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Traveling Journal: To Cryptgarden - Part two of good fucking gods.
So, depth. Depth is good. Depth is usually good, right?

We are out of our fucking depth. We are so out of our depth that it isn't fucking funny.

Speaking of funny? Woodbridge, that sleepy little nowhere just outside of Cryptgarden? Yeah, just an inconsequential little farming town where the owner of the only tavern in town owns EVERYTHING and has a goddamn undead army.

I don't even know what to do with this information. Do I tell someone? I told the group, but the odds aren't great they know what to do with it either.

Oh, speaking of information we met the dragon we were supposed to find. After getting beaten to paste by a couple of Cyclopse.. Cyclopi? Cyclopusses. Whatever. The dragon didn't seem to much care for the gift that Roshim brought her, but accepted the cow he brought along in addition to us killing the giants in her territory. Roshim kept the painting, and for all I care he can keep it in that bag. I made the mistake of looking into it knowing full well what I would see... who I would see.

She tasked us with going farther north to some temple for the Allfather. I'd love to know what that entails, but I don't know the first thing about giants and religion.

Oh, and she wanted us to find a Frost Giant that would help us. Or kill us, I don't really know. I'm sure that won't result in us nearly dying later.

Fuck, religion. I forgot. Did I mention I'm talking to Lathandar again? Because I am. I'm not happy about this, about ANY of this... but if I hadn't stood between our group and the enemy recently I doubt any of us would have walked away from it.

It's been over a hundred years since I last talked to him. Him, her, it. Whatever. I haven't been happy with him leaving us to be robbed and murdered by bandits, and made sure to let him know when we spoke. This isn't just me agreeing to serve him. This is a partnership. I am going to protect these clothed lemmings as they go from near-death event to near-death event and he is going to give me the abilities to do so.

I still have Dria's symbol. It's old and tarnished but at least it's with me.

At least a part of her is still with me.

I am trying to be positive about this. I am trying to walk in the light and not let these people be hurt and not be a piece of shit every day of my life. They don't seem to notice, or even care. Or raise an eyebrow that Shithead Mitch is suddenly wearing armor and carrying a sword and shield and casting spells commonly used by a Paladin...

Nope. Nope. I'm not going to be angry about this. I am going to sincerely fucking try not to be angry about this.

On the plus side, there might not be many days left to worry about! Did I mention there were MORE fucking giants? Because there were! After the forest and somehow living through all of THAT nonsense we found YET ANOTHER GIANT on Stonebridge.

Also, Woodbridge. Stonebridge. Seriously? If we come across a Bridgebridge I'm burning it to the ground.

So yeah, now Fire Giants are running around the world openly as well. That's great. That's super fucking great. Because someone who uses almost exclusively fire, that received their power from a forgotten being of living FIRE is super useful against a creature that is probably made of and sexually attracted to FIRE.

After all of that, guess what we find? ANOTHER GIANT.

Oh but no, this one wants to talk. This one is apparently from Waterdeep and works with humans and was tracking the Fire Giant we killed. In addition, he's going to help us get north to this temple or some teleportation circle or something.

We're not ready for this, not by a long shot. We need stronger weapons and magic. We need thicker shields and supplies to help us survive the increasing cold.

I'm writing angry. I don't normally do this, but hey. Between podunk towns that don't have anything more complicated than farming equipment and constantly eating shit standing between giants and everything else in the world and this group I'm in a lovely goddamn mood.

They're alive. I'm alive. My chicken is safe.

And for once? It doesn't feel like enough.

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Epitaph
Beneath the ground and across a chasm with no bridge to walk there rests a folded piece of paper, held in place underneath a worn and pitted longsword.

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Tags: Scute
Epic × 3!
Two Truths & One Lie/Rumors
I had come across something a DM I follow on Twitter posted about encouraging character interaction/story advancement. Basically each person posts three rumors about their character or their backstory where two of the rumors are true, and one is false.

Example: Leofire
1. He's been trained by four of the five Old Masters in hand-to-hand combat.
2. He once drank a shot glass of Drider venom on a bet, and lived.
3. He had his stomach surgically replaced with a Bag of Holding, allowing him to eat and drink far more than normal mortals.

Let me know if this seems like something people want to do, might give Matt more to work with for our characters. Or at least fuel more shenanigans.
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Tags: backstory , Group
Lost Days, Chapter Two
Mitch let the door close softly behind him, the dull clunk of wood against wood putting an end to the interrogation. He pressed two fingers against the bridge of his nose, trying to fight back the headache that was even now creeping up at the back of his mind.

"Have a nice chat with our little friend, did we?" The voice was female, cutting through the moment of quiet like a hot knife through paper. Letting the hand drop from his face, Mitch glared back at her with tired annoyance.

"Do we really need to do this now?" The words practically rasped out of his throat.

"We do, and you know that. Or are you gonna start lying to y'er old pal Ellie now too?" The woman smirked at him knowingly, the second party to a dance that the both of them had gotten tired of long ago. The difference was, she could still put barbs to him by making it happen.

"No. No I am not nor have I ever lied to you, Ellie-"

"Ah ah. Manners now." She cut him off, tsking at the affront but showing no real offense to it. "I'm bankrolling this little witch hunt of y'ers, the least you could do is be polite." The Paladin straightened in her seat, folding her hands together on the table in front of her like a teacher trying to correct a mistake. "Now, again?"

Mitch glowered at her, but obeyed the request all the same. "No. No I am not, nor have I ever lied to you, Lady Ellebrius of the House Uhrhammer, Holy and Righteous Paladin in the Service of Helm."

She practically bounced in her seat, clapping happily as the mage continued to stare daggers back at her. "I knew you remembered the whole thing! Y'er presentation isn't great but you know all the words and that's a great start!" She scooted on the wooden bench and patted a spot next to her own, looking up at him. "Come on, I'll get you something to drink."

"Food first. If I start drinking on an empty stomach nothing I say will mean anything before too long." Mitch let the prisoner's spellbook fall on the table with a dull thud and sat down next to her, waving a server over as he did so. Within a moment or so a bowl of thick stew and a mug of something that smelled faintly of alcohol were placed in front of him. As the server looked at him expectantly, Mitch tilted his head towards the woman beside him. "Her tab, she's the bankroller after all."

Ellebrius smiled good-naturedly and rolled her eyes in a 'what can you do' fashion towards the mage before dropping two silver coins into the server's waiting hand. He bowed slightly to her in thanks and departed. Before he had so much as walked away Mitch was already halfway through the meal and all but done with the drink. The Paladin watched him eat in silence, propping her head on one hand against the table. After the meal was gone and no words had come from his mouth she cleared her throat loudly at him.

"I know, alright? I was in there for..." He looked at her questioningly. "... how long was I in there?"

Ellebrius turned her head towards the nearest window and then back to him. "Three, four hours maybe?"

"And that is a very long time to consistently lie to someone!" His words had a heavy anger behind them, and a tired resignation that it wouldn't matter this time any more than it had in the times before it.

Her expression scrunched into one of mocking pity. "Oooh, I'm sowwy. Did you get tiwed wying to anooda apooooostate?"

"I AM-" He caught himself halfway to standing up. After a long and drawn out breath, Mitch sat down next to her once again and continued in a strained whisper. "I am not an apostate!" He practically spat the word back at her. "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn't ask for these powers! I don't want these powers! I want to find what is causing this and stop it so it doesn't happen to other people like me!"

"An' it's that helpful attitude a'yer's that'll keep you in my good graces and outta the stocks." Her words had a happy lilt to them as she spoke, complete with the woman giving him a friendly smirk and wink.

"Lest I ever forget." He rolled his eyes, knowing the flirting was an empty gesture on her part. He had fallen for it early on in their... working relationship, but now it rang as hollow as an empty bell. With one last sigh of defeat Mitch slid the spellbook over to sit in front of them. "His name is Bhavalus, he comes from some unimportant little farming who-cares well off the beaten path between Baldur's Gate and Waterdeep." He continued, stopping on certain pages of the book and flipping quickly past others. "Got to see a passing gypsy band as a kid, one of them performed some little magics and the kid became obsessed."

"What is this, a life story?" She looked from the book to him, an indignant expression on her face.

He stared back at her with an annoyed expression and let a moment of silence pass. "Yeah. Done?"

She shrugged and wore an innocent expression. "I'll let y'eh know."

"Anyways, his parents managed to scrape up enough coin to send him to a mage's school. Nothing fancy, just some hole-in-the-wall in Baldur's and after a couple of years he was an honest-to-goodness Wizard. Can't get work anywhere good because he never learned that contacts are just as important as books, and gets stuck performing for petty coin on the streets."

"So why not go home?" The question lacked her usual sense of sarcasm, so he treated it seriously.

"Shame, I'd assume. After his family did so much to get him there it might have been impossible for him to go home empty handed." Mitch shrugged and looked back down at the spellbook, not meeting her eyes. "After failing so badly he was probably willing to do anything to make it right again."

"We aren't just talking about him, are we." When the mage looked back up he was surprised to find Ellebrius looking at him with something approaching earnestness on her face. She was concerned, and for once didn't try to conceal it from him.

And just like that it was there. The look. The goddamn look that he had spent his entire childhood enduring and explaining back to indifference. Expressions of pity that only wanted to help, but instead of accepting them the boy had always assuaged their worry, covered up the fact that he in fact did want help.

In that moment Mitch hated the woman sitting next to him, but knew it wasn't her fault all in the same instant.

"We are right now. Besides, I might be giving this guy the benefit of a conscience that he doesn't have." With his walls firmly back in place, Mitch continued. "Hell, the guy didn't flinch when I said we had his family. He was fine with us torturing and killing them until I showed him-"

"Hold on. You what?!" The empathy in her features was gone, replaced by a stone-faced anger that practically radiated heat in its intensity. "We are NOT-"

"I know that." He held a hand up to slow her, calm her somehow. "I know that, and you know that." The same hand pointed to the still-closed door across the way in the inn. "He doesn't know that."

"Y'eh were just supposed to get him to talk, not threaten torture!" Her words had calmed to an angry shout of a whisper, practically hissing the words as she continued. "I didn't send y'eh in there to threaten..." Ellebrius let the words wither away in her throat, taking a calming breath before continuing. "All right." Her breastplate rose and fell with each exhalation, almost as if it were a second skin to the woman. "Ah' don't tell y'eh how to get information, an' y'eh don't tell me how to worship. Ah' know."

"Just..." She paused, staring fixedly at the table before continuing. "... tell me that was the worst thing y'eh threatened him with." Her copper eyes marked him. "Can y'eh do that?"

"More or less, yeah." His own face remained blank, numb having already gone through what she was experiencing for the first time. "Threatening him didn't work, I had to take a different approach."

"Aye, supposing y'eh did." A single angry huff left her lips before the Paladin turned her attention back to him. "'Tinue."

"Right. So Bhavalus gets noticed by some people. They tap him to do some little shill jobs for them, sleep some guards, petty shit like that." Mitch turned pages as he spoke, stopping when he arrived at a page wholly unlike the ones before it. Broad strokes of heavy ink crisscrossed the paper like fault lines, accented with a myriad of smaller circles and diagrams notated in a sinister looking language.

"Tha' don't look like any petteh' shit there." Ellebrius was staring down at the page with concern, trying to make heads or tails out of it in the process.

"It isn't. This is dark stuff, and well beyond what anyone of his ability should be able to comprehend, let alone conduct. How's your Abyssal?" His eyes jumped from the page up to her.

The woman gave him a clueless smile. "Might be faster if y'eh walk me through it."

"It seems like something designed to send people, or at least their life energy.... somewhere? The wording is vague, almost like whoever made this wasn't told everything about it." Mitch's words trailed off as he continued to stare at the page, growing more unsure of the magic contained in it by the minute.

"Somewhere? Y'eh don't know?" Her eyes were going back and forth from the spellbook to the mage.

"Do you want to read it?!" He shot her an angry look, then deflated as she held up her hands in surrender.

"Not tryin' to make y'eh mad, y'eh just don't sound sure 'bout all o' this." She gestured a hand to the book, then grimaced at the writing for a moment. "Not tha' I'm blamin' y'eh. Nasty bus'nuss."

"It is." He shut the book angrily, pushing it towards her. "That can't be left alone. You know that, right?" Mitch met her eyes with no humor. "This can't go to some reliquary or church library, no matter what you think could be gained from it."

Ellebrius nodded. "Council won' be pleased ahm' destroyin' evidence." She chuffed. "Again. But if'n its got you spooked can't say as ahm sorry to burn it."

"Burn it until it won't burn anymore. I'm going to see what I can do to forget I ever saw it." Mitch started to push off from the bench, but a plate-covered hand caught his arm.

"Why are y'eh doin' that?" It was a question, but her words had a gravity unlike anything he had heard from her prior.

"Because whatever gave me the powers I have touched him as well. Me having the knowledge of that kind of magic in my mind is a liability." The mage turned back to her with a serious expression. "And if I retain it there is a chance more innocent people will die."

The Paladin nodded in understanding, releasing his arm. "So, one book well-done. Anythin' else?"

"His associates?"

"Took m'ah coin an' fucked off. Seemed happy to be free a'him." She smiled bleakly back at him. "Apparen' they weren't fans ah' their boss."

"Imagine that."

Ellebrius punched him in the side, then laughed as the Half-Elf doubled over in pain. After the ache subsided, Mitch seated himself on the bench once again.

"Family members?" He tilted his head back, taking a deep breath and trying not to vomit up his recent meal.

"Took m'ah coin an' fucked off as'well. Believe it or not, he wasn' popular with them either." She grinned, rubbing the hand that had punched him against her breastplate as if shining an apple.

"I believe it." Mitch felt his throat begin to relax as stew and ale slid back down into his stomach. "And Bhavalus?" He felt his eyes drawn to the closed door just as much as hers.

"Knows too much." The grin on her face died.

"Then bring him up on charges and hang him. Burn the remains so no one gets a chance to bring him back, find out what he knows." The mage felt the humor drain from his features as he spoke.

"Tha' shouldn' be hard. I tell the Council it's an apostate with dark magic an' the warrant'll write itself." Ellebrius raised her eyebrows to him. "An' y'er okay with this?"

"Why suggest it if I wasn't?" He looked at her confused.

"Well, with y'eh bein' like him an' all. I jus' thought-"

Without warning one of his hands raced forward, grabbing the collar of her breastplate and yanking the Paladin forward. Her copper eyes met his as the mage spoke in a low and furious whisper.

"I am cursed, as he is cursed. That does not make us kin, or even allies. I am not an apostate, and I am nothing like him.."

Whatever initial surprise Ellebrius felt when she was grabbed was gone, replaced by the unflinching resolve of a soldier. "Good t'eh hear." Her speech was quiet but hard, as unafraid of him as he seemed to be of her. "Jus' one problem."

"Which is?"

"How are y'eh gonna forget tha' spell?" Her gaze never wavered, never drew back from the threat. If there was a chance the mage would be turned against her the Paladin seemed unafraid. Almost prepared.

"I am going to drink until I forget I have these goddamn feet, let alone magic. By morning this will all just be another bad hangover." Little by little his grip on her armor relaxed, and the woman leaned back into a more comfortable sitting position. "And you are going to pay for me to do so."

"Am I now?" She managed a half-smirk, cocking one eyebrow to complete the look.

His hand fell away. "Yes you are, Lady Ellebrius of the House Uhrhammer, Holy and Righteous Paladin in the Service of Helm." His previously severe expression gave way to a self-assured grin.

She looked at him with the same smirk for a moment or so, then relented with a laugh. "Ah, go on with y'eh." She tossed a small pouch towards him and he caught it, looking inside it before pocketing it with a disappointed expression.

"Don' be givin' me tha' face! I don' want y'eh stumblin' into the room tryin' to make relations at me again. I'm a rare beaut, too precious for the likes a y'er fumblin' hands!" She mock pushed him away, laughing as she did it.

"That never happened." He drew the words out dismissively. "Besides, if anything it's you who can't resist me, my lady mine. More than once you've crawled into my bed asking me to hold you, how you're so cooooo~ld and loooon~ely-"

A second, heavier bag of coins flew from the table and struck him squarely in the face.

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Care Journal 2: Week 4
Sadie McCluckins -

Health: No real changes from previous entry. She's lost a few feathers here and there. No way of telling if it's molt this early, so I'll have to make a point of getting some supplements for her in the next major town. Thankfully the Chimera's flame didn't penetrate the roof of the wagon, or else she could have burned up entirely.

Note to Self: Find magic capable of making chicken fireproof. And iceproof. Lightning. Acid.

Amend note: Find magic capable of making chicken invincible and/or immortal.

Diet: No major changes. I caught her rooting in my pack the other evening, meaning that she now knows where the ration biscuits are. The little snot wasn't even sorry when I caught her, just looking at me with those little eyes and clucking softly.

Brat.

Social: Roshim can talk to chickens, apparently. I don't know if this is a Gnome thing, a Cleric thing, a Tymora thing, or... a Roshim thing. Sadly, I can't count any of those options out. She seems to like him well enough though, so until this little quirk of his causes harm I'm going to leave it alone.

He's also taken to the idea of making armor for Sadie, which is all fine and good so long as she never has to use it. I love the little feather duster, but if our collective fate falls to an armed and armored chicken we're already dead.

But hey, it gives Roshim a focus and it isn't hurting anything. Win-win until something changes. Until that time, I'll leave it be and start looking into a way to talk to Sadie the way he does.
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Tags: Chicken
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