Kast

Chapter 17 - It's a Trap!
Excerpt from Tharn's Journal

It feels so wonderful being back out in the woods. Last night I went on my first hunt in many weeks. After finding a suitable location, I waited only a short while before a beautiful stag walked past. My first arrow was a clean shot, and Kimya and I followed the beast as it wore itself down.

We found it stuck on a tree at the edge of a clearing, unable to jump high enough to escape. The clearing was filled with a rotting stink that I was unable to place. Kimya clearly knew better than I, as she was clearly worried, and would not approach the stag. However, I was able to kill the beast and remove it from the tree without incident.

As I dragged the stag away, a creeping vine snaked its way toward me, and I only just spotted it in time to drop my burden and jump away. The smell turned out to have been caused by a shambling mass, a pile of rotting plants that exists only to devour. Basically it is the natural equivalent of the creature we encountered in the sewers. This time, however, I only had Kimya with me.

After a fierce battle, we finally took down the creature. To be sure it wouldn’t cause any more damage, I began cutting it apart and dispersing the pieces, only to find that it wasn’t yet dead! After a further brief struggle, I actually killed it and made sure that it was truly dead. Kimya, being her playful self, grabbed a flower from the creature, which I braided into her fur as a trophy from our kill.

I managed to get my kill within about a half mile of where I expected our new camp to be, and left it there to avoid having a clear path to where we were sleeping. Before returning to the camp, I broke off a piece of an antler. I think I will carve it into a little figurine.

The following morning, we laid our trap, using a slow-acting poison provided by Tenaius planted in the corpse of the stag. We then went in search of a good ambush location. Once we found a suitable one, we trapped it with poisoned caltrops and waited.

Just as we thought we had missed the gnolls, they appeared. Daevon baited them into our trap, and the fight was on. Most of the gnolls proved to be merely a nuisance, but three distinguished themselves as true problems. One was a skilled combatant, and nearly took down several of our group. Another first appeared as a giant spider, and kept us busy with its magic. Finally, there was a grey-furred magic-user who flew above the confrontation with a pair of wings. How curious that we should encounter that same gnoll once again…

We were able to defeat the gnolls with no casualties, and through a combined effort prevented the grey-furred caster from escaping. We even managed to capture their shape-shifting shaman, who grudgingly provided us with the location of the main gnoll camp, and even that there are three command camps within the larger one.

The gnolls had with them a group of farmers they had captured and a great deal of money that they had stolen from the locals and from the thieves we had encountered the day before. To help the farmers, we sent them home with a large portion of the money.

Today we finally scouted the camp. Now with two implements of flying, Telsyn and I were able to scout different areas at the same time. I went north-northeast, and saw several towers, a storehouse, and large kennels where the gnolls were breeding hyenas, presumably to grow their army. Just before returning to camp, I saw a port the gnolls were constructing on the river. Telsyn also discovered a location covered with blood and demonic sigils. Well, more covered than the rest of the camp.

Perhaps the most interesting and disturbing thing we saw was an excavation site. The gnolls have hundreds of slaves working on digging out the ruins of an old city. I can’t imagine what horror they hope to find, but I think we should carry out our mission before worrying about the ruins. The others don’t seem to agree, but I’m sure we’ll come to an agreement.

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Chapter 16: The Best-Laid Plans for Hyena Men
Telsin

The task would be daunting, even for a team of experienced monks. Somewhere in the Gnolls’ army camp hides the Fang, the lynchpin to the swelling horde. How could this group, largely composed of clumsy humans, find and eliminate this chief without falling to the army he’s created?

The army is camped in the Ashlands: open terrain, providing little cover for infiltration. They’ve ceased their progress towards Respite, and seem content for now to simply send out raiding parties for supplies and to calm the beasts’ bloodlust. And, unfortunately, take prisoners: clearly these are the humans that the Fang is transforming to grow his ranks. The Fang is wisely not leaving the safety of his army.

Various plans were concocted. Caleb’s divination powers are too limited in scope to cover the miles-wide camp. Some fool proposed we allow ourselves to be taken captive, as an easy one-way ticket to the Fang. Ultimately we decided that an invisible flyover for recon would be the safes first step.

But of course, complications arose. En route to the Tillerson family farm (a recent victim of a raid that we could track towards the camp), bandits struck. They were an undisciplined lot: an enslaved wizard, a handful of nobodies, and the one leader who seemed willing and able to fight. He fell quickly, and the wizard escaped. We convinced the remainder to show us to their (recently raided) cache and then leave to join the king’s army.

We tracked the gnolls that had raided said cache, and found that they weren’t just carrying twice-stolen goods. They had taken prisoners. Though its disappearance may increase alertness in the camp, and following a party of prisoners could be our easiest way of finding the Fang, clearly we could not take the chance. We have decided to launch a rescue mission. Tenaius has a supply of poison, and gnolls are known to scavenge: a treated, partially-eaten animal corpse in their path should make them easy pickings.

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Chapter 15: J.R.R. TrollKing
Tuiz

So far, most of what we’d found in the sewers was pretty much what you’d expect, right? Trash, trash monsters, cave-y bits, running water. The weirdest bit was the faefolk’s little kingdom. It gets weirder, trust me.

But first let’s start with the weirdness of the fae. You remember I said that Queen Christmas gave us presents when we passed through, but told us to open them later? Well, right after we got cleaned up after the fight with the trash monster, they started blinking like we should open them. Which is, like, five or ten minutes after we got them? Maybe she wanted us to prove ourselves in one fight first? Who can tell with the fae.

Anyhow, we opened them up. I got a nice blue cloak that’s surprisingly tough; it should help keep me a bit more safe. Some of the other gifts were useful, like Daevon’s boots, Tharn’s quiver, and Fourth’s belt. Others seemed like useless junk, except that they were magic, like Caleb’s little eagle statue and Telsin’s ring. And of course Lucky’s rock. It sure was nice of Queen Christmas to give us these, and while I said bad things about the timing before, I wish more folks would give out useful gear before the fighting starts like she did.

I mentioned the sewer would get weirder. We left the clean water to go into what the fae called the “drumming walk” and we could see why since not far down it we heard a very regular set of footsteps. Then we saw what the fae had called “clanks”. Now, dwarves would have been weird to find. Mechanical dwarves would have been really weird. Mechanical dwarves with one big eye in their belly instead of heads would have been bizarre. These things were mechanical dwarves with one big eye in their belly instead of heads with wings. Super weird. There were about a dozen of them, and it seemed like they were cleaning the tunnel.

The fae were clearly afraid of them, but advised us to play it cool. We tried following slowly behind the clanks hoping they wouldn’t notice us, but they did. A group came over and… looked at us. Didn’t say anything. But they didn’t cause us any trouble. I should mention that they had javelins and swords and things, so I was real glad they didn’t want a fight. We kept slowly following them instead of trying to push past, and soon enough the fae led us through a side door.

The room we came into… it was a huge round room with a giant glowing blue crystal just floating in the middle of it. After only having the light that Daevon cast, it was nice to be able to see a bit better, but damn. Did you know that sort of thing was under the city? I did not. It makes me worry what else the Necromancer King might have left hidden under there. Speaking of which, at the bottom of the room were more mechanical guys, including one that looked bigger and meaner than the others we’d seen. We followed the fae down around the edge of the room and out another door pretty quickly.

The clanks clearly hadn’t been to the next hallway, because it was covered in a gross layer of slime. It wasn’t too bad to walk through, but it apparently caused trouble for the fae. We found Twiggy, one of the missing fae, stuck in the gunk. The squirrel, Poppy’s animal companion, was there too. Which is good, because the squirrel was fighting off another fae we hadn’t met before. He called himself Nyx, and apparently he was from a competing fae court, the Bitterroot. Tharn wasted no time shooting at him, and he ran away pretty much right after. So now the Bitterrot Court has a reason to hate us, which isn’t good. Might not be a problem, though; the Shining Throne fae told us that the troll king was guarding a secret entrance to the Bitterroot Court that they could use to ambush them. I hope they did.

Speaking of the troll king, Twiggy told us that Poppy had been taken by minions of the troll king like we thought, and that his place was near. Sure enough we found a door covered in danger signs in Sylvan and Guttergab, and the fae said they wouldn’t go any farther, since their weapons couldn’t hurt the troll king. So we went in without them.

Sure enough (we thought), there’s the troll king. Big guy, fancy plate armor, huge sword. And a crown floating over his head, to show he’s the king I guess. Tharn took a shot at him maybe trying to catch him off-guard, but it seemed to just vanish before it got near him. This has us worried. Then a beam of heat shot out of the crown nearly frying us, which had us more worried. Daevon rushed up to draw his anger, but that’s when we found out we were all wrong. This thing couldn’t even get angry. When Daevon got close to the troll he went shluck like he ran into a wall of thick oatmeal or something. Daevon told me later that the right word to use is “gelatinous”, and that other people have found these things before. Anyhow, it turns out it was actually this giant clear cube that was trouble, and the troll was just a statue.

So, now that we knew what we were dealing with, we went to town on it. Lucky blasted it with spells, I yanked Daevon out (which is how I learned it’s made of some sort of mega-acid that stings like hell), then chopped it with my glaive. Tharn actually pulled out his sword after the first arrow seemed to vanish, but eventually decided arrows were more effective, and he had no trouble hitting it.

I should mention that Poppy was there like we hoped, and after Caleb got him conscious Telsin rushed him to safety. Which was good, because that cube didn’t stand still while we wailed on it. It could make some kind of jelly arm thing, which it swung at me, which hurt a lot. Worse, one time it slid quick across the room right at us! I managed to jump out of the way, but Caleb didn’t. He got caught deep in it, and passed out pretty quick. (Don’t worry, we got him out and he was okay.) Also, the crown kept shooting beams at us.

I figured the crown must be what was making it so angry, and managed to rip it out with my glaive. Sure enough, the very next pair of shots from Tharn made the thing explode into harmless goo without the crown to hold it together. Phew.

Lucky us, there was even a bunch of cash hidden in the room, along with some potions and magic horseshoes. I don’t know if someone rode a horse down there, or what. It wouldn’t have fit very well. Anyhow, with our work done we decided to retrace our steps and get out of there back to some fresh air. Firo stayed right in the “Troll King”’s room, to try to trick the other fae into thinking it was still a dangerous place. The trip out was pretty easy, but it was late by the time we got out, so we called it a night. Tharn went with Caleb, who cured his poison the next day.

Now that the threat to the fae kingdom was dealt with we got back to the business of protecting the real kingdom from gnolls. We caught a ride on Isaac Hull’s boat upriver to Woodbean. On the way we could see some of the impact the gnolls had had, with some refugees heading towards Glissana and some soldiers riding north.

Once we got to Woodbean we thanked Isaac and set about looking for horses. There weren’t any to be had, though. One merchant said we should ask with the couriers, but as we were heading that way I spotted a shifty-looking guy tailing us. I walked up to him and asked him directions, to get a better look and see how he reacted and so on. But then it turns out he’s with the Queensguard — Tenaius he said his name was. I don’t know why he didn’t just come up and introduce himself. But anyhow he says he has horses we can take, which is good.

But before we left, since I was thinking of the couriers anyhow, I figured I’d send you a letter. You know, just in case. Take care. I hope the new place is nice — maybe I’ll get a chance to see it once these gnolls are dealt with.

Your son,
Tuiz

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Chapter 14: Sewer? I 'ardly know'er!
Daevon

Pixie Protection Protocol (Patent Pending) Prescribes Pecuniary Penalties, Preventing Precis Promulgation.

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Chapter 13: up all night to get Lucky
Lucky

Let me tell you, it was quite a spectacle…

Your little halfling father, barely 3-feet tall, decked out in blue and gold full plate, dancing on the water with the lovely Natalie Ash, nearly twice his height and draped in her stunning silver gown, reflecting rainbows…

Wait.

Sorry.

I got ahead of myself. But really, it was a spectacle! We were dancing in this fae glade under the moonlight. The glade that somehow magically existed within Bradenford’s empty castle.

Well, except it wasn’t really empty at that time because we were there… More like, it was usually vacant but was hosting the Election Ball following that famous first election tie. At the time, we didn’t actually know Natalie would tie Eimead for the governorship — frankly I’m not sure anyone knew a tie was even possible at that time — and instead were just celebrating the freedom to actually have an election and choose our direction. As you’ve learned in school, it was occasionally awkward and weird as everyone figured things out, but things turned out surprisingly well.

So yeah. We were back from our first great adventure, the part with Marrow I told you about before, and enjoying a respite in the city. Not in Respite this time, but Glissana. The city. Got to visit people, do some shopping, some exploring, and we happened to be in town for the election and subsequent masquerade ball party.

The party was the place to be. Almost all the local nobles were there, mostly in fae finery; Mordren, Baliff, Jones, Stoneriver, Haustchka, Chime, Leyflower, and of course Ash. The Norris twins, Lady Ortessa and Lord Aetil, Lady Kara, Oddwald, Conarer Durgling, Lord Valcont Renar, Levansine, Arleyand, Eimead, Yewellar, Lady Schan, Queen Glissana, Robbie Flay, Dracaena, Alder Gallvi, Diusaso, and so many more.

Oh the costumes were wonderful! Our number included my Crittease finery, plus an Angel, magic halo and all, a wolf/human pair, a simple black panther, and a shiny thunderbird. Then there was Natalie’s stormy rainbow number, a clever apparatus of kwalish costume, a spotless pair in magic shifting black and white, at least one succubus with the horns and wings, a pirate, a coyote like the deus from stories, a hydra, a stag, Brigit, and even a beauty who seemed to be wearing just a set of drifting clouds. OH! And there was even a black swan to go with Tuiz’s white one!

It was a good party. Tasty eats. Good music. Interesting people. Cool magical effects. And then the whole thing came to a screeching halt.

Turned out the hydra costume was chuck full of assassins who had it out for this one noble guy. Despite our best efforts and the combined efforts of several other guests, the poor guy was poisoned and didn’t make it. But boy did the hammer come down on the assassins. Some of them even survived. Turned out it was just some petty noble’s squabble. I wish they’d chosen a better time rather than ruining the party.

What?

The point?

You don’t just want to hear me reminisce about the olden days?

Well fine. It is late. Three notable things came out of our night at the ball. Firstly, we met a bunch of remarkable people and established the beginnings of some very useful future relationships. Secondly, I fulfilled my part of a previous bargain with Flay. And thirdly, we met Queen Glissana herself, in secret, and accepted our mission to the north, wherein we crushed the gnoll Fang.

But that’s a story for another day.

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Chapter 12: Clues, Blood, and Justice
Tharn

Breaking and entering isn’t how I planned to start the day, but life is full of surprises…

Today was spent helping Tuiz solve the mystery of his friend’s death. If this were up to me, I would work with the authorities (in this case, the Queensguard) to try to gain as much information as possible, but Tuiz and Caleb don’t agree. Therefore, we gathered information in our own way.

When we arrived at Miranya’s home, I was surprised to discover that Lucky, on top of his magical abilities, is a skilled lockpick! He was able to easily gain us entry to the living quarters, where the others looked around for some clue as to what might have made her a target. Tuiz found a series of diaries that Miranya had kept, and Lucky found a bronze medallion with imagery showing an iris and a heart. Unfortunately, the diaries are encrypted, and no one recognized the symbol.

After our foray into crime, we rushed to the Caved Inn to meet with Mattrim for lunch, as planned. He offered to send a guide to take us to his “guild hall” in the destroyed section of the city. Apparently that area is fairly dangerous, and the guild hall is hidden.

Once Mattrim had left, we were approached by a suave man who introduced himself as Robbie Flay. While that name meant nothing to me, he is a very influential man in the shadowy side of the city. Those of us more familiar with the city told me that he is leader of one of the large rival gangs, The Crypts.

Robbie came with a proposition for Lucky and Telsin. He would provide us with information if they were willing to create a diversion at an unspecified time and place. The diversion would be used as cover for stealing an item. Telsin refused, but Lucky agreed. I expect only trouble from this arrangement. Robbie told us that Miranya had been working for Natalie Ash’s campaign, giving us some much-needed direction in our search.

After that encounter, we went to the Ash campaign headquarters, where Tuiz discovered that a rival candidate had set someone to follow Miranya.

From here, we split up. I spoke with Tuiz to try to learn more about the wounds on Miranya’s body. From his description, they seem consistent with a large wolf. However, wolves would not be comfortable in a heavily populated area like a city, making a random attack highly unlikely. Given the apparent intent behind the attack, I suspect a werewolf, or some other intelligent beast.

Meanwhile, Telsin trailed two errand-boys from the Eimead campaign, trying to discover if the killing was possibly politically motivated. He was unsuccessful, but Lucky was able to track down the man who had actually tailed Miranya. Given that he was telling everyone who would listen, it wasn’t particularly hard. His testimony ruled out political motives, as he had discovered and reported that Miranya had not been working on a secret campaign strategy.

In the evening, we went to meet our guide at the intersection of Redheart and Cloverfield. After he did not arrive for some time, we made our way into the ruins without him. We were soon set upon by an Ettercap, who we defeated with the help of a few sprites. After the victory, the sprites helped us find our guide, who had been killed nearby.

Fortunately, Tuiz was able to remember the way, and led us to the guild hall. Once inside, we were ambushed by a robed cultist and a group of zombies in Blood Hunter garb. While Lucky was dealing with the zombies, one of them darted out, and revealed himself as a living assassin, and a quite good one. We emerged from the struggle victorious, and were able to find Mattrim who had fortunately survived.

Mattrim took us to a chamber deeper within the hall, where we met with other members of the blood hunters. They told us that we had just defeated members of the Nadir, a group that seeks to restore the necromancer king. They had discovered that Miranya was working on a formula that would improve the senses of the user. The Nadir had her killed to prevent her work from being completed, but fortunately, she had already sent her findings to Tuiz.

The last few pieces of information we were given were that the Nadir had been aided by someone in the nobility, and that we had made ourselves targets. We should expect an attack, likely at the ball. I am certain that the next few days will be quite interesting.

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Chapter 11: Murder on the Rue Arrant
Tuiz, in a Room in the Lilith Memorial Library

“Let’s start with what we know. My mentor, Miranya, who just last week was making alchemical breakthroughs, was found dead in the street a block from the hospital. It looked like she’d been mauled by some animal — she was covered in gashes. Her sleeve poison had been used, but her dagger wasn’t drawn, so she must have been caught by some surprise but not totally. The satchel containing her notes, that she almost always keeps with her, was missing.

That’s about all we know. Let’s consider suspects.

I think we can rule out a random killing. A beast wouldn’t have taken her satchel, and a thief would have taken more of her stuff. It was probably one of her enemies.

It could be one the necromancer king’s undead lieutenants. The brutality and exposed location doesn’t seem like Pendergath’s work, though it could be that he’s trying to send some message with how he did it. It might be Sable — he’s never liked the blood hunters. Though I wouldn’t expect him to be working by day. Maybe it was one of Woodheart’s twisted experiments? It could be any of them.

I guess it could be related to this gnoll trouble? We ran into that band on the plateau, and word in the city is that gnolls in the north are getting almost organized. Maybe whoever is leading them (it could be Brunt… hmmm) maybe whoever it was sent a gnoll assassin in to take out a threat.

It could be one of the Crips. There’s rumors of more fighting than usual between them and the Bloods lately. I didn’t think that sort of street fighting would reach up to Miranya, but it definitely could be.

It could have been political? The election is coming right up, and some might kill over it. We happened to run into both Eimead and Natalie Ash earlier in the day in the streets, separately. Eimead’s bastardly enough to do something like this, but I don’t know what he has against Miranya, unless he killed her just to get at me, which doesn’t seem likely. His connections with the merchants of the city certainly give him a chance to hire someone to do something like this. Natalie Ash is the sort of fancy pants noble who doesn’t think the lives of little people matter, so she could have done it, but I don’t think she had any motive. I should check if Miranya was getting involved in politics, and maybe got on someone’s bad side.

Those are all the suspects I can think of. I suppose we can quickly run through alibis. It seems like she was probably killed while we were in Yewellar’s shop buying masks. But in case it was earlier than that, let me refresh my memory of where we went, going backwards. Before Yewellar’s we were shopping for magic items in the Codex’cade, at the Broken Binding and The Quill is Mightier. It was there we bumped into Natalie Ash. Before lunch we were shopping for clothing, which is were we saw Eimead.

Probably we should look for witnesses. It was the middle of the street in broad daylight, and it didn’t look like she went down quietly. We’ll also see if Matrim knows anything, or can tell me more about what the blood hunters have been up to. Assuming Caleb’s street rat friends find him and—.”

Lucky pokes his head in the door. “Hey Tuiz, are you talking to yourself?”

“What? No. I mean, yes, kind of. Sometimes when I have to think about something tricky it helps to talk it through.”

“Alright, I wasn’t judging you. Sometimes I talk to myself too. But you probably should get some rest, it’s been a rough day.”

“I will soon. Good night.”

“G’night.” Lucky left.

Tuiz turned his attention back to the glaive in his lap. “So anyhway Arglarnorogh, that’s what I know. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get to stick you in the belly of whoever did this.”

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Chapter 10: The Road Home
Telsin?
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Chapter 9: Ritual of Balance
Daevon

The primary goal of this précis is to accurately capture the Ritual of Balance used to ultimately banish Marrow from our plane of existence. We intend to explore not only the gross facts within that purview but also the greater significance of these events vis–à–vis those theories most well presented in [?],[?], and [?].

Our primary subjects of consideration are those considered in the previous monograph [L].

Pre-Dawn Pre-Ritual

Details suppressed due to the hour.

Minnow Out Evil

Pun based record destruction.

Marrow and Friends

Too many enemies to easily describe.

Possession

A russian nesting doll of pain, as la [Rr].

Denouement

Endings but French [PL].

Concluding Remarks

The conflict was so epic as to prevent simple description, hence the lack of description presented above following the tenets of [SB].

[SB] Stinson, B. Legen….
[LP] Le Peu, Pepe. Everything is Fancier when Frenchified.
[KR] Kukla, R., Kukl, R., Kuk, R. et al. It is What is on the Inside of the Inside That Counts.

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Interlude
Excerpts from the People v. Caleb Windseeker

“To understand why I did what I… what we all choose to do, you have to understand the whole story, the bigger picture and what we knew was at stake. The story makes the most sense out of order, when it makes sense at all, but you have to keep in mind: we always thought we were the heroes.

The day was ours to prepare how we liked for the coming Ritual that would cleanse the world of Marrow’s corruption. I chose to seek the wisdom of an old hero because the path I walked back then seemed so unclear to me. I told him of my troubled past, my family lost in the liberation day battle, growing up with my adopted sister, the abuses we both suffered at our… father’s hands…. How one day I confronted him and the storm of anger inside of me broke and he was struck down by powers I didn’t yet understand. I told him of my flight from my home, of struggling in vain to control the storm still raging inside of me. I told him of my wanderings in the wilderness and stumbling upon a forgotten shrine to the Deus of Winds and the monks there who sheltered me. They showed me how to channel my anger, how to think about the world, and gave me my purpose: Windseeker they called me. Roshi offered me words of comfort and guidance before he decided to visit a nearby river and spend his last day singing. He was a better man than we suspected.

Meanwhile my companion, Tuiz Burdenbearer, had a mysterious conversation with a shapeshifting thunder dragon in disguise. He told the dragon he left his home seeking vengeance, that he faces danger to protect his friends, and that he would risk everything to win his war against the Necromancer King’s fallen lieutenants. He suddenly woke from this dreamlike conversation when a thunderous crack echoed across the plateau.

Lucky, another companion of mine, awoke in far different circumstances! He once told me his harrowing tale of finding himself captured by savage gnolls, unsure if he was dreaming. He cleverly escaped his bonds and fled the warcamp, but was dragged back by their beast companions. He bravely offered his life to save another prisoners, but the grizzled Gnoll leader, dark of fur and wielding a stolen glaive, mocked his chivalry and executed the other prisoner without remorse.

Earlier that same day…. What’s that, councilor? Yes, I do realize I’m telling the story out of order, but I find it makes the most sense this way…. For the last time, no councilor! That’s not a plea of insanity. As I was saying, earlier that same morning, Telsin, began an intense game — well he described it as ‘tag’ — with a stranger shroud in shadow. The two darted away with quickness that only a lifetime of training could supply. The wild chase ended in part test part combat as Telsin faced an ancient apprentice of Roshi, and heir to his earthsong style, snatched out of time by the Necromancer King’s cruel magic. Their fierce battle creating the earthshattering crack heard by the others. After defeating her, she offered to join him as a student or teach him her secret technique. Telsin chose to take her as an apprentice and the two returned to Roshi’s hut.

Next we tell the tale of Kimya, whose curiosity nearly got the best of her, when she stalked a crystalline butterfly to a cavern linking this world to the place of Earth. Lucky, curious as well, followed and the two solved a strange puzzle of many hued crystals and were rewarded with a large diamond war hammer. Upon leaving the cave with their new treasure, they were ambushed by gnolls. Lucky turned to flee into the cave only to find it’s passage now sealed. Kimya risked her live (and very nearly lost it) escaping to warn the others of Lucky’s capture. Limping back to Roshi’s hut she encountered Tharn — her lifelong friend and companion — who had noticed Lucky’s disappearance and was tracking him to the cave she had only just fled.

Tharn displayed his mastery of nature skills to gather the rest of the party and deftly lead them through a difficult mountain pass to the gnoll camp where out companion faced almost certain death. Tharn chose to attack the gnolls quickly yet without mercy and to a beast ridded the world of those who threatened his friends and companions. A silver-furred gnoll leader who wielded chain whip escaped on batlike wings when the tide of battle turned and the dark-furred gnoll captain was slain in combat. I myself blacked out during the fight and my companions tell me I was lucky to survive. I guess we all were… At the time we were hardly troubled by the red fang sigil on the gnoll’s armor. Overcome with relief to find Lucky still alive I would guess.

Knowing our hardest trial awaited in the predawn hours we began our weary walk back to Roshi’s hut. Do you understand a little now? They were more than friends to me, we were more than family. Our bond, the risks we shared, what we would eventually …sacrifice… All of it has to mean something! It has to!"

Caleb’s testimony is drown out by the angry cracks of a gavel as the Judge silences him and quells the emotions running through the courthouse with a stern look.

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