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Spy Master Rudolf Quinn's Unfinished Letter On The Competent Adventurers
Adventurer Log 0.5- Detailing The Start To The Literal Second Melantir Got Annoyed At Azavir

The Chronicles of the Competent Adventurer’s

(Report sent to the Merchant Council of Sanctuary, compiled by Spymaster Rudolf Quinn.)

Members of the Merchant Council, high rule of Sanctuary, I’m afraid my spies much again report failure in tracking our wayward citizens who fled during the dragon attack. Though most have been located and persuaded to return, those that settled in the swampland in Port Janus area have proven elusive. Misfortune continues to plague the investigation. Scrying has proved inclusive for some unknowable reason and I’ve lost contact with too many good men to continue trying to probe it on foot.

More fruitful have been our efforts to learn more about the individuals who brought about said dragon; the ‘criminal masterminds’ as Councillor Venn refers, though I believe ‘recklessly competent adventurers’ holds more true. Generally I would not bore or incriminate the Council with the particulars of my method, however due to the subjective nature of our sources I believe that for full disclosure I should reveal.

Primarily we have to thank the magical ‘bugging’ of the Inquisitor Azavir’s journal to thank; though it lack some of the details we’ve found some intimidation ,and a distressingly large amount of speak with dead spells, loosened the lips of witnesses. Razza’s recent drinking has also helped a great deal; the boy sings like a canary complaining about his working conditions. As well as the assistance of a very creepy but knowledgeable slyph named Fitz; who is more than willing to speak at length about the group’s exploits particularly Moxy’s.
Also tell Councillor Venn to keep his ideas to himself from now on, the advanced copy of Moxy Charisma’s book he suggested was not worth the effort to obtain.

Still I believe the following reading should prove… enlightening.
-
*Part 1
The Tome*
The adventurer’s first encounter with each other was in Port Janus, specifically the local branch of the Melantirian Church. It was, and still is, a loose collection of men and women of the cloth and assorted mercenaries; Azavir, Ingrid, Razza, Simon, Silthian and Moxy. You may refer to my previous reports for more information on this motely bunch, though my information reveals there were also a ranger and young thief who seem to have disappeared from the quest rather suddenly. Can’t say I blame them, however our band of dragon makers were actually on a rather important quest.

The Church of Melantir was in possession of very interesting artefact, the Tome of the Undergates, they had tasked the group to deliver the tome to island to the south, the Windy Peaks, capable of destroying the dangerous artefact. Boarding a ship almost immediately the group set out, their ship was supplied by the Church with a full crew and captain. Accompanying them was a trusted priest of the Church, there either to assist or keep an eye on the mercenaries and some of the fellow Melantir devotees. From what we’ve found about Razza, the later seems more likely.

Along the way the party encountered its first battle as group, goblins of the Tutorial clan, it did not get off to a great start. Still the party displaced the goblins and after a discussion about the usefulness of a backup raft, opted to let the goblins’ vessel drift out to sea. Things are often humorous in retrospect.

The burden of carrying the Tome of the Undergates revealed itself when their ship was covered by magical fog, carrying a force of Aboleths and Drowned Men. The adventurers were on the back foot at first, however they managed to hold off the Aboleths were varying degrees of success. Azavir attempted to carve his name into one, while Ingrid miraculously avoiding suffocating in a mucus trap discovering the demon’s weakness to fire in the process.

However the Drowned Men took advantage of the chaos to sneak below deck, where the Tome was watched over the priest and thief. Razza followed and coldly prioritised the protection of the tome even as the priest was being choked to death. The others followed but the fierce battle proved for naught, when the tentacles of Ulbecatoth reached from the depths and crushed the boat into splinters. Azavir attempted to follow the demons north, but couldn’t keep pace. While Razza dove down to witness the tentacles retreat into the abyss, the honeyed words of Ulbecatoth invading his mind.

Adrift in the sea the group miraculously washed ashore, the priest and formed ship captain in tow, wracked by exhaust many of the adventurers collapsed. This left Ingrid, Silthian and Moxy alone to contend with vicious lizardmen. Or so they claim, the lizardmen actually seemed quite friendly. They struck a bargain, a canoe and supplies enough to reach the mainland in exchange for an ancestral axe hidden away in an ancient volcanic temple.

Along with Azavir, who had awoken by that time, they navigating the traps and undead of the temple to locate the axe hidden within an active binding circle, sealed along with a devil who apparently knew them. They did not recognise the devil, though the devil recognised Azavir enough to compliment his work. However unbelievable the devil appeared to be the great demon Asmodeus, the highest power in hell, naturally the fools insulted and accidently unbound the devil freeing him to do evil. With his thanks Asmodeus left, the adventurer’s claimed the axe whose cursed nature whispered terrible promises to Azavir. Unimpressed he tied the axe to his pack and the group returned to the lizardmen.

With their companions having recovered, the lizardmen took the axe to slay the ‘human’. Wary, and a bit proud of having their suspicions confirmed, they followed prepared to stop the lizardmen only to be taken to a large bull surrounded by lizardman bones. Confused they let the bull be slain and returned to a celebration in their honour. With supplies and as well a canoe as they would get on that island, they paddled the leagues to Dwarvheim. Skipping out on the dock fair, scoundrels, they rendezvoused with the Church, meeting the respected Father Bumpo.

There they learned the true nature of the Tome, its ability to summon and maintain portals of any size and between any of the planes. With the danger this possessed in the hands/tentacles of the demon mother they had to act fast. Armed and funded by the church, presumably due to a lack of options, they set about preparing for a journey to the Abyss. They also did some general shopping and visited Ingrid’s parents, for some reason. Seemed pleasant enough sort of folk, my spy reported that she received some stew when she infiltrated/visited.

Seeking out a boat captain they attempted to hire the services of a rather traditional pirate, due to a sardonic slip of the tongue on Razza’s part it didn’t work. Though he tried to make sure no-one remembered that time. Learning from this Razza with the young thief’s help formed a plan; forging a treasure map which would take them over the Abyss they convinced a rival captain, Jack Nine-Strings, to grant them charter with very reasonable rates. Though Nine-Strings seems to have an issue judging age when he came onto the thief, we hope.

The Church provided the name of Robillard, who could supply the group with magic making them capable of breathing water and surviving the depths of the Abyss. Only the Melantirians would call a drunk like Robillard a reliable wizard, though there was no denying the man knew his stuff. In a surprise the waif Moxy was able to drink the man under the table, with a liquid meal of Troll Liquor no less. Essentially shanghaiing the wizard they prepared to depart for the Abyss.

Nine-String strange homunculi crew provided capable sailors and brought the group within sight of the Abyss. There was, of course, dancing with danger from the beginning. Demons are bad enough, but every sailor in these isles knows that if you travel too far north in these waters, then you’re at the mercy of the blue dragon of the oceans. The fearsome Lavarosse. Only luck could only get them through the seas undetected by her; they don’t seem to have a lot of regular luck.

Incredible luck though, they have in spades it would seem. Fortune enough that this was their first trip, they received rite of passage from the dragon. With one very strict condition, that they would never again cross Lavarosse’s path. Lest she make sport of them.
If you recall the bizarre metrological event that took place that day, one can only imagine how bad it was at the epicentre. Blood raining from the sky in sheets enough to spook any sane man. Though the captain might be such a sane man, the adventurers were not. Nine-Strings though were informed in no uncertain terms, by Azavir, that Melantir would be displeased by any attempt to turn around. Enough that her followers might display her wrath, physically.

Fighting off demons bearing the faces of the innocent, horrific in their audacity, they managed to place the boat as close to the Abyss as Nine-Strings and the sea would allow. As no chain would reach down that far they were forced to attach themselves to a heavy anchor and sink. Trusting that Robillard’s spell could return them to the surface again, once business was complete. Accompanied by one of the homunculi crew, and fully enchanted, the group disappeared under the waves.

Falling for hours into the freezing cold the group touched ground, to an extent, in a massive kelp forest. Breaking free lest they end up like the bloated corpses trapped in the tangled sea-plant. They escaped only to fall to a more dangerous trap, the innocuous wisp-like lure of the Lightbringer consort to Ulbecatocth. It fooled Razza into believing its good intentions, though he didn’t hesitate much when his allies attempted to strike down the creature.

The battle seemed grim at first; though the spell casters covered well with illusions while the warriors landing several good hits in melee. They had the advantage in numbers alone. It was when the homunculi disarmed an electrified falchion from the Lightbringer that spelled the creatures doom. With co-ordinated effort Silthian pulled the weapon away from the demon via magic, rushing in Azavir discarded his own falchion to grab the demon’s weapon mid-stride and bring it against its former owner. With a might cleave the Lightbringer was decapitated. Claiming both the sword and head as his prize Azavir lead the party deeper into the Abyss, with Sicknasty taking up the inquisitor’s former weapon. While Moxy pocketed an unusual trinket from the demon’s neck.

At the very centre of the Abyss was the demon mother’s congregation, a veritable army of Drowned Men watched over by a pair of Aboleths. At the centre of their worship were the great tentacles of Ulbecatocth, the Tome of the Undergates ready to fully unleash the sea mother.

Devising a plan Azavir heaved the severed head of the Lightbringer before the congregation, backed with the magic of Ingrid and Moxy for dramatic effort and Moxy and Silthian draped over his legs for sex appeal. He delivered an impassioned speech of fire and brimstone before the Ulbecatocth devotees hoping to sway them to the Melantir Faith. Under this cover of religion, Razza attempted to sneak past to claim the Tome. However the act fell flat, the demons were driven into combat with an Aboleth singling out Razza.

In an honestly incredible display the group proved far greater at smiting than sleight of hand, as they worked together to slay the hoard of Drowned Men. Both Simon and Razza each crippled an Aboleth in single combat. Sicknasty and Ingrid slew the Drowned Men while assisting Azavir in cutting a path through. The tiefling claimed the ancient tome, but returned to help his allies finished off the demons. Razza was pulled into a grapple with the demon, somehow surviving while he and his comrades worked to finish it off.

Just as the last demons were cut down, backup of a force of unfamiliar purple women encouraged the group’s retreat. With Tome in tow, they floated to the top of the sea, and the boat directly above them. Sicknasty, unable to float, had to remain on the bottom. Since he did impress the party and was given orders to meet up with them at shore.
Their arrival on the boat was not meet with the hail of returning heroes they expected, all around them the homunculi, those left above, boat had been rendered inert. Not dead, they found but inert. Well most of them, the lucky ones, though even the unlucky were not the ones in the worst state.

On the deck was the body of Jack Nine-Strings, slain by a truly horrific wound.
Seeing the hatch below deck open they readied weapons and plunged down below, expecting the worse. A massive purple skinned woman was ready for them, no doubt protected by her own muscles more so than the patchwork armour she wore. To say she was a mirror for those purple skinned amazons at the bottom of the sea would be a disservice; they were her match only in race and her betters only in number. Never the less the two were clearly connected.

The formalities were brief, the woman gave her name as the Unscarred, and they commenced battle. The fight seemed impossible; this woman outclassed them individually but matched them as a group. Of course, her name was no bluff of untouchability but the truth, as any wounds would knit themselves closed even in battle.

It seemed the Unscarred would not stop until she got what was she wanted, naturally she wanted the book. It was Moxy who turned the tide, with a mix of beguile and cunning she tricked the warrior woman into believing a seemingly harmless necklace was the Tome of the Undergates. You may have guessed that by stressing ‘seemingly harmless’ I mean the opposite, the necklace was a cursed curio that Moxy had obtained from the demon goddesses’ consort. I’d fathom she brought it from such an occurrence, surely she can’t have been as much of a ditz as she seemed. Likely not a question that needs answering now.

The ploy worked and the Unscarred fled, for now, leaving the group to patch their wounds, bury the dead and work out a way to get the boat to port. The cataloguing of Nine-String’s treasure goes unsaid.

Via magical control rod Moxy got the homunculi moving once more, and all too willing to obey, essentially making her captain of the ship. Intent on moving out they never the less stopped to allow a stranger on board, a lizardman who had against all odds navigated his small canoe to the deepest point in the ocean. No doubt through the blood rain and demon swarms, simply because he didn’t know where he was going. Actually, that makes a lot of sense.

In a few days travel they arrive in Port Janus to touch base with their contacts in the Church of Melantir. Though most spend their time shopping for supplies, or just shopping as the case may be. I suppose I forget to mention that by this point, it had been a small tradition of Moxy’s to try her hand at dancing. The coin I presume was secondary; she rather enjoyed the attention more. Good and bad, this time though it was very good. Enough to attract the attention of a more reputable sort than you’d expect at Port Janus dockside.

A wealthy noble-man, though closer to a noble-boy if you ask me, had organised a party that night. A party of fancy dress and merriment, in respectable moderation of course, the exotic performance of a half-eleven dancer seemed perfect for this kind of occasion. Naturally her sister and companions were invited as well, provided no mess they couldn’t fix was to be made.
They didn’t forget they carried an item of un-imaginable power; however they now had the possession of a Bag of Holding, an inter-dimensional space and the workhorse of magical items. With it they could hide the artefact and yet keep it on them at all times. Either over-trusting or over confident they prepared of a party of elegance, some even organising fine dresses and robes naturally this included Moxy and Silthian.

In a large palanquin, carried by the homunculi from the ship, they arrived and were announced to the guests. Moxy and Silthian worked together to make a suitable scene for their arrival, and Moxy’s subsequent performance, wowing the guests and host. Meanwhile the others mingled with the rich guests; somehow the only thing that was stolen was a fish. Busta befriended an old solider, Azavir a young ditz while Ingrid found herself with the attention of a gnomish noblemen. Busta even won the fancy dress contest.

For a while it seemed the party was entirely what it seemed, honestly the party itself probably was, but its host had a secondary goal. He ushered the group away from the crowds, and into his private office. His right hand, a red headed sorcerous, kept watch over them in a manner that spoke volumes about what was going to come. Completely straight, the noble-boy set his ultimatum; they would give him the Tome of the Undergates in exchange for more riches than they could carry. Actually with a bag of holding they could have carried practically all the riches, however the host did not appear to know they had this, indeed that was what saved them. Perhaps it saved us all.

As dangerous as these adventurers are, they possess two qualities that I can’t deny, their competence in battle and nobility in their mission. Unwilling to surrender the tome for riches the group cunningly lied, agreeing to deliver the tome by tomorrow, once they had recovered it from its safe hiding place in the city.

The noble-boy seemed surprised and chewed out his sorcerous companion, who must have sensed they had brought the artefact with them. With no evidence that they group had lied to him, and when it became apparent that the large tome could not be carried by them at the moment. He did have their word that the tome would be his, and since the reward would not be delivered until he had the tome, he had little reason to doubt. Except perhaps a niggling feeling in the back of his mind.

Thus they left the mansion as the party wound down, the guest returning home either to sleep or to continue drinking. The adventurers seemed content to put distance between them and the boy and his pet enchantress, my men though will endeavour to keep eyes on this particular noble in the future.

Returning to their ship the party set sail to resume their quest, the Windy Peaks were a great number of days sail away but that was the only place the Tome could be permanently destroyed. Or so they hoped.

Arriving at their ship they found the gang-plank up, which was expected as they had left orders, but the only homunculi they could talk to was unwilling to put it down. In a hurry to leave they argued with the creature until an unseen individual ordered the homunculi to let them on. They stepped on board warily, and found that the majority of the homunculi encased in pillars of ice, and the remaindered somehow scared.

At the bow of the ship stood a purple skinned man, donning the long following robes synonymise (clichéd) with wizard. As well as the air of superiority, and the crackle of magic powerful, synonymise with powerful bastards. He called himself Sheraptus, and laid out his plan for domination of the material plane by bringing an army through the gate. He could not be intimidated or reasoned with, and he gave the party a new ultimatum and a cloth sack.
‘Place the Tome in this sack in a week, or I will start killing your families, your friends and another one any of you have associated with.’ He disappeared leaving them with this disturbing news, they all thought of their loved ones and feared for them. Except Razza, he thought about his family and family outside the party, and drew the conclusion that the one he liked can take this fool and the ones he doesn’t care for will… well what happens happens. That kid has issues.

As a majortiy, they were not willing to merely give this man the Tome and instead formulated a plan to deal with a powerful wizard. Seeking allies they headed for the Tower of the Bondsmagi, the wizard Silthian convinced that she could charm the powerful wizards into helping deal with the purple man. At the very least they could steal some spells or potions.
The group though was stonewalled by the Tower’s guardian golem, who wouldn’t let them in just to talk and insulted Silthian when she asked for initiation into the Tower. However when they mentioned Sheraptus they were surprised when the golem assumed they wanted to see him, and that the golem would call for Sheraptus.

A scant minute later and they were faced with the man who threatened to kill their families, the one who they had come to the tower for the, mostly, sole purpose of stopping. Sheraptus was not amused by the coincidence, he wasn’t much actually, and he simply cast a spell against the adventures before they could draw their weapons. Reducing each of them to the approximate size of a doll.

Unwilling to be deterred, the group fashioned togas from the scraps of their now giant clothing, and found a gap in the great door large enough to slip thru in their now tiny forms. Sheraptus was gone by the time they got in, and with the challenge that single stair now proved, things were going to be interesting.

It took them almost a quarter of the day to climb to the next floor, but fortunately this one had more opportunity then the entrance hall. They had come to the library, students weaved amongst the book stacks, studying and chatting in equal measures.

Pulling themselves onto a nearby desk with effort they tried to attract the attention of an awkward red haired boy. Suitably surprised and nervous, the boy never the less understood that things like this happened at the tower, though never before to him. He couldn’t provide much information on the ‘new visitor’ Sheraptus, just that the Archmage of the tower treated him as an honoured guest.

Derwent Fitzgerald, as the boy was called, could however be convinced that the adventurers needed assistance returning to their proper size, and perhaps that Sheraptus was a danger to the tower and needed to be dealt with. As long as the boy wasn’t involved in any fighting and the adventurers would in turn help him with his lady love at the tower. I can confirm that Derwent’s life did not get better from meeting these adventurers; he was in fact hung officially for stealing and then losing powerful potions for the adventurers, though officially as a scapegoat for their actions at large. A pitiable boy, but his actions did directly lead to the very dragon that appeared in our city.

I’m getting ahead of myself, now that the adventurers had enlisted Derwent’s help they sent him away to find out more about Sheraptus. However in doing so they now left themselves open to attack, fortunately it was only a cat that came for them.

Though you can imagine that even a cat with that kind of size discrepancy could well have been disastrous, it was only the natural gnomish skills of Ingrid Forestwalker that saved them all from having to fight a giant cat. They likely would have won, but almost being killed by a giant cat is not the sort of thing an adventurer wants to remember over ale. Utilising her ability to talk with animals she convinced the cat that they would bring it food if it would be patience and not cause a disturbance.

Sure enough when Derwent returned he found the cat quite calm around the small humanoids, as per the adventurers request he had procured a number of sharpish sewing needles. As well as the knowledge of where potions and poisons were kept in the tower as well as the likely location of Sheraptus’ room on the forbidden level, though the boy was squeamish about it. All together the party could enact their assassination plot, with the hope that doing so would break Sheraptus’ spell.

With only a slight detour to the kitchen for the cat’s meal, they set off for the potion’s vault, hidden in the hood of Derwent’s robe. In the potion’s room it was Silthian’s task to locate a suitably vile vial of posion. In a fit of inspiration and skill she also noted a small vial of a Potion of Dispelling, aware that a backup plan was needed in case Sheraptus’ spell doesn’t break upon his death. They grabbed two just in case, though in the back of her mind Silthian was already brewing together a gruesome plan.

The sound of footsteps signalled the time to leave, however they were unwilling to let this moment go without taking something for them. Thus noting that the more powerful potions, such as greater dispelling, seemed to be in the particularly small vials they also took one such vial at random. One that Silthian couldn’t identify, before Derwent had to leave, or they would be caught.

Now with everything they needed for the task Derwent took them to the entrance of the forbidden level. Located under the headmaster’s quarters it was likely the spare rooms for guests of the Tower, though it was so rarely used that students had concocted a number of ghost stories for the place and usually went up there to stare at the door in terror. Derwent would take his small charges no further; though the risk of being caught with a group of tiny assassins as they went about their business might have actually factored more than ghosts in this case.

With great care and caution, and a lot of time, the adventurers snuck into Sheraptus’ room. By passing both magical doors, a regular sized –corridor which to them was a great trek – and hiding from the ass kissing right hand to the Archmage.

Taking advantage of their stature they scurried underneath a wardrobe, and readied themselves to attack while he slept. They had to wait a while, as it was revealed in circumstances that left little to the imagination, the wizard Sheraptus and the warrior woman the Unscarred were lovers.

It wasn’t until eight hours laters that the two had finished, and another two hours to ensure the pair were deep asleep. It at least gave them time to sharpen their needles on the stone floor, and also brainstorm a plan of attack.

Uncorking the poison the group readied their needles, while Busta readied one vial of the Dispelling Potion to carry with them onto the bed. Scaling the sheets the carefully climbed onto the soft matress and positioned their tiny forms at specific places around Sheraptus. At his ears, neck, feet and eyes most of the party awaited the signal to stab the wizard with needles coated in a powerful poison. This would be the Plan B when they’re inevitably crazy Plan A failed, which would act as the signal to stab.

Busta readied himself on Sheraptus chest, watching the wizard mouth as he attempted to count out a rhythm. With vial of Dispelling Potion under one arm, and a sharp poisoned needle in the other, Busta leapt into Sheraptus’ mouth. His poison needle aiming for his uvula, though the lizardman fully expected to hit the teeth and stab his gums.
It was a fortunate surprise when Sheraptus’ breathed out at just the right second, allowing Busta to smoothly sail through his teeth to lodge in his throat. The wizard stirred quickly as he gagged on the lizardman shaped obstruction.

Acting quickly the others stabbed their needles deep into the Wizard’s exposed soft parts, intending to ensure the netherling was poisoned even when he spit Busta out. Meanwhile Busta himself uncorked the potion, though in the wet and awkward position he found himself, it was more likely he smashed the bottle over his head and drunk what splashed down.

Within seconds Busta expanded to his full seven foot stature, still within Sheraptus’ throat. It was the least clean decapitation to ever occur. Those still on the bed had to cover themselves or drown in the gore, fortunately within several seconds of his beheading –they say the head still stays alive for a time, bet this one had the rudest awakening –the spell was broken.

The adventurers returned to their normal size, though naked and due to the sudden size shift sprawled in a bit of a pile along with Sheraptus’ corpse (still better than the last group of adventurers to cause large scale damage to our city, those freak would have done something like for fun- in the biblical sense). It sounded incredibly disgusting, even for an assassination; I have it on good authority that at least Razza still has nightmares about the event.

The Unscarred was left unscathed from the event, however her body was thrown from the double bed, confused and covered in the red of her lover she blearily surveyed the scene in shock.

Her face, initially an expression of surprise, shifted quickly as she realised what had happened, however unlikely it could have been. The Unscarred’s expression was stuck between utter sorrow and pure horror, the expression when one can’t decide whether to scream or cry. However as her eyes began to show recognition, her face was the picture of rage.

Smashing through the door behind her she called for the guards, informing the entire tower of Sheraptus’ assassination. The adventurers were naked and had only seconds to flee, grabbing what they could in the room they leapt from the window, relying on skill to avoid a brutal death on the sharp rocks and roiling waves below.

Silthian’s Slow Fall carrying most of the group to safety, allowing them to safely protect their loot as they treaded water. However Razza was left with the damaged body of Busta –injured as he was in the events –unsure how much a good idea this was, he followed the others out of the window.

Clinging onto Busta’s body he extended what vestigial windows remained on his tengu form and prayed to Melantir for the wind to catch them. His god must have answered, because he and Busta were carried safely to the waters below. A relative definition of safety, considering the lizardman was now bleeding out into the water and the tower of the Bondsmagi was notoriously and intentionally shark infested.

It was the homunculi crew that came to their rescue, driving the boat they picked up the adventurers and pulled Busta from the water for Ingrid to heal. As soon as Moxy had half-ways regained her breath, she ordered the homunculi to set sail, in order to put a lot of distance between the Tower of Bondsmagi and them.

Fortunately the homunculi had collected their gear, previously over-sized now regular sized, and brought it to the boat. Everyone felt a lot more comfortable with clothes on and, more importantly, weapons in hand. In addition Razza could finally stop radiating that subtle superiority about that fact that he needed only his hands to kill.

As they sailed out to open sea, Silthian took count of their loot. In addition to the cursed amulet, which Moxy promptly recovered, loose gold and the like they were amazed to find Sheraptus’ spell book. The mildly power lustful wizard she was, Silthian promptly began to absorb its contents the best she could, pausing only to identify a magical amulet and ring which Busta and Razza were arguing over. That ring in particular was an enchanted Ring of Regen, which Razza will not shut up about if you get him onto the topic.

When they had finally recovered the group came to the decision that the Tome of the Undergates needed to be destroyed, and quickly. However the Windy Peaks were still weeks by sail, they decided on a plan to make use of the book for once and thus turned around to dock at Dwarvheim.

They stopped to resupply before heading to the church, though primarily Silthian and Moxy wished to find an alchemist or apothecary to identify their mystery potion. Loathe as Silthian was to admit that it was beyond her talents. The herb woman they found kicked them out of her shop at the first sign of the potion. That should have been their first clue, but alas.
Unwilling to waste any more time asking around, the group convened at the Church of Melantir and met with their trusted compatriot Father Bumpo.

With the Tome they planned to form a dimensional portal to take them into the plane of Melantir herself, hoping for a boon to aid them or a celestial envoy to help protect the Tome on its journey to the Windy Peaks. Aware of the danger however, they requested a secure room, hidden deep within the church and barricaded while they kept the gate open.

The priest prepared a room especially for them, warding the room to prevent the event being scried or otherwise seen or sense by malevolent forces. The more able bodied Razza and Busta used cupboards and spare pews inside the room to barricade the door from the inside while the others opened the gate.

The dimensional gate proved quite easy to summon in fact, so much so they were a little wary about traveling through. It was decided that initially only Azavir would travel through the gate, connected with a safety line in case they opened the gate to the wrong plane. Assuming it was safe, the more diplomatically minded Ingrid and Moxy followed.

Considered this might well be the only time they would see their god’s plane in person, Azavir offered to let Razza come into the portal as well, though he technically wasn’t needed. However Razza, who had not been comfortable with opening a direct connection into Melantir’s heavenly plane, was convinced something would come for them and thus to guard it from this side. In his head he was prepared to close the gate in the worst case scenario, it’s not as if his friends would be trapped anywhere bad as he assured our spy. Though it seemed he knew no-one would agree with this method, and wisely kept quiet.

Azavir entered through the portal and found himself in a shimmering ocean, the sea literally flecked with gold. To his surprise he could breathe, and move easily through the water, it was even a pleasant temperature for him. Surfacing he found that the sea was filled with giant, ornate trading vessels.

Returning to the portal he gestured for the others to come in, together all three surfaced. The first thing they saw was one of the large and ornate trading vessels right above, the largest and most ornate of the fleet, which seemed to be getting more impressive by the second. Despite the fact that the vessels had been on the horizon when Azavir had dived down.

Taking the rope which dropped from the ship, the three climbed on board. They were greeted by an impressive crew composed of seemingly every species imaginable, as well as a shining woman whose airs seemed to command attention in the nicest way possible.
Believing the woman to be an angel of Melantir, Azavir bowed with all the respect he had and explained they were there to ask a boon of the goddess Melantir in their quest to destroy an artefact of terrible power.

The woman, who proved in this conversation to be quite the ditz understood, and at some point realising it was impolite to speak before introducing herself sighed dreamily and introduced herself as Melantir. Azavir managed to recover from his heart attack in time to fall to his knees, rather than outright faint and began heaping praise on the goddesses. She calmly, but firmly, asked him to stop that and the tiefling fell silent immediately.

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Adventure Log One
More Politics Should Be Solved With Dangerous Questing

In this world there are three great continents; Bregoria, Xi Xia and Vanirfjord. For most of history they all had very little contact with each other, in this way there are peaceful. How long can this last.
-
In the library of Heaven’s Reach, the infamous sorcerer Klaus found his studies interrupted by an old elf named Brooks, who came with a job offer. Assassinate this man. Klaus didn’t have to ask for a name, only a price.

At the Emperor’s Hand coffeehouse, which in another world could be described as a Parisian café, a spymaster Kalix is met by a familiar old elf with a familiar job. He stretches for time, pulling information where he can, but a rebellious spark has him accept the job.
Across the ocean, similar occurrences are happening.

The mismatched friends Aeryian and Reino arrive at a café for lunch, and find their food already ordered and paid for, along with an old elf. He has a job for them, rescuing a kidnap victim for a den of thieves. As she is Aeryian is more than willing to help without any need for money, the more experienced Reino offers to take her cut.

As a loyal servant of his king and kingdom, Orin is harnessing his griffon Zenith to prepare for their daily patrol. Only for an elf to appear, though the knight is annoyed he quickly accepts the news of a kidnap victim, Orin doesn’t even hear a price before he is gone.
-
In Xi Xia, Klaus has slipped through into the target’s house with invisibility magic. He spots the target’s brother being lead into a study by the butler, in actuality Kalix who had disguised his appearance to infiltrate, falling in step he prepares for the kill as the doors to the study are opened…

In Bregoria, Aeryian talks her way into the den with style leaving only a confused door-guard in her wake. In her shadow, Reino followed hiding himself with an invisibility spell.

They were a few steps from where the hostage was being held, when the doorguard was chopped in half splattering Aeryian’s dress with blood. In the front doorway, Orin stood with a gore soaked weapon having barged his way in- and nothing else (he totally grabbed his package for no reason).

The arrival of alarmed thieves forced the caster and warrior to work together, however Reino quickly struck from thin air encasing the enemies in blocks of ice. A few seconds later, a small half mad gnome appeared and firebombed the entrance, because. Together the four opened the door and saw…

Brooks flanked by the rest of the party.
-
It was revealed that they had been scouted by the Tenebris Consortium, a group in the Shadowfell who wished to see a swift resolution to the brewing war; by lasting peace, a decisive victory by one continent or whatever the party could think of. Driven by money and the fate of world balance (some focused more on money than others), and departed by longboat for Vanirfjord.

Unfortunately this voyage only proved how little those on the ship got along, and how much they differed on the war.

Klaus and Orin agreed only in how jingoistic they both were, for their respective continents.
Regicide wanted to war to not happen, but his loyalty lay primarily with his mercenary company.

Aeryian and Kalix agreed the war should be ended peacefully, however the god-child showed a naivety and arrogance towards the situation which annoyed her apparent ally.

Meanwhile Yilmae, Burnt Down A Town, and Reino, had yet to determine where they stood.

By the time they reached Vanirfjord, little had improved. Though their meeting with Bearfucker improved moods, they had little time to adjust before meeting with the three high chiefs.

Aeryian elected to speak for Bregoria, taking the name God Child as was the tradition of Vanirfjord. Kalix spoke for Xi Xia, assuming the name Blooddrinker, after all what’s one more name for the list.

The talks proved two things, the Tenebris Consortium were known and respected in Vanirfjord as a non-aggressor in the Shadowfell. While the group learned that if it wanted to discuss anything, they would have to prove themselves to the chiefs.

They learned that the Jotun to the north, have been a bit too quiet. To find out why, they would have to venture into the icy northern mountain range.

In was ten days journey through the mountain, led by Regicide who knew these lands intimately, when they found a man freezing to death in the snow. Aeryian stabilized him while the party attempted to work out who he was and why he was here.

They found out that he was an explorer who disappeared over thirty years ago, what was more grim was why he was there.

The King of the Jotuns, Laughi now possessed an Orb of Dragonkind with which he control white dragons. Deeper into the mountain range he was building an army of dragon riders.
The explorer urged them to flee, and inform the chiefs to prepare for war. As experienced adventurers they had no intention of doing this.

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Adventure Log Two
Regicide Recounts Tales of Dragon Slaying

Overheard at a tavern:

So, we are heading onward from meet Touched-The-Horizon – Da, THAT Touched-The-Horizon – he give us map and note, and say that Laufey the Jotun king rally the frost giants and march on Vanirfjord cities. That Laufey the Jotun king hold Orb of Dragonkind and control legions of whites. Of course, we are proceed to stop Jotun and save Vanirfjord, though is being hard to believe until we reach lake on map – flights of dragon with Jotun rider fly overhead while I make us look like snow drift. No, do not question how am making look like snow drift, is being thing I can doing. Anyway, we get to ice lake and are about to going round mammoth when avalanche of tooth and claw land from sky, killing it, and am start feeding. Is great white dragon, as long from tip to tail as five of tavern put together, and is between us and fairy forest- what do you mean, ‘how are knowing is fairy forest?’ is have notes which say ‘bring candy, keep eyes front, keep to path’, of course is fairy forest! Idiot.

Now, dragon is occupy, so we are try to go around it. But dragon is cunning – I am disguising as snow drift again, but clumsy foreigners’ feet is making noise, so to prevent noise-making, Godchild is loudly chanting spell to prevent noise. Da, was being confused at the time also. So after making a lot of noise, we are making no noise, and dragon is concluded there are spectators to meal. It ask us to come out, and I am have idea that one of our mages are summoning creature to explain noise. Devil-man summons wolverine and it is snapped up by dragon – but dragon is not buy this ruse, and it teleport away and make ice wall behind us. Devil-man is then making invisibility sphere, and I am moving snow drift away and making it look like foreign mage- no, look, you are going to have to accept that I am make snow drift look like mage. Here, I am make this table look like your wife, you see she very ugly, she-

a fight breaks out, but the offending heckler is forcibly removed from the tavern

So, dragon is not buying wolverine noise and has disappeared. We are… worried. White dragon is apex ambush predator, is concerning to be hunted by. However, I am learned this thing of dragon habitat that day – white dragon are liking their food frozen, and frozen ice lake is being excellent larder for purpose. It erupt from surface of lake and many foreigner and even me are falling in water as surface cracks. Luckily my tovarisch, Burnt-Down-a-Town, was casting anti-freeze spell beforehand, and we are being fine floating in dragon larder. What is not so fine was dragon snatching tovarisch and bear, King, in jaw, and returning to larder.

Now, comrades are not food. I am dives in, grab Burnt and King, and then am send through obscure ways to leetle ger-nome’s shadow- what do you mean, how am fits bear and two human in leetle ger-nome shadow? All is possible for Regicide! We am disappear from dragon larder and reappear on ice flow in tiny shadow, is fine. Dragon is not so happy, and am try to eat Blooddrinker. Leetle ger-nome am make lightning aura, and flies over to dragon, in what I later learn is intricate plan of explode. Blooddrinker escape, and fuming dragon am try to make meal anyway with breath of blizzard. Is only make bludgeon for Godchild, and she bring new iceberg out of water and then on to dragon head, stunning it long enough for sky-knight to dive bomb with lance.

I am fish bird out of larder and send shadow to weaken- da, I am having detachable murder shadow, he am try to kill me one time in shadowfell and I punch him until he obey me afterward. Is great, everyone should have murder shadow. He weaken dragon, and dragon prepare to push against ice wall to get away. He do so, flying into air, and mighty sky-knight challenge with griffon and charge with lance. At same time, Blooddrinker try to flank and get revenge for larder-storing. There is good reason dragon hide is prized for armour, however – is tough, and was resist both lance and Blooddrinker’s sword, Blooddrinker, sending it to bottom of larder. This was sufficient distraction for devil-man, however – devil-man was firing three great beam of fire directly into points weakened by lance and sword, removing half of dragon face and torch many scale.

I am mention Godchild tactic of casting loud spell to stop noise, before – this time, she try to firmly tell dragon to stop flying. Am not understanding Godchild. Was not working, nor is valid tactic against dragon. What, you want to know about other ger-nome also? He spend fight screaming at dragon. Is not very heroic, he is not important in story.

Now, I previously allude to leetle ger-nome plan of explode, but was perilous tactic. Leetle ger-nome start to glow with crackling energy, but as mentioned dragon have other plan and head to opposite end of battlefield. My tovarisch is wily combatant and mighty druid, however – she control wind, send leetle ger-nome hurtling at dragon from ice wall. Now, leetle ger-nome only two feet tall – but she have heart and courage of mighty warrior, and brain of deranged psychopath. She fly right at dragon head, and EXPLODE VIOLENTLY IN FACE. Dragon is reeling, but is survive – until leetle ger-nome pull out bombs, and explode dragon head into giblets.

Was good eat for many day, and is end of story.

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Adventure Log Three
Exert from Burnt down a town's travel journey

Day 7
…After throwing the exploding gnome at the dragon to finish it off. Our party collected some honeycomb from the surrounding forest outskirts (the heartless gnome proved surprisingly adept at the task).

We made our way through the forest and encounter some simple traps that looked like they were set for giants. The Bardic one sent himself fly while, messing around with some of the traps. It felt good to be surrounded trees again.

Encountered an Ice giant reading in the forest, sent the rogue to talk while we all hid. They appeared to talk for hours before the heartless gnome stepped out and we all joined the giant around his campfire. Seemed peaceful enough, shared food and told us he was the retired king of the Ice giants, Laufey the VII. Apparently his Daughter (strangely is also called Laufey) now rules the ice giants.

We were joined but a mute half-elf girl, she doesn’t seem to have a name, were calling her Voiceless, she seems cool. While the others drank with the ice giant, Voiceless talk me up a mountain and showed me an entire village encased in ice. She seemed very sad about the people in the ice (I didnt comment on the impressiveness of the magic, or on the town building so close to the forest).

Day 8

We began our journey across the tundra with Voiceless. It’s difficult protecting so many people from the cold, hunting for food and trying to head in the right direction.

Day 9

Regi tried to lead us in the right direction today, but I dont think it was much of an improvement. Still adjusting to the environment, the lack of trees is disturbing. The Gnomes are having difficulty with the deep snow, we tried a few different solutions for them to keep up. They should learn to Woodland Stride.

Day 11

Food is getting low. King thinks we should eat the mean gnome. The exploding one and I clubed a pod of seals for food, they were delicious, King seemed satisfied for now.

Day 13

Storm coming in from the North, dont know if magic can protect all of us. We Built an Igloo for shelter. I think Ive got the spells for this environment down, dont want to stay out here too long though.

Day 15

Storm passed and we set out again. Decided to go under the mountain rather then over it. Found a Cave full of mushroom and Myceloids (Amazing the nature can even thrive out here). They took us to their king, we traded our remaining mead for passage through they’re home. The smaller gnome showed them how to brew there own alcohol, they gave her a mushroom to look after, enough food for all of us (King doesnt like it but its better then him eating anyone) and a Mushroom hat (very cool).
The smaller mushrooms showed us the way through the cave. Got our first look at the mountain with the orb, its enormous! No Idea how were going to get it….

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Adventure Log Four
Excerpt from Gazes-Into-the-Abyss' Log Chronicling his First Visit to Vanirfjord

Today the carefully laid plans to obtain the Orb of Dragonkind came to a pleasing fruition, with only minor setbacks. Surreptitious investigation on my part having revealed that to invisibly sneak past the deceptively bumbling oafs guarding the only known entrance would prove problematic, Regicide cunningly bade his shadow to explore the structure and provide information regarding its layout. Analysing the crude map it was able to produce, the syndicate agreed to allow myself and Reino to teleport ourselves through the door as it was opened to permit exit, thereby alerting none to our presence. Reino, being the degenerate he has proven himself to be, insisted on being responsible for “the ladies”.

Naturally, this was accomplished with great efficiency. Making our way towards the large open space – where we assumed the source of the faint frivolity that could be detected was sourced – the objective was soon reached, with only a brief pause as Regicide insisted on inspecting the “Many Sharp Things” (as any child could have guessed, the room filled with crude, oversized tools of aggression proved ultimately useless to beings such as myself and my companions).

Veiled by Reino’s rather useful sphere of concealment, we stole into what was revealed to be a dining hall, in which a dark, powerful ritual was taking place. A large being in an armoured suit of frost appeared to be leading the disgusting, manic actions of the ice giants; it would seem that this being was Coldheart, a Major General and very powerful unseelie. Next to him was Laufey, holding a staff containing the object of our quest, the Orb of Dragonkind.

Acting quickly and without warning, Regicide slunk into her shadow and struck his hand against Laufey’s backside, agitating her in such a way as to cause her to turn and strike out against Coldheart in woefully misguided retribution. While she was thusly distracted, Aeryian reached out and called the staff to her hand, and with great ease became the new bearer of the orb.
While it is unfortunate that the misguided girl was the one to gain this power, at the very least it is not the worst result to what could have occurred. With time she may be brought to see the crimes of her country, and if not is too naive and simple to think to ever use the Orb for her own designs. I shall have to watch Reino carefully to ensure he does not set such unfavourable actions in her mind.
She claimed that when she first grasped the Staff, a vision appeared to her displaying “The Crone” Athropos with every Orb of Dragonkind save the one in Aeryian’s possession.
It would seem the unseelie dein to meddle in the Material Plane’s Affairs; I must be sure to watch for signs of their intentions.

Escaping with relative ease via the same method we entered by, we soon found ourselves back at the mouth of the cave in which we previously encountered the Mycenae, from which we witnessed the impressive tantrum Coldheart appeared to be throwing, taking down large ice dragons with ease.

Travelling back the way we came, it was revealed that the path we had previously took had been caved in, the Mycenae nowhere to be found. After moving a short distance down the only passage left open, a clanking, elaborate golem appeared before us. Introducing itself as Unit 66, it identified myself as it’s target and invited me to follow. Given the atypical vision I experienced only a few nights ago, I agreed to allow it to accompany me to its master.

In a great underground chamber I met with Gemheart, and my destiny was revealed before me; it had been foretold by these constructs’ creator that a gnome unburdened by the trappings of a soul would one day appear, and that gnome would be the true leader of the thousand-score golems secreted below Vanirfjord. My manifest fate has given me a path, and I will gladly walk it for the greater good.

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Adventure Log Five

The day started with an odd dream.

Well for me it did, anyway.

The kind of dream that doesn’t leave any images to remember, only strange, whispered words and the feeling like something is a little off.

It was now morning, and most of the large robotic creatures had been sent off on the orders of the dark gnome, who had also now disappeared, and things were feeling a little weird.

Well for me they were, anyway.

The commotion of last night had died down outside of the cave system where we slept, and all was still. However, the scene there was unforgettable; everything in sight had been frozen solid; these huge, fearsome creatures of legend; Ice giants and dragons reduced to the same fate as the lowliest of slaves and the slowest of the Aurochs.

Though still looming, and unforgiving in appearance, the seemingly impenetrable fortress of the previous day was now lifeless and already felt forgotten.

The King-killing Human smashes through the thick layer of ice now covering the front entrance to the mountain and we enter to find the halls left desolate and uninviting. I’m not sure if it’s just me but everything seems to get colder, an unnerving chill sets into my bones as we pass the various rooms that branch off from the main corridor. Clearly, in his rampage, the Winter Fae sealed the entrances of each of these rooms.

The blurred figures of ice giants can be seen through the thick, frosted sheaths of ice. Red and pink smears stain the other side of the wall, their huge hands pressed up against the ice, disfigured from trying to claw their way out as the oxygen was slowly used up.

We reach the end of the hall and my thoughts are interrupted by the King-killing Human, he insists on breaking into the armoury. Once inside we find no magical items and surely nothing big enough for me to lift, let alone wield in battle. It hardly matters though, as my real interest lies in what the King-killing Human’s shadow-creature called the “room of bubbly liquids,” up ahead of us; oh yes. Despite being barely used, with everything inside covered in a thin layer of dust, I manage to recover several huge bottles containing potions of fly, invisibility, cure light wounds, and cure moderate wounds. I store these in my handy haversack and return to my large, lumbering companions in what I can only assume was the ice giants’ dining hall, though their questionable activities of the previous night may suggest otherwise.

We decide to explore upstairs; Aeryian, the elf lady (still holding the Dragon Orb) uses dispel magic on the glowing, crystalline spell formation blocking our ascension and we climb the staircase to the upper floor. We reach the landing to find two doors, each with a strong aura of magic, though the one on the left much more so than the other. We enter this door to find an almost-empty room with a large pentagonal shape carved into the floor, eight diamonds studding the walls and a podium with a huge book placed on top.

Naturally, we set about collecting the diamonds and the lady elf retrieves the book which shrinks once it is in her hands. With not much else to discover in this strange room we head across the hall and through the other door to find the sleeping quarters of the giant queen, Laufey. With little interest in what treasures may be hidden here, I wait as the others loot the room. The King-killing Human and the Birdman find magical jewellery of some description, and with all rooms of interest now explored, we return to the exterior of the mountain.

Outside in the snow our curiosity over what remains in the dragons’ entrance has us flying almost a mile up to peer through the ice wall also blocking off this area. Using fire elemental aura, I melt the ice away to reveal the place where nought but dragons would have visited before today, and inside, the limp bodies of young dragons are strewn throughout. The scene is heart-breaking, however we do find, under layers of dragons flesh, an egg of brilliant white, covered in a thin rime of ice. Everyone seems to agree that we should keep the egg, which is placed in my haversack for safe-keeping, though the Birdman seems to have something else planned for it. What, I couldn’t know but I will be sure to find out. Now finally, we leave this mountain for good, and perhaps as the last adventurers to enter this icy tomb for years to come.

We head back over to the cave system, all entering save for the elf lady who waits for something outside.

As she stands there, gazing up into the sky, I notice several things changing around us. Firstly, the wind starts to move and further chills the already cold air outside of the cave, and as it does the Girl with No Voice starts to cower into the walls of the cave, crying and shaking violently. I watch from the entrance of the cave system as the massive bear-creature and the Burning Girl move to comfort her and suddenly I feel overwhelmed with panic myself though I’m not sure why.

My mushroom hat starts to shake on my head, tiny little spores and droplets of water falling down in front of my face. I’m not sure why this is happening but I take it off my head and hold it gently in my arms; my head is spinning a little bit and for some reason I’m taken back to my strange dream of this morning.

The wind settles but the chill in the air grows ever colder, and in the sky appears a great dragon; absolutely freaking huge in comparison to the others, with one great horn protruding from its head and the scars of thousands of years’ worth of battles marking every inch of its scaly, white body.

It settles on the ground mere metres away from Aeryian, whose stature remains strong and unmoved.

The two study each other briefly; the demi-god and the ancient dragon.

“You must be very bold, winter fay, or very, very stupid to stand before me with my father’s soul on a stick” it says, in a low drawl.

Shivers.

Seriously.

This guy.

With that icy stare I’m half surprised our elf doesn’t freeze over where she is standing.

“We have retrieved the orb to return to you as a gesture of good faith,” Aeryian replies confidently, though the ancient dragon seems less than impressed.

See now, I can speak Draconic, but hardly as fluently as the two creatures standing out in the snow. The conversation is fast but I pick up the gist of what is going on. After several minutes of what we might call bargaining – if the playing field was level – an agreement, or sorts, is struck. Aeryian agrees to give the dragon with a vial of her blood, and in exchange he will destroy the Dragon Orb.

This seems like a plan that definitely won’t come back to bite us in the butt.

No siree. Not us.

With that, the exchanges are made and the great dragon leaves after making one final promise, “You will never see me again.”

The air settles and the world feels still; for once, my companions are silent, though we know there is nothing left for us here. I place my mushroom hat back on my head where it starts happily eating the dirt from my hair, and everything feels a little better for a moment.

The Girl with No Voice brushes herself off, still shaken but clearly consoled by the great, lumbering bear, and we make our way into the caves – following a perfectly straight tunnel lined by blue lights until we reach the edge of the mountain range.

**

The next several days are comparatively uneventful. We travel by day, moving fairly silently; in our own ways and mostly in our own thoughts. The King-killing Human rides ahead of the rest of us on his shadow-horse, the Cavalier Human flies overhead on his Griffin, and the Dark Tiefling has been invisible for days but nobody mentions it.

Each night we take turns making fire, and eat Auroch while telling stories of adventures passed, including the one we are just now returning from. Laughter erupts as different members of the party recount their versions of the night, particularly the part of the story which has come to be known as the “grab-ass Tomfoolery”. The King-killing Human also particularly likes to retell the story of his name-sake, often trying to coax the Burning Girl to do the same. I’ve noticed, though, she goes very quiet around this time, and steals glances at the Girl with No Voice whenever he starts on the subject.

The robot 66 isn’t asked any questions and so sits quietly.

The frivolities die down as our aching bodies grow tired and we retire into various sleeping positions around the dying fire. The King-killing Human and the Cavalier stay up later than the rest of us sharing old battle stories, but they too eventually rest.

Each morning I wake up earliest; I sit up in my bedroll and contemplate my strange dreams. Regardless of my awareness of these dreams, no images remain once I am awake but the whispered words have become more clear, “Mama,” spoken softly, and over and over again, every morning.

I look around at my sleeping companions with a furrowed brow, something niggles at the back of my mind, like there’s something I should be picking up on but I just can’t think of it off the top of my head.

The sleepy travellers wake up, we pack up the campsite and continue on our journey back towards Skul Blaka.

**

On the final morning of our trek I wake up early yet again, by now I am convinced that my recurring dream is not a dream at all. Is it some kind of vision? Some creature calling me from some distance? By why “Mama”? I couldn’t be something’s mother.

Could I?

No.

That’s ridiculous.

Is it?

What if something just thinks I’m its mother?

Why would something think that?

Okay, what do mothers do?

They… study… alchemy… a lot.

No, they… nurture?

That’s a thing right?

They’re like… around. In the vicinity.

…and they feed them?

…and

…and

My thoughts are interrupted by my mushroom hat wriggling on my head.

Oh.

I pluck the mushroom from my head and hold it out in front of me, it squirms slightly, its tiny suckers happily grabbing at the air.

Well, that’s weird.

I return it to its place on my head and sit waiting for the other to rise, suddenly feeling like something makes a little more sense.

**

After a long day of walking we finally reach the small Vanifjordian village at dusk; the dark shadows already cast by the setting sun obstruct our view of the scene we are entering until just as we reach the entrance. Something pulls hard around my chest as it becomes apparent that the objects piled in neat stacks throughout the town square are in fact the villagers. I glance over to my companions, each one with horror on their faces, and I hear a grumble from someone remarking about the stab wounds and the shadowfell.

A shrill noise disturbs the shocked silence; manic laughter rings out in stark contrast to the scene. An elf with long black hair stands up ahead, silhouetted between two buildings. We approach him, his cackle seeming to echo around us.

“Did you do this?” asks the King-killer.

“I did not,” the crazed elf replied, giggling between each word.

I find myself too distracted by the surroundings to listen too much of the banter between the two, but my attention is quickly regained as the King-killer lunges forward to attack the cackling elf.

The elf steps back into a wisp of darkness, followed by the King-killer, both disappearing from sight.

Caught up in the excitement, the rest of us failed to notice the figures in the area around us until we were encircled by them. Some of the bloodied, cold corpses of the townspeople had reanimated and were now watching us with their lifeless, dead eyes. The Birdman yells to us that maybe it is a bad idea to fight them, but what other choice do we have? Without looking down, my fingers quickly find and assemble the required items for a bomb, holding a vial of liquid catalyst at the ready.

The Birdman clearly realises that the rest of us are preparing to start this fight regardless of any warnings, as he soon swings his massive sword into the air and strikes the first blow to one of the zombified villagers. Impressively, the Bear actually attacks one of the figures and eats it whole.

Remind me to stay away from that thing when it’s angry.

I take out two of them with two bombs. No sweat.

Aeryian is approached by the last zombie standing but the Birdman strikes one final blow and all is silent again. At some point during the fight the King-killing Human must have reappeared on a nearby rooftop, because that’s where he is.

The robot 66 informs us that the Chiefs of the village are approaching.

The King-killer looks out from his rooftop perch and calls down to us, the Chiefs are indeed approaching, and they are not alone.

The crazed, dark-haired elf is accompanying the party, cackling to himself as simultaneously, it would seem, we realise what it looks like we have done here.

Among the reanimated corpses was the daughter of Whale Rider, the main chief of the village, and from where he was standing it looked as though we had slaughtered the whole town; including his family.

I shrink to the corner of the group, easily hidden among all of these oafs. A trial was to be held to make a claim for our innocence; the Birdman cast a truth circle over the proceedings and the King-killer tried to explain the events as they transpired. Following this, the dark-haired elf, now known as River, simply sought to cast doubt on the integrity of the truth circle, and so on the integrity of the whole trial. Our story did sound pretty nonsensical, and none other could perform this spell.

We were found to be guilty by this thrown-together tribunal of Chiefs and banished from Vanifjord forever.

King-killer pleaded with his old Chief, as this had been his home for his whole life, and… did the Chief not see? He had been standing on the roof for the whole battle, there was no blood on his hands here.

Whale Rider gave the King-killer a choice; stay in Vanifjord alone and give up on his quest, or leave forever.

To this, King-killer responds, glaring at River though his words are directed at the Chief, “Tell me Whale Rider, is your ass sore from having River’s arm so far up it he can work your mouth like a puppet?” With that, he turns towards the entrance of the city, clearly livid with rage, so much so I think he’s started frothing at the mouth.

We follow him, manoeuvring through the limp bodies strewn over the path. The King-killer continues clenching his fists, swearing generally, and swearing his vengeance on River far into the night, even into his sleep; while the Burning Girl, also from the small village, remains quiet and withdrawn to her thoughts.

After a long day we finally rest.

I get comfortable inside my bedroll and fall asleep with a mushroom happily eating the dirt from my hair, and I know there are bigger things to come, but I think we could actually be okay.

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