Ascension

Change

Thorman

I start this log in the last place I thought I would every find myself again…the one place I vowed to never return to. The underdark. This hell that stole everything from me…now seems so pitiful in comparison to the hell I’ve brought on myself. We sought council with the minotaur, as if we had much of a choice in the matter. Slaughtering these brave souls before I finally fell, gored and stomped on isn’t my idea of a righteous death. We hear their leader, Marak, speak in a council chamber, taking sips of what would kill most normal men. He knows of Doran…one of the few who knows that name..and while no leads and unanswered questions are frustrating I hope it stays that way. He speaks of his father, Totem…a great warrior who fought alongside Doran. His father was not alone in that venture. There were more members of that party…some of which may still exist. A mention of the first vampire is made…sweet Tera…what monsters would conspire with him…let alone rival him in power…it frightens me to think where we will have to go for answers. Finally we arrive to the meat of this conversation…the drowe war. We state our case, but he states the obvious. Drowe acts of war and cruelty cannot go unanswered..and there could not be a more stubborn race to try to make humble. We leave with a mission..and not a simple one. To see to it that these two races stop butting heads…no pun intended. On our journey back to the Drowe city we pick the bodies clean. A few useful items are found, some more unique than others. Balidor seems jumpy..on edge. I can’t say as I blame him…being down in this place makes my skin crawl. Suddenly Blood Raven falls…unprovoked. I don’t know what ails him but i have a terrible feeling…so I take him up. As i turn to ensure Blood Raven and Jhulaer that he is fine…they are frozen. My blood takes their lead..as I can barely inch closer to them as I see Balidor’s eyes shift..change. Along with that..a voice…an utterance I haven’t heard neigh on two centuries. The parasite…it’s primal form..not the docile symbiosis I knew for so long. The hate…the rage…nothing but pain in it’s voice as it speaks from my friend. Warning me…foretelling…it’s as vague as I remember.
I wake. Balidor kneels above me…calling my name. The image of his twisted visage..that guttural emanation..flashes in my eyes. I get up, quickly. I see Balidor…Jhulaer walks ahead..no sign of Blood Raven. I question Balidor..hesitantly..not trusting myself as much as him. He tells me both myself and Blood Raven collapsed..unconcious…and were muttering in unison..warnings..prophecies…the exact things I heard Balidor exclaim. I don’t know what to make of it. Balidor berates me…warning me to get control of whatever is inside of me. He above all others should know…if it still dwells inside of me…there is no stopping it. Something is off…Balidor’s words are heated..panicked. I catch up to Jhulaer to hear her side of this story. She remains mostly silent…simply confirming Balidor’s word..says Blood Raven ran ahead. There is something both aren’t telling me. We make for the inn, hoping to find Blood Raven there, but all we find is Pov waiting patiently. I ask for his help…trusting this boy I know so little of…and I ask him to find Blood Raven. He departs almost immediately and I make for Balidor’s room. I won’t have secrets. He tells me what he tried to do…what nothing other than fate and timing stopped. He seems complacent…unaltered. He’ll do it again. I attempt to sway the good man I once I knew, but my words fall on deaf ears. It’s sad to see the man who was once a pinnacle of strength…a pillar of faith to all…give up on everyone so easily…even himself.
We couldn’t waste anymore time so we gathered and Jhulaer asks the guards where she can meet with Avalyn. The instruct us to head for the council chamber. As we do, Jhulaer makes a stop along the way, an artifiser by the looks of it. She wants a better leg. I flex my right hand and grin, knowing the need. She makes the order and we wait outside this place for our contact. We sit in silence…not knowing what to say to eachother…what hasn’t already been said…what needs to be said. I worry for Blood Raven. I hope Pov is successful. Avalyn finally meets us, and asks if our mission was successful. Jhulaer works her silver tongue, though I don’t know how much this drowe witch is fooled. She hears our request, what the council needs to hear…but again I fear that words will fail us. She departs and we return to the inn.
Pov ushers me into his room and tells me he’s found Blood Raven, but relief is short lived. Blood Raven is leaving. The letter Pov hands me, for my eyes only, states Blood Raven cannot be a burden to us and couldn’t live with hurting anyone…especially Jhulaer. He speaks of the wand we found…the one that shows enemies. I recall both Balidor and Jhulaer speaking of this as well…but it seems wrong to place such importance on the meaning of a magical relic. Finally he says he intends to seek Doran..to continue the mission alone. As i sit on the end of the bed and read his words I feel like I’m reading my own. I keep seeing my companions…the people I was sent to protect go down the same roads that I’ve walked. It will not bring about the destination he wants, but I can’t stop him from finding his own way…I’ve been there. There is no convincing him. Pov tells me he’s going with him which gives me some hope..until he asks me a question. He asks me where we first met Doran. I feel like the next words I speak will lead them down a dark road..regardless of where I send them. I can’t stand the thought of telling them…but letting them wander with no destination and no compass…is worse. Finally…I utter the name of the town. Fole. Pov thanks me and departs.
It takes a moment for the depth of what I’ve said to sink in. I’ve killed them…both of them. I run out of the room…no sing. I get downstairs…nothing. I find myself outside..frantic and forlorn. They are gone…and in my soul I know…I won’t see them again.

View
Petty Differences
The War Underground

Blood Raven

So it is decided. We shall remain here in this time and further our endeavor to rid this world of Doran. His power is more present in this future. The power seen through Pain and Suffering, which I understand has some strong connection to Doran, has reached the general populace of Dracos. The power of faith in the god of slaughter. In order to have a chance of holding our own against this evil, we must find allies. The surface world has fallen into the hands of a single bloodthirsty man. It had crossed our minds to attempt confronting Danden; however, approaching the founder of the mage genocide would have proven too risky with chance of failure and ultimately a waste of valued time.

Our main conclusion has led us to the underdark; Jhulaer’s distasteful homeland. Perhaps allies would be more easily gained there, oddly enough. We agreed to meet at the north gate around noon. Just after the sun rose I went to gather some supplies that would be needed in the caves below. After that I spent some time studying the new spell book I acquired in the past. Though I cannot understand most of its writings, I will continue to teach myself until I feel worthy of testing the magic with my own hands. With that powerful sword gone, perhaps I can learn to implement magic into my swordplay. After all, I am a fast learner. I’d be dead now if I were not.

Noon approached and we gathered at the north gate. Jhulaer met with us and yet another confrontation unfolded between our two spell casters. Balidor seemed to suddenly be struck with a memory of her that just recently changed due to Jhulaer jumping into the past. Jhulaer seems to be having difficulty controlling this new power of hers, though how can I blame her for something that I have little comprehension of? Despite the difficulties we face now as a group, we must stay focused on what is at stake with the world, not on what is at stake with each other. From my understanding, the inability to set petty differences aside was the foundation of why the world stands as it does today.

Jhulaer teleported us to the underdark entrance where we met with an old friend, also seemingly lost through time; Pov. We agreed to travel with him and after some time, becoming swallowed up by the darkness below, we arrived outside the city of Menzoberranzan. A large city entirely underground, buildings constructed of stone and minimal light. Jhulaer told us to wait outside as she was escorted in, hopefully to gain contact with their leaders. After I spent more time studying my spell book, she returned and told us that the rest of her family had been executed and her crimes paid for, which both alleviated and complicated matters. After we had found lodging she told us that a contact with the drow council, Avelyn, might prove useful for getting word to them. During this discussion Avelyn arrived outside of Jhulaer’s room and proposed a deal to our drow companion; if we deal with a group of minotaur responsible for the slaughter of drow, she would consider allowing a message to be sent to the council. We spent some time discussing how we could do this in the most diplomatic way possible and eventually agreed to Avelyn’s offer.

We set off on the roads further underground and came upon a field of bodies, drow and minotaur. A group of the horned beings stood on the other end, carrying away their dead. We quickly attempted to make a final decision, but were easily noticed and taunted over to them. We approached in a nonthreatening manner and succeeded in diplomacy. Their leader, Marak led us back to their city and invited us into his stronghold. There we told him everything of the situation at hand involving Doran, and he surprisingly believed us. Marak revealed that his father, Totem, long ago worked alongside a version of Doran. Marak also presented to us a piece of a periapt. Balidor examined it closely, and concluded that, like the periapt of Pelor he wore, if all three pieces were to be assembled, the wearer of it would eventually withhold the powers of Erythnul. Marak also revealed information about a group of companions his father was involved with, one of which would likely still be alive; the first vampire. We eventually parted ways from the minotaur community and made our way back to Menzoberranzan. The minotaur were easy enough to negotiate with. The drow will likely prove far more difficult. Hopefully, considering their strong inclination to magic, they will not have scried us during this time.

View
An Unwelcome Reunion

Balidor

Three and a half years…..no word….no message….no clue left behind. But Three years and six months later exactly I feel a presence I have not felt in a long time. I give Jhulaer a single word, it’s all I can stand to say, Kevatch….the location of the shrine I made those years ago. It’s not long before they arrive. And there they are; Jhulaer, Thorman, and Blood Raven. The three people I used to call my friends, my closest companions. We stand in silence, the wind blowing in the snowy peaks of Torin, amongst the monuments of the dead. Nothing is said, what could I say? My mind is preoccupied….all I can think of….is the past.

Three years, five months ago…

My friends are gone. They have left me. No word. Nothing. All I was able to get from the oracle during the many interrogations was that they had left me willingly. No matter how hard I beat her, how many bones I broke, scars I gave her; she yielded no information other than they had left me of their own free will. I know they will return to find me….it’s only a matter of time before they return from their task. I must remain vigilante and make my place here for the time being. Perhaps there is information to be gained in this prison….perhaps some followers to recruit. We’ll need all the help we can get.

Five months later…

My efforts have been in vain…I was able to gain the trust of the guards and mages alike at the prison, I have been helping them ever since my companions departed. I got comfortable…perhaps too comfortable. I felt well enough to reveal to the guards who I really am. Their reaction, while expected, was not the one I was hoping for. I had to leave…and leave quickly. Luckily enough Ramblin and Aralia had decided to stay with me until such a time my companions had returned. Their Airship provided a quick and convenient escape from the frozen wasteland. But an escape to where? Have i spared them from one fate only to bring them to a far more gruesome one?

We set sail for the only place I can imagine that may have some answers; the ruins of Spellscale.

Six months later…

I am alone. Only a couple months have passed since Ramblin and Aralia parted ways from me. I could ask no more of them. The incident of Spellscale was a reminder that those who become close to me are in danger, it was a bittersweet departure. I had grown fond of them, despite my efforts to distance myself from them. I have long since accepted that my so-called friends have abandoned me….all attempts to scry them have resulted in nothing but darkness this yields only two possibilities; they are either dead or on another plane. I admit that neither concerns me; they have chosen their fates and must suffer the consequences.

King Dandin’s reach has grown. Not many countries remain opposed to his rule save for Torin and Osilyth. Though Torin has taken neutrality in the conflict, it seems inevitable they will be drawn into it to add yet another kingdom under Dandin’s belt in his ‘glorious’ crusade. But for the time being, it is the only safe haven I can think of…perhaps it would be prudent to make my way there.

Present Day

I stand atop a snowy precipice staring into the eyes of someone I used to know. Over three years has it been since I last saw them, since they abandoned me to rot in the festering prison. Two years now I have wandered through wastelands, forests, villages, cities, doing what was necessary to survive, helping those who needed it, defending those who had not the strength to defend themselves, dispensing Justice to those who would cause harm in whatever way I deemed fit.

The road has taken it’s toll on me; I am not the man I once was, I am not the man they remember. Three years, six months to the day since they left, and they dare stand before me and say I should be grateful for their return. That I should be thankful for them leaving me to die in the future so they could save my life in the past. No….they will get no thanks…..no show of gratuity…they deserve no such pittance.

And though it goes against every fiber of my being, despite my anger and hate that boils within me, I will join them again. But not as their friend, they gave that privilege up years ago. No, they are dead to me, their lives mean nothing! They are but a means to an end, mere pawns in a far greater game. They will bring me to Dorin so that I may defeat him for the last time.

View
Choices

Jhulaer De-Ath

Shortly after arriving in Vilistirith, we found ourselves enthralled with the culture shock of a city bursting at the seams with magic. Despite only residing on the surface for the last few years, it was almost unnerving to see such proud and blatant exhibitions by mages. My initial instinct was to run, to warn them that they needed to hide, but this fear was soon replaced by wonder as Blood Raven and myself began to soak in the reality of it. Thormin didn’t even seem to notice as we walked behind his massive bronze friend.

After a brief conversation, Blood Raven and I left Thormin to speak with his friend. After venturing into the city, we found our way to a local shop, and after a quick look around, we made a few purchases.

All the excitement we had experienced so far in this city seems inconsequential now considering what came next. From the street, a Dracos army camp was visible in the distance. Like a flashback, I saw the vision again in my mind, and was reminded that I saw Balidor attacked while standing in a military tent. After making our way to the edge of the camp, I took the form of an elven mage in the Dracos army, in hopes of gaining a little information, and before I knew it, I was face to face with the man who would one day become my good friend, and a man who’s face startled me even more, this being the face of my old friend Alton, but without his cheerful demeanor. This being his ancestor, the king of Dracos. Attempting a bit of honesty, I tried to explain my presence with a warning of an attempt on the life of Balidor, but upon taking issue with my garb, despite my claims of being a bounty hunter, I was soon detained. After removing myself from my bonds and giving the soldiers detaining me the slip, I took to the skies, as it turned out, with just enough time to see the flash of blue light, as my brother burst into existence. Putting on speed, and with a burst of energy, I held him fast with a spell, and managed to stop him from loosing the arrow he had strung. In the next few moments I managed to turn his body, still rigid with my hold person spell, away from any unwary innocents, and proceded to empty his quiver and attempt to slash away at his exposed throat. Despite my best efforts he refused to die. Exasperated, I let forth with a torrent of electrical energy from my dragon breath, which was enough to draw the attention of Thormin and Blood Raven. Snapping free from my spell, and lashing out, Zaknagloth sputtered, and in another radiating blue light just stretching far enough to encapsulate my comrades as the ran to join the fray, we blinked out of time.

We arrived in a place similar to the one we left, but the briefest of glances made it abundantly clear that we were somewhere in the distant future. However, this was not a future that one would be glad to see. Dry, dead land stretched as far as the eye could see, and the heaps of rubble where buildings once stood acted as monuments to the destruction that was clearly wrought here. We didn’t have time to take this in fully however, as our battle with my brother was far from over. Not long after our fight began, another blue light burst into the clearing , delivering yet another version of my brother to the battlefield, dividing our attention. Before the end, this second version left yet again in a flash, as we finished off the original.

The victory was short, however. Noticing movement on top of the heap of rubble, I had only a moment to react after seeing a swarm of Dorins pouring out of the remains of an inn. Grasping my friends, who were already preparing themselves for a fight, I drew from this strange power once more, giving my last ounce of energy to take us back to the time period we left.

Again, we were gone, and gasping on the shore of the lake, blue sky above, I let sleep take me.

View
The Descent

It’s a long way down…into the depths of your own madness.

View
Hope

Jhulaer De-Ath

This log will have to be short, as I don’t have much… time.

Time. I don’t even know what that means anymore.

I thought this day would go in a very different direction. We arrived at the prison, and with little effort had found our way inside. THe mages seemed to be left in an almost uneasy alliance with their captors, who as it seemed, owed the mages their lives in this desolate frozen wasteland. I found myself surprised. I had never expected the captive mages to be swayed by the kind faces of those who put them in chains. We had only begun to speak to them, when we heard of an Oracle in the prison. Balidor sought contact with her, and after he had finished, the rest of us entered to hear her counsel. With Blood Raven and Thormin, her words were cryptic, leaving nothing but unanswered questions, and mine were left the same. However, something drew me back into that room, something I needed to know.

I returned to her alone, for the sole purpose of gleaning some information about the strange blue light which had followed me since Raz’s death. She seemed, hesitant, but reached out her hand to touch mine, and found herself shocked by what she saw, and by the energy she felt even more however, her face displayed fear. Sweat dripping from her brow, the surprise dropped from her face as she told me that the power I had been given was just as I had suspected, and perhaps feared. Time. The powers of the time traveler Raz seemed to have been passed on to me, as I held him in those last moments.

There was more, and she put a hand to my temple sharing with me the vision she saw. A vision of my brother. My brother watching himself, watching me as I rode in the mage cart all those months ago. It didn’t make sense yet, but the vision continued, dropping my brother violently into different moments in my past, and into moments in the pasts of my companions, until he stopped at a moment some 200 years past, as he watched a young man, yet undeniably Balidor, speaking with a king who had a strong resemblance to a man I once knew. Tightening his bow, and muttering under his breath that this was his chance to hurt me, he let the arrow loose.

The vision ended.

In my mind I couldn’t tell if this was to happen, or if because it happened in the past, it had always happened, but rationalizing what I had seen, I couldn’t bring myself to check on Balidor. My fear was that knowledge of his fate outside this room would trap it’s reality in my mind, and cement the events in place. I called for Blood Raven and Thormin to enter the room, but as they did, I begged them not to speak. I used vague words, but stressed to them the dire nature of what I had just witnessed, and what I had just learned. I needed them. I knew I do it alone, but they needed to make that choice for themselves. Blood Raven answered first, as I thought he might. He has always been a fierce ally, and a trusted friend when few are still standing, but my gaze shifted to Thormin. I could tell he struggled with what I had told him. Even so, with a fierce look in his eyes, he unsheathed his blades and nodded.

I looked to the Oracle for guidance. She instructed that all I needed do, was will it.

As I did as she commanded, I saw the familiar blue light begin to glow brightly around me, growing larger and larger until it encased all three of us, and in a flash, we found ourselves atop a frighteningly tall tower watching a bronze dragon fly into the distance.

And without knowing if we had arrived at the right time or place, all we could do, was hope.

View
Certainty
Mages at Last

Blood Raven

We have found it! The mage prison. Finally our hardships after so many days will pay off. The journey from Velistirith to Baradur went far beyond the speed I thought possible. Aurelia, a lone mage herself, can make a dragon-less airship travel several thousand miles in two days. I can only wonder what kind of power an entire group of mages could hold together. At the same time I grow to understand Balidor’s initial thought; mage’s are damned souls. How does one limit such power?
The guards outside the prison were brought provisions by two mages, harnessing fire in the palm of their hand. I assume they are under a control, similar to the ones we saw near Torin. After the mages had left we agreed to have Thorman converse with the two guards and pose as a lone wanderer through the storm. Jhulaer maintained a position from above, finally getting a chance to stretch her wings. Once Throman had approached, one guard was sent back to inform his others. Jhulaer immediately responded by detaining the man with a spell, and Throman, unable to continue the route of negotiation, knocked out the other man with ease.
After another short struggle with one of the guards, we eventually attempted to simply knock on the door for admittance, avoiding any more sign of hostility. Jhulaer began to communicate via arcane messages through the door with another mage. An agreement was made and we met the commander of the fortress, a man by the name of George. We stated our intentions and found that they desired no bloodshed. He let us in after each side gave word to remain at ease. In the main room we saw around twenty, maybe thirty mages. Commander George stated that any mage wanting to leave with us was free to go. One of the mages, Calestra, spoke up indicating that they were supposedly well-kept here. The mages and guards seemed to develop a cohesive method of living. Out in the dead cold of Elaris they had to help each other survive. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Dracos soldiers and mages living together? Had we come all this way for nothing? Even after reasoning with George and asking him to leave with us as well, he refused to let go of his faith in Dracos, despite the trouble it has caused him. I respected him for this, and at the same time saw him a fool.
My friends and I discussed the situation, finally deciding to extend our offer to any mage willing to leave with us. We can’t free those who do not want to be free. Balidor desired to speak with an oracle mentioned by Calestra; alone. After Balidor had finished his conversation us three went in to speak with her. This oracle… I couldn’t stand her. The all-knowing insight she possessed. Claiming she felt uncertainty within us. A woman of lies. She was poisoning the thoughts of my friends. I know what I see to be true, not what another tells me I should know.
Finally Thorman and I left her presence. Jhulaer remained. I asked Balidor if he had learned anything about his power, but he said it only posed more questions. Upon being surrounded by magic users and my disgust with the oracle, I asked Balidor about learned magic. While in the army I was told one of the first things to be destroyed was books on magic. Balidor answered that there was a time when wizards would learn magic from text, but at the expense of several years in training. Time is simply something we do not have. After several minutes we were called to the oracle again. Jhulaer told us we were not to speak, but simply nod if we agreed to her explanation. She said the oracle had shown her brother, Zackngloth, in the past. He was going to kill someone currently living, thus altering the result of time. Despite my dislike for the oracle, I trusted Jhulaer’s judgment and nodded in agreement. Thorman hesitated, but eventually agreed as well. She told us to hold onto her and ready ourselves to deflect an arrow. A blue light emanated from her and we burst into a new location. She suddenly gasped for breath as if the wind had been knocked out of her; an echo of Roz. I looked. We are atop a massive tower. I broken lantern lies on the ground next to us. In the distance a bronze dragon flies away into the horizon. I haven’t the slightest clue of when we are.

View
A Heavy Heart

Jhulaer De-Ath

Thormin and I begin our walk back to camp after meeting with the thief, Thomas, without saying a word. There’s not much that needs to be said, but I’m deep in thought as it is, and my full attention is on the items. With a short amount of study, I can tell that the ring bearing the sigil of the king harbors no magical aura, but the amulet bearing the abhorrent symbol is another story entirely. It’s aura is threefold, containing conjuration, enchantment and transmutation magic, but what it does I cannot tell. After arriving at camp I inform the group of the items, and my intention to understand the effect of the amulet by putting it on.

Before the others can protest, I slip it around my neck. I’m tired of wasting time. If we wanted to understand what it did, someone would have to wear it, and I’m the best equipped to handle the magic if something is amiss.

The amulet is not what I expect. A growing pressure mounts upon my chest, as though a weight has been placed upon me, dragging me down as I struggle to stay in control. I begin to sweat, as speaking and answering the inquiries of Balador and the others becomes increasingly difficult. Strange thoughts begin to creep into my head articulating fears. Fears I have had, fears I didn’t know I had, and fears that were never fears before all brought to light in the wake of the twisted power of this artifact. Suddenly, I’m unconscious as Balador grabs the amulet from my neck.

When I awake, the amulet is away from me, hanging from a tree branch, and I begin the process of scrying for the king, first with the ring, which paints a strange picture of an event some time ago, (for what reason this happens, I am not sure) in which the king is murdered, and a shapeshifter takes his place. I relay this information to the others, and follow by scrying with the amulet. The scry reveals a dark room, difficult to see in, but as my eyes adjust I notice a figure in the corner which slowly moves close to me, until I can see in the dim beam of light, that the figure is Dorin, or at least one of the many aspects of him. He sees me, somehow. Through the scry and with his blind white eyes he sees me and begins to reach out his bony gnarled hand. Before he can “touch” me, I sever the connection, resolved to destroy the amulet.

The following moments are somewhat of a blur now, but I know that despite my best attempts with a disintegrate spell, the power of the amulet reflects my spell back upon me, leaving me at death’s door. If not for the quick action of Balador, I would have certainly died. Thormin buried the amulet to at least be rid of it, and after an attempt at scrying for Wesley Polluck, who appears to be asleep, I do the same.

We awake before dawn and begin the trek around the city walls to the skyport where we will meet with our ride. We pass a group beating a boy, and after scaring them off we learn that the boy’s name is Balador, despite this, the boy does not seem interested in our help.

As we continue our walk, I stop short. With a snap I feel the intense pressure upon my chest again as though the amulet were still there. It lessens and I’m able to carry on, still unnerved by the continued effects. Before reaching the ship, Thormin reveals to me that the night before, as we walked from the city, he noticed a blue light hovering around me. I explained the first time I saw the light, on the night of Roz’s death, but that I haven’t been able to determine the significance of the light.

We arrive at the ship and are greeted by our captain, who expresses his desire to leave the city as quickly as possible. After some sleep on the ship, we decide to explain everything about our plans and our enemies to our traveling companions, at which point it is revealed to us that my suspicions were correct, and that Arellia is in fact a mage, and that she’s even powering and controlling the ship with her magic.

Within a day we arrive in Baradur, and begin our trek into the snow and cold. It’s not long before we come across an encampment of Dracos soldiers, and I know that the heat of battle may soon warm us.

View
Awakening

Balidor

The pain. The screaming. Dorin. These are all I am able to see in my slumber. Haven’t I suffered enough at his hands? Can I not get a reprieve from his torture even in my dreams?

After some brief morning contemplation, by wounds begin to ooze. I am able to…successfully heal them with the powers I was once able to command, I don’t alert any of my companions…no need for them to fret further.

Bloodraven and Thorman spar for awhile before the latter and Jhulaer head into town to speak with their contact Tomas.

Whilst we wait for their return, Blood Raven starts questioning me about my stance on mages. A question no one has ever bothered to ask me. I did not hold my tongue, and answered honestly: mages are damned souls to me, always have been. Not a popular belief compared to my companions, and given my company. But that is my nature. However, the methods in which the churches and government took when they laid sanctions on the mages were wrong and immoral.

A thought hits me during the discussion. I let Blood Raven know that no matter what happens to not do anything. I attempt a feat I have only read about in ancient tomes and holy texts, I attempt to commune with my patron deity, whomever it may be. What I find is…unexpected; a simple, dusty chapel with one door at the end. I cautiously walk through it into blinding light, and nearly an identical chapel. Save for the fact that it is completely clean and a throne sits at one end. An investigation reveals nothing but disappointment. No God reveals themselves to me…perhaps this is a sign, I must forge my own path, decide my own destiny, do with my powers what I will no matter what omnipotent presence gave them to me.

I return to the material world with nothing. But a single voice echoes within my mind with a single verse “The Blood has awakened him.”

View
The Seeds of Doubt

Thorman

Balidor lives. Against all odds, my friend breathes again. I know I shouldn’t be surprised as we were both resurrected to be here in the first place, but the overwhelming sense of relief drowns anything else out. I care so much about this man, this group… I’d forgotten. I’d forgotten the warmth of compassion—the all-enveloping blanket of emotion when a friend … dies. So many… so many of my friends, my companions, have died. This all comes swimming to the surface of my mind but all I can focus on is… Balidor lives.

It’s all that matters right now.

He questions how… why… questions I understand but don’t need answers for. He’s still here, that is what matters and I tell him that. Blood Raven excuses himself, I think to fetch some water… my mind is foggy… thick with relief and happiness. Then, through the haze… Hubert. That elf, the one they call Pain, named for the very blade I used to carry on my left hip. It was Hubert. I saw him only for a second but it was enough. I heard him. That demeanor was all too familiar. You can copy someone’s appearance easily enough… but their mind?

A scream from downstairs. I look to Balidor and Jhulaer and bolt down the stairs to the bar. I turn the corner and see a man smash a chair over Blood Raven’s back. Blood Raven yells something to the man unheard by me. I charge. The man is knocked flat..out of breath. I over did it. He’s just a villager… nonetheless I knock him unconscious. As I go to check on Blood Raven, I see a disturbing sight. An elf… the bartender lies bleeding on the floor. A small incision peers out from behind the blood… small but deep. “It was Pain!” Blood Raven says. I see the blood on his rapier… damnit! I know this sickness too well. But there is a chance to save him, the bartender. I take the man in my arms and start upstairs; there’s only one man who can save him now.

Jhulaer stands at the stairs. She offers to stand watch and alert us if someone comes. Blood Raven follows me but seems to fall behind. No matter. I get the man to Balidor and explain it’s Blood Raven’s handiwork. Balidor is not pleased, but does what he can. He bathes the man in radiant light, a similar relief fills me but doesn’t last. The light fades and the man lies motionless. I check his pulse. Dead. We are unsure as to what went wrong. I leave Balidor bewildered to see what’s keeping Blood Raven.

Blood Raven is on his knees in the hall mumbling something. No time for this. I pick him up and tell him to keep himself together. Juhlaer orders us to get inside the room. I listen. I don’t know what to expect next but I need to know if Blood Raven might be infected… might have been poisoned by Dorin. I ask.

He has no answers.

Balidor is more direct with his questioning. He pins Blood Raven against the far wall and tells him of his mistakes. First Balidor and now this man; when will it end? Jhulaer appears and exclaims, “We need to go!” I offer up the memory of the lake outside the southern gate, and we vanish.

By the lake Jhulaer tells us that the elves had found us, that they seem to be able to locate us at will. Both Balidor and I are unsure as to why we flee from something as simple as an elf. Jhulaer answers with a shaky, frightened assurance. “You cannot fight them.” When we ask her why, she shows me.

Jhulaer’s memory flows into me and I find myself in a clearing watching as these two elves, Pain and Suffering, taunt and play with a young catfolk… telling him he has to choose who will die. Pain is manic, jovial even, as Hubert was in the beginning. Suffering is stoic and silent; the Hubert that lost his memory. The catfolk makes his choice and Pain raises a hand to reveal a glowing gem in his palm… again, Heubert. The large cat that the young one was guarding vanishes… but to me… it’s almost slowed down. I see her being eaten away… piece by piece… something far too recognizable for me. This power…whatever these elves wield it acts just like the Storm.

I return to the lake from within myself unsure of what to think. So many questions: who are they… how do they have this power… is there any fighting them… should we?

Two guards approach from the city, one young, one old. The elder seems confident, hand on hilt, and informs us that the younger saw us “appear” as if out of nowhere. I try to come up with a reason for our appearance but my mind is muddled, cluttered… the state of Terra infuriates me. We have enough to consider and accomplish without having to hide. The general seems certain of us… and not just Jhulaer. He knows of all of us it seems… even me.

He introduces himself as Wesley Pollick, General of the Velisirith army. Jhulaer begins to converse with him; despite what she is she seems to have a knack for getting through to people. He speaks of the state of Terra and the goings on of this city… but I hear little… too much has just happened, too little remains unanswered. And Dorin lives. Somewhere he lives.

I catch talk of the royal family that started the mage genocide, one called the Dandins. I hear of a high priest that burned down his church here in Velistirith. A glance to Balidor reveals little. Finally, I hear that Count Verimont, who we had attempted to meet in Starspire and who Blood Raven had had conference with, is dead. Blood Raven seems surprised as we all do. He reveals that he stabbed his own father in an attempt to make him see reason… at least, that is how he put it… this does not bode well. I fully believed Blood Raven’s acts of violence to be not of his own free will, but now… I question the man’s very nature. I trusted him. I make for the lake in an attempt to wash the blood from my hands… to wash away the last several hours.

Wesley returns to the city, and Blood Raven asks to be alone. He makes for the distant forest. Jhulaer and I discuss our plans… a silent Balidor sits motionless. I wonder if he wrestles with the same turmoil as I, if he wishes he’d stayed dead… with her. Jhulaer and I agree Blood Raven shouldn’t be alone, and make for the forest as well. Jhulaer suddenly sprouts wings and ascends far beyond my reach…beautiful… it’s pleasant to see something so free… so against what this world has become. As I walk I glance back to Balidor. He remains seated..unmoving. I can’t bring myself to interrupt his thoughts so I walk.

I see the flicker of fire from the tree line as I get closer. I only walk a small ways into the trees until I see him… Blood Raven… but he’s different. He holds the singed remains of his outfit in his arms…and weeps.

Again… Hubert.

I’ve seen someone try to remove a piece of who they are and it never turns out how they hoped. He needs this armor… it’s his strength… but I feel he may be too reliant on it. He has his own strength after all. I tell him this but I don’t know if it helps. Jhulaer stands by as Blood Raven dons his armor, and I see him in all his imperfection. We are all scarred, all broken… and it’s what makes us strong.

Meanwhile, while Balidor sits and contemplates the implications of all that has happened, a little girl approaches from the city. “Are you ok?” She asks. “I’m fine. Thank you.” Balidor replies. The girl gives him the doll she was holding and explains it is one of four. She says while for now it will protect you, it will return to me and the other three. Together, they are strong. Balidor accepts the doll with quiet humility, and makes to join his friends in the forest.

As I make it to the treeline, I gaze out at the distant city of Velistirith. Balidor is making his way back to us… to me… Jhulaer… Blood Raven. We all stand together, and everything seems a little clearer in the light of this new day.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.