Tales of Shore Blossom

Log I : Day 17
Eucarion's Journal

(OOC: I'm working my way through the backlog, I promise.)

I'm pleased to say that my scheme for alternative income has been working splendidly. Though Odiri may have given me an earful about going beyond the wall alone, my poaching of the local wildlife for furs has delighted the variety-starved merchants in town. I'm currently working in partnership with a particularly ornery dwarf furrier, but perhaps I'll strike up some competition among the community for my work? If this does manage to upset the local economy, I can't say I'll be mad.

On the way back to the Rose Shell from making a purchase of particular interest, I caught up with Oranssi. We've become rather swell companions over the course of living together at the temple. Adi's bizarre monkey greeted us with a distribution of coin. I don't like that monkey. It's eyes are too damn smart. Odiri sat conversing with Elura,  so I delivered my package quietly and took my seat across the table. Odiri was delighted by her gift, a rabbit fur cloak of grey, black, and blue. Were those my house colors? Mm, yes, but she didn't need know that yet.  For some reason, this seemed to have the effect of resolving whatever issue of feminine wiles had come between her and the bard.

This was my first encounter with the odd Mister Semper. As I understood him, he was a curt, abrasive fellow from some distant land with no personal wealth and a great deal of secrets. A scrappy shit that bothered me for some unplaceable reason. He must have been filled in on our most recent expeditions, because it was actually his suggestion to take the party to re-home Third One the frog. We pushed out the following morning.

Traveling along Roth's Road and trailblazing Xiao's shortcut, we came to a brief rest at a small druid's shrine of Gaea. Oranssi mended it, leaving an unnerving feeling that something watching us had suddenly stopped. Almost immediately after, we were ambushed by 5 weretigers clad in black leather. While Odiri, Oranssi, Albion, Elura, Adi, Sempur, and I fended off their attacks, they did not seem to target Naligor at all. Naligor cast his moonbeam on one of them, turning it into a haggard looking man. He cried to the others, "Change of plans! Cover me!", and the weretigers came together in a protective formation around him as he pulled out a scroll and pounced on Naligor, attempting to kidnap him with a teleportation spell. Adi bought us some time with a slowing spell as Elura lit the scroll on fire, destroying it. Terrified, their pack leader called their retreat and they were gone in a puff of black smoke. When pressed, Naligor would not say why he would be targeted this way, though it had put all of in danger. We continued to the Pond of Echoes to camp, and the night passed without incident.

Come morning, we discussed how to proceed. Semper was battle-eager, but it was decided by the group that some reconnaissance was in order. Odiri and I went ahead around the pond. We may have been gone a hair too long… and were a bit… distracted… but we did eventually return to the group with information. There were definitely water weirds inside, but we chose to proceed with friendly intentions. Water weirds are not inherently evil creatures, so there really was no reason to approach with hostility. Adi hailed it, and a tentacle of water emerged, conversing by writing in the shoreline and "erasing" with a sweep of water. From it, we learned that the lake was the residence of Thousand Rains, one of the legendary, ancient storm giants of yore, a reclusive oracle who had previously advised Prince Yuan (and been ignored). We requested an audience with him, and the water weird disappeared below the lake's surface. Five water weirds returned, pulling apart the waters and inviting us into the depths below.

As we walked down, the weirds cleaved apart a dry path, flanking us with vertical walls of crystalline water. The further down we traveled, the more dissipated the sun's light became. All around us in the dimming landscape, vibrant plant life, well-tended and arranged in sprawling, beautiful gardens. But, behind us, the walls of water seamlessly came back together, forcing forward our long march into darkness. There would be no exit should negotiations go poorly. I could not help but feel anxious.  

At the bottom, we came to a massive stone building, bone dry and 40ft tall. Two tentacles pushed open two great doors, pulling them shut behind us as we entered the air-tight hall inside. The walls of slate grey stone were encrusted decoratively in elaborate mosaics of stones and shells, depicting ancient battles and images of gods. On a raised dias, Thousand Rains himself, powerful, huge, resting his weight on a greatsword. Elura greeted him will full honors as we all gave our respects. I bowed and vowed to say nothing. Political machinations were never my strong suit and, frankly, I felt more than a little intimidated. Giants are nothing to be fucked with. Odiri was visibly quaking. I can only begin to image how he must have looked from her stature. I took her hand, and we kept each other's comfort. Thousand Rains laughed heartily, shaking the walls, amused by Albion's presence. Minotaurs have an interesting waterborne history, or something of the like. 

Elura, assisted by Semper, negotiated the residence of Third One in Thousand Rains' watery domain on the argument that he would make an excellent pet, companion, and lure for larger game in return for mere protection. They then took the opportunity to ask him about the Yomi Princes, to which he replied that they were "a flash in the pan". He shared a prophecy with a clatter of I Ching coins. The Yomi Princes would indeed fall with our efforts and the help of Zui, who knew all their weaknesses, but an even greater evil, a great wind from the desert north, would come at their fall. Then, a minor prophecy. If the son of the wolf, Naligor, did not find love and family, he would be the cause of death. Thousand Rains offered to "solve" our problem for us, suddenly drawing his sword on Naligor. All in a quick flash of action, Naligor transformed into a wolf to attack, Odiri jumped in front of him, and Elura shouted, begging forgiveness for the transgression. Thousand Rains relented and allowed us to leave in one piece. Oranssi cast an offering in gratitude. Odiri clocked Naligor in the jaw, causing him to pick her up by the collar to carry her out, and we all made our exit. Led back up to the surface by the weirds in a similar fashion as our journey down, I strayed to the back of the group, far enough that the closing wall of water would lick at my boot heels if a stride fell short. I knew that Naligor and Odiri had grown close, but not so much that she would so instinctually risk her life for his sake. I could not say it was jealousy, but had Thousand Rains attacked… I tried to shake off the thought. When we came to the surface, I hastily took Odiri from Naligor's jaw. The weird who had greeted us initially said it was a pleasure to meet us, much to our surprise and delight. Odiri presented it with a flower crown, naming it Sweetums. It retreated into the waters, and we went on our way to retrieve Third One.

Two hours journey into the Jade Forest, Adi sensed a magical wolf following us. Again, Naligor was pressed to speak, and again he kept his own. The wolf began to suddenly flee towards the Kami Mines, so Adi captured it with a spell of black tentacles. Oranssi cast a Zone of Truth in preparation for interrogating him, which Semper deliberately and suspiciously stepped outside the area of, and not before throwing about some insults against elvenkind. Hm. All his actions seemed to confirm my initial assessment of his character…

Elura convinced the wolf to turn back into a man, revealing a haggard looking man in a loincloth. He had no name, none at least since he joined the pack of The Shadow Wolf, Naligor's cursed father. He attempted to offer the secrets of necromancy to Adi in exchange for the handover of Naligor, which he categorically refused. We learned that "the master" was indeed aware of not only our existence, but of where we were as well, and sought the return of his son to the pack. Naligor was visibly shaken with a rage, and, surprisingly, offered that he go himself in return for the rest of the group's safety, to our collective protest. We also learned that The Shadow Wolf willingly took on the dark power of a Yomi Prince, suggesting that perhaps some of the others had not. Exhausted of information and only inciting further anger, Naligor viciously cut the werewolf's throat with a silvered blade, killing him. As the body was burned, Naligor explained that there would be no diplomacy with The Shadow Wolf. Only death. Semper demanded to know why. Honestly, fuck him. I would join Naligor's cause whether or not I knew his past. But, Naligor relented and agreed to tell us all that night.

Settled around the fire that evening, Naligor told his story. I…. I will not repeat it here. But by god, that man bears plenty his own scars. I pledged my sword, my soul, and my life to his cause right there, and such pledges I do not take lightly. It is beyond a matter of honor to see his demons defeated. No one deserves to have such suffering go unavenged. I seethed my watch that night in quaking rage, haunted by both Naligor's words and my own similarities to them. Odiri stayed up with me, keeping company in the lonesome night of wolves wandering in the distant woods.

In the morning, we traveled the last leg of the road to the Kami Mines. Somebody had been camping there, but had already packed up and gone before us. As we walked through familiar fields, Odiri picked a flower for me. I tucked it beneath the collar of my vest, comforted by it.

Our reunion with Third One was a joyous affair! We explained to him what we had arranged with Thousand Rains, and he seemed fully pleased by it. Naligor transformed him into a tiny frog, and we bore him aloft in a floating disk full of water Elura had summoned up. Truly a king's procession! Arriving back at the Pond of Echoes, we were greeted once again by Sweetums. It and Third One were formally introduced, Sweetums accepting him into the pond. Naligor transformed our frog friend back into his usually large self, and he went off, all happier for his new home.

Our keys began to glow and, in a flash of light, we found ourselves returned to the city gates. To our surprise, in Elura's disk, a gift had been left! A detailed golden bracelet inscribed with instructions on how to get to a mysterious theater in the forest? Perhaps we'll make a date of it…

Agents of the Nine Hells
Cruelty in the Cards

Back in Port Shore Blossom.  The white jade of the wall seems to have many uses, not the least of which is bringing us home.  But with recent revelations, I don't know how much I trust its power to protect the city anymore.  Too many problems are rising up, each more cunning and deadly than the last.  My mind is a jumble of thoughts as I make my way back into town.  

My companions today were Kodu, Syd, Albion, and Eucarion.  We hauled in our latest piles of wealth and magic from the wilds outside the city, chatting amiably in the Rose Shell Tavern, counting out our shares.  Food and drinks are ordered all around, though I am somewhat distracted by the recent arrival in town.  Eucarion has a son!  Fascinating.  His expression suggested grave news for his father, though their interactions point to a great deal of time stretching between them and the last time they saw one another.  I'm curious about the news the boy brought, but it's not really my business right now.  And other things are weighing on my mind.  

Shei is passing tankards of mead around the table, occasionally offering me a deeper smile than she does the others.  I return her smile readily enough, but the magic in my blood already warns that this will end in disaster, possibly sooner than later.  I tried to warn the poor girl; she will see soon enough.

Chaos in my blood is singing.  it has manifested quite a lot in recent weeks, demanding to be seen and heard and recognized.  Perhaps in a desire to be utilized, the chaos has been granting power, not just random effects.  It wants to be used, and so it sings to me.  And now it resonates against something else: this fascinating deck of cards.

They spoke to me from the first, promising a magnificent synergy with the chaos in my blood.  And at the same time, even before I had pulled them out of hte case a few days ago, I had heard whispers.  There was a dark current underlying those cards.  And they whispered to me, as if the promises of symmetry with my magic also made another promise.  A promise of power.  Of cruelty.  And I had felt it.  With the Cambions I had manipulated, with the knowledge they had unwittingly revealed, even now with Shei, with all of my friends.  I have to remind myself that they ARE my friends, and that these feelings aren't entirely mine.  And yet… the chaos in my blood sings when the cards are near.  It sings and people matter less and part of me is alright with that…

I snap myself out of my reverie.  Keeping my expression light and jovial, I casually place the cards back in the case with many of hte other magical wonders we have acquired over the last few months.  The bubbling in my blood cools a bit, but does not cease completely.  I will have to get farther away for that.   In the meantime, people are recounting events.  Syd's acquisition of the Sunblade has been of inestimable value in our battles against hte restless dead.  Kodu and his staff have made the difference in more than one fight.  Eucarion has combined those magical arrows with an enchanted bow to devastating effect in many battles.  Albion and that axe are quite possibly the most brutal display of physical carnage that I think I have seen.  And I'm glad to say that the chaos bubbling in my veins has wiped out dozens of threats at a time, when we might otherwise have seen one or more of us swarmed and murdered.   

Madam Saru is greeting us, making friendly conversation.  I am as friendly and engaging as everyone else, but years of practice have made it easy to hide the growing contempt behind my eyes.  She is a part of the city's government.  They all made a big stink about how the city is so perfectly protected by the white jade wall and its magic.  WE had all suffered a long debate with them during the festival on that very topic.  And then, not two weeks later, Saru casually drops a bomb on us all, that threats approaching from the port side of the city have no city defenses stopping them.  Fools!  Arrogant, sanctimonious hubris!  If Blood-Spattered Snow Tiger or the Goblin Queen or the other Yomi Princes, or now the thrice-damned LEGIONS OF THE NINE HELLS figure that out, this entire city will be razed to the ground as they will all literally race one another to see who can decimate it first!  This!  This right here!  This is why I don't trust governments, why I don't trust laws and political structures and gods-be-damned ruling bodies!  For every person of wisdom and sense trying to help people live better lives, there are three greedy, grasping, power-hungry morons who make everything worse!

Perhaps I need to get farther away from these cards; they are making my thoughts darker than usual, and I've been exposed to them for several days now. I make my excuses and make my way upstairs.  Almost as if she had been waiting for me, Shei is at my door waiting for me, having slipped from the table earlier.  She reaches out to take hold of me.  I allow it for a moment, wondering if human comfort will do anything for me now.  As she kisses me, I feel no passion stir, only impatience to be free.  I whisper a few sweet nothings in her ear and carefully disengage, opening my door and slipping inside.  I block Shei from following, making excuses.  It is all I can do not to shout at her in this moment.  She's done nothing wrong, and I shouldn't take my feelings out on her.  

Shei looks disappointed, but my words are effective as ever, and she doesn't protest too vehemently.  I close my door and the smile finally melts away.  Looking at my room, I see that it has been filled with flowers.  With a deadly whisper, black vapors pour out of me, and the plants all wither and die in the space of seconds.  Images begin manifesting around the room.  I see the Cambion I conned, mouth moving silently.  I know what he says, though.  I remember it well.  There is a Pit Fiend less than a week's travel from the city.  A. Fucking.  Pit Fiend.  The most powerful of Hell's generals.  It would take the might of most if not all of the charter's members to have even a chance at striking it down.  And it gets worse.  

There are spies in Port Shore Blossom.  At least two of them.  Agents of the Nine Hells.  Sent to infiltrate and sow dissent in the city.  To try and get the Charter to turn against the government and create a civil war.  I know their names, but I don't know their covers. They could be anyone in this city.  Anyone from a town guard to the flirty tavern wench I'm sleeping with to a removed and replaced member of the city council. I have to find them.  No.  Not I.  WE.  This is a big deal, and I shouldn't ignore the assets of the rest of the Charter.  My friends have just as much invested in this city as I now do.  

We will find these spies.  One way or another we will have to find them.  We will find them, we will interrogate them, and when we're done… I'll make sure I have the Deck of Illusions with me. The cruelty in the cards will have excellent suggestions on how to deal with them.                   

Letters to the Timeless One (Part 3)
(Translated from Draconic) 
Most honored Master, 
Much has happened since my last letter. The quest associated with my pilgrimage has seen progress as have my own abilities. I will start by saying that I am confident that I am on the right path. It came as a surprise to me, but Aion has ignited my spark; I'm of a silver bloodline! I have also learned that some of the training routines the monastery taught us are actual spells and not just meditative katas. I couldn't be more excited about this development; Not only do I feel as though I fit more within the order, but I am honored to have the favor of the First Dragon. I have also befriended a wyrmling bronze and am excited to have a possible student to learn the teachings of Aion. Laughing Surf, the wyrmling, has made the group's adventures far more manageable at times by scouting and hunting for us since he is too young for combat. 
Now to the mission. You will be happy to know that I have recovered Verdant Justice and Heaven's Thunder and have been (and will be)  employing them to make progress in recovering the others. This land is rife with the Fallen Stars and I am thankful to have found companions who are dedicated to pacifying the wilderness beyond the walls of Shore Blossom; their cause is not my cause, but our paths have converged enough that we are willing to help each other. What I know so far is that the five artifacts were given to these Yomi princes as payment to the Goblin Queen in return for their services in laying siege upon the Vanyr. My friends and I have destroyed two of these princes; thus liberating Verdant Justice and Heaven's Thunder. I know not which of the other princes have the order's property(save for Blood Spattered Snow Tiger with Golden Sunset), yet I do know that these princes are the highest form of evil and all must be vanquished; I understand the order tries to not meddle in the affairs of other kingdoms, but this is the just and moral thing to do. A part of me hopes to restore Shore Blossom to a place of wealth beyond the wall or, at the vey least, make it so the people here do not live in fear. We have tracked down the Fangs of Skotos and infiltrated their stronghold in hopes of discovering the whereabouts of these Yomi and discover which of the order's artifacts they possess, yet their leader, I fear, is beyond our capability. That mission failed as we came back empty handed. I assure you that my quest is at the forefront of my mind and I shall not stop until it has been completed. Any help you could send would be greatly appreciated. I, also, request that the order's tools may be used by those not of the order to pacify the region. You did not mention any such stipulation when I left on this quest, yet I do think the permission request is warranted out of respect for the wishes of the order. 
Another topic I'd like to discuss is expanding the scope of my mission to include the pacification of the area to reveal and preserve the history of it. One of the primary objectives of the Order of the Ceaseless Dragon is to protect history as a marker of times past and lessons learned. This area is war torn and dilapidated, but there are many remnants of the old Empire of Stone that my compatriots and I have been uncovering. The history of this place has been lost to time and merely exists in the form of a fabled story(of which is proving to be less fable than we had initially thought). I believe that the preservation and possible restoration of these places warrants the presence of our order beyond the the time it will take to recover the artifacts. The thought had crossed my mind of procuring a building here to act as a meditation dojo and place of research for our order.  this dojo can also act as a community center and museum of sorts by teaching the locals of the history of the world outside this town. I'll not do any such thing without the permission of the council, yet it would be useful in acting as a safe base of operations for the order to help piece together and restore the history of this ancient place. Another thing to consider is that the Dark One has an overwhelming influence over this region and we, as direct opponents of him, could use a local operating center in handling the threat that he poses.
Your humble student past, present and future,
Kodu, Fist of the Infinite
Log I : Day 16
Eucarion's Journal

(OOC: Overdue ny'all.)

I feel as though a great curse has been lifted from my head. But have I chosen well?

Odiri, Naligor, Oranssi, and I began the day by convening at the Gaea Shrine in the temple at Mato's behest. The moment we were inside, all possible exits were shut and we were trapped. We probably should have been plenty more concerned about the situation than we were, but there were 2 yards of ceremonial wine hidden in the wall, so the collective attention was rather occupied. Odiri seemed rather uncomfortable and did not partake. She had yet to get over the incident with the table, and Oranssi had yet to apologize. There was bitterness in the room enough to spoil the wine. Mato entered after some time, explaining that the party had been collected together for the purpose of Oranssi and Odiri making peace. They did, but not before a harsh exchange of words. Only when Oranssi admitted to having been a fool did Odiri accept and relent. Mato presented a second gift by way of explaining that Odiri's festival-won fan once belonged to Lady Hana and would render the user immune to the cries of her banshee spirit. Some sass was exchanged (including some unexpected foul languge from Oranssi!) then Mato opened the door to exit, revealing an eavesdropping Frivolity behind it. That sneak! I wonder how much he heard?

Having been informed of newcomers in town, we went all together to the Rose Shell to scope them out. I noticed that Odiri had indeed taken up employment under Frivolity. She wore his colors. It was not my right by any means to be upset by this, but my passing comment on the matter did, to my great satisfaction, fluster her.

Arriving at the Rose Shell, we were greeted by a rambunctious, near-naked gnome swinging from Albion's horns. Odiri was absolutely furious at her designated seat being usurped. Beside Albion was the other new man to town, a half-elf. A noble, or so I recognized him to be from his insignia. House Faervel. He, rather flamboyantly and with what possibly could've been flirtation, introduced himself as Hok'ee Faervel. I had fought alongside his father in the Goblin War. Great man, though he was put out of service by injury, if I recall correctly. Two sons. One was said to be a fantastic warrior in his own right. So this was the other son. I disliked him from my first good look at him and did not introduce myself by full name or title.

The gnome, Zui, though a drunkard of incredible capacity, was handy with a staff and signed on to our coalition immediately. I inquired if the halfbreed fop had his father's ability. Hok'ee demonstrated with a whirl of weaponry that, yes, indeed, he was just as skilled. I tried not to look too impressed as I motioned for him to sign the charter. While Zui barely skimmed the contract, Hok'ee studied it carefully before putting his name on it. He even took notes on it. Hm. He is nothing to be fucked with. We gathered around the table to fill in our newcomers on the state of things in Shore Blossom and our mission with the Yomi Princes. Zui, a monk of sorts, had spent his whole life studying them for the express purpose of their defeat. A good thing that we found him before anyone else did, then. Armed with Odiri's fan and Naligor's ring, we decided then that the mission for the next day's journey out would be to see to Lady Hana's grove. 

Then, music. Onto the stage at the center of the inn entered a dazzling woman with a vibrant air, dancing expertly and lasciviously. I'll admit that my attention was certainly aroused by the sight of her. Odiri noticed my slack jawed stare from her perch atop Albion and saw it fit to nail me in the head with a goblet. Oranssi commented that she was learning a great deal of tact. If Odiri's sense of tact translates to headaches for me, I'd rather her stay tactless. After her show, the lady came and introduced herself as Elura. My god, really a lovely woman. She had joined the party for previous adventures, and would be doing so again now that she had returned to town. I was certainly glad to have her along, but Odiri was… Well. I certainly made my apologizes to her that evening, which she was more than happy to accept. Though, the wee hours were plagued by nightmares and I did not get much rest from it. Karma, I suppose.

The party breakfasted at the inn before setting off. Frivolity had acquired a horse and cart of his own, as well as a gorgeous starhorse named Lunestra. Mm, I do miss my horse. I think that once I've worked up some funds from my fur trapping, I shall look into acquiring a new one. As we traveled out, Odiri slept like a babe in the back of the cart. Rather cute, really. It was a pity to have to wake her when Albion and I had need of her assistance in marking a path. Apparently, the minotaur can use his horns as a compass of sorts. Bizarre, but useful. We trailblazed 5 miles to the north. Zui gathered herbs as we went. Ah, I knew what he was up to. I'd done my fair share of homebrewing in seclusion. Considering the wiff of that barrel he insists on rolling about with him, I image he's got a talent for this sort of thing. 

By sundown, we came to the edge where the Bamboo Sea met the Jade Forest and made camp. Hok'ee and I got into a bit of spat while stoking up a fire, which really only confirmed my distaste for him. Naligor, Elura, and I stayed the midnight watch. Naligor questioned my handiwork on Odiri's neck, but believed my lie on the matter. Can't believe he did. Elura played at some flirtation with me. I may be a man of weak will and weaker loins, but I did my best to brush her advances. The night's relative peace was broken by an attack of spear-wielding Bullywugs. I killed one immediately as Naligor fried another one in lightning. As everyone was roused from sleep, Elura, clever thing, dropped a sleeping spell on the remaining two creatures with a one-liner. Ah, the entertainment benefits of a battle bard. After tying the two up to a tree, we settled back to sleep to deal with them in the morning.

Come sunrise, a debate was had as to whether or not the bullywugs should be allowed to live. I'd never really questioned my instinct to kill. A soldier's second nature, I suppose, but I rarely stopped to question. If a thing was evil, it deserved death, did it not? Zui silenced all arguments by throwing a rock at Oranssi with a yell. We came to an agreement that the frogs would be tried and intimidated into leaving us alone. Their warrior culture would permit no other option. Oranssi intimated them sufficiently, then asked me to cut them free. "They have a message to deliver". Shivers ran up my spine. There is no way he could have known the circumstances under which I'd heard that phrase before, but it still left me a little shaken to hear it said. I left quickly, hunting a feast of rabbits for the morning. As I sat skinning pelts, I overheard Zui and Naligor discussing their "herbalist" exploits. It's not my place to comment, but I cannot say I approve… We traveled on through Lady Hana's Grove, following Naligor's glowing amber stone, camping there another night among the familiar fields of flowers and lush green. Elura made us all crowns. I accepted mine out of courtesy, but I could see the jealousy and distaste in Odiri's eyes when she was handed hers after.

In the morning, we arrived at the crypt. "We should stealth!," suggested Frivolity, the least stealthy member of our party. Going further through than we had gone before, we came to a domed building in the eastern part of the enclosure. Odiri tried to take point, but I pushed her back and went ahead. There was absolutely no way I was letting her walk headfirst into danger. Beyond a hallway, we came to a room to the north. Zui dismantled the falling block trap that awaited us there, allowing us to access a shrine in a hallway ahead. It seemed to have been recently cleaned. Someone, or something, was upkeeping this place. A number of us left small offerings, myself included, though Odiri's contribution to this surprised me. She didn't seem the type to care. 

As we made our way back to the north room, we were attacked by 8 animated sets of armor, 4 tall and 4 short. Human and dwarven, perhaps. Naligor dropped the first before transforming into a dragon wyrmling. That was new! Elura threw a patch of grease in the path of the constructs, resulting in a grease ballet of them, Charka, and Xiao. Albion shattered one, then another, with terrifying barbarian strength, but also became one with the grease, gleefully making angels in it. Zui jumped on his staff, stabbing one of them, then vaulted over another. I had not yet seen him in proper battle, but the skill of this little man is great. When the armor was at last defeated, though not before a few more greasy fumbles, Elura melted it down.

Odiri's fan, functioning as a guide for magical items within the crypt, led us quickly through the maze of halls until we came upon a massive room with a beautiful spiral of green stonework for floor. It had once functioned as a part of Lady Hana's wedding present, a giant go board, but it was now marred. This place had once been her palace of pleasures, and now, her tomb. A morbid thought. As we approached the adjacent hall, we heard the sounds of chanting. If the intent of it, regardless of the source, was to keep Lady Hana at rest, we quickly found that it had not worked. Not one bit.

In the next chamber, we were met with Hana's banshee, two wights, and ten spectres, all keen to kill. Charka and Xiao were unable to move in their terror. We all cut in with rapid attacks. Albion felled the two wights alone, slashing them both to dust. The banshee wailed, dropping Charka, Oranssi, and Zui. The sound of it, the agony. Haunting, really. In a flash of silver and moonlight, Hok'ee went for the banshee. Thought his attack missed, he managed to distract the banshee enough to drag Zui out of harm's way. I quickly healed Charka, getting her back on her feet. Suddenly, a spectre attacked Albion, black wounds and the unmistakable pallor of death overtaking him. The battle pressed on until Naligor, still a dragon, bit the banshee. The spectres disappeared in a flash of light as a beautiful golden glow enveloped the room, transforming the banshee into the holy spirit of Lady Hana. She thanked Odiri and Naligor and warned that the Yomi Princes must be destroyed. They had done this to her, and would not stop their torment of the earth until they were dead. Naligor's stone returned to her ring, then the ring came back whole to Naligor. Lady Hana allowed us all the spoils of her ruin, and was gone, dissipated into light. Odiri absolutely broke down, bawling as I held her comfortingly in my arms. I was shaken, yes, but not nearly to the degree that she was. This mission was much closer a thing to her, but something must have struck her deep for this sort of a reaction. Hok'ee asked if monsters normally thanked us for killing them. No. No, they didn't. 

We continued on, as the fan indicated that there was still one magic item in the ruins. It was not an item, however, but a place. A glowing, enchanted pool of water. Around it, the inscription that it would grant beauty in exchange for the sacrifice of a magic object, "but only once".

Before I could even open my mouth to speak, the entire party erupted in discussion that, obviously, I should be the one to use the pool, but what magic item should be given up?  As considerate (or offensive? I still cannot decide how to feel about their assumption), they acted as thought I had not the opinion or consent to disagree! Not my best moment, but I roared at them all in a fit of rage. What if I didn't want to change? They had no right to choose for me! This quieted them down enough that I could hear myself think, until they each began to voice their own thoughts. Odiri encouraged me, citing that without my scars, I could begin to heal. She knew my nightmares and maybe, just maybe, this would help me sleep at night. Oranssi argued that I had been changed by my scars, and I would be sure to change again without them, not necessarily for the better. The two of them argued, until Elura stepped in. Casting a spell, she transformed herself into a mirror of my form, though unscathed. As unsettling as the experience of facing my own double was, she did impart on me the wisdom that visible scars or not, I would always bear them on my soul. Even Hok'ee chimed in, asking if the sacrifice would bring me any peace. I did not know why I listened to his words, but my mind was desperate and he did have a point. Odiri pressed her fan into my hand, granting it as mine to choose what to do with. I remembered our night, her hands taking mine , the warmth of her chest. God, I would trust her with anything.

Our keys began to glow in defiance, forcing time. My chest tightened. My heart raced. It was then or never.  These scars were mine. They always would be. But this way, at least, I would not have to wear them open wounded. I threw the fan into the water. The pool dissolved it, and when I looked over to my own reflection, all the scars faded away and left me face to face with my old self. I could feel that it had not taken the ones on my body, but the return of my lost face was enough. I was too shaken by the sight to weep with the gratitude of my soul at that moment, but I surely would have. The keys lit up again, and we were all transported back to the gates. 

It is too soon to say what this has done. But, at the very least, I can stand to meet my own eyes in the mirror. That alone is worth something.  

Letters from Odiri - Pt. 9
Adventure 15 - Sunblade Success

My Dear Eucarion,

I have returned from yet another adventure. I really wish I could convince you to leave the temple for more than just an evening visit. These outings are just not the same without you.

Syd was determined to get back to Ashiko’s Haven to retrieve the Sun Blade so I decided to join her along with Kodu, Frivolity and Adi. Our travels to Ashiko’s Haven were mostly unfettered except for a particularly intense attack against us at the waystation. The Goblin Queen is getting bolder and sent the Silver Demons against us. We had to dispatch a Goblin Boss and his Warg, a Hobgoblin Warlord, a Bugbear Chief and a pair of their feral wolves. Adi gathered any missives on their persons to review with the council but, I don’t think they truly care. They are so focused on the inside of the wall that they willingly choose to be blind to what is going on behind it. Elder Yen made that perfectly clear after the Summer Festival.

Once we arrived to Ashiko’s Haven we retraced what steps we knew of and happened upon a beast I have only heard of before. They told me it was called an Umber Hulk. This thing was massive with clamping jaws and slashing claws. I was surprised to see Kodu has gained some proficiency with elemental magicks and used them to our advantage that day. I have little memory of this fight as I seemed to have be under this creatures mental control. It all seemed to go dark and in a moment I was in an entirely different hall with Xiao nosing my hand trying to snap me out of my daze. It was terrifying knowing my body was manipulated without my control to move, walk, speak, who knows what I did in the blank spaces of memory.

When I made my way back through a maze of halls to the action I was just in time to witness Adi cast an illusion of several members of the charter pretending to attack the Umber Hulk and running away. That mad magick fellow realized we could use the brute force of the monstrosity to crash through the wall into the chamber we knew held the Sun Blade. Lords and Ladies you should have seen it! The Umber Hulk smashed in to reveal a room filled with eight legged horrors, seven in total.

It was a mess of fire between Kodu and Adi then Frivolity cast a field of darkness to distract the Umber Hulk. So much happened at once it was hard to keep track but eventually Syd captured her goal. The Sun Blade was hers and it looked like it belonged in her hand all along. The one concern I have from this outing was not Syd but Kodu. His demeanor has changed. I can’t put my finger on it but he is different. I think we all felt it.

We were met with one last challenge before the key brought me home. Seven Urk. Emblazoned with the Goblin Queen’s mark. We took them down with little effort between Syd’s new toy and Kodu’s growing abilities, but it makes me anxious to the pit of my stomach that her hoards are spread so far and wide and with such force. I fear she will be the death of me. It would do me a world of good to see your face tonight.



PS – I’ve taken residence in Frivolity’s new manor but we can talk about that later. Use the back gate my room is in the south west corner of the back of the house and the staff is under direct instruction not to harass you.

Fuck This Town
Hok'ee's musings.

So, whatever fresh Hell has opened between  Mom and Dad I suspect that the wisest thing I could do is stay out of it, for all that I can't actually do that.  Mom's opening a new business in Port Shore Blossom, as if our trade interests weren't enough to occupy her, and she's decided she's taking me and the Faervel Moonblade with her.  Ever the dutiful son, I follow, even though this sounds to me precariously like the beginnings of a divorce.  

As soon as I got there, I made friends… sort of.  I ended up splitting drinks with this endlessly diverting naked gnome and a jolly minotaur who were engaging in improptu gymnastics together at the tavern.  Shortly after that, I also had the company of an extremely grizzled elf along with his halfling …friend?  And some kind of aristocratic tiefling deviant who I'll have to keep an eye on.  

"Grizzly Elven" seems to have some kind of bug up his ass about my breeding, as if the Vanyr and human aristocracy haven't been gleefully fucking one another back and forth across national borders throughout all of known history.  The last thing I need is someone else who's decided to blame me for being alive after Othanar died, so fuck 'im.  

Either way, I've made yet another inadvisable pact, this one binding myself to the "Brotherhood of the Carved Table" or whatever they're calling themselves at the moment.  After having to prove my worth by smashing bottles, I was permitted to sign on to the charter, which also included an unstated mission to defeat the Seven Yomi Princes, some kind of highfalutin' demon generals or something.  Seemed like a good cause, and also one "noble" enough to earn Faerval House favor, so I'm still in.  

Our first mission together was to hunt down the tormented ghost of a famous half-elven hero, destroy her, and plunder her tomb.  Heroics and economics rarely mix well, but right now it's the only game in town, so I'm going to do my best.  

There was a lot of yelling and a lot of personal drama, in between cutting a trail through forest and swamp, directly to the banshee's tomb.  The first night we camped, we were attacked by spear-wielding frogs.  By the time I woke up the fight was already over, but the debate over whether frog people count as people had just begun.  Eventually the priest let them off with a warning, and we went on our way.  

Once we got to the tomb, the halfling scout used some king of magic fan to lead us to the banshee, though we had to fight through some living armor and some other crap first, though the quick thinking of the bard kept that relatively low-casualty.  

The Banshee nearly killed half of us with her scream (I'd have been dead were it not for the Armor of Winter), and the nameless host of ghosts and corpses she had with her didn't help, but we put them down eventually, thanks in large part to that guy who can turn into a dragon. 

Anyhow, we destroyed the banshee and then she thanked us for killing her, and bequeathed all of her stuff to us… which neatly circumvents the ethical quandaries of tomb-robbing.  Let's hope that all of our missions shake out so neatly.

Then we found out that there was a magic fountain in the tomb that would grant "beauty" to one person who sacrificed a magic item to it.  Which of course started off a whole new shouting match, with everyone eventually deciding that Racist McElflord should be the one to use it because we can't be having people with scars breaking up the scenery… without bothering to ask him if that would be something he wanted.  

After much more shouting and hand-wringing, and arguments going back and forth, eventually he did.  

And that's when I learned that this city has fucking branded me.  Key-shaped scar on my left hand, definitely wasn't there before, but matching keys borne by everyone else, which began to glow and yanked us all back into this city. 
Can it do that at any time?
How does it choose when?
Are we now trapped in this city forever? 

Man, fuck this town.  

On the up-side, at least the Faervel Moonblade seems more or less satisfied with me for the moment.

The Master and Apprentice
A lesson in locks

"Do they hurt?"


"No. They itched as they broke skin, but no longer."


"You're doing it wrong. Here… level your hand so you feel all the pins across the rod", Syd rotates the lock so the monk can see. "Like this." The monk grabs the lock and makes a second attempt.


"So what’s up with the shiny bits? Is that normal? Why can you shoot fire from your hands like Soveliss?" She asks. 


Kodu smiles, "Aion has ignited my spark. This has not happened to a non-dragonborn in decades. The last human this happened to in the order was a woman by the name of Nevarene, a descendant of Kovakaru the Founder.  All in my order hail from dragon blood, yet this is rare. I have found the favor of the First Dragon. "


"Yeeeah… that sounds cool and all, but what about the shooty things?"


"As a child, they were just katas to hone my focus. I am just discovering that they were more than that. Now when I repeat the motions, say the words and my blood burns then fire or ice can emerge from my hands. I have not discovered the extent yet, but I'm leary of this kind of power. Nevarene the Reckless' tale does not end well. Her ambitions in sorcery accidentally killed many of the order.” The lock clicks, Kodu smiles and meets the urchin's eyes. 


"Oh, hey! Congrats! Now for something not so infantile.” She smirks as she reaches into her bag and produces another lock. 


"Have you been practicing with the blade?"


Syd shrugs, "The balance is way different than what I'm used to. I guess that makes sense… there's no blade."


The monk chuckles and looks up from the lock, "This is why we practice. Last thing you need is to burn your own arm off; the blade is longer than that with which you are familiar."


"I know, I know. You're not my mom; she’s dead and I’m older than you."


Kodu smirks at her unending pragmatism and lack of fear for gallows humor, "That she is and that you are, Syd Streetwalker, that you are. How goes the search for Olma? Anyone at the docks see her board a ship?"


Syd goes quiet, losing her tough exterior for a split second, "She’s a fighter. She's ok; I know it. I just wish I didn't leave things the way I did. Go figure she'd leave right before I could come back with enough money to make hers and my dream happen."


The lock pops open and the priest hands it over triumphantly, "Now let's go get tea before putting up more signs. I'll talk to the farmers in the morning to see if she went out that way. If she's within the walls, she won't be missing for long"




The last week had been long. The monk hadn't made himself available for his standard services to the town on account of the molting. Never had he encountered such an odd experience; the constant itch, the flaking skin and the concern that this might be some serious affliction acquired from one of the many unnatural things beyond the wall. It wasn't until the silver scales had broken the surface of his skin had he begun to realize what was happening. Then came the joy; Kodu always believed his dragonspark was faint and would never actually receive Aion's blessing. Even though this wasn't a trueblood transformation, he relished in every sleepless, itchy night and focused his meditations more intently. During a traditional form exercise with Mato in the garden,  Kodu transitioned into Strike of The Golden Fury only to release a bolt of fire into a tree in the garden. It was embarrassing, but Mato was his usual calm self; he even made a joke about being glad they weren't inside. The priest of the First Dragon had tried similar katas and found Silver Waits Patiently, Cacophony of the Repelling Wing and Defense of the Towering Mountain all had effects associated with them. To prevent the danger of practicing those specific katas, Elder Yen also taught Kodu a couple less dangerous parlor tricks to help him hone his focus in channelling primal energies as well. 


 Then came the next excursion of the Beyonders. Syd had a message sent to Kodu at the shrine asking him to go beyond the wall to fulfill his promise of procuring the Sun Blade. Although he hadn't finished his transition, he was honor bound to this task. He liked the time he spent with her. She was a good teacher and an even better friend. Although she did not cling to a code, her heart was in the right place and she was quickly teaching him so much more than how to open locks. Her lessons included speaking a type of language learned on the streets (this had helped his understanding of idioms more than Eucarion's explanations of the metaphors being made), tricks to noticing details that others would miss and, perhaps most importantly, the natural balance of chaos and law by offering a starkly contrasting point of view on things the monk had thought resolute. Needless to say, his training would have to wait so he could help his friend. 


Going beyond the wall was met with the normalcy that all of the Beyonders had come to expect. He smirked to himself at how not more than three moons prior, the town had thought the idea foreign and suicidal. Adi's ability to summon a force mound made camping far less dangerous and efficiently reduced the amount of downtime by cutting out an entire guard shift.


Then came the attack in the morning. Goblins from the Goblin Queen's elite forces. They proved to be negligible, but the priest's suspicions were confirmed that they evils beyond were beginning to send more significant threats closer to the town was unnerving. The next nine days weren't as exciting. Odiri the Little was able to conjure berries to eat. Syd and Odiri's tracking ability steered the group away from most threats. All and all a fairly eventless journey to the temple.


The temple of Artimestia on the other hand? Dangerous as expected; Adi's brilliance won the day. Things were as the group had left them. More candles burned in the primary chamber. The room with the zombie ogres was still empty. The next room, however, had the largest insect Kodu had ever seen, this was also the only insect he had ever seen walk upright. The battle was a blur, He remembered using Strike of the Golden Fury, but that's about all. One blink after, he had teleported to the first room. As the monk rejoined the battle, Adi had tricked the creature into breaking through the wall into the room with Syd's prize. There were spiders… big ones. The room was covered in webs with markings to Atropos. A Strike of the Golden Fury cleared the webbing, but this temple was desecrated and needed to be cleansed (no longer was this temple his promise to Syd, but a promise to the gods to restore the sanctity of the grounds). Syd  was quick to rush in through the confusion and grab the Sun Blade. The rest of the battle was easy enough. The others tried to run after Frivolity put a large black darkness on the insect's head (apparently there was something about its eyes), but Kodu knew victory would come. He pressed the attack and felled the creature. The spiders were easy enough to clear out after that. Now Syd had her blade. 


Continuing on through the temple was simple enough. A group of urk heretics didn't put up any sort of fight. The keys interrupted the charge of an Urk Chief. The Beyonders were home again. The work of the temple being unfinished. Another project for another day. 



Have You Seen Me?
The Elephant Not In The Room

I can't find Olma. I know everyone she talks to. I know everywhere she would hide. I can't find her. The last time we spoke, the night of the festival, we weren't exactly at our best. When that tentacle literally almost killed me on our first outing, it figuratively almost killed her. I tried to talk her down, but she knew all my tricks. 

"You can't get me to feel otherwise. You're not leaving these walls again." she said, "Not with me anyway. I won't watch you die. It's stupid."

"And you would know stupid." I shot back.

"Do what you want, Syd. I know you will. Let's see how well you do without me there to protect you." 

"Like you did from that Water Weird?" I sneered.

"Go." she said quietly. 

"That's it?! Just 'go'?? After everything we've b-"

I barely had time to dodge her hammer. She splintered the door with it. The door we built together for the hovel we had shared for years. 

I went, and I went beyond wall. Three times I left without her; three times I came back alive. I wasn't just alive, I was living. There was excitement. Treasure. Friends. Purpose. When I returned from my last adventure, I finally had what I felt to be sufficient evidence to convince her that this was right for us, that I knew what I was doing… aaaand to rub it in her face. I love a good "I told you so." I donned my new armor, filled my pockets with my new wealth and, humming the song Elura wrote in my name, went off to find her. She was gone. If she left… if she shipped out… she took nothing but her hammer. All of her other stuff was left untouched. I asked everyone she talks to. I went everywhere she would hide. I can't find Olma.

                                                       * * *

I made missing person posters. I put them up everywhere. I titled it "Have you seen me?" and drew her as best I could. I know I did it only to comfort myself; if anybody knew anything, I would know it by now. My only hope is if some outsider saw her board a ship or something. I don't understand. She's so big, how could anyone miss her? Then again… I miss her. Alot. Olma, wherever you are… I'm sorry.

Sempur: The Tale of Step and the Word of Water, Part 2
pt. 2

"… For the wise leaser of the O'Aes'Sidhe, Hasani, had learned the Akashic word of "Water" when she was a only a child. That word, carried in her heart, was a secret that helped the O'Aes'Sidhe in their travels… for you see the Moshan Wastes are an unforgiving land. Long cursed by Moshan the Deceiver to divide the lands of Great Asoka and the lands of Solomon the Lesser, his friend and rival."

Or so the storytellers would have you believe. The truth was a bit murkier, for Moshan was a ruler in his own right. His people had discovered a way to conjure demons to this world and quickly used that power to subjugate nearby territories. Solomon the First and the Young Asoka joined together in a several year crusade against that new-formed kingdom. Eventually the walls fell and, in a last ditch effort, Moshan attempted a dark and potent ritual as a final . The ritual failed, or was stopped, or was successful in a strange way depending on the storyteller… but in all stories the city turned to sand and the lands nearby were desiccated by the energies released.

"For in the desert lands Water and Shade are life. A blessing of either is a sign of true compassion in those lands. So you can imagine the surprised reaction of young Step when he realized that he had accidentally swigged down the ancient word of Water when he stole Hasani's drinking gourd…"

"Now the travelers of the caravan were baffled how to get the word back. Certainly they would have to open up the child's belly to retrieve the word, for they could not allow such a sacred thing to pass through the young man in full fashion."
He gestured and hopped as one does when they need to pee, earning a laugh from the crowd gathered around him.

"Others of wandering folk argued that the boy should be given sour cactus to make him to spew the word back up."

"But Hasani, wise in her many years, simply took the boy to where water was needed most. Another youth had grown weary from heat and dehydration. She spoke in nonsense and the light-voice of those under the sway of Moshan's vengeance, a condition known here as Heat Stroke. The idea of losing his friend because of his own folly was too much to take and the youngster, Step, began to cry."

He motioned out the story as he continued, drawing the crowd in with a softer voice.

"Wise Hasani, swift even in her great years, put a vial to the first fallen tear and reclaimed what had been lost to her. The word of Water was then put back into the drinking gourd where it belonged."

"And so the word of Water remains with the O'Aes'Sidhe to this very day and we are left with some importants lessons as well. Who here can tell me what we've learned from this tale?"

Mr. Sempur takes some time collecting answers from the youngsters mixed into the crowd and then gathers up the loose bits of copper tossed to him for his efforts. There are many lessons to be learned from that tale, but the hidden lesson was one that Sempur had recently begun to question…

Arcane majick has long been a thing feared and reviled among his people. Known as the Majicks of Book, Bargain, and Blood they are taboo throughout Asoka. Even the witches, the Wu-Jen, find themselves on the fringes of society for this fear is so pervasive and their practices are sometimes mistaken for Majick.

Sempur had recently met both a practitioner of Blood majick and a practitioner of Book majick. Niether had seemed as monstrous as the depictions of Moshan's ilk. They had used Moshan's own fires to battle many dark creatures. The Weretigers, the Banshee, and the Undead Beholder would all have been very difficult to harm without such power…

He then shakes his head and reprimands himself, thinking in the tone Hasani used to employ. "You have left old walls behind, old notions, old preconceived ideas. Go, experience, and learn. Find truths in your journey and return with wisdom.

"Thank you all for coming. My next tale will be of Step and the Green Wall. A story that introduces the first great city of Asoka, Rehoboam."

Story Time with Odiri - Pt. 8
Adventure 13 - Spooky Places

(OOC – Collaboratively written in part. CW – Implied nudity, Gross lovey dovey shit)

Odiri stares at the man sitting on the end of her bed fishing his boots out from under it, mapping his chest and back’s every scar illuminated by the early morning light in her mind. Despite their recent bouts of intimacy, she had yet to muster the courage to ask Eucarion about them. “Do you really have to leave so soon? I feel like you just got here” she pouts as she gathers the sheets over her chest with a curious modesty that only seems to afflict those the morning after.

“Because. I’m sure Mato has something new for me to be doing today.” He scoffs. “Well, after he makes me scrub the floors. Penance, for a night away.” Odiri laughs quietly, “I would think those floors would have already been scrubbed within an inch of their lives last week if that is Mato’s response to you staying out all night. I’m surprised I was not relegated to the same fate when Shei scolded me for the fountain water mess our clothes left.” Odiri’s eyes were mischievous and bright as Eucarion snorts “Hah, well, he’s still going to make me do it again. I don’t mind it as much as you think I might.” Between finding the first boot and lacing it closed Eucarion asks “What have you been up to the past week anyhow? Beyond the Wall again?”

Odiri scoots up to sit against her headboard yanking the sheets out from under Eucarion to retain the only shred of modesty she had left. “Yeah, we went out. Adi and his press for more information regarding these ancient places suggested we finally make our way back to the Thousand Sage Temple.” The moment Odiri casually mentions the haunted temple, Eucarion drops the second boot he had just recovered in shock. “You did what now?! Odiri, good gods” She tilts her head and smiles at him,” I came back to you did I not? I would not have agreed to go if I did not feel like I would be safe enough to return to you.” Odiri leans over the opposite edge of the bed to snatch Eucarion’s shirt from the floor and tosses it over her own head. She was swimming in the fabric in a comical way but she knew this would delay his departure as he would not leave without his shirt.

“You may have returned this time, but next time you may not.” Eucarion responds while pulling on his second boot. “Who else went with? I would hope a group of decent size given the danger of the challenge.” Odiri leans back in her new garment and slides the long sleeves up her small arms. “We had a decent group. Adi, of course. Then there was Naligor, Kodu and Soveliss. Oh and the new one I wrote to you about Mr. Sempur. And we scooped up Frivolity on the way to the wall at his new home. It’s beautiful. Huge! Two stories, ten rooms. Massive entertainment rooms. I should mention he offered Adi, Kodu and I a room for free in return for our services. I am sorely tempted. Free board for some guard work does not seem too bad. I plan to talk to him further on his conditions.” She smirks at Eucarion. “I think the privacy in a large house would be a little easier to obtain than living in this place.” she gestures vaguely to the room.

Eucarion responds while focusing on lacing his second boot "Hm hm, well, the privacy would certainly be appreciated. Walls certainly are thin here, and it's not as though you can join me at the temple. Mato would have a fit. But that does sound like a solid group. You headed to the Wall after?" Odiri shakes her head at the laughable concept of her ever setting foot into the Temple of Stars regardless of it being the home to her object of affection. “Our way to the wall was easy and rather fast as we had Adi’s cart and now Frivolity’s cart. To my surprise that one Sempur is quite like Syd in the way he can navigate the city. Our trip to the waystation was unfettered but we were dismayed by a lovely note left by those kobold shits thanking us for the meal. They had eaten nearly half the stored provisions so we’ll need to re-stock and protect that damn place. The rest of the travel time over the next 4 days was completely boring and uneventful, aside from the occasional snide remark from the boys about your…gifts. We did a quick loop of the temple to see if anything had changed. Heavens forbid more kobold tribes make their mark on the clearing, we have enough of them to deal with.” Odiri slides up on her knees behind Eucarion and uses her small hands to comb through his thick silver streaked hair gently as she speaks. Every so often she would let a finger slide against the edge of his ear knowing his sensitive reaction to it.

"Mm, that's a shame about the provisions. Could Adi cast some sort of spell on the waystation, you think? To protect it, or hide it. I've seen him do all sort of insanity. I’m sure her could do something for it." Eucarion enjoyed her attention with a soft hum "I expected some sort of commentary to the matter of my…" Eurcarion trailed off, a little at a loss for what to call his marked affections. He turned around some to face her. "You know; I've still never been inside the temple."

With practiced precision Odiri starts at his left temple and plaits Eucarion's hair up and over his ear while continuing "I believe Adi was distracted with his goal to get to the temple but I shall speak with him on the matter when I see him next. As for the temple, none of us had set foot in it till then. We examined my copy of the map and decided to enter from the southeast entrance. Though it was clear any entrance of the four would do. The first room was a grisly visage of carpet of bone shards and a message scrawled across the north wall stating ‘death is the only exit’ but otherwise empty. I was unsettling yes but I knew it was nothing but a fear tactic from those kobold idiots. The following room was not so empty as we were greeted by five Specters. I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the poor bastards. Doomed to the earth by whom I assume was Blood Spattered Snow Bitch with no way to ascend to planes beyond.” She pauses her story to kiss his left shoulder on the thick scar that carved him from his collarbone to his shoulder blade then shifts to the right side of him to mirror the braid starting at his temple.

Eucarion shivers as she kisses on his scar. Finishing donning his boots, he remains sitting on the bedside. "I do quite like this 'Blood Spattered Snow Bitch' thing. So, you dispatched with the spectres I assume, and then what?" As Odiri continues to braid the hair on the right side of his head she explains “The specters were surprisingly easy to fell with the new arrows in the case. Soveliss lit up the entire room with fire that miraculously avoided our party and between Naligor turning into a massive white bear and Kodu doing his whole…choppy, kicky shit we took down all five specters without a scratch! That room had another circle of standing stones like the ones we found in the caves under the Dwarven ruins and a a stone dais that was unfortunately trapped with arrows. Poor Mr. Sempur was hit fairly bad but oddly refused healing from any of us. Once we disarmed the trap we were rewarded with a decent bounty of coins and gems by a chest hidden below it.” As she finishes the second braid Odiri runs her fingers tenderly over the two small scars on Eucarion’s upper arm and sets to work bringing the two smaller side braids together into one larger braid down the back 

Eucarion sits patiently, waiting for Odiri to finish her work, enjoying her light touches. Since they had begun seeing one another in earnest, he'd gotten a lot more comfortable with the unfortunate condition of his body. With her, at least. "This Mr. Semper seems an interesting fellow. I imagine I'll be meeting him at some point. Did you go any further in?"

“He is very interesting. I dare say he tells a better story than I. We came to the second room down a hallway. It was very odd because the door to the room had no handle. So of course Kodu, being Kodu, kicked it in….after a few tries” Odiri titters at the memory of it as her hands methodically make their way down, passing strands of hair over and under each other. “Well! That room was sealed off for a reason. Because inside was a fucking wight and six zombies. All seem to have been dwarves in life but sadly just like the specters they were doomed to this sad undead way of things. This fight was especially frustrating because the hallway was so tight that Xiao was stuck in the back where we had taken post for most of the journey. But between the fire majicks of those who posses the talent, my bow and Kodu’s staff we were able to reduce those monsters to ash without my sweet boy’s help” Odiri smiles up from her braiding to glance at the door knowing Xiao is waiting politely on the other side as he had been all night. She turns back to her work on taming Eucarion’s hair. “Xiao is still very sorry for the whole cold nose thing last week.”

Eucarion blushes a bright scarlet to the tips of his ears at the memory. "Well, it's gonna take a minute for me to forgive him for that one." He grumbles out, "In any case, sorry he wasn't of much use to you. Wights are the worst." As she finishes the thick braid she realizes the leather thong he had it tied with was nowhere to be seen so she passes the tip of the braid over Eucarion’s shoulder and asks ”hold this?” before pulling up the sheets and lifting the pillows searching for the missing scrap. With a resigned sigh Odiri slips off the bed and shuffles barefoot with Eucarions top hitting her knees. Eucarion takes the braid in his fingers, peeking at her handiwork with a hum of satisfaction as he does. He watches her stumble about the room in his shirt, smiling in amusement. "Did you go any further than that? Into the temple, I mean." She digs through a pile of her own leather armor and pouches to recover a sturdy strip of navy blue dyed leather.”Uhuh! Ohh, found it!” She slides back to stand in front of Eucarion and takes the braid from his hand tying it off with the navy leather.

“Oh and apparently Naligor can turn into an octopus now? That was new. Well we finally moved on when we dismantled every last one of them we noticed the warning written on the east wall that said ‘look to the ceiling’ I was expecting some hideous monster to drop from above as a cruel joke but there was nothing not even a cobweb. Then that ungodly unsettling wind chime noise we heard back in the Kami Mine again. Ugh” She shivers off the thought of the ethereal noise. “We passed on to the next room after Kodu bruted his way through the door and were greeted with another empty room. Our progress seemed to have come to a dead halt when we encountered and iron door that could not fall victim to Kodu’s limbs. I was sure our keys would glow at any moment but to my surprise Soveliss came through with a spell of acid to melt down the door at its seams. That brought us to a massive, yet mostly empty room. It seems to have been maybe a training room at one point as there were empty stone weapons racks along the walls. In the last room we made it to before the keys brought us home was a funeral preparation area of some sort. What we thought were two corpse at first ended up being zombies! I've heard so many terrible stories of the curses that zombies could inflict so our group dispatched those undead fucks the best we knew how. Fire and brute force. I am so proud of Xiao because he landed the killing blow on the 2nd of the two. Once we were safe we found a variety of decorative jars and trinkets to pass off to Elder yen and… Poof… back home.” Odiri crawls into Eucarion’s lap and kisses the scar through his left eyebrow and smirks at him impishly “and..well, you know the story from there.”

Eucarion chuckles, putting a hand to Odiri's hair, ruffling it and kissing the top of her head. "Hmm, yes, I most certainly do." He sighs, rubbing his hands along Odiri's arms lovingly. "You gonna give me my shirt back, miss adventurer?" Odiri’s lips curl in a mischievous grin "why would I do that? If I don't give it back you have to stay for breakfast" With both cunning and coddling Eucarion won his shirt back and stood to leave.  "Send word for me?" he asks standing at the door.

Odiri hops off the bed to follow him to the door and pulls his hand hard enough to make him lean down. "Kiss me proper and maybe I will. You wouldn't want your last kiss to me one on the cheek if I die beyond the wall without you." He obliges her, taking a knee and gently kissing her lips. Pulling back after a tender moment, he smiles. "I suppose I'll just have to come with you then." Odiri smiles warmly after getting exactly what she was looking for. "I look forward to the day that I have you at my back in battle once more." She hesitates glancing at the floor and back up at him. "I love you Eucarion…"

"It may be sooner than you think." Eucarion rises to his feet, looking down at her and feeling only light. "I love you too, Odiri." Not opening the door any more than he has to for her modesty, he gives a last glance back, slipping out and away.

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