The Lance of Marduk
A Tiefling's Story
Journal Entry One
I found this journal along the road in the city; I think it may have fallen from a caravan, or possibly an Alchemist’s wagon. Either way I had noticed that my comrades each had their own, and I thought it would be good to keep my own. We entered Fallcrest at some point in the day; I wasn’t paying much attention to time or the details of our journey before I found the book. I remember that Phalanx (a big old son of a bitch, but he’s a softy) had rented out a room in the Nentir Inn, I wished I had my own room; my friends… well, they smell. Well I smell, but I can stand my smell, the damn Halfling smells of dwarf for heaven’s sake!
I guess I should elaborate on my companions for a moment. There is of course Phalanx; he’s frightfully tall, has a good half a foot on me and twice the height of our petite friend. He’s not human, granted none of us are, he’s a Dragonborn, from… damn, I can’t for the life of me remember where he is from. I remember getting drunk one night and in the morning there was a Paladin tailing me and the Halfling, I do enjoy his company though, he’s the first person since Lilin that has had a lick of sense about him (and he scares the lesser robbers away). Then there is our short companion, he never told me or Phalanx his name, and I don’t rightly know why we began traveling together. Why do I travel with people I meet while drunk, damn, Lilin told me it was going to bite me in the ass one day, and I hope she was being figurative.
I think we won’t stay in Fallcrest long, the hobbit says he needs to get to the next town… Winterhaven? I’m not sure, all these towns feel the same to me and I’ve never got use to them. I’ve been away from home for six years and still haven’t adapted to being on my own. Well I’ll have to get used to it, not like I can go home, it’s gone now. Phalanx decided to search Fallcrest for work, leaving the midget and I in Nentir’s Tavern. This may not have been his best plan.
Journal Entry Two
Well I wasn’t wrong about that now was I, After I pocketed the book I spent the evening drinking, five Dwarven Ales and two Flagons of who knows what, it didn’t take long before I regressed into my muttering states which appear after five drinks. I had lost sight of my short companion awhile back and now I was becoming steadily less conscious. Just to keep myself moving I began to stack the empty glasses, Flagon’s first then the Ales, I got to the third Ale before I began to overstretch my reach, tottering on an old wooden chair it didn’t take long before I collapsed onto the Tavern floor, glass bottles rolling every which way they pleased. I heard heavy footsteps approach me before I was lofted into the air by an immense figure, even in a haze I knew it was Phalanx, I could smell him. As he threw me over his shoulder and began to head to the stairs I could see a faint glimpse of the little one, he looked drunk, but something was off about him and his new companions, a set of Dwarves clad in thick armor.
Phalanx threw me onto my bed, an old moth infested thing, but it could have been worse, it didn’t have those nasty bed-bugs. Phalanx sat at the other side of the room, I can’t remember if I had said anything to him, but I was glad he was there. He watched out for me, he cared, that reminded me of Lilin… I miss her…
After a short time I heard the Halfling enter the room, I couldn’t make out what he had with him, but he was messing around with a new set of something which he look particularly fond of. I had blurted out “The Mouse has the Cheese”, not realizing at the time that they were Dwarven Daggers, the crafty devil. Not long after that was when it seemed all hell was going to break loose, and Asmodeus himself had decided to claim Fallcrest as his own personal bitch. Phalanx and the Halfling were gazing out the window, fire illuminating their faces, I wanted to get up to check it out, but all I managed was to roll onto the floor with a loud “Thump”. Phalanx turned and placed me back onto the bed, as I felt a gust of air rush past, the Halfling was gone. Phalanx soon followed behind him, at a noticeably slower pace though.
My mind drifted off to sleep. I began to mix the current happenings with the events which had unfolded what seemed like so long ago. I felt I was back at home on that fateful day. My Grandfather, a wise-man named Mastema Ben-Abba, was considered by many to be a heretic, hated by the forces of Darkness and Chaos for his active role in their defeat, by the forces of light and “good” for his active outspoken hatred of the Gods (who he knew in his heart were not as upstanding as they claimed to be), and by other Tieflings for his words against their violent ways and horrid beginnings at the will of the Greatest of Devils. He was not a well like man, which is why he had lived alone in a house upon a great hill out in far desert lands. Though he wasn’t truly alone, he had his three sons with him, who he raised to be great scholars and warriors, but terrible diplomats. They were my uncles Peor (he married a Tiefling named Dinah), and Mocoton (who married a human woman named Naamah), and my father Reuel (who married Dinah’s sister Laylah). Each of them had many children, except Reuel, who was content with just one. Grandfather had told my cousins and I of great faraway lands and the legends of their faiths. He also taught us his deemed Heretical ideas. Our father’s and their eldest sons and daughters would each seek different ways of applying Grandfather’s philosophies. Peor sought to destroy the connections between the realms using arcane magics, forever separating the realms of the Gods, Devils, and Angels, from our own freeing us from their whims. Mocoton was more direct, he wished to cut off the god’s power, by striking down their worshippers, for this Mastema disowned him, he hated Gods, but he hated murderers more. Reuel had a different approach, who sought Alchemical ways to drain Gods of their power rendering them mortal, like many had once been. Not all of the family had joined our fathers in their quests. The two eldest daughters of Peor: Ariel and Erem, took a different path, and became natural philosophers like their grandfather, though they could care less about Gods and zealots, they moved to the city of Zarathustra to learn all they can about the natural world, its history and processes. I always respected their decision to leave, though Mocoton did not. Of all my cousins, the one who I set before all others was Lilin. Lilin, a daughter of Peor, was older by four years and had been my constant companion through schooling. She always had a different outlook than our fathers. She believed that mortals were foolish for challenging monsters of far greater stature, she instead felt in order to rid our world of these egomaniacal ethereal psychotics you must take on an immortal with and immortal, knowing that Gods have killed Gods, but angels and devils had as well, it was Asmodeus who killed ‘he who was’ before his fall from grace. Wishing to know their power, six years ago when I was just seventeen, Lilin left to learn all she could about the ways of Angels. I haven’t seen her since, but I have heard from Ariel and Erem that she is fine, she is apparently living near Zarathustra, that’s where I’m trying to go, if I can ever find it. She left just in time, for two months later a massive army made it to our door. Burning atop a pyre was Mocoton, who had led his forces against the Dragonborn in a foolish raid. The Zealots began to launch an attack upon our home, slaughtering all they could get their hand on, they cheered as their blades pierced the flesh of my family, they treated my family as they were less than people and they slaughtered them as they had done many dark cults. They called out Bahamut’s name, as they lit fire to Mastema’s works and home. I hid in any little cranny I could fit, finally hid in the old well out back. Unable to help my family as the reptiles lined them up and beheaded them all, even Naamah. Mastema was the last to go. After they destroyed every trace of our home, I crawled from the well and beheld the destruction in the wake of the zealots. It was gone, all gone, they were dead, all dead, even the little ones. I began to cry…
It ended as a great roar brought me back to the waking world and my door crashed open. A large dwarf (kind of an oxymoron, but you get the idea) stood in the door frame. He asked if I had seen, as he put it, “A god-damned filthy fucking Halfling!” I told him, “No dear Owl-Bear I haven’t seen your hammock”. He left after that, kind of in an irate mood, what midget got your blade? I got up from the bed at this point, stumbling slightly before regaining my footing. I began to run. I ran until I made my way to the House of the Sun, a grand Cathedral to a more or less useless deity. Stumbling through the now destroyed doorway I regained my footing. Staring up there was a sight to behold. Phalanx stood next to a partially melted statue of the useless god Pelor, a Half-elf Cleric stood between Phalanx and myself, she look kind of perturbed. I think she tried to steady me but I was too focused on the scene. A fat, Lard-like human wizard stood slack jawed and firing a bolt of flame at the statue, he looked tired and… well… on a metric shit ton of drugs. My eyes spied the Halfling lying on the floor near the wizard, not moving. Much of the Cathedral was in ruins. A priest followed by two city guards came and apprehended the wizard and the Halfling.
As the situation began to calm down I could see the guards chaining up the wizard, the Cleric speaking with Phalanx and two guards removing the Dwarven daggers from the rogue’s person. A smile grew across his face, but Phalanx caught that, he called out to the guards to check his sleeves, boots, and other pockets where he has been stashing other blades and general loot. As the guards were finishing their search, I drunkenly called out, “Check for his ass dagger!” The Little man’s eyes grew to an amazing size. There was no ass dagger, but they didn’t know that, what followed sent me cackling for what seemed like hours. It seemed we’d be heading to Winter-what the fuck you call it sooner rather than later, and the Cleric would be coming with us. It was later I found out that she was the person Phalanx managed to get a job from. And apparently we had to take the rebel-rousers with us. I’m glad we still had our Halfling, but did we need to bring the wizard, I do not trust his fat ass face.
We set up camp alongside the road, Phalanx and I set up the tents as the Cleric, who I would come to learn is named Arywen? Aryaan? Aryawwn? (I’m not best with her name, she seems to avoid me for some reason, is it the horns? I think it’s the horns) watched the prisoners. The wizard I learned was Mykhail, from past experiences I know that name as a derivative of Mikhail otherwise Michael, he far from deserves that title. As I and the reptile set up the tents, I was beginning to have trouble with the setup; every noise came in like an explosion. Phalanx gave me some sort of herbal remedy for the hangover, I’m glad he’s here, I haven’t had that kind of a support for six years, he’s the closest thing I’ve had to family since that day.
Around the fire, Aryawwn told us way we were heading out to Winter-fuck, apparently a dark cult has been spotted keeping a low-key profile in the town. She was hired to find out what they are up to, I forget most of the details, because my head was spinning with the names of Gods and Devils which are followed by these Dark Cults. Could they be necromancers? Or about to summon an abyssal demon? Dagon comes to my mind. What was said next escaped all our minds as the Halfling began to speak, he had, supposedly been bound the entire time, but now his hands were free of their bonds and were gesturing as he spoke. Reacting quickly I whipped him across the face with my tail, a loud crack broke the air as the hobbit tumbled to the ground clenched with pain, still sore after the… um… “search” back in Fallcrest. That night we split the two tents. Phalanx and the Halfling had the luxury of watching the prisoner that we were (I suppose) transporting. While I and the cleric took the other tent. I tried to strike a conversation with the Half-elf, but she ignored me, or she fell asleep fast, either way I felt alone in the tent.
Journal Entry Three
I write as we walk to… it’s not that I don’t remember I’m just too distraught to care.
We were following the forest path, not a worry in our minds. I had the wizard on a rope behind me, tugging him along whenever I felt him drift; I could feel him try to step on my tail, but to no avail. I didn’t raise a fuss, as someone raised with older cousins; I was use to the treatment. The Halfling and the Paladin were arguing about the migratory patterns of local wildlife, such as the deer that Phalanx has failed to spot. And the hobbit pointed out deer do not migrate. I and the wizard were singing travelling tunes to pass the time; because of this I guess I failed to feel the Cleric untie the wizard’s bonds.
The attack happened quickly, without warning the wizard shot a fireball in a direction just beyond the bend and a pack of Kobolds launched from their roosts surrounding us on all sides. I took out one, as Phalanx took out a couple others. The hobbit tried to get a good distance away, but ended up impaled at the end of a lance. He pulled himself off it, only to back into another. He repeated this in a comedic fashion, but the humor turned to horror as he collapsed to the ground; before I could help him that… fucking ingrate… launched a fiery explosion, hurting Phalanx, killing two Kobolds and the Halfling. I saw the life be scorched from his eyes. Even the Cleric was in shock, as she managed to whack herself in the head with her own mace… ouch.
Phalanx killed the last of the Kobolds. As it began to calm down, I clutched the body of my fallen comrade, cradling the crispy corpse in my hands I began to weep. A letter fell from my deceased friend’s pocket; it was addressed to his lover. I realized why leaving Fallcrest was important to him he was hoping to go home to the one person he loved. I learned my friends name was Vairis, why he never told us was beyond me, but I didn’t care. I didn’t open it, I just slipped the note into my pocket hoping to find the man it was addressed to… Bjorn.
My tears turned to rage as I launched myself at the wizard; Phalanx caught me and held me back. I wanted to gouge out his eyes, I wanted to rip out his tongue, I wanted to noose him with his fat intestines, I wanted to leave his mangled body to be devoured by the buzzards and eagles. Even though Phalanx held me firm, the Wizard seemed to go on the defensive, but Aryawwn stood in his way, she told me to be calm.
Be calm… be calm… BE CALM!
My anger was focused on the worthless sack of meat that called itself a man, but my hatred held fast to them both…
Journal Entry Four
It’s been a good long while since I had wrote in this journal, I hadn’t while in Winterhaven for a couple reasons which will become abundantly clear as I explain why. I’m currently writing in… well technically it is a keep, but fuck it, it’s a dungeon. We do have a new companion though: Bjorn. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
We entered Winterhaven before sundown. The wizard now re-bound and in the possession of Aryawwn and Phalanx when we got to the town, but the important thing was that he is not my responsibility, because if he was in my custody I’m certain I’d be leading him along by his intestines and not a rope. I was cradling the corpse of our fallen comrade, wrapped in his bedroll of course. Winterhaven was not a well-kept looking town. It wasn’t in disrepair; it just looked like it hadn’t the ability to maintain it to its full degree. Aryawwn and I gave our cargo to Phalanx as we gained entrance. I had Vairis’ letter and sought out his lover, asking the inn-keeper for his room number. I made my way to the room and after knocking, I heard the scuttling of feet and the sound of locks clicking open. The door opened slightly, revealing the Dwarf’s face. He wasn’t tall, even for a dwarf. He asked me who I was and what I wanted in a deep-throated voice. I told him my name and handed him the letter, which he promptly read with glistening eyes. He asked if Vairis was here, but I told him that he has since passed, even told him that it was the wizard who killed him. This detail is left out when some of us are telling people what happened. The Dwarf let out a single manly tear, before beginning to bawl. I embraced the odd cloaked dwarf and began to cry as well. This was when Aryawwn, Phalanx and Mykhail entered the hall, looking bewildered at the sight of a cloaked dwarf and a demon crying in the center of a room.
Bjorn’s tears turned to rage as he rushed past me and Phalanx with such great speed, the fastest I’ve ever seen a dwarf move. Aryawwn tried to grab the dwarf, but ended up in the oddest piggy-back ride ever. Bjorn punched Mykhail with such force and to a place so low that I thought the wizard’s balls just burst. The Dwarf began to lay a beat down on the wizard and was only calmed when I struck a deal with him that he may kill Mykhail when the quest has completed. After a cool-down Phalanx took Mykhail and went to the forge. Aryawwn pulled up conversations with the guards and an elven merc, who looked more than a little bit… well… off, to put it lightly. Bjorn and I had rounds at the tavern, which soon delved into a drinking contest like this city hath never seen before. I awoke in the morning with a major hangover, unsure of what had happened. Luckily Phalanx left some of that herbal stuff on the desk. I later found out that Mykhail is bound in the jailhouse until we can find out what to do with the porkish man. Aryawwn told us that we’d be heading to an old keep now swamped with goblins in search of the cultists. I doubted that we’d find anything, but she was the one in charge.
The keep seems like a bad idea now that we are here. Our entrance was none to graceful as Phalanx, Bjorn, and Aryawwn managed to alert all enemies to our presence with such efficiency that I was certain we’d be swamped. Luckily all we had to deal with were the jumpiest set of Goblin’s I’ve ever seen. As we went deeper into the crypt we did battle with many undead, like a metric shit ton of undead which is 23% larger than an English shit ton of undead. We’ll sleep in the altar room tonight.
Journal Entry Five
Kobolds, I hate Kobolds, I’ll enjoy spilling their blood with my new toy. To explain I guess I should say we made it back to Winterhaven after we left the Keep. Which I was wrong about; it was a perfect place to go! The morning after my last entry I fixed everyone breakfast before we decided to enter the tomb which we had rested out in front. We entered to find a large stone sarcophagus of a captain of the Imperial guard. I told Bjorn not to touch it… he touched it. Fuck. A skeleton clad in plate armor arose from his grave, yet he seemed passive. Bjorn as a servant of the Raven-Queen (a less useless god than Pelor, sorry Aryawwn) is hell bent on destroying all undead. I tackled the dwarf to the ground and sat on his back, kicking him when he struggled. This allowed Phalanx and Aryawwn to speak with the captain, who we learned was named Sir Keegan. As a gesture of good faith they laid down their arms, Phalanx even tossed his shield across the room. Keegan was still hesitant; his job is to protect this keep from intruders, like us.
Bjorn managed to break free of my grasp and launched himself upon Keegan, slamming his hammer on Keegan’s shield. Aryawwn hoping to reason with them healed the undead knight and tried to strike Bjorn for his hasty actions. Phalanx succeeded in knocking Bjorn unconscious. I picked up Phalanx’s shield and turned to face my comrades and the knight. I shouted “STOP” and each fell still and silent. I walked over and pulled the unconscious dwarf to the other end of the room and tied him up so that his he came too, he wouldn’t be able to do anything. To make sure I took his weapons from him. Now I was carrying Phalanx’s shield and Bjorn’s Hammer, not having drawn my sword once. I stepped forward and spoke to Keegan, who I found to be a very reasonable and well humored individual. I said, “Please Sir Keegan forgive my friend for he is a follower of the Raven Queen so he is a bit Cuckoo for Coco-Puffs when it comes to the undead” to which he responded asking “what are these Coco Puffs, are they as good as Lucky Charms?”. I answered, “They’re cereal, and no, but Reese’s Puffs are the best of them all”. We continued to talk and he told us that the keep was built to combat a dark cult, which Keegan hoped should not return. I told him they have, he simply replied with a “Shit”. He told us that the cult was defeated by the Imperial forces and wizards put in a seal to block of their dark powers (Keegan added, “well wizards don’t really “put in”, but you get the idea”, I chuckled). I asked him who they were working for and Keegan answered that they were the Cult of Orcus. I screamed “Son of a Bitch” at the top of my lungs and threw Bjorn’s hammer to the floor. We promised Keegan that we would stop them, and he gave us his sword, which now lives in my sheath. Keegan crumbled to dust before us, Aryawwn and I scooped his remains off the floor and returned them to his crypt. Phalanx carried the Dwarf back to Winterhaven.
When we returned to Winterhaven a guard asked us to accompany him to the Lord’s manor and we did after putting Bjorn in his room and returning his gear. The Lord of Winterhaven tasked us with wiping out the Kobolds which hunt the roads, and we agreed to the quest.
This morning I did something different to my usual routine, I woke early and headed out to the shop. While at the shop I ran into Phalanx, who was selling some of the loot we collected from the Keep. He was certainly surprised to see me up at the wee-hours of the morning. While looking around the shop I asked him since it took an army to defeat the cult the last time, maybe he could get his paladin friends to join with us, I know all too well what Dragonborn Zealots are capable of, they could easily crush this cult. But he seemed to sidestep the question, even when I persisted. Something’s not right, I can feel it in the left side of my brain; my right side has been numbed by alcohol. I continued searching in the shop and managed to find a piece of Malachite, the Guardian Stone. Malachite is a Copper-Carbonate, my dad use to carve these green stones into the shapes of Pantherines and Tapirs. They are called Guardian Stones because the ancients believed that these stones would crack if danger was near. I bought it; I knew exactly what I was to do with it.
This comes the more awkward part of my morning. I haven’t mentioned my thoughts on my companions much, just their general actions. Phalanx is like the big brother I never had, he is protective and caring, he reminds me of Lilin in that way, just he’s tall, much taller… WAY taller, and a Dinocephalian Therapsid, but that’s beside the point. Bjorn is an odd one, a bit brash, but likeable; I’m certainly glad to have another like myself in the party, even if he is on the opposite side of the team (I think if you’re reading this right now, you’ve already figured this out). I admire his passion for vengeance, a vengeance I want seen through fruition. Then there’s Aryawwn, I don’t think she thinks to highly of me, I can understand. She was of noble birth and raised in a world where sacrilege is a greater crime than murder. We come from two different backgrounds, they clash. She is the rock and I am the stream. I mean no disrespect to her, if only she knew that. I feel as though I haven’t been much of a friend to her, we barely speak to each other, we’re opposites on this team. If only she knew I cared, and am sorry for anything I did to upset her, I mean her no ill fate. By this I felt the Guardian stone is the best way to express my thoughts without coming on too strong. Malachite is meant to protect, to bring success to its possessor, to bring her/him luck and love.
I brought the stone to Aryawwn who was sitting at the desk, preparing for the morning. I approached and greeted her, she greeted back. After an awkward silence (in which more of my kind are born, or at least that’s what Kezef said, but he was always a joker) I gave her the stone and told her the significance of its history both with the ancients and my own family. She thanked me with a smile. Strange, this was the first time I’ve seen her smile. She should more often; she’s got a good one. After another awkward silence, I backed out of the room saying my goodbyes and stuttering when I told her that I’d wait for her in the Tavern with Bjorn and Phalanx. When I was out of her line of sight, my face turned a darker shade of red and I began to clutch my tail… what the hell am I doing. Feeling embarrassed I proceeded to the Tavern.
Journal Entry Six
A Mental Note:
I had an odd dream last night, not one that I had wished to discuss,I had awoke in the dead of the night, heart pounding out of my chest. I look across the room. Aryawwn was in the other bed, sleeping. I decided to leave; this is what got me to the market place that morning, even before Phalanx was up. I really must see Lilin. I miss her more than anything else from home. I wish I had gone with her all those years ago. I must get to Zarathustra, Ariel and Erem can point me in the right direction.
I don’t know where it is, but what I do know is that it is to the East, and is a coastal city. I was there once when I was four, back when I didn’t have a sense of direction… I still don’t have a sense of direction. Zarathustra is a predominantly human settlement, with humans making up ninety percent of the population. It’s an odd town. I remember Grandpa telling me when I was young that the people of Zarathustra are unlike those in the west. The city is full of scholars, which is why Ariel and Erem moved there. Zarathustra has temples, but not to the Gods of the west, the people of Zarathustra are Angel worshippers. Westerners and the people of Zarathustra have never got along, which is probably why ole Grandpa Mastema was so well accepted there. Phalanx always seems to get shivers when I mention that city, something is not right. If only we talked to each other more often, none of my comrades want to open up, but I can tell each of them are broken in one way or another.
Journal Entry Seven
I just got up; my comrades have yet to stir. I can barely feel any fiber of my being, so much blood was shed in such a short span of time, and not all was Kobolds. There were far more than I had anticipated, but it all worked out in the end. The party all seemed to work well together; they are becoming linked as one unit. I’m so happy that they do now. The battle was far too close for comfort though; several fell only to rise once again. I did quite well and proud of that, Lilin would be pleased to hear. In the end my comrades had fallen to the ground, I alone had to finish off the Shaman. It came so close… I almost lost Aryawwn… I almost lost my brothers… I couldn’t let that happen. They’ll be pleased to hear that I tended to their wounds and will be preparing breakfast in the morning.
The Good news is that we now know that the Cultists will attack Winterhaven in the coming week, I’m unsure if we should evacuate the town because we have also learned that a rat lives in that old village. I suspect the Noble-man, or the Smith, possibly the Elf… I’m truly unsure. I hope it’s the Elf… wait am I jealous of the Elf? I think we should find the rat sooner rather than later. In other news there is a shit ton of treasure (just an English one this time), to bad I’m not getting any of it… I promised it to the dwarf so that he would save Aryawwn. Thank you Bjorn… On the bright side we now have far more gold than we could possibly use and I think Aryawwn will love the Chainmail in the Goblin’s possession.
We won, that’s all that matters now. I think my comrades will want to give the Goblin burial rights, I’d say fuck it, but I’m probably going to be out-voted. I’ll carve a “Fuck You” sign anyway, just to place on whatever “Sacred Construct” they manage to think up. I personally think if we are to do that with the goblin then we are to do that with all our foes, the goblin was the leader, but that doesn’t make him more important in my eyes. I’d say just pile them up and burn them, that’s about as much as they deserve. They were raiders, murderers, and thieves; they get no inch of respect from me; no matter rank or faith. They are all as worthy as the demons they serve.
Journal Entry Eight
It’s been a long time since I last wrote in this thing. I was a little preoccupied the night before this. Yesterday morning we had set out to find the spy laying wait in Winterhaven. We spoke with Bear-man and then split up to speak with several suspects. Phalanx and I spoke with the smithies, a nice fellow, found out he was working on a Homunculus. Good, this town needs it, not much would stand in the way if the Gnolls grew a pair and came down from the Lake, or worse, the damn Frost Giants in the Mountains beyond. Aryawwn and Bjorn spoke with the elf; I don’t think they got far.
The wizard was also put to death that day. Bjorn cleaved his head from his shoulders. As a last respect I placed two silver coins over his eyes… only they’re silver bitch, have fun in Helför (For those who are confused that is another name for the Shadowfell).
The next morning we split up again to speak with more suspects. Aryawwn and Phalanx went to speak with the enchanter (I don’t recall his name so I will refer to him as Tim). Bjorn and I headed out to the meadows to speak with a woman who picks flowers, I wasn’t told how young she was, she is the age I was when my family was slaughtered, here’s hoping that the same fate doesn’t befall her. We must have scared the Hell out of her approaching through the long grass, just a Tiefling and the stalk of a vicious hammer visible. If that didn’t scare her the mention of undead did, the poor dear… She’s definitely not the rat. I ended up carrying the dwarf away, he was… well… being Bjorn really.
Upon our return to town the spy revealed themselves in the manner of a serial homicide and raising of the dead, including the bodies of Vairis and Mykhail. The undead were nothing for the team and I shut down the sigil, but damn that dwarf can move. I think that Bjorn actually broke the sound barrier, his feet were not visible and his cloak twisted in the air as if he were a wraith. He shot himself across the graveyard and straight into the body of the elf. I just want to say I fucking called it. She wouldn’t have survived even if she managed to kill every one of us; her wounds were far too severe.
After the battle I spoke with Aryawwn, came to learn that she had lost her lover not long ago. She blames herself; this is why she wishes to end her own life… I never could understand those who wished to take their own, is it just not the most precious thing to some? This beautiful play of chemicals bore of long bloodlines reaching eons back in time, to live in a world set in a never ending expanse of space held together by intangible forces that cannot be comprehended by any god here or out beyond. And this expands forever past more distant worlds and gods with untold names past people and stories we will never know, hear or even tell. It’s precious to me, the life of myself and those I love. If only she knew I loved her. I did my best to console her. I revealed myself to her, I haven’t told anyone before about little Aphid, I didn’t even tell Melanie about him. He was almost two years of age… Peor’s last son… it was my job to protect him… I tried… I failed… I hid… my heart ached as I heard him cry… my heart broke when he stopped. I hope Aryawwn at least understands that our past truly doesn’t matter, it can be bullshitted by six assholes sitting around a table, it’s what we do now which is most important of all, we live not for our sakes, we live for the sake of others, our friends, our family, our brothers of metal, our sisters in arms. Please don’t leave me little one… not again…
So much for that… we all got hammered that night, even Aryawwn had several drinks. They were her firsts and that was obvious, she was out cold quickly… but Bjorn fell first which was odd. Poor little one, never overdo your first, I made that same mistake on my seventieth. I laid her down in her bed, on her side of course… I tried to lift the dwarf, but collapsed… Phalanx helped us out.
In the morning we got a new comrade: Another half-elf but older and less racist than dear Aryawwn. I knew she was a magic user but I was unsure of exactly what she was… that was revealed when we entered the catacombs. There were these odd traps throughout the crypt, we were unsure of what they were. We leapt across them, I helped Bjorn by slugging him in the face teleporting him across. I very much love Bjorn, he is the most humorous of our party, and is quite a character. I heard the fall of feet, but was unsure of what it was until a massive Fox leapt towards Bjorn and me, it looked like a more built version of one of the Maned Wolves from the New World jungles, turns out it was our new comrade Sydienne (Syd) is a Druid. I was excited; these are one of the few mage classes which I truly admire.
It was Aryawwn who tripped, the screaming I couldn’t bear it… it rang through my skull, I felt as though I had descended into the infernal winds of Jahannam itself. When I came to I was alone. I could hear the sounds of combat in the halls and I rushed to aid my comrades, but I failed to notice another trap… the screaming didn’t stop this time, I heard it for the next several minutes, not until Bjorn broke the door with his hammer… I apologized to my comrades for my absence, they didn’t seem to mind.
What happened next set my heart to fire… the end of the room had a false wall, that definitely had untold numbers of undead behind it. Before we could plan Aryawwn leapt through it, not for the taste of death on her steel, but to kiss the queen herself. But she didn’t just put herself at risk she put our brothers at risk as well. Her selfishness will be her undoing much as Phalanax’s love for adrenaline and my own god damned mouth are to us. I set fire to several, accidently hitting Aryawwn as well, I came to her aid even when she asked for the Queen to claim her as if that would undo all she thinks she has done…
My mind racing I failed to draw the blood of my foes, luckily my allies had my back.
After the combat ceased, I took hold of Aryawwn’s gorget and shoved her against the wall, a look of fear rolled across her face, I could feel my eyes… I know the feeling… I didn’t have my pupils… I told her that even though I felt sorry for her, the moment she puts the lives of our brothers at stake it is no longer her problem, it is mine. I wouldn’t have her do that again, if she wants to take her life she should do it at her expense not theirs. I dropped her and my anger faded… my vision returned to normal. My face no longer sat stern… instead it was a mixture of sorrow and disappointment.
Aryawwn… I love you… why can’t you at least love yourself… would he truly accept you? Like this? Did he die for you to follow suit? Or did he die to give you second chance to cherish this beautiful world you live in… to live out your days happy… please child do not do this… it is a dark road… and hell shall follow that pale horse and the horseman which rides upon it…
I came to her again that night, I held her in my arms… dear girl I am sorry…
Journal Entry Nine
I made a terrible mistake today… I almost got myself and my comrades killed; all because I wanted to take pity on my foe, all because I didn’t want to be as bad as he… This demands further explanation of course. I cooked breakfast in the morning as usual, now I’m glad my father taught me how to cook when I was younger. I could see the smiles on my comrades’ faces, except Aryawwn. I feel so bad for what I had done to her yesterday. I never meant to hurt her, neither physically nor emotionally. I overreacted and I wished I had the courage to tell her that I was sorry. I decided last night that I’d leave her be, I’d let her make her own choices for they were not mine to make for her, she is the captain of her life and I mustn’t beguile her. I’m sorry I’ve been awful little one… I hope you do not see me as the monster so many others do, I only did it because I love you… soon I will not be your problem and you may choose as you please and I will not get in your way. I do not know where you will go after we stop these men, nor do I know the paths of Bjorn or Syd. Luckily I will still have Phalanx with me once we all leave Winterhaven and go our own ways. I will leave you alone little one…
We headed further into the keep soon afterward, soon facing a horde of Hobgoblins. The Hobgoblin is the smartest and most skilled of all the members of the genus Cobolorumi, far more powerful than their kin such as Goblins or Bugbears, but not as powerful as the Ogre, yet still far more intelligent than any other, this is what makes them dangerous. We were trapped on the stairway as the Hobgoblins formed a phalanx at the base. I was unable to strike them so a shot at them with my crossbow, not my best weapon, in fact it is my worst, yet I still managed to hit things, including a gargantuan spider which was dispatched by Phalanx. I succeeded in kicking one of the Hobgoblins into a well before we slaughtered his comrades. A task I still feel none too proud of… but I’ll get back to that. I conversed with the Hobgoblin, who was named Gruck, in his native tongue, the dwarf constantly asked questions, I gave… adequate responses (?). I offered to spare his life and even free him if he took us to the Necromancer, but I had him on a tight leash. That’s when I felt it, a blade to my throat, not Gruck’s, but Aryawwn’s.
This caught me off guard… she didn’t want to take a prisoner, I didn’t want to take a life which I didn’t need to take… dear girl am I but a monster to you? I do not know what her past with captive was like, but I am inclined to show my foes mercy if they are inclined to yield. This went for the Kobold back on the path to Winterhaven… I didn’t want to kill him. I do not wish to be judge or jury, let alone an executioner, the business is sickening. I wish we could push them as any would be… taken to a court for their crimes and imprisoned upon decree of guilt. But no… we give the wizard a prison sentence, only kill him after he takes two lives. I’ve seen countless humans, elves, dwarves, and other races thrown in prisons for the same crimes as the Kobolds, Orcs, and Goblins. But when these races commit atrocities they are put down like dogs… because the “civilized” people don’t see them as people, they see them as monsters. Why are they called monsters? They live on the fringes of societies they hunt, kill, and steal to make a living and any opportunity which may grant them a more secure life they leap at, but such is only offered by the foulest of the “civilized” races. I’ve seen it in Greymont, these races can learn and live like the “civilized” ones, but they are outcast and forced down the darker roads for people see them as nothing more than the beasts of the field. If a human or elf robbed a man and left him dead in the street the killer would be arrested. Had it been a Goblin or a Kobold, they’d slay the little bastard, not a second thought crossing their minds. Don’t think I don’t know what would befall me if I were to do the same… I wouldn’t have a human’s luxury…
I moved quick enough to pull the dagger away from my throat and rip it from Aryawwn’s hand. After Bjorn tied Gruck’s hands I returned the dagger to Aryawwn… I didn’t know what to say… I didn’t say anything. But I could see it in her eyes, the same rage she saw in mine after the incident on the road, only then it was directed at the wizard… I know that look… betrayal…
Gruck led us to the tomb of the Keegan family, but it was a trap. Two of the Keegan’s busted from the stone and attacked Aryawwn and Phalanx. Gruck tried to escape, but I knocked him to the floor, but before I could act it was upon us: The Gelatinous Cube. Syd and I were trapped with it and I could feel the burning as the microbes ate away at my skin. I busted out but Syd was still trapped within, Gruck was laughing, he knocked Aryawwn prone, and he laughed… I struck at him but missed as he rolled away, only to be struck by Phalanx’s blade. The cube took the fight out of us, but we managed to slay it and Syd managed to escape and dish out the pain as well. I do enjoy her company. We all found a chest, which I was worried was actually a mimic, foul beasts, but luckily it was just a chest, Phalanx got an amulet, he seems to love it. He smiled a most contagious smile. I feel Phalanx has it figured out… his experience is far more recent than Aryawwn or I’s, yet he stays happy, he doesn’t let his past consume him. I guess it is a wisdom that comes with age. I smiled and turned to Aryawwn, but I couldn’t read her… dear girl I know you will leave me, but do not leave sour… please do not be scared of me… please do not hate me… I could take goodbye… but not that… not again…
Journal Entry Ten
I… am still… a little shaken… I need more time to recover. No watch for me tonight, because you know it went so well last time. Oh that’s right I need to write about last night. I was on guard duty when another one of those fucking Hobgoblins showed up with an entire raiding party! I called my comrades to arms and we fought the foes to the best of our abilities. I was shot in my shoulder, I think it may have shattered because I can still feel something in there. The wizard (not Mykhail he’s in the shadowfell… or Hell… probably Hell), no the Hobgoblin wizard; He was a fucking asshole… cheap too. Phalanx managed to wreck house with them though. Aryawwn fell near the beginning of the fight… Bjorn did the best he could to patch her up… which wasn’t very good really. I came to her and tended to her the best I could. She is my priority. If nothing else I will not fail her.
I charged out to face the archers, a pair of she-hobs. Sydienne had my back as did Aryawwn. But I fell… not like I ever had before… as I was blacking out I saw Bjorn collapse as well… I was out of it then. I could feel a burning within me. As if I were on fire, a beast which only sought vengeance and was fueled by rage seemed to muster itself from within my sorry state.
I saw something odd when I was down. I saw the room around me dissipate and I was laying alone in a black room which moved as fabrics do in the wind. I saw a light cast down to me. It came from a bird, more majestic and unlike any I have seen before. A great bird with a grand wingspan and the most luminous feathers it was. It had teeth in its beak and a set of claws on its hands. It enveloped me in its presence. That’s when it spoke, not physically but telepathically. It had a womanly voice. She told me that she would look out for me. I had many questions. Who was she? What was she? Why is she looking out for me, a goddamned, good-for-nothing Tiefling? Before I asked she answered one, “Someone loves you dearly child, she has asked me to protect you, to get you home safely. I can’t be there all the time, still I will be there when you need me. I will keep to the promise I made with your desert flower”.
Desert Flower… That is something I haven’t heard in a long time… Lily… my dear Lilin…
And as if to answer my previous questions, the bird seemed to become a loose white fabric, twirling into the figure of a woman. She appeared to be in her forties, Arabic in form, with dark hair, brown skin, and buxom figure. The fabrics formed a gown and hijab which bathed her beauty in a radiant light. Six great white wings, with an almost iridescent hint of reds and blues, spread from behind her form. An angel… an Archangel…
That was when I could feel my condition stabilize… and the beautiful maid left my vision. I came to to see another beautiful maid in my vision… dear precious Aryawwn.
We came to the next room to see some… well obvious traps. Bjorn managed to deactivate the swinging Automaton-like statue in the most dwarfish way possible. Syd, Aryawwn, and I ended up trapped in a magic room with four little Putti statues. And yes they were Putti not Cherubim. A Cherub would be offended if you called her a Putto; Cherubim are massive fiery beasts with massive hooves, four heads, four wings, four hands, and skin of coal. Still the result was the same, smashed the babes quickly so that we could be free, Aryawwn did the final blow.
The next room was filled with undead… like three metric fuck-tons of them. Upon entering I saw a Zombie on Bjorn’s left and I rushed to slay it, but as it fell something approached… a ghoul… I… I… I… I can’t even bring myself to think of those wretched creatures… I had never feared anything more in my life. That beast was the haunt of my childhood. The creature rushed me and clawed me, grappled me, and bit me. I had flashbacks to that day… I went down, paralyzed as Phalanx and Bjorn struck the beast. I couldn’t move… It happened again…
When I was thirteen… Lilin and I had decided to sneak out of the house. We had heard that the Glowing Lotus’ were blooming; an amazing sight and a once in a ten year occurrence. These bizarre flowers came from the Feywild deep below Midgard, their bioluminescence helped them survive in the Underdark, and they were brought up by the now free slaves of the Fomorians when they left the Feywild. We snuck out in the dead of night when everyone else was asleep. We grabbed our coats and rushed into the woods up the hills which make the base of the Southern chain in the Dawnforge Mountains. We walked for four hours before we found the grove. The flowers opened up before us, their light radiated across the meadow. Few sights are as wonderful. And few sights are as horrid as what the illuminated. A Ghoul was there in the grove; it began to snarl and rushed toward Lilin. I leapt in front of her, and it tackled me to the ground… its teeth dug into my arm. I tried to fight back, but I soon was paralyzed by the beast. I could see Lilin, she rushed at it, smacking it with a large stick. It lashed back, knocking her prone… It stood over her. That’s when it was hit by a bolt. The Ghoul leapt back from Lilin, a wound ripped through its gut. It yowled at the new comer. Only to be shot again, this time in the head, it was dead… Lilin came to me, she cradled me. I could look up upon her face: tears, terror, and love in her broken eyes… That’s when I saw Mocoton standing over us. He carried me home… I awoke the next day with a Lotus in my bed… and an apology letter from Lily. She blamed herself. I couldn’t bear to see her cry… but we were there for each other.
Now I felt alone… cold as this thing stood over me. That is when I realized I was not alone. I had my brothers and sisters, and they needed me. I began to move my fingers then my arms; I lifted up to cast a fire burst at a pack of the undead. Phalanx was a little surprised. I collapsed again, not yet able to move my legs and lower back. I clutched my steel and thrust it upward at the undead. Bjorn made short work of the Homunculus and Ghoul, while Phalanx killed a shit ton of Zombies. My comrades helped me to my feet, though I stumbled. Phalanx caught me and set me back up, only for me to fall again, this time on Aryawwn. I think she smiled though… does she? No that can’t be… I mean… Trestin? Or… I guess… ohhhh…
PS – Find Lute in town.
PPS – Also get glasses.
Journal Entry Eleven
Today we drink, today we sing, today our steel was drenched in the blood of our foes and glory was ours to claim! Well that was actually a week ago, but you get the idea. I haven’t written in a while. I’ve spent all my time practicing the strings on my new Lute. Today we are heading out of Winterhaven and back to Fallcrest. But I will recall the tale to the best of my ability, for indeed it was a most glorious one!
We woke and readied ourselves for possibly our last day upon this plane, but we’d not see the Valkyries without sending all who stand before us into the clutches of their foul Lord of Death. We made our way down the stairs into a grand room, which Bjorn and Syd immediately found was crawling with Vampires, along with some Berserker Bitches and a Dark One. I am fairly certain that those two women descend from the stock of Kvenland; few others besides Orcs have the power and ferocity that those two possessed. I had prepared an attack at a doorway, only to be parried by a Vampire. She was a much better fighter than any undead I had encountered before; granted, Vampire. The two of us had a bit of a scuffle, but the Dark One actually gave me a slight advantage, he chucked a dagger into my shield. I slammed my shield into the Vampire’s head and lodged the back end of the dagger through her eye. She collapsed, so I guess you don’t need a stake then (that’s when I asked myself if these guys could actually turn into mist, that is a yes in fact as Phalanx found out). I rushed back to the main hall where I found the Berserkers ganging up on Aryawwn. I shouted in rage and charged them, striking one with my sword. I called out to Aryawwn as me and the bitch faced off. She proved more powerful than me and fell me in a blow, but Aryawwn brought me to, and I struck at the berserker from the ground, she fell to Bjorn’s hammer and I, blinded by the Dark One’s death, charged forward to defend the one I love. My sword stuck into the second Berserker’s chest, and even when she tried to run the druid and I cornered her and finished her off.
We found a hole in the floor leading to a lower level. We… tried to descend, but more or less just fell comedically into a pile at the bottom. Well at least Aryawwn did fine; she not only planted the banner into the ground but rode down and landed like a boss. Damn that was hot. We rose to face our villain at last, surrounded by skeletal archers, a Wight as backup, and a terrifying portal leading to the most horrid under-regions of the Shadowfell. Bjorn and I rushed forward to face Kalarel, but he teleported away. The portal also turned out to be a menace, whispering false promises and horrid lies. I ran to the alter and surprised myself in the fact that everything made sense to me. I knew what to do, but first we had to take out Kalarel (who I snagged a personal journal from, apparently he used to be in the circus, and his name is actually Karl; sad really, not in the sad way, but the pitiful way). Phalanx killed the Wight allowing us to pick off the archers. Now we just had Karl to deal with. He was in combat with my brothers and sisters on the opposite side of the room from me. He was managing to dodge and deflect their attacks. He laughed and claimed them weak claiming the failures of their gods and the mastery of his. I marched my way across the room and struck him proclaiming “I HAVE NO GODS”, the blow was indeed mighty, he was no longer untouchable. My comrades followed suit, striking blow, after blow, after blow. Finally he fell, but we had no time to celebrate. We needed to get to the other side. That was when one of the tendrils struck me down. I was unconscious but I could feel Syd and Bjorn trying to drag me away, and I could feel Aryawwn’s touch, but also the touch of that horrid tentacle. I seemed to have some sort of out of body experience as I gazed down at my body being dragged away. I saw my comrades in trouble; the book was proving to be too much for them. Phalanx and Bjorn had fallen and Aryawwn was the only one remaining to deactivate the portal. Sydienne helped the best she could, but I saw fear in her eyes. That was when the book turned to dust… It seemed hopeless. Bjorn and I were being dragged toward Orcus’ clutches and Aryawwn was struggling to save Bjorn. I felt the cold clutches of the Lord of Death. My body then felt as though it was fire and my head was screaming for vengeance. That’s when I saw Aryawwn fall, I knew I must do something and fast. I had only one option… I called to her… the Woman draped in White. I saw her above me. I knelt before her, I asked her to save my comrades. If she were to grant us victory I would be her soldier forever in her debt. Haurvatat looked upon me in her beauty and slender and I was enveloped in her light. In the glow I saw the Maned Wolf move at a breakneck pace. Syd rose and clutched the Stone which hung around Karl’s neck and I could hear Orcus’ cries. Syd burnt it in her hand, with lightning in her eyes and across her form. I could feel Orcus be scorched by her power. It was over and the light finally faded.
We rose and left the keep come the next morning. We collapsed the ruins upon the entrance, trapping whatever villains remain inside. And we made our way back to Winterhaven… broken, beaten, and scarred. But we are victorious. We made a stop at the Smithie and Phalanx requested a Bastard Sword, and then made our way to the manor. Bearman was surprised to see us and I don’t know how to describe it… I don’t think anyone has ever shown me that kind of respect (he also hit on the druid as a side note). I asked the steward for a lute and some white paint, as I had a plan for it. We clean up in the Inn, but coming downstairs into the Tavern we were greeted with applause… we were heroes. I knew they were of course; Phalanx is more of a pinnacle of justice than his own god, Aryawwn has suffered so much to know others should not either, Sydienne has made it her mission to save people, and Bjorn… well he is Bjorn. I never thought myself as a hero… maybe because I never have been treated as such. Even When I was defending Greymont, everyone treated me as an outcast… a Tiefling… a devil… the kin of murderers and the judge of the gods. But now I left that keep renewed, baptized, reborn… I am now held up among heroes and the servant of the Goddess of Wholeness and Immortality.
Everyone was relaxing, Aryawwn and Bjorn are starting to become fast friends and Phalanx is enjoying his new sword. I think Syd just wanted to sleep (her cold is coming back, I can feel it). I spent my time in Winterhaven painting and practicing the lute. Haurvatat’s seal now has been placed upon my shield, the White Bird (this same seal is on the flag of Dargma and on the necklace of my dear desert flower). I had played the lute before, it was a common pastime when I was in Greymont, but now this was important. I tried to get the sound right, but it wasn’t working right. I asked Syd for some help. Damn electricity makes this thing sound great! I got the cords and I had the lyrics (an old favorite of my father’s, written by a Bard by the name of Peter Stanley). In the early morning I rose, before the dawn I woke Syd so that we could set this thing up. I cannot thank her enough. We went out into the street and I waited till I saw her rise and walk past the window. I got her attention and she opened the window to see what was going on. I called up to her “I’m sorry for anything I did; I never meant to hurt you…”, then I played “Hard Luck Woman”. The sound apparently woke Bjorn, because as I was finishing he tried (unsuccessfully) to close his window, only to catch his beard in it. It was humorous indeed. But my gaze immediately returned to Aryawwn… her eyes so beautiful and her spirit pure… I confessed my love for her… and she, her love for me.
~Khuda Hafiz (Gods Preserve You)
Journal Entry Twelve
Thank the gods for Phalanx’s concoction, I haven’t been this stone cold drunk in a month. I promised I wouldn’t drink, I promised I wouldn’t return to that horrid, loathsome place at the bottom of my psyche, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t just hurt myself in the same way again. Aryawwn… I had to let her go… it’s for her own good… Trestin is alive; her love, her fiancé, her best friend.
I guess I should play a bit of catch-up, after we left Winterhaven we traveled back to Fallcrest. We spent a while there restocking our supplies. Bjorn bought a pig for some reason, Mariel, she is beyond adorable. Helped us find truffles on our way to Milo. Oh yeah, we made the five day trek across the Vale to Milo, Aryawwn’s home town. Both in Fallcrest and when we camped, Aryawwn and I slept in the same bed; it’s been so long since I felt the warmth of another… I know what you’re thinking, but heaven’s no nothing happened. It’s just been so long since I held someone… or someone held me… and once again that’s gone. Damn I know how to pick them, don’t I; either it’s a one night stand or they are already bound to another. I can get this happening to a gal once, but thrice? Damn I really know the perfect ways to break my own heart. Vesta… Melanie… now Aryawwn… I’m beginning to think fate hates me.
We got to Milo to learn that it had gone through some nasty political upheavals, and apparently dear Aryawwn is now a princess, as her father, Luther, is now Milo’s King. Cadrin… I think that’s what they call the inner circles of the city. Apparently the rebellion is still underfoot as there was an attack on the outer wall, but no one was hurt. That night Aryawwn ran into the forest, we had to follow after her. I was worried something would happen to her. My mind raced with images… Ghouls mostly… I will never shake that night. In an odd flash of light we found her alone in a glade. She was on her knees. I rushed to her and held her in my arms, told her that we were there for her, and kissed her on the forehead. In a surprising reaction she pushed me away and cut into her arm with the dwarven dagger. She had hatred in her eyes… the look broke me… what had I done wrong… I failed her. I could feel my soul boiling, and I could feel my eyes roll back in my head. I didn’t want to let her see me like this… I didn’t want to see her like that… I ran… I could think of anything else to do but run… once again I ran… some friend I am… some hero I am… I didn’t help her… I didn’t protect the baby… maybe I am better off gone, maybe they were right and maybe he was right.
The thoughts of my uncle’s words rang in my head once again. Some days I believe he was right… I don’t wish to talk about it. Phalanx, Sydienne, Bjorn, and I headed out to follow the lead of the terrorists attack on the outer walls. We did find an outpost in the forest. We tried to speak with them; I didn’t want to kill anyone… If anything I didn’t want to get myself involved with this war. I can’t stand war, especially if they are civil wars. There is so much needless death over things that are unimportant, of little importance, or of importance to only those at the top. I can’t stand killing people (any sentient really), unless they are murders (This includes warlords and genocidal pricks), rapists, or in allegiance with forces that wish to destroy innocent lives, but these people just want to be free and I can respect that. But three men ended up dead, and we ended up captured. We were brought to their camp but were soon rescued by an interesting band of people. Aryawwn was leading them. I came to learn the big fellow was named Doric, he and Phalanx became fast friends. There was a ranger, for all their buildup, they really aren’t as interesting as they think they are, and he was no different. There was a bard, Emile was his name, and he seemed to by hitting it off with Bjorn. Upon the sight of my beloved Aryawwn I ran into her arms. I looked into her eyes, mine still a blank white, and I saw something was wrong. That’s when I saw him… Trestin… he was alive. Upon this realization my soul split in two, I smiled at her and I told her that very few people ever get a second chance, especially like this. I asked Trestin to take good care of her and I kissed him on the cheek, and left her with him. I am so happy for her… but my heart has been swallowed, it happened again. My mind turned to Vesta… motherly and sweet, as close as we got, I knew I had to let her go, she was married and I didn’t want to take that from her. I thought of Melanie… free-spirited and beautiful, I had to let her go, she had a lover and I wouldn’t take her away from her. I do not recall the names of my drunken flings, only present to make me forget about how alone I was. Now dear Aryawwn… he is more important to you, and I will not take you from him… Once again I was alone… on our way back all I wanted was a drink and to drown in my self-loathing… drunkenly strum and longingly stare… my mind focusing only on my precious desert flower.
But we were stopped on our way to the bar… five guards clad in Black Armor… they took us deep in a crypt to what I think was meant to be a torture chamber… turned interrogation room. The old veteran did the questioning, all about the rebels… first Bjorn, then Phalanx… he asked me about who was helping them and what they were planning. I told him straight up that the elves were helping them, and that they were preparing for war. The Veteran told me that the war was over. “It’s only over when both sides concede”, I replied. He hit me, the blow was quite hard. Like a fucking idiot I reply to such a dick move with a smirk, he slapped me again. Bjorn stood up for me, but he was lucky that he didn’t get his head lopped off. The Veteran then went over to Sydienne. I couldn’t hear her, but whatever she said didn’t please him, he slapped her. I seethed with rage. Who was this bastard who seemed to only get his panties filled by smacking around women who couldn’t even draw a blade on him? We were released and Aryawwn came to my aid, asking if I was alright. I was glad to see she didn’t hate me, that she still cared. But my heart sank when I looked at her.
We finally were able to go to the bar, everyone having a jolly-good time. I sat in the corner with my lute, strumming the tune to the song “Big River” by a traveling Bard named John. I drank alone, away from everyone else; though my eyes darted around. Everyone seemed so happy. Sydienne even got to drinking. Bjorn was talking with Emile, and Aryawwn sat with Trestin. Phalanx walked up to me, and we had a talk. I don’t know where I’d be with him. He is kind of like that big brother I never had, almost like Kesef, except not as silly… now that I think of it Kesef was more like Bjorn. I apparently got drunk enough to trip over my massive Rapunzeline pony-tail, in rage I told it to fuck-off and with a flash of the dwarven dagger I lopped off my pony-tail. Picking up the massive bundle of hair I tossed it to some unknown direction never to see it again. Maybe I was letting go of the past, maybe I was getting rid of something that was weighing me down, or maybe I just needed a haircut.
~Khuda Hafiz (Gods Preserve You)
Journal Entry Thirteen
The Kenku are an interesting species. I think they descend of the primeval survivors of Jehol, and this would make sense, as they are most common in Jehol, Bamar, and Xia-Zhou. They are not birds, despite being called bird-men, as they have fingers. All Neornithes have fused hands and complete wings. The Kenku are likely some form of stem Availian or possibly even more closely related to the other clades of Maniraptora (Troodontidae is a safe bet). They have the ability to mimic sounds, thus with a scream they brought us into a trap. Yet we held our ground very well. Bjorn killed one and I killed the other, but the third escaped. Aryawwn and I tried to follow it, but I was too weak to give chase. We came to learn they were hired by a cult of Orcus worshippers (I’m seriously getting tired of these bastards; my beef is with a bigger foe). There is a near certainty that they are in league with the Black-Armoured guards. Sydienne was the first to realize that since they need to hear something to mimic it, and they were using Trestin’s voice, Trestin was in trouble. We rushed to find out what they had done to him. But we ended up splitting the party; Sydienne and I went first to the library to pick up a book on the local topography and the layout of Milo, to hopefully find out where a cult may end up hiding. Then we went to King Luther.
Sydienne and I entered the King’s chamber and I informed him of the Cult and of Trestin’s peril. He was surprised to hear the latter because Trestin was fine, he was in his chamber. My heart sank lower than it has ever before, well that’s a goddamn lie, I heard Dragonborns snuff my family including a two year old child, but this was gut-wrenching. I fear that the one who Aryawwn loves more than any other may already be dead. I think he died months ago… I fear this is not Trestin. There is something wrong with this city. While I would never pick sides in a civil war, I refuse to stand by as innocent people are threatened by black guards, black birds, and the black magics of the Lord of the Undead. I draw that line in the sand. Sydienne and I requested the help of some guards in finding the Kenku’s roost.
We happened upon Phalanx, and found out that Bjorn and Aryawwn have located a Tavern the dinosaurs frequent. With a humorous tale from Bjorn I headed over and staked the place out, I bought Aryawwn some wine. I need to speak with her, but if I am unable, I asked Sydienne to take her to Luther. I have a plan to deal with the birds. I can see this going one of three ways, and one of those ways is likely to get me killed. I went over the plan with the others, only Aryawwn doesn’t know, and I do not want her to know… I’m sorry my love…
~Khuda Hafiz (Gods Preserve You)
Journal Entry Fourteen
Well that did not go to plan… like, not one bit. I lost it… why the hell do I ever try to do anything? Every time I try to fix something, every time I try to help; the damn thing blows up in my face and I’m the bad guy. Fuck that. While waiting for the Kenku, a different sort had come: a man by the name of Edgar Dent, the go between who supplies them with their contracts. He was very steadfast in the “rules”, if you could even call them that, on how the Kenku operate their little gig here in the city. But something came over me. This was a man who supplied these assassins with contracts. This was a man who out of the virtue of association was responsible for an unknown number of murders. This was a man who made his money in the blood of innocent lives. There are those who say that it was going to be done anyway. There are those who believe that those lives did not matter. But, I have had all that I have ever loved taken from me, I cannot sit around when innocent people lose their loved ones over wealth and revenge. We’ve killed Kobolds for far less.
I struck out against the bastard, pinning his hand to the table with one of my daggers. I couldn’t break my gaze at him. I knew he was never going to tell us where the Kenku were… I didn’t care, I wanted this man dead. I don’t care who he is personally, I don’t care if he is a “nice guy”, this man has profited OFF THE DEATHS OF THESE PEOPLE! This is different from someone who crafts a sword; a sword is only as dangerous as the person who wields it. This was a man who had blood on his hands and he couldn’t be punished for it… Now with the contracts I can prove his involvement in the deaths of several of Milo’s citizens. We can turn him over to the local authorities; he’ll spend the rest of his sorry life in prison, if they find him of course. The Kenku are dead… but justice has not been done… yet… or…. Will it ever… once again here I am… alone in my convictions… alone in this world… Lily… Lily…
My comrades and I eventually discovered that there was a basement to the tavern, but it was getting far too late. We all went to bed. Phalanx slept outside, Bjorn and Aryawwn had the master suite, but apparently Bjorn slept on the floor as Aryawwn and the pig had the bed. Aryawwn… she is growing more distant… but it’s fine (it’s not)… no it’s not… Trestin is fine, but I feel that he is not… I worry of how this will affect her… I don’t think she could lose him again. What should I do? If I go now, there will be trouble, but if I stay there will be double.
I was crying again last night. Here I am, trying to do some good, leave this world better than the way I found it, but no matter what I do my plans and hopes backfire. The curse which has stained my flesh will haunt me until my death, I am a monster… I have no way around that. A Tiefling, a race cursed for their betrayals long ago, forever to live in shame and hatred. We are hunted and abused for the sins of Bael Turath, pushed through the ages by the blood of the fiends. We are treated as monsters and the only way to survive is to become one. Lily… Lily, I love you, but all those years ago, I told you that we were not the monsters those boys said we were, I told you we were good at heart. I’m not. I’m weak. I’m scared. I’m alone. This curse is only broken in death. I see the way they stare; I hear the words they say. Everything we do as is judged far more harshly than most others. In order for these people not to consider us cruel, we have to be six times more just. In order not to be considered vile, we have to be six times as kind. In order not to be considered treacherous, we have to be six times as loyal. Lily, it’s hard; it’s neigh impossible to ever live up to such standards and thus so many of us fall. We are struck down so hard, at we feel we must strike back… but in the end it is are kind that are the monsters. In order to survive in society we have to take a hit and not strike back, but in order to survive this world we have to strike first… we lose either way…
I had my own room, well no, not really. Sydienne was there, in her bestial form. I felt really awkward when she climbed up on the bed. She isn’t a pet, she is my comrade. She’s not even a beast, but an elf (half-elf, but you get the point). As weird as it was and as worried the questions were in my head, I felt comfort with her there. Her fur was soft and her body was warm. She licked my face when she saw that I was crying. The uneasiness left my body… I was happy. I’m not alone in this world. I have my friends. Well, I have most of them…
In the morning my spirits were lifted, Sydienne came down the stairs with me, still in fox form. She has been in that state for more than twenty-four hours now. I wonder about her, why she feels more at home as a pet than a person. What happened to you my friend? Maybe she’s just that way, but I sense something dark in her past. She fits right in to our sorry lot; at least Phalanx can go back to his wife. If she does have a shadow in her past then she doesn’t outwardly show it. She is happy and that makes me happy. My father always told me to be happy, no matter what Hells the world can conjure, face them with a gleam in your heart, be strong for those who need it. Nothing else matters if you can bring a smile to someone’s face. I wonder if it is just a Tiefling thing to have flap-jack philosophies or if I’m actually and truly psychotic.
We all were ordering breakfast, mostly Ham as it was the cheapest. Bjorn was helping Aryawwn with her hangover. Phalanx and I were sat at another table, and the Barkeep must have thought I was out of my mind when I pulled up a chair for Syd as he only assumes that she was a mere pet.
The party was all back together now, and we had to find the birds. The other day I had discovered that the Tavern had a basement yet no determinable entryway to it. There was only one door we hadn’t checked, the backdoor. I distracted the barkeep as Sydienne wandered into the back, she came back with a ham and I asked her, “Whatcha’ got there girl?” but this was actually a clever disguise for “what did you see?” at least I hope it was, Sydienne understood and that is all that mattered. We headed back upstairs and hatched a plan to get through the bolted door she found on the otherside. The plan didn’t go as expected as Bjorn just knocked out the barkeep and Phalanx scared a man into the pantry. The party split up to search, the bolted door hiding only a storage room, Bjorn and Phalanx were waking the barkeep to learn where the basement entrance was, I stationed myself at the pantry and talked to the kid. I learned his name was Felix, he was about sixteen or seventeen and this was his first job. He was pretty much shitting his pants as he had no idea on what was going on; he didn’t even know there was a basement. Poor kid, I talked with him to calm him down, I told him about my first job, killing rats in Greymont. After we had learned that the Basement entrance was hidden beneath the storage room, I unlocked the pantry door and followed the party down.
Kenku, there were seven of them, and they weren’t alone. They had a Krenshar with them. Krenshar are a relic of the past. Now found only on distant continents, deep within primeval forests, or in the possession of carnivals and mercenary gangs. I’m not sure where they got this Krenshar. As Kenku they could have easily brought it with them from that lost world in the east. They seem to be some kind of kin to Cats and Hyena, collectively Feliformia. Their lost world quality matched well with the Kenku, making their presence both earthly, yet otherworldly. We killed them all, and I collected the contracts they had from their table. Bjorn went into some strange trance, at first I didn’t realize because he was looking straight at me and said, “Oh, my queen!” I was dumbfounded and in my infinity density said, “Thank You,” in a slightly concerned voice. Then it hit me, he was speaking with Death… well one of the aspects of Death, specifically the Judge: The Raven Queen. We could only hear his side of the conversation, so Phalanx and I decided to get busy. We dismantled the tables and chairs in the basement to make funeral pyres for the Kenku, they may have been no-good assassins, but everyone deserves a proper send out. Phalanx and I left the basement when it was all said and done. Drawing one of Haurvatat’s symbols in the dirt and kneeling before it a gave out a short prayer under my breath, “Healing hands, look after these people, both those unknown to me and those I love. Master of the Wind, light my way, though the sins of my past can never be erased, may my future be bright”. Aryawwn came out of the Tavern shortly after, and I could see it in her eyes… she knew he was alive… I don’t know what will become of her. Please by whatever grace or devil controls her fate, leave her be… do not torment her like this. She deserves none of this; she doesn’t deserve to be toyed with. I know we will get through whatever horror is in store and I’ll fight for my friends and these people till the end, but I fear that she will not make it all the way through, not in one piece. No matter what happens little one, I’m by your side…
~Khuda Hafiz (Gods Preserve You)
Journal Entry Fifteen
Trestin was fine; in fact he was completely oblivious to how the Kenku were able to obtain his scream. I asked if he suffers from night-terrors but neither he nor Aryawwn believe he does. Aryawwn was ecstatic that he was alive and a smile rolled on my face. To see her happy is enough for me. To see them together reminded me of the loves of my past: Vesta, Melanie… women who brought a smile to my face, but I’d rather see happy than be with, and dear Aryawwn is the third. Trestin was able to point us to a possible location the Orcus cult has been hiding and we prepared to set out, but first I wanted to speak with the king. We left Aryawwn and Trestin alone to catch up. I spoke to King Luther, telling him of the fate of the Kenku and of where we will be heading to deal with the Orcus Cult. I told him if we were not back in three days that he should send reinforcements. He was not thrilled with the idea of his only child going down into some unknown dungeon to face necromancers. Bowing to him, on one knee with my sword planted to the ground, I promised him by the grace of the Gods I would bring his daughter back. And with that blessing he let us go; I guess I am now Aryawwn’s unofficial bodyguard. Certainly it would be interesting to be her official bodyguard, I’d like that.
We made our way to an old sewer system which connected to an even older crypt. The crypt had several noblemen entombed, many bearing the symbols of Erathis, which I find as an interesting note, many in Cadrin today worship Pelor who is Erathis’ husband. At the end of the crypt there was a secret door with the symbol of Orcus engraved into it, some dried blood gave the indication that it needs blood to open it. Phalanx, always the scapegoat, took the burden on himself. Bjorn and I hid so that we had an edge in the fight, but we were immediately knocked on our asses by two halberdiers. Aryawwn kicked some serious ass, killing one Halberdier and the Necromancer. Sydienne killed both Iron Guardians, knocking one into the water, I killed the other Halberdier. With the first room down, we had three paths which we could take. Examining the room I came to a shocking revelation. This temple is ancient, from the wear and tear I’d guess thousands of years old, from a time before modern memory. It seems as if it was older than Milo itself. I wonder what divine it had been attributed to… but there is something cold about this place. Something more distant and greater than Orcus ever has been. Something in this temple’s solace is reaping the air…
We will continue soon enough…
~Khuda Hafiz (Gods Preserve You)