The Un-Made Crown

Journal of Arnexus 11

We had to decide what to do with our captive horror. The choices seemed to be Granny Liddie or William. I honestly wasn’t sure what was the wiser course of action. A large collumn of smoke rose up from the halfling sector of town. Though this seemed to indicate that we should take Amara to William it also meant bad things for the halflings. Slyph wanted to aid the halflings and I felt empathy for her desires, but I knew the halflings knew how to defend themselves from fire.

As we traveled along we discovered strange planar beings from the Gray Wastes had invaded the halfling section of town. Winged beings raining soot from their bodies had attacked the city. One in particular was destroyed by a single human lightning bolt. I had not known there was a practitioner within the city powerful enough to release such magic.

We had a difficult choice to make when we discovered the gates to the noble quarter were barred. We would lose the intelligence that Amara could give us regardless of what we decided. It fell to us as our first official act as the Company of the Blue Dragon whether we would inact justice upon Amara and put her to death for her crimes. I felt for those pushing to let her live but I felt that this being was evil. Rennik carried out his duty well, and as it turns out she was a construct, not a living being. It made my conscience feel better in the end, hard as the decision was.

We had to travel to help the halflings, and the city. I wanted to use Rohveka’s status as a planar nexus to shut down the invasion. Between Slyph and Rohveka we were able to come up with an idea to shut down the bridge between the attacking plane and our own. We would need four casters, however.

The chaos that greeted us upon getting to Liddie’s home was rather impressive. Grizzy and her forces as well as the forces of good were already in battle upon her arrival. We needed a fourth caster, so battle was joined…

Honestly the purpose of this document isn’t to talk about tactics and fighting, as those things are uncouth to the extreme. Our group performed well, however. Much better than our allies. Perhaps luck was not on their side, but I feel like they could have performed better. Those watching likely saw the effectiveness of our Company. I believe it will help in the future as we make a name for ourselves.

We approached a priestess of Aethon to aid us in performing the ritual. It was to be a dangerous undertaking, one that could result in death. I saw no other choice with the limited time but to perform the ritual. I will have to come up with something more efficient than a religious ritual if I am given the chance. Such a ritual should not pose a threat to those performing it as long as their concentration is not disrupted. The ritual smashed us with planar energies, sapping both body and will. I am not ashamed to admit that it knocked my unconscious. It shouldn’t be difficult to improve upon the ritual…

We were able to separate the planes while the others aided the wounded Granny Liddie. We made our way to the Old Quarter, which was tought at the time to be safe. We were all put to work in the temple aiding the wounded within the city. I was more than happy to help as were most of the rest of the group, I believe.

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Letter to Ma - 5

Dear Ma,

Things have gotten… weird. I think something has gone wrong somehow. My friends and I had decided to track down information concerning a killer from a few years back. In tracking that down we cam cross one of his victims; maybe she was a victim, she could’ve been his creation… i don’t know.

If we turn her in she will probably go free, if we kill her the slavery ring could crumble. It seems like a fairly straightforward option… but something is nagging at me… and I don’t know what it is. I feel like there is a piece to this big puzzle that we are missing. Maybe its not a puzzle, perhaps there is some coincidence to the whole thing.

I don’t know what is going to happen next, but whatever it is, just know that I will be okay.

Love ya Ma.

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Conflicted Spirit, Part Neuf
Conflict Rising

It seemed the nights were not peaceful for many in our group. Foul dreams plagued Arnexus and Connor too, though none dreamed of meeting their end at the hands of cultists. With little sleep we all gathered for breakfast to determine what to do next. Arnexus and I both agree that we need to find some place to call our own so that we do not discuss sensitive matters in public. With more people wishing us harm, we need to make sure we are well protected.

Rennik tells us that he had spoken to William a day or two ago about some things he had come across. Apparently someone, possibly a hag, has been pretending to be Rohveka and meeting a captain of the city watch. It is from this that he believes the hags are behind the hauntings at the Watchtower. He even presented a couple of letters that seemed to point back to the hags and their manipulations.

Rennik was relentless in his grilling of questions when I let slip Genna’s secret. I feel horrible about it. I was not thinking as the idea came to mind. It just was blurted out before I could retract it. I fear Genna will never forgive me and count me as someone she trusts after my loose tongue. I don’t know how I can make it up to her, but I will try.

The sellsword we hired went on to say that William was willing to offer a reward for clearing the tower out from whatever might be there and putting these rumors to rest. He wanted us to do this deed for the city, but we did not have much time to discuss it before a scream outside caught our attention. We all rushed outside to see what was going on.

A woman was lying on the ground with an arrow through her leg. Another woman is walking toward her while drawing her crossbow. The emblem on her leathers is one I know very well….she is a member of the Knights of the Cleansing Flame. Chilled at the mention of their name. She goes on to tell Rennik that the woman is wanted back in Draethen for using witchcraft without being registered. It is a silly crime, and certainly one that called for someone to be hunted down. Wary though I was, I could not just stand by and let her take her away. Still, there did not seem to be any malice toward me…just that I do not go anywhere near to her and touch her. Rennik and Arnexus demanded to know the charges against her. When the woman said she was brought up on charges for breaking the minds of four different people, the pair soon came to near blows. Rennik was not going to let us stop the woman for taking the runaway back to Draethen while Arnexus said there was no way she was going back. He wanted assurances that no harm would come to her.

When I asked what might be done to her, the woman said her connections to her powers would be severed. It is better than the burning pyre in which I had dreamed of….still…to have something that is a part of you ripped away? Luckily the city watch happen by and assure us that the woman will not be taken without a constable looking over the order. The bounty hunter allows us one further step in saying if one of my sisters who can discern truthtelling speak to her and determine her to be innocent that she will do what she can to have the charges dropped. There is not much more we can do, much to my disappointment.

Before we could leave, however, the woman caught sight of Rohveka and I saw a change come over her. I immediately warn the woman that this is not Draeken and that she has nothing to concern herself with here. Reluctantly she turns her attention away….or so I thought. When we return to the inn to sort through our differences and determine whether Rennik will continue on with The Company of the Blue Dragon or not, Connor is alerted. Apparently the bounty hunter was sticking around outside.

Inside the inn, however, we come upon another familiar face…Esmerelda. She insists in speaking with Genna quietly after scolding Rohveka and warning her about the Knights of the Cleansing Flame. We allow Genna the privacy she needs and listen as the men of our party try to sort through their differences and determine if Rennik will stay or go.

When Genna returns, she looks deeply troubled by what Esmerelda had told her. She wants to see Grandma Liddie. Some of our group, howerver, are not so receptive to her news. Unable to listen to the bickering any longer, Rohveka and Genna make their way to Grandma Liddie’s….I of course follow. Rohveka and Genna should not be alone in these strange and dangerous times.

Grandma Liddie gives us another lead to a woman called Amara Naren, the only woman who survived an attack by a serial killer. Though she escaped, she did not come out unscathed. Crippled and unable to walk, she is forced to use a wheelchair as a means of getting around. After the horrors she faced, she has become a source of great social justice within the city. It is her we must go and see to find answers to our questions.

We made our way to the conservatory where we were able to question Amara about Morgana, her sister. The two vehemently disagreed on their stance on slavery. Morgana fully supported the slave trade. Was she the mastermind behind it here in Helian? Amara tells us where she believes Morgana is staying and we immediately depart.

The inn she was believed to be staying in was none other than our own! How could this be? Still, by the time we arrived, the place had been set ablaze. Was this the work of the bounty hunter or Morgana wishing to cover her tracks? Genna did some digging to find out what had happened and came across a halfling man who gave a description of a man that could have been any number of people within Helian. We had to be getting closer…the hags were at work again. I knew it.

With no further leads, we were forced to return to the warehouse where the serial killer had done his foul deeds. Connor believed it to be a good location the headquarters of our division….such an idea repulses me though. How many people died in this warehouse? How many foul deeds were done here? It reeks of darkness and evil. While further searching the building, we discovered that he must have done experiments on his captives….there could be no other explanation for the strange equipment we found.

After more digging by my companions, two notebooks were discovered with notes concerning possible experiments on women to create the perfect specimen…whatever that might mean. He even spoke as if he had done just that. The woman in the sketch was none other than Amara Naren!

Just then lasers ripped through my body, leaving me in horrible agony as my attacker tried to flee. Luckily others of our party were not harmed in the attack and were able to pursue….but soon lost track of them. They could only say that it was a small person, possibly a midget or halfling.

Wary of the news we found, we returned to Amara, seeking answers to our obvious questions. She seemed to be somewhat expecting us…or at least was nervous about our being there. She was not as reserved this second time around. When asked about what happened to her, she dodged the questions. It was only when she touched the notebooks that there was a…sadness? sense of loss? a definite change about her persona. Connor asked her if the serial killer had been her master and she once more dodged our questions. The more Connor asked, the more clear it began to be. She was continuing his work.

Connor attacked her with his crossbow, knowing she needed to be stopped. How many more had to die? Our group was able to subdue her and once more Genna’s manacles were used to subdue her. Amara admitted to being the mad killer’s creation. As a result of his experiments she now suffered a rare bone condition, which is why she needs her wheelchair. It was she who had created the slave ring with the hags so she could continue his experiments. Without them,s he would die. She was not his only creation, though. There were others..sisters as she called them. The poor deluded woman believed there was no way she would spend a day in jail for her deeds. Not knowing how we should handle matters, Genna and the woman traded disguises after she was knocked out. Once more we head to Grandma Liddie’s.

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I hate writing journals, pt 7
A risky gamble

Having found Adler’s hangout, read his journals, and been confronted by an old nemesis of mine, I realized that we were mixed up in things much more complicated than any of us could have foreseen. When we went back to Amara, Connor seemed to see that she was not quite as innocent as she appeared, and drew his sword on her. This prompted a battle and some telling reveals from Amara, or rather, the thing Adler created out of Amara and other victims, and kludged together with some strange alchemy.

Amara claimed to be continuing his work, in order to find a cure for the bone rot that afflicted the the flesh of Amara. She had no remorse for killing anyone to achieve her goals, likening it to nothing more than killing plants. She is clearly insane. The creation is flawed. We managed to subdue her, and manacle her. The others seemed to want to bring her in to justice, but the way I see it, if she is the brains of the operation, as she claims, then she would not remain long in custody, and will never see any justice. The only justice we can obtain is though her death, if we did it now. I pulled my knife to do the deed, but two things stayed my hand. The first was the rest of my company, who wanted to get information from Amara. The second was Amara goading me on to kill her. Why would she want me to kill her? That made no sense given her single-minded pursuit of a cure for her disease. That Rennick recalled some mention of regeneration from the journals was what started my mind racing for other options.

The masks! I could wear the Amara one, and put another, say Morriga’s on an unconscious Amara. If I then deflected the cause of the injury to Morriga onto myself, as the halfling Genna, the only one if us to enter who would not be exiting with us, then perhaps we could get out of there!

So much risk. Getting the disguises right. Bluffing any guards on the way out. That no one in the company would give anything away…. But it seemed like the best option. Rennick knocked Amara out, and I put the plan into motion. Morriga’s mask on Amara. The Amara mask on myself. Getting the wheelchair figured out and donning Amara’s clothing and posture. Before I could break the glass of one of the exterior windows, the dead servant was freed from his muteness and told us to be careful, and that he could give us much more info. He suggested we hide him though, since Amara had broken his legs in her attack on us, and he was unable to hide himself. This we did, and then I broke the window at halfling height.

As expected, this brought in the guards, and I quickly ordered them to “Find that halfling!” The one who had attacked Morriga. Genna. The guards obeyed, and we hastened to the exit, carrying “Morriga” with us. The gate guards wanted to come with us, or follow us, but I think I convinced them that I (as Amara) was in safe hands with the Company of the Blue Dragon, who were investigating the current Adler copycat killings.

I had to blame myself, blame Genna for the attack on Morriga. But as others already know we are being impersonated (William, the Cousins, and likely Grannie Liddie now if the one warned her) we should be able to say even we were fooled by this impostor Genna in our midst, who attacked then fled through the window. The real Genna can be found bound somewhere, I am sure… Now we just need to get Amara somewhere we can hold her and question her. Arnexus seems to want to take her to William, but I don’t think officials can hold her… I think we should take her to Grannie.

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Journal of Arnexus 10

After finishing with Granny Liddie we decided to pay a visit to Amara Narren. She seems a lovely lady who has been done much wrong. Unfortunately it also turns out she is the half-sister of Moriga. Apparently Moriga is a half elf who is the daughter of Amara’s father. An interesting occurence that I will have to look into in the future. Also, Moriga seems to have a thespian bent to her. We recieved a clue that she is staying at an inn within the noble quarter. She did not have an idea of what the hags might be up to.

Our next step was to find the inn that Moriga was frequenting. When we found the likely location it turned out that it lay within the same block as our own inn. It was on fire. A hag in the guise of Genna told the halflings to set the fire and blame it on a northman. We NEED a way to prove we are who we are and that we haven’t done the wrongs the hags try to blame upon us.

Our next stop was to visit William Croftsly. We set up a way for him to prove who we were, and recieved a written note with William’s seal. We told him to not trust anything we said unless we showed him this, our seal of the Blue Dragon and Slyph’s religious scroll. Hopefully that should keep the shenanigans to a minimum.

We were running short on clues and new information. Our last lead was to investigate the warehouse. Slyph proved worth of her name as a priestess by putting hundreds of ghosts to rest, saving Rohveka from the illness they caused her. Genna revealed her talents as a sorceress, skilled in magic of the blood. This site was build upon ley lines of ancient power. They had tapped into blood magic, making Genna the best judge of its power. Connor was able to find stairs downward that led into an extensive laboratory. Some of the spells prevented others from noticing things. This took extensive magical skill to create.

Someone very disturbed set up this lab. Jars had the symbol of the Dispator upon it, the second layer of hell’s ruler. Apparently it’s likely he had connections to this serial killer, the Addler. We found a detailed notebook on how and why the women that were slain were chosen for the great purpose. The Addler believed that women possessed a feminine power that allowed them to lie, cheat and steal and get away from them. Obviously he was quite insane. Anyone can do these things. He chose the women due to the women’s ability with these powers. It is interesting that he chose Amara Naren as possessing these abilities. The back of the notebook suggested these women were his second choices. There was a cabinet that showed his perfect choices.

We were able to find this cabinet by working together. It had a glyph that prevented scrutiny, but we were able to find it eventually. The cabinet contained one large empty jar and another notebook. It has praise for the perfect pieces to make the perfect speciment to prove his theorem. It turns out he was attempting to build something of perfection, and likely a women. He didn’t specify. Upon the last pages was a drawing bearing a striking resemblance to Amara Naren. Different handwritting ont he last page was someone writing, “I will carry out your work, master.”

A female halfling set off the traps within the laboratory, harming all of us with the exception of Connor and Genna, who’s nimble abilities protected them. Through Genna and Connor’s help we made it through the death traps.

Amara Naren is a horrid creature, as it turns out. She claims to be the brain trust of the slave operation. She has been attempting to regenerate herself. I fully believe she’s been carrying out the murders in the city. It provided us with quite a quandry. She claims to have information about the slaving operation, but she is quite clearly not sane and very evil. We had to chose between bringing her out or killing her and leaving. Her servant was undead, and controlled well by her. We had Genna disguise herself as Amara, and disguised Amara as Moriga. We hide Maxwell, the undead servant within the bushes so we could hopefully question him later.

Genna’s bluff worked quite well and we left the noble compound with the uncouncious Amara in tow.

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Treachery
Who to trust?
The Hags seem to be far more treacherous than I suspected. They have sown the seed of suspicion and chaos amongst the people and rulers of Helion. The further the investigation goes into tracking down these Hags, the more questions arise. What are their true motives? I can’t imagine slavery alone is their true purpose. These Hags and their puppeteers seem to be using their ability to assume the forms of others, to make moves within and around the city, but once again, to what purpose? As part of our investigation and the companies need for a more secure and permanent residence, we took a look around the old “haunted” guard tower, that is also a suspected Hag safe house. The tower seems to be of sound construct. Designed to be easily defensible by a small cadre, against a superior force. Well, the tower turns out to be Sasha “the Mad” Adler’s hideout and there was quite a bit of body parts, preserved in jars. From everything I saw and my rudimentary knowledge of magic and alchemy, it would appear as though Adler was creating a “Flesh golem”. We had a “little” visitor while we were investigating the tower. A “Halfling”, diminutive human in actuality, sprung one of the Adler’s traps on us. The “Halfling” seemed to know Genna, as she addressed her by name and spoke to her in a familiar tone. So, apparently, Amarra, is a “Flesh golem” or something of that sort. We’ve taken her captive. It’s time to get down to the bottom of things.
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Journal of Arnexus 9

We sat discussing what our next actions are. It seems there are many options available to us in the future. Slyph was correct, however, we need a more defensible position. While we discussed the matter a scream sounded from the street.

It seems a bounty hunter had attacked a woman Corra who in Draythen was wanted for unliscensed witchcraft. It seems that Rennik is more concerned with law than what is right. I was not willing to turn over the woman to the bounty hunter for something that may not be wrong in Helion. I wasn’t willing to turn her over to oppressive law. I’m unsure how useful Rennik will be if we have to sit and argue over ideals every time we have to do something. I dislike how things turned out, but I recieved the word of the magistrate that they would use a truthseer to verify the woman’s crimes before sending her back. I realize that is the extent of what I could do in this situation, but I do not like it. The conditions these humans live in cause my heart to ache. I shall do my best to try and improve them, but I don’t know how successful I’ll ever be. Our minds are created differently.

Esmerelda was waiting for us when we returned to the inn. She and Genna walked off to discuss things. Connor was worried that the bounty hunter would take word back to Draythen about Rohveka. Apparently he sensed fear in the woman when she saw Rohveka. I think it is a very wise worry. We shall have to keep our eyes sharp.

We then proceeded to have a long discussion about philosophical matters. Genna and Rohveka did not have the patience to settle the matter. I’m not sure where Rennik lays in our regard, but we had to lay down an ultimatum on standing beside us or against us. We cannot afford to have someone we do not fully trust at our side. Matters are truly too grave.

We had to rush to catch up to the Ladies, who would not await the end of the discussion. They went to Granny Liddy’s home to ask her for information. She asked Liddy about Amara Naren. Apparently it is a woman who attempted to save a serial killer of women from the death penalty. She wished to prevent his death so that he would not obtain a position of power within the lower planes. A noble goal to be sure. She is a scholar that lives in the noble quarter; the Old Hidemarch Manor.

I asked Granny Liddie about the witch hunter and she said that tieflings are outlawed within Draythen. I sincerely hope that this is all the reaction was based off of.

I asked Liddie about the fox woman and apparently it is an old method of learning magic; or where magic came from. I shall have to investigate further…warily.

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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….

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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…

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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…

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