Journal of the Souls of Legend

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Highborn - 11/10/2019

The history of the elves may have started in Aborea, but their journey passed through the Feywild. From there some left for one of the many primes, while others stayed behind becoming Eladrin. Some of those returned to Aborea, becoming noble Ealdrin.

It an interesting story, and the take away is how the planes will change mortals. However, its is not the only tale like this. But some of those tales are darker and more sinister than that.



“Ugh…what? What happened?” Alanathia said weakly, causing her to cough. While my magic helped heal her, it only fixed Iesa’s near deadly jab. Her right eye was still black and swollen shut, but her left wasn’t much better.

“You took a nasty blow in the back, but it looks like the hobgoblin gave you a work over beforehand. How are you feeling?” I asked with a concerned voice.

“I remember questions…questions about Whitepetal…I remember being hit…I don’t remember much after that,” she said sounding tired and resigned.

“Did they say what they wanted?” I asked, somewhat relieved that she didn’t remember who stabbed her in the back.

She furrowed her brow for a moment. “She…she didn’t ask questions about our forces, but I suppose she already figured out we are weakly defended. She did ask how long it would take for…for…reinforcements to arrive. And she asked about our recent guests.”

“Ravalan?”

“He was one, but also your companions, by name.”

“By names? She knew our names? What did she ask?”

The elf closed her eyes and she focused a moment before replying. “What skills you had, magic you possessed…but she didn’t ask about you…only the others.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of that. I always thought of myself as someone that would stand out in a crowd. While I was glad, I wasn’t a target, I didn’t really feel much better knowing this.

“How did Whitepetal fare?” she then asked.

“A lot burned, and a lot of dead. Galenas can give you a better idea when we get you back.” I replied. She then nodded and I felt her relax a bit, and she closed her eye, deep in thought.

“Myr?” Iesa said as he approached. “Is…she alright?”

“She’ll make it,” and I raised a hand to lift a finger just in front of my lips briefly, and then I ran my fingers through my hair.

Iesa caught my meaning and nodded and spoke again, “There were only two elves alive in the cages; we’ve given them what aid we can, and they can move whenever we’re ready.”

“Alanathia? Can you walk?” I asked, giving her a nudge.

“Yes. Take me back.”
It was early in the evening, and we were gathered in a large hall that was stretched and supported by two great trees in Whitepetal. It was here that the leaders and elders gathered and where the people would congregate as a community. Now, the merriment was gone, replaced by the melancholy of the survivors trying to put their world back into place.

We had not been there long, although the return to Whitepetal was slower than we would have liked. While Alanathia was only impaired in one eye, the two others were weakened from their imprisonment. It was well after peak, and near the setting of the sun, when we finally reached our destination.

And now, we listened as Galenas told Alanathia the scope of the fighting and damage. Half of the elves that lived there were injured, a quarter of the outpost was dead. I hadn’t realized it before, but the area that Whitepetal covered was much larger than the parts I had seen, and the pitched fighting between the elves and the hobgoblins was costly. But surprisingly, very few hobgoblins escaped alive, beyond the ones we chased. But the cost to the elves was far higher. And we learned that the hobgoblins had more forces, close by. And at last count, more than enough to overrun Whitepetal.

“But we do not believe the hobgoblins know this yet,” finished Galenas. “If for no reason that, other than the band that went to the quarry, no one else managed to escape.”

“An expensive thrust into our defenses,” Alanathia muttered. “And more than sufficient to keep us pinned here. And we are too few to take action against them.”

“Where are the hobgoblins attacking from?” Daneath asked.

“Before the attack last night, most of them were at an old temple on the what is now the edge of the Misty Forest.” Galenas started. “There are scattered ruins of towers and other constructions left behind from Ilefarn, that make good scouting posts. Many of them are also held by this so called ‘Prophesized One’s’ forces.”

“And now?” Daneath asked.

“We do not know. They had been picking off our patrols slowly over the last several weeks. Now we know why. And now we do not have enough to safely scout and find them. Not without reinforcements.”

“So, reinforcements are coming soon then?” Iesa hopefully asked.

“We cannot expect much help in the next several…weeks.” Galenas responded quietly.

“What? I thought that the wood elves had enough to keep Secomber from encroaching.” Iesa asked.

“Iesa, you do not understand,” Beepu said quietly. “Since Ilefarn fell, the forces that once guarded this place, are…gone.”

“Gone? I don’t understand.”

Alanathia spoke next, “Many families of elves have…retreated away from here. We are the remnants of those who chose not to leave, in the name of keeping our old homes safe.”

“So, the fearsome reputation is what? A front?” A shocked Iesa continued.

“It had been enough to keep wandering hunters and loggers at bay,” Galenas said. “A well-placed warning arrow is enough to accomplish that. But this is not Secomber…or even Silverymoon. We do not have powerful magic to keep the goblins at bay. Nor do we have walls or fortification to act as a bulwark. We could pick off stragglers, and we could peel their forces slowly apart given enough time.

“But we would lose much,” Alanathia continued. “No outpost, no community would be spared. Our families would be homeless within our home. The cost…would be more than we could pay.”

“Then…we take the fight to them,” I said from my place at a window, looking out at the ravaged outpost.

Galenas turned to look at me, “Do you not understand? We do not—”

I turned and stared directly into the eyes of the elf. “I didn’t say you. I said…we.”

“You would do this?” Alanathia said in puzzlement. “Why?”

“Because Iesa, Daneath, and Beepu need to talk to Melandrach. Because for some reason, the goblins are interested in them. And because of what they did here.” I said.

“I am very curious on why they are interested in us as well,” Beepu spoke up. “I cannot believe this is coincidence, but I do not see how this random band of hobgolbins causing trouble, would even know of us.”

“Hey, wait…everyone knows ‘Big-D’” Iesa said with a smile.

“Not again,” Daneath looked up at the ceiling helplessly.

“Somehow I think it is more than a match up with the ‘Apple-King’ that has their interest,” I said dryly.

“Fine, lets get going and strike at them before they are organized,” Daneath replied. “We just need directions to the temple and we’re good.”

“I don’t like the idea of going in the front like that. I’d prefer finding a different way if possible,” Iesa said with a frown.

“The only ones with living memory of the temple are the Highborn. And we haven’t seen one of their number in some time.” Alanathia said.

“And anyway,” I said, “Charging in, isn’t a good idea until we are prepared. We should rest, and scout around the temple, and see what we find. Then we decide how we kill them.”

“Kill th..Is that necessary? Could we not find a way to negotiate and end this, with less risk and less blood?” a concerned Beepu asked.

I looked at Alanathia, and her swollen face. I nodded in her direction while I spoke, “Their idea of talking seems to involve their fists or blades. I think we are done…talking.” I said angrily, and I headed across the hall to leave.

“You did not answer my question; ha-celas. Why?” Alanathia asked again.

I stopped a moment and stood quietly. I then turned to look at her, “Because…it’s the right thing…no, the only thing we can do.” I then turned and left the hall and embraced the cool air of the early evening, as I walked back to the room I was given.

There’s more to it isn’t there Myr?

--No…yes…I don’t know.

They hurt you.

--What? A bruised arm, and…

That’s not what I meant.

--…Yes…they should pay. All of them.

Myr, I’m not su—

--Drop it.

Don’t you—


I swiftly moved my hand in a swift cutting motion, and Gossamer vanished in a sparkled haze. My mood was running a red one, when I finally got to my room, and slammed the light door shut. I unbuckled my rapier from my hip, threw it on the small table and collapsed on the lounge like chair. Once planted, I grabbed the bottle of liquor that Morlea had once brought, removed the glass stopper, and brought the bottle up and took several swallows. I felt the burn of the drink sting me as it slid past my lips and throat

It’s nuances of herbal and floral notes were lost on me. I just wanted to experience the familiar euphoria. I didn’t want to think or feel right now. As I sat there, I peeled off with difficulty, the chain shirt I wore, and let it hit the floor. I laid back, looking upwards at the ceiling. I could feel my head begin to swim a bit as I felt the warm liquor run through me. Soon, my eyes drooped, as my mind drifted away in the darkness.

---

I awoke with a start, as someone was knocking at the door. The sky was a dim orange, telling me it was still early morning. I stood up and stretched, and stumbled over to open it, to face Iesa.

“Hey, we’re going to be heading out in a while, are you—”

“Give me a little, and I’ll meet you at the hall.”

“Alright…oh, by the way, Beepu said you might be able to figure out what this is,” and Iesa handed me a small leather bag, tied shut with a thong. I took it from him and opened it to find an amber colored gem. But as I gazed into the bag, I noticed that inside the pouch it gave off a faint glow.

“Why did Beepu say…I should figure this out?”

Iesa shrugged, “I found it on the hobgoblin, noticed the glow, and gave it to Beepu. He said it had an enchantment on it, but not one he was personally familiar with and maybe you were.”

“Thanks. I’ll poke at it as we travel.”

“See you at the hall,” and Iesa turned and started to walk of, when he half turned and spoke again. “I hope you are…better,” and without waiting for me to reply, he continued on towards the hall.

I watched as Iesa strode off, while turning over the bag in my hand. Frowning, I closed the door and waved my hand.

--u think…that. Oh. I see. Fine.

It’s not. I’m…sorry. I…don’t know what got into me.

--You do. That’s the problem.

By late morning, we were on our way. We had some food, and basic supplies. I was given a small shield to replace the one I had lost, and we started on our way. We had rough directions to the temple, and it would take most of the day to reach it. Fortunately, the elves knew their home, and gave us guidance on hidden paths that would lead us quickly through the forest. While patrols might be a concern, we wouldn’t be lost, and adrift in the underbrush, wondering which way led out.

We had said little more than pleasantries in the morning, and we kept to ourselves as we marched. It wasn’t that there weren’t things to say, but more that we wanted to hear what was coming. The elves gave us warning that the patrols the hobgoblins ran, were quiet to a fault, and their wolves would smell you long before you see them.

So, we now smelled of pine and oak thanks to some creative working with the strand. We moved as stealthily as we could, and fortune seemed to smile upon us. We encountered no hobgoblins as we trudged through the brush. But nor did we find any other elven patrol, confirming Galenas’ fears that more had been lost.

By late afternoon we reached our destination; a plateau that overlooked the temple grounds. We crept slowly to the edge of the bluff, to see with our own eyes the temple grounds.

A large waterfall graced a sheer cliff face of rock. The waterfall was on one side of a fane, carved into the rock. The entrance was carved with runes and symbols around it, with a stone bridge that the river passed under. The ruins of columns and arches lined a causeway of flagstone, that led to the entrance to the fane. The columns were covered in vines and the floor of the causeway was litter with leaves, needles and dirt from perhaps centuries of disuse and overgrowth. On both sides of the causeway, several pools of water stood, even now, fed with channels from the river, keeping the water fresh and clean.

But along the causeway was new construction; large tents of leather stretched over poles. Pens with fencing of fresh cut logs, along the pools. In the pens, were worgs; some sleeping, others pacing back and forth. Outside the tents were perhaps two score hobgoblins, but the size of the tents told us there were far more elsewhere. Fires were scattered around the camp, and ramparts of logs shielded the main path into the temple, providing cover for defenders.

Following the path away from the temple, it descended down to the floor of the forest. But along the edge, the trees had been cut away, and more ramparts and palisades had been constructed, allowing defenders a clear view of the path ascending. Looking at the area remaining, it could easily hold a much larger host.

“That is exactly…not the way in we are looking for,” Iesa said dryly. “Even with Beepu’s magic…it would be a matter of time before I would be caught.”

“Give me a moment,” and Beepu waved his hand at Foggle and the brass owl vanished. “I am sending him up and around the camp so he cannot be seen.”

“And for the rest of us, there isn’t much hope of sneaking past. Even at night,” Daneath frowned.

“No, their eyes are too sharp,” Beepu commented frowning. “And watching the guards, they are disciplined and organized. And so are their worgs.” His eyes looked unfocused and far away, and I knew he was looking through Foggle’s eyes. “Based on what I am seeing, half of the camp is not here. And guessing at the bones in the worg pens, probably on patrol. But Foggle does see some just inside the entrance to the temple. So, no telling how many might be below. This makes a frontal attack inadvisable.”

I couldn’t agree more with their assessment and had nothing to add. So, l looked farther along the path. We were on a ridge overlooking the temple, with the waterfall on our left and the entrance a bit farther. But beyond the escarpment, was another tower in the distance. It stood halfway up a hillside that would lead up above the waterfall, to where the river above flowed.

“Well, it looks like they are waiting for more to arrive,” Iesa said.

Daneath nodded, “Yep. If we had some archers or siege weapons, we could attack them here. But they have built cover just for that.”

“So, we return and say what, ‘nothing we can do?’ or ‘You should run,”

“No…not yet,” and I pointed at the farther tower. “I am guessing that is guarding or overlooking something.”

“So?” Iesa looked at me puzzled. “What good is going there?”

“So, we can do what the Hobgoblins did to the elves,” I said looking at him. “We don’t attack where they are strong. Pick them off on the edges where we can. Perhaps capture one and get some information. Also, it is off the main path. So, what is it guarding?”

Beepu started to nod, “Yes. Another path? An entrance perhaps?”

“It has got to be better than attacking directly,” Daneath concurred. “Iesa?”

“It is worth a try. And if not, then we can go back…” Iesa started.

“How about, ‘not in a box’,” I looked at everyone, and everyone nodded in agreement.
We found our way down to the forest floor. We believed that we were unobserved and found the same path that led to the temple. Where the other direction went was lost to dirt and tree growth. We couldn’t see the tower…not directly. But both Gossamer and Foggle could from the air, and they helped us stay on track.

As we got closer, we found the was tower on a hillside, while the ground in front was a gully. Scattered in the gully were boulders and clusters of earth. We approached and it seemed that this area was what must have been the remains of a forest fire. There were only a few trees that still stood, and many channels of water that had cut paths between the earthen clusters. The tower itself, was once several stories tall, but now only a slender section of wall reached that height, and nothing remained of the second level.

But leading to that tower, was the remains of a path and several tiers cut into the earth. And on those tiers, we could see several goblins and some worgs. Several tents were scattered on the tiers as well, but it was nothing like the temple. These seemed hurriedly constructed and didn’t have the organization of the other ones. There were no other defenses to provide cover beyond the remains of the tower itself.

We looked at each other and nodded; we knew we could do this.

“So, here’s my idea,” Isea grinned as he spoke. “Daneath and I get closer and start shooting arrows at them. Once we do, they’ll try to charge us, and you two pick them off.”

“That’s a lot of goblins…are you sure?” I asked.

“I have a new spell I want to try,” Beepu said rubbing his chin. “It will be invaluable.”

“Fine…will it kill them?” I said bluntly.

“What? No…no…no. Not directly. But it will help.” he grinned.

“Take your word for it,” let’s go.

We split and watched Iesa and Daneath move forward towards the tower, keeping low and trying to stay out of sight. Beepu and I drifted a bit to the right, keeping the brothers within our vision. Foggle stayed low, along with Gossamer, not wanting to give the goblins something to look at.

After some skulking around the earthen berms, I saw the brothers stop. They thrust their swords into the earth, the hilts in easy reach. Daneath set his shield down as well. Then both pulled their bows off of their back. Each of them nocked an arrow and drew.

I looked at Beepu and watched him begin to make motions with his hands. In the stillness, and without the hectic flow of battle, I could feel Beepu pulling at the weave. The incantation seemed simple, but he was focused in pulling more power into the spell. I heard the twang of arrows, and my eyes were drawn towards the tower, as I watched two goblins fall; one knocked straight off his worg, and a second falling backwards into a campfire. Then I felt the Weave near me tense and release.

Beepu threw open his hand in a flourish towards the tower, and I saw an explosion of mist, boil out and cover the goblins in a thick fog. I squinted trying to see anything within. The brothers were also taken aback and turned to look where we stood. All I could do is shrug my shoulders as I turned to look at the gnome in puzzlement.

“Wait,” he said. And he started another incantation. As he did so I could hear the goblins and worgs, shouting and barking in frustration. I then hear the sounds of bodies hitting the ground hard, accompanied by screams of pain.

I turned around to look back at the mist, and out of it bounded a worg with a goblin mounted on its back. Quickly two arrows were fired, striking the worg in the chest, and pitching the goblin forward towards the ground, as I threw a bolt of energy at it. As the goblin stood up straight and bared his teeth, the bolt struck him in the head, knocking him back to the ground where he lay still.

Beepu finished his second spell throwing a pinch of sand into the air, and he commented. “That will make things easier with them sleeping through the fight.”

It now was clear what he had done; the fog made it dangerous to rush at us directly. Then his sleep spell would keep a number of them out of the fight. And considering how thick the fog was, it was unclear how many of the goblins could even see that anyone fell asleep.

“Myrai, help me get up this berm, so I can have a better view,” he asked, and I extended a hand and tossed him up. “Ah…this is excellent!” he exclaimed, as we heard more goblins and worgs screaming, falling and even the sickening crunch of bone as bodies hit earth and rock.

I only needed to hear those sounds, to put a smile on my face. More stragglers bounded from the mist. They were me with arrows, bolts of fire and energy flew, picking them off as they stumbled into view. I was reveling in picking them off one by one. My smile growing wider as each one fell into a lifeless heap.

Then I could only see its barest outline, but a larger back furred worg emerged from the fog. Unlike the other goblins and worgs before, it wasn’t rushing out, it moved out slowly and patiently. Its head turned slowly, searching out ahead of it, when its eyes locked onto Beepu. I heard it howl and start two steps towards him, when a blue haze erupted, and the wolf disappeared.

I didn’t have anytime to look for it, as I heard the sounds of legs running above me, and then a snarl and a scream of pain from Beepu. I backed up and looked up to see that same black wolf’s jaws rip into Beepu’s arm. Once locked, it shook its massive head and tossed the gnome aside. I stood there stupidly in shock as I watched this worg, grin in satisfaction as blood dripped from its muzzle. But now as I looked, the muzzle, the face was all wrong. The face wasn’t one of a worg, but it looked more like a goblin’s but smashed onto the body of the worg. It’s head and jaw were broader, and even more teeth filled its maw.

“So…wizard, ready to be the rabbit you were born to be?” the worg spoke, in a rough, cold voice. It started moving towards the gnome, unconcerned that it’s prey could flee. Its head was lowered, and its eyes were firmly looking at Beepu’s fallen form.

I threw a bolt of energy at it, only to see it ricochet off it’s hide. Iesa was still picking off goblins with his bow, while Daneath dropped his bow, and grabbed his sword and shield to run in our direction. Beepu, in the meantime scrambled to his feet and ran and jumped to another berm, trying to close the distance to Daneath. He also twisted around, and a blast of fire left his hands, only to see it go wild. He turned and ran and jumped across a gap between the berms, trying to get more room between himself and the creature.

It simply snarled and bounded after him, clearing the jump and lunging at Beepu. Its jaws closed on Beepu’s leg and blood sprayed in several directions. Beepu screamed and cursed again. Fortunately, he broke free and ran straight towards the warrior.

I was about to throw another bolt of energy at Beepu’s assailant, when I noticed that the fog bank was dissipating.

Beepu lost his focus…watch my back!

--Then you better turn around now!


I whirled in time to see two worgs bounding towards me. I cursed something filthy under my breath and pulled on the dark strands. Seeing the skeletal hands grasp for their throats, I ran. I could feel the hands tear at their souls, but they weren’t daunted by my exertion.

They snapped at me, and one managed to draw some blood from my right arm, as I fended off the other one with my shield. I started to back up slowly, heading towards Iesa. As my legs churned, carrying me to safety I hoped, I heard the sound of Beepu’s voice shout.

“I need some help!”

“Jump, I’ll catch you.” Came Daneath’s reply.

As I fended off the worgs snarling and nipping, I turned to look at Beepu. He was running as fast as his legs could carry him. He finally reached the end, and I saw him jump. He dove straight forward towards the warrior, his legs still running in the air while his arms and torso stretched out, as if to reach an impossible goal.

Daneath was waiting below, and I watched as Beepu fell straight through his hands, and his body struck the ground as Beepu landed face first into the mud.

Even as I was batting off the two worgs on me, I could barely stifle a chuckle at the comedy that lead to Beepu’s dire predicament. Once I saw Beepu moving again, I wasted no time and turning around, pulling on the dartness, and summoning the miasma to swallow both of them. Both ran through it, and I kept running towards iesa, so we could cover each other.

Myr…what do I?--

--Just run!


I ran as fast as I could, passing Daneath, as I saw Beepu pick himself up, with Gossamer close behind me. I turned again and flexed, pulling at the darkness, and again the bell tolled, and the miasma spilled forth. This time the souls of the worgs let go, and left this plane for the fugue, and their corpses fell, running themselves into the ground.

“Dyde ech corden duol dim yner ffunto!” Beepu yelled, screaming at Daneath.

“The sun was in my eyes…what does that even mean?” Daneath yelled in return.

“It’s an insult, I’ll tell you later,” I said as I ran by running to my favorite Knight of the Post. Iesa had dropped his bow, and had finished off another worg, when he turned and looked past me shouting “Beepu, watch out!”

Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark!

--Not helping!


Turning I saw the worg thing land its jaws around Beepu’s arm and hold fast. It then bolted, dragging Beepu across the ground and towards the tower. I could hear Beepu cursing and I saw flames as Beepu tried to hit his tormentor, but the bolts flew wide. Iesa ran ahead of me, as did Daneath after the worg carrying Beepu. It was fast and soon it was on the top of the hillock, when it spun and tossed the gnome down the path.

“You will not free him. He will die in the ‘Prophesized Ones’ name!’ filthy ganlockts!” And it ran into the bottom of the ruined tower.

I looked around and didn’t see any goblins or worgs moving. Iesa was running to some of the tents on the lower ledges and was stabbing frequently, waiting for his brother to catch up to him.

--Goss find a way into that tower, find out who this prisoner is.

Sure thing.


The Tressym spread its wings and used its legs to run and skip across the ground fast. It wasn’t as fast as that worg, but it easily outpaced the brothers as it flew low around the tower, looking for a way in.

I had just caught up with Iesa and Daneath, who were waiting for me. Beepu was unconscious, and I quickly pulled on a white strand, and poured energy into him. His eyes snapped open in surprise and then he grimaced in pain.

“Where is that, that, thing?” I sputtered.

“In the tower,” Daneath said, already moving again.

“Who are we not freeing?” Iesa asked.

“Probably the last of an elf—”

--Um Myrai…I don’t know what this is. But it has four legs and horns.

A Bariaur? Here? No…wait. What kind of horns?

--I have no idea..long ones like tree branches.


“It’s a Highborn!” I shouted. “Kill that worg before—”

“On it!” both men replied and then dashed towards the tower. I started to chase after them, and I saw out of the corner of my eye, Beepu stand up shakily and start to follow.

How is it?

--Restrained and wounded.

Get close and touch him.

--It’s huge!

Just DO it!


I was still running, and I saw the brothers enter the tower and could barely hear them as I ran closer.

“Where is it?” Iesa said first.

“How could it hide?” Daneath replied.

Tell me when you touch it? And where is the worg?

--What worg? All I see is a Barghest about to drop down on your friends.


My eyes widen, and I screamed: “Above you!”

Beepu was just behind me and we were not four paces from the door, when we saw the large form of the barghest drop and land on top of Daneath. Iesa stabbed at it with his rapier and backed up back outside.

It chased him, growling and snarling with that horrid face, taunting as it lunged. Meanwhile Daneath stumbled out, bleeding profusely where the shoulder and neck met. I ran to him, and quickly poured more of the white strand into him. I was weakening; there wasn’t much more I could do.

“I will devour your souls!” it growled as it lunged towards Iesa. Daneath, charged from the tower, and plunged his sword in the back side of it. The barghest bellowed in pain and turned to snap at him. As it turned, Beepu threw a bolt of fire, but the barghest simply ducked, and the blast flew overhead.

--Ok I’m touching it. Now what?

Keep it company.

--Ok…how?

Try sitting on its lap and purr.

--Really? I don’t even know him.

GOS!


The battle outside was going poorly. The barghest hide was thick and it seemed that Iesa’s blows were ineffective, while Daneath couldn’t hit it at all. Beepu, covered in blood, was missing with his bolts as well, and at least one only just singed it. I was about to join into the fray, but I had one thing to do first. I concentrated on a white strand and drew energy from it into me. I then pushed it down the thread that connected me to Gossamer. I could feel the energy touch and caress something through Gossamer, and felt it bind itself with it.

--He’s wakin—

Start purring!


Looking at everyone, I saw that Iesa had taken a nasty bite and was stumbling. I ran over behind him and as I pulled on a white strand, barely grazing him. But it was enough to help close his wounds, and I felt the energy on the white and dark strands dim within me. I had nothing left and would be lucky to prevent anyone from dying now.

I moved myself to the door of the tower and blocked the entrance and turned around. The beast had just lunged and bit down on Daneath’s sword arm, just as he attempted to thrust his weapon into it. Daneath grunted and withdrew, placing his shield up in front of him, just in time to block the teeth and claws of the Barghest. Iesa tried to thrust, tried to slash and could not land a blow.

Finally, I could concentrate. I pulled on the only piece of the strand I could. The most basic and primal. The dark miasma once again surrounded the Barghest. As the bell sounded and the darkness formed, I heard it howl in agony, as its soul was flayed apart by dark energies. It turned to look at me and charged.

I placed my shield in front of me and lowered my body closer to the ground. The impact jammed my shield into my shoulder, and my feet dug into the loose earth, and then catching on the threshold of the door. The beast’s muzzle, bit and tried to slip up over my shield, but I held my ground.

I could no longer see my friends, but I heard the whistling of metal in the air, and the sound of blades sinking deeply into the foul thing. I could smell burnt hair as a blast of fire hit it. I concentrated again and pulled more miasma, and again sounding the bell.

Suddenly, it stopped pushing on my shield. Looking over it, I saw that it changed targets and it was dashing straight at Beepu, closing its jaws on the gnome. Once again it started to thrash, twisting its head as it shook Beepu, like a rabbit caught on the hunt. As it did so I heard Beepu say something and I felt the Weave snap.

Three bolts of light arced from Beepu, and each struck the barghest. It dropped Beepu, staggering a bit on all fours.

“No…too…soon…only…four m-m-m-ore...”

And as it spoke, Daneath charged into the beast, knocking it over. He then brought his long sword down twice, each spraying blood and the second one with the sound of bone cracking as either the spine or a thick rib was cleaved. The barghest quivered a moment, and then its form went slack, blood pooling beneath it.

We stood there panting, exhausted. Beepu, lay there unconscious, and Iesa was also severely wounded. Daneath, while bloodied seemed to shrug off the injuries. I had some scratches, but otherwise was alright.

I moved to Beepu and put a bit of energy into him, keeping him on this side of the fugue. Then, I stood up straight and moved softly to the doorway leading into the tower. Iesa was about to follow, when Daneath laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Let her do it,” Daneath said softly.

“But I can talk to—” Iesa started.

“She might be more his…peer.” He said simply.

I crossed the threshold of the tower. The room was a shambles, and the roof let slivers of light in. Holes were present in the walls, everywhere. It was barely intact, unable to keep the elements or wild animals at bay. Inside was no furniture, only a straw pallet in a corner. On the wall was an iron ring, and on it was attached a chain with a padlock, that led to the neck of a being that I could only describe as majestic.

I was familiar with Bariaur, a four-legged race found in Sigil. They were touchy, proud of themselves, and their horns. But they had horns and faces that resembled that of goats, and they stood no taller than most humans or gith.

This creature was something else; it was massive, he easily could have been twice my height. Its body reminded me of the Elk spirit I saw before. It had a male torso, that was elven in proportion. Its skin was deeply tanned and muscled. On his head was a mane of chestnut brown hair, and from beneath the locks, were massive antlers, again like the Elk spirit.

It was laying down; the chain was short enough that it could not stand easily. There were signs of blood from cuts from blades all over its body. But now the wounds were closed. As I entered, it took no notice of me, as its attention was focused on something else. As it lay there, it had a look of amusement as at looked at Gossamer, who had perched himself on the Highborns’ flank. There with wings outspread and purring up a storm, Gossamer kneaded that flank, with outstretched claws as if it was the purest sign of love.

The Highborn finally took notice of me, and he turned his head to look. His eyes appeared to be full of starlight. He also had that hint of a smile on his lips, as he spoke.

“Such a marvelous creature,” his deep voice intoned with a touch of merriment on it. “I have only heard of Tressym, this is the first one I have met. I don’t suppose I could keep him as a…companion.”

I smiled as a knelt in from the Highborne, “I don’t think that is possible. He is really a celestial spirit and is a part of me.”

The Highborne nodded. “I knew it was not fey and seeing you I can see you that are not human.”

“The elves would call me a ha-celas and I am…far from home. Let me see about finding a key to that lock. I pulled out the copper wire from my pouch and whispered;

“Iesa, look for a key somewhere.”

“GAH! Don’t surprise me like that. Right. Find key…and come in?”

“Yes, and if you don’t find one, come in.”

I turned to look at the Highborn again, “My friend, Iesa is looking for the key now. By the way my name is Myrai and that,” I pointed at the still kneading Tressym, “Is Gossamer. What may we call you?”

“In this tongue, the best translation would be Pathhorn. And I thank you for dealing with these goblins. It was fortunate that you arrived.”

“That may be more accurate than you know,” I responded. “However, we should talk elsewhere, before more goblins arrive. My friends are badly wounded, and we have many questions for you.”

“For…me? Concerning?”

“The temple that the goblins have taken.”

The Highborn nodded slowly. “I know of somewhere safe nearby. And yes, we must talk.”

Session notes:

This was a near TPK, as the other three were on the edge of dying, and I would have soon followed. Lousy dice roll all through the night.
 

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