The Chaos Effect

Demetrius's deal with Dormicon

Another boring page flipped regarding the final days of the Sunset Empire. Rumors abound about how the Empire ended and none of these theories seemed to feel right. “Who am I fooling?” Demetrius asked himself, so exhausted that he was speaking to himself. “I have no idea how they ended either, and how am I supposed to pen a paper about it by tomorrow?” Demetrius was a young and frail Tiefling. Being raised in an orphanage on the outskirts of Kharon’s Crossing where food was scarce and generosity was almost unheard of, tended to have that effect on children. There was only one person in his life that he knew cared about him and that was Matron.

“Matron” was an aging human maid that ran the orphanage. If she had a name other then Matron it had long been forgotten. She had been a successful seamstress that worked inside Kharon’s Crossing, running a shop that tailored to the more elite crowd that attended the fine opera house, The Open Hall. Even though she was successful and fairly well off, she could not bear the sight of the beggars that waited for her every day outside. She would often put aside the expensive dresses that had been ordered for an important party at the Golden Lady in order to hem one of the street urchins pants to prevent them from catching their death in the colds of winter. She could not stand the thought of one of those children sleeping in the alley between her shop and the Open House, while the cold winds came howling down off of the Shatterspire Mountains. In her mind there was no recourse, therefore, she sold off her store, bought a small home on the edge of Kharon’s Crossing, begged for some meager aid from the council, and took the children in.

She was never able to take them all in, but for the many that she helped she was able to set them up with jobs in Kharon’s Crossing as apprentices, pages, runners, jobs where the willingness to do work was the most important part of the job. The Matron had a single failure. Little, sickly Demetrius was the one that she could not find a profession for. Whenever he helped out in the barn, shoveling manure and carrying buckets of feed, he would nearly pass out from exhaustion. When he helped the carpenter he was unable to swing the hammer correctly and the carpenter would always have to follow behind him and redo his work. Day after day she searched and searched for something that he would excel in. Finally she found something, quite by accident. Not only was he quick of mind but he actually seemed to enjoy learning. When he applied himself to his studies he was always top of the class. She had brought in a tutor that taught the children for three hours a day, he never seemed to take well to her teachings. However, when it was time to turn in a write-up or take some sort of exam he was always top of the class. One day she decided that she needed to confront him about it.

“Demetrius?” she asked lightly as he poured over one of his books by candlelight, “How do you do so well on the tests when you never pay attention during class?”

Demetrius replied in his too deep voice “Miss Strandford is an imbecile who does not even understand the material. Look here!” he pointed to a page of the book with a sly smirk on his face “Here the book claims that dark powers leveled the dwarven race! Why does she claim that it was a plague? How could a plague possibly silence a God?”

Demetrius excitedly read a portion of the book to Matron “Powerful magics were wielded by irresponsible hands and loosed without thought. Through all of this chaos an entire people disappeared. Dwarves were never seen again, and it is said that even their god no longer answers prayers to him.”

Demetrius, with his eyes filled with fire looked Matron in the eyes and asked ”...and a plague caused that?”

Matron took a step back and began to think to herself. Common wisdom was that it must have been a plague that destroyed the nearly forgotten race of the dwarves, but what Demetrius was claiming here, and it was confirmed in the book, seemed to make so much more sense. Could this child be correct? She waved it off and went back to her chores. So many chores piled up for one who dedicates her life to keeping at least ten children in her home at all times.

Demetrius smiled at the fond memories but shook his head briefly and returned to his studies. He started to get tired and bleary eyed as he turned the page again. He decided that he was going to set the book down for the night and take a rest so he would be attentive in the next mornings class. For tomorrow, they were going to be studying the origins of some of these “dark magics” that were said to have leveled empires. But Demetrius knew that those magics were just mishandled. He knew for certain that in the hands of the right person, or Tiefling, those magics, even if they came from dark sources, could be used for the betterment of those around him….They could be used to give back to Matron all that he owed her.

With these thoughts running through his head his eyelids began to droop and his eyes started to close in the sparse attic room that was more of a closet, but one that he had been allowed to claim as his own. Not an easy feat, in a home full of orphans. He realized that his studying was at an end for the night so he leaned over to blow out the tallow candle, because if he allowed it to burn out by itself, as he had so many times before, he knew he would feel Matron’s wrath once again.

His eyes shot open as he walked through a fugue plane. The wavy gray smokes waved to and fro on every side of him and before him was a kindly looking Tiefling sitting on a throne. He spoke and the words seemed to come directly into his head rather then out loud. “Demetrius” the Tiefling said, “I have been watching you for some time now. I know the feelings of inadequacies you harbor, I know how you strive to be something better, I know that you realize your place is higher then those around you.”

Demetrius probed on the inside and found that while the words of this individual were stirring they weren’t exactly what he was feeling. “What is this? Who are you?” he asked.

The Tiefling looked him up and down then replied “I am Dormicon servant of the Raven Queen, you have a strong understanding of the gifts that my kind can grant, and I feel that you are more deserving then some that have been granted my talents in the past.” A twinkle shone in the eyes of the demon as it flashed quickly to it’s true form, a dark red and much larger version of the Tiefling form that it presented itself as when it flashed back. “I can grant the powers that you seek.”

Demetrius looked up to the demon that appeared before him and responded “I am nothing like the power hungry emperors that ruled during the times of the Diamond empire!” Demetrius exclaimed with the fire retuning to his eyes, “I have no desire for that kind of power, I only wish to have the power to help those around me!”

Dormicon looked slightly shocked for a second, it was clear that he had not been rebuked like this in quite a long time, he recovered quickly though and put his hand in his chin and nodded “Then you have passed the first test young one.” Dormicon explained, “That was merely a test to see if you could responsibly wield the powers that I have spoken of, in fact I am more in search of one of your particular…zeal” Dormicon leaned forward and placed his clawed hand on Demetrius’ shoulder then began to walk around him waving his other hand out and making a window appear in thin air.

“You see Demetrius” Dormicon said, as he pointed towards the window. “I am in fact in search of someone like you that could help me bring about my will.” As Dormicon explained this an image of Kharon’s Crossing appeared in the window, but instead of poor children running through the streets and shops boarded up, an image appeared of seeming comfort. Children were walking with their parents on one side of the street and on the other side, an older grandfather was buying his children candied treats at the confection stand. “You see this is what I seek, young Demetrius, in a world like this, it is much easier for people to learn how to responsibly use the powers that I am able to bestow. If I was only able to grant my powers to some worthy person on your world, I would have more of an ability to influence the world towards my eventual goals.”

“And what would those goals be?” Demetrius asked as he stared longingly into the vision that had appeared before his eyes.

“Creating an order on your world that will recognize my powers.” Dormicon explained as he flashed back to his demon form quickly returning to his appearance as a Tiefling. “It is a complex matter of politics here in the demon realm, but basically with you representing me on your world, and my granting you certain powers, I will be able to gain powers here. You will be able to use your powers to better the life of your Matron”, as he said this an image appeared of Matron sleeping on the ground of her bedroom while four children slept fitfully in her bed. “and I will be able to gain influence here in my realm.”

Demetrius contemplated this “It seems simple enough, what would you require of me, friend?” Demetrius asked as he turned to look up at the demon that had walked around him.

“A simple boon is all I require” Dormicon said and waved again to have the window change to some arcane symbols. “I merely need you to draw these symbols on your floor in red paint. Surely this is not above your talents young one.”

Demetrius looked up at the complex runes and arcane symbols that appeared in the window, his nimble mind already storing them for later. “But I have no skill in magic,” he protested,”while I’m sure I can replicate these symbols I wouldn’t know what else to do. What else would be required of me?”

Dormicon chuckled slightly and patted Demetrius’ shoulder in a fatherly way. “You see that is why I brought you here Demetrius. Your skills are much stronger then you suspect! Your kind has an innate link to my realm and it is even stronger on your world due to some of the… events… that have transpired in the past. All you need to do is draw the runes and open yourself to me, I will take care of the rest.”

Demetrius smiled and nodded “And you will grant me the powers of the ancients? The powerful spells of a mighty Warlock?”

Dormicon nodded “All you need do is agree to be my agent and I will grant you these powers, that only you would be able to use so wisely.”

Demetrius pulled away slightly and thrust one bony hand out to shake. “Then you have a deal Dormicon, I will be your agent in our world.”

Dormicon smiled and accepted the handshake. “By the ancient pacts and ties of blood, it is done, young one, go back to your world and draw these runes as I have displayed them to you, you will be rewarded.” The symbols appeared once again but they had already been written on the walls of Demeterius’ mind. These were the keys to change his life.

Demetrius’s eyes quickly opened back in his bedroom and quickly worked to relight the candle he had put out while lying in utter blackness. He shook himself and started to doubt what he had just experienced, thinking that perhaps it was just another dream, but when he looked down at the book that he had been reading he saw confirmation of his dream. In place of the text on the next page, the arcane symbols were there. It was a reminder and a warning. Demetrius looked down to his hands and seemed to see a pulsing blue fire emanating from his fingertips. He knew what he had to do, he instantly cleared the floor as much as he could and grabbed a beaker full of red paint that he had been saving for an art project he was supposed to do and started to paint on the floor.

As he began painting he started to feel as if there was something guiding his hand. The symbols began to form up under his delicate brush and they started to glow with an eerie greenish light. Demetrius heard a pale laughter that seemed to emanate from nowhere and his hand started to furiously paint the rest of the symbols. He knew at then that he had been duped! He started to hear the sounds of otherworldly demons eager to enter his world and wreak the havoc that their kind was known for. Demetrius screamed and tried to pull his hand away from the symbols but found that his hand had taken on a life of it’s own. Dormicon’s voice echoed loudly in his head “It is almost complete young fool! It is so easy to deceive any of you mortals once we find what which desires pull your strings.”

Demetrius let out a groan and looked down to see that the symbols were over half way completed and a shimmering portal was beginning to appear in front of him. On the other side of the portal were all sorts of demons that he had read about in the past, one appeared to be a mighty six armed Balor that had two fearsome imps on it’s shoulders. The upper body of a beautiful voluptuous woman was attached to the body of a hideous serpent and was making lewd cat calls to Demetrius as the portal started to become more corporeal.

Another voice suddenly arose in Demetrius’ head. “Foolish Tiefling what have you done?” the voice demanded of him.

The voice of Dormicon returned to his head. It’s arrogance had multiplied as the circle became more complete. “Begone lowly Astos, it is done, my hordes will feast on the mortals in their own realm and I will gain the power to banish you from the upper realms of the netherworld back to the lower levels of the Abyss where you belong! Your power will be mine.”

The voice of Astos sounded more faint as if it was being pulled away but it pleaded with Demetrius and pushed a whisper of power into his mind. “Young one, you must release this power and cry out my name. My power will disrupt the portal. Do it now before it is too late!” and the voice faded completely.

Demetrius looked up again from his reverie and saw that the complex diagrams were almost complete and the succubus was fighting with a common four-armed demon to be the first in line to come out of the portal and claim his life. Demetrius could only imagine what these demon spawn would do once they were released into Kharon’s Crossing. Demetrius brought up his other arm into a fist, focused the power inside him and let out a mighty cry “ASTOS!”. Flames erupted all around him that ate at the portal and destroyed the symbols at his feet.

The evil presence returned immediately. “Fool!” Dormicon screamed into his mind. “Do you realize what you have done? Now I will never be able to enter your realm! You will die a thousand deaths when you come to the netherworld. I will claim you and when you are brought broken and shattered to face me, little one, I hope you remember this taste of the destruction that will be wrought upon you!” As Dormicon screamed these final words in his mind, Demetrius passed out and the flames that were around him flared up causing the entire room to go up in a conflagration of sickly green flame.

Matron heard the screams downstairs and had already started to come up the stairs when she felt the explosion rock the house. She could feel the heat as she rushed up the stairs and heard the flames as they hungrily licked at the walls of her home. She screamed as loud as she could for the children to evacuate and hurried up the stairs to grab Demetrius. She entered the attic and was nearly overcome by the intense heat and billowing smoke. She dashed through covering her face with a cloth she had picked up along the way and found Demetrius lying on the floor surrounded by fire. His natural resistance to fire had protected him so far but even that would not allow him to survive much longer. Matron ran in and grabbed his limp form, just hoping that he still lived and jumped through the flames again out the door and onto the stairwell.

She flew down the stairs and heard the children crying as she made it to the ground level. She yelled for the older children to grab the younger ones and take them outside immediately, smiling to herself when she saw that some of them had already done so. She made it outside on adrenaline alone and collapsed onto the broken cobblestones of the streets. She had suffered serious injuries while rescuing Demetrius and finally succumbed to the intensity of her wounds. On the edge of consciousness, she thanked Avandra that it appeared all of her wards were going to make it out in one piece. Somewhere above her a cleric of Avandra was praying for her. She tried to force out some words indicating that he should see to the children first, and she passed out.

Tavern Tales #1: The Night (or One of the Nights) Malvedin Does Not Remember

Malvedin rushed away from the scene of the incident with the guards, trying not to be noticed. Even were it not daytime it would have been difficult not to miss him as he weaved among the crowd of people. Nearly six feet tall with straight, light brown hair that fell nearly to his shoulders, the chainmail he wore alone would have set him apart from the common person walking the streets. The way his eyes, light gray with flecks of blue, darted from side to side told anyone who could see that he was a novice to the stealthy arts. Add to that the mace hanging from his belt, the shield strapped to his back, and the clerical vestments he wore over his armor and he would have been a sight to draw eyes if they hadn’t already been filled with an even stranger sight.

Without pausing to think he took turns at random, slipping in and out of streets and alleys. After a while he stopped to look around him and found himself in a part of Luxadal he had never before seen. The street he was on seemed reasonably clean for such a city and people walked about without the wariness found in the seedier portions of the city, of which there were many. He reasoned that this area must be nearer to the Marketplace or the nobles’ estates and further away from the coal mines.

He listened for any sounds of pursuit but, as was the case during his meandering flight, there was no sound of alarm or guards giving chase. His thoughts turned to his current situation and how close his companions had come to starting a fight with the local authorities or getting the whole lot of them arrested. He wasn’t sure which would have been worse since he was sure his small party of adventurers would have made easy work of the local guards. After all, they were foolish enough to attack a nine foot monster with just the few numbers they had. A nine foot monster that carried a huge iron club and that healed from every wound they gave it. No, those guards would not have put up much of a fight, but even wounding them would have made their situation untenable, if he could have even prevented Orog from killing the lot of them.

The cleric of Avandra sighed and rubbed his forehead with two fingers of his right hand as he leaned against the corner of a wooden building. He could understand why his dragonborn friend would want to drink so much after spending so much time with that party. Thinking of Ghesh brought up memories of simpler times and it wasn’t long before Malvedin found himself walking through the door of a tavern to find himself something to drink.

Directly across from the door stood the bar; long, wooden, and lined with stools. To the right of the bar were the doors to the kitchen and he could smell the aromas of cooking food wafting through the air, heavy with rosemary and garlic. Next to the kitchen was a wooden stairway that led up and below the stairs was the common room, filled with round wooden tables and lined with benches. In the corner at the far side of the room to his right stood a large raised wooden platform which was set next to a large fireplace made of brown stones. The fireplace held a small but fiercely burning fire. Only one entertainer sat on the platform at the moment, a young lad with short brown hair playing a brass flute.

It was early enough in the day that there were only a half dozen or so people sitting at tables, eating or talking or just smoking a pipe. A pretty serving girl walked swiftly by bearing a plate of food. She wore a clean white shirt with ruffled holes that bared her shoulders and a dark brown skirt that fell to her ankles. Her light brown hair was slightly curled and fell to the middle of her back. As she rushed by she spoke over her shoulder, “Find a seat and I’ll be right with you. Any seat will do!”

Walking to the corner opposite the door Malvedin noticed that there seemed to be nobody else waiting tables. Seeing the few people in the room he thought that it was probably typical fare for the time of day. No sooner did he sit down than did the serving girl stop by his table. A small smile curved her lips as, eyeing his attire, she asked, “What will it be?”

With the girl in front of him Malvedin could see details about her he had missed before, like the surprising fact that she was indeed a girl and not a young woman as he had assumed. She could not have been much beyond her sixteenth year. Had he been standing the top of her head would not have come even with his eyes. Her eyes were a startlingly deep shade of blue with emerald green flecks and the look she gave him was direct, not a challenge or an invitation but a sure sign that she would not put up with anything less than politeness from him.

Perhaps most surprising about her were the slightly pointed ears that poked out of her hair. She had the slender body of an elf but the roundness of her hips and her bust would make sure that she would never be mistaken for a boy. She wore a light brown apron tied at her waist that emphasized her curves. She must be a half-elf, product of one of those rare unions between a human and an elf.

“Well? Are you hungry or thirsty or what?” Her voice broke through his reverie and he started blushing. It was embarrassing enough that he had started staring at the girl but to have become so scatterbrained as to do it directly in front of her with her eyes looking at him was almost too much to bear. If it wasn’t for the mischievousness he saw in her smile and the playful arch of one thin graceful eyebrow he might have rushed from the room in mortification.

He stammered, “Ah yes, well I . . . I don’t . . . that is I’m not really much of a drinker. If you could get me something that tastes good and won’t lay me out flat I’d appreciate it.” Her accompanying laugh was warm and his tension eased somewhat.

“Not much of a drinker you say?” She eyed him up and down again. “Well you’re not a small man. I think I know just the thing. Just sit still and I’ll be right back.” As she turned away Malvedin thought he saw her wink at him but he wasn’t sure. It could just as easily have been a play of the light on her face or his hopeful imagination.

He watched her walk away and she must have sensed this because there was more of a sway in her steps than before. At the kitchen door she glanced back at him and he quickly jerked his head to the side and stared blankly at the boy playing the flute. He heard her rich lilting laughter as she went through the door. Blushing furiously he started berating himself. This was not the first pretty girl he had ever seen, in fact she wasn’t even the most beautiful girl he had ever met. Why then was he staring at her so much?

A short while later the girl returned and placed a mug in front of him. Steam rose from the mug along with the sharp scent of cinnamon and cloves. Taking the mug in one hand, he took a slow sip from the rim. The drink was hot enough almost to the point of being unbearable but there was a sharp tangy flavor that left a sweet aftertaste. Grinning at the girl he took another heartier swallow from the mug. As he set the mug down the serving girl clapped her hands and giggled with delight.

“I see you like the hot spiced cider! I knew you would. It’s the lightest drink here that doesn’t taste like a horse’s foot.” Malvedin brought the cider up for another draw but she laid her hand on his arm and, with a wry smile on her face, she said, “Now not so fast good master. It’s customary that when you take the first drink you make a toast! So come, what will you toast to?”

Malvedin arched one eyebrow inquisitively. “A toast you say? Let me think on this.” As he pondered his toast a thought came to mind and he was suddenly filled with sorrow. He raised the mug and smiled sadly. “If it’s a toast then it must be a toast to Dahlia. To Dahlia! You will never be forgotten!” With the last word he emptied the mug and let his arm fall to the table.

At hearing that name the half-elven girl frowned slightly. “That sounds like a woman’s name. Who is this Dahlia?”

Without looking up Malvedin responded with a sigh, “Dahlia was one of my travelling companions, a paladin and follower of Pelor. She passed away a short time ago and we have still yet to find out the truth to why or how it came to pass.”

At this news the girl let out a gasp and a sympathetic murmur. If Malvedin had been looking at her he would have also seen a calculating look that defied the youthfulness of her face. Placing a slender hand on his shoulder she said, “It is good to remember those who have passed into the next world. But try not to be sad, instead remember the best days you shared with your friend.”

Absently he patted her hand and gave her his thanks. She squeezed his shoulder and asked, “Could I get you another drink?” At his nod she moved away and made her way back to the kitchen.

The serving girl came back with another drink. As she set it on the table one of the other patrons in the tavern called out loudly for more food. She looked over at the other patron and shouted, “I’ll be right over Oros!” She shook her head and muttered loudly enough to be heard by everybody, “You’d think two whole chickens would be enough.” As the other patrons laughed she turned back to Malvedin and told him, “I need to tend to the others. If you need anything at all just tell me.” She looked into his eyes and made sure he acknowledged her before running off.

As he finished the second mug of hot spiced cider Malvedin’s whole body felt warm. It was a pleasant feeling and he closed his eyes and basked in it. His head also felt a little lighter, as if all his troubles had been lifted from his mind. As time went by Malvedin ordered more spiced cider and as the hour got later more people entered the tavern. Since it had gotten busier he could get no more than a few words with her when she brought him his drinks but she would always feel his eyes when he stared at her and would turn and offer him a wink and a smile before taking her next order. Before full evening came on several more serving girls arrived to help the half-elf girl.

As the tavern filled up with people the noise got louder as multiple conversations were held. The boy with the flute was replaced with two women: one played a lute while the other danced and sang. The first song was about a lusty sailor, though there was no port in the city nor was there a sea for miles around. Both were wearing flowing blue dresses with dark purple sashes tied around their waists. The woman playing the lute had pale blonde hair gathered into a braid that she pulled over her right shoulder. The other had dark blue-black hair flowing nearly to her waist that whipped around as she danced. Both women had pale white skin and pretty faces.

The warmth in Malvedin’s body centered around his stomach and there was a soft muted buzzing in his head. He had no idea if he was drunk yet but he was sure he could tell if he was. Every time he thought that he should order another drink the half-elven girl would place one in front of him, or one of the other serving girls would do so and dance away giggling at his word of thanks and grateful smile.

He no longer stared at the half-elf but instead started focusing on the conversations around him. He was told that a lot of information could be gleaned from tavern talk, who told him that and why he could not remember but it occurred to him that he should gather as much information as he could because it was important. One nearby conversation caught his ear and he leaned forward to listen.

“The Duke’s sent invitations to all the houses. All of them! Don’t you think that’s strange? What could it mean?”

Before he knew what he was doing Malvedin had walked over and, leaning his hands on the table, he spoke, “Strange!? Do you want to hear something strange?” He gestured grandly with one hand. “Let me tell you about the time my friends and I entered the Cursed Tower! You all of course have heard about it yes?”

The men at the table looked at Malvedin, they noted his armor and weapons and his flushed face. They looked at each other and one of them politely replied, “No good sir, we do not know of this Cursed Tower.”

Malvedin was taken aback and he cried out, “How could you not know? That tower has been abandoned for over a century and yet not one sign of wear or damage can be seen. Strange noises and strange lights are seen in and about the tower and no one dares come close for fear of its mysteries. It’s one of the most well known land marks of Kharon’s Crossing!”

To this the man said, with forced cheer, “We do not know of Kharon’s Crossing either good sir.”

Malvedin truly looked apalled at this. Standing up as straight as he can he declaimed, “Why, Kharon’s Crossing is only the largest trade city on the continent! It straddles the crossroads of the Great North Road and the old Imperial Highway. Anybody with anything to sell goes through there. You can find all kinds of goods and if you can’t find it at Kharon’s Crossing well then it probably doesn’t exist!”

Another man at the table interjected, “Yes well, that’s all very good and all, but why would we want to hear about something that happened so far away? I’m sure Kharon’s Crossing is a grand city and this Cursed Tower of yours is interesting but we don’t know anything about them.”

At this Malvedin paused and focused his eyes on the man who had spoken. It took an unsually long time for him to do so but when he had the man’s face in focus he spoke, “Why would you want to know about the Cursed Tower you asked? Because the only reason we went to the Cursed Tower is because we came here to Luxadal.” He lowered his voice and all the men at the table leaned in to hear his next words. “All because we came here and spoke with a person called Spectryl.”

Cries of excitement issued forth from those gathered at the table. “Spectryl! I should have known it was something about her. She’s always doing something devious.”

Another man at the table spoke out, “Spectryl isn’t a woman, Spectryl’s a man! I hear he’s a nobleman who’s trying to overthrow the Duke.” At this statement several other patrons nodded agreement.

“No no no, you’ve got it all wrong. Spectryl’s a noble alright but she’s a noble woman. She uses her resources and sells information that benefits her house!” cried another man from the next table.

Malvedin cut in before they could get into a heated argument about Spectryl. “That’s all very well and good but do you want to hear the story or don’t you?” Everybody nodded vigorously and made room for him at the table. As he sat down they ordered him another drink and bade him continue.


Albastra's journal, entry #2.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to update my journal.

My companions and I managed to save Dimitrus. The rogue and I snuck in and got him out along with some other prisoners which threatened to alert the guards of our presence if we didn’t take them with us. Ironically they did that anyway without intention by being loud, foolish humans. The guards were alerted to our presence and we all ran back to Braxilius where the protective magic of the city killed our foes.

I felt dishonored running like that. I would much rather die fighting than live like a coward. The only reason I didn’t stand my ground and fought was because I was the only one who wanted to do that and I care for my friends too much to leave them on their own, especially after what happened in the caves where they almost died without me in mere minutes. All and all it was a successful campaign in that we got what we went for.

Dimitrius told us that Alara Silverstroke has been taken to an island where there are tribes of orcs buried. This has trouble written all over it. Although I do not care for Alara’s well-being having those who raise the undead so close to so many corpses has me more than worried. We shall go to the island to see what we can do to prevent the followers of Orcus from raising a seemingly unbeatable undead army. However, on the way there we shall stop in Luxandale for the ball.

I am not sure why some of my companions decided to come to the ball. I am the one who wanted to get to the Duke in order to see if I can help the Tiefling slaves have a more bearable existence while working the mines. Although I spoke to all the major houses and the Duke himself I don’t feel like I made any real progress. It seems like it was a waste of my time. I wish I had more opportunities to convince them. It didn’t help at all that my companions were making themselves unpleasant and drawing undesirable attention. It went as far as I had to pretend I did not know them in order to gain the favor of the council.

The Duke himself seems to be a drunken, whoring careless dragonborn. I can’t imagine how he got in this position of power; it’s not like he is built to fight or seems very intelligent. I would not be surprised if he was overthrown by his own people soon because of the negligence and lack of care he is showing. It’s like he is turning his back to them and saying “Here! I am not watching my back, go ahead and stab me.”

Regardless of the Duke’s worth, I believe I gained his favor through what he interpreted as me saving his life. Also by pretending not to be with Orog or my other trouble causing companions, I managed to distract the guards from attacking my friends. I can’t imagine what they were thinking being in the situation that they were and doing the things they did. The thing that was most interesting at the ball was the raising of the three thieves who were killed to make an example out of them. Apparently one of the offerings to the Duke was a rock who raised zombies. That is most odd. I am half-curious to see where that stone was acquired and who is making/bringing these types of objects into the world. It seems to me that Orcus is behind this, because all the undead we have been fighting are courtesy of him.

Malvedin's Letters to a Friend: #4 Unknown Power

Greetings from Luxadal my friend. I hope this letter finds you well. I am as well as can be myself. Much has happened from my last letter and I’m sure there will be a surprise or two in this one to make your hair stand on end! But I get ahead of myself. Let me continue from my last letter.

We had just witnessed a rage drake flying off into the distance with our tiefling warlock in its clutches. With despair in my heart I wondered how we would ever be able to track a creature through the sky. The answer was much simpler than I had anticipated for soon Marcus found us and mentioned that he had seen the rage drake and that it was probably heading back toward its lair. When we told him of our plight he was hesitant to aid us in the rescue of Demetrius but his better nature won over his city’s institutionalized xenophobia and he told us where the drake was most likely to go: Aiden’s Landing.

He told us that the city would like to offer us its thanks and that if we were going to go after our companion and try to save him that he would accompany us and show us the way. We were also told that some items from Braxilius’ armory were ours for the aid we’ve rendered to the city and that they would help us in our attempt to rescue Demetrius. Marcus showed us several chests that contained some amount of gold and various implements and armors of magic.

I picked up a fine suit of chain and I saw Shamesh putting on a gleaming set of plate armor. I did not notice what the others had taken, if they had found anything useful at all. We then set out immediately to Aiden’s Landing and to what we hoped was the landing spot of that vicious rage drake.

On our way to Aiden’s Landing I noticed something odd. Our small companion Callie seemed to have grown taller! At least five extra inches of height she had gained and I do not know how I did not notice it before. I examined her as best I could but could discern nothing ailing her or affecting her health, other than that wasting disease she and Orog contracted from those rats in the caverns.

Right, I forgot to mention this in my last letter. In that fight against undead horrors in the caverns beneath the Braxilian hold, Orog and Callie came into contact with a swarm of disease ridden rats. Their symptoms include weakness of the body, a fever, and violent vomiting on Orog’s part. I was able to identify this malady as Filth Fever and had gained some medicine from the priests of Braxilius that should ease the symptoms and fortify their constitution somewhat, though they say they could make a cure if we could regain control of the city.

While walking to Aiden’s landing we had Albastra identify the various properties of the magical items we had just been gifted. I found myself with an Armor of Sacrifice, and as it turned out it would come into use much sooner than we had expected. We came across a small party consisting of four undead creatures and one overseer. These foul beings glowed with an unnatural inner light.

It soon became apparent that these undead were of a different variety than those we had previously encountered. Those of us struck with their arrows were afflicted with dark necrotic energies or engulfed in flame. In the first few moments of battle Callie and Orog had both been struck and flames clung to them and spread from the arrows. It was then that I employed the magical properties of my new armor.

Running in to aid them, I laid my hands upon Callie and Orog and, muttering a short prayer to Avandra, willed the flames onto myself. Soon they were both free of the fire and I found myself burning in their place. The undead archer must have taken a liking to Callie for she was shot several more times and I took the flames from her body each time.

Of my compainons it seemed that only Shamesh was not bothered by the fire or dark magics of these creatures. But his seeming invulnerability to their attacks did not mean that the rest of us could shrug off the pain. Despite constant healing everyone was suffering from grave wounds. Even Marcus struggled to keep up with our enemies in this battle and he was a battle hardened soldier who must have seen much action to reach his rank.

A great surprise came when the necrotic undead who had taken serious wounds suddenly released a wave of dark energy around it. This foul attack afflicted even its allies as it shared the pains of its wounds with us. Somehow we were able to finish off the burning archers and we were only left with the dark dead and their living overseer. Surprisingly enough, it was the necrotic undead’s destruction that finished off the orc leading them. As one of the necrofiends fell dark energy burst from it again and killed the orc. Afterward it was a simple matter to destroy the other one and we tended to our wounds before continuing on.

We soon came to a fork in the path and Marcus led us up. We eventually found ourselves on a bluff overlooking a large camp. From what we could see there were nearly a hundred humanoids consisting of orcs, goblins, and kobolds. Set off to one side of the enemy camp was a large pen filled with more undead creatures. We were discussing plans of action when Albastra surprised us all.

I know not what battle crazed spirits possessed her but she suggested that we make a frontal assault on the enemy camp below. Not the overwhelming numbers nor the question of Demetrius’ unknown whereabouts could dissuade her from this course of action. I believe the only reason she did not enact her plan was because of the fact that it was obvious she would be attacking alone. Avandra rewards boldness and bravery, not suicidal stupidity and empty gestures. I wonder if she hasn’t been sneaking blue weed while we sleep.

In any case we decided to wait until nightfall and to send Callie in to scout the camp thoroughly. We found a spot on the cliff that would allow for an easy climb with a rope and then we waited. It was almost impossible to get accurate numbers of the camp from where we were hiding and the wait was almost unbearable. This is when I took the time to write you that last letter. I couldn’t finish because of the poor light and I was too nervous to concentrate properly anyway.

Darkness came and we were well rested. I took this opportunity to administer medicine to Callie and Orog. It seemed to improve Callie’s condition greatly but Orog fell even more ill. If any fighting were to be done I was not sure if Orog could contribute. Callie climbed down the rope and went to find our answers. Albastra went with her and I prayed that they would make it back with good news. Shamesh waited at the bottom of the cliff as well, while I stayed behind to watch over Orog. Marcus kept an eye on the camp below.

If the wait for darkness was unbearable the wait for Callie and Albastra was physically painful. I don’t know how much time had passed but eventually there came sounds from the camp. This was a bad sign because the plan was to go in quietly and leave even more silently than they had entered. Eventually we could make out what was happening, but only due to the fact that the enemy camp had brought out torches and all of them were chasing after a small group of people who were fleeing towards the cliff-face.

Albastra and Callie made it to the cliff and they had Demetrius with them! He looked bruised and beaten but he was alive and was likely to stay that way. He clambered up the rope first while Albastra made her way up slowly followed by Callie. Orog got up and he started pulling the rope. I helped him haul on the rope and Shamesh grabbed onto the end and managed to hang on while we got them all up.

Then we all ran for Braxilius. We could not stop in our flight otherwise we’d more than likely die in gruesome and unspeakable manners. I worried for my companions but mostly for Callie and Orog. The Filth Fever still ran amok in their bodies and I did not know how well they could keep up. By Avandra’s will we all made it back inside the walls of Braxilius. We had to help them close the gate before the city’s magical defenses could be brought into play.

When the city gates closed a loud rumble could be heard from the center of the city. Filling the sky above us was an angelic visage of pure white light. From its eyes came forth rays of light that reached out over the walls of the city and touched down into the horde of enemies that had gathered to chase us down. Each creature that was touched by the light glowed briefly and then floated away as puffs of dust and ash.

The white angel of death was relentless in its search for life outside of the city walls. It wasn’t long before the only things moving outside of Braxilius were clouds and columns of ash stirred up by the wind. The defenses employed within the city were no less spectacular. You will remember of course that I mentioned that city’s strange burial rites? How they cremate their dead and mix the ashes into the very mortar they use to build?

The spirit of every citizen of Braxilius whose body was interred into the city in this way came out of the walls and hunted down every non-citizen who did not bear a Mark of Erathis. It was strange to see the people of Braxilius greeting and cheering on loved ones who had passed away as they rooted out hiding kobolds or goblins and ripped them to pieces. Even the blood of their enemies was scoured away by the spirits guarding the city.

Did you know the kind of power this city possessed? Who could have guessed that they would have these kinds of magical defenses in place! After all the enemies were dealt with we had a chance to rest. Demetrius revealed to us the name of his captor and Orog recognized it as the orc who had exiled him from his tribe. Even more surprising was the fact that Alara Silverstroke had also been a captive and that she had been taken to an island. It turns out this island is also the ancestral burial ground for generations of orc tribes.

After going over the information I knew about the undead it had occurred to me that if the ancestral burial ground of the orcs was to fall into the hands of those who had been using necromancy to summon up the hordes of zombies we had been seeing, then all of the lands may soon fall under the might of the followers of Orcus. Who knew what kind of power they would have at their disposal? Orcs are already tough to kill but when they’re already dead . . . we decided that this was a bad thing and so we headed out to put a stop to this if it was at all in our power to do so.

We found our favorite innkeepers in Braxilius, Halvor and Etna, and once more we rented rooms from them. The priests of Erathis cooked up cures for the Filth Fever and Callie and Orog got a much deserved rest, we stayed several days in fact to allow Orog to convalesce. Our horses were found and gathered up and we procured supplies for our next trip.

Luxadal was on the way to the island so we decided to stop there and warn the city of the impending danger. We also stopped by to see Grandmother and seek any aid they could provide. Grandmother promised to ask the other gnoll tribes for assistance but she made it clear that she could promise nothing else. The cub that Callie had saved also seemed to be doing well. It was healthy and energetic at least.

We made it to Luxadal without trouble but we found plenty of it once inside the city. Somehow we stumbled upon a fight between several city guards and a hulking beast man. I use the term “fight” loosely for the guards were slashing at the creature with their swords while he did nothing in return. Their swords were having little effect; every wound they inflicted was soon healed up. The thing’s body was covered in scars but the list of things that could hurt it did not include these guards or their swords.

We tried to put a stop to this but the guards became hostile to us as well. I tried to talk to the guards but Albastra and Orog soon started threatening them and I was afraid that Orog would start beheading before we could get safely away, but to my great surprise we were not arrested nor bathed in the blood of Luxadal guards. Albastra managed to lead the creature away while the guards ran off. We followed Albastra while she spoke with the creature.

His name was Herder or Hurter or Hurt Her. I could not ascertain which but we found out that it was looking for Spectryl. We told him that we were also looking for Spectryl and that Callie and Demetrius would know how to get in touch with the enigmatic figure. Albastra led Herder, I’ll call him that for now, out of the city and Shamesh and Orog followed. Demetrius and Callie went off to search for Spectryl. I found myself mentally exhausted and understood perfectly why Ghesh so often resorted to drink to drown his problems. I decided to try his way at least once and found myself a nice bar.

The next couple hours are a bit hazy. I think it was only a few hours. Anyway, I woke up in a barn a few hours ago and I think I still smell like a sty. I found myself a temple of Avandra and informed the abbot about what we’d encountered and what was likely to happen soon. I don’t know how much he believed me but they provided me with services and necessities and I can’t really complain right now. At least this place was quiet.

As I write this the vestments I got from Count Von Bratovich are being cleaned and I am getting ready for a ball. Apparently this ball is thrown by the Duke of Luxadal every year and this year everybody has an invitation. I’m not sure why but we’re all meeting up later this evening and going to attend this ball. I think Albastra or Demetrius have good reason to go to this ball and that’s why we’re attending. Maybe I should take this chance to just relax and have fun.

I’m going to take a meal before the ball, I think I can actually eat now.

Peace see you well and that woman deep inside one.

Malvedin Brogan
Dedicate of Avandra
Witness to Her Glory
Nexus of Awesome Power
Not Going To Drink So Much Anymore

P.S. I’m not sure but I think I’ve got a girlfriend. Or I’m married. Some girl’s name is tattooed on my hip, but I have no idea who Eltira Faydun is and no one at the bar would say anything.

Orphan, turned Scholar, turned Warlock, turned Thief, turned Highwayman?

“It was a dark and stormy night…” even though that is such an insipid way to begin a story, in this case it is actually true. Callie and I had recently joined up with a new group of thieves that took to calling themselves “Braylon’s Bastards”. What a ridiculous name for a group lead by a former noble that had fallen from grace. We had done a job on one of the noble houses outside of Luxadal pulling in a decent take with these fools. Apparently, Braylon had received a tip that this noble was expecting a large windfall on a couple of smart investments he had made on the dye trade. Now Braylon was briefing us on a similar job that he had lined up.

Let me tell you a little bit about Braylon himself. To say this guy was a “piece of work” would be about the same as calling the Shatterspire Mountains a molehill. Braylon had been a noble in some far off land and apparently had fallen from grace. He was never the one to tell us this, but apparently he had been kicked out by his parents after a particularly cruel beating he had given one of his stable boys. Apparently the lad was only nine years of age and still has not recovered completely. He also had a reputation among the “ladies of the night” of being a particularly vicious bastard and most wouldn’t even see him anymore. While this is not the sort I (or Callie I would assume) would ever associate ourselves with, the cut of the next take was one that could not be ignored.

Seven thousand gold. Let me write this again, seven thousand gold! That is what this trader had received on a recent take to some place lying in the north. Someone had actually left Kharon’s Crossing with some of the meager supplies that we generate here and had taken them to a port town in the north and was coming back with seven thousand gold. I would have merely laughed at some minor criminal with no name recognition such as Braylon if he had tried to recruit my services with the promise of 1,000 gold each, dismissing his ravings as that of someone that had partaken of a bit too much of the blue weed. However, with my previous experiences with this particular “minor criminal” and the loot that we had secured from our previous job I was sold. 7,000 gold evenly split with everyone in the group. 1 for me, 1 for Callie, 1 for Braylon and 4 for the rest of the “Bastards”.

Ah yes, the “Bastards”, now this was a group of fops rarely seen even in a city filled with as many miscreants as Kharon’s Crossing. First there was Braug the Barbarian. Apparently, he was from some indigenous mountain tribe out of the Shatterspires. Apparently, intelligence was the most highly valued commodity in his tribe because they had told him to go attack a gnoll tribe on his own. He actually complied with his tribe’s demands and attacked the tribe earning himself a nasty scar where his left eye used to be. The gnolls showed some pity on him after they realized what a complete fool he was and left him lying outside of Braxillius and he wondered here into Kharon’s Crossing. Apparently the xenophobia of the Braxillians even extends to their own race.

Then there were Klick and Klack. These two are common fixtures at The Golden Lady and were both already known to me as fairly accomplished swindlers. I’m still surprised they haven’t been banned from the establishment, but as I know all too well, the owners there will only take offense if you try to rip off the house. (I wish I had known that before I started that particular scheme). Ripping off the patrons on the other hand seems to be expected. While these two brothers had a penchant for swindling they also were decent with the tools of their trade (that being a crossbow aimed at you under the table)

Then there was the enigmatic (but not as enigmatic as he was portraying himself to be) “Shadow”. Callie instantly made this goof and it was tough to contain my laughter once she told me who it was. It was Jacob Dinnerly, the fool that had been caught trying to steal vegetables from the Hofsten family farm but had been chased off by Old Lady Hofsten. He had apparently convinced Braylon that he was actually an accomplished thief known only to the people of Kharon’s Crossing as “Shadow”. The bungling fool was supposed to be our “secret contact” that was going to give us the inside scoop of what was happening in Kharon’s Crossing. Jacob had taken to dressing in a ridiculous old blanket that he had fashioned into a robe and was so over sized that it dragged along the ground creating some unsightly stains at the bottom and quite a bit of fraying.

So, we received a “secret missive” from “Shadow” that the Bastards were going to get together to plan this heist. They had reserved us box seats at The Open Hall. While I was not a particular fan of the opera they were showing that night (or any opera for that matter) it was at least slightly impressive that we were going to meet up at one of the more distinguished places in Kharon’s Crossing.

So Callie and I went together (fashionably late of course) while the rain pounded the rooftops of the shanties surrounding the plush Open Hall and met up with the Bastards. When we finally arrived, we were greeted by one of the most entertaining scenes have ever witnessed. Braylon was attempting to explain to everyone what a fantastic story the opera that was being performed had. While Braylon was explaining the particular plot twists happening on the stage, Braug was attempting to throw a mutton chop towards the man dressed as a dog while singing on the stage, explaining to the crowd that his howls sounded so terrible because he was just a hungry dog. Klick and Klack were listening earnestly to Braylon’s explanations and Shadow was trying to restrain Braug. His cowl had fallen back and I was able to confirm that “Shadow” was in fact Jacob as Callie had so expertly pointed out.

When we arrived things calmed down a little bit and Braylon decided to explain to us what was going to happen. Now as mentioned previously, a trader was coming south from a port town to the north carrying with him supplies and a large amount of gold he had made on his journey, and we were going to be in the role of highwaymen. Now, this instantly made both me and Callie uncomfortable, but we were assured that said trader was only travelling with a light contingent of guards and said guards did not have the stomach to put up a fight, we were merely going to intimidate them into giving up the goods.

Now when they laid out the plan it amazingly enough sounded like a good one. What we were going to do was have Braug and Braylon jump out at the caravan while they travelled down the Imperial Highway in a valley about a day’s ride north of Kharon’s Crossing. They were going to yell and frighten the merchants into believing that an entire tribe was lying in wait above them. They wanted me to dress in the robes of a barbarian shaman and have me loose my arcane energies into the sky while Klick, Klack and Callie proceeded to fill the wagons with crossbow quarrels convincing the merchants that they were under attack, so that Melchor and Braug could make off with the goods. I had my doubts, but since I knew nothing about the noble profession of armed robbery, and I could not find any obvious flaws in the plan, and Callie approved, I was in.

So we made our way north. Some horses had been appropriated for us by “Shadow” and Melchor lead the way. With Kharon’s Crossing at our backs and the Shatterspire Mountains to our right we made our way up the Imperial Highway. Apparently this road had been traveled often during the time of the Sunset Empire this road was the lifeblood of the entire empire. Trade flowed down this road with the likes that Kharon’s Crossing had not seen in what seemed like millennia. Such are the thoughts that fill the mind of a former scholar turned warlock, turned thief as he travels to “turn” highwayman. If the Matron could see me now I do not think that she would appreciate what she was viewing.

This road clearly was not used for any sort of trade as the only tracks we could find on the road were from carts that had gone north and could only have belonged to our merchant as he made his way to the port city. We made camp and Callie and I sat down to discuss our impending foray into our new trade. Both she and I knew that only such desperate times could lead us towards such desperate measures. Even though we both were not the most scrupulous people in the world, and had no qualms about robbing the filthy rich, we did not wish to make a career out of this, so we instead discussed what we would purchase with our earnings.

I, as always, longed for the moneys to recreate the Matron’s orphanage. I, as many in Kharon’s crossing, had grown up without parents and was taken in at Matron’s orphanage. I always appreciated the work she put me through and constantly strived to do well by her. Although, she would not approve of what came to pass…ah, but that is a story for another time. Suffice it to say, I owed her much and wished to give back.

Callie had an even more noble calling, for a thief anyways. She informed me that at least half of the money that she appropriated she gave back to the starving people found outside of Korimagger’s Market. The open air market itself was kept clear of the beggars by the city guard, but they surrounded the place like vultures. Callie made it her mission to find the most needy (usually families) amongst the beggars and provide them with sustenance. Our goals were very similar and it started to make sense why we always enjoyed each other’s company. We decided to sleep for the night and rest up for the trials that lie ahead. I consulted my books briefly before turning in to the bedroll myself.

We woke up early and broke our fast with a hearty meal served by Braug. It was a surprisingly good meal, especially for travel food prepared by a half-witted barbarian, and I found myself invigorated and ready to hear the clank of coins as they entered my purse. So we took off.

We neared the valley that Shadow had planned to have us attack the caravan at and I was able to view what a perfect place for an ambush this was. The road came spiralling down off a hillock and entered a valley with nearly sheer cliffs on each side. However, there were ledges where Klick, Klack and Callie could hide themselves easily, and the trajectory of their bolts would make it difficult to determine where they were coming from. I was given my robes and was asked to don them. While I was not particular to purple robes that smelled as if the brownish splotches on them were made by some sort of animal manure, I complied and found that the robes did not limit my movement too much and I would be able to fulfill my role sufficiently in them, as they hid my face well and few would believe that a Tiefling had taken to worshiping the Barbarian spirits.

Shadow and Braylon then laid out the plan in a little more detail. Callie, Klick and Klack were to take spots behind some rocks up one of the ledges which would afford them good views of the caravan while it approached. I was to be quite awhile back where the traders would have a hard time making out that I was not a Human but close enough that they would clearly see my spells as I loosed them in the air and yelled some random nonsense that Braug assured me was an ancient Barbarian curse. Braug and Braylon would be lying in wait behind two large boulders that bordered the path. Shadow would be scouting ahead and was carrying a whistle that sounded like a bird call. We were to listen for the bird call and that’s how we would know that the caravan was approaching.

I took a spot far back from the crossbow men (and woman) while Braug and Braylon hid behind some rocks on opposite sides of the trail. I sat and contemplated the turn of events that lead me to this point. Here I was, lying in wait to waylay some merchants that may very well be bringing sustenance to the very people I purported to be helping. Hindsight being what it is I can now see the irony of the situation, but oh at the time how appealing the thought of the gold greasing my palm seemed. I had not taken well to starving nearly to death. When you are in such a decrepit place as Kharon’s Crossing was suddenly becoming, (and how suddenly our town’s misfortunes came!) hunger tends to become inevitable. I do not see myself as a greedy man, I do honestly give back to my community, more then the foolish priests that worship at the temple of Avandra do after they take their tithes. However, I do feel that I deserve to be higher then the poverty line. That is the very heart of ambition is it not? And can ambition truly be all that dangerous?

But I digress, here I was in the pouring rain, wearing a ridiculous robe and listening to the clapping beats of thunder. But wait, that wasn’t thunder, those were the clapping beats of hoof beats not thunder! That idiot Shadow had not realized that he was too far away for us to hear his bird call over the storm and had not possessed the forethought to come closer to us. I peeked from around my rock and saw the caravan hurtling into the valley, luckily I was not too late as the caravan made it’s way to the waylay point. Braug and Braylon stepped from behind the rock at an opportune time and were greeted by the merchant’s daughter who was apparently travelling outside the wagon at that moment chasing butterflies. Braug stepped forward and began to give his speech of how we were a ferocious Barbarian tribe shouting at the only guard I could see, a giant sword wielding Dragonborn who did not appear in any way to be backing down from the threats, even when the hail of crossbow bolts rained down on the wagon when the entire plan completely went to shit. Braylon, instead of coming forth and backing up Braug decided to grab the child and put a dagger to her throat.

Immediately when he grabbed the child all hell broke loose. Callie stood up and directed her crossbow at Braylon, the Dragonborn unleashed his sword on Braug and easily bested him, and I was stuck in a hard spot. Braug leaned back and started to laugh maniacally and gave the child a vicious left hook from behind catching the child on the jaw. As the child went limp in his arms and Braylon pulled back his dagger preparing to deliver the final strike to the child yelling that the “lizard scum” was next I knew what I must do. I unleashed my most powerful demon spawned spells, but instead of unleashing them in the air as was the plan, I unleashed them directly into Braylon’s child killing, gods forsaken carcass. Never had I thought, or any of us thought for that matter, that Braylon would be such a brutal vicious piece of trash. Braylon fell to the dirt and dropped the child mostly unharmed at his feet. The Dragonborn collected the child then hid behind his shield as he was bombarded by crossbow bolts on one side and I was the target on another. Klick and Klack seemed to believe that there was such a thing as “honor among thieves” and were attacking me. One of their crossbow bolts found the leg of the child that had been attacked previously and that was enough for Callie. She turned and started to unleash her bolts at Klick and Klack, just at the same time that Shadow appeared at the top of the ravine and started to rain boulders and rocks towards the caravan.

I jumped out from cover, filled now with two painful crossbow bolts myself, and yelled for the caravan to come forward announcing that we would cover their retreat. I unleashed more arcane energies in the area that I knew Klick and Klack were hiding in, which was enough for Callie to make good her escape running from the rocks and jumping on the back of the wagon shooting back in the direction of Klick and Klack. The Dragonborn picked up the merchant’s child and started to run as fast as he could towards me taking a few quarrels in his backside as well. As the caravan and the Dragonborn passed and I started to take off with them I looked behind myself and saw Braylon raising his head out of the dirt. He had taken some serious damage to the side of his head and through my ability to lipread I was able to discern that he was sending a rather nasty curse in my general direction. While I knew that I had made a particularly dreadful enemy that day, I was more then willing to call the scum my enemy. No one that attempts to slay children would ever be counted as one of my friends.

We made haste back to Kharon’s Crossing and on the way found out that the Dragonborn that was acting as the merchant’s guard was actually a member of one of the council’s families. A fellow that went by the name of Ghesh. Now while Ghesh had a serious drinking problem, and was not the most friendly person to be around, he had an interesting proposal for us. He would have us exonerated from our crimes if we would join him in his self appointed quest to bring economy back to Kharon’s Crossing through more noble methods. While I was not a fan of noble methods, I could now respect the irony of our previously chosen path and was able to recognize that although our methods were drastically different, our goals were the same and could be accomplished together. This is how Callie and I found ourselves teamed up with this Dragonborn Fighter, the Elladrin Wizard, the Human Cleric of Avandra, and the half-elf paladin as we made our way to Braxillius…

Malvedin's Letters to a Friend: #3 Divergent Paths

Greetings my friend. I hope this letter finds you well, or reasonably alive at least. I am not so sure of our survival but that is not something to dwell on. Let me tell you of what’s been happening and hopefully there will be another letter following this. Avandra watch over us all.

Much has happened since my last letter and not a lot of it any good. Our party has parted ways since I last contacted you, several times in fact. We are currently resting and I doubt I’ll get to all the events that have transpired but I will do my best. I’ve always tried to do my best. Hopefully that is enough.

My last letter left off with the despairing mother and the resting warriors and Demetrius’ distress. When I awoke hours later I found to my surprise that Demetrius had had a change of heart. He no longer wanted to go look for the missing children, insisting that the time we’d spent resting had sealed their fate and that they had already died. Albastra also voiced this notion, including her opinion that taking time to look for lost children would doom the rest of the city’s survivors to their own deaths.

I argued with them to the best of my ability, mentioning the fact that we were also asked to find an escape route through the tunnels if there was one and that the children could be searched for as well. When Demetrius finally agreed to go we found that Orog, Shamesh, and Callie had already gone into the tunnels. Demetrious grabbed his follower Torch and with a reluctant Albastra we hurried to catch up to them. They had not traveled far into the dark caverns and we then continued our search together.

The first cavern branched off left and right and we took the right fork. With Shamesh’s shield magically lit with Albastra’s magic, it wasn’t long before we found what could only be described as clutches of eggs. Demetrius convinced his friend to destroy these eggs and Torch proceeded to cast his magic on them. Gouts of flame burst among the eggs and they burst open to disgorge more of those stone fleshed creatures that almost killed me in our last fight.

These monsters were only newly born however and not too difficult to dispatch. We were handily defeating them and only two eggs were left to deal with when out of one of the tunnels came a monstrosity we did not expect. Before anyone could react, a huge white crocodile hurtled out of the darkness and its jaws snapped shut upon Torch’s torso. We looked in horror as the albino lizard’s teeth sank into Torch’s body and watched the huge snout shake him from side to side. Our mighty warriors managed to free Torch from the beast’s jaws and we quickly surrounded it.

I healed Torch as best I could while putting myself between him and the monster. Those horrendous teeth snapped at us and its huge tail swept back and forth, knocking us about. I was afraid it would swallow Callie in one bite and was glad to see her keeping away from the gaping maw. The thick scaly hide defeated many of my blows but with all of our might focused upon it the crocodile eventually fell dead at our feet.

Weary from battle we turned to destroy the last of the eggs as well but discovered that they had hatched during our struggle with the giant lizard and the young stone-skinned monsters had escaped. Shamesh carried the injured Torch back to the survivor’s hideout while we rested from the ordeal. When Shamesh returned we went on with our exploration.

We came to some stairs leading up but decided not to ascend. Thoroughly searching the first floor would be best so we turned around and headed back to the left fork we passed up at the beginning. The tunnel went straight and then curved around sharply to the right. It brought us to a pool of water and suspended in the ceiling above the pool was the body of a child. Fearing the worst we approached the pool of water, but then the child spoke in a language that I did not understand.

It seemed that only Callie knew what the child was saying and eventually she told us what the creature wanted. Apparently it was holding the other two children captive and would only free them to us if we cleared the caverns of some recent intruders. We agreed to this as there seemed little choice in the matter. Callie swam underneath the pool of water while the rest of us waited for her report. Albastra even set up a tent and made herself comfortable. Callie found the children encased in some magical prison. We could not hope to free them ourselves and so there was nothing left but to find these intruders and deal with them.

Here is where the first split in our party happens. As we continued along the tunnel pass the pool of water, Albastra announced that she was going to stay with her tent and nothing we could say could convince her to come with us. With deep misgivings I accompanied the rest of my companions deeper into the caverns while Albastra stayed behind alone. The path we took came upon another pool of water, as it turns out an extension of the one we had just recently left.

Fog shrouded much and what we could see was a narrow strip of land leading to a small island out in the water. Another narrow strip of land lead away from the island and into the far side of the pool. In the darkness above us I noticed some large bats nested on the ceiling. For lack of a better plan Callie decided to go out to the island alone as she is the most agile of our company. She reached the island and, before she could continue along the second bridge, hands reached out of the water and grabbed her.

Arcane energy from Demetrius revealed undead beings in the water around the island and Callie was held fast. Orog leapt out to the island, scooped Callie up, and then tossed her to us where Shamesh caught her. It was at this point that the “bats” I saw before swooped down and attacked me. I had been standing foolishly by myself off to the side and one of the “bats” wrapped itself around my head blinding me and preventing me from aiding my allies.

The battle continued as I struggled with the undead monsters that I had mistaken for bats. No sooner would I rip one off my face than the other would take its place. I managed a healing spell or two but the undead bat-things took up most of my attention. Eventually I destroyed one of them and the other one flew off to wrap itself around someone else’s head. Orog found himself blinded and struggling to pull the thing off his face.

It was at this time that I noticed that Albastra had joined our fight. When and how she got there I don’t know but I was glad for her presence. Several singed rats and mauled wraiths later and we were left with the face hugging abomination that had now latched itself to Shamesh. Trying to pry it off of him without injuring him was difficult but we eventually managed to destroy it before Shamesh got too injured.

The creepy ceiling girl then rose from the water and delivered the children to us. We go them back to the Braxilians and then finished exploring the caverns. The path we were following eventually lead us to the top of a waterfall. We could find no safe egress here for the people to escape the now hostile city.

We went back to the stairs we saw earlier and upon reaching the top we found large room with a huge anvil in the middle. Strange carvings and inscriptions named what I can only guess to be the gods of the dwarves. This seemed to me like an obvious dead end, so we went back to the survivor’s hideout and rested from our battles.

When we were fully rested Demetrius convinced everyone but Albastra and me to go examine the anvil room again. Albastra and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while we waited for them to return from their fruitless search. To my surprise one of the guards came back a while later telling us that Orog needed help. My mind brought up images of Orog standing waist deep in bloody limbs and I wondered how he could have found something to fight when we had already cleared the caverns only the previous day.

Albastra and I went to our allies’ aid and even more surprises awaited us. Beneath the anvil was a hidden stairway leading downwards into darkness. With Shamesh leading the way we descended the staircase and found ourselves in front of some large doors. A button allowed us to easily open the doors but for a simple bar holding them in place. Behind the huge doors lay a mausoleum; Rows of sarcophagi lined each side of the long room and we could not see the far end. Standing in the middle of the hall of the dead our light did not reach either wall to our sides.

To my utter dismay Demetrius immediately set about trying to open one of the coffins. Flashes of our past few days spent fighting unholy monstrosities entered my mind and I told him to stop. Either the stone lid was too heavy for him to budge or he listened to me for once for he did stop and we continued down the hall toward the end. Reaching it only brought us to more artwork depicting what we assume are periods of dwarven history or scenes from dwarven legend.

Heading back to the entrance we decided to follow along one of the walls this time. Before long we came across a battle standard or something similar. A shield with weapons arrayed on and around it. Demetrius, Shamesh and Orog helped themselves to these and I prayed to Avandra that we were not disturbing or offending the rest of those interred in that communal tomb.

Walking further along the wall brought us to an array of buttons. Pushing these buttons lit them up and when they were all depressed we heard the sound of a door opening and it sounded as if it came from the anvil from whence we came. We returned to that room to find that one of the walls had opened up and behind it was a magical being encased in layers of power.

We could not be sure if it was being shielded or imprisoned and only esoteric knowledge revealed that it was a deva, those rare avatars of divine beings eternally reborn to serve in the battle against evil. We could not find a way to release the deva so Shamesh went back to the Braxilians to see if they knew of the deva or of a way to free it.

A long while later Shamesh returned with a crotchety old man. Apart from disparaging my friends and insulting all non-human races, the old man proved to be useless and he offered us nothing of value. With no idea of how to proceed, we once again sealed away the deva behind the room’s wall, closed the doors to the mausoleum, and went back to the hideout. I despaired over this colossal waste of time; all we found were a room full of the dead, some old weapons and armor and a deva we could not even communicate with.

We finally set about one of the other tasks asked of us when we first found the survivors of the city holed up in their mountain caves. We were going to clear the city of patrols, especially any of them around the four pillars of the city’s magical defensive network. To do this safely we were required to once again wear the Marks of Erathis that prevented violence towards a citizen or another bearer of the Mark.

We were accompanied by Markus a little way as he and his men set about resetting some of the traps they’d used to thwart pursuit and discovery. We made our way back down the mountain path to the cathedral. Opening the cathedral doors revealed a small group of enemies waiting for us. What seemed like an easy skirmish soon became a desperate struggle however as one of our enemies called forth a massive throng of zombies outside the cathedral doors.

Shamesh was quickly caught up in the milling throng of undead flesh and it was hard to get a clear attack on any one of the creatures. The summoner of the mass of zombies stayed near the doors while his other three companions stayed back and cast magic or shot arrows at us. They had all the advantages and the only thing we had on our side was experience and teamwork. That was enough.

We ripped apart those abominations within moments. Orog’s axe carved a huge swath through the milling mass of bodies, Shamesh’s sword sparked in the sunlight as he smote the unholy monsters, Albastra and Demetrius cast arcane death through the cathedral doors. Callie and did what we could but our support was almost unnecessary. The zombie summoner fell quickly to our advance and we fanned out into the courtyard to take on the last three of our attackers.

As Demetrius left the cathedral to join in our fight in the courtyard the unthinkable happened. From the sky came a dragonkin and it swooped upon Demetrius, carrying him off in its claws. We could do nothing for him as he was carried into the air even as our enemies continued their attacks on us from afar.

The cowards facing us retreated as we came toward them and it seemed that we would have to run after them while Demetrius flew further and further away. But little did we know the tiefling for he struggled with the rage drake that had captured him and managed to wriggle out of its grasp. Demetrius fell on top of a gazebo and I fear he may have been greatly injured in his fall. I needn’t have worried however because he leaped to his feet and immediately started hurling arcane forces at his attacker.

Orog managed to come even with the goblins who had been firing arrows at us and engaged one of them. Or tried to. Those little creatures are agile to say the least and slipped out from beneath his axe. While we tried to keep up with those bastards Demetrius continued with his struggle against the rage drake. Despite his magical attacks the beast managed to pick him up again and was carrying him away.

I finished off the last of the ground enemies with a huge searing column of light from the heavens. What can I say, Avandra loves me and she answered my call for aid. Around this time Demetrius managed to break free from the grasp of the rage drake again. I only noticed this because he fell onto the roof of a building many yards in front of me. As I ran toward the building he had fallen upon he cast his defiance and his magic into the sky. The rage drake ignored both as he once again plucked Demetrius up and carried him off.

We are starting to move now. I will end this letter here even though I have much more to catch you up on.

May peace find you well. May that witch find a patch of itch oak.

Malvedin Brogan
Dedicate of Avandra
Wielder of Holy Flames
Destroyer of Unholy Beings
So Very Tired, Very Very Tired

P.S. If I happen to fall during this journey I hope you find whatever killed me and introduce it to her. I’m not sure which one would survive the encounter but either way the world would be better off.

Albastra's journal, entry #1.

This will be my first journal entry. I have walked in this world and the fey world for 300 hundred years and the things I have seen have yet to be recorded, until now.

I am deeply disturbed. Ever since Callie and Dahlia have been kidnapped and drugged (while I was meditating in the same room as they) I have not been able to rest well. What force could have put me to sleep after not sleeping one second of my 300 year life? What could be so powerful as to make me turn a blind eye to my companion’s misfortune? I feel as though my patience has run thin and I cannot accept any mistakes of those around me, for I cannot accept my own mistake. Until I come to terms with this I will not be able to feel as my old self again. The last time I remember being at peace was in the embrace of the Duke. Perhaps it is my vampire heritage that makes me drawn to vampires in such a way. I remember my mother telling me how my father was turned before I was conceived and there is this kind of familiarity and comfort I feel around those creatures of the night. I believe the Duke felt my heritage and that is why he gave me special attention. My constant craving of blood was satisfied by his pure, old, memorizing blood. Although I do not require blood for sustenance it is ever so sweet to have it offered to me, especially by one so powerful. It has been over 50 years since the last time I tasted blood and it will probably be that long until I have the good fortune to do it again. My companions have yet to find out about that part of my life and probably never will because it is not vital to our common mission. I suppose I keep most of my motives and thoughts to myself as I do not know how much I can trust them as of yet. How much could I trust someone that I’ve known for such a short part of my life?

Although I was supportive of this trip to Braxilius and I believe that helping these people is the right thing to do, I question if it was the best idea, other people might need and/or want our help more. A few of them seem to hate non-humans and possibly don’t even want our help because we are not all human, none except for one of us: Malvedin. (The human is now thinking he leads us because we have him speak for us. As if we did that for a reason other than the ignorance of the people of Braxilius toward our non-human kind. I’ve even heard him refer to our campaign as Malvedin’s Misfits the other day. It is amazing how proud these creatures can be, however, living among humans, it does not surprise much.)

The disappearance of wizards and magical creatures worries me still. I cannot imagine what could have such powerful creatures fleeing and dying. Who could get so close to one of us to slay us in our sleep as I have seen it happen in Kharon’s Crossing? When the soldier human (the one which rides with that thieving human, Wolf something, whose daughter we recovered from the Duke) yelled something about “witch” I lost my temper. The visions I have been having during meditation (even before finding the missing wizards) made my anger and fear surface. I feel a disturbance in the force that fuels us all, something doesn’t feel right, something feels wrong, unbalanced. I wanted… no I needed to know what he knew although I realize now it was probably nothing, to my shame I let my own fear cloud my judgment. While Dimitrius does not seem affected too much by these events, despite being a creature of magic himself, I find it distracting at times. Perhaps his never-ending greed is making him blind or perhaps he believes he will not be targeted, who knows? I cannot worry my companions with these visions of danger; after all we are in danger most of the time as is the path which we all chose.

Dimitrius was kidnapped by a dragon the other day while we were helping the people of Braxilius get their town back. My first instinct was to think it is another attack on a magic creature, but I cannot be sure. I have failed him and myself in trying to stop the dragon. We will have to follow him and find out what is truly happening. If that is the case (and the one who is killing off magical creatures took Dimitrius) then maybe I can finally face what it is I have feared and maybe I can finally come to terms with it all. It seems to me that whoever is at the root of all this fears us as much as we fear it/him/her because if that was not the case there wouldn’t be this genocide going on. Someone wants those with power to be gone so that they can move in and do something, but what? What is it that they want? Could it be related to the eye of Orcus? I suppose only time will tell.

Malvedin's Letters to a Friend: #2 Rediscovering Braxilius

Greetings from Braxilius my friend! I hope this letter finds you well, or at all. Hopefully I will find you soon after this letter, for that means I’ve survived this harrowing journey. And more importantly, that we succeeded in delivering Braxilius from its current plight. But I get ahead of myself. Let me continue from the last letter shall I?

Camp was up, night was upon us, and we were sleeping. All except for Albastra and those on watch duty. So much has happened since last night that I can’t even remember who had watch when it happened. Our camp was set upon by Orcs. Orcs riding worgs! I know, I never thought I’d see the sight either but there they were, dragging along chains of undead warriors. The worg riders didn’t actually fight us however, they just rode in, dropped off the abominations and then rode off.

I don’t know if they knew who they were dealing with but their paltry handful of undead and the one overseer they left with them were barely even a challenge to us. Dispatching this rabble took a few minutes. Nothing of interest was found but I think Demetrius tucked something away for later use. Doubtless some demonic arcane reagent to increase the powers of his spells. We went back to sleep, those of us who could sleep, and struck camp in the morning. It was time to explore Braxilius.

Searching through the city was a bit unsettling. As I mentioned before, not a sign of life anywhere. We finally found evidence of a struggle when we reached the cathedral that I told you about before. The doors had been barred from inside so we believe the people of Braxilius made their last stand here. Further examination of the cathedral revealed a path up a mountain that we had no idea was there. We decided that the people may have fled up this path and so we started climbing.

It wasn’t long before we found signs of flight, clothes and other articles of life strewn across the mountain path. We also came upon another group of undead, this time accompanied by two non-humans that I couldn’t readily identify. Both were humanoid and I’m sure one was the same type that was with the group of undead from the previous night. I think it’s a hobgoblin, I haven’t asked anyone about it yet, but I’m sure it’s a hobgoblin.

Through masterful tactics, our party lured the enemy into overconfidence. The entire group of undead minions were sent out after us and grouped up as they were, Albastra’s spells found much fuel for her fires. Those unholy creatures were destroyed within the first few moments of battle. The two humanoids, upon seeing their charges destroyed so easily, began running away up the path. This was when Orog decided that they could not be allowed to escape and charged those two with his axe. All by himself.

None of us were expecting his pursuit and so we were slow in catching up. By the time any of us reached him he had been surrounded and was taking hits from both sides. Orog is a powerful fighter but even he can’t fight in two directions at once. The hobgoblin and his small companion had worn Orog down and he was badly injured. The hobgoblin was easily taken care of, but his smaller companion was much tougher than he looked. It was hard to hit him at all and brought me new respect for Callie’s stature.

Once we dispatched that bothersome little runt, we made sure Orog was all right. He seemed a bit groggy, but was doing fairly well for nearly dying. Continuing along the path, we found a room filled with crates and machinery and more enemies. A couple of goblin sharpshooters were flanking a tiefling caster with an imp and some grunts between the door and them; much more troublesome than our earlier encounter.

Demetrius began speaking with the tiefling, entreating him to abandon his current path. At least that’s what I think he was saying. Our warlock was speaking their demonic language. He even spoke to the imp and convinced it to leave the battle. When we had dispatched all save for the tiefling, Demetrius spoke to him again. Nothing Demetrius said had an effect though as the other tiefling continued fighting us, teleporting across the room several times in an attempt to escape.

Regretfully we had to kill the tiefling. We did not mourn but continued in our search for the people of Braxilius. Barring our path was a circular portal. I surmised that the controls on the wall opened the door, so I tried turning the wheel. The door did open, but the sound of rushing water accompanied the opening of the door and I quickly closed it lest we get swept away by a flood. I puzzled about this for a while but Demetrius quickly saw my error. He turned the wheel in the opposite direction that I had and the door opened with no accompanying problems.

The room ahead of us seemed like it had been recently inundated with water. The controls in the previous room seems to open and close a large valve, letting the water pass in one direction or the other. Demetrius searched the channel that the water used to flow in while Orog scouted ahead. Orog was the only one who found anything though for he signaled to us that enemies were around the corner.

As our company charged the enemy a rage drake flew off and left behind two hobgoblins to defend themselves. I was the last one to enter the fray and it was already almost over. I only had time for a few smiteful prayers before the enemy was down. I was the last one around the corner and the battle lasted only a few moments more and that is why I was alone near the entrance to the previous room when from the ground behind me erupted strange creatures with rock-like skin.

I was quickly surrounded and if it weren’t for my friends rushing to my aid I am sure I would have perished right there! Even if I didn’t die I very nearly did trying to get away from those deadly creatures. It seemed that merely standing beside them tore at your very being. It was a hard fought battle and all took injuries save for Albastra and of course Demetrius. I’ll be greatly surprised if Demetrius ever gets more than a scratch, and that due to his carelessness while brushing by a tree or along a wall.

The room in which we were ambushed offered no viable path and so we left to look for other routes. The was another tunnel leading away from the valve room and my companions went to explore it. I took my time following as I was injured. Demetrius hung back as well, it seems he has a sixth sense for danger. Orog and Shamesh led Callie and Albastra toward the large double doors at the end of the tunnel. When they got to about halfway down the tunnel the walls suddenly caved in on them. Orog took heavy damage as they escaped the collapsing tunnel and it seemed that the only path was now blocked.

While we discussed what to do and where to go Demetrius led us back toward the control room. Our discussion continued and while we went back and forth with our ideas Demetrius made our decision for us. He announced that he was turning the wheel to let the water into the control room and proceeded to do so. Like I said before, I have no control over these individuals, I only try to keep us from getting killed. The rest of the party scrambled out the door and down the mountain but I stayed nearby just in case Demetrius needed help, or to be helped.

His gambit paid off though because even as the water started flowing in to the room it was obvious that there wasn’t enough water to provide any danger to us. The others came into the control room and we entered the valve room again. This time we looked to the source of the water and entered the tunnel from which the water was coming from. Hand holds on the side provided for easy locomotion through the water and we found ourselves at a split in the tunnel.

We chose to go towards the weaker flow of water and found a ladder leading up to a hatch in the ceiling. Opening the hatch revealed a storeroom filled with food and other necessities. We quickly availed ourselves of some food and had out first good meal in a while. Orog announced that he heard voices from the door. I decided to go forth and I opened the door with a greeting to whomever was beyond. I found to my chagrin that I had greeted a hallway and there was another door further on. That half-orc has damnable good hearing.

Beyond the second door was a sight to make me smile. The citizens of Braxilius were all gathered in an underground chamber! They were alive and hiding from the enemy that had breached the walls and invaded their city! I quickly made contact with a Cleric of Erathis I had encountered on our previous trips to Braxilius. His name is Brannigan. We exchanged information and I gathered my people in from the storeroom. It wasn’t long before various people came to us beseeching our aid. We got several requests but none of which we could immediately answer.

One woman came to us with a story about her missing children who had been playing in the deeper tunnels of their hideout. Demetrius and I were all set to go immediately but Orog and Shamesh must have been more bone-weary than we realized for they dropped to the floor and all but passed out. Demetrius seemed the most upset about this and I feared he might grab his new found wizard friend and run off into the tunnels without us. I’ll never admit it to them, but I was very weary myself. Keeping up with Orog alone is taking its toll on my body.

Orog and Shamesh are asleep as I write this letter and despite my wish to help the poor distraught mother, I must rest as well.

May peace find you well and may that witch never catch you!

Malvedin Brogan
Dedicate of Avandra
Bringer of Her Light
Bearer of Her Divine Love
Not You Thank The Merciful Goddess

P.S. Has she found you yet? You’d better get assigned somewhere further away before she thinks to look in the monastery.

Malvedin's Letters to a Friend: #1 Returning to Braxilius (again)

Greetings from the road my friend! I’ll begin this letter as I’ve begun all the others. I hope this letter finds you in good health, or at all actually. Messengers aren’t always reliable and in these turbulent times you can depend on them even less. I hope to tell you of these adventures in person soon but you’ll have to do with these periodic updates until we can find the time to reminisce. In fact, I’d like to come back alive if at all possible but I feel that Avandra’s will is not the only force guiding my steps.

I’ve decided to call our band of heroes Malvedin’s Misfits! It seems I am often the spokesperson for us seeing as I am the only human and non-human communities are uncommon in and around Kharon’s Crossing. But saying that you’re the leader and being a leader are two very different things. Often times I can hardly get us all to agree on something let alone lead us anywhere, not to mention the fact that the tiefling and eladrin often seem to have their own motives for doing anything.

Demetrious’ greed is trying at times but I can understand it. The more money he makes the better off Kharon’s Crossing will be, for I don’t doubt he’ll be investing as heavily as he can there. But his methods aren’t always pure and I do not know if I can turn a blind eye forever. I don’t doubt there are things he has done that I do not know of and I hope I never find out. Albastra seems to be going through some internal struggles of her own, which I will go over in detail later. Ever since the abduction of Callie and our poor departed paladin friend Dahlia our first night in Braxilius she has acted almost like a different person. And of course Orog’s intentions are still a complete mystery to me. He seems savage and bloodthirsty and indeed he is. But there are times when there is a surprising amount of civilization from him. It’s almost as if he hides another self behind his barbarian manners.

Callie has always been quiet, but ever since she lost her arm she’s almost a shadow. I still feel guilt for not being there to help her but I feel that she was in good hands at Braxilius. The craftsmen there performed a miracle with that new arm of hers. I hope she can become used to it, it would soothe my mind if she was still the same Callie I knew from before, but I guess we all can change still. Shamesh of course is nothing to worry about. Apart from being of Ghesh’s family, he is a stalwart companion who will stand his ground until he knows everyone is safe. Having him around eases my worries a little and though Kord’s followers are often brash I respect their strength and Shamesh is no exception.

A lot has happened since my last letter so settle in. It’ll be exciting, I promise. After our dealings with Night Wolf and the Count, I am still of two minds about that one, we rested in Kharon’s Crossing and we each went our separate ways. I informed the local head cleric of what was happening and advised him on what to expect and offered some prudent courses of action. I believe he is even now carrying out some of what we discussed and I hope he is in time to help avert more disasters.

Shamesh and I visited Ghesh; we ate and drank and talked of our latest adventure since he left our company. He seemed glad that we could resolve the issue with the Count but he was also concerned about Night Wolf and how he would handle his daughter. It is not an easy thing to learn that your child will live a damned existence and be widely considered a monster for it. Hopefully time will reveal that all will be well, may Avandra see it so.

All was going well until Ghesh received a message. It seemed that Orog had seen fit to get arrested while in Kharon’s Crossing. Before I could stop myself visions of blood splattered guard houses filled my mind and I saw Orog’s axe bathed in the blood of our townspeople. I still don’t know the details of what happened but I was sure that my companions would not allow Orog to go on a rampage. Still, I was worried about whether or not Ghesh could get him released.

I needn’t have worried because the guards were all too eager to release him to our custody, as long as we were leaving Kharon’s Crossing anyway. My companions had not been as idle as I though and they brought dire news. Kharon’s Crossing’s closest neighbor had been struck by a plague. Everyone in the city was dead. It was decided that we should head there to find out the truth of this story. Memories of fog and the soulless cries of the undead still filled our minds and we did not wish ill of the people of Braxilius. Well, not all of them in any case.

And so we set out to discover the fate of Braxilius. We were dismayed to discover upon reaching the city that not a sign of life remained. The streets were empty and no sign of life, or even death, were to be found. Night was fast approaching and Demetrious did not want to risk plague or worse in the city, so we camped outside her walls. We found a defensible spot where the city wall met a cliff face and are now settled in. I am about to settle in for some sleep before my turn at watch, so I’ll continue this tomorrow when we are stopped for rest.

As always may peace find you well and watch out for that witch!

Malvedin Brogan
Dedicate of Avandra
Servant to Her Wishes
Bringer of Her Light to the Masses
Better Than You in Every Way Possible

P.S. Have you chosen your path of servitude yet? You should think about what I said. It suits you well and you know I’m right! I know it’s hard to get letters to me but try!

Ghesh's Journal 9. The Cave of Wonders?

Day 31 Continued:

After a rest break we decided to head into the cave to see what secrets might be deciphered.

Pain is a good place to start. The floors and the walls were falling apart. We found out by falling through a floor and having a few walls try to cave in on us.

In the cave we found a room that had been turned into an oven for the gnolls that were captured, not killed.

In a room below the sounds of madness floated down the hallway and the leader of the enraged gnolls identified herself.

The shaman brought forth spirits and statues come to life to overpower us but our fighting spirit could not be overcome. The statues that were brought to life were also represented on vases in the room. Other treasure was lacking but for shiney objects.


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