The caravan ride to Blackstone was mostly uneventful. Du’Kratha was able to procure us lodging in the Guildhall with Keno and Adrafae, so I spent some time getting the spiders adjusted to their new surroundings. Lucky had eaten just a day ago, which was fortunate as we were staying in a public building. After building some webs on the walls of the Guild hall, he settled in comfortably. And the little one was asleep, no threat to our hosts. As I walked through the town, it occurred to me how long it’s been since I last traveled outside the range of familiar faces, with no one but myself and my Champion. Du’Kratha was not only familiar with the land, but was well known here, and quickly became my guide and voice in these lands. It was a very strange experience. It was with joy that I finally spotted some people I know- Duncan, Kivuli, and Althkaelis. I also met up with Fenrir and Glenn, whom I had mostly known through letters. Despite this brief reunion, I still felt very ill at ease among all these strangers.
We had been warned early on that Undead were kidnapping Elven women. It was believed that Mary Death was taking them and transforming them into Banshees. From this point forward, I could not move my arm without hitting Du’Kratha. I don’t really blame him….I think my kidnapped-by-undead-count has gone up to 3 or 4 in the past year.
Soon enough, all the adventurers were gathered together to assault a Dark Palace within the Great Dark Swamp. We were to be split into three groups, 2 assaulting the main walls of the palace, and one to go within and retrieve part of Morbidus Bane’s spirit bottle. This sounded much like the trip I had taken into Mandrake’s Keep, with a great deal of success, so I felt confident I could be of use in this aspect of the assault. However, the locals felt differently, and were inclined to place me and anyone else they did not know well into the main frontal attack. Du’Kratha had been chosen for the inside mission due to his fighting prowess. Upon taking a glance at the group assembled for the front attack thus far, I considered it a death sentence. Make no mistake…. I do not doubt the capability of the adventurers who were chosen. I simply did not know any of them. I felt surely I would fall in battle, and not be noticed in the shadows of the swamp. After all, a stranger among strangers is just another body. Fortunately Du’Kratha insisted that he and I not be separated, and spoke up for my capability and trustworthiness when the jochu nobility questioned it. And there were so many nobles! It was like being in Tyrangel. I am sure I accidentally slighted a few of them by not bowing, but I had a difficult time keeping track of who was who, let alone who among them held Title.
Within the palace we found exactly what we had expected. Banshees. A lot of them. They had been made from Elven commoners, and seemed incapable of movement, and easily taken down. Things got more complicated when their Death Knight shields stood in front of them to block our attacks, but the group we had was more than capable of handling the challenge. Mary Death came out to challenge us, and that fight was a bit more difficult. It seemed that every time she was close to being beaten, she would rift away, and rift back in a different location. For those that do not know, Mary Death is some sort of super-powerful combination of a Liche and a Banshee. We fought our way forward, and found a room with two circles of power within it, one of each school. Adrafae and some others had entered one of the circles, which contained a suit of platemail armor, and upon seeing how bulky and dangerous it would be to carry the suit out of the room, decided to spiritwalk out. Keno, Du’Kratha, and the rest of us were left to fight our way out of the palace. A challenge yes, but hardly impossible. On the way out, one of our number charged recklessly forward and was captured. Mary Death had him captive inside a circle of power, and we were forced to leave him behind.
Aside from that, we were able to return with no casualties. From what I heard, the other 2 assaults worked out rather well, and to my knowledge no one resurrected. Having much of our ability spent, and feeling weary from the long trip north, Du’Kratha and I decided it was a good time to retire for the evening.
Mary Death had other plans.
Just as things were beginning to settle, she rifted into the Guildhall. We jumped into the Earth Circle with a few others, and Keno and Adrafae stayed in the Celestial circle. Khel, who I remembered from her brief visit to Greyhelm, left the building. She had been the favorite Elven-target for the Undead all evening. Mary Death strutted around a bit, made some idle threats about how she could have killed all of us if only we hadn’t surprised her, and demanded to have her captive back. This confused us, as nobody had seen him since we left him behind. Sometime after she grew bored and left, and our missing adventurer returned. I don’t know all the details, but he was given enslavement antidotes and identified, and I presume found clean. Eventually the drama died down, and Fenrir was able to invest us in the circle we would be sleeping in for the gather.
With all the traffic in the Guildhall, it took me a long time to fall asleep. I was so deeply asleep, I don’t even remember sleeping. No dreams, no nightmares. It was nice. When I awoke, Lucky was drowsily staring at me… wearing a hat. It looked like a smaller version of my non la. It was very cute! But however did Lucky get a hat? Did the little one bring it to him? But no, she was still asleep. When I looked more closely, I realized that the cone shape was not a hat, but was a mushroom. This alarmed me slightly, for I remembered the stories of Fey mushrooms in Blackstone, and I had no idea what would happen if Lucky ate one. I removed it, and then sat there wondering how on Tyrra a mushroom had put itself on my spider’s head? Du’Kratha noticed my sleepy-puzzled look and told me the story. Apparently, the sneaky, mischievous, and infamous Sir Duncan had crept into our cabin in the wee hours of the morning and gently placed the mushroom on Lucky’s head. Du’Kratha was the only one in the cabin who woke up when Duncan entered. I was impressed to say the least. Not wanting to chance fey luck, I gladly gave the mushroom to Keno. I don’t know if it did anything to him, but he came back looking normal. Caliphar had arrived sometime in the dead of night, and was scouring the countryside for mushrooms. I lost track of how many he ate, and most of us could barely keep track of what various effects they had on him. However, the combination of these boons and flaws provided all of us with much entertainment.
We also met the fey named Rainbow, who was very friendly and did not seem as dangerous and tricksy as most of the fey I have met, though I have been told she has the ability to bestow fey curses. She had us each choose raffle tickets for the masquerade scheduled for later this evening.
There were some minor skirmishes and such throughout the early hours, but nothing noteworthy. Consistently during the gather I was brushed off or ignored by some of the locals, and had a few Nobles questioning my reliability in front of me, or just outright ignoring me. I felt that some were going out of their way to treat me worse than a commoner would be treated. And as far as I was aware, I had acted with all the protocol that a visiting adventurer should, and certainly was not aware of any insults I had made to deserve such treatment. I know quite a few of them were aware of how insulting their behavior was, but what could I do? I was alone in a strange land with no House present to back me up, and my rank as a Matron’s Daughter means nothing here. For the first time in a long time I felt like an unwanted foreigner. I spent most of the gather experiencing Surface Shock all over again. However, the rudeness was only among a small group of the people of Blackstone, and the friendliness of others more than made up for it. Khel and I got along well instantly, and I also met a Gypsy named Sarai(spelling?) who quickly became an ally.
In the afternoon a runner came in warning of an attack at the wall between the town and the Great Dark Swamp. This wall was built by one of the M. Banes to keep the Adventurer’s out, so it had no door or gate. At first appearances, we were being attacked by Wild Elves. Since many of my comrades are Wild Elves, or related to Wild Elves, I didn’t really feel comfortable killing their kin. These Elves were “Swamp Elves”, and live in the Great Dark Swamp. I do not know anything about the Great Dark Swamp, but everyone said the word “dark” as if it was a bad thing, and there was an undead keep somewhere in there. But does that necessarily mean that these Elves were bad? One Elf was kept for questioning, but the questions asked, and the answers given remained a secret for the rest of us. Khel and I squared off against one of the Elves who had been separated from the rest, and talked to him a bit. Apparently, they were attacking because the “town” was encroaching upon their land. They saw Evendarrians as the invaders to be defended against. We suggested that they speak to a Noble about it, and it was implied that attempts had already been made for such peace discussions, but their men never returned. This soldier had more to say about what the Evendarrian Nobles were doing, and why, but it could have been the idle rumors of a soldier, who are usually the least informed out of the chain of command. After a little more banter the Elven soldier attacked, and we were forced to kill him. Soon enough we were at the Wall, waiting for each soldier to jump over and be killed. After this stopped, people began wondering if we could climb the wall and speak to those on the other side. Caliphar immediately ran up the wall just to prove he could, and soon Khel and a few others climbed over as well. In a short time they returned with nothing new to report.
With the fighting over, we all began to prepare for the masquerade, which I could tell everyone was looking forward to. I had made masks for Du’Kratha and I, Keno had a lovely mask he had made with a crescent moon and tiger face, and Adrafae had a cute little feathery mask she had crafted. Quite a few other adventurers had either crafted masks or purchased them from a merchant. It was simply amazing how different everyone looked. It was a very surreal experience. Lilaiethyn was wearing a stunning indigo gown and feathered mask, and I had no idea who she was until someone mentioned her name. Khel came to the masquerade wearing a frilly skirt, and I thought perhaps something was wrong, but she smiled and let me check for a metabolism anyway. Guido, a monkey scaven, was dressed like a chicken. I hear it wa some sort of joke relating to a sentient chicken who had vowed to kill him. Lilaiethyn led a series of dances that were very strange to me, but entertaining to watch. Du’Kratha and I participated in the first practice for one, but as the dance consisted of trading dance partners and tossing them, we decided it was best to sit out for the rest. One dance in particular seemed to be an elaborate and lengthy plan to murder adventurers, as it made them so tired and sore that a few were ready to fall over. Which I suppose is due to Khel’s dancing as much as it was to the dance itself. If there was anything I had learned about trying to backpack Khel, it’s that her dancing and her fighting aren’t very different—and are both usually painful to everyone else!
I don’t know who was who among the Fey in attendance, but one of them was offering wine bottled in faraway lands. Du’Kratha and I were offered a wine labeled “Ryu”, which gave me a bit of a start until I realized its Fey origins. Boo had arrived for the masquerade wearing Dragons and a black mask, and I shared the wine with her while we watched the jochu trying to kill themselves by dancing. Rainbow had crafted a number of ornate boxes, and filled them with small bits of treasure. These were being given away for her Raffle. Out of the six names chosen, I was one of them, and was able to choose a pretty blue box decorated with celestial designs.
The Fey were also giving away prizes for well-crafted masks. Myself, Adrafae, and Keno won these, with Keno getting first place. Each of us each received some very rare components. By now I had drank quite a bit of the Ryu wine, and won two fey prizes, and was feeling quite good! Du’Kratha was also a bit unsteady on his feet, having finished off the rest of the wine, so we decided to go outside for some fresh air. When we returned, everyone at the masquerade was gathered together by Viscount Delwyn to witness the Knighting of Caliphar Belmont. The stomping, clapping, and shouts of approval in the Tavern almost shook the lights down.
The masquerade ended, and many started drifting off to their cabins. As the numbers in the tavern dwindled, we were attacked by Golems. We finished off the first few, and then decided it would be best to wander towards the Guildhall where everyone else was before more showed up. There was some sort of noble meeting and execution taking place in the Guildhall, so Du’Kratha and I were prevented from entering for some hours. This was inconvenient, as my shatter and destroy scrolls were in the hall. Ah well. The golems proved to be sporadic and not too difficult to take down, so it wasn’t much of a problem.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Althkaelis received a strange missive with a map, and asked for our help. We ended up walking in the opposite direction that we should have, and upon figuring that out (and where we should be), Kaelis took off at a sprint, leaving me to carry his Shield and the letter. Since I didn’t feel like running, I didn’t mind. The map led to a dying man, an acquaintance of Kaelis’. We let them have a few moments and then helped him carry the body to the shelter of a cabin.
Later we were at the Guildhall, and some sort of creature of Time came out. I say creature because, although it spoke, its main purpose was to suck a person’s spirit and memories right out of them. I do not know if it was there for a specific person or not…. However, it didn’t just serve it’s purpose… it enjoyed it. The sound of the beast at work was awful. I thought this was very creepy, but everyone else seemed to think it was normal.
The noble meeting/execution was finally over, and we were allowed to enter our sleeping area and to put away our masks. Du’Kratha had just lain down for a bit when his name was shouted outside. Undead were attacking, and his battle prowess was needed. I don’t remember how long we fought, or what, but I was grateful for the sleep that came afterwards.
Du’Kratha had some business to attend to, and left the gather early. I tried to delay going out into the Daystar’s heat, but eventually boredom chased me out of the cabin.
I spent some time at the tavern getting to know a young Dark Elf named Saren, who I had met earlier at the masquerade. I also talked with Sarai(?), Glenn, and Boo to pass the time. We had a few interesting discussions with Algorian involving planar theory. He reminds me of Riddle.
Around this time I was informed that a Xavier of the something-something Arcane-something wanted to speak to me. I don’t know this person, and was rather curious what he would want to speak to me about. I left my discussion with Glen and Sarai, and met up with Xavier and Sir Milo. Earlier in the gather, Adrafae and Lord Zerr had mentioned a trip to somewhere he calls the “maelstrom”, a place of amazing magical power where only those who could cast celestial magic were safe. Even then, this maelstrom would tear apart the magics held within any item, and prevented one from casting spells higher than the 1st and 2nd tiers. Xavier was inviting me on this journey, and since I had been secretly hoping I would be invited for such a trip, I readily accepted. With me were Keno, Adrafae, Zerr, Kaelis, Milo, and a few others whose names I have sadly forgotten. As we journeyed through this storm, we found some very interesting battle scrolls that supplemented our limited casting ability. These scrolls had effects and incantations the like of which I have never seen before. Many of them involved reaving and rending Aurons to harm the creatures native to the storm. Some of them inflicted weakness; others inflicted slowness, which was very amusing to watch. There were also protective scrolls that granted the user minor abilities to shrug off weapon blows, similar to an Ogre’s toughened skin. The maelstrom scrolls, unlike Tyrran battle scrolls, had multiple uses available to them, and did not crumble upon being used just once. It was a very interesting journey. If you are wondering what Aurons are, I suggest you read A Treatise on Advanced Magical Theory, written by Johan Tandrake.
When we returned, the town was preparing for an attack upon a Monolith, which was somehow helping Mclearus. I think. Anyway, we quickly gathered our things and then Rainbow opened up a Gate through the plane of Magic, which we were using to get to wherever this Monolith was. Now, from my understanding Rainbow is Fey, and it sounded to me like the “Plane of Magic” was just a part of Faerie—misty, had to stay on the path, etc. But everyone seemed pretty convinced it was its own plane. We could not cast any magical spells while here, for instead of having the intended result, it would produce all manner of unusual and random effects.
The Monolith was defended by chaos tainted forest creatures and what looked like shambling mounds. Because of the variety of animals and effects that worked well against them, it quickly became a very difficult fight for a spellcaster. The fighting became chaotic and disorganized very quickly. At one point Khel was dropped behind enemy lines, and as nobody else seemed willing to help her, I ran out prepared to throw up a circle if needed. Apparently Dame Kaiya had similar ideas, as we both ran forward at the same time. Dame Kaiya cast a life into Khel seconds before I cast a circle around myself and Khel’s legs, hoping to keep her safe long enough to heal her. Khel was very confused (and so were we, since the Dame and I did not plan this), and chose to be out of the circle and run back with Dame Kaiya. Unfortunately, the Dame was taken down just a few feet away from my circle. Khel made it back to safety, and I think she would have run back for us if not for everyone else grabbing hold of her. I was fine, and I was prepared to give Dame Kaiya a curing potion as soon as there was an opportunity. But Fey luck had changed the situation a bit. The Dame had eaten a mushroom earlier and turned into a Goblin. I consider this very unfortunate luck, but in this situation it proved to be a rather humorous boon. I have known a few Adventurers-turned-Goblin before, and had a good idea what to expect. I knew that one of the abilities of Goblins is that as long as they are carrying 2 silver, they can resurrect from any wood line with no damage to their spirit. I could not step out of the circle to heal Dame Kaiya at the moment, as her body was being guarded by a chaos beastie. Sure enough, in a few more seconds Dame Kaiya’s body dissipated, and the main fighting force watching us gasped and shouted in alarm. I shouted back to them what I knew, and sure enough, Dame Kaiya came out of the woods on the right side of the fight in just a few minutes. From there it was easy for me to wait for the enemy to be distracted, drop my circle, and run back to our side. Later in the fighting I was dropped. When I fell, I remembered seeing the feet of my allies next to me. When I awoke, Sir Duncan was helping me up and telling me to Run, and we were surrounded by chaos-tainted things. I put a magic armor up and ran straight through them, diving under the fighters in the front lines. Sir Duncan was dropped right behind me, but he was healed quickly and returned to our side. Duncan informed me later that the life spell he used on me was the one stored within the sword Du’Kratha had lent him, which was very fitting. Ka works in mysterious ways.
Despite the terrible fight, we all made it out alive and successful. I had been admiring Khel’s face paint, especially how it disguised her skin and features in the shadows, and asked her if she would mind painting my face as well. Khel was very excited about this, and we decided to have a “War Paint Party”, which included both of us, Boo, Adrafae, and Sareth, a young adventurer who had switched spirits and power with Caliphar. (mushrooms). I had been looking for ideas for a new spirit mark, and decided the war paint fit that idea very well. Well fed thanks to Hooch, and covered in War Paint thanks to Khel, I felt excited and ready for the battles we would face tonight.
Sometime while I was outside the Guildhall, I heard a cry for Help. I was not sure if I heard it. I saw Lilaiethyn walking by and asked her if she had heard anything, and we both listened for a bit. Sure enough a second call for help rang out more clearly. I peeked in the Hall to let Sir Telaris and the others know where I was running off to, and Lilaiethyn and I ran down to investigate.
By now it had gotten dark, and it was
very difficult to see. From a distance,
we could see forms, probably 5 or more, guarding a cabin with a woman trapped
inside. There were two of them on the
door, and I suspected they might have been DFMing a ward. Lilaiethyn and I crept closer, every small
noise sounding like a cannon blast in the night. I was hoping she was thinking what I was… we
were outnumbered and needed backup. Sir
Telaris had mentioned he would follow behind us, but when he left the Guild
Hall he was walking in the opposite direction.
He returned with more help, headed straight for us. Lilaiethyn and I decided to break cover and
join him, and together confronted the figures guarding the building. I was glad for the backup, for what I had
assumed were a group of bandits were actually a group of what appeared to be
Death Elementals. Although I used many
of my spells on them, it seemed to barely affect them compared to the fighters
on our side. I had left my cabin
quickly, and was not carrying a weapon to block their attacks, which carried
Death magics on every swing. Not wanting
to use any life spells unnecessarily; I got close to the cabin and put up a
circle of power, checking to see if the woman was all right. She was unharmed. After the first wave of elementals were taken
down, we had a few seconds to heal and regroup before more rifted in. Although I felt like a coward for staying in
my circle, I felt I would be far more useful if I kept myself available to Life
others. Sir Telaris and the other Nobles
with him made quick work of the remaining elementals. I do not fully understand why they were
attacking, but the woman was somehow tied to the plane of Life, which is why
the elementals were after her. Since
they had things well under control I left and went back to my business. Our night was interrupted by an assassin who
was after one of the Nobles, but the assassin was quickly dealt with.
Soon after this, the town began to mobilize for another attack against a Monolith. Viscount Delwyn Mithrilmyst made a speech about doing the right thing, and how we would find no treasure or glory on this mission. Nobody decided to back out of the fight.
We went through the plane of magic once again, on our way to another Monolith. This one was guarded by undead serving Mclearus. AhHah, I thought. I have been fighting undead for years in Greyhelm! I love stomping undead! This would be a fight I am comfortable in. From the onset I knew Glenn and Boo were planning to open up a storm of Bane the Dead, so I brought my spider-lace with me. As soon as the formalists were in place and the Bane’s began, I stretched out the lace and imprisoned myself in front of them. This made for a very effective shield-wall, protecting both our Bane’s and the formalists destroying the Monolith, and was only interrupted a few times—once or twice for an undead who cast a dispel, and another because some of our fighters had fallen right in front of me, and the healers could not reach them with me in the way. This fight was much more successful, and I spent quite a while just helping Glenn and Boo peck away at the undead. After a while I dropped the last imprison and let loose with the few spells I had left after the Death Elemental attack, grabbed my spear, and became a “front line fighter” in line next to Dame Kaiya. The idea was a little humorous to me, but it worked rather well. I found a new appreciation for the magical spear I had found in Westhaven. Eventually we finished what we had come to do, and the retreat was called. A few were left behind, but were quickly recovered. The retreat through the plane of magic was almost at a run, for the undead were following us through the gate. Since I was nearly tapped, I decided to find a nice shady spot on the Tyrran side of the gate near the Guildhall. I invited Boo over, and we watched the fight with a circle ready to cast if things got hectic. The fighting went back and forth in front of us, but our side was definitely winning. At one point Fenrir saw my spear leaning up against the porch, where I was sitting. He walked over and stood inches away from me, and began to worry that I was dead, for he could not see me. He even tried to take the spear a few times (to return it to me) before looking down and startling in alarm. It was very amusing.
What remained of our undead foe was taken care of quickly, and everyone started to head for their cabins. It had been a long day. Although I was tired and I knew I had a long journey ahead of me, I wasn’t quite ready for bed just yet. Boo and I headed for the tavern with some others. Silly hour came and went, and it was with a bit of alarm that I turned around and noticed a Vampire standing behind me. Luckily I had met this vampire on my last trip to Blackstone, so I sort of knew what to expect. This was Ramsus, and most of the town was either trying to “help” him, or just unwilling to put him to rest. After witnessing him charming someone, and casting chaos magic into this person… who did not refuse the casting despite the obviously harmful effect it had, I decided I had enough of this needs-to-be-staked-abomination and retired for the evening. Last thing I needed was a vampire bite to bring home with me.