Earthdawn - Who Really Kaers?

Burned Out and Burning Up
The Furnace of my Fury!

Much debate ensued after I asked anyone who wanted to, to come with me. Time was running out, and my resolve to stay put waned quickly. Finally, they all, including the wagon, agreed to come with me. I took the point with Benoni and the troll. Benoni had started asking me questions as we walked. I remained guarded and we were interrupted several times as the troll insisted we take the easy route for the wagon. My patience thinned. Normally, I like to take things at a slower pace but I knew the longer it took, the less there would be to find.

As we topped a small rise and could see the burning more clearly, Benoni bolted forward and I saw him reach for an arrow. I started running. I couldn’t see whatever he saw but I wasn’t going to let him go at it alone. Especially after that ork scorcher battle that almost killed him. I couldn’t keep pace with him but after not very far, Eramos flew by me and Benoni heard his wing beat. Benoni yelled out that Argathiel was up ahead on a horse. I strained my eyes and could see him galloping off. But I was not fast enough and finally reached the burned buildings. Benoni had also stopped there and Eramos kept going after Argathiel. If Argathiel was responsible for this and for Lerod and Mary, I would hunt him all his days.

We searched around. It looked similar to me but provided few clues. Gerneck found a suitable body and experienced his death. The manner of death seemed odd and inconsistent. We agreed it was probably an illusion but what really killed him? He died of suffocation. We also learned that he had a wife and kids and after a little searching in the rubble of the building behind him, we discovered their burned corpses. Fury swept through. So much innocent death.

Eramos had returned and reported that Argathiel had hidden in a jungle area. To find him would be very difficult. Part of me wanted to go and hack down every tree in that jungle to find Argathiel. But I knew that I had gotten what I could here and my friends had indulged me long enough. We returned to the main road and reached BarterTown without incident. We were paid well and then decided to take up lodgings at the same inn. The troll’s name is Korose.

We decided to stay for 6 days and I spent some time meditating on my abilities. I also went with Benoni to the local forge. He wanted my opinion on the quality of the forge and the identity of the weaponsmith. The forge is a good forge and I was renewed at the pounding of the steel and iron. I didn’t realize how much I missed it and how quickly. Barely a week had passed. As I watched the weaponsmiths work, I listened to Benoni’s conversation with the owner.

Benoni discovered that the weaponsmith was the son of Argathiel! I was shocked at how quickly just the mention of his name now boiled my temper. But the owner hadn’t seen his father in 15 years. Benoni also learned that his mother was alive and mourned leaving him behind.
Argathien, the owner, was surprised to learn that his father had left Ardinyan. Benoni tried to play dumb and conceal the truth but I could not stand by and let this child suffer should his father come here. I interjected that Argathiel was a tyrant and brutal. This astounded Argathien and he refused to believe it. But I told him most of what had happened to us and what I had witnessed firsthand with regards to his father.

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The Fallen Logs - 5th Entry
Bartertown

Note It is quickly become apparent that I’m way to busy to record weekly logs. Thus I will now just title my entries by number rather than weeks. End Note

Much time has passed since my last entry. I will try to record the matters of import that occurred with that time.

After we fled into the tunnel, we tried to discuss what happened. After watching everyone try to talk, I sighed. Obviously I had to show them a work around. I whipped out my blade and began to write in the dirt. They must not read well or at least have never been taught how to read elegant scrypt, for they squinted and slowly figured out what I wrote. They followed suit and we were able to communicate until the spell wore off.

We decided the best course of action would be to head to the store keep that hid for Joran before. We took the passage back to the cells below the store and Gerneck drew the attention of the store keep. Looking surprised, he agreed to get Joran for us. I went through a short karma ritual to pass the time while we waited for Joran.

It was long before Joran swept into the cell room with the same guards as before. He was stunned by our revelations and said that he would need to inform the council. Unfortunately due to the mob situation he would have to make it look like we were in chains. The nerve of that man! Suggesting to chain me, after everything we had done. And how the heck did Cortex swindle his way out of it. Cortex has the charisma of a… well, a rock. Since everyone else went along with it, I begrudgingly agreed.

The council was just as shocked by our revelations as Joran was, including Leldrin. Obviously Leldrin was bluffing, bad guys always do. For some reason they agreed to follow Cortex, again the rockman! What is wrong with this picture, they must not be able to see me despite my best charms. I’ll have to acquire a better position next time.

We led the council back to Leldrin’s house and through secret passage. This council really is blind as clearly Benoni was guiding Cortex, yet they followed Cortex. How does he do it?

There were gasps and more gasps as we help them dispell the illusionary wall, followed by the shrine, followed by the dead masters in the basement of the Adranyan City Hall, followed by the sky. I knew if i didn’t get Marliena out, i’d never see her again…

The City Hall was abandoned. It was clear that Argathiel had his men had fled the city. The kaer council quickly jumped on the opportunity and plans were laid out to take of the city hall. I was amaze that the city just let it happen and allowed the kare population to merge with the city.

We spent the next few weeks training, resting, and preparing. Marliena recovered and with her training I was able to advance as a Sword Master. Not only is she incredibly HOT, but she’s amazingly dexterous and an excellent trainer as well!

Eventually Joran approached us and offered us a job to escort a Caravan to Bartertown. The pay was good, and we were eager to see more of the world and larger cities. I was a tad offended when they hired a troll to come with us for more protection. Did he not listen to our heroics! Not to mention a troll! I had a bad experience with a troll warrior in the past (see prior logs).

Despite the extra hand, we set forth. The first couple days were so boring! I tried to pass the time by telling Cortex of legends of past Heroes. But I grew bored of that. The third day I couldn’t take it anymore, so I climbed in the wagon and took a nap.

I woke to arguing. The nerve of people, interrupting my sleep like that! I didn’t even achieve a proper RIM cycle yet. I poke my head out and was a little startled to see dead orks all around, with Benoni and Gerneck looking worked over. Serves them right, getting into a fight with out me to watch their backs. They are lucky to be alive. I noticed the troll had some new little bones, with some runes carved into them, strung around his neck. I’ll have to ask him about those later.

Apparently they were arguing about going to check out smoke. It was clear that my friends were going but the troll and caravan wanted to press on to Barter town. I wasn’t about to let me friends explore without me, but in light of the complaints suggested just sending a scout. In the end we ALL (caravan too) went to check out the smoke.

As we started in that direction, I went back into the wagon to try to get a little more shut eye. Yet again my rest was interrupted as Gerneck shouted that Benoni ran off. I jumped out of the wagon and flew after Benoni to see what got him riled up. When I caught up with Benoni he pointed off into the distance. There was a rider fleeing from the scene of the smoke. When I got closer to the rider I understood Benoni’s haste. It was Argathiel! I tailed him until he fled into a nearby jungle. I was tiring from the flight, so I turned back to report to the others.

The had reach the burn site and were inspecting it when I caught up. It was a small village, burned to the ground with burned corpses in the street. Gerneck performed one of those death rituals. Apparently the victim left his house and saw some sort of large creature, then was suddenly drowning in the middle of an ocean, and then was suddenly back in front of his house but still unable to breath. Then he died from suffocation. My theory is that it was yet another illusion that caused him to suffocate. Then the town was burned down when the deed was done.

Having figured out what happened, I started to get bored and went searching around the charred rubble of the village. Low and behold I found a silver! There was a legend of a man from long ago, who used to say: “A silver saved, is a silver earned!” I gave it a flip and was just about to pocket it when Benoni noticed. He challenged me to a dice game for it. I took him up on it. I was just about to throw my special toss when I remember how badly Benoni lost at gambling last time. Feeling bad I fumbled my toss. He hooted as he “won” the dice and I sheepishly handed over my newly found coin. Just for fun I offered double or nothing and he “won” again. He felt triumphant as he pocketed my 3 silver. Being such a good friend is hard at times.

The caravan was relieved when we finally got back on the road to bartertown. The rest of our journey went by without a hitch. Bartertown was huge! We found an in and settled in. Benoni ran off on some errands, while Cortex and I agreed to go help Korose (the troll) find a trainer to take him on as an apprentice. He found a windling weapon master. I guess he figure I’d be able to get him a good deal since I’m a windling too. We entered the school and I was just putting on a winning smile when one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen approached (although, Marliena was cuter). She was obviously intimidated my smile and wings as she was really defensive. She agreed to take Korose on as an apprentice but for full price (despite cortex’ attempt to haggle her).

Our group met up that night at the tavern and Benoni told us about the library and weapon smith. So the next day I went to the library and inquired about my nice scimitar. They agreed to research it for a price. I agreed and handed over the sword. I then went to find the weapon smith. I handed my normal scimitar over to him to have him forge it a little stronger. I spent the rest of the week meditating on how to more effectively use my weapons and be more acrobatic in combat.

From what I gather, I’m pretty sure we will be taking an airship towards Parlynth to further research our weapons. We shall see what happens…

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Completion of the Contract
Finding New Friends

Second Entry
While no battle was fought I will record some of the things that happened because they will have a large effect on what happens later .
Everyone else was going to follow Cortex. I don’t believe that I could protect the wagon alone if a similar party raided it, so I decided to go with them. The others started talking to the wagon driver about following us to the area with the smoke. Many arguments were passed back and forth. Most of which I stayed out of except once.
“Fine we will have to come with you. But I am taking notes and you will be docked for the extra time.” Said the wagoner.
At this I stepped forward and holding my axe in a relaxed but ready position said “The terms of the agreement have nothing in them to say when we have to get you to the city.” The wagoner hardly even heard me. He didn’t realize how close he came to possible dismemberment and branding as an honorless one. Oath bound to be killed by the next member of my clan he runs across.
“Very well as long as it doesn’t add more than a half day.” The oblivious wagoner said.
So everyone continued across country toward the smoke. Areas of low hills while looking innocent could hide large groups of men over every little hill. I tried to direct the wagon around some of the smaller hills so we wouldn’t be sky lined as much. The wagoner didn’t seem pleased of the extra distance. That is one of the problems of merchants, they want to be safe but have no idea of what it takes to be safe. Constant vigilance.
As we topped a small rise and could see the area that was smoking, Benoni took off at a dead run toward the smoke closely followed by cortex. The coward of an orc told Eramos, probably so that it could fly up and tell him which direction to run away from the danger, and the wingling quickly took up the pursuit behind cortex.
The orc stayed with me and the wagon, we being the largest things around, and kept watch for anyone attacking from that side of the wagon. The only time this group is quiet seems to be when danger is around. As we came up to the burned settlement the most of the fires were starting to die down. They mentioned that Eramos was following a rider.
I walked around the area looking for tracks that would show who did this. The only thing that didn’t resemble normal activity was the single horse tracks in and out. Eramos returned and said the rider was a guy named Landon. This seemed to infuriate the elf and he stalked over to the Wagoner who had been asking for ale from the farm.
“The rider was Landon.” The demeanor of the wagoner changed to one who was seriously scared. “make sure you put that in your little book as well.” And he stormed off to try and find out what happened.
“Give me ten minutes and I will try to experience the last few seconds of this being’s life.” The yellow orc said. He then sat very still and suddenly started to act like he was trying to swim and then fell over. As he stood and dusted him self off he spoke.
“This man had a wife and two children who were hiding probably in this small building here.” Gerneck pointed to small group of burning rubble. “As the man closed the door and turned there was a giant monster, then a flash and he was drowning in water. Then another flash and he couldn’t breathe and then he died.”
The orc looked very tired as he finished his tale. “had to be an illusion, there isn’t any water of size anywhere around here.” Eramos said. “He thought he was drowning when he was really burning.”
I thought that must take a very powerful illusionist or a horror. Either way I don’t think I am ready to face one of such power soon. While I would fight bravely, I would probably die. I didn’t want to experience death by drowning anytime soon.
“They say that is the worst way to die.” someone said.
“How would they know? Have they died all the different ways?” I asked rhetorically.
There was a moment of silence as everyone thought about different deaths they feared. I thought to experience death many times must be difficult. Maybe there is something in that orc that has some courage. We seemed to enjoy each others company well enough. Maybe he just knows his limitations against the physical world.’
There wasn’t much else there other than a silver piece Eramos found. So we headed back to the road on a trace of a trail. The rest of the trip was uneventful. I spoke some more with Orc and the Elf about this Landon guy.
“If we find and kill this Landon guy there will be a whole room of treasure” Benoni said. “here is 50 silver that was from there.”
I held the 50 silver in my hand and thought about the group I was with… They weren’t a bad group. Tending to fly off at the slightest invitation and quiet at all the wrong times they might make a good addition to my future army. So with the prospect of riches and a core of strong future leadership for my army I decided to stay with the very diversified group.
We decided to stay in the city for a week, to train, practice, improve weapons and enjoy ourselves a little. Benoni, who won the silver Eramos found and some more, lost big at some of the inns gambling. The elf reforged his swords, I don’t know what the orc did. I was too busy training with a weapon trainer and pondering ways to improve my fighting to notice much. I really enjoyed the private training, it was intense and fun. If in the future I have more time and money, she was expensive for a wingling, I would like to learn more from her, Although, I don’t think I will take cortex or Eramos next time.

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Gerneck and the choice.

I must write this quick and make a decision quickly after that. After a few weeks of training Joran asked us to see him. With all the unrest in the town his guards were stretched thin. He wanted us to guard a caravan that was headed towards Bartertown with some records and such headed for the Great Library. We were glad to be on the move again. With the wide open world in front of us there were limitless adventures and maybe some answers to my questions and dilemmas.
On our way out of town we picked up a warrior troll who was hired to help us along the way. Seeing what happened to our last troll I wasn’t too impressed but this one did look a bit more combat ready. He said his name was Korose or some such. I think I’ll just give him the nickname of Rose, but not because he looks so pretty but because of his “thorns”.
The first two days of the journey went by without too many problems. Eramos sat on Cortex’s shoulder most of the time telling his stories. It looked like Cortex was actually paying attention. I’ll have to remember to let him know that most of what Eramos said was not true and fill him in on the real details. On the third day Cortex noticed a rider about fifty yards to the left of the wagon. He was keeping stride with the wagon but not getting any closer to us. We were approaching a set of rocks on the right side of the wagon and it was starting to make me a little nervous. Just when I was about to get everyone together I noticed eight riders coming out from behind the rocks charging right at us. Good thing I had my mount scare spell ready. I started to weave my spell hoping that the others had seen or heard the charging.
The horses and the Ork Scorchers were upon us in the blink of an eye. A few had thrown some spears but I was able to dodge them in time. I noticed that one rider had run around the wagon probably going for Cortex. Three were going towards Benoni and three towards the troll. The troll gave out a great bellow but I was concentrating on casting my spell on the rider attacking me. When I finally did get my spell off and the horse ran away I looked around to see who I should go after next. It had looked like the troll had taken a few out but Benoni was having some problems. I was about to switch out my spells for my Spirit Grip when I saw Benoni try to take down one last Ork before trying to run under the front of the wagon. I don’t know what happened but it looks like Benoni hit his head while trying to get under the wagon. Two of the Orks went after him and launched themselves off of their horses to attack him. One of Benoni’s Ork came after me and the mount I had scared of had come back with his rider and murder in his eyes.
Torn between who to go after I saw the mount riding down on me but the rider had somehow lost his broadsword. I launched a spirit dart at him and then ran for cover. I saw that the troll had taken care of his three so I ran behind him noticing how efficient he was at his handiwork. The troll ran past me and after the orks who had attacked Benoni.
It was all a blur what happened next. Cortex had run back around the wagon, Rose brandished his ax against the orks and it looked like Benoni had rolled away and had his bow out with his arrow notched ready to kill someone by shooting an arrow at the back of their head. The three Orks died quickly. I look after the one still on his horse but he had run away and the rider was gone.
With the battle over a few of us went around looting the corpses and seeing who was left to answer questions. The Troll went around making sure the Orks he fought had really died and it looked like he cut off a finger of each Ork. Not really wanting to know what the Troll was going to do with the fingers I decided not to ask. There were two left who were alive.
We tried talking to them but we didn’t get many answers out of them. It seems like they were contracted to attack us by someone, probably Leldrin and his backstabbing elves, no offense Benoni. Their group was always on the move so we had no idea where they were. we decided to dispatch the two living orks. We decided to continue on not wasting too much time around the battle ground.
We found a once place to camp for the night and didn’t have any problems. On the next day we saw smoke coming from a place a few miles off the road. It looked like the kind of smoke we saw from the burning inn. Figuring it was the band of Ork Scorchers I didn’t put much thought into it. But Cortex did. When I looked at him he seemed like he was angry enough to kill someone or a lot of someones. This was a very different side then what we normally see from him.
Cortex told us a little of his story, I knew he was leaving things out but it is his own story to tell. Cortex felt like he needed to go and learn what he could and asked for us to help him. Rose scowled at him and said that his contract was to see the wagon to its end and not to take it off roaring exploring things that aren’t our business. So here I am torn between helping a colleague or keeping with the wagon.

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What the .........., what happened
an account by Benoni

After weeks of training I was ready for the excursion that we were offered to escort a caravan from the city. I was looking forward to the chance to see the world that I have only ever know from Beneath the surface. Plus maybe I might be able to learn information on where the Traitors had fled, and they need to pay the Full price of their betrayal.

The first day was uneventful, I walked behind the wagon with my War Bow at the ready. But I saw nothing, and by the next day I started to shoot at tree knolls for sport. Even thinking that this would be the easiest job I would ever have in my life. I mean all I needed to do was walk with the one wagon to town, and in the mean time I was able to see the world that I had only heard about. The biggest threat that I could tell was from the Troll that was hired to help us. He is too quiet and always fingering his weapons. He is from the far east and from what I can tell he takes being a warrior too serious. Sure you need to be ready to act, hit the enemy before they even have a chance to get to you, that is the quickest way to victory. But this Troll seems to only think about the fight, and everything else is mere second.

On the third day, I was beginning to wonder if we would ever see another soul before reaching the town. When I noticed that Gerneck was moving towards the Troll and Cortex was slowing down like he had something to tell me, by the way where was that annoying Eramos, no matter. Before I could even find out what Cortex wanted I heard the sound of charging horses coming from the right. I took aim and hit the first attacker that I saw. Even though the arrow was true it seemed to do little against the chain mail.

As I looked around to see if the others were reacting I realized that I had never spent much time, in my training, fighting a man on horseback. Sure from a distance the Bow does not matter where the target sits, but the riders were closing fast and soon my bow would not be effective. So I pulled my swords and prepared to meet the first attacker. But my hesitation had counted against me has I was unsuccessful avoiding his spear. I decided in my haste to attack the horses, thinking that if they fell I would do better with the rider on his own feet. But I was again too flustered to remember my training and instead of going only for one enemy I tried to get all three that were starting to surround me.

Soon I was exhausted and making basic mistakes that allowed them to hit me with their weapons. Knowing that I did not have much left in me I struck out frantically with each sword and then tried to get under the wagon. But in my hurry, my footing was not right after finishing my last attack and I hit the edge of the wagon, knocking me out.

The next thing I remember was a boot brushing my side, I was still on the ground and my attackers, believing that I was gone, were passing me to attack the others. Mustering up the strength I rolled over to my bow and prepared to shoot, but as I was ready to let the arrow fly, my target crumpled to the ground.

The others questioned the attackers why the Troll took his Trophies from the dead. I stayed to the side running over the mistakes I had made. I had let the my guard down over the last few days, and was caught by surprise. I would not let that happen again, especially when others are depending on me and my skill to survive.

We rested that night at a crossroads that seemed to be a frequent stop for the caravans that came this way. Gerneck looked and helped patch my wounds and I was allowed to rest to recover from my mistakes. The next day while continuing along our way we saw a fresh fire coming from the North, like a farm house was burning. Cortex started to mumble about his friends and started to turn to go, when Gerneck asked him what was wrong. No matter what had caused this fire, it had nothing to do with our mission. Cortex told us of his past and of his quest for vengeance, the fire was fresh and the ones who had started it would still be close by if not still there, and he was going to find those responsible or at least find some answers. I quickly made the decision to join him, I still feel bad about that Dagger, but even more so I needed to redeem myself and prove that I was a person capable of protecting others.

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Battle Record of Soko Korose Shinu 7/22/2011

First battle since leaving home
I arrived at Ardine having hunted along the way to preserve my supplies and to keep my skills sharp. One must always be very careful when traveling alone. I chose a city far from my clan. When I arrived at the city they were hiring for caravans. I accepted a contract with a small company, only one wagon. The details were to get the wagon to the destination before I would be paid $150 silver. They made me wait a day till they found several others to back me up. An archer, a user of magic, and an obsidiman smith.
They were nice enough but didn’t seem to have the same level of discipline that is standard in the clan. We started the trip alert and ready. By the third day the others had started to get a little lax in their vigilance. Being the vanguard I was focused on my area and so missed the rider out to the side on top of a hill. The person who was supposed to be watching for signs of ambush didn’t think a rider in the middle of a wilderness watching us from a hill was important enough to notify me.
The 8 horsemen charged out of the rocks on our right straight for the three of us in view, the archer, magic user, and myself. I quickly discarded the idea of throwing knives at the riders because of the chainmaille that they wore. I grabbed my axe and as the first rider quickly reached me I swung it hard at his chest. It broke through his maille and started the blood flowing. He was stunned as he hit the earth and I brought the blade down to finish him off. I then Jumped directly at the next rider surprising him with my aggressiveness. They thought that three little orcs were more than enough for a troll of the Shinu clan. I doubt their intelligence we very great. Knocking the second warrior off his horse I used one of my favorite strikes and finished him before he even hit the ground. Then I unhorsed the third one who had foolishly charged me.
I took a moment to see what was happening with the rest of the group. I saw the Elf, bloody, knock him self out trying to hide under the wagon. The magic user was running toward me away from three orcs and the rock man was coming around the horses with a bloodied weapon. I turned back to the third orc who had risen to his feet and quickly took him out. I then aggressively charged the three the archer was trying to escape from hoping that they were more of a challenge than the first three. I took two quick slashes at the orc closest to the elf killing him. And quickly finished off the next orc who the elf had wounded, before I could deal with the last orc the rock man dispatched him with more skill than I expected out of a mere smith.
Looking around I saw one dead horse and no more immediate threats. I checked the five orc that I vanquished and found two still alive but near death.
“You fought with honor,” I whispered over each and I sent him on to continue his journey in whatever heaven their kind receives. The passengers and driver screamed in horror as they watched me finish off the wounded and then calmly cut a finger from each. They had fought with honor, even though it was very poorly, and I would honor their death. Our clan makes beads from the bones of our defeated enemies. I record information of import on the bones with my rune carving.
Placing the fingers in the special red pouch on my belt we gathered around the two remaining orcs that were still alive. The orc magic user spoke to his kin in their language but didn’t get much from him. Then the Rock man started threatening him with his sword and cut him once. The Orc started to talk then but the only useful information was “they were paid to attack us.”
We stripped the bodies of any goods that we could sell and ended up with a nice pile of chain maille armor, shields and weapons. I started to butcher the horse meat when behind me someone asked, “What are you doing korose?”
“Getting us a very tasty dinner. It isn’t as good as goat, nothing is but horse makes for a fine stake roasted medium rare over the fire.” I replied without even looking back. I soon had some help.
That night after the passengers had their fill of horse, I placed the five fingers in the coals and watched the meat burn off. Cleaning the bones I took my knife and cut one bead about a quarter inch in length from each finger. I returned the rest to the fire. I carved the following runes into the bones; 5, Orc, horse, and easy. I then strung them onto the necklace around my neck.
It was an uneventful night on watch which I shared with the Rock man. We were the least injured and quickest to recover from the short battle. I kept myself awake by running the battle through my head over and over analyzing ways to improve my technique. All in all I had fought well. When my shift was over I slept equally well.
Mid-morning brought a pillar of dark smoke off the main road a ways. It reminded me of similar occurrences near my clan home. The rock man became upset.
“I am going to go check out the smoke.” Cortex said.
“Why” Gerneck asked.
“It is something bad from my past.” Cortex said.
“We are half way to the city, can’t it wait?” Benoni asked.
“No I have put it off for 3 years now and I cannot pass up on this opportunity.” Cortex said.
“What happened?” Gerneck asked.
“I had a bad experience.” Was all cortex would say about it.
Now we were left with several choices; 1. Continue on without the rock man. 2. Split the party and half go with him and half continue with a weakened guard. 3. All of us go with the rock man to investigate the pillar of smoke.
I wondered what would cause the rock man to break his honor.

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The Quest and the Question
The past ever present

These last few weeks have been wonderful as I’ve learned more and advanced in my weaponsmith training. Due to my poor showing in combat, I spent time developing my skills knowing that should I embark on my own, many dangers awaited. But I didn’t have a chance to set off before another task presented itself.

Joran approached us with a particularly odd mission. I didn’t want to alarm the others but I know that typically only a couple of defenders per wagon would be plenty. Most caravans travelling between Ardanyan and Bartertown only employed a single sentry. I know that Joran has been underground for his whole life but surely he could have gotten adequate information to tell him that this road is well-travelled and rarely attacked. To ask all four of us to go along and still put out advertisements for hired hands means we are not just accompanying standard trade fair. Whatever is in this single wagon is very valuable.

However, I put my concerns aside in hopes of being wrong. We gathered at the wagon and met a troll who had signed on as a hired hand. I spent the first two days with my sword in hand. Eramus spent a good amount of time sitting on my shoulder telling tall-tale after tall-tale. Eventually, my confidence bolstered and I sheathed my sword knowing my trusty hammer still hung easily at my side.

On the third day however, I glanced over to the left and saw a figure on a horse some 50 or so yards away from the road. This road is travelled enough that in most cases there was no reason to leave it. We hadn’t seen anyone else that far off the road since we left and my internal alarm went off. I moved closer to the horses and caught Gernak’s eye. I pointed out to him the rider on the hill and he moved up to tell the troll while I started slowing down to let Benoni know. As I did though I noticed 3 flashes of light, like a reflection off of armor or a sword. But I didn’t have much time to contemplate things before the ork-scorchers were upon us. Eight of them came riding from behind the rocks to the right of the road.

I started running to the front of the wagon to protect the driver. But I didn’t get very far before the first one was on me. He threw his spear at me and it grazed my shoulder. My new stone-disc armor deflected most of the damage. I closed the distance but missed on my first swing. I parried his first swing and crushed him with my second strike, knocking him off his horse and either dead or unconscious. I looked up and saw a scorcher staring at me. He had no weapons and after looking at the ork I had just unhorsed, he took off. I noticed that the troll had taken out several of the scorchers on his own and was running to the other side of the wagon.
I followed him and saw several scorchers off their horses and I attacked the nearest one dispatching him in one swipe. The troll took out the other two swiftly with his axe. I still had reservations about him but I was glad he was on our side. Benoni and Gernak were quite injured in the battle. We stripped the scorchers and put their gear in the wagon. Then we bound two of them with rope and killed the others. We woke him up and attempted to interrogate him. The anger threatened to boil but I remained calm as I set my sword on his should to let him know I mean business. He gave us little information but he did say that they were told to specifically attack us. I had been afraid of this. A sinister plot is unfolding.

Once we had gleaned what we could, we dispatched him and the other one. We kept moving and finally came to a crossroads where another group had set up camp for the night. We joined them and got some rest. In the morning we set off again. Around mid-morning, I spotted black smoke rising from probably a farm several miles off the road. Lerod!

They had not been on my mind for most of the trip but now…this was fresh. The billowing smoke told me I might even catch them in the act. But I had signed a contract. Surely this would take just a few moments. Only an hour or two lost. I took several steps to the side of the road. But I need help. I had not found many clues and the experience of my companions might turn up more.

I turned and asked the driver to stop the wagon. As my companions came to me wondering what was wrong, I pointed to the smoke. They don’t know of my quest. I have never been open about it. So I struggled to speak of it. But the urgency of time struck me and I found words and spoke quickly.

“When I first detached from my life rock I encountered a farmer and his wife. They took me in, taught me about this world. I consider them what most name-givers call ‘parents. It was they who brought me to my first forge and guided me to my second home among the pounding metal. On my last trip to my life rock I stopped and spent time with them. A year later as I emerged, I found their farm burned and my father slaughtered in his field. The black smoke smoldered among the buildings and I could not bear to seek out his wife. I doubt she was kept alive. The attack had been recent and I gathered what I could to help me learn who did this. Ever since, I have been doing things solely to aid me on my quest for revenge. I have my armor now, I’m more prepared to fight those who killed my parents but I do not have the training to recognize all of the clues.

“I know you all have contracts. So I do not ask this lightly. But will a couple of you come with me to see this farm. There may yet be people alive. There may yet be their attackers still around. A couple should stay with the wagon but I must go. I feel shame that I have neglected their memories for so long. If none of you will come so be it. I understand. But I must go. With luck I will be gone but an hour or two and will meet up with you again tonight. What say you?”

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A Nethermancers point of view on councils, nonmilitary take overs and death

The door shut firmly behind me and Cortex. We could finally have a rest. I glared at Benoni ready to cast a spell in case if he started to attack us again. It seems like he got control of his arms again, he at least wasn’t drawing his sword or throwing something at us. He started to mumble gibberish again but then decided to write on the ground.
He said that he had lost control of his arms. He could see is arms doing something but he had no control over them. We started to talk about what went on and what our next steps could be. We filled Cortex in on what had been going on for the past fifty years. He still looked a little shocked about all that was going on. As we started to talk about what our next course of action was we all started to be able to understand each other again.
We decided not to go back the way we came so our only option was to head for the weapon shop. On the way towards the shop we decided to try and get a message to Joran. We were able to make our way to the trapdoor. I decided to climb up the ladder and hear what was going on in the shop. It sounded like there was a customer up there with the same ork seller.
After the customer left I timidly knocked on the door. The owner sounded startled and came over to the door. I quietly talked to him in orcish that everything was ok and that we needed to talk. He moved everything away from the door and opened it up. He was startled again when he saw me and we told him that we needed to talk to Joran. He said he could get a message to him but it might take some time. We told him that we would wait. He shut the trapdoor and went out to get Joran. We moved back towards the room with the cell and waited for Joran to arrive. My nerves were on end but I had learned to be patient all my life. Greatness doesn’t come in a quick manner.
It must have been at least an hour before we heard the trapdoor being opened. Joran called out to us and we told him to come to us. He had the two guards he had with him before. He was shocked to see us but we got straight down to business. He wanted to know what happened to us and why we didn’t contact him from the other side of the gate.
He filled him in on our story about the outside world and the town of Ardanyan. He was dumbfounded to hear of our travels and to look at Cortex. We told him of the betrayal of Leldrin and the elves. Benoni was seething at that point but we were able to keep him calm. When we came to end Joran was almost in a state of unbelief. He tried to get his thoughts together but I could tell it was hard for him. We tried to get him to talk by asking what had been going on as the kaer.
He told us that he branded us as criminals and put us in prison to hide our disappearance. He said that since our arrival and our strange mutterings there were mobs running around the kaer looking for us. We asked about the masters but he had no idea where they were.
After we talked about the happenings we got down to making a plan of action. I could tell Benoni wanted to run out, find Leldrin and kill him. Eramos wanted to find his “hot” master for some reason. Cortex was still in a state of shock about being in a kaer. I just wanted to find my master and go back to our lake and fish.
After debating for a while we decided to go before the council and let them know what was going on and what had happened. We all got into the council chamber and awaited the return of its members. Joran introduced Cortex and explained that our wards had been breached and we were at risk. He then retold our story to the council. I had my eye on Leldrin as the story was retold but saw the genuine look of shock and disbelief on his face. I knew what we had seen was true and that Leldrin had a secret passage from his home to the outside world. When Joran came down to the end and accused Leldrin of all of the lies that have been fed the kaer for fifty years, the council was shocked and a few called fro proof. Cortex stood up and said that he would lead the council to the secret passageway to the outside. From there the council was led to the house of Leldrin with Leldrin heavily guarded. Cortex got it right most of the way but Benoni had to point him in the right way a few times. Cortex was able to find the right book to open the secret bookcase and it only took him a couple of wrong tries but made it work in the end.
The council stared awestruck while they walked through the tunnels of the cave. After a little bit of time Cortex, the council and our group emerged in the room with the illusionary wall. We recognized the room but the council stopped to stare at us when we walked towards where the wall was. The council didn’t believe us about the wall until we started to walk through it. I could see the concentration on some of their faces but slowly the illusion was broken over the whole council. The council as a whole turned their heads to Leldrin. He stood there shocked about it as the rest of the council was. As the guards came to secure him properly he shook his head and the face of Leldrin and was replaced with the face of one of his apprentices. He said that Leldrin usually would place an illusion on the face of one of the apprentices during the boring council meetings and he had done the same thing that morning.
With the truth behind us, the council quickly deliberated and decided to send a group of guards to see in what state the council chambers were in in the town and see what they could do to supplant their rule. We went up with them and noticed that the chambers were empty and most of the elves in the city had left. The rest of the city went about their normal work day. With the council under control in the kaer and in the town our group went back to go find our masters. A group of guards found them in a grove of trees no more hurt then they were before.
The kaer council was able to take charge of the town without too much difficulty. Our group was well paid and was able to take control of the mansion that Argathiel lived in. We’ve been spending some time training up but now with a whole wide world out there it seems like we are missing so much of it. I like Brelduin but after seeing what happened to him, my faith in his power has wavered some. He always said that Nethermancers had the power over death. After seeing him so close to it it reminded me of my parents and how much I never want to get that close to it. There is a part of me that wants to cheat death. But what am I talking about. I started learning about nethermancy to learn more about death and the first thing I learn was that everything dies. I know what my mind is telling me but I also know what the powers in my body re telling me to. At this point I don’t know what to believe anymore.

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One Chapter closed, only to start another Anew
an account by Benoni

It has been a long road but we are now were we should be!

After entering into the hidden passage I was finally able to gain control of my arms and stop trying to attack everyone around me. It felt good even though I could not talk. I soon realized that our party was all here, even Cortex who did not seem happy to see me. Yet he was kind enough to return one of my Throwing Daggers.

Since we were unable to talk we started to write what we should do next, this was a Loooooong process and the Windling’s words were so small I could barely read them, even with my sharp eyes. But eventually are speech returned.
We had decided to continue down the passage and see if we could contact Mr. Cage, the tunnel was shorter then I remembered the first time we come down it, on our way out of the Kaer. Gerneck went up the ladder to talk to the shop owner. After several minutes they both came down and we asked the shop keeper to get a message to Cage. I guess I was a little on edge by the dirty looks my companions gave me when I threatened his life, if he betrayed us. All I can say is it has already bee a frustrating morning, and I did not want any more unexpected gifts.

To help calm down I went to the adjacent room to perform my Karma ritual and gain some focus. When Cage finally arrived, we told him everything that happened from the time we left to the present. And can you believe that the first thing he said is that he needed proof that I was not Tainted! Was this guy for real, after everything we had been through for Him and that is all he can think of…… well I guess the Karma ritual was not calming enough, that was the worst looking arrow ever made.

Anyway the plan was set to have us enter the Hall under the disguise that we were chained. Our case we presented and Cortex lent proof by showing himself, an outsider within the Sealed Kaer. For further proof we lead them back to the traders house and into the secret tunnels beyond. When it was proven that for the last 50 years we were all being deceived the fake Hero was taken, only to find out that it was just his fool apprentice.

Wanting to make sure that the masters were ok, I was torn between finding them and staying to prove the further crimes of our former Legend. But in the end, I saw that everything possible was being done to find the masters and I would be more help leading the guard to the Council House in the world above. At first glance I could tell that we would not find much, the place had been cleaned out, which meant the traitors were gone.

Upon returning to the Kaer we were welcomed by news that the Masters were found and they were being healed, and in the next few days the city beneath would join with that above. We were given the choice of all of the empty Mansions above, it would seem that all of the cowards had fled. In the weeks that came later I spent a lot of time training and while I was not in the yard with bow or sword I was away making arrows for my new War Bow, but not any arrows. These were special for on each one was a name. A name that matched a traitor, one arrow for each one, for I will not miss and they will know that the arrow that killed them was meant Only for them. Two arrows stood out above the rest, marking them as special, one bore the name of the Former Hero, the one that stayed and lead us all live in fear. The other was marked with the name of my Birth Mother. You see we found a book that told of all the people that had forsaken their people and their Father’s before them, and in its pages was my Mother, marked with the date of the event and even how her Fake Death was done.

It makes no difference to me that I was most likely to go with her, that I would have lived my life above ground. On that day she had turned her back on her own and that cannot be forgiven! Nor will it be forgotten! For all of you traitors out there, let it be known that you will be Hunted, you will be Found, and you will Die!!! But this time there will be no tricks, no Illusion, Just the Hard Cold Grasp of Death!

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The End From The Beginning
Where do I go from here?

After the door closed, we were plunged into darkness. Then I saw a light and moved toward it. Benoni seemed to have calmed down and they started writing in the dirt to communicate although they babbled at the same time. We started to plot our strategy from here and shortly after that, suddenly Benoni started speaking normally again. Finally! I was getting tired of trying to make out their scrawling in the dim light. And Eramus’ writing is really crappy.

I returned Benoni’s knife to him in a much gentler manner than he gave it to me. We decided to press forward to try and contact this Joran who sent them out. We finally came out into a jail cell where the door hung open. Then a short tunnel led to a ladder. Gerneck volunteered to go up since the owner of the store above was also an ork. I prepared to pull myself up since the trap door wasn’t that high up and the wood ladder really couldn’t hold my weight. But after some knocking the owner opened the door and came down. He agreed to go get Joran and left.
While we waited, some did Karma rituals and I paced nervously. I had come into an unfamiliar world and now I sat here with Name-givers accused of being escaped prisoners. I didn’t know what to think anymore. I needed answers. They needed answers. After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened and we saw people coming down the ladder. It was Joran and a couple of guards. I readied myself for battle. I was really disliking guards.

The story was told to an overwhelmed Joran. I confirmed that Argathiel and Handreaux still lived. He struggled to take it all in. But the reality seemed to finally sink in and a plan of action was proposed. We would be led in chains before the Council. I didn’t like this, despite Joran’s assurances. After much debate, it was decided that those three would come up in chains and I would conceal myself among the gallery in the council chamber to stand forth as proof of the outside world. I liked this because then I could take action should I have to. However, acting inconspicuous when you are as tall as I am is a fairly difficult task. I tried sitting but smashed the chair. I finally just leaned against the back wall, and pulled the cloak close around me.

Once the council was assembled, my new friends were brought in and Joran explained to the council what we had told him. Then I stepped forward and removed my cloak as proof that life existed outside the kaer. There was a lot of commotion understandably. Joran asked me to lead the council to the tunnel we had come in through. Uh, crap. So with a lot of help from Benoni, I finally led them to the house of the illusionist and then to the library. I swear I remember what book it was we needed to pull to open the door but the one I pulled didn’t work. I felt so dumb. But I couldn’t let my friends down and I knew we had come through here so I searched and realized I was two books over. After pulling that one the secret passageway opened.

Some of the council members scoffed but I led them down the tunnel to the large cavern. I forgot that there was an illusion cast here and so I walked right through it. But the council members only saw a solid wall so that gave them quite a start. When I turned around and saw all of the commotion I remembered and returned through the illusion. This helped as slowly all of them disbelieved and the wall vanished. At this, they ordered the guards who were with us to seize the illusionist as he was a member of the council. But the face quickly changed and it turned out to be his apprentice who was often asked to masquerade as his master to meetings his master thought pointless. The illusionist had escaped.

While the anger seethed inside me, I knew we needed to further the case so I volunteered to accompany a group of kaer guards back up the tunnel to the council house. I figured this would give me a good opportunity to vent some of my anger on any soldiers from Ardanyan. The others wanted to see their masters but decided to join me in returning. We were greatly disappointed to see that the treasure room and shrine had been cleaned out. There were no soldiers anywhere. We found the rest of the master’s slaughtered in the cell so I’m glad we made the effort to save some of them. However, the loss of innocent life angered me further. We took the kaer guard up the stairs and let them look out the window to see the outside and then returned to the kaer.

I brought one of the dead master’s back so that they could see his death and it was verified that Argathiel had taken part in their murder. Joran insisted that the kaer council go above and take over the council house in Ardanyan. I resisted but finally gave in and went with him and others to sercure the council house. After a sweep through the building, we found nothing of interest. The place had been cleaned out in a hurry. I left and went to Handreaux’s forge. The building was boarded up and all he left behind were tools. Coward.

The next day or two passed in a slight blur as the kaer opened and their people rejoined the city of Ardanyan. My friends and I were given Argathiel’s mansion as our own and his forge was turned over to Elmar Firehammer, a master weaponsmith. He took me as his apprentice and I finally have been able to train up to Circle 2 as a weaponsmith. It was good to hear the pounding of the forge again. I also finally had time and experience to meditate upon my talents and learn them better.

With all of the excitement, my thoughts had been drawn away from Lerod and Mary. But with things calming down, the town residents who had not fled with Argathiel adjusted to the new government and the kaer residents sought homes and employment, once again I had time to think. So many more innocent lives had been lost now. Where did Argathiel flee to? Vengence surged inside me again but now my focus has been torn. For so long all I cared about was Lerod and Mary. Now I had friends again. Surely they will join any expedition to hunt for Argathiel and his lot. I should go with them. But it seems like every step takes me further from finding the killers I have sought for so long. This experience of living feels much different than I thought it would.

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