Scars of Suldairia

The nightmare....
Please... please dont let this happen

The following page in Isto’s journal is written in his infernal/abyssal code like the rest… but this page seems to have been wet in a few places. As if someone was dropping water on the page. Some of the ink is smeared where these circular water marks. Were these dried tears?

The dreams, hell these are not dreams. The nightmares. They are getting worse. Ever since we been back in Sheasbury. I have been having less dreams about the people I murdered, about watching my parents die, and about the monster I was… This new dream, is well… It isnt about my past. I think my fears of what I left behind in Antuzia is beginning to manifest in my sleep finally. We are set to depart to my homeland later this day, and this dream. It just felt so real… Maybe it is just my fears I have been keeping to myself and expressing to others just festering in my mind. All the things that could go wrong, all the things I could now lose. I have people that I love, I have people that I will lay down my life for. I just fear that the people of Antuzia, the ones who have taken my innocence and my parents, might take my love and my friends.

I am going to try to write this dream down. Maybe it will help me forget. I much rather have the other nightmares, the nightmares of me killing people I barely knew…. Anyway…. here it goes.

It begins we me waking up in a cold dark room. I am forced upright, straps on my wrists and ankles holding me up. Another set of straps on my torso, and a final set anchoring my head still. A smooth voice, the one that betrayed my father…. His voice rang through the air.

“Ah Istoaufrien, son of Grayihan Daere. It has been a while since I have seen you. I believe it was when you FAILED your last mission and deserted your family.”

YOU KILLED MY FAMILY!” I screamed out. “YOU are using the empire my father built to seek your own means!”

the voice chuckles “Oh fair enough, but now WE Have you, the Mask… and your new partners. Perhaps I should teach you a lesson about disobeying an order and betraying me eh? Which one should I start with?”

YOU WILL NOT HARM ANY OF MY FRIENDS

The voice just laughs harderYOU have friends? Isto my lad. You are a monster. Who would ever befriend you? You are stronger than that. You dont need anyone. You are the perfect killing machine. And if I must destroy your friends to get back my Monster, then I will… Let us start with the annoying one. This Rabdao fellow.”

A cart is wheeled in, with Rabdao held upright in it. His body covered in gashes and brusies. His face is beaten and swollen. At this point Isto would be gagged so that he could not say anything. Rabdao is also gagged. The voice returns. “Now, this one just gets on my nerves. Always seems to be the good guy. His type sickens me. How could you EVER work with anyone such as this huh?” The man moves a dirty sheet off of a table beside Rabdao, revealing many pieces of torture equipment.

“Now perhaps I should just rip out his tongue then?” The man grabbed a pair of tongues and a wicked sharp, but rusted knife. Rabdao’s eyes would grow wide. Rabdao’s mouth was unbound just long enough for him to scream
“NO ISTO! DONT GIVE INNLAKLJKSLS” *the man grabbed rabdao’s tongue with the tongs. Pulling it out as far as it would go. Rabdao wincing in pain as the knife goes into his mouth, slowly cutting the tongue out of the man’s mouth.
“Ah much better… silence….” well, it was not truly silent, the gurgling of blood in Rabdao’s mouth was the only sound in the room. Rabdao’s eyes welling up as tears start to run down his beaten face… I was trying to break free of my bonds. Anger welled up inside of me. Knowing that they had the rest of them somewhere.

“Really Isto? This one? Already so angry. I can feel your hate. This is good. I need to recreate my monster… "The man quickly turns the dagger in his hand and slices Rabdao’s neck cleanly, the blood splatter going everywhere, but mostly on the torturer. “Well, maybe I should bring out your next friend. The big one eh? He is sure a strong spirited one. HE swore up and down that you would not break, and neither would he. I already took the liberty of doing a few things to him, AH here he is now!”

He pushed Rabdao’s twitching body to the side, his rack scooting across the floor. A body was thrown into the room with a bag over his head. But there was something odd about this body. The arms, they were stumps.. two bloody stumps. There was no way this was Baulder…. The canvas bag was removed and it was indeed Baulder! His eyes just so full of sorrow. Baulder was also gagged

“He was in fact easier to break than I thought. He seemed to be one who would try to headbutt me in this condition.” The man would grab Baulder by the hair and pull it back, resting that dagger on his throat "IT was So easy to convince him that we would save the others if he would sacrifice himself. To help me bring back that monster I created in you. " he would kick Baulder down, so that his head would lay on the floor to the side… A hench man walking over carrying…. The fellblade, already covered with blood. I tried to break free again but I couldnt… I tried screaming out but it only came out in a dry rasp….

The henchman lifted the blade as high as he could, The man would speak “He was a fool thinking I wouldnt kill each and every one of you to get what I want.” Baulders eyes would grow big with rage and sadness. Filling up with tears when the henchman then basically dropped it upon Baulder’s neck. It made a nasty crunching sound as it crushed the neck and then stuck into the ground. Baulders head just rolling off to the side. His face in pure pain and sadness. I Wanted to scream out. But I couldnt. This was horrible. Every fiber of my being wanted to just rip out of this harness and kill all of them… But I couldnt.

“Well, I guess I should get his lover out here. She was a real treat. She was already mostly broken before we even used her and beaten her. It seems she has been bound before. A compliant bitch is the best kind. Am I right Isto?” Oh gods no… USED her…. What about Mamori? DID THEY TOUCH MY MAMORI! The man would look to isto and smile “Of course we did. But you will see her soon enough. But first….” HE would snap his finger and the floor would shake, revealing a pit. The pit smelled of burnt flesh and oil… looking down he could see Alara… bound and naked. Her body glistened with what had to be Oil….. The man would grab a torch and would smile. I closed my eyes not wanting to see this.

“Now now Isto. I just killed two of your friends, and now you try to close your eyes? Not wanting to see this one burn alive huh? Well there is a way to fix that. " Two henchman came over with cruel devices.. placing them on Istos eyes. They would magically drill into my face… The burning was terrible.. The item pulled my eyes open, forcing me to watch everything now. "Now that is a good lad…. Now say good bye to this holy woman… " Dropping the torch into the pit. The oil filled room began to catch aflame. Alara’s screams of terror and pain as it engulfs her slowly. The smell of her burning flesh filling the room.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” Her screams rattled my bones. It lasted for a couple of minutes but then the screams stopped finally… just the smell of her burnt flesh in my nostrils… it was too much and I began to puke, the gag hindering the flow and it lingered in my mouth.

“OH Isto. I remember the days where you would have done this to someone and not get sick. You have grown soft havent you? Well, let us hope for your sake that you finally remember who you are by the time we are done with these last two. How about that strong woman. The one with the wolf? Or should I say, had a wolf. Had to use something for leverage with her…. Killed her pup infront of her eyes. OH she was mad. Her anger was delcious. It was amazing ravishing her body. "
I was feeling sicker and sicker… this was all my fault… they are all dying because of me. I should have never came to Kendora… I should of just became a hermit. I could feel my heart breaking as they brought in Amben, bound by her hands. Her eyes seemed lost in thought. Her body equally abused as everyone else was. When she would look around the room seeing hte other three she would begin to cry “Isto… please… do something” The henchman pulling her in just slapped her across the face. “Shut up bitch. You will speak when spoken to.”

The henchman would take Amben over to a cage in the room. I never noticed it before. She was thrown in and the cage was locked tight. Amben and I both noticed when a pair of large glowing eyes coming from a dark mass of fur began to stand up on all fours and began to slowly approach Amben…. Amben having tears roll down her face. “Isto…. save me….” The worg in the cage would snap at Amben, “No one can save you now forest lover.” The voice of the worg was low and growling. Slowly approaching Amben. Enjoying the fear she was having. After Amben fell to her knees and began to break down again “Isto… Why?” the worg would strike. Ripping out her throat. Amben’s cries becoming the sound of grugligng blood. The word would finish ripping at the neck, the move to the more “tasty bits”. Ripping open her stomach with its paw and then going muzzle first, pulling out her interals as the beast enjoys its fresh meal

The torturer spoke up "Well then Isto. I guess that leaves your girl friend huh? " I could feel myself begining to cry thinking [No… not Moxi.. please no… I will do anything… I promise]

“Oh no, we both know that you would find a way to break her free. Your little bitch huh? She sure is a young exotic one. I did not know you were into that type of thing Isto? A Kitsune I believe huh? " A henchman would bring in Mamori on a rack and place it direcltly in front of me… but not before showing her everything else that happened to the others. She was beaten as much as everyone else. But her face and collar remained untouched. Her eyes… just full of pain. I could not take it.

I screamed in my mind. [NO NOT MOXI. PLEASE NO. Spare her!]

The man would just laugh, "Spare her? I already had my way with this beast. Maybe you took to her thinking that only a monster deserves another monster huh? She told me what those tattoos mean Isto. You are just proving to me you WANT to be the monster that is inside of you. Just come out and I will spare her life. " He would then begin to sniff Mamori’s hair and I… I just broke down, trying to escape. Mamori was right there. A few feet infront of me… If I could just hold her… maybe I could escape all this pain I am feeling….

“Tsk Tsk Isto. I thought you cared for this one… but oh well. I guess it is time for you to watch her die. " The man would take out a skinning knife and slowly peel away the skin on Mamori. She screamed out

“Isto Please! ISTO IT HURTS OH MOTHER FOX.. SAVE ME!” Her tears just following down her face. This process lasted for what it seemed like forever… I kept trying to escape my bindings and the man would just go faster. Skinning her arms and legs… Mamori would eventually go unconscious… I was slightly relieved… but my heart.. it was breaking. Tears running down my face as they are now upon this page…

Then… I saw a needle get jabbed into her exposed muscle… waking her up
“We cant have you slipping yet my pet…. I am not done with you….”
This process lasted for what felt to be hours… I was watching my love… die …. right infront of me… by the time he gutted her stomach she lost too much blood and was already gone. Instead of the fire in her eyes, there was a darkness. That darkness I could feel spreading in me… that same pain I felt that night my parents died… but this was worse… this was all my fault…. The man would come up to me and whisper in my ear.

“Now Isto…. just give in… come to me…”

I would wake up then…. I was crying… Seeing Mamori in my bed beside be breathing reminded me that it was only a nightmare… but by the gods…. why……. I need to go for a wlak… clear my head…

By this point the text would become unreadable, but there seems to be more there.

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Accounts of the past few days
My fears....

It has been a week or so since I wrote my thoughts down. There has just been alot of things going on in recent days. I have been needing to focus on other things. Now that it is a peaceful time for me to write some of my thoughts down, I shall.

Where do I begin?

After we got most of our equipment back, we decided to head southward to Fort Talerga. This Fort is the birthplace of Baulder… I can imagine why he wants to go there. It is soon to be his birthday and he wants to check on his mother and old friends. This is great for Baulder to have something to go home to… But I feared that too much has happened for this to be a good visit.

On the way down it was discussed that I would need to borrow a way to hide the mask after about a day within the city… we do not want it to be found by the solar… Lai and I got into a heated debate over it that was not really ever settled. I was trying to convince him that we should hide it in his Haversack that we found. He outright refused. I wanted a chance for Baulder to have a few days of just being a normal lad… but fine, whatever. We “solved” this problem later.

We did run across something that I was not expecting so soon… I could feel them as they approached. The screams of Alara confirmed my suspicions… Devils. Apparently we fought most of them off bravely. I am having a difficult time remembering exactly… Mostly because these devils had captured an old friend, Floatibaul. I was happy to see her safe after what I did back in village… She has some sort of power over space and time… she somehow wiped my memory of the first part of the battle… But I know I saw Amben transform into a wolf, it was quite impressive. There was one devil though that managed to escape. After talking to Floati, it was a minion of Montano. This did not bode well for us.

Later we did pass the Standing Army of the White Lord…. It was a sight to see. Whatever was about to happen would cause mass destruction. Fort Talerga is a crucial point for Montano to keep. If it falls, Raister will fall. Under normal circumstances that would be great, the death of a lich… But to the White Lord? No….

When we arrived at the Fort we went straight to the Runedar Farm. Baulder’s mother was a sweet person, but I kept my distance. There was something not right with this town. My suspicions were proven true when we discovered that the White Lord Occupants were helping those who converted, but somehow cursing the others. The Runedar farm did not look like it was doing so well. Ms Runedar explained that solders come by and force her to cook massive quantities of food to appease them, or else they would do something terrible. By the next day, we were helping her around the farm. Lai and I had a major spat and he just stormed off. I tried to explain my position to him and he just doesn’t understand why I cannot just simply bury the mask or leave the city at this point. I understand that he does not trust me nor the mask, but for Baulder’s sake I’d hope he see reason. He eventually came back long enough to give me the Haversack and storm off, using one of the Scrolls of Word of Recall. Not more than an hour or so later… we discover that a large force of Montanto’s people have invaded the city. We quickly depart with what we could, using the Scrolls of Word of Recall. We including Ms Runedar and a friend of Baulder’s

Thats was when we appeared back in Sheasbury, inside the SiTD compound. They were not happy to see us at all. They separated Amben, Rasgo, and Baulder from the rest of us. We were escorted to some sort of holding room. I slowly began to lose it a little. Rabdao left me alone with Ms Runedar (Who was still recovering from the teleportation, Nidalee, Alara, Mamori, and Belle (who was in the same situation as Ms Runedar). Then after about an hour of this, Baulder came back and we headed to an inn to keep those of us who are not members of SiTD in one location.

On the way we were swarmed by the citizens and family members of Narsoon. These people wanted to call us heroes, hear our tales, and wanted to praise us. I am not going to lie, I was extremely uncomfortable and yet I was happy to see me finally doing some good. But…. It was not hte time for this. Too many people I know should be looking for me… I conviced Baulder to not allow him to use me in his stories… Mamori was also getting uncomfortable with the crowd….

Anyway, Mamori did something stuipd last night. We were talking about a way to make me live longer… so when I went out to go do something, she ran and nearly got herself killed… By asking Amben for shampoo? Ugh… We talked it over and she was just trying to get help for the process…

But yeah.. Mamori and I think we found a way for me to live longer… Mamori was going to outlive me anyway, and I want to make sure she is happy. So if I can extend my life somehow to make her happy, I will. And besides, if this makes me into a monster, I can finally look on the outside what I have felt on the inside. The pain we went through to complete the tattoo over the past few days has been very extensive. My lungs have collasped a couple of times and my arms felt like they were on fire. I just wanted to rip them off… But I know I can do it, if I can cause harm to the people I have killed and their families, I can handle this….. I know I am doing this to make Mamori happy, but a little part of me is allowing her to do this as a form of punishment for my past sins. The work thus far has been amazing. I hope this works well.

I had my second interview with SiTD and Mamori had hers. We were both accepted on the condition that we will go on missions together to watch eachothers back…… There was a little ceremony and we moved in. Lai and Rasgo has left us to go on their own journeys. I wish them both luck, but I wish that Lai and I would have talked to get rid of the bad blood between us.

I am writing this before we go on our next mission… To Antuzia. We are going to check up on the outpost SiTD has there, then we are swinging southward to spread the word of the White Lord…. I am afraid. Antuzia may be my homeland, but it is full of death. The people there have taken everything that I once held dear. It is where I became a monster. And now we plan on going there, I am afraid that I will lose everything again. After speaking to the Fog (and also being accepted into their fold), I learned that someone has been looking for the Mask and me. They said it was a woman who paid them extremely well…. I have a feeling it was Gwyn… And with how much money she dropped on information and how she was apparently surprised to here that I was alive, tells me she is still working for the clan. I just that my past wont bite us to hard when we go there. I do not want to lose everything again… I … I dont know what I would do if I lost Mamori or any of the others…

Now I need to put this down and talk to the diviner. Going to use the villa where my life as a monster began as a place for us to teleport to.

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Mr. Velvety Smooth (Amben)

We finally make it into the Fort, which is definitely one of the largest and most intimidating places I think I’ve come across, and travel to Baulder’s home. I had talked him out of worrying so much, which ended up awkwardly, but he seemed to have his head about him. Thankfully.

Mrs “Mama” Runedar was actually quite an interesting woman, if not a “earn your place at the table” type. I feel bad for Alara, who was guilty by any association with Baulder, but I’m not sure even the most powerful magicks could change that. I, on the other hand, was unaffected by this, and even went out of my way to help out, thinking that maybe I could help save her reputation as “that girl with Baulder”. While I did manage to win her good side, it seems that most of my efforts didn’t really do much for Alara, other than keep her from being kicked out.

Mrs Runedar even lent us and Nidalee a nice little house by the river, with somewhat seemingly mixed intentions, but we took her up on her offer and spent the night there (with some dancing by rabdao…). Surprisingly, I slept extremely well, which was odd since I chose to sleep in one of the beds for the first time in a long while. Maybe sleeping indoors is a bit more reassuring than I remember it being.

But then the morning sun came up, and everything decided to happen. First, something happened before I got to the rest of the group, and Lai disappeared somewhere. Isto was mad, Baulder was mad, and I was not getting answers. Then Kai was missing, which was really bizarre, and Baulder offered to help track him (probably to forget about whatever was going on with them).

We found Kai hanging out with some stranger, a man in a cloak that I didn’t recognize. He darted away, but I got on Kai and chased after him, while poor Baulder was left in the dust… Come to think of it, though, the guy looked like he was barely walking, and Baulder wasn’t in his armor, so he must’ve been going faster than he appeared to be.

I remember catching up to him, seeing him turned to actually face me… blue eyes… fair skin… I said things… He said things… and, and then… he said something else… and he was gone again. Something about his voice, it was unnervingly smooth… and soft. I think.. I think I need to find this guy again. And not for the, uh, “emotionally weird” reasons. Something else about this guy seems familiar, but I didn’t get the chance to place it. Not that it would matter, I guess, if I knew who he was or not, I would be happy just melting in that voice again…

Where was I? Oh, right, going back. Uh, stuff happened that wasn’t as exciting, tried to get Lai’s magical bag for Isto because the mask was evil or something, Lai ran off to Sheasbury, and Alara sensed bad things. Mmm… that voice…

Wait, Lai left… like, he’s not with our group anymore…

Wh-

Who’s supposed to keep this band of geniuses from killing the wrong people? Or each other? Up until now, Lai was sort of our go-to for various questions, and he knew quite a bit about most of the stuff we got ourselves into. I guess he didn’t do as well for the “prevent killing each other” part, but he was at least enough of a charmer to be a decent head of the party.

Oh, and Baulder’s left to go check on his childhood crush, Bella. So there’s that part, too.

…Velvety…

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Rasgo's Inner Meditation Journal (Adventure 41)
Rasgo journal

The next day, we prepared to leave. During the preparations, I was fully ready to go, and was waiting on the others to finish packing up. Nidalee needed a horse, and then the drama began. I didn’t have the gold or proper gemstone denominations to buy a horse on me. As I asked for some of the treasure we looted during our adventures, everyone decided that they knew how to handle the money best.

Many minutes later, I arrived at the stables, ready to buy a horse with a bag of 100 gold. I got Nidalee’s horse, saddle, etc, and returned. On the road, I asked Baulder about what kind of creatures we may encounter on the road and he mentioned a few. After a while, we came upon a city of tents, the white lord army, a mile off of the road. We continued, and I made sure that Baulder’s disguise was holding up. His posture is something he needs more practice on.

We stopped and slept overnight and it was uneventful outside of Baulder talking to some naga. The next morning, Mamori, Baulder, and Isto were fooling around causing a huge commotion. Their antics were clearly not well thought out. I would have done so much better. Nidalee was holding up pretty well. I was proud of her.

We were passing a caravan when Alara screamed. Immediately after, 4 hooded people on horseback, surrounding a cart with something inside that reminded Lai of Flotibahl, transformed. They turned into severely gross looking and obese devils. My first thought, for some reason, was “are their horses hurt?” The rest of the humans fled the scene in terror. Apparently, they didn’t expect that to happen.

Normally, at a time like this, I would have prepared to stand back and let my dragons do the work, protecting everyone they could, while I smear entangling ectoplasm all over the enemies. But this time, that thought didn’t even cross my mind. I dismounted, and prepared to fight as a girallon. As I focused, I could feel the power and strength growing within me. I felt my aggression surge as I transformed, ready to rip them to shreds. Right after, one of the devils blew some magic fire breath at us. I didn’t care, I was ready to kill them all. I could feel my upper fists clenching, as my lower hands flexed. The breath attack seemed to sap away some of my strength, but there was no stopping me.

I felt the surge of energy inside me as Rabdao casted haste on us. It felt good. I barred my teeth, and surged off to the right, making my way to the back of their line. As I assessed the situation, I noticed that Mamori was hidden somewhere, but more importantly, Nidalee was behind the line, although a little singed from the burn. The next thing I knew, I had run on foot and knuckle to the back of the enemy line, alone. After the long run, it was all I could do to just reach out and try to hit one of the devils. The untrained swing flew wild as I missed him completely. Once I got my footing, it was a different story. My next swing tripped one of the devils, and after that, there was a series of powerful swipes that kept ripping at his flesh.

My blood lust had reached its peak. I had never felt like that in my life, and it felt good. This felt right. I clawed and clawed until he stopped moving. I could feel the slimy entrails oozing between my massive fingers as he died. Before I had a chance to view my kill, the body began to fade away in a series of sparkles, depriving me of my prize.

The sparkles and excitement seemed to trigger a vision…
… I was in an enemy armory and starving. There was sparkling metal in every direction, and I didn’t know where to start. I tasted the sword that my hind leg was rubbing against first. It was excellent. Then I touched a suit of armor with my other antenna and watched it crumble into the best looking pile I had ever seen. This was heaven for a rust monster…

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Leaving Town (Amben)

I thought we had it tougher in town. I was wrong.

Along our path, we have monsters of some kind in the wetlands surrounding us, including something called “naga”, which don’t sound very nice to deal with. If we stay on the path, though, we could potentially run into soldiers, who aren’t very nice to deal with. I can’t wait….

To make things worse, while baulder managed to work something out with the naga around our camp to not kill us, he then proceeded to throw mud in isto’s face. Which caused a small war of sorts among baulder, isto and mamori. So thanks to their immaturity, we had to keep moving to get away from whatever we may have pissed off.

Then we ran into some merchant caravan. Alara saw something in one of the carriages, which made her scream, which caused the four hooded people around that carriage to transform into fat devil things. Well, they weren’t human, and I could’ve sworn I heard isto say something to them in his demon tongue, but I guess ‘devil’ is just a guess. Seems fitting, though.

While the powerhouses worked on two of them, and Rasgo took care of another one, I was slowly realizing my arrows weren’t doing their kind of damage, even the ones that were enchanted. Sure, I was able to hit them quite a few times, but after watching one of them get their stomach sliced open, I had a little less confidence that my arrows were going to take them down.

That’s when I realized that mamori hadn’t shown up since jumping away to the carriage, and that a large…thing…had emerged. I’m not sure what it did to her, but I’m not letting it get away so easily, and for its sake, mamori better be all right.

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Rasgo's Inner Meditation Journal (Adventure 40)
Rasgo journal

NIDALEE IS BACK!!! She arrived earlier today with Nathaniel. Nidalee looks and acts the same as when I last saw her. Nathaniel magically looks different to conceal his identity since he was spotted helping Cecelia and the militia is swarming around town. We had another meeting and I tried to steer it in the direction of actually having a set plan.

When Lai wouldn’t hold Isto’s mask in his extra dimensional bag, I talked about our options for splitting up. That resulted in Lai agreeing to take the mask in his bag. After my wise consult, we all agreed to get to Baulder’s mother, teleport to Sheasbury, and then teleport to the next town, to avoid some dangerous traveling. As usual, Nathaniel will break away from the group soon, and catch up to us later on.

Nidalee seemed to get along with the group well, and told some embarrassing stories about me. I’m sure more will come eventually. Her exaggerations are pretty entertaining when they aren’t about me, but I can say that she told them well, with the talent of a bard. Also, several of us, including my sister, went to see me spar using some new forms.

Baulder showed me how to better fight as these creatures. My favorite forms so far seem to be the hydra, hag, girallon, and wyvern, but I’ve only used them for a few days, so who knows how my whims may change? I’m tired, time to sleep…

By the way, I had a quick vision while Baulder was talking between forms…
… I was conducting an interrogation, but the dwarf did not seem to fear me. After getting nowhere, I turned into a wyvern, which also didn’t scare him, but then, I carried him higher and higher into the air, threatening to drop him. This scared him. When he told his first lie, I dropped him through a cloud. Once he vanished, I swooped down at full speed behind him…

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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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