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[SPOILERS] BV Starfall Aria Notes by Andy (Author @aad)

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Episode 1

    Started off rope-tied together having been captured by a band of brigands. Tala’s pestering questions got us gagged, but before that I made a witty comment about a guard who likely gave me a look though I noticed nothing. Apparently we were deemed worthy of ransom, so we got the brig instead of a worse fate. Still bound, our stuff was removed though I kept my dagger secreted away. There was a noble in there with us, a Delwyn Strevengar, who was in shock and thus unhelpful. There was a commotion outside and I climbed onto Tala’s back to get a better view of the burning sky. I also sang a decent song to lighten the mood though the guards didn’t appreciate it. They couldn’t even beat the shield against the bars in tune, the ruffians. The boss, Big Sig, walked nearby and mentioned something about Wintervaeld and a noble woman, though at the time I doubted he could find the city let alone do business there.

    Then a pair of gnomes rushed in and broke out the noble, but since we were too noisy they kept us from going with them. I took out the dagger then and cut the ropes and we grabbed our stuff and ran away. Frysta teleported ahead, but when Tala and I were close to getting grabbed again she gave up following the gnomes to attack with her bow. Through a stroke of luck I saw a dilapidated staircase and directed the others to it with my strobing dancing lights. The staircase broke after us and we raced through the dilapidated keep. We caught a glimpse of the catastrophe outside, where the sky was falling and spitting black and white torrents of something. We ran on and found ourselves in a grand space, but it was full of those the bandits had murdered. Trying to run past them, the ceiling crashed down and a flood of crackling blackish magic washed over the dead, and they began to animate. We had to fight our way through, and Tala went down once before we could get out. I had to go through a list of uncles as my rapier attacks alternated between hitting and missing with shockingly even rhythm. Vicious mockery saved me from a hit more than once. Once free of that sickening place we ran out into a courtyard, where the sky itself fell on us.

    We awoke in a hospital of sorts, and there was a striking figure, an older priest, Brother Berigg, who said he saved us. We had been out for days apparently. And my drum was damaged! A crack appeared in the fifth note, and I did indeed shed a tear over that. Brother Berigg assured me it was repaired by a skilled craftsman, but I knew it would never be the same. A younger man, Brother Ainsel, came by and gave us food. Apparently we were in Llanmarec, north of Wintervaeld. 

Got touched by the falling star, gained a touch of shadow in the form of a curvy line from my wrist to my voice box. The ends of the shadow mark are little whorls, almost like music notes. 


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  • FallenAngelRidian changed the title to [SPOILERS] BV Starfall Aria Notes by Andy (Author @aad)

Episode 2

    In the healing room in the temple to Solanthra in Llanmarec, we were just meeting Brother Ainsel. When we started to ask questions, he called back Brother Berigg. He didn’t give us much information, and Brother Ainsel kept saying that we “are not prisoners.” I was getting the distinct impression that he did not want us to leave, which made me all the more determined to. He also mentioned a Cari person who was the one who saved us from the Mound. I picked up my stuff and went to the tavern; Frysta came with me for a drink. Tala went off to meditate or something. The tavern was a sad affair, nothing at all like back home at the Lights. The patrons were in a depressed mood, but the barkeep was nice enough. She wouldn’t pay me, but honestly I needed to play more for myself than for them. This has just been a crappy day, no, a crappy week. I tried playing Corzin’s fine flute, but my heart wasn’t in it. With some encouragement from Frysta I managed a better show on my drum, even with its new crack.

    Tala joined us after an hour, and she apparently talked to some travelers who said they haven’t traveled since the sky fall crisis began. Before that she also talked to a guard captain, Strolda, who wouldn’t advise leaving the town for fear of brigands and undead. By evening I made 9 copper, which was a little insulting, but that fit with my sour mood. I chatted with my companions briefly about our various marks; Frysta seems to think Brother Ainsel had something to do with them.

    We went back to the healing room where Frysta and Tala kept talking to Brother Ainsel. It became apparent Frysta had overheard some conversation between Brother Berigg and a Father Kailandros - something about a holy pilgrimage to find some relics. I snapped a bit at Brother Ainsel, but when he finally left, the other two couldn’t stop talking about everything. So, instead of sleep, Frysta got this idea to follow this priestly parade. So, I put my stuff back on and huffed out of the room with them. We snuck through the halls and overheard the Father talking. Then Brother Ainsel snuck up behind us and chastised us for sneaking around. He was very against us going, and my rebellious side wanted to go just for that. We talked Brother Ainsel away, finally. Then, in our infinite wisdom, we followed after the parade in the night. And of course we followed the road to the north, into a dark and creepy forest. Tala gave me a flower and then ate one. Disgusted, I quickly gave back the flower. Suddenly, two brigands were behind us. Large, half-orc fellows who said their names were Malibar and Dask. They weren’t the brightest, but Dask, or Desk, successfully avoided my Charm Person spell. With all the irritation of the day I gave the two brigands the what-for with my Dissonant Whispers. After that worrisome encounter we voted to return to the village. Sleep is a good thing. I used the pearl Sev gave me for a little extra spell slot on the way back. We got back in one piece, and seeing the bed I crashed.

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Episode 3

    Woke up, accosted by Master Folmar to go find their missing priests, Brother Ainsel knows we don’t really like him but is told/does go with us. We see Strevengar, the noble we met in the Mound jail, setting up a cart. He tells us he’s traveling to Wintervaeld with his gnome companions to secure his estate. We say good luck and head off with Brother Ainsel into the woods for the second time in a day.

   We hear some bandits up ahead, We decide to sneak closer, but I blow stealth and they see us. The captain mentions “rounding us up for Big Sig”, looking significantly at our marks. We attack, even though there are six bandits plus the captain! I tried to charm the captain but that totally failed. Brother Ainsel healed me which was nice of him. Tala made difficult terrain from Ensnaring Vines, which held some of them and certainly slowed all the bandits down. We killed five of the bandits while one escaped and ran off. Had a good talk with Captain Mhurren, whom I knocked unconscious, about the Krol & Company bandit gang that Big Sig leads; Bid Sig is still at the Mound. This larger gang is built out of many co-operating smaller groups, and if no one can vouch for you, you don’t get in. He’s apparently figured out a way to steal a person’s marked abilities which then kills the person. Mhurren had two brothers who died when he was young as they lived on the streets with another gang. He never tried to do anything else with his life. He says he knows nothing about the priest parade, though he also seemed to be saying he wouldn’t say anything if he did. My intimidating grin worked wonders on poor Mhurren though Frysta and I started to feel for the guy. We had a chitchat about the unspoken rules and etiquette of kidnapping people. Apparently the kidnappees are not supposed to ask questions. Then Tala “tripped” and hit him in the head and killed him, which made Frysta sad. Then a horde of undead rushed at us and we ran away, getting exhausted except for Brother Ainsel.

    Got to Ramsdale apparently, a deserted village in the woods. I went straight for the tavern, found some simple foods in the kitchen though most were spoiled already. We went to one of the deserted cabins and set up for the night. Brother Ainsel took first watch and I told him he wasn’t a complete schmuck before going to bed. Tala took second watch, and Frysta took third. Frysta made breakfast in the morning and said she heard some footsteps and a door open during her watch. Tala got concerned that Frysta wasn’t being careful enough. Tala also told off Brother Ainsel for knocking four times on her shell to wake her when once would’ve done just fine. Andy is grumpy in the morning. Tala follows the footprints to a larger house in the village, and just as Brother Ainsel knocks, a cloaked, medium figure appears behind us.

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Episode 4

    In the deserted village of Ramsdale. A middle-aged human man greets us. He seemed harmless enough, and he invited us into the big house. His name is Yorrin, and he was a hunter before the sky fell. He offered us food, and we, particularly Andy, happily accepted. As he busied himself in the kitchen Frysta looked around but didn’t find anything interesting. After bringing out the gruel Andy digs in, followed by Tala and then Frysta and Brother Ainsel. He tells us that he survived the sky fall event, but the townspeople either turned into undead and/or fled. He tells us of a darkness in the middle of town. He said he doesn’t know the bandits except he knows to keep away from them. He also said he hasn’t seen a priest parade. We offered for him to travel with us so as to not be alone, but he declined. Soon thereafter I notice a wooziness, but my companions kneel over, drugged and asleep. Catching on, I did a marvelous performance of also being drugged. Yorrin, the schmuck, puts us down a trapdoor into a windowless, dark basement. As he drags me he mutters regret at missing all those priests and how maybe even these adventurers, meaning my companions, will be useful. In the darkness of the basement I open my eyes, and Yorrin is not there. I cast my Dancing Lights to see in the pitch darkness, and there are others down there too. A half-elf called Felix introduces himself and says he was a guest of the Ramsdale mayor when the sky fell. There is also a silent tiefling sitting in the corner. A few others are there too but they are asleep. The information Felix gives me is little more than conjecture, but he tells me Yorrin occasionally takes a prisoner out and they do not return. Perhaps Yorrin gives the victims to the bandits so they leave him alone. I play a soft, happy song on my flute to try and cheer Felix and the tiefling, though they are very dour. Yorrin keeps them drugged and weak, unable to fight back. 

    My companions finally awake and I introduce them all to each other. Tala tries to rally the other prisoners by giving them Goodberries, but none take her food. Yorrin has forever cured them of taking food from a stranger. I collect and lay out options for them. 1) wait to be “selected” and taken out, probably to die 2) burn the hatch which will likely burn down the whole structure 3) ambush Yorrin. We settle on option 3), to ambush Yorrin. I was initially thinking of fighting the man, but the more we talked about our situation and our captor, I realized a simple charm might be easier. So, we wait. We likely waited half a day in that dark space. I asked the prisoners if they knew anything about a priest parade, and through my excellently persuasive words the tiefling finally said something. She said the priests had been there, in Ramsdale, and they had been near the blight in the middle of town just before she was taken. 

    Then the hatch opened and Yorrin dropped down a tray of gruel, not nearly enough for all of us. In a moment the man himself came down the ladder, openly wearing some kind of knife or sword. I immediately cast Charm Person on Yorrin, and whether from shock or a lazy sense of complacency, the man failed to resist my spell. Once I felt the spell take hold I persuaded him away from the ladder and tried to motion to everyone else to get up the ladder and away. To distract this evil man and also to get some truth I peppered him with questions. He sacrificed the prisoners to the being in the middle of town, some shadowy blight. Yes, the priests had been through town and they had even left a package to be delivered back to Llanmarec. He did indeed avoid the bandits as they were harder to capture and generally caused problems. He had plenty of the sleeping drug (he gave a specific name but I forget exactly). He knows how to harvest lots of it from the surrounding woods because he was a hunter before the sky fell. I commented on his excellent career shift from hunting animals to hunting people. All the while I was motioning for folks to get up and out of the hole and holding myself back from punching this despicable pig of a man. 

    Finally he notices his prisoners are escaping and he turns back to them to try and get them. In vain I try to call him back, but Tala transforms into a wolf and attacks and Frysta too takes a shot. Annoyed at my first charm victim being attacked I send Dissonate Whispers his way. He dies on the top of the ladder. I relay everything I learned from Yorrin, and we search the house. We find the stash of weapons, the drugged gruel, and the package from the priest parade. Felix offered to take the prisoners back to Llanmarec, and we wished them luck. I took a hunter’s knife from the weapon stash so I can have a knife at the ready instead of just my hidden blade. Frysta found the package and gave it to Brother Ainsel, as it was addressed to him. It is the vestments of Brother Berigg, and the letter inside indicates Berigg does not trust Father Kailandros. Frysta had suspected this from the start, but upon seeing her prediction come true, there was little joy in it, and she gave a heartfelt apology to Brother Ainsel.

    As we left the house I took out Sev’s pearl and said what he told me to say to it, regaining one spell slot. Brother Ainsel was anxious to get on the road again, but the evening was drawing on, and the shadows of the town were growing around us. They seemed to emanate from the base of a statue, and the shadows amassed into a tree-like image with waving branches. I was immediately reminded of the Lantern Tree, when Grandma Stefania scolded me and my three brothers all those years ago in front of the four families. Frysta and I started to talk with this entity, whom we needed to get around. Frysta seemed to recognize some of its mannerisms, and I was wholly uninterested in its strange propositions until it mentioned knowledge. I got the idea that I could trade the location of Big Sig for the location of my brother Beck. However, when I posed the question, the shadow tree wanted the name of one of my family members. My heart sank a little; Beck was family but so were they. He was not worth more than one of them. Frysta was also muttered next to me to not give a name, so I declined the offer though I suspect that decision will haunt me until I find the lost Beck. What if I could have found him sooner? But then what would have happened to my family?

    Meanwhile, Tala was getting angry next to me. She muttered angrily about an affront to Aungvinod and how unnatural the shadow tree was. Then she wildshaped into a wolf again and we fought the shadow tree. I was really not wanting to fight this thing, I would have rather run away, even though the woods were no picnic. But, Tala and Brother Ainsel wouldn’t run away fast enough. Brother Ainsel helped me out, tugging on the shadowy tendrils that grappled me and giving me healing. I returned the favor and helped him get un-grappled while Tala kept on biting and Frysta took shots with her bow. I ran out of spells, but I remembered the new knife I had picked up and like a pro I tossed it at the truck of the shadow tree, just as I practiced with Aunt Sparks and Uncle Arnic. As I threw I mentally touched my shadow mark to add in some shadowy magic damage. With my hit the tree collapsed into a bloody, oozy pile of compost. It revealed a stone statue of a female mage, though none of us knew who the mage was. I retrieved my new knife and Frysta retrieved her arrows. Curious, Frysta pulled out her magnifying glass and examined the statue, looking for clues about its origins and meaning. As she did, cracks appeared and spider-webbed over the whole surface. Then it exploded in a burst of stone shards, catching Tala and I in the blast. There, where the statue had been, was an Earth Genasi, exactly the likeness of the statue.  

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Episode 5

    Ramsdale central square, looking at an earth genasi whose likeness was in a stone statue that just burst apart. She seems to be a war mage, and she doesn’t remember who she is. She wears a stone necklace that has writing in primordial…Andy shortens the name to Anock. Anock remembers nothing really, though we suspect she is very, very old.

     We find a house to stay the night. Andy conks out on the bed, Tala takes first watch. Tala heard zombies shuffling around in the night, and Frysta found a small book of poetry to pass the night with. Frysta found a bit of food stuffs to make eggs and toast for breakfast in the morning. Frysta and Andy got in a bit of a food fight when Andy was taking all the food. Tala took Anock outside so the rest of us could decide about taking her or not without her present. Between food fight battles, we decided to take Anock with us and go north, stopping by a temple ruin.

    It is a very ominous, holy, and holey space. Andy spots a hatch in the floor and hears muttering down below. We all go down, and it looks like there is a human mercenary hiding behind a crate fort. He mutters about his friends turning, rising, and eating everyone. Andy names him SP (scaredy pants) and scares him by going into his fort. She exits and played a soft lullaby on her flute though he isn’t calmed by it. Tala asked Brother Ainsel to say a Solanthran prayer, but that also didn’t help. Tala went upstairs to give the man some space. The rest of us can’t get this man to make much sense.

    We decide to go deeper into the underground tunnels in case there is a hint about the priest parade. Heading into the tunnel there is a fork. Frysta, with her spooky senses smells death to the right. So, naturally, Andy started to head left, but was dragged back by Frysta to go right. “Better to deal with the problem now than to have them sneak up behind us later.” With a sigh Andy follows the rest to the end of the tunnel. On the way, Tala pointed out some egg in Andy’s hair which Andy ate gleefully, to the shock of Brother Ainsel. There we fought five zombies, one of which let out a ghastly shriek before dying again. Andy’s spells have not been going well at all; she cast Thunderwave for the worst possible damage. Andy switched to the rapier, and channeling Uncle Arnic and Aunt Zaya’s teachings she did maximum damage. She also cast Healing Word on Frysta as she seemed to be doing badly. After all the zombies were dispatched, Andy took out her pearl and spoke the words Sev had told her too if she was ever in trouble.

    We backtracked in the tunnel to take the left fork. We heard Father Kailandros speaking, it seemed like to Brother Berigg. Tala was still in the wildshape of a wolf, and she walked in. Father Kailandros didn’t suspect Tala, but he tried to shoo her away. We end up fighting him, and again Andy’s spell does really crappy damage though this time with dissonant whispers. And once again the rapier does its job exceptionally. As he lay dying on the floor from a rapier stab, Father Kailandros mumbled something about “our power” and “you can’t defeat us.” Andy wasn’t paying much attention, but Tala got all his words. Between the two battles Andy gave Tala a bardic inspiration. We find Brother Berigg crushed in large rocks on the side of the room. Brother Ainsel is shocked, but gathers himself and cuts off Brother Berigg’s satchel which hopefully contains his notes on Father Kailandros and his doings. We headed back out of the tunnels, passing the crazed man. Once out of the hatch we see we are surrounded by a zombie hoard.

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Episode 6

    Just came up from the hatch in the temple ruin in Ramsdale, and we saw lots of zombies all around us. Bright golden light came towards us from the woods. We heard hoofbeats, and a golden haired elf on a horse saved us. The light was coming from her sword. She is Cari Sunglow, a paladin. The zombies ran away from her glowing sword and we made our escape with her in the lead. We run back to a large dilapidated keep. She introduces herself and says her master is Thalaeros, an arcanum engineer working on some salvation key which crashed and fell. She offered food and rest very generously which was a shock compared to all the rest of the shady folk we’ve previously run into.

    Over a dinner of gruel, we look at Brother Berigg’s notes.  It turns out Berigg was leading the hunters to the temple to divert them from the true locations of the artifact that Father Kailandros had mentioned. He was planning to sacrifice himself to stop it from being found. Among his journal, he indicated that he trusted Cari; and mentioned the Salvation Key.  There are components for fey, shadow, destruction, and a conduit mechanism to draw them all together to make this salvation key. His notes never say that Master Folmar is involved in this, which is strange. These pieces are scattered over the nearby area. Destroying the pieces would be a good thing to limit the darkened surges in the area, and perhaps curing us of our marks? There were some inferences that perhaps Folmar set up our bandit run-in when we left Llanmarec during the day. So likely Folmar is a bad guy…

    Anyway, we looked around the keep a little and found some things that used to be beds, but Frysta and I took out the non-rotted pillows and blankets (8 and 12, respectively), to make a pillow fort back with the others. I was reminded of all the fun pillow forts I’ve made with my various numerous cousins over the years. Gods, that feels like a lifetime ago now. Tala took first watch, then Frysta took second watch. Tala’s watch was uneventful. She spoke with the Wildmother but received no answer. Tala also tied my feet together for a prank. Frysta found some indications of a Righsentor deity being worshiped at the barracks a long time ago. Cari later says that this keep used to be inhabited by paladins of Righsentor. Frysta made breakfast as usual, but there was a sad lack of eggs and toast. Instead we had leftover gruel and some warmed salted pork. When I got up I most definitely fell on my face as I tripped over my tied feet. ‘Twas a good prank, even if it was in the morning. Over breakfast we discussed what to do. Cari asked for our help in finding these Salvation Key shards, starting with the conduit which should act like a compass to the other shards. Of course we decide to help Cari; not like we have better ideas for surviving at the moment. I asked Cari if she had ever seen Beck, but she hadn’t. This prompts some questions from the others and I explain that Beck might not want me to find him. He left I think on his own volition, and he was rather pissed at the rest of my family…

   As we get ready to go into the woods to help Cari find the conduit, Anock and Brother Ainsel try and say thanks for the breakfast to Frysta, but Frysta will have none of it. As we walk I’m still chewing on the salted pork. From more questions, I explain why I dislike the woods: Grandma Stefania embarrassed me and my brothers when we were kids and ever since I’ve felt judged by trees. A meadow adventure would be so much nicer. We notice the occasional shot of light into the sky off in the distance and head towards that. Frysta and Tala notice a shadow following us, and we stop to have a brief discussion on what to do about it. It wasn’t hostile, but what if it became so? I put the hypothetical situation out to go say “hi,” and as soon as I said that, a deep rumbling, “hi!” came back to us. I immediately hid behind Tala. After a tense few moments I said, “Friend or foe?” and a huge 8ft tall rock creature came forward and said “friends!” there were corpses stuck around their body. They said their name was Deathrock, and they seemed very interested in becoming our friend. They kept asking for snacks, and we figured out they didn’t need to eat but liked the idea or motion of chewing stuff. Sticks and rocks were perfect.

    There was a ravine, and as we got closer we noticed the light was coming from that. However, the sides of the ravine were all jagged rock. Deathrock came forward and made a lovely staircase somehow. I made the comment that my mining family members would love to meet Deathrock. We descended the ravine and wandered around until we found a crater which was evidently where the light was coming from. Climbing down was more difficult than we imagined, and I got totally covered in soot! Very annoying. Tala begs caution as we go forward. In the center of this crater is a collection of odd magical things. There are three adamantine shards, each about a human’s forearm in length. These are astral diamonds! One shines white, another grey, and the third is a very deep black. These diamonds seem to communicate with the central construct which houses a sphere. The construct seems to be adamantine. Cari has a special bag of holding to put these things in. Before that I ritually casted Detect Magic, though this thing doesn’t conform to our schools of magic. There was definitely life and death energies there though. Meanwhile Frysta held an arrow over the top of the construct and waited for a shot of light to go off. The arrow was snapped in half, telling us the light was not only light… Frysta was sad to lose another arrow, but Deathrock offered one of the arrows stuck in one of the corpses on their person as replacement. We, well, Andy was a little less than helpful, managed to lift up the magical stuff so Cari could put their magical bag under it. (Deathrock helped me out with a single finger to lift up my portion). That done, we head back up the ravine to the staircase made by Deathrock. However, at the top of the staircase is Big Sig, and after we fail to tell him that we will surrender, he sends twenty brigands down on us.

*image of sliced cheeses and meats falling to the stone ground comes to Andy, and tears come to her eyes though she doesn’t know where to vision comes from*

Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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Episode 7

    Bottom of staircase of ravine outside of Ramsdale with twenty brigands coming down on us. We engaged the brigands in combat. I rushed up the rough-hewn stairs to meet the onslaught of angry men, though tears crept out of my eyes from the vision of a charcuterie board falling to the cold stone floor. Biding my time, I waited with gritted teeth until the first brigand was just about to reach me, then I pulled out my battered rapier and called on my magic to cast thunderwave at second level. I caught many of them in my spell, and I puffed with pride in my newfound abilities and strength. Tala gripped her necklace and cast spells, twice taking down brigands right in front of me. Deathrock began smashing brigands left and right, while Anock shot firebolts. Cari joined me on the frontline of the battle as we rushed up the stairs, slicing as we went. I called on Uncle Arnic a few times, and channeling Aunt Zaya for toughness worked wonderfully. Aunt Spark’s slashing strike didn’t work very well though. I took some solid hits along with Anock and Ainsel; these were not completely block-headed brigands. When I used my Shadow Depletion, the brigands cried out, “They have the fires!” and I got a bad feeling from that… I gave a Healing word to Ainsel, and Bless from Tala was helpful. 

    After killing all the brigands, we rushed up the stairs. I didn’t see any sign of Big Sig, but the others saw hoofprints going north. We walked back to the keep, and it was nearing evening. Motivated by that strange vision I tried to make a charcuterie board, though the pickings were slim. I did offer some to the others. Cari showed us an armory, which honestly would’ve been nice before going out… I snagged two new daggers, but there are no hand crossbows and no halfing-sized armor… grrr… 

    To protect our sleeping area we took the conduit to a different part of the keep to test it out. We all did our part, and eventually we got it working and Frysta noticed a light pulsing north, towards the Mound and where Big Sig went. It was bedtime then, though I noticed Tala talking with Anock and Ainsel. I grudgingly agreed to take the second watch. Frysta, on the first watch, talked with Anock who had talked with Deathrock. Seemed like Anock was regaining some memories and she liked talking with another Earth genasi. After being rudely awakened by Frysta, I took watch. It took me a minute to actually wake up, but I think I did a great job on watch. Partly for amusement but mostly to keep myself awake, I sat down in the doorway and played Corzin’s flute. Midway through my watch I heard soft whimpering from my companions, and I found Brother Ainsel crying in his sleep. It seemed he was having bad dreams, likely about Brother Berigg. I gently shook him to try and comfort him or disrupt the dream. He quieted down, and I stayed with him, playing a lullaby that I’ve heard my sister Stef play for her son Tan. Playing the song brings a touch of homesickness, but it seemed to help Brother Ainsel. Finally my watch was over, and I plopped back down on the remains of the pillow fort. During the third watch Tala talked with Cari after she worked out. 

    In the morning Tala made breakfast out of a variety of foodstuffs. She was trying something with Deathrock involving cutting off bodies… Then she hugged Deathrock. After a brief discussion, we left Deathrock at the keep. Cari anticipated stealth would be useful in the swamp to the north. We ventured forth into the Corpsemere, a swamp. There was a great battle there, involving a black dragon which died and became a dracolich. We had the feeling we ought to be quiet there, and the wind seemed to carry the sound of flapping wings. Suddenly a figure burst out of the undergrowth in front of us. She had (human? elf?) a long scar over her left cheek, very blue eyes, simple armor, and black curly hair to her shoulder. She also appeared to be a mage. She was friendly enough, and we chatted, though none of us really trusted her after Yorrin. Apparently she was from Cindervaeld, and she thought she had heard of the Quickfoots! Though, she hadn’t seen anyone like my brother recently; that made me sad and homesick all over again. She said she was an archaeologist and had come here before and traded an astral ruby, useful in some particular kind of magic, for a Troll’s heart. After she, Lysza by name, had returned to the dig site and found out the Troll’s heart was actually not very magical, she had turned around and come back to take back her astral ruby. I didn’t pick up on any lying traits in Lysza, and even though I felt good about my check, after Yorrin… I do notice that Lysza doesn’t seem to trust Cari, and I asked her quietly why. Lysza replied that she just doesn’t get good vibes from Cari, like she doesn’t feel that they would be friends, not that Cari would hurt her.

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Episode 8

    Walking along a trail through Corpsemere with Cari, Brother Ainsel, Anock, Lysza, looking for another component. Lysza had lent us her map of the area, and Frysta was busily looking at it, upside down as it was. Honestly we had a pleasant time in the swamp, then suddenly six little twig blights burst out of the undergrowth and attacked us. Frysta was struggling to hit anything at range, and I got clawed several times. Man, those things hurt! But they were also very squishy. Ainsel gave me Healing Word, the nice man. I insulted two blights to death which was very satisfying; Karick would be proud. 

    Continuing on, we came to a set of weird carvings on some trees, though after casting detect magic I figured they weren’t currently magical. I heard an alluring melody in the foggy swamp, and it sounded happy. Then a torchlight appeared, though we couldn’t discern anything holding it aloft. After some debate we decided to follow the light and the melody further into the swamp; we were still going the correct direction. Then the torchlight went out, and we came to a less foggy area around a bog. There was a narrow land bridge through the bog. I noticed the melody had ceased. Lysza recognized the area. Cari went first over the bridge, and I went in front of Lysza who was last. We noticed lots of dead bodies in the water. Suddenly a cold, bony hand grabbed my ankle and started dragging me into the waters. I freaked out and summoned the irritation of Karick into a Dissonant Whispers casting. Cari tried to pull me free, but this zombie really wanted to keep me! Again I channeled my older brother’s annoying self and blasted the zombie with Dissonant Whispers, this time at second level. It let go and exploded in a bubble of gross, sickening ooze. That actually hurt more than I was expecting. Moving to the front of the group I thought about blasting the zombies with Thunderwave, but it didn’t seem worth it, so I slashed. Frysta was there with me firing arrows. The exploding zombies continued to do the most damage as they died, and I went down to 1 hp. This was after some healing intervention before the final blow. Just then a whistle sounded, and a woman appeared ahead of us. At her command the zombies receded, leaving the way clear. Tala gave me cure wounds. 

    The old woman introduced herself as Elifess, though I decided to call her El. I also use Sev’s pearl to regain a level 2 spell slot. Lysza confirmed this is the witch who cheated her. We came to El’s house, a two-story affair with a tunnel or cave beneath it. El offered refreshments and I happily accepted though I insight checked our host first. Tala offered to make her own tea blend. As we waited for the stew to heat up, Lysza was getting more and more irritated though El paid her no mind. El said she bargains for things, and I started to ask her if she could locate someone when she figured out we were looking for something. She said she knows of this thing and can direct us to it for a favor, an open-ended favor. She held out a seed-looking thing. Lysza was practically fuming behind us. Finally, her temper broke and she transformed into a winged, clawed fiend. Hurriedly, El offered us the favor once more, and Frysta took it, swallowing it whole. 

    We left quickly as Lysza the Fiend let loose her fury. Though outside, we could not hear any of the expected shouting. Regardless, Frysta now had El’s memories of going to this artifact. Frysta led us true, and we found ourselves by a collection of deep mud pits. Thinking hard, Frysta came to a particular mud pit and pulled out a wooden thing. I thought it was some kind of tree heart. Frysta felt it leaking out vitality and goodness. Just then we barely noticed something before diving for cover, though Frysta and I did very poorly at that. The wooden fey heart exploded from a blast. 

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Episode 9

    We just dove for cover in the Corpsemere by the mud pits after finding a wooden heart. Cari, Ainsel, and Anock are with us. The wave of energy got a reaction from the fey heat, waking a five zombies which started shambling towards us. Frysta and I started off prone, having failed our dives. Aunt Zaya’s toughness protected me from one hit which was good. I used a shadow depletion.

   After the easy encounter, we take a better look at the wooden heart. We understood that the fey heart couldn’t be easily fixed. We decided to destroy the fey heart, as it would likely attract more zombies and it’s broken anyway. We realized that magic is needed to destroy it. Andy kicked it into the mud, then Ainsel suggested we add in our shadow depletion marks. Frysta and I do just that, then it shattered and released a bright light. Frysta was blinded for a moment.

    From Cari’s magic bag we took out the conduit and it pointed us southeast. From Lysza’s map there is a keep in that direction by the name of Caerdunner. We retraced our steps and camped out near El’s cabin. I conked out on my pack. Tala painted circles under Andy’s eyes and talked to Anock. Frysta took second watch; neither saw anything dangerous in the night. Long rest was successful. Brother Ainsel made breakfast in the morning which Andy gleefully ate. 

    Starting out, Ainsel was given the map, well, Frysta bonked him with it, and we headed southwest, going through mists. Tala mentioned something about soup and Andy got all focused on soup though there was none to be had. Frysta went to investigate the burned trees. She found out that the trees were burned long ago, and she saw dead animals and smelled the rot. She came back to the path, apparently after some difficulty, and told us we ought to stay on the path. She also said she’d make me soup if I saw some off the path and didn’t go to it. Sadly, I didn’t see any swamp soup. We found a rather sad patch of ground to make camp for the night. Tala took first watch and did a lot of talking with Brother Ainsel, though he was not to be consoled. Apparently he was rescued by Brother Berigg when he was young, and he was the only apprentice of the man. Tala then tried to play a prank on me, but I noticed and flicked the tree sap onto Tala herself instead of me.

    No one made breakfast in the morning, so I pouted a little while eating some dry rations. We made it out of the misty forest and into just plain old annoying forest. On the road we meet Darcy, a tinker in my book, who was selling some simple wares. He kept trying to push his holy water on us. Frysta got 5 blessed arrows and a set of thieves tools for 5gp and 5 “fiendish” arrows. I bought a poultice for 7cp. It has two uses; it’s for putting on cuts and scrapes. That evening we found a better camping spot.

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Episode 10

    In the woods headed for Caerdunner Keep to find another piece of the Salvation Key. Just before night at a camp spot, Cari, Ainsel, and Anock are with us. This is the end of the second day traveling from the Corpsemere. Anock remembers a battle in which many different races were involved. She doesn’t remember any banners, but the fighting was furious, like the two sides hated each other. Two figures stood out in her memory, her enemies. There was a young man in armor that was pieced together and a woman, an elf, perhaps a mage, carrying an unusual staff with adorning trinkets.

    Tala convinced me to stay up with her for the first watch, and she asked me about my brother Beck and my home. I told her he was the best drummer in the land, and I showed her his letter. I told her some about home, about how he just left one day. I explained a little about Ma being a Longstrider and how that clan is more adventurous. Talking about home was nice, nostalgic, but it certainly made me homesick too. I felt some presence, almost like the gods were taking notes on our little fireside talk. Tala then wanted to pull a prank on someone, and I confessed that was never my strong suit. I went to bed, and Tala woke up Brother Ainsel for the second watch. She startled him awake by putting her head right next to his. Cari had last watch, and she made a simple breakfast. I inhaled it as usual. Ainsel asked me about Welcome Soup, and I replied that yes, it is a thing to make food for newcomers. However, often in my home, people already had food cooking when newcomers came by, so “welcome soup” could be anything really. I told a little story about little Tan, Stef’s son, trying to give me raw fish as welcome soup once. 

    Cari mentioned that there are bandits about so we best be careful. We got close enough to the keep to see it, but we also saw a bandit gang. We decided to ambush them, because that has worked so well in the past. We blew it as usual, and they saw us. There were eight of them. Ignoring the schmuck who ran up to me, I ran over to the crossbowmen and cast Thunderwave at second level at them, leaving only one of the three standing. Tala really came into her healing role, healing Frysta and I. Ainsel fired away with his Sacred Flame while Anock was trying with her Firebolts. Cari was getting hit heavily. I noticed the bandit captain being all dodgy, so I cast Dissonant Whispers at second level at him, calling him an ugly and venomous toad. He took particular offense at that and rushed at me, saying, “I’ll show you venomous!” as he put his shadow depletion into his scimitar strike at me. Those scimitars do look fancy though… Tala downed the half-orc with a Guiding Bolt, which caused the remaining bandits to focus on her, our healer! One put his shadow depletion into a hit on Tala. Channeling Aunt Sparks’ slashing flourish I rushed forward to aid Tala and take one down. Then Tala, not thinking, cast Thunderwave which only fully hit me, wounding me. Seeing weakness, one of the bandits attacked me instead of Tala, bringing me down to 3 hp. 

    After the battle Tala felt so bad about hitting me. We investigated the bodies, and after a brief internal debate I left the scimitars be. My dueling skills could not accommodate them; I was better off with Uncle Arnic’s battered rapier. Frysta found notes on the bandit captain, but we couldn’t read them. Because we were all injured and because Frysta wanted her spell slot back, we took a short rest. My internal healing process was shot, and even with Song of Rest I was missing health. Cari provided lay on hands to get me back to full. Frysta then cast Comprehend Languages to understand the notes, which were written in orcish. Then said Krol and Company, meaning Big Sig, is to be taken down. Don’t trust Father Leuthoric, he worships the god of war and conquest which is honorable but something is off. There is a device, Godsgift, that tears essences from people. There is a Shadow Glass at our keep. [[other things too]].

    As we walk the five miles towards the keep, Tala is still out-of-sorts from hitting me. I asked Frysta what to do about it, and she suggested I write a song about Tala and such to make her feel better. I used Sev’s pearl to regain a second level spell slot.

    [[cut scene to two figures, one a mage, looking at a shadowy object and ordering a halfling around, with an order to go collect the tithes]]

    When we got close to the keep it was clear we can’t just walk right up to it. The keep was surrounded by numerous bandit tents. We discussed how to go about this. So, this Shadow Glass is likely what we are looking for, but we can’t just go up and grab it. Also, we are all hurting for spells at this point. We settled on scouting out the area first before dark then likely going in at that point. I brought up that I can go invisible (with my last remaining second level spell slot). We decided I’ll go invisible, do some scouting, look for folks we can ambush and maybe masquerade as. I handed Tala my drum to keep safe as I turned invisible and went scouting. Stealthing was pretty easy being invisible, and I was trying to enumerate the triplets’ form from back home, how they just seemed to slip from place to place like fish in the river. I saw a lazy group of bandits on the edge of the woods which would likely be a good group to ambush. Their banner had some kind of club made of bone with a skull on top.  Heading deeper into the camp I spotted a halfling. She, wearing a heavy coat, was just coming out of the keep, and I followed her into a large tent. All other short folks were goblinoids. Inside the tent was a war table, and the halfling asked for the tithes. I noticed she had a metal hand. 

    The halfling was heading back towards the keep, and I decided to do something stupid. Letting the Invisibility spell go, I cast charm person on the halfling and convinced them to go with me back towards the lazy group with the skull banner. I peppered her with questions on the way. Soraneiros is a mage, her boss, who needs the tithes to fund new research. All these bandits broke away from Big Sig. Soraneiros is here at the keep because Father Leuthoric came with Gurngak when he left Big Sig. I also asked about secret entrances to the keep, and she told me her name was Taraminder. 

    [[Meanwhile, back at the camp, Frysta and Tala had a heart-to-heart about Tala feeling bad about hitting me. Frysta explained that I have no grudge, and that I was even writing a song to Tala to make her feel better. Tala started crying at that and generally was feeling very bad about it all. Tala decided to make me a cozy bed in the forest floor, though even with Frysta’s help they struggled. Ainsel commented on that and tried to help. Frysta was getting very uncomfortable with Tala’s crying.]] 

    I convinced Taraminder to come back to my friends. Initially she was very uncomfortable, but through Frysta and I we eventually managed to convince her to stay. Next plan is to take a short rest then break into the keep to steal the shadow glass.

Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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Episode 11

    Ainsel, Anock, and Cari are with us. We are in camp outside the Caerdunner Keep preparing to go inside with our new friend Taraminder. The bandits surrounding the keep are called the Gurngak Raiders.

[[Ridian was gone for this session]]

    Frysta and I decided sneaking into the keep was probably the best course of action, and as we approached we heard the fighting and saw a hoard of the burning undead attacking the Raiders. We mostly managed to avoid the fighting, though we ran into a few and had to fight through them. I tried with a casting of Thunderwave, but that did very little damage. I sorely missed that spell slot as soon as I had cast it. Taraminder shot one of the undead with a crossbow. After missing with my rapier, I took a moment to call on Uncle Arnic’s teachings, and I struck with my rapier and did max damage! Thanks, uncle. Throughout the fighting twice or three times zombies I was fighting didn’t give in when I thought I had landed a final blow

    After dealing with those undead we reached the keep’s walls. There was a window high above us, and Frysta did a far better job at climbing than me, but it was Taraminder who got to the window and tied off the rope. We headed towards the laboratory on the top floor, but we heard sounds of fighting from the direction of the armory. We had to go through it to get to the lab, so we went to take a look. There was a large undead ogre in the middle with two handlers still alive trying to control it. It looked like several other handlers had died. We noticed a few ways we could damage these creatures, and with a sigh I offered up a spell slot to cast Thunderwave to collapse the damaged ceiling. Cari bravely volunteered to bait the creatures under that portion. The plan went off without a hitch; the ceiling did collapse and Cari avoided getting hit, but then the ogre burst out of the rubble with a roar. We fought it, and Aunt Zaya’s toughness was barely not enough to protect me from a solid hit. Cari then offered her shield to protect me, and that did save me from a hit. 

    After killing the ogre Taraminder went over and we investigated the bodies of the handlers. There were blue crystalline currents running over their throats, and I came to the conclusion that perhaps those markings were a manifestation of a controlling magic used on the undead ogre. Pushing forwards we reached the top floor atrium. There were several doors leading off of that space, and the door at the far end was the one Taraminder said led to the lab. Taraminder paused there, and turning to us asked if we were the good guys. I had a brief flashback to Grandma Stefania, rockwood cane in hand, loudly proclaiming that my brothers and I would never amount to anything but trouble for ourselves and trouble for our family. Shaking that off, I gave a brief statement about how being good was more of a choice, and that I for one have done things that were unkind but that I hoped and worked at doing good. It seemed like poor Taraminder, the only halfling I’ve met on these travels so far, believed she was a bad person. Anyway, she then told us about some people she hoped we could save, as  Soraneiros would not treat them well. Taraminder opened a door, and we saw three cages with a total of seven people in them (no halflings). My companions and I had a brief discussion on if we should let the prisoners out then or later. Cari was against letting them out before we dealt with the wizard and the lab, but Frysta and Taraminder wanted to let them out immediately, in case the wizard used them for his own nefarious purposes. I’ve always been a bigger fan of personal determination than safety, so I agreed with Frysta and Taraminder. Giving Frysta my last bardic inspiration, I encouraged her to use her new thieves’ tools bought from Darcy. It took some doing, but Frysta got all three cages open. They looked very ragged, and I gave the most competent-looking person one of my daggers and wished them all good luck. 

    As we watched the prisoners rush away, two figures came out of the far door that led to the laboratory. A young elf, Soraneiros, and a decrepit other figure, Father Leuthoric. The mage in particular looked at Taraminder and verily sneered at us all. By some miracle or other I was again first to act. Feeling protective of my new halfling friend I ran up to Soraneiros and yelled at him to keep away from Taraminder, who is in fact a good person. In disdain, the mage attacked me while throwing shade at the frozen Taraminder. He dealt just enough damage for me to fall from his acid strike. Ainsel ran up and gave me healing, but I was too dazed and injured to hit him on my next strike. Meanwhile, Father Leuthoric had summoned Spiritual Guardians and Cari was caught up in magic chains. Though, she had a bit of a flicker, almost like Liza did when she revealed her true form. Frysta was engaged with Father Leuthoric, and she fey stepped away, further into the lab. She looked more hurt than I was at the moment, so I gave her Healing Word, using up my last spell slot. Feeling a bit humiliated and irritated that Soraneiros called my previous attack pathetic, I slashed at him with my battered rapier and poured my shadow depletion into the hit. His eyes returned to me as he said, “perhaps I have misjudged,” as he then cast some sort of fire spell around myself and Ainsel. Ainsel took the full brunt and went down. Father Leuthoric then dropped right after there was some sort of fire started in the lab. Soraneiros didn’t notice me as I tried and failed to hit him before stepping away. Anock pulled Ainsel away from the fighting and called out that we needed to move. Soraneiros, not caring about us anymore, ran into the burning lab just as it exploded. There were several crashes and bursts of fire as various chemicals broke and shattered in the blaze. 

    As the fires in the lab quieted down, we saw Cari glowing, with wings! She admitted she hadn’t been truthful with us, but she said she felt it was safer for us not to know. I told her we needed to talk about that more, but I was dead tired and wrung out. We went into the destroyed lab, and sure enough the Shadow Glass was perfectly fine, sitting pretty in the complete destruction. Frysta looked around the lab, but there was nothing left to salvage from the wreckage. We talked briefly about trying to destroy the Shadow Glass, but my single use of the shadow depletion mark didn’t break it, and Frysta had used all her mark powers. Cari suggested we sleep the night on the top floor, and she even offered to hold all the watches as an apology for keeping her secret. There was still fighting between the undead and the bandits outside. 

    I trudged to the residential rooms, and just before I closed my eyes I saw some letters. There were two of them, and one detailed Soraneiros’ involvement in capturing the people in the caravan to Wintervaeld. There were orders to kill Delwyn Strevengar, the noble we had met both at the mound jail and in Llanmarec. Seemed like the mage was the middle man between Big Sig and Lady Dominica Parthenius. That was very curious and cemented my idea of this mage as a complete schmuck. The second letter, however, was far more interesting and immediately grabbed my attention. It was addressed to the leaders of the Gurngak Raiders, and it described my brother, Beck! The letter asked if they had seen this halfling, described purely visually with no indication of his name or talents. There was an insignia at the bottom, and initially I could not place it, but through something close to divine intervention I realized with a shock that I had seen this symbol before! It was on a piece of paper Beck had tried to hide from me not too long before he had run away. Did Beck know these people who were looking for him? How long had he known them and who were they? The letter asked bandits if they knew where he was, but I could not, I would not believe Beck had been a bad guy. He had a talent for picking fights with the biggest boss in the room, so that must be it. He probably pissed off the wrong group. Still, this was very worrying if others were looking for Beck… This discovery also made me a little peeved that Soraneiros was dead, as now I couldn’t ask him, very nicely, what the hell he knew about my lost brother Beck! 

    With a sigh of exhaustion and of some sense of duty I wandered out of the residential rooms and found Frysta. I initially shared the letter concerning Soraneiros and how he was involved with hijacking our caravan. She sensed there was something more, and I pulled out the second letter, the one that concerned my brother. I explained my thoughts and that I wouldn’t believe Beck was a bad person, though he was somehow involved with a group that knew the Raiders well enough to pen them a letter. I explained about seeing the insignia on a paper that Beck had before he left and that there was a strange figure in the community a few weeks or so before he left too. There were a few strange events, come to think of it, but I didn’t really think Beck had left for any reasons but his own personal desire to stretch his legs and find himself. Could he have been involved with something more sinister? I tucked this new letter next to the one Beck left me in my small leather pouch. 

    After that I went back and crashed on a bed, hoping things would make more sense in the morning. Also making a mental note to check in with Ainsel and to thank him for bringing me back to consciousness. 

Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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Episode 12

    Caerdunner Keep, top floor, after a long rest with Cari, Anock, Ainsel, and Taraminder. Before the long rest, Tala asks Cari some questions. I slept like crap during the night as I was tossing and turning, thinking about home, Beck, the strange things about him leaving and before I left, and all the horrible possibilities that might manifest soon or have already happened. In the morning we couldn’t find Taraminder, and Cari didn’t see anyone since Tala last night. We looked around the top floor for her, but I was feeling down and couldn’t look very hard. I went to see Ainsel, who was naturally in the worship chamber. I thanked him, rather awkwardly I must admit,  for healing me. He asked me how I was, just like Tala! Shoving down those teary emotions I showed him the letter about Beck and asked him if he recognized the symbol. He didn’t, of course, and I then told him about the letter about noble Strevengar. He didn’t know anything about the noble either. There wasn’t any food about, not that I was hungry, oddly enough. After Frysta joined us we destroyed the Shadow Heart, the three of us and Ainsel contributing our marks’ energies. They combined and there were vibrations that got larger and larger until it shattered. Frysta grabbed a piece of it. At the explosion there was a sound from a cupboard and Taraminder popped out. I rushed over and hugged her, saying how I thought we had lost her. 

    After that Frysta did some magic things (cast Identify) on the “blessed” arrows she had then she colored and cursed Darcy’s name. I supposed the arrows weren’t actually special. She said she’d save one of those “blessed” arrows for Darcy; the next time those two meet will likely be Darcy’s last, seemed to me. I went looking for weapons, and there was a dagger tucked under a mattress in the residential rooms. I suspected it was Soraneiros’, and I don’t know how I felt about that, but I took it anyway. We headed down to the armory on our way out. Tala had grabbed a sheet to act as a cloak. Frysta grabbed more arrows from the armory, and though I looked there was no halfling-sized armor here either! Frysta noticed that Taraminder wore armor, though it was of the same type as my own. She mentioned that her armor was from her traveling days with Soraneiros, so, years ago. I politely declined taking Taraminder’s armor, explaining that it would be no better and besides, my armor has these little fishies and whorls on it which Uncle Torin, a Bridgewalker, inscribed before I left. I get a wave of nostalgia thinking of that. On our way out of the keep Frysta heard a collection of Raiders coming our way, and she heard that they seemed to blame Big Sig for the attack and that they wanted to punish those who broke in. They first spotted Tala, who had failed miserably at wearing the sheet as a cloak. We then bolted out of the keep and ran around it towards the forest and hid. They looked for us and we heard them say, “Big Sig is gonna pay for breaking the Godsgift,” which honestly suited me just fine. However, being under the trees as we were was making me antsy and uncomfortable. Frysta told us to stay hidden, and it was lucky she did because the Raiders came back shortly. However, we managed to stay hidden. 

    Our companions advised us to head to Llanmarec, which would be four days of travel. On the first day Tala asked Frysta about her background, though she doesn’t give much detail. She grew up in a small village where hunting and shooting a bow and arrow is normal. She has an older sister and a younger brother who are back home. She “just had to go and learn things,” and she has more or less been traveling in a straight line. She claimed she wasn’t running from anything, but both Tala and I recognized the lie though neither of us pressed her. For the first night, I volunteered for the first watch, which I can’t really believe I did, because I knew sleep would avoid me again with my tumbling thoughts. Taraminder stayed up with me, and I noticed she was rather tense. I asked about her travels, and she said she hadn’t traveled for fun. She grew up in Rhendorran, the city which our caravan set out from. Of course I had been there, but I didn’t make any memories there. I mentioned Strevengar, and she recognized the name. She said Soraneiros had met them. She knew that the Strevengars were on the caravan that was ambushed, that Soraneiros had told Big Sig to ambush. She thought it a good thing that Delwyn survived. She said it was nothing personal she thought, killing the family. There was someone with a lot of money who hired Krol and Company to take care of. Very interesting. I was thinking about perhaps someone with a lot of money asking Big Sig to track down my lost brother… Sensing this talk was making Taraminder uncomfortable, I offered to play a song if Taraminder had a favorite. She said she didn’t know songs; she had never chosen a song to play before. Thinking that rather sad and perhaps indicative to her upbringing or lack thereof, I chose a springtime melody to brighten the mood. 

    Just then, Frysta, in her trance state, felt a thick cord slithering up her body. Opening her eyes she saw a snake creeping up her body and more snakes all around the rest of us while I started to play my melody. She blasted the snake on her, totally interrupting my song, and roused the rest of us to the danger. I ran to Tala and Frysta to tell them how much I believed in them, casting heroism on both of them. I later cast Thunderwave, just because I thought the rest of the forest ought to know we were there, and did terrible damage. Tala cast Inflict Wounds for devastating effect, wiping out the remaining snakes. Apparently we found a really bad campsite and Taraminder and I did crap for watching. After that fight I actually felt much better; I shed some of my uncertainties into actions and I witnessed my friends and I working together to help each other. Tala, on the other hand, who took a really bad bite, was shaken after that encounter and I suspected she didn’t sleep very well that night. She had watch with Anock, followed by Frysta and Cari for last watch. Frysta and Cari discussed cooking the snake, but Cari convinced Frysta against that, and the snake who hadn’t died from necrotic energies had been crushed by Frysta’s eldritch blast and was likely full of tiny bone fragments. So, not wanting her pride or ego to suffer, Frysta went hunting. And, she actually shot and killed a deer for our breakfast! I woke up and was not super scared by the snakehead next to my head, as there were yummy smells on the breeze. I gobbled it up, thanking Frysta and actually giving her some of what I had grabbed. It was very good, and I felt full for the first time in a long time. 

    We broke camp and traveled in the fair weather on the second and third days. As we were setting up camp for the third night we all did awesome at precepting a small horde of undead wandering into our area. We worked very well together, and I cast Heroism again on Tala and Frysta, not yet knowing if it worked well. During the fighting I used Aunt Sparks’ and Aunt Zaya’s teachings to slash and be tough; Aunt Zaya’s teachings did indeed protect me from harm. I maintained concentration on the heroism spell very well throughout the encounter. I used one shadow depletion and two bardic. 

    After the fighting I asked Tala and Frysta how well they liked heroism, and they really liked it. I think for now it is useful, though later, when our enemies are more formidable, heroism will probably not be worthwhile. Frysta particularly liked it because it saved her from her crimson rite damage. We were just about to set watch and take our long rests. 

Song Andy is writing to alay Tala’s fears of hurting her:
    Oh there once was a tortle, a druid of the woods
    Casting and Guiding us through the trees 
    Never complaining or throwing a fit
    Though often playing a trick

    Tala might smile and talk quite a bit
    But inside I think she might be looking
    Looking for something that might be contrary
    To her life back in the woods
    She hit me real hard with a wave of thunder
    And in truth it gave me a spin
    Though a Word or two latter and a yummy berry
    And things were alright again
    And things were alright again
    Dear cleric I cherish your company
    Don’t let your mistakes pull you down
    Please don’t hit me with Wave again 
    Though if you do, a good meal would make things alright again
    Alright again


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Episode 13

    Evening of the third day of four to Llanmarec. Cari, Anisel, Anock, and Taraminder are with us. Having just fought off a horde of undead, we had a whole conversation on whether to move camp or not. Tala was concerned about us being able to find another good camp, given our rather abysmal performance in that skill in the recent past. So, we decided to move camp only slightly. Then we had a whole conversation on the watch schedule. Right away Frysta volunteered for first watch. Tala volunteered for second watch, and I now felt obligated to take third watch. I asked Taraminder if she wanted to get up with me, and Taraminder of course said she would, though it seemed like anything I “asked” of Taraminder she would feel required to do. So, I said, “Nope, you should sleep. Ainsel! You’re staying watch with me.” I felt very in command and a bit like wranging friends to do things from back home. 

    Frysta, on first watch, cast Identity on the shard of the shadow heart that she took. She didn’t find much out, but it is a piece of an astral diamond, which can be used for an arcane focus or an be used in arcane rituals. There is black sooty stuff coloring the gem as it is not clear. Cari, who was up with Frysta, didn’t know anything more, though it was her master who was building the machine. Frysta scratched at the shard with an arrow head; Cari cautioned her to be careful, and just then the arrowhead slipped and Frysta cut her hand, making Cari give a small smile. Next it was Tala’s watch and she took it with Anock. During her watch, Tala cleaned out her shell. She then brewed some tea and shared it with Anock. Tala was definitely a bit skeeved out about the bodies being so near. Before the end of her watch she drew on my face. As she shook me to try and wake me I did a marvelous performance of still being asleep as she gave up and went over to wake Ainsel. Fighting to stay awake I asked Ainsel if he could tell me some about Solanthra, his goddess of light. He tells me some general things like she is the breath of life and renewal. His voice is slightly melodious as he draws on ideas from hymns and other religious texts. Miraculously I did an amazing job staying awake, and wanting to avoid a full-blown sermon I shared the start I had made on the song for Tala. I felt that she would have liked the first first if she had heard. Apparently Ainsel and I both did a horrible job on watch duty. Just as dawn was breaking on the horizon a band of brigands burst into our camp and attacked us. 

    The band of brigands had six members. Frysta shot one with a Ray of Frost and Tala hit another with a Guiding Bolt. Seeing them as spell-casters the brigands focused on those two. I cast Heroism on Tala and Frysta though it didn’t last very long because I lost concentration after getting slashed. I used a bardic for defensive flourish, though Aunt Zaya’s toughness wasn’t needed to avoid a hit. We did a brief investigation of the bodies and determined that they were from Krol and Company, though they were probably not looking for us in particular. They had no sign of the fey death fire marks. I then asked Frysta for breakfast, and I was actually a little bit helpful in foraging for stuff to go in it. However, Frysta only did a mediocre job of cooking it. We broke camp and headed the last bit towards Llanmarec. On the way Tala took me aside and pulled me under the branches of a massive tree. I suddenly felt like a child again under the Lantern Tree just as Grandma Stefania was about to ridicule me and my family. It was a horrible feeling, and Tala noticed this and turned me back towards the path which I ran to. The vision of Grandma Stefania and her rockwood cane faded a bit but I turned melancholy after that. Ainsel walked beside me in a sort of solidarity; he reminded me of the dog Pip from back home. 

    About midday we reached Llanmarec. I really wanted a drink to wash away those childish fears, but Ainsel said he needed to perform a service for Brother Berigg as soon as possible. Partially to repay his kindness over the past days and also because it is right to perform a service for those we’ve lost, I went with him. The others joined us as well. There was a ceremony and Ainsel lit a candle which directly reminded me of the Lantern Tree again, but in a less aggressive memory. For every lost community member we lit a candle like that, and it was comforting to see a similar tradition here, among big folk. In the graveyard I asked Ainsel if he would like me to play a tune, and through his tears he said that would be just fine. I asked him for a few bars of something appropriate for a man of the cloth, and her sang a little bit through the tears. Though I had never heard or played it before, I did a marvelous job of playing Corzin’s flute to accompany the hymn. The other priests joined in and we had a right choir session. It was lovely as funerals go. 

    Ainsel stayed at the temple/church complex, and the rest of us went to Master Folmar’s. The guard at the gate wouldn’t let us in, but we gave him our names. I dropped the name Krol and Company out of sheer curiosity, but I couldn’t tell if the guard didn’t know the name or if they were just really good at deception. Anyway, the guard went back into the house, came out a good ten minutes later, and threw a heavy bag of gold at Tala who dropped it. The guard said Master Folmar wouldn’t see us, though we could leave our names and he would send us his schedule so we could make an appointment. I found that all very suspicious, but I needed a drink and people around me, so we headed to the tavern. On the way we estimated there was about 150gp in it. 

    In town there are people about, though nothing too busy. Tala paid 2gp for a single room for us. Up there we divided up the gold, 50gp each. Back in the tavern Tala bought food and drink for us, 2gp each. I never knew ale came in pints! [[Note, we don’t pay for NPC stuff]] She gave me her stew and Frysta her ale. Suddenly Taraminder ran out, and a little tipsy I followed her. She ran to a crawl space under the tavern. After a moment I crawled under there with her. She said she had a panic attack being around all the big folks, and she didn’t know how to act around us, Frysta, Tala, and I and the rest as we were not like Soraneiros. I said we could be more like him if it helped her. She said no, that wouldn’t help. I offered to play a song, and she said she liked the one I played at Berigg’s funeral. I did a poor rendition of it for her, being tipsy and stuffed under a building as we were. Even so it calmed Taraminder, and she even gave me some applause, although I fell flat on the dirt trying to bow. She then had the beginnings of a second panic attack, but I talked her down with, “We’ll get through things together!” She was concerned about Soraneiros’ family blaming her for his death and other people blaming her. With my persuasion I talked her down. I was having memories of Beck and my family as we always did things together, until Beck left us… Shaking off those thoughts I took her hand and we went back to the tavern proper. 

    All together again, except Ainsel, we went to a general store. Frysta wanted tools and got enough to make a calligraphy kit I believe, but not a disguise kit or forgery kit. I bought 1gp of spices and gave them to Frysta. Tala took a long time asking prices and debating what foodstuffs to buy. I asked the shopkeeper if they’d seen another halfling like myself or Taraminder. They didn’t remember. Next we went to the blacksmith. She was a bandaged up Tabaxi with black fur. I ordered a chain shirt in my size, and she said she’d have it done by evening. Tala bought Frysta arrows, and Frysta sold her crossbow and bolts. I asked the blacksmith if she had seen anyone who looked like my brother, and miraculously she did remember a fellow by that description! It was about a month ago, and he bought 3 bunches of crossbow bolts near closing time. He wore a cloak so she only saw his face, and briefly at that. He was alone, and she didn’t see which direction he went after leaving her shop. I tried to remember, but I couldn’t pull up a memory with him using an actual crossbow. We had toy ones, and he was handy with those, I suppose… More questions! Why did ne need those bolts? And why was he by himself? Taraminder bought some kind of tinker’s tools. On the way I told Frysta that I have a disguise kit that I would be happy to share with her if she continued to make us food. She gladly accepted those terms. Ainsel joined us back at the tavern for dinner. Cari was just about to say something. 


I really shouldn’t be on watch! I’m bonding with Taraminder and Ainsel. Tala, Frysta, and I are itching to go to Wintervaeld. I probably shouldn’t cast Heroism unless I go before my companions. I learned that Beck was buying a lot of crossbow bolts about a month ago in Llanmarec. Also, Master Folmar is very suspicious. 

Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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Episode 14

     In Llanmarec in the tavern with Cari, Ainsel, Anock, and Taraminder. Cari was just about to say something. She paused for a moment before saying, “You have helped me do great good. And I understand that your aims are your own. However, there is still work to be done with the Salvation Key. I plan to see this through to the end, as this is how I can make it up to my master. You are free to walk away at any point.” Without hesitation, Ainsel responded that he will fight this to the end. Anock concurred with Ainsel on that point. Tala really wanted to go to Wintervaeld, though she didn’t want to leave the rest of us. She wondered if it was safe to travel there now, and Cari did not know. I expressed my loose desire to stay and search for Beck as this was the last place he was known to be. Frysta said she’d stay with us, her friends. Taraminder expressed much the same sentiment of wanting to stay with her friends. Seeing most of us deciding to stay, Tala wanted the night to decide. During dinner I was eating voraciously as usual, and when I had eaten all of my food, Taraminder swapped plates with me. She hadn’t really touched her food, so I gave her a roll and putting a hand on her shoulder said, “Food is good,” before hastily releasing her hand and gobbling more food. 

     After dinner I ran over to the blacksmith’s shop and paid for the chain shirt! I quickly put it on, a huge smile on my face as I went back to the tavern and our single room. Before turning in for the night, Tala stepped to the window and pulled out her pipe. She mused over her decision and asked for guidance. The Wild Mother didn’t respond directly, though Tala felt content with her meditation. We all got long rests. 

     Frysta bought us all breakfast which was just lovely. Taraminder ate a little. Cari and Ainsel were not there; Ainsel slept at the temple. I asked the barkeep for a snack, and he offered me a half loaf for 2cp. I wanted a full loaf, but when we brought it out it was massive, making me smile. I gave him an extra 5cp to tell Cari where we went if she came back looking for us. So, we left for the temple on the outskirts of town, and on the way Frysta and I felt a tugging on our fey marks. At the temple we didn’t see Ainsel, and I was totally absorbed in my bread as it was very good. Frysta yelled out for Ainsel and a priest of some kind said that (Cari) had picked up Ainsel early in the morning, and they left, heading back towards the town. We started that way. Frysta and Tala noticed Cari and Ainsel off in a sort of barracks or training yard looking at maps on a table. There was a woman in gleaming armor with them who is Captain Steralda. They announced that the next and last piece of the salvation key was at The Mound. “Oh, good!” I said as sarcastically as possible, “That’s great! I can’t wait to die a horrible death there!” Then I just kept saying this was a very bad idea. The Captain said we could use the militia if we got the permission of Master Folmar. She said that there were a lot of fighters at The Mound, and that Big Sig seemed to know that we would be coming for his key piece. 

     So, we headed off to see Master Folmar. The guard was in the process of waving us off when he spotted the Captain among us. With that we were let inside to see Master Folmar. He initially refused to let us take the militia. I insight checked him because I really didn’t trust him in the least. Immediately I sensed that there was something off. The others asked what it would take, in terms of a transaction, to hire the militia. After a moment he said, “1,300 gold.” That is a ridiculous and very specific number! I wanted to cast Detect Thoughts but didn’t want him to know I was casting a spell, so I stepped out of the room for a second to cast that. I returned and the immediate surface thoughts on his mind were, “If they pay me I’ll be getting double, with what Big Sig is already paying me.” I narrowed my eyes and gave a satisfied smile; I knew it! The schmuck is a schmuck as I suspected. I asked him what he thought Big Sig did in The Mound, and his thoughts became, “Why this question?” I grabbed the reins of this wild horse and went for a ride. He said he wouldn’t know what Big Sig would do there, and I responded that I would tell him. “Big Sig tortures people there, taking their powers. He is not to be trusted.” I planted ideas of what kind of huge ass this guy was, how dangerous, and how unpredictable. Generally I tried to give Master Folmar the impression that even if he had a deal with Big Sig now, that meant nothing for the continuation of that deal or for his safety in the future, even tomorrow conditions could change. Master Folmar’s surface thoughts revealed that he had sent folks with the fey death marks to Big Sig already! He clearly set us up when we left the first time, when we met Mhurren and his small gang. What a putz! His price was down to 1000 gold now. Understanding this greedy man more and more, I put forward that we could get that money from The Mound. I suggested that we take the militia, raid The Mound, and bring Master Folmar 1,000gp in spoils then instead of before. He agreed to those terms, and he wrote up a contract with the Captain. 

     Once we were all outside, I mentioned what I had learned from my detect thoughts spell; Big Sig was paying Folmar, and he definitely set those bandits on us that first day. The Captain was not there at the time. Taraminder then suggested that we enlist the Gurngak Raiders to help us assault The Mound. Apparently Gurngak still leads that group. Taraminder suspects that they won’t be too hostile towards her if they see her with us. She also thought that giving him a gift might be a good idea, though she has no idea what he might like. The Captain said that she and the militia would prepare the town, fortify it, throughout the day and then we could leave in the morning. We all helped with those preparations. Tala stayed close with Taraminder and Anock. I ran water and food around to folks, generally trying to keep up moral while avoiding heavy labor. During the day I began to worry that our preparations would not be enough to protect this town. What if taking this town’s militia would spell its doom? What if taking these armored people away would invite Krol and Company, or another bandit group, to raid the town? Not to mention the fact that Folmar was a corrupt shmuck who did not have the town’s best interest at heart. Before bed Tala talked to Cari. Before I went to sleep my mind was clouded by thoughts of Beck. What if we found him with Krol and Company? What if he was dead in The Mound? What if he was alive in The Mound? I didn’t know which was worse. Frysta was thinking about the debt we owed to Folmar now and that she also owed a debt to the lady in the woods, that seed. We get long rests back at the tavern. 

    In the morning Cari woke us. Breakfast was ready and consisted of toast with melted cheese and apples. Tala gave me her toast and devoured the apple; wanting to repay her kindness I gave her my half-eaten apple in return. A few tears started to appear in her eyes seeing me willingly hand over food. I got uncomfortable at that and moved away, mumbling that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Sitting with Frysta she asked how I was. I replied that well, I had food so I was good, and she then said something like how nice and simple my thoughts were. Then all of my concerns from the previous day came flooding back, and I didn’t even try to hide it as my face fell. Nope, definitely not simple I thought to myself. Frysta saw my now not-happy face and she hugged me, “Oh, Andy…” As she did, I stole her toast. What is up with this morning? On the way out I bought more bread; the barkeep sold me a whole loaf this time and I gave him an extra copper for a total of 5cp because he was now my best friend! So much bread! I hugged it in happiness. 

     There were quite a lot of big folks in the group as we set out. There was a number of them from Wintervaeld who had been stuck there when the sky fell. We met Lorcann, who said we could call him anything to which I replied, “Late for dinner?” He gave me a wink, and I instantly liked him. We traveled a little bit ahead of the main group. On the way I had a short conversation with Anock. After determining that she didn’t intend to steal my bread, which I was still hugging, we had a brief conversation. She mentioned that I seemed to have a lot on my mind, and I replied that yeah, I guess I did. She made me realize that wondering and worrying about things prevented one from enjoying the present; she made me feel a little bit better. I offered her a very small piece of bread, and then of course I needed to eat the rest of it. Lorcann walked beside Frysta, “You have the looks of a hunter,” he said to her. “I do a bit of shootin’ myself,” and he indicated the bow at his back. Frysta politely replied, and he showed her his hunting knife, “in case I get a little too close to whatever I’m huntin’.” He tried to continue the conversation, but Frysta politely declined. She didn’t want to talk then. He took it well and said he was good at cards and telling stories if conversation was not to be had. We were setting up camp, about to have dinner and set watches. The militia camp proper is a few hundred feet behind us. 

     Used Detect Thoughts for the first time and it worked brilliantly. Effectively after a long rest. Cari invited us to help her finish her quest to destroy the pieces of the salvation key. We decided to join her and the others in doing so. The next morning we visited Folmar to ask his permission to take the militia to attack The Mound. With detect thoughts I found out that he is being paid by Big Sig and sent the bandits after us that first day. He agreed that we could take the militia if we brought back 1,000gp instead of paying up front. We helped with preparing the town for the militia’s departure, and I was having bad thoughts about all of this. Next morning, we started out with a whole lot of people going to meet the Gurngak Raiders. Met Lorcann. Just setting up camp for the first night out.


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Episode 15

(15 nights after waking up in Llanmarec after being rescued from The Mound)

    Setting up camp for the first night out of Llanmarec. Cari, Ainsel, Anock, Taraminder, and Lorcann are with us; we are heading for the Gurngak Raiders. Lorcann is a half-orc scout. Taraminder made dinner with Frysta’s help, and it was very good. Tala then asked Taraminder about her past. “He gave me this-” and she showed us her mechanical prosthetic on her left arm. Soraneiros made it for her when she lost her arm. He gave her food and a place to stay. There was an accident, and Taraminder saved his life and lost her arm. I went to sleep while the others dealt with the watches. I had terrible dreams about a burning Llanmarec which then morphed into burning Hills, my home community. I also saw Beck, raised from the dead with those fey fires, dead eyes staring back at me. 

    [[Tala dreamed about home. There was a huge garden, and she tended it, feeling peaceful. Then, she heard a woman crying so she ran into the forest as the sky darkened. There was a woman, dying, on the forest floor, and she begged Tala to help her and the others. The Wild Mother briefly spoke to her, and Tala looked back at her home as it faded into the distance.]]

    Tala was awoken by four knocks to her shell made by Ainsel. Lorcann also took second watch. Lorcann stretched. Tala asked him how he joined the militia group, “That’s a simple story. I’m a free spirit, not quite a mercenary. I’m quick and make a great messenger. Strolda kept me around after I delivered a message to her.” Tala confessed she isn’t so great at running. Tala put soot on my hands. 

   [[ Meanwhile, Frysta’s mind wandered as she was in her trance. She was thinking about the favor to Old El. She needs powerful allies for her quest. On top of that she feels extremely guilty as her mind is focused on the exact opposite of what her friends are doing: solving the sky fire crisis. Frysta and Taraminder took third watch. Frysta made breakfast with Taraminder’s help.]] +1 night

    I woke in the morning and rubbed my eyes, getting soot on my face. Annoyed and instantly suspecting Tala, I wiped it off on one of Tala’s rags. The breakfast food was great, and I knew that Frysta did most of the work though she kept saying Taraminder did it all. During the day, we covered a lot of ground. To get the Raiders’ attention, I started to play a marching song very loudly from Tala’s back. Frysta spotted some eyes from the treeline, watching us. Tala danced, and I just managed to hold on before deciding to slide off. Tala called out, “Yo-ho, Raiders!” Frysta held up her hands, and bows were drawn from the figures in the trees, “Stop what you’re doing!” The Raiders called to us. I replied with a sad, “Was the music that bad?” One of the Raiders replied, “No, actually-” before being elbowed by his companion. “What do you want?” the other Raider asked. Frysta did the talking to the pair, and it became clear that they took offense at the “Yo-ho, Raiders!” comment. Frysta complemented the one on his acting skills. We did a rather poor job of explaining the situation, but they said they could tell the camp that we were coming. Taraminder recommended that we ask them to give Gurngak a message. Frysta brought this up, and Tala offered 2gp for incentive. She asked them to tell Gurngak that this meeting would be concerning Krol and Company, about getting revenge. The two Raiders looked at each other and said, “He’ll be interested in that alright.” Lorcann, Frysta and I felt okay about this whole plan. Before the pair left, Frysta pranked one, “So you don’t see that person behind you?” And he turned to see nothing behind him. Tala gaslit Taraminder for her idea. 

    Lorcann came back from telling Strolda to join us once we got to the camp. Tala gave him crap for his name sounding like Lochlainn. Lorcann told us some stories, very visually, showing off his scars. +1 night 

    On the third day, we arrived at the Raiders’ camp. We saw some Raiders on watch, and Steralda came up to us on her horse. We entered the camp, and we were guided to a large tent. The two raiders we saw the previous day stood outside and said that the big man was waiting for us inside. Before entering the tent I cast Detect Thoughts. They noticed that I cast a spell, but after a few moments they relaxed. Gurngak stood inside the tent, an orcish figure, and with him were others, likely his top lieutenants. “Sit,” Gurngak said, and I sat in one of the three seats. Steralda sat in another.

    I took the lead in the negotiations. However, I didn’t do a great job at laying down the law, and Gurngak pushed for more requirements. He wanted a guarantee that there would be no pursuit by the militia after the fighting at The Mound. He also wanted the majority of the loot. After some discussion and me convincing Steralda, we agreed to Gurngak’s terms via a spit and handshake. We left the camp and continued on our way to The Mound. We set up camp for the night. We knew we were a few days from The Mound. We decided to tell Steralda about Folmar before we went into The Mound, and Ainsel suggested we didn’t arrest or otherwise call out Folmar as he might be taking money from other powerful groups. “Yes,” I agreed, “We wouldn’t want other groups to get pissed at us…”

    Tala and I took first watch. We spoke a little of our homes. Tala was adopted, she had no siblings; well they all died before she was born. Her adoptive mother raised her, and the two were very close. Tala had animal companions but no siblings as such. It sounded like she had a fantastic mother who taught her many things, like how to garden and make medicines and salves. I was struck by the duality of our childhoods. I had many siblings and cousins and two parents, though I can’t say I was especially close to most of them. For Tala, she had no siblings but she was very tight and had a great relationship with her mother. That must’ve be nice… 

    Frysta and Taraminder took last watch. [[Frysta made breakfast with Taraminder’s help, again. She told Taraminder she enjoyed her peaceful presence. Frysta had to convince her she just did it passively and that she didn’t need to. Frysta did ok at convincing Taraminder that she was one of us, a good guy.]] +1 night

    Frysta led us in travel, and we only encountered a few minor setbacks. +1 Nights (?)

    It became the evening before battle the next day. Ainsel and Taraminder had nerves, and Anock was watching Cari intently. Tala wanted to plan but Lorcann and I talked her out of that. Tala took first watch with Anock. 

    [[Tala was attempting to whittle a coin, and she asked Anock if she was worried about tomorrow. Anock said she was and also about Cari. “I am remembering a few things about myself..” She looked at the sleeping Ainsel, “Ainsel confronts his morning, but Cari seems to bury hers. I understand. I know I was a soldier in a life I cannot remember… Seeing her suffering, even as well as she hides it, pains me.” Frysta and Taraminder took last watch. She made breakfast and Taraminder assisted as was routine by then. Taraminder admitted that she was nervous about the fight. ]] +1 night

    Tala’s coin turned out pretty good, and she gave it to Taraminder. There was a leaf etched in it. I showed Lorcann the insignia from the letter out of curiosity, and he actually said “I’ve seen it. But I don’t remember the particulars.” I had this vile mix of elation and worry come through me at his words, and as I carefully refolded and tucked the letter away I muttered, “Information is overrated anyway…”


    Had crappy dreams, went to the Raiders and negotiated that they would have the majority of the loot from The Mound and no pursuit from the militia. Frysta and Taraminder start the routine of making breakfast together in the morning during third watch. 

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Episode 16

   Morning of the day we assaulted The Mound.

   Lorcann, Anock, Cari, Ainsel, and Taraminder are with us, as are the Llanmarec militia and the Gurngak Raiders. Tala wanted to do some planning on how we would get into The Mound, and Taraminder suggested we sneak in with a party of Raiders pretending to be defecting back to Krol and Company. We went to talk to Gurngak, and I most certainly felt my halfling luck kick in when I was persuading him to agree to the plan!

    After a brief talk with Lorcann we decided to go talk with Captain Steralda as well to get feedback on it. She was perfectly fine with it and didn’t have much to say about it. Later on we met up with the Raiders who would sneak in with us. I lightly insulted them, calling them Gurngak 1, Gurngak 2… Then Brunar introduced himself and crushed a small rock by flexing his arm muscles. I hid behind Tala after that. I charmed a perimeter guard into letting us pass when Tala was about to be caught in a lie. We then talked to an older dwarf who was hard of hearing, and without using a spell I was doing poorly at finding out where exactly Big Sig was with the engine. I then had an idea and went up to a third fellow and told them I had been assigned to watch the engine but I didn’t know where it was because the instructions had been in orcish… likely this fellow was half-orc. I charmed him because I had no confidence in myself, and he was no more helpful than the others, though he said one of the engine guards was named Frankie, the short one with the axes, and his name was Fhim. Also, the engine was dangerous, and guarding it was a bad detail to get. I hinted that I thought I had pissed off Big Sig, and maybe that wasn’t such a good idea…

    [[Cut scene: Big Sig sneered as he saw Cari get closer, “Damn, devotee, making a move on the Engine!” Behind him were his most loyal guards, and to them Big Sig said, “all of you, with me!”]]

    We had almost reached The Mound itself when defenders attacked us. They got good strikes at us,, and initially I missed with my rapier. Then fiendish things dropped from the sky fire and attacked us as well. These had large bug eyes. I downed a bandit with Aunt Zaya’s toughness before going back to help Frysta. Frysta tried to shove the imp-like creature but it nimbly dodged out of the way. It was clear that these creatures were demonic and that they came from the abyss; moreover, we knew there was a connection between the abyss and the salvation key, perhaps due to the corruption. More demons appeared, but this second group was different than the first. I used a shadow depletion on one. In the midst of battle we heard a booming voice ring out, though I didn’t catch the words. Cari recognized it as her fallen master’s voice. Then it came again, “Have I taught you nothing? You would destroy all of creation! How could I have been so blind?” It sounded like he was talking to a pupil, and Cari didn’t know who that could be as he’s had many pupils over the centuries. Perhaps someone he trusted got close enough to corrupt his work. She said her master was a capable warrior and an angelic creature. 

    After clearing through that group of baddies the others noticed that we could go though a side passage instead of fighting through more to get to the front doors. Tala gave me a rather poor Cure Wounds. We headed to the side passage, though there were still a few demons in front of it. Dreading to lose a spell slot but having a good opportunity to use one, I cast thunderwave at second level for awesome damage. The others battered the last remaining one and I insulted for the final blow. I used Sev’s pearl to regain that second level spell slot. 

    We headed into the side passage and into The Mound. We did a decent job at moving stealthily, and ahead of us in the middle of the hallway we saw some guards arguing over who had been possessed by some entity. I rushed up to them and attempted to trick them into telling me where the engine was. I did a good enough job that I confused them, and the others spotted the fact that one of the guards was in fact an animated corpse. As soon as they said that aloud, the corpse let out a frightening shriek. The other guards bolted, and my companions were scared of it while I alone remained un-frightened. My strongest fears lay with the living, not the dead. 

    We fought this creature, though all of us had a hard time hitting it. The corpse’s name was Borgolth. It seemed to have some kind of vendetta against me specifically, though in all fairness I was one of the few near it. After destroying that corpse a jelly-like creature came out of it and slithered into another body. It didn’t seem to take cold or fire damage as it should. It was a dyybuk. Frysta caught on to its methods and started shooting corpses. Taraminder then saw what she was doing and followed suit. With not more corpses to inhabit, we finished the dyybuk off. Cari couldn’t heal my (hp maximum reduction). 

    Further into The Mound, Tala almost triggered a trap, and then she and Frysta tried to disarm it. There was a moment when Tala almost tripped it again, but Frysta and Ainsel saved us. We came to a set of large wooden doors that clearly led to a large chamber. Not wanting to be surprised, I cast Detect Thoughts preemptively, but I didn’t sense any thoughts within 30ft of the door. So, we burst into the chamber. It was indeed a huge room, and there was a raised platform in its center that must have been used for a huge fire long ago. It now held a large, haphazard metal cage with the engine inside it. At the base of the center platform was Big Sig, with a spike from the engine impaling him with energy. “Welcome to the witnesses of the Godsgift!” He called out as energies from the engine traveled down the spike and into him. He turned the energy into a whip for effect, though we were not close enough then for him to strike us. We were about 75ft away from him. 

    To start the battle, Tala did a great Guiding Bolt followed by her Starry Form Archer bow shot. Being so far away and lacking spell slots, I cast Vicious Mockery for the second time that day. Even though we hit Big Sig, he seemed to regain some health via the spike. Tala paused for a moment and investigated why that was, and then she called out that we needed to hit the spike! Next I threw my two non-hidden daggers, one from Yorrin, the schmuck, and one from Cari. Only one dagger struck the spike as the spike was still a bit away. I picked up one dagger as I got closer to the spike and shattered it with my rapier. That really pissed off Big Sig and he turned around and stunned me which was very annoying. An angelic figure manifested above us and hovered near the engine. Cari froze, though she still successfully protected me from a punch from Big Sig. We knocked down Big Sig, and Tala tried to shout at Cari to snap out of it. When I could act I kicked Cari in the shin and also yelled at her to snap out of it; that worked wonderfully. The angelic figure beat their wings to try and keep us from the engine, but we eventually helped Cari assemble the pieces of the other broken items. Cari said the figure was a vision or a part of her old master. The pieces catalyzed and the engine collapsed forward into a dark star. The figure was sucked into the dark hole. We know the void is not harmless, but now, as long as no one approaches it, no one is in any immediate danger. 


Snuck into camps surrounding The Mound by pretending to be part of Krol and Company. Fought our way into The Mound while facing bandits and demons alike. Faced Big Sig and defeated him. We put together the pieces of the others key pieces and the engine imploded.

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Episode 17

    Ainsel, Anock, Taraminder, and Cari are with us in The Mound after just defeating the Big Sig. I put on Darcy’s Poultice (took one of the two uses); it was numbing and cooling but otherwise did nothing immediate. The void we opened was not a rift, but more like an empty space or a black hole. I picked up my other thrown dagger before we left the room for a rest. We didn’t go too far away from the massive chamber we fought Big Sig in. Thalaeros is Cari’s old master’s name. Tala gave us each five Goodberries before the short rest; I ate mine, and Frysta saved hers. We completed a short rest. I played my Grandpa’s flute to provide a song of rest, and my health point max reduction was miraculously undone. Tala talked with Cari, she thought her master was betrayed, but she doesn’t know by whom. We went investigating and found the following: a circlet, a stone with a ring of opals around it, a tuning fork-looking thing, a jug with different spouts, and a bag that was stitched and embroidered. Frysta identified the circlet as a Circlet of Blasting and the stone as a Luckstone. We decided Frysta should keep the Circlet and that I should take the Luckstone. Ainsel helped out and identified the tuning fork as a Chime of Opening that has ten uses. After a moment we began to wonder about the bag, as we now had a lot of heavy coins in our possession. Frysta investigated it and we understood that it was a Bag of Holding. We also found coins (70gp, 1050sp, and 2100cp each), and a healing potion for each of us. I put 2100cp and 1059sp into the bag of holding, which Frysta will hold.

    We hadn’t heard fighting in a while, and looking out we only saw Llanmarec militia folks, no Raiders. We went over to talk to Captain Steralda, and we told her Big Sig was dead. On impulse I showed her the insignia, and she said she didn’t know it, but it was not a local group; perhaps I could have better luck closer to a big city. We didn’t find any more loot in The Mound. 

    We retired to a nearby campsite; the militia was camping nearby/around us. Lorcann joined us at our camp and handed me a notebook. He said it contained what he remembered about the insignia I had shown him. What he drew was not an exact match, but it showed an eye with half of it covered by a curtain. There was a name too, “Fate’s Design,” written in common. The rest of the book was empty, and I asked if he remembered anything else, like what the group did or what vibes they gave off. Lorcann didn’t remember anything like that; they were just some kind of group, a collection.  

    As the sun started to sink, three falling stars shot out from the setting sun like dying rays. Frysta and I noticed those bright specks seemed to be descending towards us. We had to look away because the lights were so bright, and when we could see again we saw three tall, glowing angels hovering in front of us. It seemed the light of Solanthra was with them. One stepped forward and said, “I am the flames of the dawn’s wrath. I am here for one amongst you.” Tala stepped closer to Cari as Cari herself stepped forwards with defiance. The angel said, “Carianthe, you have disobeyed commandments; you were told not to interfere, and you failed to uphold these commandments of yours. You are to return to the realm of dawnlight and face punishment with dignity.” Cari stood for a moment, fists at her sides and replied, “No, my duty is to Thalaeros, and that is greater than me, greater than us. Perhaps even greater than Solanthra herself.” The angels narrowed their eyes at her, and the one who had spoken before said, “Her gifts are meant for those who will act in her service. As Justicar, I find you unworthy.” A divine sword blazed in her hand, and she slashed. Around Cari, the mortal image she wore was disrupted; her wings unfurled and then curled back, twitching in pain. Cari stood, her form no longer with the soft glow; her golden eyes just a light brown now, still defiant. Once the angels had given her judgment, they had nothing more to say. In silence, the three angels left, flying back to the setting sun. Tala and Frysta spoke with her, and we understood that Cari will still go on fighting and trying to find her master. I didn’t say anything then, though I asked Cari to stay up with me for the first watch. We didn’t really need watches as the militia around us would be enough protection. I told Cari I too had been reamed out by one I admired and who I looked up to. I felt that I shared this dark swirl of emotions with the once paladin of the light. She was kind and receptive to my words, and she explained a little about her kind. There is a hierarchy, with Solanthra herself at the top of course. Then there are ranks beneath her. Cari’s hand went to her chest, and it seemed she no longer had Solanthra with her, unlike Ainsel, now. Cari mentioned it was hard to put her feelings and the situation into words, and I too knew that circumstance. I offered to play a tune to better capture those emotions. Not only did I do a marvelous job of understanding the emotions, but I did a pretty good job of playing a tune to capture them. I was crying by the tune’s end, and Cari embraced me as it seemed I had touched something in her as well. 

    Tala took the second watch, and at the end she tied my shoelaces together (though in truth I don’t think I have shoes let alone laces). Taraminder and Frysta took the last watch and made breakfast together. They talked about cooking. We completed a long rest. + 1 night

    I woke up and though I tripped over my feet and was still groggy, I immediately knew Tala was the one who pranked me. For fun I tried to handstand my way to food, and I did a pretty good job of that. We went over to Captain Steralda to tell her about Folmar taking bribes from Big Sig. She didn’t think it would be a good idea for us to go spreading this information around, and she certainly didn’t think it would be a good idea to oust him from power. 

    We walked the three days back to Llanmarec with the militia, and we no longer felt the tug on our fey death marks. Cari was more withdrawn.  + 2 nights

    Back in Llanmarec, there was a lot more activity now that the boundaries were down. There were more king’s guards up from Wintervaeld, and we were treated well by the locals if not like outright heroes. A page found us and read us a letter from Folmar, “Elder Folmar wishes to speak with you, of course at your convenience, but he has requested that you join him for dinner this evening.” Tala asked about the new title of “Elder,” and the page replied that the Duke of Wintervaeld had given Folmar greater governing power. I replied simply that we would meet Folmar (no title) for dinner. We had a few hours before dinner, so we bathed and generally cleaned ourselves up. Ainsel and Taraminder went with us to dinner while Cari wasn’t feeling up for it and Anock was being pensive. Lorcann begged out of it as he didn’t like politics. 

    We had discussed a course of action, and I really didn’t want to give Folmar the money. We decided I would take the lead in talking with him. I cast Detect Thoughts right before we entered the manor, and Tala gave me guidance as well. However, it lasted only long enough for me to hear some of the servant’s thoughts which were uninteresting; they thought, “These folks look better than I was expecting; they seem important.” We did see security around the manor. We entered the dining room and Folmar was at the opposite end. Seeing us, he gathered up his papers and handed them to an attendant. I cast Detect Thoughts immediately followed by Minor Illusion to hope to mask the Detect Thoughts casting. This was a second Detect Thoughts as the previous one ran out. However, it seemed Folmar was generally aware of what I was doing as his surface thoughts were, “Ah, a studier of the arcane,” and he seemed to be trying to hide his thoughts. Crap. Well, too late to back out now. I sensed he was a little bit impressed and cautious now. I continued my Minor Illusion casting and made a crude image of the engine with the spike protruding out of it. I explained that this is what we saw, and from Detect Thoughts I realized he was intrigued; this information seemed new to him. I then recast Minor Illusion and showed Folmar an image of the void. Again, he seemed intrigued primarily, a sort of academic curiosity. I realized then that telling him about the void might’ve been a mistake, so I hastily ended the casting. I asked him if he had any questions for us. He replied that he merely wanted to congratulate us on our success and to check in on our business deal. His thoughts were swirling around, “Let them try to get out of our deal,” - crap. Tala asked him about his new title, and he replied that yes, the Duke had offered him new responsibilities. Detect thoughts ran out at that time, and I broached the subject of our deal. I explained that we hadn’t found 1000gp, but we had found a pile of copper. I tried to deceive him by saying we had found a note that Big Sig was paying a lot of money to folks. Even with divine help I did very poorly at the deception, and he asked if I thought he was a fool. I replied that no, I did not, though did he think I was a fool? He smiled a little and said that he was not unreasonable. He believed that we did not find all the gold that we owed him, and he said that we should pay what we can and then pay the rest later on. He was sure we could find a solution to the problem. Later on I showed him the sketch Lorcann drew of the insignia, but Folmar didn’t know it, which figures…

    After dinner, which was lovely except for the tension in the room, I asked Folmar about his interest in my casting earlier. He said he knew a little about divination magics, and immediately I saw my previous casting of Detect Thoughts as a mistake. This guy is a diviner; and detect thoughts is a divination spell to be sure. Oops. Well, he seemed pleasant enough, actually. Away from the manor I shared everything I had learned with my companions. 

    Ainsel offered to host us at the temple, and Frysta and I were happy with that. Tala wanted to get a room at the inn. Ainsel led us to where we could sleep, and he left us for a moment before running back yelling, “They’re gone! And she left this-” he handed us a note written by Cari. It read, “You have pure hearts, but I do not wish to expose you to any further danger. I must pursue this path alone.” By the end of the short letter I was feeling an awful sense of deja vu coupled with a vile mix of anger, hurt, and loss. Her words had an eerie parallel to those used by my brother, in his own letter of farewell. It looked like she had taken Berigg’s notes and run off without us. 

    [[Cari descended and deposited the heavy bag of notes on a balcony. She turned and leaned against the balcony railing. Angry and frustrated, she looked at the city’s dark nighttime landscape. A bizarre green fungus moved along the mansion walls and slid down, bristling with energy. It formed a portal to a desolate land, and a serpentine creature, hidden under a cloak, slithered through the gate and into the sitting room. She had a broad, angular, and chiseled face, yellow eyes, and long, loose black hair which fell down her back. She had lines of braids at her brow, and her skin was bronze and calloused. She wore gems and precious metals on her forearms and wrists. She spoke, “Veins whisper your fall from grace,” and gave a smile, revealing two viperous teeth. Cari scoffed but said nothing; she was clearly unhappy at meeting this figure. The serpentine woman just smiled, “You have need of my services once more.” Cari replied, “I require another shard,” and the woman laughed and tossed her hair. Moving towards the balcony the figure said, “You’ve barely paid for the first one.” Cari said again, “Madruvesha, I require another shard.” The serpent woman raised her eyebrows, “In your present state, no, you would not survive the journey.” “Find a way,” Cari said. Madruvesha considered, then gripped Cari’s arms, “The cost will be tremendous.” Cari closed her eyes and pulled away, and the woman said, “I thought not.” Cari looked back and said, “Do whatever it takes.” Madruvesha grinned deviously and slithered back through the portal. The fungus cracked and retreated back into the stone. Alone, committed, and determined, Cari looked over the city.]]

Sendings at first opportunity next session:
To Beck: “Hi, brother! I learned how to send thoughts! Isn’t that neat? Just checking in; how are you? I’ve met some new friends; I miss you.”
To Sev: “Hi, brother! I learned how to send thoughts! Isn’t that neat? I’m doing well; met some new friends, but I miss everyone at home terribly.”


Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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Episode 19

    In Llanmarec with Ainsel, Anock, Taraminder, and Lorcann, but Ainsel had just found out Cari had taken Berigg’s notes and left. Taraminder, Frysta, and I were with him when he found this out while Tala was in the local tavern. We will be going to Wintervaeld soon.

    [[Tala has been thinking that she can go to Wintervaeld now; but, she went to the tavern instead of the temple because she is really intrigued by social gatherings. She just wanted to sit and people watch. She saw drunkards calling for stories and songs. Lorcann was there as well. Tala opted out of paying 3gp for a room, and instead found a nice natural bed of a bush.]]

    I suddenly got a bad feeling that Folmar is unduly interested in me now because of the detect thoughts spell… oops. In the temple, Frysta looked for signs of where Cari might have gone or in what manner she left, but it seemed like Cari didn’t want to be followed. Someone took care to not leave clues behind. Frysta didn’t want to jump to conclusions; she suggested that perhaps Cari was taken. Ainsel suggested that we reconvene in the morning.

    Before bed I sent a Sending to Beck. It reached him, and just as the spell was about to end he did in fact reply, “I told you not to come looking for me; I meant it.” From his words I got the goofiest grin on my face. He was alive! And, he was still himself - the protective older brother. His words were not ideal, but I paid them less mind than perhaps I ought to. Of course I was going after him! No question there. Then I sent a Sending to Sev. He replied, ~“Is this little Andy? Good to hear your voice! Lots of fun things happening here. Leaf has a kid on the way. Maybe come back in a couple of months.” My grin grew even wider at his response. I suddenly felt much lighter; my homesickness that I had been carrying around for weeks now vanished in a puff of smoke! My family back home was doing well, and Beck was alive! I hummed to myself as I went to bed; Frysta also had a small smile, sensing my good mood. + 1 night

    We then took long rests. After four hours Frysta got up and walked around, reminiscing that this temple was where she met Andy and Tala. Before dawn Taraminder joined Frysta and they went to the kitchens to make breakfast. At breakfast, Ainsel was pensive, and I was in a very happy mood. I threw a potato at Ainsel, and it was probably the best throw I’ve ever done with a potato. I hit him square on the forehead. I told him if he wouldn’t share his thoughts then I might cast detect thoughts on him. He said, “No you wouldn’t!” to which I replied, “How do you know I haven’t already cast it?” He said he knew the spell, that he had seen me cast it before, and that I hadn’t done it that morning. I replied that maybe throwing the potato is the somatic component of the spell, and he scoffed at that. Frysta got involved and we had a whole conversation on the possibility of using a potato as a spellcasting component or focus. 

    After breakfast we went back into town and met up with Tala at the tavern. Lorcann was there and mentioned that the Spiriari temples have wild parties. Then we went to the Records house as that was where Anock was. The Records house held business and government records. I asked the clerk about the insignia, and he took out a huge, dusty tome that was his catalog, but there was no mention of such a mark. He offered to send word to other record places, but I politely declined that request. For one I didn’t have a forwarding address on anything that might be found, and two, I didn’t want there to be a paper trail of my interest. Frysta then asked the clerk about strange weather phenomena in the area, and he said there was a particularly cold winter two years ago. The ground froze deeper than usual and stayed frozen for longer. Frysta was surprised that she got any answer, and there was frustration in her expression too. She then just left the Records house. Tala asked where Anock was, and the cleric pointed her out to us. Anock elected to go with us to the Wintervaeld. 

    Before leaving Llanmarec we stopped by the banker/office of Folmar and gave the clerk 300gp worth of silver (100gp from each of us). Tala also exchanged 2000cp for 20gp. I collected the two receipts as clearly Tala thought the slips of paper were kindling, and the clerk looked like he was about to have a heart attack at her flippancy. She asked the clerk about taxes, and he happily explained different taxes and such to her, though she didn’t understand any of it. We stopped by the provisioner’s shop because I wanted to ask one last time about Beck. The shopkeep had more to say this time, and they said Beck bought rations and standard traveling equipment back about a month ago. He seemed to be a traveler; he wore a cloak and only asked if there were rumors of trouble, like bandits, in the area. The shopkeep said they replied in the affirmative. Then we went to the blacksmith’s shop and Frysta bought 100 arrows. Finally we went to see Captain Steralda. Tala wanted to say goodbye. Steralda was talking with an important-looking fellow. Frysta and I figured he was a general or a major, a very high-ranking fellow in the guards sent up from Wintervaeld. He introduced himself as Major Wulfgard. He said Steralda spoke very highly of us. Apparently the Duke had already started back to Wintervaeld, but the Major and his group of soldiers would start back within the hour. He invited us to join him. I tried to insight check this major, but I didn’t detect anything. Tala gave a brief explanation of our exploits to the Major, and he gave a laugh and said that Tala would fit right in with his (boasting) soldiers. 

    During the first evening of camping with Major Wulfgard’s group Tala talked with Anock about the Records house. Anock said she will have to do more searching. I played an upbeat song with my flute as I was thinking about all the fun things to do in a city. Ainsel had a curious look on his face, so I asked Frysta for a potato. Ainsel immediately recognized what I was about to do, and he said, “Andy, stop it! I know what you are thinking-” I retorted, “Yeah? So you know what I am thinking, but I don’t get to know what you are thinking? This seems like a one-way street when it should go both ways.” He sighed and conceded, “Fine, it’s just I didn’t want to bring down the mood. And, it’s not my thoughts anyway.” He looked at Frysta, “Your expression at the records house…” Frysta engaged, shockingly, and said that it just wasn’t what she was expecting to hear. The cold was worshiped where she was from, but she was always shivering, and she grew to resent it. We left the watches to the soldiers. We did however talk more about the potato, and we called it the speaking potato. Whoever had it was the only one who could speak. I gave it to Frysta who dared anyone who didn’t agree with her to speak up. Lorcann mimed counting off reasons, but none of us spoke. Tala seemed to really believe there was something magical about the potato.

    [[Tala got up shortly into the night and took out the potato from the bag of holding and tried speaking to it. It didn’t respond, and she made a little nest for it. Frysta was aware that Tala took something out of the bag of holding.]] +1 night

    In the morning, the potato nest was empty, and Tala expertly noticed fox footprints nearby. She also did a terrible job of keeping her internal screaming at bay, though that early in the morning none of us had a great idea of what she was worried about. We continued traveling with Major Wulfgard to Wintervaeld. +7 nights - ish

    We arrived in Wintervaeld! As we entered the city, Major Wulfgard approached us specifically and said, “Would you mind coming back to the barracks office with me?” Frysta and I were immediately suspicious, but we detected no hint of danger or a trap. He said he just wanted a quick chat. We agreed, and we followed him to his office in the barracks. He sat down behind his desk, and said, “Please make yourselves comfortable.” Tala and Frysta sat on the bench while I sat on a chair. Frysta was being overtly suspicious of the major, and he said, “Be at ease, enough peacocking. As I said, I wanted you here for a quick conversation. I will likely not always be available, but from what I’ve heard from Steralda, you’ve done quite a bit, and should you continue these paths, or if you need anything else, or if you need something of the city guard, I will put you in contact with the best, Ealdric, one of the captains. You may be able to reach him more often than myself. Treat him as if you were talking to me. If you need anything of the guard, he can help.” There came a knock on the door, and the major said, “Come in.” In came a human figure, 30s, fit, in a guard’s uniform. The figure said, “You wanted to see me major?” The major replied, “Yes. This is Captain Ealdric. Ealdric, these are very important people.” Tala, Frysta, and I all reacted very differently to that statement as the major continued, “If they come around, Ealdric, make sure they are helped. Steralda speaks highly of them.” The captain nodded and replied, “Understood.” Turning to us he said, “I am Captain Ealdric, and perhaps I should know your names.” We introduced ourselves. Lorcann said he thought he’d seen Ealdric before. Ealdric then continued, “Pleasure to make your acquaintance, would you like a tour of the city?” Tala immediately replied, “Yes!” and Frysta grudgingly agreed. I asked the major if he had seen the eye insignia, and he had not, but he suggested I ask Ealdric. I did that, and Ealdric was more useful. He said that officers had reported seeing that insignia in shady areas. It seemed the group was a small up and coming cult, something secular. He asked me to share any information I gathered about the group with him, and I asked the same in return. 

    For the tour, Ealdric asked if there was any place or anything in particular we wanted to see. Tala asked to be taken to a library. Ealdric said there are many libraries. We asked for inn recommendations, and at first he suggested the Exotic Swallow, but it seemed expensive, so he then recommended the Silver Giant. It was a large building, three stories tall. It looked like we could use the kitchens if we wanted to prepare our own food. We booked the suite on the third floor for a week for 14gp from the group funds. 

    Did two Sendings (first time with Sending), one to Beck and one to Sev. Beck replied! Sev also replied with happy things from home. Went to bed happy in Llanmarec’s temple to Solanthra. In the morning we had a discussion on a potato as a spell focus/component with Ainsel and Frysta. Joined back with Tala and collected Lorcann. Went to the Records house in Llanmarec and collected Anock. Headed out to Wintervaeld with Major Wolfgard who thinks very highly of us because Steralda liked us. Got back to Wintervaeld, and the Major introduced us to Ealdric, a captain of the city guard. We paid for a week of suite lodging in the Silver Giant.
~9  nights total


For the three weeks in Wintervaeld:
-Sendings to Fam: I will be in regular contact with home. I will alternate between my siblings (Sev, Karick, Stef, and Forz), with a sending every other day. I will ask about Tan (Stef’s son), about Ma and Da, and about Grandma Stefania. I will tell them that I’m now in Wintervaeld while downplaying the dangers of Llanmarec, The Mound, etc. I will be sure to tell Sev that the pearl he gave me (from the triplets Splash, Willow, and Leaf) has definitely come in handy, and that the insults from Karick also saved my skin more than once. I will ask if the Skyfire crisis affected them at all, and I will ask if they’ve heard any news about the outside world (or learned anything about Beck) since I’ve left. 
-Sendings to Beck: day one of being in Wintervaeld: “Oh, stop being such a grump! You are not the only reason I left. Fate’s Design is looking for you too. Home is doing well.” End of the first week: “You cut me out of your life, but I will not cut you out of mine. I’m in Wintervaeld now, studying and performing. Love you!” For the following two weeks I’d send Beck a Sending at the end of each week telling him what I’d been doing. 
-Look for a tavern more on the shady side to play in for the evenings (to make money and to listen to gossip). Part of this is to get to know folks who might know something about the insignia group. I’d pay a silver for any new info on them. Standard procedure is I’d tell anything I learned to the guards at the end of each week. 
-Ask Ealdric who of his guards knew about the insignia and ask them what they know.
-Locate a Brass Brazier
-Look casually for magic items, particularly those associated with divination and instruments. I will also look out for spell scrolls
-Briefly visit the bard colleges and wizard school(s). Purpose here is to learn a bit and show off a bit. If there were any competitions at the bard colleges I would try and participate.
-Look for a history teacher to start the 8 weeks of training to become proficient in History


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Episode 19

    During the three weeks we were in Wintervaeld, I gave Frysta the disguise kit for the bag of holding. We were all staying at the Silver Giant Inn in separate rooms after the first week.

    [[Dust stirs where we found Anock. The paths were empty. Further north there was a tomb where we faced and defeated enemies and found Berigg. Within that place, heavy metallic steps descended into the lower chambers. They came to rest beside the body of Kailandros. Then light glimmered from above, bathing the area in beams of holy energy. Father Kailandros was brought back to life (by Cari?). His savior was standing over him as he said with his dusty voice, “You?”]]

    We had been busy in Wintervaeld for three weeks. Frysta was on the search for information and answers about the existence that what she knows is not a solitary event. Easily accessible libraries didn’t have much information on strange weather phenomena that wasn’t in the local area. Using the disguise kit I gave her, Frysta adopted a lot of different faces to access different libraries. Some of these disguises were caught by the city guards, so she was often brought before Captain Ealdric. By the end of the three weeks, he was not surprised whenever she was brought in, but he just wanted to know what new identities she had used - he had a running list. She still had one face, a student, a mage by the name of Polly, that gave her access to the university’s library. The city guards were not overly fond of Frysta. Tala also spent her time searching. She looked through the public libraries, and she still has not found Sina. The only libraries that were left were those that were privately owned. The largest of these is the royal library, which Tala knew was hard to get into. But, she had narrowed down her search. Tala had also been learning the town, the markets, and situating herself in this new environment. She earned gold on small jobs but quickly spent the money. She took trips to the temple too. There was one temple that was quite large and devoted to many of the deities. The deity that called to her was Aungvinod. Tala came to know Cevethi, an acolyte at the temple.

    I had been chatting with home via Sending. Everything there was about as exciting as before I left. There was the occasional earful from Grandma Stefania. Luckily the Skyfire Crisis didn’t directly impact the Hills, but the barriers affected them by trapping several travelers there. My family hosted some trapped travelers. Everyone was excited for Leaf’s kid to arrive though it wouldn’t be for months still. I found myself in the northern, more shady portions of the city where the goblinkind and other monstrous races make their claims. I often played in the Stale Ale tavern, and though I tried to find information on Fate’s Design, no one would tell me anything for 1sp. Ealdric pointed me to the guards who had seen the symbol, but most couldn’t tell me anything useful. They had seen the insignia as a tattoo or a marker, but they still didn’t know anything about their activities. I also noticed that Ealdric was getting disgruntled about Frysta. I enrolled in a course in historical sciences taught by Archibald Rushon at the university. He’s a quirky professor but good at teaching. Though I did Sending to Beck several times, he didn’t reply anymore. He received them all right but just didn’t say anything back. I did find a brass brazier for the find familiar spell, and I saw magic items for sale, but they were expensive. Tala gave me 50gp to help pay for my history class. +3 weeks

    Ainsel contacted us and invited us to join him for dinner and discussion at a restaurant in the city. Anock, Lorcann, and Taraminder were there too. When we were gathered, the pain of Cari leaving came back to us all. Dinner proceeded, and we chatted about what we had been up to. Lorcann had helped Taraminder get an updated prosthetic arm and a toolkit to fix it on her own. Ainsel was finally ready to speak and he said that he had a new benefactor - Delwyn Strevengar. This is the same fellow we met in The Mound and later saw leaving Llanmarec. Ainsel said he was going after the Salvation Key. He had reproduced some of Berigg’s notes. He said he knew us and trusted us, and he invited us along. We all agreed to help for various reasons. Tala came clean about building a nest for the speaking potato and then it being taken by a fox. Ainsel still seemed to be holding something back, so I asked Frysta for a potato, and I did a great job of hitting him square on the forehead, exactly as I had done back in Llanmarec, while also avoiding notice of the waitstaff. Ainsel was very cagey, but I suspected he had the hots for Frysta! Before he left, Ainsel said he would let his patron know that we would be interested in meeting him. 

     A week later, we went to meet Strevengar. The tavern was very nice, but thick rain made the cobblestones slick and reduced our visibility. Ainsel, Lorcann, Anock, and Taraminder came too. We went to a reserved room to wait for Strevengar. Shortly, six people came in. The first two were gnomes, the same ones from The Mound, and they both went to the balcony. One dropped from the balcony into the street below. A third fellow, larger, stayed by the door. The other three seated themselves. Two were well-dressed nobles, and the third unwrapped his disguise to reveal Delwyn Strevengar himself. Seraphina and Xallin were the names of the gnomes, Gjorav was the bodyguard, and Enric and Rhoulon were the two advisors. Without much ado Strevengar got right to it, “Ainsel told me a bit about what you have been up to. You have come here for business, so let us discuss and not waste time.” I noticed that Rhoulon was fidgety and nervous throughout this. Strevengar continued, “You will need monetary assistance. I will fund your pursuits. But I will need assistance in regaining my house.” Tala asked a question which was politely answered. “House Parthenius has long been loyal to my parents, but they were the ones behind the murders of my parents and older brother. They are trying to seize our properties and assets. To stay safe, I have been needing to remain in hiding since returning. We have started the effort to recover my property, but if I could be out of hiding that process would go more quickly.  However, out of hiding, the agents of Lady Dominica would constantly be trying to kill me or make me a fool. My friends have allowed me insights into the courts but I will need help to gain my full assets if you are hoping to get the full breadth of a lord’s assistance.” Tala, very sweetly, asked what had happened to his house, “When did you last see it?” Strevengar replied politely that the physical house was not the problem but the reputation and prestige that the house represented, “It is more in the legal matters of recovering my house than any loss of a physical object.” I asked pointedly what kinds of tasks he would need of us. “I could write you a song about how terrible this rival house is, but frankly I don’t know a thing about legal matters.” Strevengar replied that there are a few matters in which we could be useful. For now he just wanted to know if we would be willing to help him. I asked for further introductions of his advisors as I was suspicious of Rhoulon. He was definitely nervous now, maybe paranoid? 

    [[Out in the dark, in the heavy rain, figures in dark clothing moved across the street. They were watching a brightly lit tavern, and one of the figures in the night wove a spell unheard over the rain and Seraphina, the gnome guard, fell asleep. And a bizarre unlife took its place beside the figure.]] 

    Tala heard the tavern beneath us go quiet. Then we noticed Seraphina was not standing at her post but instead lying unconscious in a puddle. Suddenly, a crossbow bolt was sticking out of Enric’s neck. Gjorav covered Delwyn as a bolt pierced his shoulder. I went out onto the balcony and cast Detect Thoughts to try and sense the presence of anything. I felt three creatures though they had limited thoughts. Climbing up the walls were three deathly, shadowed figures that Frysta noticed. She shot at them. Then we heard footsteps coming up the stairs, and two figures burst in and threw knives at all of us. Silvery Barbs saved me from a critical hit. Tala healed Gjorav. From the other side of the street, unseen figures shot at us. I slashed at the shadow creature which had attacked Frysta and did a defensive flourish. I also gave a Healing Word to Seraphina to make sure she wasn’t on death’s door. Frysta fey-stepped up on the roof and used the scorching ray helm, burning one to a crisp. Tala shook Seraphina awake. Once back to consciousness, Seraphina yelled out, “Xallin! Enemies!” Hopefully Xallin would go get those shooters from across the street. A shadow creature attacked me for really good damage and took away some of my strength. Another one hit Tala. I insulted the one who struck me with Dissonant Whispers, telling them they were a failure in every possible way. The creature melted into ash, so I went to another one and said boo. Even though I couldn’t see them, I insulted the figure across the way though I dealt rather sucky damage. Frysta did immense damage (40) on the last assassin in the room. Tala shot a Guiding Bolt at an assassin across the street, and the assassin whom I had insulted, turned himself around from running away and shot and missed Tala. I insulted that assassin again with Vicious Mockery and killed him. 

    Tala figured that these were well-trained and well-funded assassins. Gjorav said, “We will go south to the safehouse and decide our next course of action there.” I started to wonder if these assassins had something to do with Fate’s Design. Gjorav led us through the city’s alleys to avoid being followed. Rhoulon was slow with a limp. Enric was in shock. I wanted to check out Rhoulon as he seemed very much on edge. I cast Detect Thoughts, and in the rain I sidled up to him. His surface thoughts were something like, “Good thing she bought it,” and it seemed like he was referencing Tala. Tala bought something? Anyway, I asked him how he liked his employer, and immediately he thought in a panic, “How does she know! Get her away!” I did a very good job of not immediately yelling out that he was a schmuck, and I passed off what I said by asking directly about Strevengar. But, I probed deeper into his mind, wanting to know exactly who he worked for. I saw a meeting with a figure, a noble, fairly high-class. From his memories I knew this to be the Lady Dominica Parthenius. She was saying, “It would be a shame if anyone were to know of your frequent travels to the red candle district - that is quite unbecoming of one of your stature.” Through the memory I felt his shame and his desperate desire to keep things under wraps. There was a memory of a bribe handed over and an understanding formed. A sending stone and a wand was also given to Rhoulon by a figure. The figure said the stone is connected to the Lady, and the wand is for flares to keep the figure aware of their movements. Then a very recent memory, the faint of the sprained ankle to allow him to travel at the back of the group and shoot sparks into the sky. I sensed this overwhelming tide of panic and shame bubble up inside this schmuck, and I held my hands out, trying to calm him. My words were not sufficient to calm him, but he didn’t bolt either. 

    Just then we heard footsteps approaching, and we looked for a spot to hide so we could ambush our pursuers. I did great on initiative and used my extra time to use my pearl to regain a 2nd level spell slot. Tala then gave me impressive Darkvision - so cool! We saw two shadow creatures, an archer, and a mage. Frysta missed with her arrows, and I cast a solid 3rd level thunderwave on all of them, seriously damaging the mage. Shadow creatures attacked me, and one hit and further sapped my strength, which was starting to get alarmingly low. The archer missed Frysta, and a Guiding Bolt from Tala downed the mage. Frysta killed the archer with an arrow. I slashed with my rapier at the shadow creatures and used a bardic to do slashing flourish, but the creatures were resistant to my attacks and they weren’t dealing much damage to begin with. Tala did Guiding Bolt to immolate one of the shadow creatures. Frysta ended the last one. I quickly looked at the mage’s dead body, but there was nothing on them. This was the mage who had interacted with Rhoulon. Gjorav was heading to the safehouse even though Tala had concerns that Rhoulon might’ve told his actual boss where it was. 

    We all did things for three weeks in Wintervaeld. Ainsel brought us back together and seemed flustered by Frysta, and he said he had found a patron, Delwyn Strevengar. We said we would like to meet him, so he set up a meeting. We met Strevengar, his two advisors, his bodyguard, and his two gnome friends. He wanted our help reestablishing his house, but shortly into this meeting we became aware that Seraphina, the gnome outside, was unconscious. We were ambushed. Two assailants inside, two shooters from across the street, and three shadow creatures climbing the walls attacked us. We fought them off, though the shadow creatures sapped my strength and Tala’s. We ran from the tavern and were headed for a safehouse when I started having serious questions about Rhoulon. I cast detect thoughts and sidled up next to him. Very quickly my suspicions were confirmed; he had been blackmailed and bribed by Lady Dominica Parthenius and he was leading people right to us. We just had time to hide before assailants were upon us. We killed them and then continued to the safehouse. 


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Episode 20

    Running with Strevengar, Gjorav, Rhoulon, Enric, Taraminder, Ainsel, and Lorcann through Wintervaeld to reach the safehouse. Gjorav took the lead to take us to the safe house. We arrived at the narrow, 2 story dwelling. The few windows had curtains drawn. There was someone already there; they sat, relaxing, with a glass of wine. She closed her notebook and smiled. Immediately she looked beyond our group to Delwyn, “Delwyn, I was wondering when you’d be getting home.” Delwyn replied, stuttering, “Kyrissa? What are you doing here?” Gjorav took his sword and leveled it on the figure, “She is making sure her assassins finished the job.” Kyrissa replied, “Mother sent more of them?” Tala knew that the woman seemed genuinely surprised at the latest attempt and at Gjorav’s sword leveled at her. Tala introduced herself, and Kyrissa said, “We were friends in our youth. Well, after I saw Delwyn during his nightly excursions to the red candle district, I thought we could rekindle our relationship.” Delwyn hid his face in his hands at that, and Gjorav was mad. Kyrissa continued, “I am Kyrissa Parthenius.” Tala said, “We were just attacked by your mother-” Kyrissa cut in, “I am sorry that happened.” Tala asked why we should trust her. Kyrissa replied because this is exciting, so much more than staying at home playing the fourth violin. I knew that as the fourth daughter she would not inherit anything; likely she was bored at home and had no investment in her mother’s schemes. I said to her, “You play the violin? I’d like to see you play.” Tala whispered to me, “Stop flirting!” I replied, “What? From one performer to another, I haven’t seen another violin player in ages!” Kyrissa was half-elf as it seemed her mother was as well. Tala took me aside for a second and asked if Rhoulon might have known her as a spy? I said I didn’t think Rhoulon knew of her like that. I told Gjorav to either kill her or put down the sword. Delwyn said to put it down, and the bodyguard did. He said he still didn’t trust her. 

    That settled, I went to the kitchen to find some food. Tala talked with Kyrissa and asked how her mother had found out about Rhoulon’s indiscretions. Kyrissa replied that her mother had spies all over the city. Tala asked about what the red candle district was. Kyrissa replied very tactfully while Frysta stepped out to not laugh. She looked around the safehouse, but nothing was out of the ordinary. Seraphina came in and said she and Xallin had followed agents back to Mudfoot manor, though they couldn’t get close enough to overhear anything with the number of lookouts there. Xallin was still there keeping watch. Mudfoot manor is the eastern slum district where brickmakers live and work. Seraphina then went into the kitchens and saw me eating some snacks. She jumped up to grab her secret stash, and I wanted to have some of that, but she kept her cookies to herself! She even said she didn’t like music and instead preferred nature’s sounds. I was greatly insulted at that, and also she had cookies she didn’t share! 

    Anyway, I went back to the common room and Tala asked what we should do now. Gjorav said we should rest. Delwyn offered we could sleep upstairs; he included Kyrissa in that invitation. I wanted the stone from Rhoulon, but he said, “What stone?” I asked Gjorav to stick him with his sword, but the bodyguard wasn’t persuaded. Rhoulon wanted some “fresh air” and Gjorav went with him to keep watch. I didn’t trust Rhoulon an inch with that stone, but whatever; I was too tired to care. I did ask for the wand, and he handed me one. Tala turned into a wolf and went out onto the porch with the other two. The rest of us bedded down and got short rests. However, Tala heard Rhoulon muttering, and she growled, and saw him put something away in his pocket. We were woken up at that, and I came running out, annoyed and grumpy. “He has a sending stone!” I said. In her wolf form, Tala jumped on Rhoulon, and he panicked; apparently he was terrified of dogs and wolves. I rummaged in his pockets and took out another wand and the stone. I figured the stone had been used. I suggested we leave Rhoulon there, as clearly we had to leave and he was a traitor doubly now. I asked Ainsel to go wake up Delwyn and tell him Rhoulon is a schmuck. Tala added that he was using a Sending Stone. We woke up the others and Lorcann was less than pleased; I’ve never felt closer to the man. Ainsel faithfully conveyed the message, bless him, and Delwyn came down.

    Frysta had to wake up Rhoulon as it seemed he had passed out from the terror of Tala laying on top of him. I cast Detect Thoughts without him knowing, and I came back and gave the traitor a few crumbs from a snack I was eating. Frysta tried to convince Rhoulon to turn into a double agent, but Rhoulon wouldn’t, or couldn’t, do that. I believed he didn’t have the strength of will for it. He freely said that “they” were on their way there, and they would be there within an hour. We debated what to do with the schmuck; Gjorav wanted to kill him. The rest of us wanted to let him go. We did end up leaving him alive, poor guy. I felt sorry for him, but his own choices led him there. 

    Kyrissa offered that we could go to a “safehouse” that her family owned in the sunrise district. I believed her to be eager to help Delwyn; her thoughts were all on the up and up. As we meandered through the city, not taking a direct route, I remembered that Professor Rushon had mentioned the Sunrise district. There is a market there because it rests below a temple to Solanthra. The market developed there because people would travel to the temple, so trade soon followed. We entered this “safe house,” and Kyrissa said, “It is no manor house, but there are a few guest rooms.” I crashed on the nearest bed I could find. 

    [[Tala wanted to keep watch. Gjorav stood guard outside of Delwyn’s room. Tala took first watch, then Frysta convinced Ainsel to take second, and Frysta took last with Taraminder. Frysta and Taraminder made breakfast, of course.]]

    [[Dominica Parthenius, stands alone in an estate manor by the fireplace in the great hall. In her hands is paperwork, legal claims on house Strevengar,  from the judge. It read, “Denied. The heir apparent has a month to make an appearance at the royal court.” There was another paper that stated the king of Wintervaeld had declined her an audience on the topic of the dissolution of the house Strevengar. A lone knight in dark armor entered to deliver a report on the events of the evening, “They had help from an outside group, ones that we have not seen before. We’re not sure how he hired them, and he hasn’t gone back to the bank yet.” Dominica ordered, “Find out everything, who they are, where they are from, what they are doing here, and why they are helping him.”]] +1 night

    I awoke in the morning to yummy smells of food. Tala had parked her shell right next to my bed, and I neatly avoided tripping over it. I called out, “Nice try, Tala!” As I raced to the kitchens. Breakfast was very yummy and I was sure to tell Taraminder and Frysta that they did a great job. It was cookie gruel of some kind. Taraminder asked if we should serve the nobles first, and I said, “What nobles? There are no nobles here,” just as Kyrissa walked in. She took my words with my grin and took no offense. We discussed what we were to do. Delwyn needed Enric to check something in the courts, and Ainsel had work for us to do while he and Anock went to a library to do research. 

    [[Earlier that morning, two figures sat at a small table in a homely tavern by the port, a human man with pale skin and a receding hairline, and a half-elven woman with an olive complexion. The barkeep brought them three mugs of ale and they made small talk until a third figure arrived in a hooded cloak. The barkeep left, and the figure removed his hood to reveal a  youthful half-elven man with curly red hair. He apologized for his tardiness, “...had to find a replacement at the temple.” The man replied, “Let us be brief.” The red-haired figure raised his mug and said, “To the Angel,” and they each took a sip of their mug. The man spoke again, “I’ll  keep it simple. The ones behind the Skyfire Crisis have returned to Wintervaeld, and they’re working to do so again. Keep an eye on them, (until we are ready to strike).” The woman passed him an envelope, “They are in a noble’s house in the sunrise district.” The younger man took the envelope, “I’ll go right away.” Together they quoted, “May those who alter fate be forgotten,” and the young man departed. As the other left, the man said, “I fear the worst, without her guidance, we flounder about in darkness.” The woman gave a sincere smile, and said, “We will preserve; the Angel may not be apparent, but she has not left us to stand idle. We will see our duty done.” The man replied, “So we shall.”]]

    We had left the safehouse. We were following Ainsel’s directions to the Argent Horizon's warehouse that was owned by Geldrig House on the docks. Apparently Kolvard provided the supplies for early work on the salvation key, and Ainsel wanted us to talk with him. Lorcann, Taraminder, Delwyn, and Gjorav were with us. No workers were outside the warehouse, which was odd, but there were two large fellows down at the loading area. Tala and Frysta noticed that the two guys were armed with clubs and two pairs of scimitars hidden beside some barrels next to them. I was elected to go and try and talk to them. I tried to charm them, but they both avoided my spell which was irritating; moreover, now they knew I had tried to cast a spell on them. One went to get the Bwoss. I was hoping it would be Kolvard, but the fellow who came back with the guard looked head-to-toe like a pirate, straight out of a story! I was enamored with this guy, and I noticed he had a sigil on his clothes of the Cherry Chums, a famous pirate gang! This guy couldn’t be the captain, as that was a dwarf so the stories went, but still! Tala and Frysta figured the Cherry Chums were stealing stuff from the warehouse, “We found stuff that’ll work for us.” We backed off then, as clearly they weren’t going to let us waltz inside.

    We walked away before chatting. Taraminder wanted to go inside and free whatever people the pirates had taken. I offered to turn another person invisible. In the end I turned myself and Delwyn invisible, and Tala wildshaped into a rat so we could all sneak inside and see what was what. 

    Back at the safehouse with Delwyn, etc., Rhoulon did a sending, and we found out, and we left him there, alive to go to a place Kyrissa suggested in the Sunrise District. In the morning Frysta and Taraminder made breakfast and we went to a warehouse to look for Kolvard whom Ainsel said had supplied resources to the early stages of the Salvation Key project. We talked to Cherry Chums pirates there before deciding to sneak in and see what exactly they were doing.


Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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Episode 21

    We were sneaking into a warehouse on the docks in Wintervaeld with Taraminder, Lorcann, Gjorav, and Delwyn. Taraminder felt that she would be found out, so she went back. We let her go; Frysta trusted her judgment. I used the pearl to get back a 3rd level spell slot. Frysta opened the side door and we entered the warehouse. A lot of pirates were loading stuff into the Chummy Wagon ship. Cheerful Ben was the captain, and he was standing on the main deck, overseeing the stealing. By that time, about half of the goods were loaded onto the ship. Tala noticed a jeweled bracelet on Cheerful Ben’s wrist, and it reminded her of Anock’s engraved pendant. There were many other crewmembers - 14 crossbowmen, laborers, a brute near the door to the outer docks, two mages, and there was a handful of hostages on the ship. A dwarf, a human, and gnome stood out among the hostages. Kolvard we knew to be a dwarf. We saw one of the mages on the ship walk up to the captain, “Captain, I uh, I think something is going on here with one of the hostages; permission to check it out?” The captain said simply, “permission granted;” it seemed Cheerful Ben was less interested in the hostages than the cargo being loaded onto his ship. The mage went to a merchant figure and roughed him up a little bit. I thought about using the wand to send a message to one of the hostages, but that would have dropped the invisibility on myself and on Delwyn. The mage pulled the merchant away from the hostage group, and pushing the figure down before the captain said, “Captain, I think we got ourselves a situation here, this one is a bit more financially valuable than we thought, perhaps we can get a ransom.” Delwyn told us that is Saerdwin, the eldest son of the Geldrig family. Taraminder was carried up to the hostages as she had been caught. 

    We discussed how best to go about this; Frysta and Tala were insistent on freeing the hostages. I really didn’t want to fight all those pirates, but they convinced me. Finally we landed on a two-pronged attack. Frysta was to run to the ship to protect and free the hostages right after I blew something up with the wand of firebolts. I had given Frysta a Bardic. I whispered to Delwyn, “Sorry!” before aiming the wand of firebolts at a crate some pirates were carrying. My Invisibility spell dropped. The shot was weak, but it got everyone’s attention as I was making a nuisance of myself. A gnome on the ship deck dropped a device, and a dome of protection sprang up around him and the hostages as he yelled, “Don’t worry, I’ll be safe under here, but I’ll need backup!” Lorcann went off running. Frysta misty stepped onto the ship deck and shot the captain for two really solid hits. Not liking that, the captain took out his pistol, but he missed Frysta. One pirate tried to grab the gnomish figure, and the other mage went for Frysta with a Witch Bolt. The brute pirate missed Tala as she missed with her Sacred Flame. Five skirmishers came running up to me. A few of their strikes hit, but, using Silvery Barbs to distract one, they did not do enough damage to down me. I did a 3rd level Thunderwave and downed two of them while damaging two more. Frysta opted for nonlethal damage to the captain as she hit again, and then she shot at one of the mages to down them. Tala downed the brute then sent a Guiding Bolt to down one of the remaining three on me. Using Aunt Sparks’ Slashing Flourish I downed another while dancing around the last one in melee with me. The gnome on deck offered to help Frysta, though she got shot with a magic acid arrow. Tala downed the last one on me. A crossbowman shot me for heavy damage, so I cast Dissonant Whispers at them; they fell off the side of the ship. I went over to assist Gjorav; I was swiped at before striking that one down. Frysta went down from an Eldritch Blast. Tala healed Frysta, and I used the wand of firebolts and shadow depletion to damage the mage. Frysta finished off the mage. 

    Out of combat, we talked to the captain. Tala wanted to have the bracelet. Cheerful Ben, though that wasn’t his actual name, had inherited the Chummy Wagon ship, and the Cherry Chums was the crew. Tala failed to bonk the captain when he wouldn’t give her the bracelet. She tried again and got a good bonk, though she had to immediately heal him so he wouldn’t die. I asked the captain, whom I had great respect for, if I could pick his mind about something; he didn’t assent to that, but I cast Detect Thoughts and pierced his mind anyway. I found out he had won the bracelet in a game of cards with Fansa. I couldn’t recall where I had heard the name before. I saw nothing of Fate’s Design in his head, but his greatest fear was sinking and dying in the deep blue sea. Cheerful Ben’s surface thoughts revealed that the full name is Fearsome Fansa, and likely is a pirate. He protested that he was just there to nab some goods. 

    Frysta wanted to kill the captain, as did Tala, but I didn’t want to kill Cheerful Ben! He was a famous pirate! I said he wasn’t a good guy, but still, we ought to think before killing someone famous; famous people have lots of strings in a way. As we were debating, the captain snuck away. We looked but saw no sign of the dwarf; I did a sending to him just saying that I was sorry about killing his crew, and he was still awesome, and Frysta said bye. The captain got the message but didn’t reply. The gods were taking notes and making plans after that encounter.

    The gnome came up to us and introduced himself at Mumzig. He was at the warehouse to pick up a delivery for his laboratory. He’s an alchemist and an arcanist by trade. He deals with magical combinations and incantation. He is a part of many guilds in the city. Saerdwin flirted with Delwyn and said they should get drinks sometime; Saerdwin wanted to hear about Delwyn’s captivity in The Mound. The dwarfish woman, who had been one of the hostages, seemed to be the warehouse manager. We asked her about Kolvard, and she said brusquely, “Sorry, my father has been murdered.” Her name is Thorva. Apparently Kolvard was mugged and killed in an alley on his way home. She didn’t know the name Ainsel, but she did know the name Thalaeros when Frysta mentioned it. “Yes, I heard my father mention that name a few times,” Thorva said. Frysta explained why we wanted to talk to him, about the salvation key, etc. Mumzig overheard us talking about Thalaeros and the salvation key and came over. He said he had met Thalaeros and studied some of his ideas. Mumzig had been intending to relay his discoveries back to Thalaeros when he left. Thorva was fine with us poking into the business of her murdered father. Mumzig invited us back to his laboratory to discuss the salvation key. He mentioned his apprentice Kellany. 

    On our way out of the warehouse, I spotted a figure at a window above looking down on us. I cast message a number of times to the figure, but never got a response. I went up, and as I got to the correct floor I saw another figure running away. They got too far away before I could pull out the wand of message to message them. The figure at the window I now knew to be an illusory double of the other; the figure had pale skin, red hair, and a tattoo of Fate’s Design on the throat. I knew then that the group devoted itself to religion and thwarting research and discovery of powerful magical artifacts and abilities. After waving away the illusory double, I became pensive as I went back to my friends. What would Beck have had to do with this group? 

    We were walking with Mumzig back to his laboratory, and on the way, Frysta asked Mumzig about alchemy and hemocraft. Mumzig was happy to chat and mentioned a figure down south who combines hemocraft and alchemy. I was quiet, still thinking. 

    We snuck into the warehouse on the docks of Wintervaeld. We were looking for Kolvard. Taraminder got caught. I used the wand of firebolts to grab the pirates’ attention and Frysta went to the hostages on the Chummy Wagon. We fought well though Frysta went down once. We didn’t kill the captain, Cheerful Ben, but he escaped. We met Mumzig and Thorva. I spotted an illusory double of a Fate’s Design agent looking at us. Mumzig is talking to us as we go to his laboratory. 

Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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Episode 23

    Taraminder and Lorcann were with us as we interrogated the mage from the Fate’s Design group. We tied him up and carried him into Mumzig’s laboratory. I asked him what his name was, and he wouldn’t give it to me, so I named him Steve. Steve was being entirely unhelpful, though I got the impression that he was fairly low-ranking in the cult. As that was going nowhere, I asked Taraminder to ask Steve some questions while I stepped aside with Mumzig to cast Detect Thoughts (with my last second level spell slot) before going back to Steve. He kept going on about dying with his comrades, having a noble death. He still wouldn’t reveal his name, but I got the red-haired fellow’s name: Mordan, who apparently was the team lead. Because Steve was being terribly unhelpful, I penetrated his mind to find out his name, and anything about Fate’s Design or Mordan. The mage’s actual name was Alrek, and he knew of a safehouse in Wintervaeld. I was very impressed with how useless this guy was, and I told him so. ‘Steve’ was relegated to Alrek’s middle name, and since I knew of no last name, I gave him one: schmuck. So, the mage’s full name became Alrek Steve Schmuck, or ASS for short, much to our amusement. Frysta wanted to know ASS’s favorite color, and after some banter he replied red. 

    Frysta and Lorcann then dispatched poor ASS, though Mumzig was unhappy with that. Then we had to figure out what to do with the body, and I thought it best to inform Captain Ealdric. Frysta offered to toss the body into the harbor. Lorcann offered to run a letter to Ealdric; Frysta wrote the letter, and we put the body with the others we had left out on the street. 

    I shared the safehouse information with my companions, but we decided to rest at a tavern briefly before going there. We did a great job of finding a good one, and I played a song of rest to help us regain more health. On our way out we saw a water genasi with a blackened arm and an athletically-built half-elf [[Cameron and Kaizen]]. They definitely seemed full of themselves - probably Mortal Guardians. We walked stealthily to the Fate’s Design safehouse, though I was having some struggles watching my step. All of this Fate’s Design stuff was bringing up thoughts and memories about my lost brother, Beck, and so I was a bit distracted, even with divine help. 

    In front of the house, Frysta and I discussed how best to go about this. We decided to go through a window instead of the front door. None of the windows we could reach showed much of the inside of the safehouse, but there didn’t seem to be any people inside. Frysta boosted me up and tossed me into a window before following. Immediately we heard footsteps as someone was running out of the front door. We went to look and saw the red-haired Mordan. Frysta set out to chase him down while I sought a more clever method. Realizing my remaining spell slots wouldn’t do much, and really, I didn’t want to make Mordan my enemy, I cast Minor Illusion. Using Alrek’s voice set back inside the house it said, “Stop, Mordan, these have agreed to help find the others, … stop I say!” And to my utmost surprise and shock, the red-haired man actually stopped! It seemed he recognized the illusion magic, and still he stopped, turned, and talked to us!  

    He spoke to us some about the Fate’s Design. We said we could talk to the others, he said we could leave a message on the doorstep to this safehouse to get in contact with them. We asked about a truce as we talked to our friends, he gave us until the following sunset, saying he would not kill us before that. I was still having trouble disliking this guy; really I could not understand why he personally wanted to kill us. He said he had orders, etc., but he seemed to be very devout to the cause. But, what we were doing that was so bad? Why was the Salvation Key so evil in their eyes? I then wanted to ask about Beck, in a circumspect way. I asked Mordan, as I had asked ASS previously, if I looked familiar to him, and he didn’t say that he had. I also asked why the Fate’s Design would have interest in a distant town to the north; Mordan was cryptic but said something to the effect of “Fate’s Design is anywhere they need to be, wherever they have purpose.” I got a bit of a shiver at that. What in the nine hells was Fate’s Design doing in the Hills?! 

    As we concluded our discussion with Mordan, I wanted to go back inside, and only after lying about going to get my wand did Mordan let me go. As part of the deception I said, “It was a gift from the last person to try and kill me…” Frysta tried to give me more time, but Mordan saw through her attempts. She found out his favorite color was black. I did a very poor job of rifling through the papers in the safehouse. I just caught a glimpse of, “Thalaeros… stop his creation…” before my three minutes were up and Mordan came back inside. I did a marvelous job of “finding” my wand before shimmying out through the window. 

    [[Across the street a cloaked figure muttered, “May the angel be with us in all troubled times.” A breeze picked up and carried the words up above the Wintervaeld skyline, into the clouds, and through a dark, shimming plane between this realm and the realm of shadows. The words were carried into this plane containing withered creatures, ruins, desolation and decay, and a broken colosseum with a single figure inside. In the center of the decrepit arena knelt an angelic creature with wings blackened by ash. She heard the words of her distant follower, and she raised her head, a blackened crown on her brow, as the gem on its front ignited. She opened her eyes and said, “The oracle hears your plea.”]]

    After leaving the Fate’s Design safehouse we went back to our own. It had been a long and exhausting day and I was very ready to just go to bed. Ainsel, Lorcann, and Anock were at the safehouse. But, it was precisely then that I got a sending from one familiar to me. Through the sending Beck said, “I warned you to get out. You’re getting involved in something you do not understand, stop now.” 

    Now, I was in a bit of a shock, you must understand. After over a month since last I had heard from Beck, I had moved on in a way. I had taken classes, met Delwyn and his group, been attacked by shadow creatures, killed a bunch of pirates… things had happened and I hadn’t really been thinking about my lost, irritating brother who didn’t seem to care about me enough to find me. I had left home partly to find him, and he didn’t care. Shaking away a wave of hurt and loss, I replied to his sending, “Hi, it would help if I knew what I was getting involved in, you could tell me, but I won’t stop on my own - bye.” I also had no idea how Beck had gotten a hold of Sending! Was he a wizard now?

    Then, to my supreme surprise, he did another Sending! “If you do not stop, the order has ways of making you stop. I’d hate to see that happen. This is dangerous.” So many sarcastic remarks sprang up in my mind at that! It took me a moment to rally my thoughts and form a coherent reply. “Brother, I missed you so much and hearing from you now… I needed you. Tell me about the order, what you’ve been up to - Love you.”

    Through my tumultuous emotions I knew that this was Beck for sure. He cared about me, and he seemed to believe that I should stop doing whatever it is I was doing for my well bring. He also did seem to know some things about whatever I was involved in. Frysta easily noticed I was a bit distraught, and she tried to reassure me. I was very confused then and wanted to know that what we were doing, rebuilding the salvation key, was the right thing to do. It was then that we remembered Mumzig’s notes that we had just acquired. They didn’t give clear answers to my questions, but they did say that whatever the salvation key was doing was closely tied to the nearby veils. There was a note that mentioned making contacts at the University of Wintervaeld. “Polly and Andy going to university?” Lorcann also said that Ealdric recognized Frysta’s handwriting, and she got a little bit put-out by that.

    I then asked if we were going to do watches and if so that I would volunteer for first watch. Immediately Lorcann and Frysta found that suspicious, and in a lapse of cognitive function I said, “I will most definitely stay in the safehouse.” The ensuing ruckus left me with no choice but to come clean. I wanted to make cookies for Frysta because she seemed like she needed them, and besides I didn’t want to go to bed with these thoughts about Beck in my head. They finally believed me, and we had a grand time making cookies. Taraminder led the chaotic mixing and baking while Lorcann passed out drinks. 

    Partway through this process I noticed Anock was holding notes about the bracelet that we got off of Cheerful Ben. She seemed pensive, so I sidled up to her and asked about that. I noticed then that the bracelet band had been replaced; the amulet was the important part. Frysta cast Identify, but the bracelet had not been made by magic nor imbued by it. The golden bar part on the bracelet had the initials X.E. Anock shared some of her dark thoughts. She remembered the frustration of her companions who looked to her for motivation and direction. She could not remember what she had to drive them, and she did not know anything new about the bracelet. The pirate who lost the bracelet to Cheerful Ben was a pirate to the west (?). I tried to comfort Anock, saying that dark thoughts were no good even as I battled my own. I offered to play Anock a song, though I remembered that I had done this for Cari and then she had left. Anock said she would not leave as Cari did, so I took out my family drum and even with the alcohol in my system I played well. 

    By the time the cookies were ready, Frysta and I were a bit tipsy. The cookies were fresh out of the oven, and Frysta did a rite of cold on most of them, injuring herself nearly to unconsciousness in the process. They were very good though, and I was satisfied. Seraphina hadn’t shared her cookies, but by the gods I had made my own. And, it seemed Frysta was feeling better, and Beck had fallen from the top of mind. We then went to bed. + 1 night 

    I was awoken in the morning by a knock from the front door. Footsteps went to open the door, and then the door was shut again. The footsteps then came towards me, and Ainsel’s voice said, “Someone left a letter for you, Andy.” I rolled over, not liking mornings in general and this one in particular, as I had a small headache and a larger heartache. But, with a heavy sigh and many blinks, I groaned and sat up, snatching the letter from Ainsel’s outstretched hand. With a very large sense of trepidation I opened the letter. My name, in Beck’s handwriting, was written on the front. The tone of the letter was cold and informational. It read, “You wanted more information on what you are getting yourself involved in, so I took the time to write it down.” Bastard, I thought, if you are in the city you could have just stayed and spoken with me, given your little sister a hug or something. He then proceeded to explain about the Oracle of Silence. This is the being the Fate’s Design follows and believes in. The Oracle was an angel who served the good and the just gods. The Oracle fell out of the gods’ favor and was cast away. From my own knowledge I knew many tales of this being, and none of the stories agreed on the Oracle’s prior identity.  Beck’s letter continued to explain that the Oracle’s followers believe in abstaining from magical artifacts. Divine law is fate, and using magical artifacts interferes with this fate. Fate’s Design will protect this fate by any means necessary. On the back of the letter Beck wrote a little less stiffly. He wrote, “It is likely that you are known to the order. If the order is aware of your existence, they will try to finish the job. And they are absolute in their protections. Seek safety.” And yet, beneath those ominous words Beck continued, “Tacigrun - drop offs under the eyes of the hawk at Visgrald’s Quarter. I know you, too, well enough. You won’t stop.” I deeply sighed again and closed my eyes. Oh, Beck! Over a month, and now you contact me three times, yet still keeping your distance.

    I shared the letter with the others as they awoke. We knew the Visgrald's Quarter to be a square in the market district. I was in a sour mood as I ate the last cookie. We then discussed what to do for the day. Lorcann went with Ainsel. Frysta and I decided on going to see this Tacigrun first, then maybe going to the University after that. Frysta was thinking of making disguises. 

      We interrogated the Fate’s Design mage, whom we ended up naming ASS by mistake. With detect thoughts I found out the red-haired agent’s name is Rodan, and there is a Fate’s Design safehouse in Wintervaeld. Feeling a little less than fully able, we took a short rest at a tavern and saw a few mortal guardians. Then we went to the Fate’s Design safehouse and saw Rodan running out. I called out to him in ASS’s voice, and for a miracle he stopped and talked with us. He agreed to not kill us before the next day’s sunset. I was starting to question what we were doing with the Salvation Key. After deceiving Rodan I went back into the safehouse to rifle through papers, but I found nothing of interest. Frysta and I and the others then went back to our safehouse. I got two Sendings from Beck, my brother, and that put me way out of sorts. We looked over Mumzig’s notes on the Salvation Key, and they pointed us to the University. We then made cookies together. We slept, and in the morning there was a letter for me, from Beck. He gave me information about what I had gotten into, about the Oracle of Silence that the Fate’s Design order followed. He put in a tip about seeing Tacigrun in Visgrald’s Quarter. 

Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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Episode 24

    Just leaving our safehouse in Wintervaeld for Visgrald’s Quarter. Anock and Taraminder are with us. We arrived at the market. On the way, Tala asked Frysta about why she has made so many disguises. Frysta answered that it was about access. Different disguises and personas could give different permissions to different places. Tala wanted to get into the Royal Library, which is in the palace. However, Frysta had never been able to get in there. They started using words like “heist” and I knew that Captain Ealdric would not be pleased. I said as much.

    In the square called Visgrald’s Quarter we saw statues of birds of prey. Tala and Frysta found the one depicting a hawk. Tala was very concerned about not being seen, but she was so bad that her antics drew attention rather than sliding under peoples’ notice. Frysta did moderately better while I did a decent job. Frysta noticed a slim opening under the hawk statue, and inside it was a leather pouch. A man noticed Frysta grabbing the pouch, and turned to walk away. Frysta tried a Blood Curse of Binding, and the man bolted. I cast Message with the wand, asking him to stop. I mentioned Tacigrun, saying we meant him no harm. I did very poorly at persuasion though, and the man kept running. Tala ran to keep up, Frysta shot an arrow at him which slowed his speed. There was general concern in the public as her weapon was drawn. Anock misty stepped ahead. I insighted the man’s path and took a side street to try and cut the man off. However, once in the alleyways I lost him. Tala and Frysta though caught up to him, and we surrounded him. He was frightened of Frysta and I tried to be friendly. 

    He admitted, “I am the agent, a new recruit, a courier, quick on my feet. My cousin recruited me.” Tala asked if Tacigrun liked the Order. “Nice enough, it’s more dangerous and the activities are far too strict for my liking.” Tala asked him more about his feelings on the order. I asked for the letter, and he showed it to me. He said it was just “knowledge that the cache has been restocked. There’s a shop not too far from here, I was heading there. It has a cache of Order supplies and information. I can show you.” We stepped back, and he stood. He tried to take up as little space as possible. As he led us to a nearby shop, he stuck closer to me. I asked if he had met another who looked like me, and he said he had seen a halfling like me, a new recruit who left shortly after joining up. He didn’t know much else, and he didn’t want to divulge more Order secrets. At the shop there was a closed sign, and the agent Tacigrun opened the door. The shop looked disused. Startled, I tried to charm Tacigrun, oops! I tried to cover with a deception, “You scared the crap out of me! I was mugged by a guy who looked like you, and the memory just came back…” I don’t think he quite believed me, but he opened the door to the shop. We saw that the desk was the one thing not coated in dust. I spotted the cache. It had hidden documents and three magic wands. Frysta used an Identify to figure out one wand. The documents were about the administrative running of the Order, though they were partially in code. The wand was a wand of Expeditious Retreat with 3 charges that do not replenish. 

    Just then, a massive half orc came through the door and took out his ax. Frysta shot him and the half orc attacked her. I used the wand of Firebolts and hit with Taraminder’s help, I also put in a shadow depletion as well. I also gave a Healing Word at second level to Frysta as she took quite a hit. Frysta fey stepped away. The half-orc then focused on me and would’ve hit me, but Anock stepped in and took damage meant for me. With help from Taraminder I took out Uncle Arnic’s rapier and struck with Aunt Zaya’s defensive flourish. I also landed a solid opportunity attack as the half-orc went for Frysta. Tala used her wild shape to take on a starry form chalice to heal Frysta and Anock. Frysta shimmied, which I judged, and she landed a critical hit with her dagger to finish him off. Turned out that Tacigrun didn’t like the half-orc; apparently he had been a violent person by the name of Regindal. Frysta and I searched his body and found a letter. The letter said there was a meeting for interested parties to take place later that evening at the Underground Macaw. Tacigrun knew of the place, it was in Singrumalden, which is where important meetings were held. From my history professor I knew that Singrumalden was an ancient dwarven city. Tacigrun said he knew the route to the Underground Macaw. 

    We went to a tavern for a short rest, and Tala convinced Tacigrun to join us. He said Waermund was his actual name. Frysta looked into the leather packet and found money in it. She left it in there. Tala was asking Waermund directions, and she gave her notes to me.  I asked Waermund about Mordan. Tacigrun said he was high up in the Order and that he really believes in the cause. Tala and I looked at the wands and figured out that they were also wands of expedient retreat, each with 3 charges and no recharge. Frysta started deciphering the code, but couldn’t break it completely. Tala gave her wand to Taraminder. At the end of the short rest, I did a sending to Beck. “Hi Beck, met Tacigrun, thanks. Going to Underground Macaw, any tips? Want to come? Would like to see you. Love you very much.” He replied, “I’m not coming. If you are this reckless, try to be safe.” 

    We set out for the meeting. On the way I used my pearl to regain a 3rd level spell slot. The meeting was in the Undergrim. We hid to observe, and I wished I had cast invisibility before we got there. I did a great job at stealthing though. The figure present noticed some pebbles that Frysta kicked loose, but he didn’t seem too concerned. The figure was a wood elf, and he seemed to be waiting. A group approached. An elf, halfling, pixie, tiefling... Total of 7 people. The elf of the group moved to speak to the wood elf, “You Rodan? The one to talk about, we wish to take a job offering.” The original figure turned, and it was clear he had the tattoo of Fate’s Design on his neck. “I am Rodan.” The other elf continued, “I think we can help with your problem.” “Great, a… got the description of him.” “West hills-type halfling.” I knew then that these folks were bounty hunters who were being set upon my brother, Beck, and my blood boiled. Rodan replied, “We want him back, dead or alive, though alive has its perks and rewards.” The other elf replied, “The Shadowsteel Syndicate is quite thorough.” Throwing caution to the wind, I rushed down the short hill towards the figures. Tala ran down with me while Frysta knocked an arrow. The elf said to Rodan, “Have it known we’re taking the job. We’ll handle the hiccup here.” Rodan turned to go and said, “Well it seems we have heralds of calamity here.”

    Went to Visgrald’s Quarter and chased down Tacigrun, an agent of Fate’s Design. He took us to a shop that was a front for the Order. We found the cache of expeditious retreat wands and notes on the administration of the Order. A half-orc attacked us and we killed him; Tacigrun didn’t like the fellow, said he was violent. The half-orc had a letter on him that invited interested parties to a meeting at the Underground Macaw. Tacigrun said important meetings happened there, and he knew how to get there. We went to a tavern to rest, and Tala convinced Tacigrun, Waermund, to come with us. After the short rest I did a sending to Beck to tell him we were going to this meeting. He said to be careful. We got to the meeting and hid. We watched as an elf of Fate’s Design, Rodan, spoke with a group of varied people. He had a job out to kill or capture Beck, and the group replied that the Shadowsteel Syndicate would take the job. It was then that I recklessly ran down to them, intent on protecting my brother from these bounty hunters. 

Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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Episode 25

    Running into combat with Shadowsteel Syndicate goons and a Rodan figure from the Order of Fate’s Design. Taraminder and Anock are with us. Tala and Anock were hit by a Slow Spell. One of the syndicate folks with two blades came up and tried to slash at me while yelling something about leaving his mark. Frysta shot him twice. I cast Dissonant Whispers to the slasher; I called him a “stinking, sniveling swine of ill repute,” and he ran away very satisfactorily. Then I ran over to Rodan and yelled, “What do you want with my brother, you schmuck?” (dun dun) Rodan had a gleam of interest in his eye at that, and he cast Shatter on me, though I managed to avoid the worst of it. Frysta took two shots at Rodan. I cast Firebolt at him with the wand as I was still 10ft away from him. Rodan took out a staff and tried to hit me, but Anock took the blow; he then aimed for Anock directly. Now in melee with the schmuck I slashed at him with Uncle Arnic’s rapier and used Aunt Zaya’s defensive flourish before yelling to Anock, “we need him alive!” Anock took the hint and grappled him. I had also put two Shadow Depletion marks into Rodan. Frysta then took her shots at Rodan, and she hadn’t heard my shout, so she killed him. 

    The Shadowsteel folks had all vanished by that time, and Tala had a spot on her shell. It seemed to be a lingering effect, like a curse or something. We looked at the body of Rodan. He had splint armor, the Order tattoo, and a few torn pieces of paper that I took. I wasn’t too upset that Frysta had killed him; Tala’s mark was worrying us greatly, and we would’ve had to kill him anyway. We also grabbed the piece of paper that Tala had illuminated before. It had the Shadowsteel Syndicate mark on it. We were concerned that Tala’s mark might be used to track her and us, so we wanted to meet the others away from the safehouse. So, I did a Sending to Ainsel. I told him Frysta said hi and that Tala had a mark, so we should meet at the Temple of Aungvinod. He replied, “Sure, we can wrap up here, tell Frysta I said hi as well, I’ll look into this curse. I’m not the best at breaking them, but I can try.” I then did a Sending to Beck telling him the Shadowsteel Syndicate had accepted a bounty on his life. I also told him Frysta said hi. He replied, “Rodan dead isn’t good. But will likely not be too suspicious. Shadowsteel isn’t first group coming after me, perhaps the most dangerous. Be better for you to stay away. I know you better though, little sister.” I relayed both responses to Tala and Frysta. Frysta felt Tala’s mark and it was cold to the touch, even for her, a Winter Eladrin.  

    By the time we got back, it was nighttime in Wintervaeld. We went to the temple, which was lit and had a number of people around. Ainsel and Lorcann were there. Went over to them and Ainsel tried some kind of spell. Frysta and I saw a brief moment of flare as the spell contacted the spot, then the mark expanded a bit as Ainsel pulled his hand back. He didn’t think it was hurting Tala, but the mark did seem to consume his casting. Tala went to find Cevethi, her friend at the temple. Cevethi mentioned that high clerics in the temple can dispel many things, but they require a significant donation to do so. 

    Tala came back to us, and we had a discussion on what to do and where to go. We convinced Tala that her going by herself was a terrible idea, and moreover, splitting up in any way was a terrible idea. So, we headed back to the safehouse as it was dark outside. Tala turned into a mastiff and I called Tala Spot and rode her back to the safehouse. That was fun!

    We took watches. Tala and Ainsel were on the first watch. Tala asked Ainsel about the Salvation Key. Ainsel explained that his goal right now is to reconstruct the information that was lost in Berigg’s notes when Cari took them. He wants to fill in the gaps in his knowledge. He said he “never spoke of activating it.” He just wanted to figure out what it does. Tala asked him to promise that he will ask us about any big decisions before he makes them, if he can. He agreed. Puppy Tala woke me up for second watch. Lorcann, who was taking the watch with me, wasn’t impressed by how cute she was. I was concerned while doing watch.  Lorcann tossed a paper ball at me, and he reminded me of the torn pieces of paper I had taken from Rodan’s body. The names Waermund and Beck were on that, along with other names. Beck’s name was circled. This could be the group of recruits that Beck was in when he joined. I asked Lorcann about the Shadowsteel Syndicate; he said he knew of them. He knew them to be organized and expensive. They are not normal bounty hunters; they take the time to plan, and they use tactics.

   For third watch, Taraminder sensed Frysta was out of-sorts, and she asked if Frysta wanted to talk, Frysta said no, but they hugged. Frysta then deciphered the rest of the notes we got at the shop Tacigrun had led us to the previous day. It was a logbook of who came to the shop and if they took anything from the cache. However, the notes used codenames, so it wasn’t terribly helpful. Frysta managed to burn breakfast even with Taraminder’s help. In the morning, Frysta tried to Identify the mark on Tala. She learned that it was not a spell, but it was a lingering effect of some kind. She also sensed a cavernous void. However, she was fairly confident it was not a tracking spell. +1 night

    Delwyn was there with his friend and Gjorav. He said he was going to have a meeting with a magistrate about his estate and that he’d like us to be there. We were told we needed to prepare for a “courtly appearance,” and Taraminder suggested that Tala find some clothing. Tala started wondering about buying a cloak. We had one hour to get ready.

   Fought Shadowsteel goons briefly before they disappeared. We killed Rodan, agent of the Order. He had a list of a recruit group with Beck’s name circled on it. Tala got a mark on her shell from one of the Shadowsteel goons. Did a sending to Ainsel to ask him to meet us at the Temple of Aungvinod. Did a Sending to Beck to tell him the Shadowsteel Syndicate was after him. We went back to Wintervaeld, to the temple. Ainsel couldn’t get rid of the mark. We went back to the safehouse for the night, had watches. Frysta burned breakfast in the morning, and she figured out that the mark probably wasn’t used to track us. Delwyn asked if we could go with him to a meeting with a magistrate in an hour. 


Edited by FallenAngelRidian
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