Chasing Shadows

Platinalia is over, and the celebrations have subsided. The merriment did us good. I’d have preferred we got a start on researching the evils plaguing our circumstances, but Gatefall’s archives were closed for the festivities, so we had little option but to partake. I can’t say I regret it that much, though. I think we were all in sore need of some respite.

We took the time to sell off some of the things we collected in Roanvel. We have ample funds now, and I took the opportunity to acquire reagents and new texts of rituals. With all of my years of study, I’ve never actually had the opportunity to so freely acquire such gems of the arcane. I will be sure to put them to good use. We outfitted ourselves a little more as well, with Tearwin acquiring a torch whose flame cannot be doused, and I myself thought some silk rope could prove useful. We gave to Tantos a bottomless pouch of a magical salve that will help should any of us fall, and for each of us a drol.

While engaging in our commerce, Orokai took up a contract from a man named Shepley to find his cousin Piers in the northern village of Deogol. The pay did not seem worth our effort (despite nearly bankrupting the man), and Deogol was well out of our way, but the task proved eventually fortuitous.

Come this morning, we headed to the archives. I headed straight for the librarian’s desk, encountering a young girl, practically a child. Hardly the sort of archivist I would expect, but I didn’t have time for that. Her name was Lora, and she helped us pore over the books. She assisted Orokai, while Rue went with Tantos (A trend I am beginning to see more and more) and Tearwin helped me.

Together we were able to piece together some bits of information about the Kidav Azhra’bak. It was originally written by a supposedly crazed Daremian, Kotheb Menutep, worshipping two separate Azhra, Ghorus, and Adibaph. Originally written in the Forbidden Tongue, it was later translated by Sharn the Dark One to High Mandurian. In the years following his death, it gained following and became known as the Book Of Corruption.

Most of the translated copies were seized by Patriarch Michael in 1279, and summarily burned. It was only later that Klaus Vermuth translated the work from High Mandurian into Low Mandurian. What these men hoped to accomplish in translating is unclear to me. The rituals are only fully potent when spoken and inscribed in the original tongues, whose very syllables are ingrained with magic, and in this case, the foul darkness of the Forbidden Tongue, with whose sordid lexicography I am becoming increasingly adept.

I can only assume that their purpose in translating the works was to more easily disseminate the treacherous work. It would appear that in that much, they have succeeded, for these dark cults still endure. But copies won’t do. The answers we seek lie in the magic and undiluted evil that is the original tome of the Kidav Azhra’bak, once held by the Order.

As the day waned, and we found little information to lead us in any direction, we were finally able to secure the tiniest of leads. We determined from some census records that there was a descendent of Vermuth living in Deogol — the same Deogol in which Orokai had a task. The Wheel turns, and conspires to set things level. But in whose favor will be the balance..?

It looks that our course is set. Tomorrow, we are Deogol-bound. May we find answers there that bring rest to this Vale.

- – -

My sleep last night was not restful. I dreamt of running through dark towers, and opening doors frantically, all leading to nowhere. By the looks on their faces, I could tell that my companions did not sleep much better. Fumus informs me that he slept quite happily.

Our travel to Deogol was largely uneventful, though it was with a twinge of unease that we passed the road to Roanvel. Eventually the vermillion countryside gave way to farms and we could see in the distance a large manor on a plateau. Deogol was in sight and we took no time finding the local inn and tavern, the Lusty Lady. We left our drol with the groom and made our way inside, the sun now beginning to set. The innkeeper, Derwin, was cheerful enough, and we sat ourselves down at a table near the back, able to keep an eye on everyone.

Tearwin and I had a pot of tea, while Orokai took to his customary bloodwine. The waitress informed us that the brandy wasn’t coming in..everyone seemed to be content, though uneasy. They had not heard the news of Azar’s demise, and we informed them that he was in fact assailed and killed by a hardy group from Gatefall who ventured to the prison. We left some choice details out, despite Orokai’s hubris. It did seem to relieve them a little.

Orokai gambled with a Dula’dim in the back and spoke with an Azhlorn who seemed to prefer the company of himself. Rue kept mostly to herself, though meandered about the tavern. Tearwin found out from Derwin that Shepley’s cousin, Piers, lived in a farmhouse just to the west of town.

I noticed an acolyte of Vrokahn at a table by himself. I decided he would be the best person to talk to about our dark task, and moved to speak with him. His name was Gailan, and he said that he didn’t know much but that the priest Aiden at the temple would probably know more.

Since the temple was also to the west of town, it appeared we all had a reason to head in that direction. After telling Derwin we’d be back for rooms, we all headed out on our drol in the direction of the the farmhouse. The general store appeared to be open for business as we left, though I couldn’t discern any patrons inside.

When we arrived at the house, we could tell something was wrong. It was now dark, and there wasn’t a single light coming from the house. Once at the door, it was slightly open…things were not right here.

When we ventured to push open the door, the foulest of odors barrelled over our senses like an olfactory explosion. It overwhelmed Tantos to the extent that he was sick, and had to remain outside. I am now certain that was his redemption, because the sight we saw therein was the most ghastly I have ever witnessed, I am certain. A man—likely Piers—and a woman, and three children had all been slaughtered, their entrails and blood scattered to form a crude shrine to Atmaha. Aghast, we left quickly, and after brief discussion, decided that heading to the priest would be the best course of action, and notify the authorities later.

We rode for the temple at the fastest our drol could manage, but as we left, we noticed a figure standing in the doorway of the general store, looking in our direction, and slamming the door shut as soon as we caught sight of them. We thought it odd at the time, but didn’t have the time to investigate at the moment.

When we arrived at the temple, the place was rather sparse. Aiden was the only occupant, it seemed, and he did not like us disturbing his evening. His mood seemed to change, however, once informed of the situation. He seemed keen to be able to do good again, and to not be bound the altar. He disappeared, and soon reappeared, now donning chainmail and wielding a mace. He had little in the way of friendliness, but had much spirit. We rode out immediately. On the way, I plied him for information about the general store. He said it was run by two traders named Ansaka and Grimian, who moved to town two years ago. Ansaka was supposedly friendly and jovial, while Grimian was dour and cared little for dealing with customers. Aiden had little more information to impart on the two, nothing that would confirm any suspicious that had begun brewing in our minds.

When we got back to the farmhouse, we began cleansing the place, both of the gore that had stained it, and of the evil that plagued it. Rue alerted the authorities, Derwin apparently head of the militia, and Snell and Ormad, a warrior and sorceress who were apparently the local authority. Ormad asked me about what I saw. She seemed very wary of me. Sorcerors usually are. I’ve never met another wizard who wasn’t part of the Order..and now that it’s gone, I may be the only one left, apart from Mourn, which is hardly a good example. So the only thing anyone has to base wizardry on is images from myth and legend.

Most commoners don’t appreciate the difference between a Wizard and another caster. But sorcerors and the like fear us. The scholarly path to magic, the desire to delve deeper, to learn and create more spells, to gain more knowledge, and through it, power, is what drives a wizard. That drive can be good, or evil, or in many cases of the Order, an attempt to curb the two. But to other practictioners, it is something to fear. I do not wish to inspire fear, and my words were soon able to assuage most of that held by Ormad. She said that she had suspicions of dark things going about in town, that maybe cultists had infiltrated the village, and that many shipments had not been arriving recently. She wished us to investigate it. There was no reason not to. If there was any link to Vermuth and the Kidav Azhra’bak in town, investigating cultists was going to be the way to find it.

Given that Ansaka and Grimian were the most recent residents to town, and that someone at the general store clearly did not like what we were up to, it seemed the most obvious place to start. We stole down there while it was still dark and allowed Orokai to sneak in to find out as much information as possible. Passing through the void, he was able to get in unhindered, and snuck past the guard to listen to them upstairs. Fumus insisted on climbing up the drain pipe to help, but there was little he could do without being able to get through a window.

After several tense moments, Orokai returned and explained quickly that he had overheard Ansaka and Grimian talking. They had very clearly said we had discovered the scene at Piers’s house, almost certainly implicating them. They also said they had to go “pick up the next correspondence” tomorrow. That sounded like it may be information or orders from a higher cult operative. Likely a drop-off…we needed to find where.. We asked Aiden if either of them went anywhere regularly. He said there was a small shrine up the road to Andara, north of town, that they often visited and gave offering. It seemed like the best place to go, so we left at once for it. Scouting out the shrine, we decided it was the most likely drop off area, there was plenty of place and opportunity to leave a clandestine missive. With some hesitance, Fumus agreed to stay at the shrine, hidden, and wait for someone to leave a message. He would then bring it to us as soon as they did.

We lay in wait, hoping for Fumus’s swift and safe return, and that we may root out these perpetrators of foul deeds.

Session in Sumamry

Quest Gained Seek out the descendant of Klaus Vermuth in Deogol
Quest Gained Find Shepley’s cousin Piers in Deogol
Quest Gained Root out the conspirators and cultists in Deogol
Returned 4 Drol Party → Maris
Sold 2 rubies Party fund
Sold 6 small pencil drawings on woods Party fund
Sold Vistani Buzuq Party fund
Sold Platinum bracelet set with coral Party fund
Sold Golden chalice Party fund
Sold White chalce with black pearls, (used for siphoning) Party fund
Sold Jacynth, decorated with dula’dim sigils Party fund
Sold Luminous peridot, “divine” Rue
Sold Adamantine Tiara Rue
Sold Dark Idol Allarkin/Party Fund
Bought 4 Drol Party
Bought Everburning Torch Tearwin
Bought 100 ft silk rope Allarkin
Bought Rituals Allarkin
Bought Woundstitch Powder Tantos
Current Party Coinage 1960gp
XP gained per PC 350 XP
Party total per PC 4154 XP

35th of Cathadan, 1744

I write my words now with both a sense of relief and of bitter disappointment. We have returned now to Gatefall from Roanvel, but we do not return entirely unscathed.

That night, we headed north through the execution room and past a broken wall into natural caverns. As we entered, Orokai discovered some viscous residue that was familiar to us: the slime of a Carrion Crawler. Horrible, unnatural beasts. They likely broke this wall into the prison, and lurked in these caverns below… We proceeded with caution, but it was unimportant, for we soon found orselves facing three of them.

The battle was perilous, at one point or another, all four of us had found ourselves stricken with their paralytic sting. Myself, I had lapsed into total paralysis, and if not for Tantos and his restorative mixtures, I might have completely faded…Finally I did burst free from my stupor and with quick action, thrust a force bolt to fell one of the horrible beasts.

Soon, the others managed to slay the last one and we took a brief respite after the ordeal. Orokai took the opportunity to harvest the beast’s brains, for they made ideal poisons for his weapons. In the process, the carcass yielded two rubies and a cache of gold pieces.

We descended the dark depths of this foul place and felt the despair of all the prisoners and every sordid act that had ever weighed on our hearts like a boulder. We became affected by it. Rue found it difficult to tread nimbly or keep her balance..Tearwin became mistrustful of us..paranoid, he gave us as much of a berth as he could. Orokai got twinges of envy and the way he eyed our gold on my belt did not escape my notice.

Myself…I began to hear things, I jumped at shadows…I still cannot be completely certain they weren’t there..Fumus assures me they were not.

Tantos’s movements became slow, sluggish..I fear the toll on his constitution was more greater than ours..

At last we arrived at a chamber lit by dark candles, forming a nine-pointed star. In the middle of which was a being that could only have been Azar. To his side was a Rage Drake, but was black instead of the usual rust-colored tone.

When pressed for answers, Azar told us that the Disciples of Annihilation were merely his “tools”, and that he alone ruled these hills.
I suggested that his efforts were futile, the ritual could not be completed with the prisoners safely out of reach of the sacrificial chamber. His confidence to the contrary was genuine. He assured me that the ritual was completed already. I endeavored to recall everything I had read about the ritual from the book of excerpts..the ritual described therein could only be completed at the sacrificial circle..but references were made in the Forbidden Tongue (of Which I still only have a rudimentary understanding, more on that later) to the Kedav Azhra’bak itself, and of a ritual that may in fact be paid with a tax on the victim’s soul and not their blood…

This thought terrified me. If the ritual was in fact completed, then the “beast of nothing”, whatever that might be, was already summoned.

We had no further time for answers from Azar. He made a chant in the Forbidden Tongue and all the candles turned to utter blackness, that even our sunrods and my magic could not illuminate.

Having slain Azar’s companion beast, we ventured to destroy the dark structures generating this shadow, but this task was to be principally Orokai’s, as only his ancestry gave him the mental defenses capable of withstanding the assault on the mind delivered by the evil shadows.

Azar seemed capable of flitting in and out of this magic darkness, dashing in to strike at us before disappearing again. We worked to hamper his movements, with Tearwin’s wintry form and my own guardian blades of force. I also greased the ground in the midst of the shadow and drew Azar in to trip him up.

But things soon grew bleak. When Orokai fell to Azar’s blade, Tantos rushed (as soon as his malady allowed him) to his aid with a potion, giving Orokai the recovery he needed to press on. But before Tantos could dodge out of the way, a blade stabbed from out of the shadows through Tantos’s chest. I turned and stared. The battle seemed to slow, and the room spun. I can’t say why this boy elicited such concern from me, but he did..and there he lay dying..

Rue herself turned, and she seemed visibly distressed by this (a rare occurrence). She summoned her powers to grant Tantos a recovery, and I told him to fall back to the caves with Fumus. Again, we are indebted to him.

Once all of the dark shadow had been eliminated, Azar’s ability to appear in and out of the room appeared unaffected.

Tearwin having been struck from behind, we realized that he could use any of the shadows to appear at his whim…with Tearwin’s sunrod at the fore, I cast a magic light on the strap binding his hair to ensure Tearwin had no shadow. Orokai lit his own sunrod, and Rue mounted one in the felled drake to make sure Azar could not make use if its shadow. Orokai used one of the candlestands to keep his sunrod lit, and gave me the other, which I used a magic hand to hold high in the air. I dropped to the ground and urged Tantos to do the same, ensuring enough light in the room to prevent Azar from appearing anywhere but the cave entrance. It was there that the others maneuvered to attack him. I did what I could, firing unerring bolts towards Azar.

In a flash, I saw Rue gain the advantage, and with a quick motion, her scimitar separated Azar’s head, sending it flying across the room. Our task completed, relief washed over us as we headed back up to the prison to see the other captives. Our maladies seemed to have left us, but Tantos remained sluggish, and even pallid now..
When we got to the room with the other prisoners, they all appeared much the same. They all seemed despondent, and only Kerrwin was able to talk to us..they said this happened only a moment ago, and nobody had entered the room..and soon, we saw, a dark void had manifested itself on all of their chests. I wracked my brain but I could not explain any of this.

After a bit of discussion, it was decided all we could do was venture back to Gatefall and look for answers there. On the way, we talked with a few of them. Kerrwin asked me if the deeds they suffered could have had a dark design, beyond simple sadism. I told him, with a heavy heart, that I surmised as much. My only thoughts were that the answers lay in the Kedav Azhra’Bak. Voicing these concerns, it was Tearwin that suggested we look for it, even at the Citadel if necessary. I do not think there would be much use…the Citadel was empty, and besides, I do not know where the Vaults were. They had to be on the grounds of the Citadel, even within its halls, but cleverly and almsot certainly magically hidden. Only the Wizard Eminent and his most trusted Magisters knew where and how to access the Vaults. But perhaps…there was a way..

Perhaps we could find the Kedav Azhra’bak, and its noble balance, the Librum of Scales..

Tearwin and I tried to speak to Evelac. If this was the true Evelac, the once Wizard Eminent from centuries ago, and displaced by the sorcery that obliterated the Order, then he would know where the Vaults were located. We pressed him. He was barely lucid, but for a moment, he recognized the Kedav Azhra’bak and its dark portent. He said that he knew of the wizard assigned to research the Kedav Azhra’bak..and his name was Mourn. Of course it was him.

I do not know how the Mourn of my own time was known to the Evelac of ages ago. Perhaps whatever foul power the Disciples of Annihilation posses allows Mourn to walk through chapters of time like flipping through pages of a book…giving him access to the Order’s formative years to further his cruel machinations..or perhaps Mourn was from that time, and was only later brought to my own day and age..I cannot say. This magic is strange to me, and I will have to research further. Whatever our course, it seems that it will wind back to The One City, and maybe even the Citadel itself…we will begin our research in Gatefall, and decide further from there.

Azar’s lair held a few boons for us. Myself, I was able to increase the power and resilience of my staff. Enchanted armors were found for the others, and a fabled bag of holding now holds all of our treasures.

We were paid as promised by Councillor Maris. He displayed Azar’s head prominently on a pike, which I ensured with wards would not rot. The captives went to their homes, despite their dark illness. Tantos had no home, so he decided to stay with us. I figured as much from the moment he began following us. Tomorrow is Platinalia, and celebrations are in full swing. Having little knowledge of religion beyond that of the scholarly, I cannot say I have the same feelings about it as the townsfolk, nor do the rest of our party, but I cannot deny that the merriment is at least a good change of pace from the gloom we have endured the past few days. Fumus is glad to be able to walk about town without fear, and often goes without me, though always returns to my side.

The revelry will soon end, however, and we will begin our research. I made certain that Maris would ensure us unlimited access to all archives within the city. Tomorrow is another turn of the Wheel, and our fate lies in the knowledge held in dusty tomes and decrepit volumes. That could prove to be an adventure all on its own.

Session in Summary

Quest Completed Return to Gatefall with Azar’s head
Quest Completed Rescue the nine prisoners (100 gp each)
Acquired 2 rubies Party Fund
Acquired 110 gp Party Fund
Acquired Bag of Holding Party Fund
Acquired Defensive Staff + 2 Allarkin
Acquired Frostwolf Pelt Tearwin
Acquired Dragontooth Shield Rue
Acquired Elusive Armor Orokai
XP gained per PC 750 XP
Party total per PC 3804 XP (Level 4 gained)
Judge and Crone

33rd of Cathadan (Continued)

Having rescued Kaliyah, the Mother (or at least, the caretaker of a Gatefall orphanage) we had only two captives left: the Judge and the Crone. We have little time left, so we headed quickly through the jail’s right hand passage.

It was there that we met the most horrible scene in this foul place yet. Orokai went first, and I sent Fumus along. The scene was disturbed him so much (itself no easy feat) that he soon returned to fetch myself and the others. Though I felt Fumus’s disturbance in my mind, even that could not prepare me for what we saw. The middle of the room was occupied by a rack on which Dula’dim figure was stretched, alive but unconcious and clearly tortured, his blood staining much of the rack and floor. The handiwork could only have been that of the skeletal figure in the corner, who was using the blood to paint foul images, whose dark imagery was only made further morbid by their sanguine providence.

I knew at once he was undead, and he called himself Dathrakus, and he seemed to care little for Azar or the Cult of Annihilation, calling them “foolish nihilists”. Though I agreed with him on this point, I could abide little else about him. He said that the Dula’dim figure must die, for little reason other than his amusement and his dreadful pastiches. He promised to let him go in return for Azar’s death, but we had not the time to deal with Azar in order to rescue this man. Though I tried to make a deal with him in exchange for what I believed to be a common enemy — Mourn (someone whom I would have gladly brought to an end anyway — he seemed to find the notion trivial, and brushed it off. “Mourn is nothing compared to Goros”, he said. He alligned himself with a group called the Cult of Rebirth, apparently the antithesis of the Cult of Annihilation, but only ensuring that everything alive was given rebirth in undeath. Neither of these extremes seem to understand anything about the world, and I fear that their conflict could grow, and ravage Novendragos once again.

Despite Rue’s best attempts to broker an accord, Tearwin and I would not hold court with this evident evil, nor would he make Rue any agreeable offer. Only in battle would disputes be settled. He was a formidable foe, his dark powers confounded us at ever turn, He seemed to drink the very life force out of us to restore his own. When the tide seemed, at last, to turn in our favor, he faded to mist and said that we would meet again.

Our greatest foes elude us this day, it seems. And though Mourn I have every desire to seek out and bring to justice, I cannot say with vigor that I would like again to meet the undead character again. But that will be decided by the Wheel…
The others rushed the dula’dim to the other captives to minister to his wounds. I took the time to burn Dathrakus’s reviling portraits and seize what was of use in the room. A curious onyx statuette of a hound caught my eye. It was humming with arcane energy, and I soon realized it was like the guard hounds of old, meant to protect a wizard without companions. I decided it may end up being useful in the future. Fumus thinks it’s worthless and unworthy of such a fine wizard as myself. It is rare for Fumus (loyal, though he is) to show such deference. It is even rarer that it is genuine.

By the time I returned to the others, the Dula’dim was recovering well enough to speak. His name was Haatim, and he was, as I had surmised, the Judge, and sat on the council of nearby Forgehold. Caught by the bandits while on a caravan, he was the only one to survive. He did not count himself lucky after enduring Dathrakus’s machinations. I could not blame him. But with one more captive to rescue and Azar still on the loose, we had much to do, and we proceeded back through the large doors on the jail’s north wall. We quickly rushed into the large room and encountered another complement of bandits. Having swiftly felled most of them, the last one standing begged for mercy and to be allowed to return to the One City (being Shunya’dim). We decided to bind him in the care of the captives and have him taken back to be tried.
We unchained a woman then, her age showing her to be the Crone of the ritual, and the final captive we needed to rescue. Returning her to the others, we found that some mysticism combined her own aura with those of the Mother and the Maiden seemed to grant us a rejuvenation, and lifted much of the toll that the past day had taken on us. This divine power is foreign to me, but I cannot deny that it was much needed. We are about to set off to eliminate Azar. Should this spellbook be found, then you can assume we have failed. If that is the case, then this book may as well not exist, for soon nothing else will either.

Session in Summary

Acquired Onyx Dog Allarkin
Acquired 6 Small pencil drawings on woods Party fund
Acquired Vistani Bazuk Party fund
Acquired Platinum bracelet set with coral Party fund
Acquired Baffling Cape +1 Allarkin
Acquired Knife-thrower’s Gloves Orokai
Acquired Gorilla Gloves Tearwin
XP gained per PC 468 XP
Party total per PC 3054 XP
Order Imbalanced

32nd of Cathadan (Continued)

We soon released the boy from his bonds and he told us he was called Tantos. Apparently a street urchin from Gatefall, he was taken while he slept. But the night before he was taken, he said he dreamt of a wheel coming to take him away. This gave me pause. Oneiromancy is a strange magic and imprecise at best, but I cannot help but wonder about his weel, and could it be the Wheel? This alone may be conspicuous enough. But “Tantos”, I have learned, is an old High Mandurian word meaning Balance. And the boy—it did not escape my notice—used the third hand of a mage to open a secret passage. He is gifted, and in more ways than a wizard. He is clairvoyant. He has an urge to stay near me, and I find myself unable to reprimand him for it. Perhaps he needs a mentor. There are very few places for an apprentice of the spellbook in these lands. Left to his own devices, he would likely delve into chaotic sorcery, or worse, make a pact with an Azhra. Regardless of the boyís dream, it can only sign to me that the Wheel itself is turning, and drawing us inevitably towards its hub.

But there are more pressing matters at hand. The cache he revealed provided many useful items. For myself, there were goggles, and with them I could better discern reality from artifice. Boots for Orokai, a flail for Tearwin, and a suit of mail for Rue. Enchanted, all.

We have now retired to the area with all the prisoners, and have decided we can go no longer without rest. We rest now, and hope that our fate tomorrow is as fortuitous.

33rd of Cathadan, 1744

Our rest earlier was halted by a scream from the kitchens. We rushed that way and found one of the bandits biting a finger off of a captiveís hand. Making quick work of the fiends, we rushed to the aid of the captive. Finely dressed, I identified him as the Noble from the ritual, and he quickly assured as much. His name is Von Drakken and his family is one of the oldest landholders in the Silver Vale. Allowing him to retreat to the relative safety of the captivesí fortified room, we pressed forward through the area north of the dining room.

As we entered, I went cold. I saw Mourn. He was a Master at the Citadelís academy. I myself had lessons with him. He was a despicable teacher. Fumus agrees (and he is rarely keen to care so much about mortal matters.) But he was from the Order, and unlike Evelac, coherent. My mind reeling, I tried speaking with him. But to my utter revulsion, he had little concern for the Order. He seemed to acknowledge that I was all that was left (his own sordid visage notwithstanding. He said that ìnothingî was all that mattered, that all would become one with the void. Not only had he abandoned balance, he had clearly become himself imbalanced. He attempted to persuade Orokai, as a fellow Shunya’dim, to join the cause of nothing. He piqued Rue with talk of her relation with the Beast of the Hallowed Hall of the One. And he taunted Tearwin with talk of his peopleís missing dragon.

Though cold I may have entered that room, my blood turned to fire as I listened to his words, the children of an addled brain. The thought that he would taunt them this way, and that he may have been responsible for what happened to the Order was more than I could bare. He would pay.

But it was not to be, this day. As blade and spark flew, as my comrades fell, and as Tantos—as I somehow should have known he would—saved us and kept Rue from fading away from us, Mourn used his ancestral powers of void assumption to escape the fray, saying we would meet again in the Land of Shadow. For his sake, he had better hope not.

The one unfortunate soul left in that room after Mourn was relieved of his head by my magic bolt, his face only inches away from the top of my staff. Mourn will not be so lucky.

My complete and utter anger drove me, and we moved quickly. The girl in one of the jailís cages was rather young, and though I had enough focus to identify her as the Maiden, and note that her name was Roxine, I had little care at this point for pleasantries and we endeavored forward, through the left hand door at the north wall of the jail. As the others rushed into the room to engage more bandits, I made my way to the bulk of them, not caring for whatever blade may strike me. With my anger fueling my every move, I raised my staff and reached into my very consciousness, and realized something I had not before.

There is more to magic than cold, unfeeling, silvered force. There is great power, too, in light, and color, and brilliance. I let that power pour through me and unleashed it, searing all that stood before me. Against us, these bandits stood little chance. And with this newfound power, as I consider what balance really means, what my studies really amount to, and what my new companions are capable of, I doubt Azar stands much chance either.

Session in Summary

Acquired Boots of Fencing Master Orokai
Acquired Cynic’s Goggles Allarkin
Acquired Flail of Guardian’s Call Tearwin
Acquired Exalted Armor Rue
Acquired 260 gp party fund
Acquired 605 gp party fund
Acquired 170 gp party fund
Acquired Golden Chalice party fund
Acquired White chalice with black pearls, (used for siphoning) party fund
Acquired Jacynth, decorated with dula’dim sigils Party fund
XP gained per PC 692 XP
Party total per PC 2586 XP (Level 3 gained)
Grease and Shadow

32nd of Cathadan (continued)

We headed through the exit north then, and quickly disposed of a few archers in our way through the corridor. We could hear a scream from the next room, and Tearwin quickly busted through the door. There we could see a girl on the table, and the head of the bandits in this room was finishing having his way with the girl. I feel little connection to my native land or its people, but something very primal in me felt outrage at this violation, a violation surely more of humanity than Daremia itself.

We set to right this wrong and eliminate this scum. The bandits were typically quick work, though the menace himself had some form of invisible trickery. But soon he, too was, sent to his end.

The girl’s clothing was now rags, so I gave her the robes I had taken earlier. She introduced herself as Yserone, and told us of her capture. I determined her to represent the Dancer from the ritual. We had two of the nine safe, but time was running out before Platinalia. Tearwin took Yserone to be safe with Kirwin. We found an enchanted scimitar (Which Rue gladly took) and a key similar to the one found in Azar’s study. I pocketed it and we headed back to the entryway…the large doors opposite the entrance had two locks, and the pair of keys gave us entry.

The room here held both a defiled statue of the Kai Vro’kahn and a font, stagnant and acrid. Stairs led down on both sides, and doors in front of us were open slightly into a chapel…the doors themselves appeared to be eaten away. We soon figured out why. As we entered the chapel, we saw an old man chained to a pew, and on the dais at the front of the chapel roosted an enormous Shadow Bird. Its dark powers assailed our mind, our very existence, but we managed to hold our own and send the dark thing back to the Void.

We freed the old man, whose memory seemed to be eaten by the foul bird, or perhaps some other dementia. He thought himself much younger than he obviously was..and then..stated he was part of an order: The Order of Balance. My heart stopped. His name was Evelac. That was the name of one of the founders, ages ago. He must be senile…but still..he had heard of it…could whatever heinous thing that befell the Order have scattered its members across time and space, bringing Evelac all the way to my own day and age? Or was this just a crazed old man whose obliterated memory had regurgitated some morsel about an Order now long consigned to oblivion. I had to know more. As I escorted him to the safety of the other captives, I pressed him for information. But…he had forgotten everything already. He barely knew who or where he was. I left soon after. I believe him to represent the Wise One, though I privately scoff at that notion. Fumus thinks I’m being angsty. As with most of his quips, I leave it without response.

I returned to the chapel to find the others scouring the rectory. They found a luminous Peridot, which Rue was intent to keep. She plied me for information about it. The most I could determine was that its powers were derived from the divine, and not the arcane. Also found was a robe of shadowdance, which was given to myself. I shall make great use of this, to weave between my foes when I cast my spells. They also found a sum of gold coins, totaling two hundred and twenty. They determined to entrust that to me, until it was needed later. I am honored with the charge, and intend to uphold it.

We went back to the chapel vestibule and down the stairs, where we encountered more bandits and a balpura in a dining area… a small boy was captive here. The balpura gave us plenty reason to tread lightly, despite my best efforts to grease the area. After a grueling battle, and despite having nearly lost Orokai, we managed to eke out a victory — this time.

Session in Summary:

Acquired second iron key Allarkin
Acquired Scimitar of Shared Wrath +1 Rue
Acquired 220 gp party fund
Acquired Shadowdance Cloth Armor +1 Allarkin
Acquired luminous peridot, “divine” Rue
Lost Black robes Allarkin → Yserone
XP gained per PC 730 XP
Party total per PC 1894 XP
Dark Tomes

32nd of Cathadan, 1744

After some respite we returned to the prison. Among the bodies, Tearwin found some suitable armor. Definitely enchanted. It appeared to be the embodiment of trees. There were three doors: the large ones in front of us, and then smaller doors to the east and west. After allowing some time for Orokai to investigate, we settled on heading east. Orokai snuck in through the shadows and after a moment, Tearwin charged in. Whilst they dispatched of bandits, shadows began to rise against us and I quickly discerned their providence: a nethermancer clothed in black. I made a point to fell him before he could hinder us further. After the skirmish, I found a black idol of strange shadow origins on his person, and I took his black robes which seemed to avoid all light. I figured they may later become useful. Fumus thinks me silly and that they look awful on me. I pay him no mind. This room appeared to be some sort of visiting room that the bandits had made into their lounge. There was only one door other than the way we came, so that is the direction we headed. Orokai scouted ahead and I sent Fumus along with him. I would regret that — as I usually do when sending him into danger — as they tripped a plate that caused a flame trap to go off. Fumus is still giving me hell over that, nevermind the creature is made of vapor. After disarming the trap trigger, Fumus trekked ahead alone this time, through the door at the end of the corridor. When he returned and informed me of what was happening in the room, we acted quickly. Using the trap to our advantage, we lured the bandits into the flames over and over. With magic hands I flipped the lever to confuse them, and I bolted any who got wise to the plan. Soon all that remained was the dark arcanist who summoned shadow hammers and called herself Malora. As the others moved to engage her, I made my way forward, firing bolts until at last we had her down.

Here we found and freed one of the captives, a hunter who called himself Kerrwin. He was grateful and told us of his capture in Gatefall and being brought here to Roanvel. He was injured, however, and in no position to make his own way home. The best course, it was decided, was for him to fortify himself in these quarters, apparently designed for high ranking captives. The relatively confined hallway and flame trap would provide him ample protection. Rue helped herself to an adamantine tiara. For what reason, I cannot say.

Kerrwin was unable to give us much information onAzar, but he directed us to a nearby room which appeared to be some form of a study. The extent of horrible machinations devised therein, I cannot definitely say. But the grisly intentions became all too clear. While Orokai perused a tome about Towns and some strange volume called ‘Murdering the Spell’, Rue and Tearwin glanced over the room, uncaring for the volumes lining the walls and desk. But I was drawn to the open book on the desk. The title was ‘Concerning Excerpts of the Kedav Azhra’bak.’

My blood ran cold. I knew not if Azar the as-yet-Unassailed had managed to locate that foul hell book, but this treatise itself was bad enough. Rumors had circulated that the Order had a vault in which, among other things, the Kedav Azhrabak was kept, but the Order also had a Citadel which now lies in dust so Azar having it is a possibility. If so, I must find it before he could unleash any further evils. More immediately pressing though, the treatise was opened to a ritual concerning the night before Platinalia, the traditional start of Summer when the sun is at its peak, coinciding with the rare occurrence of a simultaneous waning of all three moons. That will be Sacrifice of nine mortals representing the Kai. I scanned over the words, and these were the icons that were to be slain: The Wise One, The Hunter, the Dancer, the Farseer, the Noble, the Maiden, the Mother, the Crone, and the Judge. I quickly surmised that the nine taken from Gatefall were these, and that Kerrwin must be the Hunter. The others must be found, quickly, before they were sacrificed. I took the book, and a large, iron key on the desk, and we left Kerrwin to his own defenses and made our way to the other door in the entryway. Here we met a formidable man who called himself Uzziah. With carefullly chosen words (And some threats and lies on the part of Tearwin and Orokai), we were able to talk him out of battle. He claimed to work directly for Azar, and had no association with those he called “The Disciples of Annihiliation”, cultists being used by Azar…Uziah said they possessed the power to make whole swathes of history vanish. (Were they responsible for the Order? I must find out later.)
Before leaving he mentioned to Tearwin the disappearance of Drakt Shulukai…a Hamurkian dragon..I was vaguely aware of it, and it being important to the Hamurks..but the importance was very much alive on Tearwin’s face. Perhaps I was not the only one to lose something dear.

I am including here notes we located with more details about which kai the captives represent…

The Hunter – Besara
The Dancer – Janrata
The Wise Old Man – Vro’kahn
The Farseer – Taraslian
The Maiden – Indarra
The Mother – Amaya
The Noble – Dragonsbane
The Crone – Ki’rmaak
The Judge – Tashvar

Session in Summary

Acquired Barkskin Armor +1 Tearwin
Acquired Black robes Allarkin
Acquired Dark idol Allarkin
Acquired Adamantine tiara Rue
Acquired Gloaming Shroud +1 Orokai
Acquired books: “Concerning Towns V.4”, “Murdering the Spell” Orokai
Acquired iron key Allarkin
Acquired book: “Concering Excerpts of the Kedav Azhra’bak” Allarkin
XP gained per PC 600 XP
Party total per PC 1164 XP (Level 2 gained)

23rd of Cathadan, 1744

I have set off today for Dragosia. My travels have brought me back to the One City, to take a Chiryu airship to Gatefall. It may prove to be a fool’s errand, listening to that mad woman in the Hamurk market. There is no reason to believe any of it. Vague and insipid references. She is most likely a charlatan. Still, I feel compelled to heed her words, and I have no other leads. Ten years I have wandered these lands, with no sign of the Order. I have all but given up hope.

I don’t even know where to begin in Dragosia. Perhaps fate will thrust it upon me. Or perhaps, again, I will find nothing.

If my embarkment is to be any sign, it is an auspicious start; the ship I am on is sparse. There is the crew, who barely pay us mind and only occasionally address us with their broad, sonorous tones. There are a few commoners, who gather in the lounge. But there are three others who stand apart. These, I have observed with great interest when we all gather in the lounge.

There is a shunya’dim, and despite his revelry in the commoners’ games and drink, he is clearly something more. Armed and capable, I am certain. From the One City, I know, but I dare not speculate further. A young warrior in whom I can feel much power, a conduit for fierce, primal energy, spends much of his time above deck, near the bow. A child of Hamurk, I believe. This is probably his first time on such a craft.And a very young Mandurian girl, barely of age, I should think. She is quiet. Incredibly quiet. But she is keen, and her silence belies a storm of emotion within her. She watches people, but not like I do. There is an intensity that is offputting to most of the commoners. She feels what they feel. That which I can deduce from expression and language and behavior, she knows in her very soul. She watches not to know what they’re feeling but because she knows what they’re feeling.

I cannot guess what these souls are after in Gatefall, nor what strange twists of fate led all our paths to converge here. An auspicious start, indeed. The Wheel turns, and I can feel I am drawn by it, and that whereever it is I am going…these three must be going as well.

- – -

30th of Cathadan, 1744

If my embarkment was auspicious, my arrival was fated.After arriving and stepping off the tower, the townsfolk soon became startled, and the City Watch formed a line around the square. Prisoners were running the gate. I could not at first understand why the Watch stood by as these prisoners ran into the square, creating havoc. They stated that they simply followed orders. Even the lieutenant in charge would not tell us. I attempted to ask one of the prisoners with what they had been charged, but my diplomacy was met with uncaring fists. I decided there was no further need for negotiation. The warrior, the Shunya’dim, and myself were forced to dispatch of the prisoners. As predicted, the young Hamurkian had as much prowess with both battle and spirit as the Shunya’dim had with guile and subterfuge. The girl abstained from battle, but not for lack of ability; she had no intentions of fighting someone with whom she had no quarrell. I cannot say I disagreed with her. The thought of being made to battle on command for someone’s whim was reviling, but I had little choice but to protect myself in the face of things. Still, they were unarmed, and we had no intention of killing them.
But I cannot deny that, in showing my ability so carelessly, I may have tipped my hand.

The lieutenant soon was leading us to someone in charge. He said his name was Loc Moraunt and that a Councillor Maris would be telling us more. Moraunt couldn’t tell us much but we did gather that Maris released the prisoners as a test. Some test, fighting unarmed rabble.

At Maris’s house we were soon swept into his study as Moraunt was dismissed. At introductions I kept quiet, finding myself rather angered with Maris’s careless scheme. But I did learn the names of my fellow compatriots; the Shunya’dim was Orokai, and the Councillor seemed to know a little too much about him. The warrior was Tearwin, and indeed Hamurkian. The Mandurian girl was Rue, and she seemed to hold the same opinion of Maris as myself.
Maris said that his desperate idea was called for by the assaults on the city by bandits, reporting apparently to some menace called Azar the Unassailable. Gatefall had long been plagued by bandit raids, he said, but more recently nine citizens had gone missing.

Fumus did not care much for this man, Maris, but, Fumus cares little for most people. Or at least he seems to.

His proposal was thus: we would venture north to abandoned Roanvel Prison, where Azar had made his camp, and rescue the nine captives. We would also bring back Azar’s head if at all possible. Reward would include 100 pieces of gold per captives rescued.
Orokai and Tearwin readily agreed, seemingly for helpful motives. Rue was taken in with the idea of payment. Myself, I was reluctant. I did not fancy myself a warrior for hire, but the captives needed help, and I knew the other three could use what I had to offer in the ways of the arcane. I accepted, and we made arrangements to leave in the morning. We would be given four Drol for transport, some trail supplies and tents. We would leave at first light. So I rest now in the inn, unsure of what waits tomorrow. Is this what the soothsayer meant? Or is it coincidence? I cannot say, but tomorrow is another turn of the Wheel.

31st of Cathadan, 1744

Little to report today. We have trekked all day through the forest. We are now within sight of Roanvel but are in little condition to meet it. We rest tonight, and make our approach tomorrow.

- – -

We’ve had to come back to rest. After an unpleasant awakening by a pair of Bhaalu at our camp last night, we went back to sleep, all the more wary and weary for it. Consequently, we were less prepared to make our approach. As we entered, we were ambushed by some of the bandits and their Balpura leader. Tearwin and Orokai had fallen, and Rue and I were having a tough time of it. With the Balpura on my heels I knew we stood little chance , and I had to resort to desperation. With a trick, I managed to get the upper hand for an instant and bashed the Balpura’s skull in with my staff. We quickly mended Orokai and Tearwin and fell back to recuperate. We will definitely have to be more cautious in this place.

Session in Summary

Quest Gained Return to Gatefall with Azar’s Head
Quest Gained Rescue the nine prisoners (100 gp per prisoner)
Acquired 4 Drol (on loan)
Acquired 2 tents
XP gained per PC 564 XP
From Sky to Gatefall

In a Rush

There was barely any time. High above the spiraled towers of The One City the ship was about to sail. Barely any time was given to make it earlier to see the sites of this most ancient, and yet still standing, city. If the gos’raul, as the chiryu who piloted it called it, set sail it would not return for another week and there was no money to survive in this city.
p. Four characters of vastly different backgrounds reached the docking bay barely in time to board. Tearwin of Hamurk in his armor seemingly patched together with the hides of his slain prey boarded with uncertainty. Allarkin the Daremian with no home gently stroked the gray cat Fumis for reassurance. Orokai the Shunyadim, whose ebony skin seemed to drink in the light, boarded with a certain feel of excitement. Rue the mandurian from Nasivar, cloaked in enigma and bathing in the emotions of others, boarded as well. It would be a long trip. These strangers whose fates are intertwined had best get to know one another.


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