An Ancient Evil Returns
- Season One
- S01E01 - To Dine With A Queen
- S01E02 - Of Sigils, Dark Marks, and Lichen
- S01E03 - A Shadow Rises
- S01E04 - There's Been A Murder
- S01E05 - The Mouth Of Sins (A Love Story)
- S01E06 - A Friend In Need
- S01E07 - The Urn of Eternity
- S01E08 - The Second Sigil
- S01E09 - Within the Gem (Spooktacular)
- S01E10 - The Beginning Of The End
- S01E11 - Fos Runes
- Season Two
- S02E01 - The Mistwalker
- S02E02 - Granaries Five
- S02E03 - Blackmail Rescue
- S02E04 - Bone Debt
- S02E05 - Necropolis
- S02E06 - Treasure Cache
- S02E07 - Banner Saga
- S02E08 - Tomb of Amon Ra
- S02E09 - The Hunt
- S02E10 - Rage
- S02E11 - General Persuasion
- S02E11.5 - Path of the MIstwalker
- S02E12 - The Korrovick
- S02E13 - Lost
- S02E14 - Temple of Mists
- S02E15 - Reunion
---Session 1 (Logged by JD)---
At the behest of the Queen's brother, Terien, the adventurers make their way to Labyrinth to investigate the minotaur named Ilen.
Labyrinth, being around 100 miles away, takes the better part of three 10-hour days on mounts. Rounding a corner, the adventures are surpised to encounter their companion Kark with three dead lichen covered elves at his feet. From the woods charge more.
Deftly disptching of them, the adventures make their way into the city, where they explore Ruby Alley in Thres. There they meet a man who, with a little help from a gold piece, tells them of a man who fits their description of Ilen who rcently stayed at The Wyvern tavern on the sourth side of Thres.
Following this lead, the adventures are able to find that the man they seek lives in the Halls of Honor, deep with the western bowels of Labyrinth. Kark, in an attempt to bond with the inn keeper, buys an expensive bottle of scotch, and chugs most of it. On the long, drunk journey to the Hall, he is able to sober up, but ends up becoming severly dehydrated and plagued by never-ending headaches.
---Session 2 (Logged by Scott [Kark])---
As the adventurers made their way further into Labyrinth, towards the Hall of Honors, they notice their companion, Marcus has slipped away unnoticed. “Not again”, growls Malachi, but before they can even begin to wonder where he might have gone off to, they hear the sound of a bird approaching. The group turns to see what a bird is doing this deep underground, only to have the raven transform into their companion, Sid, in front of their eyes.
Greeting their friend warmly, they quickly relate to him the events that had transpired in his absence. Determined to finally confront Ilyn, the group decides that Marcus will be fine on his own, as he often slips away to take care of personal business.
Drawing closer to the Hall of Honors, they see one of the Wailing Wives standing in front of the cavernous entrance, with a small pedestal by her side. An average-sized Minotaur female dressed from horn to toe in black garments, the Wife calls out to them as they approach her, “Give a token to The Traveler before you enter these sacred Halls?” The adventures all toss a token into the basin sitting atop the Wife’s pedestal, muttering a prayer to The Traveler, or to their own God. Sid exchanges the traditional greeting of the followers of The Traveler with the Wife, who then asks, “Is there anyone in particular who you wish to pay tribute to this day?”
“We come today looking not for the dead, but for the living,” Sid replies. “We seek a Minotaur by the name of Ilyn. We were informed he resides in these Halls.”
“He does,” the Wife replied. “Ilyn is one of our tunnel workers. It is his duty, along with his compatriots, to research the areas where new tunnels will be dug. He lives on the second level of the Halls. What business do you have with him?” she asked, looking at the group with some suspicion.
“Our business with Ilyn is of a personal and sensitive nature,” Thanos replied haughtily. “We would prefer to only discuss it with him.”
“Very well,” the Wife said. “I meant no offense. I will lead you to his dwelling as these tunnels are treacherous and you might become lost.” She motioned to another Wailing Wife who was standing inside of the entryway. “Take my post while I show these guests to their destination. I will return shortly.”
The group follows the Wife down into the tunnels of the Hall, the flickering gas lamps lighting their way. As they turn a corner down yet another side street, the Wife turns to them and says, “This is where Ilyn lives,” and points to a door halfway down the avenue. “Shall I wait here so I guide you back to the entrance? The Halls can be a treacherous place for… outsiders,” she says, peering at Sid, Thanos and Malachi.
“That will not be necessary. The Traveler grants me his sight,” Sid says, bowing slightly to the Wife.
“Very well,” she replies, bowing in return. “May The Traveler guide you to what you seek.” And with that, she turned and began the walk back to the entrance of the Halls.
“Well, let’s see if he’s home,” Kark says, making his way to Ilyn’s door. He bangs on it sharply, and the group here’s movement inside. The door opens slightly and they see a Minotaur standing in the house.
“Yes, what do you want?” he snaps, looking them over suspiciously.
“We are looking for a Minotaur by the name of Ilyn,” says Malachi.
“Well, you have found who you are looking for. I am Ilyn. What do you want?” he asks, closing the door so now only a small crack is now visible.
“We are seeking information about the Amulet of –“ Thanos begins, but no sooner can she finish her sentence before the door is slammed in their faces and they hear scrambling from inside.
“I guess we’re doing this the hard way”, Kark growls. He rears back and throws his weight against the door, which shudders but does not move. “This is not helping my headache. Someone else try,” he says, leaning back against the wall.
Thanos and Sid look at each other, nod, and with their combined strength are able to knock the door firmly off its hinges. As soon as the door is out of the way, the group rushes inside to find Ilyn on the far side of the room, removing a vial filled with a foul-looking liquid from under his mattress.
“No!” shouts Malachi, hastily throwing a spell at Ilyn. But before the spell can affect him, Ilyn jumps with surprise and the vial slips from his hand, smashing into the wall. “Oh no,” Ilyn moans, sliding into a chair.
“I will search this house. See what you can get out of him,” Kark says, motioning to Ilyn. He props the door back up in its frame and begins vigorously searching all the spaces where one might hide an amulet. Ilyn looks up from his chair and shouts, “Hey! What are you doing to my house?! You’re breaking everything!” “That’s the kind of the point, ” Thanos replies. “Now, if you don’t want our friend here to completely destroy what few possessions you have, you’ll tell us everything you know about the Amulet of Naas.”
“I know nothing about this amulet of which you speak,” Ilyn growls. “I am but a poor tunnel worker and you are nothing but a group of thugs destroying my home!” At these words, Sid looks a bit uneasy. “Guys, are we sure this is the right Ilyn? After all, it’s probably a pretty common Minotaur name.”
“Oh, this is the right Ilyn,” Malachi says. “Yeah,” Kark shouts from the other room over the sounds of shattering dishes. “He matches the description exactly!”
“Well, I suppose you’re right,” Sid says, still a bit wary about the whole situation. He turns to Ilyn, “Listen, my friend, why don’t you just tell us what we need to know and we’ll be on our way?” Ilyn looks at Sid with disgust and spits on the ground. “I already told you, I know nothing. Now, leave my home before I call the guards.”
“We’ll see about that,” Thanos says. Her eyes flash as her mind reaches out to probe that of Ilyn. Unfortunately, his mental defenses prove to be to strong and she is turned away. “Get away from me you witch,” Ilyn growls. “I didn’t want to have to do this,” Sid says as he moves to strike Ilyn. However, as his blow nears, Ilyn shifts slightly so Sid’s touch only grazes him. “You are barking up the wrong tree little fairy. If you are interested in those sorts of things, you’ll be better off in the pleasure districts. I hear they have men who will do anything for a copper,” Ilyn laughs with a sneer on his face. “Touch me like that again and I will remove your arms.”
As Ilyn is sitting there laughing, Malachi senses a great power approaching. Before the group’s eyes, a dark mist begins to quickly encircle Ilyn, rising up his body and forcing its way down his throat before he can even scream. Malachi follows the path of the magic out the door and sees a black hooded figure standing in the street. “My friends, quickly! In the street!” he shouts, as Ilyn collapses to the floor.
Kark, Thanos and Malachi rush outside, as the figure dashes away down the street. “Go!” Sid shouts. “I will catch up!” He bends over to check Ilyn for any sign of life, but is unable to discover any. He sighs and bows his head. “Well then, I suppose I had better go after them!” As he finishes his words, he bends over and transforms into a mighty bear. With a great roar, be runs down the road after his companions.
As the trio chases after the Mage, they cannot seem to catch up no matter how fast they run. Malachi reaches out with his senses and finds that the Mage is enhancing his speed. “Kark!” he shouts, “Are you ready to run?” “Hah! Yes, I will teach this Mage a lesson!” Kark enthusiastically replies. Malachi mutters an incantation and speeds Kark’s footsteps. “Go my friend! We will be close behind!”
Kark continues to give chase, now gaining ground on the escaping Mage. He turns around one last corner and finds himself in the Hall of Heroes, surrounded by great statues paying tribute to fallen Minotaur heroes. Standing in the middle of the room is the hooded Mage. He throws back his hood to reveal the face of a Dragon. As Kark slows to a halt, the Dragon begins to cast a spell. Karkoneras draws his spear and shield and approaches the mage. As the mage finishes his incantation, a flash of lighting and a loud crack echoes through the Hall. Seeing that nothing has changed, Kark laughs at the mage who is now looking quite nervous. “Is that all you’ve got, little Dragon? Flashes of light and big sounds? It will take more than that to frighten me!” But as he finishes his sentence, he hears a loud crunching sound behind him. As he turns to see what is there, he is greeted with a horrifying sight. One of the large statues has come alive and stepped down from its pedestal. Before Kark can react, the statue brings down one of his large stone fists on his head, crushing him beneath an enormous weight. Unable to withstand this ferocious assault, Karkoneras slumps to the ground and into unconsciousness.
At that moment, the remaining members of the group round the corner and are greeted by this hideous sight. Sid, still in bear from, lets out a bellowing roar and begins running at the Mage. As he does, a raptor appears above him but becomes confused by all of the commotion and simply flies around the roof of the Hall. Thanos stands back and draws her bow, while Malachi rushes forward to help defend Karkoneras from the terrifying stone golem.
As the Mage moves forward to help his golem in defeating the adventurers, he sees Kark’s eyes flutter open as a faint image of The Dragon appears around him. “That one is still alive!” he shouts, backing away from the newly awakened Minotaur. As Malachi draws closer to where Kark still lies motionless, the golem turns to deal with this new threat. Luckily, Malachi is able to call on an ancient power and generate a visual duplicate of himself in attempt to confuse this great monster in front of him. With the golem distracted momentarily by Malachi and his double, Karkoneras is able to mutter a prayer to an ancient god and warp himself to a position where he can more readily assist his companions.
With Sid drawing closer to the Dragon mage, Thanos notches an arrow to her bow, trying to determine where her skills are most needed. Seemingly undistracted by the two Dragon’s now attacking him, the golem rears back and plants his fist firmly into the stomach of Malachi who falls back in pain. Hearing Malachi’s cry of pain, Thanos turns and launches an arrow towards to golem. It hits him squarely , but only knocks off a small chunk of his rocky exterior.
Faced with a large, terrifying bear, the mage quickly conjures a shield of lightning around himself just as Sid launches himself at the mage in an attempt to trap him in a deadly embrace. However, the power of the mage’s shield proves too much and Sid is rebuffed by the sharp sting of electricity. Snarling at the mage, Sid feels a brief touch of coldness flow through him but is able to shake off the Dragon’s attempts to subdue him. Enraged by this attempted attack, Sid slashes towards the mage with his razor sharp claws, but is again turned away by the crackling shield encircling the dark Dragon.
On the other side of the great Hall, Karkoneras moves around the golem, attempting to hit with a large explosion of chi energy. Though none of the explosions find their target, he succeeds in distracting the golem from Malachi. The golem turns and again attempts to crush Kark under his giant fist, but ready for the attack this time, Kark is able to turn him away with his shield.
With the golem currently distracted, Thanos turns her attention to the Mage and shoots an arrow in an attempt to lend aid to a rather singed Sid. The distance turns out to be too great, though, and the arrows sails wide of its mark. Still reeling from the hit by the golem, Malachi also turns towards the mage, and drawing on his last reserves of magic, attempts to distract him with an overwhelming itch. The pain from his injury proves too severe, and Malachi’s magic attack is unable to find its target. As the last of his magic power is spent, he feels a cold chill flow through him and knows there will be some price he will pay for this expenditure of power.
Still facing the golem, Karkoneras now turns to his trusty spear and thrusts it against the golem’s rocky side, taking off more his hard exterior. Though the golem again tries to destroy him, Kark’s talent with the shield proves to great and he turns away yet another crushing blow. “You will have to do better than that, beast!” shots Karkoneras in defiance.
The Dragon mage, still faced with a fierce and angry bear casts another hasty spell at his attacker, but is unable to focus enough for it to have any effect. Sid lets out another great roar and seeing that that mage’s lighting shield has finally sputters out, rears back on his hind legs and brings both of his front paws crashing down. However, Sid misjudges the distance between himself and the mage and his attack crashes into the ground just in front of his target, nearly breaking the bones in his paws.
Determined to stop this mage, Thanos moves a bit closer to her target and looses another arrow. This one does not miss and lodges itself firmly in the Dragon’s shoulder, sending jets of blood shooting out over Sid.
Malachi turns to attack the golem with Karkoneras, drawing his eskrima sticks as he does so. “Come my friend, we have him on the ropes now!” he shouts, striking out towards the golem and taking off some more stone with one of his weapons. “Yes, we will defeat this foul abomination!” Kark responds, sending his spear into the golem once more and again turning away a brutal counter-attack.
Thanos quietly nocks yet another arrow to her bow and sends it straight into the chest of the Dragon mage, who reels backwards from the hit. “Lend me your strength!” he shouts to the heavens, as a glowing rune appears on his hand. Malachi is able to catch a glimpse of the details of the rune before it vanishes. Seemingly rejuvenated, the mage lashes out with another spell that catches Sid and saps his strength.
Momentarily distracted by the commotion caused by the mage, Karkoneras turns his attention back to the golem and once again puts all his strength behind his spear and sends another shower of rock falling off the beast. This time, however, he is not quick enough with his shield and is dealt a glancing blow by the great monster.
Gathering his strength, Sid once again summons his raptor to attack this dark mage and this time is able to focus enough that the raptor’s talons slice through the front of the mage’s chest. His wounds proving too great, the Dragon collapses to the ground and lapses into unconsciousness. As the mage tumbles down, the great stone golem also falls lifeless.
The heroes all breathe a deep sigh of relief upon seeing their opponents finally fall. Karkoneras looks around, smiles thinly, and abruptly crashes to the ground. Thanos quickly calls upon a bit of ancient magic to give strength to her three companions and then rushes to Kark’s side to administer a few healing potions. As Sid returns to his Fey form and the severity of his injuries become clear, Thanos shouts over to him, “Sid, over here! I have a potion or two for you as well!” Smiling wearily, he makes his way over to her and Kark and gratefully accepts the potions. “Thank you my friend. These are a welcome gift indeed.”
Feeling rejuvenated and restored, the group turns their attention to the fallen mage. “Sid, see if that son of a human is still breathing,” Kark says, sneering towards their defeated foe. As Sid tends to the Dragon, the others hear the sound of approaching footsteps. “Not more enemies,” sighs Thanos. “No, just more Wailing Wives,” says Malachi as they step into the Hall.
Looking around at the destruction in the Hall with disbelief, the Wives turn towards the group of adventurers and began shouting and clamoring for them to remove themselves from these Halls immediately. “Alright, alright, we meant no harm. We were attacked by this dark mage!” Karkoneras tried to explain, but the Wives just shouted louder and louder for them to leave. “Fine! We’re leaving!” Kark shouted, grabbing the Dragon and throwing him over his shoulder. “Let’s get out of here before they attract the guards,” Sid says to the others.
Before they can take more than a handful of paces back to the path towards Ilyn’s house, Karkoneras feels a strange coldness run through him and suddenly a voice that is not his own speaks with his mouth: “You should not have meddled in affairs of which you know nothing! You will come to regret these actions greatly!” As Kark falls silent, the Dragon on his shoulder suddenly bursts into a bright green flame. Shouting in surprise, Kark reacts quickly and throws the mage onto the ground where his body is quickly devoured by the supernatural flames. “What in the name of The Dragon just happened?” Kark exclaimed. “Malachi, grab those robes and let’s get out of here!”
Arriving back at Ilyn’s house without further incident, the heroes look through the mages robes and finish their search of Ilyn’s dwelling. “These robes are fine… very fine,” mutters Malachi, exchanging them for his in an instant. “And what’s this? Some kind of spell tome…. yes, this will prove quite an interesting read, I’m sure. And here, Thanos! There is some sort of alchemical recipe here in the back.”
“Ah, excellent! Thank you Malachi,” replies Thanos. “Sid, did you find anything on Ilyn?”
“Nothing much,” Sid replies. “This small ruby – “ “I’ll take that!” interrupts Karkoneras, snatching it from Sid’s hand. “Fine Kark, it’s all yours. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,” Sid continued with a sharp look at his brutish Minotaur companion, “he had nothing but this small ruby and the much sought-after Amulet of Naas!” With this last, he revealed the amulet with a flourish. “He had it around his ankle. A curious hiding place, to be sure. Perhaps he thought it would bring him power of sort.”
“Never mind that. Now that we have what we came here for, let’s get out of this place before the guards decide to investigate all of the ruckus we’ve been causing. Come, we can rest at my manse before we head back to the City,” Karkoneras offers. The group heartily agree and they make their way to Kark’s manse, not encountering any further trouble on their way. They arrive just before nightfall and are greeted by Karkoneras’ butler, Jeeves.
“Ah, Jeeves. Good to see you,” Karkoneras says. “Please ready a fire, three guest rooms and a supper. Also, bring up some of the good brandy and ale. Thank you.” “Mmm, yes. Very well sir.”
As they all collapse in front of the freshly lit fire, Jeeves brings a round of drinks out to warm them further. “Sir,” he says, addressing Karkoneras. “Would you speak with Master Tusk now?” Kark sighs exasperatedly. “Ah yes, Tusk. I had forgotten about him. Friends, would you excuse me a moment while I tend to other matters?”
Karkoneras slowly heads up to one of his guest rooms and knocks on the door. “Yes, who is it?” calls out a voice from within. “Who do you think it is you great lout? Your gracious host! Now let me in.” The door opens and Kark is greeted by the sight of his old friend. “Tusk my friend, how are you?” “How am I? You leave here for days at a time, only to return with your ragged group of friends. You then sit to a fire with drinks and food and do not even think to inquire as to my well-being! You know full well that there are many out in this city who would have my head on a platter as soon as look at me, and you can’t even send Jeeves up to check on me?!”
“I am deeply sorry my friend, but I have been through much today. And must I remind you,” Karkoneras raised his voice. “Must I remind you that I have let you stay in my home, eat my food and drink my ale for as long as you require? And that I am putting myself and my name at risk by even associating with you?”
“Of course, of course. I meant no offense,” Tusk said, backing down and sitting on the bed. “I just grow tired of hanging around this place with nothing to do but talk at Jeeves and drink your ale.”
“Well, that can soon be fixed,” Kark replied. “My companions and I are leaving for the City tomorrow. If you wish to join us, you are more than welcome to travel on the road in our company.”
“Yes,” Tusk says eagerly. “That will do quite nicely. I am an unknown in the City and will be able to make a fresh start.”
“Very well,” Kark says. “We will leave immediately after breakfast on the morrow. Be ready then.” With that, Kark leaves his friend and returns downstairs to his companions. “An old friend of mine will be joining us tomorrow. If anyone has a problem with that, speak now.” Silence fills the room. “Very well. Let’s eat and get some rest. We have a long ride ahead of us.”
In the morning, after a long (and late) breakfast, the companions finally set out for the City. Their journey is long, but uneventful and the telling of it would serve no purpose. Suffice to say, they arrive at the City and bid farewell to their new friend Tusk. “Bye Tusk, see you later!” Sid calls out as Tusk rides away. “Wow, he sure has lived an amazing life!” Sid exclaims. Karkoneras chuckles. “Careful what you believe little friend. Tusk is full of more tales than an entire room of books.”
The group quickly makes their way to the queen, who they find abed, still gravely hill. Prince Terrian is there by her bed and looks up sharply as the heroes enter. “Well, were you successful in your quest?” he inquires. “Yes sire, we were,” Malachi says. He removes the amulet from his satchel and moves to hand it the queen. “I will take that for now, thank you,” says the Prince. He opens a wooden box and motions for Malachi to place the amulet inside. “We will have this inspected by our Maesters before it approaches the Queen.” “Of course, sire. As you wish,” Malachi murmurs as he places the amulet into the chest.
“My brave servants.” The group turns at the sound of the Queen’s feeble voice. “You have done well to return this heirloom to my family. You have the thanks of the royal family. Now, tell us what transpired.”
The heroes proceeded to relate the tales of their quest to the Queen and Prince Terrian. Upon completion of their recap of events, the Queen looked gravely at Terrian. “Terrian, I do not like these words being spoken of my daughter.” “Nor I, sister. Nor I.” Terrian looked at the heroes. The Princess and her Maester have gone to the Granary on a quest of great importance. Now I worry that she might be in some danger. I know you have just returned, but I must ask that you leave for the Granary at once in order to ensure the Princess’ safety.”
“Of course, your Highness,” Thanos replies, bowing to the Prince. “We will do whatever is requested by the Queen.” “Thank you. Please send a raven as soon as you have met with the Princess. I must know she is safe,” the Queen says. “Yes Your Majesty. We hope to find you in better health upon our return,” Thanos says. And with that, the group turns and leaves the Queen’s bedchamber. “Well, before we go, I think we should check in at the Apothecary,” says Sid. “I sent in a sample of that lichen and I’d like to see what they discovered.”
“I need some time for meditation,” Karkoneras replies. “I will meet you all at the manse as soon as I have finished.” “Very well,” Sid says. “See you soon.”
Later that evening, the group reconvenes at their manse just outside the city. “Well friends, what did you discover at the apothecary?” Kark enquires. “Well,” Sid begins the maesters have found that the lichen seems to attach itself to any living creature and then proceeds to spread at an exponential rate.” “And what of its effects?” “Unknown at this time,” Sid replies. “The only thing they’ve discovered is that it is impossible to remove. Unfortunately, they discovered this the hard way after a careless acolyte let some of the moss come in contact with his hand.” “What was the fate of this acolyte? Did he die from exposure to the moss?” Kark asked. “No, nothing quite that horrible. They simply had to remove the infected area. In this case, his hand.” Kark shook his head sadly. “They should not have such careless acolytes.” “Agreed,” Malachi said. “And what of you, friend? Did the Dragon reveal himself in your meditations?”
“He did,” Kark sighed, walking over to the fire and falling into his great armchair. “He did indeed.” “And what did you see?” Thanos asked. “Flashes, really. Figures in the flames. But I was able to discern a few clear images. I saw the Princess Royale in danger, so it seems the Queen was right to send us out right away. I also saw you, Malachi.” “Me?” Malachi replied. “And was I in danger also?” “No, you were laughing with a new friend,” Karkoneras said. “Anything else?” Sid asked. “Yes. I saw Tusk wailing and crying, in great distress. And last, I saw the infinity symbol.” Karkoneras leaned over and drew it into the table with his fingernail. “At first I did not know what it meant. But then I remembered. The Infinite Dungeon.” The others gasped. “The Infinite Dungeon?” Malachi said. “Are you sure?” “Quite sure, unfortunately,” Karkoneras replied. “Thankfully, the portents shown to me by the Dragon do not always come to pass. Now, I am tired and we have yet another long travel ahead of us. Let us get some rest.”
I started the morning right with a soothing cup of tea. It had been a long few days and I needed some time to unwind before my comrades returned. I hadn’t wanted to be involved with that again, and I was hoping perhaps a couple more days of rest would be nice. But, as usual, I had no such luck. My compatriots arrived as I was finishing said cup of tea.
Sid excused himself as, yet again, he had urgent business in Starfall. I understand his worries about the blue lichen, but doesn’t he realize that we can help? We are, after all, almost family at this point. Plus, I should probably take some time to learn about my heritage (though I’ve never formally expressed that desire to Sid).
Anyway, some information we received, in combination with a terrible premonition suggested that princess Emilia could be in trouble, so those extra days of rest were going to have to be postponed as we began a rushed journey to the granary, where we knew her to be.
A few hours from our destination, the familiar sounds of battle reached our ears. I immediately dismounted and slipped into the shadows, where my particular brand of fighting can be practiced best. It seemed a Gorgon merchant and his diamond-back-snake-haired-daughter were under attack by a group of unfortunate bandits.
My friends were quick to provide warnings of impending doom to these bandits, but we’ve encountered their type before, and I knew it would be for not.
I slipped ever closer to the brigand who I perceived to be their leader as the sounds of battle crashed around me. And as my boot crushed his surprisingly soft skull, my friends joined the fray.
We had fought for just a short time (it always surprises me how little time actually passes during a battle – it seems like forever doesn’t it?) when the last standing scoundrel decided to heed Malikai’s advice: “It is in your best interest to run away.” This, I would say, made him a smart man.
At this point Kark, in a typical display of cognitive dissonance, gave mercy to a dying foe and then spat on his corpse.
We made introductions as we calmed ourselves down from the excitement of battle. Slythal (who for some reason prefers to be called ‘Sly’) and his daughter Dodger, were grateful for our help. They requested our aid in making the rest of their journey to Labyrinth. We were in quite a rush, however, and were unable to help them as far as they had hoped.
We parted ways with Dodger and Sly at the granary bridge, and made our way to the largest house in the granary itself. It may not be the most spectacular place in the world, but what it lacks in luster, it makes up for with freshness. And since it’s fall, it’s harvest season and the foods and beer was exquisite.
The princess was safe, so we took some comforts (which was nice after our 12 hour journey, and some light scrapping). I retired early to complete the previously postponed rest and relaxation. My comrades, I am given to understand, had a multitude of recreational affairs, including reading, conversing, and one not so flattering game of Towers between Princess Emilia and Thanos.
I was awoken be a great sense of danger mid-night. I gathered my companions and we made haste towards the princess’s chamber. We heard a scream as we spotted a dead guard down the hall. Opening the door I saw several cat people in combat with a bloodied Maester Wren, and Emilia passed out with a lone chanting cat person.
I call them cat people because that’s what they looked like, though it was pretty dark and I couldn’t be certain. I have never really encountered their race before and have no other name. They seemed to have abilities very similar to my own shadow negotiated abilities, though somehow different.
I identified the chanting cat as the immediate threat and attempted to silence him with a surprise boot to the face. His chanting didn’t have him as distracted as I had suspected, however, because not only was he able to avoid my foot, but an arrow from Thanos’s bow (and trust me, those are hard to avoid). The sounds of battle clashed around us.
My second attempt at silencing him was slightly more successful though. I simply wrapped my hands around his throat and squeezed. He attempted to knock us back with a shadow attack I’d never seen, and though it was successful, my grip never wavered. And though that grip seemed to silence him temporarily, I’m pretty sure that the well placed knee to the groin was what finally neutralized the threat.
The battle wasn’t yet over, and several of my friends had fallen unconscious, but using Thanos and my superior fighting skills (read: better at not getting hit), we were able to mop up the mess and keep the princess safe.
After a few potions we were able to rouse some of the lazy ones and tend to their wounds. We found a small black token which matched the sigil on the chanting cat’s hand, and the ankles of all the shadow cats.
We discussed some history with Maester Wren, learning that the sigil was a perversion of an ancient demon’s sigil from the bowels of Labyrinth. We also learned that the shadow cats used to be from a now abandoned section of Labyrinth and have suspicions of their return there..
After a fitful night of sleep we successfully guided the princess back to the city where she could be safe.
Upon returning from my errand in Starfall Forest I rejoined my companions in The City. It seemed they ran into a spot of trouble while escorting the princess. This was the second attack upon the royalty in the course of a month, more than a coincidental occurrence to be certain. Our only lead on what might be causing these attacks lied with the mysterious Shadow Cats, so we inquired with the royal apothecary. He pointed us in the direction of Labyrinth, specifically Brall, a series of caves thought to be haunted by the local populace.
So we set forth on yet another voyage to Labyrinth, honestly I feel we spend far too much time in that musky city. For once I’d like the queen to send us some place with a little more sun! Upon arrival we headed to sublevel Veric, and found the large metal doors that stood before the entrance to Brall.
After some confusion as to how we should shut the door after us, we decided to leave it cracked. We then proceeded through a series of more doors, each becoming more worn and dented than the last. By the last door the signs of struggle were undeniable, clearing the monsters that were trapped here so long ago disagreed with their containment. The smells of feces and decaying flesh were oppressive, but using my superior tracking skills I was able to pick up a trail to follow near a more frequented dumping area.
After following the trail through the darkness of the corridors, we came upon a large funeral pyre, with bodies of dead minotaur stacked high. As I looked for another trail to follow I nearly stumbled into a Shadow Cat, and was barely able to retreat to my companions before we were set upon by an ambush.
The fight that ensued was glorious to be sure; my companions seemed to learn a bit from their last encounter and had numerous light sources to help combat the shadowy tactics of the Cats. Through some heroics and superior fighting skills, including an impressive use of a grease spell combined with a torch, we were able overcome the Shadow Cats, sans one that was able to barely escape with his life intact.
I tracked the corridor that seemed most travelled and we proceeded ever further into the caves. After a distance we came to a hallway where the ceiling of the cave shot upward dramatically. The hallway was crisscrossed with shafts of sunlight, forming a narrow pathway through the darkness.
Sensing a trap, we attempted to poke and prod the darkness with little success. Finally I decided to take raven form and fly above the corridor in an attempt to scout out dangers. I reached the end of the corridor without difficulty, and landed at the edge of the light path to await my companions. This was when things took a turn for the worse. Upon reaching the final stretch of the light path, a bolt of shadowy energy burst forth from the darkness at the end of the hallway, striking me in the back and sending me sprawling into the darkness outside the light path. Within this dark space I was stricken by yet another wave of pain, but through sheer force of will I was able to make my way back into the light and out into the darkness beyond the end of the hall.
My companions however, were less than successful at navigating the trap. The bolts of darkness began to come frequently after I escaped the light path. While they struggled with the trap, I was surrounded in complete darkness. I couldn’t even hear my own voice as I shouted back to my friends. After a short time in this darkness another creature collided into my back, but alas I was unable to strike the beast in the darkness. Sensing a threat I began to shift into my bear form, to prepare for a future attack. Unbeknownst to me the form that collided with me was Marcus, who had successfully made it past the trap.
In the mean time, Thanos and Malakai were having quite the struggle with the light path. The bolts of darkness continued to slam them around, bringing Malakai near to the point of death. Kark, being a bit slower than the rest of us with all his mighty armor, was stuck in the rear of the path. He too was struggling to make progress, as every step forward was a battle. Finally, with great effort and a little luck, the remaining three were able to make it into the room of darkness, where with some minor exploration we were able to find a door to the next hallway.
What I don’t understand is why everyone didn’t just fly over the light path like I did; it was far easier than taking the ground route.
There was a knock on the door. The silver-haired Resulk called himself Lord Caspian. He came with some disheartening news for our party. Lord Caspian had knowledge of our “extracurricular activities,” but would not reveal the source of his information. He then tasked us with leading an investigation in the Grainery.
There was a murder. Jasmine, the daughter of Mayor Elysia, was found in the study next to a half-played game of Tower and a wooden mask. She had a knife in her midsection, and clutching a blue pocket square. Upon arriving to the scene, we searched the room for more clues. Kark found a green cotton thread in the blood. Thanos found a metallic lute string under the table. Sid was able to get scents off of the pocket square and the mask.
There were witnesses. Harriet the cook heard a crash just after sunset, and sent the maid to investigate. Darcy, the young and unproductive maid, arrived to the study to find Jasmine already dead. There was a little girl named Sera that saw a man running away over the Grain Bridge. There was a scholar named Measter Roberto, who was able to help us identify the mask.
There were some mercenaries. They hung out at the Wheat Furrow Tavern, where Lord Caspian provided for our lodging. Kark was quick to make friends with the four Minotaurs and their Gorgon merchant tagalong. Apparently the gates of Labyrinth have been closed to contain a plague that had broken out (Note to self: Check up on Trent). These people were turned away from the gates and had settled in the Grainery for now.
There was a murder. Again. This time it was Maester Roberto, and we were lucky enough to have been the first to discover his body. Kark discovered green snakes under him, and recognized them as belonging to the Gorgon that accompanied the mercenaries. Sid was able to follow the scent trail (the same scent as the mask even!) and we tracked down the culprit. It brought us out of the Grainery, over the Grain Bridge, and headed north towards Labyrinth.
There were two of them. At the end of the line, we found one female, that smelled of bacon and grease, and a male with the familiar scent we had been tracking. We had found our man. The Gorgon identified himself as Davok. He gave us a moving speech about his jealousy of Jasmine’s betrothal. How he never meant to kill her. How it was an accident of a struggle. The female was Darcy, who was blackmailing Davok to murder her problems away. The problem was Measter Roberto and his lecherous libido.
There was justice. Davok was turned into the guards at the Grainery with his confession. Lord Caspian greeted us upon our return to the town. He gave us our reward and took poor Darcy under his care. Lord Caspian lavished us with our reward, and promised to contact us if he ever needed our services again.
There were unanswered questions. How did Lord Caspian know about our real selves? What are his intentions with us? How did Labyrinth become infected (I’ve got a business to run)?
I went to the temple today to pray to the Dragon for his guidance. I’m still trying to process what he showed me. I saw Tusk on the floor of the very Sept I was praying in, he seemed distraught, clutching a small toy to his breast. Then I saw a flash of myself and the rest of the company climbing an oddly shaped pyramid. It was unfamiliar to me. After this, I saw…. I still cannot process exactly what it is I saw. It was Markus, faithful, trusted Markus, but not as I have ever known him. There was a dark energy swirling around him, and I couldn’t quite tell but it seemed almost as if it was…. emanating from him. I have never seen his shadow power manifest this way before. Then I experienced something I cannot even begin to explain. It was as if my vision was being perverted by another mind. I saw a great figure, sitting on a throne of ice, his eyes as blue as the frigid water of the sea in mid-winter. But that wasn’t all. It was almost as if he was SEEING me there, watching him. He held me gaze for just a moment and then it was if I was falling into those terrible frozen eyes. I felt as if the Dragon himself had abandoned me.
After I awoke from this most unsettling of visions, I returned to the manse to confer with my compatriots only to receive some most unsettling news. Markus had vanished during the night and no one had any idea where to find him. Not only that, but Thanos has fallen severely ill. We summoned a local healer to examine her, but Malachi felt something disturbing. He saw a dark mark on her aura. Given the vision I had just experienced, I was obviously quite concerned about what might be going on with Markus. I shared what I had seen with Malachi and Sid, who both shared me concern. However, as we were discussing the best way to handle this turn of events, we were paid a visit by that joke of a man, Shrimp. He marched in as he always does and informed us our presence was required by the Royal Family. We agreed to meet him there as soon as possible, but he told us that there was a carriage waiting outside to take us there now. An odd turn of events indeed, and one with which I was none too happy. We told Maze to bring our equipment along to the palace, and then proceed along in the provided carriage at quite a fast clip. Upon arriving at the palace we were immediately ushered into the Prince’s chambers.
A pleasant surprise awaited us, as we were reunited with Maester Ren who, despite his recent grave injuries, seemed to be doing quite well. Prince Terrian joined us and attempted to apologize for the method in which we were brought here. He said we were under risk of attack, but I feel we would have been better off protecting ourselves. Ah well, what’s done is done. Maester Ren then informed us of their recent discoveries. He said there was something dark coming, that a frost demon by the name of “Isen” had hired the Shadowcats to kidnap the princess and the group of thieves to steal the Amulet. Apparently this all has something to do with the Sigil of Balor, who was a footsoldier in the Army of the 5 Gods who fought against this frost demon many years ago. Balor eventually was able to seal Isen in the Shroud by using these “Sigils”. Isen is trying to acquire the Amulet and the Royal Ring because they somehow can take down this Shroud. I admit, I am a bit unclear on how all this works, but Malachi seemed to have a grasp on what Maester Wren was saying, so I’ll rely on him to take care of all of that. Ren then informed us that they believed one of these Sigils is inside of the Infinite Dungeon which, of course, is where I am writing from now. It is a dark and dismal place that has shown us many horrors heretofore unknown to the world. But I get ahead of myself.
Upon learning of our great task, we immediately left for Labyrinth with a document provided by Prince Terrian that was to help us gain access to the city, which was still under quarantine. We arrived at Labyrinth and… words cannot express what I felt upon seeing the gates of that great city closed, and the market steps abandoned and desolate. We were able to gain access after a brief dispute with one of the guards, and quickly made our way to the entrance of the Infinite Dungeon. We worked our way down the 100 foot mineshaft, at the bottom of which we left Maze with our surplus equipment. In the first room we found piles of abandoned mining equipment and dozens of corpses of fallen Minotaurs and Dragons. Malachi cast his trusty spell to light our way and Sid began mapping this terrible place so we could eventually find our way out again.
As I sit here writing, I still find it hard to believe what happened next. As unbelievable as this may sound, the creatures we found in this place appeared to be the dead, come back to protect this evil sanctuary. They threw themselves at us with no regard for their own well-being. It was a brutal battle, with Sid taking on his bear form and Malachi throwing off multiple powerful spells in an attempt to stop them in their tracks. Sid’s trusty hound Reg was able to join us in this endeavor, and though we took a few wounds from these undead abominations, we were ultimately successful in decimating them completely. Though I must admit, there was a moment when I feared all might be lost as the undead swarmed me completely. Luckily, I was able to summon enough energy to blast them apart with the Chi energy I possess. It was a glorious finish to a hard-fought battle.
We make our further into this cursed place, digging out a doorway so we can continue our trek. We encounter a few more of the creatures in a room below, but nothing as major as what we had faced above. As I sit here, writing this down for who knows who to read, regaining my strength for our next move, I can’t help but wonder what other horrors this place might hold.
As I nursed my wounds outside the Infinite Dungeon, patiently awaiting the return of my companions with only my wits and the stoic company of Maze to keep me sane, Markus appeared quite surreptitiously. Shortly after our reunion, Thanos, Kark, and Malakai emerged from the mouth of the Dungeon, with our objective in hand. Our victory was cut short however, as Trusk came to us bearing a dire message: our dear friend Sly had fallen ill with the plague.
We rushed to Sly’s shop, only to be greeted with the smell of death and sickness around us. Sly lay upon his deathbed, stricken with what could only be the plague. Sly’s only request was to find Dodger, who had gone missing as of late. Kark administered the Last Rites of the Dragon culture, and we set about our investigation.
I shifted to wolf form and began searching for smells to set us on the right path, while the rest of the party searched for other clues that might narrow down the search. The two suspicious items we encountered were a formal gown that smelled heavily of Dodger, and a bag of coins that appeared to be from the Sapphire Isles.
As we left the shop to look for more clues, an elderly Minotaur across the street beckoned for us. He claimed he knew of Dodger’s disappearance, and after trying to extort money from us for the information, Kark used his physical abilities to soundly intimidate, and most likely cripple, the old bull. He mentioned seeing a merchant alchemist, Feroth Silver, harassing Dodger just the other day.
We also learned that the gown came from a boutique in the fancier section of Labyrinth’s merchant’s ring. Markus was familiar with the place, so we took our investigation there. After talking with the shopkeeper we learned little that could lead us to Dodger’s whereabouts, so we proceeded to the shop of the alchemist Feroth Silver.
The shop was closed up when we got there; it took a little convincing for him to let us in. Feroth was agitated from the start, and as he turned around to go behind his counter, we noticed the mark of Isin upon his neck. He began to grow more and more irritated that we wouldn’t leave, eventually having a psychotic break and falling to the ground. As he fell he dropped a vial of what seemed like acid, melting through the floor. Feroth kept muttering, “You’ll never find the children.”
We bound Feroth as we searched his shop, discovering muddy footprints and signs of a struggle in the back room. There was a blackthorn in the footprints, which we identified as coming from a valley in the Steel Mountains, specifically in the Black Forest. We took Feroth with us and chained him up in the wine cellar at Kark’s manor.
We travelled to the Vile Marsh in the Black Forest, determined that we would find Dodger and these mysterious children mentioned by the alchemist. After a day of trudging through the muck and dense foliage and finding nothing, we set up camp, and I used my survival skills to find us a relatively dry area and basic supplies. The next day’s search proved more successful, Markus and I were about to discover a clearing in the forest, filled with war machines and numerous mercenaries, with child slaves working for them, and our very own Dodger enslaved as well. We began to set a plan in motion to bring this vile camp of Isin to a close.
Markus and I targeted the archers in the trees first, Markus using his shadow stepping to get up behind one, and I used my raven form to fly into the other archer’s tree. Markus knocked the first archer out of the tree, alerting the camp to our presence, this signaled the rest of the party to charge into the clearing. The slave masters gathered the child slaves around them like human shields, the children seeming to be under some sort of hypnotic trance.
Malakai created an illusion of children that weren’t working, but unfortunately it was overshadowed by Markus’ distraction with the archer. Kark summoned an illusionary double of himself and used it as a clever decoy, at one point jumping through it to sow even more confusion in the combat.
I struggled with my target, being somewhat ineffectual in raven form; I landed on a branch next to the archer, and proceeded to shift into bear form. I knocked the archer out of the tree after a short struggle, and leapt from the tree onto the archer, crushing his chest, and eviscerating his neck for good measure, I then went to join my companions in the fray.
Markus used his shadow daggers to cut the neck of another foe, but sadly also struck down one of the child slaves guarding the slave masters. A whip around the neck then strangled him, and as he fought to escape the clutches of the slave master, Malakai used some fancy wizardry to teleport the whip off his neck and also to deflect an incoming arrow.
When they saw the tide of battle shifting against them, the slave masters offered peace. I took no chance of deception and mauled the first one that surrendered, my hound finishing off another. As the rest of the mercenaries dropped their weapons, we accepted their surrender.
After a failed intimidation of one of the remaining slave masters, we noticed the children all had the mark of Isin on them, only lower on the back, indicating the location of the mark may correlate to the amount of free will the subject has. We also found gems on the slave masters equal to the number of slave children.
We decided to try and remove the mark from one of the children, however our surgical expertise was less than satisfactory and we brutally injured the child we took the mark off of. Removing the mark did remove the influence of Isin, but instead of performing surgery on 25 children, we tried smashing one of the gems, which also removed the influence.
We took the children and Dodger back to Labyrinth, freeing them from Isin’s grasp and delivering them back to their families. After returning to Sly we found his condition had only worsened. I fear Sly is not long for this world if we can’t find a cure to this plague.
We broke the gem that held the alchemist under Isin’s sway, and he was most grateful for freeing him. Having completed our task we left for the City, but on the way back I received a message from Starfall. The blue lichen had reached Starfall Village. I left my companions and headed straight for the forest, with plans for them to meet up with me after they were through with their business in the City. I pray that I can save my home from this vile affliction.
I must apologize for my actions. In the heat of the moment of battle, I jumped into your people’s sacred fountain without thinking.
We started out meeting you both in Starfall Forest, where you informed us that our mission was to bring water from the Source to your Fey witches. Before that, we needed to retrieve your heirloom. The Urn of Eternity, I believe it was called.
Zane led us to your anscestor’s lasfoe, and revealed the Urn to us. Everything was smooth sailing until we reached the Wellspring of the Source. We found that it had been infested with huge spiders the size of 3 Karks. While we fought hard to exterminate the infestation, I brazenly followed you into the waters of the Wellspring to flank the last pest.
I’m sure seeing your homeland in that state shook you enough. My actions only exacerbated those feelings. I’m truly sorry, and anything I can do to reciprocate will be done. You are a true ally, and I do not wish to lose anyone from our party. Especially now, with the news of Sly’s passing, and then the combonation of Trusk’s illness and human child, Kark will need your guidance more than ever.
Your friend and ally,
Part I - The Betrayal - Logged By Kark
...I do not know where to begin. I am lying here, recovering from an ordeal both physical and mental, the likes of which I have not encountered before. This all started when I and my companions arrived at the Wharves. Or at least, what is left of them. The plague has not been kind to the City, it seems everything south of Beggar’s Cove is smoldering. They are burning bodies openly in the streets now and the docks have been closed. Well, closed to most. We meet Prince Terrian and Maester Wren at the Wharves, where we board the one ship that has clearance to leave the harbor: The Falcon.
Maester Wren gives us this enormous scroll that will help us find the 2nd Sigil and Prince Terrian informs us that we are to take it to one Yuglef Red Spear, an alchemist. He will use the scroll to find the sigil we seek, and we are then to return with it to the palace immediately. As our plight is dire, we must leave at once. We bid farewell to the Prince and Maester and board the Falcon. There we meet our captain, a dragon by the name of Jelad. He leads a skeleton crew of humans. And I do mean skeleton. These humans are thinly dressed, despite the cold of winter and have barely a bit of flesh on them. I was skeptical they would see us safely to our destination, and I was right, in the end.
Jelad is a boisterous dragon, and he seems to take great joy in informing us that he has rechristened The Falcon as The Whore’s Teat. Sid is less than amused at this change, at which I fact I take a bit of amusement. This is the last bit of amusement any of us will see for quite some time, I fear. We eventually make our way to the hold where we will be sleeping and safely stow the scroll in an overhead sack.
The days pass uneventfully at first, but slowly all aboard the ship who have eaten the food and drank the water grow ill, I included. If I do not normally like the sea, I abhor it when I am ill. Jelad informs us that apparently, three of his crew has died from this illness. I care not for the lives of these humans, but I was concerned that there might be a hand behind this sickness. Apparently one of the crew had seen a man standing over the water reserve for quite some time, without moving at all. This human was not the most reliable witness, but he was all we had. We spoke with Jelad about this only to discover that the man was a priest of the Crone that Prince Terrian had authorized to join us on this journey, but for what reason he was not told.
Jelad tells us that his crew is uneasy and the perpetrator must be found and thrown overboard. In fact, he doesn’t even care if we throw the guilty party overboard, as long as we make an example of someone.
My companions decide to speak with the human who saw this, though he has now fallen ill with the same sickness that killed his fellow crew. Sid goes to speak with him, but I wait outside. I cannot abide to be in the living quarters of such filth, even more so when they are diseased. According to this wretch, the priest was in the galley after lunch the day before, standing over the water barrels for quite a long time. Not much to go on, but we decide to go and investigate the barrels for ourselves.
Once we arrive, our resident poison expert, Markus checks around the barrels. He discovers a fine powder that he determines is from the venom sacs of Mist Wraith Spiders, up by the Shroud. My companions feel we should confront the priest directly, but I feel that this might be the wrong decision. A priest of the Crone, especially one held in such apparent regard by Prince Terrian, would not be going around poisoning water barrels!
Apparently this priest heard our discussion and came out to see what was going on. He was a very old Gorgon, wise and respectful. He wore nothing but the robes of the Crone, and he informs us that the Crone showed him there was evil in the water. He was standing over the water trying to tell what might be the cause of the evil, but he was without luck. My companions are not convinces of his innocence, but I know a nameless follower of the Crone would never resort to poison like this. I thank him for his time and make plans to meet later to pray and meditate with him.
We decide to go and speak with this human again, and discover that he hails from a location south of the Shroud. Sid believes this human is innocent, but I feel it is much more likely that a human would attempt to kill us than a humble priest of the Crone. We search him, but find no Mark anywhere on his body.
I feel we should turn this human over to the captain, but Sid is not so sure. He is still accusing the priest! I swear, at times that Fey can drive me crazy, but he is a faithful companion. And in the end, it turns out neither of us were right. We go back to speak with the captain, where Sid actually accuses him of poisoning his own crew! After a short debate, the captain demands we bring forth someone he can toss into the ocean to settle his crew. Though he is not happy with the decision, Sid and Malachi go to fetch this human. This is the right thing to do, as his life is worth much less than even an old and dying Gorgon’s.
There appears to be a bit of a storm rolling in, and Sid and Malachi return to the deck with this human in tow. He says something to Sid and then throws himself into the ocean. As noble an end as he could have hoped for, I suppose. Unfortunately, it is at this point that things take a turn for the worse. As soon as the human hits the water, dark shadows begin pouring over the sides of the ship and the storm intensifies. The crew and captain flee as the shadows begin hammering against the mast. My companions and I leap into battle, forcing the shadows back from the mast. I summon my Chi energies in an effort to force the shadows away, but it is to avail. The mast crumples to the deck to reveal that our supposed friend, Markus, was working with shadows! Oh, the dagger of betrayal I felt!
He laughs, and as the shadows swirl around him he disappears through the deck of the ship. The scroll! He is going for the scroll! Sid dashes ahead of us and we make our way down the dark corridors of the ship, still being rocked in the stormy seas. Markus is already in our cabin with the shadows, seizing the scroll. Sid tries to fight him for it, transforming into a mighty bear, but it is of no use. Markus throws one of his shadow daggers directly into Sid, though thankfully his injuries are minor. At this point, the floor is on fire from the lanterns that have crashed to the deck and eventually the boards give way.
Markus disappears below decks once again and we rush after him, lost in our rage. It is incredibly dark down here, we can only see hints of the shadows and Markus, trying to punch through the hull of the ship and bring us to the bottom of the ocean. As we attempt to fight them off, we try to reason with Markus, tell him we can help him, we can get the Mark off! He only laughs and says that he has no Mark. Isen is his true master. With this, his shadows finally succeed in filling the hold with water, and Markus disappears along with his shadows. We barely make it above decks before the ship fully sinks, though we thankfully find some wreckage we can cling to as we slowly make our way towards the shore.
And now, I must rest. The poison, combined with the days in the water, has left me weaker than I would admit. My companions have gone ahead without me, to see if they can track Markus down before he finds the 2nd Sigil. All I can do now is pray to the Dragon that one day we can have our vengeance on Markus, that once friend. That betrayer.
Part II - Temple of the Lost God - Logged By Sid
As we clung to the remnants of our ship, still ringing from the fresh betrayal of our former companion, we began to lose hope. The frigid waters threatened to consume us, adding to the misery we all felt. How could Markus do this to us? I trusted him like a brother! Isen had attained the location of the sigil, the power of Markus’ shadow abilities, and worse yet, the full knowledge of our abilities as well.
The night waned on, and just as we were about to give up, a symbol of hope appeared on the horizon. A vessel was approaching, and we made a desperate attempt to be seen. To our elation, the ship did come to our rescue; we were brought aboard by a handsome young Resulk by the name of Lucien. Might I say, the stories of Resulkian beauty hold true! Lucien informed us that Yuglef Redspear had sensed our peril and sent him to find and rescue us. After drying off and finding our quarters, we fell into a troubled sleep, haunted by dreams of betrayal and vengeance.
During the night, we awoke to quite a commotion. The 2nd in command of Lucien’s ship was attempting to kill Malakai as he slept. Before the would-be assailant had time to carry out his task, Lucien had plunged a dagger into his back. We examined the body but found no Mark of Isen upon his flesh. Whether he was a voluntary servant of the Frost Giant or this was a personal attack we will never know, sadly the dead are less than conversational. Lucien promptly took out the trash, throwing his corpse overboard. The 1st mate position was quickly filled by another eager deckhand, and we continued our journey to find the sigil before Markus could get his hands on it.
We arrived in the Tellian Steppes the next day, just after dusk. We then proceeded to meet with Redspear in his underground dwelling. Well to say dwelling is a bit of an exaggeration; it more closely resembled a hovel or a crypt. Redspear explained that he had abstract visions from time to time, and those led him to the discovery of a temple that could lead us to the location of the next sigil. He had had Lucien scouting the area, searching for where this temple might be. Lucien had determined that the entrance must be above the Hopeless Cliffs.
Our goal in sight, we found lodging in the docks region, Lucien bought us all a private room. Kark had fallen a bit ill from the violent journey we had taken to get here. The sea didn’t agree with him to begin with, even less so when he was forced to float upon flotsam until rescue. We left him with Redspear so that get could recover in time for our final push for the sigil. In the morning we were loaned Erenfell horses, and a pony for myself. They were glorious animals, highly intelligent and expertly trained. Redspear also gave us climbing equipment for the journey up the Cliffs. Lucien led us out from the city, across the vast plains of the Tellian Steppes.
After four days of travel we arrived at the base of the Hopeless Cliffs. Gazing upon the rock formations I knew we had a difficult climb ahead of us, they named those cliffs appropriately! I spent the day in raven form, scouting up the cliffs for an acceptable path to follow and committing it to my superior memory; the next day we began our ascend. I led the charge up the cliffside, using my amazing climbing skills. Things turned against us however, I failed numerous attempts to make progress, and with all the wind, rain, and complaints from my companions I seemed to have forgotten the path I planned the day before. About halfway up the cliff, stress and exhaustion seemed to claim Lucien, he suddenly began spouting plans of ludicrous intent. He just rattled on and on about ideas that were clearly idiotic in nature, and when I asked him to focus he claimed his name was Maximillian, not Lucien. I should of known his ravishing good looks were a cover for his deep-seeded insanity.
Through all our troubles with the climb we did eventually reach the top of the Cliffs. We stood before the entrance to what could only be the Lost Temple of the False God, two Gorgan statues stood to either side of the doors, and with our history of ominous statues I knew a battle was soon to ensue. As expected the statues sprung to life, and we began a perilous combat upon the edge of the Hopeless Cliffs.
Lucien/Maximillion cast a rune under the statues that caused them to explode into flames, but it seemed to have little effect other than blackening them a bit. Thanos nimbly dodged out of the flames at the last second. I surrounded myself with my deadly insects and shifted to my trusted bear form. At the same moment Malakai casted a haste spell on me, turning me into a lethal killing machine. One of the statues swung at me, but was cast aside by my insect cloud. Malakai encased the other statue in a block of ice, a fancy new trick he acquired.
LuciMax threw his dagger at the statue near me, and then it recalled back to him afterward, quite a fancy piece of equipment if I do say so myself. He then proceeded to shoot out daggers of shadow, uncannily similar to Markus’ abilities. Could it be that this man possessed similar powers? With the betrayal of Markus so fresh in our minds, it was a hard revelation to accept in the heat of battle. To make matters worse, he missed with his attack and plunged both daggers into my back.
Thanos corroded one of the statues with her acidic sonic attack, weakening it just enough for Malakai to swing in and caved it’s chest in with his escrima sticks. Thanos activated her fire aura, setting our weapons alight with flame. I proceeded to viciously shatter the statue I was dealing with, setting it scattering into broken pieces. Malakai quickly finished off the corroded statue, bringing the fierce combat to a close.
In the rubble of the statues we saw two glittering objects, a ruby and a sapphire. Upon approaching the door we noticed four slots in the door in each of the cardinal directions. An inscription over the door read, “May Malon bless our allies, the Resulk, and the Minotaur.” We placed the sapphire in the East slot, as that’s where the Sapphire Isles lie, and the ruby in the North slot, to correspond with the location of Labyrinth. As we placed the second gem in the slot an anvil sprung up from the ground in front of the door. The top of the anvil was partly covered in runes, with the other part covered in fine sand. This puzzle was oddly reminiscent of the one we encountered in my ancestor’s Lasfoh. Following the pattern of the runes we drew the next rune in sequence and the ancient door slid open, revealing another barrier behind it.
Behind the door was a solid greenstone wall, with an elaborate mural upon it. The mural depicted a Gorgan and Fey walking hand in hand, showing the cooperation the two peoples once shared. Thanos and I placed our handed upon the wall, and it slowly slid away to reveal the chamber behind it.
Before us was vast chamber filled with lush flora, and a magnificent cherry tree in the center of it. Upon a log beneath the tree sat a lumbering figure, clad in ancient tattered Samurai armor. I greeted the figure, and he shuttered awake and rose up, his hulking form towering about me. “More have come who seek the map and key,” he said. He explained to us that long ago and his companions had come here seeking the location of the sigil as well, but they had fallen prey to the demons that lurked further in the temple. His love had fallen to the demons, but in her last moments she bound their life force to the map and buried it beneath the cherry tree. We were given a choice, to fight the samurai for the map, or to head deeper into the temple to fight the demons and recover the runes that fell with his love’s body. We chose the demons.
We proceeded down the hole into the darkness below, in search of the Samurai’s fallen companion. When we got to the bottom flying imp-like demons immediately swarmed us. In the opening moments of the combat, Thanos and Malakai were stricken down. Maximillion and I fought desperately to beat back the demons, my stinging armor dispatching any that got close, and Max’s returning dagger taking out those at a distance. We were eventually able to fight them off and recover the rune. We helped our companions back to consciousness, and returned to the Samurai.
Sadly the rune’s magic seemed to have faded over the centuries, it failed to recover the Samurai’s love’s life force. We were yet again faced with the choice of fighting the Samurai in our horrendously weakened state, or walking away, letting Markus gain the sigil. Clearly we could not let the latter happen. Maximillion, in a sudden brash move, set a rune under the Samurai, doing negligible damage. The Samurai responded by nearly killing Max with a brutal attack.
We quickly tried to reason with the Samurai, and just as were about to give up hope, we mentioned Isen and the war that was brewing. This struck a cord in the old Samurai; he had also once been embroiled in an effort to stop the Frost Giant. In the hopes of helping us stop this evil, the Samurai sacrificed himself and his love to grant us access to the map and key. The lush vegetation began to recede and the cherry tree wilted. We got what we came for but at a dire cost. I said a prayer to the Traveler to guide the two companions on their next journey, and we left from this place of darkness, finally able to pursue Markus and end his treachery once and for all.
Part III - The Lost Race - Logged By Malakai
The Final Log Entries of Malakai Kraznik
That bastard! How long has he been playing us? How long has he been playing both sides? That prick left us for dead. We just spent the last 2 days floating on the remnants of the destruction wrought by Markus. If it wasn’t for this Captain Lucien’s vessel happening upon us, we would surely be dead. Now to get some sleep and prepare to try and catch up to the Traitor before he gets to the sigil.
I fear that we’ve given the Traitor far too much of a head start. Thank the Dragon that Mr. Redspear was able to get us this replacement map. I’m not letting it out of my sight. It’s going to be another 3 days journey, and I fear the Traitor will be long gone when we arrive.
He’s even begun to haunt my dreams. These nightmares are always the same. I’m tossing the sick seaman from the North overboard while laughing. The Traitor is there egging me on. Telling me he’s guilty. When I turn around to face him, the ship is engulfed in flames, and the Traitor is cackling like the madman he is. Suddenly, I’m falling into the black, empty embrace of the cold ocean. Barely visible shapes swirl around me. Suddenly, they swoop in to attack me. At which point I’m jolted back to reality, left with a cold sweat and a taste for vengeance.
We’ve followed the Steel Map and landed ashore on the southern coast of the continent. The marshland into which the map led us into was like a half-sunken maze. If it wasn’t for Sid’s wolf form, we would have been covered in sludge before the first clearing. The whole area smelt like the inside of a damn boot. That reminds me, I wonder if poor Trent ever sold that damn thing?
We were able to bypassing couple patrols, composed of what looked like orcs, when we arrived at an overgrown, stone outpost. I was intrigued by what was left of the two-story structure, but there’s no time to itch my archaeological urges. There were a pair of guards outside the entryway that we had to take care of first. Kark, Lucien, and I were able to flank from their sides and ghosted them, while Thanos and Sid (in his bear form) easily handled the other two guards they found inside. We hid their bodies, lest a wondering patrol should happen upon them.
That’s when we found him. A Gorgon was caged in the corner like an animal, dressed in rags, surrounded by the corpses of two others, and raving like a lunatic. Kark and I could see that he bore the Mark of Isen. Even though he was flailing in Kark’s monstrous grip, we were able to free the Gorgon from the Traitor’s handiwork.
When he regained his lucidity, he introduced himself as Aaron from the Winterlands. The forces of Isen had invaded his village, and took him into slavery. He aided the invasion forces, led by the Shadow Warden, to recruit dark elves into his ranks. When we pressed for more information on this Shadow Warden, Aaron described him as a Fey with a Labyrinthian accent. There was no doubt among the Five in that moment. This Shadow Warden and the Traitor were one and the same. And now, we have his scent. Aaron usefulness did not end there. He led us to the hidden door, where the Shadow Warden had entered with 30 elves, not eight days prior. With Redspear’s key, we open the door, we send Aaron back to the ship, and press on.
We found ourselves within a dense briar forest, with only a single path to follow. After following it for what seemed like hours of nicks and scratches, we’re led into a clearing where about a dozen robed men are praying around a shrine of the Prince. On the statue of the Prince, he’s holding a wand that looks remarkably like our key. Wary of a trap, Thanos bears the key and approaches the monks. With her excellent diplomacy, she was able to peacefully talk with the monks, and they informed us that they were the Brotherhood of the Prince, guardians of the sigil.
The welcoming committee took us to meet their leader, who was a man named Asai. Apparently the Traitor had come through 8 days prior, and Asai and his followers had no choice but to let them pass. Before I could call him a damn coward, he told us that they are just keepers, and that the Shadow Warden and his men still had to face the trials ahead. Asai seemed confident that the Traitor had not yet obtained the sigil, because he would have had to leave the way he entered.
Good. We’ve got the bastard.
Asai then entertained each of us with a private audience where he promised to answer any questions we may have.
Thanos chose to ask tactical questions about the Shadow Warden, which saved some of my questions. Lucien was given a cryptic message about his family, but refused to elaborate on the specifics. Kark was given a vision of the future, where he foresaw terrible tragedies: Lucien being hunted by assassins, the City shut down with the plague, the Princess kidnapped, and the whole continent cover by the mist.
I asked how to remove the sigil, since the Traitor can’t figure it out. I also inquired about the Mouth of Sin. Asai told me about a mystical mirror that could give me the answers I seek. After everyone rested for the night, I visited the mirror. Asai led me into a small room, and in the center was a free-standing mirror, covered by blanket. Thanos unveils it and I stare at my own reflection. After a moment, the image shifts and the mirror shakes with a loud grumbling. I see myself fleeing from Isen. My haggard reflection reached out of the mirror, and pleaded for a potion. A request which I dumbfoundedly acquiesced to. My reflection quaffs the potion, and the image fades. I collect my jaw from the floor, and we leave the room.
We’re now leaving now to face the Shadow Warden and his forces. They’ll surely be entrenched and expecting us. The Traitor will not leave this enclave while still drawing breath, if I have anything to say about it. May the Dragon bless this battle, and rain fire on our enemies.
Part IV - The Shadow Warden - Logged By Thanos
It’s hard to believe it’s been one month since we lost Sid and Malakai…. We are back in Labyrinth waiting to have a ceremony for our 2 fallen comrades. The night before the ceremony I wake up in my room, at least I think it’s my room it is in total disrepair. Where am I? It’s filled with smoke and a very horrible stench, what in the world is that smell? I first reach for my loyal dagger, where’d it go!!?? It’s never supposed to leave my side. Next to my table is a candle, I light it and go to the hall hoping to find out where I am. I can hear voices it sounds like Kark and Thanos are here as well. Do my eyes deceive me Sid and Malakai are also there, but how can he be? They are both dead!!! They do not recall dying, I think to myself who would actually remember dying anyway? Where ever we are it does not appear to be of this world. As we look around we notice a hallway that should not be there, we walk to the end and we find a door covered in dials, and symbols. None that any of us are familiar with, we look around for any type of clues. I check behind a painting but I find nothing. The group decides that we should continue exploring this place. We go downstairs, the smell is overwhelming, and the front door is chained closed with a lock on it. It looks like someone or something does not want us to leave this place. There appears to be a fresh trail of blood on the floor where something was dragged off into another room. A few of us swear that we see a figure pass by the light. We see something that appears out of place, I know I have only stayed in this house for a short time but I swear I have never seen a trap door there. We continue on into the kitchen, the first thing we see is a door covered by flesh that has been stretched across it and appears to have a hole in it with the symbol of an eye over it. I collect a few knives to have some sort of weapon. After Sid peaks through the door a small child appears out of nowhere, a human by the name of Alexander, says he has lost his mother. Sid feels the need to protect him, I don’t trust him. We decide to check the trap door, as we head down the slick ladder we hear animal sounds and the loud thuds of a butcher hard at work. We start walking down a tunnel; the tunnel gets smaller and smaller to the point that we are crawling. When we get to the end we see a body hanging from meat hooks. He is no one that I am familiar with. The others refer to him as Sly, perhaps an old friend? There is a package on a work bench, Sid opens it, it contains an eye and a blood soaked note that is addressed to…. Me? Why on earth would something here have my name on it? Sid hands it to me and I read it to myself, “Finish the contract and I will release you” I have no idea what that means. I only have one contract and it came to an end a month ago with the death of the wizard. I tried to get rid of the note but Thanos threatens me so I give it to her. She reads it aloud and they begin to question me. I let them know that my business is my own, the small amount of trust that I had earned is gone now. We find a small tunnel, small enough that only Sid can fit through. After fighting with Kark about going through it Sid climbs in, we wait for a few minutes and Sid comes crawling out. He says that at the end of the tunnel he found a way to the outside of the house. Kark won’t allow him to go back with the candle while we wait so Sid decides to split from the party and go through the tunnel. We hear noise from upstairs so we head back. When we get to the kitchen a table has been overturned and we find giant muddy hoof prints. I decide to look through the flesh door and I see 3 faceless figures, their heads are turned up with their mouths open, almost waiting to be fed. I attempt to cut open the flesh door, the figures scream loudly in pain. Thanos decides upon further inspection of the door that we need an eye to put in the hole that is in the door. We all recall the eye that we found and left in the basement. I decide to grab the candle and run back down alone to try and get it. As I exit the tunnel I notice the body is no longer on the hooks, where’d it go? No time for that, I find the eye and head back to the tunnel, before I get there a demon appears and starts to yell my “name” Lucien Delenoth and says my family is cursed, I yell back saying my family is not cursed and then it begins to crawl towards me, I fall down and the candle goes out… I panic, I try lighting the candle and through the flash from my flint and steel I see the demon come closer and closer. The demon grabs ahold of my leg I throw a knife at it and miss, I keep trying to light the candle, as it lights the demon retreats back. I rush back upstairs. Fear has completely taken over me; I cannot go back down there. As I climb out of the trap door I realize I dropped the eye, I yell out of frustration. I have failed. We decide to try the upstairs again; we find an open window and the yard is covered in hundreds of ravens, it looks like we cannot go out the window or they will attack us. We know we can do nothing upstairs without knowing what the symbols are. We go back downstairs and one of the faceless figures is lying at the bottom of the stairs and it latches on to Thanos and tries to snap her ankle. I try setting a friction rune underneath the monster but nothing happens, the shadows have left me helpless in this place. Kark stomps down hard on the monsters head and kills it, as I dies we hear it say “ I miss my mommy” was that the child Alexander… Malakai and Thanos go back down the trap door to retrieve the eye, this place seems to really be effect myself and Kark we decide to wait for the others by the entrance of the trap door. Once they are back with the eye I slam the trap door closed and put furniture on top of it, that demon will not be able to come back up now. We place the eye into the flesh door, it instantly relaxes and Kark pushes it aside like a curtain. We are all expecting to see the faceless figure but instead we see a back yard as we walk out into it Sid lands next to us. How in the world did he get here, his arms are covered in linen apparently a way to protect his arms from the briar bush he had been climbing. All of a sudden Alexander is back, Kark and I are completely against him staying with us after what happened at the bottom of the stairs. Sid refuses to leave him. Thanos sides with Sid and so we continue on with the possible monster with us. We enter into a maze, between Sid and me and our masterful navigation we make our way through the maze. We eventually come across two men; Kark seems to recognize one of them he yells out Trusk, one of them men then transforms into a massive Minotaur. Kark tries to reason with the creature he calls Trusk. He has no luck, so we run away. We find a stone hut, the creatures home perhaps. While we are looking through the hut Trusk catches up to as and roars loudly with rage. Kark goes outside to face him head on. He is either the bravest person I have ever met or the dumbest…. The outcome of this fight will determine that one. Trusk yells “Bring me the wizard to pay for his sins!!” Trusk drops the cleaver that he had been carrying and charges at Malakai, Kark charge into him just as he is about to hit Malakai and knocks him off course. Kark then wrestles Trusk to the ground, Sid tries to grab onto a limb to help keep him down, I try using one of the knives to stab him in the throat but it doesn’t work. Out of the corner of my eye I notice the cleaver; I yank it from the ground. Trusk sends Sid flying off over one of the hedges. I raise the cleaver over my head I swing it down with every ounce of strength I have. I cleave his face practically in two, with his dying words he says there was more than one traitor in the group. We find a key and decide to try it on the lock that was on the front door. As we get the door open we find 5 graves and one more that has been partially filled. There is one shovel, I decided to find out what is in this grave, we open the coffin and a shadowy creature crawls out, Markus perhaps? He points to the grave I fight through the fear and jump into the hole and find a piece of paper with the last of the runes on it. We make our way back upstairs so Malakai can work on the door. Once he has them all aligned they turn into a statement written in Common, Malakai is death, over and over, the door is covered in this statement. The door opens and we notice that it is the room beyond the flesh door with all of the faceless creatures; they all appear to be praying towards Malakai’s direction. We try to make our way through them, they reach out and grab onto me, I collapse to the floor. I’m awake back in my room, it’s still filled with smoke, I reach and find my loyal dagger and run into the hall. I see as mage “in the name of Isen” I step behind him and plunge my dagger deep into his throat. This nightmare has finally come to an end…..
Well, there we were. Finally laying our two brave friends to rest. Markus and Sid would finally be at peace. We had wanted to wait for the Traveler’s Moon, for their souls would find their way home easier when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest. We went to the glorious Church of the Dragon in the City, where the great Dracolith himself would be residing over the ceremony. Words cannot do this church justice, all I can say is that I am awestruck every time I see it, as if I was seeing it for the very first time. There were just a few of us in attendance, as not many were privileged enough to know the true Markus and Sid. I, Thanos and Lucien sat with the Queen and Princess. One of the Queen’s Dragon Knights was seated behind us and there was a group of the Traveler’s priests with a human child in their midst. I didn’t pay him much attention, but he seemed oddly focused on the goings-on.
The Queen ascended the dais to speak on our friends behalf. She spoke of their glorious deeds and all they had done to protect her and the kingdom. She spoke of the statues that would be erected in their honor in the Hall of Heroes in Labyrinth. When she finished, Dracolith stepped down and touched the Dragon Fire to our friend’s remains. My head was bowed in prayer, but the alarmed murmurs of those around me brought my attention up. The Queen’s amulet had suddenly started glowing brightly, as was the Princess’ ring! A spark then shot from the ring directly into the amulet, causing an explosion of darkness. Suddenly before us there was a hole in space, as if someone had rent the fabric of this world as if it was an old shirt. Before any of us could react, tiny flying demons shot out of this horrible void. We are barely able to stand before these monsters are upon us, scratching and clawing at our faces. Dracolith shouted for my aid, but there were too many of these creatures for me to begin moving towards him.
Thanos had begun moving toward the Queen, who we could see was being dragged by these creatures toward the hole. She is not quick enough, and the Queen is suddenly gone. Thanos and the Dragon Knight, whose skin has taken on an odd sheen, immediately jump through the portal after her. During the battle, we had noticed something odd. The human child with the Traveler’s priests had been using nature magic, much like our departed friend Sid had used. As Lucien and I made our way to the hole to follow Thanos and the Knight in pursuit of the Queen, this human approached us and had the gall to inform us that he would be joining us on our quest. Laughing, I demanded to know why he thought he could last a second inside of wherever this dark portal led. He looked at me in a way no human ever has; without fear. He then said the words that are still troubling my mind to this moment: “Because I’m Sid”.
Could it be? Sid, our fallen companion, brought back to us in such a twisted way? I could not deny that he had displayed certain abilities in our battle, but the gods would not be so cruel as to torment us with this facsimile of Sid. I could not let on that I was so troubled, so I laughed at his assertion and demanded he stay behind. I moved to force him to stay, but his priestly companions stepped forward and warned me away. Not wanting to begin a battle on another front, I relented. On Lucien’s advice, we decided it would be quicker to just allow this….. person to follow along behind us, and whatever happened would happen.
Finally advancing through the portal, we were immediately sunk into the thickest darkness imaginable. I revealed the amulet we had recently enchanted with the light of the sun, and much of the area around was revealed to us. We were in a dense forest, and could barely make out Thanos and the Knight a ways ahead. We called to them, and they hurried back. We introduced them to “Sid” and Thanos introduced us to Alexis Makarovic, a Knight of the Guard. With these greetings completed, we begin making our way through this ever-thickening forest. As the forest begins to naturally lighten, Thanos stops us: she had heard something. Peering around, we are suddenly surrounded by a group of what appear to be Pure Fey. We could not believe what we were seeing, never had any of us heard of such a large group of any of the Pure races still left in the world. Human-Sid attempted to speak with them in their own tongue, but they laughed him off, wondering why anyone would teach a human to speak. They demanded we drop our weapons, which most of us did readily. We were obviously outnumbered, but Thanos always has been a bit stubborn when it comes to relinquishing her bow. We informed them that we were on the way to save the Queen, who had been abducted by those damnable Imps. They told us they would assist in our search, but only after we agreed to be bound and hooded and taken to their camp. After a bit of deliberation, we agreed. There was really no other choice.
We eventually found ourselves in a large tent, chained to a massive post. We waited there for what seemed about an hour, discussing what could be going on with where we were, and with this human claiming to be Sid. Most of my companions were convinced, but I was still skeptical of his claims. After some time, more pure Fey come in and unchain us from the post. They lead us outside, where we see a huge war camp in the valley before us. I cannot believe that such a gathering would have gone unnoticed in the wider world. We are led to the command tent where we meet a pure blood Gorgon. He is magnificent to look upon. He questions us as to who we are and what our purpose is here. He makes references that we do not understand to a King who has recently died. He does not seem to understand what we mean by the Queen being captured, either, and has never heard of the City. As we begin to put the pieces together, a pure Resulkian joins us in the tent. I must say, as beautiful as the Resulk are in our time, this man was indescribable in his beauty.
He made his way around to each of us, resting his hands on our heads and seeming to sense the powers that rest within us, even in human-Sid. He goes over to discuss what he has sense with the Gorgon and they reached some sort of decision about us. They turn to us and introduce themselves as General Vanderson and Greensmith. Greensmith! Could it be?! We are in the presence of greatness, those men who fought and died to prevent the destruction of our world. But how? How can we be here? Never in our travels had we come across a way to manipulate the flow of time such as we were bearing witness to. Unfortunately, our hosts cannot shed any light on this either, but we decide that we must see to rescuing our Queen and imprisoning Isen in this time. It seems that is where she was taken; to the Frost King’s lair.
We discuss the Sigils with Vanderson and Greensmith, it seems they have just finished placing most of them and just need to weaken Isen enough to imprison him in the Mists. We agree that we will help them in this matter, as what we do here could save our world. Lucien hangs behind as we leave the tent to discuss something with the General. I gather that are somehow related. It must be odd for him, to meet his great ancestor in such a way.
The next morning we wake early, break our fast and review the journey we have ahead of us. Looking over a map of the realm, we see that are standing where the great City will be built in our time. In fact, it seems that we crossed over into this time in the exact spot where we were in our time. My brain is still reeling thinking about this. It seems our journey to the Mists will take us about a week and a half and we will be guided by a Fey known as Lithiel. We will be journeying into Winter, so we take care to prepare ourselves for the cold road we have ahead.
Our journey is unremarkable and we eventually find ourselves at the caves of Isen. Apparently Minotaurs have been tunnelling here, attempting to break into Isen’s realm from an unexpected direction. As the door is opened, I am greeted by a sight I never thought I would see: a pure Minotaur. At first, I am overwhelmed and offer my humble greeting. But I am rebuffed with laughter, as they think us nothing more than some new human species created by Greensmith. Their taunts ring in my ears even to this day. Perhaps… perhaps those who came before us were not as pure as I have always thought.
We move past these Minotaurs into the caves, where Lithiel blesses us before he departs. Moving deeper into the caves, the cold becomes almost unbearable. Luckily, human-Sid seems to have the same astute directional sense that he did when was a Fey. Between him and Lucien, we are never guided off the true path. We eventually find ourselves in a small room filled with ice, with two corridors leading off. Down one we hear nothing, the other, a slight tinkle as of icicles hitting the ground. We cautiously make our way toward the noise and slowly come into a cavern. In the center of this space on a raised dais we see our Queen, trapped in frozen cage! Her head has been shorn and is covered in tattoos, among which we see the Mark. Fearing all is lost, we make our way into this cavern. As we near the cage, tremors begin shaking the ground beneath us. Looking around wildly, a giant figure appears from the darkness behind the Queen.
Isen! Standing more than 7 yards tall, he towers over us with a great axe clenched in his mighty fists. Fighting all of our instincts to run from this monstrosity, we move towards him instead. Thanos dashes ahead to the Queen and Sid disappears I know not where. Dodging Isen’s great blows, Alexis, Lucien and I do what we can to slow the giant down. Lucien is using his flames to some success, but before too long Alexis is hit but by one of those mighty blows. We get a bit of luck when Lucien places a rune on Isen’s chest which I activate with a mighty spear thrust, but it appears to be too late. Not having heard from Thanos as to what is going on, I am suddenly hit by the fiercest blow ever dealt to me. I fear I have been rent in two, but before I am completely destroyed, Sid is there. He forces a potion of healing down my throat and erects a giant thorny barrier between us and Isen. I have no more doubts: no matter his form, this is Sid. My friend has returned, and with him I feel my strength returning also!
As I get to my feet, prepared to give all I have left in this battle, Isen falls! It seems that the power of Sid’s thorny bush has done him in. Overjoyed, we make our over to free the Queen, but as we pass Isen, he begins to stir. Wasting no time I raise my spear to deliver the killing blow upon this loathsome beast. But just before I commit to the attack, the Queen raises her head and shouts to stay my hand. Demanding an explanation, we make our way over to her. What she said next still makes no sense to my mind.
Apparently Isen is the Queen’s ancestor. He was the first to unite the realm, but a great evil came by the name of Melan. None of us have any knowledge of this name, but the Queen says that Isen must exist to keep this Melan at bay. It appears that “Isen” is a name that is passed down the royal bloodline, as each ruler must eventually take the previous one’s place in the Mists. But the King of this time had died prematurely and so this time’s Isen had reached across the impossible to fetch our Queen to replace him. The poison she had been subjected to earlier was driving her transformation into the Frost Giant. We are at a loss what to do, but she says she will stay and become trapped, staying Melan and the Mists a bit longer. But she orders us to find a way to stop her in our time, as her mind will degenerate to the point where no longer remembers her past self. She also cannot stand the thought of her daughter eventually becoming this monster and pleads with us to stop this cycle once and for all.
We cannot argue with our Queen, and so, using the power of the amulet she returned us to our time. The following conversation with Prince Terrian was most… uncomfortable.
As I write these words, we are fleeing from The City, a place I had come to call my home. These mists that now move over the lands give us shelter from searching eyes as we try to figure out where we should go from here. So much has transpired these past few days, but I will try to put my thoughts down as best I can remember. Hopefully in doing so, I can make sense of what we’ve seen.
Last time I wrote my thoughts down, my companions and I had just returned from seeing the Queen give herself over to becoming Isen. We had finished explaining all we had seen to Prince Terrian as the royal maesters applied their healing salves. He seemed remarkably calm, and explained to us about Alexis and what had happened with Sid. Then, upon hearing that the next Sigil was likely below the very church we were standing in, he hurried us down into the lowest levels of the crypts. Moving down to levels that seemed to be untouched for centuries, we found ourselves blocked by a wall of stone. Not willing to turn back now, Alexis and I broke through to a chamber containing two tombs, with a pedestal holding a small stone box between them.
Over the tombs, there were two names written. Above one: Greensmith. Above the other, a name we found hard to believe: Thanos, our very own companion. Opening the gate to Thanos’ tomb, we saw on the sarcophagus an image of a Gorgon, details worn dim by the march of time, and a few words that were still legible: “A valiant Gorgon who died…”. Opening the sarcophagus, we discovered the body had long since turned to dust and inside was an old, twisted piece of wood with an iron ring bound around it. The ring bore Thanos’ family crest and matched the one on her bow. Not knowing what to make of this discovery, we turned our attention to the stone box. Upon opening it, we discovered a dried maple leaf inside with a rune somehow embedded in it. There was also some ancient writing on the box, so we returned to the palace to see if Maester Wren could translate it.
As we waited for Maester Wren’s translation, Price Terrian informed us he was gathering supplies and mustering his army for a march against Isen. As he was discussing these plans with us, Maester Wren summons us to his chambers. He has identified the leaf as one of the Sigils, and successfully translated the writing on the box. It seems that it was a message intended for us, from Lithiel, our guide in the other time. His message said that he watched what happened between us and the Queen and relayed this information to Greensmith. They were able to defeat the Queen/Isen, and then worked with the maesters of that time to come up with a long term solution. What they came up with was Fos Runes, which are these Sigils we have been searching for. By consuming these Fos Runes, we would supposedly keep the mists at bay, though that didn’t exactly work out as planned.
While we discussed this matter, a man ran in demanding to speak with Prince Terrian. Labyrinth was under siege and the mists have broken through in the north. Isen’s army was on the march. We had a long discussion about our next move, and eventually it was decided: we would stay in The City and protect its gates. We rest that night, preparing ourselves for the battle that is sure to come.
The next day, we equipped ourselves and took position at the Crone Gate. Lucien laid down some runes on the field to slow down the army and Alexis gave a speech to the commoners who had been conscripted into the army. I don’t yet know him well, but he was quite inspirational and the men seemed greatly heartened to hear his words. As he finished, we noticed the watchtower had been light, the sign that Isen’s army grew near. The mists advanced ahead of his troops, covering everything with a deafening silence. Riding up to the gates, we were challenged to stand down and join Isen’s army. What he said must have angered Sid greatly, for I have never seen him so enraged as he shouted down to the commander. What a sight it was to see this Orc riding on a great Warg cowed before the words of what to his eyes was only a tiny human!
But with these words, the battle was on! Never have I been in such a fray before. Lucien’s traps were going off everywhere, Sid’s defensive walls were funneling the enemies into our kill zones. They were eventually able to get a couple of siege ladders up, though we were just as quick to push them down again. The battle was going well, but before much time had passed we heard Maze shouting up to us below. It seemed the Dragon Gate had fallen before Isen and our orders were to retreat to the castle. As we made our way back, we encountered some archers and a few Imps, but we were able to make our way through relatively unscathed.
As we reached the castle, it seemed we were too late. The gates were smashed and covered in a layer of ice. The halls were freezing cold. It seemed Isen had reached the castle before us.
We hurried inside, making our way to the throne room. Upon entering, we saw Princess Amelia off to the side of the throne with the Prince lying on the floor, seemingly dead. And there, standing in front of the throne is the Queen! Not Isen, but the Queen we had known, dressed in the clothes we had last seen her in, though now she was covered in a layer of ice. She steps down towards us, raising her hand. Sid tries to speak with her, but receives no response. As she gets closer, we can see she is wearing the amulet and has the ring on her finger, and appears to have two small objects underneath her robes. The last two Sigils!
As we continued to resist the Queen’s influence, she became enraged and suddenly there were ice Demons all around us. We fought them off as best we could, but the Queen had started making her way towards the Princess, who we hear say she “has to do it”. At this, Alexis stepped in between the Queen and the Princess, but in doing so attracted the attention of all of the ice Demons. In the midst of all of this, Sid was able to knock down the Queen and we began using all the fire attacks we had at our disposal, chipping and melting away her icy armor. Finally, we are able to grab the Sigils but just as Alexis and Lucien consume them, we see that it wasn’t the Queen under the icy armor, it was Princess Amelia!
Reeling from this trick, we quickly turn towards who we thought was Princess Amelia, but who was, as it turned out, the Queen hidden behind some sort of sorcery. We try to remind her of who she is and what she told us, but she is no longer the Queen we knew. Declaring herself rightful ruler of the realm, she transforms into the frost giant Isen before our eyes. This battle would be one of the most trying battles we had yet undertaken. We were lucky that Isen made a fatal miscalculation, mistiming a swing of his great axe and losing his weapon and the use of his arm all at once. This proved to be the opportunity we needed as struck the killing blow. With that, all of the ice melted away, leaving only the Queen behind. We stood there, waiting for the mists to recede. We had consumed the Fos Runes, defeated Isen, surely we had won? But no. It was not to be so easy. The mists increased around us, though we did all feel a strength growing inside, perhaps some gift from the Runes. We thought maybe this would allow us to force back the mists, but they only grew thicker. We heard shouts of “Traitors!” and “The Royal family is dead!”, though it took a moment to realize that the guards were coming for us. As we ran from the throne room, we saw etched into the Queen’s chest the words “Melon lies”.
Now, I must rest. We have a long journey ahead of us, leading to who knows where. I will not write for a while, my heart is too heavy. May the Dragon give us strength to survive whatever may come.
Five years. It had been five years since the tragic events at the palace. Five years since we went on the run, and left our old lives behind. Five years since we became wanted criminals for saving the world. The mist never receded back to the shroud. The world was now the shroud. Some days were better than others, ranging from a light fog to a layer of mist so thick that you couldn’t see 3 feet in front of your face. This was the consequence of our failure. The deception of Malon brought the kingdom to its knees.
In that time we fled to the only place we felt we’d be safe, the hidden settlement of the Asai. We spent the years helping out where we could, tending the farms, building new structures, anything the Asai needed really. Lucien drifted in and out of the settlement, spending much of his time bartending and keeping tabs on the outside world for us. I helped Kark with some personal matters, and helping him overcome some of his more racist outlooks. I’ve slowly started adjusting to my new human body. The extra height and muscle is a plus I must say, I certainly see the value of humans that our ancestors appreciated. I am grateful that consuming the sigil restored some of my Fey characteristics however; at least I still have some semblance of my old form.
We were tending the fields when the outside world found us. Well, most of us were, Lucien was lazing about as usual while we did the manual labor. We overheard the sounds of an argument near the entrance to the settlement. Lucien snuck away to find out more, assuming the form of an Asai with his morphing ability to go unnoticed. When he returned he told us there was a party of four Dragon soldiers as well as a knight that were harassing the Asai people, looking for the Mirror of Fate. It was inevitable that someone from the outside world would find us eventually, but we weren’t about to let our Asai hosts be harmed on our account.
Lucien went to diffuse the situation while we prepared for battle. We decided on an ambush point to have Lucien lure the strangers to. I summoned my hounds and duplicated myself to attempt to retrieve my equipment in time. As the rest of the party scrambled to get their things, the situation was quickly deteriorating at the front of the settlement. Lucien’s negotiations weren’t going as planned. Losing patience, the Dragon knight in charge killed the High Priest of the Asai. Lucien fled the scene to rendezvous at the ambush point.
At this point another mounted stranger that we couldn’t see before stepped out and activated what looked like animated statues, but I had never seen anything quite like them. Completely clad in iron, with gemstones for eyes, these abominations looked like they would prove a real challenge for us. The soldiers began moving house-to-house, searching for the mirror. If they didn’t find anything they set fire to the building. We knew we had to act soon.
We set up a new ambush point, waiting for the soldiers to enter a house. At this point I called up a thorny bush in front of the door to trap them inside. With the enemy party diminished, we made our stand. Alexis leapt from hiding and awed the leader of the group, whom I assumed he recognized because he shouted his name, “Belen! You and your men are not welcome!” Upon hearing this Belen was immediately locked in fear. Alexis then shot metal out and bound up the two Ironclads. My hounds went to work attacking the legs of the horse that the stranger controlling the Ironclads was riding. One of the Ironclads struck Kark’s shield and was immediately engulfed in a friction rune that Lucien has placed on it. Alexis rusted the arm of one Ironclad, while Lucien sent another friction rune under the other one.
Kark began moving faster than I’ve ever seen, striking out at his enemies while unbridled determination. At this point my hounds took out the legs of the horse, and the stranger fell along with it. When hit the ground his hood fell, and I saw a face I’d not seen in five years, Maester Talion. He shouted, “We’re only here for the mirror! We don’t’ want to fight!” I found that hard to believe, and sent my hounds upon the general. They proceeded to maul his legs, crippling him. Talion took this opportunity to hide behind his fallen horse. Thanos used her mind control to seize Belen’s will, commanding him to lay down arms. He obeyed, commanding his troops to cease the attack. I attacked him once more, for good measure. No one attacks and burns innocent people and their homes without consequence. “Sid! Be polite!” yelled Thanos.
Once the soldiers laid down their arms, we began to have a conversation with the Maester. He proceeded to tell us not to destroy the now deactivated Ironclads, and that General Yukovicks was now in charge of The City. He had been mass-producing these machines ever since he took power. He’d also completely cut off The City from all trade; in face almost all the major cities had closed their borders since the mist spread across the land.
Talion was only with the soldiers as a researcher, he was looking for the Mirror to see if he could deduce a way to stop the mists. He told us Maester Wren had an idea to push back the mist, and that he wanted us back in action. Apparently the sigils that we consumed were meant to eliminate Isen. Malon has made them to control his generals during the Great War. Together, he thinks that we could be able to utilize the same power that Malon had over the dark sigils. Talion wanted us to sneak into The City, place the mark on Yukovicks, and control him to get him to cease his power grab. He told us of a man called the Mistwalker, who could slip in and out of The City with no trouble. He attacks the wealthy and works for no pay.
Kark took this opportunity to meditate on our next move, while Alexis went to interrogate Belen to find out any more information we may have missed. During the course of the interrogation, Alexis killed Belen, and good riddance I say. Once his meditation was through, Kark questioned Talion a bit longer, and then we rested on our new knowledge.
We stayed for the burial of the High Priest, who had been such a gracious host to us these past five years. We then set out for Labyrinth with a new plan in motion. Lucien would go ahead of us to spread word that we were a wealthy caravan carrying food to a military base. We bought a wagon and horses and traveled the road to the base. The Mistwalker came upon us at night. I was in the wagon waiting for his arrival, while Kark kept watch outside. Suddenly, thick smoke flooded the area, choking the two of us. Once the Mistwalker saw the contents of our wagon, several pots filled with mud, he quickly took flight to the nearby woods.
Thanos, Lucien, and Alexis set off after him, while Kark and I desperately recovered from the smoke attack. We quickly followed after, eventually meeting up with the group in the woods. Having lost his trail, I set my hounds to tracking him, using the remnants of the smoke bomb for the scent. We followed his trail to a cave, Lucien morphed into the form of Maester Talion before entering. We found the Mistwalker leaning over a notebook, scribbling into it. He seemed to recognize Talion, and greeted him upon our arrival. We told him of our intention to get into The City. In return for his assistance, we had to do something for him, pull a heist on The Granary.
I guess this is what we are now. Outlaws. Thieves. I’m writing this as my companions and I are taking a few hours for rest after we broke in to the Governor’s mansion late last night. We have only a short time before we are being forced to meet with a local who is extorting us to help him rid his village of a goblin menace.
This all started when the Mist Walker told us that in order to lend his aid and get us into the City (a task I am still not sure I wish to undertake), we must first acquire a number of food vouchers for him. Apparently these vouchers are used by the people of the realm to “buy” food from specific vendors. There’s some rotating color system which is still unclear to me, but regardless of how the system works we needed to retrieve a specific number of specific colored vouchers for the Mist Walker.
We passed through Rivertown uneventfully on our way to the Granary, with the help of Sid and Lucien’s disguises. Lucien was also able to sell our horses for some of these new vouchers. I suppose we’ll need to have some of those around if we wish to eat. We set up camp on the road that night and the next day we set out towards the bridge into the Granary.
As we neared the bridge, Sid set out in raven form to do a bit of advance scouting. He reported two guards on the bridge that seemed to be talking to the various people as they crossed the bridge. We decided it would be best to wait until night to have the best chance of passing through without being recognized. We also split into two parties, and Lucien took on a new form. We passed the guards without incident, though Sid did seem to hit it off with one of them and he gave us directions to the best inn in town.
Thinking it prudent to see if we could get a feel for the town, we decided to try our luck at the inn. As Sid spoke with the owner and mingled with the crowd, I stood watch by the door. It was a cold night, but nothing I wasn’t used to. I eventually made my way towards the fire after Sid informed me there were no rooms available, though the inn keeper had offered to allow us to split a large room with a gentleman who had reserved the entire room just for himself. I stood by the fire a while, praying and meditating. Some minotaur was pestering me for news from Labyrinth, but I had nothing to tell him. How I wish to see the walls of my city again.
As we were all resting and enjoying some of the ale offered by the inn, Sid spoke with the man who had rented out the room and came to an arrangement so we could share the room with him. His only request was that we keep quiet and keep to ourselves. A strange man, I wasn’t ever truly comfortable around him.
Lucien went out that evening disguised as an old man and Sid went out the next day as a raven in order to determine what sort of defenses we would face trying to get into the Mayor’s house. As we were waiting for Sid to return from his scouting expedition, a dragon in the clothes of a commoner approached us at the inn. He was quite nervous, and claimed that he recognized us for who we were and would turn us into the city guards if we did not cooperate with his demands. We feigned dumb and tried to get rid of him, but he was quite persistent. We eventually agreed to meet him at noon the next day when he would lead us to his village so we could rid them of a goblin problem they were facing. I only wish this poor soul had approached us with kindness instead of fear, I would have gladly helped him and his people of my own free will. But, I suppose this is what we can expect out here in the world.
That evening, using Sid and Lucien’s reconnaissance, we made our way to the Mayor’s mansion. The back entrance seemed the best bet, and Thanos was able to take control of the guard’s mind so we could incapacitate him and Lucien could take his form. We then cautiously made our way into the kitchen at the back of the house, where Lucien stood guard while the rest of us made our way into the cellar, where we could only assume they were keeping the vouchers.
It was a small cellar, with a large steel door at the far end. Thanos made quick work of the luck, but it was trapped and a puff of fine white powder covered her face and eyes, blinding her momentarily. I pulled her back from the door while Alexis opened it. I heard him gasp and looked up to see one of those monstrous ironclad creatures moving backwards in the room. I left Thanos there and moved to help Alexis with this foe. We managed to grapple on to the beast, halting his process towards what I now saw was a rope of some sort, most likely attached to an alarm. Sid pulled the rope away while one of his doppelgangers (this is still a most frightening thing to witness) grappled on to the ironclad with me and Alexis.
Thanos seemed to have regained her sight as a couple of arrows found their way to the ironclad’s chest, though they did not seem to have much effect. Alexis and Sid-2 were thrown from the beast’s arms a couple of times but managed to grab back on before he could make any progress towards the alarm. After a few seconds, we heard Lucien come up behind us and he quickly stabbed his dagger deep into the ironclad’s crystal eyes, though not before taking a swift kick to the chest. It didn’t seem to do much damage and the creature collapsed to the ground, defeated.
We searched the room we were in and quickly located most of the vouchers we needed, though we were unable to locate any red vouchers at first. There was a safe under the table which I, feeling incredibly dexterous, was able to open quickly using one of Thanos’ lock picks. A small needle came out and pricked my hand, but I have felt no ill effects from it. Likely it was not created with my hearty constitution in mind! Inside the safe we found the red vouchers and took what we needed.
We then made our way quietly back out of the house without incident and retreated to wait for noon the next day. I must rest now before we awaken to meet our blackmailer. I must be honest, I am quite looking forward to crushing some goblins!
A short entry today, before we head out from this small village to bring the stolen vouchers to the Mist Walker. We came here after being… convinced by one of the locals that it would be in our best interest to rid them of a goblin problem that had been plaguing them for a short while. We arrived not too long ago and made our way to the cave where the villagers said the goblins had made their nest. Upon approaching we startled a couple of guards and chased them inside where we quickly dispatched them and their brethren. After a bit of looking around and taking care of a few more of these unpleasant creatures, we found some captives who had been taken from the village, as well as some food and a few vouchers. We sent these poor souls on their way and continued further into the cave.
We were there on a mission, but by the Dragon did it feel good to be under the earth again! We finally found ourselves in a large cavern with a river running through it. It was also filled with goblins, hobgoblins and some kind of half human/half goblin abomination. We waded through these creatures, making slow but steady progress. Sid’s bushes of thorn clogged the way for both the goblins and us, and Thanos (somehow) made her way up to a mage who would have caused us great trouble if not for her efforts, of this I am sure.
As the battle began winding down, Sid fell after sustaining a number of great blows, as did Lucien. Alexis made his way over to the ramp leading up to where Thanos had finished her battle against the mage, but as he was on his way over, she fell down next to me. I was turned back to the bridge by the sound of Alexis’ cry as goblins swarmed over him, stabbing him about the face and eyes relentlessly. Those of us who were still standing, or who had been able to get back on their feet, finished off the remaining goblins, retrieved the rest of the stolen provisions, and healed up our fallen comrades. We then made our way back to the village where we were received with much joy.
Unfortunately, they do not have much in the way of healers out here, so we must saddle Alexis onto a horse as he has been stricken blind by his injuries. We will make our way back to the Mist Walker and see if any aid can be found there. May the Dragon’s fire safely light our path.
If I never step foot into the blasted Granary, it will be too soon. I had assumed we would have some time to rest and heal when we returned to the Mist Walker’s cave, but he only had a few healing potions, though between those and what the rest of us had on us, we were able to heal Alexis’ eyes and bring Sid back to a fighting strength. We spoke with the Mist Walker and he told us there were still some things he needed before he would be able to get us into the City. I must say, I am still incredibly uneasy about the idea of tattooing something on another conscious being with the intent to take control of them. Especially when we have only seen this mark used by the servants of Isen, and on top of which we only have the word of a Maester we haven’t seen in five years reporting the words of another Maester we haven’t even seen yet. For all we know, Maester Wren is dead and this is all some elaborate ruse. I feel in my bones that I will not be able to be a part of this quest, and I fear this will cause a great divide in our small group.
Anyway, the Mist Walker informed us he needs both an artifact from the tomb of Amon Ra which will allow the one who wields it to walk through solid stone. The other thing he needs is from a Minotaur witch who makes her home up in the Steel Mountains. She apparently has some magics that allow one being to perfectly emulate another, down to speech patterns and behaviors. Unfortunately, her location is always fluid and we were told we had to meet a man at the Granary, who we would give some information to in exchange for the witch’s location.
So, we made our way BACK to the Granary and waited at an inn outside town while Lucien went ahead in disguise to meet with our contact at the Blueberry Inn, the place we had stayed last time we were in town. After he did not return for two nights, we decided to go there ourselves, fearing the worst. We made our way across the Peace Bridge without incident, though we were asked to peace-bind our weapons this time. We did so without fuss and went to the Blueberry Inn in search of our friend.
We inquired after him in the inn, and the barmaid told us she had seen him there recently and that he had left with one of the local prostitutes. While we were speaking with her, Sid went to speak with the man we had shared a room with last time we stayed here. From what Sid said, he wasn’t very happy to see us back again. When Sid came back over to our table, we noticed the man disappearing upstairs. Suspicious, Sid and I followed him to see if he might know more than he was letting on. Alexis and Thanos decided to check outside the inn to see if there was any evidence where Lucien might have gone with the whore.
Upstairs, Sid and I spoke with the man through his door as he was unwilling to open it for us. Finally convincing him to speak with us, we reached an agreement wherein he would tell us what he knew about Lucien in exchange for some silver and that we would run an errand for him. It seems he is in search of a tome of some sort that is hidden in a cavern to which he has a map. We agreed to these terms and he told us what we already knew about Lucien and the whore, but also that he was heard talking with a large dragon wearing goggles as well as many other farmhands.
With this new lead, Sid and I met up with Thanos and Lucien, though it seems they didn’t have much luck in the alley as there was just a stubborn old beggar who reported that someone had been killed and thrown in the river. Deciding to try our luck at the smaller inn back near the Peace Bridge, we made our way down the lane. Reaching the inn, we spoke with the barmaid and learned the name of our goggled Dragon: Gregore. With nothing else to go on, we head back to the beggar and Alexis and I are able to… convince him to tell us what he really saw. It seems that Gregore was there that night and he kidnapped Lucien, though not without a fight from the sounds of it. Lucky for us, this beggar also knew where Gregore lived. Paying him for his time we found our way to Gregore’s house. We let ourselves in and had a look around while he was out working in the fields. We don’t find much, just some papers promising payment signed by different people, the most recent being signed by one Jasper Silverleaf.
As night falls, Gregore eventually shows up. Thanos is able to quickly place him under her control and we bind him to a chair and question him regarding Lucien. It seems he was contracted to kidnap Lucien and deliver him to this Silverleaf character who placed him in some sort of booby-trapped dungeon. I disabled Gregore and we made our way over to Silverleaf’s mansion to free our friend.
Sid worked his way in through the back door and we waited outside to see what he could find regarding Lucien. After a few minutes, he hadn’t yet reappeared so we went inside in search of him. It seems that he had fallen through the floor using his wood-walking abilities and cracked his skull on the basement floor. We went down the ladder to tend to him and saw Lucien there in a cell with a ceiling of spikes hanging over him. Alexis begins to bend the bars, making a space for me to step through and grab Lucien. While this is going on, we hear someone entering the house and making their way into the backroom where the basement entrance is. Lucky for us, Thanos was quick to act and stopped him from triggering the trap in Lucien’s cell.
Given the extra time I pulled Lucien out and with Sid’s help got him up the ladder and outside. He seemed to be suffering the effects of some sort of poison and we were unable to fully revive him. Thanos was able to recover his gear from inside the house, but his dagger was missing. While we were doing this Alexis had given chase to who we suspected was Silverleaf. As Alexis tells it, he chased him down, dragged him into an alley and questioned him regarding Lucien. It seems he had some old grudge and was able to determine who Alexis was by using some enchanted goggles that revealed the true nature of whoever the wearer looked upon.
Alexis made some sort of deal with Silverleaf to ensure Lucien’s safety and was also able to recover his dagger. I’m sure Lucien will be grateful once he awakens, but I for one am growing tired of his antics, as they have cost us time that would have been better sent searching for this Minotaur witch, whose whereabouts we are still no closer to discovering!
It has been a trying couple of days, and I must admit as I reflect on the happenings, the details are evading me, seemingly clouded in mist. Perhaps this has to do with the nature of what happened. We had finally made our way to the old Minotaur witch, who apparently lives in a bewitched house deep in the valleys and hills of the Steel Mountains. She seemed to have foretold our coming as she was not at all surprised to see us, nor was she too surprised to learn what we were after. Unfortunately, it seems like a potion to make one person an exact duplicate of another takes quite a bit out of a person. She could do it, but first she required something of us. She said there was a necromancer who used to live down in the Infinite Dungeon but who had recently been chased from the city by the guards, deep into the Black Forest. This necromancer has something she wants, some artifact called the Eye of Heraldres. Obviously, Thanos and I knew who she was speaking of, and it seemed this witch also knew of our relationship with this necromancer. She had me and Thanos go into her house where she prepared a potion that would give us some level of protection against the curse the necromancer had placed on us. He would get three tries to kill us, and then on the fourth he would succeed. We retreated back outside and relayed this information to our companions, as it served no further purpose to keep this detail from them.
We stayed the night in that valley, in some enchanted tree beds the witch conjured up. I must admit, the rest I received that night was better than I expected, considering I was suspended in the air. In the morning, the witch’s house had moved on, leaving nothing except some large footprints in the snow. An odd woman indeed. We then began moving towards the Black Forest and had reached the edge of the woods by nightfall. We made camp and set a watch, for which I drew first duty. I spent some time in meditation, watching then woods around us when suddenly I was blinded by a flash, as bright as the midday sun, and I fell into unconsciousness.
When I awoke, I and my companions had been transported into a clearing in the middle of the woods, surrounded by a light, creeping mist. In the middle of this clearing stood a large door, unsupported by any visible means. As we stood studying the door, a small rabbit appeared, white but for some black spots of decay covering his fur. We were quite taken aback when spoke to us. He said his name was Horatio and that he had been killed by the creeping mist and forced into service of the necromancer. However, he said he had and some others had regained some of their free will and were attempting to rebel against the necromancer, most notably someone named The Builder. Horatio said if we went through the door we would find ourselves in the necromancer’s realm: The Necropolis. With the mist quickly closing around us and seeing no other options, we opened the door and stepped through.
What we saw next was a large, open area covered in graves. Off in the distance was a tower, lit by the light of a full moon which had not been there before. As we began making our way toward the tower, Alexis carrying the rabbit on his shoulder like some sort of undead pet, Horatio informed us there were two entrances through the wall surrounding the tower. The main gate at the front would be heavily guarded, but there was a smaller gate around back which we could use to enter the courtyard undetected.
Feeling a growing sense of dread with every step, we eventually came upon a river of… something. Whatever was flowing through this land, it definitely wasn’t water, at least not anymore. With no visible way across, Horatio informed us that The Builder lived close by and would be able to assist our crossing. The “rabbit” led us to the cave where The Builder makes his home, but as we approached it seemed the necromancer’s forces had beat us there. The Builder was trapped in a small cage outside the opening of a cave, with two primitive creatures guarding him. Thanos shot a couple of arrows into the cave in an attempt to split the two creatures apart, but they spotted us and charged forward. We moved up to meet them and made quick work of those sad, unfortunate souls. After that, we were able to free The Builder from his cage, for which he was grateful. As Alexis moved in to help him down, he reported seeing a strange vision but none of us paid much heed to what he was saying. This land was quite disturbing and he couldn’t be faulted for a moment of mental weakness.
We made our way back to the banks of the “river” and The Builder raised some kind of corpse bridge from the vile sludge moving beneath us. Crossing as quickly as we could we then hastened to the forest, which Horatio informed us would lead to the back gate. However, when we began moving through the forest it was obvious some sorcery was at work. The path seemed to go on and on with no end, on top of which the light was getting lower and it was becoming harder to see what was around us. Thinking of bringing a little clarity to our situation, I drew out my enchanted amulet, but as soon as the light appeared Horatio screamed to put it away and we heard a screech in the distance such as I’ve never heard before. It sounded as if a great boulder was sliding down a glass hill. I shall never forget that shriek. I quickly extinguished the light, and we moved away from that spot as hurriedly as we could. Horatio informed us the necromancer had some sort of fell beasts in his employ that were attracted to light.
With this new information in mind, we moved down the well-used road we had spotted, though we stayed to the sides and as out-of-sight as possible. What happened next I still do not understand. We found ourselves outside of our old manse! There were crows covering everything and an open grave in the courtyard, just as we had seen in the soul gem. We cautiously approached the grave and saw a coffin with its lid removed. As we gazed on this, a shadowy figure arose from the grave. It was Marcus! As if this was not enough, who did we see coming out of the front door of the manse by Lord Caspien! Sid tried to approach him but Marcus, or whatever the thing was, moved to stop him. At this point I had had enough. I pulled back out my amulet and the shadow retreated from the light. The fell creatures shrieked and were upon the manse quickly, landing directly in front of Lord Caspien. Concealing the amulet, we dashed away back down the path and suddenly emerged from the forest in exactly the place we wanted to be.
A wall that I can only describe as being made of flesh towered over us. We moved around it, trying not to come in contact with any piece of it. As we approached the back gate, we noticed a lone goblin guard. Lucien attempted to surprise it, but got himself caught on one of the appendages emerging from the wall. The startled goblin moved to go inside the gate, I assume to alert his comrades when Thanos shot him quickly with one of her arrows. The wound dropped him to the ground and Lucien was able to finish him with a dagger before he could alert the other guards. We moved up to the gate and discovered it was open. In the courtyard is a grouping of tents and some dark shapes moving between them. At this point, visibility is quite low. A number of our group is able to reach the tower without being noticed, but we do have to take out a couple of the guards who seem some of the rest of us.
Finding ourselves inside the tower, we began climbing. There wasn’t much inside, just some empty rooms. As we reached the fourth floor, we finally found something of interest. A single bed, with the necromancer’s wife. Lucien and I stay with the body, with the thought of using it as a bargaining chip if we do meet up with the necromancer.
The others make their way to the top floor, where we hear muffled discussions and some apparently heated discussion. Sid later told me they found a chest containing the Eye for which we were searching, a diamond, and a mirror. Horatio said this mirror could return us to our world, but there was some debate as to whether or not to use it. As they were discussing this, the necromancer made his appearance. He didn’t seem interested in fighting, he just wanted to bargain. He had no need for the eye, but it would not work for those who were not worthy. He said we must defeat his minions below and then we could take possession of the eye. We agreed to his conditions.
What happened next is hard for me to remember. As we fought the creatures below, it seemed as if reality itself was breaking down around us. I remember defeating the last one and the very walls of the world seemed to dissolve and we found ourselves surrounded by dead Labyrinthian guards. The necromancer had made us his servants after all. I grieve for those innocent Minotaurs slain by my hand. This necromancer… he will receive what is due him in time.
Well, we finally made our way into the port of Destrin, and I can safely say I wish to have no more to do with the sea. Praise the Dragon that the waves were calm and we were able to reach our destination without incident. We left the boat docked and paid a couple of the mercenaries to keep an eye on it while we went in search of this tome for Bernard. We didn’t know much about the place it was kept; just that it was some sort of ancient Gorgon temple. When we arrived, we discovered a small interior chamber that seemed to have been examined and then forgotten when nothing else was found. However, Bernard had told us we could find a secret entrance to deeper chambers that would hold the tome and banner. After a time, we were able to locate a sigil up near the ceiling, which Thanos was able to decipher as being the symbol for ‘pressure’. She hit it with one of her arrows and a door appeared where there was none before.
Past the door was a small chamber with a rough hewn hole in the floor, big enough to fit even me comfortably. Peering down with my enchanted amulet, I saw a sandstone floor a ways below. Using some rope Sid had carried in we made our way down to this lower level of the temple, not knowing what we would find. When we were able to start looking around, we found the room covered in thick cobwebs, with Thanos detecting some heat signatures down towards where the cobwebs were thickest. I attempted to cut through the webs with my sword, but it ended getting stuck and I was forced to yank it loose. As I was pulling my sword free, we heard a sudden noise behind us and quickly turned to face a large spider. It shied away from my amulet, but didn’t see too frightened of it. The beast quickly began attacking us and was shortly joined by another that had made its way through the webs behind us. Eventually, one of the beasts lay slain before us and the other had fled back into its webs. At this point, we faced a crossroads. We could either follow the knotted map given to us by Bernard, which would take us through the thickest of the webs, or we could attempt to find our own way around.
After testing the path which was not on our map, we decided to brave the webs and face whatever we found there. With Thanos dissolving the webs with her powers of voice, we were able to move relatively unencumbered through the webs, though it was slow going as the process wore her down quite a bit. However, as we neared the far wall we were set upon by the spiders once again. We hold them off, killing another one, before reaching the wall and finding another doorway to yet another room with a hole in the floor leading further down.
More cautiously this time, we descend and make our way through this lower level of the temple. The floor on this level was just sand, not the sandstone from above, so it must have been the lowest level in the place. We made our way into a room with two great stone doors at either end. When we were roughly half-way across, both doors slammed shut, too quickly for us to attempt to get through. As we stood, trying to figure out our next move, the sand below our feet began to come alive. It quickly formed itself into a giant construct that began blasting us with stinging sand and swinging its massive limbs at us. Thanos summons some power source from I know not where and is able to grant me massive size for a time. However, brute strength didn’t seem effective against this sand demon, though our fire and corrosive attacks did eventually take him down. After defeating the creature, we triggered another of the pressure runes and moved towards our next challenge: a room filled with pressure plates, ropes, and chains.
Touching any of these items triggered a massive gout of flame which would surely destroy any one of us where we stood. Luckily, our group was well-equipped to face this challenge as Alexis used his control over metal to dislodge all the chains and Thanos was able to use one of Sid’s runes to move across the pressure plates without triggering them and dissolve the ropes with her voice, just as she had the webs on the level above. When she reached the far side, she triggered a lever which then deactivated all of the remaining pressure plates. Taking some time to rest on the other side of the room, we then made our way into a burial chamber of sorts. The room was lined with Gorgon statues, with a sarcophagus at the far end. Alexis began attacking the statues, and I thought at the time he must have been dehydrated or possessed. While he was throwing himself at stone, Sid and I opened the sarcophagus and found the remains of an ancient pharaoh holding the tome and wrapped in a red banner.
I quickly realized Alexis had been wise to attempt to destroy the statues, for as I reached out to take the tome, they all came to life and began moving towards us all, while at the same moment, more of the sand creatures arose from the floor. My companions and I moved to attack, and while we were holding off the sand and stone monsters, Sid was fighting the pharaoh who had also arisen to protect his resting place. Lucien and Thanos are eventually able to turn the sand creatures back into their basic elements, while Alexis and I are able to use our strength to turn the statues into rubble. And Sid, praise the Dragon, was able to defeat the pharaoh at which point the remaining statues ceased their movement. After that, we didn’t waste any more time and quickly grabbed the tome and banner and made our way back to town to rest before heading out to the Tomb of Amon Ra.
Another odd one for this group, that’s for sure. We’ve just arrived back in Destrin after raiding the Tomb of Amon Ra, where we found what we were looking for, as well as a bit more…. Before we left for the tomb, we asked around the town for information regarding the area. We gathered that there had been a large amount of spirits coming from the tomb, and the City had sent some soldiers to drive them back, which they apparently did. Most of the soldiers left after the tomb was cleared, though some historians stayed behind with a small contingent of men to guard them. We also heard word of a massive board ravaging the country to the South, and Thanos had an unexpected run-in with her brother, who reported ill tidings regarding her father. As we recoup from our adventures at the tomb, we are considering where to proceed next.
Anyway, after we finished gathering what knowledge we could from the local population, we made our way to the tomb. Once we arrived, we cautiously scouted the area to determine what we were dealing with. It was set back into an embankment and we spotted three entrances, facing south. We were also able to spot some City guards as well as one of those iron golems they’ve been using. Finding ourselves drastically outnumbered, we settled back into a sheltered spot Sid was able to find and monitored the situation for a day. Alexis, due to his military and tactical knowledge, was able to formulate a plan based on the guards’ movements. Since Sid has the ability to remain relatively silent when needed, and has a bit of hand-to-hand experience, Alexis decided that Sid should move in under the cover of darkness to incapacitate the guard who was standing watch over the entrance furthest from the ironclad. After that was done, the rest of us would move in behind him.
I was to stay further back than the rest, due to my…. conspicuous nature . Though Alexis did give me the banner we had recently acquired which I could use to quickly transport myself to them if needed. It turns out it was quite unnecessary as Sid was able to handily remove the guard from the situation without incident. The rest of us made our way into the tomb, trying to remain as silent as possible as there still might have been guards around who we were not aware of, not to mention the ones sleeping in a tent just outside the entrance.
We didn’t find much inside the entrance, just a table and a chair, lit by a small lamp. There was a large chest that Lucien looked over, but he determined it was likely trapped and decided against possibly causing us distress. While looking the anteroom over, we discovered a hallway at the back and, with the lamp from the table, began making our way further into the tomb. What happened next was shocking for all of us, though Thanos took the brunt of the surprise for certain. As I said, we were making our way down the hallway, towards a light source we spotted at the far end, when we suddenly heard a voice behind us, “Who are you?” it demanded.
We feared we had been caught and quickly turned around, weapons at the ready, only to be faced not by a guard of the City, but by the shimmering spirit of a Gorgon. Not knowing what to make of the situation, we all paused a moment and then Lucien stepped forward to identify himself. I suppose he was hoping the Gorgon might recognize his family name, though the spirit gave no sign of recognition. However, when his gaze passed over Thanos, a look of great shock passed over his ghostly visage. “My queen!” he called out to her, “You have returned to me!” None of us knew quite how to respond to this, but Thanos stepped forward to discuss this with the spirit. As they spoke, instead of the situation becoming clearer, it was only further clouded. He claimed to be the spirit of Amon Ra, and that Thanos was his queen! Impossible, I would have thought just a few years ago. But after our journey back to when the races were pure, and our discovery of Thanos’ tomb underneath the temple in the City, nothing seems impossible any more
We spoke with this Amon Ra further, questioning him regarding his and Thanos’ relationship, as well as his knowledge of the staff and why he was still lingering in this world. He said he had known Thanos since she was a young girl, in a time long before the Great War. He went on to say that when he died, there was a cave-in as he was being laid to rest and the priests all died before they could give him his last rites. The poor soul. Trapped, abandoned, unable to move on to be with his god. I vowed then and there to help him pass on, as best I could. He informed me that he was a follower of the one true god, and seemed to have no knowledge of any of the gods we follow. Still, I would do what I could to help him pass on and be at peace.
He told us where we could find his tomb, and we made our way down the tunnel until we reached the main hall. Still fearful of being discovered by the City guards, we moved as quietly as we could towards to back of the hall, passing dozens of urns marked with an old symbol representing the Smith. I find this curious, as Amon Ra claimed to have no knowledge of our gods. Are our gods and his one god somehow connected? I worry as I have these thoughts, as they draw dangerously close to blasphemy.
Once we had reached the back of the hall, we descended a set of stairs deeper into the hillside. At the bottom, we discovered most of this level was collapsed and in ruin, though we were able to make our way towards where Amon Ra said we would find a secret door we could use to access his tomb. Upon arriving at this location, Sid quickly stopped all of us as he noticed there was a particular type of vine covering the walls which he knew to be quite deadly. Quickly using his knowledge of such things, he was able to render these vines inert, which allowed Thanos to thoroughly examine the wall and discover a thin outline of a hidden door. I leaned up against the door to see if it could be moved, and I suddenly felt the power of the Dragon flow through me and then, without even realizing how, I found myself on the other side of the door. Taking a moment to gather myself, I noticed a lever on the floor which proved to be the key to opening the door so the others could pass through.
From that point on, we encountered little resistance. We came on some rubble, though it was easily moved by Alexis and me. We then discovered Amon Ra’s final resting place. His sarcophagus was on a raised dais, and as we approached it, his spirit reappeared to us. I must confess, I was less than successful in laying him to rest, as the prayer I said seemed to cause him pain, not peace. This troubles me greatly, and I wish I had been able to help him further.
We were able to then open the sarcophagus and we all backed away and gave Thanos a moment. Lucien was unable to resist, and looked inside to see what treasures might await him. The rest of us were able to convince him that it was Thanos’ choice as to what we should take and what we should leave. We ended up with the scepter, of course, as well as a rune and a sword. She also discovered a song of power which she then played in a further attempt to lay Amon Ra to rest. Judging by the look I saw on her face, she was more successful than I. Once we had placed his sarcophagus in its rightful place, we quickly made our way back out of the tomb and exited the same way we had arrived. On our way back to camp, we thought one of the guards may have seen us so we broke camp with much haste and made our way back here, to Destrin. I still do not wish to return to the City yet, as I have not made peace with what we are told we must do. I will speak with the others in an attempt to delay our decision just a bit longer. There is a boar out there terrorizing and killing innocent people, and it is our duty to help them.