Blades of Light

Tal's Journal, Entry 1
Kabobs Galore!

Ceor talked me into joining one of the free companies. It is, I suppose, not the worst idea he’s ever had. Joining a free company could put us on the fast track to fortune and glory. And perhaps I would be able to get some respect. It would only be the first of many steps, but everyone must start somewhere. I certainly don’t intend to stop at the free company level. One of Ceor’s drinking buddies decided to join us, a tengu named Miaako. I’m not sure if I will be able to tolerate him or not yet.

Naturally, they weren’t willing to take us on without knowing we could more or less handle ourselves, or at least survive. I understand the concept, though it was a bit annoying. They set some goblins on us, with the understanding that if we were able to kill them, we’d have a place on the company.

Of course, goblins tend to have a lifespan of less than a minute in the wild.

It was rather amusing to see Ceor just utterly skewer the first goblin he trampled. The little wretch was stuck on his lance and made rather a comic spectacle. Miaako spent the entire skirmish hiding behind me. I can tell that this partnership is off to a wonderful start.

The head of the company grudgingly agreed to take us on.

…Dammit, even the tengu is more respected than I am, and we’ve only just got here!

We were assigned as a scouting party, which doesn’t seem too terrible on the surface, but knowing the area, it’s more an insult. The companies in this area use scouts to trigger the tripwires, and not much else.

I’ll make them all regret it, one day.

Our first assignment was as vanguard scouts, largely due to the fact that we’re considered the rejects. This will end splendidly, I’m sure.

…Ceor may not know much, but the man does know his bars. He made a bee-line for the camp tavern, of course. Those two idiots kept me there most of the night, though I was able to avoid having drinks foisted off on me. It never ends well, when he manages to get me drunk. Part of the way through the booze-fest, we were joined by, of all things, a kobold, which had been dumped on us as well.

We’re really just going to have to educate these fools as to the depths of their stupidity in disregarding us by surviving.

At least Reeshka, the kobold, is reasonably well regarded…hopefully she won’t be as stupid as kobolds typically are.

I hate these people. They’ll tolerate tengu and kobolds better than they’ll tolerate me. I haven’t even done most of the things they accuse me of… yet. They tempt me more and more every day.

And I know Ceor means well, when he tries to give me all the credit… but it’s really, really annoying and it’s not going to help. It never does.

Ceor drank himself blind, of course. Though he seemed to put away fewer drinks than is his wont. Reeshka didn’t drink as much, but I suppose with her being smaller it wouldn’t take as much alcohol. Miaako surprised me; he matched the big idiot drink for drink and could still walk straight. They all snored, of course. And of course, Ceor had an absolutely awful hangover. Serves him right.

Miaako and Ceor managed to convince the company quartermaster to give us a cart and a mule… both of them, of course, look like if we hadn’t got them that they’d have reached their terminal destination by nightfall. Reeshka tried to jump up to ride on Anusk, with the predictable results. I’ve got no idea how Ceor manages to make friends with those who more or less universally despise everyone else.

We were set upon by bandits shortly after we departed. The bandit leader didn’t even have time to realize what a bad idea that was. Ceor managed to once again get the corpse caught on his lance; I suspect this might be common. The other bandits proved to be more of a challenge, severely wounding Ceor and myself. Fortunately, Reeshka was able to see to that. We got some halfway decent equipment, out of it, anyway. The total haul was two shortswords, one masterwork shortsword, two masterwork daggers, three shortbows, and 56 arrows. We also found 56 gold, 22 silver which we split amongst ourselves, since it’s not like the bandits need it anymore.

We also found some more esoteric items: a bottle of sludgy mess that I believe to be a weak and low quality healing potion, a signet ring with a skull-and-sunburst which was likely the bandit leader’s affectation of status, and a pendant with an emblem that Reeshka believes to be the symbol of The Hunter, one of the dark gods of Midgard. As the god of feral rage, bloodlust, hunger, hatred, and savagery, it’s probable that at least one of the bandits followed him. There’s not much difference between bandits and psychopaths.

After we took care of the nuisances, Miaako found three graves by the road, presumably either less fortunate victims of banditry, or bandits who ran into adventurers more considerate than we are. They did have stones with names, which indicates they were held in some sort of regard. I’ll look them up later- Harsk Braagsten, Daniel Withrien, Magda Bloodstone.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 2
Dreams and Daggers

We continued on the road after being ambushed by the bandits, and walked into an incipient snowstorm. It’s spring for gods’ sake. We managed to find a cleft in the rocks we could get the cart into. I’ve my doubts as to how dry it will stay, but beggars can’t be choosers. The cart will be soaked once we get out of here, but at least we have shelter. We even managed to get Anusk and the mule into it. There were some sort of markings on the roof of the cave, but it was too dark to make them out. They could well just be soot. Ceor pointed out that as high as the roof is, it might not be wise to stay here too long.

After looking around for a few moments, we discovered there’s a passage at the back of the cave. Lacking anything better to do and wanting to make sure there were no unpleasant surprises, Ceor decided to investigate, and almost got himself stuck. There was another, larger area behind it. There seemed to be some sort of… magical atmosphere. I’m not sure what kind. There were cobwebs near the back, and the magic seemed to be stronger there. Ceor, being Ceor, went to investigate, and found the skeleton of either a gnome or a halfling, probably a gnome. It must’ve been there for quite some time. I looked at the skull, and all four canines had been replaced by some some sort of crystal. Didn’t really see any reason to meddle with those.

There was also a dagger that was in surprisingly good condition, judging by the hilt; it was in far better condition than its sheath. It seemed like it should have shown as magical, but it didn’t. The whole situation was a little unsettling. Upon closer examination, I’m reasonably sure the dagger is made out of mithril. Mithril doesn’t wear as much as iron or steel, but it should have had at least a little rust or discoloration. The sheath crumbled as soon as Ceor touched it, but the dagger seemed to be cast from a single piece of mithril, except for leather wrapped around the hilt. We decided to take the dagger, and as Ceor was unimpressed by the size, he passed it to me.

The cave in the back was larger and somewhat more comfortable than the cleft, so we decided to spend the night there. Somehow, both the tengu and the kobold managed to get themselves stuck in the crevice. How, I will never know, as a big lug like Ceor didn’t. While we were busy getting Reeshka out of the crevice, Miaako went back to poke the skeleton. Literally. With a crossbow bolt. He was attracted by the shininess of the crystal teeth.

I swear he’s got to be part magpie.

It didn’t seem like he accomplished much besides knocking the crumbling skeleton apart. After meddling with it for some time, he managed to extricate the crystal teeth from the skull. I swear, if he wakes up the restless dead, he gets to fight it.

Ceor took the first watch and let me sleep. I had strange dreams. I dreamed I was on top of a mountain, in the middle of a blizzard that strangely didn’t make me feel cold. There was no way down, and the full moon was freakishly huge. I watched the moon for a while, then became aware that a human woman was watching me. She seemed to know me, and asked why we’d invaded the halls of the dead. I told her it was to get out of the rain, and that the first cave wasn’t really big enough for the four of us and the animals. She warned me that others would come for the things we had taken.

Story of my life, really.

Ceor fell asleep, and apparently he and Reeshka had dreams that woke them up. Ceor somehow had the dagger we found; it had gone from my bag to his belt. We decided it was probably best to leave it after that. Ceor didn’t seem inclined to go back to sleep, and took Miaako’s watch.

In the morning, Miaako discovered the daggar, and practically begged to take it. I told him no, I don’t know how well he’ll listen. We should probably also leave those damned teeth, but good luck getting them away from Miaako. As we were arguing, we noticed that both the skeleton and the cobwebs had crumbled to dust, which was unsettling enough that I insisted we leave the dagger at least. Those teeth will get us in trouble, though. We got out of there, and discovered that the storm had been a localized phenomena. Given what else happened, that does not inspire confidence.

Miaako dozed off about midday. When he woke up, he was squirming and bouncing and I didn’t want to know. He also had that damned dagger. I know that I was the last one out of the cave and it was still there, and I know that Miaako didn’t go back in. Since the blasted thing seems intent on following us home, I suppose there’s nothing for it. At least we know where it is now. The spirits of the dead can’t get too mad at us for stealing it if we can’t keep it away.

We stopped for lunch for about an hour, and somehow, in that time, the grass grew up and tangled the wheels so firmly that Ceor couldn’t push it out. When he tried to use Anusk to pull it out, all that happened was they ripped the harness poles off. This left us with a choice of either leaving it in the clearing or waiting for the company to catch up with us and get it mended, or just moving all the gear onto the mule and walking.

We picked the latter.

We left a note detailing the situation before we cleared out, though we’re a little concerned about getting too far ahead of the company. We’ll work it out. We decided to stop early for the day, in a place with grass that won’t try to eat us. Ceor told me that he had a dream in which he met his deity, who told him to seek out a lance. I’m not sure if this was a true visitation from the gods, or if his imagination got away with him, but there will be no swaying him from this.

If it was a true visitation, then I might have encountered one myself, that night in the cave. I wasn’t all that polite… but the gods ought to know what kind of man I am. I’ve never asked for anything from the gods, because they wouldn’t listen anyway. She asked me questions and I answered, and we’ll leave it at that.

We reached the ruins in the middle of the day. We’d been wondering why it was so quiet on a known campaign trail, this might explain it. It looks like someone’s been trying to fortify this. The banner they were flying didn’t belong to any known house or city; the last time something like this was used it was a necromancer who’d styled himself a bandit king. I’m not sure if this is connected to the bandit that attacked us before, or if this is an unrelated group of bandits, a cult, or a necromancer and his minions. None of those options is really appealing.

We could choose to assault the place, which is stupid. We could go back and inform the army, which I suspect will end badly for us. We can go around, which I’m sure will end badly.

Before we could decide what to do, we were set upon by That Fucking Hound. I could have lived the rest of my life without seeing that thing again… I still think that bastard somehow managed to adopt a hell hound. Feral wolf my ass…

It’s gotten bigger since the last time I saw it.

I don’t know much of what happened; just about the first thing it did was try to tear my throat out. I missed the whole thing, since I was bleeding to death on the ground. Fortunately, the cleric managed to nullify the death part. Ceor managed to kill it, thank goodness.

If that fucking hound was there, then I know who’s got to be there… and if we’re unlucky, his sister will be with him. I’m not sure if he’s signed on with that group that’s taken over the ruined keep, but I wouldn’t be surprised. In any case, the fact that we’ve killed his dog is likely to make meeting him unpleasant.

Ceor grabbed me and hauled ass, until we got about an hour and a half back up the road, when I finally managed to get him to stop.

I dreamed again. This time, I’m sure it was a visitation; I follow no god, but I come closest to respecting Hecate. I’m reasonably sure I’ve now encountered her other two aspects, and at least I don’t think I’ve caused offense. She told me to seek out her staff… and also that she would approve of my killing my rival. Evidently, the Lady of Shadows does not approve of his choice of companions or allies, which works out because I don’t approve of him. She seemed to indicate that he was either in the keep or at least involved with them.

So I suppose we’re going back tomorrow.

Ceor met his god again, only this time there were three of them. He was disgustingly excited. Once he wound down, I told him about my dream… to an extent. We agreed to go back.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 3
Skeletons, kebabs, and that Fucking Hound

We decided that we needed some more info before getting into the ruined keep; Miaako was volunteered to do the scouting. There were three guarded entrances, and it took us a while to figure out the most tactically appropriate way of doing things. The best suggestion seemed to be some sort of flanking maneuver, though I’ve got no idea why Reeshka is so insistent on riding Anusk. I’ve only met one creature more foul tempered than that horse, and it was that godsdamned hound.

The first guard was spitted on Ceor’s lance so hard that he was dead before he finished sliding. The second didn’t have time to even see what had happened before Miaako and I took care of him. Their swords were fairly decent, and between them they had about 11 gold, but nothing else worth taking.

When we opened the door they were guarding, there was a large courtyard and skeletons. Because of course there were. Fortunately, Disrupt Undead is a useful thing to keep prepared. Ceor neatly dispatched one, but Miaako was too afraid of getting his new dagger dirty to do anything. And then the bird got in my way. Ceor took care of the third one.

The noise caught the attention of the people in the guard tower, so we decided to take initiative. While we didn’t manage to kill them instantly, they were not much of a threat. We were able to convince them to surrender. They were most informative. Although I can’t imagine how they were thinking to extort tolls from passing armies, when four people managed to neatly take them apart. Miaako made off with one of the men’s money pouches and Reeshka deigned to make sure one of them didn’t die.

There were some more guards in another room, but we barred the door shut just to avoid the nuisance. We found an inner room that had something that sounded like something growling. I expect it’s that damn hound. We decided to split up and try to take the guards on the north road, which was a fantastic idea… up until we discovered three of those damn skeletons in the entry way. This meant that we were trying to deal with the damn things while Ceor was still moving into position. This actually worked for us, as Ceor was able to charge hard up on one and skewer him as he had the other one before him. Miaako was ineffectual as always. Reeshka and I took out the skeletons. The second guard was subsequently trampled into unconsciousness by Anusk.

The next guards were a little trickier. They heard us coming, and unfortunately, they were a little more on the ball than their compatriots. Arrows in the chest hurt. Quite a lot, really. Both Miaako and myself took them. Apparently, the competent guards were on the east road.

We dispatched them, but then that… thing started howling. And then more skeletons attacked. Anusk took out the first one. We were still working the other two when that asshole and his psycho sister showed up. Because we have such wonderful luck. Naturally, that beast threw itself at us. And Sionna’s standard form of greeting is to try to take off Ceor’s head. Things got a bit ugly, then. The damn hound tried to take Anusk apart… and was doing a pretty good job of it. That bitch pounded on Ceor for a bit, but we managed to hold them off long enough that she fell back. After some judicious application of frost and lances to the face seemed to at least dismiss it for a while. It’ll probably be back. Due to the shredding of the horse, Miaako used the potion we’d found earlier. It was not just a normal potion of healing. It gave Anusk some sort of shielding. I have no idea what sort of potion it was, but with enough study I can probably find out. We managed to at least hurt that asshole, but both he and his sister retreated via a ladder that led to some underground passage. If we had been in better shape, we’d have followed them; as it was, we just blocked the door. We found a shrine; I expect one or the other of them is following the Hunter. Probably both. It wouldn’t surprise me. I do want to investigate that passage, once we recover a little. Those two are probably long gone, but that I don’t entirely mind. They’ll be back, but I don’t really want to deal with them any more right now. That goddamned hound will probably be back too, since we’ve killed it twice now.

There were a few more guards, but they didn’t take much convincing to get to surrender. Neither did their fellows. Apparently, they feel the same about that fucking hound as I do. We took their longswords and some reasonable shortbows, and Miaako was able to find some more crossbow bolts. All told, we ended up with 21 longswords and 12 shortbows, which we’ll sell once we can. We got about 20 gold more, giving us a total of 31, and all manner of alcohol. After some examination, the shrine could have the insignia of the Hunter removed and it could be made portable. I found one of that asshole’s spellbooks; his spells are mine. I found a letter from someone named Bloodstone; he was instructing that asshole to secure the keep for the march. That sounds… ominous. Upon closer examination, the sealing wax had an insignia embossed on it. It matched that signet ring we took off the first group of bandits. This bears further investigation.

After kicking the bandits out, we decided to secure the place and wait for the company. We’ll see what they say when they get here. Maybe they’ll start taking us seriously.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 4
BOOMSTICKS

We decided to explore in the hole those assholes escaped through. And skirted the mess Reeshka made before. Most of us were being sufficiently quiet; Ceor manage to sound like cookware falling on the floor in leather armor. We spotted a light source and went to investigate.

It turned out to be a large chamber with curiously regular stalactites and stalagmites. At one end was an altar with a curious glowing blue stone. Magical, of course. I think it was a variant of a continual flame spell. And there was a shimmer of school-less magic all over the room. Upon closer examination, it proved to be a smooth sphere, with a blue glow just under the surface, and a dull gray surface underneath. I think it might be a burned out ioun stone. I might have to do some experiments with it. After quite a lot of staring and Ceor swinging me around, I decided it could go in my bag. After shoving everyone away from it, we continued.

Miaako heard something moving around ahead. We saw another thing glowing, but it wasn’t my field. Divine magic, not arcane. We decided to go the other way first. There was a pit in the way, naturally. Upon closer examination, there proved to be two skeletons on the other side, guarding a chance. We figured we might as well check the other way.

I know Ceor means well, but I do wish he’d quit shoving me into walls in an effort to make sure he enters rooms before me.

When we went the other way, we could hear some sort of creature moving around. Turned out to be a ghoul. That’s probably what the ward was for. It ended up taking a good chunk out of Ceor’s arm, but then was quickly smashed into jelly.

Once that nuisance was taken care of, we found an offshoot of the river. Probably how Those Assholes got away. There were signs of a boat, anyway. Once that was established, we went back to deal with the skeletons.

There are these things called guns. Like a crossbow, but nastier.

They had them.

Reeshka fired a crossbow bolt in what I’m convinced was surprise, since she missed incredibly badly. And then Ceor decided the best place to be was where I had no line of sight to anything. Then it was decided that we would not be engaging them today.

I decided to examine the hall of pillars to see if I could determine the source of the weird school-less magic. We found a cavity inside one of the pillars. My staff was inside. Reeshka nibbled on it and pronounced it cold iron. Then continued to nibble on it until I knocked her into a wall. There wasn’t a single mark on it, despite the fact that kobold teeth can easily leave scratches on iron. That seemed like an appropriate cue to leave.

As we were on our way out, Reeshka’s attention was drawn to a pile of rubble. After sniffing it a bit, she found a shield. And decided it would make a good roof. Ceor seemed disinclined to take it away from her.

Once we got topside, we scavenged enough materials to put together a makeshift bridge, and went back down to see if we could deal with the skeletons. Then Ceor promptly fell into the pit and a skeleton shot me. Ceor managed to get back up, and I did some good. And got shot again and lost consciousness. Reeshka corrected that, and I then took one of the skeletons apart. Ceor, meanwhile, was busy getting hit in the face with the rifle but and Miaako was paying more attention to the chest than the fight. The skeleton then fed him the butt of the gun.

And then I blew it up.

Miaako went straight to the chest, of course. While he was examining it, Reeshka handed her roof over to Ceor, stating he could use it better. Miaako found a needle trap on the chest. Ceor seemed to think it would explode and shoved me in the corner, but Miaako disarmed the trap.

He then proceeded to spend twenty minutes unlocking the chest.

There were two bags, one of which was 220 silver pieces, and the other of about 20 assorted semi-precious gems, none of which were particularly valuable. Maybe 25 gold each. Miaako found a scroll, and then thought it would be funny to attempt holding it out of my reach and laughing.

I was nice, I only froze him to the floor.

Turned out to be another letter from Bloodstone, indicating that these were the funds for the upkeep of the fort. I only wanted to see if it was something one of the CASTERS could use to their benefit, so I gave it back. After ten minutes of rambling, self-aggrandizing begging, Reeshka consented to heal him enough to get back upstairs.

Reeshka and I spent some time looking at the shield-slash-roof, and determined that it was made of something called living steel. I know because Reeshka’s teethmarks gradually faded out of it.

My staff had the symbol of the crossroads on it. Seems like I heard somewhere that one of the kingdoms lost in the Mage War that created the Western Wastes had the crossroads symbol as a primary component of their heraldry; Taltreni, I think. Something else to research. It feels so natural to me that I shouldn’t have any problems transferring the arcane bond I placed on my original staff.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 5
Oh God Why

The army arrived with little fanfare and we dumped most of the gear we picked up from the bandits. Miaako managed to get 265 for the bows, 28 for the assorted arrows, 165 for the longswords, 10 for the shortswords, 2 for the daggers, 155 for the masterwork shortsword, and 200 for my old staff. We decided to hang onto the gems and those damn guns. Miaako took a larger cut of the spoils, but since he did the work of selling them, I’m not going to complain too much. The rest of us ended up with 195 gold, 6 silver, and 6 copper. Ceor wandered off to get some barding for Anusk and hopefully some real armor for himself. I am sick of seeing those goddamn squirrel hides.

Ceor was given an updated charter; we’re actually real scouts now, and Ceor was promoted to lieutenant. We’re a real squad now. I’m so thrilled.

I made some scrolls of Mage Armor, just to make room for other spells. I also offered it make some for Miaako, if he paid for them. He didn’t feel confident enough in his own ability to use them properly to take me up on it. At some point, Reeshka procured a riding dog.

I then made Ceor get some FUCKING ARMOR.

And he still kept that goddamn makeshift armor. I might set it on fire.

We set out to continue on the campaign road. It actually was getting a little boring, for the first couple of days. Then we ran into some horrific monstrosities from the Great Beyond called Cythnigots. The equivalent of demons, save that they’re before Hell existed; some of the primal horrors of the Void beyond the planes, the emptiness of Ginnungagap. Certain sages classify them as Qlippoths. They hate reality and want it to go away.

They were pretty goddamn hideous. My gods, they’re ugly. Ceor spitted one, but they’re only really especially vulnerable to cold iron. And they explode into spores. Which coated Reeshka and wrapped her up in nasty fibrous spikes.

Ceor charged the second one and clocked Reeshka, and I almost killed it. Then the mule stomped it into oblivion, and proceeded to nibble the grass next to it, completely unimpressed.

Two more showed up, hanging in the air in exactly the same way that bricks don’t. One charged at Ceor, and one gave Miaako just enough time to take a shot at it before it did the same. Unfortunately, Miaako missed. The thing took a chunk out of Ceor, but at least it didn’t get spores on him. Reeshka was able to get herself free, though she was complaining about her precious scales.

The two creatures seemed content to try to chew on Ceor, but fortunately, he had some decent armor that they couldn’t get through. Then one got tired of that and hovered over near us, freaking out Reeshka in the process. Ceor stabbed the remaining one, and that left us with one. Miaako got a good shot at it, but it didn’t do much. It swooped down and the fucking thing bit me. I tried to hit it with my staff, that was a bad idea.

And that mule just did not give a shit.

Ceor, on the other hand, was rather irritated at its temerity.

He nailed it to the goddamn ground.

I wanted to look around to see how they got here, but Ceor was being his normal overprotective self. Miaako found a circular patch of fungus that was similar to the creatures by a fallen tree, though. We tried to burn it and while I was able to burn the tree nicely, the fungus just sort of bubbled and oozed. We decided to take the time to completely incinerate it. As I was working on it, I got this sense of vertigo, like I was looking into a deep well of oozing shit. That lasted until I got rid of 2/3 of the crap. Now I’m glad I did take the time.

While I was busy with that, Miaako was pouting, and actually managed to find a concealed campsite in one of the rocks, with a strange piece of wood that he not just showed us, he showed off. Extravagantly. Turned out to be a chunk of darkwood, that looked a little like you could hang a lantern on it. Reeshka revealed that she’d had one of those dreams with an important artifact similar to this, so I made Miaako give it to her. She then proceeded to nibble the entire thing. Presumably to learn what she could about it, which wasn’t much, but I suspect also to keep Miaako away from it.

Miaako kept pouting, and found something lodged in a stump. After spending fifteen minutes prying it out, during which period we studiously ignored him, he seemed to find something that he didn’t bother to show us.

Later when we camped out, I noticed that Miaako’s dagger was glowing pale blue very faintly. He let me take a look at it, but I’m not sure what’s causing it. I think the enchantment might still be manifesting. My staff had a similar effect, except it was very faint blue and red lines that seemed like an incomplete pattern. That got my attention, and I looked at the magical shield Ceor had and Reeshka’s new staff. The shield had a very faint yellowish white circular line on it that hadn’t been there before. And Reeskha’s staff seemed to have a barely visible light about where the flame of a lantern would be. I’ll need to make a detailed examination of these items later, when I have time.

Reeshka attempted to start training her dog. It didn’t work.

Nothing much of interest happened on the way to the next town.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 6
Miaako Can't Keep His Beak Shut

We arrived in the town of Feymott, which the army is due to siege. Ceor recieved a Whisper saying that the army will be about a week behind us. Which gives us a week to take advantage of these people.

We stopped at an inn in town. Ceor tried to buy me a drink, but it is extremely easy to switch his drinks, especially since he’ll drink anything you put in front of him, no questions asked. I overheard some general talk about how the Flame at the Throne of Mavros was acting a little funny, which might bear checking into, and something about some jewel thieves, I don’t know about that. Miaako did some snooping around and stumbled across a high stakes poker game that the guards entirely refused to let him into.

Reeshka ate herself into a stupor, and Ceor joined her passed out on the table. Since I am not particularly fond of dogs in my face, I decided to join Miaako outside to check things out. He opened up an upper floor storage room. After some poking around, we discovered a concealed bedroom. The door that looked like it opened into the main tavern was cobwebbed over, probably boarded up from the other side, but there was fresh fruit in the room and it was clean, so someone is staying there, likely hiding. We decided that getting caught there was not on the menu and left.

Miaako told me about some master thieves that were rumored to be around town, but as long as they leave our shit alone, I don’t really care. Then Miaako told me this cockamamie story about how he’s tengu royalty and how he wanted to get a suit made to reflect his status. I tried to explain what a bad idea this was, but I don’t think it sunk in. And then as we were wrapping that up, we discovered a stableboy had been listening. Hopefully, he only heard the bit about the tengu royalty, because we couldn’t catch him. This will end splendidly.

We ended up getting a couple of rooms; the drunks were unceremoniously shoved into one. Miaako and I took the other. And then we woke up to bandits. There was a red-haired gnome that was apparently anxious to kill Miaako, and, well, I don’t enjoy being fucked with.

There are advantages to being a tiefling, though they are few and far between.

It’s hard, after all, to hit what you can’t see.

Of course, Ceor had drunk so much that I couldn’t wake him up immediately. He’s grounded.

Since setting the room on fire would be a bit counterproductive, that did rather limit my options. Miaako got a whistle from somewhere, which only accomplished waking the entire inn, but I suppose I can understand why he didn’t want to get near that sword. The gnome turned out to be a mage as well, and neutralized my darkness. Miaako got on a table and screamed like a little girl.

The gnome set the room on fire, so I didn’t feel any particular reason not to reciprocate. Apparently, being set on fire did not sit well with him, and ran for it. So did one of the bandits, apparently. The one trying to skewer Miaako took the sensible option and surrendered. I went so far as to jump out the window myself to try to catch the gnome, but he was already gone. I did manage to get a parting shot at one more of the bandits, though. Reeshka took it upon herself to put out the fire. She also found a total of 10 plat, 15 gold, and 12 silver, which will be divided between us, 29 gold 5 copper each. We also have three longswords to sell.

That’s about the time the innkeeper and the guards decided to show up.

I was able to take the bandit who I caught fleeing and haul him back to the inn. Jumping out the window hurt like a bitch though. But we had a conscious prisoner to get some information from.

Reeshka took it into her head to chew on one of the bandit’s boots. Gods know why. After that, we had a nice little chat with the one conscious bandit. He was more than happy to provide us with the location of their base in the sewers, along with the fact that they had five more men and six trained rats. But I think I want to try that hidden room first.

Then the watch arrived and took the fools away, and Reeshka asked me about a potion she’d found. Turned out to be a potion of Featherfall. As a side note, the arrival of the watch was all that saved that fool Miaako from getting frosted again. Idiot can’t keep his beak shut…

We decided to check out the secret room on the chance that was where the gnome had got off to. Miaako discovered that he’d rearmed a trap that then set him and Reeshka on fire. Idiot. However, out of curiosity I cast Detect Magic, and came up with a ring with some sort of abjuration effect. I decided to leave it there just to keep the owner from knowing we’d been there. One person who wants to kill us at a time.

After that, we decided to get at least some sleep.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 7
Ceor is an embarrassment to Mavros.

We decided to go investigate the sewers in search of our bandit friends, because I just know that they’ll be a pain in the ass if we don’t. It was not entirely a pleasant prospect, but I’d rather not wake up to a homicidal gnome twice in a row.

The sewers were less horrible than we thought they would be, somewhat. We found some blue magical torches, but I couldn’t tell much about them. Once we followed that tunnel down, we found some stairs. Miaako heard some chirping and squeaking from this general area. Our informant did mention something about guard rats…

I saw some more motion, probably another rat. We decided to do something about it. Miaako took a shot at one of them; he missed, and nicely let them know we were there. Ceor, on the other hand, charged up and pummeled one nearly into the ground. It didn’t like that, and promptly tried to flee. The other tried to bite Ceor in retaliation, but discovered he was made of metal. THIS IS WHY I MADE HIM GET REAL ARMOR. I promptly fed it a force missile, and Ceor finished it off. The other rat proved to be chained. As I didn’t feel like wasting a missile on it, I tried using one of my rays, but I didn’t have a good line of sight. Miaako didn’t do much better and put a crossbow bolt in the door. The rats proved to be chained by collars that were slightly too small, probably because no one bothered to change them.

The rats were guarding a door in marginally better shape, and barred. Miaako took a try at opening it; he of course failed miserably. He did find a concealed keyhole, though. He managed to get that open after some fiddling around, and triggered a mechanism to unbar it as well.

We let Ceor go first, of course, but he was blinded by the grandeur of the door, and was almost mauled by the rat or on the other side. I did not care much for that, and did something about it. A moment later, so did Ceor. Unfortunately, another one showed up to try to take chunks out of Ceor as well. Miaako slipped past it and tried to stab it, but it looked more like posing. I swear that’s what threw my own aim off. I could have done more than scorch it… Fortunately, Ceor’s next blow finished the thing off.

There were two more rats that were chained in the room itself. They didn’t prove much of an issue, being chained up, but there was no real reason not to put the horrid things out of their misery. Though scorched rat smells particularly awful.

We found some doors, and Reeshka found a fruit cart that she promptly started stuffing her face with. One door was warded with abjuration and conjuration runes, which we did not feel like messing with just yet. As we explored, I heard someone mumbling on the other side of one of the doors. After some debate, the idea of setting a trap was proposed. Reeskha took a few minutes to rig up a rough tripwire with an acid flask.

We explored the other room; it appeared they had been butchering rats there. Gods know why, I certainly don’t want to. As we were leaving, someone triggered Reeshka’s trap.

Turned out to be goblins. I guess that explains the butchered rats.

The first one managed to dodge the trap, but the second got an acid flask to the head. I promptly gave the first the gift of a force missile, and Reeshka did something to make him drop his sword. Then Miaako, ineffectual as always, planted a bolt in his shield. Then Ceor just shoved his sword through the first goblin’s skull.

As a general note, burning goblin smells even worse than burning rat.

Miaako then made a flying tackle and landed dagger first. It was somewhat impressive, though I’ll never tell him.

We decided to explore the room the goblins had been lurking in. Reeshka and Miaako found some small chests, and I found a shelf full of papers. There was a spellbook up there, which I will be poking around in, a scroll case, and what appeared to be a selection of deeds. Miaako’s chest turned out to be full of silver jewelry, and there were some bags of copper jewelry. There was a larger chest at the end that seemed to be full of cloth, silk mostly. Sheets, drapes, clothing, etc.

The base or whatever it was seemed to be near a back alley of the town; as the entrance we came in through was near the edge of town (though still inside); this could prove useful.

There was a further room, filled with all manner of alcohol. Ceor’s idea of heaven, obviously. I found a paper that seemed to have some sort of recipe for alcohol. Reeshka found another chest, this one full of spices. Mostly brewing spices, naturally.

Reeshka found a torch holder that looked strange, and upon closer examination seemed to be hinged. Miaako took a look on it, but didn’t tell us much more than we already knew. Reeskha jumped up and hung from it, and triggered something. After Ceor got Reeshka down, he opened the door that was revealed. There was a tunnel that lead back through the rock. We found a second chamber, with a large gate and a lever. There were a couple more bandits, a human and a goblin on the other side of the gate. They didn’t see us; given the copious alcohol freely available, they were probably drunk. As we didn’t think it possible to take them by surprise, we retreated for the moment and decided to go check the warded door.

It took him an hour, but Miaako was able to find ways around the runes one by one; he does occasionally have his uses. The moment he did so, of course, a goblin charge out and stabbed Ceor. We had some strong reactions to that, which resulted in him stabbing ME for what I’m sure are unrelated reasons. Entirely unrelated. Ceor took exception, and Reeshka finished it off.

Reeshka found a medallion that she promptly gave to Miaako; I suspect it does something unpleasant.

And then the gate at the other end of the passage swung open to reveal five assholes who wanted to make life unpleasant and probably short. Two hid under a table and sniped at us. They shot myself and Miaako. Quite a lot. We managed to take out the first one who engaged, but more got there just then. So I resorted to drastic measures. I’d apologize for catching Miaako on fire as well, but I’m really not sorry. There was more stabbing all around. One of them stabbed Miaako again before he died. I put another down. Somehow, Ceor was the least effective of us during this fight… gods know how.

Miaako, for a change of pace, was the favored pincushion, and got himself carved like a goose. Then Reeshka finished the bastard off, which just left a single sniper. Ceor charged him like a madman, and finally managed to accomplish something.

It was not our best showing.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 8
THAT FUCKING GNOME

In retrospect, going through the warded door wasn’t our best idea; it used up a good many of our resources getting through it. One can hope that the brunt of the forces were here.

There was a room with two large spiders in it; I’m hoping they can be avoided. There wasn’t much else of interest in here, save some surprising accounts of the bandits’ take. We looted the bodies; we got about 50 gold, a silver ring with some etchings, a potion that was some sort of enchantment (according to Reeshka, it would let the imbiber cast Charm Person once). The ring showed as magical, but neither Reeshka nor I have any idea what it is. I need to do some identifying work…

As we were examining the bodies, Ceor heard footsteps approaching, but the man does not know the meaning of stealth. The noise proved to be another bandit approaching with some sort of body; I expect it was feeding time for the spiders. We were going to try to sneak attack the bandit, but Reeshka flubbed it, and he ran off screaming about intruders. So we bolted.

We decided that we were going to try to ambush them, but after waiting for five minutes, they hadn’t come after us. I thought I heard someone screaming, but discretion dictated that we shouldn’t get involved. Which worked, up until Reeshka heard it and told Ceor. Noble idiot. So, naturally, we had to go look into it. Miaako and I followed under protest.

We slipped through the spider cage; there were no spiders to be seen. Which was somewhat worrisome. However, the screaming cut off before we got there. Honestly, though, who expected us to rescue the woman alive?

Ceor charged before I saw who it was; obviously someone he took issue with. As he engaged, I heard someone down the passage scream ‘fuck this shit’ and run.

Smart man.

It turned out to be the gnome who tried to kill me. And Miaako, I guess. One of us will die, anyway.

Another bandit showed up, but showed signs of rethinking his life. It would make my life easier if he decided to bugger off too.

Cindersong proved to be smarter than I had originally expected; he had a potion of invisibility, and bolted, despite Ceor laying him open. He managed to get away from us, the bastard. I WILL end that son of a bitch. It’s personal now.

We found a few more captives who were still alive, and a lot of unattractive implements of torture. According to Reeshka, gnomes as a race tend to diabolism. Now I have even more reason to turn him into an amorphous pile of ash. And possibly take up genocide as a hobby.

The villagers were delighted, of course; I wonder what they’ll think when the army arrives to lay siege. Ceor was told that the village leaders want to meet with us in two days at noon; gods know how that’ll go.

It was nice to get a nice night’s sleep.

As I was going through the papers, I found another letter from Bloodstone, this one unopened. Apparently, he expected Cindersong to fund his empire. That worked well. I also discovered a ring with a magical signature. I’ll add it to the list of identifying work I need to do.

All of the items we’d picked up had some sort of enhancement on them now, that seemed to have spontaneously developed. Additionally, Ceor’s sword seems to be sparking in the dark.

The silver ring proved to be one of protection. The ring from Bloodstone proved to be a stealth enhancement. I gave the protection ring to Reeshka. And I gave the stealth ring to Ceor because GODSDAMN HE NEEDS IT. He sounds like an entire rack of cookpots falling over.

The book proved to be a set of deeds belonging to someone in Friula. A warehouse and lots of goods. The back binding proved to be a little loose; when I lifted it, there proved to be a sheet of paper with some spells; Grease, True Strike and Enlarge Person. The spellbook I found had five more spells: Anticipate Peril, Corrosive Touch, Crafter’s Touch, Burning Gaze, and Fire Breath. Most excellent. I’ll be adding them to my spell book as soon as possible.

The other scroll we found seemed to be divine magic unfortunately, so I’ll see what Reeshka can do with it. According to her, it contained Ant Haul and Protection from Evil. I’ll take her word for it.

Miaako also brought up some ridiculous double-bladed sword; we’ll see if we can’t get anything for it when the army gets here. Everyone took some advantage of the downtime to do some shopping. We still have three longswords and two muskets to sell, and that ridiculous double sword.

When we went to the meeting, the town council proved to be an eclectic mix; a human female and a kobold who were probably warriors, and a dwarf who I suspect was a mage of some sort. Also a tiefling, which pleased me somewhat.

The council thanked us for removing a threat they didn’t even know they had. And then the dwarf pointed out that it WAS the campaigning season and that we were strangers. We’ll see how this goes.

Really, he figured it out pretty quickly. I thought it best to be honest; I think he’d have seen through a lie anyway. His view was that as it was inevitable and that we had rendered such a great service, they’d raise a white flag. As long as the army doesn’t push the tithes too much, it should be okay. And the council decided to reward us anyway.

I could get used to this.

Miaako actually made a show of returning a locket he’d found; it made an impression.

The reward included a deed to a plot of land for each of us in the city; I have no idea what we’re going to do with them.

I asked if they knew anything about Bloodstone. The name was familiar to them, and the dwarf thought it might’ve belonged to one of the reaver clans to the north. As I was checking my notes, I realized that one of the graves we found right after we left Friula had the name of Magda Bloodstone on it. This bears more investigation.

The bags had 1500 gold. Each. And a title.

I could get very used to this.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 9
This Was a Good Day

Naturally, the first order of business was going out to a bar. I didn’t particularly want to go, but when has that ever stopped Ceor? They wanted to take advantage of our new relative positions and go to the expensive, fancy place. Because we totally fit in there. It wasn’t the most comfortable place to enter, but as long as Ceor and Reeshka had drinks in front of them, they don’t care.

This will end splendidly.

Reeshka was delighted to find out they served fire drake… I’m not entirely sure I want to know why.

Most of the talk in the place was about the campaigning season. One person was lamenting the loss of a letter of credit; so far as I know, it didn’t turn up with the bandits. Even odds that it’s still hidden in someone’s boot, Miaako has it, or it was eaten by a rat.

It was rather comical when Miaako discovered that Reeshka’s firedrake steak was coated with gold dust. It was all wretchedly expensive, of course. Reeshka got absolutely smashed, but what do you expect when you try to drink as much as Ceor? Fortunately, the big lug was too drunk to notice me emptying my drink into his. I hate alcohol. Miaako was incredibly wobbly, but Ceor astonishingly was able to walk in a straight line.

I resisted the urge to make loud noises outside of everyone’s houses in the morning, and instead decided to go see if I could find more spells to add to my collection. I found a nice bookshop run by another tiefling. I enjoyed it, and found a spellbook of necromancy spells. Completely full of them. I was in an exceptionally good mood, and purchased it for the full price he asked. Then I went to get breakfast at the inn we’d stayed at before.

Breakfast was unremarkable. I heard some rumors about the Flame of Mavros behaving strangely, slimy things at the docks, and an army from the north marching towards Feymont. It’s not ours, but ours will be here first. I’ll pass it along.

Also heard something about the old man at the bookstore finally getting rid of the book of spells he’s been trying to fob off on someone for a year. I’m sure he drastically overcharged me, but what the hell, I’m feeling generous.

As I was heading back, Reeshka blew past me, and after consideration, I decided it wasn’t worth chasing after her. If she’s up, the other two have probably recovered by now. And if they get into any trouble, I’ll hear about it. I elected to go back and add my new spells to my spellbook.

I had some peace for a while, then the others decided to return. Ceor decided to buy Miaako and I horses. That was nice. I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. I’m not exactly good with people or animals. And Miaako bought clothes which does not surprise me in the least.

Ceor, naturally, wanted to check out the Temple of Mavros. Because of course he did. I felt uncomfortable there, more so than I usually do. It wasn’t entirely unlike what it felt like walking the streets of Friula, where they don’t like me. I wonder if this is paranoia, or if something is wrong. The priest indicated that he wanted us to go check out whatever was invading the docks. They’re not really sure what it is, but it doesn’t seem to be malicious, just mischievous. Cut rigging, minor sabotage, but no real harm.

There was no talking Ceor out of it, naturally. But the priest said he’d be able to give us something to help. He took us down to the temple armory, which made those among the party attracted to shiny objects incredibly happy. He ended up giving us six bottles of some sort of oil that would turn their swords and daggers into blessed flaming weapons of Mavros. Hopefully they don’t set themselves alight. If they’re going to be set on fire, I’m going to do it.

As soon as we went outside, the uncomfortable feeling went away. I’ve never felt that way in a temple before, and Ceor’s dragged me to plenty of them. Odd. Something’s going on there.

We went to check out the docks; the trouble doesn’t start til about midnight. Ceor and Reeshka discovered the most common targets are the largest ships. Malicious pranks seem most reminiscent of the fae. They’re resistant to most injuries, though they are particularly vulnerable to cold iron. Fortunately, the docks themselves seem to be constructed largely of stone…

And in a move that surprised me, someone had the sense to notify the local night watchmen that we’d be here and preferably they shouldn’t open fire on us.

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