Ghost of Kalidria

Asher's Entry - Facing Death Incarnate
Session 27 - Original date 12/8/14

I slowly drew my breath in and out. In. And out. In. And out. Breath. Concentrate. Focus on what is in front of you. Forget what happened earlier today. Forget the Krixian named Deigo you met at the Dragonroof Inn. Move on from the argument Adrian almost started with the Krixian priestess. Ignore the hundreds of Krixians screaming and cheering around you as you stand in the center of the arena. Cease to think about the Arena’s Champion, the bearer of a Mantle of one of the Wyrms.

Kerald, the Sentinel of Destruction, stood before me. Menacing. Hungry. Sadistic. Bloodthirsty. There were not enough words to describe the aura this bastard of chaos emitted. If not for my overbearing need to protect Adrian and Verik behind me, I would have gone mad in fear. I had met this beast before from the Oracles’ Tests. I had made the audacious agreement in a duel to the death. But I didn’t foresee myself facing him again so soon. I knew for a fact that fighting him now would be the equivalent of an ant facing a boot. I had to stall. Verik was healing Adrian, who for some reason had his shirt torn off, and Able and Aslan were talking to the Arena Champion to not honor his fight with Kerald.

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Kerald stepped forward towards me, clashing his two great axes together, sparks flying across. His teeth gleamed devilishly. Stall, dammit. Stall him enough to keep him from killing everyone and everything.

“This is neither the time, nor the place, and you know it.” Please. Talk. Don’t throw an axe or something.
His grin widened. “You stepped into the arena.”
“I did, but it was to save his life. Not to fight you, yet.”
“No single combat?”
“Not yet.” I positioned my glaive the same way I did when I accepted the duel in the Oracles’ Temple. I had hoped he would do the same to honor our agreement and that he would like a fight on even ground with someone he would call his equal, which I was not, and he knew it.
“Your faith in Halis too weak?”

Oh, boy.

“The need to save my friends come before that.”
“Imagine how many lives you can save if you end mine.”
“I already know that I can’t now. However-”
“So you lack FAITH?!” he bellows. His grin widened into a full blown wicked smile.
“I lack STRENGTH! There is a difference!” I got more and more heated. Damn this bloodthirsty bastard. He’s actually getting to me.

Stop. Breath, dammit. Stay calm.

“…you will always lack strength. But I tell you what. I’ll give you an opportune moment. I’ll fight you with one axe in my off-hand.”

I almost took it, but stopped myself immediately. (“Calm down. It’s exactly what he wants you to do.”) I was so concentrated on Kerald that I hardly noticed Vyertinn and his eagle, Orion, taking Adrian away from the arena. Thank Halis…. But what now?

“The one life has been defended. Are you going to defend everyone that stands between me and my prize? Are you going to allow me to fight this champion? Are you going to allow me to take his life, or is it only your friends’ lives that you care about?”

And I’ll be damned, I couldn’t answer immediately. If I were to stand in Kerald’s way any longer, he would cleave me without a passing thought. But at the same time, I would betray everything I’ve stood for up until now if I just sidestepped and let him have this fight, knowing full well that he would obliterate everyone, including the Champion, simply to save myself and my friends. If the Champion is slain and Kerald gets the Mantle, only the Gods know what chaos would be brought. Yes, this is what I fight for. I fight for the people who cannot defend themselves. I fight those who would slay innocents for sport, pleasure and power. I fight for Kalidria.

And yet, in my deep thought, I didn’t notice the mist that Verik cast in the arena. I shifted ever so slightly in my surprise, which was all Kerald needed. I felt a white hot pain and looked down to see a Dwarven great axe in my chest, blood slowly sliding down the blade. That bastard actually threw an axe this heavy. I pulled it out and threw it on the ground, but doing so knocked the wind out of me and I dropped to my knee. I heard a quick “HYAH” from the mist, which meant that either he was throwing another axe or he was jumping towards me. The only thing I could do was roll out of the way because I knew that if I tried to block it, his strength would break my glaive. But I couldn’t move. No matter how much I screamed thoughts to my body, it didn’t listen. I stood on one knee as Kerald came from the mist in the air, holding one of his axes in two hands, arcing it’s way directly for my head.

It’s funny how people say your life flashes before your eyes right before your death. They say that because it’s true. I remembered everything up until now; training with my father and Durin as a child, seeing my mother die by the hands of a goblin when I was 12, defending my home again when I was 21, the goblin caves, the stint in Chunda, almost freezing to death going to Fridg, sleeping in a Varfarrion family tomb, destroying the spirit living in Able, traveling to Keros, the training by Vayne at the Temple of Halis, the port city of Xephos, the Trials of the Oracles, fighting beside my father to defend Malatin once more. Everything I had been through led up to this final moment of my life. I had saved as many lives as I could and maybe saving my friend would be worth it in the end. Kerald’s axe, as if in slow motion, was coming down to me, and all I could do was close my eyes and accept my fate.

I have done all I could. Good luck, guys.

But then I heard a clash of metal, which is strange because usually a greataxe to the head doesn’t make that sound. I looked up to see a short and stout woman before me with her glaive underneath the axe. The mist cleared for me to see Halis, the Goddess of Life, just saved my life. “You shall take no lives this day. Verick, get him out of here. Now!”
“Yes ma’am!” I heard Verik call. I felt him grab me by the shoulders to lift me up. Halis spoke to the crowd as Verik and I stumbled out the arena. “I would advise everyone who is here to be out of this arena. I am defending all life here this day.”

I couldn’t tell what happened afterwards because Verik and I were running out of the arena, but I heard ominous sounds and saw purple lights come from the arena. There was no time to go back. I put faith that my friends would make it out and Verik and I left for the Dragonroof Inn. Suddenly, there was an outburst of people screaming and yelling and gathering up weaponry. Seems like we’re not going to be welcomed back to Krix any time soon. Rushing through the streets, we met up with the others, also running back to the inn. As we closed in on the tavern, we saw Seros waving and yelling, “Hurry! We’re leaving in 10 seconds!” All of us dived into the inn, barely a second to spare. Seros slams the door, waits a second, and opened it again to see frozen wilderness. “Things just got a little colder.” And he slams the door again.

We were back in Kredo.

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Asher's Entry - A Wise Old Fool
Session 26 - Original date 12/1/14

As the group and I trotted back to the cart, I thought of the two wildling shapeshifters we had fought off earlier. Guilt, as well as relief, surfaced in my mind. I aided in hurting the poor woman physically, as well as her mate emotionally. But I know I saw Scald’s influence just before I had the chance to give the final blow, and decided not to end her life, but to save it. It was hard. One of the hardest decisions I had to make at such a last second. I hope that they continue to live without situations like these.

After we traveled a little farther up the road, we set up camp and rested, waiting until morning to travel again.

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It was a fairly peaceful ride the rest of the way. I could see small houses and large plots of land for farming, and the people inhabiting them had those infamous blue blisters. Even with the blisters, they seemed to have high spirits. It was refreshing to see people with such carefree outlook on life, especially with the times growing darker. Javad, the old man, stopped at an acquaintance of his, and traded some of his barley for some dried pork. He seemed very insistant on sharing some with us, as if he was paying off a large debt. I almost declined out of habit so that I wouldn’t use up any of Javad’s food, but I decided it was best that thankfully accepting someone’s gratitude was good once in a while.

Along the way, Able and Verick decided it was a good idea to pour one of the blue elixers (the Tears of Sylander I think they were called at some point), into a river that traveled through multiple towns in the south to relieve some of the people of the blue blisters. Vyertinn granted permission to use his great eagle, Orion, and they flew off. Adrian, on the other hand, decided it was best to use the time we had to train Tryndamere, his drake nephew, in hunting. I decided to simply stay and watch the cart, as did Vyertinn. Not an hour or so later, Able and Verick returned, conversing on the sights that they saw and the good deed they had done. Soon after, Adrian and Tryndamere came back with a large haul; a bear and an elk. He told us he was following tracks that just happened to be the same male shapeshifter we had encountered last night. The shapeshifter was gathering materials (which happened to be the entrails from the bear Adrian was carrying) for healing the female. It seemed like she was going to be alright, which swept the guilt from my mind of the matter. “Thank Halis…” I muttered to myself.

The hours of the day seemed to pass by slowly, but finally the moment for us to depart arrived. In the distance, there stood a familiar building. It was tall, had stables and a garden outside, and had a dragon made out of red tile on the roof. Almost in unison, Able, Verick and I shouted in excitement over the Dragonroof Inn’s appearance, startling Javad and his wife. My mouth flooded with drool, remembering the taste of the succulent sandwich I had the previous visit. Urges to hop off the cart and sprint to the tavern crossed my mind once or twice but I quelled such thoughts. Patience, afterall, is a virtue.

Outside of the tavern, the old couple shook our hands as they bid us farewell.

“You…” as Javad shakes Verik’s hand, “remind me so much of Lynsyd. She defended us from everything. She is the reason why most of us are still alive. She kept Calisto from dominating the land. She still protects us, even after her fall.” He looks at us all. “I pray that you all don’t fall like she did.”

Gods, I’ll make sure that we don’t.

The rest of us shook hands with Javad (I managed to slip in a few more gold into his hands with my own handshake. He was almost speechless), bid farewell and walked into the tavern.

A most familiar feeling came unto me. The warm and homely feeling. The smell of good food and good drink. The whispers, conversations and cheers. The diversity of people. All of it washed over me like I was home in Malatin. But something was different. It was busier, the conversations had changed, and there were more people from different territories than before. Although it was only small, the overall aura of the tavern was more serious. It wasn’t something to fret over, however. Able, Verik and I were still elated to be back, and to show Adrian and Vyertinn why we had such stupid grins on our faces.

We walked up to the bar to see the bartender, Korg. Adrian, Verik and I ordered the ale and the Korg Sandwichd, while Adrian asked for Draconic Fire Ale and Vyertinn ordered some Elven wine from Fedoria. I immediately started to demolish the sandwich in front of me. It was heaven in my stomach. With my face stuffed with the sandwich I heard a familiar voice coming from behind us.
“I didn’t think I’d be seeing you boys again.” I turned to see the old man from the last time I was here holding a glass, taking frequent sips from it. He was the one who had told us about the murder in Val.

“The name’s Owen by the way.”

Formalities were made, and Owen continued.

“You’re Vyertinn Varfarrion, aren’t you?”
“My reputation precedes me,” Vyertinn responded. “I probably should leave.”
“No no.” Owen turns to us. “You’re all defenders of Malatin after all. And if memory serves, the attempted defenders of Olan Durf of Chunda.”
“A slightly less wanted title in my opinion.” Said Adrian.

Owen chuckled and focused on Adrian, Verik and me. “So did you all find out what happened with the murder with the bald boy I told you about?”

All three of us hesitating in responding. After a couple seconds of uncomfortable silence, I spoke. “Unfortunately…we could not. Mainly because of me…I don’t do well with the cold.” Maybe some humor would ease the disappointment I was expecting out of him.
“And yet you’re in Krato?” said Owen, in his obvious “Are you fuckin’ stupid?” tone of voice.
“I do what I must, and sometimes I have to do crazy things,” I said. Vyertinn and Adrian were obviously lost with what Owen was talking about so Owen gave them a recap of the murder in Val near Fridg.
“So it appears you all ended up west instead of north?” said Owen.
“How do you…know that?” I said.
Out of nowhere, Vyertinn spoke. “Because he’s a wizard?”
Owen chuckled. “So what made you go west?”
“Well we got lost in the blizzard,” I said.
“And I found this,” as Able points to the Mantle of the Mind Wyrm.
Owen seemed unfazed by it. “Well you all survived mostly intact and seem more healthy than when I saw you before.”
“And all it took was dying,” said Able, sarcasticly.
Owen grinned. Then the lines on his face deepened into a more serious complexion. “You all are here because of me. I am Seros.”

Well I didn’t expect for him to just say it out loud like that. I thought he’d make us guess. But that’s fine by me. Whatever makes things progress quickly.

“Since you seem to know everything already,” Adrian said, “why don’t we let you begin.”
“I don’t know everything,” said Seros, “I know what I was involved in. I gave you a test to see how well you could decifer enemies between friends. Investigating a murder of a potential Keeper.”
“I take it we failed,” I said.
“Well you headed west because of a blizzard conjured by the spirit inside him,” he points to Able, “that a priest and a paladin did not recognize and that a priest and a paladin did not get rid of. That was a test to see just how well you all could understand your enemies. But since then you have learned many lessons on discerning friend from foe. Luckily you have returned with one friend that showed many signs he needed to be turned upon. It is fortuitous. So for that, I say you’ve passed my test.”
“Thank you for being generous,” said Able.
“And for your understanding,” said Verick.
“…I still don’t feel good about it,” I mumbled.

Seros took a sip from his glass. “Tell me what you know of me so I know where to start.”
Vyertinn chimmed in. “You were one of the founders of the Wizard’s Councel in Xephos and you aided the Heros.”
“Well we all know how that worked out. They stalled things. Bought us time. Time to try to get people to act on 300 years ago. They called me a crazy old man,” said Seros.
“People tend to not look at things directly in front of their faces especially if they can convince themselves that everything is fine,” said Adrian.
“Exactly,” Seros nodded. “Please, continue. I’ve been listening to people and their rumors of what they think about me. I want to here yours.”
“From what I can tell, you’ve been on a bender for the past 300 years,” said Vyertinn. Good going. Way to insult the one man we need to help us.
Seros showed his glass to Vyertinn. “It’s water.”
“I stand corrected,” said Vyertinn.

“You have to endure this old fool, to get your help,” said a stern Seros. He turns to Adrian. “You know clearly what your blood is responsible for. And it is YOUR blood, that will fix it.”
“So you heard about that?” said Vyertinn, almost eager to possibly hear praise from Seros. He was talking about a ritual he was developing to use Adrian’s blood against Calisto.
Seros snapped his eyes to Vyertinn and with as much grace as a hammer to the head, said, “You’re a fool.” Well damn. Seems like Seros isn’t one to sugar coat things. “You’re ritual will not work because you do not have 150 years to devote yourself to the arcane arts to fabricate it properlly.”
He continued towards the rest of us. “What I will tell you is you have the ingredients to solve this puzzle, as did your ancestors. However, you all are taking a lot more action than they did.” He snaps back to Vyertinn. “Your father was supposed to fix that sword you carry. Your father was suppose to stand up and fight against those damn slavers in Fedoria, but instead chose to grab as many people as he could and leave.”

He looks at Able. “You’re as curious as Kanto the Wise. Kanto the Wise is the Bringer of the Calm.”

“I know this,” said Able. “I also know that Kanto is still alive.”
“Until his spell breaks, yes,” said Seros. “And, uh, I hate to be the one to tell you, but you’re the ones who will have to break the spell, to kill Kanto, because you must.”

The conversation shifted to certain falacies about our enemies that we’ve been told. For one, that Calisto is not a god. He has divine power, which he stole, but he is still not a god. Harrow, the Sentinel of Torture, was a puppet of Vexnill, the Gold Cloak of the Wizards Counsel, before he was a puppet of Calisto. Vexnill was actually the personal instructor of Calisto, and he destroyed the two lost wizardry schools.

He turns to Verik. “You know what you’ve done wrong. You’re mistake was taking on the challange too eager and too inexperienced. As far as your bloodline, you are a decendent of the Butcher, who is the decendent of the current crown of Fedoria, who is responsible for the near extinction the Gnomes. However, your human side, your mother comes from a great line. She was a priestess of Halis. Going back all the way to Keldstein, she was the shieldbearer who defended the city as the walls were torn down. She was the one who stood to defend the statue of Halis and the statue did not fall until she was dead. Halis would not have blessed you with a holy glaive if she did not believe that you couldn’t do great things.”

“So now,” Seros nodded, “Asher. You know what fortitude your father has.”

Memories of my father fighting to defend Malatin played crystal clear within my mind. I grinned when I remembered the hoard of goblins we fought off together, back to back, weaving our blades in perfect unison through the scourge. We were chaos incarnate when we defended our friends, family and home. I was proud to be his son. If only my mother was still alive to see it…

Seros continued. “Your entire bloodline has been like that. You have Halis’ blood in your vains.”

…..I’m sorry, what?

“You are a direct decendent of Halis. She had a son before she became a godess that noone knows about.”
I sat there, dumbfounded. It took me a couple of seconds to finally process it. “They didn’t tell me this,” I said.
Seros responded, “It’s my story to tell, because I delivered that child. So yes, I’ve seen your godess’ vagina.”
Everybody, even I (sorry, Halis) bursted out in laughter. Able chimed in, “So what has Asher, son of Halis the Pure done wrong? That seems to be the theme of the conversation.” I sobered up from the laughter. What exactly HAD I done wrong? I don’t want to know, but I must in order to learn from my mistakes.
“I am discussing the faults of the bloodlines as well as the purity of them. How you all have pieces of the puzzle, so to speak. And each of you have sins in your bloodlines. Out of all the bloodlines, your bloodline, Asher, is the one that has failed the least. Because they gave everything they had, but died in vain. Failure is the sin of your bloodline, and it is the one you must overcome.”
“And that I shall,” I said.
“Good. Able, I will only speak of the greatest sin, since your family tree has many branches. One of your mother’s ancestors is a Keeper who trained Scald. Now out of your whole family tree, I am extremely fond of Kanto, I am very fond of your father, and I am very fond of myself. Kanto is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson.”

Gods damn, these fuckin’ bombshells. This is almost more that what I can handle.

“Now that I’ve berated all of you…” Seros said, drifting slightly towards the end.
“…Ah, I see,” Adrian chimed in, “You don’t feel the need to say my family sins because we’re all acutely aware of what they are.” Refering to his being the grandson to the one and only Calisto.
Seros nodded. “Now, you’re all here seeking my help, and I am willing to give my help, but probably not in the way you’re expecting. Tell me what things you need to accomplish. I will make a list. I will go around the table and you all will tell me something. Let’s start with you, Verick.”
“First of all, I need to take a pilgrimage to purge the land from these blue blisters.”
“Good. Able?”
“Save my mother. Kill Scald.”
“Adrian?”
“I need to find out why I was concieved.”
“I have the answer to that.” He then turns to me. “Asher?”
I took longer to answer than the others. After all, I wasn’t given anything by Halis as far as quests go except for the obvious “Kill Calisto, Save the World” sort of thing. In fact, the most personal tasks to me were saving my home three times from goblin invasions. Of course, I don’t mean to say that all the good I’ve done so far is worthless compared to saving my home. It’s actually because I saw what could happen to my home, that I stayed with the group. I wanted to do my part in keeping other villages, towns and cities safe. Safe from the terrors of Calisto and his growing army. I saw my mother murdered right before my eyes, and I’ll be damned if I let another child see the same from their mother or father. And the only way to do so is to stay with these merry band of misfits I call my friends.
“…As…cliche as this sounds, I need to save the world.”
Seros chuckled. “Spoken like a true paladin of Halis.” Another stupid grin appeared on my face.
“Vyertinn, it’s your turn.”
“I need to have this sword reforged.”

“Let’s see,” Seros pondered. “You have a sword to reforge and you have a pilgrimage to make, and I will tell you that this pilgrimage needs to happen before the sword. As for why you were conceived, Adrian, Calisto’s son believed that he would one day need a vessel stronger than the one he currently has. He has been practicing necromancy under Harrow. Now, perhaps a God has given someone here,” nodding towards Able, “the ability to seal your soul within your body so it could not be removed or taken over by someone else. Now there’s a reason why your blood is so sought out, Adrian. Your blood can be used to transfer Calisto from his stuck state into another vessel. That’s the two reasons why you were conceived.”

The conversation continued. An hour and a half later, it ended with Seros snatching hair from Able’s head, tearing the lock of hair in half, throwing it on the ground and saying “Mother is home. But your father is walking into the Temple in Xephos. He seems quite irritated. Would you like to speak to him?”
“Uh, yeah.” Able said, matter-of-factly.
“Go upstairs and look in the tub before you jump in.”
Able hopped off the chair and hurried his way upstairs. While that was happening, Seros told us that the tavern was to leave in the morning for Krix. Then suddenly, Adrian stood up from his chair and bolted upstairs to Able. Wondering what the problem could be, I ran after him. I heard Adrian bellow “STOP!” I turned the corner in time to see Able chuck the spear he had made of Rabid Hate’s bones and sword into the tub. As it fell into the water, the spear turned into the goblin and I saw nothing else. All I could hear was the familiar gnarls of Rabid Hate, an explosion, and then nothing.

I haven’t a clue what happened, but I hope that Able’s father is safe. We went back to the bar.

It was a couple more minutes before the last odd event of the night happened. Although I wasn’t around to listen to the conversation, I had notice Able giving a ring to Seros, to which Seros walked outside to do something with it. Next thing I knew, the entire building tilted slightly, only to be slightly set back into place. Seros walked back in with his beard singed and clothes burned. It must’ve been a doozy because he drank a full cup of ale and said out loud “I’m going to bed.” He then walks upstairs to one of the rooms. Vyertinn followed to keep him safe.
The bartender had a peculiar look on his face. “I haven’t seen him drink in 200 years.”

I looked at my own pint of ale. After tonight, I might need something stronger than this.

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Vyertinn's Journal: Arrival in Xephos
Session 17

Following my graduation at the Verbum Vis, I arranged to meet the party and Emissary Silverdrake at the Golden Anvil, a favorite tavern of his in Keros for some time now. The remainder of the evening was spent in revelry and song, though we were all too deep in our drinks to recall what happened after. Dwarven ale worked its wonders on both Adrian and Asher, and Able’s youth would only tolerate so much alcohol before submitting to stupor as well. In the morning, Verik and I were the only ones really concious, so we managed to haul our companions inert bodies to the boat to make our way to Xephos.

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-

Our voyage at sea is steady and in fair weather, but shortly after embarking Adrian revealed to us that he had discovered the identity of his father; none other than the current King of Dvalten. The man is the firstborn son of Calisto, and now commands the surviving Sentinels in his name. From what I know of him, he is a despicable wretch who woke a dragon from her sleep so she could experience her rape as morbidly as possible. I shudder to think on this, but I could scarce imagine what Adrian must be going through. My relationship with my father is diffi- … was difficult, but at least there was love that built our bond, and I came from a union of honor and faith.

I now realize that as the days pass reflecting on Adrian’s parentage and the aid from Able’s family, I am forced to admit to myself that my own father in all likelihood is now dead. I try not to dwell on the notion but it will not go away, pressing down on my heart like a lodestone. I know at least that in his last journey he was successful, but I cannot help but think to myself if only there had been some other way. If only there was more time to find a cure for his condition, or at least a way to buy that time until a true solution could be found. I would rather he put himself in a trance, or sleep for an age as the dragons do, all but dead to the world, if only he might still live…

-

In order to pass the time on our vessel productively I have taken to studying the various relics Father has entrusted to our care;

Bequeathed to Able was Kanto’s robe and ring, empowering his spellcraft and blurring his form to aggressors to ensure safety. Able has displayed a talent for binding spirits, which could in all probability be tied to the ring. Though I must confess, the notion of placing a soul under duress troubles me. To rob freedom from a being, and be in control of its fate is not a power we were meant to have.

Adrian’s armor will prove resilient to any missile shot towards him.

Verik has been given a symbol of Sylvania the Pure, which can turn away undead with great force, and her Belt of Healing that would enable him to say

Asher was entrusted with a blessed helm, that can see the diseased and possessed. In addition, he now bears gloves that enhance his prowess in smiting his foes.

I elected to browse over Sero’s Grimoire, searching for some clue of his current activity. I have also learned that the armor I now bear from Etherios will likely improve my ability to move in silence. Caution is the better part of valor after all…

-

We have arrived in Xephos at last. As our ship pulled to harbor we could hear traders afloat on junks calling their wares. There were islands strewn before us lashed together with roped bridges and shacks. I imagine that while Xephos is the greatest trade hub in Kalidria, the environment and weather make permanent structures next to impossible to maintain. What I saw instead were brightly painted boats and huts on the shore bearing ornaments of every possible description. I could look on those waters for a week and still not be able to summarize their contents.

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When we docked, we were greeted by an interesting gentleman who seemed acquainted with us. Indeed, he addressed us each by name. I was speaking to Vero Kas, the “King” of Xephos. As the ruler of his nation, he works to be informed of all the comings and goings in his realm. We were expected. Though honestly I suspect “king” is a poor word to describe his role in the island nation. As he gave our company a brief tour of the heart of the city, we were shown many fascinating sights. Of particularly interesting note was the revelation that theft was not frowned upon in Xephos, only being caught in the act. Evidently Vero Kas is a retired plunderer and buccaneer himself, and believes that it is one’s job to defend their own property. For all of his eccentricities, I confess the man is a charming fellow; affable and generous to others.

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Vero took us to a tent he had put up in the center of the commons, where he had a feast prepared. We were told that any who wished to eat were free to come and have their fill, nobody went hungry in Xephos unless they wished to. It was during this time that Asher took it upon himself to heal one of the locals who had injured himself working his trade as a fisherman. It was well done, even here Hallis may look after her flock.

After we had finished our exotic meals, Vero Kas bid us follow him, as he had apprehended a man who had broken one of the few laws Xephos actually had; He had refused to pay a whore. We stood there as we watched the man, howling and spitting, was locked in a cage suspended over the open sea. Vero told his followers to leave the man in there for at least a week, if his pet doesn’t get to the fellow first. I was told that there is a well fed kraken that is fenced in around a portion of the island. There are few crimes it would seem, but there are grave punishments.

I find myself utterly perplexed and yet enthralled by these people. They have so much freedom, and yet their morality cuts against the grain of almost every culture I have met! Even so they have a strong sense of justice, and look after their weak and helpless. My instructors in Keros were right, there is no place on Earth like Xephos.

Vero shared a few more words with us and then sent us on a boat towards our goal. The Oracles of Xephos…

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Vyertinn's Journal: The Trials of the Verbum Vis
Session 16

I left the Embassy shortly after the Council had concluded, after all, I was short on time if I was to achieve my goal. I was resolved to earn my Red Cloak at my original school in that it would be the most appropriate way to advance my rank among spellcasters. Because I was so dedicated to fulfilling my test this way, I must not fail for I would not have another chance to try my hand in Keros for a very long time.

I was summoned by a page before the Council of Magic and as I stood there, I surrendered my brown and travel-stained Journeyman Cloak. The Magi that stood before me wore the colors according to their rank, hooded and distant. I was questioned as to who would sponsor my trial, and it was then that Magus Wolfe spoke for me. I was told to gather all that I needed for my trial, and in that moment Orion glided through the window of the Tower and perched upon my shoulder. I turned around and faced what was to come.

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Before us stood a door, sealed shut with no sign of complicated mechanism. I knew that there was more to this test than met the eye and so I opened my senses around me to see the door’s riddle. There were in fact arcane runes that stretched upon the frame, and I knew that they had a spell of sealing, as well as a more treacherous passage of explosive runes that would have detonated were I to inspect further. That was one crisis averted.

I opened the door with a simple spell and proceeded forward. We entered a chamber and the door shut behind me. I was in a circular room with a covered dome of glass, the floor before me was plated copper, up to the next door across the way. That gave me pause, for I knew that copper was a favorite conductor for wizards. Excellent at transmitting energy, which would likely mean that there would be a large foci in the room to emit said energy in a particularly dangerous fashion. I could have attempted to climb the walls but I hadn’t thought to prepare such a spell as that here. I had grown too used to combat in the past few months that it hadn’t occurred to me to invest in more utilitous spells here. I could have perhaps attempted to engorge Orion’s size temporarily and have him carry me across the room, but again I hadn’t prepare the requisite spell. Suddenly the dome emitted bolts of electricity upon the floor and the room began to hum. I narrowly dodged a bolt that streaked out and nearly struck my face.

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It was then that I got an idea; electricity was my forte after all. I had prepared Vanti Cox’s spell to teleport through flames. It would require a energy substitution but the technical application could be a bit tricky. Simple in theory at least! What I needed was to have a direct current running to the next door, and not place me randomly in the room where I would be electrocuted to death. So I emitted a bolt of my own lightning that ran across the floor. Wasting no time, I gathered energy into my thoughts and blended our forms into the spell propelling ourselves through the lightning itself. As I felt myself fade into raw energy I remembered what Master Vanti had said, that while the spell was effective, you were exposed to the element you conducted yourself through. The longer you traversed the element, the more risk you assumed onto your person. Once I felt the energy reach the other side I released Orion and myself from the spell, and we felt all of our nerves sing in agony from being exposed to the lightning. Orion screeched in discomfort as I gasped sympathetically. We both smelt rather burnt, but we had done it! Magic Theory in practice at last! After taking a moment to collect ourselves we proceeded through the door.

Before us stood the spectral forms of several hooded figures. The first beckoned me forward, and questioned me on my knowledge of magic I was aware of, though not capable of performing. The others did so in turn and I answered to the best of my ability. On how to disrupt the lethal spell of a dangerous wizard when I had comrades immobilized nearby, on how to survive falling from the back of an angry dragon into a volcanic pit, and how to traverse a collapsing bridge with unconscious companions with enemies to our backs. I satisfied their dilemmas each in turn and at last they invited me to proceed.

I returned to the Council of Magi and was instructed to present my personal project. I shared a look with Orion as he fluttered to the center of the room, and drew a magic circle around him speaking as I went. I explained the special connection House Varfarrion had always shared with raptors, eagles in particular, and how I had first met Orion as he saved my life from a rabid wolf upon my departure from the school so many years ago. I spoke of how my father’s familiar Thorandir had saved his life during his battle with Lynsyd and how we were reverent to Halifaust and his favored Magnaroc. I told the Mages that my purpose was to empower my familiar with the strength of the ancients and I would not fear for his safety as we traveled on our quest. I told them that Familiars are a source of strength and comfort, not an emotional liability. I gathered myself into the ritual I had developed with the help of my family and unleashed the Aspect of the Magnaroc. In that moment, Orion was changed from a rare golden eagle into something more… He erupted from the circle in a massive form, casting his shadow upon the chamber! We had succeeded, my ritual had doubled his size and forged a double twined bond between us. Now Orion’s strength would grow with my own.

And then Orion spoke to me: “We have done it my friend!”

We faced the council together and they questioned me in turn. On whom I would kill or save had I the power? If I could have the grimoire of any wizard whom’s would I wish? If I could have changed a moment in time, what would it have been? How can you treat a band of marauders how do so in the name of their God? I knew that many of these questions were double edged and tricky, but I resolved to honestly honestly if I could not answer cleverly. I was after all a Varfarrion and I would comport myself with honor.

After being scolded for my risks in the previous trial, and for my answers that were more honest than right. They told me that my quests now led beyond safety and comfort in Edius. They said that my duties were now graver than ever before. As I closed my eyes and knelt in waiting, they offered me a new cloak, deeply hued with red and trimmed to fit my shoulders. I had succeeded after all, my chest swelled with pride as I stood up.

I thanked each of the Magi in turn and exited the chamber. I watched the sun set on Edius for perhaps the last time, as Orion hunted for fish in the surf. I would soon be leaving for Xephos and who knows where else, as I followed my destiny, but I knew that I would not walk my path alone…

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Vyertinn's Journal: The Council of Keros
Session 15

I have dined with the Wolfes and they were rather delightful honestly. Lilith, Able’s mother is an excellent host and cook besides. She has a certain serenity about her that probably helps in tolerating a everworking mage like Saix. They even have a pet wolf of enormous size, though it appears quite domesticated. We were treated to a fine meal and excellent wine, Able was spoiled with a cake for his return, though I understand the wolf had gotten into the first one prepared. Prophecies have their use it would seem, at least in stocking the pantry.

Whilst we managed to avoid discussing unpleasant business during the meal, Magus Wolfe was eager to hear of our plans for countering Calisto’s forces. Able and Hallis’s Chosen were assaulted on the road to Keros as well. From their reports an attack on the city may be imminent. I elected to draw up some defensive measures for the city to augment Keros’s already sturdy though ancient defenses. Were the city to be taken by siege, Vanti’s Conduct through Flames spell may be used to man the walls to great effect. The Magus and I were in agreement on that note. He also will be sitting in on the Council to be held in the morning. It is well that I have so influential of an individual already supporting my position. During the evening’s festivities, Asher handed me a dusty scroll, bearing the seal of Varfarrion. He told me that they had acquired it in a ancient elven tomb, given to them directly by Halifaust. This map must be the key to finding his temple in Feduria!

I must admit, it was strange to see Able like that, and even more so to see a family sincerely happy and peaceful. Memories of my own family feeling so warm and blissful have grown quite old now. Before I left for school, when Edius was still growing green again. For all of that, Lilith reminds me much of my own mother, in their bearing and farsighted visions, and Saix reminds me of Father just as much with his stern dedication to his tasks at hand.

It is hard to watch another family so much like your own, as you can feel yours drift apart forever…

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-

The Council of Keros was slated to convene at 9:00 sharp in the morning. Eager to acquaint myself with the various representatives, I arrived at the Embassy at 8:00 in order to introduce myself to each in turn before the court began. To my surprise, I was greeted by a very old but familiar dwarf; Gault Silverdrake! After some adventures back in Malatin a few years ago, Master Gault and I parted ways as he returned to Durg. It would seem that for his service in Malatin, the dwarven nation had elected to appoint him as their representative abroad. I know how he must be feeling. Upon hearing him call my name we shared a friendly embrace and agreed to meet for drinks after the Council convened. I recall there was a certain tavern in the city that he was particularly fond of.

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It was well that I had found an ally in Gault, for his support in both this Council and in Durg would be critical to our success. Wasting no time, Gault took it upon himself to call the meeting to order. I suppose he still has a bit of an impetuous streak running through him that even a career in diplomacy couldn’t quench.

So I was given the floor to speak my part on the events I have seen since Malatin’s attack. I told of Durin’s kidnapping, and our discovery of Skald’s Tomb. I spoke of the attacks in Chunda, and how Malatin and Chunda now stood together, once bitter rivals, against Calisto’s war machine. I spoke of Vydenn’s dying wish that I serve my people as their Emissary and face our old foes that we may have peace. Upon hearing of Durin’s fierce resistance during Malatin’s attack, Gault thudded the council table with his fist in fierce approval. Upon hearing of his possession by Calisto’s wicked spirits, Gault wrung his beard in grief. I begged Gault to have Durg relight the Giant Forges and set about crafting their tools of war once again. Gault replied that such a task would task much time as the flames they required were slow to kindle.

No sooner had I heard Durg’s plight then Adrian Thraxus strode into the Council Chambers, garbed in his fine wear my father had given him, replying that the fires may be lit faster than expected. Adrian explained that he was to represent the Black Dragons in Edius in accordance with his mother’s wishes. Adrian pledged the support of the Black Dragons against Calisto, and urged that envoys be made with the other dragons if any of their scions could be persuaded to take up the cause. Adrian marked another ally in our cause for a united force of peoples. Were the dragons to take up with our alliance, then perhaps they could breathe life into the Forges of Durg.

Following this moment, we were briefly interrupted again as Magus Saix Wolfe chose to enter the Council at last. Doubtlessly he had been working through the night, researching some topic that Able had alerted him to. It must have been a grave matter indeed for Wolfe told me directly that we should embark for Xephos the following day, and that he had arranged a ship for us.

It was here that we were all interrupted YET AGAIN, this time by a strange looking elf woman, purple eyed and bald, with dark dark skin. Adrian and I remembering the Keepers of Skald that tormented him and Able so were prepared to kill her on the spot until she explained she was the representative of the Darkwood elves, who were known to have lost many of their kind to the shackles of the Keepers but harbored no more love for Calisto than any of us. She called herself Kaylan. The woman continued that the beasts in her forest were growing out of control and threatening every soul living there. Upon confirming that she held no wicked intent, I offered safe haven in the Greatfalls Forest for any who wishes to leave the Darkwood to protect themselves and their families. I messaged my sister back in Feldus shortly after, requesting that checkpoints be set up at our borders to receive any refugees and that perhaps House Varfarrion could provide some of the security there, if Lady Slidiria Frostdancer would consent to lend her talents to screening any immigrants for dangerous intent then perhaps we could have a healthy rapport with our Darkwood neighbors.

Adrian concluded his address by stating that his mother had awakened at last and that the dragons were stirring along with her in Dragon’s Eye Lake. I thanked the council for their time and requested Magus Saix prepare a reception for me when convenient because I wished to apply for my Master Journeymage Redcloak. He replied that I had three hours to prepare. While I believe that the Council went favorably for our cause, I would still have to present myself in the Verbum Vis in what was largely held to be one of the most perilous graduation trials one could undergo…

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Vyertinn's Journal: The Archivist of the Verbum Vis
Session 14 vignette

Adrian and I are eager to reach Keros. After being attacked in the cave, our vigilance has gained a nervous edge, due to Calisto’s forces operating openly. Over the past few days we have reached a sort of anxious routine; of him looking after his weapons and his soon to be nephew incubating in his sturdy egg during watch duty, myself letting Orion hunt providing most of our evening food and inspecting all the various tomes to expand my magic. Between my own grimoire, the mysterious tome from [[Vyertinn’s Journal: A Tomb of Horrors and Madness | Skald’s]] Tomb, and Sable’s Grimoire I have my work cut out for me, not to mention Father’s Scroll. I have hardly any time to maintain my swordsmanship but at least proceeding through the different forms helps to clear my mind after each read.

Fortunately, my father’s Scroll of the Familiar has proven to be the key to completing my theoretical ritual to empower Orion. There are many components to factor into permanently increasing his form, but I believe that tying a link between Orion’s blood and that of the Ancient Rocs will enable him to naturally grow greater and stronger alongside me. In time he may even be able to provide some magical power and implements for my spellwork. The Bond of a Familiar is an incredible thing.

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-

We have finally arrived at Keros. It hasn’t changed a bit since I first traveled here almost a hundred years ago. Though there is perhaps a more noticeable presence of the mages governing the city. Adrian set about securing our steeds as I acquired lodging for ourselves at the Embassy in the Third Great Tower. Wasting no time, I arranged to schedule a meeting of the Council of Keros to deliberate and address Calisto’s growing threat. As the Emissary of Feldus, I am capable of calling such a summit for all of the representatives in Edius. Honestly though, I do not expect this to go easily. Fear of his memory holds tightly to many hearts here as the last school to resist his crushing might and I suspect they will not wish to believe he has truly returned. I was informed that I would be received by the Council the following morning

Critical to this exchange is securing the support of our old dwarven allies in Durg. If there is to be an Alliance to stand against Calisto’s forces, then they must be equipped with the most deadly weapons possible. We need dwarven metal, and such weapons can only be made in the forges of the great Mastersmiths of Durg. Their talent is unmatched, for even my blade is of their making. But as venerable and talented as the masters are, unless they can teach their secrets to a new generation of smiths then their craft will die with them in a decade or so. Had Calisto the patience to wait for the opportune moment, he could have crushed the Free Races as soon as the great forges in Durg were quenched for the last time. Durg’s support is critical to opposing him.

-

An incredible thing has occurred! I returned to the Verbum Vis in order to ascertain the identity of the owner of my mysterious tome, for I knew he studied here at one time. I waited in the Great Library to speak with the Archivist who could help illuminate for me this riddle, when I was approached by Able! He spoke to me of his journey with Asher and Verik but most incredibly he informed me that he is the son of the Archivist I was waiting to meet! I would never in my life suspected that he descended from such illustrious stock. I could not contain my laughter at the notion until black cloaked librarian chided me.

Able took me to meet the Archivist, a serious man of an intense demeanor. He reminds me much of my own father, who strives still so fiercely to protect his people. I wonder if Magus Wolfe is as altruistic as that but he is certainly dedicated to a fault. After exchanging thanks for the comradery of Able and our mutual well being, Wolfe revealed to me that the owner of the tome I carried went by the name of Master Vanti Cox. An… unfortunate name. I was astounded to learn he had actually survived losing his grimoire and in fact held study in the school still! I resolved to return his book to him in short order. Upon making my departure, Magus Wolfe invited myself and our company to dinner with Able and his family at their home in the city. I did not dare refuse.

-

The wizard Vanti is certainly an interesting individual, a rather eccentric mortal of the ripe age of ninety eight years. He is covered head to toe these days in various scars from apparently burns, and for just such reason conducts himself about in a wheelchair to placate his old injuries. I introduced myself to him and explained that I had discovered his grimoire in the goblin tunnels. He replied he had lost it about sixty years ago, escaping from some subterranean worms of a most disagreeable nature. Doubtless it was originally recovered later by the marauding goblinkind.

Master Vanti explained that he used his book as a scroll, to cast spells at a moments notice though it destroys its contents. The spell he had used to escape was an ingenious teleportation spell but like none I had ever heard of, for they are perilous to cast for wizards of my current talent. Vanti explained that his teleportation allows him to traverse through open flames, though apparently at some personal risk. The excellent thing though is how utilitous his spell could be for lower level casters who may not yet be able to manage a greater teleportation. Such a skill could empower Keros’s forces to defend everything in Edius if mastered and treated properly. To move at such speed is exactly the sort of thing we need to gain an edge on our enemies.

As an act of thanks, he taught me the spell, though I think that perhaps I can adjust it some to suit my personal needs slightly better. To think I could travel through fire and lightning itself in the blink of an eye, that is true magical power!

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I now prepare to have dinner with Able’s family, and for my meeting with the Council in the morning. I pray that it goes well…

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Vyertinn's Journal: The Road to Keros
Session 13

The Feast was not what I was expecting. My kinsmen seem to be heartened at my return, and hopeful even. They despaired to hear of my father’s condition, though their shock was less disguised than mine. For all of that, they do not seem to doubt his judgement or my ability. I would not have expected such faith from them before now, though I am resolved to earn it all the same.

Whilst Adrian was making merry and indulging himself with the rest of my in-laws, I could not help but think back on what Father said;

“You should help Orion to grow…”

I know his own Eagle Thorandir has reached his enormous size through centuries spent living a shared lifespan with Vyden, he hinted that some more specific magic has helped to increase his size. Perhaps I can research or concoct a ritual that will bequeath Orion similar power. Even as I ruminated on this concept, a vision came into my mind of the legendary Rocs of old, ridden as my elven ancestors made war with the ancient dragons in the east. This fantasy grew into sharper and sharper clarity, and I could fathom a great warrior astride the Thunderbird screaming into the night, facing down his enemies. Perhaps this could be the answer I was searching for…

I worked into the night, investigating all known incantations for strength, agility and prowess. Some seemed promising. but I found myself surrendering to weariness after some time. I retired to my bed and rested, but the image would not leave my mind.

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When I awoke I decided to speak with Father one last time. But before I could reach him, I was approached by Mother. It had been decades since I last spoke to her, and I did not withdraw from her embrace. She could sense my concern at the conditions of Vyden and myself. She took the time to explain to me that she would join him on his journey to the Dragonteeth, and with some luck, secure our allies in time to act against Calisto’s followers. She always was a stubborn woman, but ever more so she has been loyal. I remain in awe of her devotion. I can only hope I live long enough to meet another as worthy as her, and begin a family of my own.

But that was not what Mother came to discuss. Ours was a House of Justice, and she would have it for her husband. She spoke to me of Lynsyd the Deadly, and to be wary of her treachery. Lynsyd would attempt to seduce me she said, her pique drives her to torture and beguile her victims. As we spoke, Mother led me to the Council Chamber of Feldus, and touched the fount in the center of the room. As the water in the fount rippled, a face came into view.

“This is Lynsyd, when I knew her. I met her in the School of Dvalten. You will know her if you see her wear this face, though she is wont to change them. It is said she wears four faces. Guard yourself well my son…”

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Striking … and perilous…

-

Father has departed, and Adrian has rejoined me on the Road to Keros. As a parting gift, I was given a magic scroll with details of how Father helped Thorandir reach his great size. Studying it would surely help me with my new experiment. At least while I lose one family member, my closest friend may grow stronger with me. I remember bidding my parents farewell, though little words passed between us at the time. There were many emotions though, but I would not let them betray me before my Father, for the last time he would look on his son, he would see a strong face, determined to fulfill his will.

I have donned the Armor of Etherios and I bear the Sword of Feldus now, I serve as the Ambassador of my People. I hope that will please them. Even now, I still ponder my research, it could very well save lives. I plan to submit this notion to the Verbum Vis, as they are hesitant to work with familiars of late, due to perceived fragility. If I can defeat those antiquated ideas then it may earn me my Red Cloak of Mastery. I am sure that this magic can achieve that goal, and then praise would actually be appropriately heaped upon my name, and not just because I am descended from greater sires.

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-

We were ambushed last night as we made camp inside a cave. Whilst Adrian and I with help from Orion dispatched our attackers with no great difficulty, I was shocked to see that the villains wore Calisto’s colors openly.

If his forces now are operating at large then that is grave news indeed. They must have greater numbers than I originally guessed, but this favors us in truth. He has revealed his hand early and this evidence can be used to cement my bids for cooperation with the Emissaries at Keros. Calisto’s overeagerness shall unite all his foes as one! Adrian is of a mind with me in this regard.

As we pressed forward the Three Towers of Keros could be seen in the distance…

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Vyertinn's Journal: The Last Feast of Feldus
Session 12

The mansions of Feldus have been stirred into a frenzy. In the light of my homecoming, Father has decreed that a great feast is to be held in my honor. I have longed for a triumphant and distinguished homecoming for so long, yet now that I am here, I am at a loss for words. I feel as though I have no place here any longer, and the lightest breeze will sweep me away forever…

My thoughts turn towards the Temple in my dreams. I have so many unanswered questions, and I fear the price may be too steep for answers from these “Oracles”. I have my path laid before me yet, as I proceed I feel as though I am simply a stone being cast into a ravine, I would alter my course as I might, yet I sense that the journey will end abruptly, crushing me in the process.

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I have been told that Adrian has been invited to the banquet as well. I trust Adrian with my life, but I can’t say I trust him with my reputation. It can’t be helped, I hope that the citizens of Feldus aren’t too underwhelmed by their fabled “champion” Vyertinn and his illustrious comrades. Even so, if Adrian is to make an appearance tonight, I shall have to take him to the tailors to find something suitable to wear. Hunting furs will not suffice for my father’s table unfortunately.

-

Once I saw that Adrian was being looked to, I found myself idly wandering into the Halls of the Greenseers. I suppose that the only person I have yet to see again was Mother, one of the Greenseer’s most devoted practitioners. But I could not find her within. As incense wafted through the arched halls, I found myself staring into one of the reflective pools of sacred water, hoping to glean some sort of affirmation that I had made the right choices. That I could still save my people. It was then that a pale face came into view behind my own in the water’s surface. It was Lady Frostdancer. It would appear she had journeyed to the city in order to attend the feast as well. Not precisely the relief of pressure I was seeking. She gave me some cryptic words about the nature of visions and otherwise made me even more nervous about the evening’s festivities.

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As the sun began setting and its last rays struck the cascading fountains of my home, Adrian and I arrived at the courtyard where the feast would be held. I had dressed myself in the silks and satins I used to wear so long ago, and with my signet ring upon my finger, I pressed forward into the fray. Before us was a single long table stretching far across the stones, garnished with every conceivable decoration. Lanterns hung from the arches and trees casting a soft golden glow onto everything below. Noble elves from the Three Houses and their banner houses milled into the atrium. Music gently wafted through the air as the autumn leaves stirred from the breeze.

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As Orion glided overhead, I as my father at the far end of the court receiving guests. I introduced Adrian to my mother and father. Friendly words were exchanged as Adrian gave his accounting of our travels. The dragonborn acquitted himself excellently in front of my parents, which was quite the surprise. Lord Vyden offered his gratitude for Adrian’s service to our cause and granted him asylum in Feldus should ever he require it. With that being said, Vyden proceeded to instruct my companion in some of our family history, including some unsavory explanations of our estranged kin in Feduria. Finally my father concluded with the warning that we would be facing Lynsyd and if Vyden could have his way, I would face her in single combat. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do less than that, save perhaps conceding to Calisto himself.

As the guest began to settle, Father called to their attention. There he announced my adoption back into the family, forgiving all of my past offenses, and moreover that I had been declared the Emissary of Feldus to the Free World. At this I stood up and gave witness as he recounted how he faced Lynsyd the Sentinel at the Great Siege of Edius. How they fought and struggled and yet even as it appeared that he had bested her, Lynsyd had poisoned my father, with a mortal blow. Lord Vyden spoke to his horrified subjects that he was facing his last days on Earth, and with his last breath, he would make for the Dragonteeth Mountains to secure an alliance with the kin of Adrian Thraxus. He declared my company to have been assigned the burden of the Calm Bringers, and that it fell to us to face Calisto and finish his labors. At this he clapped his hands and brought out to us relics of the Five Calm Bringers, and awarded to me the armor of Etherios the Swift…

Adrian suddenly stood and spoke to my kin, delivering powerful words about the honor he felt at his reception in Feldus, how he swore oaths of brotherhood with me and my people, and how he would work tirelessly to aid in tearing Calisto down. He concluded to roaring applause, a worthy speech. It was here that I felt I must address my people.

Suddenly Orion swooped from above, perching on my shoulder, and in that moment I bore my heart to my friends and family. I explained the sense of loss I felt for my exile, and the terror I felt in learning of Calisto’s attempts to return. I told them of how I came to meet my companions and how their strength allowed me to earn my passage home. I drew forth the Sword of Feldus and recounted my vision of Halifaust in his Temple. It was there I swore my life to Feldus, and the honor of serving my people. I made my vows to protect the freedom of all races, and that I would make strong the old alliances. I told them that history would remember that the Elves of Feldus stood against tyranny, no matter the cost. That is all I can remember from that night…

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Vyertinn's Journal: The Lord of the Great Falls Forest - Carry On, My Wayward Son
Session 11

I awoke from my dreams to the pungent smells and sounds of an unfamiliar hovel. Adrian greeted me with an enthusiasm completely unlike how I’ve come to know him. It would seem he was so desperate for my riveting banter that he managed to carry my delirious frame all the way to the apothecary of Keldious, hedgemage extraordinaire and notorious alchemist. Perhaps my visions I have been roused from were not brought on by rogue pixie dust, but a more… recreational substance.

Indeed, Keldious wasted no time imbibing a suspicious draught that rendered him very much unconscious, leaving Adrian at the mercy of his own anxious thoughts. Upon assuring ourselves that the elf had not just committed an elaborate form of suicide, we agreed to wait till he had regained consciousness as well before we continue our journey.

We made south by raft, planning to take the great river to the borders of the city; the crashing waterfalls from which the forest earned its name. Just before we reached our destination, Adrian spied a figure by the eastern riverside. We pulled to shore and encountered a tall woman with striking purple eyes. She spoke to Adrian with familiarity, I would assume them to be kin. They left to speak privately while I consulted my studies. My suspicions were confirmed as Adrian returned from the glade, and a massive black dragon rose out of the tree line in the distance, heading for the mountains.

Finally after another hour or so of travel, I saw what I had been searching for. I was home.

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-

It has been seventy five years… the better part of a century has passed since I was sent away from home. Seventy five years since I had my family name me an exile and remove me to the roof of strangers remote and unassuming. Seventy five years have gone by as I’ve watched the world pass by around me, whilst all I could do is wonder why.

I’ve been a fool.

I’ve had my head filled with the stories of the Calm Bringers and the Revolution my father began, but I could never see where my duties lay. All I could ever think of is how to bring myself renown and make myself worthy of remembrance, like the old songs and stories. But now, that I find myself trapped in a secret war for freedom from those very same evils, I wish that I had acted differently and had known my place was to SERVE my family, my people…

I was summoned before the Lord of Feldus and found that my sister Alana sat the throne and held the sceptre in place of my father. He had bequeathed the governance of Feldus to her some six months past as he focused on other matters demanding his full attention. It would seem that my messages and concerns were taken to heart. That being said, I shared a tender reconciliation with my sister, the stole and sceptre suit her well. She hates it. Before long I shall be summoned to Lord Vydenn’s private chambers to make an accounting of my travels, and hopefully request his leave to journey west in search of aid against Calisto’s forces.

I have been informed there is to be a state dinner, a feast held in honor of my return. I would not have expected such pomp and circumstance to be made on my account, but many things these days are not what they seem. Well if anything, it should prove an opportunity to meet my new inlaws on my sister’s part. Adrian has been invited as well, though I shall have to send him to the tailor first. This is starting to seem more ominous than Chunda in retrospect.

-

I spoke with my father… my visions did not lie, and he is dying. Lynsyd had mortally wounded him at the Siege of Edius, but he has endured the poisons of her daggers for this long out of sheer determination. All of his gruff outward demeanor, flint eyed and cold have been a ruse in order to lure out our enemies. But now his strength is failing him, and he can no longer maintain the facade very much longer.

He has renamed me my birth rights in House Varfarrion, and in fact has named me Emmisary of the Great Falls Forest! Me! He told me that he knew of my wishes to travel to Xephos in search of the Oracles who can answer our many questions, and moreover, instructed me as how to reach them.

My father told me that I have to face Lynsyd myself, a treacherous assassin that he with all of his strength could not subdue. He told me of their great battle and how nearly he would have smote her down. FInally, father bequeathed me the Sword of Feldus. He has embraced me as his son and placed his hopes for his people upon my shoulders.

I think I may need to be alone for a while…

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Asher's Entry - A Stubborn Chest
Session 10

I sat on a beach with my eyes closed taking in everything that surrounded me; the softness of the sand, the occasional tide licking my feet, the warmth of the sun in it’s constant position of late evening, the small breeze that ruffled my hair. This wasn’t the first time I had come here but it isn’t often that I find myself here either. Then again, I shouldn’t complain since this kind of peace is rare, especially in the last few days. I opened my eyes to see the sun still in place, and the multi-dark blue colors of the water mixing in with the reflections of the sun and clouds. It was beautiful.

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Mixed in with the sound of the waves, I heard something.

…er……..lp
I moved closer to the water.
…sher…..elp…
I moved closer still.
…sher….Asher…ASHER, HELP!

I jolted awake and got up immediately, grabbing my glaive while doing so. Able stood up next to me as he must have been woken up too. I peered into the tomb in which we stayed for the night and saw Verik running towards us, being chased by something by a cloth of some kind. It wasn’t covering anything, or so I thought. Looking closer, I saw that there was a pitch blackness of some kind underneath the cloth, almost as if it was a void into nothingness.

Able, wasting no time, shot a scorching ray out of his hands and hit dead center of the evil being (“Nice shot, Able!”). The cloth on the darkness began to burn away and Verik, in the meantime, tended to whatever wounds he suffered. With my glaive in hand and my glaive glowing intensely, I swung down upon the evil being, cutting off a large portion of the cloth that covered it. A shrill noise came from the being and it began backing off, possibly from fear of the light of my glaive. It then began to sink into the stone floor, cloth piling up as it went. Verik, not wanting it to get away, threw his own glaive towards it but it went too high, soaring to the back of the tomb. At the last second, Able threw invisible force at the being and hit the cloth. We waited for anything else to happen but the cloth did not stir again, although we were still unsure if it was dead or not.

We walked to the back of the tomb to retrieve Verik’s weapon when he said that he heard the creature scratching at the wall. When we found his weapon, stuck in a pile of dirt on the ground, we investigated the area to see what the creature was trying to get in to. Verik had the better eyesight out of the three of us due to his elvish blood and found a secret door in the wall. We pushed it open to find what was inside.

What we found was nothing less than spectacular. The floor was made of shining blue tile, almost as if made by pure sapphire and the grout was silver. The walls were made up of mosaic glass depicting trees and flowers, mostly blue and silver. There was no dust to be found, as it was a well preserved room. In the middle of the room stood a throne made in a wicker style, although I couldn’t tell if it was actually made out of wood. The only drawback was that there was a smell of fresh decay of a body. That and there was a mummified corpse on the throne. The corpse was dressed in green and silver clothes with gold lining. It was wearing a pendant with designs of an eagle clutching lightning and a sword in its talons. (“Wait….I know this crest. It’s the house of Varfarrion! We’re in a tomb of Vyertinn’s family!”)

At the foot of the throne, there was a stone chest. Verik detected a magic lock. We wanted to see what was in it, but we didn’t want anything to reanimate while we were trapped in the hidden room, so we decided to take it with us to the front of the tomb where we slept. I tried picking it up by myself but it was too heavy, so Verik and I decided to drag it out of the room. And that’s where we messed up. We heard a sound, only to find out that the door was beginning to close with us still inside (“SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!”). Able, trying to hold the door, began muttering to himself. All of a sudden, his muscles began to bulge to twice it’s original size, gaining incredible strength and held the door in place. Pushing, shoving and pulling as fast as we could, Verik and I managed to slide the stone chest out just before Able’s newfound strength gave out. Once the door closed, we dragged the chest to the front to “safely” try to find a way to open it.

I took out my crowbar and hammer from out of my backpack. Positioning the crowbar where the lock was I started hammering to try to break it off by force. The first time I hit, nothing happened. The second time, I paid the price. The moment I struck was the moment my crowbar shattered in my hand, and lightning came from the lock and hit me square in the chest. I passed out. I woke up with a single pound on the chest from Verik, to which I replied with, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!” It was the single most painful feeling I have had since starting this quest of mine. I sat up to notice that I was shot a good 10 feet from where the chest was, and there was a giant hole in my cloak (“But at least the armor is nice and shiny.”). It was then that we heard a single click come from the chest (“Well what could that be?”). I dug out the shovel that I had in my backpack, handed it to Verik, and weakly said, “Your turn.” Verik hit it once and nothing happened, but some how managed to dodge the lightning bolt when he hit it the second time. After a few seconds, the chest clicked again (“Oooookay. I get it.”).

It wasn’t until then did we realize that it might be best to look for a key. Able searched the bodies and bones that were in the tomb and came out with 20 lockpicks, one for each body. He also noted that they all had crystallized chest bones, as if they died from lightning to the chest (“Perhaps they were all graverobbers?”). However, there were no keys to be found. We decided that it would be best to try and search the body in the throne room, but we didn’t want to risk the door closing on us again, so we figured that we could use the chest for our benefit this time. After sliding the chest to the hidden door, we faced it so that the lock would face the door, in hopes that when we struck the lock in a safe position, the lightning would go out to the door and blow out a hole for us to walk through easily. In an awkward but safe position, Verik took my shovel and struck the lock from behind. The only problem was that the lightning came out from the opposite end, and hit Verik dead-center of the chest. He somehow took it easier than I did, but there still was a giant hole in his cloak and his armor shined as well.

When that didn’t work, we tried to use the pressure of the hidden door to crack open the safe. When we opened the door, there was a shuffling and scrapping sound. I looked back in time to see the chest slid ON ITS OWN to where its original position was before (“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!”). Needless to say, I was livid. All I wanted to do was see what was in the chest, because it might actually benefit me in my quest. In fact, I was going to be even more pissed if it was just gold in the damned thing. A chest this much trouble isn’t worth the gold or losing your life over. Hell, 20 people already tried! No man ever opened the stupid thi-.

Wait. No man has opened it yet. But maybe one of the Gods can. It was then that I stopped what I, Verik and Able were doing, and prayed to the one God that made any sense to pray to in this tomb; Halifaust. There was a small creaking sound in front of me. I looked up to find that the head of the corpse in the throne began to move, looking straight at me and Verik. Able however was nowhere to be found. It started to talk.

“What are two followers of Halis doing trying to rob the tomb of one of my greatest followers?”

In awe that I actually was able to communicate with a God that wasn’t my own, I found myself unable respond immediately. Still fumbling for the words to say, I graciously kneeled before the God-possessed corpse.

“Oh great Halifaust, i-it is somewhat ironic that we are here, for we have been traveling with one of your followers, a man named Vyertinn Varfarrion. It seems to not be a coincidence that we are here the tomb of one of your greatest followers, and it seems we are in dire times.”

The God replied, “What would you do with the contents of the chest if it were gold?”

“If it were gold? Nothing. It serves no purpose to us. We only need that which will help us in our quest.”

“What is your quest?”

“To destroy the evil in this world which is about to arise, Calisto.” I spit as I spoke the name.

Suddenly, the lock of the chest, became undone, and the lid raises.

“Great Halifaust, are you sure?”

“Take it. Take a look at it.”

Inside there was a very old scroll. I picked it up gently, as if it were made of cracked glass. As I unrolled it, it showed itself to be a map with old landmarks. The land the map was showing wasn’t familiar to me or Verik.

“There is another item for you.” The God said.

We looked again to find two new cloaks for the both of us, seeing as they were damaged from the chest’s lightning. They were embroidered with symbols of Halis.

“The difference between those who seek what the dead possess and those that wish to steal what the dead possess is intention. There are no riches in this chest. But the value of its contents is priceless. Protect this map, for without it, your quest will not end successfully.”

“Thank you, Halifaust.”

The corpse’s head limped down, Halifaust done with the body. We walked out of the tomb, but not before I turned around and did one more gracious bow out of respect. Halis, as it turned out, wasn’t the only God who was with us. We met with Able again afterwards in the front of the tomb and figured that it was best to sleep again to regain our strength. I found myself back on the beach in my dream.

The only difference was the golden eagle who flew across the sea from time to time.

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