The rebirth of IO

Ranger Log Entry 6; We're Still Here!? (Don't Take The Black Potion!)

There’s a small chance someone slipped me some of that hallucinogenic moss. Either I’m tripping or the strangest thing I’ve ever seen just happened.

Note to self; do not drink from the black vials.

Sorry, I need to back up a bit. Just a couple of days. Back to before that really weird thing happened.

Remember that boat our crew came to? The one I wrote about in my last entry? We decided to board it, since any boat at this point seemed better than swimming. The closest, easiest entrance led us to the lowest level of the old vessel. Inside we found what clearly used to be sleeping quarters, a few lockers and a foot or so of water.

This boat wasn’t going to carry us anywhere.

So we rummaged though the storage lockers. Among the treasures found, Errol uncovered three vials of black liquid and I found two daggers. Other than gold, there wasn’t much else noteworthy or worth the weight, so we continued our search through the ship.

We found nothing in the kitchen. Well, not “nothing”. I found some kind of fire rat – three of them, rather – hanging out in the oven. Errol and I made Maal smash them with a frying pan, which he happily did before adding the pan to his weapons inventory.

Up to the second level we went where we found three treasure chests, some storage lockers and about 15 unmarked, sealed barrels. Searching the trunks yielded more gold and some other trinkets. I found some kind of stick that doesn’t look like much, but I took it anyway since it had been stored away in a box.

I think it’s around here Maal randomly decide to drink a yellow potion. That’s not why I felt like I was hallucinating, although it was strange to watch Maal turn black. So now we have Maal, the black half Orc barbarian and John, the blue human sorcerer.

Note to self; do not drink the yellow potions either.

Anyway, we pried the tops off the barrels and found most of them to be filled with oil or water or some kind of alcohol. I’m sure they would have all come in use for some reason or another, but the practicality in taking even one of them was nonexistent. So we resealed them and moved on.

On deck we discovered a broken mast and no steering wheel. Not that we could have gone far with a leak at the bottom, but it was still disheartening to see. All I wanted to do was get out of that stupid ocean.

We did discover more than a broken mast and disappointment at the top. Another ship was connected by a plank. While the second vessel was in even worse wear, we decided “what the hell” and, after a tricky crossing where Maal and Errol almost plummeted into the ocean, we boarded ship number two.

Of course there were treasure chests to search and we did find some gold. That wasn’t the only thing we found in these chests. Upon opening them, strange blue creatures lunged at us in an effort to keep us away from their gold. They got in a few scratches, sure, but really they weren’t much of a match for us and we killed each of them before taking their (presumably stolen) treasure.

To keep this entry somewhat short, I won’t go into much detail about the ship graveyard we had found ourselves amongst. Each ship we boarded had another ship nearby, some in worse wear than others. Maal, of course, wanted to search every last one for weapons and gold, but I had to put my foot down and insist we press forward. I became more insistent when, while crossing a plank to another ship, I fell into the watery abyss and nearly drowned. Thanks to my elf friend, Errol, I was saved.

Another notable event was the chain monster we encountered in another ship. While it was incredibly bizarre to watch a pile of chains animate themselves into the form of a human, that’s also not why I think someone slipped me that blue moss. The thing did put up a hell of a fight though. Not only did we have to fight the chain monster, upon opening each of the chests it stood in front of, we met more bad luck. One chest led to all exists being sealed. Another started to flood the ship. We managed to escape when Yun punched a hole in the side and we all made a swim for it.

We sought camp on one of the several abandoned wrecks for the night. Unable to build a fire on a wooden structure surrounded by water, I again fell ill. This didn’t stop me from pressing forward. Not until we reached the shores of a small, rocky island. It was there we rested until I felt well enough to restart the day’s quest.

Stranded on an island more bare than the one we had left only a couple days prior, we found ourselves with a single option; explore the cave whose entrance we easily found on one side of a massive rock formation at the center of the island. At first it appeared to be just a natural cave formation that seemed to have a gradual decline in it’s smooth floor. The further we traveled, we discovered signs of humanoid life. The walls and ceiling progressively smoothed out and became more intricate in design.

The tunnel took us to a set of doors. Finding them to be unlocked, we invited ourselves into the great room on the other side. The room was mostly empty, save for another set of doors and a lone statue of a knight who stood in the center of the room. John detected magic on the statue, so I, along with the sorcerer and the monk, decided our best option was to maneuver ourselves along the wall to reach the second set of doors. Maal, being the plundering half Orc he is, wanted to check out the statue and take anything he could from it.

There was a reason I wanted to avoid the statue. And not just because it was kind of creepy looking. When John says there’s magic in or around an armed figure, real or not, I’m avoiding it.

When the knight statue lashed out and attacked Maal, I can’t say I was terribly surprised. My lack of surprise didn’t stop me from attempting to help him. From my spot along the wall I launched arrows set ablaze while John used his magical abilities. Yun, whose fists are her weapon, had to charge the knight in order to assist our friends.

Meanwhile, as the three of us were trying to take the statue down, Maal and Errol were getting the living stuffing ripped out of them. Literally. The knight statue was, almost effortlessly, gutting our half Orc and our Elf friends. By the time we had vanquished our cave foe, Maal had sustained numerous injuries. But he was alive. Errol was less fortunate and in death’s clammy grasp.

I stabilized him with my healing skills, but it was all I could do. Without a healing potion to be found or a nearby Cleric, Errol stood a good chance of passing through death’s door. But we couldn’t just leave him or let him die.

So Yun suggested we try the black potions Errol had been carrying. None of us knew what it would do. I objected to using the Elf as a test subject, but we had little time to debate the morality of such a thing.

So Yun poured it down the unconscious Elf’s throat. He shook. He convulsed and thrashed. And he morphed…

… Into a Kobold.

When Errol awoke, I wasn’t sure how to tell him what he had become. I think our gaping expressions gave him the hint that something was amiss. When he looked down at his reptilian hands, he realized something very wrong had happened.

Yun confessed to what she had done and pointed out that, despite the changing effects the potion had, it did help him come back from the brink of death. Grateful he wasn’t dead, Errol was still less than pleased with his new form. “Freaked out” isn’t really the term I want to use, but it’s the first one that comes to mind.

Errol quickly snatched the second potion of black liquid and consumed it without hesitance. Again he shook, convulsed and thrashed around until he transformed into a half Orc. Maal was particularly happy to have another half Orc on the team, but to Errol that was almost worse than being a Kobold. So down the hatch went the last of the black potions.

And now Errol is a dwarf.

Can you see now why I’m wondering if I ingested that hallucinogenic moss? I’m having a hard time getting used to Errol’s new form. I can only imagine how difficult it is for him.

With the knight dead and Errol alive in a Dwarf’s body, we finally found our way through the doors. On the other side we found the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in days. A fine sailing vessel with an intact mast, sails and no (visible) holes. I was so excited to see this boat, I didn’t even wait for the rest of my team. I scurried aboard and began searching it for signs of enemies and other things that would ruin my excitement.

The ship, as it turns out, was quite nice and ocean ready. In the captain’s quarters I found an intricate map of the world (it even listed Amakash, so I’m guessing, despite it’s clean appearance, it is an old map) and five small wooden horse figurines. John was able to detect magic on each of these objects, but that didn’t stop me from adding the map to my list of inventories, nor did it stop any of us from each taking a horse.

For now, that’s where we are. I write this from the captain’s desk as we debate heading for the high seas immediately or if we should rest first. To be honest, I’m too excited for my four hours of meditation. We finally get to leave this Chorellon Larethian damn rock. We finally get to sail north to land and move on with our quest. We still have three pieces to find and three continents to cover. I can only pray there’s still enough time to recover them all and save the world. Surviving this island won’t mean much if we can’t free IO.

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Ranger Log Entry 5; WILSON!!!! AKA; Still Stranded. AKA; What Happened?

We’ve been trapped here, marooned on this godforsaken island for about a week now. Even with the amount of time that’s passed, I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on. All I know is we’re still stuck here. And we’re not alone.

While I was laying on the beach writing my last entry, our party split into two groups. Errol stayed with Sailor and me at the shore while I attempted to heal from that awful sickness. John, Yun and Maal decided to explore and scavenge the woods that grew behind our camp. John returned after a few hours, empty handed and alone. He told us he had lost Maal and Yun when the forest became pitch black. So we waited for them to return while we waited for my sickness to leave my body.

Dawn arrived and brought with it mixed tidings. The good news was that I had made a full recovery. The bad news was Yun and Maal were still missing. And now, so was Sailor.

The three of us, along with Lavin, set off towards the heart of the island, wandering trough the forests in the direction John said they had taken the previous day. After some time, the forest grew thick. And dark. So dark even Errol and I could not see.

John made use of his sun rod to bring enough light to the endless shadows. I managed to locate what seemed to be a recently traveled path and led our small party deeper into the woods. For hours I maintained sights on this path and we came no closer to finding our missing friends or the sailor.

And then, suddenly, we were not alone. From the shadows surged beasts I’ve never before seen. They were enormous, hairy and vicious animals with sharp teeth and too many arms. We tried to hold our own, John casting spells as Errol launched arrows and I went between my crossbow and my scythe.

And then everything went dark.

When I came to, my friends were no longer missing. Yun, Maal, Errol and a blue skinned John all stood about me as I awoke in a dark hut from a chair I had apparently been tied to. Upon stepping into the woods, a single fire that quickly burned illuminated a small patch of forest. Taking a closer look I found this light to be a burning, four armed animal that resembled a monkey. The same creature that had attacked us.

Assuring me our foes were no longer here, our party did what we do best. We scavenged the huts for treasure. When we came up with little but a blank letter sealed in an envelope, Yun and I hastily insisted we flee for light and the beach.

I tracked two separate paths and chose the one that appeared well used. We followed this until the trees thinned and gave way to natural light. It was there I found my wolf, who stared painfully at something we had missed. Once my eyes found it, I understood his sorrow.

The nameless sailor had been, more or less, harpooned to a tree. His murder was message enough. Yet there hung a single piece of paper to the weapon that pierced the mans chest.

“Seriously. This is the last time.”

That’s when I was informed of the reaper who had led the beasts in our captivity. He had let us all go when Yun “promised” we would relinquish our quest. I assume she was lying. I do not intend to give up. Not now. Not to a reaper.

We gave the sailor with no name a quick funeral, burning his remains there in the woods. There was little said. None of us really knew him. Still, it’s always sad to see an innocent life exterminated in such a violent manner.

We returned to our beach camp where we scavenged for food before we rested for the night.

And then we walked. For days we wandered the shore, looking for an escape from this not so desolate but still god forsaken island. And, for a while, everything was quiet. Quiet and hopeless.

Only today have we finally caught sight of hope. On the watery horizon was what appeared to be a sailing vessel of some sort. I volunteered to swim out to an old dock to get a better glimpse at it. When I was able to confirm that my eyes were not deceiving me, I called back to my friends to join me. They fastened a makeshift raft and did just that, collecting me so the five of us could reach the ship.

I write this now as we study what was once a gleam of hope in this dark week. The vessel exists, this is true. But it is battered, worn and unfit for travel.

I just want to get off of this island. Out of this ocean and back to land. We still have three pieces to uncover, at least two more reapers to face and not as much time as we had at the start.

It would be easy to give up now. To lay down our weapons and enjoy the remainder of existence. But I just can’t do that. I have a brother to avenge and my companions and I have a world to save. Not because we’re the ones who have to do it, but because we’re the only ones who will.

We just have to get out of this Chorellon Larethian damn ocean…

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Ranger Log Entry 4; Who Unleashed The Kraken?

Dear Chorellon Larethian I’m cold. I’m achy, groggy and between boiling hot & freezing. I sit here on this deserted beach on some God forsaken island in the middle of the sea & there’s nothing to do. So I write as I rest.

You’re probably wondering how I (along with my companions) came to be marooned on a seemingly desolate island. I’m getting there. Slowly but surely, the events of the last two days are falling back into my memory bank as my fever gradually begins to break.

Last time I wrote, I left off with Errol completing the four trials & thus securing the first of four pieces needed to accomplish the mission. Upon emerging from the castle, we found the city of Vicol deserted and in ruins. The streets were littered with crumbling brick, scattered possessions left behind in a frantic escape and corpses. Truly a war had raged here.

By the time our eyes really witnessed the aftermath of the great zombie battle, night had settled over what once was Vicol. We were all too worn for travel, so we agreed to stay in the desolate city for one night. I convinced my companions to allow me time to give Kane a proper burial (at least as proper a burial as we could manage). Maal carried his boneless corpse to the cemetery where we laid him to rest in the Elvin section, carefully avoiding the freshly opened and abandoned graves (we all assume these are where the zombies came from).

After a short prayer to Chorellon Larethian and an even shorter goodbye to Kane, the five of us sought shelter in what used to be my brother’s home. The place still stood, but it was evident my sister-in-law had hurriedly stripped the place of her prized treasures before departing with my niece. Errol and I searched the rooms for signs of remaining zombies as well as valuables we could either return to Ruaera if we encountered her once more or possibly sell if need be. We did not find the undead but we did find a few weapons along with some jewelry. I allowed Errol to hang on to many of his findings, though I asked to carry a jewelry box that played a familiar Elvish lullaby when opened. Along with the jewelry, Errol pocketed one of my niece’s finer dolls and a couple of her books.

Errol and I took turns keeping watch while the others slept, in case there were a few zombies or another reaper on the loose. During my shift I heard a loud, metallic bang and some agitated shouts ring out through the abandoned town. Since the voice spoke in a language I did not recognize, I woke the others and told them to listen. Errol understood the words as Gnome, explaining they sounded irritated because the Gnome was shouting curses (As in curse words, not the dark magic kind of curse). Upon investigation we discovered Frank, the eccentric little Gnome, trying like hell to move his magic box.

“Hey!” I shouted at him. “What are you still doing here?”

He seemed taken aback at first, startled by my sudden and unexpected words. Once he saw us, that dopey smile formed across his lips and he relaxed. He explained he had been held up from relocating with the rest of the city’s people because his box would not budge. We asked if he wanted help, a question that caused an amused look to cross his face. He told us we could try, something I did not understand until Maal found he could not lift the box.

Frank implied the box was hungry, so Maal offered a days rations to the animated object. Once fed, the box, to Frank’s delight, sprang to life once more. To show his gratitude, Frank offered Maal a free pull from the magic box. The half Orc won an axe constructed of sturdy bone.

Another good deed was done, but we couldn’t let pass the opportunity to win another mystical object. We all laid down our ten gold pieces (Maal borrowing ten from me) and took our turn putting our hand in the box. Yun pulled out a marble of lightning (she always wins the coolest stuff!) while I pulled forth a large citrine that spans the length of my open palm (not the magical weapon I was hoping for, but it should bring in a few gold pieces). Errol pulled out a large wooden shield that triples as a sled and a wagon, something he traded to Maal for the fancy hat Maal won. From Errol, Maal borrowed another ten gold pieces and won a pair of flashy reptilian style boots that stay clean and dry no matter what you walk in or through.

Once we had our fill of pulling prizes from the box, we asked Frank if he wanted to accompany us in our quest. He seemed quite reluctant, not at all enticed by the prospect of adventure. Finally he agreed to follow us north as he knew the townspeople had fled in that direction.

So the six of us (seven if you include the box) traveled northward across the southwestern planes. Luckily for us, the day’s traverse turned out to be mostly uneventful, save for the entertainment Frank’s naturally nutty personality provided. With the previous night’s battle still so near, we all needed a quiet day.

Once night fell, we set up camp. As per usual, Errol and I took turns keeping watch while the others slept since we only require four hours of deep meditation. Errol reported footsteps in the distance when our shifts changed, telling me to keep an ear out for them just in case. I listened for the footsteps but heard none. What I did hear over my watch seemed much more animalistic. And whatever it was, it seemed to be circling us.

Uncertain what it could be, I shook Maal awake to investigate with Lavin and me, not wanting to leave the sleeping members of our party completely unguarded. I also wanted the biggest member of our crew along with me as the sounds seemed to indicate multiple animals and, to be honest, I was a little concerned it was unicorns.

When the beasts revealed themselves to us, we discovered it was far worse than unicorns. What they were, I’m still not entirely sure. They were wolf like creatures, five or six of them in total, whose skin pealed back from their faces when they bore their sharp teeth at us.

Panic struck and I fled with Lavin on my heels. I don’t know why I was so gripped by fear. It’s actually quite embarrassing. I’ve seen my fair share of fierce, evil creatures in my life and I’ve seldom allowed their fearsome demeanors distract me from taking a stand against them. But I couldn’t hold myself together this time. After their skin receded and the deep growls pushed past razor sharp teeth, for some reason all I could see was the terrible memory of my parents brutal death. Perhaps Kane’s death provoked certain memories to arise, memories I’ve always kept but had been able to repress enough to fight through.

As I fled, the commotion I must have made awoke Yun and Errol. Yun sprung into action, helping Maal slay the foul creatures while Errol scurried to put his armor back on. For a while, time stood still. What felt like hours passed before Errol fully readied himself to fight, though by then Maal and Yun had killed them all. What felt like a day passed before my heart rate returned to normal and the visions of my parent’s demise vanished. Even then it was hardly noon.

Once the fear had fled my body, Frank woke up and our company moved on. Along the northern shores we found a make-shift village, or rather, a camp of Vicol’s refugees. The guards, we all noticed, were young boys no older than 13 who were armed with… well, nothing, really. I know the circumstances of the boy guards were far from funny, but I found the sight to be rather humorous. I couldn’t contain the laughter once one of the boys told us to halt and asked us what business we had there, something that seemed to frighten the young guard more than anything.

Note to self: work on people skills.

I told them our crew meant no harm and that I was looking for my sister-in-law and young niece. The second boy scampered off to find them, returning with both Ruaera and Runae in no time. I exchanged a long embrace with my brother’s family before I introduced them to the friends they had not yet met; Yun, Errol and John. Errol extracted the books and the doll he had collected from Ruaera’s old home. He stooped down and gave them to Runae who gave him a small hug, clearly delighted to have a few more of her possessions back.

When Ruaera asked what had happened back in Vicol, I couldn’t contain the awful news. I informed her of Kane’s demise and she burst into tears. My friends respectfully left us alone, wandering off to find a boat to carry us across the sea. Runae, who didn’t fully understand what was going on, scampered off with Lavin while I consoled my heartbroken sister-in-law. I returned her jewelry box, something that made her smile, if only for a moment. She explained to me it had been a gift from Kane and made by his very own hands, which explained the familiar lullaby it played.

At one point during my visit, Ruaera mentioned I did not show signs of grieving. Though I hide it well on the outside, I assure you my heart still grieves for my lost brother. I suppose it always will, but I must be strong. It’s how I was raised. Never forget, but never allow sorrow to cloud judgment or mind.

So I used the old excuse that I am accustom to witnessing tragedy, that it had all sunk in and I had come to terms with Kane’s passing. I found it strange when Ruaera had to ask what sort of tragedy I had encountered in my past and even stranger when I realized Kane had never told her about our parent’s brutal death. It sort of shaped us into the adults we became, I’m surprised my brother never shared this fact with his own wife. Not surprised enough, however, to dwell upon it. I had several other matters on my mind and, as surprising as it was, I found it to be of little importance at the time.

Before I could take my leave, Ruaera inquired about my quest and the unlikely group I have been traveling with. I told her it was best if she knew little but assured her that our mission was clear and of the upmost importance. If it were not, I explained, I would stay in the makeshift village with her and Runae. I promised I would find them when I could and would write to them in the meantime. As I was leaving, she told me of a sailor who may be able to assist my companions and me across the sea. She did know his name, but told me he would probably be drunk.

Once I departed from Ruaera, I slowly wandered through the makeshift village lost in thought and grief while I casually searched for my crew. I found them unloading a stock of grains and other items for a local wine and ale maker. They explained they had bartered labor in exchange for alcohol, which was asking price for the sailor to carry us across the ocean. I helped them unload the stock, ignoring the fact Errol smelled of saltwater and vomit. We were, as promised, paid with six bottles of wine from the happy fellow we had helped.

We found the drunk sailor (whose name we have yet to get) who took a bottle as a down payment before we decided to search for Frank. We found him and his lively box entertaining a small crowd of people. Shuffling through the people, we made our way to the gnome to ask if he wanted to join us in our quest across the water. Again, he seemed quite reluctant to join us but agreed to meet us the next morning.

By nightfall we had made our own camp. Partially out of habit and partially because the village was under the watch of children, Errol and I assumed our guard duties while the others slept. When my shift rolled around, I noticed one of the “guards” had somehow obtained a long sword and was idly swinging it as he conversed with a friend. How he got it was far less a concern than how he handled it, so I took it upon myself to show him a few sword tricks; how to hold it properly, how to swing it and so on. Though appreciative of my short tutorial, the kid seemed timid at the same time (probably because I laughed at him earlier. I really should work on my people skills).

At daybreak, my companions and I gathered at the shore to meet the nameless sailor who requested another bottle of wine before we set sail. Despite the incredibly small size of the vessel, we decided to seek out Frank and see if he wanted to accompany us in the next stretch of our journey. We found his tent set up in the village and when we “knocked”, we heard an unusually deep, loud voice ring out from within. When Frank emerged, we asked him who the voice belonged to, something he told us not to worry about. So we didn’t (for now, anyway).

As promised, Frank checked out the vessel but took little to no interest in stepping aboard. We told him our goal was to reach Triop, the busy city’s name giving the little gnome a brief air of excitement. He told us to go on across the ocean without him and he would meet us in the next city.

So the five of us crammed ourselves into Sailor’s little boat and the drunkard steered us across the sea. We drifted the day away and once night fell, Errol and Maal stayed up while the rest of us attempted sleep. I awoke for my shift after four hours of meditation and sat quietly with Sailor and Maal under the clear night sky.

If I said I had expected an uneventful sailing adventure, that would be a lie. Although, in all honesty, I expected Sailor to drunkenly steer us to the wrong continent. I certainly did not expect the events that would unfold that night.

It started with the slow, barely audible sounds of something scraping against the wooden vessel. I asked Sailor what this could have been, but he hasn’t heard a thing. I glanced over the side of the boat, the moon supplying just enough light for me to see the tentacle that gradually began to climb up out of the water. I pointed this out to Maal who swung his axe at it. He missed the moving tentacle and struck the side of the boat instead, creating a blade shaped hole he kept plugged with his weapon.

The next part is kind of a blur of lightning, ocean monsters and battle. We awoke the others as tentacles continued to rise up out of the dark waters, attempting to grab a hold of the tiny vessel. Errol and I shot arrows at the creature’s many limbs while Maal hacked away with his bone axe. Yun, being the weaponless Monk, punched at the monster before she decided to summon lightning with her new marble. She managed to summon the lightning with great success, but it was us she damaged. Sailor passed out, as did Errol until Maal supplied the elf with one of the tinctures of healing potions he carries. With our rogue back to the waking world, those of us with weapons continued our advances against the beast, fighting the exhaustion that grabbed at us. Yun took the rudder as we tried to prevent the creature from pulling the boat down.

When all was said and done, we managed to escape the sea monster’s clutches. Unfortunately, we were too late to save the vessel which crumbled and we spilled into the ocean. Luckily for us, Yun had steered us towards land and we did not have far to swim.

Maal pulled Sailor from the waters before the unconscious man could drown and heaved him onto the sandy shores of what seemed to be an island. I used my healing skills to bring him back around while Errol and I each traded a healing potion to give us more strength. When I noticed Sailor was still in trouble, I gave him one of the remaining two vials in my stock.

Once all five of us had regained enough strength, we built a small, makeshift shelter to wait out the remainder of the evening in. The second thing we should have built would have been a fire, but somehow we neglected to do this. By the time the sun had chased away the remainder of the night sky, everyone but Yun had come down with something that felt (and still feels like) the flu.

While we huddled around a fire, attempting to rest our achy bones, Yun scavenged the nearby beaches. When she uncovered little more than a gold coin she returned to camp. Over the course of the day the others have seemed to improve in health. I, on the other hand, have not been so lucky in my recovery.

So here I sit, shivering and sweating by the fire as the others prepare to make plans for further survival. I hope beyond hope I can kick this nasty infliction by day’s end. I have people to help and a mission to complete.

PS – John’s been kind of quiet the past few days. I wonder if his bracers got turned back on?

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Ranger Log Entry 3: Fear and Mayhem in Vicol

I write this entry through tears I try not to let my friends see, despite the fact they can tell I’ve taken a hard hit. Physically I’m well. In fact, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. The blow I’ve been stricken with tears at my heart and rattles my mind.

Let me back up a few days…

With the goblins slayed, our group made camp to rest after our victorious battle. We traveled back to Vicol as champions and were received as simple visitors. Upon entering the kingdom, a little gnome welcomed us and supplied us with a map and a little information. He told us their dwarvin king had been slain two months prior by an unknown assailant. In his stead a man called Sir Garrath the Brave took charge of the changing city.

Yun departed our company to check a temple to seek information on potential reaper sightings while Errol went towards the markets, the place Sir Garrath was known to patrol. Maal accompanied me on my search for my brother, Kanae, in the residential districts. My brother we did not find but his wife, Ruaera, found me amongst the crowd & invited us into her home. It was there Maal & I learned about the frequent attacks the city had been enduring for the past few months. The attackers, Ruaera revealed, were members of the undead, and Kanae had joined Sir Garrath and his party to defend the kingdom.

Maal and I thanked Ruaera and departed to find Kanae and Sir Garrath (after saying hello to my niece, Runae, of course) who were said to stroll the markets. We reunited with Yun, Errol and John who all had the same basic idea; find the guy in charge, this Sir Garrath the Brave. The townspeople told us he wouldn’t be seen for a few hours, so we wandered around while we waited. Maal made a few purchases and trades while Yun vocalized her suspicions in regards to Sir Garrath’s reign; why would a human Paladin take charge of a kingdom under dwarf rule? Why not the king’s son, or nephew, or cousin?

Why indeed?

I listened to Yun’s valid concerns but did not put much stock into worrying. I wanted to meet this Sir Garrath before I allowed myself to become suspicious. So I wandered with my group while we awaited sightings of the man in charge. The hours easily passed once we encountered an eccentric, excited and strange gnome with a magical box. For ten gold pieces you could put your hand into the box and keep whatever you pulled out from within. We all took our turn at least once. Yun and Errol each pulled forth some of the finer prizes; Yun received a pair of gauntlets that provided her fists with an excessively powerful punch while Errol won a magical fire sword which, I have to admit, am somewhat jealous of (only somewhat. I do have the fire arrows, after all).

A couple hours passed and it was time to search for Sir Garrath once more. The others looked for him directly while I kept a look out for Kanae, thinking he could properly introduce us to the man he served. It wasn’t Kanae I found first, but rather Sir Garrath himself. I at least assumed it was him, as he was surrounded by guards and seemed to be of great importance. My assumptions were confirmed when I rushed him and was met with a swift punch to the ribcage.

My friends and I all attempted to explain I meant no disrespect, that we were there to offer our services to his army. I explained my brother Kanae was in his employment and that we were friendlies, not foes. Sir Garrath listened with a great interest before instructing us to lay our weapons down. We were arrested for treason and hauled to prison. Kanae spotted me as the guards took us away and, though I called to him, he would not come to our aid. Instead he watched with a confused expression as my friends and I were taken away.

It’s hard to tell exactly how long we were down there before anyone came to see us. Errol picked the locks to our doors but we did not escape, agreeing to wait and see if someone would come to rescue us or, at the very least, fill us in on why we had been imprisoned. Even if we did attempt to escape, none of us had weapons and we wouldn’t have gotten far.

The first person to come was Kanae (along with his wolf companion, Lavin) , who had been told we had come to Vicol to overthrow and overrun the kingdom. If I wasn’t already suspicious of Sir Garrath (which I completely was at this point), Kanae’s words made me quite wary of this guy. I tried to convince my brother we were not there to disrupt the town and that we could help save it, which Kanae didn’t necessarily disbelieve, though he seemed wary when I told him not to trust the man that employed him.

While speaking to my brother, I noticed a glowing pendant that hung around his neck. When I asked him about it, he informed me he had almost met death and that the pendant, given to him by none other than Sir Garrath, was the one thing keeping him alive. Since I was highly suspicious of the man, I became suspicious of the necklace and attempted to snatch it from around his neck without success. When Errol attempted to bribe our way out, Kanae noticed our doors had been picked open and locked us back in.

“I’ll see what’s going on,” is what he told us. “And I will come back to retrieve you. Some one will bring you food.”

At least he didn’t think I was lying.

But no one brought us food. Not for at least a day and even when it was brought down, we found a majority of it to be sour, moldy and mostly inedible.

Again, time drew by without word from a soul. When our next visitor came, it wasn’t Kanae or the guard with more food, but rather four guards and Sir Garrath himself. He spoke to all of us but it was me he looked upon as the words spilled hatefully from his lips.

“You are enemies of the state,” he announced to us in common. “And, as such, you will be executed at this time tomorrow.”

I demanded to know what our crime was, what exactly made us enemies of the state, and I gave no regard to the tone I used. Errol objected to my harsh words, but I didn’t care. Either way we were dead, we might as well know why we were to be publicly killed.

“Because,” he spoke to me in Abyssal. “You’re trying to free IO. It’s a shame. You could have been one of us.”

His use of Abyssal threw me into a near panic and I mistook him for a demon which, thinking back, was a silly mistake on my behalf. If anyone in our party knows demons, it’s me and Sir Garreth did not look like one. Either way, I knew he was up to no good. Also, he’s the second asshole to mistake me for evil or, at least, have potential to be evil. Note to self; ask the next reaper I meet why the hell this is.

Once Garreth left us with his four guards, I spoke to my comrades in Elvish I thought him to be a demon (which Errol had to translate into Dwarvin for Maal to understand) and we hatched an escape plan while the common speaking guards stood idly by, not understanding and not caring what we spoke of. The plan we hatched was this;

Maal created a distraction from his cage. Two guards turned their attention upon him, telling him to shut up while another ran up the stairs (presumably to retrieve more guards) as Yun punched her lock open and Errol sprung himself free. John began crafting spells while I sat and thought just what the hell I could do to help. In the noisy chaos, I remembered Kanae’s companion and decided to call him down, hoping my brother’s wolf was smart enough to help his little sister.

Yun, Errol and John managed to take down the two guards who had busied themselves with Maal’s loud aggression while Lavin charged down the stairs and ripped the third guard to shreds.

Once free, Lavin approached me with a worried air about him. I tried to subdue the animal’s anxieties but with little success. We followed him up the stairs and, before we ran into the night, we found our weapons and gear stowed away in a small room, along with a few coins and a letter no one can read (something I pocketed along with the gold I found, just in case).

What we found outside was not as wonderful as what we found in the small room.

Zombies. Several of them, coming from three directions. Guards attempted to push them back from the ground while Kanae fired arrows from the rooftops. The five of us joined the battle, knowing we couldn’t leave town without the piece of key we had come for, nor could we find it with a bunch of zombies roaming the streets.

The battle was long but we managed to prevail. Kanae joined us when the guards ran off, leaping gracefully from the roof as a wall raised up from the ground to seal the path to the cemetery. He assured me Ruaera and Runae had fled the city to a small fishing village to the north and instructed me to do something similar. I told him we could not and hurriedly asked him where the piece of the key might be hidden. Kanae, though he didn’t know what exactly I spoke of, told us what we sought was probably hidden within the walls of the castle.

Despite Kanae’s advice, Errol suggested we search the cemetery so Yun attempted to punch through the brick wall. Errol and I kept a readied watch while she attempted this, our eyes and ears sharp for sounds of the undead. Not surprisingly, we did hear something. But it wasn’t a zombie.

It was Sir Garrath.

Because he was dressed differently and looked more worn than before, I asked him in Abyssal who he was, just to be sure it was the same man. When he replied in Abyssal, I told Errol, Maal and John to fire freely upon him. Our weapons were no use and Sir Garrath found our efforts to destroy him mildly entertaining.

My hand shakes now as I write this, the flood of the all too recent memories returning to bombard me with sorrow and rage.

“Before I go, would you like to see one more trick?” he asked us, something we all agreed we didn’t want to see.

But he showed us anyway.

He held his hand out and flexed his fingers, as if he were squeezing an unseen object. As he did this, the pendant around my brother’s neck glowed brighter and brighter until it shattered to pieces. When the pendant broke, my brother fell dead to the hard ground.

NO!” was the only word I could formulate as I thought about reaching for my scythe. I wanted to take the head off his ugly, undead body then and there for killing my brother like that.

But Sir Garrath wasn’t done. His final act was to bring forth Kanae’s skeleton from his body.

“There are two more of us,” is what he told us before he left with my brother’s bones.

I tried to go after him, but Errol held me back. We all knew, even me, that it would do me more harm than it would do our quest good by seeking immediate vengeance. So I sat with Lavin for a minuet, who somehow knew what had happened to his companion. In that moment I knew Lavin, though a wolf and free to roam as he pleases, would stay at my side as my friend.

Maal, being a half Orc without much gold, wanted to search my brother’s remains. I threatened to slit his throat. We agreed he could take Kanae’s weapon (which he ended up leaving anyway as it was quite heavy).

When Yun failed to punch through the wall, we decided to try the castle as Kane had told us. Upon entering we found and slayed ten more zombies before we could continue our quest for piece one of four. In the first room we searched, we found a secret passage way that led down into a small room with five doors and a pillar. The pillar bore a plaque that stated something like this;

“Five will enter, one will pass. The final trials will be the remaining four.”

(I don’t remember it verbatim, but you get the idea.)

So we all picked a door. Rather, everyone picked a door and I took whatever was left, my mind still in a sorrowful shock at witnessing my brother’s gruesome death. My door led to another small room with four doors, as did everyone else’s (save for John). Again doors were chosen and again my door led to a small room, this time with three doors and I was joined by only Maal and Errol. The next door I chose led me back to the first room where Yun and John were sitting, a place where Maal soon found his way to, but not Errol.

So we sat and waited and when Errol returned to our party, he looked worn and quite injured. I tried to bring some light to the gloomy situation by saying “you look like you got your ass kicked by an elf” to which he replied “f#%* you.”

I don’t know what happened in that room, but I’m guessing he got his ass kicked by an elf. He also managed to escape alive and with the first piece of the four we need, so I suppose it doesn’t matter what happened in that last room. If you want to know, you’ll have to ask him yourself. He also obtained a locket but he didn’t share what was inside before he clasped it around his neck. It seemed to bring a smile to his face so, whatever it is, it holds value to him and him alone.

Where we go from here I can’t be certain. One kingdom and once piece down, three to go. If it weren’t for our rescue mission, I know for a fact I would track down Sir Garrath myself and slay him with my scythe. For now I’ll keep my vengeance on reserve and save it for the other two reapers who will threaten out path.

I pray to Chorellon Larethian my sister-in-law and niece will be safe in their new village. I pray even harder to the almighty Elf creator that Kanae does not fall into the Abyss.

Give me courage, Chorellon Larethian, and the strength I need to complete this quest. I need it now more than ever.

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Ranger's Log Entry #2: Tracking & Battle

Had to cut the last entry… well, I was going to say short but looking back I guess that was kind of a long entry. No wonder my hand started cramping up.

Anyway, where was I? Ah, right. Thrall had just left us. Our lost gear was uncovered and one of IO’s disciples had just given himself to me but not in that dirty way I know you’re thinking. And I have a magical golden quiver.

So there we were with slightly more information than we began with, a grave warning from that bastard reaper Thrall and no idea where we were.

(“But I thought you were in Outerhaven?” you might be thinking. Yeah, not Outerhaven. Remember how Errol was confused because he was sure his village had been destroyed and his family murdered? He was right, which meant we had no idea where we really were.)

(Have I mentioned I hate the undead? They do shitty things like that to good people. Creepy jerks.)

So for a few minuets we were kind of unsure what to do. Even if we actually had a map (something we stupidly forgot to buy in Sacna), we didn’t know where we were. So John suggested we attempt to track Thrall. Luckily for us, I’m a Ranger and tracking is something I’m fairly good at. I managed to find a set of foot prints that led away from the abandoned village so we followed them.

They led us cross country and we followed them hard. A little too hard, perhaps, as we neglected to make camp for an evening. Errol and I fell victim to exhaustion and passed out. The remaining members of our party made camp and put Maal in charge of look out. Well, Maal, who was also quite exhausted, fell asleep and I was robbed of 100 gold pieces.

Once we all had an adequate amount of rest, we continued onward until we heard ominous drumming. War drums to be more specific. Yun, Errol and I investigated these sounds and discovered a goblin camp of 30 strong. I wanted to set up a surprise attack and take them down, knowing fully well these creatures would be up to no good. My idea was shot down four to one so we continued traveling.

With a dead trail, we found a decent amount of smoke we ventured towards. The smoke, it turns out, sourced from a large city. Upon approach we discovered a caravan set up along the outskirts. The hippies sold us a map for a silver piece before we attempted to enter the city itself.

Entering the city was much harder than expected, it’s gates heavily guarded by a slew of soldiers who refused to allow us to pass. They informed us the city is actually the Capitol, Vicol, something I’m personally embarrassed I did not recognize as my brother and his family resides within its walls and I’ve been here a few times.

We told the soldiers of the goblin army, something they were personally irritated we simply avoided. They told us we could pass only if we slayed the army. Like I knew we should have done, I feel like I should point out.

So we turned around and headed back to the army’s camp, waiting for nightfall to make our attack. Errol silently took care of the guard on duty while I sent a flaming arrow into one of their tents to gain their attention. When the beasts finally figured out what was going on we engaged in battle.

Errol and I sent a number of arrows in their direction while Maal charged them, nearly killing Yun in the process. John went between healing Yun from the injuries she received, both from Maal and the ugly monsters, and hurling magical spells into battle. Errol and I each managed to damage Maal a bit but not enough to render him useless in any way and, before night’s end, we managed to slay the entire army. The chief attempt to flee but, after killing his warriors, was easily taken down and his head taken from his shoulders which excited Maal who was looking forward to collecting its head for proof of our accomplished mission.

Now we’ll be able to enter Vicol. I look forward to returning to this city. I know we’re on a mission for a god and time is, more or less, of the essence, but I think I can manage time to visit with my brother and his family and am excited to do so.

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Entry 1: The Meeting, The Reaper & Everything In Between

When we first met, we fought. Not for vengeance or in a drunken stupor, but for gold & a fleeting moment of triumph in a contest held by Martha’s Capitol city of Sacna. When I, Sage the elvin Ranger, was announced the winner, was awarded 400 gold pieces & was told to enjoy the sights & sounds of the joyful city. I soon meet with the other contestants, zooming in on the elvin Rogue Errol as we share a common race. Shortly thereafter we became somewhat aquatinted with the human Sorcerer, John, & Maal the half Orc Barbarian.
Quite suddenly the celebrations came to a screeching halt when strange trumpets rang out, causing fear & confusion within the city walls. I, the days victor, was sought out by a lady of the kingdom, who implored me to visit with the king to discuss the concerning sounds, something no one knew exactly what they meant but one thing was certain; it wasn’t good. I agreed to see the king and my new and somewhat unlikely companions accompanied me.
But we didn’t go straight to the castle. A hidden door took our interests & led us deep under ground to what appeared to us as being an abandoned town beneath the thriving Capitol. The first house we found, a crumbling three story building, begged us to explore & we did not deny our curiosity. We searched the house, finding an assortment of small treasure including a few good pieces, viles of crude healing potions & a handful of interesting rings. We also found a Choker that tried like hell to kill John but we managed to save John and I slayed the creature with my scythe.
Treasure isn’t the only thing that was discovered in the old, long abandoned house. In one incredibly dark room we discovered the human Monk, Yun, who had been bound to a chair. Wrist bracers disabled her ability to speak. When John was able to remove the magical devices, he in turn received the curse & lost his ability to speak. Even with he voice back, Yun had no clue how she ended up in such a place with the magical devices.
With Yun rescued, the five of us rejoined the world where the lady was kind of like “what the hell have you been doing? The king is waiting.”
So we finally joined the king’s company. Upon meeting the kind but somewhat confused king, we all noticed a child sized figure whose appearance he kept shielded beneath a robe. We asked the king “what’s with the abandoned city under ground?” The king seemed to know nothing of this & sent the little person down to check on it. He also knew nothing of the terrifying trumpets, but sent us to the ruins of an ancient temple to investigate a potential answer to an unclear problem.
The five of us searched the temple, finding several books in its library filled with strange languages & pictures of reptilian like creatures. We also found a secret entrance to a sub level of the temple that led us into a strange room that held four coins that resembled the four elements. We placed these coins into an alter in the center of the room and, upon doing so, were transported to, I think, someplace outside where another child sized cloaked figure greeted us around a camp fire.
The figure introduced himself to us as a disciple of IO. IO, he told us, is the great dragon god who, like his kind, has been trapped in another realm for thousands of years. As a result, the world’s resources have slowly been diminishing and has become a serious threat.
This disciple spoke of a key that is crucial to bringing IO back to our realm, thus returning Martha’s resources. This key is hidden in four pieces scattered across the surrounding continents, though he knew not where.
Concerned about the missing god and the diminishing resources, the small disciple asked us to seek out the pieces of this key, a challenge we all accepted without hesitance (at least there was no hesitance from my end. I guess I can’t really speak for my companions, but no one else seemed wary of the quest). He was also able to return John’s speech, though the bracers remain.
Once the challenge had been accepted, we found ourselves quite suddenly outside of the crumbling temple once more. Uncertain where to begin our search, we returned to the king to explain the troubles at hand and for advice. The king, who was searching for his answers through old books, knew little to nothing about IO or the pieces of the key.
Remembering the small cloaked man who was in his company, we sought him out, finding him in the dark, abandoned city below ground.
The small man turned out to be another disciple of IO who openly shared his doubts for our interesting crew but, nonetheless, supplied us as much information as he could. He knows of disciples who remain, though their whereabouts he could not say for certain beyond a particular “fiery” disciple last seen in the Capitol city of Vicol, a place that was once under Dwarf rule though war may have changed this. He also seemed confident a piece of each key can be found in each Capitol in the four surrounding continents.
Having a place to at least begin our search, we returned to the king and asked for supplies. The king graciously gave us each 8 days worth of rations & a horse.
We rode all day and all night and, from there, we kept riding. Upon reaching the stone bridge that connects the middle continent with the one to the south west, we realized we had ridden our horses a little too far so we found them some water & spent a night before attempting to cross the long bridge.
The next day the horses, though still weary, were well enough to travel and so we embarked the crossing of the bridge. We met nightfall approximately half way across & we set up camp to allow the animals rest. Unfortunately, in the dead of night, we were attacked by a band of goblins who blew up the bridge before we could take them down.
We plummeted to what seemed would be certain death but were rescued by an elf fisherman named Thrall who pulled us all to safety where he took us to his hut and, though we were all in and out of consciousness, fed us stew.
Upon waking, Thrall, seemingly concerned about our well being, implored us to stay with him in his village and eat his stew. He also informed us our gear had not survived the plunge into the water which I found disheartening. When I decided to wander to the beach to search for our possessions, Errol made a confusing discovery; the village we had been taken to was once his home, a place called Outerhaven. The weird thing about this village was that, despite how it seemed to thrive, was thought to have burned to the ground. He found it even more shocking when his young daughter and wife joyously came running to him, mostly because he thought them to be dead.
While Errol reunited with his family, Yun & I searched the beach for our items to no avail so we returned to Thrall’s but where we ate his stew and slept.
The following morning, I felt somewhat ill. Not right in the head, as it were. I didn’t think much of it until I realized that everyone in the village seemed to be replaying the previous day in a manner too exact to seem right. Thrall insisted we remain in Outerhaven to rest, relax and eat. Errol continued to stay with his family while Yun, Maal & I returned to the beach to continue our search for our things. We did not find anything but I did find a strange blueish pink moss growing near the waters, something I recognized as being somewhat poisonous. Which is when I really got suspicious about things. I informed my friends of the moss and both Maal and I stopped eating the stew.
Yun bothered a woman doing laundry who didn’t think anything strange was going on. Not even Errol, though confused, thought anything was wrong. So Yun and Errol kept eating the stew.
Day three rolled around and I was feeling much better but Yun and Errol felt a bit off (I told them not to eat the stew!). My suspicious about Thrall began to arise when I realized he was the only person in Outerhaven who wasn’t doing everything he had done the previous days verbatim. Yun grew suspicious when the laundry lady didn’t remember her. Errol became suspicious when Thrall did not know a fisherman the Rogue recalled from days past, a fisherman who should be easily remembered by all Outerhaven residents.
The five of us gathered that night in Thrall’s hut, attempting to come up with a plan. Maal ripped a leg off the table to use as a weapon while Errol’s wife brought us food which, as delicious as it looked, I found to be tainted with the poisonous moss.
That’s when we noticed a sole fire blazing in the near distance. Upon inspection we found Thrall sitting alone at a camp fire. As we approached he slowly clapped, giving me the final hint that he was not who he said or appeared to be.
He played the “I gave you what you wanted” card before mistaking me for one of him which, now that I think about it, is a little confusing and insulting. If I had my longbow or scythe at the time, I would have taken the breath from his body once he revealed himself as a reaper.
Thrall informed us he and his kind are aware of our quest. His god, Nurul, does not want us to succeed and the reapers will do whatever it takes to stop us. Which didn’t exactly stop us from pressing on. He also informed us our supplies were hidden in the village (which was not Outerhaven, nor did any of its citizens exist).
Before he could vanish, Maal attempted to attack Thrall who easily struck the half orc down and rendered our companion unconscious.
Errol had a time out for a few minuets, trying to digest the fact his family had been taken from him a second time. I felt bad for him. I’m sure we all did. I mean, loosing your family sucks. I can’t imagine having someone play a mind trick on you like that. “Here’s your loving family, alive and well! Just kidding!” What a dick. This is one of the many reasons I hate the undead.
The four of us searched for our things and found our back packs. We gave Maal a green potion that seemingly did nothing. The redish pink potion worked well enough to bring him to consciousness & we continued our hunt for our weapons. After finding them, we found a hidden passageway that led us under one of the huts. There we found, after a brief search, another disciple tied to a chair.
This disciple I noticed was almost gold in color as he told us that, to bring back IO, he could not exist. He offered himself to me and, when he came in for a hug, turned into flames. The flames consumed me and I was transported to the camp fire.
When my companions caught up to me, they found me to be well. They also found me equipped with a golden quiver that gives me unlimited “fire” arrows, something I acquired when the disciple gave himself to me (not like that. I know what you’re thinking).

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