Orborros

Fierna's art, eight entry

To rescue some dwarves

The devilish betrayal

A gesture of love

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Faerin's fifteenth letter
Betrayal at Aurion

Dearest Father,

We are returning home. Things have suddenly turned very sour in Aurion and we felt it best to make quick haste exiting the city.

In my last letter, I detailed how we had finally defeated the treacherous Ombras. But many questions still remained. We therefore journeyed to the main caste of the Mage Lord to ask for help in our investigation.

The Mage Lord agreed that the matter was worth investigating and have bestowed upon us two writs. One to draft a cleric of Math Mathomby to aid us in communicating with the corpse of Ombras. The other to question Tigress Rasa and her possible involvement in the entire were-tiger affair. 

We first journeyed to the temple of Math Mathomby to draft our cleric. However they were surprisingly dismissive of us, until we showed them the writ signed by the Mage Lord himself. Even then they only sent a young acolyte with a scroll containing the magical spell. 

In any case, we travelled to the morgue, acolyte in tow, to where Ombras’ body was being kept. The acolyte cast the spell but we soon noticed something strange. The spell had failed to cast but a secondary effect had been cast to mimic its appearance. And the culprit was none other than Ombras himself! He had faked his death during our early confrontation and was now trying to trick us a second time. And so we did battle again with Ombras, this time knocking him out. To avoid the same trick twice, we got the guards to place him in one of the antimagic cells, same as those that Marantha was being kept in. 

And so we got a second chance at questioning Ombras. We tried to be direct but he evaded all our queries. The only thing he did shed light upon was that he was working for another, likely the Archfey Duluhan, and that he was unaware of the plot with Xerax in Arcarost. Finally he revealed that he had several contingency plans that would be set in motion upon his capture. He laughed at us and told us that he expected to be released within the next 48 hours. If we wanted to know more, we could go to his hideout. But he claimed that we would not like what we found there. We set out to stop his plan, not knowing then that we ourselves will in fact contribute to his eventual release. 

We journeyed to his residence. It was near empty. The only items of interest where a Duluhan statue and a bunch of papers. The first set of papers detailed food transport from Raven to Aurion, but Varis noted that they were encoded. They used an old Inaste coding scheme, where the different food items were a stand-in for different golem parts. The Inastes had apparently been aiding Ombras by moving all of the required pieces into the city to build a golem army. The second set of papers were official documents from the Aurion military. They detailed the annexation plans for the Woodsong region, who they claimed had grown far too independent from the Jewels.

We immediately reported back to the castle. Although it was close to midnight, General Coldfire still received us. She dodged all our questions about any invasion of Woodsong. But agreed to the urgency of stopping Ombras’ plan. She gave us signed orders to interview the Inastes.

We went to sleep and early next day travelled to where the Inaste airship was docked at the Magical Academy. We were greeted by Aisolon Inaste, whom we immediately confronted. He denied any involvement with Ombras or any knowledge of golems. But Fierna had prepared a little spell in advance and was able to read his mind while he was talking. Before long we knew it all, the plans he made with Ombras to overthrow the leadership of this city. How the Inastes had seized control of Raven. And the location where the golems were being stashed. We warned Aisolon that we now knew everything and strongly suggested that he leave before facing the wrath of the Mage Lord. As we left the Magical Academy, so did the Inaste airship.

We sent a communication to the guards on the whereabouts of Ombras' golems. Then we ourselves journeyed there. Though it was still midday, the skies were turning dark as clouds gathered around the horizon. A strong wind was picking up as we made ourselves to the warehouse. Once there, we evacuated the surrounding streets and lay in wait for the guard reinforcements. 

General Coldfire soon arrived with an entire contingent of guards and they surrounded the building. We knocked down the doors to find dozens upon dozens of the golems. When we entered they were still inactive, however with a thunder crash from outside they all awoke. We did battle with the golems. Trying to prevent them from going outside and rampaging among the populace. We could stop a few but there was simply too many. As Varis went to check outside, he noticed that the storm had gotten much much worse. The lightning strikes were so common now that they illuminated the surroundings. The rain had turned bitter and acidic, corroding any flesh that it touched. The wind threatened to toss you away as if you were a paper bag. And large balls of ice the size of fists fell from the sky. Varis did not last long exposed to these brutal elements, and had to rely on the kindness of some city guards to drag him into a nearby building.

It wasn’t long before we realised that the golems weren’t the threat to the city. The storm was. Indeed, any of the golems that did make it outside were swiftly brought down by the random lightning strikes. And so we were stuck, in the far reaches of the city as it lay under siege from this magical storm. We could see distant flashes of light coming from the Magical Academy but had no insight if they were aiding or stopping the storm. Nissa and myself tried to journey out into the storm in an effort to make a magical strike against it and break it apart. But we accomplished nothing except some grave injuries on ourselves.

We set about searching the warehouse. There we found an Inaste henchmen, who had been left to guard the golem crates. The henchmen revealed to us that there was a secret entrance to the sewer under the building. Before we had the chance to search for it, Varis had already found its equivalent in the building where he was residing and he made his way to the warehouse where we were positioned. The sewer entrance turned out to be hidden behind several crates but allowed easy and quick access. We decided to use the sewers to get to the Magical Academy as quick as possible. We commandeered a boat as the Aurion sewers consist of large flooded rooms supported by columns. 

Before long, we had made our way into the city quarter of the Magical Academy. However the first entrance we found was a landing platform under the club of Tigress Rasa. It was heavily guarded and given our past history, they did not let us use their entrance. So we rowed further and eventually found an entrance under the Academy. We traveled up and asked to be directed to the wizards in charge of stopping the storm.

We were directed to a room high up in one of the towers. There was a busywork of wizards who were pouring over books, sometimes moving quickly out in the storm to throw a spell or two at the storm before returning disappointed. By the time we got there, we were able to see that the storm had started dying down. The wizards told us that it would soon be ok to go out again but that the storm was not gone, merely temporarily recharging. It would be back in less than two days unless the ritual used to summon it could be stopped. 

When the storm was gone, we set out to find the possible location of the storm. We checked on Ombras, more to see if he hadn’t escaped yet than anything else. We tried doing some research but came up nothing. It was through Varis who confronted Ivar the transmuter and May the clanswomen, that we got to information we needed. We knew that they were involved with Ombras and that they were more than likely part of the group being about this storm. Varis tried to convince them to stop and that they were hurting innocent people. But they turned the argument around and challenged us that if we cared about people so much we should be on their side. The ruling class in Aurion has long suppressed its people, especially the clans. They hoped to bring about a better Aurion, and hoped we would want the same. In this we may have agreed, but not at the cost of innocent lives. As a final challenge, May told Varis the location of the ritual. We could either join them or fight them. It was now up to us.

When Varis reported back we made quick haste. We sent Miri on to inform the guards of what we had learned. The storm had to be stopped. On this we all agreed. We traveled to ritual location and confronted Ivar, May and Ombras’ druids. They were around a lake surrounded by ancient standing stones. One final time, we tried to convince them to stop what they were doing, to get away as quickly as possible. But they would not listen. Though Ivar and May were having doubts, they were committed to their course of action. So we could only watch as a dozens wizards teleported in and blanketed the entire area in fire. The druids maintaining the ritual were consumed instantly. Ivar was flung to one side, head first into one of the stones and fell unconscious on the ground. May survived the initially brunt of the assault, although I think her determination was the only thing keeping her up. We spirited Ivar and May away as quickly as we could, hiding them from sight from the wizards that had burned their friends. We healed Ivar back up so that he could walk again. We tried doing a quick search but could find no other survivors. The wizards had already tasked themselves with the removal of the standing stones, destroying what could be the last piece of shamanic heritage in Aurion. We took Ivar and May back to the mansion and let them rest. 

The next day, we talked about what Ivar and May would do next. Their revolution had failed. Though we were not unsympathetic to their cause, we could not let them hurt innocents. We knew that they were good people and that they themselves had doubts near the end. We convinced them to travel to Woodsong, where they would hopefully be safe from Aurion law, which would have them executed. Although it did seem likely that given Aurion’s current ambitions that a confrontation may not be avoidable. We asked them if they would stand with us against the rulers of Aurion should it be needed, which understandably confused them given that we had stopped their plan to do the same. Had their methods been different, or even had it not been Ombras and the influence of Duluhan, we might have joined them. It’s become clear to me that the world of the humans is focused on accomplishing their goals, by any means necessary. They seem to believe that doing evil deeds for the right reason, vindicates them. While it is doing the right thing, irrespective of the reason, that is the more noble path. There is so much beauty and joy in the world, and we must do everything to preserve and grow it. But for now, we could only point Ivar and May to the right path again. I have no doubt that they will get there.

Ivar and May safely on their way, we went to visit Ombras once more. Now that his threat was no longer valid, we hoped that he would be more forthcoming with his information. Varis here had an excellent plan. Knowing that Ombras was in league with the Inaste, he would pretend to be one of their agents in the hope that Ombras would reveal something more. Unfortunately Ombras provided little more information, even though Varris’ deception was in part successful. He did state that there were more plans still in motion, but refused to give any specific details. When we left the prison once more, we noticed two strange things.

The guards of the prison had all been changed. I didn’t recognise a single one. They were also not as friendly as the old guards. Secondly, we saw noticed three new invisible airships in the sky by their shimmer in the sky. We realised that this may be the front of an invasion force. So we tried to contact General Coldfire. First Thorin sent her a sending, but got a swift rebuke that she was to preoccupied to deal with it. We were instantly put off by this reply and vowed to find out what she was up to. So we travelled to the nearest guard house and claimed we had an urgent message for Coldfire. They took it down and sent a messenger out. Thenw e followed to messenger. Strangely the messenger ran into the layman’s district, which was being heavily guarded. We again managed to get in by claiming to have a message for the General. Luckily these were the guards that I had met before.

What we found in the layman’s district changed everything. The main square, once a busy bulwark of quant stalls filled with smells and people, had been cleared out. In its stead stood a vast military operation with one single goal, clear out the clansmen and clanswomen who resided outside of their designated ghetto. The square had turned into the site of heartless wholesale slaughter of people. Most of the clanspeople had been closed of behind a wall and gate on the far north of the city, their designated area. The guards were then travelling in groups of twenty, going from house to house. They dragged out those clanspeople who resided them, away from their homes, though they were unarmed, though they did not participate. All in the name of justice for the recent uprising, they were killing a mass of innocents, whose only crime was were they lived. Thorin and I must have turned red with anger. This was the final straw. I vowed to having nothing to do anymore with the rulers of this city.

We communicated back to our allies what was transpiring, but were all a bit at a loss what to do about it. Aurion had the superior force and there was little we could do to stop even a single group of guards. But Thorin had an idea. 

Thorin found a quiet ally to the north side of the layman’s district, near the gate blocking the clans. He then started a small fire, not enough to burn down the city but enough to distract a few guards.

The gate, thought to be secured, was then momentarily guarded by one a single guard. I walked up to him, and with the force of Lugh behind me, commanded him to run away. He had no choice but to head my word and took of running. I then reared back my trusted hammer and broke the wooden beam securing the gate. Thorin and I both took our hammers and slammed the gate open, sabotaging it so that it could no longer be closed. I had warned the Mage Lord months before that he needed to strengthen the defences on the northern side of the city, and now I was glad that he hadn’t headed my advice. The remaining clansmen were now freed from their prison and took the hint to rush out and go help their compatriots. This levelled the paying field between the clansmen and the guards, and before long the city’s forces were pushed out of the layman’s district. Though this didn’t stop the killing, it at least placed it upon those who wished to fight rather than the innocent people of Aurion and the clans.

This all-out civil war was also all the signal that the airships in the sky needed to start their attack. Before long, the Mage Lord castle, the Magical Academy, and the Temple of Math Matomby were under siege from the sky.

We met up again with our allies, who had put their own plans in motion in our absence. Nissa had apparently broken into the Academy and had stolen the Cubic Gate that Ombras so desired. Fierna and her had apparently hatched up a plan that this item was too dangerous to leave in either the hands of the Aurion wizards or Ombras’ revolutionaries. Fierna had also managed to get a hold of General Coldfire, who was apparently also not happy with the executions but had been given an order that she couldn’t refuse. She had agreed to delay the executions for a short while, but that was before Thorin and I had knocked down the gate.

The city now in a state of war, we made a short trip to the prison to talk to Ombras one final time. The prison itself was a mess, poorly guarded and in full riot. I took this chance as well to break out Marantha, who had been waiting for her own execution. These humans seem so intent on killing, and I refuse to let them decide who lives and dies. In the same logic, I left Ombras in his cell. We could have ended him then and there, but we had to be better than them. I know this will likely come back to haunt us, but how can I hope to save Ivar, May and Marantha if I don’t set the right example. No matter how evil someone is, they don’t deserve their death unless it cannot be avoided.

We then split up. Nissa and Miri went up to the north side of the city to talk to the barbarians. Luckily they convinced them that they were fighting a lost cause and that they were better off leaving this city for now. The clansmen reluctantly agreed. They first evacuated their elderly and children across the river, away from the city and then their warriors followed. 

The other journeyed to the south of the city to evacuate as many civilians as possible from the attacks of the airships. As we were doing so, we saw one of the airships go down. We sped over to the wreckage because Varris wished to know if it may have been crewed by someone he knew. While the ensuing fireball left few identifiable remains, nothing seemed familiar to him.

The clansmen gone and the airships in retreat, we decided it best to leave the city as soon as possible. I went to the house of Rovaart Temps, the noble whom we had been helping with his election. He was not home, likely fleeing the fighting but hopefully still safe. I left him a letter apologising that we would no longer be able to under his employ as we were leaving. 

We also quickly visited the Magical Academy but were not allowed to enter by the guards present. One of the three towers had grown unstable and was likely to collapse at any moment.

So we all met up again at the South Gate of Aurion and set out. We intend to journey back through the Feywild, so we should make good speed. It should not take longer than a few days until we are in Woodsong and a few days more we should be back at Khan Hall.

We have also learned that you may have met one of our trusted allies from Aurion, professor Jake Omar, possibly accompanied by his assistent Diana Jae. Please bestow upon them the best of Dwarven hospitality while they are visiting our home.

Looking forward to seeing you all again. 

I have brought souvenirs for everyone.

Love to mother.

Your son,

Faerin

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Fierna's art, seventh entry

Umbras defeated

Betrayal in the making

Problems with golems

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Faerin's fourteenth letter
Aurion politics and the clash with Ombras

Dearest Father,

Things are going well in Aurion. I have grown accustom to the busy city and their curious ways. Though I still look forward to the day that I can return to the Beinhall Hills, I have resolved to enjoy my time here and become familiar with the human mannerisms.

In the past three weeks, most of my allies and I have been supporting Rovaart Temps in his bid for Aurion City Council. We are using this opportunity to investigate a strange figure called Ombras, who is definitely involved in several murders across the city, and who may have been involved with Xerax and his quest to take over Arcarost Reach. To this end, Fierna has been incredibly valuable for insight into the different factions in play for the eventual vote and was able to detail which candidate is being supported by which faction. Nissa has been going out almost daily as a town crier to spread the goals of Rovaart Temps to the common and noble folk alike. Thorin has been travelling from bar to bar, talking to the peasants and the workers of the town and convincing them of Rovaart’s merits and his plan for the future of the city. Varis has been training Rovaart in his political speeching and coordinating the message and the vision of the campaign. I have been doing what I can do best, which is throwing extravagant gatherings for as many people as possible so that Rovaart can speak and convince people directly. I am very proud of my friends who have come together for this endeavour.  And we are apparently doing a good job as we have learned that Rovaart is becoming one of the front runners for one of three open seats. So if there is no more future for us in adventuring, perhaps political campaigners would be a viable alternative.

Meanwhile, Miri has been trying to infiltrate the Oakblade clan. In this she was quite successful. She completed the first initiation rites and more important learned of a meeting between Ombras and the Oakblade clan leader planned in a nearby forest. Apparently Ombras has promised the Oakblade clan to help bring back their shaman in some manner or another. A long time ago, the wizards of Aurion killed all of the clansmen shamans and destroyed their groves. No doubt if they regain this strength, this could lead to a civil war within the city.

 

We set out on the day of the meeting and hid ourselves along the road that connects Aurion to the forest. Fierna turned Thorin and myself invisible so we wouldn’t attract any attention. While we did not see Ombras pass by, we did notice a strange vulture pass overhead. We had sent Nissa ahead to spy on the meeting itself. She confirmed later that the vulture was indeed Ombras. The Oakblade clan leader, Ankh Oakblade, turned up with three body guards. They apparently spoke of regrowing the shaman’s groves and of an upcoming rebellion. Ombras mentioned other allies and indicated that he and Nyx, the mage we encountered in Solvelis, were part of the same organisation. The meeting broke apart and we recovered no trace of Ombras after.

When we returned to the mansion, two mercenaries were waiting for us with an invitation. Tigress Rasa, one of the other candidates for City Council wished to speak to us. We agreed and were escorted to The Arcanist, a very prestigious establishment that is at the high point of Aurion society. It is of course owned by Tigress Rasa. We met her in the back room of the bar. Tigress claimed to be impressed by our work with Rovaart Temps. And she wished to pay us a large sum of gold to stop our work as she is uncomfortable with the idea of competition. We immediately told her that we would not comprise our honour by going back on a contract and refused her deal. She let us leave in peace and we headed back to the mansion.

However as we walked back across the busy streets of Aurion, we soon noticed that we were being followed. Three men, a dragonborn and two humans, called out to us to stop. They used the name ‘Feris’, but this seemed like a case of mistaken identity. Varris however promptly disappeared using magic and hid from the three men. We spoke briefly with the dragonborn, and they were apparently looking for a member of the Inaste family. The three individuals continued on and we were unsure what to make of the exchange. Back at the mansion, Varis apologized for fleeing. He told us that he had made some mistakes in the past but that he was trying to better his life.

The next morning, we went back to the magical academy to check if Jake had managed to arrange a meeting with general Coldfire. But we were disappointed to learn he had left on expedition and would not be back soon. Therefore we return to the magelord’s castle to enquire with Mercelina if she knew the general. As we were about to leave, Varis almost bumped into an old human wandering the halls. We were astonished when Mercelina introduced the old human to us as the Mage Lord of Aurion himself. He seemed like such a gentle kind man, but it soon became clear that he was not to be underestimated. The magelord asked us each in turn about our backgrounds and our place of origin. He was apparently quite the connoisseur of Khan’s Finest. He asked us what we thought of his city and if we had any suggestions from improvements. I suggested a more fortified Northern wall as the city is barely defended save for the river over there. Varis did seize this opportunity to share what we had learned of Ombras’ plans. The magelord took in the tale and gave a stern reply. If what we had told him was true, he was planning to declare martial law to squash any rebellion before it can get started. Varris implored that this may be too excessive, but the magelord had little time for his arguments. He stated, and I quote, that he does not liked to be played like a musical instrument. I also tried to argue for the deliverance of Marantha, but the magelord’s mood had already soured and refused. We were told to go to the city guards office and testify all we had learned, which we promptly did.

As we returned to the mansion in the afternoon, we were startled by a load roar in the distance coming from the arcane academy. We rushed over, only to discover that a colossal ape was climbing one of the towers. The ape seemed to be searching for something as it reached in with his giant hands through various large windows and balconies. We used the magical teleporter at the base of the tower to teleport ourselves up to intercept the ape. We tried talking to it, but it would not respond. It was eventually two tidal wave spells by Nissa that finally knocked the ape down to the ground. We took to battle and knocked the ape out. But instead of falling unconscious, it simply disappeared. The ape was apparently a summon by another. Thus we set out to search for the culprit. We eventually found a student called Eko who had been knocked unconscious and placed in a cupboard. He had not seen his attacker, but the last thing he had seen before he blacked out was that the door to the magical item storage had been pried open. We got one of the professors to investigate the locker, and indeed an object had gone missing. A cubic gate, a very rare magical item worth a fortune in gold. Nissa and Varis took a closer look at the student and discovered two white hairs on his body that seemed out of place. We got the professor to scry on the hairs and it revealed a tiger creature lurking in The Arcanist bar.

We rushed out and informed the cite guards of what we had learned. We then went on ahead to make sure that the tiger creature could not escape. We entered The Arcanist to confront the creature and were immediately surrounded by a bunch of sabre-tooth tigers. The creature up close was revealed to be a shapeshifter, a so-called were-tiger, who called himself Golemar. He set the tigers on his and tried to flee. But Fierna immediately deployed her magic to frighten the creatures away. This meant that Miri, Nissa and I could quickly pursue Golemar and stop him from escaping. Nissa turned into a giant bear and set right upon him. Miri used her two blades to great effect. I used the magic granted be Lugh to call down the power of the moon, hoping to revert Golemar to his true form. Just as we had finally subdued the were-tiger, a large explosion happened.

My ears were ringing and my eyes were blinded by the light. I felt like I had just been hit by a large carriage and dropped into the ocean. I had to lean on my sword to remain standing. But then I heard his voice. Ombras had arrived and had cast a massive spell upon us just as we were weak after the battle. He claimed that he was there to retrieve the cubic gate so that he could use it for his own purposes. He did not care for our intervention. He was right next to me, yet I couldn’t see him. And even if I could, I had used most of the power granted to me by Lugh already. But I was determined to set on however weak I felt. I gritted my teeth and prepared to engage in battle. Then I heard Varis’ voice cry out and the familiar hum of his magical cloak. I felt some strength return to me. Then the comforting voice of Thorin who called to Dianecht to aid us in battle. I felt a flood of divine energy rush over me, closing wounds and resolving burns. I could hold my sword up again. I couldn’t see Ombras but I could feel him close to me. I could smell him. I could sense the magical energy radiating from him. And I could hear Nissa’s giant snake form wrap around him. And so I struck out and my sword found purchase. And just as my sword struck out, my sight returned. I could see his mask, perhaps with an expression of surprise as much as a masked figure is able to convey. I smirked and brought my sword down again, fuelling it with the last of Lugh’s divine might that I had left to me. 

And so me and my allies engaged Ombras. It was a fight worthy of sung. Each one of us working as a harmonious team and Ombras bring down the most evil of magics against us. Ombras was relentless, casting beams of light directly into our ranks. Thorin valiantly held us up, broadcasting the radiance of Dianecht. Nissa tried to engulf Ombras as much as she could within her snake form, but even that did not last. Miri kept attacking Ombras but he seemed unable to go down. His vitality was likely magical fortified and he seemed unnaturally resistant to the most advanced magics that I knew. Just as the last of our magics seemed to leave us, just as it seemed that the battle would turn once again, Ombras was struck down by a lucky blow of Miri and my weapons. On his body we found a holy symbol of unknown origin, along with several magical items and a bit of gold.

I took care of Golemar and made sure we could turn him over breathing. We secured the cubic gate just in time for the guards to arrive. They questioned us about what had happened. They claimed Tigress Rasa, who had also accompanied them, had no knowledge of what had occurred in her bar. Miri did not believe her. We handed Ombras’ body over to the guards as well and told them that he was the likely culprit behind the murders these past few weeks. We then went with the guards to return the cubic gate to the academy. The big city paranoia must be rubbing off on me as I find myself less likely to trust anyone in Aurion authority. 

The incident resolved, we returned back to the mansion for a quick rest. It was there that Varis told us the truth about his history. He was actually Feris Inaste, one of the sons of the rich merchant family from Raven. He told us that he did some bad thing and made some poor decisions. But he has since turned on his family. But the Inaste family did not take his change of heart lightly and set him up for attempted murder. He has been on the run from them ever since. He finally revealed himself as his brother is in town running for City Council and hired hands are after him. He was worried that we would turn on him too now that we knew the truth. But we explained to him that there was no way of that happening and that we would face his family together.

And that is where we are now. I am in the basement of the mansion of the Auzetior family as we are all resting up. We are then going to journey to the castle to report our findings and then likely head to bed. I am sure that there are no more surprises waiting for us.

Love to mother.

Your son,

Faerin

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Fierna's art, sixth entry

 

Monkey business

Fear is a powerful tool

Explosive entry

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Faerin's thirteenth letter

Dearest Father,

I regret to inform you that we will be delayed from returning to Khan Hall following our quest to retrieve our friend’s body from Aurion. We have gotten involved in the local politics of Aurion and find ourselves unable to leave again for at least the coming two months.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, we had travelled to Aurion through the Feywild and Shadowfell after the events at the shrine of Goibhniu.  My last letter I had written from the family home of House Auzetior, on the outskirts of Aurion. We spent the night there and awoke to find that Fierna, our friend, had her body restored to her. Our quest complete, we decided to take one quick look around the city and make some acquisitions. I was hoping to buy plenty of souvenirs to take back home with me.

Aurion is very impressive, far large than I could have possibly imagined. And everywhere you look, there are stone buildings reaching to the skies, at least ten times as high as the tallest building in Khan Hall. I had no idea that these human wizard were capable of such architectural feats. There are many canals that intersect through the city, and several sections are blocked of by great walls and stone gates. Most of the population at first glance seemed to be human. It is only after spending a day there that we discovered some of the other races as well. And what variety there are in humans, there are skinny humans and fat humans, smelly humans and well dressed humans. It took me some time, but I have learned to identify the different subraces that exists within Aurion. There are the wizards, the so-called nobles, with fine dress and on occasion a pointy hat, and then there are the clansmen, with barely any dress and often covered in dirt. I much prefer the clansmen to the wizards as they seem to be far more pleasant and far less deceitful. 

As we were interested in magical items, we first went to the Arcanum district. There we found a shop called ‘Modern Magic’, which contained the largest store of magical artefacts that I have ever seen. I went a bit on a spending frenzy and bough we four magical items and a non-magical painting. After which I was 1000 gold shorter. But it was money well spent! I now have a helm that allows me to understand nay language. A stone that allows communication over great distances. A periapt that stops bleeding and a ring that offers protection from weapon attacks. The painting is also exquisite, it features the surrounding landscape with Aurion in the middle. Quite a sight.

As we hadn’t found everything we wanted yet, I was still missing some souvenirs, we journeyed to the Layman’s district in the North of Aurion. Varris in particular was very keen on finding a magical item that would hide him from magical detection, but such an item was seemingly banned in Aurion. We went to Elvira’s Brew, a potion shop, but could not find any the items we searched, save for a stone of luck and an impotence potion that Fierna offered to buy for Varris. I had no idea Varris suffered from such issues, you definitely would not be able to tell from the way he behaves, but Fierna was quite insistent. We then continued on to Bron’s Bazaar. Here Nissa bought a pair of invisible gloves (for which Varris claimed she overpaid by quite a bit). Varris himself sang a beautiful song before purchasing the item that he sought, at a bargain price apparently. Our final shopping stop was at Aurion Oddities. Here I finally found my souvenirs and trinkets that I wished. I even found a nice doll for Lyn. While I’m sure she’ll tell me that she is too old for dolls, this one is special.

Within the Layman’s district, we did happen upon a strange but very familiar sight, a Dwarven style tavern called the Hall of Hills tavern. It is quite jarring to see stout Dwarven architecture surrounded by flimsy wooden human buildings, but it immediately reminded me of home. The inside is just the same as the outside, 100% Dwarf. We even got some of Khan’s Finest Stoutrock Ale inside! This tavern is going to make my stay a much more pleasant one. And we even ran into Aunt Karin there! She was just returning from Raven, a nearby mage city, and was getting ready to return to the Beinhall Hills. We shared a pint and the latest gossip. Apparently a conflict is brewing between the clansmen and the wizards in Aurion. Several incidents have already transpired. At the time I did not know the details, but later we learned that the clansmen’s land was stolen during the founding of Aurion and that there shamans were put to death. Even now the clansmen are treated as second-rate citizens, if even that. Karin also spoke of wizards being assassinated over the pas few days. While we did not think much of it at the time, we would be facing the assassin up close before long.

Our thirsts decently quenched for the first time in days, we travelled to the Highlord District. The Auzetior family has an outhouse in this district where Fierna said we could spend the night. The Highlord District is a combination of parks, ponds and magnificent mansions. The Auzetior house was again huge. Though this is just an outhouse, I believe it could fit an entire Dwarf contingent, maybe even twice over. And this only housed a single person, namely Fierna’s mother, Mercelina. We had a pleasant evening dinner with her and told her all about our journeys and adventures. Before long, we were headed to bed. By this time, my brother and I had grown weary of the opulent bedrooms and we took up our residence in the cool basement.

The next morning, we awoke to cheering coming from outside. Nissa, Fierna and I ran out to witness a ship flying overhead. It was the strangest sight. The ship looked inverted, but had masts and sails like one would expect. It was also suspended in the air and did not seem to give any indication of dropping down any time soon as one would expect it to. We followed the ship and it docked at the Aurion Magical Academy. While they did not let us in, Fierna and Nissa used their magic to make us invisible. I followed Nissa in, just in case she would get into trouble, which I fully expected to be the case. We made our way through the academy, using a strange magic device that could teleport us unto different floors. At the 30th floor we found the sky ship dock, along with its crew, a well-dressed Half-Elf. The skyship was listed as part of the Inaste Trading Company and we learned that it heralded from Raven. Nissa slipped the Half-Elf a note stating that she was interested in acquiring his ship and we got away before we were detected. We then returned to the Auzetior Mansion in the Highlord District and regaled our friends with our tales of a flying ship.

As we were exchanging stories, Fierna hushed us. She had heard something out of place, reminiscent of spell casting. Before we knew what we were dealing with, we were beset by several large snakes. The snakes were huge and vicious. We engaged them immediately, but each time we struck one down, it simply disappeared and a new one would just slither in and attack. After what must have been six or seven snakes, they stopped coming. We spread out trying to find the person responsible. We checked outside but could not find anything. Then we realised that Miri was no longer with us and we heard thumping sounds from the upstairs floor. We rushed up as a group and were greeted with the sight of Miri engaged in combat with Marantha, the same Yuan-Ti assassin who had attacked us in Woodsong all those months ago. I had since wondered what had happened to her and I tried to convince her to stop attacking us. Surely there was no longer any reason for her to fight us, Xerax was long dead and his plans for Arcarost valley were no longer relevant. We still hadn’t gotten to the bottom of what had transpired in the mountain with the Calamity. So I wanted answers and the best way that would happen would be to talk to her. 

I stayed my weapon, trusting in Miri’s ability to take a punch. Miri is far stronger than I will ever be and I have learned to trust her in these things. I reached out to Marantha and she launched a small dart into my neck. It didn’t really phase me, so I pressed on. Seeing that we had her cornered, Marantha teleported away. But she offered me the chance to join her spell. I felt I had no choice and I joined her. We teleported out of the mansion to the garden that surrounded it. And for the first time in months, we got to talk again. She told me that the Yuan-Ti clan was now on the run, pushed out of Arcarost Valley with no where to go. She herself had been forced to raise funds the only wat she knew how, as a blade for hire. In this case she had been hired by a masked figure who called himself Ombras to kill wizards. She had come her today to kill Mercelina.

I immediately felt a pang of guilt. The entire resolution with Xerax and the Calamity still festers in my heart. I feel that I have failed Woodsong and our clan. Learning that the entire Yuan-Ti clan, whom I could only see as the enemy during our conflict, were now on the run as refuges only adds to the burden. Though they were wrong the wake the mountain and attack Woodsong, I feel sorry for the Yuan-Ti who followed Xerax because they had no other choice. As I had learned, their clans fought and killed each other more often than not and Xerax had brought stability and rest. We had taken that all away and now I believe we have failed the Yuan-Ti as much as we failed those in Woodsong. For me, Marantha embodies that failure. I feel like I was the one who forced this life for her. I could have looked for her afterwards. I could have tried to arrange something for the Yuan-Ti. It was then that I decided that I would try to save her as part of my penitence. I know that there is good in Marantha and I know that I can bring her to the side of good. If I can do just that, I could almost convince myself that it might all have been worth it.

Marantha told me that she had poisoned me with a magical disease using the dart she hit me with before and that only she had the antidote. She told me to stay out of her business and then she would give me the antidote when she was done. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Lugh protects me from such malignancies. I gave Marantha one of the sending stones so that we could communicate with each other. Miri rushed out at that point and I blocked her way so that Marantha escaped. I had to prove that we were not the enemy and she was not ours. Our main foe is Ombras, the masked man who had hired her. Even if we captured Marantha, he would simply hire someone new. Miri strongly disagreed and snuck off after.

We went back in the house and questioned Mercelina on who might want to kill her. She could not think of anyone. For her own safety she did move to the Archmage’s Castle where she would be safe from any would-be assassins hopefully. So we headed out into the city proper to gather some information. We let Varris take the lead as he was to most acquainted with the best spots for socializing. As we headed into town, Varris told me that he suspected that I had been entranced by Marantha (not the last person to accuse me of such). He praised that there was no fruit as sweet as young love. I explained that he was being ridiculous and that I only wished to save her. Furthermore I am pretty sure that at the moment she does not like our band nor me, and with good reason. Varris did keep up this conversation topic until we finally arrived at the Dancing Dryad.

Varris immediately set about gambling at a table with six guards. Gambling makes the tongues loose, he claimed. It seemed to have worked, as he discovered that all the murdered wizards so far had been likely candidates for the upcoming election. They had also all been killed by snakes. The lead investigator was someone called General Sasha Coldfire, who was apparently the daughter of some important mage. I did some interrogation myself and learned that the clansmen had had dealings with Ombras. In particular I was referred to Chief Darren Pineblood.

Just as we were about to leave the Dancing Dryad, a bouncer grabbed someone in front of us who had just lost terribly at a game and threw him out on the street. Varris bought back a jute bag that the man had lost and went out into the street to give it back. The man turned out to be a professor at the Magical Academy called Jake Omar. Varris gave him back his bag in return for a favor, a meeting with General Sasha Coldfire. Jake told him that he would do his best but that his connections might not be good enough. Jake proved to be a useful ally in the coming days.

We quickly went to visit Mercelina at the castle and confirmed that indeed she had been approached to be a candidate for the city council. But this was all unofficial and no one knew the whole list before publication, save for the high lord. She also told us that assassinations for this post never occur, they are very temporary and one can simply try again in a few years.

We then travelled to the walled enclave in the north where most of the clansmen lived, in the hope of gaining more information about Ombras. The humans there were dressed mostly in leathers instead of the fancy robes common through the city. They sported tattoos and have long hair. Many of their house are simple huts on poles. We sought for one of the larger buildings and entered an inn called The Warrior’s Rest. The inside of the tavern was absolute chaos. There was fighting, drinking, singing, lovemaking and dancing all in a single room. It was glorious.

Miri and Nissa tried to make their way to a clansman in the center of the room who seemed to be someone of authority. But they were stopped by a very loud and very drunk clansman looking for a fight. It all escalated very quickly. They bumped into him. He yelled. Nissa turned into a beer. Luckily I jumped to diffuse the situation with the universal remedy, some of Khan’s Finest. I joined the drunk clansmen back at his table. I spent about an hour drinking with three clansmen. These were people who knew how to live. One of the clansmen, Krisbend told me all about his four wives and how they couldn’t know about each other. Another one, Kusrar, had journeyed all over the world on a walk-about to find his spirit animal. The last one, Brurr, once fought two bears, maybe even at the same time – the drunken slurs were hard to understand. 

In the meantime, my friends got the chance to speak to the figure in the middle of the tavern, who turned out to be Chief Darren Pineblood. He told us of the injustice that the wizards had brought upon the clansmen. How their lands had been taken and their shamans killed. And to strike a blow at the wizards, he admitted to working with Ombras right up until he betrayed them. When the council had recently raised the import taxes into the city, the clansmen had risen up and organised a food blockade. But the wizards had simply built a portal to get the food. The clans organised a raid on the portal and it was here that Ombras helped get them in. But Ombras had set them up and it turned out to be a trap. Ten clansmen were killed and they were seen as the barbaric aggressors. The conditions for the clans were now worse than before. The chief did still have the key that Ombras had provided for them and claimed it could be used to magically track the masked man, but he wanted something in return. Nissa offered them a place in Arcarost valley. While they did not all seem inclined to leave their home, they did agree to send an ambassador to Woodsong to survey the location. And in return we received the key.

We then traveled to the Magical Academy in search of someone who could scry for us. We asked after Professor Jake Omar and were escorted inside. Jake was inside his office with his assistant Diana Jae. Interestingly they were just doing research into Dwarven history. It turns out that they had recent discovered a strange Dwarven artefact in a residium mine. We immediately recognised it as another part of Peacebringer, the legendary weapon used against War. They were eager to learn more and we told them about the other pieces we had found. We worked out a deal with them. We left them the piece we had secured from the Celestial Tome for them to study. In exchange, they would give us both pieces when their study is done in a few weeks. They will send us a sending spell to let us know when they are done.

Jake then performed a scrying spell on the key. He ahd no issue finding Ombras Onel, who turned out to be in a forest somewhere near a shrine of Duluhan, an ancient archfey. He was taking part in a ritual along with a circle of other humans. Jake recognised one of these humans as Ivar, a student at the Academy. This student as we soon learned is part of the transmuter student guild and has an abode close to the campus.

So we set ourselves up near the student mansion where Ivar Kenneman lived. We were not the only ones waiting for Ivar, there was also May Willowlash, a clan girl who is apparently the girlfriend of Ivar. As we waited for Ivar, we got impatient. Miri tried sneaking in invisibly but failed when the spell faded as she crossed the threshold. The same happened to Nissa in cat form. I lost five gold to Varris here because I had faith in my friends. at least they hadn’t set off any alarms or alerted any guards. Varris himself tried more successfully by simply disguising himself and entering the mansion, claiming to be searching for Ivar for his expertise. Before long Ivar did arrive and he was accompanied by a goat, a cat and a snake, which was twisted around his staff. Varris spoke to him about acquiring his services to change him into a true elf and he seemed to convince him of his interest. He did not immediately ask him about Ombras, but Varris assures me that it is part of a ‘long-con’.

We then regrouped at the Auretior mansion again. When we entered, a wizard called Rovaart Temps was waiting for us. He wished to hire us as his campaign managers. Rovaart is one of the upcoming candidates for city council and has gotten a bit worried with all of the murders. He doesn’t trust anyone from the city itself, so was looking for trustworthy outsiders. Mercelina was the one who recommended us. He offered us a magical item for our services as he was the owner of ‘Magic On Demand’, one of the renowned shops in the city. He seemed honest and genuine, and his policies were fairly reasonable for a wizard, so we said we would think about it.

Miri had stayed behind to keep an eye on Ivar. But she was startled by the distant sounds of battle. May, the clan girlfriend, rushed away. Apparently a war had broken out between the clansmen, between those that wanted to leave the city under guidance of Chief Pineblood and those who wanted to use ancient grove magic to bring back the shamans under the lead of Oakblade.

We joined Miri just a bit later. And it was then that she admitted the truth to me after prompting by Nissa. When she had left two days before, she had hunted down Marantha and captured her. She had then turned her over to the guards. I thanked her for telling me it to me then and sped away to find her. I knew that this city was absolutely ruled by these wizards and they had little tolerance. So I was worried what would have happened if they knew they had captured an assassin who had been killing their fellow noblemen. I entered the first guard house that I saw, which did not turn out to be the right one. So I rushed to an even larger one where they are supposed to keep the prisoners. Unfortunately it was night, so they would not let me in until morning. So I waited.

The next morning the magister arrived and he agreed to see me. I told the magister all the things we had found out about Ombras, who he was creating chaos in the city by killing wizards and by setting up the clansman. He used some sort of magical device to confirm that I was telling the truth. I asked him what was to become of Marantha, and he said that she was never getting out of there. He also had me tested for charm effects after I detailed how Marantha had tried to kill me twice already but I was still trying to save her. Eventually he agreed to let me see her.

I was given five minutes with Marantha. She was angry, mostly at Miri, which was understandable. But she had also resigned herself to her fate. I told her that I would try to help her in anyway I could. Unfortunately the prison is far to secure to attempt a jailbreak at this time, so I decided to use a more diplomatic approach. And I happen to know someone who was running for city council and would soon owe me a favour.

So I headed back to the mansion and explained everything that had happened and my plans going forward. Miri gave me back the sending stone I had given Marantha before leaving. Varris  came up with an elaborate plan involving three different persona’s that he would have to play. Sometimes I think he just likes complicated solutions. We headed out to Rovaart’s place to tell him that we agree to work for his campaign. The candidate names had also been announced. Some we knew, some were new. I could have sworn that I saw Varris lose a bit of color in his face when he saw the name lists, but I don’t know what that might be about. Varris spent the remaining day train Rovaart in public speaking and election politics. Me, my brother and Nissa set about to make some plans for the campaign.

Election day is two months away. I hope, for my soul’s sake, that I am in time to save Marantha. If that is even possible.

I am sorry that my trip is going to take so much longer. I wish you all the best and hope to return as a true hero for once.

Love to mother.

Faerin

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Musings of a bard II
a bard's review

 

He removed the election pamphlet from his pocket and went over the names one last time. This has got to be some kind of nightmare. He thought to himself as his eyes remained fixed on one of the last names he ever wished to see again. His fingers moved to the amulet on his chest, tracing the edges. Just as I acquired the means to stay out of her way, I seem contend to throw myself in front of it. He sighed and crumbled the pamphlet before throwing it at the door. Part of him wanted to leave town and that would most certainly be the smart thing to do. But another slightly louder part didn’t want to leave his new friends. Which surprised him, when did I start seeing them as friends? At first it was quite simple, he was in need of protection and there they were. A group of adventurers that seemed out of their depth, perfect for him in order to get into their good graces. But after travelling with them, he had grown kind of attached.

First off, there was Fierna. She had an air of mystery to her as well as being the kind of person who seemed like she would never take no as an answer. A quality that she carries well with sense of grace and nobility. Another valued companion was Nissa who seemed possessed a flair for life that nearly matched his own. Not at all what he had suspected a druid to be like. His image of them had always been more down to earth and serious, like a wizard with more muddy feet. Not excitable and chatty. A stark opposite to Miri who is a very strict and no nonsense kind of person. Not to mention, very capable. He sighed as their last discussion came to mind. It wasn’t hard to see the growing animosity between them. Something that he attributed to her being one of those kind of people who dwell on that one fine white strip of coast that edges the great sea of grey that represented the majority of this world we live in. I should apologize next time I see her. If for nothing more than to alleviate the tension. Speaking about bright spots on the horizon, that brought his attention to the Khan brothers. They were some of the most annoyingly noble and naïve persons he had ever met. But they were also impossible to dislike. A part of that simple came from the fact that they possessed a better character than he could ever have.

I suppose that’s why he wanted to help Faerin with Marantha. Another sigh. If only Faerin realized the true meaning behind his feelings for her. It would make him so much more happier. Still there was still the matter of how he could get Marantha out of prison. Preferably some time before Faerin decides to do something noble in order to save her. He was still continuing his plan to meet with the general despite the fact that Faerin’s confession threw a great dwarven hammer through it. The only angles I have left to play at the moment are the business of Fierna and Nyx as well as Ceeleman. No wait, Faerin’s testimony is an angle in itself and could be used to my advantage. He knew the plan was tricky to pull off and even dangerous depending on the personality of the general, but it could work. Either way, he knew it was meaningless to continue planning without first knowing more about the general’s personality. He would go do research on that the first thing in the morning.

He would also have to check in on Ceeleman somewhere in the course of next week. All in all, he was pleased with how that first contact went. He could have attempted to push a bit more, but he figured that it maybe better not to risk to much. After all, this was one of the few remaining leads they had on Umbras. The best scenario would be that he failed to find a way to change me. A dark thought started beckoning in the corner of his mind. Could she be involved? It certainly would match her preferred tactic. Destabilizing a situation before appearing as the benefactor with the solution. The more he thought about it, the more it began to make sense. The only thing that was holding him back from making up his mind was Umbras himself. While it would perfectly be possible for her to use him as a middle man, he simple seemed like to much of a wild card. After all, she always preferred to make use of stable elements that she could keep under control. He decided to leave that train of thought for now. The only evidence that he had for this theory was circumstantial at best and it would simple blind him from other ideas. But a sinister voice seemed to whisper in his ear. If she is involved, than they will learn what kind of person you really are. A despicable cretin and murderer. He forced that voice to silence. That will be a hurdle to cross when we get there.

At the very least, he should pull out of the election business. It would gather to much attention. But on the other hand, he had about 5000 reasons not to. An item like that could very well save his life one day. And he also couldn’t live in fear of her his entire life. At a certain point, he would have to take a stand. And let’s not forget, there are three positions. Even if my client would win, it would hardly matter for her plans. Feeling a bit more secure, he turned his mind to finding ways to help secure victory. While he was hardly an expert on politics, in the end it was little more than a popularity contest. If he focused himself on teaching ways to play the audience and keeping an eye on their reaction to the client then it should work out. Perhaps even going so far as to teach a few negotiation tactics as well. What’s most important is to remain in the background and not pull to much attention to myself.

He reached for his traveling pack and pulled out his disguise kit in order to remove his current disguise before going to bed. Damn, he thought as he examined the reduced content of his kit. Maintaining three disguises at once is difficult and also draining, both mentally and financially. He would have to assemble several new once in order to last the two months. Let’s see, one for day to day, one for Riordan and one for Donaghy. And let’s not forget a backup or two just in case. That would make a grand total of five disguises. Where in the nine hells am I supposed to put them? He pulled out the coinage that he had left and drew up a budget. Even after assembling five kits he should still have enough in order to get one of those handy bags of holding. Even if that meant commission one. He laid down onto the bed and closed his eyes. Maybe I should get me a new set of armor as well, just in case.

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Musings of a Bard

 

He took a deep breath, as he waited in the transmuters guild for his mark to show. I shouldn’t have rushed, he thought to himself, I should have taken time to prepare properly. Unfortunately he also knew that time was limited, the actions and mistakes that were made were causing the window for this opportunity to close. Still, he had a little bit of time left, per change enough perhaps in order to gather his focus. The target is a young noble, a transmuter and prodigy of the university. He has sympathy for the barbarians in this city who are the bottom of society here. His girlfriend is one of them. His master is a wizard who I am hunting. He belongs to a cult that worships Dulahan, an archfey.

What does he know of me? I asked around the university. Faerin attempted to introduce his girlfriend to me. Nissa and Miri attempted to break into the guild. His master is a possible associate of Nix. Does his master now me?

What do I want from him? I need to find his master. Thus I need him to bring me to his cult. But that is too far for now. I first need to make contact.

He imagined the person he wished to become. Riordan a half-elf traveler who has ventured from far in hopes of achieving his dream. He regarded his clothing. Nothing to fancy, but suitable clothes for traveling. This works, he thought to himself as he imagined those moments in his life in which he was desperate and nervous. He adjusted his posture accordingly. Bend over slightly, keep my eyes to the ground. Move my right leg up and down slightly. I am desperate, he may be my last chance.

Next he imagined a wheel, constantly in motion in slow monotonous repetition. I am Riordan, a half-elven orphan who was born in a small fisherman’s town. I was to be freed from my human blood, the blood that have brought me nothing but pain. The blood of the one who killed my mother and baby sister. The blood for which I have been ridiculed all my life. I have sought out many for aid, but human mages did not care and the elven ones shunned me for my cursed blood. I arrived here with a few friends today and asked around. I heard about him and decided to approach him for help.

The wheel continues, and with each turn he repeated himself. Becoming less himself and more Riordan. As the threats that connected him to his old self were cut one by one.

A thought did creep up in his mind however. What if he could actually do it? Would I dare take that chance? It was not as if he had not wondered about it before. It would probably make it that she wouldn’t be able to hunt him down as easily, for he would no longer be himself. But would it be worth the price though, freedom in exchange for his own self being. It would mean giving up the eyes that were blessed enough to behold her beauty. The ears that were graced by her sweet voice. The lips that touched hers with such passion. Would it be a fair price for freedom, to no longer have to gaze over his shoulder in fear for sins catching up to him?

He pushed down those thoughts. Riordan had never met her, thus she did not matter to Riordan. But still, as ever it remained the one string to his past that he dare not cut. The wheel turns. I am Riordan, a half-elven orphan …

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Letters "home"

To my darling baby sister,

 

I hope this letter receives you well. A lot has happened since the last time we saw each other and I will not bore you with the details, I am pretty sure you will get a full account from Faerin once we have arrived back in Woodsong.
No, the purpose of my letter is quite different. I wish just to inform you that, with a high personal cost to myself, I have managed to secure your safety and well-being. Father's interest in you has passed and you are safe to travel home here to Aurion. Again I will not bore you with the details in this letter, though I might share them if or when we meet again.

 

Much love,

Fierna Auzetior

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