.:| Quote |:.
"In darkness, no one sees you bleed or cry..."
-- Kierath Ranamor
.:| Vornae Proverbs |:.
"I no naka no kawazu taikai o shirazu."
A frog in a well does not know the great sea.
"Ame futte chi katamaru"
After the rain, earth hardens
.:| Libraries |:.
February 2, 607 ER Gather - Near Manath, Tyrangel
I arrived at the inn near Manath where the festivities were to be held and was quickly shown to a room. A short time later I found that I would be sharing it with Jade, Riddle, and Countess Amaris herself.
As the gather began, I secured our room with a ward and then joined Jade in the common room of the inn to see who all had arrived. It was not long before Captain Malone walked in with a large portion of her crew. It seems that her ship was in port in Manath and she had come to seek some help from the Countess. While they were discussing business, I milled around and spoke to some of the crew. Most seemed glad to be in port, and I learned that they were privateering under contract with the Knights d'Eit. One of the sailors, a dwarven female named Petunia, then started harassing me and following me around the room. I escaped her for a time, but then as I was speaking with Jade I felt a pair of hands roughly rub across my ears from behind. Whirling in anger, I found myself face to face with Petunia again. She then reached across again to rub my ears, at which I shoved her away and began to draw my sword. Jade quickly intervened and separated us, but had it not been for that I would have cut Petunia down on the spot for such an unwelcome molestation. In the commotion that ensued, it was revealed that Jade had told Petunia that rubbing an elf's ears was often very pleasurable to them, which Petunia had then construed as a way to find a mate. Needless to say, I was not at all pleased by any of this.
Soon after the sailors left, a trio of drunken individuals came staggering into the tavern spewing all sorts of venom towards nobility in general. It was not long before the Countess had heard enough and ordered Riddle to sleep them to quiet the noise and let them burn off their intoxication. I inspected all three for any marks or tattoos, but finding none concluded that they were most likely just rowdy drunkards who have been swayed by the Black Prince's propaganda campaigns in the Duchy.
Following this, I decided to get some fresh air and stepped outside with Jade to talk and try to regather myself. As we stood in the field we saw lightning strike the opposite side of the field and felt the ground tremble. A few moments later, a figure began to rift into that general area. I sent Jade back to retrieve help while I skirted the edge of the field to investigate.
I arrived at the site of the disturbance not long after a group of adventurers casually walked up. It seemed that there was a circular disturbance surrounding the ley stones. Moments later, a large silver and gold golem rifted in through the stones, carrying a large key in one hand. He was quickly followed by a large group of blue draconians that attacked him. Most of the town sided with the golem, and my efforts to secret away a few of the draconians for questioning were thwarted by Riddle's stupidity in leaving them in plain sight of the golem. Finally all but one draconian and the golem were defeated. The draconian was taken inside where Amaris began to question him, but this was cut short by the entrance of the golem who quickly dispatched the draconian. Sadly, I was not privy to the conversations, so I learned little from any of this. Instead, I was back out at the circle with Moon and several others, attempting to determine what had happened. The central ley stone looked somewhat draconic in nature, and it would shun and repel any who touched it. I made a brief examination of the area, but the only thing I noted was a small disturbance, almost like a ripple, when I tossed my cold iron dagger into the circular area. As this did not happen when other items entered the area, I tend to believe part of the disturbance is indeed fey in nature, but that is not the primary nature of it. I left the investigation in Moon's capable hands as she prepared to do a series of divinations within the disturbed area.
I was soon recalled to the field by Riddle telling me that there were some Fey who had appeared by the stones. What he failed to mention, however, is that they were a pair of Fey Lords. One appeared to be very similar to a Sidhe, and though I did not catch his name it soon became clear that he was from the lands to the west, around Greyforge. The other was named Zanzarchanicus, or something similar, and I believe he hailed from the areas connected to the Sutherlands. He had traveled here after sensing the other Fey Lord's presence. I missed much of the discussion, as I was unable to get a good seat and the second was speaking rather softly, but it seemed that the Fey Lord from the Sutherlands was going to leave and keep an eye on the situation from afar while the other planned to do several things in the area before trying to close the portal/rift and return to his home. I know that Moon and several others spoke to him for quite a while, but I was never able to interject myself into the conversation enough to try and learn more.
Not long after they left, a trio of kobolds rolled into town, frantic about something. They were extremely skittish, and we could not get any answers until I forcibly calmed one long enough to find out that their brother had been eaten. After learning all that I could, I released him unharmed and returned to the tavern to report my findings to the Countess, and having done that I decided that it was time for me to retire for the night.
I awoke early and headed into Manath on an errand for Countess Amaris. While I was there, I took the opportunity to see some of the city, before returning to the site of the gather around noon. When I arrived back, I was told that a number of Brownies and Redcaps had been attacking, but other than causing some mischief with charms no real harm was done. Riddle was attempting to put together a group to go investigate the caravan that had been carrying the food for feast, but I chose not to join them having just returned and looking to find food for myself.
During this time, Moon was occupied in conversation with the Fey Lord who had returned this morning. I also noticed a gentleman with a silver hand speaking with a number of people at the inn. I joined them to listen, and soon learned that he was Mr. Silverhand, of the Silverhand Messenger Company. As he was telling the story of how he came to have his silver hand, courtesy of the visiting Fey Lord, we noticed a commotion across the field. Moving to investigate, we found the hunting party being attacked by plant creatures. Silverhand and I entered the fray, and we were quite effective at attracting the attention of the noxious plants and then one of us slipping in behind to kill the plant creature. The battle did not last long, and as we returned to the inn we learned that the hunting party had returned with meet but that one of the newer adventurers had been cursed for attacking the White Stag.
Upon returning from the battle, a farmer came to the inn looking for someone to aid him. I spoke with him and found that his fields had been beset by kobolds, and that he'd seen them head towards a cave just up the mountain. I gathered Silas and Kaira along with a few others and went to investigate. When we reached the cave, I led the way being wary of traps, with the intention of trying to negotiate with the kobolds if possible. What I found instead, however, was a curious creature disguised as a portion of the floor. It enveloped me and apparently began to try to digest me before the others could cut me free. Once we had recovered, we pressed onward, until we were faced with a gelatinous cube. This nearly proved to be our downfall, thanks to the careless curiosity of the lone earth caster with us, but thanks to judicious use of battle scrolls while Silas and Kaira provided cover with their shields I managed to fell the beast and free those who were enveloped by it. As we had expended many of our resources, I encouraged everyone to leave, but several wanted to check a fork in the tunnel as we left. This nearly proved to be fatal, as we encountered a pair of Umber Hulks. Thankfully, we prevailed and returned safely to town. I'm fairly convinced that the kobolds had gone to that cave seeking shelter and fallen prey themselves to the denizens we encountered.
I spent quite a bit of time following our return speaking with Jade just to pass the time. It seems that she has also been reconsidering her path in life, and she felt she could trust me enough to speak to me of her thoughts at length. Eventually, this was interrupted by the arrival of Saroth and Wren, a pair of Sorcerer Kings. It seemed that Wren had come to tell Saroth to either relinquish his claims to the lands of Tyrangel, or come and speak for his actions with the Convocation. Saroth seemed quite reluctant to agree, but eventually agreed to meet with the Convocation the following day at a neutral location that was decided upon. Wren made it clear that if Saroth did not show up, the other members of the Convocation would consider the lands of Tyrangel to be for the taking.
Wren and Amaris then spoke. Amaris obviously wished Wren to leave and for him and all of the Convocation to never return to Tyrangel. Wren seemed amused by this, and offered Amaris an honor duel to keep him and his own minions out of Tyrangel for a year's time. Should she lose, however, Wren would be allowed to visit freely once per month for a period of a year. Wren even swore upon his blood honor that he would only use skills he had trained in, rather than those augmented by his membership in the Convocation. Amaris finally agreed to the duel and sent me to get her shield. The duel itself was quite spectacular, but eventually Amaris fell. As Wren delivered the killing blow, it activated Amaris' vengeance, which was enough to fell Wren. Several of the other spectators wished to give Amaris a life spell, but I prevented them to preserve their honor, eventually casting a Circle of Power to ensure that they both resurrected. While this was transpiring, another individual of some great power rifted in and was arguing to force resurrection as well as he had "been watching the duel". I cannot recall his name, other than it started with an A, but he attempted to make me an offer to be his minion which I promptly declined.
Upon her successful resurrection, Amaris was quite upset that I had forced her resurrection. She claimed that everyone "knew" she never duels to the death, and that no terms of completion had been set. She is right in the second part, which is why I acted as I did since they had specifically stated that it was an honor duel. She then left to go inside, and was joined by most of the onlookers and Saroth. I picked up Wren's remaining sword and followed a few moments later, but stopped as I felt it drawing me to one side. Finally letting it go, it flew into Wren's hand as he rifted in. He actually thanked me for what I had done, though he commented that I would likely not be very popular as a result. Then he joined Amaris and Saroth in the inn to discuss who had won the duel, while I took some time away from Amaris to reflect. Despite all of the animosity people showed me, I believe I did the right thing.
As I returned to the inn, Moon asked me if I wanted to join her to hear about the visions she'd had the night before. We went to her room, and she then described what she saw. She said she saw a vision of a place far to the west, sometime in the past. At first, all she saw were two dragons fighting...a gold and a red. Her field of vision then began to widen and behind those two she saw what she estimated as fifty or so dragons of all colors, all fighting with one another. She said that she could not determine any clear sides in the fight, but that it was like none she had ever seen. I thanked Moon for this information, and asked her to please keep me informed if she had any other such visions.
I returned to the main room about the time the discussions between Amaris and Wren were concluding. It seems they had been delayed by Smolder, who was stricken with some sort of malady as a result of investigating the ley stones. Saroth ended up stripping him of his ties to magic for a time to cut off what was besieging him, which was interesting to me because it caused his spirit linked shield to become unlinked and no magics of any sort to affect him. Smolder was then able to explain that inside the central stone of the ley stones was a dragon of some sort, and that it had spoken to him wishing him to free it, most likely because of his dragon knight transform. Apparently he had angered it, however, and it had lashed out at him.
About this time, a large horde of Lizardmen came to the tavern, demanding we close the portal. I took up a position beside the door as they began to enter, while Amaris addressed their leader. When it became clear that negotiations and reasoning with them were not going to succeed, someone began the fight with a few spells. I took the opportunity to dart between a few of the Lizardmen and quickly plunge my blades into the back of their leader, dropping him almost instantly. Unfortunately, my path of escape was cut off and I was quickly felled by a swarm of four to six of his comrades who saw what I had done. The fight did not last for very long, however, and I was soon given a life spell and joined the fighting outside as several additional groups of their brethren arrived. Eventually, all of the Lizardmen fell and no more were seen.
Preparations then began for feast, and I took the opportunity to retire to my room with Jade so that we could each get dressed in clothing worthy of the occasion. Returning to the main room of the inn, we noticed that His Highness had arrived, as had Dame Portia, Baron Shirogin, Count Doomhammer, and Sir Robert among others. The food was then served, and a great time was had by all. Prince Bane elevated Sir Robert to Baron of the Isles, and Countess Amaris elevated Portia to be the Baroness of the Barony of Wildwood.
Not long after I had changed back into my armor and adventuring clothes, there was a disturbance in the hall over some sort of wooden box. Chey was among the first of us to reach the scuffle, and quickly secured possession of the box. I then let him, and Portia into our room where we could sort this out safely; Tyro and another new adventurer joined us for the information they had on the subject. That's when strange things began to happen. Chey decided to open the box and see what was inside of it, and I loaned him one of my tools to open it with. When he opened it, I began to feel the urge to take it from him. Others apparently began to feel this too. Chey placed a circle of power around himself and the box, and then opened it completely.
That's when the room went dark and the door and window vanished, and Portia began trying to climb the bunks; she was screaming that the floor wasn't there at all. As more and more things began to happen it soon became clear that we were on the Dark Road. I was assaulted with a number of images of friends in trouble or dying with me unable to help them, and at one point a bolt of arcane energy nearly struck me and changed me into a dark elf. Thus began our struggle to find our way back. Portia and Tyro were the first to rift out, though how I'm not quite sure. When the box started talking, Chey ended up sticking his hand inside and was sucked into it, and then rifted out. That left myself and the other adventurer there. Not sure what to do, I simply began meditating, trying to remain calm and remembering the one thing I knew about the road...don't get off of it. Eventually, Chey rifted into the room and took us out with him, right into even greater chaos as we were reunited with everyone else but still on the road.
I'm not quite sure of many of the details at this point, but somehow Portia came into knowledge that it would require three willing sacrifices for us to succeed and leave. She volunteered, as did Rothgar and Chey. Chey, however, could not go without a fight...that was not his way. He came to me and as he'd promised, gave me a warning before he attacked me. In my mind I knew why he was doing this, but he was not making it easy and pressed me hard. It did not help that I had expended most of my gas globes, and had difficulty finding one to use, but eventually I did and was able to allow Chey to have his death as he wanted it...in battle.
Those of us who remained made our way to a circle. We could not enter, but inside the circle was Phillipe De La Vega who began a ritual of some sort. My very grey understanding of this was that it was using the spirits of those who made the sacrifice to seal the tears in the Heroes' and Four Winds graveyards as well as return us from the road. As this was happening, some entities circled around and among us, whispering things into our ears to try and weaken our resolve or make us lose hope, and continually asking us simply "Choose?". No one could ever figure out what they were asking us to choose, but any answer seemed to stave off an attack for a few moments.
The ritual eventually ended, and we all regrouped at the inn. It was there that I learned that both Chey and Rothgar had met their permanent deaths. Chey had entered his transformed state as the Spirit Guardian of Westhaven, and somehow His Highness had granted Rothgar the boon of becoming a Silver Dragon Knight in service to Evendarr if he could live through the night. I don't understand the magics involved in the latter, but that was what I saw and was told. Rothgar and I even had the chance to speak and settle some personal business with one another before he retired for the night. The look of shock upon his face as I simply layed out all of the facts before him was one I will not soon forget, as he finally realized just how seriously he had been mistaken in some matters.
The night was still somewhat young at this point, however, and soon the inn was attacked by a number of lesser undead led by a very powerful one. The lessers were quite easy to deal with, but the greater undead was apparently bottled nearby and quite formidable. We defeated him twice before I believe the bottle was found. As I returned inside, I was told he was a guard at some mansion that Amaris and others had visited before. Later, I learned he was one of Scaramundi's lieutenants.
There were also a number of bandit attacks in the time leading towards dawn. A group of them at one point had caught Jade unawares and left her laying in the field limbless. When I learned of this, I stalked out of the inn on the hunt for her attackers, but my carelessness nearly cost me my own life and taught me very clearly why Beryl and Sir Thorne had tried to teach me to control my anger and emotions in battle. I was so focused that I failed to pick up on the clues that a stranger standing near the door to the inn was in league with the bandits, and he manged to best me and lead me off into the darkness. Thankfully, several others had seen what had happened and came to my aid.
Following this excitement, I decided it was likely best to retire for the evening. Jade joined me in returning to the room, followed a few moments later by Amaris and Portia. We all talked for a time before dousing the lights and getting some much needed sleep.