The Continent of Morkane

April 15th
A new job for the Syndicate?

I’ve barely enough strength to write this entry this night, as exhaustion and dreariness have taken me again. Yesterday was… interesting. After weeks without work I find myself up to my ears in it, but for whom I can’t be sure. This strange, disappearing figure certainly isn’t a member of the guild, and accepting his job, alone, is enough for severe punishment. We met the man in the Court of Thieves, of all places, after following an elderly town drunk. It must have been impatient recklessness that sent me on that path, for I would never do something so careless in days past. The Order always states: Information will bring you life, it’s absence your death. But really, who has any information on the Court of Thieves? No one alive has set eyes upon that place. Until yesterday, I thought it to be only a legend, but there it was, underneath my very feet for years. Now, I have only a trinket from its throne, a scrap of paper with some scribbled names, and many questions.

But perhaps even stranger than the legendary site may have been it’s inhabitants: Drow. Drow in this city? It didn’t take much for us to realize that we were their targets, and even less to initiate a battle. And fight we did. Three dead lay at our feet, but as to why they hunted us I cannot say. I’m beginning to suspect our enemies may be more than we’re expecting, or worse – what we can handle.

I’m sorry, dear journal, I have forgotten to elaborate on the many “we’s” and “our’s.” Vimik, the Riverboat Rumshack’s bouncer, has accompanied us on this mission, apparently for the same silly reasons Aelith and I accepted. Yet another move the former me would have been appalled to see, but he has more than proven his worth, despite his obvious shortcomings (i.e. dumber than a mule).

Even as weariness seeps into my bones, I fear that I cannot escape into dream like Aelith does now. I am still plagued with nightmares, ones that I fear are all too real. I still see their faces, twisting and writhing in the blackness. I still feel the heat of the sun, burning into my skull like a branding iron. and I still hear the howls and screams of that eternal night, the blistering desert, and myself, waking from the nightmare. I’d give much to have these visions leave me forever, but I can feel that place sinking into me. I know its dark magic is pouring through me, and I can feel it building behind my eyes and fingers. Why fight it now? Perhaps… perhaps giving in will rid me of these nightmares. Perhaps I am just tired.

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April 19th
The Necropolis

Another sleepless night. At least this time it was from something other than nightmares. Now, it’s pain, more pain, and my own pungent odor of burnt flesh. Also, pain. To lie on my side is agony, and indeed sitting for extended periods is beyond me, so I have forced myself to avoid the would-be comfort of my bed in search of a little less sting. I’ve hobbled my way down the stairs away from Vimik and Aelith and am writing you now, dear Journal, in a strange eerie quiet I have never known from the Riverboat Rumshack.

I’m hoping I don’t wake anyone while I sit here at my favorite table, but in truth I know that shadowy place has made me strangely quiet, strangely deceptive; strangely something I’m not. I can light my way now with the magic it gave me, but today (or yesterday, at this hour), I’ve realized that my growing power, whatever it may be, is not enough. Perhaps it’s enough for the Syndicate, yes, but not enough for these strange enemies Aelith and I battle daily now. I suppose I’ll start from the beginning.

I don’t know if it was the excitement of our task at hand, or if all those idle months had made Aelith and I careless, but we traveled into the depths of the Syndicate with Vimik in tow. We claimed he was no threat, but it was a lie. Aelith and I knew that even we were now threats to the cautious Syndicate. We were there for information, but not for The Order, not even for ourselves – treason. With every casual question I asked, my muscles tensed, waiting for a slip-up from Aelith, myself, or heaven forbid from the new giant meandering his way through the corridors. But the gods smiled on us and we “escaped” with our lives and our answers. To the Necropolis.

Excuse me, dear Journal, my body reminds me of the rest of my story. Forgive me while I move to relieve the pain.

That’s better. Where were we… ah yes, The Necropolis District. Though Zane pointed us in the direction of the district on the curious note of several grave-robberies (of all things), I felt that perhaps this little adventure was an unrelated dead-end. Nevertheless, we set out in hopes of finding something that this “”/campaigns/the-continent-of-morkane/characters/shen" class=“wiki-content-link”>Shen" might find useful. With no hope of asking any questions of the Alderman in his keep, a stout, bombastic clerk pointed us instead in the direction of the graveyard (again, of all places) for a potential rendezvous with the head-of-the-dead himself. An odd place, to be sure, but who am I to make comments on other’s oddities? I have a miniature dragon now soul-linked with me, an ever-growing allure to the darkness, and risk my life daily for an elusive stranger that can walk through walls. Oddities, indeed.

Ah, speak of the Baatazu: it seems my pen scratching has awoken that very soul-linked beast. I suppose, despite my new gifts of silence those shadows have wrought me, they’re of no effect to one shaped by its darkness. Excuse me, dear Journal, while I make sure he’s comfortable.

We set about exploring the graveyard, but our endeavor was fruitless until Dimmil got caught in a bit of “trouble” (which doesn’t seem to effect him much now, as he lies curled and asleep at my feet). How no one noticed a group of very large spiders roaming around the districts namesake is beyond me, but I didn’t care: those monsters were about to kill my familiar. With much ferocity and a little ingenuity, we squashed those enormous bugs, and freed Dimmil from their web. And then, the Alderman appeared.

I was, of course, suspicious of his odd timing in an already odd location, but I believe, dear Journal, I have already touched on the subject of oddity, so I won’t bore you again with my skepticism. He beckoned us to follow and, wary as I was, walked boldly into yet another potentially fatal trap. I suppose we Gnomes are not well known for our inherent common sense. Plus, it was late. Yes, it was very late. We marched to his keep where we were finally able to have an audience with the powerful man. Tharesh Anduriel was his name, and he was as ready as we to get to the bottom of the murder of Banin. Our lead must have been a bit misguided, but any help we can now receive on the cold trail of the alderman’s murder is well received. He explained to us his bewilderment of the grave-robberies, stating that those that have been robbing the Necropolis of it’s dead have not been interested in jewels and other fineries. The only thing missing from the sites were the bodies, replaced instead with giant, disgusting spiders. I decided to ask the glaring question of “Who on Earth would do such a thing,” and Tharesh responded bluntly, “An evil cleric.”

Well, dear Journal, does this put us ever in a bind. Evil clerics don’t survive long in this city, not when one of the highest order of religion in the city is run by the good and vengeful ones. No, evil clerics are too dangerous and rare to be an option. Rare and dangerous… not unlike the Drow we encountered in the Court of Thieves. Curious, dear Journal, curious.

I suppose I’ll conclude then with the source of my injuries, and my humiliation. We made our way back from Tharesh’s keep, winding our way through the dark and twisting streets. Arriving at the Riverboat Rumshack, we turned in for the night, weary from the battle and the wild goose chase. Minion kindly took us in for the night (in the special way he often shows kindness) and upon the morning we ventured out to find ourselves an evil cleric. Instead, we found an evil sorcerer. An evil DROW sorcerer. And spiders. Great.

Though we defeated the Drow, a well-placed fireball on his part brought me to my knees. Aelith and Vimik came out unscathed, but I was killed but I was badly burned. My spells were barely enough to combat him, and I felt ashamed of this power in me that so many have coveted. It was worthless, useless, weak in comparison… And I will not let it happen again. The shadows scare me, but that is the vein of power that I must tap into to reach my potential. I am reminded of my failure with the sting of my skin clenched around this quill, and another day lost to my injuries. Minion put us up again after what happened, but we try his patience. I’m going to prove myself to Vimik, and Aelith, and even Minion. I will find that cleric and I will take him down… Tomorrow.

And until then, dear Journal, I will rest my quill.

Ku’Elsif

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So Far

1. Drugar Stronghammer, evil cleric in league with Drow, is defeated and imprisoned.
2. Poor District renovation vote passes. Poor District begins to flourish. Shen appears, congratulates, and rewards the gang. He seems distracted, and points the gang to a small village that was the most recent to be destroyed by an incredibly big creature, and tasks them with investigating and stopping the occurrences. The gang becomes moderately famous in town as folk heroes, particularly in the poor district.
3. Kadtranach Episode. The Aequora Three track and defeat a city-sized lizard, piloted by Gnolls and an evil Hound Archon. Surrounding towns are saved. The Three release the creature from it’s planar bindings, thereby returning it to its home plane and infuriating a powerful mage-run trade commission that the gang doesn’t stick around long enough to find out much about.
4. The gang returns to Aequora to even greater renown. Now even the city aldermen, reluctant at first to embrace the heroic outlaws, champion the group. The group finds, however, that their meddling has brought scrutiny and attention to the poor district— a fact that their previous employers are not happy with. Minion is missing, and his bar is abandoned.
5. The gang infiltrates and subsequently fucks up the Aequora Syndicate. Minion is rescued and the town now regards the gang as official “consultants”, gifting them a captured estate.
6. Time passes as the gang waits to hear from Shen. A month later, he appears frazzled, weary, and distracted in front of their home. He makes up for the gang’s back-pay, and gives them all pearls that can be used to contact him. The gang and he are familiar with the Drow incursion taking place across the continent, but even he is at a loss as to how to stop it or why it’s happening. Shen suggests that the gang investigate a small nearby village that had been occupied by Drow. Shen promptly leaves when he runs out of answers for the gang’s questions.
7. The gang considers their options, and instead scours the area for a way into/out of the underdark. Finding one, they investigate it, and then head back to town to gather supplies.
8. During the course of their outfitting, a cold-fire elemental breaks loose into the streets and begins attacking the townspeople. Despite the pleas of the mages trailing in the creature’s wake, the gang kills it, thereby infuriating yet another powerful group of casters. Aelith doesn’t give a fuck. Not a single fuck.
9. The gang descends into the underdark, encountering Driders, and strange Drow. The encounters are not the most illuminating, save that they seem to hate each other, and that the Driders possess some kind of portaling ability. Diplomacy is attempted, but rebuffed. Intimidation has little effect. Weapons are begrudgingly employed.
10. A large skirmish between the two factions draws the attention of the team, who firmly entangle themselves in the fray, drawing the ire of all involved. The gang puts them all down.
11. After the fight the gang is witness to an attack on a drow refugee camp. Creatures unfamiliar though seemingly powerful destroy and kidnap many of the Drow with ease. The gang is bewildered, pausing for the night to weigh options.

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Bardic Interlude 1
The Green Wagon Pub, Windshire, Four Days North-West from Aequora

Panting a bit, a young gnome clad in a bright red doublet and shiny, shin-high leather boots thrashes out the final chord of a song on his lute. The sparse audience of beer-gutted barflies lets out a resoundingly mediocre acknowledgement, some even taking the effort to clap in a very nearly unsarcastic manner. The stage, small even for a performer of his stature, creaks a bit under the gnome’s feet as he steps over to a stool near the wall, upon which rests a healthy-sized mug of ale. The gnome sighs as he scans his lackluster crowd. Then he frowns. The muscles in his face ripple as he grits his teeth. He snatches up the mug, tilts it back, and downs its contents in a few mighty chugs. A wry smile spreads across his face as the last drop of beer rolls off his chin an onto his lute. He calmly steps back to center stage— the achingly quiet room filled only with the groan of the floor boards. He pops his knuckles, and begins strumming softly.

Come gather ’round, so you can hear
Lend a coin, and lend your ear
I sing of those who know no fear
the brave Aequora Three

Outlaws, brigands, each of them
taking coin and taking gem
but to this role do not condemn
the brave Aequora Three!

For happened they, upon a plan
by an unknown, evil man
to take over a peaceful land
of folks like you or me.

First died a city alderman,
and for this they would not stand
they took to the streets, and so began
the tale of the Aequora Three!

Questions, questions, all around
but no answers could be found
but to the task they were bound,
our noble Aequora Three.

Into a graveyard our team dared,
perchance to spy a suspect there,
but trap was sprung and teeth were bared
upon our daring three!

Spiders came from front and sides,
with venom and enormous size
but they knew not it was unwise
to attack the Aequora Three!

When the foes were all removed
investigations continued
’til at last they did conclude
where they needed to be.

In Drugar Stronghammer they did find
a cleric venerable and kind
The man of Cuthbert did not mind
the questions of the three.

But then when they suspected he
a trap was sprung, oh could it be
a holy man of bended knee
had bested our dear three?

Dropped 50 feet by cleric’s hand,
upon hard rock they soon did land,
and darkness closed upon our band,
in catacombs underneath.

And all too soon they did greet
those that they’d been sent to meet
More spiders, there to make a treat
of the Aequora Three!

So big that this whole room they’d fill!
Bigger than the lumber mill!
Bigger, yes, and bigger still
than ever should there be!

Yet each of them was felled!
By hammer, arrow, stone and spell
All sent to a spidery hell
by the Aequora Three!

Then from the catacombs they sped
with Stronghammer thinking them dead
to expose the cad and have his head,
for trifling with the Three!

With Nesha Quickblade our team met,
with her their very own trap was set,
to snare the cleric in their net
and bask in victory.

And soon the plan was carried out
with Drugar’s forces strewn about
the team captured the vile lout
and let the Sheriff see!

And when all was said and done,
the case was made, the trial won,
because of Aequora’s favorite sons,
the great Aequora Three!

Dripping with sweat, the young bard belts out the final line in time with his audience— all on their feet and clamoring for more. “Thank you! Thank you!” He shouts into the din, as waves of applause crash across the tiny stage.

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So Far pt. 2

1. The group attempts to parley with the downtrodden and recently attacked Drow. They offer healing and assistance to the Drow, who in turn invite them to speak to their leader in his large tent.
2. The Drow chief explains that there has been a schism in the Drow culture. They, and many other Drow across the continent, have abandoned Lolth as their goddess— dying their hair black with spider remnants to reflect this. The Drow leader speaks of a new goddess, far across the planet on a continent called “Sen.” Those still loyal to Lolth now hunt the infidels. Lolth’s will seems to have converted many loyalists into Driders, either as punishment for allowing society to crumble, or as a boon to aid in retrieving and punishing deserters. Some Drow caught in the middle, wanting neither to worship a new goddess, nor one who would turn them into abominations, have abandoned the Underdark entirely. The group believes this to be the cause of the recent influx of Drow in surface cities. He refuses to go into detail about who or what their new goddess is, or how they came to know her.
3. When the group begins to get too nosy, the Drow leader suspects them of espionage— perhaps on behalf of the Lolth loyalists. Regardless of the motivation, he does not trust the group, and attempts to kill them with a self-destructing tent of some kind. They narrowly escape the trap, only to be greeted by a hail of arrows in the Drow camp.
4. The group escapes the ambush, and makes their way along the massive cavern wall to a raised cave, where they can monitor the camp from relative safety.
5. A portal opens up behind the group, spilling out a Retriever demon and some Vrocks. In-between the demons and their prey, the group is attacked, but comes out victorious.
6. The group considers tracking the Drow, but instead decide to make their way out of the Underdark. They travel for days in a disturbingly empty and enormous pitch-black underground ocean.
7. The group finds a tunnel that leads out of the Underdark. On their way home they visit a small farming settlement where Drow had reportedly made their home. An awkward exchange ensues, with the Drow showing no hostility, and the group not knowing how to proceed. The community seemed to know about, and not be concerned with, the Drow presence there. Eager to relay their experiences to Shen, they attempt to contact him once they return to Aequora.
8. The group repeatedly attempts to contact Shen using the magic pearls he gave them— but to no avail. The only response they get from the pearls is the sound of a massive battle, heavy breathing, and then nothing.
9. The group, fearing Shen may be in trouble, seeks local scrying methods to track his position, but nothing available to them can even begin to detect him.
10. While the group was preoccupied with the Underdark, a small cadre of would-be adventurers had set up camp outside their home. Sif seems irritated by them, and they go largely ignored by the group. When they ask for guidance, Aelith tells them to train themselves, hone their skills, and make sure no one messes with his house.
11. Sif researches powerful divination magic. He comes to learn of a temple called Ikah Dorumvir— an ancient axis of incredible divining power. The group travels to it.
12. Finding a city built up around the temple, the group make their way to a temple entrance. They are barred from entry. They consider forcing or sneaking their way in, but figure any such attempt would be seen coming, and instead formally apply to speak with a member of the temple— a process that would take upwards of a month.
13. While the group deliberates on how to proceed, they are visited by a priest in shimmering white and gold robes. He identifies himself as a priest at the temple, and offers the group a means to be seen by one of their order much sooner— perhaps even the head of their order. The group is sent to investigate what has happened with a trade route to and from the city. When asked how seers such as those at the temple cannot discern what is happening, he reveals that their efforts result only in images of wilderness, fog, and mud. Whatever force is there is making a concerted effort to not be detected by such means. The group accepts the task.
14. The group finds evidence along the path of many ambushes set up for caravans and traders. Little, if anything, is taken from the carts, and most contain only food staples, clothing, and other mundane goods. More and more of these caravans are found, but who or what is responsible is not immediately clear to the group.
15. The group is attacked by a pack of wolves commanded by a powerful druid. They battle, and the druid nearly escapes, but is killed before he does.
16. The group returns to the city, and is granted entry into the temple. They meet the head priest, the incredibly powerful Gorin Tuyek . They explain who they’re looking for, and he agrees to look for him. Even a being as powerful as he can’t pin down his location. He realizes that the person they are after, Shen, was a childhood friend of his— around 1000 years ago. He shows the group in-depth visions of their history together, how they had worked together in a thieves guild, and were sent on a task that went horribly wrong.
17. Gorin reveals that the only way to find Shen is to align The Aruspex Gem, deep within the sealed caverns below the temple.
18. The group agrees to align it. In the sealed-off section of the temple, ostensibly a massive ancient library, they encounter powerful spirits, shadows, and wraiths, as well as a huge Ooze creature.
19. In the underlying caverns, they encounter the mysterious and powerful maelstrom pool that granted Gorin his powers and rended his friends to pieces. The gem, however, is nowhere in sight.
20. A being begins communicating telepathically with the group. Somehow it knows the most minute detail of each of the group’s lives. It tries to convince them that it could find their friend for them if they could lower the protective barrier around the caverns. The group is not in the mood to bargain.
21. The creature attacks the group from the maelstrom, incapacitating Aelith, and very nearly ending Ku’Elsif as well. An impossibly strong blow from Vimik completely vaporizes the creature, however. They align the gem, and immediately find themselves within Gorin’s enormous chamber again.
22. The chamber is abuzz with priests casting spells on the building itself. A group of them restores Aelith, and Gorin sets about finding Shen.
23. Gorin locates and teleports a wounded, unconscious Shen into the chamber. Priests restore him, and he springs to his feet as if under attack. Once he gets he bearings, he thanks Gorin, and is baffled when he realizes who he is.
24. Shen reveals to the group that a massive Infernal army has overwhelmed an island called Strand Ellis, south of mainland Sen. He fought off as many as he could, but the capitol still fell. He believes a planet-wide invasion to be the ultimate goal, but cannot know for sure. When he asks Gorin to use his considerable powers to warn the planet and root-out infiltrators, Gorin refuses. He notes that has already broken his vow of neutrality far too much just by interfering. They argue for some time.
25. Distraught and aimless, a weary Shen emerges from the chamber and speaks with the group. He has no plan, he has no task for them. He knows he must do everything he can to stop the coming invasion, but he does not know how to start. He tells the group he must speak with his god, Polisideus, personally. He does not know when he will return, or how the group should proceed without him. He thanks them for saving his life, and says he would repay them if there weren’t more pressing issues at hand. The group tells him to alert them if there is anything they can do.
26. Figuring the best place to study for, prepare for, and warn people about the coming invasion, the gang decides to go to Ora Novum, the largest, most populous city on the planet. They teleport there.
27. The gang realizes that magic functions differently within the city limits. Teleportation, flight, and likely other uses of magic are closely monitored. Chaffing a bit under this, the group seeks entrance to the “Under City,” a lawless, quarantined section of the city hundreds of feet beneath the city streets.
28. The gang cases a construction site, figuring it the best means of ingress to the Under City. They return at night and disable the spotlights on the work area and make a break for the tunnel, but are spotted by the golems that are there working.

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September 5th
The Descent

Am I going mad?

Aelith is missing, we’re facing down a quiet invasion, we travel through perhaps the most dangerous part of the most dangerous city on Morkane, and I act as if possessed. Why? What possible reason would cause me to be so blind, so stupid?! Is it desperation? Is it psychosis? Is it… something worse?

We have retired for the night, settling again in another festering cesspool of an inn, but for the trouble I’ve caused today, Dear Journal, I expect little better. I have finally slowed my breathing, stilled my heart, and have now sunk into contemplation, and yet I continue to find myself empty-handed as to any explanations. Every conclusion is wrought with more puzzlements: I exposed Vimik to uncertain death, nearly opened fire on innocent civilians, and most reckless of all, returned to the accursed Plane of Shadow. I descended into the maw of the most dreaded place of my nightmares…

Dear Journal, I am afraid.

Was I truly certain that Aelith had somehow been pulled to the shadows, or was it something else? Had that place somehow enticed me to it, drawing me in as a flame draws a moth? To ask the question makes me tremble. In the past, it nearly did drive me to madness, but today… has that madness become me? Nothing now but confusion and questions.

Even the events leading up to the descent were scattered and disparate at best. We met with the head cleric of the church of Polisideus, hoping to find some lead as to our missing friend. Though my memory often fails me, I was certain enough of it to ask his audience, remembering vaguely some mention of his god from that aloof stranger who hands us down his orders and vanishes. I suppose I have you to thank for jogging that memory, Dear Journal. You have often been helpful opening doors to the past and unknown. I hoped perhaps the cleric might offer the same help in the continuingly pressing matter of Aelith’s whereabouts, but of course he was of little use. Really, what can you expect from clergymen, Dear Journal?

From the temple we headed north to the chasm that is settled amid the undercity. I had become convinced that somehow his kidnappers were moving underfoot. In hindsight, I do not blame my companions for questioning that paranoid conclusion. If I had heard the same thing from Aelith, or our new tag-along friend Tivis, I would have had them gagged, but it somehow made perfect sense to me. Deeper underground. Further into the darkness. Where else could he be, I remember thinking. While the obvious answer “any where else” was poised on the sensible tongue of the halfling, I felt… assured, almost as if something were whispering certainty into my ear. Something…

Yes, I am afraid.

I am afraid of what I might become, descending down this path of reckless abandon and hedonism. I sense a time, soon, when the friends I travel with will be destroyed by my indulgences. My hand trembles even now at the thought that that has already come to pass…

I am afraid because… I am not. Convoluted, I know, Dear Journal, but setting pen to paper tonight might reveal some truths on matter. It has always been what you do best.

With assuredness that my conclusions were unwavering, I took the hands of my comrades and shifted to the Plane of Shadow. With nearly a year behind me since I left this place, its memories linger all too well. The familiar scent of ash and mildew immediately filled my nostrils, and how could I forget the smoky tendrils of its twisted, mirrored landscape? I was reminded of all of the terrible sensations of my first arrival, but this time… this time was different. I tasted its poison and I did not flinch. I was not afraid of that place today, and that terrifies me most of all. I swore I would never venture into its darkness, but when I stepped foot onto its warped soil, I longed for it again. Despite my weakened state from ripping open its portal, I felt some how stronger there. I felt a sense of completeness. I felt… I cannot believe to admit it, but I almost felt safe.

No. I must be rambling again. Forgive the stream of thought. I have been running on high alert all day, and I find it hard to stay focused. I am both angry with myself for my actions, and anxious for my friend, not to mention the burden of this quest: informing the world of the danger to come, even though the Aequora Three is still seeking that answer to that very thing themselves. We have found none in the City of Wonders, nor its underbelly, and time grows shorter by the hour.

For now, I can only hope my desperation is staved off long enough to not interfere with our missions, be it the immediate finding of Aelith, or the far reaching mobilization of the world’s nations. I hope tomorrow bears better fruit than the last, but tonight, Dear Journal, I already dread the worst has befallen us…

Aelith, where are you?

Ku’Elsif

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September 6th
Upon the Mountain

I’m putting the term “patience is a virtue” on trial, Dear Journal. It is certainly a different tactic than what I am used to these days.

As expected, the target I painted upon my allies yesterday has drawn fire. The reminders of that mistake now surround me constantly. Because of my carelessness we have been brought low, now in the service of yet another stranger. No longer do I have the luxury of waving my hands and getting results, not if I ever wish to see my friend again. Patience is the only tactic I have left, and I do say it does not agree with me. Not in the slightest.

Tonight we are comfortable, high up in The Kretian Mountains to the south. It’s been a long while since our company has slept contentedly (though I cannot speak for the halfling… or the perpetually content Dimmil, for that matter). It’s strange we find such a comfort in the most inhospitable terrain we’ve ventured yet. Well, second most. My life-long friend may even now be steeped in danger, but I too find myself at ease, restful for once. Restful at last.

Kretia is a long way from home, Dear Journal: I suppose you would like to know why we’re here? It may not be an elegant story, but its loose ends gnaw at my conscious, so it bears telling. Following the only lead we had to Aelith, we have stumbled into the dept of the slave-trader, Bridrin. The snake uses what he can to leverage his advantage against us, purposely keeping vague as to any information on Aelith. Treachery is to be expected at this point. Nonetheless, here we are, acquiring another of his slaves to add to his collection. He seeks an important frost giant in these mountains by the name of Gungir. Apparently, the beast is something to be desired, enough so to lead a group of adventurers to his doorstep. I’ve been battling my urge to obliterate this “prize” and his gang of thugs since we arrived, but I bite my tongue until it bleeds. I will not suffer endangerment of this company again, not to undermine this extortionist at my whim alone. I cannot risk Aelith’s safety like that. Not again.

We parlayed with the brutes, disguised as heralds of the gods. Vimik presented the Jarl with the collar given to us by Bridrin, hoping to “test” his will, but our bluff was called and we were dismissed from his halls. He was arrogant and confident in his own abilities, so it seems subtlety will not get the slave-trader his puppet. As we lay down to sleep, we discuss a new angle of attack. The halfling believes we sowed the seeds of discord with our last visit, so tomorrow we attempt to reap that bounty. Tomorrow, we will go to war with their minds. Results, at the very least.

As to these loose ends? Dear Journal, I can’t help but wonder about Bridrin’s plans with these savages. Gungir is suppose to be of great influence, but in a region as isolated as this, so far from Ora Novum, what use could he be to the slave-trader? Why send us, people who certainly cannot be trusted (for very good reason) in the stead of one of his puppets, who are certainly capable of accomplishing this goal themselves? We were lured into a place that left us vulnerable, so why did he not attempt to collar us? He mentioned preserving resources, but he acquires these resources for just such a task: why does he work so hard to protect his puppets? What could he be doing with them? This task seems too risky to trust to strangers, and too… odd to be justified in those risks. He is up to something, though I cannot say what, Dear Journal. I think, for perhaps the first time, the Aequora Three has an enemy on our hands the likes of which we have not encountered before. Even the Illurian’s powers were not as mysterious, or as far-reaching as Bridrin’s.

How quaint. His name seems to bleed its ink on your page, Dear Journal. I cannot help but give a satisfied smile to the thought. He may be an enemy of great strength, but he is still just that: an enemy. He will fall just like every enemy before him. We may work towards his unknown goal tonight, but soon he too will bleed as your ink does, dead under my foot. And as I do now, I will smile.

Patience, Dear Journal… patience… I never did care for the word.

Ku’Elsif

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