him to grasp. Then both physically and metaphorically, a light appeared in the darkness. There in the gateway was my father.

For some reason seeing him standing there brought back an old memory. I was a little girl playing in the brush when a deadly viper came at me. I screamed and tried to back away but the viper was too quick. Then out of no where my father appeared and took me in his arms. He kicked the snake as it lunged at me and then carried me home. As he was carrying me I knew I didn’t have to fear anything as long as he was there. Strange how even now he still appears to carry me away.

The day was a victory as Erastil was restored and the gate to the fungal realm was closed. Still, the horrors of that place haunt me. I see that eye gazing down at me and feel its spores inside me and I shutter. How could Risa or the other cultists give themselves to something like that? If that is the evil we must face, then truly I fear that what we have seen is just the beginning.

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Confrontations and Traps

Excerpt from the Journal
of Amaras Edasseril

And so our final confrontation had come to pass with Risa and the end results were something that in my heart and soul I hoped for but what we got was not what I expected. Also I must put here that my respect for my siblings has increased once more due to their actions during the encounter that we found ourselves in. So I will begin at the start, the dark elves we have been battling kidnapped Hilan and demanded that we turn over the Seed Bag of the Green Hag to them in exchange for his life. After debate we agreed that we could do no less and we knew that our contact would be Risa and so we would have the chance to speak with her. I was surprised that Miri agreed with me on speaking to her to try and sway her to our side and again I was backed by Palinon who agreed that we bring our stepmother with us. When we entered the Grove of Songs I could not help but shed tears at what that place had become in mothers absence and was surprised when I felt the soft touch of Miri’s hand on my shoulder. When I looked at her I saw something of the overly caring sister in her face who once knelt by a young and foolish brother who skinned his knee and she whispered a fake prayer over it to take away the pain. “There will be time for tears later my brother now we must stand firm and do what we came here for.” Her words shored up my feelings and we entered the grove where we found Risa, I approached her and sat where she had sat and we all began to speak to her, she quickly became confused but we were able to get her to reveal Hilan. It was then that I heard Vanya’s voice in my head warning me to get out of the area, she had realized it was trap and I was afraid if I moved to quickly it would startle Risa and make her do something rash.
I should have moved quicker for in a instant the illusions that hid the massive shamblers dropped and they swung their ropy tendrils at me. Risa made a break for it and I ordered Nil’sha to get her and then I was wrapped up by our foes. I recall father warning us never to get into that position and now I understand why, I was caught up in the grip of two of the creatures and they began to crush me, I could feel my muscles tear in my legs, my ribs ground together and snapped spearing my body and sending blood flowing from my mouth. I have never felt such agony or pain and all I could do was lash out blindly at the creatures, I noticed that Nil’sha did not do as I told her but rather had leaped upon one of the mounds and was tearing it part with fang and claw. I could not be angry with her for I would have done the very same had our places been reversed. I thought this would be my last day to breathe for darkness rushed into my vision as blood pounded in my head even the healing magic of my sister could not steam deaths grip coming for me. Then without warning the pressure was gone and I was upon the ground with healing magic pouring into my body enough to allow me to breath and walk but pain still lanced my body. Struggling to my feet I watched as Risa used something given to her by the dark ones and she was sucked into some kind of portal. We charged it and we could see her slipping away into some great unknown, I pulled a rope free and lashed to myself to convince the others to help me in saving her. Again I was surprised when my sister backed me and grabbed the rope but the others would not allow me to risk myself in such a way and it was Lor’a’thron who came up with a idea and threw his magic sword into the void. Riza grabbed it and was pulled to safety or at least some sort of safety for as the portal slammed shut we saw a strange figure there who demanded her death. At the time I had no clue what this thing was but later I learned just how close to death we all were in that clearing and how close I am now treading that line. For this entity split Risa in half pulling her apart into both good and evil, a task that our own stepmother only theorized was possible. He was to take one of the new Risa’s with him and the other would be left with us and Miri and were to take responsibility for her actions and if ever she slipped our lives were forfeit.
This is where the true evil of our foes came to the forefront for we learned what their true intentions were and I walked right into it. I took Risa to see her mother and on that long trip we both talked and shared our hearts, dreams and fears with each other. I have only ever felt this at ease around two others in my life that being Jaylinn and Nil’sha. She told me the pain she felt of her conflicting natures and I shared much the same with her. She looked at me one night over a small fire and smiled “Thank you Amaras. Where all others had given up on me you a person who did not even know me never lost hope and never wavered in your desire to save me. You have risked so much for me and I can’t repay you in kind.” With tears streaking her cheeks she leaned forward and kissed me. This was something new for me for this was the first women other then my mother I had ever kissed and this was different it was almost like a bolt of energy coursing through my body. She leaned back and wiped her tears away, her soul may have been at peace then but mine was now astir.
When we reached the grove and Brightglade saw her child she rushed forward burying her in a hug, both of them cried and Brightglade smothered her daughter in kisses and love. I wondered if that would be how my mother would great me if we met again in this life. I shook off the thought and left to rejoin my family, it was some days later that we learned Brightglade had left the forest which is what our foes wanted. They all along planned a attack on her glade but needed her gone, it is easier to attack a place no guarded by something that blind you with a mere glance upon it. And so here I sit now the new guardian of the golden oak but am I up for this challenge? I am but one elf with a Panther what can I do to stop our foes should they attack? My family can’t live here with me all the time waiting….no the attack when it comes will be my job to hold the line till the others can arrive. I think it is time that I reach out to the forest and seek allies, allies that I can rely upon for the coming storm.

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Personal Growth

The Journal of Lor’Athorn Edasseril.

Entry the fourteenth.

Alchemical discovery: The more we run up against fungal enemies, the more I investigate the apparent parasitic nature of this particular strain of plant life. Of course, the most striking thing about it is that it cannot accurately be described as plant. Fungus grows in the with lack of sunlight, sometimes requiring its absence. I have engineered an enzyme that I believe might not only restrict the growth of fungus, but also harm it as well, while leaving other creatures unharmed. Though the damage itself is minimal, the primary purpose of this enzyme is to retard the proliferation of spores that are a typical defense mechanism cum-reproductive function of most fungal strains. So far, I have only tested my enzyme on less dangerous fungal agents, but I will no doubt get a better chance at researching more resilient specimens soon.

Our last adventure was among the most dangerous yet, and is further proof of our reckless behavior, given our positions as inheritors to our father’s political responsibilities. I would like to reach out to other politically important people whom I can trust to ask about our exploits, and if they are appropriate, but I fear the repercussions of such a communication.

More to the point, we have indeed been plagued by a looming fungal doom. Our brother, Elensar, had been afflicted with a strange fungal disease after having gone to the forest near Sevenarches. Our father, terrified that this might be yet another personal disaster for him (and of course for our fellowship), was quick to Elensar’s side, along with us. He wished for us to go and search not only the cause of our brother’s affliction, but also for a cure. It was father’s magic that would keep Elensar healthy long enough for us to do just that. In trying to calm and assure our father, Palanon had deemed it necessary to tell father about the dark elves, and their apparent vow to make him suffer. I can’t say what effect it ultimately had, but I trust in the honesty of Palanon to have guided his choice.

We had resolved to go into the forest, and Amaras had known of the large and sometimes lyacnthropic wolves that resided there. We walked into a test of combat, and succeeded after an application of violence and diplomacy; a hallmark for our fellowship, it seemed. This did the trick, of course, and we were given safe passage to the source of the trouble. We arrived to a revelation. The eponymous Seven Arches were actually here, in the forest, as a kind of ruse to keep people away, and to keep elves away especially. It had seemed that whatever magic was a part of these arches, it had either been designed or twisted to affect elves more than any other creature.

One of the arches had apparently been modified to connect to the devilish fungal realms, the implication of which was not lost on me. The Fungal Lord had truly been acting on at least some of the events of recent. I had hoped that his followers simply acted in his name, but this had confirmed that we had not one but two quasi-dieties to contend with. I suppose it is the wretched but necessary duty of elves, immortal as we are, to act as a bulwark against these terrible dangers. This realization made me envy the mortal for a brief instant.

It was obvious that we would have to deal with the connected arch, but terror ran through our bones as we came to understand that it was necessary to collapse the arch from the other side. Thanks to Amaras, we were inside the dread realm of the fungal lord. This strange dimension did not merely house the fungus god, but was perhaps entirely composed of him. With mirth, he called upon his shambler minions, making me question everything I thought I knew about the shamblers themselves.

With much difficulty and hardship, we braved the depredations of fungal spore and shambler might to defeat the minions, place the explosives, and grimly discern that we could not open the gate from our side. For what seemed like lifetimes of horrid anguish, we contemplated our horrid end in this squishy hell. Thankfully, our father arrived to open the portal and deliver us from a moist fate worse than death.

We were secure, our brother cured, and the arch destroyed. Amaras had even forged something of a friendship with the wolves of the forest. However, I feel no more comforted now than I did in that dread realm, for I anticipate having to deal with the machinations of the devil lord some day in what I hope to be the distant future. The enemy of my enemy gives me no rest, but rather a choice on which to show my back.

End Entry.

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Fate of Belief

Excerpt from the Journal of Amaras

Fate…a word used by many, elf, human, gnome or even orc to describe a force that guides and controls their lives. I have heard it used to explain away the bad things that can happen or even when good fortune strikes. I never truly believed in it myself for I found it to be nothing more than an easy excuse for someone to level when life did not go the way they wanted. Though recent occurrences in my life have made me start to rethink that. I had not been long from the bed where I lay resting and healing from my wounds when word came to us that our eldest brother Elensar had fallen ill and to the very fungus at that once rode the high tide into Greengold aboard a ship. But how had this same fungus made it all the way to the human lands of Seven Arches? A mystery not long left unsolved I was soon to learn, it is hear that many would spout out that it was fate! Fate saw our brother sickened and it was fate that led us to the discovery of the true magical arches in that realm. Maybe they would be right but maybe they are not, am I qualified to decided that? After what I have seen I do not think I am, for I am more inclined to believe it was duty that drew us along our path. Father said that to save our brothers life he needed a more concentrated version of the fungus and so we set off to trace his path that led him to his downfall. We first found a village that was ruled not by two legs but by dire wolves who were intelligent and could speak and not only that they had trained several bears to fight with them as pets in a way. We were forced to kill one of their kind to show them our resolve at which point their leader came forth to speak with us and told us interesting tale, at least a tale to my siblings for to me it revealed the truth to a great secret in the forest. The wolves had lived near the great arches once where energy had seeped out over hundreds of years and altered them to into thinking beings and I the case of their leader able to change shape into that of a biped human. He explained that without warning the gate which provided them this energy shut and another opened spewing forth a vile fungus that killed all it touched and drove them from their homes. With one of their own as a guide we traveled to the arches where we found our vile foe had covered much of the land in its evil foulness. We also learned how operate the portals but once more our enemies had corrupted the gate and changed where it once led and that is could only be closed from inside. Steeling ourselves we stepped through and entered a realm of nightmare, I barely recall what I saw or what occurred there. Palinon has told me it is natural, that when a mind is exposed to something so awful and terrible it forgets it if only to keep itself whole. And I would agree with him for what I do recall is only vague images and a sense of fighting for our very lives in a place that in itself was our foe. The one thing I recall most vividly was that the land was bathed in soft moonlight and where it seemed to affect the others not at all it made my flesh sting as if I had rolled in nettles. I have no mentioned this to the others as it seemed the place affected each of us in our own, but I know for a fact had father not arrived to force the portal open we would have died there in that place.

Thankfully father was able to save our brother with what we brought back and the others rushed to his side, but I remained there in that grove. An idea had taken root, the portals needed protecting and thus I had an idea of how to go about that. I set about studying each of the arches and learning what I needed to know, using my magic I opened three of them once more so their magic would flow into the land again. Then I returned to the small village where I spoke once more with the leader of the wolves there Claws Deep. I offered him and his people an alliance, they could move back into the forest where the magic of the gates would once more strengthen his people’s minds but beyond that it would also make them grow more powerful as the ages passed. In return they were to guard the forest and the portals and were to keep everyone out who tried to enter save for myself. He agreed readily and took his people back to live there once more and I know they are in safe hands. I resigned myself to explain my actions to the others and I was surprised when Elensar agreed to my decision. The others were not as happy, my dear sister most of all. She took that stance of hers that let me know a lecture was coming forth and unlike others in the family I have learned once she gets started it is best to let her run her course. I know they were right and I should have discussed things with them first but I grow weary of discussing and talking endlessly on subjects and I want only to act. At least I know that my actions were approved of by the conclave and by nature itself.

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Declarations of War and Peace

The Journal of Navarre Edasseril
Entry 13

Another year has passed and another large birthday celebration was held. This may have been the largest one ever, and the gifts were certainly the most extravagant. I received amazing enchantments upon my weapon, armor, and shield as well as a few smaller magical trinkets. During the party I heard a rumor that the shipment of guns that exploded was supposedly caused by a group of human xenophobes. It seems that the dwarves have already moved against them and have driven them out of Seven Arches, an ancestrally elven land. I heard that Lady Smilos currently inhabits the place, but intends to hand it over to the elves. Also, Amrune mentioned to me that Treerazor’s forces have been falling apart and abandoning their borders, even the devil himself seems to have disappeared; this seems like good news, but I’m sure that menace won’t stay gone long.

We decided to take a trip to Diamond Falls to celebrate the children’s birthdays. The children were mostly enjoying each other’s company and the rare gift to allowed into the forest when we called them together. Each of us shared our feelings with the children and then gave them each a gift. For young Jaylinn I crafted a fine knife made of stone and for each of the boys I made a fine set of tools.

After sharing a nice time with the young ones, my siblings and I went to the top of the waterfall to enjoy each other’s company. Once we had reached the top, a dark elf stepped out of the forest. He called himself Falcon and said that he wanted to parley. He told us that it was his intention to defeat our father by destroying everything he loves and that now includes us. He asked us to agree that we not target children in the coming battles and that was the reason we had not been targeted up to this point. He made it very clear that we are his enemy and that he will not rest until we are destroyed. I informed him that we will seek him out wherever he hides and that he will face defeat at the end of our blades. As he began to retort I fired an arrow and struck him, causing his defensive spell to activate and teleport him away.

We decided not to tell father about this incident as it might drive him into a forlorn state once again. We sought out Hialin who was able to give us little support on the matter, but he did extend to us an invitation to meet with the reagent of the aquatic elves, Prince Valstarre. We arrived at the meeting point on the edge of the lake just before a storm. The prince met us and took us down into his realm in a bubble. We moved through the water for what must have been miles before arriving at a natural cave that contained breathable air. There was an amazing mural on the wall of this cave which depicted Vales and Valstarre’s mother, Hera. The prince informed us that they were great friends once, but now, like Vales, Hera was also missing. It seems that the aquatic elves recently sank a pirate ship they claimed to be trespassing in their waters and that a man on this vessel carried a magical necklace that Vales used to wear. Valstarre informed us that the man was slated for execution and asked us to speak to him one last time to see if we could learn anything new.

We went to see the man and instantly recognized him as Marcus Half-Elven, the rogue to which we gave a second chance in Eragis. He explained that the dark elves gave him the necklace as payment for one of his “shipments” and that he did not know who the necklace once belonged to or where she might be. I was upset that we gave this man another chance to right the wrongs in his life and he immediately returned to a career of wrong-doing. I felt personally responsible, and thus felt it would be best if I carry out the execution since the prince told us that he did not care if we killed him. I gave the man a chance for last words; he was unrepentant. I removed his head. The prince was somewhat upset by this, but dismissed it as just as well.

We decided we would like to investigate the wrecked pirate ship and found it filled with booty. My siblings found a few interesting items, and I found an item that must have once been a firearm, however this thing is quite ancient. It seems we are not discovering these weapons, but re-discovering them.

The prince asked us to go into some nearby ruins to search for clues as to the whereabouts of Vales and/or Hera, and he warned us that it would be dangerous inside. It seemed strange to me that the regent would ask foreign dignitaries to risk their lives for him, but there would be no talking Amares out of this, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the prince to owe us a favor.
Inside the ruins, we were met by a dangerous creature called an Aboleth. It exuded a terrible mucus that infected Amares and caused him great pain. We fought the beast valiantly, and Lor ‘Athorn delivered the killing stroke through a blade sheathed in electricity. My brother’s magical and martial skills impressed us all that evening.

We investigated and found the Aboleth’s den mates were missing. We took advantage of this rare opportunity and searched the area finding many lake elves that had been brainwashed and enslaved by the monsters. Among those slaves we found Valstarre’s mother. Upon our return to the lake elve’s home, we were called to a council meeting where we learned that Valstarre has sent many adventuring parties down into the same ruins we had just explored and none of them returned. In fact, the prince had done this so many times that his council forbid him from doing such a thing again. Part of me can understand his need to find his mother, but it was reckless of him to send a large group of foreign nobility into, what has been until now, certain death. We received some compensation for his putting our lives in danger, and were able to set up an exchange of diplomats. With that, we said our goodbyes, and returned home.

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