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Out of the Dragon's maw... into another's !?!
So we can add 'Dragonsbane' to our list of honorifics - although, I got a strange sense of Deja-vu about that. The gargantuan white beast took out many of Draven Thornbolt's fine crew, though Varis and I were able to bring two of them back from the brink with a little Divine intercession. That eases my mind to some degree - this isn't their fight, though I noticed their cook acquitted himself quite heroically.

We continue on, and the lookout yells ‘sails’ - this turns out to be a a wrecked ship (the 'Wander', apparently - a whaling ship). We pass close enough to hail the ship, and get no response. We notice marks of a dragon attack, and no lifeboats left on it. As discuss whether there's anyone left to rescue, Blackwolf smells human & chickens on ship.

We grapple onto the ship, head to the front with ropes, and my blade quickly de-ices the doors. We open the passenger area, and find no one - it was looted (by giants, no doubt), but they left behind an emerald (worth 300gp), 20 silver pieces, and two pieces of scrimshaw (worth 10gp each).

Continuing on towards the back of the ship, in the hold, we find chickens, 4 goats, and the cook (Bor Medred). He is unconscious, and suffering from hypothermia. Varis is able to cure this, and we take him back to our ship. Apparently his vessel was having some difficulty with their hunt, due to giants in the area also taking whales. They must've ended up too far afield in their search, because they encountered a giant longship with a shackled dragon (sounds familiar) which wiped them out & looted them. Bor heard in bits and pieces that the dragon apparently didn't come back to the ship after the fight, much to the giants consternation.

We keep going, and were able to get in a long rest unhindered. On a sleety day, we again get a call of ‘Sails’ - a giant longship! They pass us by (possibly aided by some impromptu magic to hide us), and seem to be following a guiding device parallel with the shore to deeper waters (looking for another of Aramil's family?) Further out, we see a bigger iceberg, with a huge hole down to the water-line (with a giant black chain hanging out from it, and a giant frosted face above it). Our ship anchors at an iceberg and lets us off. Draven is only willing to stay for 24 hours - if we're not back by then, we'll have to find our own way home.

We come up with the following plan to surprise the giants: Anton casts water-walking, and we head straight there single-file (behind a minor illusion I keep up, of the area behind us) As we get closer, we see large arctic owls - might be dangerous if hostile. We get a better look of the giant face - a depiction of a giant ocean god. We get a bit of a scare about the possibility of giant sea creatures swimming below us (the area is known for them), but we make it safely to the iceberg (off to the side of the opening)

Around this time, a SECOND huge white dragon flies out of the cave in the direction we came from. We hear signs of battle, and then see it come back with Draven in its claw. I'm not optimistic about the rest of his crew, but it looks like we've got someone else to save. We use two upscaled Invisibility spells along with a Locate Object (targeting Aramil's signet ring), and then head into the cave (using ropes to stay together).

Peering around the edge, we see a large harbor inside with five giant longships and 1 normal ship (possibly of elvish make?). A giant staircase of ice seems to lead up to a huge ice castle, and below that is a wide, bloodstained beach (covered with whale bones). We cut across the bay inside the harbor, up the beach, along the edges and up the ramp towards the castle.

Peck squeezes under a door on the ramp, and finds three people frozen solid against the wall (no one we know). With a combination of Wildshape, Polymorph, and Dimension Door, we're all able to make it through the door quietly. We replace the invisibility spells and pass through another door, narrowly evading an axe-wielding Giant sentry. He seems to hear us, but we're able to sneak past him and then flatten up against the wall.

We make it to a 4-way intersection, leading to a kitchen and various shut doors. With our options seemingly limited, we continue straight (following the locate spell) to a locked door.
Peck picks the lock, which attracts the attention of the giants inside (note to self - good time for a Silence spell). We decide that the time for stealth is past, and engage the pair of giants in the room. The fight seems to be going well, but their yells of pain are attracting further attention. I square my shoulders and prepare for a long fight.
Session: Did that iceberg move? - Tuesday, Dec 12 2017 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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The Path to Brimhaven
'Crow lord'

As I approach Brimhaven I have acquired no information on cultists activities and will press on and hope for a lead in the town itself

The side job you issued me on the way here has been completed however

The sparrow will no longer be singing songs and any of your stolen tweets will not be reaching the ears of other birds, I will however need a clean up crew sent to the location where 'the sun rises and a new rock is born', of importance on his body is currency which bears a kraken insignia, in regards to solving this infiltration I would suggest you task the 'Boar' and his team to dealing with the traitors but as always your commands take precedence

I trust you will find this report satisfactory

Signed, The Mutt
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The Nightmare
Think, think… Running out of options…

Lark can feel her Zeon pool dwindling precariously, a sensation like desperate thirst in her soul. The reserves in the crest’s gem are gone. How many more blows can she deflect from her allies? Two, maybe? Will that buy them enough time to take down the monster, or should she save the energy to try and strike it again herself?

Who ARE these people? What is that thing? Where is this place?!

As her mind scrambles for a solution, a way out, the man and woman follow Lark’s flight path down the now-open walkway twenty feet below her. A hundred feet below that, fire in every direction. Not enough energy to use Flight again once, let alone twice…

The monster leaps down the path, landing inches behind the man and destroying half of the stone floor with it’s grotesque bladed arms.

It seemed to be weak to her Light magic. Perhaps…? But no, it’s too far. She’d have to get closer, into its range, and she would have no power left to defend herself…

The woman runs, leaps across the chasm, throwing herself directly onto the monster and plunging her daggers into the front of its body.

…It doesn’t matter. Lark can’t protect herself at the expense of these peoples’ lives. They may be strangers, but she won’t sacrifice them to this nightmare. She has to try.

Lark summons all the power she can muster as she flies closer: fifty, forty, thirty feet. The creature lunges for her as she casts the spell to Banish Shadows. Its flesh burns in the great burst of light, its faces scream.

But it doesn’t die.

Time seems to slow as the first boney scythe slashes towards her. She recoils, squeezing her eyes shut, throwing her hands up to shield her face. Suddenly a white-hot flash of pain shoots through her arm and she chokes on a scream. Her eyes fly open, but the image in her blurred vision doesn’t make sense; she can feel her hand hurting, more than she’s ever felt anything hurt before… but she can’t see it. All she sees is a wet red stain spreading down her sleeve under the exposed bones of her wrist.

Before she can scream again, the second scythe flashes, catches her in the ribs, and hurls her to the ground. Her vision goes black.

Lark floats in a haze of pain and darkness. What… Where am I? How long…? Whether hours or seconds had passed, she couldn’t tell. At some point she becomes aware of her Zeon reserves draining… She must be maintaining some spells, then. Had she set a light for the census team’s camp before she slept? No, they reached Brimhaven today, found that young boy, stayed in the tavern. Why did she hurt? …A monster, strange people…

Suddenly, a vision comes to her mind. A pair of beautiful eyes, shining a deep emerald-green, gaze into her own. The eyes blink, and from the right falls a verdant tear, leaving a jagged trail like a bolt of lightning. As the tear drops away, the vision fades, and suddenly Lark is shaken by a violent lurching sensation. A rushing sound fills her ears, then with a jolt she finds herself awake in her bed in Brimhaven’s tavern, drenched in cold sweat.

She lets out a faint cry at the searing pain still wracking her body, but when she finally manages to make her trembling fingers peel away her clammy nightclothes, she finds her skin is unmarked. Gradually, the pain subsides, and with some effort she slowly pulls herself up to a seated position. She hugs herself as she tries to catch her breath, shivering in the pre-dawn chill, until a soft knock at the door makes her jump.

“Miss Scarborough, are you alright?” Even muffled by the wooden door, Gabe’s quiet voice carries a note of concern.

Lark pulls a blanket from the bed to wrap around her shoulders before stumbling to the door. She opens it to see Gabe looking disheveled, his traveling coat thrown hastily over his own nightclothes, worry clear on his face even as he rubs the sleep from his eyes. He must have heard her shout from the neighboring room.

“Oh, um, yes… I’m sorry. I, uh, just had a…. a nightmare… I guess…” Her eyes have a distant, disquieted look about them, and she absently rubs her left hand with her right. She forces a weak smile. “I’m really sorry for waking you. I’m okay.”

Gabe frowns at her uneasy expression, but as a glimpse into her room reveals no apparent disturbance and Lark herself does indeed appear unharmed, he reluctantly nods. “Please don’t hesitate to call on me if you need any assistance. I’m just over here.” He starts to turn towards the indicated door, but then pauses and looks once more over Lark’s faintly trembling figure. “I have a calming spell that may help you sleep more restfully. Would you like me to try it for you?”

Lark opens her mouth to politely decline, but an image flashes in her mind of that great chamber full of blood and fire; the thought of finding herself back there makes her chest tighten. “Maybe… some rest would be good. So yes, please, if you don’t mind.”

Gabe looks relieved to be able to help. “Alright, try to relax…”

He lightly touches the top of Lark’s head as he casts his spell, and Lark feels an deep sense of calm fill her like the waters of a still pool. She sighs as the fear and tension melts away, then looks at Gabe with a more comfortable smile. “Thank you, Mister Graud.”

He dips his head, returning her smile with a small one of his own. “Think nothing of it, Miss Scarborough. I hope the morning will find you feeling better.”

She thanks him again and they return to their respective rooms, settling in for a few more hours rest before the census team is meant to regroup. Lark, feeling calm and clear-headed under Gabe’s spell, changes into a spare set of clothes and settles on the edge of her bed. Rather than sleeping, she conjures a small light, pulls a notebook from her bag, and proceeds to quickly write down every detail she can recall of the nightmare—the burning library, the obsidian tower, the roiling black sky, the stench of necromancy, the vanishing Dark wizard, the fist-fighter, the dagger-wielder. She sketches a few of the strange runes in the margins, and at the bottom of the page makes a rough drawing of the crying green eyes she saw just before waking. When she’s finished she puts her pencil away and reads over her jottings again, her gaze lingering on the eyes which she traces, thoughtfully, with her fingertips. Perhaps she should ask Elder Listair what he makes of it all in the morning. Then again, it was only a dream.

Surely, a dream…

She puts the book away, lies back down in her bed, and extinguishes the light. The room is reclaimed by darkness, and several minutes pass in inky silence stirred only by her own breath. Then, from somewhere in the village, the first soft trills of an eager songbird float to her window, and she knows the dawn is not far off. Lark closes her eyes and sinks into tranquil sleep.
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Tags: Journal , Lark , Personal , Recap
The Road to Brimhaven
“‘Peace magic’?” Lark’s bright eyes gleam with curiosity.

Gabe shifts his weight in the saddle and nods. “The art of pacifying and protecting. It isn’t a very popular path focus. It’s archaic, abstract… Not very flashy.” The older wizard’s features pinch in a faint grimace that suggests he is accustomed to unpopularity, but with a small shake of his head he regains his measured composure. “But it is more potent than many suspect; it is elegant in its simplicity, and has proved a boon in some of our assignments.”

Gwain, riding a short distance ahead, twists his heavily-armored torso to throw a grin and a friendly salute over his shoulder towards Gabe. “Saved my hide more than once, that’s for sure!” Gabe smiles slightly and dips his head towards the knight in acknowledgement.

Lark responds to Gabe with a cheerful laugh. “I know what you mean; I’ve been studying Knowledge magic for years!”

He looks at her in surprise. “Knowledge? Really?”

“Mm-hmm. I found a tome in the archives when I was… eleven? No, ten. Anyway, Professor Athens helped me analyze it and re-create some of the spells.” She reaches into her bag, pulls out one of her notebooks, and passes it over to Gabe. “Sometimes when I watch the kids practicing the Lower Elements, I feel a little envious because their magic is so tactile. My friend Cherise, for example, is focused in Air magic, and her spells all seem much more fun and practical than mine. Like, she showed me how she does her Flight spell once. It was amazing!” She briefly digresses, smiling enthusiastically at the memory. “But Light and Knowledge magics are both good for revealing interesting things, so they’re useful too. I’d like it if maybe someday I could join an archaeological expedition, maybe even help discover something completely new.”

Gabe’s eyebrows rise as he leafs through Lark’s study notes, each page filled with diagrams and annotations of magical theory in dense script. He glances over at the 15-year-old, with her earnest, unguarded demeanor and the soft blonde curls of a child, looking small atop her storm-grey horse. He had assumed that Lady Averland must have had compelling reasons to send such a young, inexperienced wizard out on official duty. Now he understood. After all, he had been just as eager, filled with purpose and passion, when he finished his own training early and started working as an agent of the college six years before.

His expression is warmer as he returns her notebook. “I think you’ll find many opportunities to make a difference out here.”

“I hope so,” she smiles, casting her gaze over the expansive plains, the green smudges of forest groves, the distant peaks of the Abel Mountains away to their right, as if expecting opportunities to appear on the horizon at any moment. She turns back to Gabe. “I am looking forwards to seeing your Peace magic in action.”

He chuckles. “Peace magic is only called for when natural peace fails. By the Lady’s favor, I hope I shall prove to be entirely useless on this mission.” He pauses, thinking, then calls to the fourth traveler, an aged man in distinguished robes riding near Gwain. “Elder Listair, would a small demonstration for our newest member be appropriate?” The old wizard smiles and nods, and Gabe turns back to Lark. “If you would like?”

At Lark’s eager agreement, Gabe murmurs his spell, gesturing in the air and drawing power from his internal reservoir of Zeon. At the last syllable, a pale aura radiates out from him, enveloping the entire party, and near each person’s body a pattern resembling an ethereal kite shield draws itself in the air in glowing white filigree. The shields circle their targets slowly, accompanied by drifting motes resembling shining goose down, then vanish seconds later as Gabe releases the magic and ends the spell. Gwain had glanced back at the sound of Gabe’s incantation, but gives no acknowledgement of the appearance or disappearance of the shields themselves.

“This spell is called the Shield of Salvation, and it—“ Gabe looks back to Lark, but finds that the young wizard has already begun gathering her own Zeon, concentrating intently as she meticulously mimics Gabe’s words and movements. In the next instant the shields materialize again before the three wizards’ Gifted eyes, but while Gabe’s spell had appeared seraphic in it’s exquisite detail and delicate purity, Lark’s is radiant; the lines are simpler but shine bright and golden and throw off iridescent sparks like a crystal in the sunlight.

The spell ends and she turns to Gabe with a smile again. “How was that?”

Gabe blinks, and after a silent moment shares a glance with Listair up ahead. The elderly wizard’s eyes twinkle. A smile tugs at Gabe’s lips as he returns his attention to Lark, nodding in approval. “I think you will do very well indeed.”
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Tags: backstory , Journal , Lark
Confessions of Ishketh Gloryheart - Whispers in the Dark
Kelemvor keep my soul, for I have now seen the darkness that lies beyond the stars, and what awaits me upon my death should I fail...

My Lord's Alliance brother, Revekeus, and I had a simple task: travel to Fort Beluarian to acquire our Charter of Expedition and to connect with my contact, Liara Portyr. It proved to be anything but simple, and has shaken even my stalwart faith.

Where to begin? I know that you, Judge of the Dead, watched over me in my travels and witnessed my deeds. I will not waste your time, Wise Kelemvor, with the details of that 5-day trek through the wet grasslands guided by the good-hearted Qawasha. We saw many strange creatures, a giant snail, some gentle dinosaurs, and some not-so-gentle, enormous insects. None of these challenges, both of my temperament and my steel, proved difficult for two men of faith in a strange land. Not even the grizzly remains of a man butchered and tortured by indigenous goblins could phase us.

The plants and animals of this place make me wonder which gods had their hand in their design. Plants that can eat a man, wasps the size of a wolf, curious sprites that play games and dislike metal. I shall consult the high priests in Baldur's Gate should I ever see that glorious city again.

Arriving at the keep was a blessing, and I thanked not only you, Keeper of the Gates, but also Helm for his protection. To have a dry bed and a roof over my head was such a boon. The ordered nature of the fort reminded me of home, and the mission that I am on. All the world should be so housed, safe and secure.

Commander Portyr was able to provide us with our Charter, free of charge, in exchange for taking care of the local undead threat. As if I needed payment to partake in such a quest! We gladly accepted, bringing Qawasha and 6 fine soldiers - some Chultan, some from Baldur's Gate like myself. We are lead by a strange, and treasonous little frog-person named Wadumu. The little worm - I hope your judging hands find him soon.

Our small company is lead into the jungle and toward the ruins of an ancient city, Bulobo. It was easy enough to find - our guides were quite skilled. The center of the ruin had an obelisk and several small pillars, each with a panel and symbol. We were provided a riddle, a series of descriptions informing us the sequence we must press. Fortunately, the puzzle was simple enough that even someone of mental ability...could solve it.

While investigating the ruin, Revekeus discovered remains of several dead men, which came to life! These were not ordinary dead - a sinister plant creature had animated them. We struggled against these monsters, and the intoxicating pollen of the sinister plant, all while trying to press the sequence to complete the puzzle.

The noble soldiers we brought fought well. The numbers of the dead seemed endless. I held the faith, I brought the light. Revekeus and his Omega Squad proved deadly and vital - while fending off many dead, they started enacting the puzzle sequence. It fell to myself and Bo'ana, a former coconut tree climber turned warrior, to press the last buttons.

We did our duty. But Bo'ana and one of Omega squad fell to the dead. They sacrificed themselves so the rest of us could make it into the fain below the ruin.

The fain was a den of evil. A vile sorceress and servant of Dendar the Night Serpent, Shasskatar, had made it her lair. Her evil magics had been animating the dead nearby, making them aggressive. She attempted to turn me against my allies, to confuse my mind - but my faith was stronger. While Revekeus attempted to distract her and rob her of her power by stealing gems from the nearby edifice, I stood toe-to-toe with the creature, along with our noble allies.

We eventually won the day, but at a terrible price. The sorceress claimed the lives of all but myself, Revekeus, Qawasha, and one soldier, using her terrible dark magic. She also gave me a horrific vision - a consuming sight of Dendar the Night Serpent's coming. His power was overwhelming, his victory all-encompassing.

It was in that moment, Kelemvor save me, that my faith faltered. The darkness that I saw sits with me even now. It's like a chilling fog twisting its way through the early morning streets of Baldur's Gate.

I must not let this darkness crush me. We are all the mortar that strengthens the bricks of the Walled Garden. The soldiers that died thwarting the sorceress, and any others that die on this journey, and even myself - it cannot be for nothing, it cannot all end in darkness and madness. I fear that I will toil my whole life to build the Walled Garden, just to watch it topple and burn.

Kelemvor, Helm, Torm - watch over me, and us all. Dark times are upon us.
Session: Off to Fort Beluarian - Friday, Dec 08 2017 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Epic × 2!
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