Tales of Shore Blossom

The Book of V.Gates
Entry 1

The Journey Begins: The Circle must be Observed!

I did not know what to expect when I arrived in this small backwater town… Or at least it was supposed to be a backwater town.

           The captain fit well into what my idea of a shady port captain might be as he leered over the two young women who have been placed in my care. He was old and had not aged well, broken teeth, bad breath, and skin covered in scars from pox wounds all in all a rather pathetic creature. Perhaps the captain’s unfortunate visage was punishment from the goddess for either his age or poor choices as a youth. Regardless I was glad to be rid of his wretched company.

           Sister Serena seems to enjoy the idea of these explorations and just as the sun follows the moon I follow her. She and I are two halves of the same coin we walk together along the path of life and death, but perhaps we shall never truly meet or not as I would prefer. In truth I have come to accept this, but who knows things could change life is fickle.

           As we disembark from our ship and begin wandering around I find that the stories I have been told about this seem to be drastically incorrect. Everyone is well dressed and seems more opulent then I would expect in what I was told was a backwater and horrid little town. Eventually we are met by a child no bigger than my shin whom decided to be our guide. I do not handle interactions well so I suggest to Serena that we check in with the local temple but say little else.

           As we wind through the streets of the city I am amazed to see that I am not being treated as an oddity. Sure I get the occasional stare but instead of curiosity it is more a stare you would give a stranger, it is odd to me and a little unnerving.

           We break paths with lady Kethra and proceed with our small runtish guide to the temple. He seems like a nice child perhaps he will live a long and healthy life.

           We arrive at a huge temple the architecture is odd and slightly foreign to me, and as we are being led inside I stop for a minute. To the left and right of the entrance are incredibly large and beautiful black jade Fu-Dogs or temple guardians. I reach out slowly and place my hand on the head of the Fu-Dog to my right. I close my eyes and reach out with my mind and for a minute I imagine I can see everything this creature has seen before me. I get visions of the life teeming around the city, the festivals and lively events, and many other such visions. The jade is warm beneath my hand I pull my hand away and remind myself that this is not a living creature simply a sculpture wormed by the sun, a mockery or perhaps an abomination. Too bad really…

           Inside Serena deals with an elf who believes himself to be to important life is temporary even for elves if they are not careful. Either way we are led to a shrine to our goddess, I light the lone green candle. I find it intriguing how so many can forget about my ladies lesser known aspect, perhaps it is the short life span of humans that makes forgetting easier. I may not be longed live but my ancestors are and they remember, thus I remember.

           Once we have completed our business with the temple, Sister Serena and I step outside onto the street. The runt who led us here is outside playing with his friends and offers to guide us to the inn where Kethra ran off too. He really is a good child, he shall have a good life and as Serena says likely a good death it is all any of us can ask for really.

           Again I am amused by the door, this might seem unremarkable to others but given my size I am always impressed when I see a facility has accounted for non-average people such as me. It feels good not having to duck as I walk into the establishment. As we arrive I scan the room as I always do, I must be ever vigilant to protect Sister Serena and myself.

 

As I scan the room I notice four people of consequence:

 

1. (Shei) A beautiful women with intelligent eyes, I can tell clearly she runs the facility. You can usually tell based on the body language and passion in someone’s eyes. When two strangers walk into your bar and one of them is as large as me you take stock and size them up to make sure they will not damage your property.

 

2. (Madame Saru) Another beautiful woman I start to wonder if that is common at this place… In fact as I look around it seems that it is. She looks strong and healthy; she would provide strong healthy children to replenish the circle of life. Her hair and her skin look to be in top health and to make things even better there is sharpness in her eyes. She looks like she knows more then she lets on and has a wealth of information that could be gleaned perhaps over drinks? I should get to know her better.

 

3. (Odiri) Not what she appears to be at all. To most I believe they would simply see a drunkard someone whom could be easily had or duped but they would be wrong. Even with her level of intoxication you can see the fine movements in her muscles underneath her blue and yellow Ki-Pow as if even in drunkenness she is making calculated decisions. She is dangerous and should not under any measure be underestimated. That makes her likely more deadly than her compatriot.

 

4. (Eucarion) This one looks like he could provide a challenge and perhaps even a little sport, it is rare that I meet someone who can raise my hackles. While his female companion is covertly dangerous, this one is overtly dangerous…. Time stops…. I see some similarities in this pair. They remind me of me and Serena… is this how others view me and her? Am I just the lug behind her? I will have to ponder this more. The elf is covered in clothing odd given the environment and he is wearing a high collar, did I just see a small streak of a scar near his collar? He must be a soldier of sometime it is hard to tell but he should be watched.

           After surveying the room I realize I have fallen behind Sister Serena and she beckons me over to a table where lady Kethra is sitting… Which happens to be right next to the odd pair, not ideal but I suppose it will make watching them easier.

           Kethra and Serena chat, what about I do not really know I am to distracted to pick up much of the conversation. I often find I just trust sister Serena to watch my back as I ponder my mission, life, and try to watch our surroundings. In a way it is another reflection of our odd bond a symbiotic relationship between our aspects.

           I wonder where Roth might be in this city, I have been tasked with many missions; protect sister Serena, protect myself, protect Kethra, find the ancient relic taken from my people, find Roth… It can feel overwhelming sometimes.

           At some point in time tea is ordered from Madame Saru, I do not remember asking for but I must have implied needing a larger cup I am handed what amounts to be a small cauldron of tea. With little thought and through the protests of Madame Saru I reach out with one of my hands and grab the scalding hot cauldron of tea, I blow lightly on the tea once and begin to slowly sip my tea. Saru seems impressed and curious about me, she smiles to long, and blushes, I can tell she is interested in me. I flirt back as a union of the two of us would further life and fall within an aspect of my goddess.

           Life, death, and rebirth these are the three tenets of my goddess now, there is a fourth but some have forgotten. For you see Persephone also has dominion over nature and it is that aspect to which I follow nature and also to an extent life. For me procreation is natural and falls within the tenets of my faith. In service to Persephone I will not let myself be held back by social or cultural norms. If she wishes to mate with me then it will be a glorious thing.

It seems I have something to do with my evening once the party has wound down.

I must have been drowning in my thoughts and only providing shallow conversation with these two new additions to our group. It seems Odiri and Eucarion are an item, and that they will be our guides for our first jaunt beyond the wall tomorrow. It also seems I have been voluntold by sister Serena that we are now part of a charter, I was going to sign my name but it seems to have appeared as if by some mischievous magic. I smile at sister Serena, and I enjoy that fact that she always keeps me on my toes and keeps me sharp. Seems she has won this round. As is prudent I as for a manifest of what resources our new friends have at their disposal.

 

As I peruse the list I notice three things of interest.

 

1. A scepter infused with the very essence of my deity. I am struck with awe as I look over the marvelous pieces of equipment I feel a sense of oneness with the scepter and am saddened as I place it back within the case.

 

2. A short sword as well… it seems this is where my peoples artifact has been the entire time! I think about removing this and claiming that it has been stolen but then I am told it will be returned once the Yomi Princes have been defeated. Not wanting to start a fight in this lovely inn and also agreeing that its strength can be well used I place it back where it was.

 

3. An odd scabbard and as I read its magical properties a plan begins to form, I must remember to take this with me tomorrow along with the short sword I believe it could come in handy.

           

The party winds down and our new compatriots leave to get some rest it is hard to gauge their thoughts of the three of us. At times Eucarion and Odiri seem pleased to have us about and at others they seem furious or even dumbfounded, either way this should be interesting.

           I am handed a key to my room by lady Kethra, but I realize I will not need it this evening I have other sleeping arrangements already made. Thinking about this evening my lips curl into a devilish smile, it is time for prayers with Madame Saru…

           Madame Saru leads me to her bedchamber, we both disrobe…. (Fade to black)

I awake feeling cleansed and refreshed, I hear a knock on the door and without putting on a shred of clothing I stand up to answer the person at the door. She blushes as she enters the bedroom and I can see she is less comfortable with my naked form then I am. She provides me with the option for a bath, either here in Madame Saru’s room or at a local bath house. I choose here in the room, and she runs off to procure a tub of my size. I am utterly shocked and overcome with humor as a tub large enough for me is dragged into the room I assist the groaning servants not wanting them to hurt themselves on my account. While the water is not as hot as I would prefer it feels wonderful against my scales.

           After a bath I equipment self and head down for breakfast, I see Madame Saru downstairs and a coy smile flashes on her lips for a moment as well as a hint of blush in her cheeks as she sees me standing at the top of the stairs. I walk down and begin to partake of breakfast. The food is good and very filling. I pack any extra in my bag and we discuss which items we shall take from the chest. At first I request the scabbard, the short sword, and the fine piece of leather armor. Having no modesty I disrobe in front of everyone and place the new armor on my body it feels amazing and supple against my scales. After some brief discussion lady Kethra requests I hand her the armor, not wanting to be rude I quickly agree and again disrobe in front of everyone. It is at this time I notice Eucarion trying to take a glimpse at my sexual organs. I take my penis in my hands and place it on the table it lands with a rather large audible thud, and ask if he would like to take a closer look. He blushes and says “no”, I think to myself that he is odd and strangely insecure I shrug thinking little of it and put my original leather armor back on. I place the relic to my people inside of the new scabbard and I already feel like my plan is starting to come together. I feel unstoppable.

           We finalize our plans and as I turn to leave Madame Saru calls out my name, I turn and walk over to her. Curiously she ties a small white handkerchief around my rather large wrists… oddly enough it fits around my wrist. I am not sure what to think of this custom, I am also not sure what to do, what does this mean? I give her a warm embrace and promise to return. She kisses my hand gently and behind me I hear from Eucarion and Odiri “did she just give him her favor?!” it seems she does not do this for everyone.

           As we leave Eucarion and Odiri are both on horseback, Kethra and Sister Serena are in the back of a rather large wagon, and I am driving the wagon. Bored by the travel and wrapped within my own thoughts the time passes nearly instantly. One moment we are heading out of the city, the next we are met by two guards at a rather impressive wall. Sister Serena comments about the hydration level of one of the guards, I take a closer look and she is indeed correct I can feel his life energy slowly draining from his body he should indeed hydrate better or he could drop. Some more time passes and we are at the edge of what appears to be a sea of bamboo……………………………..

           WHAT was that? Have I been hit with an arrow or some kind of electric bolt? I look around looking for some sort of enemy but there is none. I look up and the odd gem that floats between my horns now has some odd key symbol etched into it. Eucarion and Odiri do not seem worried and in fact seem a little amused to see the three of us visibly shaken by the event. Odiri and Eucarion snicker a bit and simply state “this happens to everyone, don’t worry about it.” I shrug, if it is my day to die and meet my goddess then so be it, I would not want to keep her waiting longer than is required.

           The day goes by more or less uneventful that is until lunch time. As we are sitting end eating a small meal of rations our guides shout out about massive boars. I stand up and turn to see three rather large and odd looking boars. They seem like giants among their species this could be due to good health or even a blessing from my goddess, but something seems wrong with them. Upon closer inspection it is their eyes that have me suspicious, their eyes are glowing red and are bloodshot as if they are enraged.

           The boars slam into Eucarion and Odiri, as they and their animal companions take the brunt of the boars rage. Eucarion is nearly sent tumbling backwards from the sheer force of the boars charge. I call upon the roots and vines of the forest to entangle our foes and the rest of my party makes quick work of the boar’s before I can engage them properly. Thinking to myself how wonderful some bacon would be I begin to retrieve the corpses of the boar’s. Sister Serena bless their passing in the name of our goddess, the eyes of the boar turn from red to white and we both know our goddess is pleased. The rangers clean our kill and I begin to cook massive chunks of bacon for our party. I also patch up Odiri with a healing spell to mend some of her wounds. After we eat our bacon and collect our things we set out again, and arrive at a beach at sunset. We set a watch and those of us not on watch sleep. I awake unmolested and find the evening went by uneventfully. So ends our first day in the wilds.

           We eat breakfast and discuss our travel for the day; apparently we will be heading along the shore keeping the bamboo forest on one of our sides. For the most part we chat and casually pass the time, I dip in and out of the conversation as I am again drowning in my own thoughts.

           Sometime passes and suddenly I am shaken from my thoughts by a scream “TIGERS!!!” Suddenly I look about she is indeed correct. I look around and see several spectral tigers have suddenly closed around us. Our horses are under attack, Kethra and Serena are under attack, as well as our guides. I do not have the time to think through all of my options and I just react. I hop down from the driver’s seat on the wagon and as I land on the ground the tigers begin their assault and I start to form a plan. Time slows around me for an instant, the sword, the scabbard, my friends, the tigers they are all variables in this mathematical equation and it is up to me to find a solution. Suddenly I am struck with a plan and it is just then that I land on the ground with an audible thud. I scream and roar at the top of my lungs urging the tigers to see me as the alpha. I am trying to call upon their primal instincts of wanting to assert dominance to get them to attack me and leave my friends be. Sadly the keeper of these tigers a woman floating in the air who seems to be part tiger is able to reign in her control over the beasts and subvert my efforts. Where did she come from? Damn her! I am able to get the attention of at least two of the creatures, and I trust Sister Serena to hold out long enough for me to deal with these two threats. With a roar that would make my ancestors proud I reach deep within myself and let out a torrent of mighty dragon fire and spray it over my foes, they seem less then pleased… good. The tigers close and try to rake my body with their might claws. I make no effort to block the blow and simply trust in my plan. Sparks fly as their claws scratch harmlessly across my scales. Good I think to myself, it seems this scabbard works as advertised. I laugh to myself and then begin to cut down the two tigers that have placed themselves at my mercy. They are fools though, for attacking Sister Serena, and Lady Kethra they will be punished and will have no mercy from me. The battle rage briefly and with little effort the marauding beasts are cut down. As is custom Serena says a prayer to our goddess over the body of each fallen foe. I turn to our friends and ask who requires mending I had no doubt in my mind that Serena and Kethra would be safe, Serena is a dangerous enemy and Kethra is just as crafty they are both perfectly unscathed as am I. Our guides however, are not so lucky. Odiri and Eucarion agree that Odiri should receive the benefit of my goddess. I take one single claw tipped finger and lightly tap it on Odiri’s head. As the magic flows through me from my goddess and into her I see Odiri visibly shudder as if ice cold water had been poured over her. I make a note of Odiri’s reaction but think little of it.

           Wait…. My claw… I suddenly remember the other night in the bar. My lips curl into another devious smile, that poor table. I had completely forgotten that I had been absentmindedly tapping a hole in the table with a single claw while the others had been speaking. I had been buried in deep thought and not realized what I was doing. Thought I suppose it is a good thing I had not been doing the same thing to poor Odiri’s delicate countenance.

           After the battle we continue on, but I ask to rest in the back of the wagon. Kethra takes up the reigns while I doze in the wagon. Breathing fire while impressive can be draining, and who knows I might be called upon to use that trick once again this day.

           Fortunately the day goes by uneventfully and we stop for the night. The night passes with no issues.

           As is custom we have a light breakfast and continue on with our journey. Early in the day we happen across some ancient looking docks. The docks appear to have been crafted by the dwarves they do not look like they have seen use in sometime but for the most part are in decent shape. I look out over the buildings and the water. Out in the water I see a large unmoving part of the river.

           I wanted to let my traveling companions know about this spot in the water. I wanted to warn them of the threat that could be under the waters. I wanted to point out all the bones of fallen creatures near the bank of the shore. I wanted to, but I did not have the time to do so. As I was about to say something I see a single arrow fly from Odiri’s bow and land into the center of the stagnant pool of water. Suddenly a massive Hydra comes roaring out of the water. The heads of the Hydra are thrashing about like snakes and sending a rain of water and drool everywhere. A Single thought goes through my mind; Oh good it is Hydra time.

           As I charge down the to the shore line to put myself between the Hydra and my friends Eucarion casts a spell rooting the Hydra in place. I am facing the Hydra knowing I am completely unable to be harmed due to the scabbard at my belts. The Hydra’s attacks do absolutely nothing to me and are unable to damage my gleaming golden scales. As I hack into the Hydra with all my might and pour dragon fire over its body Eucarion and Odiri are crafting instruments of flame. Eucarion and Odiri are also aware that fire will blunt the creature's innate ability to regenerate it seems, how useful of them.

           The fight rages on and suddenly I notice that at some point Sister Serena has come down to the shore to join me and the Hydra in battle. Watching Serena fight is beautiful she gracefully and easily dodges every attack the Hydra throws at her. During her dance of death she even manages to use my shield to deflect a blow from the Hydra. Her form is perfect, and pleasing to watch.

           While the Hydra is big and full of life it is little more than a nuisance, the five of us easily dispatch our foe. I decide to rest in the back of wagon wanting to regain my strength in case my fire might be needed again. Later I am told by my party that a great deal of coin wealth and other oddities had been located in the ruins of the dock.

           I am awoken by an odd sensation; I poke my head out the back of the wagon and see that we have somehow been transported back to town. How convenient I think to myself. Sister Serena sees me stir from my slumber, she looks over to me and tells me "Our goddess is pleased with us." this brings joy to my heart and I am pleased to please our goddess.

           We arrive back at the inn, and I put back the might relics I have borrowed for our journey. I check with Sister Serena and Lady Kethra to make sure they do not require anything. I then go search for Madame Saru perhaps she can help me work out the knots in my muscles from my hard journey I think to myself with another grin.

           Life always finds a way, and it is but nature to seek physical thrill after adventure.

 

V.Gates Hierophant of Persephone

               

 

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Log I : Day 25
Eucarion's Journal

My first writing under my own roof! Praise be! After far too many nights spent between Mato's watchful eye and Frivolity's fuckpalace, I finally found a suitable place to make my home. A modest cottage on the edge of town. Though I certainly have the money for more, I swear to never again live in a house that I cannot walk the span of in a minute. I know from what riches I once came, and I am that man no longer. Here, there is enough room that Charka may comfortably patrol, and Odiri and I can peaceably… exist. The bedroom, lovely as it is, is hers in a way. The only time I am ever there is when she comes to call on me. Old soldier that I am, I prefer a cot in the loft of my workshop. That way, when not engaged in certain vigorous and occupying activities with Odiri or away beyond the wall, I can keep engrossed in work from noon to night. It has kept me just enough distracted from my grief to get by.

Of course, with my own bit of property, I had the space for a stable, and so, good care of a horse. It'd been a while since I'd had a horse of my own, and seeing so many of the other party saddle up, Odiri included… Well, it really was about time. Tactically speaking. I had settled at first on naming my new steed Alphax, after my first one in childhood, but reconsidered when I found a beautiful silver dappled stallion at market, whose character and platinum mane left in mind the impression of a man I once knew. Collien was his name. God! So much of my life has been built on those of dead lovers… Morbid thinking. None of that now.

Sometime last week, before our latest journey into the dangers beyond the wall, Odiri informed me she had researched a way to revive Xiao from the dead and would be going out into the Bamboo Sea to perform the ritual. I would accompany her. No objections. I'd given the excuse that I was going only to hunt, but I think she was well aware of my true, protective intentions. I'm glad I did come along, because she was in a deep trance for many hours, left totally vulnerable. I had made some attempt to hunt, yes, but abandoned the practice entirely to cruise the perimeter of the clearing and observe her. I'd never really seen such a thing. The air vibrated with a magical energy, but in the later hours especially, Odiri glowed, longer-growing hair swept up by the collecting breeze, motes of light dancing around her. Sweet mercy, had she ever looked so beautiful. Of course, as I might have expected, she was nearly interrupted by the arrival of our company compatriots. I damn nearly shot Oranssi for his outbursts, even after I recognized that it was him and not some other intruder. But I managed to hush them down and keep them from disturbing my love's good labors. By the end of the 8th hour, she stood, wind picking up, her eyes glowing impossibly bright with a magic from the beyond. The motes came together in the shape of a glowing egg and, with a crack of bright light, the egg vanished, leaving behind Xiao, whole and fully formed. A happy reunion that even Charka took joy in. It surprises me that she has made a friend of that bear. I suppose I don't mind him much either. As I held Odiri's exhausted, elated body, Adi approached with sincere congratulations and an offering of rice cakes. I say with no ounce of shame that he is worthy of admiration, and, though he has his dubious moments, so much of what he does confirms to me the strength of his soul.

As I assisted Odiri in wrestling Xiao's silver claw tips back on, another ritual was taking place. Frivoity had stepped aside to perform something I presume was similar to what Odiri had been doing, though far more… lively? She had entered a trance-like dance and, in short time, isolated a single star in the hanging heavens. Growing brighter and brighter, the star came down from the sky, striking the earth in a hail of stardust to produce… a tiny metallic dragon? If Frivolity was bad enough on her own, this thing was absolutely insufferable! In a truly terrible little pitch, it went down the line of our party, laying down insults and convictions on each of our heads, before calling Frivolity out for faking the bravado of her voice all this time. Frivolity dropped the pretense and, good lord, why hadn't she just spoken in her natural cadence from the start? It was a voice pleasant to the ears, especially in consideration of how she had sounded before. With any hope, the trend of diminishing annoyances would continue… 

A night passed at the waystation without incident, Odiri sleeping soundly in total exhaustion. Our party continued on for 5 days, towards Shandao. This time, we were greeted by the translucent ghost of a dwarf in imperial armor, who introduced himself to me as "The Captain". Apparently, I was the only one not to have previously met him. He'd been keeping watch of the area for us, and informed the party that no kobolds had been seen going in and out of the place for a full week. Hungry dead had departed, but nothing more. The fall of Lord Xun had obviously caused some unsettlement below. 

We proceeded down under the pretense of a peaceful trade mission. Apparently, on some previous occasion, we had been given an invitation by the Bamboo Spiders into their territory. Frivolity disguised herself as a white kobold, leading us. The plan was a bit half-baked from the start, which left me feeling rather uncomfortable the whole journey. I hated going into anything without a clear plan of attack. Once a tactician, always a tactician, I suppose. Without the aid of any of our city-familiar friends, it took our company 5 hours of travel to get to the red lantern district that served as the heart of Bamboo Spider territory. 

Elura insisted that we locate a tavern, so that she may perform and gain the trust of the kobolds inside. The one we managed to find was full of unusual looking kobolds. Well-armed, good clothing, black scales, piercing green eyes. One in particular stood out among the rest, wearing fine robes and flanked by quaggoths. While the rest of us stayed hidden outside, Elura entered with Adi on her arm under the guise that he was her servant translator. The quaggoths hissed immediately. Ah, of course they would, wretched things. The whole initial interaction went understandably terribly, and really only got worse when Frivolity stepped in to help. The robed kobold, obviously a leader of some sort and the smartest kobold I have ever encountered in my many years, started questioning what clan Frivolity was from. She weaseled her way out of that question and bluffed that she was the descendant of white dragons, but at the expense of discovering that it was a surface runner, the absolute lowest rung of kobold society, who had invited us down. I did not catch much of the rest of the conversation, as the kobold in charge mentioned offhandedly that they only exchanged currency in the name of the Goblin Queen. Oranssi and I were both left reeling. She still lives! That slimeskinned scumsucking bitch! Fucking hell, will this never be over? When I quelled my anger enough to regain focus, Elura had performed and the kobolds had softened some. Apparently, the city was in an uproar since the disappearance of Lord Xun. The "squid princes", the mindflayers, were all the kept the chaos in check. The return of their Lord and the restoration of order was priority number one. Infuriatingly, a kobold suggested that Adi be made an offering to Lord Xun as he "had a thing for elven women". Only Odiri's steadying hand kept me from launching in there and responding in kind to the continued insults of "flower eater" and so forth. How dare they! 

Elura was granted a room for the night, which we were all smuggled into. We absolutely could not fight our way out of this one. It would be the entire city against us. What was discussed instead was the possibility of leveraging our position and inciting conflict between the clans. If they were too busy fighting each other, we would not be suspected. That, and the mindflayers would be too distracted by unruly kobolds to waste their efforts on us. For this excursion, we would try to get into the library, using Silent Raccoon kobolds as bait. Though I trusted Adi's judgement of the plan, I knew even in that moment that the whole thing was insane. Inciting conflict? Starting a war, more like. Though perhaps it was necessary to our goals at that moment, I will not let this come to any further fruition beyond this. I refuse to be in the business of making war. It is a horrible thing that no beast should be burdened by, even kobolds. That (relative) night, I slept curled tight around Odiri, needing her comforts as much as she needed mine. Upward drifting conversations from the tavern below of halflings being perfect victims had left her understandably startled.

In the morning, Oranssi made his dipleasure known through a particualrly burnt breakfast. He took issue with Elura's 'enslavement' of the kobolds and all that we were about to embark upon. I know Oranssi's reasons for such a visceral reaction, but my attempts at mediation with a more moderate opinion fell short. Our party had no choice but to proceed, and only for that unfortunate fact were arguments quelled. 

In another 5 hours of travel, we entered Silent Racoon territory. Another tavern and another performance by Elura, though briefly and terrifyingly interrupted by a mindflayer and a troglodyte, granted another favorable reception and another night's stay. While we again snuck upstairs, Elura and Frivolity went back to the tavern to chat up a group of kobold soldiers with teases of theoretical threesomes, striking in them the idea to raid the library. Unexpectedly, they departed immediately and at a quick pace, giving us no time to rest and gather ourselves. I caught their trail and led the party, following scuffs and prints on the walls. We could not keep the pace on foot and, shortly, they were a full two miles ahead of us. Exhaution seeped through our ranks as we forced march. I hardly remember the journey, some second instinct taking over me then and putting me back in my old boots, traversing mountains and plains in pursuit of goblin armies, a trance of concentration, blind to all but the essentials. When we could go on foot no longer, a bizarre set of steeds was rigged up to ferry us all. Frivolity and Elura sat upon Luminestra, dragging behind Xiao and Odiri in a spell of Tenser's disk. Adi and Albion were on a summoned griffin, Oranssi, Chark, and myself similarly in tow. We sped through the city, narrowly avoiding an encounter with a flock of 6 hook horrors. There was no time to lose, or our mission would be forfeit.

Alarms sounded as we made to escape the Silent Raccoon district. Our exit was suddenly blocked by a swarm of enemies. 20 kobolds, 2 troglodytes, and a mindflayer, poised to attack. Adi swore in three different languages and steered us up and above, splitting us from our friends below. Magical darkness descended and we were cut off. All paths of escape were rendered moot for lack of sight. I could not see Odiri. This would not stand. Oranssi cast daylight on my arrow and I loosed it into the fray below. I shot true, piercing the darkness and illuminating a path to freedom. From all around us, a booming voice. "We know that you're here. You can keep running, but this city will kill you." Fat chance.

Reunited, we pressed on, flying fast high over the city. Alarms rolled like waves below us, one tripping in sequence after the other. Rooftops swarmed with armed kobolds like ants, but they could not reach us. Stagnant underground air turned to wind by our fast motion, the full scope of what we had done unfolded below us. We had kicked the hornet's nest. There was no going back now.

We touched down at the last possible moment, landing on the roof of the library. There had obviously been some sort of ruckus inside and, when we entered, we discovered ample evidence that our plan had succeeded. Kobolds corpses littered the grounds, some missing brains and many foaming at the mouth. At the center of it all, a mindflayer, struck down by an impressive multitude of crossbow bolts. A standout effort. Bravo, boys. Adi began giving instructions on what to loot, but I was way ahead of him. The less honorable part of soldierly instincts already knew what to do. Our rampant bagging of everything was interrupted by Elura's alarm being tripped. A female voice echoed with disdain through the halls of the library. Our keys glowed as she approached. Just as she entered the main chamber, swathed in bloody robes and flanked by hungry dead, opening her mouth to say, "Looks like there's a feas-", we were gone with a flash of magic.

Safely at the gates, Adi congratulated us on a job well done, only to be violently interrupted by Oranssi throwing a spell. He deflected it easily, but the slight did not go unnoticed. An argument ensued, Oranssi denouncing what he had done and Adi defending the merits of the spoils. Tim and Bob attempted to butt in, but I ordered them to stay out of it. Just as the affairs of officers are private, this didn't need to be making the rounds. 

Odiri sleeps in the bedroom as a write this, recovering after such an exhausting ordeal. I have no such ability. Worry for what is to come of us keeps me from rest.

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Odiri's Journal Pt. 14
Adventure 25 - Dead Quiet Library

Despite reconnecting with Eucarion, things were still not at peace. Xiao was still gone and I felt an emptiness that Eucarion, try as he might, could not fill. Eucarion has purchased a cottage on the edge of town that I find myself spending more and more time at. I fear Lady Frivolity will notice my extended absences but she seems well and truly distracted with her own conquests both in town and in her bedroom. Speaking of bedrooms, I find it very odd that though Eucarion’s cottage has a bedroom he does not seem to use it when I am not there in favor of his workshop. While I understand elves do not need to actually sleep in favor of meditation it is a little odd to see the sheets and pillows in the same mess that we left them days prior.

We’ve settled into a quiet calm with each other. I know he still grieves for Allaya and I don’t blame him. It is a loss that no one should have to bear, but we find solace in each other company. After doing some research in Lady Frivolity’s library and asking Elder Yen a few questions I found there was a way to bring Xiao back, body and soul. It wouldn’t be easy and it would take hours of concentration much like summoning him to me in the first place. Eucarion insisted on going with me beyond the wall pretending he was just looking to hunt but I knew he wanted to keep an eye on me. I’ll admit it was nice for the first time to have a beau with motives of safety and love rather than jealousy and manipulation.

Eucarion and I made it to the waystation with little effort now that we both have horses. Well, he has a horse and I have a wee grey pony I’ve named Dusty. Did I pick him because he was the same color as Eucarion’s eyes? Maybe.  We chose the waystation knowing it would be a safer place to spend the night after the ritual was over without the protection of Adi’s protective bubble or Elura’s alarms.

I found a smaller clearing just outside of the main clearing of the waystation and set to work. I laid out the necessary components Elder Yen instructed me to and began to concentrate. I focused all my energy on the memories of Xiao, his quite companionship and his fierce bravery in battle. I gently rolled the silver claw tips salvaged from his ashes between my palms as I used every ounce of my energy to reach out and out and out trying to find his soul in the Outer Planes. I could feel Eucarion and Charka’s calming energy pass by me routinely one after another as if they had set up some sort of schedule to check on me. Charka’s softness towards me still startles me from a dog who wanted to snap my neck months ago. Has it really been months already? The Harvest Festival is approaching quickly so I suppose time is passing much quicker than I realize.

When I finally felt that familiar presence of that fat little panda I latch onto it as hard as I could. But it was not whole it was just a piece. But as soon as I found one piece I was able to find another, and another. Like a fisherman reeling in the nets I pulled at these slivers of him until they started to melt together into larger and larger pieces. A charming memory here and the smell of his fur there. Eucarion later described this spectacle to me in detail from his view. Apparently by the start of 6th hour I was standing with my arms outstretched and by the start of the 7th hour, motes of green light started to form on the outskirts of the clearing. Within the 7th hour Eucarion was startled by a fair number of the Charter on some mission back to Shan Dao. Apparently he had to urgently halt them from interrupting me in fear that I would have to start the ritual over. I was so exhausted; I was oblivious to all of it. He tells me my eyes started to glow the same color as the motes as a wind whipped through the clearing pulling these shreds of Xiao’s soul closer and closer to me. I faltered and felt the wind slow when I heard the company behind me but mustered what little energy I had left to finish what I started.

At the peak of my exhaustion I felt something akin to an explosion in front of me as the motes that had gathered swelled into a momentary blinding light and when our eyes readjusted to the dark of the evening, there he was, like he had never died. He lumbered to me and threw all his weight onto me in joy. I think I was crying. I do that…a lot. Eucarion knelt behind me and held me in my exhaustion and to my surprise of all the people to greet me first it was Adi. He came quietly bearing sweet rice cakes and congratulations. <s>If I weren’t so utterly in love with Eucarion, Adi would make a very handsome alternative. What is it with me and elves?</s>

Albion followed Adi’s lead with a gifted bottle of rice wine. Though I was too distracted with trying to wrestle Xiao’s claw tips back on with Eucarion’s assistance to imbibe right that moment. Charka seemed genuinely pleased to see Xiao return and hopped from side to side impatiently waiting for him to be free of our ministrations before she rubbed her muzzle against his in greeting. It warmed my heart to see an amity between the two I had never noticed before.

As our own commotions started to settle Eucarion and I turned to notice Lady Frivolity finishing a ritual of her own. What started as a shooting star fell violently to the ground to expose itself as a pseudo dragon she has named Foom. It is ridiculously intelligent for an “animal” as it speaks common and has quite a sharp wit.

We decided after a calm nights’ rest, with Xiao back at my side and plenty of rations there was no reason not to join the party on its way to Shan Dao. The 4 days to the “Haunted” Temple went by in a flash and we stopped to chat with The Captain on our way in. He tells us there were less and less kobolds moving through the temple and more and more Hungry Dead coming up. It seems killing Lord Xun may have upset the balance of nature within Shan Dao but we would not have any idea until we made it down there. We moved down the stairs with stealth despite a small hiccup when Xiao started to panic in the dark not wanting to go any further.

Rather than proceed into Silent Raccoon Territory that we had in our last two trips we veered off into the Bamboo Spider’s prefecture. Which seemed to be a red lantern district of sorts. Elura was deadset on a fact finding mission and insisted we find a tavern for her to perform in. I felt entirely too uncomfortable with this idea because while she and Frivolity were masters of disguise the rest of us were not. All of us but Elura, Frivolity and Adi stayed outside watching from the window as Elura attempted to con the mass of Kobolds in the tavern. There was some failed attempt at bringing Adi in with her as a “servant” which resulted in these black scaled kobolds attempting to barter for him as…. entertainment? The black scaled ones are so much more aware and dare I say smarter than the ones we have encountered at the surface.

After Elura convinces these black scaled Kobolds to let perform they were so impressed they let her stay the night at the room above the tavern which we promptly all snuck into from the back door. Squashing seven of us plus a panda and a dog into one room was not a pleasant evening. Not that I could sleep even if I tried. I huddled closer into Eucarion’s lap when I heard the Kobolds though floorboards talking about their favorite victims being halflings. Throughout the evening we learned about the “Squid Princes” being the overseeing class in this city which explains the number of them we’ve encountered along the way.

Breakfast was marred with Oranssi pissing and moaning about Elura’s actions being considered enslavement rather than basic deception. He thinks that our attempts to pit the kobolds against each other will start a war. Well, to his credit, that is the point. Is it not?

We back tracked into the Silent Raccoon territory to try another tavern and get more information. Elura’s show almost failed but she saved it at the last moment gaining us a place to rest in an abandoned dressing room. In my anxiety I missed the plotting Elura navigated starting the rustle between the two territories. Something about a library? We snuck out behind them as the Kobolds left in a scrabble of energy. We tried to follow them as quietly and quickly as we could but exhaustion hit us hard. I felt dizzy and drained and in that moment I lost concentration on my dark vision spell. Elura and I were near blind in this subterranean hell but Frivolity’s pet Foom was tasked with being our eyes. Usually I allow Eucarion to be my guide in the dark but he was distant and cold in his concentration to move through this exhaustion that plagued us all. Our blind stumbling slowed us terribly and we were losing the trail of the Kobolds we were following.

With some combined ingenuity there was a miraculous set of contraptions set up. Two floating discs one holding me and Xiao and one Holding Oranssi, Eucarion and Charka, each being pulled by Frivolity’s Spectral Horse, Luminestra, holding Albion and Adi and a gryphon being flown by Frivolity and Elura. While this allowed us to move faster we lost our stealth and were very quickly ambushed by 6 Hook Horrors. Several of us were hit before we could escape. Thank goodness we were as fast as we were on these makeshift wagons?

Alarms sound as we round the next block of buildings and the streets flood with Kobolds, Troglodytes and Mind Flayers. Adi was able to pull Luminestra, Albion, Eucarion, Oranssi and Charka out of the fight but our team of myself, Xiao, Frivolity and Elura were trapped by a magic darkness that we could not escape past. Though I could not see Eucarion I knew I could at least reach out to Charka who let me know though they were safe he was worried about us. After myself and the remaining team was hit with a volley of poison crossbow bolts we were saved by an arrow shot by undoubtedly my one and only blessed with the light of the sun to illuminate our exit path. Shouted death threats followed our escape as the streets continued to flood with all manner of monstrosities. Their respective drivers pulled both mounts skyward and we were as safe as we could be in this pit of darkness. Once we spotted our goal, the Library, we dove down and landed on the roof. The scene we came upon was grizzly beyond words. The entire library was littered with corpses of Kobolds and Mind Flayers.

Adi sent us into the library with a list of books he was looking for. I knew we had almost no time so we were running through this library grabbing anything and everything that looked vaguely useful piling it into a bedroll in the center of the library. The alarm Elura set at the entrance of the library tripped and we froze for the briefest fraction of a second to listen to the voices entering. It was a female. It wasn’t Blood Spatter Snow Bitch but someone else who sounded equally evil.

The Keys wisked us away books in hand without letting us have a glance of who belonged to that voice. The moment we were home in the fields outside of the gate Adi began to congratulate us on a job well done. I felt particularly proud of myself as I was able to find one of the specific books Adi was searching for but Oranssi was fuming and attemted to silence Adi with magical means. Which turned into an all-out shouting match that I will admit I should not have participated in but I could not help but defend Adi’s position. We made it out alive with a wealth of knowledge! We should have been celebrating.

Eucarion and I split only briefly so I could return Dusty to the Manor’s stable house, bathe and fetch some personal effects from my room but I’ve been here at the cottage for days now, maybe a week. I’ve lost track. I can only hope that Lady Frivolity will not take punitive measures against me for not fulfilling my contracted duties in my absence. I can’t bear to part with him. Even when he leaves <s>our</s> his bedroom to work while I sleep I can still feel him nearby in his workshop. I wonder in what way I could convince Lady Frivolity to break my contract early so I could live here with him…Or if he would even let me…..

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Odiri's Journal Pt. 13
Adventure 21 - Names of Death

CW: Angsty, Lovey Dovey Grossness, Potty Mouth

 

I don’t even know how to start this entry. So much has happened in such a short amount of time. After not getting a response to my last letter to Eucarion I started to worry. I knew the company was home after seeing the others around town but he had yet to see him. When we were called to the Rose Shell at Mister Sempur’s request I was hoping he would be there too and he was. He was a mess. Drunker than I had ever seen him, completely disheveled and slurring. In attempts to find out why he was so intoxicated he just brushed me off in favor of ordering another pitcher of icewine. Which I promptly stole from him because I was not about to deal with his drunken ass under my own sobriety. Sempur had asked us together to discuss the magic items in the case but I will admit I was very distracted by the heated conversation Eucarion was having Syd. I had assumed that was the reason he ignored me since he had been home. I would have guessed he would leave me for Elura over Syd any day.  I was beyond livid and threw the cloak he gave to me off my shoulders in protest. Childish, I know. I could not have been more wrong about his alcohol fueled state, but I would not know why until much later.

He promised me we would talk and that it would just take time. I may have snapped back something along the lines “You have nothing but time.” I try to pretend that I am okay with my own inevitable mortality in comparison to his but truth be told I am not. I know I will be old and grey in a blink of his time. I cannot bear him children because the laws of nature would not allow it. I cannot marry him as he already has married. I will never be his “true love” like I have read in so many tales, as Allaya will always be his true love. But, we have a chance to be at least      happy? There is chance for a happy ending for us. If we can survive the Yomi Princes, we can have our “happily ever after”. I imagine ourselves in a small cottage away from it all, enjoying the quiet times of waking up next to him every day and watching the sunset from a porch we built with our own two hands.

I digress. It is foolish of me to think he will still want me at his side when I am withered and weak so I should concentrate on the now.

 

 

 

We went directly to Shan Dao. Eucarion in his constant state of drunkenness ignored me entirely. It was fine by me as at the time I still thought he was infatuated over Syd. (I should apologize) I spent my traveling nights smoking with Naligor and doing a fair amount of my own drinking, bitter over the whole situation. I could have had the Manor to myself with Frivolity out on this mission with us but no, I was trapped in Adi’s 10-foot protective bubble with, my passive aggressive beau, his thieving harlot, and a slew of other psychotic ride-alongs. We traveled more stealthily than our last visit landing us in the Vigilant Tiger District camped out on the top of an abandoned building. We rested. I say that loosely though. I felt like I had little to no rest this entire trip and it started to take a toll on my mood. I finally cornered Eucarion on 3rd watch and begged for answers to his behavior.

The rash little shit, Kodu, threatened to throw me off the building if I blew our cover as there had been patrols of nasties the whole night. That didn’t help my foul mood any and just made Eucarion’s words hurt even worse. After pushing repeatedly, he finally spits out that his son, Tannion, had come to Port Shore Blossom to give him news of Allaya’s death by murder. His tone was almost if it was my fault that she was dead. I didn’t know how to respond. So I didn’t. I just felt sick. He wanted space. I would give it to him in spades. Elura was a surprising comfort that night as she held me like my mother used to. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. The next morning was spent with awkward bickering amongst Eucarion, Oranssi and Naligor. I took that time to forego breakfast for yet another pipe and a filled flask.

We made it back to the mural in only a few hours without hesitation I pushed my tile into its place. I was in a recklessly angry place I wasn’t thinking about the groups safely I just wanted to sit my arrow between Lord Xun’s eyes and go home. The palace was stunning in comparison to the grime of the city and abuzz with activity. We were able to slip through the shadows to the throne room of Lord Xun. The massive staircase to the room made me falter. My spell only let me see 60 feet in the dark so I had to move into the room as quickly as I could. Xiao couldn’t keep up but assumed he could hold his own. When we were almost all into the room when I could finally see him. I used Lord Xun’s green fire eyes as my target as I let off my first shot. I couldn’t be bothered by the hungry dead surrounding him I only wanted to kill this Yomi Prince. I let my cavalier aggression get the best of me and it cost me dearly.

Xiao is dead. I was not there to protect him. Lord Xun let loose a fireball that engulfed nearly the whole room. I was able to shield myself enough to survive. Barely. But Xiao did not. One moment he was there the next he was a pile of ash, bone and the silver claw tips I had just commissioned for him. I was undone. A scream came from my breast that I almost didn’t recognize as my own voice. I had no time to wallow in my anguish as a portcullis behind us slammed down and promptly lit on fire. My only focus was to kill everything that got in between me and my way home.

Elura used a startling but clever tactic of disguising herself as Lady Shen to distract Lord Xun as we attacked. Adi created a bizarre bubble of water that trapped a few of the hungry dead but honestly was just more of a hassle for me to get around to my target. Out of all the nastiness and hate of that day there was one positive thing. Frivolity finally exposed her true form the to the rest of the group. It will be nice to finally stop having to stumble over my words for her. She fought amazingly with her newfound powers from Sidreal.

As much as I tried to ignore the Hungry Dead for my true prey I was wildly disconcerted with the statement “Master, His Lordship is under attack!” If Xun was not their master who was? We all continued to fight our hardest in between Elura’s dramatic reactions to Lord Xun. When she finally pretended to kill herself with illusion magic he was distracted just enough for Frivolity to sweep in with a blow of pure star fire blessed by Sidreal. Xun was down, but as I am told he is not done with. He has the ability to return until true retribution. At the time I didn’t give a fuck. I gathered what little of my faithful companion’s remains I could in my arms as the keys started to glow.

When we made it back to the gate Eucarion made some snide comment about “my loss” I can only imagine how much he was hurting. I’m sure my “pet” was nothing to him. I spent the next 2 days in a fog of pipeweed and half of Frivolity’s wine cellar. I was sure Eucarion was going to leave to go back and take care of Tannion and his household with his wife dead. I was just preparing for the inevitable. I was not prepared for the stumbling drunk mess throwing pebbles at my window. I was in no situation to judge. My room looked like it had hosted a dwarven bridal shower and I hadn’t bathed since before we left to Shan Dao and I was wearing nothing but the shirt he left in my bed the last time he stayed the night. Despite my desire to go back to blissful numbness I let that ass up here. We fought. We made up. He now knows about Garrick. I almost wish that cockbite of a halfling would dare show his face in Port Shore Blossom. If they all knew what he did. Why I am here. He would be smart to stay away.

In the quiet moments of twilight, we accepted each other. Finally. For what were are, not what we were. We would have never been each other’s first loves but I offered him the chance to be my last. He took that to heart and professed a deep meaningful love to me. We will see what the years bring. For now, there is a soft happiness that cannot be budged even with the worst of tragedy. He sleeps now as I write this. True sleep. I know elves don’t need it, but my lovable ass is snoring next to me in a bed that will forever feel empty without him.

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Letters from Odiri Pt. 12
Adventure 19 - Into the Dark

Eucarion my love,

I was told by Madam Saru that you had left the day before we came home so I suppose this letter will be waiting for you when you get home. 

I met my first Celestial. Boy that was a moment. They came to the Manor seeking out Frivolity. <s>She</s> He seemed not nearly as impressed as I was and was acting particularly standoffish to such a rare visit. The Celestial introduced themselves as “The Evening Star” and I lost all composure. They were an absolutely awe inspiring vision of white hair against black robes and unusual multi-color eyes like sun hitting a crystal. I kept tripping over my words and could not help but fidget. They were here on behalf of Sidreal as Sidreal and Ptah had come to some understanding and offered Frivolity the option between two scrolls. One was the option to become partially divine to fight in the name of Sidreal or the map and key to “The Tower of Devils”. I wish I was slicker to have snagged the map as Frivolity accepted the first scroll but I thought better of it to try and steal from the proxy of a Goddess.

As I mentioned in my last letter, we were summoned by Adi to make one last push to clear out the Haunted Temple as they were pretty sure they had located the entrance to Shan Dao. The charter had apparently done some serious work clearing out the temple without me so we were able to sweep in rather quickly. I was introduced to a Dwarven Ghost that helps protect the temple that was just charmingly referred to at this point as “Captain” It is a general goal of ours at this point to completely purify and protect the temple to release his spirit to the beyond.

As we moved through the temple I realized I had been traveling with a pack of weaklings. With the assistance of a battering ram conjured by Adi I was the only one able to break down the doors that blocked our path. Your “half pint” was the strongest one in the party. I thought you’d be proud!

We encountered a Flame Skull in one room and 4 ghouls in another neither of which were a challenge to bring down. The last room rewarded us handsomely with a surprising cache of magical items including a bow I think you would like.

We were greeted by an ominous dark stairwell that we knew was the entrance to the Kobold city of Shan Dao. While we traveled the stairs Frivolity lit the torches for us but when we reached the city itself. I was near blind. It was so dark. But an unsettling dark. No sun. No moon. No stars. The air was clammy like the deepest cave but also like a cave there was a unique simultaneous sense of vastness and claustrophobia. I instinctually reached out for your hand in the dark forgetting you were not with us. Thank the sea it was dark enough that the party didn’t see me blush at that embarrassing moment. I used a spell I had been practicing to grant myself temporary vision in the dark and I was slightly more at ease.

The stairs let out in what looked to be the temple district. The buildings were an odd mix of entirely demolished and in perfect standing but all older than they should be as they were very obviously of Dwarven make in their architecture. A sign carved in Dwarven marked this as the “Silent Raccoon” district. So it seems the kobolds had invaded this city and built their clans from predistinguished districts long since forgotten.

As we explored we ran into more trouble than we knew what to do with. I was faced with my first Mind Flayer. Adi tells me these beasts are beyond formidable with their psychic magicks. Xiao was hit with some sort of spell that left him stunned and useless but I brought that tentacle face heathen down with a solid shot from my pistol.

The next district we passed into after that skirmish was the “Vigilant Tigers” A kobold clan I had yet to know but the heraldry was one that I had noted from the scratching in the trees surrounding the temple. From inspecting the buildings around us, we could tell this was some sort of administration district. We were only a few hours into our travel inward with the inner palace in sight when we were ambushed by 6 gricks. Nasty looking, but pretty easy targets.

Once we finally got past them we came upon the most stunning mosaic mural. It was a massive battle of all creatures imaginable. I recognized it from one of Adi’s books. What stood out to me was a square tile missing in the robe of Lady Hana. What a coincidence that this fucking town keeps bringing me back to her. The missing tile was the very same one that Kodu won at the festival that the little girl gifted me. As I lifted it to the slot Adi’s familiar accidentally tripped some alarm. In moments the surrounding area was being flooded with every nasty that calls the dark “home”. Frivolity set off an explosion that covered our escape via jade key.

The only way I could have been happier to be home was if I was greeted by your handsome face. I hope this letter finds you sooner rather than later in high spirits as I miss you dearly and my bed is so much colder without you in it, even on these sweltering summer nights.

Love Always,

Odiri

PS – I left the key to the back door in its normal hiding place. Let yourself up.

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Log I : Day 21
Eucarion's Journal

It's been a moment since I last wrote something here. Mostly because I've been far too gone to hold a quill, but… 

This begins eleven? twelve days ago? I was roused from my terrible state by a note passed along from Semper, that there was to be a meeting of the company to discuss the charter. Perhaps it was some ancient instinct of duty that dragged me from my bodily heap to attend, because I was certainly in no state to have been there. I could really only make out about half the conversation between Semper's quick tongue and Adi's endless semantics. The conversation was circle-shaped. That, and Syd distracted me from it. A force of habit, she had understood much of my conversation with Tannion a few nights before from reading our lips. She swore her secrecy, and I must trust her. I suppose thieves' honor is honor none the less. I recall vaguely then  quitting the table to go to the bar, after Kodu had offered me water and Odiri had taken my 3rd (4th?) jug of wine from me. It was a little more than two weeks since I had last seen her, and I sorely wish now that that had not been Odiri's first sight of me in all that time. I could not have possibly looked put together based on the party's attitudes towards me… She questioned if I was upset with her, but my poor explanation only made things worse. She took off the cloak I had gifted her. (Naturally, I ruin everything I put my hands to).

Only when discussions of charter politics— something about the use of the items in the glass case, God knows— had ceased did I come back to the table. Naligor, spiteful fuck, put into my sensitive ears an illusion of blaring horns. In hindsight, it was probably vengeance for my rudeness to Odiri. Certainly didn't think of that then. Tales were exchanged of what had been discovered in Shandao, and it was decided that the collected party would venture there. Oranssi seemed particularly upset by the notion of returning there, but conceded to the necessity of dispensing with Lord Zun.

Across six long days of travel from the gate to the 1,000 Sages Temple, Odiri hardly spoke a word to me. It stung, but in my addled mind, the thought of speaking, and speaking the truth especially, to her burned worse. What possible right in the eyes of the gods did I have to her? Even by the most generous of standards, I should have been— and still should be— in deep in mourning. 

Inside the dark temple, the entrance to Shandao loomed before us. A stone staircase, 20 ft down into torchlit darkness, the bottom too far below to be seen. Once we entered, it would be several days of travel in underground night before we reached our goal deep within the city. No fires, no conversation, lest we wanted to give away our position. Shandao was a vast metropolis, unlike anything I had seen before. It was as though a perfectly usual dwarven construction had been torn through the earth and deposited in such a dreadful place. Some buildings stood whole. Others, in ruin, from both the ancient damages of war and lifetimes of use. No attempts at repair were visible anywhere, the residents seeming to have simply moved on to a new building and left the old one to rot. Most unsettlingly, there was no sky above us, only a vague ceiling of dirt. No stars for assurance or guidance. The world felt inverted. 

On the first day, we traveled two hours due south through the Silent Raccoon district, then through Vigilant Tiger territory. We sheltered ourselves for the night in a ruined building, good cover and an even better vantage point. When my turn for watch came, as I suspected she might, Odiri accosted me with questions. After several frustrating interruptions from Kodu and Frivolity, I burst from frustration, curtly spilling the news Tannion had brought of Allaya and hissing at Odiri that I needed space. No sooner had the words left my mouth than I regretted them. The thought could not possibly have occurred to her, and my informing her was so sudden, so harsh. The hurt look in her eyes, the shock! She retreated to bed, but I could tell from the irregular rise and fall of her small chest that she did not sleep. God, I was a fool to spurn her. In the "morning", a relative concept in the constant night, Oranssi and Naligor questioned what discussion had occurred on watch, both more than a little upset with me. Odiri smoked again with Naligor, and I again said nothing to her. 

Another 3 hours of travel brought us to a wall, tall and decorated in an elaborate mural of a great battle, elves, dwarves, and humans slaying kobolds and defeating the forces of evil. Perhaps it was something from the First Kingdom? That would certainly match the ages of some of the buildings if it were. One tile was noticeably absent, which Odiri quickly produced and placed into its rightful place. The wall became a gate, opening wide for our intrepid party to enter and face the dangers inside.

Navigating the splendid palace, we were unsurprised to find it meticulously upkept. In the distance, music of some sort. Drums. Footsteps. The place buzzed with activity. Taking care to avoid any encounters, we made our way towards the seat of Thousand Peonies. 60 ft of upward stairs later, we arrived in the vast audience chamber, dotted with columns and corridors leading out of it on one side. Even at a distance, Odiri's fear and distress was evident to me. Though I had been the one to ask for space, I moved closer. I could not help but want to protect her. 

At the top of the raised dias at the opposite end of the chamber, Lord Zun himself, eyes alight ferociously with ghostly goblin fire, bearing two swords. Surrounding him, four hungry dead, pale of skin, with red eyes and lips. Zun spoke, voice echoing through the chamber. "How dare you enter my realm without a proper invitation?" Suddenly, the portcullis behind us slammed shut and lit on fire, trapping us in the chamber. Zun attacked, casting a ball of fire from his hand into our party. While we all survived, Odiri's poor beast was felled. In a burst of ash, Xiao was no more for this world. Only bones remained of him. She cried out in a mournful, soul-shaking wail. I know well the agonizing sound of loss. Without missing a beat, she entered the fray, vicious and seeking vengeance. Strong girl.

Adi cast a sphere of water on the dias, Naligor transforming into a squid to attack Zun and the hungry dead from inside it. Elura disguised herself as Lady Shen, fooling Zun with the illusion of his lover. I do not know if she intended to draw attention away, but the opposite occurred. Lord Zun broke apart the sphere of water, calling out to his minions to leave her alone and focus their killing intent on the rest of us. At that moment, Frivolity transformed in a flash of blinding light, suddenly taking on golden wings, hair turning to feathers, his horns gone. Her? Not that there was an issue with that. I just wasn't aware that tieflings had the same sort of sex shifting abilities that elves do. The shape was undoubtedly female, but the heat of battle was no time to be questioning it.

The madness continued as Oranssi cast daylight onto his cape, stunning the hungry dead with it as he stepped closer. Frivolity struck at Zun with her sword as Odiri and I assailed with our arrows. In a burst of necrotic energy, Lord Zun attacked Kodu, Oranssi, and Odiri down the line, though they all miraculously remained standing. Kodu, close enough and bold enough, engaged Zun in hand combat. To have gone toe to toe with the sworn sword of the emperor is something few have known and fewer still have survived. Syd took the opportunity to slay one of the hungry dead, while another was slain by Oranssi's daylight. The two remaining ones ran into the adjacent corridors, calling to their master for aid. Was Lord Zun not their master? 

In Zun's distraction, Elura called to him as Lady Shen. "My love, whatever happened to you?" It knocked him prone. Hearing the concerned voice of his old lover must have been enough to shake him. … I cannot help but sympathize with the notion … Elura made a motion as though she had stabbed herself to death, and fell to the floor, giving Frivolity a chance to swoop in. She cast a great column of holy light, slamming it into Lord Zun and reducing his form to ashes. He is yet to be defeated, we learned. In his state as a Death Knight, the possibility of his resurrection stands so long as his earthly business remains unresolved. Only redemption will put his soul to rest. But of what he must be redeemed, we do not know.

We quickly gathered up a fantastic cache of loot as our keys began to glow. A pop of light, and we stood at the gates of Shore Blossom as always. I noticed that Odiri had scooped up Xiao's remains, bearing them in her hands along with her beast's silvered claw tips. She just looked so absolutely destroyed… I tried to speak to her, give my condolences to her loss, but I fear she may have taken my words for sarcasm, considering she had only just the night before found out about my own terrible loss. She went away without a word to me, moving alone and ahead of the group. The entire trek back to town, I cursed myself for having been so cold. Drink. Drink would take the pain away.

I spent two more days in absolute state of mess. I'm no longer allowed at The Drowned Fish, nor will I ever be. If it weren't for the embarrassment of the cause, I think I'd be rather impressed with myself for managing to get barred. Another day, another round cut off at the Rose Shell, and I felt ready to face Odiri. She was none too happy to see me, of course. She chucked a bottle out the window at me when I called for her. But she let me inside, bless her forgiving spirit, and allowed me explain myself. Her state was little better than my own. Not an inch of floor remained visible beneath a thick layer of empty bottles, and the stench of pipeweed clogged up the air in the room. God, I did not mean for such a thing. And I certainly hadn't meant to hurt her in that moment of her open forgiveness either, even if it did happen terrible, drunken, passionate chaos… I'd sooner cut my hands than lay them on her in violence. She wept, an old wound opened, and I held her just as she'd held me before, the favor returned in love. Then, a miraculous thing. A blessed, joyous, miraculous thing! She pledged herself to me, what life she has to give me, and all of it. And I swore mine to her, my true feelings of love come pouring out of me. If there were a way that I could spend the rest of my eternity with her, I would. We have suffered enough, I think. 

All was well and good, until we were awoken the next morning by the most horrible sounds I think I have ever heard, emanating from the  master suite below us—and this is in consideration of my own youthful exploits of regularly window-breaking intercourse. Sweet mother, I had not seen sobriety for twelve days and nights. Screaming agony paralyzed me the better part of that morning…. I think I shall make purchase of a home. Far, far, faaaaar away from Frivolity's bull-dick ornamented playground of horrors. 

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Odiri's Journal Pt. 11
Adventure 17 - Relocation Efforts

*Slightly more composed script than her last entry*

We rescued Third One! I get ahead of myself even in writing. Our adventure started in the Rose Shell, like most do. Elura in her own flirtatious ways asked of Eucarion and I lost my temper and may or may not have threatened her. I know he is not entirely mine to claim but he and I have been through so much together already I cannot help but be possessive. She, to my surprise, admitted very thoroughly that she is not interested in him at all and her flirting in purely just in her nature rather with directed intention. After she swore to me that she was speaking truth we found peace with each other. In an interesting turn of events we discovered that she also has a map of sorts that extends west of my own map giving us a fuller picture. There are several places of interest that we definitely need to explore.

While Elura and I were pouring over each other’s maps Eucarion’s familiar warmth came up behind me to wordlessly deposit a neatly wrapped package tied with twine. I opened it after he sat down at the carved table to discover the most stunning rabbit fur cloak. It was perfectly my size and in shades blue grey and black. The colors weren’t my own but the grey reminded me of his eyes and of course it was made for me so I couldn’t help but be ecstatic.

We were encouraged by a note left by Mr. Sempur to join him at the wall for an adventure which we ultimately decided was to purify the Pond of Echos then relocate Third One the frog.  Ten miles into Roth’s Road we cut across to the northeast to have a more direct path to the pond. Only an hour into our new path we discovered a Gaea shrine similar to the one at the Waystation but smaller. Once Oranssi cleansed the shrine we all seemed to experience the same feeling of relief. Like a weight we did not know we were holding was lifted.

Our break at this shrine was interrupted but explosions of acrid smoke as we were ambushed by five weretigers. We all jolted into action but oddly everyone was being attacked EXCEPT Naligor. So it was a surprise when we saw one weretiger bolt through the group to grab Naligor. We noticed him pull a scroll out and try to read it. Adi identified the scroll as a spell scroll for teleportation. They were attempting to kidnap Naligor! Elura came to the rescue by burning the scroll before the weretiger could finish. With their plan foiled they retreated in the same manor they arrived.

Naligor does not know why they would target him. The party seems wary of him but I know that Naligor is telling the truth. He has no reason to lie.

We made it to the pond by evening that day and camped for the night with no interruption. The next morning, we discussed our plan to deal with the pond over breakfast. Eucarion and I volunteered to scout the perimeter of the pond to see if we could get a better sense of what we were dealing with. Admittedly we may have also volunteered to get some privacy away from the group for a little. Though the splinters were an unfortunate side effect our scouting trip was a success. We were able to discover much about the pond. It was about a quarter mile round and was entirely devoid of beasts which was unnerving. I climbed an especially sturdy tree on the far side of the pond and was able to see a large structure in the bottom of the pond. Boy, I wish I was prepared for what we eventually found down there.

When we returned to the group they had agreed that the best course of action was to approach this situation peacefully as the water weirds we have discovered are apparently not always evil. I’ve never experienced elemental creatures quite like what the group was describing but when Sempur called one from the depths to speak to it I was delightfully surprised with the intelligence it showed scribing into the wet sand with its watery tentacle in a language I could not understand.  Through Adi and Sempur’s translations we were able to determine that the structure at the bottom of the pond was the home of Thousand Rains, a Storm Giant. One can imagine that giants make me a little nervous. Before I realize it Sempur and Adi has convinced the bizarrely pleasant water weird to grant us audience with this giant. I was sorely tempted to stay behind and watch the cart but I knew I would catch shit for missing the “fun”

Five more water weirds surfaced behind the sweet one and in an awe inspiring act they split the water of the pond allowing us to walk on the solid ground. I was very not okay with being surrounded by so much water. Fun Fact: I can’t fucking swim. It towered above us the further we walked into the pond but I was focusing my vision on the center of Eucarion’s back to keep my panic at bay. The doors were easily 40 feet tall furthering my anxiety. Once we were inside and the doors closed the air was surprisingly crisp and clean for being essentially a closed bubble. The palace? was lavishly decorated in murals of freshwater fish and shells and massive depictions of Gods and Goddesses.

We came upon this giant at the end of a long lavish receiving hall. He was perched on a throne and his voice was booming. Elura and Sempur tackled the negotiations while I cowered near the back of the group. Eucarion came to my rescue when he slid his hand into mine. Fear is an interesting thing. My memory feels like the shapeless roar of storm waves. I remember no words that were said just the vibrating fear that occasionally peaked when Eucarion, in his own anxiety, would squeeze my hand.

I was shaken from my panicked stupor by the loud clatter of large I Ching coins crashing to the ground as Thousand Rains declared two prophecies. One referenced trusting Zui the gnome to help us defeat the Yomi Princes and preparing for further trouble from (((FINISH THIS SHIT LATER)))

Naligor seemed under some tension and wolfed out on us about to lunge at the giant when I stepped in front of him while the rest of the party apologized quickly for his rash actions. Once the giant pardoned us Naligor thought it clever to pick me up by the back of my armor in his jaws like a mother wolf and a its errant pup. No matter how much I kicked and swung at him he would not release me. Eucarion was oddly distant as our entire party quietly walked back through again parted waters to the shore’s edge. He very aggressively snatched me out of Naligor’s jaws when we reached the surface and set me on the ground but went back to being distant. I think Eucarion assumes there is something on between Naligor and I. He couldn’t be more wrong. Naligor is so much like Orryn. It’s like the opportunity to have my brother back. I am not interested in him in the least.

Before we ever made it to the Kami Mines we discovered a slick black unnatural wolf stalking us using Adi’s familiar. Through a group effort the wolf was trapped and transformed back into its human form and interrogated under Oranssi’s truth spell. This is when we found out about ((NALIGORS DAD)). I knew this Yomi Prince was Naligor’s father and I watch as Naligor became angrier and angrier. I knew his story I knew why he raged. When all useful information was obtained from the cur Naligor took the honor of slitting the monster’s throat.

After the body was disposed of ritualistically we sat soberly around the camp fire as Naligor explained his past. (pg. 29-32) Watching people’s looks of horror and pity was not easy but the hardest of all was watching Eucarion realize his attitude towards Naligor was completely misplaced. After I gave my brother, Naligor, a hug for his strength in telling his tale to the group Eucarion pledged his sword to Naligor. Naligor’s story seem to strike a deep painful chord in my love so I stayed up through his watch and my own to keep him company.  Despite being very tired the next morning I trudged on with the rest of them to the mines to rescue our dear frog friend. The familiar clearing looked like it had been recently camped in but to our knowledge no one in the charter had come through this way since the last time Eucarion, Naligor, Oranssi and I visited it.

I picked a flower in this field that held so many memories and gifted it to Eucarion. He accepted it with a smile that makes my heart flutter even now. The retrieval of Third One was wildly successful as Naligor shrunk him down to the tiniest peeper and he was scooped up into Elura’s floating disc along with what little water he sat in. Upon delivery, the sweet water weird – I’ve named it Sweetums and gifted it a flower crown that now floats vaguely unsettlingly around inside it – guided third one out onto the lake on a lily pad before Naligor returned him to his natural size. I hope to visit him soon to see if the storm giant is treating him well.

Lastly left in Elura’s disc was a fine bracelet intricately inscribed with dwarven and elvish. After some translation it looks like it is directions to some theater. Another adventure for another day.

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Log I : Day 20
Eucarion's Journal

(In sloppy handwriting).

I am surprised that I am sober enough to write this. But I suppose I should keep some semblance of habit up. Besides, I've been cut off at the Rose Shell. Something's got to occupy my time til the barmen change shifts….

Discussion of adventure began when those of us who had stayed in town gathered up at the Rose Shell for a round of drinks. This was my first time meeting Syd. I have little respect for thieves as a rule, but I've been able to put that aside for her sake. She's rather likeable, and her education of Kodu in the mystic ways of figurative language have eased my existence innumerably (though she herself did not know that the word for a dragon is, well, "dragon"). She absolutely has my respect, especially after I saw what she could do in battle. Plus, Charka likes her. All women are welcome to the party, I suppose. 

The thought of trying to catch up to our friends in Shandao was entertained a moment, but they were at least 6 days' journey ahead of us. They'd be home by the time we got out there. Saru helpfully chimed that we had yet to inspect the fortress at the end of the Old Coast Road. A splendid idea, but this would be a far longer journey than I had intended to take. A quick romp beyond the wall for some kobold slaughtering would have suited me fine. I hoped to be home before Odiri returned. (She worries). But, alas, Albion had his murder kilt on and that meant there'd be no stopping until we'd sufficiently ravaged our way through some monstrous foes. So, to the Old Coast Road we went. 

Instead of taking Roth's Road out, we headed through the town and farmlands—at a lighting pace thanks to Syd's city skills and my wild knowledge— down to the docks, where we boarded a dinghy that was apparently now charter property? As much as I think the sea is beautiful, I despise sailing on open water. The broad expanse with no means of escape is bizarrely claustrophobic. Watching Albion navigate was positively delightful, however, and definitely distracting enough that our three day journey passed quickly. We docked ashore each night to camp, feasting heartily on the fruits of the sea. I had never seen Kodu eat anything other than those goddamn apples, so seeing him devour fish was a bit of a shock to the system. A greater shock was his display of magic and his reveal of changed appearance. His ancient dragon blood had been awakened inside of him, producing scales and a fin of some sort across his head, hidden usually by his hat. That boy. He continues to impress me.

On our third day of travel, we reached the Old Coast Road, where we were greeted by a bronze dragon wyrmling. I thought at first we were in danger, but my newly acquired understanding of draconic speech and Kodu's delight quickly dispelled the notion. The dragon, Laughing Surf, was an old friend of his. Soveliss and I hung back, I relaying the conversation to him. They were planning some sort of a playdate, from what I understood of it? In any case, the Old Coast Road was bronze dragon territory. Laughing Surf would aid us and scout ahead for danger as we traveled. Because of this, we cleared a whopping 155 miles in two days, all without incident.

Arriving at the old fort, we kept close together, seeking a safe way inside. According to Syd, the place was crawling with undead. The fort itself was a single story of stone, positioned strategically atop a grassy hill, a courtyard. Very typical stuff, with the exception of the unmanned murderholes and battlements. I've spent too much of my life in forts to not know such intimacies, I think.

Entering, Syd illuminated us with her Sunblade. What a thing! As perfect as its name, like a blade of captured sunlight slashing through darkness. Stunning, really. We were immediately met with an uncomfortable heat, the source of which was quickly discovered. A curse had been cast over the building with the effect that all unwelcome intruders would be subjected to great heat so long as they remained in the building. Oh, joy. We would have to work quickly, or suffer. 

The first room we entered— ironically, while trying to avoid the undead hordes — surprised us with a cloaked man at an altar of evil, leading in congregation fourteen grizzled warriors. After a shitshow of a fight, Soveliss ended it all with a display of heinous power, burning them all to a crisp. "You chose the wrong god," he cried, "because when I'm god, everyone dies". He cast a spell of cooling on that room, giving us a place to recover. Syd had quite nearly died in the swarm. 

We proceeded through, the group choosing to follow Soveliss' suggestion to go towards where all the undead were concentration. Yeah, great, sure, listen to the charlatan instead of the military strategist. I'm not bitter. Of course, we were immediately assaulted by wights and zombies. Another clusterfuck of a fight, but we managed fine. In the next room, four statues of gods I'd never seen before. Kodu seemed particularly upset by them, which Soveliss explained was related to some masks they had found earlier. There seemed to be places on the statues to place the masks, but we did not push our luck.

Next we came to a locked door. Kodu gave it a shot with no luck, but Syd and her new magic gloves got it easily. Beyond it, two cambions in an uncharacteristically well-furnished room. I'd never seen one in the flesh before, and these were utterly ethereal. Charcoal black skin, clothed in ink black robes, striking red eyes. Soveliss, against our collective advice and in pursuit of personal fulfillment, disguised himself as one of them. The ruse worked entirely, and he spoke with them at length. A pit fiend was in charge of the fortress, which their forces had taken over as a base of operations. Two spies had been planted into Shore Blossom with the intention of creating dissent within the city, turning it against itself as a means of destroying it. Extracting all he could with the use of the disguise, Soveliss lit them up and we all sprang into action. Syd killed one while Albion subdued the other for further interrogation. Nothing useful save for the real names of the two spies— Mara and Tauref. 

We returned to the cool room for a rest and to discuss. There was absolutely no way the five of us were going to fight a pit fiend. That was suicide. We would return later, when there we more of us up for the challange. For this particular adventure, our task would be to clear out the other rooms and scrounge up some sort of treasure for our troubles.

The rest of the damned place was a bit of a haze. We went through room after room after room, getting lost in the maze of it. Was it bigger on the inside than the outside? It had to be. At one point while Soveliss tried to melt down a metal door, Kodu, Syd, and I all fell from heatstroke and had to take a night of recovery in the cool room, further slowing our journey. As though some cruel joke, we came across a room where some intrepid questers before us had tried to break the heat spell, leaving behind a scrawled message telling us what we already knew. I will say this: there was not nearly enough alcohol brought with us to genuinely ease the terrible times. 

In another room, we were assaulted by nine spectres, screaming at us the moment the door was open. Syd, Albion, Kodu, and I did the brunt of the damage, Kodu kicking them into oblivion as Albion slashed the living (rather, dead?) shit out of them. Fabulously done, even if I did almost nick Kodu with one of my attacks. For the second time that day. It was fine! I knew he could dodge!

In the last room our exhausted bodies could possibly handle, Syd's discovery of a moving stone in an alcove opened up to us a chest of fantastic wealth! In Republic coinage as well. The specific contents were a little disconcerting, as the quantity of platinum present would only really be found on a nobleman, or a senator. Ah, some ships had been moored in the sea below. Perhaps this hell-joint also served as a smugglers lair? Before we could think too heavily on it, our keys began to glow, and we were dispatched homeward. 

(CW: It gets sappy.) 

As we walked back thought the gates, Tim caught up with us, hasted to inform me that my son, Tannion, had come to town looking for me. My own son! Who I had not seen in 70 years! I'll admit I panicked. Really not my best moment. Tim was sent off, and I gathered myself as we all headed to the Rose Shell. My heart seized up in my chest the moment I saw him there. Though I had left the family, I did not love them any less. How could a father truly put his son, his own blood and progeny, out of his heart? God, he was the spitting image of me in my youth, though he had his mother's eyes… Without hesitation, he embraced me, thanking the heavens that I was alive. I was shocked. I had expected nothing short of complete hatred and loathing. But that he would still find love in his heart for his old man! The happiness was short lived, for he came bearing grave news.

In private, we spoke at length. Allaya. God, my wife… Two months ago, Tannion came home to find her dead. Murdered. Assassinated. Poisoned. He took the body everywhere he could, but there was no hope for resurrection— or cremation, for that matter. The body was too heavily tainted. He did attend to her last rites and saw her buried under her ancestral tree. Long may she rest there in peace. It took him a month to find the man who had done it, a hired assassin for the Head and Hearth. Religious cultists sworn to death. And secrecy. The contract was double blind and, try as he might, he could not find who had ordered the killing. Though the real culprit was unknown, the cause was obvious. My ferocious Allaya had risen to a place of prominence, machinating politically, all in effort to arrange my pardon and honorable discharge. She certainly had to have made some enemies along the way.

God, had I known what she had done for me! I would have returned home into her faithful arms the moment my mission was completed. There are not the words to describe the pain and regret. And to think, this entire time, I'd been banging away some charming halfling slut! While my wife lay dead! Not a sin against faith, sure, but a sin against decency. Had I returned home right way, if I count the time correctly, she would have already been dead. Yet, it is the fact that I chose to remain here. I don't know how I shall live with myself…. or how I shall live with Odiri…. This is all too much. Too much! 

(Some spills of wine have been dashed across the preceding page, blurring the ink. The following lines of text are written over the dried spots, clearly after some passage of time.)

We stayed up the whole evening, chatting away for old time's sake. Tannion caught me up on what he had been doing in all these years. He was completing the last leg of his magical training, splendidly I might add. Though the Crowsley House had little magical capacity in the blood, House Grey thrived on it. Another thing of his mother's he inherited. I knew he would do well if I sent him for schooling in it. That, and sending him away meant that he would not have to suffer the worst of the War. And here he was, ready to go out and make something honest of himself. I made him swear to me that he would never enter the military, not even as a magus. No man should go through what I had, and my son especially, brilliant boy he is, should be kept out of the wringer.

He asked if I would be coming home. He had, after all, taken that second month of time to find me. My letter had never made it. Tannion followed the paper trail of bureaucracy to get to me. I will admit, I considered it for a moment. I was, by all means, a free man. I could return, reclaim my right to the House, find some means of living, be with my son. But a happy future it could never be. Every thing that I have ever laid my hands upon has ended in disaster. My son has so much good going for him. I love him, dearly, and it because I love him that he deserves the chance that my shit work would undoubtedly rob him of. He asked if he should cover the paper trail. Smart boy. I told him to return with the news that I had died, so that there would be no question of his right as the sole master of House Crowsley. 

God, I was so ashamed. Tannion had blossomed into such a fine young man, and I was there for none of it. No guidance, no words of encouragement, no love or even acknowledgement. No son deserves such shoddy treatment from any of his blood, much less his own father. I was as sorry for it then as I am still sorry now, putting this to the page. Embarrassingly glassy in the eyes, I told him as much, and he offered back forgiveness. He wished only that I be part of his life. That I know his children, when he has them. I… I do not deserve such kindnesses. I am not a good man. It comforts me to know that my son is better, perhaps because he knew me so little… I amended what I'd said, and told him to write me when he could, addressed to River Hawk. That was Allaya's name for me…

I expect I will be too drunk these next few days to write.

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Story Time with Odiri Pt.10
Adventure 16 - A Wailing Tale

Odiri slips from her room in Ramshackle Manor to nearby kitchen following the smell of familiar cooking. A smile spreads on her face to find her dear friend Shei hard at work prepping the evening meal. Shei looks up from the dumplings she was folding and chuckles “I was wondering when you’d come scrounging around in here. I don’t know where you put all this food in that little frame of yours!” Odiri leans against a sideboard and crosses her arm casually. “A mystery not even my own mother knows the truth of.”

Shei shakes her head amused “So, what adventures have you been up to lately? I haven’t seen hide nor hair of you in what feels like weeks.” Odiri looks thoughtful for a moment then responds “Well, I suppose it has been nearly 2 weeks. We’ve gone out beyond the wall again. It all started when Mato asked me to the Shrine of Stars. You know how I feel about religion but, I felt it would be disrespectful to ignore the invitation. I was promptly locked into a room with my Eucarion, Naligor and much to my chagrin, Oranssi. Though it was probably less than a half an hour it felt like an eternity sitting in that room awkwardly waiting for Mato. Oranssi tried to offer me temple wine but I would have nothing to do with their godly spirits. I was content with my own flask. I was relieved when Mato finally arrived but the awkward tension of the room did not improve when he attempted to make some sort of peace between Oranssi and I. Mato very clearly stated the table was nothing but a table and initiated an apology between the two of us. If it weren’t for the look Eucarion shot me I probably would not have added my half of the apology. Not that I really meant the apology but I’ve spent enough of my life with gritted teeth behind a smile that this is nothing new. Beyond that little bit of a kerfuffle Mato actually got to the real reason he invited me to the temple to explain the fan I won during the festival had actually belonged to Lady Hana and not only was it her it was also magical. It could protect me from her banshee wail and assist me in detecting any magical items in her tomb. Finally, I knew we could travel back to her tomb and do what I could to release her spirit.”

Odiri moves comfortably around the kitchen in what she now considered home procuring a snack of dried fruits before continuing “Well we headed back to the Rose Shell to make plans with the rest of the charter for our expedition back to Lady Hana’s Tomb and to my dismay I was greeted with the sight of a gnome enjoying MY spot on Albion’s head! In a huff I went to sit at the Carved table only to get grumbled at for wearing ‘Another Man’s Colors’ by Eucarion.” With that Odiri rolls her eyes exaggeratedly “It’s a uniform! It’s a job! I feel like a soldier of all people would understand the point of a uniform.” Odiri pauses with a dawning look of realization regarding the implications as Shei looks over her shoulder accusatorily “Ohhh…well… I didn’t put that together… Anyways! The new gnome was not alone. There was a half-elf there as well. After much chatting and some manly showing off they both signed the charter. Hok’ee, the half-elf, seems to be affluent in some nature as his mother is the one who bought the bathhouse. Zui, the gnome, shocked us all with intimate knowledge of how to defeat each and every one of the Yomi Princes. While Zui was showing off he removed himself from Albion’s head returning my perch to me. Excellent well he did so because I had a perfect vantage to ‘accidentally’ drop my mug on Eucarion’s head when I caught him making eyes at Elura.” Shei interrupts briefly, “Not to be that person but, do you really have any right to the gaze of a married man?” Odiri was stunned into silence by someone who had, until these words, been very supportive of her relationship despite its adulterous nature.

Taking a deep breath and shaking away the thoughts Odiri snaps back with a halfhearted glare, “Did you want to hear this story or not?” It was Shei’s turn to roll her eyes and sigh. “Go on then!”

Odiri huffs indignantly and proceeds “We left the next morning with Frivolity’s newest additions, the cart horses False Indigo and Gryphon Bait and the most stunning Spectral Horse Frivolity has named Luminestra. I will admit I have visited False Indigo and Gryphon Bait in the stables but Luminestra still scares me a bit. They make me miss a sweet grey pony I left back home. Our travels went fast between Albion and I but the first night was an uncomfortable one. Eucarion had chosen a different watch shift than I and I thought he may still be slighted over my joining Frivolity’s employ. But then I noticed his watch ‘partner’, Elura of course. I was beside myself, but that’s what a flask and a high branch to sleep in was for.  I drank myself into such a deep sleep that night I missed most of the ambush of a pod of bullywug. Nasty things. Pray you never run afoul of them. It was Naligor’s lightning spell that nearly scared me out of my branch. Elura used a spell to make the two remaining bullywugs fall asleep. Once bound the entire party fought tooth an’ nail with eachother over what to do with the sleeping captives. I voted quick death as I would have put an arrow between both their eyes if I were on my own. I’ve seen what bullywug can do to the land. They are pests! It would be like setting a cat to the mice in the grain house. But apparently the rest of the group agreed to spare their lives after Oranssi delivered a stern warning.”

“As we continued on to Lady Hana’s Grove that half-elf Hok’ee was being rather flirtatious. If Eucarion wasn’t so enraptured by Elura’s gifts of a flower crown I would have flirted back with Hok’ee just to spite Eucarion but his attentions were not for me. I fell back to share a pipe with Naligor which has become a regular interlude on our travels. I dare not ask what beside tobacco is in that pipe I just know it leaves me carefree and calm. Sometimes a little too calm but those moments have been exclusive to the drawing room or on Naligor and I’s walks out in the farmlands, I wouldn’t want to be too altered on the trail. Especially not in front of Eucarion. He seems particularly put off by the habit. I don’t understand how an elf of all people would be so apprehensive about something so natural.” Shei turns back to Odiri so suddenly it startles her. “Are you REALLY so oblivious as to why you being further intoxicated than you normally are might worry him?”

Odiri snorts agitatedly “First you berate me on my ‘right’ to his gaze and now you are defending his ‘right’ to worry over me? I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately, but I am not going to deal with it today” Odiri haughtily storms off back to her room throwing the door closed behind her.

**** Hasty Scrawling in a battered journal ****

What a BITCH. I don’t know if Soveliss’s affections have been waning or if she is about to start her monthly but Shei was nothing but rude today. I was trying to tell her of my trip to free the spirit of Lady Hana. I’ll admit I was still mad at Eucarion for letting Elura flirt with him so openly, but the tomb needed to be dealt with. I tried to head the party with my fan in hand but Eucarion in some chivalrous attempt turn assholery kept me at the back.  I just really don’t understand how he flips back and forth between being loving and sweet to a righteous twat. We’ve gone through so much together when can we just be happy with each other. (angry spots of ink as if not sure how to continue)

We entered Lady Hana’s Tomb forced into a single file due to the slim hallways. After avoiding and disarming a trap we came across a small shrine to Lady Hana herself. Everyone left offerings. I included to the surprise of all my companions. While I may not be a religious person I do respect shrines of the deceased. Especially for Lady Hana. I was so inexplicably taken with her story and the circumstances of her death.  

Following the fan looking for Lady Hana we encountered 8 sets of armor animated by magic. Elura created a hazardous slide of grease on the ground which was nearly as frustrating as Adi’s fog. Watching Zui and Ho’kee fight was impressive. I feel confident about their addition to the Charter. Once we bested the animated armor we moved forward following the fan. It lead us through the most interesting room of glowing green spirals set into the floor it seems like the whole room was one giant Go game. The next hallway greeted us with an unsettling disembodied chanting which we realized was a spell to keep the banshee that was Lady Hana at bay in the room beyond it.

When we breached the room we were stunned by the trinkets and treasures spread about the room along with the 10 specters, 2 wights and Lady Hana’s Banshee itself. The fight was brutal. The Banshee’s wail affected Oranssi, Zui and sweet Charka and frightened Xiao so badly he was frozen in terror. But we prevailed and in a blinding flash of gleaming light that hideous form of the banshee was replaced by the spirit of Lady Hana. She was radiating with a golden energy as she thanked us for releasing her from her torment. I started to lose control over my own emotions. I am by no means comparing my past to the ages of anguish experienced by a banshee but I, in part, understand the anger and despair and desire to escape from a situation you are trapped in. I wept out of control. No wonder the group doesn’t take me seriously.

Despite my complicated feeling about being held by him Eucarion’s comforting advances were welcome. I wish I could tell Eucarion what upset me so, but Gerrick should not be his worry, he already has so much else on his mind.  What really surprised me is Elura’s kindness in my shameful display of emotional weakness. I don’t know what her angle is but I struggle to trust her. After finding a few caches of valuables to rescue from the tomb and bring home for documentation we happened upon one last magic “item”. It was a pool in the south west portion of the tomb.  It had a sign in Dwarven indicating that, in trade for a magic item, the pond would bestow beauty. I immediately looked at Eucarion. I loved him despite his scars but I know what those scars had done to his mind. Having held him through the night terrors I felt like even the smallest bit of comfort of at least not seeing the scars anymore might help him heal. I knew the scars were deeper than the surface of his skin and they would still haunt him whether he could see them or not but I wanted him to have this opportunity. But apparently the rest of the group felt like they were the ones who got to decide and after a rather rattling outburst from Eucarion himself I pressed Lady Hana’s fan into his hand. I wanted the decision to be his and his alone without the worry of having to give up a magical item of his own. It only made sense that we return Lady Hana’s magic to her anyways.

Our keys started to glow forcing him to make a decision. At the last moment he threw the fan into the pool and I watched with a shimmer as his visible scars melted into his skin leaving his face whole and unmarred. It wasn’t till we made it home that night that we discovered that the magic pool only cleaned the scars from his face. The worst of them still graced his body but I can see that his confidence is already higher since the ones on his face are gone. I was nice to have him out with me beyond the walls again I wonder how long this happiness will last.

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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…

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