The Thorns of Winter -(updated 8/1/2023)

Wilpower784

Smug Bladesinger
Nice to see all the different perspectives here. Each of them had their own style/personality, and they were all done well. Hope there will be other opportunities to see what others add to the table in the future.

Also, looks like there’s been a lot of death lately. Hopefully, everyone gets a chance to catch a break sooner or later. Unless, Murphy’s Law has anything to say about it.
 

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Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Also, looks like there’s been a lot of death lately. Hopefully, everyone gets a chance to catch a break sooner or later. Unless, Murphy’s Law has anything to say about it.
Sieges and plagues are unpleasant business. But, throw in a cult of fanatics (The Emerald Claw) anything could happen.

A break though...that probably isn't in the cards.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise

Material Gain - 1/27/2022​



I ran through the garbage choked alley in the rain, heavily laden with smoke and brimstone. The cobblestones were slick and I was trying to maintain my footing as my bare feet slapped against the stone. No one impeded me as I ran around the empty alley, turning corners and pulling down stacks of wooden crates as I passed them. All in a vain attempt to slow something approaching behind me. I heard wood shattering on the stone as the crates fell behind me as I continued to run. Rivulets of rain poured from my hair, and down my bare back and between my heaving bosom, as I continued to flee. As I ran, I became soaked with a deluge of filth, as all the upper stories of this infinitely tall alleyway, took to dumping their night water down into the alley below with me running through it. Still, I continued to run as my eyes watered trying to wash away the muck with my tears. I wiped my face with my hand as I tried to see where the alley led, and nearly wretched from the odor. Finally, I saw a hard turn to the left, and my feet slipping as I tried to navigate it. I managed to keep my balance, but skidded to a stop, as thunder pealed overhead.

The alley was cut short, with an imposing wall of brick in front of me. I stood upright in surprise, as a flash of lighting followed lit the wall ahead, and as thunder gave a low grumbling, I saw there painted in dark pitch a balance held by skeletal hand. But instead of being level I could see one scale pushed downwards, by the form of a golden woman laying on it. As I stood there trying to process the scene, I heard many footsteps on the cobblestone behind me, slowly approaching. I turned shivering, my breathes short as I looked at the gang behind me, each face lingering as I looked each in turn. Then I could hear them chant, as they approached, each muttering with gravelly voices, as I looked at them all and recognizing a few.

A small child, with a pair of spears protruding from her chest, pointed at me whispering.

“Myrai.”

A man, wearing the baldric of a Deneith Blademark, pale from exsanguination, pointed at me groaning.

“Myrai.”

A Genasi, hair grey with age, and whose severed head was firmly underneath his arm, and with his other hand, pointed at me, while the mouth bubbled with blood.

“Myrai.”

The bones of a gnome woman burned black to the core and still smoldering with embers stared with empty sockets and pointed at me hissing.

“Myrai.”

A wood elf, who stood smoking in front of me, her face blue and streaked with ash, and pointed at me wheezing.

“Myrai.”

So many were behind them; from Whitepetal. More Blademarks from here. Townsfolk. Sigilites. Elves. Humans. Gith. Gnomes. Men. Women. Children. All of them pointing at me.

“Myrai.”

And then, from behind the throng, a solitary figure pushed their way through. A tiefling with dark red skin, fiery red hair, and small horns. She looked at me with dead white eyes, one of them hanging from her eye socket by a strand of tissue. Around her neck, and around her mouth were stitches, now loosened with age and decay. She plodded forward, as I retreated, tripping, and falling backwards. I scrambled backwards away from the girl in horror, the rain pouring heavily on my naked form, water mixing with the filth from garbage and excrement. I pushed myself against the wall, under the symbol as the red and rotten tiefling approached. She bent at the waist and cocked her head and sneered as she spoke.

“What makes you special?” her voice was wet as she gurgled the question. “Why is it always you that lives? How do you manage not to die? Where is your soul taking you?” she reached out and wrapped her hands around my throat and began to squeeze. I wheezed for a moment, before falling silent as I wrestled with her. She stood up, pulling me off the stone and suspended me in the air. My heart pounded, and I felt pressure build in my head and lungs as I tried and failed to inhale. I hung helplessly, eyes bulging, and trying to speak with a burst, the last breath I had.

“I…I’m…sorr—” I choked before being cut off.

“Who are you?” Elisna said. I felt my throat collapse with a sickening crack, and she threw me against the brick wall. The bricks broke apart behind me into an endless void, as I reached for her for succor. She receded from view wearing a sanctimonious smile as I fell backward, unable to breathe, my heart pumping its last beat when I hit…

I sharply inhaled and sat up in the Jorasco station. I clutched at my neck and panted for air. I looked around me and I first saw Adrissa curled up near the fireplace sleeping peacefully. Turning my head, I was surprised to see Doxx and Rosa back-to-back sharing blankets also deep asleep. I chuckled for a moment when I was startled to hear a voice behind me.

“That one seemed worse than normal,” twisting around I saw Bookshelf seated at a table. A plate on their chest had slid open, and from it was a small frame that held a shard and a small mechanical device with many buttons or keys. Mounted on it was a small candle, which shed a dim circle of light around the warforged.

I nodded, “I don’t usually remember them. This one was different.” Sitting up fully, I pulled up my knees and lay my forehead on them. My heart and breathing were slowing, and all that was left of the dream was a muddle of feelings that twisted in my stomach. My eyes teared up as I felt one specific one well up within me.

“Why?” I choked. “Too many people died around me, and yet I survive.”

The warforged sat there unmoving and then finally shrugged its shoulders and spoke. “That is not the first time I have heard that question. Sometimes I heard it from someone laying on the battlefield I crossed, delivering a missive or command. Other times, I heard it uttered in the Jorasco tents, as they fixed soldiers, or the Cannith ones as they repaired us. And yet they all paled in comparison to the soldiers captured.”

I looked at the warforged in puzzlement. “How? I’ve seen the fields of battle but not that.”

Bookshelf again was quiet, before they began again. “Warforged captured by the enemy are treated well. We got a new mission, and new targets. Little problem there. But the others were herded into cages or fenced in barracks. They were given meager scraps; barely enough to live. Soldiers need more food to keep fighting. The prisoners were secondary concerns. Some were held for ransom, and they were better fed. But if their families didn’t respond, they had a hard time. The nature of the question changed.”

“A hard time?” I said still trying to picture what had happened.

“Sometimes a simple missive wasn’t enough. Sometimes, proof was required, and that proof needed to be delivered.” Bookshelf said flatly. “An ear. A finger. A chunk of skin with a tattoo.”

My blood ran cold, “You…you did those things.” I said in shock.

Bookshelf paused again and then spoke plainly, “A warforged does what they are told. I did this during the last year of the war, because that what was expected of me. It wasn’t until the end of the war when I first considered that what I had done wasn’t a normal part of war. That was it considered a crime under the old code of Galifar. By then it made no difference; the war was over. But those prisoner’s question didn’t change from the ones laying on the field dying, or the ones being healed not dying. The question is the same regardless of circumstances, across the living or the warforged. General to peasant levy. Young or Old. And then as now, the answer is the same.”

“What?”

“There are no answers, and one must deal with the now as best one can. No one can change your circumstance but you. Some can accept that. Many cannot.”

“Bookshelf, the things you have done. Have you come to terms with it?” I asked as I pulled myself off my bed roll, feeling very awake.

“No. I’m not sure it would change anything. It didn’t for the prisoners asking. And wondering if it is fate or ill luck is pointless.”

I sat there thinking on their words and shook my head, “That’s too cold. The gods don’t want that for us. There is meaning to every life and every death!”

“Then, why are you asking the question?” Bookshelf flatly asked me.

I stopped short. I realized I had helped others answer that question many times. Sometimes when they lived. Sometimes as they lay before me dying. And sometimes as a prayer, hoping their souls might. They took comfort in my words, or so I hoped. And it didn’t matter what the answer was, just that they had an answer. But who was I to give such assurances? Who was I to have such certainty?

Who was I?

“The question doesn’t have a single answer,” I replied growing angry. “It’s not even the point. It’s a plea for understanding. And you would think as someone who often gives council, that I would know the answer. But the truth is I feel like I am missing something. Like a broken vase, but where the pieces don’t fit. Helping others along the way isn’t enough. Now I feel like I’m being led by the nose and being shown death and despair for a reason.” I stood up in my small clothes, agitated and started to pace.

“I’ve almost died to vegepygmies. I’ve almost died to magical conflagration. I’ve almost died with a dagger in my side and a fall. Almost to a fall in Krona Peak onto a bar table. And the one time I did die…I wasn’t allowed to.”

Bookshelf looked at me uncomprehendingly, “Allowed? Death simply comes when your body or mind is broken.”

“Perhaps for others. But I seem to be different,” turning I faced Bookshelf. “When I died at the jaws of hyenas, I was done. I didn’t want to return. I was relieved that I had reached the end and that I would forget all the pain. But my father forced me back to life somehow. Like he had a plan. Like he wanted me to experience…death,” my voice dropped to a whisper.

Experience. It was the credo of a Sensate that the best way to learn about the multiverse was to experience it. Was it possible that I didn’t just almost die all those times…but I actually did?

“Why? Why is it important to him I keep dying?” I whispered.

“You are making no sense Myrai,” Bookshelf stated.

I chuckled a moment, “Probably not…but I think I understand what the question I have, really is,” I smirked and shook my head and looked down by my bedroll where my gear was, with the silvery cylinder lay; The Apocrypha. It had been perhaps six months since I accidently found myself having a conversation with it:

“Element Myrai cannot be informed on the purpose of duties, as it would compromise nature of purpose. Duties are defined currently as ‘passive with active engagement’ with proto-petitioners as far as element Myrai’s judgement is concerned including executions as required.”

“Otherwise, best guidance provided is similar in nature as former member of ‘Society of Sensation,’ with different parameters of focus.”




“It looks like that I need to—” I started, when the door to the aid station was flung open, by the dripping wet form of the juggernaut, Sage.

“We have been summoned,” the warforged said flatly to everyone, now wide awake at the intrusion.

“By?” Doxx said, rubbing her eyes as she quickly scooted away from Rosa on the floor.

“Lolopethes. It appears Loramica wants a report this morning.” Sage said calmly. As we looked at each other with resignation he amended his statement. “He did say please.”

“Well, I’m sure Loramica didn’t say that.” Rosa said standing and pulling on her boots. As she did so she looked around puzzled. “Where’s The Blade?”

“I haven’t seen him since he jumped over the wall last night,” Bookshelf said as he put away his crystal and gathered their things.

“I saw him briefly last night, travelling around the alleys,” Sage said. “But he was so absorbed in what he was doing, that he didn’t respond to me shouting at him.”

“Lost in his head?” Doxx said mockingly. “I’m not surprised. Maybe he’ll find something.”

“In the alley or his head?” Bookshelf asked.

“Yes. Both.” Doxx spat.

We quickly dressed and armed ourselves and made our way to the Church of the Blood Sacrament, without The Blade. Gossamer followed us, flitting from roof to roof, ducking under eaves here and there to stay out of potential rain. As it was, the morning’s sky was covered in thick clouds. More than enough to keep the morning’s light dim and murky. The streets were still wet and slick from the rain, which also left the scent of damp, burned wood in our nostrils. After a hurried walk, we entered the grounds of the church.

The makeshift stables and tents were mostly empty, and there were several of Loramica’s soldiers fixing meals at a campfire in the center of the yard. But looking at the men there, their faces told the same tale. They were exhausted, with sagging eyes and thinning cheeks from hard labors. They might have been skilled soldiers, but they were clearly pushing themselves hard trying to patrol the town and keep the vegepygmies at bay. They looked at us with disdain, thinking we had the easier job than they and I would have been hard pressed to disagree.

We walked up to the steps to enter the church proper and were met by the elf Lolopethes. He said nothing and waved us inside. Once again, I felt ill inside the church. Its interior felt dark and cold to me, even with several braziers warming the chapel. The center still had the table set over the stone basin, and on it were even more scattered papers and maps. Leaning over it, Loramica looked only slightly better than her men. As we approached, she only glanced up for a moment, and said in an even tone, “Report.”

We looked at each other for a moment, and Doxx then stepped forward. “Ah yes. We found the druids. They were headed to an excavation of House Cannith—”

“—Cannith?” Loramica said surprised, but she didn’t look up. “Why would they be working with Cannith?”

“Ah…yes. Simply put, the Cannith group were…duped, by the druids,” Doxx explained quickly. “There was a journal of one of Cannith scions and it pretty much told us that they found the cave based on notes in a book in Cattbron.”

“A book?” Lolopethes said intrigued.

Doxx nodded and continued, “The place was thought by Cannith to be a Dhakaani installation of some sort…but we think it is…older.”

Loramica looked up from her maps and squinted at Doxx, ignoring the rest of us. “So…what is this installation?”

Sage then spoke before Doxx could respond. “It was part of an eldritch machine. Morrigon Finn had one of his disciples turn it on. We then had to flee before the place collapsed.”

“Destroying it?” Loramica asked in a guarded tone.

“No,” Bookshelf answered. “It was fully functional and buried beneath tons of rock. But I am certain that all the place did was provide energy to something else.”

“So, you just watched them turn it on?” Loramica growled between clenched teeth.

“They had a control…key and she broke it in front of us,” Rosa said. “She also said that only Morrigon had another.”

Loramica pounded her fist on the table in anger and was about to bellow something, when Lolopethes intervened. “You said there was a book in Cattbron?”

Rosa nodded, “Yes. In a journal from one of the Cannith’s discussed something about greater and lesser keys in that book.”

Lolopethes thought a moment as if he was trying to remember something before his eyes grew wide. “Of course. I have read this book. A complete chore: the gnome was very full of himself. I had stumbled on it looking for something else entirely. Paid it no mind at the time. But clearly, we need it now.”

“Shouldn’t we do something besides chase a stupid book down,” Adrissa said, her tone clearly annoyed.

“Yes, you should,” Lolopethes smiled at the girl warmly. “You should get Taget oil, and if you are lucky morning glys.”

“Didn’t you send someone for that?” Rosa asked exasperated.

“We did…but it is two days ride, and it’s been only a day.” Lolopethes said shrugging his shoulders. “But nothing is certain. So, you should at least check on it.”

“Well then if that is—” Loramica started to say when she was interrupted.

“I found the tracks!” The Blade said as he stepped out from the shadows of the room.

“Tracks?” Loramica asked exasperated.

“I spent all night searching every alleyway and found nothing,” The Blade began. “But the rain washed away the clues. But then I found a building that stood near the southern wall, and it had a rope hanging from a rafter. I used it to scale down the wall, and I found what I was looking for, trampled grass and mud. The conclusion was obvious.”

“What are you talking about?” Loramica raised her voice annoyed.

“How they were helped into the town from the southern wall from the inside, without using the gates. Then they snuck to northern wall, and then followed us to the canyon to the north,” The Blade continued, ignoring Loramica’s increasing fustration.

“WHO are THEY?” Loramica bellowed in frustration.

“The Emerald Claw troops that followed us,” The Blade said calmly.

Doxx shut her eyes tightly and raised her hand, “Yes, I was about—”

Loramica raised both of her mailed fists and pounded the table. She swept off the maps and papers in a fury pacing like a caged animal. “Of all the things we DON’T need is a bunch of…zealots running around making things worse!” She ranted, as Lolopethes bent down and started to collect the papers. She then narrowed her eyes and stomped over to Doxx. She grabbed the old woman and lifted her a up to her eye level. “And you said they followed you? Like they knew where you were going?”

Doxx shrugged helplessly, “They were killed by basilisks before we could ask them.”

“There could be more in town,” The Blade said. “We should ask them.”

“Do you know where they are?” Loramica said her seething gaze now focused on the elf.

The Blade stood there quietly as if in thought. Then he just said “No.”

Loramica rolled her eyes and fumed, “I don’t have the men to do a door-to-door search and patrol the exterior. And even if we did, they would likely just change hiding places.”

“It is more likely someone is hiding them here or that they have a safe house here, Lolopethes concurred. “It would be difficult to find. And the men are already worn out. Best for us to conserve our strength. Actually…if they are following you,” and he gestured at us. “You might just draw them out, so you can ask them yourselves.”

“So, go to Cattbron. Find out about the oil. Find a book. Hope to find some flowers. Find Emerald Claw folks following us,” I said looking the old elf in the eye. “Anything else?”

“I think that is quite enough for the group of you,” Lolopethes said. “But you must do it with haste. We don’t have much of the medicine to prevent infection; and once we run out, we will be vulnerable. But, I fear that the townspeople’s frustrations may boil over..”

“No,” I agreed. “It’s only a matter of time.”

“Time for what?” Adrissa asked me.

I grimaced and looked at her, “I’ve seen situations like this in the Hive in Sigil. The townsfolks will be getting more and more desperate. With their kids dying, and the only cure seemingly in the hands of the soldiers, they may resort to…”

“To…what?” Adrissa pressed.

“Riots. Rebellion. Violence,” Lolopethes said calmly. “All in misguided frustration and desperation.

“We need to leave,” Bookshelf said resigned.

“I will see if we can get you some riding horses from the town stable,” Lolopethes said. “We cannot afford to loan you our steeds, however.

“Then stop standing around and get moving!” Loramica yelled, and never was I happier to make myself scarce. Lolopethes followed us out, and gave polite orders to some of the men, who simply grunted and headed to the town center to find us mounts. The sky above rumbled and all I could do was shake my head and hope that the weather wouldn’t turn.

--That went well. Back on the road.

I suppose.


I looked around the yard and sighed. Above me I heard the flapping of wings, and I watched a raven, with black feathers streaked with grey streaks on the wing alight on a roofline. It was the first bird I had seen in a while, not that I had been looking terribly hard for them. It looked like it was staring at me as it cocked its head from side to side. It sat there and pumped its breast and exhale sharply a number of times, before clacking its beak and taking to the air. As it flew over the church walls, there was a peal of thunder and the rain once again started to pour. I looked up at the clouds above, winced and said a silent prayer for us all.

We were going to need all the help we could get.

Session Notes:
This is a serious campaign as you may have noticed. But really one of the things that made it tolerable were the antics of The Blade. I probably don't do the comedy justice, but I try.

And now...lets see how Cattbron has fared since the last time we saw the town.
 

Wilpower784

Smug Bladesinger
Fantastic chapter. Loved the first part of it. Perhaps one of my favorites thus far.

I can detect a little bit of The Blade’s comedy in his writing. I can only imagine how amusing it must be to fully experience it in a session.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Fantastic chapter. Loved the first part of it. Perhaps one of my favorites thus far.

I can detect a little bit of The Blade’s comedy in his writing. I can only imagine how amusing it must be to fully experience it in a session.
The player does create very interesting characters, all of them fun to dm or play off of.

I should note also, that Bookshelf's past was interesting addition, as it explored how broken a lot of warforged could be. It took a lot of sessions to be comfortable with the direction they took the character, but honestly it led to some interesting stories.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise

The Road Re-Travelled - 2/8/2022​


I was miserable, and in good company. I knew that my equestrian skills could have used some work, and I knew that I was going to be very sore at the end of the ride. When I first rode to Denning, Wy had taken great glee in pointing out how bad I was. He laughed at me when we camped as my legs just refused to function after a hard day’s travel. He was kind enough to help me limp into my tent, and to lift me onto my horse the next day.

If it was only that, I could have lived with it. But as we left the warm humid confines of Denning and headed south, the weather changed dramatically. I thought when coming north, that the warm weather would have spread farther south, and that perhaps torrential rains awaited us, or that the road was going to be a mire of wet mud. But it wasn’t.

The icy conditions that I remembered in Cattbron had seemingly moved northward, but it wasn’t a gradual change. You could see a line of white stretching east and west as a low barrier of snow several hands high spread as far as our eyes could see.

“What in Dolurrh?” Sage asked. “Cattbron was icy when I left it, but the snow wasn’t this thick this far north.”

“This isn’t natural,” Rosa commented from her pony, reaching a hand past the snowline. “It is freezing right above the snow, and sweltering on our side.” She shook her head in disbelief, “That doesn’t happen. It’s supposed to be gradual.”

“It’s the eldritch machine’s doing,” Sage said. “I think what we are seeing is that the warmth of the south has been pulled by the machine and concentrated here. It is likely to be worse as we travel farther south.”

“We’ll need to take care with the horses,” Rosa commented. “They might be magebred, but the snow and ice can cause them harm.

Adrissa looked upwards at the thick cloud cover, trying to find the sun, “We will need to keep an eye out for shelter for the night. We can’t just camp in the open.”

Our options were limited, so we started to push our mounts into the thickening snow. Fortunately, while the snow was deep it was also solidly packed, allowing us to travel through a light layer of powder on the top. But as we travelled, and the light grew dim, the wind began to pick up. I had some winter garments, but none of the layers that I wore seemed to help, as the biting wind cut through me to the bone. I pulled on strands to try to warm my armor and I, but all I succeeded with was covering my breastplate in a layer of rime, which grew thicker the longer we travelled. I wrapped my cloak tightly around me, trying to secure any warmth I could.

But it was in vain. Darkness fell around us, and snow fell from the clouds somewhere above us. The wind picked up and, turning the conditions into a blizzard, obscuring my vision, even in the darkness. The horses nickered and whined as we plodded slowly forward as their manes became covered in ice. I shivered in the cold air, and I could no longer feel any warmth from the mount I sat astride. I pulled my cloak tighter and pulled part of it over my cheeks and mouth, as I exhaled trying to warm up my hood in a desperate attempt to find relief. I was certain that no one else felt any better, as all conversations stopped as we conserved our strength for the ordeal we found ourselves in.

Adrissa had taken the lead, and we all kept our mounts nose to tail so we didn’t lose each other in the flurries around us. Gossamer had been trying to fly above us and provide guidance, but the wind and ice that formed on his soft feathers were too much for him, and he begged to be dismissed into his pocket space. I couldn’t blame him, and for once wished that someone could banish me in a realm of darkness. It had to be warmer there than where I was. My teeth chattered and I squinted ahead, as ice formed on my lashes and the hair that hung limply at the sides of my face. The wind now howled around us, as it whipped through the valley we had made for, hoping to find shelter somewhere. The howling increased and echoed all around, when suddenly The Blade shouted:

“That’s not the wind!”

I shook my hair and brushed away the ice from my face and eyes. My lashes were now caked with frost, and I pulled my rod into my hand and gripped it tightly. I feared I would drop it into the snow and ice, as I could feel nothing with my fingers but the dimmest sensation of a cold icy ache. While nothing was dark for me, my vision was no better than anyone else’s as the white snow swirled around us. But as I peered into flurries around us, I could see dark shapes in motion, moving swiftly and circling. They grew and the howls now softened as the beasts approached, becoming low snarls and growls.

They moved swiftly, as we heard the hunters suddenly pick up their pace, bounding through the snow and ice. I was focused on a shadow ahead of me growing closer and I grit my teeth against the cold and pulled a strand together, when suddenly I felt the jaws close on my right thigh, piercing leather and ripping into my flesh. I screamed in pain, as the lupine form, pulled me from my saddle and threw me down into the snow, as my horse whinnied in terror. Landing on my back I focused and threw a dark strand at the shape that towered over me and let a miasma of darkness envelop it. The wolf howled in pain and my blood grew cold as I heard it speak to me:

“Prey has some teeth…it won’t save you!”

I heard around me, the sound of several people dismounting. Then I heard the twang of bowstrings, followed by the sound of arrow shafts sinking into meat and fur. Angry growls and yelps now surrounded us. Somewhere in the cacophony I heard the growl of a bear, and the horses squealing in terror. The bear roared and I hear loud thumps and tearing of flesh, as a wolf whimpered in pain. It was followed by a crack of wood on bone over and over again, as Doxx was making an impact somewhere around me.

I staggered to my feet, and I saw green flames in the white cutting air at first, and then the sound of steel sinking into meat and cracking bone. Even with the wind blowing all around I could smell the strong scent of singed flesh and fur. The grey wolf in front of me, lips were curled into a vicious snarl, as I could see blood dripping from its teeth.

My blood.

My legs felt weak, as I struggled to stay upright, and I stared at my foe who stood a head taller than I. I could feel blood pouring down my leg and into the top of my boot, its steaming warmth rapidly fading. I was panting through clenched teeth as I started to pull a dark strand, ready to loop it around the wolf. Suddenly I heard a whoosh and saw a bead of light streak by me. I held the strand back, not yet ready to release it as flames detonated around me, burning away the snow in the air into steaming vapor. But while the snow melted away, I could feel no warmth at all, even as I saw the wolf’s fur ignite and it hissed in pain.

“Prey brings fire to fight cold. Not enough,” and I saw it exhale a cone of ice and frost at me. Any warmth within me was gone as I felt my skin and limbs grow numb. A wave of exhaustion swept over me, and I nearly fell to my knees. My brows furrowed in hate when I suddenly heard to my left the sounds of another wolf charging at me. I quickly split the strand into two and cast a loop on my new attacker, and the second around the wolf acting as bait. I pulled the strands tight and pulled at the warmth of their souls, as if they would bring warmth to my frozen self. The wolf on my flank, tumbled and fell, snapping arrows that had lodged in its rib cage. The body cringed in pain for a moment, before collapsing on the snow. The first wolf growled at me and then lunged at me, its mouth opening wide seeking my flesh.

Belatedly I realized then my shield was still slung on my horse, as I instinctively raised my left arm to block the wolf. Instead of defending myself, I found my vambrace in the jaws of the wolf and felt its cold breath over my skin as its teeth sank into me. It suddenly shook its head and I found myself off balance, being tossed around like a doll. It threw me onto the icy tundra, and I slid on my stomach farther from my comrades, as the green flame started to fade into the white snowfall. It wasted no time and pounced on me as I curled up and covered my head with my arms, desperate to protect myself.

It snapped and tried to find a soft bit of skin, but it chewed on the metal of my vambraces, its teeth scraping by ineffectually. I glanced over to my left as I fought, trying not to be a meal. Then I saw a wave of green flame cutting into another shadowy figure that howled in pain. As it did so I pulled on a white strand and flung it next to its wielder, Sage. It landed and I then pulled on it sharply with my mind.

The wolf was about to bite again, and as it came for my throat, it snapped at empty air, as I pulled my body through the strand. The wolf had a look of confusion for a brief moment, when the sound of a thunderstrike went off, and the wolf collapsed as its forelegs snapped into two. I staggered to my feet as Sage twisted and turned ready to strike, when he realized I wasn’t a foe. He quickly knelt and raised his shield and pulled me behind it while shouting “GROUND!” I ducked and I saw another bead of fire streak past us, and I heard the wolves howl in pain as another detonation of fire roared around us, providing no warmth.

After the conflagration died down, I heard a couple more twangs from bows, a growl with a sickening crunch followed by the sound of a skull cracking open. Then all I could hear was the creaking of the warforged next to me and the wind whipping around us.

“I can barely see!” I heard Doxx yell. “Did we get them all?”

“I don’t see any moving around,” I heard Adrissa say.

“Same,” said The Blade. “I don’t even hear anything running.”

I stood up straight and looked around. While the wind had slowed, and the flurries were less dense it was still hard to see. But nevertheless, I could see no shadowy wolves stalking us. “I don’t see anything,”

“GROWF!” I heard Rosa say as a bear. She moved forward into the snow and sniffed the ground. She then turned and with an awkward motion, appeared to wave at us, as she loped into the blizzard.

“What is she doing?” Bookshelf asked, as the warforged worked to retrieve our horses and calm them.

The Blade stood there and watched, “I think she wants us to follow. Perhaps there are more.”

“I’m already torn up a bit,” Doxx exclaimed. “And wet and cold. I don’t want to find more.”

Rosa came back from the Blizzard and waved at us again with more urgency and waited.

“Let’s follow her,” I said. “She must have something going on in her bonebox.”

“Her what?” Doxx yelled at me.

“Her bonebo…head. Skull!” I yelled back.

“Let’s move,” Sage said as he took a firm grip of the reins of his horse, and moved through the snow towards Rosa. We each did the same, and followed the bear through the wind and ice, and approached a hillside. We circled around it until we were at the leeward side of it, and there was an exposed side of rock. In the middle of the rock face, it was a large hole, rimed with ice and leading down. The Blade, Adrissa and I moved to the entrance, and peered within. To my eyes it was a triangular cavern, which narrowed to a point deep inside. The floor looked to be strewn with loose gravel in the middle, but on the edges were clusters of leaves and needles, easily large enough for one of the giant wolves to lay in.

“Rosa must have followed their scent to find it,” The Blade said triumphantly, when he stopped and sniffed the air. “Or…that’s pungent. Even I could follow that smell with my nose.”

I stepped inside to get a better look, and quickly saw the source of the smell. Several carcasses lay off to the side of the chamber. I moved closer to them, and my heart sank at what I saw.

“It looks like two of Loramica’s men. They…didn’t make it.”
 


Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Caught up again :)

Still thoroughly enjoying the story (and finding out a bit more about Eberron). (y)

I love the setting in general, as the adventures that can be had are quite varied. The power groups have depths, and it isn't clear if a group is a friend or foe...with some obvious exceptions like the Lords of Dust or the Dalkyr.

I do know it isn't everyone's cup of tea, in the same way that Faerun isn't everyone's either. But I am enjoying the exposition for those who aren't familiar with it, in the same way Myrai isn't.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise

Illuminating Darks - 3/2/2022​


I knelt by the corpses and looked at the pair carefully. Their faces were puffy, and their noses had turned a deep black color. Their limbs were torn away from the torsos, but overwise, it didn’t look like the wolves had spent much time with them and looking beyond them were the much more thoroughly cleaned bones of horses. So, while their teeth while capable of piercing steel, they weren’t as good at undoing buckles. They killed them all, but spent time on easier to get to horseflesh, leaving the two men to rot. I brushed away the loose hair on their faces and closed their eyes for the final time before standing.

“I’ll bury them later, but they’ve been here a while, killed by these wolves,” I said sadly.

“They never got to Cattbron,” Sage remarked. “That means no oil is coming. It is up to us—”

“You!” Adrissa barked as she stomped over to the surprised warforged. “You hurt me!”

“I was protecting you,” he said levelly. “Or trying,” as he gestured at her. It was then that I saw she covered in blood on her left side. I moved over to her as she glared at the warforged and continued her tirade.

“Bashing me with your shield onto the snow is protecting me?” Adrissa berated the juggernaut towering in front of her.

“The winter wolves breathe frost that can kill a man—” Sage started.

“—Killed two of them and their horses—” Doxx pointed out interrupting.

Sage ignored it and continued over him, “And knocking you down allowed me to pivot and block the blast with my shield.”

“I can fight on my own. I’m not a child,” the girl seethed.

“I disagree,” Sage said flatly. “Even if you have been forced to grow up, you do not have the bulk of a fully grown human.”

Adrissa simply growled. Looking at her side, I found that one of the wolves must have snapped and tore into her right below the ribs. I put a hand on her side and reached within for a white strand, and I wove a lattice over the wound. Once complete, I pulled on it and gently snapped it. I could see the magic take effect as the wound closed and she reacted.

“Ow…that hurts,” she hissed as she looked down at me and then her mending flesh. “Why does healing hurt?”

“I…I don’t know really,” I admitted having never questioned it before. “Healing without magic can hurt too though, and it takes longer. It might be the price of speeding your body to heal.”

She watched as her skin closed, and the bruising beneath the skin faded. I then pulled on another white strand and used it to wipe away the blood from her skin and jerkin. Finally, I used white and dark ones, to mend her clothes and armor, fixing rents in the material. I looked up at her and met her eyes and saw that the dark thoughts that had been there moments ago had faded. They were replaced with curiosity, as she watched me magically stitch her back together.

“I…I…thought you only could—”

“—Killed people?”

She frowned and thought for a moment. “I guess. I’ve seen you do all sorts of things that caused pain.”

“Sorry that this was one as well,” I said with a small smirk.

“But you smile at doing both. Why?”

I turned away from her trying to hide my face from her. I didn’t realize that I was doing that, projecting an image of happiness during our fighting. I felt ashamed; it wasn’t something I should enjoy. The idea I was drinking in the violence like a cat basking in the glow of a sunbeam was repulsive.

“It probably was me gritting my teeth together,” I lied and I didn’t look up to see if she believed me.

“GROWfff…Anyone else with wounds?” Rosa said as the fur and claws receded and the halfling within emerged.

“Myrai has been bitten!” Adressa pointed at my thigh, where thick clots of blood had formed bonding my leather pants to my skin

“I can take care of that in a bit,” I said.

“I evaded the assaulting wolves with ease due to my honed skills,” The Blade said with a note of pride.

“That’s because you stand behind everyone,” Doxx said irritated.

“That’s the skill part,” The Blade retorted.

“Believe what you want,” Doxx said exasperated. “I did get some scrapes Rosa,” and Rosa moved over to the old woman and looked at her arms. “Still its cold in here.” I would have thought your ball of fire would have at least warmed us.”

Bookshelf stood there quietly for a moment before speaking, “I didn’t want you to feel it, so I controlled it so only the wolves would burn. But I can do something else about the cold. Gather close.”

The warforged walked to the center of the cave, and pulled out from a compartment on its chest, a yellow crystal. As we moved next to him, he started to mutter as runes floated to the surface of the shard. As Rosa healed the others, he continued to murmur quietly. Then I could feel the strands reacting to the ritual as the spell started to manifest

From the ground I saw what appeared to be glass shards grow out of the ground, and then from each other. It surrounded us in a perfect circle with Bookshelf at the center, and it continued to grow and arc above us. As it grew taller, the edge that touched the cave floor became thinner and smoother. The insides of the crystal glowed with a warm light, and I could feel warmth emanating from them as well. Eventually the crystal arced over us, until we were covered in a dome of crystal. As the crystal closed above us, it gave off a warm glow, and I could feel the chill in the air lessen.

Doxx looked around dubiously, “The warmth is nice, but the light will attract—”

“—No one can see the light from the outside,” Bookshelf said evenly. “You all can leave the confines. Just walk through it. I however must remain inside so the ritual will not be broken.”

Doxx’s face changed to one of approval, “That is a handy ritual.”

“I may wish to copy that one if you would permit,” Sage said.

“As would I,” I said. “But I’m going to bury these soldiers first. They deserve better, but it’s something.” The others nodded and helped me move the bodies outside. The snow was relatively deep, but I was able to push it aside with some light and dark strands, deep enough to lay them in. I recited the litany, once again and replaced the earth, and Sage was able to smooth the snow over the graves. We then returned to the warmth of the dome.

I unrolled my bed roll, sat, and then looked to my own wound. The pain was returning as my body thawed, the cold no longer numbing the gash. The leather of my pants was torn and shreds of it were now embedded in the thick scabs that had formed. Fixing my pants would be easy, but I needed to get the leather out of my wound so it could heal properly.

I pulled out the wand and tapped it, conjuring up a simple servant of force.

“E koka mai’i ia waho o koʻu sapa nila.”

The straps were pulled taut, allowing the buckles to be popped open. I undid the various belts holding up pouches, and my weapons, and laid them down next to my bedroll, except for a dagger in its sheath, which I kept in hand. Nearby Adrissa lay on her own bedroll and watched me quietly. It wasn’t long before the last buckle gave, and my armor fell away from my body. The back and front of the breastplate hung there for a moment, before drifting to the ground. As they fell, I focused and called forth Gossamer.

--“Nonono not the…cold? Its warm! Much bett…ouch. That’s a nasty bite.”

“Tell me about it. We’re supposedly safe in here, but well...go fly out of the dome and back in and check.”

--“And why would I do that?”

“Goss—”

--“—I bet its cold outside this dome.”

“It’s refreshing. Go on, you don’t need to stay out long.”

--“Fine…”
the tressym thought back and turned its nose up at me before flying out of the dome and the cave.

My armor now off, I unlaced the tops of my breeches, and pulled them down halfway down my thigh. I whispered in my native tongue, “Oka ea kai mai koʻu ʻiʻahu,” and the dagger left the sheath, which I dropped. I then slowly pulled them down towards my calves. The dagger cut the leather that was embedded in my skin leaving it in the wounds, while I was able to drop my breeches all the way down.

I sat down, and looked at the bite, and took the dagger that hovered in the air, I then slowly cut into the wound grimacing in pain. Then I gently pulled out the leather that was embedded there.

“Couldn’t you just heal it up?” Adrissa asked.

“Not always,” I said. “If the magic is strong enough, the wound closes and anything that isn’t supposed to be there just comes out. Things like arrowheads. But its better to remove anything that isn’t supposed to be there just in case.” I then pulled from myself a light strand and wrapped it around my thigh. I looped it around multiple times before I pulled on it, sundering it. I felt the warmth and a spike of pain, causing me to hiss behind my teeth. But the pain subsided as the wound closed and the scab like material fell away revealing smooth skin once again.

“Must be nice not having scars,” Adrissa said wistfully as she looked at my now healed flesh.

“Only on the outside,” I muttered as I sat down cross legged on the bedroll. I took the bits of leather from my wound and my breeches, and used light and dark strands, weaving around them like I did with my leg moments ago. But while it was easier to do, it took much longer to repair them. I focused on my breeches as the others spoke.

“We can cook up some of the wolves I suppose” Doxx said her face scrunched up.

“No need for that,” Rosa said as she focused a moment, and produced a cluster of berries in her hand, each the size of an acorn. “This will keep hunger away.”

“It is strange how these even help us,” Sage said as he awkwardly put a berry into his mouth and gnashed the fruit. “We can consume potions, to heal ourselves. But eating food is strange.”

Rosa thought a moment and looked at Sage then at Bookshelf, “So you can swallow things.”

“Yes,” said both Sage and Bookshelf at the same time.

“Food and drink right,”

“Yes?” Both said. “Why?” asked Bookshelf.

“So do…warforged…ever have to…” and Rosa waved her hand and leaned forward expectantly.

The two warforged looked at each other and then turned to Rosa again and Bookshelf said, “We do wave our hand like that. Usually as part of an incantation.”

Rosa grimaced, “No no, not that,” and she put her hand down as she tried to find a delicate way to ask the question. “Do warforged have to—”

“—Do regular maintenance?” Sage suggested.

“Nono…not quite, I mean—”

“She’s asking if you drop turds in the forest,” Doxx said exasperated. At the utterance, Adrissa coughed as she was caught in mid sip from a water skin.

“Oh. That. We do not,” Bookshelf stated simply.

“That makes warforged hard to track down,” The Blade said. “They don’t have patterns like dining out or needing to find a privy.”

I looked up from my work, confused, “You stalk people by the privy?”

“Oh. That. I do…sometimes,” The Blade admitted. “Easier to find criminals alone that way.”

“That does make tactical sense,” Sage said, nodding in approval.

“I’m sorry I asked,” Rosa said, her cheek flushing red.

I winced and nodded in silent agreement. My breeches were now repaired; the large rents from the wolf’s fangs, closed just like the wound on my thigh. I sat there quietly, steeling my resolve. After letting out a sigh, I reached over to my pile of belts, and pulled open the leather case, which held The Apocrypha. I held it in my hand looking at it with a small amount of dread. But there was no way to put it off; I needed answers.

I pulled out a stinger from my pouch and flexed. I felt the rush up and down my back as the ghostly wings flared for a moment, and the silver coin now glowed with a dim yellow light. I put the coin down on my knee, and then I pulled out tabs from the Apocrypha and looked for the section I needed. I then moved it so the section called “Rituals of Binding” was now illuminated by the lit coin, causing a single glyph in a stack to light up, and become readable.”

“What are you doing?” Adrissa asked, her head cocked in confusion.

“I’m doing a ritual to…find to guidance, or at least ask for it.” I said before correcting myself. “Well, more like demanding answers overdue.”

Adrissa nodded and said, “I have no idea what that means.”

I chuckled and smiled at the girl, “Well, I don’t usually ask for much. But I feel that I am owed an explanation. I will be in meditation to get it…I think.”

Adrissa shrugged, “Alright.” And she watched me doubtfully.

I sighed. The last time I did this there was a compulsion to do this; this was the first time I had tried to cast this intentionally. I focused myself and started to pull on strands, light and dark. I imagined them forming a circle around me, with the strands interweaved together. I pulled in every strand, every thread I had in me and then I looked at the text and said aloud.

“Mitate an texi ciro animun metanan.”

At the last syllable escaped my lips I could feel the world spin around me, as the mystical circle held firm. To my eyes, I saw colored lights, and the smells of spices in my nose as the weave started to tear around me, hurling my senses into darkness and then into a glittering expanse I had seen only once before.

I hung there in the open air, naked. My skin was covered as it was the last time in a lattice of silvery patterns. But now their complexity was greater. The fibers of magical power, the strands that connected me to the firmament around me, were thicker, and I could feel the power coursing through them into me. There were now more of them as well, with four white and four dark ones attached to me. I had barely a moment to think about it further, when I heard the voice again in my head, speaking in celestial.

“Element Myrai has returned. You are overdue to—” it started before I cut it off.

“Oh no you don’t. This isn’t about your agenda. Not this time. I’m here to get some answers,” I said aloud, even as the voice echoed in my head.

“Element Myrai should state the query in—” it started again, and immediately I cut it short.

“No. Not from you.” I said resolutely. The statement echo’d and hung there a moment before it replied.

“Who are—” it started again.

I crossed my arms and ‘stood’ in the air firmly as I demanded from the magical construct around me, what I wanted. What I needed now.

“I want to talk to my father. Now.”

Session notes:
It was overdue. Sorry about the delay here, but this part somehow wasn't jelling in timely fashion, and real life got busy.

The conversation of the warforged excretory systems used harsher language than this forum allows. I'm sure you can all handle it, like any other middle schooler does. :)
 

Wilpower784

Smug Bladesinger
Good update. Lots of neat parts all throughout it.

Additionally, I got the notification that it’s the anniversary of my account here, so happy 1 year anniversary to me reading through Myrai’s adventures.
 

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