Footsteps of the Fallen

My Place in the World
It's always darkest before the dawn, or so they say

Willpower is clearly not my strength. This is a fact that has become abundantly clear over the last couple of years. Fighting gibberling mouthers and Shoggoth, these aren’t my strengths. I’ve found myself feeling rather useless as of late.

The other night though, I felt a resurgence, we disembarked from Aeroglyph to do battle with Imperium troops, something I am adept at, what we found though, was far more sinister. We encountered some sort of mind controlling demon. Just my luck. Though to my surprise, I was able to withstand it’s initial mental assault, others were not so lucky, it became quickly apparent that Garok and Sir Allamonde were being commanded by this foul creature.

Corian became the clear target of our agressor, keeping him tied up trying to evade our stronger melee combatants. The responsibility fell to me to lead the assault against this creature. For the first time in many months I found my place in battle, I did as much as I could to coordinate the rest of the party, Isabelle tried her best with her bow, but after landing a few arrows to no effect, she joined me in flanking the beast, giving me the tactical advantage I needed. Adora was able to stay out of immediate danger long enough to recover her spellcasting and take the fight to the demon.

We must have struck a nerve at some point as the demon eventually fled. But not before forcing Corian to slay Sir Allamonde. Even Corian, an elven with a hatred for humans and a newfound penchant for chaos showed remorse at this unfortunate turn.

We quickly returned to Aeroglyph to decide what to do about Sir Allamonde. It has become clear that Adora and I are going to have to return to leadership roles in the group and keep a keen eye on Corian, with this chaotic curse on his head, he has become somewhat more unpredictable.

On a more personal note, I have not heard from my father for some time. This is both troubling and distracting. Hopefully I can learn what’s become of him, for good or ill without causing us to deviate from our current calling.

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Adora Gets Emotional
How much grief and loss can someone take in a lifetime?

Watching Corian infused with chaos was almost painful. His eyes dark and cloudy, the energy emanating from all around him…Adora knew he was battling inner turmoil. He struggled to maintain balance with who he is and who he may become and soon, she feared, it would come to a gruesome end.

Her mother was elven and Corain was her closest link to that world.
Traveling and spending years with Corian made her realize just how much she missed her mother and her elven heritage. She worried about her daily and inside she felt torn between worlds of who she was, who she is, and who she should be. She wondered if she would ever see her again.

Corian had risked his life to help them seek the answers to make the ancient city fly again and she sensed he struggled to contain the chaos that was taking over him. He would probably die, being connected to the chaotic beast, the Shagoth, and it was hard not to break down in tears realizing that even the most powerful beings in her country could not help.

The very selfish part of her wanted to find any means possible to help him find a way to kill the horrible creature, spend days, weeks, months, trying to find any way around what they were told must happen…death… so he could live happily ever after but she knew that his sacrifice, if he should choose to, would be the most logical and heroic thing anyone could do for their friends and the country. She hated it, hated the world, and hated life for being so unfair….but she knew it would soon come to pass and she knew that once again, she would lose a friend in this seemingly never ending battle to save Alluvia.

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A Half-Orc Ranger, a Shy Thief and a Drunk Monk walk into a bar...
...and walk out as members of the Sovereign Blades

In our effort to raise the city of Aeroglyph, we’ve decided that recruiting new membership was necessary, due to a terrible sense of foreboding and visions at Ulduvai. Sir Friedmont has been, as usual, less than amenable to our decisions regarding the group, which seems odd given his desire previously to not actually take up full membership, and instead just “ride with us”.

We returned to Creesk and found a few interesting companions, about halfway back we discovered that we were being tailed by a Half-Orc, I get the distinct feeling that he would have been much more difficult to notice if we’d not had Adora’s keen eyes. He seemed a bit out of sorts, perhaps it was the fact that we didn’t kill him on site for being what he was. While generally quiet and reserved, I think that he’ll prove to be an excellent fighter in the days to come if he keeps his wit as sharp as he keeps his axes.

I befriended a very shy and nervous soldier named Isabelle who appears to be quite adept at mechanics, specifically, the disassemble of them. While she may be lacking in social graces, I have no doubt that here technical skill should come in quite handy in our attempts to fix Ulduvai or at the very least salvage some components.

And finally Sundari, the quite innebriated monk that Ortan made friends with. I can’t help but think that Ortan was scouting the tavern looking for his replacement, though no one could really replace our beloved drunken Dwarf, I think he may have found someone who will come very close. While we were sad to leave Ortan in that tavern, I’m sure we’ll see him again, and Sundari should prove to be quite formittable on the battlefield, assuming she can stay intoxicated long enough to finish the fight! Hah!

We had one last recruit who turned out to be much more… adept than the rest, her name was Brianca and while she only stayed with us a short time, she left quite an impression. Though I do begin to wonder why she seemed so… disappointed? with us.

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Magic

Magic, it’s an amazing thing. I think us Alluvians take it for granted sometimes. It has always been a part of our lives and from time to time we are reminded just how powerful it can be. I have used magic since I was a child living near the woods with my mother. My rune magic also allows me to delve into magics not normally known to druids. Nonetheless, I have always had a deep respect for the magic of this land, even if I don’t always understand it. Sometimes it can allow us to heal our friends, sometimes it allows us to kill others, and sometimes it allows us foresight for events to come.

Standing at the door, about to enter the room where the wizard will try to make a deal with us, and divide our group, we all suddenly have the knowledge of things to come. The paladins death, Flynn’s seeming betrayal to the group, and what appears to be a demon.

With the recent death of Bedevier, we realize we need more help. Our group is low on supplies and manpower so we of course argue at first and ultimately decide to head to Kriesk.
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Having a hot bath for the first time in several months feels like bliss. The Inn is packed and soon we will be meeting downstairs for some dinner and to discuss recruitment for the Sovereign Blades. I realized how much I missed civilization. I could do without the glares of some of my fellow Runeguard sisters but it is to be expected. I head downstairs and find the group ordering drinks and food. Though we are weary, we spend the night discussing and planning for the days to come.

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Restless sleep

Will they ever find the way to make Aeroglyph fly again? Will she once again join her sisters in battle against the Imperium? How many of them will die to defend Alluvia?

Adora tosses and turns in her sleep. She opens her eyes as she hears Sir Friedmont Allamonde scream during his slumber. She sits up quickly and stares at him through the dark and her eyes widen at the sight before her eyes…

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10 Years Past

10 Years Past

The wind came in again, biting and hard. The boy huddled in the wolf-skin clothes he’d been given. Father said his mother’s people did not wear clothing made from men, only beasts slain would shield them from the elements. He walked behind the man, placing his feet in the snow-prints he left, feeling small and cold. “Not much further,” he heard the wind carry his father’s voice back to him.

Suddenly, as quickly as the wind came, they were there. All he saw was black rock, from east to west across the horizon, reaching up towards the sky. Words had not done it justice, as he strained his neck upwards and could not see the top above the snow flurry. Being a boy, he could not comprehend how such a structure could be built, whole mountains would have to be leveled just to construct a part of it, and he knew from his lessons that it stretched almost entirely across Talin’Tyr, guarding their border from the barbarians to the north. No army in no country to hope to assault, and yet the wild men of the north had done their best for thousands of years. What sort of stuff must those men be made of to throw themselves at that bloody wall, with no hope of victory?

They reached the foot of the wall, and there were grayish, taciturn looking buildings surrounding a center holding. It was one of many of the keeps of the Black Watch. Men in solid black dressings rode out to meet them, and guide them back to the keep. The Black Watch was not held to the laws of the country, being separate but equal, but it was well known that they respected them. The men themselves were quiet and somber, and the boy wondered in all their lives in the cold had made them as hard as ice. Men nodded to his father as he passed, and looked quizzically at him as he walked the hard road. It made him miss his sister.

“I’ll not have you and your sister up in the North at once, should something happen. And I would hardly place you both in the old bastards care, he might just decide to refresh old wounds and take you captive, and I’m not interesting in carrying spears over the wall again.”

They passed many men on their way through the keep to the rigging on the other side. He was surprised to see a fat man walking along, and nod knowingly to his father. Such men did not last within the Black Watch, it was said, as either the north or the brothers would get a weak one. Still, as he waddled past he seemed at home. Many of the men training seemed young, and though some smiled, most scowled or ignored them. Criminals, he knew, were drafted into the brothers if they did not have to stomach for death. It was ironic that some of the worst kind of men, rapists and murderers, were the ones guarding their countryman’s safety.

Suddenly a huge man, a mountain of flesh surrounded by black brothers, came upon them. “I heard you were here Kel’Thane,” his low and gravelly voice boomed. “But I didn’t think you’d sneak through. My feelings are hurt.”

His father laughed, a rare sound, “The day you have a feeling is the day the wall comes crashing down, Sargent.” He seemed to notice something on the man’s outfit and corrected himself, “Captain, it seems. You’ve come a long way since I was causing trouble around here.”
Stone’s face twisted up bitterly as he spoke, “Not my doing. You can blame General Tiberius. Says he needs men he can trust running the keeps. I keep telling him he’s wasting his time on this; I’m better training those boys down there.” He looked down, so far down, at the boy and squints, “They keep getting worse every year, I swear by Arakxx. Is this pup yours?” When his father nods solemnly he chuckles, “too scrawny for a brother. You should consider the Maesters.”

They laugh and speak for a few minutes of things long past that they seem to miss, even as sad as things seem when they speak of a friend who they say is gone. After a bit Stone moves on, saying he has business to attend to, and they continue. “Stone is a good man, and a good friend, even if he was a son of a bitch. The friends you make while in your early years aren’t like any others, remember that there is a value to the time you’ve known a man, and don’t make the mistake of breaking bonds for little cause.”

They came to the wall, and had to ride a system of pulleys to the top. There were few gates on the wall, and difficult even for the brothers to open, to dissuade their enemies from considering them a weaker point. Because of this the brothers must travel over the top if they wished to travel beyond into the north, a rare prospect.

When they finally reached the top the clouds seemed to part, and everything for many miles was clear as day. It was beautiful in a way, how a tool of war provided such insight into the world itself. The boy imagined seeing home from here, in Talin’Tarathia, and seeing his sister gazing out towards the wall. He regretted that she was upset with him; she had wanted to go with him to the North. There was nothing to be done, though; Father was not a man to be cajoled into getting one’s way. He wondered idly if she was looking out at him as he was to her. He felt like she was.

As they approached the way down he put his mind to the task. The rigging was relatively safe but one slip or misstep and it would be hundreds of feet down, a sure death for any man. They rode in silence, his father seeming lost in thought from their meetings in the keep. At the landing, the black brothers departed, leaving them alone in the wilderness of the north.
They traveled for a half day, not stopping for rest, eating on the way. This journey was the first time he had not trained in war in four years. He would need what strength he had if they were attacked, father had said, and there were lawless men such as Skylar’s Mercenary Band. He knew, through hearing servants speak of it, that his father was held in irons once at the mercy of Skylar, and that he bragged of the fact to this day; but his father did not speak of it.

Finally they came to a clearing, where fifty wild men stood in silence. The one in front was a greybeard, tall and of noble bearing. His eyes, though, were hard as ice as they approached. “Where is the girl?” he asked in a harsh tone.

“Far north, beyond your reach. You shall have her in two years when I come for my son, and not sooner. If he is dead, you shall not have her. If he is hostile to me, you shall not have her. If he is marked, you shall not have her. Know and remember these words, old man, or you will come to rue them.”

The barbarian scowled, “You take my right to my granddaughter as surely as you took my daughter. The day I rue is the day I released you, cursed boy, and may the gods punish my foolishness for letting you take her into your wretched land.”

His father stood tall and imperious, “Curse me all you wish, Father, but I have told you I had no hand in her death before all of your gods and mine, but you will not listen. I do not care to listen to your insults and baseless accusations today any more than I did when I marched the Black Watch to your door and demanded you cease them years past. You will have the girl as well as the boy, for two years each, just not together.”

His father leaned down and turned him to look into his face, speaking deliberately. “You will go with your grandfather now, and for two years forward. It will be difficult to live as they do, among the trees and the wolves, but you are made of sufficient strength for this. Know your people and your father and your sister think of you daily, and that you will return home one day stronger for the experience. Show these men, these savages, what it means to be a man of Talin’Tyr, and take from them the strength they do have, for it is great. Go now, boy, and remember that I will come for you.”

With that he pushed the boy forward, and he began the long walk to these strange and foreign men. They stood like wild gods, the way the pictures showed them against the black wall. He did not look back to his father, knowing that would be a weakness, and did not seem him again for two years. But as his father and sister thought of him every day, so did he of them.

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This is Nuts

Dungeons and dragons cartoon by kevinbolk
“This is Nuts” Geko mumbled to himself as he studied the huge bronze doors carved with demonic faces and radiating palpable evil. Never before had he been so close to death so many times. And the gods damned Archer had the audacity to call him a coward. If he were’that’ kind of man he will kill the sniveling bastard in his sleep. But he wasn’t that kind of man. In fact he was a fool in his own mind.

These people, telling him that the magical loot they were pulling off these demons and cultist was worth the risk. Worth the risk. What good is loot if your dead?

The group spread out behind him looting the bodies of the fallen demons. The knight on the horse with the yellow cape was introducing himself. Geko grumbled. Yet another mighty warrior to add to the group. He was in the wrong group. All these noble heroes. All he had done was nearly get killed by trap after trap in this place. An invisible cultist stronghold, were they are constructing giants made of the flesh of dead people. What in the name of the Nine Hells was he doing here?!

The freed slaves filed out, heading up the stairs. The centaur Lady that had healed him was making her way through crowd helping and healing. She was the only person that had showed him any kindness for as long as he could remember. He looked at his group. Certainly these people were just going to get him killed and treat him like gutter trash the whole time he was risking his life.

Geko was seriously considering just abandoning these psychotic self important snobs to there “quest”, but if he could just stay alive long enough to get the dragonman to his revenge he could make enough gold to never have to work a lockpick again….

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14 Years Past

14 Years Past
His arm popped as he slammed into the ground rolling. He grasped wildly at the ground, trying to slow his movement towards the ledge, but his hands were sweaty and soft; the stone hard and unforgiving. At the last moment he caught hold of a crack, stopping only a few feet before the drop, one leg dangling before he snatched it from the precipice. He breathed heavily and held firm, not looking up.

“You are a weak boy,” his father said with authority. “Your sister has more knack for the blade and the spear, and she is the younger of your womb-bond.” The man was tall, so tall; and fair of color while the boys own hair was so dark. His lean muscled arm, holding a spear, shot the butt end out and lifted the boy’s head to meet his gaze. “Stand now; your people are too proud to kneel to anyone, regardless of what old men in the senate might say. We’ve learned not to trust them, and paid the lesson in blood. Our blood.”

The child struggled to rise, lifting himself on the offered spear. “I have allowed you to spend too much time among women and politicians, and though the women of our land are stronger than the men of any other, there is no presence like that of a Talin’Tarathian man. Know your strength, of both us and your wild mother’s people.” He lifted his jaw and stared, for once, fiercely at his father’s face, anger dancing round his irises. He knew of the blood that had been spilt, what cost was paid by the Kel’Thanes last Winter’s eve.

“Finally, I meet my son.” His father looked on him proudly, for the first time perhaps, and then slapped him hard in the face. “I will craft of you a thing that the world shall know as a man, the greatest of men that dwell here in our country. It will be hard and painful, but I am confident that you are a creature that will survive it. You and your sister shall walk the world and take of it what is yours and I shall know the satisfaction of a father, as I was robbed that of a husband.”

The young child saw a move then, and jumped forward grasping at the loose spear. He rolled by his father’s leg and spun in a circle, bringing the tip of the spear swinging around and up towards his father’s chest. Suddenly the huge man’s hand was on the mid-haft, and pulling it down and around. The boy lost balance, and began to fall before being lightly kicked and sent sprawling across the ground. He spit blood upon the hard stone, tanned in such liquid endlessly, and stood. Looking up and the smiling man, Andraxx Kel’Thane, a man who no one for a thousand miles took lightly, he gazed fiercely once more. “I am your son.”

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Sleep

Adora stares at the fire as the wood crackles and burns. They have left Kriesk and have begun their adventure up north to help Kensen avenge his sisters death. Things have changed since her and Flynn formed this group some time ago. They bagan their adventures in hopes of preventing the Imperium ensuing more chaos. Now however, they have taken to running off on any mission that pays. I suppose money isn’t a bad thing. She had never really needed money before now since the Runeguard provided her with everything she needed. She turns her back toward the fire and stares out into the trees.

Before the attack at the Inn, she had a brief glimpse of hope regarding a possible return to the Runeguard. Renea had brought news that herself and some of the other women had felt what Yosanna had done was unfair and unjust and were woring to get her reinstated…if she wanted to return that is. She had told Renea that she wanted to return to fight along side her sisters for the good of Alluvia but that she would have to be assured that something like what had happened would not happen again. She didn’t want to follow someone who used their power against the people, even if they thought it was for good. Still, the thought of some of her sisters wanting her back felt good and for the first time in months, she closed her eyes, and slept.

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How The Imperium Made a Lifelong Enemy of Flynn Stanwick Sinclair Swift
or: I'll Likely Have a Pounding Headache in the Morning

“Lord Swift?” Flynn was lost in thought and taken a bit by surprise when the messenger greeted him outside the door to his room. Looking the messenger over, he could tell that he was no threat, the messanger had clearly been dispatched from Aeroglyph. The boy offered Flynn a sealed letter, Flynn quickly flipped the lad a few coins for his trouble. The seal on the letter bore the noble seal of House Swift. Flynn couldn’t ever remember getting a letter from his father before. Flynn slipped into his room and intently read the letter written in his father’s own hand.

Upon finishing the letter, Flynn sets the letter on the nightstand and takes a moment to think. Before he realized what was happening a razor thin wire slips over Flynn’s head and clenches around his throat. Flynn’s mind begins racing, clearly the Imperium wasn’t pleased with the answer he provided them. Before the assailant had a chance to fully constrict the garrote, Flynn leans back and uses his thumbs to create enough slack to slip free of the lethal device. Taking advantage of the surprise escape, he leaps off the bed to face the assassin. Flynn is surprised to see a woman in dark leather wearing a black Imperium sash, the first that Flynn had ever seen, but if he should survive the night, it would likely not be the last.

The assassin composes herself and leaps at Flynn drawing a short sword in one graceful swipe, slashing Flynn across the chest. Flynn composes himself and reaches for his rapier, leaning next to the bed. With a flash of brilliant steel he draws the lithe blade and assumes a duelist stance, with a swift flick of his wrist he flings the short sword from the assassin’s grip sending it tumbling to her feet. He continues the movement into a quick slash across the assassin’s stomach, blood drips from the fresh wound onto her black leather armor. The assassin makes a quick assessment of the situation and scoops up her fallen sword. Flynn takes the opening and makes a deep thrust with his rapier, causing blackish blood to come seeping out of the wound, likely punturing a vital organ.

The assassin brings up her sword in a feeble attempt to strike back, Flynn expertly parries her blade with a flourish. All at once, Flynn feels weaker, poison! The assassin’s blade must have been poisoned. Without missing a beat the assassin returns with another slash, once again Flynn calls upon his training as a fencer and deflects the blow. The assassin quickly reaches inside her cloak and draws out a potion, yellow liquid swirls within the vial. Flynn makes another quick thrust with his rapier and lands a solid strike on the assassin. The assissin looks feverishly around the room for some space, finding none, she decides to keep her enemy close, she tries to dart past Flynn. Taking the opportunity, Flynn stabs her deeply in her side as she flies past him. The impact of the rapier causes her to drop the vial of yellow liquit which clinks to the floor and begins rolling across the room. “Shit!”, the assassin exclaims as she dives for the potion, landing squarely on top of it.

The assassin pops the cork from the vial and quickly consumes the potion vanishing into thin air. Flynn can hear the assassin moving about the room, but can’t clearly make out her location, he takes a few quick swings at where her body had been, hearing nothing but the dull thud of steel against wood. Glancing about the room, Flynn realizes that the window is open and presents quite a viable exit for the phantom assailant. He moves swiftly toward the window, keeping a keen eye on the door in the event that she tries to slip out. As Flynn neared the open window he bellowed as loud as he could “ASSASSIN!” while swinging his rapier in wide arcs, hoping to be lucky enough to snag her on the way. Flynn’s eyes sweep across the room as he waits for any sign of life.

Before Flynn has time to react he hears the pattering of feet as the assassin charges toward him and tackles him in a full run and knocks them both out of the window, plummeting two stories to the ground below. With no time to think, Flynn manages to spear the assassin with his rapier as she tackles him. The assassin grunts as the rapier sinks deep into her gut, the two spin in the air as they fall to the earth below. With a loud THUMP and CRACK the two crash to the ground Flynn’s head slamming hard into the packed dirt. Just before Flynn blacks out he catches a glimpse of the assassin, now fully visible and slumped over next to him, her neck broken from the fall. A faint smirk forms on Flynn’s lips before his eyes close, the last thing to pass through his mind before everything goes dark, “at least now I’ll get some rest…”.

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