.:| 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 |:.
December 15, 606 ER Gather - Eladhir's Haven, Greyhelm
I arrived in Eladhir's Haven this evening and secured a cabin with Sinai, Katarina, and Althkaelis. Sinai said Du'Kratha and Kivuli would be joining us tomorrow. After settling in and making our preparations, we set out for the tavern to see who else had arrived.
Arriving in the tavern, it was quickly apparent that many of those who usually travel to Greyhelm were not making the journey this time. Khorvai was the only member of Rosewidow to make the trip, and Squire Carak was absent as well. There were many new faces, though, including at least one group making the journey from the Mydian Valley. We had only been there a short time when Ambassador Ralair and Falshaar entered the tavern, and sat down to speak with Lady Sinai. I sat down to accompany her and listen for a portion of the conversation. There was quite a bit of tension as Lady Sinai told them of the Lich and showed them the map. They confirmed that the map was indeed Dremora, and that the skeleton on it was an actual dragon or drake skeleton that was incorporated into the architecture of their magical academies. They both also agreed to drink enslavement antidote elixirs, which they did in our presence, but there was no noticeable change in their demeanors. I excused myself shortly thereafter and left Sinai to continue the conversation.
Dame Miranda then arrived, and left with the two Dremorans, Sereg, Khorvai, Sandrine, and Katarina to have a private discussion. Upon their return, Katarina told me that there was not really anything said I did not already know. What I thought was somewhat of a concern was how several individuals who had not previously dealt with the Dremorans were chosen for this, rather than Sinai or even myself who at least has some training in that area. I let it pass, however, as the choices were not mine to make.
A short time later, shadow creatures began to attack the town. Mind still clouded by disturbing news I had received a short time earlier, I quickly stalked across the field to where three of the creatures had killed one adventurer and had several others trapped in a cabin. I managed to sneak right up on them, but one of them finally noticed me and turned to attack. Unfortunately, the rope that I carry for casting of a circle of protection got entangled with my sword, and I quickly fell. Apparently the individuals inside the cabin were able to save me, as I came to inside their cabin with the shadows moving off towards the tavern. I took a moment to renew my protectives and then set off to join the fight.
The shadow creatures continued to attack in small groups, but were soon joined by the shadow wraith Malshaar. He seemed to be ordering the shadows, and they all seemed to be targeting Sinai and myself. The battle ranged throughout the town and in the darkness. Our forces were scattered widely, which proved to be a great advantage for our foes. I was personally dropped on several occasions, and at one point Malshaar had Sinai in his clutches. I managed to sneak in and rescue her as he was occupied with attacks from the other direction, and with Sinai on her feet again we made our way quickly to our warded cabin to regroup and prepare.
Eventually, Malshaar was felled and a list of components for a ritual was found on him. In looking over it, the dragon turtle was among them. Sinai and I were also told that others had heard the shadows were looking for a box, which seemed obviously to be the dragon turtle. What was odd, however, is that some said that they had heard that they were seeking to destroy the box, which makes us wonder if Malshaar might be operating on his own agenda. Also of note was the fact that the shadow creatures were made of pure shadow and were not the hybrid paraelementals we had encountered earlier in the year.
There were a few other minor things that happened after this, but for the most part everyone was exhausted and decided to turn in for the evening. After conferring with Sinai, we both determined it best to also rest for the coming day.
I awoke somewhat early and headed to the tavern to see who might be stirring. No one was up and about yet, but the solitude was a welcome opportunity for me to reflect. Sinai soon joined me and told me she was going to spend several hours in the woods to meditate and reflect upon the night before. Before she left, however, she gave me a small ring and asked me to return it to Eladhir when I visited him later. I do not know whether he had granted it to her directly or if she had simply ended up with it, but she had told him that she would see it returned to him. I told her I would gladly handle this task for her, and wished her safety as she walked into the forest.
As I returned to the tavern to find something to eat, a pair of fire wolf pups entered the tavern looking for food. My attempts to get them to leave without harm failed, and Patches soon disposed of them with a few morsels of food he had poisoned. Soon other groups of elemental wolves attacked the town, including one extremely large lightning wolf that continued fighting despite my casting of over a dozen stone bolts into it while others were fighting it. I managed, through the course of these attacks, to use most of my scrolls which were about to crumble, but I was somewhat disgusted by the greed in looting the kills of those killing individual beasts at a distance with spells some people displayed.
I returned to the tavern, where a number of us engaged in idle chat. We were soon on alert again, however, as Althkaelis saw a band of goblins coming into town carrying what he described as a lich crown. Given the problems we have with liches, I set out with several others to investigate. It turns out, the crown was merely one made of chicken bones that they were seeking to give to their King& Patches had somehow ended up with the pinapple sold by the merchant the night before, which resulted in him being crowned as the King. It was quite amusing to watch, but he eventually tired of it and made one of the goblins into the new King and convinced them to leave.
Returning to the tavern, Chey joined several of us on the porch where we noticed him beginning to take on tree-like qualities. Jade and I helped him to test a few theories, but as best we could tell he was turning into a pecan tree as a result of eating the cursed pecan he had bought the night before. As we were considering how to potentially help him, a horde of ravenous squirrels attacked, going straight for Chey. Thankfully we were able to fend them off and keep them from succeeding, as at one point it looked like they were attempting to bury Chey, but it did cause some reason for concern.
Althkaelis and I set out to visit Eladhir's crypt and return the ring on Sinai's behalf while we were there. Eladhir spoke of still not being able to leave his crypt; something was holding him there, but that he would see what he could do if the shadows returned. He encouraged me to continue standing up for that which was right, even in the face of such daunting odds. He also spoke of the crystal necklaces he and Douglas wear, and the source of the crystals in the Forest of Light in Lorinorea. From the manner in which he spoke, I seem to be getting the impression that he thinks highly of me.
Not long after our return to town, Lady Sinai finally returned from her solitude in the woods. As I briefed her on the morning's events, we also had the opportunity to speak again about what I learned the night before. She also took a few moments to identify Chey, confirming that he appeared to be turning into a normal pecan tree. Shortly thereafter, two individuals came in looking for the spear that Katarina had bought. They told here that there would be others coming to look for it and that it would cause her nothing but trouble. After a short debate, she ended up selling it to him for quite a nice profit over what she had paid the night before.
As the afternoon began to wane, Nigel came into town to speak with me about the cartography guild. Apparently he'd received little interest in it, but as a result of my interest he asked me to assemble a group to investigate reports of chaos tainted creatures just to the north. He had concerns that perhaps the Chaos Forest might be spreading. I began by assembling a small team made up of those of us staying in the cabin, but it ended up growing to include Cotton, Hector, Sandrine, and the gypsies.
As we traveled to the north out of Eladhir's Haven, we were attacked by some of the patchy spirits that we have seen before, this time coming from a large tree. There was a portal within the tree, and my first thought was to carefully avoid the portal and check the tree for chaos taint as we did with the Tree of Life earlier in the year. Upon even touching the tree itself, however, I found myself sucked in. The others who went with me soon followed, but we found ourselves split apart into two groups in a dark forest with only a narrow path of earth to walk on, surrounded on either side by pools of what appeared to be pure chaos. It reminded me of the Chaos Forest, but did not have the same manner of disorienting me that I remember from there. I led those who were with me forward, even as we were attacked by ooze creatures, in search of the others and a way out. We eventually found a boulder with a worked area of stone atop it containing 8 depressions in a circle around a central one. When joined by the other group, we found we had 8 small marbles between us. Both the marbles and the stone did not detect as magic, but did feel "wrong". Hector performed a replenish land on the stone, and then I placed the 8 marbles around the outer circle. Lines connecting them formed to depict a chaos star, and the glowing grew as a larger creature came out of the ooze. When he was felled, a larger marble was found which fit into the newly enlarged center depression. After some debate, we placed the larger marble into place and then were able to exit the portal the second group had come in through. The others headed back to town immediately rather than wait to make sure Anno was able to exit. He seemed quite thankful for me staying behind to ensure everyone returned safely and helping him down the mountain to town.
After returning to town, I found Sereg and gave him a report of what we had encountered. He and I both are inclined to believe this may have been restoring something holding back the taint, and that it had begun failing, rather than our actions releasing something evil as some suggested. We both base this upon the supposition that if it was evil being released, why had the ooze creatures done so already? Still, we will be closely monitoring the situation in the coming months.
While waiting for feast to be served, Du'Kratha and a few others sat down to begin a poker game with Cotton. I sat down next to Sinai so that we could talk and watch over the game. Eventually, the food was served, and it was excellent as usual. Halcyon had prepared a number of different pasta dishes, and everyone ate with gusto. I even brought out my Quentari wine and shared a bottle of it with Sinai and Du'Kratha.
Following the meal, I joined Althkaelis, Sinai, and several others out on the porch of the tavern to talk. We were having an interesting discussion on culture when we noticed a glowing gateway appear across the field by the lake. From our vantage point we could see movement and moved to prepare ourselves. It soon became clear that our visitors were a group of unseelie fey who were seeking the dragon turtle and Akoya, whom they were referring to as the unicorn . Dame Miranda accepted my offer and allowed me to go out and attempt to speak with them and negotiate for a peaceful resolution.
As I approached the leader of the fey, it was quickly apparent that he was a Firbolg. He gave me the name Loris to address him by, and stated that he was there to recover the dragon turtle that had been taken. When I explained that it was not at the gather, but was in the hands of Baron Travador, he did not seem to believe me. He demanded to search the town to see for himself that it was not present, given the deceptions that had been used in the past to keep the box from being returned. After a brief conference with Dame Miranda, I presented an alternative proposal to Loris. He would be allowed to search the town, as long as myself or one other individual were allowed to accompany him in the search as a witness, and that no one or thing other than the dragon turtle would be taken or disturbed. Loris seemed to be considering this offer favorably, until Cotton decided to intervene. Despite noble orders to cease and desist, Cotton began moving past the line of fey towards the gate while constantly slinging insults towards them.
Loris was quite angered by this, and told me that he would accept the counter proposal of terms if and only if we would allow him to have the rabbit. I returned this offer to Dame Miranda, and when she predictably refused it I informed her that in order to have someone who would be able to negotiate with Loris in the future, I was going to agree to leave the field of battle if Loris would concede to order those under him not to harm me. Upon delivering the response to Loris and giving him my word to stay out of the fight in exchange for being unharmed, he seemed quite amused. He did not appear to think that I could do as I was promising, but he agreed to the terms and gave me time to exit the field. I quickly moved to the porch of the tavern where I could oversee the battle, handing my cold iron blade to Sinai so that someone else could use it as I passed.
The battle that then followed was a gruesome one. Loris' forces attacked with brutal efficiency, and when they fell Loris simply summoned more through the gate to join the fight. Loris never entered the fight himself, but there were several times that almost the entire town was on the ground bleeding. At some point Loris charmed Sandrine, and she spent much of the fight following him around happily answering any questions he asked her. Sinai and I each attempted to negotiate with Loris on several occasions to cease the fighting, but he said that he was going to continue making a point until we gave Cotton over to him. Finally, Sinai was able to get him to agree to allow her to try and get people off the field of battle in exchange for her delivering the dragon turtle at the next gather. She and I set about doing this, and in the process she attempted to allow them to take Cotton by dispelling his imprison. He escaped and began screaming for Sinai to be charged with assault, which Dame Miranda grudgingly saw to later on, but it was still some time before the fight wound down completely and Loris departed with the other fey.
Following the battle, I was emotionally spent. After staying to talk with Sinai and Sandrine for a bit to compare notes and offer support and comfort to one another, I spoke briefly with Dame Miranda about the battle and my negotiations. I then accompanied Sinai and Du'Kratha to speak with Cotton, as she attempted to smooth things over with him.
Finally, we returned to the tavern, in time to see the individual who had purchased the spear from Katarina come rushing into the tavern seeking our help. Moments later a group of other individuals came in after him, claiming he had stolen from them. Sinai let the first individual into the celestial circle while they attempted to sort matters out. I wasn't paying attention to what happened, but the next time I turned around the individual was no longer in the circle and the group of individuals were escorting him out of the tavern. It was about that time I decided to retire for the night.