Standing in the Vale I look around me at all the destruction. The fighting never ceases. I feel like we’ve been traveling for eons, and for what? For this? I know that we must continue, so that this does not become the fate of all of civilization. I’m not certain we will even succeed at our tasks, but I know that we must go on.
As we’re helping the druids prepare to move I heard someone call my name. I looked around but no one seemed to be seeking me out. I recognized the voice, but cannot place it. I hear it again, followed by what can only be described as a one-way conversation. Ragna, the bard who had traveled previously with this group was contacting me. She and I had often traveled in the same circles until she disappeared. I know now that she had been taken over by the succubus Lillith the Cruel. She is traveling with us as a slave to Sydell, repayment for her crimes against him I’d guess. Ragna has been an ambassador between the Dwarves and the Embers as we need the two factions to work together as war is imminent. She told me that both groups are preparing to attack Blarek with the army of Ania, led by King Carus. Knowing that there are many factors at play and that an attack this early would prove disastrous for all involved, I gathered my comrades and informed them of this new, disturbing situation. Sydell decided that the best course of action would be to contact Everbody who, in turn, contacted Ragna so we could actually converse. We advised her that the planned attack on Blarek should NOT go forward and that it would be in everyone’s best interest to just wait until we can all sit down and talk. Ragna set up a meeting with Ram, the leader of the Darkstone Clan as well as the leader of the Embers. We set the meeting in Stonehome, as it seems to be the safest place for all of us.
Veera, Harper’s ship, touched down right before noon. He will be taking us to Ania and helping D and Kessler move the druids to the World Tree (D and Kessler will not be joining us as this is an important undertaking). Sydell confirmed with Lillith that the info on the demons is coming along, and begins compulsively studying her completed work while we travel. We are all a bit weary of this venture to Ania, knowing that anyone could be that lousy doppleganger Durant. Devon thinks that Ram might actually be Durant, as it appears he is pushing for the early strike on Blarek. I don’t feel the same, my gut tells me that our King Carus in Ania is actually Durant. I would say only time will tell, but we don’t have that luxury – we’ll be seeking out any information from townsfolk and vendors in Ania, making our way up the ladder of importance. I hope my intuition is wrong, for all our sake.
As we land outside the city limits of Ania, I decide that a disguise would be my best bet on getting information from those who hide in the shadows. It really is amazing what you can find out by being invisible. I put on my disguise and distance myself from my traveling companions. I entered the city behind them, not paying them any mind as I passed them as they stop at a vendor’s wagon. “Pierce!” I hear Sydell call out – seems they know this vendor. I keep walking, making a mental note of a strange familiarity I feel with this man, though I know we’ve never met. I’ll have to stop back by or seek him out another time.
Making my way through the main thoroughfare of town I notice that I’m being followed. I’m not sure by whom, but I am not getting caught unaware. I pass between two buildings and draw my blades into my gloves, disappearing into the shadows. I see a human, maybe a half-elf (from the clothes) who doesn’t see me. I grab them from behind and bring them close to me – turns out it’s a man which really fooled me. Nice. He dropped his weapon, and put up his hands in defeat. He tells me he works for Barktooth, the local and newest underboss. He is a man I remember well, coming up in this profession at the same time we share quite a bit of history. The follower tells me he is only following me because I’m new to town, just trying to get a feel for what I have and how he could get it – standard fare coming into a new town, I should’ve figured. But, with all that’s going on it’s better to be safe than dead. I give this boy some slack and he says he can get me a meeting with Barktooth. I agree to it and get all the cloak-and-dagger info to set it up. I’m off to meet up with Devon, oddly I think he could be an asset to this meeting.
After finding Devon and letting him know about the meeting, we prepare identities and disguises and set out for our meeting. Devon gets to the bar first and is chatting up the barkeep as I walk in. “You must be Pam,” the bartender says as I walk up. Great, Devon is really good at this whole secrecy thing. We are directed to the back where a large, burly man sits. He knows I’m Pam and tells me to head downstairs, but detains Devon as the meeting I set up was for one. I go down alone, drawing my blades into my gloves. As I’m making my way around, I notice a smaller-statured female notice me and step behind a pillar. Probably just another watchman for Barktooth, whom I see barking orders to those working around him. He appears to be strictly business down here, no outward sign of weapons on him. As I look around him, I notice that we are in a huge underground city basically. He sees me approaching and motions me over. I introduce myself and remind him that we (he and Pam) go way back – and compliment him on the amazing work he’s done in just the short time he’s been the underboss. Amazingly, he remembers Pam and begins to spin a yarn that, if I wasn’t aware that Pam didn’t exist, I would’ve believed. He has someone go up for Devon, who soon enough is striding toward us. Just as he’s about to clear the stairs, he’s jumped from behind by the female hiding behind a pillar. He recognizes her and they have a seemingly kindly exchange. She departs and he joins the meeting.
Barktooth tells us that King Carus has not been in the city on a regular basis, no more than a few days in a row at one time, for the past two weeks. People that have been in his service have been charged with crimes and put away for seemingly odd reasons. His wife, Layla, stays mostly in the castle. She’s not much into politics, but loves games and sport. Barktooth says that any more information will come at a price, but will be well worth it. I agree, and he gives me a drawing of an underground tunnel into a room in the castle. This room contains a book, Adventures of Asir, and if I get this book, then that will be payment for the info. Because Pam and he go WAY back, he takes it on a promise and spills the information. As of late, a dangerous group known as The Trust have been infringing on his areas. The castle servants have been reporting King Carus is discussing high-powered magic and using a lot of different tongues to do it in. It’s been reported that something is being built under the castle. Reports are coming back that there are a number of underground tunnels and large rooms have been constructed and it seems that this project should be finished by now, or at least close to it. However, he instructs us to be very careful as a number of his informants have not returned after venturing into this area. We thank him for his time and I again compliment him on the amazing work he’s done since coming into power, knowing that this is far from the last time he and Pam meet. We head back to the ship. The strange female Devon met with is coming with us and I know now her as Peedles. I don’t know a lot more than that and the two continue their discussions as though I wasn’t there. It’s good to be a rogue.
On the way back to the ship I see the aforementioned vendor Pierce and slow my pace to let him notice me noticing his wares. He’s preparing to close for the night, to move on to a different area – I’m sure we’ll meet again.
After meeting up with everyone and exchanging information, it seems that all of us wound up meeting with Barktooth. Separately. We both got generally the same information and decided to take off to find this book. I feel that finding the book may wind up with a two-fold result. Not only will we fulfill a promise, but I think we might just find more than informants could ever bring back.
Heading into the tunnel, I see light where there should be none. I know we’re not close to the study we seek, but Sydell can’t leave well enough alone. I swear his curiosity will be the death of us all. Devon and I continue along the path, but Sydell bursts through the wall, revealing a hastily built mine shaft-like corridor. Sydell inspects it and yells up to us that it’s a hallway in a mine – maybe this is what’s being built? We all continue along our mapped route until I’m sure we’re in the right spot. Penelope finds our opening and we all head into the study. It’s dusty and fairly cleared out, possibly in a hurry. Devon senses the book is behind the desk, but behind the wall, seemingly blocked by a thin sheet of lead. Once again, Penelope finds the book, along with 2 rings. We take all and head back the way we came in. As we get to the newly opened mine area, a strange voice calls out to us. “Hello? Is someone there?” and continues to urge us to find where it’s coming from. Devon uses some sort of magic and suddenly we know it’s a door. Yes, a door is talking to us. Devon tell us that the door has a man and a troll in the room behind it. A group decision has us standing in front of this strange talking door, attempting to get it to open. A riddle will open the door, and a riddle did just that. Once inside we find the troll, a hideous being with 9 heads. Behind it we can make out a man, possibly a half-elf, surrounded by what appears to be a LOT of blood. The man is alive, but barely. The room we’ve entered is exposed as a torture room. The troll is ready to attack, and we go on the offensive.
Sydell charges and attacks the troll with his war hammer, massively wounding one of the heads. The troll reels and attacks Marcel, knocking him about. I move up to attack and it hits me – knocking the wind out of me, making me miss with all but one hit. He attacks Sydell and grapples him. He hits me again, clubbing me somewhat. Sydell swings and misses, Devon casts anti-magic and Sydell lands a solid hit. The troll looks to be hurt and Marcel wastes no time adding to the damage. Penelope, never ceasing to amaze me, takes the form of air and flies above the anti-magic barrier to cast disintegrate from above, effectively turning the troll into dust! Wasting no time we make our way to the injured man. Cleaning him up and tending to his wounds we find that this is no ordinary man, it is King Carus. Just as I had thought. He’s in and out of consciousness but gets out that he thinks he’s been here for about two months. Devon found another tunnel, probably under what would be the stables. We disguise Carus and make our way back to Harper’s ship. Harper, being very knowledgeable about dopplegangers, will be keeping a very close watch on this King Carus while we take care of business in the city. Before we venture out again, Carus tells us of a stash he wants us to get to. Specifically he wants a small satchel but we are welcome to anything we’d like beyond that. I went back to Barktooth with the book. I let him know why I thought his men weren’t coming back but said nothing of King Carus. Barktooth rewarded me with more information – this time about us. It seems that someone or a group of someones is seeking information about my traveling companions. He has seen to it that no one in his guild will put out this information. I thanked him, let him know that I would be available while in town at his request.
As another night falls on Veera we are in greater danger now than ever before. Even dealing with demons and monsters isn’t as treacherous as what we face now. I keep my fear at bay, knowing that Sithir is watching and so are others like me. I know I need to utilize this, but I’m just not sure how. I will commune and seek out answers. I just hope that our path is leading us in a victorious direction, for the alternative is too terrifying to imagine.