Scars of Suldairia

What Now? (Lai)
Yep, Baulder's gonna get us all killed

Things have come a long way since Norsoon…

Time has proven no balm for my feelings about Nebuchadnezzer. While some religions could be described as an assault upon my sensibilities, I’ve never felt like it was my place to judge such things. While it may have been some time since any of the gods in this realm have walked the continent of Suldairia, only the most dim-witted or determined could deny their existence.

I have seen enough to know it true; while there are certainly other explanations for the power behind priestly magics, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. And I’m beyond being able to deny the existence of Nebuchadnezzer, this White Lord.

I find it telling that my first true learning of his worshipers spoke of the atrocities they’d committed. The few followers I’ve had the chance and inclination to speak to on the matter have had little to say but that, “He’s just so great!” I can’t claim to have the wit to navigate the courts of my own people, but something about it bothered me, even then. I can name ten reasons I chose to become a wizard, but these people can name only one for following their god? It reminds me of something… almost like magics that cloud the mind, or change the paths of thought.

I am hardly the elf to philosophise on such matters, but it disturbs me more the more I learn of it. Already, more than half the continent worships the White Lord; anyone who refuses to convert is put to death – usually by fire. My people remain in the forests, likely preaching the usual wisdom of patience… I can understand it, and there are so many good reasons for it… But I think that it will fail against Nebuchadnezzer. Only recently, his warriors were hammering on Montano’s door, solars and other beings in tow, clearly prepared to destroy what seems like one of the greatest threats to the empire I can only guess they are forging.

And I suppose that leads to what disturbs me so much about this situation: Montano, the Dark Lord of Raister, arcane despot to his people, abomination before nature, is the only thing I see clearly standing in the way of the White Lord’s advance… Yet this situation is ANYTHING but black-and-white.

This twisted creature, sustained only by warping the Weave into unforgivable patterns, does all it can to hold Raister in its grip while his general has abandoned him, insurrection threatens, and an army marches around his countryside. And, somehow, some way, Montano has negotiated a ceasefire… Is it temporary? What does he hold that tempts the White Lord? The only thing I can think of his Cecilia; Nebuchadnezzer wants her son, and Montano has used her to hold Anastasis in bondage before… But I can’t know what he has planned for certain.

What I do know is that the Raisteri have always been the war-mongers to the South, and the elves’ most obvious enemy. Her armies have not marched of late – the warmachine (what a TERRIBLE, human concept!) is silent and unmoving – nobody quite knows what to make of this.

And that horrible scene with the child! I absolutely will not write of it. If trying to invade my homeland through the Vale was not enough, I don’t think I can ever forgive him for that one.

Ai, we’ve come here chasing a thread of connection between Raister and the recent events in Norsoon, only to find a pattern emerging on the loom, but one I have not the skill to understand; it is not yet complete. Oh, if only I had spent more time learning the courts and their subtle ways I might have some clue as to where to search next.

And yet, I’m coming to know my heritage better. I’ve seen things I dare not write of, and they’ve brought me much appreciation for my past. I’ve even sent prayers to the Seldarine… It had been years since I thought overmuch on them. When I next return home, I know just the Elf I need to speak to about it..

I really should read that book, the Origins of my people.

And while I’m on that topic, Rasgo! I can’t believe how he’s been behaving lately! He has kept us in the dark about many, many dangers… And I’m still a little miffed he didn’t turn that book over to me right away. And on top of that all, he’s asking me to go acquire mithral from my people! I’ve met trees smart than that human. And not even Awakened trees! I can’t help but think that having him around is nearly as dangerous as having Istoaufrien around…

And Isto! Twice now, he’s tried to kill me and my friends! That mask of his will bring us nothing but woe… He’s claimed many times that he is trying to mend his ways, to tread a brighter path. Leaf and lentil, how can you claim such and still make bargains with that mask? Oh, sure, “We have an understanding.” Naive human! The mask has an understanding; you do not.

Why do I travel with these people?

I suppose Baulder is the only real answer… With Rose gone, the only one in this group of travelers I truly care for is him. Why can’t all humans be like him? He’s such a conundrum! How can any human, especially one from Raister of all places, be so much like our younger elves? Perhaps he has some faeling blood, or was born under the right energies. I don’t know. At least he’s started talking to me again – for some time, I feel like our friendship has been waning. But, oh sweet Seldarine, he’s grown in so many ways! I was even able to talk him through the most basic of arcane exercises! It’s a long step from what almost seemed like a fear of the Weave. But I can sort of understand a fear of magic being a healthy thing in Raister. Oh, poor Baulder.

Amben is as quiet and brooding as ever. I’ve been glad a number of times to have her and Kai with us. And yet, I feel I should be speaking with her more; I know so little about her, and she’s, well. Honestly, she’s a little scary. Mostly because of that wolf.

Alara has been traveling with us since Norsoon. I cannot claim to know her mind, but she must feel lost without her temple. I know she’s been trying to help some of the more unfortunate people of Raister. She knows some of the situation, but I don’t think we’ve yet shared it all with her – we really should do that sometime soon. I’m more than certain that Baulder lives yet only because of Ilmater’s blessing, directed through her. I hope she will stay with us for a while – these are dangerous times, and another armour-clad companion is welcome indeed.

Another among our new companions is Rabdao. He’s… an elf, but he’s new at it. At first I thought my comment about his human side got through to him. I’ve spoken with him a little on the matter: it is much deeper than that. In any case, I hope to bring him to my people some day soon – surely a feast is in order to welcome him among us!

And then there’s Mamori. She has about as much sense as a stone at the bottom of a river, and not nearly as much patience. She’s probably going to get us all killed one of these days. At least she’s keeping Isto occupied – and, given her penchant for changing her form, and her usual guise of a barely-pubescent human child, even that is questionable. Those two are a sure recipe for trouble.

Nathaniel has returned. He as as canny as ever, and probably one of our few hopes for figuring this whole disaster out. He’s not bad for a human. I like the guy.

And Nidalee! Oh, gods above, she’s so different from Rasgo! She has the energy of youth, a good sense of humour, and her powers don’t seem to have come from being dropped on her head as a child. So different! He seems to have trouble talking to people, but Nidalee just jumps right in. And the pranks she’s played on Rasgo! And she told us about the time he peed himself! I like her already.

Each day, as I learn of the goings-on of Suldaria, I am more and more tempted to retreat into my homeland, find some passage to another plane, and spend a couple of decades working with the Weave. If it weren’t for the obvious threat that everything happening poses to my people, I’d say my few friends in this realm are the only thing that really keep my tethered to all these troubles. And I really shouldn’t forget that there’s a rather angry dragon out there somewhere…

[Below this is a half-page drawing of a scary dragon stomping on some flowers, and a nude woman running away from it. It’s not exactly the best drawing, but the woman does look a little familiar.]

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The events of the past few days(Isto)
Isto

I have not been keeping my journal updated as much as I normally would like. My nightly schedule as been… altered for the better. These are the events that have transpired over the past couple of days.

Back in the ruin, Rabdao was revived. It was nice seeing his face again with life in it. Lai did mention how we have to quickly leave. We gathered our tools, including some of those nifty door spikes. Those will come in great use one day. We started our walk to…. hell if I know. Baulder said he grew up here in Raister, and he wants to go visit his mother. I will help him reach there, for I do not wish to keep someone from their kin. It would be nice to have to worry about family members….

Lai was being extremely foolish for DRINKING while walking down a dangerous mountain pass. He was lucky no one fell down the mountain side. We also ran across Raistery soldiers. Some interesting words were passed between Baulder and them… They did mention how I looked out of uniform. Apparently my new clothes are some older model of a military uniform. I will have to get these altered and pick up another set of clothes once we find a town.

On the path we came across an AMAZING woman. Her battle skill was exceptional. Her form was amazing. I mean her battle form. Those blades of hers, deadly and beautiful. We talked briefly and she agreed to train me on how to use them. Spring loaded blades that are hidden within a gauntlet apparatus. These things will help me keep a low profile while being armed. I will never again find myself unarmed.

That night we did have a little dinner together and I explained myself with the mask. Moxi understands me I know that. The others still seem to not trust me with it. They are just going to have to deal with it. The Mask and I are one, it is something they must deal with if I am to stay with them.

After dinner, Moxi mentioned how she wanted to learn the path of the Mind Warrior. I attempted to teach her how to focus. Not everyone has the talent to use their mind such as Mind warriors and Will Workers do. I told her to meditate upon memories and strong emotions. It was difficult for me to describe the process, for it is nearly second nature for me to be focused. Her strongest point was her thinking about me going to fight the displacer-beasts by giving into the mask.. I felt terrible about that. But she seemed to think of another memory and she was really close. I could feel it, her mind just needed a push. Assuming she was thinking about me, I leaned in and kissed her. That seemed to work well and she was able to hold the focused state for a minute or so before she lost it. It was a start. I also taught her to way of speaking telepathically. It took a while for her to focus on doing it, but with speaking to me she seemed to be doing well.

I went downstairs to get us a little treat, when Nathaniel walked in with a woman named Cecelia, mentioning how she wanted to speak to Rasgo. Everyone was out trying to find Alara, so I summoned Rasgo as best as I could. Shortly everyone came, including a blind Alara. I fear she used the power of her god to cure someone’s blindness. She did mention it will take time for it to go away.

Cecelia gave us alot of information…. multiple times. Rasgo and Baulder were both frantic and not thinking with their heads. Baulder NEVER thinks with is head but that is beside the point. She mentioned how a man named Voodoo looks exactly like Baulder. I assume this man is his father, though Baulder is trying to deny it. We spoke how he needs to hide himself.

But this Voodoo seems to be getting a promotion to the position of Cecelia’s son, Anastasis, General of the Armies. Voodoo already had the title Lord of Shadow, leader of a spy network. She also mentioned how Anastasis is on the run with Rasgo’s sister, and she is slowing him down. Nathaniel agreed to go get her and bring her here so that Anastasis can escape into Kendora. She had to repeat this information about a half a dozen times a piece for Baulder and Rasgo to understand the gravity of the situation. She kept having to do a magick ward so that no information could be overheard by magick or psionic forces.

The next day, Moxi and I went to go train with Soryu. I did manage to hit myself on accident a few times, but I did pick it up quite quickly. When I returned to town, I ordered a set of them to be made… The others apparently wanted to stalk me while I was purchasing them. The elves were giggling in the corner of the shop like young female children. Rasgo was being as invasive as ever, leaning over as I am trying to have a private discussion with the man, figuring out price and semantics. Then there was Mamori… that THING she found apparently could shoot fire and she is trying to figure out how to use it on a more frequent basis… She seemed to be drawing attention to herself and Lai walked over and intervened. I just tried to separate myself from their shenanigans as I was trying to do business.

We all ate in Lai’s room that night, to talk about the things we are doing in town. I mentioned that I would be taking care of the dragon parts in the morning, for I found that Soryu’s village is a trustworthy place to get such a task done without bringing too much attention. I mentioned on how we ALL need to keep a low profile, due to how it looks of a group of us coming here and spending gold. We need to be smart about this. We did go over the loot from the ruins. I was able to keep that crossbow I found, and everyone gave me a pair of boots. Between these boots and the cloak we found, I am able to sneak upon people MUCH better than I used to.

I went to bed early so the Mask and I could talk. It has been silentl ever since the Illithid. Apparently it does not remember anything from there, but it feels satisfied. It doesn’t even remember our pact. And I did try to ask what it was. It was then calling me pet names. Little nick names that lovers would give to each other. It does not seem to be jealous of my relationship with Moxi. I am not certain how to deal with this. Apparently Moxi and Amben were in the room when I was speaking to it. I did seem to freak them out when I stopped talking to the Mask. I did voice to Moxi I was not in the mood for granting her what is on her thoughts (Which does seem to be in my head more often. She does need to learn to filter her telepathic voice).

Next morning I picked up Malphite upon the request of Rasgo, and the 3 of us (Malphite, Moxi and myself) went out for training. We were demonstrating our powers. I taught Soryu how to do my newest power, to spread the injuries that were inflicted upon me to others. She taught Moxi and I how to jump in midair by conjuring a psychic barrier to jump from, and a way to make blows not hurt as much.

That night we had a meeting with everyone up in some sort of extra-dimensional pocket. We were discussing a great many things. I did mention how I would take Baulder mask shopping, so we can hide his face. We were also considering a jailbreak to get information out of a prisoner. Rasgo, Baulder and I demonstrated some of our newest tricks. Alara does not seem happy that I was able to take her gods power and “pervert it” as she put it. While we were all up in this pocket, Lai mentioned that a stranger was in our room and it left a note. We quickly dispersed. I went to the room with Moxi.. It was shortly after that Rabdao came to the door telling us the person left a note that All members of the city were to meet in the center square for an announcement. I was unphased. My homeland has done similar things. I thought it was a promotion, a declaration of war, or a new public enemy. I decided to go retreat to the room and lock myself in the bedroom. I needed to talk with the Mask alone.

It spoke how it would agree with our original pact, but with a price to be paid. It wanted me to feed it with blood. I tried to tell it we are in the middle of a war between a lich and a god. But it wanted something now. It wanted to be satisfied. If I couldn’t give it blood, it said it wanted sex. It DARED to mention Moxi in that fashion. I will NOT let it ravish her. I will do things on my OWN time scheduled. It mentioned how when my father had the mask, he let it ravish my mother. At that point I just lost it. I started screaming in my demonic tongue and I was tearing up the room. Moxi and Baulder overheard me. I lost my cool and threw a fit. I did manage to calm down and the Mask and I agreed upon something. I was going to buy a high class woman of the night for it to ravish. So that no one I know would be hurt, and I can do what I want when I want then it comes to Moxi and me. We got really close that night.

The meeting in the town square wasn’t to far off my original guess. They were showing a public torture of a traitor-to-the-state’s child. Not as professional as public executions I am used to, but this place works differently. That night I did do what the mask wanted, and I picked up some information about what was going on. It was not much, but its better than nothing.

Woke up Baulder and Moxi early that morning to go mask shopping for Baulder. Sometimes that boy is SOO dense. I cant believe I had to explain HOW to put a mask on. I did mention on how he needs to change his demeanor. He does not like having to do this, but I put it in terms he could understand: If he does not do this he could bring terrible danger upon the people he cares for.

Now today was productive as well. Got all my toys picked up, got the gems appraised (though I decided to use a few of them to get a necklace made for Moxi, no one will no really), and my new outfit is done.

Rasgo mentioned how Malphite was acting funny. He told me some of his secrets… But I feel he is messing with powers he doesn’t understand. Nightmares are powerful things, and doing this… well. I dont think he is properly afraid of these things. He DARED to compare what he is doing with the mask. I know the Mask’s potential of evil. I know what I am messing with. And there are only one of the Mask versus a whole PLANE of these things. I Told him to NEVER do anything like that again. And be MUCH more cautious when shapeshifting. I told him to never do it again around Moxi without me being there. He is keeping some secret that I fear that will get us into trouble.

Rabdao and Baulder are mentioning doing this Jailbreak…. This is a terrible idea.

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Rasgo's Inner Meditation Journal (Adventure 39)
Rasgo journal

After some personal study, I met with the others to go to the town meeting. It was a gruesome event. Montano showed his cruelty and potential generosity as he tried to convince everyone to turn in Cecelia, the black mage, and her son. I left, sickened at the thought of what I had just witnessed. Rabdao lost all reasoning and wanted to go out and oppose them immediately without planning. The rest of us kept our heads a little better.

We had a meeting and I tried to get everyone to do more actual planning and to use logic to determine what’s a good idea vs a bad idea. We determined that although Rabdao was the only one who initially wanted to do the jailbreak, I was slowly being convinced after hearing about how the task could potentially be done. But we still didn’t have enough information to make a wise decision. We needed Isto for this meeting, and he was gone doing something that was secret and important for the night according to Mamori.

We also concluded that we need to head down to see Baulder’s mother after we leave and that we must go over the mountain to get to the elven lands safely from Kendora. By the time the meeting ended, I felt much better about our group’s ability to make decisions as a team. I needed to spar with someone experienced and got a few volunteers. Mamori and I followed Rabdao to a location that he used to practice earlier and I shifted to a few different forms. The cryohydra felt odd, but very rewarding, and my speech was understandable too. The wyvern was more comfortable on the ground, but not very reliable in the air yet. The rukanyr was very uncomfortable and something that seemed like it came straight from nightmares. I thought Rabdao would have nightmares, but I was mistaken, it would be me very soon with nightmares coming true before me.

During the last spar, we were approached by two lovers on a night stroll and I immediately shifted back to normal. The lovers walked by and only saw Rabdao sparring alone in a patch of destroyed forest as Mamori and I hid and watched. On the way back, I walked and practiced moving and talking as an annis hag. This humanoid form was very comfortable and felt like a taller version of myself, but a lot stronger. I liked the way the form appeared deceptively weak.

During my sleep, I awoke to some dulling effect on me. When I asked Malphite if he noticed anything, there was no response. Immediately, I knew something was wrong, but what? There was a psionic dulling effect surrounding Malphite, no matter where he was moved. Isto and Mamori arrived as I was trying to figure out what was happening out in the hallway. Mamori didn’t ask many questions and I was thankful. Isto, who I trusted with as much information that I could give without compromising the rest of my surviving relatives, asked away telepathically.

I explained as much as I could about the origins of what was going on when there was a loud telepathic screech and Malphite screamed “Kalaraq!” before going silent. Whatever happened was over. Isto and Mamori left and returned. During that time, I healed Malphite the best I could and could sense that he was doing something like sleeping in some state of recovery. As I tried to comfort him, Isto returned and tried to wrap his mind around what happened.

After an extended telepathic conversation between us, I was on the receiving end of a be careful speech and Isto was the one giving it. Things have change so much. Isto seemed to only be concerned with Maori’s safety, and mildly concerned with the safety of the rest of the group. I think he confuses her girlish figure with helplessness. Is he in love? And if so, why did he just explain how he let the mask have high class sex using his body? Whatever he has to do for this mask gets stranger and stranger.

I had another vision while I cradled Malphite in my room in silence…
… I was running for my life, unaware of how I would escape. I could no longer see what was chasing me in the darkness, but I knew it was still back there. I quickly turned into a dragonfly and flew away at full speed, flying through the canopy of trees…

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Rasgo's Inner Meditation Journal (Adventure 38)
Rasgo journal

This morning, Isto stopped by. We chatted for a few minutes and I gave him three important things: 2 buckets of salve to last through early afternoon sparring, and Malphite. The sparring and training would include Soryu, Isto, and Mamori. Isto claimed that him and Soryu were evenly matched, and that he was handicapped by a new weapon type. I’m not so sure.

Throughout the day, I was alone, meditating, shedding away the old skin, like a snake. This allowed for the new, better skin to take its place. As I meditated, I retreated back to the visions I’ve had all my life. I remembered what was effective, and what wasn’t. I remembered what I liked, and what I didn’t care for.

I practiced swinging phantom limbs and wings in my mind, as I focused, watching everything with my third eye. There were no interruptions throughout the day, just concentration and focus. My breathing slowed down to a deep breath once per minute or so. I could feel my heart beat slowly every few seconds as I reached a truly relaxed state. At some point, I fell asleep when I was done. The sleep felt as good as the elven magic water sleep. I was so relaxed. I woke up to knocking at the door.

As I stood, I was invigorated and alive with new energy. It was like some energy stoppage was cleared within me. This is how it should feel. As I approached the door, I noticed the distinct lack of Malphite with me. It was odd, we had never spent this kind of time away. Lai had invited everyone to dinner for a secret meeting in his room.

We entered an extra-dimensional space at the top of a rope, out of site of magically scrying eyes and ears. Lai reiterated some of the things that Cecelia told us earlier, and added a few things. Apparently, there’s a lot of commotion about Baulder being in town. He has been all around town showing his face, even after my warnings the past few days. I cannot supervise him all day long, but I may need to send Malphite with him to remind him to be careful all day. I think Malphite would enjoy the sparring that would surely happen.

Lai also told us about someone in prison that may have information about the events happening. This guy is chained with orichalcum chains, so it must be important that he remain in prison. We intend to release him and obtain his information. Rabdao seems to think that the chains are very valuable, but not worth taking to give to Cecelia to help pay for a protective spell or item that her and her son need. He thinks that we would be easy to find with such powerful magic on us. I wondered if putting the chains in a lead box would do the trick, like the magic book, but didn’t bring that up.

Instead of using the priceless chains, we plan to steal from Montano’s Fort south of here to help Cecelia and Anastasia go into hiding. But that’s several days away, right now, we have bigger problems that require more comprehension. We also heard about how the White Lord and Montano are enemies and the only things preventing each other from taking over the continent. Now they’ve made some kind of truce, stopping their fighting. We need to help create a third group to defeat them both when they’ve weakened each other.

I gave the group a small amount of information about my changes and showed them Malphite and myself in new forms. Malphite was an eagle, and I was a pixie. My flying was barely less clumsy than the first attempt. Baulder, as usual, couldn’t mentally take it. I explained how I had grown out of some of my powers, and how they’d never see the constructs again. Nobody seemed to understand it, and I couldn’t explain since I didn’t understand it either. I’d never heard of anything like this happening before.

Isto showed a new power that heals him by hurting someone else. It’s like the reverse of empathic transfer. Baulder showed us something he’s been practicing where he rages like the minotaur, but his sword also glows orange. He doesn’t exactly what’s happening, but likes it. He collapsed after a few seconds though. I advised him to not use that technique at the jail breakout.

Shortly after, we were distracted by Lai’s detection of scrying magic in the room below us. Something was looking for us. When it was clear, we exited, all falling on Baulder to cushion our fall. Lai urged everyone out of the room as he investigated a piece of magic paper left behind in the room.

I was practicing my new forms when Rabdao knocked on the door with a message. That paper said that everyone must meet in the town square at midnight. It is a summons from the Dark Lord. Whatever it is, we’ll have to change our vague plans accordingly.

I tried my best to make sure that we were as prepared as possible for what would happen in the near future, but nobody seemed to care about planning like I cared. I must be prepared for anything, to keep everyone safe by whatever means necessary. The future plans with the jailbreak and robbery can’t result in any of our deaths. It just can’t.

As I walked down the hallway, out of the room, I had another vision…
… I was a choker standing still with my long arms dangling to my sides. I was manifesting powers at twice my normal speed. In several seconds, I used most of my power for the day… before a terrible creature came out of nowhere. A grotesque, bulbous, flying mass that extrudes three thick tendrils, each one capped with a eyeball that augments the central eye in its body. Three pairs of stubby wings protruded from along the sides of its disgusting form, and as imbalanced as the creature seemed to be, it was difficult to see how they can possibly support its weight. There was a whirlwind of shadow about it’s slimy, bulbous, eye covered mass, and from that shadow came tentacles- three of them, and they seized me! They came so fast, I couldn’t even see them before they were upon me. I tried to move away, but I had already spent so much of my power, I could not escape. It pulled me in toward it, my vision just full of that big, yellow, hideous eye, and it began to squeeze- and then I woke.

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Calm before the storm (Rabdao)

Much has happened since Master Baulder, Alara, and I stood steadfast against a horde of displacer beasts. We were defending Esteemed Lai as he deftly manipulated a complex puzzle of levers and pedestals somehow connected to opening the entrances to this cunning trap. I know I must improve myself somehow to contribute better to the defense of Alara and Baulder if I am to continue with their adventuring party. Most of the battles I have experience with were training exercises with my masters or the occasional brigand. Even in Norsoon when fighting against the onslaught of undead, I had the benefit of being able to rely on time to prepare and focus for battle. How woefully prepared I was for true battle, real danger, and mere moments to defend against horrors that face us.

I have had this evening to think about what I must do. Maybe summoning as my sister once did will aid until I can center myself to sync with my oversoul. I did not feel as those lessons would ever come to use. My elven teachers of the arcane told me I had such potential. If they had only seen my sister…

We are preparing to enter another puzzle room it seems. Every one we encounter seems more intricate in design than the next, something powerful must be hidden here…something sacred. We must stop whatever is defiling these ruins. Even esteemed Lai seems to be resonating with them, communicating to whatever ancient spirits haunt these halls. Oakhurst…a name previously only but a whisper to me. I must stop my writing for now, Master baulder has called me forth to scout ahead bolstered by my oversoul. Maybe this locket can help us decode these ruins— mirrors within mirrors is amusing even if it is only to myself.

We have solved the puzzle. All these puzzles should be this non-lethal if I had my choice. Excitement does run through my blood, but my heart would shatter if tragedy befell my companions. I am not sure I could cope with any more tragedy and death befalling those that stand for justice and peace. This world is cruel enough with out devout clerics like Alara succumbing to its cruel will. The next room is beautiful in its macabre way. Exquisite murals line the walls depicting pastoral and hunting scenes by my elven ancestors. The skeletons taking residence seemed locked in a perpetual wait for something that may never come. Lai does not seemed to be phased with their deaths, he weeps more for the dust caking the floor than their bleached skulls. Isto and mamori have spied two doors in which to investigate. Baulder and Rasgo have already spied the one to the right only finding another training room. Isto recommends that we hasten to the one on the left, we are wasting our time with anything more. Whatever stalks these halls awaits us there he says. We must steel our hearts, battle is waiting. As I draw breath I shall not let anything befall my comrades— even as the last drop of blood leaves my body i will defend them to the last after all they have done for Norsoon. They embody hope even if they choose not to recognize it. Remember my teachers lessons, my sisters prodigous abilites— if i can just summon an ounce of her power I may be able to bolster their strength.

A fleeting memory of my grandmothers words flashes to the forefront—“Understanding comes from within my little hawk”. It is humorous that life’s lessons only come to fruition after so much trial and tribulation. We are entering the room now, it is time to shed my youth and own up to the responsiblities i have been given— come inagyo, we go to battle!

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Rasgo's Inner Meditation Journal (Adventure 37)
Rasgo journal

I got a ping and left the group, running back to the inn to investigate the potential source. When I arrived, I saw Nathaniel sitting next to an old, nice looking woman named Cecelia, and Isto and Mamori settling in at the table. She told me that my parents were dead, and that my sister, Nidalee was on the run with her son, Anastasia. I didn’t want to believe her, but soon did.

Her son is on the run as a deserter from the militia in Raister. After being the Lord of Shadows for a long time, he was promoted to general when his father died as a replacement. As the general, leading all of the armies, Anastasia was Montano’s most prized muscle. Montano, will be extremely angry when he finds out and will have Raister up in arms in 3, now 2 days looking for him. Montano returns to the Raister capital, Helmsford, soon.

Anastasia is determined to get Nidalee to me, even at his own peril. He can evade capture alone, but Nidalee is slowing him down because she’s not as fast as he is. He even had to carry her through the night so that they wouldn’t have to rest. She thinks she’s in love with him, but is willing to part ways for their safety. Once apart, she won’t be chased, and he will be able to disappear easily as a former Lord of Shadows.

She also explained that Baulder looks like the Lord of Shadows, who is currently the General. The current Lord of Shadows is self named Voodoo.

Cecelia used magic to allow me to talk to Nidalee temporarily. The plan that was formulated included Nathaniel traveling to meet them at his full speed, while they continue to run. Nathaniel will bring Nidalee here, to Suria, in a few days. Once separated, Anastasia will be able to vanish and be relatively safe.

Cecelia has the ability to hear telepathic speech without it being directed toward her. She knows some powerful magic and has clearly been doing it for a long time. She’s some type of arcane mage. She is happy to give knowledge and showed me how to extract hundreds of tiny glands from a dragon head and explained the value of some of the parts. I gave her some of my dragon parts so that she could use them as spell components. She did some amazing things to magically extract them. With Cecelia’s advisement, Alara will cast the spell, gentle repose, on the dragon parts that prevents further decay.

The next morning, I contacted Nidalee with a new power I just completed. All is as well as it can be. Afterwards, I contacted the Cloud Makers on the Astral plane, using the directions given by the broken psionic skin that they created, a skin of proteus. They explained to me that I needed to give them a pint of blood, the broken skin, a mithril ingot, 10 pounds of ectoplasm, and enough time to learn how to make a couple of psionic items.

I later found out that the mithril ingot is worth a fortune here, but is far cheaper in the elven lands, where it’s more common and mined. Lai said that he would go to the elven lands and get the mithril for me, which is around 2 days ride from here. Cecelia said that she would be able to get me to the Astral plane to do business with these beings. The rest should be simple enough to provide.

After studying a new healing power half of the day and practicing my new powers for a while, I felt like I no longer cared as much about my older favorite powers. It was like I had grown out of the need for them as I came into my own. It’s difficult to describe, but it was as if I knew I was letting them go, and was happy and proud of myself for doing it.

I tried to manifest a construct, and as expected, it no longer worked. I no longer needed their protection. I shot some ectoplasm, and it required some of my power this time, but it lasted longer too. Things would be different and exciting.

After noticing the changes, I had another vision…
…I was a tiny orange cat, playing with a child in lavish room. I was counting the number of guards as well as assessing the difficulty of having to fight everyone in the room alone. My collar dangled loosely, and I knew I wouldn’t be alone…

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Charismatic Rocks (Amben)

I knew I didn’t like the looks of the slums we passed through, especially when people decided to go there to shop for whatever it was.

Mamori seemed to find an interesting weapon, something seriously powerful that she could barely use. And after ‘sweet-talking’ the ‘shopkeeper’ (both are loose definitions), she managed to knock quite a bit off of the final price. That is, until she pulled out a mythril coin and nearly got her wallet taken.

If it weren’t for the fact that we were trying to lay low, that we were strangers in a town that probably sees a lot of crime like this, and we were seriously outnumbered if someone called for reinforcements, I might’ve let the louder and bolder ones go at it. Unfortunately, it seems even the intellectual elf can have his lesser moments.

Personally, I’m not going back to those slums for longer than I have to.

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Rasgo's Inner Meditation Journal (Adventure 36)
Rasgo journal

Lai dragged Rabdao into the magic pool to get him revived and swam down for a while and turned a corner. Then we waited. During the wait, Isto and Malphite helped me figure out what the necklace does. I also learned what the skin does and who made it. Unfortunately, Baulder destroyed the skin when he mutilated the Flayer’s body in anger.

I stripped the Flayer and was pulling off as much skin as I could when it suddenly got very cold during Baulder’s and Mamori’s violent antics. The place pushed all of us down to the ground and expressed how angry it was at us and how it was not angry with Lai and Rabdao. I waited a while and listened to it answering the rest of the party. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but from what I could hear, they weren’t doing a good job. I remained calm and focused. When I apologized, I was released shortly after.

That’s when I immediately left, taking the body with me. Some of the others were still held down, apologizing, and others were up. I told them to meet me outside of the tower and started a fire to keep us warm outside. Malphite went back inside to look around the Flayer room and saw everyone back up, not exiting. When I had picked as much of the skin as I could, I walked back inside cautiously. I began identifying some of the other magic items in the Flayer room. There was a magic cloak, nunchucks, and crossbow. I couldn’t tell what they did, but they didn’t appear cursed after people picked them up. Mamori was using the nunchucks and wearing the cloak trying to figure out what they could do. Isto stopped by and said that Rabdao was alive and out of the pool.

When I saw him, he looked like he never died, but looked different. His ears were longer and he seemed to have slightly different features. He said that he didn’t remember exactly what happened when he was dead, but was glad to be back. I think we all were glad he was back. Lai led us out of the house and did not lead us down to the lower levels. The house said that we should do whatever he said, and he acted like himself even more.

I recognized our general area, close to Raister, when we got outside and we headed to Suria, the closest town. On the way there, we ran into a group of mounted soldiers from the town. They thought Baulder was the Lord of Shadows. They were very rude until they realized that their commander was in front of them. I figured that his father is the Lord of shadows and they look alike. Baulder doesn’t know his father, but really doesn’t want to consider that possible truth. This will be problematic as long as we’re in this area.

We entered Helmsford and dropped off Alara to spend some time helping the poor with their ailments. Nathaniel also rejoined our group. We headed for the expensive inn called The Cock and Bull. After eating exquisite food and bathing in expensive water, a few of us left to go find Alara. When we found her, she was blind after curing a man’s blindness. There was someone mounted heading into the town out of eyesight. Nobody in this area was mounted, they couldn’t afford food, let alone a horse.

Also, at the Inn, Isto decided to tell the party about some of his personal history regarding why he keeps the mask. During Isto’s personal story at the inn, I had another vision…

…I was a gold dragon flying over a camp just as the fire died out. It was re-lit along with everything around it as I doused everything in flames. Orcs awoke screaming in the firelight as I landed…

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Isto's Dinner speech
Isto

Where do I begin…. Well, my father was the leader of a crime syndicate. My father used to use the Mask in his younger years. He never let me see it… At least until the night where some people invaded our estate, killed my parents… They were taking things from our home. My father hid me away in a closet. He gave me the Mask and told me it would keep me safe. I also found a pair of my father’s old blades, his Longsword and Gladius… I killed some of the men remaining in the compound.. I was about 13 winter’s old by this point. They caught me though… Burnt the house down and made me watch. Nearly beat me to death. Someone came and took me away from there. They said they were friends of my fathers…

They were my fathers’ lieutenants. They took me under their wing and I joined the organization as a higher level grunt. People always commented how my skill in battle was like the stories of my father and such. This went on for nearly a decade, until one night. I was supposed to kill the man who “hired” the thugs to kill my family…. But when I got there I couldn’t go through with it, when I saw the man’s child come up and try to protect his father… I.. I could go through with it… I realized what I have become.. The man explained what my father was trying to do.. Build a group, similar to what you guys belong to. But working more in the shadows.. doing the things the world needs to be done, but perhaps in a way that most will frown upon.

The first step for me to start this group up, is to kill the ones who betrayed my father because of this idea. I know what they have done over all the years, making deals and using demons and devils to help carry out missions. Killing people for political gain and such… All for power.

With the mask.. It has never acted up the way it does now. I think its because I haven’t killed anyone in over a year. It is hungry. It feeds upon souls, like most demons do. What happened in Narsoon was the first time it has ever tried to take over my body. It does so due to it being like a caged dog I believe. The deal I made with it was supposed to keep him at bay, and help us out in a time of need. I still believe what I am doing is in the best interest for you all. I am planing on researching more about it when we are given time. I am trying to fight it off when it takes over. And it only happens when my body seems to be immobilized, like when I died or that Ilithids Mind Blast.

And I will not get rid of it. It is the only thing I have to remember my family, the only time in my life where I was remotely happy, up until I met you folks. And destroying such a thing is a terrible idea.. Even if it takes me over, destroying it may do more harm than good. I do not know a lot about such powerful artifacts, but I feel if we destroy it, it will release the demon upon our plane.. I know the Mask is willing to help save lives, or else I would have died as a child long ago.. It was something my father did with the Mask. I dont know, but he had power over it. And I intend on doing the same. I think I might be able to communicate to my father from the Mask… But the Mask hasn’t dare spoken up since Lai subdued It again.

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An Illithid, Baulder's folly, and Rabdao's end. (Isto)
Isto

I am sitting here, waiting. So I figured it be the best time for me to get some writing done.

Lets start at the beginning. After I talked to the mask, we went north of the Displacer-beast room. We discovered and room that was 8 tiles long and 8 tiles wide. Baulder said that it was a black and white checkered board. I tried just running past it…But I landed and was force-ably teleported back to the beginning, and the ceiling fell. Lai stepped on and it didn’t move. Baulder stepped on, but he was teleported to a square… 2nd tile from the left. And it made me think… Lai and I confirmed my suspicion that this was a Siege game board, and each of us must of been a siege piece. Since this place was built by elves, and Lai was an elf male, it made sense with him being the king. I asked Amben to step the left of Lai, and she didn’t move. I didn’t dare to tell Amben the significance of that. Lai insisted I was a pawn, a poke about the mask. I stepped on that piece and it teleported me to a (Knight) Position. Oh how I wanted to walk over and slap the man. But I didnt want to deal with his “Prettiness”. Rasgo and Rabdao were the priestess’s (Versus being… ya know… Lady Alara). And Mamori and Alara were the (Rooks). Lai and myself had to explain how to move across the board. Baulder and Lai were a little surprised that I knew what I was doing. I didn’t tell them that my father and I used to play this game when I was a youngling. Yet another half truth I told the group…

We walked into a room, filled with very clean skeletons. I dare not ask what happened, but apparently Lai believed that this was a sort of common room, and our enemies are in a dormitory somewhere. It seems his little dip in the magicked water gave him some sort of weird insight of the place. The Mask could feel the energies of the psionic presence behind the door to the west, but everyone decided to check the door to the east. I just leaned up against the wall and waited. They were wasting time In my opinion. Eventually they decided to stop meddling and we headed west, seeing a room similar to the trapped hallway. Mamori figured out it wasn’t trapped for us by running across. So the manifestors and the casters started to cast some spells. I made it so I could hit harder and more accruate, I skated myself, and I gave myself the strength of a Rhino. Lai enlarged both myself and Baulder… Personally I dont enjoy being enlarged, it doesn’t help my normal battle tactic, but we weren’t trying to assassinate anyone, we are trying to destroy someone, so his spell was appropriate. I might study up and work my mind to learn that power I have heard about that does something similar.

Lai then creature his sphere of invisibility, we walked into the room, Feral Mamori up upon my shoulder. IT was dark in there, but with the Mask’s Blessing, I could see within there. There was a minotaur that drew my attention. He will have to be disposed of quickly… It charged at us and struck Rabdao… Then I presume it wished it never lived. The Mask’s Blessing allowed me to tear it apart right quick, Baulder also gave a mighty swing of the Fellblade, together we nearly destroyed it. Mamori Did something with her tails to scare the great beast. It retreated and I chased it, knowing that a minotaur soul would uphold our Bargain.

The great beast fell quickly, then some woman came up to us. I Was beginning to wonder where is the source of the psionic energies were. Some foolish man tried to kick Baulder down, and Baulder crushed his body with the Fellblade… It was then bad things began to happen… Somehow Lai, Baulder, Rabdao, and Rasgo were not moving, shortly after I wasn’t able to move either… Then Mamori… I could feel the Mask growing more and more frustrated, but I couldn’t stop it… Eventually Amben found the target up on the ceiling, It was a lizard. Amben began shooting it when its true self was revealed… An Illithid, the worst case scenario.

Rabdao switched out of his angelic form and was no longer stunned. He was able to summon a large bat and a flock of eagles. It seemed to work distracting the Illithid. By this point… I lost control of my body. The demon won before I could break free… Luckily some how Lai got free and did a mental combat of wills against the mask… but I did get a devastating blow against Kai. I will apologize to those two tonight….

Baulder…. I knew this might happen. The Illithid took over Baulder’s mind… And Rabdao chose to sacrifice himself to save the rest of us… He is now dead because of Baulder… And We almost lost Rasgo if he didn’t disappear when he did, which gave me time to lop off the head of the Illithid. Lai said he knew of a way to save Rabdao, we quickly moved him to the pool, and Rabdao and Lai went in…

I tried to go comfort Baulder… Taking a friend’s life is difficult to do.. I know.. I tried to tell Baulder to not internalize it. But I am afraid I spoke too soon to him about it. He wasn’t seeing reason and immediately blamed the Mask for Rabdao’s death… But he doesn’t understand… Without the mask we all would be dead right now. That Minotaur would have destroyed us if we were all stunned.

I let him go vent off, and I wrote him a note… it was then the ruins… They talked. I guess for one who carries a demonic mask that talks to me, I shouldn’t of been so surprised when it started talking. It seemed to be very upset about what we have done in here, Luckily it likes “Son of Moonflower”, aka Lai. IT seemed to want us to all apologize about what we done. It pinned us down until we all did. Baulder apologized first… Then he was released. I decided that lieing to this thing wasn’t the best course of action. I told it the truth about everything…. And even then it didn’t release me…. This spirit did not seem happy with just my mere presences. But Mamori seemed to piss it off more than I ever did… Somehow it knew her tenets. So it could read my mind.. And it was saying I was making “Excuses” For what I done here. IT knows what I know, it knows my plans… yet it calls it excuses….. BAH I say. As soon as Lai comes back, we should leave.

About Rabdao… I do think this place will some how save him… IF something somewhere decided to save me back in Narsoon, then this place will save Rabdao. It as an affinity towards elf kind… IF it doesn’t save him, I will have to rethink what saved me back in Narsoon…

I handed Baulder the note. At this point he actually read it.. He seemed more put together and hugged me… He seemed to understand what I did, and maybe why I did it. But As I sit here and write… I am thinking how I am going to tell the party. I am tired of them not knowing why I carry the mask. For they probably think I should destroy it… Which is also a bad idea… When Lai and Rabdao Return, I will explain myself…

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