The FATE of Guilfort

Nan's Journal: A surprising rescue

Well, a lot has happened since my previous journal. Maybe not so much, be it certainly feels like a lot. I recently ran to the rescue of a few sisters of Corinna. Tulia, my old friend, was among them. She’s still in shock from the whole experience and hasn’t said much. She’s finally sleeping, but I’m still wide awake so I thought I’d jot down the story of the adventure.

I was on the way to Lorindale with my new friends to try to shut down the plague artifact we had found. I decided to check up on Guilfort to see how everyone was doing. That’s where I found Barry and the beaten Sister of Corinna.

Let’s first digress. Sisters of Corinna are awesome. They vow to never harm a living thing and they go everywhere. They’ll literally walk through a battle field and help people out in the middle of the freaking battle! They have guts, and they want to help anyone out. Everyone around knows them and they’re easily recongizable. We all have such high respect for them, that the punishment for treating one harshly is usually death. The sisters don’t like it, but we all enforce it.

So needless to say, seeing a beaten up Sister is like witness an act of war. I’m stunned. I help Barry bring her to the Windrider house. When I’m close enough, I recongize her as one of the sisters from Tilith. The same chapter that Tulia joined.

Linea and her mother start looking at the Sister when she tells us about the attack. There were others. I hate to do it, but I force her to tell me who. As soon as I hear the syllable “Tu-” I’m running to the barn, taking a horse (I hate horses) and riding for where they met.

I must not have been in my right mind. I passed a few people on the road, almost running over some guy who was just trying to say hello. Oh well, time to socialize later. Right now a friend is in danger.

When I got to the site of the attack my nerves were getting the best of me. There were bodies, but none I recongized. Luckily, I had learned enough divination from the Lady Arilynn to put together a hasty tracking spell. Not my best work as a magician, but better than any tracking spell I’d ever done before. Partly because I was using a piece of Tulia’s scarf. I knew it was hers because no one, literally no one, has a cobalt scarf but her. Cobalt is considered poor fashion, but it does go with her eyes.

As I was about to take off after the trail, both Kel and Torg showed up. I was ecstatic they were coming, but with no horses I knew I had to hurry ahead. I simply yelled for them to follow me and took of down the path.

Along the way the horse gave out and I had to follow on foot. I barely paid notice. I was getting closer, I could tell.

They were at the top of a hill. I could hear them. I was too concerned to cautiously approach. I literally ran into the middle of the goblin encampment.

Yeah, dumb. I know.

I figured Torg + Kel would be there to help me out. I was fired up enough, I figured the three of us could take on a few goblins. Well, there were like 20. I ran right into the middle of them. Why? Well, they had Tulia there.

She was surrounded by goblins holding sticks. She had a sword, but of course a sister would never use a weapon. The goblins were beating and taunting her. Her cheeks were bright red from the tears and she had a dazed look. I have no idea how long she’d been like that, but I immediately ran for her.

My mind was in overdrive. First things first, neutralize the threat. As soon as I had hold of Tulia, I placed a physical barrier around the two of us. I know I sometimes brag, but this was a pretty darn good barrier. No way anything was going to hurt her.

I’m not sure she realized what was happening, but she did realize that the goblins had stopped hittin her. She hurriedly undid the knots that tied the sword to her hands and threw it on the ground. She just sort of collapsed against me, sobbing. I put my arms around her. I had no idea what to say, and I was still furious.

I looked up and saw the goblins still trying to attack my friend. I did something I’d never done before. I got inside their heads and I gave them back all the torture they’d inflicted on Tulia. All the horror she’d experienced was now theirs. A fitting punishment, I should think. Most of the goblins couldn’t take it. They were left dazed and whimpering, too stupified to do anything.

The few that were left were quickly dispatched by Torg and Kel. Linea showed up as well, with some new guy. I didn’t recognize him, but I was glad for the help. As soon as Tulia calmed down a bit, I checked her injuries. She wasn’t in shape to walk back on her own, so I decided to carry her as far as I could.

So, while I’m carrying Tulia back to Guilfort, my mind is going into overdrive. Thinking over all the things that have happened the past few years. I find myself singing a song from one of my favorite childhood stories. I thought I’d include it for the rest of you. The story goes somewhat like this:

In the time before times, there was an upright man and an evil queen. The upright man was a healer, a teacher and a carftsman. He went from town to town helping the people and spreading a message of hope and peace.

The queen was the opposite. She was cruel, petty and wicked. Her kingdom was subject to many laws, and entry was punishable by death. He subjects were so terrified of breaking the law, they usually carried out the sentence.

It came to pass that the upright man visited the queen’s kingdom. His charisma, his kindness saved him from death by the people. However, the queen was furious. In retaliation she cursed him. If he could not bring back the heart of a star within the year, he and all her subjects would die.

Distraught, the man decided to seek out a fallen star. Months passed before the next star fell. The upright man was ready. He tracked down the star and captured it.

It may not be common knowledge, but the stars are their own people. When the crash land on our soil, there is still hope for them to return to the sky. This star was a young female of the Star race who had been playing too close to the terra firma and was caught in its pull. She had a fiery personality and was furious at being captured.

The upright man was distraught upon finding the star. How could he remove the heart of such a beautiful creature? He thought of the queen’s kingdom and the myriads of people he met. Is one star’s life worth a kingdoms? Who is he to decide? While it weighed heavily on his heart, he continued on his journey to return the star.

The heart of a star is a desparately sought component for its magical ingredients. During the journey, they had many adventures avoiding those who sought harm to the star. There are volumes upon volumes of story about their adventures, too much for this story.

Slowly, the star began to fall in love with the upright man. It was a subtle thing, and barely noticed, but she no longer resenting him for capturing her. She even learned his love for others, willing to sacrifice herself for the queen’s kingdom.

The man also fell in love with star. The closer they came to the Queen’s kingdom the harder it became for him to think of handing over her heart.

When he arrived back in the queen’s kingdom, she met them at the gates to her castle. The people of the kingdom gathered round, knowing their fate rested on the outcome of this meeting.

“Here is your star”, the upright man said tearfully, presenting the young star to the queen.

The queen looked between the star and the man and her face slowly transforms into a viscous snarl. “What have you done!”

Taken aback, the man and the star withdraw into each other’s arms.

“You’ve stolen her heart, she is useless to me now!” the queen belows. Magical energy courses through her hands and into the sky.

The man and the stars eyes meet for a second. They both are about to say something when suddenly the life is extinguished in the upright man. He falls to the ground. The star drops to her knees besides him, tears falling from her eyes.

The queen ignores the star and returns to her castle.

The star picks up the body of the upright man and travels the land searching for a cure. There are volumes upon volumes of stories about her adventures seeking a cure for death. Too many for this story.

The star had given up hope. It has been a year since the death of the upright man and she is no closer to finding a cure. She prepares to end her own life. She climbs to the top of a cliff with the body and sets him down. Distraught, she sings one final song:

Blessed is the man who does prevail Doomed are the peacemakers when they fail If hope springs eternal, it never did here I guess I lost all my hope last year I tried to steal the moon from the sky I am lost and lonely, I drift in space My dreams are haunted by his face Blessed are the drifters, the stars that die Whose light expires before goodbyes Goodbye, my love Binary star, you’re the brightest blue by far Searched this whole world for love that’s true if only I’d said “I love you”

Moved in sympathy, the moon goddess grants the star her wish. However, the moon has no dominion over the terra firma. Instead, she transforms the upright man into a star and returns the young star to her rightful place. It’s said the love they shared caused them to outshine all others in the sky.

The two are known as the constellation “The upright”.

Tonight, the upright constellation is crystal clear in the sky, and I keep finding myself humming the tune. Maybe it’s a sign of how unsettled I am.

Well, Tulia hasn’t talked, but at least she drifted off to sleep. I’m still a bit unsettled by events. I had no idea the power I could wield. I mean, warding, sure, it’s fun. But what I did to those goblins felt right. I know black magic is considered evil, but I’m not sure what else I could have done in such a situation without hurting the other sisters. I’m just glad everyone is ok. We found four sisters still alive but in poor condition.

If this was really a path of iron setup, like Torg suspects, then I think one of us will have to protect these sisters while they recover.

I am grateful for one thing. These friends I’ve met recently are loyal and trustworthy. I couldn’t have asked for better companions.

Kel's Journal Entry 4.5

I totally forgot to tell you! I learned something completely unbelievable while in Tilith. Hopefully this news won’t be so unbelievable that you bust your bindings, but…there are apparently GOOD goblins! I KNOW! Completely unbelievable.

Yes, even more unbelievable than the super-ancient puzzlebox with a painting of a blue guy on it that Gramm gave me. Wait, how did you know about that? I planned to taunt you with that information for weeks! How’d you find out…hey, get out of my head! No, just because I’m in your pages doesn’t mean you can get into my head. That removes the ENTIRE purpose of writing in you! Out!

That’s better. So yea, there are apparently goblins who trade with the cities and don’t go attacking and pillaging everyone they see. I did not see that coming. Guess I have a lot more exploring to do before I know even a fraction of everything…

Kel's Journal, Entry 4

I’m back. Wha..of course it’s me! Who else are you expecting? I’d better not find anyone else’s scrawling in here…

Nothing new has happened since last time. I mean, it’s only been about a day, and the trip to Guilfort is going nice and boringly. It’s given me some time to relax and think, and I’ve had some disturbing thoughts. No, not about…get your pages out of the gutter you dirty book!

Anyway, I believe I mentioned before that I’ve had dealings with the Path before, and that my parents died in a forest fire. The fire hit a couple years before Saana married, and it was the largest we’d ever seen in the forest. We would occasionally get fires during particularly dry and hot seasons, but nothing as ferocious. It was so large we had trouble containing it, and it looked like we might lose the whole settlement until a group of elves from the south came in to help.

With their help we got the fire under control, but they arrived too late to prevent a large number of casualties, which included my parents. After the fire was finally dealt with they stuck around to help treat the wounded and rebuild the settlement. We were all incredibly grateful for their help, as anyone would be.

Many of those southern elves who came to assist never left. And they’re the ones who brought the Path of Iron to our area. Before then we’d heard some innocuous things about them, but had never dealt with them directly. But after the fire they started a growing presence in the settlement, getting more and more involved in everyone’s lives.

At the time those I thought they were annoying (they don’t like non-elves, and didn’t know what to think of me), but I was grateful for their help with the fire. However, the circumstances of the fire always bugged me. Now that I’ve seen what the Path was willing to do to the people of Guilfort I’m starting to think maybe they had something to do with the first. There was no good reason for those southern elves to move to our settlement (elves don’t generally move around, especially not in large groups). The fire gave them a reason to be there, which in turn gave the Ironites a way in as well. Maybe it was all their plan.

I’m starting to get more and more glad I left when I did, before they became too entrenched. Things probably would have gotten bad for Saana if I was still around. Thankfully as an elf they don’t really bother her, though she’s told me in her letters that they’re not very accepting of any non-elven travellers who visit.

If they did cause the fire it means they murdered my parents, and all the others who perished in the fire. They’d better hope I don’t find out it’s true.

Kel's Journal, Entry 3

Aha! Found you. Now why were you hiding in with the food? That’s no place for a book, and especially not MY book. I’ll have to have a talk with Barry about his workers, I think one of them must have packed you here by mistake. Oh well. You’ve missed a lot!

First there was the most exciting cabbage delivery ever. I mean, nothing happened, but Big Red was swimming along with us freaking people out, and I doubt any other cabbage delivery can claim to leave a trail of fear in its wake. What do you mean “why were you delivering cabbages?” The people of Tilith need to get their salad ingredients from somewhere! Oh, and it was our cover for getting into the city without the Pigheaded Imbeciles (again with you misreading me writing Path of Iron? What’s wrong with you?!) getting wind. Now quit asking stupid questions.

We met Nan’s teacher Gramm at the school in Tilith. It was quite amusing to watch them argue, generally over how much Nan studied (it didn’t help Nan that he decided to interrupt the meeting). They bicker a lot, but I get the feeling it’s more out of friendship than anything else. Anyway, Gramm took us through a wall or two (no, not door. Wall. We totally walked through a wall!) into his super-secret-magicave-room (I’m making it a word – quiet you) and examined the artifact. After digging around the library for a bit (I need to go back and spend a year or so in that place. What? Of course I’ll bring you with me) we managed to piece together what the artifact was.

So turns out it’s a piece of some evil altar thingy, and we need to make some weird poultice to glue it back onto the alter to turn it off. Among other things we need to get bones that were touched by the power of life. Conveniently, Reddy (definitely need to remember to NOT use that one within earshot) knows where we can find some without having to commit any acts of horror!

Oh, and he gave me a box! No, I don’t feel like telling you more about it. I shall tauntify you with it, as it taunts me with its secrets of (I assume) awesome bluepeopleness.

So then we were off to the swamp lizzy came from to find the bones of some life mage he killed back before he joined the church of unity. I believe it was a turning point for him, though I don’t think he likes to talk about it so I try not to ask (you go ahead and ask him. Maybe he’ll tell you instead of trying to eat you).

We chose to sneak into the swamp and go through an area most people were scared of. While there we found a weird stone circle with a depression in the middle. I really wanted to explore and see what was in there, but I also kind of expect something big with teeth would have eaten me (yea, it was probably just an empty hole, but still…). Linea talked to one of the trees to find out if there was anything interesting (of course I’m not making that up. Why would I lie to my journal?!) but all we learned was that the area was really really old.

Then the tree told her about another tree that was in pain because the reds had stuck a person to it. She decided we had to go take the person down so the tree would stop hurting. Red thought that was stupid and that we should continue on to reduce the chance of being caught. Nan and I just wanted to get moving and not attract attention. Being the (apparently) sensible one in the group I scouted around while they argued, in case they attracted attention.

And owie did they. I was suddenly attacked by a pack of vicious lizard-bird-teeth-claw thingies. Nan said they were velocirapters (I know! That’s such a nondescriptive name. I’ll have to come up with a better one). For some reason they thought I looked the tastiest, and they all ganged up on me. At least our arguing couple noticed and came to help. I’m pretty sure Nan was helping too, but it just seemed like he kept giving the teethclaw monsters weird looks. One of them went kind of crazy after he did it, so I’m pretty sure he was magicing, but if I weren’t fighting off so much pointy it would have just been silly.

We finally finished that fight, and somehow it caused Linea to win the previous argument (that tree she made attack the clawbiteyjerks – shut up, it’s their name now – WAS kind of scary). Fortunately that was uneventful, as was the retrieval of the bones. What wasn’t uneventful was the return trip. Redman heard some “poachers” (he takes the trees in the forest very seriously – you’d think he and Linea would get along better). When we got there we saw a couple guys cutting the tree and one guy standing watch. Red went kinda-sorta-morelike-actually nuts and nearly pounced on the lookout, nearly killing him in one blow. The other guys ran, and we had to hold Red back and remind him he’s part of the church now, not redguard, and it would be better to let the guy live. Linea patched him up enough that he should be able to survive the trip out. Hopefully he learned his lesson, as we won’t be around to hold back any of the other redguard dudes if it happens again.

We were able to get back to Tilith without any more…incidents, and relaxed there a bit. We went to see the Lady Arilynn for some divination assistance, despite (ok, yea, mostly because of. You are getting to know me) Nan’s protests. She wasn’t there but, get this, she knew we were coming. (No, I’m not joking! You need to start believing me Mr doubtybook). She had packages prepared for each of us and said we would know when to open them.

So of course Linea tears into it (not sure she even heard the “you’ll know when…” bit). She got a map and some other things. The map shows some areas marked in red. I’m assuming that means either PoI influence or more evil magiciness. My box contained another map, but it’s not anywhere any of us recognized (and the place looked…unnatural). I assume it will be useful later, and I’m hoping it’s a clue to where I came from. There was also a really old book, but it looked ready to fall apart so I didn’t want to risk opening it just yet.

Oh, Gramm also suggested we talk to one of the other students and see if she wants to tag along. Florence is apparently one of the top students, and a friend of Nan’s. For some reason Nan wanted me to go talk to her first (even bet me that she’s shoo me away quickly. I don’t understand). I did it, and got to heard some good gossip about Nan. For instance, did you know when he was a student he spent a week stuck looking like a girl? All because he tried sneaking into the girl’s dorm room with an illusion on so he would appear to belong there? I guess the Lady expected shenanigans like that and set up a ward. I think I like her. Florence was nice too, but Nan keeps looking at us strangely when we talk.

And now we’re heading back to Guilfort on our way north where we believe the alter is. I’m hoping we get to check on the people there on the way, but we’ll have to be careful to not be spotted by the Posse of Idiots.

Now, don’t go hiding in with the food again, or I may start to think you don’t like spending time with me! Or that you’re some strange kind of hunger book.

Nan's Journal #4
A refreshing break

Well, we made it back to Tilith for a bit. Going through the swamp was slightly unpleasant. Even more so was when red liz (k’thith, k’thulu, k’taning or however you say it) went crazy and just tried to slaughter some sweeties. Granted, I don’t care much for sweeties, but you don’t have to kill them to stop them.

The only other thing I remember was Windrider remove the dead body hanging from a tree. That I’m ok with. Oh, and blue got attacked by some Velociraptors. That was kind of a wake up call. Kel is a pretty decent guy, even if he attracts a lot of suspicion. I’ve seen him fight those path of iron elves without much trouble, but these little demonic lizards caused some trouble. I was just glad they didn’t pick me. I need to get a lot faster with my illusions.

I’m digressing. Tilith was good to see again. Got to exchange some banter with Gramm, eat some fine soup at The Roasted Grouse, and see my adopted lil sis, Florence. She seemed to be in good spirits, and her journeyman travels were treating her better than mine. Although I don’t like asking for friends to join in dangerous missions, we ended up recruiting her for our inevitable journey to destroy the evil altar of death (that’s the technical name for it).

Surprisingly, Kel and Florence hit it off pretty well. Florence is a girl that attracts men whether they want to be attracted or not. She’s become quite deft at fending them off. Kel must be something special to not hit the “thanks for the free drink” wall. Unfortunately, that means that Florence was dishing out lies about my tenure as an Apprentice. The friends I have…

One thing I noticed in town was that the healer’s school appeared to be mostly empty. That usually only happens in times of crisis. Hopefully everything is ok, but it made me nervous for Guildfort. I hope to stop in on the way to destroy the evil alter. I’ll have disguise myself, since it’s been too long since I heard about the path of iron folks. I know they’re doing something, I just don’t know what.

Curse that Lady Arilynn. Why does she have to be so… prudish. I’d have learned some Divination for situations like this if I hadn’t had to avoid her harsh teachings.

Well, that’s it for me. I need to look into making another “look out” ring to replace the one I gave Barry. Not sure I’ll have time to finish, but I can at least prepare the metal to hold a spell longer than a few hours.

Nan's Journal #3
A surprising adventure

Well, it’s been a while since I wrote anything, and it’s been eventfull. I’ve finally had time back in Gramm’s abode to sit down and write down my thoughts. I feel I can’t write fast enough, for time is fleeting and I have much to do. Let’s start at the beginning.

Some weeks back, I heard of an outbreak of some disease in Guilfort. Worrying about friends and family, I set off. More worrysome was when I couldn’t find Tulia in Tilith to see if she’d like to accompany me. I’m sure everything is fine there. I hurriedly packed and grabbed the first passenger vessel to Guilfort.

It was good to see my father again. He hasn’t changed much. Still into his books and his religion. I resisted the urge to open on of our long-standing debates about helping people rather than reading, and just went down to find out how bad the disease was. Luckily our reunion was interrupted by, I kid you not, a blue elf. Why was he blue? no idea. He definitely walks like an elf though, and he seems a lot nicer than the elves I’ve known. We hit it off pretty well, and he escorted me to meet a member of the church of unity who was helping with the disease.

To be honest, I don’t pay attention much when my father mentions the church of unity. From what I’ve seen of the church it does far too little helping and far too much complaining about the way things are. I’m all for world peace, but peace comes through action, as the great Delfidor has shown us.

Well, it was a strange day, because not only did I meet a blue elf, I also met a red lizard. This one did not try to kill me. When i met him, I vaguely remember my father mentioning him in his writings. What’s odd about this liz is that, unlike my father, he was doing something. He didn’t care that everywhere he went the guilfordians were staring daggers at his back. Interesting fellow.

In any case, it turns out redliz had some magikz, which is cool. He and I tracked down a pretty malignant source of evil. Luckily, I’m the second best warder in the kingdom of tilith. We were able to ward the evil stone in a box. The littlest windryder girl helped out too. She’s pretty nice, but still a bit awkward like when we were growing up. Still, I’d prefer her company to many others in guilfort.

Well, Linea (the littlest windryder) and her mom helped us seal the box. Turns out she’s a pretty powerful nature mage. Mental note: Don’t let her manner decieve, she’s just as dangerous, or more so, than scary Lady Arilynn. She actually asked a tree to come find us and it did. Magic is pretty cool.

Now we had a problem. We had some bad guys trying to get the box, and without a laboratory or quiet space, I had no place to keep this box safe. Also, my warding is of limited duration if I don’t have time to carve out a permament artifact.

Luckily, my friend Barry was able to help out. Barry’s a good guy, so I tried to get Gramm to pay for his much needed new boat. I think he’ll end up well-to-do in the future, which is good for him.

Barry got us downstream without incident, in part from my powerful illusions. I’m not known for modesty in the magic circles, but this statement is true all the same. I’m the best illusionist in Tilith. I could make a replica of a person so good, even their mother wouldn’t know which image was real and which fake.

When we got to tilith, I got to exchange some friendly banter with Gramm. I adore that old man! If only he realized that doing is just as valid a way to learn as reading. Still, he came through, as always, and placed the evil stone in his maximum protection storage.

Two interesting things happened. The first is that Gramm had a puzzle from Gelfidor himself with a picture of a blue elf on it. I have to figure out who Kel is, if he has any connection with Gelfidor. The second is that we have to go scrounge around for some “magicly touched” bones. Not just any magic, life magic. Luckily redliz (sorry, he’s Torg to his friends), knew of a location.

Well, it looks like everyone else is packed, and I’m putsing with this story here. Till the next break in adventure!

Kel's Journal, Entry 2

Well that w…what? Of course I didn’t forget about you! If you were my old journal you’d know me better than to think that. There just wasn’t anything interesting to tell. None of the book Brett lent me told me anything new (at least about me), and I didn’t think you’d want to hear about all the other books I was spending time with.

Anyway, let’s try this again, this time with less interruptions from you.

Are we good?

Ok, here goes.

Well that was an interesting couple of days. I was returning the latest batch of books Brett lent me and ran into his son Nan. He seemed rather interested in the red cough that was plaguing the town, so I brought him back to the tavern to meet with Linea, one of the healers in the town. I also got to introduce him to Mr Red Lizard Man – Torg to his friends (What do you mean you haven’t heard of him? I totally wrote about him back when I met him! Oh right, that was before the goblins attacked…sigh I miss you old journal. I think I’ll call him Red).

Anyway, Nan figured that there was some artifact in the death zone (that’s where all the people died) that was causing the sickness, and for some reason I decided to help them try to fix it. I snuck into the death zone with Nan, Torg, and Linea to find the artifact. It was mostly uneventful until we found the artifact (a stone set in the road) and a bunch of the sick started to attack us. We held them off while Nan worked on warding the artifact. We managed to scare some of them away and incapacitate the rest (no, I didn’t kill any of them. Linea wouldn’t have it, and besides, these are the people we’re trying to save. Yes, they were attacking me but still. You’re a bloodthirsty little book aren’t you?).

The ward worked but wasn’t going to last too long (don’t ask me why. I don’t know how this magic crazines works) so Nan and Linea went out to look for some white birch (makes good birch beer AND magic boxes apparently) while Torg and I guarded the artifact. Sadly, we didn’t guard it quite well enough. Some elves “snuck” up on us (I totally saw them) and attacked. We managed to fight a bunch of them off but one broke the ward before vanishing back into shadows (seriously, they walked into their shadows and vanished. Why can’t I do that? If you ever learn how to do that you’d better teach me). Torg heroically grabbed the artifact and ran for the edge of town while I valiantly stayed back to gather clues from where we fought (yes, it was very brave. They might have still been around!).

I managed to find one of the arrows we were attacked with and they were definitely Path of Iron made. I didn’t really like them before, but I never thought they’d stoop to something like this. I mean, if they’d just attacked me I could let it pass, but they were clearly trying to reactivate the artifact, and that’s just mean.

I found Torg eying some weird birds after I finished searching. A couple looked like Linea’s birds (did I mention she’s a crazy bird lady?) but two of them I didn’t recognize. It looked as though one of them had caused him to drop the artifact. I thought he might try to grab one for lunch, but suddenly the two I didn’t recognize turned into Linea and Nan (holy crap! I totally need to learn that trick! Don’t worry, if I do you’ll be the first to know. Well, other than all the people who see me do it.)

Once we regrouped we all went looking for some white birch (hey, you’re pages are white. Maybe you’re related!) to build the magic box, this time bringing the artifact with us. Linea apparently did some of her crazy nature magicness as a tree met us halfway to the forest and shaped itself into a box around the artifact. Nan engraved it using some extra special ink he got from Linea’s mom, and now we’re off to Tilith to find Nan’s mentor to try and break the magic of the artifact.

And for some reason Linea keeps breaking out singing something about “shuffling” every day. I don’t understand her most of the time.

A meeting of chance

Few historians and even fewer bards tell stories of the early days of those we now simply refer to as “The Heroes” but I find it necessary to understand them more fully we must understand where they came from and what brought them together. Unfortunately information from this time is very scare.

It is known that Nan D’Brett and Linea Windrider were from Guilfort and most likely already in the area. There is strong evidence that Kel had frequented the area several times and was probably on a routine visit. K’thith Torg is a bit of a mystery, there is some evidence that he had left his tribe and joined the Church of Unity at this point. It is known that there was a strong animosity towards the Reptilians at this time. Most of the other races considered them to be barbaric savages. For one reason or another K’thith was in town during the time of the Red Plague.

The Plague had been afflicting the town for several seasons with little successful treatment from local healers, including Linea’s own mother. It was a brutal disease with a near 100% mortality rate and by some accounts caused extreme outbreaks of violence in those who and become inflicted.

The town had tried to quarantine the plague zone burning several blocks of houses to provide separation from the plague. There is one second hand account from a guard who saw the four of them enter the plague zone shortly before the plague began to break. It is this guards account combined with the much more documented evidence of their actions as well as the actions of the Path of Iron that leads most historians to conclude it was The Heroes that cured to plague.

It seems to be this event that brought these four people from such varied backgrounds together. I doubt any who knew them at the time would realize the extent to which they would come to shape the world.

Or the prices they would pay in the process.

Elisha Strongharvest
Scholar, Historian and Keeper of Lore

Kel's Journal, Entry 1

I try to keep an open mind. I mean, you never know who or what I may be related to. But I’m really starting to hate goblins. Or, at least goblin bandits and raiders but really, I’ve never seen other kinds of goblins, have you? Oh shut up, I know you’re just a piece of paper. Saana always said to write in my journal like I was talking to it, so I may as well let you talk back.

And I’ll try not to let you end up like my previous journal. Stupid goblin bandits attacked while I was writing my last entry, thinking I was an easy target. I’m much stronger than I look, but unfortunately I look rather weak, and some like to take advantage. Or at least try. I kicked their butts mightily, but alas, after it was over I found my poor journal smouldering in the fire. Had to run into town (Guilfort if you want to know where you came from) to pick up a new one, and so here we are. I decided to take up the innkeeper on his offer of a room instead of staying out in the woods this time. I’m not a fan of sleeping indoors, but it beats cleaning more goblin gibs off my bedroll. And this way there’s no cooking fire for you to fall into.

Since you’re a nice blank book (well, mostly blank now) I suppose I should recap a bit. (Hey, recap is totally a word. Ancient orcish or something. I know more about this stuff than you, you’re just a blank book!). Anyway, I’m Kel. Raised as an elven ranger, but I’m not an elf, unless you’ve heard of elves with silvery-blue skin and unpointy (that’s a word too, shut it) ears. I sure haven’t, and as far as I can tell no one else has either. Heck, they haven’t even heard of non-elves with those features.

The elves found me when I was a baby. Well, actually it was Saana. She was 4 at the time, out for a walk with her family. When her parents came over to prove that the “magic silver baby” was just her imagination they were startled to find me there, giggling in the leaves. Giggling until they tried to take the small dagger in my hand away. That apparently made me quite cross. Saana immediately decided I was her brother.

Unable to find anyone nearby who could be my parents they decided to take me in. For the next couple years they kept looking for anyone who may have lost me, but Saana always assumed I would be staying. She liked having a strange silvery-blue little brother (she eventually nicknamed me “silue”, after deciding “bliver” sounded stupid). Her parents found they couldn’t separate the dagger from me (I was apparently a very strong baby), so instead they got in the habit of wrapping the blade in cloth so I couldn’t hurt myself. Of course I just tore it off as soon as they were gone, but as nothing bad ever happened they started only doing it when there was company over.

As I grew so did the dagger I was found with, until it became the sword I carry now (I really hope it stopped though, as I can’t imagine carrying around a greatsword as an elderly whatever-I-am). I also found that over time I could feel my sword. First I could always tell where it was (Saana liked to hide it when we were little), then later I could tell when someone was touching it, or if it was warm or cold. It’s like another limb, just one that can’t move on its own (trust me, if I ever figure that one out you’ll be the first to know. Well, unless I decide to show off first).

The elves in our forest were all very welcoming, and once they got used to me they treated me just like anyone else. I trained as one of the rangers, helping to scout in the forest and hunt for food. It wasn’t until the Path of Iron started to show up that things became difficult. They’re some crazy southern elf religion that thinks elves are just Better Than Everyone Else (thankyouverymuch), and they’ve been moving north for a while. No one who knew me growing up gave me any trouble, but newer elves to the forest gave me a hard time. Then they started giving anyone who was friendly with me a hard time. Never violent, but they made trade difficult, or were otherwise just snots about it.

My sister married a local craftsman (craftself? If that’s not a word I should make it one.) a couple years after my parents died (forest fires are nasty business). I had always wanted to go explore the world to try and discover what I am, and I figured that was a good time to go. My parents were gone, Saana had someone to look after her, and I figured the Pompous Idiots (what? I said Path of Iron, really!) would treat her and her husband better if I wasn’t around. So I sold most of my stuff, gave half to Saana as a wedding gift, and left to explore the world. (You thought I was going to say “left to find myself” didn’t you? I know perfectly well where and who I am. Just not what. I’m sure you’ll learn that as we get to know each other more, you stupid book.)

Recent Past: Nan
Dark Magic

It turns out that I had never used black magic in Guilfort. What I did to Mart is considered “gray magic”, and illusion. Illusions are really cool. You can draw attention to things, or attempt to get people to ignore things. You can make an image of a ravaging demon, or the humbling presence of an Angel. It’s all about understanding what someone will believe on their own.

I was good at illusions.

I’m now 16, in Tilith. I’ve been studying under Gramm for a while. While Gramm’s been focusing on defensive aspects of magic, I’ve shown some natural talent in Illusions. He’s let me learn a bit more here for defensive purposes.

Gramm was always telling me, “Be careful what you use your Gray magic on, Nan. It’s our responsibility to use our powers wisely. The worst thing we can do is loose the people’s trust.”

I was a teenager, I was out having fun. I met a group of kids who called themselves the Heralds. Yeah, they were really a bunch of petty criminals, but we had fun. When they realized I could use my illusions to distract people, there was no end to the antics. Drawing the guards’ attention was my usually “duty” in this gang.

I got really good at it. At first I tried things like phantom noises and shining lights. That would distract a guard for a few seconds, but was pretty risky. Eventually I learned to scout the guard and learn a bit more about them. If the guard had a fancy for a certain maiden, I could enhance her, err…. appeal such that the guard had a hard time looking away. This type of glamour usually turned out to be the best.

Magic turned out to be pretty natural for me. Gramm was teaching me the fundamentals of magic, but I didn’t have a huge amount of patience since I was getting results fairly easily. Life was pretty good. I had friends in this town, my lessons were going well and Gramm was a pretty decent guy. I doubt he knew the extent of my crookery, and I never felt the need to enlighten him. I’ll say it again, life was good.

That is, until Tulia arrived in town.

My father had decided she needed more formal training and sponsored her at the local university. University may be an overstatement. Tilith is a big town, and so it had an advanced school. Make no mistake though, this was no famous university. Good enough, though, for Tulia to train to be something like my father: A teacher, A doctor and a scholar.

Tulia sought me out shortly after arriving in town, and our friendship picked up right where it left off. Well, sort of. It seems Tulia wasn’t frightened of my magic anymore, especially after telling her about “gray” magic. However, it seems my teenage romantic dreams were still just that, dreams. Besides, Tulia deserved someone good, wholesome. I’d been pretty much a scoundrel since arriving in Tilith. Probably all the new found freedom.

So that explains why I got so angry when Tulia found me with the Heralds. Not only that, she startd hanging out with us a lot. It was pretty obvious she had a crush on the leader, Mason. Mason was sauve, debonaire and more of a scoundrel than me. Not only that, his interactions with Tulia grated. He acted the perfect gentlemen, but I knew who he was.

I tried to explain this to Tulia at some point, but she just ignored me. Claimed I was jealous. She was right, but he was still a bad egg, not right for her.

So, today was the first time I used black magic for real. That’s right, I used it. Knowingly, Willingly and I’d do it again.

I had caught up with the Heralds just after supper. I heard Mason bragging to the others before he noticed me. “Tonight is the night, my friends. If you hear strange sounds near Forgell’s park, make sure you stay away. Tulia and I will be indisposed.”

I couldn’t think. I did the first thing that came to mind. I touched a finger to my mother’s amulet and whispered a few silent words, feeling the power flow out from me.

I no longer lost consciousness when casting magic. You see, my mother’s amulet had become my focus. It allowed me to channel the magician’s energies through it rather than my own brain, leaving my mental process uninterrupted.

The spell I had cast, was a compulsion. When I first arrived at Gramm’s, I was worried about my use of black magic. I would secretly steal his tomes on it until I had learned the difference between black and gray magic. This is when I had come clean with him and described my encounter with Mart. Well, in that time I had also learned a bit about real black magic.

I used that now. On Mason. I put it into his head that Tulia was cheating on him.

Needless to say, their date that evening turned out south. I had no idea what I had done. Tulia showed up at Gramm’s crying. She had a black eye. Apparently, Mason turned violent. She had no idea what had happened. I wanted to comfort her, but I couldn’t shake the guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach. That and the anger at what Mason had done.

The next day, I confronted Mason on his behavior. I was furious. I’m still furious, but I recognize a lot of this as anger at myself. I’ll skip the details, but suffice it to say this: I’m no longer a Herald, and I’m still alive.

Somehow Tulia found out about my fight with Mason. The bruises and broken ribs I had from that confrontation lasted quite a while. The upside was that Tulia wanted to nurse me back to health. The downside is that I felt so guilty about what I had done to Mason, and the harm it had done to her that I couldn’t look her in the eyes for very long. I think she realized something was up.

Over time, we grew apart. She was busy in School and I was spending more time in the Magician’s circles. That is, the community of Magicians is split into circles. There was one in Tilith. When an apprentice reached a certain level or appititude, he was farmed around the magician’s in a given circle for a diversity of training. In Tilith there were about ten of us at this level. Times were good again.

So here I am. 16 years old, estranged from my best friend, carrying around a dark secret, and getting more powerful every day.


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