Fall From Grace (Cameron's Sunday afternoon game)

Ever closer
Taras Diary entry 3

That drake guy signed us up for another quest

It was bizarre, I knew we were fighting to help people, but I’m so distracted – these people were corrupted, like fish – they smelled bad and they looked bad. Why was I hungry?

I almost died in that ocean. Some weird octopus thing was imbedding something in me and i felt all weird, weak, but strong at the same time. I know he was turning us into statues, but I missed my blood.

All I could think of when I was almost dying is “when will I rise above this mortal shell?”

Soon.

Soon.

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Daahrehn, Herald of Greunauth the Young - Adventure Log - 2
Page 7

Well it appears that I have a new patron. The elf, presumably in an attempt to save the name of his floundering noble house, has approached me and has offered a deal. I will now work solely to extol the heroism and greatness of Silvanto Drake, in exchange I have guaranteed assistance against a group of insolent dragon slayers and when he gets promoted he will use the advantages of his rank to benefit us all. I must say I am embarrassed that I am serving an elf of minor nobility! A far cry from the dragons I am destined to serve! That said, the elf does have one trait in his favour that is comparable to that of his namesakes and their superiors. Ambition. With such ambition and my assistance who is to say that house Drake will stop their ascent at colonel, general or admiral? Perhaps this is the start of something much greater.

As for our recent mission, we were assigned to defend a coastal town from various sea people related raids. The town was certainly strange or rather it’s inhabitants who almost all displayed fish like features to one degree or another. I’ve heard tales of fishermen disappearing and returning with not quite human children, perhaps this is proof of those tales. And mass inbreeding. Even so, it was not our place to judge the poor sods so we set up and waited for nightfall when the raids most commonly occurred. I also hoped to use the upcoming skirmish to test a new creation of mine, a double barrelled rifle designed for more long range engagements. I believe the official designation for such a weapon is the “Double Hackbut”. Silly name, but with increased range and prodigious power I feel this will more than prove itself worthy on the battlefield.

Nightfall came and in the ensuing raid our forces came out almost unscathed in a resounding victory. However our forces victory over the crab people raid is only one half of the story, along with them came four flying monstrosities which I was later informed to be sea drakes carrying fishman saboteurs and abductors. In engaging these creatures I am happy to report the Hackbut performed admirably severely wounding two of the drakes. The ifrit and the elf went to meet these threats (and thankfully the elf managed to convince the cannon fodder that he was not abandoning the line out of cowardice, such a failure would be disastrous to our efforts).

Drake did not disappoint and has provided me with great material to work with. A almost flawless repelling of a raiding force from a poor defenceless town is already good material but to go 2 on 1 against a sea drake and a fishman and come out on top? Propaganda gold. No one could possibly fail to see Drake as a hero after this, especially when the drake’s head is impaled on a spear bearing the standard of the empire.

Anyway, as it turns out the fishmen were poisoning the town’s wells and abducting children. I personally checked the other wells for magical poisons when I heard and… something odd happened. It was strange, this type of magic was unknown to me and if I had to put it down to one word, captivating. I mean I’m drawn to tales and knowledge as part of my trade but this felt like something more. I realised however I was out of it and regained control. I think there is something very wrong with this magic, the sooner this portal nonsense is laid to rest the better.

With the raid repelled we commandeered a ship, donned aboleth lungs and counter-attacked into the sea. Operating under the sea is an experience I do not wish to experience again. Soon enough we descended into an abandoned city constructed of coral which has a hideous, grotesque and frankly terrifying statue in it’s main square. Something about it’s design was just not right, much like the rest of this damn city. Crossing eerily lifelike coral statues of men we found a cave and began to investigate. As we entered a giant stone slab fell across the exit blocking our way although the elf, in an impressive show of strength, managed to move the slab enough so that we could leave. Satisfied that we now had an exit we pressed on through the darkness into a bone strewn antechamber.

“Such funny little creatures, coming into my lair” a voice boomed from the darkness. I don’t particularly enjoy being called funny from my mere existence and using my size as a method to mock me is a quick way to earn a black powder demonstration so it was settled fairly quickly whatever this was it was going to die. Unfortunately it didn’t go quietly. A 4 tentacled monster protected by a giant shell lashed out at us. The hits themselves weren’t too painful but in the wounds there was a sting or object of some sort that had a horrifying effect. The wounds became encrusted with coral. Rather determined to not become a statue the beast was dispatched and it’s treasure hoard was seized. Inside the hoard room however we found another disturbing statue and a message that can be roughly summed up as “Hope you are prepared, ready or not here we come”. This did not fill me with confidence. Moving on, we then…

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Letter 4
Theri's Adventure Log

Dear Ròwe,

I am afraid I thought too much about you. It seems a rather cruel thing to say but understand me. I had been feeling ill in the past few day – nothing to worry about which is why I did not mention it in my previous letter – but sleep was getting scarce and I could barely eat. Then I realised, autumn was ending in the forest and the last moon would soon be up by now. I realised that it has been another year. I do not know what they mean, out here, so far from home, but I still feel them.
I was in such a terrible state that I could not accompany my companions in our mission last week and had to stay on the ship when we landed on that planet. From what I understood however it was best as this seemed like a rather dangerous mission. Maybe my presence would have helped and made the situation better, I cannot tell but I doubt it. All I can say is that the others have come back and I we are probably going to be sent on a mission soon, again.
I am still extremely tired and need to rest so this letter will be kept short. I just did not want you to worry. If you can read my words, wherever you are, do not worry for me. I will not forget you. I will not forget the night that fanatic took your life and I hope that you are in a better place now. This place, this other world, I have been able to guess for years. I am sure it is the afterworld and that your spirit can see me from there. And mother too. Do you remember when she explained to us what our name means? I miss you all so much. But I will go on. For you, for me and for all the people that still need help. I love you and no matter how much it has hurt me and still does, I will never forget you.

Your brother,
Theri

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Letter 3
Theri's Adventure Log

Dear Ròwe,

Another mission was assigned to our party. Another to which I took part and that I will describe to you in this letter. It all started on Feldspar when the elf thought it was a good idea to volunteer for a mission. He seems to want to earn promotions, which is understandable especially coming from an elf. But I cannot complain as it allows us more freedom and means we do not have to blindly obey orders as much. The mission was simple: a city was disturbed by riots and we were to attempt return the situation to normal. We were assigned troops. A couple hundred men: infantry, cavalry and artillery. We spent much time preparing the equipment for the week-long mission. Many forms had to be filled but luckily the elf took responsibility for this as he had been the one volunteering us. I still do not trust him fully and will keep an eye on him, checking what the paper he fills say. He is still an elf after all.
From what we were told some cultist had manipulated the people of this town into rebelling against the empire. As time goes I seem to understand more and more what can be people’s motivations for doing this. It seems the empire is oppressing many people and making many enemies too. Too many maybe. Anyways, the main problem with this town is that it was pretty much situated in a desert. This mission, as it turned out, might be that easy after all. And indeed, the hundreds of citizens that had turned into zealots were a rather dangerous mob to deal with, even with an army of hundreds.
After having established camp on the planet, our party left the troops behind to scout the city. It was half a day away on horses, and we thought they could manage without officers for an entire day. It was night when we arrived and we were faced with closed gates. Guards asked us what we wanted and we hesitated to state our purposes at first as we could not be sure if those guards would welcome an army sent by the empire or if they were a citizen-established militia that would start shooting at us with the weapons they made sure we noticed. After minor lies from the elf – which did not surprise me really, neither that he was doing most of the speaking or that he lied – to test the people looking down at us from the top of the gate, we established that they were probably the guards, loyal to the empire and told them we had been sent here to try and control the upheaval. The guards were actually rather glad to hear that three hundred men had come as they had lost about a hundred of them in the riots and they had now barricaded around the gate.
They let us in and we discussed the situation. The guard could not tell us anything precise but did tell us about that cultist that had manipulated people and he did not seem like the type of person I would want to be friends with. It was agreed that we had to see by ourselves the situation inside the town to have an idea of how to attack and we decided to scout as discreetly as possible the streets. In case things turned bad however, we had to make sure back up was coming so we sent the human ranger to lead the troop back to the town. It would mean for her travelling all night and then all day again as the infantry could not move as fast as people on horses but this was necessary and she did not seem to mind.
Once inside, we heard chanting. It was coming from where the palace used to stand. We noticed that even though hundreds of people were supposed to have died the streets were empty of corpses. All the zealots were gathered around a mount of bodies on which was standing the leader, a strange amulet around his neck. Clearly if this man believed to be the prophet of a new god it must have been some kind of dark force of this world. The amulet was glowing and rather hypnotising, to the point that most of the people in the crowd seemed to actually look at the amulet and not the cultist himself. Above the corpses was a dot of light similar to what we had seen in the necromancer’s castle. This worried us greatly and we decided that as it appeared to be a portal like the one we had – unfortunately – released and allowed to expand, we could not let it spread on this planet like it had on the previous one.
The plan was simple, the Kobold and I would go up a tower, about 200 feet away from the gathering, to try and shoot the leader to stop him from opening the portal (while being careful not to break the amulet as it could potentially worsen the situation) and the wizard, the Ifrit – I have learned recently that this human-looking person I was talking to you about in my first letter is an Ifrit, the descendant of fire elementals – and the human necromancer would stay closer to the mob to deal with a bomb the Kobold had engineered and that was surrounded with grease. The Kobold used his musket and magic to prevent the noises but the cultist was looking straight at us and even if no sound were heard when the bullet that hit him was fired, he saw the bright flash of the musket in the night. As planned, I sent an arrow shooting towards him. It hit but I realised this was a human I was shooting at and no matter how much I hate them, they still are living, intelligent beings and I had never really killed someone before.
I hesitated before shooting again, highly disturbed by what I had just done. My party members on the other hand did not hesitate and kept with the plan. Shots were fired and as zealots rushed towards the tower at which the cultist was pointing, the bomb was detonated sending dozens of bodies flying in the air. The rest of the crowd had to walk on the grease and through the wall of bodies that was now burning on the ground, shrapnel imbedded in them. I was horrified for a second to think that we were maybe killing innocent people who were just manipulated, maybe even magically, by a crazy man. This is when I realised the best thing to do was to stop him and hope the crowd would calm down. When I looked up I saw that the portal had opened and two horrible creatures had come out. They looked like the insects from around the river but much, much bigger. I shot two more arrows at the cultist above whom the portal was now closing back. The insects were flying towards the tower where he was pointing. He obviously suffered from the arrow that flew in his side but he kept chanting as the battle begun.
Everything just happened so fast. Shots were fired next to me, the rioters shot back and a bullet scratched my arm where my leather armour did not stretch but it was merely a scratch. Fireballs were flew underneath towards the crowd and I readied my bow again. The insects were getting close to the tower. I shot the cultist again, beginning to wonder if really this was the best option or if moving back to avoid the bullets and the incoming monsters was wiser. He was beginning to be seriously injured. He did have probably two bullets and five arrows in his body by now. Shots were fired again but this time it was a cone of fire that opened in front of the tower. The Kobold was aiming at the insects. Before I could understand I was violently hit on the chest and if it had not been for my leather armour I probably would have suffered much more by this blow that tore my clothes.
I was not sure if the Kobold was alright. More fireballs lit the ground below, and gun shots brought down one of the two insects. I hesitated a moment as to what to do. Should I retreat, bring assistance to the musketeer that had tried to protect me from those monsters, deal with the flying giant that had just attempted to kill me or continue to bring down the cult leader? I noticed that the man was trying to heal himself. I slightly protected in the tower and could still stand a number of blows from this insects before the situation became critical. In addition to that, the Kobold seemed to be about to take care of the remaining insects and I thought I had heard him tell me earlier to not stop shooting at the leader until he was down. From the glimpse I caught of my companion’s face he seemed rather alright even after these couple attacks.
I sent one more arrow flying straight to the cult leader and he fell down. I quickly moved back in order to avoid any more hits from the damned creature that was about to reach for me again and this is when a ball of energy came from the ground and brought it down too. We walked back down to the bottom of the tower and went to make sure the leader was dead and the amulet was not still opening the portal. I found a wand in his hand that I gladly took as I like not having to come too close to an opponent in combat – I am not resistant enough to stand many attacks. I think the wizard too the amulet even though he wrote in the report that it was destroyed. I knew I had better keeping an eye on him, he is an ally for now but I cannot and must not trust him. Humans however are worse. I can never understand how they can be alright with the death of hundreds of their own.
In the end we took care of the hundreds of rioters with only five of us and not the entire army we brought. They helped rebuild the city a bit as it had been severely damaged in the past days. An archmagus was sent by the empire to contain the portal that was still there, but at least not growing like on the previous planet. It was probably the right thing to do to stop this ritual. Once the wizard in our party deciphered out to make the cage containing to contain the portal he gave the instructions to the archmagus and we left with our troops. We were, as planned, offered a promotion – well deserved if I may say to have survived what turned out to be a suicide mission – and I have now been officially made Captain. I do not care much for the title or the 50 horsemen that have been attributed to me even if I think this small troop could be useful in the future. I just look forward to be free again and to be able to help people as I please. I definitely hate humans and their system.
I am now on the ship, anchored at Feldspar, and I have been writing for long I am beginning to lose my words. I have not been able to get much sleep lately. I keep thinking about this cult leader I killed. Even if it was the right thing, I still have killed a human being and I somehow feel guilty about it but I have a feeling that unfortunately I will have to get used to that feeling as it probably will happen more and more in the future.
I will write to you again soon, when I get some rest, a new candle and can write in straight lines again. There probably will be a mission in the mean time so it might be a while but I will keep thinking about you.

Your brother,
Theri

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Letter 2
Theri's (late) adventure log

Dear Ròwe,

I have completed another mission. But this one did not go as planned. We were supposed to go in an abandoned necromancer’s castle. The place used to be surrounded by giants but we did not encounter any, luckily for us. We went in through a broken window. We made our way to the upper floors. It was protected by a magic seal on the door and one of our party members got shocked by the electric bolt. There was a room with two statues and a fire on. I knew we had to be careful with those statues – they were golems. Under the fire was hidden the necromancer’s journal. A encrypted record of what he had been doing. However, removing this this journal led to the golems attacking us. We fought them off and even if they resisted my arrows at first I managed to heal some of my party members and bring down one of the two golems with a final arrow.
After dealing with this problem we made our way to the basement. We were supposed to look for some kind of energy source the Wraith had picked up in his four 400 years of imprisonment. He could not tell what it was an the journal was in a code so complicated it would take weeks to find out. The lower level was protected by yet another magic seal. We deactivated it and went inside. There was a cage floating there. We couldn’t tell what was in it. The human ranger sent her dragon to look at it and it just dropped before it could say anything as if it was to terrible to watch.
We tried to send the sorcerer up there using a rope but he fainted immediately. We concluded that looking at what was in this cage was dangerous. First we had to bring the mage back down. But we also wanted to find out what was in that cage, so people started proposing to bring the cage back down and advise then. The problem is that there was a hole, about 60 feet deep, which is where the human ranger’s familiar had fallen and we did not want the wizard to fall as well. The plan then was for the others to move the cage using magic and then cut the rope holding the wizard so he would fall on the cage. So we brought the cage back down with the wizard on it but the is when we noticed our big mistake: there was something in that cage that stayed in its position in the air. It started to get bigger. It was in fact a portal to another plain and if the others wanted to try and close it we all quickly realised it was useless.
As the Kobold kept demanding, we went hurried back to the ship and to bring down that castle with the ship’s canons. It took us about an hour to bring it down and when it was done we finally turned the ship back and contacted our superiors but they gave us the order to turn back and that they would send us wizards as backup. When our mage woke up he went back to try to translate the necromancer’s journal and I helped him but it it obviously wasn’t enough even if – relative to my low competence – I seemed to do well in translating this cypher.
The mages arrived and started moving the rubble to access that portal and try to seal it and after a few hours with most of us helping them – apart from the sorcerer who was still translating the journal – they finally dug to the bottom room. They went in with a couple soldiers and all were killed as we discovered their bodies while making our way through that tunnel. A strange creature arrived and screamed such a horrible scream, something like nothing I had ever heard before. The mage and the necromancer stayed but all the others ran away, including me even though I looked back and tried to tell them not to stay there.
From what I gathered the portal could not be closed and kept getting bigger. The mage tried to send his spirit animal in the portal and lost the link between them. In the end it was decided that the planet had to be evacuated as more and more dangerous creatures were pouring through the portal.
All those people that died in this tunnel, all the people that lost their homes. And I know I could have done something. I should have paid more attention to the fact that when the wizard rocked the cage around the light did not seem to move. I could have saved those people. I should have remembered those hour listening to the tales of the dwarves and the halflings in the forest. I could have saved this planet. And I feel terribly guilty for that.
This is all I have to say about this mission, I feel terribly guilty. I am writing this letter to you on my way to a palace-world built by the empire. These humans are definitely crazy. How can they be trusted when they disrespect nature so much? It seems I am starting to be part of them now, as I was implicated in the loss of a planet. I feel guilty beyond measure. And I am so sorry for all these people. I do not want to become like those humans. But I will have to go now, the necromancer’s journal has not yet been deciphered completely and I want to practise my magic before we arrive – which should be shortly. I am so ashamed of what happened that I am trying to hide from everyone on the ship anyways, so I doubt I will have the leisure to just sit down and write much. I expect that we are going to go on a mission pretty soon after that. I will write you another letter then. No matter how much I stay with those humans, I will never forget you.

Your brother,
Theri

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Daahrehn, Herald of Greunauth the Young - Adventure Log - 1
Page 1

I never did like the idea of keeping a journal, storing all of your secrets, schemes and inner thoughts in one handy, easy to read document always did seem like a stupid idea. However after the events of the previous week I don’t think I can use that excuse any more so might as well write one. Could come in handy for ballad writing.
After our little mission to that damned necromancer’s castle in Bulwark (A series of events I will most certainly not be writing down or testifying to for the rest of my life) we set sail to some form of palace world (as in an entire planet which was one colossal palace, sometimes the arrogance of man still surprises) to rest and presumably wait for reassignment. It was a long journey, mulling over failure and impending doom does not make for a quick trip. An non-compliant wolf who doesn’t understand the concept of “stay” makes it even longer. When we arrived we were given as much freedom as we usually are (read: don’t desert) to go about our business whilst we wait for a new mission. With nothing pressing I took to the library with the ifrit and the elf. I looked through old history books, hoping to gleam some knowledge of what we saw back on Bulwark by reference to the past. The ifrit took to tomes on the natures and existences of different planes for much the same reason. The elf however took this valuable time read on magical artefacts, their powers and hopefully locations. I’m not sure if this was to find a weapon to defeat what we encountered or just because of the allure of magical artefacts. He is a wizard so I suppose it’s hardly surprising. The results? Well on the extra-planer horrors front we got almost nothing. Nothing like this is referenced in some of the most obscure history books and the ifrit (who made great headway with his studies) turned up nought other than everyone who talked about something like this was absolutely insane. On the magical artefact front however the elf had considerably more success and I believe he has written a list of his discoveries. I certainly wouldn’t mind hunting down some magical artefacts, they could be quite useful and it would take my mind off of recent events.
Afterwards with no pressing matters apart from a terminally following wolf much time was spent milling around and waiting. Until the elf told us he had volunteered us for a dangerous mission. At this point this happens so often I can’t even anger myself over such things, I just go numb. Besides his reasoning was fairly sound, volunteer for suicide missions, attain promotions and no longer get volunteered. Also no doubt we’d be assigned so form of stupidly dangerous mission anyway, may as well see to it on our terms. Speaking of which I now understand why orc war hordes, tribal forces and militias of the worlds do not seem to bother with such things as discipline, order, standardised equipment, uniforms and other such trappings of modern warfare.
Equipment requisition forms.

Thankfully I managed to dodge most of that work by excusing myself and continuing my music aided training of my wolf, which was met with more success this time. Perhaps doing it in front of the men I was assigned command over was not the greatest of ideas, but their looks be damned, it works!
Now onto the mission details. A world, previously loyal enough to the empire to warrant almost no occupation forces had risen up in rebellion under a new cult. During mass hysteria, panic and rioting the occupation forces were butchered and blood sacrifices reportedly being made. Our role was to bring Imperial Order and Grace back to the planet or something to that effect. It took about to week to get there during which our group came together and did some reassignment
of our forces. My 50 troops with be redistributed but in return I would be placed in command of the entirety of our artillery pieces (which numbered only 3). Worked for me, it is certainly more my area of expertise. After landing we quickly set up camp around a river, set fortifications, arranged patrols and I saw to placing of artillery where it may best overlook and defend the camp. With that done, we decided that our forces would remain at camp whilst we scouted ahead.
After about half a day of riding we arrived at the gates of the city. Not knowing it’s status of occupation we attempted to conceal our allegiance to the empire whilst trying to gain entry. I’ll skip the specifics and simply say that we failed. We then told the gatekeepers that we were and imperial relief force, sent to reinforce what forces remain and remove the cultists. The gate was being held by the remnants of the local guard so we were shortly left in. In hindsight we could’ve easily known they weren’t rioters or cultists because they didn’t immediately shoot at us. Talking with the leader of the guard we found that strangely there was no build up or troubles leading to this revolt. It appeared to be the result of a single gathering held by a madman claiming to be the prophet of a new god. Only a few guards were sent to oversee the meeting but all hell broke loose with mass hysteria and rioting. Thanking him for the information and informing him that our troops would arrive sometime tomorrow we continued into the city in an effort to scout cultist numbers and arms.
Or at least that’s what we intended to do. Proceeding towards a burnt out palace, past the ruins of markets and homes we began to hear chanting. Continuing on we then caught sight of a huge crowd of maybe 600 surrounding a strange robed figure who stood atop a mound of corpses. Throats slashed and limbs removed a moat had been dug to drain the blood for some form of ritual. Looking more closely the cause of it all was clear, a powerful magical amulet which the robed figure was wearing was controlling the populace. Catching sight of it myself I had to fight the urge to join the mass, to become part of something greater. I shudder just recalling this to memory. The elf began to detect magic to better understand what exactly we were facing and discovered something even worse. About 20ft above the robed figure there was tiny speck of magic, magic exactly the same as what he had discovered in the necromancer’s basement.
After some internal panicking it was decided that despite being outnumbered nearly 100 to 1 we should intervene before another portal opens. Using some form of magical device which allows messaging over great distance we informed our armies at camp of our action and to make haste towards the city. This was an insurance policy of sorts as it would take half a day for them to reach the city. Sighting a tower overlooking the sacrifice we decided we would split into two groups. One group including myself would get into position at the top of the tower and fire upon the cult leader in the hope that with his death the amulet’s power would wane. The second group had the unenviable task of preventing 600 brainwashed cultists from marching up the tower and bashing our skulls in. To aid them in this I scrounged up some scrap metal and affixed it to one side of my keg of powder. This, along with some fireballs from our wizard would hopefully bring enough “crowd control” so that we could bring down the leader in peace. I also used some of my modest magical talent to coat the corridor the cultists would flood through with slippery grease to slow their progress. With that set up all that was left was to engage.
Funny thing about muskets, while they are great in that they punch straight through almost all armour at a range they are a… less reliable. I was now tasked with landing consistent 200ft shots with almost no distance shooting training. Thankfully our drow friend was packing a longbow so there was a little solace in that. Despite the cultist staring down the corridor towards us and thus likely to see the muzzle flash I decided to cast a zone of silence around us to perhaps buy us even half a second of an advantage. Also muskets are really loud and a combat that doesn’t leave me with ringing ears would be much appreciated. Our opening volley was a success, although my shot barely clipped him. The cultist shifted attention for a moment, point in our direction and chanting. The horde began it’s charge. We let off another successful volley which seemed to enrage the cultist. I wasn’t paying too much attention to what was happening below, this level of marksmanship required my full attention but at some point a gigantic ball of fire streamed across the ground and exploded, taking by the sounds of it my bomb with it as well. The sound was deafening and sparing a glance at the street below the devastation was immense. The human wall of the horde came to a crashing halt as bodies were torn apart and purified by fire and scrap steel. The horde still continued onward though, with many failing to maintain their balance on the grease. The drow knocked another arrow and I dug around in my pack for another musket. When returning the chanting reached a crescendo and for a moment the portal open wide and out poured to flying insect monstrosities, intent on stopping us. Not that we had time to admire the beasts as some of the cultists below let loose volleys of musket fire. The distance and the cover helped but I still got clipped. Wasn’t a debilitating injury however so it could wait as let loose another volley, hitting true again. The insects now began to fly towards us and seeing as I was out of long range musket weaponry, I gripped my dragon pistol and resolved myself to pest control whilst the drow finished the job.
Down below there were more flashes of fire and another fireball, smaller this time streamed out at the horde again. I myself fired out a cone of flame at the coming insects but I only manage to singe them. The drow was on point however, turning the leader into a pincushion whilst the leader desperately tried to use foul magic to heal himself. Down to my pistols I began unloading into the insects and they in return tried to claw our faces off. A few scratches were had but we were coming of out the trades better. Before I knew it the drow had finished the leader and shifted his attention to the insects. In the distance I could hear an authoritative voice, if I had to hazard a guess the elf , but I couldn’t make out what was being said. Moments later arrows of magic from below struck the weakened insects removing them from the sky. Everyone made their way to the now dead leader to inspect the corpse, I stayed in the tower tediously reloading my firearms before eventually rejoining them.
After reaching the ground the scene was worse than I thought and the smell of charred flesh filled the air. Being careful in the grease and stepping around the corpses I eventually regrouped and was filled in. Apparently in addition to the amulet the leader was wearing some sort of magical mask. Both items are currently entrusted in our wizard’s care and the official report will state that they were destroyed in the battle. The elf assures me that they are best left in his care and that destroying the artefacts would result in “something bad” happening. I’m not sure how he knows this but I’d tend to agree although I’m still somewhat suspicious of those artefacts and their continued existence. However if the elf fails in his duties to contain them I suppose there is always the black powder backup plan of which he no doubt knows.
The army eventually arrived and was informed the situation was now somewhat under control. However the murder of the cult leader had not closed the portal and messages were sent for immediate assistance in containing the rift. Within an hour or two an archmagus had arrived and was on the scene, a quarantine zone was set up around the portal and the remaining soldiers saw to assisting the archmagus in what ever he wanted and to rebuilding the city. Returning to the journal we had recovered from the necromancer’s castle we found diagrams and instructions for the creation of the containment cage we saw. After some copying we gave these to the archmagus who immediately demanded a workshop. After about a week (which is what we were previsioned for and expecting) of reconstruction aid we filed back into our transports and as I write this are returning to Feldspar I believe.
So how about that eh? Talk about the height of stupidity trying to take on 600 cultists by ourselves. Still makes for a good tale don’t you think? Got the gist of the ballad written out but sticking for a title. Maybe something like 100 to 1? I’m sure I’ll think of something. Also for once I think we did some good, saved a planet, stopped an evil cult, prevented the full scale opening of a portal to an extra-planer zone of horrors. And to top it all off we’ve all earned promotions, no doubt due to our volunteering and exemplary performance. I am now Captain Daahrehn, with a small battery of artillery now at my command for military action. Guess I’m moving up in the world, not far away from a rank where I can get a little more leisure time to go “hunting”.
Reckoning is coming soon dragon slayers and I personally cannot wait.

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Letter 1
Theri's Adventure Log

Dear Ròwe,

Ever since that night I have been writing you letters in the hope it will help you to know, wherever you might be now, that I am fine. I had been saving them preciously in the fear that destroying them would prevent you from reading them if time flows differently where you are now. Unfortunately I lost them all. I hope you had the chance to read them in time and quickly after we were separated as, knowing how hard it was for me to go one without you, I have always feared you would suffer to not hear from me anymore. The reason that I lost them is not that I was being careless. You see, as I wrote it in a letter to you a couple years ago now, I had left our forest to discover the world. I know how humans made us suffer when mother left us and it became even worse when I was alone and living in daylight. However the forest was becoming too small for me. I was taught to know nature and plants, to fight and how to use magic by the gnomes, dwarves and halflings that lived in the forest but I had to use those things and put them to better use than my own comfort. I trust my old teachers to care for the forest but I know they will only rarely get out of it and bring help to those that need it outside.
These are the reasons why I left the forest to travel from town to town. I have tried to avoid humans as I did not trust them much but I have now learned a lot more about the world and how it works than I was ever taught in the forest even by the dwarves who would travel to some of those towns to trade with their inhabitants. I met many people, some of them became friends, other became enemies and I went on many quests and adventures to assist some of those people. I discovered that there are many more species than the ones that lived in and around the forest. The world is so big! The most amazing is that there is an empire out there stretching across different worlds. When I was in Lòwanaba, I met merchants from the empire that would come to trade with people from our world. As I was always in search of new discoveries and of a way to help people, I ended up on a merchant ship that sailed away to other planets. I would often stop and visit towns and find another ship to sail with after a couple weeks until one day, last month, men in red and gold uniforms came to take me away saying I should had gotten a message from the governor but having not come to the designated time and place, I was to be taken – even though I cannot recall getting any message but maybe someone on a merchant ship was supposed to give it to me and forgot or lost it. It seems the governor had heard about my successes and I was interested in my potential. I hardly understand how I can be more useful than any trained soldier but I was offered to be an officer and thought this would allow me to discover the universe even more so I accepted. However, during my capture the soldiers took me away but left my belongings back on the merchant ship I was sailing with.
I was told that by the governor I would join a group of other promising recruits on a very important mission. It seemed some of them already knew each other and I gathered – from what the bard was singing about it – that they had gone on a rather successful mission a couple days before. All of us were called to our superior’s dining room on the ship that was taking us to where our mission would start. As I said earlier there is a bard in our party who is one of those dragon-folk (he also seems to love guns), a elf mage who luckily does not seem to hate me for being a drow (because he is scary with a rapier) and there is also a strange person that seems to have powers similar to mine. He resembles a human but has strange characteristics and I cannot say what race he might be. Finally there are two female humans. One of them is a necromancer and reminds me of our neighbour Banraya from Yakar – do you remember her? – as she is always staying aback, looking strangely at people from the shade of her umbrella. I do not know if I can trust her but I feel like if I got to know her we could get along rather well, even if she is a human – she is nothing like those we would meet in the forest. The second human is a ranger like I am and once again she is nothing like the mortals that would attack us back home. We have a love for nature in common and I feel that with time I might be even be able to trust her even if she is a human.
All assembled around the table, we were told by our superiors that we were to go down in an old underground city – I did not like this as it reminded me of Yakar too much and all the pain that living there caused us. This city had apparently been sealed after some kind of infection spread through the population. But at its bottom remained a prison with some very dangerous prisoners. We were to retrieve one of those prisoners with the greatest care as he had killed many people before being imprisoned. We probably should have asked more questions as we had no idea of what we were getting ourselves into.
As we went down the underground city, we encountered many undead that we had to fight off. I realise none of those creatures were actually alive but I have never killed a person before and shooting arrows at them was a rather disturbing. I was really trying to kill them. I am not proud of it but I had no choice if I wanted the members of our party to survive. After many zombies, skeletons and ghouls, we made our way to a street surrounded by houses. One of them was lit and after hesitating for a moment we knocked as quietly as possible as to not attract attention from the undead.
Through the door we saw a dwarf trying to work out whether we could be trusted or not. After asking him to let us in he asked us to prove we were not undead by pouring holy water on our hands. I wondered for a moment if it would hurt me as a drow but everyone seemed fine with it until we noticed that the necromancer grinned with pain from contact with the holy water. I wondered if this was due to her talents or if there was something more. The dwarf still let us in and it turned out he had the key to the prison. This made things much easier for us and we managed to get to the cell where the Wraith, as he is called, was being held. He is a drow and a necromancer. He was held a circle of runes. A rather strange thing happened when we finally got to his cell. I started remembering how life was when you were still with me, in the forest but also in the Yakar. Maybe this is because the Wraith is a drow or it was the underground city that had that effect but my vision started to get clearer. I had burned my eyes living in the sun when I was alone and could not see through the darkness like we used. I would always need a small torch or light of any kind, but suddenly my eyes saw through the dark again. Then, the necromancer in our party tried to get in the circle but it threw her against the wall. I still do not know if it’s being a necromancer that somehow makes you vulnerable to that kind of stuff or if it is that she is an undead like the Wraith but from what the others seemed to say those runes were against the undead. Also, she does not seem to eat and drink as much as we do.
I tried to talk to the prisoner, using our similarities to my advantage but he is pretentious like most drows. He told us that the empire sieged his planet for centuries and the people he killed he killed out of revenge. I doubt I can trust him but at least he did not attack us for no reason in some kind of hysteria. In the end we got out with the Wraith and the dwarf. An entire army was mobilised to take away the Wraith. The other people from our party then headed off to the surface part of town to celebrate and I followed. People starting buying rounds of drinks but I quickly left. You know how I am not good with people.
After a while of walking in the streets I ended up coming across all of them. I think they had gone out to look for the necromancer who had disappeared. They suspected her of something. She actually bought a small shop for the dwarf. That done, we decided to get back to the ship. I rode with the elf as he was too drunk to do anything and we were already late. After an hour we finally got there but it was now the middle of the night and before going back to my quarters I went back to warn the others who were still behind as they did not have a horse.
I am sorry if this letter was so long but with all the others having been lost I just wanted to make sure you were not lost as to what is happening to me. I have to go now, we have been called by our superiors and I expect I’ll be going on a mission soon. I will write you more letters, I promise.

Your brother,
Theri

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Taras Diary

I learned today that necromancers keep diaries, and that stupid people steal them.

As such I have attempted to create my own language and write my own diary – I shall name my language “Mortèlaiis” named so for its elusive qualities.

This group is weird. They are sneaky. I do not trust them.

We have been tasked with various missions, petty jobs created to showcase our talents. I don’t trust the army – I am here only to discover what I can learn from them and then I plan on leaving.

I met an interesting man today, he had been held captive by the government for 400 years. He claimed to come from Hyperborea. I’m not sure his story is the full story, but I sympathise with him, the atrocities that took place in Hyperborea are immeasurable, to then be arrested for a simple act of revenge…

His advice however for new necromancers “Live by a graveyard” seemed vague. I’m sure he could make a great mentor, if he noticed I existed.

I’m struggling more with the bloodlust. I used to drink before because I thought being a full undead would enable me to be better at my job as a necromancer, but then I realised I’d need to lose my soul. I can’t do that. If I ever meet the strange man again I may ask him for advice on how to be a soulful undead.

We also liberated a dwarf from the tunnels. I felt for this man, he had been imprisoned, fighting for his life, for 6 years. He was basically trapped in his own grave. I get that, I often feel that way about my own form, that I am trapped, never truly of this world – or the next.

I decided to overcome my addiction by aiding the poor man, so whilst the group was getting drunk I went for a walk, thinking of ways I could help the homeless man. I came across a little shop in an alley up for sale and decided to get it for him, I have no need for money and wealth does not interest me.

I returned to the pub, the owner of the shop and collected the man. He looked so lost, I could tell he didn’t trust our group, he could barely see in the evening light. I remembered that from growing up, I used to be blindfolded on brighter nights and work through sheerer fabrics until I built a tolerance to even daylight (although it still can give me a headache) He was so pathetic. It tempted me for a while, but I decided to stay strong. I need to speak to someone soon to get some help. I keep feeling vacant. It’s like I haven’t eaten in a year, no matter what food I eat I feel empty.

I stayed strong though and he was so grateful for the shop. I feel like doing good deeds externally makes up for the inner turmoil and the violent thoughts within my own head.

When we returned later he had opened a really nice crossbow shop and I was able to purchase a nice heavy reloading one. It’s a lot bigger than I would normally choose, but until I become fully efficient with my necromantic spells I must utilise other means to be successful at my missions.

Our second mission has been a massive failure. I don’t know why they didn’t send more experienced people! It was supposed to be a simple recon, so we got to the place we had to go to and then we found the source of the strange magic. Upon trying to retrieve it we discovered that the “item” was not so much an “item” that could be moved as it was a contained portal. The “item” we moved was the cage designed to contain the force. Moving the cage resulted in unleashing the force. I know that the wizard collapsed again as he attempted to research the item, we should have thought of that as a serious issue, but then again, he collapses on a daily basis…

Once we realised what we’d done everyone panicked. Stupid mortals. They were so flustered that they collapsed the castle, forever destroying any necromantic knowledge I could have taken. This also slowed down our process. I’d been able to get a message to our commander requesting a more powerful wizard come and reseal the hole in space, but to get there we had to have an army of men move the rubble. We could have gotten there sooner if we’d simply walked. I felt so bad for our parties actions and for the manual labour the wizards had to do, so I made them coffees to ease their anger. Serving humans is something I never do, but in this instance it seemed necessary. When I’m a real necromancer I’ll have the ancestors of humans serving me, so it seemed poetic.

However as we were nearing the area I saw a lot of guards running away. My colleagues decided to join them. This left me and the wizard, our two least competent fighters to face the man in strange armour. The Wizard did the craziest thing, he cast a spell and started running away, but then he returned a second later having achieved nothing. The Armoured man told me that he had come through the portal, but not from where, or why. He seemed creepier than what I’m used to, even though I have socialised frequently with “bad crowds”.

Further investigation showed that the priests were dead. As were around 40 soldiers. There was something moving in their heads however, and when I tried to decompose the corpse (what, I need to practice!) they would not decompose. This stank of some sort of weird golem/necromancy where they have used a fresher than fresh corpse, that is still technically alive and is becoming host to something. I panicked. The most sensible thing I could think to do was to behead and de-arm the corpses so that they were the least useful to an army as they could be. The strange man had claimed that many more were to come.

I spoke again with the governor and he issued the command to evacuate the world and then cleanse it to quell the infestation.

I don’t trust him, but now we are travelling, refugees once again.

That poor dwarf….

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