In light of recent events, I've decided to start keeping a journal. Perhaps to try and help ground my thoughts in a world that seems to be turning upside down. First, the great wyrm disappears, followed by an attack on our fair village. Then, a great and noble quest given by the god Pelor himself. Now, for the first time, we are to leave our home. I wish I could say I'm afraid, but I'm not. Excitement is the first thought that comes to mind. The opportunity for learning, discovery and adventure is almost too great to pass up.
Of course, I wish my parents were more supportive. As usual, it's difficult to get any reaction out of them at all. I'm almost glad I didn't grow up among the other Eladrin in the world. I can't fathom a whole race of completely ambivalent people. It would drive me mad. In any event, I wouldn't call what I recieved from them a 'blessing', but rather 'permission, with reservations'. Perhaps they knew I was going no matter what they said.
So now, I prepare to leave. Along with my good friends, the wise cleric Hruntherm and the fast and agile ranger Makani will be joining us. I welcome their company. Perhaps I can learn more of the Firetip Caverns before we arrive.
So much has changed so quickly. I mustn't dwell on it too much. The quest bestowed on us by the great god Pelor is an honor and I will see it completed. I will not fail.
Joining us in the purging of the great Pelor Shrine is a ranger who will be continuing with us on our quest. His name is Makani and he hails from the great wood at the base of the Firetips. He is the one who brought news of the seige on the Dwarvern stronghold. He is elven. I've seen elves, but never met their acquanitance before. He's like me....yet not. I have to admit, he's quite rugged...and handsome. I wonder if he feels the connection to the Feywild in his dreams as I do?
As we travel over the great aqueduct, I'm given much time to reflect on the events of days past. The unholy monsters we encountered down in the Shrine of Pelor still haunt my thoughts. Loathsome abominations. I've read of the undead, of course, but seeing them is another matter entirely. I can't help but feel for those who they once were in life before they fell. The poor folks, twisted by dark magics into a twisted mockery of life. I wonder if their souls can truly rest while their bodies are exploited so.
If that is the case, I feel some solace in that we've brought them true rest by ridding the world of their vile presence. I'm pleased my magics have not failed me so far and I feel their use in combat is growing with each encounter. When I saw the horrid black dragon flying overhead during our journey, it became clear I have much to learn, however.
I've been spending some time analyzing the orb fragment given by the great Pelor. It's an item of incredible power that I've only been able to barely tap into. I can feel the power of the orb add to mine as I channel arcane energies through it. I feel I must learn how to become more in touch with the fragment if we are going to be successful in our quest. However, further probing has proved somewhat dangerous as such great power is contained within this artifact. Perhaps more research will better prepare me to continue my analysis.
It's only been a few days since we entered the Firetip Caverns. What a miserable situation we have discovered! The city, beseiged by giants...massive creatures of great strength. I do not look forward to running into one. It's quite fortunate that the dwarven craftsmanship of the walls holds strong!
We've started interacting with some of the folks here. I thought dwarves were an honorable sort, but the corruption here is beyond my wildest imaginings! Shortly after enterting the marketplace, a common cowardly thief stole the great Orb of Pelor right out of my belt pouch! My shame for not being more careful with such a powerful artifact was great. In truth, if not for the fine eye of Makani, all may have been lost! I owe him a debt, clearly.
Even those who run the library...scholars...eduactors...fellow seekers of knowledge...they dismiss me as an afterthought! I was even approached by a character of questionable repute and essentially threatened to cease my inquiries!! I'm sorry, but the library should be a public resource, free for all to use. Hoarding information seems so inherrently rude to me.
But, I must say...what a library!! Countless scrolls and tomes abounding the shelves...my mind races at the potential opportunities here! Of course my dragonborn brothers do not agree, but then again, reading was never really their cup of tea.
It seems that in order to use the library, we need to do a 'favor' for them. It's become very clear to me that 'favors' have a very good exchange rate in the Firetip Cavern monetary system. We're directed to the local head of the wizard's guild, Balvanie. Can you believe it? A whole guild of students of the arcane. This is just what I've been looking for!
Back to their true colors...Balvanie demands an exorbinant payment for membership. More money than exists in all of Midhaf. Rediculous, I say! Of course, he then proposes an alternate payment of the almighty 'favor'. Apparently the merchant's guild is exceeding its reach and has the guild head concerned. How depressing and frustrating that wizards stoop to such low and petty behavior. But, since we have no choice, we will play this game. We simply must have full access to the information we require so we may learn more of the great orb.
In our quest to find the source of the group making a play for power against the wizards, we ran afoul of a gang of miscreants. They had a clever ambush waiting for us in a dark alley and combat ensued. I resorted to my standard tactic of disrupting enemy team cohesion to better allow the boys to do their thing, when I was assaulted from behind by a bolt of magical energies! Never before have I been thus struck and was quite shocked, to say the least. The pain was substantial and seemed to cut into me on levels beyond what a physical blow delivers. I quickly shook off my shock and focused on the task at hand, for my life truly did depend on it. I engaged in my first 'mage duel' with the enemy and fortunately, my magics proved adequate to the task when brought to bear.
This incident has given me much to think about. With all those would seek to do us harm in the world, I must be better prepared for more aggresive threats in the future. I simply must get access to that library if my arcane knowledge is to grow.
Just as I was beginning to think the people here couldn't get any worse, I finally see some glimmers of hope. We were given a mission by the guard captain to investigate the source of the aqueduct malfunction. Which is ideal, as this was one of our reasons for coming here. We decide that the boys are best used in this investigation while I continue to try and make headway in the library. I will miss them and hope they return safely. In the meantime, I look forward to resuming my research.
After spending enough time in the library, I think I'm finally starting to get a feel for how it is organized. In addition, I'm also finally making the acquaintance of some of the scholars here and am able to glean some tidbits from them. A room has been secured for me where I have been pouring through scrolls on ancient history and...oh, my...there is quite a selection of arcane writings here. I must investigate further.
The more I read, the more amazed I become! How little did I know and understand from the paltry writings back home. I was so blind! It's all here, if one knows how to look. The power of the elements...I never imagined. I take notes on new ways to shape and form the elements. I think I see ways to form them into new spells. It will take time and practice, but I think I can do it. And the rituals...the ways to use the sacred herbs, ungents, and alchemicals...yes, it's so clear now. The potential is almost limitless. We've struggled in our journey regarding magical tools and weapons to aid us. I believe I've found a way to similarly enchant mundane items into devices of great power.
It's not enough, though. Some of the finer points and details...they still elude me. It's apparant that I need access to the information the local wizard's guild sees fit to keep to themselves. I'm going to have to talk to the boys when they get back and make it clear that we need to accelerate completion of our 'favor' in exchange for guild membership. After all, we have an orb to assemble and more arcane knowledge to learn.
During my time at the library, I've met the acquaintance of a elf named Pazelle. She's quite kind and quite beautiful. I find these elves so fascinating. In any event, she wants me to meet some friends of hers for a dinner in one of the more affluent sections of town. Apparently, she and her friends are quite interested in hearing more about Midhaf. I'm not sure why, as there's nothing too remarkable to say, but I'll entertain their queries and they seem like a nice folk. Maybe I can learn something from them as well and I must say, it's refreshing to meet some decent folk in what I first thought was a veritable den of selfishness and corruption.
I hope the boys return soon.
Dinner was lovely. I'm invited by two of Pazelle's friends, Percy and Cless, for a stroll and lunch the next day. I accompany them to an incredibly lavish establishment. The ornate decor I beheld was more than all the wealth of Midhaf! The meal was again lovely and Percy and Cless are quite good company. I still don't understand why they are so interested in Midhaf, but I entertain their questions anyway. They did seem to have particular interest in Vixxelcurisk. I tell them what I can. Except for the orb, of course. Even though they seem trustworthy, I am reminded of my near loss of the orb when we first got to the city. I cannot take that chance again. They mention something of a 'great betrayal'. I inquire some, but then notice that we're attracting a great deal of attention by mentioning this particular topic. We decide to end our lunch and I'm on my way. I'll clearly have to do more research on this subject.
Hopefully the boys are back by now. It's been a bit since they went to the monastary.
The boys have returned quite ragged and with quite a story to tell. The Monastary was overrun by Orcs. Fortunately, they were able to clear them out and restore the sole remaining Paladin there to his role of caretaker. Even more exciting, the aqueduct flows again. How happy I am for those back home!
After some down time at the tavern, Guard Captain Oban graces us with a visit. He makes it clear that as long as we respect the innocent civilians and the guard, we have a 'pass' to continue our inquiries in the criminal underword. After he conveniently leaves us a map, we thank him and then we're on our way to the marketplace.
I ponder a vist to the shop of some of the friends I've met, but think better to say focused on the task at hand. After visiting the local smith who forged Bruk's falchion, he gives us a lead to the local underworld 'muscle' . At that point, he rather rudely shoves us out of his shop, after once again confiscating Bruk's weapon. I chalk it up to eccentricity and we're on our way.
Deep in an unsavory cavern, we find a structure that leads us down to what seems to be a former temple of Moradin...magically animated traps and all. I make a mental note about running into danger with no armor on. I simply must find a way to increase the range of my spells.
In any event, we happen upon a small army of wretched creatures led by an Warlock and an Orog. Makani skillfully eliminates the Warlock (with a bit of help from me and one of my ice abilities), while the boys engage the Orog. I fall back and try to keep the hordes of minions at bay, but there were so many. Note to research more wide-effect spells for dealing with such circumstances.
After the villians are vanquished, we see that they've been converting this former holy place of Moradin into a foul temple of the evil god Vecna. I assist Hrunthern in defacing the Vecna sigils, but the desecration magic is still strong here. It will require powerful clerical magics to restore this place to its former glory. I shiver when I think about it...the aura of foulness clung to me like a second skin. I couldn't get out of there soon enough.
There is much more to ponder....a cult of Vecna in the Firetip Caverns. Are they behind the giant attack? A question for another day. For now, back to research.
Word of our exploits clearly attracted the attention we were looking for. After leaving word with Captain Oban about what we discovered, his lieutenant comes to inform us that Cyprus himself, head of the local underworld, is out to do us harm. In fact, that becomes apparent based on the stares we're getting from some ruffians in the tavern. Fortunately, some warforged mercenaries come to our aid, on the behest of the local noble Ben Nevis, after extending an invitation to visit his offices the next day. What fascinating creatures! I wonder if I will get the opportunity to study them further. Perhaps someday I will be able to construct such beings myself. That seems like something that could come in handy in our current line of work.
We go back to our aparetment to find it broken into and being ransacked by more ruffians! In addition to the unruly thugs, a horrible creature attacked me and I might have met my end if I didn't dodge his barbed limbs in time from striking my neck. I since learned that my conjurations work well through a closed door with only a pane of glass to see through. Quite handy. After my magics and the boys took control of the situation, one of the thugs decided to make a run for it. I froze his limbs, slowing him down for Kiranth, but before we could properly subdue and question him, he was cut down from afar by a magical bolt of energy. Looked like some sort of Tiefling effect. I simply must master that ritual that will enable me to question corpses. I make a mental note for later research. The apartment, unfortunately, is a mess. In addition to the broken furniture, my flaming conjuration charred the rug, walls, and ceiling. We'll have to get an estimate to have it restored. Perzelle was so kind to get us set up here, I wouldn't want her good name to be tarnished.
The next day, Ben Nevis' carriage arrives and we are brought to his lavish offices. They're in the same quarter of town that I had that wonderful lunch with Percy and Cless. I tell the boys to try and behave themselves for our meeting. It seems that Ben Nevis needs an escort for a caravan of weapons heading to a buyer on the coast. The pay is good and the wizards want us to keep a close eye on Ben Nevis, so we accept. Makani is getting sized for his new armor and Hrunthern is still at the Moradin temple, so it looks like it's just the three of us.
Dear Pelor, the corruption of this city knows no bounds. Ben Nevis is clearly involved in a coup to unseat the Lord Mayor and take control of the FTC. And, what's worse is that I suspect the Lord Mayor's sister is involved as well. This is why the wizards (who seem loyal to the Lord Mayor) are so concerned about him. To top it off, Ben Nevis made it clear that the next piece of the great orb we seek sits on top of the scepter of the Lord Mayor himself, the symbol of power in the FTC. Which, by the way, we've come to understand was given to the leader of the FTC a millenia ago as 'payment' for allowing the ancient Gegelore Empire to waltz on through and destroy the great Pelor temple in old Midhaf. In fact, it's possible that the current residents of Midhaf may be decendants of the Gegelores. With the current attacks, I wonder if the same thing is happening again?
What a situation we're in. Our choices seem to be to side with Ben Nevis in overthrowing the righteous government and hereditary leadership of the FTC, securing the orb fragment as part of the coup, possibly throwing the region into chaos (as well as negating any reasonable chance of getting into the wizard's guild). You would think it would serve them right, given the Great Betrayal. Or, side with the Lord Mayor, turn Ben Nevis and his tawdry mistress in as the traitors they are, help repel the invasion, join the wizards guild, and hope the Lord Mayor is kind enough to just hand over the scepter of hereditary power of the FTC so we may further our divine quest. Yeah. We clearly need to speak more of this. Neither option sits well with me.
We swing by the library after our meeting and I scan some parchments related to old Midhaf. Nothing to helpful, but interesting information nonetheless. At least I know what section to look in, now.
Outside, Perzelle meets us and warns us of great danger from the underworld. I can't help but notice she's adorned well beyond her norm, which a fine and clearly magical cloak and sword. There clearly seems to be more to my new friend than meets the eye. She says she will work with Oban on a way to resolve our troubles with the underworld and to meet her at the tavern later. We agree and she's off.
Back at the tavern, the plan is revealed to us. We are bait. Cyprus and his thugs will come to us. We take them out. Seems simple, albeit incredibly dangerous. We had no idea what resources this Cyprus has at his disposal. In any event, the foul Tiefling arrives, speaks incredibly rudely to me, and then threatens my life. I decide we've come too far to be taken down by a jackass like this, so I stare him down, conjure a flaming sphere on top of his head, then slide through the shadows and teleport to the 2nd floor landing where I can better direct the sphere. The melee is on, with the boys engaging the thugs that accompanied Cyprus. I felt we had an excellent tactical position.
Unfortunately, I did not calculate Cyprus' cloaked lieutenant who was already on the landing with me. A shady little gnome arcanist of some sort who somehow kept blinking in and out of visible sight. Fascinating.
Also unfortunately, I did not calculate Cyprus' ability to also teleport to the landing, where he promptly stabbed me with a poison sword.
Fortunately, there were four dwarven soldiers placed in reserve by Captain Oban up on the 2nd floor who rushed out and pushed the ruffians over the railing and back down to the first floor after a scuffle.
Also fortunately, I was able to shake off most of the effects of the poison and continue using the flaming sphere to good effect from above.
With the dwarves and Perzelle's help, the tide of the battle turns our way. Perzelle had a particularlly interesting standoff with Cyprus' leiutenant as if they had a history together. I will have to ask her about it. We debate questioning Cyprus but decide there's no need. That's fortunately the end of him. Threaten me, will he?
We return to our apartment to rest up. Kind Perzelle has already dispatched a work crew and the place already looks good as new. I must find some way to repay her kindness. In the meantime, however, the boys and I have much to discuss. I must tell Makani of what has transpired but what of Hrunthern? Surely he will not approve the dethroning of the Lord Mayor?
Yes, much to discuss indeed...
After a short delay, we're heading out of the FTC to escort Ben Nevis' weapons. I'm still uncertain what our course of action should be regarding all of this political intrigue. However, I must admit excitement at the thought of further travels. There are rare writings of the world beyond the FTC let alone anyone from Midhaf who's actually traveled there.
We arrive at the gate to meet up with the caravan. It seems our Warforged friends are heading up this expedition. Perhaps I'll get the opportunity to converse more with the captain and learn more of his past. How fascinating it must be! It also seems that the caravan is short on handlers for the mules so we'll have to fill in. I have experience with animal care but I'm concerned the boys lack a bit of the....finesse...necessary to control a stubborn mule. In any event, we're given a section of the pack and we're off. Leading our pack is a half-elf animal handler named Yakarth. After watching him with the mules for the first several miles of travel, I question his competency, but he seems like a nice enough fellow and is fun conversation.
Considering it's winter time, the mountain air is quite...frigid. I perform a ritual to shield us from harsh environments during our journey. Less cumbersome than full furs and more effective.
The trip was quite treacherous and difficult. I tried to keep as many of the mules under control as I could, but Makani and I are the only ones really trained in this manner so the going was tough. In fact, a few of the poor beasts went lame and had to be put down. The warforged brought up the rear and transferred the loads to the healthy mules, but the time delay resulted in a greater separation between our groups than I would have liked.
My fears proved warranted when Makani noticed a black dragon circling over our path. In fact, it seemed to be the same one that accosted us in our journey to the FTC. After a brief discussion, we decided engagement rather than fleeing is the way to go. I've never fought such a creature before but I am reminded of the old adage 'If it bleeds, it can die'. Sure enough, after a grueling fight, we prove victorious over the foul beast. I'm noticing a lack of cohesion and tactics against flying opponents. Perhaps there's a way to negate an opponents flying advantage...or, perhaps a way to bestow flying upon us. I must research further. In addition, I'm finding that my longer range tactics are certainly handy against most opponents, especially large ones. It gives me more flexibility in what magics I'm able to bring to bear. In any event, dragon bile extract is useful in several ritual components and can be pretty valuable, so I retrieve what I can before the rest of the caravan catches up to us. Then we continue on a bit before we camp in the harsh cold night.
Around the campfire the warforged captain tells a few fascinating tales of his past. Of great battles he's been in and things he has seen. Of particular interest in a tale of a dwarven army that drove a great horde of frost giants into a chasm that then became sealed over by the slowly rolling glacier. Legend has it that the frost giants still live to this day and wait for the glacier to recede to they may come forth and have their revenge. Whether there is fact to this rumor or not is unclear, but I personally would rather not find out.
The captain also shares that the runes upon his armor keep him animated yet they fade over time. Eventually, he shall become an inert set of plating. So, he's essentially dying and he says his time is near. It's sad for a being who has lived so long and clearly has so much to share. I wonder if there is a way to magically refresh the runes? Perhaps I will find something in my studies.
I write today of a pretty humbling experience. We're heading down a mountain pass when we hear a thunderous roar. Soon, scores of goblins come racing toward our position. We take defensive positions but it quickly becomes clear they're not attacking. Rather, they're fleeing the immense being that's hoarding then down the pass. It's an earth titan, and it's approach was terrifying. We hid in the intent of ambush and when the beast arrived, I was struck with awe. Never before have I seen such a massive beast! As always I wait for Kiranth to make the first move. After being discovered and after the beast slays three of our mules with a single blow, Kiranth strikes with a mighty swing...that proves to be completely ineffective. Makani and I take our shots from a distance that prove equally useless. The creature, instead of slaying us all, slaps Kiranth (dislocating his jaw, by the way), laughs out loud, and continues his march down the pass. We stand there dumbfounded. What hope have we versus such terrible creatures? How will the dwarves of the FTC survive this continued assault? There must be power capable of felling such beasts and I simply must find it for our own sakes!
After our encounter with the titan, I inquire with Makani if he's even fought such creatures before and he suggests he has. Further probing is met with his usual aloof behavior, however. I sense a great sadness in him...yet also hope. It makes me sad that he is so secretive. I wonder what it is in his past that brings him such woe?