The FATE of Guilfort

Beginnings
Nan's Emergence

Today marks a new day: My first journal entry. Like most things I’ve accomplished in my adolescent life, this journal is all about impressing a girl. You see, this journal was a gift from a good friend of mine, Tulia, who I may not see much after today’s events.

Before we get into that, I guess I should introduce myself a bit. My name is Nan, son of Brett. I’m currently 13, and studying to be a physician. My father is a teacher at Guilfort, and is one of the most knowledgeable, upstanding citizens in the town. This has made my life hard.

You see, We live in guilfort, a small town of farmers, fishers and associated commerce for these. We don’t have any big trade. We aren’t known for our scholars. As such, only girls go to my dad’s school. That is, the girls in town that can be spared from daily work and myself.

It wasn’t always bad growing up in an all girl’s school. When hormones started to kick in, I was the only guy around for most of the day. The downside is that I was treated as a toy by most of the girls in school. It’s not bad, if you know who’s using you and how to manipulate them against each other. The problem was when school let out.

Mart was a town bully. I say a town bully because there were several. Mart just happened to be close enough to my age, that he liked to pick on me. While getting beat up for being a wimp might get some bonus points with the girls at school, it certainly wasn’t much fun.

Mart was the son of a mushroom farmer, and spent most of his time hunting through less-than-savory fields for exotic, foul-tasting mushrooms. Granted, these are the cream of the crop of guilfort exports. Mart was a rich stinky farmer.

Mart had an uncanny way of finding out what I cared about and crushing it. When I was 8, I had found a practice sword that my dad let me use. Mart found out less than a few hours later and I was once more without a wooden sword. Mart was even able to figure out what I cared for before I did.

You see, Tulia was my best friend. Tulia was the third daughter of a corn farmer. Corn is not a high-yield crop unless you have lots of teams of oxen and land. Her father had one ox and a cozy amount of farmland. Her sisters were responsible for helping make meals, and so she was free to attend school.

Being the youngest, Tulia was shy. She backed out of most sorts of conflicts, and didn’t spend a lot of time on her dress. Granted, she did have to wear the same tunic every day. The thing about Tulia was that she was silently beautiful.

Tulia didn’t flaunt herself. Her clothes were dirty, baggy and non-flattering. Those who knew her could still see through this though. Her face has no hard lines. Her eyes were a deep blue. Her skin, though grimy, was always soft. I guess I had a boyish crush on my best friend, although I didn’t realize until today.

The unfortunate events

You see today, after dinner, I headed over to Tulia’s to show her an amusing passage I found in one of our physician books (Yes, I’m also a nerd). When I got there, I found out from her mother that she had gone out with Mart.

“You leave those two alone now. Mart’s a good boy for Tulia.” said her mother.

“Ma’am, we’re just friends. Can you let her know I was here?”

Her mom made a non-committal grunt, and I moved on. Why would Mart see Tulia, and why would her mom think it was courting? I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. This was not going to be good.

I scoured the town, going over ever place where I knew Tulia liked to hang out. The courtyard was full of adolescents, as usual. Chandra told me that Tulia and Mart had been there for a while, but Mart wanted to show Tulia a hiking trail. The hiking trail. You know, the one where parents can’t find you, perfect for adolescent hijinks. I felt like I had a stomach ulcer.

I ran as fast as I could to catch up with them. I wasn’t very good at running, as I spent a lot of my time reading and talking. I made a resolution to be more serious about physical discipline in the future.

Wheezing my way down the trail, I heard a muffled yell. It was too faint to make out, but my gut told me it was Tulia.

I found Mart about 5 minutes later. He had one hand wrapped around Tulia’s mouth and the other was doing nothing appropriate. Tulia gave me a helpless look.

Anger consumed me. My eyes were blinded with it. I almost couldn’t see what was happening anymore I was so furious. It’s one thing if Mart roughs me up after school, but this was just too much. I was so upset, I kept envisioning Mart consumed by fire for his crimes today. Some part of my brain realized that I was just standing there, like an idiot and needed to act. I held out my hand and yelled, very eloquently, “Stop!”.

You see, studying really helps with the vocal parley, but I digress.

Something clicked in my head. The rage cleared, my vision returned and I couldn’t remember what had just happened. It was liking waking up after dozing off in class. I looked to see Tulia, face bruised and dress torn staring in shock at Mart.

Mart was rolling on the ground screaming, simultaneously trying to rip of all his clothes.

“Fire! Put it out, Put it out.” He was yelling hysterically. However, there was nothing on fire. He was having a private delusion. Tulia just stared in shock.

Again, something prompted my brain to act. I walked over to Tulia and said, “We need to get out of here.”

“What did you do to him?” she responded, never taking her eyes of Mart.

“I have no idea, but we need to go somewhere safe. I can’t protect you up here.”

Around that time, Mart stopped screaming. He looked dumbfounded. Then, realization came over him. “Warlock!” he screached. “Dark Magic! You messed with my head.”

My gut twisted. What had I done? Dark Magic was evil. Those caught using it were considered outside the law, not protected. I didn’t have much time to think as Mart got up and marched toward me.

“I’ll kill you, warlock.” A simple statement. My emotions were all convoluted. I had to get Tulia out of her. I had to get out of town, before anyone realized what I had done. While I was thinking this, pain exploded in my cheek.

I looked up from the ground. Mart had hit me. “Leave him alone!” Tulia yelled. Mart side-slapped her. She fell to the ground near me. The anger returned, hotter than ever.

“What kind of brute hits a girl?” I roared. Well, it was more of a squeak. Remember I was 13.

Mart didn’t respond, just pulled his arm back for the next blow against me. My mind raced. I had to protect Tulia. Nothing else mattered. Mart was a bully and someone needed to stand up to him. I held my hand out toward him, and uttered the one word I knew had power “stop!”

Come on, It’s not like I was a linguist.

Again, my brain just shut down for a few seconds. When my consciousness returned, my eyes took in the scene. Tulia was on the ground, dress torn, face battered and eyes wide with shock. I was standing now, holding my hand out in the air. Mart was buck naked, and he was punching… well, nothing really. He was punching the air and little sparks of light were appearing when his fist stopped, a few inches from my hand.

For some reason, I found this funny and started laughing. Probably not the right decision.

Mart was even angrying and just kept leveling punches at the invisible shield surrounding Tulia and eye, screaming.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details, but eventually the constable showed up, dragged Mart away. It was obvious from his state of dress and Tulia’s bruised face what had happened. It also got around that I had used magic to protect Tulia.

While you think this daring rescue would have made any girl fall in love, Tulia was nervous around me now. She never told anyone, but she was nervous about what I had done to Mart’s mind. While he tried to convince everyone how I was an evil warlord, most didn’t buy it and Tulia stood up for my honor. She lied.

While this held the constable off from passing judgement on me, things were shaky in the town. I started hearing rumors, and bad things started happening to my father. A few of the girls were removed from school and the loss of tuition was hard.

I managed to convince my father to send me for magical training. He had a friend in Tilith who was some fancy wizard or whatnot. Most importantly though, I had to get out of Guilfort before anything bad happened to Dad or Tulia.

Today is the day I leave Guilfort. I’m still 13, and I expect a lot to happen in the future.

I had a rather awkward, gut-wrenching talk with Tulia before I left. She’s still scared of me. This, of course, ruins any romantic dreams a teenager may have. At least she gave me a hug before I left and this jounral.

That leaves me on the road to Tilith. Afraid of what powers I may have used, tired of being bullied around and without my best friend or family. At least I have this journal.

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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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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.)

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Origins
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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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