Dunstrand Rising - Gallants Ride Again

After the Battle of Eeel Cut
Harahd and the baron speak

http://www.incarna.net/set/srlm/campaign/recs/gallants/v7/2headingnorth.html#aftereel

Harahd and the Baron discuss the group’s mission and his issues.

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Returning the Lofflin Family Blade
No good deed goes unpunished

A long time ago, Lofflin McKabe was defeated and his family blade taken. It turns out he had changed his name, and that the blade was one of the Blood Blades of Umbak – the Lofflin family of Falcon Reach.

In an attempt to try and heal some bad feelings between the 2 territories, the Gallants take a risk and travel into Umbak to return the blade. They make a few new contacts along the way and things generally go well for them. After Fort Pavec, they go 100 miles east to Falcon Reach. They hear of travelers abducted, but rumors and nothing more – the authorities do not seem to talk about it. Traveling to the Lofflin estate 2 days south, they are entertained by the family, which pushes them into examining the case of missing pilgrims going to the shrine of Aerna in their northern lands. The Gallants push for them supporting them in getting Bone Shaker returned. Hands are forced, political games are played and an agreement is struck. One of the younger ladies in waiting is smitten with Kye and divulges that another group was sent earlier and never returned. – this as they are leaving and no other info can be gained (Kye gets the sense she really like him though and would not lie – perhaps he will return later, convert her and return to Dunstrand a happy man).

They return to Falcon Point – the river crossing and way station for the road to the shrine and the healing waters of Aerna. There they pursue a lead Kye originally stumbled on earlier, and manage to capture an Everdark Cultist. Jaq dispatches him after determining no information will be gained. Their ultimate goal is a temple of Aerna abandoned after being sacked 8 times by Orrish night raids over hundreds of years – considered cursed now and well off the normal road (which used to run right by it), the Lofflin family identified it as the most likely place for a force to hide out.

They travel to the fallen Temple of Aerna of the Golden Hem. Using the captured cultists signals, they draw away an ambush party and assault the temple with surprise. A plan is hatched, with the older Gallants of Mary and Jaq guiding the newer ones on making military decisions and assaults.

There is not enough time to fully assess the situation if the groups wants to take advantage of the ambush party being distracted. they see the old road leads past it and there appear to be a stable and main front entrance. They are 6 hours overland trek in the dark from the main road and any chance of help – even from unarmed pilgrims… they decide to assault the temple.

The group attacks through the stable doors; Kye is stronger than he appears and he and Jaq break the board holding the door shut. The temple is purposely made to look burnt and collapsing, but their is evidence of recent repair – hard to tell in the dim moonlight, but Kye has seen this treatment before in tenements where gang hideouts are concealed. There are three guards. Arrows fly, knives whiz through the shadows, and a comedy of errors causes the warning horn not to be blown, Mary to be dazed by a pitchfork handle, and 2 cultists end up with their guts spilled while a third gets away. The cultists appear human, but all have a marking of a black stripe down the right side of their face. Taelin moves towards the door while Jaq helps Mary (who took three wounds in the fight) up and Kye and Harrad stamp out a small hay fire and re-bar the boor with a new board. Taelin has the breath taken from him as he looks down the hallway and his Soul Gem goes freezing cold for a brief moment – the wave makes the three stabled horses whicker and Jaq drop (she is not as used to the Soul Gem’s senses as Taelin is) as well. Evil, hateful evil, with a hunger for life is nearby!

the group is looking at the open door hearing the guards retreating footsteps in the hallway beyond.

In the stables, we prepared to move into the fallen temple. Taelin flashes the True Light of his soul gem down the corridor. He says the fleeing man turned left at the corridor end and kept going… but that he also saw a pale figure with black eyes peeking their head out from a door on the right – we all agree that was likely the “evil” presence Taelin was feeling. Undead. A shiver runs down our spines.

We could hear a commotion outside the doors we had barred. Tiny had come running in – he was nearly exhausted but recovered when he saw us. He had come from his position watching to roadside fake camp we had set up to say that it had been raided – he saw a group of about a dozen split up and some go north, others south on the road. He estimates we should have a few hours before they realize there is no one to catch.

We setup boards and horseshoes to warn us if someone come in through the stable doors. We then set up a standard entry for the room – Jaq is teaching the “youngsters” in a crash course of how to sweep and clear a room. Beyond the door is a dark room, in which a filthy pile of rags seems to sit. In the ensuing fight, it belches black, oily smoke, and spits acid – burning Harahd. Its obvious its nearly immune to the maces and bows, but with enough battering, it lays dead while we choke on the fumes. Tiny scrapes it from the flor – its held on with suckers under it. Only bones and a few melted coins lie under it. We try and get clear of the fumes, only to be charge by goblins – caught in the bend of the corridor on both sides. With the fumes filling the corridor, we fight – Jaq’s knee is cracked and she goes down. We almost loose the light, but once their charge is done, the goblins have little to offer in the way of opposition and are slaughtered.

Taelin realizes that the remnants of the rag pile monster can be used to make a smelling salt so powerful it could nearly bring the dead back. He concocts three from small kit he carries. Its enough to bring Jaq back to consciousness. She is walking with a bad limp again – but now we feel confident to go after the undead.

through the rag monster room and up some stairs, we pass alcoves with strange barrels in them. Through a room with a collapsed pit and spear traps in the walls – Aelwyn shows his cleverness by burning off the paper holes camouflaging the remaining spear traps after nearly being skewered by 1… the goddess provides. On the far side, we form up and go down stairs once again. At the bottom we confront the raging ghoul – veins bulging, its muscles groaning under their own weight the hideous beast tears into the group. In the cramped quarters neither Jaq’s broadsword or Tiny’s flail are useful – they have only small maces to use. It takes a beating of 5 men to take it down, but finally Aelwyn lands the killing blow. We find the concealed passage leading to a narrow passage which controls the spear traps in the room we came from. Dark twisting corridors lead to its lair – and Aelwyn finds a passage through and out the rubble to the roof – but falls and twists his ankle among the dangerous rubble. He also finds the spoils of its lair – bones and “shiny” objects – pouches and purses with goods looted from victims. At the end of a long rubble chocked corridor, a concealed door leads to an empty room, and a fake, plaster covered hole leads into the fallen temple proper – but it is nearly collapsed and Aelwyn gets the sense it is not safe – especially for someone as large as Tiny.

We go back – its been over an hour by now.

Little does the group know, but one of the alcoves has a false back. Jaq, in back and limping, is grabbed by a huge half-orc with surprise and some sort of shape shifter takes her place. fortunately, standing in the rag monster room not far ahead and stretching out his senses for lurking shadow, Harahd senses the darkness behind him – were the Jaq-monster has taken her place. Its a quick battle, with Harahd surprising everyone when attacking Jaq, but over fast. The thing is revealed for what it is, and its long fingers pierce the priest only once before it is made quick work of. The group recovers and back tracks, now easily finding the concealed door. There’s blood – probably from Jaq (a head wound?) to reveal the passage of her attackers. But not enough for the rest of the group to think her dead.

It leads to a water filled passage (only a half meter deep) which comes up in a landing with a long-ago bent portcullis. Aelwyn goes through and it attacked by a large half orc who body checks Aelwyn (who was through first). It almost breaks Tiny’s wrist, but the buckler he was using is let go and used to club Aelwyn. The snarling, crazed beast leaves and runs up the stairs before the rest of the group gets through. Tiny’s bloodlust kicks in and despair permeates the group as control is wrested from them. However, even tiny gives pause when he comes up in the middle of a mausoleum!

Taelin manages to track the beast’s wet footprints down the corridor where the only surviving globlin fled – just from the opposite direction. We estimate we went under the stables and came up far beyond. Fortunately the mausoleum is empty – sacked and looted, and no undead visitors – but it did clear Tiny’s head. The group passes one door and tracks the beast carrying Jaq to another. Not wanting to leave any enemies behind, they crash into the room beyond the door they passed first – but its a trap. Rubble resigns down. Harahd would have been crushed to death had Tiny not covered him with his own body – but Tiny is badly battered. The group mus stop and heal up – wasting valuable time.

They finally pick up the trail for Jaq again, but it leads to an empty room. After back tracking a bit, a concealed door is found – the rubble make it easy to conceal such. A wet passage leads all the way through the temple complex. A torch is seen flickering at the base of a narrow set of stairs going up. Aelwyn moves across the landing’s open area, but his sixth sense warns him. He manages to find a pair of sigils carved into the wall in the flickering light – Everdark’s wards. They think about other ways they may approach the rest of the fallen temple.

As they are coming back past the way they originally came in, Aelwyn hears the horsehoe alarm in the stables and the group prepares for another battle. Aelwyn camouflages himself under the goblin bodies already in the corridor. The others hide in the room where the rag monster was fight. At the bend in the corridor, a quick battle is fought with goblin skirmishers, and Tiny charges toward what all assume to be the commander. A priest of Everdark and a pair of half-orc killers guard him. The battle is brutal, and a pair of goblins nearly slips up behind the group but is ambushed by Aelwyn before the entire area goes dark. Taelin keeps it lit with True Light. The dark worshipers are caught off guard. Tiny is the one they focus on while the others slowly dispatch rest, and soon the corridor is quiet again. Blood and brains are everywhere – the group is covered in it. Drums are heard in the faint distance now. It is surmised some ceremony has started – perhaps a ritual to Everdark. They have to get to Jaq. The half ork killers blades turn out to be poisoned. Tiny is laid low by the foul concotion, and they find a place to hide him in the rubble until they can leave – or perhaps Tiny may be the only one living when they are done.

They return to the sigil protected area. Harahd tries faking being struck down, and it lures the half orc from above. The half orc killer is lured by the body of Harahd and a battle is quickly fought wherein the defender is ambushed by the others – lured in by the trap. Afterwards Harahd tries to go past the ward using the dedicated holy symbol but fails and is brought low. One of the smelling salts from the rag monster manages to wake him up at death’s door. They decide to go back and maybe try going through the rubble and surprise the other inhabitants through the way Aelwyn uncovered.

Harahd tries stepping off boldly, but is struck down by Everdark’s power. Using the 2 holy symbols they still have, they try crossing the threshold carrying Harahd’s body and the flash of energy brings them down. Aelwyn sacrifices his own essence to call upon Life Breath and restore Harahd.

Little is truly remembered about the events in the temple proper. The bats, which would have served as an alarm are already agitated by the drums. The lone guardian of the back door is dead, and the Gallants burst into the temple. Talein flashes his True Light heartstone and the priestess of Everdark, cutting into Jaq’s chest to extract her soul gem, is stunned. Three half orc killers slaughter ten captives for the favor of the god of darkness while Harahd leads the group in prayer in the hopes some miracle can be pulled to save the group. Merkaine answers – at great cost and much essence – but the group is restored and with Higher Purpose – the defilement of the dark’s followers and temple ensues. The fire of vengeance courses through Jaq, who swears to the goddess if her revenge is granted – and she breaks one of her arms free and tears at the throat of the priestess – she will be unable to use her powers with calling upon her conviction through the combat. Fire is called down everywhere, faces are burned, the half ork killers are blinded by Aelwyn’s dirty tricks. Jaq is finally brought into submission and her soul gem smashed by the preistess. Goblins join the priestess as wave after wave of power smashes the group. Its insanity, pure chaos. Taelin converts for the fires of vengeance and Harahd has his energies restored. Fire keeps crashing down – smoke fills the air. Finally Aelwyn makes for the priestess, and manages to keep her busy with hsi whip while the last goblin tries to pass a stone box to her. Taelin unleashes his fury, his heart burns red and he wildly slashes out, killing goblins. As Harahd and Taelin finally dispatch their last effective foes, the stone box is opened and a form comes forth. Taelin flashes he store of True Light, believing it some shadow demon. Worse than some minor demon is the troll that springs from the box – but it is cast into the True Light! Under the sun bane, it sizzles and is blasted to near oblivion. Just as its armor begins to harden and form over it, it turns to the group. Aelwyn is stabbing the priestess while Taelin and Farahd go after the troll and strike it down before it has a chance to fully form. It turns to ash before their eyes! The blind half orks are dispatches and drums silenced.

There is commotion in the open double doors as a bunch of goblins burst into the room. Their mistresses blood is running down the altar steps and a broken troll crumbles before their eyes while bodies of their comrades are strewn everywhere. Blood covered the ground and the players. Taelin collapses from his fury and stitching up Jaq’s chest, Harahd just growls. the goblins flee the way they have come.

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Chotla's Vision in Umbakian Prison

Chotla seeks a vision and hope the hawk will grant us it’s sharp sight to avoid our foes. Chotla sees a vision of the prison, as if from above with keen eyes and through the stone walls. The guard is unlocking the door and coming down the stairs to deliver your food. You have sit for 2 days straight without moving, and he nonchalantly drops the food before your cage as you gaze lethargically on. As he does, he drops the rest and grabs at his waist, spinning and looking in Jaq’s direction – foolishly turning his back to you momentarily so close to the cage. The moment is gone as he yells for his companions, and they drag Jaq from her cage and beat her.

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Earl Vaughn's Army

In the name of the Count of Faer, the Earl Christopher Vaughn has assembled a force of local and Ducal garrison men to quell the Umbakians. As The Gallants travel north, they run into the Earl’s outriders and are immediately brought to his presence. The Earl has assembled over 350 soldiers and 150 levy, along with another 100 irregulars – skirmishers and light cavalry. They easily outnumber the Umbakians, but the Umbakians – at least 300 strong – are all trained and experienced soldiers, and over 50 are heavy cavalry. Magus Emjek of House Malor says they must be fought and dealt with – that all considerations for captive comrades and other concerns must be set aside.

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Through Black Omen Hall and securing The Golden Child

Chotla had a vision that the way backed was choked with Nurth, hundreds waiting for them – there are many side tunnels and perhaps these were the answer – but getting lost would be… bad. There is litte time to discuss – war drums are heard in the dark. The tunnels seem more clausterphoci than before. As they are debating, moving away from the stench of the dead bodies, the party met Nondarp, a renegade Nurth that volunteered to guide them – she “knows the ways of her people, guide you she can”. As soon as the party reluctantly agreed – after a brief discussion of killing her or not (her story sounded sincere enough – perhaps she was a rare sane one amongst her kind, wanting to get out), and the Golden Shild took her hand and she felt instantly bounded to the group. The darkness seemed to receed a bit when traveling with her. And travel they did, right into Black Omen Hall – the ancient and shunned home of Goblin King of Hungerdouse. A vast set of caverns and caves – the majority of which may have contained treasure, but were left alone in their quest to make it through. They encountered body after body – all organic material gone but for bones and metal and stone scraps. Off spawn, Orrish, Nurth slaves, all manner of foul creature locked in the embrace of death. Battle after battle – they turned on themselves apparently, or were turned by something. The remains of the adventuring band sent a thousand years ago – they all seemed to have died – were scatted were they fell. At least three were found – they all had metal tags on their gear identifying them, and more metal in the bone pile to mark them out as the party explored the caverns. Nondarp knew only of some of the area – even she dared not explore much further, but she knew of the ancient map scribe on the wall which showed the way out. At last they came to the silent amphitheater of the priests of the Orrish, and the stone steps leading up to their sacred spaces. The party could hear something in the distance – stone on stone. They could see the map inscribed in stone at the back of the altar and amphitheater – it showed the way through the caverns of Black Omen Hall and the way out – but it would be perilous. The priests quarters represented a possible treasure trove – if it was there. they decided to explore a little bit, perhaps they might find the remains of another adventurer. At that moment, a great beast of stone made its appearance – forcing their decision and causing them to race up the stairs. Sankofa said the creature reminded him of a “rhino” from his homeland – a large spike on its “snout” and stocky and… angry. The corridors were trapped – but the traps were old and the spikes and spears shattered on impact. They broke through the priests quarters and found one of the treasuries – collapsed and guarded by 2 of The Risen, wearing odd snake skins that bit those that struck them (and fell apart when they died!). Nondarp climbed like a spider to explore the area – a strange creature seemingly half spider, half… other. She got the crypt keepers to turn their backs to the others, who rushed in from behind and pummeled them to death – before sustained several blows themselves. In one fight, more than half the party’s health was consumed. Finding a bricked up wall behind the collapsed rubble looked promising, and moving the rubble caused a minor collapse and they awoke a troll that nearly killed Kanis in one shot as they fled. Nondarp concealed herself and it went right past her, pursuing the big target of Kanis. Kanis lead it back to the ledge where the stairs were, and like a bull-fighter, it charged him and he dodged – failure would have meant death – and the beast fell onto the stone rhino creature.
the fight with the strange stone rhino like creature must have been epic – the horn that could pierce the hide of the impervious troll perhaps the only thing that would have been a threat. Fleeing deeper into the caverns – Nondarp mentally mapped the way and with her excellent orienteering skills lead the way unerringly, they scavenged nothing but a few things from the dead adventurers they found – and they discovered at least half the group along the way – one nearly made it out, just a hundred feet from the exit. One was a priest of the death god and turned the corpses of fallen Orrish against their own kind. It was hellish. He inscribed true death in some paces, and was responsible for rising the fallen goblins to battle their brethren in others. After getting through Black Omen Hall – they traveled in silence for kilometers. Up down, left right, following the “main” passage Nondarp was sure of, they came upon a few minor defensive posts. They managed to overwhelm 2 bands of defending Nurth – they had to be clever and output the better senses of the Nurth, thankfully the dead Nurth and Nondarp was able to provide enough cover. At last, they encountered a final defense – too many to outright fight – especially with Chotla and Kanis heavily poisoned by now. Using stealth, they snuck their way through the last outpost – except Sankofa. He was last, and awoke the guards, and instead of running to the party, he ran away – leading the Nurth away and saving the party. The group made it out finally, after 2 days. Chotla crawled out, severely poisoned and barely able to move (down nearly 3 AM from poison), and drew out the Umbakians they feared were waiting for them. He claimed he was the only one to make it out – the rest died from poison. Who can say he was lying? He was riddled with it. Three squires took him away, but the others in the party overheard them say that the ones we left behind were taken captive – Fred the Necromancer, Alain the groomsman, and the war horse of Silvas – the Umbakians took them all. The party got away after that, taking the Golden Child north – Taelin followed the mountains base out of the lands the Umbakians controlled – missing the last far range patrol they had sent out. They fond a note in Taelin’s gear – written in Nakirian (at least its signed with Sankofa’s symbol) they must get it translated!

Captives! Chotla is taken to Fort Pavec – where he meets Jaq. He is interrogated painfully, and feed them with tales of evil, feeding on their drive for Glory – he convinces the Umbakaisn to mount an expedition and “cleanse” the area. Jaq eggs them on as well – he figures if they lose the Golden Child, but gain some “victory”, they can leave without losing face and open war wont break out. Fred the Necromancer is ordered put to death. Jaq explains where he came from, claims him an innocent, and that he should be spared. In her dreams, some obscure law comes to her – perhaps the wonderment from Radiance Bond – and she builds a case for Fred as an “innocent” – and then offers to fight in his stead, to battle to prove his innocence. Barely recovered from her lashes and last battle, she is given no armor or shield this time, and a sword that is as likely to break as stay together. The Umbakians seem bent on revenge against her and The Gallants.

the Breakout? That night, she is optimistic. She discusses a break-out attempt with Chotla: She says that of the 470 normal fortress staff, only around 70 remain. at least 60 are chasing the remains of her army, and the rest have besieged Womac Tower and will be going after the glory of attacking the Nurth – that leaves a skeleton crew. She has tried using her mesmerism on the guards – but the guards are taken from the most stalwart believers of the Lightbringer – nothing works on them, no trick of seduction or charm – she got a beating for it as well. She has a few other thing she can try, but without support (like charming someone) she did not think it possible of getting out. Now that you are here, she is willing to try. It may be days before the poison leaves your system, and she is lame in left foot from the old injury, and Fred and Alain are up for it. They will not be looking too closely at us and now is the time – even debilitated the way they are. If you can get the lock open (and she has tried to finesse with utensils and got a beating) somehow, and she thinks she can, overpower a guard, then unlock the other cages – together we can escape up to the surface, go over the wall and just jump in the river and until you get to the hills of Loamwold and the halflings… then go north back into the Saelish through the Burnt Woods and to the garrison city of Keptrich – from there re-arm and get back into the fight. She needs others to help her walk, and she is sure that she can help with the poison.

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Fulfilling our Mission for the Protector

Chronicled in 9167 by Jacquelyne Falkrik, Lictor of the Gallants, 2nd Squad >

The loping forms are three of the cat-people we killed earlier – they have been “brought back” and are witness to the power of the protector. Gale makes insulting alley-cat noises in an attempt to communicate – they are not laughing. They speak a broken form of our language – we do the best we can. They are to protect us in our own quest this new god has given us. This god-creature i suppose reminds us of Rastur from our continuum. The protector has sent us to his people in order for us to lead them into the light. In exchange, he will show us the way home. Thats the deal. We’re struggling with everything, Helvia continues to lead us. Her mission is done, but i am befuddled with the illness and disease from the sorcerers occult power.

I suppose i should expect it by now, Pan Ge’Diam’s influence is still so strong. Taelin is here – with his horse and pack. He is the rock of the Gallants. He does his best to keep us organized and going. We’re all wounded, and he does his best to heal us. Helvia eventually gives him the Ring of Bandage – the ring our predecessors pulled from another world. We are weary beyond below. Unfocused, inattentive, exhausted. They tell us we must travel across a gorge 400 feet deep to get to their tribal lands.

We arrive and debate endlessly on making a bridge from fallen trees and crossing with the horses. Gale thinks we should do this. The cat-people tell us that place exists where we can descend and ascend with the horses 1 day away. I prefer to go with the known, most surest way of crossing and we choose to select that path. However, as we discover what awaits us – small poisonous snakes, lizards, and massive snakes that prowl the depths of the gorge, perhaps a rickety bridge was the safer option. Regardless, in the dark, many are repulsed by fire, so we camp on the edge of the gorge the night before and cut some torches from the jungle nearby. In the night, those on watch are visited by apparitions of themselves. some of the group are touched and are altered – how i cannot say since i was so tired i was allowed to sleep through the night.

As we make to descend the next morning, we are attacked by some some of odd beast – massive with a giant horn that could gut a horse. I am last, and urge the group forward while i lead it away. It must have poor site, for i am able to out-maneuver it and it charges right off the edge of the cliff! We continue to make our way down afterwards. We are attacked by snakes, but we defeat the danger and move on. At the bottom, a mile long journey of switchbacks, we are offered two ways to return to the top. The cat-folk must choose – they are more knowledgeable than us. The way they choose was correct – for we made it without incident. The cat-people get Gale back with a fake noose of some harmless snake. Its a joke that not funny to me – Gale could have panicked and taken others with him a rush to escape. fortunately he had the presence not to. I have move the animals across some trouble spots, i take several kicks to the chest and gut – it fucking hurts. Good thing Taelin is there – with the satchel and ring, and the radiance infusing the area around us, i nearly shrug it all off as nothing. This is the way it should work for us.

At the top, i prefer to camp with the ravine to one side protecting us – but we move on. I am lashed to my horse most of the time – i cannot keep up with the 40 hour cycles, but i am healing a bit faster than everyone else. They take us to a fort in the jungle, overgrown, which was a place for their tribe. Odo wakes us in the night, there are three creatures. We debate endlessly, making noise enough to wake the dead, about what to do. Helvia order one of the cat-people to the top of the wall – their vision being much better than ours in the night. The creature interrupts our pointless arguement to tell us a charge is coming – we here a huffing and strange noises. One crashes through the wall of wood – but the others remain behind. At least everyone is up – i roll to the side, out of combat. On the next night i take a watch, another charges. Odo brings on his warp-spasm to fight to beast. Pointless combat ensues. I dont remember much honestly, i remember standing in its path and it rushing past me – like i was not there. I was so nearly stunned that i did not swing Bone Shaker – but i did. The battle was one side. I go to bed. Stupid beasts. I grow weary of travel – i just want to return home. No offense to my traveling companions, but i want a clean barracks, a bunk, a bath, a fuck, and 10 days of sleep – without any of them around. I grumble and push and we ride hard and knock of a day.

We arrive at their first camp – about 60 adults and nearly half again in young. We are met and told to strip – i order everyone to follow suit and lay down our clothes and weapons. Gale complains about them attacking. They tell us to go – i choose to attack. Odo follows through and bastard is dropped between my blade and his spear – but the rest in this little group keep fighting. Its a fight that lasts only moments. Every time (well, nearly) we do the right thing, to avoid bloodshed, we get taken advantage of. I tried to split up fights at the end, but they would have none of it. Well, even naked, we killed over our own number in moments. Our escort of cat-people, the primary one being named “Chief”, now stick close to us. they tell us that was not the leader, but a band of “braves” – young with something to prove. I pushed Helvia to go challenge their chief or champion for leadership. Apparently there is some precursor to the fight – a war of words. I am exhausted, but this i can do. My words cut home and their chief starts to snarl and ends up spitting on Helvia – who has her rage kick-in; she rushes the old cat while Silvas throws his sword. She grabs it mid-flight and cleaves the old bugger open. I have my back to the fight the whole time – talking to some of their people and making sure no one interferes. I am happy, the deed is done – i can see it in the eyes of the cat-folk i am talking to. We can lead these creatures away from their dark god and into the light. We can inform the primitive peoples that we have fulfilled our oaths and the land is theirs to return to as well.

Then i see terror in the eyes of the cat-people i am talking to. I turn and run, throwing the rag sheathe off Bone Shaker as i go. Ahead i can see Odo pushing aside Helvia as some tentacled monstrosity crawls out from the insides of the fallen cat-chief. The fight we really came for is happening now. I cleave with all my might. Again and again we strike the writhing mass. Arrow after arrow, spear point after sword blade – again and again. Eventually i end up caught in its tentacles. Much of our effort goes to breaking free and avoiding them – in my injured state i cannot. As it brings me to its maw, i wait till i am close and break free and slash again. The mouth is massive – it takes a bite from my leg – muscles grind and tendons shred – fuck, it burns. It nearly severs my leg below the knee, but i just keep standing still and hacking. Odo brings on his warp-spasm. All of us cleave and hack. Silvas charged it from horseback, still it comes on. We are all hampered by tentacles, and finally it hews a chunk in a bite from me – above the calf this time, through the thigh. I know its a mortal wound as i fail to throw myself aside in time. My iron will once again stands me up as the blood runs down my legs in spurts. I get to watch the monster finally killed. My sword drops, but i stand. Taelin rushes to my side. Theres blood everywhere, he can barely find the vein. When he clamps down on it and stops the bleeding i go numb and pass out. Even with it, all i can think of is i died standing up as everything fades to black.

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Helvia the Darklands Ranger

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HELVIA – the Darklands ranger; Helvia is a Ranger of the High King; She served her tour of duty in the Darklands of the east.

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A Brave New World - Literally
Travel through continuums to save the blood royale.

Chronicled in 9167 by Jacquelyne Falkrik, Lictor of the Gallants, 2nd Squad >

The date is… well, I have no clue. Gone is Trebleina’s tower and gone is the frozen cold surroundings of the north in Kaald. This world has none. Odo, Silvas and myself were exploring a mirror in the wizards tower when we saw Gale in the reflection. We tried to yell to him, and we pounded on the mirror. Maybe he sees us, maybe not – The Gallants have a special bond. I ask Odo and Silvas to hold the mirror away from the wall. At once the three of us were pulled through the mirror and dumped in a jumble on some near featureless desert like plain. We are dazed, disoriented and its painfully and immediately obvious that a haze of radiance is over the area. Flat in all direction, no wind – it was eerie. What was more strange was the 2 unknown people there with us. One was a half-elf, like Taelin. It was eerie how alike – even down to the Soul Gem they possessed. She had a feral glint in her eye like him too. She seem ready to draw on us, while the other – some sort of shaman or wizard by his animal headdress – seems to be more interested in the environment and how he got there, than us. Confident? Perhaps – or the classic absent minded magus. He does not talk much. Odo begins to get agitated. We are all checking our gear, and he pulls out a strange journal – it seems familiar. It is the journal of the Mejai Rabaddon – the dark elf priestess we captured on the boat. He flips through and grunts, growling under his breath… about the most emotional he ever gets. He motions for me to come over and shows me the contents. It is a series of drawings of monkeys and baboons. It reads “You rejected me, yet here I find you taking this road less traveled. Shame on you little monkey… stealing essence – does Jaq know you are such a bad boy? You will not rid yourself of me that easy, my little plaything. Well, the knowledge is yours, but the book has gone on to a home more suited to it, to someone who can really use it.” I turn to him with a questionable look. Odo swears he will never use the knowledge he learned from it – it deals with the draining of large creatures or sentient smaller ones essence on their death. He says he already feels the pull of the book. But we are pretty confident after talking that if he never calls upon that ability, his anxiety of losing it will not cripple him. Augh – it never ends. Malek be damned!

I rallied the Gallants here but kept my cool. Helvia (the darklands ranger – just like Taelin!) was suspicious of us, and waits for us to get our bearings after we determine no one is hostile, but the story she told came out like this:

She is a genuine Ranger, on a mission from the authorities that protect the High King and his family. The royal family’s dreams have been disturbing of late – violent conflicts. In one dream, the youngest son was wounded – and it carried over into his waking life! She was called upon for her unique skills operating far from friendly help. She was warned that a “rift” had taken place – that the continuum of Pan Ge’Diam – can we not escape from the influence of this place!? It must be close in proximity to the great Nexus to have such power. It had pulled another continuum into conflict with our own (perhaps through our own travel to it even? Are we at fault for this horrible situation?). Thankfully I have been tutored by Lady Geraldine Aelishan on such things and have a rudimentary understanding. It truly boggles the mind how many “realities” there are in a vast multiverse. The grand viziers and priests and such did their best to place upon the fluctuating powers a filter of sorts – to only draw like minded souls – those of good or virtuous outlook – into the time/space rift with her. And so, she believes us to be the result of all these incantations and rituals. I wish I could say i’m flattered – but Odo and I are both fed up with the push and pull of these continuums… I just want to go home. How did Khotva the mage get here? I am not sure if he is wearing an antler helm or has antlers himself! Nominally we were all supposed to be good – but there was some sort of power he radiated – it was terrifying and exhilarating all at once. I tell Odo intentions are one thing, acts are another. And Gale! We were reunited again. Always taking notes, always watching and recording. Some day he will be a great herald – perhaps for us, perhaps for some great lord. We are lucky. We have four of the brothers Gallantine – and a ranger of the High King, as well as some powerful southern magus. Strange road companions, but I felt confident. She did not seem trusting at first, but she was eventually won over – Gale and I are both charismatic. Odo may not be, but it is soon obvious he does not lie. When we took the time to look around, our mounts were with us as well (perhaps a result of our will!?). Poor Helvia could not ride – through the course of our time with her, she and Khotva were comical in their ride skill. Mules were well suited to them – and Gale looked like a fool on his mule, staring at Helvia like a moonstruck calf. My horse Judge was here, as was my husband’s war horse. We were both happy to be reunited with the animals who have seen so many fields of battle with us. However, the bond we built in Pan Ge’Diam was gone. I once again needed full tack to guide my horse – no longer were our minds as one. Well, perhaps when I return to find myself back in charge of the small army we raised, things might be different. I cannot wait to take the field against the Umbakains again – that was a conflict I could understand.

The High King’s family. This is some seriously deep shit we’ve stepped in. Physical violence… we have to protect them, they are the Duke’s patron and the only defense between us and the horde of screaming darkness in the Fallen East. Of course we agree – how could we not? Introductions are made. I have taken Helvia aside and tell her about the Gallantine Code and how we do things. I dont want to intrude on her leadership, but I have so much experience to draw upon and I think we reach an understanding. She is REALLY like Taelin – theres energy boiling under the surface always. I ask Odo to make sure I don’t overstep myself. I explain to the two who are not of our company about the blade I wield – Bone Shaker. How do you sum it up? You find a elemental spark specialist – a mage blacksmith on a floating city who doesn’t want to make you anything. Then convince him it’s in his best interest to make you sword of amazing earth elemental power. Then, out of spite, he still deeply taps your essence and charges you 10,000 silver. Then after you get the sword you create a civil war on before-mentioned floating city. And get a lot of people killed and knock off a chunk of the city. Its hard to believe – I don’t believe them for not. We set off, and after a while I cannot feel the mana flows as I once did. I was able to determine that the pattern is not set here. My meager aura sight serves me well, but I feel seperated now. The mage, Khotva, does not seem at all bothered. I guess I still have my blade and skill – its not failed me yet. I make a concerted effort to project myself in my dreams to the side of the High Kings banner – to imagine defending his standard and family from attackers… and it works! We battle under the hot sun.. but again the kings youngest is struck and his arm laid open! Upon this, he vanishes – I divine that he must have woken up. After the first night, I tell the others… and to some effect the Gallants rally to me and the High King’s family now has our name in their ears as we rally and defend them in their sleep – perhaps not us as individuals, but we are bigger than one anyway. We are Gallants.

We seem to be making this world as we go. I am able to lighten my very physical step… and I get off and walk. While Judge has served me well, sitting astride a horse all day can make me weary. The brace is hardly needed though. Other things, we concentrate four of us to recreate the north hillock of Braddon Bog and we have high ground – and bog! The terrain around is is like dessert turning into Dunstrand. I don’t make tracks until I think about it. Everything here reacts – all of us are able to impose our will somewhat on the world around us. We even place stars in the sky and turn endless plain into a road, which leads us to a city. Between here and there, we encounter illusions of ourselves – like a mirage or reflection from another time and place. At one point, I charge a group of “us”and pass through one – and I am holding Gale’s journal! Goblins too, we meet – in the sun. Just as I think they should not be able to be in the sun, the mage decimates ALL of them in roaring flame – it is truly impressive. I have seen Geraldine wield power, but hers is more subtle – never have I witnessed this raw power. things are not as they seem – ever. Odo asked “can we keep him?” Odo knows the rules – he would be taught the pledge – but I feel that he has come for a reason. A name he uses – Choural – is familiar. Silvas seems to think there is a connection to us. The dissonance changes and fluctuates positive and negative. All of us feel the horrible wilting and wild thrills of hope and elation. Its like being on an out of control wagon ride or bucking bronco. Now I find myself dreaming of what life had been like knowing my parents – but I do not lose sight of the defense of the blood royal.

We finally arrive in the city – a “model of civilization” – the guards are at ease and not hostile – a welcome turn. But you get one warning of breaking the law, then death. At the gate, our weapons are bound – secured so that anyone will know if they are used. Even sex is regulated – peace at the point of a spear, so to speak. After our weapons are bound, we are taken to exchange solid metal for some sort of paper currency. How ridiculous – what value is paper and clay markers!? Civilization indeed. I try and greet everyone and learn the customs. They are all welcoming, but something seperates us. We are taken to the council (just in time to man being sentenced to death – which he seems to accept fatalistically) and they speak at length of the city, their eugenics, and how they have been here for 50 years (but no one leaves and the city has existed for 400 – it moves around obviously!). Their voting and political process is odd at best. Its a wretched place, but my good nature and social powers serve us well. Helvia is concerned greatly about splitting up our three and Gale and Odo – but 2 Gallants are worth ten others… I tell her to relax, and that bunching up has its bad effects too. I, Helvia and Khotva go back to the council. We were honest with why we were here and they applauded us. We return to find out about posting notices for the city dwellers to help us look for the cause of the disturbance. No one wants other from our realm to come and make war on the city – a possible outcome if we cannot find the real source and our patrons send others. We all agree to seek a solution together. We will post a reward, but the councilman says its not logical – it is in the interest of everyone in the city to help in this, and no reward is necessary. The other have adapted to the 40 hour day – I have not. I must sleep as normal while they keep going. I sleep much and guard the room. Silvas gets his warning – excessive drink! Later he will sleep and I will walk the streets in the dark. There is only about 2000 inhabitants. It is a perplexing place. No one tries and rob me, and something is always going on in places. I seek out the library as well.

Odo and Gale go to the smithy, and take some of the rubies taken from the dark-elf priestess. They equip themselves with some strangely decorated banded mail. Lighter than normal – it takes a few days to fit. The library and school is sought out as well, but the efforts to learn to read their language is too much. there is nothing to discover there. I seek something on Entrophy and I find no more than I could in the Companions Library at home. We wait a total of three nights. During this time, I keep dreaming of my parents and finally I am rewarded with more than snatches of sun or stars, river and clothes. A vision of my mother assails me nightly. I am piecing together her story more each night. It cannot be real, I am unsure of the reality of this. I am a bastard.. and my mother likely dead. I cannot say more – I must look into this when I return home. I am terribly sad, my poor mother. She was very beautiful, and as with such beauty, it took a man to ruin it. I must blot it from my mind.

Once free of the city, I free my blade – Bone Shaker feels good in my hand, I feel whole again. I dont want to have to fiddle with the bonds in an emergency. I command the others to do the same – we know it will be done again when and if we return. We travel for a half hour away from the city, seeking a place where disturbances have been observed. We encounter – seemingly out of nowhere – a Justicar of Balthazaar and his retinue of three squires and a knight. As we get near, I sheath my blade, I dismount and I walk to him, hand up. I kneel in front of his horse and exclaim our service to his cause. such a man would be a powerful ally here! As he nears, he must have seen my insignia because he names me enemy and moves to strike me down. Once again I feel a wall of flame above me, like dragon fire must feel, and his retinue is engulfed in flames from Khotva. I hope they are dreaming and not brought here like us. I draw Bone Shaker again, and strike his horse, drawing upon my essence to tear earth power and pour it into it. The horse rears and the Justicar goes flying. We batter him, but I spare his life! We cut him out of his armor while he is unconscious. Helvia is tough to control – like Taelin. We straighten out our differences when he wakes, once he understands his position. We would be enemies otherwise, we agree, but must help each other here. I brief him on our mission and status so far. He admires my blade. Though his is no small project either though, it must be worth tens of thousands! His name is Sir Freidrich Donovan, father of the Donovan house (i know this house of Umbak). His brother was in his retinue – Pierre Donovan. We speak about his homeland and i find i miss some things about it greatly. He is strangely personable – but soldiers on campaign mingle with ease. He has seen more winters than he looks. We compare scars and battle stories, with Gale and Odo joining in. Silvas stays distant – his noble blood still binding him to his opinions. He exclaims that I sound and even like like I am Umbakian – I agree, and I very well might be, but circumstances limit me confirming this. He looks at me oddly. We argue about politics and border disputes. Gale cites treaties and agreements, against the true belief of righteousness. We cannot count on his blade long – he vanishes when I sleep. But he is alive, to take word back to his land hopefully and to the High King’s people. Helvia has interesting things to say about women and men, and women and women – as in fucking, sucking, and whatnot. Its a subject I am not comfortable with. And I do not seek to resolve this situation now. I like women, I am a women. Such things are frowned upon by many, yet I was once a man and cannot help what I like. She intimates that I may be wound too tight – no shit.

We are set upon by savages – large headed peoples stocky and powerful. We are forced to kill a few, but I manage to make sure we drive off half our attackers. Savages they may be, its not their fault they do not understand and there is no need to kill them. We keep traveling towards disturbances and eventually we come across a tribe of these creatures. I help Helvia communicate with the shaman. She must undergo some drug induced vision in the tribal circle. We have most of our weapons taken from us – I convince the shaman mine is a spirit weapon of sorts – it is near a hundred pounds for him to lift (so I have been told – I don’t know how much exactly, my own arms feels like its a feather). Helvia succumbs to the drugs. I must stand in her stead. I survive the smoke drugs. We talk – as normal. First he says he knows what we might be seeking. I try and explain in terms he can understand and eventually it gets through. She shaman says the tribe wants to be avenged on us. I dont want more bloodshed. there must be a contest. As leader, of course I volunteer Helvia. She is leader, she must prove us. The brother of one who we killed wants to savage us, and take out his vengeance. I make it clear that victory need not be death… the shaman agrees. The shaman and I commune more. I try and honor him and his people and he says we may stay the night only and they will help us tomorrow. I ask him to pray for us, and he instructs me to look up – I cannot describe the site above us. A celestial entity so beautiful it brought me to tears. I felt like my mother was holding me once again, I thought of all the terrible things that brought us here, and how far of a journey we had to go, and the great spirit made me see the bright path laid out for us. I knew then we were doing the right thing. The loss of my life meant nothing – Helvia and her mission must succeed. Khotva seems to dismiss it all – he is is truly a product of his occult perspective.

Helvia is dragged from her slumber as the shaman strips naked, and runs out of the tribal holy circle. I dont know what to do, so I follow suit. I strip Helvia’s clothes off and force her to drink water and run with me. I push and prod her, and eventually we sweat out the drugs and come full circle. The entire tribe is staring at us… well, and so are the men that travel with us. Helvia giggles and waves. I am embarassed. Silently, I don my clothes. I help Helvia with hers. She’s still a bit out of it, and makes a few gropes. I grab her and tell her she must face one of their warriors and NOT to kill him. We must be defeated for them to save face. Fine. She has a wicked smile, I don’t like it. I arm her with a cudgel from one of the warriors – hopefully it wont kill anyone if things go sideways. They join in combat in the ring of tribes folk. Holy shit, the tribesman goes berserk. He hits himself in the head, foams and curses and screams and runs at her. She does the same back – how could I have forgotten about the half elf curse! They fly through the air, both crazed. As they collide, she manages to nearly brain him with a jumping attack. He crushes her chest, you would swear a few ribs cracked. Even with the sorcerous armor Khotva put on, she is nearly killed – she crumples. I scream at her to lay still. I dont think it took much persuading, but I could see her twitch – she could have gotten up. But she willed herself down and overcame her rage. The tribesman howled his victory and I ran out to cover her, in case he changed his mind. Poor Helvia – her chest was a mass of bruises and she could barely get a breath. I left her to those who could help her best and made sure with the shamna their honor was satisfied. the shaman and I talk more. There is a tribe, a tribe of evil men. They are lead by some sort of creature – not natural. We will go. These peoples have hurt and driven the shaman and his folk from their homes. I promise revenge and an accounting. Odo trades his spear for 2 women. We will find out the next day his was a virgin! I accede to this deal but only as a business transaction – he does NOT own them no matter what they think. This is for the night. This man who traded, he brandishes his spear and makes a big deal of himself. I cannot help myself. I walk straight up and kick him between the legs. He does not drop, instead we begin a contest. Soon it boils down to a slug fest. Odo watches without comment – Gale is cheering me on. Once again, I am taking on someone way bigger, and I know with way more resilience than myself in my new, weaker state. That sacrifice of health to try and return Rayla to life really is starting to tell – I am nearly off my feet when I finally land the knockout blow. Damn the savage had a hard face – my hand is a mess. I ask Odo how many that makes – 5 apparently. Five impulsive personal fights that could, no SHOULD, have lead to my defeat that i have won. So, weakened, a woman, and without anyone backing me up, its still me under all that – violent Jaq. This is much to think on. Perhaps Helvia is right, being a woman is not necessarily a disadvantage. She bandages up my hand, Odo makes sure I am ok. I got 2 black eyes – I will look like a damn racoon tomorrow. Well, at least I don’t need makeup!

We leave when Helvia is ok – middle of the day. Her chest is bandaged tightly, and she looks terrible (well, shes a woman, how bad can she look really?). But, she smiles and we go on. Odo is caught up in the whole “2 wives” bit. Their names are “Umfoofoo” and “Feefee”. I tell him that he must take care of them – they are his responsibility. I try and give him some advice on satisfying women. Helvia makes more jokes and intimates more sexual things I am not comfortable with. I make it a habit not to sleep with fighting companions – male or female, but her arguments are persuasive. I admit, I am tempted. I think Khotva thinks we are fools – he has not been with soldiers before and does not understand. Helvia scouts ahead as she has been doing, risking her life. An ambush lets her past and seeks to entrap us. From a treeline rush three large panther-like men. Tall and powerful. We form a line with Gale in front and they die in a hail of bow and crossbow. Gale moves to impale the last on his spear and he literally jumps over us. The spear drives deep still, and Bone Shaker cuts him open as he flails through the air. Now the violence of action – I cannot help myself – cuts to the quick and I step in for Helvia. She just watches me in my statue of command – and does not countermand my orders. I hope she learns how to do all this right, she will make a better leader than me. We rush in further, I command no quarter and we mount up to use our power and initiative to overrun any enemies beyond the small tree line. We charge at some wierd child-man creature who screams at us to stop. He stops Silvas’ horse cold. The rest of us rush through, passing through his animation or illusion or whatnot – leaving it to converse with Silvas. The others stop and slow as they turn – I keep the pace up,my heart is racing, I will not stop – forward is the way and some of the others seems like they will be into mincemeat if he can charm or force them into whatever he has planned. The Gallants will not bow down, we are the ones who will dictate the terms here. The dissonance now works for us and against us, as always. But for right now, we are in full command of our powers.

We have visions as we rush in – visions of other Gallants, other people time and places that once were. From these places we take things in exchange for essence – the world is once again responding to us. For myself, I worry about my inability to change, and my fear of who and what I am. I am good, and yet violence seems to be in my heart. I find a little solace deep inside, a little part of me that says I am doing the right thing. Others take materials from where they are seeing. Gale takes the satchel of Bandage. Like the journal of the other mirage Gale I rode through, they are solid enough and work. We all are gifted with something.

I alone though continue when the man-child starts to question us. Its obvious we wants to parley, but my gut, my sense of emotions feels only antipathy, a feeling of us being beneath him. He “demands” to know why we attacked him. As the others try and talk to him, he even suggests that his only motivation in sparing us might be that we have nothing worth stealing. I paraphrase here, but this is no good creature. It is wrong, and vile, and I am sure the source of our woes. Judge and I tear into some black shadow wall he puts up at the last minute. As Bone Shaker strikes him, it cracks! My sword is knocked out of my hand, Judge plows into the dirt and I tumble like a rag doll over him. All inorganic matter vanishes. Ribs rack, I know my collarbone is broke – fuck, i feel it sticking through my skin – and I can feel my ankle twist again without the brace (gods I will miss that). His magical robes are torn asunder. Even he is nearly brought speechless by the power of Bone Shaker – in one blow nearly all his magical protections sundered. Helvia screams and runs to my battered form while the others rush in. I have no idea how I am alive. A combination of the light footedness I willed into this world for myself and Iron will. Odo throws the magical potion we bought in the city to me, and I fall backwards, into the grass. As I hear the combat around me, Helvia stands over me, looking me in the eye and assessing if I am in my right mind. I can barely speak. I am diseased too – a foul malaise spreads over me and i can see how awful it must be by the look on Helvia’s face. Blood is in my mouth even after the healing potions. I am unable to walk. I croak “sword”. Helvia hauls me up and we retrieve my blade as the other fend off shades and other magics. The battle rages. No one pays attention to us. I am limping and without Helvia’s help I cannot move. She is crying, and kneels to help me grab Bone Shaker. I cry when I see it… my poor blade. Cracked, nicked deeply, black veins running through it – shadow and void work no doubt. But its not broken. I am dragging it as we move – I can barely lift my arm. Helvia and I come up from behind the wizard man-child thing. Odo, Khotva, and Gale are fighting shadow creatures and trying to keep him occupied. I take the sword in both hands above my head and I tell Helvia to push me and run – it is the last thing she does before some magic washes over us and she is frozen in her tracks. Its not so much an attack as a fall. Silvas strikes from the front and I from the rear. The poor sorcerer has not got enough protections left after silvas charges him. I open the back of his head as Silvas sails over us – and I hear the sickening sound of bones breaking and a body crumpling on itself. I scream with rage and everyone snaps out of their fugue – the wizard is dead for sure as a crimson road founts from his head to the ground and he slowly pitches forward. Odo, I scream at Odo to free up Gale and the obvious need for the infamous satchel from our fallen companions past. Together, they force feed Silvas every ounce of healing we have, I scream and Helvia cries, and we all will for Silvas to be whole and hale. His battered form shakes and shudders – he is ALIVE!!! It worked.. the sky swirls above and we are infused with emotion – the sky roils with lights and mist – like the celestial entity I saw before. I believe the god of healing has been born for this world! I kneel and drive Bone Shaker into the earth. It is rich and cool here – like home. I slump over the blade – as I slide across it, it cuts. I don’t care as I roll off onto my back. I am on my back, looking at the sky, and the faces of Khotva, Helvia, Gale and Odo staring over me, and I can hear Silvas coughing as I blissfully fade. I must be dying.

While I dreamed of death, my thoughts went to my birth. I could see everything as if it were my mother’s eyes I was looking out of. She was a young and fair maiden, her mother matronly, wise and beautiful too – and one of the White Sisters. Her mother must have been one of supreme rank – High Dame Mother by her brocade’s insignia. Never had I thought to meet the head of the order within a nation. She is Umbakian – perhaps the chapter house in Havluk or Portia? The visions play out, of court -royal court, of a young man, of a love that should not have been. The passionate love between them was forbidden. I can see his ring glinting in the firelight next to their bed – the royal house of Teilhard, King of Umbak. I can sense the tragedy about to unfold. I feel it in my bones. But the dream goes nearly no further – only the look on her mothers face when she reveals she is pregnant. Its raining. I hear lightning, but there is none here. Shit.

Few things survived the disintegration of void/shadow stuff my horse Judge and I went through – only those with some mystical taint. I suppose I should be happy Judge survived – Silvas is still trying to calm his war horse down. There was no hiding anything now as the group went through what little survived. The spider embossed scroll of “emergency” – its effects unknown, is found in the grass. The beautiful case is gone. Two of the rubies (the others are power) are found by accident – we knew they had some power, but right now the power to buy goods is the one most appreciated. In a crumpled heap is the silken, web-like armored lingerie of the dark elf priestess. It barely fits me – lets face it, I look ridiculous. It fits Rayla (its hard to believe she is dead and gone) or Erin better – but both are smaller than the dead priestess. Helvia fits it – I will gift it to her for her assistance in our time of need. I am sure she will look much better in it. Sometimes it is not what you yourself can do, its what you can enable others to do. That is a good lesson in leadership. An appropriate gift? I don’t know – do women give such things to each other? I will soon find out.

I have to find some cover my self as well – I stumble over the broken bottle of Entropy. The glistening liquid is slowly being absorbed by the ground, so much for restoring myself through the boundless possibilities of chaos. It enough for my blade though. The entrophy and a land that responds to my will. I shove the sword into the earth, which it parts like butter. I envision the earth leaching metals from the dirt, impregnating the blade, healing it and knitting it back together. As I slump over the pommel, it twists and shudders. The traces of the mages brain and blood and my blood on it seep into it as well, and I personally feel the power of the earth in my veins and the flows of energy in the world all around me. I feel its coolness and depth. I will it to be whole. I hear the terrified scream around me and I realize that the ground is shaking under me. The earth – soil, rocks, metal, roots – all around me is sinking and compressing. The elemental spark in the blade is drinking it all in. Soon I am holding onto the grip, on top of a column of hardened earth and rock. I collapse after I pull the blade free, and feel myself falling. I don’t remember hitting the floor of the sinkhole, but I am assured of this by the pounding in my head. There is a small man with a hammer and anvil in there, and he wants out so desperately. I am alive – thats all I can think of. I am still clutching Bone Shaker in my hand still battered and bruised from my fight with the tribesman. “You look like hell”, says Odo. Khotva just stares at me and the blade i am dragging – the point is dragging a furrow in the ground and my feet are once again sinking deep in the earth as i walk. Bone Shaker is whole again. I dont care what I look like. The potion has knitted my bones back together, but I am a mass of bruises and ache. I am young, but I feel old. Everyone is standing alone… none of us can believe what’s just happened. Its hard to process this kind of victory – we do not know what it really means. How will we get home? that question is all in our eyes and on our lips. The rent on the continuum fluttered and sputtered when the sorcerer died, seemingly closing with hardly a whisper before we could make use of it. It seems just there still – at the edge of my perception though.

We take stock of what’s around us. A mage playing at being a mad god. Why had he attacked the royal family of Gladnor?

The accoutrements of the magus are few. With the kind of defenses he had – he must have been of the highest rank – he probably needed few. Defeating him was an act of pure determination and luck. Lots of luck. I jeopardized the entire crew once again for my own mad notions of how we best operate – but once again it worked. When i am proven wrong, will it be my death? Speaking of battle, we look to recover anything we can use. At least there are caps and shirts for me to wear – hardly fitting (or flattering according to Helvia), but It covers me and keeps the wind off. I honestly could care less about being naked, but i guess theres more of a thought to preserve modesty for women. Honestly, i think its just so that men don’t lose focus – by the sweaty balls of the Beast-Lord, its not like i have something we’ve all not seen a million times before. Well, at least Darian would have been proud of me for the unrelenting action we executed. There is really little here. A pavillion tent of animal skins we cannot take with us, well appointed with rich decoration for this world and the savage company the mage keeps. We do find several tables of glass trinkets, liquids, journals, and toys – easy to transport cheap reminders of home. Our enemy’s name is Orom. Odo wants to offer Khotva the chance to come back with us – but i think he has his own path to pursue. I feel bare and cut off from the coven bond Geri and fazeel and I have made… but maybe i can regain some of my lost mana i am forced to share with them through the draining of these personal trinkets of Orom. We gather up what items we can – the remains of his robes, pieces and tatters that radiate shadow and void. The protective value of them is gone but what ever link or bond they had to the dark realms is still present. A couple of rings, one of obsidian that appears to absorb light, and another of what appears to be a snake skin material, the flesh almost seems to be alive. Moth are magical but Khotva can tell you that the obsidian ring is some kind of fetish for quick casting. We will have time to figure these out i hope. Time passage does not seem to correlate with our world, so i fear not for the extended stay to heal. Silvas will need a lot.

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Lament for Fallen Comrades
Jacquelyn creats a lament to be read when burying fallen Gallants

Sun above and earth below
to march a darkened road we go
we are the fallen and the dead
remember when you lay down your head
of comrades past and deeds long done
sing and drink and thank those now gone
[Once Gallant, Always Gallant]
lay us to rest forever more
[Once Gallant, Always Gallant]
and when your breath becomes a chore
[Once Gallant, Always Gallant]
we will meet again on the darkened road
[Once Gallant, Always Gallant]
and recognize those who live the code
[Once Gallant, Always Gallant]

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Heralds Quarterly 9167, Q3
Anwin Retires

The wizard Anwin has officially announced his retirement. After years of working for the Council of Cerran’s Grant – and most believe the twin river powers to the north – the wizard Anwin has announced he will retire to private life. The lavish remnant of the guardhouse above the dry river bed that he occupies will go up for sale. Over the years its been the scene of a few conflicts, but in the last decade or so, it has become increasingly busy as the council has relied on it as a base of operations to consolidate its power in the area. Anwin has said he takes no side personally in the ongoing struggles of the Riverdan folk, and wishes everyone prosperity. He has repeatedly sided against traditional concerns in his tenure as the “consultant” of the council and used his power to lend weight to the council’s decisions. Anwin’s departure in 3 months will leave the council with a distinct lack of effective power and presence. It is said that the council is seeking to employ one or more lesser wizards to fill in his stead. Anwin has not said where he will retire to, but likely a more warmer clime – the Vale Evander it is speculated.

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