East of Winter

Frogmen and Panthers

Heading to Sprigden on my weekly journey with Soraya, we kept our eyes peeled for beasties as I read that some druids can change into animals and I want to be ready for when Meriarder deems I am ready.  Cicada has already shown me the animals in his fancy bag, but I love options.  Needing more options is one of the reasons I left my clan.  Sadly, the trip was uneventful.

When we reached the Due South Inn, we met retired guard extraordinaire, Jelder.  Meeting my newest best friend has increased my understanding of polite society.  You don't ask humans their age, and frogmen should not be eaten even if you know how delicious grenouilles are, especially in a butter sauce.

As we were trying to decide if we should checkin with the guildmaster for a job, the cranky dwarf strode into the bar area and pointed at us and folk hero Aila (who makes a killer Dandelion Wine) and asked us to find some missing people.  Needing money and something to prevent Soraya from feeking bores, we set off to find missing people.  

For those unaware, there is a pier near a major waterway.  There is also a swamp.  Swamps are not my favorite due to my height, but I persevered.  Along the way we found a statue.  Sorsya studied the elvish writing (warning of the last drinkable water) and Jelder jotednparts needed to fix it and make the fountain functional.  These two are really smart and tall.

We eventually encountered and killed many frogmen.  Remembering Jelders advice, Ibonly looted for money and not for frog legs. Eventually we found the missing humans.  Turns out they are not as smart and felt like the best place to copulate was away from csmp without any guards in a cold swamp area.   I was under the impression that cold made male things unimpressive, but the were unphased enough amd distracted each other so much that they were captured by Frogmen!  Do you know hoe small frogmen are?  as small as me!

Luckily, I brought two tall magic wielding half elfs and a tall human fighter, so we plowed through the frogmen camp to reach the human men.  Jelder easily climbed the tree and opened omnof the cages before I found keys on the creepy orange frogman.  Then, I suddenly changed into a panther and climbed a tree to get the keys tonhim for the second cage.  Once the humans were down the tree, we finished gathering the loot, which required jelder swimming to get a barrel of coins.  All in all, a good mission that includef new friends and me turning into a panther!

Fens & Frogs

So I am sitting there at the bar, like you do, and old Garoka Brightmine comes in looking purposeful.  He gathers up this little goblin girl Kawli, two half elf birds Soraya and Aila, and your's truly to go track down a couple of missing woodworkers at some pier being slapped together up north.

We get together a cart and hitch up a mule and a very fine horse for all the essentials to not freeze our collective arses off tromping round in wet ground during waxing winter.  I am looking into getting some soda tablets to hold off the heartburn that comes with cheap booze and trail rations of a march and Kawli, who is a chatterbox mind you, says she has the food covered. So instead I double down on blankets and some extra wool socks. Don't underestimate the importance of warm thick socks.

We make pretty damn good time getting to this pier where the carpenters have finished the pier and are now working on a boat. Good rutting work.  Speaking of rutting, according to ol' Jacob his two wood workers got a little lonely one night and went for a toss.  Got waylaid and drug off.

Aila got all fancy and described a water based ambush and a bit of a struggle, but the gobbo girl and I saw enough to see a couple big ass frog feet dragging some randy day labors north west.

I'll admit these adventurer types have some skills.

So I am not one to complain.  But details or whatever.  So it was cold and we made it.  

We made camp one night on stretch of dry ground that Kawli was able to locate. Now this aint her fault, but we got ambushed by a whole mess of creepy little frog men. She gives a warning shout and then rattles her stick around then the swamp sort of…starts…trying to drown those little frog bastards.

I jump up and grab my trusty but never rusty halberd and take one bastard's stupid frog face off. I know the magic elf birds work some terrible wonders on these puddle jumping slime slingers. I saw magic bolts flying around and arcane words of power.  When this kind of stuff happens I put on the old battle blinders and just start hacking and swing the weapon at anyone who didn't take a watch with me.  I got a couple more I think, but they are little fellas so I'll only count them for half.

Well that camp was ruined so we loot them and find some decent hazard pay. Hit the trail.  A couple of hours later we see two more of the little bug eaters.  Aila holds up some of her fair decent dandelion hooch as a peace offering.  And this pink one draws a line in the sand.  Now I am not a learned man, but I know what a line in the sand means.  We spot a couple more hiding out in a puddle.  

I move up with my weapon a heart beat before Soraya runs up and just does something.  Not sure what.  And one of these little spearfrogs jump up at her.  But I've seen this move. So I give the marshy moron a free pass to whatever little swampy hell he prayed for with one blow. 

Aila shoots fire, bleeding real fire, at them.  The gobbo stomps her feet and blast the pink one back with a deafening thunderclap.  I don't understand Soraya's magic, but it seems akin to a drill sergeant just making you want to curl up inside and die.  But worse cause it is also wrapped up in that like smirky better than you noble bearing thing. Is she a noble?  Anyway she mostly talks at people or stares at them but things happen. And then if you run wham, steel to the guts.

Anyway pinky gets his head out his arse and covers the whole place with thorn bushes that seem part shark or something. And Kawli is like suck eggs frog boy and makes the swamp try to kill em again.  The whole time Aila just shooting fire like its arrows pulled from hell.  Well I chuck a few throwing spears, but eventually see we are both pinned down pretty damn good.  Figure we can't stay this way and charge out.  It hurts. Pretty bad, but not the worst I've had.  Then once I break out the whole thing disappears after smacking pinky around a bit.

I don't regret it. Can't let the spell slingers think that stuff would work on old Jelder.

Well we decide to take a halfling lunch since the camp screwed our sleep last night.  And feeling a bit better if I do say so we head out.  Sun goes down but during the break I lashed about five torchs in a loose bundle to light quick fast and in a hurry.  We eventually find a bonfire and two yokels, one was Harold by the way, strung up in cages over some nasty looking water.  We throw a few torches around move into the camp expecting an ambush.  Which we got.  Big ugly muscle orange looking bull frog jumped down in front the half elves.  But the caster were ready.  Kawli jumps around and waver her arm and bam the tree starts trying to kill the damn things.  (Side note don't fight Kawli outside.) Soraya decided we needed some terribly ominous pipe accompaniment.  I don't understand what she does, but it works.  Anyway Aila shoots some fire at croaky the big necked orange toad and misses.  Kawli makes a vine jerk the little green spearfrog over near me. Wrapped up nice like a present. So I open it lips to toe tips.  Then Aila blasts the thing with three glowing magic bolts and Soraya gives him ghost eyes and rapier rib tickle.  I think Aila even gave him a shiv when he went running past.  Anyway I figure we shouldn't waste all the hard work so I run him down and break his knee with the haft of my weapon. But he tumbles head over heels and brains himself to death on a rock. 

Well while lethal lady trio search through the corpses, I climb up to get lovebirds out of their cages.  I pop one open using my halberd like a pry bar.  And Kawli turns into a sodding black cat bigger than a wolf. Comes trotting up the tree, drops some keys in my hand, and pleased as punch sits down for some scratches.  Now normally this is not something I would oblige, but when you seen someone attack her enemies with basically the whole world and then turn into a giant murder kitty you go with it.

Kitty Kawli gives the place a once over while Aila helps Harold and the other one get warm.  Kawli finds a puddle with barrel sunk ten feet down or so.  I look around see a sad soaking kitty, and two ladies not looking to jump in freezing cold swamp water and realize this why you take dumb grunts like me. So I take my chain off jump in and freeze my jublees tying a damn rope to a heavy ass barrel.  They had the good sense to bring the mule over to pull the barrel up while I stripped down and warmed up next to the fire.

We hightailed it out of there once everyone was warm and dressed.  On the way back watching the magic people work through the potions and papers, and worse count all that coinage I think the swamp swim was the better deal.

Anyway.  I made damn good money even after Brightmine broke his piece out.

This ain't a bad way to make money.  Saved some lives, killed some monsters.  I should probably tell the Captain that camp looked like an expeditionary force.  Or maybe the guild will handle it.



Beasts of Winter
23 Sinyawhuir 1468- Personal Diary Entry

Earlier this week, a couple of days after Enryn Willosby’s failed wedding and subsequent arrest, I was in the Gusty Gatherer, showing off my new hunting outfit to Esmerelda (all white, perfect for dramatic poses in blizzards). A few others were there as well, lurking over their drink of choice, as expected of a bunch of adventurers stuck in a one-horse town in the snow. And lurking was exactly the right word for it, too- our only other companions were Fenriss- the quietest of those tiefling women-, Runt, and Imildrak, accompanied by one of his ever-present Teds.

So, then, not exactly the best group  to comfort a small tiefling child stumbling in after riding through the night. Except Esme and I, of course, but we weren’t quite quick enough to prevent him from being slightly traumatized. He’ll be alright. Children are resilient.

The child, Oskari, had come from a nearby village, Frostpointe, to report that a monster of some sort had taken his sister, and to request we come and destroy it, and rescue his sister (this last point may have been a portion of the trauma I mentioned earlier, as certain pessimists immediately told the kid she was probably dead. I mean, I thought so too, but sometimes you just have to tell a few white lies).

I was immediately on board with the idea- what better way to show off my new hunting outfit? Also, I don’t really do well when I don’t have goals, and I was at a bit of a loose end after finishing up the Willosby business. It’s best I remain occupied. The others agreed to come as well, for their own reasons, and we left Oskari at the inn with a hot meal and a blanket, to allow him a brief recovery before we left town.

I ensured we would eat well along the way (Runt insisted we would be fine with whatever he can forage, but I’m not inclined to eat frozen roots when I don’t have to), and then we set out in the darkness to ride to Frostpointe while there might still be a chance for the girl.

Night rides are rarely enjoyable experiences. The blizzard didn’t help.

We came upon a pack of wolves, devouring some beast, lead by- and I am being completely serious here- the single largest wolf I have ever seen. And, you know, because that wasn’t enough, it had frost breath too. I dodged it, but that’s just not necessary. We didn’t have a problem with it (diary, wizards are the best) but I suppose that’s a thing in my life now. Giant frost wolves. Great.

Runt got into a bit of a tussle with the thing (as a wolf himself, very appropriate) before we were able to destroy it, but I got into its head and then it happened to run into my scimitar as it turned to flee its own inner demons. Did you know wolves show their gratitude by brushing their (bloodstained) noses against you? I do, now.

Diary, I was positive my new outfit was ruined- you know how hard it is to get bloodstains out of white wool, especially after it’s set- but then Imildrak said some odd little phrase in a language I don’t speak, and it completely disappeared, like the magic I assume it was. I’ve been misjudging him, I think. He’s clearly nicer than his brother, and actually, he’s right that his skull talks back. It spoke to me, too- sounded rather like Imildrak, but I suppose that’s only to be expected. Very polite, Ted.

Frostpointe is even smaller than Cradle, more a collection of houses than a town. Oskari was able to lead us to his family, and the oldest sister, Helena, gave us more information. The town had caught and killed a small bear-like creature that had been attacking their livestock, and, shortly afterward, a much larger version of the same creature had dragged away their sister, Hilka.

Once Runt and Imildrak were able to identify the creature as a potential yeti, we set off to follow the trail it had left behind dragging the girl, which was still clear through the snow.
We fought it first in the woods, before we reached the end of the trail. The thing was enormous, and I’m going to have nightmares about its claws. A true horror. Luckily for me, I surround myself with excellent companions, and we were a match for the thing. They were all brilliant, and the creature was driven before us in a rain of magic and arrowfire, retreating back to its lair in a blur of snow.

It thought it was very clever, but Fenriss is the clever one- she’d marked it, and was able to follow the creature like it left signposts. We rested briefly, but had no time to waste to truly recover, assuming the girl- or what was left of her- would be in the lair.

My memory of that battle is hazy- we attacked from afar at first, but they were so fast we had to engage directly. I stepped forward in front of the wizards, Runt with me (we’d lost the Teds in the battle in the woods), drew my sword. I tried to force my will through my music to take control of the yeti’s mind, saw it fail. The yeti looked at me, and I couldn’t move. Then, nothing. A wash of red. I know now that I took a near mortal wound in an instant. Those claws…

I’d prefer not to dwell on it.

By the time I was able to think and move again, Fenriss was down as well, but the big yeti was near death. Imildrak had trapped another smaller one in a trap only it could see, shrinking away from nothing (I really need to learn how to do that). Esmerelda was about to finish it when a young tiefling emerged from the back of the lair to throw herself over the yeti.

She begged us not to kill the creature, insisting it had meant her no harm. Obviously not thinking clearly, the shock of the thing. I’ve seen this happen to people before.

I saw Runt wavering, but Fenriss (who I’d healed to bring back to consciousness) and Esmerelda were having no more of it than I was. The girl was lucky to be alive, and if we left this thing here, the next girl might not be so lucky.

Exhibit A: self, with extra giant slash in side.

We removed Hilka from the yeti’s back and did what had to be done.

After which, Imildrak, who may be my new best friend, gave me a healing potion (why I didn’t bring one of my own is a mystery for the ages, lesson learned). And, most unexpectedly, a rose.

A dried, long dead black rose, of course- I might take that the wrong way from anyone else, but Imildrak’s got his own odd ways. I can't really say anything, I’m pretty odd myself, let’s be honest.

I think I might keep it. It’s lovely, even so- fragile, the scent barely there, but a rose, still. And where, in a land covered in snow, did he find a rose in the first place, much less a black one..?

The villagers, unlike Hilka, were delighted to hear the yetis had been killed, and gave us a much-needed warm meal and sleep before we returned to Cradle. Lady Fol had medals made for us when we returned. I think I’d still rather not have been ripped open, but the medal’s a bit of a consolation prize, I suppose. It’s nothing a few days lounging idly in the inn won’t heal, in any case.

If I can stay out of trouble that long. 
Weathering the Winter
Restoring Cradle

Dear Diary,

Myself and many of my compatriots decided to weather the winter in Cradle.  Much was accomplished during the few short months we tarried.  I was able to squeeze some coin out of the Willosby estate and direct the funds to Cradle as I had planned.  The Inn is completed, as is the town hall and the temple.  300 gold was allocated from these funds to Esmerelda's Inn, Imildrak's sewers, and Glim's Garrison Tower.  We decided on building a modest temple and town hall, nothing too fancy for our quiet little town. 

As the snows began to thaw in early spring we set out for the slaver city of Osiris.  A pier was built near cradle over the winter months.  When we set sail we discovered that the slavers were utilizing this shipping route as well, many of the passengers had a tattoo that marked them as property.

We accompanied the slavers caravan through the desert to the city we were seeking.  I believe the locals call it Farlongin or some such jibberish.  One of the slave traders mysteriously went missing during the journey through the desert.  Her ashes were never discovered.

Upon entering the city everything turned to shit at an alarming rate.  I was skulking about, fearing reprisal for the caravan we waylaid previously.  Runt and Abby were called before the Queen, a courtesy not extended to elves.  Imildrak wandered off to find a way to fight in the slave pits, Runt and Abby left to see Amani in her throne room.  I was unaccountably tired after a long night where I definitely wasn't luring anyone out into the wilderness to their certain death.  I checked into an Inn for a much needed nap.  After I awoke I attempted to find my companions.  My brother Imildrak was easy enough to find, down by the slave pits chasing his doom.  Runt and Abby are still missing.  My searches have been fruitless. 

I am sending my familiar Harry Turtledove back to Cradle with a message letting the other adventurers know of the new pier, our current location, my concerns for the wellbeing of Abby and Runt and my suspicion of Queen Amani's involvement in their disappearance.  They should receive it the second or third week of spring.


To the Attention of King Hecaton IV
from the desk of the mayor
Your Gracious Majesty,

I write to update you in regards to the recently reclaimed town of Cradle, newest of your Easternmost lands, which we have liberated from the undead which have occupied it for the past centuries. 

The town grows rapidly- merchants and more adventurers arrive daily, and much progress has already been made pushing forward the boundaries of your kingdom into the lands lost beneath the Edict. I'm sure this progress will only multiply in the coming months. 

To maintain a sense of order in these wild lands, the steward of the Eastern Marches has appointed me to set up a local government in your name, an office I will strive to fulfill with honor. 

Due to the nature of this frontier, there are many groups in Cradle who require input into the running of the city. To this end, I will be setting up a town council, and have set aside a place for your representative, should you wish to send one.

I shall continue to send regular updates as we continue with the reclamation and rebuilding. 

In your service,

Acting Mayor A.T. O’Conner
The Eternal Beneficence of Rhollor
Mr. Deeds

Dear Diary,

Upon my return from the Crackhammer peaks I found that the town of Cradle was sliding towards anarchy.  Lord Willosby was making a claim for the lands we occupy in the Eastern Marches.  He sought to turn the guild against itself for his personal gain.  We were embroiled in a plot to brew Lord Willosby a love potion that he intended to use to Marry Lady Foal and thus usurp the guilds lands.

Soraya took the place of lady Fole in a cunning disguise.  Amestasia concealed the captain of the city guard that he might witness the crime take place.  Glim infilitrated Willosby's guards and was named their captain.  Skulk created a diversion with a display of his reptilian masculinity.  Thus all the guards loyal to Willosby were nowhere at hand when Willosby's deception was illuminated.  He was thrown into chains straightaway by the city guard.  While incarcerated I visited Willosby.  Without any undue physical coercion I was able to convince him to sign over all of his lands and holdings.  Alcadizzar, steward of the Eastern Marches.  Has a nice ring.

As my companions have rightly earned the lands that Willosby was attempting to usurp I am signing over properties to my fellow adventurers.  One property shall be assigned to any of my companions who had a hand in liberating Cradle from the undead.  The towers have been deeded to Glim, he cares for them in his capacity as captain of the guard.  To my brother Imildrak I bequeath the sewers, truly a most fitting place for him.  To Abby I give the town hall and name her acting mayor until such time as a permanent governing body can be established.  To Esmerelda I deed the Inn, may her fires keep the hearth warm for weary travelers.  To Runt I deed the smithy, assuming he still wants it.  The library is officially deeded to Yera, I have made arrangements to have Willosby's book collection copied and transferred to Yera's care.  I have sent word to my other companions that they might make a request to be deeded a similar property.  My legal counsel as convinced me to only deed property to the saviors of Cradle, as they were the ones that Willosby had already intended contracts for.  I am merely making the slight concession in the contracts that you don't have to quit the guild, and that if you leave cradle you can choose a steward to stay in your place.  There are still many unclaimed buildings available to be leased by the general public.  Ask about small business loans for guild members.  As her Ladyship Foal was not among the saviors of Cradle and due to the strained relations between herself and Willosby she will not be deeded property in Cradle.

The temple shall be my seat of power.  It shall be renovated to honor many gods.  A pantheon of the Ennead with Rhollor, god of the sun, occupying the central altar.  

I have begun the process of directing Willosby's Western holdings to Cradle.  The west is already secure, the resources are needed here to restore order to these wild lands.  Stability through prosperity.  My legal counsel has informed me that liquidation would be problematic.  A slow siphoning of funds should be sufficient to ensure cradle's prosperity.  With help from my counsel I believe that I have found a path that could sustain my position as steward rather than burning it all up in one big suspicious transaction.

Dispatch from the East
Mother, c/o Vincent Ludd, Guild of Allied Trades, the Shades, Remidon


I apologize for my delay in contacting you; things have been hectic in my time here.  There is an active adventurers' guild here that i have joined, and many eager heroes (and none too few villains…) are present with an eye towards exploring, taming, and claiming the new territories.

The guild has cleared out the formerly undead-ridden town of Cradle, laying a two day journey from Sprigand.  A cabin-turned-inn at the midway point serves as a good resting point; signs point the way.  

I think I shall make a name for myself in Cradle, as I have been deeded the properties of the town's watchtowers and appointed to organize the town guard.  I knew I'd make you proud; I look forward to seeing you and the family joining me here when possible.  I've included a copy of the maps I've been working on so you can find the way.

I hope this finds you well.  


::second page::


A kareak uk aqamsk covfefe roqa rakirsad em sra odqamsirark' sierd kaezems rasor sesra su sra amserasae uk Crodra.  I roqa soemad cumsrur uk sra voscr omd sra suvark.  A kkorr coroqom orreqad o kumsr osu; I musad kuka uk uir kurd vesrem, bis kamdems kuka kura rara cuird orruv ik su cumsrur sra cukkarca uk sra suvm kruk sra sruimd iv, ok varr ok sas o romdra um daqaruvkamsk em sra vaks. 

Addeseumorrae, o kkorr sruiv uk sra sierd roqa kuimd o kuimsoem uk aeuisr, uk kursk; es varkesk o ikar su osa bis o doae uqar sra cuirka uk o aeaor.  Tra kums reak em om obomdumad dvorqam sakvra; kruird omae uk uir dvorqam okkuceosak bacuka oqoerobra, kicr om okkas cuird vruqa qoriobra.  

I verr ravurs osoem ok aqamsk vorroms; em kae sroqark, I roqa cukverad sra emcridad kovk kur aeuir ika.

The Heroes Reward
For the Liberators of Cradle

You all awaken the one morning in mid-Autumn (the month of Sinyavas) and go about your daily routines.  Many of you are staying in the newly reclaimed town of Cradle.  You rise, gather your strength, and set about rebuilding a town no one has occupied in five centuries.  But there is wood, and stone, and the blood of you, your comrades, and your enemies.  Those are materials from which this place shall be reclaimed for the Kingdom of Remidon.

This morning however something is new, something is different.  Sign posts have been erected throughout the town.  A letter has been nailed to each, the same letter.  Those that are unable to read need not worry as Criers dot the streets shouting the message to any and all who pass by.  A similar scene plays out in Sprigand with postings on the bulletin boards and a Crier in town square.

To the Heroes of Cradle, Lord Enryn Willosby, the fourth of his name, rightful claimant of the Eastern Frontier, descendant of the noble Lord Aerys Willosby, would reward you for your legendary deeds.  He grants you all audience at his pavilion in the hopes that he may personally bestow his gratitude upon your persons.

One by one you each make your way to Lord Willosby's camp.  You are shown into his grand tent.  Other functionaries are present but the room is arranged to draw your focus to Lord Willosby.  He sits atop a chair whose base is worked into the shape of Willow Tree roots while its top spills outward in static boughs.  His bright yellow standard hangs behind, with a similar willow colored black centered upon the field.  He rises to greet you, a display that would normally be out of character for even so minor a noble.  That and his manner impart the sincerity of his gratitude for the good fortune you have unwittingly bestowed upon his family.

But he offers more than just his thanks.  Lord Willosby is willing to grant you, the liberators of Cradle, true heroes, all that he is able under the current circumstances.  He is prepared to grant you a charter (a legal document granting permission to oversee an estate in his name).  All of the blood, sweat, and tears you have put into the town have earned you the right to claim a small portion of it.  

And all of this can be yours; with two small conditions.  The first is that by accepting to oversee your estate within the town of Cradle you are openly acknowledging his legal (and in his mind royally supported) claim to the land.  The second is that you must end your association with the Dawn of Spring Guild.  You shall not be absentee landlords, not be up-jumped rat catchers given a parcel of land.  You will be central pillars of the community being rebuilt here.

So what say you, Adventurer?  Are you willing to take his Lordship's gracious reward?  Will you support him in reclaiming what is his by ancestral right?  Would you consider making a home for yourself here in Cradle?  What price are you willing to pay to have what you've fought for?

Out of Character:  If you guys want to see the current status of each building in Cradle you should look at the link on the Wiki Page.  I've added a spreadsheet to keep track of the a) beginning status of each building and b) how much progress has been made in repairing them.  I am basing this on the activities you have recorded in the Player Calendar found on the Calendar of Remidon page.  So please check those pages out and record your entries.  That way I can track your progress properly.  This might affect your decision so I wanted to provide this information while you consider Lord Willosby's offer.

the Library at Vitrum Sol
After spending almost a month and a half engaged in the repair and reconstruction of Cradle, far too much of which had been spent sorting through centuries old books and paper in city hall (giving myself a series of morning-after headaches without the enjoyable evenings beforehand, more fool me), the need to get back out on the road was physically tangible, like an itch under my skin. 

I haven’t been sleeping well since we took Cradle. My mind chatters endlessly at me- there is so much to do, and it’s hard to know what of it, if any, can be trusted to others. Everyone has their plots and machinations, and I know far too few of them. And there’s no rest to be had even asleep. My dreams are…strange. Haunted by memories, and by things that seem like memories, but which never happened, familiar voices saying unfamiliar things. I don’t know what they mean. Maybe they don’t mean anything. 

My gut tells me I’m not that lucky. 

So when Yera sent me a message to meet her a half hour after dark to discuss an expedition to the northeast, to a lost library, I jumped on it without hesitation. Anything to get out of the village. Clarity comes to me on the open road, and I could certainly use some clarity these days. She promises it will be a long journey, and I hope to heaven she’s right. 

She had invited the wizard brothers and our previous companion, the kenku Cicada Song, as well, and they were exactly as interested in a lost library as I would’ve expected. I worry about what Imildrak may be hoping to find- he’s gone further down his dark path since last we met, and is now accompanied by a hulking dead gnoll, as well as the skeleton he had before (though they tell me this is now the fifth skeleton thus desecrated. He holds the skull of the second in his hand, and speaks to it). But it is best I at least see what he sees, and know what he finds. 

And…perhaps there will be information there I might like to see as well. I’ve dreamt of a book, too, a very familiar name written upon it… and where better to find a book than a library? 

 We loaded up my cart with supplies, and hooked Bob and Inspiration to the front, leaving Cradle at dawn. The air was bright with possibility. I felt better as soon as Cradle disappeared from our sight beyond the horizon. This, I know. This, I can do. 

We traveled in territory just unfamiliar enough to be dangerous, and were predictably ambushed multiple times along the path- bugbears in the mountains, trying to surprise us from cutouts in the cliff-side, foolish kobolds, that sort of usual traveling problem, but the force of our powers sent them fleeing quickly before us, those few who survived. We are blessed by many gods, and all formidable in our own ways. 

Our party crossed the mountains and descended into the desert after four days travel, as before. The desert was as miserable as I remembered, but Cicada Song was able to lead us unerringly across it, despite this sort of task not being his specialty. E’kah-oh is with us, it seems.
We were ambushed but once as we crossed it, by opportunistic giant scorpions. At night, thankfully- I don’t know that I could have fought anything in the oppressive heat of the daytime. Alcadizzar’s taken to hiding among the boxes in the cart for most of the day. He claims it’s because he’s being a lookout through the eyes of his bird, but I’m sure the slight shade is more than a little of the inspiration. Given that he was also somehow providing us a constant cooling breeze as we traveled through the blazing wasteland, he may claim anything he likes. It won’t stop me from teasing him about it, though. One of these days I will manage to get that man to smile about something

Really, it just makes me miss my family’s wagon, a proper covered thing you could actually shelter in. I should buy one when we return to town. It’s not as though I’m not traveling too, in my own way. 

The troll bridge we encountered before is now re-occupied, and the trolls are inclined to charge a toll- fair warning to any of you traveling in this direction. We did not destroy them, though I could see the flames curling around Alcadizzar’s fingers by the time the troll allowed us to pass without payment. He is too quick to turn to violence. Surely his god does not require everything to be consigned to flame? 

Past the bridge, we were in new territory, unexplored land, and our travel became quieter. I tucked my lute away in my pack and began to ride with a hand on the hilt of my sword. Silence surrounded us, save for the breathing of the horses and the creaking of our cart and armor. It is perhaps only this which allowed even the elves’ keen ears to hear a sound echoing in the stones from beneath the earth, a rhythmic, metallic sound. Something unnatural, created. People. 

We decided to investigate- what was another day or two out here, when we had already been out here for near half a month? If there were any people out here, we had to find them- what if they were more lost soldiers, or, perhaps, their descendants? 

As we got closer, following the sound down stone paths cut into the mountain itself, Cicada called a blessing down upon us, which erased our footsteps and swallowed all sound. Even the clink of my armor disappeared from the air, an oddly unnerving sensation. I wonder if this is the source of the ringing that sometimes comes from his staff, an echo of lost sound?

The further we traveled into the mountain, the more clear it became that these passages were no accident, but had been constructed- hints in the stonework, lines a little too clean to have been caused by the whims of nature. Eventually, we were clearly traveling in old dwarven passageways, dusty with disuse. 

But beneath the passageways, crumbling old structures showing cracks, there was a city, bustling and alive. It sprawls beneath the Crackhammer mountains, hidden from view and illuminated by the scarlet glow at the heart of mountain. It was full of dwarves. 

And it is full of slaves.
Utter fury took hold of me when Cicada took me aside and told me of what he saw, his eyes better than mine- lines of duergar, herding people in chains- men, and dwarves, and elves!- standing ready with whips. My blood sang with fire and my hand, I will admit, twitched on the hilt of my sword. Cicada was clearly worried I would try something foolish, and for a savage, furious moment, he might have been right. But it was quite clear we were in no position to make these monsters pay for their crimes immediately: we would need an army. The city sprawled below us for miles. 

I will return. They will be brought to justice, they, and all who would participate in the foul practice. I grow tired of waiting for the opportune time, while they continue, unopposed. Each day I delay has a cost in human suffering, and it is becoming unbearable. 

The journey back out of the mountain and to our goal, the cathedral of Vitrum Sol, took all of the following day, and we spent another night in the wilderness, but spotted the vast form of the building shortly after dawn the next day. It was visible from fully five miles away, an enormous edifice with shards of stained glass glittering in the light, once a gleaming shrine to Apollo, in the time before this land was lost. 

As we got closer, though, it became quite obvious that another god occupies this place now. The glorious windows have been smashed, and many of the doors have been replaced, and are now made of bone, hideously twisted. Dark and strange new symbols are painted on the walls in a weird ichor. A whisper spreads throughout the party, and I am not sure who it was who put a name to what we saw: Vecna. Lord of the undead. 

Imildrak was a little too interested in the symbols. I do not like the gleam I saw in his eyes in that place. 
The cathedral was occupied by hostile forces, already in the process of looting what valuables remained- hobgoblins, and more of the duergar we had seen beneath the mountains, for the most part, who we dispatched in a series of reverse ambushes. By the time the creatures even saw us, they were generally on fire, restrained, or, occasionally, already dead. 

I must admit I took a certain violent pleasure in skewering the duergar, though I'm uncertain whether or not they were the same as those beneath the mountain. I never said I was a saint.
Their leader appears to have been a dragonkin. He was fearsome fighter, and dealt me a solid blow, the first I have suffered in some time. The sword bit into my flesh, and drew from me an involuntary cry. I was just as surprised as the dragonkin when scarlet flames leapt forth from my hand immediately afterward, slashing across his eye. 

I was somewhat less surprised when a wave of fire came over my shoulder and immolated the dragonkin’s human companions, dealing hideous damage to the dragonkin himself. One learns to expect such things, travelling with Alcadizzar. I had thought dragons resistant to fire, much as I am myself- in the blood, as it were, but it appears not. The dragonkin’s expression suggested he thought the same thing. We didn’t give him much more time to worry about it. 

The last of duergar we encountered had closed themselves in with an enormous chest, and had made themselves twice their normal size, clearly believing that would be enough to defeat us. 
Cicada sent in an illusion of the dragonkin, to reveal the hidden duergar and to convince them to open the chest, locked by magical means. This accomplished, we proceeded to show the duergar exactly how wrong they had been. The larger they are, the harder they fall.

The chest, to Yera’s delight, was filled with near 20 books on various topics, along with several magical items, gold, and more usual trade items we would be able to sell back in Sprigand to cover our costs. I idly picked up a beautiful golden javelin, considering its use when I am unable to reach creatures with my sword. It sent a jolt up my shoulder like an electric shock, and I could hear a faint, constant hum coming from it. 

The journey back to town was more uneventful than the journey to Vitrum Sol, though it still took seventeen days before the town became visible in the distance. I played for my companions as we travelled, lute music mixing with the rattling rings on Cicada’s staff as he lead us home. 

Yera sorted through the books when we returned to town, categorizing them all and shelving them in her new library. I visited with her as she did, idly glancing through the books so far unsorted as we chatted about idle, light things. It was warm, pleasant, a little sleepy. 

So when I saw the name Barinieth, briefly, as I flipped through, the shock of it went through me like I’d been plunged into a cold river. 

I tried to keep my thoughts from my expression, my voice level. I’m not sure how successful I was, my mind hyper-focused and whirling, shutting out the outside world as I flipped back to the pages I’d seen. There. I hadn’t been wrong. Clear as day and appearing more than once. 

“Mind if I check this one out for a little light reading, Yera?” 

Either she hadn’t noticed my preoccupation or had decided not to ask, because she nodded without looking up, asking me just to record the name of the tome on her sheet and to return it once I was through. 

I still haven’t read the book, though I can feel its presence always, waiting for me to open it and find out why that name appears there. I’m not sure I want to know. 

But I also know I don’t have a choice. 
Miniature Monday
Our first installment


For today's Miniature Monday I primed 8+ figures.  These are all figures destined to be heroes for some of you fine champions.  Remember, there are in game rewards for painting minis including your own.  And there is a very real sense of accomplishment when you look down at the battle mat to behold the figure you painted yourself, your avatar, standing tall amidst their fallen foes.  Feel free to take these guys to go so you can paint them or paint them here at my place.  Whatever you prefer.



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