The Un-Made Crown

Conflicted Spirit, Part Onze
The Shining Knight Amid the Darkness

How many days has it been? I cannot tell. I cannot get the man off my mind…and what I did. Every corner I turn, I dread running into him. Luckily such is not the case.

Eventually Arnexus, Rohveka, Connor, Genna and myself are able to slip away and get some much deserved rest. Goddess I have never been so tired before. I do not remember when I closed my eyes. One minute I’m asleep and another I am awake again and well rested. Thankfully the nightmares did not return this time. Were it not for exhaustion I fear I never would have slept.

We break our fast together and discuss the rumors milling about the city. No one has reported anything about Amara Naren’s remains or even her wheelchair. Surely someone would have come forth about her disappearance if nothing else. We agree that Sir William Croftsley needs to be made aware of what happened before news reaches the Queen and her advisers. Yet, before we leave we realize Genna is not with us. We know she left the Temple with us….. Where had she run off to now?

Just then a young messenger approaches us and says he has a missive for the Company of the Blue Dragon. Arnexus agrees to sign for it while Connor takes the missive. Of course all of our nerves are on edge after all the things that have happened in the city. We’re even more uneasy after Connor sees the seal of House Naren.

Apparently the deceased Amara Naren has invited us to a tea… I have a bad feeling about this. When discussing whether we should go, I offer the thought that Genna may already be there which is why we have been summoned. If Amara was alive…how I don’t know…she would not hesitate to have a second chance in eliminating us. We have little choice. We must go and see what she wants.

When we arrive at the estate, we are ushered inside. The guards seem a little gruff with us, but do not harm us. Apparently it is against Amara’s wishes that we come to any harm….that is by anyone but herself. We are lead into the Arboretum where a table is set for us and Amara sits at the head…oh yes….it is her alright.

Wary of what unruly magic and construct she might have summoned this time, I go and take a seat to her left, making sure to let the light of Ninkali wash over to her just in case she might be undead. Connor and the others, however, stay far away. For one so recently recalled from death, she seems rather jovial and amused at our wariness.

Amara claims she wishes to start over with us, but Connor is not willing to play her games. Immediately he asks her if she still wishes to murder people to which she laughs. It is not an evil or cruel laugh but one of pure glee….

Genna!!!! That sneaky little halfling! After all we’ve been through she does this to us?!

Of course we demand to know what is going on. She proceeds to say that she came back and took on the visage of Amara after one of the woman’s servants came to her about something stored in her labs. Apparently there is a plague that could wipe out the entire kingdom or parts of it hidden away inside her personal lab. By taking on Amara’s likeness Genna was able to do some investigating and find out some more information. She needs our help in destroying this bone plague for which there is no cure.

Clever girl! Still, she should have been more forthcoming.

She leads the way up the stairs to the second floor where Amara’s bedroom and study is located. Connor and Genna open the door with little trouble and discover that this is where Amara had kept all her financial records. Apparently her estate is vast and investments numerous. Knowing we need to see the laboratory we close the door and head to the third floor.

The laboratory door has one of the most complex locks we have ever come across before. Connor and Genna tell us that there are several linked traps joined to the five part locking mechanism. They both work on the door while the rest of us stand ready to aid them in what ever way we can. Given Amara’s love of locks and traps, we expect the worst. When we hear that final click I close my eyes and offer a quick prayer to Ninkali….but alas Connor and Genna did it!

As we enter the room we find glassware hanging from the ceiling, glass jars filled with body parts and strange fluid…it is similar to what we had found inside the basement of the warehouse. Before we can look around much more we hear a disembodied voice of Amara haunt us as a misshapen?…no…malformed?….no…..a piecemeal raven? owl? all of the above? sitting upon one of the glass jars. It tells us that its master would not want us here, to which I point back to Genna. The creature, however, is not amused. It knows Genna is not its true master. It has a bit of her inside it….so it claims.

Connor acts quickly as the bird tries to take flight and tries to knock the bird down. Rohveka and Arnexus too aid in stopping the bird creature as it tries to get to a cabinet. We are able to subdue it and Connor kills it with ease. As his blade pierces the bird, however, a silvery crackle of light appears around him, baffling…but now makes a little sense. Connor is far more than he seems, but alas I am getting ahead of myself.

We further investigate the room and discover two large contraptions facing a table that are capable of making the virus airborne. This whole lab is one giant distribution center! Several other mechanisms are throughout the room linked to various ways to release the plague should anyone tamper with them. Amara was serious about releasing this plague, but why?

Inside the cabinet the winged creature was trying to access is a human pieced suit with an opening at the top large enough for the bird. It was this it was trying to reach.

From what we scrounge up in the lab we discover that Amara did not create this virus but was able to improve upon the one her master, The Addler, had worked with. Apparently she had become fixated on this disease that not only affected her but she believed to be the divine hand of the gods. Only paladins with their ability of laying on hands are able to help lessen the effects of the plague, but they themselves cannot be infected. Priests and healers of other callings are unable to do anything to protect or heal the poor souls who have caught this dreadful plague. Why would anyone create such a horrific disease? I cannot fathom the reason…nor the mentality….

Further notes indicate that the green liquid in the glass jars contains the concentrated disease. There is no known cure, just as we had been told. We know we must destroy this lab, but without more information, we do not know how to do it safely. Connor and Genna disable the distribution center from inside to prevent any release from happening through the tunnels Amara had set up.

Then and only then do we turn our attention to another locked room, trapped similarly like the door. It must be her private library where she held all of her research. With the help of Ninkali Connor and Genna once more are able to open the door to reveal a treasure trove of books, some forbidden, some full of recipes and notes. It would take a lifetime to go through all of these books. I already see Arnexus’s eye drawn to a particular book. Before we touch anything though we check for more traps but find protections upon the books only. It seemed Amara never expected people to get this far.

Further in the room Connor finds a door that is much like a vault. As he approaches the door, standing in front of a window, the glass shatters and an arrow pierces him in the shoulder. An assassin! As turn to him and he removes the crossbolt, we hear a whirring sound. Immediately someone grabs it and throws it out the window where it explodes and sends pieces of shrapnel and gears flying everywhere.

Connor attempts to take out the assassin just as we hear a thud and the walls to the building begin to shudder and quake. Large hell hounds emerge from it before us. We have little room to maneuver and all chances of reaching Connor are lost as long as these beasts are here. One by one we unleash our might upon them, with me calling forth the might of Ninkali’s mightiest lightning.

Connor shouts something I do not completely hear…something about these things not having us….but honestly my mind was on the hounds and keeping them away from my companions. When I do chance a glance back toward Connor he looks different….radiant….more like a valiant king than ranger.

The last beast is sent back to its realm as Connor turns his attention back to the assassin. He shoots true and pierces her chest as she falls to her death. Breathless I turn my attention back to Connor just in time to see him collapse and the silvery glow about him dissipate.

Hurrying to his side, a celestial creature summoned by Arnexus draws near and hovers over Connor. It tells him “He is risen, he is born anew. The Shining Knight has been found”….

In wonder I look up to the Celestial before it fades. Turning my attention back to Connor I feel the energy of Ninkali surge within me and wash over his wounds. My mind however still reels from what the Celestial had said. The Shining Knight is a folk tale that has been around since the death of the king. It tells of the Knight restoring the kingdom. Could it be?

Genna unlocks the door to the vault as I continue to tend to Connor. They tell me there are all sorts of items inside, varying from collectibles to jewels….many items.

With our inn burned and no other place to go, we agree to stay within the estate as Amara’s guests while looking further into this plague and these strange items.

It was after that night that the nightmares returned again. This time, however, they do not fade when I awaken. The normal darkness of early morning filling the room is gone….I can see through the shadows….and whispers….vile whispers of demons fill my mind as my hands glow red. What is happening to me? Oh Goddess what is happening to me?!

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Journal of Arnexus 12

These dreams create more questions than answers. My head is filled with arcane knowledge I had previously not possessed. What is the purpose of these fox beings in sharing this knowledge? I am assuming they are foes of our Enemy, but this assumption could prove dangerous. I shall, without a doubt, be very mindful of using and studying this magic. My studies will also pull out other possibilities.

The past two days have reaffirmed that humans may have some potential after all. I think it’s an individual’s ideals that make them community centered over self centered. I know there are those that will likely take advantage of the devastation wrought by the planar beings but as a whole the humans have rallied to help those in need. This is good.

We decided to set off and talk to William Croftsly about the events that had transpired with Amara Narren. I had, had the idea of perhaps given Amara’s criminal/monstrous personality that perhaps we could be granted the estate as a base of operations. Instead we recieved a summons from Amara Narren.

We were noticeably wary as we were ushered into the arboretum once again. Eventually Genna revealed that she was disguised as Amara and that the servant Malcom had a goal for us in mind. Despite my mischevious nature, given the extreme paranoia we all have been feeling lately left me ill in the mood for pranks of this nature. I found the “joke” to be in bade taste.

Apparently we need to destroy Amara’s laboratory in order to prevent the true Amara from coming back. There was also a plague within the laboratory that required destruction. We decided to investigate the lab. Within the lab we found equipment suited to a madman, or woman. Within was another monstrous creation, some sort of golem bird familiar creature. We were able to destroy the strange creature. There was a body within a cabinet that would have taken the bird and allowed it to control the contrust. Quite disturbing.

We were able to find a way of removing the lab’s ability to disperse the virus, but we weren’t really able to determine how to destroy the virus itself. We are going to have to safeguard this incredibly virulent creation until we can determine how to destroy it.

Within the next room are Amara’s study. There were many books within the room that should not have been written. Others I believe may be useful in my magical research. I’ve made a note on the side of the tomes that look the most promising. If I get the chance I shall investigate further.

While investigating the room Connor was attacked by an assassin through the window. We were then set upon by three hellhounds. Connor was changed when the attack occured. His posture was more authoritative and strong, his attacks harmed the hounds greatly. The rest of the group performed admirably as well. I was worried about collateral damage with the attacks but we neutralized the threat quickly.

The lantern archon I summoned for the fight said something over Connor while he fell to his knees after the fight:

“He is risen, he is born anew. The Shining Knight has been found”

Interesting. I do feel that we shall have to guide Connor toward leadership, though I know he doesn’t desire it. I have found those worthy of power but not desiring it are best to lead. I feel his empathy would suite him well as king. We shall see.

We made our way into the vault and found quite a few items of magic. It looks like we have our work cut out for us on all the various tasks arrayed out before us…

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Conflicted Spirit, Part Dix
Poor Judgement in Darkness

With our prisoner disguised we know we must decide what to do with her. If we take her to William there is a chance she might be set free. Still, I feel it is not for us to judge what her fate might be. William has proven to be trustworthy in the past. With the evidence against her, we can prove her guilt. Of this I do not fear. Still, the thought of taking her to Grandma Liddie seemed to also have merit. There are things she can do that William cannot.

Our decision has to be made swiftly as we see smoke rising from the Lower District…the same district where Grandma Liddie lives. I insist that we head there. Persons might be injured and our help would be needed. The others, however wanted to head to William. Their reasoning was if there was trouble at Grandma Liddie’s that there is a chance our prisoner could escape. We cannot let her go.

So, against my better judgement, I agree to follow them to William. Precious time is lost as once we arrive we see the gates sealed. The gates are never sealed unless the city is under siege and the Queen’s life is in danger. We hear an ear piercing shriek in the air above us, humanoid with wings, claws, etc. It is shadowy as if is covered with soot. It is a creature from the Gray Wastes. It is a part of the demon fields, foot soldiers. It appeared from nothingness. As it banks to swing down into the city a lightning bolt comes up from the royal precincts and disintegrates it.

Whatever is happening we cannot delay any longer. We must help those in the Lower Districts. My fellow companions decide it is too risky to take Amara. They ignored my protests against killing her claiming it was our right and duty as an adventuring company to deal with this threat. Every person, evil or not deserves a trial and a just outcome. My pleas fell on deaf ears as Rennik stepped forward and ended her life. I will never forget the sight…seeing a head severed from a body. It will haunt my dreams forever. I prayed to Ninkali to show forgiveness to my companions for their deed. Goddess forgive me too.

I did what I could to serve last rights, sanctifying the body with holy water to wash her clean of her deeds in preparation for the Crone. The body started sizzling and smoking! She was not alive but a flesh golem! What kind of person could craft such a foul creature and pass it off as a respectable lady of the kingdom? If I had not seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it!

We run through to the Burrows to find all in utter chaos. Genna had urged us before we arrived to say she had not been with us earlier, but that seemed to be a moot issue. Demons were everywhere fighting against townspeople and…could it be? Vestial Knights! I felt my heart swell and will strengthen just in seeing them in this fight. The Vestial Knights were here! It truly was a magnificent fight.

It was Rohveka’s words that helped ground me and steel me to our purpose here. The planar energies were twisting and warping. The demons that were here were fluctuating in and out as if they were not fully here. I knew of an ancient but deadly Ninkali ritual that might keep the two planes from locking, but we could not do it alone. We needed another to help us complete the link. If we failed…such could not happen. I urged Rohveka to shift into my form to protect her and we all joined in the battle, fighting our way toward what remained of Grandma Liddie’s home.
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Genna was beside herself but fought bravely as we ultimately faced Griselle. We were not alone, though. The Vestial Knights joined in as well as a few others. One was a strange dwarf commanding a stone golem. Another joined in with glowing swords, one fiery and the other cold as ice. The strangest sight of them all was a priestess of Aethon who hurled blindingly pure white energy toward the hag.

I lend what aid I can, channeling the light of Ninkali around me to heal those wounded. A wolfman thanked me and gleefully joined the battle. Oh how I longed to be at the side of one of the Vestial Knights. I should be in there as well. Still, I hold firm healing those I can and aiding my companions.

The words of Connor come to mind as I long to enter the battle. I should stay back and continue what I’m doing. Yet, an opportunity presents itself that I cannot resist. Rushing in toward the bowed hag, the one who has haunted our dreams and tried to end us before, I unleash what should have been a glorious attack only to have her fling me like a rag doll away. Stunned and unconscious I hear the sounds of battle so far away, chiding myself for such foolish actions. Was this to be the end?

Alas, such was not the case. Feeling the warmth of Ninkali fade away again, I open my eyes just as Griselle is just about to fall, which she finally does. Genna immediately goes in search for Liddie, but I know no time can be wasted. With what strength I have left, I approach Arnexus, Rohveka and the priestess of Aethon to assist in the ritual. Though I warn them it is a dangerous ritual, Connor forces me to say what I had not wanted to do. It could kill any one of us. Yet, there was no other choice to save the city.

Lady Candice Noirdane, Priest-Huntress of Saint Benador of the company of the Shining Beacon, and Rohveka are able to hold the planes together as my strength and that of Arnexus falters. I remember little else of that time after the planes were secured. It is only the warmth of Ninkali rousing me and renewing my weak spirit that eventually ushers me back to reality. Rohveka…if you only knew what a gift you possess….

Liddie is found underneath rubble and is unconscious. Genna and Renniks attempts to rouse her fail. Renewed by Ninkali, I call upon her aid to once more channel her light toward the poor halfling woman. It is Connor, however, that finally is able to get her to open her eyes. The priestess urges us to leave the area as the planes still are unstable. Even though Helion is now safe, it did not survive without some scars. I suggest we return to the Temple where Liddie can receive the aid of my sisters.

As soon as we arrive, I am immediately grabbed and pulled away from my companions to aid in tending the wounded. Day blends into night. The strength of my body fades and is renewed yet again by the healing energies swirling about me. I feel strung out and as used as a wet towel. If I do not sleep, I fear I will collapse. It is then that a desperate man comes to me…no grabs me and begs that I aid his wife. I try tell him that we are doing what we can for everyone, but he is hysterical. I have nothing left within me. I am utterly spent. He does not listen to reason and He insists and nearly becomes violent. He must calm down. Reaching out a hand to try to calm him, I felt…..I felt….his will crumble beneath mine. His eyes glossed over and soon cleared as he immediately calmed. Those words he uttered….I shall never forget them:

“Yes Priestess, as you wish.”

It was the way in which he said them…almost as if it were a command given by a superior. I looked at him dumbfounded at first, but he stayed at my side awaiting my command. A chill still crawls up my spine at the way he waited. I did not know what else to do. I told him to return to his wife and tend to her as a loving husband. I did not know what else to say.

He…obliged….he went.

What happened? What did I do? HOW did I do it? Is he okay? Was it something permanent or temporary? I am afraid to even find out the answer. I was tired! Exhausted! Could he not see it? Oh Divine Goddess, what have I done? What have I done?

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I hate writing journals, pt 8
It wasn't a dream

While we were still deciding what to do with Amara, torn between taking her to Liddie or William, columns of smoke began rising from the halfling quarter. This forced us to make the choice of going to William, fearing that we would lose Amara in whatever chaos was afflicting the halflings. As it turned out, several guards passed us on the way to deal with the trouble. They urged me, disguised as Amara, to head back to the safety of my home and stay there, as the city was under attack by winged fiends of some sort. I assured them I would, as soon as I was concluded my task.

We got the the noble district, but the gates were barred, something that never happens unless the city is in danger, such as an attack. Being now stuck with Amara, we had to decide what to do with her, as companies such as ours would be needed in repelling the attackers. Arnexus voted for immediate justice, which as a company we have the right to do. I agreed, but given how Amara wanted us to kill her, I cautioned that we needed to make it a very thorough execution, with a full beheading. I’d even prefer to burn the remains, but that did not seem to be feasible with our current location and means. Slyph objected, but I really did not see we had any other choice. Sure, getting info from her would have been preferable, but I did not think it likely we would even if we had kept her alive, as her escape was the more likely outcome. So with that, death was the right choice. It turned out she was not even really alive, and was a construct, so no wonder she did not fear “death”. We made sure to separate her head from her body, and we put her body back in her chair, and I discarded the disguise. To make sure it seemed I had been held somewhere, captive, I put rope burns on my wrists. Then we headed to the halfling area.

Upon arriving at Grannie Liddie’s, we found her house and most around it, in smoldering ruins. Numerous creatures were arrayed in the remains and around it in combat. The one that caught my attention was the 18 foot tall Grizelda from my dreams. She was ensnared by shadowy tendrils, and being held by a large creature of rock. Other beings were attacking her too, and battles raged nearby between the flying fiends and some sort of mounted holy warriors. The battle seemed to be almost evenly waged by both sides. But it was Grizelda, tall as in my dreams, and held by the tendrils that shook me to the core. I could not see Esmerelda, but she had to be nearby. That the hag was now so tall, well, I don’t think what I saw was a dream so much as a vision.

We knew we needed to get Grizelda out of the way if the casters (I was not counted among them, as the strength of my new abilities is not yet understood) were to enact the ritual that Slyph recalled. To get the hag, we needed to clear the way, so this we proceeded to do. We had to go through 3 creatures on our own, and then a few more that were engaged with the warriors, before we could turn our attentions to the gigantic hag.

By a joined effort of all of us, we managed to get lucky with a hold spell, and several attacks. It was not easy, but our combined forces finally brought the hag down. Slyph, Arnexus, Rohveka, and one of those that were fighting the hag when we got here performed the ritual to severe the link between our realm and the other plane. It seemed to work, but Slyph and Arnexus fell to the ground during it. While they worked, I searched what was left of Grannie’s home for some sign of her. I found her, badly broken but still alive in the wreckage. Thankfully Connor was able to stabilize her, when I could not, and she opened her eyes long enough to thank us before falling back unconscious. We decided to head to safer ground, the Temple being the choice preferred. At least there, there would be healers to help the wounded. The halflings were looking at me for direction, so I told them to go to the Temple, which they did. I did search briefly for any sign of Esmerelda in the ruins of Grannie’s house, but all I found was her shawl. I will hope that she escaped to somewhere safe on her own.

We were not the only ones to have that thought, and arrived at the Temple to find it teeming with wounded, and the priests/priestesses running to and fro dispensing aid. Both Slyph and Rohveka, who looked like Slyph still, were pressed into healing. Connor was too after mentioning he could heal a bit. The others were put to work carrying supplies and the like.

I got to stay with Grannie, and watched over her as she was tended to. The priestesses said they did not have anyone of sufficient skill to heal her arm, and thus could not be certain how damaged it would remain. I told them to do what they could. I hope that Grannie is not rendered helpless as a result of her injuries. She has too many enemies to be left unable to protect herself. As she lay there, recuperating, I managed to grab a bit of rest, and prepare myself for what lies ahead. Something opened that rift between the planes, and it wasn’t Grizelda. Eventually, I fear we are going to meet that powerful entity face to face. Given that we are not strong enough on our own to take out even Grizelda, well, I just hope that we have time to grow stronger, or make some pretty powerful friends…

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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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