Seeds of Anterra

A New Party Sees the Challenge
New Campaign!

Our adventure begins as the first day of Rain comes, in the port town of Barend and two strangers from the south step off of the docks into town. 

 

The first, is a silver scaled Dragonborn named, Arianna Emeraldstar from the Egg, the capitol of the Nest's empire. She carries with her a Steel Box, sealed with magic and lacking a key, sent ahead of her by a more standard messenger. Inside lies a masterpiece of Jewelry, a Diadem forged by her master, and her clutch. 

The other is Abur MacGuffy,a Dwarf hired by the Warders, an organization in the Cragdeep Empire who concerns themselves with holding correct knowledge through the world. Abur has been hired to begin updating their maps of the trails between Barend and Whitewood, and has also been asked to bring more back over time. 

They both have hired the Blackwood Caravan company to take them along the trail, as guards and company. After meeting with the company's leader Finn Attala, and the other members of the guard: a Pale and dark Aasimar- Arrayah Khan, a rather jovial human – Emille Navoc, and a light brown dragonborn named Ahken.

The group set out on their journey the next day, taking warnings of Fey-Ruins in mind. The first few nights were quiet, but on the 4th night, a local tremor gave warning to an attack of an Ankheg, a nasty monstroous bug capable of spitting acid all over. 

As the party forced the beast to retreat, they noticed that there was a change in the trail. Somehow, a Fey Ruin had appeared in the trail. Not willing to risk getting lost, Finn had the camp stay put, and put up an extra vigilant watch, to make sure that they didn't lose anyone in the ruins. 

Almost a full day later, Arianna notices on her volunteer watch, that at least six of the merchants traveling with the caravan have disappeared. Finn quickly begins barking orders, having herself and Akhen on a much more stringent watch, and ordering Emille, Abur, Arrianna, and Arrayah to investigate the ruins, and get their people out. 

At first not taking precautions to hide their presence, the search party struck out to the ruins, getting ambushed by cultists of a Dragon Cult as they approached. 

Needing backup, they sent Emille to got and retrieve FInn and Ahken, but struck into the depths of the ruins themselves. Fighting off more cultists, and their summoned infantile Beholder, the group manages to stop some strange ritual focused on a Nightmare Dragon Egg.

The group debates over the egg, based on its dangerous nature, but Arriana manages to convince them to keep the egg safe.

The group sets out the next morning as the ruins disappears, and make for Whitewood

That night, Arianna takes the the box with the diadem to the Nobillo family, meeting the son of the family Daeyn and the lady of the House [[Felicity Sannas Teloora Nabillo III]]. Later that night after completing the delivery, there's a night of well needed rest.

As the morning comes… the tavern the company was staying in is quickly swarmed with the guard of the castle, and the party is brought to the throne room, where Daeyn sits on the throne, as it's revealed Lady Felicity was found dead. Killed by a curse placed on the Diadem. 

Abur's quick thinking saves the party, as they force a chance to investigate and prove their innocence.

They search, finding a number of items. 

  1. The cursed Diadem. 
  2. A silver dragonborn scale. 
  3. A white rose, with the Lady's Name burnt onto it… and stained red.

Further investigation proves the party's innocennce, but implicates Finn, as a safehouse for the White Rose is found, and further proof is secured that Finn is responsible for the kill.

Based on a theory, Abur asks that a watch is put on a member of the caravan he finds a touch suspicious, Emille. As the night winds to a close, it appears Abur's mistrust is correct. Emille has gone missing. 

 

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A Trade Causes Complications
A 4th member of the Party Joins

After the party is released by Daeyn for proving their innocence, each of them retires for the evening. Arianna is interrupted by a flash of purple light and the faint smell of smoke, before a letter from her master appears before her, via a Scroll of Telescription.

""Arianna,

Due to… the unfortunate nature of what happened to the Lady Felicity, the Magisters of the Nest contacted me after receiving a Scroll of Telescription from the Royal family of Aven, demanding your arrest and my restitution for the crime. I am told that a second letter arrived as well, speaking of the darkness that traveled with your caravan truly responsible for the death of the dear Lady.

As for your unique charge, I have spoken to the council…. and his highness, off the records of course. The council is in favor of immediately destroying the lost egg. If it is of a darker nature, they are not willing to risk the rehabilitation necessary.

However… his highness, has asked that you take the lost child through a darker territory, to avoid wandering eyes. Outside of your trusted companions, no one is to know of the egg from this point. If you must contact us again, there are two Scrolls of Telescription within. Refer to the egg as the Jewel of Torad.

While the road is dangerous, his highnes suggests the Underroad of Cragdeep, through the capitol of Kingshead, and then meeting his personal guard in the border town of Fallen Gulch.

Trust no one in this Arianna, and if you must trust them, make sure they understand the importance of such a jewel.

Please be careful.
Kaldur"

Arianna chooses to share this letter with Abur first knowing that he’s likely the only person she knows who she can trust as well as knows the way through the Black Road.

She also clues in Arrayah, as her boss is imprisoned, one of her cohorts did the deed, and it might be best if she traveled with the two of them. Arrayah accepts.

It is at that time, the dragonborn Ahken comes in a rush. He’s recieved word that Daeyn plans to execute Finn for the crime of regicide. He begs the three of them intercede, and try to prevent the lord of Arun from killing her.

They agree, and manage to convince Daeyn to hold off for a week, pending a confession from the culprit, and even better, the culprits head

The party begins chasing the wayward Emilie, and finds proof of his guilt… And signs that his identity is that of a Changeling, who calls herself Roux.

Upon bringing a written confession left behind by the assassin, asking the party to meet her, to Lord Daeyn, the man agrees to let Finn go in the morning. He also states that he will send his guard after the assassin. Feeling a personal vendetta, all three of the Party say they will lead the charge.

Daeyn agrees, and the party begins marching a few hours before the guard can be mustered and sent.

The party finds the assassin exactly where she says they would find her. She begs for mercy, claiming guilt and that she completed the contract in bad conscience worrying that it broke the religious Tenets of the White Rose.

She says she needs the party to help her gain proof that the real Emile is the real culprit, the master of the local Sect, and that he personally met with Daeyn to set up the contract that murdered his mother as a power grab in a normally matriarchal society.

She only barely convinces the party, promising her weapons a holy symbol of The Grey Lady, and her life. If the manifest shows she’s lying, it’ll be her head. If she’s telling the truth, the party will spare her Daeyn’s wrath, but still require an impressive debt from her for sparing her.

The party follows the directions of Roux, as she leads them through an unknown cave system to the Temple of the Grey Lady, the training grounds and hideout of the Arun Sect of the White Rose.

Arrayah uses her abilities as a Druid to take the form of a Giant Spider, identical to the spider constructs the Rose uses to patrol the valley, scouting out the broken village, and accidentally charging headlong into the sanctuary of the Rose, tripping alarms and barely making it out with her skin intact. The remaining party begins charging the moment they hear the bells being tolled, rushing through the valley to try and save Arrayah, worried she might already be dead.

They manage to fend off several of the Cutlass spiders, as well as the initiates on Guard. They take the opportunity to lay an ambush for the more senior members of the Rose, and nearly wipe them out within the first round of combat, causing one of the more martial combatants to surrender.

In a rare moment of fury shown by Arianna, she scares him into wanting to go home, and rethink his life.

Before charging to the master’s study, they search the combatants belongings, finding a magic spear, a set of magic robes, and 3 cards, fluctuating with powerful energy but otherwise blank.

They each draw a card with intent…. And a series of strange magics affect Arianna, Abur, and Arrayah.

Adriana draws a card showing a woman holding a torch, staring out a window, her expression grim. The background shows 5 more torches raised as a mob. The card disappears after igniting, and as it does, Arianna feels a sense of dread shoot through her, as an older sister might when one of her siblings is in danger. She doesn’t know how, but she knows one of the Clutch is in danger.

Abur draws a card that appears to be a sage centaur, holding a massive tome teaching a class of various race students, in a pagoda overlooking a beautiful valley. It fades from existence, but the thoughts provoked seem to have bolstered and strengthened Abur’s ability.

Arrayah draws a card with a cloaked Tiefling, holding two chained Hellhounds at bay. The card fades as Ash, but something changes internally with the Druid. Her mind begins to fill with an uncanny rage, and she demands the sword and shield from Abur, her pale angelic features showing a righteous fury not previously possessed.

The party rushes into the masters study, coming face to face with Emile, whose Visage is familiar, though they realize that Roux simply borrowed his face.

They give him a chance to explain why the murder, the defamation of the caravan company, and the defamation of Arianna’s master Kaldur. Emile is unrepentant and simply says that there were people willing to pay.

He then immediately attacks, taking Arianna by surprise, and nearly dropping her on the spot with a well placed dagger.

She responds with a roar, and with a flare of Arcane magic, freezes the man in place.

The two hounds he’s with are distracted by Abur, who’s calm demeanor convinces one to turn on his master.

Arrayah goes wild, quickly charging the frozen assassin, swinging the blade in a fury that chips into his frozen form, followed by a shout from Roux who uses her connection to her diety to mark Emile for a short path to the grave.

Emile then shatters from the ice, and with incredible speed disengages from the raging Aasimar, taking a cheap shot at Abur.

The party responds quickly, Arianna firing ice, Abur throwing his mysterious magic spear, and Arrayah tearing two massive blows, augmented by the curse laid by Roux just a moment before. Worried that he will not survive, Emile pulls a Scroll and disappears.

Abur calms the hounds, the group quickly taking a large tome containing several contracts, a book from Emile’s personal collection, and a coin purse before burning the room to a cinder.

The party now turns, as dawn comes running through different tunnels to avoid the guard sent by Daeyn, convinced now that the Guard was meant to collect the manifest and silence anyone who may know of the contract.

In these more dangerous tunnels, the party is confronted by a dark creature, who proves tough, taking many blows that would kill others, and downing Arianna.

The group tries to save the sorcerer, but despite the efforts of the grave priest, the dragonborn has her throat torn by the beast before it tries to retreat. Abur finishes it off with a loud shout, and the group hurries, panicking with the body of their dead friend.

Roux directs them to the temple of Pelor in Whitewood, calling on some debt with the Father, a man of elvish descent, to try and bring the dragonborn back.

Abur starts the ritual by calling upon the slain spirit of the wolfen creature and the honor of the woman, to complete the task laid before her by the discovery of the egg, and the pleading of her own emperor.

Arrayah pleads with her as a new friend. Gently reminding her that all is not finished yet with the world.

Then, at the request of Abur and Arrayah, Roux is asked to try to assist.

She prays to the mysterious Grey Lady, pleading with her mistress that it is not the right time for the sorceress to die. She claims her own life as a debt owed to the sorceress, and after a moment, the torn throat is slowly restored to whole, and Arianna awakes, very grumpy.

As dawn breaks into the small church of Pelor, the party now must decide…. What is their plan of action now?

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The Duel of Ayashka Keep
Holy Crap Everyone Lived

As the group rests and recovers from their recent trials, they each take a few hours to try and recover.

Arrayah finally discovers how much this cards curse has reached, as during her rest, she attempts to take a moment to go through her notes, and it becomes apparent that she is completely unable to read them, as the curse has stolen the language from her mind. There is a moment where she nearly succumbs to the rage once more, but a motherly presence in her mind helps keep her calm.

Ari takes some time to write a letter, the effects of her card still fresh in her mind, as Roux works on getting Arianna into at least fighting shape again. The letter disappears, and an agonizingly long hour passes before a letter returns.

“Ari, I don’t know what jewel you speak of. I hope you remain well. Kaldur is indisposed as I write to you. There was an accident at your clutch forge. Kytum was working in the Breathless forge. Something broke the seal of the room, and the entire building set alight. The clutch made it out… Mostly unharmed.
But two are currently in the Royal infirmary.
Kaldur has been burned severely after trying to go to save all of the clutch.
Kytum…. Kytum is struggling to recover.
The Arcanoi at his bedside is unsure if he will survive, but even if he does… The Arcanoi is worried…
Kytum has lost an arm… And may lose function in most of his remaining arm.
Othis has really stepped up in keeping the clutch in line. It’d be the first time I’ve seen any semse of responsibility from the blue idiot. He seems worried. He was supposed to checking the seals if I remember properly.
As for these strange cards… I have asked a friend at the college to tell me if he recognized anything of them. He suggests that they may be parts of some artifact called the Deck of many things, a dangerous artifact that was lost millenia ago, believed to be destroyed by the random powers of fate…. I dont know what else to say Ari. Father is hurt. Even with the Arcanoi saying he will be fine, I’ve never seen him hurt before. I’m worried. Faeros has spent the last two days missing from anger. Im guessing he went north to Hasselbeck and back to cool off.
Please write back soon. If you can send some gold with your next letter, I can send more to write with.
Please write back soon. If you can send some gold with your next letter, I can send more to write with.
Your clutch sister, Cair”

At this time, as Roux finishes her healing of Ari, and the Dragonborn’s desthscar begins to solidify, the Shadeling disappears for a short while, scouting the town under another guise.

Ari quickly pens another letter, Abur spends this time by passing out. He’s transported mentally to a dream realm, where he spends what feels like months, training under the very Centaur who appeared on his drawn card.

Ari’s second letter poofs away, and Roux returns with some dire news.

First, due to the group not returning, Daeyn has said that all prisoners taken during and for the assassination of Lady Felicity will be executed at Dawn the coming morning. Roux then explains that Ahken also has been taken prisoner, like Finn, as well as a human woman described to be the Saphire Knight.

Then, on top of all of it, Daeyn has supposedly placed his own Father, Lord Sansom under a form of House arrest, which is dividing troops and causing a noticeable difference between the normal troops, and ones Daeyn appears to be paying extra to keep quiet.

Hearing this, the group prepares a plan, based on Arrayah’s knowledge of the laws of her home country. She will challenge Daeyn for the right to stewardship, while the party frees the captives taken by Daeyn. The party would then rush to assist.

The plan is altered again when a collaboration between Roux and Abur results in the discovery of a secret passage, in the same tunnels where Ari had died the night before. Knowing they have just over 20 hours left to deal with the problem, almost the entire group collapses in exhaustion.

As they set out, in the late afternoon, they are ambushed by the forest itself, trees striking at them, almost specifically targeting Roux above the Group, before a pair of wild Magic surges from Ari and Roux cause a freak snowstorm, and allow Abur in his usual fashion, to kill the trees in a rather impossible manner.

They rush to the caves, and find the entrance, using Abur’s connection to the Stone to find the hidden stone wall. With Arrayah guiding, Ari uses a blast of Ice to weaken the wall, followed by a surge of arcane energy, which allows her to lift and toss the Stone door off it’s hinges.

The party then enters the dungeon through the secret hatch, with Arrayah leading the way. Unaware they’re being observed, the party forgets to move cautiously, and triggers a trap, as two statues come to life, the gargoyles attempting to turn the dragonborn to stone. Ray and Abur dispatch the beasts, allowing for Ari to recover, and the party splits up to free their friends, and the blue knight, who appears to be a Raven haired woman, petite but muscled frame, with deep burgundy red eyes.

Ahken is beaten and bloodied, and Finn is not at her best either, but as the plan is explained, all three newcomers quickly agree to it.

Roux disguises herself, and the party leaves as a whole, marching into the guards, and challenging Daeyn.

Arrayah’ s challenge is almost rebuked, until a fiery display of fury from Abur forces the guards to halt, and the aged Lord Sansom validates the challenge.

The party is taken to the throne room, and Arrayah bluffs her newfound ability to wield a Sword and shield, taking Abur as her second.

Father Barrow is retrieved from the temple of Pelor, and combat commenced.

Arrayah quickly struck out in a flurry of blows, taking Daeyn by surprise, but that surprise fades as he quickly responds, striking like a lightning viper against his cousin, tearing her into a messy chunk of bleeding flesh.

Ray calls her second immediately, and Daeyn’ s moves in sync, revealing his identity as the corrupt assassin Emile.

Ray then falls upon her heritage as a half angel of Death, and her entire fore grows gaunt, terrifying, and exudes a shadowy essence that is terrifying to her enemies, causing Emile to panic and run, and causing Daeyn to stutter his movement.

Abur follows with support, before Daeyn responds, striking both of them in another massive flurry that leaves both Abur and Ray on the edge of unconsciousness.

Ari tries to prevent Emile from running, but the slippery rogue disappears before the Sorcerer can catch him.

Roux at this point, disguised as a guard attempts to help Arrayah cheat. In her prayers though, divine magic surges, as Pelor, divine sponsor of the Nabillo family appears.

His presence heals Abur and Ray, and begins to have the entire party and guards up in arms against Daeyn. As he disappears, Father Barrow reminds everyone that the combat must still be completed.

Daeyn doesn’t stop, charging his cousin, but is halted by Abur, and knocked on his ass by Ray.

Before either of them can deliver the coup de grace, they are stopped by Lord Sansom… who asks if they will spare him, only so he personally can make Daeyn feel the pain he has felt from losing his love.

The party agrees, and as Daeyn is taken away, they are rewarded with access to the Divine Vault, and access to the many treasures within.

Abur finds a heirloom of his king, the great Hammer of Tassar Hall.

Arianna takes a black bag, unassuming at first, but finding it to be the satchel of the Scholar-King Barun.

Arrayah finds a personal artifact of the Khan Family, the flying shield of Andarem.

Roux is allowed to take as well, and she takes a strange shirt of adamant, which she later reveals to the group later, is the Armor of an ancient hero from the burning Sands, Arhkat.

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Scholar's Log
By a dwarf no less

Per request from the Stone Lord I have been asked to keep a record of the insane levels of bullshit I’ve had to face on a simple cartography assignment. So here goes, m’lord.

1. Ya could have told me there were fey ruins along that road that contain addle-brained cultists trying to make a behold out of a [REDACTED]! We sorted them out, but I got shot in the chest. It bloody hurt.

2. I did not expect to find an unhatched [REDACTED] on this job, nor did I expect Ari the bloody Dragonborn to want to keep it! This thing has a near 100% of going sideways on us, but her empire remains convinced that it’s worth bringing home. And I’m not wanting to start another war with the Nest over something so small. Still, we should have destroyed it.

3. And then the White Rose shows up and uses a fancy diadem to kill off the Queen. And that fancy diadem was delivered by our merry little band, so of course we look guilty. I was so scared when I had to defend us. I don’t think I even remember half of the crap that came out of my mouth. But it worked I guess.

4. And then it turns out the assassin was a stone-blasted Shadowling, but she feels sorry about what she did and doesn’t like what the White Rose is doing so she defected and helped us track them down. Huh. Strangely this might be the most bizarre thing to occur on this trip, since it worked. We burned their records, killed their assassins, and made off with a bunch of evidence.

5. But then Ari died to a cursed wolf. So we had to resurrect her at a temple nearby. That was fun…

6. And then to top it all off, it turns out that the son of the lady that got killed set the whole thing up so of course we couldn’t let that stand. Regicide, matricide, and what is it called when you’re hunting down your own cousin? Anyways, Lady Arrayah challenged his right and picked me as her second in the duel. It was quite the tussle in the throne room, but we won of course. These ladies I have joined up with have proven to be quite the formidable pair. Nothing stops them. I swear in a week’s time I have found myself admired by their courage and fortitude.

Arianna Emeraldstar: Silver Dragonborn. A jeweler by trade. She died on this venture and received news that a tragic accident had struck her family, but she soldiered on. I’ve seen more seasoned warriors break in similar situations (well, death does that to people normally). She’s committed, and cares deeply about others, and has this odd allure to her that I’d be embarrased to admit to other dwarfs. She carries herself proud, I’ll give her that. More dragonborn should be like her.

Of note: She primarily uses ice based magic, which seems an odd counterpoint to her more comforting personality. She’s a bleeding heart, but at least she isn’t cold (I had to, I HAD TO!)

Arrayah Khan: An Aasimar of noble connections. Her cousin turned out to be a murderer, her aunt ended up dead, and her employer got framed for it all and was nearly executed. She and Ari definitely got hit hard on this assignment.

She strikes me as someone with an adventurous spirit. She can transform into spiders it seems and is willing to rush in to enemy encampments but it worked (?) so no harm there I suppose. Then she found a magic card that made her strong and angry and she grabbed a sword and started attacking everyone around her that she didn’t like (Scholar’s advisory, do not anger her). And then when she stood against Daeyn she wore the visage of an angel of vengence; a cursed warrior of rage and aggression that would not be stopped by anything less than total annihilation. Yet through it all she was devoted to her family and her employ with Finn, the Halfling. A curious combination, and a powerful ally.

We ride south towards Kingshead now. I’ve taken on the role of party outfitter and have spent a considerable amoutn on supplies. We make for the Nest to deliver the [REDACTED], and have to do it in secrecy. On my hip I carry the hammer of Tasser Hall, given to me by Lord Samson of Whitewood. I will present it to the Stone Lord and hope that it will serve as enough of a gesture to ignore the presence of the [REDACTED] should it be discovered.

I have no idea what I have gotten myself into, and I confess that much of this terrifies me. In this past week I have done things I never expected to have to do, yet it came so naturally when I was caught in the moment. Perhaps I have found my place in the world as an adventurer of sorts. Or at least as someone who settles political intrigue with a spear.

This is the end of my first report.

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Scholar's Log: Black Crag City
My cousin is a git

Continuing from where I left off in my last log, our company of Blackwood victims have finished our journey south into my homeland of Cragdeep. We spent a good week on the road getting into Cassia and another 4 days after that getting to Black Crag. I think tensions may be running high in the group as we get nearer to dwarven lands. Ari spends more and more time watching over her wretched egg and grows nervous of being in dwarven territory. Arrayah is still growing accustomed to whatever befell her in that temple when she drew her card. And I find myself dreading the decisions I may have to make for the sake of Cragdeep.

I’ll note here only for the sake of thoroughness that Cassia was not the rest stop that it should have been. I must have reorganized our cart and supplies 5 times that day out of frustration. Roux and I had a disagreement about the nature of the Stone Lord and his Kingdom, and my talks with Ari went no better. Arrayah is the only member of our group that I seem to get on fine with. It doesn’t help that Ari is remarkably skilled and inquisitive for a dragonborn. Were she to shed her scales she’d make for a decent dwarf, but she’s so damn thoughtless at times. She spoke to me about keeping an open mind, but I can’t afford that. She carries one of the most dangerous items I’ve ever seen into the heart of my homeland while assassins make attempts at my Stone Lord!

As our party arrived at Black Crag City we discovered that things had (OF COURSE) gotten worse. The Assembly was caught smuggling in goods and security checkpoints where established for all people coming into the city. As a result I feel I’ve had to lie a lot more today about the nature of our journey than ever before, which has revealed to me that I am a terrible liar. It’s a wonder any of the dwarves here believed me. Or maybe the didn’t believe me and just didn’t care. But then why the need for security then?

We picked up another dragonborn, this one being a tall, flatfaced fellow seeking some lord to serve. Dragonborn are strange creatures. We were directed to petition the governor of Black Crag for passage further south, which meant dealing with my lazy, fat, good -for-nothing, face-ripe-for-punching cousin Drengul Abernathy.

Our talks went well.

As a favor to my dear cousin we assisted in reclaiming goods from a crashed airship up In the East Cindercrests. The ship had come down below the peak of Roran’s Thumb in a shallow river valley, spilling its contents everywhere. The ship’s captain and crew assisted us, as did a funny-looking elf named Kuro, a lass (?) that’s quite skilled with a blade. We camped the first night alongside the wreckade and I gaive directions to the crew to bridge the river and tear off pieces of the airship for moving cargo. While this was being done we were beset by a young brown dragon, a nasty beast, but we managed to trap it underground and kill it. Our new dragonborn friend Takumi (strange names these dragonborn have) was particularly suicidal in his fight and nearly died half a dozen times in the battle, even going so far as to be trapped underground with the beast itself!

How do I keep finding these crazy people? No sense I say.

We recovered much of the cargo from the wreck and found that over two dozen crates were missing, many of them containing tea and opium. As these were very valuable luxeries it wouldn’t do for them to go missing so I plotted out a likely location of the dragon’s hoard so that we may recover it on the morrow. I dubbed the valley Brown Dragon Drop in honor of our victory that day. A dead dragon may well be the best kind of dragon (unless it’s an undead dragon. Those have to be killed again).

We recovered the goods inside an ancient dwarven monestary at the summit of the Thumb. A tough hike, but we made good time. I found the remains of one of my Kingshead cousins, though I was unable to identify his/her identity. I will meet with my family once we arrive in Kingshead and we’ll hold a proper memorial.

After that the remainder of the mission went without issue. We returned the goods to the city, the captain thanked us, Takumi and Kuro seem to have officially joined us so they could pass south, and my dearly idiotic cousin was kind enough to consent to us departing the city without violence of any kind. It’s so nice to have such cooperative family.

I only go into such depth in this particular log due to the nature of the events as they affect Black Crag City. A dead dragon, recovered goods, and dwarven diplomacy all deserve specific recognition. Our next leg of the journey will take us into Kingshead itself, where I expect to be met with a long list of things that need doing before we can push for the border. As I write this log I am resting off the drink and song we had in the bar downstairs. I may be in a good mood outwardly, but inside I know that a dragon grows in an egg not to far from my bed. And I dread what may need to be done to ensure that it never becomes a threat.

They say that nightmare dragons get inside your head, feast on your thoughts, terrorize your mind. I wonder… is the creature inside aware right now? Is its brain developing at such a pace that it knows what lies beyond its shell? Could it be aware that one of its own kind was slain just yesterday? I have many questions regarding this monster we carry with us, but Ari and the Nest are insistant on it being brought south. I am afraid. Yes, I am afraid. I am afraid because I know that the only guaranteed way to ensure the dragon does not become a threat is by taking action that will almost certainly spark conflict with the Nest. My family have trained all our lives for that moment, but I have no desire for war. So instead I shall remain afraid and hope that our mad sorceress is as clever and skilled as she believes she is.

Journal, I think I may just need to get another drink.

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A Ronin’s Diary
First Excursion in a Strange, Small Land

Honorless dragon
Pulls me in unworthy grave
I cannot die yet

In the absence of proper, non-blessed scrolls and calligraphy brushes, I am told by one of my newest companions, Roux-san (It is still strange to me that almost everyone insists on the usage of given names; does one honor the self more than the family in the south? It appears not. So confusing), that one writes in bound tomes such as these. While it was a gift from her, it was Arianna-san that suggested I keep this diary as a way to practice writing and thinking in southern common and draconic. Though I believe both have… ulterior motives. I believe they are worried for my strength of spirit after my series of displays yesterday. Is this meant to comfort me? Allow them to spy on my thoughts? Am I meant to lay myself bare to mine own eyes? We shall see.
This leg of my journey began upon an airship bearing to the Southlands. There was nothing left for me in the North. With the crest of my liege scratch from mine armor but a katana remaining by my side, my dishonor was recognizable by all. It has just occurred to me… I have not drawn my blade since that day. At first, my purchasing of a naginata was simply a survival decision, a way to keep many foes at bay with a longer weapon but… was it truly. I do not wish to think on this.
Tanaki-san was kind enough to take me aboard the ship, or perhaps simply desperate enough for an ounce of protection. Nevertheless, I shall see it as a kind act. Perhaps that is why our vessel was taken by the storm. Perhaps the spirits curse Tanaki-san, doomed his vessel to ruin for taking a ronin such as myself. Perhaps I, or Tanaki-san, are simply unlucky. Regardless of which, the ship crashed and fearsome, southern monsters were upon us. The screams of my fellow passengers… more to add to those voices that haunt me. I was too dazed by the crash, too deaf and blind to save them. Swinging my weapon wildly, I shouted for them all to barricade in the captain’s quarters. Without light by which to see, I committed greater dishonor and hid with them like a coward, my weapon not avenging the dead but barring a door so that my worthless hide might live till morning.
When the rest awoke from that frightful night, we made our forced march towards civilization, the dwarven city of Black Crag. Having kept vigil the entire retreat, I summarily lost consciousness upon reaching safety, yet another weakness to be ashamed of. The crew watched over me for two, feverish days before I had strength enough to climb to my feet. I joined Tamaki-san in beseeching all passerby for aid, but to no avail.
It was on this day that I met the people that I travel with now, who dig me out of my death and gift me things like this journal and unreasonably strong alcohol.
They came as travelers to a land at least partially more familiar to them. A dwarf returning to his homeland (unless the dwarven empire is larger than I believe, which it might very well be) bearing hammers and spears, focused on maps and other scrolls. One of the southern ilk of my people, a priestess by my estimation though her gifts seem to be held in lower esteem in this strange land. Another who appeared human but with some sort of… spiritual essence to them and with a strong bearing. All of them came with a cart closely followed by a distant… elf? I still do not know.
When Tanaki-san beseeched them for help like so many others before them they announced they were trying to travel further and were about to seek audience with the governor. And seek an audience they did for Abur-san, my new dwarf compatriot, is the governor’s cousin. I do not know what discussions took place behind the close doors, only that the two burst through them in the midst of a brawl. This must be how diplomacy is conducted in dwarven society, and Abur-san, a master diplomat, for he not only secured favor for a small, monstrous inventor, but also secured us temporary passage out of the city with permanent passage should we secure the cargo from Tanaki-san’s ruined airship. These adventurer’s agreed to take me on this short quest, if only to help translate for the northern crewmen. We passed the day travelling without incident, to my wary surprise. Even the night’s watch was passed without ambush or any sign of the creatures that had once terrorized us at this very sight. It seemed by the sunrise that we were safe. We were wrong.
The sun had reached it’s when the trembling began. The crew’s sense of safety was shattered when a ferocious roar emerged from the plateau west of our crashed ship. I had no time to react before a storm of sand tore at my flesh and battered against my armor. When I wiped the sand from my eyes, I caught only a glimpse of a young, western dragon, brown in color, before it dove into the plateau. I would have been terrified. I should have been. But all I saw was a fight against a mighty beast, the thrill of the hunt. I did not draw my blade, no, would not. I only held my naginata, my hand never moved towards my katana. Abur-san, by some dwarvish expertise, knew at all times where the beast lay hidden. I made for under the pass so as to ambush the savage beast who dared called itself a dragon, to make myself a target so that Tanaki-san and his crew might escape to safety.
My strategy, such as it was, was a success. It leapt from the rough stone wall and attempted to drag me into the stone. I crashed against its claws to escape its grasp, slashing its snout before it returned to stone. We clashed along and atop the plateau, Arrayah-san and I giving chase to the dragon wherever it hid, the spells of Arianna and Roux-san crashing against its hide. In a rage, the dragon took to the skies and blasted us with sand once more. I was blinked, but not by the sand, but by my rage. I scaled the nearby cliff and threw myself, naginata in hand, at the beast, screaming “Give me an honorable death!”
I do not know why I said those words. I am too afraid to think on the matter.
I almost was granted my wish in part. When I skewered the beast, I kept a tight hold of my weapon. Whether it sensed its opportunity to finally slay me or even noticed me at all, the dragon dove underground. I became trapped in a shallow grave. Truly, I was only entombed for six seconds, though it felt like hours, punctuated by the pounding of Abur-san’s mystical hammer upon my grave. He did what was needed so that I may dig myself out. I owe him my life. The victory this day was owed to Arrayah-san, who brilliantly surmised that the dragon must be close to where I once was. She struck the ground with her maul and found scales. Where it not for her softening the hide, I doubt my blade would have pierced it as it did, slaying the beast.
Finding that we were safe, Abur-san and I spent the day toiling against the cliff side, digging out the dragon to recover my new friend’s magic spear that had lodged into its hide, as well as carve him out a trophy. After this small victory I felt… drained. I felt no elation over our victory against the dragon. I trudged up the mountain with the rest of the party and was simply exhausted. I had nearly forgotten our purpose (finding the dragon’s hoard to recover the rest of the ship’s cargo) and merely followed close behind the party, eyes to the ground and arms limp at my sides. It was like something had been left behind in that shallow grave.
No. This was something left behind in my homeland, the parts of me that would gladly draw my blade at any command. The parts of me who knew the necessity of plunging that same blade into myself.
We all returned alive. I fulfilled my oaths of drinks to the party. But before I could retire, Roux-san offered me a drink. I was still past caring of much at this point, even by the fact that earlier that day she had been a male dwarf and was again in her familiar shape. She offered me not only drink, but also riddles and purpose. The group does not want her speaking to me of her allegiance, of her order, of her god, but she offered me a way to find purpose in my life, should I want it in the southern divines.
Do I want her purpose? Do I want any purpose? The lordly blade I wield, it is still in my possession, it is mine to hold. But I cannot unsheathe the blade that is meant to take my own life, not until I know what it is that I desire. Do I desire release from my dishonor? Do I care of such dishonor? Do I want my old life back? Do I wish for some new lord, some new purpose? Or is there honor in this freedom; am I more than violence without purpose?
I shall have to meditate on this. This group has agreed to let me follow them as they make their way towards the Nest. If I cannot resolve this conflict within me, I should at least quiet my inner demons lest they weigh me down into worthlessness. That would be worse than death or dishonor.

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