Once Upon A God

the castle crag...

The thief is an impetuous soul, though for the most part he seems to know his business. They have found the ruins of the castle or at least what is in the process of being rebuilt.

Constructs are used for guards and labor, makes sense and rather efficient though they fell with little effort. The hellhounds at the gate are of little use once silence and easily fell.. it’s almost as if the inhabitable wanted guests. Though I think it is more that complacency has resulted in a lax security.

Finding one of the kitchens we have resupplied and I am more than happy to give the wasting for any of the locals who wish to eat their dinners.

Then it all went down hill. The thief who until this point has done his job as you would expect, assuming we understand his trades hand signals flung open the door to another series of large hounds who immediately howl the alarm before they could be silenced. Fool. I will make sure he pays penance.

The fight was short but far too loud, the neighboring room, a living space, recently vacated only supports my assumption that the locals know we are here and are preparing. Then to top it all off the carelessness continues and the thief manages to poison himself. Through Azul’s blessings he is brought back slowly and I insist that he pay homage to the mercy of Azul. A minor offering but one more of intent than actual value. Azul knows my worth.

From here we collect ourselfs and prepare for what comes now that we have lost our advantage.

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let them be slaves

We recover the cloak and staff also receiving the gift of Selune. She left us with a message that the people could be convinced to throw off their bondage of the Zentirum.

I do know of the rebuilding of the castle she spoke of and so we continued that path and resupplied at Shadowdale. Truly the people of these lands are curious… curious to me in that they have no individual will, collectively the people dislike their overloads, they hate them, but they are completely unwilling to do anything about it that puts the individual families at risk.

In the wastes we would think nothing of sacrificing a member of a family or even the first born children if it were to save the village as a whole. We would do it gladly and celebrate their death.

… but these people cry and cower in their pathetic state. They would rather suffer than take any action that might harm a few of their infants. Fitting that their climate is filled with wet and muck, it is the perfect representation of their lives. I would hold contempt for them all if felt that they even mattered.

They will not take up for themselves and it is not for me to do it on their behalf, to do so would only reinforce their lack of resolve. The Zentirum have rightfully enslaved these people, thus the people are theirs to rule.

I will work with the others to hunt down this sliver of Bahl and we can be on our way. I will do nothing to save anyone who is not willing to act for themself.

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Of Trees and bones.

The exodus from the town was less subtle than I would have liked. Occupational hazards of traveling with a bard I suppose.

We did find the mound, the one of great betrayal. It was not unguarded however and to be honest I was taken aback as we were attacked by a large tree. It would turn out that the illusion used by the undead dragon was effective.

Fortunately it fell, unfortunately we have taken on a new companion. Hafling and a thief, and though I know that their skills are useful I find them disdainful… their very nature is undignified. They lie, and skitter about, then the final straw was the insult to Azul when I offered his blessing of drink. The vile rat spat out the water. He deserved to suffer a fitting punishment, he would not drink so I gave him the gift of thirst.

We eventual entered the crypt below, there was the sarcophagus of the blessed. Their sleep should not be disturbed but above was a magical devourer waiting to feed. I admit I know little of these creatures.. only a vague comment that they are suitable to elemental damage. However not direct magical attack. In time I found that a summoned ice axe will harm it, but it is destroyed directly after… this will be a delicate fight.

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Town and new... friends?

Shadowdale is not unlike any heavily populated area, criminals, poor, the weak, and all the others who put themselves above it.

We have resupplied, sold goods, purchased others, I will remember that there is a particular blacksmith that I will continue my business with in the future. More interesting were the ruins of the tower where we received the guidance of a spectral being. Be it deity or simply a remnant shade the information was of a place outside of town known for betrayal from the past, for lack of other guidance we will investigate.

Ego has always been a fascinating weakness of humans. None so much so as in the profession of bards, I have to admit that many of the histories and documents I treasure are work of those who follow that path… but must they always inject their personal twists and vice into the histories they preserve? It would seem that we have attracted a follower of this ilk, one determined to be the historian and personal biographer of the great Nino. The child is in for a rude awakening.. much as I was to believe the rumors following the innocent little gnome.

This will be a tale I will enjoy reading.

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trouble on the road

We head north to Shadowdale, I must admit I do appreciate the druids foresight in granting the snowshoes.. I guess this is what it is like for fist time travelers in the wastes, and it only reenforces my belief that they should avoid it. Combination of the wet and the cold is near unbearable… I confess it puts me in a foul mood.

My companions are fascinating, they seem to feel the need to inject themselves into every affair we encounter. Some tout it is for sport, others use the veil of protecting ourselfs in the future, or simply to feed their pet but I suspect it is more out of a feeling of right or wrong, yet none of them know the laws here and this is simply not our fight.

I have gotten ahead of myself, we encountered a small town by the riverside that was attacked by what appears to be two mercenary groups. I tried to mediate the situation with guile and intimidation but the dwarf… well, Dwarfs are not exactly known for tact or subtleties. The raiders fell and we revived the dying, homage was paid by sacrifice of a sheep.

We learned a bit about the wars, the raiding groups, and that someone named Ezelar Falconhand is being sought by the raiders.. I do know of a Florian Falconhand.. perhaps a relation. We are resting the night, the town will use the armor of the raiders to disguise as a town under martial law and we will be on our way.

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Snow?

We head north, as that is the pull that we feel but as of yet we do not know the target. We have taken a moment to rest in a town, I forget the name but it is a standard human town filled with thieves and Red wizards who apparently feel that they command all magic.

I have searched the libraries and listened to the chatter. It would appear that the only news of interest is the city of MythDranor. Not an unknown city as it is one of legend, the truth of it remains to be seen. The armies of the Zentirum are conducting a seige.

I must admit that at first I did not care for the news, let these people quibble over frozen lands. However, from my research and divination is guiding us directly to this location. The next threat of Bahl is there.

We have the use of a local mage, his magic is quite capable of taking us north. We arrived in a thick wood, the ground saturated, intense cold, and white filth covering the grounds, pristine white turning a moldy brown with each step. It is repulsive! The cold is absurd! Even with my natural heat it cannot remove the chill completely. What is this incessant frost falling from the sky as if a horde of white dragons will not stop their onslaught.

I have my shelter, I have removed the moisture from the immediate area so perhaps it will staff off any decay around me. Surely this is not a northern land and we have actually hunted this being into one of the circles of the abyss.

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On the road

I will have to beg forgiveness from my elders, they wished for a full report of the cold lands and the hunting down the threat. I have not been as diligent as I need to be, unlike me… my only thought is the distraction from the cold.

The Giant Yaga-Shura has been killed, the knife ended his protections and the fight was brutal. many people fell in the siege. However my hopes for a quick victory and the return home was ended. It would appear that the threat to my wastelands is not in this single felled creature. The giant was but one of many that holds a part of a greater threat, it would appear that Bahl has segmented his soul across the land, his prodigy are coming together to somehow bring about his rebirth and I fear that this is the threat.

It would seem there is a greater problem, my recent headaches are not mine alone. Others in the group have them as well and it would appear that they are almost a beacon to find others. I may well be a fragment of Bahl. There is hope, it turns out that not all of the fragments are corrupt, as unstable as many is this party is, they are not corrupt. Perhaps some feelings of evil from some, but not corrupt. With some luck the fragments is nothing more than a tool.

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The knife
knife

In the traveling back my focus is on the heart, it burns without heat, heals instantly, can not be dried, or squelched. I know of no story of such an item nor any legend of how to destroy it.

After much research i was able to determine that it is covered in layers of protections, far beyond my ability to break through. A non magic field would perhaps work but beholders are far to erratic to be considered as a viable solution.

In further study in the city of Durask, I found a reference to a Dagger of Undoing, anti magic blade with a single use to break all enchantments. It is legend that there is one in the Shar once owned by a plainsman chief named Golmaru. Our plainsman does not know of it but admits that there are often tribal wars that could have forced the change of hands.

We traveled far with the assistance of the Driud to speak the the Shar elders only to find out that the dagger was taken 2 centuries before in the plains wars and was won by the family of the lord of Durask, a lord Regional… his descendant Amiel now sits as the reigning lord. A hard traveling brought us back and after some difficulty with the lords lackey we were introduced to a Cleric of Tyr. find gentleman of law, though not appreciated by our companion. Not a surprise, apparently there is a long staining feud. It does not matter as long as it does not stand in the way of our success.

The lord is a pompous fool, not unlike most leaders in the soft lush lands. They have not been tested and so they do not understand what is important.. like children left to their own devises they will tear themselves apart. He has a dagger, it appears to be genuine, and now the rub. This is an anti magic dagger, which would not radiate magic, which can only be used once. If we use it now and it works, the Yaga-sura will know of his mortality and act to protect himself. However, if we use it at the moment he feels he is safe and the dagger is spent…. we are in for a difficult day.

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House guests
guest

After some time through the deep woods, guided by our plainsman, we found a great clearing with a home in the center. Clearly the residence of the power in this place. Several of the party seems unclear how to proceed, as if they were planing a raid on this woman’s home. It is astounding how self oriented they are, as if their life were the only one of importance.

A circle of protection prevented the advance of the plainsman and the gnome, inflicting them with some sort of natures curse, I warned them to be cautious of the barrier but they did not take heed. I cannot pity their lack of foresight.

The home is extravagant, particularly for the limited residence, subtly we were invited in and more or less guided to a waiting room before meeting our host. A lovely woman with obvious skill in magic, far older than she appears and it would seem has reached that point in extended life that she has taken to the joy of deals and favor for favor.

Alise, she asks to be called, I will update the libraries when I return to the conclave. She admits that the Giants heart is here, that his deal is complete. After a bit and some thought I offered some black sand as payment for the Giants heart. She was quite interested as it as a commodity, something I can simply conjure is, as far as I am concerned, an exceptional payment for the burning heart. The trade was made.

Now… we have the heart… but what to do with it…

The plainsmen suffers with thirst after only a few hours of exposure. Truly astounding how weak the people of the lush lands are. I suggested that if it is water he requires, that he should pray for it. I assume if his gods are of any worth they will supply him… they do not… but he did try. For that I made a silent request from the Druid to bring some rain, he seemed perfectly happy to comply.

But.. what to do with the heart…

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Hunting
The witch

We are on the hunt, I remember a book that spoke of a Fire Giant who gave his heart to a witch of the Thornwood. this gift was said to give him unending life. It would appear that this story was not just a tale. We have hunted down the Thornwood and with the assistance of a local mage we were able to teleport to the woods edge.

I gave sacrifice, the party was surprisingly accepting of the ritual, likely they were too dull to comprehend or to unfinished with their drink to understand.

At the wood we found that there were no living creatures, also the wood itself seems to feed off of magical energy. Interesting to find out how fickle the druid and the drunkard are, so protective of their precious forest until they discovered that the source of the wood could be something other than natural growth. Obviously they have no sense of dedication to the efemoral nature of their land.

The gnome attempted a test of burning down the wood from non-magical means.. it appears to work. The fool of a druid called the rains for no reason other than to put out a fire. Such a fool! So little respect for the rains!! He will learn the importance of the blessings of the rains.

The woods themselves are empty, strange even for the sands… we found out why, it would appear that this place is a haven for the aberrations, Beholders roam free.

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