.:| Quote |:.
"Honor isn't about making the right choices. It's about dealing with the consequences."
-- 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 |:.
September 30, 605ER Gather - Hawthorn's Bluff
Tonight began the market gather in Hawthorn's Bluff. When we came back this afternoon, there was another inhabitant of the house that Beryl introduced to me as Justicar. Given that he is staying in the same house with her and from how she spoke of him, I feel she considers him a friend. He seems like someone I could trust to a fair degree, even if he is a hobling.
After introductions were made, Beryl and I sat down and began sorting through our provisions and gear before going out to join the gathering. As we were doing so, she showed me the formal scroll she had for the lesser Darkness Transformation ritual; a lesser version of the same transform she has upon herself. As the magics upon it will expire in a few weeks, Beryl offered to allow me to use the scroll if I could secure all of the necessary components for it. I was ecstatic! That was when Beryl realized that she was missing some supplies she desparately needed, so she told me to go with Justicar out to the gathering while she went to get what she needed. She said she would catch back up to me in a few hours.
Justicar and I reached the tavern area in time to find Baron Hargrove, Count Whiteoak, and a number of others discussing recent shadow sightings and the cryptic whispers that people were hearing. I listened for a while, but it seemed to me as if they might be something of a misdirection. Tavi, Cindra, and several others seemed to have the whispers well in hand in the event I was wrong. The one thing that I did take note of, however, was Syl and several other mages counseling Baron Hargrove that perhaps undertaking a Dream Vision to look for answers was too dangerous given the current state of things; given that Beryl had planned to undertake one this weekend in her quest to reclaim Au'magar I felt that might be of great importance.
About that time, Rocco came over to me and asked me to take a walk with him. He took me out to the edge of town, starting with small talk but then moving into asking me what I was doing with Beryl. I told him of why I searched her out and what happened to cause me to leave home. In turn, he told me a bit about himself and how he played both sides of the guild war back home, and that it was he that was responsible for the big sewer collapse. At one point I was certain he was taking me out into the forest to kill me and leave me to rot, but thankfully I was wrong. As we returned back to town, Rocco told me that I was the last thing Beryl needed right now, and that it would be better if I just left her and found my own way. I'm determined not to let him scare me away, though; I gave Beryl my word, and I intend to stand side by side with her and learn from her for as long as I can.
As Rocco and I reached the tavern, I split off from him and began listening to some of the other conversations. It was at that time that a figure stumbled into town and caused quite a stir. As she came closer, I saw her to be an elvish woman who looked to have some features of a vampire. Several people moved as if to attack, but Master Whist greeted her warmly and gave them pause. I found out her name was Mistress Frost, or Frosty to those who know her, and that she was a scout out of Holym just returned from the Dreadlands. Her strange appearance was due to some sort of ritual experiment in which she became a quasi-vampire, which is how she came to be at Holym. Apparently she now subsists only on healing potions, but not elixirs, and I gave her several during the time she was there. As she stood there, she gave her report to Master Whist on the various elemental storms she'd encountered as well as news that Emeraldyne's armies were on the move in force towards the County of Whiteoak and the Barony of Blackwell.
A short time later, Master Whist headed over to investigate some happenings at the earth circle. I accompanied Mistress Frost and offered her another potion as I began to tell her of the dracoliche that was defeated in Blackwell. She seemed grateful for the potion and quite intrigued by the dracoliche. As she and I reach the earth circle, we find Master Whist struggling with the circle in obvious pain as it appears to flicker in and out of existence. No one seemed to have any idea what was going on. It was then that someone noticed a shadowy figure down near the bath house appearing to read from a scroll of some sort. Whist, Frosty, and several others went to investigate; I followed them down. He appeared to recognize Frosty and taunted her for having him kicked out of Holym. Apparently the paper he was reading was some sort of contract or pact with Shadow Lords, and as he finished reading it he vanished. From what I gathered after the fact, he was apparently a necromancer who had at one time shown up at the gates to Holym and asked them to teach him necromancy. Whist commented that he'd apparently grown in strength, but not in intelligence. Frosty was recalled to Holym shortly thereafter.
It was not long before the shadow attacks began. I started off beside Rocco, but he soon vanished into the darkness leaving me on my own. I stayed close to the main body of people fighting, but at one point I ended up flanked and was dropped. Jauntarius ended up healing me so that I could return to the fray. I lost track of time during the fighting, but eventually I noticed Beryl had returned and joined in. I tried to catch her up on some of what had transpired as the fighting continued, staying close to her and working in cooperation with her.
Eventually the fighting died down and I headed for the house with Beryl and Justicar. Beryl decided to go and shower, and in the meantime someone Justicar introduced as Slipshod showed up at the door. We talked for a while, including discussing plans of helping Slipshod tomorrow with a foray into the planes of Death and Fire to retrieve something Slipshod needed. Slipshod said that we could keep anything else we found while there, and apparently had also agreed to erect a long-term greater ward on the cabin for some prior service Justicar had done. Slipshod ended up leaving before Beryl returned, but when she did we discussed Slipshod's offer and decided to take him up on it.
This morning I woke up early. After trying unsuccessfully to fall back to sleep for almost an hour, I finally gave in and went to shower and then sat outside the house eating some of the rations I had saved. I guess it was almost two hours before Beryl and Justicar stirred in the house and joined me outside. As the three of us headed towards the tavern we spied several groups of orcs nosing around the other houses. There were two different groups of three that we easily dispatched, but during the first encounter I had the first opportunity to throw a gas globe at a hostile target. Thankfully all of the practice I had been doing came in handy, as my throw was true.
After Beryl and I had a chance to eat some lunch in the tavern, we noticed a bit of a stir outside involving yet another orc. Upon investigation, apparently there was a stir over this orc's claims that some local farmers had sold him a cow and then turned around and robbed him of the cow and his other possessions. Baron Hargrove charged Squire Maddalyn to investigate this matter, and Beryl and I decided to accompany her and the others who went to find these farmers. Upon locating the, Maddalyn began to question them, but her condescending attitude and complete lack of diplomacy and tact soon resulted in the situation turning to violence and one of the farmers making a break for it. I gave chase along with one of RoseWidow's members, and soon the farmer was gassed and returned. At that point Maddalyn decided to drag them all back to town to let the Baron sort it out. Beryl and I had seen enough and decided to let the others deal with it all.
As the afternoon wore on the town was attacked by several waves of clockwork beasts hurling fierce magics. Beryl and I both fell several times during the fighting, but there were enough others around that we both received healing in time to avoid needing a life spell. The fighting slowly shifted from the area near the tavern down to the edge of town nearer our house, which is when we came face to face with a huge clockwork mecha. As the town engaged, Beryl and I both found ourselves at various times shifting between attacking the large clockwork and the other smaller ones that accompanied it. In the end the clockworks were all defeated, and Beryl and I both earned a share of the rather substantial treasure found on the body of the larger clockwork; I think our shares were both 8 or 9 gold as well as a formal magic component
It was not long after that when Slipshod sought us out; it was time to assist him as we had discussed. Beryl and Justicar gathered Palor, Syl, and some other individual to accompany us, and Slipshod then led us out to the edge of town where he explained what he needed us to do. Apparently he uses planar energy nodules to power his museum, and he had need to acquire new ones from the planes of Death and Fire. We would begin in Death, but he warned us that his attempts to negotiate with the denizens there for a nodule had gone so poorly that they had ordered him never to step foot into the plane again. We discussed our strategy, which included me handling all of the looting of bodies to distribute later, and then Slipshod rifted us to the plane…I say rifted only because that seems to be the easiest way to explain it, but discussions later would prove that to be inaccurate.
Upon arrival in the Plane of Death, the first thing I noticed was that it activated transforms upon people. I was able to see Beryl's Darkness transform for the first time...the sight of her skin taking on the color of darkness and the glow of her eyes not only made me wish to take her up on her offer of the scroll for myself even more but also was quite alluring in a very exotic way. I was also greatly impressed by the werebear of Palor and the Imp of Justicar. Slipshod also seemed to flash and glow as if a transform had gone active, yet his appearance did not change; Beryl and I both exchanged a knowingly curious glance at the sight of this. As we approached the area where Slipshod said the nodule would be, we were set upon by a number of death elementals. Beryl activated one of the powers of her transform in order to search for the nodule while we fiercely tried to hold the elementals at bay, but it was not without cost. I was struck by a death spell at one point, and several of us fell at various times. We managed to push the elementals back enough to fully search the area, and eventually we located what was needed. Slipshod then rifted us out to his museum just before the elementals overwhelmed us.
Slipshod's museum was quite a sight to behold. In the room we entered there were two energy nodules with energy visibly arcing between them. Slipshod had me assist him in placing the death nodule which then became a part of the system. As Slipshod explained, the death nodule was needed to help regulate the energy of the others. He then used his powers to restore everyone who had expended skills, and finally rifted us out of the museum. Also of interest to note was the fact that every time Slipshod seemed to use his powers, he followed it up by casting elemental-based healing upon himself in no significant amounts.
The feast then began, which consisted of a pasta dish and bread both smothered in garlic. It was quite good when paired with the vintage red wine that I had obtained. Beryl and I both quickly had our fills of both. As we were sitting and talking, she noticed someone that she said she needed to speak with and walked across the room to join him. A few moments later a local woodcutter sat down at the other end of the table and introduced himself as Woody the Woodchopper. Woody was quite an interesting fellow…apparently he already had several wives, yet he was still looking for more. It was quite amusing when he asked me to get the young woman's attention that had her back to him, especially when he did not believe me and then later learned that it was not a woman but a thin elven male with quite long hair.
I soon grew tired of Woody, however, and stood to join Beryl. She introduced the smarmy looking man she was speaking with as Charlie, whom she had spoken to me of before. Beryl seemed to get quite a kick of my comments as the alcohol kicked in, but I apparently managed to slur out a greeting to Charlie before Beryl helped me out of the tavern. My intoxication was short-lived, however, as the town again came under attack. I quickly downed a purify blood potion to clear my head, as I knew I would need to be at my best. At first it was merely some exploratory forces, but soon the shadow being began attacking in earnest. Beryl and I stuck together, but she soon grew frustrated with her ineffectiveness against many of the shadows. In frustration she stalked away from the main fight; I followed her, which is when we discovered pools of shadow cropping up at random, with a large one surrounding a strange looking staff that appeared to be floating in mid-air. Beryl attempted to investigate, and in the process she stepped in one of the pools; as she did her form became somewhat transparent. Not wanting to risk losing her to the shadow forces and not knowing what might be happening, I jumped into the pool after her and soon became shadowy myself. In hindsight it was a really stupid thing to do, but as tired as I was and concerned for Beryl I wasn't really thinking clearly. We then began investigating the staff further. I did not catch most of the details, but at one point a planeshopper from Hollym showed up and was relating what he knew of the staff that had been created by dragon magic.
Some time later, cured of the shadow form, Beryl and I joined in a few skirmishes on the borders of the fighting, but we left the confrontation with the main forces to much of the rest of the town. Eventually all three shadow lords were defeated and, we presume, the shadow threat lifted. As we retired to the house, however, Beryl turned on me and snapped a bit, telling me I had been crowding her far too much and at times just getting in her way. I swore to her I had not intended it and had not realized I was doing it. With a sigh she issued a small apology and chalked a lot of it up to her frustration during the fights and the fact that both of us were exhausted, but she also warned me that if I was going to stay her apprentice I would need to be more mindful of this. I promised her that I would, and we turned in for some well-earned sleep.
This morning I awoke early and just needed some time away from Beryl. I left her a note and headed out in search of some herbs to use later in the lab. I didn't find what I was looking for, but when I came back I found Beryl had gotten up and was at the tavern. I ended up speaking with Justicar for a while, and asked what he thought I should do about Beryl's offer of the transform. I explained to him how I really wanted it, but had no idea how I was going to come up with all of the components. He shocked me by handing me a handful from his own stock and simply told me to replace them in number by next May. That business concluded, we both headed up to the tavern to find Beryl.
As we were all sitting in the tavern we saw a trio of goblins being chased by some sort of creature. I couldn't really tell what it was, but as Beryl and others went out the side door to take up pursuit, I headed out the back door to cut them off coming around the corner. Sure enough, the three goblins soon rounded the corner; I leveled my sword at the lead one and ordered it to stop. When he didn't, I started to cut him down until the screams of everyone else caused me pause. Come to find out, they were being chased by a goblin ghast. After much trial and error we finally were able to assist the goblins in defeating the ghast and learned of the whereabouts of the necromancer that had summoned it. Beryl, Justicar, myself, and several others set out with the goblins to confront this necromancer; it turned out to be a very short fight. Among the things on his person we found a magical box, which everyone agreed to sell to Rosewidow and split the proceeds. I wasn't about to argue with 8 gold for such little work.
That pretty much wrapped up the market gathering, so Beryl and I headed back to the house where we compared notes a bit with Justicar.