Kai'ckul

Session Notes 4/7

Battle began as Nilbud entered the room of undead. Once again Elias’ holy power destroyed many of the vile undead, that combined with the one two punch of Nulbud/Hammerdal and the magics Eldorins staff put to rest that which should have stayed resting in the first place. Nilbuds continued erratic behavior worsened and she made Elias kiss her dead rat. Jethrail took a trophy from the undead and Hammerdal once again went looking for the sword that he left behind. Eldorin took some time to decode the symbols in this room and dismissed them as the group was granted another vision of Magwir. This time he seemed a bit more disturbed as he spoke of voices mocking and laughing at him. He shivered and let out the name “Demrnil.“ Damrnil was a losty general who took control of the keep during the lost war and desecrated it called the last king of Balantur. A short rest was taken. A discussion was had about Nilbud while she was not around she was off singing “Everything is Awesome” at the top of her lungs repetitively. Eldorin made a medicine check to see what he could determine about what was wrong with her. {I don’t know what he learned or what the discussion was about, I was sent out of the room}
During the rest the group noticed that outdoors one side of the building was completely blacked out. As if all light and life outside the keep was removed. The other side remained normal.
We continued up the stairs and was met with an ambush from an undead human with black eyes. Large minotaur like skeletons (dubbed boners by the party) charged and gored most of the party to the point of death. Nilbud and Eldorin fell. After the battle Eldorin was revived, but Razhad, finally having enough of Nilbuds incessant singing (and behavior in general) convinced the party leave her unconscious.
The next room was filled with more boners which the group took care of, one side of this room had stained glass that appeared black with any absence of light coming through one side of the keep. Eldorin decoded more runes. Another vision this time from the point of view of the flame held in the arm of Magwir who was saying “Did I awaken him?” “Did you?” “Why” “Damernil Lived?” “Talk to me!” “come come” “I am waiting for you partner”
Group discussed leaving for a long rest.
While Nilbud was being carried around the group discussed how small she was and a new unit of mass was created, one Nilbud is approx. 50 lbs.
Orieth scouted the great hall with the abnormally large bats. The group went downstairs to leave and rest, but found that the darkness had overtaken the exit and they could not go out into the unknown. Razhad investigated a scuff mark near a bookshelf and find a trap door beneath. The group goes down into an ancient chamber filled with water there are wet flickering torches on the walls and large stone door. The entire room is filled with Elvish writing except for the door. It is a history of Eldorins family and Balantur. Eldorin cleans up the water. Looks at the sigils covering the door and memorizes them as hammerdal come close and the runes simply disappear due to the swords influence. Took a long rest.
GAINED A LEVEL!

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Bestiary - The Dead
Entry 24

The Dead:
Though we have seen beasts grown to unnatural sizes or twisted with an incarnate fury, perhaps most unsettling of the monstrous creatures we have encountered in these months of madness are those raised from the coils of death.

It seems any creature no longer living can be animated and directed by similar powers, though a curious fact has presented itself — Both Khalo and Elias, blessed or chosen by Kai'ckul and Mediena respectively, have been able to repel or even destroy such things — banishing them irretrievably to the nether realm — by holding forth the symbol of their faith and condemning them. At Arcaibh we found many things wandering the corridors between life and death: Skeletons bound in form and walking as Men, Rotting Corpses, Spectral Warriors whose bodies seemed only tangentially to exist within our realm.

The interesting part is this: while it may be that many different rites exist for the raising of various Un-Dead creatures, some perhaps uttered in the dark of night in the naming of unholy patrons lost to time and space, certainly others — namely those of Maegwir — are animated through the principles of arcane magic. These are the very same principles that animate a broom to sweep one's house, a golem to obey simple commands, or homonculus wrought from clay by Elfin hands to spring to seeming life — and yet, despite the seemingly neutral means of animation, these creatures of Unlife are precisely as despicable to the sight of Kai'ckul and Mediena. It seems that it is not the raising ritual but the very existence of such creatures, moving in twisted mockery of life, that offends the gods.

This is, I think, as it should be. It is only through a misunderstanding of life that one sees death as its opposite. Of those in the Circle, I might have guessed that only Galgaroth had intimate knowledge of the rites necessary to leave such guards as walk the lonely halls of Balentor. I might have been wrong.

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Session Notes 3/31

Notes- Tyler- Make Hammerdal Tent
Tyler- Make DM1 Tent
Bill- Go on website and create Hammerdal mini

Session Notes 3/31/16- Alexa was in 3D!
As the giant Ants Scurried about preparing to leave for their new life in Cenitig, the group discovered a pile of 20 Royal Eggsm, which would hatch into new queens. We destroyed 17 of them and kept 3. These should be worth quite a bit if we choose to sell them.
We proceeded down the hallway with the traps that Razhad had stumbled upon during our battle with the Bulette. Everyone succeeded at avoiding those traps and we proceeded into a room filled with ancient glyphs and a blue marble stone that had a keyhole in it. Beneath the stone was a coffin. Within the coffin was a dwarf skeleton and a gold scepter with a key at the end. Razhad found that the keyhole was trapped with poison gas and skillfully disengaged the incredible intricate trap. Eldorin Deciphered the runes which said that the Lost were not gone forever and that the Dwarves had created a weapon to destroy them should they return.
Once through the trapped door, a blank hallway ending in another keyhole lay ahead. Nilbud, Razhad and Hammerdal went to investigate and not finding any traps tried the key. The floor began to rise and before the trio could be crushed the rest of the group noticed that a chamber blow the room was being exposed. The three just got out of the room before being crushed. In the newly exposed chamber lay a sword unlike anything anyone had ever seen. It was one piece of black metal with no ornamentation. Khalo knew that this was the Sword of Dexinth forged by his ancestors. The sword blocked out any and all magic within its sphere of influence (30’). Hammedal raised it and claimed it as his own.
The group went back around to the top of the tower to explore within and found that the tower was a watch station that was in use for about 1000 years. Within the tower we found spiders and killed them. Also a creation circle and a homunculus made by Walter. Eldorin tricked the homunculus to climb into a sack and we squished it. We also found a magical stone, a vial of grayish liquid (illusion) and some elven bread.
FLASH FORWARD TO ARCHAIB
Battle with the rats began immediately, Nilbud flew into the room and laid claim to all the rats as hers to destroy. Hammerdals anti-magic sword was causing a problem as all of the party’s magical items and powers no longer functioned so he ran into another room. The rats were joined by spectral creatures as well as more than a few zombies. Through sheer force of arms, backstabbing, smiting, and spell casting the group was able to defeat all the enemies. However is anyone killed a rat Nilbud lashed out at them.

Upstairs Hammerdal opened a door to be greeted with a group of undead and while he held back the door called for the party to come help. Everyone rushed upstairs and battle began and just as quickly ended when Elias called upon his god and vaporized almost all of them with one radiant blast. Some runes were dispelled and the group got a vision of Magwir. He said that he was having difficulty attuning himself to the flame, but that the flame definitely wanted him to be here. Specifically he looked out the window toward the island amidst the waves.
The group was discussing having a bit of a rest when Razhad looked in the next room and saw a hulking creature eating a humanoid on the dining room. Before reaching a consensus Nilbud reacted and said she would take care of it and entered the next room. There was more than one thing in there though…….

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Session Notes 3/17
The Ant HIll!!!

As the group approached the Ant hill, they came across a huge bald man crying and clearly injured. After the party tended to his wounds, he introduced himself as Hammerdal and explained that he had entered the mountain with his master a merchant of occult objects from Tyun, WIlliam Crowley. He and his master were looking for eggs which William had thought would have some sort of magical powers. They were quickly overcome by a hunge number of Ants and hammerdal had passed out and awoke outside. He was eager to turn to the caverns and find his master.

We entered stealthily under the guise of “Pass without trace” and passed many ants as we made our way through the winding caverns. Which turned out to be a dead end with no signs of William. After some searching Berenal (who was the bomb in this session btw) trached a large body that had been dragged from this tunnel to another and following those tracks we found what were clearly human remains in a pile, blood splattered and chewed bits on non-edible material. Hammerdal found traces of his masters cloak (NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!) along with a metal box that he kept containing two vials with some kind of liquid in them, and an ivory scroll tube containing a partial map of these caves. In grief Hammerdal punched a large ant nearby. It was a tense moment, but Baranel was able to diffuse the situation before it came to blows.

The crew followed the map to locations marked with X’s on the map. They found one room with a large pile of plant matter covered in aphids producing some sticky gooey substance. They passed by a room containing 23 HUGE ants and wisely kept moving along.

The next area contained mushrooms that the ants used as a food source. Upon entering the room Nilbud was interested in a large red and silver one and wanted to take a bite to see if she would grow big! Unfortunately, as she approached it began to shriek. Three large Ankhegs burst from the ground and attacked. After a quick battle where Nilbud silenced the shrieker and Khalo and Hammerdal carved through the creatures with their tough scaly hides. Razhad did is usual insane amount of slaughtering and Baranel hurled fire at the beasts.

The group quickly left as they heard more Ants coming, The next area was a chaotic Melee between huge beetles and many Ants. Razhad and Nilbud snuck across the room, while Hammerdal raced in and pounded on the first beetle he could see. Assisted by Berenal and Khalo they dropped one beetle then followed the others across the room without further incident.

Finally the group came upon the queen protected by many many of her servants…….get it servANTS. Also, 1000’s of eggs. she was in a stone cavern as opposed to the packed earth room in the rest of the mound. This must have been an entrance to the tower.
Baranel spoke with her (awkwardly) and she tasked the group with destroying a beast that had been slaughtering her subjects. The team decided to double cross her and use this creater to help them defeat her and destroy the eggs. After a bit of cat and mouse with a Bulette the team lured the beast into the queens chamber where it was proptly beset by ants and killed.

The only course of action was to kill the queen. Razhad took aim and dealt a mightly blow to her majest from the shadows and Nilbud deftly dodged her minions and raced across the room to face her, but soon found herself surrounded. Fire from Berenel, arrows and fists bmbarded the queen while the army ants viciously attacked the adventureres. With her final breath before collapsing Nilbud pushed the queen within reach of Khalo who finished her off with his holy smiting awesomeness.

Quickly Berenel took the form of the queen and ordered the rest of the ants to stand down. She took control of the hive and told the colony to move to Cenetig where they should become the protectors of the Dwarves there and form a new symbiotic community of giant Ants and Dwarves.

Once the room was clear, they adventurers took the time to heal a bit and destroy as all the eggs so that the giant ants did not overrun the countryside. Hammerdal took one.

That is where the session ended. Razhad previously had stumbled on a human made room where traps had been laid, but didn’t have time to explore as a Bulette was eating everyone else.

Next Session on 3/31 will have Alexa there in person and we will continue with the Ant hill to wrap up looking around. At that point we will transition back to our regular adventures.

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Session Notes 3/3

Session Notes 3/3/16
The intrepid adventurers hung out in Oakenfell just long enough for Eldorin to check in with the known loyal members of the circle, Zandazar and Galgaroth.

Baranel and Khalo also found the mayor of Oakenfell: Garrell and put him on the trail of those who are kidnapping the elves. He promised to look into the matter and was surprised to hear about it. Baranel’s Elf friend was not happy about that in the least.

We set off and traveled to Archab without incident and when we arrived Finrodel was there waiting for us. He told us the place was empty. He gave Eldorin some attitude and Nilbud gave it right back. Eldorin told him about his concerns concerning the lack of motivation among the circle members, as well as about the waking of the Wyrms, and of the lost. Finordel took off to go have a chat with Celedon.

We entered the keep and found runic wards within the gatehouse and around the courtyard. Eldorin deciphered these runes with magic and figured out how to dispel them. When the courtyard runes were dispelled we saw a vision of Magwir wearing the flame of Therilor as a crown and summoning something.

Elias and Eldorin magically scouted the castle with Arcane eyes, which got us a map of the keep. Although it appeared empty through magical inspection, when we walked in many of the inanimate bones sprang to life and attacked us. These foul creatures seemed to carry some kind of disease with them although luckily Baranel was able to resist the full effects of their bites.

We destroyed the undead in the courtyard (with the blessing on Mediana and Kai’kul) but could not reach the one shooting arrows at us from the catwalk above so we ran into the south entrance of the keep’s remains.

At that point giant rats began to approach the party, and we paused for the week.
Due to people being in and out of town over the next few weeks. We decided to run a one off session (ANT HILL!!!!!) on the 17th (That’s St. Patricks day BTW)

Then do two weeks in a row. The 31st of March and the 7th of April to accommodate Evan and Alexa who will be in town continuing our exploration of Archab.

Then go back to a regular every other week schedule from then on.

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Pressing Business
Entry 23

25th Day of the Moth, Year of the Crown

I waited for some time after the Council in the Gardens of Tolanath, to ensure that all had ample time to consider the effects of such an eventful turning. But I could not wait for long: there was still work to be done and not much time left in Oakenfell. I returned to the Tower and summoned the Mirrormaster to my chambers. Orieth watched curiously from the bookshelf, head bobbing from side to side at times.

“I am glad,” said the gnome, “you have decided on the more reasonable course. I will discuss with Balabar, if he is not already departed.” He left the room with my nod of thanks. Orieth gave me a look, but I held my hand out to stay her ridicule.

“Zandazar is a sensible fellow, and we have only so many allies known to stand against the Betrayer. We cannot add to this a conflict with the Gnomes. We can trust him to make the right decisions.”

The second stop was back to the Council Room, where, as expected, Galgaroth sat still, ruminating without regard to the constant pleasures or demands of life. He listened to my words and considered them carefully. At times he nodded; at others he shook his head — but listen he did.

His parting words were a mystery; he would make no promises, but when has anyone received a promise from Galgaroth the Undying?

“He will take thy knowledge and use it for his own gain,” quoth Orieth. “Shall I then assume that even those known to be untainted by Maegwir’s touch are lost to the battle for Kai’ckul? Is The Circle itself a thing doomed? I shall not abandon hope in this knighthood. We represent the best hope for the world in this time of darkness.”

My final stop for the night was to the forest. I circled the Knotted Glen and climbed the Western Whorl to reach the King’s Circle, where I sat and meditated, awaiting the King himself, Orieth upon my head.

“Whooooo disturbeth?” came a voice by turns calm and booming, which echoed through the hollow. The great and looming form of a giant horned owl appeared from the shell of a twisted, ancient oak at the heart of the circle.

“It is I: Eldorin, wise King Berion.” Orieth cowered before the great majesty of this fine bird, first among the owls of Culdonia. She took shelter at my side.

“For what hast thou come?” was the King’s reply.

“To but seek a favor, wise King. Foul deeds occur in the forest of Culdonia, and few take heed. Rarely have you need to step out of your home as I well know, but few have the advantage of your sight and wisdom. These are dark times, and more ahead, and tragedy might ensue, should darkness gain any foothold in this most sacred land. I beseech you, wise one, to keep watch in the coming times. I must leave Oakenfell as I left before, but when I return — or the others of my Order — we may have great need of help in locating the source of any evil presence. Take note, I beg you, of any foul or unusual doings in the forest where you make your home, and share with me your wisdom when next we meet! For if evil be permitted, surely shall we all suffer its taint.”

“Thy request is noted,” said the King and returned to his hollow. I turned and headed for the Tower Perian and home.

Orieth quipped from my shoulder: “That were prudent, though futile. King Berion obeyeth none but only his own whims. Why bother?”

“Because the need is great and the time is short, Orieth! Our allies will do what is best. Not all are tainted by selfishness and evil. The world burns and it falls to us to choose the form of that which rises in its stead. If our enemies prove false, it will be our undoing, but if I should give up hope in them, I might as well drive the dagger in my own breast now. I choose hope, Orieth. Hope is our only choice.”

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A Choice
Elias Origin Story

He stared.

From the back of the wagon he just stared down.

One hand.

He felt as though his hand was still there. He almost moved it. His eyes lied. It
wasn’t gone.

He stared.

The bandage was so thick that it gave the impression of a giant glove.

One hand.

Every bump in the wagon brought those icy eyes up in pain. The pain brought anger. The anger brought his eyes to the stump. The stump brought sadness. This was the cycle. This would be the cycle for the rest of his life. The wagon brought him ever closer to home. What would his family say? He was sent to the Pale Souls as a tribute to Mikel Pallin, King of Sussenia. The Paardhuis family had long honored and allied themselves with the king even though the palace was on the opposite side of the kingdom. Together they forged a link across Sussenia that both kept order and allowed the other families freedom to run their fiefdoms as they pleased. Elias traveled, at the age of fourteen, to the Pale Souls as tribute to King Pallin to prove the family’s worth.

That was the story Elias continuously told himself.

And now three years later what did he prove? That he’s less than a man? That the Paardhuis family is weak? This was his fault and his family would not forgive him. How could he face them again? He couldn’t.

And yet he was about to find out. After Elias was found without explanation and on the door of death, King Pallin sent Lovisa, Kai and Rivkin to bring Elias home for burial. This was an incredibly generous offer from the king who has many Pale Souls marsh out or die at an all too frequent occurrence. They didn’t think Elias would survive the journey, much less awaken and fall out of the wagon. Much of their journey was in silence. Rivkin sat in the back with Kai and Lovisa drove the wagon. Finally, Elias started to speak.

“How long have we been on the road?” he asked his commander.
“_____”

“I thought you were done,” piped Kai. Rivkin kicked him in the shin.

“And you’re taking me home.” Elias sighed. He sat silent for another moment. “I can’t go.”

He heard Kai and Rivkin shift in the back. Lovisa turned her head. The wagon moved slowly on.

“I can’t go home. Stop the wagon.”

Lovisa slowed the wagon to stillness. “It was the king’s command,” Rivkin quietly spoke from the back.

“To bring my dead body home. That’s an honor. This isn’t. There’s an honor to coming home to die, to be buried. There’s no honor in coming home crippled. I need to go…somewhere else. I can’t go home. I can’t. I just can’t.”

Elias continued to mumble. He was growing unsteady, shaking his head and looking around the landscape that he opened into vast grassy fields.

“Stop the wagon. Stop the wagon. Stop the wagon.”

Lovisa reigned the horses in. She sighed and stared at the road ahead, squinting slightly. “We were hired to bring your body back to Paardhuis land.”

Silence followed. The threat hung in the air.

It was decided. They had to take him home. It was their duty to perform and failure meant punishment. The wagon moved again.

“If you don’t want to be home you can leave after you’re there.” Rivkin offered.

Kai watched him with his head cocked and his brow furrowed. “You’re not that crazy…are you?”

Elias looked about the countryside. Still a bit unfamiliar. Soon he’d see the rocky crags and hilly pastures of his homestead.

Was he that crazy? Maybe. Why did they care? They could just say they completed the job. His family would never reach out. They could go and say Elias was killed without bringing his body. They’d be honored at the notice. But no, now he was a prisoner going home. A place he couldn’t go. Coming back less of a man than when he left to become a man.

Rivkin piped again, “It’ll be fine. You’ll see.”

Elias saw the road approaching a small forest.

He struggled to his knees.

“Don’t”

He looked at his stump and his hand.

“Elias”

He placed a foot on the ground.

“Eli-” He threw himself upwards at Kai and they tumbled over the side of the wagon.

Elias screamed, blinded by pain as his stump struck something. He had no memory of how he got up but he found himself running. Stumbling towards the trees.

He heard Lovisa calling to him.
He heard Kai swearing.
He didn’t look back.
He couldn’t look back.
He stumbled and braced himself.
He screamed again.

After careening into a thicket he finally looked back and listened as his captors, his friends, yelled at each other.

“He broke my leg! He broke my leg,” Kai

“Calm down,” Rivkin

“Just kill him. That’s our job anyway. Bring his body to his fucking home. Fuck this,” Kai continued.

Lovisa turned to Rivkin. “Go get him.”

Again, Elias ran.

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A Journey Home
Elias Origin Story

He awoke slowly. His icy blue eyes revealed a calm blue sky framed by passing green foliage. He felt adrift while the world floated above him. He hadn’t moved. He just looked.

Looked.

His eyes never wavered. The sky was incredibly blue. The branches that filtered into his view seemed to reach into his view to scratch the perfect azure and could never succeed. The sky was so blue. It was a perfect day. He became aware of his breath. Simple, deep and full of the smells of nature. So peaceful. It was spring; time to harvest the radishes and fennel and to birth the kids, calves and foals. He knew. He could smell it. Was he home?

Home?

Home.

Memories flooded and suddenly he knew who he was. He hadn’t worked the land for years. The barracks was home. The standard was home. His sword and shield was who he was. There was something else. Something foggy that wouldn’t come back.

A sudden jolt from the wagon as it tumbled over a fallen branch brought him to a new reality. Pain. The stab in his arm made him call out. A long gravelly vowel leapt out of him followed by what might’ve been a ‘y’ or ‘sh’ or ‘f’ or all of the above. The feeling was so intense that he tried to sit up, but that only brought another stab and extreme throbbing. He swore; or rather, he tried to swear but it just came out as a jumbled combination of sounds.

“He’s awake!” a male voice.

“Elias?” Another, older.

“Be still,” was the last voice, and it held such authority that he had no choice but to obey. That was who he was. He laid back and looked at the sky. He breathed through the pain but felt there was something else. It accompanied the pain in an odd way. He was different. Uneven? Something wasn’t right. He moved his head to look around the wagon. Sitting at the base of the wagon was Rivkin, a brother-in-arms. When they finally met eyes Rivkin repeated his earlier, “Elias,” only this time it was less of a question.

He couldn’t see the two sitting at the front of the wagon but he wouldn’t adjust himself. An order is an order.

The wagon shifted. The foliage to the right of his version overtook the sky. The light green couldn’t hide that bright azure blue. The wagon came to a stop. More pain, but this time he didn’t move or cry out. The drivers shifted and jumped in the back. Elias watched Rivkin watching them.

“Elias.” The third voice.

“Ma’am,” Elias let out between clenched teeth. If he opened his mouth wider he might yell out again. He heard her sigh, turn and jump back to the front. The wagon moved again with a jolt and this time Elias couldn’t stop himself from yelling out.

“Wow,” the young voice whispered. It was Kai. Of course it was Kai. Kai was steward to Lovisa, his commanding officer and current driver of this awful, horrible wagon. Kai was lean and eager, he currently sat to the left of Elias’s head, hand over his mouth and eyes wide with disbelief. His wiry frame looked like he would spring at any moment but Elias couldn’t tell if he which way he wanted to go.

“He’s going to live, isn’t he,” Kai stated.

Elias started at this and tried to sit up but he was stabbed in his arm again. He screamed this time and flailed upward, rising to his right, trying to evade the pain. His momentum took him up and over the side of the wagon and he toppled over, head first. He reached for the ground as it raced towards him, there was a flash of the most awful pain he could remember and everything was black again.

He awoke to more blackness, but this one was alleviated by the gentle light of a campfire reflecting of the branches above him. His body ached.

“He’s awake.” Rivkin.

“This is crazy.” Kai.

Elias heard someone walk over to him. Lovisa came into view. “There’s a story to tell, Elias.”

“We start at the beginning.” Elias gave the traditional response.

“Proceed.”

“I have nothing to give,” said Elias. What was the mission? What happened? Why was he in blankets on a wagon and why did his body feel like it was going to explode?

“Rivkin. The cloth.”

Rivkin came into his sight and held forth a beautiful purple handkerchief. It looked incredibly soft. He looked at it and held a corner out for Elias to see. It was embroidered with ‘R.S.’.

“Do you know this?” asked his commander.

“No.” Was this a test? A specific training exercise designed to test memory after stress? The ache in his body was so intense but it was no longer everywhere.

“I’m hurt. I can’t remember. I’m sorry.”

“What is your story?”

“I fell from the wagon.”

“Before.”

“I saw the sky. I smelled the earth. I thought of my first home.”

“And that is where we bring you.”

Home? Why would he go home? He remembered why he fell from the wagon. What did Kai say? ‘He’s going to live’? What did that mean? He started to rise and put his hands out. Something was wrong. Something was wrong. What was it? His hands hit the ground and the pain exploded again. He collapsed and writhed on the ground. He couldn’t stand. Something was wrong. The pain was too much. It was like a searing red and orange light was blinding him. He never knew how long he yelled but after it finally subsided Lovisa looked to Rivkin.

“Tell him.”

“You missed your return from patrol two weeks ago. We found you with your horse slaughtered nearby and you resting on a bed of grass. Your pack was clean and the handkerchief was under it. Your left hand was gone.”

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Important Events from Last night

1. Alex needs stats on Crab (play out crab fight for fun)
2. Ben needs notes from Diary
3. As a group do we want to fight the ants or leave it as a story to tell together.

Intreague and politics abounded.

The Gnomes tried to get Razhad to steal a book from the secret level of the tower. He told Eldorin and the Gnomes were their normal douchy selves about it. Plans are in the works to limit their activity in the tower Perian. They are also withholding our promised books (although Razhad might steal them)

Baranel met a girl who claims that Wood Elves are going missing and getting sucked dry from the inside out (Including her brother). She blames the high elves. The team tried to set up a sting and failed to gain any traction. Although a pit with bones of various creatures was found near the city with small footprints leading to and from the city.

Khalo and Elias chose a leader for their hermitage. I don’t have the info on these people. Can someone else fill it in.

Eldorin exchanged a lot of information with a number of the other circle members. Importantly finding out that most of them never left the tower. Also the leader of the circle, Finrodel, was summoned and told that maegwir was at Archab. He left immediately thereafter. (Ben want to add anything?)

In the absence of Finrodel, the circle elected Eldorin to oversee the Council of the Code where the world powers met to discuss the events of the day.

Events at the meeting
1. Nilbud was elected as a representative of the wandering halflings.
2. Nilbud asked that all nations reaffirm that the green birth remain a preserve not to be settled by any nation other than that of the halflings. Passed Unanimously
3. Martin Downings put forth a motion to censure Worthend for their aggression against Tumbledown. Razahad brought forth documents proving that Downings had instigated the war by attempting to murder Piter. Motion failed
4. Motion was made to allow Piter Greatworth to marry the lady Mellinius and join their houses. This motion failed on a 5 to 4 vote.
5. Dwarves of the Western Holds demanded that Sussenia suspend the creation of their new port on the grey delta. A compromise was brokered by Nilbud. The compromise deal was passed unanimously
6. The Lady __________ protected by Venmar claimed that extremest followers of Wala destroyed her land and abused her. She called for a tribunal to look into these matters. Jo Barada the leader of Mikk claimed that it was an internal matter and that he would look into it. The lady____________’s motion failed on a 6-3 vote. (Perception checks let the group know that he was behind the attack in the first place)
7. The Dwarves of the Hill Clans came and with the help of our intrepid adventurers convinced the council that the Lost had arisen. A proposal went forward that each nation would supply 20% of their forces to a joint effort, led by the Wardens, to combat these foes. This passed on a 5 to 3 vote (Nilbud Abstained as the halflings have no troops)
8. Nilbud Proposed peace throughout the land in light of the return of the lost. So that each nations should regroup and protect their own homelands. This failed 6 to 2.

I rolled a pair of D20’s 400 times to see if I could roll double 20’s. The law of large numbers gave me the correct number of doubles, but no double 20’s. Tyler Moss rolled double 20’s on his 6th try.

OK I think that was it. If I forgot anything please feel free to add.

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Nilbuds Adventure Full

As Nilbud passed under the portcullis she was immediately beset by panic thinking that the gate would slam shut behind her and that she would be trapped in this seemingly desolate location. A puff of relief left her mouth as nothing seemed to change as she moved deeper into the outer courtyard of Castle Mellinius. Staying close to the walls despite knowing that she could not be seen she noticed that amidst the windblown detritus in the corners of the courtyard lay some of the crunchy grey grasses so common in the greenbirth. But how did it get all the way out here she wondered as she accidentally stepped on some of the dry grasses and made the slightest of sounds. From across the courtyard where the entry way opens to the castle proper, a dog roused by the sound barked and rounded the corner. Nilbud immediately recognized the dog as the same one she wrestled into submission back at the pirate encampment. Just as this recognition dawned on her the huge man who claimed to be the dog’s master came around the corner to see what had piqued his trusty pup’s interest. Smelling and seeing nothing respectively the dog and his human went back around the corner where they must have been keeping an eye on the entrance.

The presence of the man and the dried grass must mean that the pirates that escaped Walter’s encampment. (Damn….Nilbud thinks wishing once again, for the thousandth time that she had just run when she had that bag in her hand {She punches herself in the head}) Regardless, knowing that Honey and Uncle Moss came this way and that she feels somewhat responsible for this situation having partaken in the demolition of Walter’s encampment Nilbud decided to get a little closer and see what’s really going on. Nilbud decided to move through the open gate rather than scaling the wall and risk the cloak slipping or her knocking some pebbles loose (She’s so clumsy she would certainly fall and make a huge racket) Moving carefully to not make the slightest sound Nilbud rounded the corner of the arched opening and found herself face to face with the “huge dog” sniffing the air wildly looking for the source of the odor that just appeared. Finally recognizing the smell of the Halfling the dog reacted instinctively by backing away, placing its head low to the ground with its tail in the air in an act of playful submission waiting for a fun wrestling match to begin. The man who was sitting in a nearby chair picking his nose with fury stopped, flicked some snot at the dog and yelled at it to stop being such an idiot and brought him back to heel.

Nilbud slowly walked away from the odd couple toward the entrance to the keep. Aware that any amount of aggressive humans may await her inside Nilbud hesitated to open the door…. How to get in without being noticed….
Some crates that must have been used for storing pottery (based on the fill sticking out the sides) rested near the building close enough for Nilbud to climb up and look into the nearby window. If you could call it a window more of a large arrow slit, open to the elements on the wind sheltered side of the keep.

As her eyes adjusted to the light she saw a small form working to clean out a sooty fireplace. As the figure was occupied and alone Nilbud decided to take that moment to slowly open the door and slip inside. Despite being as quiet as possible the small figure murmured an apology that he would be finished soon, and turned around from his task. Nilbud saw a face she recognized immediately; despite the dirty sooty face covered in blackness. His name escaped her lips before she could even think to keep her voice down “Uncle Moss”!!!!!!

Moss looked surprised as the bodiless voice shrieked throughout the small antechamber. Nilbuds’ hood went down as she leapt across the room and hugged the old Halfling tightly. She briefly stumbled as she was overcome with pain and
fatigue from the use of the cloak, but her uncle’s embrace bolstered her spirit. Nilbud felt at home for the first time in many years, despite her discomfort at traveling barefoot for days and the near drowning that preceded it. Before Nilbud could say anything else Moss quickly said, “they must not see you. Come with me and be as quiet as a field mouse on his first trip to the widows kitchen”.

Moss lead Nilbud down a series of dark corridors, behind large tapestries, pieces of furniture through the large house and into what must clearly be the servants quarters which are surprisingly dark, dusty and quiet for such a large household. Moss took out a lockpick and made quick work of a door that appeared to be stuck, but in reality has been rigged with a cleverly unobtrusive lock. The room was small and dirty, the only things in this room were a small bed, a washbasin and a rumpled pile of sundries in the corner. Moss quietly instructed Nilbud to wash up and get some rest (You stink more than a pole cat stuffed with your great aunt Lily’s feet) and not to leave until he came back for her. “It won’t be until this evening after my work is done” he said. He went to leave and turned back and gave her a great big kiss saying “I’m as happy to see you as a newborn is to see his mama’s breast”. “Rest now love, I’ll be back as soon as I can”. With that Moss left and Nilbud heard a soft scraping and a click as the lock reengaged. After a quick wash and feeling secure despite the small look of fear behind Moss’ eyes, Nilbud laid down and fell into a deep sleep for the first time in days.

After some time Nilbud awoke in the dark, with only the moon shining its light through the high windows (She must be in a basement) and the sounds of barking from the seals that live on the rocky shores surrounding the keep. Nilbud began her exercises and physical conditioning (ie Hitting hard objects with various parts of her body). About three fourths of the way through her second set he heard footsteps in the hall followed by the scrape click of the secret lock. Uncle Moss slipped into the room and stood before Nilbud. Perhaps it is her rested eyes or the shadows thrown by the pale moonlight, but her uncle looked different. Where he was usually round, he appeard gaunt and haggard, the lines on his face are no longer from smiling, but from scowls and stress. Worst of all the light which shone so brightly in his eyes was diminished. The eyes that were the first to truly see Nilbud…. past her ugliness and beheld her possibilities and strength within. Nilbud and Moss looked at one another for a while. Nilbud became aware of what she must look like to her Uncle. She had certainly grown since last they met, not only in stature and strength, but in capability as well. For the briefest moment Nilbud felt proud of all she had accomplished.

Moss brought some food with him that he had nicked from the kitchens and they had a simple but pleasant meal together over less than pleasant conversation.

“The keep has been taken over by pirates and that the Queen regent and young King are being held captive as the pirates loot trading ships as they travel past the bite to points east in the fathers footprint. It started a few weeks ago when a ship packed to the gunnels with ruffians arrived at Castle Mellinius. The Queen Regent denied them entrance using the few guards at her disposal and the natural defenses that the keep afforded. Somehow they found their way it the secret caverns below the keep and took control. They locked the young king in his chambers and took the queen to the cells. They allow her to see her son only for a few minutes each day, which kept him content for some time, but soon the child became restless. By a sad or happy accident Honey and I made our way to the very place a few days later and were ransacked by the pirates. They stole my goods and butchered my mule for her meat (I miss that ole gal worse than a man misses the sun at the end of a long winter). At first they threw us into the cells with the Queen, but soon decided to make better use of us. I am “employed” as a house boy, cleaning up and serving the &^%’s with whatever and whenever they demand it. Honey is being used as the caretaker of the King. Her sweet face and gregarious nature enamored her to the young monarch and they have much fun together filling their days with games and stories to distract him from the reality of the situation. The Queen still visits daily, but her state is getting worse. The #%&&#*’s are mistreating her something awful, not feeding her well, giving her the boot whenever they get drunk and angry and taking advantage of her womanhood when they are drunk and really angry. I’ve been doing the best I can to bring her what bits of food and medicine that I can sneak down there, but opportunities are few and far between.

At these final words Moss began to weep silent tears of desperation, mixed with a hint of hope that made the pain all the more real. This sight filled Nilbud with anger and pity, and there arose a new feeling inside of her, one of justified righteousness and opportunity. Nilbud comforted her uncle and regailed him with the story of her adventures since she left the Underfoot household. He was clearly impressed, particularly with the parts of the story that took place in the Greenbirth and he almost gasped at the mention of Merla’s clothes chest. Nilbud left off the part of the story about her trying to end her life, but Uncle Moss knew her too well and she ended up spilling all her thoughts and fears on her uncle. He patted her hand gently and reminded her of the true story of Merla Underfoot, the one not told in tales around a campfire. The one of a simple Halfling who followed her heart and ended up inadvertently doing great deeds by helping those she loved. Finally, Nilbud showed her uncle the cloak and what it could do. Moss, a well-traveled Halfling had thought he had seen everything, but even he squealed in delight at the feats his niece could accomplish; not just the turning invisible thing, but her newfound martial talents as well.

Suddenly a brightness and a twinkle came to Moss’s eye as the beginnings of a plan dawned on him.

Pirates are notoriously superstitious folk. Moss said that he even witnessed the group making one of their number go outside spit and turn around three times just because he said aloud the name of a notorious pirate that died 250 years ago.

“What if we make them think that this keep is haunted? Using that cloak and your new skills combined with some sleight of hand and rumor mongering I’m sure that between the two of us we can create enough chaos that you could steal away with the Queen and seek out help from the mainland.”

Nilbud immediately protested! “I will never leave you in the hands of these men” I’ve seen what they are capable of and it is not pretty.” (About as pretty as me). Moss hugged Nilbud and thanked her for her concern saying “We only have one chance a this dear one, and Honey and I can take care of ourselves. They don’t treat us too badly as long as we do what were told and worst case scenario I’ve stashed some packs with provisions over there in the corner in case we need to escape. I would prefer to go with my wares and cart in a few weeks when you can return with help. On the other hand I don’t know if the queen will last that long. She is the one that needs to disappear and soon. Her husband, the previous King Ormond Sr. died when his son was born and if anyone has a reason to haunt this keep and protect he royal family, its him! Let’s start tonight!”

The first night of the haunting was a simple one. Using her calligraphy skills and cloak Nilbud traveled throughout the keep and wrote the following poem on walls and curtains and tablecloths. She made sure that on one of her copies that a feather quill was seen floating in midair as the lines were copied one by one.

The Phantom haunts you angrily from now until you leave.
And now you have an enemy who never shall be seen.
The spirit of the King of old has come to wish you ill.
To harbor here, selected you to gain this tragic spell.
You all must leave this place at once before the sun does rise.
Or else you’ll find one fewer who remains to claim your prize.
A payment for your lives you will leave 3 sacks of gold.
as tribute to this king of death and thus your soul is sold.

King Ormond Mellinius Sr.

Once it was clear that the pirates would not yet leave, Nilbud snuck onto the battlements and using her newfound skills at temporarily paralyzing a man with a touch on just the right part of his spine, paralyzed one guard while pushing another cleanly off the castle ramparts and dashing his brains on the rocks below. Moss pointed this pair out to her as easy targets; they were lazy and usually drunk so she was easily able to overcome them. Nilbud quickly returned to her room and collapsed on the bed almost overcome with the exertion of the last few days combined with the toll the use of her cloak takes on her.

Nilbud rested most of the next day and ate and built her strength while Moss prepared what they needed for the next night’s haunting. A pleasant surprise came with the midafternoon as Honey made her first appearance. After a long hug and many tears between the cousins (who could not be more different than chalk and cheese, Moss liked to say) came a hour of joyful discussions, tearful soul-bearing and whispered tales of love (from Honey anyway). Nilbud felt as warm as she did when she put on the cloak and was practically beaming when Honey asked Nilbud to teach her some of what she had learned in her travels. After a quarter of an hour Honey’s right hook was particularly impressive for a beginner. Honey told Nilbud about the king and queen regent, about what good people they were and how sad she was about how they were being treated. Nilbud vowed to help them, Honey held her tight and breathed into her ear “I know you will save us all my darling”

Bolstered by her conversation with Honey, Nilbud pacd the floor ready to get out there and do her part when Moss came to the secret room. “The bosses have been trying to keep the events of last night quiet but rumors are starting to spread of “a haunting” he said with a slap of his knee and a wry smile. Soon we’ll have this who place as on edge as a squirrel caught between a skunk and a honey bear.

That night, Nilbud used her cloak and great speed to make it appear as if spectral lights were floating around the entire castle. She raced around the parapets and jumped off walls (using her abilities to take the falls without harm that would surely break the legs of others). Up and down the stairwells of the abandoned parts of the keep that no one had entered since the Pirates arrived. In the main keep, doors opened and slammed without any obvious cause, armor rattled and the sounds of creaking floorboards groaned through the eerily quiet dinner the more senior pirates took in the grand dining hall.

Yet the pirates slept soundly that night, until they were jolted out of bed by the screams of one of their number who awoke unable to move as an unseen force held him tightly to his sheets as his bed moved seemingly of its own accord and set adrift in the briny sea. Some of the other leader demanded that their crews set out a row boat after him, but the rank and file simply refused, not wanting to call on the wrath of what was clearly a dangerous spirit.

Nilbud spent the entirety of the third morning in bed retching after using the cloak so much. They needed to come up with a plan for the next night that did not require her to be invisible. Throughout the day the pirates spoke of little apart from The Phantom of Castle Mellinius (as the story would be told for years to come). The captains were having trouble getting their crews to perform even the simplest of tasks. Nilbud was on her own that day as Moss needed to be seen as much as possible around the castle in order to keep suspicion off of himself. Nilbud explored the castle a bit, keeping to the secret ways that Moss showed her and down to the tunnels where the ships were kept. The pirates had 5 ships docked in the caverns below the keep. One had clearly been a ship taken from Walters encampment and the other four had the signs and sigils of the Family Mellinius. The latter were bustling with pirates, moving cargo off of one that had recently arrived back to the docks and preparing another to leave on their daily mission of plundering cargo ships entering the Byte. Nilbud took note of their procedures, and who was in charge of making sure that a ship was ready to depart. One person in particular seemed the most forceful in getting the organization and preparations. This man was a leader and his crew feared and respected him. Nilbud saw clearly her next target. If they were going to escape these ships would be their only hope and the chaos that would come from this man’s absence would be the perfect opportunity to make a break for it. Nilbud also noticed that the pirate ship was relatively unguarded and left apart from the normal routine. They must be using the official look of the Mellinus cutters to get in close and board before their victims even knew there is trouble. Nilbud snuck onto the pirate ship using her natural steathyness, athleticism and small stature to climb a rope on the far side of the vessel and slip into a porthole. (She giggled silently at the scorch marks that peppered the sides of the ship from when it had previously been set on fire and thought fondly of her friend the elf). Aboard she found what she expected, most of the goods and useful items had been offloaded and brought aboard the other ships when the pirates transitioned to the new boats. In the largest of the crews cabins (clearly occupied by the Captain) Nilbud found some clothes that must have been left when the occupant found finer attire in the keep itself, some rumpled letters from Walter with instructions, and a spyglass. The general crew quarters contained little interest except many names carved into the wooden bunks. These names were of women and children, clearly those loved ones the pirates left behind (maybe they aren’t all bad after all). Then in the storage areas she found a cutlass, some barrels of tar and one small cask of rum in the midst of all the tar that must have been missed when they offloaded the ship.

Nilbud hunkered down on the ship and watched the comings and goings around the dock. She analyzed the routine further so that once it was time to escape she would have the knowledge she needed to get aboard. She noticed that at a particular moment there was a clear shift change in the guard directly after the seventh bell. Over the next few hours Nilbud made her preparations. She spread as much of the tar as she could over the hold and the underside of the deck of the ship using an old mop that she found. She hoped that flames set at these point would sink the ship or at least weaken the structure enough that it would be unusable. Well after midnight, when the hustle and bustle of the dock had died down, Nilbud used the mop soaked in the whiskey as a torch and ran around the ship lighting the tar in as many places as possible. Then jumping back out the porthole she came in a swimming back underwater to the far side of the cavern where they was a small natural sloping beach. Nilbud (with a pack containing the remaining good from the ship across her back) snuck back up to the main keep just as the alarm rang out and sleepy/drunk/bedraggled pirates hustled in the other direction to try to put the fires out. Once most of the castle was occupied Nilbud returned to the main part of the castle and found where the harbor master slept (with help from Moss of course). She then soaked his straw mattress in the whiskey she had saved and waited in the dark for him to return. He entered looking exhausted from fighting the fire as well from a hard day’s bossing people around and quickly fell to sleep. Once she heard his deep and resonous snoring she knew it was safe to come out. Using her deft fingers Nilbud tied the man’s legs together and to the posts of the bed, while securing his wrists to his headboard. With one moment’s hesitation at the thought that this man may have loved ones he had left behind, with the hope that what she was doing was for the greater good, and with a whispered “Madiena forgive me” she lit the mattress ablaze as she quickly stunned the man into silence. The flames started silently and as Nilbud continually incapacitated the man the whole bed burst into flames. With a sooty finger, Nilbud quickly scrawled on the wall “To harbor here, selected you to gain this tragic spell” before crawling out the window and skirting around the keep until she found her way to the abandoned servant quarters where she cried herself to sleep muttering “Mediena forgive me.” Over and over again until she drifted off to a restless sleep.

The next day the castle was more riled up than “a beehive whose honey was being taken by a momma bear.” Work practically stopped as the crews essentially revolted while the leaders tried to keep things calm. Rumors flow faster than “A falcon after a big fat rabbit” as word of the most recent death rocked the docklands. The “dockmaster” was well like by everyone. There is no way that this was done by one of their own. Indeed the ship which acted as a point of pride for all the pirates, its loss was felt deeply and once the immediate anger and outbursts had subsided or been quelled, an all-encompassing malaise took over the inhabitants of the castle. Here was no reasonable explanation, or rationalization to be made any more, the only strangers in the castle were the King, Queen Regent, Moss and Honey. All of whom had alibis for the night before. The only explanation could be that he castle was indeed haunted.

Nilbud and Moss saw that their plan had worked. Hey vowed to get this queen out that very evening at 7th bell just as the shift changed at the docks. Moss brought the queen her food at 6 bells (and often tried to ease her wounds at the same time with what little medicine or herbs he could find). That night along with her food Moss brought along Nilbud who was meant to subdue the guards invisibly. However, when the pair arrived they found the outer guard house empty clearly abandoned by whoever was meant to be on duty, and the inner cells had one guard instead of the usual two Moss dropped the queen’s food into her cell as always and then left making sure to say a proper goodbye to the guard. As per the plan Nilbud waited 15 minutes for the queen to eat (she looked so thin and ragged) and gently lifted the keys off of the guards table. Once the guard noticed the levitating keys he bolted! Nilbud quickly opened the door and lowered her hood so that the queen could see her face.

“Hello your highness” she said with a polite curtsey, Nilbud used her best manners and training from being raised in a highborn family (skills that she forgets she has at times) to address the queen in a respectful and appropriate manner. “My uncle Moss and I have been working these past few days to create the chaos necessary to smuggle you out of the castle and go seek aid in returning these lands to their rightful hands. The Queen regent looked doubtful at the strange ceature standing before her. In her weakened state she could hardly believe what she was seeing, but if this young “woman?” was working with the kind old halfling then surely this may be her best chance for escape. Nilbud gingerly handed the woman the cloak and warned her that wearing it make exhaust her, but that it was the best way to get her to the ship. “Stay near me, but make no noise” Nilbud warned the queen, who luckily was slight enough and short enough woman that the cloak covered her just enough to be effective….if she crouched a bit. Nilbud was a bit taller than normal considering the lifts she wore in her shoes and with her hair tied up to look like a man’s hairstyle. This disguise was actually Honey’s idea, Nilbud was to proceed with the plan and if spotted, start screaming in Drawrvish about An Dun. That way the pirates would suspect the dwarves, if anyone, and turn away from the true escape route…the sea. Also, this would take any suspicion away from Moss and Honey.

Nilbud and the Queen made their way to the docks. Nilbud thought that this would be one of the more dangerous parts of the journey, but the Queen regent was resourceful and at a certain junction in the castle tugged on Nilbuds hand to follow in another direction and led her through a secret passage that neither she nor Moss had known about before. This passage led directly down a damp well-worn stone stairwell directly to the underground cavern that housed the royal docks. The journey had taken approximately 30 minutes (10 minutes less than scheduled) and while they were now in a different location than Nilbud had expected she had plenty of time to assess the situation and adjust.

As there were on the previous night, only two guards watched the docks at this hour, everyone else was up at supper. These guards stood at the plank of the ship Nilbud had been expecting to be the next one to go out on a raiding mission based on the pattern of arrivals and departures yesterday. This ship would leave at midnight to avoid the notice and knowledge of any passing merchants. Nilbud was expecting these guards to stay until the 7th bell, but Mediana and even Kai’ckul herself was clearly in favor of this action, as Nilbud watched, the guards looked at each other and begin to have a discussion. One guard was yelling loudly that he was hungry and that if The Phantom was coming for them all that he wanted to eat before he died. That guard promptly left the docks. Now was clearly the chance, only one guard, tired from the end of his shift, and without any heart in the matter. He was easy to sneak up on by slipping silently into the water and swimming most of the way around the dock to climb out of the water behind where the guard was looking. Nilbud quickly stunned the guard and dispatched him. (Feeling a little better about doing her duty having clear signs from the goddesses that her actions were justified) She dragged the body as close to the entrance of the docks and threw him out so that the tide washed him out the entrance.

Nilbud quickly returned to the gangplank and motioned for the queen that the coast was clear. Although she was cloaked, Nilbud could spot her awkward gate as she made her way across the open space to the waiting ship. Once Nilbud scouted the ship and made sure it was actually clear, she had the Queen remove the cloak (the less time she spent beneath its folds the better, as it is the Queen looked shaken as visons suddenly came to her). Nilbud led her to the holds and explained that they would stow away in the cargo and wait until the pirates attempted to board a merchant vessel. At that point they would sneak out and with the gods blessings make their way across to the other vessel and be on way to safety. Once again though the Queen showed her character, she pointed out a place in the hold that was carefully concealed from view. She explained that it had been built this way to smuggle exotic materials, although the kingdom of Mellinus would never actually transport such wares, it was nice to have the option. wink

The Queen climbed into the small cargo compartment while Nilbud had two more errands to run. First, Nilbud went to the galley and grabbed some provisions of food and water and an empty container to act as a chamber pot. Then she quickly snuck off the ship and found the niche that Moss and she had agreed upon. She gently laid the cloak in a crevice, so that it could not be noticed by passersby, but would be easy enough for Moss to grab surreptitiously later. Nilbud gently kissed the cloak and said a prayer. She was sad to leave her friend behind, but “needs must” Moss needs this more right now than I do. They decided together that Moss would use the cloak to keep up the ruse over the next few days and weeks. Now that the idea has been firmly planted in the minds of the pirates only small uses of the cloak would be needed to keep The Phantoms presence felt. She owed her life to that cloak, a life that she finally saw has meaning. Being in the presence of Moss and Honey reignited her will to live. The feats that she had accomplished over the past few days proved to her that she was capable of affecting change for the good in the world. The proud bravery of this queen reminded her that it is not what happens to us but how we react to life that shows the quality of an individual. Nilbud vowed to live from this day on being worthy of this cloak, making Honey and Moss proud and with the bravery of a queen. Nilbud said one final goodbye and hustled back aboard the ship just as the bell tolled seven. Behind her she heard the sounds of the fresh guards entering the dock area. “Where are Ben and Tyler?” one of them said. The other responded “I saw Tyler stuffing his face as I was leaving supper. They must have skipped out early and gotten some grub.” “To be honest I can’t blame them, I’m not looking forward to the graveyard shift with {The Phantom} roaming around this place” said the other.

Nilbud and the queen sat quietly sharing the same stale air for what seemed like eternity. This small space was cozy for Nilbud, but the queen was definitely feeling the cramped quarters and was very dirty and smelly from her poor treatment over the past weeks. Despite the situation, Nilbud was in awe of this queen, she sat in this dank, cramped hole with the poise and regal air of one waiting for her coronation. This woman was perfect Nilbud thought. “If I can just get her cleaned up a bit and back to Worthend I know King Pieter could love her. That way she would be safe. He would get an heir (and perhaps one of his own considering how young she is) and the Kingdom of Worthend would receive money from the shipping coming through the Byte. Most importantly if Worthend is returned to its former state of grandeur then the greebirth will be better protected moving forward. This is a win win win win situation and I must make it happen! I can do this!”

Finally, they heard men make their way to the docks and crates being loaded onto the ship. There were many footsteps (Nilbud was trying to keep track, but lost count) yelling and commotion above as the ship prepared to leave port. Nilbud could hardly stand to breathe, she was sure that any second they would be discovered. Again though luck, the goddesses, or clever shipwrites were on their side and with a rocking lurch the two women felt their ship make its way to the open sea. The plan was to wait here until the pirates attempted to board a merchant ship, then somehow the two of them would escape. Nilbud had the beginnings of a plan, she just hoped it would be enough. She was inspired by her old friend the Elf burning the sails of the pirates ships back at Walter’s encampment. Although she did not have magic, she did have one bottle of the rum left. She made a makeshift fire bomb by soaking a rag in the strong liquor and stoppering the bottle with it. She could use this as a fuse and toss the bottle at the mast which should light the sails on fire. Then in the confusion of the raid Nilbud could lift the queen over her shoulder and climb aboard the merchant ship. Then quickly cut the lines holding the two ships together and get the merchants to hightail it out of there faster than an army ant in a termite mound” This all seemed very farfetched to her but it was the best plan she could come up with “I have no gift for strategy” she muttered as she woke from a light sleep.

The sound that woke her was the hustling of feet above her head; she heard orders being shouted and knew that it was almost time. Her flame bottle was prepared and she said a silent prayer to Madiena and Namaka for protection and luck. She noticed that the queen was also in a state of devotion, but her words were not for herself, but for her son back in the keep. The queen finished with a gesture to Kai’ckul and her face set in stony resolve. “Let’s go show those &@$$*&^% what a woman can do” she said to Nilbud. With a silent nod and grimace of determination Nilbud poked her head out of the smuggling compartment and was glad to see that all the crew had been called above decks to prepare for the raid. Looking at the crates Nilbud saw some common supplies, but strangely found a crate with linnens inside. She quickly grabbed some clothes that looked like they could fit the queen along with some towels “Never leave home without a towel” Moss used to say.

Once Nilbud felt the ship lurch sideways she knew the ships would soon come in contact and she knew it was time. She peeked above decks and saw crew members waiting with hooks and ropes as the two ships grew nearer and nearer. Nilbud saw a sign that let her know that she would be able to do this. The merchants were Dwarves! Nilbuds relief overwhelmed her. Dwarves would not give up easily and the disguise that she and Honey had put together would convince both sides that she was a dwarf. That way even if reports get back of the queen’s abduction no blame would be laid on Moss and Honey. The queen left her hiding spot and crept near the trap door leading to the deck. Nilbud slowly and silently crept into the light. Fortunately, all the attention was being paid to the upcoming boarding and pillaging so no one saw her make her away across decks to the far side of the ship. The timing could not be better, just as the two ships collided Nilbud threw her bottle and just for good measure saw the opportunity to cut some of the lines holding a different sail in place. Almost immediately pirates began to look over at the sails and shouted to get it under control. A number of the crew that were about to board the Dwarven ship abandoned the attack and ran to the sails. Using her incredible speed Nilbud raced back at quickly as she could (hoping to avoid detection) back to the where the queen waited below decks. Nilbud reached down and quickly pulled the queen up. A quick analysis of the attack showed that she could skirt the edges of the fray and make her jump without having to deal with too many pirates. “Hold on tight highness” Nilbud said as she slung the grown human woman over her shoulder and took off as fast as her legs could carry her (which was pretty darn fast considering the training Nilbud had been doing)

As she got near the actual battle Nilbud dug deep into her reserves to make a mighty leap from one ship to the next. She landed safely and quickly found a secure place to stash the queen. Nilbud then took off and joined the fight, she knocked one pirate off the ship and stuned another who was quickly felled by one of the dwarves. Nilbud started shouting a Dwarvish rally cry that she picked up from Dwarvish travelers in her days with Moss. She was moving quickly enough and everyone was distracted enough not to nice the subtle differences between her physique and that of a female dwarf. Nilbud began cutting lines as quickly as she could to stop as many pirates from boarding as possible. After a few moments of pitched battle enough lines had been cut that the merchants could disengage and pull away from the pirates. The damaged sail that Nilbud had left behind allowed the merchants to outpace the pirates and escape toward the relative safety of the father’s footprint. After the last pirate had been forcefully removed from the ship Nilbud took a respite and looked up at her surroundings, to her utter shock who did she at the helm but the Queen steering the ship toward safety and bellowing orders in Dwarvish. The helmsman lay slumped on the deck having been peppered with arrows. It was the queen that ultimately saved the day after all.

The next few days passed with a much greater sense of ease than the preceding days of fear and exhaustion. The Dwarven traders were thankful and impressed that Nilbud had helped them fend off the marauders and were in awe of the queen who had so confidently taken on a mantle of authority. They were so appreciative they even offered to go out of their way to take the pair to the Greenbirth. The Dwarves felt the detour was necessary for the women’s safety as they knew that aggression had been growing between the Dwarves and the men of Sussenia. By dropping them off well south of the conflict the two could travel safely to Worthend. Nilbud was happy because it would allow her to see how Seth was getting on with rebuilding the Inn. The crew offered comfortable quarters and food to insure the health of their guests, and even promised them a bit of money and transportation to help them along the way once they were left upon the shores of Nilbuds homeland. In this way the days passed uneventfully.

Once land was spotted the two prepared for departure, said goodbye to their new friends Molybdin, Tungstin, Chromin and Seaborgin. The group of cousins from the Periodin clan promised them hospitality if they ever again came through An Dun. All of this generosity seemed odd to Nilbud but she didn’t know the full value of the wares in the hold. If she did, then the promise of food, drink and safe lodging would seem paltry in comparison to the amount of gold (and power) these dwarves were to acquire when they returned home.

Nilbud used her new spyglass to scout the landing site and although the Dwarves had promised to bring her to the Greenbirth, clearly they meant some other location than what Nilbud had expected because the rowboat dropped them off at a part of the country that Nilbud had never seen. The merchants pointed them Eastward and told them that Worthen was “That Way.” With no other information to go on and firmly seated behind the queen on the riding pony that the crew had generously gifted to them. (The queen and Nilbud decided to call her Phantom.

The pair rode eastward into the rising sun. Nilbud knew not what would come, but for the first time felt confident that no matter what that she had a purpose and the power to fulfill her destiny.

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