The Un-Made Crown

Conflicted Spirit, Part Six
Love As Thou Wilt

Two days have passed since we parted ways with Arn…

Nothing has been heard…I worry about him and fear the worst. I pray to the Goddess that she has kept him safe, yet I feel as if my prayers go unanswered.

I have never lost someone close to me…not that I knew Arn particularly well. Still, he is to be missed.

During these two days, things have not been quiet in the least. Helian has had many strange happenings take place. There has been strange deaths that have occurred within Aldersgate. With it being so near to a watch tower one would think crime would be nigh nonexistent there. So many lives ended…some before they had much time to begin… The servants of the Crone have been busy of late. Shivers as she writes this, thinking of the hag.

Rohveka found out upon returning that her adopted mother was badly injured and not doing well. What her mother revealed to her disturbed her greatly and seemed to tie in the attack to another strange occurrence in the Halfling part of town.

Genna discovered that a man she knew passed from this life into the next. It was no surprise that Grandma Liddie asked to see her about the arrangements. I think all of us knew it might be hard on her and went along. Still, it is strange that Rohveka’s mother would send her to Grandma Liddie…or so I thought until I got there. It seems there’s much more to this halfling matriarch than meets the eye.

We learned that Genna had some strange ability locked away for her safety, but now time has come for her to be free and use it to fight this witch named Esmerelda Black. The woman sounds power hungry and extremely dangerous. It was she who had attacked Rohveka’s mother while looking for something called a Skin Plate Codex. While people were told that the Bolger’s death was due to illness, it really was an attack by this woman. With Genna’s new ability awakened and the sigil on Rohveka’s back, she will be coming for them next. We will not give her the chance, though.

While all of this seems oddly tied in, there were some other happenings that were just as dangerous. Since returning to the city we discovered that the slavers cleared out the warehouse they had been using. We’re hoping there might be some trace left behind in their hurry to leave.

Connor has been acting weirdly since we met in the tavern. He believes someone is after him, a bounty hunter wanting to cash in his head. Before he came to us, he had run into some big trouble. Some of his fellow soldiers were killed. Whomever did it made sure to make it look like he was the one who did it. Instead of fighting the accusations and going to his superiors, he deserted. Why must he always run? I do not understand. If he had just stayed….but that is no longer an option. Hopefully we can find out who indeed was responsible and bring them to justice. Yet, we have more pressing matters…even though he is the prince…I still struggle with that idea.

Arnexus learned that his daughter had come to Helian as well, but he did not seem happy to hear this news. I don’t know the story behind that relationship, but you would think someone would be happy to be reunited with family.

Which brings things back to my own family. Before I could catch up with my own family, I heard news from the gazette about my sister’s betrothal. Lathina…getting married! She was not even seeing anyone. It is not even proper to be getting married in such a short period of time, unless there are reasons to hurry the process along. I sincerely hope she has not become in a motherly way before marriage. Just think of the family name and reputation! But I will not borrow trouble until I know more. I just hope it is a match of love and not out of necessity.

Sir William gave us some good advice concerning reputable houses where we could hire some help until Arn can join us again….if he can join us again. We found a man who has some strong morals but seems a little rough around the edges. He comes highly recommended and seems okay. He will never be another Arn though. sigh Once we had paid his dues, we made our way to the registry to sign up as an official adventuring company. We chose the name “The Company of the Blue Dragon” in honor of the dragon who seems to be guiding us even in his death.

I do not know how things will go tonight. We will be attending the memorial for Genna’s friend and then seeking out this Esmerelda. May the Goddess light our path and strengthen our resolve to face whatever may come our way.

View
Letter to Ma - 3
Connor

Hey Ma

We made it to Helian, beautiful a city as any. Looks like my friends… yeah I’ve got friends now… and I have some errands to run through here.

Genna, the little halfling, apparently knows The Cousins, I guess they are supposed to help me with something.

Arnexus has a kid… never would have thought, but he does come off fatherly…

Roh, she has some connection to The Cousins, but it seems kinda complicated. Doesn’t matter, if she needs help I’ve got her back.

Sylph, that stubborn priestess, she had something with her family going on, but I can’t remember what it was. If its important I’m sure she will tell us.

Oh…!!! I’m now a part of a registered Company!! Me! I don’t know exactly what it means, but its all official; we even got to hire a mercenary (don’t worry he seems like a good enough bloke)

I saw the Reds again… I knew it wasn’t going to be too long before they found me. I really shouldn’t have come back here; I’ve put my friends in danger. I just hope that if the Reds get me, they leave them alone.

Sleep well Ma

~Connor

View
I hate writing journals, pt 4
Revelations of the shocking kind

So we get to Helian, and William has gotten us a nice spread going at this really nice inn. I never turn down good food! But we barely had any time upon entering the city to enjoy the reward before we started getting various summons. For me, its from Grannie Liddie. I knew I couldn’t dawdle in getting to see her. I figure its a good time to introduce Connor to the Cousins anyway. He has talents, but needs some guidance and likely some protection. He’s been acting all shifty since we entered city, and rather than enjoy the good food, he just stared out the window. I know what a person who thinks they are being followed looks like, and its just like Connor. So when I go to head off to Grannies, I tell Connor he is coming with me. I leave it up to the rest whether they want to come, and they all do. Maybe they know the importance of a summons by Grannie Liddie. I know Roh does.

On the way, I signal to the Cousins I see to keep an eye out for anyone who may be following us, as I am sure they will find someone is. When we get to Grannie Liddies, several of the young ones signal me and point out the one who is. I don’t get a good look at him, but I let them know to keep watching.

Roh has her own reasons to come. She has found out disturbing news and was told to seek out Grannie. When we get there, Grannie tells the most amazing tale. The sickness now plaguing Rohveka’s mother is likely caused by a witch by the name of Esmerelda Black. One that Liddie and Roh’s mom had once remade with their own powerful spells in an attempt to remove the witch’s source of power (something to do with something on her arm, so they remade her without the arm!). Only now it seemed the witch was back and able to work her evil again.

A middle man of my own kind, Bodger was found murdered. Liddie revealed to me that the witch was likely responsible for this as well. All because she is seeking some powerful artifact or talisman. I am to investigate. She gave me a special knotwork, which we disguised as a glove, and then she indicated that she wanted to speak to me alone. I asked the rest of my group (and soon to be company) to wait outside for me.

Grannie Liddie then asked how much I know of our halfling history. I know the basic stories about coming from another plane to here, but Grannie tells me its much more than that. To make that crossing required some powerful magical skills, halflings capable of working a form of shadow magic to assist transit and detection of other realms. And who do you think has that skill? My own family. Who are dead apart from me. Only Grannie tells me that is not the case, and nor is the magic we hold dead. The two of us who remain harbor it.

I am astonished. I hold no magic save that of stealth and the ability to disguise myself at times. And I know of no other survivors from the bakery fire but me. In the weirdest twist of fate, it seems I actually have an aunt, a very powerful witch, with a penchant for evil. One Esmeralda Black. To save me, Liddie bound my own magic away. I do not even have to ask where, before she calls in a lovely dark cat. Liddie tells me that the time has come for my magic to be freed, so that I might take care of my aunt. My magic has been hidden and bound in shadows with the cat. Grannie Liddie unknoted my shadow from the cat, and restored my skills to me. The cat, Soot, remains with me now, a new companion. I am not sure just what my new abilities are, but Grannie has said I will be able to see into other realms, ones of shadow, and discern things that others cannot see. Eventually, I may even be able to transit through the shadows and other astonishing things that seem to belong to someone else.

I left Grannie Liddie’s in a state of shock. We decided to head back to the business area so that we could hire a replacement for Arn (who between you me and the fence post is most likely dead and gone, but he bought us time to get to safety, and so I will miss him). The cat followed me. The others commented, but I just said the cat was one of Liddies and seems to like me. The man following Connor continued to follow us, but kept his distance. As we moved, I noticed a new alley where one never was before. A female halfling was watching me. I knew who it was, but aware of Grannie Liddie’s warnings about my being in danger for having the magic I do, I pretended not to notice anything and continued on. I hope Esmeralda did not see the goosebumps on my arms under my coat.

We hired our new merc, a strong looking fighter type, and registered our new company, the Company of the Blue Dragon. We head next to Boldger’s shop to investigate, and then to the warehouse. And we will need to look into Connor’s problem soon as well. It’s kind of been a lot to take in.

View
Journal of Arnexus 7

Our first task this day was to investigate the murdered Bolger’s shop. His shop was magically warded against intrusion which is interesting if he were only the proprietor of a tea shop, but obviously based on our information from Liddie he was more than what he outwardly seemed. Oddly, within the shop magical energy not of this plane was leaking into the shop. It was energy from the plane of shadow. Genna seemed entranced by something, I suspect it was the rift and when she went into the corner she disappeared. It seems that Genna was able to enter the plane of shadows and found some packages.

One of the packages was for Lord Sherrad Telfore, a mover and shaker of the city. While it is not odd that a noble might want to move something into the city unseen the timing could make him a suspect. Within the package was ground rhino horn. I began to wonder if we found someone’s libido treatment or useful for someone with a weak constitution. Given the Lord is an albino it seems likely he’s using it for a poor constitution. There were many other packages within the shadow. It seems the halflings are using this tear into the plane of shadow in order to smuggle packages; quite clever. Genna was able to bring Rohveka through the rift to go put the package back.

There was ledger within the rift and one of the packages was missing. Something very valuable called a frost egg was missing.

As we discussed the matter there was a knock at the door. Esmerelda Black looking rather bored was the source. Apparently Esmerelda Black was her niece, something she’d failed to mention. I suppose in her defence she claimed she had just found out, but it would be rather more effective if information was more readily shared. It seems the gift “shadowwalking” runs in Genna’s family, like Bolger’s. Esmerelda claimed she had nothing to do with Bolger’s death nor the attack on Rohveka’s mother. The curse around her seemed to be intact. Then she postured about the power of halflings, quite inanenly. She claimed that the likely attackers were related to the slavers we foiled in the hills.

We decided that we needed to go visit Rohveka’s mother and Liddie. The nun would not let us in to visit her. We managed to get Slyph in to look but apparently what she saw was an illusion. This was discovered after a disguised Genna entered the room to give her the tea that Granny Liddie had given us. Rohveka and Connor wanted to enter and confront the nuns, while Genna and Slyph didn’t seem to think it was a good idea. Personally, I didn’t think all the nuns were complicit in this. I doubt they were able to counter whatever powers the forces arrayed against us were using. It seemed the best course to “attack” quickly and catch them flat footed. It was the best course to determine what was going on.

As it turns out we were right. It seemed that Roheveka’s mother was there, but something was off. Calling such out, a grey hag attacked. She was fixated on hurting Rohveka. The hag was rather resistant to our spells making subduing her rather difficult. Connor was able to grapple it in an impressive feat of skill given she had recently ripped out of a web bolt cast by Rohveka. We managed to knock the creature out and tie it up like a worm. Unfortunately the three nuns in the reception were slain and the building was set on fire. We managed to rescue those wounded within the building. It seems that whoever set the fire made themselves look like Connor. I did my best to clear up this misconception.

The Templar showed up shortly and we explained the situation to them and agreed to a compromise about questioning the hag. We brought in Liddie to aid with the matter while the hag was within the cell. The hag said that Rohveka’s mother was taken so that they could tell a story that Liddie needed to hear. She said that hags run all slavery within the world and that they made a deal to do so. She gave us half truths and attempted to anger members of our party. She admitted that the warehouse William looked at used to be their headquarters.
The hag answered the new location with a question “Where do fey oaks grow when not in an elven forest.” Rohveka knew the most about the matter which was apparently in the Nemi Grove. Apparently there are temple precincts underneath this location which is likely where the slaves have been taken.
The hag claimed she had nothing to do with the frost egg being taken and that she’d want nothing to do with it.
It seems the hags want Esmerelda Black dead, claiming she is dangerous and powerful. The hag said Esmerelda knew things that her kinds shouldn’t. The hag claimed that if we knew what Esmerelda looked for that we’d gladly accept more hags. She wants to awaken something dead. I believe the “attack” on Rohveka’s mother was a play to get us involved in harming her. All their previous attacks, assassins and their own kind, have failed. The claim of demons and angels seems a little far fetched, unless she is this Enemy our blue dragon friend spoke of. That or perhaps she is in league with the Enemy.

I had to ask if Esmerelda Black worked for this Enemy. The Hag was torn in answering the question. She knew something about it. “That which you see, was never meant to be.” was her answer. She refused to say any more.

A powerful spell attempted to erase the hag from existence. Luckily, Genna and Connor were able to resist the spell otherwise we would have been foiled entirely. The spell made us believe the hag was a con man the entire time. Genna’s cat led us into a shadow plane where we could discuss the matter. It would take a being of immense power to cast such a spell. Quite worrisome. I wonder if it is our Enemy…

Slyph wanted to resolve a family matter, which I felt could likely have waited in lieue of rescuing Rohveka’s mother and the slaves. We would likely need to ask William for aid in storming the new slaving headquarters.
View
Conflicted Spirit, Part Sept
Something lurks in the shadows....but who might it be?

Things have been growing stranger and stranger by far. As if we were not already looking behind our backs for signs of treachery, signs which followed our party no matter where we went, things have grown even stranger. Genna wanted to check out the Bolger’s shop in Highbridge. Wanting to support her and help answer questions surrounding his death, we went with her. Upon arrival, we found nothing amiss. The shop was warded with magic wards that seemed to be in place. It is odd that a tea shop would be protected by wards. Why would it need to be so? It seemed I knew far to little about halfling culture afterall.

As soon as we entered the shop, Arnexus and Genna seemed mesmerized by something in the air. There was residual planar energy. It seems to unnerve Arnexus, which puts me ill at ease….but does the opposite to Genna. While we looked around the shop, Genna was somehow drawn into another plane…disappeared completely. Out of concern we called for her, but received no answer. After several minutes, she finally emerges from a shadowy corner of the room with a package, meant for a prestigious nobleman, in hand. She told us that she had found a table laden with packages similar to these all tied with a knot that only could have been done by the Bolger. I am sorry to say the curiosity of my companions insisted in opening the package. I could hardly disagree even though it felt wrong. Still, what if these packages held the key as to Bolger’s sudden onset of a strange illness?

Inside the package was none other than powder from a ground rhino horn, an illegal item highly taxed but with many uses in various medicinal practices. Lord Telflorian was not the most healthy of men by any means. It made sense why a man in his position within the city might wish for discretion. So it was that we confirmed suspicion on bolger being a smuggler of sorts.

Genna wanted time to explore this new realm more but was highly cautioned against it. The idea of traversing another plane clearly was cautioned against by the wizard. It was for this reason that Rohveka joined her as she returned the package. What time they were away, I was nervous. What if something happened to them? It was not like we could follow… I did not like it one bit. Only when they emerged unscathed was I comforted. Genna and Rohveka then told us that they had found a ledger listing the items there. Only one package was missing, a frost egg meant for an L. Bertrove, a name which does not ring any bells. Genna did not seem to believe that the Bolger’s death was the result of an illness. She thought someone might have wanted this frost egg.

As we further discussed the matter, we heard a sudden knock on the door that startled us all. It seemed that Esmerelda knew where we were…how I do not know. It was with trepidation that we opened the door and let her in. Here before us stood the very woman who was named in the attack upon Rohveka’s mother. Sensing Rohveka’s tension, I drew closer to her. Facing this dangerous woman here and now would be disaster. We needed cooler heads prevailing.

Esmerelda then told us that she was not responsible for the attack on Rohveka’s mother, but that someone wishing to eliminate those gifted with the ability to walk through the shadow planes, the very plane we had seen Genna disappear into earlier. She went on to say that the Bolger’s death was not an illness, but the result of a very specific poison, one dangerous only to haflings. All of us were shocked by this news except for Genna. It seemed it was a highly kept secret among the halfling community, for their own safety I imagine. All Esmerelda told us seems strange but I can sense no dishonesty from her. As foul tempered a woman she is, she was not wishing us harm. She instead seemed very concerned about her niece….yes, Genna… Why had she kept such things from us? Yet, this was not all we discovered. Apparently Highbridge was built around several shadow portals. It had been a highly kept secret all this time.

So, not only are we looking for some person seeking to kill or apprehend the son of the former king, we also have someone…a very powerful someone who can transverse the shadow planes and eliminate those who also can walk the planes. Esmerelda parts with the advice that we should further seek out information on the slavers.

Rohveka wished to return to her mother. Given her state of mind after this strange encounter with Esmerelda, we all felt that we should go with her. Things were moving far too quickly…and strangely to be left alone. Still, I had not forgotten the announcement of my sister’s sudden engagement. Other matters were far more pressing, though.

When we arrived at the ward where Rohveka’s mother was being kept, we were told that she was sleeping and could not be disturbed. This highly upset Roh….eventually I was able to convince the nun that it would ease her mind to have a friend just look in on her. When I was taken to the room I was still prevented from entering. She seemed to be sleeping peacefully with three healing candles burning around her. All seemed to be normal….how could I have missed it though? It was only after Roh remembered the herbs that Liddie had given her that we discovered the truth. Genna disguised herself as a nun and snuck into the room….Roh’s mother was not there….

When Genna returned to bear this news Roh and Connor grew livid. Without taking the time to formulate a plan, they rushed off in anger back to the hospital, demanding to be let in. Even Arnexus seemed to be behind their insistence. This was not how matters should have been handled. I understood exactly why Roh was upset. Still, without a plan at hand, we were walking into an unknown situation….possibly into a trap. Roh pushed past the nurse with the rest of us at her heels only to rush into her mother’s room.

Roh’s mother was here….and awake….but Genna had said she was not here. It made no sense…. Just then Arnexus noticed that this woman shimmered while Genna saw two shadows where only one should have been…she was not as she appeared. Right before our eyes, she transformed into a hag and lunged toward Roh. A fierce battle ensues but we eventually are able to subdue her. Just as we secure her, the smell of smoke fills the halls and drifts into the room. The hospital is on fire! Genna and Roh drag the woman out while Arnexus, Connor and I try to help people evacuate. The bodies of three nuns are in the waiting area, murdered with blood pooling around them. The hag was not alone in her deception. This had been a trap….eerily similar to the one laid out for Genna’s family.

Once we are all safely out, we come upon a crowd already forming. People begin pointing and shouting that Connor was the one seen setting the fire. He has no other choice but to hide among the crowd, blending in. Arnexus tries to soothe members of the crowd just as the Templars arrive. We share with them what we discovered in the hospital and amazingly get their support to question the hag before she is punished.

Genna sends for Grandma Liddie to aid in the questioning. I am beginning to loathe hags just as much as Connor. How many were behind all of these events? After questioning we begin to discover that Roh’s, mother was taken for healing that only the hags could perform…and to “tell the story right”. It seemed that Bolger’s death too was the result of these hags so Esmerelda could be blamed for the attack. When the hag was further questioned about the slaves they had taken, she told them that they had been moved from the warehouse in Helian to “where the fae oaks grow when not in an elven forest”….the Old Nemi Grove?

That is familiar to me…. Ninkali supposedly fell in love with a mortal ranger and gave birth to seven daughters. Her husband, Hurne, hunted them so they were turned into oaks for their protection. The royal populace was so entranced with the story that they tried to recreate it. Over time the land was flooded and all remnants were washed away.

The hag is forced to tell us that there were three who had come to Helian but more than a handful were involved in this plot. They wanted Esmerelda dead and urged us to kill her for our safety. They had tried to kill her numerous times and failed to do so over and over again. If we killed her, they might even release Roh’s mother. Things turned more odd when Arnexus posed a question to the hag that she did not want to answer…actually seemed afraid to answer. Was the hag involved with the being that had corrupted the world? Her only answer was “that which you see was never meant to be”.

All of this is a blurr….Genna and Connor told us later that it was indeed a hag we had questioned and not a mortal man. Some powerful magic is at hand seeking to make us stumble. We’re getting closer…but to what?

We have to rescue Roh’s mother. Of that there is no doubt. Still…my famiy….I fear I may not see them again. I should write a letter to them…but what do I say? I know nothing of this man she is to marry. Yet, I trust my father and mother. They would protect her and see that she marries a strong man who will be good to her. Of that I have no doubt.

Goddess watch over us as we walk further down this path. We do not know what we might discover. Grant me wisdom to act wisely and help guide my companions. Walking this path in the real world is much harder than I had anticipated. I fear I am not ready…but I trust the Mother’s wisdom in sending me out. Light our path ahead.

View
Letter to Ma - 4

Ma,

What is going on? Something, bigger… scarier than any army is against us; why? Please tell me.

Roh’s mother has been taken.. I’m infuriated; no ones mother should be touched. I miss you.

The hags have some kind of underground market for slaves, and other things I’m sure. Roh’s mother was abducted by them for some reason; I’m still not sure why. They attempted to trick us, but thanks to Genna (lovely little halfling) we were able to catch them.

When I heard… I remembered you. All I thought of was if you were captured, what would I do. If any of my friends were in the same situation; what would I do?

Something dumb, as usual. But we caught the hag, we took her to the Templars. She knew something, something bigger than her, something she was terrified of. And when she got to close to telling us; the world changed. The ENTIRE world! Memories, events, people, all shifted… except myself and Genna. Something protected us.

I don’t know what is going on. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I just want to find someplace quiet and hide.

But Roh needs help; all of my friends need help. I need to stick by them.

Stay safe Ma, if all this is happening here; I can’t imagine what is going on there.

Love,
Connor

View
I hate writing journals, pt 5
Into the Shadows

This whole shadow walker thing has me so unnerved. After entering Bolger’s shop to investigate, I could see the shadow realm portals in the corners of the room. I tried to head Liddie’s warning about what might be there, and also my own fear of who might detect me using them when I approached them. Yet my caution did me no good, and I was sucked into it anyways. Thankfully, it was just a hall with some tables and some packages on them. I quickly grabbed one and attempted to return, mindful of how upset the others were at my previous disappearance. Thankfully I was able to go back to them okay.

Then my aunt showed up. I wonder if she CAN track me through the shadows. And if she can, what else can. I know Liddie seemed to think this is a skill I need for what lies ahead, but I don’t trust it. And I am used to trusting my instincts. I know the others were upset that I did not tell them of my new skills, or that Esmeralda was my aunt. How could I tell them, when the news was so raw and unsettling to me still? I would have, once I had wrestled it into some form I could deal with. I just was not given the time to do that. I am sure they have lost trust in me. But that would not be a new situation for me. Just it makes me kind of sad, as I do like most of them. Esmeralda seems to still be under the effects of the binding, and her magic contained. I don’t like her or trust her, but I feel like she was telling us the truth about not being involved in Bolger’s death, and about the connection between it and the slavers we fought. Yet I am sure there is more to it than that, and that she has her hand in the mix somehow.

I refused to go back into the shadows on my own, so to return the package (which was likely just some treatment for this albino lord), I got Roh to go with me. I was able to bring her through, so that was a comfort. It was still just the hall with tables, and we put the parcel back, but this time I took the time to look around. We found Bolger’s ledger, and were able to account for all the packages but one. The one missing contained something called a frost egg. Whatever that is. But seems like it might have been the reason that Bolger was killed, so likely something valuable or powerful.

Finding nothing more of use in the shop, and unnerved by our encounter with Esmeralda, we decided to go visit Roh’s mother. The nuns would not let us in. I could see why immediately, but could not tell the others while we were still in the presence of whatever was pretending to be the nun. I could see the emanations from the shadows around her. Slyph managed to go see Roh’s mother, from the doorway, but I did not like the whole situation. Something was off. Very off. I left to go outside, so I could prepare a disguise. When the others came out I greeted them discreetly as one of the nuns, before slipping inside. I was able to get to the room without incident, and indeed it did seem like Roh’s mother was there. Until I slipped further into the room, when the nature of the illusion was revealed. It was like a painted screen was there but with no substance to it. The room was in fact quite empty- Roh’s mother was not there. More emanations from the shadows were present, but I could not tell from when they were made.

When I got back outside and told the others, several wanted to storm in and demand answers. I was not one of them. I had no idea how many were not as they appeared, or just what the nature was of those replacing the regular nuns. Of course, we went back in. We found what seemed to be Roh’s mother, on her bed in her room. Yet she was not quite herself, and when we confronted her, what we got was a hag. The damn things are everywhere. After a fight we managed to subdue her, but not before the hospice was set ablaze. On our escape, we found some of the real nuns slain in the main entrance area. Someone set the blaze while looking like Connor, and so when we exited, several cried out that he was the one responsible. The authorities arrived and we had to explain that it was not Connor. Thankfully there were a few witnesses who I spoke with that could confirm that Connor could not be in two places at once, and one of them ran off to get Liddie at my urging.

We managed to convince the authorities to let us question the hag. She was a piece of work, and twisty and cunning. Still I think we got some truths out of her. I am concerned about who the hags work for. This one seemed almost afraid while still in awe of whatever she answers to. The hags run the slavery business it seems, and there is much more going on that just that. I am not sure what part we play in all this, but they took Roh’s mother for a reason, and maybe it was to get our attention, or maybe something else. The hag tried to rewrite history, which must be one amazingly powerful spell, but Connor and I were not affected. Once more we made our escape. Soot was most insistent about where to go. The cat led me to another shadow portal, and entered it. Not quite sure what kind of cat Soot is, but clearly an unusual one. Grabbing hold of the others, forming a chain, I entered. We had a place where we could take, even if I was not sure what might be listening to us.

We must go find Roh’s mother at the place the hag told us. Roh knew where it might be from the hags cryptic reply.

View
I hate writing journals, pt 6
Loss for words

Roh and Slyph take the cake for curiosity. I don’t want to hear anyone talk about my wandering off and finding trouble now. They played with magic and managed to activate some nexus and exchange their ENTIRE BODIES with each other. Thankfully they were able to switch back. But now Roh can look like Slyph when she wants to. Kind of a neat way to do disguises though. Part of me is envious.

We managed to find another player in the hags network out in the marsh “temple”. Not sure what she was, but we struck a deal with her to free the slaves by buying them, apparently for much more than they were worth. I really was not paying attention at the point the deal was struck, more interested in remaining hidden and seeing what I could find. I did grab some things out of the mystery creatures chest, before we left to take receipt of the slaves.

Rohs mother was among those we freed. She says that she was questioned about Esmeralda, and that the hags seemed concerned at her return. I am not sure what is going on at this point, but now that we are back in the city, I plan to find out…

View
Journal of Arnexus 8

We made our way out of the city through way of the Black Goat Gate. I am constantly bewildered at the human mode of society. That some of their people live in luxury while others languish in squalor just seems evil. It’s a matter for another time, however, as we had business to see to.

The journey toward the Nemi Grove was uneventful and even somewhat pleasant. We held up within an old abandoned stable for the evening so that we can travel to the Grove during the day. During the evening during Slyph’s watch she awoke me from my meditations We found an angel statue that had been imbued with a moonglow spell.

The next morning we forded the marsh river to get to the island upon which the Grove lay. Our more knowledgeable travelers amongst our group realized we should not traverse within the water due to poisonous eels.

It seems more of the moonglow spell was placed upon the paths. I imagine they could almost make this place more beautiful under the glow of the moon. However, the travesty that is the grove itself is most heartbreaking. I think I’ll need to get a message home informing them of this horrid creation. Perhaps a druid of my own people can either fix these trees or in the least end their suffering.

Within the temple itself lay guardian angel statues. The magic that perhaps at one time animated them was long dormant but the two angels held hag eyes. The hags knew we were there… In the future we’ll need to figure out a way to combat such things prior to being seen. Especially if we are to be fighting hags.

The first cavern within the temple held a room filled with statues of the seven daughters. Crystal chandeliers lit up the room after being exposed to light. Hobgoblins lay within. The echos within the chamber echoed strangely.

We dispatched the hobgoblins with a fair amount of ease. Rennik managed to incapacitate another one. His instincts were to question the creature. I feel they were not misplaced though we were in something of a hurry. I worried that with us approaching Rohveka’s mother was in greater danger.

The next room was rather large. It held four corner statue with a central larger statue. They represented the different aspects of Ninkali. It looked as if quick pens for animals could be set up near the four corner pillars and the hoof prints disappeared from within the area. While we investigated the room we could hear booted feet coming from the doors from the north and to the south. Our scouts, useful beings, found a secret door behind the central statue. We went within quickly to avoid the hobgoblins.

The room beyond held what we determined to be an old witchs’ circle. Apparently it still held a great amount of power. Slyph and Rohveka commenced to messing with forces they aren’t familiar with. I do not know what it will take to instill the women with wisdom and caution. I fear it will be our death if they do not find such. I feel old and crotchety lately; odd considering that i’m often thought impetuous amongst my people. I almost know what it’s like to be a parent suddenly.

Of course it gets even worse. The two continue playing about the circle. I’m not sure about everything that transpired, but it ends up with Slyph and Rohveka swapping bodies. I probably got a bit testy with them but I feel their actions were highly unwise.

The energies being thrown around were a loud beacon drawing the hags to us. They began to attack the secret door with picks trying to get through. We ran through the far end door, a VERY complex mechanism that took both Genna and Connor a while to unlock. We barred the door behind us. Prior to Connor saw what was an Annis hag. These are the brutes of the hag world, nine feet tall and purple. They can still cast spells and change shape.

The next room had four pillars brimming with energy. Apparently they had enough energy to change the two back to their old bodies. The pillars had energy attuned to the magics of witches. It’s possible the hags are using chambers like this to steal the forms of others.

While unlocking the door at the far end of this room the floor collapsed. It was a thirty foot drop which landed them in a T junction in mud. We had Connor check the double doors leading west out of this room. We had a decision to make on which direction we would go. We decided on going below. We traversed a rickety wood walkway over water and found a double set of doors. We attempted to make a quiet entrance, a suspended bed and walkways over water. A woman was sketching something out of a mirror. I’m not sure if it was something out of a hag eye or herself.

The person sitting and drawing turned out to be Morriga with Drago sleeping in the bed. They admitted to moving slaves to someplace called Secommet the City of Chains. Apparently they claim to have 70 slaves along with Rohveka’s Mother. She claimed the slaves were in cages under water that could allow them to be drowned if she willed it. She could have been lying to us but there was no way to tell. She wanted ten gold a head to release the slaves and they would no longer slave within the Crown’s lands.

I was loathe to make any deal with these horrid creatures, but it didn’t seem like we had a choice. Our mercenary did not really like this, but I don’t think he really takes a long term view of things. There is no way we’ll let these slavers lay without retribution. At the moment I don’t see any other option.

She wished to use a teleport and summoning spell, but I forbade the use of magic to travel. I did not trust her to cast spells. This all felt foul indeed… This Morriga was able to get us through the other hag, Grizzy?, and the hobgoblins. We were given an address to contact in order to be fed information about other hobgoblins. I don’t feel good about any of this.

We managed to get back to Helion rather easily. They were wanting to know the location of Esmeralda Black, which was the reason they captured Rohveka’s mother. They wanted to know about the skin plate codex. Noone is sure why this woman is a danger.

I asked about the reality warping and she said the only way for a mortal to cast such a thing would require a full coven ritual. A full coven being thirteen witches. Human magic isn’t capable of this level of power and hasn’t been since the time of the “arc wells”. Apparently these were touchstones of incredible power. Apparently the witches destroyed the arc wells. She says there must be one that was unfound for there to still exist human magic.

William Croftsly got my word and mobilized the First Legion to deal with the temple and the hag operation. We did not promise not to inform the local authorities of their location and slaving operations to our allies. Thus, in the end, we kept our promise.

One of the members of the council to the Queen is working against us. Everything is coming together to become VERY disturbing.

Rennik does not really agree with our decision. I can fully understand his distaste but as I’ve written before I really don’t feel there was another choice. What I do know is, we’ll not rest until we’ve stopped these slavers…

View
Conflicted Spirit, Part Huit
Let the Tests Begin

Mood Music

Ever since the fire at the hospital, our name has gotten around. People seem to be staring at us. Even the shadows make my skin crawl. Everything I once knew has become suspect. Never have I feared for my life or those of my companions as I do now.

Great Goddess of All Things New, I cringed to see the horror that is outside the gates of Helian. It has been some time since I ever made my way through the Black Goat Gate. I forgot the smell that lingers here….death. shivers The poor souls who live here are miserable and looking for a way out. Even the animals must suspect their ultimate fate.

Rennik approached one of the guards hoping they might be able to tell us some information on the hags. None of them believed they even existed. Sadly, had I not been faced with them myself, I would not believe either. How many others inside Helian are ignorant to the threat that has been looming here? It is exactly what these creatures wish us to believe.

Outside the gate, we crossed the haunting Last Hope to which Rennik seemed to know much about. He told us the story of the haunted watchtower. I was somewhat glad to pass into the Bones, but it was here that my heart felt as though it were ripped from my chest. Here in the forgotten swamp lands were the outcasts and poor of Helian. I wanted to pull my purse out in an offer to help. The priests of Ninkali often came here to offer help. I don’t recall things being just this bad before. Connor and Arnexus are quick to stop me, both uttering words that were not in the least kind. Around us the destitute draw nearer, desperation was in their eyes. Oh Goddess, how hard it was to turn away from them…but my companions were right. We were in danger there.

On we went to the Demi Grove, through the Swallowtail Valley. The further we head from the city, the cleaner the air is. It is somewhat of a relief to be outside the city walls again. By the time we reach the edge of the Grove, it is nightfall. Without knowledge of this fabled place, we decide it is best to camp the night in an abandoned stable. No doubt these stables were once used to house the steeds of hundreds of visitors to this place of heresy. Uncertain of the danger though Connor and Genna can find no trails other than those of animals…large numbers of animals…we decide to still post watch.

In the middle of the night, I see a strange figure. Uncertain of what might be out there and heeding the promise I made to Connor, I go to Arnexus. He hardly sleeps and is not deeply disturbed. I think he is far more cautious than I..perhaps even a tad bit paranoid. Still, we discover the worn statue of an angel with a moonglow spell upon it. The disgust I feel for this place only seems to grow with the more I learn about it. Nothing passes in the night to the relief of us all. After traversing waterways by way of raft, we soon find a path that too has the moonglow spell upon it. The hoof prints of sheep seem to have traveled this way as well…could it be that the hags have been capturing more human beings and turning them into sheep for transport? Even though we have come here to rescue Rohveka’s mother, if they have taken more slaves we must try to free them.

The path leads us to a stairway leading down flanked by two statues of angels, much like the one near the stable. This time, however, I feel something odd about them. As I look more carefully at the statues I soon discover that the inner gemstone eyes have hag eyes inside them. The hags know we have come. We proceed with utmost caution. Pulling out a hooded lantern, I shine the light ahead and seem to activate some kind of illumination spell within. It illuminates a room with the statues of what was presented as the daughters of Ninkali. Guarding the door beyond, however are four hobgoblins. Rennik tries to reason with them with little luck but manages to trade a Helian coin with one from the ship. The coins the hobgoblins were paid to protect the door were indeed Helian coins. They refuse to surrender and we are forced to fight and kill all but one. Genna secures him with manacles as we continue forward. We must get to Rohveka’s mother before the hags can harm her.

The next room holds five statues of the different aspects of Ninkali as well as one representing the daughters. The statue of the daughter stands out among the rest, making my stomach churn again. It is at the base of this very statue that Genna and Connor discover a hidden stairway. Behind us we hear the sound of reinforcements coming. We have no choice but to go down the passageway.

Inside the next room stands what appears to be some kind of channeling circle surrounded by several busts. Three seem to radiate a foul energy, pure evilness. Mesmerized by these statues with no faces, I cautiously walk around, moving closer to the evil ones. Rohveka quickly warns me to stay away from the circle. Someone is speaking to her, asking her to bring me into the circle. As I near the evil statues, I find nothing amiss though the hairs on the back of my neck rise. I know I should not touch them. I check out the statue completely opposite the evil one and find that it takes my face….mimicking my expressions and everything. It is truly fascinating. Rohveka tells me that the voice she hears says that I am the chosen one, but does not say how. This very room is a puzzle I long to figure out. Just what was it meant for? Arnexus warns us to stay away and not mess with what we do not understand. I should have listened to him….

Reaching out and touching the statue, I feel a surge of energy and the blessed presence of Ninkali. It brings tears of joy to my eyes as I feel as if I am in Her very embrace. I do not want to take my hand away, but I do so. A deep ache has awakened in me. I miss that nearness with you Goddess…you feel so far away…

Rohveka steps into the circle and the floor itself seem to slope, urging me to the middle as well. She urges me to stay outside the circle… for now. Even as she says this I cannot resist and put one foot near to the edge. The floor shifts again, tilting even more. Arnexus calls out to us telling us that it is a planar nexus meant for travel between planes. It was something we should not be messing with. Nothing happens to Rohveka though…Yet, when I entered the circle, we both begin to hover. Surprised by this new development and needing to steady myself, I reach out for Rohveka’s hand and there is an explosion of power….Roh was transformed….she looked like ME! The look upon Rohveka’s…my face is disturbing. She looks equally just as shocked and tells me that I look like her…holding my holy symbol I can still channel energy… Poor Thatch does not know what is going on. When Roh reaches for him, he transforms into a holy symbol much like mine. With him, she can even channel energy much like I can…As soon as she puts him down, however, he turns back into himself. He comes to me as if I am her….needless to say it was the most unnerving and scary thing I have ever been through….to be in the body of another…to see yourself with eyes that should be your own…no one should ever experience that.

Connor and Genna were working on a complex lock while we were stunned but now turned their attention upon us. They did not understand what had happened either. We had to find a way to make things right. Maybe the circle would return us to our proper forms! With no other option, we once more stepped into the circle and linked hands. I could feel the distress of poor Rohveka and felt the same. Luckily the pillars had enough energy to return us to our proper selves, but the process drained what power they held. Behind us we see a large hag looming, an Annis Hag Arnexus tells us. Luckily Genna is able to get the door open. As we try to escape beyond, the floor gives out beneath Genna and myself. The collapsed stairway had buffered our fall but there was no hope of getting back to our companions without a rope. Connor decides to check the way ahead to see which way was best for us to follow. While Genna and I wait, we hear soft classical music playing ahead. After scouting ahead the rest decide the safest path is the one below, away from the large hag.

We follow the corridor to a large room with bridges running to two pedestals suspended over water. On the far side is a woman sketching in front of a mirror. Suspended from the middle of the room is a bed with an unconscious man lying in it. This woman had been watching us…Rennik demands to know who she is and she gives us the false name she had been using for the past few weeks, Lady Tia. Without much prodding she goes on to say that her real name is Morriga and that the man now stirring is Captain Drago, one of many captains that help transport the slaves they capture.

Without warning the mercenary we hired shoots a bolt into the leg of the man. What was he thinking? He could get Roh’s mother and all of the slaves killed! Apparently all of the slaves are being held in spelled cages beneath the water. If anything happens to Morriga, she will kill them. We have no choice but to hear her out and play our cards carefully. The hags above, the large one named Griselle especially, wished for her to kill us, but she has other plans. She offers to let us buy the slaves if we leave her slave trade alone. There is little choice we have.

Connor moves carefully closer to her and begins to bargain with her. Of course her hatred of me causes the price to go up far more than anyone else…I guess we both find each other offensive…still, it is Yet, who can put a price on the freedom of these poor souls? Luckily Connor agrees. We all have more than enough money to pay the price she is asking, yet he goes one step further. She sweetens the deal with an offer to keep her slavers out of the provinces and also tell us the last location of all the hags she knows of. It is a deal we can hardly refuse. I know Rennik was seething with our decision, but it really was for the best. Is his lust for battle so strong that he cannot see reason? He has not seen the horrors that we have in what the hags put these poor souls through.

We agree to let her go for this information and she tries to teleport out. Arnexus is quick to stop her and force her to lead us out past the hags. She is true to her word. Griselle was not happy at all….but I was relieved that we did not have to test her in battle.

Outside the ruins we find the seventy slaves, luckily in their human form. Once Connor hands over the money they release Rohveka’s mother. With haste, we lead the slaves back to Helian away from the hags. Roh’s mother tells us they took her to find out Esmerelda’s whereabouts and to get their hands on the skin codex. We told her of the hag impersonating her and framing Esmerelda. Why is she so important to them? What is it they’re really looking for? Roh’s mother goes on to tell us that the mind wiping spell we encountered could only be done by a full coven….no covens have been formed in many many years though…

We meet William at the Black Goat Gate with several men. He assures us that he had tried to arrange for a group of men to go with us to find Roh’s mother. Someone had made sure that order never reached the men. It seems there is a traitor at work within the inner echelon of Helian. When told of Lady Tia he revealed that she had been buying up swamp lands. Most likely it was to hide her slaves upon before transport. He assured us that he would have men go and deal with the slavers.

Within the city Roh had time to spend with her mother as we all took a well deserved rest…or so it seemed. Apparently Connor, Arnexus and myself have all been plagued with strange nightmares. It is as if Ninkali is warning us of what could be. Knights of the Crimson Flame, witch hunters, had come for me….I still recall the pyre they wished to throw me on. I will never get that image from my mind….yet it is not the one that disturbs me most. It is the dream of failing Ninkali that haunts me the most.

Goddess, do not forsake me. Stay close and guide my steps. I will not fail….I will not…..I hope….

View

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