Too much has happened since I last wrote, so I will summarize as best I can:
- At Vraath keep we defeated Wyrmlord Koth, and unearthed a treasure trove of information.
- We learned what caused the desolation event. Not the evil work of a corrupt and brutal guild, but a tactical decision by a seemingly well-intentioned leader with no other options available. My certainty in the evil machinations of the Guild was shaken.
- We learned of the coming invasion, and the certain death of thousands of innocents. I decided to put the Guild out of my mind for a while, and instead to do what I could to avert the coming tragedy. A nearby bridge was identified as a key pinchpoint for the army, so we decided to destroy it.
- On the way to the bridge we befriended an old giant named Warklegnaw, may his name be sung by the bards forever. He came with us to help with the fight.
- The fight at the bridge went spectactularly badly. Note to self – in the future, don’t jump from tall buildings.
- Eadric’s full treachery was revealed. I have to admit that even after my earlier bluster I was finally starting to trust the bastard. I was weak. And for my lapse poor Warklegnaw paid with his life, and we lost Xavier’s journal.
- In his final words, Eadric confirmed my worst fears about the Guild. More on this later.
- We regrouped after our resounding defeat, and we made a new strategy to bring down the vain and overconfident dragon. It worked perfectly – my serpent’s fang drank deep and delivered the final blow, after which Orrin cut out the vile creature’s heart.
- Jorr volunteered to track the traitor Eadric and gain what intelligence he could behind enemy lines. May the gods watch over him, and may his blade stay sharp.
- We headed back to Drellin’s Ferry and convinced the townsfolk to evacuate to Brindol or face certain death. We had only delayed the invaders by a few days, barely enough for them to get out.
- We also took the opportunity to interrogate the druid that Eadric had visited on our way through town. He was as shocked as we were to learn of Eadric’s treachery, and he had nothing to offer by way of explanation or possible motivation.
- The druid did give us more of those wonderful brownies, and he introduced us to a elven druid named Raughnall, and a human warlock named Wulff. Especially after our experience with Eadric, I am highly suspicious of all magic users. However, for the time being at least it seems that their interests coincide with ours. That is, the elf wishes to rid his homeland of the evil that has come to visit, while the warlock wants to protect his circle back at Witchcross. In these dark times we must use any willing ally, and they both have proved their worth ten times over in combat. Still, I must remain cautious.
- Then things got really weird. Don’t even get me started on the talking fish.
- We took the water route to Witchcross, and after some resistance we made it. Tor had a vision, and the circle had a prophecy. I’m sure it all makes sense to someone, but none of it changes what we have do.
- We cleared and burned the blockade, so now the northern route is clear. Those who can retreat will survive as best they can in the Clanlands of the northern tribes. Those who can’t will stay and fight.
- The druid has now led us into his homeland, our goal is to reconnoiter the ruined city that is serving as the temporary HQ and determine our next step. I hate these swamps – the mist conceals endless danger, sound echoes strangely, and my mouth and nose are constantly filled by vile insect swarms. How anyone can call these lands home is beyond my ken.
So, where does that bring us? I don’t know how, but I can feel the madness ebbing. Perhaps it’s the steady influence of my companions. Perhaps it’s these excellent medicinal brownies that our druid friend has provided us. Perhaps it was my all-to-brief time with the noble Warklegnaw. Whatever the reason, the fog is clearing. I still can’t face combat, I let Stabby handle that. But day to day, it’s getting better. Perhaps now is a good time to reflect, to gather my thoughts.
My memories of my past life are scattered and surreal. The Arcadian Guild was a good company, back when I started working. We made quality weapons and we sold them to the army elite, the people who were guarding our country. I first noticed something strange when our research department brought in some new mages. They were different than the rest, they kept their hoods up and didn’t speak much. That’s okay I thought, mages can be strange. As their sort became more numerous, I started gathering hints of a secret society inside the Guild, one that nobody seemed willing to talk about, whose members would advance far faster than their abilities or contacts could explain.
When the war came, it was heady times for the Guild – we won nearly every major government contract, and personally supplied arms for every important person. But I could see the inner group gaining in strength. Finally I decided to do what I could to figure out what was going on. In the desk of a co-worker, a friend of mine, I found a reference to the Fenris Initiative. When I confronted him about it his eyes got wide and he cowered in fear. He told me that he’d gotten in too deep, he couldn’t get out. He said if “They” knew how careless he had been, that his life was forfiet. He begged me to forget what I saw and pretend that nothing had happened. I calmed him down, assured him that I would be careful. He looked at me doubtfully, then turned and walked away.
Then there is a blank space, where my memory is just gone. I woke up in a Karatanian prison camp, half dead and with a blinding pain surging out from where my eye had been. My body had aged well beyond my years, as if they had taken my life force. The Karatanians used us for slaves, forced us to do all the dangerous or degrading work, and any that couldn’t keep up with their whips were taken away in the night. I never saw what happened to them, but I heard the screams, and the munching.
The only reason I survived at all was the giant that shared my cell, Crooktooth. He was a particular target for the guards’ abuse, since he was stronger and bigger than any of the rest of us. But he took everything they threw at him, and by night he taught me his language, and he taught me how to fight. I remember well how he would tell me “Surprise good! No one expect giant with daggers! You learn!” We made plans to escape, and I practiced opening the locks on our cell and shackles.
Then came the Desolation event, seared into my memory. The blinding light, the confusion and disarray. Our captors grabbed anything of value they could find, killing any prisoners they came across. Then we were overrun by the nightmare beasts, the ones we had previously only heard feeding at night. They were tearing everyone apart, friend or foe, and the guards started running. I got out of my shackles but I couldn’t find Crooktooth. I hid in a cesspool while the monsters finished their rampage, the stench concealing me while they sated their blood lust and moved on. I got some weapons and armor from a nearby body and I moved out in the opposite direction.
It took me years to get back to Dornath, surviving on my wits and occasionally my steel. Once back home I begged when I could, stole when I couldn’t, hiding in plain sight all the while. I tracked down every single name that I knew from my days with the Guild, and they had all disappeared. As if they never existed. Homes demolished, neighbors moved away, government records altered or destroyed. My last possible lead was an old-money family from Brindol that was heavily invested in the Guild, by the name of Rivenroar.
Now comes the supposition. As much as I would like to believe it, I don’t think Eadric was sent after me. I mean less than nothing to the Guild, otherwise I would be dead already. My name and my face have changed, so no one from my previous life should recognize me. No, Eadric was after the key and the journal. The problem here is that once we had it he willingly gave the key to Eofrom. Did he do that to gain our confidence? Did he assume that the Guild soldiers would be able to retrieve it at will? Or is Eofram in on the conspiracy? Based on my insight Eofram has always played straight with us, but I’ve been wrong before… Or maybe the Guild already has the key and what Eofram has is just a copy? With respect to the Guild, all indications are that it’s been completely taken over by the core of evil I observed. Also, I have no idea what they did to my eye, I can only suppose that I was the subject of some twisted experiment before I was shipped out. Perhaps I’ll start to remember more -
A scream rends the night, I must go.