Vile Shadows

Ettermoor
Eiremis' Journal

Rhann 18, 1423

Late Evening

A week or so ago, while Ellyria and I were staying at Fen’s home in Nacenium, he came to me with a letter from a peculiar man who has recently established a magic shop in Ettermoor, where we are currently, having reunited with the rest of the Hart’s Cross. I am unsure of Fen’s real reasons for sending me to this Marco Zarek, as, from what I can tell, the man stocks imperfect items of magic. He tried repeatedly to sell me several different items, but my own developing eye for magic allowed me to see through his “imaginative” descriptions. I was able to determine that most of the items were laced with unstable magic that would easily undo me. In effort to silence his attempts, I gave the man five hundred gold for a magic ring, which I knew was not unlike his other wares. Nevertheless, it did the trick. I am sure I can find some use for this cursed ring.

What’s more interesting is that, after having won Marco over with a purchase, he made mention to me of a magic rod that was recently stolen from his store. He requested that I keep an eye open for any peculiar happenings that might be caused by magic, as the warlord who rules this place is not very accepting of magic within his domain. If the rod is discovered by the authorities, they could very well find a link to Marco. Despite his deceitful business practices, he does not appear to be evil.

Once I finished my business with Marco, I ran into Faylor. The three of us made our way to an inn and had a few drinks to catch up. It was not long after we had arrived that Ambrose and Bondel appeared as well.

-Eir

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The Journey Back to Nacenium
Side-Story Event

Rhann 8, 1423

The day wore on as the two of them made their way to Nacenium. Eiremis rode along the road with a slight smile on his face, and Ellyria was right beside him on her own horse. While Ellyria helped him fight off his feelings of loneliness, Eiremis missed the rest of the Hart’s Cross Company. He’d grown accustomed to the company of his comrades beside whom he’d risked his life to bring down Marius. Absent-mindedly, Eiremis said aloud, “I’ll have to be sure to buy them all a round of the best drink at the best tavern we can find when we meet again.”

Ellyria looked over, giving him a puzzled look. She pointed to herself and gave an expression that asked, “Are you talking to me?”

Eiremis cracked a smile and shook his head gently, “Ellyria, I promise to teach you to speak properly the first chance I get.” This was probably around the tenth time he’d said those words to her in the past two days. Her lack of the ability to speak made it difficult for them to communicate at times. The first few weeks of their time together had ultimately led to quite a few awkward situations. The way she clung to him like a scared rabbit for the first several days since he’d rescued her had quickly poured salt in old wounds. He felt guilty for allowing her to get so close. Branwen was gone now, but Eiremis’ heart was still hers. Eiremis looked over at her again. He’d been quite careful to help her select clothes that would drive a wedge between her appearance and his memories of his fiancee. Her traveling clothes consisted of garments in various shades of brown and black along with his feather-mantled cloak that she seemed to depend on as a sort of security blanket.

The girl’s green eyes stared forward at the road as Eiremis watched her expressions. Her head bobbed up and down with each step of her horse and occasionally her face would tense up from the sudden impact of her mount’s steps. Catching Eiremis off guard, her eyes shot open wide and her right hand whipped forward pointing ahead of their horses.

Off in the distance Eiremis spied a plume of smoke rising into the air. With as much as a meeting of their eyes, Corvin was given his orders. The raven abruptly fluttered up into the air and toward the gray pillar at top speed. Within a few seconds, Eiremis felt Corvin’s message hit him. Danger.

“Let’s hurry,” Eiremis said to Ellyria as he clicked his heels into the sides of his mount, spurring it into a gallop. Ellyria’s horse followed quickly. The two of them reunited with Corvin halfway to the site of a bandit attack. Corvin landed gently on Eiremis’ stooped shoulder and they hurried the rest of the way there.

It didn’t take long before the bandits noticed the two horses coming. There were a total of six men, all clad in leathers and armed with shields and short swords. One man carried in his hands a shoddy longbow. The biggest of the men gave a sinister smile as the forms of Eiremis and Ellyria came into view. “This ought to be fun.”

Once they were in range, the bowman loosed an arrow at Eiremis. The arrow was of similar quality to the bow that launched it, but it flew true nonetheless. Just as the arrowhead was about to make contact with the top of Eiremis’ shoulder, a powerful burst of wind hurled it to the side. A twinge of fear shot through the bowman’s spine as he watched electricity hop across the outstretched blade Eiremis had drawn from his hip. The bandit had little time to react before a bolt of lightning arched through the air toward him, striking him at center mass and sending him flying through the air backward into the undercarriage of an overturned wagon. A charred circle now rested in the middle of his chest. The man was not dead, for Eiremis had learned from his past mistakes. He throttled back his power enough to simply injure the man and knock him unconscious.

With an astonished look on his face, the bandit leader sheathed his sword and stepped forward waving his free hand. Eiremis and Ellyria shored in the reigns of their horses and skid to a halt some thirty feet from the remaining five bandits. “Please friend, you must forgive my colleague, he has a tendency to leap before he looks,” the bandit leader said, casting a glance to the rest of his cronies signaling for them to put away their weapons.

Eiremis’ eyes narrowed, “Though I’m afraid I already know the answer…what are you doing here?”

The bandit looked over to the burning caravan, “Oh nothing in particular. Just taking donations.” The bandit’s eyes locked on the sword gripped firmly in Eiremis’ hand and then to his speechless companion. “May I be so bold to ask why you two…youthful…travelers are headed?” he said, giving Ellyria a more thorough look.

Having already grown tired of the bandit’s nonchalance, Eiremis replied, “I suggest you and your men gather up your friend there and be on your way before I set you straight.”

Eiremis’ words rang heavily in the ears of the bandit’s henchmen, but the leader only smirked. “Why, yes of course, m’lord. I was unaware that you were the law in these lands.”

“I’m not. But I’ll be happy to serve in its stead for the time being,” Eiremis said, casting his gaze to the other bandits, who were all but shaking in their boots.

The bandit leader let out a snide laugh, turning his back to Eiremis and bringing his arm up to motion to his men. Before Eiremis knew it, a dagger plunged into his bicep and the bandit let out a nerve-rattling battle cry to rally his soldiers.

The pain was terrible, but the accompanying rush of adrenaline allowed Eiremis to ignore it long enough to throw up his free hand and unleash another blast of lightning at the bandits. The bolt bounced from one bandit to the next, instantly dropping three of them to the ground. In an instant, one bandit was charging toward Eiremis’ horse just seconds before having his jaw smashed by the iron-shod hoof of the animal. The sudden movement of his horse caused Eiremis to inadvertently slide out of his saddle. Eiremis hit the dusty road with a heavy thud, which knocked the breath from his lungs. Terror filled Ellyria’s eyes as Eiremis looked up to see his horse’s back hooves rearing up to kick. He couldn’t blame the animal, it wasn’t every day that bolts of lightning shot out from its rider’s hands and the incoherent roar of the bandit leader didn’t help matters.

Fortunately, Eiremis managed to roll to the side in time to dodge the horse’s hooves. Eiremis stood up as quickly as he could manage and raised the newly-bonded Soranil to his front just in time to intercept a blow from the bandit’s short sword. Soranil’s hum harmonized with the sharp clang of the two swords. Instinctively, Eiremis called out a few words commanding his magic to protect him. The bandit’s next attack bounced harmlessly off of Eiremis’ transparent shield. The deflected blow threw the bandit off balance long enough for Eiremis to unleash a smaller arch of electricity from his upturned palm, which crashed into the bandit’s sword arm, causing the man to stumble back as his muscles tensed up painfully. Eiremis let fly another bolt, this time hitting center mass and hurtling the man some ten feet backward into the tall grass. His short sword flipped through the air and stuck into the ground nearby.

Eiremis rested his weight on his own sword, giving himself a few moments to recover. It was then that a shrill scream pierced the air. Eiremis turned to see Ellyria behind him with the hilt end of the bandit leader’s short sword in her hands and the pointed end through the torso of the bowman, who had awakened in time to see his leader downed by Eiremis’ magic.

The crimson liquid from the bandit’s chest poured down over the sword’s hilt and onto Ellyria’s hands. Tears were streaming from the girl’s eyes. The sight overcame Eiremis and he rushed to her side, pulling the dagger from its resting place in his arm on the way. She fell into Eiremis’ arms and drove her face into his chest. Her sobs were muffled by the folds of Eiremis’ tunic as he held her until she stopped crying.

A few hours later, the two of them were once again on the road again toward Nacenium. Ellyria was still obviously rattled from the encounter, and Eiremis’ was thinking of how it seemed he just could not get a break lately. “There’s always an injury to tend to, eh, Eir?” he asked himself. They rode on in silence. It wasn’t until around dinner time that they exchanged any meaningful communication. Eiremis had strewn his things out across his bedroll and was busy keeping track of their funds. After they’d recovered from the encounter earlier, Eiremis had taken it upon himself to examine the bandits’ bodies for anything they could use. Between the six of them, Eiremis had collected enough to recover the gold he’d spent buying Ellyria’s traveling gear and horse. The bandit leader’s sword was an exceptional find as well and, based on her actions, Ellyria seemed to grasp the purpose of the object, so Eiremis cleaned it up and stowed it in her saddlebag.

Looking through his notes, Eiremis remembered the gruesome sight that the bandits had left in their wake once they had finished pillaging the merchant caravan. Bodies were spattered with blood and lying in awkward positions. He was sure that the bandits had intentionally taken their time when they killed the merchants, as many of their wounds were altogether ineffective “killing” blows. Shaking his head, Eiremis’ mind wandered back to his accounting notes.

Ellyria was stooped over the edge of their campfire, stirring their stew with a long wooden spoon. A proud look fell over Ellyria’s face as she had a taste of the stew. She quickly grabbed the dipping spoon lying on the nearby blanket and prepared a bowl for Eiremis. Her sable hair danced in the air as she plodded over to Eiremis’ side and held the bowl out toward him with both hands.

Looking up from his journal, Eiremis smiled and took the bowl from her hands. He pushed his pencils off to one side and sat the bowl down long enough to retrieve his waterskin from his bag. By this time, Ellyria had already returned with her own bowl and waterskin and sat down beside him. As they ate, Eiremis told Ellyria stories about his missing mentor. “And the next thing I knew, Zede was gone and in his place stood a massive bear,” Eiremis said, laughing. “The man did not know the meaning of overkill. What made it worse was when I tried to transform as well, all I managed to do was cover myself in brown fur,” his laughing subsided, “He didn’t let me live it down for at least two months.”

Ellyria, though she didn’t understand his words, knew that Eiremis was remembering these things for his own sake. She could feel him silently denying the idea that Zede was gone from the world of the living. By this time, they had both made it halfway through their third bowl of stew. Ellyria rose to her feet and gathered their dishes before heading off to the nearby stream, with Corvin perched on her shoulder.

Eiremis sighed as he shuffled his things around again, taking a moment to check on their food supplies. From what he could tell, they had more than enough food to last them until they reached Nacenium. He straightened his bedroll out once more and brushed off the bread crumbs before sliding inside. There was a strange calm that overtook him and soon he was dozing.

Ellyria slowly crept up from the direction of the stream. She smiled gently as she looked at Eiremis’ peaceful face. “Eir,” she whispered to herself before reaching over for her own bedroll, which she pulled up next to his. She smoothly positioned herself inside the bedroll and laid her arm over Eiremis’ shoulder. She could feel his chest expand and contract with each breath and the steady beating of his heart. It soon lulled her into sleep.

Eiremis slept completely undisturbed for the first time in months. When Ellyria awoke the next morning, Eiremis was already packing their things. His expression was not one of happiness.

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Soranil, the Vandril Legacy
Side-Story Event

Rhann 7, 1423

The morning came early the next day, and Eiremis’ body still cried out in stiff pain if he tried to move too quickly. Ellyria, as Eiremis had taken to calling her, was already up and had placed herself at his bedside. She was busy eating leftovers from the night before. Seeing that he’d finally awakened, Ellyria offered him a handful of dried meat and a few choice pieces of fruit. Eiremis groaned as he pulled his arms out from beneath the blanket. His bruised body still had not recovered entirely from the battle in the tower. Noticing his discomfort, Ellyria held the food up to his mouth. Eiremis cast his eyes to the side and sighed a little. The thought of being fed in his bed like this was embarrassing and the tiny details about Ellyria that reminded him of Branwen proved to be as painful emotionally as his physical injuries were. Nevertheless, he caved in and took a bite. Ellyria just smiled as Eiremis gnawed on the meat.

After they’d both filled their stomachs, it was time to get moving on the day’s plans. Eiremis had waited much too long to make use of the notes Fen had given him about Zede’s sword, Soranil. Using a combination of the information he had gleaned from Fen’s notes and his own knowledge of historical events, Eiremis had learned of Zede’s exploits in his younger years. Fen’s notes also detailed a complex ritual that Zede mentioned could be used to bond the sword to the magical energies of its chosen wielder.

It was now the late afternoon and Ellyria watched over Eiremis’ shoulder as he read through the notes again. “The sword’s chosen wielder, eh?” Eiremis had spent the better part of the day gathering everything he could from the town’s shops and surrounding environs to complete the ritual listed in Fen’s notes. Finally prepared, Eiremis had navigated to a small clearing about a mile and a half outside of town where the foundation of ruined building remained. The cobblestone slab was sturdy enough and level enough for Eiremis’ recreation of a detailed network of chalk lines drawn in the center of a circle of a mixture of one part powdered ruby and three parts saltpeter. Positioned at all of the cross points of the lines inside the circle were silk sachets of ground peony seeds mixed with the mahogany tree sap and tea brewed from morning glory and nightshade leaves. At the very center of the circle stood Soranil, resting with its scabbard plunged into a mound of wet red clay.

Preparations complete, Eiremis motioned Ellyria to stand back and began an incantation. His words reverberated in his ears. Magic hummed through the atmosphere and the wind danced in the growing breeze. The clouds above took on a dull gray color and static arched from Eiremis’ outstretched fingertips. The gentle breeze abruptly transformed into a torrent of wind, but it seemed to pass around Eiremis’ body. “The sword chooses the wielder, bonding uniquely to one’s magic. This, the truest form of my power. As I complete this rite, Soranil and I become a singular entity,” he announced in a bold voice as bolts of lightning danced across his body.

Then, the storm stopped. Eiremis’ arms slowly fell to his sides and he took brave strides into the center of the circle. With each step, the materials he prepared for the ritual crackled wildly and burned away from him. Wrapping gloved fingers around the hilt of Soranil, its power surged forth, filling his mind with visions of Zede’s accomplishments. Pulling the sword free from the scabbard, Eiremis held it firmly in his hand and listened to it hum. He could feel its magic embrace him in a protective shroud of energy. He could see its edge almost become sharper. His mind became more serene, and even the tiniest movement around him was communicated to him through the weapon’s calming hum.

“It is done,” he muttered to himself as he turned to see Ellyria staring back at him with a congratulatory smile. Having bound himself to the weapon, Eiremis felt drained. It didn’t take long before he had gathered his things and returned to the inn with Ellyria in tow.

Tomorrow, they would leave for Nacenium.

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Seeking the Master
Eiremis' Journal

Rhann 5, 1423

Late Afternoon

If I am to believe the words of that man, it seems as though I may never be able to ask Zede why he left me his family sword. Leaving the Wardens’ chapter house behind, Ellyria, as I have come to call her, and I made way to Windwick. Our journey took us to a small port town on the southern edge of Themis. It took some time to arrange passage to Windwick, as terrible storms seem to keep most sane sailors at bay. There was, however, one man by the name of Geoff, who was brave enough to make the trip. It cost me four hundred gold, but Geoff took myself and my entourage to Windwick. The trip was rough, and Ellyria had trouble keeping her stomach under control. I managed to scrape together some ingredients on the ship to make a draught for her, and that seemed to do the trick.

The trip took a week, but we arrived at Windwick only to be greeted by a rather unsettling group of guards dressed in dark robes and hoods. They spoke what I soon found out was Terran, so I was at first unable to speak with them directly. Luckily, Geoff had picked up the language and helped me get my point across to the gatekeepers. I was forced to pay a toll of two hundred gold before I was allowed to enter. I spent the first few days familiarizing myself with the locals, who did not seem fond of outsiders. Visiting a bookstore, I was able to make a copy of a sizable book of writings in Terran, which allowed me a little insight into the language’s structure. Just enough to allow me basic communication skills. This did not seem to help the locals warm up to my company, however, and I only learned that Zede had passed through the area after returning to the inn later in the night to talk with the innkeeper. He was much more friendly than the rest of the locals, for sure. Armed with the knowledge that Zede had been sighted entering the tower at the center of town, I left early the next morning to investigate. Again, I was halted by guards, but after a short conversation using my broken grasp of the Terran language, I was able to leave a message along with a map depicting where I was staying with the guards, who would show it to the tower’s master.

Returning to the inn, I waited a day or two more before hearing from the tower. They sent a hunchbacked man to take me to the tower. I left Ellyria and Corvin behind. What I discovered when I arrived I am not sure I believe entirely. An imposing man clad in black and his two henchmen met me in a small meeting chamber around the half-way point of the tower. One of these men was none other than the abomination that we’d saved from Marius’ clutches months ago, Id. He seemed eager to draw his weapon against me, but when I decided to lash out against the three of them, the master left his other minion to deal with me. The confrontation was abrupt, but I did not escape without injury. The man’s assassin was unable to best me and I left his wretched body crumpled against a wall before charging up the steps after the man who claimed to have killed Zede. I imagine my persistence angered him some, as he chose to deal with me himself, and deal with me he did. By the end of the ordeal, he hurled me from a window near the top of the tower. Had I not had the forethought to prepare for such an occasion, I would surely have died from the fall. I had only enough strength to use my magic to slow my fall before I hit the ground so far below. I awoke to find Ellyria and Corvin prodding me. With her help, I managed to return to the inn, where I remained for the next several days until I was well enough to travel once more.

I then returned to find Geoff waiting for me, offering him additional money for the trouble, which he turned down. We returned to Themis, where we are now, at a small inn near the outskirts of town. I think we will stay here at least a few more days before we leave for Nacenium. Alfred will want to know of Zede’s fate.

Despite having spent almost a month with her, Ellyria shows no sign of knowing anything about herself. She has only just recently figured out how to say my name. The best she can manage is ‘Eir’ before her tongue gets tangled. I have no idea where she might be from. At the very least, she keeps me company. The past several months gave me a chance to develop a fondness for close friends once more. The presence of a woman also reminds me of Branwen. The color of her hair, skin, and even her scent brings my beloved to mind. The fact that she calls me ‘Eir’ does nothing to help those feelings either.

-Eir

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From the personal notes of Ambrose Morgan

Much has happened recently. I have accomplished many of my goals, and feel like I am becoming what I set out to be- a true Paladin. In Ezra’s name, I will become even better. Recently, my compatriots and I were able to defeat Marius, the foul necromancer. Though we faced many difficult tribulations along the way, and encountered much evil, we managed to subdue the man and turn him over to the Brilliant Wardens.

Speaking of which, I’m now a member. That makes me a legitimate paladin, after all this time of training. A sense of fulfillment has taken hold in me- but I know my job is not done. I have parted ways with my friends for now, to go under the tutelage of Christof Hawking, an inquisitor such as myself. Although his outlook on the world seems far more grim than my own, I think he has much to teach me. I will learn from him accordingly.

(numerous scribbles and notes, predominantly involving money expenditures)

Today I fought a dragon. The fearsome beast, covered in bronze scales and eyes full of hatred for all ‘lesser’ beings, had been terrorizing the town of Palma. With Christof and a new friend, Kalfyra, we defeated it and forced it to flee. Its breath was terrible lightning and its claws sharp, but my resolve was stronger and prevailed in the end.

Kalfyra herself seems to be a dragon of some sort. She is red-haired and very clumsy, and has a liking for books. I admit to being twitterpated. Something about her has caught my attention. I know that such a thing- a human man and a dragon woman- is likely to end in disaster or heartbreak, but for now I will explore it for what it is. After I’ve spent my time journeying with Hawking, I will try to return to her. Her shy smile haunts me even now.

(further notes about money and the like, jotted here and there)

We’ve recently entered another town, in pursuit of a man named Samael. If our information is correct, he is far worse than even Marius was. That said, we’ve been stuck in this town for days. After months of urgency, to sit around and wait like this is nothing short of painful. Here comes Hawking. Perhaps he found something?

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Marius
Eiremis' Journal

Barrakas 22, 1423

Late Afternoon

Marius’ fate finally rests in the hands of the Brilliant Wardens. Continuing on our previous mission, my associates and I left the Wardens’ base of operations some six days ago. We were greeted by Marius’ welcoming party, a large number of risen dead under the necromancer’s control. These zombies proved no match for our group’s ever-increasing strength. We were then faced by a massive creature made of grave dirt—which I assume is the point of Marius’ references in his notes. While my magic was ineffective against the beast directly, I was able to bolster Ambrose’ defenses while he and Faylor waded in and fought it. Upon its defeat, the creature was reduced to a mound of dirt once more and Faylor and Ambrose disposed of the skull that crowned it.

We continued into the depths of Marius’ lair in the graveyard, facing a variety of other obstacles along the way. I made a point of destroying all of the incubating necrotic creatures we came across. Eventually we made our way into Marius’ inner sanctum, where we did battle against the evil necromancer. Once again, my magic was rendered mostly ineffectual, but I was able to assist in the disposal of Marius’ zombified guards and also managed to suppress the domination effect that he exerted over Ambrose’s mind. I’m fairly disappointed with my performance against him. Nevertheless, we managed to subdue him, and, using a few lengths of rope, tied him up and gagged him. With him taken care of, we made our way through the rest of his lair, taking whatever useful items we could in addition to what we determined were items of evil magic.

Following that, Ambrose and I split up to search the rest of the complex. Ambrose managed to uncover a great deal of Marius’ notes and journals from his study while I searched through his holding chambers. I found a girl there, who seems to have lost the ability to speak. She was left naked in her holding cell, so I offered her my old cloak and she later borrowed a set of clothes from Bondel. She seems to have become attached to me. I cannot say I blame her, I would not leave her alone with Bondel and, while I trust Faylor and Ambrose, they do not really seem ‘equipped’ to deal with her.

Either way, here we are back at the Wardens’ home, and it seems that our party will be going its separate ways for a while. I think I will give some thought to visiting Windwick, as that is where the wizard Fen said Zede had gone. If I can find him, maybe he will tell me why he left his family heirloom to me. I suppose I will be taking the girl along with me. I cannot very well go around calling her ‘girl’, so I will give her a name until she can tell me more about herself.

-Eir

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Meeting the Brilliant Wardens
Eiremis' Journal

Barrakas 15, 1423

Mid-Afternoon

It’s been almost two weeks since we left Nacenium, and my research is going forward at a rapid pace. After reuniting with Faylor, the four of us discussed what we should do next. Eventually we decided to make our way to this mysterious graveyard where we suspect Marius is hiding. We settled on travel by sea, which conveniently brought us within range of a peculiar locale that Ambrose has been quite adamant about visiting as of late.

After eight days on the sea, we arrived within riding distance of our destination: a chapter house for what I gather is the last remaining order of paladins in the land, the Brilliant Wardens. For the most part, I kept to myself. They did not seem to harbor any dislike for me or my talents, and even allowed me access to a few of their history books to help me pass the time while Ambrose and Faylor familiarized themselves with the paladins. The Wardens were, as I would expect, supportive of our pursuit of Marius, and even asked us to investigate a tomb that’s been sinking into the marshes that surround it for some time. Our mission: to recover whatever artifacts we could from its depths.

Naturally, that was our next step. It took about one and a half days of riding to reach the tomb. The stronger two of our group put themselves to use at the entrance, moving the massive door aside. A short way in, we encountered a sealed door with a Draconic inscription. The inscription was a riddle, and proved no match for the combined strength of our intellect. The next room was a massive one, surrounded by twelve doors with a clock up ahead, reading one o’clock. Another inscription revealed that we would be released when the clock struck twelve. However, the clock’s arms were not moving, so I took it upon myself to search the clock itself for some sort of mechanism. A dial found on the back of the clock allowed me to rotate the hands until the clock read twelve o’clock, resulting in the nearest door opening.

The next room pushed me to my limits, as we were forced to flood the room entirely before Ambrose and Faylor could force the doors open. Upon being expelled from the flood room, along with two silver rods that served as the levers for controlling the drains in the flood room. Ambrose took point in the next room and abruptly disappeared. Since no one else seemed to be willing to push ahead, I stepped forward into a beam of light at the end of the hall, which transported me to a room filled with a massive chess board. I sent Corvin in first to scout, which resulted in his being trapped in the first game. As I’ve never been good at the game, even my intellect proved useless. Corvin lost the first match, and I quickly followed him. We found ourselves locked inside an exceedingly small room, so I spent the next few moments trying to think of a way out.

I didn’t have to wait long, as Bondel and Faylor soon freed me from my imprisonment, which I was surprised to discover was actually a coffin in the middle of a crypt. Still looking for Ambrose, we opened the next coffin, which released a terrible creature that seemed to suck the very air from our lungs. Once we freed Ambrose, we were able to dispatch the creature, along with three others of its kind in fairly short order. The threat eliminated, we opened the sarcophagus in the center of the crypt to find several magical items. Using the same techniques from before, I was able to determine the properties of some of the items. Another pair of magic bracers, a magic cloak, and a wand containing a spell that I know myself. Additionally, we found a magic staff, rod of some sort, and 2 potions—which I have so far been unable to figure out. We also found a large number of coins which I estimate to be equivalent in value to roughly twelve thousand gold, which I will be distributing to the rest of the group shortly.

It seems that I’ve lost track of time, leaving less than four days until my twenty-third birthday. I wish Branwen were here to share it with me.

-Eir

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A Failed Journey
The Journal of Inquisitor Hawking

Barrakas 14, 1423

Again I have found myself unable to write for several months. My time away has been all for naught. I have lost Samael. I managed to catch up with the wretched beast and Ariana, however I underestimated their power. I was struck down and lay unconscious for days. I can only assume Baldur allowed me to survive.

I am returning to the Wardens so that I may see my daughter and contemplate on my next action. I should speak with Grand Inquisitor Kossuth. While I would normally be able to handle someone such as Samael by myself, he is a coward. He uses my wife against me so that he may protect himself. I may require some aid. At the very least an extra Inquisitor could go a long way in ridding the world of Samael.

I find myself in a small Inn along the road from Milnrow and the chapter house. I need some time to recover and contemplate my next move. I will also be very glad to see Gretchen.

-Christof Hawking, Inquisitor of the Brilliant Wardens

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Resolve

Once again I bring pen to paper. Days and weeks of travel are starting to show their wear on this under-used journal of mine. Even as I write this, I have to take care that I get my letters correct, that my t’s are crossed and my i’s dotted. But, I dedicated myself to this task and I shall remain adept.

A number of events have passed recently. I recently aided in saving a farmer’s field, livestock, and potentially the lives of the town’s people. Not long before, I helped to bring down a werewolf- who, regrettably, turned out to be nothing more than an unfortunate girl. Eiremis slayed her, but I cannot hold against him what he did not know.

I take refuge in the knowledge that every day we draw closer to Marius. I am unsure of what day it is, or how long we have been on this quest. All I know is that for that girl’s death and the countless others that have fallen to the side, I will pursue this man and all that he has created. That is my resolve.

Ambrose Morgan.

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The Adventurer's Guild
Eiremis' Journal

Barrakas 2, 1423

Late Evening

Just this morning, I decided to invest in a mount for myself. It was an expensive undertaking, a hefty amount totaling three hundred and sixteen gold pieces for a trained horse and related gear including a nice set of scale barding to help keep it alive. Upon my return to the inn where we were staying, Faylor directed myself, Ambrose, and Bondel to Nacenium’s Adventurer’s Guild—something not particularly common as far as I know. Faylor explained that he needed some time to contemplate his future with the group, so the three of us left him to it.

Upon our arrival at the guild, we met with a man by the name of Mathias. After a short discussion about what the purpose of the guild, he offered us a contract that required us to solve an issue for the area’s farmers. From there we made way to meet with a man named Elias, who apparently serves as a spokesperson for the farmers here. Elias could not shed much light on the situation, other than the fact that the culprit burrows through the ground and eats the farmers’ livestock. After investigating one of the holes dug by the creature, I was able to determine that the beast was magical in nature, based on the residue and fragments left behind in the tunnels. Bondel first offered the idea that we should position an incentive for the creature to show itself near one of the tunnels, so he purchased a cow from Elias and did just that. The creature did not show for several hours, so Bondel took it one step further and used an upturned barrel to cause an unsteady beat to reverberate through the ground. That seemed to do the trick and, upon laying eyes on the creature I came to the conclusion that we were facing what is called a bullette, or “landshark”.

The beast launched itself out of the ground toward us. Reflexively, I fired a blast of lightning at the creature, but that only served to draw its ire to me. It struck me once, and, were it not for the efforts of Ambrose, I would surely be a dead man now. After a short battle, the three of us brought the beast down. Using all of the tools we had at our disposal, we harvested the creature’s chitinous hide and three vials of the acid from its stomach.

Our task complete, we returned to the Adventurer’s Guild with proof of the creature’s demise. Mathias rewarded us with one thousand gold and remarked that we should probably look into creating a name for our group—which proved to be much harder than one would think. We were also introduced to the members of the Chimera Company, who, as their name would suggest, slew a chimera for their title. After speaking with the Chimera’s bard and making a pass at their priestess, Bondel left to perform some errands. I asked Mathias if he knew any arcanists in the area, on the off chance that I could possibly meet with them and learn a few things. However, Mathias did not know of anyone.

Meeting up later, Bondel presented us with a magic wand that we could use to heal our wounds. I reimbursed him with funds from our group funds.

The day was just about over when I decided to take a walk in the park near our inn. I knew a storm was brewing in the distance, but didn’t expect it to come crashing down anytime soon. It did just that, and as I made my way toward a pavilion at the park’s center, a bolt of lightning touched down right in front of me. If all of the recent events weren’t enough, the residual energy from the lightning seemed to be drawn to me, filling me with energy through the tips of my fingers. For a moment, I thought my cover was blown, as an older man who happened to be passing by at the time stopped and addressed me. We had a short discussion and he introduced himself as Alfred Fen, a wizard himself and old friend of my mentor, Zede. Alfred invited me back to his home and we spoke of Zede. He gave me several pages of notes regarding the Vandril sword Zede left for me at his home and allowed me to look through his books. I gave Alfred some money for writing materials and copied a peculiar spell from one of his spellbooks. I’ve only just recently returned to the inn, having bid Alfred farewell for the time being.

It seems my research has taken an altogether different turn.

-Eir

Postscript: After spending some time reviewing my entries since I began this journal, I have come to the conclusion that our group should be called “The Hart’s Cross Company,” as we first met at an inn by that name in Inginmoor. I think it has a nice ring to it.

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