East of Winter

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
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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.

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

Mother,

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.  

Glim

::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.

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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.

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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. 
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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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Upon hallowed ground

Skulk is more cunning than I thought. He convinced me to help him hallow his cabin, though I was not aware until the 11th hour. The reptile has banished my minions from his land, and I helped. I, along with Al, Jempy Drucker, and the enchantress Amastasia, fought off a gnoll hunting party led by a gnoll witch, while Skulk completed his ritual. She summoned fell steeds. Fiendish horses - I must learn that trick! We found their campsite and raided it, only to find something even more glorious than hell horses: A Fang of Yeenoghu, a creature of terrible and unholy might. He ripped apart Teds 3 and 4 (I never really liked them, they never listened, unlike Ted 2), and nearly felled the expendables, er… the party, before succumbing to our onslaught. He is my thrall now. Call him Berry. 

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On the Reality of Ghosts
Every court attracts its share of hangers-upon, barely noble, permanent court dwellers clinging to fragments of long-ago power and influence. Cradle’s newest resident, Lord Willosby, had been one of these in Remidon since he was born, but since the thaw, he actually had some sort of claim to land. Specifically: Cradle. Ancestral home of his family. 

It is absolutely typical of Enryn to have shown up after the hard work was done; the man’s always been a weasel. 

The sorceress, Esmerelda, was able to use her own court connections (which I really am going to have to look into one of these days) to secure an audience with Willosby, to figure out what he wanted and how much trouble it might make for the rest of us.

Whatever she said to him in their meeting, it worked- by the time she left, he’d explained his purpose and entrusted her with the retrieval of a family heirloom, a sword lost in battle with the Horde. 

To which Esmerelda earnestly agreed, and then immediately came to find me to discuss how to keep the sword out of Willosby’s hands by any means necessary. I think she and I are going to get along swimmingly. 

500 years can make any hereditary claim a little vague, and such things can make for powerful symbols. No need to give it away to just anyone

Given that Esmerelda and I are both…somewhat unfamiliar with wandering the wilderness, we decided we’d need at least one other to travel with us, to make sure we found our way to the battlefield and, really, most importantly, back again. Willosby would be sending an old elven woman with us to identify the sword when we found it, but she wasn’t likely to be of much use aside from that. 

The rangers either of us already knew were otherwise occupied, but Esmerelda’s kenku friend, Cicada (I wonder if I could replicate the actual sound he made on a flute?), introduced us to a little goblin (!) woman who claimed to be a druid and wilderness guide. 

Well, beggars can’t be choosers, and I know humans less polite than this Kawli, so no questions, no problems. Besides, she was three feet tall, we’d be able to deal with her if she decided to try anything. 

After buying supplies for the road and some mounts to ride, we set out, returning initially to Sprigand by way of Skulk’s cabin. Kawli was delighted by the free beer and even by the somewhat worrisome boiling pot of soup (what meat is in there, exactly?); I don’t think the poor thing’s had much kindness in her life. I doubt goblins hold much stock in it, usually.  

We set north-east from Sprigand, traveling in a light, misting rain (my hair) over grassy plains to the old Marches. It was an easy journey, and Kawli proved herself worth her claims, swift and unerring in her navigation.  We chatted idly as we traveled, and I played a few of my newest compositions. 

The elven woman, Caerthynna, was initially aloof, but warmed up to us over the course of our trip, eventually telling us tales of the dashing lord Arshan Willosby, whose sword we were going to retrieve, long ago lost. Not everyone would have noticed how her voice caught when she spoke his name, or the wistful little smile when she told us things he had done, but to me the story unfolded clear as day in the space between her words. This, then. This is what we would need to use. 

After a few days travel, an enormous totem pole appeared like a tower on the horizon. As we got closer, it became clear the heads making up the pole were of the monstrous races: drow, the devils, a beholder weird and strange, all of them stacked high and topped with a face that looked almost human, but twisted. Wrong. Kawli says it looks like a lich that haunts the dark swamps near her own homeland. I can’t blame her for leaving, if that’s the neighborhood. There’s something really unnerving about that thing. 

As for the totem pole, what makes it unnerving is perfectly clear: it’s made of the arms and armor of the dead. A monstrous monument to the victory of the Horde, thousands of the men and women of Remidon lost. 

We slept beneath the thing that night, and even before I was rudely awakened I had nightmares. So you may imagine I wasn’t in the greatest mood when a fish-person threw a horrible net over me in the earliest hours of the morning, presumably to attempt a kidnapping. I may have driven a few of them to fatal insanity in the resulting tussle. These things happen.
 
Esmerelda seemed to be in a similar mood after one of the fish people stabbed her with a spear, and flung magical bolts at them in a dizzying rain. Kawli trapped them with her natural plant control, and even Caerthynna swung upon the hideous creatures with good will (though not much effectiveness), so we fought them off quickly and took what small treasure they held. Teach them to assault people in the middle of the night. 

As we continued past the totem, we encountered a goblin, emboldened by Kawli’s presence, which asked us to look into a “bear cavalry” that threatened its tribe. I’ll admit, I mostly went to see what that could possibly be- as it turns out, a goblin who had bullied a marvelous brown bear into agreeing to be his mount and companion. Kawli distracted the goblin while Esmerelda and I snuck into position; when he turned hostile, I convinced his bear to resist him, and once he dismounted, he had little chance as a lone goblin against three. 

The goblins gave us some interesting items they’d acquired in return (one day, I shall be making deals with kings, not goblins, but treasure’s treasure, I suppose), and we took the bear north to more friendly climes before sending him on his way. 

In the morning, we set forth again, and further journey (led by the expert Kawli, who I was becoming very fond of) took us to the edge of the battlefield that had been our original destination. 

That battlefield…it’s a wound on the world. Every house in Remidon lost someone here, a sudden, crushing defeat. Even the insects don’t buzz, and there is nothing green. And it’s enormous- the front line sprawled across hills and valleys. We needed to find a single man’s sword, a needle in a field of needles. 

Luckily for everyone, I spent my childhood playing with a scale model of this very battle, laid out in my uncle’s study. He had been obsessed with it, playing out the conflict over and over, changing details, trying to find something (a secret, something lost, something Mother doesn’t want to talk about). Willosby’s little sky blue figurine had been on high ground a mile away from where we were now.
 
Once I was able to get us that close, Caerthynna used a locator spell to zero in on the sword itself; a beautiful piece, still sharp and shining after five centuries under the ice. We also found boots, with the painted sigil of Willosby flaking off ancient metal, though thankfully nothing unpleasant like the man’s bones. I’m not sure Caerthynna would’ve been able to bear it. 

Before we were able to leave the battlefield, we were threatened by fel armor and weaponry, floating without anything to support them. Animated by ghosts? Some wizard’s strange spell? Whatever the cause, we used thunderous, forceful magic, and the metallic forms crumbled under our assault. We left after that, before any other strangeness could appear. You never know what you're going to get in a place with that much death. 

That evening, Esmerelda and I shared a watch- it was time to decide what we were going to do about Caerthynna. We’d become fond of her, but we couldn’t allow her to return the sword to the lesser Lord Willosby. Esmerelda, as it turns out, has a mind nearly as twisty as my own, and a delightful talent for charm and illusion, too. Perfect. I knew a plan would come together. 

Caerthynna began hearing whispers as we traveled, indistinct at first, but growing in strength as time passed, whispers speaking her name and begging Caerthynna to find the child of his line. She didn’t speak to us of the whispers at first, or even acknowledge them. We pretended we heard nothing, and the whispers continued as the nights fell. 

We would need to get Caerthynna into Cradle from the north; it wouldn’t do for her to see Willosby before we could complete our plan. Kawli lead us in a loop around, distracting Caerthynna with requests for more tales of the old days and the dashing heroines that had existed then. Caerthynna indulged her, but grew more pale as we traveled. I don’t believe she was sleeping more than an hour.

Eventually, she came to us with her tale, and we listened in wide-eyed and friendly concern, leading her conclusions towards our lost-heir story as best we could without giving away our own part in the game. We suggested that perhaps she could visit Arshan’s tomb- maybe this ghost would be more clear, there. She agreed, and we bundled her up and fed her tea. 

By mutual agreement, Esmerelda and I gave the whispers a break that evening, and let her sleep the night through. 

The Willosby crypts are set beneath the chapel in Cradle; a quiet area Esmerelda came across during her lessons with Alcadizzar (one can only take so many exhortations to Rhollor, but she’d told me her fire magic was improving by leaps and bounds, so it was worth it).
 
We took Caerthynna, trembling and pale, past the long rows of nameplates, until we came to the empty three: Arshan, lost in battle, Bertom, the middle child, who had survived and died far from his home after the Edict, and Tane, the youngest, who had slain a lich in personal combat and whose skeleton is in city hall. 

Mist crept forth from the ground, building slowly, Kawli hiding her spellcasting behind investigation of the ornate inscriptions. It built until it blurred our perception- and Caerthynna’s. Showtime. 

Esmerelda drew forth a ghostly image of Arshan, and I gave it voice. 

It spoke to Caerthynna, who had loved him, of a lost child- his child, the true heir to the Willosby line. It begged her not to allow the sword to fall to Bertrom’s line. It reached out to her, wistful, yearning, and lost. 

Unable to bear it, she fled. We followed, and comforted, and, advised. So kind, we were. So understanding. What a terrible shock it must be! 

Caerthynna couldn’t bring herself to look for proof of the lost heir, something she and Arshan had never shared. But she couldn’t bear for the whispers to continue either, and what would happen if she let the sword slip away? 

I will say no more of what we spoke of that night, or of what we ultimately did with the sword. Those who were there know, and perhaps one day it will be needed again. 

In the meantime, I’ve started a rumor about a five hundred year old scandal that may or may not be true, I got to watch Willosby have a minor fit trying to pretend not to be angry with us given that Esmerelda evidently outranks him, and I earned enough gold from the affair to work out that silk supply shipment from the capital. Wins all around, a week for the books. I wonder what next week will bring? 
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Status on Library
Donate your unwantes tomes now!

Memo:

From:  the Desk of Yera Dream, Scribe of the Guild and Head Librarian:

To: My Fellow Adventurers

Many of you know, I have begun the tideous process of restoring the library situated in the now gnoll free City Hall in Cradle.  Any tome donation or prestidigitation spells would be most appreciated!

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All Along the Watchtower
No Goblin Druids were killed in this adventure.

As the Scribe of the Guild, I am happy to report that we have the proper set up for an official Guild Library.  First order of business, updating the section regarding Gnolls to insure we have noted Fenriss' knowledge regarding Gnolls being a Matriarchal Society.  Second Order:  Killing the Matriarch and hoping that she has plenty of tomes that we can add to our collection.  

Before being to invested with gaining new insight on Gnolls, as Scribe of the Guild, I must state that I'm not sure how wise wooden watch towers are in the protection of Cradle.  In Vincento Mischos "Upon Fortification of Watch Towers," it is clearly indicated that at a minimum the base of all watchtowers should be made ot of a heat resistant stone to insure against Gnoll fires.  If we are to insure the further establishment of Cradle as a stronghold in the area, the watch towers must strengthened.  Otherwise, any Gnoll with a torch will be able to burn down our defenses.  We are fortunate that while I took out the remaining Gnolls attacking the Southeast Tower, Fenriss was able to quickly douse the burning sections with water, or we might already be short a defensive structure.

I was excited to meet so many others who see the benefit of utilizing spells to protect the area. The party fought well together as we defended city hall where on young son was able to slay an evil lich in the past and a group of adventurers were able to wade through armies of undead and gnolls to bring Cradle out of the miasma of death it has sat under since the Honor Knight was struck down in battle.   

Until next time the gnolls strike, I have a library to scrub.

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