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Topics - Johan

In Character Discussions / The After Meeting
January 22, 2017, 04:06:30 PM
The remainder of the Festival passed as it often had: revelry, song, games, reunions, good food, good drink, and good air. Bal-Jhor assumed that many present were duly affected by the message of coming war, as evidenced by the unusually high number of Gnarcheon paying duly promiscuous respect to the Great Cycle. That fire was attended quite actively throughout the night.

As Kossuth began to filter through the thick forest and the Gnarcheon began to filter out from the Grove of Needles - for the most part each heading back towards their homes - Shankaria, Ashe, Kaltya, and the Chankathur gathered for their customary After Meeting. In this august group would be discussed matters that were well beyond the privilege of any other Gnarcheon.

Bal-Jhor would need to speak with Eswarth before he left though. He would probably have to speak with Shankaria as well, and he would also like to have the opportunity to speak with Varshya. Bal-Jhor called his new friend - the one-handed half-orc - to join him a respectful distance from the closely-hudled Chankathur.

"Come, friend." He called to the orc. "It is time that you heard the story of Sharchute." He looked more closely at the half-orc then. "Or perhaps it is time that you rested." He reconsidered. "I can share that story after you've rested, and after I've spoken with my Chosen Brother, when he is done with his meeting." He pointed with his chin back to the center fire where Bareglar could see the great Centaur settling into a seemingly closed meeting with several others.

Bareglar liked the idea of rest. He agreeably settled down near the food fire that Bal-Jhor indicated. It had been quite a night indeed, and Bareglar wondered what exactly he had gotten himself into. Better this than his father's clan though.
In Character Discussions / A Gift of Folly
February 23, 2016, 01:18:25 PM
Sherina Silkenvox – her stage name – was an actress in the Guilded Theater in Rhohannus. She was supremely gifted at her trade, and was strikingly lovely in her waning youth, and while she yet remained single she had many a gentleman caller who vied for her attention at the end of every show, and whose arms she adorned at all the social engagements of that City-State's most affluent district.

The reason, it was widely known, for her continued status as a single woman – so late into her mature years as she was – was because she was, beneath her unparalleled talents as an actress and beside her incomparable soprano tones (not to mention her obvious though fading beauty), utterly vapid.

The intellectual patrons of the Guilded Theater – the well-heeled social elite of Rhohannus – were accustomed to the flighty, capricious persona that was the hallmark of actors and actresses, but Sherina was another level of vacuous altogether.

Except...she wasn't. Not even remotely. In fact, as soon as Cameran had come to the Guilded Theater, he recognized that Sherina was not only not stupid, she was probably one of the smartest people he would ever come to know. The fact that for so many years – over two decades, in fact – she had led the entire elite of the City-State of Rhohannus to believe that she was an empty-headed ninny was testament as much to her acting talents as to her towering mental facilities.

Sherina recognized in Cameran a kindred spirit, apparently, and she spent years teaching him one powerful lesson after another, and the most powerful of them all was that it is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish. (~ Aeschylus).

And profit she did. And she brought Cameran along the way, teaching him the ways of the true actor...the performance, the schemes, the plots, the ploys, the twists and intricacies, and how to protect oneself in the company of what were often little more than human monsters. How to remain essentially anonymous in a City-State teeming with people who prided themselves on assessing and exploiting...owning, if one must state it factually...other people.

Be wiser than other people, if you can, but do not tell them so (~ Lord Chesterfield). This was the boiled-down essence of Sherina's most oft-iterated cautions to Cameran. It was this lesson above all others that Cameran took to heart, as he had taken Sherina's friendship and maternal love.

It was this lesson that Cameran took with him when his father had informed him that Cameran would be journeying to Kurr, to live there with one of Cameran's father's long-time business acquaintances (they weren't truly friends, like them didn't typically have friends, just business acquaintances that one might leverage for the betterment of their own positions), one Friedrick Fitzsimmons.
Character Info / The Line of Jarren Godsmith
July 28, 2014, 06:28:07 PM
In the second era of the Droung'Knaqt Empire, a time of great expansion for the empire, Jarren Godsmith, known as "The Incorruptible", was a General Commander in the Droung'Knaqt army. Jarren was a military genius who exhibited tenacity, tactical ingenuity, and great honor. Many were the battles that he saw and great were the deeds that he did.
It was held as common knowledge during that time that Jarren was descended of such parentage as could trace their blood directly to Moradin himself. Jarren's line earned the clan-name "Godsmith" as theirs was a line whose smiths could craft wondrous items directly from metals that no other smiths could work.
During this time Jarren had been married to a combat medic that had been assigned to his army, and raised a son, Schervick. During the war of The Hundred Warlords he lost his wife. As demanded by honor in that time, when Jarren returned victorious from that campaign (having subdued the Hundred Warlords, exacted tribute and fealty, and brought them into the Droung'Knaqt Empire) he gave his only son into his wife's clan as compensation for losing her. Jarren's wife's name was Charina Fireforge.
Schervick Fireforge was many things: Dutiful Son, Loyal Warrior, Gifted Seer, Ardent of the White Lady, Honored Nicht'Luraw. In the decades that followed his mother's death, Schervick served his father as well as his new clan. Jarren was a man of the hammer and shield though, and did not hold with Schervick's gifts of vision or Arcana and the two, while friendly, did not build a familial relationship.
Nearly 100 years later, a growing empire to the south - the DrachkParjun - declared war on the Droung'Knaqt. Jarren was commissioned to put the DrackParjun down. Schervick came to Jarren and beseeched his father to let another have this glory. Schervick explained that he had a vision: if Jarren put the DrachkParjun down, the Droung'Knaqt Empire would fall, and the Godsmith clan (at that point Jarren was the only Godsmith in existence) would be stricken from the face of the earth.
Jarren was enraged at his son's request; he accused Schervick not only of trying to unman Jarren and make a coward of him, but also of trying to steal Jarren's glory and by doing so jeopardizing the Droung'Knaqt empire. Jarren thrashed the young seer near to death, then left to war in what turned out to be a bloody 70-year-long campaign.
Jarren put down the DrachkParjun, but in the doing he fell in love with the Princess Indalia Shieldstone, the only child of DrachkParjun's royal family. He claimed her as his war prize, and after a time he announced his intention to marry her.

Schervick once again approached Jarren; it was the first time in over 80 years that the two had spoken. Schervick renewed his warning to Jarren as the White Lady had shown him: Indalia Shieldstone was already dead, and Jarren and all his children but one would follow. That one, should he be born, would bring about the end of the clan of Godsmith, destroy the Droung'Knaqt empire, and make the Gods weep. Schervick was ready for Jarren's attack, and left his father alone with his anger.
Jarren and Indalia had many children over the next decades while Schervick shared his visions among the Kharan'Jhul. But never could any evidence be brought to bear; no other seer had seen what Schervick had. The removal of Jarren's wife would not be met with approval, and among the Kharan'Jhul it was held that doing so would bring the Droung'Knaqt to their knees as readily as NOT doing so. And, as doing nothing afforded the Kharan'Jhul time to perhaps plan, it was decided to do nothing but watch, and protect who we could.
As is the case in any civilization, there came a time when a plague descended upon the Droung'Knaqt. In this particular plague the entire Godsmith family was wiped out while their 20th child was only a few years old. Some of Schervick's visions, at last, had come to pass. Many looked to Schervick as the lone survivor of the clan of Godsmith, but every seer in the Kharan'Jhul said no: Schervick had ceased to be Godsmith on the day when he entered the Fireforge clan. One, then, survived. And all the seers agreed: that one would be the vulture that gorged upon the carcass of the Droung'Knaqt Empire.
5 decades passed, and a new name entered the Droung'Knaqt Empire: Vorntoque Dramwall. Vorntoque and his wife came out of the hinterlands of what had at one time been the DrachkParjun Empire. It is believed that he was raised in the Wretched Swamps.
His wife, it is said, was odd to the extreme: intelligent, and elegant in company but frighteningly dark in solitude. She eschewed the public eye as much as she could, and cloistered herself indoors, claiming to suffer from extreme photosensitivity. She often made mention of things that happened so long ago that only the most learned of scholars might know them. It is said that she had a taste for blood, and sometimes dined on hapless citizens of the empire...especially the elves.
In the Empire, Vorntoque was a soldier in the Droung'Knaqt armies when he joined the Tareen'Phol; he was a gifted dispatcher.
Vorntoque grew in prominence within the Tareen'Phol and in the political arena of the Droung'Knaqt societal circles, although it was frequently whispered that his wife was more likely the brain behind his standing. Over the course of but a few decades, he had grown from a virtual nobody to a powerful force in the Droung'Knaqt senate.
Then the blight, which left him the only survivor of the senate. Vorntoque proclaimed himself emperor, and there were none to challenge him.
It is written in the library of the Marin'Thar that Vorntoque had only a few children with his odd wife, and only one survived: a lad named Kervan. Before that son had come of age, his parents plotted his death, as they did not deem him worthy of their bloodline. The child, Kervan, had been warned by Schervick Firforge, and understood their intentions. He fled the Droung'Knaqt Empire, never to be seen again. Kervan begat children that eventually led to a number of dwarven clans, notably:
Ironaxe (a great warrior clan far to the north-east), Granitesoul (long extinct clan of ill repute), Stoutspear (plains-dwellers to the west) and the Stonehammers of Derkenwold.
Game Log / Session 27 - Captain Tindarin
February 11, 2014, 03:46:59 PM
Play Date: Unknown, 2013

Players: Huntmaster Jarmok (Conlon the Elder), & Darian Firefist (Buccella the characterless)

Qwydeon Albyr Basque VY. 237 (June 5)

In the morning, Sayer got all craven on us and went back on the boat. He claimed that he was looking for "fire wood".

Jarmok and Darian forged a path in-land to approach Ivy Berry from the North. Hopefully, in the daylight, the resident Shadow Riders might be able to be overtaken. Guile, tact, and no doubt bravery will be needed as well.

The companions came upon a farmland, overlooked by a watch tower. Jarmok snuck up into the fields and got within a few feet of one of the guards watching over the fields. The guard was clearly a Shadow Rider. Not wanting to start a ruckus that might be overseen from the watch tower, Jarmok crept away from the field guard. He came upon a field worker who told him that he needed to get out...the fields are closely watched from the tower in addition to guards in the fields themselves (nothing we didn't already know by then). She did state that the tower had a few Kurr guards in addition to Shadow Rider guards. They needed Kurr to send troops.

Darian and Jarmok decided to attempt to take the tower, and thus boldly walked up to the tower's gate.

The two were stopped by a Shadow Rider guard, and they told him that they were looking for Captain Tandrin...they had news from Kurr. The guard was suspicious, but he was a quick kill too. The duo pressed into the tower. However, it did start a sequence of combat that was hard-fought...nearly to the loss.

At the end of it, two shadewolves were dead, numerous Shadow Riders were dead, all of the Kurr guards that were resident in the tower were also dead, and Jarmok & Darian had captured Captain Tandrin (a female Shadow Rider captain who was extremely tough to best). At first sight, Captain Tandrin became affectionately known as "Captain big tits". I'm not sure why! :)

The companions interrogated Tandrin, and learned the following (if it be trustworthy):

    In the boathouse, there are supplies & bodies
    An "associate" is supposed to animate the bodies
    There shouldn't be any other people there
    There are 3 Shadow Riders in the fields
    Tandrin was born a Shadow Rider - "Not all of us take the vow of Umbrage"
    The goal is the conquest of Kurr
    All of the bodies that are set for animation are out of Kurr
    When asked whether there were other Shadow Rider cells, she said "most assuredly", though for the protection of the overall Empire, she did not know where they might be
    The population of the tower would have been 3 Kurr guards (all now dead), 4 Shadow Riders (3 bodies at this point accounted for)

In the tower Darian found quite a bit of correspondence between Tandrin and Fitzsimmons. These correspondences indicate that the Ivy Berry cell has been in operation for about a month-and-a-half.

Also, they learned that Fitzsimmons' superior was the same as Tandrin's. With fire, she uttered a name: Nightstar.

Believing that they had gotten as much as they could from Tandrin, they searched the remainder of the tower, finding in a war room on the second story the last Shadow Rider...dead.
Game Log / Session 26 - Like Shooting Dwarves in a Barrel
February 11, 2014, 03:39:17 PM
Play Date: October 26, 2013
Players: Councilor Sayer (Phin of the Vision), Huntmaster Jarmok (Johan the Elder), & Darian Firefist (Chassic the characterless)

Qwydeon Albyr Syncath VY. 237 (June 3)

After the evidence of Fitzsimmon's treason was sealed and delivered, Archduke Corwynn had an assignment for the companions:

Search Markel's warehouse (from where Argen McKenzie's family was rescued). Corwynn Would like to know what's being trafficked into and out of Kurr. Need an inventory. Also, we need to try to find out where these shipments are coming from and / or going to.

Note: Markell's is a distinguished family and upstanding citizens of Kurr (hopefully). Erikarn Markell is the son of the owner, and he accompanies the trio (and the detachment of guards put at their disposal) to the warehouse.

In the basement of the warehouse, where the fight on the night before occurred, the group proceeded to inventory the barrels that were there.

Barrel 1: body of a dead male dwarf (stabbed in the back of the head, dock laborer).
Barrel 2: body of a dead male elf (Fop, dead ~1 week, stabbed in chest)

In all 18 bodies are found. The demographics are:
    Mid- & Lower-class
    Male & female
    All races
    All dead within the last week
    All stabbed...nice, clean stab wounds from sharp blades...wounds expertly placed

There are crates here too, and they contain foodstuffs and weapons.
The weapons are smithed by many different smiths, from all over the country.

Essentially, there seems to be nothing that ties these victims together, and there's also nothing to point to a specific smithy that might be supplying the SR cause.

The companions decide to question Jeeza MacKenzie, who had been captive there for some time...she might have some insight.

    Crates & barrels came in and out constantly
    She heard Ivy Berry mentioned more than once (Ivy Berry is a fishing & farming community on the far side of Lake Vallensun)
    The people working in this subterranean dock weren't "normal". They had dusky skin.

Looks like a trip to Ivy Berry will be in order. A man called Dorith is Magistrate of that community.

FIRST: Let us wait to see who shows up here tonight.

Sometime between sun-down and midnight, a small dingy pulls into the dock. The dingy is occupied by two men: one dark-cloaked human, and one scale-clad human.

The companions set an ambush, and the dark-cloaked man is killed. The scale-clad man is eventually captured, as he found himself swimming in scale!

The scale-clad fellow spoke pretty readily (it's amazing how the threat of fire loosens a coward's tongue!!) We learned as follows:

    The boat is from Ivy Berry (it is the Ivy Berry Annie); it is here for a pick-up, and is due back before dawn
    The boaters identify the destination dock by the color of the lanterns on them (doesn't know if it's the same technique as docks in other places) - we later took care to look at the lantern on this is a very normal-looking lantern with green glass. Along the docks, lanterns might have any of a number of different colors of glass...more than one are green
    The sun hurts the Shadow Riders; They can't move normally
    After pick-ups, deliveries are made to Ivy Berry; Boats are guided into the community by a light that only Shadow Riders can see.
Sayer then issued a task for the Kurr guard: Take a small boat under the docks. We would like to know how many of these docks have what we have come to call "under-docks".

It is bed now, and on the morrow: Ivy Berry.

Qwydeon Albyr Arkus VY. 237 (June 4)

With Sayer's accompaniment, we embarked upon a very comfortable boat to Ivy Berry.

Landing on the docks of Ivy Berry, we were approached by a haggard-looking fellow (haggard, although he yet bore the posture of faded authority). He introduced himself as Dorth - he is Magistrate of Ivy Berry. Dorith was quite nervous, and clearly frightened. He begged the companions to leave, for the sake of the village. With some uneasiness, we agree to leave. Dorith then whispers, "They are here."

"How many?" We asked quietly.
"Less than the boathouse."

With this information, we took again to the water. Once out of sight, we took the boat north with the intent to disembark and make our way via land, circling back into Ivy Berry.

We camped that night, listening to Shade Wolves calling each other.
Game Log / Interlude 3 - Elves on the Run
December 27, 2013, 09:18:04 AM
The advisor watched the receding dwarf ambassadors for a long while. Now, they were all but tiny specks in the distance. "The dwarves will not help us, despite what they say." He stated.

"I know. The Stonehammers were ever a duplicitous lot, but ever since the younger one died..." She trailed off, her thoughts taking too many directions. "This 'ambassador' that Stonehammer sent fairly stank of ogre and orc."

"Something isn't right in Derkenwold." Finished the advisor.

"Ah-norya." Agreed the young principal. "And we're no match for these gargun that rain death upon Ahmdelarden."

"These are not normal gargun." The advisor suggested. "Too...organized. Too...intelligent."


"How fares Barranden, ye think?"

"Better than we." She answered. "They are not so close to the mountains, so the gargun can't reach them quite as readily. Even with Derkenwold's help."

"My grandfather would have called upon the Kharan'Juhl." Mused the advisor. "A single one of them could be enough to throw back the tide."

"The Kharan'Juhl are long dead and dust." Replied the principal tartly. "We are on our own today...but to do what, exactly?" A lonely tear rolled down the elf woman's cheeck as she surveyed the make-shift hospital that her home had become.
Game Log / Session 25b - Traitors Betrayed
July 08, 2013, 01:26:10 PM
Play Date: June 28, 2013
Players: Phin (Sayer) and Johan (Jarmok)

Qwydeon Albyr Fehy VY. 237 (June 2)

Arrests were made, and interrogation rooms were put at Sayer's disposal.

Room 1: Argen McKenzie – Royal Courier Master
Room 2: Sargent Farkus – Captain of the guard in Kurr (although how a Sargent is a Captain, I don't know...)
Room 3: Friedrick Fitzsimmons – Headmaster to the Royal Scribes in Kurr
Room 4: a revolving cast, including Sabine (Royal Herald), Mila (Royal Herald), Davis Allister (15 year-old Courrier)

Of these sets of people, Sayer and Jarmok question first Argen McKenzie, whose family has now been rescued, and who is also a loyal Kurr citizen (unlike Farkus). We expected that he would be most helpful, and he did not disappoint.

From Argen we learned:

Farkus is the principal player in Argen's coercion. He approached Argen just over a month ago, and suggested that Argen re-route certain mail that would come to him from a certain Herald (Mila). Argen's first response was one of resistance, but Farkus abducted Argen's family, and on threat of their life Argen complied.

There is nothing else that Argen knows.

From Davis we learned:

Davis presented as a very nervous kid. He indicated that Farkus is the principal player in Davis' involvement. Farkus paid Davis a gold to watch Argen to see what he was doing when he received letters from Mila. Davis would follow Argen, and tell Farkus what was going on (which was nothing of note, really). Farkus paid well, and promised protection. Davis just wanted to go home to mommy.

With these things known, we went to question Friedrick Fitzsimmons:

Fitzsimmons claimed to be completely at a loss about how any of the mis-directions took place. It must, says he, have been Mila. When questioned about how he decided upon which Herald would deliver which letters, he claimed that it was random. He hired her out of the goodness of his heart, to help family (who had been after him for some time to help her out of the slums where she was apparently working).

We covered our mouths and coughed...*bullshit*...but we had no proof.

We went to talk to Farkus:

The past-Sargent Farkus was completely chained up in his little room, with a yoke behind his neck, and his arms and feet chained to this yoke. He was not going anywhere.

When asked what he knew about Friedrick Fitzsimmons, Farkus claimed to know nothing.

When asked about his role with regards to the Threshold Councilors, he stated that he delivered the councilors to Threshold, and that's it. He was actually pretty smarmy about it, too.

It was clear that he was more than happy to maintain his innocence and not give up his allies.

Jarmok took two shadewolf claws from out of his bags. These particular claws (long, and black as they were) he had recovered from the ambush site. These he put on the table, and said that he had recovered them from the ambush site. A tinge of fear entered Farkus' eyes. Jarmok then told Farkus that Jarmok KNEW that Farkus was there, up on the hill, while the ambush was going on. Farkus began to was clear that he knew that there was evidence that would send him to his death.

Farkus then wanted to know what might he be awarded if he chose to cooperate. Sayer told him that only Arch-Duke Corwynn could determine that, but that Farkus would most likely hang for his treason.

We then intimated that it might be that they could instead release him, along with the rumor that Farkus was now aiding the Arch-Duke, and in this way Farkus might instead be killed by Shadow Riders.

Farkus remained defiant; he didn't appreciate the difference between dying at the hands of the government of Kurr or dying at the hands of shadow riders. Jarmok planted more than one seed about what death by shadow rider looked like. Farkus listened.

Sayer and Jarmok left Farkus to think about what he'd like his death to look like.

We then summoned Herald Mila.

Mila told us a few pieces of the puzzle, which we had surmised, but for which we needed to be sure. Namely:

Fitzsimmons hired her as an apprentice scribe

She delivered a total of four letters to Argen (that's the number that went missing, and she was quite surprised that Fitzsimmons summoned her for that purpose)

There really isn't enough work to warrant both Sabine and Mila for the duties.

We then went back to Farkus, to see how he felt his stew was being cooked.

Farkus seemed to be on the verge of wetting his pants now, and he crumbled. In fact, we could barely get him to stop talking!

Fitzsimmons is the leader of the Kurr traitors (and his reach is *very* long)

Fitzsimmons recruited Farkus about 8 or 9 months ago

Farkus doesn't know any other names of people involved in these plots (other than the one soldier who we took prisoner from the warehouse: Jerret O'Kenney

In response to where we might find more shadow rider activity in Kurr, Farkus told us to look along the lake, in sewers, on the lookout for shadows on roofs of buildings

Fitzsimmons arranged the ambush of the priests and councilors

Farkus was met at the ambush site by Vervishkuk (though Farkus did not know the creature's name).

Farkus brought no soldiers back from the ambush site...they all died there.

With this, we again visited Fitzsommons, but he's still claiming to be a devout man of the City State of Kurr. Farkus, Fitzsimmons tells us, is a lying so-and-so.

Sayer reported these findings to Arch-Duke Corwynn, and then we departed to Friedrick Fitzsommons' house in the city. We brought two firbolgs, a handful of soldiers, and some meat (Jarmok was hungry...all this talking works up a man's appetite).

At Fitzsimmons' house we found two things of interest:
A scroll that bears runic writings in the Dark Speech language (this is damning all by itself)
A secret sub-floor compartment that contained numerous correspondences with shadow rider cells in cities throughout the realm. These communications also implicated many other Scribe Headmasters in the various cities of the west.

Fitzie is officially sealed in the proverbial gibbet.

We turned these bits of evidence over to Corwynn, and then went to confront Fitzsimmons again.

Although he realized that his game had come to an end, he was unrepentant, and remained aloof.
He informed Sayer that his own reach was much longer than Sayer's was, though he did congratulate Sayer on a game well played. His parting words to Sayer were: "You will have no idea when the end will come. The light will simply go out."

When we at last re-joined Corwynn, the Arch-Duke was in close and quiet conversation with a cloaked individual. Corwynn invited Sayer into the conversation. The cloaked figure turned out to be an elder elf, who Corwynn addressed by the honorific "Uncle" and named him "Levin the Hawk"!

General Info / Chasm
June 27, 2013, 06:50:27 PM
A map of the chasm

Game Log / Session 25: On the Trail of Traitors
June 27, 2013, 11:59:37 AM
[Reference to Session 14 Part 2]
[Reference to ICD "Following the Trail]

Play Date: March 8, 2013

Players: Phin (Sayer) and Johan (Jarmok)

Duthash Gyth Basque VY. 237 (May 29)

Jarmok followed the Arch-Duke Corwynn Vallensun into Sayer's spacious rooms. The return trip to Kurr was exhilarating at the start, but knowing that the eventual end of it was in the city made Jarmok less than happy to be making it.

Still, he needed to be in Kurr just now, and the sooner they could get this investigation underway (and over with), the sooner the company would be back to Threshold.

The charge for the two men: track down the traitors who abetted Sargent Farkus in handing the priests and councilors to the Shadow Riders. But leave Farkus alone; Corwynn would deal with him.

Question: how do letters get from Corwynn to Sayer (when they do, that is)?

    Corwynn dictates letters to the Herald Sabine (a long-time presence in the court, and friend to Sayer)
    Sabine hands the written letters to the Royal Scribes. The letters that had been missing, but have since been found, were transcribed by three different scribes: Dacodah, Calico, and two letters by a scribe named Peitor.
    Transcribed letters are sealed by the Headmaster (Friedrick Fitzsimmons), and delivered to the Royal Couriers for delivery to their final destination
o   The seals on royal communications are all the same; there is no way that these particular letters would have been picked out from the other royal communications based upon the seal

The Royal Courier Master is a fellow named Argen McKenzie.

Sabine confirmed that there were four letters that had been sent to Sayer; all of these have been recovered.

Sayer begins the investigation in the Royal Military Reports – it would be wise to know what Sargent Farkus' reports stated. Sayer requested all Military Reports submitted since May 3rd to ensure that: 1) We got the reports that we were actually looking for, and 2) it would remain inobvious which specific reports were being sought. It is believed that Sargent Farkus' report would have been submitted between May 12 and May 15

    Ambush: May 8
    Convoy should have arrived in Threshold on May 9th
    Therefore, Convoy would have left Kurr on May 5th, or thereabouts.
    Soldiers should have returned to Kurr on May 11th, or thereabouts (the soldiers, devoid of the encumbrance of the priests and councilors, should have been able to travel somewhat faster).

The balance of this day was spent by Sayer sorting through the Military reports, though nothing of interest was gleaned from them.

Farkus' report states:
    No specific soldiers' names from the escort, only that he grabbed 20 men, and upon their return these 20 men were left at Kelvin's Bridge (a day south of Kurr, as the road enters the Great Forest).
    Priests and councilors were delivered to Threshold safely

Return Reports

Duthash Gyth Aryor VY. 237 (May 30):

Today, Sayer decides, we shall visit the Courier Master, and start to track down Farkus' known friends and allies.

Nothing of import was learned at the Courier's Post, though two suspicious things did transpire:

The Courier Master (Argen McKenzie) got a bit nervous at the mention of Threshold.

As Sayer and Jarmok took their leave of the Courier's Power, the departing companions were eyed suspiciously by a young courier.

The two spoke with Corwynn's Firbolg guards (recently met by Jarmok):
None of the four (Mirak, Bjornin, Varhuk, and Sven...all of the clan Azgaard) know much about Farkus. The Sargent keeps a small circle of associates, but is frequently seen with a younger courier...a lad named "Davis". By the description of Davis, this seems to be the courier who eyed Sayer and Jarmok earlier.

Sayer and Jarmok head for Kelvin's Bridge (a small town on the edge of The Great Forest) by way of carriage. Perhaps some answers will be found there.

Dinner finds us staying at an inn called the Pearl Pheasant, and dining with councilman Gabriel McGarrit. Gabriel tells us that he recalls the contingent passing through, en-route to Threshold, but he knows nothing of the returning soldiers.

Session 25a: Further Down the Trail of Traitors
Play Date: March 22, 2013
Players: Phin (Sayer) and Johan (Jarmok)

Qwydeon Albyr Voldyn (June 1):

Sayer and Jarmok hatch a plan: From Kelvin's Bridge, they will send a letter from Sayer to the Arch Duke. If any foulplay should happen from Kelvin's Bridge, we may well be able to find who intercepted and misdirected the letters. Of note in this plan is that there is but one Courier Stop between Kelvin's Bridge and Threshold, that being Xuad'Tarn and there is only one courier who runs between Xuad'Tarn and Threshold (Nodgrin). Thus, messages must have been mis-directed no later than Kelvin's Bridge.

Visit the Courier's Master in Kelvin's Bridge – a man named Thomas Madrin.
Thomas set to his task directly, and Sayer's letter seems to be summarily under way. No apparent issues here.

From here the companions split up for a bit:
Sayer sets back to Kurr in his carriage.
Jarmok set to the forest to see if he can find a rendezvous point that a person might meet with Shadow Riders at. The idea being that if letters are misdirected just before getting to Kelvin's Bridge, the traitor would want to meet with Shadow Riders, who would presumably be out in the rolling plains. A site along the forest's edge would be needed.

No luck here either.

Jamok catches up to Sayer and they proceed back to Kurr.

About 1 hand south of Kurr, Jarmok espies a little-used trail that makes the hair on the back of his neck stand up. This trail appears to have been last used about two weeks ago...which happens to be when the last communication from the Arch-Duke to Sayer would have been misdirected.

Follow the trail about a mile to a trampled clearing that has all the ear-marks of a traitor's rendezvous point: torch sconce in a tree, tracks entering the clearing from multiple directions, and Shadewolf tracks!

This appears to be our point of misdirection.

Sayer heads into Kurr to bait a hook, while Jarmok remains hidden in the trees near the meeting point.

Sayer dictates a letter of urgency to be sent to Julius Hawkhaven in Threshold. The communication indicates that we have two priests to return to Threshold with the members of the Protectorate: one Darion of Kossuth (a Flame Dancer), and one Marken Vallensun of Paladine (the Arch-Duke Corwynn's own nephew). The letter is dictated, and delivered to the scribes...then, we wait.

Near mid-night Jarmok spies a man leading a horse towards the meeting spot. The man bears a torch, and as he leads an aged stallion to the clearing, Jarmok can see that the man himself is middle-aged.

Jarmok shoots the man in the leg before he can get to the clearing.

Jarmok quickly extinguishes the torch and takes the man into custody, forcing him to walk on a punctured leg back to Kurr.

Jarmok hands the man over to the Firbolgs, indicating that Sayer will want to be shortly interrogating him.

Qwydeon Albyr Fehy (June 2) – the wee hours:

Sayer is found in a room with the man that Jarmok caught: it is Argen McKenzie – the Courier Master! Sayer is smooth, and works Argen with a combination of diplomacy and intimidation and we find:

    Sargent Farkus is forcing Argus to participate in this treason – Farkus and his allies are apparently holding Argus' family against Argen's cooperation.
    The mis-direction of these communications starts with Fitzsimmons
    Revisit (in great detail) the Royal Communications chain of events:
    Typical flow of Royal Communications:
o   Arch-Duke dictates to Sabine
o   Sabine passes letters to the Royal Scribes
o   Royal Scribes transcribe letters, and pass them along to the Headmaster (Friedrick Fitzsimmons).
o   Fitzsimmons seals letters, and his assistant, Portia, delivers them to Royal Palace Courier Durgin.
o   Durgin brings them to the Royal Couriers for delivery throughout the realm.

Argen tells that in the case of "communications of special interest", this chain of events was not followed!! In recent months, Fitzsimmons was delivering these communications to a page named Mila to be delivered to one Argen.

Argen's task was to bring whatever letters he had received to the clearing, and place a torch in the sconce and wait for people to show up to receive them. He is aware that he is delivering letters to Shadow Riders...he says that Shadow Riders are in the city even now.

Argen says that his family is being kept on the lake front, in a warehouse of Markel's Holdings & Deliveries (Markels are a wealthy trade / shipping family).

As the sun rises, Sayer and Jarmok are updating the Arch-Duke as to their findings.

Question Mila – she seems to be a pawn of Fitzsimmons, who is a cousin of hers, though she bears him no love.

Today's task is to rescue Argen's family. For this, Arch-Duke Corwynn introduces us to Darian the Flame Dancer. Darian will help us in this endeavor.

The rescue goes well. The three companions are able to infiltrate the warehouse, finding a handful of Shadow Riders on duty there as well as a few City Guards.

In all, with some minor injury to the Companions, the Shadow Riders are all killed, one City Guard is captured alive, a smuggling operation is discovered, and the McKenzie family is rescued.

Not bad for a day's work!
Game Log / Session 27a - Return to the Garachi
June 23, 2013, 09:21:04 AM
This is what I found in my e-mail for notes on the "next session"..."next" meaning "after Session 27":

There is at least one other session out there somewhere, since there is consensus that the Companions are at the chasm with four Garachi in tow for a look-see at their prospective new home.

I'll get around to a rough re-cap / "State of the Union" to put us all on the same page.

Note apparently taken by Matt:

Last night's session was pretty straight forward...

- Warm mid june day.

- Belwar, having just left Trillomore's Apartments, swings over to the bar, has a beer, and then goes to ask for a blessing at the temple. He is very uncomfortable, but goes through

the motions as he's seen Zurn do.

- Some refresher text: The keep is a lot busier than it used to be. Lots of people, lots of noise. Lots of ("tons of") Paladins and priests of Elohnna.

- The party comes up upon a pile or big rocks. Big pile, about as tall as Belwar. Mirri moves the top three layers of rocks. Belwar realizes it looks like the ettins are getting

ready to mount an attack on the temple. This is a pile of projectiles.

- Belwar asks Mirri to go look for other such piles in the perimeter. There iss one other.

- Mirri rolls a few spot checks, but seems to have failed them. Comes back and reports.

- Belwar ponders what to do. Blow the spell, talk to the Mants? tell then about trap?

- The group decides to hide and wait for the badies. Belwar rolls a bunch of awesome numbers. (himo did too, if you can imagine that.)

- GM Clarification: Technically only HALF the group hides. Mirri and zurn can't get out of each opther's ways.

- Eventually, the bad guys come in. They come all from seemingly  the same location, and start to split into two groups. The group decides to try to keep them all together, so they

don't have to deal with any of them throwing rocks. The good guys move to come in on the eastern side of the group, and Himo casts dancing lights, on the far side of both groups.

The two groups gather a little and boggle at the spell. We attack.

- Belwar runs in, throws an axe. Miss.

- Belwar gets hit by a gnoll, ker-thunks belwar, and he takes no damage. Four or five surround Belwar

- Mirri rushes in with her new spear. Attacks a big one. AC-14, rolled 18-modified 27. No crit (only nat 20). 14 points of damage. Mirri engages the bad guy.

- Zurn casts "prayer".

- Himo launches a magic missle, shoots 2 missiles, kills an orc.

- Belwar hacks an orc for a kill, then a gnoll, who also dies, does 8 damage to a third gnoll, who doesn't die, and runs away.

- Mirri is attacked. She's ac 15. hill giant who was just stabbinated, screams, shakes the forest, golfs mirri for 14 points of damage! OW! He's pleased.

Belwar gets an attack of opportunity on the Gnoll who is turning to run.

Himo is missed, and then hit by an arrow for 3 points.

- Belwar is being attacked by 3 gnolls, but they can't hit me. (attack rolls of 1 and two 2s).

- zurn is missed.

- Mirri launches. Rolls a 20-something. Hits. Does 9 damage (on a roll of 2).

- Zurn: a swing and a miss.

- Himo's up. He attacks the guy who shot him with a magic missile. 11 points of damage. Kills.

- Belwar is missed a few more times.

- Mirri is whacked for another 13.

- HUGE rock whizes by Mirri and bounces away.

- Zurn does a few points of damage to something.

- Himo casts a couple of magic missles, kills something.

- Belwar kills the Gnoll from last time, then hits another prettyu good, but doens't kill it.

- Belwar gets hit, but doesn't take damage.

- Mirri get hit for 18, and then 14... by a rock.

- Orc misses Zurn by a single attack point.

- Mirri enrages! attacks the hill giantish thing. Hits... does 16 points of damage. It dies!

- Zurn hits. does 10 points of damage. kills his thing.

- Homo's turn. he casts mirror image, and now there are a bunch.

- Belwar downs the two remaining foes on him, and runs 20' to close in on the rock thrower. That one is still 70' away.

- Hill giant throws at Mirri. Hit for 14. And then turns and runs.

- There is a hill giant, two orcs and a gnoll, running away. A raging Mirri Gives chase.

- Zurn casts hold person on the giant. Success!

- Himo runs in chase

- Belwar chases.

- Mirri attacks. rolls 16, hits, does 12.

- Hill giant breaks free and swings at Mirri! And misses.

- Mirri gets an attack of op. Hits, does 15 damage.

- Zurn casts Searing Light. touch attack AC 9. Hits. Does 2d8 damage for a total of 12. It screams, and continues to gime away.

- Himo finishes him off with a magic missle.

- The group decides to let the few orcs escape.

- Mirri is the focus of Zurn's healy lovin. Gains 27 points after the healing event.

- Experience is doled out. 1025 XP a piece.
Qwydeon Albyr SYNCATH VY 237 (June 3rd)

No matter from what direction one enters, the vast forest is dense with deciduous and conifers. It is a healthy forest that stretches from the edge of the Tortured Lands, skirting the Wasteland of Archea, to roll to the northern sea and west all the way to the Dale of Wolves, stopping within a score of leagues of the Ghoul Swamp in the north.

This vast tract of unnamed wilderness is home to the Dale Gnomes, the Wildlanders, the City State of Kurr, the Citadel of Gholan, and uncountable tribes of various gargun. It holds the memories of scores of ancient peoples and conflicts. It further supports outlaying lands such as Rhohannus and D'Flewn, and across Feather Gap is the imposing Fortress of Durhain, which sits upon the waters of the northern sea, halfway between Rhohannus and New Jarla.

Although many believe that the venerable forest, having been home to so many for eons, is a well known geography, she holds secrets still from the masses.

One of these secrets is deep within the thickest part of the forest, in an area where great sycamores and sequoias squeeze in close to giant cypress and enormous pines as if to better enjoy each other's company.

This part of the mighty forest is under a perpetual cloud; it rains daily here, often in such a deluge the likes of which would scatter lesser trees. But these giants drink greedily of the rain waters, and if man could penetrate this place, he would see that the ground is always dry, even while the rain yet falls. But man cannot penetrate here; this primal place has many defenses against the intrusion of man, from the dense trees themselves, many of whom are sentient and some of whom are apt to walk about, to a thick, thorny undergrowth, and the land herself, which is never calm and even, but seems to have birthed this place in a fit of upheaval.

Scree-strewn hills jut up abruptly and fall away just as suddenly leaving broad chasms to be crossed. Sharp, rocky teeth wait at the bottom of these chasms to chew any so unfortunate as to fall from the few spans of height...sufficient to kill anyone foolish enough to seek entry. And there are the magics that in subtle ways turn away the particularly obstinate.

If the rains were to relent, and the winds abate, a crow could fly over this denser-than-dense part of the northern wood in less time than it takes for Kossuth to mount the sky. Such an opportunity rarely presents itself to any crow, but at times the sun shines down upon the canopy of trees managing to barely penetrate unto the forest floor.

When these crows traverse this inhospitable wood, they might espy near its center a small mote of grassy meadow, half a score acres at most. At the center of these few acres is a splendid ring of resilient soft-needled white pine. These pleasant pine trees sit in a perfect circle that is about a bow-shot in diameter, and have sat thus since before humans entered the greater forest. Their soft needles have over the centuries carpeted the little circle across which that they stare at each other, and no sentient foot has ever trod upon them without Mahiya's blessing, for it is only such as these as can navigate the uninviting wood that surrounds this place, and it is only such as these that the wood knows, and allows entry.

This is the Grove of Needles, and on this day every year meets the council of Gnarcheon to plot the north woods' annual celebration of Long Summer's Day.
General Info / Ehlonna's Forest
January 20, 2013, 08:23:39 PM
Trying this again...

In Character Discussions / To the Vallenbrush
September 02, 2012, 02:34:00 PM
Duthash Gyth Arkus VY. 237 (May 28)

"Well, then," Shankaria said, "let us take to the air and be on our way." Her little form blurred and shifted until a small brown-and-white sparrow hopped into the air and fluttered off northwesterly, twittering an uplifting song that bespoke Shankaria's obvious love of her life.

Ashe reveled in being out of familiar territory. He didn't quite know what to expect and for him there was comfort there. He was embarking on a new aspect of Mahiya that he had not yet seen and there was excitement in that! He followed her lead and shifted to the same animal form as she.

She flew low among the trees as they went erratically along through the forest while the trees became larger, thicker, and denser. After about a hand of this travel, Ashe noted that the forest had become more coniferous. The needled branches of the evergreens reached out for each other, as though they craved to hold hands, knitting together in such a tight mesh that no animal larger than a small bird could navigate through them; so tight that it arrested the very winds and the air was heavy and stagnant.

Beneath it all the ground was hidden, underpinned with a low-laying thorny and knotted bramble, and above, the early afternoon sky was lost to their sight. Time seemed to not move in this thick forest.

Had Ashe been less experienced with the forest and its veil he would have been completely lost. The thickness of the wood was remarkable, inspirational, and altogether mysterious. It was a deep and primal forest that Ashe knew could have at one time, and may be still, been a birthplace of fey folk...the wee folk as Ashe called them. The age of the forest stretched back probably beyond the memory of most.

Shankaria flitted in a seemingly random manner, weaving through the network of boughs while Ashe trailed along directly behind. As often as not, they were forced to hop from one branch to another as they made their way forward. Shankaria didn't stop her joyful tune, however.

Ashe could detect that they were gradually making their way upward towards the sky, although rather suddenly he found that they were also settling onto the mossy ground as well. Shankaria hopped along a moment and then disappeared inside a fold in the trunk of one of the mighty trees. The sparrow disappeared and was replaced by a beautiful though tiny pygmy shrew.

This animal would be no larger than Ashe's thumbnail, were he to take his human form.

Looking about, Ashe realized that in this place, even above ground, he would not be able to take his human form, as the tangle of low-hanging branches, roots, and underbrush would not afford him the space that he would need. As a human, he would be a prisoner to the trees and brush.

Ashe's eagerness was almost too much for him to bear! He wanted to see the Vallenbrush but knew that patience was required. 'Mahiya is never impatient yet everything is done' his father would tell him when he was a boy. For many years that statement flummoxed Ashe. He felt that if nature was always changing then how could it ever be done? The answer was in the question he came to realize. Once he came to accept that, so much more opened up for him...just as it would open up for him now. He too shifted into the tiny shrew and diligently followed.

Together they descended through the trunk of the tree and down into the soil. Shankaria's sharp, tiny claws moved the soil at a surprising rate, and Ashe followed along, moving the soil that she had moved only a moment ahead of him.
"Not long now, revered brother, and we shall enter into a small subterranean rivulet." Shankaria's voice entered Ashe's mind. "The roots of these trees delve down into it for their water, and we will have to swim among those roots and under the mount that we have approached. We shall assume the form of a small fish...I recommend the White Dama...and we shall swim the rest of the way to my Vallenbrush. Follow the current until you hear the song of the Vallenbrush."

The water was so cold as to be frigid, and it was completely clean and pure. As a tiny fish, Ashe could detect the minute current that flowed among the countless roots that drank from the subterranean water system. The two swam along with the current in the darkness for a surprisingly short while before Ashe detected the slight rhythm that was similar to that of the Vallenwood tree. It was different, though: if the Vallenwood was the harmony, the Vallenbrush would have filled the background, adding dimension and depth to the song of the Vallenwood.

Shankaria's mind infiltrated Ashe's again. "I have ached to once again hear the song of the Vallenwood together with the Vallenbrush." She said. "The brush has a deep ken...a knowledge of things past and present, and can show the way in the now, it is a compliment to the Vallenwood, and to hear those songs together is to hear the oldest and deepest wisdom, and to grasp the heart that allows one to truly grow in that wisdom."

They surfaced together in a sheltered wetland, guided by the whisper of the Vallenbrush. They were in a deep wood. Like before, high above them the evergreen trees joined their branches such that they could not see the sky, though Ashe knew that the day was getting on, and it was well past mid-day by then. But these trees didn't carry the low-laying branches that they had in that area where Ashe had followed Shankaria into the tree, and the underbrush was sparser here, allowing him to resume his human form (should he wish) with comfort. Little sound penetrated this sacred place, and the voice of the Vallenbrush was clear in Ashe's mind.

"We are in a crater, of sorts." Shankaria said in their cant. "Surrounded by mountains, and capped with these sentient evergreens who keep out all invaders, even direct sunlight." Ashe cast about; all around him was a vast setting of the vallenbrush: small, juniper-looking brush with red berries hanging like decorations. As darkness was descending, early as it would in such a crater, the vallenbrush had already begun to glow it's multi-colored lighting that clung to the soil like a thick, heavy fog. It was a light very much like the vallenwood, but instead of raining down, the vallenbrush lights crept out from the plant and billowed in cloudy exploration. Ashe knew the lightshow that he would witness as proper night plunged them into otherwise total darkness.
I have been re-reading (and re-re-reading) many threads in the eberron game forum, and a thought occurred to me as I read the interviews:

How is it that Whisper became interested in Temmit (who would, at that time, have been largely a monotonous loner...willing to help if asked, but not eager to...very much the watcher / studious type, not the participant / partying type)?

I note from the interviews that I've been involved in that there's usually some early tip-off (like this one survived a fire miraculously, this one is telling too-accurate fortunes...) to the guild. What would Temmit's "tells" be? This, of course, would provoke me to try to figure out what his earliest powers might be: those would have been Empathy, Telempathic Projection, Urban Strider, Prcognition...those sorts (all of which are level 1 abilities).

How would he have been "spotted"?

Who would have approached him? Were there prior, "accidental" contacts and then the then-leader approached with...who?

As I read this, and looked over his character sheet, it occurred to me that this might be one of those times when Temmit found them, rather than the other way around. He could have spotted the furtive signals, the knowing glances, the alliances...whatever. Even spotted someone taking their sneaky drought. Then, a month later, seeing several someones doing the same. Temmit could have been on their trail for months, trying to see what was going on (who are the leaders, who the followers, the newbies that might be interviewed with a well-placed suppressed Telempathic Projection...)

As I cultivated this idea, I then thought of Noah's journals. My dad also found them, eh?

Thoughts, Mr. GM?
Game Log / Episode 21 - Tripwires
June 08, 2009, 09:14:01 AM
I realize that we never documented this session, so I'm putting it in to the best of my ability to recall. Wildfire: I know that you have some details, and would appreciate the additions (introductions, In-Game date...)

Anyone else who can recall anything, please feel free to edit appropriately.

Play Date: Unknown
Game Date:

Hafaveraal: Phin
Maccabues: Johan
Who else was there? I can't recall. I think that Hemo was playing Ragnar. I also think that Griz was playing Bastion

Scenario: Some dwarves have gone missing, last seen to the north of Threshold. Go find them! I think that some clan members were offering a reward, and entreated Julius for help. Or did they just come to the members of the protectorate directly?

The members of the protectorate head off northerly. Maccabeus and Wolf take the point, looking for signs off the road of dwarf feet. Not sure how we did this, but we did find evidence of their passing to the east side of the road, leading off towards the Eastwall. The location is actually quite close to the hut where the warerate episode took place.

There is a mine in these here hills, and the dwarf tracks go into that mine. The companions follow suit. Not too far into the mine, we are able to see many, many crystal-looking strands, like clothes lines, drapped from ceiling to walls and floors. A torch is lit, and we make our way cautiously. Up close, these strands do indeed seem crystal-like, though many are covered with some kind of sticky resinous goo.

As the companions penetrate the mine, suddenly a net falls upon them from the ceiling (I think this was on that klutz Maccabeus) and they are under attack by a large crystal spider! Crystal spider? Yes. Seriously? Yes: it's a spider that seems to be made of living, organic crystal. Freaky.

The battle is fad fought, but won. Maccabeus has never heard of such a thing, and takes a sample for Ashe's inspection. The companions push forward.

This scene replays itself several times until Hafaveraal realizes that some of the strands that cross the floor are in fact trip wires that set of a trap, dropping a web upon the intruders, and signaling an attack by the spider-resident.

Brilliant! (and creepy).

At length, the protectorate can see up ahead in the cave some bound "packages" that are roughly dwarf-shaped and sized. And they are being guarded by the biggest mo-fo crystal spider the companions have seen yet (this, just after an encounter with a big spider). By this time, however, the group is all but spent. There are no more healing spells, few Psionic power points, and fewer Hit Points. We agree that we would not survive that encounter. We must fall back to Threshold, regroup, hope that someone goes up a level, and come back with an opera singer who can shatter crystal using vocals.
Game Log / Session 29 - All along the Watch Tower
June 08, 2009, 08:26:11 AM
Play date: unknown

Sir Whitestrake: Hemo
Loopy: Mac

Whitestrake and Loopy are requested to revisit the camp that was discovered north of the Keep (see Session 28a). They investigate. It is clear which direction the inhabitants of the camp came from, and which direction they went in.

The duo decide to investigate the direction they went in. Less than a day's journey, the terrain rises and the trees thin out. Up ahead, at the top of this rising, they spot a small camp of humanoid critters (short and stout, and very ugly goblins).

A fight ensues. It is a hard-won melee (won by Whitestrake and Loopy, employing well-placed entangle spells and challenges).

Investigating the camp of the goblins, the companions find a crude watch tower erected. From on top of that watch tower, they can see the Keep. It seems an ideal viewing spot to keep tabs on the goings-ons of the Keep.

No real loot on these goblins, although one of them has a tunic that's missing a button, and the other buttons look similar to the ones that Tavish found during session 28a.

Return to Keep.
In Character Discussions / A Scout's Report
January 13, 2009, 07:19:58 PM
Upon her return to the Keep, Tavish found it easy to locate Cannotaine to give her report. The Master of Scouts was busy conveying orders to Jorj, another of the Keep's young scouts - this one was a large half orc who Tavish thought must have been born in the depths of the forest.

"Report back to me within the week." Cannotaine was finishing.

Jorj grunted his understanding and wordlessly strode off towards the gate.

Cannotaine's eye fell upon the young half elf lass and he smiled slightly. "Welcome back, Tavish." He said. "You have anything to tell me?" Of course she did; and she knew that he was fully aware that she did. This was just his way of giving her the floor.
The thunder of the battle wagons was an unwelcome herald for Temmit. He hoped that he would not be participating in these games. He really wasn't the sort of warrior that one would want on the front line. The battle trainers had observed countless times that he was a bit clumsy in the din of battle, and his ability with a sword was sub-par.

Also, his 16th birthday was closing in...less than a fortnight away. It'd be a shame to miss that.

"You're time is going to come sooner or later." Smokey told him. "They looked past you three times now. The law of averages isn't on your side for today."

Temmit knew that his constant companion was right...statistically he'd be called this time. If he wasn't, then someone was preventing his call. He would have to try to find that person and thank him or her.

He forced himself to get out of bed and start the day's dregery. His stomach didn't feel like it could hold much more than toast and coffee today.

He went through his typical morning routine, with one addition: Temmit steeled himself for roll call.
Temmit was tired to the point of exhaustion, but he was determined, and recently caffeinated. Smokey was a silent observer.

He hauled Damien out from his bedroom and as quickly as possible to the kitchen. There he set his jaw, and brought to mind the violation that Damien had visited upon Leslie.

He had no moral issue with what he had decided to do, and the darker part of his mind - the one that concerned itself with vengeance and the more malicious side of justice, entertained the notion of waking the bastard up, so that he would know what was about to happen.

But there was no logic in that. It was a notion born of emotion...anger, to be specific. And this doing he had convinced himself to be of value from a logical perspective; that part of him that he valued the most.

Temmit removed those clothes that covered his torso, and he donned a dirty apron that hung in the kitchen to protect himself as much as possible from the impending spatter of blood. He positioned Damien near the trash shaft and put a number of thick cloths under him. It was in so doing that Temmit noted the string that encircled Damien's neck.

Temmit pulled the string, and it was immediately clear that there was something attached to it beneath Damien's shirt. Something that seemed pretty intent on staying below Damien's shirt. Temmit worked at it, his curiosity aroused. Whatever was attached to the string was metal, flat, and round. After a few more moments, the pendant sprang loose from Damien's shirt, revealing a medal that had an embossed spire in the middle. To the right of the spire was a field that depicted the night sky, a full moon and stars along side, and a prominent open eye in the near field. To the left of the spire was depicted a day sky, with the sun and sparse clouds in the far field, and a closed eye in the near field.

Temmit stopped short. His jaw hanged flaccid, his breathing stopped, and his heart raced.

"A Shield." Smokey was clear that the crystal was as stunned as Temmit was.

"Yeah." Temmit said aloud.

"An Outland Patrol Shield."


"But Damien had an Outlands Patrol Shield."
"Yes. He sure did."

"Why? How?"

"I don't know yet."

The world seemed to halt for Temmit as he and Smokey reiterated this notion over and over. Damien Starke was in possession of an Outlands Patrol Shield. Part of the young man thought that it would be best now to keep Damien alive, to ask him questions. But then cold reason suggested that any answers that Damien might give were suspect at best. Complete lies as often as not. He would confuse matters more than anything. And just because he was tied up, blindfolded, and gagged, didn't mean that he would be a docile and compliant prisoner. He would still be dangerous indeed. And should he escape...the risks greatly outweighed the potential benefits of keeping him alive.

Damien in possession of a Shield, and also looking for the names of Whisper members, might easily explain how the Karh'Thul knew which particular kids to target. And not only that, but other theories of Temmit's tightened considerably.

Where would Damien have gotten a shield? Well, who could reasonably be expected to own one? Based upon what Temmit had learned over the last few weeks there were two obvious options: on one hand, they might have inherited it. On the other hand, there was the church. Fresenius, that's who.

The Medallion fairly bristled with energy in Temmit's hands. He knew that Damien owned this Medallion. He could feel the villain's mind upon it. Even if Temmit had found this Medallion in a back alley in Shantytown, he would know that it had belonged to Damien Starke. He didn't know how he knew it, but there was a deep-seated conviction there. He needed to explore this sensation, and especially with respect to this Medallion...who owned it before Damien did? He knew the answer lay deep in the metal of the Mark.

"So do we keep Damien alive?" Smokey asked.

Temmit had already answered that question for himself: "No."

A quick, forceful thrust of Damien's own masterwork dagger separated the villain's vertebrae and with relatively little work Temmit was able to decapitate him. The head fell unceremoniously into the sink. Damien had already lost a great deal of blood, so the ordeal wasn't as messy as it might have been. It was messy enough, though, and Temmit had to command his stomach to settle; an image of Leslie, bound, gagged, and bruised, helped Temmit's resolve considerably.

He shoved Damien's body down the shaft, and ran water into the sink, rinsing the blood down the drain as well. He rinsed his hands and cleaned the dagger.

Thankfully, Damien's head fit nicely into the sack of salt that Temmit had brought along for the purpose. He made sure that the salt covered the entire head, as it would preserve the head a bit, and keep the stench down. It was a cinch that they wouldn't be able to deal with it tonight, so this would keep it viable for a day or three until they could get done what they needed to get done.

His grisly work completed, Temmit took off his apron and threw it down the shaft, donning his clothes once again. He hefted the sack, as well as the dagger and headed back to the warehouse.
The companions made their way back down through the lower tunnels of the fortmount and towards the crypt. Maccabeus walked beside Wolf, having called upon Mahiya's strength to mend his companion's wounds. Maccabeus did his level best to help carry the body of his fallen companion: Ragner.

It felt much to him like a funeral march, and he was conflicted a bit regarding Ragnar's death. On the one hand, the noble Protector had fallen honorably, fighting the foul foe that was the shadewolf, and Maccabeus would miss his presence.

On the other hand, Ragnar had entered into the next revolution of the Great Cycle, and we now free of the fears that he had grappled with in this life.

Birth to a new death, death to a new birth he thought as they moved through the subterranian tunnels.

He found himself quietly humming a dirge from the Dale, celebrating the Great Cycle and his friend's part in it.