East of Winter

Abandon hope all ye who enter here
Admiral's Log: Stardate 95666.6

I can still hear His voice in my head. I can still feel His breath on my neck. I fear I am still there, naked and running. Alone. Afraid. I fear I not only have entered the mouth of madness but that I have been swallowed by it. 

I do not know how I was retrieved from that forsaken sunken place. I do not, in fact, know if I really have been. This could all be illusion. I might still be there. In the maze. Whatever reality this is, I have taken measures to protect myself. 

I remember running through brush and shrubs, struggling to remain undetected from Him. Knowing He would find me regardless. Then, I was back in the theater. Surrounded by the others. But I did not … do not trust it. I retrieved my belongings and barricaded myself in my pocket fortress. I have not donned my belt, nor have I picked up Whelm. I cannot bear to have any more voices inside my head right now. Especially as the echo of His voice is still present.

I will not leave my tower. I will not return to that place. I will die before that happens. And I will take whomever I need to with me to the grave.

Rising and Falling to the Challenge
Jarl Jr Beholds Victory and Defeat

(penned in red ink by Alcadizzar)

Dear Dream Journal,

We continue waging war on the giants at the behest of the brass Dragon Culsixreal.  The latest blow was struck against the son of the frost giant king.  The Jarl who fought Chigeera and allied with the shadow smiths.  I contacted Jarl Jr. through a sending spell and challenged it to a competition of strength, endurance and speed.  It accepted.  We set the giant's standing stone dream circle as the place for the show down.  If we won the giants would leave us peacefully, if they won there would be war.

I had intended on a competition of drinking, fighting and racing; However as the challenged party the Jarl decided that the competition would be a fight to the death.  It brought a beholder to insure that magic was not used to interfere with the challenge.  It also was accompanied by a large retinue of frost giant soldiers and the king of the hill giants.

My champion, Fenriss the giant slayer, took the field to fight the Jarl.  In an unforeseen twist the Jarl sold its soul to become a demonic frost giant/troll hybrid.  In a hard fought battle Fenriss brought the Jarl down…however, without the aid of Rhollor's righteous flame the Jarl regenerated, stood back up and knocked Fenriss unconscious.  The Jarl proclaimed itself victorious and promised that there would be war between the giants and the Knights of Solaris.

Taking advantage of the confusion Haldo sprung out of hiding and unleashed a volley of arrows at the beholder.  Each arrow found an eye, and the tyrant was slain in an instant.  I immediately accommodated the severely wounded Jarl's demand for war by dispatching it with holy fire; Praise be to Rhollor smiter of the wicked.  Abaraxia rushed to Fenriss and healed her wounds; Praise be to Rhollor sustainer of the righteous.  Yera battled the frost giant retinue that accompanied the Jarl.  Tarhuun quit the field, unwilling to dishonor the terms of the challenge.  I admire his principles, but respectfully disagree about when the challenge ended.  The Jarl won the battle and lost the war.

The frost giants fought hard and I would have been taken down were it not for the death ward that Abaraxia protected me with.  The fight very well may have gone the other way if the Stone Giant Dreamer had not decided to aid us.  A beholder is a being made of nightmares, and the fact that the Jarl would bring one to this place of sacred dreaming was an abomination to the stone giants.  With their help we defeated the Frost giant retinue.  It should be noted that my Maze spell had an interesting interaction with this holy site.  The magic of the dreaming strengthened the Maze and prolonged its duration.

Although we destroyed many powerful enemies we also played into the Frost Giant King's hand.  He intends to use the death of his son to convince more of his kin to join him in his foolish fight. 

Yera used a potion to dominate the simple mind of the Hill Giant King.  During the ensuing interrogation we discovered that the vellum map we found in the hill giant fort would transport us to the Frost Giant Fortress far to the north.  We also learned that the Frost Giants are holding a storm giant captive, which breaks the giant's ordnung (A pecking order that establishes storm giants as superior to frost giants.) The Hill giant King was still bent out of shape that we killed its momma.  It promised to kill all of our mothers.  Abaraxia told him that he was welcome to try, and it "agreed" to have a Geas placed on it that compelled it to destroy the Devil Queen.  I pity the fool hardy giant.

Praise be to Rhollor the sustainer of the righteous and smiter of the wicked.  Praise be to Rhollor the sustainer of the righteous and smiter of the wicked.

Circle of Strife
Cradle to Grave

(Penned in red ink by Alcadizzar)

Dear Dream Journal,

After much research and investigation the teleportation circle that the orcs used to assault cradle was discovered.  A cleft in the earth south of town leads to an underground fortress that guards the circle. 

A contingent of 200 orcs guarded the circle along with a gaggle of beholders.  The arch druid himself was there.  He attacked us in the form of a blue dragon.  His form was vanquished in mid air and he plummeted to the ground.  His attempt to escape via plant magic was countered by my arcane superiority.  As a last ditch effort he created a hole in the ground and fell into the caverns below.  Gravity took its toll, the second fall knocked him unconscious.  I immolated his body to insure that he could not return. 

The caverns housed an eye tyrant, a lesser beholder, a brace of spectators and some 200 orcs.  Tarhuun roasted a corridor of orcs with his fire breath.  Runt waded in as a stone elemental to attack the orcs.  Nocturne laid waste to regiments of orcs with fire and blood.  Abaraxia boldly engaged the enemy on her baby fire unicorn.  Brine survived.  Zanath eventually brought down the beholder under a hail of crossbow fire.

We discovered the circle and secured it.  I suggested that we inform the soldiers in Cradle of the circle so that they can move their garrison out of the city proper and protect the Teleportation Circle.  This would hopefully alleviate the tension that they have caused by their volume and proximity.

The beholders we fought are shadows of the true hive tyrant.  When we kicked his nest he began dreaming copies of himself into existence.  Until we deal with the original beholder in the Devil's Horn peaks we can expect to see more of his shadow offspring meddling in our affairs.

Turn your eyes to the son, the shadows will be dispelled by the light.  Praise be to Rhollor the sentient flame. Glory to Pelor, may the father illuminate our path. Praise be to Rhollor the sentient flame. Glory to Pelor, may the father illuminate our path.

I can has a diary
LuLu's big adventures

Admiral Fenriss gave me a book! At first I was confused because the book had no words in it. I thought maybe it was a joke. But Mr. Fenriss said the book is for me to put MY words in, just like the one he has. He told me I could use it to keep track of all my adventures. 

I've had LOTS of adventures since Mr. Fenriss gave me my book. I went with Caeryn to see her family clan. It was under the ocean, which was scary! At first I didn't like it because I got all wet and I don't like getting wet. But then we met the Ocean Warrior Queen and the Sea Princess AND! I found out my friend Caeryn is a Sea Princess too! But SHHHHH! She doesn't like for people to know she's a princess. It's our secret. 

We visited Caeryn's clan to give back a really important thingy. Mr. Fenriss's friend Yera was keeping it safe. Oh! And I helped save everybody on the ship on the way to Caeryn's home! I saw a big leggy fish thing in the water and yelled my "AHOY!" just like the crew taught me. I woke everybody up and they all fought the monster and it ran away super scared! Stupid leg fish.

After we got back from visiting Caeryn's clan, Harwen took me to the desert. I don't know why we were there. He had been there before with my friend Gwyni and some other people I don't know. There were really big people there. Like SUPER big. One was a funny king man who wanted to watch us fight stuff. His brother was even bigger! And he was real mad about something that happened to the dragon people in their city nearby. I thought we should go help them, but the funny king man said it wasn't important and then sent a bunch of monsters in to fight us! It was a little scary, but I did good and fought lots of crabbers and even these big flying lizard things! I got hurt real bad a couple of times, but Harwen took real good care of me and gave me treats that made me feel better. Gwyni brought her ghost friends that helped us fight, and she did this thing that was like BLOOSH! that healed everybody. 

That's all the adventures I have to share right now. I'm very sleepy now. I hope I have more adventures soon.

 LuLu Swiftclaw

Better when wetter
Take it from me

(Harwen is overheard talking loudly over a beverage.  His nose is red and his eyes are blurry.)

Land horses get cramped up on ship.  Ya see she needs to stretch her legs.  Harwen comfort the couped up horsies.  Bad fish comes, Admiral chases them away with hammer.  Harwen stays with land horses.

Horny lady makes Harwen get real wet.  (Pause as Harwen's drinking partner discusses the nuances of the common language.)  Horned lady make Harwen breathe water.  She's ah real smart.  She has a fish fork.  Wants to give it back.  Nice lady.  Wet Cat look silly, sound scary.

Sir Caeryn is a right princess.  Darling of the water people she is.  Throw big party.  Fin is a good underwater jousting guy.  I wonder if he joust on land horses too.  Harwen will never know the joy of being a mother.  (Drinking partner has quizzical expression on face, opens mouth, thinks better of it, shuts mouth again.)

Famous fish folk really happy to get the fish fork back.  I think the fork is happy too.  Whale tastes good.  (Harwen looks satisfied that he has relayed all the pertinent information, his drinking partner quickly changes the subject.)

Darkest before the dawn
Admiral's Log: Stardate 95631.12

I have not been myself lately. And it is not the beard. Well, it is not just the beard. The voice of the hammer is constant in my head. And I fear his incessant berating to get up and go out and fight is driving me mad. He will no longer let me wallow in my grief, and I resent him for this. But I cannot part with him. Whelm's power is now part of me, and I refuse to be without it.

Also, Whelm is right. My crew is dead and gone. Despite my best attempts to place blame on the shoulders of others, it is my fault. I have always known that. Now I accept it. It is time to move on. 

I have returned the chartered ships to their owner. Out of respect to the lost crewmen, the remaining crew and I burned the ship given to me by the necromancer. We held a Northern funeral for those who died as we watched the cursed vessel burn and sink beneath the murky water. I think we all feel more at peace now, but less at ease. 

I have replaced my former fleet with two warships. Merchant vessels will not do for what's to come. And Heimdall brings word that things are not well in Cradle. I anticipate we are approaching the Ragnarök of our time. Oddly, I am not afraid. Nor am I at peace. My blood has begun to boil with a lust for battle.

It is time I put my affairs in order.

Official Minutes of the Town of Cradle
Last Entry of Aby O'Conner
I have been informed by Duke Norway’s men, in no uncertain terms, that my services will no longer be needed. The town is now under martial law, and this will be my last entry as Magistrix of Cradle. 

I can only hope that hindsight will see what I have tried to do for this town, and for its people. I cannot force the eye of history to understand, but perhaps this record will provide some evidence for my side, in the later scheme of it all. 

I was never meant for this, I never claimed to be. But when the responsibility was thrust upon me, I took it on. I watched over this town on the edge of chaos for two years, while the nobles back in the capital schemed and plotted and decided how they might like to move, and the civilians would have starved, or frozen, but for what we did, what did. This was my home, the only one I have ever truly known, and I loved it with everything I was. I stood against the oncoming hordes to protect these people with my own flesh and blood..! 

And I would do so again, though it seems none of it will be remembered. 

So quickly, the gazes turn sour and suspicious. So quickly, people look at me and see, again, only the devil’s wayward daughter. So quickly, what we have done for the town, the country, the people- forgotten. Was I a fool, to think things might be different here?
They were different, once, when we were building a bright new civilization. But, now…it's the same as the world I grew up in, all the sideways glances, the assumption that those races with an extra tail, or horns, or scales, or feathers are…different. Not to be trusted. One of those

Cradle was meant to be better than that. The beginning of a better world. I suppose I simply wasn’t strong enough to protect that dream.
For that, and that alone, I beg the forgiveness of those who come after.

To the one who will replace me, poor soul: best of luck. Please watch over the people. Don’t let them be trampled and suffer under the political machinations of those who will likely never meet them. Don’t let them be forgotten, because they are your responsibility, because they are the only thing here that really matters. 

As for me? 

Find me at the bleeding edge, the point of the spear. I will be the light in the darkness, wherever I am needed. Perhaps, in the end, my home was never really meant to be a place at all.

Remember me kindly. 

-Abaraxia O’Conner, paladin of Rhollor, ex-Magistrix of Cradle
The Death of Alcadizzar
The Elemental of Surprise

(The following story is told in Primordial by Michone, a being of Elemental Fire.)

My spark was torn from my home of heat, love and light.  My flame flickers in a cold world populated by chatty fluid sacks.  The damp one who brought me here has pointy ears and white robes.  He respects the flame, but he is not one with the flame the way I am.  I want to share my heat with him, envelop him in my love and warmth.  He forbids me to touch him, and I am compelled to obey.

He brings me to a place of darkness and invites me to share my light with the denizens of this cold place.  There are other pointy eared fluid sacks here.  I share my warmth with them.  Their voices lift up in song as their spirits are released from this cold plane.  There are other creatures born of flame here.  Twisted monsters forged in the fires of the abyss.  They cannot appreciate my warmth and I try not to touch them; for lo they are icky to me.

We continue descending into darkness, the only light is that which we bring with us.  We arrive in a large chamber.  There are a dozen flying abyssal monkeys led by the wicked witch of the North.  She is the queen of the pointy eared fluid sacks.  She has been touched by the abyss.  She shares the darkness, but not the heat.  My moist master bids me to envelop her.  I rush to her to share my light with her dark soul.  My warmth spreads to her and engulfs her.  She sings the keening song of one touched by fire, but she is not consumed.

Then she said a very, very naughty word.  This word of power is directed at the damp one who brought me here.  The word is too naughty for him.  He falls from his flying disc, what little warmth he had quickly fades.  His air is still, his fluids no longer circulate throughout his pink sack.  Perhaps he has found escape from this frigid plane.  Perhaps his spark is now one with the great inferno.

The wicked witch and her flying monkeys are all released from their prison puddles.  The singing stops.  My purpose here has been fulfilled and I am granted release.  I return home to the collective warmth of the inferno.  My spark mingles with the conflagration.  We are warmth, we are light, we are one.


Frost Dragon Quest
Sunken city

(Penned in red ink by Alcadizzar)

Dear Dream Journal,

The silver dragon Chigera reached out to the Knights of Solaris for aid.  An ancient white dragon, Greethum, stole some valuable works of art from her hoard.  She wanted us to dispatch this foe and return her treasures.

It took several trips to his lair to complete this quest, and many adventurers accompanied me over the course of this quest.  We discovered a frost giant civilization living near the top of a spiraling cavern leading down into a mountain.  We found no indication that they were in league with the dragon or the warlike giants under the Jarl's sway, so we passed them by. 

As we descended into the cavern we fought many of Greethum's brood.  Some juvenile dragons were easily dispatched, however, there were many mature dragons as well.  The first time we encountered an adult we mistook the massive beast for Greethum himself.  After that grueling fight we were forced to regroup. 

We returned the next morning to find Ice Elementals lying in wait for us.  We dispatched them and fought our way onward.  We finally encountered the beast in a chamber of ice that he had rigged as a trap.  The floor was thin ice and a reflection of a treasure chest was intended to lure us to cross the ice.  Luckily no one noticed the chest and we did not fall for the trap.  We battled Greethum until he was at a disadvantage and he fled through the chasm below the floor.  We were taxed, and again were forced to regroup.

For our third and final foray into Greethum's lair I returned with a group of hardy adventurers, Runt, Nocturne, Fenriss and Zanath.  All of which had experience slaying dragons and/or magma wyverns.  Close enough.  This time we decided to more directly interact with the frost giants to ascertain their allegiance.

We found two frost giant sentries guarding a door.  I flew into their midst and announced my intention to slay the dragon.  This gave them pause.  Their orders were to kill intruders, but they wanted the dragon dead as much as we did.  I bribed them for safe passage and information.  They told us the location of Greethum's lair far beneath us and we set off in the direction they indicated.  We learned of a city far below the mountain, built by giants, and now captured by Greethum.  The dragon had forced the giants out of their ancestral home.

As we went lower we encountered the spawning grounds of Greethum's brood.  Interesting fact, white dragons copulate under snow banks.  We found and dispatched a pair of lusty lizards caught in the act.

Next we came to the egg chamber.  An adult female guarded her clutch.  Gene, the air elemental, spun into the room sucking up newly hatched wyrmlings and ejecting them at their mother.  Once all the reptiles were in a pile a fireball blossomed over them leaving ashes and bones in its wake.

Runt summoned a flight of pixies who used their magics to good effect, putting smaller wyrms asleep and polymorphing our enemies into harmless creatures.  Zanath accompanied me on my flying carpet and the two of us rained down destruction from our elevated position.  Fenriss got down and dirty with her hammer, tossing it at her foes and bashing any that came too close.  Nocturne proved especially effective in the final fight with Greethum in his lair.

Greethum was a cagey beast.  Creating illusions and reflecting light based attacks back at us.  Luckily Nocturne revealed the reflection trick with faerie fire before I attempted a more destructive spell.  Runt and i sent our summoned elementals in to flush out Greethum, when he emerged Zanath and Fenriss unleashed a volley of ranged attacks at him.  I was able to draw out the last of his defensive reserves with a fireball and he was left open to Nocturne's attack.  Nocturne unleashed a psychic onslaught that sundered the dragon's mind.  Eye's and ears bleeding the beast crashed to the ice, it's neck snapping under the weight of its fall.

We were richly rewarded by the wealth of the Greethum's hoard.  We returned to the frost giants, informing them of the dragon's demise.  Their city was safe for them to return to.  They threw us a feast in celebration of the deed.  We promised them peace with Remidon as long as they stayed in their mountain home.  They agreed to take in frost giant refugees who preferred peace to war.  Perhaps this will come into play later when we fight the warlike frost giants. 

Chigera rewarded us with items from her hoard after we returned her missing treasure.  I was tempted by a brazier that summoned fire elementals, but settled instead on a protective necklace.  Fenriss claimed the most interesting prize, Daern's instant fortress.

Praise be to Rhollor the eternal flame.  May he warm the hearth of the frost giants who live in peace as his flames scour those who raise up arms against us.  Et Cetera ad infinitum.  Amen.

Mortal Tales Vol. 1
Bright paths, dark woods.

In the sidhe courts most are known by which liege lords above.  My lord demands a name born of labor done or honor won.  You may call me the Guardian of the Evergreen.  You may call me the Doom of Redcap Riptooth. You may call me the Dread Hound or the Hand that White Stag Bound. Truly spoke though, I am K'thwll'sihlfestre's.(Kithyl Sylphestras in common tongue) 

Recently I had the unexpected pleasure of common course with Lady Auliotte, She suggested a counting of deeds done here amid mortal coil. So now I temerariously deem this sword familiar hand worthy to wield the weighty burden of a pen.

The customs of this liars paradise are not always clear though at least some denizens of this drab land understand the old ways. But I forget myself. A proper mortal tale starts predictably at the beginning. I found myself in the Gutsy Gatherer, a festhall named much more literally than one might initially presume, when a human bannerman of Remidon by way of Cradle entered.  They came to discharge the bold few gathered here to unravel the disappearance of scouts in a dark wood well known me.  This dark wood being the demesne of the Unseelie I knew most of these mortals were likely lost.  As I began to offer counsel a lady of foreign court spoke first.  Lady Caeryn agreed to look into the matter without even so much as a thought to the dangers of the Unseelie.  (Lady Caeryn I now know is a dignitary of the triton land Gavoll.  Hers is a mission of reconciliation with the surface and she comes with no retinue.) It would be reprehensible to allow a stranger to this land to be led to the same fate as the woefully ignorant scouts so I offered escort to her and succor to any fortune favored survivors.

The guards sagely offered some trivial sum of gold, saving me the trouble of requiring a boon so as to not give offense for my aid. And then we went to enlist the fellowship of some steeds.  There was a strange glade ringed in felled timber and two horses were brought.  Shy creatures they had human allies or servants (not sure which) to speak for them. My steed , gelded presumably for some past misdeed, was bound with a wide thick belt and some sort of seat on his back. He was biting on a contraption of leather and metal on his face with two leather thongs hanging down.  Unable even to speak his own name, Freckles, I removed these impediments. My assistance was rewarded wth an approving stamp and nicker. I introduced myself  and beseeched him for aid to which he agreed.  Lady Caeryn seemed shocked to see that many horses do not like to be bound and decided to offer the same bargain to the mare Bubbles.

Lady Caeryn and I passed the majority of the travel gregariously conversing about our respective impressions of this land, and discussing our own customs. The tritons of Gavoll are an interesting and genial people if she is any indication.  At woods edge a great yipping and howling began. We raced forward to find Yeenoghu's get mauling two dying human scouts. Here I learned that Lady Caeryn is a storm-blooded war caster of no mean power. Calling on the healing sprites of my liege's court we saved the scouts after dispatching the gnolls.  With the din of combat ended I heard the manic laughter of a woman hiding in the bushes.  The wide bloodshot eyes of madness staring blankly outward but screaming inward are sadly all to familiar to me.  Cradling her in my arms I whispered soothing charms and struck a silent bargain feeding her pain to the unsavory fae that collect such things. Her resilient mortal mind restored non the worse she and scouts returned to Cradle, wiser and sadder.

Traveling the wood for sometime it became apparent that a white gravel path marked the boundaries of this world and the Feywild.  We found more demonspawn along the path but this lone beast was all tooth, claw, and base violence easily dispensed using the equine speed of our companions with my bow and the Lady Caeryn's spells.  Some rudimentary enchantments were laid to prevent mortals from wandering too deep in to the darkest parts of the Fey Wild, while presenting the opportunity to prove your worth for audience with the Queen of Air and Darkness. 

At a bend in the road I had the distinct displeasure of hearing a darkling, a yeth hound, a quickling, and few more fangs of Yeenoghu plotting to betray the rightful ruler of the dark wood in an effort to curry favor with some interloper called the Bloodlord.  Now I may hunt mostly the woods of Arcadia, but I will not stand by idly while sidhe nobility is impinged and hospitality broken.  To witness and suffer the plots of oathbreaker would be to sully my lord's honor.  I lowered my Dread Stag Helm and issued challenge on behalf of the Sidhe.

The quickling came first, attacking directly with guileless speed. His many years taunting the dulled murky reactions of half dreaming mortals instead of refining artful swordplay allowed me to easily absorbed his wrath on my shield and dispatch him with a single stroke of my blade, albeit one enhanced by a green flame binding. I will admit that the darkling respectfully shrouded my vision in shadow as the rest of the assailants surrounded me.  I heard spellcasting, both Lady Caeryn's and a new voice, but that was all the attention I could afford at the time.  The yeth hound and fang attacked in concert but their clumsy clomping sounds in the gravel betrayed them and wasted the advantage the darkling offered.  Cutting them down was no small pleasure.  The shroud fell with the darkling.

My attention was snapped forcibly to Lady Auliotte radiantly crowned in potent glamour, yet eyes tinged with weariness. Unsure of what a lady in waiting to the Queen of the Evergreen was doing in Unseelie lands I moved unbidden to bend the knee and offer up sword and aid.  She smiled and I recalled briefly a wild dancing girl pleasing the courts Seelie and Unseelie to be sure but more importantly delighting herself free under starry  fae lit skies.  The moment passed and Lady Auliotte bid me rise and gave proper address. We exchanged pleasantries and she made clear what confused me.  I am no courtier and so that accounting will suffice for this volume. 

I introduce Lady Caeryn to Lady Auliotte and we took it upon ourselves to purge this safe passage of treacherous abyssal influence.  We found the missing scouts and more.  Near fifteen score bodies exsanguinated and displayed in a grotesque tableau.  Here several flinds congregated to make the bloody offering to this Bloodlord.  The battle was fierce and boon was rendered by a servant of the Queen of Air and Darkness that prevented me from falling beneath the ghastly demonic flails.  But we were victorious.  In the midst of this grisly charnel we did find a young wolf with a gleaming silver coat.  I will teach him to hunt. And for now he will be called Telore (Tel-or-ay or Silverheart in common)

We departed the wood shortly thereafter excepting Lady Auliotte.  I offered to escort her to a fey portal I sensed not far away. The lady had other business to attend so I simply marked a map for her and bid farewell.  Lady Caeryn, one of the few polite and good hearted people I have met in this land, and I made our way back together.  Along the way she asked for aid with a different venture, but that is a tale for another volume.

(Apologies for any failings of translation, feel free to make any changes required for the prime material tongue.) 


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