Tir Na n'Fir

The Lost City - Into Emer
Thoughts from the point of view of Cora'sol "The Immortal"

cross posted from Cora’s Travel Journal

“If there is any wisdom running through my life now, in my walking on this earth, it came from listening in the Great Silence to the stones, trees, space, the wild animals, to the pulse of all life as my heartbeat.” Vijali Hamilton

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Previously in our story…

The next morning, we woke to find that the golden winter wine that Tobias and I had drunk the night before still had some effect, as the colors of the world all seemed much more vivid. The effect soon faded, however, and we made our preparations to finally enter into Emer to face the dragon.

We all knew, to some degree, what we might face going into the city, and each one of us spent extra time examining armor for flaws, sharpening weapons, and reprovisioning. Gearing up for the long journey to the city, and for a battle we were not sure we could win, but knew we needed to fight, we took extra precautions with our supplies. Ishmael watched us all, and bade us luck and fortune as we turned the cart north and set out along the road out of town.

Thankfully, we faced nothing during the first month of travel, and at the end of four long weeks on the road, we finally reached the end of the fourth large field. As we approached the edge of the field, I noticed a man in grey robes standing at the corner of the corn rows, scowling darkly at us. As we grew closer, I saw that his gaze was most focused on KelLyn, and I drew her attention to the stranger on the road. She said that he was obviously not a farmer, but did not recognize him, and did not care to stop and talk to him. As she seemed unconcerned, we passed the man without stopping, but I kept a watchful eye on him until he was out of sight, and in that entire time, his gaze never left KelLyn.

A short distance down the road, we saw movement off in the grasses to the right, and we saw three odd looking animals that looked a lot like a cross breeding between a camel and some odd thing with a long prehensile nose. Tobias, having recently graduated from the Monsters class at the university, spoke up and said that the beasts were “Disenchanters” and that they ate magic. He warned that he had learned that they ignore non magical attacks completely, and that with as many magical items as the party carried, we probably looked like a feast to the creatures.

Indeed, before he had even finished speaking, they turned towards the party and began to shimmer visibly with a blue electrical light. One of the creatures raised it’s long snout in the air and sniffed loudly, appearing to try to decide which of us seemed to be the most magical. It focused on KelLyn and Jaeger, and began to walk toward us, while the other two ignored us completely and continued to paw at the ground where their attention was focused.

Jaeger drew his sword with a ring, and that was enough to draw the complete attention of the one that had been coming towards the party. It began to jog, and then trot towards us, and when the creature was about 40 yards away, Osman began to chant a summoning spell. As he chanted, a chunk of earth rose up beside him, and he instructed the elemental to move towards the disenchanter just as Jaeger also finished casting a spell. Jaeger’s spell seemed to have no effect, however, and Tobias drew his weapons and made his way through the sharp grasses to see if he could discern what had so captivated the other two magic-eaters.

The grasses were high enough that I could not see what he saw, but I saw him swing one of his maces in a deadly arc toward one of the digging creatures. A small wind rose up around Jaeger, and I knew that my bow would be of no use in this fight, so I drew my sword instead. Osman cast another spell, to no effect, and Tobias swung, again striking the creature that was digging do diligently towards it’s buried prize.

Osman, throwing reason to the winds, pulled out the magical censer and began to swing it in an arc as he summoned again, and this time, something answered. A prince of the fire realm stood before him, and I could see the visible battle of wills between the two.

Lan leaned toward the beast that continued to trot towards us, and she cast a spell to tame the creature. It seemed to work momentarily, as it stopped its forward movement and stood watching us passively. Jaeger tried again to use magic, but again, it failed against the magic eater. KelLyn also attempted magic, and her spell completed with a chunk of rock hitting the placid disenchanter in the face. I knew that I could not reach it with my sword, and did not wish to get within range to do so, so I tried to convince the grasses to entangle the beast.

My spell failed, however I did not lose faith in my abilities at the failure. I knew that my magic would be hampered here, and though I failed this time, I felt that I had been very close to succeeding, and made a quick mental note to try calling up actual vines next time instead of trying to use the roots.

The fire elemental, having only barely lost the battle of wills with Osman, set off through the grasses towards the disenchanters, setting fire to the fields as it walked. It reached the first creature, killing it with a single scorching touch, before proceeding toward the other two and Tobias. Tobias seemed unaware of the approach of the fiery elemental, continued to strike at the obstinately oblivious animal in front of him.

Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting the fires to rage out of control, I began to shovel dirt onto the flames that I could reach, and I heard KelLyn begin chanting in the magical language she used for her most powerful spells. With a rush, a wall of water rose up out of the ground and swept over the fields, dousing the fires effectively. With the largest of the flames no longer a worry, I shifted my focus more toward making sure that anything left smouldering was extinguished as well.

The elemental approached Tobias, and reached out to immolate the magic-eaters with a single touch before it turned back toward the party and stalked toward Osman. Osman was still swinging the censer, wide eyed, and attempted to dismiss the elemental prince. The dismissal was ignored, and so Lan tried to disenchant it which only managed to gain it’s full attention. Lan quickly asked KelLyn and Jaeger to help her, and the three of them worked quickly, circling one another to gather power for the banishing spell.

I moved clear of their efforts, not wanting to be nearby if it failed, and made my way carefully through the knife like grass to where Tobias was still digging through the dirt. Together we dug up the piece of KelLyn’s staff that had been thrown clear when the potion maker’s tower had exploded, and we pulled it out of the ground, blackened and covered in grime.

We made our way back to the rest of the party to see that the banishing spell had thankfully been successful, and we presented KelLyn with the piece of her staff. She was quite pleased that we had found it, and quickly cleaned it off and fastened it to the other piece that she carried. Once the pieces were together, she fashioned a strap to carry it across her back, and after making sure that no one was injured and that all the fires had been put out, we made our way back to the main road to continue towards the city of Emer.

The area past the fields was wild and unkempt forest. We could see the gleam of the university library’s shining dome just over the trees off to the right. As we progressed, the roads got worse, and the evidence of large scale destruction became more evident. Soon enough the rubble remains of the walls of Emer loomed before us, and we decided to make camp where we had stopped for the evening. At dusk, as we had noticed every day, we saw the dragon launch itself into the sky and fly counterclockwise around the area 7 times. There was a sense of tired ritual about the motion, and my thoughts again were drawn to the task of breaking the circle and whether or not the dragon would even be amenable to such a suggestion. The motions it makes and the sense I have gotten of it being trapped here lead me to hope that, perhaps it might be.

Once camp was made, I recalled the letter that Tobias had given to me while we were at the university, and I used a spell to help me translate the oddly familiar language, which read as follows:

“My dearest Eamon,
I know you are returning to your family in the Iverne mountains to continue in your family trade. I will miss you and the research we did at the library. Mistress Bliss had hoped that you would continue deciphering the elven work on conversing with plants, since you had that natural gift. I understand you will be working on it on your own until things are stable at home. No one born of the road can truly stop traveling. Ruald and I will visit you in two years to see if you are ready to wander, or if a “kidnapping” is in order. We have heard enough of the songs of Brazzemal and Tidoran to last through all the ale of two taverns. The bards here are not as good as those we traveled with.
Thank you for the shiny things. i will keep them on my travels as we head to the other continent.
Yours in Aroon –
Pyl"

There was a very faint holy symbol inscribed underneath the signature, but I did not recognize it, nor did I recognize the names that were mentioned within the letter. I found it interesting though, and I recalled that the mountains were those interior spires on the eastern edge of the other continent. Both the high elves and dwarfs lived there. there was only one desert on the other continent, also in the eastern kingdom, that exists solely because of those mountain ranges. There was – is still – speculation that the desert had been artificially created. In the heart of that desert was a dwarfish oasis, and the elven settlements and lands were surrounded by gate towers that were built of stone.

The next day we broke camp and began to cautiously make our way towards the city. Appearance of distance is odd in this place, and though the crumbling walls loomed ahead of us, it still took us another week to reach them. We passed abandoned farm houses and hamlets,all overgrown and unkempt. Nature was taking back her own with vine and rot, and the buildings were crumbling to dust. The gates of the city were missing entirely, being ripped apart by the dragon upon it’s arrival so long ago.

There was no noise here, and it struck me suddenly. The silence was absolute, and our footsteps echoed off of the stone pathway desolately. We became extremely cautious then, with the rubble looming large around us in this dead and dying place. The main highway into the city seemed clear, and we were able to make our way into the city proper unmolested. The buildings we passed were all knocked down, and I observed that there was a pattern to the destruction, as if a mighty shockwave had exploded from the center of town.

About 6 blocks further in, the main road became impassable, but we saw that the smaller road off to the right remained clear. We continued onto that road, picking our way through the rocks, and over on the left hand side, I caught a glimpse of what had once been a park. All of the trees were dead and fallen except for 7. Those 7 all appeared to be in full leaf, but oddly colored in gold, red, silver, blue, a clear amber, grey, and a deep solid black that actually hurt my eyes to look at for too long. I wanted to go over to the odd trees, but I could not find a way over the rubble, and as there was no clear path, I made note of them so that I could come back to examine them afterward.

The road turned slightly and wound its way around a large palace structure which was built straight into the outer wall. The walls of the structure were drawn in rather than keeping to the circular shape, and the structure was massively damaged. We followed the road around in front of the palace property, and we came to a crossroad where all four pathways had been cleared. We decided to take the left path, and we saw a set of completely intact buildings ahead. We discussed our options quietly for a moment, and then moved over to the sheltered street to examine the intact buildings further. We discovered that this street appeared to be a gathering of the mage academy and several chapels to various deities.

Tobias examined the chapels and then muttered an oath saying that one of the chapels bore the symbol of the temple to the Celestine order of the paladin that had tried once before to kill the party before I joined them. He told us about the paladin of Celestia, and that while he had no issue with the order itself, he had a personal vendetta against the paladin. KelLyn and Jaeger had wandered over across the road to examine the doors of the mage academy. As they moved closer to look at the doors, they activated the trap spells placed over the doors as protection, which exploded with a gout of flames. KelLyn and Jaeger both seemed to simply absorb the power of the blast, and thankfully none of the rest of the party were harmed. KelLyn said something to Jaeger in his language, and they worked together to cast a ward to surround them and protect the party from any additional fireworks. Apparently, speaking in Jaeger’s guttural language was a trigger for yet another trap, for when they spoke, lightning suddenly burst out at them both. Again, the two mages simply seemed to shrug off the power of the spell with only mild annoyance.

They cautiously began to work together again, and this time they were able to complete their warding which encased them and the whole of the front door with a glowing blue energy. As soon as the ward snapped closed, we saw the sphere fill suddenly fill with water and then immediately drain. While they worked on disarming the heavily trapped door, I saw an arrow suddenly appear in the outside of the ward. I turned, my own bow nocked, and immediately began to scan the buildings and ruins surrounding us.

Inside the sphere a large rock fell, but bounced harmlessly off of both Jaeger and KelLyn; and then a beam of light shot out of the doorway. Jaeger pushed KelLyn out of the way, and they were both unharmed by the final trap on the entrance. I continued to scan for the archer who had shot the arrow, and soon located him up on one low pile of rubble, aiming another arrow at us. I took careful aim, and fired a warning shot which sheared the buttons off of his shirt. The shot served it’s purpose well, as the man startled and his second shot flew wide of it’s mark. His eyes wide, he turned and fled into the ruins with Tobias sprinting off after him.

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The Lost City - Some Long Conversation
Thoughts from the point of view of Cora'sol "The Immortal"

cross posted from Cora’s Travel Journal

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein

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Previously in our story…

We spent about a month at the University researching various topics. I continued my search for information regarding sylvan trees and sacred druidry. The librarian there, a curiously round little man who smelled like old books and ink, informed me somewhat sniffily that all of the tomes and records involving or even mentioning sacred druidry had been checked out by the elves of Emer some 170 years prior, and had yet to be returned. He wailed, albeit quietly, that he feared the books had been lost, destroyed, or being held as a part of the dragon’s unapproachable treasure hoard.

I smiled at him and told him that I and my party were making plans to enter Emer soon, and if I should find the books he mentioned, I would gladly bring them back to the university as long as he would provide me with a copy of them as an exchange. He wiped his teary eyes with a small ink stained cloth and agreed quickly to my proposal.

He then went back into the shelves and brought out another armload of writings regarding the sylvan trees. He told me that the sylvan tree had been here since before even the elves had arrived. The elves had indeed built the city of Emer around the tree, and that during the height of the city’s acclaim, seedlings from the sylvan tree had been sent out to other places. (No, he replied to my immediate question, he did not have a list of the places that the seedlings were sent.)

He went on, somewhat sadly, to say that the tree was believed to be completely dead now, as it was destroyed by the dragon to imprison the body of the knight. I had a thought then, and asked to expand my research to include any information on how to renew a tree, which provided me with some additional information that I found quite useful.

I learned that there was a way to renew a sylvan tree from a donor plant. The plant in question would have to be brought in with an elf who lived with the seedling, and a protector who stayed with it until it was planted. This, combined with the knowledge that my ancestors gave to me regarding the ability to regrow a sylvan tree from an existing piece, gives me a lot of hope that I will be able to accomplish my task here.

I thanked the librarians profusely for their help with the research, and I allowed them to make a copy of my personal herb index as a part of my payment to them. I inquired about their fence, and they told me that the dwarfs and gnomes of Quadling had crafted it.

As I rejoined the rest of the party members, Tobias handed me a letter written in an oddly familiar desert language. I shared with them the information that I had learned regarding both the tree and the dragon, and they agreed with my statement that we should return to Quadling to talk to Ishmael in order to get some iron weaponry.

Scott offered to help us with the horses, and we made our way out to the road and on back toward Quadling. Our travel there was thankfully uneventful, and I noticed that the plants that we passed looked strange to me. I made mention of this, and Scott said that he had some skill in potion craft, and identified the odd plants as likely components for potion making. We decided to leave the plants alone, and after a two week journey, arrived again at the verdant grasslands of Quadling.

We made our way to the center of the little town, and immediately set out to find Ishmael. Ishmael greeted us quickly, but warmly, and asked what had brought us back to his step. Tobias handed over the deep metal hammer that Shalev had shown him before departing, and he accepted the gift with small thanks. We caught him up on our adventures, and told him of Shalev’s leaving. we commissioned Ishmael to make some iron arrow heads and spear points for us.

We saw Fife there, working at the forges with Ishmael, and though I am pleased to see that he has found his way here safely, he was quite angry at seeing the party. He immediately launched into an angry outburst and threatened violence if any of us came near him. I stayed well away, and approached Ishmael quietly to ask if our stay would cause any issues. Ishmael shook his head and told me not to worry, that he would keep Fife busy and well away from the party. I thanked Ishmael for his insight, and asked him if he would mind sharpening my sword (again.) He looked at me oddly and asked what exactly I keep doing to the sword to dull it so. I told him about the encounter with the blue dragon, and he snorted once before saying that that would, indeed, be a good reason to have dulled the edge.

He agreed to sharpen it for me, but warns that it would take some time, and asked if we could run a shipment of supplies down to the castle of the sorceress of the south. I brought the request to the rest of the party, and they agreed to the trek south. Ishmael brought out an ornate deep metal gate, and with the help of a number of people, we were able to load it onto a wagon to transport. We resupplied, and rested for the remainder of the day, and then set out the following morning.

Two weeks into the journey, as we camped one evening, KelLyn alerted the party to the fact that she felt something odd. Her magic sense is acute, so we all were instantly wary of what might be about. Scott looked at everyone on edge, and grabbed a wood cutter’s axe to arm himself as well. KelLyn pointed at a small metal sphere sitting inconspicuously near the fire pit and said that was where the magic was radiating from. Considering how many magical items the party carries with it, the fact that she picked this item out from all the others was impressive.

She examined the sphere carefully, without touching it, and learned that it had a powerful create fire spell inside it. She immediately picked it up and threw it as far as her formidable strength would allow toward the ridge line of mountains we traveled near. At about 40 feet into the air, the sphere exploded with a deafening detonation, and it was clear that had KelLyn not seen the sphere in time, it would have killed us all. I immediately began to scout the area, and quickly saw a man wearing dark robes attempting to hide in the grasses a short way behind the party. He had remained to see the handiwork of his death sphere, and I approached him silently but rapidly to try to capture him. He saw me before I could get close enough to him, and shouted “Death to the Imperialist Merchants! You will not live to regret crossing the border of death.” before disappearing in a cloud of foul smelling smoke.

I searched the area where he had been hiding thoroughly, and found a small metal ring with a stem on it that looked like it might have been the key that activated the death sphere. I also found a scrap or paper fluttering in the air which, upon examination, appeared to be a sketched out map showing how to get into the bowl from the mountain pass, should one be willing to travel straight up to the top of the mountain and then down again. It was a treacherous and deadly path, but I made a note of it as a potential way out of this place.

There was some additional scribbling on the paper that I could not read, but it looked like some kind of notes regarding the starting point of the would be assassin. I made my way silently back to camp, and showed the scrap of paper to KelLyn. Her face went white when she inspected the paper, and she said that it was written in Penician thieves guild cant. I question why someone from her home town would care about “imperialist merchants” but she was just as confused as I was. We set up additional watches that night, but thankfully there were no further incidents.

The remainder of the journey to the hall of the southern sorceress took three weeks, and as we made our way up to the gate house, the guard there stopped us and demanded our names. We told him that we had come from Quadling with a delivery from Ishmael, and he immediately sent word up to the main house. A few moments later, we saw a carriage descend the winding road down to the gate house where we waited. The sorceress stepped out of the carriage to greet us, and expressed her appreciation at the masterwork of the gate that had been made for her. She looked at it critically for a moment, and then asked us all to back up slightly as she began to cast a spell. As she worked, we saw that the drawbridge was stretching out to match the width of the gate. I took a curious note that the spell that she cast was a secular plant spell, and I watched her actions with interest.

Tobias and Scott offered to help lift the gate into place, and the two of them were able to help maneuver it into the space. Scott had removed his shirt before he began to work, as he only had the one set of clothes and didn’t want to ruin it. I watched KelLyn and the sorceress admire his labor with obvious appreciation, and I raised my eyebrow in silent amusement. I suppose he is well enough formed, for a human. I left them to their oggling, but returned a few moments later when I heard the gate clang into place. The sorceress nodded approvingly, and then began to cast another spell. I paid very close attention to what she was doing, and saying, as 20 rowan trees grew up out of the empty ground. They matured, and then moved themselves over to the cart and laid themselves down across it. The sorceress spoke quietly to the trees, and they burst into full leaf, and then began to drop seeds. As the seeds fell, the people gathered them into bushels and placed them on the cart as well.

I watched in wonder, and made a mental note to have a long conversation with the sorceress regarding the potential to learn from her. Her spell casting complete, and the cart fully loaded, she offered the party a meal, and we accepted. Once inside the main house, we were escorted over to the dining room, and I noted the large library room off to one side. Scott, still shirtless, somewhat shyly asked if he could put his clothes back on, only to have Lan, KelLyn, and the sorceress all chorus “no.”

Once we were all seated around her table, she inquired as to our preferences for cuisine. Lan chirped that she prefers to chase her fish. A very confused servant offered her a fish, and then ran away from her so that she could indeed chase the fish. She gleefully chased after him, but after missing him a second time, she cast a spell at the poor man to shrink him so that he would drop the fish. The man did shrink, and Lan picked the fish up and then handed the man back to the sorceress, who took him with a bemused look.

After our meal, she excused herself for a while, and offered us the use of her baths and beds. I took the opportunity to enjoy a bath, and spent quite a long time simply luxuriating in the waters. As old as I am, and as long as I have lived in the desert, I don’t think I will ever tire of a good bath. As I soaked in the waters, a pair of human women waited on me. They spent their time washing and brushing my hair, which i rarely wear free flowing since we are always traveling or fighting. As they washed and brushed, they cooed over the feel and color of my hair, and offered to braid it for me in a court style. I agreed, and they wove my hair into an intricate pattern of braids that was only worn by the highest in the courts. Once they were done, and since we were able to relax for a few days here, I decided that I would wear my blue silk dress.

Once my bath was done, and my hair was finished, I decided to visit her library and spend some time in study. As I descended the stairs, I was reminded that the rest of the party had rarely seen me like this, and I was slightly amused at the stunned look on Tobias’ face. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, still, and it amuses me to keep him guessing. I spent the rest of the evening studying my books and sipping my favorite tea by the fire, for once unworried about my surroundings. While i don’t sleep, I do enjoy having the down time to really relax once in a while.

The next morning, the servants offered us a sumptuous breakfast of eggs, and some form of meat fried in butter. I tried it curiously, but found that it was not to my liking, though the rest of the party devoured it with obvious enjoyment. There was also fresh bread, and the sorceress said that she would have several of the loaves as well as the fresh butter set aside for us to take with us when we departed.

I remembered the coffee beans that Shalev had taught me how to brew, and I offered to make her some. She accepted, and tasted the slightly bitter brew with curiosity. She asked if I had any more of the beans, as she liked the taste. I said I only had a handful of the beans that were ready to brew, but that I had several seedlings of the bush, and that she was welcome to have one. She eagerly agreed, and offered to show me through her gardens after breakfast was done.

I brought the seedling to her later, and as we toured around the aromatic plants of her expansive gardens, we chatted about a number of things. About half way across the area, I turned suddenly towards a very strong energy pull. I felt the energy of the place thrum through me, and I asked her if she would mind if I tried to speak to my ancestors while here. She said that I was welcome to try, but that I was unlikely to be able to reach through the effects of the circle surrounding the bowl. She was correct, and though I tried, I received no response. I thanked her for the chance, and our conversations shifted over to magic and the sacred. I asked her how she was able to call the trees up the way she did, and she offered to teach me about magic. I discovered, to my surprise, that she was actually older than I was, and we agreed together that there were many more conversations between us in the future.

As we departed the gardens, she handed me a cut quartz decanter full of an extremely good wine. She told me to wait until the time was right, and enjoy the wine with the thoughts of all we had shared. I gave her one of the bottles of the exceptional elven wine that I had in return, and we made our way back into the house. The next day the party made preparations to return to Quadling, and we departed with my farewell to the sorceress to visit again when I am able.

As we rode out toward Quadling, I studied the decanter that she had given me, and I noticed that there was something written on one side of it. I don’t recognize the language, but Lan says that it’s in a language from the other continent. After about two weeks of travel, I heard the scroll case in my bag click to signal the change of seasons, and when we made camp that evening, I spent some time doing the rituals for the summer season. Again, I received no direct response from my ancestors, though I was able to feel that they were pleased with the continued attempts to reach them. I spent the rest of the evening studying the book of spells that Tobias had gifted to me, and I was able to learn spells that would allow me to set up a perfect area for camping, and interestingly enough, a spell that would allow me to add magical impulse to interactions with fae and elves.
I took careful note of these spells in my own book, and said a small thanks to my ancestors for the ability to understand them.

We made it back to Quadling a week later, and the people cheered as we drove the trees into town. They immediately unloaded the trees and carried them over to turn them into charcoal. The charcoal was carried over to the forges, and I watched as the people all sang in unison as Ishmael worked to stoke the fires white hot. He said that if this worked, that they would have a crucible capable of pouring deep metal, and then watched the fires critically for a few moments before turning back to us.

He handed me my sword, better than new and razor sharp, with a quip that I should fight less dragons with it. I thanked him for taking care of it for me, and made no promises regarding what we might be facing in the future. He smiled at that, and then handed us several baskets full of iron arrow and spear points.

He noticed the quartz decanter I carried, and asked to see it for a moment. I handed it to him carefully, and he looked at the etchings on the side of it. He raised his eyebrows in appreciation and told me that the etching was a label that said “Black Ice Winery,” before he handed it back to me. KelLyn gave Ishmael a red star stone for his use, and Scott asked Ishmael about the war that he had heard about.

Ishmael looked at Scott for a moment, and then told us that the dark elf army and their march across the desert.
I pointed out with some concern that the messenger who had brought Shalev’s summons home had said something about an army, and that we had seen walls surrounding the oasis. Ishmael gives us an update on the goings on, and he is well informed about what is happening outside of this protected crater.

Later that evening, I decided that I would enjoy the wine that the sorceress had given me, and I sat down by the fireside and opened the bottle. As soon as the seal was broken, the bottle sang with a harmonious hum. The wine inside was gold in color, and smelled of winter fruit and flowers. I knew that it was on the verge of turning sour, so I poured it into glasses for Tobias and I to share. It tasted of sunlight through snow, of thick honey, sweet winter berries, and long chilly nights beside a fire. It carried with it the sweetness of laughter, and the warming heat of stolen kisses.

As we savored the wine, we talked, and watched the embers of the fire glow with incandescent colors. It was a rare moment between us, where the world faded to just he and I. The troubles and worries of tomorrow ceased to be, for one silent span of moments, and that peace will live within my memory for many years to come.

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I was surprised to find such a kinship with the sorceress. I was serious when I said that I would try to visit with her again. I think she has much she could teach me regarding my own powers, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that we shared.

I worry about my friend. He may be gone from the party’s thoughts, but not from mine. I know he is well protected by more than one deity, but I am afraid that I might not see him again in his lifetime.

Once we make our way out of this place, there are still so many things to do. I recalled what the winged man had told us about the artifacts we would need if we had any hope of defeating the dark elves. About everything being tied together. I still don’t know how what we do here ties in to the bigger picture, but I feel, more strongly than ever, that it’s necessary to face what comes ahead.

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The Lost City - Returning to School
Thoughts from the point of view of Cora'sol "The Immortal"

Authors Note: This actually goes back a while, and I have a lot of writing to catch up on. I will continue to create new entries until we are caught up so stay tuned!

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“It is important that one never stops learning. Whether it be traditional studies through books and letters, or more practical studies of life and experience. The moment you stop learning… stop wanting to learn… is the moment you cease to be.”

The party seems adrift with Shalev gone. Despite all of the things they said about him and to him, they can not deny that he provided for us. It is interesting that with him gone, they seem to have lost interest in completing the tasks we have set ourselves to accomplish. They seem content to wander aimlessly, and I am reminded strongly of the moment we… I first encountered them wandering lost and ill-prepared through the middle of the desert.

- Cora

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We made our way along the road, traveling west at a steady and uninterrupted pace. The roads here are scarred badly in places and not well maintained, but still passable. Travel is not difficult, and we see small farm houses scattered throughout the fields. There is a large forest off to the right composed primarily of nut trees, and I took the opportunity to gather some of these for our stores. It was slow going, but we were not traveling quickly, and eventually I was able to gather two full barrels of pecans and walnuts. The nuts were sweet and delicious, and I was thrilled to find such a bounty. I thanked the trees for their fruit, though I do not know if they heard or cared.

After about two weeks, we were able see the mountain clearly off to the right, and we used this as an additional guide in our travels. The roads were thankfully quiet, and we appeared to be the only travelers out and about. As we rode, we saw the corn fields that had stretched for acres end and a huge field of the strange crimson flowers begin. Recalling the earlier warning about the danger of these flowers, we noticed with some caution that the road branched off here and the road to the right went straight through the center of that field. The left hand path went off by the edge of the corn fields, and Jaeger agreed to scout ahead as a raven.

When he returned, he told the party that the path through the flowers was much faster, potentially, than continuing on our current path. Still wary of the potential effects of the carmine fields, we elected to stay on our current path despite the additional travel time, and continued on the left hand path around the flowers.

The next morning, the party awoke to what appeared to be snow falling, and as we began to bring out the winter gear, we noticed a humming sound in the air. We looked around to try to locate the source of the sound, and we saw a number of iridescent soap bubbles floating in the air in a northern direction.

While this was, by far, not the strangest thing some of us had ever seen, it was enough to make us pause for a moment. When Jaeger reached out to touch one of the delicate bubbles with a curious look on his face, it popped with a small sound. The bubbles gradually increased in size, and one particularly large bubble was almost 8 feet across. This large bubble descended down right in front of where the party stood, and when it touched the ground it burst in a shimmering shower to reveal a human woman wearing long white robes.

The party watches her warily, and she looks long at the party, noticing each one of the magic users right away with a simple nod in their directions. After a moment, she comments that she noticed that we had chosen to travel around the flowers, and that this was wise. She asked us directly then what we intended to do to fix the land, asking KelLyn specifically if, as an archmage, could she not detect the imbalances?

I remained silent at this, but raised an eyebrow, as this is something I had been telling the party almost as soon as we arrived. KelLyn murmured that she wasn’t always an archmage, and then waxed poetic about balance and the nature of things. I looked at her with some amusement at this, and began to think that maybe – just maybe – she had been paying attention to what I was saying after all.

The woman, who says her name is Glenda, tells us that the war has spread across the entire continent, and asked what our purpose here in this bowl was. As KelLyn had been singled out by her, she continued to speak, telling Glenda about our quest to restore the sylvan tree in the center of Emer, and the additional quests that we had to heal GranTier and locate Joffrey’s library.

At that statement, Glenda smartly quipped “which one?” and tells KelLyn that the library that we are seeking is most likely the one located over in the Krakafir mountain ranges. KelLyn ranted for a while about Joffrey breaking her things, and when she described her staff, Glenda took immediate notice. When Glenda expressed interest in this, KelLyn told the her about the desert being cursed, and then said “but I fixed it.” Which caused Tobias and I to glare at her with some anger, because it was not she alone that helped to restore the desert, and had it not been for all of us, we could not have accomplished the feat.

Glenda noticed our ire, and raised her eyebrow at KelLyn at the presumptive nature of her declaration, but then quickly changes the subject to ask her about her ability to do magic with water, as it was an uncommon gift. KelLyn mentioned Lan, and Lan began speaking animatedly about fish and water,and how she missed the ocean. She then stopped, mid-ramble, to ask what kind of fish hamburger was, and then started up about water again, and the strangeness of the fish there.

This whole conversation caused Glenda to blink, amused, but she was either very interested in what Lan was saying, or she was too polite to interrupt the selkie’s chatter. The rest of the party, seeing no threat and deciding that we were not going anywhere any time soon, began to set out the camp again and relax.

I watched, quietly, and listened as KelLyn and Glenda talked. KelLyn proceeded to lay out her entire life story for the unknown woman as if they were long lost sisters. During the course of the conversation, her goddess Leilanna was brought up, which made Lan chirp that she was her avatar. This sparked another long discussion about divinity, which ended with Lan wondering aloud if Leilanna could taste whatever she tasted, and promptly licking the ground.

Again, Glenda blinked at the antics, and murmured under her breath about whether or not we actually HAD traveled through the flowers. After a moment, Glenda waved her hands and snow fell gently onto the blood colored flowers. She pulled out a wand, and I tensed at the action, but she only conjured a table with a smile and a statement that it was time for a break. I relaxed some at this, realizing that there was nothing we could likely do if she chose to harm us in any case, and in desert fashion, I offered to share food with her. Tobias brought out one of the older bottles of wine to share, and the food appeared directly on the plates in large portions. I noticed with some appreciation that the meal was individually tailored to each of the party members, and that the vegetables and fruits that appeared on my own plate were well spiced and seemed at the peak of their season.

Jaeger pulled out his sword and laid it on the table, as was his custom to do. Half of his food vanished into the sword, and Glenda’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. She accepted the wine that we had provided, and crystal goblets appeared to pour it into. She asked us about our next steps then, and KelLyn stated that our immediate goal was to repair or restore the sylvan tree. I was uncomfortable with the amount of information KelLyn seemed to be so carelessly sharing, and I shot her a warning glance as Glenda asked her how we knew it was still there.

Glenda cautioned us that we would need to be stealthy to get back in, and tells us that the dragon would be quite difficult to deal with, as things are the way they are here for a reason. She says that the imbalance here is necessary, with a glance at me. KelLyn tells her about the blue dragon that we encountered and Glenda looks at her with some alarm. She tells us about dragon nobility, and the difference between metallic and chromatic dragons. She tells us also that we had gathered a large amount of power together in one place, and that those who sense magic could see us coming from a half mile away.

This was not new information for us, as Jaeger had warned us before about his swords inability to mask it’s signature. Glenda went on to say, with a note of ire, that those who had worked hard to control their destinies saw us as a wild card, and as a dangerous one at that. She added in a warning that we should be careful in our travels here, as we trod in a place where we could come face to face with our own destiny.

Then, with a deep breath as though she were making a decision, she stated that if we continued down this road past “Hoppin John’s” farm, that we would end up at Waglebug University where we would find information that would be useful. She reinforced the warning that the right fork should be avoided as it leads straight to Emer. She wished us well, and drawing a circle at her feet, stepped into the giant bubble that formed around her. She said she needed to depart to look more into the appearance of the blue dragon, as it concerned her greatly, and with that she floated away. The table disappeared with her, and the party begins to break camp and prepare to travel on.

KelLyn asks Jaeger something, and they begin discussing in earnest for a few moments. She tells the rest of the party that she is (finally) looking into a way to mask our appearance to other magic users. She uses her Nature of things spell on her necklace to see if that would lend her any clues on how to cast a spell on the entire party, but does not come up with any useful information. She promises to continue to look into it though, and we begin our journey along the road once again.

Another week passed before we saw anything other than flowers and corn fields. We came to a break in the fields where we saw a large, well kept farm, with workers out in the fields. We noticed that one of the workers was running towards the party carrying a pack on his shoulders.

The large man hailed the party loudly, and asked directly if he could join us to help kill the dragon. We looked wryly at the farm hand, and asked him pointedly who he was, and if he knew what he is getting himself into. He told us his name was Scott, and that his boss told him to go get hired on with a caravan. He told us that he was bored with farm life and looking for some adventure, then asked for a going rate of three silver a week. We chuckled a bit at this, knowing that he would soon have more than he likely would ever know what to do with, and with a glance at one another, agreed to let him join us.

We traveled on for another few hours and then made camp for the night. That evening, Jaeger and Scott got into a wrestling match to see if they could prove who was stronger. I watched the male display for a moment, before shaking my head and returning to my studies, meditations, and tea.

The next morning, I requested that we wait a while, as the season had turned and I wanted to do the rituals for springtime properly. I took the time and moved a little away from the party. I could tell that the ring of mushrooms surrounding this place still dampened my connection with my ancestors, and I felt the distance keenly. I was able to successfully complete the spells and rituals though, and their culmination made me feel some better.

I returned to the camp in time to see a live goat fall from the sky with a bewildered bleat. Scott caught the goat easily and tossed it towards Osman, who was not so skilled at catching farm animals and instead caught the confused animal with his face. Both he and the goat toppled over with a surprised cry, but thankfully neither was overly harmed. Scott walked over to calm the goat down, and he asked quite confused where the goat came from. Osman sat up and explained that, where he comes from, once a year goats fall from the sky if you said the right words.

The rest of the party laughed at this, but I gave them all a disapproving look at the deception, making a mental note that I should not take any of them at their word when they spoke in Common.

Scott and Jaeger got into another wrestling match, and while they grappled with one another, I made my way over to where Lan and KelLyn were sitting. We began to discuss how to potentially break the fairy ring here, and the ramifications that such an action might cause. I mentioned that I got the strong feeling that, while Glenda may have been one of those who had worked hard to control her own destiny, that she had aided us in her own way, and may not be so opposed to the return of natural order here.

The next morning, we all woke up to the goat making a horrible racket right near Osman’s ear. Scott looked at the goat with the critical eye of an experienced farm hand and promptly stated that the goat wasn’t right in the head, but seemed physically healthy. Osman tried to talk to it, but this only led to more loud bleats from the goat, and confusion on Osman’s behalf as he tried to figure out what his godsend was trying to tell him.

The goat kept acting strangely, bleating loudly, stumbling around, and running into everything. We eventually decided to break camp and move on with the noisy animal in tow. Even the horses were eyeing the goat warily, and as we travelled, Scott eventually became fed up with the noise and threatened to knock the goat out if Osman couldn’t quiet it. This, naturally, caused an argument to break out, and I took note of the aggression between Osman and Scott. KelLyn stated that the goat seemed to be magical, and as they argued, I watched the goat. After another moment of everyone yelling at each other, I calmly stepped in the middle of the argument and pointed to the goat, who was happily, noisily, and woozily munching on the crimson flowers that were growing near the roadside.

The argument ceased then, and Osman quickly pulled the disgruntled goat away from his colorful feast. Osman put a muzzle on the goat to prevent it from eating any more of the addicting drug flowers, and travel afterward proceded quietly. It took an entire day for the goat to come down off of whatever it was in the flowers that made it so delirious, and it became obvious that if we had gone through the forest of flowers instead of taking the long way around, we would have been lost ourselves.

Eventually we came to the fork in the road that Glenda had told us about, and we decided to keep to the straight path, feeling like we were not yet prepared to enter Emer itself. We followed the path until we came to an enormous and ornate wrought iron fence that surrounded a large and immaculately kept campus with several stately buildings scattered among the green grasses and shrubs. The presence of iron here was curious, and the sheer amount of it was impressive. It was obviously meant to repel and keep out fairies of all kinds, and Lan was distinctly uncomfortable.

We discussed it with her, and we all agreed that she should stay outside of the fence with the cart and the bulk of our belongings, as we did not want the presence of the iron to injure her. Scott agreed to stay with the cart, and Jaeger also offered to remain behind. Tobias, Osman, KelLyn, and I walked up to the decorative gate, and we are guided to the administration building.

Once inside, a round little man walked up and welcomed us all to the university. He explained that the library was open to all who wished to study, and that they offered a variety of courses for those who wished to learn. He recognized KelLyn immediately, and warned her sternly not to cast any magic anywhere on campus. He pulled out a lengthy liability waiver that he requested that she sign as agreement, and she grumpily agreed.

Tobias inquired about what classes were offered, and after hearing the descriptions, expressed interest in some. He was informed that those he was most interested in were already in session, and it was too late to register for them. He chose a biology and a monster knowledge class, and he was ushered off to where the classroom areas were located.

I expressed my simple desire to visit the library, and I was shown the way to the great gold doors. Osman follows me to the library, and once through the doors I approached the librarian to ask for guidance in my search for knowledge.

The librarian looks at me kindly, and asked what I was searching for, and I requested – to start with – a history of this area, and any information they could find for me about the sylvan tree. He disappeared among the books and scrolls, and after a while came back to me with a cart full to overflowing with texts.

I am able to learn much of what happened to create this place as it is now, and only a little about the tree. From what I learned, the elves that were here had arrived early after the crater was formed, and planted the sylvan tree over the wellspring at it’s heart. The elves were loathe to share the sight of the tree with anyone else though, and were loathe to leave the tree unguarded. They built a wall around the city to protect the tree, and over time become complacent, and were central in provoking conflicts between the four quadrants.

The city was impossible to take, with the wall that the elves had built, importing rocks from Al-Auld mines, which were now known as the “Border of Death.” The dragon came down from the caves to the north, and seeing the city, dug up the entire road to prevent easy access to the city, and carried the hoard of gold to the center of the city which he made his dwelling.

The tree in the center was crushed by the fae dragon and the dragon used the sap to encase a man who had attacked him so that he wouldn’t rise up against him again. I recalled the ghost castle where the knight encased in sap had rested, and did not tell the librarian about what we had done.

the librarian goes on to tell me that the dragon continued to monitor the treasure he had gathered at the center of the city, and that as a fae, the dragon was susceptible to iron. Magic was generally unreliable here, and each quadrant was essentially now an empire of their own. The entire crater was under an extreme amount of magical tension.

Among the texts and writings was also a detailed map of the entire area, and I asked the librarian to have the map transcribed. They agreed to do so, and when I offer to pay for it with some old platinum coins from my own purse, they sternly tell me that platinum is cursed and that they will not accept it. I relay this information to the party, recalling the warning that Shalev had given them when they picked up the platinum bars from the ghost castle. They made a sound of derision when I told them my own concerns, mirroring the thoughts of both Shalev and the librarian, and I tried to get them again to avoid using the platinum. An argument about finances broke out, and I asked simply if they wanted the map, or not. They grudgingly said that they did, and so I used some of the party funds to purchase the map, staying well clear of even touching the platinum bars that had been picked up.

I returned then to the library with the gold required, and returned as well to my studies of the area.

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The Lost City - A Call Home
Thoughts from the point of view of Cora'sol "The Immortal"

cross posted from Cora’s Travel Journal

“Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.” – Cora

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We broke camp the following morning and set out along the roads, keeping the looming cliffs off to the left. The road traveled straight through the hay fields here, and the golden grass swayed on either side of us. We noticed that there were straw thatched huts spaced periodically along the fields, but the farmers that worked there stayed well clear of the roads. The road here was obviously designed for travel, and while there were no inns or buildings along it, there were several cleared spaces and camp sites available for use.

Use them, we did. These sites made it much easier to set up and take down our camp, and our travel was quick and uneventful. I used the down time while we camped to study the book that Tobias had given me, as I had seen mention of a number of spells that might be able to aid with cam preparation and daily activities. I was able to find the descriptions of the spells, but determined that I would have to study them much more before I would be comfortable enough to cast any of them. I missed my connection to my ancestor’s wisdom keenly in this place, though I continually reached out to where their voices should be.

After about a week and a half of travel, we finally saw the edges of the hay fields. The road branched off here, with one path leading straight through the glass forest and another path leading off to the side, around the glimmering trees. The pathway that lead through the forest was littered with shards from fallen leaves and branches, and looked to be quite treacherous for the animals, though we would likely be able to pick our way through unharmed. Lan spoke up then and said that she remembered the brownies we encountered earlier warning us to stay away from the glass forest altogether.

I reached out to touch one of the trees, and found to my interest that they were very certainly alive. I also got a sense of unhappiness from them, but though I tried to use my abilities to perceive the cause of the distress, the only thing I was able to understand from them was that they did not belong in this state. Jaeger reached out to break off a leaf to study, but it shattered with a loud crack the moment he touched it. He then turned into a raven and flew overhead to scout out the pathways. When he returned, he said that it would take only about a week to go through the forest, it would take a month or more to go around it.

In an uncharacteristic display of reluctance, the party as a whole agreed that traveling around the forest would be safer, trusting in Lan’s memory of the brownie’s warning.
Before we turned around I made one last attempt to try to discover why the glass forest was so aggrieved. I had been working with Lan studiously to learn the Fae language, as everything here seemed to speak it. I had refrained from using my spell that let the roads talk to me, up to this point, because the chatter in the unknown language was nearly maddening. I finally felt like I might be able to at least begin to understand what it said, though, and so I cast it again. The chatter was immediate, and I found that I was able to pick up enough to understand the basics of what the roads were saying, but sadly, it told me nothing about the forest or why the trees were so despondent.

I made a note of where the forest was, and wondered yet again if breaking the giant mushroom circle would be beneficial to this area that had been apart from the natural order for so long that the trees had forgotten how to be trees. The more that I consider this path, the more I feel that it may be our only option here. It bears more consideration though, as I have no idea how to even begin such a task.

We took the southern path, leading around the glass forest, and continued to travel for about two days. I noticed that we could no longer see any of the farmers anywhere, but being so close to the forest thought little of it. That evening as we camped, I saw Jaeger and KelLyn huddled together over the fire, working on some form of combined spell. Nothing seemed to happen though, and as there were no explosions or otherwise adverse effects from their plotting, I left them to it. I did notice that Jaeger had gathered some of the glass shards into a pile, and that he used magic to turn them into projectiles which he flung with surprising efficiency at a nearby haybale. He seemed pleased with the results of this spell, and nodded to himself before muttering something unintelligible to KelLyn.

A few more weeks of travel took us on a slightly uphill turn. I noticed that wild onions, chives garlic, and other herbs grew prolifically along the path, and I took the opportunity to gather what I could. I contemplated adding a few of each to my little travelling herb garden, and decided that having such additions would be simple enough. I added a small section to my box, and took several of each of the wild herbs that I found to cultivate for my own.

Eventually we came into sight of the mountain, and saw a large field of bright crimson flowers. There was a ramshackle hut along side the field, and there were five old men dressed in ragged clothing sitting on the porch of the dilapidated building. They each had a pipe in their mouth, and each puff of their breath released an opaque white cloud. They watched us, silently, and made no motion to greet us, speak to us, or do anything except sit and watch. We passed them without a word, and I noticed an odd, cloying smell coming from the flowers in the field. I made a cautious note to stay far away from whatever these flowers were, and we continued along the path toward the mountian. Jaeger said something to Shalev, and Shalev looked at his compass to confirm that we were still heading east.

The paths here were loose and gravelly, but well traveled. We noticed that the glass forest had finally begun to taper off and become more odd looking. The road continued down and we found ourselves journeying beside the forest. The trees were no longer made of glass, but now were brilliantly colored in purple, blue, green, and every other color imaginable. The path lead us through the center of this forest, and we kept to it warily. The trees here also gave off a palpable sense of troubled existence, and periodically Amit would jump up onto the cart and let out a low growl. Every time he did this, we saw well camouflaged green leopards, poised to leap down on the cart, run away. I noticed that they were much smaller cats, and then realized that the pathways babble of “big cat, small cat, small cat” made much more sense.

After another two weeks of travel, we came to a clearing where we saw a herd of centaurs relaxing. I wanted to go and greet them, thinking of the centaur that I held trade with in the desert, but the rest of the party wanted nothing to do with them. The centaurs paid us no mind at all, and I sighed in disappointment at the lost opportunity as we traveled out of the clearing and back into the forest.

Eventually we did clear the forest, and exited out onto a rich pastureland with well tended farms and gardens. We saw the giant mushrooms of the outer ring of this place off to the left. The farmers paid attention to our party, but remained silent as we passed them by. The children though were excited to see us, running up to the fences and shouting to the party to ask if we had seen the centaurs, if we had bought anything from the centaurs, and a host of other questions. I grumbled again to myself about the missed chance to trade with the centaurs as the party responded that we had not stopped to talk or trade with them. The children, disappointed that we had no goodies to share with them, went back to their families, and we continued to travel and camp along the road.

After another day or so of travel, we encountered a farmer on the road who was leading a heavily laden cart pulled by an odd animal that looked like a mix between a camel and an ox. The humpbacked beast was enormous, but placid, and seemed to shoulder the weight of the yoke without a second thought. Shalev greeted the farmer and inquired about what he might have to sell or trade. The farmer said that he was looking for a plow, and when Shalev said that we did not have one, the farmer shrugged and continued to guide the plodding beast along the path.

We saw a large city with a castle built into the cliffs ahead. We saw the homes get closer together, and we saw shops, market places, and a large crater in the center with a house in the middle of the depression. As we got closer to the city, Jaeger did some magic that allowed him to appear human, so as not to cause alarm. I went to one of the closest shops and knelt down to speak to the fae inside. I was able to ask in broken fae if there was a place that we could sleep and trade. He responded in common, seeing my discomfort with the language, and said that the market would be open for trade in three days’ time, and that we were welcome to camp to the west or to the south of town as there were no inns here that could accommodate those of our size comfortably. I thanked the shop keeper for the information, and noticed that he sold barrels. I also noticed that the metal that he used was different, and when I asked politely why he didn’t use iron, he rattled off something about a stronger metal. I asked him to wait a moment, and then brought Tobias in to see the barrels and talk to the shop owner as a fellow cooper. They discussed technique and the finer points of barrel making for a few moments, with the shop keeper telling Tobias that the metal bands he used were made of a gnomish bronze instead of iron. Tobias happily purchased one of the barrels from him, and the shop keeper told us that the name of the city was Wenke. I asked him about the university and he told me that the college was closer to Emer, in the center of the bowl.

I thanked him again, and we took our things to the south of town to make camp while we waited for the marketplace to open. Once we made camp, Shalev set about making an inventory of our trade goods and deciding how best to set up and display the wares we wished to trade. The following morning, we heard an explosion. We immediately looked over at KelLyn and Jaeger, and KelLyn responded “it wasn’t me!” We looked over to the town and saw that there was smoke coming off of a roof on the northern side. Ashley and Osman went to go check out the disturbance, and I mentioned wryly that someone should probably go with them, just in case.

None of the rest of the party made any movement to do so, so I caught up to them to go check out the building. We saw a man standing outside coughing, and three guards nearby asking if he were ok. The guards went into the house and brought out a tray of smoldering ashes. I asked in in halting fae if he was alright, and he rattled off something I couldn’t understand. I asked him to wait, and then went back to camp to go and get Lan to help translate. She conversed with the man for several moments, and I caught the words for “potion” and “healing.” They continued to speak, and I asked about his gardens. The man said that he outsourced for his ingredients, and said that he would hopefully have several potions ready for market, and the preparation of these was what had caused the explosions.

We returned to camp in time to see a large cart full of odd purple roots being poured out into vats and mashed down into a gooey paste. We watched, curiously as the paste was drained onto cloth sheets and then rolled into cone shapes. We asked what this was, and were told that it was a type of sugar that would be available for sale or trade at the market. As we made our way back over to the southern edge, we passed by a pair of looming gates leading into the mountain. These gates were heavily guarded, and when we inquired, we were told that these were the Eastern Gates to the outside world, and that they were currently closed to outsiders unless special permission was granted to pass through.

On our second day of camping, a rider from the south came into the center of town. Shortly after we saw him ride through, Jaeger returned to camp to tell Shalev that the rider had run up to the guard saying Shalev’s name multiple times. Shalev was curious about this, but extremely wary, and asked that we all prepare for a fight if necessary.

The following day, we brought our cart into town and found a suitable place to set up for market. Shalev set up the trade area in formal desert fashion, displaying what wares we wished to trade in the best way possible on the brightly colored rug that he had taken from the guardroom in Sacatha’s dungeon, and then seating himself in the center and sipping cooly on some tea while he observed those that came by to look.

A farmer came by carrying an enormous slab of meat over one shoulder. We saw that he passed by several stalls with a shake of his head, much to their obvious disappointment. When he made his way to our area, his eyes lit up and he nodded his head hopefully and asked if we had any dwarven ale. We did have several bottles of an extremely good vintage remaining, and he and Shalev immediately began to barter. The man said that the meat he carried was a highly sought after cut of the odd humped back cows called water oxen. The “bacon” was cured with salt and would keep for a very long time, and that he would be willing to trade for the dwarven ale.

As they began trade discussions in earnest, the messenger looked over at our trade area and shouted “Found you!” then ran over and said that he bore a message. Shalev asked him to wait until the trade was completed, and the messenger said that it was a message from the oasis. Shalev sighed and asked again for patience while the trade was finalized, saying that his wife had waited this long, ten more minutes would be nothing.

The farmer chuckled at this, but finally agreed after several moments to trade both racks of the bacon for one keg of the dwarven ale. The farmer then brought the large racks of meat over and had them placed on the cart, while the rest of the shop owners groaned in disappointment. Shalev then turned to the messenger and listened as he was told that the negotiations between his mother and wife-to-be had been completed for the past several months and that the wedding was scheduled for only 22 days from then.

He nodded and said that he would begin preparations to depart immediately. KelLyn offered to open a portal for him to transport him straight into the heart of the oasis,and he agreed to the offer. Shalev approached the guards at the eastern gate, and requested permission to go just to the other side of the gates so that he could be transported home. The guards reluctantly agreed, and as they opened the gates with a thundering boom, the rest of the party worked to help Shalev prepare to return home.

We took two of the horses and loaded them up with the best selection of the trade goods he had worked so hard to gather, evidence of the routes he had established in his family’s name: honey, tea, porcelain, alcohol, spices, oils, and a chest full of coins and gems. I made sure that he had the gifts of jewelry and porcelain that he had commissioned specifically for his bride, and I also gave him the scroll that I carried that would grant him protection from the undead. KelLyn gifted him with a potion that would allow him to control low level undead as well, and once the gates were open, KelLyn, Jaeger, Osman, and myself accompanied Shalev through the gates to see him safely home.

As soon as I crossed the threshold of the gate, I felt my connection to my ancestors restored to me with an almost audible click. I sighed in relief, and worked quickly to cast what blessings I was able to on Shalev. That done, I gifted him with one of the bottles of extremely good wine as a personal gift, and a promise that I would come to the Oasis as soon as I could.

Jaeger worked with KelLyn in the rhythm we had seen them establish to gather power for the spell to open the portal. As the power ramped up to a nearly tangible level, KelLyn looked over at Jaeger in surprise as she said “but I have a wand for this spell..”

Realizing that she couldn’t simply release such a large amount of power in a closed space, she began to concentrate and focus the power down into a point. She used the spell that the demon prince had taught her to solidify the power into a solid, shining blue stone about half an inch across. The powerful node of water magic shimmered softly, like sunlight through water, and she looked at it for a moment before turning and handing it to Shaelv. She said that it was both a wedding gift and a parting gift for him, specifying that it was not for his wife at all. Then without another word, she turned and opened the portal directly into the heart of the oasis.

He looked surprised at this generosity from her, but accepted the stone with thanks. then mounting his horse and taking the reins of the one holding the trade goods, he looked at me. He thanked me for all that I had taught him, and said that he would see me again some day. I nodded, and watched as he rode through the portal to greet his mother and new wife. As he and Amit strode through, I saw that there were now walls surrounding the oasis, and that there was a large army standing guard along the walls. I heard the messenger snort out loud and then turn to quickly walk in the opposite direction saying that he was in no rush to return because he knew about the war and what waited.

KelLyn heard him say this and stepped in front of him with a short curse. She picked him up by the scruff of the neck and said “oh hell, no you didn’t tell us about that.” then pushed him straight through the portal to land a little behind where Shalev had walked through. Then the portal closed with a snap and Shalev was gone.

The two gnomes who had been standing on this side of the gates stared at us with wide eyes. She asked if we might be granted passage at a later date, and they quickly told her that if we returned in three months’ time that they would have a tunnel dug out specifically for us to use. The guards and the gnomes granted us permission to stay outside the gate for a time so that we could communicate with our gods, and Osman immediately knelt to pray. KelLyn began muttering to herself, and presumably her goddess as well.

At long last I was able to speak again with my ancestors. They responded quickly, with a question as to where I have been. I told them quickly of the ring, and of all we had faced. They advised and consoled me, telling me that I was on the right track. They confirmed that I could replant a sylvan tree where an existing tree once stood, provided that I had even one single piece of the original tree. This gave me a great amount of hope that I would be able to restore what had been destroyed. I spoke with them more about our current circumstances, and they confirmed my growing suspicion that the circle that kept this place apart needed to be broken. It would cause some chaos to do so, but this place had been removed for far too long, and bringing it back into touch with the world around it would help to restore it over time. Breaking the circle would also free the dragon who circled around the center, and that would be the biggest advantage that we had in dealing with him. I also asked about the spellbook that I had found, and they told me that I would be able to cast the spells when I called on them to do so , if I studied them long enough

I offered to share some wine with them, but the said with some sadness that they were not able to enjoy the gift in a physical form. They appreciated the thought, however, and I thanked them for the advice and comfort that they gave to me. It had been too long since I spoke with them, and their presence was like a soothing balm to my spirit.

Once we had all completed what conversations or prayers we needed to say, we turned and made our way back through the gate, hearing it grind closed behind us. We made our way back to the trade tent and spent the rest of the day completing trades with various vendors; honey for the odd sugar (10 lbs), tea tree and olive oil for corn oil (10 lbs), and a diverse mixture of local fruits and vegetables.

The guy we had encountered earlier showed up towards the end of the day, selling a variety of potions of attraction, ethereal reality, cure all parasites, potions of speed, levitation, and an odd clear potion with blue floaty specks in it. KelLyn approached him and asked about the clear potion. As she spoke to the man, she asked about the potions of speed, and he told her that they were made out of brownies. When she expressed concern about the brownies, the man replied that “they were dying anyway.” which instantly made me dislike him immensely. KelLyn also found his manner distasteful, and quickly finished her business with him, purchasing the clear potion and one potion of attraction.

Before he left, he confirmed that the college was straight towards Emer and to the south. He also warned us about the smoke shops, saying that we should avoid them at all costs, saying that the smoke and fumes from such places could befuddle even the strongest minds. We thanked him for the information and returned to the tent to begin packing up our belongings ot return to camp.

As we packed up our things, Ashley got up and wandered over to the potion seller. They conversed for a few moments, and the potion seller suddenly took an extreme interest in Ashley and took him by the arm to walk with him back toward the shop. It was only after we had finished packing up that we realized that Ashley was missing.

KelLyn and Jaeger suddenly looked up and started running toward where Ashley was last seen, as they had felt a surge of magical energy. The animals were all spooked, and the rest of the party had their hands full trying to soothe and rein in the horses. I told Tobias and Osman to go try to find the rest of the party while Lan and I prepared to depart.

A few moments later, there was a very large explosion on the northern end of town. We looked up in alarm to see that KelLyn and Jaeger were surrounded by some kind of warding bubble, and that nothing remained of the potion makers shop except smoldering rubble. The yellow sphere that encased them slowly dissipated, and Jaeger turned into a raven to pull a levitating KelLyn over and down to the ground. KelLyn came storming back to camp, with Jaeger still in raven form flying after her, swearing in malevolent anger. She was quite upset, and once we were able to calm her down, she told us that the potion maker had kidnapped Ashley and killed him for spell components. She ranted on about how she had then killed the potion maker because it served him right, and he had a piece of her staff that got flung away in the explosion, and was probably in the center city of Emer, and that we were never going to get out of this godsforsaken place. Then she stomped over to the cart and opened up a barrel of her beer to get a drink.

Shortly after KelLyn had finished her tirade, the city guards approached and asked for recompense of the destroyed properties. She negligently handed them some platinum from her purse and began her tirade again about unethical potion makers. The guards stammered their thanks at the kingly sum of money they had been handed, and said that the southern sorceress would almost certainly be arriving the next day to check out the cause of the explosion.

Once the guards had left, KelLyn said that it would likely be in our best interests to move out the next day anyway, as we had already packed up all of our things. Early the next morning, before daybreak, Jaeger once again turned into a raven and flew up high in order to scout the roads ahead for us. and we cleaned our camp and set out on the roads toward Emer and the college.

.oOo..oOo..oOo..oOo.

Shalev is gone. I knew that one day this would happen, that our paths would diverge and that he would eventually have to travel on his own. I am proud of my student, and think that he is well equipped to handle whatever may come his way. Amit travels with him, and this gives me more solace than any protection spell I could have cast for him, though I have it on extremely good authority that he is protected by more than one god.

He has departed to return to the oasis to fulfill his oath to be married. After that? His path is his own to choose. He was recently told of specific things required to become a true paladin of Ma’at, and was also told where to find those who will aid his quest. It is my hope that the roads are gentle on his feet, and that our paths will eventually cross again. If I do not see him again in his lifetime, I will hold to the promise I made to him long ago to revisit the oasis and see his children.

Travel well my friend. May you find the peace you seek, and trust that we will eventually meet again.

I was finally able to speak to my ancestors again, and the conversation was more soothing to me than anything else ever could be. Their advice and consolation helped me solidify my resolve, and gave me hope that I will be able to restore not only the tree here, but the tree in that cursed elven city as well. They warned me that I should not bind myself to the tree, as that would prove fatal, even for one such as me. I do not yet know what it will take to accomplish this task, but I have faith that they will grant me the power I need to do so.

Breaking the fairy circle here is another matter entirely. I need to talk more with Lan and KelLyn about how to accomplish such a thing. Maybe with their advice we can come up with a plan. It is also possible that the dragon, knowing our intent to free it, might offer to aid us, though I think if he could have broken the circle himself he would have long ago.

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The Lost City - A Moment of Rest
Thoughts from the point of view of Cora'sol "The Immortal"

cross posted from Cora’s Travel Journal

“People of accomplishment rarely sit back and let things happen to them, rather they go out and happen to things.” – Cora

.oOo..oOo..oOo..oOo.

While we were camped at the remains of Lacosta’s tower, we discussed exploring the ruins to see if anything of interest had been left behind. We quickly saw, however, that nothing remained, and after a few moments we gave up the search entirely.

Lan took the opportunity to swim in the lake, spending long moments frolicking in the water and playing with the merfolk that lived under the waves. She checked for items that might have been thrown into the lake, but also found nothing of note.

During the meal, Shalev handed Tobias, Jaeger, Lan, and Osman each a potion that would increase their reflexes. They took the potions, and I eyed Shalev with a small amount of concern as he did this, taking some note of his action and the way he carried himself.

The watches that evening passed uneventfully, and the next morning we set out to continue around the lake. There were sheer cliffs off to the left, and we noticed that there were caves in the cliffsides where we would occasionally see flying monkeys departing and returning from them. We recalled the earlier warning we were given about avoiding these creatures, and we continued to travel without encountering them.

A day or so later, I requested that we stop so that I could properly celebrate the turn of the seasons. KelLyn and Lan also took the opportunity to perform their own celebrations, though I noticed that KelLyn performed the rites for spring instead of winter. I shook my head at this, and wondered again at the strange relationship that she had with her negligent goddess.

Winter was the time for honoring ancestors in my culture, and I spent several long hours in silent communion, crafting a prayer to those who had gone on before me in hopes that I could gain their knowledge and advice on what we faced. I cut up one of the apples, and opened up one of the vintage bottles of my elven wine to celebrate the seasons with them. After what felt like mere moments, I looked over to see with surprise that hours had passed and that I had been so lost to the ritual that I had lost touch with my surroundings entirely.

This was extremely rare for me, and it alarmed me somewhat to realize that I had been so unaware. I trusted in Shalev, Amit, and Tobias to guard me should the need arise though, and returned to my thoughts on my ancestors. While I have consistently been unable to reach out to them while trapped in this beringed bowl, I did get the sense that they had heard me. I got the sense of approval of my rituals, and made a note to do them again and more often. I also was given a brief glimpse of the knowledge that what I needed was indeed here, somewhere, but also the feeling that they had wished that I had asked for something else instead. To this I took note, but thought quietly that if they wanted me to ask for specific things, they should be more specific in their guidance.

After the seasonal rituals had been completed, we traveled on, and after another four days of travel we arrived at Yup castle. As we walked up to the gates, we took note of the stream that flowed down out of the cliffs and the city itself that was built into them. The moat surrounding the outer gates was full of writhing water snakes. Shalev shouted a greeting up to the castle, and we saw a small face appear over the wall. Lan greeted the face then and relayed the message that we had been asked to deliver them that Locasta would no longer be a problem.

A few moments of shouted conversation passed between them, and then once they were done speaking, Shalev asked if there were a market or a place to trade goods inside. The people at the gates asked that we state our names and professions, and one by one the party members introduced themselves appropriately. I said nothing, but merely watched. One of the guards at the gate recognized KelLyn’s name and then said that as “companions of the arch-mage” we would be welcome to the city.

We made our way through the gates and into the city. The outer city boasted a well kept inn and a bustling marketplace full of vendors of all varieties including a jeweler, armorer, blacksmith, weaponry, stables, and a temple to multiple gods of the area. The people here were mostly dwarfish or fae, and as such all of the buildings here had been built to their size, making the inn too small for most of our party to stay in comfortably. Shalev stooped down and entered the inn to arrange for meals while we stayed here, and asked if there were a place where we could camp comfortably. They agreed to bring our meals out to the center of the courtyard where tables were set up around a fountain. They served Amit a quarter carcass of timberwolf, which Amit eyed curiously before eating with relish. They brought out a plate of fruits and cheeses for me, and I thanked Shalev for the thought to my dietary preferences when in cities.

The meal was sumptuous and we all enjoyed the foods brought out to us. Shalev took the opportunity to listen to the trades happening around us to gauge prices and learn what he can of the way they bartered for goods and services here. I made my way over to the blacksmith to see if he had the knowledge to resharpen my sword, but he did not, so I returned to the inn to see if I would be allowed to visit their gardens. I was emphatically and somewhat coldly turned away, however, and I got the distinct feeling that they did not like elves here. Shrugging it off, I returned to the fountain to sit and observe for a while.

Shalev made his way over to the blacksmith as well, and then after visiting the weaponry, went to get Tobias urgently. Tobias had been acting furtively, which piqued my curiosity some, but he followed Shalev over to the weapons shop where Shalev showed him a deep metal mace that he had found. Tobias bought the mace without a second glance at Shalev, then dismissed him brusquely and returned to whatever he was trying to hide doing. I noticed the sad look in Shalev’s eyes then, and the small nod he gave, as if reaching a decision that had taken a while to solidify. A suspicion began to grow in my own mind then, but I left my student to his thoughts and did not pry. Shalev then went over to the armorer and commissioned a suit of chain armor to be made for him.

Shalev was pointed over to the area between the temples and the stables where there was ample space for us to set up a comfortable campsite. We went over to do so, and afterwards Shalev moved over to the rear wall to the inner city to practice his sword work.

As I sat in camp, studying my book on druidry and reveling in the beauty of the written elven language, I saw Tobias approach me nervously. Such reluctance was not in character for him, and so I set my book down to watch him intently. He presented me with two gifts then; a gorgeous ring of woven platinum and layan threads bearing a leaf made out of the green stone that looked like the same material of the leaf pendant Shalev had purchased in Eyore. The ring seemed familiar to me, but the memory nagged at my mind and I could not recall where I had seen it before. Any inscriptions had long since been sanded away, and I studied the craftsmanship, but could find nothing that sparked the memory further. The second gift was a tattered book that was written in high elven. The book was damaged, and Tobias told me that unfortunately the jeweler had been tearing out pages to use as scrap. About two thirds of the book remained intact, though, and as I glanced through it, my interest peaked as I realized that it was a book of spells in ritual to a goddess named Ehei. These spells were all druidic in nature, and I spent several moments glancing through the pages. The book detailed the descriptions of spells that I would find incredibly useful if I could find a way to craft them in my own ancestor’s names. I asked Tobias if he had heard of the ancestor Ehei mentioned in the book, but he did not know the name. Like the ring, I had the nagging sensation that I should know who this was. It bothers me that I have come across yet another thing that I seem to have no memory of.

After a few more moments, I turned my gaze to Tobias and pointedly asked him why he chose to give me these gifts. I know that courtship in elven cultures can last for centuries, but I also know that Tobias has spent a very long time among the humans, and that as such might wish to press the courtship further. He confirmed my suspicions after a moment when he blushed as dark as his desert skin would allow and declared plainly his love for me. I smiled in return, saying nothing, but letting my eyes speak for me as I gave him a small kiss in a public display of the answer.

For five days we stayed there, camping in the city of dwarfs and fae, having our meals brought out to the fountain. Shalev continued to practice, and I noticed a determination in his strides that made me again take note of his preparations. As he practiced his sword work on the fifth day, the gate to the inner city opened up and a dwarf wearing armor made of deep metal emerged riding on a horse. He spoke with Shalev quietly for a moment in dwarfish, and then invited him and Amit into the inner city.

A few hours later, Shalev returned and told us all of what the dwarf had told him. He told us that the eastern gate should still be open for travel outside of the bowl. He also said, with more than a little regret, that I – as a druid – was no longer welcome in the city. I nodded, and agreed to camp outside of the outer walls. Shalev said quickly that he would camp with me there, and the rest of the party remained inside to complete whatever trades and commissions they needed to complete. Tobias also remained inside the city, saying that he had one last thing he needed to do.

Shalev, Amit, and I made a simple camp outside of the city where we stayed as we waited for the party to complete their business dealings inside the city. I was allowed inside the city to take my meals at the fountain in the courtyard, and it was here that Tobias approached me nervously again with another gift. This time he presented me with another ring, this one delicately shaped silver band with fire opals stylized as flames at the base of a still living tree made of an iridescent green material. He said that the theme of the ring was that the tree will always outlast the flames. I found the gift highly appropriate, given all we had been through, and accepted the ring with a gentle smile.

It was determined that we would all depart the following morning, and I returned to the camp outside as Tobias went with the rest of the party to the inside camp to make preparations to depart.

.oOo..oOo..oOo..oOo.

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I may have just looked into the Abyss.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.

When I first met Cora’sol Tyrtlarn, there were difficulties in communication, and once we found ways around them, she began my education. She taught me that females are no lesser than males, though that took a bit more work. She taught me joy, and terror, and fear.

As she explained it, for someone who wants spend his life wandering the desert, I am surprisingly aware of the dangers of doing so, and can usually list a dozen reasons why any given action might be unwise, even as I do it anyway. It’s an unusual balance of wisdom, bravery, and foolhardiness.

She taught me an old mantra she heard once, which she thought might help me, when my acknowledgment of danger makes me overly cautious.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Today, I saw my friend die and suspected my teacher would be next. Looking into that dark night, I elected to rage against it. Only I remained, and the I that did was determined to do what I thought impossible. To me, it was impossible that Amit should die that way, and if one impossible thing had happened today, why not a second, a third, or a dozen.

Cora has seen grief enough to see the cycle of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance over and over. I could not deny what I had seen, and so went straight to anger, bargaining that if this was the way that I was to end, I would go willingly so long as I was able to drag that ancient lizard with me. On some level, I was bargaining with the Universe of what I would do, given another chance; and lo and behold, another chance was granted. The price appears to be another quest, and it is a price I’ll pay it willingly. As the quest may take us in a similar direction to Crawlsargot, given the wide range it may rest in, and Ma’at did say it was a quest, I believe the two are connected. She may very well have been warning me of what was to come, and may be getting me ready for it.

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The Lost City - Then the Universe Blinked
Thoughts from the point of view of Cora'sol "The Immortal"

cross posted from Cora’s Travel Journal

Adversity is a crazy thing. It comes in many forms, and at some point in your life — you will have to find ways to overcome it. Think of the last time the odds were against you. Maybe you were considered the underdog, or were told that your goals in life are unrealistic. Whatever the case may be, the only thing that’s important is how you overcome these problems. Some people thrive on adversity and use it to fuel success. Then, there are those who can’t carry that weight and let it bring them down. In my opinion, One of the best opportunities you can be given in life is to be underestimated.

.oOo..oOo..oOo..oOo.

Shalev considered taking some of the transparent worm scales to turn into protective goggles. The idea was a good one, though KelLyn warned that the magic that had caused the scales to appear clear would likely not last forever. He earmarked the concept though, and I agreed that having something along those lines might be helpful when we eventually made our way back to the desert.

Shalev also made motion to try taking some of the worm meat, but I quickly put a stop to that. Worm meat was highly toxic and not even his ability to purify food would be able to make it palatable. Ceding to my advice, he gave up the notion and we packed up our camp.

As we traveled, he showed me the teeth that he had taken from the worm, and asked if I might be able to help him carve them into daggers. I agreed to do so, and as I worked, I pondered the odd appearance of a purple worm here. Normally, they were desert creatures, and we were far from the deserts of home. The lake shimmered off to the left of the road we traveled, and there were hay fields growing golden to the right. As we passed along the hay fields, however, we noticed with some alarm a yellowish green cloud blowing our way.

Shalev and I looked at one another and immediately dismounted and began to hastily secure belongings. The rest of the party reacted more slowly, but began moving to help as we explained that clouds like that were the only warning you would get before a sandstorm struck. Lightning feathered out from the billowing sickly looking clouds and the winds began to blow hot through the hay. The storm was moving fast, much faster than even Shalev and I had guessed, and we shouted to the party that we could not run, we simply had to secure what we could and ride it out.

Jaeger looked at the storm clouds and the lightning, and on impulse, ran forward quickly and jammed a long metal rod into the ground a good way ahead of us. He turned to run back, and froze. Eyes so wide we could see the whites around them, he shouted something in the language he and Shalev speak together to the sky. Shalev paled and quickly turned, and I followed the action, to see an immense blue dragon hovering above and behind us, it’s giant wings adding to the heated winds of the oncoming storm. At nearly 250 feet in length, it was quite possibly the largest thing I had ever seen, and as it hovered, it turned it’s massive head to gaze in baleful hate at the party. It was the only warning we had.

The horses, oxen, and cart bolted in terror. Ashley, Osman, and KelLyn were carried off with them, and Ashley lost his hold on the cart to fall a short distance away, landing hard on his back. Tobias also turned to flee, overcome by the panic induced by the dragon’s hateful glance. Jaeger wove one of his spells and reached out to touch Shalev on the shoulder, but shuddered violently half way through his casting. I knew I could not reach anyone in the split seconds that we had, but I was able to gather my willpower enough to shake off the effects of the fear just enough to act. I prayed fervently to my deities to grant me a spell of protection against the dragon, not knowing if even they could do such a thing, but trusting in their power to keep me alive.

They answered my terrified invocation, and gave me a spell to grant personal protection to enhance my defenses. The power of the spell allowed me to completely shake off the lingering effects of the fear in time to see the elder dragon arc his head down toward the party and unleash a wave of lightning that slashed and sparked through the entire area. Lightning bolts flashed out, striking us all. Amit and Ashley were lost to the blasts, instantly immolated. Shalev, Jaeger, Lan, and myself were all gravely wounded. Of the cart, and Tobias, nothing could be seen except a smoldering crater.

Shalev looked at where his friend once was, and then turned back to the dragon shaking with nearly incandescent fury. His armor, still smoking from the lightning strike, screamed in seeming echo of that outrage and I recalled with some trepidation then that it housed the soul of a dragon within it. Jaeger touched the hilt of his own sword, and as he drew the weapon, the area surrounding him began to shimmer with energy.

The greater dragon wheeled around and landed thunderously near what was left party, and Shalev touched his brooch, still shaking with a combination of righteous fury and the lingering effects of the terror induced by the dragon’s gaze. Shalev shone for a moment with divine light, and was quickly and completely healed of his injuries.

I was grievously injured, and on the verge of collapsing into unconsciousness. I looked at where Tobias had been, where Amit had been, and let my own sorrow and fury wash over me. I allowed the depth of those feelings to anchor me and I stood on shaky legs and quickly drank one of the greater healing potions that I had remaining from the bandolier that Tobias had crafted for me. The potion shimmered with a silver light and tasted vaguely of earthy nuts and old forests. I ceased caring about my injuries, and felt energy and vitality return to me. As I made my way over to where Lan had fallen, I saw Shalev grab the bronze spear and stab the monolithic dragon in its exposed underbelly.

The spear proved effective, and sliced into the dragon, causing some small injury. The dragon looked down suddenly in surprise at being noticeably hurt, and said “ow!”, locking eyes on Shalev in disbelief that such a small creature could have caused it pain. Shalev snarled at the dragon in response and moved to stab it again as the dragon raised its foot up to stomp Shalev into the ground.

I made it over to Lan and gave her the remaining greater healing potion, which also shimmered with the same silver light. I held her and helped her to drink the liquid until she was recovered enough to stand on her own. I looked over to see that Jaeger had turned himself into a raven and started to fly up towards the dragon’s face towering above us all. Shalev decided that the spear was not going to be enough, and dropped that weapon to draw his holy avenger, and as he unsheathed the weapon I felt a massive wave of dark energy flare out from the dragon causing everything in a circle around Shalev to wither and die.

As the vegetation grew black, it frosted over with hoarfrost and the air around us grew noticeably chilled. I shivered in response and watched as the dragon brought his foot crashing down onto where Shalev had been standing. At the same time, the dragon also began waving its front claws together in the beginnings of a spell. Thinking quickly, I smacked the end of my cedar wood staff onto the ground once, and pointed the tip towards the dragon’s face as a sonic boom of deafening sound lanced out in a cone.

The dragon’s foot came down with a reverberating crash, causing the ground to fracture out around it. Had Shalev still been standing there, he surely would have been crushed; however where he had been, a white dragon now lay, grasping the giant claws of the elder dragon and shrieking in defiant anger. The smaller white dragon opened his mouth again and blew deadly icy daggers into the exposed underbelly of the greater dragon.

The greater dragon shook off the sonic boom with a negligent shrug as its claws completed the spell to create a giant fireball which he cast towards the smaller dragon at its feet. The wave of sound was enough to capture the dragon’s attention though, and it shifted its foot up to try to crush me with the next step. Lan, who was fully healed, fell to the ground with a shout, declaring that she was a killer whale as she began flopping her way over to the dragon’s other foot to begin gnawing on its toe. Jaeger had reached the dragon’s face, and promptly continued his flight, straight up the greater dragon’s nostril. I looked up at the massive clawed foot and watched as it began its descent. I gauged my movements and moved just a single step to the side, allowing the clawed toes to fall to either side of me without harming me. I drew my sword then and attacked the webbing between the giant toes, praying again to my deities for protection. My blade screamed, echoing again the sorrow and fury of lost friends and hopeless circumstances. Flames sparked off of the blade’s edge and I could tell that the razor line had been dulled somewhat. As I completed my strike, I heard an echoing shuddering boom climb its way up the greater dragon from the inside, as if something had collapsed within it.

The smaller white dragon had clawed its way out from underfoot and had taken to the air to attack the larger dragon’s head with furious claws and bites. Lan continued to gnaw at one of the greater dragon’s toes, and the greater dragon stomped down on her in annoyance, but though the ground caved in and again fractured out, Lan remained unharmed and unfazed as she continued to bite and chew. The greater dragon looked down at her in surprised annoyance and drew breath in to attack us all with lightning again.

Knowing that there was nowhere to run to and no way to escape the coming blast, I braced myself and prayed. As I closed my eyes, the last thing I glimpsed was the sickly colored yellow green cloud enveloping us all.

The universe blinked.
There was an explosion of light and sound as the world around us spiraled into a vortex of nothingness. The greater dragon was drawn, shrieking, down into the void; screaming and shrinking until there was only light. The ground we stood on smoked, the remains of the devastation the great dragon wrought the only evidence that it had ever existed. I fell to my knees, exhausted and unable to comprehend what had happened. I looked up to see a large bronze skinned man with a double set of wings standing in the center of the bubble of strange reality. He looked at Lan, blinked once, and then said in a voice that rumbled like waterfalls “I am sorry, I appear to be late. You are the scholar, yes?” then proceeded to speak in an resonant language that brought to mind images of deep black oceans and frozen voids.

Lan appeared to understand what the being was saying though, as she responded in the same language. They spoke thus for several moments, and the being.. the man.. looked around. He raised his hand and Amit reformed out of the ashes where he had lain, looking surprised and very cranky. The man raised his hand again and the cart appeared, with Osman in the back and KelLyn trying to repair an apparently broken wheel. The man shook his head and wiggled his fingers, and the cart was once again whole along with everything that was inside it. Ashley too had been brought back, and he sat there on the ground blinking slowly. Tobias appeared on the ground in front of the cart, battered and bruised and cut in a hundred places as if he had run full tilt into the forest of glass. I started to go to him, but the man moved his hand again, and Tobias sat up fully healed.

A stone portal opened up and Shalev walked through, once again human and whole. He looked once at the man, and then saw that Amit was there, and ran to check on his friend with palpable joy and relief. Then a black circle opened up where the dragon had been and Jaeger was spit up out of the ground. Lan asked the man his name, and he replied that he was Cerberus Celestius and that he was an astral sage. He looked at her, and then at all of us, and said quite solemnly that he wished us luck. He said that the powers that be had underestimated us greatly. He cautioned that we had some protection here while we were in the fairy circle, and we should use that accordingly to plan for what was coming. Then he bowed once to Lan before he vanished and we found ourselves once again sitting beside the lake as if nothing at all had just happened.

We all looked at one another, unsure of what had just happened, unsure of whether or not we were really here, and just glad to be alive for the moment. Amit still grumbled, but allowed Shalev to continue hugging him. Tobias seemed startled when I hugged him tightly to me, and then I turned to Lan to ask what she and the strange bronze man had been talking about. She translated the conversation as best as she could, as apparently it had been held in the language of whales, and not everything would translate properly.

The man had told her that there was a talisman that we needed to find. One of two artifacts from the desert culture, called the Talisman of Al Akbar. The talisman was said to be paired with a chalice of hammered gold and together they were supposed to be capable of miracles. Both were once said to have been in the ancient city of Kaibar before the desert was cursed to be infertile. Both artifacts were lost to time, and only rumors remained of where they might currently reside.

After gathering our things, and checking once again to ensure that we were all healed, whole, and ready to travel, we started to make our way back to the road again. We stopped after a few steps, however, when we saw that all vegetation within a 30 foot radius of Shalev continued to wither and die. I bade him move away from the cart and I checked him over to see what spell had affected him. I couldn’t find anything, and I asked KelLyn to check as well, since it could be a magical effect. She snarked, but agreed to my request and we discovered that he had been affected by a very powerful destroy plant spell that would last about a week. It was strong enough that neither KelLyn nor I could remove it, and so we decided to stay where we were until it wore off.

I used the time to try to resharpen my sword, but only succeeded in dulling the honing stones. I asked Shalev to see if Jaeger could sharpen it, but he also could not. I sheathed it again and made a note to visit Ishmael as soon as we could to get it repaired.

We used the week to rest, recover ourselves, and to discuss what the man had told us through Lan. It appeared as though the chalice he mentioned was the same chalice that Shalev had heard about in the elven city that could possibly be used to help KelLyn restore her friend Gran Tier. Kaibar was only a small village now, but it was rumored to be near the same regional area where Shalev had lost the sword Crawlsargot. Both of the artifacts were needed to deal with the overarching threat of Lloth and the evil armies, and the elven city where they burned the tree was one of the ways to gain entrance to the underworld. Puzzle pieces started to fall into place with what the bronze man had said about everything being tied together.

After the week had ended, and vegetation started to regrow around Shalev, we packed up and started out on the road again. Lan discovered at that time that a book had appeared in her possessions that talked about extra dimensional rifts. She tried to read it, but ended up getting frustrated. She handed it to me, but I couldn’t make any sense of it at all. KelLyn also was unable to read it, but protested vehemently when Lan took it back, saying that all magic items belonged to her by default. Lan, in an almost uncharacteristic display of command, firmly reminded her that she was not the only magic user in the party and that such thoughts were selfish and unwarranted. The book had been given to Lan, and with Lan it would remain.

We traveled thankfully without further encounter or event, and were able to make our way back to the ruins of Lacosta’s tower where we decided to stop. It was possible that there were things that had been left behind in the tower, and the rest of the party agreed that checking it out was a good idea.

.oOo..oOo..oOo..oOo.

Threads within threads. It would appear that everything we have before us to do is simply smaller pieces of a much larger quest. We survived. Again. Though from what I could understand of the translated conversations between the bronze man and Lan, the fact that we were able to hold our own for so long caused the powers that be to give pause.

They have underestimated us, it seems. Again.

I am curious to see whether or not this bodes ill for us in the future.

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The Lost City - The Queen's Apples
Thoughts from the point of view of Cora'sol "The Immortal"

cross posted from Cora’s Travel Journal

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

.oOo..oOo..oOo..oOo.

Shalev, Lan, Yaeger, Tobias and I traveled quickly to try to catch up with the rest of the party. Unencumbered, we made good time, and arrived at the small town just as night fell. We saw the cart parked just outside of the only inn, guarded by a small terrified looking boy of about 8. Shalev approached the cart, only to be sternly rebuffed by the trembling child who said “She said no one was to approach the cart, sir.”

Shalev looked at the child for a moment, then silently turned to enter the inn with the rest of us following him. He has said very little over the past day or so, still being mostly lost with his internal contemplations of what Ma’at had chosen to reveal to him beside the lake.

We saw Osman sitting at a table in the middle of the common area, but Fife and KelLyn were nowhere to be seen. Osman told us KelLyn was upstairs and Fife had departed almost as soon as they had arrived, stating that he no longer felt comfortable traveling with us. Shalev blinked once at this news, then sighed and walked over to the innkeeper only to find that nothing had been arranged for the rest of the party. He spoke with the innkeeper to arrange room and board for us and the animals for four nights. Shalev inquired as to whether or not it was acceptable to have Amit stay with him, and the innkeeper replied, with a pale faced glance at the giant cat, that it would be preferable to the alternative. When asked about facilities, the innkeeper informed us all that a bath was included with the room. I promptly decided to make use of the luxury, and disappeared upstairs.

The rooms were small but well kept and tidy, and there was a large bath tub in the center of the space. The tub was made of a single piece of a tree trunk that had been hollowed out and polished until it shone. Out of curiosity, I touched the wood to see if I could sense anything about it. The wood was from a very old tree, and someone had used a modify plant spell at a very high level to create it. I ran my hand over the smooth surface and then sank myself into the heated water with a sigh. It had been a while since such a luxury was available, and so I spent long moments simply enjoying the feel of being clean. Afterward, I gave my adventuring clothes a good wash, laid them out flat to dry, and donned my blue and silver dress, wanting to feel something other than the worn traveling clothes against my skin. I let my hair fall free and then made my way down the stairs to take a seat by the fireplace where I ordered a bowl of the odd but delicious root vegetables that the inn’s cook had prepared and made some tea. As I sat there in the corner, sipping my tea and watching the other guests, I noticed a rather nondescript man also sitting by the fire.

KelLyn descended the stairs shortly after that, also wearing better robes and appearing freshly scrubbed. Shalev approached her and asked if she would go relieve the boy watching the cart so that Shalev could add a few things to the inventory. She does so, and Shalev noted that when Fife left, he left almost all of this possessions with the cart. The only things that he took with him were the potions he carried, the trident, a small bag of smaller coins, and the sword that they pulled out of the ceiling at Lacosta’s tower.

Returning to the fire, Shalev brought me a list of the wine collection that also came from that tower, and he asked me to help him categorize the bottles for value. I helped him do so, and over the next several hours, also helped him rewrite the list properly. I chose one of the better vintages to enjoy during the process, and also earmarked about 20 bottles or so of the best vintages to keep for my own. As we worked, I noticed Osman trying to engage the stranger by the fire in conversation, but he seemed to get nowhere with the exchange.

At dawn, Shalev and Osman came down to head to the farmer’s market to restock the supplies, and they noticed the same man sitting by the fireside. He seemed to be in the same exact place that he had been before, and when Shalev inquired to the innkeeper, he was told that the man had been there just like that for four days straight. Shalev approached the man and asked if he would like something to eat, and what he might like, and the man looked at him blankly before replying “flavorful” before blinking once and turning back to the fire. Shalev took some of the spices that he had back to the kitchens to have the chef add them to a meal for the man.

After that he and Osman headed down to the markets. I walked along with them, helping them restock the cart with a variety of fruits and vegetables. A farmer came in a short time later, driving a cart laden with large red globes. As soon as he appeared, a crowd immediately began to form around his cart, and the farmer began to auction off the fruit – apples. He called them the Queen’s apples, plucked from the queen’s orchards and that they only came in once a year. The townsfolk began loudly bidding for the fruit, and Shalev and Osman also joined them. Shalev purchased 14 apples, and Osman bought 10 more for his own consumption. Shalev asked the farmer how long the fruit would keep, and the farmer looked at him oddly before stating that he had never seen anyone wait to eat the fruits. Shalev bit into one of them with a crunch, and within mere moments had finished the entire thing. He nodded in affirmation that the fruit was delicious, and then as he walked past me, handed me the seeds of the fruit to keep in store for later. I decided to stay there at observe the crowds for a time, and Shalev and Osman ventured off to find armor and weaponry.

As I watched the stock of apples dwindle down to the last 20 or so, a portly man – noble in appearance – came up and began bidding for the rest. I watched him for a moment, and decided to bid the apples up, as he looked like he could afford it, and the farmer looked like he could use the extra income. As the bidding war continued between us, I realized that there was more at stake here than just a handful of apples, as the farmer goaded the merchant noble into offering his daughter’s hand to the farmer’s son in marriage. I looked at the young man and asked him quietly if this was what he wanted. He looked at me, wide eyed, and said that it was. I ceded defeat at this, and after the noble grudgingly carried the high-priced apples away, I turned to the farmer and asked if it would be possible to visit the orchards.

The farmer said that he would be happy to have my company, and Tobias and I traveled with him back to the orchards. I saw the trees before we even got close. The apple orchard was enormous and so very old, and these were the largest apple trees I had ever seen. As we walked up, the trees began to shout angry insults at the farmer. Tobias blinked in surprise at this, and I asked the trees why they were being so insulting. The trees told me that the farmer insulted them and stole their children, and the farmer said that shouting insults at the trees made them throw apples to him as it was the only way to get any to sell. I noticed that the apples that had fallen to the ground were bruised and rotten, and I asked if they would be willing to come to an understanding. The trees became insulting and they called me a city elf and a tree killer. I informed them that I was not one of those elves, but that I would deal with them very soon. The trees told me then that those elves were all dead, and tentatively agreed to talk.

I spent several moments in conversation with the trees and the farmer, in an attempt to help them reach an agreement between each other. The trees agreed to stop insulting the farmer and share some of the fruit if the farmer agreed to expand the orchards, keep them protected, and stop insulting them in return. The farmer looked thoughtful for a moment, as if amicably discussing this had never crossed his mind before now. He agreed to the terms, and then said that he would have to save up to purchase the neighboring fields. I promptly handed him a bag full of gold pieces to help with the purchase, and the farmer said that he couldn’t accept it. I told him, truthfully, that it was just shiny metal to me, and that it would be better served in his hands to help with the expansion of the orchards.

At that moment, an older tree spoke up in a grinding voice that I was one of the Immortals and that he should listen to me. The farmer paled and took the money with thanks, and the other trees in the orchard became very quiet at this revelation. After a moment of startled silence, the trees apologized to me, and I accepted the apology with grace. I asked the trees if they would like a guardian, and again there was a startled moment of quiet. They asked me if I had one, and I told them that I did. They showed me to an area on the northeastern corner of the orchard where the oldest tree had died. The ground was thick with old dead roots, and nothing else grew there. I asked the trees if it would hurt them to remove the roots, and the trees declined, saying that the roots had been long dead. As the farmer started to move in to tear the roots up, I stopped him with a gentle gesture. I made my way to the center of the area and knelt down to touch the ground, I used some of my power to cause the roots to rot to a rich mulch in a 6 foot circle. I took one of my ent seedlings carefully in hand and planted it deep within the rich earth. I thought for a moment, and then took the unidentified pouch with the create earth spell on it and planted it deep beside the seed. I felt a rush of heat as the seed drew power from the object, causing it to crumble to dust around the newly sprouted roots which curled gently around my fingers. I quickly but carefully removed my hand from the earth,and a moment later, a small sapling pushed up through the earth and stretched it’s arms out with a sigh.

I nodded at the work, feeling tired but accomplished, and informed the farmer that the ent would protect his groves, and that in turn he was to protect the ent. The farmer snarked at the fact that he would have yet another talking tree, and I warned him solidly that this grove and this ent were entrusted to him to protect from now on. I would return to check on him, and he subsided into silence as he began to realize what I had gifted him with. He made some notes to build a protective fence around the ent’s clearing and the orchard to help protect against thieves. The trees all rustled with their approval and also agreed to act as protectors as they had agreed until the guardian was old enough to protect himself.

I added a blessing to the orchards, and then Tobias and I began walking back toward town and then inn. As we walked, the trees reached branches down, and I held a hand up to brush along them in greeting. Tobias stared at me, and at the trees, but walked quietly beside me along the road, lost in his own thoughts of my display of power. I knew that if we stayed on the road that the trees would protect us, and we made it back to town without incident.

Once we made it back to the inn, we walked in to see the rest of the party conversing with the nondescript stranger, who had introduced himself simply as Ashley. I noticed that both Osman and Lan sported new, fitted armor, and that Shalev had a bundle of black silks in one arm. As I took my seat by the fire, Ashley turned to me and asked in halting common “what do you do?” I thought about this for a moment before responding simply “I live.”

Later that day, I walked with Shalev over to the poorer side of town, as he had requested my company to help him examine the poor and sick to see who could be aided. As Shalev and Lan worked to heal and feed those who needed it most, I traveled back to the farmer to inquire if he would need any additional help with the groves. He declined the help, and I told him that there were those in town who might need a job later on. He agreed to check if the need arose, and I made my way back to town again. I spent the rest of my time in front of the fire, studying my book on sacred druidry and sipping tea.

I did go by the armorer at Shalev’s request, but found that they could not make better than I already wore. We also visited the apiary where Shalev eagerly purchased about 20 lbs of honey (about 40 half-pint jars). I also purchased 3 small jars of the honey for my own use, and Shalev also purchased a keg of good beer as a gesture of goodwill for KelLyn. I am happy to see that they at least treat each other civilly now.

Ashley still sat by the fire when we returned, and I offered him some tea. He drank it without comment, and Shalev asked where we were to go next. As he did, he pulled out another apple to eat, and offered one to Ashley. Ashley tore the fruit in half with his bare hands and sniffed at it curiously. He took a bite, and then within moments had consumed it all, saying with the first real inflection I had heard in his voice “THAT was flavorful.”

Shalev repeated the question about where to go next, and I stated that I would like to visit the university here, as I was interested in finding the journals and maps of the wizard who had been here before. Osman turned to Ashley and asked if he would like to travel with us, as it would be a good way for him to learn new things. Jaeger looked at me and said something in orcish which I did not understand, then turned to glare at Osman. It is my guess that he is wary of picking up additional party members, and I wonder if Shalev should remind him gently that it wasn’t so long ago that he was the new one among us.

Ashley contemplated the offer to travel with us for a moment or two, then agreed. We packed up our things and made preparations to leave the following morning. The animals had been well cared for and appeared fit and well fed for their time in the stables. Once we got the cart hooked up, I took the apple seeds that Shalev had given me, and planted them in my small traveling garden, next to the tea tree saplings. I decided to ride in the cart for a while, since I was already here, and found a comfortable place to sit and continue my studies.

We traveled around toward Yup castle, where we had been advised by the brownies to inform the people there that Lacosta was no longer a worry. As we neared the area where Locasta’s tower was, the horses became skittish, and the ground began to rumble and shake, cracking up from underneath. I quickly climbed out of the cart, and Shalev was able to steer it clear and back away form the hole that suddenly opened up in the ground.

The hole grew rapidly, and a full circle of teeth appeared around the edge. Lan was still on her horse, and was not able to handle the animal skillfully enough to make her way clear of the threat. Osman, thinking quickly, threw a rope with a grappling hook on it to Lan, and she grabbed it. She jumped off of her horse and Shalev and Osman yanked closer to safety. Free of it’s rider, Lan’s horse was able to scramble up to solid ground and ran over near the cart. They were not able to get her clear of the closing jaws, however, and as they began to close, Jaeger began to chant and wave his hands in a spell. Two large hands made of earth appeared on either side of the jaws, holding the giant mouth open with tremendous strength. Shalev and Osman tried again to pull Lan clear, but there was a groaning sound and one of the giant hands disintegrated back into dirt as the mouth of the now visible great purple worm snapped shut.

Lan was trapped inside, and Osman continued to try to pull her free. Ashley began to cast a spell, and as he worked, his appearance began to change and blur around the edges. Jaeger responded to Ashley’s spell by casting one of his own, and Shalev grabbed the javelin from the cart. He ran to attack the worm, and I, realizing that my bow would be useless here, drew my sword to attack where I could. Shalev was successful with his attacks, and he managed to visibly wound the creature. I was also able to hit it, and as I did, the sword once again began to sing. Once the blade struck the hard purple hide, it screamed and sparks flew off as I knocked several scales loose.

Ashley’s spell went off and it looked like he was on fire, though he did not appear to be taking any damage from the flames. Jaeger’s spell also went off, and the giant purple worm fell to the ground with a loud groan. It was not dead, but it seemed to have lost all will to live, and just lay there on the ground. Osman, giving up the attempt to pull Lan free, moved to summon an elemental, and Ashley also made motions to cast another spell. Jaeger, noticing that some of the scales were loose, ran over to grab one of them.

Shalev struck the worm again and again, and I took the chance to stab at it through one of the revealed patches of skin behind the scales. Jaeger grabbed one of the scales and began casting a spell that I recognized as one KelLyn had cast on the dragon to draw it’s essence down into a point. Osman summoned a fire elemental and asked it to go burn a hole through the worm to get to Lan. Ashely’s spell also went off then, and the great worm turned transparent. Shalev finished the beast off and then quickly began cutting in to free Lan. Osman and Lan dismissed their summoned elementals, as Lan had also summoned a small fire elemental while she was trapped inside the mouth of the worm. Just before they were dismissed, I heard Ashley say very clearly in a tone of happiness “people!” After Lan was freed, Shalev donned the tapestry gloves and protective clothing he had crafted in the swamp, before beginning to cut his way through to the now -visible treasure in the worm’s stomach. He retrieved 2 long swords of average craft, a shield of average craft, a rough hewn building brick made of emerald, and a large egg shaped black stone.

Shalev showed it to me, and I recognized it as a black sapphire, but could not give him any more information than that. Shalev offered it to Jaeger first, and Jaeger took a look at it and said something in dwarfish that made Shalev quickly but gently put the stone on the ground. He told KelLyn that the stone is magical, and she promptly picked it up and identified it as having an extremely powerful Modify Human spell on it. She claimed it for herself and quickly became lost in the study of it. Shalev and Jaeger pulled off 4 of the foot-long teeth to turn into a matching set of knives.

We moved a safe distance away and made camp, and Shalev expressed interest in trying to take some of the transparent hide to turn into an invisible armor of sorts.

.oOo..oOo..oOo..oOo.

The wizard’s quest to restore the sylvan tree strikes close to home for me. Despite being told that there is no way to regrow a sylvan tree, I have not lost hope that it would be possible to restore one to health, should it be willing. Those notes and maps might give me some of the answers I seek.

Shalev seems to have returned to his roots, after a fashion. Focusing more on being a fighter and a ranger than a paladin. This is good, I think. This crisis of faith that he is experiencing will either draw him to or push him away from Ma’at, but that is ultimately for him to decide.

The more I consider this place and all we have learned about the area, the more I think that the dragon is trapped here within the fairy ring. It makes me wonder if killing it is necessary. Goddess knows it could take us out any time it wants to, and yet it has refrained from attack. It is food for thought.

We have lost one party member, and gained a new one. I hope Fife finds peace with his decision to leave, and may his adventures lead him to all the riches and glory he desires. As for Ashley? He appears to be another spell caster, albeit an eccentric one. His speech patterns are odd, but my understanding of common is only rudimentary as well, so it could be just a lack of understanding.

One of the ents that I was given care of has been planted. It felt right to do so, and what better place for one of the guardians than in an enchanted apple orchard. I know that the trees there will protect him, as he will grow to protect them in return. The farmer does not seem to realize what he has been gifted with, but I trust him to hold to his word to protect the groves and the grounds as he promised. I will make a note to return in time to check on them once these adventures are done. I have one more entling to care for in the meantime, and like this one, I will know when the time and place are right to find it a home.

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Prepared again
Down a horse, up a mage.

We made it to the town, stocked up on food, beer, and supplies, and left a short while later. Ma’at seemed moved somewhat based on my distribution of food and asking Lan to help ministering to the local unfortunates, and this is an excellent way to get rid the coins weighting down my pockets.

Fife has left us, departing to lands unknown, and I have not shared Simon’s fate with the rest of the party. They didn’t ask, so unless they do, I doubt they care much. Osmun invited a stranger by the fire to join us, Ashley, who based on a battle with a purple worm, appears to be a mage. I didn’t notice much of what he did, but I did hear the similar speech patterns I have heard Jaeger, Kellyn, and Lan use when they cast spells.

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A Debt Discharged.
The scales are balanced.

I spoke to Jaeger of his debt to me, and how I did not consider it a debt, as the price I paid for his freedom was insignificant to me, and thus not something I held over him. He aided me with his sword and helped me accomplish the task set for me by my Goddess.

I’ve met Seth, another of the “old” gods, as judged by his comment on Anu, a “new” god. He strikes me as a figure both mischievous and sadistic, and instructed me in the ways of Ma’at, to better prepare me to serve her, and informed me that Amit is an avatar is his own right, and that I was selected to serve him. Time will tell how this pans out.

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